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Title: Allworth Abbey
Author: Southworth, Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Allworth Abbey" ***

                            ALLWORTH ABBEY.


                     MRS. EMMA D. E. N. SOUTHWORTH.


          “There is probation to decree,
          Many and long must the trials be;
          But she’ll victoriously endure,
          For her love is true and her faith is sure.

                  “Sunrise will come next!
          The shadow of the night will pass away!
          The glory and the grandeur of each dream
          And every prophecy shall be fulfilled.”—_Browning._

                       T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS,
                          306 CHESTNUT STREET.

        Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by
                        T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS,
 In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States, in and
                             for the Eastern
                        District of Pennsylvania.


                      MRS. FANNIE M^CDONALD MEAD,

                              OF NEW YORK,

                        THIS WORK IS DEDICATED,

                       AS A SLIGHT TESTIMONIAL OF



                              THE AUTHOR,

                        E. D. E. N. SOUTHWORTH.

                                                       PROSPECT COTTAGE.

  _November 25th, 1865._



                              CHAPTER I.
                THE FEARFUL WARNING,                 25

                              CHAPTER II.
                HORRIBLE SUSPICIONS,                 34

                             CHAPTER III.
                THE BRIDE OF HEAVEN,                 46

                              CHAPTER IV.
                THE ACCUSATION,                      57

                              CHAPTER V.
                THE ARREST,                          66

                              CHAPTER VI.
                THE UNDERGROUND PASSAGE,             81

                             CHAPTER VII.
                THE FLIGHT,                          90

                             CHAPTER VIII.
                ANNELLA,                            106

                              CHAPTER IX.
                THE CHAMBER OF DEATH,               116

                              CHAPTER X.
                THE STUBBORN WITNESS,               130

                              CHAPTER XI.
                THE YOUNG RUNAWAY,                  141

                             CHAPTER XII.
                THE ANCHORAGE,                      152

                             CHAPTER XIII.
                AN APPARITION,                      164

                             CHAPTER XIV.
                THE FUGITIVE RETAKEN,               178

                              CHAPTER XV.
                IN PRISON,                          195

                             CHAPTER XVI.
                THE MYSTERIES OF EDENLAWN,          207

                             CHAPTER XVII.
                THE STRANGE INTERVIEW,              217

                            CHAPTER XVIII.
                FATHER AND DAUGHTER,                230

                             CHAPTER XIX.
                “TRUST IN HEAVEN,”                  251

                              CHAPTER XX.
                THE FEARFUL SECRET,                 263

                             CHAPTER XXI.
                THE TRIAL,                          279

                             CHAPTER XXII.
                THE CONVICTION,                     291

                            CHAPTER XXIII.
                THE CONDEMNED,                      301

                             CHAPTER XXIV.
                DESPAIR,                            313

                             CHAPTER XXV.
                THE APPEAL OF DESPAIR,              327

                             CHAPTER XXVI.
                THE MYSTERIOUS PLAN OF ESCAPE,      340

                            CHAPTER XXVII.
                A YOUNG HEROINE,                    349

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.
                THE READING OF THE DEATH-WARRANT,   362

                             CHAPTER XXIX.
                PREPARATION FOR DEATH,              375

                             CHAPTER XXX.
                THE BURNING PRISON,                 393

                             CHAPTER XXXI.
                ANNELLA’S RETURN,                   398

                            CHAPTER XXXII.
                THE WRECK AND THE DISCLOSURE,       400

                            CHAPTER XXXIII.
                THE DENOUEMENT,                     408

                            ALLWORTH ABBEY.

                               CHAPTER I.
                          THE FEARFUL WARNING.

           “She stood once more in the halls of pride,
           And the light of her beauty was deified,
           And she seemed to the eyes of men a star,
           Lovely but lonely—flashing but far.

           “She fixed his gaze with her fearful spell,
           And the book from his failing fingers fell;
           While her low voice hissed in his shuddering ear,
           ‘We’ve met at last, slave! Dost thou fear?’”

A few years only have elapsed since the public mind was electrified by
the discovery of a strange tissue of crimes, through which had perished
within the space of twelve months every member of a noble family, and in
which was implicated the honor of one of England’s haughtiest peers and
the life of one of her loveliest daughters, and finally, which added a
recent and thrilling domestic drama to those ancient histories and
ghostly traditions that have long rendered ALLWORTH ABBEY the resort of
the curious, and the terror of the ignorant and the superstitious.

The principal circumstances were made sufficiently public at the time of
the discovery; some at least of the guilty parties were brought to
justice, and the effigy of the chief criminal may even now be seen in a
certain celebrated “Room of Horrors.” But much also remained enveloped
in mystery, for, underlying the bare facts that were openly proved,
there was a secret history, stranger, more atrocious and more appalling,
even, than those ruthless crimes for which the convicted felons

The knowledge of this secret history came to me in a singular manner;
and with the purpose of showing over what fatal pitfalls the most
innocent feet may sometimes stray, I proceed to relate the story,
entreating my readers to remember, amidst its strangest revelations,
that “nothing is so strange as reality,” and nothing more incredible
than truth:—

ALLWORTH ABBEY, the scene of these events, is one of the most ancient
monuments of monastic history left standing in the United Kingdom. The
precise date of its foundation is lost in the dimness of far-distant
ages, and remains to this day a disputed point among learned

It is a vast and gloomy pile of Gothic architecture, situated at the
bottom of a deep and thickly-wooded glen, surrounded by high hills, that
even at noonday cast a sombre shadow over the whole scene, which is one
of the wildest, loneliest, and most picturesque to be found on the
northwest coast of England. The surrounding country may be called
mountainous, from the imposing height of the hills, and the profound
depth of the vales.

Nothing can be more secluded, solitary, and sombre than the aspect of
this place. The grim old Abbey, lurking at the bottom of its deep dell,
reflected dimly in its dark lake, overshadowed by its tall trees, and
closely shut in by high hills, is just the object to depress and awe the
beholder, even though he never may have heard the fearful stories
connected with the place.

Allworth Abbey is rich in historical associations and traditional lore.
Its cloisters have sheltered kings; its walls have withstood sieges; it
possesses its haunted cell, its spectre monk and phantom maiden.

In the reign of Henry the Church-burner and Wife-killer, Allworth Abbey
was the home of a rich fraternity of Benedictine monks. And at the time
of that tremendous visitation of wrath which overswept the land, when

                  “The ire of an infuriate king
                  Rode forth upon destruction’s wing,”

Allworth Abbey was besieged and sacked by a party of soldiers under Lord
Leaton, a baron of ancient lineage in the North of England, and of great
merit in the estimation of King Henry Bluebeard. The abbot was slain at
the altar, the brethren were put to the sword, the Abbey was given to
the flames, and the lands conferred by the King upon the conqueror.

Lord Leaton rebuilt the ruined portions of the Abbey, adapted it as a
family residence, and constituted it the principal seat of his race, in
whose possession it remained from that time until the date of those
strange household mysteries that I am about to disclose.

The last male representative of the Leatons of Allworth was Henry, Lord
Leaton, whose name has since become so painfully memorable. With an
ancient title, an ample fortune, a handsome person, well-cultivated
mind, and amiable disposition, he married, early in life, a fair woman,
every way worthy of his affections. Their union was blest by one child,
Agatha, “sole daughter of his house,” who, at the opening of this story,
had just attained her eighteenth year.

It is scarcely possible for a human being to be happier than was Lord
Leaton at this time. In the prime of his manly life, blessed with a fair
wife in the maturity of her matronly beauty, and a lovely daughter, just
budding into womanhood, endowed with an ancient title, an immense
fortune, and a wide popularity, Lord Leaton was the most contented man
in England.

It was not even a drawback to his happiness that there was no male heir
to his titles and estates, for in Malcolm Montrose, the betrothed of his
daughter, he had found a son after his own heart.

Malcolm Montrose, and Norham, his younger brother, were the sons of Lord
Leaton’s half sister, who had married a poor but proud Scotch laird.
Their parents were now both dead. From their father they had inherited
little more than an ancient name, a ruined tower, and a blasted heath.
It was therefore only by the assistance of Lord Leaton, that Malcolm was
enabled to enter the University of Oxford, and Norham to obtain a
commission in the army.

It was the high character of Malcolm Montrose that commended him so
favorably to the esteem of Lord Leaton, and induced his lordship to
promote the betrothal between that young gentleman and the young heiress
of Allworth; for be it known that the engagement was rather of Lord
Leaton’s making than of the young pair’s seeking.

They loved each other as brother and sister, nor dreamed of the
possibility of a stronger affection. They had naturally and easily
glided into the views of Lord and Lady Leaton, and had at length
plighted their hands, in perfect good faith, if not with the passionate
love of which neither young heart had as yet any experience. One of the
conditions of the betrothal was, that upon his marriage with the
heiress, Malcolm Montrose should assume the name and arms of Leaton. It
was also hoped that, in the event of the death of Lord Leaton, his
son-in-law might obtain the reversion of the title.

It was soon after this solemn betrothal, that took place in the spring
of 185–, that Malcolm Montrose took leave of his friends, and left
England for an extended tour of the Continent.

Up to this time the life of Lord Leaton and his family had been one of
unbroken sunshine. From this time the clouds began to darken around

On the day succeeding the departure of Malcolm, Lord Leaton received a
letter from India, informing him of the death of his younger brother,
who had left England many years previous to seek his fortune under the
burning sun of Hindostan. The large fortune he had apparently found was
the love of a beautiful native girl, whom he had secretly married, and
who, in ten months after, in the same hour, made him a widower and the
father of a female infant—the little Eudora, who, under her father’s
care, had managed to grow up even in that deadly climate. But now that
father had fallen a victim to the fatal fever of the country, and his
daughter Eudora was left destitute.

Lord Leaton had been too long separated from his brother to feel keenly
his death; his fraternal affection took a more practical turn than
grief; he lost no time in procuring a proper messenger to send out to
India for the purpose of bringing back his niece, who, as the only child
of his sole brother, was, after Agatha, the heiress-presumptive of his

As soon as Lord Leaton had despatched his messenger, he set out with his
family to visit Paris. They took the first floor of a handsome house in
a fashionable quarter of the city; but the circumstance of their being
in mourning for Lord Leaton’s brother caused them to live in great

This was about the time that the concerted revolution in the Papal
States had been discovered and suppressed, and when some of the noblest
Romans had fallen on the scaffold, and others had been driven into
exile. Among those whose fate excited the liveliest sympathy were the
Prince and Princess Pezzilini. The prince fell gloriously in the cause
of civil and religious liberty, and the princess was said to have
perished in the flames when the Palace Pezzilini was burned by the mob.
This was the common talk of Paris when Lord Leaton and his family
arrived there.

It was within a few days after their settlement in their apartments,
that the attention of Lord and Lady Leaton was attracted by a lady who
frequently passed them on the grand staircase. She was a tall,
fine-formed, fair woman, of great beauty, clothed in mourning, and
wearing the aspect of the profoundest sorrow. No one could have seen her
without becoming interested—no one could have passed her without a
backward glance. She was sometimes attended by a stout,
dark-complexioned, middle-aged man, whose manner towards her seemed half
way between that of a good uncle and a faithful and trusted domestic.

The feminine curiosity of Lady Leaton had been so much excited by this
mysterious lady and her strange attendant, that she had at length
inquired about her of the old portress of the house. And it was from
that garrulous personage Lady Leaton learned to her astonishment that
the beautiful stranger was no other than the Princess Pezzilini, who had
_not_ perished in the burning Palace of Pezzilini, but who had made her
escape with the assistance of a faithful servant, Antonio Mario, who,
for her better security, had circulated the report of her death, while
he bore her off to France. She was now living on the fourth floor of
that house, in great poverty and seclusion, attended only by her
faithful servant, Antonio Mario.

So much Lady Leaton learned from the portress; but she lost no time in
delicately seeking the acquaintance of the beautiful and unfortunate

She found the Princess Pezzilini very accessible to respectful sympathy.
She learned from her some further particulars of her history—among other
matters, that she had succeeded in securing from the burning palace a
box of valuable family documents and a casket of costly family jewels.
As, however, these jewels were heirlooms, she was unwilling to part with
the least one of them until extreme want should actually compel her to
do so; hence with almost boundless wealth at her command, she chose to
live in poverty and privation. This was her story.

The lively imagination of Lady Leaton was affected by her beauty,
sensibility and accomplishments. The good and benevolent heart of Lord
Leaton was touched by her misfortunes, her courage, and her resignation.
And the end of it was that they invited her to return with them to
England, and make Allworth Abbey her home until the clouds that lowered
over her House should be dispersed, and the sun should shine forth

They spent the autumn in Paris, and returned to Allworth Abbey just in
time to prepare for Christmas.

And it was on Christmas-eve that the messenger to India returned,
bringing with him Eudora Leaton. It was evening, and the family circle
of Allworth Abbey, consisting of Lord and Lady Leaton, Miss Leaton, and
the Princess Pezzilini, were assembled in the drawing-room, when Eudora
was announced.

She entered, and her extreme beauty at once impressed the whole company.

It was a beauty that owed nothing to external circumstances, for she had
arrived weary, sorrowful, and travel-stained; yet it was a beauty that
sank at once into the very soul of the beholder, filling him with a
strange delight. She was of medium height, and slender yet well-rounded
form. Her graceful little head was covered with shining, jet-black
ringlets, that fell around a face lovely as ever haunted the dream of
poet or painter. Her features were regular; her complexion was a pure,
clear olive, deepening into a rich bloom upon the oval cheeks, and a
richer still upon the small full lips; her eyebrows were perfect arches
of jet, tapering off to the finest points at the extremities; her eyes
were large, dark and liquid, and fringed by the longest and thickest
black lashes; her nose was small and straight; her mouth and chin
faultlessly carved; her throat, neck and bust were rounded in the
perfect contour of beauty; the whole outline of her form was ineffably
beautiful. A poet would have said that her most ordinary motions might
have been set to music, but to no music more melodious than the tones of
her voice.

Such was the beautiful young Asiatic that stood trembling before her
strange English relatives in the drawing-room of Allworth Abbey on

Lord Leaton was the first to arise and greet her.

“Welcome to England, my dearest Eudora,” he said, embracing her fondly;
“think that you have come to your own home, and to your own father and
mother, for after our daughter Agatha we shall love you best of all the
world, as after her, you know, you are the next heiress of our name and

“Dear uncle, give me but a place in your heart next to my cousin Agatha,
and—let the rest go,” said Eudora, in a voice vibrating with emotion.

Lord Leaton then formally presented his niece to her aunt and cousin,
and to the Princess Pezzilini, all of whom received the beautiful young
stranger with the utmost kindness and courtesy.

Agatha, in particular, seemed delighted with the acquisition of a
congenial companion in her charming Indian cousin.

The evening passed delightfully; but for the sake of the weary
traveller, the family party supped and separated at an unusually early

It was soon after Lady Leaton had retired to her dressing-room that she
heard a light tap at her door, and to her surprised exclamation of “Come
in,” entered the Princess Pezzilini.

“You will pardon me for intruding upon you at this hour, but you know
what great reason I have to be devoted to your service, Lady Leaton, and
you know the force of my faith in presentiments. It is a presentiment
that forces me to your presence to-night,” said the princess in a
mournful voice.

“Madame, I thank you earnestly for the interest you deign to take in my
welfare; but—I do not understand you,” said Lady Leaton, in surprise.

“And I do not understand myself; but I must speak, for the power of
prophecy is upon me! Lady Leaton, _beware of that Asiatic girl_!”

“Madame!” exclaimed Lady Leaton, in extreme surprise.

“Yes, I know what you would say: she is your niece, the daughter of your
husband’s brother. But I tell you that she is of the treacherous, cruel,
and deadly Indian blood! I have watched her thoughts through this
evening. I noted her look when Lord Leaton told her that she was the
next heiress after Agatha. And I tell you that the gaze of the deadly
cobra-di-capella of her native jungles is not more fatal than the glance
of that Indian girl!”

“Madame, in the name of Heaven, what mean you?” exclaimed Lady Leaton,
in vague alarm.

The voice of the princess sank to its deepest tones, as she answered:

“The deadly upas-tree of the Indies suffers nothing to live in its dread
neighborhood. If you could transplant such a tree from an Indian plain
to a fair English park, as it should grow and thrive, all beautiful life
would wither under its poisonous breath, until nothing should remain but
a blasted desert, and the deadly upas-tree should be all in all! Lady
Leaton, beware of the young Indian sapling transplanted to your fair
English park!”

“Madame, you frighten me!” exclaimed Lady Leaton.

“No; I only mean to warn you! I spoke from an irresistible impulse. And
having spoken, I have no more to say but to bid you good-night,” said
the Italian, lifting the hand of Lady Leaton to her lips, and then
withdrawing, and leaving her ladyship plunged in deep thought.

                              CHAPTER II.
                          HORRIBLE SUSPICIONS.

                          The raven himself is hoarse
                That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
                Under my battlements.—_Shakspeare._

The beautiful Asiatic girl soon won her way into every heart in the
household. No one could meet the soft, appealing gaze of her large,
dark, Oriental eyes, or hear the plaintive tones of her low, deep, sweet
voice, without feeling powerfully drawn towards her. No one could be
with her long without seeing that the angel form was tenanted by an
angel spirit, too.

Eudora became the darling of the household. And yet, from all events
that quickly followed, it would seem that the previsions of the Princess
Pezzilini had been true.

First of all the father of the family, Lord Leaton, a man in the early
prime of life and the full enjoyment of the finest health, sickened with
a strange disease that baffled all the skill and science of his medical
attendants. The most competent nurses were engaged to take their turns
day and night at his bedside.

The ladies of the family also vied with each other in their attentions
to the invalid. But it was observed that in his moments of greatest
suffering, he would bear no one to approach him except his niece Eudora.

This might be explained by the circumstances that Eudora’s presence was
very soothing, her step was noiseless, her motions smooth, her touch
soft, her voice low, and her gaze gentle; and all this had a very
calming and subduing effect upon the irritable invalid. And thus Eudora
became almost a fixture beside his couch. And all who loved Lord Leaton
were grateful to the gentle girl, who patiently resigned her daily
recreations and her nightly repose to devote herself to him.

All except the Princess Pezzilini, who was observed to shake her head
and murmur to herself—

“The fascination of the cobra-di-capella!”

But no one paid attention to the murmured remarks of the lady,
especially as even she herself did not escape the charms of Eudora’s
presence, but frequently fell under the sweet spell that bound all
hearts to the beautiful girl.

At length, one night, Eudora, worn out with fatigue, was ordered to go
to her bed. She mixed the sleeping-draught for her uncle, put it in the
hands of her aunt, and retired to her room. Lady Leaton was left alone
to watch by the bedside of her husband.

She sat the sleeping potion down upon a stand near the head of the bed,
until Lord Leaton should awake from the light doze into which he had
fallen, and she went out to her dressing-room to change her dress for a
warmer wrapper, in which to sit up and watch the invalid.

It was while she stood before the looking-glass which was opposite the
door and reflected a portion of the adjoining room, that Lady Leaton saw
the shadow of a female figure glide along the wall, and at the same
moment heard the rustle of a silk dress.

She immediately turned and entered the chamber, but found no one there.
Lord Leaton had just awakened and turned over.

“Has any one been here?” inquired her ladyship.

“No one at all,” he answered.

“It was fancy, then,” muttered the lady to herself, as she gave the
sleeping-draught to her husband.

He drank it to the dregs; yet it did not seem to produce the usual
effects. The patient could not get to sleep; on the contrary, he grew
more and more restless, and soon became violently ill.

Lady Leaton, in alarm, aroused the servants, and despatched a messenger
to Poolville, the adjoining village, for their medical attendant, who
immediately hastened to the bedside of his patient. But the utmost skill
of the physician was unavailing, for, before morning, Lord Leaton

It was then that the medical attendant felt it his duty to declare to
the grieving widow that her husband had died from the effects of a
virulent poison, and to demand an investigation by the coroner’s jury.

This would have been a terrible blow to Lady Leaton could she have been
made to receive it. But she indignantly repudiated the idea.

What, _he_ poisoned?—_he_, Lord Leaton, who was so kind-hearted that he
would not have crushed a worm in his path, or killed a wasp that stung
him?—_he_, who was so universally beloved and honored that he had not
one enemy in the wide world?—_he_, in whose premature death no one could
have a benefit, but in whose beneficent life thousands possessed the
deepest interest?—_he_ taken off by foul means? The idea was too
preposterous as well as too dreadful to believe.

No; the horror of such a suspicion was not added to the unspeakable
sorrow of the widow.

But, as the doctor was firm in his purpose of having a _post-mortem_
examination and a coroner’s inquest, of course both had to be held.
Nothing decisive, however, was elicited. No trace of poison was found
either in the body of the deceased or in the glasses from which he had
drank, or anywhere else.

The single suspicious circumstance of Lady Leaton’s seeing the shadow of
a female on the wall, and hearing the rustle of a silk dress in her
husband’s chamber, was disproved by a separate examination of each
member of the household, in which it was clearly shown that every one
was at that hour in bed. And Lady Leaton herself admitted that her
imagination might have deceived her. The verdict of the coroner’s
inquest, therefore, was that the deceased died from natural causes.

Lord Leaton had died too suddenly to have made a will, but his wishes
were so well understood by Lady Leaton, that she lost no time in
carrying them into effect. She wrote to Rome to Malcolm Montrose,
informing him of the sudden death of his uncle, and requesting him to
come immediately to England. She wrote, also, to Norham Montrose, who
was absent with his regiment in Ireland, giving him the same fatal
intelligence, and inviting him to join his brother at Allworth Abbey by
a certain day.

Malcolm, though the farthest from the scene of action, was the first to
obey the summons. He hastened to England, and, without resting a single
night on his journey, hurried to Allworth Abbey.

It was near the close of a stormy day in March that he got out of the
stage-coach at Abbeytown, and leaving his luggage to the care of the
landlord of the “Leaton Arms,” set out to walk the short distance to the
Abbey. He reached the top of the eastern range of hills that surrounded
the Abbey just as the sun, setting behind the western hills, cast the
whole dell into deep shadow.

Never had the aspect of that sombre place seemed so gloomy and
depressing. The huge collection of buildings comprising the Abbey
lurking at the bottom of the deep dell, reflected dimly in its dark
lake, overshadowed by its gigantic old trees, enclosed by its lofty
hills, and cast into the deepest shade by the sinking of the sun behind
those hills, was well calculated to awe the traveller, even though he
might not have—as Malcolm had—a personal and tragic interest in the

A few moments he spent in contemplating the picture, and then rapidly
descended the precipitous path leading down to the bottom of the dell.
At the foot of the precipice was the gamekeeper’s lodge and the
principal park gate. He passed this, and took the straightest line to
the Abbey.

He passed one more gate and entered the grounds, immediately around the
house. A short walk brought him to the outer banks of the shaded lake.
An avenue of elms swept right and left around this lake and led up to
the centre front entrance to the Abbey. He took the right-hand walk, and
proceeding at a rapid pace, soon found himself before the main entrance.

Here the first object that arrested his attention was the funeral
hatchment suspended over the doorway. A sigh was given to the memory of
his uncle, and then he went up the broad stairs, and knocked at the
great folding oak door of the main entrance. It was opened by the aged
porter, who welcomed him respectfully, and ushered him at once into the
library, while he went to announce the arrival to the widowed Lady

While waiting the entrance of his hostess, Malcolm Montrose strolled to
the front window and looked out upon the scene—the dark lake immediately
under the walls of the Abbey, rendered darker still by the overhanging
branches of its encircling trees, and the lofty sides of its surrounding
hills, behind which the full moon was now rising.

While Malcolm gazed moodily upon the scene, his attention was attracted
by a female form, clothed in black and gliding like a spirit among the
trees, that bordered the still lake. He could not at first see her face,
but the ineffable grace of her movements fascinated his eyes to follow
her every motion. At length she turned, and he caught an instant’s
glimpse of a dark face, which, even in that uncertain light, he fancied
to be as beautiful as that of the fable houri. The beauty disappeared in
the thicker foliage of the evergreens, and Malcolm Montrose turned to
greet his aunt, who now entered.

Lady Leaton was a woman of commonplace, agreeable personality,
middle-aged, large, fat and fair in body, conscientious, discreet, and
affectionate in mind. She entered the room now, with her portly form
dressed in widow’s weeds, and her fair, round face encircled by a
widow’s cap. Her eyes were suffused with tears, and her voice was broken
with grief, as she advanced, held out her hand, and welcomed Malcolm
Montrose to Allworth Abbey.

A short and agitated conversation sufficed to put Malcolm in possession
of the facts with which the reader is already acquainted; and of the
result of this interview it is only necessary to say that Malcolm
Montrose entirely coincided in opinion with Lady Leaton and with the
verdict of the coroner’s jury, in supposing that the late Lord Leaton
had died of some obscure disease, and not, as the doctor had believed,
of poison. It was a great relief to Lady Leaton to find that one so
clear-headed and true-hearted as Malcolm Montrose took the same views of
the case with herself.

At the close of the interview she rang for a servant to show him to his
room, where he might change his dress for dinner.

The chamber to which he was shown was situated immediately over the
library, and its front bay window overlooked the same scene.
Involuntarily Malcolm sauntered to the window and looked forth upon the
night. The moon was now so high in the heavens that its face was
reflected even in the shrouded mirror of the dark lake. As he looked
forth he saw the same beautiful female figure emerge from the thicket
and disappear in the direction of the house. She had evidently entered
the building.

Malcolm turned away as though there was no longer any attraction in the
moonlight on the shrouded lake, and turned to give his attention to old
John, the valet of the late Lord Leaton, who stood ready to assist the
young man in making his toilet.

When Malcolm Montrose had refreshed himself with a wash and a change of
dress, and stood ready to descend to the drawing-room, he presented in
himself one of the noblest specimens of manly beauty.

He was at this time about twenty-five years of age, tall and finely
proportioned, broad-shouldered, deep-chested and strong-limbed. His head
was stately, well poised, and covered with rich, dark, auburn hair that
waved around a high, broad, white, forehead. His features were of the
noblest Roman cast; his complexion was fair and ruddy, and his eyes of a
clear, deep blue. His presence was imposing as that of one born to
command; his manners were at once gracious and dignified, and his
conversational powers brilliant and profound. He was one of those
masterpieces of creation, one of those magnetic men who attract and
control without any effort.

When Malcolm Montrose entered the crimson drawing-room he found it
already brilliantly lighted up for the evening, and amid its glitter of
light and glow of color three fair women were revealed. The first, who
was his aunt, Lady Leaton, arose and led him up to the other two, who
immediately riveted his attention.

Reclining languidly in an easy-chair sat a fair girl, with a delicate
complexion, dark-grey eyes, and light brown hair confined in a net of
black silk.

Standing on her right hand, and bending affectionately over her, was a
large, tall, finely-formed, fair-haired woman, whose ample dress of
black velvet fell around her majestic figure like the robes of a queen
or the drapery of a goddess.

“Madame, permit me to present to you my nephew, Mr. Montrose, of
Dun-Ellen; the Princess Pezzilini, Mr. Montrose,” said Lady Leaton,
respectfully presenting Malcolm to the stranger.

Malcolm bowed deeply and reverently, and expressed himself honored in
making the acquaintance of the widow of the heroic Prince Pezzilini.

The lady, on her part, raised her stately head, smiled sweetly, curtsied
silently, and immediately resumed her attention to the young girl in the
chair. But in that single glimpse of her full face, Malcolm saw that she
was of that rarest and strangest type of Italian beauty, a perfect
blonde—fair, as though she had been born under the cool, damp fogs of
England, instead of the burning sun of Italy; and, indeed, if the land
of her birth had given her any of its fire, it was only to be seen in
the warm and glowing smile that occasionally lighted up her face and
beamed from her clear blue eyes.

Malcolm took in all these impressions during the few moments that were
occupied in his presentation, and then he turned to greet the young lady
in the easy-chair—his cousin Agatha.

He saluted her gravely and affectionately, as befitted the serious
occasion of their meeting, and then, observing for the first time the
extreme delicacy of her face and form, and the languor of her attitude
and manner, Malcolm looked uneasy, and expressed a fear that she had
been indisposed.

“No, she is not indisposed; that is, not seriously so; but she has not
seemed quite well or strong since—since our great bereavement,” answered
Lady Leaton, concluding the sentence in a faltering voice.

“Not well; no, indeed!” thought Malcolm, as he gazed with concern upon
the fair, wan, spiritual face and fragile form of her whom he had left
but a few months before the very picture of perfect health. “Not well,
yet not seriously indisposed!” Was it possible that this great change
could have come over Agatha so gradually that its effects should have
escaped the eyes of even her own affectionate mother? Such must have
been the case, was the thought of Malcolm, as he held the thin and
wasted hand of the young girl in his own, and resolved that upon the
next day he would certainly call the attention of Lady Leaton to the
fearful change that, though it might have escaped the notice of those in
daily communion with the invalid, while their attention had been
absorbed by matters of such transcendent importance as the illness and
death of Lord Leaton, yet was, withal, so marked and so alarming as to
have shocked him who had left her six months before in full and blooming

While these thoughts engaged the mind of Malcolm, a soft footstep
approached, and Lady Leaton spoke, saying—

“My niece, Eudora, Mr. Malcolm.”

Malcolm raised his eyes carelessly.

Yes, there she stood! the beautiful girl whose graceful form he had
followed with a delighted gaze as she glided among the trees upon the
banks of the dark lake. There she stood, in the perfect loveliness of
her Oriental charms, one of Mohammed’s fabled houris descended upon the
earth. There she stood—her elegant little figure drawn up to its full
height, her graceful head slightly bent upon her bosom, her jet-black
ringlets falling around her rich, warm, olive face, with its slender,
arched eyebrows, its large, dark, burning eyes, and its crimson cheeks
and lips.

Only to look upon such beauty was a keen though dangerous delight. So
Malcolm Montrose felt, as he took her hand, raised his eyes to hers, and
met the quick and quickly-withdrawn flashing glance of those great,
black, burning stars, so full of half-suppressed fire, so replete with
thrilling, mysterious meaning.

“I am very happy to meet you, my dear cousin,” he said, earnestly, as he
pressed and released her hand.

With the long lashes dropped lower over her dark eyes, and her rich
bloom heightened, she curtsied slightly, and accepted the chair that he
set for her.

Malcolm placed himself beside Agatha, and glided gradually into
conversation with herself and the princess; but his eyes involuntarily
wandered off to the beautiful Asiatic girl, and every furtive glance
thrilled him with a deeper and a stranger delight.

Dinner was announced, and Malcolm gave his arm to the Princess Pezzilini
to conduct her to the dining-room. At dinner he sat next to the
princess, who was herself a woman of brilliant conversational powers;
but while conversing with her his thoughts continually wandered to the
lovely, dark-eyed girl on the opposite side of the table.

When dinner was over, and they returned to the drawing-room, the evening
was spent in earnest conversation, until at length, when it was quite
late, Lady Leaton observed that Agatha seemed fatigued, and rang for her
maid to attend her to her chamber. Malcolm led Agatha to the door, where
he bade her good-night, and soon after the circle broke up for the

On taking leave of Eudora, Malcolm again touched her hand, and met her
eyes with a thrill of delight as strange as it was incomprehensible.

When Malcolm reached his chamber, he at once dismissed the old valet,
locked his door, and commenced pacing thoughtfully up and down the room.
He had enough of exciting subjects occupying his mind to keep him from
rest. The presence of the magnificent Pezzilini in the house; the death
of his uncle; the failing health of his fair young cousin; but through
all these disturbing subjects glided one image of ineffable
loveliness—Eudora, the beautiful Asiatic girl; and this haunting image
was so delightful to contemplate, that as often as it glided before his
imagination, he paused to dwell enchanted upon it. He would not listen
to the still small voice that warned him this was a dangerous vision; he
meant no wrong to Agatha, his betrothed bride, to whom his hand was
pledged, to whom he thought his heart was given, and he knew nothing of
the insidious approaches of that master-passion which steals first
through the eyes, then through the imagination, until it effects an
immovable lodgment in the heart. The field of his imagination was
already occupied; would the citadel of his heart be occupied? Who could

It was after midnight when he retired to rest, resolving to be faithful
to his affianced bride, and sank to sleep, dreaming of the beautiful
Eastern houri.

Eudora occupied a small, plainly-furnished room adjoining her cousin
Agatha’s spacious and sumptuous chamber, and, since Agatha had been
ailing, it was a part of Eudora’s duty, whenever the invalid was
restless at night, to sit by her bedside and read her to sleep. But on
reaching her little room this evening, Eudora found the door
communicating with her cousin’s chamber closed and locked on the other

“She wishes to be alone to-night,” said the gentle girl to herself, as
she drew a low chair and sat down before the little coal fire to fall
into one of those reveries to which her poetical temperament inclined
her. She thought of the magnificent new relative to whom she had been
presented that evening, for magnificent, indeed, to her he seemed in his
noble, manly beauty and grace. She dwelt upon his image with a strange
feeling of satisfaction and content, as upon some good long wanting in
her life, and now found and appropriated. She felt again the earnest
pressure of his hand in clasping hers; she saw again his eagle eyes melt
into tenderness as they met her own; she heard again the earnest tones
of his voice in greeting her. No one had ever before clasped her hand,
or looked in her eyes, or spoken to her heart as he did. Every one was
kind to the orphan; indeed it would have been impossible for any one to
have been otherwise to so gentle a creature, but it was with a
superficial kindness that did not seem to recognize her deeper need of
sympathy. No one had seemed to remember that the stranger girl had under
her black bodice a sensitive heart, to be wounded by neglect or
delighted by affection—no one but him; and he, too, so handsome, so
accomplished, and so distinguished, that he might have been excused for
slighting her. At least, so thought Eudora.

“But the gods are ever compassionate, and he is like a god,” said the
hero-worshipping young heart to itself. It was so sweet to recall and
live over again that meeting in which he had been so earnestly kind.

“He will understand and love me, I feel that he will!” she murmured to
herself, with a delighted smile. But the words had no sooner been
breathed from her lips than she understood their full import. It stood
revealed to her conscience as by a flash of spiritual light, that her
imagination was occupied by a forbidden and perilous vision. And yet it
was so sweet to entertain this alluring vision, and so bitter to banish
it away.

She dropped her head upon her breast, and her clasped hands upon her
lap, and sat, as it were, with her dark eyes gazing into vacancy after
her receding dream.

Some time she sat thus, and then murmured—

“I am lonely and desolate indeed. None love me truly and deeply, as I
need to be loved, as I long to love. They give me food and clothing and
kind words, and with these I ought to be content, but I am not! I am
not! My heart is starving for a deeper sympathy and a closer friendship,
and I long for that as the famishing beggar longs for bread, but I must
not hope to satisfy this hunger of the heart upon forbidden fruit, and a
sure instinct warns me that even the kindred affection of my cousin is
forbidden fruit to me. I will think no more of him.” And with this wise
resolution Eudora offered up her evening prayers and retired to rest.
But in the world of sleep the forbidden vision followed her, and her
cousin Malcolm was ever by her side with looks of sympathy and words of

                              CHAPTER III.
                          THE BRIDE OF HEAVEN.

              I will not think of him—I’ll pace
                This old ancestral hall,
              And dream of that illustrious race
                Whose pictures line the wall.
              And from their dark and haughty eyes,
                Though faded now and dim,
              A better spirit shall arise,
                I will not think of him.—_Mrs. Warfield._

Flight! In that one short syllable lies the only safety from a forbidden
passion, and where flight is impossible, passion becomes destiny.

Malcolm Montrose had come to Allworth Abbey with the full understanding
that he was to remain with the bereaved ones for three months, and at
the end of that time quietly consummate his betrothal to the heiress by
a marriage that, in consideration of the recent decease of the head of
the family, was to be celebrated without pomp. Such had been the dying
instructions of Lord Leaton to his wife, and such she had conveyed in
her letter to Malcolm. To fly from his forbidden love would be to fly
also from his betrothed bride. He remained, therefore, happy in the
absolute obligation that compelled him to remain. Eudora had no other
refuge in the world whither to fly. Flight, therefore, to her also was

And perhaps by both it was unthought of. Circumstances bound them
together, and so passion became destiny. Both struggled perseveringly
with the growing madness. They instinctively avoided each other as much
as it was possible to do so. But in every casual touch of their hands,
every meeting glance of their eyes, and every intonation of their
voices, was transmitted the subtle fuel of that secret fire that was
smoldering in each bosom. They never remained for a moment alone
together; they never voluntarily addressed one word to each other; and
yet, when they did meet, or were forced to speak, the blushing cheek of
the girl, the faltering tone of the man, the averted looks of both,
betrayed to themselves, if not to others, the hidden love that was
burning in their breasts.

Every motive of honor, gratitude and humanity constrained them to
conquer their passion, and not the least of these was their mutual
sorrow in the declining health of Agatha.

Agatha was dying—though no one yet dared to say it, every one knew it.
The fair girl herself felt it, and instead of preparing for her bridal,
that was arranged to be celebrated on the first of May, she withdrew her
thoughts more and more from the things of this world, and fixed them
upon Heaven. Always of a thoughtful and serious turn of mind, she became
now almost saintly in her self-renunciation, her patience, and her

Often as she sat reclining in her easy-chair, watching the mutual
embarrassment of Malcolm and Eudora, and seeing, with the clear vision
of the dying, the hidden struggles of their hearts, a sweet smile would
break over her fair, wan, spiritual face, and she would murmur to

“They are striving bravely to do right—they will not have to strive
long; a few more short weeks, and their reward will be certain; their
love will be innocent, and their happiness complete. And shall I, who am
going hence, envy them their love and joy? Oh, no! oh no! for well I
know that whither I go there is a fulness of joy and love that mortal
imaginations have never conceived.”

The fair girl faded fast away. Day by day her thin form wasted thinner,
her pale cheeks grew paler, and her hollow eyes hollower, while the
saintly spirit within burned with a more seraphic brightness. The
symptoms of her malady were the same as those that had carried off her
father. The utmost skill and science of the medical faculty were taxed
in vain; they could neither define the nature of her wasting illness,
nor find a cure for it. The fair girl failed rapidly. Her easy-chair in
the drawing-room was soon resigned for the sofa in her own
dressing-room, from which she never stirred during the day. And about
the first of May, when she was to have been united to Malcolm Montrose,
the sofa was finally resigned for her bed, from which she never more

Malcolm and Eudora reproached themselves bitterly for their
unconquerable love, because it seemed to wrong Agatha. They vied with
each other in the most affectionate attention to the invalid; and often
as they stood each side her couch, ministering to her wants, she longed
to make them happy by releasing Malcolm from his engagement to herself,
and placing the hand of Eudora in his own; but instinctive delicacy
withheld her from intermeddling with the love affairs of others.

Lady Leaton, heart-broken by the loss of her husband, and the
approaching death of her daughter, observed the growing and
ill-concealed attachment between Malcolm and Eudora with all a mother’s
bitter jealousy. And struggled against as that attachment evidently was,
she nevertheless resented it as a grievous wrong to her dying child.

Agatha, with the clairvoyance of a departing spirit, saw into the hearts
of all around her, and judged them in justice and mercy. One day while
her afflicted mother watched alone beside her bed, she said to her—

“Mamma, dear, I wish to speak with you about Malcolm and Eudora. I know
that you are displeased with them, mamma; but it is without just cause.
They love each other; they struggle against that love, but they cannot
conquer it. It is because they were created for each other. Their
marriage is already made in heaven. My marriage with Malcolm, mamma, was
designed only on earth as a matter of policy and convenience. Malcolm
and I loved each other only as brother and sister; we never could have
loved in any other way even if I had lived to become his wife. But he
and Eudora love one other as two who are destined for time and eternity
to blend into one. Forgive them, mamma; forgive and be kind to them for
my sake.”

“But you, Agatha!—my child!—I can think only of you!” sobbed the lady.

“Dear mamma, I know that all your ambition has been for your Agatha’s
good, and happiness, and advancement. But consider, if your wildest
dreams for your child had been fulfilled, and even more than that, if
you could have made her a king’s bride, placed upon her brow a queen’s
crown, gathered around her all the wealth, splendor, and glory of this
world—could you have rendered her as happy, as blessed, and as exalted
as she is now by the free mercy of God—now, when she is departing for
that land the joys of which ‘eye hath not seen, ear heard, or
imagination conceived,’ and where she shall wait for you in perfect
bliss and perfect safety till you come? Mamma, your daughter is the
bride of Heaven, and that is better than being the wife of the noblest
man or the greatest monarch on this earth.”

The countenance of the young saint was glorious in its holy enthusiasm,
and the human jealousy of her mother was dispelled before its heavenly

“You are better than I am; my child, my child, you are better than I am;
you are a saint prepared for heaven!” exclaimed Lady Leaton, fervently.

“Mamma, grant Agatha one petition. She wants to see them happy before
she goes. They are so conscientious and so wretched, mamma; they are
afraid to speak to each other, or to look at each other, lest they
should wound or wrong me. It makes me miserable to see them so because I
love them both, mamma, and I know that they love me, and for my sake
they struggle bravely with their passion for each other. Let me speak to
Malcolm, mamma; let me tell him that I loved him only as a dear brother;
let me release him from his engagement to me, and let me place Eudora’s
hand in his with a sister’s frank and warm affection. Then, mamma, when
the embargo is taken off their love; when they are free to look at each
other and speak to each other as betrothed lovers may, then I shall be
happy in their happiness—happier still to know that I have promoted
it—happiest of all to feel how they both will love me for it. Dear
mamma, let Agatha do this little good and have this little delight
before she departs.”

“My angel child, you shall do in all things as you please. You speak and
act from Heaven’s own inspiration, and it were sacrilege to hinder you,”
exclaimed Lady Leaton, in deep emotion.

“Thank you, dear mamma, I shall be happy,” said Agatha, with a heavenly

“And the deadly upas-tree shall be all in all,” said a low voice at the
side of Lady Leaton.

She started, and turned to see the Princess Pezzilini standing there.

“Madame!” she said, in some uneasiness.

“Nay, I did but quote a line from a fable that I read you some three
months ago,” said the princess, quietly seating herself beside the bed.

Agatha had been too deeply absorbed in her own benevolent plans to
notice what was passing.

That evening, when all was quiet in the house, and the stillness of a
deeper repose pervaded her own luxurious chamber—Agatha dismissed all
her attendants, and sent for Lady Leaton, Malcolm, and Eudora to attend
her. They came immediately. The chamber was illumed with a soft,
moonlight sort of radiance from the shaded beams of an alabaster lamp
that stood upon the mantelshelf opposite the foot of the bed.

The bed curtains were drawn away, revealing the fair face and fragile
form of the dying girl as she reclined upon her bed propped up with
pillows. She smiled on her relatives as they entered, and beckoned them
to draw very near.

They came, and stood at the side of her bed—accidentally arranged as
follows: Eudora nearest the head of the bed, Lady Leaton next, and
Malcolm last.

She put out her wasted hand, took the hand of Eudora, and held it
quietly within her own, while she seemed to collect her thoughts for
utterance. Then, still holding Eudora’s hand she raised her dove-like
eyes to Malcolm’s face, and whispered—

“Dearest Malcolm! dearest brother of my heart! you will let the dying
speak out freely, I know.”

“Speak, sweet Agatha, speak your will,” murmured the young man, in a
voice vibrating with emotion.

“I was your betrothed bride, Malcolm; but our betrothal was a human
error, dearest; and the will of Heaven has interposed to break it. I am
called hence, Malcolm, to another sphere. Not your bride, but the bride
of Heaven shall I be. But before I go hence, Malcolm, I would prove to
you how true is the sister’s love I bear you, and the kindred affection
I feel for Eudora. I would prove these by two legacies by which I would
have you remember me.”

She paused and drew from her wasted finger the keeper-ring, which its
attenuated form could scarcely longer hold, and placing it firmly upon
the round, plump finger of Eudora, she said—

“This, dear one, is my legacy to you!”

Then taking the same hand with the keeper-ring upon its finger, she
placed it in the hand of Malcolm, saying—

“And this, dearest brother of my soul, this is my dying legacy to you!”

She sank back exhausted upon her pillow, while low, half-suppressed sobs
broke from those around her. And Malcolm and Eudora each thought how
willingly they would give up their mutual love, nay, life itself, to
have restored this dying angel to health and joy. And Lady Leaton prayed
Heaven that her own life might not outlast that of her beloved child. At
length Agatha spoke again.

“When I am gone, my mother will be very desolate—a widow, and childless.
Promise me this—dear Eudora, and dearest Malcolm—that you will be a son
and daughter to my mother.”

In earnest tones, and amid suffocating sobs, they promised all she

A little while longer she held the hands of Malcolm and Eudora united
and clasped within her own, and then releasing them, she said—

“Good-night, dearest Malcolm. Go to rest, beloved mother; Eudora will
watch with me to-night.”

Lady Leaton stooped, and gathered Agatha for a moment to her bosom, and
with a whispered prayer, laid her back upon her pillows. Malcolm bent
down, and pressed a kiss upon her brow; and then both withdrew, leaving
Eudora upon the watch. And still holding Eudora’s hand, Agatha sank into
a peaceful sleep.

Hours passed. The room was so quiet, the sleep of the patient was so
calm, and the position of the watcher so easy within her lounging-chair
that Eudora, overcome with fatigue of many nights’ vigil, could scarcely
keep her eyes open.

Once, indeed, she must have lost herself in a momentary slumber, for she
dreamed that a women in dark raiment, with her head wrapped in a dark
veil, glided across the chamber, and disappeared within her own little
room; but when she aroused herself, and looked around, and walked into
the adjoining room to examine it, there was no one to be seen.

“I have been dreaming—I have slept upon my watch,” said Eudora,
regretfully; and to prevent a recurrence of drowsiness, she bathed her
forehead and temples with aromatic vinegar, and saturated her
handkerchief with the same pungent liquid, and resumed her seat beside
the patient.

At this moment Agatha awoke, complained of thirst, and asked for drink.

Eudora went to a side-table, poured out a glass of tamarind-water, and
brought it to the invalid.

Agatha drank eagerly, and sank back upon her pillows with a sigh of

Eudora silently resumed her seat and her watch; but scarcely five
minutes had passed, when suddenly Agatha started up, her eyes strained
outward, her features livid, and her limbs convulsed.

Eudora sprang to her in alarm.

Agatha essayed to speak, but the spasms in her throat prevented

In the extremity of terror, Eudora laid her down upon the pillows, and
sprang to the bell-pull, and rang loudly for assistance.

Then hurrying back to the bedside, she found Agatha livid, rigid, with
locked jaws, laboring lungs, and startling eyes.

She caught her up in her arms, rubbed her temples, and rubbed her hands,
exclaiming all the while:

“Oh, my dear, dear Agatha! my dear, dear Agatha! what, what is this?
Speak to me! Oh, speak to me!”

The strained eyes of the dying girl suddenly softened, and turned upon
the speaker a beseeching, helpless look, and then the rigid form
suddenly relaxed, and became a dead weight in the arms of Eudora.

Lady Leaton, followed by several of the female servants, now came
hurrying in.

“What is the matter? Is she worse?” exclaimed the mother, hurrying to
the bedside.

“Lady Leaton, she is dead!” cried Eudora, in a voice of anguish.

Let us draw a vail over the grief of that mother. In all this world of
troubles, there is no sorrow like that of a widowed mother grieving for
the death of her only child.

At first Lady Leaton would not believe in the extent of her affliction.
She wildly insisted that her child could not, should not be dead—dead
without a parting word, or look, or prayer! She sent off messengers in
haste to bring their medical attendant. And not until Dr. Watkins had
come and examined the patient, and pronounced life fled, could Lady
Leaton be made to believe the truth, or induced to leave the chamber of
death. Then she fainted in the arms of Princess Pezzilini, and was borne
to her own apartment in a state of insensibility.

It was some hours after this that Dr. Watkins somewhat peremptorily
demanded a private interview with Malcolm Montrose.

The young man, in deep affliction for the death of her whom he loved as
a dear sister, gave audience to the doctor in the library.

The family physician entered with a grave and stern brow, and seating
himself at the library-table, opposite Mr. Montrose, began—

“Sir, what I have to say to you is painful in the extreme both for me to
utter and for you to hear; but the sternest duty obliges me to speak.”

Mr. Montrose withdrew his hand from his corrugated brow, raised his
troubled eyes to the speaker, and awaited his further words.

“I know that what I am about to communicate must greatly augment the
sorrow under which you suffer, and yet it must be communicated.”

“Speak out, I beseech you, sir,” said Mr. Montrose, with a vague but
awful presentiment of what was coming.

“Three months ago I attended the death-bed of the late Lord Leaton. I
gave it as my opinion then, I hold it as my opinion now, that his death
was accelerated by poison. The coroner’s jury came to a different
conclusion, and their verdict, taken together with the fact that the
_post-mortem_ examination detected no trace of poison, I confess shook
my faith in my own conviction. To-night I have been called to the
bedside of his only daughter; I have looked upon her dead body, and
heard an account of the manner in which she had died. And now, Mr.
Malcolm Montrose, I positively assert that Agatha Leaton came to her
death by poison, administered in the tamarind-water of which she drank
some five or ten minutes before her death—and I stake my medical
reputation upon this issue.”

“My God! it cannot be true!” exclaimed Malcolm Montrose, starting up,
and gazing upon the speaker in the extremity of horror and grief.

“Mr. Montrose,” said the doctor, impressively, taking the hand of the
young man, and forcing him back to his seat, “the widowed and childless
head of this house is now in no condition to meet this crisis. You are
her natural representative. You must summon all your firmness and take
the direction of affairs. I shall remain here to assist you. I have
already taken some steps in the matter; I have secured the jug and glass
of tamarind-water to be analyzed. I have also telegraphed for the family
solicitor to come down, and I have sent for the coroner, and for a
police force to occupy the house, for no one must be permitted to escape
until the coroner’s inquest has set upon the deceased and given in their

“But, good Heaven, doctor!” exclaimed the young man in horror and
amazement; “who, _who_ could aim at so harmless and innocent a life?”

“Who,” repeated the doctor; “who had the greatest interest in her death,
and in the death of her father before her?”

“None! no one on earth! Who could have possibly had such an interest?”
cried the young man, shuddering.

“Who is the next heiress to this vast estate after Lord Leaton and his
daughter?” said the doctor, looking fixedly in the eyes of his

Malcolm Montrose started up, threw his hands to his head, and then
reeling back, dropped into his chair again, and remained gazing in
horror upon the speaker.

“Who,” pursued the doctor, with a merciless inflexibility, “who had
constant access to the bedside of the late Lord Leaton?—who prepared his
food and drink?—who has been the constant attendant of his invalid
daughter?—who watched by her side last night?—whose hand was it that
placed at her lips the fatal draught that laid her dead?”

“My God! my God, doctor! what horrible monster of suspicion has taken
possession of your mind? Give it a name!” exclaimed the young man, as
great drops of sweat beaded upon his agonized brow.

“_Eudora Leaton!_ Her hand it was that prepared the death-draught for
her uncle! her hand it was that gave the poisoned draught to his
daughter! It is a terrible charge to make, I know; but we must not deal
hesitatingly with the secret poisoner,” said the doctor, solemnly.

“Great Heaven! it cannot be—it cannot be!” groaned the young man, in
mortal anguish.

The doctor arose to his feet, saying—

“I leave you, Mr. Montrose, to recover this shock, while I go to put
seals upon the effects of this girl, and to prepare for the
investigation that shall bring the poisoner to justice.”

                              CHAPTER IV.
                            THE ACCUSATION.

                            “If she prove guilty—
              Farewell my faith in aught of human kind.
              I’ll hie me to some hermit’s cave, and there
              Forget my race.”

When the doctor had left the library, Malcolm Montrose threw himself
back in his chair, clasped his forehead between his hands, and strove to
master the consternation that seemed to threaten his very reason.

Grief, horror, and amazement, sufficient to have shaken the firmness of
the strongest mind, deprived him for the moment of all power of
practical and definite action. And yet, through all the terrible emotion
that shook his soul to its centre, he was conscious of a profound
incredulity in the truth of the doctor’s statement. But the doubt, the
uncertainty, the mere suspicion of such atrocious crimes, perpetrated in
the bosom of his own family, overwhelmed him with consternation.

“Dead by the hand of the secret poisoner! the baron and his daughter
too! the baron whose whole life had been one long act of the noblest
beneficence, and his child, whose days had been ever devoted to the
happiness of all around her! their benign lives cut off by poison!
Impossible! impossible! it cannot be! it is not so!

“And yet, and yet the suddenness and the strangeness of both deaths, and
the unquestionable competency of the physician who attended them in
their last hours, and who now makes this dreadful assertion!

“And if this is so, by whom, great Heavens? By whom has this atrocious
crime been perpetrated? and for what purpose? Who could have any
interest in the premature death of this noble man and lovely girl?

“No one but—oh, Heaven! but Eudora! She is their heiress; the estate is
now hers, but she is innocent! my life, my honor, my soul will I stake
upon her innocence. And yet, if this father and child shall be proved to
have died by poison, how black the evidence may be made to appear
against her, and how weak her own position! She is an orphan and
friendless, and though on her father’s side of English parentage, she is
of foreign birth and education, and has been in this country too short a
time to establish a character. She has no good antecedents to set
against this dreadful charge with the strong testimony that may be
brought to support it. She was the third in succession to this estate,
and, consequently, her mercenary interest in the deaths of the baron and
his daughter. She was the constant attendant of the late Lord Leaton,
and prepared the drink of which he died. She watched last night by the
side of Agatha, and administered to her the so-called fatal draught. If
they are proved to have died by poison it will ruin her indeed. She will
be called a second Brinvilliers. She will be arraigned, tried,
condemned—oh, Heaven of Heavens! what unspeakable horrors remain in
store for her, innocent as an angel though I know her to be.”

Such were the maddening thoughts that coursed through his brain and
caused the sweat of agony to start from his brow. He wiped the beaded
drops from his pale forehead, and sprang up and paced the room with
disordered steps, laboring in vain for the composure that he could not

The death of the noble-hearted baron in the prime of life, the death of
the sweet young girl in dawn of youth, were mournful enough even though
they died from natural causes, and if they perished by poison
administered by treacherous hands their fate was dreadful indeed. And
yet it was nothing to be compared with the unutterable horror of that
train of misfortunes which threatened the orphan, stranger, the innocent
Eudora. And thus other emotions of sorrow for the loss of his near
relatives were swallowed up in an anguish of anxiety for the fate of the
orphan girl.

And so he strove for self-command, and coolness, and clearness of mind,
that he might be prepared to assist at the approaching investigation, in
the hope of discovering the truth, and clearing the fame of Eudora.

He paced up and down the library floor until he had obtained the
necessary state of calmness to deal with this mystery.

When the doctor had left the library he was met in the hall by a
servant, hastening towards him in great agitation, and saying:

“Sir, I was just coming to see you. The Princess Pezzilini begs that you
will hasten at once to my lady’s bedside, as her ladyship is in the

Without a word of reply the doctor turned and hurried up the stairs and
along the corridor leading to Lady Leaton’s apartments.

When he entered the chamber he found Lady Leaton in violent convulsions,
and restrained from throwing herself out of the bed only by the strong
arms of the Italian princess, which thrown around her shoulders
supported her heaving form.

But, even as the doctor stepped up to the bedside, her form relaxed and
became supple as that of an infant.

The princess laid the head back upon the pillow. Her eyes closed, and
the ashen hue of death overspread her features.

The doctor took up her left hand, and placed his fingers upon the pulse.
But that pulse was still, and that hand was the hand of the dead. He
laid it gently down, and turning, looked upon those gathered around the

They were the Princess Pezzilini, Eudora Leaton, and her ladyship’s

Especially he fastened his eyes upon Eudora, who knelt on the opposite
side of the bed, with her face buried in the bed-clothes, in an attitude
of deep grief.

“Can any one here inform me whether Lady Leaton drank of the
tamarind-water which stood upon the mantleshelf of Miss Leaton’s
chamber?” inquired the doctor, looking sternly around him.

“Yes, sir,” answered the lady’s-maid, looking up through her tears;
“when my lady was so agitated by seeing the condition of Miss Leaton as
to be near swooning, and I was obliged to support her in my arms, I
called for a glass of water, and Miss Eudora quickly poured out a
tumbler of tamarind-water, saying there was no other at hand, and held
it to her ladyship’s lips.”

“And her ladyship drank it?”

“Yes, sir; she eagerly drank off the whole glassful, for she was so
anxious to keep up for Miss Leaton’s sake, not believing that she was
past all help,” replied the woman.

“That will do,” said the doctor, once bending his eyes sternly upon the
kneeling form of Eudora.

But the girl, unconscious of the storm that was gathering over her head,
remained absorbed in grief.

“Madame,” said the doctor, turning, to the princess, “your friend has
joined her daughter. There is now no lady at the head of this afflicted
house. I must, therefore, entreat you for charity to assume some
necessary authority here over these dismayed female domestics; at least,
until some measures can be taken for the regulation of the

The Italian princess lifted her fine face, in which grief seemed to
struggle with the habitual composure of pride, and gracefully indicating
Eudora by a small wave of her arm, she said:

“You forget, sir, that we stand in the presence of the young lady of the
house, who, however bowed with grief she may now be, will soon, no
doubt, be found equal to her high position.”

“Madame, if your highness alludes to Miss Eudora Leaton, I must beg to
say that she cannot be permitted to intermeddle with any of the affairs
of the household for the present,” replied the doctor.

The mention of her name in so stern a manner aroused Eudora from her
trance of sorrow, and she arose from her knees, and looked around, to
see every eye bent on her in doubt, perplexity, and suspicion. While she
looked beseechingly from one face to another, as if praying for some
explanation of their strange regards, there came a low rap at the door.

The doctor went and softly opened it. And the voice of a servant was
heard saying:

“The coroner has arrived, and begs to see you at once, if you please,

“In good time,” replied the doctor. “Have the police arrived?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Send two of them up to me at once, and say to Coroner Adams, that I
will be with him immediately.”

The servant withdrew, and the doctor, returning to the side of the
Italian princess, said:

“Madame, will your highness be pleased to retire to your own apartments,
as this chamber, with all its other occupants, must be placed in charge
of the police.”

The princess, with a look of surprise, bent her stately head, and passed
forth from the room.

She had scarcely withdrawn when the two policemen presented themselves.

“You will keep the door of this apartment, and let no one enter or pass
out,” said the doctor, posting the two officers one at each entrance of
the death-chamber.

He gave a glance at Eudora, who stood still by the bedside, the image of
grief, wonder, and perplexity, and then he passed on, and went down to
rejoin Mr. Montrose, and to meet the coroner.

He met Malcolm, who was just leaving the library to meet him.

“What is the matter now? What new misfortune has occurred?” inquired the
young man, noticing the doctor’s severe and threatening countenance.

“Lady Leaton has just expired, a victim to the same diabolical agency
that destroyed her husband and child,” said the doctor, sternly.

Montrose started back panic-stricken, and muttering,

“Horror on horror! Are we sleeping or walking—mad or sane? Lady Leaton

“We are awake and in our right senses, Mr. Montrose, and Lady Leaton is
dead—dead by the hands of that same young Asiatic fiend who murdered her
husband and her daughter!”

“Dr. Watkins, beware how you charge an innocent girl with so heinous a

“Mr. Montrose, I see that you are a partizan of Miss Leaton’s, but I
have made no charge which I am not able to prove before the coroner’s
inquest, and which their verdict will not soon confirm.”

“Does this most innocent and unhappy girl know of what she is accused?”

“She knows her crimes, and doubtless she has reason to suspect that we
know them also.”

“Do not say ‘_we know them_,’ doctor. I do not know of any crime of
hers; on the contrary, _I_ know in my own secret consciousness that she
is most innocent of all crime, and even of all wrong; and _you_ do not
know it; you only suspect it, and in that suspicion you wrong one of the
most excellent young creatures that ever lived.”

“Mr. Montrose, you are blinded by partiality; but the veil will soon be
torn from your eyes.”

“It is _you_ who are blinded by some prejudice when you accuse a young
and lovely girl of a tissue of crimes that would make the blood of a
Borgia run cold with horror!” said the young man, with a shudder.

“We shall see; a few hours will decide between us;” replied the doctor,

“Where is the unhappy girl now?” inquired Malcolm Montrose.

“Where she must remain for the present: in the death-chamber of Lady
Leaton, which is now in the charge of the police. And now, Mr. Montrose;
the coroner awaits us in the crimson drawing-room,” said the physician,
leading the way thither.

It was broad daylight, the sun was high in the heavens, though the
dismayed servants seemed only now to remember to extinguish the lights
and open the windows.

Breakfast was prepared in the breakfast-parlor, but no family circle
gathered around it.

The doctor, the Princess Pezzilini, and finally Malcolm Montrose,
strayed separately and at intervals into the room, quaffed each a cup of
coffee, and withdrew.

Meantime, the coroner formed his inquest. The investigation required
some time and much caution, therefore the whole house was placed in
charge of the police while the examination was in progress.

Physicians and chemists were summoned to assist in the autopsy of the
dead bodies and the analysis of the water of which they had both drank
immediately before death.

The autopsy and the analysis both proved successful. Traces of a
virulent poison were found in the bodies of the deceased, and the
presence of the same fatal agent was detected in the beverage of which
they had partaken. It was so far clearly proved that both Lady Leaton
and her daughter had died by poison!

But by whom had it been prepared and administered? That was the next
point of inquiry.

Alas! the question seemed but too easily answered. Nevertheless, the
coroner went coolly, formally, and systematically to work.

The witnesses, that had been kept jealously apart during the progress of
the inquest, were called and examined separately, and their testimony
carefully taken down and compared together. The coroner’s jury then
deliberated long and carefully upon the evidence before them.

The inquest lasted through the whole of two long summer days, and the
sun was setting on the second when they made up their verdict.

“The deceased, Matilda, Baroness Leaton, of Allworth, and her daughter,
the Honorable Agatha Leaton, came to their deaths by the poison of
_Ignatia_, administered in tamarind-water by the hands of Eudora

A warrant was made out for the arrest of Eudora Leaton, and put in the
hands of an officer for immediate execution.

“There! what do you think of that? Has my charge been proved? Is my
statement confirmed by the coroner’s inquest? What is your opinion now?”
inquired the doctor of Malcolm Montrose, who had been a pale and
agonized spectator of the scene.

“My opinion is what it ever has been and ever will be—that Eudora Leaton
is innocent; innocent as one of God’s holy angels; and upon that issue I
stake my every earthly and every heavenly good, my every temporal and
every eternal hope, my life, honor, and soul!”

“Then you’ll lose them, my young friend, that is all. Ah, Montrose, it
is hard to believe in atrocious crimes, even when we see them recorded
in newspaper paragraphs as committed by strangers and at some distance;
but we are appalled and utterly incredulous when they come closely home
to ourselves. This self-deception is natural, for doubtless other great
criminals have seemed to their own partial friends as unlikely to commit
the crimes of which they have been convicted, as this beautiful young
demon has seemed to us. People of notoriously bad character seldom or
never commit great crimes. They seem to fritter away their natural
wickedness in a succession of small felonies. It is your quiet,
respectable, commonplace people that poison and assassinate just as
though they hoarded all their sinfulness for one grand exploit.”

“Sir, you treat the deepest tragedies of human life, the tragedies of
crime and death, with a levity unbecoming your age, your profession, and
the circumstances in which we are placed,” said the young man, in bitter

“I treat the subject with levity! I never was in more solemn earnest in
my life! If you doubt my words, recall your own experience. Recollect
all the greatest criminals within your own knowledge, and say whether
they were not every one of them, according to their social positions,
very decent, very respectable, or very genteel persons—until they were
clearly convicted of capital crimes? I could name a score within my own
memory, only Heaven pardon them, as they have paid the penalty of their
crimes, I do not wish to vex their ghosts by calling up their names and
deeds to recollection.”

Montrose did not reply. He could scarcely follow the doctor in his
discourse. His thoughts were all engaged with the hapless Eudora and the
train of unutterable misfortunes that lay before her.

While he stood in bitter sorrow, a constable, holding a warrant in his
hand, approached, and touching his hat to the doctor and Mr. Montrose,
requested that they would please accompany him to the chamber of Miss
Leaton, that he might serve the warrant.

                               CHAPTER V.
                              THE ARREST.

            “Why bend their brows so sternly on me, Vaughn?
            What have I done? Oh, tell me quickly, youth!
            My soul can ill endure their frowning looks.”

Through all this long, dreadful investigation, Eudora had remained in
the death-chamber of Lady Leaton, bowed down with grief, but unconscious
of the heavy clouds that were gathering darkly over her young head.

She had seen the body of her aunt carried away from the chamber towards
the crimson drawing-room where the coroner’s inquest was held, and where
the _post-mortem_ examination was made.

She had been called in her turn to give her separate testimony before
the jury, and she had described the deaths of Agatha and that of Lady
Leaton simply as she had witnessed them. She had not omitted to mention
a circumstance that she had regarded as a dream—namely, the passage and
disappearance of a dark-robed woman in Agatha’s chamber. At the close of
her testimony she had been conducted back to the chamber from which she
had been taken, and there she had tarried through the remainder of the

Half stunned with grief, she felt no disposition and made no attempt to
leave the room. She saw the policemen guarding the doors, but did not
even suspect that she was their prisoner. She had noticed in the morning
the strange regards of those around her, but, absorbed in sorrow for the
loss of her relatives, the circumstance had passed from her mind.

In the course of the day food and drink had been sent to her by the
thoughtful attention of Malcolm Montrose, but she had partaken of
nothing but a cup of tea.

And now, at the close of this long and terrible day, she remained as has
been said, bowed down with grief, but totally unsuspicious of the dark
storm that was gathering around her. She sat in a low chair beside the
now empty bed, with her head down upon the coverlet, so dead to all
external impressions, that the door was opened and the room half-filled
with people before she moved. There was the Princess Pezzilini, Malcolm
Montrose, Dr. Watkins, the officer who brought the warrant, the two
policemen that kept the doors, and a crowd of male and female servants
drawn thither by curiosity.

And still Eudora did not look up.

The Princess Pezzilini glided softly to her side and stood bending over
her with looks of compassion; then raising her blue eyes swimming in
tears to the faces of the doctor and Mr. Montrose, she said:

“Forgive me; I know that she is most guilty, and that I of all persons
should most condemn her, for she has destroyed my benefactress; but she
is so young, I cannot help pitying her, for we know that the more guilty
the wretched girl may be the more needful of compassion she is.”

The voice of the princess sounding so near her ear caused Eudora to look
up; and at the same moment the officer who held the warrant advanced,
and laying his hand upon her shoulder, said:

“Miss Eudora Leaton, you are my prisoner.”

She did not understand. She arose quickly to her feet, and looked
inquiringly into the face of the constable, and from his face into those
of the persons that crowded the room and gathered around her. As her
star-like eyes ranged around the circle, the eyes of those she looked
upon sank to the ground, while dark frowns lowered upon every brow.

As she gazed, her perplexity gave place to a vague alarm.

“What is the matter? What is the meaning of this?” she inquired, in
faltering accents.

An ominous silence followed her question, while the eyes of the crowd
were once more fixed sternly upon her.

“Why do you look upon me so? What is it? Will no one speak?” she
demanded, while a vague, overpowering terror took possession of her

“Tell her, officer, and put an end to this,” sternly commanded the

“Miss Eudora Leaton, you are my prisoner,” repeated the constable, again
laying his hand upon her.

“Your prisoner!” she exclaimed, shrinking in dismay and abhorrence from
the degrading touch. “Your prisoner! what do you mean?”

“Tell her, officer, and end this,” repeated the doctor, while Eudora
looked wildly from one to the other, and sank back in her chair.

“Miss Leaton,” said the constable, blandly, “the crowner’s ’quest has
been and found a verdict against you, charging you with poisoning of
your aunt, Matilda, Lady Leaton, and your cousin, the Honorable Agatha
Leaton; and this paper in my hand is the crowner’s warrant for your

Before he had finished, Eudora had sprung to her feet, and now she stood
with her dark, starry eyes dilated and blazing with a horror that
approached insanity.

At length she found her voice. Clasping her hands and raising her eyes,
in a passion of self-vindication, she exclaimed:

“Great Lord of heaven! is there any one on earth capable of such heinous
crimes? Is there any one here who believes me to be so?”

The doctor came to her side, saying:

“Young girl, the proof against you is too clear to leave a doubt upon
the mind of any one present.”

“Proof? how can there be proof of that which never happened—which never
could have happened?—a crime which my very soul abhors; at which my
whole frame shudders, from which my whole nature recoils—and committed
by me and upon those whom I was bound to love and respect and serve! and
committed for what purpose, great Heaven! for what purpose? What object
could I have had in the destruction of my own nearest kindred, dearest
friends, and only protectors?” demanded the accused girl, in a tone of
impassioned grief, indignation and horror.

“Your object was obvious to the dullest comprehension; it forms one of
the strongest points in the evidence against you,” said the implacable

“My object, then, what was it? You, who charge me with the crime,
declare the object!” exclaimed Eudora, rivetting upon his face her
blazing eyes, through which her rising and indignant soul flashed
repudiation at so vile a charge.

“Your object, girl, was the inheritance of their estates. Lord and Lady
Leaton and their daughter being dead, you are the sole heiress of
unencumbered Allworth,” replied the unflinching physician.

The fire that flashed from her eyes, the color that burned upon her
cheeks, died slowly out. The pallor of unutterable horror spread like
death over her face. She reeled as though she must have fallen to the
floor, but recovered herself by a violent effort. Clasping her hands in
the agonizing earnestness of her appeal, she exclaimed:

“Oh! does any one here believe this of me?”

Stern silence was the only reply.

“Madame Pezzilini! you have known me intimately for months—do you
believe it?” she said, turning in an anguish of supplication to the
Italian princess.

“Bellissima, my heart is broken—do not ask me!” said the princess,
averting her face.

Eudora turned her despairing eyes to the crowd of stern, pitiless,
accusing faces around her, and seeing the form of Malcolm Montrose in
the background, she extended her clasped hands, in passionate prayer,
towards him, and the tones of her voice arose, wild, high, and piercing
in the agony of her last appeal, as she cried:

“Mr. Montrose! oh, Mr. Montrose! _you_ do not believe me to be such a

“No, no, no!” said Malcolm, earnestly, fervently, vehemently, as he
pushed his way through the crowd, and came to her side and took her
hand. “No, Eudora! I do not believe it! I have never for an instant been
tempted to believe it! You are innocent of the very thought of evil! and
this I will uphold both in private and in public! I will stand by you
like a brother; I will aid, protect and defend you to the last, so far
as you have need of me, and I power to serve you—and to this I pledge my
life, and soul, and honor! And as I keep this pledge to you, may Heaven
deal with me at my own greatest extremity! Take comfort, sweet girl!
Your innocence is a mighty, invincible stronghold, which all these
atrocious charges must assail in vain.”

“Oh, thanks! thanks! thanks!” said Eudora, her fiery eyes melting into
the first tears that she had shed since her arrest.

“Mr. Montrose, I would recommend you to be cautious,” said the doctor,
severely; “for let me inform you, young gentleman, that you are not so
far removed from suspicion as your friends could wish! Your betrothal to
the late Miss Leaton, and your attachment to the present one, are both
too well known already. And I assure you, the propriety of your own
arrest as an accomplice to this crime was seriously discussed at the

The cheeks of Malcolm Montrose glowed, his eyes flashed, and he made one
threatening step towards his accuser, then recollecting himself, he
dropped his hand, saying:

“No, no, no! you are an old friend of the family, and it is your zeal
alone for them that urges you to such indecorous speech and action. And
since the wisdom of the coroner’s jury was engaged with the question of
my arrest, I wish to Heaven they had ordered it! Since they have found a
verdict against this most innocent girl, I would to the Lord they had
found one against me as her accomplice, that I might stand where she
will have to stand; meet what she will have to meet; and endure what she
will have to endure! Go, tell the nearest magistrate from me, that in
all the felonies Eudora Leaton has committed Malcolm Montrose has been
her aider and abettor—nay, her instigator! Tell him, from me, that when
Eudora Leaton poisoned her kindred, Malcolm Montrose procured the bane
and mixed the drink! Tell him that when Eudora Leaton is in the
prison-cell, or waits in the prisoner’s dock, or stands upon the
scaffold, Malcolm Montrose should be by her side as far the more guilty
of the two! Tell him this from me, and get me arrested, and I will thank

“You are mad, Mr. Montrose, as indeed the events of this day are well
calculated to make you,” replied the doctor.

Then turning to the officer, he said:

“It is getting late; had you not better remove your prisoner?”

“It is some distance to the county gaol, sir. Is there such a thing as a
chaise in the stables, that I could have the use of to carry her in? or
else is there a messenger I could send to the Leaton Arms to fetch one?”
inquired the constable.

“There is a chaise in the stables, I know. Go, John, and order it to be
got ready,” commanded the doctor.

The old servant withdrew to obey. The constable turned to Eudora, and

“Miss Leaton, while the chaise is getting ready, you had better be
putting on your things.”

“Oh, Heaven! is this some dreadful dream or raving madness that has
taken possession of me, or is it true that I must leave the house where
lie the dead bodies of my kindred, and go—to the county gaol, charged
with the murder of my nearest relations? Oh, horror! horror! Oh, save
me, Malcolm, save me!” she cried, covering her face with her hands as
though to shut out some horrid vision, and sinking to the floor.

Montrose stooped and raised her, whispering:

“I will! I will, Eudora! if it is in human power to do it! You need not
be taken from here to-night—you must not be! I will see the magistrates

Then turning to the crowd of servants that still lingered in the room,
he inquired:

“Have the magistrates yet taken their departure?”

“No, sir; they are taking some refreshments in the dining-room,”
answered one of the servants.

“Rest here, dear Eudora, until I return,” said Montrose, placing her in
an easy-chair; and then going to the side of the Italian princess, he

“Madame, for Heaven’s sake, speak to her.”

And he hurried from the chamber, and went down into the dining-room,
where the magistrates were sitting over their wine.

He addressed them respectfully, speaking of the approaching storm, the
darkness of the night, and the badness of the mountain-roads that lay
between Allworth and the county gaol; and proposed that as the accused
was but a young and delicate girl, she might be permitted to remain at
Allworth Abbey through the night.

Mr. Montrose, as the nearest male representative of the Leaton family,
might be supposed to have considerable influence with the magistrates.
The latter were, besides, pleased with their day’s work, and subdued by
the genial influence of the juice of the grape; and the boon that was
craved by Malcolm Montrose was not, under the circumstances,
unreasonable. Therefore, after some little delay and consultation, it
was agreed that the accused should remain at the Abbey through the
night, securely locked up in the chamber which she now occupied, and
strictly guarded by a pair of constables, one of which was to be placed
on the outside of each door.

And Malcolm Montrose was authorized to bear this order to the constable.

Meanwhile Eudora had sunk back in the large chair where he had left her,
and covered her face with her hands. The Princess Pezzilini had
despatched a servant to the little bed-room of Eudora to fetch her
bonnet and shawl. And now she stood beside the chair of the unhappy
girl, urging her to arise and prepare herself to accompany the
constable, and saying:

“It will all turn out for the best, Bellissima, end how it may. If you
are proved innocent you will be set at liberty; if you are proved guilty
you will have the privilege of expiating your crime by the death of your
body and thus save your soul. So, end as it may, Bellissima, it will all
be right.”

“But lawk, mum, s’posen she be innocent, and yet be found guilty, as
many and many a one have been before her?” suggested Tabitha Tabs, the
maid who had now returned with the bonnet and shawl, and stood with them
hanging over her arm.

“In that case, my good girl, she will be a martyr, and go to bliss. So,
end as it may, it will all be right. We should bow to the will of
Heaven,” said the princess, piously.

“Can’t see it, mum, as it would all be right for the innocent to be
conwicted, nor the will of Heaven, nyther, begging your pardon, mum, for
speaking of my poor mind,” said Tabby, respectfully.

“You are a simple girl, and need instruction. Now, assist your young
mistress to put on her bonnet and shawl. Eudora, stand up, my poor
child, and put on your wrappings.”

“Yes, Miss, do so if you please, as the storm is rising, and it is
getting late, and the roads is horrid between here and the gaol,” said
the constable, showing signs of impatience.

“Ah, wait! pray wait until Mr. Montrose returns. He went to ask the
magistrates if I might be confined here until morning,” pleaded Eudora.

“Do your duty, officer! Why do you stand arrested by the prayers of that
evil girl? She did not fear to commit crime, she should not fear to meet
its consequences. Do your duty at once, for every moment she is
permitted to remain beneath this honored roof is an outrage to the
memory of those whom she has hurried to their early graves,” said the
doctor, sternly.

The constable still hesitated, and Eudora still stood with pale face,
intense eyes, and clasped hands, silently imploring delay, when the door
opened, and Malcolm Montrose entered with the order of the magistrates,
commanding Eudora Leaton to be locked in the chamber, under strict
guard, until the morning.

“Thank you, thank you! Oh, thank you for this short respite, dear
Malcolm!” exclaimed the poor girl, bursting into tears of relief.

Malcolm pressed her hand in silence, and then whispered to her to hope.

The doctor really trembled with rage.

“Very well,” he said, “I will see at least, that her present prison is
secure. Madame Pezzilini, will your highness condescend to withdraw from
the room?” he added, turning respectfully to the princess.

“Good-night, Eudora; repent and pray,” said the princess, and bowing
graciously to Mr. Montrose and to the doctor, she withdrew.

“Leave the room, and go about your several businesses every man and
woman of you! I want this room to myself and the constable,” was the
next stern order of the doctor to the assembled domestics.

All immediately departed except Tabitha Tabs, who went boldly and placed
herself beside her young mistress as a tower of strength.

“Follow your fellow-servants, woman,” commenced the doctor.

“When my young lady orders me to do so, sir,” replied Tabitha, coldly.

Eudora’s left hand was clenched in that of Malcolm Montrose, and she
threw out her right hand and grasped that of her humble attendant,
exclaiming eagerly:

“Oh, no, no, no, do not leave me, good Tabitha!” For she felt almost
safe between the two.

“Not till they tears me away piecemeal with pincers, Miss! for I reckon
I’m too big to be forced away all at once,” replied Tabitha, violently,
drawing up her large person, and looking defiance from her resolute

“Officers, remove that contumacious girl from the room,” said the doctor

The two constables stepped forward to obey, but Malcolm Montrose dropped
the hand of Eudora and confronted them, saying:

“On your peril!”

Then turning to the enraged physician, he said:

“Doctor, nothing but my knowledge of the sincerity of your attachment to
the late family enables me to endure the violence of your conduct. But
you push your privileges and my patience too far. You have no right to
say that this girl shall not remain in attendance upon her unhappy
mistress through the night. What harm can she do? Besides, if Miss
Leaton is to be guarded by constables placed on the outside of her
chamber door, it is but proper that she should have a female attendant
in the room with her.”

“Very well,” said the doctor, grimly, “as far as I am concerned, she may
keep her waiting-woman _in_; but I shall take very good care that she
herself does not get _out_.”

And so saying, he went immediately to the two high Gothic windows that
lighted the vast room, closed the strong oaken shutters, placed the iron
bars across them, secured the latter with padlocks, and gave the keys to
the head constable, who held the warrant. He next stationed one of the
officers on the other side of the door leading to the other rooms of his
suite of apartments, directing him to lock the door and keep the key in
his pocket. And, finally, having ascertained that all the fastenings of
the chamber were well secured, he prepared to withdraw.

Malcolm Montrose pressed the hand of Eudora to his heart, saying:

“Good-night, dearest Eudora. Confide in the God who watches over to
deliver innocence.” And bending lowly to her ear, he whispered:

“Hope.” Then raising his head and looking kindly toward Tabitha, he

“Good girl, take great care of your mistress to-night.”

“You may trust me for that, sir,” answered Miss Tabs, confidently.

And once more pressing the hand of Eudora, he resigned it and withdrew
from the room.

The doctor and the head constable followed. They all paused in the hall
outside until the constable had double-locked the door, and put the key
in his pocket, and taken his station before the room.

“And now I think your prisoner is quite secure, even though you should
sleep on your post, officer,” said the doctor, with grim satisfaction,
as he walked from the spot.

Malcolm Montrose smiled strangely as he followed.

In the hall below they were met by a servant, who announced the arrival
of Mr. Carter, the family solicitor, who had asked to see Mr. Montrose,
and who had been shown to the library, where he now waited.

Malcolm immediately went thither, and when seated at the writing-table
with the attorney, related to him all the details of the household
tragedy, and the arrest of Eudora Leaton upon the awful charge of
poisoning the whole family.

Even the clear-headed, case-hardened old lawyer was shocked and
stupified by the dreadful story. When Malcolm had finished, and the
lawyer had recovered his presence of mind, they discussed the affair as
calmly as circumstances would permit. The lawyer insisted that the
evidence against the accused girl was quite convicting, and that there
was not in the whole wide range of human possibility a single chance of
her being acquitted; while Malcolm, in agonized earnestness, persisted
in upholding her perfect innocence.

“But if _she_ did not do it, who did it?” pertinently inquired the

“Aye, WHO indeed! Conjecture is at a full stand!” answered Malcolm,
wiping the drops forced out by mental anguish from his brow.

“Is no one else amenable to suspicion?”

“Not one!”

“Had the late family deeply offended any person, or casually injured any
one, or made any enemy?”

“No, no, no; they never wronged or offended a human being, or had an
enemy in the world.”

“Was there no one whose interest ran counter to those of the late baron
and his House?”

“None on earth! Lord Leaton and his family were on the best possible
terms with all their friends, acquaintances and dependants. They were
widely, deeply, and sincerely beloved.”

“It comes back, then, to this; that no one would have any interest in
the extinction of this whole family, except this half-Indian girl, who
is their heiress, who it appears attended them in their illness, and
prepared and administered the drinks of which they died, and in which
the poison was detected—the poison, mark you, of the _Faber Sancta
Ignatii_, a deadly product of the East, scarcely known in England, but
familiar, no doubt, to this Asiatic girl. Mr. Montrose, the case is very
clear,” said the lawyer, with an ominous shake of the head.

“Then you think,” said the young man, in a tone of anguish, “that if she
is brought to trial——”

His voice was choked by his rising agony. He could utter no more.

“I think it as certain as any future event can be in this uncertain
world that Eudora Leaton will be condemned and executed for the
poisoning of her uncle’s family. Mr. Montrose! Good Heavens, sir, you
are very ill! You—you have not partaken of any food or drink in this
thrice-accursed house, but what you could rely upon?” exclaimed the
lawyer, rising up in alarm, and going to the side of the young man, who
had fallen back in his chair, his whole form convulsed, his pallid
features writhing, and the drops of sweat, wrung from anguish that he
vainly endeavored to subdue and control, beading upon his icy brow.

“Mr. Montrose—let me call——”

“No, no,” interrupted Malcolm, holding up his hand with an adjuring
gesture, and struggling to regain his self-control, for manhood can ill
brook to bend beneath the power of suffering.

“No! It is the blow!”

“Then, Malcolm, meet it like a man!” said the lawyer, who began to
understand that it was a mental, and not a physical agony that convulsed
the strong frame of the young man.

“But she, Eudora, so young and beautiful, so innocent and so beloved, to
be hurled down to a destruction so appalling!” burst in groans of
anguish from the heaving breast of Malcolm.

He dropped his arms and head upon the table, while sobs of agony
convulsed his great chest.

“But I will save her!” he said to himself. “In spite of all this, I will
save her. I have staked my life, my soul and honor upon her innocence;
and now I will peril that same life, soul, and honor for her

This mental resolution gave him great strength, for at once he resumed
the command of himself, arose, apologized to the lawyer for the
exhibition of emotion into which he had been betrayed, and would have
resumed the conversation in a calmer frame of mind, had not a servant
entered and announced supper.

Malcolm begged the lawyer to excuse him for not appearing at the supper
table, and also requested him to bear his excuses to the magistrates who
had assisted at the coroner’s inquest, and who now remained to supper.

The lawyer readily promised to represent Mr. Montrose to the guests, and
withdrew for that purpose.

Malcolm arose and paced the library floor, engaged in close thought for
about half an hour, and then passed out to seek the privacy of his own

The whole house was in a painful though subdued bustle.

The members of the coroner’s jury, though at liberty to go, had not yet
dispersed. The strange fascination that spell-binds men to the scene of
any atrocious crime or awful calamity, kept them lingering about the
halls and chambers of Allworth Abbey.

The undertaker’s people were also in the house making preliminary
arrangements for the approaching double funeral. And the servants of the
family were continually passing to and fro, waiting upon them.

Malcolm passed through them all and went to his own chamber, locked
himself in, and threw himself upon a chair near the bay window that
overlooked the Black Pool.

It was a beautiful summer night, and the stars that spangled the clear,
blue-black canopy of heaven were reflected on the surface of the Black
Pool like jewels upon an Ethiope’s dark bosom.

But Malcolm had no eye for the beauty of the starlight night. He was
thinking of that black and endless night that had gathered over Eudora’s
head. He rested his elbow upon the arms of his chair, and bowed his head
upon his hand, and thus he sat for more than an hour without changing
his position. Then he arose and looked forth from the window, and turned
and paced the floor, stopping at intervals to listen. Thus passed
another hour. And by this time the troubled household had settled to
repose, and all was quiet.

Then Malcolm Montrose left his room, locking the door and taking the key
with him, and passed down the long corridor leading to the central
upper-hall and the grand staircase. When he entered the hall he saw the
constable standing on guard before the chamber door of the imprisoned
girl. The man was wide-awake, on the alert, and touched his hat as Mr.
Montrose passed. Malcolm went down the great staircase and through the
deserted lower hall to the main entrance, where he unbarred and unlocked
the doors and let himself out.

He took his way immediately to the stables, entered them, drew forth a
light chaise, led out a swift horse, put him between the shafts, and
finally jumped into the driver’s seat, and drove off through the
northern gate towards a thickly-wooded part of the park until he reached
the ruins of an ancient nunnery. Then he jumped out and fastened his
horse to a tree, and sought the cellars of the ruins, reiterating his

“I have staked my life, soul, and honor upon Eudora’s innocence, and now
to peril life, soul, and honor for Eudora’s salvation!”

                              CHAPTER VI.
                        THE UNDERGROUND PASSAGE.

                “’Tis sure some dream, some vision wild!
                What, _I_, of rank and wealth the child,
                Am _I_ the wretch that bears this shame,
                Deprived of freedom, friends and fame?”

The chamber in which Lady Leaton had died, and where Eudora was
imprisoned, had, in the olden time, been the abbot’s apartment. It was a
vast, dark, gloomy room, now dimly lighted by a lamp that stood upon the

For a long time after Malcolm Montrose, Dr. Watkins and the constables
had withdrawn from the chamber, Eudora remained, crushed back in the
depths of the large chair, with her head bowed upon her bosom, her black
ringlets falling forward, and half veiling her beautiful dark face, her
left hand, that Malcolm had resigned, falling listlessly down by her
side, and her right hand still clasped in that of Tabitha, who continued
to stand by her side. No word was spoken between them as yet. Eudora was
buried in profound, agonizing and bewildering thought, such as always
overwhelms the sensitive victim of any sudden and crushing misfortune.
The shock of the thunderbolt that had just fallen upon her, devastating
her inner life, and leaving the outer so still, and black, and
threatening: the vast, dark, sombre room; the dead silence around
her—all combined to shake her reason to its centre. In the confusion
wrought among nerves, head and brain by this inner storm of sensation,
thought and suffering, she was fast losing confidence in heaven, trust
in the reality of external circumstances, and even faith in her own

Suddenly she threw herself forward, and tightened her clasp upon
Tabitha’s hand, with convulsive tone, exclaiming:

“Wake me! wake me, Tabitha! I have the nightmare, and cannot rouse
myself. Oh, wake me! wake me, for the love of Heaven!”

Tabitha, whom respect for her mistress’s sorrow had hitherto kept
silent, now became alarmed for her sanity.

Bending over her with an almost reverential tenderness, she whispered:

“Dear young lady, try to be composed and collect your thoughts, and
remember yourself.”

“Oh, Heaven! I remember too well! too well!” cried Eudora, in a piercing
voice, dropping her face into her hands, and shuddering through her
whole frame. “It is no horrible illusion! It is an awful reality! My
aunt and cousin are really dead, and I am arrested upon the charge of
poisoning them! Oh, horrible! most horrible! Oh, I shall go mad! I shall
go mad!” she exclaimed, starting from her chair, casting up her arms,
and throwing herself forward upon the floor.

For a moment Tabitha gazed in dismay upon this exhibition of violent
emotion in one whom she loved and honored almost to adoration, and then
kneeling down beside her, she gently put her arms around her waist to
raise her up, whispering in a low, respectful voice:

“Dear young lady, try to recollect yourself, your dignity, your rank,
and, above all, your innocence, and put your trust in God!”

Put your trust in God. It was the best advice the simple country-girl
could give, but the Archbishop of Canterbury could not have given any

Eudora suffered herself to be lifted up and replaced in the deep chair,
into which she sank helplessly, and where she remained, with her head
propped upon her breast, and her arms fallen upon her lap, in the stupor
of despair to which the violence of her anguish had yielded.

Tabitha kneeled at her feet, took her hands, and gazing pleadingly up
into her face, said:

“Dear Miss Eudora, look up and hope; all is not lost that is in danger!
Have faith in Him who delivered the three innocent children from the
fires of the furnace seven times heated. Come, now, let me undress you
and help you to bed.”

“Into that bed—into that bed whence _her_ corpse has just been removed?
Oh, never, never! Besides, I could not sleep with the prospect of
to-morrow before me, when I shall be taken to the common gaol. How could
I sleep? I shall never sleep again! Good girl, leave me to my own
thoughts,” said Eudora, with a trembling voice and quivering face.

Tabitha spoke no more, but drawing a footstool, she sat down at her
mistress’s feet, and silently held one of her listless hands.

Some time they sat thus: the heavy minutes seemed drawn out to the
length of hours. The house was still as death, and the mantle clock was
on the stroke of eleven when the quick ears of Tabitha caught a slight,
cautious, grating sound in the wainscoted wall on the left of the
fire-place. She raised her head, and turned her eyes quickly in the
direction of the sound, and with a half-suppressed shriek and a
throbbing heart, she saw one of the oak panels slide away, and an
anxious face and a warning hand appear at the opening.

The smothered cry of her woman had attracted Eudora’s attention; and
with the apathy of one plunged so deeply in wretchedness as to fear no
farther evil, the unhappy girl followed, with her listless glance, the
frightened gaze of her attendant.

At this moment the hand at the opening was extended in an encouraging
gesture, and a familiar voice murmured, quickly and softly:

“Hist! hist, Tabitha! Don’t be afraid! It is I.”

And the next instant the man came through the opening, and Malcolm
Montrose stood within the room. He extended his hand in a warning manner
as he approached, saying:

“Hist! hist! for Heaven’s love, control yourselves! be composed, and all
will be well!”

By this time he stood before the mistress and the maid, who gazed upon
him in astonishment indeed, but not in alarm.

“Let us speak in whispers, and then, thanks to the thickness of these
walls and doors, we shall not be heard by the policemen on guard.
Listen—there are bolts on this side of the chamber doors. Are they drawn

“No, sir,” replied Tabitha, in a hushed voice.

With a sign that they should remain silent and motionless, Malcolm
glided on tip-toe, first to one door and then to the other, and
cautiously slid the bolts into their sockets, making them both as fast
on the inside as they were on the outside.

He then returned to the side of Eudora, and stood for a moment listening
intently, and then apparently satisfied that all was well, he murmured:

“Peace be with the worthy king or bishop who built these walls so
solidly! The sentinels without have heard nothing.”

Then turning to the curious, anxious, and expectant waiting-maid he

“Tabitha, my good girl, I can depend upon you to aid me in freeing your
young lady?”

“Depend upon me? Oh, sir, don’t you know and doesn’t she know that I
would throw myself between her and all that threatens her, and meet it
in her stead, if so be I could?” said the brave and devoted girl, in a
vehement whisper.

“Indeed it will be but little less than that which will be required of
you, my good Tabitha.”

“Don’t doubt me, sir, but try me!” said the young woman, stoutly.

“Well, then, Tabitha, you have first to prepare your young lady for a
hasty journey—thanks to the secret passage leading from the abbot’s
apartments—to the ruins of the neighboring nunnery, which scandal
declares to have been once put to a less worthy use. I have been able to
provide the means for her escape. But you, my good girl, will have to
remain here to cover her retreat, to face those who will come to seek
her in the morning, and to withstand all questions as to how or with
whom she left her prison. Are you firm enough for the duty, Tabitha?”

“Let ’em try me, that’s all, sir; and if they don’t find out as they’re
met their match this time, I’m not a woman, but a muff. They may send me
to prison, or they may hang me if they like. But I defy them to make me
speak when I don’t want to speak!”

“They can do you no real harm, my girl, be sure of that. They would only
threaten and frighten you at most.”

“Frighten who? Lawks, sir, you don’t know me; I aint made of
frightenable stuff. But, sir, how we talk! won’t they know at once that
my young lady got off through that secret passage of which you speak?”

“No; for its very existence is unknown or forgotten. It was only
accident that discovered it to me some years ago, when I was delving
among the ruins of the convent, and found in one of the cellars its
other terminus. I entered it to thread its mazes; I should have been
smothered but for the many crooked crevices in its rocky roof that let
in the air. I found that it led to a steep narrow staircase; ascending
it, I found myself opposite a panel, the character of which I could see
by means of the narrow lines of light around its old and shrunken frame,
light that evidently came from the opposite side. Curiosity got the
better of discretion, and I worked away at the panel and slipped it
aside, when, to my dismay, I found myself looking in upon the privacy of
Lady Leaton’s sleeping-chamber, which was fortunately then empty. It was
this, which was in the olden time the apartment of the Abbot. I was but
a boy then, and being frightened at what I had done, I hastily replaced
the panel and retreated, and never mentioned my adventure to any one.
Afterwards, consulting the guidebook, I found that there was a mere
tradition of a secret passage leading from the Abbey to the Convent,
which scandal asserted to have been used by the master here when going
to rendezvous with some fair nun; but of the precise locality of this
secret passage, or even of its actual existence, the book did not
pretend to speak with authority. Once I mentioned the tradition to my
uncle and aunt, but they disregarded it as mere romance, and I kept my
own counsel, and deferred the mention of my discovery to some future
occasion. But to-night I have turned my knowledge of the secret passage
to some account; to-night, once more I have threaded its mazes, and find
myself in this chamber. I shall conduct Miss Leaton through this passage
to the other outlet in the cellars of the ruined convent; there I have a
chaise to carry her off. Farther than this, I need not tell you. And I
have told you this much, first, because I believe you fully worthy of
the confidence, and secondly, that being possessed of the real facts,
you may be on your guard against cross-questioning as well as against
threats, and so be able to baffle inquiry as well as to withstand
browbeating,” said Malcolm Montrose.

“Oh, never you fear me, sir; I will never give Miss Leaton’s enemies the
satisfaction of knowing as much as I know,” said Tabitha, firmly.

The young man had addressed himself first to the maid, not only to
secure her immediate sympathy and co-operation, but also to afford Miss
Leaton time to recover from her surprise, compose her spirits and
collect her thoughts.

Now he turned to Eudora, who had been much agitated by the infusion of
new hope into her despair, but who now controlling herself, sat quietly,
though intently listening, and addressing her with reverential
tenderness, he said:

“And now, dearest Eudora, rouse yourself; collect all your energies, and
prepare for your immediate flight.”

She looked at him intently for a moment, and then in a faltering voice

“But oh, is it right? Ought I, who am as innocent as a child of that
which they charge me with, ought I, like a guilty creature, to fly from
justice? Think of it well, and then answer me, for I can rely upon your
wisdom as well as upon your honor.”

“Eudora,” said the young man in a solemn voice, “it is not from
_justice_ that I counsel you to fly, for you are innocent as you say,
and the innocent have nothing to fear from justice; if there was a
shadow of a hope that you would meet justice, my tongue should be the
last to advise, my hand the last to assist your escape. No, Eudora, it
is not from _justice_, but from the cruelest injustice—from murder, from
martyrdom that I would snatch you!”

“Yet still think once more. You grant that I am innocent. Conscious of
that innocence, ought I not to have courage enough to meet the trial,
and faith enough to trust in God for deliverance?” inquired the girl

“Trust in God, by all means, through all things, and to any extent: but
exercise that trust by wisely embracing the means He has provided for
your escape rather than by madly remaining to meet swift and certain

“But yet—but yet it seems weak and wrong for the innocent to fly like
the guilty!” said Eudora, hesitatingly.

“Does it? Then I will give you Scripture warrant and example for the
course! When Herod sent forth and slew the infants in Galilee, did the
parents of the child Jesus tarry in Bethlehem because he was innocent
and even Divine? No; warned by the angel, they fled into Egypt. In after
years, when Jesus went about preaching and teaching through Jerusalem,
and when the high priests sought Him to kill Him, did He tarry in deadly
peril because He was innocent, holy, and Divine? No! He withdrew into
the Mount of Olives, or entered a ship, and put off from the land,
because His hour had not yet come! Oh, Eudora! it is not faith but
presumption that tempts you to remain and face sure and sudden ruin,”
urged the young man, in impassioned earnestness, while he gazed in an
agony of anxiety upon her countenance.

Eudora shuddered through her whole frame, but remained silent.

“Oh, Heaven, Eudora!” he continued, “why do you still hesitate? Must I
set the truth before you in all its ghastly realities? I must, I must,
for time presses, and the danger is imminent! Listen, most unhappy girl!
You are here a prisoner, charged with the most atrocious crime that ever
cursed humanity; that charge is supported by a mass of evidence that
would crush an archangel! To-morrow morning you will be removed from
this room to the common gaol. Next week the assizes will be held; you
will be brought to trial; you will be overwhelmed beneath an avalanche
of evidence! and then—oh, Heaven, Eudora! but two short weeks will
elapse between the sentence of the judge and the execution of the
prisoner! In less than one little month from this you will be
murdered—martyred!” exclaimed the young man in thrilling, vehement,
impassioned whispers, while the agitation of his whole frame, and the
perspiration that streamed from his flushed brow, exhibited the agony of
his anxiety.

With a smothered shriek, the unhappy girl fell back in her chair, and
covered her face with her hands, as though to shut out the scene of
horror that had been called up before her imagination.

“Fly, Eudora! fly at once! fly with me, and I will place you in safety,
where you may remain until Providence shall bring the truth to light,
the guilty to justice, and your innocence to a perfect vindication! Fly!
fly, Eudora! It would be madness to stay!”

“I will! I will fly!” she exclaimed, in a hurried whisper, as she
started up.

Tabitha snatched up the black bonnet and shawl that had been brought in
on the preceding evening for a far different purpose, and hastily
assisted her mistress to put them on. She tied the little bonnet strings
under her chin, and tied the black crape veil over her face. Then she
wrapped the shawl carefully around her form, doubling its folds twice
over her chest to protect it from the chill of the night air, for
Eudora’s Asiatic temperament would ill bear exposure in this climate of
cold mists, and pronounced her ready for her journey.

As Malcolm looked anxiously upon her, he saw that her simple, plain
dress of deep mourning was admirably well calculated for her escape and
her journey, for it revealed nothing of her social position, since the
wearer of such a dress might be the daughter of a tradesman or the child
of an earl.

“And now, my good girl, we must take leave of you at once. Remember that
no one can harm you; therefore be firm in refusing to give any clue to
the manner of Miss Leaton’s escape,” said Malcolm Montrose, shaking
hands with the faithful attendant.

“Never you doubt, sir; they shall draw me apart with wild horses before
they draw any information from me,” said Tabitha, firmly.

“Good-bye, dear girl; I hope, and trust, and pray that you may come to
no evil through your devotion to me,” said Eudora, kissing her humble

“Never you fear, Miss; if any body comes to grief in this chase, it
won’t be her as is hunted, but them as hunts, which is as much as to say
it won’t be Tabitha Tabs!” said the latter, valiantly.

After once more pressing the hand of her faithful maid, Eudora followed
Malcolm through the secret opening, leaving the brave Tabitha alone in
the chamber.

                              CHAPTER VII.
                              THE FLIGHT.

                  “Fly, lady, fly before the wind!
                    The moor is wild and waste,
                  The hound of blood is close behind,
                    Haste! gentle lady, haste!”

After closing the sliding panel behind him, and carefully adjusting it
in its place, Malcolm took the hand of his companion to guide her down
the narrow, steep and dangerous steps that led to the secret passage.
This caution was the more needful, as it was so dark that only Malcolm’s
previous knowledge of the passage enabled him to feel his own way and
guide his companion through it.

Something like an hundred perpendicular steps brought them down to a low
and narrow archway, not unlike the entrance to a rudely constructed

Although it was still quite dark, and Malcolm, drawing his companion
after him, was obliged to grope his way along this tunnel, yet
occasional sharp drafts of wind proved that there existed certain
irregular crevices in the rocks overhead that in the daytime admitted a
little light as well as air, although their winding or crooked formation
might prevent any one on the ground above seeing or suspecting the
existence of the subterranean passage beneath their feet. As this tunnel
took nearly a straight line to the old nunnery, a walk of about ten
minutes brought Malcolm and Eudora to the other terminus that admitted
them to the lower cellars under the ruins.

When they had emerged from the tunnel into these cellars, Malcolm paused
and carefully collected bricks, stones, and other fallen portions of the
building, with which he choked up and concealed the narrow opening.

Then taking the hand of Eudora, he led her from the cellars up into the
outer air.

Here, in the ruined chapel, they found the pony-chaise fastened to a
young oak-tree that grew within what had once been the grand altar of
the chapel of the convent.

He led the horse out to the road, and then returned and conducted Eudora
to the chaise, placed her in it, took the seat by her side, and drove
rapidly off. A drive of ten minutes brought them to a rural railway

Up to this time no word had been spoken between them, so intense had
been the anxiety of both. But now, when he had alighted and fastened his
horse to a tree, and came to the chaise to hand her out, he whispered:

“Draw down your veil, Eudora, and keep it down.”

She silently obeyed, and he handed her out and led her into the office
of the station.

“Two first-class tickets to London,” he said to the clerk behind the
little office-windows.

They were supplied to him.

“When does the London train pass here?” he next inquired.

“In half an hour, sir.”

“That will do,” replied Mr. Montrose. Then, drawing the arm of Eudora
within his own, he conducted her to the waiting-room.

It was empty.

“Remain here, dearest Eudora, until I return. I shall be back in twenty
minutes. It is not likely that any one will come in here during my
absence, as very few first-class lady passengers take the train at this
station at this hour; nevertheless, keep your veil down,” said Malcolm,
as he placed her in a chair in a dark corner of the room. He then
pressed her hand, left her, and hurried out to the place where he had
left the pony-chaise.

He unhitched the horse, mounted the driver’s seat, and drove madly off
towards Allworth. So fiercely he drove that in ten minutes he reached
the stables, and returned the horse bathed in sweat and covered with
foam to his stall. He replaced the chaise in the carriage-house, and
then set off in a run toward the railway station. He could not run quite
so fast as a horse could gallop, and so the distance accomplished by the
pony in ten minutes occupied him fifteen.

It wanted, therefore, but about five minutes to the passing of the train
when he rejoined Eudora in the waiting-room.

Besides Eudora, he found two gentlemen and one lady in the same room.
They seemed, also, to belong to the same party, for they walked and
talked together; and the subject of their conversation was that which
then formed the topic of the whole neighborhood, and which was destined
soon to form the topic of the whole kingdom—the tragedy of Allworth

“They say,” observed the lady, “that it is incontrovertibly proved that
this Asiatic girl, Eudora Leaton, was the poisoner, and that her motive
was the inheritance of the estate. One can scarcely believe in such
depravity in one so young as this girl is represented to be.”

“Crime is of no age or sex, madam; and from all that we can hear, it
seems abundantly proved that this young girl actually _did_ poison the
whole family,” replied the old gentleman addressed, whom Malcolm now,
with extreme anxiety, recognized as a neighbor, Admiral Brunton, of the
Anchorage, near Abbeytown.

“Good Heaven, what a fiend she must be! But she is young, beautiful,
high-born, and very accomplished. Do you think that if she is convicted
they will really hang her?”

“Hang her? Yes; the young demon! They will hang her as surely as they
did Palmer. English juries have no mercy on the secret poisoner. And the
fact of this one being a young, beautiful, and high-born girl, only
makes her crime the more unnatural and monstrous!”

“But, admiral, it is hard to believe that so lovely a creature could be
such a monster,” said the lady.

“Bah! bah! madam; you have not read history, or you have forgotten it.
Remember the Countess of Essex, Madame Brinvilliers, Lucretia Borgia,
Mary Stuart, and many other young, beautiful, and high-born devils.
Human nature is the same in all ages and countries. The youth, beauty,
and high-birth of this young Asiatic fiend will no more save her from
the gallows than the same sort of charms saved Brinvilliers or Mary
Stuart from the block!” replied the old gentleman, savagely.

Shudder after shudder passed over the frame of the unfortunate subject
of these severe remarks, as she sat an unsuspected hearer of the

Malcolm, standing by her side, with his back to the speakers, could only
seek to sustain her courage by an earnest pressure of her hand. It was
but an ordeal of five minutes, and then the shrill whistle of the
advancing train warned all the passengers to hurry to the platform.

The conversing party dropped their interesting subject, and hastened

Malcolm, drawing Eudora’s arm within his own, hurried after them.

When they arrived upon the platform the train had stopped, and the
engine was noisily puffing and blowing like a short-winded alderman out
of breath after a run.

Passengers were hurrying into the various carriages.

“Can we have a _coupé_?” inquired Malcolm, slipping a crown into the
hands of one of the guards.

“Oh, yes, sir,” answered that functionary, opening a door and admitting
the fugitives into the desired privacy.

“Sweethearts!” he muttered to himself, as he locked the door and
pocketed the crown.

The train started, and Malcolm and Eudora, finding themselves alone in
the _coupé_, looked in each other’s faces wistfully.

“Oh, Malcolm,” said Eudora, “how terrible it is to be so wronged and
hated, and by one’s old family friends, too! Did you hear old Admiral
Brunton, how he spoke of me? Ah! little did he think how near at hand I
was to hear him.”

“Yes, dear Eudora, I heard him. His remarks were valuable, only to show
how right you are to fly until this storm shall pass,” replied the young

“But to be wronged and hated so, Malcolm, and by my uncle’s old friends!
Oh! it is very, very cruel!”

“You must bear up under it bravely, dear love. The time will come when
your innocence will be proved, and then those very friends who wrong you
by their suspicions now will bitterly repent their injustice, and will
love and esteem you more than ever before,” answered the young man,

The train rattled on. It was the express, and stopped at no other
station between Abbeytown and London, where it was expected to arrive at
five o’clock in the morning.

Malcolm and Eudora sank back in their seats, and fell into silence.

Eudora relapsed into despair, and Malcolm sank into thought. He had
taken her from confinement and immediate danger, but not perhaps from
quick pursuit and rearrest. In the plan of her instant deliverance his
decision and his action had necessarily been so prompt and rapid, that
no time had been left him to determine upon any fixed place of refuge
for the fugitive. His only general idea had been to fly with her, and
conceal her in the multitudinous wilderness of London, until he could
arrange her escape to the Continent. He wished above all things to make
her his own by marriage as soon as they should reach the city; but he
knew that to do so would expose her to certain discovery. He felt
therefore obliged to defer this purpose until he could escape with her
to the Continent.

To attempt to take her from England immediately he knew would be to
expose her to the certainty of arrest. For, according to the usual
practice, as soon as her escape should be discovered, which it must
inevitably be in a few hours, telegrams he knew would be despatched to
the police or every seaport to anticipate her arrival and to intercept
her passage.

To hide her, therefore, in the crowds of London until the first heat of
the pursuit should be over, then to escape with her to some foreign
country, and there unite his fate with hers for good or ill forever—and
then wait patiently until Providence should bring the truth to light, by
discovering the guilty and vindicating her innocence—seemed the only
plan that promised any success.

“But where in London should he leave her?” It must be in a part of the
town far distant from the terminus of the Great Northern Railway; it
must be in a thickly-populated neighborhood, where the presence even of
a remarkable stranger should not attract the slightest notice; it must
be in lodgings over some small busy shop, where the people should be too
much occupied with their own concerns to pry into those of others.

After much close thought, Malcolm fixed upon the Borough as the
neighborhood of their destination. Lodgings of the description he wished
to find for Eudora were not scarce in that locality.

Having settled this point to his satisfaction, the next thing to be
considered was under what name and character, and with what pretext, he
should leave her in her destined lodgings. To introduce her by her real
name would be certain destruction, since, before another twenty-four
hours, that name—connected with a horrible crime—would be widely blown
over England. To pass her under an assumed name, though the extreme
exigency of the circumstances might almost seem to justify the
deception, was an idea abhorrent to his truthful, honorable and
high-toned nature. The longer he thought of this difficulty the more
insurmountable it seemed. Occupied with this problem, which any one of
less delicate scruples would have quickly solved, Malcolm did not once
speak again to his companion, even to attempt to rouse her from the fit
of despondency into which she had again fallen.

Meantime the train flew over the sterile heaths of Yorkshire, and in due
time entered the more cultivated country nearer the great metropolis.

At last, rousing himself desperately, he said to his companion:

“Eudora, dearest, have you any middle name?”

“Yes; I was christened Eudora Milnes; but I never use my middle name,
and, indeed, never did; it is quite a dead letter,” replied the girl, in
surprise at the question.

“So much the better. I cannot endure the idea of your passing under a
fictitious name, and yet you must not be known as Eudora Leaton. I shall
therefore call you Miss Milnes; do not forget it. And if your other name
is marked upon any of your clothing, do not fail to cut it out, lest it
should meet the eye of your laundress. As you bring no clothing with
you, you will have to procure a small supply from some outfitter, and be
sure to order them marked ‘E. Milnes.’ They will think ‘E’ stands for
Emily, or Eliza, or some such common name. Dear girl, I trust these
precautions will not long be needful,” said Malcolm, endeavoring to
infuse into her heart a hope that he himself was far from feeling.

The train flew onward, and soon the lights of London were seen to the
southward before them.

Day was dawning when the train arrived at the King’s-cross station.

“Now, my dearest Eudora, you must trust yourself entirely to me,
believing that I will do all that is best for your safety,” said
Malcolm, as the train stopped.

“I am sure that you will, my best and only friend; besides, who in the
world have I now to trust in but yourself?” said Eudora, in deep

“You shall never regret the confidence you place in me, Eudora,” replied
Malcolm, earnestly.

At this moment the guard opened the door. He was the same man who had
put them into the _coupé_ at the Abbeytown Station; and in grateful
remembrance of the crown-piece given him by Mr. Montrose, he now
politely inquired if the gentleman wanted a cab, and offered to call

Malcolm perceived at once that this man would be sure to remember
himself and his black-veiled companion, and would be able to describe
her appearance if inquiries should be made of him, as they were nearly
certain to be. He felt, therefore, the necessity of throwing the man off
the scent of his own purposed course. With this design, he inquired:

“When does the next train start for Liverpool?”

“At five thirty, sir.”

“Then you may call me a cab at once,” said Mr. Montrose, handing his
companion from the _coupé_, and leading her through the station.

The cab drew up.

The officious guard held the door open until Mr. Montrose had put his
companion in and taken his seat beside her.

“Where shall I order the man to drive, sir?” asked the guard.

“To Euston-square Station, of course,” replied Mr. Montrose.

“A runaway match, as sure as shooting. They didn’t even stop to take
their luggage,” said the guard to himself, as he closed the door.

The order was given, and the carriage started.

It was a dark, foggy morning, into which broad day seemed unable to
break. The streets were at this hour half-deserted, and very dreary. The
carriage rattled noisily over the stones between closed shops and
darkened houses, and drew up before Euston-square Station.

Here the scene was much busier. A crowd of carriages of all descriptions
were continually drawing up or driving off. A multitude of people were
pouring in and out of the building, for one train had just arrived, and
another was just about to start.

Mr. Montrose alighted, handed out his companion, and paid and dismissed
the cab. And at the same moment a newly-arrived traveller stepped up,
engaged the same cab, and ordered the man to drive to “Mivart’s.”

And Mr. Montrose, glad that this possible witness to his next
proceedings was taken out of the way, led Eudora into the station. It
was very much crowded, and the space before the ticket-windows was
thronged. While Malcolm debated with himself whether he should carry his
_ruse_ so far as actually to lead Eudora up to the first-class window
and take tickets, he saw a gentleman and a young lady in deep mourning,
closely veiled, go up and get two first-class tickets to Liverpool.

“That will do,” said Malcolm to himself. “Should inquiries be pushed to
this extent, that party may pass very well for her they seek.”

Then drawing Eudora’s arm within his own, and joining the throng of
newly-arrived passengers that were passing from the station, he went
forth. Taking an opposite direction from that of the place at which they
had first been set down, he called another cab, placed Eudora in, took
his seat by her side, and ordered the man to drive to St. Paul’s

It was now broad daylight, and all London was waking up and throwing
open its windows. As they drove along, Mr. Montrose said to his
wondering companion:

“Now, my dearest Eudora, though you ask me no questions concerning this
strange proceeding, I must give you an explanation. I have acted thus in
order to throw your pursuers off the scent; for if that railway-guard
who attended us at Abbeytown and at the King’s-cross station, should be
examined by the police, as is most likely, though he may be able to
describe your person, dress, and appearance in such an accurate manner
as to leave no doubt upon their minds that it was yourself who came up
to London by the night train, yet, mark me, he will say that on reaching
the King’s-cross terminus you took a cab to the Euston-square Station to
catch the ‘five thirty’ down train to Liverpool. The cabman who took us
down will support his evidence, and even the clerk of the first-class
ticket-office will corroborate both testimonies by remembering a young
lady in deep mourning, who took a first-class ticket for that train to
Liverpool. Thus being thrown off the true scent by my ruse, they will
think that you have gone down to Liverpool with the purpose of escaping
by one of the outward-bound steamers, while you may repose unsuspected
and securely in London.”

“But,” said Eudora, anxiously, “since I have fled, had I not better
continue my flight? Had I not better escape at once to some foreign

“It would be impossible for you to do so at present, Eudora. I must tell
you why. In an hour or two from this time your flight will be discovered
at Allworth. In the same hour telegrams will be despatched to the police
of every seaport on the coast of England to intercept you if you should
attempt to pass. These telegrams will reach their destinations before
you could possibly arrive at any seaport, and you would be arrested
immediately upon your arrival.”

“Oh, Lord of Heaven! that I, that I should be so hunted! hunted as
though I were a wild beast!” exclaimed Eudora, shuddering with terror.

“Many a fair and good queen and princess has been so hunted before you,
dear girl! Even in recent times your own friend, the heroic Princess
Pezzilini, was obliged to fly for her life! Emulate her heroism, dear
girl,” said Malcolm, earnestly pressing her hand.

“Ah! but she was not dishonored by the charge of a foul and monstrous
crime. Her offence was a political one, and her very flight was
honorable. There is no parallel between her case and mine,” moaned the
poor girl.

“Take courage and have patience, dear Eudora, while I speak of our
future plans,” said Malcolm, affectionately pressing her hand.

“Ah, I will! I will be courageous and patient! I ought not to complain
of any affliction so long as Heaven has left me so true a friend!”

“Thank you, dear Eudora, for that tribute. Listen now, dearest; I will
take you to some safe and honorable retreat, and leave you there for the
present. When the first heat of the pursuit is over, when it will be
safe to do so, I will take you down to some one of the seaports, and
escape with you to America. There you will give me this dear hand in
marriage. There I will work for our mutual support until the course of
time and Providence shall have cleared you of this false and dreadful
charge, and paved the way for our happy return! This is my plan, Eudora!
How do you like it?”

“Oh, Heaven bless and reward you, Malcolm, who sacrifice yourself to
save the poor lost girl, whom there is none either to pity or to
succor!” exclaimed Eudora, fervently.

They had now turned into St. Paul’s churchyard, which was all alive with
the commencement of the business of the day. Malcolm kept his gaze out
of the window, as if in search of some particular place. At length, when
they had got just opposite to a ladies’ out-fitting establishment, he
stopped the cab, paid and dismissed it, and led Eudora towards the shop.

“I deem it safest, dearest, to change at every place we stop. Go in
there now, and purchase things as you may require, and have them packed
in a box, with your name, ‘Miss Milnes,’ written upon it. I will remain
outside until you have completed your business.”

Eudora entered the shop, and was promptly served with everything that
she needed.

When she appeared at the door, with a shop-girl bearing the box behind
her, Malcolm hailed an empty cab that was passing by, entered it with
Eudora and her purchases, and gave the brief order:

“To the White Swan Hotel, Borough.”

A rapid drive of twenty minutes brought them to the house.

Here Malcolm discharged the cab and entered the hotel, leading Eudora,
and followed by a porter carrying her box.

He asked to be shown into a private sitting-room, and ordered breakfast
immediately for two.

The waiter hastened to obey; and while breakfast was being prepared,
Malcolm persuaded Eudora to lay off her bonnet and shawl, and repose in
an easy-chair.

A comfortable meal of coffee, muffins, fresh eggs and ham was soon
spread, and Malcolm led his companion to the table, saying:

“Come, eat, dear Eudora; nature must be sustained, even through the
direst afflictions.”

She drank a cup of coffee, and ate an egg and a small piece of bread.
When breakfast was over, Malcolm said:

“You will stop and rest here for an hour, dearest, while I take a walk
in search of suitable lodgings for you. You will not be anxious or
frightened to be left alone?”

“I will try not to be so,” she answered.

He pressed her hand and left the parlor.

As he passed through the coffee-room on his way out, he heard the
visitors and loungers discussing the news in that morning’s _Times_.
Some topic of unusual interest seemed to occupy them. Malcolm’s heart
stood still as he caught some detached portions of their conversation.

“I recollect perfectly well when the baron died a few months ago. There
was a suspicion of his having been poisoned; and now to think of the
whole family being destroyed in that way!—and by one young girl to whom
they had been so very kind, too! What a young devil she must be!” said

“Oh, she comes from India, it appears. And India is the native land of
devils, as we have good reason to know since the revolt of the Sepoys,”
said another.

“Well, it is a good thing that the unnatural young monster is in
custody. If she isn’t hung the gallows might as well be put down
altogether; but she is safe to be, for this beats Palmer all hollow.”

Malcolm heard no more. With a sinking heart he hurried out into the air,
and took his way down the street, and began to tread the narrow lanes
and alleys of the neighborhood in search of such lodgings as he desired
for Eudora. At length, about half way down, between the two crossings of
a narrow street, he paused before a small green-grocer’s shop bearing
the name of Mrs. Corder, over which a bill in an upper window announced
“Apartments.” He entered the shop, and behind the counter found the
proprietress, a fat, middle-aged, motherly-looking widow, with a large
number of children, who were continually toddling in and out between the
little dark back parlor and the front shop.

Stepping up to the counter, he asked the woman to show him the
apartments she had to let.

“Here, Charley,” said Mrs. Corder, calling her eldest hope, a red-haired
lad of about ten years old, “to take her place while she showed the
gentleman the rooms above.”

“The lodgers have a private entrance, sir,” she said, leading the way
out of the shop to a street door on its right hand, which admitted them
into a narrow passage, from which an equally narrow staircase led to the
second floor.

Mr. Montrose followed the landlady up-stairs to a pair of small, plainly
furnished, but clean rooms, connected by folding doors. The front one
was a parlor, the back one a chamber.

“What are your terms?” inquired Mr. Montrose, when he had glanced
approvingly around these rooms.

“Twenty-five shillings a week, sir, with attendance,” replied Mrs.

“Have you other lodgers?”

“No others, sir, except a poor gentleman and his daughter as have the
rooms over these, and has never paid me a penny for ’em,” added the
woman, in a low tone, but loud enough to be heard.

“I will engage these rooms, for a lady, who will take possession
immediately; and here is four weeks’ payment in advance.”

Mrs. Corder curtsied lowly in acknowledgment of this liberality, and
promised to have fires lighted immediately to air the apartments.

And Mr. Montrose hurried back to the White Swan, where he found Eudora
still resting in the easy-chair, and awaiting him.

“I have found you lodgings, dearest, where I hope and believe you will
be both comfortable and safe. They are over a small green-grocer’s shop
kept by a stout, rosy good-humored-looking widow, with a large family of
young children. And with her shop, her children, and her lodgers to
attend to, she is much too busy to pry into other peoples’ private
affairs. You may get ready now while I call a carriage,” said Malcolm,
and without waiting to hear her warm thanks, he passed out.

In two minutes he returned, and led his companion, who was quite ready,
to the carriage. Her box was put in, and the directions given to the
coachman, who drove on.

A quarter of an hour’s drive brought them to the private entrance of
Mrs. Corder’s house. The good-humored landlady stood at the door to
receive her new lodger.

Mr. Montrose alighted, handed Eudora out, and led her into the house,
followed by the coachman carrying the box, which he sat down in the

“Poor girl,” murmured the landlady to herself, as she noticed the deep
mourning and pale face of her guest. “Poor girl! an orphan, I dare
say—some clergyman’s daughter come up to London to get her living as a
daily governess or something. She do look like that. But lawk, she’ll
never be able to pay twenty-five shillings a week for her lodgings, and
that she’ll soon find out. Hows’ever, the gentleman has paid the first
month in advance, and maybe he may——. Lawk, I wonder whatever he is to

“This is my cousin, Miss Milnes, who is to be your new lodger, Mrs.
Corder. Will you please to show her at once to her rooms?” said Mr.
Montrose, who, having settled with the man, now turned and presented his
companion to her landlady.

“Yes, certainly, sir; the rooms are quite ready. I’m proud to see you,
Miss Miller—that’s a real governessing name, is Miller,” added the
landlady, _sotto voce_, as she led the way up-stairs, and threw open the
door of the front parlor.

Malcolm and Eudora entered the room, and the landlady lingered to
receive orders.

“You may have the box sent up, if you please, Mrs. Corder,” said Mr.
Montrose, to get rid of the good woman, who dropped a curtsey and

“Now, dearest Eudora,” said the young man, “for your own sake I must
hasten to leave you. I must hurry back to Allworth Abbey, that no one
may suspect that I have been so far absent from the neighborhood, or
connect my absence with your disappearance. My presence is also
necessary to assist at the funeral obsequies at Allworth. So you
perceive, dearest, that I must immediately depart.”

“Oh, yes, I know that for every good reason you must go,” said Eudora.

“And this advice I must give in leaving you—keep yourself closely within
doors! send the landlady or her son out for whatever you may require—but
go not forth yourself. If time hangs heavily on your hands, send for
books from Mudie’s Circulating Library, a branch of which stands near
this. Do not risk writing to any one, not even to me, unless it should
be positively necessary; and, if you do write, be careful neither to put
address nor date at the top of your letter, nor name of any sort at the
bottom; and direct your letter to Howth, a post town about twenty miles
from Allworth. Do you mark me, dear Eudora?”

“Oh, yes, I mark, and I will remember and follow your directions.”

“I will write to you under your middle name of Milnes, and post my
letters at Howth. Now, dearest, trust in God—trust also in me; keep up
your spirits, and hope for the best. You will be quite safe here, as you
know the hunt for you will be led off in an opposite direction. Your
landlady is evidently a good-humored, obliging, unsuspicious creature,
who will endeavor to make you comfortable. If she should betray any
curiosity upon the subject of my interest in you, tell her so much of
the truth as that we are betrothed, but avoid telling her my name; she
will probably believe it to be the same as your own. Will you remember
all these things?”

“Oh, yes, yes, dearest Malcolm!” said Eudora, endeavoring to control her

“And now, my beloved, I have not a moment more to stay, for I must catch
the train. Good-bye! good-bye! I leave you in the keeping of Him who
ever watches over the innocent,” said Malcolm, pressing her to his bosom
in a parting embrace. Then he put her gently back into her chair, and
hurried from the room.

On the stairs he met the boy bringing up the box, and in the passage
below he saw the landlady.

“I have taken leave of my cousin, Mrs. Corder; but I must commit her to
your best care. She has lost both her parents, and is in deep sorrow, as
well as in reduced circumstances; she never lived in lodgings before,
and is very inexperienced. Therefore, I must beg that you will be a kind
of mother to her,” said Mr. Montrose, slipping another five-pound note
into the hand of the woman as he took leave of her.

“Thank’ee, sir; lawks, sir, I’m a poor widder, with a large family, but
I don’t require no bribery to do my duty by my lodgers, nor likewise to
be good to a poor, dear, fatherless, motherless young creature like
her,” said the landlady, pocketing the money.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                    “She is our perplexity,
                      A creature light and wild;
                    Though on the verge of beggary,
                      As careless as a child.”

When the door had closed behind Malcolm Montrose, and Eudora was left
alone in her strange lodgings for the first time in her life, then all
the extreme miseries of her position rushed back upon her memory, and
despair overwhelmed her soul.

To be charged with an unnatural and monstrous crime, at the very name of
which her pure heart shuddered;—to be hunted like a wild beast;—to be
hiding like a burrowing fox;—the situation was terrible in its danger;
but oh, how much more terrible in its degradation! And through all her
own personal consciousness of wrong, shame, sorrow, and peril, two
questions continually forced themselves upon her attention:

WHO was the poisoner of her uncle’s family?

WHAT was the motive for the fell deed?

Although the last two days had been a season of unexampled distress,
excitement, and fatigue—and although for the last three nights she had
not once closed her eyes in slumber—yet she could not now rest for one
moment in her chair.

She started up with her hands pressed to her throbbing and burning
temples, and with a distracted manner and irregular steps paced the

One of the most perplexing elements in her misery was that she could not
adequately comprehend her own situation. She understood “a horror” in
her state, but not her state. Knowing her own innocence, it seemed to
her absolutely incredible that every one else should not know it also,
and monstrous that any one should suspect her of crime, and especially
of such an atrocious crime. She could not fully credit the fidelity of
her own memory, the evidence of her own experience, or the testimony of
her own senses. She was haunted with a vague suspicion that this was all
a frightful dream, from which she should presently awake in surprise and

This distrust of the actual is a dangerous state of mind, being the
intermediate stage between the last extremity of mental suffering and
the insanity to which it tends. Just as the wretched girl was beginning
to lose herself in these metaphysical miseries the real world broke in
upon her with the voice of her landlady, who was heard outside the door,

“Here, Charley, set down the box; I’ll take it in myself; and now you
go, like a clever boy, and mind the shop till I come.”

There was a sound of the box set down upon the floor and of the retreat
of Charley down the stairs, and then a rap at the door.

“Come in,” said Eudora, pausing in her walk.

The landlady entered, and inquired:

“Where will you have this set, Miss Miller?”

“In my chamber,” replied Eudora, in a startled voice, like one suddenly
roused from a dream.

Our landlady looked wistfully at her, and after depositing the box in a
corner of the bed-room, she came back, and in a motherly manner took
Eudora by the hand, and made her sit down again in the arm-chair, while
she stood by her and said:

“Now, don’t ye take on so, that’s a darling! Sure we’ve all got to lose
our parents, unless we ourselves die afore our time. I’ve lost my mother
and father; yes, and the father of my thirteen children, too! And _I_
don’t take on about it! Sure if I did the house would go to ruin and the
children to the union! And then there’s that poor child up-stairs, with
a father as is worse nor dead, coming home every night drunk, and
beating and starving her nearly to death! Why, _she_ don’t take on, but
is as merry as a monkey, with her lantern jaws and large eyes. And more
be token, if it wasn’t for the child, I’d ha’ sent the father packing
long ago, which he has never paid me the first penny of rent for his
rooms the six weeks he has been here, and swears at me when I ask him
for it! So you see, dear, everybody has their own troubles in this
world, but for all that we musn’t take on about it, but must do the best
we can for ourselves and each other too. Now I make no doubt you would
be the greatest of blessings to that young girl up-stairs, and she’d be
the best of amusement to you! _She’d_ take you off your sorrows; she’s
the liveliest, queerest, funniest—There, _that’s_ her now! Listen!”

At this moment a bounding step was heard upon the stairs, and a
carolling voice broke forth in song:

                     “I care for nobody—no, not I!
                     And nobody cares for me!”

as the singing-girl vanished up into the upper stories of the house.

“There! that’s her! she’s always just like that! Now it’s ten to one as
that child will have any dinner this day, yet listen how she sings like
a lark! Shall I go and fetch her down to you? She’d be a world of
entertainment to you!”

“Oh, no, no, not for the world. I am not fit for any company, least of
all for that of a light-hearted girl. Yet I thank you for the kind
thought,” replied Eudora.

“Well, then, dear, since you are too heavy-hearted to be soothed by
anything lively, you must try to interest yourself in something
serious—anything to take your mind off from brooding over your own
troubles,” said the landlady, and taking a folded newspaper from her
pocket, she added:

“Now here, here’s this morning’s _Times_ as I’ve been and borrowed from
the library at the corner, o’ purpose to read the true account of this
horrible poisoning case up in the North! Lawk! only to think of it, my
dear—a whole family p’isoned by one young girl, and she their own orphan
niece as they fotched over from Indy, and did so much for! But they’ve
_got_ her, that’s a comfort! they’ve _got_ her safe enough! She’ll never
get off! To think of any young girl being of such a born devil and
coming for to be hung at last. Lawk! it do make my blood run cold.”

“But how do you know that she poisoned the family?” asked Eudora, in a
faltering voice, and with a shudder that she could not control.

“Lawk! dear, it’s all as clear as a sunshiny noonday. Here, read it for
yourself. I see my landlord coming across the street towards the house,
and he’s a-coming after his money, which, thanks to Mr. Miller’s
liberality, I have got all ready for him.” And so saying, the landlady
put the _Times_ into the hands of her panic-stricken lodger and went
away down-stairs and into her shop, where she found her surly landlord

“Well, mum,” began the latter, turning a contemptuous glance around the
little shop, “I have come to tell you that I will not wait another day!
There are now two quarters’ rent due, and if the money is not
forthcoming I intend to sell you out. You needn’t tell me any more about
lodgers that can’t pay; if you _will_ keep paupers in the house you must
take the consequence.”

“Mr. Grubbins,” said the landlady, going behind her counter with a
bustling air of self-confidence, “luck is like a pendulum as sways first
to the right and then to the left, and so on backwards and forwards. And
if I have one lodger as can’t pay all at once, poor gentleman, I have
another as pays like a princess! You see the Lord hasn’t forgot me and
my thirteen orphans. So, if you please, Mr. Grubbins, write me a receipt
for a half year’s rent; for I mean to pay you all, and get out of _your_
debt, though I mayn’t have five shillings left.”

Mr. Grubbins stared in astonishment, and then, with but little abatement
of his severity, wrote out the receipt, while Mrs. Corder laid two
five-pound notes and five sovereigns in gold down upon the counter.

“Be more punctual for the future, and don’t let one quarter run into
another, and then, maybe, you’ll keep out of trouble,” said Mr.
Grubbins, for he did not believe in the continuous prosperity of a poor
widow with thirteen children, even with Providence to remember her and

And so Mr. Grubbins relieved the little shop of his oppressive presence.

Meantime, up-stairs, Eudora, under the spell of a strange fascination,
pored over the _Times’_ account of the tragedy at Allworth Abbey. There
she saw her own blameless name held up to public scorn and execration.

When she had finished reading, she let the paper drop listlessly from
her hands, while she herself fell again into that stupor of despair
which threatened to undermine her reason.

In this miserable torpor she sat motionless, until the entrance of the
landlady to lay the cloth for her solitary dinner.

The good woman was, as usual, full of kindness, solicitude, and gossip,
but all this availed nothing in arousing the wretched girl from her
apathy. Even the dinner, when prepared, remained untasted, nor could the
landlady prevail upon her stricken lodger to approach the table.

“Oh, this will never do in the world! The girl will kill herself,”
thought good Mrs. Corder, as at length she carried away the untouched
spring chicken and green peas. “I’ll just wait till tea-time, and then
if a cup of good strong green tea don’t rouse her out of this, I know
what I’ll do. I’ll just make free to call in the medical man from over
the way to look at her. I’m not a-going to let such a profitable lodger
as _she_ is die for want of seeing after, _I_ know.”

And accordingly, an hour after the failure of the dinner, Mrs. Corder
brought up Eudora’s tea, with some delicate cream toast and delicious
guava jelly, all of which she arranged in the most tempting manner upon
the table. She then besought her young lodger to partake of it, hinting
at the same time that unless the latter would listen to reason in a
matter in which her own health was concerned, it would really be
necessary to call in the medical man over the way to see her.

The threat of a visit from the doctor had more effect than all the other
arguments by Mrs. Corder. Eudora suffered herself to be seated at the
table, and drank off the cup of tea that the careful hostess put into
her hand.

And such was the beneficial effect of that blessed gift to woman, “the
cup that cheers, and not inebriates,” that Eudora, notwithstanding all
her wrongs, griefs and terrors, felt her vital spirits returning, and
with them her natural relish for food. And to Mrs. Corder’s great joy
she ate a round of toast and a spoonful of jelly.

“Now, there’s for you! now then you’ll do. See what it is to take
advice. If you had had your own way, you’d a’starved yourself nearly to
death, and been ill. And now, if you’ll take more advice, you’ll go
right to bed and to sleep,” said the delighted woman as she cleared away
the table.

Eudora followed her counsel, and retired almost immediately to bed,
where as soon as her light was put out, and her head was dropped upon
her pillow, a feeling of drowsiness stole over her brain, and she slept
and forgot her sorrows.

Late that evening—after Mrs. Corder had given her children their supper,
and sent them to their beds up in the attic, and had closed up her shop
for the night—she came up-stairs and paused for a moment on the first
landing to listen at Eudora’s chamber door. Hearing her breathe deeply,
like one soundly sleeping, the landlady nodded and smiled confidentially
to herself, murmuring:

“Ah, ha! she is sleeping like a baby, the poor, dear, motherless
child!—sleeping like an innocent infant baby without a trouble in the
world, thanks be to the laudamy drops as I put into her tea-cup, and to
Him as made the poppy grow for the sake of sorrowful mortals; for if it
hadn’t a’ been for that, sure she’d a’ gone mad to-night instead o’
going peaceably to sleep. Well, laudamy is a blessing for which we
should be thankful, as well I know as I would a’ gone crazy the night
Corder died if so be the medical man hadn’t a given me laudamy drops!”

So saying, and being perfectly satisfied with the result of her own
medical experience, good Mrs. Corder glided noiselessly up the second
pair of stairs, and paused again upon the second landing.

Seeing a light shine through a half-open door, she, without the ceremony
of knocking, entered a fireless and cheerless bed-chamber, where a young
girl of about fifteen years of age sat reading by the light of a
farthing candle.

Mrs. Corder sat her own candle down upon the chest of drawers, and
dropped into a chair to recover her breath, while she gazed with
interest and curiosity upon the young girl who was so absorbed in the
perusal of her book as not to notice the entrance of the landlady.

No one—not even the most careless observer—could have looked upon that
girl with indifference. Her form was slight and fragile, and her face
pale and thin from that unmistakable emaciation which attends a slow
starvation—a slow starvation that saps life as surely as a slow poison.
Yet, withal, the character of her face was full of spirit, courage, and
even mischief. Her bright brown hair rippled back from a full round,
white forehead, and flowed down her shoulders in wavelets that were
golden in the light and bronze in the shade. Her eyebrows, of a darker
hue, were depressed towards the root of her nose, and elevated towards
the temples, giving a peculiarly arch expression to her large, clear,
gray eyes, that, fringed with their long, thick lashes, might otherwise
have seemed too thoughtful and melancholy for one so young. Her slightly
turned-up nose, and short upper lip and rounded chin, were also full of
that expression of archness which seemed the natural characteristic of
her face. For the rest, she wore a faded light gray dress, without any
addition except a white linen collar.

When Mrs. Corder had watched her for about a minute, she called her
attention by saying:

“Miss Annella!”

The young girl started, and looked up, and with a laugh exclaimed,

“Oh, Mrs. Corder, is that you? How you startled me! bringing me so
suddenly down from dream-land to sober earth. I feel as if I had fallen
from a balloon, and struck the ground in a very damp, cold marsh.”

“Miss Annella, dear, I just dropped in to say if so be you are awaiting
up for the captain, you may as well go to bed, because, if he comes home
to-night—which is very uncertain, you know—I can just let him in

“Thank you, dear, kind Mrs. Corder; you are really too good for this
wicked world! But you are tired with this day’s work, and you need your
full night’s rest to prepare you for to-morrow’s; therefore, you see you
must go to bed and go to sleep. As for me, I have got an interesting
book here, and I could not leave it until I get to the end of it if it
were to save my life! So sitting up will be no act of self-denial on my

“La, now! what sort of a book is it as can keep a young gal out of her
bed at this time o’night?” inquired the landlady, with interest.

“It is the history of a brave boy, that took his father’s crime upon his
own childish shoulders, and ran away to draw off the chase from his
father’s house, and threw himself upon the world to seek his fortune!
Yes, and he will find it too; or, at least, I shall not lay the book
down until he does.”

“Lawk! I wonder if it is true?”

“To be sure it is true; every word of it is true. It is too good not to
be true!” replied the girl, enthusiastically.

“Well, I declare!”

“Oh, how I wish I was a boy!”

“Lawk, Miss Annella?”

“Yes, I do! Oh, don’t I wish I was a boy! If I were, oh, wouldn’t I go
and seek my fortune, too!”

“Lawk-a-daisy me, Miss Annella, whatever do you mean?” inquired the
astounded landlady.

“I mean just what I say!” exclaimed the girl, throwing down her book,
and laughing gaily. “I mean that I would like to be as free as I should
be if I were a boy, or rather if I were a man. I would like to go where
I please, to do as I wish; to struggle with the goddess Fortune until I
had made the capricious vixen my slave!” concluded the girl; and it was
strange to see the fire that gleamed from her dark-gray eyes, and glowed
upon her wan cheeks, as she spoke.

“La, bless my soul,” thought the terrified landlady, “what a misfortin
it is for young creatures to lose their mothers, for sure, never was a
woman so beset with two such luny gals as I am by these two motherless
young things. The one down-stairs is a-going melancholy mad, and the one
up here is gone merry mad.” Then aloud she asked:

“Miss Annella, do you remember your mother?”

“My poor, dear mother!” said the girl, in a tone of deep pathos, and
with a total change of expression and manner. “No, I am very sorry that
I cannot remember her. How should I, when she died while I was yet in
the cradle—died broken-hearted, it is said, because my grandfather would
never forgive her for having married my father.”

“Well, that was hard, too; for though it’s undutiful for a child to
marry against the wishes of her parents, and never turns out to no
good—as you may see yourself—still it is unnatural for a parent to hold
out forever agin a child. So she died, poor woman, while you were a

“She died in the second year of her marriage, when I was but a few
months old.”

“Ah, then, that accounts for all your oddities, poor child. I daresay,
now, you never even had a female aunt to look after you?”

“Not since I can recollect. I never had one but my father. We used to
live about in barracks, wherever his regiment might be quartered for the
time, until the evil days came, and poor father was cashiered—”

“Umph, ah! for drink, I suppose,” thought the landlady; but she said
nothing, and Annella continued:

“Since that time we have lived about in London lodgings, but never in
any lodgings, Mrs. Corder, where I have been so happy as I have been
here with you,” said the poor girl, with grateful tears swimming in her

“Hum! I can easily comprehend _that_; I’ve never pressed the captain for
his rent, which I don’t suppose his other landladies has been so
forbearing,” thought the good woman; but instead of expressing such a
thought, she said, kindly:

“Well, child, having so many fatherless children of my own, it came
natural to me to try to make a motherless girl comfortable; for, as I
often says to myself, suppose my children had been motherless, for
though it is bad enough to be fatherless, it is ten thousand times worse
to be motherless, as every orphan child knows. So now, my dear, I think,
as you are determined to finish your book before you go to bed, the
sooner I go and leave you to do it the better. And so good-night, my

“Good-night, dear, good Mrs. Corder,” replied the young girl, warmly
pressing the kind hand that was extended to her.

And the worthy landlady took up her candle and went up a third flight of
stairs to the attic, where she slept with her numerous progeny in
quarters nearly as close as those of the fabulous “old woman that lived
in a shoe, and had so many children she didn’t know what to do.”

                              CHAPTER IX.
                         THE CHAMBER OF DEATH.

                            “Whence is that knocking?
            How is’t with me since every noise appalls me?”

The sleep of Eudora was deep, long and refreshing. It was late in the
morning when she was awakened by the sound of an unusual commotion in
the house.

She started up in affright and listened, for in her present distressing
position every new event seemed charged with deadly danger to herself.

As, with breathless lungs and beating heart she listened, she heard the
sound of several heavy footsteps coming slowly up the stairs, and
frequently pausing, as if to rest a burden. She heard them stop on the
first landing outside her door, and then proceed heavily up the second
flight of stairs. Then she heard them enter the room over her head, and
deposit their burden so heavily that its slow fall shook the ceiling.
This was followed by the shriek of a girl, that rang piercing through
the house, and then dead silence.

Unable longer to endure the agony of suspense, Eudora rang her bell

The summons was immediately answered by the landlady, who hastily
entered the room.

Finding Eudora pale, faint and trembling, in a state of deadly terror,
she came to her side instantly, saying:

“There, I knew they would frighten you in your nervous state, though I
cautioned them to be quiet, too.”

“What is it?” gasped Eudora.

“La, dear, the men a-bringing home the captain in a dead stupor from the
public, where he has been a-drinkin’ all night.”

“The captain?” echoed Eudora, still in a state of bewilderment.

“Yes, dear, Captain Wilder, as I told you about him and daughter last
night. They’ve just brought him home stupid with drink, and the poor
girl thought he was dead, and screamed out, that was all; but I told her
as he’d come to after a bit, and made ’em lay him on the bed, so don’t
you alarm yourself about it, my dear.”

Eudora sank back upon her pillow, half ashamed of the relief she felt in
knowing that the present shock of sorrow had come to another instead of
to herself.

Mrs. Corder brought her hot water, and then Eudora arose and dressed,
and passed into her sitting-room, where a comfortable breakfast was soon

Eudora was not so completely absorbed in her own great sorrow as not to
feel some sympathy with the poor girl up-stairs. And she requested Mrs.
Corder to supply Miss Wilder with anything that might be necessary, and
charge it to herself, Eudora.

As the landlady had said, the captain came out of his stupor, but it was
only to fall into frightful convulsions of _mania-á-potu_.

Many times during the day the kind-hearted landlady was obliged to run
up-stairs to render assistance to his unfortunate daughter, whose youth,
sex, and inexperience alike rendered her unfit and incompetent to manage
a man in the frenzy of that terrible malady.

All the afternoon and evening, Eudora was appalled by the dreadful
groans, shrieks, and struggles of the demoniac, as he might truly be
called, who was possessed by the demon of intoxication.

Late at night those violent demonstrations of frenzy ceased. And Eudora
hoped, for the sake of his hapless daughter, that his madness was over
for the present.

_It was over for ever._

Eudora was just preparing to go to rest, when her door was abruptly
thrown open, and the landlady, in great excitement, entered the room,

“Oh, Miss Miller, my dear, for the love of Heaven, go up-stairs and stay
with that poor girl, while I run for the doctor. I do believe the
captain is dying!”

Eudora, deeply shocked at what she heard, and sensible withal that she
could do but little good in such a case, could not, however, disregard
such an appeal. She arose at once to comply.

“It is the back room up-stairs, immediately over your own, my dear;
you’ll be sure to find it,” said Mrs. Corder, hurrying away.

Eudora immediately went up-stairs and rapped at the door of the
apartment to which she had been directed. But receiving no answer, she
gently pushed the door open and entered the room.

It was a poorly-furnished chamber, lighted by a single tallow candle,
that stood upon a stand on the left side of an uncurtained bedstead, and
cast its sickly beams upon the haggard face of the dying man, whose form
lay extended upon the mattress, and covered with a white counterpane.

On the right side of the bed knelt his daughter, with her hands clasping
his hands, and her eyes gazing fondly and anxiously into the face of her
father. So completely absorbed was she in her attention to him, that the
entrance of the visitor remained unnoticed.

“Father,” she said, continuing to gaze imploringly into his insensible
countenance, “father, don’t you know me—won’t you speak to me? Father,
it is your own Nella!”

She waited, without removing her eyes from those of the dying man, but
receiving no answering word nor even a conscious look in reply to her
impassioned appeal, she dropped her face upon the counterpane, and
sobbed aloud.

At this moment Eudora glided to her side, laid her hand softly upon her
shoulder, and spoke gently to her, saying:

“Do not weep so bitterly, Miss Wilder. There may be hope yet.”

The child sprang lightly to her feet, threw back the golden brown
tresses that half veiled her face, and fixed her long-lashed, soft-gray
eyes upon the beautiful vision that had entered the room, like an angel,
to breathe of hope.

“I am your fellow-lodger, Miss Wilder, and having some experience in
illness, I have come to render you what assistance I may,” pursued

“Oh, thank you! thank you a thousand times for coming! But do you think
you can do anything for him! Oh, see! he takes no notice even of a
stranger coming into the room! he does not even know _me_!” exclaimed
Annella, taking her visitor by the hand, and drawing her closely to the
bedside, while she pointed to the suffering man, over whose face the
gray shadows of death were already creeping.

Eudora saw that this case was not only beyond her skill, but beyond that
of the most skilful physician. Yet she could not find it in her heart to
communicate this grievous truth to the child whose soft, dark eyes were
fixed so beseechingly upon her face.

“Have you any stimulant in the house—any hartshorn, or even

It was almost mockery to ask for any article of comfort in a place where
the common necessaries of life seemed wanting. And so Eudora felt it to
be when poor Annella shook her head, and then burst into tears.

“Do not weep, dear; the doctor will be here in a moment, and he will
send the proper remedies immediately,” said Eudora, who had taken up and
was briskly rubbing the icy hand of the sufferer.

Annella followed her example with the other hand, which she chafed with
the hot tears that fell fast from her eyes.

The moment after footsteps were heard upon the stairs, and the landlady
and the doctor entered.

The latter immediately stepped to the side of the bed, from which Eudora
and Annella retired to give him place.

The doctor took up the hand that Eudora had relinquished, and held it
for about a minute with his finger on the pulse. Then he softly laid it
down again, and stood with his eyes fixed in grave contemplation upon
the stiffening face before him. The landlady drew near in awe.

“Remove his unhappy daughter from the room. The man has ceased to
suffer,” said the doctor, in a low tone, yet not so low but that its
import struck the heart of Annella, who rushed to the bedside, gazed
wildly upon the fixed features of her father, and then seizing the
doctor’s hand, exclaimed:

“Dead? Do you mean dead? Oh, no, sir! no, sir! say he is not dead.”

“Poor child! my saying that will not bring him to life. He has ceased to
suffer! and we must all bow to the will of Heaven!”

With a low, inarticulate, sobbing moan, like the last utterance of a
breaking heart, the poor girl sank upon the bed beside her father’s
body, and buried her face on his cold bosom.

There was no violent demonstration of sorrow. After that first
broken-hearted sob and moan she lay as patient, as silent, and as
motionless as the dead beside her.

They let her remain for a little time, during which they stood in
reverent silence around the bed of death; and then the doctor said:

“She must be removed. She will make no resistance; she is too much
prostrated to do so.”

And Mrs. Corder went and tenderly raised the light form in her own
strong, motherly arms, murmuring:

“La! she has no more solidness in her nor a poor little starved sparrow
in the hard frost.”

“Bring her into my room, and lay her upon my bed, dear Mrs. Corder, and
then, while you attend to the dead, I will do all I can for the living,”
said Eudora, gravely leading the way from the chamber of death.

Mrs. Corder followed with her light burden, carrying it, as she had been
desired, to Eudora’s room, deposited it carefully upon her bed, and then
withdrew to render the necessary services elsewhere.

Eudora, drawn completely out of herself, forgot for the moment her own
sorrows in ministering to those of the poor, bereaved destitute Annella.
Much acquaintance with grief had taught Eudora the rarest of all
arts—that of wisely comforting the afflicted. She knew that sorrow is
less hurtful when it is permitted to express itself in complaints. She
tempted Annella to complain, and the child said:

“Oh, Miss Miller, it is so—_so_ hard! I hadn’t a friend in the world but
him—and he hadn’t one on earth but me! We were all in all to each other!
and so we always have been, ever since I can remember! When the
court-martial took his commission away from him, he gathered me to his
heart, and said—‘Thank God they can never take _you_ from me, my Nella!’
And now he is taken from me!”

Here a burst of tears interrupted her speech. When it was over she
resumed her complaint:

“They speak ill of him because he drank, Miss Miller; but he could not
help it. How hard he tried to break himself of that fatal habit no one
knows so well as myself—except his Maker! but he never could! Drinking
was as much a disease with him as coughing is with the consumptive, or
shaking is with the paralytic. Oh, Miss Miller, you look so good! _you_
don’t think hard of my poor dead father do you?”

“No, dear; I have always believed inebriation—habitual inebriation—to be
a mere disease,” said Eudora, sympathetically.

“Oh, it is! it is just as much a disease as dyspepsia or consumption is!
This disease that he could not conquer—the dishonor that he felt to the
inmost core of his heart—the despair that he should ever recover all
that he had lost—these broke his heart! I know it; and I will defend his
memory if no one else does!”

Here another burst of weeping arrested her farther discourse. When this
second gust of sorrow was past, she continued her touching apology for
the dead:

“If man could see as God sees—what it was that first drove him to
drink—I mean what it was that first brought on this disease, they would
pity instead of condemning him! It was my mother’s early death! He loved
her so much, Miss Miller. Since she died he has never looked upon
another woman with affection. And he loved me so much for her sake! And
now he is gone, and I shall never see him more—never! never! never!”

Here, for the third time, a wild gush of tears and sobs choked her
voice; but as it gradually subsided to quiet weeping, she grew still,
and dropped into slumber.

She was but a child in her first sorrow, and like a child she had cried
herself to sleep.

Eudora then quietly undressed, and lay down by her side, where she soon
shared the same blessing of oblivion and repose.

The next day was one of great bustle in the house.

The parish officers, summoned by the troubled landlady, were early on
the premises to take cognizance of the deceased and his necessities.

It was to be a parish funeral; there was absolutely no help for it. Mrs.
Corder, after having paid her half year’s rent, had not five shillings
left in the world; and as for credit—who in this world would credit a
poor widow with thirteen children, even for a grave in a Christian

Eudora was equally destitute of money and credit. Mr. Montrose, in
remembering everything else, had forgotten to supply her with funds. And
thus the heiress of Allworth Abbey had not so much as a crown left in
her purse. A fugitive and a stranger, she dared not ask for credit, even
if there had been a chance of her obtaining it.

Thus it happened that the father of Annella was obliged to be buried at
the expense of the parish.

In such burials there is no reverent delay, no long lying out; no
funeral feast; no train of mourners; all is plain, cheap, and
expeditious. The coffin was sent in the same morning, and the interment
was ordered for the afternoon.

Annella heard of this arrangement with a stony resignation.

“He will not feel it,” she said; “and as for me it does not matter.”

When the hasty parish funeral was over, there was a talk among the
parish officers of sending the young girl for the present to the union,
until some other disposition could be made of her, and this was opposed
by Mrs. Corder with all her heart and soul.

“Sure, sirs,” she said, “I would no more consent to her going to the
union, nor I would one o’ my own. Sirs, I’ve thirteen a’ready, and I
don’t mind making ’em fourteen; certain, one more or less can’t make no
noticeable difference in a family like mine, unless it should be one
less instead o’ one more, which the Lord in his mercy forbid!” added the
mother, fervently.

“Thirteen children! Do you tell me to my face that you have thirteen
children, woman? What do you mean by having thirteen children in an
over-populated parish like this? I should think a visitation of the
scarlet-fever would be a godsend to you,” said one of the officers,
staring in astonishment.

“Now, may the Lord forgive you for that speech, sir! And as for the
rest, sir, if ever I bring my children on the parish, it will be time
enough for you to reproach me for first bringing ’em into the world. And
more be token, instead of wanting to put a child on the parish, I am
offering for to take one offen it,” said the widow, in honest

“And that’s true, too,” observed the other officer, “but then you have
enough to support now; you will never be able to bear the burdens of an
additional one.”

“Lord, sir, it will be but the putting of a ha’-penny more on every
measure of peas, or potatoes, and persuading the people that they are
better nor usual,” added Mrs. Corder, _sotto voce_.

“Humph, humph, well, we will leave the child with you to-night, and
think about it. Perhaps the parish may give you something for keeping
her, until she recovers herself, and is strong enough to be bound out.”

“Sirs, I thank you; but I would no more take parish help for her nor I
would for one of my own, as I told your worships before.”

“Well, well, my good woman, there will be time enough to think of that,”
said the senior officer, as himself and his companion took their leave.

This conversation had taken place in the little back parlor behind the

But there had been one unseen, silent, but attentive listener to this
discourse. And that listener was Annella, who, crouching in her grief in
a dark corner of the room, had been a witness to the whole interview.
And while Mrs. Corder was attending the parish officers to the
shop-door, Annella slipped through the side-door opening from the little
back parlor into the hall, and crept away to the privacy of her own
room, there to mature her plans for the future.

An hour afterwards Mrs. Corder carried her up a cup of tea and a round
of toast, and setting these refreshments down upon a little stand, she
dropped into the nearest chair to recover her breath, and said:

“Now, for the future, my dear, you will come down and take your meals
with me. I have adopted you, and so you are to be my daughter, unless
some of your kinsfolk should come forward and take you away from me;
which I hope they won’t, unless they can do much better for you than I

Annella spoke no word of thanks, but arose and knelt down by the side of
the good mother, and raised her fat hand to her pale lips, and kissed it

“There, child, there; do get up and drink your tea, I aint a image to be
knelt down afore, nor likewise a sovring Queen to have my hand kissed.
But if you are fond of old women, and do want to be petted, why here,
then,” said the affectionate creature, raising the girl, and drawing her
slight form to her own motherly bosom.

“There, now drink your tea while it is hot, and then go right to bed,
and get a good night’s rest. And mind to-morrow morning come down and
take your breakfast with me at eight o’clock,” said the good woman,
releasing the orphan.

And then, as Mrs. Corder was much too busy to indulge in sentiment, she
arose and bade Annella good-night, and left her to repose.

“And now I’ll just look in and see how my other girl does. I might as
well own up to having fifteen children at once, for this beautiful
creature needs a mother’s care as much as any of the others,” said Mrs.
Corder to herself, as on her way down stairs she paused before Eudora’s
door and rapped.

Being requested to enter, she put her head in at the door, saying:

“I just looked in upon you to see if you required anything, and to say
that you needn’t trouble your tender heart any longer about Miss Nella.
She’s having her tea, and is going to bed presently. She’ll do very well
for the present. I have adopted her.”

“You should really be at the head of an orphan asylum, Mrs. Corder,”
said Eudora, looking up from her book.

“I think I am at the head of an orphan asylum with fifteen orphans to
look after,” said Mrs. Corder, smiling at her own notion.

Then ascertaining that Eudora required nothing more that evening, she
wished her good-night, and withdrew into the lower regions to attend to
her own more rightful orphans.

Early the next morning the worthy landlady was stirring. She opened her
little shop betimes, placing the red-haired heir of the house of Corder
behind the counter to serve the early customers, while she busied
herself in the kitchen behind the little back parlor, preparing
breakfast for her family.

Eight o’clock arrived, and the morning meal was ready; but Annella had
not made her appearance.

“She is oversleeping herself, poor child; so much the better, it will do
her a world of good; and I can just keep some coffee and muffins for her
against she does wake; so now, children, come, get your breakfasts.”

And so saying, as in that busy household there was no time to wait, the
good woman gathered her numerous progeny around the long kitchen table.

When their healthful appetites were well satisfied, the careful mother
bustled up, and leaving her eldest daughter, Sally, a good-humored,
red-haired lass of sixteen years of age, to clear away the table, she
hurried off, up-stairs, to wait upon her lodger.

And it was while Eudora was seated before a delicate morning repast of
black tea, buttered toast, and soft-boiled fresh eggs, that the latter

“How is Annella this morning?”

“I have not seen her yet. She is oversleeping herself, poor child, after
all this fatigue and distress, and I hope she will feel the better of
it,” said the worthy woman.

“And yet it is ten o’clock. She may be ill, Mrs. Corder. And you know
there is no bell in her room.”

“That is true, Miss Miller; I will run up and see.”

And so saying, the landlady left the room and went up-stairs.

Eudora heard her footsteps overhead passing about from one room to the
other, apparently in great excitement.

Then there was silence for a little while.

And then the lady was heard rushing down the stairs.

She threw open the door of Eudora’s room and entered in a state of
extreme agitation, holding an open letter in her hand, and exclaiming:

“She is gone, Miss Miller!”

“Gone—_who_?” inquired the bewildered Eudora.

“Nella! Nella! Who else?”

“Nella! But _where_ is she gone! Sit down and take breath, Mrs. Corder.”

The landlady dropped panting into the nearest chair.

“Now, tell me quietly all about it, Mrs. Corder.”

“She’s gone! She’s off! that’s all about it.”

“‘Gone,’ ‘off,’ you said that before; but _why_ has she gone?”

“’Cause she’s crazy; ’cause she’s frightened o’ the parish officers,
blame ’em, and o’ the union, and o’ being bound out, or else o’ being a
burden to me!”

“But _where_, then, has she gone!”

“To her ruin, I’m afeard! To seek her fortin’, she says.”

“But in what direction?”

“Lord knows! _I_ don’t, if _she_ does herself. This comes all along o’
having no home and no mother, and being brought up in a barrack, with no
one but a tipsy father to look after her. Here, Miss Miller; here’s her
letter. I haven’t more than just looked over it. And to go off without
her breakfast, too, before any of us was up! But here’s her letter, Miss
Miller; it is intended for you as well as for me, for see it is
directed—‘_To my good friends_!’ Read it out loud, please, and then,
maybe, I may understand it better, for I never was a good hand at making
out writing.”

Eudora took the letter, and read:

  DEAR, KIND FRIENDS:—When these lines shall meet your eyes, the poor
  girl that you have befriended will be far away from London. But do not
  think that she is ungrateful because she is forced to leave you;
  forced to leave you for your own sakes as well as for her own. She
  cannot consent to become a pauper, to be disposed of by the parish
  officers in any manner which they may think proper. And she cannot
  remain a burthen upon good Mrs. Corder, or dear Miss Miller. She longs
  for freedom and independence, and pines for the country and the open
  air. She has not a relation in the world upon whom she has any claim.
  But that you may not be uneasy about her, know that she is gone to
  seek her fortune in the north of England. There she has a possible
  friend in the daughter of her mother’s nurse, the foster-sister of her
  mother, Tabitha Tabs, who lives as ladies’-maid at a place called
  Allworth Abbey, somewhere in the county of C——. For her mother’s sake,
  this Tabitha may help her to some good place in the country, where she
  will be willing to work very hard, so that she can only see the green
  fields, breathe the fresh air, and feel herself a free girl. And so,
  dear friends, pray feel no anxiety for her welfare. But believe, that
  He who fed the young ravens will care for her, who will always
  remember your kindness with the warmest gratitude while her name is


When Eudora, in reading this letter, met the name of Allworth Abbey, a
deadly terror came over her. She felt all the extreme danger that
threatened herself in the journey of this unsuspicious girl. She could
scarcely command herself sufficiently to read the letter to its close.
And when she had finished the perusal, the paper fluttered and dropped
from her hand, and she sank back half-fainting in her chair.

The landlady perceived her emotion, but ascribed it wholly to sympathy
with the misguided fugitive. She picked up the letter, and smoothing it
out, began to look at it again, saying:

“Did ever any human creature hear of such a mad act? For to go and leave
well-known friends to seek her fortin’ among total strangers; and
without any north star to steer by, as one may say, but a ladies’-maid
somewhere in the North of England. Stay. Where did she say the maid was
at service?”

“At a place called Allworth Abbey,” faltered Eudora, with as indifferent
an air as she could assume.

“Allworth Abbey? Allworth Abbey? Sure I have heard that name somewhere
lately, and heard no good of it neither,” said the landlady

Then with a sudden flash of memory lighting up her face, she exclaimed:

“Why, it’s the very place where that wicked young girl poisoned all her
relations! Lawk! to think that she should be going there! But she
couldn’t ha’ read the _Times_, or heard o’ what’s happened in that
family, or she never would be going there.”

“There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow and a
fore-ordained fate in the journey of a wild girl to Allworth Abbey,”
sighed Eudora.

                               CHAPTER X.
                         THE STUBBORN WITNESS.

         “If a woman will, she will, you may depend on’t:
         And if she won’t, she won’t, and there’s an end on’t.”

We must return to the scene of the tragedy, and relate what took place
at Allworth Abbey immediately after the escape of Eudora.

In the first place, as soon as Eudora had taken leave, and before she
had passed through the secret egress, Tabitha shut her eyes, and turned
her back so that she might not actually _see_ by what means, or in whose
company her mistress quitted the chamber.

But as soon as she heard the panel slipped into its place, and the bolt
on the other side shot across it, she turned, and with a smile of
triumph, sank into the easy-chair, saying:

“Now they may cross-examine me until all is blue, if they like, and I
can swear a hole through an iron pot that I never saw how she left the

And so saying, Miss Tabs yielded herself up to the repose of which she
stood so much in need.

It was late in the morning when she was awakened by a loud knocking at
the door.

She started up, recollected in an instant where she was, who rapped, and
what was required.

She jumped up, rubbed her eyes, shook herself, and went to the door.

“Well, what do you want?” she inquired, as she opened it a little way.

“We want the prisoner. Here’s some breakfast for her. Let her eat it
quickly, for the chaise is at the door to convey her to the county
gaol,” said the policeman on duty, handing in a waiter of coffee and

“The prisoner? What prisoner are you talking about? There is no prisoner
here!” said Tabitha, disdainfully, as she received the waiter, and set
it upon the side-table.

“Miss Eudora Leaton, your missus, our prisoner. Tell her to get herself
ready quickly, as we must take her off towards the prison directly,”
said the policeman.

“My missus! Why, haven’t you taken her off already?” exclaimed Tabitha,
in well-assumed surprise.

“Taken her off already? No! What do you mean?” inquired the policeman,
in astonishment.

“I mean as how she isn’t here! as you know very well she isn’t, ’cause
you’ve taken her away! What have you done with her—eh?” cried Tabitha.

“Come, woman, none of your nonsense; it won’t do with us, I can tell
you; so just get your missus ready to go with us.”

“And I tell you she ain’t _here_! and you know it a great deal better
than I do! ’cause you _must_ have taken her away! You kept the door!”

“Not here!” exclaimed the policeman, passing without ceremony into the
room, and proceeding to search it.

“Now it is of no use to try to gammon people in this way, by pretending
to search the room where you know very well that she cannot be found,”
said Tabitha, scornfully.

“Where is she?” thundered the policeman.

“That’s what _you’ll_ have to tell! _You_ kept the door! I suppose you
came in while I was asleep and stole her away! Mayhap you’ve murdered
her and thrown her into the lake for aught that I know! Oh! you shall
pay for it!” cried Tabitha, working herself up into a well-acted

The policeman, without paying further heed to her words, immediately
gave the alarm; and the chamber was soon filled with an eager and
curious crowd.

“Now, then! what is all this about?” inquired the doctor, who was

“Why, sir, this girl declares that the prisoner has escaped!” said the

“I don’t declare no such thing! I declares that when I woke up this
morning she was gone; and it stands to reason, as that perlice guarded
the door, he must have stolen her away while I was asleep,” cried
Tabitha, in an angry voice.

“Escaped? how? when? where? Look to all the outer doors and windows.
Search the house! Search the grounds! Give the alarm in the
neighborhood! Fifty pounds to any of you who will bring her back!
Disperse! quick! she destroyed all your master’s family!” exclaimed the
doctor, vehemently, addressing the assembled servants, who hurried away
to obey him.

“How came you to be so, so negligent, officer, as to let your prisoner
pass you?” inquired Squire Humphreys, one of the magistrates, who had
remained in the house all night, because he was a friend and neighbor of
the late Lord Leaton.

“As Heaven hears me, your worship, she never got out through this door!
I never left my post for a single minute during the night, but stood
leaning up against the door itself; so that even if I had dropped
asleep, and the door could have been opened, I should have fallen down
and been roused by the fall. But I never closed my eyes during the whole
night, your worship,” said the policeman.

“This is most wonderful,” continued the magistrate, who, with the
doctor, made a careful examination of the room, including the fastenings
of the window-shutters, which were all found secure.

“Has any one questioned my comrade, your worship?” inquired the
policeman, respectfully.

“Sure enough no one has done so,” said the doctor, going and knocking at
the door of the little dressing-room.

The officer on guard there unlocked the door, and stood face to face
with the doctor.

“Your prisoner has escaped! How came you to be so careless as to let her
pass?” demanded the doctor.

“Pass! On my honor, sir, no one has passed me the whole night. I have
stood with my back leaning against the door and the key in my pocket all
the time,” said the officer, in astonishment.

“This is most inexplicable! Did neither of you hear any noise in the
night?” inquired the magistrate.

“None whatever, your worship,” said the first officer.

“Everything was as silent as death, sir,” added the second.

“This is most incredible! The girl seems to have been a sorceress as
well as a poisoner, and to have vanished up the chimney in a flame of
fire!” exclaimed the doctor, in an angry dismay.

“I beg your worship’s pardon,” said the principal policeman, coming up
and touching his forehead to the magistrate.

“Well, Sims, what is it?”

“I think, sir, as the prisoner could not have escaped through either of
the doors guarded by me or my comrade, that she must have got out in
some other manner, and that this young woman, who stayed with her all
night must know all about it; and with submission to your worship, I
think she ought to be made to tell.”

“Oh! _ought_ I? I’d like to see who’ll make _me_ tell anything I don’t
want to tell!” exclaimed Miss Tabs, thrown as completely off her guard
as any passionate person may be if one can only succeed in making them

“I agree with you,” said the doctor to the policeman. Then turning to
Tabitha, he said: “Young woman, you have betrayed yourself. You
evidently know something of this mysterious escape of the prisoner. And
we must insist upon your divulging all that you do know.”

“Werry well, insist away; I aint no manner of objection to your
insisting as much as ever you please,” replied Tabitha, folding her
arms, setting her teeth, and grinning defiance at the doctor.

“How did the prisoner escape from the room?” demanded the latter.

“I don’t know,” replied Tabitha.

“You _do_ know, and I will make you tell,” vociferated the doctor.

“Werry well then, make me,” sneered Miss Tabs.

“How did the prisoner escape, I ask you?”

“And I tell you I don’t know.”

“Young woman, I am that sure you _do_ know, and you shall be forced to

“Listen to me then; I will tell you what I _do_ know, and I won’t tell
you anything more.”

“That is all we wish to hear. Go on.”

“Well then, I fell asleep in that chair, and when I woke up my missus
was gone. That’s what I _know_. And it stands to reason as that perlice,
as kept the passage door, must have come in while I was asleep and stole
her off.”

“Young woman, are you telling the truth?”

“Yes, sir; ’pon my word and honor.”

“The _whole_ truth?”

“Lawk, sir, I don’t _know_ the whole truth no more nor Pontius Pilate.”

“Girl! you know more than you choose to tell; but I will find a way to
make you open your mouth,” said the doctor, sternly.

“And I won’t open my mouth no wider for nobody on earth, nor for nothing
that can be done to me! I’ll be burked, and made a subject of, and
’natomized in a dissecting-room afore I’ll open my mouth any wider for
anybody on earth! So there now!”

“Young woman, it is my duty to inform you that if you know anything of
the escape of the prisoner, you can be made to divulge it,” said the

“I don’t know nothing at all about it, and I won’t divulge anything
about it,” said Miss Tabs, rather inconsistently. “I won’t! to save
anybody’s life! And I’d like to see who’ll make me speak when I don’t
want to speak! I’d like to see the Church and the State try to do it! or
the army and navy try to do it! or the House of Commons and the House of
Lords try! or the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chancellor try!
or all of them together try to make me speak when I don’t want to

“Or hold your tongue when you don’t want to hold it, you impudent
creature!” exclaimed the doctor, in a rage.

“Well, I s’pose people can be imperent if they choose to take the
consequences, can’t they? And here am I, ready to take the consequences.
I s’pose you’ll do something dreadful to me! well, do it; here I am,
ready to be made a wictim of, or a martyr of, or a ’natomy of! But I
won’t speak! I won’t speak! I won’t! to please anybody.”

“You are speaking all the time, you wretch! You are deafening us with
your speech, if you would only speak to the purpose,” said the doctor.

“Your words, young woman, betray that you do know more of this matter
than you are willing to divulge,” said the magistrate, gravely.

“I have told you what I do know, sir; that when I closed my eyes my
mistress was still in the room, and when I woke up she was gone.”

“But have you no knowledge or suspicion of how she went?”

“I have no certain knowledge, sir, as I did not see her when she left.
But as there seems no other way of her getting out of the room, it
stands to reason that that policeman as kept the passage door must have
let her out.”

The magistrate and the doctor looked at each other in perplexity. They
had full faith in the policeman; they had no faith whatever in Tabitha,
and yet the evidence was certainly against the policeman, and in favor
of Tabitha. She saw this, and followed up her advantage by saying,

“There, gentlemen, I have told you the truth. I can’t tell you any more
than that. Now you may do your worst to me, for here I stand ready to be
a martyr to the truth.”

The doctor and the magistrate still continued to look into each other’s
faces for counsel.

“Why don’t you make the policeman confess? Don’t you see that there was
no other way for Miss Leaton to escape but through the door that he
guarded, for the dressing-room guarded by the other policeman has no
outlet, and the window-shutters were all barred and padlocked by the
doctor, who took away the keys with him. And even if he had not done so,
the windows are full sixty feet from the ground, and even if she had
attempted to jump from either of them, she must have broken her neck.
But she could not even have attempted it, since the windows were found
as they were left, securely fastened. And therefore, your worship, is it
not perfectly clear as my mistress must have left the room through the
door guarded by that perlice?” concluded Tabitha, pointing vindictively
at the innocent but discomfitted officer.

“Sims, this looks very badly for you,” said the magistrate.

“I know it do, your worship, but I hope my character is above

“I believe it to be, Sims, and I do not myself suspect you.”

In fact, both the magistrate and the doctor strongly suspected Tabitha,
but as the evidence was certainly not against her, they could do nothing
in the premises.

They left the chamber, and went down into the crimson drawing-room,
which had been the scene of so many of the investigations, to consult
with the others upon the best means of searching for and recapturing the

They remained long in consultation before it occurred to them to summon
one who might be supposed to take the deepest interest in the matter.
Then Mr. Humphreys said:

“Had not Mr. Montrose better be requested to give us his company and
counsel in this affair?”

“Certainly,” replied Doctor Watkins, ringing the bell.

“Give my respects to Mr. Montrose, and say that we should be pleased to
see him here,” said the doctor to the footman who answered the bell.

The servant withdrew, but presently returned with the news.

“Mr. Montrose has not yet risen, sir.”

“Lazy fellow, and it is nearly twelve o’clock,” said the doctor,
dismissing that matter from his mind, and resuming the business with the

The form of a placard was drawn up, offering a reward for the
apprehension of Eudora Leaton, and this was ordered to be immediately
printed and posted all over the country. The police were sent out in
every direction to prosecute the search; and when these measures for the
apprehension of the fugitive had been taken, the doctor ordered in
breakfast, and sat down with the magistrate and solicitor to partake of
it. And while they were thus engaged, Malcolm Montrose, who had returned
home unobserved, quietly entered the dining-room, and bade them good

“Oh, you are up at last!” said the doctor.

“I had a very bad night’s rest; that must be my apology for a very late
appearance,” said Malcolm, drawing his chair to the table.

“And have you heard since you came down that the prisoner has escaped?”

“Yes, so my servant informed me; but she cannot have gone far.”

“Why, no; and as the promptest measures have been taken for her
apprehension, we hope soon to have her safely lodged in jail. But the
great mystery is the manner of her escape. She must have vanished up the
chimney. I suspect Tabs of knowing more about it than she is willing to
tell; but then there is no evidence against her, and she insists that
her mistress must have been spirited away by the policeman on guard
while she, Tabs, slept. And in fact if we were not assured of the
fidelity of Sims, this would seem the most likely solution of the

“I should think it would seem the only one,” said Malcolm, secretly
thanking Heaven that Tabitha had proved “game,” and that the manner of
Eudora’s escape was as yet unknown and unsuspected.

The remainder of the day was passed in fruitless search for the
fugitive, of whom several traces were supposed to have been found. One
policeman brought back the report that a young lady in deep mourning had
taken the night train at Poolville for Edinburgh. Another that a young
person answering to the description of Eudora Leaton had been seen to
get into the cross-country stage-coach going to Sherbourne. A third
brought the intelligence that a young woman in black had been seen to go
on board a vessel bound for Abbeyport—a small sea-coast village six
miles from Allworth—to Arrach, on the north coast of Ireland.

Policemen, armed with warrants, were sent off in all these directions,
while the route of the fugitive remained undiscovered.

Late that night Lieutenant Norham Montrose, the younger brother of
Malcolm, arrived at the Abbey.

Norham Montrose was, in form and features, the very counterpart of
Malcolm, having the same tall, broad-shouldered, deep-chested, strong
limbed athletic form, the same noble Roman features, and the same
commanding presence. But in complexion and in temperament they were as
opposite as day and night; for whereas Malcolm was fair as a Saxon, with
clear, blue eyes, and light auburn hair, Norham was dark as a Spaniard,
with jet-black eyes and raven-black hair and whiskers. And where Malcolm
was gracious, liberal and confiding, Norham was haughty, reserved and

He had not visited the Abbey since the arrival of Eudora from India, and
consequently he had never seen her. The letter from the family solicitor
that summoned him to the house informed him of all that had taken place.
And now he came with his dark blood boiling, and his heart burning in
hatred and vengeance against her whom he considered the fell destroyer
of the doomed Leaton family.

Malcolm received him with grave affection, and they talked over the late
tragedy in very much the same strain in which Malcolm had already
discussed the circumstances with others—Malcolm insisting upon the
innocence of Eudora, and Norham, like former opponents, appealing to the
overwhelming evidence against her.

The next day had been appointed for the double funeral.

At an early hour of the morning the guests began to assemble to pay due
respect to the memory of the deceased.

Among the neighboring gentry who had been invited to assist at the
solemnities, were the respective families of the Honorable Mrs.
Elverton, of Edenlawn, and the veteran Admiral Sir Ira Brunton, of the

These, as the nearest neighbors and dearest friends of the deceased,
arrived first upon the premises.

The admiral came alone in a mourning coach, and was received by Mr.
Montrose and Lieutenant Montrose.

Mrs. Elverton came, accompanied by her daughter Alma, and was received
by the Princess Pezzilini in the deepest mourning.

It was high noon when, in all the “pomp, pride and circumstance” of
death, the remains of Lady Leaton and her daughter Agatha were consigned
to the family vault under the chapel, where three months before those of
the head of the House had been laid. They were placed, the wife on the
right and the daughter on the left of the late Lord Leaton. And it was
with feelings deeper than awe that the mourners left the chapel where
rested the bodies of the last of that once flourishing but now
extinguished race.

After the funeral obsequies were over, it was arranged that the brothers
Malcolm and Norham Montrose, as next of kin and heirs presumptive,
should remain for the present in charge of Allworth Abbey.

But as it was known that the Princess Pezzilini, still a young and
beautiful woman, could not continue as the guest of two gentlemen in a
house where there was no other lady, she was immediately overwhelmed
with invitations. All the country gentry contended for the honor of the
company of an exiled princess. But the beautiful Italian decided to
accept for the present the hospitality of the veteran hero, Admiral Sir
Ira Brunton.

And the same evening, attended by Miss Tabs, whom she had taken into her
service, the princess accompanied the gallant admiral to his elegant
retreat, the Anchorage.

                              CHAPTER XI.
                          THE YOUNG WANDERER.

                 “Either they fear their fate too much,
                   Or their desert is small,
                 Who put it not unto the touch,
                   And lose or win it all.”

The interests of our history require that we take up the fortunes of the
captain’s orphan daughter from the moment that she was left alone on the
evening preceding her flight.

Poor Annella had not been brought up as other young girls, and therefore
should not be judged by the same standard.

The only and motherless child of a dissipated officer in a marching
regiment, nearly the whole of her neglected childhood had been passed in
the camp, in the barracks, and in perpetual change of place.

And in this roving and unguarded life she had contracted a reckless
spirit of independence, a proud impatience of restraint, and a wild love
of freedom, which might lead her into the gravest errors, precipitate
her into the deepest misfortunes, and require the severest discipline of
Providence to correct.

Hitherto her short life, though erratic, had been blameless.

Now deprived by death of her father, her only natural guardian, and the
only authority she would recognize, her high spirit revolted at the
thought of control by any other power. And above all, the idea of a
degrading parochial interference in her personal matters was most
abhorrent to her proud heart.

Thus, the strongest motives that could actuate a creature of her
peculiar character prompted her to immediate flight—on the one hand, a
loathing dread of the degradation of being sent to the union, or bound
to a mistress, or left a burden upon the poor widow; and on the other
hand, a longing desire for liberty, fresh air, and country scenery; and
under all this a latent love of adventure, a romantic disposition, and a
long-cherished secret resolution to make her own way in the world,
combined an irresistible power to urge Annella to this strange

From the hour of overhearing the conversation between the parish
officers and the landlady, she had firmly determined upon making her
escape into the country.

To hint such a purpose to Mrs. Corder she knew would be to raise instant
and fatal opposition to her plans; and once resolved to escape, she was
desirous that her departure should be without hindrance or pursuit.
Therefore her withdrawal must be private as well as prompt.

But to leave the house without taking leave of her kind friends would
seem ungrateful, and to leave them in anxiety concerning her fate would
be cruel.

Therefore, after some consideration, she resolved upon the expedient of
writing a farewell letter. When she had finished, folded, and directed
this letter, she pinned it in front of the frame of her dressing-glass,
in a conspicuous place, where she knew it must be found.

Next she made a large compact bundle of all the most valuable portions
of her personal effects; then she put up a small parcel containing only
a single change of clothing. And then she looked into her purse, that
contained just half-a-crown, which had been slipped into her hand by
Eudora, and accepted as a loan, to be repaid at some future day.

Lastly, she lay down upon the bed to rest while waiting for the dawn of
day to commence her journey. She did not expect or even wish to sleep;
yet scarcely had her head sunk upon her pillow, when her fatigue
overcame her excitement and cast her into a deep sleep that lasted until

Day was dawning when she awoke with a start and a sudden recollection of
her purpose.

She sprang up from the bed, and commenced cautious but hasty
preparations for her flight.

When quite ready, she took her bundles in her arms and silently
descended the stairs until she reached the narrow entrance-hall. She
softly glided along this hall until she reached the front door. She
unlocked this door, passed through it, closed it behind her, and went
forth alone into the world.

The street was at this hour more deserted, still, and silent than at any
other time of the day or night. The latest wayfarers had long since
retired, and the earliest were not yet astir. The rows of houses on each
side the street presented long, dark lines of unbroken gloom and

For a moment Annella stood before the door she was about to leave, and
looked up and down the street in perplexity where first to direct her

Then she turned up the street, and walked on briskly in the direction of
the city.

It was growing quite light, so that by the time she reached London
Bridge the sun was rising and throwing a flood of golden glory over the
waters of the river.

She crossed the bridge and hurried onward up King William street until
she reached the shop of a Jew dealer in second-hand clothing.

She entered this shop, untied her large bundle, displayed its contents
upon the counter, and inquired of the Jewess in attendance:

“What will you give me for these?”

“How mush do you wantsh?” asked the woman.

“I think they are worth three pounds, but you may have them for two,”
replied Annella, hesitatingly.

“Two poundsh!! You are jokinsh,” said the Jewess turning the half-worn
dresses over in disdain.

“What will you give me for them, then?” inquired Annella, impatiently.

“Five shillingsh for the lotsh.”

“That will not do,” said Annella, beginning to tie up her bundle.

“Stopsh, stopsh, letsh talk a little more,” said the woman, detaining
her customer.

Annella paused, and a little more bargaining ensued, in which, as a
matter of course, Annella was cheated. Impatient to be off, she closed
the sale, disposing of her wardrobe for the sum of ten shillings, and
left the house.

Keeping nearly due north, she walked on until in due course of time she
reached the King’s-cross Railway station.

It was now nine o’clock.

She entered the ticket-office, and inquired when the next train would
start. She was told at ten minutes past the hour. This gave her just
time enough to get a cup of coffee and a bun at the pastrycook’s stall
opposite the office.

When she had partaken of this refreshment that her long walk had made so
necessary, she went up to the third-class ticket-window, laid her half
sovereign upon the ledge, and enquired of the clerk:

“How far on this line will this money take me?”

Instead of answering her question the clerk regarded her with such a
look of suspicion, that she hastened to say:

“I have just lost my father, and have no relations here in London. I
wish to go to the north, where I have a friend. I have only twelve
shillings and six pence, and I wish to save half-a-crown to buy food,
and to go as far as half-a-sovereign will carry me on my way; after that
I must walk.”

There were other passengers thronging to the window to be accommodated,
and so the clerk hastily drew in the half-sovereign and pushed out a
ticket, which she seized as she left the window, and joined the crowd
that was hurrying towards the third-class carriages. She had just taken
her seat when the train started.

It was the first train, and thus it happened that at the very moment in
which good Mrs. Corder discovered the absence of her favorite, Annella
was full forty miles from London, flying northward at the rate of forty
miles an hour.

As the train rushed onward the wild girl’s spirits rose.

It was a beautiful day in spring; the earth wore its tenderest and
freshest green; the sky its softest and clearest blue; and the sun shone
out like the smile of God over all nature.

Annella was alone in the world; she had just buried her father, and had
not a reliable friend left upon earth; she had but one change of
clothing in her parcel, and one-half crown in her purse; she knew not
exactly where she was going; where she should eat her next meal, or take
her next night’s rest.

And yet, in a state of poverty, friendlessness, and uncertainty that
must have crushed the spirit of any grown-up man or woman subjected to
the trial, this child could not feel sorrowful, anxious, or foreboding.

The sun was bright, the country fresh, and the motion rapid; and between
the beauty of the day, the swiftness of the journey, and the shifting of
the scenery, her spirits were so exhilarated that she could have sung
for joy. It was rapture to watch the woods and fields, farms and
hamlets, hills and valleys reel past her as the train flew onward. It
was delight to stop at the strange towns, with strange streets and
houses, and strange people coming and going. And it was ecstasy to rush
onward again with lightning speed. And intoxication to feel that she was

She might be the most miserable little creature alive, but she did not
know it. She might come to beggary the next day, but she did not think
it. She might be rushing straight to ruin, but she did not feel it.
Thus, despite of frowning Fate, the spirit in her bosom clapped its
wings and crowed for joy.

And by this the reader may jump to the conclusion that Annella’s brain
was slightly “touched;” that she was a little “luny;” that she had not
her “right change.” Nothing of the sort, dear reader. Annella was simply
undisciplined, inexperienced, and eccentric. Her ignorance was “bliss.”
And so, though poor and friendless, she set forth to seek her fortune
with as brave a spirit as ever inspired Richard Cœur-de-Lion, Lady
Hester Stanhope, or any other knight or dame of ancient or of modern
times when sallying forth in quest of adventures.

The day wore on. The afternoon was so much more sultry than the season
warranted, that the weather-wise farmers in the carriage with Annella
predicted the approach of one of the heaviest storms that ever shook
heaven and earth. And, as if in justification of this prediction,
towards evening the clouds began to gather thick, black, and lowering
over the earth. The face of the country also changed. The lovely woods,
fertile fields, and fruitful farms were all left far behind, and the
barren heaths of the north lay all around.

And still the train rushed onward in the face of the approaching
tempest. And still with undaunted spirit, Annella sped on towards her
unknown fate.

One after another of her fellow-passengers left the carriage in which
she travelled, until at last, at a small roadside station, Annella found
herself quite alone. And at this station the guard put his head in at
the door with the peremptory demand:


Annella started from her day-dream, and nervously produced hers.

“You’ve travelled thirty miles farther than you’ve any right to do with
this ticket, and I’ve a great mind to give you in charge,” said the
guard, angrily.

“Have I? Indeed I did not mean to do it. I quite forgot to look at my
ticket,” said Annella, beginning to tremble in a manner most unworthy of
damsel-errant seeking her fortune.

“You knew where you were going to, I suppose,” growled the guard.

“Indeed I didn’t; I only wanted to go as far by rail as this ticket
would take me.”

“And that was to Howth, and you’ve left Howth twenty miles behind you.”

“My gracious!” was the dismayed exclamation of poor Nella.

“Come! that won’t do, you know; you’ve got to get out, and I shall give
you in charge of a policeman. I see one coming now.”

“Don’t! pray don’t! See, I’ve two shillings left, that ought to be
enough to pay for a twenty-miles’ ride in a third-class carriage,” said
Annella, springing out, and thrusting her last money into the hand of
the guard.

That exemplary officer pocketed the fee, and ran forward to open the
door of a first-class carriage to admit a gentleman and lady who were
waiting for seats.

The train moved on, leaving Annella standing alone by the roadside with
her little bundle in her hand, but without a penny in her purse. Around
her, in all directions, lay the barren and rolling heaths. Above her
lowered the dark and threatening clouds. Night, storm, and darkness were
approaching, and she was houseless, friendless, and penniless on the
heath. She looked around her on all sides for shelter from the gathering
tempest, but she could not see a sign of human habitation. Even the
little wayside station, so busy a moment before, seemed now shut up and

In fact, the business of seeking her fortune did not seem half so
pleasant as it had appeared in the morning, and she fairly wished
herself home in good Mrs. Corder’s third-floor back; but only for a
moment, and then her spirits rallied, and she walked on, saying to

“Come, Nella, we mustn’t be dismayed by the first difficulty, let us go
on; we are in a Christian country, any how, and by-and-by we must come
to some cottage, where the people will give us shelter from the storm
to-night, and to-morrow will be a new day.”

And so, with a smile in the face of frowning Fortune, she struck into a
road that crossed the rail way track and hurried onward.

She knew not where she was bound. She knew not where in all the north
Allworth Abbey, the goal of her desires, might be situated. She knew not
even whether she might be within five or ten miles of the place. In
setting out to seek it she had taken the general northern route as far
as the train would carry her for her money, trusting to the chapter of
accidents to find the rest of her way to her destination.

“It must be within a circuit of twenty miles, I should think; and
somebody about here must know something about it. So to-night I must
seek shelter from the storm, and to-morrow inquire my way to the Abbey,”
she thought, as she trudged onward through the gathering darkness.

Low mutterings of thunder and large drops of rain warned her to hurry
her steps. She ran on, looking eagerly to the right and left to spy out
some wayside cottage in which she might find refuge from the impending
storm. But the darkness was now so thick that she could scarcely see her
own road.

Suddenly the clouds were cleft asunder by a stroke of forked lightning,
that blazed from horizon to horizon, making the night for one instant as
bright as noonday. This was immediately followed by a reverberating
crash of thunder and a heavy fall of rain.

Annella stood still, but not appalled; for in that one instantaneous
glare of light she had seen on a rising ground far to the westward the
white chimneys of a mansion-house. And though the whole scene was again
swallowed up in darkness, she kept the direction of the house in her
“mind’s eye,” and bent her steps towards it, trusting in the frequent
flashes of lightning to correct her mistakes and guide her on her way.

Her way lay up and down hill through this dreadful night of storm, of
blinding lightning, of deafening thunder, and of drowning rain. Confused
by the warring elements, saturated with wet, and exhausted by fatigue,
Annella yet held on her way towards the mansion upon which she had fixed
as her house of refuge.

As she approached the neighborhood of this dwelling she grew independent
of the lightning as a guide, for in the darkness between the flashes she
could see the windows of the mansion, which seemed to be illuminated
from within as for a festival.

And from the moment that she found she could keep the house constantly
in view, she toiled on towards it hopefully, saying to herself:

“It may be a gentleman’s house or a lord’s house, but it must be a
civilized Christian’s house, and therefore it must afford me shelter
from the storm for this one night.”

So, though nearly blinded, deafened, and drowned by the lightning,
thunder, and rain, Annella valiantly pushed on towards the goal.

But ah! that place of refuge was much farther off than she had supposed
it to be. A brilliant light set upon a hill is seen for a long way off
in a dark night; and long after Annella had first caught sight of the
illuminated windows, she continued to toil on through night and storm
and darkness, through thunder, lightning, and rain, up and down hill,
over the rough road, without seeming to get much nearer the desired

Even the storm grew weary of raging and growled itself to rest. The
lightning ceased to flash, the thunder to roll, and the rain to fall;
the clouds dispersed, the stars came out, and the moon arose; and
Annella, hungry, wet, and weary, still pushed on up hill and down hill
towards the illuminated house, which, at last, she was certainly drawing

At length she began to ascend a hill on which the mansion stood, blazing
like a beacon-light at sea. When she reached the summit of the hill she
found herself arrested by the low brick wall that seemed to enclose the
home-park attached to the house. Taking this wall for her guide, she
followed it, hoping that it would bring her at last to the gate or the
gamekeeper’s lodge. Keeping close to the wall, and walking rapidly, she
came indeed to the gate, which stood wide open and unguarded, as the
lodge beside it was untenanted.

She passed through the gate and entered a long semi-circular avenue of
elms, that in the course of fifteen minutes’ rapid walk brought her up
in front of a magnificent house, the whole square front of which was
illuminated from top to bottom.

And yet there was not a living creature to be seen!

Annella paused in awe, and gazed upon the brilliant and imposing front,
muttering to herself:

“There must be a party here to-night. And yet there cannot be, either,
for I see no servants, no carriages, and no crowd. And though everything
is as bright as heaven, it is also as silent as the grave! What in the
world can be the meaning of it all?”

Without daring to go up and knock at the principal door, Annella turned
and went around to seek admittance at some humbler back entrance,
thinking, with a shudder:

“I shall be torn to pieces by the dogs, I suppose.”

But no dogs barked, and Annella made her way unharmed to the back part
of the house.

Here the windows were likewise all illuminated, and some of them were so
near the ground that Annella was tempted to look in upon the inmates
before knocking for admittance.

So she climbed upon an outside cellar-door, and holding by the
window-sill above it, looked through the window in upon the room.

It was a cosy sitting-room, warmly lighted, well carpeted, and well
curtained, though now the curtains were drawn back, letting the cheerful
light stream out into the cheerless night. There was a table in the
centre of the room covered with a most comfortable and substantial

Within her view sat two persons—a tall, lean, gray-haired old man, and a
short, fat, fair-haired old woman.

They looked so happy that Annella could not choose but hold on to the
window-sill and gaze upon their happiness, until the woman, raising her
eyes to the window, started, uttered a shriek, and dropped her knife and

And at the same instant Annella sank down out of sight upon the

But soon she heard a commotion in the room over her head, followed by
the opening of a door to the left, and the crashing of a footstep
through the shrubbery. And the next instant she felt herself rudely
seized, and set upon her feet, while a rough hand turned the light of a
dark lantern full upon her face, and a harsh voice demanded:

“Ship ahoy! Who are you?”

“Annella Wilder!” gasped the captured girl, as she recognized the tall,
lean, gray-haired old man whom she had watched at his supper.

“From what port?” asked the questioner.

“I don’t know, sir,” answered Annella, in perplexity.

“Where bound?”

“I do not understand you, sir.”

“Who’s your skipper?”

“Indeed I cannot tell you, sir.”

“Come along in then to the admiral! We’ll see if we can’t make you show
your colors. We can’t have any piratical-looking crafts cruising about
in our seas without overhauling their letters of marque! so I’ll just
take you in tow and tug you into port, alongside of the admiral,” said
the oddity, keeping a firm hold of his prize, and forcing her on through
the back entrance into the house.

                              CHAPTER XII.
                             THE ANCHORAGE.

              Some, indeed, have said that creeping,
              Lightly to the casement leaping,
              Slily through the window peeping,
                  They a ghostly maid have seen.
              To the oaken sill she clingeth,
              And her wanlike hands she wringeth,
              Then in garments white she wingeth
              O’er the grassy plain so green.—_E. P. Lee._

About three miles west of Allworth Abbey, upon a commanding hight near
the sea-coast stood the Anchorage, the seat of Admiral Sir Ira Brunton.
The park extended to the sea, and its western wall rose directly from
the edge of the cliff, which formed a natural boundary to this extensive

Immediately under this cliff nestled the little fishing village of
Abbeyport, with its single street of cottages facing the sea, its small
fleet of fishing-smacks drawn up to the shore, and its one humble
tavern, called the Flagship, kept by Mr. Tom Tows, a retired boatswain,
and patronized liberally by the kitchen cabinet of Admiral Sir Ira

The Anchorage, was a large, square, gray edifice, three stories high,
with two great halls crossing each other at right angles, and dividing
each floor into four separate suites of apartments.

The numerous windows of the mansion commanded from all points the most
magnificent prospect perhaps to be found in the three kingdoms.

The front windows facing the west looked over the grand slope of hills
towards the edge of the cliff, and down upon the picturesque village at
its foot and out upon the boundless ocean.

The back, or east windows, looked inland down into the deep valley and
thick woods in which was hidden the old Abbey and the dark pool which
lay before it.

The north windows looked out upon a rolling country of sterile heaths,
dotted here and there with an oasis in the form of a farm or a hamlet.

And lastly, the south windows looked down over a smiling landscape of
wooded hills surrounding a green valley, in the midst of which lay a
lovely lake, upon whose farthest bank stood the elegant villa of
Edenlawn, the seat of the Honorable Mrs. Elverton.

Admiral Sir Ira Brunton, the proprietor of the Anchorage, was originally
a man of the people. By talent, courage, and good fortune, he had risen
from the humblest post in the navy to his present high position.

He shared, however, that too common weakness of self-made men—an
exaggerated respect for hereditary rank.

At the mature age of forty, when he had attained the rank of
post-captain, and was flushed with his recent success, he attempted to
marry into the peerage by proposing for the hand of the titled but
dowerless daughter of an earl.

But failing in this enterprise, he wedded the only child and heiress of
a wealthy city banker, who brought him as her portion a half million of
pounds sterling, the beauty of a Venus, and the temper of a Xantippe.

With a part of the money he bought the magnificent estate of the
Anchorage, and with the lady he lived a tempestuous life of twelve
years, at the end of which she stormed herself to death, leaving him as
a legacy one fair daughter, ten years of age, named after her mother,
Anna Eleanora.

Admiral Sir Ira—then Captain Brunton—did not again venture on the
dangerous sea of matrimony, but brought home his widowed mother to take
charge of the young lady, and engaged a French governess to superintend
her education. But a simple-minded, old-fashioned dame, and an
unprincipled French adventuress, were not exactly the best guides for a
self-willed girl.

And so it happened that when Miss Anna Eleanora was about sixteen years
of age, while her father was at sea, and herself with her grandmother
and governess at Brighton, she accidentally formed the acquaintance of a
young lieutenant of Hussars, whose regiment was stationed at the
neighboring barracks. With the connivance of the French governess, who
was heavily feed for the purpose, the young officer frequently met the
little heiress, with whom he finally eloped to Gretna Green, where they
were married.

If, instead of that romantic love which had misled both the young
creatures, fortune had been the object of the lieutenant, he must have
been wofully disappointed, for when the captain returned from the coast
of Africa, and heard of the runaway marriage, he discarded his daughter
and son-in-law, and forbade the names of either ever to be mentioned in
his presence.

As the commands of Captain Brunton were as absolute as the laws of the
Medes and Persians, the name of his only child and her young husband
dropped from conversation and from memory, and thus their offence, and
even their very existence, became an old and forgotten story.

The captain rose from post to post in the navy, until, finally, at the
advanced age of seventy-five, he retired from active service with the
well-earned rank of an admiral and the well-merited title of a baronet.

His household at this late period of his life was a very remarkable
illustration of family longevity.

It consisted of his grandmother, a hale old dame of one hundred and
eight years; his mother, a healthy old woman of ninety-two; himself, a
hearty veteran of seventy-five; and his grand-nephew and adopted heir,
Midshipman Valerius Brightwell, a young gentleman of nineteen.

The antique grandmother of this strong family was commonly called “old
mistress,” “the old madam,” or “old Mrs. Stilton.” The ancient mother
was termed “young mistress,” “the young madam,” or “young Mrs. Brunton.”
The veteran admiral was denominated by his venerable ancestresses “that
thoughtless boy,” and by the household, “the young master.” And the
midshipman was called by the old ladies, “the dear baby,” by the
admiral, “the lad,” and by the servants, “little Master Vally.”

At the venerable age of seventy-five, with an emaciated form, a withered
face, and a grey head, the veteran did not even suspect that he was
growing old, far less know that he was really an aged man, who had
already exceeded the average duration of a human life.

The truth was that the existence and the vigorous health of the two
ancient ladies, his mother and his grandmother, kept the admiral in his
prime. How could any man feel old, while his mother and his grandmother
still lived in a green old age—and while they still thought of him and
spoke of him as a gay young man, who had not yet sowed all his wild
oats, but who required the constant supervision and guidance of his
elders to keep him out of temptation and danger?

And thus, while the whole family honestly united in keeping up this
delusion, could the admiral be blamed for sharing it?

Among the domestic servants of the Anchorage two deserve mention—Mr.
Jessup, late of Her Majesty’s Service, now in that of Admiral Sir Ira
Brunton, to whom he filled the relation of confidential attendant, and
Mistress Barbara Broadsides, the housekeeper.

Jessup was tall, thin, pale-faced, and grey-haired in person; and
narrow, prejudiced and authoritative in mind.

Mrs. Broadsides was short, fat, rosy, and fair-haired in person; and
liberal, merciful, and yielding in disposition. As might be expected,
there was a strong attraction of antagonism between these two opposite
natures that led to a matrimonial engagement that was to be consummated
after the death of the admiral and his mother and grandmother; but as
the sibyls and their descendant had fallen into “a confirmed malady of
living on for ever,” Jessup and Mrs. Broadsides were growing old as
betrothed lovers.

Such, with the necessary number of men and maid servants, was the
household of Admiral Sir Ira Brunton at the time he invited the Italian
princess to honor his mansion with her presence.

The admiral had gallantly given up his coach for the accommodation of
the princess and her attendant, while he himself escorted them on

It was a lovely summer afternoon, and when they emerged from the dark,
wooded vale, and ascended the high grounds lying between it and the
sea-coast, nothing could be more animated than the sudden change of
scene from deep shadow and circumscribed view to open sunshine and a
boundless landscape. The princess and her attendant enjoyed it
exceedingly, and despite all adverse circumstances, felt their spirits
rise accordingly.

The admiral frequently rode up to the side of the carriage to point out
some object of interest in the landscape, such as the bright little
lake, Eden, lying like a clear mirror in the bosom of its green valley,
and reflecting in its deep waters its lovely, embracing hills, and its
crowning villa of Edenlawn.

And upon these occasions the admiral ever addressed his illustrious
guest with the profoundest respect as “your highness,” until at length
the princess, with a sweet and mournful look and tone, said:

“Do not mock me with that title, best friend. I am a widow and a
fugitive, dependent on your bounty for the roof that shelters my head
and the bread that maintains my life. Do not mock me, therefore, with
any titles of honor. I am poor Gentilescha Pezzilini; no more than that.
I do not even permit my servants to address me by any other title than
the simple one of madame, that a matron of any rank may bear.”

“Madame, I am the humblest of your servants, and must obey you,” said
the admiral, bowing deeply as he fell behind the carriage.

“A deused fine woman! I’m glad that she is a widow, and a fugitive, and
the rest of it. I wonder—humph—” thought the admiral, falling into a
day-dream, in which the fair person of Madame Pezzilini formed the
principal figure.

Clearly, “that thoughtless boy” was in danger of forming an indiscreet

While they passed slowly over the beautiful downs, the bright sky became
gradually overcast, and low mutterings of thunder reverberated around
the horizon.

Once more the admiral approached the carriage-window to say:

“We shall have a storm, madame. Shall I order your coachman to drive

“Certainly, Sir Ira. I only desired to be driven slowly that we might
enjoy the lovely afternoon, but since it grows dark and stormy, let us
get on by all means, especially as you are exposed to the weather. Had
you not better get into the carriage, and let my servant Antonio take
your horse?” inquired the princess.

“I thank you, madame; and should the storm really overtake us, I will
gladly avail myself of your permission to do so; but I hope that we
shall get under shelter before it breaks upon us,” replied the admiral;
and then calling to the coachman, “Drive like the deuse, Ned,” he again
fell behind.

The sky grew darker and darker, the thunder rolled louder and nearer,
and though Ned really drove his horses as if the Evil One were in chase
of him, he had only made the half circuit of the park wall, and turned
into the circular avenue of elms leading to the house, before the black,
overhanging canopy of clouds was suddenly broken by a blinding flash of
lightning, followed by a stunning crash of thunder and falling deluge of

The admiral spurred his steed, the coachman whipped his horses, and in
two minutes they reached the house. The admiral sprang from his horse,
assisted the princess to alight from the carriage, and led her into the
house, just in time to escape another flash of lightning, peal of
thunder, and whirl of rain.

They were met by the two old ladies, who had come out into the hall to
do honor to their guest. They were two fine old dames, tall, thin,
fair-faced, and grey-haired like their descendant, the admiral. They
were both dressed similarly in black satin gowns with white muslin
neckerchiefs, and white lace caps; and looked very much alike, except
that the elder had more flesh and less hair than the younger. They stood
smiling and courtesying with pleasing, old-fashioned affability.

“Madame Pezzilini,” said the admiral, with formal courtesy, “will your
highness permit me to present to you my grandmother, Mrs. Stilton, and
my mother, Mrs. Brunton, who both feel highly honored to receive you?”

“That we do,” said the elder.

“Yes, I’m sure,” added the other.

“Ladies, kind friends,” said the Italian, “you see before you no
princess, but a poor widow, a stranger and a fugitive, who seeks only a
temporary asylum under your hospitable roof.”

“You are kindly welcome, madame, either as one or the other,” said Mrs.
Stilton, heartily, offering her hand.

“Ah, that indeed you are!” chimed in Mrs. Brunton, extending hers.

The princess received and pressed those venerable hands, and was about
to express her thanks, when a broad glare of lightning, accompanied by a
deafening roll of thunder, and a shock of wind and rain that seemed to
shake the house, made them spring apart. The effect of this burst of the
tempest was felt with the more force from the fact that all the window
shutters were still open.

“Good gracious, Iry!” said the oldest lady, as soon as she had recovered
from the shock; “surely you’ll have the shutters closed on such an awful
night as this?”

“No, ma’am, not this night, of all nights in the year. The harder the
storm the greater the need of a beacon-light to guide any wayfaring
traveller to the house,” said the admiral, decidedly.

Then turning to the princess, he added:

“Madame, I have a custom of which I hope you will not disapprove; it is
to leave my window-shutters open every night up to the latest hour of
retiring, so that the lights may shine far out over the downs, to guide
any weary and benighted traveller to one house, at least, where he is
sure to find welcome and succor. And especially on tempestuous nights, I
light up the whole house from top to bottom, to invite any poor,
storm-beaten wayfarer to its shelter. I hope you approve of the custom?”

“I think it a grand and beautiful instance of benevolence!” said the
princess, in a fervent tone.

“I am rewarded,” replied the admiral, “that is, if I had deserved
reward; but the fact is, that in doing this, I only pay a debt.
Providence having guided me through a very stormy existence into this
safe port at last, the least I can do is to open the harbor freely to
all other tempest-tost barques. That is the reason I call it the
Anchorage; for any storm-driven craft is free to enter and drop anchor

“It is nobly said—” began the princess; but the words were interrupted
by another burst of the tempest that rattled all the windows, and seemed
to shake the firm building to its foundation.

“Iry, I must say that you are clean mad. Every pane of glass in the
house will be shattered, and cost no end of money to replace, besides
the inconvenience!” cried Mrs. Stilton, as soon as she could recover her
breath after the last shaking.

“No danger, grandmother; these old windows have stood harder storms than
this,” replied the admiral, laughing.

Then turning to the princess, he said, in a low voice:

“Madame Pezzilini, my grandmother and mother are old-fashioned dames,
and so I hope that you will make allowance for their ways.”

The quick ears of the old lady caught this disparaging apology, and she
was prompt to reply.

“Don’t you mind that boy, madame; like all young people, he thinks
himself wiser than his elders; but time will teach him better, and show
him that old-fashioned ways are the best ways after all.”

The princess opened her large blue eyes in astonishment at hearing this
grey-haired veteran spoken of as an inexperienced youth, but remembering
that it was his grandmother who spoke thus, she merely bowed and smiled
in reply—the bow and smile being, in this case, a non-committal answer.

“And now, my dear grandmother, old fashions and new fashions both agree
in suggesting that Madame Pezzilini be shown to her apartment before
tea,” said the admiral.

“Certainly, certainly! I beg your pardon, madame, but the thunder and
the lightning and the wind do so confuse my poor head. Oh!” she
exclaimed, as another burst of the tempest shook the house.

When the deafening noise subsided, the old lady turned, and said:

“Come here, Broadsides, and show this lady and her maid to the suite of
rooms on the second floor front, right side. And when you have made her
comfortable, show her into the drawing-room to the tea-table—the Lord
have mercy upon us!”

This latter exclamation was called forth by a terrible glare of
lightning that filled the whole house like a conflagration, accompanied
by a rolling, crashing, stunning peal of thunder, and a rushing shock of
wind that seemed about to batter down the walls over their heads. It was
some minutes before this furious blast subsided.

And then Mrs. Broadsides, who had been waiting behind her old mistress,
came forward, courtesied, and led the way up the grand staircase to the
splendid suite of apartments that had been fitted up for the reception
of the illustrious Italian.

Jessup at the same moment advanced from some obscure retreat where he
had been lurking, took possession of his master, and marshaled him off
to his chamber to change his wet riding-coat for a dry-evening-dress.

And the two old ladies retreated to the drawing-room to await the return
of the admiral and his guest.

When they were seated side by side in their comfortable arm-chairs on
the right of the fire-place:

“What do you think of her, Abby, my dear?” said the antique lady to the
ancient one.

“I think she is a very charming woman, and I pity her misfortunes.”

“And so do I. But see here, Abby, my dear, you must really look after
that boy of yours, or he will be making love to this Italian lady.”

“Yes, mother; I see that.”

“And you know, Abby, that you would not like the lad to marry a

“No, mother.”

“So, though we must be as kind as possible to this unfortunate princess,
whose story reminds me of all the fairy tales I ever read in my life,
_still_ we must keep an eye on that boy, and see that he does not make a
fool of himself, Abby.”

“Certainly, mother—Lord bless our souls!” she broke off, as their
conversation was again interrupted by another rapid onslaught of the
tempest that cannonaded the walls as if it did not mean to leave one
stone upon another.

The two old ladies sat crushed in a silence of deep awe for nearly an
hour, until the furious storm had raged itself into a temporary rest.
Then Mrs. Stilton spoke:

“I do not know how anybody can have the spirits to drink tea on such a
night as this, but I suppose it will be wanted all the same; for Iry
never turns aside from his way for any storm that ever falls, and as for
the princess, she looks like just such another. So, Abby, child, you may
ring for the tea.”

Mrs. Brunton, who sat nearest the chimney-corner bell-pull, complied,
and the tea-service was brought in and arranged upon the table.

And soon after they were joined by the admiral, who, “despite the storm
that howled along the sky,” had made a very careful evening toilet, and
by his nephew, Midshipman Valerius Brightwell, a fine, tall, dark-haired
young man, who, when not on active service, was at home at the

These had scarcely taken their seats when the door opened, and the
Princess Pezzilini entered, her golden hair and fair face radiant in
contrast to the rich black velvet dress that was her usual costume.

Way was immediately made for her, the young midshipman was presented in
due form, and the whole party sat down to tea.

The storm had spent its fury, and now only revived at intervals in
inoffensive blasts of wind, faint flashes of lightning, and low
mutterings of thunder.

And the conversation at the tea-table became animated, even upon a
gloomy subject.

They talked of the tragedy at Allworth Abbey, and of the flight of

Opinion was divided upon the subject of the accused girl’s guilt or

The two old ladies and the admiral agreed in pronouncing the evidence
against her to be too convincing to admit a doubt upon the subject.

The young midshipman, who had seen Miss Leaton several times at church,
and judging as a young man will by the face, declared his absolute faith
in her innocence, in despite of all the testimony that might be brought
against her.

The Princess Pezzilini held a neutral position between the
controversialists, affirming that the whole affair seemed to her a
horrible mystery, to which she could find no clue.

We will leave the drawing-room circle canvassing this question, and look
into the housekeeper’s room upon another party, with whom we have a
little business.

                             CHAPTER XIII.
                             AN APPARITION.

           Through the lighted window prying,
           Softly on the bright pane sighing,
           Then in sudden panic flying,
               Through the untrodden gloom,
           To the dark oak-tree she cometh,
           Round its trunk she wildly roameth,
           Shuddering as the dark stream foameth,
               There she waits her coming doom.—_E. P. Lee._

It was a medium-sized, comfortable apartment, well carpeted, and
well-curtained, with its back windows looking out upon the shrubberies
in the rear of the mansion.

A well-spread supper-table stood in the middle of the floor, and around
it were gathered Mrs. Broadsides, Mr. Jessup, Miss Tabs, and Mr.
Antonio, who were the housekeeper’s guests for the evening. Their
conversation, like that of their superiors, had turned upon the late
tragic events at Allworth.

Here, also, opinion was divided upon the subject of the supposed
criminal—Mrs. Broadsides, Jessup, and Mr. Antonio loudly declaring their
belief in the guilt of Eudora, and Miss Tabs stoutly asserting her faith
in her innocence.

But through the whole of this conversation, it was observed that at
intervals Mrs. Broadsides, who sat at the head of the table opposite the
window, would often start, stare and bless herself, while Jessup, who
sat at the foot, would twist his head over his shoulder as though he saw
a spectre behind him.

Politeness deterred Miss Tabs and Mr. Antonio from taking any notice of
these strange manifestations.

At length Jessup, after giving his own neck a most dangerous wring, and
getting no satisfaction for his pains, spoke out, saying:

“Mrs. Broadsides, I would be obliged to you, ma’am, if you would tell me
what it is that you see out of that window, for shiver my timbers if I
can see anything but black darkness.”

“Jessup, don’t ask me! that’s a good soul! it’s nothing earthly as I
see,” answered the woman, in a hushed tone of awe.

“What is it, then? I insist upon knowing.”

“Don’t, Jessup! it’s nothing earthly, I tell you, and I don’t like to
speak of it. Lord bless my soul, there it is again!” exclaimed the
woman, in a suppressed tone of horror.

“What? where? I see nothing!” said Mr. Jessup, wringing around his neck
until his face was nearly between his shoulders.

“It’s vanished” whispered the housekeeper, without withdrawing her gaze
from the window, while Mr. Antonio and Miss Tabs stared in amazement,
and Mr. Jessup regarded her with incredulous indignation, saying at

“Can’t you tell me what you saw, then, if you saw anything but of your
own imagination?”

“’Twas no imagination of mine, Jerry Jessup; if you must and will know
what I have seen, I’ll tell. Since I have been sitting here at this
table, I have seen a pale, ghostly female figure flit past that window
three times!”

Every one glanced shudderingly at the window except Jessup, who
contemptuously exclaimed:

“It was only your own fancy, Mrs. Broadsides!”

The housekeeper shook her head ominously.

“It’s all along o’ leaving the shutters open. It’s awful ghostly to have
the night peeping in at you through the glass. I always imagine that I
see something at such time.”

“Why don’t you close the shutters?” suggested Miss Tabs.

“Because of a whim of master’s to keep all the windows open till
bed-time, most especially on stormy nights, when they may serve for
beacons to guide the belated traveler to the shelter of this roof. Lord
bless the admiral and mend his ways, so kind to all the world, so cruel
to his own dear darter,” sighed Mrs. Broadsides.

“His daughter?” echoed Mr. Antonio.

“Yes, his darter, my young missus, as run off with a young lieutenant in
a marching regiment, and married him all for love. She went ’long of him
everywhere, and may have died of fever in the Crimea, or been massacred
in India, for aught we’ve heard of her since her marriage; for it’s as
much as any one’s life’s worth to mention her name in master’s

“And is he so hard all these years that he won’t make friends with her?”

“Make friends with her? You don’t know him. He won’t even hear her
name,” put in Jerry Jessup.

“Wish I was his wally-de-sham. I’d ding it into his ears morning, noon
and night. I’d bring it up with his hot water and lay it down with his
slippers, and put it on with his night-cap every day of his life,” said
Miss Tabs, valiantly.

“No you wouldn’t, for the very first time you tried it, you’d get
pitched out of the window or down the stairs, and have your neck broken.
Heaven save me, there it is again!” cried the woman, breaking off in

All looked towards the window. Jessup wrung his neck around nearly to
the point of dislocation, exclaiming:

“Where now? I tell you there’s nothing there. It’s all your own nerves.
Mrs. Broadsides, ma’am, you want a dose of assafiddity.”

“It’s gone again!” whispered the woman.

“It never was!” snapped Mr. Jessup, impatiently.

“Yes it was. And I know _what_ it was. It was a Banshee come to warn me
of my own death, or my master’s, or my old missusses.”

“Stuff and nonsense.”

“It isn’t stuff, and it isn’t nonsense. It is a Banshee, if ever one
appeared to mortal eyes!”

“Yes, _if_ ever one appeared,” sneered Mr. Jessup.

“But I have heard of the Banshee, myself,” said Miss Tabs, coming to the
assistance of the housekeeper.

“To be sure you have, my dear. Who in this country-side has not heard of
the Banshee that appeared to the Honorable Mrs. Elverton, of Edenlawn?
How Mr. Elverton was on the Continent, where he had been a many months,
and Mrs. Elverton was at Edenlawn, sitting up late at night, reading in
her dressing-room. The night was fine, and the curtains were undrawn,
when all of a sudden she heard a low, moaning, unearthly voice outside
of the window, and looking up, she saw a female figure, in flowing white
raiment float past the window as if it were swimming in the air, and
heard it wail forth the words—‘_Hollis Elverton is no more!_’ as it
disappeared. Well, the lady got up and made a note of the day and the
hour; and sure enough a fortnight after that, she heard of the death of
her husband at St. Petersburg, and he died the very day and hour at
which she had seen the Banshee! There! what do you make of _that_?”
inquired the housekeeper, triumphantly.

“Why, as the Honorable Mrs. Elverton was just as hysterical as you be,”
said Mr. Jessup, doggedly.

“But then her husband actually died at St. Petersburg at the very day
and hour that the Banshee appeared to her at Edenlawn. How do you
account for that?”

“Just happened so, that’s all.”

“You’re as unbelieving as Thomas—Oh, Lord have mercy upon us! Look
there; there it is again! and no Banshee neither, but the spirit of my
young mistress, with her very face and form, only looking as if she had
risen from the grave. Look, look, oh!” cried the woman, covering her
face with her hands, and shaking with terror.

Again all looked fearfully towards the window.

Jessup wrung his neck nearly in two in the effort to look behind his
back; and upon this occasion perseverance was rewarded. Pressed against
the outside of the window, they all saw a fair, wan young face, that
sank out of sight the instant it was detected.

“That’s neither a Banshee nor a spirit; it’s a mortal girl!” exclaimed
Jessup, springing up, overturning his chair, and rushing out of the

The remainder of the party held their breaths in suspense until Jessup
pushed open the door and reappeared, dragging after him the pale, weary,
half-starved, dripping wet figure of a young girl, whom he pulled up
before the astonished housekeeper, saying, mockingly:

“There—there’s your Banshee! A girl as has been caught out in the storm,
and was frightened at ringing the door-bell at such a great house as

“The very form, the very face! I never, no, I never _did_ see such a
likeness; the express image of my young missus, only thinner, and paler,
and smaller. Come to the fire, my lass. What is your name, and how came
you out in the storm? You are not one of the village girls?” inquired
the housekeeper, drawing the chilled stranger to the bright little coal
fire that the dampness of the evening made very comfortable even at this

Then seeing in the glare of the light that the girl was wet to the skin,
she exclaimed:

“Oh, deary me; you haven’t a dry thread on you! You must have been out
in the whole storm; come into my chamber and get a suit of dry clothes
on your back, and then you shall have some hot supper before you answer
any of my questions.”

And taking the young stranger by the hand, the good housekeeper
conducted her into an adjoining room.

They were gone about fifteen minutes, at the end of which Mrs.
Broadsides returned, leading her _protégée_, who was now comfortably
clad in a black silk dress, that looked as if it had been made for her.

“Dear me, how well that fits,” said Miss Tabs.

“Yes, it was my young missus’s. She left most of her clothes here, poor
child, when she went away, and I have taken care of them ever since. And
now, if you want to know what my darling looked like, just look at this
young gal; for there never was two peas so much alike as Miss Anna
Eleanora, and this young gal, only that this one looks like the ghost of
the other. And now, my child, sit down at the corner of the table here
by the fire, and have some of this curried chicken, while we make you a
glass of warm port-wine negus; and no one shall trouble you with any
questions until you have done supper,” said the good housekeeper,
settling her _protégée_ in the most comfortable seat.

Another fifteen minutes sufficed to satisfy the appetite of the
stranger, who was thereupon required to gratify the curiosity of her

“And now, my lass, tell us all about yourself. You are not of this
country-side, I suppose?” said Mrs. Broadsides, when they had gathered
around the fire.

“No, ma’am, I came from London this morning by rail as far as the
station, and then set off to walk.”

“But where were you going my child, when you were caught in the storm?”

“To Allworth Abbey, ma’am.”

“To ALLWORTH ABBEY!” exclaimed Mrs. Broadsides and Miss Tabs in a

“Yes,” said the girl, looking up in surprise at the manner in which they
had received her communication.

But this was no time to explain by introducing the tragedy of Allworth
Abbey. The curious women were for once more eager to hear than tell
news, and so Mrs. Broadsides inquired:

“And whatever could have taken you to Allworth Abbey of all the places
in the world, my poor dear?”

“Well, I don’t mind telling you as you are so good to me. I am an
orphan; my mother died when I was an infant, and my poor father died a
few days ago in his lodgings in London, leaving me quite destitute. So
the parish officers talked of sending me to the union, or binding me
apprentice to a mistress. I couldn’t bear the thoughts of either, so I
ran away, travelling by rail as long as my money lasted, and then
setting out to walk.”

“But why to Allworth Abbey?”

“Because my poor mother had a foster-sister living at service there,
who, I thought, might be kind to me.”

“What—what was her name?” inquired Miss Tabs.

“Tabitha Tabs. I remember it well.”

“Why, that was _my_ name; but my mother never had but one-nurse child,
and that was Miss Anna Eleanor Brunton. Oh, my goodness, Mrs.
Broadsides, can—can—can it be as this is her darter!” exclaimed Miss
Tabs, breathlessly.

“What is your name, young girl?” exclaimed the housekeeper, in an
agitated voice, grasping the arm and gazing eagerly into the face of the

“Annella Wilder—Oh-h! don’t squeeze my arm so tightly; you’ll break the
bone!” said the girl, shrinking from such a very pressing proof of

“Annella Wilder! Annella was the pet name we used to call my darling by,
being the short for Anna Eleanora; and Wilder was the name of the young
fellow as bolted with her. And you as like her as one pea-pod is to
another, and as sure as fate you are my poor darling’s child. You are!
you are! Oh, dear! Oh, dear! oh!” cried the housekeeper, catching the
girl to her bosom, and sobbing and weeping over her.

“And so my darling is dead! Died when you were an infant you say! And
her young husband, your father, did he ever forget her who gave up so
much for his sake? Did he ever put another woman in her place?” cried
the affectionate creature, still holding the girl to her bosom.

“Never; he devoted himself to her memory—he mourned her as long as he

“Then how was it, my child, that you were left so destitute?”

“Oh, my father, was unfortunate—he was obliged to sell out—and—he became
more and more unfortunate until he died—in destitution—and—do not ask me
any more,” said Annella, hesitatingly and bursting into tears.

“I understand; I understand; that word ‘unfortunate’ means a great deal,
whether it is applied to man or woman. But there! don’t cry any more, my
dear. Better fortune is in store for you, I hope; for surely the admiral
will never visit the offences of the parents upon the child. There,
don’t cry any more, you are all right now, you are here,” said the
woman, wiping the tears from Annella’s eyes and re-seating her in her

“But tell me who you are who take so kind an interest in my mother and
myself, and what place this is where I feel so much at home?” said

“Who am I, and what place is this? Why, my dear, is it possible that you
do not know where you are?”

“No more than the dead.”

“Did ever any one hear the like! And how did it happen that you came
here, then?”

“As I told you before, I was trying to find Allworth Abbey, when I was
overtaken by the night and the storm, and while I was wandering about
like a lost child, I saw the lights of this house shine from afar and
they guided me to it.”

“Well, Lord bless the admiral’s lights, for they have done some good at
last in guiding his own grand-daughter home!” said Mrs. Broadsides,

“Ma’am?” exclaimed Annella, opening her grey eyes in astonishment.

“Now, is it creditable that you don’t yet know as you’re at the
Anchorage, the seat of your grandfather, Admiral Sir Ira Brunton?”

“And is it possible that I am in the house of my grandfather—my stern
and terrible grandfather, who hated and discarded my father and my
mother?” exclaimed Annella, in dismay.

“Yes, my dear, but he will not hate them any longer; he must not hate
the dead, you know; and he _must_ love the living; and he shall
acknowledge you as his grand-daughter and sole heiress, and take you to
his heart, or else turn me out of his house,” said the woman, stoutly.

“And me, too; which I don’t think he be likely to do for a trifling
difference of opinion,” said Mr. Jessup.

“And me!” said Miss Tabs, valiantly.

And so likewise said Mr. Antonio.

Annella remained in one maze of astonishment.

A question now arose as to whether it would be better to let the admiral
know at once of the arrival of his grand-daughter, or to defer the
announcement until the morning.

Mrs. Broadsides, who, with all her assumed heroism, was really very
timid, felt inclined to postpone the threatening hour as long as

Miss Tabs agreed with her, especially as the admiral was now engaged
with company.

But Mr. Jessup said the matter ought to be referred to Miss Annella
herself, and he was supported in his opinion by Mr. Antonio. And the
matter was referred accordingly.

“Since I am in my grandfather’s house, of all others in the world, I am
not going to stay one hour without his knowledge and consent,” said

“And the girl is right,” said Mr. Jessup, emphatically.

“Then I hope you’ll go and denounce her yourself, Jerry Jessup, as
you’re so bold about it,” exclaimed Mrs. Broadsides.

“And that I’ll do this minute, too,” said Jerry, rising.

“And mind, however master may receive the news, it may be as well to let
him know that out of this house she doesn’t go this night without my
going too!”

“Hush, hush, woman; don’t cry out till you’re hit. Wait till I come
back,” said Jerry, leaving the room.

The admiral was still in the drawing-room with his grandmother, his
mother, the Princess Pezzilini, and the young midshipman. The whole
party had finished tea, and were gathered near the fire, still engaged
in discussing the tragedy at Allworth Abbey, when the door opened, and
Mr. Jessup made his appearance.

“Well, Jerry?” inquired the admiral, looking up.

Mr. Jessup gave the naval salute to his superior officer, and answered:

“If you please, your honor, I spied a small craft to windward, making
signals of distress.”


“I put out after her, your honor, and found her beating about in the
storm, though well nigh water-logged and ready to go down.”

“And what then?”

“I overhauled her, your honor, took possession, and towed her into

“And what now?”

“Please, your honor, I have come to report and take orders about her.”

“What sort of a craft is she?”

“Please, your honor, a small craft, tight-built, trim-rigged, fast
sailing in favorable weather, I should think, though now rather the
worse for the wear and tear of winds and waves.”

“Well, haul her up along side, and let’s have a look at her,” commanded
the admiral.

“Ay, ay, sir!” said Jerry, hastening to obey.

“Whatever does he mean? I never can understand that man, any more than
if he spoke in Hebrew,” said Mrs. Brunton.

“Hang the fellow! he always mistakes the drawing-room for the
quarter-deck,” said the admiral, laughing. “He means that a young person
has been caught out by the storm, and driven in here for shelter.”

“But you will never bring a stranger into this room, Iry?”

“Certainly, if Madame Pezzilini has no objection.”

“Oh, certainly not,” replied the princess, with a suave courtesy.

“Then we will see what she is like, and perhaps turn her over to the
care of Mrs. Broadsides,” concluded the veteran.

At this moment the door opened, and Jerry hove into sight, towing in his
prize, which he announced as—

“The Annella Wilder, London, your honor.”

The admiral did not hear the name distinctly, but fixed his eyes upon
the young girl, who was steadily advancing towards him. And as she drew
nearer, his eyes dilated in astonishment, until, when she stood before
him, he gazed upon her in a panic of consternation, for it seemed to him
that his long-lost daughter was in his presence.

For a minute that seemed an age, the old man and little maiden regarded
each other in silence, while all the other members of the party looked
on in surprise, and then the admiral broke forth:

“Anna; my Lord, is it possible? I heard that you were dead long ago,
child—you and your infant daughter together. Where do you come from? You
look, indeed, as if it were from the grave! Why do you come here now? Is
it to reproach me?”

“Grandfather,” said the young girl, sadly but fearlessly; “the Anna whom
you invoke is not here to offend you with her presence. She could not
come if she would, she would not, perhaps, if she could; fifteen years
ago she went with her broken heart to heaven. And I, her daughter,
standing here before you, came here not willingly or wittingly. The
storm without drove me, the lights within drew me here, not knowing
where I came. And now I am ready to depart, not caring where I go.”

During this short interview, the two old ladies had risen from their
seats, and drawn near with looks of deep interest. The elder spoke:

“Oh, Iry, she is poor Anna’s child! You will never let her go! She is my
great-great-grandchild; only think of that, Iry! She _shall_ not go, or,
if she does, I’ll go forth, with my century of years, and beg with her!”

“Peace, peace, grandmother, be easy,” replied the admiral.

Then turning again to Annella, he said, sternly:

“Your father?”

“Is in his grave,” answered the girl.

“Thank heaven for that!” were the words that rose to the lips of the
veteran; but a glance at the face of his grand-daughter repressed their

“When did he die?” he asked.

“On Thursday last,” she answered.

“Why did he not write to me in all these years?”

“Grandfather, if he had been happy and prosperous, he would have
written; but he was the reverse of all this, and he would not write.”

“But _my_ blood ran in _his_ child’s veins! and if he was unhappy and
unsuccessful, he should have written to me! I am not flint!”

“Grandfather, he was unhappy only in the loss of her whom your
unkindness hurried to the grave. And any help from your relenting hand,
that came too late for her relief, came much too late for his
acceptance! Grandfather, he loved your daughter too truly to enjoy a
benefit that she could not share.”

The admiral groaned in the spirit, but did not reply. After a few
minutes of silence, during which all the other members of the circle
looked on in painful suspense, he inquired:

“How came you out wandering alone in this remote country, so far from
the scene of your father’s death? Had he no friends to look after his
orphan child?”

“Grandfather, it is a very long story; but I will tell you if you would
like to hear it.”

“Yes, but sit down; sit down there in the little chair beside Madame
Pezzilini. And now go on,” said the admiral, throwing himself into his
own elbow-chair.

Annella commenced, and gave a short history of her life in the camp with
her father; dwelling on his services in the Crimean war and the Indian
insurrection, glancing slightly at the circumstances that drove him to
sell his commission, and suppressing altogether the fact of that fatal
habit that caused his ruin.

But notwithstanding the delicacy with which she treated her father’s
memory, the experienced veteran understood it all.

Annella suppressed also the incident of the pauper funeral; but dwelt
fondly upon the benevolence of her landlady, and especially on that of
the beautiful, foreign-looking lodger, who had arrived in London only
the day before, and who seemed to have so deep a sorrow of her own.

Something in the manner of the girl in describing her lovely
benefactress attracted the particular attention of the Princess
Pezzilini, who began with much interest to question the young girl.

“When did you say this young lady reached London?”

“On the morning of Wednesday.”

“How was she dressed?”

“In deep mourning.”

“Will you describe her personal appearance?”

“Oh, yes; she was so beautiful it would be a real pleasure to do so. She
was rather small and slender, but not thin. She had a clear, olive
complexion, with full, pouting, crimson lips, and large soft, dark eyes,
shaded with long black eyelashes, and arched with slender, jet black
eyebrows, and her hair was black as jet, and curled in long spiral
ringlets all around her head.”

“Had she a little black mole over her right eye?”

“Yes; and another at the left corner of her mouth; they were both very

“It is Eudora Leaton!” said the princess, addressing the admiral.

“There is no doubt of it, and I shall give information to the police
to-morrow,” replied the latter.

“Sir?” inquired Annella, looking uneasily, she scarcely knew why,
towards her grandfather.

“Nothing, my dear, only we think the young lady you mention is an
acquaintance of ours. And now, my dear, your looks betray so much
weariness, that I must order you off to bed. Grandmother, will you touch
the bell?”

Mrs. Stilton complied; and Mr. Jessup made his appearance.

“Send Broadsides here, Jerry,” said Mrs. Brunton.

The housekeeper obeyed the summons.

“Broadsides, show Miss Wilder into the suite of rooms formerly occupied
by her mother; and look out to-morrow for a discreet person to attend
her as lady’s-maid,” said Mrs. Brunton.

The housekeeper courtesied in assent, and led off Annella, saying, as
she preceded her up-stairs:

“I told you, my dear, that when you found yourself here you were all
right, and you see now that I spoke the truth, for you _are all right_!”

                              CHAPTER XIV.
                         THE FUGITIVE RETAKEN.

                 Shuddering, she strove to speak
             Once more in nature’s strong, appealing tones,
             To supplicate—then came a shriek
                 That died in heavy moans.—_L. V. French._

Meanwhile Eudora remained in strict seclusion at her obscure lodgings in
the Borough. Her voluntary close confinement within her own apartments
excited no suspicion in the guileless heart of her landlady, who
ascribed it to the recent bereavement and extreme sorrow which her deep
mourning and pallid countenance seemed truly to indicate.

Mrs. Corder had formed her own opinion concerning her beautiful lodger.
No one had deceived the good woman, but she had quite naturally deceived
herself; and so thoroughly was she persuaded of the truth of her own
theory, that, when any chance visitor dropped in at evening to gossip,
she informed her that the new lodger was the orphan daughter of a
country clergyman, and had come to town to seek employment as a daily
governess. And if any one had asked Mrs. Corder how she obtained her
information, she would have said—and thought—that Miss Miller had told

Meanwhile Eudora passed her days in a heavy, deadly suspense and terror,
and her nights in broken sleep and fearful dreams, from which she would
start in nervous spasms. Every day her health visibly declined under
this tremendous oppression.

The landlady ascribing her illness to inordinate grief for the death of
her parents, sought every means to soothe and entertain her.

On the morning of the fifth day of her residence beneath the roof, the
landlady brought her a letter, saying:

“Here now! I suppose this is to bring you some good news; an offer of a
situation perhaps in some nobleman’s family, who knows?” And the good
woman stuck her arms akimbo and stood at rest, evidently anxious to be a
participator in the “good news.”

Eudora suspected the disguised handwriting to be that of Malcolm
Montrose, and with trembling fingers opened the letter. It was without
date or signature, and very brief, merely saying:

  “MY DEAREST ONE—All is well as yet—the hounds are off the scent. Do
  not answer this letter; it might not be safe to do so. Keep close, and
  wait for another communication.”

Eudora put the letter in her bosom, and waited for an opportunity to
destroy it.

“Then it isn’t good news,” said the sympathetic landlady, closely
inspecting Eudora’s troubled face.

“It does not offer me a situation,” replied Eudora, evasively, and
blushing deeply at the prevarication.

“Well, never mind, dear; you’ll have better fortune to-morrow, perhaps.
And now I am not a-going to let you mope. You must go out and take a

Eudora thanked the landlady, but declined the proposition, and gently
expressed her wish to be alone, whereupon the kind creature sighed and

As soon as she found herself free from the watchfulness of her kind
hostess, Eudora struck a match, burned her letter on the hearth, then
threw herself into a chair, covered her face with her hands, and sank
back in the stillness of a dumb despair.

While she sat thus the landlady suddenly broke in upon her in a state of
great excitement, exclaiming:

“Oh, my dear Miss Miller, you _must_ excuse me; but I couldn’t help
coming to tell you, for I knew you would like to hear it—”

“What is it, Mrs. Corder?” Eudora languidly inquired.

“Why, that vile, wicked, infamous creature—that toad, that viper, that
rattlesnake as poisoned all her good uncle’s family—have broke loose
from the perlice and run away.”

“Indeed,” was the only answer that Eudora could utter forth. Her throat
was choking, her heart was stopping, her blood freezing with terror.

“Yes! but oh! they’ll catch her again, the tiger-cat! for there’s a
reward of a hundred pounds offered for her arrest, and a full
description of her person that nobody _can’t_ mistake! Here, my dear,
read it for yourself,” said Mrs. Corder, handing the newspaper to

The poor girl took it in desperate anxiety to read the advertisement,
and ascertain how far the description might suit all medium-sized young
brunettes, and how nearly it might agree with her own peculiar

She essayed to read, but as she held the paper, her hands trembled, her
eyes filmed over, and her voice failed.

With an appealing look she held the paper towards Mrs. Corder, who took
it, saying:

“Well, my dear, you _are_ the nervousest I ever saw, and no wonder. But
for all that you would like to hear it. Shall I read it for you?”

“Yes,” was the only answer that Eudora could breathe.

The landlady seated herself, and with an air of innocent importance
opened the paper, and holding it squarely before her large person, read
as follows:

  “ONE HUNDRED POUNDS REWARD.—Absconded from Allworth Abbey, near
  Abbeytown, in the County of Northumberland, on the night of Tuesday
  last, Eudora Milnes Leaton, charged with having poisoned the family of
  Leaton, Allworth. The fugitive is of medium height, slender,
  well-rounded, graceful form, and regular features, dark complexion,
  with black hair and black eyes. She wore, when she left, a full suit
  of deep mourning. The above reward will be given to any person who may
  apprehend and deliver up the said Eudora Milnes Leaton to justice.”

Eudora felt that this description might suit any medium-sized young
brunette in mourning as well as herself, and therefore breathed more
freely, especially as she perceived that the unconscious landlady never
once suspected the identity of her lodger with the advertised fugitive.

“There’s for you, my dear; now, what do you think of that? They’ll be
sure to catch her again with _that_ reward offered and _that_
description given! She had better go and hide herself under the earth,
for if she shows herself above ground, she is sure to be caught! Anybody
would know her from that description the minute they clapped their eyes
on her! I should, I’m sure, for I think I see her now, with her sharp,
wicked black eyes, and sly leer and vicious looks!” said the landlady,
gazing straight into the face of Eudora without the slightest suspicion
of her identity with the fugitive; for good Mrs. Corder had an ideal
portrait of the supposed criminal in her mind’s eye that formed a
complete blind to her discovery of Eudora.

“I hope the prisoner will be found and the truth brought to light,” said
Miss Leaton, fervently.

“And I hope so, too; and now, my dear, I will leave the paper for your
amusement while I go down and see what Sally is about,” said the
landlady, leaving the room.

Eudora, as soon as she found herself alone, picked up the paper, and
once more read the imperfect description of her own person.

“How fortunate for me that they did not think of the two little moles on
my face! Even my innocent landlady must have detected me by them had
they been mentioned,” thought Eudora to herself. Yet still her heart was
filled with dismay, and she felt an oppression of the lungs and a
difficulty of breathing, that induced her to rise and open the door for
a freer circulation of air.

As she did this, her attention was arrested by a knock at the private
door down stairs.

As she was in that condition of peril when every sound struck terror to
her heart, she paused and listened.

She heard the landlady go to the door and open it, saying, in a tone of
surprise and displeasure:

“Well, whatever can be your business here with me or my house or

“We come with a warrant for the arrest of Miss Eudora Leaton, charged
with having poisoned her uncle’s family, and supposed to be now lying
concealed in your house,” replied a voice that Eudora, in an agony of
terror, recognized as that of Sims, the detective policeman, who had had
her in custody at Allworth Abbey. Though nearly dying, she leaned far
over the railings to hear farther.

“Eudora Leaton in my house, indeed! You must have taken leave of your
senses, man! I’ll sue you for slander! Pray, is my house a harbor for
poisoners?” exclaimed the landlady, indignantly, placing her arms
akimbo, and filling up the door with her burly person.

“Of course not, mum; nobody says that it is, or means that it shall be,
and nobody accuses you of wilfully concealing the fugitive—”

“They’d better not!” interposed the landlady.

“Well, they _don’t_ but you have a young lady lodging here who arrived
last Wednesday morning—a dark young lady, dressed in black?”

“Yes, but there are hundreds upon hundreds of dark young ladies dressed
in black in London, and they aint all poisoners—God forbid! And this one
with me aint Eudora Leaton, nor no such demon; on the contrary, she is
Miss Miller, and an angel, that’s what she is!”

“But for all that, mum, you must let us see this Miss Miller; you can
have no objection to that?”

“Yes, but I _has_ an objection; I has a very particular objection to any
party of perlice intruding into a modest young lady’s private apartments
in _my_ house. And so you had better go about your business,” said the
landlady, still stopping the way with her large form.

“We are sorry to trouble you, Mrs. Corder, but it is absolutely
necessary for us to see this lodger,” insisted the detective.

“But as my lodger happens to be a dark young lady in black, you may take
her up by mistake, and that would kill the poor young creature.”

“No danger, Mrs. Corder; we are both well acquainted with the personal
appearance of Miss Eudora Leaton, having held her in custody for a whole
day and night before her escape. It is only necessary for us to see this
lodger for one moment, in order to know whether she is Eudora Leaton or
not. If she is, we must take her at once; if she is not, you will be
instantly relieved of our presence. And now I hope you will not longer
hinder us from the discharge of our duty.”

“Oh, certainly not—certainly not! Search! search by all manner of means,
if you can’t take an honest woman’s word for it!” said the landlady,
sarcastically. “Only for decency’s sake, you must let me go before you,
and tell Miss Miller before you burst in upon her privacy.”

“Very well, mum; but we must follow close behind you to prevent
accidents. Lead the way, then,” replied Sims.

Eudora heard this conclusion, and turned with the wild instinct of
flying or hiding, she knew not how or where.

The landlady led the way up-stairs, and rapped at Eudora’s door. There
was no answer. Then the policeman quickly pushed himself in front of the
landlady, and suddenly opened the door.

Eudora stood in the middle of the floor, with her hands clasped and
extended in mute appeal, her face blanched with terror, and her eyes
strained in anguish upon the intruders.

“It is herself,” said Sims, advancing into the room.

“I knew it before I saw her,” added his companion, following him.

“It’s not! you’re both on you clean mad to say so, only because she
happens to have dark hair and eyes like that Eudora devil! I suppose
you’d even be after taking up my Sally on suspicion, only she happens to
be fair complected,” exclaimed the landlady, vehemently.

“The young lady herself cannot deny her own identity. Are you not Miss
Leaton?” inquired Detective Sims, addressing the panic-stricken girl.

“No!” screamed the landlady, before her lodger could reply; “no, I tell
you she is Miss Miller!”

“I spoke to you, miss; is not your name Eudora Leaton?” inquired Sims,

“It is; I am, indeed, poor Eudora Leaton!” said the miserable girl, in a
dying voice, dropping her head upon her bosom, and letting her clasped
hands fall asunder helplessly by her side.

“Then please to hold out your wrists, miss,” said the officer, drawing
from his pocket a pair of light steel handcuffs connected by a short,
bright steel chain.

Eudora mechanically obeyed, without the highest suspicion of what was
about to be done.

“Sorry to have to clasp these ornaments on your wrists, miss; but when a
prisoner displays such a wonderful talent for escape as you have, why,
we must take proper precautions. Hold your hands up a little higher, if
you please, miss—there!” said Sims, snapping the handcuffs upon her
delicate wrists; “there, now, I dare say, as your waiting-maid never
clasped your gold bracelets when you were going to a party quicker than
I have these. And these, though they are of steel, are as light and as
bright as possible, and steel is very fashionable now; and as for the
chain that connects them, it is for all the world like the handle of an
elegant reticule. You see I selected the pattern of the ornament with a
view to the delicacy of the wearer,” concluded the man, carefully
adjusting the fetters.

“And now, mum,” he added, turning to the landlady, “will you get Miss
Leaton’s bonnet and shawl, and so forth, and put them on her, while my
comrade goes out and calls a cab?”

The landlady, since the confession of Eudora, had been standing the very
image of dumb consternation.

The request of the policeman broke the spell of silence that bound her,
and she burst into a passion of tears, sobbing and exclaiming:

“Well, who’d a thought it? I wouldn’t—no! I wouldn’t a believed it if an
angel from heaven had come down and told me! and I can scarce believe it
even now when I look into her innocent face! Oh, my dear! say it was all
a mistake! say as how you are _not_ Eudora Leaton, and _not_ a poisoner,
or you’ll break the mother’s heart in my bosom!” she cried, extending
her arms with yearning tenderness towards the miserable girl.

“Oh, Mrs. Corder! I am indeed Eudora Leaton, but no poisoner; as the
Lord in heaven sees and hears me, no poisoner! Your pure and honest
heart must read and understand me rightly! Oh, come, look into my eyes,
deep down into my soul, and see if it is stained with such an atrocious
crime!” said Eudora, clasping her fettered hands, and raising her
beautiful eyes to the face of the landlady.

“No, indeed!” exclaimed the latter; “since you are Eudora Leaton, you
are wrongfully accused! I’d stake my life upon it, you are wrongfully
accused! I believe you to be as innocent of that deed as my own Sally,
that I do!”

“Oh, thank you! thank you for that! for you believe only what God knows
to be true! I am innocent!” wept Eudora.

“I know you be, my poor child! Oh, Mr. Perlice, look at her! just look
at her sweet face and soft eyes, and tell me if it is possible for _her_
to be guilty of what she is accused with?” said the landlady, taking the
detective by his arm, and turning him towards the prisoner.

“The testimony, mum, the testimony!” said that functionary, coolly.

“Oh, the testimony!” The landlady shut her lips to prevent the escape of
a word that would not have become the mouth of an honest woman.

“Fax is fax, mum! And now, as we want to catch the three o’clock train,
I wish you would show your kindness to your lodger by putting her things
on her.”

“I won’t! You shan’t take her away, you cruel man!” cried the landlady,
roaring with grief.

“Do, Mrs. Corder, get my bonnet and shawl; we must not resist the
warrant, you know,” said Eudora, in an expiring voice, as, unable longer
to support her sinking frame, she dropped into the nearest chair.

“But I _will_ resist! It’s cruel! it’s monstrous! it’s infamous to drag
you off in this way!” sobbed the landlady.

“I’ll tell you what, mum, unless you get what the young lady requires,
and help her to prepare for her journey, I shall have to go into her
chamber and be her waiting-maid myself, which might not be so pleasant,
you know, for I expect Rutt here every minute with the cab.”

At this moment, indeed, the other policeman entered to say that the
carriage was at the door.

“Come, come, bestir yourself, my good woman, or shall I go?” said Sims,
hurrying towards the chamber door.

“No,” said Mrs. Corder, losing her temper, forgetting her
respectability, descending into the depths of Billingsgate, and fishing
up its blackest mud of vituperation to fling at the policemen.

She resisted, abused, and threatened them at such a rate that, had they
not been very forbearing, besides having a much more important matter in
hand, they might reasonably have taken her in charge.

When the landlady had fairly screamed herself out of breath, so that she
was obliged to stop and pant, Eudora took advantage of the momentary
silence to lay her manacled hands upon the arm of the angry woman, and
to falter:

“Dear, good friend, all this is well meant, but it does me harm instead
of good. We cannot possibly resist lawful authority; and so, if you
really desire to serve me, do that for me which I should not like a
policeman to do, and which I cannot do for myself.”

“Oh, poor, fatherless, motherless child! Oh, poor, dear little fettered
wrists!” cried the landlady, sobbing and weeping over them.

“Come, mum, come! time’s up!” said Sims.

He was answered by another shower of tears and abuse, as Mrs. Corder
retreated into the bed-room.

She soon reappeared with Eudora’s outer garments, which she carefully
arranged upon the person of their owner, folding the shawl so as to
conceal the degrading fetters.

“And now, where be you a-going to take my poor darling? Not to Newgate,
I hope?”

“Oh, no, mum, we must take her back to Abbeytown, where she will have a
fair trial and full justice, that you may depend upon, so don’t be
alarmed,” said Sims, with more good nature than could have been expected
of him under the circumstances.

When Eudora was ready she sank into the arms of her rough but honest
friend, who embraced her fervently, praying:

“Oh, may the Lord deliver you from all your enemies and all your
troubles, my poor, helpless darling! and may the old Nick himself—”

“Hush, hush!” said Eudora, stopping her words with a kiss; “let me go
with the sound of blessings, not of curses, ringing on my ears!
Good-bye, dear friend! May God reward you for all your kindness to me!”

And Eudora withdrew from her arms.

The landlady sank sobbing into a chair. The young prisoner, half
fainting, was led away between the two policemen.

They took her down-stairs, and placed her in the cab which was
immediately driven towards the King’s-cross Railway Station.

They arrived just in time to catch the desired train. Eudora was hurried
into a coupé, where she sat guarded on the right and left by the two

It was a miserable journey of about six hours. The policemen were
reasonably kind to her, and whenever the train stopped for refreshments,
they offered her food, wine, tea and coffee. But she refused all meat
and drink, and sat in a stupor of exhaustion and despair.

It was after nine o’clock when the train arrived at Abbeytown. It was
quite dark, but the station was well lighted, and the usual mob of
guards, cabmen, and idlers was collected to see the train come in.

There were but few passengers for Abbeytown, so that when the policemen
stepped out of the coupé, leading their prisoner between them—and when
Sims stood by, guarding her, while Rutt went to call a cab—they were
exposed to the observation of the whole crowd, who gathered around,
quickly identified the party, and began to whisper audibly that the
notorious Eudora Leaton, the poisoner of her uncle’s family, was there
in custody of the police, and to elbow, push, and crowd each other in
their anxiety to see her face.

Eudora, nearly fainting with distress, put up her hands to draw her veil
closer about her face, and in so doing exposed her fettered wrists.

“Handcuffed, too, by all that’s blue! What a desperate ’un she must be,
to be sure,” said a rude man, pushing near, and trying to look under her

“Stand back, will you?” shouted Sims, angrily.

“Oh, we mustn’t look at her, mustn’t we? Well, then, I reckon the day’ll
come as we’ll get a full view of her for nothing. Calcraft’s patients
don’t wear weils to hide their blushes.”

Eudora shuddered at this rude speech, when luckily the other officer
came up with the cab, and she was hurried into it, out of the insulting
scrutiny of the mob.

Among those who had gazed with even more interest than curiosity upon
the hapless girl, was a tall, thin, mustachioed foreigner, wrapped in a
large cloak, and having a travelling-cap pulled down low over his
piercing eyes. He had come down alone in a first-class carriage, and now
stood waiting upon the platform.

When the cab had rolled out of sight, and the train had started, and the
bustle of the arrival and departure was over, the stranger turned to an
_employée_ at the station, and said:

“Who is that young girl that arrived in charge of the police?”

“That, sir? why, a most notorious criminal, sir, as has just been taken
in London; by name Miss Leaton, sir; more’s the pity, for it’s a noble
one to end in shame and ruin.”

“Miss Leaton!—not of Allworth Abbey!—not the daughter of Lord Leaton?”
questioned the stranger in the strongest agitation.

“Oh, Lord, no, sir; not the daughter of Lord Leaton, but his niece.
Lord, sir, haven’t you heard about it? I thought the story had gone all
over England.”

“I have but just arrived in the country, and know nothing of the affair,
but I am interested in hearing the particulars, if you will do me the
favor of relating them.”

“Oh, yes, sir, certainly, with great pleasure,” said the man.

And it was indeed with _very_ great pleasure that he commenced and
related to a perfectly fresh hearer the oft-repeated awful tragedy of
Allworth Abbey.

The stranger listened with the deepest interest. At the conclusion of
the narrative, he said:

“The circumstances, indeed, seem to point out this young Eudora Leaton
as the criminal; but from the glimpse I caught of her lovely face, she
is just the last person in the world I should suspect of crime.”

“Oh, sir, we mustn’t judge by appearances. Who looked more innocent nor
William Palmer? He had just the most sweetest and benevolentness face as
ever was seen.”

“I know nothing of the man of whom you speak; but the face of this young
girl is certainly not that of a poisoner. And so I should like you to
name over to me every individual of the drawing-room circle at Allworth
Abbey at the time of Lord Leaton’s sudden death.”

“Yes, sir; that is easily done, for there were very few—Lord and Lady
Leaton; their only child, Miss Leaton; their niece, Miss Eudora; and
their guest, the Princess Pezzilini.”

“Humph! And the domestic establishment, can you call its members over by

“Lord, yes, sir! ever since that dreadful affair every individual member
of that household is well beknown to everybody,” replied the man, who
immediately began and gave a list of all the maid and men servants in or
about Allworth Abbey.

“Humph,” said the stranger again; and then, after a few moments spent in
deep thought, he thanked the narrator for his information, put a
crown-piece in his hand, and requested him to call a cab.

The man touched his hat, hurried away, and soon returned with the cab.

“To the Leaton Arms,” said the stranger, as he entered the cab, and
threw himself heavily back among the cushions.

Meanwhile Eudora Leaton, in charge of the two policemen, was carried
into the town.

It was considered too late to take her before a magistrate, or even
lodge her in the county gaol, which had been closed for hours.

The policemen therefore conveyed her to a rude but strong station, or
lock-up house, where drunkards, brawlers, thieves, and other disturbers
of the night were confined until morning.

Eudora was thrust into a large stone room, with grated windows placed
high up towards the ceiling, and rude oaken benches ranged along the
walls. This apartment was without fire, beds, or separate cells.

It was occupied by about half a dozen abandoned women and various
children, some of whom lay extended along the benches in the stupid
sleep of intoxication, while others walked restlessly about, engaged in
desultory conversation.

As soon as Eudora was brought into the room they ceased their talk to
stare at her, as though she had been a vision from another world.

Truly, she was a strange visitant of such a place as that.

In a moment, however, they seemed to have fixed upon her identity, and
began an eager whispering concerning her supposed crimes and probable

As soon as the policemen had gone, and the strong oaken door was locked
and barred upon her, and she found herself alone among these wretched
outcasts, fear and loathing seized her soul, and she retreated to the
remotest corner of the hall, where she crouched down upon the bench, and
covered her face with her veil.

But Eudora had to learn in her misery that human sympathies still lived
in the seared hearts of those poor women, dead though they seemed to all
higher feelings.

While shrinking in horror from the sight and hearing of these lost
creatures, Eudora heard one whisper to another:

“Go to her, Nance, you’re the youngest of the lot, and maybe she’ll not
be frightened of you. Go to her, there’s a good lass; see, she aint used
to being in a place like this.”

“I dunnot like to go, Poll. She’s a lady, and I dunnot like to.”

“But she is in trouble with the rest of us, Nance, and she’s a stranger
to the place, with no one to speak to. Go to her, there’s a good lass.”

“Well, if you’ll go with me and speak first.”

“Me! look at me, with my torn gown and my black eye; I should scare the
soul out of the likes of her,” said Poll, sighing.

“Bosh! she wouldn’t see ’em; ’sides, if all’s true as is said of _her_,
_she_ aint easy scared. Howsoever, and whatsoever she _has_ done, I am
sorry for her, seeing as she is in about the deepest trouble as any
woman _could_ be in! so let’s both go and comfort her.”

One touch of sympathy as well as nature makes all the world of kin.

Eudora’s heart was touched; but though purity cannot do otherwise than
shrink from the contact of impurity, and though Eudora still shuddered
as these women approached her, yet she put aside her veil and looked
gratefully towards them.

“Come, lass, don’t be downcast; keep up a good heart in your bosom.
There’s many a one locked up here, and comes afore the beak, as is never
sent up to the ’sizes; and many and many tried at the ’sizes as are
never conwicted, and more conwicted as are never exercuted. So you see,
my poor dear, as there are ten chances to one in your favor.”

“And I am not guilty; that also should be in my favor,” said poor
Eudora, glad of any sympathy.

“To be sure you arn’t, my dear! You arn’t guilty, even supposing you
_did_ poison your uncle’s family! We arn’t any on us guilty of anything
in particular, no matter what we do. It’s SOCIETY as is guilty of
everything, as I myself heard well proved by an philanthrophysing gemman
as spoke to the people on Fledgemoor Common,” said the enlightened Poll.

“But I did _not_ poison my uncle’s family. Oh! my God! how can anyone
think I could do such a thing,” said Eudora, shuddering.

“Well, dear, I don’t ask you to confess, which would be unreasonable;
but I _do_ tell you that it makes no difference to me; I pities you all
the same whether you did poison ’em or not. For, maybe, you couldn’t
help it; and maybe they _deserved_ poisoning, ’cause why? some people
are more agrowoking nor rats and mice, as everyone allows it to be
lawful to poison. And maybe they trampled on you being of an orphan
niece. And leastways—it aint _you_, it’s society as is to blame for it
all, as the philanthrophysing gemman said at Fledgemoor Common. So, my
darling, you just keep up your heart. And here, take a drop of comfort
to help you to do so. Here is some rale ‘mountain dew’ as will get up
your spirits just about right. Take a sip,” said Poll, diving into the
depths of a capacious pocket and drawing forth a flask, which she
unstopped and offered to Eudora.

But the fumes of the gin were so repulsive to the latter that she waved
it away, saying:

“I thank you; you are very kind, indeed; but I do not require anything.”

“Well, if you won’t take the gin, you must lie down and rest anyhow; for
you look just about ready to faint away. We’ll make you the best bed as
we can in this miserable place. Here, Nance, lend me your shawl; and
lend me yours, Peg; we must be good to a poor girl as is in a thousand
times deeper trouble nor we are ourselves, ’cause our lives is not in
danger as her’s be,” said Poll, stripping the shawl from her own
shoulders and folding and laying it on the rude bench, and rolling
Nance’s shawl into a pillow and retaining Peg’s for a blanket.

“Now, my darling, take off your bonnet, and loosen your clothes, and
spread your pocket handkerchief over this rum pillow, and try to take
some rest, and you’ll be all the better able to face the beaks

“I thank you; you are very, very good to me; and I know that the best
thing I can do is to lie down as you advise me,” said Eudora, with much
emotion, for she had scarcely hoped to meet such tender sympathy from
such rude natures.

And she took off her bonnet, unhooked the bodice of her dress, and laid
her weary frame down on the little bed that their kindness had prepared
for her.

Poll covered her carefully with Peg’s shawl, and then bidding her
good-night, drew off her companions to the farthest end of the room,
where they conversed in low whispers, for fear of disturbing “the poor
young lady.”

Left to herself, Eudora composed her mind to prayer; and as the prayers
of innocence always bring peace, notwithstanding all the shame, grief
and terror of her position, the poor girl sank into a strange calm, and
thence into a deep sleep.

                              CHAPTER XV.
                               IN PRISON.

             Oh, God! that one might see the book of fate,
             And read the revolution of the times—
             Make mountains level, and the continent,
             Weary of solid firmness, melt itself
             Into the sea! and other times to see
             The beachy girdle of the ocean
             Too wide for Neptune’s hips.—_Shakspeare._

Clearly broke the morning through the grated windows of the lock-up
house. The beams of the rising sun slanting through the bars, shown upon
the wretched inmates, some extended along the benches, some squatted
upon the floor but all in a heavy sleep.

Eudora, lying covered up carefully in her remote corner of the room, out
of the direct rays of the sun, also continued to sleep soundly.

An hour or two passed without anything disturbing the quiet of the
prison, until at length the falling of the bars, opening of the door,
and entrance of the policemen, awoke the sleepers, who commenced an
unanimous clamor for food, for drink, and above all, for release.

Roused by the noise, Eudora started up and gazed wildly around, not
comprehending her situation; but soon memory, with all its terrors,
awoke, and nearly turned her into stone. She gazed upon her manacled
hands, her prison walls, and her wretched companions, and her blood
nearly froze in her veins.

The policemen had come to take the other women and the children before
the magistrate. The three females who had befriended her the night
before now came to her to reclaim their shawls, and with many kind
wishes, took leave.

“Keep up your spirits, lass! don’t let the beaks see you down in the
mouth! Lawk, it is only the _first_ time going as is awful. By the time
you’ve been hauled up afore the beak as often as I has, you won’t mind
it more’n I do. Will she, Nance?”

“Not a bit of it,” said the girl addressed.

Eudora shuddered throughout her frame at this horrible style of
consolation. And yet so real is the link that binds together the whole
brotherhood and sisterhood of man and woman, and so intense in times of
trouble is the craving of the human heart for human sympathy, that it
was with feelings of longing and regret Eudora saw these wretched women

She was left quite alone for an hour; at the end of which the detective
Sims brought her some coffee and bread, of which he kindly advised her
to partake.

“How long shall I have to remain here?” inquired the poor girl.

“Your examination before the magistrates is fixed for noon. It can’t
take place before, because of the witnesses having to be brought

“Thank you. Will you set down the coffee, and be kind enough to procure
me a pitcher of water?”

The officer nodded, and went and brought the required refreshment, and
then retired and barred the door upon the solitary prisoner.

And as soon as she was again left alone, Eudora, over whose habits of
neatness no misfortune could prevail, took combs, brushes, and a towel
from her travelling-bag, and with the aid of the jug of water, bathed
her face, combed her hair, and arranged her dress as well as with her
manacled hands she could. Then she drank the coffee and tried to compose
her mind for the severe ordeal before her.

She had not long to wait. At a quarter to twelve the bars once more fell
with a clang, the door was opened, and the two officers entered to
conduct her before the magistrates. With her fettered hands she managed
to put on her bonnet, but could not contrive to arrange her shawl; but
Sims performed this service for her with gentleness and delicacy,
folding the shawl so as to conceal the manacles.

Then, closely veiled, she was led out between the two policemen, and
conducted across the street to the Townhall, in a front room of which
the magistrates held their sessions.

A rude crowd of men, women and boys was collected in front of the
building, waiting to get a sight of her face as she passed. But the
policemen kindly hurried her through this crowd into the hall.

It was a large stone room, divided across the middle of the floor by an
iron railing. Within this railing, behind a long table, sat three
magistrates; the presiding Justice, Sir Ira Brunton, occupied the
central position, while on his right sat Squire Humphreys, and on his
left Squire Upton. At one extremity of the table sat the clerk, and at
the opposite end stood the group of witnesses, consisting of Dr.
Watkins, Dr. Hall, the Princess Pezzilini, two chemists, a policeman,
and the domestic servants of Allworth Abbey.

Immediately before the table stood Malcolm Montrose, looking pale,
anxious, and heart-broken. On seeing the entrance of Eudora guarded, he
hurried through the little gate of the railings towards her, saying, in
a low and hurried tone:

“Oh, Eudora! It is but an hour since I heard of your arrest—only when
the sheriff’s-officer arrived at Allworth to summon the witnesses; and I
hurried hither immediately to see what I could do for you.”

“Nothing, nothing, you can do nothing for me, dear friend; my case is so
desperate that none but God can help me.”

“But oh, Eudora——”

“Sir, we cannot allow any conversation with the prisoner,” said Sims,
hurrying his charge on to the immediate presence of the magistrates.

“Place a chair for her, officer; she is unable to stand,” said Squire
Upton, looking at the terrified and half-fainting girl with feelings
that might have been compassion, but for the horror her supposed crime

Sims placed a chair directly in front of the table before the
magistrates, and Eudora dropped rather than set down in it.

Sims then laid the warrant upon the table before their worships, and
retreated behind the chair of his prisoner.

Sir Ira Brunton adjusted his spectacles, took up the warrant, looked
over it, and then addressing the accused, said, coldly:

“Will you please to throw aside your veil, Miss Leaton?”

Eudora, with trembling fingers, obeyed, and revealed a face, so deathly
in its pallor, that those who looked upon it shrank back and uttered
exclamations of pity, for they thought the girl must be dying.

“Miss Leaton,” pursued Sir Ira Brunton, “the warrant that I hold here
charges you with the murder, by the administration of poison, of the
late Lord and Lady Leaton and their daughter, the Hon. Agatha Leaton. I
must say that I grieve exceedingly to see one of your age and sex and
rank stand before us charged with so heinous a crime.”

The deadly pallor of Eudora’s cheeks were suddenly flushed with a hectic
spot, as she faltered forth:

“I am guiltless; oh, sir, you who have known me ever since I came, an
orphan, in this strange land, should know that I am.”

“God grant that it may prove so,” said the magistrate, sternly.

And the investigation immediately commenced. First, the minutes of the
coroner’s inquest were read; and then the witnesses were examined in

The housekeeper, Mrs. Vose, was called, and with many tears, and much
reluctance, gave in her testimony:

“That Miss Eudora Leaton was the niece of Lord Leaton, and after Miss
Agatha, the next heiress to the estate. Miss Eudora had nursed Lord
Leaton through his fatal illness, preparing all his delicate food and
drink with her own hands. She prepared the sleeping-draught of which he
drank ten minutes before his sudden death. Miss Eudora also nursed Miss
Agatha through her last illness, which corresponded in all its symptoms
to that of the late Lord Leaton. Miss Eudora watched beside Miss Agatha
on the last night of her life, and prepared the tamarind-water of which
she drank just before her death. Lady Leaton drank of the same beverage
just before her sudden demise.”

Squire Upton inquired:

“Was the jug containing this beverage left out of the prisoner’s keeping
from the time of her preparing it to the time of Miss Agatha Leaton’s

“I think not. Miss Eudora prepared the drink in the housekeeper’s room,
and took it up to Miss Agatha’s chamber, where she (Miss Eudora) watched
through the night,” replied Mrs. Vose.

Several others among the domestic servants were examined, and each one,
in a greater or less degree, corroborated the testimony of the

The next witness examined was the family physician, Dr. Watkins, who
testified that the symptoms of the sudden accessions of illness, which
successively terminated in the death of Lord Leaton, Lady Leaton, and
Miss Leaton, were those produced by the poison of St. Ignatius’
Bean;—that traces of this poison were discovered in the autopsy of the
dead bodies and in the analysis of the beverage prepared by Miss Eudora
Leaton, and of which they drank just previous to their deaths;—and that
a quantity of the same fatal drug was found in Miss Eudora Leaton’s box.

The testimony of the doctor was corroborated by two physicians who had
assisted in the autopsy of the bodies and the analysis of the beverage,
and by the policeman who had executed the warrant and discovered the
poison in Eudora’s possession.

The last witness examined was the Princess Pezzilini, who, with the
exception of the scientific evidence offered by the physicians,
corroborated the whole of the foregoing testimony.

The evidence being all collected, the prisoner was asked if she had any
explanation to give before the magistrates should decide upon her case.

Slowly rising, and in a very faint voice, she answered:

“None that will do any good, I fear. I did, indeed, nurse my uncle and
my cousin through their last illnesses—”

“Prisoner, you are seriously compromising yourself by making these
admissions. You must be careful not to commit yourself again,” said
Squire Upton.

“Sir, if I speak at all, I can only speak the truth, and I cannot
believe that the truth can hurt me. I repeat, then, your worships, that
I did nurse my uncle and cousin through their last illness. I did
prepare with my own hands all the food and drink of which they partook—”

“Prisoner, prisoner,” said Squire Upton, in a tone of great sympathy,
for—despite the conclusive evidence against her, it was impossible to
look into her innocent eyes without feeling a doubt of her supposed
guilt, and wishing to give her the benefit of that doubt—“prisoner, I
must again earnestly warn you that you are fatally criminating yourself,
a thing that the law does not require you to do. Justice affords even to
the most guilty the opportunity of acquittal, which the criminal is not
bound to destroy.”

“Sir, I am not a criminal; and if speaking the truth is to destroy me,
it must do so. I did prepare their food and drink, as I did everything
else for their relief and comfort, because I loved them so much that I
would have given my life, if its sacrifice could have saved theirs. I
put no injurious ingredient in anything that I made for them. And as for
that deadly poison of St. Ignatius’ Bean, of which it is said they died,
and which was found in my box, I do not know how it came there. I never,
certainly, had it in my possession, never knew anything of its
properties, never even heard of its existence before! And as I have
spoken truly, so may the Lord deliver my life from this great peril!”

She concluded in a very low voice, and at the close of her little speech
sank trembling into her chair again. Her simple defence, with its fatal
admissions, was of course worse than useless; and her unsupported denial
of the poisoning had not a feather’s weight to counterbalance the
crushing mass of evidence against her.

“Humph! I see but one course for us to pursue, and that is to send her
to trial. What do you say, Mr. Humphreys? What do you say, Mr. Upton?”
inquired Sir Ira Brunton, looking to the right and left upon his
associate magistrates.

“I regret to be obliged to coincide with you,” said Mr. Humphreys.

“It is very sad, very, very sad; but I see no possible alternative,”
said Squire Upton, looking with deep compassion upon the poor young

“Fill out the mittimus, Wallace,” ordered Sir Ira Brunton.

The clerk immediately filled out the commitment of Eudora Leaton, and
placed it in the hands of detective Sims, with the order to take away
his prisoner at once.

At this command a wild affright blanched the face of Eudora, who, in her
utter ignorance of the magistrates’ prerogative, clasped her hands, and
raised her dilated eyes, in an agony of supplication, saying:

“Oh, sirs, I am innocent! God knows I am! Have pity on me!”

“My child,” said the kind-hearted Squire Upton, who more than
half-doubted her imputed guilt, “this is not final, you know. He
pronounced no judgment upon your guilt or innocence, we only send you to
take your trial before a higher court, where you may be fully acquitted.
Meanwhile, no doubt your friends will procure you counsel from the
highest legal talent in the kingdom, and this talent will devote itself
to the task of clearing away these circumstances that appear against
you; and if you are really innocent, as I hope that you are, take faith
and patience to your heart, and pray and trust to God for their success
and your deliverance.”

Eudora listened to these words with eager, breathless interest; but, oh,
they afforded her but little hope. She bowed in silent acknowledgment of
the magistrates’ kindness, and turned in resigned despair towards her

Malcolm Montrose, with anguish stamped like death upon his brow, came
forward, and, in a choking voice, said:

“Gentlemen, if any amount of bail would suffice to set her at liberty—”

“Mr. Montrose, the Queen of England could not bail out a prisoner
charged with the crime of which she stands committed,” said Sir Ira
Brunton, sternly.

Ah! Malcolm knew this as well as the magistrates did; he had only spoken
in the transient madness of grief and desperation. Now he turned to the
prisoner, and said:

“Eudora, throw yourself upon the mercy of heaven, since there is so
little left on earth. Oh, pray to God as I shall pray for you, and try
to bear up under this heaviest affliction through these darkest of days.
I will leave for London to-night, and retain the best counsel that can
be procured. I will bring them to you to-morrow. Oh, try to endure your
life until then.”

“Mr. Montrose,” said Sir Ira Brunton, “the prisoner must be at once
removed; we are waiting to examine other cases.”

“Good-bye until to-morrow, Eudora. Before you reach your prison walls, I
shall be speeding towards London to bring down your counsel. Heaven be
with you, most innocent and most injured girl.”

And pressing her hand fervently, he relinquished it, and hurried away,
to throw himself into the next up-train.

Eudora was led out between the two officers, placed in a cab, and driven
towards the gaol.

The prison—situated on the outskirts of the town—was a great,
grim-looking, dark, gray stone building, pierced by narrow grated
windows, and surrounded by high stone walls.

Poor Eudora’s stricken heart collapsed and sank within her as the cab
drew up before this formidable-looking stronghold.

The policemen alighted, handed their prisoner out, and rang at the
grated gate in the wall, which was immediately unlocked and opened by
the turnkey on duty there.

The terrified, half-fainting girl was led into a close courtyard, where
the very wind of heaven, that bloweth where it listeth, was scarcely
free to move, and across it, towards the main entrance of the prison, a
low, narrow, iron-bound oaken door, approached by six steep stone steps
in the thickness of the wall.

Here again the policemen rang, and the door was opened by the keeper on
duty, who admitted the whole party into a gloomy-looking stone hall,
where a turnkey received and silently conducted them to a side-door on
the right leading into the gaoler’s office.

Here the sinking girl was permitted to sit down while the gaoler
received the warrant for her confinement, entered her name upon the
prison books, gave a receipt for her person, and discharged the
policemen, who immediately left.

When they were gone, the gaoler looked with the utmost interest and
sorrow upon the unhappy girl left in his custody; and well he might, for
it was the father of Eudora whose kind efforts had procured his
appointment to the office which he now held.

He went to a small cupboard in the wall, and poured out a glass of
sherry, which he brought to her, and with paternal kindness compelled
her to drink.

The generous wine certainly called back the ebbing tide of her life, and
when Mr. Anderson saw this, he said:

“Do not be too much cast down, Miss Leaton. Hope for the best. Meantime,
while you are left in my charge, I will try to make your confinement as
easy as I can, consistently with my duty and your safe keeping.”

“I thank you,” breathed Eudora, in a low voice, and with a slightly
surprised look; for the poor child’s abstract idea of gaolers had been
that they were terrible, avenging demons, having indeed the shape of
men, but being set aside from common human nature by reason of their
odious office. And to see in this dreaded monster a benevolent little
man, who spoke gently and acted kindly, was a new revelation.

“And now I will take you to your cell, where at least you may lie down
and take the rest that you seem to need so much. I will make you as
comfortable as circumstances will admit; and as you are not here for
punishment, but only to await your trial, you may be allowed many
privileges that are denied to those who are confined for offences.”

“I thank you,” again sighed the poor girl, whose tortured brain could
shape no other form of reply, and whose aching heart could take no
interest in the minor comforts or discomforts of her situation, while
the appalling calamity of her approaching trial and probable fate stared
her in the face.

But she arose and followed the gaoler, who led her back into the hall,
up a flight of steep stone stairs, and along a narrow corridor flanked
each side by grated doors.

About midway down the length of this corridor, he paused and unlocked a
door on the right hand, and led his prisoner into a stone cell, very
small but very clean, having a grated window at the back, and furnished
with a cot-bed, and a wooden stand and chair.

“I place you here,” said Mr. Anderson, “because the window looks down
upon the prison garden and out over the heath, so that your eyes may
travel though your feet may not. And now sit down, if you please, while
I take off those handcuffs.”

Eudora sank into the only chair, and held up her hands while the gaoler
relieved her of those galling fetters, which, long after they had been
removed, left livid circles around those delicate wrists to show where
they had pressed.

“And now I will go and send one of the female turnkeys to bring you what
you need. And if there is anything that will—I cannot say add to your
comfort, but—detract from your _dis_comfort, send word by her to me,
and, if possible, you shall be accommodated with what you want,” said
Anderson, leaving the cell and locking the door.

Eudora took off her bonnet and shawl, cast herself upon the narrow bed,
closed her eyes, threw her arms up over her head—it was almost with a
sense of pleasure that she felt them free again—and abandoned herself to
the natural attitude of the prostration of grief.

She had scarcely lain thus for five minutes when the door was again
unlocked, and a woman, coarse in person, but civil in demeanor, entered
the cell, bringing a basin, pitcher of water, and towel, all of which
she placed upon the stand.

Hearing this woman moving about the cell, Eudora, without changing her
attitude, listlessly opened her eyes.

The woman then pointed to the conveniences she had brought, and said:

“Mr. Anderson wishes to know if there is anything else you would like.”

Eudora shook her head in silence, and the woman retreated, and once more
locked the prisoner in.

Two or three hours passed, in which Eudora, lying still upon her narrow
prison bed in the dull anguish of despair, felt as if her heart was
slowly and painfully dying, but without the hope of ultimate death.

Everyone who has suffered the extremity of suspense, grief, or despair,
knows the dread sensation of this dying life or living death. It is that
which even in youth, in health, and in a few hours, has power to wrinkle
the brow, whiten the hair, and disorganize the heart.

It was quite dark, when the female turnkey, whose name was Barton,
entered the cell, bringing Eudora’s supper on a tray, and saying:

“This was sent you from Mr. Anderson’s own table, miss; do try and eat a

Eudora shook her head in silence; but the woman was kindly persistent,
and the poor girl, by nature very docile, lifted herself up and ate a
small bit of mutton-chop, and drank a little port wine.

“And now, miss, if you’ve brought your night clothes along with you, I
would like to help you to undress, and see you comfortably in bed before
I leave you, for you do not look so very over strong.”

In this instance also Eudora meekly yielded to the guidance of Mrs.
Barton, took a night-gown from the travelling-bag, and permitted the
good woman to help her to undress and get into bed.

And then Mrs. Barton hung up Eudora’s dress, and bidding her be of good
cheer, and wishing her good-night, left the cell, and locked her in.

And as soon as the poor girl found herself again alone, she closed her
eyes, clasped her hands, and raised her heart in prayer to God for
strength, comfort, and deliverance.

                              CHAPTER XVI.
                       THE MYSTERIES OF EDENLAWN.

      She deemed him dead, in a foreign land;
      Did her smile come back with its glory bland,
      Lighting her face as in other years,
      Ere shame and sorrow had taught her tears?

      He was dead, and the secret of shame and gloom
      Lay buried deep in his distant tomb!
      No more should she shudder to hear his name,
      With a chilling heart and a brow of flame.—_C. A. Warfield._

If Allworth Abbey was the most ancient and gloomy, and if the Anchorage
was the most commanding and cheerful, assuredly Edenlawn was the most
beautiful and delightful estate in the neighborhood of Abbeytown.

The three estates formed a right angle, of which Allworth Abbey was the
eastern, Edenlawn the southern, and the Anchorage the western points.

Edenlawn was equi-distant, about three miles from the two.

The mansion was an elegant modern edifice of white stone, in the Grecian
order of architecture, crowning the summit of a green and wooded hill
that ascended gradually from the banks of the lovely little lake Eden. A
wide vista had been opened between the trees from the white front of the
mansion down to the clear waters of the lake. This vista was laid out in
terraces, with stone steps leading down the centre, from level to level,
from the house to the lake. It was adorned with parterres of beautiful
flowers, groves of rare shrubs, and groups of fine statues.

On each side of these ornamented grounds, and behind the house, stood
the ancient woods, where the fine old forest-trees were kept well
trimmed and free from undergrowth by the zeal of old Davy Denny, the
head-gardener, whose care of the place was a labor of earnest love.

And this was well, else, for all the interest taken in it by the
proprietress, the Honorable Mrs. Elverton, this paradise might have
fallen into desolation, or been transformed to a Gehenna.

For this beautiful Edenlawn, though a comparatively new place, was a
house with a very dark history.

It was some years before the time of which we now write that the
Honorable Hollis Elverton, only son of Baron Elverton of Torg Castle, in
Yorkshire, while staying in Paris, married the beautiful and haughty
Athenie de la Compte, daughter of that celebrated General de la Compte
who held so high a place in the esteem of the ex-King Louis Phillippe
and in the councils of the nation.

Athenie de la Compte was a tall and dark brunette, with raven-black hair
and flashing black eyes, and with an imperious temper and a commanding

Immediately after their marriage the young couple set out for a
lengthened tour on the Continent, and came to England only at the end of

After a short season spent in London, where the imperial beauty of Mrs.
Elverton created an immense sensation, at the close of the summer the
young husband brought his youthful wife home to his beautiful villa of
Edenlawn, which had been built, furnished, and adorned by Lord Elverton
expressly for the residence of his son and daughter-in-law.

A few days after their settlement at home they were joined by a select
party of invited guests, who came down from town on a visit of a few

Mrs. Elverton then issued cards for a large evening party to all the
neighboring nobility and gentry. The party was a great success, and
formed the initiative of a series of neighborhood festivities.

It was in the midst of all this gaiety that the thunderbolt fell that
struck the proud Athenie to the dust and spread a desert round her.

On a certain evening Mr. and Mrs. Elverton, and the friends who were
staying with them, had returned late from a dinner-party given at the
Anchorage. The visitors had withdrawn to their several apartments for
the night; but Mr. and Mrs. Elverton, as was their daily custom,
remained for a few minutes behind them in the drawing-room to discuss
the events of the day before retiring to rest.

While, with the buoyancy of youth, love and joy, they were sitting
talking and laughing together, a footman entered the room and announced
a stranger who imperatively demanded to see Mr. Elverton, and would take
no denial, although Charles had explained that it was too late for his
master to be disturbed.

Mr. Elverton though the most courteous of gentlemen, could not be said
to have yielded so much to courtesy as to curiosity to know who this
importunate stranger might be, when he ordered Charles to show the
unseasonable visitor into the library, whither he himself immediately

The stranger was a woman of majestic presence, whose tall, commanding
figure was wrapped in a long black cloak; and whose unknown features
were concealed beneath a thick black veil. Thus much only the servants
saw of her as Charles showed her into the library, whither she was
instantly followed by Mr. Elverton.

Charles, in the conscientious discharge of the principal duty of his
office, applied his ear to the keyhole; but his virtue was not rewarded
by any satisfactory result. He only heard, a low exclamation of
astonishment from his master, a muttered reply from the stranger, and
then the sound of their steps retreating towards a distant part of the
room, where the words of their conversation were quite inaudible.

The ingenuity and perseverance of Mr. Charles was really worthy of a
better cause and a greater success. He shut his eyes, plugged the
orifice of his left ear with his little finger, and concentrated his
five senses into the hearing of his right ear, which he plastered to the

Alas! he could make out not a single syllable of that mysterious
interview; and the few sounds that he heard only tortured his
curiosity—these sounds were occasionally a deep, half-smothered groan
from his master, and a sharp, sarcastic laugh from the stranger.

This secret interview lasted for about an hour, at the end of which
Charles heard the footsteps coming down the room towards the door, and
deemed it proper to withdraw from his post of observation. But Mr.
Charles’ limbs were so stiff and numb from long kneeling, that it was no
easy matter to rise, while at the same time there was imminent danger of
his being discovered in the act of listening when his master should open
the door.

With a last desperate effort he struggled upon his feet; and then, as
fortune crowns us when we least expect her to do so, he had the
satisfaction of overhearing something. It was the voice of his master,
saying, in a tone of anguish:

“You are a fiend! a fiend! H— never cast forth a blacker one to blast
this fair earth!”

And the moment after Mr. Elverton pulled open the door, and hurried
forth—alone! He crossed the hall, entered the drawing-room and shut the
door after him.

Charles stared after his master, and then looked to the right and to the
left, before and behind, above and below, and everywhere else, to see
whither the stranger had vanished, but in vain, for the earth seemed to
have swallowed her.

Then he entered the library, and turned on the full light of the gas,
and searched every nook and cranny, still in vain. Finally, he came to
the conclusion that the stranger had been let out through one of the
French windows that opened from the library upon the lawn.

And having settled that part of the mystery to his satisfaction, Charles
turned off the gas, shut up the library, and came back to the hall, just
in time to hear a wild shriek and a very heavy fall from the
drawing-room and to see Mr. Elverton rush forth and run up-stairs.

In astonishment and terror, Charles hurried into the drawing-room, where
to his farther consternation, he found Mrs. Elverton extended upon the
floor in a dead swoon. He hastened to summon the housekeeper and the
lady’s-maid, who came in great alarm to the assistance of their

Mrs. Elverton was carried to her room, where every means was used to
restore her to consciousness. But when she came to her senses it was
only to fall into the most fearful ravings, in which was darkly shadowed
forth a calamity so direful, a grief so deep, a shame so intense, as
raised the hair from the heads of the listeners with horror.

The housekeeper ordered everyone from the room, that none should hear
these awful revelations. She also sent to summon Mr. Elverton to the
bedside of his wife, but the master of the house was nowhere to be
found. In her desperation she dispatched Charles for the medical
attendant of the family; but it was near morning before Dr. Watkins
could reach Edenlawn.

On his arrival he repaired immediately to the chamber of the suffering
lady, but on hearing the appalling nature of her ravings, he warned the
housekeeper to permit no one but herself to approach Mrs. Elverton until
the latter should recover her senses.

During that morning the illness of the lady assumed another phase, and
before noon an infant daughter was prematurely ushered into life.

But Mr. Elverton was not there to bless his first-born; and though
messengers were dispatched in all directions to seek him, yet no clue
could be found to the whereabouts of the missing master of the house.

Since the birth of her child Mrs. Elverton had fallen into no more
ravings, but lay in a sort of dull despair. To rouse her from this
state, the infant, a fine and healthy one, beautifully dressed, was
carried to her. But the great black eyes of the mother dilated with
horror at the sight of her child, and shuddering with excessive emotion,
she turned away.

Seeing how terribly the mother was agitated by the presence of the
child, the doctor ordered it to be carried to the nursery, where a nurse
was engaged to take charge of it.

Meanwhile the visitors assembled at Edenlawn had learned, from the
confusion of the household, the illness of the mistress, and the absence
of the master, that some great event, some crushing calamity, some
ill-understood horror, had suddenly fallen upon the family. Learning
from the physician that Mrs. Elverton was in no condition even to
receive their adieus, they left with him their parting compliments for
her, and set out for town.

The convalescence of Mrs. Elverton was very long protracted, but though,
during the ravings of her delirium, she had shrieked forth the names of
her husband and child in connection with some unimagined horror, yet,
from the moment of her return to reason, she never once recurred to the
existence of either. Her attendants wondered that she never inquired
after her husband; but her physician warned them not to force the
subject upon her attention. The babe was doing well in the nursery, but
Mr. Elverton had not yet returned, nor had any clue been found to his

It was a period of three months’ duration before Mrs. Elverton was
sufficiently recovered from her severe illness to make her appearance in
the drawing-room, and, oh! how changed from the haughty and beautiful
woman, who, some little time before, had been brought, a loved and happy
bride, to Edenlawn!

The majestic form was indeed the same, but every vestige of color had
fled from the classic face, leaving it white as the chiselled marble it
resembled. The imperious brow was painfully contracted, the proud eyes
were darkly veiled, the scornful lips were bitterly compressed, and the
whole countenance was deeply stamped with the ineffaceable marks of an
incurable despair. No one who had seen her three months previous could
look upon her without feeling that some unutterable misfortune had
blasted her life.

Her friends and neighbors, who, during her illness, had sent regularly
to inquire after her progress, now called to pay their compliments upon
her convalescence. But Mrs. Elverton declined to receive any visitors,
and commissioned the physician to make her excuses. She refused even to
receive a pastoral call from the clergyman of the parish; and though a
zealous Protestant, exact in all the forms of her faith, she shunned the
Christian rite of churching, and absented herself entirely from public
worship. And even when months had passed, and the venerable _bonne_,
whom she had brought with her from Paris, ventured to urge upon her the
duty of having the infant baptized, she shuddered, and to the horror of
Madame Julien, replied:

“_Baptize her!_ the baptismal waters, if sprinkled on _her_ forehead,
would hiss and fly off in steam, as if thrown upon red-hot iron.”

About this time Baron Elverton, summoned in haste from his official
duties in London, arrived at Edenlawn on a hurried visit to his
daughter-in-law. He was closeted with her for an hour in the library,
and at the end of the interview he—the case-hardened old judge of a
thousand criminal trials—came forth alone, with his face as pale as
death, and with blank horror stamped like madness on his brow. Without
waiting to see his grand-daughter, he ordered a carriage to take him at
once to the railway station, whence he set out the same hour for London.
He never came back to Edenlawn; but those who knew him well said that
within a fortnight after his flying visit there the hair of Baron
Elverton turned white as snow.

Months passed into years, and still the mystery of Edenlawn remained
unsolved. No news was heard of Mr. Elverton. No explanation was offered
by Mrs. Elverton. The unbaptized infant grew and thrived in health and
beauty as well as if his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury had
sprinkled her innocent brow; and she became the pet, the darling, and
the idol of the household, although her wretched mother still continued
to regard her as a creature thrice accursed. She was a healthy and a
happy child, and consequently beautiful and good.

“_So_ good, doctor, so very good,” was the constant report of Madame
Julien, or Madelon, as the old _bonne_ was more familiarly called.

“So good is she; so very good? Well, then, as she has no other name, let
us call her good—or Alma, which is the same thing,” said the doctor, one

And thus the infant, to whom her own mother strangely denied the rights
of baptism, received the well-omened name of Alma.

The infancy of the little heiress passed in the nursery until she had
attained the age of seven years, when an accomplished governess was
engaged to superintend her education, and she was removed to the

But this migration brought Alma no nearer to her mother, who continued
to shun her presence.

Indeed, the greatest interest ever shown by Mrs. Elverton in her
daughter, was upon the occasion of the latter being attacked with
scarlet-fever, when the anxiety of the lady became intense; and such
anxiety as it was! an anxiety that made everyone shudder! anxiety, in
short—not that the child should live, but that she should _die_!

It curdled the blood of the boldest to see, that while the life of the
little girl was in imminent peril, the face of the lady was lighted up
with a wild, maniac hope. But one morning Dr. Watkins, who had been very
devoted in his attentions to his little patient, after paying his usual
visit to the bedside of Alma, entered the presence of Mrs. Elverton, and
with his countenance radiant with satisfaction, said:

“I am happy to announce to you, madam, that our little Alma is out of
danger. She will get well.”

To the consternation of the good doctor, the lady dropped her clasped
hands upon her lap, and while the old expression of incurable sorrow
came back to her face, replied, in a voice of deep despair:

“I had hoped it might have been otherwise, but Heaven’s holy will be

It was when Alma was about ten years of age that Mrs. Elverton received
the only news of her husband since the day of his strange disappearance.
This was contained in an annonymous letter from St. Petersburg,
announcing his decease in that city. Mrs. Elverton immediately wrote to
the British Ministry at that Court, to ascertain the facts of the case;
but after the most careful investigation, the utmost extent of
information she obtained was this, that a stranger, an Englishman, of
the name of Elverton, had died at St. Petersburg. He had left no papers
to afford a clue to his identity; his linen and boxes were marked “H.
Elverton.” And at the time that this inquiry was set on foot the body of
the stranger had been too long buried to afford the slightest
possibility of its being identified even if disinterred; and under these
circumstances the sanctity of the grave had not been violated.

Mrs. Elverton never discovered the writer of the annonymous letter. She
did not consider the intelligence she had received of sufficient
reliability to warrant her in publishing the death of Mr. Elverton, or
in placing her family in mourning. Yet those most familiar with the
lady’s moods thought that in her secret heart she believed in the death
of her husband, and derived satisfaction from the belief, for it was
observed that from the day she first received the intelligence—true or
false—her countenance, though retaining all its profound melancholy,
lost its unnatural expression of horror and despair.

Still, she took no delight in the society of her innocent daughter;
still she attended no place of public worship; received no company and
paid no visits, except visits of condolence to the houses of affliction,
or of charity to the abodes of poverty.

And so passed the years of Alma’s childhood. The young girl, if
unfortunate in her mother, was blessed in her governess—a woman of a
Christian heart, a cultivated, mind, and accomplished manners—who
conscientiously devoted herself to the temporal and eternal welfare of
her young charge.

It was to this lady that Alma owed not only all her worldly education,
but all her religious instruction. It was through her governess that
Alma was prepared for the Christian rites of baptism and confirmation,
both of which she received when she was about fifteen years of age.

But after this Alma lost her friend, companion, and governess.

The curate to whom Miss Moore had been betrothed for eight years at
length obtained a living, and claimed the long-promised hand of his
bride, who took leave of her friends at Edenlawn, and went to make the
happiness of a humble parsonage in Yorkshire.

                             CHAPTER XVII.
                         THE STRANGE INTERVIEW.

             “And now they are standing face to face;
             Hath a dream come over that sylvan place?
             One of those visions ghastly and wild,
             That makes her shrink like a frightened child?

             “For a while she stood as a bird is said
             To meet the gaze of the serpent dread,
             Pale and still for a time she stood
             In the midst of that woodland solitude.”

Alma grew up as beautiful as one of Raphael’s picture angels; but her
beauty was of a directly opposite style to that of her handsome mother.
Alma resembled the patrician women of her father’s family. Her form was
of fairy-like proportions, small, slender, delicate, yet well-rounded
and very graceful. Her features were of the purest Grecian type, her
complexion was exquisitely fair, with the faintest rose-tint flushing
cheeks and lips. Her hair was of a pale gold color; her eyebrows and
eyelashes, of a darker hue, shaded deep blue eyes full of pensive
thought. Hers was a beauty that might have gladdened a family circle and
adorned society. But alas for Alma! Her young life passed in a worse
than conventual seclusion.

Scarcely any form of existence in this world could be so lonely and
monotonous as that of this fair girl at Edenlawn—Edenlawn, a paradise to
look at, a purgatory to live in!

After the departure of her governess, Alma was literally solitary. Her
mother, in the blind selfishness of a cherished grief, dwelt apart in
her own private suite of rooms, which she never left except at the call
of charity. Alma had neither brother, sister, friend, nor neighbor; she
was utterly companionless, and her life, therefore, more lonely than
perhaps that of any other young creature in this world.

The children of the poorest parents have companions among their equals;
the inmates of orphan asylums are herded together in great numbers; the
cloistered nuns form large communities among themselves; even the
convict prisoners work together in great gangs. In a word, the most
wretched in this world were, in many respects, happier than Alma
Elverton, the young and beautiful heiress-apparent of Edenlawn, Torg
Castle, and the Barony of Elverton; for they at least enjoyed human
sympathy and companionship, while she had no friend—not one—not a single
creature of her own kind to speak with.

It is true there were laborers on the estate and servants in the house;
but what society could the young girl find in them?

And there was her mother, retired within the citadel of her own
mysterious and selfish sorrows; but what companionship could Alma find
in her?

All young girls, as they develop into womanhood, yearn from their secret
souls for a more perfect sympathy than they usually meet from their own
family circles. This is the real cause of romantic school-girl
friendships, and, alas! too frequently of other less harmless

In large and busy households, of many sisters and brothers, this
aspiration is very much modified and rendered quite endurable. But the
more lonely and idle the life of a young girl is doomed to be, the more
intense is this secret yearning for sympathy. And if she happens to be
of a poetic temperament also, the longing of her heart becomes the
monomania of her mind.

Alma, with no one to converse with, no work to do, and no visits to
receive or to pay, became an aspiring dreamer of beautiful dreams,
impossible to be realized in this world of stern realities; for “love,
still love!” was the burden of those dreams. And even as it takes a
feast to satisfy the hungry, so it would have required the whole circle
of human love—father’s, mother’s, sister’s, brother’s, friend’s, and
lover’s—to have satisfied the craving of Alma’s starving heart. And she
had none, not one atom of love, to keep that heart from perishing!

What do physicians mean by an atrophy of the heart? We all know what an
atrophy of the stomach is—simply starvation for want of food. Is not an
atrophy of the heart also starvation for the lack of love? He who said,
“Feed my lambs,” said also, “Love one another.” And perhaps as many are
perishing in this world for lack of love as for the want of food.

Alma’s was an extreme case of this sort of starvation. And small as her
experience was, she had seen, heard, and read enough to discover that
her own life was very different from all other lives around her. At
church, every Sunday, she saw happy family parties gathered together in
their family pews. After the service, in the churchyard, she saw friends
and neighbors greeting each other with affection and delight. She knew
that, as the grand-daughter of the celebrated Baron Elverton, and as the
heiress-apparent of his titles and estates, she was entitled to fully as
much consideration as any other young lady in the county. Why did she
not receive it?

From casual words and chance allusions, rather than from any detailed
narrative or voluntary communication from the servants, Alma had gleaned
as much of the domestic history as was known to the servants themselves.
And she dreamed, wondered, and speculated upon the subject of the
mystery that enveloped her family.

Her father! What was it that, on the night before her birth, had driven
him in an agony of horror from his home forever?

Her mother! What was it that, from the hour of Alma’s birth, had frozen
that beautiful and ardent woman into the cold, hard statue that she now

Herself! What was it that set her apart, lonely and unloved, from all
the human race?

Alma could have loved her mother, and been happy in her mother’s love;
but the cold and repellant atmosphere that surrounded the lady chilled
and repulsed the maiden.

But Alma loved her unknown father with a love passing the love of woman,
and all the mystery that hung over his sudden flight, his long exile,
and his uncertain fate, only served to strengthen, deepen, and intensify
this love.

Adjoining the library was a small study that had once belonged to her
father, but which her mother was never known to enter. Here hung a full
length portrait of her father, painted in London soon after his
marriage. It represented a man in the prime of his youth, of a tall and
finely-proportioned form, Grecian features, fair complexion,
falcon-fierce blue eyes, and golden brown hair—a man of whom Alma seemed
a small feminine copy.

Into this study Alma removed her work-table, her easel, paint-box, and
books. And here, seated in front of the beloved portrait, Alma liked
best to employ her mornings in needle-work, in drawing, reading, or
dreaming of her unknown father. Her afternoons were passed in wandering
by the margin of fair Eden’s waters below the villa, or in roaming
through the old woods behind the mansion, and ever dreaming of her
unknown father, and yearning for his presence and his love.

Alma was very punctual in her attendance upon public worship, not only
from religious principle—though that of itself would have been a
sufficient motive to her—but also from the absolute necessity of at
least looking upon the human beings with whom she could hold no other

After the departure of her governess, she alone occupied the great
family pew of the Elvertons, until Lady Leaton, who was then recently
widowed, felt compassion for the lonely girl, and availing herself of
the privilege given by a slight acquaintance with the Honorable Mrs.
Elverton, invited Alma to sit with her family. There seemed to be no
possible objection to this plan, and the solitary girl was only too glad
to accept the kind invitation and sit with a party of young creatures of
her own age and rank. This party consisted now of Agatha and Eudora
Leaton, and Malcolm and Norham Montrose.

Alma informed her mother of this courtesy on the part of Lady Leaton.

Mrs. Elverton made no absolute objection, but gravely shook her head and

“I have almost ceased to wage a vain war with destiny; yet, girl, I
would warn you against one error that to you would be fatal! There are
two young gentlemen on a visit to that family; it is their attentions
that I would have you shun as you would shun eternal perdition! Beware
of the Messrs. Montrose! Beware of all men! for, Alma, love and marriage
are not for you!”

Alma grew pale as death at the awful words and manner of her mother, for
she felt that the warning came too late, as warnings generally do.

Alma had been introduced to every member of Lady Leaton’s party, and
among the rest, to Captain Norham Montrose, who was at once deeply
impressed by the fresh and delicate beauty of the fair young girl, and
strongly attracted by the splendid prospects of the rich young heiress.

And Alma, with all her lonely heart and soul yearning and aching for
companionship and sympathy, became too easily fascinated by the
love-tuned voice and love-tempered gaze of the handsome young hussar.

A few weeks, therefore, irretrievably decided the destiny of Alma—she
loved, and loved for ever!

To have gained the passionate love of a creature so good and beautiful,
with a heart so fresh and pure, was a triumph such as had never before
fallen to the lot of the fascinating young officer. And what at first
had been to him a pursuit half of admiration, half speculation, became
at length a mad passion, an infatuation, a delirium! He could scarcely
be said to live out of Alma’s presence. The world to him soon came to be
divided only into two parts—where she was, and where she was not; and
time into two eras—when she was present, and when she was absent. He saw
her only at church on Sundays, and the six days that intervened between
were to him “spaces between stars.”

To boldly ask the hand of this heiress of her grandfather and her
mother, was nothing less than madness on the part of a young officer
with only his pay. And yet, instigated as much by his overweening pride
as by his headlong passion, Captain Montrose wrote to Lord Elverton and
to Mrs. Elverton, asking their permission to pay his addresses to Miss
Elverton at Edenlawn. From Lord Elverton he received a courteous but
decided refusal—from Mrs. Elverton a sharp and peremptory denial.

And after this poor Alma’s only social solace was taken away from her,
and she was forbidden to go to church.

This prohibition, as might have been expected, did more harm than good;
for whereas, before it was issued, the young lovers met only once a week
at church in the presence of others, they now met almost every day alone
in the woods behind Edenlawn. These meetings commenced not by
appointment, but rather by accident. Alma, as has been already said, was
in the daily habit of walking by the margin of the lake below Edenlawn,
or in the woods behind the house.

Norham, missing her from her seat at church, and forbidden to call upon
her at her mother’s house, and longing for her society as the dying long
for life, walked to Edenlawn, and rambled through the woods, only to be
near the dwelling that contained his idol. In these rambles he met Alma.
But an angel might have been present at these meetings for any
indiscretion on the part of the young lovers.

Norham did indeed use all the eloquence of passion to persuade Alma to
fly with him to Scotland. But dreary as was the home life of the unhappy
girl, she was so far firm to her filial duty as to resist all his

“No, no, Norham,” she would answer; “my heart reproaches me bitterly
enough for walking with you here, and I should not do it, perhaps, only
I feel that if I did not see you sometimes I should go mad with
loneliness. But, Norham, I will not farther wrong my mother. Wait until
I am of age, and have the right to dispose of my hand; then, Norham, I
will place it in yours.”

And no arguments, entreaties, or prayers on the part of her lover
availed anything against the conscientious resolution of Alma. And even
when at length his leave of absence expired, and he was ordered to join
his regiment, which was stationed in Scotland, he took advantage of this
fortuitous combination of circumstances to urge upon his beloved Alma
the consideration of the deep pain of separation, and the facilities for
their union offered by the locality of his service, she remained true to
her convictions of duty, and had the firmness to bid him adieu and see
him depart.

To young creatures surrounded by sisters, brothers, and cousins,
relatives, friends, and neighbors, the self-denial of this lonely girl
will scarcely be appreciated.

From the time of her lover’s departure for Scotland she saw no more of
him until the day of the double funeral at Allworth Abbey.

We have already said that it was only in the times of their affliction
that the Honorable Mrs. Elverton ever visited her neighbors. Thus
recluse as she was, she had ordered her mourning coach, and with Alma
seated by her side, had attended the funeral solemnities at Allworth

In the course of that day Alma had exchanged a glance and a bow with
Norham. And the next afternoon, _instinct_ rather than understanding led
her out to take a walk in the woods behind Edenlawn.

It was a lovely summer’s afternoon, and the low descending sun was
striking his level yellow rays through the interlacings of the
forest-trees, edging each leaf and twig, with a golden flame.

Alma wandered on, and in that mental struggle between duty and
inclination, or rather between conscience and necessity, that occupies
one half of our inner lives.

She was happy in the hope of seeing Norham, and miserable in the fear of
doing wrong. This is a paradox of daily occurrence.

While she walked on in the dulcemarah, the bitter sweet of this
forbidden hope, she heard the fallen leaves and twigs break beneath a
firm footstep behind her.

Her breath stopped, her heart fluttered, her cheek crimsoned. She paused
for the coming up of the footsteps, but she did not turn her head.

“I have the honor of speaking to Miss Elverton, I presume.”

The voice of the speaker was deep, rich, and inexpressibly mournful.

Alma started, turned round, and dropped her eyes, while a deep blush
mantled her face.

The speaker was a tall, finely-formed, fair-complexioned, and very
handsome man, of about forty years of age.

While addressing Alma he held his hat entirely off his head, and stood
with a courtly grace that the girl had never seen equalled.

She was naturally surprised and even terrified at the unexpected
apparition of a stranger in that lonely place and at that late hour, but
aside from these natural emotions, there was something in the aspect of
the man that thrilled her with a feeling which was neither surprise nor
terror, but something infinitely deeper than either.

“I have the honor of addressing Miss Elverton, I presume?” repeated the
stranger, with the same gracious courtesy of tone and manner.

“Yes, sir,” breathed the girl, with her heart throbbing quickly.

“Miss Elverton, does your mother still live?” inquired the deep voice of
the stranger.

The throbbing of Alma’s heart nearly suffocated her. Her breath came
quickly and gaspingly. She threw her arm around a tree for support, and
leaned her head against the rough bark, while she stole another look at
the stranger.

Yes, there was the same noble head, with its bright locks of golden
brown waving round the broad, white forehead; the same dark blue eyes
with the falcon glance; the same Grecian nose, short, proud upper lip,
and rounded chin; the same face, only a little older, that daily looked
down upon her from the portrait in the study. As Alma realized this
truth, she felt as though her last hour of life had come, and that she
was dying in a dream.

“Does your mother still live?” repeated the stranger.

“My mother still lives, if breathing means living,” answered Alma, in an
expiring voice, and trembling in every limb.

The eyes of the stranger were fixed upon her—were reading her very soul.
At length he spoke.

“Girl, your eyes never beheld me before, and yet—does not your instinct
recognize me?”

“Oh, Heaven, my heart!” gasped the girl, leaning, pale as death, against
the tree.

“Yes, your heart acknowledges him whom your eyes never before saw—”

“My father—”

“Hush—hush—no word of that sort—”

“Oh, my father—”

“Hush, hush, no word like that, I say!” repeated Hollis Elverton, in a
sepulchral voice.

But his daughter, pale as death, trembled like a leaf, and nearly
fainting with excessive agitation, had entirely lost her

She either did not hear or did not understand his strange words.

Extending her arms towards him with a look of imploring affection, and
in a voice of thrilling passion, she cried:

“Father! oh father! will you not embrace your child?”

The tall figure of the man shook as a tree shaken by the wind, but he
averted his face, and threw his hand towards her with a repelling

She dropped her arms with a look of shame, sorrow and wonder, murmuring:

“Never since I lived have I been pressed to my mother’s bosom, or
received a mother’s kiss, or known a mother’s love. And the father for
whose presence my heart has longed through all the years of my lonely
youth—the father whom my love has followed through all the years of his
long exile—now, in the first moments of our meeting, repulses his child
and turns away! Oh, father!” she exclaimed, in passionate earnestness,
“what have I done that both my parents should hate me!”

“You have done nothing wrong, nor do we hate you, poor girl!” replied
Elverton, in an agitated voice.

“_What am I_, then, that those who gave me life should turn shudderingly
away from me as from a monster accursed?”

“Child, child, cease your wild questionings! There are mysteries in this
world that may never be revealed until that last dread day of doom, when
all that is hidden shall be made clear!”

After this there was silence between them for a few minutes, during
which they gazed upon each other’s faces with mournful, questioning
interest. Then Hollis Elverton, in a gentle voice, inquired:

“What name have they given you, child?”

“My mother called me by no name, but the good doctor gave me that of

“Then you did not receive the rites of Christian baptism?”

“Not in infancy—not until I was old enough to act for myself in that
respect; then I presented myself at the altar, and received at the same
time the sacraments of baptism and confirmation.”

“And your mother?”

“She made no objection, but gave me no encouragement. She was neutral in
the matter; but, father, did I not do right?”

Hollis Elverton groaned, but made no reply. And again silence fell
between them, while they studied each other with the same painful
interest. At length she broke the spell by asking, in a tearful voice:

“Father, will you not accompany me to the house, and see my mother?”

“Never!” exclaimed Hollis Elverton, while a spasm of unutterable anguish
convulsed his fine face.

“Alas, sir, if not to see her, what motive has brought you back to

“Two of the strongest that can ever govern human action—the love of one
I love, the hate of one I hate! I come to watch over and save an angel
girl from utter ruin, and to hunt a demon woman to her doom!”

“Your words are strange and alarming, my father.”

“And I can give you no explanation of them now; I am even here in
secret. I must see you only in secret, and you must give me your word of
honor never to mention this meeting, or even mention the fact of my
return to England.”

“Not even to my mother?”

“Not even to her; least of all to her!”

“Alas, alas, my father, do you hate her so?”

“_Hate her?_—hate your mother?—hate Athenie?—hate my—oh, Heaven,
Alma!—no, I do not hate her; on the contrary—”

Here his voice broke down, and raising his cloak, he veiled his agitated
face in its folds.

“Alas, alas, my father! what horror was it that so suddenly burst
asunder all ties of affection between you? Father—father, answer
me!—tell me that it was not her fault—not my mother’s fault!”

He dropped the fold of his cloak from his face, and looking for the
first time angrily upon his daughter, demanded sternly:

“Why should you dare to ask if your mother was in fault?”

“Alas, I know not. I beg your pardon and hers. My short life has been
made a desert by this mystery, father, and yet for myself I have never
once complained, but when I know that her life is one prolonged agony,
and now see the agony stamped upon your brow, I become half crazy, and
think—I know not what.”

“I will answer your question, unhappy girl; and assure you, in the
presence of high Heaven, that our violent parting was not caused by your
mother’s fault. A purer, sweeter, nobler woman than your mother never
lived,” said Hollis Elverton, earnestly.

“Oh, God, I thank thee!—I thank thee—I thank thee for that!” cried Alma,
in a thrilling voice that betrayed how heavy had been the burden of
doubt that rested on her mind, and how ineffable was the sense of relief
now that it was lifted off.

“You are satisfied?” inquired Elverton.

“For her, oh, yes; but oh, my father, tell me—this separation was not
your fault either?” she cried, clasping her hands, and gazing with
imploring eyes into his face.

“No, nor my fault either, Alma; I swear it to you, by all my hopes of
Heaven! We loved each other as man and woman seldom love in this world,”
replied Elverton, in a hollow voice; “we severed, and until the judgment
day it may never be known why.”

“You loved each other so devotedly; you married publicly with the
blessings of all your friends; you came hither to your beautiful home,
and in one month, in the very perfection of your happiness, your union
was shattered as by a thunderbolt from Heaven. You parted; oh, my
father, was that well?”

“It was well!” he answered, solemnly.

She looked into the stern sorrow of his face, and read there that, in
the simple words of his reply, he had uttered some awful truth. Again
her heart yearned towards her father with inextinguishable love. She
extended her arms and advanced towards him with imploring looks. But he
waved her off, saying, in pitying tones:

“Come, no nearer, unhappy girl! Between you and me there is a great gulf
fixed. Hark! Some one approaches! I must leave you now! Good-night—nay,
stop one moment! I must see you again at this hour to-morrow. In the
meantime, drop no hint of my presence in England.”

“None; I will keep your secret, my father,” replied Alma, as Hollis
Elverton, waving adieu, disappeared in the coverts of the woods.

                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                          FATHER AND DAUGHTER.

                “Now father and child have met at last,
                  Met—as they never had met before;
                Between them the spectre of the past
                  Stands—a barrier for evermore.”

Pleased, pained and perplexed at once, Alma stood transfixed where
Elverton had left her.

She had seen her father! her father, whose sudden flight, mysterious
wanderings, and unknown fate, had been the great subject of wonder,
speculation and conjecture to her own self, to the family and to the

She had seen her father, actually seen him in the flesh, and spoken with
him face to face! There in that spot he had stood before her,
intercepting the last rays of the setting sun as it sank below the
horizon. They had not embraced, or kissed, or even taken each other’s
hands—they had met as souls may meet on the confines of another world.
And now he was gone like a vanished spirit.

She had met her father, and though the shock of that meeting, with its
conflicting emotions of great surprise, deep joy, and bitter
disappointment, had impressed her senses as forcibly as any actual event
could possibly impress any human being, yet now the whole affair seemed
to her so like a dream that she almost doubted its reality.

The meeting so sudden and unexpected; the interview so short and
unsatisfactory; the consequences so uncertain and alarming; these
subjects engrossed her thoughts, absorbed her senses, and riveted her to
the spot, so that she did not move until the brushwood near her broke
sharply beneath the tread of the intruder whose distant appearance had
driven away her father.

Then she started as from sleep, looked up, and flushed with joy, for she
thought the new comer would be Norham Montrose.

Alack! he was only old Davy Denny, the head-gardener, returning from one
of his occasional inspections of the woods.

The old man cast a curious, anxious, sorrowful glance at his young lady
as he touched his hat in passing her.

Alma blushed at meeting that glance, which said, as plainly as eyes
could speak:

“Please, Miss Elverton, it is too late for you to be out walking alone
in the woods, and if I only dared to speak, I’d up and tell you so.”

And the old servant went slowly, sadly, and reluctantly up towards the

Alma felt no disposition to follow his footsteps, but turned and
wandered still farther down the slope of the hill into the narrow valley
below, where the woods were thickest.

She had nearly reached the foot of the hill, when the figure of a man
suddenly crossed her path.

Looking up with a start, she recognized Hollis Elverton.

“My father! back!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, Alma, back; I have not been far from you since we parted. I left
you intending to return to my present retreat. But from the covert of
the trees that concealed me I saw old David Denny pass, and saw you,
instead of going home, as I expected you to do, and as you should have
done, child, turn and ramble down the hill. I then took a shorter path
to meet you here, to complete the interview that was interrupted, and
under the shadow of the coming night see you safe within the lawn of
your own dwelling,” said Hollis Elverton gravely.

“Oh, my dear father! how glad I am that I did not go home. Oh, if you
knew how happy it makes me to see you again, even after this short
interval, you would indeed love me a little,” said his daughter,

“Peace, girl, peace! No more of that, if you would ever look upon my
face again! I have sought you, Alma, with a purpose. Sit down, while I
unfold it to you. Sit down, I say, since you cannot stand,” said Mr.
Elverton, pointing to the trunk of a felled tree that lay across their
path, and upon which Alma immediately sank.

Mr. Elverton stood at a short distance, with his arms folded, leaning
against an oak.

“You know something of this wholesale poisoning at Allworth Abbey?” he

“Oh, yes, sir,” answered Alma, shuddering.

“How much do you know?”

“As much as has been made public through the coroner’s inquest.”

“And that—is nothing—worse than nothing, since it is a tissue of false
deductions! What opinion have you formed from the facts elicited by the
coroner’s inquest?”

“Sir, I can not form any.”

“What do you think of the guilt or innocence of the accused girl, Eudora

“Oh, sir, I dare not think of that at all, the subject is so painful to

“You think her guilty then?”

“I would to Heaven that I could believe her innocent, for I loved her.
Oh, my father, she always looked kindly toward me, and in my loneliness
I loved her,” said Alma, in a broken voice.

“Believe her innocent, then, for she is so,” said Hollis Elverton, with
solemn earnestness.

“Oh, my dear father! Is this really true? Is my poor Eudora innocent?
Oh, prove that her soul is guiltless of this great crime, and I shall
not break my heart—no—not even if she dies for it!” cried Alma, starting
up, seizing his hand, and gazing eagerly into his face.

It was the first time their hands had met; and Hollis Elverton
shudderingly shook off her grasp, as he answered:

“Yes, it is true.”

“Are you sure of it?”

“As sure of it as I can be of anything on earth.”

“How do you know it? What do you know of it?”

“I know that Eudora Leaton is innocent, and I know who is guilty.”

“Oh, my father! can you prove this? will you prove this?”

“Ah! Alma, moral certainty is not legal evidence! I repeat, I know
Eudora Leaton to be innocent, and I know who is guilty; but I have no
means as yet to prove the guilt of the one or the innocence of the
other. But, Alma, you are the well-wisher of the accused girl?”

“Oh, yes; oh, yes.”

“And you will take my word for her innocence?”

“Oh, yes! it is easy to have faith in what we wish to believe.”

“Then you must become my agent in doing all that may be done for this
most innocent, injured, and unhappy girl.”

“Willingly, my father.”

“Listen, then:—Although Eudora Leaton is heiress to one of the largest
estates in this county, yet, being a minor, and a ward in chancery, I
doubt she is without ready money to retain proper counsel for her
defence; and her only friend, her affianced husband, Mr. Malcolm
Montrose, is, I fear, as poor as herself, having nothing but a small
income from his Highland place. And it is highly desirable that she
should have the very best counsel to be procured for money; for it is
said that the Attorney-General himself will come from London to conduct
this very important case. Therefore, Alma, as I have a vital interest in
the acquittal of this innocent girl, and the conviction, if possible, of
the guilty person, I must entrust you with this money. Take it, and find
means to-morrow to place it either in the hands of Malcolm Montrose, or
in those of Eudora Leaton; and say to either with whom you may leave it,
that it is furnished by a friend who believes in her innocence, and that
it is intended to be devoted to her defence,” said Hollis Elverton,
placing bank-notes for a very large amount in Alma’s hands.

“I will take it to Miss Leaton herself, dear father; I can do so very
well, as no one ever inquires how I spend my days.”

“Poor girl! so much greater the need that you should learn to govern
yourself, since there is none to govern you. But do my errand to Eudora
Leaton. Tell her to keep up her spirits, hope for the best, and trust in
God! Tell her that she has her own consciousness of innocence to support
her, one unknown friend working for her, and a just Providence watching
over her!”

“I will faithfully deliver your message, my father.”

“But not as coming from me! Remember, girl, you are never to breathe my
name, or hint my existence to anyone whomsoever! All the world but you
believe me dead; leave them in that illusion.”

“Dear father, pardon me, but the illusion is yours. The world does not
believe you dead. There was a report of your death, and an annonymous
letter reached us from St. Petersburg announcing the supposed fact; but
after the most careful investigation, my mother came to the conclusion
that it was some one else of the same or a similar name, and——.”

“She was happier for the hope that it might be true, however, as I
intended that she should be,” said Hollis Elverton, gravely.

Alma did not reply to this strange observation. She could not bear to
acknowledge that her mother had been happier for this hope.

“But the _ruse_ did not fully succeed, since it did not convince her of
my decease; since the death of H. Elverton, the American stranger, who
died at St. Petersburg did not pass quite current with her for mine.
Nevertheless, she is the better for the hope that, after all, it may be
mine. Leave her to the enjoyment of that saving hope, which must
strengthen every year until it becomes a certainty?”

“Oh, my father,” said Alma, bowing her burning face upon her hands,
while the tears stole through her fingers, “these cruel words pierce my
heart like daggers. You say you loved each other as man and woman seldom
love, and that you severed without a fault on either side. Oh, why then,
even if you must be parted, why should you wish her to believe you
dead—and why should she be happier in that belief? Would _you_ be
happier if she were dead?”

“I should; for it would be well, Alma.”

“And if I, also, were dead?”

“It would be better, still, Alma!”

“And if you were?”

“Best of all!”

“Oh, this is fearful! I remember, too, overhearing it said that, when in
childhood, I was ill, and in great danger, my mother’s mournful face was
lighted up as by a wild hope; but that when I recovered and got well, it
sank back to its habitual look of dull despair! Oh, this is dreadful!
Why is it that the life of each one of us is a curse to the others, or
that the death of either would be a blessing to the rest?” cried Alma,

“Because a living sorrow is far harder to bear than a dead one! because
we are each of us a living sorrow to the others?” said Hollis Elverton,

“Oh! this is terrible! But why is it best that we _all_ should die—I in
my youth, you and her in your prime of life, prematurely as though we
were not fit to cumber the earth?”

“Because we _are not_ fit to cumber the earth—the dust should hide us!”
cried Hollis Elverton, with such a sudden change of voice and manner,
such a savage energy of tone and gesture, such a fierce gathering of the
brows, glare of the eyes, and writhing of the lips, that his daughter,
looking up at him, suddenly shrieked aloud, and covered her face with
her hands, for she feared she was in the presence of a madman, if not
even in the power of a demoniac.

“Alma,” he continued, sternly and pitilessly, in despite of her
condition, “this horrifies you; yet, though the words should kill you, I
repeat them—it is better that we should die, and return to dust!”

“He wishes indeed to kill me when he uses such awful words,” thought the
shuddering girl, as she shrank more and more into herself, and cowered
nearer and nearer to the ground.

“Alma, there is a misfortune so unnatural that it has been forever
nameless in all languages; so degrading that it infects with a worse
than moral leprosy all connected with it; so fatal, that nothing but the
death of the victim can cure it; nothing but the resolution of the body
into its original elements, and its resurrection in another form of
being, and into another sphere of life can regenerate it! Alma, such a
dire misfortune was mine, and hers, and yours!”

“Oh, this is horrible—most horrible! But what is it, then? Give the
fatality some name,” cried Alma, distractedly.

“I told you it was nameless, but not cureless; for death is the certain
remedy. Therefore, die, Alma, die!”

“Father, I am called a Christian, though most unworthy of the name; and
nothing on earth would induce me to cast away my Maker’s gift of life.”

“Nor do I mean that, either! For though hoping, longing, praying for our
deaths, I would not lay sacrilegious hands on my life, hers, or yours;
for murder and suicide are crimes of the deepest dye, and I would not
burden my soul with even a venial sin; yet, Alma, die if you can!”

“Oh, Heaven! I do not know what you mean, my father.”

“Why, this. If ever you are ill again, do not call in a physician, do
not take medicine, do not use any means to keep off the death that may
come to you naturally, easily, kindly, as an angel of mercy. Promise me

“No, my father, I cannot. For not only does my conscience forbid me to
destroy my own life, but it commands me to do all I can to preserve it;
and I would no more be guilty of negative than of positive suicide,”
said Alma, firmly, though mournfully.

“Then life, worse than death, must be on your head! You are warned! But
remember, you who prize this earthly life so highly, do not deprive your
mother of the comfort she finds in the supposition of my death by the
remotest hint of my existence,” reiterated Hollis Elverton, earnestly.

“Father, you have my promise, and you may rely upon it. But, sir, there
is one of whom neither you nor I have yet spoken, one whom we should
both consider—one, indeed, who is much to be pitied in his widowed,
childless and desolate old age. I mean your aged parent, my grandfather,
Lord Elverton. Surely he at least would rejoice to hear that his only
son still lives! and if necessary, he would keep your counsel as
faithfully as I shall. Will you not communicate with him and comfort his
aged heart with the news of your continued life?”

“NEVER!” broke forth Hollis Elverton, in a fury, that again frightened
his gentle daughter almost into a swoon. “I have no father; I know
nothing of your grandfather! and never, in this world, in Hades, or in
Heaven, will I see, speak to, or acknowledge Lord Elverton again! Never!
so save me, Heaven, in my utmost strait!”

“Oh, sir, he is your father! do not speak of him so bitterly!” faltered

“Girl! I told you a few moments since that there were misfortunes so
monstrous as to be nameless; so shameful as to be contagious; so fatal
as to be cureless except by death! and now I add to that, there are sins
so great as to burst asunder all ties of kindred, destroy all the
sympathies of humanity, and invalidate all obligations of duty! Ask me
no more questions, for I find that you are willing the very spirit from
my bosom! but answer me this: since the fatal night that drove me from
my home forever, has that old man ever ventured to cross the threshold
of Edenlawn?”

“But once, my father; but once, as I truly believe. I have never seen
him there, but I heard that, within a few weeks after your flight and my
birth, he came to Edenlawn late one afternoon, and was closeted with my
mother in the library for an hour, at the end of which he came out, and
without taking any refreshment—”

“Ha! a morsel swallowed in that house must have choked him!” interrupted

“Or even looking at his poor little grand-daughter—”

“The sight of her must have blasted him, as that of the Medusa’s head
was said to blast those who dared to look upon it,” again burst forth

“He hastened from the house, which he has never entered since.”

“For he had better walk on red-hot plough-shares than tread the
paving-stones of those halls!” exclaimed Elverton, fiercely.

Then, after a few minutes’ silence, he inquired:

“What have you heard of him since?”

“Nothing, my father, except this significant fact, that, within one
fortnight after his fatal visit, his nut-brown hair turned as white as

“No doubt, no doubt, but will his scarlet sin ever be so white?—can time
or sorrow or repentance bleach that?” muttered Elverton, speaking rather
to himself than to his daughter.

Alma did not at once reply; a feeling of deep humiliation kept her
silent for awhile, and then a sense of religious duty urged her at last
to say:

“I know not of what sin you speak, my father: but this I have—Scripture
warrant for believing that, though the sin be ‘as scarlet,’ it may be
made, by repentance, as ‘white as snow.’”

“Let him settle it with Heaven then, as he must ere very long! but as
for _me_—let me never see his face again! Come, child, our interview is
over. Arise and walk on; I will follow you until I see you in sight of
the north gate, and then leave you,” said Hollis Elverton, stepping
aside to give her the path and then going after her.

They went up the narrow wooded path in silence. When they reached the
top of the hill, and came in sight of the north gate, Mr. Elverton
paused, and said:

“I need go no further; hurry home; but meet me here an hour earlier than
this to-morrow evening. Good-night.”

“Good-night, my father,” said Alma, extending her hands imploringly
towards him.

But he shook his head, waved his hand, plunged into the wood, and was
soon lost to her view.

She looked wistfully after him for a little while, and then turned
slowly, and with downcast eyes, to walk towards the house.

The full moon was shining broadly on her path, when suddenly its light
was intercepted.

Alma raised her eyes to see the tall, dark figure of Captain Montrose
standing before her, with folded arms, frowning brows, and scornful

We have observed before this that Norham Montrose, in mould of form and
cast of features, was the very counterpart of his elder brother, but in
every other respect he was as different from him as the night from the
day. Malcolm, it may be remembered, was as fair as a Dane, with light
hair, blue eyes, and a sanguine complexion; he was also frank, generous,
and confiding. Norham, on the contrary, was as dark as a Spaniard, with
raven-black hair and burning black eyes; he was, besides, reserved,
jealous, and suspicious.

Alma, conscious of these darker traits in his character, fearing their
effects upon himself and her, yet loving him despite of danger, shivered
with the presentiment of coming evil when she saw him standing before
her so silent, still, and stern.

“Norham,” she faltered faintly.

“I beg your pardon, Miss Elverton; I hope I have not prematurely
interrupted a pleasant _tête-a-tête_,” he replied, sarcastically, his
black eyes flashing and his proud lip curling.

Alma understood all now. He had seen her father walking with her in the
wood, and had mistaken Hollis Elverton for a favored suitor. And Alma,
bound by her promise, dared not explain the circumstance, and under such
conditions could not hope to reassure her jealous lover. A consciousness
of her false position bowed her fair head upon her bosom, dyed her
delicate cheek with blushes, and invested her whole manner with the
appearance of conscious guilt. Her heart sank within her bosom, and she
could not reply.

He looked at her for a moment in scorn and anger—the fierce scorn and
anger of wounded love and jealousy, and then saying—“I will no longer
intrude upon your privacy, Miss Elverton; good evening,” he lifted his
hat, turned upon his heel, and strode away.

“Stay, stay, Norham; do not leave me in a fatal error!” cried Alma,
breaking the spell that had bound her faculties, and springing forward.

He paused and looked wistfully towards her for a moment, then strode
back to her side, and answered, still very haughtily:

“I beg your pardon, Miss Elverton, if I have wronged you even in my
thoughts, but our mutual relations assuredly warrant me in feeling some
surprise and displeasure at finding you in these woods, walking with a
strange man as you have so often walked with me, and certainly justify
me in demanding some explanation of so strange a proceeding on your

“And because I have been so indiscreet as to wander here with you, do
you really suppose that I could be so faultless as to walk here with
another?” said Alma, in a mournful voice.

“I have assuredly very good reason to think so,” replied Norham,

“Yes, it is true; by coming here to meet you I have given you good
reason for thinking me capable of any degree of indiscretion,” said
Alma, with sorrowful self-humiliation.

“Miss Elverton, I meant not that, as you know very well; I meant not to
reproach you with your innocent rambles with me, your betrothed husband,
who would die rather than offer you any offence. ‘The good reason’ which
I have for thinking that you favor others is the evidence of my own
senses. I _saw_ you, Miss Elverton, walking here in close conversation
with a stranger; and your answer appears to me very like a mere evasion
of the explanation I must still demand,” he said, haughtily, keeping his
stern eyes fixed upon her face with the look of a man having authority
to arraign her conduct.

What explanation could poor Alma give? How could she answer his doubts?
How soothe his jealousy? She dropped her clasped hands, and moaned with

“I wait your answer, Miss Elverton.”

Alma wrung her hands and remained silent.

“When I was about to withdraw from your presence you recalled me; if not
to volunteer the explanation that I seek, will you be kind enough to say
for what other purpose?”

“Oh, Norham, be patient! do not misconceive me! I called you back to say
to you that—that—”


“I came to the woods this afternoon in the hope of seeing you and
speaking with you after so long an absence.”

“And met instead the lover that consoled you during my absence; but of
whom perhaps you are tired now—that was very awkward while you were
expecting to see me. Pray, Miss Elverton, have you given him also the
promise of your hand as soon as you shall be of age and free to bestow
it?” sneered the man.

“Oh, Norham! Norham! do not be so unjust to me! The person that I met
this afternoon is no lover of mine; quite, quite the contrary! He is one
who never could, under any possible circumstances, become one.”

“And yet you were in very close confabulation when I first observed you.
It really looked to me like an interview between very intimate friends.”

“And yet, indeed, I never set eyes on that person in all my life

“You never set eyes on him before?” repeated Norham Montrose, in

“On my word, on my honor, on my _soul_, no!” replied Alma, with vehement

“Who was he then?” inquired Norham Montrose, as the dark scowl of
jealousy vanished from his brow.

Alma hesitated, reflected a moment, and then answered:

“He was an elderly gentleman, not familiar with this part of the
country, I believe.”

“What was his name?”

“I did not ask his name, of course; and neither do I think that he told
me; nay, indeed, I am sure that he did not.”

“Or if he did, you have forgotten it, perhaps. But what was he, then?”

“I did not ask him that question either, nor did he volunteer the

“But from your own observation, what did you make of him?”

“An elderly gentleman, who seemed to be recently arrived in this

“And that was all?”

Alma bowed.

“Some tourist come to the North for the summer months, and rambling over
these hills in search of the picturesque,” concluded Norham, in a tone
of complete satisfaction.

Alma dropped her head, blushed deeply, and burst into tears of shame.

She had not spoken one word of falsehood, and yet her truthful replies
had been so carefully worded as to deceive her lover, and Alma could not
endure the thought of deception.

Norham Montrose mistook the cause of her emotion, and quick to repent as
he had been to offend, he looked at her sweet suffering face for a
moment, then approached, and dropped gently on his knee before her, and
taking her hand, murmured:

“Dear Alma, I cannot bend too low to sue for your forgiveness; I have
wronged and offended you by my mad jealousy. I have been unjust,
unmanly. I am deeply grieved and mortified to think of it now. Alma,
will you pardon me?”

“Dear Norham, I have nothing to pardon in you; but much, very much to
thank and love you for. Please rise,” she answered, in a gentle voice,
as she closed her hand upon his, and tried to lift him up.

“I have been rude and violent to you, my gentle one.”

“Only for a few moments, while for months and months you have been kind
and loving.”

“But I have wounded your delicacy, wrung your heart!”

“Well, when I have received so much good from you, shall I not receive a
little necessary evil too? Can I have the rose of Love without its
inevitable thorn of Jealousy? Pray rise.”

“Gentlest of all gentle girls, I do indeed believe that it would be
easier to wound than offend you, and far easier to wrong than to
estrange your heart,” said Norham, rising to his feet, and pressing her
hand to his lips.

“It would indeed be most difficult for you to offend me, and quite
impossible to estrange me. For even if you were to cease to love me—”

She paused, and a deep blush overspread her face.

“My own heart must first cease to beat—nay, my own soul to exist, ere I
cease to love you, Alma; for my love seems the most immortal element in
my immortality! Do you not believe me?” said Norham, fervently.

“Yes, I do. And trust in me also, Norham; nor for _my_ sake, for, as I
said before, I am willing to take the pain with the joy, but for your
own, dear Norham, for it must be so distressing to suspect one that you
love. And oh, Norham! consider how little cause you have to doubt me. I
am not as other young ladies who have many friends and relatives to love
them. I have but you only in the wide, wide world! Did I ever tell you
before, Norham, that I never in my life received a caress, a word, or a
glance of affection from any human creature until I met you? My very
soul seemed perishing in its solitude, when your sympathy and affection
came to me as the dew and the sunshine to a fading flower. You loved me
and won my love! You gave me new life! Oh, is it likely, is it even
possible, that my heart should ever swerve in its allegiance to its

“I will never doubt you again! I was a wretch to have doubted you then!
Dear one, I have been so occupied with my own selfish jealousy, that I
have not even inquired—how have you been during the months of my long

“Just as always. Life passes with me in such monotony, that the changes
of the weather are all that I know.”

“While others, your nearest neighbors, have experienced such fearful
vicissitudes of fortune that their daily lives have passed more like the
successive acts in some dark tragedy, than scenes in a real existence!
My uncle’s family at Allworth Abbey! Oh, heaven, Alma! what a fatality
was there! The whole family swept from the face of the earth in a few
short months!”

“Alas, yes; Oh, Norham, you must know how deeply I sympathize with you
in this great sorrow! I should have said so before, but your own
personal trouble engaged all my attention.”

“My abominable jealousy, you should say; but let that pass. Alma, I was
not as intimate as my brother Malcolm was with my uncle’s family; and if
they had all gone off in a natural way, by a visitation of Providence,
as it is called, I should not have grieved more for them than men
usually grieve for uncles, aunts and cousins. But to think that they
should have been destroyed by a fiend in the shape of a girl—” said
Norham, shuddering.

“Ah! to whom do you refer?” inquired Alma.

“To whom, but to that serpent whom they warmed at their hearth-stone
until she had life enough to sting them to death! To whom but to that
Indian cobra, Eudora Leaton? Eudora Leaton, a name destined to become
notorious with those of Borgia, Brinvilliers and Lafarge!”

“You feel certain of her guilt, then?”

“Certain? Yes! Would it were not so! would that there were a rational
doubt of it! For if there were I should dare to hope that, though the
old House should become extinct, it need not die in blood and shame!”
said Norham Montrose, bitterly.

“Then why not entertain that hope! There is nothing but circumstantial
evidence against Eudora Leaton, and such evidence is proverbially

“It cannot be in this case. The evidence is complete, conclusive,
convicting! No one can doubt that the issue of her trial will be
condemnation to death. And all that I have left to hope is, that the
last Leaton of Allworth will have the grace to die by her own hand in
the prison, rather than become a spectacle to the gaping crowd.”

“But, Norham, _I_ do not think that she is guilty, and I pray and hope
and trust that she may be proved innocent, as from my soul I believe her
to be!”

“That is because you cannot conceive iniquity like hers, as Heaven
forbid you should, sweet saint! And now, dear Alma, you must leave me,
and go home immediately. In my selfish love, I have wronged you in
keeping you out so late. And now, to atone for that injury, I must tell
you something that, in your innocence, you would never find out
yourself—something that will effectually arm you against me—”

“Then do not tell me at all! For if it is anything innocence could not
of itself discover, be sure it is not worth discovering. And as to its
arming me against you, dear Norham, I cannot consider you an enemy, and
therefore do not wish to be armed.”

“Yet, nevertheless, I will arm you with this knowledge of the world,
which you may use, abuse, or neglect at your pleasure. Listen, then,
dear Alma. Even these meetings that you accord me are so heterodox to
all conventionality, that were they known they would seriously
compromise your good name, and nothing, Alma, but our full sincerity of
purpose to marry, as soon as you shall become of age, could justify
these interviews. But, Alma, not even our betrothal will warrant you in
remaining out here with me after sunset. Alma, I tell you this, that
your own mother should have told you, because, dear one, I would not
take the very least advantage of your inexperience. Therefore, dear
Alma, never in future yield even to my persuasions to detain you out
here after sunset. Thus, you see, while my better spirit is in the
ascendant, I would warn you, arm you even against myself!”

“You are the soul of honor! If I had not known it before, I should know
it now! Good-night,” said Alma, in a low voice.

“One more caution in parting, love! It is not usual, or even safe, for
young ladies to talk with strangers whom they may casually meet in their
walks. Therefore, Alma, I must pray you that the scene of this afternoon
may never be repeated, and entreat you to promise me never again to fall
into conversation with any stranger whom you may meet in your rambles.”

Norham Montrose paused and waited for her answer.

Alma hesitated for a moment, and then replied:

“I promise you, Norham, never to hold conversation with any one in my
walks except yourself, or some blood relation of my own, or some servant
of our family. I think that my promise covers the whole ground!”

“It does, it does, dear Alma. Good-night. Meet me here to-morrow
afternoon, somewhat earlier than this—two hours earlier—at about six
o’clock. Until then, good-bye, dearest Alma.”

And before she could reply, or object to the hour named, he raised her
hand to his lips, bowed, and disappeared in the depths of the woods.

She remained for an instant transfixed with consternation at the thought
that he had unconsciously appointed for their next interview the very
spot and the very hour at which she had promised to meet her father.

Her first impulse was to fly after Norham, call him back, and name
another afternoon, but the fear of again arousing his jealous suspicions
restrained her. A little reflection also convinced her that, though she
might defer the meeting, she could not prevent Norham from haunting the
wood to be near her. How to deliver herself from this dilemma, how to
escape from the dangers that threatened her, Alma understood not.

If she rendered herself at the appointed time and place she would find
herself confronted with her father and her lover.

If she broke her appointment and remained at home, Hollis Elverton and
Norham Montrose, coming thither at the same time to seek her, would be
confronted with each other.

What, in any case, would be the result Alma feared to think.

Full of distress and perplexity, she turned her steps homeward.

She entered the house just as the hall-clock was striking eight.

“Mees Alma, I been seeking for you all over ze house. Miladie, your
movver, desire you come to her direct,” said old Madelon, meeting Miss
Elverton at the foot of the great staircase.

“My mother! my mother sent for me! Are you very sure of this, Madelon?”
inquired Alma, in great surprise, for she had never in her life before
been summoned to her mother’s presence.

“Vat sood make me no sure? Miladie tell me, ‘Madelon, send Mees Elverton
to me soon as she come in from her valk in de garden,’” said the old

“Very well, Madelon; I will go to my mother directly,” replied Alma, as,
lost in astonishment, she hurried up the stairs towards those private
apartments into which she had never in her life been admitted, and where
she had never dared to intrude.

She paused before the door, and knocked softly.

The deep, rich, vibrating voice of the lady bade her enter.

Alma opened the door, crossed the enchanted threshold, and stood within
the heretofore prohibited apartments.

The room in which she found herself was one of the most lofty and
spacious in the mansion. It was the front one of a magnificent suite of
apartments, that had been splendidly fitted up for the first reception
of Mrs. Elverton as a bride. It was situated directly over the
drawing-room, and had a large bay window that commanded a view of the
terraced lawn and the beautiful lake. But that window was now closed,
and the room was lighted up for the night. It was sumptuously furnished.
A Turkey carpet of the most brilliant colors covered the floor. The
chiffoniers, stands, tables, chairs, and even all the frames and
woodwork were of rosewood and gold, giving the _tout ensemble_ a
peculiarly rich effect. The coverings of the chairs, footstools and
sofas were all of crimson satin and gold.

The curtains at the windows were also of crimson satin and gold, with
inner hangings of fine lace. The walls were lined with splendid mirrors,
reaching from ceiling to floor, and multiplying a hundred-fold the
scenery of the room. The whole was brilliantly lighted up by a
chandelier that hung from the centre of the ceiling.

In the midst of all this glitter of light and glow of color, in a
luxurious chair, beside an elegant table, sat a lady, who, under any
circumstances, or from any spectator, must at once have riveted the
closest attention.

She was apparently about thirty-five years of age, of tall,
justly-proportioned, stately figure, around which flowed the rich folds
of a crimson velvet robe. Her features were of the purest classic type.
Her complexion was deadly pale, in contrast with her large, dark eyes,
jet-black eyebrows, and raven-black hair, that lay in heavy shining
bands upon her marble cheeks.

“Come hither, Alma,” she said, in that rich, deep, luscious voice which
ever thrilled the bosom of all who heard it.

Alma approached and stood before her mother. Her heart beat fast; she
eagerly hoped for some demonstration of affection on the part of the
lady. Vain hope!

Mrs. Elverton took from the table beside her a sealed packet, and
holding it in her hand while she spoke, she said:

“Alma, I have sent for you to entrust you with a secret mission, to
which I think you will be faithful.”

“Oh, mamma, how happy you make me by trusting me! Oh, yes, I would be
faithful unto death in any matter you should confide in me!” said Alma

“Enough. I believe you. To come to the point. I have just heard that
that unhappy girl has been re-arrested and committed to prison. I have
the strongest reasons for believing her to be innocent, though in great
peril. These, my private reasons, it is not necessary to divulge, since
they would have no weight with judge or jury. But I have the deepest
interest in the acquittal of that girl, and in the discovery, if
possible, of the real criminal. I fear that though a wealthy heiress,
Eudora Leaton is without available funds to engage the best counsel,
which is always very expensive. Therefore, Alma, I wish you, to-morrow
morning, to take the close carriage, drive over to the prison, and place
this packet in Eudora Leaton’s hands. Tell her it is to be used in her
defence, and is sent by one who has as deep a stake in her trial as she
has herself. But do not tell her from whom it came. Do you understand
me?” said the lady, placing the package in the hands of her daughter.

“Yes mamma, and I will faithfully do your errand.”

“Go, then.”

“Mamma, will you not embrace me for this once in our lives?” pleaded
Alma, holding out her arms.

“Go! go! go! go, girl, and leave me. Is this the advantage you would
take of the very first visit I permit you to my presence?” exclaimed the
lady, excitedly.

“Mamma, pardon me, I go; good-night,” said Alma, resignedly, as she
withdrew from the splendid misery of her mother’s private apartments.

She retired to her own chamber, full of wonder that her parents should
be unconsciously so unanimous in their anxiety for Eudora Leaton’s
acquittal, and that she should be the confidant of this unsuspected

                              CHAPTER XIX.
                           “TRUST IN HEAVEN.”

                  “Dearest hopes and joys may perish—
                          Lost in an hour;
                  All the love the heart can cherish
                          May lose its power!
                  But when the storms gather o’er thee
                          Do not despair,
                  Heaven can ever joy restore thee
                          Still pure and fair.”

Early in the morning Eudora arose from her sleepless bed. With the aid
of the rude basin and jug of water and coarse towel that had been placed
on the rough deal stand by Mrs. Barton the night previous, Eudora made
her simple toilet.

And next, with the love of order and neatness which characterizes every
true woman under all the circumstances of life, she made up the little
bed and arranged the narrow cell. But oh! with what a heavy, aching
heart, and what an ever present sense of the awful danger before her!

Finally, she knelt and offered up her usual morning prayers, and then
sat down, in forced idleness, to endure the dull pain of merely living

She had not sat long thus, before the little square opening at the top
of her door was darkened by the face of the female warder, and the next
instant Mrs. Barton unlocked the door and entered the cell, saying:

“I peeped in first to see if you were asleep, for if you had been, Miss,
it isn’t I as would ha’ disturbed you; seeing as sleep is such a
blessing to them as is in trouble, it is a’most a sin to wake ’em. But
laws, Miss, you needn’t ha’ took the pains to do the cell yourself,
’cause I could ha’ done it.”

“I thank you, it cost me little pains; besides, occupation is almost as
great a blessing as sleep to persons in my unhappy circumstances,”
replied Eudora.

“And that’s true, too; I know by myself! for well I remember when my two
poor sailor-lads were lost in the Great Western steamship as went down
with all on board—and I a lone widder-woman—I should ha’ just gone
raving mad, if so be I hadn’t been obliged to work so hard all day that
I slept sound all night. And so, between hard work and sound sleep, I
lived through it.”

“Is your post such a hard one?” inquired the poor young prisoner, taking
an immediate interest in the kind-hearted, childless widow.

“Laws, no, Miss, but I wasn’t here then, no, nor for a year afterwards.
Bless you, Miss, I was in the laundry line o’ business; but being of one
of your grandfather, the _old_ Lord Leaton’s tenants, your father, Mr.
Charles, took pity on me, and spoke to Mr. Anderson, as was under
obligations to him, to give me this place. It isn’t no ways hard on
_me_, whatsoever it may be to them as I have to ’tend to. But it’s been
a teaching to me, Miss, for since here I’ve been, I’ve seen other people
in so much deeper sorrow than any that mere death can cause, that I ha’
been ashamed to grieve out of reason for my own troubles, and I ha’
thought, i’ the name o’ the Lord, it wer’ perhaps all for the best, for
if my poor fatherless lads had lived, they might ha’ been led wrong and
brought here, and that would ha’ killed me outright!—I beg your pardon,
Miss!” said the woman, suddenly stopping and reddening at the thought of
the unkindness of speech into which her thoughts had hurried her, “I beg
your pardon, for I know that some come here without deserving it.”

“And I came here without any fault of mine! Oh, believe it! You knew and
honored my father! Oh, for his sake believe that his only child did
not—could not—commit the dreadful crimes falsely charged upon her!” said
Eudora, earnestly, clasping her hands, and throwing her glance, full of
impassioned truthfulness, up to the woman’s face.

“And ’spite of the evidence, I don’t think you did, Miss; for being of
your father’s daughter, it don’t stand to reason as you could.”

“It was all because I was the sole attendant of—”

“Miss, Miss, you mustn’t talk of your business to me nor to anyone else,
except your lawyer, for fear o’ letting out something as might be
brought against you on your trial,” interrupted Mrs. Barton.

“What, not to you, who were my father’s friend, and are mine?” asked
Eudora, in surprise.

“No, Miss, ’cause how do I know! they might even pull me up for a
witness; best be cautious.”

“But I am guiltless, and being so, how can I say anything to injure my

“I dunnot know, Miss; but they do tell as how you let out many things
afore the Squire as had better been kept in.”

“I spoke only the truth of what I had done; and I had done only what was
right. The whole world was welcome to know it, and I do not see how it
could hurt me.”

“Yes, Miss, but then the best of truth do get so turned upside down and
wrong side out by them lawyers, as you couldn’t tell it from the worst
of falsehoods; and so, if so be you can’t say anything to clear
yourself, best keep a still tongue in your head. But depend upon this,
Miss—as Sarah Barton will do everything she lawfully can do to help and
comfort your father’s daughter.”

“I thank you from a full heart! Oh, my dear father! little did you
think, in providing for a poor widow, you were raising up a friend for
your unhappy daughter in her bitterest extremity!” exclaimed Eudora,
with emotion, as she grasped the hard hand of the woman.

“The ways of Providence are strange,” said the good woman, musingly.

“They are,” echoed poor Eudora, thinking of the strange fate that had
cast her into prison.

“And now, Miss, as the gov’ner’s family are about to sit down to
breakfast, I will go and bring yours from his own table, same as I
brought your supper.”

“Are all the prisoners supplied from the governor’s table?”

“Lawk, no, Miss! quite the reverse! You didn’t happen to think the
prisoners all got lamb chop and port wine for their supper, such as I
brought you last night?”

“Why, no, and that was the reason why I asked you. But do all the women,

“Lawk, no, Miss! quite the reverse, as I said before.”

“Then, why am I so supplied?”

“Why, Miss, you see, it’s a—it’s another affair altogether with you.”

“Then understand that I want no privilege that is not shared by the
humblest of my fellow prisoners—no favor, in short.”

“Well, Miss, for the matter of that, it is not an unlawful privilege,
seeing as how the gov’ner sartinly has the right to send meals from his
own table to any one he likes—and as for favor, Miss, it’s a favor for
you to accept any lawful services as he is free to render you, seeing as
how he is under such everlasting obligations to you and your’n as he can
never repay.”

“Not to me—not to me—I never saw or heard of the man before I was
brought hither.”

“Well, to your honored father, then! And though the old saying says that
‘favor is no inheritance,’ I say it ought to be! And so the best service
as Mr. Anderson can do you won’t be too much for your father’s

“Think as you will about that; but I had rather not fare better than my

“Neither will you, Miss, though you should have better than the best as
the gov’ner’s house could afford.”

“I do not understand you,” said Eudora, in surprise.

“Harry, come up! I’ll explain!” answered the woman. “You must know that
the best Master Anderson can send you is not half so good as what you
have been used to; and the worst prison fare as is sent to the others is
a deal better than ever they’ve had outside. Consequently, all things
considered, you fare worse, and not better than the rest,” said Mrs.
Barton, triumphantly.

“Your ingenious sophistry does not convince me.”

“Then I’ll tell you what must—the gov’ner’s orders; and he—under the
higher authorities, you know—is paramount here. He commands me to serve
you from the best upon his own table, and I must obey.”

“Just as you please; I thank you both; but it really makes no difference
to me what I eat or drink,” said Eudora, dejectedly.

“Reckon it would, though, if you knew what sort of food we sarve out to
the others,” thought Mrs. Barton as she left the cell and locked the
door after her.

The grating of that lock! How it always jarred upon the nerves of the
sensitive girl! After an absence of about fifteen minutes, Mrs. Barton
returned, bearing a tray upon which was neatly arranged a breakfast of
coffee, toast, ham, and poached eggs.

Nature! wise mother!—you never suffer any degree of mental anguish to
utterly destroy the appetite of the young. A minute before the entrance
of the tray the hapless girl thought she could not eat; but a minute
after, the savory smell of the well-chosen breakfast assailed her
senses, creating hunger, notwithstanding all her grief, anxiety, and
terror. The gossip of the good-natured Mrs. Barton seasoned the repast;
and at the end of half an hour our poor Eudora had made a good and
refreshing meal, for which she felt all the better.

“And now, then, what can I bring you to pass away the time with, until
some of your friends call?” said Mrs. Barton.

“A pocket Bible if you please; nothing more.”

“But lor’, Miss, that’s very solemn sort of study for week-a-days;
hadn’t you better have something funny, as would liven you up like?”

“There are times when no book but _the one_ can be read,” said Eudora.

“Very well, Miss; to be sure you shall have it,” replied the woman,
taking the tray and retiring.

An hour afterward, while Eudora was engaged in seeking to draw comfort
and strength from the pages of the blessed volume, the cell door was
opened and a veiled lady was ushered in by Miss Barton, who immediately
re-locked the door and withdrew.

Eudora arose in surprise to receive this unexpected visitor.

The lady threw aside her veil, and revealed the features of Alma

“Miss Elverton! Is it possible! You here?” exclaimed Eudora, in

“Yes, dear; but why do you speak to me so formally? Why do you not call
me Alma, as you used to do?” inquired the visitor, taking the hand and
kissing the cheek of the prisoner.

“Why? Oh, that was so long ago!” sighed Eudora.

“But two weeks.”

“No longer? It seems an age; but then so many things have happened

“None that can estrange us, I hope, Eudora?”

“You think me innocent, then?”

“Yes,” replied the visitor, seating herself on the side of the cot-bed.

“And so you come to see me. Oh, that is very good in you.”

“I come also to serve you. I come as the messenger of two friends, who
wish for the present to remain unknown, but who feel such a personal
interest in your acquittal that they send you this sum of money, and beg
that you will accept it as a loan, to be devoted to the purpose of
feeing counsel for your defence,” said Alma, placing the roll of
bank-notes in her hand.

“But this is very strange,” remarked Eudora, hesitating to retain the

“And is not your presence in this place very strange? And is not
everything that has happened to you for the last two weeks equally

“Oh, yes, yes; so strange that it sometimes seems to me to be unreal; as
though I were dead and sleeping in my grave, and dreaming this dreadful
dream,” replied Eudora, with a shudder.

“Then take one incident of the dream with another.”

“But this money? I may never be able to repay it.”

“Then repayment will never be demanded. Those who have sent you the
funds direct me to say that they have a personal and strictly selfish
interest in your acquittal as well as in the apprehension of the real

“Thank Heaven that there are some, at least, who believe me free from
this great sin!”

“There are many; but as the mere belief in your innocence would do you
but little good with judge or jury, it is necessary that they assist you
in every practical way.”

“But who are those friends that have sent me this assistance?”

“I must not tell more than I have already told—that they are those who
have a deep interest in the acquittal of the innocent and the
crimination of the guilty.”

“But what sort of an interest?”

“I may not tell you more than that it is of so selfish a nature as to
justify you in accepting all the assistance they can render you for
their own sakes without feeling under any obligation to them whatever.”

“That will be difficult—indeed, impossible; for I must feel very, very
grateful to these unknown benefactors,” said Eudora, no longer refusing
the gift, but accepting it with mixed feelings of gratitude and

Alma would have remained longer, but the footsteps of several persons
were heard approaching, and the door was unlocked, and Mr. Montrose,
accompanied by a strange gentleman, was ushered in by the gaoler.

Alma hastily kissed Eudora, bade her be of good cheer, dropped her thick
veil over her face, and hurried from the cell, to return home, and keep
her dangerous appointment with her father.

“Miss Leaton, I have brought down Mr. Fenton, who is here to consult
with us upon your case,” said Mr. Montrose, presenting the lawyer.

The lawyer bowed, and the lady courtesied, just as if the introduction
had taken place in the drawing-room.

Eudora took her seat upon the side of the cot, and offered the stranger
the only chair, which he took. Malcolm Montrose seated himself upon the
little table, and the consultation began.

“This is Wednesday. The assizes open on Monday. Can you procure us a
copy of the docket, my good friend?” said Mr. Fenton, addressing the
governor, who lingered at the door.

“I think I can, sir,” replied that officer, hurrying away for the
purpose. He returned in a short time, bringing with him the required
document, which he placed in the hands of the lawyer.

“‘Queen _versus_ Goffe, poaching;’ ‘Queen _versus_ Hetton, assault, &c.’
‘Queen—um—um—um,’” read the lawyer, running his eyes down the list,
until he came to a line where he exclaimed:

“Here we are the seventh case on the docket—‘Queen _versus_ Leaton.’ The
cases that precede ours are trifling, and will soon be disposed of. Ours
will come on, I should judge, about Wednesday morning—this day week; so
there is plenty of time to prepare the defence. Have you a copy of the
evidence given at the coroner’s inquest?” said the lawyer, turning to
Mr. Montrose.

Malcolm drew from his pocket two papers, and handing them to Mr. Fenton,

“Here, in this first paper, is the report of the inquest that sat upon
the body of Lord Leaton, and in this second the report of the one that
sat upon those of Lady Leaton and Miss Leaton.”

“Yes,” said the lawyer, taking them, and settling himself to their
careful perusal.

In the course of his reading he marked three or four points, and at its
close he turned to his fair client, and said:

“You are aware, I hope, Miss Leaton, that you should be perfectly frank
with me, and that you can be so with perfect safety. In a word, it is
absolutely indispensable that a client should be as candid with her
counsel as a patient is with her physician.”

“Yes, I am aware of that; but really I have nothing to tell you, but
that I am wholly innocent of the dreadful crimes they impute to me.”

“I have made several notes here upon items of evidence that may be used
in our defence, and about which I wish to question you. In the first
place, then, in the evidence given by Lady Leaton before the first
coroner’s inquest, her ladyship testified that on the same night of her
husband’s sudden death, while the sleeping-draught stood on the stand
beside his bed, she being in her adjoining dressing-room, with the
communicating door open between them, heard the rustle of a woman’s silk
dress moving about, and saw the shadow of a woman’s form gliding along
the wall of her husband’s chamber. In the second place, the testimony of
the late Agatha Leaton proves that this unknown intruder could not have
been yourself, as you were at that very hour engaged in reading to her
in her own private apartment. Consequently, the midnight intruder who
stole secretly into Lord Leaton’s room, and dropped the fatal drug into
the sleeping-draught, must have been some other woman. Suspicion seems
to have fallen on no one else; but have not you, in your private
thought, some idea as to who this midnight poisoner really was?”

“Not the remotest in the world,” replied Eudora, in astonishment at the

“Humph—take time—reflect.”

“I have reflected, sir, but without effect.”

“Again, then,” said the lawyer, referring to his notes; “in your own
evidence given before the second inquest you testify that on the night
of your cousin’s sudden death, while watching beside her sick-bed, you
lost yourself in light slumber for a moment, but was almost immediately
awakened by the impression of some strange presence in the room, and
that, in the momentary interval between sleeping and waking, you saw, or
dreamed you saw, a dark-robed female figure glide through the room and
disappear in the communicating one; but that on arousing yourself, and
searching that room and the adjoining one, you found no trace of an
intruder. Now, what I wish to ask you is, whether you believe that you
really saw anyone in the sick-chamber at that hour or not?”

“I was so shocked and terrified, and grieved by the sudden death of my
cousin, that I could not then speak definitely as to whether I really
saw or only dreamed of that figure in the room; because the scene passed
on the instant of my waking up, and while my faculties were bewildered
by slumber. But since that night, every time I have thought of that
strange incident in my watch, I have become more and more firmly
convinced that what I saw was reality.”

“In a word, that there was a woman in Miss Leaton’s room that night?”

“Yes, I earnestly believe that there was.”

“And that this woman dropped the poison into the cooling drink prepared
for Miss Leaton?”

“Indeed I fear so; for when I saw the figure it was gliding away from
the mantelpiece where the jug of tamarind-water stood, towards the door
that opened into my own little room.”

“And might not that woman have put the poison into your drawers? And may
we not in that way account for its presence there?”

Eudora started violently, and turned deadly pale. The idea of such a
depth of wickedness never before had been presented to her mind; and now
it seemed to crush the very soul from her body.

“Because my theory of the case is, that the secret poisoner took
measures effectually to conceal her own crime and to fix it upon you.
And that is also the scheme of our defence.”

“Oh, Heaven of heavens! can a human being—can a _demon_ be so
atrociously wicked!” gasped Eudora, in a suffocating voice.

“Yes; a woman can be so. But reflect, and tell me, have you no possible
suspicion as to who this woman might have been?”

“No; I have not the remotest idea.”

“Well; in the first place, it must have been the same woman whose shadow
was seen by Lady Leaton on the wall of Lord Leaton’s chamber on the
night of his sudden death.”

“You think, then, that Lady Leaton’s impression of having seen such a
figure was correct?”

“I think so. Now, reflect once more, and tell me if you have no clue to
the identity of this woman?”

“Can nothing be done to ascertain who that woman is, if really guilty,
and fix the guilt upon her?” inquired Malcolm.

“Yes, much. But the first and most important thing to be done is to keep
perfectly silent regarding our suspicions, so that she may not be put
upon her guard. The next thing is to engage the services of two or three
experienced detectives, but that will be expensive.”

Malcolm’s face clouded at the remembrance of his limited resources.

But Eudora placed her roll of bank-notes in the lawyer’s hands, and

“Pray take from that parcel as much as may be needed for this service,
and hand over the remainder to Mr. Montrose.”

The lawyer drew out two fifty pound notes, and handed the balance to the
astonished Malcolm.

As that was not the proper time to tell the story of this mysterious
loan, Eudora merely looked at Malcolm and smiled, for now she _could_
smile, as the presence of the lawyer who came to defend her cheered her
spirits and raised her hopes, even as the face of the physician who
appears to cure animates and revives the sinking and dying patient.

The consultation was continued a little longer, and then the lawyer
gathered up his documents and withdrew to prepare his defence.

On taking leave, Malcolm found an opportunity of lingering behind for a
moment to look the question that he would not ask.

“Yes, the money was brought me by Alma Elverton, whom you must have
noticed here as you came in, though she immediately lowered her veil,
and withdrew,” said Eudora, replying to this mute inquiry just as
directly as though it had been made in words.

“I noticed a lady pass out, but did not recognize her as Miss Elverton.
And so it was Alma who lent us the money?”

“No; she was acting as the agent of those whose names she was forbidden
to mention, but who professed to have a personal and even selfish
interest in the acquittal of the innocent and the crimination of the
guilty. Was I right to accept this loan?”

“Perfectly. It was a godsend! but we must find out, if possible, who are
your benefactors. The knowledge may be of the greatest use in your
defence. And here is another piece of service to be rendered by our
detectives,” said Malcolm. Then, knowing that he must not linger longer,
he pressed the hand of his betrothed, and said:

“Farewell for the present, my dear Eudora. I will return and visit you
as often as I may be permitted to do so. In the meanwhile, may God be
with you.”

And so saying, he released her hand, and followed the lawyer from the

                              CHAPTER XX.
                          THE FEARFUL SECRET.

            “Our actions travel and are veiled; and yet
            We sometimes catch a fearful glimpse of one
            When out of sight its march hath well nigh gone,
            An unveiled thing which we can ne’er forget!
            All sins it gathers up into its course,
            As they do grow with it, and its force,
            One day with busy speed that thing shall come,
            Recoiling on the heart that was its home.”

It was late in the afternoon when Alma Elverton, returning from the
prison, reached Edenlawn.

Not daring to present herself unsummoned before her stern mother, she
went direct to her own chamber, threw off her bonnet and mantle, and
then rang for her attendant.

Old Madelon, in her hight French _bonne’s_ cap made her appearance.

“Will you go to my mamma, Madelon, and tell her that I have returned
from my ride, and ask her to say whether I shall come to her?” said

“I vill go, Meess Elverton, but miladie is—is more—vat sall I say?” said
the _bonne_, hesitating.

“Disturbed, sorrowful?” suggested Alma.

“No, _severe_. Miladie is more severe to-day as ever. I no like to go to
her, but I vill go.”

“Do, good Madelon; she will be pleased to hear that I have returned,”
said Alma, gently.

“I know not, Meess Alma, I know not,” said old Madelon, shaking her head
as she left the room.

Alma, full of anxiety upon many subjects, threw herself into an
arm-chair to await the coming of the _bonne_.

Nearly an hour passed before the return of Madelon, who entered, saying:

“You must pardon me for staying so long time, Meess Alma; but it was no
mine fault, miladie vas keep me.”

“And has she sent for me at last?”

“No, no, Meess Alma; she say you mus’ dine, and then come to her, and no

Alma made a gesture of impatience. It was now late; time was flying
fast. The hour at which she had promised to meet her unhappy father was
quickly approaching, and, fraught with danger, as it might be, she was
resolved to keep her appointment.

“I am not hungry; I do not wish to dine at all. Why cannot I go to my
mother at once?”

“Miladie’s commands—Meess Alma must rest, and must eat, and then come.”

“But if I am neither tired nor hungry. Can I not go to mamma now?”

“No, miladie is engaged. Miladie writes letters. She will see Meess Alma
later. She will send when she wants her child.”

“Go on then, Madelon, I can go through the form of dinner, at least,”
said Alma, looking anxiously at her watch.

It was five o’clock, and she had promised to meet her father at six.
There was an hour left. There might yet be time to keep her appointment.
She hoped to dispatch her meal, hurry through her interview with her
mother, and then hasten to the wood.

She followed old Madelon down into the dining-room, where a delicate
little repast had been prepared for her. She ate a piece of chicken and
a jelly, and was picking a bunch of grapes when the lady’s bell rang for
Madelon, who hastened to answer it, but soon returned with a message
summoning Alma to her mother’s apartments.

Alma immediately hurried thither. She found the beautiful, majestic,
pale-faced lady seated in the luxurious chair beside the elegant table
in the midst of the gloom and glow of that crimson and golden room. That
still woman was the picture of which the boudoir was but the back ground
and frame.

As her daughter entered, the lady lifted her languid eyes from the book
she was reading, and silently motioned Alma to take the chair on the
other side of the table.

The young girl obeyed, and waited for her mother to speak. But the
lady’s large eyes had again fallen upon her book, and in a few moments
she seemed to have forgotten the presence of her daughter.

Alma stole a glance at her watch. It was half-past five. Her heart
throbbed with anxiety. She ventured to break the silence by saying:

“I did your errand faithfully and successfully, dear mother.”

“I will speak to you about that presently, Alma,” said the lady, turning
a leaf of her book, and relapsing into silence.

Alma fell into thought. She had private anxieties enough of her own to
engage her mind. She was extremely desirous to keep her appointment with
her unhappy father. She was extremely fearful, also, of a rencounter
between her father and her betrothed. She therefore felt the urgent
necessity of being herself early on the ground to meet the first comer,
whether that should be her father or her betrothed. If it should be the
former, she would draw him quickly off in some other direction to avoid
a meeting with Captain Montrose. If the latter, she would merely greet
him and dismiss him, to shun a rencounter with Mr. Elverton. All these
plans were fraught with danger, but they were the best that she could
improvise for the exigency. Meanwhile, how quickly the precious minutes
flew while she sat waiting her mother’s leisure.

The elegant little ormolu clock on the chimney-piece struck six.

Alma started and looked up. The hour had come.

“Mamma, I wish to take an evening walk. If you will permit me, I will
go, and return when you have leisure to attend to me,” said the young
girl, desperately.

“Are you so impatient, Alma? Well, then, I will hear you now,” said the
lady, closing her book and laying it down.

“No, mamma, I am not impatient. Indeed, I should prefer taking my usual
walk first, and then come to you again,” replied the young girl, while a
deep blush suffused her cheeks.

“You have had a long drive—enough of fresh air and exercise for one day.
You may forego your walk; nay, you _must_ do so.”

Alma’s color went and came rapidly.

The lady continued:

“I have finished my book, and am quite ready to attend you; so now tell
me, how did you find your friend?”

This turned the current of Alma’s thoughts, and she answered:

“Fearfully changed, mamma—so thin, so pale, so care-worn, you would
never have known her.”

“She accepted the loan without reluctance?” asked the lady.

“No, mamma, there was much hesitation; but I used the arguments with
which you had provided me, and I assured her that those who sent her the
money had a personal interest in her acquittal that made it quite right
they should bear their share in the cost of her defence.”

“You were right; but how did she meet this explanation?”

“With the confiding faith of a grateful child—only anxious to know the
names of her benefactors, that she might mention them in her prayers.”

“Why do you say _benefactors_, when there was but _me_?” inquired the

“Mamma, when we speak of anyone in the third person, without wishing
even to divulge their sex, we say ‘they,’ because we have no third
person singular of the common gender. And because I used the pronoun
‘they,’ she fancied there was more than one, and spoke of her
benefactors,” answered Alma, blushing deeply at the necessary

“Well, but you did not give the name?”

“No, mamma.”

“Did she speak of her approaching trial? Is she frightened? Has she
hopes? Speak; tell me more about her.”

In reply to this adjuration, Alma related in detail the full account of
her visit to Eudora. And while Alma described the anguish to which the
poor imprisoned girl was a prey, the lady, long past shedding tears of
sympathy, could only drop her head upon her hands, and groan as one
suffering under some heavy burthen of remorse.

As Alma, forgetting her own embarrassment in the deep sorrows of Eudora,
was still engaged in describing the prison interview, the clock struck

She started, clasped her hands, and gazed appealingly towards her

“Well, it is too late now, Alma, to keep your appointment. Even if
Captain Montrose has waited a whole hour over his time, it is not likely
that he will wait half an hour longer, which is the length of time it
would take you to reach the trysting-ground,” said the lady, coldly.

“Mamma!” exclaimed the dismayed girl, distressed at this discovery of
her interview with her lover, and frightened lest that discovery should
have also extended to her meeting with her father. Upon this latter
point, however, the next words of Mrs. Elverton reassured her.

“Yes, poor child, I know all about it; you went to the wood yesterday to
meet Norham Montrose.”

“But, mamma—”

“Nay, poor girl, I do not blame you for the past, but I give you leave
to blame _me_, both for the past and the future, if ever you meet your
lover again.”

“Oh, mamma!” sobbed Alma, drawing near, and sinking at her mother’s

But Mrs. Elverton, with a shudder of repulsion, rolled her chair back,
and said:

“Alma, resume your seat. Keep as far from me as you can, keep so as to
remain in ear-shot only, while I speak to you.”

Tremblingly Alma arose and receded to her chair, where she sat with
pallid cheeks, clasped hands, and wistful eyes still fixed upon the
stern, white face of that strange mother.

“Alma,” said the lady, coldly, “I do not mean to deal in mysteries. I
learned this morning from the old gardener, Denny—who begged an
interview with me for the purpose of making a communication which he
deemed it his duty to make—that you had an interview with Captain
Montrose in the woods behind the house last evening. At least he met you
loitering there, and a few minutes later met Captain Montrose going
towards you. He inferred that there was an interview and an appointment.
Alma, was the old man right?”

“Mamma,” said Alma, seeking to hide her fiery blushes with both hands.
“Yes, he told you the truth; but oh, mamma, hear my defence—”

“Not now—not until I have done speaking. I dismissed the old man, with
thanks for his fidelity, and with an injunction to silence, which I am
sure that he will observe for your sake; for be assured, Alma, that such
interviews seriously compromise the fair fame of a young girl.”

“Mamma! Oh! let me explain—” again interrupted Alma, who seemed unable
to bear for an instant the implied reproach in her mother’s words.

“Not yet; not yet, Alma; hear me out. After thinking over the old man’s
story, I came to the conclusion that the interview of yesterday might
have been accidental—”

“It was, indeed, partly so, mamma.”

“And that it might or might not have resulted in an appointment for this
evening. I did not wish to accuse you wrongfully, so I resolved to
detain you in this room and observe your manner. And, Alma, your own
restlessness and anxiety have revealed to me that you _had_ made such an
appointment with Captain Montrose this evening. Is it not so?”

“Yes, mamma, yes; but hear me and forgive me.”

“Presently—presently; but let me tell you first that the days of romance
and poetry, of troubadours and knights, and damsels-errant have passed
ages and ages ago. You cannot bring romance into your real life, except
at the cost of your fair fame. And I would not have a single evanescent
cloud pass before that which should be as bright as a clear summer
day—for it is the only bright thing in your life, Alma!”

“And my fair fame shall continue bright, mamma! Oh! trust me and believe
it!” said Alma, earnestly.

“Not if these interviews are repeated,” replied the lady, coldly.

“Mamma, an angel might have been present at our meetings without offence
to its heavenly nature,” insisted Alma, fervently.

“And yet not even an angel’s testimony would be taken for that.”

“Oh, mamma!”

“Nay, I do not doubt your word, girl, nor blame you much; but I do very
severely censure the conduct of Captain Montrose, who, as a man of the
world, knew well how seriously he compromised you,” said Mrs. Elverton,

“Mamma! mamma! he is not to be censured!” exclaimed Alma, warmly.

“Not for persuading an inexperienced young girl, of high rank, to give
him interviews in the woods? What do you mean?”

“Mamma, hear me! Captain Montrose wished nothing better than your
sanction to pay his addresses openly to your daughter. He wrote to you
and wrote to my grandfather, earnestly entreating such sanction; and his
overtures were rejected by both!”

“And properly so!”

“And why, mamma? Oh! why? He is certainly a gentleman of ancient family
of unblemished character, and of good position! Why were his proposals
so curtly rejected? At least, dear mamma, you owe it to me to give a
reason!” pleaded Alma.

“It should be a reason sufficient to satisfy you, Alma, that neither
Lord Elverton nor myself chose to favor his addresses.”

“But it is not, mamma! My beating heart cannot be answered so!” said
Alma, earnestly.

“Then I have no other answer to give you, Miss Elverton!” said the lady,

“Oh, mother, mother, do not speak to me so coldly; if you knew how sad
my life is you would not do it! But, mother, let me talk to you a little
of Norham,” prayed Alma.

“In my youth, and in my country, young ladies never talked of their
lovers, but blushed when others named them. I know not, however, but
that a few years of time and a few miles of space may alter customs,”
said Mrs. Elverton, ironically.

“I know not, mamma; but if anywhere young women blush to hear their
lovers named, it must be because they are happy in their loves; for if
it were otherwise it seems to me that their cheeks would pale, not

“And yours should blanch to marble, girl, at the name of love or
marriage!” said the lady, in a low, stern, sad voice.

Her words escaped the ears of Alma, who, leaning forward, clasping her
hands, and fixing her eyes earnestly upon the pale face of her mother,

“Mamma, mamma, _will_ you let me speak to you from my heart this once?”

The lady did not reply, and her daughter continued:

“Oh, let me speak to you freely, my mother! To whom can I speak, if not
to you? Oh, hear me!—for who will hear me if not you? Whom have I in the
world but you? And, mother, who have you in the world but me? Between
what two in the universe should there be confidence if not between
us?—so separated as we seem from all the earth, so isolated, so lonely?
Mother, may I speak to you, at least for once, from my heart?”

“Speak on, Alma; I hear you!”

“Mamma, I wish to account for these few, very few, and mostly chance
meetings with Norham in the woods. And to do so I must commence at the
commencement, and speak of the utter—utter loneliness of my life—the
loneliness like living death that has been my lot from the moment of my
birth, I think, to the present hour.”

“One would naturally suppose that a condition which had commenced with
your birth, Alma, and continued to the present time—since you could have
known no other—must have become a second nature.”

“One would think so, perhaps: and yet again, perhaps, such a second
nature, formed by unnatural circumstances, could not be so forced upon
the first original nature created by God. You may take the chrysalis,
and shut it under an inverted glass, and so long as it remains a
chrysalis it will be happy in its way; but when it developes into a
butterfly, and spreads its wings, must it not pine, and suffocate, and
die for want of space, and exercise, and air?”

“What mean you, Alma?”

“Mamma, when I was a child, I was happy dressing my dolls and playing
with my pets; when I was a school-girl I was contented pursuing my
studies and talking with my governess; but all these things have passed
away with childhood and girlhood. I am a woman now, with all a woman’s
craving for human society, sympathy, and affection. Oh, if I speak
plainly, I cannot help it! I feel every hour in the day, and every
minute in the hour, that there is something fearfully wrong _here_ and
_here_!” said Alma, placing her hand upon her head and heart. “And,
mamma, believe me, that I feel, if this dreadful hunger of the heart and
mind is not satisfied, idiotcy or death must be the result. Mamma, I was
happier during the hour that I passed with poor Eudora in her
prison-cell, than I have ever been in all the years that I have passed
in this splendid living tomb. And why, mamma—why? Only because in that
wretched prison-cell I was at least _en rapport_ with another human

“Alma, come to the point—what is it you wish me to do?”

“Mamma bear with me a little while. I was about to say that it was this
utter, utter loneliness of life and heart, that laid me so open to the
advances of almost any person, man, woman, or child, who might have
crossed my path—for the starving will eat husks rather than perish; but
Providence sent across my path a noble-minded man, my equal in birth,
intellect, and position. He esteemed me, and won my esteem. He asked the
sanction of my parents to his addresses, and his overtures were rejected
by them. He loved me, and so he haunted the neighborhood of my home only
to be near me. From childhood I have been accustomed to walk in those
woods where he often accidentally met me. Yesterday I walked as usual in
those woods. I will not deceive you, mamma, or say that I did not
secretly hope he might be walking there also. He was; and we met. We had
not spoken together for a very long time, and it was then so late in the
evening that our interview was necessarily very short. And so we agreed
to meet again this afternoon—to meet as betrothed lovers, who are to
marry as soon as they both obtain their majority; for, mamma, there must
come a time, when, if I live, I shall be free, by the laws of God and
man, to give my hand where my heart has long been given—and I have
promised, when that time shall come, to be the wife of Norham Montrose,
and, mamma, I mean to keep my promise! There, mamma, I have told you

It was impossible that that white-faced woman could have become whiter,
but now a livid grayness crept over her features that also seemed to
harden into stone. It was in a low, level, ominous monotone that she

“You have told me all—now what is it you wish me to do?”

“Oh, mamma, pity me, take me to your heart, give me your confidence,
make me happy—it will take but a little to do that! Recall Norham
Montrose; give him your sanction to visit me here in your house—here
under your eye!” prayed Alma, with clasped hands and beseeching eyes.

“I am glad that you have spoken so plainly, girl, for now I can answer
you; and you must take that answer to be as final and immutable as
though the words were sealed by the most solemn and binding oaths. And
my answer is this—that you must never see Captain Montrose again!”

“Oh, mamma, mamma, tell me at least why you object to him. Is it his
birth, his position, or his character?” exclaimed Alma, earnestly.

“It is neither. His birth, position, and character might fairly entitle
him to wed any young lady in the land.”

“Is there, then, any family feud between his House and mine, such as
sometimes divide——”

“Lovers?—a Montague and Capulet folly? No! His family and yours have
always been the best friends. In short, Alma, neither Lord Elverton nor
myself, nor any of our friends have the least personal objection
whatever either to Captain Montrose himself or to any of his family. I
can assure you of that, if it can give you any satisfaction.”

“Oh, it does—it does, mamma! God bless you for that tribute to Norham’s
worth! Oh, mamma, you have told me what the objection is _not_—oh, tell
me what it _is_! I might find a way—”

“Alma,” interrupted the lady, in a deep, low, stern voice, “many months
ago I warned you that love and marriage were not for you; many months
ago I warned you, if you would escape the heaviest curse that could hurl
a soul to perdition, to avoid the friendship of woman, and the love of
man—DID I not?”

“Yes, you did—you did! but _why_, WHY, my mother?” demanded Alma, with
her hands still tightly clasped and extended, and her eyes still fixed
upon the face of her mother.

“Alma,” commenced the lady, in a voice of almost awful solemnity, “if I
might be permitted to do so, I would willingly spare you the anguish of
hearing the words that I must speak; but destiny is stronger than I
am—stronger than all are!”

“Say on, my mother. Oh, say on! If there is anything I ought to know,
let me hear it—never mind the pain!” prayed Alma, with her clasped

“But, oh! must it be my tongue that tells you at last, Alma, that your
parents’ marriage proved the most awful calamity that could have crushed
any two human beings! That your birth was a curse to Hollis Elverton—a
curse to me, and deeper still, a curse to you! That _your_ love lighting
upon any human being would be the darkest misfortune that could fall
upon them! That _your_ marriage with any man would be the direst
catastrophe that could blight him—”

Her dreadful words were interrupted by a wild, half-suppressed shriek
from Alma, who buried her face in her open hands for a moment, and then
raising her head, cried:

“Mother, I must be marble!—yes, marble! I cannot be flesh and blood as
others, or your words would kill me!”

“And you are not flesh and blood as others! but something set apart,
accursed, that must not join heart or hand with any other human being!”

“But why, _why_, WHY, my mother? that is what I wish to know, what I
_ought_ to know, what I _will_ know! for when you pronounce a sentence
that may consign me at eighteen years of age to the long-living death of
an existence without love, without friendship, without sympathy, without
communion with my kind, I ought, I _must_, I WILL know the reason
_why_!” cried Alma, with wild and startling energy.

“Poor wretch!” muttered the lady, with something like pity vibrating in
the cold monotone of her voice, and disturbing the strong rigidity of
her features—“poor wretch! you rush blindly upon your fate just as I
did! Aye, your very words were once mine! Alma, when, eighteen years
ago, Hollis Elverton rushed into my presence, and, in frenzied despair,
told me that we must part then, there, and forever, I, too, in the
extremity of my anguish and terror, demanded and wrung from him the
_why_—the WHY that doomed me to that living death of widowhood.”

“And he told you. My father kept no secret from the wife of his bosom,”
said the young girl.

“He told me. Alma, there are things that kill the soul in the body and
turn the body into stone! He told me—he whispered one dreadful word in
my ear that struck me down at his feet as a thunderbolt strikes a statue
to the ground! When I recovered my consciousness he was gone, and I knew
that he could not, ought not, must not ever return!”

“And yet he loved you, my mother?” whispered Alma, in the half hushed
tone of awe.

“Yes,” muttered the lady.

“And yet you loved him?”


“And your marriage was happy up to that fatal evening?”

“Perfectly happy.”

“And yet—and yet——”

“And yet we parted—yes, as ships at sea that meet and strike in the fog
and fly asunder—wrecks doomed to go down to destruction! So we married,
and so we severed.”

“Was it right?”

“It was right.”

“Oh, mother, what made it right? What could make it right that you and
my father, who loved each other so devotedly, who were so worthy of each
other, too, and whose marriage was so happy in itself, and so highly
approved by all, should separate so suddenly—so utterly and

The lady did not reply, but turned away her face to avoid the searching
eyes of her daughter.

“Oh, Heaven!” cried Alma, “there could have been but one reason—some
previous engagement, or bond, or, or——”

She could not bring herself to utter the other word, but dropped her
face in her hands, while her bosom rose and fell with those convulsive,
tearless sobs that seem to “press the life from out young hearts.”

“I know what you would say, Alma; but you are mistaken, poor, unhappy
girl! There was no previous engagement, bond or love, far less marriage,
either on Hollis Elverton’s side or mine, with any third person whose
existence could invalidate our marriage. Hollis Elverton was a bachelor
and I a girl when we married, nor had either of us ever loved until we
met and loved each other. No, Alma, it was no previous marriage that
burst ours asunder,” said the lady, as some memory of unusually
exquisite pain convulsed her statue-like form.

“Then, in the name of heaven, earth and hades, _what_ was it?” exclaimed
Alma, with starting vehemence.

“I have told you enough—enough to decide your fate. I must not tell you

“Yes, and without any reason assigned, you have pronounced a sentence of
excommunication and outlawry against me; a sentence that cuts me off
from the comforts of religion and the intercourse of society; a sentence
that dooms me to a fate worse, infinitely worse than death. But, mother,
without a reason that shall convince my own judgment, and satisfy my own
conscience, I cannot, and ought not, to accept that sentence or submit
to that fate!” said Alma, with gentle firmness.

“Rash girl, what do you mean by that?”

“I mean, mamma, that, though I may obey your hard commands while I am a
minor, even though obedience may destroy my life or reason, as it may,
but when I am free, mamma, as every one ought to be at some period of
their life, I must redeem my plighted troth by bestowing my hand upon
that Norham Montrose to whom even you acknowledge that you have no
personal objection whatever. This is all I mean, mamma.”

“But in the interval you will meet him and converse with him often?”

“No, mother, I will not seek to see him; I will even try to avoid him.”

“But if he should throw himself in your way, or happen to meet you and
speak to you, you would answer him—you would converse with him?”

“I wish I could promise you that I would not, mamma; but oh, I could not
keep such a promise, believe me I could not,” said Alma, convulsed with

“I do believe you; and that belief forces me at length to speak that
word—that word which must sever you at once and forever from him and
from all others—that word which may sink into your heart and corrode
your life until you are as bloodless as I am; or, that may kill you at
once—strike you down dead before me! Be it so; better you should die
than live to marry,” said the lady, rising and approaching her daughter,
while the grayness of death again overspread her pallid face.

Alma, with a dreadful sickness of the heart, waited to hear some fatal

Mrs. Elverton bent down and whispered in her ear.

Alma sprang to her feet, gazed with dilated eyes and blanched cheeks in
bewildering despair upon her mother’s face, as though unable to receive
at once the full horror of her words, and then drew her hands wildly to
her head, reeled forward and fell senseless to the floor.

                              CHAPTER XXI.
                               THE TRIAL.

              Her veil was backward thrown;
            Relieving tears refused to flow,
            All drank by her great thirsty woe,
              She seemed transformed to stone.
            Save that at times her white lips quivered,
            And her young limbs like aspen shivered,
              And burst a low, sad moan!—_Nicholas Michell._

And how did Eudora pass the few anxious days of imprisonment preceding
her trial?

Oh, Heaven! how much the human heart may bear, and yet live on! Who can
compute the amount of sorrow, humiliation and terror that formed the
great weight of anguish that pressed her young heart almost to death?

Deep, poignant grief for the loss of her nearest and dearest kindred;
burning shame at the infamous charge under which she suffered, and
shuddering horrors at the awful doom that darkly lowered over her.

Either of these passionate emotions singly was enough to have crushed
her heart or crazed her brain. All of them at once she was fated to

Often, as with closed eyes and laboring lungs she lay upon the narrow
bed of her prison-cell, she thought that her fainting heart must stop,
and her gasping breath cease forever. Often she hoped that they might.
And thus, indeed, her light of life might have been smothered beneath
its weight of anguish, but for the tender care of those few devoted
friends who cherished the dying flame.

Malcolm Montrose, Counsellor Fenton, Mr. Anderson and Mrs. Barton, all
endeavored in every possible way to comfort, cheer, sustain and
strengthen Eudora.

She was seldom left alone for half an hour during the day.

The devoted love of her betrothed gave her consolation; the confident
manner of her advocate inspired her with hope; the zealous friendship of
the governor filled her with gratitude, and the constant attention of
her wardress left her little time for brooding melancholy.

And thus passed the days that brought the fatal Monday for the opening
of the assizes.

That Monday on which those assizes were held will long be remembered in

The most intense interest was felt by people in all ranks of society, in
all parts of the country, in the approaching trial of a young,
beautiful, and high-born girl, for the atrocious crime of poisoning.

All persons who could possibly leave their homes, came to Abbeytown to
abide during the holding of the assizes, for the purpose of being
present at the trial.

As early as the Saturday previous, the hotels, lodging-houses, and even
private dwellings, began to fill with an ever-increasing crowd of

On Sunday the town was quite full. On Monday, though the multitude
continued to pour in, not one disengaged room or bed was to be procured
for love or money within its boundaries.

Ingle, the young law-clerk that had come up from London in attendance
upon Mr. Fenton, declared that Abbeytown during these assizes, looked
like Epsom in the race week.

Lord Chief Baron Elverton was on the circuit that year.

About nine o’clock in the morning, the hour of the judges’ arrival
having been duly notified by telegraph, the high sheriff, with his
constabulary staff, proceeded to the railway station to meet and escort
their lordships to the town.

They drove from the station to the Leaton Arms, where the best suites of
apartments had been pre-engaged for their accommodation, and where a
public breakfast awaited them.

At about twelve at noon the whole party went in procession to the
court-house, and opened the commission.

The whole of that afternoon was occupied with the preliminary business
of the session.

The second day was employed in trying those common rural cases of
poaching, riot, and petty larceny that took precedence upon the docket
of the one great trial. These were all disposed of before the
adjournment of the court on Tuesday evening.

And thus on Wednesday morning it was confidently expected that, as soon
as the court should meet, the case of the “Crown _vs._ Eudora Leaton,”
charged with poisoning, would be called.

The same lawyers’ clerk, whose talents lay rather in drawing comparisons
than briefs, declared that if the town at the opening of the assizes
resembled Epsom in the race week, it now bore a striking likeness to
that famous little village on the Derby-day.

Abbeytown was indeed full to repletion. Every house, every street, every
thoroughfare was crowded to suffocation. Every avenue approaching the
court-house was blocked up by carriages, horses, and foot-passengers.

Every person seemed to have come with the wild idea of being able to
catch a glimpse of the notorious prisoner as she was conveyed from the
gaol to the court-house, or even with the mad hope of getting a seat in
the halls of justice to witness the trial. Of course most were
disappointed; for the narrow court-room could not comfortably
accommodate much more than one hundred souls, or, compactly crowded,
more than two hundred; though upon this particular occasion nearly three
hundred persons were said to have been squeezed between its four walls.
The aristocracy, gentry, and yeomanry of the country were represented
among the spectators that filled to suffocation that court-room.

In one part of the hall, to the right of the bench, were assembled the
whole family from the Anchorage; for not only the Admiral, Sir Ira
Brunton, his nephew, the young lieutenant, his grand-daughter, Annella,
his guest, the Italian princess, but even his ancestresses, the two
ancient dames, were present, drawn thither by the intense interest of
the approaching trial.

In the very deepest shadow of a corner behind this group stood apart a
tall man, whose form was enveloped in a long, dark cloak, and whose face
was shaded by a deep sombrero hat.

At some little distance, sulky, silent and alone, stood Norham Montrose.

And all there were so closely pressed in by the crowd, that they could
neither move, converse, nor scarcely breathe. The whole assembly seemed
so intensely anxious for the commencement of the trial, that they hardly
once removed their eyes from the door by which the prisoner was expected
to be brought into court. At half-past nine the judges appeared.

As soon as the Lord Chief Baron Elverton and the associate judges took
their seats, the eyes of the whole assembly were directed towards the

Indeed, the central figure there, the presiding judge, Lord Chief Baron
Elverton, was, by his imposing presence, no less than his august office
and his mysterious family history, calculated to attract and rivet

He was now but sixty years of age, though looking seventy-five or
eighty. His once large, massive, and erect form was now bowed, shrunken
and emaciated: his fine, high, noble features were faded, sunken, and
sharpened; his once luxuriant auburn hair and beard were now thin and
white as snow; his countenance, though expressive of intellectual pride
and conscious power, was impressed with the ineffaceable marks of deep
suffering modified by patient benignity.

But what was the nature of that suffering? Was it inconsolable sorrow
for some heavy misfortune earth could never repair? Or was it
inextinguishable remorse for some deep sin that Heaven could not pardon?

No one ever knew, or even surmised. But, as the spectators looked upon
that care-worn face, they spoke together in whispers, of that strange,
terrible, unexplained episode in his family history; the sudden, fearful
midnight flight of his son; the total estrangement between himself and
his daughter-in-law, and the rigid seclusion of his young
grand-daughter; and, for the hundredth time, wondered whatever could be
at the bottom of those mysteries. For the moment, even the impending
trial was forgotten in this discussion of the family secrets of Lord

But the attention of the assembly was soon recalled to its first

The prisoner was ordered to be brought into court.

And once more every eye was turned and fixed in unwinking vigilance upon
the door by which she was expected to enter.

And all this eager curiosity in the crowd was only to see one poor,
frightened, trembling girl brought up to trial for life or death.

They had not long to wait for their spectacle.

The doors were thrown open, and the young prisoner was led in between
the deputy-sheriff and the female turnkey.

The merciless gaze of those hundreds of eager eyes fell, not upon a bold
woman—a hardened criminal—but upon a young, slight, delicate girl,
dressed in black and deeply veiled, who advanced with trembling steps
and downcast eyes.

Behind her walked Malcolm Montrose, whose haggard countenance betrayed
the agony of anxiety he suffered on her account.

She was led up the length of the hall and let into the dock, where a
seat had been placed for her by some kind hand.

At a sign from the sheriff, the wardress entered and took a place by her

Malcolm Montrose posted himself as near the dock as he could possibly

As Eudora dropped into her seat, her head sank upon her breast, her
hands fell upon her lap, and her whole form collapsed and shrank beneath
the oppressive gaze of that large assembly.

Yet, if the poor girl could have looked up, she would have seen more
than one pair of eyes regarding her with an expression kinder than mere
curiosity; even those of the venerable judge were bent upon her in deep

But she dared not lift her head.

She heard a murmur of voices, a stir of hands, a rustle of papers, and
then the voice of the clerk of arraigns, calling out:

“Eudora Leaton!”

She started as though she had received a blow, and instinctively threw
aside her veil.

And the beautiful, pale, agonized young face was revealed to the whole

A murmur of compassion moved, breeze-like, through the hitherto pitiless
crowd, and a single half-suppressed cry was heard from the Anchorage

That cry came from Annella Wilder, who then for the first time
discovered the identity between her friend Miss Miller and the accused
Eudora Leaton.

“Attend to the reading of the indictment,” continued the clerk,
addressing the prisoner.

Eudora obeyed by lifting her frightened eyes to the cold, business-like
face of the speaker, who commenced reading the formidable document he
held in his hand, setting forth in successive counts how the prisoner,
Eudora Leaton, being impelled by satanic agency, with malice prepense,
at certain times and places therein specified, by the administration of
certain poisonous and deadly drugs, did feloniously procure and effect
the death of the Honorable Agatha Leaton, &c., &c., &c.

“Prisoner at the bar, arise, and hold up your right hand,” ordered the
clerk, when the reading was finished.

Eudora, pale, faint and trembling, obeyed.

“Prisoner, you have heard the charge against you. Are you guilty or not
guilty of the felonies with which you are accused?”

“Not guilty, as I shall answer at the last day before the awful bar of
God,” said Eudora, in a low, sweet, solemn voice, that thrilled through
the hearts of that whole assembly, as she sank again into her seat.

The attorney-general, who had come down from London to prosecute this
most important case, now arose in his place, took the bill of indictment
from the clerk of arraigns, and proceeded to open the case on the part
of the Crown.

He commenced by saving that his duty in the present instance was
extremely distressing in its nature, but, fortunately, simple in its
course; that the case he stood there to prosecute, dark as it was with
the deepest guilt, was yet so clearly illumined by the light of
evidence, that happily it need not occupy the court long; that whether
they considered the tender youth of the criminal, the cold-blooded
atrocity of the crime, or the high worth of the victims, this agonizing
case had no parallel in the long experience of the oldest barrister
living, or the whole history of criminal jurisprudence; that he need not
recall to memory the celebrated cases of Borgia, Essex, Brinvilliers, or
Lafarge to prove that youth, beauty, womanhood and high rank combined,
were not incompatible with deep guilt and dark crimes in their
possessors; that he did not mean to draw any comparison between the
female fiends he had named and the prisoner at the bar, for he should
soon prove Eudora Leaton had succeeded in reaching a much higher point
upon the “bad eminence” of criminal fame than had ever been attained by
Lafarge, Brinvilliers, Essex, or Borgia.

“The prisoner,” he said, “of Indian parentage, was the only child of the
late Honorable Charles Leaton and his wife, Oolah Kalooh, of Lahore,
and, doubtless, she must have derived from her mother all those subtle,
secretive, and treacherous elements of character for which the East
Indian is noted, while she gained from her father all that rare,
dangerous, botanical knowledge of the deadly plants of the country, the
study of which had once been his favorite pastime, and the acquaintance
with which has been recently her most fatal medium of destruction.

“By the death of her parents,” he continued, “she was left an orphan at
the early age of sixteen years. Her uncle, the late Lord Leaton, as soon
as he received intelligence of her condition, dispatched a special
messenger to India to bring her home to his own house. Upon her arrival,
he, as well as his whole family, received the orphan with the utmost
tenderness, placing her at once upon an equal footing with his own only
daughter and sole heiress.”

“But how,” inquired the prosecutor, “has the benevolence, confidence,
and affection of this honored family been repaid by their cherished
_protégée_! They have been repaid by the blackest ingratitude, the
foulest treachery, the deepest guilt; they have been repaid with
death—the insidious, protracted, dreadful death of slow poison—poison
administered by her whom they received into the bosom of their family.

“And what,” he asked, “tempted this young, beautiful, and high-born girl
to plunge herself into this deep Gehenna of guilt, misery, and infamy?

“The basest motive that could influence human nature-the love of lucre!
She knew that, in the event of the death of Lord and Lady Leaton and
their daughter, _she_ must be the sole inheritor of the whole Leaton
estate; and for this inheritance she has perpetrated crimes unequalled
in atrocity by her most notorious predecessors of criminal celebrity.

“She has sacrificed her nearest kindred in this world, and her dearests
interests in the next. She has destroyed those who sheltered her. Yes,
she whom they received into their homes and hearts, warmed at their
household fire, cherished with their bosom’s love, _she_ drugged their
daily food and drink with the deadliest poisons, until they wasted,
withered, and perished before her, as plants before the breath of the
death-blowing sirocco!

“As under the action of this slow poison, one after another sank upon
the last couch of illness, _she_ it was who superseded every honest and
trustworthy attendant, and with deceitful zeal and deadly purpose,
hovered about the bed of death!

“_Her_ hand it was that changed the heated billow, bathed the burning
brow, and then placed the poisoned cup to the parched lips that thanked
her for the cooling draught, and blessed her for her loving care!

“_Her_ hand it was that wiped the death-dew from the fading forehead,
returned the last pressure of the failing fingers, and closed the
glazing eyes of the dead victim—dead by her deed. But they

                   “‘Are in their graves, where she,
                   Their murderess, soon shall be.’

“For she has lost the game at which she staked her soul, and sits there
now to wait her doom.

“Bowed down and crushed almost unto death is she? Aye, not by grief for
her sin, but for that ‘sin’s detection and despair.’

“Beautiful, is she? Aye! beautiful as all the fatal growths of her
native clime! beautiful as the spotted serpent of her jungles—as the
striped tigress of her forests—as the stately ignatia of her plains!

“Thank Heaven, she is not a native of civilized and Christian Europe,
but of that deadly clime where the fierce heat of the sun draws from the
earth the most noxious plants, and developes in man and brute the most
ferocious passions—the land of the upas and the cobra—the land of Nena

“But enough,” he concluded. He would not deal in invective, or seek to
exaggerate that guilt which no words of the prosecutor could magnify. He
had stated the facts of the case; he would now proceed to call witnesses
to prove them.

This severe opening charge was felt by all to be no mere official
denunciation by the prosecutor, but the awful truth, as he himself
believed it to be, and finally succeeded in causing judge, jury, and
audience to accept it.

Its effect upon the poor young prisoner was overwhelming. She drooped
still lower, and breathed from the depths of her wounded spirit—

“Oh, Father, Thou, who knoweth all things, knowest that this is not true
of me; Thou who canst do all things, will yet deliver me from this

But was she the greatest sufferer there! Ah, no! He who stood behind
her, hearing this terrible charge, without the power of contradicting
her accuser—seeing all eyes fixed in horror upon her without the
privilege of saying one word in her defence, and witnessing her distress
without the means of consoling it—suffered more, though he bore up
better than she did.

Upon our simple family party from the Anchorage the effect of the
attorney-general’s opening address was very profound.

“Dear, dear, dear!” sighed old Mrs. Stilton, whose simple mind received
every word uttered by that high dignitary as gospel truth, because how
could such a learned gentleman be mistaken? “Dear, dear, dear! what a
young devil she is to be sure!”

“Yes—a real young Indian demon! a genuine little cobra-di-capello—an
infant Thug! They’ll be sure to hang her, that’s one comfort!” said the

“It is false! The attorney-general is no better than a licensed
slanderer! I hate him! and I wish _he_ was on trial!” cried Annella,
bursting into tears of rage and grief.

But the clerk was calling the first witness for the Crown, and all eyes
and ears were directed to the words of that functionary.

The evidence for the prosecution was essentially the same as that
elicited at the coroner’s inquest and at the magistrate’s investigation.
It need not be repeated in detail here. It is sufficient to say that the
first witnesses examined were the medical men who had assisted at the
autopsy of the dead bodies, and the analysis of the tamarind-water.
Their testimony clearly proved that the deceased had died from the
effects of ignatia, and that the fatal drug had been administered in
their drink.

And the severest cross-examination of these witnesses by the counsel for
the prisoner only served the more strongly to confirm the facts, and the
more deeply to impress them upon the minds of the jury.

“And thus,” said the counsel for the Crown, “the primary item in the
prosecution—to wit, that the deceased came to their death by poison—may
be considered as established. Our next care shall be to prove that this
poison was feloniously administered by the prisoner at the bar.”

The witnesses examined upon this point were the household servants of
Allworth Abbey, who all testified to the facts that Miss Eudora Leaton
had been the constant attendant upon the sick-beds of the deceased; that
she had prepared all their food and drink, and especially the
tamarind-water, and that she was with Miss Agatha Leaton at the hour of
her sudden death.

These witnesses were carefully cross-examined by Mr. Fenton, but, alas!
with no favorable result for his unhappy client!

Finally, the police-officers who had executed the search-warrant for
examining the chamber of the prisoner, produced a small packet of
strange-looking grey berries, that they testified to having found hidden
in a secret drawer of her escritoire.

The medical men were recalled, and identified these to be the deadly
_fabæ Sancti Ignatii_ of the East Indies, the same fatal poison which
had been discovered in the autopsy of the dead bodies and the analysis
of the tamarind-water.

These were the last witnesses examined on the part of the prosecution.
And as it had happened before, the closest cross-examination by the
prisoner’s advocate only resulted in strengthening the testimony.

“And now,” concluded the Queen’s counsel, “the second item in the
prosecution—namely, that the poison by which the deceased came to their
death was feloniously administered by the prisoner at the bar—may be
considered so clearly proved that we are contented here to rest the case
for the Crown.”

                             CHAPTER XXII.
                            THE CONVICTION.

           Thus on her doom to think,
         Well may the dews of torture now
         Hang bead-like on her straining brow,
           Well may her spirit shrink.
         ’Tis hard in youth to yield our breath;
         To die in thought is double death,
           Shivering on fate’s cold brink.—_Nicholas Michell._

Mr. Fenton arose for the defence. He was much too wise to weaken his
cause by attempting to deny that which was undeniable. He therefore
resolved to waive the first, and to concentrate his forces upon the
overthrow of the second and vital point in the prosecution.

He commenced by saying that he would admit the fact that the Leaton
family had perished by poison, but would totally deny that this poison
had been administered by his client.

“Let the jury,” he said, “look upon Eudora Leaton, where she sits,
overwhelmed with her weight of woe! Observe how young, how delicate, how
sensitive she is. Can any one for an instant suppose that she, a young
girl of sixteen springs, a mere child in years, an infant still in law,
could have conceived, planned and executed so atrocious a crime as the
destruction of a whole family to clear the way for her own inheritance
of their estates! Such a supposition would be preposterous.

“It can only be because, for the deep atrocity of this crime, the law
demands an instant victim, and no other is to be found, that this poor
child has been seized and offered here as a sacrifice to appease the
offended majesty of justice. And if in the end she is immolated, it will
be only as the pascal lamb, slain upon the altar of the temple for the
sins of others!

“I will not,” he continued, “affect to disregard the meshes of
coincidence that envelop my most innocent client.

“Like the poor lost dove, beaten down by the storm, and fallen into the
net of the fowler, she is involved in a coil of circumstances that may
prove to be her destruction, unless the just interpretation of an
intelligent jury intervene to save her from unmerited martyrdom.

“But,” he continued, “I have a theory that I shall offer in explanation
of those circumstances, which I firmly believe must exonerate my client
in the mind of the jury and every just person present.

“Before proceeding further, I will read a few extracts from the records
of the coroner’s inquest upon the case.”

Here Counsellor Fenton took from the hands of his clerk certain
documents, from which he read aloud that part of the evidence given by
the late Lady Leaton, in which she testified to having seen the shadow
of a woman’s form upon the wall, and heard the rustle of a woman’s dress
along the floor of her husband’s chamber a few moments before he drank
the fatal sleeping-draught that stood upon the stand beside his bed on
the night of his death.

Next the advocate turned to another part of the record, and read the
evidence given by the late Miss Leaton, in which she deposed that, at
the very time at which her mother heard the noise and saw the shadow in
her father’s room, Eudora was seated beside Agatha’s bed, engaged in the
vain effort to read the restless invalid to sleep.

Finally, he referred to the record of the second coroner’s inquest, and
read the evidence given by Eudora Leaton, in which she testified that,
while watching by the bedside of her cousin, on the night of her death,
she fell into a light slumber, from which she was awakened by the
impression of some one moving about the room, and that at the moment of
opening her eyes, she saw a figure steal away through the door opening
into her own adjoining chamber; but that on following the figure, she
found the next room vacant, and therefore fancied that her half-awakened
senses had deceived her.

“The evidence which I have just read,” continued Counsellor Fenton, as
he returned the documents to the hands of his clerk, “is so significant,
so important, so vital to the cause of justice, that, had it been
permitted to have its due influence with the coroner’s jury, no such
cruel suspicion could have fallen upon Eudora Leaton as that which has
placed her here on trial for her life. And now at least, when that
evidence shall be duly considered, it must entirely exonerate this most
innocent girl. From that evidence, gentlemen of the jury, I draw the
whole theory of this most mysterious chain of crime, and that theory I
would undertake to establish, as the only true one, to your perfect

“The whole Leaton family have perished by the hand of the poisoner.
True—alas! most horribly true! But who, then, is that poisoner? Who but
that nocturnal visitor, who had stolen like a fell assassin to the
chamber of Agatha Leaton, and while her watcher slumbered, put the
poison into her drink, and whose ill-boding form was seen by the
awakening watcher to steal away and disappear in the darkness? Who, but
that midnight intruder, who, in the temporary absence of Lady Leaton,
glided like an evil spirit to the bedside of Lord Leaton, and dropped
the deadly drug into his drink, and whose rustling raiment was heard by
Lady Leaton to sweep across the floor like the trailing wings of a
demon, and whose dark shadow was seen to glide swiftly along the wall
like its vanishing form?

“But who was this fiend in human form. Not Eudora Leaton, whom the
testimony of the late Agatha Leaton proved to have been at that hour
engaged in another place. Who, then was it? Heaven only knows! But
whoever it might have been, it was one who, in resolving upon the
destruction of the whole Leaton family, had determined upon the death of
Eudora too! One, who in carrying out the fell purpose of extirpation,
while compassing the death of Lord and Lady Leaton and their daughter,
took measures to fix the crime upon Eudora Leaton for her ruin. The same
fiend who, in the midnight glided into the chamber of Agatha Leaton, and
infused the deadly ignatia into her cooling drink, in passing through
Eudora’s room, deposited the fatal drug in her drawers to fix this
suspicion upon her! It was a most diabolical plot, worthy only of the
accursed spirits of Tophet.

“This,” he concluded, “was his theory of the murders, a theory that he
most fervently believed to be the true one—a theory that he most
earnestly entreated the jury to deeply consider before consigning a
young, lovely, and accomplished woman; a delicate, sensitive, refined
being; a most injured, most unhappy, yet most innocent maiden, to the
deep dishonor of a capital conviction, the unspeakable wretchedness of a
blighted name, and the horrible martyrdom of a public death!”

The advocate sat down _really_, not professionally, overcome by his

The influence of this address upon the unhappy girl was very beneficial;
it inspired her with hope; it revived her sinking courage; it enabled
her to look up and breathe.

The effect upon the spectators was seen by their changed expression.
They no longer regarded the poor young prisoner with looks of horror,
but with eyes full of compassion. But the effect upon our guileless
friends of the Anchorage was noteworthy.

“Well, now, perhaps after all she did not do it, poor thing!” observed
the blunt admiral, whose convictions were shaken by Mr. Fenton’s

“Didn’t do it? Why, of course she didn’t do it!” exclaimed Mrs. Stilton,
who had been turned completely round by the advocate’s speech; “it’s
certain she didn’t do it. Haven’t you just heard the nice gentleman in
the gown and wig explain how it was all a plot against her, poor dear,
motherless child? It’s my belief as the attorney-general was in it; and
it’s my hopes he’ll be found out and punished. I don’t believe the good
Queen knew anything about it, as forward as they are using her name in
the dockerments.”

“I love that dear, darling old Lawyer Fenton. Oh, how I do love him for
his defence of poor Eudora! Yes, I do, Cousin Vally, and so you needn’t
bite your underlip and frown. I do love him, and if he was to ask me to
have him, I’d marry him to-morrow!” exclaimed Annella, to the annoyance
of Mr. Valorous Brightwell, who could not see any reason for such
enthusiastic gratitude.

But the clerk of arraigns was summoning witnesses for the defence, and
the attention of the spectators was immediately attracted.

These witnesses were some of the household servants of Allworth Abbey,
and some of the friends and neighbors of the Leaton family, who being in
turn called and sworn, testified to the integrity and amiability of the
prisoner, and the confidence and affection that existed between her and
the deceased.

And with the examination of the last witness, the defence closed.

Alas! how weak it was, although the best that could be offered. To the
attorney-general, indeed, the defence appeared so weak and so unlikely
to influence in any way the decision of the jury, that he waived his
right to reply upon the evidence adduced by the counsel for the
prisoner, and left the case in the hands of the judge.

The Lord Chief Baron Elverton rose to sum up the evidence on each side,
and to charge the jury.

Every eye was now turned upon the noble, grave, and grief-worn face of
the venerable judge, and every ear was strained to catch the words of
his address, for every soul believed that from the spirit of his speech
the jury would take its opinions, and the young prisoner receive her

“Gentlemen of the jury,” began his lordship, “you have heard the charge
brought against the prisoner at the bar. You have heard that charge ably
expounded by the learned counsel for the Crown, and strongly supported
by the witnesses he called. You have also heard the same eloquently
repudiated by the distinguished advocate for the prisoner, and somewhat
affected by the evidence he has presented.

“On the one hand, the case against the prisoner, as made out by the
prosecution, is strong, very strong, but it is only circumstantial, and
may well be fallacious. On the other hand, the explanation of those
circumstances, as offered by the defence, are plausible, extremely
plausible, and may easily be true; and I feel it my duty to recommend
this explanation to the most serious attention of the jury.

“Of the guilt or innocence of this young girl, none but the Omniscient
can judge with infallibility; but in all cases of uncertainty it is the
duty of Christian jurors, as it is the spirit of civilized law, to favor
the acquittal of the prisoner. Such doubtful cases are most frequently
found among those sustained solely by circumstantial evidence.

“Now, circumstantial evidence is not positive testimony—far from it.
Witness the recent case of Eliza Fenning, an innocent woman, convicted
by an English jury upon circumstantial evidence, but whose innocence was
not discovered until after her execution, when it was too late to repair
the dreadful error—when no power on earth could restore the life that
the law had unjustly taken.

“One such judicial murder as that should be a warning to English juries,
through all future time, never, except upon the most unquestionable
proof, to assume the awful responsibility of pronouncing upon a
fellow-creature’s guilt, or taking that sacred life which no earthly
power ever can give back. Better that some guilty homicides should be
left to the sure retribution of God than that one innocent person should
be consigned to the unmerited ignominy of a capital conviction and a
shameful death.

“If, from the evidence before you, you feel assured of the prisoner’s
guilt, it is your duty to convict her; but if any—the least degree of
uncertainty disturb your judgment—it is your duty to acquit her. English
law recognizes no such middle course as that taken by the jury in
rendering their verdict in the celebrated case of Madeleine Smith. If
the charge is considered ‘not proved,’ the prisoner is entitled to a
full acquittal.”

And, finally praying that their counsels might be directed by Omniscient
wisdom, he dismissed them to the deliberation upon their verdict.

The venerable chief baron resumed his seat, and the bailiffs conducted
the jury from the court-room.

The spectators breathed freely again. His lordship certainly favored the
prisoner. And if ever the charge of a judge could sway the minds of a
jury, those twelve men must certainly bring in a verdict of acquittal.

“All will be well, dearest Eudora. The judge believes you innocent,”
whispered Malcolm to the prisoner.

“All is in the hands of God,” breathed the poor, pale girl, in a dying
voice, for her very life seemed ebbing away under the high pressure of
this terrible trial.

In other parts of the crowded court-room the charge of the judge was not
quite so highly approved.

“Ah! Oh? Umph! The most one-sided charge I ever heard in all the days of
my life,” exclaimed Sir Ira Brunton, indignantly, wiping his flushed
forehead as if he himself had just made a long speech. “It actually
forestalls the verdict of the jury; it positively amounts to an
acquittal. It is the most unjust, barefaced, abominable abuse of office
I ever knew in my life. The man is unfit to sit upon the bench. He
should be impeached. He must be getting into his dotage.”

“Lor! Do you think so? Why I thought it was an excellent discourse—as
good as a sermon. And as for being in his dotage, why how you do talk,
boy. He is younger than you,” said old Mrs. Stilton.

“God bless Lord Elverton,” exclaimed Annella, fervently; “and when he
himself shall appear at the last judgment-bar, may God judge him as
mercifully as he has judged that poor girl.”

“You know nothing of the matter, Miss!” exclaimed the admiral, angrily.
“But hush! I do believe the jury are coming in. What a little time they
have taken. But oh, of course their going out was only a form, since the
charge of the judge was tantamount to an instruction to bring in a
verdict of acquittal.”

The jury, marshaled by the bailiffs, were already in court. All eyes
were immediately turned in eager anxiety towards them, to read, if
possible, in their expression the nature of the verdict they were about
to render.

The faces of those twelve men were pale, stern, and downcast. It seemed
ominous to the prisoner, and every eye was instantly directed towards
her to observe the effect of all this upon her manner.

Eudora, no longer conscious of the hundreds of eyes fixed upon her, had
half risen from her seat, thrown her veil quite back, and bent her white
face towards the jury, in an agony of suspense, terrible to behold. The
hand which, in rising, she had rested upon the side of the dock, was
firmly grasped by Malcolm, who stood with his eyes fixed upon the face
of the foreman in fierce anxiety. There was a breathless pause. And then
the clerk of the arraigns arose, and demanded of the foreman of the jury
whether they had agreed upon their verdict.

The foreman, a tall, fair, sensitive-looking man, hesitated for a
moment, and his voice faltered, as he replied:

“We have.”

The order given to the prisoner and the jury to confront each other was
quite superfluous as regarded Eudora, who had never taken her wild,
affrighted gaze for an instant from the faces of those who held her fate
in their hands.

But to those twelve men who had young sisters, wives, or daughters of
their own, it was a severe ordeal to gaze upon the white, agonized face
of that poor child whose doom they were about to pronounce.

The momentous question was then put by the clerk:

“Do you find the prisoner at the bar guilty or not guilty of the crime
for which she has been indicted?”


A low, wailing cry, like the last quivering note of a broken
harp-string, burst from the pale lips of the prisoner, as she fell back
in her seat and covered her face with her hands.

Malcolm, with a groan that seemed to burst his heart, leaned towards her
in helpless, speechless anguish.

The low sound of sobbing was heard throughout the hall among the women

All wished to end the torture of this scene.

At a sign from the judge, the crier called out for silence, and the
clerk ordered the prisoner to stand up and receive the sentence of the

Eudora attempted to rise, but her limbs failed, and she sank powerless
back into her seat.

“Help her—lift her up,” said an officer to the female turnkey that sat
beside Eudora.

“Try to stand, my poor, poor child,” said the good woman, putting her
arms around the waist of the wretched girl, and raising her to her feet,
where she stood leaning for support against the shoulder of Mrs. Barton.

And then amid the awful stillness of the hall, the venerable chief baron
arose to pronounce the doom of death. His fine face, usually so pale and
woe-worn, was now convulsed with an anguish even greater than the
terrible occasion seemed to warrant. He appeared to be incapable of
uttering more than the few frightful words that doomed the body of that
poor, shrinking, fainting girl to “hang by the neck until she should be
dead,” and commended her soul to the mercy of that Being who alone could
help her in this her utmost extremity.

Everyone looked to see how that young, delicate, sensitive creature
would bear this cruel sentence. Ah! Eudora had not heard one syllable of
all those awful words. The utter fainting of her heart, the sudden
failing of her senses, the swift ebbing away of all her life-forces,
saved her from that last torture.

And when the order was given that the prisoner should be removed from
the court, the weeping woman who supported her, answered:

“My lord, she has fainted.”

And in this state of insensibility, Eudora was conveyed from the court
to the prison, and laid upon the iron bedstead of the condemned cell.

As the lord chief baron was leaving the court-house that night, a
dark-robed woman plucked at his cloak.

“You have this day condemned an innocent girl to death!” hissed the
stranger, close to his ear.

“I believe it,” groaned Lord Elverton.

“It is another consequence of—”

“I know—I know!” interrupted his lordship.

“Nor will it be the last result—”

“Woman! demon! say no more! The end of these things is not here!” cried
the chief baron, hastily escaping into his carriage, which immediately
drove off to the Leaton Arms.

                             CHAPTER XXIII.
                             THE CONDEMNED.

                  Condemned to death—Oh! dread
                The thoughts of coming suffering—there
                The scaffold stands in morning’s air,
                  Crowds wave-like round her spread,
                Their eyes upraised to see her die,
                No heart to breathe a pitying sigh—
                  The prison stones her bed.—_Michell._

Malcolm Montrose, nearly maddened by despair, threw himself into a
carriage, and drove swiftly after the prison van in which Eudora was
taken back to gaol.

He was met at the prison entrance by the warden, of whom he urgently

“Where is she? How is she? Has she recovered her consciousness? Oh,
Anderson! let me go to her at once!”

“Mr. Montrose, I am very sorry for you, and my heart bleeds for her; but
I must do my duty, and tell you that you cannot see her,” said the
warden, sorrowfully.

“Why, how is this?” groaned Malcolm.

“Ah, sir! all is changed when a prisoner is condemned to death. The
rules that govern us in taking care of them are very strict. From the
moment sentence is passed they are cut off from the living, as one may
say, and have no more to do on this earth but to use the few days left
to prepare for death!” said the warden, with a heavy sigh.

“Great Heaven! Anderson, do you mean to say that no friend may go to her
to try to alleviate her sufferings through this horrible calamity?”

“Sir, the gaol chaplain will visit her. Two female turnkeys will always
be with her; and by applying to the sheriff, you may obtain an order to
see her, though even then only in the presence of others.”

“Oh, Eudora! Eudora! has it come to this! Oh, God! what a world of chaos
and horror is this, in which the innocent are sacrificed and the guilty
are triumphant!” cried Malcolm distractedly.

“But there is another world, Mr. Montrose, in which the ways of God
shall be justified to man,” said the warden, solemnly.

“Aye, there _is_ another! and thank God that this life which leads to it
is short! A few more years of this mystery of iniquity—this whirling
confusion in which truth is lost and good trampled to dust by evil, and
each sinner’s or sufferer’s share in the madness of life will be over
forever! Would to God it were over with that poor, sweet victim even
now! Oh, would that she might never have waked again to consciousness of
suffering here!” exclaimed Malcolm with impassionate earnestness.

“Mr. Montrose, you are dreadfully agitated. Pray come into my apartment
and sit down, and try to compose yourself, while I go to the cell to see
how she is doing and bring you word,” advised the warden, opening a
side-door, and admitting his visitor into the office.

Malcolm paced up and down the floor with disordered steps until the
return of the warden from his errand.

“Well, sir, how is she?” he hurriedly inquired as Mr. Anderson entered.

“Lying still in a deep swoon,” replied the warden.

“Thank Heaven! every hour of that swoon is a respite from anguish! Oh,
that while she is in it her spirit may pass peacefully away to Heaven!
Who is with her?”

“Mrs. Barton and my wife. They are doing all that they possibly can for
her relief, and believe me Mr. Montrose, every care and comfort shall be
given her that her unhappy condition and our painful duty will permit. I
would do as much, sir, for the poorest and most friendless stranger that
might be committed to my charge, to say nothing of the daughter of the
noblest man I ever saw and the best friend I ever had,” said the warden,

“I am sure you would. And—I hope you do not believe her guilty?”

The warden winced. Since the disclosures of the trial his faith in the
innocence of Eudora was much shaken. He would gladly have evaded the
inquiry, but as the looks of Malcolm were still eagerly questioning him,
he was obliged to answer:

“I do not know what to believe, sir. As the daughter of her father, I
should say she could not be, sir; but then her mother was an
East-Indian, and no one knows what venom, might have mixed with the good
old Leaton blood in crossing it with _that_ breed.”

“That is enough! You cannot help believing what all the world, except a
very few, believe. Oh, Heaven! my poor Eudora, that even your dead
mother’s race should rise up in evidence against you! But we must be
patient; aye, patient until the very judgment-day, when all shall be
made clear! Would to God that it were to-morrow! Where can the sheriff
be found this evening, that I may go to him at once to get that order
you spoke of?”

“He is in the village now, staying at the Leaton Arms. But, Mr.
Montrose, you cannot in any case see Miss Leaton before to-morrow
morning, for the hour for closing has already arrived, and it is against
the rules to open to anyone.”

Deep grief is never irritable, else Malcolm might have uttered an
imprecation on the rules, instead of asking, with quiet despair:

“How early in the morning may I be admitted?”

“With the sheriff’s order, at any time after nine.”

With this answer Malcolm bowed, and again earnestly commending Eudora to
the care of the warden, took his leave.

He first went and secured the order from the sheriff, and then sought
out Mr. Fenton, who was staying at the same over-crowded inn. He found
the unsuccessful advocate in deep despondency. They shook hands
silently, like friends meeting at a funeral, and the lawyer began to

“I did all that man and the law could do to save her, but—” His voice
broke down and he could say no more.

“I know you did,” moaned Malcolm.

“The evidence was too strong for us—”

“But not too strong for your faith in her.”

“No, no; I am an old practitioner with a long experience among
criminals, and I could stake my salvation that that child is not

“Despite her East-Indian blood?”

“Yes; and, if there were time, something might even yet be done to save

“Fenton!” exclaimed Malcolm, starting forward and gazing with breathless
eagerness, in the lawyer’s face.

“I mean, though the detectives we have hitherto employed have failed to
discover the least clue to this hideous mystery, yet if there were more
time, we might engage others who might be more successful.”

“More time! Oh, God! When is the day of her—martyrdom ordered?”

“This day, fortnight, I understand.”

Malcolm recoiled and sank into his seat. There was silence between them
for a few minutes, and then Malcolm suddenly exclaimed:

“Fenton, I know it is a desperate chance, but I cannot bear to have her
perish without another effort. Draw up a petition for a respite, and
after I have seen her to-morrow, I will myself take it up to town, and
lay it before the Home Secretary.”

“I will do so, and get as many signatures as I can in the meanwhile,”
replied the lawyer, feeling a sense of relief at the thought of doing
anything, however hopelessly, for his unhappy client; and knowing
besides, that if it did Eudora no good, it might help to console Malcolm
with the thought that nothing had been left untried to save her.

They talked over the terms of the petition, and then Malcolm, leaving
the lawyer to draw up the document, took his departure.

Loathing the thought of rest while Eudora lay in the condemned cell, he
bent his steps towards the prison, and spent the night in walking up and
down before the walls that confined the unhappy girl.

Meanwhile Eudora lay extended on the iron bed of the condemned cell. She
was still in a deep swoon; her form was rigid, her features livid, her
pulse still.

The two watchers, while conscientiously doing all they could to restore
her sensibilities, silently hoped that she might never more awake to
suffering, but that her soul might pass in that insensibility. During
that long, deep trance, her spirit must have wandered far back over
leagues of space, and years of time to the beautiful land of her birth,
and the days of her childhood, for when at dawn of morning she recovered
her senses, she looked around her with eyes full of the innocent, soft
light of girlhood, modified only by a slight surprise.

“What place is this? Where am I?” those eyes seemed to inquire, as she
gently raised herself on her elbow to examine the cell.

The watchers were silent from awe and pity; but the narrow stone walls,
the iron door, the grated window, sternly though mutely answered the
questioning gaze.

And as the truth slowly grew upon her memory, her face changed from its
look of girlish curiosity to one of terror and anguish, and with a
piercing cry, she fell back upon the pillow, and covered her eyes with
her hands.

The kind women that filled to her the double office of warders and
attendants, took her hands from her face, and began to address her with
words of sympathy; but what words of theirs had power to reach her
heart, snatched far away from ordinary human comprehension as she was by
her great woe!

She never answered, or even seemed to hear them. After the first sharp
cry that marked her returning consciousness, she lay in silent anguish.

And so the hours of the morning crept slowly on until the rising
sunbeams glanced into the cell. Then the two weary watchers were
relieved by Mrs. Barton, who came in and sent them to take some rest,
while she herself remained to put the cell in order, and assist the
nearly dying girl to get on her clothes.

“Come, my poor dear, it is better for you to try to rouse yourself a
little. Rise up and bathe your face in this nice cool water, and then
dress yourself, for some of your friends will be getting an order from
the sheriff to come and see you, they will, and you should be ready to
receive them,” said Mrs. Barton, as she poured the water into the basin,
and took the hand of Eudora to assist her to rise.

In mute despair the poor girl suffered herself to be guided. Silently
she followed all Mrs. Barton’s directions.

“Come, come, don’t give up so; while there’s life there’s hope; and I
myself have known more nor one person pardoned or commuted after they’ve
been condemned to death,” continued the good woman, trying to comfort
the prisoner while assisting at her toilet.

But the shuddering young creature seemed incapable of reply.

“Oh, dear, dear! what can I say to you? Can’t you still trust in God?”
sighed the woman.

No, Eudora could not. Innocent, yet condemned, she felt her faith in God
and man utterly fail; and lacking this support in her hour of extremity,
she sank beneath her weight of affliction; and as soon as she was
dressed and out of the hands of Mrs. Barton, she fell again upon the
bed, and buried her head in the pillow.

Her breakfast was brought her by another turnkey, and Mrs. Barton took
it from his hand and set it on the little table, while she entreated the
prisoner to rise up and try to partake of it. And Eudora, in the perfect
docility of her spirit, sat up on the side of the bed, and took the cup
of coffee in her hand and attempted to drink it, but in vain; and then,
with a deprecating look she handed the cup back to Mrs. Barton, and sank
down upon the bed. The good woman saw that she could not swallow, and so
she sent the untasted breakfast away.

A few minutes after this, Malcolm Montrose, attended by the governor of
the gaol, came to the cell. Mr. Anderson left him at the door, and
retired to a short distance in the lobby.

Malcolm had forced himself into a state of composure, and nothing but
the deadly paleness of his face betrayed his inward anguish.

When he entered the cell Eudora was still lying on the outside of the
bed, with her face buried in the pillow, while the female turnkey stood
by her side.

“How is she?” breathed the visitor, in the hushed tones of deep woe.

“Oh, sir, she has not uttered one word, or swallowed one morsel since
her conviction. Speak to her, sir; perhaps she will answer you,” said
Mrs. Barton.

“Do _you_ speak to her; tell her that I am here,” requested Malcolm, in
a faltering voice, as he struggled to retain an outward composure.

The woman bent over the stricken girl, and whispered:

“Miss Leaton, dear, here is your cousin, Mr. Montrose, come to see you.
Won’t you turn and look at him?”

The name of Malcolm broke the spell of dumb despair that bound her.
Starting up, she caught the hands of her cousin in both her own, and
gazing in an agony of supplication in his face, she exclaimed:

“Oh, Malcolm, save me from this fate! No one will save me unless you

He dropped upon his knees beside the bed, and bowed his head upon her
clinging hands, and answered, in a broken voice:

“Eudora, all that man can do shall be done to save you! I would pour out
my heart’s best blood to deliver you.”

“Malcolm,” she exclaimed, still clinging to his hands as the drowning
cling to the last plank, and gazing down on his bowed face, with her
eyes dilated and blazing between wild terror and mad hope, “Malcolm, I
did not do what they say I must die for! you _know_ I did not! Oh,
surely there must be some way to prove it—some way that you can find
out! Oh, Malcolm! try—try hard to save me from this fate! Oh! do not
think that I am a coward, Malcolm! It is not death I fear. I should not
dread dying in my bed with some devoted friend beside me, as sweet
Agatha died! But to be hung! to die a violent, struggling, shameful
death, with all the people looking at me!—oh! for Heaven’s sake,
Malcolm, save me from such maddening horror!”

“Eudora! child! love! it is not necessary for you to urge me so
earnestly. I would give my body to be burned if that would save you! and
all that human power can accomplish shall be tried to deliver you. I
have not been idle since your conviction. Already I have set on foot a
scheme by which I hope to serve you!” replied Malcolm.

“Oh, Malcolm, devoted friend, before you came in I feared that even God
had forsaken me, but now I do not think so. Your plan, dear friend, what
is it?”

Mr. Montrose had not intended to tell her of his mission to London, lest
he should only raise false hopes; but it was not possible to behold her
agonizing terror of pain and shame, or hear her earnest appeals for
comfort and deliverance, without immediately responding and yielding her

“I have a petition drawn up, praying the Crown to respite you during her
Majesty’s pleasure; I shall take the petition to London and lay it
before the Home Secretary. If he favors it, as I hope, and trust, and
believe he will, it will give us time to investigate this dark mystery,
discover the criminal and deliver you.”

“Oh, Malcolm, do you think he will?” cried Eudora, with clasped hands.

“I shall know, dearest, in twenty-four hours. I shall take the first
train, to London, that starts at ten o’clock. I came here to see you
before setting out, and to implore you to trust in God, to pray to him,
and to keep up your spirits until I return.”

“Will you be gone long?” asked Eudora, still clinging to his hands.

“Two or three days perhaps; but I will write to you by every mail, and
telegraph you the moment I get a favorable answer.”

“Oh, may God speed your errand!” she exclaimed, fervently clasping her

“Amen. And now, dear one, I have but twenty minutes to catch the train.
Eudora, in parting with you for a short time, I would recommend you to
see the chaplain of the prison. He is a truly righteous man, and his
conversation will do you good.”

“I will see him, if only to please you,” she answered.

“And, now, dear one, good-bye for the present, and may the Father of the
fatherless, and the God of the innocent, watch over you!” said Malcolm,
lifting her hands to his lips with reverential tenderness before leaving
the cell.

Half an hour later Malcolm, with the petition in his pocket, was
steaming onward in the express train for London.

It was soon known throughout the town that Mr. Montrose had gone to the
city with a memorial to the Crown for a respite or commutation of Eudora
Leaton’s sentence; but not one human being that discussed the subject
believed for one instant that his desperate enterprise could possibly be

The chaplain of the gaol was the Reverend William Goodall, a grave,
gentle, sympathetic young man, who greatly feared that the youthful
prisoner was really guilty, and earnestly desired to bring her into a
state of hopeful penitence.

With this view, early in the afternoon, he visited Eudora in her cell,
and sought by every argument to counteract the effect of that false hope
which had been raised in her breast, and which he firmly believed was
the only thing that withheld her from repentance and confession.

But to all his exhortations the unhappy girl responded:

“Oh, sir, this one little hope is the only vital nerve that quivers in
my bosom; kill it, and you destroy me, even before the appointed
death-day! Oh, Mr. Goodall, leave me this little hope!”

“But, my poor child,” said the young minister, gazing with the deepest
compassion upon the almost infantile face of the girl, “it is false,
delusive expectation, that is luring you on to certain and everlasting
destruction of soul as well as body, by keeping you from that full
confession and repentance which is your only chance of salvation.”

“But it does not, Mr. Goodall. I have nothing to confess or repent; at
least, nothing but my common share in erring human nature; and for
redemption from that I have been taught to trust in God’s mercy through
our Saviour.”

The young minister groaned in spirit as he replied:

“But, poor, blind child, while you keep a guilty secret in your breast,
that mercy cannot reach you; and while a single hope of life is left you
here, you will not part with that secret. Abandon all such delusive
hopes, Eudora; confess, repent, and cherish these heavenly hopes of
pardon and redemption that never yet deceived a penitent sinner.”

“It is useless for us to talk longer, I fear; we speak only at
cross-purposes. You believe me guilty, and urge me to abandon all the
expectations of mercy in this world, and to confess crimes that I never
committed; while I know that I am innocent, and upon that knowledge
found all my anticipations of deliverance. I am sorry that we cannot
agree; for I do need religious consolation and support, but it must be
administered by one who is a sufficiently subtle ‘discerner of spirits’
to recognize the truth when I speak it,” said Eudora, with gentle

The young minister drove his fingers through his dark hair, and gathered
his brows into a deep frown, not of anger, but of intense perplexity;
for the clear, unflinching gaze of her eyes, the calm, unwavering tones
of her voice, and the keen and powerful aura of truth that seemed to
emanate from her whole presence shook his convictions of her guilt. He
felt the necessity of withdrawing from this disturbing influence in
order to examine his own conscience. Rising, he took her hand, and said:

“My poor child, I will leave you for the present; but I shall not cease
to bear you upon my heart to the Throne of Grace, and I will come to you
again in the evening.”

And then he left the cell.

Eudora clung to her little hope as the young cling to life. She had
called it the only vital nerve that quivered in her bosom. Yet it would
be scarcely true to say that she was the happier for it.

The days of Malcolm’s absence were passed by her in a high fever of
suspense. By every mail she received letters from him assuring her of
his undying devotion and zealous efforts in her behalf, and entreating
her still to pray and to trust.

The chaplain also kept his word, and visited her frequently, still
exhorting her, with tearful earnestness, to resign all expectations of
earthly life, and to turn her thoughts towards heaven. But still Eudora
clung with death-like tenacity to her hopes of deliverance.

“You think that I am sinking fast in this stormy sea of trouble that
threatens to overwhelm me, and you ask me to let go the slender plank
that keeps me up, and to resign myself to death—but I will not! I will
cling to this plank of life! I will not let it go! I will grasp it—I
will possess it—it shall save me!” was still Eudora’s answer to all the
young minister’s fervent exhortations.

“Ah, well! I see it is in vain to reason with you in your present mood
of mind. You still insanely hope against hope. But when Mr. Montrose
returns without the respite you expect, and you feel that your fate in
this world is sealed, when death stares you in the face, you will listen
to my counsels, disburden your bosom of its guilty secret, and give your
soul to repentance,” was ever the minister’s final reply when he
concluded each visit.

Alas! these interviews were productive of little satisfaction to either

Eudora could derive no comfort from the conversation of even a good
minister, who founded all his exhortations upon the mistaken theory of
her guilt; and Mr. Goodall almost despaired of benefitting one whom he
considered an obstinate sinner, wickedly refusing to confess and repent.

But as the weary days passed, Eudora felt more keenly the protracted
anguish of suspense, and the increasing difficulty of holding fast the
little hope that sustained her; for, although Malcolm continued to write
to her by every mail, and in every letter endeavored to keep up her
courage, yet he gave her no definite information. His stay was
protracted from day to day, as though he were engaged in prosecuting an
almost desperate enterprise which he was resolved to accomplish.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

                  She looked how pallid there!
                Not starting, sighing, weeping now;
                The quiet anguish of her brow
                  Was written by Despair.
                Ah me! despite a governed breast,
                Seeming the while in placid rest,
                  What anguish soul may bear!—_Michell._

When Malcolm had been gone a week, and Eudora’s life was almost worn out
by the long-drawn anguish of hope deferred, she was sitting in the
morning in her cell, in danger of dropping once more into the death-like
torpor of despair, when the door was opened by the governor, who

“A friend to see Miss Leaton,” and retired.

Eudora sprang forward, expecting to meet Malcolm Montrose, but she found
herself confronted with a stranger—a very young, slight, graceful girl,
dressed in simple but elegant mourning, and deeply veiled; and even when
the stranger threw aside her veil Eudora failed to recognize in this
elegantly-dressed young lady Annella Wilder, the tipsy captain’s
half-starved daughter, whom she had befriended in the poor London

“You do not know me, Miss Miller—I mean Miss Leaton—and I—oh!” began
Annella, but losing her self-command, she burst into tears, and threw
herself in the arms of Eudora, who, weakened by long, intense suffering,
sat down in her chair, and would have drawn the girl to her bosom, but
Annella sank to the floor, and dropped her head on Eudora’s lap, sobbing

Miss Leaton could not understand this excessive emotion. She recollected
Annella’s unfortunate barrack education, her utter destitution after her
father’s death, and her wild flight from London; and seeing now the
costliness of her attire, and being totally ignorant of the change in
her circumstances, the mind of Eudora was filled with the darkest fears
for Annella. But if she should find that this young, friendless, and
inexperienced girl had really come to grief, Eudora resolved to befriend
her as far as possible by interesting the noble-hearted Malcolm in her
fate to save her from irremediable ruin. While these thoughts coursed
through the young prisoner’s mind, she gently untied her visitor’s
bonnet and laid it on the bed, and softly caressed the bowed head, while
she inquired, in a low voice:

“What is the matter, dear Annella? I am not so utterly bewildered by my
own woe but that I may be able to comfort you. Tell me what trouble you
are in, and if I cannot help you very long myself, because I may have to
die next Wednesday, I can leave you to one who will be a brother to you
for my sake.”

“Oh, Miss Leaton, Miss Leaton, say no more! Every word you speak goes
through my heart like a spear!” cried Annella, breaking into harder

“No, no, don’t say so! I wish only to do you good. Tell me the nature of
the difficulty you are in,” said Eudora, gently caressing the weeping

“Oh! I am in no difficulty myself; it is all right enough with me
personally, and far better than I deserve, Heaven forgive me! And even
if it were not, how could I think of my good-for-nothing self while you
are in such terrible straits!” cried Annella, wildly sobbing.

“Then do not weep for me, kind girl; it can do no good, you see.”

“Oh, but you don’t know how much reason I have to weep—yes, tears of
blood, Eudora; for it was I that did it! I! I!”

“_You!_—did what?” asked Eudora, in astonishment.

“Betrayed you, as Judas did his master, wretch that I am! I wish I was
hung!” cried Annella, amid choking sobs.

“You?—betrayed me? I do not understand you in the least.”

“I set the police on your track, mean scamp, that I am! I told them
where to find you! I gave you up! Oh! if there is any marrying down
below, they ought to wed me to Judas Iscariot!”

“But—how could you have known that I was Eudora Leaton of whom they were
in pursuit?” inquired the deeply-shocked girl.

“I _didn’t_ know it! I was not so irredeemably bad as _that_ either!
Perhaps even Judas did not know all the evil he was doing when he
betrayed his Master. If I had known it I would have bit my own tongue
off rather than told it. But I had to chatter about you and describe
you, and tell all I knew of you, until I raised suspicion, and they went
and arrested you; and that was the return you got for your kindness to
me! Oh, I wish somebody would strangle me, for I am too wicked and
unlucky to live!” exclaimed Annella, with streaming tears and
suffocating gasps.

“But, poor girl, if you did not know what you were doing you have
nothing to reproach yourself with,” said Eudora, kindly stroking her
bowed hair; for all this time Annella’s head lay in the lap of the

“Yes, yes, I have; conscience is the true judge, and it assures me that
ignorance is no excuse; and that instinct should have taught me silence.
I came here to confess this to you, Miss Leaton; to let you know how
wicked I have been; but not to ask you to pardon me. I do not want you
to do that; I do not wish even the Lord to do it—I would much rather be
punished,” exclaimed Annella, hysterically.

“Dear girl, do not talk so wildly. You have done nothing to require
pardon. If you were unconsciously the means of my arrest, it was not
your fault.”

“But if you should perish, I should feel as if I were your murderer. But
you shall not perish! I hear that Mr. Montrose is in London, petitioning
the Crown for a respite. I hope he will succeed; but even if he should
not, mind, Miss Leaton, you shall not perish! I swear it before High
Heaven!” exclaimed Annella, wiping her eyes, and looking up.

“You must believe me innocent, or you would never speak with such

“Believe! I _know_ you are; and if everyone else fails, _I_ will save
you—I _will_, if I die for it! I pledge my soul’s salvation to that!”

“Alas! poor child, look at these thick walls and heavy locks; how could
you help me?”

“I do not know yet _how_, but I _do_ know that I _will_ somehow!—as the
Lord hears me, I will!”

“I take the disposition for the deed, and thank you as much as if you
were able to keep your word; and above all, I bless you that you do me
the justice to believe me guiltless. Ah, dear girl, I have been so
tortured by the chaplain of this prison, who thinks me guilty, and urges
me to confess. It is so distressing to be thought such a monster by so
good a man.”

“Good, is he, and yet believes you guilty? Then he does not know a white
dove from a black crow, which is tantamount to saying that his reverence
is a fool, begging his pardon. But indeed most of the good people I know
_are_ fools. It seems as if nature were so impartial in the distribution
of her gifts, that she seldom endows the same individual with both
wisdom and goodness at the same time. There’s my three grannies, I mean
the male granny and the two female grannies, all with such good hearts,
but la! such weak heads. Anybody can whirl their minds round and round
as the wind does the weathercocks. La! you shall judge for yourself. At
the trial, when the prosecuting attorney-general was abusing you, he
carried them along with himself until they believed you to be a perfect
demon of iniquity. Then, when your counsel was defending you, he carried
them along with himself, until they believed you to be a persecuted
cherub. Then, when the judge summed up both sides, they were equally
drawn by opposite opinions, and could not make up their minds whether
you were an angel or a devil. Finally, when the jury brought in their
verdict, they comfortably decided that you were the latter, and so went
home happy to supper and bed. La! and we are requested _always_ to
respect our elders!”

“Certainly, dear Annella,” said Eudora, gravely.

“Wish they were always respectable, then.”

“Annella, you shock me, dear; old age must be reverenced.”

“Can’t help it. I haven’t got a particle of reverence in my composition;
it is all owing to my barrack bringing up, I suppose.”

“I suppose it is, poor girl; but, Annella, you seem to have found

“Reckon I have; three grannies, I told you.”


“I’ll tell you. As I was trying to make out Allworth Abbey, what do I do
but fall over an old servant, half-sailor, half-valet, who caught me
trespassing on private grounds, and hauled me up before his master, like
a vagrant before a magistrate; and when I told my story, who does the
old gent turn up to be but my own granny, who was living in that fine
house the Anchorage, with two other old ladies, also my grannies.”

“The Anchorage; then you must speak of Sir Ira Brunton and his family?”
said Eudora in astonishment.

“Just. He quarrelled with my mother and father, and cast them off, but
he took me in when he found me dragged over his threshold. Shall I tell
you all the particulars? Would it interest you?”

“Very much, indeed,” said Eudora, forgetting for the moment her own
awful situation in her interest in Annella’s fortunes.

The girl began and related her adventures as they are already known to
the reader.

The narrative won the prisoner from the contemplation of her own
sorrows, and at its close she put out her hand and took that of Annella,

“I am very glad for your sake, dear.”

“_But I am not_,” exclaimed Annella, recurring to her cause of grief and
remorse. “I had rather remained in London, and have met all that I most
dreaded—the union, a vulgar task-mistress, beggary, anything, rather
than have come down here to betray you. But I did not mean it, Eudora;
oh, indeed I did not! I would have died rather than have brought you to
this. But I did not even suspect your identity until I recognized you in
the court-room, and even then I did not know that I had had any hand in
your arrest until I got home that evening, and Tabitha Tabs, the
lady’s-maid, told me it was all my doings; that it was from my talk that
they had gained the clue to your hiding-place; and oh, Eudora, I felt
that she was telling the truth, and I felt as if I had been knocked down
with a club, and I have been ill ever since. If I had been well, do you
think I would have stayed away from you so long?”

“No, dear Annella; but I wonder you got leave to visit me at all.”

“I believe you; it was very difficult. First I asked my grandfather to
bring me, but he refused and blowed me up in the bargain; then I watched
my opportunity and put on my bonnet and walked straight here, and the
governor refused to admit me without an order from the sheriff; then I
went and hunted up the sheriff, and asked him if he would give me an
order to see you, and he roared out ‘No,’ as if he would have bit my
head off for asking him, and then I went to the prison chaplain, and
told him what a kind friend you had been to me, and what a traitor I had
been to you, and how broken my heart was, and I cried, and begged and
prayed him to get an order for me, and he got it from the sheriff and
gave it to me, and so here I am. But I did not come for nothing, Eudora,
I said you should not perish, and you shall not, as Heaven hears me,”
added Annella, in a low whisper, as she glanced jealously over her
shoulder at Mrs. Barton, who was squeezing herself tightly into the
farthest corner of the little cell, to be as far off as her office would

“What is that woman waiting here for? It is very rude. Why does she not
go away and leave us together?” inquired Annella, in a whisper.

“Dear, it is her duty to remain. I am not permitted to be left alone for
an instant.”

“Well, I suppose that is meant kindly, as you are in such deep trouble;
but you are not alone now; I am with you, so she can go. Tell her to

“Dear, you mistake; it is not in kindness, but for security, that I am
guarded in this way, and Mrs. Barton dares not leave me, even at my

“But I wish to talk to you privately; I don’t want her to hear every
word we say,” exclaimed Annella, in a vehement whisper.

“But no one can be allowed to talk to me so; and she is here for the
very purpose of hearing all that we have to say,” replied Eudora,

“But that is very hard.”

“It is the invariable rule; and as it is a wise precaution, used in all
cases such as mine, I cannot complain of it.”

“But why is it used?”

“Because, Annella, if the friends of the condemned were allowed to visit
them in private, they might bring them the means of escape.”

At this moment Annella became very pale, and gave an hysterical sob.

“Or,” continued Eudora, “what is worse, they might bring them some
instrument of self-destruction, for many a prisoner would gladly seek
death in the cell rather than meet the shame and anguish of—”

Her voice choked, and she shuddered throughout her frame.

“But, would you—would you, Eudora?” questioned the girl, in an eager

“I should not dread death so much if I could meet it here in my bed—even
here in prison, and alone—but I would not seek it, Annella. I would
never commit crime to escape suffering.”

“_Hish!_ can that woman hear me when I speak as low as this?” whispered
Annella, close to the ear of Eudora.

“Yes, every syllable. The round stone walls of this little cell seem
formed to echo every sound. She hears even this reply.”

“I wish she was hung, and I don’t care if she hears that.”

“Hush, she is very good to me; you must not offend her, because she only
does her duty.”

“Please, miss, I am not offended; I would take a’most anything from any
friend of yours; it’s quite nat’ral as they should hate and despise me
for sitting here a-keeping guard over an innocent creetur like you; sure
I often hates and despises myself, and I wonder _you_ don’t too,” said
Mrs. Barton, putting her apron to her eyes and beginning to cry.

Annella wheeled around and took a good look at the woman; then suddenly
putting out her hand, she said:

“I beg your pardon—I do indeed, sincerely. I ought not to have spoken as
I did; but you see I am not good, and never was, nor shall be; and when
my heart bleeds, my temper burns and my tongue raves.”

“No offence, Miss, as I said afore; I only wonders as _she_ don’t
mortally hate and despise me,” said Mrs. Barton, wiping her eyes and

Annella, who had been gazing at Mrs. Barton with intense interest, arose
with a pale face, trembling limbs, and quick and gasping breath, and
approaching her, whispered:

“You called Miss Leaton innocent. You believe her to be so?”

“Yes, I do; and I would not believe otherwise if all the archbishops and
all the bishops, priests, and deacons in the kingdom was to swear she is
guilty, and take the sacrament on it,” said the woman, earnestly.

“And therefore you must see that it is very cruel she should be doomed
to suffer,” said Annella, eagerly.

“It’s martyr’om; that’s what it is.”

“Hush! listen!” continued Annella, bending low; “you would like to see
her free of this place, would you not?”

“Oh, wouldn’t I though! Sure, I pray for her deliverance every night and
morning on my knees,” sobbed Mrs. Barton.

“And—you would help her to escape, if a good plan was laid, and it was
all safe for you?” inquired Annella, in a low, breathless whisper.


“If you could do it safely, without endangering yourself, you would
connive at her escape, would you not?”

“Eh? What? I don’t understand you; but I would do anything in the world
I could for her. Sure, she knows that without my telling her.”

“Well, then, listen! But stop—what hours do you watch with her?”

“From six to twelve in the morning, and then from six to twelve at

“Very well; no, if I were to come again to-morrow morning while you have
the watch, couldn’t you contrive to turn your back and shut your eyes
and pretend to drop asleep while I change clothes with her, and let her
walk out closely veiled in my place?”

“Eh! What! No, Miss.”

“But why?”

“Lawk, Miss, I dar’n’t.”

“Oh, you need not be afraid of consequences; there would be no danger to
you. You might be suspected, but you could not be convicted, for no one
on earth could prove that, overcome by fatigue you didn’t fall asleep;
and so the worse that could befall you would be the loss of your
place—for I do suppose they would not keep a female warder who was
addicted to falling asleep on her watch. But, Mrs. Barton, any loss you
might sustain, should be made up to you a hundred-fold.”

“’Taint that, Miss; I ain’t afeared of nothink but doing wrong. I
dar’n’t let her escape.”

“But it would be a meritorious act, helping the innocent to evade
unmerited death.”

“So it would, Miss, under some circumstances; but, you see, when I took
this place, I pledged myself to obey the laws, and to watch over the
safe custody of the prisoners under my charge. And so I dar’n’t break my
word, or betray my trust, Miss—no, not even to save her precious life,
as it melts my heart to see her suffer so,” said Mrs. Barton, putting
her apron up to her face, and beginning to cry again.

“Not if I was to offer you five hundred pounds—a thousand pounds?”

“Not if so be as you were to offer me ten thousand, Miss,” sobbed the

“Look at Eudora, then; if you won’t let her go, only look at her,” said
Annella, artfully.

Mrs. Barton dropped her apron, and turned her eyes towards the prisoner,
who sat upon the side of her bed, with her head bent forward, her cheeks
flushed, her lips apart, her eyes strained outward, and her hands
clasped and extended in mute, eloquent appeal for freedom.

“I can’t look at her; it cleaves my heart in two, it does!” sobbed Mrs.
Barton, covering her face again.

With a sudden impulse, Eudora started forward, and clasped the hand of
her warder, exclaiming:

“Oh, listen to her! Listen to my friend! Give me leave to get away if I
can; give me this one _little_ chance of life. Think—I have got but one
week to live; one short week, and then I am to die such a horrible
death! Oh, pity me! let me go!”

“Oh, this is dreadful—dreadful! I would do anything in the world for
you, poor child; but I dar’n’t do this—I dar’n’t betray my trust,”
replied Mrs. Barton, wildly weeping.

“Suppose I was your own child, you would let me go—you would risk your
soul’s salvation to free me; or, if I had a mother, she would move
heaven and earth to save me—but I am motherless. Oh, pity me as if I
were your child, and let me go!”

“I darn’t; Lord help me, I darn’t. And even if I did, poor dear, it
wouldn’t save you; you’d be known and tuk up again afore you got outside
of the prison gates. Lawk, yes; afore you even got to the head o’ the
stairs o’ this very ward; and then your case would be worse nor it is

“It _could not_ be worse; and if the chance is ever so small, still it
_is_ one. Oh, give me this little, little chance of life! I do not
deserve to die this horrible death.”

“I’d rather die this minute myself than refuse you. I mustn’t be a
traitor. Sure, you wouldn’t have me go agin my conscience?”

Without another word Eudora turned and sat down on the bed, dropped her
clasped hands upon her lap, her pale face upon her breast, and sat in an
attitude and expression of blended shame and resignation.

“How could you be so hard-hearted and cruel?” exclaimed Annella.

“I’m not so, Miss; contrariwise, it a’most breaks my heart to refuse
her, but even so I must do my duty,” sobbed Mrs. Barton, with her apron
once more at her eyes.

“Oh, bother your duty,” exclaimed Annella, with indignant vehemence.
“That word is as good as a dose of tartar-emetic to me, for I do believe
there is more sin committed in the name of duty than ever has been
perpetrated at the instigation of any devil in Pandemonium from Moloch
down. I am not as old as the north star, but even I have noticed all my
life, when anyone is going to do anything so abominably wicked or
shamefully mean that Satan himself would blush to own it, they father it
upon duty.”

“Well, duty is not the less sacred nor incumbent upon us on that
account. Many ill deeds have been done in the name of the Most High, but
we do not, for that, worship the Divine name the less,” said Eudora,

“Oh, Miss, I hopes you do not think as I am a hypocrite as acts wicked
an’ mean in the presence of duty?” asked Mrs. Barton, still sobbing.

“No, I am sure you acted conscientiously in refusing to aid my escape.
It was I who did wrong. I ought not to have made such an appeal to you,
or worked upon your feelings, or tempted your fidelity. But I was
carried away by my emotions—I forgot myself—I acted upon the impulse of
the moment. The temptation was so strong—death seemed so bitter, life so
sweet,” said Eudora, with a deep sigh.

“Oh, how can you be so cruel as still to refuse to let her go? Even
supposing it would be wrong, you might do a _little_ wrong for mercy’s
sake, and to save her from perishing,” pleaded Annella.

“Do not tempt her farther, dear. God is omnipotent; if He wills He can
deliver me, but to tempt His creatures is no way to gain His favor,”
said Eudora.

“That’s it, Miss; do right, and trust in Him as can save even at the
eleventh hour,” commented Mrs. Barton, wiping her eyes. “And now listen;
I hear the other warder coming. Don’t attempt to talk to her as you have
to me, for _she_ would think it _her_ place to report the conversation
to the governor.”

At this moment, without an instant’s warning, the door was unlocked,
Mrs. Barton peremptorily called out, and her substitute admitted.

The new comer was a stern, “grim-visaged” woman, who took her seat with
the stolid indifference of one long hardened to her cruel office.

Annella, not daring, for Eudora’s sake, to speak freely before this
she-dragon, yet had not the heart to take leave of her unhappy friend.
She sat down beside her on the cot, and silently took and held her hand.
She remained as long as she possibly could do so, and then, in parting,
promised to re-visit Eudora, if permitted, the next day.

With the departure of the wild, though true-hearted girl, a sunbeam
seemed to have been withdrawn from the cell.

During her visit, Eudora’s agonizing consciousness of her situation had
been suspended, or modified.

Nature, indeed, the most tender of mothers, never permits her children
to endure a long continued strain of suffering, whether of mind or body.
She makes the tortured victim faint upon the rack, and in
unconsciousness lose the sense of physical agony. She gives the mourner
long intervals of stupor, distraction of hope, to alleviate the effect
of mental anguish.

Such a blessing had come to Eudora with the entrance of Annella, but had
gone with her exit. After the departure of her visitor, all the full
realization of her dreadful position rushed back upon the mind of Eudora
and overwhelmed her, and she sank upon the bed in the collapse of

She had not remained thus many minutes before the door was once more
unlocked, another “friend to see Miss Leaton” announced, and Malcolm
Montrose entered the cell.

Forgetting everything else, Eudora started up and sprang towards him,

“Oh, Malcolm, have you come at last? What a weary, weary time you have
been away! God bless you, I am so glad to see you! But, oh, Malcolm!
will they let me live? Quick, tell me if you will!”

He could not answer her; he pressed her hand with an unconsciously cruel
force, while he turned away his face in silent misery.

She looked at him in sudden terror, and in the written agony of his brow
she read the truth. Her beating heart grew still as death; her flushed
cheek turned pale as marble, and she sank upon her seat and covered her
face with her hands.

He sat down by her side, took one of her hands in his own, and essayed
to speak; but his voice refused its office.

Then with that wonderful strength which comes even to the weakest woman
in the direst distress, she controlled her own agitation, and wishing to
save him the pain of announcing the fatal intelligence, she quietly

“I am to die.”

He pressed her hand in mute despair, and not another word was spoken
between them. They sat with clasped hands side by side, until the hour
of closing the prison separated them. Then, in taking leave, Malcolm,
with a broken voice, faltered forth:

“I will see you again, to-morrow.”

She answered:


And so they parted.

That evening it was known throughout the town that the petition for a
respite or commutation of Eudora Leaton’s sentence had been rejected;
that all hope of saving her life was abandoned, and that the execution
appointed for Wednesday morning would certainly proceed.

                              CHAPTER XXV.
                         THE APPEAL OF DESPAIR.

                “A friend! and thine the ruthless part
                  To break the bruised reed;
                Coldly to crush the trusting heart
                  In time of deepest need;
                To quench the lingering, quivering ray,
                  Of Hope’s just dying light,
                Thus spreading o’er life’s dreary way
                  One deep unbroken night.”

The next morning, while Malcolm Montrose sat within his private parlor
at the “Leaton Arms,” crushed by the failure of his last hopes, the door
was suddenly thrown open, and a young girl, dressed in mourning, with a
face pale as death, and a manner dreadfully agitated, hastily entered
the room.

“So your mission to the Home Secretary has not succeeded!” were the
first abrupt words uttered by the visitor, as she threw aside her veil,
and stood before Mr. Montrose.

Malcolm sighed, and looked in surprise at this singular intruder.

“And you pretend to be in earnest in your desire to save her, yet could
not accomplish your object?” exclaimed the girl in bitter, and scornful

“I would have given my life for hers; I would give it now, could the
gift save her!” groaned Malcolm, in deep bitterness of spirit.

“And yet you failed to obtain even a respite of her sentence!”

“Because,” said Malcolm, sorrowfully, “the Home Secretary was unable, on
account of the illness of the judge, who tried the case, to consult him
on the subject.”

“And so I suppose she must suffer on Wednesday?”

Malcolm choked, and faltered:


“And you affect to love her, and yet say that? Oh! man! man! you love
her not! But I love her, and I say she shall not die!” exclaimed the
girl, with an impassioned earnestness that caused the young man to start
and look up at her with amazement.

Clearly he supposed his strange visitor to be mad.

“She shall not die, I repeat!” said the girl, in answer to his
astonished gaze.

“Who are you, young woman, who seem to take such an earnest interest in
the fate of that unhappy lady?” inquired Malcolm, gently.

“One who is far too deeply in earnest to abandon Eudora Leaton to her
unmerited fate; one who will save her despite of judge, jury, gaoler,
and sheriff,” replied the visitor.

“Alas! poor girl!” sighed Malcolm, feeling sure that he was in the
presence of some compassionate young lunatic.

“See here, Mr. Malcolm Montrose. I am not beside myself although your
looks seem to say so; and although, if trouble ever crazed anybody, I
should be mad!”

“But who are you, then, young woman, who are so kindly solicitous—”

“What does it matter who I am?” impatiently interrupted the visitor. “I
am Annella Wilder, the grand-daughter of Admiral Brunton for his sins!
But that is not of the slightest consequence. What _is_ of the utmost
importance is my errand here to plan with you the rescue of Eudora

She paused for breath, for all this time she had been speaking with
eager, earnest, impassioned vehemence; but as Malcolm still regarded her
with a fixed, inquiring, distrustful look, she broke forth again,

“Oh, I see you still think I am mad! but I am not. I am only nervous,
anxious, and excited; and very conscious of being so! How should I be
otherwise? I have slept but little since her conviction, and not at all
since the last hope of a respite failed. I have lain awake night after
night planning how we might free her. And scheme after scheme has surged
through and through my brain, until I have grown almost wild from
excitement and loss of sleep. So I scarcely wonder that you think me
mad; but surely you must see now that I am not.”

“Young lady, I thank you from the depths of a most grateful heart for
the deep interest you take in Miss Leaton, whose misfortunes must be her
only claim to your regard; for you are probably a stranger to her, and
cannot know the excellence of her character,” said Malcolm.

“Can’t I? There you are mistaken. She is no stranger, but the dearest
friend I have in the world!” exclaimed Annella, who immediately poured
forth in a few vehement words the history of her acquaintance with

All this time Annella had been standing before Malcolm, who had remained

He understood her now, and recollected himself. He arose, took her hand,
and led her to a seat with respectful tenderness, saying, deprecatingly:

“I beg you will forgive me, Miss Wilder, but this heavy calamity has
quite unmanned me, and made me oblivious even of the common courtesies
of life.”

“I know, I know,” said Annella, impatiently, “but don’t waste words of
apology on me, I don’t want that; I want your immediate co-operation in
a plan for the rescue of Eudora.”

“Kind girl, I thank you earnestly in Eudora’s name; but any plan you
might arrange I greatly fear must prove impossible of execution.”

“_Do_ you love her, and _can_ you talk of fear and of impossibility in
reference to any scheme for her deliverance?” exclaimed Annella,

“Miss Wilder, I told you that I would gladly purchase her life with my
own, if I could be permitted to do so; but for any plan for her rescue,
dear girl, I can have but little hope.”


“Ah, Miss Wilder! have you reflected upon the strength of that prison,
and the vigilance and incorruptibility of its officers?”

“The strength of the prison is a hard material fact that I cannot deny;
the vigilance of its officers is also very evident to the most casual
observer; but their incorruptibility—bah! Voltaire, or Solomon, or
Robinson Crusoe, or somebody said, that every man could be bought if
you’d only pay him his own price! Now, how do you know that the officers
are incorruptible? Is anybody perfect? Are you? The only question is,
have you money enough to bribe the gaoler to favor her escape?”

“I do not think I have. For I do not think that any sum would bribe

“You do not _half_ love her! But how much money have you got?” inquired
Annella, with eager interest.

Malcolm paused a moment, and then answered:

“I could raise five thousand pounds.”

“La! why that would buy an archbishop or a prime minister, much more a
poor provincial gaoler!”

“You have a bad opinion of human nature.”

“Got a right to. The only human being with whom I am intimately
acquainted—and that’s myself—I _know_ deserves to be put in a pillory;
and all the rest except a few ought to be hung! But try the gaoler with
the offer of five thousand pounds. That sum will be an irresistible
inducement to a man in his circumstances—especially if you can convince
him of what I believe to be the truth—that he will be doing a
meritorious act in assisting the escape of an innocent girl.”

“Really, your reasoning has a certain plausibility in it. ‘The drowning
catch at straws,’ and I am inclined to seize upon your idea. What is the
plan of escape that you wish that the gaoler should be brought to

“I said _bought_ to favor! Oh, it is a very simple one. I go to the
prison closely veiled. I propose to change dress with Eudora, and let
her walk out in my gown, mantle, bonnet, and veil, while the gaoler,
upon some pretence or another draws off the warders to some other part
of the building, so that she can pass out uninterruptedly. And you could
have a close carriage somewhere near, put her into it, and drive at once
to the sea-coast, where you must have a fishing-smack already hired to
take her away. Meanwhile, when they come to look for her, they find me!”

“But do you know, kind girl, even if your plan should succeed, what
would be the penalty to yourself for assisting the escape of a convicted
prisoner?” inquired Malcolm, gravely.

“No, nor care! They couldn’t hang me, and even if they could, I
shouldn’t mind a little hanging in the cause of a friend!” said Annella,
cheerfully, for her spirits were rising with sanguine hopes of success.

“They would transport you for life!”

“Well, let them, if it would be any comfort to them for the escape of
Eudora! It would only be giving me a free passage to Australia, and I
want to see the world. I dare say Botany Bay is not the worst place on
the face of the earth. They say convicts there in a very short time are
able to retire on ample fortunes. In a word, I should be transported
with joy to be sent over for Miss Leaton’s sake. ‘Variety is the spice
of existence,’ and that would be one of the spices!” said Annella,
gaily, for in Malcolm’s evident acquiescence her spirits were rising.

“Your plan shall be tried,” said Mr. Montrose, gravely, “the more
readily that I do not believe you would really come to harm through it.
But are you sure that even if you win over the gaoler, you have courage
to act out your own part? Remember that yours is far the most perilous
part of all. My hand would scarcely be seen in it. The gaoler, with five
thousand pounds, could afford to leave the country, but you would be
found in the cell, and have to face—”

“The music of the row they’d raise! I know it. I’m not afraid. Go ahead.
I’ll do my part,” said Annella, bravely.

“If the peril were all my own—”

“Now you are at your doubts and hesitations again. Think of Eudora’s
peril, and act with decision.”

“You are right, Eudora only should be thought of now, but when she is
once in safety, my dear girl, I will devote all my energies to helping
you out of any trouble you may get into upon her account,” replied

“Thank you kindly, but I will not trouble you. I shall help myself, as I
have done all my life. I had a great deal rather you would tell me when
we shall begin to help Eudora,” said Annella, bravely.

“Immediately. I was only waiting here for the hour of opening the prison
to arrive. Now, by the time we can walk thither it will have come, and
we can be admitted. I shall go at once to the gaoler, and in a private
interview, open my plan to him. You, meanwhile, can visit Eudora in her
cell; but I beseech you, say not one word of the plan of deliverance to
her until we discover whether the gaoler can be induced to favor it, for
the subject might only agitate with vain hopes a soul that is piously
trying to resign itself to death,” said Montrose.

“Why, do you think me an idiot? Of course I should say nothing to her
prematurely, even if I had the opportunity, which I should not have, as
one of those women warders is always on guard over her.”

“True; but if the governor can be induced to co-operate with us, he will
make some opportunity for me to convey the news to Eudora. Then I will
hurry away, and make every arrangement for the flight, which may be
accomplished to-morrow,” said Montrose, rising, and taking his hat and

They immediately left the hotel, and walked rapidly on to the prison,
exhibited the sheriff’s order, and were at once admitted.

While they waited for a minute in the hall, for some turnkey to attend
them, Annella inquired in a breathless whisper:

“After your interview with the governor, you will come immediately to


“But one of the warders will be with her, and you cannot speak of it
before either of them, how, then, shall I know whether your appeal has
been successful?”

“By my face! Could I, with all the self-control of my nature, repress
the satisfaction you would read there if I had succeeded, or the despair
you would see there if I had failed?”

“But you will _not_ fail. You are sure to succeed,” said Annella,

At this moment a turnkey came forward with his bunch of keys.

“Be kind enough to say to the governor that I wish to see him, and then
conduct this young lady to Miss Leaton’s presence,” said Montrose.

The officer bowed, opened a side door, and announced:

“A gentleman to see the governor.”

Then touching his hat to Annella, he led the way up the heavy staircase
to the upper wards in which the condemned cells were located.

Meanwhile, Malcolm entered the office of the governor, who was seated at
a desk engaged in writing, but immediately arose, with an earnest
expression of sympathy and respect, to meet his visitor.

“Mr. Montrose, still looking so harassed and ill, and no wonder! You
could endure it better in your own person, I know that, but try still to
bear up, even for her sake. Time carries away the sharpest griefs as
well as the sweetest joys. A few more days and all this agony for you
and her will be over for ever. She will be at rest, with her it will be
well. If she is guiltless, as I hope she is, and suffers unjustly, as I
fear she must, God will abundantly compensate her in another world. When
all is over you must travel, and time, philosophy and religion will heal
the wounds of your heart. Sit down here, Mr. Montrose, and let me offer
you something,” said the governor, placing a cushioned arm-chair for his
visitor, and moving towards that buffet where he kept liquors for
exigencies like this.

“I thank you—no, I require nothing of that sort. But, Mr. Anderson, I
wish to have a private interview with you. Will you be kind enough to
turn the key in that door, so that we may not be interrupted?” inquired
Malcolm, seating himself in the arm-chair.

The governor, in some surprise, did as he was requested, and then drew a
chair and seated himself near Malcolm, saying:

“How can I serve you, Mr. Montrose?”

“First, by giving me your word of honor that what passes at this
interview between you and myself shall be considered strictly private
and confidential. I make the request, not for my own sake, but for that
of another person—a young lady.”

“Miss Leaton?” inquired the governor, dubiously.

“Another young lady, a stranger to you, and until this morning, to me
also,” replied Malcolm, evasively.

“She is not in any way concerned in that Allworth poisoning affair, I
hope, because, if she were, I would not give you the promise, you know?”

“Nor should I be likely to ask it. No, she was never in the county until
about two weeks ago, and has never, in the least degree, transgressed
the laws of the land.”

The governor paused in deep thought for a moment, and then cautiously

“Well, Mr. Montrose, I have sufficient confidence in your integrity of
mind to believe that you would not confide to me, or bind me to keep
secret any conversation that it would be my duty to communicate, and so
you have my promise that whatever may pass between us in this interview
shall be held strictly confidential.”

“And that upon your word and honor?” inquired Malcolm, solemnly.

“Upon my word and honor, yes,” replied the governor, earnestly.

“Anderson, I have heard that the father of Eudora Leaton was your patron
and best friend?” said Montrose.

“I owe him everything I possess in this world,” replied the governor,

“And, therefore, you must feel for his most unhappy child?”

“As if she were my own—yes, I do.”

“And you believe the daughter of so good a man free from the foul crime
for which she is doomed to die?”

“I do not know; I am inclined to believe her so.”

“Then while you are disposed to believe her innocent, how can you
consider the approaching execution in any other character than that of a
judicial murder?”

The governor arose hastily from his seat, and walked up and down the
floor of his office in great agitation.

Mr. Montrose, steadied by the concentrated intensity of his own purpose,
sat watching the troubled governor.

At length the latter resumed his seat, and wiped his brow, saying:

“Why do you say all this to me, Mr. Montrose? I did not try her, nor
condemn her, and shall not execute the sentence of the law upon her.
Granted that her execution may be a judicial murder, I shall not have
committed it, and I cannot help it.”

“_You can help it!_” said Malcolm, emphatically.

“Ha!” cried the governor, looking up in perplexity.

“I say you _can help it_! You can hinder this great wrong being
done—this great crime being committed—this innocent girl being executed!
And if you do not hinder it, you yourself become accessory to the murder
of your benefactor’s orphan daughter!” exclaimed Montrose, with
impassioned earnestness.

The governor gazed upon the speaker in astonishment and perplexity that
only required the additional element of fear to form perfect

“I—I hinder all this? For the Redeemer’s sake, Mr. Montrose, tell me
how. I am a poor man, with a wife and child, but I would joyfully
sacrifice everything I possess in this world, and go forth a beggar, if,
by so doing, I could save her from the horrible fate awaiting her!” he
eagerly protested.

“Noble heart! no sacrifice will be required of you. Eudora Leaton’s
friends would never permit you to suffer loss or injury in her cause.
No, Anderson! you will at the same time save your patron’s child and
enrich yourself!” exclaimed Malcolm, seizing and pressing the brown hand
of the governor.

Anderson grew, if possible, more embarrassed than before. He dropped his
head upon his breast, bent his eyes upon the floor, and remained silent.
Perceiving that he would not make any comment at present, Malcolm
continued, by inquiring:

“How much is your post here worth?”

“A small salary with apartments,” replied the governor, glad of a
question to which he could return a straightforward answer.

“How much can you save from that?”

“Twenty pounds a year when all goes prosperously.”

“Then, under the most favorable circumstances, it would take you five
years to save one hundred, ten to lay by two hundred, and twenty-five to
accumulate five hundred pounds?”

“Just, so, if everything went well with me; otherwise, I could save
nothing, and might even get into debt.”

“Yes. Well, Anderson, if you will lend your assistance in the most
righteous cause of delivering your benefactor’s orphan daughter from
unmerited death, I will pay you down five thousand pounds in hard
English sovereigns—a sum that will make you and your family independent
in this or any other country for the rest of your lives!” said Malcolm,
coming at once to the point, though with an unsteady voice and flushed

“Good Heaven, sir!” exclaimed the governor, shrinking back, as the blood
rushed to his face.

“You consent?” asked Malcolm, in a low husky voice.

“I never dreamed of such a thing!”

“The sum is large, it is all I can raise, or it should be doubled,
trebled, quadrupled! I would give twenty thousand—a hundred thousand—a
million if I had it—as I would give my life, if I could do it, to save

“And I would not ask one penny to save her, if I could do it honestly,
sir. Perhaps I didn’t understand you, sir. How could I save her?”

Malcolm seized his wrist, bent to his ear, and in eager, vehement
whispers, recounted his simple plan for the escape of Eudora.

While he spoke the governor listened with downcast eyes, and at the end
of his speech answered nothing.

“What have you to say to this? Will you take the money, and save her?”
demanded Malcolm, impatiently.

“Mr. Montrose, I repeat, without taking one penny of that money, I would
gladly save her if I could do so honestly; but to lend my countenance to
the plan you propose, or any plan for a prisoner’s escape, would be a
grave breach of trust.”

“A justifiable one, if ever such existed,” exclaimed Malcolm, earnestly.

“Yes, if ever such existed; but no breach of trust ever could be
justifiable, Mr. Montrose.”

“Not even to save an innocent girl from a horrible death?”

“No, sir, not even for that. But, indeed, I do not know that she is
innocent, poor girl, and even if I did, it would not be my place to set
judge, jury, and sheriff right by opening the doors and letting a
convicted prisoner walk freely out of gaol!” said the governor, trying
to speak sternly, though his honest face paled, flushed, and quivered
with emotion, and he was again obliged to rise and walk rapidly up and
down the floor.

Malcolm watched him closely, and perceived, notwithstanding the
decisiveness of his words, that he was undergoing a severe conflict
between duty and inclination, and that his temptation came not from
greed of gain, but from pity for Eudora.

Malcolm let him walk up and down for some time in silence, and then, as
he saw the struggle still going on in his mind, arose and joined him.

And as they paced side by side, Malcolm said:

“You will have compassion on this poor, sweet victim; you will permit
her to escape and reach some foreign country in safety, and in after
years, when her innocence shall be discovered, you will rejoice to
remember that you saved her blameless life from a felon’s death!”

Anderson mournfully shook his head, saying, “My God! I am not fit for my
hard duties.”

“No, you are not hard enough for the stern duties of a governor of a
gaol. Your humane nature must suffer much in constantly witnessing the
very worst forms of human woe, crime, remorse and punishment, and the
wide ruin and unspeakable misery they bring upon the innocent as well as
the guilty,” said Malcolm, gently.

“True, true! my heart has been wrung daily, for years, in witnessing the
wretchedness of prisoners and their friends. But what would you
have—some must be gaolers?”

“But not men like you—you suffer too much in the performance of your
duties. Come, listen to me! be persuaded to leave this abode of sin and
misery. Let Eudora escape! take the compensation that her grateful
friends will offer you, and go to some lovely, quiet, rural home, in
some foreign country, where you can live with your wife and child amid
the sweet influence of nature, and with the almost Divine consciousness
of having saved a human life! Come—speak—consent! urged Malcolm

“I dare not! oh, Heaven! I dare not commit a breach of trust—I dare not
do a dishonorable deed!” said Anderson, wiping the streaming
perspiration from his brow.

“Remember her dead father, and all his brotherly kindness to you, and
pity his orphan child in her unspeakable wretchedness. Think how dear
life is at her tender age; how hard it is to die at seventeen, and such
an awful death—a death of public ignominy! How her young heart must
shrink in anguish and affright. Think how sweet the offer of life would
be to her; how her spirit would leap with joy to meet it; how she would
bless you; how she would thank you; how she would pray for you through
all the days of the life that she would owe to you;—and how you would
rejoice to feel that the debt of gratitude to your benefactor had been
abundantly paid off by saving the life of his child, who, but for you,
would be mouldering in a premature, dishonored grave! Anderson, think
how, at this very moment, the spirit of her sainted father bends down
from the Heaven of Heavens to hear what you shall say!” concluded
Malcolm, solemnly.

“Oh, Montrose, speak no more! All this that you have said my own heart
has urged more forcibly than you could speak! But I must not do this
thing. I must not stain my soul with dishonor!” exclaimed the gaoler,
and then, man though he was, he burst into tears, went and leaned his
elbows on his desk, dropped his face upon his open palms, and wept

But not for this would Malcolm Montrose abandon the cause of Eudora.

He went to the side of Anderson, put his arm caressingly over his
shoulder, and continued his pleadings with all the impassioned eloquence
of love and grief. Whether he was successful will be seen.

                             CHAPTER XXVI.
                     THE MYSTERIOUS PLAN OF ESCAPE.

                  Condemned to death—how near
                The fatal, terrible to-morrow!
                ’Twould end her agony and sorrow,
                  Yet, oh, how fraught with fear!
                She counted—mind’s fore-torturing hell—
                Hours, minutes, till the solemn bell
                  Should sound upon her ear.—_Michell._

Meanwhile Annella had entered the cell of the young prisoner, whom she
found extended upon the outside of the bed, looking more like a corpse
laid out than a living creature. Mrs. Barton was sitting near her.

Annella nodded to the warder, and then, with that hushed air of awe with
which one approaches death or deep affliction, she drew near Eudora,

“How do you find yourself this morning?”

Eudora, whose eyes were covered with her left hand, put out her right
hand, and silently pressed that of Annella, but made no other answer.

Annella stooped and kissed her chilled lips, and after a few minutes,
repeated her question:

“How do you find yourself this morning, dear Eudora?”

“Drifting, drifting down the dark river towards the horrible fall! I
shall soon go over and be dashed to pieces! That will be well. There
will be a catching of the breath, a shiver of fear, a shock of death,
and all will be over!” murmured the sufferer.

Again Annella stooped and pressed her lips to those of Eudora, and then
turning to the warder, she asked:

“How has she seemed since I was here yesterday?”

“Oh, Miss, it a’most breaks my heart to be with her and see her—it do.
She bore up well enough even after Mr. Montrose told her as the petition
had been refused, and she knew there was no hope at all. She heard all
that as quiet as possible, and took leave of him quite calm when he went
away. You see, I think she tried hard to bear up for his sake, to spare
his feelings; for the moment he was gone, she turned and sank down in a
deep swoon, poor dear! and that’s the second time she’s gone into one o’
them since she has been here. And it was a longer fit than the first,
and we only brought her to this morning about sunrise, and she’s been
lying as you see her, ever since. And what makes matters worse, the
chaplain, as might ha’ spoke some words o’ comfort to her, is ill in
bed,” replied Mrs. Barton.

Annella would have given much for the privilege of whispering into the
ear of the despairing sufferer a few words of hope, but even her
sanguine nature felt that the communication would now be premature, as
it might also be cruel and dangerous. And as she might not speak of
hope, Annella felt that all other words were worse than mockery in a woe
like this.

She sat down beside the bed and took the prisoner’s poor little wasted
hand, and held it in silence, sometimes pressing it tenderly, or kissing
it, while she waited in breathless suspense for the appearance of
Malcolm Montrose.

More than two hours passed in this silent, dreary misery, and still
Malcolm did not appear. And now every passing minute seemed to tread
with a leaden foot upon the sinking heart of Annella, that every moment
grew heavier, more fearful, and more impatient.

“Oh, I cannot stand this! I shall lose my breath presently!” she
inwardly exclaimed, feeling the protracted suspense grow almost

At length footsteps were heard approaching, the cell door was unlocked,
and Malcolm Montrose was ushered in by the turnkey, who, as usual,

Annella bounded forward to meet him, and raised her eyes, dilated and
blazing with burning anxiety, to his face.

She read there the death-warrant of Eudora Leaton.

“He has failed!” she said to herself, as she sank, shuddering into the
nearest seat, where she sat during the remainder of the interview, like
one spell-bound in some awful trance, with her elbow resting on the
little table, her chin leaning on the palm of her hand, her face white
as death, her lips compressed, her eyes contracted, glittering, and
fixed apparently upon some far-distant, visionary, fearful scene in
which, perhaps, she saw herself the principal actor.

Malcolm, meanwhile, passed her quickly, and sank upon his knees beside
the bed, and took Eudora’s pale hand, inquiring, in a low tone of
reverential tenderness:

“How is my dearest Eudora, now?”

“Almost resigned, Malcolm, if I could only suffer alone!—thinking less
of my own fate than of your sorrow when all shall be over with me,”
replied Eudora, opening her eyes, and fixing them upon his face with an
expression of tender pity.

He could not bear the look of those sweet eyes. He bowed his head upon
her hands, and it required all his strength to keep the swelling agony
of his bosom from bursting forth in sobs.

“Oh, Heaven!” he exclaimed, “what anguish it is to feel myself utterly
powerless to save you, or to help you, even by the sacrifice of my life
and soul, that I would gladly offer for your sake!”

She drew her hand from under his face, and passing it around his bowed
head, gently smoothed his hair, while she said:

“All that human power could do to save me you have done. Let that
thought support you.”

“But to think that I can do no more!”

“Yes, dearest, truest friend, you can do much yet to console me.”

“Ah, Eudora, how—how can I comfort or help you?”

“Why, for the few remaining days of my life, come to me as often, and
stay as long as they will let you.”

“That be sure I will; but, oh I how little good it can do you!”

“It will do me all the good I am capable of appreciating now. Oh,
Malcolm! you do not know how much I regret those precious days vainly
lost in London when they might have been spent with me.”

“And so do I, dearest; but yet I should have been even more wretched
than I am now, had not those days been employed as they were, in using
every possible means to gain a respite for you.”

“I know; so, therefore, it is of no use to regret them.”

“And now, dearest, what else is there that I can do for you?”

“Promise me, dear Malcolm, that when the last day of my life comes, you
will be with me in my hour of death. It will not seem so horrible if I
can have you near me, and take my farewell look from your kind eyes.”

“I promise, Eudora,” answered Malcolm, feeling sure that it would drive
him mad to witness her execution, yet resolving to stand by her to the
very last moment of her life, if permitted to do so.

He remained with her as long as possible, and then in rising to take
leave, promised to be with her again early the next day.

“Malcolm,” she said, holding his hand as he lingered by her side, “you
will think it a frivolous request from one in my awful circumstances, I
know, but I must make it for all that—”

“What is it, dear? Be sure that no wish of yours could be thought
frivolous by any one,” said Malcolm, earnestly.

“It is only to go to Allworth Abbey this afternoon, and bring away my
poor little Fidelle, and bring her with you when you come to-morrow.”

“Certainly, dearest Eudora; I will attend to it at once.”

“I would like to see the faithful little creature once more before I
die. Indeed, I wanted to have her here, only I did not like to bring any
harmless creature to such a gloomy place as this; and, besides, I do not
think they would have let me have her.”

“They will let you have almost anything you desire now, dearest.”

“Except life and liberty, or anything that might help me to either—yes,
I know that! You will not think it levity in me, even in my awful
position, to ask to have my little dog, will you?”

“No, my own dearest one, no; I only see in your desire the all-embracing
goodness of your heart, that, like the love of Divine Providence,
encircles all creatures, from the highest to the humblest,” replied
Malcolm, bowing his head over her hand, and pressing it to his lips, as
he turned to leave the cell.

He looked back for Annella, who remained spell-bound as before.

“Come, Miss, time is up, and you must leave with Mr. Montrose,” said the
warder, touching the girl’s shoulder to call her attention.

Annella started from her trance, and arose to obey; but before leaving
the cell she turned to Eudora, and, in an eager, earnest, breathless
whisper, exclaimed:

“Do not resign yourself to death! Keep up your heart—look forward to
life and liberty! for I swear before Heaven, and by all my hopes of
salvation, that you shall be saved!”

To Eudora these words seemed nothing more nor less than those of
madness—the expression of a compassionate soul wrought by sympathy to
frenzy. But before she had considered how to reply to them, the speaker
had vanished.

Annella joined Malcolm in the lobby; but it was not until they were
fairly outside the prison walls that she spoke, but without the tone of
reproach Malcolm expected to hear in her voice. She merely said:

“So you have failed again?”

“Oh, Heaven! yes. I did all that any man possibly could do to win him
over! I appealed to his affection for her father, to his compassion for
herself, to his regard for his own interests, to every motive that could
actuate the soul of man—but in vain! He was not to be tempted by money,
or moved by mercy. He made it a matter of conscience not to ‘betray his
trust,’ as he called it. And when an honest man—a man like
Anderson—takes a stand upon conscience, you might just as well try to
uproot Helvellyn as to move him from his position!”

“Pitiless monster!” exclaimed Annella.

“No, he was not that either; he wept like a woman in refusing me; but
his last words to me were, ‘Mr. Montrose, I dare not stain my soul with
dishonor; and you, as a man of honor, should not dare to urge me to do
so.’ What could I reply to that? Nothing. And I came away with a broken
heart. Miss Wilder, have you no reproaches for me?”

“No. It is said that things beyond remedy should be beyond regret, and
when they are not so, they should be remedied instead of regretted,”
said Annella, in so strange a tone that her companion turned to look
upon her, and started to see her lips drawn tightly away from her
clenched teeth, and a deadly, stiletto-gleam darting from the contracted
pupils of her half closed eyes.

“What do you mean, Annella?” he inquired in vague alarm.

“Nothing that I intend to confide to you or to any one else whose
friendship is so cold a thing that they will not peril _soul_ as well as
body for a friend in extremity!” said Annella, severely.

“That is a very bitter reproach, which I do not deserve, Miss Wilder,”
said Malcolm, sorrowfully.

“Is it? Good people like you and Mr. Anderson, who would not strain a
point of conscience to save a friend, may think it bitter; I think it
just; but then I’m not good, you know. I’m only devoted—mind, body, and
estate, for life, death, and eternity—to my friends, or rather for my
friend, for I feel only for one.”

“I believe you, Miss Wilder; you have not even the slightest pity for
the anguish I suffer on Eudora’s account,” said Malcolm, bitterly.

“No, not one bit! for you have the use of your long limbs to go whither
you please over this sunny earth. I pity only, that poor, sweet girl,
who cannot get out; who is waiting only for death to release her from
prison. But she shall not die! by all my hopes of heaven, she shall
not!” hissed Annella through her clenched teeth, while the same fearful
expression sat upon her tightly-drawn lips, and gleamed from her
contracted eyes.

“She would not die, if you, kind girl, by any effort or any sacrifice,
could save her; or if I could do so; but oh, Annella, everything has
been tried in vain! human power can do no more!” groaned Malcolm.

“Can it not? We shall see! What is the meaning of that noble proverb,
‘Where there is a will there is a way?’ It came from the wisdom of ages,
and I believe it. My own will is so strong that I shall find a way to
save her, though it should lead through floods and flames!”

“Dear, dear girl, one must honor your single-hearted devotion to this
object, while at the same time—”

“You believe me mad,” interrupted Annella. “Well, believe me so; it will
do no harm. Mr. Montrose, I am at this day a poor, weak, wild girl, as I
may be in another a corpse, a prisoner, or an exile! but whatever
becomes of me, Eudora shall be free!”

“Annella, there is something in your words and manner that fills me with
alarm for your sake. I fear you will attempt some desperate act, which
instead of serving Eudora, will only ruin yourself. What is the plan you
are thinking of?” inquired the young man, in earnest kindness.

“I will not tell you, Mr. Montrose; henceforth I shall act alone in this
matter; then, if my deed be a misdemeanor, my person only will suffer
for it; and if it be a mortal sin, my soul only will perish for it,”
replied Annella, with gloomy firmness.

“Well, Miss Wilder,” said Montrose, solemnly, “whatever your own
thoughts may be, this one request I must earnestly make of you—that you
say not another word upon the subject of rescue to Miss Leaton. It would
be now the greatest possible cruelty to disturb her thoughts with vain
hopes of escape, and prevent her from settling her mind into that
religious resignation and composure that her awful condition renders so
desirable. Therefore I must entreat your silence to her, at least upon
this anxious subject.”

“You have my promise. I will not say another word to her upon the
subject of her escape,” answered Annella, with great emphasis.

They walked on in silence awhile, until they reached a point where their
road forked—the right hand path leading across to the Anchorage, and the
left-hand one going into the town. Annella stopped short, saying:

“Our ways divide here, and I must hurry home, lest my longer absence
should raise inquiry; but before I go, Mr. Montrose, I have something to
say to you, and if you do really love Eudora Leaton, and long for her
release, you will attend to what I say.”

“Dear Annella, I am all attention,” answered Malcolm, in anxious

She looked up and down the roads, and all around them, to see if any
person were in hearing, and finding all the way clear, she suddenly
clutched the hand of Malcolm, held it with a spasmodic grip, gazed in
his face with eager intensity, drew closer to him, and whispered, with
breathless vehemence:

“Do just as you would have done if our plan had succeeded.”


“Make all the arrangements for flight just as you would have made them
if the governor could have been bribed to connive at Eudora’s escape.”

“I do not comprehend you. What do you mean?”

“Dullard! I mean this—go secretly and find out some small vessel; hire
it, and keep it hovering near this part of the coast ready for service
at a moment’s warning; have a little row-boat always at the beach ready
to take you to the vessel at an instant’s notice; keep your fast horse
tied in the shade of the thicket, under the dead wall, at the back of
the gaol; and you yourself walk every night up and down before the front
gate of the prison, just as you walked the first night after Eudora’s
conviction, and so wait for what fortune shall send you; and then, when
you find Eudora standing before you, do not stop to ask how she came
there, but catch her up in your arms, run with her to the thicket, place
her before you on the horse, gallop to the beach, put her in the boat,
row for life to the vessel, and set sail for some foreign port!” said
Annella, speaking with breathless excitement.

“Dear, devoted girl, are you really mad?” exclaimed Malcolm, in dismay.

“No,” cried Annella, with startling energy, “only exalted above doubt,
fear, and selfishness. Promise that you will do as I request.”

“Well, to make these arrangements will do no harm, though they may do no
good. Yes, Annella, I promise,” answered Malcolm, earnestly.

“And you will set about the business immediately?”

“I will.”

“Then Eudora shall be saved!”

                             CHAPTER XXVII.
                            A YOUNG HEROINE.

             A lamp faint lit the cell,
           Feebly upon her iron bed,
           Feebly upon her drooping head,
             Its sickly quiverings fell:
           The silent watchers sat apart,
           What passed in that poor bleeding heart
             Their cold hearts naught could tell.—_Michell._

The first thing Malcolm Montrose did the next morning was to go over to
Allworth Abbey to fetch the small sky-terrier that had been Eudora’s
only pet.

He found the poor little creature rambling disconsolately about the
grounds, where the servants told him she always wandered, as if in
search of her lost mistress.

He took her with him in the chaise and drove to the prison.

He was admitted at once to the condemned cell, where he found Eudora
reclining upon the bed, from which she seldom now arose, for her
strength seemed hourly waning, and it was a question whether she could
survive till the day appointed for the execution, to undergo the
sentence of the law. She was attended by the stern-faced woman who
alternately, with Mrs. Barton, kept guard over the prisoner.

She arose upon her elbow to welcome Malcolm, but before she could speak,
Fidelle, with a quick bark of joy, had recognized her mistress, and
sprang from the arms of Malcolm to the bosom of Eudora, where she
nestled, trembling with delight.

The poor young prisoner smiled faintly as she put one hand caressingly
around her favorite, and held out the other to her visitor, saying:

“I thank you very much, dear Malcolm, for fetching her so soon. Poor
little thing, I’m glad _she_ does not know,” she added, tenderly
caressing her pet.

Ah, but Fidelle _did_ know—if not the nature and particulars of the
heavy misfortune—at least that something had gone wofully wrong with her
mistress, upon whose faded, wasted, hollow-eyed countenance she gazed
with the touching mute eloquence of a dog’s love and sympathy.

Malcolm seated himself beside Eudora, and watched her uneasily as she
lay dimly smiling and softly caressing her little dumb friend, and
apparently forgetting for the time being her own awful position. And as
he noticed her, his heart ached with the foreboding fear that her mind
as well as her body was giving way and sinking into imbecility under the
pressure of her heavy calamity.

He wished to test the truth of his suspicion by conversing with her upon
some subject more serious than that of her little dog, who seemed for
the present to engage all her attention; yet he hesitated to disturb the
transient peace that seemed to have descended upon her bruised spirit
like a blessing.

“I wonder if they would let me keep her? she could do no harm, you know,
poor little beast, and it would be almost a comfort to have something
here that loves me through the sleepless nights,” said Eudora, raising
her eyes with pleading inquiry to Malcolm’s face.

“I think they will, if you so much desire it. I think they will give you
every indulgence the rules do not absolutely forbid,” answered Malcolm.

“It is only a few days, so they might not mind, you know. Why, even the
cruel men of the French Revolution let Marie Antoinette keep her little
dog, though they took crown and kingdom, husband and children, and even
life away from her, and surely—”

“I will see to it, love; there can be no possible objection to granting
you so harmless an indulgence,” interrupted Montrose.

Malcolm’s order for admission comprised only one hour of each day. It
was supposed that longer or more frequent visits would only distract the
prisoner’s mind from the solemn duty of preparation for death, for which
so short a time had been granted her.

Punctually, therefore, at the end of the stipulated hour, the turnkey
unlocked the door of the cell, and informed Mr. Montrose that his time
was up.

Eudora held her little dog towards him, saying:

“You had better take her down and get permission before you venture to
leave her with me, Malcolm.”

Montrose silently received the little animal, but when Fidelle perceived
that she was to be carried off, she set up such a piteous howling and
struggling, that even the stern heart of the female warder, callous to
human suffering, was touched with compassion, and she said.

“I think as how you may venture to leave her, sir. You can ask the
governor about it when you go down stairs, and then, if so be objections
are made, it will be time enough to come and force her away.”

“Thank you; I think you are quite right,” said Malcolm, restoring the
little creature to her mistress. Then stooping, he pressed his lips to
the forehead of Eudora, promised to repeat his visit the next day at the
usual hour, took his leave, and left the cell.

In the hall below he met the governor and preferred his request. And Mr.
Anderson, really pleased with the opportunity of granting any indulgence
to the unhappy young prisoner not inconsistent with the duties of his
office, readily consented, and he himself went to the cell to assure
Eudora that she might keep her little four-footed friend as long as she

Malcolm Montrose left the prison wondering that he had not encountered
Annella Wilder there, or on the road. He felt extremely anxious again to
see and speak with that mad girl, who, he much feared, was rushing
headlong into some frantic enterprise which, without helping Eudora,
might ruin herself. He vainly looked out for her on his way back to
town, and vainly expected her during the remainder of the morning.

The whole day passed without his seeing or hearing anything of the
admiral’s grand-daughter.

The next morning, however, as he was sitting over an untasted breakfast,
impatiently waiting for the hour that he might visit Eudora, the door
was suddenly pushed open, and unannounced, Annella stood before him.

He positively started with dismay at her appearance.

She was dressed in black as on the previous days, and her face had
always been pale and wasted from the effects of the long continued slow
starvation of her childhood’s years. But now two crimson spots burned in
the hollows of her cheeks, and her eyes glowed like fire in their sunken
sockets. She seemed consuming with some hidden fever or restrained

Malcolm took her hand, and made her sit down in the easy-chair, while he

“I did not see you at the prison yesterday. I hope that illness did not
keep you away?”

“It could not have done so. No; they would not admit me yesterday, and
they will not to-day. They say that so many visits disturb the
prisoner’s mind, and draw off her thoughts from the duty of preparing
for death. They say that from this time no one is to see her, except the
officers of justice, the ministers of the Gospel, and yourself, as her
nearest living relative!” answered Annella.

“They say—who say, my dear child?”

“Why, the sheriff and the gaoler, and even the chaplain, who stood my
friend at first, but who now says that my daily visits will do the
prisoner more harm than good.”

“This will interfere with your hopes of saving Eudora,” said Malcolm,
only with the view of drawing her out; “for, of course, if you are not
permitted to see her, you can do nothing for her?”

“Yes I can! besides, I shall see her once more. The sheriff promised
that, to get rid of me, I am to be allowed one parting interview with
her the day before she is to die—‘_To die!_’ as if he thought I was
going to let her die!” exclaimed Annella, feverishly, while the crimson
spots in her hollow cheeks burned more brightly, and the smoldering fire
in her sunken eyes flashed more fiercely.

“What are your plans, Annella?” inquired Malcolm, with as much calmness
as he could assume, secretly hoping that she might have forgotten her
former refusal to confide in him, and would now, as a matter of course,
inform him.

But Annella had a good memory and a firm will. She replied:

“I repeat that I will not tell you! I will not tell any one! I will act
alone! If my act be a felony, my person only shall pay for it! If it be
a sin, my soul only shall answer for it! If the plan fail—as it shall
not—I only will bear the blame! If it succeed—as it shall—you only shall
gain the honor!”

“The honor, from whom?”

“From Eudora, of course, for saving her life! from no one else, for none
but her, you, and myself shall ever know that she is saved! All else
shall believe that she has perished!”

“My dear, dear child, you talk wildly!” said Malcolm, uneasily.

“I do not, even when I reiterate that Eudora shall be saved, while all
the world, except us three, shall believe that she has perished!”

“Annella, you speak of impossibilities!”

“You will find before three days shall have passed over our heads, that
I have converted those impossibilities into certainties.”

Malcolm Montrose bowed his head upon his breast, and remained a few
moments in deep and anxious thought. Then looking up he said:

“I have been vainly taxing my brain to discover what your scheme may be;
but I cannot find it out; I cannot even imagine what it is.”

“No, I presume not,” replied Annella.

“You are not perhaps dreaming of such an impracticability as taking her
place and dying in her stead?” inquired Malcolm, dubiously.

Annella laughed a low, weird, unnatural laugh, as she replied:

“No, for that, indeed, would be impossible; though, could it be
otherwise, I would gladly attempt it, since it is so much easier to die
one’s self than to see a dear friend die! But such is not my plan, for
it would be, as you say, impracticable. I should be found out in an
hour. Besides, even to attempt such a plan would require the connivance
of her warders, which you know cannot be gained for love or money. No,
Mr. Montrose, what I do shall be accomplished without the assistance,
connivance, or even knowledge of any soul within or without the prison!
It shall be accomplished by myself singly!” said Annella, proudly.

Again Malcolm dropped his head upon his breast, and fell into profound
and troubled thought. At length he raised his head, and said, very

“I have discovered your scheme, Annella; and I am glad that I have done
so in time to save you from attempting to put it into practice.”

Annella started violently, and gazed upon him anxiously.

“For the very attempt would be a crime.”

“Well, it would be _my_ crime, not yours. _I_ should have to answer for
it, not you! And if _I_ choose to peril my life, liberty, and honor
here, and my salvation hereafter, in the service of Eudora, it is not
_your_ hand or voice that should be lifted to hinder me!” exclaimed
Annella, indignantly, rising and pacing the floor. Presently she paused
before him, and sharply demanded:

“Why do you, of all men in the world, seek to hinder me from attempting
to save Eudora?”

“Because, dear girl, in the first place, the very attempt to save her by
such means would be, as I said before, a crime; and because in the
second place it would never succeed!”

“Why should it not succeed?” demanded Annella, abruptly.

“Because, dearest girl, the physician of the prison is a man of science,
skill, and experience, and he would detect the trick in a moment.”

“The physician of the prison?” inquired Annella, with a puzzled look.

“Yes; Dr. Nelson would understand and expose the _ruse_ in an instant.”

“But why should he more than others? May I die, if I know what you are
driving at!” exclaimed Annella, looking more and more perplexed.

“Why, at this fact, that Dr. Nelson would certainly be summoned; that
his knowledge of narcotics and their effects would enable him to
comprehend the case at the first glance, and so your scheme would fail.”

While he spoke Annella was watching him attentively. When he ceased, she

“I am astonished at your perspicacity, Mr. Montrose; but tell me what
you suppose the plan to be which the medical attendant of the prison
will be so quick to detect?”

“Why, of course, when you assure me that Eudora Leaton shall be saved,
at the very time that all the world, except our three selves, shall
believe her to have perished, I can come but to one of two conclusions
in respect to your purposed course.”

“And what may those be?”

“The _first_ I have already mentioned; that perhaps you insanely propose
to take her place, in the mad hope that your person might possibly be
mistaken for hers and yourself permitted to suffer in her stead, so as
to deceive the world into the belief that she had perished, while in
reality she would be safe and free.”

“You know that I have denied and repudiated that course as impracticable
and even unthought of by me. But the _other_! What is the other
conclusion to which your wisdom has arrived in regard to my purposed

“Or else—” said Malcolm, hesitatingly.

“Or else?—Yes! What else? What is that _second_ conclusion—that other
scheme which is to be a crime, and which the physician of the gaol is to
detect and expose? I am anxious to know what you suppose that to be, if
you will tell me?” said Annella, mockingly.

Malcolm hesitated for a moment, and then said:

“You intend surreptitiously, to administer some powerful narcotic
sedative to Eudora, which shall plunge her into a sleep, trance, or
coma, so profound as to simulate death. And then, when she shall be
supposed dead, you propose to have her body claimed by me, as her
nearest relative, ostensibly for the purpose of Christian burial, but
really for that of being conveyed to some safe and secret place and
restored to consciousness. A very ingenious plan, Annella, which, if it
could be made to succeed, would certainly deliver our dearest one from
captivity and death, while it would, at the same time, mislead the
public into the belief that she had perished in prison. But, dear
Annella, for the reasons I advanced just now, it must not be attempted.
The very administration of such a drug would seriously endanger Eudora’s
life, and therefore constitute a crime. Besides, it could not succeed
for a moment. The physician who would be called would immediately
recognize the presence of the drug and apply antidotes. So the only
effect of your scheme, my poor Annella, would be to entail useless
suffering upon that sweet victim; therefore—”

He was interrupted and astonished by a peal of weird laughter from
Annella, who, as soon as she recovered herself, exclaimed:

“I do so much admire your perspicacity, Mr. Montrose, and also your
ingenuity in imagining such a plan! And I likewise perfectly agree with
you that it could never succeed, as the science and experience of the
prison doctor would detect and expose the fraud in an instant. But I
never even dreamed of such a _ruse_, Mr. Montrose. I know nothing
whatever of ‘narcotic sedatives’ or any other drugs, or their effects;
and even if I did, I would not for the world risk Eudora’s life by
administering them to her. And even if I were wicked enough to do so, I
should never have the opportunity afforded me, because of the sharp eyes
of those female turnkeys that are never removed from me while I am in
the cell. No, Mr. Montrose, you are very clever indeed, but you have not
discovered my plan. My scheme involves no such risk of life to Eudora,
nor of discovery by the physician! No; for if my scheme succeeds, as it
must, Eudora shall leave the prison in full possession of her life,
health, and faculties! Excuse my having laughed, but I could not help
it. I was so tickled by your positiveness, so delighted to find, after
all, that you had not detected my plot! And if _you_, with _your_
perspicacity, have not discovered it, who will?—why, no one!” exclaimed
Annella, triumphantly.

“Then, in the name of Heaven, since neither of my conjectures were
right, what is your most inexplicable scheme?” demanded Malcolm, in

“I have already several times assured you that I shall not tell you; and
I mean to keep my word!” replied Annella, firmly.

“Let me consider for a moment,” said Malcolm reflectively. “You propose,
without the assistance, connivance, or even knowledge of any other
single soul within or without the prison, except our three selves, to
place Eudora Leaton, free and safe, outside the prison walls, while all
the world except ourselves shall believe her to have perished?”

“Yes, that is just exactly what I undertake to do!” said Annella,

“But why not confide to me the mode by which you propose to do all
this?” inquired Malcolm, gravely.

“Because I won’t!” said Annella, giving him the “woman’s reason” without
an instant’s hesitation.

“Miss Wilder,” began Malcolm, in a grave, sorrowful tone, “I greatly
fear that in your beautiful devotion to Eudora, your zeal in her behalf,
and your total inexperience of the world, you are about to rush into
some ruinous enterprise that may destroy yourself without saving that
poor, sweet girl.”

“Well?” inquired Annella, looking up anxiously and defiantly.

“Under these circumstances, I doubt whether it is not my duty to go to
the Anchorage, and advise your friends there to take better care of you
than they seem to be doing,” answered Montrose, gravely.

Annella jumped to her feet with a rebound that wrung like steel springs
on the floor, confronted him, and flashed-sheet-lightning from her eyes,
as she exclaimed:

“If you dare! If you _dare_, Mr. Montrose! I will do you some deadly
mischief! I will, as the Lord in Heaven hears me; for I am not good, I
tell you! I am bad! I have black blood in my veins, wherever I could
have got it!”

While Malcolm gazed in astonishment upon her, her mood suddenly changed.
The fire died out of her eyes, her arms dropped by her sides, and her
voice lowered, as she said:

“But—pshaw! I am a fool to threaten you; you would not mind what
mischief anyone might do you. But I will give you a reason for your
silence that you must mind—Eudora’s safety! Mr. Montrose, I was wrong to
boast so much to you of my own secret certainty of success, especially
as I refused to confide to you the grounds of that certainty.”

“Will you confide them to me now, Annella?” inquired Montrose, kindly.

“No! and a thousand times no! but still—”

“Still you expect me to believe in them?”

“Yes; and when you are inclined to doubt, because of the humble
instrument of this success, please to remember that a mouse once freed a
lion from a net, and a goose saved imperial Rome! and think that poor
Annella Wilder may not have boasted vainly when she promised to deliver
Eudora Leaton from death! And so, if you really do love Eudora, and
desire her deliverance, you will take no step to hinder my plans! Nay,
you must promise me to take none!”

“You ask much of me, Annella!”

“Not more than you will grant for Eudora’s sake.”

“But your plans are totally inexplicable; and your object, by your own
single act to set the prisoner free and safe outside the prison walls,
and make all the world believe that she has perished, seems quite
impossible of attainment.”

“I shall accomplish it.”

“It is a riddle to me.”

“Let it remain so for a few days longer. But I did not come here to
propound or expound riddles; I came to tell you that as they have
refused me admittance to Eudora until the evening before the appointed
execution, it will be well to make some little change in our


“Why, as I cannot get into the prison before Tuesday evening, of course
I cannot get Eudora out before that time.”

“And what then?”

“Why, then it will be perfectly useless for you to keep the fast horse
tied every night in the thicket, or lose your own rest by watching near
the prison. And it would not only be useless, but indiscreet, as it
might attract attention, and endanger the success of my plot.”

“Then what is it you wish of me?” inquired Malcolm, rather with the
design of acquiring some little knowledge of her plan than with any hope
of its success.

“Before I tell you what I wish, I want to know if you have already done
what you engaged to do?”

“You mean to ask—”

“If you have hired the vessel to take her away, when she is safe outside
the prison walls?”

“I have not yet.”

“You promised to do that! You dare not break your pledged word!”
exclaimed Annella, between alarm and defiance.

“I have no purpose to break faith with you, dear Annella. It can do no
manner of harm to hire the vessel you speak of; and it is my intention
to look out for one to-day. What next?”

“Why, after you have hired the vessel to hover near the coast, and
arranged to have the little boat always tied and floating at the beach,
then I advise you to keep as quiet and get as much rest as you can
between now and Tuesday night; for I assure you you will need all your
health, and strength, and nerve, and presence of mind for that occasion.
Then, on Tuesday night, about eleven o’clock, have your fast horse ready
in the thicket, and you yourself wait near the gate, and, as I said
before, when you find Eudora Leaton in your arms, never stop to ask a
question, or to look behind you, but fly as Lot fled from burning

“Mystery of mysteries—all is mystery!” exclaimed Montrose, involuntarily
paraphrasing the Scripture proverb, as he gazed like one in a dream upon
the thin, flashing face of the excited girl.

“And now promise me that you will not go to the Anchorage to do what you
threatened, or even attempt to hinder me in any way.”

“I promise,” answered Malcolm, “though I do so in blind confidence.”

“Your faith shall be justified, if ever faith was.”

“I promise,” repeated Malcolm, like one under the influence of a spell.

“That will do; I know that you will keep your word; and now that I have
your pledge, I will tell you—”

“Your plan?”

“No! But why it is I cannot confide that plan to you, Mr.
Montrose;—because if I were to impart to you or to any other human being
the nature of my plan, it could never be accomplished, and Eudora would
be left to die.”

“But look at the clock! the hour of your daily visit to the prison is
approaching, and I will not detain you any longer. Give my love to
Eudora, and explain to her why I cannot come to her. Good-bye.

And so saying, Annella seized and dropped his hand, and vanished from
the room, leaving Montrose still under her spell.

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

                 Life! life! Oh, Heaven, for this!
             To gaze again on God’s bright sun,
             To see the moss-marged streamlet run,
                 To feel the wind’s soft kiss;
             To meet loved eyes where pity glows,
             To hear kind words to soothe her woes,
                 Life! life! Oh, bliss of bliss!—_Michell._

He remained for a few moments, sitting in silence where she had left
him, and then rose with an effort to shake off her influence, murmuring
to himself:

“What an incomprehensible creature! a mere girl, not more than fifteen
or sixteen years of age, and yet planning, by her own unaided efforts,
the rescue of a prisoner from the strong Abbeytown gaol! Is she mad or
inspired? If inspired, is it by a good or an evil spirit?—an angel or a
devil! If I were a mystic, now, and believed in people being possessed,
I should suppose that fragile, excited, half-frenzied girl, to be the
medium and agent of some tremendous spirit acting through her. But
whether she be mad, sane, or inspired, I will do what I promised, if it
afford one chance in a million of saving Eudora. Oh, Eudora! Eudora! as
the drowning catch at straws, I catch at this mad girl’s unknown scheme
to save you!”

He took up his hat and went out to walk to the prison.

He was immediately shown to the cell, where he found Eudora, as on the
preceding day, reclining on the outside of the bed. Her little dog was
coiled up contentedly by her side. Mrs. Barton was on guard. As Malcolm
approached and took the little wasted hand she held out to him, he saw
she was perceptibly paler, thinner, and feebler than on the day before.

This increasing weakness was evident not only in the emaciation of her
face and form, but in the faint tones of her voice and the slow motions
of her hands. As he noticed this, the heart of Montrose sank within him.

“And yet,” he thought, “why should I grieve for her waning life? It is
better, far better, that she should sink gently into death here—even
here in her prison-cell, where her soul might depart in peace and
privacy—than live to be dragged forth. Oh, God! oh, God!”

He groaned and buried his face in his hands, as if to shut out the image
that arose before his mind’s eye.

Eudora looked up at him uneasily, and with quick sympathy caught his
mental vision. She could not have been paler than she had been before.
But now her very lips blanched and quivered, and a spasm seized her
throat and choked her utterance. This passed in a moment, and then she
put up her hand and gently removed those of Malcolm, and looked in his

That face was convulsed with anguish; but with a mighty effort, he
crushed down his emotions, seated himself by her side, took her hand,
and held it in silence, as was often now his custom.

For a few moments neither trusted themselves to speak, but at length
Eudora broke the silence by inquiring:

“Do you know why Annella has not been here these two days?”

“The officers of justice believe that her visits disturb you, dear,”
answered Malcolm, gently.

“Ah, I thought they would interdict her visits, poor child! She is so
rash in her zeal for me. Do you know, Malcolm, that she even tried to
bribe Mrs. Barton here to let her change clothes with me, so that I
might escape in hers? Did she tell you?”

“No, she never told me that; but I know she would run any risk on earth
for you, dearest, and so I am not surprised to hear it.”

“I wonder if the attempt came to the ears of the officers, and if that
was the reason why they stopped her visits?”

“No, Miss—oh, no, because there was nobody to tell but me, and I never
dropped a hint of it,” Mrs. Barton hastened to say.

“No, that was not the reason, dear Eudora; it was because she was
considered too young and flighty to do you any real good by her visits,
which it was also feared might disturb you,” said Malcolm.

“And shall I see her no more?”

“Oh, yes; she called at my lodgings this morning to tell me why she has
not been to see you these two days, and to send you her love, with the
assurance that she would come on Tuesday, having the sheriff’s promise
of permission to do so.”

Eudora shivered, for she remembered that Tuesday was the last day of her
allotted life, and knew that Annella’s next visit would be also her last

The hour of grace sped quickly away, and Malcolm arose to go. He stooped
and pressed his farewell kiss upon Eudora’s brow. He dared not trust
himself to speak; he was thinking how swiftly the sands of her life were
running out. But one more quiet visit, and then—the dreadful parting
interview on Tuesday night—and then, unless the unknown scheme of
Annella should succeed—as he did not dare to hope—death for Eudora and
endless despair for himself! So he pressed his parting kiss in silence
on her brow, and turned away.

Mrs. Barton happened to be relieved of her guard by the entrance of the
other warder, and she left the cell at the same moment with Mr.

Malcolm beckoned her to his side, and as they walked down the lobby, he

“I wished to speak to you alone, Mrs. Barton, to ask you about your
charge. She seems wonderfully composed for so young a girl in so awful a
position. I fear that it is only assumed composure, for I see that she
is sinking fast under her heavy misfortunes. Now, tell me, does she not
put herself under great restraint when I am with her?”

“Well, sir, she certainly do seem much more composeder when you are here
nor she do at any other time. I think, howsoever, that’s partly because
she do feel it to be a comfort and a support to her like to have you
along with her; and partly because she do try to keep down her feelings
for fear of hurting yours. Leastways, I know she don’t give way to ’em
as she does at other times,” answered Mrs. Barton, thoughtfully.

“How is she at other times?” inquired Mr. Montrose, anxiously.

“Why, sir, wariable, wery much so indeed; for sometimes she will be
quiet enough for hours and hours together; and then, maybe, something
will happen to bring her doom afore her all on a suddint—and she’ll
scream, and clap her hands over her eyes, and fall to shaking as if she
wer’ tuk with an agur fit. And when that’s over, she’ll turn on her
face, and not move nor speak for hours and hours more.”

Malcolm groaned with anguish.

“And sometimes, sir—and that hurts my heart worse nor all the rest—when
she will be lying quite calm, she’ll put her finger and thumb around her
throat and press it, and then quickly drop her hand and scream with
terror, and fall into another shaking agur fit.”

Another involuntary groan burst from the overcharged breast of Malcolm,
while Mrs. Barton continued:

“But, lor, sir! what could you expect from such a mere child as she is,
with such a fate afore her? Why, sir, I’ve been in service here this
twenty year, and I’ve seen the most strongest and hardenest of men as
ever was, have their hair turn grey with the thoughts of what was afore
them, between the day of conviction and the day of execution. So what
could you expect of a poor, tender girl, with the scaffold staring her
in the face? I wonder she isn’t dead already, for my part; and I am sure
I think it would be a mercy and a blessing if she was.”

“It would, indeed,” muttered Malcolm.

“But there is one thing I dreads for her more nor all the rest—more even
nor the last thing of all.”

“And what is that?” inquired Malcolm, in a sinking voice.

“Why, sir, the reading o’ the death-warrant to her; and it’s my belief
as the sheriff don’t like the job himself, as he has put it off so
long—and I doubt it’ll be the death of her without any more trouble.
Why, lor’, sir, I’ve seen the dare-devilest ruffians, as you would think
they’d go through fire and brimstone, and face Satan himself, blanch as
white as a sheet at hearing of that read. Why, lor’! you see, sir, it do
go into all the particulars, so cruel plain, telling all about how they
are to be—”

“I know—I know!” hastily interrupted Malcolm, with sickening faintness
stealing over him. “But, tell me, is this formality never in any case

“I beg your pardon, sir—” said the perplexed wardress.

“Does not the sheriff sometimes fail to read the death-warrant to the
condemned prisoner?”

“Not as ever I hear on, sir; no, I believe not. But sure you ought to be
able to tell, sir.”

“I know very little of these formalities,” answered Malcolm.

They had by this time reached the lower hall, where their way divided.

Mrs. Barton courtesied, and turned off towards her own apartment; and
Mr. Montrose, with breathless lungs, bursting heart, and burning brain,
hurried out into the open air.

All that he had seen, heard and felt during this morning’s visit to the
prison, confirmed him in his resolution to keep faith with Annella, and
he immediately set about making all external arrangements for a possible

Annella might be mad; her unknown scheme might be vain, useless,
dangerous, fatal. There might not be one chance in a million of its
success; yet it was the only hope of rescue for Eudora, and as the
despairing snatch at the very shadow of hope, he resolved to embrace it.

Good reason had the kind-hearted wardress to dread the ordeal to which
Eudora’s fortitude was soon to be subjected. Mrs. Barton had just gone
into the cell to take her afternoon’s turn at guarding the prisoner,
when several footsteps were heard approaching, the door was unlocked,
and the sheriff, attended by the gaoler, entered.

The manner of the sheriff was grave even to solemnity; that of the
gaoler was very sorrowful.

Eudora hastily arose from her recumbent posture, and sat up, glancing in
surprise and vague dread, but without the least suspicion of their
errand, upon the intruders.

Mrs. Barton, who knew what was coming, got up and passed towards the
door, crying:

“Let me go away, Mr. Anderson—please, sir, do! I can’t stand it—indeed,
sir, I can’t!”

“Stay where you are, woman,” answered the governor, in a low voice.

And Mrs. Barton, forced to obey, sank trembling into her seat.

“This is Mr. Rushton, the sheriff of the county, Miss Leaton, who has
some business with you this afternoon,” said the gaoler, in a faltering
voice, as he presented the visitor.

Eudora arose, and slightly bowed in acknowledgment of the sheriff’s
presence, and then resumed her seat. But far from surmising the nature
of his business with her, she flushed with a transient hope that the
paper he carried in his hand might possibly be a commutation of her
sentence—a respite, or even a pardon! While her face flushed and paled,
her heart beat, and her pulses quickened with this hope, the sheriff
slowly unfolded the document, and said:

“I have a necessary duty to perform, Miss Leaton, and must request you
to give your attention to the reading of this paper.”

Something in his manner banished Eudora’s new hopes, and brought back
her vague fears, and while she gazed with eyes dilated by terror, the
sheriff commenced in a distinct voice, and read, with all its plain,
clear, cruel details, the warrant for her execution.

But before the reading of the warrant that consigned her to a speedy,
public, shameful, and violent death, was completed, Eudora’s fortitude
gave way, and with a piercing shriek she fell to the floor.

“There, I hope and trust, with all my heart and soul, as you’ve finished
her and put her out of her misery now!” sobbed Mrs. Barton, as she
hastened to raise Eudora.

The sheriff, having done his painful duty, retreated from the cell,
attended by the gaoler, and leaving Eudora to the care of the wardress.

Mrs. Barton lifted the swooning girl, and laid her upon the bed, and
applied such restoratives as she kept at hand for her recovery. It was a
long time before the deadly swoon could be broken by the pungent
stimulants that were used. But at length Eudora, with a shiver, opened
her eyes. Alas! return to consciousness was only return to thought, to
memory, and to agonizing terror. Sobs, shrieks, and spasms that could
not be controlled, expressed the anguish, despair, and wild affright
that shook her life and reason to their foundations.

Mrs. Barton did all that the most tender nurse or mother could have done
for her relief. She voluntarily remained with her through the whole of
the afternoon and the night; but her endeavors to ameliorate the
sufferings of her charge were all in vain. And in the morning, finding
Eudora still pallid, collapsed, and shuddering, upon the very verge of
dissolution, Mrs. Barton, when relieved from her long watch, hastened to
the office, and said to the gaoler:

“I doubt my prisoner is a-dying sir; and though it might be a mercy to
let her die and go out of her misery, yet mayhap it’s our duty to send
for the medical man.”

The gaoler immediately arose, and beckoning the wardress to follow him,
hastened to the condemned cell, and after gazing mournfully upon the
stricken girl for a few minutes, he said:

“I will send for the doctor; but no one else, not even Mr. Montrose,
must be permitted to see her while she is in this precarious state.”

And calling a turnkey who happened to be passing, he dispatched him for
the medical attendant of the prison. The messenger had scarcely departed
when Malcolm Montrose was heard approaching, attended by another
turnkey. The gaoler, who was on the watch, went out to turn him back.
Meeting him, he took his arm, and walked him off to a distant part of
the lobby, where he paused to say to the astonished and half-offended
young man:

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Montrose; I am very sorry to stop you, but the
truth is, that ever since the death-warrant was read to that poor young
creature yesterday afternoon, her courage has entirely given way, and
she has been in such a precarious state that I fear the least accession
of excitement might prove instantly fatal to her; and under these
circumstances I dare not admit anyone, even yourself, to her cell until
after our doctor has seen her.”

“But I have the sheriff’s order,” urged Malcolm.

“Still I beg that you will not press it, sir. It is for her sake only
that I entreat you to refrain until the doctor has made his visit.”

“I see the necessity of doing as you advise. But oh, Heaven! when, when
will her long-drawn sufferings cease! It is but a few weeks since her
arrest, yet since that day ages and ages of torture seem to have passed!
Would to Heaven it were over for her!” exclaimed Malcolm, wildly.

“Try to compose yourself, Mr. Montrose. Come down to my room, and take
something strong.”

“I thank you, I require nothing; but with your consent I will go and sit
in your office until I hear the doctor’s report,” answered Malcolm,
accompanying the governor to the ward-room below, but refusing the
refreshment that Mr. Anderson still pressed upon his acceptance.

Meanwhile Dr. Moss, the physician in ordinary to the prison, proceeded
to the condemned cell.

Dr. Moss was a tall, fair-skinned, gray-haired old man, whom forty
years’ connection with the prison, and constant ministration to the
worst forms of human suffering among the most desperate criminals of
both sexes had not hardened, but rather softened; had not rendered
harsh, obdurate and unfeeling, but rather tender, sympathetic, and

He now entered Eudora’s cell, and stood for a moment silently regarding
her as she lay with her face turned down and hidden in the pillow, cold,
pallid, collapsed, and shuddering.

Then beckoning Mrs. Barton to the door of the cell, he questioned her
minutely as to the state of mind and frame that had preceded this
asphyxia of the sufferer.

And the careful wardress described the girlish terrors of Eudora, and
ended by saying:

“You can’t expect a mere child like that to face quietly what makes the
hardest men quail. Besides, doctor, we women cre’turs are ten thousand
times worse afeard of being _hurt_ nor we are of being killed. I am
pretty nigh sure as it isn’t the fear of death as has brought her to
this state, but the horror of the violent death as is always afore her.”

The doctor having learned all that he wished to know for his own
guidance in this case, returned to the cell, seated himself beside the
sufferer, took her hand, and said, gently:

“Look up, poor child, and let me see your face. I can do you good,
though you may not yet believe it.”

The deep-toned, tender, sympathetic voice of the Christian physician
fell like balm upon the bruised heart of the victim, and caused her to
turn her wasted face and anguished eyes to meet the compassionate gaze
and benignant countenance that was bent upon her in such deep

“I can relieve your acute sufferings, Eudora. I can scatter all your
terrors and give you ease,” he repeated.

“Oh, can you change what is before me? Can you snatch me away from this
doom, as you would rouse one up from a horrid nightmare? If you cannot
do this you can do nothing for me!” she cried.

“I cannot change your fate, Eudora, but I can disarm it of its terrors,”
he answered, very gently.

She looked at him with a wild, incredulous gaze.

“The state of the mind depends so much upon the condition of the body,
that I must bring your excited nervous system into some quietude before
I can hope that you will listen to me with benefit,” said the doctor,
opening a small box and taking from it a minute lozenge, which he
directed her to swallow.

Eudora obeyed, and the doctor sat watching the effect of the drug.

In a few moments the morphia had done its benign work, and soothed the
agonized nervousness of the victim down to a state of serene repose, in
which she could calmly contemplate her coming doom.

“You feel better now, my child,” said Dr. Moss.

“Yes,” she replied.

“And you can bear to speak of your position?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Then, Eudora, I wish you to open your heart to me as to an old and
experienced friend, who sympathizes with every phase of your sufferings,
and can ameliorate them all. Tell me, now, what it was that filled your
mind with such fear and horror as to overthrow your fortitude so
completely. It was not fear of death I know; for even children meet
death unblenchingly. What was it then? It will do you good to confess to

“You judge me rightly,” said Eudora, as, calmed by the morphia, she now
entered with perfect self-possession upon the dreaded subject. “It was
not fear of death, for I should be happy if I could die quietly here in
my bed. It was the manner of the death, the deep dishonor, and the
mysterious, unknown, awful agony of that blindfolded, suffocating,
helpless struggle with a violent death!”

“In a word, you dreaded excessive physical suffering.”

“Oh, yes.”

“My child, there will be no such suffering at all. The death you so much
dreaded will be the easiest of all deaths.”

She looked up at him with calm, incredulous wonder.

“Eudora, I speak the words of truth and soberness, as well as of science
and experience,” said the doctor, gravely.

“Ah, how do you know? How can any one know. I myself can only judge by
this.” Here she put her thumb and fingers towards her throat, but the
doctor arrested her moving hand, and held it while he said:

“You must not do that—you will only frighten yourself with false
terrors. An incomplete pressure like that is very distressing, a
complete one is quite the reverse.”

“Ah, how can we be sure of that?”

“By the light of science, which shows us that the instantaneous
congestion of the brain consequent upon such a pressure prevents all
suffering. So, my child, dismiss all dread of pain, you will not have to
bear it.”

“I do not know. No one has ever come back from that dread mystery to
tell us what it was.”

“Yes, but there has. There are several authentic instances on record of
individuals who have been resuscitated after execution, and who have all
agreed in testifying that the manner of death was easy, thus
demonstrating the theory of science in that respect. But if you want
farther confirmation, Eudora, you can have it in my own professional

“Yours!” exclaimed Eudora, in quiet incredulity.

“Yes; I resuscitated a man who had, in a fit of despair, attempted to
destroy himself in that very manner. He was found by his friends
suspended from a tree in a grove, and when taken down was quite
insensible, and apparently quite dead. But the vital spark had not fled,
for when I was called to him, and took proper means to restore him to
consciousness, I succeeded. He was very penitent for having, in a fit of
despondency, tried to rush unbidden into the presence of his God. But
what made his case most interesting to me, as a medical man, was his
description of his sensations while undergoing that process. He
described them as being without the least degree of suffering, and as
resembling the effects produced by the first inhalations of chloroform,
until, like one under the full influence of that drug, he lapsed into
insensibility, and knew no more until his resuscitation; and now I hope
you will believe me, and dismiss your fears of suffering.”

“Oh, yes; I suppose I was a sad coward to dread torture so much.”

“All women do, Eudora. It is their nature; their tender, delicate
sensitive organizations shrink from torture. But now, what other feature
is there in this fate that so distressed you, for the dread of physical
agony was not all?”

“Oh, no, for there was the sense of deep dishonor.”

“Yet you say that you are innocent?”

“I am weary of repeating that to incredulous ears, and yet God knows
that I am innocent.”

“Then trust in God to redeem your name from all lasting reproach, as
your Christian faith teaches you to believe that He will; and consider
also, dear child, that when, in a few more hours, you shall stand in the
presence of that Divine Judge who knows your innocence, the opinion of
the world you have left behind will be as nothing to your released and
happy spirit. Should not such thoughts console you?”

“Oh, yes, they should, indeed. Oh! sir, you have given me comfort—such
comfort as I could not have believed in before you came to me. I could
not have imagined that any earthly power could have lifted me from the
pit of black despair in which I seemed to have fallen. Heaven bless you,
Doctor, for the help you have given me,” said Eudora, holding out her
hand to the kind physician, who pressed and released it, as he said:

“Now you must have another lozenge to put you to sleep. Take this little
one, and compose yourself to rest, and when you awake I will see you

And thus having ministered to the mental and physical necessities of the
sufferer, this good physician of the soul and body took his leave of the

Beckoning Mrs. Barton outside the door, he enjoined her to keep
everything quiet in and about the cell, as the reason, and even life of
the prisoner depended upon her getting an undisturbed rest.

Then he went down to the lower hall, where his approach was anxiously
watched for by Malcolm Montrose, who hastened out of the ward-room,
eagerly inquiring:

“How is your patient, Doctor? Can I be permitted to see her?”

“She is better, and is composing herself to sleep, but you cannot see
her, as she must not be disturbed to-day,” answered the physician,

“And there will be but one more meeting between us—the parting interview
of to-morrow,” exclaimed Malcolm, in the extremity of mental anguish, as
he left the prison.

He was seized with a burning anxiety to see Annella Wilder, but did not
know where to find, or how to communicate with that eccentric girl. He
therefore passed the remainder of the day in making the promised
arrangements for the almost inconceivable possibility of Eudora’s

                             CHAPTER XXIX.
                         PREPARATION FOR DEATH.

                 What hears she?—a slight sound—
               The opening of the cell’s dark door,—
               Bright eyes—a word, and nothing more.
                 Quickly she gazed around,
               Then, passionate, flung her hands on high,
               And with a sharp, wild, rapturous cry,
                 Fell swooning to the ground.—_Michell._

Eudora slept long and calmly, and awoke early on Tuesday morning, the
last day of her allotted life. Thanks to the good physician’s merciful
ministrations, the frenzy of terror and the darkness of despair had
alike vanished. Her nerves were wonderfully composed, and her mind
perfectly clear.

“It is strange, Mrs. Barton,” she said, as the wardress was assisting
her to dress, “how well I am this morning, the very last day of my life.
It seems to me, looking back on my past feelings, as if I had been very
ill ever since my first arrest, and have only now recovered health and
reason. And this is my last day, and I have made no preparations for
death; but indeed I could not, and I see clearly now why I could not.
First came the thunderbolt of my arrest; then the anguish of suspense
before the trial; then the blackness of despair after conviction; and
then the frenzy of terror that followed the reading of the
death-warrant! What could I do amidst all that various suffering? But it
has all gone, now; the suspense, the despair, and the terror have all
taken flight, like evil spirits, and left my mind in a sweet, clear,
sunny, almost buoyant state, although I am to die to-morrow morning. I
hope this is not unnatural; I hope I am in my senses; for it is a very
strange experience.”

“It is the goodness of God, and the skill of the doctor as His
instrument, my poor, dear child. You are innocent and martyred, and so
you are comforted by Heaven and earth,” answered the wardress.

“I am not afraid to meet my Maker. I never was, even in the midst of my
worst terrors. I have not got my peace to make with Heaven at this late
hour, but I have much to do for those whom I shall leave behind, and I
must set about it immediately.”

“Dear saint, think of yourself; do not trouble your heart about any one

“Did Mr. Montrose call yesterday?”

“Yes, dear child, but you were then too ill to see any one. But I
suppose he will come this morning, as usual.”

“No, he will not. We agreed that as he is permitted but one visit in the
day, he should not come on this last day until the evening, so as to see
me at as late a period as possible before my death. You see how calmly I
can speak of that now, Mrs. Barton.”

“Thank God, my dear, though it breaks my heart to hear you.”

After her frugal breakfast, Eudora asked for pen, ink and paper, and sat
down to write her last wishes, to be confided to Malcolm.

Meanwhile, the chaplain of the prison, who had been very ill with fever
for the last week, arose from his sick-bed to administer the last
consolations of religion to the condemned girl.

He found Eudora seated at the little table and engaged in writing.

She arose as he entered, and held out her hand, saying:

“I am glad you have come to see me again on this last day, Mr.
Goodall—sit down.”

“I should have come before if I had been able to stand upon my feet,”
replied the clergyman, earnestly, as he sank quite exhausted in the
offered chair.

“I am sorry to see that you are still so ill,” she said, looking with
sympathy upon his haggard face.

“Is it credible that you can have room in your heart for any other
sorrow than your own great one?” inquired the clergyman, looking up in
compassion at the face of the speaker.

And then, for the first time, he noticed the perfect serenity and almost
cheerfulness of her countenance.

She perceived his surprise, and answered both his looks and words by

“I do not know how it is, but I cannot grieve for myself now. I seem
changed since yesterday; all the evil spirits of despair and terror that
have been tormenting me for so many weeks past have vanished, and left
my soul in a ‘peace that passeth understanding,’ a ‘sunshine of the
breast,’ that I cannot comprehend, but only receive in awe and

As Mr. Goodall did not immediately answer, but only watched her in
silent wonder, she continued:

“I feel as if I were on the eve of a journey, going home to my father
and mother, and friends, and above all, to that Heavenly Father who
knows my innocence of this imputed guilt, and in whose Divine Mercy I
have never ceased to trust through the darkest days of my despair and

Mr. Goodall was reading her very soul, and, therefore, he would not
reply as yet.

Suddenly she held her hand out to him, and said:

“Mr. Goodall, hitherto you have supposed that I only protested my
innocence because I hoped, through such protestations, to be believed
and saved. But now you must know that not a shadow of hope remains to

“I do know it,” said the minister, earnestly.

“And, therefore, now that I have lost all hope of man’s mercy, and know
that I must certainly die to-morrow morning, you will believe me when I
repeat, as I hope for God’s mercy—I am guiltless of the crimes for which
I am to suffer,” said Eudora, solemnly.

“I _do_ believe you; I am constrained to have faith in your innocence;
dear Eudora, forgive me that I ever doubted you.”

“There is nothing to forgive, since it was inevitable that you should at
first think as all the world did; but there is much to be grateful for,
now that you have confidence in me. And now that we understand each
other, you can indeed give me much comfort,” said Eudora, holding out
her hand, which he took and held, while he said:

“I will attend you to the last, dear, unhappy girl.”

“But you are ill, and must not fatigue yourself.”

“I will be with you to the last,” repeated the minister. “It will be
time enough for me to rest when you are—in Heaven.”

Meanwhile, what had become of Annella Wilder, since her daily visits to
the prison had been prohibited, and her eccentric inroads into Malcolm
Montrose’s lodgings had ceased?

Annella, for the last few days, had restricted herself to the Anchorage
and its immediate environs, where her burning cheeks and blazing eyes,
and feverish manner, excited the serious alarm of her relatives.

“That dear baby is going to be ill, and she ought to be looked after,”
said Mrs. Stilton, who immediately ordered a foot-bath and certain
herb-teas to be taken by the patient at night.

And with unusual docility Annella obeyed, saying to herself:

“I have need of a cool head, and would drink a pint of bitterest
wormwood, and plunge my limbs into boiling water, if I thought that
would take away the burning pain in my head that prevents me from
thinking clearly.”

And so she took—not her own desperate prescription, but the milder one
of Grandmother Stilton. And she arose the next morning, looking like an
expiring fire, and professing herself much better.

But on this last day no one took notice of Annella. All the inmates of
the house seemed to be possessed of a sort of half-restrained frenzy, in
view of the tragedy to be enacted the next morning—that dread tragedy,
in which the life of a young girl was to be publicly offered up in
expiation of an atrocious crime.

They had all known Eudora, and even those who believed her guilty felt
overshadowed and oppressed by the horror of her coming doom, now that it
drew so near.

The two ancient dames—they were both so old that a trifling difference
of eighteen years between the ages of the mother and daughter was of no
sort of account—sat lovingly, side by side, in their easy-chairs, near
the drawing-room chimney-corner, where, summer and winter, a little fire
was always kept burning for cheerfulness.

“I have lived too long, Abby, my dear—I have lived too long, now that I
see little girls as should be innocent as cherubs, and never come to no
more harm than soiling their bibs, and getting smacked by their nurse,
actually dipping their hands in human blood, and being hanged. Yes,
Abby, my dear, I have lived clear away into an age of the world as I
wasn’t born and brought up in, and don’t know nothing about. And if the
good Lord hasn’t forgot to send for me, I don’t know the reason why I am
left. And I think I had better go,” said Mrs. Stilton, despondingly.

“Don’t say that, mother. You are the head of the family, which I don’t
know what we would do without you. And I have been used to you all my
life. And me and you have always been together ever since I can
remember. Think o’ the poor little haberdashery-shop as we kept when we
was both left widdies!—and how you comforted me when that boy o’ mine
run away and went to sea; which little did we think he would ever rise
to be an admiral and make our fortin’, and make ladies of us, and never
be ashamed of us ’ither! And since that we have always been so
comfortable together! And s’pose now I was to see that chair o’ your’n
empty! Oh! whatever should I do! _Oh, hoo! hoo! hoo!_ You’d never go and
die and leave me an orphan after all these years at my time of life!
_Oh, hoo! hoo! hoo!_” whimpered the old lady, in the piteous grief of
age; for though the younger, she was in mind and body much the feebler
of the two.

“There, there, there, now, Abby, my dear, don’t cry. I didn’t mean it. I
won’t die! I’ll live to take care of you and your boy! Didn’t I promise
your dear father, on his death-bed, as I would bear up for the sake o’
the child?—and haven’t I beared up? Good Lord, yes! how many years!
Years of t’iling and striving and struggling for life! And now, in these
latter days, when rest and peace have come, is it likely as I will give
up and die? No, Abby, my dear, not I! I think as the longer I’ve lived
in this world the better I like it, that I do! Only I was upset this
morning along of thinking about that poor dear baby. There, then, don’t
cry, Abby! I’m sure if you want me to do it, I’d just as lief keep on
living all the time as not. I’m sure I don’t see what’s to hinder me.
I’m noways ill, thank God, nor yet dissatisfied with this world. There’s
many a dark, stormy day as has cleared off just at sunset. And that has
been the way of our day of life, Abby, my dear, and now I don’t care if
our clear, pleasant twilight lasts forever. I know heaven is a better
land; but then I was always humble-minded, and easy satisfied, and so
I’m contented with this earth, and don’t long for no better till the
Lord pleases. Leastways, Abby, I won’t die till you are ready to go
along with me.”

While the old ladies talked in this childish, affectionate way, the
admiral walked up and down the lawn in front of the house, with his
hands clasped behind him, in troubled thought. He, too, was overshadowed
by the “coming event.” He had no glance even for the fair Princess
Pezzilini, who, calm, placid, and elegant, occupied her usual morning
seat in the bay window, where she employed herself with some graceful
fancy-work, while Master Valerius Brightwell sat upon a footstool at her
feet, reading aloud for her amusement, and occasionally glancing up at
her with all a boy’s shy admiration of a beautiful woman.

Annella had not been seen since breakfast-time. But when the family
assembled for luncheon at two o’clock, she was called, and appeared with
cheeks again so deeply flushed, and eyes so bright and restless, that
Mrs. Stilton exclaimed:

“That child is on the very verge of brain-fever!”

And she not only ordered her off to bed, but went herself to see her
order obeyed.

Annella made no resistance; but as soon as her head was on the pillow,
and a brown paper, wet with vinegar, was laid upon her brow, she said:

“Now, grandmamma, all I want is to be let to go to sleep, and if Madame
Pezzilini will be kind enough to let Tabitha come and sit by me, I shall
do very well.”

“But why Tabitha? Why not your own woman?” inquired the old lady.

“Because I _hate_ my own woman, and I love Tabitha—and—it will make my
head ache to talk more about it.”

“Well, well, my baby, it shall be just as you please,” said the
indulgent old dame, shutting the door softly and retiring.

A few moments passed, and then the door was as softly opened, and
Tabitha, stepping lightly, entered. She first went noiselessly to the
windows, and made them quite dark by closing the storm-shutters, and
then stole silently to the side of the bed to see if Annella slept.

“I am awake, dear Tabitha; though I wish very much to sleep and recruit
myself for a few hours if I can. What o’clock is it?”

“Half-past two, Miss Wilder.”

“Very well; dip a towel in that iced vinegar and lay it on my head, and
let me sleep, if possible, until five o’clock. Then, Tabitha, wake me.”

“Wouldn’t it be better as I should let you sleep your sleep out, Miss?”

“No; if you love Eudora Leaton, wake me at five o’clock.”

“Oh, Miss, don’t speak of her now! It almost drives me crazy.”

“Hush! She shall be saved if you will wake me at five o’clock. In the
meantime I _must_ lie quiet and sleep if I can, or I shall go mad!”

“But is there—is there a chance of saving her? Oh, Miss! if I thought
there was I would be a’most willing to lay down my life for it.”

“There is a chance—I cannot explain now. I can do nothing before five
o’clock. Until then I _must_ try to compose myself! Tabitha, _will_ you
obey me?”

“Yes, yes, Miss,—surely I am afraid she is going out of her senses,”
added the girl, _sotto voce_, as she wetted the napkin in iced vinegar,
and laid it upon Annella’s burning head, and then silently took her seat
beside the bed.

Annella closed her eyes, and lay still as death, but whether she slept
or not, Tabitha had no means of ascertaining in that darkened chamber.

Hour after hour passed, and Tabitha was on the point of dropping asleep
herself, when the striking of the little golden-toned ormolu clock on
the mantelpiece aroused her.

“It is five o’clock, Miss Annella,” she said, softly, bending over the
quiet girl.

“Then go and bring me my tea, and say that I am better, but shall not
come down this afternoon, and that I do not wish to be disturbed this
evening. And listen, Tabitha, say not a word of what passed between us
before I composed myself to sleep,” murmured Annella, without changing
her position or even opening her eyes. She seemed as one hoarding every
atom of her strength for one final effort.

“No, Miss; I shan’t say nothing at all of what has passed between us, at
least not yet,” answered Tabitha, leaving the room to obey.

In due time she reappeared with the tray, upon which was neatly arranged
Annella’s little chamber tea-service.

The girl arose, bathed her face and head, arranged her hair and dress,
and then drank her tea. After which, she called Tabitha to her side, and

“I am sure you love Miss Leaton—”

“Yes, that I do! I would lay down my life for her,” said Tabitha,
beginning to sob.

“In that case you would not betray anyone who tried to serve her, to
comfort her, or even to rescue her?”

“I’d bite my tongue off first! Sure I have proved as much!”

“Yes. I always believed that you knew more than you chose to tell of her
first escape from Allworth Abbey. Well, Tabitha, listen now. I have an
order to visit Eudora to take a final farewell of her this evening. I
have, also, in my own mind, a plan for rescuing her even at this late

“Lord, Miss Annella! what ever can that be, and could you ever carry it
through—and wouldn’t the law punish you if you did?” inquired Tabitha,

“I cannot tell you—it is enough for you to know that I shall go to visit
her this evening, but my visit to the prison must not be known—my
absence from this house must not even be suspected, lest it lead to
discovery; therefore, Tabitha, you must let me out the back way; and you
must remain in this room, and if anybody comes to inquire after me, put
them off with some excuse; and at night go out and lock the door after
you, so that no one can get into the room and miss me. And when you come
up again, bring a basin of gruel, as if I had need of it. Ask leave to
sleep in my room to take care of me to-night; but on no account let any
one else come in. You understand this, Tabitha?”

“Every word of it, Miss Annella.”

“Well, now hear my last words of all. After the family have all retired,
and the house is quiet, and everybody is asleep, steal out of this room,
lock the door behind you, and bring away the key, and creep down stairs
and out of the house, and watch for me at the lower park gate. Can you
do this?”

“Surely, Miss Annella.”

“But you look frightened already.”

“It is enough to frighten one, but I’ll do it.”

“And now, what are they all about down-stairs?”

“The family are all gathered around the grand piano, listening to Madame
Pezzilini playing and singing—Heaven help them! and the servants are all
at dinner in the servants’ hall.”

“That is well! It is the very hour for me to steal out of the house
unobserved. Lock the door and come with me, Tabitha.”

They left the room, glided down the back stairs, and out at the back

Annella flew across the lawn; through the park, out upon the downs, and
into the high road. She ran along a little way, and then struck into a
by-path leading through a narrow, wooded valley, or “coombe,” lying
between two rolling uplands of the downs, and leading towards Abbeytown.
As soon as she found herself out of the reach of discovery and pursuit,
and safely hidden in this thicket, she sat down to recover her breath
and to still the violent throbbing of her heart.

Surely if Tabitha Tabs had noticed the signs of excitement and almost of
insanity in the expression of Annella’s face, she had not consented to
her leaving the house. But the darkness of the bed-chamber and of the
narrow back staircase had obscured the woman’s vision, and the assumed
calmness and self-restrained manner of Annella had disarmed her caution.

But any rambler passing that way, and seeing Annella as she sat, with
glowing cheeks and sparkling eyes, and restless, frenzied manner, would
have felt justified in taking her in charge upon his own responsibility,
and delivering her up to her friends as a wandering maniac.

But withal Annella had as yet a strange, self-regulating power that
enabled her to control these frequently-recurring fits of excitement.

She sat quietly in the cool shadows of the wood until its spirit had
entered into her soul, and for the time, at least, calmed its fever.

Then she arose and took her way towards the prison.

With the order in her pocket, she was at once admitted.

“Has Mr. Montrose been here to day?” was the first question she put to
the turnkey, who conducted her.

“No, he is not to come until six o’clock,” answered the man.

“Very well; go on.”

She was admitted to the cell, where she found Eudora sitting by the
little table engaged in reading the Scriptures. At her feet was coiled
up her little dog, and on the table was laid a folded paper. Upon seeing
the visitor, she put her hand out, and taking that of Annella, drew her
up to her side and kissed her, saying:

“I thank you for coming to see me once more, dear girl. I am not afraid,
now, Annella! Every dark cloud has passed from my spirit, and I feel
strangely well. And now I begin to understand how it was that Jane Grey
and Anne Boleyn, and so many other young and timorous women, were
enabled to meet unmerited death with so much fortitude. I think that
strength comes at the very last by the gift of God.” And so saying,
Eudora moved and seated herself on the side of the bed to yield the only
chair to her visitor.

Annella did not trust her tongue to speak. She sat down with her back to
the light, that Eudora might not see the disturbance of her face.

So there fell silence in the cell for a few moments, and then Eudora
arose and approached the table, took up the pocket Bible, and wrote a
few lines on the flyleaf. Then laying it upon the lap of the visitor,
she said:

“You will keep it for my sake, dear?”

Annella’s hand closed over the book, but she made no reply.

The dead silence of the young girl surprised and troubled Eudora, who
perceived in it a sympathy too deep and painful for words.

At length the striking of a distant clock was faintly heard. As the last
stroke of six died away, Annella started up, threw her arms around
Eudora, strained her to her bosom, pressed a kiss upon her forehead, and
murmured, in a fainting voice:

“Mr. Montrose will be here in a moment; I will not stay to disturb your
interview. Good-bye—Good-bye!” and hurried from the cell.

Even this failed to disturb the almost supernatural calmness of Eudora,
and saying merely: “I will rest now,” she lay down upon the outside of
the cot.

Mrs. Barton occupied her usual seat in the corner of the cell.

A few moments passed, and then steps were heard approaching. The door
was opened, and Malcolm Montrose, ushered in by the governor, who
immediately retreated, entered the cell. Malcolm’s face was fearfully
pale, and bore all the signs of extreme mental anguish. It was evident
that he put a severe restraint upon himself, and exhibited a merely
external fortitude that might at any moment give way.

She, too, though now so calm, was so wasted, wan, and deadly fair, that
she seemed more like a spirit of the air than a maiden of mortal mould.

As she approached, she held out one thin, blue, pale, transparent hand,
and taking his, drew him towards her.

They looked into each other’s faces intently for a moment with
unspeakable love and grief, and then his fortitude utterly failed him,
and he dropped upon his knees by her side, buried his face in his hands,
and bursting into sobs, wept such bitter tears as are only pressed, like
drops of life-blood, from the mighty heart of man by the extremity of

A spasm of agony passed over Eudora’s still face. She who had ceased to
feel for herself suffered acutely for him. With a supreme effort she
controlled her rising emotions, and, but for the fluttering of the
muscles in her transparent throat, and the quivering of her blue lips,
she seemed calm as before.

She put her arm around his bowed head, drew it upon her bosom, and held
it gently there while she murmured:

“Dear Malcolm, this wrings your heart cruelly, I know. You could endure
it with fortitude if it were yourself instead of me. It is for my fate
alone that you grieve; and your grief is the only thing that troubles
me. But do not weep so bitterly; remember that in a few short hours all
my earthly troubles will be over. And if it is the manner of my death
that appals you, remember that hundreds as young, as delicate, and as
innocent as your Eudora, have endured as dark a doom. And think that I
have strength given me to meet my fate, and reflect that by this hour
to-morrow it will be all the same to Eudora’s emancipated spirit as if
she had died in a bed of purple and fine linen, with ministering friends
around her. And now look up, dear friend. We have but an hour to pass
together, and I wish you to try to calm yourself and listen to me, for
there are some things that I want to commission you to do.”

While Eudora was speaking, the sobs that burst from Malcolm’s agonized
bosom shook his whole frame. But with an almost superhuman effort he
subdued the storm of anguish, and forced himself to be calm.

Then, still kneeling by her side, he took her wasted hand in his own,
gazed with unutterable love in her spirit-like face, and listened with
reverential tenderness to her last words.

With her hands still clasped in his, and her eyes dwelling upon his with
unutterable love and faith, she spoke:

“Dear Malcolm, when you were here the other day I requested you to
promise me that you would mingle with the crowd to-morrow, and place
yourself near the—the scene of my death, so that at the very last I
might look upon the face of a friend. Do you remember?”

“Yes, dearest Eudora; and I will keep my promise—ay, if it drives reason
from its throne—as it is sure to do,” he added, mentally.

“But I release you from that promise, Malcolm. It should never have been
asked or given; the trial is too great for human nature to bear; a
woman, even a fragile girl, has strength given her to endure that which
it would kill or craze the man who loves her to witness; therefore you
must not see me die.”

“But, dear Eudora—”

“Now, hear me out before you interrupt me. I have released you from
_that_ promise, but there is another which I wish you to make me—only
one, dear Malcolm; for though there are several requests that I wish to
make of you, there is but one promise by which I mean to bind your

“And what is that, dear Eudora?”

“I wish you to promise me, on your honor as a gentleman, and your faith
as a Christian, to obey the one single command that I shall give you.”

“I promise, dear Eudora.”

“Then, my order is this: that you take the six o’clock train for London
to-morrow morning, so as to be far from the scene that must be enacted
here. I have your promise. I have given you the order, and you are
pledged to obey it whether you like or not.”

“I am pledged,” groaned Montrose, dropping his face in his hands.

There was silence between them for a few moments, and then she spoke:

“And now, dear Malcolm, for the requests that I have to make of you, and
that I feel sure you will grant without a promise.”

“Be sure that all your requests are at this moment as sacred to me as
the laws of God.”

“Heaven bless you, dear Malcolm.”

“What is it you wish me to do, Eudora?”

“To carry out a plan which I would accomplish if I might be permitted to

She paused for a moment, as if uncertain how to open her communication,
and then at length said:

“I was the heiress of Allworth, Malcolm, and after me you are the sole
heir. You will be very wealthy, Malcolm, for I am told that the
forfeiture will not be enforced—”

“Oh, Eudora! can you think of these things at this moment?”

“Yes; I can think of everything that requires to be thought of. Pray let
me proceed. You will have abundant means of doing good. For my sake I
wish you to be a Providence to that poor widow with whom I lodged in the
Borough, and her thirteen children—what a family! and she was willing to
have made it fourteen, and even fifteen, by keeping the Captain’s orphan
daughter, and myself also, if there had been any need. Hers is a
terrible struggle with the world to win daily bread for all those
ravenous young mouths; and well and bravely does she maintain it. Now,
dear Malcolm, as I firmly believe that there is not a woman in this
world more worthy of assistance, I wish you to give her no merely
transient help, but such permanent aid as shall establish herself and
children in comfortable independence for life. I heard her say the house
she occupies was for sale. Buy it and give it to her; renew the
furniture and stock the shop. It will take but a few hundred pounds—that
you will never miss—but to her and her children what a fortune it will

“If it took thousands, Eudora, it should be done, and not only because
they would be well bestowed, but because you desire it.”

“I know it. Well, when you have made her comfortable in the way I have
indicated, next find out what trades or professions she would like her
sons and daughters to follow, and pay the fees to apprentice them. That
will provide for all their future lives, and relieve the good mother
from the great burden of care.”

“It shall be done, Eudora, and in your own dear name, so that for years
after you have become an angel in heaven, the widow and her children
shall bless your memory.”

“Ah, well, I feel the need that some one should bless me.”

“Many will do so, dear saint! And now what more shall I do?”

“Not much; only when I am gone, do not let my little dog perish. Mrs.
Barton will keep her for a few days, until you can call and fetch her.”

“Dear girl, be sure that there will be few things in this world so
precious to me as the little creature that you loved. And now what else?
Speak all your wishes; tell me all that I can do for you, for to obey
all your commands will be the only course to save me from madness—the
only purpose for which I shall bear to live—except one! yes, except

“There is nothing else whatever, dear friend?”

“Nothing else? You ask nothing for yourself—nothing for your own memory!
Even at this supreme hour your thoughts are all for the good of others.
Yet, dear saint, though in your sweet resignation you have not asked it,
here I make you one solemn promise, one binding oath, one sacred vow!
Here, with my hand upon your martyred head—here, speaking to your
innocent heart—here, in the sight of the all-seeing God—I pledge my
whole life, fortune, and honor to the one sacred purpose of discovering
the real criminal, redeeming your memory from all reproach, and
establishing your innocence beyond all question!” said Malcolm, solemnly
sealing his vow by pressing a kiss upon her forehead.

“Thanks, thanks for this devotion, dearest friend. And now bid me a
gentle good-night and go.”

“So soon—has it come?” aspirated the young man, as all the blood in his
veins seemed to turn back in its course, and roll in with annihilating
force upon his heart. “Must I leave you?”

“It is my own tongue that bids you go, dear Malcolm. Go, while we still
have some self-command left; go, and leave me to God!”

At this very moment also a warder appeared at the cell door. He did not
speak, but the mere event of his appearance there announced that the
moment of separation had arrived. She raised him and threw herself upon
his bosom. He strained her to his heart in the unutterable agony of a
last embrace. A moment thus, and then her arms relaxed, and she sank
back fainting upon her pillow.

Malcolm, blinded, giddy, and stunned by despair, reeled from the cell.

The lobby, lighted only here and there at long intervals by lamps in
high sconces, was very dusky. As he rushed along its gloom, he suddenly
felt his wrist caught by a thin, fiery hand, that seemed to scorch into
his flesh, while a fierce, hot whisper pierced his ear, saying:

“_Be on the watch to-night at the appointed place!_”

The burning, wiry grip, the eager, stinging tones were those of Annella
Wilder. But before he could reply to her words, almost indeed, before he
had recognized her, she had vanished.

And the next minute he was joined by the warder, who had only lingered
behind to lock the door, and who now attended him down the stairs and
saw him fairly outside the prison walls.

He heard the great gate close with a loud clang, the key turn, the bolts
shove into their grooves, the bars fell into their places, and he knew
that the prison was closed up for the night.

But where was Annella?

He looked up and down the highway and all around, in expectation of
seeing that strange creature, whom he supposed must have left the
building before he did, and with whom, as the despairing and the
frenzied snatch at the faintest shadows of hope, he wished to confer.
But he looked in vain; she was nowhere visible.

He well understood the meaning that her words were intended to convey.
But were they not the words of madness? Who could tell?

“Be on the watch to-night at the appointed place,” she had said.

Be on the watch? Aye, that he surely would, without the need of warning;
for could he go home and go to rest upon this last bitter night? Ah, no!
The only thing that he could bring himself to do was to pace up and down
the road beneath the prison walls, praying for her—praying for
himself—until the dawn of the fatal day should compel him to keep his
promise to Eudora, and throw himself into the first morning train, to
fly from the scene of her martyrdom.

But with the constant echo of Annella’s last words in his ear came the
memory of the promise he had made her—an insane promise, but otherwise
harmless and certainly binding. A part of it he had already kept.

There was a small vessel anchored in a quiet cove, five miles from
Abbeytown, and a boat chained at the beach. There was his fast horse,
Fleetfoot, in the stables of the Leaton Arms. There was not one chance
in a billion, not the shadow of a hope, not the faintest indication of a
possibility that any of these preparations would be of the least use;
yet he had madly promised to complete them, and he must keep his
promise. Still half stunned, blind, and dizzy with despair, he went on
to the town, got his horse from the stables, rode slowly through the
woods until it was quite dark, then tied Fleetfoot in the thicket behind
the prison, and went round and resumed his walk and watch before the
front gates.

                              CHAPTER XXX.
                          THE BURNING PRISON.

                    “The doomed girl is silent,
                      I watch with her now,
                    And her pulse beats no quicker,
                      Nor flushes her brow.

                    “The small hand that trembled,
                      When last in my own,
                    Lies patient and folded
                      And colder than stone.”

Malcolm paced up and down before the prison walls. The sky was “blind
with a double dark” of night and clouds. The huge building itself seemed
only a blacker shadow in the black scene. But not darker was the night
without than the soul within the solitary watcher. Why did he walk
there? Not only because he had promised Annella to do so. Not, either,
with the faintest hope of saving the martyr-girl who lay within those
strong walls awaiting her doom. No; but to be near her in her sorrow, to
watch with her as we watch beside the dead. Who can estimate the anguish
of that dark vigil? The deep-voiced clock at the top of one of the
towers struck each hour in its turn, and each stroke sounded like a
knell upon his ear and heart. He wondered if she heard them too, or if
Heaven had blessed her with sleep in these last hours. If so, would to
Heaven she might never wake to the horrors of the morning.

While these agonizing thoughts were lacerating his bosom, he raised his
eyes towards the east wing of the building, in which she lay, and he was
startled to see the gratings strongly defined against a bright, ruddy
light shining within!

What was the matter that the deadly darkness of this massive structure,
which an instant before had seemed but a shapeless mass of shadows piled
up against the midnight sky, should now be illumined so ominously? Was
she ill? dying? Heaven, in its mercy, grant that she might be!

But while he gazed with suspended breath, the lighted row of gratings
suddenly darkened, and belched forth volumes of lurid smoke, pierced by
tongues of flame!


“Oh, Heaven! she might escape her impending doom, but only perishing by
the most fearful of deaths!—perishing by fire with hundreds of others!”

He rushed to the gate, seized the iron handle of the bell that
communicated with the door-keeper’s room, and rang it loudly.

Another moment, and the great bell of the prison sounded from the tower,
rousing by its deep-toned thunder all the sleepers of the neighborhood,
while cries of “Fire! fire! fire!” burst in every tone of terror,
anguish, and despair from the inmates of the burning building.

Still but another instant, and crowds of half-dressed men and even
women, who seemed to have started up from the depths of the earth in the
darkness of the night, came pouring towards the building. The great
gates were opened—when, how, or by whom Malcolm scarcely knew.
Bewildered by his trouble, he was carried with the crowd and hurried on
until he found himself in the great hall of the prison.

Within, as without, the most fearful panic prevailed. Warders, turnkeys,
and door-keepers, roused from deep sleep by the horrid alarm of fire,
hurried hither and thither like men bereft of their senses.

In the ward where Eudora’s cell was situated the darkness was intense
and the smoke suffocating. Malcolm, who had hastened thither, could
scarcely breathe the air. While blindly making his way towards her door,
from which he heard the voice of the wardress shrieking “Fire!” and
“Help!” he _felt_ rather than saw two figures meet in the darkness.

“Is that you, Nally?” demanded the voice of the first, which Malcolm
recognized as that of the governor.

“Yes, sir,” replied a husky, smoke-smothered voice.

“Take this key, then, and release the condemned prisoner. Slip these
handcuffs upon her, and hurry her forward to the west-wing strong-room.
Don’t let her escape in this confusion. I must go and look after the
poor wretches above,” said the governor, in an agitated voice, as he
hurried away to the other end of the lobby.

Malcolm groped along, keeping as near as he could to the figure that he
still _felt_ rather than saw moving before him. Screams of “Fire” and
“Help” still came from the condemned cell, which now, like the lobby,
was as dark as pitch. Malcolm came up with the other just at the cell
door. He held his breath with suspense, but the invisible figure beside
him breathed quickly and fiercely as they stood there together.

A panic of astonishment transfixed Malcolm as he felt that hot breath
upon his cheek. An instant, and the cell door was unlocked and thrown
open, and Mrs. Barton, distracted with fright, rushed out past them, to
make good her escape from the burning building. Another instant and the
mysterious figure, who had plunged into the darkness of the cell, issued
forth, and dropped a light, soft burden upon Malcolm’s breast,
whispering fiercely:

“She is saved! Fly for your life and hers; look not behind you!”

Oh, Heaven! it was Annella’s voice! And she had kept her word!

But he felt that there was not an instant to lose. Pressing the light
form of the girl close in his arm, he ran along through the darkness and
the suffocating smoke, through the lobby, and down the stairs, and out
into the free air.

The smoke, the darkness, the crowd, and the panic befriended him. He
passed the bounds of the prison unobserved, and hurried on towards the
thicket where his horse was tied. As he pressed through the dark crowd
without, he heard many remarks.

“The fire broke out in the prison wardrobe-room, where they keep the
clothing,” said one.

“No one knows how it broke out,” said another.

“They have saved all the prisoners, poor wretches!” exclaimed a woman.

“They’ll soon bring the fire under, too,” observed a man.

No one noticed Malcolm hurrying along with his beloved burden enveloped
in a dark shawl. All eyes were fixed on the ignited building, upon the
walls of which the fire-engines, which had now arrived, were playing

Malcolm reached the thicket in safety. He sat down for a moment to rest
Eudora and uncovered her face to give her air. He thought that she had
swooned, but this was not so. She was pale, and weak, and limber, but
breathing and conscious. She was the first to speak. Raising her eyes to
his, she asked:

“What is all this? What has occurred?”

“You are saved, dearest Eudora!”


“I scarcely know myself. Ask no questions yet, dear one, but rally all
your strength to fly with me.”

He placed her gently on a bank, where she could rest against the trunk
of a tree. He led his horse to the spot, stooped and raised her to the
seat before him, and rode slowly and carefully until he was out of the
wood. Then putting spurs to his horse, he galloped swiftly towards the
sea-coast. As his horse rushed onward Malcolm turned to look at the
fire, and was gratified to see that the flames were certainly in process
of extinction. With a lighter heart he galloped along the beach until at
length he reached the cove, where his hired vessel lay at anchor.

Day was now dawning, and by its faint light they discerned the little
boat upon the sands, and the vessel standing off a short distance from
the shore.

Malcolm, leaving the horse to his fate, placed Eudora in the boat,
pushed it off, took up the pair of oars, and rowed rapidly to the

The captain was on deck, ready to receive his passengers, whom he had
been led to believe were only a pair of “true lovers” running away to be

“Poor young lady, but she is dreadfully faint,” he said, as he received
Eudora from Malcolm’s arms, and bore her into the cabin, where he laid
her gently upon the berths.

“She is; but rest and safety will restore her. When can you sail?”

“This instant! the tide has turned.”

“UP ANCHOR!” shouted the captain, hurrying upon deck.

The anchor was raised, the canvas was unfurled to the breeze, and the
little vessel sailed away upon the blue sea.

                             CHAPTER XXXI.
                           ANNELLA’S RETURN.

                       “For the soul of a sinner
                         Let masses be said;
                       The sin shall be nameless,
                         And nameless the maid.”

Long and fearful was the watch kept by poor Tabitha Tabs, who had
stationed herself at the back gate of the lawn to await Annella’s
return. As hour after hour passed away she grew more and more anxious.
Where could the strange girl be? When would she come back? Would she
ever come back? If not, what would be the consequences? Tabitha
shuddered even to conjecture.

At length, when she had grown almost hysterical with suspense, anxiety,
and terror, she was startled by seeing a light rising in the distance.
It was the burning prison! It was too far off for her to hear the cries
of “Fire!” or even the alarm-bells, so she could not know what building
was in flames; but the fascination of the fire, lighting up the midnight
sky, kept her gazing open-eyed and open-mouthed, and forgetful of all
her causes of anxiety. She would even have called her fellow-servants to
share the delight of this spectacle, but that she feared they would
question how she came to be up and watching, and might thus discover the
absence of Annella, who might even return while they were all enjoying
the pageantry of this illuminated midnight sky.

While she still gazed upon the scene, with these thoughts revolving
through her mind, there was a sharp rap at the gate, followed by the
voice of Annella, wildly demanding admittance.

“Lord sake, Miss Annella, I am glad you have come at last! I never spent
such an anxious night in all my life. Wherever have you been? And you
shall never go out in this way again with _my_ connivance! And can you
tell me what house that is a-fire?” inquired Tabitha, as she unbolted
the gate, and put out her hand to draw in the returning fugitive.

But the hand she took was burning hot, and the words that replied to her
were wild and incoherent.

Tabitha could not see the face of Annella, but she was greatly alarmed,
and holding the hand of the excited girl, she hurried her on to the
house, up the back stairs and into her chamber. There she struck a light
and looked at Annella’s face. That face was fearful to behold. The
cheeks were burning with fever; the eyes were blazing with frenzy.

“Good Lord! the girl is delirious!” cried Tabitha, in affright.

But, panic-stricken as she was, she had the presence of mind to undress
Annella and place her in the bed, and put away all her clothing, and set
the room in order before she gave the alarm. Then, indeed, she aroused
the housekeeper, telling her that Miss Wilder was extremely ill and
raving mad, and that a physician should be summoned at once.

Barbara Broadsides felt herself quite equal to such an emergency, and
therefore declined to wake up her old mistresses before their accustomed
hour. But she aroused Mr. Jessup, and dispatched him to Abbeytown to
fetch a doctor, who arrived about the dawn of day. He pronounced the
illness of Annella to be a most alarming type of brain-fever, and
applied the proper remedies.

This was the beginning of a long and dangerous illness, during which the
delirious girl continually raved of fire and floods, perils and rescues;
but as no one but Tabitha in that house knew the secret of her absence
that night, her talk was all considered to be the mere wanderings of a
mind excited and deranged by fever, as, perhaps, it might have been.

                             CHAPTER XXXII.
                     THE WRECK AND THE DISCLOSURE.

                     “Storm that, like a demon,
                       Howls with horrid note
                     Round the toiling seamen
                       In the tossing boat—
                           Drive her out to sea!

                     “Sleet, and hail, and thunder—
                       And ye winds that rave
                     Till the sands thereunder
                       Tinge the sullen wave—
                           Drive her out to sea!”

The little vessel sailed onward over the blue sea. She was bound for a
small and distant port on the coast of France, but she made slow way
against a wind almost dead ahead.

Leaving Eudora sleeping in the cabin-berth, Malcolm went on deck to get
a little fresh air. While standing in the forward part of the vessel, he
observed a man with his back turned and his head bowed upon his breast,
in an attitude of deep dejection, leaning against the mast. Something in
the general form and air of this man seemed half familiar and half
alarming to Montrose. Unable to analyze his instincts in regard to this
stranger, he beckoned the captain to approach, and inquired, in a tone
of displeasure:

“Who is that man? How is it that you have taken another passenger, when
I bargained for the sole use of the vessel?”

“Why, sir, he is not a passenger, but a hand I picked up at Abbeyport,
to replace one of my men who is too ill for this trip,” answered the

“What is his name?”

“Antony More.”

“Antony More!” repeated Malcolm to himself, as he walked up to the
stranger, and confronted—Antonio Morio, the _soi-disant_ seneschal of
the Princess Pezzilini!

“Self-preservation is the first law of nature. What have you to say why
I should not forthwith pitch you into the sea, Signor Antonio?” inquired
Malcolm, sternly.

“This, Mr. Montrose!—that, so help me Heaven, I will not betray you, nor
that sweet young lady in the cabin,” answered the man, not in broken
English, but in such good vernacular that it might have been his mother

“Why are you here?”

“That is my secret! Torture should not wring it from me. Pitch me into
the sea if you like, Mr. Montrose! I’d quite as lief, you would! I shall
say no more.”

Full of thought, Malcolm walked away from this man, whom he observed was
as pale as death, and looked as if recently recovered from some nearly
fatal illness.

“The wind is rising,” said the captain; “I fear we shall have a gale.”

Malcolm hoped not, and went below to carry such refreshments as the
vessel afforded to Eudora. After she had partaken of them, she expressed
a wish to go up on deck, and Malcolm assisted her to ascend.

“Oh, dear friend! if you could conceive the rapture of moving in wide
space, breathing free air, and looking upon the boundless sea and sky
once more!” exclaimed Eudora, sinking upon the couch of rugs and
cushions that Malcolm had prepared for her upon the deck.

He sat down at her feet, and began to tell her of their destination, and
that immediately upon their arrival it would be necessary for them to be
united in marriage, and that then they would sail for America, and
commence life together.

Eudora listened with calm delight.

But while they talked the wind was rising rapidly and lashing the waves
into fury. The little vessel began to roll so heavily that Eudora was
driven below for safety. Malcolm guided her down into the cabin.

The wind was now so high that they were compelled to take in the sails,
and the voice of the captain was heard shouting at the head of the cabin

“For God’s sake, Mr. Montrose, come up and help us, or we are lost.”

Malcolm secured Eudora as well as he could, and hurried up on deck to
render assistance.

The storm came on apace. The sky was now as dark as night. The
froth-capped waves rushed like foaming steeds before the lashing of the

The little vessel, driven back on her course, was forced to tack and
scud under bare poles before the gale, and towards the coast from whence
she had sailed but a few hours ago. All the afternoon the little craft,
struggling bravely for her life, was driven furiously before the winds
and waves.

As evening deepened, the sky darkened to a blacker hue, and the gale
increased in violence. The captain and his mate never left the deck for
an instant. Malcolm gave all the aid he could, but went below
occasionally to reassure Eudora.

“I am not afraid, dear Malcolm. How could any one who has passed through
what I have, be afraid of anything else that could happen in this world?
Go on deck and help to save the vessel, and think no more of me,” was
her constant answer.

Ah! she did not know that they were being driven swiftly back upon the
coast of England, to which they were already fearfully near.

The night was now dark as the grave. Not a ray of light was to be seen,
except the phosphorescent sparkling of the leaping waves. On—on—the
little vessel plunged through the black fury of the tempest. The men had
lost all control over her, and merely waited for death, while she was
whirled, tossing and pitching, now whelming in the black waves, now
lifted towards the sky, and ever carried onward towards the lee shore.
While fate was thus imminent, Malcolm had brought Eudora from the cabin,
and bound her firmly to himself, so as to leave his limbs free for
struggling with the waves. And thus they awaited their doom. At length
it came. The vessel was slowly lifted on a mighty wave, and dashed with
a stupendous shock upon the sands; and in the same instant all were
struggling for life in the black and furious waves.

Malcolm was a strong swimmer; but he never could explain, because he
never knew, how he and his companion reached the shore that terrible

He only knew that while the black chaos still roared around him, he
found himself high on the beach, stunned and exhausted, with the
dripping and drowned form of Eudora in his arms.

Fishermen from the cliffs above were hurrying down with lanterns to
render assistance to the shipwrecked mariners.

Two of these came towards him and with homely words of sympathy, took
charge of him and his drowned Eudora, and bore them off to a cottage on
the cliff.

“She is dead! quite dead!” moaned Malcolm, in a voice of despair that
sounded like content, as he gazed upon the cold, still form that the
fisherman’s wife had laid upon the rude cottage bed.

“Not she, sir; we’ll bring her to presently, if you’ll go in t’other
room and leave her to us,” said the kind dame.

Malcolm turned into the kitchen, where the fisherman supplied him with a
suit of dry clothes and a glass of brandy that had never lost its flavor
by passing through the custom-house.

And then, while Malcolm sat before the kitchen fire, waiting anxiously
to hear some report of Eudora’s state, the fisherman relighted his
lantern and went out to see what further aid he could render to the
sufferers. After an absence of half an hour he returned, and seating
himself beside his guest, inquired:

“How many on you might ha’ been aboard that craft, master?”

Malcolm informed him.

“Well, then they’re all landed alive.”

“Thank God!”

“Aye; but whether they are all saved, that is another matter, master.
Some on ’em are badly hurt; and one on ’em mos’ particular badly hurt,
poor fellow! nigh upon killed, I should think. He’s lying in the next

Malcolm uttered some few words of sympathy, but his whole heart was with
Eudora. He could think of no one else. At length the fisherman’s wife
appeared to relieve his anxiety. “The young lady had come round,” she
said, “and had inquired after the gentleman, and being told that he was
safe and well, she had taken a quieting drink and gone to sleep. And now
could the gentleman do better than to follow her example? There was a
good bed in the room up-stairs that was heartily at his honor’s

Malcolm thanked the woman, and followed the man, who led him up-stairs,
to a humble attic, where he stretched himself upon a hard bed. But
notwithstanding the weariness and exhaustion of his body, the excitement
and anxiety of his mind kept him from sleep until near morning, when he
was aroused by a loud knocking at his door. It was the fisherman, who
entered, deprecatingly saying:

“Excuse _me_, master, but _might_ your name be Mr. Montrose?”

“Yes; what is the matter?” demanded the young man, in a voice so
startled as to seem angry, for he dreaded some evil to Eudora.

“Why, then, master, the poor man as were so badly hurt last night, which
we think he is dying, is very particular anxious to see you, sir.”

“Which of them is he? What is his name?”

“Antony More, sir.”

“Antonio Morio!” exclaimed Malcolm, springing from the bed, and quickly
preparing to visit the dying man, whom ten minutes after he found lying
upon a poor cot in the next hut.

“What can I do for you?” inquired Malcolm, seating himself beside the

“First send all these people from the room, as our interview must be a
private one,” answered Morio, or More, as we shall hereafter call him.

Malcolm made a sign to the fisherman’s family, who withdrew from sight
only to plant themselves at convenient listening-posts without.

“They say the poor young lady is saved from the wreck. Is it true?”


“I’m glad to be sure about it; for if she had escaped to France, or if
she had perished in the waves, I should have died and made no sign. I
should have been faithful to the friend who has ruined me, even though
she would have consummated that ruin in death, and offered me up the
last of the holocaust of victims sacrificed to her evil passions. But
now that that poor girl is thrown again upon these shores, to suffer for
another’s crimes, and that I am dying, I dare not carry to the grave the
secret that might save her; or face my Judge with her innocent blood on
my soul!”

Malcolm bent over the dying man, and listened with suspended breath,
fearing to ask a question, or to make an observation, lest he should
arrest the confession that was trembling on his lips.

“The theologians are all wrong in supposing the great principal evil to
be a male—it is a female. Satan is a woman—I am sure of it, and many
another man must know it also. An evil woman gains a spell over a man’s
senses, and then a power over his soul, that is like diabolical magic.
The man may know her, scorn her, hate her, but he cannot escape from
her. Sometimes he goes mad and kills her, and gets himself hanged for
it, and finds freedom, purchased even at that price, an infinite relief.
Such an ascendancy one fatal woman gained over me. For years I have been
her dupe, her slave, her tool. She has been my god, for at her command I
have broken all the laws of the Divine One—all, all! At her command I
would have

                 “‘Marched to death as to a festival!’”

The man paused from exhaustion; but after a few moments of silence,

“Why she wished to destroy the house of Leaton I do not know, but I
became her blind tool in that work of destruction——”

“Name this woman!” exclaimed Malcolm, under his breath.

“I cannot; I know neither her name nor her country. She bears half a
dozen aliases, and speaks with equal facility half a dozen modern

“You mean the Italian Princess Pezzilini?”

“I mean the mysterious woman who has successfully imposed herself upon a
few guileless country families as that illustrious lady. I first met her
many years ago at Rome, where I was in the suite of the English
Ambassador, and she in the household of the Princess Gentilescha
Pezzilini. When the Palazza Pezzilini was burned by the mob, she
purloined the family jewels and papers, and fled with me to Paris,
where, with the aid of her documents, she succeeded in passing herself
upon Lord Leaton’s retired circle as the illustrious lady who had really
perished in the burning palace. She accompanied them to England,
bringing me in her train. You know what followed. Why she wished to
exterminate the whole race of her benefactors from the face of the
earth, I never knew. She used me without trusting me, or confided in me
only so far as was absolutely needful. And when she had no further use
for me, she turned her death-dealing powers against me to get me out of
the way. Death was dealt to me insidiously, slowly, and cautiously; but
still I knew that it _was_ death, and that it came from her hand. Even
then I was too much under her spell to denounce her; but I escaped from
her, and fled for my life when I embarked in the vessel. Judge how glad
I was that the poor innocent girl was escaping too!”

“But to do that young lady justice, you are aware that this confession
must be made on oath before a magistrate, in the presence of witnesses,
with every circumstantial detail, and reduced to writing.”

“I know that, and have already sent to summon the proper persons,”
moaned the man, who now seemed thoroughly exhausted.

Malcolm gave him drink. And in a few minutes afterwards a justice of the
peace, attended by his clerk, arrived at the hut. A magistrate in a
populous district is inured to startling revelations. Therefore this
worthy justice sat calmly through the terrible statement made upon oath
by the dying man, and reduced to writing by the clerk. The document was
signed by Antony More, and witnessed by Malcolm Montrose and another.

The necessary warrants were then issued, and the magistrate departed,
leaving a constable in charge of the dying witness, whom the doctors
pronounced unfit for removal.

Malcolm Montrose hurried to the cottage where Eudora lay concealed, to
comfort her with news of the revelation that would completely vindicate
her fair fame.

                            CHAPTER XXXIII.
                            THE DENOUEMENT.

                 “And well my folly’s meed you gave,
                 Who forfeited, to be your slave,
                 All here and all beyond the grave!
                 You saw another’s face more fair,
                 You knew her of broad lands the heir,
                 Forgot your vows, your faith forswore.
                 And I was then beloved no more.”

The whole conversation at Abbeytown turned upon the subject of the
accident at the prison. It was well ascertained that the fire had
originated in the clothes-room. But the flames had been extinguished
before any very material damage was done to the building. No one was
injured, and no one was missing, except Eudora Leaton, who was supposed
to have perished in the flames or to have escaped in the confusion.

Annella Wilder, on her fevered bed, raved of conflagrations and
tempests, and deadly perils by fire or flood. And the two old ladies
scolded all the women for mentioning the burning prison in her presence.

“For how could she have known anything about it but for their gabbling
in the sick room?” inquired Mrs. Stilton.

The admiral was divided between anxiety for the recovery of his
grand-daughter and aspiration for the love of the Princess Pezzilini!
Yes, despite his own bitter matrimonial reminiscences, his threescore
years, and the constant supervision of the two sybils, “that boy” had
become the bond-slave of the Italian princess. In addition to the
beauty, accomplishments, and fascination of the woman, there were other
strong reasons for this infatuation. The admiral, like most self-made
men, had a profound veneration for hereditary greatness. And her assumed
title of “princess,” even though it only represented the ill-defined
rank of an _Italian_ princess, threw a halo over the Pezzilini that
enhanced her value a hundred-fold.

Then the admiral was of an heroic temper, and her perilous adventures
charmed his mind. He was also excessively benevolent, and her
misfortunes melted his heart.

Thus it happened that the admiral was kneeling at the feet of the
“princess,” in the recess of the bay window, when the officers arrived
with the warrant for her “highness’s” arrest.

The “princess” was calmly incredulous; the household were astonished;
the admiral was furious! It was a mistake, an absurdity, an outrage; but
the persecuted princess was in England, the land of civil and religious
liberty, thank Heaven! and should have justice done her, so he said.

He ordered out his own carriage to take her before the magistrate, and
insisted on escorting her. The officers made no objection to these
arrangements, stipulating only that they should occupy the remaining two
seats in the carriage, so as to keep their charge in view. In this
manner the _soi-disant_ princess was taken to the town-hall, where the
magistrates were then sitting. The examination occupied a very long
time, yet the case was so clearly made out against the adventuress that
she was fully committed for trial. And the same day a report of the
proceedings was dispatched to the Home Secretary, with a petition in
behalf of Eudora Leaton, falsely convicted of poisoning her uncle’s
family, and reported missing since the fire. This was met by a respite
of the sentence until after the trial of Madame Pezzilini should either
confirm or refute the testimony upon which the latter had been indicted.

The assizes was still in session, and the trial was fixed for an early

Antony More, to the surprise of every one, survived his great injuries,
and was able to appear in the court as a witness against her. His
testimony was clear, conclusive, and corroborated by certain facts
produced in evidence. The trial occupied three days, at the end of which
the self-styled princess was convicted and sentenced. She received her
doom with the cool self-possession she had displayed throughout the
whole proceedings. Only once she betrayed a momentary emotion.
Throughout her short imprisonment she had been frequently visited by an
elderly woman, whose relations to her were unknown. Soon after being
placed in the condemned cell, she was visited by this woman, upon whose
bosom she threw herself in a transient burst of feeling.

“Do nothing rash, my mother—my most injured mother. Keep your own
counsel, for I will never betray you!”

The next instant she was as calm and self-possessed as ever, but the
wardress had overheard her words.

When the visitor had departed, the prisoner was carefully searched by
the women, but no instrument of self-destruction was found upon her, and
she was permitted at last to lie down and rest, guarded by the wardress.

On the night succeeding the conviction of the strange adventuress, the
Lord Chief Baron Elverton was seated alone in his apartment at the
Leaton Arms, pondering over the subject of the most inexplicable
criminal trial at which he had ever presided; for though the guilt of
the accused had been established to the satisfaction of the Jury, yet
her motive for the deed was still a deep mystery.

Jealousy, revenge, avarice, ambition, the usual incentives to such
crimes, seemed totally wanting in this case, and why she had
exterminated her benefactor’s family was still a secret.

While the baron pondered over this subject, the door was opened and a
visitor announced.

It was a woman of majestic appearance, clothed in deep mourning and
closely veiled.

She advanced to the table, at which he was seated, and threw aside her
veil. And oh, what a countenance was there revealed!

It was a fine face, still bearing the vestiges of magnificent beauty,
but it was the thunder-blasted beauty of the ruined archangel!

“Again!” cried the baron, with a shudder of horror, as he met her dark,
splendid eyes, now blazing with the fires of insanity.

“Ay, again! for the third and last time since your sin, I stand before
you, Baron Elverton!” replied the stranger.

“In the name of Heaven, what is your will with me?”

“To sum up—_just judge!_”

“I know not what you mean beyond this, that it must be some new

“Do you know who you have condemned to death to-day?”

“No, beyond the fact that she was an adventuress with a half dozen
aliases, a murderess, who merited breaking upon the wheel rather than
any milder form of death!”

“Ah, she was very wicked, was she not?”

“A double-dyed, diabolical traitor to destroy her benefactors, and
without even any apparent motive for the deed!”

“But perhaps she could not help it. Treachery and ingratitude were
hereditary with her, were in her blood, were given to her at her birth.”

“What dark meaning now lurks under your words?”

“Listen, Baron Elverton, while I tell you. More years ago than I care to
count, the sinful woman who confronts you now for the last time was a
sinless child—the only child of a poor old widowed country curate. She
became, at seventeen years of age, the nursery governess of your little
sisters. You saw and admired her beauty. You made her your wife by a
secret marriage.”

“Woman! why do you recall these follies after all these years?”

“To lead to the end! You made Harriette Newton your wife by a
clandestine marriage, but you were a few months under age, and the
marriage was not binding unless you should choose to make it so after
your majority. Alas! before that time arrived you had repented of your
‘low’ marriage, and grown tired of the humble woman whose peace you had
destroyed. When your secret was discovered you humbled yourself to your
offended father; you promised never to see the ‘girl’ again; you
suffered her to be sent back with ignominy to break the heart of _her_
father, for the poor old curate never held up his head again; he died
before his daughter became a mother—”

“Harriette, I was a boy then—”

“A boy with the hardened heart of a veteran sinner! Your father died;
you came into your estates; and I, with my daughter in my arms, threw
myself at your feet, and entreated you to acknowledge us as your wife
and child—”

“And then I would have done it, Harriette.”

“Aye, for a moment nature made herself heard above the clamor of pride,
ambition, selfishness! You would have yielded, you would then and there
have restored us to our places in your heart and home, but you were

“Aye, I was prevented!”

“And who was it that hindered you in that act of justice? Your bosom
friend and confidant, _Henry Lord Leaton_! He it was who, in that moment
of your better feelings, laid his hand upon your shoulder, and bade you
pause and reflect; told you that marriage with an inferior was always a
snare and a curse to both parties; that I was unfitted for the sphere of
life to which you would have raised me; that by such a marriage you
would be humiliated and wretched, and I misplaced and miserable; bade
you remember the fate of the ‘Ladye of Burleigh,’ and take warning, and
advised you to repudiate and provide for us! ‘Provide for us!’ I think
even _he_ saw that I would have seen my child slowly starve to death in
my arms rather than have taken one crumb from the father who refused to
acknowledge her as his legitimate daughter!” exclaimed the woman, with
her eyes suddenly kindling.

“He was a high-toned, honorable man; he meant well by you and me.”

“Especially by me and my child, whom he consigned to a life of misery,
dishonor and reproach!” said the woman, in withering scorn. “Enough! by
his advice and his assistance, you succeeded in annulling your juvenile
marriage and repudiating your wife and child! Once more we are turned
from your door. I had a long illness, during which, I think, my soul
must have left my body, and the spirit of a fiend entered it. For, a
loving, suffering, forgiving woman, I fell into that fever, but I arose
from it the avenger of my own sex, the destroyer of yours!”

He knew that her words were the ravings of insanity, and yet they seemed
to curdle his blood.

She continued:

“Were there not fallen angels enough in this pandemonium of a world that
you might have spared the poor old curate’s little daughter? What excuse
had you for her destruction? Love? Bah! Love does not destroy its
object! Passion? Passion is of the soul, and your soul was smothered in
selfishness even in your infancy! You feel a single glow of human love
or passion, who from boyhood have been a monster of egotism! But I did
not come here to deal in invective—I came to wind up accounts with you
for ever. Enough that I arose from that bed of illness a spirit prepared
for any work of evil! Every door was closed against me—every road barred
except that which leads down to death and perdition! I do not intend to
amuse you, baron, with the life of a lost spirit. I was not far from you
on that grand day when you led the Lady Elfrida Gaunt to the altar; and
my curse that arose to Heaven interrupted the marriage benediction. I
was near you also on that other proud day, when bonfires blazed and
bells were rung, and oxen roasted in honor of the christening of your
heir, and my curse neutralized the blessing of the babe. Then I pressed
my own discarded child to my heart, and recorded a vow of vengeance upon
two men and all their race, even though it should take me a long
lifetime to work it out. How long I pursued you secretly, how often I
failed, need not here be told. One day I found myself in Paris, among
congenial spirits, where a career opened before me; where evil is
organized into a perfect working system, having its constitution and
by-laws—its forms of government and schools of training—its lovely girls
and handsome boys, educated into accomplished women and men to become
the sirens and satyrs of society. Of this secret band I became a member.
Men called me beautiful and gifted. I went upon the stage, not from
necessity, but to facilitate my intercourse with a certain set of
wealthy dupes, for I still continued a bond member of the secret
society. Years passed and I became a celebrity. At last I met the aged
and decrepit General de la Compte. He offered me marriage and I accepted
him. He had a daughter but a few months younger than my own. He died in
the second year of our marriage, leaving me to bring up the two girls.
When these young women had reached a marriageable age, your son, grown
to manhood, appeared in Paris—”

Here the woman paused, and looked wistfully into the blanched face of
the old man; then, with a dreadful smile, she said:

“But you know the story—”

“Woman of Belial, yes!”

“But you do not know whom you have doomed to death to-day.”

“Ha! There is something more than meets the ear in this reiterated
question! Whom do you mean?”

“Your own daughter! She who, but for your black treachery, would now be
ruling in your halls, heiress of Elverton, instead of lying in a
prison-cell, a convicted felon!”

“Great Heaven! this is most horrible! But then—but then—if this story is
true, the communication that you made to my unhappy son, upon that fatal
night which drove him in madness from his home, a fugitive and a
wanderer over the face of the earth, and turned the fair home into a
Gehenna of remorse and despair was false—must have been utterly false!”
exclaimed the baron, in uncontrollable agitation between the horror he
felt at being told that the criminal he had just condemned to death was
his own discarded daughter, and the joy that rushed upon him with the
thought that another and a deeper curse was removed from his house.

His condition between these two excessive and antagonistic emotions
bordered upon insanity.

“Ah!” muttered the woman to herself, with an expression of perplexity
and pain traversing her fine features as she passed her hand over her
brow; “I did not mean to betray that fact; but my brain! my brain; I am
not well!”

“Harriette!” exclaimed the baron, excited beyond all measure, as he
arose and dropped his hand upon her shoulder, “Harriette, as you hope
for God’s pardon in your dying hour—”

“I do _not_ hope for his pardon!” interrupted the woman, gloomily.

“TELL ME, who is she that lies doomed to death in yonder cell?” demanded
the baron, without noticing her interruption.

“I have told you! your daughter and mine! the rightful heiress of
Elverton, if justice had been done!”

“And she whom my son married—”

“I have unwillingly betrayed that secret too I take it, since you have
it! Your son’s wife is the daughter of the late General de la Compte, by
his first wife, and was, therefore, _not_ within the prohibited degree
of kindred according to the marriage code. Our daughter never married;
she was destined to another doom; to work her mother’s will; to avenge
her mother’s wrongs. For this I kept her always near me; won her whole
heart; absorbed her will; mastered her spirit. Whatever she has done in
this world has been done for me, and often blindly by her. She had but
one human affection—filial love. To-day the daughter stood before the
father’s face to receive from him the doom of death. But the doom was

“Woman! what do you tell me?”

“She was guiltless of the death of the Leatons!”

“Who, then, was the destroyer?”

“_I!_” shouted the monomaniac. “I, THE AVENGER! I, who, in the same hour
that I turned away from your triumphant wickedness, with my discarded
child pressed to my bleeding heart—I who, in the same hour that was
transformed from a woman to a fiend, vowed a vow of exterminating wrath
against two men, with all their race, and sold my soul to Satan for the
power of accomplishing the work! Had not Satan failed me at the last,
the race of Leaton would have been extinguished in blood and shame. That
of Elverton, would have lived in misery and dishonor—worse than death
and perdition.”

“Woman, you wildly rave! Come to your senses—collect yourself, explain;
you say that your daughter was guiltless; that _you_ were the criminal;
if this is not a mere trick to attempt to defeat the ends of justice,
how do you explain away the direct evidence of Antony More, who swore
that he was employed by the so-called Princess Pezzilini to procure the
drugs of which the Leatons died!” inquired Lord Elverton, who, amidst
all the violent emotion that shook the bosom of the man retained the
mental calmness of the judge.

“Antony More was a fool and a beast; the slave of a slave; the mere tool
of her who was but the tool of her mother. I put into the hands of my
daughter a card with the name of the drug I wanted written upon it. I
said to her, ‘Give this card to your dog, Antonio, and tell him to
procure the drug secretly and bring it to you; when you get it, pass it
secretly to me.’ This was done. Afterwards, she privately admitted me to
the house on various occasions by night; and so the work was
accomplished; and the last Leaton would have perished on the scaffold
for the murder of the others, but that Satan failed me at the very last!
It was necessary to get rid of Antony More; but I was not quick enough
about it. He took the alarm and fled, and you know the result—a
shipwreck, a confession, and the arrest, trial, and conviction of Agnes.
But Agnes is guiltless! guiltless even of purloining the jewels and
documents of the Princess Gentilescha Pezzilini, which were really given
into my hands for safe custody during the time of trouble; and only
after the burning of the palace and the death of the princess were they
used by me for the furtherance of our plans. For the rest, whatever
Agnes might have suspected, she never certainly knew why I wanted the
_Fabæ Sancta Ignatii_, or for what purpose I kept myself concealed in
the neighborhood and gained admittance to the abbey only in the dead of
night. That dolt, Antony More, complained that she never took him into
her confidence! How could she, when she had nothing to confide to him?
But she is guiltless, and must not perish! She was the only human
creature that was ever true to me; but she must not die for me! Baron
Elverton, I came here to denounce myself as the destroyer of the Leaton
family! You know your duty; do it!”

“Yes,” he said, “whether you are mad or sane, it is equally necessary
that you should be placed in custody; and to-morrow this affair shall be
investigated. If your unfortunate daughter should be proved really
guiltless, justice must be done her at any cost to myself or to you! And
you, wretched woman! must take your chance between the doom of death and
the living grave of Bedlam!” said the Baron, as he rang the bell and
summoned the proper officers.

And ten minutes afterwards the woman was in custody of the police.

Early the next morning inquiries were set on foot. They were too late to
avail the unhappy, blind instrument of a mother’s vengeance. The
_soi-disant_ Princess Pezzilini was found dead in her bed. A small
locket ring, that fitted tightly upon her finger, was open; but instead
of some minute likeness of a friend’s face, or small lock of a lover’s
hair, it contained only a tiny glass cavity, which being subjected to
scientific experiments, was supposed to have contained a certain deadly
poison, one drop of which was sufficient to have produced instantaneous

Yes, “like the scorpion girt with fire,” she had stung herself to death!

In due time the criminals were brought to justice and paid the penalty
of their crimes.

When the turbulent emotions excited by these later events had somewhat
subsided, Malcolm Montrose and Eudora Leaton were quietly married at the
village church.

Annella Wilder, who had recovered from her severe illness, attended as
bridesmaid. Norham Montrose officiated as best man. Admiral Sir Ira
Brunton gave the bride away.

After the ceremony they set out immediately for Southhampton, whence
they sailed for India, where Montrose had received a high official
appointment, and where, for the further restoration of Eudora’s peace of
mind, he had determined to fix their future residence.

Up to the hour of their departure one trouble had weighed upon the mind
of Malcolm. That grief remained unspoken, yet found its most eloquent
expression in the earnest gaze he sent into Annella’s eyes as he pressed
her hand in a last adieu. She understood, and replied to his look, by

“I know what it is that you would say if you dared! but you are widely
mistaken. _I did not set fire to the prison!_ Not even to have saved
Eudora’s precious life would I have endangered hundreds of other lives.
No, desperate as my plan of rescue was, it was not so criminal as that!
What the nature of my original project was it is needless now to say,
since it was forestalled by accident. It is enough for me to admit that
I had concealed myself in the building that night for the purpose of
carrying out my plan of rescue when the alarm of fire startled me as
well as others. My first thought was of Eudora and her safety, and I was
rushing through the black and suffocated lobby, in which her cell was
situated, when I was met by the governor, who, in the double darkness of
night and thick smoke, mistook me for the only person who had any
business there—Nally, the old turnkey of that ward. Thus I got
possession of the key of the cell, and was enabled to keep my word with
you. I did it without crime. Take that comfort to India with you.”

“God bless you, Annella!” exclaimed Malcolm drawing a deep inspiration
with a sense of infinite relief, as he pressed her hand and bade her

The long-severed pair of Edenlawn—long-severed through the crudest
misrepresentation—were at length re-united. The world, who neither knew
the cause of their severance nor of their re-union, ascribed both to
caprice; but the contented family at Edenlawn cared little for its

Strong suspicion of foul play on the part of the unfortunate and guilty
Madame de la Compte had brought Hollis Elverton again to England, but
her cunning had baffled his unaided attempts at investigation, while the
very nature of his wrongs prevented him from calling in the aid of the
detective police, and thus accident alone brought the guilty to justice.

With the full approbation of their mutual friends, Norham Montrose and
Alma Elverton were married, and, at the desire of all parties, fixed
their abode at Edenlawn, where Alma’s “hunger of the heart” is at length
fully satisfied, for in her the circle of human love is complete. She
lives in the rich enjoyment of father’s, mother’s, husband’s, and
children’s affection. She is the centre of their household, the darling
of all hearts and eyes, the consolation even of the grave old man, who,
retired from official life, passed his time in reading, prayer,
meditation, and deeds of mercy, and who is less proud of Alma as his
heiress, and the future Baroness of Elverton, than fond of her as a good
and lovely woman.

The last marriage that we have to record is that of Lieutenant Valerius
Brightwell, R. N., and Miss Annella Wilder, which took place quite
recently with great _eclat_. As the young couple were the joint heirs of
Admiral Brunton, and as the bride was very young, and the bridegroom on
the point of sailing on a distant service, it was arranged that they
should fix their permanent residence at the Anchorage; and so, should
old Mrs. Stilton be still unable “to conquer her chronic malady of
living,” we shrink from surmising how many degrees of descendants she
may have to look down upon.

Mrs. Corder and her thirteen children are made comfortable by the
liberality of Eudora. The worthy little widow owns the neatly-furnished
house and the well-stocked shop in which she lives happily and does a
flourishing business. Her elder children are apprenticed to profitable
trades, and the younger ones are put to good schools. Mrs. Corder was
always so happy, even in her adversity, that she could scarcely be said
to be more so now in her prosperity.

Allworth Abbey remains untenanted, closely shut up and in charge of the
housekeeper, Mrs. Vose, who prefers to live at the lodge, and who will
not even be bribed to show the inside of the building,—no, not even to
the most curious and importunate of tourists.

The Barony of Leaton remains in abeyance.

Malcolm Montrose, on the part of his wife, draws the large revenues of
the Abbey estates that are flourishing under the care of an able

Whether Mr. Montrose will ever advance his wife’s claim to the Barony of
Leaton, or whether Eudora will ever have nerve enough to return to the
scene of her terrible sorrows, remains an open question.

In the sunny land of her birth she is in the possession of all the
happiness she is capable of enjoying—the love of a devoted husband,
beautiful children, and faithful friends; an honorable position, an
ample fortune, and good health. As for the rest, the scars of those
early, deep wounds, they may possibly never be effaced in this world. As
long as she lives on earth, perhaps some subjects and some memories will
cause her cheek to blanch and her blood to curdle with a deadly
soul-sickness; but we commend her, with all the stricken in heart and
wounded in spirit to that Benignant Power, which being “almighty to
create,” is also ALMIGHTY TO RENEW.

                                THE END.


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected obvious typographical errors and variations in
 2. Retained archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings as printed.
      Also retained Chapter XI, “Runaway” in the Contents; “Wanderer”
      in the body text.
 4. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.
 5. Denoted superscripts by a caret before a single superscript
 6. Enclosed bold font in =equals=.

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