Project Gutenberg Australia
a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership




Night and Morning
Edward Bulwer-Lytton



THE WORKS
OF
EDWARD BULWER LYTTON
(LORD LYTTON)


NIGHT AND MORNING




PREFACE

TO THE EDITION OF 1845.

Much has been written by critics, especially by those in Germany (the
native land of criticism), upon the important question, whether to please
or to instruct should be the end of Fiction--whether a moral purpose is
or is not in harmony with the undidactic spirit perceptible in the higher
works of the imagination. And the general result of the discussion has
been in favour of those who have contended that Moral Design, rigidly so
called, should be excluded from the aims of the Poet; that his Art should
regard only the Beautiful, and be contented with the indirect moral
tendencies, which can never fail the creation of the Beautiful.
Certainly, in fiction, to interest, to please, and sportively to
elevate--to take man from the low passions, and the miserable troubles of
life, into a higher region, to beguile weary and selfish pain, to excite
a genuine sorrow at vicissitudes not his own, to raise the passions into
sympathy with heroic struggles--and to admit the soul into that serener
atmosphere from which it rarely returns to ordinary existence, without
some memory or association which ought to enlarge the domain of thought
and exalt the motives of action;--such, without other moral result or
object, may satisfy the Poet,* and constitute the highest and most
universal morality he can effect. But subordinate to this, which is not
the duty, but the necessity, of all Fiction that outlasts the hour, the
writer of imagination may well permit to himself other purposes and
objects, taking care that they be not too sharply defined, and too
obviously meant to contract the Poet into the Lecturer--the Fiction into
the Homily. The delight in Shylock is not less vivid for the Humanity it
latently but profoundly inculcates; the healthful merriment of the
Tartufe is not less enjoyed for the exposure of the Hypocrisy it
denounces. We need not demand from Shakespeare or from Moliere other
morality than that which Genius unconsciously throws around it--the
natural light which it reflects; but if some great principle which guides
us practically in the daily intercourse with men becomes in the general
lustre more clear and more pronounced, we gain doubly, by the general
tendency and the particular result.

  *[I use the word Poet in its proper sense, as applicable to any
   writer, whether in verse or prose, who invents or creates.]

Long since, in searching for new regions in the Art to which I am a
servant, it seemed to me that they might be found lying far, and rarely
trodden, beyond that range of conventional morality in which Novelist
after Novelist had entrenched himself--amongst those subtle recesses in
the ethics of human life in which Truth and Falsehood dwell undisturbed
and unseparated. The vast and dark Poetry around us--the Poetry of Modern
Civilisation and Daily Existence, is shut out from us in much, by the
shadowy giants of Prejudice and Fear. He who would arrive at the Fairy
Land must face the Phantoms. Betimes, I set myself to the task of
investigating the motley world to which our progress in humanity--has
attained, caring little what misrepresentation I incurred, what hostility
I provoked, in searching through a devious labyrinth for the foot-tracks
of Truth.

In the pursuit of this object, I am, not vainly, conscious that I have
had my influence on my time--that I have contributed, though humbly and
indirectly, to the benefits which Public Opinion has extorted from
Governments and Laws. While (to content myself with a single example) the
ignorant or malicious were decrying the moral of Paul Clifford, I
consoled myself with perceiving that its truths had stricken deep--that
many, whom formal essays might not reach, were enlisted by the picture
and the popular force of Fiction into the service of that large and
Catholic Humanity which frankly examines into the causes of crime, which
ameliorates the ills of society by seeking to amend the circumstances by
which they are occasioned; and commences the great work of justice to
mankind by proportioning the punishment to the offence. That work, I
know, had its share in the wise and great relaxation of our Criminal
Code--it has had its share in results yet more valuable, because leading
to more comprehensive reforms-viz., in the courageous facing of the ills
which the mock decorum of timidity would shun to contemplate, but which,
till fairly fronted, in the spirit of practical Christianity, sap daily,
more and more, the walls in which blind Indolence would protect itself
from restless Misery and rampant Hunger. For it is not till Art has told
the unthinking that nothing (rightly treated) is too low for its breath
to vivify and its wings to raise, that the Herd awaken from their chronic
lethargy of contempt, and the Lawgiver is compelled to redress what the
Poet has lifted into esteem. In thus enlarging the boundaries of the
Novelist, from trite and conventional to untrodden ends, I have seen, not
with the jealousy of an author, but with the pride of an Originator, that
I have served as a guide to later and abler writers, both in England and
abroad. If at times, while imitating, they have mistaken me, I am not.
answerable for their errors; or if, more often, they have improved where
they borrowed, I am not envious of their laurels. They owe me at least
this, that I prepared the way for their reception, and that they would
have been less popular and more misrepresented, if the outcry which
bursts upon the first researches into new directions had not exhausted
its noisy vehemence upon me.

In this Novel of Night and Morning I have had various ends in
view--subordinate, I grant, to the higher and more durable morality which
belongs to the Ideal, and instructs us playfully while it interests, in
the passions, and through the heart. First--to deal fearlessly with that
universal unsoundness in social justice which makes distinctions so
marked and iniquitous between Vice and Crime--viz., between the
corrupting habits and the violent act--which scarce touches the former
with the lightest twig in the fasces--which lifts against the latter the
edge of the Lictor's axe. Let a child steal an apple in sport, let a
starveling steal a roll in despair, and Law conducts them to the Prison,
for evil commune to mellow them for the gibbet. But let a man spend one
apprenticeship from youth to old age in vice--let him devote a fortune,
perhaps colossal, to the wholesale demoralisation of his kind--and he may
be surrounded with the adulation of the so-called virtuous, and be served
upon its knee, by that Lackey--the Modern World! I say not that Law can,
or that Law should, reach the Vice as it does the Crime; but I say, that
Opinion may be more than the servile shadow of Law. I impress not here,
as in Paul Clifford, a material moral to work its effect on the Journals,
at the Hastings, through Constituents, and on Legislation;--I direct
myself to a channel less active, more tardy, but as sure--to the
Conscience--that reigns elder and superior to all Law, in men's hearts
and souls;--I utter boldly and loudly a truth, if not all untold,
murmured feebly and falteringly before, sooner or later it will find its
way into the judgment and the conduct, and shape out a tribunal which
requires not robe or ermine.

Secondly--In this work I have sought to lift the mask from the timid
selfishness which too often with us bears the name of Respectability.
Purposely avoiding all attraction that may savour of extravagance,
patiently subduing every tone and every hue to the aspect of those whom
we meet daily in our thoroughfares, I have shown in Robert Beaufort the
man of decorous phrase and bloodless action--the systematic
self-server--in whom the world forgive the lack of all that is generous,
warm, and noble, in order to respect the passive acquiescence in
methodical conventions and hollow forms. And how common such men are with
us in this century, and how inviting and how necessary their delineation,
may be seen in this,--that the popular and pre-eminent Observer of the
age in which we live has since placed their prototype in vigorous colours
upon imperishable canvas.--[Need I say that I allude to the Pecksniff of
Mr. Dickens?]

There is yet another object with which I have identified my tale. I trust
that I am not insensible to such advantages as arise from the diffusion
of education really sound, and knowledge really available;--for these, as
the right of my countrymen, I have contended always. But of late years
there has been danger that what ought to be an important truth may be
perverted into a pestilent fallacy. Whether for rich or for poor,
disappointment must ever await the endeavour to give knowledge without
labour, and experience without trial. Cheap literature and popular
treatises do not in themselves suffice to fit the nerves of man for the
strife below, and lift his aspirations, in healthful confidence above. He
who seeks to divorce toil from knowledge deprives knowledge of its most
valuable property.--the strengthening of the mind by exercise. We learn
what really braces and elevates us only in proportion to the effort it
costs us. Nor is it in Books alone, nor in Books chiefly, that we are
made conscious of our strength as Men; Life is the great Schoolmaster,
Experience the mighty Volume. He who has made one stern sacrifice of self
has acquired more than he will ever glean from the odds and ends of
popular philosophy. And the man the least scholastic may be more robust
in the power that is knowledge, and approach nearer to the Arch-Seraphim,
than Bacon himself, if he cling fast to two simple maxims--"Be honest in
temptation, and in Adversity believe in God." Such moral, attempted
before in Eugene Aram, I have enforced more directly here; and out of
such convictions I have created hero and heroine, placing them in their
primitive and natural characters, with aid more from life than
books,--from courage the one, from affection the other--amidst the feeble
Hermaphrodites of our sickly civilisation;--examples of resolute Manhood
and tender Womanhood.

The opinions I have here put forth are not in fashion at this day. But I
have never consulted the popular any more than the sectarian, Prejudice.
Alone and unaided I have hewn out my way, from first to last, by the
force of my own convictions. The corn springs up in the field centuries
after the first sower is forgotten. Works may perish with the workman;
but, if truthful, their results are in the works of others, imitating,
borrowing, enlarging, and improving, in the everlasting Cycle of Industry
and Thought.

Knebworth, 1845.
NOTE TO THE PRESENT EDITION, 1851.

I have nothing to add to the preceding pages, written six years ago, as
to the objects and aims of this work; except to say, and by no means as a
boast, that the work lays claims to one kind of interest which I
certainly never desired to effect for it--viz., in exemplifying the
glorious uncertainty of the Law. For, humbly aware of the blunders which
Novelists not belonging to the legal profession are apt to commit, when
they summon to the denouement of a plot the aid of a deity so mysterious
as Themis, I submitted to an eminent lawyer the whole case of "Beaufort
versus Beaufort," as it stands in this Novel. And the pages which refer
to that suit were not only written from the opinion annexed to the brief
I sent in, but submitted to the eye of my counsel, and revised by his
pen.--(N.B. He was feed.) Judge then my dismay when I heard long
afterwards that the late Mr. O'Connell disputed the soundness of the law
I had thus bought and paid for! "Who shall decide when doctors disagree?"
All I can say is, that I took the best opinion that love or money could
get me; and I should add, that my lawyer, unawed by the alleged ipse
dixit of the great Agitator (to be sure, he is dead), still stoutly
maintains his own views of the question.

   [I have, however, thought it prudent so far to meet the objection
   suggested by Mr. O'Connell, as to make a slight alteration in this
   edition, which will probably prevent the objection, if correct,
   being of any material practical effect on the disposition of that
   visionary El Dorado--the Beaufort Property.]

Let me hope that the right heir will live long enough to come under the
Statute of Limitations. Possession is nine points of the law, and Time
may give the tenth.

Knebworth.




NIGHT AND MORNING.

BOOK I.

          "Noch in meines Lebens Lenze
          War ich and ich wandert' aus,
          Und der Jugend frohe Tanze
          Liess ich in des Vaters Haus."

                 SCHILLER, Der Pilgrim.



INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER.

        "Now rests our vicar. They who knew him best,
        Proclaim his life to have been entirely rest;
        Not one so old has left this world of sin,
        More like the being that he entered in."--CRABBE.

In one of the Welsh counties is a small village called A----. It is
somewhat removed from the high road, and is, therefore, but little known
to those luxurious amateurs of the picturesque, who view nature through
the windows of a carriage and four. Nor, indeed, is there anything,
whether of scenery or association, in the place itself, sufficient to
allure the more sturdy enthusiast from the beaten tracks which tourists
and guide-books prescribe to those who search the Sublime and Beautiful
amidst the mountain homes of the ancient Britons. Still, on the whole,
the village is not without its attractions. It is placed in a small
valley, through which winds and leaps down many a rocky fall, a clear,
babbling, noisy rivulet, that affords excellent sport to the brethren of
the angle. Thither, accordingly, in the summer season occasionally resort
the Waltons of the neighbourhood--young farmers, retired traders, with
now and then a stray artist, or a roving student from one of the
universities. Hence the solitary hostelry of A----, being somewhat more
frequented, is also more clean and comfortable than could reasonably be
anticipated from the insignificance and remoteness of the village.

At a time in which my narrative opens, the village boasted a sociable,
agreeable, careless, half-starved parson, who never failed to introduce
himself to any of the anglers who, during the summer months, passed a day
or two in the little valley. The Rev. Mr. Caleb Price had been educated
at the University of Cambridge, where he had contrived, in three years,
to run through a little fortune of L3500. It is true, that he acquired in
return the art of making milkpunch, the science of pugilism, and the
reputation of one of the best-natured, rattling, open-hearted companions
whom you could desire by your side in a tandem to Newmarket, or in a row
with the bargemen. By the help of these gifts and accomplishments, he had
not failed to find favour, while his money lasted, with the young
aristocracy of the "Gentle Mother." And, though the very reverse of an
ambitious or calculating man, he had certainly nourished the belief that
some one of the "hats" or "tinsel gowns"--i.e., young lords or
fellow-commoners, with whom he was on such excellent terms, and who
supped with him so often, would do something for him in the way of a
living. But it so happened that when Mr. Caleb Price had, with a little
difficulty, scrambled through his degree, and found himself a Bachelor of
Arts and at the end of his finances, his grand acquaintances parted from
him to their various posts in the State Militant of Life. And, with the
exception of one, joyous and reckless as himself, Mr. Caleb Price found
that when Money makes itself wings it flies away with our friends. As
poor Price had earned no academical distinction, so he could expect no
advancement from his college; no fellowship; no tutorship leading
hereafter to livings, stalls, and deaneries. Poverty began already to
stare him in the face, when the only friend who, having shared his
prosperity, remained true to his adverse fate,--a friend, fortunately for
him, of high connections and brilliant prospects--succeeded in obtaining
for him the humble living of A----. To this primitive spot the once
jovial roisterer cheerfully retired--contrived to live contented upon an
income somewhat less than he had formerly given to his groom--preached
very short sermons to a very scanty and ignorant congregation, some of
whom only understood Welsh--did good to the poor and sick in his own
careless, slovenly way--and, uncheered or unvexed by wife and children,
he rose in summer with the lark and in winter went to bed at nine
precisely, to save coals and candles. For the rest, he was the most
skilful angler in the whole county; and so willing to communicate the
results of his experience as to the most taking colour of the flies, and
the most favoured haunts of the trout--that he had given especial orders
at the inn, that whenever any strange gentleman came to fish, Mr. Caleb
Price should be immediately sent for. In this, to be sure, our worthy
pastor had his usual recompense. First, if the stranger were tolerably
liberal, Mr. Price was asked to dinner at the inn; and, secondly, if this
failed, from the poverty or the churlishness of the obliged party, Mr.
Price still had an opportunity to hear the last news--to talk about the
Great World--in a word, to exchange ideas, and perhaps to get an old
newspaper, or an odd number of a magazine.

Now, it so happened that one afternoon in October, when the periodical
excursions of the anglers, becoming gradually rarer and more rare, had
altogether ceased, Mr. Caleb Price was summoned from his parlour in which
he had been employed in the fabrication of a net for his cabbages, by a
little white-headed boy, who came to say there was a gentleman at the inn
who wished immediately to see him--a strange gentleman, who had never
been there before.

Mr. Price threw down his net, seized his hat, and, in less than five
minutes, he was in the best room of the little inn.

The person there awaiting him was a man who, though plainly clad in a
velveteen shooting-jacket, had an air and mien greatly above those common
to the pedestrian visitors of A----. He was tall, and of one of those
athletic forms in which vigour in youth is too often followed by
corpulence in age. At this period, however, in the full prime of
manhood--the ample chest and sinewy limbs, seen to full advantage in
their simple and manly dress--could not fail to excite that popular
admiration which is always given to strength in the one sex as to
delicacy in the other. The stranger was walking impatiently to and fro
the small apartment when Mr. Price entered; and then, turning to the
clergyman a countenance handsome and striking, but yet more prepossessing
from its expression of frankness than from the regularity of its
features,--he stopped short, held out his hand, and said, with a gay
laugh, as he glanced over the parson's threadbare and slovenly costume,
"My poor Caleb!--what a metamorphosis!--I should not have known you
again!"

"What! you! Is it possible, my dear fellow?--how glad I am to see you!
What on earth can bring you to such a place? No! not a soul would believe
me if I said I had seen you in this miserable hole."

"That is precisely the reason why I am here. Sit down, Caleb, and we'll
talk over matters as soon as our landlord has brought up the materials
for--"

"The milk-punch," interrupted Mr. Price, rubbing his hands.

"Ah, that will bring us back to old times, indeed!"

In a few minutes the punch was prepared, and after two or three
preparatory glasses, the stranger thus commenced: "My dear Caleb, I am in
want of your assistance, and above all of your secrecy."

"I promise you both beforehand. It will make me happy the rest of my life
to think I have served my patron--my benefactor--the only friend I
possess."

"Tush, man! don't talk of that: we shall do better for you one of these
days. But now to the point: I have come here to be married--married, old
boy! married!"

And the stranger threw himself back in his chair, and chuckled with the
glee of a schoolboy.

"Humph!" said the parson, gravely. "It is a serious thing to do, and a
very odd place to come to."

"I admit both propositions: this punch is superb. To proceed. You know
that my uncle's immense fortune is at his own disposal; if I disobliged
him, he would be capable of leaving all to my brother; I should disoblige
him irrevocably if he knew that I had married a tradesman's daughter; I
am going to marry a tradesman's daughter--a girl in a million! the
ceremony must be as secret as possible. And in this church, with you for
the priest, I do not see a chance of discovery."

"Do you marry by license?"

"No, my intended is not of age; and we keep the secret even from her
father. In this village you will mumble over the bans without one of your
congregation ever taking heed of the name. I shall stay here a month for
the purpose. She is in London, on a visit to a relation in the city. The
bans on her side will be published with equal privacy in a little church
near the Tower, where my name will be no less unknown than hers. Oh, I've
contrived it famously!"

"But, my dear fellow, consider what you risk."

"I have considered all, and I find every chance in my favour. The bride
will arrive here on the day of our wedding: my servant will be one
witness; some stupid old Welshman, as antediluvian as possible--I leave
it to you to select him--shall be the other. My servant I shall dispose
of, and the rest I can depend on."

"But--"

"I detest buts; if I had to make a language, I would not admit such a
word in it. And now, before I run on about Catherine, a subject quite
inexhaustible, tell me, my dear friend, something about yourself."

          .  .  .  .  .  .  .

Somewhat more than a month had elapsed since the arrival of the stranger
at the village inn. He had changed his quarters for the Parsonage--went
out but little, and then chiefly on foot excursions among the sequestered
hills in the neighbourhood. He was therefore but partially known by
sight, even in the village; and the visit of some old college friend to
the minister, though indeed it had never chanced before, was not, in
itself, so remarkable an event as to excite any particular observation.
The bans had been duly, and half audibly, hurried over, after the service
was concluded, and while the scanty congregation were dispersing down the
little aisle of the church,--when one morning a chaise and pair arrived
at the Parsonage. A servant out of livery leaped from the box. The
stranger opened the door of the chaise, and, uttering a joyous
exclamation, gave his arm to a lady, who, trembling and agitated, could
scarcely, even with that stalwart support, descend the steps. "Ah!" she
said, in a voice choked with tears, when they found themselves alone in
the little parlour,--"ah! if you knew how I have suffered!"

How is it that certain words, and those the homeliest, which the hand
writes and the eye reads as trite and commonplace expressions--when
spoken convey so much,--so many meanings complicated and refined? "Ah! if
you knew how I have suffered!"

When the lover heard these words, his gay countenance fell; he drew
back--his conscience smote him: in that complaint was the whole history
of a clandestine love, not for both the parties, but for the woman--the
painful secrecy--the remorseful deceit--the shame--the fear--the
sacrifice. She who uttered those words was scarcely sixteen. It is an
early age to leave Childhood behind for ever!

"My own love! you have suffered, indeed; but it is over now.

"Over! And what will they say of me--what will they think of me at home?
Over! Ah!"

"It is but for a short time; in the course of nature my uncle cannot live
long: all then will be explained. Our marriage once made public, all
connected with you will be proud to own you. You will have wealth,
station--a name among the first in the gentry of England. But, above all,
you will have the happiness to think that your forbearance for a time has
saved me, and, it may be, our children, sweet one!--from poverty and--"

"It is enough," interrupted the girl; and the expression of her
countenance became serene and elevated. "It is for you--for your sake. I
know what you hazard: how much I must owe you! Forgive me, this is the
last murmur you shall ever hear from these lips."

An hour after these words were spoken, the marriage ceremony was
concluded.

"Caleb," said the bridegroom, drawing the clergyman aside as they were
about to re-enter the house, "you will keep your promise, I know; and you
think I may depend implicitly upon the good faith of the witness you have
selected?"

"Upon his good faith?--no," said Caleb, smiling, "but upon his deafness,
his ignorance, and his age. My poor old clerk! He will have forgotten all
about it before this day three months. Now I have seen your lady, I no
longer wonder that you incur so great a risk. I never beheld so lovely a
countenance. You will be happy!" And the village priest sighed, and
thought of the coming winter and his own lonely hearth.

"My dear friend, you have only seen her beauty--it is her least charm.
Heaven knows how often I have made love; and this is the only woman I
have ever really loved. Caleb, there is an excellent living that adjoins
my uncle's house. The rector is old; when the house is mine, you will not
be long without the living. We shall be neighbours, Caleb, and then you
shall try and find a bride for yourself. Smith,"--and the bridegroom
turned to the servant who had accompanied his wife, and served as a
second witness to the marriage,--"tell the post-boy to put to the horses
immediately."

"Yes, Sir. May I speak a word with you?"

"Well, what?"

"Your uncle, sir, sent for me to come to him, the day before we left
town."

"Aha!--indeed!"

"And I could just pick up among his servants that he had some
suspicion--at least, that he had been making inquiries--and seemed very
cross, sir."

"You went to him?"

"No, Sir, I was afraid. He has such a way with him;--whenever his eye is
fixed on mine, I always feel as if it was impossible to tell a lie;
and--and--in short, I thought it was best not to go."

"You did right. Confound this fellow!" muttered the bridegroom, turning
away; "he is honest, and loves me: yet, if my uncle sees him, he is
clumsy enough to betray all. Well, I always meant to get him out of the
way--the sooner the better. Smith!"

"Yes, sir!"

"You have often said that you should like, if you had some capital, to
settle in Australia. Your father is an excellent farmer; you are above
the situation you hold with me; you are well educated, and have some
knowledge of agriculture; you can scarcely fail to make a fortune as a
settler; and if you are of the same mind still, why, look you, I have
just L1000. at my bankers: you shall have half, if you like to sail by
the first packet."

"Oh, sir, you are too generous."

"Nonsense--no thanks--I am more prudent than generous; for I agree with
you that it is all up with me if my uncle gets hold of you. I dread my
prying brother, too; in fact, the obligation is on my side; only stay
abroad till I am a rich man, and my marriage made public, and then you
may ask of me what you will. It's agreed, then; order the horses, we'll
go round by Liverpool, and learn about the vessels. By the way, my good
fellow, I hope you see nothing now of that good-for-nothing brother of
yours?"

"No, indeed, sir. It's a thousand pities he has turned out so ill; for he
was the cleverest of the family, and could always twist me round his
little finger."

"That's the very reason I mentioned him. If he learned our secret, he
would take it to an excellent market. Where is he?"

"Hiding, I suspect, sir."

"Well, we shall put the sea between you and him! So now all's safe."

Caleb stood by the porch of his house as the bride and bridegroom entered
their humble vehicle. Though then November, the day was exquisitely mild
and calm, the sky without a cloud, and even the leafless trees seemed to
smile beneath the cheerful sun. And the young bride wept no more; she was
with him she loved--she was his for ever. She forgot the rest. The
hope--the heart of sixteen--spoke brightly out through the blushes that
mantled over her fair cheeks. The bridegroom's frank and manly
countenance was radiant with joy. As he waved his hand to Caleb from the
window the post-boy cracked his whip, the servant settled himself on the
dickey, the horses started off in a brisk trot,--the clergyman was left
alone.

To be married is certainly an event in life; to marry other people is,
for a priest, a very ordinary occurrence; and yet, from that day, a great
change began to operate in the spirits and the habits of Caleb Price.
Have you ever, my gentle reader, buried yourself for some time quietly in
the lazy ease of a dull country-life? Have you ever become gradually
accustomed to its monotony, and inured to its solitude; and, just at the
time when you have half-forgotten the great world--that mare magnum that
frets and roars in the distance--have you ever received in your calm
retreat some visitor, full of the busy and excited life which you
imagined yourself contented to relinquish? If so, have you not perceived,
that, in proportion as his presence and communication either revived old
memories, or brought before you new pictures of "the bright tumult" of
that existence of which your guest made a part,--you began to compare him
curiously with yourself; you began to feel that what before was to rest
is now to rot; that your years are gliding from you unenjoyed and wasted;
that the contrast between the animal life of passionate civilisation and
the vegetable torpor of motionless seclusion is one that, if you are
still young, it tasks your philosophy to bear,--feeling all the while
that the torpor may be yours to your grave? And when your guest has left
you, when you are again alone, is the solitude the same as it was before?

Our poor Caleb had for years rooted his thoughts to his village. His
guest had been like the Bird in the Fairy Tale, settling upon the quiet
branches, and singing so loudly and so gladly of the enchanted skies
afar, that, when it flew away, the tree pined, nipped and withering in
the sober sun in which before it had basked contented. The guest was,
indeed, one of those men whose animal spirits exercise upon such as come
within their circle the influence and power usually ascribed only to
intellectual qualities. During the month he had sojourned with Caleb, he
had brought back to the poor parson all the gaiety of the brisk and noisy
novitiate that preceded the solemn vow and the dull retreat;--the social
parties, the merry suppers, the open-handed, open-hearted fellowship of
riotous, delightful, extravagant, thoughtless YOUTH. And Caleb was not a
bookman--not a scholar; he had no resources in himself, no occupation but
his indolent and ill-paid duties. The emotions, therefore, of the Active
Man were easily aroused within him. But if this comparison between his
past and present life rendered him restless and disturbed, how much more
deeply and lastingly was he affected by a contrast between his own future
and that of his friend! Not in those points where he could never hope
equality--wealth and station--the conventional distinctions to which,
after all, a man of ordinary sense must sooner or later reconcile
himself--but in that one respect wherein all, high and low, pretend to
the same rights--rights which a man of moderate warmth of feeling can
never willingly renounce--viz., a partner in a lot however obscure; a
kind face by a hearth, no matter how mean it be! And his happier friend,
like all men full of life, was full of himself--full of his love, of his
future, of the blessings of home, and wife, and children. Then, too, the
young bride seemed so fair, so confiding, and so tender; so formed to
grace the noblest or to cheer the humblest home! And both were so happy,
so all in all to each other, as they left that barren threshold! And the
priest felt all this, as, melancholy and envious, he turned from the door
in that November day, to find himself thoroughly alone. He now began
seriously to muse upon those fancied blessings which men wearied with
celibacy see springing, heavenward, behind the altar. A few weeks
afterwards a notable change was visible in the good man's exterior. He
became more careful of his dress, he shaved every morning, he purchased a
crop-eared Welsh cob; and it was soon known in the neighbourhood that the
only journey the cob was ever condemned to take was to the house of a
certain squire, who, amidst a family of all ages, boasted two very pretty
marriageable daughters. That was the second holy day-time of poor
Caleb--the love-romance of his life: it soon closed. On learning the
amount of the pastor's stipend the squire refused to receive his
addresses; and, shortly after, the girl to whom he had attached himself
made what the world calls a happy match: and perhaps it was one, for I
never heard that she regretted the forsaken lover. Probably Caleb was not
one of those whose place in a woman's heart is never to be supplied. The
lady married, the world went round as before, the brook danced as merrily
through the village, the poor worked on the week-days, and the urchins
gambolled round the gravestones on the Sabbath,--and the pastor's heart
was broken. He languished gradually and silently away. The villagers
observed that he had lost his old good-humoured smile; that he did not
stop every Saturday evening at the carrier's gate, to ask if there were
any news stirring in the town which the carrier weekly visited; that he
did not come to borrow the stray newspapers that now and then found their
way into the village; that, as he sauntered along the brookside, his
clothes hung loose on his limbs, and that he no longer "whistled as he
went;" alas, he was no longer "in want of thought!" By degrees, the walks
themselves were suspended; the parson was no longer visible: a stranger
performed his duties.

One day, it might be some three years and more after the fatal visit I
have commemorated--one very wild rough day in early March, the postman,
who made the round of the district, rang at the parson's bell. The single
female servant, her red hair loose on her neck, replied to the call.

"And how is the master?"

"Very bad;" and the girl wiped her eyes.

"He should leave you something handsome," remarked the postman, kindly,
as he pocketed the money for the letter.

The pastor was in bed--the boisterous wind rattled clown the chimney and
shook the ill-fitting casement in its rotting frame. The clothes he had
last worn were thrown carelessly about, unsmoothed, unbrushed; the scanty
articles of furniture were out of their proper places; slovenly
discomfort marked the death-chamber. And by the bedside stood a
neighbouring clergyman, a stout, rustic, homely, thoroughly Welsh priest,
who might have sat for the portrait of Parson Adams.

"Here's a letter for you," said the visitor.

"For me!" echoed Caleb, feebly. "Ah--well--is it not very dark, or are my
eyes failing?" The clergyman and the servant drew aside the curtains and
propped the sick man up: he read as follows, slowly, and with difficulty:

"DEAR, CALEB,--At last I can do something for you. A friend of mine has a
living in his gift just vacant, worth, I understand, from three to four
hundred a year: pleasant neighbourhood--small parish. And my friend keeps
the hounds!--just the thing for you. He is, however, a very particular
sort of person--wants a companion, and has a horror of anything
evangelical; wishes, therefore, to see you before he decides. If you can
meet me in London, some day next month, I'll present you to him, and I
have no doubt it will be settled. You must think it strange I never wrote
to you since we parted, but you know I never was a very good
correspondent; and as I had nothing to communicate advantageous to you I
thought it a sort of insult to enlarge on my own happiness, and so forth.
All I shall say on that score is, that I've sown my wild oats; and that
you may take my word for it, there's nothing that can make a man know how
large, the heart is, and how little the world, till he comes home
(perhaps after a hard day's hunting) and sees his own fireside, and hears
one dear welcome; and--oh, by the way, Caleb, if you could but see my
boy, the sturdiest little rogue! But enough of this. All that vexes me
is, that I've never yet been able to declare my marriage: my uncle,
however, suspects nothing: my wife bears up against all, like an angel as
she is; still, in case of any accident, it occurs to me, now I'm writing
to you, especially if you leave the place, that it may be as well to send
me an examined copy of the register. In those remote places registers are
often lost or mislaid; and it may be useful hereafter, when I proclaim
the marriage, to clear up all doubt as to the fact.

"Good-bye, old fellow,

"Yours most truly, &c., &c."


"It comes too late," sighed Caleb, heavily; and the letter fell from his
hands. There was a long pause. "Close the shutters," said the sick man,
at last; "I think I could sleep: and--and--pick up that letter."

With a trembling, but eager gripe, he seized the paper, as a miser would
seize the deeds of an estate on which he has a mortgage. He smoothed the
folds, looked complacently at the well-known hand, smiled--a ghastly
smile! and then placed the letter under his pillow, and sank down; they
left him alone. He did not wake for some hours, and that good clergyman,
poor as himself, was again at his post. The only friendships that are
really with us in the hour of need are those which are cemented by
equality of circumstance. In the depth of home, in the hour of
tribulation, by the bed of death, the rich and the poor are seldom found
side by side. Caleb was evidently much feebler; but his sense seemed
clearer than it had been, and the instincts of his native kindness were
the last that left him. "There is something he wants me do for him," he
muttered.

"Ah! I remember: Jones, will you send for the parish register? It is
somewhere in the vestry-room, I think--but nothing's kept properly.
Better go yourself--'tis important."

Mr. Jones nodded, and sallied forth. The register was not in the vestry;
the church-wardens knew nothing about it; the clerk--a new clerk, who was
also the sexton, and rather a wild fellow--had gone ten miles off to a
wedding: every place was searched; till, at last, the book was found,
amidst a heap of old magazines and dusty papers, in the parlour of Caleb
himself. By the time it was brought to him, the sufferer was fast
declining; with some difficulty his dim eye discovered the place where,
amidst the clumsy pothooks of the parishioners, the large clear hand of
the old friend, and the trembling characters of the bride, looked forth,
distinguished.

"Extract this for me, will you?" said Caleb. Mr. Jones obeyed.

"Now, just write above the extract:

"'Sir,--By Mr. Price's desire I send you the inclosed. He is too ill to
write himself. But he bids me say that he has never been quite the same
man since you left him; and that, if he should not get well again, still
your kind letter has made him easier in his mind."

Caleb stopped.

"Go on."

"That is all I have to say: sign your name, and put the address--here it
is. Ah, the letter," he muttered, "must not lie about! If anything
happens to me, it may get him into trouble."

And as Mr. Jones sealed his communication, Caleb feebly stretched his wan
hand, held the letter which had "come too late" over the flame of the
candle. As the blazing paper dropped on the carpetless floor, Mr. Jones
prudently set thereon the broad sole of his top-boot, and the maidservant
brushed the tinder into the grate.

"Ah, trample it out:--hurry it amongst the ashes. The last as the rest,"
said Caleb, hoarsely. "Friendship, fortune, hope, love, life--a little
flame, and then--and then--"

"Don't be uneasy--it's quite out!" said Mr. Jones. Caleb turned his face
to the wall. He lingered till the next day, when he passed insensibly
from sleep to death. As soon as the breath was out of his body, Mr. Jones
felt that his duty was discharged, that other duties called him home. He
promised to return to read the burial-service over the deceased, gave
some hasty orders about the plain funeral, and was turning from the room,
when he saw the letter he had written by Caleb's wish, still on the
table. "I pass the post-office--I'll put it in," said he to the weeping
servant; "and just give me that scrap of paper." So he wrote on the
scrap, "P. S. He died this morning at half-past twelve, without pain.--M.
J.;" and not taking the trouble to break the seal, thrust the final
bulletin into the folds of the letter, which he then carefully placed in
his vast pocket, and safely transferred to the post. And that was all
that the jovial and happy man, to whom the letter was addressed, ever
heard of the last days of his college friend.

The living, vacant by the death of Caleb Price, was not so valuable as to
plague the patron with many applications. It continued vacant nearly the
whole of the six months prescribed by law. And the desolate parsonage was
committed to the charge of one of the villagers, who had occasionally
assisted Caleb in the care of his little garden. The villager, his wife,
and half-a-dozen noisy, ragged children, took possession of the quiet
bachelor's abode. The furniture had been sold to pay the expenses of the
funeral, and a few trifling bills; and, save the kitchen and the two
attics, the empty house, uninhabited, was surrendered to the sportive
mischief of the idle urchins, who prowled about the silent chambers in
fear of the silence, and in ecstasy at the space. The bedroom in which
Caleb had died was, indeed, long held sacred by infantine superstition.
But one day the eldest boy having ventured across the threshold, two
cupboards, the doors standing ajar, attracted the child's curiosity. He
opened one, and his exclamation soon brought the rest of the children
round him. Have you ever, reader, when a boy, suddenly stumbled on that
El Dorado, called by the grown-up folks a lumber room? Lumber, indeed!
what Virtu double-locks in cabinets is the real lumber to the boy!
Lumber, reader! to thee it was a treasury! Now this cupboard had been the
lumber-room in Caleb's household. In an instant the whole troop had
thrown themselves on the motley contents. Stray joints of clumsy
fishing-rods; artificial baits; a pair of worn-out top-boots, in which
one of the urchins, whooping and shouting, buried himself up to the
middle; moth-eaten, stained, and ragged, the collegian's gown-relic of
the dead man's palmy time; a bag of carpenter's tools, chiefly broken; a
cricket-bat; an odd boxing-glove; a fencing-foil, snapped in the middle;
and, more than all, some half-finished attempts at rude toys: a boat, a
cart, a doll's house, in which the good-natured Caleb had busied himself
for the younger ones of that family in which he had found the fatal ideal
of his trite life. One by one were these lugged forth from their dusty
slumber-profane hands struggling for the first right of appropriation.
And now, revealed against the wall, glared upon the startled violators of
the sanctuary, with glassy eyes and horrent visage, a grim monster. They
huddled back one upon the other, pale and breathless, till the eldest,
seeing that the creature moved not, took heart, approached on
tip-toe-twice receded, and twice again advanced, and finally drew out,
daubed, painted, and tricked forth in the semblance of a griffin, a
gigantic kite.

The children, alas! were not old and wise enough to knew all the dormant
value of that imprisoned aeronaut, which had cost Caleb many a dull
evening's labour--the intended gift to the false one's favourite brother.
But they guessed that it was a thing or spirit appertaining of right to
them; and they resolved, after mature consultation, to impart the secret
of their discovery to an old wooden-legged villager, who had served in
the army, who was the idol of all the children of the place, and who,
they firmly believed, knew everything under the sun, except the mystical
arts of reading and writing. Accordingly, having seen that the coast was
clear--for they considered their parents (as the children of the
hard-working often do) the natural foes to amusement--they carried the
monster into an old outhouse, and ran to the veteran to beg him to come
up slyly and inspect its properties.

Three months after this memorable event, arrived the new pastor--a slim,
prim, orderly, and starch young man, framed by nature and trained by
practice to bear a great deal of solitude and starving. Two loving
couples had waited to be married till his Reverence should arrive. The
ceremony performed, where was the registry-book? The vestry was
searched-the church-wardens interrogated; the gay clerk, who, on the
demise of his deaf predecessor, had come into office a little before
Caleb's last illness, had a dim recollection of having taken the registry
up to Mr. Price at the time the vestry-room was whitewashed. The house
was searched-the cupboard, the mysterious cupboard, was explored. "Here
it is, sir!" cried the clerk; and he pounced upon a pale parchment
volume. The thin clergyman opened it, and recoiled in dismay--more than
three-fourths of the leaves had been torn out.

"It is the moths, sir," said the gardener's wife, who had not yet removed
from the house.

The clergyman looked round; one of the children was trembling. "What have
you done to this book, little one?"

"That book?--the--hi!--hi!--"

"Speak the truth, and you sha'n't be punished."

"I did not know it was any harm--hi!--hi!--"

"Well, and--"

"And old Ben helped us."

"Well?"

"And--and--and--hi!--hi!--The tail of the kite, sir!--"

"Where is the kite?"

Alas! the kite and its tail were long ago gone to that undiscovered limbo
where all things lost, broken, vanished, and destroyed; things that lose
themselves--for servants are too honest to steal; things that break
themselves--for servants are too careful to break; find an everlasting
and impenetrable refuge.

"It does not signify a pin's head," said the clerk; "the parish must find
a new 'un!"

"It is no fault of mine," said the Pastor. "Are my chops ready?"




CHAPTER II.

"And soothed with idle dreams the frowning fate."--CRABBE.

"Why does not my father come back? what a time he has been away!"

"My dear Philip, business detains him; but he will be here in a few
days--perhaps to-day!"

"I should like him to see how much I am improved."

"Improved in what, Philip?" said the mother, with a smile. "Not Latin, I
am sure; for I have not seen you open a book since you insisted on poor
Todd's dismissal."

"Todd! Oh, he was such a scrub, and spoke through his nose: what could he
know of Latin?"

"More than you ever will, I fear, unless--" and here there was a certain
hesitation in the mother's voice, "unless your father consents to your
going to school."

"Well, I should like to go to Eton! That's the only school for a
gentleman. I've heard my father say so."

"Philip, you are too proud."--"Proud! you often call me proud; but, then,
you kiss me when you do so. Kiss me now, mother."

The lady drew her son to her breast, put aside the clustering hair from
his forehead, and kissed him; but the kiss was sad, and the moment after
she pushed him away gently and muttered, unconscious that she was
overheard:

"If, after all, my devotion to the father should wrong the children!"

The boy started, and a cloud passed over his brow; but he said nothing. A
light step entered the room through the French casements that opened on
the lawn, and the mother turned to her youngest-born, and her eye
brightened.

"Mamma! mamma! here is a letter for you. I snatched it from John: it is
papa's handwriting."

The lady uttered a joyous exclamation, and seized the letter. The younger
child nestled himself on a stool at her feet, looking up while she read
it; the elder stood apart, leaning on his gun, and with something of
thought, even of gloom, upon his countenance.

There was a strong contrast in the two boys. The elder, who was about
fifteen, seemed older than he was, not only from his height, but from the
darkness of his complexion, and a certain proud, nay, imperious,
expression upon features that, without having the soft and fluent graces
of childhood, were yet regular and striking. His dark-green
shooting-dress, with the belt and pouch, the cap, with its gold tassel
set upon his luxuriant curls, which had the purple gloss of the raven's
plume, blended perhaps something prematurely manly in his own tastes,
with the love of the fantastic and the picturesque which bespeaks the
presiding genius of the proud mother. The younger son had scarcely told
his ninth year; and the soft, auburn ringlets, descending half-way down
the shoulders; the rich and delicate bloom that exhibits at once the
hardy health and the gentle fostering; the large deep-blue eyes; the
flexile and almost effeminate contour of the harmonious features;
altogether made such an ideal of childlike beauty as Lawrence had loved
to paint or Chantrey model. And the daintiest cares of a mother, who, as
yet, has her darling all to herself--her toy, her plaything--were visible
in the large falling collar of finest cambric, and the blue velvet dress
with its filigree buttons and embroidered sash.

Both the boys had about them the air of those whom Fate ushers blandly
into life; the air of wealth, and birth, and luxury, spoiled and pampered
as if earth had no thorn for their feet, and heaven not a wind to visit
their young cheeks too roughly. The mother had been extremely handsome;
and though the first bloom of youth was now gone, she had still the
beauty that might captivate new love--an easier task than to retain the
old. Both her sons, though differing from each other, resembled her; she
had the features of the younger; and probably any one who had seen her in
her own earlier youth would have recognized in that child's gay yet
gentle countenance the mirror of the mother when a girl. Now, however,
especially when silent or thoughtful, the expression of her face was
rather that of the elder boy;--the cheek, once so rosy was now pale,
though clear, with something which time had given, of pride and thought,
in the curved lip and the high forehead. One who could have looked on her
in her more lonely hours, might have seen that the pride had known shame,
and the thought was the shadow of the passions of fear and sorrow.

But now as she read those hasty, brief, but well-remembered
characters--read as one whose heart was in her eyes--joy and triumph
alone were visible in that eloquent countenance. Her eyes flashed, her
breast heaved; and at length, clasping the letter to her lips, she kissed
it again and again with passionate transport. Then, as her eyes met the
dark, inquiring, earnest gaze of her eldest born, she flung her arms
round him, and wept vehemently.

"What is the matter, mamma, dear mamma?" said the youngest, pushing
himself between Philip and his mother. "Your father is coming back, this
day--this very hour;--and you--you--child--you, Philip--" Here sobs broke
in upon her words, and left her speechless.

The letter that had produced this effect ran as follows:

TO MRS MORTON, Fernside Cottage.

"DEAREST KATE,--My last letter prepared you for the news I have now to
relate--my poor uncle is no more. Though I had seen little of him,
especially of late years, his death sensibly affected me; but I have at
least the consolation of thinking that there is nothing now to prevent my
doing justice to you. I am the sole heir to his fortune--I have it in my
power, dearest Kate, to offer you a tardy recompense for all you have put
up with for my sake;--a sacred testimony to your long forbearance, your
unreproachful love, your wrongs, and your devotion. Our children, too--my
noble Philip!--kiss them, Kate--kiss them for me a thousand times.

"I write in great haste--the burial is just over, and my letter will only
serve to announce my return. My darling Catherine, I shall be with you
almost as soon as these lines meet your eyes--those clear eyes, that, for
all the tears they have shed for my faults and follies, have never looked
the less kind. Yours, ever as ever,
"PHILIP BEAUFORT.

This letter has told its tale, and little remains to explain. Philip
Beaufort was one of those men of whom there are many in his peculiar
class of society--easy, thoughtless, good-humoured, generous, with
feelings infinitely better than his principles.

Inheriting himself but a moderate fortune, which was three parts in the
hands of the Jews before he was twenty-five, he had the most brilliant
expectations from his uncle; an old bachelor, who, from a courtier, had
turned a misanthrope--cold--shrewd--penetrating--worldly--sarcastic--and
imperious; and from this relation he received, meanwhile, a handsome and,
indeed, munificent allowance. About sixteen years before the date at
which this narrative opens, Philip Beaufort had "run off," as the saying
is, with Catherine Morton, then little more than a child,--a motherless
child--educated at a boarding-school to notions and desires far beyond
her station; for she was the daughter of a provincial tradesman. And
Philip Beaufort, in the prime of life, was possessed of most of the
qualities that dazzle the eyes and many of the arts that betray the
affections. It was suspected by some that they were privately married: if
so, the secret had been closely kept, and baffled all the inquiries of
the stern old uncle. Still there was much, not only in the manner, at
once modest and dignified, but in the character of Catherine, which was
proud and high-spirited, to give colour to the suspicion. Beaufort, a man
naturally careless of forms, paid her a marked and punctilious respect;
and his attachment was evidently one not only of passion, but of
confidence and esteem. Time developed in her mental qualities far
superior to those of Beaufort, and for these she had ample leisure of
cultivation. To the influence derived from her mind and person she added
that of a frank, affectionate, and winning disposition; their children
cemented the bond between them. Mr. Beaufort was passionately attached to
field sports. He lived the greater part of the year with Catherine, at
the beautiful cottage to which he had built hunting stables that were the
admiration of the county; and though the cottage was near London, the
pleasures of the metropolis seldom allured him for more than a few
days--generally but a few hours-at a time; and he--always hurried back
with renewed relish to what he considered his home.

Whatever the connection between Catherine and himself (and of the true
nature of that connection, the Introductory Chapter has made the reader
more enlightened than the world), her influence had, at least, weaned
from all excesses, and many follies, a man who, before he knew her, had
seemed likely, from the extreme joviality and carelessness of his nature,
and a very imperfect education, to contract whatever vices were most in
fashion as preservatives against ennui. And if their union had been
openly hallowed by the Church, Philip Beaufort had been universally
esteemed the model of a tender husband and a fond father. Ever, as he
became more and more acquainted with Catherine's natural good qualities,
and more and more attached to his home, had Mr. Beaufort, with the
generosity of true affection, desired to remove from her the pain of an
equivocal condition by a public marriage. But Mr. Beaufort, though
generous, was not free from the worldliness which had met him everywhere,
amidst the society in which his youth had been spent. His uncle, the head
of one of those families which yearly vanish from the commonalty into the
peerage, but which once formed a distinguished peculiarity in the
aristocracy of England--families of ancient birth, immense possessions,
at once noble and untitled--held his estates by no other tenure than his
own caprice. Though he professed to like Philip, yet he saw but little of
him. When the news of the illicit connection his nephew was reported to
have formed reached him, he at first resolved to break it off; but
observing that Philip no longer gambled, nor ran in debt, and had retired
from the turf to the safer and more economical pastimes of the field, he
contented himself with inquiries which satisfied him that Philip was not
married; and perhaps he thought it, on the whole, more prudent to wink at
an error that was not attended by the bills which had here-to-fore
characterised the human infirmities of his reckless nephew. He took care,
however, incidentally, and in reference to some scandal of the day, to
pronounce his opinion, not upon the fault, but upon the only mode of
repairing it.

"If ever," said he, and he looked grimly at Philip while he spoke, "a
gentleman were to disgrace his ancestry by introducing into his family
one whom his own sister could not receive at her house, why, he ought to
sink to her level, and wealth would but make his disgrace the more
notorious. If I had an only son, and that son were booby enough to do
anything so discreditable as to marry beneath him, I would rather have my
footman for my successor. You understand, Phil!"

Philip did understand, and looked round at the noble house and the
stately park, and his generosity was not equal to the trial.
Catherine--so great was her power over him--might, perhaps, have easily
triumphed over his more selfish calculations; but her love was too
delicate ever to breathe, of itself, the hope that lay deepest at her
heart. And her children!--ah! for them she pined, but for them she also
hoped. Before them was a long future, and she had all confidence in
Philip. Of late, there had been considerable doubts how far the elder
Beaufort would realise the expectations in which his nephew had been
reared. Philip's younger brother had been much with the old gentleman,
and appeared to be in high favour: this brother was a man in every
respect the opposite to Philip--sober, supple, decorous, ambitious, with
a face of smiles and a heart of ice.

But the old gentleman was taken dangerously ill, and Philip was summoned
to his bed of death. Robert, the younger brother, was there also, with
his wife (who he had married prudently) and his children (he had two, a
son and a daughter). Not a word did the uncle say as to the disposition
of his property till an hour before he died. And then, turning in his
bed, he looked first at one nephew, then at the other, and faltered out:

"Philip, you are a scapegrace, but a gentleman! Robert, you are a
careful, sober, plausible man; and it is a great pity you were not in
business; you would have made a fortune!--you won't inherit one, though
you think it: I have marked you, sir. Philip, beware of your brother. Now
let me see the parson."

The old man died; the will was read; and Philip succeeded to a rental of
L20,000. a-year; Robert, to a diamond ring, a gold repeater, L5,000. and
a curious collection of bottled snakes.




CHAPTER III.

   "Stay, delightful Dream;

   Let him within his pleasant garden walk;
   Give him her arm--of blessings let them talk."--CRABBE.


"There, Robert, there! now you can see the new stables. By Jove, they are
the completest thing in the three kingdoms!"

"Quite a pile! But is that the house? You lodge your horses more
magnificently than yourself."

"But is it not a beautiful cottage?--to be sure, it owes everything to
Catherine's taste. Dear Catherine!"

Mr. Robert Beaufort, for this colloquy took place between the brothers,
as their britska rapidly descended the hill, at the foot of which lay
Fernside Cottage and its miniature demesnes--Mr. Robert Beaufort pulled
his travelling cap over his brows, and his countenance fell, whether at
the name of Catherine, or the tone in which the name was uttered; and
there was a pause, broken by a third occupant of the britska, a youth of
about seventeen, who sat opposite the brothers.

"And who are those boys on the lawn, uncle?"

"Who are those boys?" It was a simple question, but it grated on the ear
of Mr. Robert Beaufort--it struck discord at his heart. "Who were those
boys?" as they ran across the sward, eager to welcome their father home;
the westering sun shining full on their joyous faces--their young forms
so lithe and so graceful--their merry laughter ringing in the still air.
"Those boys," thought Mr. Robert Beaufort, "the sons of shame, rob mine
of his inheritance." The elder brother turned round at his nephew's
question, and saw the expression on Robert's face. He bit his lip, and
answered, gravely:

"Arthur, they are my children."

"I did not know you were married," replied Arthur, bending forward to
take a better view of his cousins.

Mr. Robert Beaufort smiled bitterly, and Philip's brow grew crimson.

The carriage stopped at the little lodge. Philip opened the door, and
jumped to the ground; the brother and his son followed. A moment more,
and Philip was locked in Catherine's arms, her tears falling fast upon
his breast; his children plucking at his coat; and the younger one crying
in his shrill, impatient treble, "Papa! papa! you don't see Sidney,
papa!"

Mr. Robert Beaufort placed his hand on his son's shoulder, and arrested
his steps, as they contemplated the group before them.

"Arthur," said he, in a hollow whisper, "those children are our disgrace
and your supplanters; they are bastards! bastards! and they are to be his
heirs!"

Arthur made no answer, but the smile with which he had hitherto gazed on
his new relations vanished.

"Kate," said Mr. Beaufort, as he turned from Mrs. Morton, and lifted his
youngest-born in his arms, "this is my brother and his son: they are
welcome, are they not?"

Mr. Robert bowed low, and extended his hand, with stiff affability, to
Mrs. Morton, muttering something equally complimentary and inaudible.

The party proceeded towards the house. Philip and Arthur brought up the
rear.

"Do you shoot?" asked Arthur, observing the gun in his cousin's hand.

"Yes. I hope this season to bag as many head as my father: he is a famous
shot. But this is only a single barrel, and an old-fashioned sort of
detonator. My father must get me one of the new gulls. I can't afford it
myself."

"I should think not," said Arthur, smiling.

"Oh, as to that," resumed Philip, quickly, and with a heightened colour,
"I could have managed it very well if I had not given thirty guineas for
a brace of pointers the other day: they are the best dogs you ever saw."

"Thirty guineas!" echoed Arthur, looking with native surprise at the
speaker; "why, how old are you?"

"Just fifteen last birthday. Holla, John! John Green!" cried the young
gentleman in an imperious voice, to one of the gardeners, who was
crossing the lawn, "see that the nets are taken down to the lake
to-morrow, and that my tent is pitched properly, by the lime-trees, by
nine o'clock. I hope you will understand me this time: Heaven knows you
take a deal of telling before you understand anything!"

"Yes, Mr. Philip," said the man, bowing obsequiously; and then muttered,
as he went off, "Drat the nat'rel! He speaks to a poor man as if he
warn't flesh and blood."

"Does your father keep hunters?" asked Philip. No."

"Why?"

"Perhaps one reason may be, that he is not rich enough."

"Oh! that's a pity. Never mind, we'll mount you, whenever you like to pay
us a visit."

Young Arthur drew himself up, and his air, naturally frank and gentle,
became haughty and reserved. Philip gazed on him, and felt offended; he
scarce knew why, but from that moment he conceived a dislike to his
cousin.




CHAPTER IV.

   "For a man is helpless and vain, of a condition so exposed to
   calamity that a raisin is able to kill him; any trooper out of the
   Egyptian army--a fly can do it, when it goes on God's errand."
   --JEREMY TAYLOR On the Deceitfulness of the Heart.


The two brothers sat at their wine after dinner. Robert sipped claret,
the sturdy Philip quaffed his more generous port. Catherine and the boys
might be seen at a little distance, and by the light of a soft August
moon, among the shrubs and boseluets of the lawn.

Philip Beaufort was about five-and-forty, tall, robust, nay, of great
strength of frame and limb; with a countenance extremely winning, not
only from the comeliness of its features, but its frankness, manliness,
and good nature. His was the bronzed, rich complexion, the inclination
towards embonpoint, the athletic girth of chest, which denote redundant
health, and mirthful temper, and sanguine blood. Robert, who had lived
the life of cities, was a year younger than his brother; nearly as tall,
but pale, meagre, stooping, and with a careworn, anxious, hungry look,
which made the smile that hung upon his lips seem hollow and artificial.
His dress, though plain, was neat and studied; his manner, bland and
plausible; his voice, sweet and low: there was that about him which, if
it did not win liking, tended to excite respect--a certain decorum, a
nameless propriety of appearance and bearing, that approached a little to
formality: his every movement, slow and measured, was that of one who
paced in the circle that fences round the habits and usages of the world.

"Yes," said Philip, "I had always decided to take this step, whenever my
poor uncle's death should allow me to do so. You have seen Catherine, but
you do not know half her good qualities: she would grace any station;
and, besides, she nursed me so carefully last year, when I broke my
collar-bone in that cursed steeple-chase. Egad, I am getting too heavy
and growing too old for such schoolboy pranks."

"I have no doubt of Mrs. Morton's excellence, and I honour your motives;
still, when you talk of her gracing any station, you must not forget, my
dear brother, that she will be no more received as Mrs. Beaufort than she
is now as Mrs. Morton."

"But I tell you, Robert, that I am really married to her already; that
she would never have left her home but on that condition; that we were
married the very day we met after her flight."

Robert's thin lips broke into a slight sneer of incredulity. "My dear
brother, you do right to say this--any man in your situation would say
the same. But I know that my uncle took every pains to ascertain if the
report of a private marriage were true."

"And you helped him in the search. Eh, Bob?"

Bob slightly blushed. Philip went on.

"Ha, ha! to be sure you did; you knew that such a discovery would have
done for me in the old gentleman's good opinion. But I blinded you both,
ha, ha! The fact is, that we were married with the greatest privacy; that
even now, I own, it would be difficult for Catherine herself to establish
the fact, unless I wished it. I am ashamed to think that I have never
even told her where I keep the main proof of the marriage. I induced one
witness to leave the country, the other must be long since dead: my poor
friend, too, who officiated, is no more. Even the register, Bob, the
register itself, has been destroyed: and yet, notwithstanding, I will
prove the ceremony and clear up poor Catherine's fame; for I have the
attested copy of the register safe and sound. Catherine not married! why,
look at her, man!"

Mr. Robert Beaufort glanced at the window for a moment, but his
countenance was still that of one unconvinced. "Well, brother," said he,
dipping his fingers in the water-glass, "it is not for me to contradict
you. It is a very curious tale--parson dead--witnesses missing. But
still, as I said before, if you are resolved on a public marriage, you
are wise to insist that there has been a previous private one. Yet,
believe me, Philip," continued Robert, with solemn earnestness, "the
world--"

"Damn the world! What do I care for the world! We don't want to go to
routs and balls, and give dinners to fine people. I shall live much the
same as I have always done; only, I shall now keep the hounds--they are
very indifferently kept at present--and have a yacht; and engage the best
masters for the boys. Phil wants to go to Eton, but I know what Eton is:
poor fellow! his feelings might be hurt there, if others are as sceptical
as yourself. I suppose my old friends will not be less civil now I have
L20,000. a year. And as for the society of women, between you and me, I
don't care a rush for any woman but Catherine: poor Katty!"

"Well, you are the best judge of your own affairs: you don't misinterpret
my motives?"

"My dear Bob, no. I am quite sensible how kind it is in you--a man of
your starch habits and strict views, coming here to pay a mark of respect
to Kate (Mr. Robert turned uneasily in his chair)--even before you knew
of the private marriage, and I'm sure I don't blame you for never having
done it before. You did quite right to try your chance with my uncle."

Mr. Robert turned in his chair again, still more uneasily, and cleared
his voice as if to speak. But Philip tossed off his wine, and proceeded,
without heeding his brother,--

"And though the poor old man does not seem to have liked you the better
for consulting his scruples, yet we must make up for the partiality of
his will. Let me see--what with your wife's fortune, you muster L2000. a
year?"

"Only L1500., Philip, and Arthur's education is growing expensive. Next
year he goes to college. He is certainly very clever, and I have great
hopes--"

"That he will do Honour to us all--so have I. He is a noble young fellow:
and I think my Philip may find a great deal to learn from him,--Phil is a
sad idle dog; but with a devil of a spirit, and sharp as a needle. I wish
you could see him ride. Well, to return to Arthur. Don't trouble yourself
about his education--that shall be my care. He shall go to Christ
Church--a gentleman-commoner, of course--and when he is of age we'll get
him into parliament. Now for yourself, Bob. I shall sell the town-house
in Berkeley Square, and whatever it brings you shall have. Besides that,
I'll add L1500. a year to your L1000.--so that's said and done. Pshaw!
brothers should be brothers.--Let's come out and play with the boys!"

The two Beauforts stepped through the open casement into the lawn.

"You look pale, Bob--all you London fellows do. As for me, I feel as
strong as a horse: much better than when I was one of your gay dogs
straying loose about the town'. 'Gad, I have never had a moment's ill
health, except from a fall now and then. I feel as if I should live for
ever, and that's the reason why I could never make a will."

"Have you never, then, made your will?"

"Never as yet. Faith, till now, I had little enough to leave. But now
that all this great Beaufort property is at my own disposal, I must think
of Kate's jointure. By Jove! now I speak of it, I will ride
to----to-morrow, and consult the lawyer there both about the will and the
marriage. You will stay for the wedding?"

"Why, I must go into --shire to-morrow evening, to place Arthur with his
tutor. But I'll return for the wedding, if you particularly wish it: only
Mrs. Beaufort is a woman of very strict--"

"I--do particularly wish it," interrupted Philip, gravely; "for I desire,
for Catherine's sake, that you, my sole surviving relation, may not seem
to withhold your countenance from an act of justice to her. And as for
your wife, I fancy L1500. a year would reconcile her to my marrying out
of the Penitentiary."

Mr. Robert bowed his head, coughed huskily, and said, "I appreciate your
generous affection, Philip."

The next morning, while the elder parties were still over the
breakfast-table, the younger people were in the grounds it was a lovely
day, one of the last of the luxuriant August--and Arthur, as he looked
round, thought he had never seen a more beautiful place. It was, indeed,
just the spot to captivate a youthful and susceptible fancy. The village
of Fernside, though in one of the counties adjoining Middlesex, and as
near to London as the owner's passionate pursuits of the field would
permit, was yet as rural and sequestered as if a hundred miles distant
from the smoke of the huge city. Though the dwelling was called a
cottage, Philip had enlarged the original modest building into a villa of
some pretensions. On either side a graceful and well-proportioned portico
stretched verandahs, covered with roses and clematis; to the right
extended a range of costly conservatories, terminating in vistas of
trellis-work which formed those elegant alleys called rosaries, and
served to screen the more useful gardens from view. The lawn, smooth and
even, was studded with American plants and shrubs in flower, and bounded
on one side by a small lake, on the opposite bank of which limes and
cedars threw their shadows over the clear waves. On the other side a
light fence separated the grounds from a large paddock, in which three or
four hunters grazed in indolent enjoyment. It was one of those cottages
which bespeak the ease and luxury not often found in more ostentatious
mansions--an abode which, at sixteen, the visitor contemplates with vague
notions of poetry and love--which, at forty, he might think dull and
d---d expensive-which, at sixty, he would pronounce to be damp in winter,
and full of earwigs in the summer. Master Philip was leaning on his gun;
Master Sidney was chasing a peacock butterfly; Arthur was silently gazing
on the shining lake and the still foliage that drooped over its surface.
In the countenance of this young man there was something that excited a
certain interest. He was less handsome than Philip, but the expression of
his face was more prepossessing. There was something of pride in the
forehead; but of good nature, not unmixed with irresolution and weakness,
in the curves of the mouth. He was more delicate of frame than Philip;
and the colour of his complexion was not that of a robust constitution.
His movements were graceful and self-possessed, and he had his father's
sweetness of voice. "This is really beautiful!--I envy you, cousin
Philip."

"Has not your father got a country-house?"

"No: we live either in London or at some hot, crowded watering-place."

"Yes; this is very nice during the shooting and hunting season. But my
old nurse says we shall have a much finer place now. I liked this very
well till I saw Lord Belville's place. But it is very unpleasant not to
have the finest house in the county: aut Caesar aut nullus--that's my
motto. Ah! do you see that swallow? I'll bet you a guinea I hit it." "No,
poor thing! don't hurt it." But ere the remonstrance was uttered, the
bird lay quivering on the ground. "It is just September, and one must
keep one's hand in," said Philip, as he reloaded his gun.

To Arthur this action seemed a wanton cruelty; it was rather the wanton
recklessness which belongs to a wild boy accustomed to gratify the
impulse of the moment--the recklessness which is not cruelty in the boy,
but which prosperity may pamper into cruelty in the man. And scarce had
he reloaded his gun before the neigh of a young colt came from the
neighbouring paddock, and Philip bounded to the fence. "He calls me, poor
fellow; you shall see him feed from my hand. Run in for a piece of
bread--a large piece, Sidney." The boy and the animal seemed to
understand each other. "I see you don't like horses," he said to Arthur.
As for me, I love dogs, horses--every dumb creature."

"Except swallows." said Arthur, with a half smile, and a little surprised
at the inconsistency of the boast.

"Oh! that is short,--all fair: it is not to hurt the swallow--it is to
obtain skill," said Philip, colouring; and then, as if not quite easy
with his own definition, he turned away abruptly.

"This is dull work--suppose we fish. By Jove!" (he had caught his
father's expletive) "that blockhead has put the tent on the wrong side of
the lake, after all. Holla, you, sir!" and the unhappy gardener looked up
from his flower-beds; "what ails you? I have a great mind to tell my
father of you--you grow stupider every day. I told you to put the tent
under the lime-trees."

"We could not manage it, sir; the boughs were in the way."

"And why did you not cut the boughs, blockhead?"

"I did not dare do so, sir, without master's orders," said the man
doggedly.

"My orders are sufficient, I should think; so none of your impertinence,"
cried Philip, with a raised colour; and lifting his hand, in which he
held his ramrod, he shook it menacingly over the gardener's head,--"I've
a great mind to----"

"What's the matter, Philip?" cried the good-humoured voice of his father.
"Fie!"

"This fellow does not mind what I say, sir."

"I did not like to cut the boughs of the lime-trees without your orders,
sir," said the gardener.

"No, it would be a pity to cut them. You should consult me there, Master
Philip;" and the father shook him by the collar with a good-natured, and
affectionate, but rough sort of caress.

"Be quiet, father!" said the boy, petulantly and proudly; "or," he added,
in a lower voice, but one which showed emotion, "my cousin may think you
mean less kindly than you always do, sir."

The father was touched: "Go and cut the lime-boughs, John; and always do
as Mr. Philip tells you."

The mother was behind, and she sighed audibly. "Ah! dearest, I fear you
will spoil him."

"Is he not your son? and do we not owe him the more respect for having
hitherto allowed others to--"

He stopped, and the mother could say no more. And thus it was, that this
boy of powerful character and strong passions had, from motives the most
amiable, been pampered from the darling into the despot.

"And now, Kate, I will, as I told you last night, ride over to ---- and
fix the earliest day for our public marriage: I will ask the lawyer to
dine here, to talk about the proper steps for proving the private one."

"Will that be difficult" asked Catherine, with natural anxiety.

"No,--for if you remember, I had the precaution to get an examined copy
of the register; otherwise, I own to you, I should have been alarmed. I
don't know what has become of Smith. I heard some time since from his
father that he had left the colony; and (I never told you before--it
would have made you uneasy) once, a few years ago, when my uncle again
got it into his head that we might be married, I was afraid poor Caleb's
successor might, by chance, betray us. So I went over to A---- myself,
being near it when I was staying with Lord C----, in order to see how far
it might be necessary to secure the parson; and, only think! I found an
accident had happened to the register--so, as the clergyman could know
nothing, I kept my own counsel. How lucky I have the copy! No doubt the
lawyer will set all to rights; and, while I am making the settlements, I
may as well make my will. I have plenty for both boys, but the dark one
must be the heir. Does he not look born to be an eldest son?"

"Ah, Philip!"

"Pshaw! one don't die the sooner for making a will. Have I the air of a
man in a consumption?"--and the sturdy sportsman glanced complacently at
the strength and symmetry of his manly limbs. "Come, Phil, let's go to
the stables. Now, Robert, I will show you what is better worth seeing
than those miserable flower-beds." So saying, Mr. Beaufort led the way to
the courtyard at the back of the cottage. Catherine and Sidney remained
on the lawn; the rest followed the host. The grooms, of whom Beaufort was
the idol, hastened to show how well the horses had thriven in his
absence.

"Do see how Brown Bess has come on, sir! but, to be sure, Master Philip
keeps her in exercise. Ah, sir, he will be as good a rider as your
honour, one of these days."

"He ought to be a better, Tom; for I think he'll never have my weight to
carry. Well, saddle Brown Bess for Mr. Philip. What horse shall I take?
Ah! here's my old friend, Puppet!"

"I don't know what's come to Puppet, sir; he's off his feed, and turned
sulky. I tried him over the bar yesterday; but he was quite restive
like."

"The devil he was! So, so, old boy, you shall go over the six-barred gate
to-day, or we'll know why." And Mr. Beaufort patted the sleek neck of his
favourite hunter. "Put the saddle on him, Tom."

"Yes, your honour. I sometimes think he is hurt in the loins somehow--he
don't take to his leaps kindly, and he always tries to bite when we
bridles him. Be quiet, sir!"

"Only his airs," said Philip. "I did not know this, or I would have taken
him over the gate. Why did not you tell me, Tom?"

"Lord love you, sir! because you have such a spurret; and if anything had
come to you--"

"Quite right: you are not weight enough for Puppet, my boy; and he never
did like any one to back him but myself. What say you, brother, will you
ride with us?"

"No, I must go to ---- to-day with Arthur. I have engaged the post-horses
at two o'clock; but I shall be with you to-morrow or the day after. You
see his tutor expects him; and as he is backward in his mathematics, he
has no time to lose."

"Well, then, good-bye, nephew!" and Beaufort slipped a pocket-book into
the boy's hand. "Tush! whenever you want money, don't trouble your
father--write to me--we shall be always glad to see you; and you must
teach Philip to like his book a little better--eh, Phil?"

"No, father; I shall be rich enough to do without books," said Philip,
rather coarsely; but then observing the heightened colour of his cousin,
he went up to him, and with a generous impulse said, "Arthur, you admired
this gun; pray accept it. Nay, don't be shy--I can have as many as I like
for the asking: you're not so well off, you know."

The intention was kind, but the manner was so patronising that Arthur
felt offended. He put back the gun, and said, drily, "I shall have no
occasion for the gun, thank you."

If Arthur was offended by the offer, Philip was much more offended by the
refusal. "As you like; I hate pride," said he; and he gave the gun to the
groom as he vaulted into his saddle with the lightness of a young
Mercury. "Come, father!"

Mr. Beaufort had now mounted his favourite hunter--a large, powerful
horse well known for its prowess in the field. The rider trotted him once
or twice through the spacious yard.

"Nonsense, Tom: no more hurt in the loins than I am. Open that gate; we
will go across the paddock, and take the gate yonder--the old
six-bar--eh, Phil?"

"Capital!--to be sure!--"

The gate was opened--the grooms stood watchful to see the leap, and a
kindred curiosity arrested Robert Beaufort and his son.

How well they looked! those two horsemen; the ease, lightness, spirit of
the one, with the fine-limbed and fiery steed that literally "bounded
beneath him as a barb"--seemingly as gay, as ardent, and as haughty as
the boyrider. And the manly, and almost herculean form of the elder
Beaufort, which, from the buoyancy of its movements, and the supple grace
that belongs to the perfect mastership of any athletic art, possessed an
elegance and dignity, especially on horseback, which rarely accompanies
proportions equally sturdy and robust. There was indeed something
knightly and chivalrous in the bearing of the elder Beaufort--in his
handsome aquiline features, the erectness of his mien, the very wave of
his hand, as he spurred from the yard.

"What a fine-looking fellow my uncle is!" said Arthur, with involuntary
admiration.

"Ay, an excellent life--amazingly strong!" returned the pale father, with
a slight sigh.

"Philip," said Mr. Beaufort, as they cantered across the paddock, "I
think the gate is too much for you. I will just take Puppet over, and
then we will open it for you."

"Pooh, my dear father! you don't know how I'm improved!" And slackening
the rein, and touching the side of his horse, the young rider darted
forward and cleared the gate, which was of no common height, with an ease
that extorted a loud "bravo" from the proud father.

"Now, Puppet," said Mr. Beaufort, spurring his own horse. The animal
cantered towards the gate, and then suddenly turned round with an
impatient and angry snort. "For shame, Puppet!--for shame, old boy!" said
the sportsman, wheeling him again to the barrier. The horse shook his
head, as if in remonstrance; but the spur vigorously applied showed him
that his master would not listen to his mute reasonings. He bounded
forward--made at the gate--struck his hoofs against the top bar--fell
forward, and threw his rider head foremost on the road beyond. The horse
rose instantly--not so the master. The son dismounted, alarmed and
terrified. His father was speechless! and blood gushed from the mouth and
nostrils, as the head drooped heavily on the boy's breast. The bystanders
had witnessed the fall--they crowded to the spot--they took the fallen
man from the weak arms of the son--the head groom examined him with the
eye of one who had picked up science from his experience in such
casualties.

"Speak, brother!--where are you hurt?" exclaimed Robert Beaufort.

"He will never speak more!" said the groom, bursting into tears. "His
neck is broken!"

"Send for the nearest surgeon," cried Mr. Robert. "Good God! boy! don't
mount that devilish horse!"

But Arthur had already leaped on the unhappy steed, which had been the
cause of this appalling affliction. "Which way?"

"Straight on to ----, only two miles--every one knows Mr. Powis's house.
God bless you!" said the groom. Arthur vanished.

"Lift him carefully, and take him to the house," said Mr. Robert. "My
poor brother! my dear brother!"

He was interrupted by a cry, a single shrill, heartbreaking cry; and
Philip fell senseless to the ground.

No one heeded him at that hour--no one heeded the fatherless BASTARD.
"Gently, gently," said Mr. Robert, as he followed the servants and their
load. And he then muttered to himself, and his sallow cheek grew bright,
and his breath came short: "He has made no will--he never made a will."




CHAPTER V.

     "Constance. O boy, then where art thou?
        *  * * * What becomes of me"--King John.

It was three days after the death of Philip Beaufort--for the surgeon
arrived only to confirm the judgment of the groom: in the drawing-room of
the cottage, the windows closed, lay the body, in its coffin, the lid not
yet nailed down. There, prostrate on the floor, tearless, speechless, was
the miserable Catherine; poor Sidney, too young to comprehend all his
loss, sobbing at her side; while Philip apart, seated beside the coffin,
gazed abstractedly on that cold rigid face which had never known one
frown for his boyish follies.

In another room, that had been appropriated to the late owner, called his
study, sat Robert Beaufort. Everything in this room spoke of the
deceased. Partially separated from the rest of the house, it communicated
by a winding staircase with a chamber above, to which Philip had been
wont to betake himself whenever he returned late, and over-exhilarated,
from some rural feast crowning a hard day's hunt. Above a quaint,
old-fashioned bureau of Dutch workmanship (which Philip had picked up at
a sale in the earlier years of his marriage) was a portrait of Catherine
taken in the bloom of her youth. On a peg on the door that led to the
staircase, still hung his rough driving coat. The window commanded the
view of the paddock in which the worn-out hunter or the unbroken colt
grazed at will. Around the walls of the "study"--(a strange
misnomer!)--hung prints of celebrated fox-hunts and renowned
steeple-chases: guns, fishing-rods, and foxes' brushes, ranged with a
sportsman's neatness, supplied the place of books. On the mantelpiece lay
a cigar-case, a well-worn volume on the Veterinary Art, and the last
number of the Sporting Magazine. And in the room--thus witnessing of the
hardy, masculine, rural life, that had passed away--sallow, stooping,
town-worn, sat, I say, Robert Beaufort, the heir-at-law,--alone: for the
very day of the death he had remanded his son home with the letter that
announced to his wife the change in their fortunes, and directed her to
send his lawyer post-haste to the house of death. The bureau, and the
drawers, and the boxes which contained the papers of the deceased were
open; their contents had been ransacked; no certificate of the private
marriage, no hint of such an event; not a paper found to signify the last
wishes of the rich dead man.

He had died, and made no sign. Mr. Robert Beaufort's countenance was
still and composed.

A knock at the door was heard; the lawyer entered.

"Sir, the undertakers are here, and Mr. Greaves has ordered the bells to
be rung: at three o'clock he will read the service."

"I am obliged to you., Blackwell, for taking these melancholy offices on
yourself. My poor brother!--it is so sudden! But the funeral, you say,
ought to take place to-day?"

"The weather is so warm," said the lawyer, wiping his forehead. As he
spoke, the death-bell was heard.

There was a pause.

"It would have been a terrible shock to Mrs. Morton if she had been his
wife," observed Mr. Blackwell. "But I suppose persons of that kind have
very little feeling. I must say that it was fortunate for the family that
the event happened before Mr. Beaufort was wheedled into so improper a
marriage."

"It was fortunate, Blackwell. Have you ordered the post-horses? I shall
start immediately after the funeral."

"What is to be done with the cottage, sir?"

"You may advertise it for sale."

"And Mrs. Morton and the boys?" "Hum! we will consider. She was a
tradesman's daughter. I think I ought to provide for her suitably, eh?"

"It is more than the world could expect from you, sir; it is very
different from a wife."

"Oh, very!--very much so, indeed! Just ring for a lighted candle, we will
seal up these boxes. And--I think I could take a sandwich. Poor Philip!"

The funeral was over; the dead shovelled away. What a strange thing it
does seem, that that very form which we prized so charily, for which we
prayed the winds to be gentle, which we lapped from the cold in our arms,
from whose footstep we would have removed a stone, should be suddenly
thrust out of sight--an abomination that the earth must not look upon--a
despicable loathsomeness, to be concealed and to be forgotten! And this
same composition of bone and muscle that was yesterday so strong--which
men respected, and women loved, and children clung to--to-day so
lamentably powerless, unable to defend or protect those who lay nearest
to its heart; its riches wrested from it, its wishes spat upon, its
influence expiring with its last sigh! A breath from its lips making all
that mighty difference between what it was and what it is!

The post-horses were at the door as the funeral procession returned to
the house.

Mr. Robert Beaufort bowed slightly to Mrs. Morton, and said, with his
pocket-handkerchief still before his eyes:

"I will write to you in a few days, ma'am; you will find that I shall not
forget you. The cottage will be sold; but we sha'n't hurry you. Good-bye,
ma'am; good-bye, my boys;" and he patted his nephews on the head.

Philip winced aside, and scowled haughtily at his uncle, who muttered to
himself, "That boy will come to no good!" Little Sidney put his hand into
the rich man's, and looked up, pleadingly, into his face. "Can't you say
something pleasant to poor mamma, Uncle Robert?"

Mr. Beaufort hemmed huskily, and entered the britska--it had been his
brother's: the lawyer followed, and they drove away.

A week after the funeral, Philip stole from the house into the
conservatory, to gather some fruit for his mother; she had scarcely
touched food since Beaufort's death. She was worn to a shadow; her hair
had turned grey. Now she had at last found tears, and she wept
noiselessly but unceasingly.

The boy had plucked some grapes, and placed them carefully in his basket:
he was about to select a nectarine that seemed riper than the rest, when
his hand was roughly seized; and the gruff voice of John Green, the
gardener, exclaimed:

"What are you about, Master Philip? you must not touch them 'ere fruit!"

"How dare you, fellow!" cried the young gentleman, in a tone of equal
astonishment and, wrath.

"None of your airs, Master Philip! What I means is, that some great folks
are coming too look at the place tomorrow; and I won't have my show of
fruit spoiled by being pawed about by the like of you; so, that's plain,
Master Philip!"

The boy grew very pale, but remained silent. The gardener, delighted to
retaliate the insolence he had received, continued:

"You need not go for to look so spiteful, master; you are not the great
man you thought you were; you are nobody now, and so you will find ere
long. So, march out, if you please: I wants to lock up the glass."

As he spoke, he took the lad roughly by the arm; but Philip, the most
irascible of mortals, was strong for his years, and fearless as a young
lion. He caught up a watering-pot, which the gardener had deposited while
he expostulated with his late tyrant and struck the man across the face
with it so violently and so suddenly, that he fell back over the beds,
and the glass crackled and shivered under him. Philip did not wait for
the foe to recover his equilibrium; but, taking up his grapes, and
possessing himself quietly of the disputed nectarine, quitted the spot;
and the gardener did not think it prudent to pursue him. To boys, under
ordinary circumstances--boys who have buffeted their way through a
scolding nursery, a wrangling family, or a public school--there would
have been nothing in this squabble to dwell on the memory or vibrate on
the nerves, after the first burst of passion: but to Philip Beaufort it
was an era in life; it was the first insult he had ever received; it was
his initiation into that changed, rough, and terrible career, to which
the spoiled darling of vanity and love was henceforth condemned. His
pride and his self-esteem had incurred a fearful shock. He entered the
house, and a sickness came over him; his limbs trembled; he sat down in
the hall, and, placing the fruit beside him, covered his face with his
hands and wept. Those were not the tears of a boy, drawn from a shallow
source; they were the burning, agonising, reluctant tears, that men shed,
wrung from the heart as if it were its blood. He had never been sent to
school, lest he should meet with mortification. He had had various
tutors, trained to show, rather than to exact, respect; one succeeding
another, at his own whim and caprice. His natural quickness, and a very
strong, hard, inquisitive turn of mind, had enabled him, however, to pick
up more knowledge, though of a desultory and miscellaneous nature, than
boys of his age generally possess; and his roving, independent,
out-of-door existence had served to ripen his understanding. He had
certainly, in spite of every precaution, arrived at some, though not very
distinct, notion of his peculiar position; but none of its inconveniences
had visited him till that day. He began now to turn his eyes to the
future; and vague and dark forebodings--a consciousness of the shelter,
the protector, the station, he had lost in his father's death--crept
coldly, over him. While thus musing, a ring was heard at the bell; he
lifted his head; it was the postman with a letter. Philip hastily rose,
and, averting his face, on which the tears were not dried, took the
letter; and then, snatching up his little basket of fruit, repaired to
his mother's room.

The shutters were half closed on the bright day--oh, what a mockery is
there in the smile of the happy sun when it shines on the wretched! Mrs.
Morton sat, or rather crouched, in a distant corner; her streaming eyes
fixed on vacancy; listless, drooping; a very image of desolate woe; and
Sidney was weaving flower-chains at her feet.

"Mamma!--mother!" whispered Philip, as he threw his arms round her neck;
"look up! look up!-my heart breaks to see you. Do taste this fruit: you
will die too, if you go on thus; and what will become of us--of Sidney?"

Mrs. Morton did look up vaguely into his face, and strove to smile.

"See, too, I have brought you a letter; perhaps good news; shall I break
the seal?"

Mrs. Morton shook her head gently, and took the letter--alas! how
different from that one which Sidney had placed in her hands not two
short weeks since--it was Mr. Robert Beaufort's handwriting. She
shuddered, and laid it down. And then there suddenly, and for the first
time, flashed across her the sense of her strange position--the dread of
the future. What were her sons to be henceforth?

What herself? Whatever the sanctity of her marriage, the law might fail
her. At the disposition of Mr. Robert Beaufort the fate of three lives
might depend. She gasped for breath; again took up the letter; and
hurried over the contents: they ran thus:

"DEAR, MADAM,--Knowing that you must naturally be anxious as to the
future prospects of your children and yourself, left by my poor brother
destitute of all provision, I take the earliest opportunity which it
seems to me that propriety and decorum allow, to apprise you of my
intentions. I need not say that, properly speaking, you can have no kind
of claim upon the relations of my late brother; nor will I hurt your
feelings by those moral reflections which at this season of sorrow
cannot, I hope, fail involuntarily to force themselves upon you. Without
more than this mere allusion to your peculiar connection with my brother,
I may, however, be permitted to add that that connection tended very
materially to separate him from the legitimate branches of his family;
and in consulting with them as to a provision for you and your children,
I find that, besides scruples that are to be respected, some natural
degree of soreness exists upon their minds. Out of regard, however, to my
poor brother (though I saw very little of him of late years), I am
willing to waive those feelings which, as a father and a husband, you may
conceive that I share with the rest of my family. You will probably now
decide on living with some of your own relations; and that you may not be
entirely a burden to them, I beg to say that I shall allow you a hundred
a year; paid, if you prefer it, quarterly. You may also select such
articles of linen and plate as you require for your own use. With regard
to your sons, I have no objection to place them at a grammar-school, and,
at a proper age, to apprentice them to any trade suitable to their future
station, in the choice of which your own family can give you the best
advice. If they conduct themselves properly, they may always depend on my
protection. I do not wish to hurry your movements; but it will probably
be painful to you to remain longer than you can help in a place crowded
with unpleasant recollections; and as the cottage is to be sold--indeed,
my brother-in-law, Lord Lilburne, thinks it would suit him--you will be
liable to the interruption of strangers to see it; and your prolonged
residence at Fernside, you must be sensible, is rather an obstacle to the
sale. I beg to inclose you a draft for L100. to pay any present expenses;
and to request, when you are settled, to know where the first quarter
shall be paid.

"I shall write to Mr. Jackson (who, I think, is the bailiff) to detail my
instructions as to selling the crops, &c., and discharging the servants;
so that you may have no further trouble.
       "I am, Madam,
           "Your obedient Servant,
                "ROBERT BEAUFORT.
"Berkeley Square, September 12th, 18--."

The letter fell from Catherine's hands. Her grief was changed to
indignation and scorn.

"The insolent!" she exclaimed, with flashing eyes. "This to me!--to
me--the wife, the lawful wife of his brother! the wedded mother of his
brother's children!"

"Say that again, mother! again--again!" cried Philip, in a loud voice.
"His wife--wedded!"

"I swear it," said Catherine, solemnly. "I kept the secret for your
father's sake. Now for yours, the truth must be proclaimed."

"Thank God! thank God!" murmured Philip, in a quivering voice, throwing
his arms round his brother, "We have no brand on our names, Sidney."

At those accents, so full of suppressed joy and pride, the mother felt at
once all that her son had suspected and concealed. She felt that beneath
his haughty and wayward character there had lurked delicate and generous
forbearance for her; that from his equivocal position his very faults
might have arisen; and a pang of remorse for her long sacrifice of the
children to the father shot through her heart. It was followed by a fear,
an appalling fear, more painful than the remorse. The proofs that were to
clear herself and them! The words of her husband, that last awful
morning, rang in her ear. The minister dead; the witness absent; the
register lost! But the copy of that register!--the copy! might not that
suffice? She groaned, and closed her eyes as if to shut out the future:
then starting up, she hurried from the room, and went straight to
Beaufort's study. As she laid her hand on the latch of the door, she
trembled and drew back. But care for the living was stronger at that
moment than even anguish for the dead: she entered the apartment; she
passed with a firm step to the bureau. It was locked; Robert Beaufort's
seal upon the lock:--on every cupboard, every box, every drawer, the same
seal that spoke of rights more valued than her own. But Catherine was not
daunted: she turned and saw Philip by her side; she pointed to the bureau
in silence; the boy understood the appeal. He left the room, and returned
in a few moments with a chisel. The lock was broken: tremblingly and
eagerly Catherine ransacked the contents; opened paper after paper,
letter after letter, in vain: no certificate, no will, no memorial. Could
the brother have abstracted the fatal proof? A word sufficed to explain
to Philip what she sought for; and his search was more minute than hers.
Every possible receptacle for papers in that room, in the whole house,
was explored, and still the search was fruitless.

Three hours afterwards they were in the same room in which Philip had
brought Robert Beaufort's letter to his mother. Catherine was seated,
tearless, but deadly pale with heart-sickness and dismay.

"Mother," said Philip, "may I now read the letter?" Yes, boy; and decide
for us all. She paused, and examined his face as he read. He felt her eye
was upon him, and restrained his emotions as he proceeded. When he had
done, he lifted his dark gaze upon Catherine's watchful countenance.

"Mother, whether or not we obtain our rights, you will still refuse this
man's charity? I am young--a boy; but I am strong and active. I will work
for you day and night. I have it in me--I feel it; anything rather than
eating his bread."

"Philip! Philip! you are indeed my son; your father's son! And have you
no reproach for your mother, who so weakly, so criminally, concealed your
birthright, till, alas! discovery may be too late? Oh! reproach me,
reproach me! it will be kindness. No! do not kiss me! I cannot bear it.
Boy! boy! if as my heart tells me, we fail in proof, do you understand
what, in the world's eye, I am; what you are?"

"I do!" said Philip, firmly; and he fell on his knees at her feet."
Whatever others call you, you are a mother, and I your son. You are, in
the judgment of Heaven, my father's Wife, and I his Heir."

Catherine bowed her head, and with a gush of tears fell into his arms.
Sidney crept up to her, and forced his lips to her cold cheek. "Mamma!
what vexes you? Mamma, mamma!"

"Oh, Sidney! Sidney! How like his father! Look at him, Philip! Shall we
do right to refuse him even this pittance? Must he be a beggar too?"

"Never beggar," said Philip, with a pride that showed what hard lessons
he had yet to learn. "The lawful sons of a Beaufort were not born to beg
their bread!"




CHAPTER VI.

     "The storm above, and frozen world below.

     The olive bough
     Faded and cast upon the common wind,
     And earth a doveless ark."--LAMAN BLANCHARD.

Mr. Robert Beaufort was generally considered by the world a very worthy
man. He had never committed any excess--never gambled nor incurred
debt--nor fallen into the warm errors most common with his sex. He was a
good husband--a careful father--an agreeable neighbour--rather charitable
than otherwise, to the poor. He was honest and methodical in his
dealings, and had been known to behave handsomely in different relations
of life. Mr. Robert Beaufort, indeed, always meant to do what was
right--in the eyes of the world! He had no other rule of action but that
which the world supplied; his religion was decorum--his sense of honour
was regard to opinion. His heart was a dial to which the world was the
sun: when the great eye of the public fell on it, it answered every
purpose that a heart could answer; but when that eye was invisible, the
dial was mute--a piece of brass and nothing more.

It is just to Robert Beaufort to assure the reader that he wholly
disbelieved his brother's story of a private marriage. He considered that
tale, when heard for the first time, as the mere invention (and a shallow
one) of a man wishing to make the imprudent step he was about to take as
respectable as he could. The careless tone of his brother when speaking
upon the subject--his confession that of such a marriage there were no
distinct proofs, except a copy of a register (which copy Robert had not
found)--made his incredulity natural. He therefore deemed himself under
no obligation of delicacy or respect, to a woman through whose means he
had very nearly lost a noble succession--a woman who had not even borne
his brother's name--a woman whom nobody knew. Had Mrs. Morton been Mrs.
Beaufort, and the natural sons legitimate children, Robert Beaufort,
supposing their situation of relative power and dependence to have been
the same, would have behaved with careful and scrupulous generosity. The
world would have said, "Nothing can be handsomer than Mr. Robert
Beaufort's conduct!" Nay, if Mrs. Morton had been some divorced wife of
birth and connections, he would have made very different dispositions in
her favour: he would not have allowed the connections to call him shabby.
But here he felt that, all circumstances considered, the world, if it
spoke at all (which it would scarce think it worth while to do), would be
on his side. An artful woman--low-born, and, of course, low-bred--who
wanted to inveigle her rich and careless paramour into marriage; what
could be expected from the man she had sought to injure--the rightful
heir? Was it not very good in him to do anything for her, and, if he
provided for the children suitably to the original station of the mother,
did he not go to the very utmost of reasonable expectation? He certainly
thought in his conscience, such as it was, that he had acted well--not
extravagantly, not foolishly; but well. He was sure the world would say
so if it knew all: he was not bound to do anything. He was not,
therefore, prepared for Catherine's short, haughty, but temperate reply
to his letter: a reply which conveyed a decided refusal of his
offers--asserted positively her own marriage, and the claims of her
children--intimated legal proceedings--and was signed in the name of
Catherine Beaufort. Mr. Beaufort put the letter in his bureau, labelled,
"Impertinent answer from Mrs. Morton, Sept. 14," and was quite contented
to forget the existence of the writer, until his lawyer, Mr. Blackwell,
informed him that a suit had been instituted by Catherine.

Mr. Robert turned pale, but Blackwell composed him.

"Pooh, sir! you have nothing to fear. It is but an attempt to extort
money: the attorney is a low practitioner, accustomed to get up bad
cases: they can make nothing of it."

This was true: whatever the rights of the case, poor Catherine had no
proofs--no evidence--which could justify a respectable lawyer to advise
her proceeding to a suit. She named two witnesses of her marriage--one
dead, the other could not be heard of. She selected for the alleged place
in which the ceremony was performed a very remote village, in which it
appeared that the register had been destroyed. No attested copy thereof
was to be found, and Catherine was stunned on hearing that, even if
found, it was doubtful whether it could be received as evidence, unless
to corroborate actual personal testimony. It so happened that when
Philip, many years ago, had received a copy, he had not shown it to
Catherine, nor mentioned Mr. Jones's name as the copyist. In fact, then
only three years married to Catherine, his worldly caution had not yet
been conquered by confident experience of her generosity. As for the mere
moral evidence dependent on the publication of her bans in London, that
amounted to no proof whatever; nor, on inquiry at A----, did the Welsh
villagers remember anything further than that, some fifteen years ago, a
handsome gentleman had visited Mr. Price, and one or two rather thought
that Mr. Price had married him to a lady from London; evidence quite
inadmissible against the deadly, damning fact, that, for fifteen years,
Catherine had openly borne another name, and lived with Mr. Beaufort
ostensibly as his mistress. Her generosity in this destroyed her case.
Nevertheless, she found a low practitioner, who took her money and
neglected her cause; so her suit was heard and dismissed with contempt.
Henceforth, then, indeed, in the eyes of the law and the public,
Catherine was an impudent adventurer, and her sons were nameless
outcasts.

And now relieved from all fear, Mr. Robert Beaufort entered upon the full
enjoyment of his splendid fortune.

The house in Berkeley Square was furnished anew. Great dinners and gay
routs were given in the ensuing spring. Mr. and Mrs. Beaufort became
persons of considerable importance. The rich man had, even when poor,
been ambitious; his ambition now centred in his only son. Arthur had
always been considered a boy of talents and promise; to what might he not
now aspire? The term of his probation with the tutor was abridged, and
Arthur Beaufort was sent at once to Oxford.

Before he went to the university, during a short preparatory visit to his
father, Arthur spoke to him of the Mortons. "What has become of them,
sir? and what have you done for them?"

"Done for them!" said Mr. Beaufort, opening his eyes. "What should I do
for persons who have just been harassing me with the most unprincipled
litigation? My conduct to them has been too generous: that is, all things
considered. But when you are my age you will find there is very little
gratitude in the world, Arthur."

"Still, sir," said Arthur, with the good nature that belonged to him:
"still, my uncle was greatly attached to them; and the boys, at least,
are guiltless."

"Well, well!" replied Mr. Beaufort, a little impatiently; "I believe they
want for nothing: I fancy they are with the mother's relations. Whenever
they address me in a proper manner they shall not find me revengeful or
hardhearted; but, since we are on this topic," continued the father
smoothing his shirt-frill with a care that showed his decorum even in
trifles, "I hope you see the results of that kind of connection, and that
you will take warning by your poor uncle's example. And now let us change
the subject; it is not a very pleasant one, and, at your age, the less
your thoughts turn on such matters the better."

Arthur Beaufort, with the careless generosity of youth, that gauges other
men's conduct by its own sentiments, believed that his father, who had
never been niggardly to himself, had really acted as his words implied;
and, engrossed by the pursuits of the new and brilliant career opened,
whether to his pleasures or his studies, suffered the objects of his
inquiries to pass from his thoughts.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Morton, for by that name we must still call her, and her
children, were settled in a small lodging in a humble suburb; situated on
the high road between Fernside and the metropolis. She saved from her
hopeless law-suit, after the sale of her jewels and ornaments, a
sufficient sum to enable her, with economy, to live respectably for a
year or two at least, during which time she might arrange her plans for
the future. She reckoned, as a sure resource, upon the assistance of her
relations; but it was one to which she applied with natural shame and
reluctance. She had kept up a correspondence with her father during his
life. To him, she never revealed the secret of her marriage, though she
did not write like a person conscious of error. Perhaps, as she always
said to her son, she had made to her husband a solemn promise never to
divulge or even hint that secret until he himself should authorise its
disclosure. For neither he nor Catherine ever contemplated separation or
death. Alas! how all of us, when happy, sleep secure in the dark shadows,
which ought to warn us of the sorrows that are to come! Still Catherine's
father, a man of coarse mind and not rigid principles, did not take much
to heart that connection which he assumed to be illicit. She was provided
for, that was some comfort: doubtless Mr. Beaufort would act like a
gentleman, perhaps at last make her an honest woman and a lady.
Meanwhile, she had a fine house, and a fine carriage, and fine servants;
and so far from applying to him for money, was constantly sending him
little presents. But Catherine only saw, in his permission of her
correspondence, kind, forgiving, and trustful affection, and she loved
him tenderly: when he died, the link that bound her to her family was
broken. Her brother succeeded to the trade; a man of probity and honour,
but somewhat hard and unamiable. In the only letter she had received from
him--the one announcing her father's death--he told her plainly, and very
properly, that he could not countenance the life she led; that he had
children growing up--that all intercourse between them was at an end,
unless she left Mr. Beaufort; when, if she sincerely repented, he would
still prove her affectionate brother.

Though Catherine had at the time resented this letter as unfeeling--now,
humbled and sorrow-stricken, she recognised the propriety of principle
from which it emanated. Her brother was well off for his station--she
would explain to him her real situation--he would believe her story. She
would write to him, and beg him at least to give aid to her poor
children.

But this step she did not take till a considerable portion of her
pittance was consumed--till nearly three parts of a year since Beaufort's
death had expired--and till sundry warnings, not to be lightly heeded,
had made her forebode the probability of an early death for herself. From
the age of sixteen, when she had been placed by Mr. Beaufort at the head
of his household, she had been cradled, not in extravagance, but in an
easy luxury, which had not brought with it habits of economy and thrift.
She could grudge anything to herself, but to her children--his children,
whose every whim had been anticipated, she had not the heart to be
saving. She could have starved in a garret had she been alone; but she
could not see them wanting a comfort while she possessed a guinea.
Philip, to do him justice, evinced a consideration not to have been
expected from his early and arrogant recklessness. But Sidney, who could
expect consideration from such a child? What could he know of the change
of circumstances--of the value of money? Did he seem dejected, Catherine
would steal out and spend a week's income on the lapful of toys which she
brought home. Did he seem a shade more pale--did he complain of the
slightest ailment, a doctor must be sent for. Alas! her own ailments,
neglected and unheeded, were growing beyond the reach of medicine.
Anxious fearful--gnawed by regret for the past--the thought of famine in
the future--she daily fretted and wore herself away. She had cultivated
her mind during her secluded residence with Mr. Beaufort, but she had
learned none of the arts by which decayed gentlewomen keep the wolf from
the door; no little holiday accomplishments, which, in the day of need
turn to useful trade; no water-colour drawings, no paintings on velvet,
no fabrications of pretty gewgaws, no embroidery and fine needlework. She
was helpless--utterly helpless; if she had resigned herself to the
thought of service, she would not have had the physical strength for a
place of drudgery, and where could she have found the testimonials
necessary for a place of trust? A great change, at this time, was
apparent in Philip. Had he fallen, then, into kind hands, and under
guiding eyes, his passions and energies might have ripened into rare
qualities and great virtues. But perhaps as Goethe has somewhere said,
"Experience, after all, is the best teacher." He kept a constant guard on
his vehement temper--his wayward will; he would not have vexed his mother
for the world. But, strange to say (it was a great mystery in the woman's
heart), in proportion as he became more amiable, it seemed that his
mother loved him less. Perhaps she did not, in that change, recognise so
closely the darling of the old time; perhaps the very weaknesses and
importunities of Sidney, the hourly sacrifices the child entailed upon
her, endeared the younger son more to her from that natural sense of
dependence and protection which forms the great bond between mother and
child; perhaps too, as Philip had been one to inspire as much pride as
affection, so the pride faded away with the expectations that had fed it,
and carried off in its decay some of the affection that was intertwined
with it. However this be, Philip had formerly appeared the more spoiled
and favoured of the two: and now Sidney seemed all in all. Thus, beneath
the younger son's caressing gentleness, there grew up a certain regard
for self; it was latent, it took amiable colours; it had even a certain
charm and grace in so sweet a child, but selfishness it was not the less.
In this he differed from his brother. Philip was self-willed: Sidney
self-loving. A certain timidity of character, endearing perhaps to the
anxious heart of a mother, made this fault in the younger boy more likely
to take root. For, in bold natures, there is a lavish and uncalculating
recklessness which scorns self unconsciously and though there is a fear
which arises from a loving heart, and is but sympathy for others--the
fear which belongs to a timid character is but egotism--but, when
physical, the regard for one's own person: when moral, the anxiety for
one's own interests.

It was in a small room in a lodging-house in the suburb of H---- that
Mrs. Morton was seated by the window, nervously awaiting the knock of the
postman, who was expected to bring her brother's reply to her letter. It
was therefore between ten and eleven o'clock--a morning in the merry
month of June. It was hot and sultry, which is rare in an English June. A
flytrap, red, white, and yellow, suspended from the ceiling, swarmed with
flies; flies were on the ceiling, flies buzzed at the windows; the sofa
and chairs of horsehair seemed stuffed with flies. There was an air of
heated discomfort in the thick, solid moreen curtains, in the gaudy
paper, in the bright-staring carpet, in the very looking-glass over the
chimney-piece, where a strip of mirror lay imprisoned in an embrace of
frame covered with yellow muslin. We may talk of the dreariness of
winter; and winter, no doubt, is desolate: but what in the world is more
dreary to eyes inured to the verdure and bloom of Nature--,

     "The pomp of groves and garniture of fields,"

--than a close room in a suburban lodging-house; the sun piercing every
corner; nothing fresh, nothing cool, nothing fragrant to be seen, felt,
or inhaled; all dust, glare, noise, with a chandler's shop, perhaps, next
door? Sidney armed with a pair of scissors, was cutting the pictures out
of a story-book, which his mother had bought him the day before. Philip,
who, of late, had taken much to rambling about the streets--it may be, in
hopes of meeting one of those benevolent, eccentric, elderly gentlemen,
he had read of in old novels, who suddenly come to the relief of
distressed virtue; or, more probably, from the restlessness that belonged
to his adventurous temperament;--Philip had left the house since
breakfast.

"Oh! how hot this nasty room is!" exclaimed Sidney, abruptly, looking up
from his employment. "Sha'n't we ever go into the country, again, mamma?"

"Not at present, my love."

"I wish I could have my pony; why can't I have my pony, mamma?"

"Because,--because--the pony is sold, Sidney."

"Who sold it?"

"Your uncle."

"He is a very naughty man, my uncle: is he not? But can't I have another
pony? It would be so nice, this fine weather!"

"Ah! my dear, I wish I could afford it: but you shall have a ride this
week! Yes," continued the mother, as if reasoning with herself, in excuse
of the extravagance, "he does not look well: poor child! he must have
exercise."

"A ride!--oh! that is my own kind mamma!" exclaimed Sidney, clapping his
hands. "Not on a donkey, you know!--a pony. The man down the street,
there, lets ponies. I must have the white pony with the long tail. But, I
say, mamma, don't tell Philip, pray don't; he would be jealous."

"No, not jealous, my dear; why do you think so?"

"Because he is always angry when I ask you for anything. It is very
unkind in him, for I don't care if he has a pony, too,--only not the
white one."

Here the postman's knock, loud and sudden, started Mrs. Morton from her
seat.

She pressed her hands tightly to her heart, as if to still its beating,
and went tremulously to the door; thence to the stairs, to anticipate the
lumbering step of the slipshod maidservent.

"Give it me, Jane; give it me!"

"One shilling and eightpence--double charged--if you please, ma'am! Thank
you."

"Mamma, may I tell Jane to engage the pony?"

"Not now, my love; sit down; be quiet: I--I am not well."

Sidney, who was affectionate and obedient, crept back peaceably to the
window, and, after a short, impatient sigh, resumed the scissors and the
story-book. I do not apologise to the reader for the various letters I am
obliged to lay before him; for character often betrays itself more in
letters than in speech. Mr. Roger Morton's reply was couched in these
terms,--

"DEAR CATHERINE, I have received your letter of the 14th inst., and write
per return. I am very much grieved to hear of your afflictions; but,
whatever you say, I cannot think the late Mr. Beaufort acted like a
conscientious man, in forgetting to make his will, and leaving his little
ones destitute. It is all very well to talk of his intentions; but the
proof of the pudding is in the eating. And it is hard upon me, who have
a large family of my own, and get my livelihood by honest industry, to
have a rich gentleman's children to maintain. As for your story about
the private marriage, it may or not be. Perhaps you were taken in by
that worthless man, for a real marriage it could not be. And, as you
say, the law has decided that point; therefore, the less you say on the
matter the better. It all comes to the same thing. People are not bound
to believe what can't be proved. And even if what you say is true, you
are more to be blamed than pitied for holding your tongue so many years,
and discrediting an honest family, as ours has always been considered. I
am sure my wife would not have thought of such a thing for the finest
gentleman that ever wore shoe-leather. However, I don't want to hurt
your feelings; and I am sure I am ready to do whatever is right and
proper. You cannot expect that I should ask you to my house. My wife,
you know, is a very religious woman--what is called evangelical; but
that's neither here nor there: I deal with all people, churchmen and
dissenters--even Jews,--and don't trouble my head much about differences
in opinion. I dare say there are many ways to heaven; as I said, the
other day, to Mr. Thwaites, our member. But it is right to say my wife
will not hear of your coming here; and, indeed, it might do harm to my
business, for there are several elderly single gentlewomen, who buy
flannel for the poor at my shop, and they are very particular; as they
ought to be, indeed: for morals are very strict in this county, and
particularly in this town, where we certainly do pay very high
church-rates. Not that I grumble; for, though I am as liberal as any man,
I am
for an established church; as I ought to be, since the dean is my best
customer. With regard to yourself I inclose you L10., and you will let
me know when it is gone, and I will see what more I can do. You say you
are very poorly, which I am sorry to hear; but you must pluck up your
spirits, and take in plain work; and I really think you ought to apply to
Mr. Robert Beaufort. He bears a high character; and notwithstanding your
lawsuit, which I cannot approve of, I dare say he might allow you L40.
or L50. a-year, if you apply properly, which would be the right thing in
him. So much for you. As for the boys--poor, fatherless creatures!--it
is very hard that they should be so punished for no fault of their own;
and my wife, who, though strict, is a good-hearted woman, is ready and
willing to do what I wish about them. You say the eldest is near sixteen
and well come on in his studies. I can get him a very good thing in a
light genteel way. My wife's brother, Mr. Christopher Plaskwith, is a
bookseller and stationer with pretty practice, in R----. He is a clever
man, and has a newspaper, which he kindly sends me every week; and,
though it is not my county, it has some very sensible views and is often
noticed in the London papers, as 'our provincial contemporary.'--Mr.
Plaskwith owes me some money, which I advanced him when he set up the
paper; and he has several times most honestly offered to pay me, in
shares in the said paper. But, as the thing might break, and I don't
like concerns I don't understand, I have not taken advantage of his very
handsome proposals. Now, Plaskwith wrote me word, two days ago, that he
wanted a genteel, smart lad, as assistant and 'prentice, and offered to
take my eldest boy; but we can't spare him. I write to Christopher by
this post; and if your youth will run down on the top of the coach, and
inquire for Mr. Plaskwith--the fare is trifling--I have no doubt he will
be engaged at once. But you will say, 'There's the premium to consider!'
No such thing; Kit will set off the premium against his debt to me; so
you will have nothing to pay. 'Tis a very pretty business; and the lad's
education will get him on; so that's off your mind. As to the little
chap, I'll take him at once. You say he is a pretty boy; and a pretty
boy is always a help in a linendraper's shop. He shall share and share
with my own young folks; and Mrs. Morton will take care of his washing
and morals. I conclude--(this is Mrs. M's. suggestion)--that he has had
the measles, cowpock, and whooping-cough, which please let me know. If
he behave well, which, at his age, we can easily break him into, he is
settled for life. So now you have got rid of two mouths to feed, and
have nobody to think of but yourself, which must be a great comfort.
Don't forget to write to Mr. Beaufort; and if he don't do something for
you he's not the gentleman I take him for; but you are my own flesh and
blood, and sha'n't starve; for, though I don't think it right in a man in
business to encourage what's wrong, yet, when a person's down in the
world, I think an ounce of hell is better than a pound of preaching. My
wife thinks otherwise, and wants to send you some tracts; but every
body can't be as correct as some folks. However, as I said before,
that's neither here nor there. Let me know when your boy comes down, and
also about the measles, cowpock, and whooping-cough; also if all's right
with Mr. Plaskwith. So now I hope you will feel more comfortable; and
remain,
     "Dear Catherine,
          "Your forgiving and affectionate brother,
                "ROGER MORTON.
"High Street, N----, June 13."

"P.S.--Mrs. M. says that she will be a mother to your little boy, and
that you had better mend up all his linen before you send him."

As Catherine finished this epistle, she lifted her eyes and beheld
Philip. He had entered noiselessly, and he remained silent, leaning
against the wall, and watching the face of his mother, which crimsoned
with painful humiliation while she read. Philip was not now the trim and
dainty stripling first introduced to the reader. He had outgrown his
faded suit of funereal mourning; his long-neglected hair hung elf-like
and matted down his cheeks; there was a gloomy look in his bright dark
eyes. Poverty never betrays itself more than in the features and form of
Pride. It was evident that his spirit endured, rather than accommodated
itself to, his fallen state; and, notwithstanding his soiled and
threadbare garments, and a haggardness that ill becomes the years of
palmy youth, there was about his whole mien and person a wild and savage
grandeur more impressive than his former ruffling arrogance of manner.

"Well, mother," said he, with a strange mixture of sternness in his
countenance and pity in his voice; "well, mother, and what says your
brother?"

"You decided for us once before, decide again. But I need not ask you;
you would never--"

"I don't know," interrupted Philip, vaguely; "let me see what we are to
decide on."

Mrs. Morton was naturally a woman of high courage and spirit, but
sickness and grief had worn down both; and though Philip was but sixteen,
there is something in the very nature of woman--especially in
trouble--which makes her seek to lean on some other will than her own.
She gave Philip the letter, and went quietly to sit down by Sidney.

"Your brother means well," said Philip, when he had concluded the
epistle.

"Yes, but nothing is to be done; I cannot, cannot send poor Sidney
to--to--" and Mrs. Morton sobbed.

"No, my dear, dear mother, no; it would be terrible, indeed, to part you
and him. But this bookseller--Plaskwith--perhaps I shall be able to
support you both."

"Why, you do not think, Philip, of being an apprentice!--you, who have
been so brought up--you, who are so proud!"

"Mother, I would sweep the crossings for your sake I Mother, for your
sake I would go to my uncle Beaufort with my hat in my hand, for
halfpence. Mother, I am not proud--I would be honest, if I can--but when
I see you pining away, and so changed, the devil comes into me, and I
often shudder lest I should commit some crime--what, I don't know!"

"Come here, Philip--my own Philip--my son, my hope, my firstborn!"--and
the mother's heart gushed forth in all the fondness of early days. "Don't
speak so terribly, you frighten me!"

She threw her arms round his neck, and kissed him soothingly. He laid his
burning temples on her bosom, and nestled himself to her, as he had been
wont to do, after some stormy paroxysm of his passionate and wayward
infancy. So there they remained--their lips silent, their hearts speaking
to each other--each from each taking strange succour and holy
strength--till Philip rose, calm, and with a quiet smile, "Good-bye,
mother; I will go at once to Mr. Plaskwith."

"But you have no money for the coach-fare; here, Philip," and she placed
her purse in his hand, from which he reluctantly selected a few
shillings. "And mind, if the man is rude and you dislike him--mind, you
must not subject yourself to insolence and mortification."

"Oh, all will go well, don't fear," said Philip, cheerfully, and he left
the house.

Towards evening he had reached his destination. The shop was of goodly
exterior, with a private entrance; over the shop was written,
"Christopher Plaskwith, Bookseller and Stationer:" on the private door a
brass plate, inscribed with "R---- and ---- Mercury Office, Mr.
Plaskwith." Philip applied at the private entrance, and was shown by a
"neat-handed Phillis" into a small office-room. In a few minutes the door
opened, and the bookseller entered.

Mr. Christopher Plaskwith was a short, stout man, in drab-coloured
breeches, and gaiters to match; a black coat and waistcoat; he wore a
large watch-chain, with a prodigious bunch of seals, alternated by small
keys and old-fashioned mourning-rings. His complexion was pale and
sodden, and his hair short, dark, and sleek. The bookseller valued
himself on a likeness to Buonaparte; and affected a short, brusque,
peremptory manner, which he meant to be the indication of the vigorous
and decisive character of his prototype.

"So you are the young gentleman Mr. Roger Morton recommends?" Here Mr.
Plaskwith took out a huge pocketbook, slowly unclasped it, staring hard
at Philip, with what he designed for a piercing and penetrative survey.

"This is the letter--no! this is Sir Thomas Champerdown's order for fifty
copies of the last Mercury, containing his speech at the county meeting.
Your age, young man?--only sixteen?--look older;--that's not it--that's
not it--and this is it!--sit down. Yes, Mr. Roger Morton recommends you
--a relation--unfortunate circumstances--well educated--hum! Well, young
man, what have you to say for yourself?"

"Sir?"

"Can you cast accounts?--know bookkeeping?"

"I know something of algebra, sir."

"Algebra!--oh, what else?"

"French and Latin."

"Hum!--may be useful. Why do you wear your hair so long?--look at mine.
What's your name?"

"Philip Morton."

"Mr. Philip Morton, you have an intelligent countenance--I go a great
deal by countenances. You know the terms?--most favourable to you. No
premium--I settle that with Roger. I give board and bed--find your own
washing. Habits regular--'prenticeship only five years; when over, must
not set up in the same town. I will see to the indentures. When can you
come?"

"When you please, sir."

"Day after to-morrow, by six o'clock coach."

"But, sir," said Philip, "will there be no salary? something, ever so
small, that I could send to my another?"

"Salary, at sixteen?--board and bed-no premium! Salary, what for?
'Prentices have no salary!--you will have every comfort."

"Give me less comfort, that I may give my mother more;--a little money,
ever so little, and take it out of my board: I can do with one meal a
day, sir."

The bookseller was moved: he took a huge pinch of snuff out of his
waistcoat pocket, and mused a moment. He then said, as he re-examined
Philip:

"Well, young man, I'll tell you what we will do. You shall come here
first upon trial;--see if we like each other before we sign the
indentures; allow you, meanwhile, five shillings a week. If you show
talent, will see if I and Roger can settle about some little allowance.
That do, eh?"

"I thank you, sir, yes," said Philip, gratefully. "Agreed, then. Follow
me--present you to Mrs. P." Thus saying, Mr. Plaskwith returned the
letter to the pocket-book, and the pocket-book to the pocket; and,
putting his arms behind his coat tails, threw up his chin, and strode
through the passage into a small parlour, that locked upon a small
garden. Here, seated round the table, were a thin lady, with a squint
(Mrs. Plaskwith), two little girls, the Misses Plaskwith, also with
squints, and pinafores; a young man of three or four-and-twenty, in
nankeen trousers, a little the worse for washing, and a black velveteen
jacket and waistcoat. This young gentleman was very much freckled; wore
his hair, which was dark and wiry, up at one side, down at the other; had
a short thick nose; full lips; and, when close to him, smelt of cigars.
Such was Mr. Plimmins, Mr. Plaskwith's factotum, foreman in the shop,
assistant editor to the Mercury. Mr. Plaskwith formally went the round of
the introduction; Mrs. P. nodded her head; the Misses P. nudged each
other, and grinned; Mr. Plimmins passed his hand through his hair,
glanced at the glass, and bowed very politely.

"Now, Mrs. P., my second cup, and give Mr. Morton his dish of tea. Must
be tired, sir--hot day. Jemima, ring--no, go to the stairs and call out
'more buttered toast.' That's the shorter way--promptitude is my rule in
life, Mr. Morton. Pray-hum, hum--have you ever, by chance, studied the
biography of the great Napoleon Buonaparte?"

Mr. Plimmins gulped down his tea, and kicked Philip under the table.
Philip looked fiercely at the foreman, and replied, sullenly, "No, sir."

"That's a pity. Napoleon Buonaparte was a very great man,--very! You have
seen his cast?--there it is, on the dumb waiter! Look at it! see a
likeness, eh?"

"Likeness, sir? I never saw Napoleon Buonaparte."

"Never saw him! No, just look round the room. Who does that bust put you
in mind of? who does it resemble?"

Here Mr. Plaskwith rose, and placed himself in an attitude; his hand in
his waistcoat, and his face pensively inclined towards the tea-table.
"Now fancy me at St. Helena; this table is the ocean. Now, then, who is
that cast like, Mr. Philip Morton?"

"I suppose, sir, it is like you!"

"Ah, that it is! strikes every one! Does it not, Mrs. P., does it not?
And when you have known me longer, you will find a moral similitude--a
moral, sir! Straightforward--short--to the point--bold--determined!"

"Bless me, Mr. P.!" said Mrs. Plaskwith, very querulously, "do make haste
with your tea; the young gentleman, I suppose, wants to go home, and the
coach passes in a quarter of an hour."

"Have you seen Kean in Richard the Third, Mr. Morton?" asked Mr.
Plimmins.

"I have never seen a play."

"Never seen a play! How very odd!"

"Not at all odd, Mr. Plimmins," said the stationer. "Mr. Morton has known
troubles--so hand him the hot toast."

Silent and morose, but rather disdainful than sad, Philip listened to the
babble round him, and observed the ungenial characters with which he was
to associate. He cared not to please (that, alas! had never been
especially his study); it was enough for him if he could see, stretching
to his mind's eye beyond the walls of that dull room, the long vistas
into fairer fortune. At sixteen, what sorrow can freeze the Hope, or what
prophetic fear whisper, "Fool!" to the Ambition? He would bear back into
ease and prosperity, if not into affluence and station, the dear ones
left at home. From the eminence of five shillings a week, he looked over
the Promised Land.

At length, Mr. Plaskwith, pulling out his watch, said, "Just in time to
catch the coach; make your bow and be off-smart's the word!" Philip rose,
took up his hat, made a stiff bow that included the whole group, and
vanished with his host.

Mrs. Plaskwith breathed more easily when he was gone. "I never seed a
more odd, fierce, ill-bred-looking young man! I declare I am quite afraid
of him. What an eye he has!"

"Uncommonly dark; what I may say gipsy-like," said Mr. Plimmins.

"He! he! You always do say such good things, Plimmins. Gipsy-like, he!
he! So he is! I wonder if he can tell fortunes?"

"He'll be long before he has a fortune of his own to tell. Ha! ha!" said
Plimmins.

"He! he! how very good! you are so pleasant, Plimmins."

While these strictures on his appearance were still going on, Philip had
already ascended the roof of the coach; and, waving his hand, with the
condescension of old times, to his future master, was carried away by the
"Express" in a whirlwind of dust.

"A very warm evening, sir," said a passenger seated at his right;
puffing, while he spoke, from a short German pipe, a volume of smoke in
Philip's face.

"Very warm. Be so good as to smoke into the face of the gentleman on the
other side of you," returned Philip, petulantly.

"Ho, ho!" replied the passenger, with a loud, powerful laugh-the laugh of
a strong man. "You don't take to the pipe yet; you will by and by, when
you have known the cares and anxieties that I have gone through. A
pipe!--it is a great soother!--a pleasant comforter! Blue devils fly
before its honest breath! It ripens the brain--it opens the heart; and
the man who smokes thinks like a sage and acts like a Samaritan!"

Roused from his reverie by this quaint and unexpected declamation, Philip
turned his quick glance at his neighbour. He saw a man of great bulk and
immense physical power--broad-shouldered--deep-chested--not corpulent,
but taking the same girth from bone and muscle that a corpulent man does
from flesh. He wore a blue coat--frogged, braided, and buttoned to the
throat. A broad-brimmed straw hat, set on one side, gave a jaunty
appearance to a countenance which, notwithstanding its jovial complexion
and smiling mouth, had, in repose, a bold and decided character. It was a
face well suited to the frame, inasmuch as it betokened a mind capable of
wielding and mastering the brute physical force of body;--light eyes of
piercing intelligence; rough, but resolute and striking features, and a
jaw of iron. There was thought, there was power, there was passion in the
shaggy brow, the deep-ploughed lines, the dilated, nostril and the
restless play of the lips. Philip looked hard and grave, and the man
returned his look.

"What do you think of me, young gentleman?" asked the passenger, as he
replaced the pipe in his mouth. "I am a fine-looking man, am I not?"

"You seem a strange one."

"Strange!--Ay, I puzzle you, as I have done, and shall do, many. You
cannot read me as easily as I can read you. Come, shall I guess at your
character and circumstances? You are a gentleman, or something like it,
by birth;--that the tone of your voice tells me. You are poor, devilish
poor;--that the hole in your coat assures me. You are proud, fiery,
discontented, and unhappy;--all that I see in your face. It was because I
saw those signs that I spoke to you. I volunteer no acquaintance with the
happy."

"I dare say not; for if you know all the unhappy you must have a
sufficiently large acquaintance," returned Philip.

"Your wit is beyond your years! What is your calling, if the question
does not offend you?"

"I have none as yet," said Philip, with a slight sigh, and a deep blush.

"More's the pity!" grunted the smoker, with a long emphatic nasal
intonation. "I should have judged that you were a raw recruit in the camp
of the enemy."

"Enemy! I don't understand you."

"In other words, a plant growing out of a lawyer's desk. I will explain.
There is one class of spiders, industrious, hard-working octopedes, who,
out of the sweat of their brains (I take it, by the by, that a spider
must have a fine craniological development), make their own webs and
catch their flies. There is another class of spiders who have no stuff in
them wherewith to make webs; they, therefore, wander about, looking out
for food provided by the toil of their neighbours. Whenever they come to
the web of a smaller spider, whose larder seems well supplied, they rush
upon his domain--pursue him to his hole--eat him up if they can--reject
him if he is too tough for their maws, and quietly possess themselves of
all the legs and wings they find dangling in his meshes: these spiders I
call enemies--the world calls them lawyers!"

Philip laughed: "And who are the first class of spiders?"

"Honest creatures who openly confess that they live upon flies. Lawyers
fall foul upon them, under pretence of delivering flies from their
clutches. They are wonderful blood-suckers, these lawyers, in spite of
all their hypocrisy. Ha! ha! ho! ho!"

And with a loud, rough chuckle, more expressive of malignity than mirth,
the man turned himself round, applied vigorously to his pipe, and sank
into a silence which, as mile after mile glided past the wheels, he did
not seem disposed to break. Neither was Philip inclined to be
communicative. Considerations for his own state and prospects swallowed
up the curiosity he might otherwise have felt as to his singular
neighbour. He had not touched food since the early morning. Anxiety had
made him insensible to hunger, till he arrived at Mr. Plaskwith's; and
then, feverish, sore, and sick at heart, the sight of the luxuries
gracing the tea-table only revolted him. He did not now feel hunger, but
he was fatigued and faint. For several nights the sleep which youth can
so ill dispense with had been broken and disturbed; and now, the rapid
motion of the coach, and the free current of a fresher and more
exhausting air than he had been accustomed to for many months, began to
operate on his nerves like the intoxication of a narcotic. His eyes grew
heavy; indistinct mists, through which there seemed to glare the various
squints of the female Plaskwiths, succeeded the gliding road and the
dancing trees. His head fell on his bosom; and thence, instinctively
seeking the strongest support at hand, inclined towards the stout smoker,
and finally nestled itself composedly on that gentleman's shoulder. The
passenger, feeling this unwelcome and unsolicited weight, took the pipe,
which he had already thrice refilled, from his lips, and emitted an angry
and impatient snort; finding that this produced no effect, and that the
load grew heavier as the boy's sleep grew deeper, he cried, in a loud
voice, "Holla! I did not pay my fare to be your bolster, young man!" and
shook himself lustily. Philip started, and would have fallen sidelong
from the coach, if his neighbour had not griped him hard with a hand that
could have kept a young oak from falling.

"Rouse yourself!--you might have had an ugly tumble." Philip muttered
something inaudible, between sleeping and waking, and turned his dark
eyes towards the man; in that glance there was so much unconscious, but
sad and deep reproach, that the passenger felt touched and ashamed.
Before however, he could say anything in apology or conciliation, Philip
had again fallen asleep. But this time, as if he had felt and resented
the rebuff he had received, he inclined his head away from his neighbour,
against the edge of a box on the roof--a dangerous pillow, from which any
sudden jolt might transfer him to the road below.

"Poor lad!--he looks pale!" muttered the man, and he knocked the weed
from his pipe, which he placed gently in his pocket. "Perhaps the smoke
was too much for him--he seems ill and thin," and he took the boy's long
lean fingers in his own. "His cheek is hollow!--what do I know but it may
be with fasting? Pooh! I was a brute. Hush, coachee, hush! don't talk so
loud, and be d---d to you--he will certainly be off!" and the man softly
and creepingly encircled the boy's waist with his huge arm.

"Now, then, to shift his head; so-so,--that's right." Philip's sallow
cheek and long hair were now tenderly lapped on the soliloquist's bosom.
"Poor wretch! he smiles; perhaps he is thinking of home, and the
butterflies he ran after when he was an urchin--they never come back,
those days;--never--never--never! I think the wind veers to the east; he
may catch cold;"--and with that, the man, sliding the head for a moment,
and with the tenderness of a woman, from his breast to his shoulder,
unbuttoned his coat (as he replaced the weight, no longer unwelcomed, in
its former part), and drew the lappets closely round the slender frame of
the sleeper, exposing his own sturdy breast--for he wore no waistcoat--to
the sharpening air. Thus cradled on that stranger's bosom, wrapped from
the present and dreaming perhaps--while a heart scorched by fierce and
terrible struggles with life and sin made his pillow--of a fair and
unsullied future, slept the fatherless and friendless boy.




CHAPTER VII.

   "Constance. My life, my joy, my food, my all the world,
   My widow-comfort."--King John.

Amidst the glare of lamps--the rattle of carriages--the lumbering of
carts and waggons--the throng, the clamour, the reeking life and
dissonant roar of London, Philip woke from his happy sleep. He woke
uncertain and confused, and saw strange eyes bent on him kindly and
watchfully.

"You have slept well, my lad!" said the passenger, in the deep ringing
voice which made itself heard above all the noises around.

"And you have suffered me to incommode you thus!" said Philip, with more
gratitude in his voice and look than, perhaps, he had shown to any one
out of his own family since his birth.

"You have had but little kindness shown you, my poor boy, if you think so
much of this."

"No--all people were very kind to me once. I did not value it then." Here
the coach rolled heavily down the dark arch of the inn-yard.

"Take care of yourself, my boy! You look ill;" and in the dark the man
slipped a sovereign into Philip's hand.

"I don't want money. Though I thank you heartily all the same; it would
be a shame at my age to be a beggar. But can you think of an employment
where I can make something?--what they offer me is so trifling. I have a
mother and a brother--a mere child, sir--at home."

"Employment!" repeated the man; and as the coach now stopped at the
tavern door, the light of the lamp fell full on his marked face. "Ay, I
know of employment; but you should apply to some one else to obtain it
for you! As for me, it is not likely that we shall meet again!"

"I am sorry for that!--What and who are you?" asked Philip, with a rude
and blunt curiosity.

"Me!" returned the passenger, with his deep laugh. "Oh! I know some
people who call me an honest fellow. Take the employment offered you, no
matter how trifling the wages--keep out of harm's way. Good night to
you!"

So saying, he quickly descended from the roof, and, as he was directing
the coachman where to look for his carpetbag, Philip saw three or four
well-dressed men make up to him, shake him heartily by the hand, and
welcome him with great seeming cordiality.

Philip sighed. "He has friends," he muttered to himself; and, paying his
fare, he turned from the bustling yard, and took his solitary way home.

A week after his visit to R----, Philip was settled on his probation at
Mr. Plaskwith's, and Mrs. Morton's health was so decidedly worse, that
she resolved to know her fate, and consult a physician. The oracle was at
first ambiguous in its response. But when Mrs. Morton said firmly, "I
have duties to perform; upon your candid answer rest my Plans with
respect to my children--left, if I die suddenly, destitute in the
world,"--the doctor looked hard in her face, saw its calm resolution, and
replied frankly:

"Lose no time, then, in arranging your plans; life is uncertain with
all--with you, especially; you may live some time yet, but your
constitution is much shaken--I fear there is water on the chest. No,
ma'am-no fee. I will see you again."

The physician turned to Sidney, who played with his watch-chain, and
smiled up in his face.

"And that child, sir?" said the mother, wistfully, forgetting the dread
fiat pronounced against herself,--"he is so delicate!"

"Not at all, ma'am,--a very fine little fellow;" and the doctor patted
the boy's head, and abruptly vanished.

"Ah! mamma, I wish you would ride--I wish you would take the white pony!"

"Poor boy! poor boy!" muttered the mother; "I must not be selfish." She
covered her face with her hands, and began to think!

Could she, thus doomed, resolve on declining her brother's offer? Did it
not, at least, secure bread and shelter to her child? When she was dead,
might not a tie, between the uncle and nephew, be snapped asunder? Would
he be as kind to the boy as now when she could commend him with her own
lips to his care--when she could place that precious charge into his
hands? With these thoughts, she formed one of those resolutions which
have all the strength of self-sacrificing love. She would put the boy
from her, her last solace and comfort; she would die alone,--alone!




CHAPTER VIII.

   "Constance. When I shall meet him in the court of heaven, I shall
   not know him."--King John.

One evening, the shop closed and the business done, Mr. Roger Morton and
his family sat in that snug and comfortable retreat which generally backs
the warerooms of an English tradesman. Happy often, and indeed happy, is
that little sanctuary, near to, and yet remote from, the toil and care of
the busy mart from which its homely ease and peaceful security are drawn.
Glance down those rows of silenced shops in a town at night, and picture
the glad and quiet groups gathered within, over that nightly and social
meal which custom has banished from the more indolent tribes who neither
toil nor spin. Placed between the two extremes of life, the tradesman,
who ventures not beyond his means, and sees clear books and sure gains,
with enough of occupation to give healthful excitement, enough of fortune
to greet each new-born child without a sigh, might be envied alike by
those above and those below his state--if the restless heart of men ever
envied Content!

"And so the little boy is not to come?" said Mrs. Morton as she crossed
her knife and fork, and pushed away her plate, in token that she had done
supper.

"I don't know.--Children, go to bed; there--there--that will do. Good
night!--Catherine does not say either yes or no. She wants time to
consider."

"It was a very handsome offer on our part; some folks never know when
they are well off."

"That is very true, my dear, and you are a very sensible person. Kate
herself might have been an honest woman, and, what is more, a very rich
woman, by this time. She might have married Spencer, the young brewer--an
excellent man, and well to do!"

"Spencer! I don't remember him."

"No: after she went off, he retired from business, and left the place. I
don't know what's become of him. He was mightily taken with her, to be
sure. She was uncommonly handsome, my sister Catherine."

"Handsome is as handsome does, Mr. Morton," said the wife, who was very
much marked with the small-pox. "We all have our temptations and trials;
this is a vale of tears, and without grace we are whited sepulchers."

Mr. Morton mixed his brandy and water, and moved his chair into its
customary corner.

"You saw your brother's letter," said he, after a pause; "he gives young
Philip a very good character."

"The human heart is very deceitful," replied Mrs. Morton, who, by the
way, spoke through her nose. "Pray Heaven he may be what he seems; but
what's bred in the bone comes out in the flesh."

"We must hope the best," said Mr. Morton, mildly; "and--put another lump
into the grog, my dear."

"It is a mercy, I'm thinking, that we didn't have the other little boy. I
dare say he has never even been taught his catechism: them people don't
know what it is to be a mother. And, besides, it would have been very
awkward, Mr. M.; we could never have said who he was: and I've no doubt
Miss Pryinall would have been very curious."

"Miss Pryinall be ----!" Mr. Morton checked himself, took a large draught
of the brandy and water, and added, "Miss Pryinall wants to have a finger
in everybody's pie."

"But she buys a deal of flannel, and does great good to the town; it was
she who found out that Mrs. Giles was no better than she should be."

"Poor Mrs. Giles!--she came to the workhouse."

"Poor Mrs. Giles, indeed! I wonder, Mr. Morton, that you, a married man
with a family, should say, poor Mrs. Giles!"

"My dear, when people who have been well off come to the workhouse, they
may be called poor:--but that's neither here nor there; only, if the boy
does come to us, we must look sharp upon Miss Pryinall."

"I hope he won't come,--it will be very unpleasant. And when a man has a
wife and family, the less he meddles with other folks and their little
ones, the better. For as the Scripture says, 'A man shall cleave to his
wife and--'"

Here a sharp, shrill ring at the bell was heard, and Mrs. Morton broke
off into:

"Well! I declare! at this hour; who can that be? And all gone to bed! Do
go and see, Mr. Morton."

Somewhat reluctantly and slowly, Mr. Morton rose; and, proceeding to the
passage, unbarred the door. A brief and muttered conversation followed,
to the great irritability of Mrs. Morton, who stood in the passage--the
candle in her hand.

"What is the matter, Mr. M.?"

Mr. Morton turned back, looking agitated.

"Where's my hat? oh, here. My sister is come, at the inn."

"Gracious me! She does not go for to say she is your sister?"

"No, no: here's her note-calls herself a lady that's ill. I shall be back
soon."

"She can't come here--she sha'n't come here, Mr. M. I'm an honest
woman--she can't come here. You understand--"

Mr. Morton had naturally a stern countenance, stern to every one but his
wife. The shrill tone to which he was so long accustomed jarred then on
his heart as well as his ear. He frowned:

"Pshaw! woman, you have no feeling!" said he, and walked out of the
house, pulling his hat over his brows. That was the only rude speech Mr.
Morton had ever made to his better half. She treasured it up in her heart
and memory; it was associated with the sister and the child; and she was
not a woman who ever forgave.

Mr. Morton walked rapidly through the still, moon-lit streets, till he
reached the inn. A club was held that night in one of the rooms below;
and as he crossed the threshold, the sound of "hip-hip-hurrah!" mingled
with the stamping of feet and the jingling of glasses, saluted his
entrance. He was a stiff, sober, respectable man,--a man who, except at
elections--he was a great politician--mixed in none of the revels of his
more boisterous townsmen. The sounds, the spot, were ungenial to him. He
paused, and the colour of shame rose to his brow. He was ashamed to be
there--ashamed to meet the desolate and, as he believed, erring sister.

A pretty maidservant, heated and flushed with orders and compliments,
crossed his path with a tray full of glasses.

"There's a lady come by the Telegraph?"

"Yes, sir, upstairs, No. 2, Mr. Morton."

Mr. Morton! He shrank at the sound of his own name.

"My wife's right," he muttered. "After all, this is more unpleasant than
I thought for."

The slight stairs shook under his hasty tread. He opened the door of No.
2, and that Catherine, whom he had last seen at her age of gay sixteen,
radiant with bloom, and, but for her air of pride, the model for a
Hebe,--that Catherine, old ere youth was gone, pale, faded, the dark hair
silvered over, the cheeks hollow, and the eye dim,--that Catherine fell
upon his breast!

"God bless you, brother! How kind to come! How long since we have met!"

"Sit down, Catherine, my dear sister. You are faint--you are very much
changed--very. I should not have known you."

"Brother, I have brought my boy; it is painful to part from
him--very--very painful: but it is right, and God's will be done." She
turned, as she spoke, towards a little, deformed rickety dwarf of a sofa,
that seemed to hide itself in the darkest corner of the low, gloomy room;
and Morton followed her. With one hand she removed the shawl that she had
thrown over the child, and placing the forefinger of the other upon her
lips-lips that smiled then--she whispered,--"We will not wake him, he is
so tired. But I would not put him to bed till you had seen him."

And there slept poor Sidney, his fair cheek pillowed on his arm; the
soft, silky ringlets thrown from the delicate and unclouded brow; the
natural bloom increased by warmth and travel; the lovely face so innocent
and hushed; the breathing so gentle and regular, as if never broken by a
sigh.

Mr. Morton drew his hand across his eyes.

There was something very touching in the contrast between that wakeful,
anxious, forlorn woman, and the slumber of the unconscious boy. And in
that moment, what breast upon which the light of Christian pity--of
natural affection, had ever dawned, would, even supposing the world's
judgment were true, have recalled Catherine's reputed error? There is so
divine a holiness in the love of a mother, that no matter how the tie
that binds her to the child was formed, she becomes, as it were,
consecrated and sacred; and the past is forgotten, and the world and its
harsh verdicts swept away, when that love alone is visible; and the God,
who watches over the little one, sheds His smile over the human deputy,
in whose tenderness there breathes His own!

"You will be kind to him--will you not?" said Mrs. Morton; and the appeal
was made with that trustful, almost cheerful tone which implies, 'Who
would not be kind to a thing so fair and helpless?' "He is very sensitive
and very docile; you will never have occasion to say a hard word to
him--never! you have children of your own, brother."

"He is a beautiful boy-beautiful. I will be a father to him!"

As he spoke,--the recollection of his wife--sour, querulous,
austere--came over him, but he said to himself, "She must take to such a
child,--women always take to beauty." He bent down and gently pressed his
lips to Sidney's forehead: Mrs. Morton replaced the shawl, and drew her
brother to the other end of the room.

"And now," she said, colouring as she spoke, "I must see your wife,
brother: there is so much to say about a child that only a woman will
recollect. Is she very good-tempered and kind, your wife? You know I
never saw her; you married after--after I left."

"She is a very worthy woman," said Mr. Morton, clearing his throat, "and
brought me some money; she has a will of her own, as most women have; but
that's neither here nor there--she is a good wife as wives go; and
prudent and painstaking--I don't know what I should do without her."

"Brother, I have one favour to request--a great favour."

"Anything I can do in the way of money?"

"It has nothing to do with money. I can't live long--don't shake your
head--I can't live long. I have no fear for Philip, he has so much
spirit--such strength of character--but that child! I cannot bear to
leave him altogether; let me stay in this town--I can lodge anywhere; but
to see him sometimes--to know I shall be in reach if he is ill--let me
stay here--let me die here!"

"You must not talk so sadly--you are young yet--younger than I am--I
don't think of dying."

"Heaven forbid! but--"

"Well--well," interrupted Mr. Morton, who began to fear his feelings
would hurry him into some promise which his wife would not suffer him to
keep; "you shall talk to Margaret,--that is Mrs. Morton--I will get her
to see you--yes, I think I can contrive that; and if you can arrange with
her to stay,--but you see, as she brought the money, and is a very
particular woman--"

"I will see her; thank you--thank you; she cannot refuse me."

"And, brother," resumed Mrs. Morton, after a short pause, and speaking in
a firm voice--"and is it possible that you disbelieve my story?--that
you, like all the rest, consider my children the sons of shame?"

There was an honest earnestness in Catherine's voice, as she spoke, that
might have convinced many. But Mr. Morton was a man of facts, a practical
man--a man who believed that law was always right, and that the
improbable was never true.

He looked down as he answered, "I think you have been a very ill-used
woman, Catherine, and that is all I can say on the matter; let us drop
the subject."

"No! I was not ill-used; my husband--yes, my husband--was noble and
generous from first to last. It was for the sake of his children's
prospects--for the expectations they, through him, might derive from his
proud uncle--that he concealed our marriage. Do not blame Philip--do not
condemn the dead."

"I don't want to blame any one," said Mr. Morton, rather angrily; "I am a
plain man--a tradesman, and can only go by what in my class seems fair
and honest, which I can't think Mr. Beaufort's conduct was, put it how
you will; if he marries you as you think, he gets rid of a witness, he
destroys a certificate, and he dies without a will. How ever, all that's
neither here nor there. You do quite right not to take the name of
Beaufort, since it is an uncommon name, and would always make the story
public. Least said, soonest mended. You must always consider that your
children will be called natural children, and have their own way to make.
No harm in that! Warm day for your journey." Catherine sighed, and wiped
her eyes; she no longer reproached the world, since the son of her own
mother disbelieved her.

The relations talked together for some minutes on the past--the present;
but there was embarrassment and constraint on both sides--it was so
difficult to avoid one subject; and after sixteen years of absence, there
is little left in common, even between those who once played together
round their parent's knees. Mr. Morton was glad at last to find an excuse
in Catherine's fatigue to leave her. "Cheer up, and take a glass of
something warm before you go to bed. Good night!" these were his parting
words.

Long was the conference, and sleepless the couch, of Mr. and Mrs. Morton.
At first that estimable lady positively declared she would not and could
not visit Catherine (as to receiving her, that was out of the question).
But she secretly resolved to give up that point in order to insist with
greater strength upon another-viz., the impossibility of Catherine
remaining in the town; such concession for the purpose of resistance
being a very common and sagacious policy with married ladies.
Accordingly, when suddenly, and with a good grace, Mrs. Morton appeared
affected by her husband's eloquence, and said, "Well, poor thing! if she
is so ill, and you wish it so much, I will call to-morrow," Mr. Morton
felt his heart softened towards the many excellent reasons which his wife
urged against allowing Catherine to reside in the town. He was a
political character--he had many enemies; the story of his seduced
sister, now forgotten, would certainly be raked up; it would affect his
comfort, perhaps his trade, certainly his eldest daughter, who was now
thirteen; it would be impossible then to adopt the plan hitherto resolved
upon--of passing off Sidney as the legitimate orphan of a distant
relation; it would be made a great handle for gossip by Miss Pryinall.
Added to all these reasons, one not less strong occurred to Mr. Morton
himself--the uncommon and merciless rigidity of his wife would render all
the other women in the town very glad of any topic that would humble her
own sense of immaculate propriety. Moreover, he saw that if Catherine did
remain, it would be a perpetual source of irritation in his own home; he
was a man who liked an easy life, and avoided, as far as possible, all
food for domestic worry. And thus, when at length the wedded pair turned
back to back, and composed themselves to sleep, the conditions of peace
were settled, and the weaker party, as usual in diplomacy, sacrificed to
the interests of the united powers. After breakfast the next morning,
Mrs. Morton sallied out on her husband's arm. Mr. Morton was rather a
handsome man, with an air and look grave, composed, severe, that had
tended much to raise his character in the town.

Mrs. Morton was short, wiry, and bony. She had won her husband by making
desperate love to him, to say nothing of a dower that enabled him to
extend his business, new-front, as well as new-stock his shop, and rise
into the very first rank of tradesmen in his native town. He still
believed that she was excessively fond of him--a common delusion of
husbands, especially when henpecked. Mrs. Morton was, perhaps, fond of
him in her own way; for though her heart was not warm, there may be a
great deal of fondness with very little feeling. The worthy lady was now
clothed in her best. She had a proper pride in showing the rewards that
belong to female virtue. Flowers adorned her Leghorn bonnet, and her
green silk gown boasted four flounces,--such, then, was, I am told, the
fashion. She wore, also, a very handsome black shawl, extremely heavy,
though the day was oppressively hot, and with a deep border; a smart
sevigni brooch of yellow topazes glittered in her breast; a huge gilt
serpent glared from her waistband; her hair, or more properly speaking
her front, was tortured into very tight curls, and her feet into very
tight half-laced boots, from which the fragrance of new leather had not
yet departed. It was this last infliction, for il faut souffrir pour etre
belle, which somewhat yet more acerbated the ordinary acid of Mrs.
Morton's temper. The sweetest disposition is ruffled when the shoe
pinches; and it so happened that Mrs. Roger Morton was one of those
ladies who always have chilblains in the winter and corns in the summer.
"So you say your sister is a beauty?"

"Was a beauty, Mrs. M.,--was a beauty. People alter."

"A bad conscience, Mr. Morton, is--"

"My dear, can't you walk faster?"

"If you had my corns, Mr. Morton, you would not talk in that way!"

The happy pair sank into silence, only broken by sundry "How d'ye dos?"
and "Good mornings!" interchanged with their friends, till they arrived
at the inn.

"Let us go up quickly," said Mrs. Morton.

And quiet--quiet to gloom, did the inn, so noisy overnight, seem by
morning. The shutters partially closed to keep out the sun--the taproom
deserted--the passage smelling of stale smoke--an elderly dog, lazily
snapping at the flies, at the foot of the staircase--not a soul to be
seen at the bar. The husband and wife, glad to be unobserved, crept on
tiptoe up the stairs, and entered Catherine's apartment.

Catherine was seated on the sofa, and Sidney-dressed, like Mrs. Roger
Morton, to look his prettiest, nor yet aware of the change that awaited
his destiny, but pleased at the excitement of seeing new friends, as
handsome children sure of praise and petting usually are--stood by her
side.

"My wife--Catherine," said Mr. Morton. Catherine rose eagerly, and gazed
searchingly on her sister-in-law's hard face. She swallowed the
convulsive rising at her heart as she gazed, and stretched out both her
hands, not so much to welcome as to plead. Mrs. Roger Morton drew herself
up, and then dropped a courtesy--it was an involuntary piece of good
breeding--it was extorted by the noble countenance, the matronly mien of
Catherine, different from what she had anticipated--she dropped the
courtesy, and Catherine took her hand and pressed it.

"This is my son;" she turned away her head. Sidney advanced towards his
protectress who was to be, and Mrs. Roger muttered:

"Come here, my dear! A fine little boy!"

"As fine a child as ever I saw!" said Mr. Morton, heartily, as he took
Sidney on his lap, and stroked down his, golden hair.

This displeased Mrs. Roger Morton, but she sat herself down, and said it
was "very warm."

"Now go to that lady, my dear," said Mr. Morton. "Is she not a very nice
lady?--don't you think you shall like her very much?"

Sidney, the best-mannered child in the world, went boldly up to Mrs.
Morton, as he was bid. Mrs. Morton was embarrassed. Some folks are so
with other folk's children: a child either removes all constraint from a
party, or it increases the constraint tenfold. Mrs. Morton, however,
forced a smile, and said, "I have a little boy at home about your age."

"Have you?" exclaimed Catherine, eagerly; and as if that confession made
them friends at once, she drew a chair close to her sister-in-law's,--"My
brother has told you all?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"And I shall stay here--in the town somewhere--and see him sometimes?"

Mrs. Roger Morton glanced at her husband--her husband glanced at the
door--and Catherine's quick eye turned from one to the other.

"Mr. Morton will explain, ma' am," said the wife.

"E-hem!--Catherine, my dear, I am afraid that is out of the question,"
began Mr. Morton, who, when fairly put to it, could be business-like
enough. "You see bygones are bygones, and it is no use raking them up.
But many people in the town will recollect you."

"No one will see me--no one, but you and Sidney."

"It will be sure to creep out; won't it, Mrs. Morton?"

"Quite sure. Indeed, ma'am, it is impossible. Mr. Morton is so very
respectable, and his neighbours pay so much attention to all he does;
and then, if we have an election in the autumn, you see, ma'am, he has a
great stake in the place, and is a public character."

"That's neither here nor there," said Mr. Morton. "But I say, Catherine,
can your little boy go into the other room for a moment? Margaret,
suppose you take him and make friends."

Delighted to throw on her husband the burden of explanation, which she
had originally meant to have all the importance of giving herself in her
most proper and patronising manner, Mrs. Morton twisted her fingers into
the boy's hand, and, opening the door that communicated with the bedroom,
left the brother and sister alone. And then Mr. Morton, with more tact
and delicacy than might have been expected from him, began to soften to
Catherine the hard ship of the separation he urged. He dwelt principally
on what was best for the child. Boys were so brutal in their intercourse
with each other. He had even thought it better represent Philip to Mr.
Plaskwith as a more distant relation than he was; and he begged, by the
by, that Catherine would tell Philip to take the hint. But as for Sidney,
sooner or later, he would go to a day-school--have companions of his own
age--if his birth were known, he would be exposed to many
mortifications--so much better, and so very easy, to bring him up as the
lawful, that is the legal, offspring of some distant relation.

"And," cried poor Catherine, clasping her bands, "when I am dead, is he
never to know that I was his mother?" The anguish of that question
thrilled the heart of the listener. He was affected below all the surface
that worldly thoughts and habits had laid, stratum by stratum, over the
humanities within. He threw his arms round Catherine, and strained her to
his breast:

"No, my sister--my poor sister-he shall know it when he is old enough to
understand, and to keep his own secret. He shall know, too, how we all
loved and prized you once; how young you were, how flattered and tempted;
how you were deceived, for I know that--on my soul I do--I know it was
not your fault. He shall know, too, how fondly you loved your child, and
how you sacrificed, for his sake, the very comfort of being near him. He
shall know it all--all--"

"My brother--my brother, I resign him--I am content. God reward you. I
will go--go quickly. I know you will take care of him now."

"And you see," resumed Mr. Morton, re-settling himself, and wiping his
eyes, "it is best, between you and me, that Mrs. Morton should have her
own way in this. She is a very good woman--very; but it's prudent not to
vex her. You may come in now, Mrs. Morton."

Mrs. Morton and Sidney reappeared.

"We have settled it all," said the husband. "When can we have him?"

"Not to-day," said Mrs. Roger Morton; "you see, ma'am, we must get his
bed ready, and his sheets well aired: I am very particular."

"Certainly, certainly. Will he sleep alone?--pardon me."

"He shall have a room to himself," said Mr. Morton. "Eh, my dear? Next to
Martha's. Martha is our parlourmaid--very good-natured girl, and fond of
children."

Mrs. Morton looked grave, thought a moment, and said, "Yes, he can have
that room."

"Who can have that room?" asked Sidney, innocently. "You, my dear,"
replied Mr. Morton.

"And where will mamma sleep? I must sleep near mamma."

"Mamma is going away," said Catherine, in a firm voice, in which the
despair would only have been felt by the acute ear of sympathy,--"going
away for a little time: but this gentleman and lady will be very--very
kind to you."

"We will do our best, ma'am," said Mrs. Morton.

And as she spoke, a sudden light broke on the boy's mind--he uttered a
loud cry, broke from his aunt, rushed to his mother's breast, and hid his
face there, sobbing bitterly.

"I am afraid he has been very much spoiled," whispered Mrs. Roger Morton.
"I don't think we need stay longer--it will look suspicious. Good
morning, ma'am: we shall be ready to-morrow."

"Good-bye, Catherine," said Mr. Morton; and he added, as he kissed her,
"Be of good heart, I will come up by myself and spend the evening with
you."

It was the night after this interview. Sidney had gone to his new home;
they had been all kind to him--Mr. Morton, the children, Martha the
parlour-maid. Mrs. Roger herself had given him a large slice of bread and
jam, but had looked gloomy all the rest of the evening: because, like a
dog in a strange place, he refused to eat. His little heart was full, and
his eyes, swimming with tears, were turned at every moment to the door.
But he did not show the violent grief that might have been expected. His
very desolation, amidst the unfamiliar faces, awed and chilled him. But
when Martha took him to bed, and undressed him, and he knelt down to say
his prayers, and came to the words, "Pray God bless dear mamma, and make
me a good child," his heart could contain its load no longer, and he
sobbed with a passion that alarmed the good-natured servant. She had been
used, however, to children, and she soothed and caressed him, and told
him of all the nice things he would do, and the nice toys he would have;
and at last, silenced, if not convinced, his eyes closed, and, the tears
yet wet on their lashes, he fell asleep.

It had been arranged that Catherine should return home that night by a
late coach, which left the town at twelve. It was already past eleven.
Mrs. Morton had retired to bed; and her husband, who had, according to
his wont, lingered behind to smoke a cigar over his last glass of brandy
and water, had just thrown aside the stump, and was winding up his watch,
when he heard a low tap at his window. He stood mute and alarmed, for the
window opened on a back lane, dark and solitary at night, and, from the
heat of the weather, the iron-cased shutter was not yet closed; the sound
was repeated, and he heard a faint voice. He glanced at the poker, and
then cautiously moved to the window, and looked forth,--"Who's there?"

"It is I--it is Catherine! I cannot go without seeing my boy. I must see
him--I must, once more!"

"My dear sister, the place is shut up--it is impossible. God bless me, if
Mrs. Morton should hear you!"

"I have walked before this window for hours--I have waited till all is
hushed in your house, till no one, not even a menial, need see the mother
stealing to the bed of her child. Brother, by the memory of our own
mother, I command you to let me look, for the last time, upon my boy's
face!"

As Catherine said this, standing in that lonely street--darkness and
solitude below, God and the stars above--there was about her a majesty
which awed the listener. Though she was so near, her features were not
very clearly visible; but her attitude--her hand raised aloft--the
outline of her wasted but still commanding form, were more impressive
from the shadowy dimness of the air.

"Come round, Catherine," said Mr. Morton after a pause; "I will admit
you."

He shut the window, stole to the door, unbarred it gently, and admitted
his visitor. He bade her follow him; and, shading the light with his
hand, crept up the stairs. Catherine's step made no sound.

They passed, unmolested, and unheard, the room in which the wife was
drowsily reading, according to her custom before she tied her nightcap
and got into bed, a chapter in some pious book. They ascended to the
chamber where Sidney lay; Morton opened the door cautiously, and stood at
the threshold, so holding the candle that its light might not wake the
child, though it sufficed to guide Catherine to the bed. The room was
small, perhaps close, but scrupulously clean; for cleanliness was Mrs.
Roger Morton's capital virtue. The mother, with a tremulous hand, drew
aside the white curtains, and checked her sobs as she gazed on the young
quiet face that was turned towards her. She gazed some moments in
passionate silence; who shall say, beneath that silence, what thoughts,
what prayers moved and stirred!

Then bending down, with pale, convulsive lips she kissed the little hands
thrown so listlessly on the coverlet of the pillow on which the head lay.
After this she turned her face to her brother with a mute appeal in her
glance, took a ring from her finger--a ring that had never till then left
it--the ring which Philip Beaufort had placed there the day after that
child was born. "Let him wear this round his neck," said she, and
stopped, lest she should sob aloud, and disturb the boy. In that gift she
felt as if she invoked the father's spirit to watch over the friendless
orphan; and then, pressing together her own hands firmly, as we do in
some paroxysm of great pain, she turned from the room, descended the
stairs, gained the street, and muttered to her brother, "I am happy now;
peace be on these thresholds!" Before he could answer she was gone.




CHAPTER IX.

        "Thus things are strangely wrought,
        While joyful May doth last;
        Take May in Time--when May is gone
        The pleasant time is past."--RICHARD EDWARDS.
               From the Paradise of Dainty Devices.

It was that period of the year when, to those who look on the surface of
society, London wears its most radiant smile; when shops are gayest, and
trade most brisk; when down the thoroughfares roll and glitter the
countless streams of indolent and voluptuous life; when the upper class
spend, and the middle class make; when the ball-room is the Market of
Beauty, and the club-house the School for Scandal; when the hells yawn
for their prey, and opera-singers and fiddlers--creatures hatched from
gold, as the dung-flies from the dung-swarm, and buzz, and fatten, round
the hide of the gentle Public In the cant phase, it was "the London
season." And happy, take it altogether, happy above the rest of the year,
even for the hapless, is that period of ferment and fever. It is not the
season for duns, and the debtor glides about with a less anxious eye; and
the weather is warm, and the vagrant sleeps, unfrozen, under the starlit
portico; and the beggar thrives, and the thief rejoices--for the rankness
of the civilisation has superfluities clutched by all. And out of the
general corruption things sordid and things miserable crawl forth to bask
in the common sunshine--things that perish when the first autumn winds
whistle along the melancholy city. It is the gay time for the heir and
the beauty, and the statesman and the lawyer, and the mother with her
young daughters, and the artist with his fresh pictures, and the poet
with his new book. It is the gay time, too, for the starved journeyman,
and the ragged outcast that with long stride and patient eyes follows,
for pence, the equestrian, who bids him go and be d---d in vain. It is a
gay time for the painted harlot in a crimson pelisse; and a gay time for
the old hag that loiters about the thresholds of the gin-shop, to buy
back, in a draught, the dreams of departed youth. It is gay, in fine, as
the fulness of a vast city is ever gay--for Vice as for Innocence, for
Poverty as for Wealth. And the wheels of every single destiny wheel on
the merrier, no matter whether they are bound to Heaven or to Hell.

Arthur Beaufort, the young heir, was at his father's house. He was fresh
from Oxford, where he had already discovered that learning is not better
than house and land. Since the new prospects opened to him, Arthur
Beaufort was greatly changed. Naturally studious and prudent, had his
fortunes remained what they had been before his uncle's death, he would
probably have become a laborious and distinguished man. But though his
abilities were good, he had not those restless impulses which belong to
Genius--often not only its glory, but its curse. The Golden Rod cast his
energies asleep at once. Good-natured to a fault, and somewhat
vacillating in character, he adopted the manner and the code of the rich
young idlers who were his equals at College. He became, like them,
careless, extravagant, and fond of pleasure. This change, if it
deteriorated his mind, improved his exterior. It was a change that could
not but please women; and of all women his mother the most. Mrs. Beaufort
was a lady of high birth; and in marrying her, Robert had hoped much from
the interest of her connections; but a change in the ministry had thrown
her relations out of power; and, beyond her dowry, he obtained no worldly
advantage with the lady of his mercenary choice. Mrs. Beaufort was a
woman whom a word or two will describe. She was thoroughly
commonplace--neither bad nor good, neither clever nor silly. She was what
is called well-bred; that is, languid, silent, perfectly dressed, and
insipid. Of her two children, Arthur was almost the exclusive favourite,
especially after he became the heir to such brilliant fortunes. For she
was so much the mechanical creature of the world, that even her affection
was warm or cold in proportion as the world shone on it. Without being
absolutely in love with her husband, she liked him--they suited each
other; and (in spite of all the temptations that had beset her in their
earlier years, for she had been esteemed a beauty--and lived, as worldly
people must do, in circles where examples of unpunished gallantry are
numerous and contagious) her conduct had ever been scrupulously correct.
She had little or no feeling for misfortunes with which she had never
come into contact; for those with which she had--such as the distresses
of younger sons, or the errors of fashionable women, or the
disappointments of "a proper ambition"--she had more sympathy than might
have been supposed, and touched on them with all the tact of well-bred
charity and ladylike forbearance. Thus, though she was regarded as a
strict person in point of moral decorum, yet in society she was
popular-as women at once pretty and inoffensive generally are.

To do Mrs. Beaufort justice, she had not been privy to the letter her
husband wrote to Catherine, although not wholly innocent of it. The fact
is, that Robert had never mentioned to her the peculiar circumstances
that made Catherine an exception from ordinary rules--the generous
propositions of his brother to him the night before his death; and,
whatever his incredulity as to the alleged private marriage, the perfect
loyalty and faith that Catherine had borne to the deceased,--he had
merely observed, "I must do something, I suppose, for that woman; she
very nearly entrapped my poor brother into marrying her; and he would
then, for what I know, have cut Arthur out of the estates. Still, I must
do something for her--eh?"

"Yes, I think so. What was she?-very low?"

"A tradesman's daughter."

"The children should be provided for according to the rank of the mother;
that's the general rule in such cases: and the mother should have about
the same provision she might have looked for if she had married a
tradesman and been left a widow. I dare say she was a very artful kind of
person, and don't deserve anything; but it is always handsomer, in the
eyes of the world, to go by the general rules people lay down as to money
matters."

So spoke Mrs. Beaufort. She concluded her husband had settled the matter,
and never again recurred to it. Indeed, she had never liked the late Mr.
Beaufort, whom she considered mauvais ton.

In the breakfast-room at Mr. Beaufort's, the mother and son were seated;
the former at work, the latter lounging by the window: they were not
alone. In a large elbow-chair sat a middle-aged man, listening, or
appearing to listen, to the prattle of a beautiful little girl--Arthur
Beaufort's sister. This man was not handsome, but there was a certain
elegance in his air, and a certain intelligence in his countenance, which
made his appearance pleasing. He had that kind of eye which is often seen
with red hair--an eye of a reddish hazel, with very long lashes; the
eyebrows were dark, and clearly defined; and the short hair showed to
advantage the contour of a small well-shaped head. His features were
irregular; the complexion had been sanguine, but was now faded, and a
yellow tinge mingled with the red. His face was more wrinkled, especially
round the eyes--which, when he laughed, were scarcely visible--than is
usual even in men ten years older. But his teeth were still of a dazzling
whiteness; nor was there any trace of decayed health in his countenance.
He seemed one who had lived hard; but who had much yet left in the lamp
wherewith to feed the wick. At the first glance he appeared slight, as he
lolled listlessly in his chair--almost fragile. But, at a nearer
examination, you perceived that, in spite of the small extremities and
delicate bones, his frame was constitutionally strong. Without being
broad in the shoulders, he was exceedingly deep in the chest--deeper than
men who seemed giants by his side; and his gestures had the ease of one
accustomed to an active life. He had, indeed, been celebrated in his
youth for his skill in athletic exercises, but a wound, received in a
duel many years ago, had rendered him lame for life--a misfortune which
interfered with his former habits, and was said to have soured his
temper. This personage, whose position and character will be described
hereafter, was Lord Lilburne, the brother of Mrs. Beaufort.

"So, Camilla," said Lord Lilburne to his niece, as carelessly, not
fondly, he stroked down her glossy ringlets, "you don't like Berkeley
Square as you did Gloucester Place."

"Oh, no! not half so much! You see I never walk out in the fields,--[Now
the Regent's Park.]--nor make daisy-chains at Primrose Hill. I don't know
what mamma means," added the child, in a whisper, "in saying we are
better off here."

Lord Lilburne smiled, but the smile was a half sneer. "You will know
quite soon enough, Camilla; the understandings of young ladies grow up
very quickly on this side of Oxford Street. Well, Arthur, and what are
your plans to-day?"

"Why," said Arthur, suppressing a yawn, "I have promised to ride out with
a friend of mine, to see a horse that is for sale somewhere in the
suburbs."

As he spoke, Arthur rose, stretched himself, looked in the glass, and
then glanced impatiently at the window.

"He ought to be here by this time."

"He! who?" said Lord Lilburne, "the horse or the other animal--I mean the
friend?"

"The friend," answered Arthur, smiling, but colouring while he smiled,
for he half suspected the quiet sneer of his uncle.

"Who is your friend, Arthur?" asked Mrs. Beaufort, looking up from her
work.

"Watson, an Oxford man. By the by, I must introduce him to you."

"Watson! what Watson? what family of Watson? Some Watsons are good and
some are bad," said Mrs. Beaufort, musingly.

"Then they are very unlike the rest of mankind," observed Lord Lilburne,
drily.

"Oh! my Watson is a very gentlemanlike person, I assure you," said
Arthur, half-laughing, "and you need not be ashamed of him." Then, rather
desirous of turning the conversation, he continued, "So my father will be
back from Beaufort Court to-day?"

"Yes; he writes in excellent spirits. He says the rents will bear raising
at least ten per cent., and that the house will not require much repair."

Here Arthur threw open the window.

"Ah, Watson! how are you? How d'ye do, Marsden? Danvers, too! that's
capital! the more the merrier! I will be down in an instant. But would
you not rather come in?"

"An agreeable inundation," murmured Lord Lilburne. "Three at a time: he
takes your house for Trinity College."

A loud, clear voice, however, declined the invitation; the horses were
heard pawing without. Arthur seized his hat and whip, and glanced to his
mother and uncle, smilingly. "Good-bye! I shall be out till dinner. Kiss
me, my pretty Milly!" And as his sister, who had run to the window,
sickening for the fresh air and exercise he was about to enjoy, now
turned to him wistful and mournful eyes, the kind-hearted young man took
her in his arms, and whispered while he kissed her:

"Get up early to-morrow, and we'll have such a nice walk together."

Arthur was gone: his mother's gaze had followed his young and graceful
figure to the door.

"Own that he is handsome, Lilburne. May I not say more:--has he not the
proper air?"

"My dear sister, your son will be rich. As for his air, he has plenty of
airs, but wants graces."

"Then who could polish him like yourself?"

"Probably no one. But had I a son--which Heaven forbid!--he should not
have me for his Mentor. Place a young man--(go and shut the door,
Camilla!)--between two vices--women and gambling, if you want to polish
him into the fashionable smoothness. Entre nous, the varnish is a little
expensive!"

Mrs. Beaufort sighed. Lord Lilburne smiled. He had a strange pleasure in
hurting the feelings of others. Besides, he disliked youth: in his own
youth he had enjoyed so much that he grew sour when he saw the young.

Meanwhile Arthur Beaufort and his friends, careless of the warmth of the
day, were laughing merrily, and talking gaily, as they made for the
suburb of H----.

"It is an out-of-the-way place for a horse, too," said Sir Harry Danvers.

"But I assure you," insisted Mr. Watson, earnestly, "that my groom, who
is a capital judge, says it is the cleverest hack he ever mounted. It
has won several trotting matches. It belonged to a sporting tradesman,
now done up. The advertisement caught me."

"Well," said Arthur, gaily, "at all events the ride is delightful. What
weather! You must all dine with me at Richmond to-morrow--we will row
back."

"And a little chicken-hazard, at the M---, afterwards," said Mr. Marsden,
who was an elder, not a better, man than the rest--a handsome, saturnine
man--who had just left Oxford, and was already known on the turf.

"Anything you please," said Arthur, making his horse curvet.

Oh, Mr. Robert Beaufort! Mr. Robert Beaufort! could your prudent,
scheming, worldly heart but feel what devil's tricks your wealth was
playing with a son who if poor had been the pride of the Beauforts! On
one side of our pieces of old we see the saint trampling down the dragon.
False emblem! Reverse it on the coin! In the real use of the gold, it is
the dragon who tramples down the saint! But on--on! the day is bright and
your companions merry; make the best of your green years, Arthur
Beaufort!

The young men had just entered the suburb of H---, and were spurring on
four abreast at a canter. At that time an old man, feeling his way before
him with a stick,--for though not quite blind, he saw imperfectly,--was
crossing the road. Arthur and his friends, in loud converse, did not
observe the poor passenger. He stopped abruptly, for his ear caught the
sound of danger--it was too late: Mr. Marsden's horse, hard-mouthed, and
high-stepping, came full against him. Mr. Marsden looked down:

"Hang these old men! always in the way," said he, plaintively, and in the
tone of a much-injured person, and, with that, Mr. Marsden rode on. But
the others, who were younger--who were not gamblers--who were not yet
grinded down into stone by the world's wheels--the others halted. Arthur
Beaufort leaped from his horse, and the old man was already in his arms;
but he was severely hurt. The blood trickled from his forehead; he
complained of pains in his side and limbs.

"Lean on me, my poor fellow! Do you live far off? I will take you home."

"Not many yards. This would not have happened if I had had my dog. Never
mind, sir, go your way. It is only an old man--what of that? I wish I had
my dog."

"I will join you," said Arthur to his friends; "my groom has the
direction. I will just take the poor old man home, and send for a
surgeon. I shall not be long."

"So like you, Beaufort: the best fellow in the world!" said Mr. Watson,
with some emotion. "And there's Marsden positively, dismounted, and
looking at his horse's knees as if they could be hurt! Here's a sovereign
for you, my man."

"And here's another," said Sir Harry; "so that's settled. Well, you will
join us, Beaufort? You see the yard yonder. We'll wait twenty minutes for
you. Come on, Watson." The old man had not picked up the sovereigns
thrown at his feet, neither had he thanked the donors. And on his
countenance there was a sour, querulous, resentful expression.

"Must a man be a beggar because he is run over, or because he is half
blind?" said he, turning his dim, wandering eyes painfully towards
Arthur. "Well, I wish I had my dog!"

"I will supply his place," said Arthur, soothingly. "Come, lean on
me--heavier; that's right. You are not so bad,--eh?"

"Um!--the sovereigns!--it is wicked to leave them in the kennel!"

Arthur smiled. "Here they are, sir."

The old man slid the coins into his pocket, and Arthur continued to talk,
though he got but short answers, and those only in the way of direction,
till at last the old man stopped at the door of a small house near the
churchyard.

After twice ringing the bell, the door was opened by a middle-aged woman,
whose appearance was above that of a common menial; dressed, somewhat
gaily for her years, in a cap seated very far back on a black touroet,
and decorated with red ribands, an apron made out of an Indian silk
handkerchief, a puce-coloured sarcenet gown, black silk stockings, long
gilt earrings, and a watch at her girdle.

"Bless us and save us, sir! What has happened?" exclaimed this worthy
personage, holding up her hands.

"Pish! I am faint: let me in. I don't want your aid any more, sir. Thank
you. Good day!"

Not discouraged by this farewell, the churlish tone of which fell
harmless on the invincibly sweet temper of Arthur, the young man
continued to assist the sufferer along the narrow passage into a little
old-fashioned parlour; and no sooner was the owner deposited on his
worm-eaten leather chair than he fainted away. On reaching the house,
Arthur had sent his servant (who had followed him with the horses) for
the nearest surgeon; and while the woman was still employed, after taking
off the sufferer's cravat, in burning feathers under his nose, there was
heard a sharp rap and a shrill ring. Arthur opened the door, and admitted
a smart little man in nankeen breeches and gaiters. He bustled into the
room.

"What's this--bad accident--um--um! Sad thing, very sad. Open the window.
A glass of water--a towel."

"So--so: I see--I see--no fracture--contusion. Help him off with his
coat. Another chair, ma'am; put up his poor legs. What age is he,
ma'am?--Sixty-eight! Too old to bleed. Thank you. How is it, sir? Poorly,
to be sure will be comfortable presently--faintish still? Soon put all to
rights."

"Tray! Tray! Where's my dog, Mrs. Boxer?"

"Lord, sir, what do you want with your dog now? He is in the back-yard."

"And what business has my dog in the back-yard?" almost screamed the
sufferer, in accents that denoted no diminution of vigour. "I thought as
soon as my back was turned my dog would be ill-used! Why did I go without
my dog? Let in my dog directly, Mrs. Boxer!"

"All right, you see, sir," said the apothecary, turning to Beaufort--"no
cause for alarm--very comforting that little passion--does him good--sets
one's mind easy. How did it happen? Ah, I understand! knocked down--might
have been worse. Your groom (sharp fellow!) explained in a trice, sir.
Thought it was my old friend here by the description. Worthy man--settled
here a many year--very odd-eccentric (this in a whisper). Came off
instantly: just at dinner--cold lamb and salad. 'Mrs. Perkins,' says I,
'if any one calls for me, I shall be at No. 4, Prospect Place.' Your
servant observed the address, sir. Oh, very sharp fellow! See how the old
gentleman takes to his dog--fine little dog--what a stump of a tail! Deal
of practice--expect two accouchements every hour. Hot weather for
childbirth. So says I to Mrs. Perkins, 'If Mrs. Plummer is taken, or Mrs.
Everat, or if old Mr. Grub has another fit, send off at once to No. 4.
Medical men should be always in the way-that's my maxim. Now, sir, where
do you feel the pain?"

"In my ears, sir."

"Bless me, that looks bad. How long have you felt it?"

"Ever since you have been in the room."

"Oh! I take. Ha! ha!--very eccentric--very!" muttered the apothecary, a
little disconcerted. "Well, let him lie down, ma'am. I'll send him a
little quieting draught to be taken directly--pill at night, aperient in
the morning. If wanted, send for me--always to be found. Bless me, that's
my boy Bob's ring. Please to open the door, ma' am. Know his ring--very
peculiar knack of his own. Lay ten to one it is Mrs. Plummer, or perhaps.
Mrs. Everat--her ninth child in eight years--in the grocery line. A woman
in a thousand, sir!"

Here a thin boy, with very short coat-sleeves, and very large hands,
burst into the room with his mouth open. "Sir--Mr. Perkins--sir!"

"I know--I know-coming. Mrs. Plummer or Mrs. Everat?"

"No, sir; it be the poor lady at Mrs. Lacy's; she be taken desperate.
Mrs. Lacy's girl has just been over to the shop, and made me run here to
you, sir."

"Mrs. Lacy's! oh, I know. Poor Mrs. Morton! Bad case--very bad--must be
off. Keep him quiet, ma'am. Good day! Look in to-morrow-nine o'clock. Put
a little lint with the lotion on the head, ma'am. Mrs. Morton! Ah! bad
job that."

Here the apothecary had shuffled himself off to the street door, when
Arthur laid his hand on his arm.

"Mrs. Morton! Did you say Morton, sir? What kind of a person--is she very
ill?"

"Hopeless case, sir--general break-up. Nice woman--quite the lady--known
better days, I'm sure."

"Has she any children--sons?"

"Two--both away now--fine lads--quite wrapped up in them--youngest
especially."

"Good heavens! it must be she--ill, and dying, and destitute,
perhaps,"--exclaimed Arthur, with real and deep feeling; "I will go with
you, sir. I fancy that I know this lady--that," he added generously, "I
am related to her."

"Do you?--glad to hear it. Come along, then; she ought to have some one
near her besides servants: not but what Jenny, the maid, is uncommonly
kind. Dr. -----, who attends her sometimes, said to me, says he, 'It is
the mind, Mr. Perkins; I wish we could get back her boys."

"And where are they?"

"'Prenticed out, I fancy. Master Sidney--"

"Sidney!"

"Ah! that was his name--pretty name. D'ye know Sir Sidney
Smith?--extraordinary man, sir! Master Sidney was a beautiful
child--quite spoiled. She always fancied him ailing--always sending for
me. 'Mr. Perkins,' said she, 'there's something the matter with my child;
I'm sure there is, though he won't own it. He has lost his appetite--had
a headache last night.' 'Nothing the matter, ma'am,' says I; 'wish you'd
think more of yourself.'

"These mothers are silly, anxious, poor creatures. Nater, sir,
Nater--wonderful thing--Nater!--Here we are."

And the apothecary knocked at the private door of a milliner and hosier's
shop.




CHAPTER X.

"Thy child shall live, and I will see it nourished."--Titus Andronicus.

As might be expected, the excitement and fatigue of Catherine's journey
to N---- had considerably accelerated the progress of disease. And when
she reached home, and looked round the cheerless rooms all solitary, all
hushed--Sidney gone, gone from her for ever, she felt, indeed, as if the
last reed on which she had leaned was broken, and her business upon earth
was done. Catherine was not condemned to absolute poverty--the poverty
which grinds and gnaws, the poverty of rags and famine. She had still
left nearly half of such portion of the little capital, realised by the
sale of her trinkets, as had escaped the clutch of the law; and her
brother had forced into her hands a note for L20. with an assurance that
the same sum should be paid to her half-yearly. Alas! there was little
chance of her needing it again! She was not, then, in want of means to
procure the common comforts of life. But now a new passion had entered
into her breast--the passion of the miser; she wished to hoard every
sixpence as some little provision for her children. What was the use of
her feeding a lamp nearly extinguished, and which was fated to be soon
broken up and cast amidst the vast lumber-house of Death? She would
willingly have removed into a more homely lodging, but the servant of the
house had been so fond of Sidney--so kind to him. She clung to one
familiar face on which there seemed to live the reflection of her
child's. But she relinquished the first floor for the second; and there,
day by day, she felt her eyes grow heavier and heavier beneath the clouds
of the last sleep. Besides the aid of Mr. Perkins, a kind enough man in
his way, the good physician whom she had before consulted, still attended
her, and refused his fee. Shocked at perceiving that she rejected every
little alleviation of her condition, and wishing at least to procure for
her last hours the society of one of her sons, he had inquired the
address of the elder; and on the day preceding the one in which Arthur
discovered her abode, he despatched to Philip the following letter:

"SIR:--Being called in to attend your mother in a lingering illness, which
I fear may prove fatal, I think it my duty to request you to come to her
as soon as you receive this. Your presence cannot but be a great comfort
to her. The nature of her illness is such that it is impossible to
calculate exactly how long she may be spared to you; but I am sure her
fate might be prolonged, and her remaining days more happy, if she could
be induced to remove into a better air and a more quiet neighbourhood, to
take more generous sustenance, and, above all, if her mind could be set
more at ease as to your and your brother's prospects. You must pardon me
if I have seemed inquisitive; but I have sought to draw from your mother
some particulars as to her family and connections, with a wish to
represent to them her state of mind. She is, however, very reserved on
these points. If, however, you have relations well to do in the world, I
think some application to them should be made. I fear the state of her
affairs weighs much upon your poor mother's mind; and I must leave you to
judge how far it can be relieved by the good feeling of any persons upon
whom she may have legitimate claims. At all events, I repeat my wish
that you should come to her forthwith.
                  "I am, &c."

After the physician had despatched this letter, a sudden and marked
alteration for the worse took place in his patient's disorder; and in the
visit he had paid that morning, he saw cause to fear that her hours on
earth would be much fewer than he had before anticipated. He had left
her, however, comparatively better; but two hours after his departure,
the symptoms of her disease had become very alarming, and the
good-natured servant girl, her sole nurse, and who had, moreover, the
whole business of the other lodgers to attend to, had, as we have seen,
thought it necessary to summon the apothecary in the interval that must
elapse before she could reach the distant part of the metropolis in which
Dr. ---- resided.

On entering the chamber, Arthur felt all the remorse, which of right
belonged to his father, press heavily on his soul. What a contrast, that
mean and solitary chamber, and its comfortless appurtenances, to the
graceful and luxurious abode where, full of health and hope, he had last
beheld her, the mother of Philip Beaufort's children! He remained silent
till Mr. Perkins, after a few questions, retired to send his drugs. He
then approached the bed; Catherine, though very weak and suffering much
pain, was still sensible. She turned her dim eyes on the young man; but
she did not recognise his features.

"You do not remember me?" said he, in a voice struggling with tears: "I
am Arthur--Arthur Beaufort." Catherine made no answer.

"Good Heavens! Why do I see you here? I believed you with your
friends--your children provided for--as became my father to do. He
assured me that you were so." Still no answer.

And then the young man, overpowered with the feelings of a sympathising
and generous nature, forgetting for a while Catherine's weakness, poured
forth a torrent of inquiries, regrets, and self-upbraidings, which
Catherine at first little heeded. But the name of her children, repeated
again and again, struck upon that chord which, in a woman's heart, is the
last to break; and she raised herself in her bed, and looked at her
visitor wistfully.

"Your father," she said, then--"your father was unlike my Philip; but I
see things differently now. For me, all bounty is too late; but my
children--to-morrow they may have no mother. The law is with you, but not
justice! You will be rich and powerful;--will you befriend my children?"

"Through life, so help me Heaven!" exclaimed Arthur, falling on his knees
beside the bed.

What then passed between them it is needless to detail; for it was
little, save broken repetitions of the same prayer and the same response.
But there was so much truth and earnestness in Arthur's voice and
countenance, that Catherine felt as if an angel had come there to
administer comfort. And when late in the day the physician entered, he
found his patient leaning on the breast of her young visitor, and looking
on his face with a happy smile.

The physician gathered enough from the appearance of Arthur and the
gossip of Mr. Perkins, to conjecture that one of the rich relations he
had attributed to Catherine was arrived. Alas! for her it was now indeed
too late!




CHAPTER XI.

     "D'ye stand amazed?--Look o'er thy head, Maximinian!
     Look to the terror which overhangs thee."
              BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER: The Prophetess.

Phillip had been five weeks in his new home: in another week, he was to
enter on his articles of apprenticeship. With a stern, unbending gloom of
manner, he had commenced the duties of his novitiate. He submitted to all
that was enjoined him. He seemed to have lost for ever the wild and
unruly waywardness that had stamped his boyhood; but he was never seen to
smile--he scarcely ever opened his lips. His very soul seemed to have
quitted him with its faults; and he performed all the functions of his
situation with the quiet listless regularity of a machine. Only when the
work was done and the shop closed, instead of joining the family circle
in the back parlour, he would stroll out in the dusk of the evening, away
from the town, and not return till the hour at which the family retired
to rest. Punctual in all he did, he never exceeded that hour. He had
heard once a week from his mother; and only on the mornings in which he
expected a letter, did he seem restless and agitated. Till the postman
entered the shop, he was as pale as death--his hands trembling--his lips
compressed. When he read the letter he became composed for Catherine
sedulously concealed from her son the state of her health: she wrote
cheerfully, besought him to content himself with the state into which he
had fallen, and expressed her joy that in his letters he intimated that
content; for the poor boy's letters were not less considerate than her
own. On her return from her brother, she had so far silenced or concealed
her misgivings as to express satisfaction at the home she had provided
for Sidney; and she even held out hopes of some future when, their
probation finished and their independence secured, she might reside with
her sons alternately. These hopes redoubled Philip's assiduity, and he
saved every shilling of his weekly stipend; and sighed as he thought that
in another week his term of apprenticeship would commence, and the
stipend cease.

Mr. Plaskwith could not but be pleased on the whole with the diligence of
his assistant, but he was chafed and irritated by the sullenness of his
manner. As for Mrs. Plaskwith, poor woman! she positively detested the
taciturn and moody boy, who never mingled in the jokes of the circle, nor
played with the children, nor complimented her, nor added, in short,
anything to the sociability of the house. Mr. Plimmins, who had at first
sought to condescend, next sought to bully; but the gaunt frame and
savage eye of Philip awed the smirk youth, in spite of himself; and he
confessed to Mrs. Plaskwith that he should not like to meet "the gipsy,"
alone, on a dark night; to which Mrs. Plaskwith replied, as usual, "that
Mr. Plimmins always did say the best things in the world!"

One morning, Philip was sent a few miles into the country, to assist in
cataloguing some books in the library of Sir Thomas Champerdown--that
gentleman, who was a scholar, having requested that some one acquainted
with the Greek character might be sent to him, and Philip being the only
one in the shop who possessed such knowledge.

It was evening before he returned. Mr. and Mrs. Plaskwith were both in
the shop as he entered--in fact, they had been employed in talking him
over.

"I can't abide him!" cried Mrs. Plaskwith. "If you choose to take him for
good, I sha'n't have an easy moment. I'm sure the 'prentice that cut his
master's throat at Chatham, last week, was just like him."

"Pshaw! Mrs. P.," said the bookseller, taking a huge pinch of snuff, as
usual, from his waistcoat pocket. "I myself was reserved when I was
young; all reflective people are. I may observe, by the by, that it was
the case with Napoleon Buonaparte: still, however, I must own he is a
disagreeable youth, though he attends to his business."

"And how fond of money he is!" remarked Mrs. Plaskwith, "he won't buy
himself a new pair of shoes!--quite disgraceful! And did you see what a
look he gave Plimmins, when he joked about his indifference to his sole?
Plimmins always does say such good things!"

"He is shabby, certainly," said the bookseller; "but the value of a book
does not always depend on the binding."

"I hope he is honest!" observed Mrs. Plaskwith;--and here Philip entered.

"Hum," said Mr. Plaskwith; "you have had a long day's work: but I suppose
it will take a week to finish?"

"I am to go again to-morrow morning, sir: two days more will conclude the
task."

"There's a letter for you," cried Mrs. Plaskwith; "you owes me for it."

"A letter!" It was not his mother's hand--it was a strange writing--he
gasped for breath as he broke the seal. It was the letter of the
physician.

His mother, then, was ill-dying-wanting, perhaps, the necessaries of
life. She would have concealed from him her illness and her poverty. His
quick alarm exaggerated the last into utter want;--he uttered a cry that
rang through the shop, and rushed to Mr. Plaskwith.

"Sir, sir! my mother is dying! She is poor, poor, perhaps
starving;--money, money!--lend me money!--ten pounds!--five!--I will work
for you all my life for nothing, but lend me the money!"

"Hoity-toity!" said Mrs. Plaskwith, nudging her husband--"I told you what
would come of it: it will be 'money or life' next time."

Philip did not heed or hear this address; but stood immediately before
the bookseller, his hands clasped--wild impatience in his eyes. Mr.
Plaskwith, somewhat stupefied, remained silent.

"Do you hear me?--are you human?" exclaimed Philip, his emotion revealing
at once all the fire of his character. "I tell you my mother is dying; I
must go to her! Shall I go empty-handed! Give me money!"

Mr. Plaskwith was not a bad-hearted man; but he was a formal man, and an
irritable one. The tone his shopboy (for so he considered Philip) assumed
to him, before his own wife too (examples are very dangerous), rather
exasperated than moved him.

"That's not the way to speak to your master:--you forget yourself, young
man!"

"Forget!--But, sir, if she has not necessaries-if she is starving?"

"Fudge!" said Plaskwith. "Mr. Morton writes me word that he has provided
for your mother! Does he not, Hannah?"

"More fool he, I'm sure, with such a fine family of his own! Don't look
at me in that way, young man; I won't take it--that I won't! I declare my
blood friz to see you!"

"Will you advance me money?--five pounds--only five pounds, Mr.
Plaskwith?"

"Not five shillings! Talk to me in this style!--not the man for it,
sir!--highly improper. Come, shut up the shop, and recollect yourself;
and, perhaps, when Sir Thomas's library is done, I may let you go to
town. You can't go to-morrow. All a sham, perhaps; eh, Hannah?"

"Very likely! Consult Plimmins. Better come away now, Mr. P. He looks
like a young tiger."

Mrs. Plaskwith quitted the shop for the parlour. Her husband, putting his
hands behind his back, and throwing back his chin, was about to follow
her. Philip, who had remained for the last moment mute and white as
stone, turned abruptly; and his grief taking rather the tone of rage than
supplication, he threw himself before his master, and, laying his hand on
his shoulder, said:

"I leave you--do not let it be with a curse. I conjure you, have mercy on
me!"

Mr. Plaskwith stopped; and had Philip then taken but a milder tone, all
had been well. But, accustomed from childhood to command--all his fierce
passions loose within him--despising the very man he thus implored--the
boy ruined his own cause. Indignant at the silence of Mr. Plaskwith, and
too blinded by his emotions to see that in that silence there was
relenting, he suddenly shook the little man with a vehemence that almost
overset him, and cried:

"You, who demand for five years my bones and blood--my body and soul--a
slave to your vile trade--do you deny me bread for a mother's lips?"

Trembling with anger, and perhaps fear, Mr. Plaskwith extricated himself
from the gripe of Philip, and, hurrying from the shop, said, as he banged
the door:

"Beg my pardon for this to-night, or out you go to-morrow, neck and crop!
Zounds! a pretty pass the world's come to! I don't believe a word about
your mother. Baugh!"

Left alone, Philip remained for some moments struggling with his wrath
and agony. He then seized his hat, which he had thrown off on
entering--pressed it over his brows--turned to quit the shop--when his
eye fell upon the till. Plaskwith had left it open, and the gleam of the
coin struck his gaze--that deadly smile of the arch tempter. Intellect,
reason, conscience--all, in that instant, were confusion and chaos. He
cast a hurried glance round the solitary and darkening room--plunged his
hand into the drawer, clutched he knew not what--silver or gold, as it
came uppermost--and burst into a loud and bitter laugh. The laugh itself
startled him--it did not sound like his own. His face fell, and his knees
knocked together--his hair bristled--he felt as if the very fiend had
uttered that yell of joy over a fallen soul.

"No--no--no!" he muttered; "no, my mother,--not even for thee!" And,
dashing the money to the ground, he fled, like a maniac, from the house.

At a later hour that same evening, Mr. Robert Beaufort returned from his
country mansion to Berkeley Square. He found his wife very uneasy and
nervous about the non-appearance of their only son. Arthur had sent home
his groom and horses about seven o'clock, with a hurried scroll, written
in pencil on a blank page torn from his pocket-book, and containing only
these words,--

"Don't wait dinner for me--I may not be home for some hours. I have met
with a melancholy adventure. You will approve what I have done when we
meet."

This note a little perplexed Mr. Beaufort; but, as he was very hungry, he
turned a deaf ear both to his wife's conjectures and his own surmises,
till he had refreshed himself; and then he sent for the groom, and
learned that, after the accident to the blind man, Mr. Arthur had been
left at a hosier's in H----. This seemed to him extremely mysterious;
and, as hour after hour passed away, and still Arthur came not, he began
to imbibe his wife's fears, which were now wound up almost to hysterics;
and just at midnight he ordered his carriage, and taking with him the
groom as a guide, set off to the suburban region. Mrs. Beaufort had
wished to accompany him; but the husband observing that young men would
be young men, and that there might possibly be a lady in the case, Mrs.
Beaufort, after a pause of thought, passively agreed that, all things
considered, she had better remain at home. No lady of proper decorum
likes to run the risk of finding herself in a false position. Mr.
Beaufort accordingly set out alone. Easy was the carriage--swift were the
steeds--and luxuriously the wealthy man was whirled along. Not a
suspicion of the true cause of Arthur's detention crossed him; but he
thought of the snares of London--or artful females in distress; "a
melancholy adventure" generally implies love for the adventure, and money
for the melancholy; and Arthur was young--generous--with a heart and a
pocket equally open to imposition. Such scrapes, however, do not terrify
a father when he is a man of the world, so much as they do an anxious
mother; and, with more curiosity than alarm, Mr. Beaufort, after a short
doze, found himself before the shop indicated.

Notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, the door to the private
entrance was ajar,--a circumstance which seemed very suspicious to Mr.
Beaufort. He pushed it open with caution and timidity--a candle placed
upon a chair in the narrow passage threw a sickly light over the flight
of stairs, till swallowed up by the deep shadow from the sharp angle made
by the ascent. Robert Beaufort stood a moment in some doubt whether to
call, to knock, to recede, or to advance, when a step was heard upon the
stairs above--it came nearer and nearer--a figure emerged from the shadow
of the last landing-place, and Mr. Beaufort, to his great joy, recognised
his son.

Arthur did not, however, seem to perceive his father; and was about to
pass him, when Mr. Beaufort laid his hand on his arm.

"What means all this, Arthur? What place are you in? How you have alarmed
us!"

Arthur cast a look upon his father of sadness and reproach.

"Father," he said, in a tone that sounded stern--almost commanding--"I
will show you where I have been; follow me--nay, I say, follow."

He turned, without another word re-ascended the stairs; and Mr. Beaufort,
surprised and awed into mechanical obedience, did as his son desired. At
the landing-place of the second floor, another long-wicked, neglected,
ghastly candle emitted its cheerless ray. It gleamed through the open
door of a small bedroom to the left, through which Beaufort perceived the
forms of two women. One (it was the kindly maidservant) was seated on a
chair, and weeping bitterly; the other (it was a hireling nurse, in the
first and last day of her attendance) was unpinning her dingy shawl
before she lay down to take a nap. She turned her vacant, listless face
upon the two men, put on a doleful smile, and decently closed the door.

"Where are we, I say, Arthur?" repeated Mr. Beaufort. Arthur took his
father's hand-drew him into a room to the right--and taking up the
candle, placed it on a small table beside a bell, and said, "Here,
sir--in the presence of Death!"

Mr. Beaufort cast a hurried and fearful glance on the still, wan, serene
face beneath his eyes, and recognised in that glance the features of the
neglected and the once adored Catherine.

"Yes--she, whom your brother so loved--the mother of his children--died
in this squalid room, and far from her sons, in poverty, in sorrow! died
of a broken heart! Was that well, father? Have you in this nothing to
repent?"

Conscience-stricken and appalled, the worldly man sank down on a seat
beside the bed, and covered his face with his hands.

"Ay," continued Arthur, almost bitterly--"ay, we, his nearest of kin--we,
who have inherited his lands and gold--we have been thus heedless of the
great legacy your brother bequeathed to us:--the things dearest to
him--the woman he loved--the children his death cast, nameless and
branded, on the world. Ay, weep, father: and while you weep, think of the
future, of reparation. I have sworn to that clay to befriend her sons;
join you, who have all the power to fulfil the promise--join in that vow:
and may Heaven not visit on us both the woes of this bed of death!"

"I did not know--I--I--" faltered Mr. Beaufort.

"But we should have known," interrupted Arthur, mournfully. "Ah, my dear
father! do not harden your heart by false excuses. The dead still speaks
to you, and commends to your care her children. My task here is done: O
sir! yours is to come. I leave you alone with the dead."

So saying, the young man, whom the tragedy of the scene had worked into a
passion and a dignity above his usual character, unwilling to trust
himself farther to his emotions, turned abruptly from the room, fled
rapidly down the stairs and left the house. As the carriage and liveries
of his father met his eye, he groaned; for their evidences of comfort and
wealth seemed a mockery to the deceased: he averted his face and walked
on. Nor did he heed or even perceive a form that at that instant rushed
by him--pale, haggard, breathless--towards the house which he had
quitted, and the door of which he left open, as he had found it--open, as
the physician had left it when hurrying, ten minutes before the arrival
of Mr. Beaufort, from the spot where his skill was impotent. Wrapped in
gloomy thought, alone, and on foot-at that dreary hour, and in that
remote suburb--the heir of the Beauforts sought his splendid home.
Anxious, fearful, hoping, the outcast orphan flew on to the death-room of
his mother.

Mr. Beaufort, who had but imperfectly heard Arthur's parting accents,
lost and bewildered by the strangeness of his situation, did not at first
perceive that he was left alone. Surprised, and chilled by the sudden
silence of the chamber, he rose, withdrew his hands from his face, and
again he saw that countenance so mute and solemn. He cast his gaze round
the dismal room for Arthur; he called his name--no answer came; a
superstitious tremor seized upon him; his limbs shook; he sank once more
on his seat, and closed his eyes: muttering, for the first time, perhaps,
since his childhood, words of penitence and prayer. He was roused from
this bitter self-abstraction by a deep groan. It seemed to come from the
bed. Did his ears deceive him? Had the dead found a voice? He started up
in an agony of dread, and saw opposite to him the livid countenance of
Philip Morton: the Son of the Corpse had replaced the Son of the Living
Man! The dim and solitary light fell upon that countenance. There, all
the bloom and freshness natural to youth seemed blasted! There, on those
wasted features, played all the terrible power and glare of precocious
passions,--rage, woe, scorn, despair. Terrible is it to see upon the face
of a boy the storm and whirlwind that should visit only the strong heart
of man!

"She is dead!--dead! and in your presence!" shouted Philip, with his wild
eyes fixed upon the cowering uncle; "dead with--care, perhaps with
famine. And you have come to look upon your work!"

"Indeed," said Beaufort, deprecatingly, "I have but just arrived: I did
not know she had been ill, or in want, upon my honour. This is all
a--a--mistake: I--I--came in search of--of--another--"

"You did not, then, come to relieve her?" said Philip, very calmly. "You
had not learned her suffering and distress, and flown hither in the hope
that there was yet time to save her? You did not do this? Ha! ha!--why
did I think it?"

"Did any one call, gentlemen?" said a whining voice at the door; and the
nurse put in her head.

"Yes--yes--you may come in," said Beaufort, shaking with nameless and
cowardly apprehension; but Philip had flown to the door, and, gazing on
the nurse, said,

"She is a stranger! see, a stranger! The son now has assumed his post.
Begone, woman!" And he pushed her away, and drew the bolt across the
door.

And then there looked upon him, as there had looked upon his reluctant
companion, calm and holy, the face of the peaceful corpse. He burst into
tears, and fell on his knees so close to Beaufort that he touched him; he
took up the heavy hand, and covered it with burning kisses.

"Mother! mother! do not leave me! wake, smile once more on your son! I
would have brought you money, but I could not have asked for your
blessing, then; mother, I ask it now!"

"If I had but known--if you had but written to me, my dear young
gentleman--but my offers had been refused, and--"

"Offers of a hireling's pittance to her; to her for whom my father would
have coined his heart's blood into gold! My father's wife!--his
wife!--offers--"

He rose suddenly, folded his arms, and facing Beaufort, with a fierce
determined brow, said:

"Mark me, you hold the wealth that I was trained from my cradle to
consider my heritage. I have worked with these hands for bread, and never
complained, except to my own heart and soul. I never hated, and never
cursed you--robber as you were--yes, robber! For, even were there no
marriage save in the sight of God, neither my father, nor Nature, nor
Heaven, meant that you should seize all, and that there should be nothing
due to the claims of affection and blood. He was not the less my father,
even if the Church spoke not on my side. Despoiler of the orphan, and
derider of human love, you are not the less a robber though the law
fences you round, and men call you honest! But I did not hate you for
this. Now, in the presence of my dead mother--dead, far from both her
sons--now I abhor and curse you. You may think yourself safe when you
quit this room-safe, and from my hatred you may be so but do not deceive
yourself. The curse of the widow and the orphan shall pursue--it shall
cling to you and yours--it shall gnaw your heart in the midst of
splendour--it shall cleave to the heritage of your son! There shall be a
deathbed yet, beside which you shall see the spectre of her, now so calm,
rising for retribution from the grave! These words--no, you never shall
forget them--years hence they shall ring in your ears, and freeze the
marrow of your bones! And now begone, my father's brother--begone from my
mother's corpse to your luxurious home!"

He opened the door, and pointed to the stairs. Beaufort, without a word,
turned from the room and departed. He heard the door closed and locked as
he descended the stairs; but he did not hear the deep groans and vehement
sobs in which the desolate orphan gave vent to the anguish which
succeeded to the less sacred paroxysm of revenge and wrath.




BOOK II.




CHAPTER I.

        "Incubo. Look to the cavalier. What ails he?
           .   .   .   .   .
        Hostess. And in such good clothes, too!"
            BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER: Love's Pilgrimage.

   "Theod. I have a brother--there my last hope!.
       Thus as you find me, without fear or wisdom,
       I now am only child of Hope and Danger."--Ibid.

The time employed by Mr. Beaufort in reaching his home was haunted by
gloomy and confused terrors. He felt inexplicably as if the denunciations
of Philip were to visit less himself than his son. He trembled at the
thought of Arthur meeting this strange, wild, exasperated
scatterling--perhaps on the morrow--in the very height of his passions.
And yet, after the scene between Arthur and himself, he saw cause to fear
that he might not be able to exercise a sufficient authority over his
son, however naturally facile and obedient, to prevent his return to the
house of death. In this dilemma he resolved, as is usual with cleverer
men, even when yoked to yet feebler helpmates, to hear if his wife had
anything comforting or sensible to say upon the subject. Accordingly, on
reaching Berkeley Square, he went straight to Mrs. Beaufort; and having
relieved her mind as to Arthur's safety, related the scene in which he
had been so unwilling an actor. With that more lively susceptibility
which belongs to most women, however comparatively unfeeling, Mrs.
Beaufort made greater allowance than her husband for the excitement
Philip had betrayed. Still Beaufort's description of the dark menaces,
the fierce countenance, the brigand-like form, of the bereaved son, gave
her very considerable apprehensions for Arthur, should the young men
meet; and she willingly coincided with her husband in the propriety of
using all means of parental persuasion or command to guard against such
an encounter. But, in the meanwhile, Arthur returned not, and new fears
seized the anxious parents. He had gone forth alone, in a remote suburb
of the metropolis, at a late hour, himself under strong excitement. He
might have returned to the house, or have lost his way amidst some dark
haunts of violence and crime; they knew not where to send, or what to
suggest. Day already began to dawn, and still he came not. A length,
towards five o'clock, a loud rap was heard at the door, and Mr. Beaufort,
hearing some bustle in the hall, descended. He saw his son borne into the
hall from a hackney-coach by two strangers, pale, bleeding, and
apparently insensible. His first thought was that he had been murdered by
Philip. He uttered a feeble cry, and sank down beside his son.

"Don't be darnted, sir," said one of the strangers, who seemed an
artisan; "I don't think he be much hurt. You sees he was crossing the
street, and the coach ran against him; but it did not go over his head;
it be only the stones that makes him bleed so: and that's a mercy."

"A providence, sir," said the other man; "but Providence watches over us
all, night and day, sleep or wake. Hem! We were passing at the time from
the meeting--the Odd Fellows, sir--and so we took him, and got him a
coach; for we found his card in his pocket. He could not speak just then;
but the rattling of the coach did him a deal of good, for he groaned--my
eyes! how he groaned! did he not, Burrows?"

"It did one's heart good to hear him."

"Run for Astley Cooper--you--go to Brodie. Good Heavens! he is dying. Be
quick--quick!" cried Mr. Beaufort to his servants, while Mrs. Beaufort,
who had now gained the spot, with greater presence of mind had Arthur
conveyed into a room.

"It is a judgment upon me," groaned Beaufort, rooted to the stone of his
hall, and left alone with the strangers. "No, sir, it is not a judgment,
it is a providence," said the more sanctimonious and better dressed of
the two men "for, put the question, if it had been a judgment, the wheel
would have gone over him--but it didn't; and, whether he dies or not, I
shall always say that if that's not a providence, I don't know what is.
We have come a long way, sir; and Burrows is a poor man, though I'm well
to do."

This hint for money restored Beaufort to his recollection; he put his
purse into the nearest hand outstretched to clutch it, and muttered forth
something like thanks.

"Sir, may the Lord bless you! and I hope the young gentleman will do
well. I am sure you have cause to be thankful that he was within an inch
of the wheel; was he not, Burrows? Well, it's enough to convert a
heathen. But the ways of Providence are mysterious, and that's the truth
of it. Good night, sir."

Certainly it did seem as if the curse of Philip was already at its work.
An accident almost similar to that which, in the adventure of the blind
man, had led Arthur to the clue of Catherine, within twenty-four hours
stretched Arthur himself upon his bed. The sorrow Mr. Beaufort had not
relieved was now at his own hearth. But there were parents and nurses,
and great physicians, and skilful surgeons, and all the army that combine
against Death, and there were ease, and luxury, and kind eyes, and
pitying looks, and all that can take the sting from pain. And thus, the
very night on which Catherine had died, broken down, and worn out, upon a
strange breast, with a feeless doctor, and by the ray of a single candle,
the heir to the fortunes once destined to her son wrestled also with the
grim Tyrant, who seemed, however, scared from his prey by the arts and
luxuries which the world of rich men raises up in defiance of the grave.

Arthur, was, indeed, very seriously injured; one of his ribs was broken,
and he had received two severe contusions on the head. To insensibility
succeeded fever, followed by delirium. He was in imminent danger for
several days. If anything could console his parents for such an
affliction, it was the thought that, at least, he was saved from the
chance of meeting Philip.

Mr. Beaufort, in the instinct of that capricious and fluctuating
conscience which belongs to weak minds, which remains still, and
drooping, and lifeless, as a flag on a masthead during the calm of
prosperity, but flutters, and flaps, and tosses when the wind blows and
the wave heaves, thought very acutely and remorsefully of the condition
of the Mortons, during the danger of his own son. So far, indeed, from
his anxiety for Arthur monopolising all his care, it only sharpened his
charity towards the orphans; for many a man becomes devout and good when
he fancies he has an Immediate interest in appeasing Providence. The
morning after Arthur's accident, he sent for Mr. Blackwell. He
commissioned him to see that Catherine's funeral rites were performed
with all due care and attention; he bade him obtain an interview with
Philip, and assure the youth of Mr. Beaufort's good and friendly
disposition towards him, and to offer to forward his views in any course
of education he might prefer, or any profession he might adopt; and he
earnestly counselled the lawyer to employ all his tact and delicacy in
conferring with one of so proud and fiery a temper. Mr. Blackwell,
however, had no tact or delicacy to employ: he went to the house of
mourning, forced his way to Philip, and the very exordium of his
harangue, which was devoted to praises of the extraordinary generosity
and benevolence of his employer, mingled with condescending admonitions
towards gratitude from Philip, so exasperated the boy, that Mr. Blackwell
was extremely glad to get out of the house with a whole skin. He,
however, did not neglect the more formal part of his mission; but
communicated immediately with a fashionable undertaker, and gave orders
for a very genteel funeral. He thought after the funeral that Philip
would be in a less excited state of mind, and more likely to hear reason;
he, therefore, deferred a second interview with the orphan till after
that event; and, in the meanwhile, despatched a letter to Mr. Beaufort,
stating that he had attended to his instructions; that the orders for the
funeral were given; but that at present Mr. Philip Morton's mind was a
little disordered, and that he could not calmly discuss the plans for the
future suggested by Mr. Beaufort. He did not doubt, however, that in
another interview all would be arranged according to the wishes his
client had so nobly conveyed to him. Mr. Beaufort's conscience on this
point was therefore set at rest. It was a dull, close, oppressive
morning, upon which the remains of Catherine Morton were consigned to the
grave. With the preparations for the funeral Philip did not interfere; he
did not inquire by whose orders all that solemnity of mutes, and coaches,
and black plumes, and crape bands, was appointed. If his vague and
undeveloped conjecture ascribed this last and vain attention to Robert
Beaufort, it neither lessened the sullen resentment he felt against his
uncle, nor, on the other hand, did he conceive that he had a right to
forbid respect to the dead, though he might reject service for the
survivor. Since Mr. Blackwell's visit, he had remained in a sort of
apathy or torpor, which seemed to the people of the house to partake
rather of indifference than woe.

The funeral was over, and Philip had returned to the apartments occupied
by the deceased; and now, for the first time, he set himself to examine
what papers, &c., she had left behind. In an old escritoire, he found,
first, various packets of letters in his father's handwriting, the
characters in many of them faded by time. He opened a few; they were the
earliest love-letters. He did not dare to read above a few lines; so much
did their living tenderness, and breathing, frank, hearty passion,
contrast with the fate of the adored one. In those letters, the very
heart of the writer seemed to beat! Now both hearts alike were stilled!
And GHOST called vainly unto GHOST!

He came, at length, to a letter in his mother's hand, addressed to
himself, and dated two days before her death. He went to the window and
gasped in the mists of the sultry air for breath. Below were heard the
noises of London; the shrill cries of itinerant vendors, the rolling
carts, the whoop of boys returned for a while from school. Amidst all
these rose one loud, merry peal of laughter, which drew his attention
mechanically to the spot whence it came; it was at the threshold of a
public-house, before which stood the hearse that had conveyed his
mother's coffin, and the gay undertakers, halting there to refresh
themselves. He closed the window with a groan, retired to the farthest
corner of the room, and read as follows:

"MY DEAREST PHILIP,--When you read this, I shall be no more. You and poor
Sidney will have neither father nor mother, nor fortune, nor name. Heaven
is more just than man, and in Heaven is my hope for you. You, Philip, are
already past childhood; your nature is one formed, I think, to wrestle
successfully with the world. Guard against your own passions, and you may
bid defiance to the obstacles that will beset your path in life. And
lately, in our reverses, Philip, you have so subdued those passions, so
schooled the pride and impetuosity of your childhood, that I have
contemplated your prospects with less fear than I used to do, even when
they seemed so brilliant. Forgive me, my dear child, if I have concealed
from you my state of health, and if my death be a sudden and unlooked-for
shock. Do not grieve for me too long. For myself, my release is indeed
escape from the prison-house and the chain--from bodily pain and mental
torture, which may, I fondly hope, prove some expiation for the errors of
a happier time. For I did err, when, even from the least selfish motives,
I suffered my union with your father to remain concealed, and thus ruined
the hopes of those who had rights upon me equal even to his. But, O
Philip! beware of the first false steps into deceit; beware, too, of the
passions, which do not betray their fruit till years and years after the
leaves that look so green and the blossoms that seem so fair.

"I repeat my solemn injunction--Do not grieve for me; but strengthen your
mind and heart to receive the charge that I now confide to you--my
Sidney, my child, your brother! He is so soft, so gentle, he has been so
dependent for very life upon me, and we are parted now for the first and
last time. He is with strangers; and--and--O Philip, Philip! watch over
him for the love you bear, not only to him, but to me! Be to him a father
as well as a brother. Put your stout heart against the world, so that you
may screen him, the weak child, from its malice. He has not your talents
nor strength of character; without you he is nothing. Live, toil, rise
for his sake not less than your own. If you knew how this heart beats as
I write to you, if you could conceive what comfort I take for him from my
confidence in you, you would feel a new spirit--my spirit--my
mother-spirit of love, and forethought, and vigilance, enter into you
while you read. See him when I am gone--comfort and soothe him. Happily
he is too young yet to know all his loss; and do not let him think
unkindly of me in the days to come, for he is a child now, and they may
poison his mind against me more easily than they can yours. Think, if he
is unhappy hereafter, he may forget how I loved him, he may curse those
who gave him birth. Forgive me all this, Philip, my son, and heed it
well.

"And now, where you find this letter, you will see a key; it opens a well
in the bureau in which I have hoarded my little savings. You will see
that I have not died in poverty. Take what there is; young as you are,
you may want it more now than hereafter. But hold it in trust for your
brother as well as yourself. If he is harshly treated (and you will go
and see him, and you will remember that he would writhe under what you
might scarcely feel), or if they overtask him (he is so young to work),
yet it may find him a home near you. God watch over and guard you both!
You are orphans now. But HE has told even the orphans to call him
'Father!'"

When he had read this letter, Philip Morton fell upon his knees, and
prayed.




CHAPTER II.

     "His curse! Dost comprehend what that word means?
     Shot from a father's angry breath."
     JAMES SHIRLEY: The Brothers.

     "This term is fatal, and affrights me."--Ibid.

     "Those fond philosophers that magnify
     Our human nature . . . . . .
     Conversed but little with the world-they knew not
     The fierce vexation of community!"--Ibid.

After he had recovered his self-possession, Philip opened the well of the
bureau, and was astonished and affected to find that Catherine had saved
more than L100. Alas! how much must she have pinched herself to have
hoarded this little treasure! After burning his father's love-letters,
and some other papers, which he deemed useless, he made up a little
bundle of those trifling effects belonging to the deceased, which he
valued as memorials and relies of her, quitted the apartment, and
descended to the parlour behind the shop. On the way he met with the kind
servant, and recalling the grief that she had manifested for his mother
since he had been in the house, he placed two sovereigns in her hand.
"And now," said he, as the servant wept while he spoke, "now I can bear
to ask you what I have not before done. How did my poor mother die? Did
she suffer much?--or--or--"

"She went off like a lamb, sir," said the girl, drying her eyes. "You see
the gentleman had been with her all the day, and she was much more easy
and comfortable in her mind after he came."

"The gentleman! Not the gentleman I found here?"

"Oh, dear no! Not the pale middle-aged gentleman nurse and I saw go down
as the clock struck two. But the young, soft-spoken gentleman who came in
the morning, and said as how he was a relation. He stayed with her till
she slept; and, when she woke, she smiled in his face--I shall never
forget that smile--for I was standing on the other side, as it might be
here, and the doctor was by the window, pouring out the doctor's stuff in
the glass; and so she looked on the young gentleman, and then looked
round at us all, and shook her head very gently, but did not speak. And
the gentleman asked her how she felt, and she took both his hands and
kissed them; and then he put his arms round and raised her up to take the
physic like, and she said then, 'You will never forget them?' and he
said, 'Never.' I don't know what that meant, sir!"

"Well, well--go on."

"And her head fell back on his buzzom, and she looked so happy; and, when
the doctor came to the bedside, she was quite gone."

"And the stranger had my post! No matter; God bless him--God bless him.
Who was he? what was his name?"

"I don't know, sir; he did not say. He stayed after the doctor went, and
cried very bitterly; he took on more than you did, sir."

"And the other gentleman came just as he was a-going, and they did not
seem to like each other; for I heard him through the wall, as nurse and I
were in the next room, speak as if he was scolding; but he did not stay
long."

"And has never been seen since?"

"No, sir. Perhaps missus can tell you more about him. But won't you take
something, sir? Do--you look so pale."

Philip, without speaking, pushed her gently aside, and went slowly down
the stairs. He entered the parlour, where two or three children were
seated, playing at dominoes; he despatched one for their mother, the
mistress of the shop, who came in, and dropped him a courtesy, with a
very grave, sad face, as was proper.

"I am going to leave your house, ma'am; and I wish to settle any little
arrears of rent, &c."

"O sir! don't mention it," said the landlady; and, as she spoke, she took
a piece of paper from her bosom, very neatly folded, and laid it on the
table. "And here, sir," she added, taking from the same depository a
card,--"here is the card left by the gentleman who saw to the funeral. He
called half an hour ago, and bade me say, with his compliments, that he
would wait on you to-morrow at eleven o'clock. So I hope you won't go
yet: for I think he means to settle everything for you; he said as much,
sir."

Philip glanced over the card, and read, "Mr. George Blackwell, Lincoln's
Inn." His brow grew dark--he let the card fall on the ground, put his
foot on it with a quiet scorn, and muttered to himself, "The lawyer shall
not bribe me out of my curse!" He turned to the total of the bill--not
heavy, for poor Catherine had regularly defrayed the expense of her
scanty maintenance and humble lodging--paid the money, and, as the
landlady wrote the receipt, he asked, "Who was the gentleman--the younger
gentleman--who called in the morning of the day my mother died?"

"Oh, sir! I am so sorry I did not get his name. Mr. Perkins said that he
was some relation. Very odd he has never been since. But he'll be sure to
call again, sir; you had much better stay here."

"No: it does not signify. All that he could do is done. But stay, give
him this note, if she should call."

Philip, taking the pen from the landlady's hand, hastily wrote (while
Mrs. Lacy went to bring him sealing-wax and a light) these words:

"I cannot guess who you are: they say that you call yourself a relation;
that must be some mistake. I knew not that my poor mother had relations
so kind. But, whoever you be, you soothed her last hours--she died in
your arms; and if ever--years, long years hence--we should chance to
meet, and I can do anything to aid another, my blood, and my life, and my
heart, and my soul, all are slaves to your will. If you be really of her
kindred, I commend to you my brother: he is at ----, with Mr. Morton. If
you can serve him, my mother's soul will watch over you as a guardian
angel. As for me, I ask no help from any one: I go into the world and
will carve out my own way. So much do I shrink from the thought of
charity from others, that I do not believe I could bless you as I do now
if your kindness to me did not close with the stone upon my mother's
grave. PHILIP."

He sealed this letter, and gave it to the woman.

"Oh, by the by," said she, "I had forgot; the Doctor said that if you
would send for him, he would be most happy to call on you, and give you
any advice."

"Very well."

"And what shall I say to Mr. Blackwell?"

"That he may tell his employer to remember our last interview."

With that Philip took up his bundle and strode from the house. He went
first to the churchyard, where his mother's remains had been that day
interred. It was near at hand, a quiet, almost a rural, spot. The gate
stood ajar, for there was a public path through the churchyard, and
Philip entered with a noiseless tread. It was then near evening; the sun
had broken out from the mists of the earlier day, and the wistering rays
shone bright and holy upon the solemn place.

"Mother! mother!" sobbed the orphan, as he fell prostrate before that
fresh green mound: "here--here I have come to repeat my oath, to swear
again that I will be faithful to the charge you have entrusted to your
wretched son! And at this hour I dare ask if there be on this earth one
more miserable and forlorn?"

As words to this effect struggled from his lips, a loud, shrill
voice--the cracked, painful voice of weak age wrestling with strong
passion, rose close at hand.

"Away, reprobate! thou art accursed!"

Philip started, and shuddered as if the words were addressed to himself,
and from the grave. But, as he rose on his knee, and tossing the wild
hair from his eyes, looked confusedly round, he saw, at a short distance,
and in the shadow of the wall, two forms; the one, an old man with grey
hair, who was seated on a crumbling wooden tomb, facing the setting sun;
the other, a man apparently yet in the vigour of life, who appeared bent
as in humble supplication. The old man's hands were outstretched over the
head of the younger, as if suiting terrible action to the terrible words,
and, after a moment's pause--a moment, but it seemed far longer to
Philip--there was heard a deep, wild, ghastly howl from a dog that
cowered at the old man's feet; a howl, perhaps of fear at the passion of
his master, which the animal might associate with danger.

"Father! father!" said the suppliant reproachfully, "your very dog
rebukes your curse."

"Be dumb! My dog! What hast thou left me on earth but him? Thou hast made
me loathe the sight of friends, for thou hast made me loathe mine own
name. Thou hast covered it with disgrace,--thou hast turned mine old age
into a by-word,--thy crimes leave me solitary in the midst of my shame!"

"It is many years since we met, father; we may never meet again--shall we
part thus?"

"Thus, aha!" said the old man in a tone of withering sarcasm! "I
comprehend,--you are come for money!"

At this taunt the son started as if stung by a serpent; raised his head
to its full height, folded his arms, and replied:

"Sir, you wrong me: for more than twenty years I have maintained
myself--no matter how, but without taxing you;--and now, I felt remorse
for having suffered you to discard me,--now, when you are old and
helpless, and, I heard, blind: and you might want aid, even from your
poor good-for-nothing son. But I have done. Forget,--not my sins, but
this interview. Repeal your curse, father; I have enough on my head
without yours; and so--let the son at least bless the father who curses
him. Farewell!"

The speaker turned as he thus said, with a voice that trembled at the
close, and brushed rapidly by Philip, whom he did not, however, appear to
perceive; but Philip, by the last red beam of the sun, saw again that
marked storm-beaten face which it was difficult, once seen, to forget,
and recognised the stranger on whose breast he had slept the night of his
fatal visit to R----.

The old man's imperfect vision did not detect the departure of his son,
but his face changed and softened as the latter strode silently through
the rank grass.

"William!" he said at last, gently; "William!" and the tears rolled down
his furrowed cheeks; "my son!" but that son was gone--the old man
listened for reply--none came. "He has left me--poor William!--we shall
never meet again;" and he sank once more on the old tombstone, dumb,
rigid, motionless--an image of Time himself in his own domain of Graves.
The dog crept closer to his master, and licked his hand. Philip stood for
a moment in thoughtful silence: his exclamation of despair had been
answered as by his better angel. There was a being more miserable than
himself; and the Accursed would have envied the Bereaved!

The twilight had closed in; the earliest star--the star of Memory and
Love, the Hesperus hymned by every poet since the world began--was fair
in the arch of heaven, as Philip quitted the spot, with a spirit more
reconciled to the future, more softened, chastened, attuned to gentle and
pious thoughts than perhaps ever yet had made his soul dominant over the
deep and dark tide of his gloomy passions. He went thence to a
neighbouring sculptor, and paid beforehand for a plain tablet to be
placed above the grave he had left. He had just quitted that shop, in the
same street, not many doors removed from the house in which his mother
had breathed her last. He was pausing by a crossing, irresolute whether
to repair at once to the home assigned to Sidney, or to seek some shelter
in town for that night, when three men who were on the opposite side of
the way suddenly caught sight of him.

"There he is--there he is! Stop, sir!--stop!"

Philip heard these words, looked up, and recognised the voice and the
person of Mr. Plaskwith; the bookseller was accompanied by Mr. Plimmins,
and a sturdy, ill-favoured stranger.

A nameless feeling of fear, rage, and disgust seized the unhappy boy, and
at the same moment a ragged vagabond whispered to him, "Stump it, my
cove; that's a Bow Street runner."

Then there shot through Philip's mind the recollection of the money he
had seized, though but to dash away; was he now--he, still to his own
conviction, the heir of an ancient and spotless name--to be hunted as a
thief; or, at the best, what right over his person and his liberty had he
given to his taskmaster? Ignorant of the law--the law only seemed to him,
as it ever does to the ignorant and the friendless--a Foe. Quicker than
lightning these thoughts, which it takes so many words to describe,
flashed through the storm and darkness of his breast; and at the very
instant that Mr. Plimmins had laid hands on his shoulder his resolution
was formed. The instinct of self beat loud at his heart. With a bound--a
spring that sent Mr. Plimmins sprawling in the kennel, he darted across
the road, and fled down an opposite lane.

"Stop him! stop!" cried the bookseller, and the officer rushed after him
with almost equal speed. Lane after lane, alley after alley, fled Philip;
dodging, winding, breathless, panting; and lane after lane, and alley
after alley, thickened at his heels the crowd that pursued. The idle and
the curious, and the officious,--ragged boys, ragged men, from stall and
from cellar, from corner and from crossing, joined in that delicious
chase, which runs down young Error till it sinks, too often, at the door
of the gaol or the foot of the gallows. But Philip slackened not his
pace; he began to distance his pursuers. He was now in a street which
they had not yet entered--a quiet street, with few, if any, shops. Before
the threshold of a better kind of public-house, or rather tavern, to
judge by its appearance, lounged two men; and while Philip flew on, the
cry of "Stop him!" had changed as the shout passed to new voices, into
"Stop the thief!"--that cry yet howled in the distance. One of the
loungers seized him: Philip, desperate and ferocious, struck at him with
all his force; but the blow was scarcely felt by that Herculean frame.

"Pish!" said the man, scornfully; "I am no spy; if you run from justice,
I would help you to a sign-post."

Struck by the voice, Philip looked hard at the speaker. It was the voice
of the Accursed Son.

"Save me! you remember me?" said the orphan, faintly. "Ah! I think I do;
poor lad! Follow me-this way!" The stranger turned within the tavern,
passed the hall through a sort of corridor that led into a back yard
which opened upon a nest of courts or passages.

"You are safe for the present; I will take you where you can tell me all
at your ease--See!" As he spoke they emerged into an open street, and the
guide pointed to a row of hackney coaches. "Be quick--get in. Coachman,
drive fast to ---"

Philip did not hear the rest of the direction.

Our story returns to Sidney.




CHAPTER III.

        "Nous vous mettrons a couvert,
        Repondit le pot de fer
        Si quelque matiere dure
        Vous menace d'aventure,
        Entre deux je passerai,
        Et du coup vous sauverai.
          . . . . . . . .
        Le pot de terre en souffre!"--LA FONTAINE.

   ["We, replied the Iron Pot, will shield you: should any hard
   substance menace you with danger, I'll intervene, and save you
   from the shock.
   . . . . . . . . . The Earthen Pot was the sufferer!]

"SIDNEY, come here, sir! What have you been at? you have torn your frill
into tatters! How did you do this? Come sir, no lies."

"Indeed, ma'am, it was not my fault. I just put my head out of the window
to see the coach go by, and a nail caught me here."

"Why, you little plague! you have scratched yourself--you are always in
mischief. What business had you to look after the coach?"

"I don't know," said Sidney, hanging his head ruefully. "La, mother!"
cried the youngest of the cousins, a square-built, ruddy, coarse-featured
urchin, about Sidney's age, "La, mother, he never see a coach in the
street when we are at play but he runs arter it."

"After, not arter," said Mr. Roger Morton, taking the pipe from his
mouth.

"Why do you go after the coaches, Sidney?" said Mrs. Morton; "it is very
naughty; you will be run over some day."

"Yes, ma'am," said Sidney, who during the whole colloquy had been
trembling from bead to foot.

"'Yes ma'am,' and 'no, ma'am:' you have no more manners than a cobbler's
boy."

"Don't tease the child, my dear; he is crying," said Mr. Morton, more
authoritatively than usual. "Come here, my man!" and the worthy uncle
took him in his lap and held his glass of brandy-and-water to his lips;
Sidney, too frightened to refuse, sipped hurriedly, keeping his large
eyes fixed on his aunt, as children do when they fear a cuff.

"You spoil the boy more than do your own flesh and blood," said Mrs.
Morton, greatly displeased.

Here Tom, the youngest-born before described, put his mouth to his
mother's ear, and whispered loud enough to be heard by all: "He runs
arter the coach 'cause he thinks his ma may be in it. Who's home-sick, I
should like to know? Ba! Baa!"

The boy pointed his finger over his mother's shoulder, and the other
children burst into a loud giggle.

"Leave the room, all of you,--leave the room!" said Mr. Morton, rising
angrily and stamping his foot.

The children, who were in great awe of their father, huddled and hustled
each other to the door; but Tom, who went last, bold in his mother's
favour, popped his head through the doorway, and cried, "Good-bye, little
home-sick!"

A sudden slap in the face from his father changed his chuckle into a very
different kind of music, and a loud indignant sob was heard without for
some moments after the door was closed.

"If that's the way you behave to your children, Mr. Morton, I vow you
sha'n't have any more if I can help it. Don't come near me--don't touch
me!" and Mrs. Morton assumed the resentful air of offended beauty.

"Pshaw!" growled the spouse, and he reseated himself and resumed his
pipe. There was a dead silence. Sidney crouched near his uncle, looking
very pale. Mrs. Morton, who was knitting, knitted away with the excited
energy of nervous irritation.

"Ring the bell, Sidney," said Mr. Morton. The boy obeyed-the parlour-maid
entered. "Take Master Sidney to his room; keep the boys away from him,
and give him a large slice of bread and jam, Martha."

"Jam, indeed!--treacle," said Mrs. Morton.

"Jam, Martha," repeated the uncle, authoritatively. "Treacle!" reiterated
the aunt.

"Jam, I say!"

"Treacle, you hear: and for that matter, Martha has no jam to give!"

The husband had nothing more to say.

"Good night, Sidney; there's a good boy, go and kiss your aunt and make
your bow; and I say, my lad, don't mind those plagues. I'll talk to them
to-morrow, that I will; no one shall be unkind to you in my house."

Sidney muttered something, and went timidly up to Mrs. Morton. His look
so gentle and subdued; his eyes full of tears; his pretty mouth which,
though silent, pleaded so eloquently; his willingness to forgive, and his
wish to be forgiven, might have melted many a heart harder, perhaps, than
Mrs. Morton's. But there reigned what are worse than hardness,--prejudice
and wounded vanity--maternal vanity. His contrast to her own rough,
coarse children grated on her, and set the teeth of her mind on edge.

"There, child, don't tread on my gown: you are so awkward: say your
prayers, and don't throw off the counterpane! I don't like slovenly
boys."

Sidney put his finger in his mouth, drooped, and vanished.

"Now, Mrs. M.," said Mr. Morton, abruptly, and knocking out the ashes of
his pipe; "now Mrs. M., one word for all: I have told you that I promised
poor Catherine to be a father to that child, and it goes to my heart to
see him so snubbed. Why you dislike him I can't guess for the life of me.
I never saw a sweeter-tempered child."

"Go on, sir, go on: make your personal reflections on your own lawful
wife. They don't hurt me--oh no, not at all! Sweet-tempered, indeed; I
suppose your own children are not sweet-tempered?"

"That's neither here nor there," said Mr. Morton: "my own children are
such as God made them, and I am very well satisfied."

"Indeed you may be proud of such a family; and to think of the pains I
have taken with them, and how I have saved you in nurses, and the bad
times I have had; and now, to find their noses put out of joint by that
little mischief-making interloper--it is too bad of you, Mr. Morton; you
will break my heart--that you will!"

Mrs. Morton put her handkerchief to her eyes and sobbed. The husband was
moved: he got up and attempted to take her hand. "Indeed, Margaret, I did
not mean to vex you."

"And I who have been such a fa--fai--faithful wi--wi--wife, and brought
you such a deal of mon--mon--money, and always stud--stud--studied your
interests; many's the time when you have been fast asleep that I have sat
up half the night--men--men--mending the house linen; and you have not
been the same man, Roger, since that boy came!"

"Well, well" said the good man, quite overcome, and fairly taking her
round the waist and kissing her; "no words between us; it makes life
quite unpleasant. If it pains you to have Sidney here, I will put him to
some school in the town, where they'll be kind to him. Only, if you
would, Margaret, for my sake--old girl! come, now! there's a
darling!--just be more tender with him. You see he frets so after his
mother. Think how little Tom would fret if he was away from you! Poor
little Tom!"

"La! Mr. Morton, you are such a man!--there's no resisting your ways! You
know how to come over me, don't you?"

And Mrs. Morton smiled benignly, as she escaped from his conjugal arms
and smoothed her cap.

Peace thus restored, Mr. Morton refilled his pipe, and the good lady,
after a pause, resumed, in a very mild, conciliatory tone:

"I'll tell you what it is, Roger, that vexes me with that there child. He
is so deceitful, and he does tell such fibs!"

"Fibs! that is a very bad fault," said Mr. Morton, gravely. "That must be
corrected."

"It was but the other day that I saw him break a pane of glass in the
shop; and when I taxed him with it, he denied it;--and with such a face!
I can't abide storytelling."

"Let me know the next story he tells; I'll cure him," said Mr. Morton,
sternly. "You now how I broke Tom of it. Spare the rod, and spoil the
child. And where I promised to be kind to the boy, of course I did not
mean that I was not to take care of his morals, and see that he grew up
an honest man. Tell truth and shame the devil--that's my motto."

"Spoke like yourself, Roger," said Mrs. Morton, with great animation.
"But you see he has not had the advantage of such a father as you. I
wonder your sister don't write to you. Some people make a great fuss
about their feelings; but out of sight out of mind."

"I hope she is not ill. Poor Catherine! she looked in a very bad way when
she was here," said Morton; and he turned uneasily to the fireplace and
sighed.

Here the servant entered with the supper-tray, and the conversation fell
upon other topics.

Mrs. Roger Morton's charge against Sidney was, alas! too true. He had
acquired, under that roof, a terrible habit of telling stories. He had
never incurred that vice with his mother, because then and there he had
nothing to fear; now, he had everything to fear;--the grim aunt--even the
quiet, kind, cold, austere uncle--the apprentices--the strange
servants--and, oh! more than all, those hardeyed, loud-laughing
tormentors, the boys of his own age! Naturally timid, severity made him
actually a coward; and when the nerves tremble, a lie sounds as surely
as, when I vibrate that wire, the bell at the end of it will ring. Beware
of the man who has been roughly treated as a child.

The day after the conference just narrated, Mr. Morton, who was subject
to erysipelas, had taken a little cooling medicine. He breakfasted,
therefore, later than usual--after the rest of the family; and at this
meal pour lui soulager he ordered the luxury of a muffin. Now it so
chanced that he had only finished half the muffin, and drunk one cup of
tea, when he was called into the shop by a customer of great
importance--a prosy old lady, who always gave her orders with remarkable
precision, and who valued herself on a character for affability, which
she maintained by never buying a penny riband without asking the shopman
how all his family were, and talking news about every other family in the
place. At the time Mr. Morton left the parlour, Sidney and Master Tom
were therein, seated on two stools, and casting up division sums on their
respective slates--a point of education to which Mr. Morton attended with
great care. As soon as his father's back was turned, Master Tom's eyes
wandered from the slate to the muffin, as it leered at him from the
slop-basin. Never did Pythian sibyl, seated above the bubbling spring,
utter more oracular eloquence to her priest, than did that muffin--at
least the parts of it yet extant--utter to the fascinated senses of
Master Tom. First he sighed; then he moved round on his stool; then he
got up; then he peered at the muffin from a respectful distance; then he
gradually approached, and walked round, and round, and round it--his eyes
getting bigger and bigger; then he peeped through the glass-door into the
shop, and saw his father busily engaged with the old lady; then he began
to calculate and philosophise, perhaps his father had done breakfast;
perhaps he would not come back at all; if he came back, he would not miss
one corner of the muffin; and if he did miss it, why should Tom be
supposed to have taken it? As he thus communed with himself, he drew
nearer into the fatal vortex, and at last with a desperate plunge, he
seized the triangular temptation,--

     "And ere a man had power to say 'Behold!'
     The jaws of Thomas had devoured it up."

Sidney, disturbed from his studies by the agitation of his companion,
witnessed this proceeding with great and conscientious alarm. "O Tom!"
said he, "what will your papa say?"

"Look at that!" said Tom, putting his fist under Sidney's reluctant nose.
"If father misses it, you'll say the cat took it. If you don't--my eye,
what a wapping I'll give you!"

Here Mr. Morton's voice was heard wishing the lady "Good morning!" and
Master Tom, thinking it better to leave the credit of the invention
solely to Sidney, whispered, "Say I'm gone up stairs for my
pocket-hanker," and hastily absconded.

Mr. Morton, already in a very bad humour, partly at the effects of the
cooling medicine, partly at the suspension of his breakfast, stalked into
the parlour. His tea-the second cup already poured out, was cold. He
turned towards the muffin, and missed the lost piece at a glance.

"Who has been at my muffin?" said he, in a voice that seemed to Sidney
like the voice he had always supposed an ogre to possess. "Have you,
Master Sidney?"

"N--n--no, sir; indeed, sir!"

"Then Tom has. Where is he?"

"Gone up stairs for his handkerchief, sir."

"Did he take my muffin? Speak the truth!"

"No, sir; it was the--it was the--the cat, sir!"

"O you wicked, wicked boy!" cried Mrs. Morton, who had followed her
husband into the parlour; "the cat kittened last night, and is locked up
in the coal-cellar!"

"Come here, Master Sidney! No! first go down, Margaret, and see if the
cat is in the cellar: it might have got out, Mrs. M.," said Mr. Morton,
just even in his wrath.

Mrs. Morton went, and there was a dead silence, except indeed in Sidney's
heart, which beat louder than a clock ticks. Mr. Morton, meanwhile, went
to a little cupboard;--while still there, Mrs. Morton returned: the cat
was in the cellar--the key turned on her--in no mood to eat muffins, poor
thing!--she would not even lap her milk! like her mistress, she had had a
very bad time!

"Now come here, sir," said Mr. Morton, withdrawing himself from the
cupboard, with a small horsewhip in his hand, "I will teach you how to
speak the truth in future! Confess that you have told a lie!"

"Yes, sir, it was a lie! Pray--pray forgive me: but Tom made me!"

"What! when poor Tom is up-stairs? worse and worse!" said Mrs. Morton,
lifting up her hands and eyes. "What a viper!"

"For shame, boy,--for shame! Take that--and that--and that--"

Writhing--shrinking, still more terrified than hurt, the poor child
cowered beneath the lash.

"Mamma! mamma!" he cried at last, "Oh, why--why did you leave me?"

At these words Mr. Morton stayed his hand, the whip fell to the ground.

"Yet it is all for the boy's good," he muttered. "There, child, I hope
this is the last time. There, you are not much hurt. Zounds, don't cry
so!"

"He will alarm the whole street," said Mrs. Morton; "I never see such a
child! Here, take this parcel to Mrs. Birnie's--you know the house--only
next street, and dry your eyes before you get there. Don't go through the
shop; this way out."

She pushed the child, still sobbing with a vehemence that she could not
comprehend, through the private passage into the street, and returned to
her husband.

"You are convinced now, Mr. M.?"

"Pshaw! ma'am; don't talk. But, to be sure, that's how I cured Tom of
fibbing.--The tea's as cold as a stone!"




CHAPTER IV.

   "Le bien nous le faisons: le mal c'est la Fortune.
   On a toujours raison, le Destin toujours tort."--LA FONTAINE.

   [The Good, we effect ourselves; the Evil is the handiwork of
   Fortune. Mortals are always in the right, Destiny always in the
   wrong.]

Upon the early morning of the day commemorated by the historical events
of our last chapter, two men were deposited by a branch coach at the inn
of a hamlet about ten miles distant from the town in which Mr. Roger
Morton resided. Though the hamlet was small, the inn was large, for it
was placed close by a huge finger-post that pointed to three great roads:
one led to the town before mentioned; another to the heart of a
manufacturing district; and a third to a populous seaport. The weather
was fine, and the two travellers ordered breakfast to be taken into an
arbour in the garden, as well as the basins and towels necessary for
ablution. The elder of the travellers appeared to be unequivocally
foreign; you would have guessed him at once for a German. He wore, what
was then very uncommon in this country, a loose, brown linen blouse,
buttoned to the chin, with a leathern belt, into which were stuck a
German meerschaum and a tobacco-pouch. He had very long flaxen hair,
false or real, that streamed half-way down his back, large light
mustaches, and a rough, sunburnt complexion, which made the fairness of
the hair more remarkable. He wore an enormous pair of green spectacles,
and complained much in broken English of the weakness of his eyes. All
about him, even to the smallest minutiae, indicated the German; not only
the large muscular frame, the broad feet, and vast though well-shaped
hands, but the brooch--evidently purchased of a Jew in some great
fair--stuck ostentatiously and superfluously into his stock; the quaint,
droll-looking carpet-bag, which he refused to trust to the boots; and the
great, massive, dingy ring which he wore on his forefinger. The other was
a slender, remarkably upright and sinewy youth, in a blue frock, over
which was thrown a large cloak, a travelling cap, with a shade that
concealed all of the upper part of his face, except a dark quick eye of
uncommon fire; and a shawl handkerchief, which was equally useful in
concealing the lower part of the countenance. On descending from the
coach, the German with some difficulty made the ostler understand that he
wanted a post-chaise in a quarter of an hour; and then, without entering
the house, he and his friend strolled to the arbour. While the
maid-servant was covering the table with bread, butter, tea, eggs, and a
huge round of beef, the German was busy in washing his hands, and talking
in his national tongue to the young man, who returned no answer. But as
soon as the servant had completed her operations the foreigner turned
round, and observing her eyes fixed on his brooch with much female
admiration, he made one stride to her.

"Der Teufel, my goot Madchen--but you are von var pretty--vat you call
it?" and he gave her, as he spoke, so hearty a smack that the girl was
more flustered than flattered by the courtesy.

"Keep yourself to yourself, sir!" said she, very tartly, for chambermaids
never like to be kissed by a middle-aged gentleman when a younger one is
by: whereupon the German replied by a pinch,--it is immaterial to state
the exact spot to which that delicate caress was directed. But this last
offence was so inexpiable, that the "Madchen" bounced off with a face of
scarlet, and a "Sir, you are no gentleman--that's what you arn't!" The
German thrust his head out of the arbour, and followed her with a loud
laugh; then drawing himself in again, he said in quite another accent,
and in excellent English, "There, Master Philip, we have got rid of the
girl for the rest of the morning, and that's exactly what I wanted to
do--women's wits are confoundedly sharp. Well, did I not tell you right,
we have baffled all the bloodhounds!"

"And here, then, Gawtrey, we are to part," said Philip, mournfully.

"I wish you would think better of it, my boy," returned Mr. Gawtrey,
breaking an egg; "how can you shift for yourself--no kith nor kin, not
even that important machine for giving advice called a friend--no, not a
friend, when I am gone? I foresee how it must end. [D--- it, salt butter,
by Jove!]"

"If I were alone in the world, as I have told you again and again,
perhaps I might pin my fate to yours. But my brother!"

"There it is, always wrong when we act from our feelings. My whole life,
which some day or other I will tell you, proves that. Your brother--bah!
is he not very well off with his own uncle and aunt?--plenty to eat and
drink, I dare say. Come, man, you must be as hungry as a hawk--a slice of
the beef? Let well alone, and shift for yourself. What good can you do
your brother?"

"I don't know, but I must see him; I have sworn it."

"Well, go and see him, and then strike across the country to me. I will
wait a day for you,--there now!"

"But tell me first," said Philip, very earnestly, and fixing his dark
eyes on his companion,--"tell me--yes, I must speak frankly--tell me, you
who would link my fortunes with your own,--tell me, what and who are
you?"

Gawtrey looked up.

"What do you suppose?" said he, dryly.

"I fear to suppose anything, lest I wrong you; but the strange place to
which you took me the evening on which you saved me from pursuit, the
persons I met there--"

"Well-dressed, and very civil to you?"

"True! but with a certain wild looseness in their talk that--But I have
no right to judge others by mere appearance. Nor is it this that has made
me anxious, and, if you will, suspicious."

"What then?"

"Your dress-your disguise."

"Disguised yourself!--ha! ha! Behold the world's charity! You fly from
some danger, some pursuit, disguised--you, who hold yourself guiltless--I
do the same, and you hold me criminal--a robber, perhaps-a murderer it
may be! I will tell you what I am: I am a son of Fortune, an adventurer;
I live by my wits--so do poets and lawyers, and all the charlatans of the
world; I am a charlatan--a chameleon. 'Each man in his time plays many
parts:' I play any part in which Money, the Arch-Manager, promises me a
livelihood. Are you satisfied?"

"Perhaps," answered the boy, sadly, "when I know more of the world, I
shall understand you better. Strange--strange, that you, out of all men,
should have been kind to me in distress!"

"Not at all strange. Ask the beggar whom he gets the most pence from--the
fine lady in her carriage--the beau smelling of eau de Cologne? Pish! the
people nearest to being beggars themselves keep the beggar alive. You
were friendless, and the man who has all earth for a foe befriends you.
It is the way of the world, sir,--the way of the world. Come, eat while
you can; this time next year you may have no beef to your bread."

Thus masticating and moralising at the same time, Mr. Gawtrey at last
finished a breakfast that would have astonished the whole Corporation of
London; and then taking out a large old watch, with an enamelled
back--doubtless more German than its master--he said, as he lifted up his
carpet-bag, "I must be off--tempos fugit, and I must arrive just in time
to nick the vessels. Shall get to Ostend, or Rotterdam, safe and snug;
thence to Paris. How my pretty Fan will have grown! Ah, you don't know
Fan--make you a nice little wife one of these days! Cheer up, man, we
shall meet again. Be sure of it; and hark ye, that strange place, as you
call it, where I took you,--you can find it again?"

"Not I."

"Here, then, is the address. Whenever you want me, go there, ask to see
Mr. Gregg--old fellow with one eye, you recollect--shake him by the hand
just so--you catch the trick--practise it again. No, the forefinger thus,
that's right. Say 'blater,' no more--'blater;'--stay, I will write it
down for you; and then ask for William Gawtrey's direction. He will give
it you at once, without questions--these signs understood; and if you
want money for your passage, he will give you that also, with advice into
the bargain. Always a warm welcome with me. And so take care of yourself,
and good-bye. I see my chaise is at the door."

As he spoke, Gawtrey shook the young man's hand with cordial vigour, and
strode off to his chaise, muttering, "Money well laid out--fee money; I
shall have him, and, Gad, I like him,--poor devil!"




CHAPTER V.

   "He is a cunning coachman that can turn well in a narrow room."
   Old Play: from Lamb's Specimens.

   "Here are two pilgrims,
   And neither knows one footstep of the way."
   HEYWOOD's Duchess of Suffolk, Ibid.

The chaise had scarce driven from the inn-door when a coach stopped to
change horses on its last stage to the town to which Philip was, bound.
The name of the destination, in gilt letters on the coach-door, caught
his eye, as he walked from the arbour towards the road, and in a few
moments he was seated as the fourth passenger in the "Nelson Slow and
Sure." From under the shade of his cap, he darted that quick, quiet
glance, which a man who hunts, or is hunted,--in other words, who
observes, or shuns,--soon acquires. At his left hand sat a young woman in
a cloak lined with yellow; she had taken off her bonnet and pinned it to
the roof of the coach, and looked fresh and pretty in a silk
handkerchief, which she had tied round her head, probably to serve as a
nightcap during the drowsy length of the journey. Opposite to her was a
middle-aged man of pale complexion, and a grave, pensive, studious
expression of face; and vis-a-vis to Philip sat an overdressed, showy,
very good-looking man of about two or three and forty. This gentleman
wore auburn whiskers, which met at the chin; a foraging cap, with a gold
tassel; a velvet waistcoat, across which, in various folds, hung a golden
chain, at the end of which dangled an eye-glass, that from time to time
he screwed, as it were, into his right eye; he wore, also, a blue silk
stock, with a frill much crumpled, dirty kid gloves, and over his lap lay
a cloak lined with red silk. As Philip glanced towards this personage,
the latter fixed his glass also at him, with a scrutinising stare, which
drew fire from Philip's dark eyes. The man dropped his glass, and said in
a half provincial, half haw-haw tone, like the stage exquisite of a minor
theatre, "Pawdon me, and split legs!" therewith stretching himself
between Philip's limbs in the approved fashion of inside passengers. A
young man in a white great-coat now came to the door with a glass of warm
sherry and water.

"You must take this--you must now; it will keep the cold out," (the day
was broiling,) said he to the young woman.

"Gracious me!" was the answer, "but I never drink wine of a morning,
James; it will get into my head."

"To oblige me!" said the young man, sentimentally; whereupon the young
lady took the glass, and looking very kindly at her Ganymede, said, "Your
health!" and sipped, and made a wry face--then she looked at the
passengers, tittered, and said, "I can't bear wine!" and so, very slowly
and daintily, sipped up the rest. A silent and expressive squeeze of the
hand, on returning the glass, rewarded the young man, and proved the
salutary effect of his prescription.

"All right!" cried the coachman: the ostler twitched the cloths from the
leaders, and away went the "Nelson Slow and Sure," with as much
pretension as if it had meant to do the ten miles in an hour. The pale
gentleman took from his waistcoat pocket a little box containing
gum-arabic, and having inserted a couple of morsels between his lips, he
next drew forth a little thin volume, which from the manner the lines
were printed was evidently devoted to poetry.

The smart gentleman, who since the episode of the sherry and water had
kept his glass fixed upon the young lady, now said, with a genteel smirk:

"That young gentleman seems very auttentive, miss!"

"He is a very good young man, sir, and takes great care of me."

"Not your brother, miss,--eh?"

"La, sir--why not?"

"No faumily likeness--noice-looking fellow enough! But your oiyes and
mouth--ah, miss!"

Miss turned away her head, and uttered with pert vivacity: "I never likes
compliments, sir! But the young man is not my brother."

"A sweetheart,--eh? Oh fie, miss! Haw! haw!" and the auburn-whiskered
Adonis poked Philip in the knee with one hand, and the pale gentleman in
the ribs with the other. The latter looked up, and reproachfully; the
former drew in his legs, and uttered an angry ejaculation.

"Well, sir, there is no harm in a sweetheart, is there?"

"None in the least, ma'am; I advoise you to double the dose. We often
hear of two strings to a bow. Daun't you think it would be noicer to
have two beaux to your string?" As he thus wittily expressed himself,
the gentleman took off his cap, and thrust his fingers through a very
curling and comely head of hair; the young lady looked at him with
evident coquetry, and said, "How you do run on, you gentlemen!"

"I may well run on, miss, as long as I run aufter you," was the gallant
reply.

Here the pale gentleman, evidently annoyed by being talked across, shut
his book up, and looked round. His eye rested on Philip, who, whether
from the heat of the day or from the forgetfulness of thought, had pushed
his cap from his brows; and the gentleman, after staring at him for a few
moments with great earnestness, sighed so heavily that it attracted the
notice of all the passengers.

"Are you unwell, sir?" asked the young lady, compassionately.

"A little pain in my side, nothing more!"

"Chaunge places with me, sir," cried the Lothario, officiously. "Now do!"
The pale gentleman, after a short hesitation, and a bashful excuse,
accepted the proposal. In a few moments the young lady and the beau were
in deep and whispered conversation, their heads turned towards the
window. The pale gentleman continued to gaze at Philip, till the latter,
perceiving the notice he excited, coloured, and replaced his cap over his
face.

"Are you going to N----? asked the gentleman, in a gentle, timid voice.

"Yes!"

"Is it the first time you have ever been there?"

"Sir!" returned Philip, in a voice that spoke surprise and distaste at
his neighbour's curiosity.

"Forgive me," said the gentleman, shrinking back; "but you remind me
of-of--a family I once knew in the town. Do you know--the--the Mortons?"

One in Philip's situation, with, as he supposed, the officers of justice
in his track (for Gawtrey, for reasons of his own, rather encouraged than
allayed his fears), might well be suspicious. He replied therefore
shortly, "I am quite a stranger to the town," and ensconced himself in
the corner, as if to take a nap. Alas! that answer was one of the many
obstacles he was doomed to build up between himself and a fairer fate.

The gentleman sighed again, and never spoke more to the end of the
journey. When the coach halted at the inn,--the same inn which had before
given its shelter to poor Catherine,--the young man in the white coat
opened the door, and offered his arm to the young lady.

"Do you make any stay here, sir?" said she to the beau, as she unpinned
her bonnet from the roof.

"Perhaps so; I am waiting for my phe-a-ton, which my faellow is to bring
down,--tauking a little tour."

"We shall be very happy to see you, sir!" said the young lady, on whom
the phe-a-ton completed the effect produced by the gentleman's previous
gallantries; and with that she dropped into his hand a very neat card, on
which was printed, "Wavers and Snow, Staymakers, High Street."

The beau put the card gracefully into his pocket-leaped from the
coach-nudged aside his rival of the white coat, and offered his arm to
the lady, who leaned on it affectionately as she descended.

"This gentleman has been so perlite to me, James," said she. James
touched his hat; the beau clapped him on the shoulder,--"Ah! you are not
a hauppy man,--are you? Oh no, not at all a hauppy man!--Good day to you!
Guard, that hat-box is mine!"

While Philip was paying the coachman, the beau passed, and whispered
him--

"Recollect old Gregg--anything on the lay here--don't spoil my sport if
we meet!" and bustled off into the inn, whistling "God save the king!"

Philip started, then tried to bring to mind the faces which he had seen
at the "strange place," and thought he recalled the features of his
fellow-traveller. However, he did not seek to renew the acquaintance, but
inquired the way to Mr. Morton's house, and thither he now proceeded.

He was directed, as a short cut, down one of those narrow passages at the
entrance of which posts are placed as an indication that they are
appropriated solely to foot-passengers. A dead white wall, which screened
the garden of the physician of the place, ran on one side; a high fence
to a nursery-ground was on the other; the passage was lonely, for it was
now the hour when few persons walk either for business or pleasure in a
provincial town, and no sound was heard save the fall of his own step on
the broad flagstones. At the end of the passage in the main street to
which it led, he saw already the large, smart, showy shop, with the hot
sum shining full on the gilt letters that conveyed to the eyes of the
customer the respectable name of "Morton,"--when suddenly the silence was
broken by choked and painful sobs. He turned, and beneath a compo
portico, jutting from the wall, which adorned the physician's door, he
saw a child seated on the stone steps weeping bitterly--a thrill shot
through Philip's heart! Did he recognise, disguised as it was by pain and
sorrow, that voice? He paused, and laid his hand on the child's shoulder:
"Oh, don't--don't--pray don't--I am going, I am indeed:" cried the child,
quailing, and still keeping his hands clasped before his face.

"Sidney!" said Philip. The boy started to his feet, uttered a cry of
rapturous joy, and fell upon his brother's breast.

"O Philip!--dear, dear Philip! you are come to take me away back to my
own--own mamma; I will be so good, I will never tease her again,--never,
never! I have been so wretched!"

"Sit down, and tell me what they have done to you," said Philip, checking
the rising heart that heaved at his mother's name.

So, there they sat, on the cold stone under the stranger's porch, these
two orphans: Philip's arms round his brother's waist, Sidney leaning on
his shoulder, and imparting to him--perhaps with pardonable exaggeration,
all the sufferings he had gone through; and, when he came to that
morning's chastisement, and showed the wale across the little hands which
he had vainly held up in supplication, Philip's passion shook him from
limb to limb. His impulse was to march straight into Mr. Morton's shop
and gripe him by the throat; and the indignation he betrayed encouraged
Sidney to colour yet more highly the tale of his wrongs and pain.

When he had done, and clinging tightly to his brother's broad chest,
said--

"But never mind, Philip; now we will go home to mamma."

Philip replied--

"Listen to me, my dear brother. We cannot go back to our mother. I will
tell you why, later. We are alone in the world-we two! If you will come
with me--God help you!--for you will have many hardships: we shall have
to work and drudge, and you may be cold and hungry, and tired, very
often, Sidney,--very, very often! But you know that, long ago, when I was
so passionate, I never was wilfully unkind to you; and I declare now,
that I would bite out my tongue rather than it should say a harsh word to
you. That is all I can promise. Think well. Will you never miss all the
comforts you have now?"

"Comforts!" repeated Sidney, ruefully, and looking at the wale over his
hands. "Oh! let--let--let me go with you, I shall die if I stay here. I
shall indeed--indeed!"

"Hush!" said Philip; for at that moment a step was heard, and the pale
gentleman walked slowly down the passage, and started, and turned his
head wistfully as he looked at the boys.

When he was gone. Philip rose.

"It is settled, then," said he, firmly. "Come with me at once. You shall
return to their roof no more. Come, quick: we shall have many miles to go
to-night."




CHAPTER VI.

     "He comes--
     Yet careless what he brings; his one concern
     Is to conduct it to the destined inn;
     And having dropp'd the expected bag, pass on--
     To him indifferent whether grief or joy."
             COWPER: Description of the Postman.

The pale gentleman entered Mr. Morton's shop; and, looking round him,
spied the worthy trader showing shawls to a young lady just married. He
seated himself on a stool, and said to the bowing foreman--

"I will wait till Mr. Morton is disengaged."

The young lady having closely examined seven shawls, and declared they
were beautiful, said, "she would think of it," and walked away. Mr.
Morton now approached the stranger.

"Mr. Morton," said the pale gentleman; "you are very little altered. You
do not recollect me?"

"Bless me, Mr. Spencer! is it really you? Well, what a time since we met!
I am very glad to see you. And what brings you to N----? Business?"

"Yes, business. Let us go within?"

Mr. Morton led the way to the parlour, where Master Tom, reperched on the
stool, was rapidly digesting the plundered muffin. Mr. Morton dismissed
him to play, and the pale gentleman took a chair.

"Mr. Morton," said he, glancing over his dress, "you see I am in
mourning. It is for your sister. I never got the better of that early
attachment--never."

"My sister! Good Heavens!" said Mr. Morton, turning very pale; "is she
dead? Poor Catherine!--and I not know of it! When did she die?"

"Not many days since; and--and--" said Mr. Spencer, greatly affected, "I
fear in want. I had been abroad for some months: on my return last week,
looking over the newspapers (for I always order them to be filed), I read
the short account of her lawsuit against Mr. Beaufort, some time back. I
resolved to find her out. I did so through the solicitor she employed: it
was too late; I arrived at her lodgings two days after her--her burial. I
then determined to visit poor Catherine's brother, and learn if anything
could be done for the children she had left behind."

"She left but two. Philip, the elder, is very comfortably placed at
R----; the younger has his home with me; and Mrs. Morton is a moth--that
is to say, she takes great pains with him. Ehem! And my poor--poor
sister!"

"Is he like his mother?"

"Very much, when she was young--poor dear Catherine!"

"What age is he?"

"About ten, perhaps; I don't know exactly; much younger than the other.
And so she's dead!"

"Mr. Morton, I am an old bachelor" (here a sickly smile crossed Mr.
Spencer's face); "a small portion of my fortune is settled, it is true,
on my relations; but the rest is mine, and I live within my income. The
elder of these boys is probably old enough to begin to take care of
himself. But, the younger--perhaps you have a family of your own, and can
spare him!"

Mr. Morton hesitated, and twitched up his trousers. "Why," said he, "this
is very kind in you. I don't know--we'll see. The boy is out now; come
and dine with us at two--pot-luck. Well, so she is no more! Heigho!
Meanwhile, I'll talk it over with Mrs. M."

"I will be with you," said Mr. Spencer, rising.

"Ah!" sighed Mr. Morton, "if Catherine had but married you she would have
been a happy woman."

"I would have tried to make her so," said Mr. Spencer, as he turned away
his face and took his departure.

Two o'clock came; but no Sidney. They had sent to the place whither he
had been despatched; he had never arrived there. Mr. Morton grew alarmed;
and, when Mr. Spencer came to dinner, his host was gone in search of the
truant. He did not return till three. Doomed that day to be belated both
at breakfast and dinner, this decided him to part with Sidney whenever he
should be found. Mrs. Morton was persuaded that the child only sulked,
and would come back fast enough when he was hungry. Mr. Spencer tried to
believe her, and ate his mutton, which was burnt to a cinder; but when
five, six, seven o'clock came, and the boy was still missing,--even Mrs.
Morton agreed that it was high time to institute a regular search. The
whole family set off different ways. It was ten o'clock before they were
reunited; and then all the news picked up was, that a boy, answering
Sidney's description, had been seen with a young man in three several
parts of the town; the last time at the outskirts, on the high road
towards the manufacturing districts. These tidings so far relieved Mr.
Morton's mind that he dismissed the chilling fear that had crept
there,--that Sidney might have drowned himself. Boys will drown
themselves sometimes! The description of the young man coincided so
remarkably with the fellow-passenger of Mr. Spencer, that he did not
doubt it was the same; the more so when he recollected having seen him
with a fair-haired child under the portico; and yet more, when he
recalled the likeness to Catherine that had struck him in the coach, and
caused the inquiry that had roused Philip's suspicion. The mystery was
thus made clear--Sidney had fled with his brother. Nothing more, however,
could be done that night. The next morning, active measures should be
devised; and when the morning came, the mail brought to Mr. Morton the
two following letters. The first was from Arthur Beaufort.

"SIR,--I have been prevented by severe illness from writing to you
before. I can now scarcely hold a pen; but the instant my health is
recovered I shall be with you at N ---, on her deathbed, the mother of
the boy under your charge, Sidney Morton, committed him solemnly to me.
I make his fortunes my care, and shall hasten to claim him at your kindly
hands. But the elder son,--this poor Philip, who has suffered so
unjustly,--for our lawyer has seen Mr. Plaskwith, and heard the whole
story--what has become of him? All our inquiries have failed to track
him. Alas, I was too ill to institute them myself while it was yet time.
Perhaps he may have sought shelter, with you, his uncle; if so, assure
him that he is in no danger from the pursuit of the law,--that his
innocence is fully recognised; and that my father and myself implore him
to accept our affection. I can write no more now; but in a few days I
shall hope to see you.
        "I am, sir, &c.,
            "ARTHUR BEAUFORT.
"Berkely Square."

The second letter was from Mr. Plaskwith, and ran thus:

"DEAR MORTON,--Something very awkward has happened,--not my fault, and
very unpleasant for me. Your relation, Philip, as I wrote you word, was
a painstaking lad, though odd and bad mannered,--for want, perhaps, poor
boy! of being taught better, and Mrs. P. is, you know, a very genteel
woman--women go too much by manners--so she never took much to him.
However, to the point, as the French emperor used to say: one evening he
asked me for money for his mother, who, he said, was ill, in a very
insolent way: I may say threatening. It was in my own shop, and before
Plimmins and Mrs. P.; I was forced to answer with dignified rebuke, and
left the shop. When I returned, he was gone, and some shillings-fourteen,
I think, and three sovereigns--evidently from the till,
scattered on the floor. Mrs. P. and Mr. Plimmins were very much
frightened; thought it was clear I was robbed, and that we were to be
murdered. Plimmins slept below that night, and we borrowed butcher
Johnson's dog. Nothing happened. I did not think I was robbed; because
the money, when we came to calculate, was all right. I know human
nature. He had thought to take it, but repented--quite clear. However,
I was naturally very angry, thought he'd comeback again--meant to reprove
him properly--waited several days--heard nothing of him--grew
uneasy--would not attend longer to Mrs. P.; for, as Napoleon Buonaparte
observed, 'women are well in their way, not in our ours.' Made Plimmins
go with me to town--hired a Bow Street runner to track him out--cost me
L1. 1s, and two glasses of brandy and water. Poor Mrs. Morton was just
buried--quite shocked! Suddenly saw the boy in the streets. Plimmins
rushed forward in the kindest way--was knocked down--hurt his arm--paid
2s. 6d. for lotion. Philip ran off, we ran after him--could not find him.
Forced to return home. Next day, a lawyer from a Mr. Beaufort--Mr. George
Blackwell, a gentlemanlike man called. Mr. Beaufort will do anything for
him in reason. Is there anything more I can do? I really am very uneasy
about the lad, and Mrs. P. and I have a tiff about it: but that's
nothing--thought I had best write to you for instructions.
      "Yours truly,
          "C. PLASHWITH.

"P. S.--Just open my letter to say, Bow Street officer just been
here--has found out that the boy has been seen with a very suspicious
character: they think he has left London. Bow Street officer wants to go
after him--very expensive: so now you can decide."

Mr. Spencer scarcely listened to Mr. Plaskwith's letter, but of Arthur's
he felt jealous. He would fain have been the only protector to
Catherine's children; but he was the last man fitted to head the search,
now so necessary to prosecute with equal tact and energy.

A soft-hearted, soft-headed man, a confirmed valtudinarian, a
day-dreamer, who had wasted away his life in dawdling and maundering over
Simple Poetry, and sighing over his unhappy attachment; no child, no
babe, was more thoroughly helpless than Mr. Spencer.

The task of investigation devolved, therefore, on Mr. Morton, and he went
about it in a regular, plain, straightforward way. Hand-bills were
circulated, constables employed, and a lawyer, accompanied by Mr.
Spencer, despatched to the manufacturing districts: towards which the
orphans had been seen to direct their path.




CHAPTER VII.

        "Give the gentle South
        Yet leave to court these sails."
        BEAUMONT AND FLLTCHER: Beggar's Bush.

        "Cut your cloth, sir,
        According to your calling."--Ibid.

Meanwhile the brothers were far away, and He who feeds the young ravens
made their paths pleasant to their feet. Philip had broken to Sidney the
sad news of their mother's death, and Sidney had wept with bitter
passion. But children,--what can they know of death? Their tears over
graves dry sooner than the dews. It is melancholy to compare the depth,
the endurance, the far-sighted, anxious, prayerful love of a parent, with
the inconsiderate, frail, and evanescent affection of the infant, whose
eyes the hues of the butterfly yet dazzle with delight. It was the night
of their flight, and in the open air, when Philip (his arms round
Sidney's waist) told his brother-orphan that they were motherless. And
the air was balmy, the skies filled with the effulgent presence of the
August moon; the cornfields stretched round them wide and far, and not a
leaf trembled on the beech-tree beneath which they had sought shelter. It
seemed as if Nature herself smiled pityingly on their young sorrow, and
said to them, "Grieve not for the dead: I, who live for ever, I will be
your mother!"

They crept, as the night deepened, into the warmer sleeping-place
afforded by stacks of hay, mown that summer and still fragrant. And the
next morning the birds woke them betimes, to feel that Liberty, at least,
was with them, and to wander with her at will.

Who in his boyhood has not felt the delight of freedom and adventure? to
have the world of woods and sward before him--to escape restriction--to
lean, for the first time, on his own resources--to rejoice in the wild
but manly luxury of independence--to act the Crusoe--and to fancy a
Friday in every footprint--an island of his own in every field? Yes, in
spite of their desolation, their loss, of the melancholy past, of the
friendless future, the orphans were happy--happy in their youth--their
freedom--their love--their wanderings in the delicious air of the
glorious August. Sometimes they came upon knots of reapers lingering in
the shade of the hedge-rows over their noonday meal; and, grown sociable
by travel, and bold by safety, they joined and partook of the rude fare
with the zest of fatigue and youth. Sometimes, too, at night, they saw,
gleam afar and red by the woodside, the fires of gipsy tents. But these,
with the superstition derived from old nursery-tales, they scrupulously
shunned, eying them with a mysterious awe! What heavenly twilights belong
to that golden month!--the air so lucidly serene, as the purple of the
clouds fades gradually away, and up soars, broad, round, intense, and
luminous, the full moon which belongs to the joyous season! The fields
then are greener than in the heats of July and June,--they have got back
the luxury of a second spring. And still, beside the paths of the
travellers, lingered on the hedges the clustering honeysuckle--the
convolvulus glittered in the tangles of the brake--the hardy heathflower
smiled on the green waste.

And ever, at evening, they came, field after field, upon those circles
which recall to children so many charmed legends, and are fresh and
frequent in that month--the Fairy Rings! They thought, poor boys! that it
was a good omen, and half fancied that the Fairies protected them, as in
the old time they had often protected the desolate and outcast.

They avoided the main roads, and all towns, with suspicious care. But
sometimes they paused, for food and rest, at the obscure hostel of some
scattered hamlet: though, more often, they loved to spread the simple
food they purchased by the way under some thick, tree, or beside a stream
through whose limpid waters they could watch the trout glide and play.
And they often preferred the chance shelter of a haystack, or a shed, to
the less romantic repose offered by the small inns they alone dared to
enter. They went in this much by the face and voice of the host or
hostess. Once only Philip had entered a town, on the second day of their
flight, and that solely for the purchase of ruder clothes, and a change
of linen for Sidney, with some articles and implements of use necessary
in their present course of shift and welcome hardship. A wise precaution;
for, thus clad, they escaped suspicion.

So journeying, they consumed several days; and, having taken a direction
quite opposite to that which led to the manufacturing districts, whither
pursuit had been directed, they were now in the centre of another
county--in the neighbourhood of one of the most considerable towns of
England; and here Philip began to think their wanderings ought to cease,
and it was time to settle on some definite course of life. He had
carefully hoarded about his person, and most thriftily managed, the
little fortune bequeathed by his mother. But Philip looked on this
capital as a deposit sacred to Sidney; it was not to be spent, but kept
and augmented--the nucleus for future wealth. Within the last few weeks
his character was greatly ripened, and his powers of thought enlarged. He
was no more a boy,--he was a man: he had another life to take care of. He
resolved, then, to enter the town they were approaching, and to seek for
some situation by which he might maintain both. Sidney was very loath to
abandon their present roving life; but he allowed that the warm weather
could not always last, and that in winter the fields would be less
pleasant. He, therefore, with a sigh, yielded to his brother's
reasonings.

They entered the fair and busy town of one day at noon; and, after
finding a small lodging, at which he deposited Sidney, who was fatigued
with their day's walk, Philip sallied forth alone.

After his long rambling, Philip was pleased and struck with the broad
bustling streets, the gay shops--the evidences of opulence and trade. He
thought it hard if he could not find there a market for the health and
heart of sixteen. He strolled slowly and alone along the streets, till
his attention was caught by a small corner shop, in the window of which
was placed a board, bearing this inscription:

"OFFICE FOR EMPLOYMENT.--RECIPROCAL ADVANTAGE.

"Mr. John Clump's bureau open every day, from ten till four. Clerks,
servants, labourers, &c., provided with suitable situations. Terms
moderate. N.B.--The oldest established office in the town.

"Wanted, a good cook. An under gardener."

What he sought was here! Philip entered, and saw a short fat man with
spectacles, seated before a desk, poring upon the well-filled leaves of a
long register.

"Sir," said Philip, "I wish for a situation. I don't care what."

"Half-a-crown for entry, if you please. That's right. Now for
particulars. Hum!--you don't look like a servant!"

"No; I wish for any place where my education can be of use. I can read
and write; I know Latin and French; I can draw; I know arithmetic and
summing."

"Very well; very genteel young man--prepossessing appearance (that's a
fudge!), highly educated; usher in a school, eh?"

"What you like."

"References?"

"I have none."

"Eh!--none?" and Mr. Clump fixed his spectacles full upon Philip.

Philip was prepared for the question, and had the sense to perceive that
a frank reply was his best policy. "The fact is," said he boldly, "I was
well brought up; my father died; I was to be bound apprentice to a trade
I disliked; I left it, and have now no friends."

"If I can help you, I will," said Mr. Clump, coldly. "Can't promise much.
If you were a labourer, character might not matter; but educated young
men must have a character. Hands always more useful than head. Education
no avail nowadays; common, quite common. Call again on Monday."

Somewhat disappointed and chilled, Philip turned from the bureau; but he
had a strong confidence in his own resources, and recovered his spirits
as he mingled with the throng. He passed, at length, by a livery-stable,
and paused, from old associations, as he saw a groom in the mews
attempting to manage a young, hot horse, evidently unbroken. The master
of the stables, in a green short jacket and top-boots, with a long whip
in his hand, was standing by, with one or two men who looked like
horsedealers.

"Come off, clumsy! you can't manage that I ere fine hanimal," cried the
liveryman. "Ah! he's a lamb, sir, if he were backed properly. But I has
not a man in the yard as can ride since Will died. Come off, I say,
lubber!"

But to come off, without being thrown off, was more easily said than
done. The horse was now plunging as if Juno had sent her gadfly to him;
and Philip, interested and excited, came nearer and nearer, till he stood
by the side of the horse-dealers. The other ostlers ran to the help of
their comrade, who at last, with white lips and shaking knees, found
himself on terra firma; while the horse, snorting hard, and rubbing his
head against the breast and arms of the ostler, who held him tightly by
the rein, seemed to ask, is his own way, "Are there any more of you?"

A suspicion that the horse was an old acquaintance crossed Philip's mind;
he went up to him, and a white spot over the left eye confirmed his
doubts. It had been a foal reserved and reared for his own riding! one
that, in his prosperous days, had ate bread from his hand, and followed
him round the paddock like a dog; one that he had mounted in sport,
without saddle, when his father's back was turned; a friend, in short, of
the happy Lang syne;--nay, the very friend to whom he had boasted his
affection, when, standing with Arthur Beaufort under the summer sky, the
whole world seemed to him full of friends. He put his hand on the horse's
neck, and whispered, "Soho! So, Billy!" and the horse turned sharp round
with a quick joyous neigh.

"If you please, sir," said Philip, appealing to the liveryman, "I will
undertake to ride this horse, and take him over yon leaping-bar. Just let
me try him."

"There's a fine-spirited lad for you!" said the liveryman, much pleased
at the offer. "Now, gentlemen, did I not tell you that 'ere hanimal had
no vice if he was properly managed?"

The horse-dealers shook their heads.

"May I give him some bread first?" asked Philip; and the ostler was
despatched to the house. Meanwhile the animal evinced various signs of
pleasure and recognition, as Philip stroked and talked to him; and,
finally, when he ate the bread from the young man's hand, the whole yard
seemed in as much delight and surprise as if they had witnessed one of
Monsieur Van Amburgh's exploits.

And now, Philip, still caressing the horse, slowly and cautiously
mounted; the animal made one bound half-across the yard--a bound which
sent all the horse-dealers into a corner-and then went through his paces,
one after the other, with as much ease and calm as if he had been broken
in at Mr. Fozard's to carry a young lady. And when he crowned all by
going thrice over the leaping-bar, and Philip, dismounting, threw the
reins to the ostler, and turned triumphantly to the horse-dealer, that
gentleman slapped him on the back, and said, emphatically, "Sir, you are
a man! and I am proud to see you here."

Meanwhile the horse-dealers gathered round the animal; looked at his
hoofs, felt his legs, examined his windpipe, and concluded the bargain,
which, but for Philip, would have been very abruptly broken off. When the
horse was led out of the yard, the liveryman, Mr. Stubmore, turned to
Philip, who, leaning against the wall, followed the poor animal with
mournful eyes.

"My good sir, you have sold that horse for me--that you have! Anything as
I can do for you? One good turn de serves another. Here's a brace of
shiners."

"Thank you, sir! I want no money, but I do want some employment. I can be
of use to you, perhaps, in your establishment. I have been brought up
among horses all my life."

"Saw it, sir! that's very clear. I say, that 'ere horse knows you!" and
the dealer put his finger to his nose.

"Quite right to be mum! He was bred by an old customer of mine--famous
rider!--Mr. Beaufort. Aha! that's where you knew him, I s'pose. Were you
in his stables?"

"Hem--I knew Mr. Beaufort well."

"Did you? You could not know a better man. Well, I shall be very glad to
engage you, though you seem by your hands to be a bit of a gentleman-elh?
Never mind; don't want you to groom!--but superintend things. D'ye know
accounts, eh?"

"Yes."

"Character?"

Philip repeated to Mr. Stubmore the story he had imparted to Mr. Clump.
Somehow or other, men who live much with horses are always more lax in
their notions than the rest of mankind. Mr. Stubmore did not seem to grow
more distant at Philip's narration.

"Understand you perfectly, my man. Brought up with them 'ere fine
creturs, how could you nail your nose to a desk? I'll take you without
more palaver. What's your name?"

"Philips."

"Come to-morrow, and we'll settle about wages. Sleep here?"

"No. I have a brother whom I must lodge with, and for whose sake I wish
to work. I should not like him to be at the stables--he is too young. But
I can come early every day, and go home late."

"Well, just as you like, my man. Good day."

And thus, not from any mental accomplishment--not from the result of his
intellectual education, but from the mere physical capacity and brute
habit of sticking fast on his saddle, did Philip Morton, in this great,
intelligent, gifted, civilised, enlightened community of Great Britain,
find the means of earning his bread without stealing it.




CHAPTER VIII.

     "Don Salluste (souriunt). Je paire
     Que vous ne pensiez pas a moi?"--Ruy Blas.

     "Don Salluste. Cousin!
     Don Cesar. De vos bienfaits je n'aurai nulle envie,
     Tant que je trouverai vivant ma libre vie."--Ibid.

   Don Sallust (smiling). I'll lay a wager you won't think of me?
   Don Sallust. Cousin!
   Don Caesar. I covet not your favours, so but I lead an independent
   life.

Phillip's situation was agreeable to his habits. His great courage and
skill in horsemanship were not the only qualifications useful to Mr.
Stubmore: his education answered a useful purpose in accounts, and his
manners and appearance were highly to the credit of the yard. The
customers and loungers soon grew to like Gentleman Philips, as he was
styled in the establishment. Mr. Stubmore conceived a real affection for
him. So passed several weeks; and Philip, in this humble capacity, might
have worked out his destinies in peace and comfort, but for a new cause
of vexation that arose in Sidney. This boy was all in all to his brother.
For him he had resisted the hearty and joyous invitations of Gawtrey
(whose gay manner and high spirits had, it must be owned, captivated his
fancy, despite the equivocal mystery of the man's avocations and
condition); for him he now worked and toiled, cheerful and contented; and
him he sought to save from all to which he subjected himself. He could
not bear that that soft and delicate child should ever be exposed to the
low and menial associations that now made up his own life--to the obscene
slang of grooms and ostlers--to their coarse manners and rough contact.
He kept him, therefore, apart and aloof in their little lodging, and
hoped in time to lay by, so that Sidney might ultimately be restored, if
not to his bright original sphere, at least to a higher grade than that
to which Philip was himself condemned. But poor Sidney could not bear to
be thus left alone--to lose sight of his brother from daybreak till
bed-time--to have no one to amuse him; he fretted and pined away: all the
little inconsiderate selfishness, uneradicated from his breast by his
sufferings, broke out the more, the more he felt that he was the first
object on earth to Philip. Philip, thinking he might be more cheerful at
a day-school, tried the experiment of placing him at one where the boys
were much of his own age. But Sidney, on the third day, came back with a
black eye, and he would return no more. Philip several times thought of
changing their lodging for one where there were young people. But Sidney
had taken a fancy to the kind old widow who was their landlady, and cried
at the thought of removal. Unfortunately, the old woman was deaf and
rheumatic; and though she bore teasing ad libitum, she could not
entertain the child long on a stretch. Too young to be reasonable, Sidney
could not, or would not, comprehend why his brother was so long away from
him; and once he said, peevishly,--

"If I had thought I was to be moped up so, I would not have left Mrs.
Morton. Tom was a bad boy, but still it was somebody to play with. I wish
I had not gone away with you!"

This speech cut Philip to the heart. What, then, he had taken from the
child a respectable and safe shelter--the sure provision of a life--and
the child now reproached him! When this was said to him, the tears gushed
from his eyes. "God forgive me, Sidney," said he, and turned away.

But then Sidney, who had the most endearing ways with him, seeing his
brother so vexed, ran up and kissed him, and scolded himself for being
naughty. Still the words were spoken, and their meaning rankled deep.
Philip himself, too, was morbid in his excessive tenderness for this boy.
There is a certain age, before the love for the sex commences, when the
feeling of friendship is almost a passion. You see it constantly in girls
and boys at school. It is the first vague craving of the heart after the
master food of human life--Love. It has its jealousies, and humours, and
caprices, like love itself. Philip was painfully acute to Sidney's
affection, was jealous of every particle of it. He dreaded lest his
brother should ever be torn from him.

He would start from his sleep at night, and go to Sidney's bed to see
that he was there. He left him in the morning with forebodings--he
returned in the dark with fear. Meanwhile the character of this young
man, so sweet and tender to Sidney, was gradually becoming more hard and
stern to others. He had now climbed to the post of command in that rude
establishment; and premature command in any sphere tends to make men
unsocial and imperious.

One day Mr. Stubmore called him into his own countinghouse, where stood a
gentleman, with one hand in his coatpocket, the other tapping his whip
against his boot.

"Philips, show this gentleman the brown mare. She is a beauty in harness,
is she not? This gentleman wants a match for his pheaton."

"She must step very hoigh," said the gentleman, turning round: and Philip
recognised the beau in the stage-coach. The recognition was simultaneous.
The beau nodded, then whistled, and winked.

"Come, my man, I am at your service," said he.

Philip, with many misgivings, followed him across the yard. The gentleman
then beckoned him to approach.

"You, sir,--moind, I never peach--setting up here in the honest line?
Dull work, honesty,--eh?"

"Sir, I really don't know you."

"Daun't you recollect old Greggs, the evening you came there with jolly
Bill Gawtrey? Recollect that, eh?" Philip was mute.

"I was among the gentlemen in the back parlour who shook you by the hand.
Bill's off to France, then. I am tauking the provinces. I want a good
horse--the best in the yard, moind! Cutting such a swell here! My name is
Captain de Burgh Smith--never moind yours, my fine faellow. Now, then,
out with your rattlers, and keep your tongue in your mouth."

Philip mechanically ordered out the brown mare, which Captain Smith did
not seem much to approve of; and, after glancing round the stables with
great disdain of the collection, he sauntered out of the yard without
saying more to Philip, though he stopped and spoke a few sentences to Mr.
Stubmore. Philip hoped he had no design of purchasing, and that he was
rid, for the present, of so awkward a customer. Mr. Stubmore approached
Philip.

"Drive over the greys to Sir John," said he. "My lady wants a pair to
job. A very pleasant man, that Captain Smith. I did not know you had been
in a yard before--says you were the pet at Elmore's in London. Served him
many a day. Pleasant, gentlemanlike man!"

"Y-e-s!" said Philip, hardly knowing what he said, and hurrying back into
the stables to order out the greys. The place to which he was bound was
some miles distant, and it was sunset when he returned. As he drove into
the main street, two men observed him closely.

"That is he! I am almost sure it is," said one. "Oh! then it's all smooth
sailing," replied the other.

"But, bless my eyes! you must be mistaken! See whom he's talking to now!"

At that moment Captain de Burgh Smith, mounted on the brown mare, stopped
Philip.

"Well, you see, I've bought her,--hope she'll turn out well. What do you
really think she's worth? Not to buy, but to sell?"

"Sixty guineas."

"Well, that's a good day's work; and I owe it to you. The old faellow
would not have trusted me if you had not served me at Elmore's--ha! ha!
If he gets scent and looks shy at you, my lad, come to me. I'm at the
Star Hotel for the next few days. I want a tight faellow like you, and
you shall have a fair percentage. I'm none of your stingy ones. I say, I
hope this devil is quiet? She cocks up her ears dawmnably!"

"Look you, sir!" said Philip, very gravely, and rising up in his break;
"I know very little of you, and that little is not much to your credit. I
give you fair warning that I shall caution my employer against you."

"Will you, my fine faellow? then take care of yourself."

"Stay, and if you dare utter a word against me," said Philip, with that
frown to which his swarthy complexion and flashing eyes gave an
expression of fierce power beyond his years, "you will find that, as I am
the last to care for a threat, so I am the first to resent an injury!"

Thus saying, he drove on. Captain Smith affected a cough, and put his
brown mare into a canter. The two men followed Philip as he drove into
the yard.

"What do you know against the person he spoke to?" said one of them.

"Merely that he is one of the cunningest swells on this side the Bay,"
returned the other. "It looks bad for your young friend."

The first speaker shook his head and made no reply.

On gaining the yard, Philip found that Mr. Stubmore had gone out, and was
not expected home till the next day. He had some relations who were
farmers, whom he often visited; to them he was probably gone.

Philip, therefore, deferring his intended caution against the gay captain
till the morrow, and musing how the caution might be most discreetly
given, walked homeward. He had just entered the lane that led to his
lodgings, when he saw the two men I have spoken of on the other side of
the street. The taller and better-dressed of the two left his comrade;
and crossing over to Philip, bowed, and thus accosted him,--

"Fine evening, Mr. Philip Morton. I am rejoiced to see you at last. You
remember me--Mr. Blackwell, Lincoln's Inn."

"What is your business?" said Philip, halting, and speaking short and
fiercely.

"Now don't be in a passion, my dear sir,--now don't. I am here on behalf
of my clients, Messrs. Beaufort, sen. and jun. I have had such work to
find you! Dear, dear! but you are a sly one! Ha! ha! Well, you see we
have settled that little affair of Plaskwith's for you (might have been
ugly), and now I hope you will--"

"To your business, sir! What do you want with me?"

"Why, now, don't be so quick! 'Tis not the way to do business. Suppose
you step to my hotel. A glass of wine now, Mr. Philip! We shall soon
understand each other."

"Out of my path, or speak plainly!"

Thus put to it, the lawyer, casting a glance at his stout companion, who
appeared to be contemplating the sunset on the other side of the way,
came at once to the marrow of his subject.

"Well, then,--well, my say is soon said. Mr. Arthur Beaufort takes a most
lively interest in you; it is he who has directed this inquiry. He bids
me say that he shall be most happy--yes, most happy--to serve you in
anything; and if you will but see him, he is in the town, I am sure you
will be charmed with him--most amiable young man!"

"Look you, sir," said Philip, drawing himself up "neither from father,
nor from son, nor from one of that family, on whose heads rest the
mother's death and the orphans' curse, will I ever accept boon or
benefit--with them, voluntarily, I will hold no communion; if they force
themselves in my path, let them beware! I am earning my bread in the way
I desire--I am independent--I want them not. Begone!"

With that, Philip pushed aside the lawyer and strode on rapidly. Mr.
Blackwell, abashed and perplexed, returned to his companion.

Philip regained his home, and found Sidney stationed at the window alone,
and with wistful eyes noting the flight of the grey moths as they darted
to and fro, across the dull shrubs that, variegated with lines for
washing, adorned the plot of ground which the landlady called a garden.
The elder brother had returned at an earlier hour than usual, and Sidney
did not at first perceive him enter. When he did he clapped his hands,
and ran to him.

"This is so good in you, Philip. I have been so dull; you will come and
play now?"

"With all my heart--where shall we play?" said Philip, with a cheerful
smile.

"Oh, in the garden!--it's such a nice time for hide and seek."

"But is it not chill and damp for you?" said Philip.

"There now; you are always making excuses. I see you don't like it. I
have no heart to play now."

Sidney seated himself and pouted.

"Poor Sidney! you must be dull without me. Yes, let us play; but put on
this handkerchief;" and Philip took off his own cravat and tied it round
his brother's neck, and kissed him.

Sidney, whose anger seldom lasted long, was reconciled; and they went
into the garden to play. It was a little spot, screened by an old
moss-grown paling, from the neighbouring garden on the one side and a
lane on the other. They played with great glee till the night grew darker
and the dews heavier.

"This must be the last time," cried Philip. "It is my turn to hide."

"Very well! Now, then."

Philip secreted himself behind a poplar; and as Sidney searched for him,
and Philip stole round and round the tree, the latter, happening to look
across the paling, saw the dim outline of a man's figure in the lane, who
appeared watching them. A thrill shot across his breast. These Beauforts,
associated in his thoughts with every evil omen and augury, had they set
a spy upon his movements? He remained erect and gazing at the form, when
Sidney discovered, and ran up to him, with his noisy laugh.

As the child clung to him, shouting with gladness, Philip, unheeding his
playmate, called aloud and imperiously to the stranger--

"What are you gaping at? Why do you stand watching us?"

The man muttered something, moved on, and disappeared. "I hope there are
no thieves here! I am so much afraid of thieves," said Sidney,
tremulously.

The fear grated on Philip's heart. Had he not himself, perhaps, been
judged and treated as a thief? He said nothing, but drew his brother
within; and there, in their little room, by the one poor candle, it was
touching and beautiful to see these boys--the tender patience of the
elder lending itself to every whim of the younger--now building houses
with cards--now telling stories of fairy and knight-errant--the
sprightliest he could remember or invent. At length, as all was over, and
Sidney was undressing for the night, Philip, standing apart, said to him,
in a mournful voice:--

"Are you sad now, Sidney?"

"No! not when you are with me--but that is so seldom."

"Do you read none of the story-books I bought for you?"

"Sometimes! but one can't read all day."

"Ah! Sidney, if ever we should part, perhaps you will love me no longer!"

"Don't say so," said Sidney. "But we sha'n't part, Philip?"

Philip sighed, and turned away as his brother leaped into bed. Something
whispered to him that danger was near; and as it was, could Sidney grow
up, neglected and uneducated; was it thus that he was to fulfil his
trust?




CHAPTER IX.

   "But oh, what storm was in that mind!"--CRABBE. Ruth

While Philip mused, and his brother fell into the happy sleep of
childhood, in a room in the principal hotel of the town sat three
persons, Arthur Beaufort, Mr. Spencer, and Mr. Blackwell.

"And so," said the first, "he rejected every overture from the
Beauforts?"

"With a scorn I cannot convey to you!" replied the lawyer. "But the fact
is, that he is evidently a lad of low habits; to think of his being a
sort of helper to a horse dealer! I suppose, sir, he was always in the
stables in his father's time. Bad company depraves the taste very soon;
but that is not the worst. Sharp declares that the man he was talking
with, as I told you, is a common swindler. Depend on it, Mr. Arthur, he
is incorrigible; all we can do is to save the brother."

"It is too dreadful to contemplate!" said Arthur, who, still ill and
languid, reclined on a sofa.

"It is, indeed," said Mr. Spencer; "I am sure I should not know what to
do with such a character; but the other poor child, it would be a mercy
to get hold of him."

"Where is Mr. Sharp?" asked Arthur.

"Why," said the lawyer, "he has followed Philip at a distance to find out
his lodgings, and learn if his brother is with him. Oh! here he is!" and
Blackwell's companion in the earlier part of the evening entered.

"I have found him out, sir," said Mr. Sharp, wiping his forehead. "What a
fierce 'un he is! I thought he would have had a stone at my head; but we
officers are used to it; we does our duty, and Providence makes our heads
unkimmon hard!"

"Is the child with him?" asked Mr. Spencer.

"Yes, sir."

"A little, quiet, subdued boy?" asked the melancholy inhabitant of the
Lakes.

"Quiet! Lord love you! never heard a noisier little urchin! There they
were, romping and romping in the garden, like a couple of gaol birds."

"You see," groaned Mr. Spencer, "he will make that poor child as bad as
himself."

"What shall us do, Mr. Blackwell?" asked Sharp, who longed for his brandy
and water.

"Why, I was thinking you might go to the horse-dealer the first thing in
the morning; find out whether Philip is really thick with the swindler;
and, perhaps, Mr. Stubmore may have some influence with him, if, without
saying who he is--"

"Yes," interrupted Arthur, "do not expose his name."

"You could still hint that he ought to be induced to listen to his
friends and go with them. Mr. Stubmore may be a respectable man, and---"

"I understand," said Sharp; "I have no doubt as how I can settle it. We
learns to know human natur in our profession;--'cause why? we gets at its
blind side. Good night, gentlemen!"

"You seem very pale, Mr. Arthur; you had better go to bed; you promised
your father, you know."

"Yes, I am not well; I will go to bed;" and Arthur rose, lighted his
candle, and sought his room.

"I will see Philip to-morrow," he said to himself; "he will listen to
me."

The conduct of Arthur Beaufort in executing the charge he had undertaken
had brought into full light all the most amiable and generous part of his
character. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered, he had expressed so
much anxiety as to the fate of the orphans, that to quiet him his father
was forced to send for Mr. Blackwell. The lawyer had ascertained, through
Dr. ---, the name of Philip's employer at R----. At Arthur's request he
went down to Mr. Plaskwith; and arriving there the day after the return
of the bookseller, learned those particulars with which Mr. Plaskwith's
letter to Roger Morton has already made the reader acquainted. The lawyer
then sent for Mr. Sharp, the officer before employed, and commissioned
him to track the young man's whereabout. That shrewd functionary soon
reported that a youth every way answering to Philip's description had
been introduced the night of the escape by a man celebrated, not indeed
for robberies, or larcenies, or crimes of the coarser kind, but for
address in all that more large and complex character which comes under
the denomination of living upon one's wits, to a polite rendezvous
frequented by persons of a similar profession. Since then, however, all
clue of Philip was lost. But though Mr. Blackwell, in the way of his
profession, was thus publicly benevolent towards the fugitive, he did not
the less privately represent to his patrons, senior and junior, the very
equivocal character that Philip must be allowed to bear. Like most
lawyers, hard upon all who wander from the formal tracks, he unaffectedly
regarded Philip's flight and absence as proofs of a reprobate
disposition; and this conduct was greatly aggravated in his eyes by Mr.
Sharp's report, by which it appeared that after his escape Philip had so
suddenly, and, as it were, so naturally, taken to such equivocal
companionship. Mr. Robert Beaufort, already prejudiced against Philip,
viewed matters in the same light as the lawyer; and the story of his
supposed predilections reached Arthur's ears in so distorted a shape,
that even he was staggered and revolted:--still Philip was so
young--Arthur's oath to the orphans' mother so recent--and if thus early
inclined to wrong courses, should not every effort be made to lure him
back to the straight path? With these views and reasonings, as soon as he
was able, Arthur himself visited Mrs. Lacy, and the note from Philip,
which the good lady put into his hands, affected him deeply, and
confirmed all his previous resolutions. Mrs. Lacy was very anxious to get
at his name; but Arthur, having heard that Philip had refused all aid
from his father and Mr. Blackwell, thought that the young man's pride
might work equally against himself, and therefore evaded the landlady's
curiosity. He wrote the next day the letter we have seen, to Mr. Roger
Morton, whose address Catherine had given to him; and by return of post
came a letter from the linendraper narrating the flight of Sidney, as it
was supposed with his brother. This news so excited Arthur that he
insisted on going down to N---- at once, and joining in the search. His
father, alarmed for his health, positively refused; and the consequence
was an increase of fever, a consultation with the doctors, and a
declaration that Mr. Arthur was in that state that it would be dangerous
not to let him have his own way, Mr. Beaufort was forced to yield, and
with Blackwell and Mr. Sharp accompanied his son to N----. The inquiries,
hitherto fruitless, then assumed a more regular and business-like
character. By little and little they came, through the aid of Mr. Sharp,
upon the right clue, up to a certain point. But here there was a double
scent: two youths answering the description, had been seen at a small
village; then there came those who asserted that they had seen the same
youths at a seaport in one direction; others, who deposed to their having
taken the road to an inland town in the other. This had induced Arthur
and his father to part company. Mr. Beaufort, accompanied by Roger
Morton, went to the seaport; and Arthur, with Mr. Spencer and Mr. Sharp,
more fortunate, tracked the fugitives to their retreat. As for Mr.
Beaufort, senior, now that his mind was more at ease about his son, he
was thoroughly sick of the whole thing; greatly bored by the society of
Mr. Morton; very much ashamed that he, so respectable and great a man,
should be employed on such an errand; more afraid of, than pleased with,
any chance of discovering the fierce Philip; and secretly resolved upon
slinking back to London at the first reasonable excuse.

The next morning Mr. Sharp entered betimes Mr. Stubmore's counting-house.
In the yard he caught a glimpse of Philip, and managed to keep himself
unseen by that young gentleman.

"Mr. Stubmore, I think?"

"At your service, sir."

Mr. Sharp shut the glass door mysteriously, and lifting up the corner of
a green curtain that covered the panes, beckoned to the startled Stubmore
to approach.

"You see that 'ere young man in the velveteen jacket? you employs him?"

"I do, sir; he's my right hand."

"Well, now, don't be frightened, but his friends are arter him. He has
got into bad ways, and we want you to give him a little good advice."

"Pooh! I know he has run away, like a fine-spirited lad as he is; and as
long as he likes to stay with me, they as comes after him may get a
ducking in the horse-trough!"

"Be you a father? a father of a family, Mr. Stubmore?" said Sharp,
thrusting his hands into his breeches pockets, swelling out his stomach,
and pursing up his lips with great solemnity.

"Nonsense! no gammon with me! Take your chaff to the goslings. I tells
you I can't do without that 'ere lad. Every man to himself."

"Oho!" thought Sharp, "I must change the tack."

"Mr. Stubmore," said he, taking a stool, "you speaks like a sensible man.
No one can reasonably go for to ask a gentleman to go for to
inconvenience hisself. But what do you know of that 'ere youngster. Had
you a carakter with him?"

"What's that to you?"

"Why, it's more to yourself, Mr. Stubmore; he is but a lad, and if he
goes back to his friends they may take care of him, but he got into a bad
set afore he come here. Do you know a good-looking chap with whiskers,
who talks of his pheaton, and was riding last night on a brown mare?"

"Y--e--s!" said Mr. Stubmore, growing rather pale, "and I knows the mare,
too. Why, sir, I sold him that mare!"

"Did he pay you for her?"

"Why, to be sure, he gave me a cheque on Coutts."

"And you took it! My eyes! what a flat!" Here Mr. Sharp closed the orbs
he had invoked, and whistled with that self-hugging delight which men
invariably feel when another man is taken in.

Mr. Stubmore became evidently nervous.

"Why, what now;--you don't think I'm done? I did not let him have the
mare till I went to the hotel,--found he was cutting a great dash there,
a groom, a pheaton, and a fine horse, and as extravagant as the devil!"

"O Lord!--O Lord! what a world this is! What does he call his-self?"

"Why, here's the cheque--George Frederick de--de Burgh Smith."

"Put it in your pipe, my man,--put it in your pipe--not worth a d---!"

"And who the deuce are you, sir?" bawled out Mr. Stubmore, in an equal
rage both with himself and his guest.

"I, sir," said the visitor, rising with great dignity,--"I, sir, am of
the great Bow Street Office, and my name is John Sharp!"

Mr. Stubmore nearly fell off his stool, his eyes rolled in his head, and
his teeth chattered. Mr. Sharp perceived the advantage he had gained, and
continued,--

"Yes, sir; and I could have much to say against that chap, who is nothing
more or less than Dashing Jerry, as has ruined more girls and more
tradesmen than any lord in the land. And so I called to give you a bit of
caution; for, says I to myself, 'Mr. Stubmore is a respectable man.'"

"I hope I am, sir," said the crestfallen horse-dealer; "that was always
my character."

"And the father of a family?"

"Three boys and a babe at the buzzom," said Mr. Stubmore pathetically.

"And he sha'n't be taken in if I can help it! That 'ere young man as I am
arter, you see, knows Captain Smith--ha! ha!--smell a rat now--eh?"

"Captain Smith said he knew him--the wiper--and that's what made me so
green."

"Well, we must not be hard on the youngster: 'cause why? he has friends
as is gemmen. But you tell him to go back to his poor dear relations, and
all shall be forgiven; and say as how you won't keep him; and if he don't
go back, he'll have to get his livelihood without a carakter; and use
your influence with him like a man and a Christian, and what's more, like
the father of a family--Mr. Stub more--with three boys and a babe at the
buzzom. You won't keep him now?"

"Keep him! I have had a precious escape. I'd better go and see after the
mare."

"I doubt if you'll find her: the Captain caught a sight of me this
morning. Why, he lodges at our hotel. He's off by this time!"

"And why the devil did you let him go?"

"'Cause I had no writ agin him!" said the Bow Street officer; and he
walked straight out of the counting-office, satisfied that he had "done
the job."

To snatch his hat--to run to the hotel--to find that Captain Smith had
indeed gone off in his phaeton, bag and baggage, the same as he came,
except that he had now two horses to the phaeton instead of one--having
left with the landlord the amount of his bill in another cheque upon
Coutts--was the work of five minutes with Mr. Stubmore. He returned home,
panting and purple with indignation and wounded feeling.

"To think that chap, whom I took into my yard like a son, should have
connived at this! 'Tain't the money'tis the willany that 'flicts me!"
muttered Mr. Stubmore, as he re-entered the mews.

Here he came plump upon Philip, who said--

"Sir, I wished to see you, to say that you had better take care of
Captain Smith."

"Oh, you did, did you, now he's gone? 'sconded off to America, I dare
say, by this time. Now look ye, young man; your friends are after you, I
won't say anything agin you; but you go back to them--I wash my hands of
you. Quite too much for me. There's your week, and never let me catch you
in my yard agin, that's all!"

Philip dropped the money which Stubmore had put into his hand. "My
friends!--friends have been with you, have they? I thought so--I thank
them. And so you part with me? Well, you have been very kind, very kind;
let us part kindly;" and he held out his hand.

Mr. Stubmore was softened--he touched the hand held out to him, and
looked doubtful a moment; but Captain de Burgh Smith's cheque for eighty
guineas suddenly rose before his eyes. He turned on his heel abruptly,
and said, over his shoulder:

"Don't go after Captain Smith (he'll come to the gallows); mend your
ways, and be ruled by your poor dear relatives, whose hearts you are
breaking."

"Captain Smith! Did my relations tell you?"

"Yes--yes--they told me all--that is, they sent to tell me; so you see
I'm d---d soft not to lay hold of you. But, perhaps, if they be gemmen,
they'll act as sich, and cash me this here cheque!"

But the last words were said to air. Philip had rushed from the yard.

With a heaving breast, and every nerve in his body quivering with wrath,
the proud, unhappy boy strode through the gay streets. They had betrayed
him then, these accursed Beauforts! they circled his steps with schemes
to drive him like a deer into the snare of their loathsome charity! The
roof was to be taken from his head--the bread from his lips--so that he
might fawn at their knees for bounty. "But they shall not break my
spirit, nor steal away my curse. No, my dead mother, never!"

As he thus muttered, he passed through a patch of waste land that led to
the row of houses in which his lodging was placed. And here a voice
called to him, and a hand was laid on his shoulder. He turned, and Arthur
Beaufort, who had followed him from the street, stood behind him. Philip
did not, at the first glance, recognise his cousin; illness had so
altered him, and his dress was so different from that in which he had
first and last beheld him. The contrast between the two young men was
remarkable. Philip was clad in a rough garb suited to his late calling--a
jacket of black velveteen, ill-fitting and ill-fashioned, loose fustian
trousers, coarse shoes, his hat set deep over his pent eyebrows, his
raven hair long and neglected. He was just at that age when one with
strong features and robust frame is at the worst in point of
appearance--the sinewy proportions not yet sufficiently fleshed, and
seeming inharmonious and undeveloped; precisely in proportion, perhaps,
to the symmetry towards which they insensibly mature: the contour of the
face sharpened from the roundness of boyhood, and losing its bloom
without yet acquiring that relief and shadow which make the expression
and dignity of the masculine countenance. Thus accoutred, thus gaunt, and
uncouth, stood Morton. Arthur Beaufort, always refined in his appearance,
seemed yet more so from the almost feminine delicacy which ill-health
threw over his pale complexion and graceful figure; that sort of
unconscious elegance which belongs to the dress of the rich when they are
young--seen most in minutiae--not observable, perhaps, by
themselves-marked forcibly and painfully the distinction of rank between
the two. That distinction Beaufort did not feel; but at a glance it was
visible to Philip.

The past rushed back on him. The sunny lawn-the gun offered and
rejected-the pride of old, much less haughty than the pride of to-day.

"Philip," said Beaufort, feebly, "they tell me you will not accept any
kindness from me or mine. Ah! if you knew how we have sought you!"

"Knew!" cried Philip, savagely, for that unlucky sentence recalled to him
his late interview with his employer, and his present destitution. "Knew!
And why have you dared to hunt me out, and halloo me down?--why must this
insolent tyranny, that assumes the right over these limbs and this free
will, betray and expose me and my wretchedness wherever I turn?"

"Your poor mother--" began Beaufort.

"Name her not with your lips--name her not!" cried Philip, growing livid
with his emotions. "Talk not of the mercy--the forethought--a Beaufort
could show to leer and her offspring! I accept it not--I believe it not.
Oh, yes! you follow me now with your false kindness; and why? Because
your father--your vain, hollow, heartless father--"

"Hold!" said Beaufort, in a tone of such reproach, that it startled the
wild heart on which it fell; "it is my father you speak of. Let the son
respect the son."

"No--no--no! I will respect none of your race. I tell you your father
fears me. I tell you that my last words to him ring in his ears! My
wrongs! Arthur Beaufort, when you are absent I seek to forget them; in
your abhorred presence they revive--they--"

He stopped, almost choked with his passion; but continued instantly, with
equal intensity of fervour:

"Were yon tree the gibbet, and to touch your hand could alone save me from
it, I would scorn your aid. Aid! The very thought fires my blood and
nerves my hand. Aid! Will a Beaufort give me back my birthright--restore
my dead mother's fair name? Minion!--sleek, dainty, luxurious
minion!--out of my path! You have my fortune, my station, my rights; I
have but poverty, and hate, and disdain. I swear, again and again, that
you shall not purchase these from me."

"But, Philip--Philip," cried Beaufort, catching his arm; "hear one--hear
one who stood by your--"

The sentence that would have saved the outcast from the demons that were
darkening and swooping round his soul, died upon the young Protector's
lips. Blinded, maddened, excited, and exasperated, almost out of humanity
itself, Philip fiercely--brutally--swung aside the enfeebled form that
sought to cling to him, and Beaufort fell at his feet. Morton
stopped--glared at him with clenched hands and a smiling lip, sprung over
his prostrate form, and bounded to his home.

He slackened his pace as he neared the house, and looked behind; but
Beaufort had not followed him. He entered the house, and found Sidney in
the room, with a countenance so much more gay than that he had lately
worn, that, absorbed as he was in thought and passion, it yet did not
fail to strike him.

"What has pleased you, Sidney?" The child smiled.

"Ah! it is a secret--I was not to tell you. But I'm sure you are not the
naughty boy he says you are."

"He!--who?"

"Don't look so angry, Philip: you frighten me!"

"And you torture me. Who could malign one brother to the other?"

"Oh! it was all meant very kindly--there's been such a nice, dear, good
gentleman here, and he cried when he saw me, and said he knew dear mamma.
Well, and he has promised to take me home with him and give me a pretty
pony--as pretty--as pretty--oh, as pretty as it can be got! And he is to
call again and tell me more: I think he is a fairy, Philip."

"Did he say that he was to take me, too, Sidney?" said Morton, seating
himself, and looking very pale. At that question Sidney hung his head.

"No, brother--he says you won't go, and that you are a bad boy--and that
you associate with wicked people--and that you want to keep me shut up
here and not let any one be good to me. But I told him I did not believe
that--yes, indeed, I told him so."

And Sidney endeavoured caressingly to withdraw the hands that his brother
placed before his face.

Morton started up, and walked hastily to and fro the room. "This,"
thought he, "is another emissary of the Beauforts'--perhaps the lawyer:
they will take him from me--the last thing left to love and hope for. I
will foil them."

"Sidney," he said aloud, "we must go hence today, this very hour-nay,
instantly."

"What! away from this nice, good gentleman?"

"Curse him! yes, away from him. Do not cry--it is of no use--you must
go."

This was said more harshly than Philip had ever yet spoken to Sidney; and
when he had said it, he left the room to settle with the landlady, and to
pack up their scanty effects. In another hour, the brothers had turned
their backs on the town.




CHAPTER X.

               "I'll carry thee
        In sorrow's arms to welcome Misery."

               HEYWOOD's Duchess of Sufolk.

        "Who's here besides foul weather?"
                   SHAKSPEARE Lear.

The sun was as bright and the sky as calm during the journey of the
orphans as in the last. They avoided, as before, the main roads, and
their way lay through landscapes that might have charmed a Gainsborough's
eye. Autumn scattered its last hues of gold over the various foliage, and
the poppy glowed from the hedges, and the wild convolvuli, here and
there, still gleamed on the wayside with a parting smile.

At times, over the sloping stubbles, broke the sound of the sportsman's
gun; and ever and anon, by stream and sedge, they startled the shy wild
fowl, just come from the far lands, nor yet settled in the new haunts too
soon to be invaded.

But there was no longer in the travellers the same hearts that had made
light of hardship and fatigue. Sidney was no longer flying from a harsh
master, and his step was not elastic with the energy of fear that looked
behind, and of hope that smiled before. He was going a toilsome, weary
journey, he knew not why nor whither; just, too, when he had made a
friend, whose soothing words haunted his childish fancy. He was
displeased with Philip, and in sullen and silent thoughtfulness slowly
plodded behind him; and Morton himself was gloomy, and knew not where in
the world to seek a future.

They arrived at dusk at a small inn, not so far distant from the town
they had left as Morton could have wished; but the days were shorter than
in their first flight.

They were shown into a small sanded parlour, which Sidney eyed with great
disgust; nor did he seem more pleased with the hacked and jagged leg of
cold mutton, which was all that the hostess set before them for supper.
Philip in vain endeavoured to cheer him up, and ate to set him the
example. He felt relieved when, under the auspices of a good-looking,
good-natured chambermaid, Sidney retired to rest, and he was left in the
parlour to his own meditations. Hitherto it had been a happy thing for
Morton that he had had some one dependent on him; that feeling had given
him perseverance, patience, fortitude, and hope. But now, dispirited and
sad, he felt rather the horror of being responsible for a human life,
without seeing the means to discharge the trust. It was clear, even to
his experience, that he was not likely to find another employer as facile
as Mr. Stubmore; and wherever he went, he felt as if his Destiny stalked
at his back. He took out his little fortune and spread it on the table,
counting it over and over; it had remained pretty stationary since his
service with Mr. Stubmore, for Sidney had swallowed up the wages of his
hire. While thus employed, the door opened, and the chambermaid, showing
in a gentleman, said, "We have no other room, sir."

"Very well, then,--I'm not particular; a tumbler of braundy and water,
stiffish, cold without, the newspaper--and a cigar. You'll excuse
smoking, sir?"

Philip looked up from his hoard, and Captain de Burgh Smith stood before
him.

"Ah!" said the latter, "well met!" And closing the door, he took off his
great-coat, seated himself near Philip, and bent both his eyes with
considerable wistfulness on the neat rows into which Philip's bank-notes,
sovereigns, and shillings were arrayed.

"Pretty little sum for pocket money; caush in hand goes a great way,
properly invested. You must have been very lucky. Well, so I suppose you
are surprised to see me here without my pheaton?"

"I wish I had never seen you at all," replied Philip, uncourteously, and
restoring his money to his pocket; "your fraud upon Mr. Stubmore, and
your assurance that you knew me, have sent me adrift upon the world."

"What's one man's meat is another man's poison," said the captain,
philosophically; "no use fretting, care killed a cat. I am as badly off
as you; for, hang me, if there was not a Bow Street runner in the town. I
caught his eye fixed on me like a gimlet: so I bolted--went to N----,
left my pheaton and groom there for the present, and have doubled back,
to bauffle pursuit, and cut across the country. You recollect that voice
girl we saw in the coach; 'gad, I served her spouse that is to be a
praetty trick! Borrowed his money under pretence of investing it in the
New Grand Anti-Dry-Rot Company; cool hundred--it's only just gone, sir."

Here the chambermaid entered with the brandy and water, the newspaper,
and cigar,--the captain lighted the last, took a deep sup from the
beverage, and said, gaily:

"Well, now, let us join fortunes; we are both, as you say, 'adrift.' Best
way to staund the breeze is to unite the caubles."

Philip shook his head, and, displeased with his companion, sought his
pillow. He took care to put his money under his head, and to lock his
door.

The brothers started at daybreak; Sidney was even more discontented than
on the previous day. The weather was hot and oppressive; they rested for
some hours at noon, and in the cool of the evening renewed their way.
Philip had made up his mind to steer for a town in the thick of a hunting
district, where he hoped his equestrian capacities might again befriend
him; and their path now lay through a chain of vast dreary commons, which
gave them at least the advantage to skirt the road-side unobserved. But,
somehow or other, either Philip had been misinformed as to an inn where
he had proposed to pass the night, or he had missed it; for the clouds
darkened, and the sun went down, and no vestige of human habitation was
discernible.

Sidney, footsore and querulous, began to weep, and declare that he could
stir no further; and while Philip, whose iron frame defied fatigue,
compassionately paused to rest his brother, a low roll of thunder broke
upon the gloomy air. "There will be a storm," said he, anxiously. "Come
on--pray, Sidney, come on."

"It is so cruel in you, brother Philip," replied Sidney, sobbing. "I wish
I had never--never gone with you."

A flash of lightning, that illuminated the whole heavens, lingered round
Sidney's pale face as he spoke; and Philip threw himself instinctively on
the child, as if to protect him even from the wrath of the unshelterable
flame. Sidney, hushed and terrified, clung to his brother's breast; after
a pause, he silently consented to resume their journey. But now the storm
came nearer and nearer to the wanderers. The darkness grew rapidly more
intense, save when the lightning lit up heaven and earth alike with
intolerable lustre. And when at length the rain began to fall in
merciless and drenching torrents, even Philip's brave heart failed him.
How could he ask Sidney to proceed, when they could scarcely see an inch
before them?--all that could now be done was to gain the high-road, and
hope for some passing conveyance. With fits and starts, and by the glare
of the lightning, they obtained their object; and stood at last on the
great broad thoroughfare, along which, since the day when the Roman
carved it from the waste, Misery hath plodded, and Luxury rolled, their
common way.

Philip had stripped handkerchief, coat, vest, all to shelter Sidney; and
he felt a kind of strange pleasure through the dark, even to hear
Sidney's voice wail and moan. But that voice grew more languid and
faint--it ceased--Sidney's weight hung heavy--heavier on the fostering
arm.

"For Heaven's sake, speak!--speak, Sidney!--only one word--I will carry
you in my arms!"

"I think I am dying," replied Sidney, in a low murmur; "I am so tired and
worn out I can go no further--I must lie here." And he sank at once upon
the reeking grass beside the road.. At this time the rain gradually
relaxed, the clouds broke away--a grey light succeeded to the
darkness--the lightning was more distant; and the thunder rolled onward
in its awful path. Kneeling on the ground, Philip supported his brother
in his arms, and cast his pleading eyes upward to the softening terrors
of the sky. A star, a solitary star-broke out for one moment, as if to
smile comfort upon him, and then vanished. But lo! in the distance there
suddenly gleamed a red, steady light, like that in some solitary window;
it was no will-o'-the-wisp, it was too stationary--human shelter was then
nearer than he had thought for. He pointed to the light, and whispered,
"Rouse yourself, one struggle more--it cannot be far off."

"It is impossible--I cannot stir," answered Sidney: and a sudden flash of
lightning showed his countenance, ghastly, as if with the damps of Death.
What could the brother do?--stay there, and see the boy perish before his
eyes? leave him on the road and fly to the friendly light? The last plan
was the sole one left, yet he shrank from it in greater terror than the
first. Was that a step that he heard across the road? He held his breath
to listen--a form became dimly visible--it approached.

Philip shouted aloud.

"What now?" answered the voice, and it seemed familiar to Morton's ear.
He sprang forward; and putting his face close to the wayfarer, thought to
recognise the features of Captain de Burgh Smith. The Captain, whose eyes
were yet more accustomed to the dark, made the first overture.

"Why, my lad, is it you then? 'Gad, you froightened me!"

Odious as this man had hitherto been to Philip, he was as welcome to him
as daylight now; he grasped his hand,--"My brother--a child--is here,
dying, I fear, with cold and fatigue; he cannot stir. Will you stay with
him--support him--but for a few moments, while I make to yon light? See,
I have money--plenty of money!"

"My good lad, it is very ugly work staying here at this hour:
still--where's the choild?"

"Here, here! make haste, raise him! that's right! God bless you! I shall
be back ere you think me gone."

He sprang from the road, and plunged through the heath, the furze, the
rank glistening pools, straight towards the light-as the swimmer towards
the shore.

The captain, though a rogue, was human; and when life--an innocent
life--is at stake, even a rogue's heart rises up from its weedy bed. He
muttered a few oaths, it is true, but he held the child in his arms; and,
taking out a little tin case, poured some brandy down Sidney's throat and
then, by way of company, down his own. The cordial revived the boy; he
opened his eyes, and said, "I think I can go on now, Philip."

       .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

We must return to Arthur Beaufort. He was naturally, though gentle, a
person of high spirit and not without pride. He rose from the ground with
bitter, resentful feelings and a blushing cheek, and went his way to the
hotel. Here he found Mr. Spencer just returned from his visit to Sidney.
Enchanted with the soft and endearing manners of his lost Catherine's
son, and deeply affected with the resemblance the child bore to the
mother as he had seen her last at the gay and rosy age of fair sixteen,
his description of the younger brother drew Beaufort's indignant thoughts
from the elder. He cordially concurred with Mr. Spencer in the wish to
save one so gentle from the domination of one so fierce; and this, after
all, was the child Catherine had most strongly commended to him. She had
said little of the elder; perhaps she had been aware of his ungracious
and untractable nature, and, as it seemed to Arthur Beaufort, his
predilections for a coarse and low career.

"Yes," said he, "this boy, then, shall console me for the perverse
brutality of the other. He shall indeed drink of my cup, and eat of my
bread, and be to me as a brother."

"What!" said Mr. Spencer, changing countenance, "you do not intend to
take Sidney to live with you. I meant him for my son--my adopted son."

"No; generous as you are," said Arthur, pressing his hand, "this charge
devolves on me--it is my right. I am the orphan's relation--his mother
consigned him to me. But he shall be taught to love you not the less."

Mr. Spencer was silent. He could not bear the thought of losing Sidney as
an inmate of his cheerless home, a tender relic of his early love. From
that moment he began to contemplate the possibility of securing Sidney to
himself, unknown to Beaufort.

The plans both of Arthur and Spencer were interrupted by the sudden
retreat of the brothers. They determined to depart different ways in
search of them. Spencer, as the more helpless of the two, obtained the
aid of Mr. Sharp; Beaufort departed with the lawyer.

Two travellers, in a hired barouche, were slowly dragged by a pair of
jaded posters along the commons I have just described.

"I think," said one, "that the storm is very much abated; heigho! what an
unpleasant night!"

"Unkimmon ugly, sir," answered the other; "and an awful long stage,
eighteen miles. These here remote places are quite behind the age,
sir--quite. However, I think we shall kitch them now."

"I am very much afraid of that eldest boy, Sharp. He seems a dreadful
vagabond."

"You see, sir, quite hand in glove with Dashing Jerry; met in the same
inn last night--preconcerted, you may be quite shure. It would be the
best day's job I have done this many a day to save that 'ere little
fellow from being corrupted. You sees he is just of a size to be useful
to these bad karakters. If they took to burglary, he would be a treasure
to them--slip him through a pane of glass like a ferret, sir."

"Don't talk of it, Sharp," said Mr. Spencer, with a groan; "and
recollect, if we get hold of him, that you are not to say a word to Mr.
Beaufort."

"I understand, sir; and I always goes with the gemman who behaves most
like a gemman."

Here a loud halloo was heard close by the horses' heads. "Good Heavens,
if that is a footpad!" said Mr. Spencer, shaking violently.

"Lord, sir, I have my barkers with me. Who's there?" The barouche
stopped--a man came to the window. "Excuse me, sir," said the stranger;
"but there is a poor boy here so tired and ill that I fear he will never
reach the next town, unless you will koindly give him a lift."

"A poor boy!" said Mr. Spencer, poking his head over the head of Mr.
Sharp. "Where?"

"If you would just drop him at the King's Awrms it would be a chaurity,"
said the man.

Sharp pinched Mr. Spencer in his shoulder. "That's Dashing Jerry; I'll
get out." So saying, he opened the door, jumped into the road, and
presently reappeared with the lost and welcome Sidney in his arms. "Ben't
this the boy?" he whispered to Mr. Spencer; and, taking the lamp from the
carriage, he raised it to the child's face.

"It is! it is! God be thanked!" exclaimed the worthy man.

"Will you leave him at the King's Awrms?--we shall be there in an hour or
two," cried the Captain.

"We! Who's we?" said Sharp, gruffly. "Why, myself and the choild's
brother."

"Oh!" said Sharp, raising the lantern to his own face; "you knows me, I
think, Master Jerry? Let me kitch you again, that's all. And give my
compliments to your 'sociate, and say, if he prosecutes this here hurchin
any more, we'll settle his bizness for him; and so take a hint and make
yourself scarce, old boy!"

With that Mr. Sharp jumped into the barouche, and bade the postboy drive
on as fast as he could.

Ten minutes after this abduction, Philip, followed by two labourers, with
a barrow, a lantern, and two blankets, returned from the hospitable farm
to which the light had conducted him. The spot where he had left Sidney,
and which he knew by a neighbouring milestone, was vacant; he shouted an
alarm, and the Captain answered from the distance of some threescore
yards. Philip came to him. "Where is my brother?"

"Gone away in a barouche and pair. Devil take me if I understand it." And
the Captain proceeded to give a confused account of what had passed.

"My brother! my brother! they have torn thee from me, then;" cried
Philip, and he fell to the earth insensible.




CHAPTER XI.

     "Vous me rendrez mon frere!"
        CASIMER DELAVIGNE: Les Enfans d'Edouard.

     ['You shall restore me my brother!]

One evening, a week after this event, a wild, tattered, haggard youth
knocked at the door of Mr. Robert Beaufort. The porter slowly presented
himself.

"Is your master at home? I must see him instantly."

"That's more than you can, my man; my master does not see the like of
you at this time of night," replied the porter, eying the ragged
apparition before him with great disdain.

"See me he must and shall," replied the young man; and as the porter
blocked up the entrance, he grasped his collar with a hand of iron, swung
him, huge as he was, aside, and strode into the spacious hall.

"Stop! stop!" cried the porter, recovering himself. "James! John! here's
a go!"

Mr. Robert Beaufort had been back in town several days. Mrs. Beaufort,
who was waiting his return from his club, was in the dining-room. Hearing
a noise in the hall, she opened the door, and saw the strange grim figure
I have described, advancing towards her. "Who are you?" said she; "and
what do you want?"

"I am Philip Morton. Who are you?"

"My husband," said Mrs. Beaufort, shrinking into the parlour, while
Morton followed her and closed the door, "my husband, Mr. Beaufort, is
not at home."

"You are Mrs. Beaufort, then! Well, you can understand me. I want my
brother. He has been basely reft from me. Tell me where he is, and I will
forgive all. Restore him to me, and I will bless you and yours." And
Philip fell on his knees and grasped the train of her gown. "I know
nothing of your brother, Mr. Morton," cried Mrs. Beaufort, surprised and
alarmed. "Arthur, whom we expect every day, writes us word that all
search for him has been in vain."

"Ha! you admit the search?" cried Morton, rising and clenching his hands.
"And who else but you or yours would have parted brother and brother?
Answer me where he is. No subterfuge, madam: I am desperate!"

Mrs. Beaufort, though a woman of that worldly coldness and indifference
which, on ordinary occasions, supply the place of courage, was extremely
terrified by the tone and mien of her rude guest. She laid her hand on
the bell; but Morton seized her arm, and, holding it sternly, said, while
his dark eyes shot fire through the glimmering room, "I will not stir
hence till you have told me. Will you reject my gratitude, my blessing?
Beware! Again, where have you hid my brother?"

At that instant the door opened, and Mr. Robert Beaufort entered. The
lady, with a shriek of joy, wrenched herself from Philip's grasp, and
flew to her husband.

"Save me from this ruffian!" she said, with an hysterical sob.

Mr. Beaufort, who had heard from Blackwell strange accounts of Philip's
obdurate perverseness, vile associates, and unredeemable character, was
roused from his usual timidity by the appeal of his wife.

"Insolent reprobate!" he said, advancing to Philip; "after all the absurd
goodness of my son and myself; after rejecting all our offers, and
persisting in your miserable and vicious conduct, how dare you presume to
force yourself into this house? Begone, or I will send for the constables
to remove YOU!

"Man, man," cried Philip, restraining the fury that shook him from head
to foot, "I care not for your threats--I scarcely hear your abuse--your
son, or yourself, has stolen away my brother: tell me only where he is;
let me see him once more. Do not drive me hence, without one word of
justice, of pity. I implore you--on my knees I implore you--yes, I,--I
implore you, Robert Beaufort, to have mercy on your brother's son. Where
is Sidney?" Like all mean and cowardly men, Robert Beaufort was rather
encouraged than softened by Philip's abrupt humility.

"I know nothing of your brother; and if this is not all some villainous
trick--which it may be--I am heartily rejoiced that he, poor child! is
rescued from the contamination of such a companion," answered Beaufort.

"I am at your feet still; again, for the last time, clinging to you a
suppliant: I pray you to tell me the truth."

Mr. Beaufort, more and more exasperated by Morton's forbearance, raised
his hand as if to strike; when, at that moment, one hitherto
unobserved--one who, terrified by the scene she had witnessed but could
not comprehend, had slunk into a dark corner of the room,--now came from
her retreat. And a child's soft voice was heard, saying:

"Do not strike him, papa!--let him have his brother!" Mr. Beaufort's arm
fell to his side: kneeling before him, and by the outcast's side, was his
own young daughter; she had crept into the room unobserved, when her
father entered. Through the dim shadows, relieved only by the red and
fitful gleam of the fire, he saw her fair meek face looking up wistfully
at his own, with tears of excitement, and perhaps of pity--for children
have a quick insight into the reality of grief in those not far removed
from their own years--glistening in her soft eyes. Philip looked round
bewildered, and he saw that face which seemed to him, at such a time,
like the face of an angel.

"Hear her!" he murmured: "Oh, hear her! For her sake, do not sever one
orphan from the other!"

"Take away that child, Mrs. Beaufort," cried Robert, angrily. "Will you
let her disgrace herself thus? And you, sir, begone from this roof; and
when you can approach me with due respect, I will give you, as I said I
would, the means to get an honest living."

Philip rose; Mrs. Beaufort had already led away her daughter, and she
took that opportunity of sending in the servants: their forms filled up
the doorway.

"Will you go?" continued Mr. Beaufort, more and more emboldened, as he
saw the menials at hand, "or shall they expel you?"

"It is enough, sir," said Philip, with a sudden calm and dignity that
surprised and almost awed his uncle. "My father, if the dead yet watch
over the living, has seen and heard you. There will come a day for
justice. Out of my path, hirelings!"

He waved his arm, and the menials shrank back at his tread, stalked
across the inhospitable hall, and vanished. When he had gained the
street, he turned and looked up at the house. His dark and hollow eyes,
gleaming through the long and raven hair that fell profusely over his
face, had in them an expression of menace almost preternatural, from its
settled calmness; the wild and untutored majesty which, though rags and
squalor, never deserted his form, as it never does the forms of men in
whom the will is strong and the sense of injustice deep; the outstretched
arm the haggard, but noble features; the bloomless and scathed youth, all
gave to his features and his stature an aspect awful in its sinister and
voiceless wrath. There he stood a moment, like one to whom woe and wrong
have given a Prophet's power, guiding the eye of the unforgetful Fate to
the roof of the Oppressor. Then slowly, and with a half smile, he turned
away, and strode through the streets till he arrived at one of the narrow
lanes that intersect the more equivocal quarters of the huge city. He
stopped at the private entrance of a small pawnbroker's shop; the door
was opened by a slipshod boy; he ascended the dingy stairs till he came
to the second floor; and there, in a small back room, he found Captain de
Burgh Smith, seated before a table with a couple of candles on it,
smoking a cigar, and playing at cards by himself.

"Well, what news of your brother, Bully Phil?"

"None: they will reveal nothing."

"Do you give him up?"

"Never! My hope now is in you."

"Well, I thought you would be driven to come to me, and I will do
something for you that I should not loike to do for myself. I told you
that I knew the Bow Street runner who was in the barouche. I will find
him out--Heaven knows that is easily done; and, if you can pay well, you
will get your news."

"You shall have all I possess, if you restore my brother. See what it is,
one hundred pounds--it was his fortune. It is useless to me without him.
There, take fifty now, and if--"

Philip stopped, for his voice trembled too much to allow him farther
speech. Captain Smith thrust the notes into his pocket, and said--

"We'll consider it settled."

Captain Smith fulfilled his promise. He saw the Bow Street officer. Mr.
Sharp had been bribed too high by the opposite party to tell tales, and
he willingly encouraged the suspicion that Sidney was under the care of
the Beauforts. He promised, however, for the sake of ten guineas, to
procure Philip a letter from Sidney himself. This was all he would
undertake.

Philip was satisfied. At the end of another week, Mr. Sharp transmitted
to the Captain a letter, which he, in his turn, gave to Philip. It ran
thus, in Sidney's own sprawling hand:

"DEAR BROTHER PHILIP,--I am told you wish to know how I am, and therfore
take up my pen, and assure you that I write all out of my own head. I am
very Comfortable and happy--much more so than I have been since poor deir
mama died; so I beg you won't vex yourself about me: and pray don't try
and Find me out, For I would not go with you again for the world. I am so
much better Off here. I wish you would be a good boy, and leave off your
Bad ways; for I am sure, as every one says, I don't know what would have
become of me if I had staid with you. Mr. [the Mr. half scratched out]
the gentleman I am with, says if you turn out Properly, he will be a
friend to you, Too; but he advises you to go, like a Good boy, to Arthur
Beaufort, and ask his pardon for the past, and then Arthur will be very
kind to you. I send you a great Big sum of L20., and the gentleman says
he would send more, only it might make you naughty, and set up. I go to
church now every Sunday, and read good books, and always pray that God
may open your eyes. I have such a Nice Pony, with such a long tale. So no
more at present from your affectionate brother, SIDNEY MORTON."

Oct. 8, 18--

"Pray, pray don't come after me Any more. You know I neerly died of it,
but for this deir good gentleman I am with."

So this, then, was the crowning reward of all his sufferings and all his
love! There was the letter, evidently undictated, with its errors of
orthography, and in the child's rough scrawl; the serpent's tooth pierced
to the heart, and left there its most lasting venom.

"I have done with him for ever," said Philip, brushing away the bitter
tears. "I will molest him no farther; I care no more to pierce this
mystery. Better for him as it is--he is happy! Well, well, and I--I will
never care for a human being again."

He bowed his head over his hands; and when he rose, his heart felt to him
like stone. It seemed as if Conscience herself had fled from his soul on
the wings of departed Love.




CHAPTER XII.

        "But you have found the mountain's top--there sit
        On the calm flourishing head of it;
        And whilst with wearied steps we upward go,
        See us and clouds below."--COWLEY.

It was true that Sidney was happy in his new home, and thither we must
now trace him.

On reaching the town where the travellers in the barouche had been
requested to leave Sidney, "The King's Arms" was precisely the inn
eschewed by Mr. Spencer. While the horses were being changed, he summoned
the surgeon of the town to examine the child, who had already much
recovered; and by stripping his clothes, wrapping him in warm blankets,
and administering cordials, he was permitted to reach another stage, so
as to baffle pursuit that night; and in three days Mr. Spencer had placed
his new charge with his maiden sisters, a hundred and fifty miles from
the spot where he had been found. He would not take him to his own home
yet. He feared the claims of Arthur Beaufort. He artfully wrote to that
gentleman, stating that he had abandoned the chase of Sidney in despair,
and desiring to know if he had discovered him; and a bribe of L300. to
Mr. Sharp with a candid exposition of his reasons for secreting
Sidney--reasons in which the worthy officer professed to
sympathise--secured the discretion of his ally. But he would not deny
himself the pleasure of being in the same house with Sidney, and was
therefore for some months the guest of his sisters. At length he heard
that young Beaufort had been ordered abroad for his health, and he then
deemed it safe to transfer his new idol to his Lares by the lakes. During
this interval the current of the younger Morton's life had indeed flowed
through flowers. At his age the cares of females were almost a want as
well as a luxury, and the sisters spoiled and petted him as much as any
elderly nymphs in Cytherea ever petted Cupid. They were good, excellent,
high-nosed, flat-bosomed spinsters, sentimentally fond of their brother,
whom they called "the poet," and dotingly attached to children. The
cleanness, the quiet, the good cheer of their neat abode, all tended to
revive and invigorate the spirits of their young guest, and every one
there seemed to vie which should love him the most. Still his especial
favourite was Mr. Spencer: for Spencer never went out without bringing
back cakes and toys; and Spencer gave him his pony; and Spencer rode a
little crop-eared nag by his side; and Spencer, in short, was associated
with his every comfort and caprice. He told them his little history; and
when he said how Philip had left him alone for long hours together, and
how Philip had forced him to his last and nearly fatal journey, the old
maids groaned, and the old bachelor sighed, and they all cried in a
breath, that "Philip was a very wicked boy." It was not only their
obvious policy to detach him from his brother, but it was their sincere
conviction that they did right to do so. Sidney began, it is true, by
taking Philip's part; but his mind was ductile, and he still looked back
with a shudder to the hardships he had gone through: and so by little and
little he learned to forget all the endearing and fostering love Philip
had evinced to him; to connect his name with dark and mysterious fears;
to repeat thanksgivings to Providence that he was saved from him; and to
hope that they might never meet again. In fact, when Mr. Spencer learned
from Sharp that it was through Captain Smith, the swindler, that
application had been made by Philip for news of his brother, and having
also learned before, from the same person, that Philip had been
implicated in the sale of a horse, swindled, if not stolen, he saw every
additional reason to widen the stream that flowed between the wolf and
the lamb. The older Sidney grew, the better he comprehended and
appreciated the motives of his protector--for he was brought up in a
formal school of propriety and ethics, and his mind naturally revolted
from all images of violence or fraud. Mr. Spencer changed both the
Christian and the surname of his protege, in order to elude the search
whether of Philip, the Mortons, or the Beauforts, and Sidney passed for
his nephew by a younger brother who had died in India.

So there, by the calm banks of the placid lake, amidst the fairest
landscapes of the Island Garden, the youngest born of Catherine passed
his tranquil days. The monotony of the retreat did not fatigue a spirit
which, as he grew up, found occupation in books, music, poetry, and the
elegances of the cultivated, if quiet, life within his reach. To the
rough past he looked back as to an evil dream, in which the image of
Philip stood dark and threatening. His brother's name as he grew older he
rarely mentioned; and if he did volunteer it to Mr. Spencer, the bloom on
his cheek grew paler. The sweetness of his manners, his fair face and
winning smile, still continued to secure him love, and to screen from the
common eye whatever of selfishness yet lurked in his nature. And, indeed,
that fault in so serene a career, and with friends so attached, was
seldom called into action. So thus was he severed from both the
protectors, Arthur and Philip, to whom poor Catherine had bequeathed him.

By a perverse and strange mystery, they, to whom the charge was most
intrusted were the very persons who were forbidden to redeem it. On our
death-beds when we think we have provided for those we leave
behind--should we lose the last smile that gilds the solemn agony, if we
could look one year into the Future?

Arthur Beaufort, after an ineffectual search for Sidney, heard, on
returning to his home, no unexaggerated narrative of Philip's visit, and
listened, with deep resentment, to his mother's distorted account of the
language addressed to her. It is not to be surprised that, with all his
romantic generosity, he felt sickened and revolted at violence that
seemed to him without excuse. Though not a revengeful character, he had
not that meekness which never resents. He looked upon Philip Morton as
upon one rendered incorrigible by bad passions and evil company. Still
Catherine's last request, and Philip's note to him, the Unknown
Comforter, often recurred to him, and he would have willingly yet aided
him had Philip been thrown in his way. But as it was, when he looked
around, and saw the examples of that charity that begins at home, in
which the world abounds, he felt as if he had done his duty; and
prosperity having, though it could not harden his heart, still sapped the
habits of perseverance, so by little and little the image of the dying
Catherine, and the thought of her sons, faded from his remembrance. And
for this there was the more excuse after the receipt of an anonymous
letter, which relieved all his apprehensions on behalf of Sidney. The
letter was short, and stated simply that Sidney Morton had found a friend
who would protect him throughout life; but who would not scruple to apply
to Beaufort if ever he needed his assistance. So one son, and that the
youngest and the best loved, was safe. And the other, had he not chosen
his own career? Alas, poor Catherine! when you fancied that Philip was
the one sure to force his way into fortune, and Sidney the one most
helpless, how ill did you judge of the human heart! It was that very
strength of Philip's nature which tempted the winds that scattered the
blossoms, and shook the stem to its roots; while the lighter and frailer
nature bent to the gale, and bore transplanting to a happier soil. If a
parent read these pages, let him pause and think well on the characters
of his children; let him at once fear and hope the most for the one whose
passions and whose temper lead to a struggle with the world. That same
world is a tough wrestler, and has a bear's gripe.

Meanwhile, Arthur Beaufort's own complaints, which grew serious and
menaced consumption, recalled his thoughts more and more every day to
himself. He was compelled to abandon his career at the University, and to
seek for health in the softer breezes of the South. His parents
accompanied him to Nice; and when, at the end of a few months, he was
restored to health, the desire of travel seized the mind and attracted
the fancy of the young heir. His father and mother, satisfied with his
recovery, and not unwilling that he should acquire the polish of
Continental intercourse, returned to England; and young Beaufort, with
gay companions and munificent income, already courted, spoiled, and
flattered, commenced his tour with the fair climes of Italy.

So, O dark mystery of the Moral World!--so, unlike the order of the
External Universe, glide together, side by side, the shadowy steeds of
NIGHT AND MORNING. Examine life in its own world; confound not that
world, the inner one, the practical one, with the more visible, yet
airier and less substantial system, doing homage to the sun, to whose
throne, afar in the infinite space, the human heart has no wings to flee.
In life, the mind and the circumstance give the true seasons, and
regulate the darkness and the light. Of two men standing on the same foot
of earth, the one revels in the joyous noon, the other shudders in the
solitude of night. For Hope and Fortune, the day-star is ever shining.
For Care and Penury, Night changes not with the ticking of the clock, nor
with the shadow on the dial. Morning for the heir, night for the
houseless, and God's eye over both.




BOOK III.




CHAPTER I.

        "The knight of arts and industry,
        And his achievements fair."
   THOMSON'S Castle of Indolence: Explanatory Verse to Canto II.

In a popular and respectable, but not very fashionable quartier in Paris,
and in the tolerably broad and effective locale of the Rue ----, there
might be seen, at the time I now treat of, a curious-looking building,
that jutted out semicircularly from the neighbouring shops, with plaster
pilasters and compo ornaments. The virtuosi of the quartier had
discovered that the building was constructed in imitation of an ancient
temple in Rome; this erection, then fresh and new, reached only to the
entresol. The pilasters were painted light green and gilded in the
cornices, while, surmounting the architrave, were three little
statues--one held a torch, another a bow, and a third a bag; they were
therefore rumoured, I know not with what justice, to be the artistical
representatives of Hymen, Cupid and Fortune.

On the door was neatly engraved, on a brass plate, the following
inscription:

         "MONSIEUR LOVE, ANGLAIS,
            A L'ENTRESOL."

And if you had crossed the threshold and mounted the stairs, and gained
that mysterious story inhabited by Monsieur Love, you would have seen,
upon another door to the right, another epigraph, informing those
interested in the inquiry that the bureau, of M. Love was open daily from
nine in the morning to four in the afternoon.

The office of M. Love--for office it was, and of a nature not
unfrequently designated in the "petites affiches" of Paris--had been
established about six months; and whether it was the popularity of the
profession, or the shape of the shop, or the manners of M. Love himself,
I cannot pretend to say, but certain it is that the Temple of Hymen--as
M. Love classically termed it--had become exceedingly in vogue in the
Faubourg St.--. It was rumoured that no less than nine marriages in the
immediate neighbourhood had been manufactured at this fortunate office,
and that they had all turned out happily except one, in which the bride
being sixty, and the bridegroom twenty-four, there had been rumours of
domestic dissension; but as the lady had been delivered,--I mean of her
husband, who had drowned himself in the Seine, about a month after the
ceremony, things had turned out in the long run better than might have
been expected, and the widow was so little discouraged; that she had been
seen to enter the office already--a circumstance that was greatly to the
credit of Mr. Love.

Perhaps the secret of Mr. Love's success, and of the marked superiority
of his establishment in rank and popularity over similar ones, consisted
in the spirit and liberality with which the business was conducted. He
seemed resolved to destroy all formality between parties who might desire
to draw closer to each other, and he hit upon the lucky device of a table
d'hote, very well managed, and held twice a-week, and often followed by a
soiree dansante; so that, if they pleased, the aspirants to matrimonial
happiness might become acquainted without gene. As he himself was a
jolly, convivial fellow of much savoir vivre, it is astonishing how well
he made these entertainments answer. Persons who had not seemed to take
to each other in the first distant interview grew extremely enamoured
when the corks of the champagne--an extra of course in the
abonnement--bounced against the wall. Added to this, Mr. Love took great
pains to know the tradesmen in his neighbourhood; and, what with his
jokes, his appearance of easy circumstances, and the fluency with which
he spoke the language, he became a universal favourite. Many persons who
were uncommonly starched in general, and who professed to ridicule the
bureau, saw nothing improper in dining at the table d'hote. To those who
wished for secrecy he was said to be wonderfully discreet; but there were
others who did not affect to conceal their discontent at the single
state: for the rest, the entertainments were so contrived as never to
shock the delicacy, while they always forwarded the suit.

It was about eight o'clock in the evening, and Mr. Love was still seated
at dinner, or rather at dessert, with a party of guests. His apartments,
though small, were somewhat gaudily painted and furnished, and his
dining-room was decorated a la Turque. The party consisted-first, of a
rich epicier, a widower, Monsieur Goupille by name, an eminent man in the
Faubourg; he was in his grand climacteric, but still belhomme; wore a
very well-made peruque of light auburn, with tight pantaloons, which
contained a pair of very respectable calves; and his white neckcloth and
his large gill were washed and got up with especial care. Next to
Monsieur Goupille sat a very demure and very spare young lady of about
two-and-thirty, who was said to have saved a fortune--Heaven knows
how--in the family of a rich English milord, where she had officiated as
governess; she called herself Mademoiselle Adele de Courval, and was very
particular about the de, and very melancholy about her ancestors.
Monsieur Goupille generally put his finger through his peruque, and fell
away a little on his left pantaloon when he spoke to Mademoiselle de
Courval, and Mademoiselle de Courval generally pecked at her bouquet when
she answered Monsieur Goupille. On the other side of this young lady sat
a fine-looking fair man--M. Sovolofski, a Pole, buttoned up to the chin,
and rather threadbare, though uncommonly neat. He was flanked by a little
fat lady, who had been very pretty, and who kept a boarding-house, or
pension, for the English, she herself being English, though long
established in Paris. Rumour said she had been gay in her youth, and
dropped in Paris by a Russian nobleman, with a very pretty settlement,
she and the settlement having equally expanded by time and season: she
was called Madame Beavor. On the other side of the table was a red-headed
Englishman, who spoke very little French; who had been told that French
ladies were passionately fond of light hair; and who, having L2000. of
his own, intended to quadruple that sum by a prudent marriage. Nobody
knew what his family was, but his name was Higgins. His neighbour was an
exceedingly tall, large-boned Frenchman, with a long nose and a red
riband, who was much seen at Frascati's, and had served under Napoleon.
Then came another lady, extremely pretty, very piquante, and very gay,
but past the premiere jeunesse, who ogled Mr. Love more than she did any
of his guests: she was called Rosalie Caumartin, and was at the head of a
large bon-bon establishment; married, but her husband had gone four years
ago to the Isle of France, and she was a little doubtful whether she
might not be justly entitled to the privileges of a widow. Next to Mr.
Love, in the place of honour, sat no less a person than the Vicomte de
Vaudemont, a French gentleman, really well-born, but whose various
excesses, added to his poverty, had not served to sustain that respect
for his birth which he considered due to it. He had already been twice
married; once to an Englishwoman, who had been decoyed by the title; by
this lady, who died in childbed, he had one son; a fact which he
sedulously concealed from the world of Paris by keeping the unhappy
boy--who was now some eighteen or nineteen years old--a perpetual exile
in England. Monsieur de Vaudemont did not wish to pass for more than
thirty, and he considered that to produce a son of eighteen would be to
make the lad a monster of ingratitude by giving the lie every hour to his
own father! In spite of this precaution the Vicomte found great
difficulty in getting a third wife--especially as he had no actual land
and visible income; was, not seamed, but ploughed up, with the small-pox;
small of stature, and was considered more than un peu bete. He was,
however, a prodigious dandy, and wore a lace frill and embroidered
waistcoat. Mr. Love's vis-a-vis was Mr. Birnie, an Englishman, a sort of
assistant in the establishment, with a hard, dry, parchment face, and a
remarkable talent for silence. The host himself was a splendid animal;
his vast chest seemed to occupy more space at the table than any four of
his guests, yet he was not corpulent or unwieldy; he was dressed in
black, wore a velvet stock very high, and four gold studs glittered in
his shirt-front; he was bald to the crown, which made his forehead appear
singularly lofty, and what hair he had left was a little greyish and
curled; his face was shaved smoothly, except a close-clipped mustache;
and his eyes, though small, were bright and piercing. Such was the party.

"These are the best bon-bons I ever ate," said Mr. Love, glancing at
Madame Caumartin. "My fair friends, have compassion on the table of a
poor bachelor."

"But you ought not to be a bachelor, Monsieur Lofe," replied the fair
Rosalie, with an arch look; "you who make others marry, should set the
example."

"All in good time," answered Mr. Love, nodding; "one serves one's
customers to so much happiness that one has none left for one's self."

Here a loud explosion was heard. Monsieur Goupille had pulled one of the
bon-bon crackers with Mademoiselle Adele.

"I've got the motto!--no--Monsieur has it: I'm always unlucky," said the
gentle Adele.

The epicier solemnly unrolled the little slip of paper; the print was
very small, and he longed to take out his spectacles, but he thought that
would make him look old. However, he spelled through the motto with some
difficulty:--

        "Comme elle fait soumettre un coeur,
        En refusant son doux hommage,
        On peut traiter la coquette en vainqueur;
        De la beauty modeste on cherit l'esclavage."

   [The coquette, who subjugates a heart, yet refuses its tender
   homage, one may treat as a conqueror: of modest beauty we cherish
   the slavery.]

"I present it to Mademoiselle," said he, laying the motto solemnly in
Adele's plate, upon a little mountain of chestnut-husks.

"It is very pretty," said she, looking down.

"It is very a propos," whispered the epicier, caressing the peruque a
little too roughly in his emotion. Mr. Love gave him a kick under the
table, and put his finger to his own bald head, and then to his nose,
significantly. The intelligent epicier smoothed back the irritated
peruque.

"Are you fond of bon-bons, Mademoiselle Adele? I have a very fine stock
at home," said Monsieur Goupille. Mademoiselle Adele de Courval sighed:
"Helas! they remind me of happier days, when I was a petite and my dear
grandmamma took me in her lap and told me how she escaped the guillotine:
she was an emigree, and you know her father was a marquis."

The epicier bowed and looked puzzled. He did not quite see the connection
between the bon-bons and the guillotine. "You are triste, Monsieur,"
observed Madame Beavor, in rather a piqued tone, to the Pole, who had not
said a word since the roti.

"Madame, an exile is always triste: I think of my pauvre pays."

"Bah!" cried Mr. Love. "Think that there is no exile by the side of a
belle dame."

The Pole smiled mournfully.

"Pull it," said Madame Beavor, holding a cracker to the patriot, and
turning away her face.

"Yes, madame; I wish it were a cannon in defence of La Pologne."

With this magniloquent aspiration, the gallant Sovolofski pulled lustily,
and then rubbed his fingers, with a little grimace, observing that
crackers were sometimes dangerous, and that the present combustible was
d'une force immense.

          "Helas! J'ai cru jusqu'a ce jour
          Pouvoir triompher de l'amour,"

   [Alas! I believed until to-day that I could triumph over love.]

said Madame Beavor, reading the motto. "What do you say to that?"

"Madame, there is no triumph for La Pologne!" Madame Beavor uttered a
little peevish exclamation, and glanced in despair at her red-headed
countryman. "Are you, too, a great politician, sir?" said she in English.

"No, mem!--I'm all for the ladies."

"What does he say?" asked Madame Caumartin.

"Monsieur Higgins est tout pour les dames."

"To be sure he is," cried Mr. Love; "all the English are, especially with
that coloured hair; a lady who likes a passionate adorer should always
marry a man with gold-coloured hair--always. What do you say,
Mademoiselle Adele?"

"Oh, I like fair hair," said Mademoiselle, looking bashfully askew at
Monsieur Goupille's peruque. "Grandmamma said her papa--the marquis--used
yellow powder: it must have been very pretty."

"Rather a la sucre d' orge," remarked the epicier, smiling on the right
side of his mouth, where his best teeth were. Mademoiselle de Courval
looked displeased. "I fear you are a republican, Monsieur Goupille."

"I, Mademoiselle. No; I'm for the Restoration;" and again the epicier
perplexed himself to discover the association of idea between
republicanism and sucre d'orge.

"Another glass of wine. Come, another," said Mr. Love, stretching across
the Vicomte to help Madame Canmartin.

"Sir," said the tall Frenchman with the riband, eying the epicier with
great disdain, "you say you are for the Restoration--I am for the
Empire--Moi!"

"No politics!" cried Mr. Love. "Let us adjourn to the salon."

The Vicomte, who had seemed supremely ennuye during this dialogue,
plucked Mr. Love by the sleeve as he rose, and whispered petulantly, "I
do not see any one here to suit me, Monsieur Love--none of my rank."

"Mon Dieu!" answered Mr. Love: "point d' argent point de Suisse. I could
introduce you to a duchess, but then the fee is high. There's
Mademoiselle de Courval--she dates from the Carlovingians."

"She is very like a boiled sole," answered the Vicomte, with a wry face.
"Still-what dower has she?"

"Forty thousand francs, and sickly," replied Mr. Love; "but she likes a
tall man, and Monsieur Goupille is--"

"Tall men are never well made," interrupted the Vicomte, angrily; and he
drew himself aside as Mr. Love, gallantly advancing, gave his arm to
Madame Beavor, because the Pole had, in rising, folded both his own arms
across his breast.

"Excuse me, ma'am," said Mr. Love to Madame Beavor, as they adjourned to
the salon, "I don't think you manage that brave man well."

"Ma foi, comme il est ennuyeux avec sa Pologne," replied Madame Beavor,
shrugging her shoulders.

"True; but he is a very fine-shaped man; and it is a comfort to think
that one will have no rival but his country. Trust me, and encourage him
a little more; I think he would suit you to a T."

Here the attendant engaged for the evening announced Monsieur and Madame
Giraud; whereupon there entered a little--little couple, very fair, very
plump, and very like each other. This was Mr. Love's show couple--his
decoy ducks--his last best example of match-making; they had been married
two months out of the bureau, and were the admiration of the
neighbourhood for their conjugal affection. As they were now united, they
had ceased to frequent the table d'hote; but Mr. Love often invited them
after the dessert, pour encourager les autres.

"My dear friends," cried Mr. Love, shaking each by the hand, "I am
ravished to see you. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Monsieur and
Madame Giraud, the happiest couple in Christendom;--if I had done nothing
else in my life but bring them together I should not have lived in vain!"

The company eyed the objects of this eulogium with great attention.

"Monsieur, my prayer is to deserve my bonheur," said Monsieur Giraud.

"Cher ange!" murmured Madame: and the happy pair seated themselves next
to each other.

Mr. Love, who was all for those innocent pastimes which do away with
conventional formality and reserve, now proposed a game at "Hunt the
Slipper," which was welcomed by the whole party, except the Pole and the
Vicomte; though Mademoiselle Adele looked prudish, and observed to the
epicier, "that Monsieur Lofe was so droll, but she should not have liked
her pauvre grandmaman to see her."

The Vicomte had stationed himself opposite to Mademoiselle de Courval,
and kept his eyes fixed on her very tenderly.

"Mademoiselle, I see, does not approve of such bourgeois diversions,"
said he.

"No, monsieur," said the gentle Adele. "But I think we must sacrifice our
own tastes to those of the company."

"It is a very amiable sentiment," said the epicier.

"It is one attributed to grandmamma's papa, the Marquis de Courval. It
has become quite a hackneyed remark since," said Adele.

"Come, ladies," said the joyous Rosalie; "I volunteer my slipper."

"Asseyez-vous donc," said Madame Beavor to the Pole. "Have you no games of
this sort in Poland?"

"Madame, La Pologne is no more," said the Pole. "But with the swords of
her brave--"

"No swords here, if you please," said Mr. Love, putting his vast hands on
the Pole's shoulder, and sinking him forcibly down into the circle now
formed.

The game proceeded with great vigour and much laughter from Rosalie, Mr.
Love, and Madame Beavor, especially whenever the last thumped the Pole
with the heel of the slipper. Monsieur Giraud was always sure that Madame
Giraud had the slipper about her, which persuasion on his part gave rise
to many little endearments, which are always so innocent among married
people. The Vicomte and the epicier were equally certain the slipper was
with Mademoiselle Adele, who defended herself with much more energy than
might have been supposed in one so gentle. The epicier, however, grew
jealous of the attentions of his noble rival, and told him that he gene'd
mademoiselle; whereupon the Vicomte called him an impertinent; and the
tall Frenchman, with the riband, sprang up and said:

"Can I be of any assistance, gentlemen?"

Therewith Mr. Love, the great peacemaker, interposed, and reconciling the
rivals, proposed to change the game to Colin Maillard-Anglice, "Blind
Man's Buff." Rosalie clapped her hands, and offered herself to be
blindfolded. The tables and chairs were cleared away; and Madame Beaver
pushed the Pole into Rosalie's arms, who, having felt him about the face
for some moments, guessed him to be the tall Frenchman. During this time
Monsieur and Madame Giraud hid themselves behind the window-curtain.

"Amuse yourself, men ami," said Madame Beaver, to the liberated Pole.

"Ah, madame," sighed Monsieur Sovolofski, "how can I be gay! All my
property confiscated by the Emperor of Russia! Has La Pologne no Brutus?"

"I think you are in love," said the host, clapping him on the back.

"Are you quite sure," whispered the Pole to the matchmaker, "that Madame
Beavor has vingt mille livres de rentes?"

"Not a sous less."

The Pole mused, and, glancing at Madame Beavor, said, "And yet, madame,
your charming gaiety consoles me amidst all my suffering;" upon which
Madame Beavor called him "flatterer," and rapped his knuckles with her
fan; the latter proceeding the brave Pole did not seem to like, for he
immediately buried his hands in his trousers' pockets.

The game was now at its meridian. Rosalie was uncommonly active, and flew
about here and there, much to the harassment of the Pole, who repeatedly
wiped his forehead, and observed that it was warm work, and put him in
mind of the last sad battle for La Pologne. Monsieur Goupille, who had
lately taken lessons in dancing, and was vain of his agility--mounted the
chairs and tables, as Rosalie approached--with great grace and gravity.
It so happened that, in these saltations, he ascended a stool near the
curtain behind which Monsieur and Madame Giraud were ensconced. Somewhat
agitated by a slight flutter behind the folds, which made him fancy, on
the sudden panic, that Rosalie was creeping that way, the epicier made an
abrupt pirouette, and the hook on which the curtains were suspended
caught his left coat-tail,

      "The fatal vesture left the unguarded side;"

just as he turned to extricate the garment from that dilemma, Rosalie
sprang upon him, and naturally lifting her hands to that height where she
fancied the human face divine, took another extremity of Monsieur
Goupille's graceful frame thus exposed, by surprise.

"I don't know who this is. Quelle drole de visage!" muttered Rosalie.

"Mais, madame," faltered Monsieur Goupille, looking greatly disconcerted.

The gentle Adele, who did not seem to relish this adventure, came to the
relief of her wooer, and pinched Rosalie very sharply in the arm.

"That's not fair. But I will know who this is," cried Rosalie, angrily;
"you sha'n't escape!"

A sudden and universal burst of laughter roused her suspicions--she drew
back--and exclaiming, "Mais quelle mauvaise plaisanterie; c'est trop
fort!" applied her fair hand to the place in dispute, with so hearty a
good-will, that Monsieur Goupille uttered a dolorous cry, and sprang from
the chair leaving the coat-tail (the cause of all his woe) suspended upon
the hook.

It was just at this moment, and in the midst of the excitement caused by
Monsieur Goupille's misfortune, that the door opened, and the attendant
reappeared, followed by a young man in a large cloak.

The new-comer paused at the threshold, and gazed around him in evident
surprise.

"Diable!" said Mr. Love, approaching, and gazing hard at the stranger.
"Is it possible?--You are come at last? Welcome!"

"But," said the stranger, apparently still bewildered, "there is some
mistake; you are not--"

"Yes, I am Mr. Love!--Love all the world over. How is our friend
Gregg?--told you to address yourself to Mr. Love,--eh?--Mum!--Ladies and
gentlemen, an acquisition to our party. Fine fellow, eh?--Five feet
eleven without his shoes,--and young enough to hope to be thrice married
before he dies. When did you arrive?"

"To-day."

And thus, Philip Morton and Mr. William Gawtrey met once more.




CHAPTER II.

"Happy the man who, void of care and strife,
In silken or in leathern purse retains
A splendid shilling !"--The Splendid Shilling.

"And wherefore should they take or care for thought, The unreasoning
vulgar willingly obey, And leaving toil and poverty behind. Run forth by
different ways, the blissful boon to find." WEST'S Education.

"Poor, boy! your story interests me. The events are romantic, but the
moral is practical, old, everlasting--life, boy, life. Poverty by itself
is no such great curse; that is, if it stops short of starving. And
passion by itself is a noble thing, sir; but poverty and passion
together--poverty and feeling--poverty and pride--the poverty one is not
born to,--but falls into;--and the man who ousts you out of your
easy-chair, kicking you with every turn he takes, as he settles himself
more comfortably--why there's no romance in that--hard every-day life,
sir! Well, well:--so after your brother's letter you resigned yourself to
that fellow Smith."

"No; I gave him my money, not my soul. I turned from his door, with a few
shillings that he himself thrust into my hand, and walked on--I cared not
whither--out of the town, into the fields--till night came; and then,
just as I suddenly entered on the high-road, many miles away, the moon
rose; and I saw, by the hedge-side, something that seemed like a corpse;
it was an old beggar, in the last state of raggedness, disease, and
famine. He had laid himself down to die. I shared with him what I had,
and helped him to a little inn. As he crossed the threshold, he turned
round and blessed me. Do you know, the moment I heard that blessing a
stone seemed rolled away from my heart? I said to myself, 'What then!
even I can be of use to some one; and I am better off than that old man,
for I have youth and health.' As these thoughts stirred in me, my limbs,
before heavy with fatigue, grew light; a strange kind of excitement
seized me. I ran on gaily beneath the moonlight that smiled over the
crisp, broad road. I felt as if no house, not even a palace, were large
enough for me that night. And when, at last, wearied out, I crept into a
wood, and laid myself down to sleep, I still murmured to myself, 'I have
youth and health.' But, in the morning, when I rose, I stretched out my
arms, and missed my brother! . . . In two or three days I found
employment with a farmer; but we quarrelled after a few weeks; for once
he wished to strike me; and somehow or other I could work, but not serve.
Winter had begun when we parted.--Oh, such a winter!--Then--then I knew
what it was to be houseless. How I lived for some months--if to live it
can be called--it would pain you to hear, and humble me to tell. At last,
I found myself again in London; and one evening, not many days since, I
resolved at last--for nothing else seemed left, and I had not touched
food for two days--to come to you."

"And why did that never occur to you before?"!

"Because," said Philip, with a deep blush,--"because I trembled at the
power over my actions and my future life that I was to give to one, whom
I was to bless as a benefactor, yet distrust as a guide."

"Well," said Love, or Gawtrey, with a singular mixture of irony and
compassion in his voice; "and it was hunger, then, that terrified you at
last even more than I?"

"Perhaps hunger--or perhaps rather the reasoning that comes from hunger.
I had not, I say, touched food for two days; and I was standing on that
bridge, from which on one side you see the palace of a head of the
Church, on the other the towers of the Abbey, within which the men I have
read of in history lie buried. It was a cold, frosty evening, and the
river below looked bright with the lamps and stars. I leaned, weak and
sickening, against the wall of the bridge; and in one of the arched
recesses beside me a cripple held out his hat for pence. I envied
him!--he had a livelihood; he was inured to it, perhaps bred to it; he
had no shame. By a sudden impulse, I, too, turned abruptly round--held
out my hand to the first passenger, and started at the shrillness of my
own voice, as it cried 'Charity.'"

Gawtrey threw another log on the fire, looked complacently round the
comfortable room, and rubbed his hands. The young man continued,--

"'You should be ashamed of yourself--I've a great mind to give you to the
police,' was the answer, in a pert and sharp tone. I looked up, and saw
the livery my father's menials had worn. I had been begging my bread from
Robert Beaufort's lackey! I said nothing; the man went on his business on
tiptoe, that the mud might not splash above the soles of his shoes. Then,
thoughts so black that they seemed to blot out every star from the
sky--thoughts I had often wrestled against, but to which I now gave
myself up with a sort of mad joy--seized me: and I remembered you. I had
still preserved the address you gave me; I went straight to the house.
Your friend, on naming you, received me kindly, and without question
placed food before me--pressed on me clothing and money--procured me a
passport--gave me your address--and now I am beneath your roof. Gawtrey,
I know nothing yet of the world but the dark side of it. I know not what
to deem you--but as you alone have been kind to me, so it is to your
kindness rather than your aid, that I now cling--your kind words and kind
looks-yet--" he stopped short, and breathed hard.

"Yet you would know more of me. Faith, my boy, I cannot tell you more at
this moment. I believe, to speak fairly, I don't live exactly within the
pale of the law. But I'm not a villain! I never plundered my friend and
called it play!--I never murdered my friend and called it honour!--I
never seduced my friend's wife and called it gallantry!" As Gawtrey said
this, he drew the words out, one by one, through his grinded teeth,
paused and resumed more gaily: "I struggle with Fortune; voila tout! I am
not what you seem to suppose--not exactly a swindler, certainly not a
robber! But, as I before told you, I am a charlatan, so is every man who
strives to be richer or greater than he is.

"I, too, want kindness as much as you do. My bread and my cup are at your
service. I will try and keep you unsullied, even by the clean dirt that
now and then sticks to me. On the other hand, youth, my young friend, has
no right to play the censor; and you must take me as you take the world,
without being over-scrupulous and dainty. My present vocation pays well;
in fact, I am beginning to lay by. My real name and past life are
thoroughly unknown, and as yet unsuspected, in this quartier; for though
I have seen much of Paris, my career hitherto has passed in other parts
of the city;--and for the rest, own that I am well disguised! What a
benevolent air this bald forehead gives me--eh? True," added Gawtrey,
somewhat more seriously, "if I saw how you could support yourself in a
broader path of life than that in which I pick out my own way, I might
say to you, as a gay man of fashion might say to some sober
stripling--nay, as many a dissolute father says (or ought to say) to his
son, 'It is no reason you should be a sinner, because I am not a saint.'
In a word, if you were well off in a respectable profession, you might
have safer acquaintances than myself. But, as it is, upon my word as a
plain man, I don't see what you can do better." Gawtrey made this speech
with so much frankness and ease, that it seemed greatly to relieve the
listener, and when he wound up with, "What say you? In fine, my life is
that of a great schoolboy, getting into scrapes for the fun of it, and
fighting his way out as he best can!--Will you see how you like it?"
Philip, with a confiding and grateful impulse, put his hand into
Gawtrey's. The host shook it cordially, and, without saying another word,
showed his guest into a little cabinet where there was a sofa-bed, and
they parted for the night. The new life upon which Philip Morton entered
was so odd, so grotesque, and so amusing, that at his age it was,
perhaps, natural that he should not be clear-sighted as to its danger.

William Gawtrey was one of those men who are born to exert a certain
influence and ascendency wherever they may be thrown; his vast strength,
his redundant health, had a power of themselves--a moral as well as
physical power. He naturally possessed high animal spirits, beneath the
surface of which, however, at times, there was visible a certain
undercurrent of malignity and scorn. He had evidently received a superior
education, and could command at will the manner of a man not unfamiliar
with a politer class of society. From the first hour that Philip had seen
him on the top of the coach on the R---- road, this man had attracted his
curiosity and interest; the conversation he had heard in the churchyard,
the obligations he owed to Gawtrey in his escape from the officers of
justice, the time afterwards passed in his society till they separated at
the little inn, the rough and hearty kindliness Gawtrey had shown him at
that period, and the hospitality extended to him now,--all contributed to
excite his fancy, and in much, indeed very much, entitled this singular
person to his gratitude. Morton, in a word, was fascinated; this man was
the only friend he had made. I have not thought it necessary to detail to
the reader the conversations that had taken place between them, during
that passage of Morton's life when he was before for some days Gawtrey's
companion; yet those conversations had sunk deep in his mind. He was
struck, and almost awed, by the profound gloom which lurked under
Gawtrey's broad humour--a gloom, not of temperament, but of knowledge.
His views of life, of human justice and human virtue, were (as, to be
sure, is commonly the case with men who have had reason to quarrel with
the world) dreary and despairing; and Morton's own experience had been so
sad, that these opinions were more influential than they could ever have
been with the happy. However in this, their second reunion, there was a
greater gaiety than in their first; and under his host's roof Morton
insensibly, but rapidly, recovered something of the early and natural
tone of his impetuous and ardent spirits. Gawtrey himself was generally a
boon companion; their society, if not select, was merry. When their
evenings were disengaged, Gawtrey was fond of haunting cafes and
theatres, and Morton was his companion; Birnie (Mr. Gawtrey's partner)
never accompanied them. Refreshed by this change of life, the very person
of this young man regained its bloom and vigour, as a plant, removed from
some choked atmosphere and unwholesome soil, where it had struggled for
light and air, expands on transplanting; the graceful leaves burst from
the long-drooping boughs, and the elastic crest springs upward to the sun
in the glory of its young prime. If there was still a certain fiery
sternness in his aspect, it had ceased, at least, to be haggard and
savage, it even suited the character of his dark and expressive features.
He might not have lost the something of the tiger in his fierce temper,
but in the sleek hues and the sinewy symmetry of the frame he began to
put forth also something of the tiger's beauty.

Mr. Birnie did not sleep in the house, he went home nightly to a lodging
at some little distance. We have said but little about this man, for, to
all appearance, there was little enough to say; he rarely opened his own
mouth except to Gawtrey, with whom Philip often observed him engaged in
whispered conferences, to which he was not admitted. His eye, however,
was less idle than his lips; it was not a bright eye: on the contrary, it
was dull, and, to the unobservant, lifeless, of a pale blue, with a dim
film over it--the eye of a vulture; but it had in it a calm, heavy,
stealthy watchfulness, which inspired Morton with great distrust and
aversion. Mr. Birnie not only spoke French like a native, but all his
habits, his gestures, his tricks of manner, were, French; not the French
of good society, but more idiomatic, as it were, and popular. He was not
exactly a vulgar person, he was too silent for that, but he was evidently
of low extraction and coarse breeding; his accomplishments were of a
mechanical nature; he was an extraordinary arithmetician, he was a very
skilful chemist, and kept a laboratory at his lodgings--he mended his own
clothes and linen with incomparable neatness. Philip suspected him of
blacking his own shoes, but that was prejudice. Once he found Morton
sketching horses' heads--pour se desennuyer; and he made some short
criticisms on the drawings, which showed him well acquainted with the
art. Philip, surprised, sought to draw him into conversation; but Birnie
eluded the attempt, and observed that he had once been an engraver.

Gawtrey himself did not seem to know much of the early life of this
person, or at least he did not seem to like much to talk of him. The
footstep of Mr. Birnie was gliding, noiseless, and catlike; he had no
sociality in him--enjoyed nothing--drank hard--but was never drunk.
Somehow or other, he had evidently over Gawtrey an influence little less
than that which Gawtrey had over Morton, but it was of a different
nature: Morton had conceived an extraordinary affection for his friend,
while Gawtrey seemed secretly to dislike Birnie, and to be glad whenever
he quitted his presence. It was, in truth, Gawtrey's custom when Birnie
retired for the night, to rub his hands, bring out the punchbowl, squeeze
the lemons, and while Philip, stretched on the sofa, listened to him,
between sleep and waking, to talk on for the hour together, often till
daybreak, with that bizarre mixture of knavery and feeling, drollery and
sentiment, which made the dangerous charm of his society.

One evening as they thus sat together, Morton, after listening for some
time to his companion's comments on men and things, said abruptly,--

"Gawtrey! there is so much in you that puzzles me, so much which I find
it difficult to reconcile with your present pursuits, that, if I ask no
indiscreet confidence, I should like greatly to hear some account of your
early life. It would please me to compare it with my own; when I am your
age, I will then look back and see what I owed to your example."

"My early life! well--you shall hear it. It will put you on your guard, I
hope, betimes against the two rocks of youth--love and friendship." Then,
while squeezing the lemon into his favourite beverage, which Morton
observed he made stronger than usual, Gawtrey thus commenced:

         THE HISTORY OF A GOOD-FOR-NOTHING.




CHAPTER III.

        "All his success must on himself depend,
        He had no money, counsel, guide, or friend;
        With spirit high John learned the world to brave,
        And in both senses was a ready knave."--CRABBE.

"My grandfather sold walking-sticks and umbrellas in the little passage
by Exeter 'Change; he was a man of genius and speculation. As soon as he
had scraped together a little money, he lent it to some poor devil with a
hard landlord, at twenty per cent., and made him take half the loan in
umbrellas or bamboos. By these means he got his foot into the ladder, and
climbed upward and upward, till, at the age of forty, he had amassed
L5,000. He then looked about for a wife. An honest trader in the Strand,
who dealt largely in cotton prints, possessed an only daughter; this
young lady had a legacy, from a great-aunt, of L3,220., with a small
street in St. Giles's, where the tenants paid weekly (all thieves or
rogues-all, so their rents were sure). Now my grandfather conceived a
great friendship for the father of this young lady; gave him a hint as to
a new pattern in spotted cottons; enticed him to take out a patent, and
lent him L700. for the speculation; applied for the money at the very
moment cottons were at their worst, and got the daughter instead of the
money,--by which exchange, you see, he won L2,520., to say nothing of the
young lady. My grandfather then entered into partnership with the worthy
trader, carried on the patent with spirit, and begat two sons. As he grew
older, ambition seized him; his sons should be gentlemen--one was sent to
College, the other put into a marching regiment. My grandfather meant to
die worth a plum; but a fever he caught in visiting his tenants in St.
Giles's prevented him, and he only left L20,000. equally divided between
the sons. My father, the College man" (here Gawtrey paused a moment, took
a large draught of the punch, and resumed with a visible effort)--"my
father, the College man, was a person of rigid principles--bore an
excellent character--had a great regard for the world. He married early
and respectably. I am the sole fruit of that union; he lived soberly, his
temper was harsh and morose, his home gloomy; he was a very severe
father, and my mother died before I was ten years old. When I was
fourteen, a little old Frenchman came to lodge with us; he had been
persecuted under the old regime for being a philosopher; he filled my
head with odd crotchets which, more or less, have stuck there ever since.
At eighteen I was sent to St. John's College, Cambridge. My father was
rich enough to have let me go up in the higher rank of a pensioner, but
he had lately grown avaricious; he thought that I was extravagant; he
made me a sizar, perhaps to spite me. Then, for the first time, those
inequalities in life which the Frenchman had dinned into my ears met me
practically. A sizar! another name for a dog! I had such strength,
health, and spirits, that I had more life in my little finger than half
the fellow-commoners--genteel, spindle-shanked striplings, who might have
passed for a collection of my grandfather's walking-canes--bad in their
whole bodies. And I often think," continued Gawtrey, "that health and
spirits have a great deal to answer for! When we are young we so far
resemble savages who are Nature's young people--that we attach prodigious
value to physical advantages. My feats of strength and activity--the
clods I thrashed--and the railings I leaped--and the boat-races I
won--are they not written in the chronicle of St. John's? These
achievements inspired me with an extravagant sense of my own superiority;
I could not but despise the rich fellows whom I could have blown down
with a sneeze. Nevertheless, there was an impassable barrier between me
and them--a sizar was not a proper associate for the favourites of
fortune! But there was one young man, a year younger myself, of high
birth, and the heir to considerable wealth, who did not regard me with
the same supercilious insolence as the rest; his very rank, perhaps, made
him indifferent to the little conventional formalities which influence
persons who cannot play at football with this round world; he was the
wildest youngster in the university--lamp-breaker--tandem-driver
--mob-fighter--a very devil in short--clever, but not in the reading line
--small and slight, but brave as a lion. Congenial habits made us intimate,
and I loved him like a brother--better than a brother--as a dog loves his
master. In all our rows I covered him with my body. He had but to say to
me, 'Leap into the water,' and I would not have stopped to pull off my
coat. In short, I loved him as a proud man loves one who stands betwixt
him and contempt,--as an affectionate man loves one who stands between
him and solitude. To cut short a long story: my friend, one dark night,
committed an outrage against discipline, of the most unpardonable
character. There was a sanctimonious, grave old fellow of the College,
crawling home from a tea-party; my friend and another of his set seized,
blindfolded, and handcuffed this poor wretch, carried him, vi et armis,
back to the house of an old maid whom he had been courting for the last
ten years, fastened his pigtail (he wore a long one) to the knocker, and
so left him. You may imagine the infernal hubbub which his attempts to
extricate himself caused in the whole street; the old maid's old
maidservant, after emptying on his head all the vessels of wrath she
could lay her hand to, screamed, 'Rape and murder!' The proctor and his
bull-dogs came up, released the prisoner, and gave chase to the
delinquents, who had incautiously remained near to enjoy the sport. The
night was dark and they reached the College in safety, but they had been
tracked to the gates. For this offence I was expelled."

"Why, you were not concerned in it?" said Philip.

"No; but I was suspected and accused. I could have got off by betraying
the true culprits, but my friend's father was in public life--a stern,
haughty old statesman; my friend was mortally afraid of him--the only
person he was afraid of. If I had too much insisted on my innocence, I
might have set inquiry on the right track. In fine, I was happy to prove
my friendship for him. He shook me most tenderly by the hand on parting,
and promised never to forget my generous devotion. I went home in
disgrace: I need not tell you what my father said to me: I do not think
he ever loved me from that hour. Shortly after this my uncle, George
Gawtrey, the captain, returned from abroad; he took a great fancy to me,
and I left my father's house (which had grown insufferable) to live with
him. He had been a very handsome man--a gay spendthrift; he had got
through his fortune, and now lived on his wits--he was a professed
gambler. His easy temper, his lively humour, fascinated me; he knew the
world well; and, like all gamblers, was generous when the dice were
lucky,--which, to tell you the truth, they generally were, with a man who
had no scruples. Though his practices were a little suspected, they had
never been discovered. We lived in an elegant apartment, mixed familiarly
with men of various ranks, and enjoyed life extremely. I brushed off my
college rust, and conceived a taste for expense: I knew not why it was,
but in my new existence every one was kind to me; and I had spirits that
made me welcome everywhere. I was a scamp--but a frolicsome scamp--and
that is always a popular character. As yet I was not dishonest, but saw
dishonesty round me, and it seemed a very pleasant, jolly mode of making
money; and now I again fell into contact with the young heir. My college
friend was as wild in London as he had been at Cambridge; but the
boy-ruffian, though not then twenty years of age, had grown into the
man-villain."

Here Gawtrey paused, and frowned darkly.

"He had great natural parts, this young man-much wit, readiness, and
cunning, and he became very intimate with my uncle. He learned of him how
to play the dice, and a pack the cards--he paid him L1,000. for the
knowledge!"

"How! a cheat? You said he was rich."

"His father was very rich, and he had a liberal allowance, but he was
very extravagant; and rich men love gain as well as poor men do! He had
no excuse but the grand excuse of all vice--SELFISHNESS. Young as he was
he became the fashion, and he fattened upon the plunder of his equals,
who desired the honour of his acquaintance. Now, I had seen my uncle
cheat, but I had never imitated his example; when the man of fashion
cheated, and made a jest of his earnings and my scruples--when I saw him
courted, flattered, honoured, and his acts unsuspected, because his
connections embraced half the peerage, the temptation grew strong, but I
still resisted it. However, my father always said I was born to be a
good-for-nothing, and I could not escape my destiny. And now I suddenly
fell in love--you don't know what that is yet--so much the better for
you. The girl was beautiful, and I thought she loved me--perhaps she
did--but I was too poor, so her friends said, for marriage. We courted,
as the saying is, in the meanwhile. It was my love for her, my wish to
deserve her, that made me iron against my friend's example. I was fool
enough to speak to him of Mary--to present him to her--this ended in her
seduction." (Again Gawtrey paused, and breathed hard.) "I discovered the
treachery--I called out the seducer-he sneered, and refused to fight the
low-born adventurer. I struck him to the earth--and then we fought. I was
satisfied by a ball through my side! but he," added Gawtrey, rubbing his
hands, and with a vindictive chuckle,--"He was a cripple for life! When I
recovered I found that my foe, whose sick-chamber was crowded with
friends and comforters, had taken advantage of my illness to ruin my
reputation. He, the swindler, accused me of his own crime: the equivocal
character of my uncle confirmed the charge. Him, his own high-born pupil
was enabled to unmask, and his disgrace was visited on me. I left my bed
to find my uncle (all disguise over) an avowed partner in a hell, and
myself blasted alike in name, love, past, and future. And then,
Philip--then I commenced that career which I have trodden since--the
prince of good-fellows and good-for-nothings, with ten thousand aliases,
and as many strings to my bow. Society cast me off when I was innocent.
Egad, I have had my revenge on society since!--Ho! ho! ho!"

The laugh of this man had in it a moral infection. There was a sort of
glorying in its deep tone; it was not the hollow hysteric of shame and
despair--it spoke a sanguine joyousness! William Gawtrey was a man whose
animal constitution had led him to take animal pleasure in all things: he
had enjoyed the poisons he had lived on.

"But your father--surely your father--"

"My father," interrupted Gawtrey, "refused me the money (but a small sum)
that, once struck with the strong impulse of a sincere penitence, I
begged of him, to enable me to get an honest living in a humble trade.
His refusal soured the penitence--it gave me an excuse for my career and
conscience grapples to an excuse as a drowning wretch to a straw. And yet
this hard father--this cautious, moral, money-loving man, three months
afterwards, suffered a rogue--almost a stranger--to decoy him into a
speculation that promised to bring him fifty per cent. He invested in the
traffic of usury what had sufficed to save a hundred such as I am from
perdition, and he lost it all. It was nearly his whole fortune; but he
lives and has his luxuries still: he cannot speculate, but he can save:
he cared not if I starved, for he finds an hourly happiness in starving
himself."

"And your friend," said Philip, after a pause in which his young
sympathies went dangerously with the excuses for his benefactor; "what
has become of him, and the poor girl?"

"My friend became a great man; he succeeded to his father's peerage--a
very ancient one--and to a splendid income. He is living still. Well, you
shall hear about the poor girl! We are told of victims of seduction dying
in a workhouse or on a dunghill, penitent, broken-hearted, and uncommonly
ragged and sentimental. It may be a frequent case, but it is not the
worst. It is worse, I think, when the fair, penitent, innocent, credulous
dupe becomes in her turn the deceiver--when she catches vice from the
breath upon which she has hung--when she ripens, and mellows, and rots
away into painted, blazing, staring, wholesale harlotry--when, in her
turn, she ruins warm youth with false smiles and long bills--and when
worse--worse than all--when she has children, daughters perhaps, brought
up to the same trade, cooped, plumper, for some hoary lecher, without a
heart in their bosoms, unless a balance for weighing money may be called
a heart. Mary became this; and I wish to Heaven she had rather died in an
hospital! Her lover polluted her soul as well as her beauty: he found her
another lover when he was tired of her. When she was at the age of
thirty-six I met her in Paris, with a daughter of sixteen. I was then
flush with money, frequenting salons, and playing the part of a fine
gentleman. She did not know me at first; and she sought my acquaintance.
For you must know, my young friend," said Gawtrey, abruptly breaking off
the thread of his narrative, "that I am not altogether the low dog you
might suppose in seeing me here. At Paris--ah! you don't know
Paris--there is a glorious ferment in society in which the dregs are
often uppermost! I came here at the Peace, and here have I resided the
greater part of each year ever since. The vast masses of energy and life,
broken up by the great thaw of the Imperial system, floating along the
tide, are terrible icebergs for the vessel of the state. Some think
Napoleonism over--its effects are only begun. Society is shattered from
one end to the other, and I laugh at the little rivets by which they
think to keep it together.

   [This passage was written at a period when the dynasty of Louis
   Philippe seemed the most assured, and Napoleonism was indeed
   considered extinct.]

"But to return. Paris, I say, is the atmosphere for adventurers--new
faces and new men are so common here that they excite no impertinent
inquiry, it is so usual to see fortunes made in a day and spent in a
month; except in certain circles, there is no walking round a man's
character to spy out where it wants piercing! Some lean Greek poet put
lead in his pockets to prevent being blown away;--put gold in your
pockets, and at Paris you may defy the sharpest wind in the world,--yea,
even the breath of that old AEolus--Scandal! Well, then, I had money--no
matter how I came by it--and health, and gaiety; and I was well received
in the coteries that exist in all capitals, but mostly in France, where
pleasure is the cement that joins many discordant atoms. Here, I say, I
met Mary and her daughter, by my old friend--the daughter, still
innocent, but, sacra! in what an element of vice! We knew each other's
secrets, Mary and I, and kept them: she thought me a greater knave than I
was, and she intrusted to me her intention of selling her child to a rich
English marquis. On the other hand, the poor girl confided to me her
horror of the scenes she witnessed and the snares that surrounded her.
What do you think preserved her pure from all danger? Bah! you will never
guess! It was partly because, if example corrupts, it as often deters,
but principally because she loved. A girl who loves one man purely has
about her an amulet which defies the advances of the profligate. There
was a handsome young Italian, an artist, who frequented the house--he was
the man. I had to choose, then, between mother and daughter: I chose the
last."

Philip seized hold of Gawtrey's hand, grasped it warmly, and the
good-for-nothing continued--

"Do you know, that I loved that girl as well as I had ever loved the
mother, though in another way; she was what I fancied the mother to be;
still more fair, more graceful, more winning, with a heart as full of
love as her mother's had been of vanity. I loved that child as if she had
been my own daughter. I induced her to leave her mother's house--I
secreted her--I saw her married to the man she loved--I gave her away,
and saw no more of her for several months."

"Why?"

"Because I spent them in prison! The young people could not live upon
air; I gave them what I had, and in order to do more I did something
which displeased the police; I narrowly escaped that time; but I am
popular--very popular, and with plenty of witnesses, not over-scrupulous,
I got off! When I was released, I would not go to see them, for my
clothes were ragged: the police still watched me, and I would not do them
harm in the world! Ay, poor wretches! they struggled so hard: he could
got very little by his art, though, I believe, he was a cleverish fellow
at it, and the money I had given them could not last for ever. They lived
near the Champs Elysees, and at night I used to steal out and look at
them through the window. They seemed so happy, and so handsome, and so
good; but he looked sickly, and I saw that, like all Italians, he
languished for his own warm climate. But man is born to act as well as to
contemplate," pursued Gawtrey, changing his tone into the allegro; "and I
was soon driven into my old ways, though in a lower line. I went to
London, just to give my reputation an airing, and when I returned, pretty
flush again, the poor Italian was dead, and Fanny was a widow, with one
boy, and enceinte with a second child. So then I sought her again, for
her mother had found her out, and was at her with her devilish kindness;
but Heaven was merciful, and took her away from both of us: she died in
giving birth to a girl, and her last words were uttered to me, imploring
me--the adventurer--the charlatan--the good-for-nothing--to keep her
child from the clutches of her own mother. Well, sir, I did what I could
for both the children; but the boy was consumptive, like his father, and
sleeps at Pere-la-Chaise. The girl is here--you shall see her some day.
Poor Fanny! if ever the devil will let me, I shall reform for her sake.
Meanwhile, for her sake I must get grist for the mill. My story is
concluded, for I need not tell you all of my pranks--of all the parts I
have played in life. I have never been a murderer, or a burglar, or a
highway robber, or what the law calls a thief. I can only say, as I said
before, I have lived upon my wits, and they have been a tolerable capital
on the whole. I have been an actor, a money-lender, a physician, a
professor of animal magnetism (that was lucrative till it went out of
fashion, perhaps it will come in again); I have been a lawyer, a
house-agent, a dealer in curiosities and china; I have kept a hotel; I
have set up a weekly newspaper; I have seen almost every city in Europe,
and made acquaintance with some of its gaols; but a man who has plenty of
brains generally falls on his legs."

"And your father?" said Philip; and here he spoke to Gawtrey of the
conversation he had overheard in the churchyard, but on which a scruple
of natural delicacy had hitherto kept him silent.

"Well, now," said his host, while a slight blush rose to his cheeks, "I
will tell you, that though to my father's sternness and avarice I
attribute many of my faults, I yet always had a sort of love for him; and
when in London I accidentally heard that he was growing blind, and living
with an artful old jade of a housekeeper, who might send him to rest with
a dose of magnesia the night after she had coaxed him to make a will in
her favour. I sought him out--and--but you say you heard what passed."

"Yes; and I heard him also call you by name, when it was too late, and I
saw the tears on his cheeks."

"Did you? Will you swear to that?" exclaimed Gawtrey, with vehemence:
then, shading his brow with his band, he fell into a reverie that lasted
some moments.

"If anything happen to me, Philip," he said, abruptly, "perhaps he may
yet be a father to poor Fanny; and if he takes to her, she will repay him
for whatever pain I may, perhaps, have cost him. Stop! now I think of it,
I will write down his address for you--never forget it--there! It is time
to go to bed."

Gawtrey's tale made a deep impression on Philip. He was too young, too
inexperienced, too much borne away by the passion of the narrator, to see
that Gawtrey had less cause to blame Fate than himself. True, he had been
unjustly implicated in the disgrace of an unworthy uncle, but he had
lived with that uncle, though he knew him to be a common cheat; true, he
had been betrayed by a friend, but he had before known that friend to be
a man without principle or honour. But what wonder that an ardent boy saw
nothing of this--saw only the good heart that had saved a poor girl from
vice, and sighed to relieve a harsh and avaricious parent? Even the hints
that Gawtrey unawares let fall of practices scarcely covered by the
jovial phrase of "a great schoolboy's scrapes," either escaped the notice
of Philip, or were charitably construed by him, in the compassion and the
ignorance of a young, hasty, and grateful heart.




CHAPTER IV.

     "And she's a stranger
     Women--beware women."--MIDDLETON.

     "As we love our youngest children best,
     So the last fruit of our affection,
     Wherever we bestow it, is most strong;
     Since 'tis indeed our latest harvest-home,
     Last merriment 'fore winter!"
     WEBSTER, Devil's Law Case.

     "I would fain know what kind of thing a man's heart is?
     I will report it to you; 'tis a thing framed
     With divers corners!"--ROWLEY.

I have said that Gawtrey's tale made a deep impression on Philip;--that
impression was increased by subsequent conversations, more frank even
than their talk had hitherto been. There was certainly about this man a
fatal charm which concealed his vices. It arose, perhaps, from the
perfect combinations of his physical frame--from a health which made his
spirits buoyant and hearty under all circumstances--and a blood so fresh,
so sanguine, that it could not fail to keep the pores of the heart open.
But he was not the less--for all his kindly impulses and generous
feelings, and despite the manner in which, naturally anxious to make the
least unfavourable portrait of himself to Philip, he softened and glossed
over the practices of his life--a thorough and complete rogue, a
dangerous, desperate, reckless daredevil. It was easy to see when
anything crossed him, by the cloud on his shaggy brow, by the swelling of
the veins on the forehead, by the dilation of the broad nostril, that he
was one to cut his way through every obstacle to an end,--choleric,
impetuous, fierce, determined. Such, indeed, were the qualities that made
him respected among his associates, as his more bland and humorous ones
made him beloved. He was, in fact, the incarnation of that great spirit
which the laws of the world raise up against the world, and by which the
world's injustice on a large scale is awfully chastised; on a small
scale, merely nibbled at and harassed, as the rat that gnaws the hoof of
the elephant:--the spirit which, on a vast theatre, rises up, gigantic
and sublime, in the heroes of war and revolution--in Mirabeaus, Marats,
Napoleons: on a minor stage, it shows itself in demagogues, fanatical
philosophers, and mob-writers; and on the forbidden boards, before whose
reeking lamps outcasts sit, at once audience and actors, it never
produced a knave more consummate in his part, or carrying it off with
more buskined dignity, than William Gawtrey. I call him by his aboriginal
name; as for his other appellations, Bacchus himself had not so many!

One day, a lady, richly dressed, was ushered by Mr. Birnie into the
bureau of Mr. Love, alias Gawtrey. Philip was seated by the window,
reading, for the first time, the Candide,--that work, next to Rasselas,
the most hopeless and gloomy of the sports of genius with mankind. The
lady seemed rather embarrassed when she perceived Mr. Love was not alone.
She drew back, and, drawing her veil still more closely round her, said,
in French:

"Pardon me, I would wish a private conversation." Philip rose to
withdraw, when the lady, observing him with eyes whose lustre shone
through the veil, said gently: "But perhaps the young gentleman is
discreet."

"He is not discreet, he is discretion!--my adopted son. You may confide
in him--upon my honour you may, madam!" and Mr. Love placed his hand on
his heart.

"He is very young," said the lady, in a tone of involuntary compassion,
as, with a very white hand, she unclasped the buckle of her cloak.

"He can the better understand the curse of celibacy," returned Mr. Love,
smiling.

The lady lifted part of her veil, and discovered a handsome mouth, and a
set of small, white teeth; for she, too, smiled, though gravely, as she
turned to Morton, and said--

"You seem, sir, more fitted to be a votary of the temple than one of its
officers. However, Monsieur Love, let there be no mistake between us; I
do not come here to form a marriage, but to prevent one. I understand
that Monsieur the Vicomte de Vaudemont has called into request your
services. I am one of the Vicomte's family; we are all anxious that he
should not contract an engagement of the strange and, pardon me,
unbecoming character, which must stamp a union formed at a public
office."

"I assure you, madam," said Mr. Love, with dignity, "that we have
contributed to the very first--"

"Mon Dieu!" interrupted the lady, with much impatience, "spare me a
eulogy on your establishment: I have no doubt it is very respectable; and
for grisettes and epiciers may do extremely well. But the Vicomte is a
man of birth and connections. In a word, what he contemplates is
preposterous. I know not what fee Monsieur Love expects; but if he
contrive to amuse Monsieur de Vaudemont, and to frustrate every
connection he proposes to form, that fee, whatever it may be, shall be
doubled. Do you understand me?"

"Perfectly, madam; yet it is not your offer that will bias me, but the
desire to oblige so charming a lady."

"It is agreed, then?" said the lady, carelessly; and as she spoke she
again glanced at Philip.

"If madame will call again, I will inform her of my plans," said Mr.
Love.

"Yes, I will call again. Good morning!" As she rose and passed Philip,
she wholly put aside her veil, and looked at him with a gaze entirely
free from coquetry, but curious, searching, and perhaps admiring--the
look that an artist may give to a picture that seines of more value than
the place where he finds it would seem to indicate. The countenance of
the lady herself was fair and noble, and Philip felt a strange thrill at
his heart as, with a slight inclination of her' head, she turned from the
room.

"Ah!" said Gawtrey, laughing, "this is not the first time I have been
paid by relations to break off the marriages I had formed. Egad! if one
could open a bureau to make married people single, one would soon be a
Croesus! Well, then, this decides me to complete the union between
Monsieur Goupille and Mademoiselle de Courval. I had balanced a little
hitherto between the epicier and the Vicomte. Now I will conclude
matters. Do you know, Phil, I think you have made a conquest?"

"Pooh!" said Philip, colouring.

In effect, that very evening Mr. Love saw both the epicier and Adele, and
fixed the marriage-day. As Monsieur Goupille was a person of great
distinction in the Faubourg, this wedding was one upon which Mr. Love
congratulated himself greatly; and he cheerfully accepted an invitation
for himself and his partners to honour the noces with their presence.

A night or two before the day fixed for the marriage of Monsieur Goupille
and the aristocratic Adele, when Mr. Birnie had retired, Gawtrey made his
usual preparations for enjoying himself. But this time the cigar and the
punch seemed to fail of their effect. Gawtrey remained moody and silent;
and Morton was thinking of the bright eyes of the lady who was so much
interested against the amours of the Vicomte de Vaudemont.

At last, Gawtrey broke silence:

"My young friend," said he, "I told you of my little protege; I have been
buying toys for her this morning; she is a beautiful creature; to-morrow
is her birthday--she will then be six years old. But--but--" here Gawtrey
sighed--"I fear she is not all right here," and he touched his forehead.

"I should like much to see her," said Philip, not noticing the latter
remark.

"And you shall--you shall come with me to-morrow. Heigho! I should not
like to die, for her sake!"

"Does her wretched relation attempt to regain her?"

"Her relation! No; she is no more--she died about two years since! Poor
Mary! I--well, this is folly. But Fanny is at present in a convent; they
are all kind to her, but then I pay well; if I were dead, and the pay
stopped,--again I ask, what would become of her, unless, as I before
said, my father--"

"But you are making a fortune now?"

"If this lasts--yes; but I live in fear--the police of this cursed city
are lynx-eyed; however, that is the bright side of the question."

"Why not have the child with you, since you love her so much? She would
be a great comfort to you."

"Is this a place for a child--a girl?" said Gawtrey, stamping his foot
impatiently. "I should go mad if I saw that villainous deadman's eye bent
upon her!"

"You speak of Birnie. How can you endure him?"

"When you are my age you will know why we endure what we dread--why we
make friends of those who else would be most horrible foes: no,
no--nothing can deliver me of this man but Death. And--and--" added
Gawtrey, turning pale, "I cannot murder a man who eats my bread. There
are stronger ties, my lad, than affection, that bind men, like
galley-slaves, together. He who can hang you puts the halter round your
neck and leads you by it like a dog."

A shudder came over the young listener. And what dark secrets, known only
to those two, had bound, to a man seemingly his subordinate and tool, the
strong will and resolute temper of William Gawtrey?

"But, begone, dull care!" exclaimed Gawtrey, rousing himself. "And, after
all, Birnie is a useful fellow, and dare no more turn against me than I
against him! Why don't you drink more?

   "Oh! have you e'er heard of the famed Captain Wattle?"

and Gawtrey broke out into a loud Bacchanalian hymn, in which Philip
could find no mirth, and from which the songster suddenly paused to
exclaim:--

"Mind you say nothing about Fanny to Birnie; my secrets with him are not
of that nature. He could not hurt her, poor lamb! it is true--at least,
as far as I can foresee. But one can never feel too sure of one's lamb,
if one once introduces it to the butcher!"

The next day being Sunday, the bureau was closed, and Philip and Gawtrey
repaired to the convent. It was a dismal-looking place as to the
exterior; but, within, there was a large garden, well kept, and,
notwithstanding the winter, it seemed fair and refreshing, compared with
the polluted streets. The window of the room into which they were shown
looked upon the green sward, with walls covered with ivy at the farther
end. And Philip's own childhood came back to him as he gazed on the quiet
of the lonely place.

The door opened--an infant voice was heard, a voice of glee-of rapture;
and a child, light and beautiful as a fairy, bounded to Gawtrey's breast.

Nestling there, she kissed his face, his hands, his clothes, with a
passion that did not seem to belong to her age, laughing and sobbing
almost at a breath.

On his part, Gawtrey appeared equally affected: he stroked down her hair
with his huge hand, calling her all manner of pet names, in a tremulous
voice that vainly struggled to be gay.

At length he took the toys he had brought with him from his capacious
pockets, and strewing them on the floor, fairly stretched his vast bulk
along; while the child tumbled over him, sometimes grasping at the toys,
and then again returning to his bosom, and laying her head there, looked
up quietly into his eyes, as if the joy were too much for her.

Morton, unheeded by both, stood by with folded arms. He thought of his
lost and ungrateful brother, and muttered to himself:

"Fool! when she is older, she will forsake him!"

Fanny betrayed in her face the Italian origin of her father. She had that
exceeding richness of complexion which, though not common even in Italy,
is only to be found in the daughters of that land, and which harmonised
well with the purple lustre of her hair, and the full, clear iris of the
dark eyes. Never were parted cherries brighter than her dewy lips; and
the colour of the open neck and the rounded arms was of a whiteness still
more dazzling, from the darkness of the hair and the carnation of the
glowing cheek.

Suddenly Fanny started from Gawtrey's arms, and running up to Morton,
gazed at him wistfully, and said, in French:

"Who are you? Do you come from the moon? I think you do." Then, stopping
abruptly, she broke into a verse of a nursery-song, which she chaunted
with a low, listless tone, as if she were not conscious of the sense. As
she thus sang, Morton, looking at her, felt a strange and painful doubt
seize him. The child's eyes, though soft, were so vacant in their gaze.

"And why do I come from the moon?" said he.

"Because you look sad and cross. I don't like you--I don't like the moon;
it gives me a pain here!" and she put her hand to her temples. "Have you
got anything for Fanny--poor, poor Fanny?" and, dwelling on the epithet,
she shook her head mournfully.

"You are rich, Fanny, with all those toys."

"Am I? Everybody calls me poor Fanny--everybody but papa;" and she ran
again to Gawtrey, and laid her head on his shoulder.

"She calls me papa!" said Gawtrey, kissing her; "you hear it? Bless her!"

"And you never kiss any one but Fanny--you have no other little girl?"
said the child, earnestly, and with a look less vacant than that which
had saddened Morton.

"No other--no--nothing under heaven, and perhaps above it, but you!" and
he clasped her in his arms. "But," he added, after a pause--"but mind me,
Fanny, you must like this gentleman. He will be always good to you: and
he had a little brother whom he was as fond of as I am of you."

"No, I won't like him--I won't like anybody but you and my sister!"

"Sister!--who is your sister?"

The child's face relapsed into an expression almost of idiotcy. "I don't
know--I never saw her. I hear her sometimes, but I don't understand what
she says.--Hush! come here!" and she stole to the window on tiptoe.
Gawtrey followed and looked out.

"Do you hear her, now?" said Fanny. "What does she say?"

As the girl spoke, some bird among the evergreens uttered a shrill,
plaintive cry, rather than song--a sound which the thrush occasionally
makes in the winter, and which seems to express something of fear, and
pain, and impatience. "What does she say?--can you tell me?" asked the
child.

"Pooh! that is a bird; why do you call it your sister?"

"I don't know!--because it is--because it--because--I don't know--is it
not in pain?--do something for it, papa!"

Gawtrey glanced at Morton, whose face betokened his deep pity, and
creeping up to him, whispered,--

"Do you think she is really touched here? No, no,--she will outgrow it--I
am sure she will!"

Morton sighed.

Fanny by this time had again seated herself in the middle of the floor,
and arranged her toys, but without seeming to take pleasure in them.

At last Gawtrey was obliged to depart. The lay sister, who had charge of
Fanny, was summoned into the parlour; and then the child's manner
entirely changed; her face grew purple--she sobbed with as much anger as
grief. "She would not leave papa--she would not go--that she would not!"

"It is always so," whispered Gawtrey to Morton, in an abashed and
apologetic voice. "It is so difficult to get away from her. Just go and
talk with her while I steal out."

Morton went to her, as she struggled with the patient good-natured
sister, and began to soothe and caress her, till she turned on him her
large humid eyes, and said, mournfully,

"Tu es mechant, tu. Poor Fanny!"

"But this pretty doll--" began the sister. The child looked at it
joylessly.

"And papa is going to die!"

"Whenever Monsieur goes," whispered the nun, "she always says that he is
dead, and cries herself quietly to sleep; when Monsieur returns, she says
he is come to life again. Some one, I suppose, once talked to her about
death; and she thinks when she loses sight of any one, that that is
death."

"Poor child!" said Morton, with a trembling voice.

The child looked up, smiled, stroked his cheek with her little hand, and
said:

"Thank you!--Yes! poor Fanny! Ah, he is going--see!--let me go too--tu es
mechant."

"But," said Morton, detaining her gently, "do you know that you give him
pain?--you make him cry by showing pain yourself. Don't make him so sad!"

The child seemed struck, hung down her head for a moment, as if in
thought, and then, jumping from Morton's lap, ran to Gawtrey, put up her
pouting lips, and said:

"One kiss more!"

Gawtrey kissed her, and turned away his head.

"Fanny is a good girl!" and Fanny, as she spoke, went back to Morton, and
put her little fingers into her eyes, as if either to shut out Gawtrey's
retreat from her sight, or to press back her tears.

"Give me the doll now, sister Marie."

Morton smiled and sighed, placed the child, who struggled no more, in the
nun's arms, and left the room; but as he closed the door he looked back,
and saw that Fanny had escaped from the sister, thrown herself on the
floor, and was crying, but not loud.

"Is she not a little darling?" said Gawtrey, as they gained the street.

"She is, indeed, a most beautiful child!"

"And you will love her if I leave her penniless," said Gawtrey, abruptly.
"It was your love for your mother and your brother that made me like you
from the first. Ay," continued Gawtrey, in a tone of great earnestness,
"ay, and whatever may happen to me, I will strive and keep you, my poor
lad, harmless; and what is better, innocent even of such matters as sit
light enough on my own well-seasoned conscience. In turn, if ever you
have the power, be good to her,--yes, be good to her! and I won't say a
harsh word to you if ever you like to turn king's evidence against
myself."

"Gawtrey!" said Morton, reproachfully, and almost fiercely.

"Bah!--such things are! But tell me honestly, do you think she is very
strange--very deficient?"

"I have not seen enough of her to judge," answered Morton, evasively.

"She is so changeful," persisted Gawtrey. "Sometimes you would say that
she was above her age, she comes out with such thoughtful, clever things;
then, the next moment, she throws me into despair. These nuns are very
skilful in education--at least they are said to be so. The doctors give
me hope, too. You see, her poor mother was very unhappy at the time of
her birth--delirious, indeed: that may account for it. I often fancy that
it is the constant excitement which her state occasions me that makes me
love her so much. You see she is one who can never shift for herself. I
must get money for her; I have left a little already with the superior,
and I would not touch it to save myself from famine! If she has money
people will be kind enough to her. And then," continued Gawtrey, "you
must perceive that she loves nothing in the world but me--me, whom nobody
else loves! Well--well, now to the shop again!"

On returning home the bonne informed them that a lady had called, and
asked both for Monsieur Love and the young gentleman, and seemed much
chagrined at missing both. By the description, Morton guessed she was the
fair incognita, and felt disappointed at having lost the interview.




CHAPTER V.

     "The cursed carle was at his wonted trade,
     Still tempting heedless men into his snare,
     In witching wise, as I before have said;
     But when he saw, in goodly gear array'd,
     The grave majestic knight approaching nigh,
     His countenance fell."--THOMSON, Castle of Indolence.

The morning rose that was to unite Monsieur Goupille with Mademoiselle
Adele de Courval. The ceremony was performed, and bride and bridegroom
went through that trying ordeal with becoming gravity. Only the elegant
Adele seemed more unaffectedly agitated than Mr. Love could well account
for; she was very nervous in church, and more often turned her eyes to
the door than to the altar. Perhaps she wanted to run away; but it was
either too late or too early for the proceeding. The rite performed, the
happy pair and their friends adjourned to the Cadran Bleu, that
restaurant so celebrated in the festivities of the good citizens of
Paris. Here Mr. Love had ordered, at the epicier's expense, a most
tasteful entertainment.

"Sacre! but you have not played the economist, Monsieur Lofe," said
Monsieur Goupille, rather querulously, as he glanced at the long room
adorned with artificial flowers, and the table a cingitante couverts.

"Bah!" replied Mr. Love, "you can retrench afterwards. Think of the
fortune she brought you."

"It is a pretty sum, certainly," said Monsieur Goupille, "and the notary
is perfectly satisfied."

"There is not a marriage in Paris that does me more credit," said Mr.
Love; and he marched off to receive the compliments and congratulations
that awaited him among such of the guests as were aware of his good
offices. The Vicomte de Vaudemont was of course not present. He had not
been near Mr. Love since Adele had accepted the epicier. But Madame
Beavor, in a white bonnet lined with lilac, was hanging, sentimentally,
on the arm of the Pole, who looked very grand with his white favour; and
Mr. Higgins had been introduced, by Mr. Love, to a little dark Creole,
who wore paste diamonds, and had very languishing eyes; so that Mr.
Love's heart might well swell with satisfaction at the prospect of the
various blisses to come, which might owe their origin to his benevolence.
In fact, that archpriest of the Temple of Hymen was never more great than
he was that day; never did his establishment seem more solid, his
reputation more popular, or his fortune more sure. He was the life of the
party.

The banquet over, the revellers prepared for a dance. Monsieur Goupille,
in tights, still tighter than he usually wore, and of a rich nankeen,
quite new, with striped silk stockings, opened the ball with the lady of
a rich patissier in the same Faubourg; Mr. Love took out the bride. The
evening advanced; and after several other dances of ceremony, Monsieur
Goupille conceived himself entitled to dedicate one to connubial
affection. A country-dance was called, and the epicier claimed the fair
hand of the gentle Adele. About this time, two persons not hitherto
perceived had quietly entered the room, and, standing near the doorway,
seemed examining the dancers, as if in search for some one. They bobbed
their heads up and down, to and fro stopped--now stood on tiptoe. The one
was a tall, large-whiskered, fair-haired man; the other, a little, thin,
neatly-dressed person, who kept his hand on the arm of his companion, and
whispered to him from time to time. The whiskered gentleman replied in a
guttural tone, which proclaimed his origin to be German. The busy dancers
did not perceive the strangers. The bystanders did, and a hum of
curiosity circled round; who could they be?--who had invited them?--they
were new faces in the Faubourg--perhaps relations to Adele?

In high delight the fair bride was skipping down the middle, while
Monsieur Goupille, wiping his forehead with care, admired her agility;
when, to and behold! the whiskered gentleman I have described abruptly
advanced from his companion, and cried:

"La voila!--sacre tonnerre!"

At that voice--at that apparition, the bride halted; so suddenly indeed,
that she had not time to put down both feet, but remained with one high
in the air, while the other sustained itself on the light fantastic toe.
The company naturally imagined this to be an operatic flourish, which
called for approbation. Monsieur Love, who was thundering down behind
her, cried, "Bravo!" and as the well-grown gentleman had to make a sweep
to avoid disturbing her equilibrium, he came full against the whiskered
stranger, and sent him off as a bat sends a ball.

"Mon Dieu!" cried Monsieur Goupille. "Ma douce amie--she has fainted
away!" And, indeed, Adele had no sooner recovered her, balance, than she
resigned it once more into the arms of the startled Pole, who was happily
at hand.

In the meantime, the German stranger, who had saved himself from falling
by coming with his full force upon the toes of Mr. Higgins, again
advanced to the spot, and, rudely seizing the fair bride by the arm,
exclaimed,--

"No sham if you please, madame--speak! What the devil have you done with
the money?"

"Really, sir," said Monsieur Goupille, drawing tip his cravat, "this is
very extraordinary conduct! What have you got to say to this lady's
money?--it is my money now, sir!"

"Oho! it is, is it? We'll soon see that. Approchez donc, Monsieur Favart,
faites votre devoir."

At these words the small companion of the stranger slowly sauntered to
the spot, while at the sound of his name and the tread of his step, the
throng gave way to the right and left. For Monsieur Favart was one of the
most renowned chiefs of the great Parisian police--a man worthy to be the
contemporary of the illustrious Vidocq.

"Calmez vous, messieurs; do not be alarmed, ladies," said this gentleman,
in the mildest of all human voices; and certainly no oil dropped on the
waters ever produced so tranquillising an effect as that small, feeble,
gentle tenor. The Pole, in especial, who was holding the fair bride with
both his arms, shook all over, and seemed about to let his burden
gradually slide to the floor, when Monsieur Favart, looking at him with a
benevolent smile, said--

"Aha, mon brave! c'est toi. Restez donc. Restez, tenant toujours la
dame!"

The Pole, thus condemned, in the French idiom, "always to hold the dame,"
mechanically raised the arms he had previously dejected, and the police
officer, with an approving nod of the head, said,--

"Bon! ne bougez point,--c'est ca!"

Monsieur Goupille, in equal surprise and indignation to see his better
half thus consigned, without any care to his own marital feelings, to the
arms of another, was about to snatch her from the Pole, when Monsieur
Favart, touching him on the breast with his little finger, said, in the
suavest manner,--

"Mon bourgeois, meddle not with what does not concern you!"

"With what does not concern me!" repeated Monsieur Goupille, drawing
himself up to so great a stretch that he seemed pulling off his tights
the wrong way. "Explain yourself, if you please! This lady is my wife!"

"Say that again,--that's all!" cried the whiskered stranger, in most
horrible French, and with a furious grimace, as he shook both his fists
just under the nose of the epicier.

"Say it again, sir," said Monsieur Goupille, by no means daunted; "and
why should not I say it again? That lady is my wife!"

"You lie!--she is mine!" cried the German; and bending down, he caught
the fair Adele from the Pole with as little ceremony as if she had never
had a great-grandfather a marquis, and giving her a shake that might have
roused the dead, thundered out,--

"Speak! Madame Bihl! Are you my wife or not?"

"Monstre!" murmured Adele, opening her eyes.

"There--you hear--she owns me!" said the German, appealing to the company
with a triumphant air.

"C'est vrai!" said the soft voice of the policeman. "And now, pray don't
let us disturb your amusements any longer. We have a fiacre at the door.
Remove your lady, Monsieur Bihl."

"Monsieur Lofe!--Monsieur Lofe!" cried, or rather screeched the epicier,
darting across the room, and seizing the chef by the tail of his coat,
just as he was half way through the door, "come back! Quelle mauvaise
plaisanterie me faites-vous ici? Did you not tell me that lady was
single? Am I married or not: Do I stand on my head or my heels?"

"Hush-hush! mon bon bourgeois!" whispered Mr. Love; "all shall be
explained to-morrow!"

"Who is this gentleman?" asked Monsieur Favart, approaching Mr. Love,
who, seeing himself in for it, suddenly jerked off the epicier, thrust
his hands down into his breeches' pockets, buried his chin in his cravat,
elevated his eyebrows, screwed in his eyes, and puffed out his cheeks, so
that the astonished Monsieur Goupille really thought himself bewitched,
and literally did not recognise the face of the match-maker.

"Who is this gentleman?" repeated the little officer, standing beside, or
rather below, Mr. Love, and looking so diminutive by the contras that you
might have fancied that the Priest of Hymen had only to breathe to blow
him away.

"Who should he be, monsieur?" cried, with great pertness, Madame Rosalie
Caumartin, coming to the relief, with the generosity of her sex.--"This
is Monsieur Lofe--Anglais celebre. What have you to say against him?"

"He has got five hundred francs of mine!" cried the epicier.

The policeman scanned Mr. Love, with great attention. "So you are in
Paris again?--Hein!--vous jouez toujours votre role!

"Ma foi!" said Mr. Love, boldly; "I don't understand what monsieur means;
my character is well known--go and inquire it in London--ask the
Secretary of Foreign Affairs what is said of me--inquire of my
Ambassador--demand of my--"

"Votre passeport, monsieur?"

"It is at home. A gentleman does not carry his passport in his pocket
when he goes to a ball!"

"I will call and see it--au revoir! Take my advice and leave Paris; I
think I have seen you somewhere!"

"Yet I have never had the honour to marry monsieur!" said Mr. Love, with
a polite bow.

In return for his joke, the policeman gave Mr. Love one look-it was a
quiet look, very quiet; but Mr. Love seemed uncommonly affected by it;
 he did not say another word, but found himself outside the house in a
twinkling. Monsieur Favart turned round and saw the Pole making himself
as small as possible behind the goodly proportions of Madame Beavor.

"What name does that gentleman go by?"

"So--vo--lofski, the heroic Pole," cried Madame Beavor, with sundry
misgivings at the unexpected cowardice of so great a patriot.

"Hein! take care of yourselves, ladies. I have nothing against that
person this time. But Monsieur Latour has served his apprenticeship at
the galleys, and is no more a Pole than I am a Jew."

"And this lady's fortune!" cried Monsieur Goupitle, pathetically; "the
settlements are all made--the notaries all paid. I am sure there must be
some mistake."

Monsieur Bihl, who had by this time restored his lost Helen to her
senses, stalked up to the epicier, dragging the lady along with him.

"Sir, there is no mistake! But, when I have got the money, if you like to
have the lady you are welcome to her."

"Monstre!" again muttered the fair Adele.

"The long and the short of it," said Monsieur Favart, "is that Monsieur
Bihl is a brave garcon, and has been half over the world as a courier."

"A courier!" exclaimed several voices.

"Madame was nursery-governess to an English milord. They married, and
quarrelled--no harm in that, mes amis; nothing more common. Monsieur Bihl
is a very faithful fellow; nursed his last master in an illness that
ended fatally, because he travelled with his doctor. Milord left him a
handsome legacy--he retired from service, and fell ill, perhaps from
idleness or beer. Is not that the story, Monsieur Bihl?"

"He was always drunk--the wretch!" sobbed Adele. "That was to drown my
domestic sorrows," said the German; "and when I was sick in my bed,
madame ran off with my money. Thanks to monsieur, I have found both, and
I wish you a very good night."

"Dansez-vous toujours, mes amis," said the officer, bowing. And following
Adele and her spouse, the little man left the room--where he had caused,
in chests so broad and limbs so doughty, much the same consternation as
that which some diminutive ferret occasions in a burrow of rabbits twice
his size.

Morton had outstayed Mr. Love. But he thought it unnecessary to linger
long after that gentleman's departure; and, in the general hubbub that
ensued, he crept out unperceived, and soon arrived at the bureau. He
found Mr. Love and Mr. Birnie already engaged in packing up their
effects.

"Why--when did you leave?" said Morton to Mr. Birnie.

"I saw the policeman enter."

"And why the deuce did not you tell us?" said Gawtrey.

"Every man for himself. Besides, Mr. Love was dancing," replied Mr.
Birnie, with a dull glance of disdain. "Philosophy," muttered Gawtrey,
thrusting his dresscoat into his trunk; then, suddenly changing his
voice, "Ha! ha! it was a very good joke after all--own I did it well.
Ecod! if he had not given me that look, I think I should have turned the
tables on him. But those d---d fellows learn of the mad doctors how to
tame us. Faith, my heart went down to my shoes--yet I'm no coward!"

"But, after all, he evidently did not know you," said Morton; "and what
has he to say against you? Your trade is a strange one, but not
dishonest. Why give up as if---"

"My young friend," interrupted Gawtrey, "whether the officer comes after
us or not, our trade is ruined; that infernal Adele, with her fabulous
grandmaman, has done for us. Goupille will blow the temple about our
ears. No help for it--eh, Birnie?"

"None."

"Go to bed, Philip: we'll call thee at daybreak, for we must make clear
work before our neighbours open their shutters."

Reclined, but half undressed, on his bed in the little cabinet, Morton
revolved the events of the evening. The thought that he should see no
more of that white hand and that lovely mouth, which still haunted his
recollection as appertaining to the incognita, greatly indisposed him
towards the abrupt flight intended by Gawtrey, while (so much had his
faith in that person depended upon respect for his confident daring, and
so thoroughly fearless was Morton's own nature) he felt himself greatly
shaken in his allegiance to the chief, by recollecting the effect
produced on his valour by a single glance from the instrument of law. He
had not yet lived long enough to be aware that men are sometimes the
Representatives of Things; that what the scytale was to the Spartan hero,
a sheriff's writ often is to a Waterloo medallist: that a Bow Street
runner will enter the foulest den where Murder sits with his fellows, and
pick out his prey with the beck of his forefinger. That, in short, the
thing called LAW, once made tangible and present, rarely fails to palsy
the fierce heart of the thing called CRIME. For Law is the symbol of all
mankind reared against One Foe--the Man of Crime. Not yet aware of this
truth, nor, indeed, in the least suspecting Gawtrey of worse offences
than those of a charlatanic and equivocal profession, the young man mused
over his protector's cowardice in disdain and wonder: till, wearied with
conjectures, distrust, and shame at his own strange position of
obligation to one whom he could not respect, he fell asleep.

When he woke, he saw the grey light of dawn that streamed cheerlessly
through his shutterless window, struggling with the faint ray of a candle
that Gawtrey, shading with his hand, held over the sleeper. He started
up, and, in the confusion of waking and the imperfect light by which he
beheld the strong features of Gawtrey, half imagined it was a foe who
stood before him.

"Take care, man," said Gawtrey, as Morton, in this belief, grasped his
arm. "You have a precious rough gripe of your own. Be quiet, will you? I
have a word to say to you." Here Gawtrey, placing the candle on a chair,
returned to the door and closed it.

"Look you," he said in a whisper, "I have nearly run through my circle of
invention, and my wit, fertile as it is, can present to me little
encouragement in the future. The eyes of this Favart once on me, every
disguise and every double will not long avail. I dare not return to
London: I am too well known in Brussels, Berlin, and Vienna--"

"But," interrupted Morton, raising himself on his arm, and fixing his
dark eyes upon his host,--"but you have told me again and again that you
have committed no crime; why then be so fearful of discovery?"

"Why," repeated Gawtrey, with a slight hesitation which he instantly
overcame, "why! have not you yourself learned that appearances have the
effect of crimes?--were you not chased as a thief when I rescued you from
your foe, the law?--are you not, though a boy in years, under an alias,
and an exile from your own land? And how can you put these austere
questions to me, who am growing grey in the endeavour to extract sunbeams
from cucumbers--subsistence from poverty? I repeat that there are reasons
why I must avoid, for the present, the great capitals. I must sink in
life, and take to the provinces. Birnie is sanguine as ever; but he is a
terrible sort of comforter! Enough of that. Now to yourself: our savings
are less than you might expect; to be sure, Birnie has been treasurer,
and I have laid by a little for Fanny, which I will rather starve than
touch. There remain, however, 150 napoleons, and our effects, sold at a
fourth their value, will fetch 150 more. Here is your share. I have
compassion on you. I told you I would bear you harmless and innocent.
Leave us while yet time."

It seemed, then, to Morton that Gawtrey had divined his thoughts of shame
and escape of the previous night; perhaps Gawtrey had: and such is the
human heart, that, instead of welcoming the very release he had half
contemplated, now that it was offered him, Philip shrank from it as a
base desertion.

"Poor Gawtrey!" said he, pushing back the canvas bag of gold held out to
him, "you shall not go over the world, and feel that the orphan you fed
and fostered left you to starve with your money in his pocket. When you
again assure me that you have committed no crime, you again remind me
that gratitude has no right to be severe upon the shifts and errors of
its benefactor. If you do not conform to society, what has society done
for me? No! I will not forsake you in a reverse. Fortune has given you a
fall. What, then, courage, and at her again!"

These last words were said so heartily and cheerfully as Morton sprang
from the bed, that they inspirited Gawtrey, who had really desponded of
his lot.

"Well," said he, "I cannot reject the only friend left me; and while I
live--. But I will make no professions. Quick, then, our luggage is
already gone, and I hear Birnie grunting the rogue's march of retreat."

Morton's toilet was soon completed, and the three associates bade adieu
to the bureau.

Birnie, who was taciturn and impenetrable as ever, walked a little before
as guide. They arrived, at length, at a serrurier's shop, placed in an
alley near the Porte St. Denis. The serrurier himself, a tall, begrimed,
blackbearded man, was taking the shutters from his shop as they
approached. He and Birnie exchanged silent nods; and the former, leaving
his work, conducted them up a very filthy flight of stairs to an attic,
where a bed, two stools, one table, and an old walnut-tree bureau formed
the sole articles of furniture. Gawtrey looked rather ruefully round the
black, low, damp walls, and said in a crestfallen tone:

"We were better off at the Temple of Hymen. But get us a bottle of wine,
some eggs, and a frying-pan. By Jove, I am a capital hand at an omelet!"

The serrurier nodded again, grinned, and withdrew.

"Rest here," said Birnie, in his calm, passionless voice, that seemed to
Morton, however, to assume an unwonted tone of command. "I will go and
make the best bargain I can for our furniture, buy fresh clothes, and
engage our places for Tours."

"For Tours?" repeated Morton.

"Yes, there are some English there; one can live wherever there are
English," said Gawtrey.

"Hum!" grunted Birnie, drily, and, buttoning up his coat, he walked
slowly away.

About noon he returned with a bundle of clothes, which Gawtrey, who
always regained his elasticity of spirit wherever there was fair play to
his talents, examined with great attention, and many exclamations of
"Bon!--c'est va."

"I have done well with the Jew," said Birnie, drawing from his coat
pocket two heavy bags. "One hundred and eighty napoleons. We shall
commence with a good capital."

"You are right, my friend," said Gawtrey.

The serrurier was then despatched to the best restaurant in the
neighbourhood, and the three adventurers made a less Socratic dinner than
might have been expected.




CHAPTER VI.

     "Then out again he flies to wing his marry round."
                THOMPSON'S Castle of Indolence.

     "Again he gazed, 'It is,' said he, 'the same;
     There sits he upright in his seat secure,
     As one whose conscience is correct and pure.'"--CRABBE.

The adventurers arrived at Tours, and established themselves there in a
lodging, without any incident worth narrating by the way.

At Tours Morton had nothing to do but take his pleasure and enjoy
himself. He passed for a young heir; Gawtrey for his tutor--a doctor in
divinity; Birnie for his valet. The task of maintenance fell on Gawtrey,
who hit off his character to a hair; larded his grave jokes with
university scraps of Latin; looked big and well-fed; wore knee-breeches
and a shovel hat; and played whist with the skill of a veteran vicar. By
his science in that game he made, at first, enough; at least, to defray
their weekly expenses. But, by degrees, the good people at Tours, who,
under pretence of health, were there for economy, grew shy of so
excellent a player; and though Gawtrey always swore solemnly that he
played with the most scrupulous honour (an asseveration which Morton, at
least, implicitly believed), and no proof to the contrary was ever
detected, yet a first-rate card-player is always a suspicious character,
unless the losing parties know exactly who he is. The market fell off,
and Gawtrey at length thought it prudent to extend their travels.

"Ah!" said Mr. Gawtrey, "the world nowadays has grown so ostentatious
that one cannot travel advantageously without a post-chariot and four
horses." At length they found themselves at Milan, which at that time was
one of the El Dorados for gamesters. Here, however, for want of
introductions, Mr. Gawtrey found it difficult to get into society. The
nobles, proud and rich, played high, but were circumspect in their
company; the bourgeoisie, industrious and energetic, preserved much of
the old Lombard shrewdness; there were no tables d'hote and public
reunions. Gawtrey saw his little capital daily diminishing, with the Alps
at the rear and Poverty in the van. At length, always on the qui vive, he
contrived to make acquaintance with a Scotch family of great
respectability. He effected this by picking up a snuff-box which the
Scotchman had dropped in taking out his handkerchief. This politeness
paved the way to a conversation in which Gawtrey made himself so
agreeable, and talked with such zest of the Modern Athens, and the tricks
practised upon travellers, that he was presented to Mrs. Macgregor; cards
were interchanged, and, as Mr. Gawtrey lived in tolerable style, the
Macgregors pronounced him "a vara genteel mon." Once in the house of a
respectable person, Gawtrey contrived to turn himself round and round,
till he burrowed a hole into the English circle then settled in Milan.
His whist-playing came into requisition, and once more Fortune smiled
upon Skill.

To this house the pupil one evening accompanied the tutor. When the whist
party, consisting of two tables, was formed, the young man found himself
left out with an old gentleman, who seemed loquacious and good-natured,
and who put many questions to Morton, which he found it difficult to
answer. One of the whist tables was now in a state of revolution, viz., a
lady had cut out and a gentleman cut in, when the door opened, and Lord
Lilburne was announced.

Mr. Macgregor, rising, advanced with great respect to this personage.

"I scarcely ventured to hope you would coom, Lord Lilburne, the night is
so cold."

"You did not allow sufficiently, then, for the dulness of my solitary inn
and the attractions of your circle. Aha! whist, I see."

"You play sometimes?"

"Very seldom, now; I have sown all my wild oats, and even the ace of
spades can scarcely dig them out again."

"Ha! ha! vara gude."

"I will look on;" and Lord Lilburne drew his chair to the table, exactly
opposite to Mr. Gawtrey.

The old gentleman turned to Philip.

"An extraordinary man, Lord Lilburne; you have heard of him, of course?"

"No, indeed; what of him?" asked the young man, rousing himself.

"What of him?" said the old gentleman, with a smile; "why the newspapers,
if you ever read them, will tell you enough of the elegant, the witty
Lord Lilburne; a man of eminent talent, though indolent. He was wild in
his youth, as clever men often are; but, on attaining his title and
fortune, and marrying into the family of the then premier, he became more
sedate. They say he might make a great figure in politics if he would. He
has a very high reputation--very. People do say that he is still fond of
pleasure; but that is a common failing amongst the aristocracy. Morality
is only found in the middle classes, young gentleman. It is a lucky
family, that of Lilburne; his sister, Mrs. Beaufort--"

"Beaufort!" exclaimed Morton, and then muttered to himself, "Ah,
true--true; I have heard the name of Lilburne before."

"Do you know the Beauforts? Well, you remember how luckily Robert,
Lilburne's brother-in-law, came into that fine property just as his
predecessor was about to marry a--"

Morton scowled at his garrulous acquaintance, and stalked abruptly to the
card table.

Ever since Lord Lilburne had seated himself opposite to Mr. Gawtrey, that
gentleman had evinced a perturbation of manner that became obvious to the
company. He grew deadly pale, his hands trembled, he moved uneasily in
his seat, he missed deal, he trumped his partner's best diamond; finally
he revoked, threw down his money, and said, with a forced smile, "that
the heat of the room overcame him." As he rose Lord Lilburne rose also,
and the eyes of both met. Those of Lilburne were calm, but penetrating
and inquisitive in their gaze; those of Gawtrey were like balls of fire.
He seemed gradually to dilate in his height, his broad chest expanded, he
breathed hard.

"Ah, Doctor," said Mr. Macgregor, "let me introduce you to Lord
Lilburne."

The peer bowed haughtily; Mr. Gawtrey did not return the salutation, but
with a sort of gulp, as if he were swallowing some burst of passion,
strode to the fire, and then, turning round, again fixed his gaze upon
the new guest.

Lilburne, however, who had never lost his self-composure at this strange
rudeness, was now quietly talking with their host.

"Your Doctor seems an eccentric man--a little absent--learned, I suppose.
Have you been to Como, yet?"

Mr. Gawtrey remained by the fire beating the devil's tattoo upon the
chimney-piece, and ever and anon turning his glance towards Lilburne, who
seemed to have forgotten his existence.

Both these guests stayed till the party broke up; Mr. Gawtrey apparently
wishing to outstay Lord Lilburne; for, when the last went down-stairs,
Mr. Gawtrey, nodding to his comrade and giving a hurried bow to the host,
descended also. As they passed the porter's lodge, they found Lilburne on
the step of his carriage; he turned his head abruptly, and again met Mr.
Gawtrey's eye; paused a moment, and whispered over his shoulder:

"So we remember each other, sir? Let us not meet again; and, on that
condition, bygones are bygones."

"Scoundrel!" muttered Gawtrey, clenching his fists; but the peer had
sprung into his carriage with a lightness scarcely to be expected from
his lameness, and the wheels whirled within an inch of the soi-disant
doctor's right pump.

Gawtrey walked on for some moments in great excitement; at length he
turned to his companion,--

"Do you guess who Lord Lilburne is? I will tell you my first foe and
Fanny's grandfather! Now, note the justice of Fate: here is this
man--mark well--this man who commenced life by putting his faults on my
own shoulders! From that little boss has fungused out a terrible hump.
This man who seduced my affianced bride, and then left her whole soul,
once fair and blooming--I swear it--with its leaves fresh from the dews
of heaven, one rank leprosy, this man who, rolling in riches, learned to
cheat and pilfer as a boy learns to dance and play the fiddle, and (to
damn me, whose happiness he had blasted) accused me to the world of his
own crime!--here is this man who has not left off one vice, but added to
those of his youth the bloodless craft of the veteran knave;--here is
this man, flattered, courted, great, marching through lanes of bowing
parasites to an illustrious epitaph and a marble tomb, and I, a rogue
too, if you will, but rogue for my bread, dating from him my errors and
my ruin! I--vagabond--outcast--skulking through tricks to avoid
crime--why the difference? Because one is born rich and the other
poor--because he has no excuse for crime, and therefore no one suspects
him!"

The wretched man (for at that moment he was wretched) paused breathless
from his passionate and rapid burst, and before him rose in its marble
majesty, with the moon full upon its shining spires--the wonder of Gothic
Italy--the Cathedral Church of Milan.

"Chafe not yourself at the universal fate," said the young man, with a
bitter smile on his lips and pointing to the cathedral; "I have not lived
long, but I have learned already enough to know this? he who could raise
a pile like that, dedicated to Heaven, would be honoured as a saint; he
who knelt to God by the roadside under a hedge would be sent to the house
of correction as a vagabond. The difference between man and man is money,
and will be, when you, the despised charlatan, and Lilburne, the honoured
cheat, have not left as much dust behind you as will fill a snuff-box.
Comfort yourself, you are in the majority."




CHAPTER VII.

                "A desert wild
     Before them stretched bare, comfortless, and vast,
     With gibbets, bones, and carcasses defiled."
             THOMPSON'S Castle of Indolenece.

Mr. Gawtrey did not wish to give his foe the triumph of thinking he had
driven him from Milan; he resolved to stay and brave it out; but when he
appeared in public, he found the acquaintances he had formed bow
politely, but cross to the other side of the way. No more invitations to
tea and cards showered in upon the jolly parson. He was puzzled, for
people, while they shunned him, did not appear uncivil. He found out at
last that a report was circulated that he was deranged; though he could
not trace this rumour to Lord Lilburne, he was at no loss to guess from
whom it had emanated. His own eccentricities, especially his recent
manner at Mr. Macgregor's, gave confirmation to the charge. Again the
funds began to sink low in the canvas bags, and at length, in despair,
Mr. Gawtrey was obliged to quit the field. They returned to France
through Switzerland--a country too poor for gamesters; and ever since the
interview with Lilburne, a great change had come over Gawtrey's gay
spirit: he grew moody and thoughtful, he took no pains to replenish the
common stock, he talked much and seriously to his young friend of poor
Fanny, and owned that he yearned to see her again. The desire to return
to Paris haunted him like a fatality; he saw the danger that awaited him
there, but it only allured him the more, as the candle does the moth
whose wings it has singed. Birnie, who, in all their vicissitudes and
wanderings, their ups and downs, retained the same tacit, immovable
demeanour, received with a sneer the orders at last to march back upon
the French capital. "You would never have left it, if you had taken my
advice," he said, and quitted the room.

Mr. Gawtrey gazed after him and muttered, "Is the die then cast?"

"What does he mean?" said Morton.

"You will know soon," replied Gawtrey, and he followed Birnie; and from
that time the whispered conferences with that person, which had seemed
suspended during their travels, were renewed.

      .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

One morning, three men were seen entering Paris on foot through the Porte
St. Denis. It was a fine day in spring, and the old city looked gay with
its loitering passengers and gaudy shops, and under that clear blue
exhilarating sky so peculiar to France.

Two of these men walked abreast, the other preceded them a few steps. The
one who went first--thin, pale, and threadbare--yet seemed to suffer the
least from fatigue; he walked with a long, swinging, noiseless stride,
looking to the right and left from the corners of his eyes. Of the two
who followed, one was handsome and finely formed, but of swarthy
complexion, young, yet with a look of care; the other, of sturdy frame,
leaned on a thick stick, and his eyes were gloomily cast down.

"Philip," said the last, "in coming back to Paris--I feel that I am
coming back to my grave!"

"Pooh--you were equally despondent in our excursions elsewhere."

"Because I was always thinking of poor Fanny, and
because--because--Birnie was ever at me with his horrible temptations!"

"Birnie! I loathe the man! Will you never get rid of him?"

"I cannot! Hush! he will hear us. How unlucky we have been! and now
without a son in our pockets--here the dunghill--there the gaol! We are
in his power at last!"

"His power! what mean you?"

"What ho! Birnie!" cried Gawtrey, unheeding Morton's question. "Let us
halt and breakfast: I am tired."

"You forget!--we have no money till we make it," returned Birnie,
coldly.--"Come to the serrurier's he will trust us."




CHAPTER VIII.

     "Gaunt Beggary and Scorn with many bell-hounds more."
     THOMSON'S Castle of Indolence.

     "The other was a fell, despiteful fiend."--Ibid.

     "Your happiness behold! then straight a wand
     He waved, an anti-magic power that hath
     Truth from illusive falsehood to command."--Ibid.

     "But what for us, the children of despair,
     Brought to the brink of hell--what hope remains?
     RESOLVE, RESOLVE!"--Ibid.

It may be observed that there are certain years in which in a civilised
country some particular crime comes into vogue. It flares its season, and
then burns out. Thus at one time we have Burking--at another,
Swingism--now, suicide is in vogue--now, poisoning tradespeople in
apple-dumplings--now, little boys stab each other with penknives--now,
common soldiers shoot at their sergeants. Almost every year there is one
crime peculiar to it; a sort of annual which overruns the country but
does not bloom again. Unquestionably the Press has a great deal to do
with these epidemics. Let a newspaper once give an account of some
out-of-the-way atrocity that has the charm of being novel, and certain
depraved minds fasten to it like leeches. They brood over and revolve
it--the idea grows up, a horrid phantasmalian monomania; and all of a
sudden, in a hundred different places, the one seed sown by the leaden
types springs up into foul flowering.

   [An old Spanish writer, treating of the Inquisition, has some very
   striking remarks on the kind of madness which, whenever some
   terrible notoriety is given to a particular offence, leads persons
   of distempered fancy to accuse themselves of it. He observes that
   when the cruelties of the Inquisition against the imaginary crime of
   sorcery were the most barbarous, this singular frenzy led numbers to
   accuse themselves of sorcery. The publication and celebrity of the
   crime begat the desire of the crime.]

But if the first reported aboriginal crime has been attended with
impunity, how much more does the imitative faculty cling to it.
Ill-judged mercy falls, not like dew, but like a great heap of manure, on
the rank deed.

Now it happened that at the time I write of, or rather a little before,
there had been detected and tried in Paris a most redoubted coiner. He
had carried on the business with a dexterity that won admiration even for
the offence; and, moreover, he had served previously with some
distinction at Austerlitz and Marengo. The consequence was that the
public went with instead of against him, and his sentence was transmuted
to three years' imprisonment by the government. For all governments in
free countries aspire rather to be popular than just.

No sooner was this case reported in the journals--and even the gravest
took notice, of it (which is not common with the scholastic journals of
France)--no sooner did it make a stir and a sensation, and cover the
criminal with celebrity, than the result became noticeable in a very
large issue of false money.

Coining in the year I now write of was the fashionable crime. The police
were roused into full vigour: it became known to them that there was one
gang in especial who cultivated this art with singular success. Their
coinage was, indeed, so good, so superior to all their rivals, that it
was often unconsciously preferred by the public to the real mintage. At
the same time they carried on their calling with such secrecy that they
utterly baffled discovery.

An immense reward was offered by the bureau to any one who would betray
his accomplices, and Monsieur Favart was placed at the head of a
commission of inquiry. This person had himself been a faux monnoyer, and
was an adept in the art, and it was he who had discovered the redoubted
coiner who had brought the crime into such notoriety. Monsieur Favart was
a man of the most vigilant acuteness, the most indefatigable research,
and of a courage which; perhaps, is more common than we suppose. It is a
popular error to suppose that courage means courage in everything. Put a
hero on board ship at a five-barred gate, and, if he is not used to
hunting, he will turn pale; put a fox-hunter on one of the Swiss chasms,
over which the mountaineer springs like a roe, and his knees will knock
under him. People are brave in the dangers to which they accustom
themselves, either in imagination or practice.

Monsieur Favart, then, was a man of the most daring bravery in facing
rogues and cut-throats. He awed them with his very eye; yet he had been
known to have been kicked down-stairs by his wife, and when he was drawn
into the grand army, he deserted the eve of his first battle. Such, as
moralists say, is the inconsistency of man!

But Monsieur Favart was sworn to trace the coiners, and he had never
failed yet in any enterprise he undertook. One day he presented himself
to his chief with a countenance so elated that that penetrating
functionary said to him at once--

"You have heard of our messieurs!"

"I have: I am to visit them to-night."

"Bravo! How many men will you take?"

"From twelve to twenty to leave without on guard. But I must enter alone.
Such is the condition: an accomplice who fears his own throat too much to
be openly a betrayer will introduce me to the house--nay, to the very
room. By his description it is necessary I should know the exact locale
in order to cut off retreat; so to-morrow night I shall surround the
beehive and take the honey."

"They are desperate fellows, these coiners, always; better be cautious."

"You forget I was one of them, and know the masonry." About the same time
this conversation was going on at the bureau of the police, in another
part of the town Morton and Gawtrey were seated alone. It is some weeks
since they entered Paris, and spring has mellowed into summer.

The house in which they lodged was in the lordly quartier of the Faubourg
St. Germain; the neighbouring streets were venerable with the ancient
edifices of a fallen noblesse; but their tenement was in a narrow, dingy
lane, and the building itself seemed beggarly and ruinous. The apartment
was in an attic on the sixth story, and the window, placed at the back of
the lane, looked upon another row of houses of a better description, that
communicated with one of the great streets of the quartier. The space
between their abode and their opposite neighbours was so narrow that the
sun could scarcely pierce between. In the height of summer might be found
there a perpetual shade.

The pair were seated by the window. Gawtrey, well-dressed, smooth-shaven,
as in his palmy time; Morton, in the same garments with which he had
entered Paris, weather-stained and ragged. Looking towards the casements
of the attic in the opposite house, Gawtrey said, mutteringly, "I wonder
where Birnie has been, and why he has not returned. I grow suspicious of
that man."

"Suspicious of what?" asked Morton. "Of his honesty? Would he rob you?"

"Rob me! Humph--perhaps! but you see I am in Paris, in spite of the hints
of the police; he may denounce me."

"Why, then, suffer him to lodge away from you?"

"Why? because, by having separate houses there are two channels of
escape. A dark night, and a ladder thrown across from window to window,
he is with us, or we with him."

"But wherefore such precautions? You blind--you deceive me; what have you
done?--what is your employment now? You are, mute. Hark you, Gawtrey. I
have pinned my fate to you--I am fallen from hope itself! At times it
almost makes me mad to look back--and yet you do not trust me. Since your
return to Paris you are absent whole nights--often days; you are moody
and thoughtful-yet, whatever your business, it seems to bring you ample
returns."

"You think that," said Gawtrey, mildly, and with a sort of pity in his
voice; "yet you refuse to take even the money to change those rags."

"Because I know not how the money was gained. Ah, Gawtrey, I am not too
proud for charity, but I am for--" He checked the word uppermost in his
thoughts, and resumed--

"Yes; your occupations seem lucrative. It was but yesterday Birnie gave
me fifty napoleons, for which he said you wished change in silver."

"Did he? The ras-- Well! and you got change for them?"

"I know not why, but I refused."

"That was right, Philip. Do nothing that man tells you."

"Will you, then, trust me? You are engaged in some horrible traffic! it
may be blood! I am no longer a boy--I have a will of my own--I will not
be silently and blindly entrapped to perdition. If I march thither, it
shall be with my own consent. Trust me, and this day, or we part
to-morrow."

"Be ruled. Some secrets it is better not to know."

"It matters not. I have come to my decision--I ask yours."

Gawtrey paused for some moments in deep thought. At last he lifted his
eyes to Philip, and replied:

"Well, then, if it must be. Sooner or later it must have been so; and I
want a confidant. You are bold, and will not shrink. You desire to know
my occupation--will you witness it to-night?"

"I am prepared: to-night!"

Here a step was heard on the stairs--a knock at the door--and Birnie
entered.

He drew aside Gawtrey, and whispered him, as usual, for some moments.

Gawtrey nodded his head, and then said aloud--

"To-morrow we shall talk without reserve before my young friend. To-night
he joins us."

"To-night!--very well," said Birnie, with his cold sneer. "He must take
the oath; and you, with your life, will be responsible for his honesty?"

"Ay! it is the rule."

"Good-bye, then, till we meet," said Birnie, and withdrew.

"I wonder," said Gawtrey, musingly, and between his grinded teeth,
"whether I shall ever have a good fair shot at that fellow? Ho! ho!" and
his laugh shook the walls.

Morton looked hard at Gawtrey, as the latter now sank down in his chair,
and gazed with a vacant stare, that seemed almost to partake of
imbecility, upon the opposite wall. The careless, reckless, jovial
expression, which usually characterised the features of the man, had for
some weeks given place to a restless, anxious, and at times ferocious
aspect, like the beast that first finds a sport while the hounds are yet
afar, and his limbs are yet strong, in the chase which marks him for his
victim, but grows desperate with rage and fear as the day nears its
close, and the death-dogs pant hard upon his track. But at that moment
the strong features, with their gnarled muscle and iron sinews, seemed to
have lost every sign both of passion and the will, and to be locked in a
stolid and dull repose. At last he looked up at Morton, and said, with a
smile like that of an old man in his dotage--

"I'm thinking that my life has been one mistake! I had talents--you would
not fancy it--but once I was neither a fool nor a villain! Odd, isn't it?
Just reach me the brandy."

But Morton, with a slight shudder, turned and left the room.

He walked on mechanically, and gained, at last, the superb Quai that
borders the Seine; there, the passengers became more frequent; gay
equipages rolled along; the white and lofty mansions looked fair and
stately in the clear blue sky of early summer; beside him flowed the
sparkling river, animated with the painted baths that floated on its
surface: earth was merry and heaven serene his heart was dark through
all: Night within--Morning beautiful without! At last he paused by that
bridge, stately with the statues of those whom the caprice of time
honours with a name; for though Zeus and his gods be overthrown, while
earth exists will live the worship of Dead Men;--the bridge by which you
pass from the royal Tuileries, or the luxurious streets beyond the Rue de
Rivoli, to the Senate of the emancipated People, and the gloomy and
desolate grandeur of the Faubourg St. Germain, in whose venerable haunts
the impoverished descendants of the old feudal tyrants, whom the birth of
the Senate overthrew, yet congregate;--the ghosts of departed powers
proud of the shadows of great names. As the English outcast paused midway
on the bridge, and for the first time lifting his head from his bosom,
gazed around, there broke at once on his remembrance that terrible and
fatal evening, when, hopeless, friendless, desperate, he had begged for
charity of his uncle's hireling, with all the feelings that then (so
imperfectly and lightly touched on in his brief narrative to Gawtrey) had
raged and blackened in his breast, urging to the resolution he had
adopted, casting him on the ominous friendship of the man whose guidance
he even then had suspected and distrusted. The spot in either city had a
certain similitude and correspondence each with each: at the first he had
consummated his despair of human destinies--he had dared to forget the
Providence of God--he had arrogated his fate to himself: by the first
bridge he had taken his resolve; by the last he stood in awe at the
result--stood no less poor--no less abject--equally in rags and squalor;
but was his crest as haughty and his eye as fearless, for was his
conscience as free and his honour as unstained? Those arches of
stone--those rivers that rolled between, seemed to him then to take a
more mystic and typical sense than belongs to the outer world--they were
the bridges to the Rivers of his Life. Plunged in thoughts so confused
and dim that he could scarcely distinguish, through the chaos, the one
streak of light which, perhaps, heralded the reconstruction or
regeneration of the elements of his soul;--two passengers halted, also by
his side.

"You will be late for the debate," said one of them to the other. "Why do
you stop?"

"My friend," said the other, "I never pass this spot without recalling
the time when I stood here without a son, or, as I thought, a chance of
one, and impiously meditated self-destruction."

"You!--now so rich--so fortunate in repute and station--is it possible?
How was it? A lucky chance?--a sudden legacy?"

"No: Time, Faith, and Energy--the three Friends God has given to the
Poor!"

The men moved on; but Morton, who had turned his face towards them,
fancied that the last speaker fixed on him his bright, cheerful eye, with
a meaning look; and when the man was gone, he repeated those words, and
hailed them in his heart of hearts as an augury from above.

Quickly, then, and as if by magic, the former confusion of his mind
seemed to settle into distinct shapes of courage and resolve. "Yes," he
muttered; "I will keep this night's appointment--I will learn the secret
of these men's life. In my inexperience and destitution, I have suffered
myself to be led hitherto into a partnership, if not with vice and crime,
at least with subterfuge and trick. I awake from my reckless boyhood--my
unworthy palterings with my better self. If Gawtrey be as I dread to find
him--if he be linked in some guilty and hateful traffic; with that
loathsome accomplice--I will--" He paused, for his heart whispered,
"Well, and even so,--the guilty man clothed and fed thee!" "I will,"
resumed his thought, in answer to his heart--"I will go on my knees to
him to fly while there is yet time, to work--beg--starve--perish
even--rather than lose the right to look man in the face without a blush,
and kneel to his God without remorse!"

And as he thus ended, he felt suddenly as if he himself were restored to
the perception and the joy of the Nature and the World around him; the
NIGHT had vanished from his soul--he inhaled the balm and freshness of
the air--he comprehended the delight which the liberal June was
scattering over the earth--he looked above, and his eyes were suffused
with pleasure, at the smile of the soft blue skies. The MORNING became,
as it were, a part of his own being; and he felt that as the world in
spite of the storms is fair, so in spite of evil God is good. He walked
on--he passed the bridge, but his step was no more the same,--he forgot
his rags. Why should he be ashamed? And thus, in the very flush of this
new and strange elation and elasticity of spirit, he came unawares upon a
group of young men, lounging before the porch of one of the chief hotels
in that splendid Rue de Rivoli, wherein Wealth and the English have made
their homes. A groom, mounted, was leading another horse up and down the
road, and the young men were making their comments of approbation upon
both the horses, especially the one led, which was, indeed, of uncommon
beauty and great value. Even Morton, in whom the boyish passion of his
earlier life yet existed, paused to turn his experienced and admiring eye
upon the stately shape and pace of the noble animal, and as he did so, a
name too well remembered came upon his ear.

"Certainly, Arthur Beaufort is the most enviable fellow in Europe."

"Why, yes," said another of the young men; "he has plenty of money--is
good-looking, devilish good-natured, clever, and spends like a prince."

"Has the best horses!"

"The best luck at roulette!"

"The prettiest girls in love with him!"

"And no one enjoys life more. Ah! here he is!"

The group parted as a light, graceful figure came out of a jeweller's
shop that adjoined the hotel, and halted gaily amongst the loungers.
Morton's first impulse was to hurry from the spot; his second impulse
arrested his step, and, a little apart, and half-hid beneath one of the
arches of the colonnade which adorns the street, the Outcast gazed upon.
the Heir. There was no comparison in the natural personal advantages of
the two young men; for Philip Morton, despite all the hardships of his
rough career, had now grown up and ripened into a rare perfection of form
and feature. His broad chest, his erect air, his lithe and symmetrical
length of limb, united, happily, the attributes of activity and strength;
and though there was no delicacy of youthful bloom upon his dark cheek,
and though lines which should have come later marred its smoothness with
the signs of care and thought, yet an expression of intelligence and
daring, equally beyond his years, and the evidence of hardy, abstemious,
vigorous health, served to show to the full advantage the outline of
features which, noble and regular, though stern and masculine, the artist
might have borrowed for his ideal of a young Spartan arming for his first
battle. Arthur, slight to feebleness, and with the paleness, partly of
constitution, partly of gay excess, on his fair and clear complexion, had
features far less symmetrical and impressive than his cousin: but what
then? All that are bestowed by elegance of dress, the refinements of
luxurious habit, the nameless grace that comes from a mind and a manner
polished, the one by literary culture, the other by social intercourse,
invested the person of the heir with a fascination that rude Nature alone
ever fails to give. And about him there was a gaiety, an airiness of
spirit, an atmosphere of enjoyment which bespoke one who is in love with
life.

"Why, this is lucky! I'm so glad to see you all!" said Arthur Beaufort,
with that silver-ringing tone and charming smile which are to the happy
spring of man what its music and its sunshine are to the spring of earth.
"You must dine with me at Verey's. I want something to rouse me to-day;
for I did not get home from the Salon* till four this morning."

   *[The most celebrated gaming-house in Paris in the day before
   gaming-houses were suppressed by the well-directed energy of the
   government.]

"But you won?"

"Yes, Marsden. Hang it! I always win: I who could so well afford to lose:
I'm quite ashamed of my luck!"

"It is easy to spend what one wins," observed Mr. Marsden, sententiously;
"and I see you have been at the jeweller's! A present for Cecile? Well,
don't blush, my dear fellow. What is life without women?"

"And wine?" said a second. "And play?" said a third. "And wealth?" said a
fourth.

"And you enjoy them all! Happy fellow!" said a fifth. The Outcast pulled
his hat over his brows, and walked away.

"This dear Paris," said Beaufort, as his eye carelessly and unconsciously
followed the dark form retreating through the arches;--"this dear Paris!
I must make the most of it while I stay! I have only been here a few
weeks, and next week I must go."

"Pooh--your health is better: you don't look like the same man."

"You think so really? Still I don't know: the doctors say that I must
either go to the German waters--the season is begun--or--"

"Or what?"

"Live less with such pleasant companions, my dear fellow! But as you say,
what is life without--"

"Women!"

"Wine!"

"Play!"

"Wealth!"

"Ha! ha. 'Throw physic to the dogs: I'll none of it!'"

And Arthur leaped lightly on his saddle, and as he rode gaily on, humming
the favourite air of the last opera, the hoofs of his horse splashed the
mud over a foot-passenger halting at the crossing. Morton checked the
fiery exclamation rising to his lips; and gazing after the brilliant form
that hurried on towards the Champs Elysees, his eye caught the statues on
the bridge, and a voice, as of a cheering angel, whispered again to his
heart, "TIME, FAITH, ENERGY!"

The expression of his countenance grew calm at once, and as he continued
his rambles it was with a mind that, casting off the burdens of the past,
looked serenely and steadily on the obstacles and hardships of the
future. We have seen that a scruple of conscience or of pride, not
without its nobleness, had made him refuse the importunities of Gawtrey
for less sordid raiment; the same feeling made it his custom to avoid
sharing the luxurious and dainty food with which Gawtrey was wont to
regale himself. For that strange man, whose wonderful felicity of
temperament and constitution rendered him, in all circumstances, keenly
alive to the hearty and animal enjoyments of life, would still emerge, as
the day declined, from their wretched apartment, and, trusting to his
disguises, in which indeed he possessed a masterly art, repair to one of
the better description of restaurants, and feast away his cares for the
moment. William Gawtrey would not have cared three straws for the curse
of Damocles. The sword over his head would never have spoiled his
appetite! He had lately, too, taken to drinking much more deeply than he
had been used to do--the fine intellect of the man was growing thickened
and dulled; and this was a spectacle that Morton could not bear to
contemplate. Yet so great was Gawtrey's vigour of health, that, after
draining wine and spirits enough to have despatched a company of
fox-hunters, and after betraying, sometimes in uproarious glee, sometimes
in maudlin self-bewailings, that he himself was not quite invulnerable to
the thyrsus of the god, he would--on any call on his energies, or
especially before departing on those mysterious expeditions which kept
him from home half, and sometimes all, the night--plunge his head into
cold water--drink as much of the lymph as a groom would have shuddered to
bestow on a horse--close his eyes in a doze for half an hour, and wake,
cool, sober, and collected, as if he had lived according to the precepts
of Socrates or Cornaro!

But to return to Morton. It was his habit to avoid as much as possible
sharing the good cheer of his companion; and now, as he entered the
Champs Elysees, he saw a little family, consisting of a young mechanic,
his wife, and two children, who, with that love of harmless recreation
which yet characterises the French, had taken advantage of a holiday in
the craft, and were enjoying their simple meal under the shadow of the
trees. Whether in hunger or in envy, Morton paused and contemplated the
happy group. Along the road rolled the equipages and trampled the steeds
of those to whom all life is a holiday. There, was Pleasure--under those
trees was Happiness. One of the children, a little boy of about six years
old, observing the attitude and gaze of the pausing wayfarer, ran to him,
and holding up a fragment of a coarse kind of cake, said to him,
willingly, "Take it--I have had enough!" The child reminded Morton of his
brother--his heart melted within him--he lifted the young Samaritan in
his arms, and as he kissed him, wept.

The mother observed and rose also. She laid her hand on his own: "Poor
boy! why do you weep?--can we relieve you?"

Now that bright gleam of human nature, suddenly darting across the sombre
recollections and associations of his past life, seemed to Morton as if
it came from Heaven, in approval and in blessing of this attempt at
reconciliation to his fate.

"I thank you," said he, placing the child on the ground, and passing his
hand over his eyes,--"I thank you--yes! Let me sit down amongst you." And
he sat down, the child by his side, and partook of their fare, and was
merry with them,--the proud Philip!--had he not begun to discover the
"precious jewel" in the "ugly and venomous" Adversity?

The mechanic, though a gay fellow on the whole, was not without some of
that discontent of his station which is common with his class; he vented
it, however, not in murmurs, but in jests. He was satirical on the
carriages and the horsemen that passed; and, lolling on the grass,
ridiculed his betters at his ease.

"Hush!" said his wife, suddenly; "here comes Madame de Merville;" and
rising as she spoke, she made a respectful inclination of her head
towards an open carriage that was passing very slowly towards the town.

"Madame de Merville!" repeated the husband, rising also, and lifting his
cap from his head. "Ah! I have nothing to say against her!"

Morton looked instinctively towards the carriage, and saw a fair
countenance turned graciously to answer the silent salutations of the
mechanic and his wife--a countenance that had long haunted his dreams,
though of late it had faded away beneath harsher thoughts--the
countenance of the stranger whom he had seen at the bureau of Gawtrey,
when that worthy personage had borne a more mellifluous name. He started
and changed colour: the lady herself now seemed suddenly to recognise
him; for their eyes met, and she bent forward eagerly. She pulled the
check-string--the carriage halted--she beckoned to the mechanic's wife,
who went up to the roadside.

"I worked once for that lady," said the man with a tone of feeling; "and
when my wife fell ill last winter she paid the doctors. Ah, she is an
angel of charity and kindness!"

Morton scarcely heard this eulogium, for he observed, by something eager
and inquisitive in the face of Madame de Merville, and by the sudden
manner in which the mechanic's helpmate turned her head to the spot in
which he stood, that he was the object of their conversation. Once more
he became suddenly aware of his ragged dress, and with a natural shame--a
fear that charity might be extended to him from her--he muttered an
abrupt farewell to the operative, and without another glance at the
carriage, walked away.

Before he had got many paces, the wife however came up to him,
breathless. "Madame de Merville would speak to you, sir!" she said, with
more respect than she had hitherto thrown into her manner. Philip paused
an instant, and again strode on--

"It must be some mistake," he said, hurriedly: "I have no right to expect
such an honour."

He struck across the road, gained the opposite side, and had vanished
from Madame de Merville's eyes, before the woman regained the carriage.
But still that calm, pale, and somewhat melancholy face, presented itself
before him; and as he walked again through the town, sweet and gentle
fancies crowded confusedly on his heart. On that soft summer day,
memorable for so many silent but mighty events in that inner life which
prepares the catastrophes of the outer one; as in the region, of which
Virgil has sung, the images of men to be born hereafter repose or
glide--on that soft summer day, he felt he had reached the age when Youth
begins to clothe in some human shape its first vague ideal of desire and
love.

In such thoughts, and still wandering, the day wore away, till he found
himself in one of the lanes that surround that glittering Microcosm of
the vices, the frivolities, the hollow show, and the real beggary of the
gay City--the gardens and the galleries of the Palais Royal. Surprised at
the lateness of the hour, it was then on the stroke of seven, he was
about to return homewards, when the loud voice of Gawtrey sounded behind,
and that personage, tapping him on the back, said,--

"Hollo, my young friend, well met! This will be a night of trial to you.
Empty stomachs produce weak nerves. Come along! you must dine with me. A
good dinner and a bottle of old wine--come! nonsense, I say you shall
come! Vive la joie!"

While speaking, he had linked his arm in Morton's, and hurried him on
several paces in spite of his struggles; but just as the words Vive la
joie left his lips, he stood still and mute, as if a thunderbolt had
fallen at his feet; and Morton felt that heavy arm shiver and tremble
like a leaf. He looked up, and just at the entrance of that part of the
Palais Royal in which are situated the restaurants of Verey and Vefour,
he saw two men standing but a few paces before them, and gazing full on
Gawtrey and himself.

"It is my evil genius," muttered Gawtrey, grinding his teeth.

"And mine!" said Morton.

The younger of the two men thus apostrophised made a step towards Philip,
when his companion drew him back and whispered,--"What are you about--do
you know that young man?"

"He is my cousin; Philip Beaufort's natural son!"

"Is he? then discard him for ever. He is with the most dangerous knave in
Europe!"

As Lord Lilburne--for it was he--thus whispered his nephew, Gawtrey
strode up to him; and, glaring full in his face, said in a deep and
hollow tone,--"There is a hell, my lord,--I go to drink to our meeting!"
Thus saying, he took off his hat with a ceremonious mockery, and
disappeared within the adjoining restaurant, kept by Vefour.

"A hell!" said Lilburne, with his frigid smile; "the rogue's head runs
upon gambling-houses!"

"And I have suffered Philip again to escape me," said Arthur, in
self-reproach: for while Gawtrey had addressed Lord Lilburne, Morton had
plunged back amidst the labyrinth of alleys. "How have I kept my oath?"

"Come! your guests must have arrived by this time. As for that wretched
young man, depend upon it that he is corrupted body and soul."

"But he is my own cousin."

"Pooh! there is no relationship in natural children: besides, he will
find you out fast enough. Ragged claimants are not long too proud to
beg."

"You speak in earnest?" said Arthur, irresolutely. "Ay! trust my
experience of the world--Allons!"

And in a cabinet of the very restaurant, adjoining that in which the
solitary Gawtrey gorged his conscience, Lilburne, Arthur, and their gay
friends, soon forgetful of all but the roses of the moment, bathed their
airy spirits in the dews of the mirthful wine. Oh, extremes of life! Oh,
Night! Oh, Morning!




CHAPTER IX.

"Meantime a moving scene was open laid, That lazar house."--THOMSON'S
Castle of Indolence.

It was near midnight. At the mouth of the lane in which Gawtrey resided
there stood four men. Not far distant, in the broad street at angles with
the lane, were heard the wheels of carriages and the sound of music. A
lady, fair in form, tender of heart, stainless in repute, was receiving
her friends!

"Monsieur Favart," said one of the men to the smallest of the four; "you
understand the conditions--20,000 francs and a free pardon?"

"Nothing more reasonable--it is understood. Still I confess that I should
like to have my men close at hand. I am not given to fear; but this is a
dangerous experiment."

"You knew the danger beforehand and subscribed to it: you must enter
alone with me, or not at all. Mark you, the men are sworn to murder him
who betrays them. Not for twenty times 20,000 francs would I have them
know me as the informer. My life were not worth a day's purchase. Now, if
you feel secure in your disguise, all is safe. You will have seen them at
their work--you will recognise their persons--you can depose against them
at the trial--I shall have time to quit France."

"Well, well! as you please."

"Mind, you must wait in the vault with them till they separate. We have
so planted your men that whatever street each of the gang takes in going
home, he can be seized quietly and at once. The bravest and craftiest of
all, who, though he has but just joined, is already their captain;--him,
the man I told you of, who lives in the house, you must take after his
return, in his bed. It is the sixth story to the right, remember: here is
the key to his door. He is a giant in strength; and will never be taken
alive if up and armed."

"Ah, I comprehend!--Gilbert" (and Favart turned to one of his companions
who had not yet spoken) "take three men besides yourself, according to
the directions I gave you,--the porter will admit you, that's arranged.
Make no noise. If I don't return by four o'clock, don't wait for me, but
proceed at once. Look well to your primings. Take him alive, if
possible--at the worst, dead. And now--anon ami--lead on!"

The traitor nodded, and walked slowly down the street. Favart, pausing,
whispered hastily to the man whom he had called Gilbert,--

"Follow me close--get to the door of the cellar-place eight men within
hearing of my whistle--recollect the picklocks, the axes. If you hear the
whistle, break in; if not, I'm safe, and the first orders to seize the
captain in his room stand good."

So saying, Favart strode after his guide. The door of a large, but
ill-favoured-looking house stood ajar--they entered-passed unmolested
through a court-yard--descended some stairs; the guide unlocked the door
of a cellar, and took a dark lantern from under his cloak. As he drew up
the slide, the dim light gleamed on barrels and wine-casks, which
appeared to fill up the space. Rolling aside one of these, the guide
lifted a trap-door, and lowered his lantern. "Enter," said he; and the
two men disappeared.

        .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

The coiners were at their work. A man, seated on a stool before a desk,
was entering accounts in a large book. That man was William Gawtrey.
While, with the rapid precision of honest mechanics, the machinery of the
Dark Trade went on in its several departments. Apart--alone--at the foot
of a long table, sat Philip Morton. The truth had exceeded his darkest
suspicions. He had consented to take the oath not to divulge what was to
be given to his survey; and when, led into that vault, the bandage was
taken from his eyes, it was some minutes before he could fully comprehend
the desperate and criminal occupations of the wild forms amidst which
towered the burly stature of his benefactor. As the truth slowly grew
upon him, he shrank from the side of Gawtrey; but, deep compassion for
his friend's degradation swallowing up the horror of the trade, he flung
himself on one of the rude seats, and felt that the bond between them was
indeed broken, and that the next morning he should be again alone in the
world. Still, as the obscene jests, the fearful oaths, that from time to
time rang through the vault, came on his ear, he cast his haughty eye in
such disdain over the groups, that Gawtrey, observing him, trembled for
his safety; and nothing but Philip's sense of his own impotence, and the
brave, not timorous, desire not to perish by such hands, kept silent the
fiery denunciations of a nature still proud and honest, that quivered on
his lips. All present were armed with pistols and cutlasses except
Morton, who suffered the weapons presented to him to lie unheeded on the
table.

"Courage, mes amis!" said Gawtrey, closing his book,--"Courage!--a few
months more, and we shall have made enough to retire upon, and enjoy
ourselves for the rest of the days. Where is Birnie?"

"Did he not tell you?" said one of the artisans, looking up. "He has
found out the cleverest hand in France, the very fellow who helped
Bouchard in all his five-franc pieces. He has promised to bring him
to-night."

"Ay, I remember," returned Gawtrey, "he told me this morning,--he is a
famous decoy!"

"I think so, indeed!" quoth a coiner; "for he caught you, the best head
to our hands that ever les industriels were blessed with--sacre fichtre!"

"Flatterer!" said Gawtrey, coming from the desk to the table, and pouring
out wine from one of the bottles into a huge flagon--"To your healths!"

Here the door slided back, and Birnie glided in.

"Where is your booty, mon brave?" said Gawtrey. "We only coin money; you
coin men, stamp with your own seal, and send them current to the devil!"

The coiners, who liked Birnie's ability (for the ci-devant engraver was
of admirable skill in their craft), but who hated his joyless manners,
laughed at this taunt, which Birnie did not seem to heed, except by a
malignant gleam of his dead eye.

"If you mean the celebrated coiner, Jacques Giraumont, he waits without.
You know our rules. I cannot admit him without leave."

"Bon! we give it,--eh, messieurs?" said Gawtrey. "Ay-ay," cried several
voices. "He knows the oath, and will hear the penalty."

"Yes, he knows the oath," replied Birnie, and glided back.

In a moment more he returned with a small man in a mechanic's blouse. The
new comer wore the republican beard and moustache--of a sandy grey--his
hair was the same colour; and a black patch over one eye increased the
ill-favoured appearance of his features.

"Diable! Monsieur Giraumont! but you are more like Vulcan than Adonis!"
said Gawtrey.

"I don't know anything about Vulcan, but I know how to make five-franc
pieces," said Monsieur Giraumont, doggedly.

"Are you poor?"

"As a church mouse! The only thing belonging to a church, since the
Bourbons came back, that is poor!"

At this sally, the coiners, who had gathered round the table, uttered the
shout with which, in all circumstances, Frenchmen receive a bon mot.

"Humph!" said Gawtrey. "Who responds with his own life for your
fidelity?"

"I," said Birnie.

"Administer the oath to him."

Suddenly four men advanced, seized the visitor, and bore him from the
vault into another one within. After a few moments they returned.

"He has taken the oath and heard the penalty."

"Death to yourself, your wife, your son, and your grandson, if you betray
us!"

"I have neither son nor grandson; as for my wife, Monsieur le Capitaine,
you offer a bribe instead of a threat when you talk of her death."

"Sacre! but you will be an addition to our circle, mon brave!" said
Gawtrey, laughing; while again the grim circle shouted applause.

"But I suppose you care for your own life."

"Otherwise I should have preferred starving to coming here," answered the
laconic neophyte.

"I have done with you. Your health!"

On this the coiners gathered round Monsieur Giraumont, shook him by the
hand, and commenced many questions with a view to ascertain his skill.

"Show me your coinage first; I see you use both the die and the furnace.
Hem! this piece is not bad--you have struck it from an iron
die?--right--it makes the impression sharper than plaster of Paris. But
you take the poorest and the most dangerous part of the trade in taking
the home market. I can put you in a way to make ten times as much--and
with safety. Look at this!"--and Monsieur Giraumont took a forged Spanish
dollar from his pocket, so skilfully manufactured that the connoisseurs
were lost in admiration--"you may pass thousands of these all over
Europe, except France, and who is ever to detect you? But it will require
better machinery than you have here."

Thus conversing, Monsieur Giraumont did not perceive that Mr. Gawtrey had
been examining him very curiously and minutely. But Birnie had noted
their chief's attention, and once attempted to join his new ally, when
Gawtrey laid his hand on his shoulder, and stopped him.

"Do not speak to your friend till I bid you, or--" he stopped short, and
touched his pistols.

Birnie grew a shade more pale, but replied with his usual sneer:

"Suspicious!--well, so much the better!" and seating himself carelessly
at the table, lighted his pipe.

"And now, Monsieur Giraumont," said Gawtrey, as he took the head of the
table, "come to my right hand. A half-holiday in your honour. Clear these
infernal instruments; and more wine, mes amis!"

The party arranged themselves at the table. Among the desperate there is
almost invariably a tendency to mirth. A solitary ruffian, indeed, is
moody, but a gang of ruffians are jovial. The coiners talked and laughed
loud. Mr. Birnie, from his dogged silence, seemed apart from the rest,
though in the centre. For in a noisy circle a silent tongue builds a wall
round its owner. But that respectable personage kept his furtive watch
upon Giraumont and Gawtrey, who appeared talking together, very amicably.
The younger novice of that night, equally silent, seated towards the
bottom of the table, was not less watchful than Birnie. An uneasy,
undefinable foreboding had come over him since the entrance of Monsieur
Giraumont; this had been increased by the manner of Mr. Gawtrey. His
faculty of observation, which was very acute, had detected something
false in the chief's blandness to their guest--something dangerous in the
glittering eye that Gawtrey ever, as he spoke to Giraumont, bent on that
person's lips as he listened to his reply. For, whenever William Gawtrey
suspected a man, he watched not his eyes, but his lips.

Waked from his scornful reverie, a strange spell chained Morton's
attention to the chief and the guest, and he bent forward, with parted
mouth and straining ear, to catch their conversation.

"It seems to me a little strange," said Mr. Gawtrey, raising his voice so
as to be heard by the party, "that a coiner so dexterous as Monsieur
Giraumont should not be known to any of us except our friend Birnie."

"Not at all," replied Giraumont; "I worked only with Bouchard and
two others since sent to the galleys. We were but a small
fraternity--everything has its commencement."

"C'est juste: buvez, donc, cher ami!"

The wine circulated. Gawtrey began again:

"You have had a bad accident, seemingly, Monsieur Giraumont. How did you
lose your eye?"

"In a scuffle with the gens d' armes the night Bouchard was taken and I
escaped. Such misfortunes are on the cards."

"C'est juste: buvez, donc, Monsieur Giraumont!"

Again there was a pause, and again Gawtrey's deep voice was heard.

"You wear a wig, I think, Monsieur Giraumont? To judge by your eyelashes
your own hair has been a handsomer colour."

"We seek disguise, not beauty, my host; and the police have sharp eyes."

"C'est juste: buvez, donc-vieux Renard! When did we two meet last?"

"Never, that I know of."

"Ce n'est pas vrai! buvez, donc, MONSIEUR FAVART!"

At the sound of that name the company started in dismay and confusion,
and the police officer, forgetting himself for the moment, sprang from
his seat, and put his right hand into his blouse.

"Ho, there!--treason!" cried Gawtrey, in a voice of thunder; and he
caught the unhappy man by the throat. It was the work of a moment.
Morton, where he sat, beheld a struggle--he heard a death-cry. He saw the
huge form of the master-coiner rising above all the rest, as cutlasses
gleamed and eyes sparkled round. He saw the quivering and powerless frame
of the unhappy guest raised aloft in those mighty arms, and presently it
was hurled along the table-bottles crashing--the board shaking beneath
its weight--and lay before the very eyes of Morton, a distorted and
lifeless mass. At the same instant Gawtrey sprang upon the table, his
black frown singling out from the group the ashen, cadaverous face of the
shrinking traitor. Birnie had darted from the table--he was half-way
towards the sliding door--his face, turned over his shoulder, met the
eyes of the chief.

"Devil!" shouted Gawtrey, in his terrible voice, which the echoes of the
vault gave back from side to side. "Did I not give thee up my soul that
thou mightest not compass my death? Hark ye! thus die my slavery and all
our secrets!" The explosion of his pistol half swallowed up the last
word, and with a single groan the traitor fell on the floor, pierced
through the brain--then there was a dead and grim hush as the smoke
rolled slowly along the roof of the dreary vault.

Morton sank back on his seat, and covered his face with his hands. The
last seal on the fate of THE MAN OF CRIME was set; the last wave in the
terrible and mysterious tide of his destiny had dashed on his soul to the
shore whence there is no return. Vain, now and henceforth, the humour,
the sentiment, the kindly impulse, the social instincts which had
invested that stalwart shape with dangerous fascination, which had
implied the hope of ultimate repentance, of redemption even in this
world. The HOUR and the CIRCUMSTANCE had seized their prey; and the
self-defence, which a lawless career rendered a necessity, left the
eternal die of blood upon his doom!

"Friends, I have saved you," said Gawtrey, slowly gazing on the corpse of
his second victim, while he turned the pistol to his belt. "I have not
quailed before this man's eye" (and he spurned the clay of the officer as
he spoke with a revengeful scorn) "without treasuring up its aspect in my
heart of hearts. I knew him when he entered--knew him through his
disguise--yet, faith, it was a clever one! Turn up his face and gaze on
him now; he will never terrify us again, unless there be truth in
ghosts!"

Murmuring and tremulous the coiners scrambled on the table and examined
the dead man. From this task Gawtrey interrupted them, for his quick eye
detected, with the pistols under the policeman's blouse, a whistle of
metal of curious construction, and he conjectured at once that danger was
at hand.

"I have saved you, I say, but only for the hour. This deed cannot sleep.
See, he had help within call! The police knew where to look for their
comrade--we are dispersed. Each for himself. Quick, divide the spoils!
Sauve qui peat!"

Then Morton heard where he sat, his hands still clasped before his face,
a confused hubbub of voices, the jingle of money, the scrambling of feet,
the creaking of doors. All was silent!

A strong grasp drew his hands from his eyes.

"Your first scene of life against life," said Gawtrey's voice, which
seemed fearfully changed to the ear that beard it. "Bah! what would you
think of a battle? Come to our eyrie: the carcasses are gone."

Morton looked fearfully round the vault. He and Gawtrey were alone. His
eyes sought the places where the dead had lain--they were removed--no
vestige of the deeds, not even a drop of blood.

"Come, take up your cutlass, come!" repeated the voice of the chief, as
with his dim lantern--now the sole light of the vault--he stood in the
shadow of the doorway.

Morton rose, took up the weapon mechanically, and followed that terrible
guide, mute and unconscious, as a Soul follows a Dream through the House
of Sleep!




CHAPTER X.

        "Sleep no more!"--Macbeth

After winding through gloomy and labyrinthine passages, which conducted
to a different range of cellars from those entered by the unfortunate
Favart, Gawtrey emerged at the foot of a flight of stairs, which, dark,
narrow, and in many places broken, had been probably appropriated to
servants of the house in its days of palmier glory. By these steps the
pair regained their attic. Gawtrey placed the lantern on the table and
seated himself in silence. Morton, who had recovered his self-possession
and formed his resolution, gazed on him for some moments, equally
taciturn. At length he spoke:

"Gawtrey!"

"I bade you not call me by that name," said the coiner; for we need
scarcely say that in his new trade he had assumed a new appellation.

"It is the least guilty one by which I have known you," returned Morton,
firmly. "It is for the last time I call you by it! I demanded to see by
what means one to whom I had entrusted my fate supported himself. I have
seen," continued the young man, still firmly, but with a livid cheek and
lip, "and the tie between us is rent for ever. Interrupt me not! it is
not for me to blame you. I have eaten of your bread and drunk of your
cup. Confiding in you too blindly, and believing that you were at least
free from those dark and terrible crimes for which there is no
expiation--at least in this life--my conscience seared by distress, my
very soul made dormant by despair, I surrendered myself to one leading a
career equivocal, suspicious, dishonourable perhaps, but still not, as I
believed, of atrocity and bloodshed. I wake at the brink of the abyss--my
mother's hand beckons to me from the grave; I think I hear her voice
while I address you--I recede while it is yet time--we part, and for
ever!"

Gawtrey, whose stormy passion was still deep upon his soul, had listened
hitherto in sullen and dogged silence, with a gloomy frown on his knitted
brow; he now rose with an oath--

"Part! that I may let loose on the world a new traitor! Part! when you
have seen me fresh from an act that, once whispered, gives me to the
guillotine! Part--never! at least alive!"

"I have said it," said Morton, folding his arms calmly; "I say it to
your face, though I might part from you in secret. Frown not on me, man
of blood! I am fearless as yourself! In another minute I am gone."

"Ah! is it so?" said Gawtrey; and glancing round the room, which
contained two doors, the one concealed by the draperies of a bed,
communicating with the stairs by which they had entered, the other with
the landing of the principal and common flight: he turned to the former,
within his reach, which he locked, and put the key into his pocket, and
then, throwing across the latter a heavy swing bar, which fell into its
socket with a harsh noise,--before the threshold he placed his vast bulk,
and burst into his loud, fierce laugh: "Ho! ho! Slave and fool, once
mine, you were mine body and soul for ever!"

"Tempter, I defy you! stand back!" And, firm and dauntless, Morton laid
his hand on the giant's vest.

Gawtrey seemed more astonished than enraged. He looked hard at his daring
associate, on whose lip the down was yet scarcely dark.

"Boy," said he, "off! do not rouse the devil in me again! I could crush
you with a hug."

"My soul supports my body, and I am armed," said Morton, laying hand on
his cutlass. "But you dare not harm me, nor I you; bloodstained as you
are, you gave me shelter and bread; but accuse me not that I will save my
soul while it is yet time!--Shall my mother have blessed me in vain upon
her death-bed?"

Gawtrey drew back, and Morton, by a sudden impulse, grasped his hand.

"Oh! hear me-hear me!" he cried, with great emotion. "Abandon this
horrible career; you have been decoyed and betrayed to it by one who can
deceive or terrify you no more! Abandon it, and I will never desert you.
For her sake--for your Fanny's sake--pause, like me, before the gulf
swallow us. Let us fly!--far to the New World--to any land where our
thews and sinews, our stout hands and hearts, can find an honest mart.
Men, desperate as we are, have yet risen by honest means. Take her, your
orphan, with us. We will work for her, both of us. Gawtrey! hear me. It
is not my voice that speaks to you--it is your good angel's!"

Gawtrey fell back against the wall, and his chest heaved.

"Morton," he said, with choked and tremulous accent, "go now; leave me to
my fate! I have sinned against you--shamefully sinned. It seemed to me so
sweet to have a friend; in your youth and character of mind there was so
much about which the tough strings of my heart wound themselves, that I
could not bear to lose you--to suffer you to know me for what I was. I
blinded--I deceived you as to my past deeds; that was base in me: but I
swore to my own heart to keep you unexposed to every danger, and free
from every vice that darkened my own path. I kept that oath till this
night, when, seeing that you began to recoil from me, and dreading that
you should desert me, I thought to bind you to me for ever by implicating
you in this fellowship of crime. I am punished, and justly. Go, I
repeat--leave me to the fate that strides nearer and nearer to me day by
day. You are a boy still--I am no longer young. Habit is a second nature.
Still--still I could repent--I could begin life again. But repose!--to
look back--to remember--to be haunted night and day with deeds that shall
meet me bodily and face to face on the last day--"

"Add not to the spectres! Come--fly this night--this hour!"

Gawtrey paused, irresolute and wavering, when at that moment he heard
steps on the stairs below. He started--as starts the boar caught in his
lair--and listened, pale and breathless.

"Hush!--they are on us!--they come!" as he whispered, the key from
without turned in the wards--the door shook. "Soft! the bar preserves us
both--this way." And the coiner crept to the door of the private stairs.
He unlocked and opened it cautiously. A man sprang through the aperture:

"Yield!--you are my prisoner!"

"Never!" cried Gawtrey, hurling back the intruder, and clapping to the
door, though other and stout men were pressing against it with all their
power.

"Ho! ho! Who shall open the tiger's cage?"

At both doors now were heard the sound of voices. "Open in the king's
name, or expect no mercy!"

"Hist!" said Gawtrey. "One way yet--the window--the rope."

Morton opened the casement--Gawtrey uncoiled the rope. The dawn was
breaking; it was light in the streets, but all seemed quiet without. The
doors reeled and shook beneath the pressure of the pursuers. Gawtrey
flung the rope across the street to the opposite parapet; after two or
three efforts, the grappling-hook caught firm hold--the perilous path was
made.

"On!--quick!--loiter not!" whispered Gawtrey; "you are active--it seems
more dangerous than it is--cling with both hands-shut your eyes. When on
the other side--you see the window of Birnie's room,--enter it--descend
the stairs--let yourself out, and you are safe."

"Go first," said Morton, in the same tone: "I will not leave you now: you
will be longer getting across than I shall. I will keep guard till you
are over."

"Hark! hark!--are you mad? You keep guard! what is your strength to mine?
Twenty men shall not move that door, while my weight is against it.
Quick, or you destroy us both! Besides, you will hold the rope for me, it
may not be strong enough for my bulk in itself. Stay!--stay one moment.
If you escape, and I fall--Fanny--my father, he will take care of
her,--you remember--thanks! Forgive me all! Go; that's right!"

With a firm impulse, Morton threw himself on the dreadful bridge; it
swung and crackled at his weight. Shifting his grasp rapidly--holding his
breath--with set teeth-with closed eyes--he moved on--he gained the
parapet--he stood safe on the opposite side. And now, straining his eyes
across, he saw through the open casement into the chamber he had just
quitted. Gawtrey was still standing against the door to the principal
staircase, for that of the two was the weaker and the more assailed.
Presently the explosion of a fire-arm was heard; they had shot through
the panel. Gawtrey seemed wounded, for he staggered forward, and uttered
a fierce cry; a moment more, and he gained the window--he seized the
rope--he hung over the tremendous depth! Morton knelt by the parapet,
holding the grappling-hook in its place, with convulsive grasp, and
fixing his eyes, bloodshot with fear and suspense, on the huge bulk that
clung for life to that slender cord!

"Le voiles! Le voiles!" cried a voice from the opposite side. Morton
raised his gaze from Gawtrey; the casement was darkened by the forms of
his pursuers--they had burst into the room--an officer sprang upon the
parapet, and Gawtrey, now aware of his danger, opened his eyes, and as he
moved on, glared upon the foe. The policeman deliberately raised his
pistol--Gawtrey arrested himself--from a wound in his side the blood
trickled slowly and darkly down, drop by drop, upon the stones below;
even the officers of law shuddered as they eyed him--his hair
bristling--his cheek white--his lips drawn convulsively from his teeth,
and his eyes glaring from beneath the frown of agony and menace in which
yet spoke the indomitable power and fierceness of the man. His look, so
fixed--so intense--so stern, awed the policeman; his hand trembled as he
fired, and the ball struck the parapet an inch below the spot where
Morton knelt. An indistinct, wild, gurgling sound-half-laugh, half-yell
of scorn and glee, broke from Gawtrey's lips. He swung himself
on--near--near--nearer--a yard from the parapet.

"You are saved!" cried Morton; when at the moment a volley burst from the
fatal casement--the smoke rolled over both the fugitives--a groan, or
rather howl, of rage, and despair, and agony, appalled even the hardest
on whose ear it came. Morton sprang to his feet and looked below. He saw
on the rugged stones far down, a dark, formless, motionless mass--the
strong man of passion and levity--the giant who had played with life and
soul, as an infant with the baubles that it prizes and breaks--was what
the Caesar and the leper alike are, when the clay is without God's
breath--what glory, genius, power, and beauty, would be for ever and for
ever, if there were no God!

"There is another!" cried the voice of one of the pursuers. "Fire!"

"Poor Gawtrey!" muttered Philip. "I will fulfil your last wish;" and
scarcely conscious of the bullet that whistled by him, he disappeared
behind the parapet.




CHAPTER XI.

             "Gently moved
     By the soft wind of whispering silks."--DECKER.

The reader may remember that while Monsieur Favart and Mr. Birnie were
holding commune in the lane, the sounds of festivity were heard from a
house in the adjoining street. To that house we are now summoned.

At Paris, the gaieties of balls, or soirees, are, I believe, very rare in
that period of the year in which they are most frequent in London. The
entertainment now given was in honour of a christening; the lady who gave
it, a relation of the new-born.

Madame de Merville was a young widow; even before her marriage she had
been distinguished in literature; she had written poems of more than
common excellence; and being handsome, of good family, and large fortune,
her talents made her an object of more interest than they might otherwise
have done. Her poetry showed great sensibility and tenderness. If poetry
be any index to the heart, you would have thought her one to love truly
and deeply. Nevertheless, since she married--as girls in France do--not
to please herself, but her parents, she made a mariage de convenance.
Monsieur de Merville was a sober, sensible man, past middle age. Not
being fond of poetry, and by no means coveting a professional author for
his wife, he had during their union, which lasted four years, discouraged
his wife's liaison with Apollo. But her mind, active and ardent, did not
the less prey upon itself. At the age of four-and-twenty she became a
widow, with an income large even in England for a single woman, and at
Paris constituting no ordinary fortune. Madame de Merville, however,
though a person of elegant taste, was neither ostentatious nor selfish;
she had no children, and she lived quietly in apartments, handsome,
indeed, but not more than adequate to the small establishment
which--where, as on the Continent, the costly convenience of an entire
house is not usually incurred--sufficed for her retinue. She devoted at
least half her income, which was entirely at her own disposal, partly to
the aid of her own relations, who were not rich, and partly to the
encouragement of the literature she cultivated. Although she shrank from
the ordeal of publication, her poems and sketches of romance were read to
her own friends, and possessed an eloquence seldom accompanied with so
much modesty. Thus, her reputation, though not blown about the winds, was
high in her own circle, and her position in fashion and in fortune made
her looked up to by her relations as the head of her family; they
regarded her as femme superieure, and her advice with them was equivalent
to a command. Eugenie de Merville was a strange mixture of qualities at
once feminine and masculine. On the one hand, she had a strong will,
independent views, some contempt for the world, and followed her own
inclinations without servility to the opinion of others; on the other
hand, she was susceptible, romantic, of a sweet, affectionate, kind
disposition. Her visit to M. Love, however indiscreet, was not less in
accordance with her character than her charity to the mechanic's wife;
masculine and careless where an eccentric thing was to be done--curiosity
satisfied, or some object in female diplomacy achieved--womanly,
delicate, and gentle, the instant her benevolence was appealed to or her
heart touched. She had now been three years a widow, and was consequently
at the age of twenty-seven. Despite the tenderness of her poetry and her
character, her reputation was unblemished. She had never been in love.
People who are much occupied do not fall in love easily; besides, Madame
de Merville was refining, exacting, and wished to find heroes where she
only met handsome dandies or ugly authors. Moreover, Eugenie was both a
vain and a proud person--vain of her celebrity and proud of her birth.
She was one whose goodness of heart made her always active in promoting
the happiness of others. She was not only generous and charitable, but
willing to serve people by good offices as well as money. Everybody loved
her. The new-born infant, to whose addition to the Christian community
the fete of this night was dedicated, was the pledge of a union which
Madame de Merville had managed to effect between two young persons, first
cousins to each other, and related to herself. There had been scruples of
parents to remove--money matters to adjust--Eugenie had smoothed all. The
husband and wife, still lovers, looked up to her as the author, under
Heaven, of their happiness.

The gala of that night had been, therefore, of a nature more than usually
pleasurable, and the mirth did not sound hollow, but wrung from the
heart. Yet, as Eugenie from time to time contemplated the young people,
whose eyes ever sought each other--so fair, so tender, and so joyous as
they seemed--a melancholy shadow darkened her brow, and she sighed
involuntarily. Once the young wife, Madame d'Anville, approaching her
timidly, said:

"Ah! my sweet cousin, when shall we see you as happy as ourselves? There
is such happiness," she added, innocently, and with a blush, "in being a
mother!--that little life all one's own--it is something to think of
every hour!"

"Perhaps," said Eugenie, smiling, and seeking to turn the conversation
from a subject that touched too nearly upon feelings and thoughts her
pride did not wish to reveal--"perhaps it is you, then, who have made our
cousin, poor Monsieur de Vaudemont, so determined to marry? Pray, be more
cautious with him. How difficult I have found it to prevent his bringing
into our family some one to make us all ridiculous!"

"True," said Madame d'Anville, laughing. "But then, the Vicomte is so
poor, and in debt. He would fall in love, not with the demoiselle, but
the dower. A propos of that, how cleverly you took advantage of his
boastful confession to break off his liaisons with that bureau de
mariage."

"Yes; I congratulate myself on that manoeuvre. Unpleasant as it was to go
to such a place (for, of course, I could not send for Monsieur Love
here), it would have been still more unpleasant to have received such a
Madame de Vaudemont as our cousin would have presented to us. Only
think--he was the rival of an epicier! I heard that there was some
curious denouement to the farce of that establishment; but I could never
get from Vaudemont the particulars. He was ashamed of them, I fancy."

"What droll professions there are in Paris!" said Madame d'Anville. "As
if people could not marry without going to an office for a spouse as we
go for a servant! And so the establishment is broken up? And you never
again saw that dark, wild-looking boy who so struck your fancy that you
have taken him as the original for the Murillo sketch of the youth in
that charming tale you read to us the other evening? Ah! cousin, I think
you were a little taken with him. The bureau de mariage had its
allurements for you as well as for our poor cousin!" The young mother
said this laughingly and carelessly.

"Pooh!" returned Madame de Merville, laughing also; but a slight blush
broke over her natural paleness. "But a propos of the Vicomte. You know
how cruelly he has behaved to that poor boy of his by his English
wife--never seen him since he was an infant--kept him at some school in
England; and all because his vanity does not like the world to know that
he has a son of nineteen! Well, I have induced him to recall this poor
youth."

"Indeed! and how?"

"Why," said Eugenie, with a smile, "he wanted a loan, poor man, and I
could therefore impose conditions by way of interest. But I also managed
to conciliate him to the proposition, by representing that, if the young
man were good-looking, he might, himself, with our connections, &c., form
an advantageous marriage; and that in such a case, if the father treated
him now justly and kindly, he would naturally partake with the father
whatever benefits the marriage might confer."

"Ah! you are an excellent diplomatist, Eugenie; and you turn people's
heads by always acting from your heart. Hush! here comes the Vicomte!"

"A delightful ball," said Monsieur de Vaudemont, approaching the hostess.
"Pray, has that young lady yonder, in the pink dress, any fortune? She is
pretty--eh? You observe she is looking at me--I mean at us!"

"My dear cousin, what a compliment you pay to marriage! You have had two
wives, and you are ever on the qui vive for a third!"

"What would you have me do?--we cannot resist the overtures of your
bewitching sex. Hum--what fortune has she?"

"Not a sou; besides, she is engaged."

"Oh! now I look at her, she is not pretty--not at all. I made a mistake.
I did not mean her; I meant the young lady in blue."

"Worse and worse--she is married already. Shall I present you?"

"Ah, Monsieur de Vaudemont," said Madame d'Anville; "have you found out a
new bureau de mariage?"

The Vicomte pretended not to hear that question. But, turning to Eugenie,
took her aside, and said, with an air in which he endeavoured to throw a
great deal of sorrow, "You know, my dear cousin, that, to oblige you, I
consented to send for my son, though, as I always said, it is very
unpleasant for a man like me, in the prime of life, to hawk about a great
boy of nineteen or twenty. People soon say, 'Old Vaudemont and younq
Vaudemont.' However, a father's feelings are never appealed to in vain."
(Here the Vicomte put his handkerchief to his eyes, and after a pause,
continued,)--"I sent for him--I even went to your old bonne, Madame
Dufour, to make a bargain for her lodgings, and this day--guess my
grief--I received a letter sealed with black. My son is dead!--a sudden
fever--it is shocking!"

"Horrible! dead!--your own son, whom you hardly ever saw--never since he
was an Infant!"

"Yes, that softens the blow very much. And now you see I must marry. If
the boy had been good-looking, and like me, and so forth, why, as you
observed, he might have made a good match, and allowed me a certain sum,
or we could have all lived together."

"And your son is dead, and you come to a ball!"

"Je suis philosophe," said the Vicomte, shrugging his shoulders. "And, as
you say, I never saw him. It saves me seven hundred francs a-year. Don't
say a word to any one--I sha'n't give out that he is dead, poor fellow!
Pray be discreet: you see there are some ill-natured people who might
think it odd I do not shut myself up. I can wait till Paris is quite
empty. It would be a pity to lose any opportunity at present, for now,
you see, I must marry!" And the philosophe sauntered away.




CHAPTER XII.

          GUIOMAR.
     "Those devotions I am to pay
     Are written in my heart, not in this book."

         Enter RUTILIO.
     "I am pursued--all the ports are stopped too,
     Not any hope to escape--behind, before me,
     On either side, I am beset."
     BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER, The Custom of the Country

The party were just gone--it was already the peep of day--the wheels of
the last carriage had died in the distance.

Madame de Merville had dismissed her woman, and was seated in her own
room, leaning her head musingly on her hand.

Beside her was the table that held her MSS. and a few books, amidst which
were scattered vases of flowers. On a pedestal beneath the window was
placed a marble bust of Dante. Through the open door were seen in
perspective two rooms just deserted by her guests; the lights still
burned in the chandeliers and girandoles, contending with the daylight
that came through the half-closed curtains. The person of the inmate was
in harmony with the apartment. It was characterised by a certain grace
which, for want of a better epithet, writers are prone to call classical
or antique. Her complexion, seeming paler than usual by that light, was
yet soft and delicate--the features well cut, but small and womanly.
About the face there was that rarest of all charms, the combination of
intellect with sweetness; the eyes, of a dark blue, were thoughtful,
perhaps melancholy, in their expression; but the long dark lashes, and
the shape of the eyes, themselves more long than full, gave to their
intelligence a softness approaching to languor, increased, perhaps, by
that slight shadow round and below the orbs which is common with those
who have tasked too much either the mind or the heart. The contour of the
face, without being sharp or angular, had yet lost a little of the
roundness of earlier youth; and the hand on which she leaned was,
perhaps, even too white, too delicate, for the beauty which belongs to
health; but the throat and bust were of exquisite symmetry.

"I am not happy," murmured Eugenie to herself; "yet I scarce know why. Is
it really, as we women of romance have said till the saying is worn
threadbare, that the destiny of women is not fame but love. Strange,
then, that while I have so often pictured what love should be, I have
never felt it. And now,--and now," she continued, half rising, and with a
natural pang--"now I am no longer in my first youth. If I loved, should I
be loved again? How happy the young pair seemed--they are never alone!"

At this moment, at a distance, was heard the report of fire-arms--again!
Eugenie started, and called to her servant, who, with one of the waiters
hired for the night, was engaged in removing, and nibbling as he removed,
the re mains of the feast. "What is that, at this hour?--open the window
and look out!"

"I can see nothing, madame."

"Again--that is the third time. Go into the street and look--some one
must be in danger."

The servant and the waiter, both curious, and not willing to part
company, ran down the stairs, and thence into the street.

Meanwhile, Morton, after vainly attempting Birnie's window, which the
traitor had previously locked and barred against the escape of his
intended victim, crept rapidly along the roof, screened by the parapet
not only from the shot but the sight of the foe. But just as he gained
the point at which the lane made an angle with the broad street it
adjoined, he cast his eyes over the parapet, and perceived that one of
the officers had ventured himself to the fearful bridge; he was
pursued--detection and capture seemed inevitable. He paused, and breathed
hard. He, once the heir to such fortunes, the darling of such
affections!--he, the hunted accomplice of a gang of miscreants! That was
the thought that paralysed--the disgrace, not the danger. But he was in
advance of the pursuer--he hastened on--he turned the angle--he heard a
shout behind from the opposite side--the officer had passed the bridge:
"it is but one man as yet," thought he, and his nostrils dilated and his
hands clenched as he glided on, glancing at each casement as he passed.

Now as youth and vigour thus struggled against Law for life, near at hand
Death was busy with toil and disease. In a miserable grabat, or garret, a
mechanic, yet young, and stricken by a lingering malady contracted by the
labour of his occupation, was slowly passing from that world which had
frowned on his cradle, and relaxed not the gloom of its aspect to comfort
his bed of Death. Now this man had married for love, and his wife had
loved him; and it was the cares of that early marriage which had consumed
him to the bone. But extreme want, if long continued, eats up love when
it has nothing else to eat. And when people are very long dying, the
people they fret and trouble begin to think of that too often
hypocritical prettiness of phrase called "a happy release." So the
worn-out and half-famished wife did not care three straws for the dying
husband, whom a year or two ago she had vowed to love and cherish in
sickness and in health. But still she seemed to care, for she moaned, and
pined, and wept, as the man's breath grew fainter and fainter.

"Ah, Jean!" said she, sobbing, "what will become of me, a poor lone
widow, with nobody to work for my bread?" And with that thought she took
on worse than before.

"I am stifling," said the dying man, rolling round his ghastly eyes. "How
hot it is! Open the window; I should like to see the light-daylight once
again."

"Mon Dieu! what whims he has, poor man!" muttered the woman, without
stirring.

The poor wretch put out his skeleton hand and clutched his wife's arm.

"I sha'n't trouble you long, Marie! Air--air!"

"Jean, you will make yourself worse--besides, I shall catch my death of
cold. I have scarce a rag on, but I will just open the door."

"Pardon me," groaned the sufferer; "leave me, then." Poor fellow! perhaps
at that moment the thought of unkindness was sharper than the sharp cough
which brought blood at every paroxysm. He did not like her so near him,
but he did not blame her. Again, I say,--poor fellow! The woman opened
the door, went to the other side of the room, and sat down on an old box
and began darning an old neck-handkerchief. The silence was soon broken
by the moans of the fast-dying man, and again he muttered, as he tossed
to and fro, with baked white lips:

"Je m'etoufee!--Air!"

There was no resisting that prayer, it seemed so like the last. The wife
laid down the needle, put the handkerchief round her throat, and opened
the window.

"Do you feel easier now?"

"Bless you, Marie--yes; that's good--good. It puts me in mind of old
days, that breath of air, before we came to Paris. I wish I could work
for you now, Marie."

"Jean! my poor Jean!" said the woman, and the words and the voice took
back her hardening heart to the fresh fields and tender thoughts of the
past time. And she walked up to the bed, and he leaned his temples, damp
with livid dews, upon her breast.

"I have been a sad burden to you, Marie; we should not have married so
soon; but I thought I was stronger. Don't cry; we have no little ones,
thank God. It will be much better for you when I am gone."

And so, word after word gasped out--he stopped suddenly, and seemed to
fall asleep.

The wife then attempted gently to lay him once more on his pillow--the
head fell back heavily--the jaw had dropped--the teeth were set--the eyes
were open and like the stone--the truth broke on her!

"Jean--Jean! My God, he is dead! and I was unkind to him at the last!"
With these words she fell upon the corpse, happily herself insensible.

Just at that moment a human face peered in at the window. Through that
aperture, after a moment's pause, a young man leaped lightly into the
room. He looked round with a hurried glance, but scarcely noticed the
forms stretched on the pallet. It was enough for him that they seemed to
sleep, and saw him not. He stole across the room, the door of which Marie
had left open, and descended the stairs. He had almost gained the
courtyard into which the stairs had conducted, when he heard voices below
by the porter's lodge.

"The police have discovered a gang of coiners!"

"Coiners!"

"Yes, one has been shot dead! I have seen his body in the kennel; another
has fled along the roofs--a desperate fellow! We were to watch for him.
Let us go up-stairs and get on the roof and look out."

By the hum of approval that followed this proposition, Morton judged
rightly that it had been addressed to several persons whom curiosity and
the explosion of the pistols had drawn from their beds, and who were
grouped round the porter's lodge. What was to be done?--to advance was
impossible: and was there yet time to retreat?--it was at least the only
course left him; he sprang back up the stairs; he had just gained the
first flight when he heard steps descending; then, suddenly, it flashed
across him that he had left open the window above--that, doubtless, by
that imprudent oversight the officer in pursuit had detected a clue to
the path he had taken. What was to be done?--die as Gawtrey had
done!--death rather than the galleys. As he thus resolved, he saw to the
right the open door of an apartment in which lights still glimmered in
their sockets. It seemed deserted--he entered boldly and at once, closing
the door after him. Wines and viands still left on the table; gilded
mirrors, reflecting the stern face of the solitary intruder; here and
there an artificial flower, a knot of riband on the floor, all betokening
the gaieties and graces of luxurious life--the dance, the revel, the
feast--all this in one apartment!--above, in the same house, the
pallet--the corpse--the widow--famine and woe! Such is a great city!
such, above all, is Paris! where, under the same roof, are gathered such
antagonist varieties of the social state! Nothing strange in this; it is
strange and sad that so little do people thus neighbours know of each
other, that the owner of those rooms had a heart soft to every distress,
but she did not know the distress so close at hand. The music that had
charmed her guests had mounted gaily to the vexed ears of agony and
hunger. Morton passed the first room--a second--he came to a third, and
Eugenie de Merville, looking up at that instant, saw before her an
apparition that might well have alarmed the boldest. His head was
uncovered--his dark hair shadowed in wild and disorderly profusion the
pale face and features, beautiful indeed, but at that moment of the
beauty which an artist would impart to a young gladiator--stamped with
defiance, menace, and despair. The disordered garb--the fierce
aspect--the dark eyes, that literally shone through the shadows of the
room-all conspired to increase the terror of so abrupt a presence.

"What are you?--What do you seek here?" said she, falteringly, placing
her hand on the bell as she spoke. Upon that soft hand Morton laid his
own.

"I seek my life! I am pursued! I am at your mercy! I am innocent! Can you
save me?"

As he spoke, the door of the outer room beyond was heard to open, and
steps and voices were at hand.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, recoiling as he recognised her face. "And is it to
you that I have fled?"

Eugenie also recognised the stranger; and there was something in their
relative positions--the suppliant, the protectress--that excited both her
imagination and her pity. A slight colour mantled to her cheeks--her look
was gentle and compassionate.

"Poor boy! so young!" she said. "Hush!"

She withdrew her hand from his, retired a few steps, lifted a curtain
drawn across a recess--and pointing to an alcove that contained one of
those sofa-beds common in French houses, added in a whisper,--

"Enter--you are saved."

Morton obeyed, and Eugenie replaced the curtain.




CHAPTER XIII.

             GUIOMAR.
     "Speak! What are you?"

            RUTILIO.
     "Gracious woman, hear me. I am a stranger:
     And in that I answer all your demands."
      Custom of the Country.

Eugenie replaced the curtain. And scarcely had she done so ere the steps
in the outer room entered the chamber where she stood. Her servant was
accompanied by two officers of the police.

"Pardon, madame," said one of the latter; "but we are in pursuit of a
criminal. We think he must have entered this house through a window above
while your servant was in the street. Permit us to search?"

"Without doubt," answered Eugenie, seating herself. "If he has entered,
look in the other apartments. I have not quitted this room."

"You are right. Accept our apologies."

And the officers turned back to examine every corner where the fugitive
was not. For in that, the scouts of Justice resembled their mistress:
when does man's justice look to the right place?

The servant lingered to repeat the tale he had heard--the sight he had
seen. When, at that instant, he saw the curtain of the alcove slightly
stirred. He uttered an exclamation-sprung to the bed--his hand touched
the curtain--Eugenie seized his arm. She did not speak; but as he turned
his eyes to her, astonished, he saw that she trembled, and that her cheek
was as white as marble.

"Madame," he said, hesitating, "there is some one hid in the recess."

"There is! Be silent!"

A suspicion flashed across the servant's mind. The pure, the proud, the
immaculate Eugenie!

"There is!--and in madame's chamber!" he faltered unconsciously.

Eugenie's quick apprehensions seized the foul thought. Her eyes
flashed--her cheek crimsoned. But her lofty and generous nature conquered
even the indignant and scornful burst that rushed to her lips. The
truth!--could she trust the man? A doubt--and the charge of the human
life rendered to her might be betrayed. Her colour fell--tears gushed to
her eyes.

"I have been kind to you, Francois. Not a word."

"Madame confides in me--it is enough," said the Frenchman, bowing, with
a slight smile on his lips; and he drew back respectfully.

One of the police officers re-entered.

"We have done, madame; he is not here. Aha! that curtain!"

"It is madame's bed," said Francois. "But I have looked behind."

"I am most sorry to have disarranged you," said the policeman, satisfied
with the answer; "but we shall have him yet." And he retired.

The last footsteps died away, the last door of the apartments closed
behind the officers, and Eugenie and her servant stood alone gazing on
each other.

"You may retire," said she at last; and taking her purse from the table,
she placed it in his hands.

The man took it, with a significant look. "Madame may depend on my
discretion."

Eugenie was alone again. Those words rang in her ear,--Eugenie de
Merville dependent on the discretion of her lackey! She sunk into her
chair, and, her excitement succeeded by exhaustion, leaned her face on
her hands, and burst into tears. She was aroused by a low voice; she
looked up, and the young man was kneeling at her feet.

"Go--go!" she said: "I have done for you all I can."

"You heard--you heard--my own hireling, too! At the hazard of my own good
name you are saved. Go!"

"Of your good name!"--for Eugenie forgot that it was looks, not words,
that had so wrung her pride--"Your good name," he repeated: and glancing
round the room--the toilette, the curtain, the recess he had quitted--all
that bespoke that chastest sanctuary of a chaste woman, which for a
stranger to enter is, as it were, to profane--her meaning broke on him.
"Your good name--your hireling! No, madame,--no!" And as he spoke, he
rose to his feet. "Not for me, that sacrifice! Your humanity shall not
cost you so dear. Ho, there! I am the man you seek." And he strode to the
door.

Eugenie was penetrated with the answer. She sprung to him--she grasped
his garments.

"Hush! hush!--for mercy's sake! What would you do? Think you I could ever
be happy again, if the confidence you placed in me were betrayed? Be
calm--be still. I knew not what I said. It will be easy to undeceive the
man--later--when you are saved. And you are innocent,--are you not?"

"Oh, madame," said Morton, "from my soul I say it, I am innocent--not of
poverty--wretchedness--error--shame; I am innocent of crime. May Heaven
bless you!"

And as he reverently kissed the hand laid on his arm, there was something
in his voice so touching, in his manner something so above his fortunes,
that Eugenie was lost in her feelings of compassion, surprise, and
something, it might be, of admiration in her wonder.

"And, oh!" he said, passionately, gazing on her with his dark, brilliant
eyes, liquid with emotion, "you have made my life sweet in saving it.
You--you--of whom, ever since the first time, almost the sole time, I
beheld you--I have so often mused and dreamed. Henceforth, whatever
befall me, there will be some recollections that will--that--"

He stopped short, for his heart was too full for words; and the silence
said more to Eugenie than if all the eloquence of Rousseau had glowed
upon his tongue.

"And who, and what are you?" she asked, after a pause.

"An exile--an orphan--an outcast! I have no name! Farewell!"

"No--stay yet--the danger is not past. Wait till my servant is gone to
rest; I hear him yet. Sit down--sit down. And whither would you go?"

"I know not."

"Have you no friends?"

"Gone."

"No home?"

"None."

"And the police of Paris so vigilant!" cried Eugenie, wringing her hands.
"What is to be done? I shall have saved you in vain--you will be
discovered! Of what do they charge you? Not robbery--not--"

And she, too, stopped short, for she did not dare to breathe the black
word, "Murder!"

"I know not," said Morton, putting his hand to his forehead, "except of
being friends with the only man who befriended me--and they have killed
him!"

"Another time you shall tell me all."

"Another time!" he exclaimed, eagerly--"shall I see you again?"

Eugenie blushed beneath the gaze and the voice of joy. "Yes," she said;
"yes. But I must reflect. Be calm be silent. Ah!--a happy thought!"

She sat down, wrote a hasty line, sealed, and gave it to Morton.

"Take this note, as addressed, to Madame Dufour; it will provide you with
a safe lodging. She is a person I can depend on--an old servant who lived
with my mother, and to whom I have given a small pension. She has a
lodging--it is lately vacant--I promised to procure her a tenant--go--say
nothing of what has passed. I will see her, and arrange all.
Wait!--hark!--all is still. I will go first, and see that no one watches
you. Stop," (and she threw open the window, and looked into the court.)
"The porter's door is open--that is fortunate! Hurry on, and God be with
you!"

In a few minutes Morton was in the streets. It was still early--the
thoroughfares deserted-none of the shops yet open. The address on the
note was to a street at some distance, on the other side of the Seine. He
passed along the same Quai which he had trodden but a few hours since--he
passed the same splendid bridge on which he had stood despairing, to quit
it revived--he gained the Rue Faubourg St. Honore. A young man in a
cabriolet, on whose fair cheek burned the hectic of late vigils and
lavish dissipation, was rolling leisurely home from the gaming-house, at
which he had been more than usually fortunate--his pockets were laden
with notes and gold. He bent forwards as Morton passed him. Philip,
absorbed in his reverie, perceived him not, and continued his way. The
gentleman turned down one of the streets to the left, stopped, and called
to the servant dozing behind his cabriolet.

"Follow that passenger! quietly--see where he lodges; be sure to find out
and let me know. I shall go home with out you." With that he drove on.

Philip, unconscious of the espionage, arrived at a small house in a quiet
but respectable street, and rang the bell several times before at last he
was admitted by Madame Dufour herself, in her nightcap. The old woman
looked askant and alarmed at the unexpected apparition. But the note
seemed at once to satisfy her. She conducted him to an apartment on the
first floor, small, but neatly and even elegantly furnished, consisting
of a sitting-room and a bedchamber, and said, quietly,--

"Will they suit monsieur?"

To monsieur they seemed a palace. Morton nodded assent.

"And will monsieur sleep for a short time?"

"Yes."

"The bed is well aired. The rooms have only been vacant three days since.
Can I get you anything till your luggage arrives?"

"No."

The woman left him. He threw off his clothes--flung himself on the
bed--and did not wake till noon.

When his eyes unclosed--when they rested on that calm chamber, with its
air of health, and cleanliness, and comfort, it was long before he could
convince himself that he was yet awake. He missed the loud, deep voice of
Gawtrey--the smoke of the dead man's meerschaum--the gloomy garret--the
distained walls--the stealthy whisper of the loathed Birnie; slowly the
life led and the life gone within the last twelve hours grew upon his
struggling memory. He groaned, and turned uneasily round, when the door
slightly opened, and he sprung up fiercely,--

"Who is there?"

"It is only I, sir," answered Madame Dufour. "I have been in three times
to see if you were stirring. There is a letter I believe for you, sir;
though there is no name to it," and she laid the letter on the chair
beside him. Did it come from her--the saving angel? He seized it. The
cover was blank; it was sealed with a small device, as of a ring seal. He
tore it open, and found four billets de banque for 1,000 francs each,--a
sum equivalent in our money to about L160.

"Who sent this, the--the lady from whom I brought the note?"

"Madame de Merville? certainly not, sir," said Madame Dufour, who, with
the privilege of age, was now unscrupulously filling the water-jugs and
settling the toilette-table. "A young man called about two hours after
you had gone to bed; and, describing you, inquired if you lodged here,
and what your name was. I said you had just arrived, and that I did not
yet know your name. So he went away, and came again half an hour
afterwards with this letter, which he charged me to deliver to you
safely."

"A young man--a gentleman?"

"No, sir; he seemed a smart but common sort of lad." For the
unsophisticated Madame Dufour did not discover in the plain black frock
and drab gaiters of the bearer of that letter the simple livery of an
English gentleman's groom.

Whom could it come from, if not from Madame de Merville? Perhaps one of
Gawtrey's late friends. A suspicion of Arthur Beaufort crossed him, but
he indignantly dismissed it. Men are seldom credulous of what they are
unwilling to believe. What kindness had the Beauforts hitherto shown
him?--Left his mother to perish broken-hearted--stolen from him his
brother, and steeled, in that brother, the only heart wherein he had a
right to look for gratitude and love! No, it must be Madame de Merville.
He dismissed Madame Dufour for pen and paper--rose--wrote a letter to
Eugenie--grateful, but proud, and inclosed the notes. He then summoned
Madame Dufour, and sent her with his despatch.

"Ah, madame," said the ci-devant bonne, when she found herself in
Eugenie's presence. "The poor lad! how handsome he is, and how shameful
in the Vicomte to let him wear such clothes!"

"The Vicomte!"

"Oh, my dear mistress, you must not deny it. You told me, in your note,
to ask him no questions, but I guessed at once. The Vicomte told me
himself that he should have the young gentleman over in a few days. You
need not be ashamed of him. You will see what a difference clothes will
make in his appearance; and I have taken it on myself to order a tailor
to go to him. The Vicomte--must pay me."

"Not a word to the Vicomte as yet. We will surprise him," said Eugenie,
laughing.

Madame de Merville had been all that morning trying to invent some story
to account for her interest in the lodger, and now how Fortune favoured
her!

"But is that a letter for me?"

"And I had almost forgot it," said Madame Dufour, as she extended the
letter.

Whatever there had hitherto been in the circumstances connected with
Morton, that had roused the interest and excited the romance of Eugenie
de Merville, her fancy was yet more attracted by the tone of the letter
she now read. For though Morton, more accustomed to speak than to write
French, expressed himself with less precision, and a less euphuistic
selection of phrase, than the authors and elegans who formed her usual
correspondents; there was an innate and rough nobleness--a strong and
profound feeling in every line of his letter, which increased her
surprise and admiration.

"All that surrounds him--all that belongs to him, is strangeness and
mystery!" murmured she; and she sat down to reply.

When Madame Dufour departed with that letter, Eugenie remained silent and
thoughtful for more than an hour, Morton's letter before her; and sweet,
in their indistinctness, were the recollections and the images that
crowded on her mind.

Morton, satisfied by the earnest and solemn assurances of Eugenie that
she was not the unknown donor of the sum she reinclosed, after puzzling
himself in vain to form any new conjectures as to the quarter whence it
came, felt that under his present circumstances it would be an absurd
Quixotism to refuse to apply what the very Providence to whom he had anew
consigned himself seemed to have sent to his aid. And it placed him, too,
beyond the offer of all pecuniary assistance from one from whom he could
least have brooked to receive it. He consented, therefore, to all that
the loquacious tailor proposed to him. And it would have been difficult
to have recognised the wild and frenzied fugitive in the stately form,
with its young beauty and air of well-born pride, which the next day sat
by the side of Eugenie. And that day he told his sad and troubled story,
and Eugenie wept: and from that day he came daily; and two weeks--happy,
dreamlike, intoxicating to both--passed by; and as their last sun set, he
was kneeling at her feet, and breathing to one to whom the homage of wit,
and genius, and complacent wealth had hitherto been vainly proffered, the
impetuous, agitated, delicious secrets of the First Love. He spoke, and
rose to depart for ever--when the look and sigh detained him.

The next day, after a sleepless night, Eugenie de Merville sent for the
Vicomte de Vaudemont.




CHAPTER XIV.

        "A silver river small
        In sweet accents
        Its music vents;
        The warbling virginal
        To which the merry birds do sing,
        Timed with stops of gold the silver string."
        Sir Richard Fanshawe.

One evening, several weeks after the events just commemorated, a
stranger, leading in his hand, a young child, entered the churchyard of
H----. The sun had not long set, and the short twilight of deepening
summer reigned in the tranquil skies; you might still hear from the trees
above the graves the chirp of some joyous bird;--what cared he, the
denizen of the skies, for the dead that slept below?--what did he value
save the greenness and repose of the spot,--to him alike the garden or
the grave! As the man and the child passed, the robin, scarcely scared by
their tread from the long grass beside one of the mounds, looked at them
with its bright, blithe eye. It was a famous plot for the robin--the old
churchyard! That domestic bird--"the friend of man," as it has been
called by the poets--found a jolly supper among the worms!

The stranger, on reaching the middle of the sacred ground, paused and
looked round him wistfully. He then approached, slowly and hesitatingly,
an oblong tablet, on which were graven, in letters yet fresh and new,
these words:--

                 TO THE
         MEMORY OF ONE CALUMNIATED AND WRONGED
           THIS BURIAL-STONE IS DEDICATED
               BY HER SON.

Such, with the addition of the dates of birth and death, was the tablet
which Philip Morton had directed to be placed over his mother's bones;
and around it was set a simple palisade, which defended it from the tread
of the children, who sometimes, in defiance of the beadle, played over
the dust of the former race.

"Thy son!" muttered the stranger, while the child stood quietly by his
side, pleased by the trees, the grass, the song of the birds, and reeking
not of grief or death,--"thy son!--but not thy favoured son--thy
darling--thy youngest born; on what spot of earth do thine eyes look down
on him? Surely in heaven thy love has preserved the one whom on earth
thou didst most cherish, from the sufferings and the trials that have
visited the less-favoured outcast. Oh, mother--mother!--it was not his
crime--not Philip's--that he did not fulfil to the last the trust
bequeathed to him! Happier, perhaps, as it is! And, oh, if thy memory be
graven as deeply in my brother's heart as my own, how often will it warn
and save him! That memory!--it has been to me the angel of my life! To
thee--to thee, even in death, I owe it, if, though erring, I am not
criminal,--if I have lived with the lepers, and am still undefiled!" His
lips then were silent--not his heart!

After a few minutes thus consumed he turned to the child, and said,
gently and in a tremulous voice, "Fanny, you have been taught to
pray--you will live near this spot,--will you come sometimes here and
pray that you may grow up good and innocent, and become a blessing to
those who love you?"

"Will papa ever come to hear me pray?"

That sad and unconscious question went to the heart of Morton. The child
could not comprehend death. He had sought to explain it, but she had been
accustomed to consider her protector dead when he was absent from her,
and she still insisted that he must come again to life. And that man of
turbulence and crime, who had passed unrepentant, unabsolved, from sin to
judgment: it was an awful question, "If he should hear her pray?"

"Yes!" said he, after a pause,--"yes, Fanny, there is a Father who will
hear you pray; and pray to Him to be merciful to those who have been kind
to you. Fanny, you and I may never meet again!"

"Are you going to die too? Mechant, every one dies to Fanny!" and,
clinging to him endearingly, she put up her lips to kiss him. He took her
in his arms: and, as a tear fell upon her rosy cheek, she said, "Don't
cry, brother, for I love you."

"Do you, dear Fanny? Then, for my sake, when you come to this place, if
any one will give you a few flowers, scatter them on that stone. And now
we will go to one whom you must love also, and to whom, as I have told
you, he sends you; he who--Come!"

As he thus spoke, and placed Fanny again on the ground, he was startled
to see: precisely on the spot where he had seen before the like
apparition--on the same spot where the father had cursed the son, the
motionless form of an old man. Morton recognised, as if by an instinct
rather than by an effort of the memory, the person to whom he was bound.

He walked slowly towards him; but Fanny abruptly left his side, lured by
a moth that flitted duskily over the graves.

"Your name, sir, I think, is Simon Gawtrey?" said Morton. "I have came to
England in quest of you."

"Of me?" said the old man, half rising, and his eyes, now completely
blind, rolled vacantly over Morton's person--"Of me?--for what?--Who are
you?--I don't know your voice!"

"I come to you from your son!"

"My son!" exclaimed the old man, with great vehemence,--"the
reprobate!--the dishonoured!--the infamous!--the accursed--"

"Hush! you revile the dead!"

"Dead!" muttered the wretched father, tottering back to the seat he had
quitted,--"dead!" and the sound of his voice was so full of anguish, that
the dog at his feet, which Morton had not hitherto perceived, echoed it
with a dismal cry, that recalled to Philip the awful day in which he had
seen the son quit the father for the last time on earth.

The sound brought Fanny to the spot; and, with a laugh of delight, which
made to it a strange contrast, she threw herself on the grass beside the
dog and sought to entice it to play. So there, in that place of death,
were knit together the four links in the Great Chain;--lusty and blooming
life--desolate and doting age--infancy, yet scarce conscious of a
soul--and the dumb brute, that has no warrant of a Hereafter!

"Dead!--dead!" repeated the old man, covering his sightless balls with
his withered hands. "Poor William!"

"He remembered you to the last. He bade me seek you out--he bade me
replace the guilty son with a thing pure and innocent, as he had been had
he died in his cradle--a child to comfort your old age! Kneel, Fanny, I
have found you a father who will cherish you--(oh! you will, sir, will
you not?)--as he whom you may see no more!"

There was something in Morton's voice so solemn, that it awed and touched
both the old man and the infant; and Fanny, creeping to the protector
thus assigned to her, and putting her little hands confidingly on his
knees, said--

"Fanny will love you if papa wished it. Kiss Fanny."

"Is it his child--his?" said the blind man, sobbing. "Come to my heart;
here--here! O God, forgive me!" Morton did not think it right at that
moment to undeceive him with regard to the poor child's true connexion
with the deceased: and he waited in silence till Simon, after a burst of
passionate grief and tenderness, rose, and still clasping the child to
his breast, said--

"Sir, forgive me!--I am a very weak old man--I have many thanks to
give--I have much, too, to learn. My poor son! he did not die in
want,--did he?"

The particulars of Gawtrey's fate, with his real name and the various
aliases he had assumed, had appeared in the French journals, had been
partially copied into the English; and Morton had expected to have been
saved the painful narrative of that fearful death; but the utter
seclusion of the old man, his infirmity, and his estranged habits, had
shut him out from the intelligence that it now devolved on Philip to
communicate. Morton hesitated a little before he answered:

"It is late now; you are not yet prepared to receive this poor infant at
your home, nor to hear the details I have to state. I arrived in England
but to-day. I shall lodge in the neighbourhood, for it is dear to me. If
I may feel sure, then, that you will receive and treasure this sacred and
last deposit bequeathed to you by your unhappy son, I will bring my
charge to you to-morrow, and we will then, more calmly than we can now,
talk over the past."

"You do not answer my question," said Simon, passionately; "answer that,
and I will wait for the rest. They call me a miser! Did I send out my
only child to starve? Answer that!"

"Be comforted. He did not die in want; and he has even left some little
fortune for Fanny, which I was to place in your hands."

"And he thought to bribe the old miser to be human! Well--well--well--I
will go home."

"Lean on me!"

The dog leapt playfully on his master as the latter rose, and Fanny slid
from Simon's arms to caress and talk to the animal in her own way. As
they slowly passed through the churchyard Simon muttered incoherently to
himself for several paces, and Morton would not disturb, since he could
not comfort, him.

At last he said abruptly, "Did my son repent?"

"I hoped," answered Morton, evasively, "that, had his life been spared,
he would have amended!"

"Tush, sir!--I am past seventy; we repent!--we never amend!" And Simon
again sunk into his own dim and disconnected reveries.

At length they arrived at the blind man's house. The door was opened to
them by an old woman of disagreeable and sinister aspect, dressed out
much too gaily for the station of a servant, though such was her reputed
capacity; but the miser's affliction saved her from the chance of his
comment on her extravagance. As she stood in the doorway with a candle in
her hand, she scanned curiously, and with no welcoming eye, her master's
companions.

"Mrs. Boxer, my son is dead!" said Simon, in a hollow voice.

"And a good thing it is, then, sir!"

"For shame, woman!" said Morton, indignantly. "Hey-dey! sir! whom have we
got here?"

"One," said Simon, sternly, "whom you will treat with respect. He brings
me a blessing to lighten my loss. One harsh word to this child, and you
quit my house!"

The woman looked perfectly thunderstruck; but, recovering herself, she
said, whiningly--

"I! a harsh word to anything my dear, kind master cares for. And, Lord,
what a sweet pretty creature it is! Come here, my dear!"

But Fanny shrunk back, and would not let go Philip's hand.

"To-morrow, then," said Morton; and he was turning away, when a sudden
thought seemed to cross the old man,--

"Stay, sir--stay! I--I--did my son say I was rich? I am very, very
poor--nothing in the house, or I should have been robbed long ago!"

"Your son told me to bring money, not to ask for it!"

"Ask for it! No; but," added the old man, and a gleam of cunning
intelligence shot over his face,--"but he had got into a bad set.
Ask!--No!--Put up the door-chain, Mrs. Boxer!"

It was with doubt and misgivings that Morton, the next day, consigned the
child, who had already nestled herself into the warmest core of his
heart, to the care of Simon. Nothing short of that superstitious respect,
which all men owe to the wishes of the dead, would have made him select
for her that asylum; for Fate had now, in brightening his own prospects,
given him an alternative in the benevolence of Madame de Merville. But
Gawtrey had been so earnest on the subject, that he felt as if he had no
right to hesitate. And was it not a sort of atonement to any faults the
son might have committed against the parent, to place by the old man's
hearth so sweet a charge?

The strange and peculiar mind and character of Fanny made him, however,
yet more anxious than otherwise he might have been. She certainly
deserved not the harsh name of imbecile or idiot, but she was different
from all other children; she felt more acutely than most of her age, but
she could not be taught to reason. There was something either oblique or
deficient in her intellect, which justified the most melancholy
apprehensions; yet often, when some disordered, incoherent, inexplicable
train of ideas most saddened the listener, it would be followed by
fancies so exquisite in their strangeness, or feelings so endearing in
their tenderness, that suddenly she seemed as much above, as before she
seemed below, the ordinary measure of infant comprehension. She was like
a creature to which Nature, in some cruel but bright caprice, has given
all that belongs to poetry, but denied all that belongs to the common
understanding necessary to mankind; or, as a fairy changeling, not,
indeed, according to the vulgar superstition, malignant and deformed, but
lovelier than the children of men, and haunted by dim and struggling
associations of a gentler and fairer being, yet wholly incapable to learn
the dry and hard elements which make up the knowledge of actual life.

Morton, as well as he could, sought to explain to Simon the peculiarities
in Fanny's mental constitution. He urged on him the necessity of
providing for her careful instruction, and Simon promised to send her to
the best school the neighbourhood could afford; but, as the old man
spoke, he dwelt so much on the supposed fact that Fanny was William's
daughter, and with his remorse, or affection, there ran so interwoven a
thread of selfishness and avarice, that Morton thought it would be
dangerous to his interest in the child to undeceive his error. He,
therefore,--perhaps excusably enough--remained silent on that subject.

Gawtrey had placed with the superior of the convent, together with an
order to give up the child to any one who should demand her in his true
name, which he confided to the superior, a sum of nearly L300., which he
solemnly swore had been honestly obtained, and which, in all his shifts
and adversities, he had never allowed himself to touch. This sum, with
the trifling deduction made for arrears due to the convent, Morton now
placed in Simon's hands. The old man clutched the money, which was for
the most in French gold, with a convulsive gripe: and then, as if ashamed
of the impulse, said--

"But you, sir--will any sum--that is, any reasonable sum--be of use to
you?"

"No! and if it were, it is neither yours nor mine--it is hers. Save it
for her, and add to it what you can."

While this conversation took place, Fanny had been consigned to the care
of Mrs. Boxer, and Philip now rose to see and bid her farewell before he
departed.

"I may come again to visit you, Mr. Gawtrey; and I pray Heaven to find
that you and Fanny have been a mutual blessing to each other. Oh,
remember how your son loved her!"

"He had a good heart, in spite of all his sins. Poor William!" said
Simon.

Philip Morton heard, and his lip curled with a sad and a just disdain.

If when, at the age of nineteen, William Gawtrey had quitted his father's
roof, the father had then remembered that the son's heart was good,--the
son had been alive still, an honest and a happy man. Do ye not laugh, O
ye all-listening Fiends! when men praise those dead whose virtues they
discovered not when alive? It takes much marble to build the
sepulchre--how little of lath and plaster would have repaired the garret!

On turning into a small room adjoining the parlour in which Gawtrey sat,
Morton found Fanny standing gloomily by a dull, soot-grimed window, which
looked out on the dead walls of a small yard. Mrs. Boxer, seated by a
table, was employed in trimming a cap, and putting questions to Fanny in
that falsetto voice of endearment in which people not used to children
are apt to address them.

"And so, my dear, they've never taught you to read or write? You've been
sadly neglected, poor thing!"

"We must do our best to supply the deficiency," said Morton, as he
entered.

"Bless me, sir, is that you?" and the gouvernante bustled up and dropped
a low courtesy; for Morton, dressed then in the garb of a gentleman, was
of a mien and person calculated to strike the gaze of the vulgar.

"Ah, brother!" cried Fanny, for by that name he had taught her to call
him; and she flew to his side. "Come away--it's ugly there--it makes me
cold."

"My child, I told you you must stay; but I shall hope to see you again
some day. Will you not be kind to this poor creature, ma'am? Forgive me,
if I offended you last night, and favour me by accepting this, to show
that we are friends." As he spoke, he slid his purse into the woman's
hand. "I shall feel ever grateful for whatever you can do for Fanny."

"Fanny wants nothing from any one else; Fanny wants her brother."

"Sweet child! I fear she don't take to me. Will you like me, Miss Fanny?"

"No! get along!"

"Fie, Fanny--you remember you did not take to me at first. But she is so
affectionate, ma'am; she never forgets a kindness."

"I will do all I can to please her, sir. And so she is really master's
grandchild?" The woman fixed her eyes, as she spoke, so intently on
Morton, that he felt embarrassed, and busied himself, without answering,
in caressing and soothing Fanny, who now seemed to awake to the
affliction about to visit her; for though she did not weep--she very
rarely wept--her slight frame trembled--her eyes closed--her cheeks, even
her lips, were white--and her delicate hands were clasped tightly round
the neck of the one about to abandon her to strange breasts.

Morton was greatly moved. "One kiss, Fanny! and do not forget me when we
meet again."

The child pressed her lips to his cheek, but the lips were cold. He put
her down gently; she stood mute and passive.

"Remember that he wished me to leave you here," whispered Morton, using
an argument that never failed. "We must obey him; and so-God bless you,
Fanny!"

He rose and retreated to the door; the child unclosed her eyes, and gazed
at him with a strained, painful, imploring gaze; her lips moved, but she
did not speak. Morton could not bear that silent woe. He sought to smile
on her consolingly; but the smile would not come. He closed the door, and
hurried from the house.

From that day Fanny settled into a kind of dreary, inanimate stupor,
which resembled that of the somnambulist whom the magnetiser forgets to
waken. Hitherto, with all the eccentricities or deficiencies of her mind,
had mingled a wild and airy gaiety. That was vanished. She spoke
little--she never played--no toys could lure her--even the poor dog
failed to win her notice. If she was told to do anything she stared
vacantly and stirred not. She evinced, however, a kind of dumb regard to
the old blind man; she would creep to his knees and sit there for hours,
seldom answering when he addressed her, but uneasy, anxious, and
restless, if he left her.

"Will you die too?" she asked once; the old man understood her not, and
she did not try to explain. Early one morning, some days after Morton was
gone, they missed her: she was not in the house, nor the dull yard where
she was sometimes dismissed and told to play--told in vain. In great
alarm the old man accused Mrs. Boxer of having spirited her away, and
threatened and stormed so loudly that the woman, against her will, went
forth to the search. At last she found the child in the churchyard,
standing wistfully beside a tomb.

"What do you here, you little plague?" said Mrs. Boxer, rudely seizing
her by the arm.

"This is the way they will both come back some day! I dreamt so!"

"If ever I catch you here again!" said the housekeeper, and, wiping her
brow with one hand, she struck the child with the other. Fanny had never
been struck before. She recoiled in terror and amazement, and, for the
first time since her arrival, burst into tears.

"Come--come, no crying! and if you tell master I'll beat you within an
inch of your life!" So saying, she caught Fanny in her arms, and, walking
about, scolding and menacing, till she had frightened back the child's
tears, she returned triumphantly to the house, and bursting into the
parlour, exclaimed, "Here's the little darling, sir!"

When old Simon learned where the child had been found he was glad; for it
was his constant habit, whenever the evening was fine, to glide out to
that churchyard--his dog his guide--and sit on his one favourite spot
opposite the setting sun. This, not so much for the sanctity of the
place, or the meditations it might inspire, as because it was the
nearest, the safest, and the loneliest spot in the neighbourhood of his
home, where the blind man could inhale the air and bask in the light of
heaven. Hitherto, thinking it sad for the child, he had never taken her
with him; indeed, at the hour of his monotonous excursion she had
generally been banished to bed. Now she was permitted to accompany him;
and the old man and the infant would sit there side by side, as Age and
Infancy rested side by side in the graves below. The first symptom of
childlike interest and curiosity that Fanny betrayed was awakened by the
affliction of her protector. One evening, as they thus sat, she made him
explain what the desolation of blindness is. She seemed to comprehend
him, though he did not seek to adapt his complaints to her understanding.

"Fanny knows," said she, touchingly; "for she, too, is blind here;" and
she pressed her hands to her temples. Notwithstanding her silence and
strange ways, and although he could not see the exquisite loveliness
which Nature, as in remorseful pity, had lavished on her outward form,
Simon soon learned to love her better than he had ever loved yet: for
they most cold to the child are often dotards to the grandchild. For her
even his avarice slept. Dainties, never before known at his sparing
board, were ordered to tempt her appetite, toy-shops ransacked to amuse
her indolence. He was long, however, before he could prevail on himself
to fulfil his promise to Morton, and rob himself of her presence. At
length, however, wearied with Mrs. Boxer's lamentations at her ignorance,
and alarmed himself at some evidences of helplessness, which made him
dread to think what her future might be when left alone in life, he
placed her at a day-school in the suburb. Here Fanny, for a considerable
time, justified the harshest assertions of her stupidity. She could not
even keep her eyes two minutes together on the page from which she was to
learn the mysteries of reading; months passed before she mastered the
alphabet, and, a month after, she had again forgot it, and the labour was
renewed. The only thing in which she showed ability, if so it might be
called, was in the use of the needle. The sisters of the convent had
already taught her many pretty devices in this art; and when she found
that at the school they were admired--that she was praised instead of
blamed--her vanity was pleased, and she learned so readily all that they
could teach in this not unprofitable accomplishment, that Mrs. Boxer
slyly and secretly turned her tasks to account and made a weekly
perquisite of the poor pupil's industry. Another faculty she possessed,
in common with persons usually deficient, and with the lower
species--viz., a most accurate and faithful recollection of places. At
first Mrs. Boxer had been duly sent, morning, noon, and evening, to take
her to, or bring her from, the school; but this was so great a grievance
to Simon's solitary superintendent, and Fanny coaxed the old man so
endearingly to allow her to go and return alone, that the attendance,
unwelcome to both, was waived. Fanny exulted in this liberty; and she
never, in going or in returning, missed passing through the
burial-ground, and gazing wistfully at the tomb from which she yet
believed Morton would one day reappear. With his memory she cherished
also that of her earlier and more guilty protector; but they were
separate feelings, which she distinguished in her own way.

"Papa had given her up. She knew that he would not have sent her away,
far--far over the great water, if he had meant to see Fanny again; but
her brother was forced to leave her--he would come to life one day, and
then they should live together!"

One day, towards the end of autumn, as her schoolmistress, a good woman
on the whole, but who had not yet had the wit to discover by what chords
to tune the instrument, over which so wearily she drew her unskilful
hand--one day, we say, the schoolmistress happened to be dressed for a
christening party to which she was invited in the suburb; and,
accordingly, after the morning lessons, the pupils were to be dismissed
to a holiday. As Fanny now came last, with the hopeless spelling-book,
she stopped suddenly short, and her eyes rested with avidity upon a large
bouquet of exotic flowers, with which the good lady had enlivened the
centre of the parted kerchief, whose yellow gauze modestly veiled that
tender section of female beauty which poets have likened to hills of
snow--a chilling simile! It was then autumn; and field, and even garden
flowers were growing rare.

"Will you give me one of those flowers?" said Fanny, dropping her book.

"One of these flowers, child! why?"

Fanny did not answer; but one of the elder and cleverer girls said--

"Oh! she comes from France, you know, ma'am, and the Roman Catholics put
flowers, and ribands, and things, over the graves; you recollect, ma'am,
we were reading yesterday about Pere-la-Chaise?"

"Well! what then?"

"And Miss Fanny will do any kind of work for us if we will give her
flowers."

"My brother told me where to put them;--but these pretty flowers, I never
had any like them; they may bring him back again! I'll be so good if
you'll give me one, only one!"

"Will you learn your lesson if I do, Fanny?"

"Oh! yes! Wait a moment!"

And Fanny stole back to her desk, put the hateful book resolutely before
her, pressed both hands tightly on her temples,--Eureka! the chord was
touched; and Fanny marched in triumph through half a column of hostile
double syllables!

From that day the schoolmistress knew how to stimulate her, and Fanny
learned to read: her path to knowledge thus literally strewn with
flowers! Catherine, thy children were far off, and thy grave looked gay!

It naturally happened that those short and simple rhymes, often sacred,
which are repeated in schools as helps to memory, made a part of her
studies; and no sooner had the sound of verse struck upon her fancy than
it seemed to confuse and agitate anew all her senses. It was like the
music of some breeze, to which dance and tremble all the young leaves of
a wild plant. Even when at the convent she had been fond of repeating the
infant rhymes with which they had sought to lull or to amuse her, but now
the taste was more strongly developed. She confounded, however, in
meaningless and motley disorder, the various snatches of song that came
to her ear, weaving them together in some form which she understood, but
which was jargon to all others; and often, as she went alone through the
green lanes or the bustling streets, the passenger would turn in pity and
fear to hear her half chant--half murmur--ditties that seemed to suit
only a wandering and unsettled imagination. And as Mrs. Boxer, in her
visits to the various shops in the suburb, took care to bemoan her hard
fate in attending to a creature so evidently moon-stricken, it was no
wonder that the manner and habits of the child, coupled with that strange
predilection to haunt the burial-ground, which is not uncommon with
persons of weak and disordered intellect; confirmed the character thus
given to her.

So, as she tripped gaily and lightly along the thoroughfares, the
children would draw aside from her path, and whisper with superstitious
fear mingled with contempt, "It's the idiot girl!"--Idiot--how much more
of heaven's light was there in that cloud than in the rushlights that,
flickering in sordid chambers, shed on dull things the dull
ray--esteeming themselves as stars!

Months-years passed--Fanny was thirteen, when there dawned a new era to
her existence. Mrs. Boxer had never got over her first grudge to Fanny.
Her treatment of the poor girl was always harsh, and sometimes cruel. But
Fanny did not complain, and as Mrs. Boxer's manner to her before Simon
was invariably cringing and caressing, the old man never guessed the
hardships his supposed grandchild underwent. There had been scandal some
years back in the suburb about the relative connexion of the master and
the housekeeper; and the flaunting dress of the latter, something bold in
her regard, and certain whispers that her youth had not been vowed to
Vesta, confirmed the suspicion. The only reason why we do not feel sure
that the rumour was false is this,--Simon Gawtrey had been so hard on the
early follies of his son! Certainly, at all events, the woman had
exercised great influence over the miser before the arrival of Fanny, and
she had done much to steel his selfishness against the ill-fated William.
And, as certainly, she had fully calculated on succeeding to the savings,
whatever they might be, of the miser, whenever Providence should be
pleased to terminate his days. She knew that Simon had, many years back,
made his will in her favour; she knew that he had not altered that will:
she believed, therefore, that in spite of all his love for Fanny, he
loved his gold so much more, that he could not accustom himself to the
thought of bequeathing it to hands too helpless to guard the treasure.
This had in some measure reconciled the housekeeper to the intruder;
whom, nevertheless, she hated as a dog hates another dog, not only for
taking his bone, but for looking at it.

But suddenly Simon fell ill. His age made it probable he would die. He
took to his bed--his breathing grew fainter and fainter--he seemed dead.
Fanny, all unconscious, sat by his bedside as usual, holding her breath
not to waken him. Mrs. Boxer flew to the bureau--she unlocked it--she
could not find the will; but she found three bags of bright gold guineas:
the sight charmed her. She tumbled them forth on the distained green
cloth of the bureau--she began to count them; and at that moment, the old
man, as if there were a secret magnetism between himself and the guineas,
woke from his trance. His blindness saved him the pain that might have
been fatal, of seeing the unhallowed profanation; but he heard the chink
of the metal. The very sound restored his strength. But the infirm are
always cunning--he breathed not a suspicion. "Mrs. Boxer," said he,
faintly, "I think I could take some broth." Mrs. Boxer rose in great
dismay, gently re-closed the bureau, and ran down-stairs for the broth.
Simon took the occasion to question Fanny; and no sooner had he learnt
the operation of the heir-expectant, than he bade the girl first lock the
bureau and bring him the key, and next run to a lawyer (whose address he
gave her), and fetch him instantly.

With a malignant smile the old man took the broth from his
handmaid,--"Poor Boxer, you are a disinterested creature," said he,
feebly; "I think you will grieve when I go."

Mrs. Boxer sobbed, and before she had recovered, the lawyer entered. That
day a new will was made; and the lawyer politely informed Mrs. Boxer that
her services would be dispensed with the next morning, when he should
bring a nurse to the house. Mrs. Boxer heard, and took her resolution. As
soon as Simon again fell asleep, she crept into the room-led away
Fanny--locked her up in her own chamber--returned--searched for the key
of the bureau, which she found at last under Simon's pillow--possessed
herself of all she could lay her hands on--and the next morning she had
disappeared forever! Simon's loss was greater than might have been
supposed; for, except a trifling sum in the savings bank, he, like many
other misers, kept all he had, in notes or specie, under his own lock and
key. His whole fortune, indeed, was far less than was supposed: for money
does not make money unless it is put out to interest,--and the miser
cheated himself. Such portion as was in bank-notes Mrs. Boxer probably
had the prudence to destroy; for those numbers which Simon could remember
were never traced; the gold, who could swear to? Except the pittance in
the savings bank, and whatever might be the paltry worth of the house he
rented, the father who had enriched the menial to exile the son was a
beggar in his dotage. This news, however, was carefully concealed from
him by the advice of the doctor, whom, on his own responsibility, the
lawyer introduced, till he had recovered sufficiently to bear the shock
without danger; and the delay naturally favoured Mrs. Boxer's escape.

Simon remained for some moments perfectly stunned and speechless when the
news was broken to him. Fanny, in alarm at his increasing paleness,
sprang to his breast. He pushed her away,--"Go--go--go, child," he said;
"I can't feed you now. Leave me to starve."

"To starve!" said Fanny, wonderingly; and she stole away, and sat herself
down as if in deep thought. She then crept up to the lawyer as he was
about to leave the room, after exhausting his stock of commonplace
consolation; and putting her hand in his, whispered, "I want to talk to
you--this way:"--She led him through the passage into the open air. "Tell
me," she said, "when poor people try not to starve, don't they work?"

"My dear, yes."

"For rich people buy poor people's work?"

"Certainly, my dear; to be sure."

"Very well. Mrs. Boxer used to sell my work. Fanny will feed grandpapa!
Go and tell him never to say 'starve' again."

The good-natured lawyer was moved. "Can you work, indeed, my poor girl?
Well, put on your bonnet, and come and talk to my wife."

And that was the new era in Fanny's existence! Her schooling was stopped.
But now life schooled her. Necessity ripened her intellect. And many a
hard eye moistened,--as, seeing her glide with her little basket of fancy
work along the streets, still murmuring her happy and bird-like snatches
of unconnected song--men and children alike said with respect, in which
there was now no contempt, "It's the idiot girl who supports her blind
grandfather!" They called her idiot still!




BOOK IV.




CHAPTER I.

     "O that sweet gleam of sunshine on the lake!"
     WILSON'S City of the Plague

If, reader, you have ever looked through a solar microscope at the
monsters in a drop of water, perhaps you have wondered to yourself how
things so terrible have been hitherto unknown to you--you have felt a
loathing at the limpid element you hitherto deemed so pure--you have half
fancied that you would cease to be a water-drinker; yet, the next day you
have forgotten the grim life that started before you, with its countless
shapes, in that teeming globule; and, if so tempted by your thirst, you
have not shrunk from the lying crystal, although myriads of the horrible
Unseen are mangling, devouring, gorging each other in the liquid you so
tranquilly imbibe; so is it with that ancestral and master element called
Life. Lapped in your sleek comforts, and lolling on the sofa of your
patent conscience--when, perhaps for the first time, you look through the
glass of science upon one ghastly globule in the waters that heave
around, that fill up, with their succulence, the pores of earth, that
moisten every atom subject to your eyes or handled by your touch--you are
startled and dismayed; you say, mentally, "Can such things be? I never
dreamed of this before! I thought what was invisible to me was
non-existent in itself--I will remember this dread experiment." The next
day the experiment is forgotten.--The Chemist may purify the Globule--can
Science make pure the World?

Turn we now to the pleasant surface, seen in the whole, broad and fair to
the common eye. Who would judge well of God's great designs, if he could
look on no drop pendent from the rose-tree, or sparkling in the sun,
without the help of his solar microscope?

It is ten years after the night on which William Gawtrey perished:--I
transport you, reader, to the fairest scenes in England,--scenes
consecrated by the only true pastoral poetry we have known to
Contemplation and Repose.

Autumn had begun to tinge the foliage on the banks of Winandermere. It
had been a summer of unusual warmth and beauty; and if that year you had
visited the English lakes, you might, from time to time, amidst the
groups of happy idlers you encountered, have singled out two persons for
interest, or, perhaps, for envy. Two who might have seemed to you in
peculiar harmony with those serene and soft retreats, both young--both
beautiful. Lovers you would have guessed them to be; but such lovers
as Fletcher might have placed under the care of his "Holy
Shepherdess"--forms that might have reclined by

     "The virtuous well, about whose flowery banks
     The nimble-footed fairies dance their rounds
     By the pale moonshine."

For in the love of those persons there seemed a purity and innocence that
suited well their youth and the character of their beauty. Perhaps,
indeed, on the girl's side, love sprung rather from those affections
which the spring of life throws upward to the surface, as the spring of
earth does its flowers, than from that concentrated and deep absorption
of self in self, which alone promises endurance and devotion, and of
which first love, or rather the first fancy, is often less susceptible
than that which grows out of the more thoughtful fondness of maturer
years. Yet he, the lover, was of so rare and singular a beauty, that he
might well seem calculated to awake, to the utmost, the love which wins
the heart through the eyes.

But to begin at the beginning. A lady of fashion had, in the autumn
previous to the year in which our narrative re-opens, taken, with her
daughter, a girl then of about eighteen, the tour of the English lakes.
Charmed by the beauty of Winandermere, and finding one of the most
commodious villas on its banks to be let, they had remained there all the
winter. In the early spring a severe illness had seized the elder lady,
and finding herself, as she slowly recovered, unfit for the gaieties of a
London season, nor unwilling, perhaps,--for she had been a beauty in her
day--to postpone for another year the debut of her daughter, she had
continued her sojourn, with short intervals of absence, for a whole year.
Her husband, a busy man of the world, with occupation in London, and fine
estates in the country, joined them only occasionally, glad to escape the
still beauty of landscapes which brought him no rental, and therefore
afforded no charm to his eye.

In the first month of their arrival at Winandermere, the mother and
daughter had made an eventful acquaintance in the following manner.

One evening, as they were walking on their lawn, which sloped to the
lake, they heard the sound of a flute, played with a skill so exquisite
as to draw them, surprised and spellbound, to the banks. The musician was
a young man, in a boat, which he had moored beneath the trees of their
demesne. He was alone, or, rather, he had one companion, in a large
Newfoundland dog, that sat watchful at the helm of the boat, and appeared
to enjoy the music as much as his master. As the ladies approached the
spot, the dog growled, and the young man ceased, though without seeing
the fair causes of his companion's displeasure. The sun, then setting,
shone full on his countenance as he looked round; and that countenance
was one that might have haunted the nymphs of Delos; the face of Apollo,
not as the hero, but the shepherd--not of the bow, but of the lute--not
the Python-slayer, but the young dreamer by shady places--he whom the
sculptor has portrayed leaning idly against the tree--the boy-god whose
home is yet on earth, and to whom the Oracle and the Spheres are still
unknown.

At that moment the dog leaped from the boat, and the elder lady uttered a
faint cry of alarm, which, directing the attention of the musician,
brought him also ashore. He called off his dog, and apologised, with a
not ungraceful mixture of diffidence and ease, for his intrusion. He was
not aware the place was inhabited--it was a favourite haunt of his--he
lived near. The elder lady was pleased with his address, and struck with
his appearance. There was, indeed, in his manner that indefinable charm,
which is more attractive than mere personal appearance, and which can
never be imitated or acquired. They parted, however, without establishing
any formal acquaintance. A few days after, they met at dinner at a
neighbouring house, and were introduced by name. That of the young man
seemed strange to the ladies; not so theirs to him. He turned pale when
he heard it, and remained silent and aloof the rest of the evening. They
met again and often; and for some weeks--nay, even for months--he
appeared to avoid, as much as possible, the acquaintance so auspiciously
begun; but, by little and little, the beauty of the younger lady seemed
to gain ground on his diffidence or repugnance. Excursions among the
neighbouring mountains threw them together, and at last he fairly
surrendered himself to the charm he had at first determined to resist.

This young man lived on the opposite side of the lake, in a quiet
household, of which he was the idol. His life had been one of almost
monastic purity and repose; his tastes were accomplished, his character
seemed soft and gentle; but beneath that calm exterior, flashes of
passion--the nature of the poet, ardent and sensitive--would break forth
at times. He had scarcely ever, since his earliest childhood, quitted
those retreats; he knew nothing of the world, except in books--books of
poetry and romance. Those with whom he lived--his relations, an old
bachelor, and the cold bachelor's sisters, old maids--seemed equally
innocent and inexperienced. It was a family whom the rich respected and
the poor loved--inoffensive, charitable, and well off. To whatever their
easy fortune might be, he appeared the heir. The name of this young man
was Charles Spencer; the ladies were Mrs. Beaufort, and Camilla her
daughter.

Mrs. Beaufort, though a shrewd woman, did not at first perceive any
danger in the growing intimacy between Camilla and the younger Spencer.
Her daughter was not her favourite--not the object of her one thought or
ambition. Her whole heart and soul were wrapped in her son Arthur, who
lived principally abroad. Clever enough to be considered capable, when he
pleased, of achieving distinction, good-looking enough to be thought
handsome by all who were on the qui vive for an advantageous match,
good-natured enough to be popular with the society in which he lived,
scattering to and fro money without limit,--Arthur Beaufort, at the age
of thirty, had established one of those brilliant and evanescent
reputations, which, for a few years, reward the ambition of the fine
gentleman. It was precisely the reputation that the mother could
appreciate, and which even the more saving father secretly admired,
while, ever respectable in phrase, Mr. Robert Beaufort seemed openly to
regret it. This son was, I say, everything to them; they cared little, in
comparison, for their daughter. How could a daughter keep up the proud
name of Beaufort? However well she might marry, it was another house, not
theirs, which her graces and beauty would adorn. Moreover, the better she
might marry the greater her dowry would naturally be,--the dowry, to go
out of the family! And Arthur, poor fellow! was so extravagant, that
really he would want every sixpence. Such was the reasoning of the
father. The mother reasoned less upon the matter. Mrs. Beaufort, faded
and meagre, in blonde and cashmere, was jealous of the charms of her
daughter; and she herself, growing sentimental and lachrymose as she
advanced in life, as silly women often do, had convinced herself that
Camilla was a girl of no feeling.

Miss Beaufort was, indeed, of a character singularly calm and placid; it
was the character that charms men in proportion, perhaps, to their own
strength and passion. She had been rigidly brought up--her affections had
been very early chilled and subdued; they moved, therefore, now, with
ease, in the serene path of her duties. She held her parents, especially
her father, in reverential fear, and never dreamed of the possibility of
resisting one of their wishes, much less their commands. Pious, kind,
gentle, of a fine and never-ruffled temper, Camilla, an admirable
daughter, was likely to make no less admirable a wife; you might depend
on her principles, if ever you could doubt her affection. Few girls were
more calculated to inspire love. You would scarcely wonder at any folly,
any madness, which even a wise man might commit for her sake. This did
not depend on her beauty alone, though she was extremely lovely rather
than handsome, and of that style of loveliness which is universally
fascinating: the figure, especially as to the arms, throat, and bust, was
exquisite; the mouth dimpled; the teeth dazzling; the eyes of that velvet
softness which to look on is to love. But her charm was in a certain
prettiness of manner, an exceeding innocence, mixed with the most
captivating, because unconscious, coquetry. With all this, there was a
freshness, a joy, a virgin and bewitching candour in her voice, her
laugh--you might almost say in her very movements. Such was Camilla
Beaufort at that age. Such she seemed to others. To her parents she was
only a great girl rather in the way. To Mrs. Beaufort a rival, to Mr.
Beaufort an encumbrance on the property.




CHAPTER II.

     * * * "The moon
     Saddening the solemn night, yet with that sadness
     Mingling the breath of undisturbed Peace."
                WILSON: City of the Plague

     * * * "Tell me his fate.
     Say that he lives, or say that he is dead
     But tell me--tell me!
     * * * * * *
     I see him not--some cloud envelopes him."--Ibid.

One day (nearly a year after their first introduction) as with a party of
friends Camilla and Charles Spencer were riding through those wild and
romantic scenes which lie between the sunny Winandermere and the dark and
sullen Wastwater, their conversation fell on topics more personal than it
had hitherto done, for as yet, if they felt love, they had never spoken
of it.

The narrowness of the path allowed only two to ride abreast, and the two
to whom I confine my description were the last of the little band.

"How I wish Arthur were here!" said Camilla; "I am sure you would like
him."

"Are you? He lives much in the world--the world of which I know nothing.
Are we then characters to suit each other?"

"He is the kindest--the best of human beings!" said Camilla, rather
evasively, but with more warmth than usually dwelt in her soft and low
voice.

"Is he so kind?" returned Spencer, musingly. "Well, it may be so. And who
would not be kind to you? Ah! it is a beautiful connexion that of brother
and sister--I never had a sister!"

"Have you then a brother?" asked Camilla, in some surprise, and turning
her ingenuous eyes full on her companion.

Spencer's colour rose--rose to his temples: his voice trembled as he
answered, "No;--no brother!" then, speaking in a rapid and hurried tone,
he continued, "My life has been a strange and lonely one. I am an orphan.
I have mixed with few of my own age: my boyhood and youth have been spent
in these scenes; my education such as Nature and books could bestow, with
scarcely any guide or tutor save my guardian--the dear old man! Thus the
world, the stir of cities, ambition, enterprise,--all seem to me as
things belonging to a distant land to which I shall never wander. Yet I
have had my dreams, Miss Beaufort; dreams of which these solitudes still
form a part--but solitudes not unshared. And lately I have thought that
those dreams might be prophetic. And you--do you love the world?"

"I, like you, have scarcely tried it," said Camilla, with a sweet laugh.
"but I love the country better,--oh! far better than what little I have
seen of towns. But for you," she continued with a charming hesitation, "a
man is so different from us,--for you to shrink from the world--you, so
young and with talents too--nay, it is true!--it seems to me strange."

"It may be so, but I cannot tell you what feelings of dread--what vague
forebodings of terror seize me if I carry my thoughts beyond these
retreats. Perhaps my good guardian--"

"Your uncle?" interrupted Camilla.

"Ay, my uncle--may have contributed to engender feelings, as you say,
strange at my age; but still--"

"Still what!"

"My earlier childhood," continued Spencer, breathing hard and turning
pale, "was not spent in the happy home I have now; it was passed in a
premature ordeal of suffering and pain. Its recollections have left a
dark shadow on my mind, and under that shadow lies every thought that
points towards the troublous and labouring career of other men. But," he
resumed after a pause, and in a deep, earnest, almost solemn voice,--
"but after all, is this cowardice or wisdom? I find no monotony--no tedium
in this quiet life. Is there not a certain morality--a certain religion
in the spirit of a secluded and country existence? In it we do not know
the evil passions which ambition and strife are said to arouse. I never
feel jealous or envious of other men; I never know what it is to hate; my
boat, my horse, our garden, music, books, and, if I may dare to say so,
the solemn gladness that comes from the hopes of another life,--these
fill up every hour with thoughts and pursuits, peaceful, happy, and
without a cloud, till of late, when--when--"

"When what?" said Camilla, innocently.

"When I have longed, but did not dare to ask another, if to share such a
lot would content her!"

He bent, as he spoke, his soft blue eyes full upon the blushing face of
her whom he addressed, and Camilla half smiled and half sighed:

"Our companions are far before us," said she, turning away her face, "and
see, the road is now smooth." She quickened her horse's pace as she said
this; and Spencer, too new to women to interpret favourably her evasion
of his words and looks, fell into a profound silence which lasted during
the rest of their excursion.

As towards the decline of day he bent his solitary way home, emotions and
passions to which his life had hitherto been a stranger, and which, alas!
he had vainly imagined a life so tranquil would everlastingly restrain,
swelled his heart.

"She does not love me," he muttered, half aloud; "she will leave me, and
what then will all the beauty of the landscape seem in my eyes? And how
dare I look up to her? Even if her cold, vain mother--her father, the
man, they say, of forms and scruples, were to consent, would they not
question closely of my true birth and origin? And if the one blot were
overlooked, is there no other? His early habits and vices, his?--a
brother's--his unknown career terminating at any day, perhaps, in shame,
in crime, in exposure, in the gibbet,--will they overlook this?" As he
spoke, he groaned aloud, and, as if impatient to escape himself, spurred
on his horse and rested not till he reached the belt of trim and sober
evergreens that surrounded his hitherto happy home.

Leaving his horse to find its way to the stables, the young man passed
through rooms, which he found deserted, to the lawn on the other side,
which sloped to the smooth waters of the lake.

Here, seated under the one large tree that formed the pride of the lawn,
over which it cast its shadow broad and far, he perceived his guardian
poring idly over an oft-read book, one of those books of which literary
dreamers are apt to grow fanatically fond--books by the old English
writers, full of phrases and conceits half quaint and half sublime,
interspersed with praises of the country, imbued with a poetical rather
than orthodox religion, and adorned with a strange mixture of monastic
learning and aphorisms collected from the weary experience of actual
life.

To the left, by a greenhouse, built between the house and the lake, might
be seen the white dress and lean form of the eldest spinster sister, to
whom the care of the flowers--for she had been early crossed in love--was
consigned; at a little distance from her, the other two were seated at
work, and conversing in whispers, not to disturb their studious brother,
no doubt upon the nephew, who was their all in all. It was the calmest
hour of eve, and the quiet of the several forms, their simple and
harmless occupations--if occupations they might be called--the breathless
foliage rich in the depth of summer; behind, the old-fashioned house,
unpretending, not mean, its open doors and windows giving glimpses of the
comfortable repose within; before, the lake, without a ripple and
catching the gleam of the sunset clouds,--all made a picture of that
complete tranquillity and stillness, which sometimes soothes and
sometimes saddens us, according as we are in the temper to woo CONTENT.

The young man glided to his guardian and touched his shoulder,--"Sir, may
I speak to you?--Hush! they need not see us now! it is only you I would
speak with."

The elder Spencer rose; and, with his book still in his hand, moved side
by side with his nephew under the shadow of the tree and towards a walk
to the right, which led for a short distance along the margin of the
lake, backed by the interlaced boughs of a thick copse.

"Sir!" said the young man, speaking first, and with a visible effort,
"your cautions have been in vain! I love this girl--this daughter of the
haughty Beauforts! I love her--better than life I love her!"

"My poor boy," said the uncle tenderly, and with a simple fondness
passing his arm over the speaker's shoulder, "do not think I can chide
you--I know what it is to love in vain!"

"In vain!--but why in vain?" exclaimed the younger Spencer, with a
vehemence that had in it something of both agony and fierceness. "She may
love me--she shall love me!" and almost for the first time in his life,
the proud consciousness of his rare gifts of person spoke in his kindled
eye and dilated stature. "Do they not say that Nature has been favourable
to me?--What rival have I here?--Is she not young?--And (sinking his
voice till it almost breathed like music) is not love contagious?"

"I do not doubt that she may love you--who would not?--but--but--the
parents, will they ever consent?"

"Nay!" answered the lover, as with that inconsistency common to passion,
he now argued stubbornly against those fears in another to which he had
just before yielded in himself,--"Nay!--after all, am I not of their own
blood?--Do I not come from the elder branch?--Was I not reared in equal
luxury and with higher hopes?--And my mother--my poor mother--did she
not to the last maintain our birthright--her own honour?--Has not
accident or law unjustly stripped us of our true station?--Is it not for
us to forgive spoliation?--Am I not, in fact, the person who descends,
who forgets the wrongs of the dead--the heritage of the living?"

The young man had never yet assumed this tone--had never yet shown that
he looked back to the history connected with his birth with the feelings
of resentment and the remembrance of wrong. It was a tone contrary to his
habitual calm and contentment--it struck forcibly on his listener--and
the elder Spencer was silent for some moments before he replied, "If you
feel thus (and it is natural), you have yet stronger reason to struggle
against this unhappy affection."

"I have been conscious of that, sir," replied the young man, mournfully.
"I have struggled!--and I say again it is in vain! I turn, then, to face
the obstacles! My birth--let us suppose that the Beauforts overlook it.
Did you not tell me that Mr. Beaufort wrote to inform you of the abrupt
and intemperate visit of my brother--of his determination never to
forgive it? I think I remember something of this years ago."

"It is true!" said the guardian; "and the conduct of that brother is, in
fact, the true cause why you never ought to reassume your proper
name!--never to divulge it, even to the family with whom you connect
yourself by marriage; but, above all, to the Beauforts, who for that
cause, if that cause alone, would reject your suit."

The young man groaned--placed one hand before his eyes, and with the
other grasped his guardian's arm convulsively, as if to check him from
proceeding farther; but the good man, not divining his meaning, and
absorbed in his subject, went on, irritating the wound he had touched.

"Reflect!--your brother in boyhood--in the dying hours of his mother,
scarcely saved from the crime of a thief, flying from a friendly pursuit
with a notorious reprobate; afterwards implicated in some discreditable
transaction about a horse, rejecting all--every hand that could save him,
clinging by choice to the lowest companions and the meanest-habits,
disappearing from the country, and last seen, ten years ago--the beard
not yet on his chin--with that same reprobate of whom I have spoken, in
Paris; a day or so only before his companion, a coiner--a murderer--fell
by the hands of the police! You remember that when, in your seventeenth
year, you evinced some desire to retake your name--nay, even to re-find
that guilty brother--I placed before you, as a sad and terrible duty,
the newspaper that contained the particulars of the death and the former
adventures of that wretched accomplice, the notorious Gawtrey.
And,--telling you that Mr. Beaufort had long since written to inform me
that his own son and Lord Lilburne had seen your brother in company with
the miscreant just before his fate--nay, was, in all probability, the
very youth described in the account as found in his chamber and escaping
the pursuit--I asked you if you would now venture to leave that
disguise--that shelter under which you would for ever be safe from the
opprobrium of the world--from the shame that, sooner or later, your
brother must bring upon your name!"

"It is true--it is true!" said the pretended nephew, in a tone of great
anguish, and with trembling lips which the blood had forsaken. "Horrible
to look either to his past or his future! But--but--we have heard of him
no more--no one ever has learned his fate. Perhaps--perhaps" (and he
seemed to breathe more freely)--"my brother is no more!"

And poor Catherine--and poor Philip---had it come to this? Did the one
brother feel a sentiment of release, of joy, in conjecturing the
death--perhaps the death of violence and shame--of his fellow-orphan? Mr.
Spencer shook his head doubtingly, but made no reply. The young man
sighed heavily, and strode on for several paces in advance of his
protector, then, turning back, he laid his hand on his shoulder.

"Sir," he said in a low voice and with downcast eyes, "you are right:
this disguise--this false name--must be for ever borne! Why need the
Beauforts, then, ever know who and what I am? Why not as your
nephew--nephew to one so respected and exemplary--proffer my claims and
plead my cause?"

"They are proud--so it is said--and worldly;--you know my family was in
trade--still--but--" and here Mr. Spencer broke off from a tone of doubt
into that of despondency, "but, recollect, though Mrs. Beaufort may not
remember the circumstance, both her husband and her son have seen
me--have known my name. Will they not suspect, when once introduced to
you, the stratagem that has been adopted?--Nay, has it not been from that
very fear that you have wished me to shun the acquaintance of the family?
Both Mr. Beaufort and Arthur saw you in childhood, and their suspicion
once aroused, they may recognise you at once; your features are
developed, but not altogether changed. Come, come!--my adopted, my dear
son, shake off this fantasy betimes: let us change the scene: I will
travel with you--read with you--go where--"

"Sir--sir!" exclaimed the lover, smiting his breast, "you are ever kind,
compassionate, generous; but do not--do not rob me of hope. I have
never--thanks to you--felt, save in a momentary dejection, the curse of
my birth. Now how heavily it falls! Where shall I look for comfort?"

As he spoke, the sound of a bell broke over the translucent air and the
slumbering lake: it was the bell that every eve and morn summoned that
innocent and pious family to prayer. The old man's face changed as he
heard it--changed from its customary indolent, absent, listless aspect,
into an expression of dignity, even of animation.

"Hark!" he said, pointing upwards; "Hark! it chides you. Who shall say,
'Where shall I look for comfort' while God is in the heavens?"

The young man, habituated to the faith and observance of religion, till
they had pervaded his whole nature, bowed his head in rebuke; a few tears
stole from his eyes.

"You are right, father--," he said tenderly, giving emphasis to the
deserved and endearing name. "I am comforted already!"

So, side by side, silently and noiselessly, the young and the old man
glided back to the house. When they gained the quiet room in which the
family usually assembled, the sisters and servants were already gathered
round the table. They knelt as the loiterers entered. It was the wonted
duty of the younger Spencer to read the prayers; and, as he now did so,
his graceful countenance more hushed, his sweet voice more earnest than
usual, in its accents: who that heard could have deemed the heart within
convulsed by such stormy passions? Or was it not in that hour--that
solemn commune--soothed from its woe? O beneficent Creator! thou who
inspirest all the tribes of earth with the desire to pray, hast Thou not,
in that divinest instinct, bestowed on us the happiest of Thy gifts?




CHAPTER III.

   "Bertram. I mean the business is not ended, as fearing to hear of
   it hereafter.

   "1st Soldier. Do you know this Captain Dumain?"
                    All's Well that Ends Well.

One evening, some weeks after the date of the last chapter, Mr. Robert
Beaufort sat alone in his house in Berkeley Square. He had arrived that
morning from Beaufort Court, on his way to Winandermere, to which he was
summoned by a letter from his wife. That year was an agitated and
eventful epoch in England; and Mr. Beaufort had recently gone through the
bustle of an election--not, indeed, contested; for his popularity and his
property defied all rivalry in his own county.

The rich man had just dined, and was seated in lazy enjoyment by the side
of the fire, which he had had lighted, less for the warmth--though it was
then September--than for the companionship;--engaged in finishing his
madeira, and, with half-closed eyes, munching his devilled biscuits. "I
am sure," he soliloquised while thus employed, "I don't know exactly what
to do,--my wife ought to decide matters where the girl is concerned; a
son is another affair--that's the use of a wife. Humph!"

"Sir," said a fat servant, opening the door, "a gentleman wishes to see
you upon very particular business."

"Business at this hour! Tell him to go to Mr. Blackwell."

"Yes, sir."

"Stay! perhaps he is a constituent, Simmons. Ask him if he belongs to the
county."

"Yes, Sir."

"A great estate is a great plague," muttered Mr. Beaufort; "so is a great
constituency. It is pleasanter, after all, to be in the House of Lords. I
suppose I could if I wished; but then one must rat--that's a bore. I will
consult Lilburne. Humph!"

The servant re-appeared. "Sir, he says he does belong to the county."

"Show him in!--What sort of a person?"

"A sort of gentleman, sir; that is," continued the butler, mindful of
five shillings just slipped within his palm by the stranger, "quite the
gentleman."

"More wine, then-stir up the fire."

In a few moments the visitor was ushered into the apartment. He was a man
between fifty and sixty, but still aiming at the appearance of youth. His
dress evinced military pretensions; consisting of a blue coat, buttoned
up to the chin, a black stock, loose trousers of the fashion called
Cossacks, and brass spurs. He wore a wig, of great luxuriance in curl and
rich auburn in hue; with large whiskers of the same colour slightly
tinged with grey at the roots. By the imperfect light of the room it was
not perceptible that the clothes were somewhat threadbare, and that the
boots, cracked at the side, admitted glimpses of no very white hosiery
within. Mr. Beaufort, reluctantly rising from his repose and gladly
sinking back to it, motioned to a chair, and put on a doleful and
doubtful semi-smile of welcome. The servant placed the wine and glasses
before the stranger;--the host and visitor were alone.

"So, sir," said Mr. Beaufort, languidly, "you are from ------shire; I
suppose about the canal,--may I offer you a glass of wine?"

"Most hauppy, sir--your health!" and the stranger, with evident
satisfaction, tossed off a bumper to so complimentary a toast.

"About the canal?" repeated Mr. Beaufort.

"No, sir, no! You parliament gentlemen must hauve a vaust deal of trouble
on your haunds--very foine property I understaund yours is, sir. Sir,
allow me to drink the health of your good lady!"

"I thank you, Mr.--, Mr.--, what did you say your name was?--I beg you a
thousand pardons."

"No offaunce in the least, sir; no ceremony with me--this is perticler
good madeira!"

"May I ask how I can serve you?" said Mr. Beaufort, struggling between
the sense of annoyance and the fear to be uncivil. "And pray, had I the
honour of your vote in the last election!"

"No, sir, no! It's mauny years since I have been in your part of the
world, though I was born there."

"Then I don't exactly see--" began Mr. Beaufort, and stopped with
dignity.

"Why I call on you," put in the stranger, tapping his boots with his
cane; and then recognising the rents, he thrust both feet under the
table.

"I don't say that; but at this hour I am seldom at leisure--not but what
I am always at the service of a constituent, that is, a voter! Mr.--, I
beg your pardon, I did not catch your name."

"Sir," said the stranger, helping himself to a third glass of wine;
"here's a health to your young folk! And now to business." Here the
visitor, drawing his chair nearer to his host, assuming a more grave
aspect, and dropping something of his stilted pronunciation, continued,
"You had a brother?"

"Well, sir," said Mr. Beaufort, with a very changed countenance.

"And that brother had a wife!"

Had a cannon gone off in the ear of Mr. Robert Beaufort, it could not
have shocked or stunned him more than that simple word with which his
companion closed his sentence. He fell back in his chair--his lips apart,
his eyes fixed on the stranger. He sought to speak, but his tongue clove
to his mouth.

"That wife had two sons, born in wedlock!"

"It is false!" cried Mr. Beaufort, finding a voice at length, and
springing to his feet. "And who are you, sir? and what do you mean by--"

"Hush!" said the stranger, perfectly unconcerned, and regaining the
dignity of his haw-haw enunciation, "better not let the servants hear
aunything. For my pawt, I think servants hauve the longest pair of ears
of auny persons, not excepting jauckasses; their ears stretch from the
pauntry to the parlour. Hush, sir!--perticler good madeira, this!"

"Sir!" said Mr. Beaufort, struggling to preserve, or rather recover, his
temper, "your conduct is exceedingly strange; but allow me to say that
you are wholly misinformed. My brother never did marry; and if you have
anything to say on behalf of those young men--his natural sons--I refer
you to my solicitor, Mr. Blackwell, of Lincoln's Inn. I wish you a good
evening."

"Sir!--the same to you--I won't trouble you auny farther; it was only out
of koindness I called--I am not used to be treated so--sir, I am in his
maujesty's service--sir, you will foind that the witness of the marriage
is forthcoming; you will think of me then, and, perhaps, be sorry. But
I've done, 'Your most obedient humble, sir!'" And the stranger, with a
flourish of his hand, turned to the door. At the sight of this
determination on the part of his strange guest, a cold, uneasy, vague
presentiment seized Mr. Beaufort. There, not flashed, but rather froze,
across him the recollection of his brother's emphatic but disbelieved
assurances--of Catherine's obstinate assertion of her son's alleged
rights--rights which her lawsuit, undertaken on her own behalf, had not
compromised;--a fresh lawsuit might be instituted by the son, and the
evidence which had been wanting in the former suit might be found at
last. With this remembrance and these reflections came a horrible
train of shadowy fears,--witnesses, verdict, surrender,
spoliation--arrears--ruin!

The man, who had gained the door, turned back and looked at him with a
complacent, half-triumphant leer upon his impudent, reckless face.

"Sir," then said Mr. Beaufort, mildly, "I repeat that you had better see
Mr. Blackwell."

The tempter saw his triumph. "I have a secret to communicate which it is
best for you to keep snug. How mauny people do you wish me to see about
it? Come, sir, there is no need of a lawyer; or, if you think so, tell
him yourself. Now or never, Mr. Beaufort."

"I can have no objection to hear anything you have to say, sir," said the
rich man, yet more mildly than before; and then added, with a forced
smile, "though my rights are already too confirmed to admit of a doubt."

Without heeding the last assertion, the stranger coolly walked back,
resumed his seat, and, placing both arms on the table and looking Mr.
Beaufort full in the face, thus proceeded,--

"Sir, of the marriage between Philip Beaufort and Catherine Morton there
were two witnesses: the one is dead, the other went abroad--the last is
alive still!"

"If so," said Mr. Beaufort, who, not naturally deficient in cunning and
sense, felt every faculty now prodigiously sharpened, and was resolved to
know the precise grounds for alarm,--"if so, why did not the man--it was
a servant, sir, a man-servant, whom Mrs. Morton pretended to rely
on--appear on the trial?"

"Because, I say, he was abroad and could not be found; or, the search
after him miscaurried, from clumsy management and a lack of the rhino."

"Hum!" said Mr. Beaufort--"one witness--one witness, observe, there is
only one!--does not alarm me much. It is not what a man deposes, it is
what a jury believe, sir! Moreover, what has become of the young men?
They have never been heard of for years. They are probably dead; if so, I
am heir-at-law!"

"I know where one of them is to be found at all events."

"The elder?--Philip?" asked Mr. Beaufort anxiously, and with a fearful
remembrance of the energetic and vehement character prematurely exhibited
by his nephew.

"Pawdon me! I need not aunswer that question."

"Sir! a lawsuit of this nature, against one in possession, is very
doubtful, and," added the rich man, drawing himself up--"and, perhaps
very expensive!"

"The young man I speak of does not want friends, who will not grudge the
money."

"Sir!" said Mr. Beaufort, rising and placing his back to the fire--"sir!
what is your object in this communication? Do you come, on the part of
the young man, to propose a compromise? If so, be plain!"

"I come on my own pawt. It rests with you to say if the young men shall
never know it!"

"And what do you want?"

"Five hundred a year as long as the secret is kept."

"And how can you prove that there is a secret, after all?"

"By producing the witness if you wish."

"Will he go halves in the L500. a year?" asked Mr. Beaufort artfully.

"That is moy affair, sir," replied the stranger.

"What you say," resumed Mr. Beaufort, "is so extraordinary--so
unexpected, and still, to me, seems so improbable, that I must have time
to consider. If you will call on me in a week, and produce your facts, I
will give you my answer. I am not the man, sir, to wish to keep any one
out of his true rights, but I will not yield, on the other hand, to
imposture."

"If you don't want to keep them out of their rights, I'd best go and tell
my young gentlemen," said the stranger, with cool impudence.

"I tell you I must have time," repeated Beaufort, disconcerted. "Besides,
I have not myself alone to look to, sir," he added, with dignified
emphasis--"I am a father!"

"This day week I will call on you again. Good evening, Mr. Beaufort!"

And the man stretched out his hand with an air of amicable condescension.
The respectable Mr. Beaufort changed colour, hesitated, and finally
suffered two fingers to be enticed into the grasp of the visitor, whom he
ardently wished at that bourne whence no visitor returns.

The stranger smiled, stalked to the door, laid his finger on his lip,
winked knowingly, and vanished, leaving Mr. Beaufort a prey to such
feelings of uneasiness, dread, and terror, as may be experienced by a man
whom, on some inch or two of slippery rock, the tides have suddenly
surrounded.

He remained perfectly still for some moments, and then glancing round the
dim and spacious room, his eyes took in all the evidences of luxury and
wealth which it betrayed. Above the huge sideboard, that on festive days
groaned beneath the hoarded weight of the silver heirlooms of the
Beauforts, hung, in its gilded frame, a large picture of the family seat,
with the stately porticoes--the noble park--the groups of deer; and
around the wall, interspersed here and there with ancestral portraits of
knight and dame, long since gathered to their rest, were placed
masterpieces of the Italian and Flemish art, which generation after
generation had slowly accumulated, till the Beaufort Collection had
become the theme of connoisseurs and the study of young genius.

The still room, the dumb pictures--even the heavy sideboard seemed to
gain voice, and speak to him audibly. He thrust his hand into the folds
of his waistcoat, and griped his own flesh convulsively; then, striding
to and fro the apartment, he endeavoured to re-collect his thoughts.

"I dare not consult Mrs. Beaufort," he muttered; "no--no,--she is a fool!
Besides, she's not in the way. No time to lose--I will go to Lilburne."

Scarce had that thought crossed him than he hastened to put it into
execution. He rang for his hat and gloves and sallied out on foot to Lord
Lilburne's house in Park Lane,--the distance was short, and impatience
has long strides.

He knew Lord Lilburne was in town, for that personage loved London for
its own sake; and even in September he would have said with the old Duke
of Queensberry, when some one observed that London was very empty--"Yes;
but it is fuller than the country."

Mr. Beaufort found Lord Lilburne reclined on a sofa, by the open window
of his drawing-room, beyond which the early stars shone upon the
glimmering trees and silver turf of the deserted park. Unlike the simple
dessert of his respectable brother-in-law, the costliest fruits, the
richest wines of France, graced the small table placed beside his sofa;
and as the starch man of forms and method entered the room at one door, a
rustling silk, that vanished through the aperture of another, seemed to
betray tokens of a tete-a-tete, probably more agreeable to Lilburne than
the one with which only our narrative is concerned.

It would have been a curious study for such men as love to gaze upon the
dark and wily features of human character, to have watched the contrast
between the reciter and the listener, as Beaufort, with much
circumlocution, much affected disdain and real anxiety, narrated the
singular and ominous conversation between himself and his visitor.

The servant, in introducing Mr. Beaufort, had added to the light of the
room; and the candles shone full on the face and form of Mr. Beaufort.
All about that gentleman was so completely in unison with the world's
forms and seemings, that there was something moral in the very sight of
him! Since his accession of fortune he had grown less pale and less thin;
the angles in his figure were filled up. On his brow there was no trace
of younger passion. No able vice had ever sharpened the expression--no
exhausting vice ever deepened the lines. He was the beau-ideal of a
county member,--so sleek, so staid, so business-like; yet so clean, so
neat, so much the gentleman. And now there was a kind of pathos in his
grey hairs, his nervous smile, his agitated hands, his quick and uneasy
transition of posture, the tremble of his voice. He would have appeared
to those who saw, but heard not, The Good Man in trouble. Cold,
motionless, speechless, seemingly apathetic, but in truth observant,
still reclined on the sofa, his head thrown back, but one eye fixed on
his companion, his hands clasped before him, Lord Lilburne listened; and
in that repose, about his face, even about his person, might be read the
history of how different a life and character! What native acuteness in
the stealthy eye! What hardened resolve in the full nostril and firm
lips! What sardonic contempt for all things in the intricate lines about
the mouth. What animal enjoyment of all things so despised in that
delicate nervous system, which, combined with original vigour of
constitution, yet betrayed itself in the veins on the hands and temples,
the occasional quiver of the upper lip! His was the frame above all
others the most alive to pleasure--deep-chested, compact, sinewy, but
thin to leanness--delicate in its texture and extremities, almost to
effeminacy. The indifference of the posture, the very habit of the
dress--not slovenly, indeed, but easy, loose, careless--seemed to speak
of the man's manner of thought and life--his profound disdain of
externals.

Not till Beaufort had concluded did Lord Lilburne change his position or
open his lips; and then, turning to his brother-in-law his calm face, he
said drily,--

"I always thought your brother had married that woman; he was the sort of
man to do it. Besides, why should she have gone to law without a vestige
of proof, unless she was convinced of her rights? Imposture never
proceeds without some evidence. Innocence, like a fool as it is, fancies
it has only to speak to be believed. But there is no cause for alarm."

"No cause!--And yet you think there was a marriage."

"It is quite clear," continued Lilburne, without heeding this
interruption; "that the man, whatever his evidence, has not got
sufficient proofs. If he had, he would go to the young men rather than
you: it is evident that they would promise infinitely larger rewards than
he could expect from yourself. Men are always more generous with what
they expect than with what they have. All rogues know this. 'Tis the way
Jews and usurers thrive upon heirs rather than possessors; 'tis the
philosophy of post-obits. I dare say the man has found out the real
witness of the marriage, but ascertained, also, that the testimony of
that witness would not suffice to dispossess you. He might be
discredited--rich men have a way sometimes of discrediting poor
witnesses. Mind, he says nothing of the lost copy of the
register--whatever may be the value of that document, which I am not
lawyer enough to say--of any letters of your brother avowing the
marriage. Consider, the register itself is destroyed--the clergyman dead.
Pooh! make yourself easy."

"True," said Mr. Beaufort, much comforted; "what a memory you have!"

"Naturally. Your wife is my sister--I hate poor relations--and I was
therefore much interested in your accession and your lawsuit. No--you may
feel--at rest on this matter, so far as a successful lawsuit is
concerned. The next question is, Will you have a lawsuit at all? and is
it worth while buying this fellow? That I can't say unless I see him
myself."

"I wish to Heaven you would!"

"Very willingly: 'tis a sort of thing I like--I'm fond of dealing with
rogues--it amuses me. This day week? I'll be at your house--your proxy; I
shall do better than Black well. And since you say you are wanted at the
Lakes, go down, and leave all to me."

"A thousand thanks. I can't say how grateful I am. You certainly are the
kindest and cleverest person in the world."

"You can't think worse of the world's cleverness and kindness than I do,"
was Lilburne's rather ambiguous answer to the compliment. "But why does
my sister want to see you?"

"Oh, I forgot!--here is her letter. I was going to ask your advice in
this too."

Lord Lilburne took the letter, and glanced over it with the rapid eye of
a man accustomed to seize in everything the main gist and pith.

"An offer to my pretty niece--Mr. Spencer--requires no fortune--his uncle
will settle all his own--(poor silly old man!) All! Why that's only
L1000. a year. You don't think much of this, eh? How my sister can even
ask you about it puzzles me."

"Why, you see, Lilburne," said Mr. Beaufort, rather embarrassed, "there
is no question of fortune--nothing to go out of the family; and, really,
Arthur is so expensive, and, if she were to marry well, I could not give
her less than fifteen or twenty thousand pounds."

"Aha!--I see--every man to his taste: here a daughter--there a dowry. You
are devilish fond of money, Beaufort. Any pleasure in avarice,--eh?"

Mr. Beaufort coloured very much at the remark and the question, and,
forcing a smile, said,--

"You are severe. But you don't know what it is to be father to a young
man."

"Then a great many young women have told me sad fibs! But you are right
in your sense of the phrase. No, I never had an heir apparent, thank
Heaven! No children imposed upon me by law--natural enemies, to count the
years between the bells that ring for their majority, and those that will
toll for my decease. It is enough for me that I have a brother and a
sister--that my brother's son will inherit my estates--and that, in the
meantime, he grudges me every tick in that clock. What then? If he had
been my uncle, I had done the same. Meanwhile, I see as little of him as
good breeding will permit. On the face of a rich man's heir is written
the rich man's memento mori! But revenons a nos moutons. Yes, if you give
your daughter no fortune, your death will be so much the more profitable
to Arthur!"

"Really, you take such a very odd view of the matter," said Mr. Beaufort,
exceedingly shocked. "But I see you don't like the marriage; perhaps you
are right."

"Indeed, I have no choice in the matter; I never interfere between father
and children. If I had children myself, I will, however, tell you, for
your comfort, that they might marry exactly as they pleased--I would
never thwart them. I should be too happy to get them out of my way. If
they married well, one would have all the credit; if ill, one would have
an excuse to disown them. As I said before, I dislike poor relations.
Though if Camilla lives at the Lakes when she is married, it is but a
letter now and then; and that's your wife's trouble, not yours. But,
Spencer--what Spencer!--what family? Was there not a Mr. Spencer who
lived at Winandermere--who----"

"Who went with us in search of these boys, to be sure. Very likely the
same--nay, he must be so. I thought so at the first."

"Go down to the Lakes to-morrow. You may hear something about your
nephews;" at that word Mr. Beaufort winced.

"'Tis well to be forearmed."

"Many thanks for all your counsel," said Beaufort, rising, and glad to
escape; for though both he and his wife held the advice of Lord Lilburne
in the highest reverence, they always smarted beneath the quiet and
careless stings which accompanied the honey. Lord Lilburne was singular
in this,--he would give to any one who asked it, but especially a
relation, the best advice in his power; and none gave better, that is,
more worldly advice. Thus, without the least benevolence, he was often of
the greatest service; but he could not help mixing up the draught with as
much aloes and bitter-apple as possible. His intellect delighted in
exhibiting itself even gratuitously. His heart equally delighted in that
only cruelty which polished life leaves to its tyrants towards their
equals,--thrusting pins into the feelings and breaking self-love upon the
wheel. But just as Mr. Beaufort had drawn on his gloves and gained the
doorway, a thought seemed to strike Lord Lilburne:

"By the by," he said, "you understand that when I promised I would try
and settle the matter for you, I only meant that I would learn the exact
causes you have for alarm on the one hand, or for a compromise with this
fellow on the other. If the last be advisable you are aware that I cannot
interfere. I might get into a scrape; and Beaufort Court is not my
property."

"I don't quite understand you."

"I am plain enough, too. If there is money to be given it is given in
order to defeat what is called justice--to keep these nephews of yours
out of their inheritance. Now, should this ever come to light, it would
have an ugly appearance. They who risk the blame must be the persons who
possess the estate."

"If you think it dishonourable or dishonest--" said Beaufort,
irresolutely.

"I! I never can advise as to the feelings; I can only advise as to the
policy. If you don't think there ever was a marriage, it may, still, be
honest in you to prevent the bore of a lawsuit."

"But if he can prove to me that they were married?"

"Pooh!" said Lilburne, raising his eyebrows with a slight expression of
contemptuous impatience; "it rests on yourself whether or not he prove it
to YOUR satisfaction! For my part, as a third person, I am persuaded the
marriage did take place. But if I had Beaufort Court, my convictions
would be all the other way. You understand. I am too happy to serve you.
But no man can be expected to jeopardise his character, or coquet with
the law, unless it be for his own individual interest. Then, of course,
he must judge for himself. Adieu! I expect some friends
foreigners--Carlists--to whist. You won't join them?"

"I never play, you know. You will write to me at Winandermere: and, at
all events, you will keep off the man till I return?"

"Certainly."

Beaufort, whom the latter part of the conversation had comforted far less
than the former, hesitated, and turned the door-handle three or four
times; but, glancing towards his brother-in-law, he saw in that cold face
so little sympathy in the struggle between interest and conscience, that
he judged it best to withdraw at once.

As soon as he was gone, Lilburne summoned his valet, who had lived with
him many years, and who was his confidant in all the adventurous
gallantries with which he still enlivened the autumn of his life.

"Dykeman," said he, "you have let out that lady?"

"Yes, my lord."

"I am not at home if she calls again. She is stupid; she cannot get the
girl to come to her again. I shall trust you with an adventure,
Dykeman--an adventure that will remind you of our young days, man. This
charming creature--I tell you she is irresistible--her very oddities
bewitch me. You must--well, you look uneasy. What would you say?"

"My lord, I have found out more about her--and--and----"

"Well, well."

The valet drew near and whispered something in his master's ear.

"They are idiots who say it, then," answered Lilburne. "And," faltered
the man, with the shame of humanity on his face, "she is not worthy your
lordship's notice--a poor--"

"Yes, I know she is poor; and, for that reason, there can be no
difficulty, if the thing is properly managed. You never, perhaps, heard
of a certain Philip, king of Macedon; but I will tell you what he once
said, as well as I can remember it: 'Lead an ass with a pannier of gold;
send the ass through the gates of a city, and all the sentinels will run
away.' Poor!--where there is love, there is charity also, Dykeman.
Besides--"

Here Lilburne's countenance assumed a sudden aspect of dark and angry
passion,--he broke off abruptly, rose, and paced the room, muttering to
himself. Suddenly he stopped, and put his hand to his hip, as an
expression of pain again altered the character of his face.

"The limb pains me still! Dykeman--I was scarce twenty-one--when I became
a cripple for life." He paused, drew a long breath, smiled, rubbed his
hands gently, and added: "Never fear--you shall be the ass; and thus
Philip of Macedon begins to fill the pannier." And he tossed his purse
into the hands of the valet, whose face seemed to lose its anxious
embarrassment at the touch of the gold. Lilburne glanced at him with a
quiet sneer: "Go!--I will give you my orders when I undress."

"Yes!" he repeated to himself, "the limb pains me still. But he
died!--shot as a man would shoot a jay or a polecat!

"I have the newspaper still in that drawer. He died an outcast--a
felon--a murderer! And I blasted his name--and I seduced his
mistress--and I--am John Lord Lilburne!"

About ten o'clock, some half-a-dozen of those gay lovers of London, who,
like Lilburne, remain faithful to its charms when more vulgar worshippers
desert its sunburnt streets--mostly single men--mostly men of middle
age--dropped in. And soon after came three or four high-born foreigners,
who had followed into England the exile of the unfortunate Charles X.
Their looks, at once proud and sad--their moustaches curled
downward--their beards permitted to grow--made at first a strong contrast
with the smooth gay Englishmen. But Lilburne, who was fond of French
society, and who, when he pleased, could be courteous and agreeable, soon
placed the exiles at their ease; and, in the excitement of high play, all
differences of mood and humour speedily vanished. Morning was in the
skies before they sat down to supper.

"You have been very fortunate to-night, milord," said one of the
Frenchmen, with an envious tone of congratulation.

"But, indeed," said another, who, having been several times his host's
partner, had won largely, "you are the finest player, milord, I ever
encountered."

"Always excepting Monsieur Deschapelles and--," replied Lilburne,
indifferently. And, turning the conversation, he asked one of the guests
why he had not introduced him to a French officer of merit and
distinction; "With whom," said Lord Lilburne, "I understand that you are
intimate, and of whom I hear your countrymen very often speak."

"You mean De Vaudemont. Poor fellow!" said a middle-aged Frenchman, of a
graver appearance than the rest.

"But why 'poor fellow!' Monsieur de Liancourt?"

"He was rising so high before the revolution. There was not a braver
officer in the army. But he is but a soldier of fortune, and his career
is closed."

"Till the Bourbons return," said another Carlist, playing with his
moustache.

"You will really honour me much by introducing me to him," said Lord
Lilburne. "De Vaudemont--it is a good name,--perhaps, too, he plays at
whist."

"But," observed one of the Frenchmen, "I am by no means sure that he has
the best right in the world to the name. 'Tis a strange story."

"May I hear it?" asked the host.

"Certainly. It is briefly this: There was an old Vicomte de Vaudemont
about Paris; of good birth, but extremely poor--a mauvais sujet. He had
already had two wives, and run through their fortunes. Being old and
ugly, and men who survive two wives having a bad reputation among
marriageable ladies at Paris, he found it difficult to get a third.
Despairing of the noblesse he went among the bourgeoisie with that hope.
His family were kept in perpetual fear of a ridiculous mesalliance. Among
these relations was Madame de Merville, whom you may have heard of."

"Madame de Merville! Ah, yes! Handsome, was she not?"

"It is true. Madame de Merville, whose failing was pride, was known more
than once to have bought off the matrimonial inclinations of the amorous
vicomte. Suddenly there appeared in her circles a very handsome young
man. He was presented formally to her friends as the son of the Vicomte
de Vaudemont by his second marriage with an English lady, brought up in
England, and now for the first time publicly acknowledged. Some scandal
was circulated--"

"Sir," interrupted Monsieur de Liancourt, very gravely, "the scandal was
such as all honourable men must stigmatise and despise--it was only to be
traced to some lying lackey--a scandal that the young man was already the
lover of a woman of stainless reputation the very first day that he
entered Paris! I answer for the falsity of that report. But that report I
own was one that decided not only Madame de Merville, who was a
sensitive--too sensitive a person, but my friend young Vaudemont, to a
marriage, from the pecuniary advantages of which he was too high-spirited
not to shrink."

"Well," said Lord Lilburne, "then this young De Vaudemont married Madame
de Merville?"

"No," said Liancourt somewhat sadly, "it was not so decreed; for
Vaudemont, with a feeling which belongs to a gentleman, and which I
honour, while deeply and gratefully attached to Madame de Merville,
desired that he might first win for himself some honourable distinction
before he claimed a hand to which men of fortunes so much higher had
aspired in vain. I am not ashamed," he added, after a slight pause, "to
say that I had been one of the rejected suitors, and that I still revere
the memory of Eugenie de Merville. The young man, therefore, was to have
entered my regiment. Before, however, he had joined it, and while yet in
the full flush of a young man's love for a woman formed to excite the
strongest attachment, she--she---" The Frenchman's voice trembled, and he
resumed with affected composure: "Madame de Merville, who had the best
and kindest heart that ever beat in a human breast, learned one day that
there was a poor widow in the garret of the hotel she inhabited who was
dangerously ill--without medicine and without food--having lost her only
friend and supporter in her husband some time before. In the impulse of
the moment, Madame de Merville herself attended this widow--caught the
fever that preyed upon her--was confined to her bed ten days--and died as
she bad lived, in serving others and forgetting self.--And so much, sir,
for the scandal you spoke of!"

"A warning," observed Lord Lilburne, "against trifling with one's health
by that vanity of parading a kind heart, which is called charity. If
charity, mon cher, begins at home, it is in the drawing-room, not the
garret!"

The Frenchman looked at his host in some disdain, bit his lip, and was
silent.

"But still," resumed Lord Lilburne, "still it is so probable that your
old vicomte had a son; and I can so perfectly understand why he did not
wish to be embarrassed with him as long as he could help it, that I do
not understand why there should be any doubt of the younger De
Vaudemont's parentage."

"Because," said the Frenchman who had first commenced the
narrative,--"because the young man refused to take the legal steps to
proclaim his birth and naturalise himself a Frenchman; because, no sooner
was Madame de Merville dead than he forsook the father he had so newly
discovered--forsook France, and entered with some other officers, under
the brave, in the service of one of the native princes of India."

"But perhaps he was poor," observed Lord Lilburne. "A father is a very
good thing, and a country is a very good thing, but still a man must have
money; and if your father does not do much for you, somehow or other,
your country generally follows his example."

"My lord," said Liancourt, "my friend here has forgotten to say that
Madame de Merville had by deed of gift; (though unknown to her lover),
before her death, made over to young Vaudemont the bulk of her fortune;
and that, when he was informed of this donation after her decease, and
sufficiently recovered from the stupor of his grief, he summoned her
relations round him, declared that her memory was too dear to him for
wealth to console him for her loss, and reserving to himself but a
modest and bare sufficiency for the common necessaries of a gentleman, he
divided the rest amongst them, and repaired to the East; not only to
conquer his sorrow by the novelty and stir of an exciting life, but to
carve out with his own hand the reputation of an honourable and brave
man. My friend remembered the scandal long buried--he forgot the generous
action."

"Your friend, you see, my dear Monsieur de Liancourt," remarked Lilburne,
"is more a man of the world than you are!"

"And I was just going to observe," said the friend thus referred to,
"that that very action seemed to confirm the rumour that there had been
some little manoeuvring as to this unexpected addition to the name of De
Vaudemont; for, if himself related to Madame de Merville, why have such
scruples to receive her gift?"

"A very shrewd remark," said Lord Lilburne, looking with some respect at
the speaker; "and I own that it is a very unaccountable proceeding, and
one of which I don't think you or I would ever have been guilty. Well,
and the old Vicomte?"

"Did not live long!" said the Frenchman, evidently gratified by his
host's compliment, while Liancourt threw himself back in his chair in
grave displeasure. "The young man remained some years in India, and when
he returned to Paris, our friend here, Monsieur de Liancourt (then in
favour with Charles X.), and Madame de Merville's relations took him up.
He had already acquired a reputation in this foreign service, and he
obtained a place at the court, and a commission in the king's guards. I
allow that he would certainly have made a career, had it not been for the
Three Days. As it is, you see him in London, like the rest of us, an
exile!"

"And I suppose, without a sous."

"No, I believe that he had still saved, and even augmented, in India, the
portion he allotted to himself from Madame de Merville's bequest."

"And if he don't play whist, he ought to play it," said Lilburne. "You
have roused my curiosity; I hope you will let me make his acquaintance,
Monsieur de Liancourt. I am no politician, but allow me to propose this
toast, 'Success to those who have the wit to plan, and the strength to
execute.' In other words, 'the Right Divine!'"

Soon afterwards the guests retired.




CHAPTER IV.

"Ros. Happily, he's the second time come to them."--Hamlet.

It was the evening after that in which the conversations recorded in our
last chapter were held;--evening in the quiet suburb of H------. The
desertion and silence of the metropolis in September had extended to its
neighbouring hamlets;--a village in the heart of the country could
scarcely have seemed more still; the lamps were lighted, many of the
shops already closed, a few of the sober couples and retired spinsters of
the place might, here and there, be seen slowly wandering homeward after
their evening walk: two or three dogs, in spite of the prohibitions of
the magistrates placarded on the walls,--(manifestoes which threatened
with death the dogs, and predicted more than ordinary madness to the
public,)--were playing in the main road, disturbed from time to time as
the slow coach, plying between the city and the suburb, crawled along the
thoroughfare, or as the brisk mails whirled rapidly by, announced by the
cloudy dust and the guard's lively horn. Gradually even these evidences
of life ceased--the saunterers disappeared, the mails had passed, the
dogs gave place to the later and more stealthy perambulations of their
feline successors "who love the moon." At unfrequent intervals, the more
important shops--the linen-drapers', the chemists', and the
gin-palace--still poured out across the shadowy road their streams of
light from windows yet unclosed: but with these exceptions, the business
of the place stood still.

At this time there emerged from a milliner's house (shop, to outward
appearance, it was not, evincing its gentility and its degree above the
Capelocracy, to use a certain classical neologism, by a brass plate on an
oak door, whereon was graven, "Miss Semper, Milliner and Dressmaker, from
Madame Devy,")--at this time, I say, and from this house there emerged
the light and graceful form of a young female. She held in her left hand
a little basket, of the contents of which (for it was empty) she had
apparently just disposed; and, as she stepped across the road, the
lamplight fell on a face in the first bloom of youth, and characterised
by an expression of childlike innocence and candour. It was a face
regularly and exquisitely lovely, yet something there was in the aspect
that saddened you; you knew not why, for it was not sad itself; on the
contrary, the lips smiled and the eyes sparkled. As she now glided along
the shadowy street with a light, quick step, a man, who had hitherto been
concealed by the portico of an attorney's house, advanced stealthily, and
followed her at a little distance. Unconscious that she was dogged, and
seemingly fearless of all danger, the girl went lightly on, swinging her
basket playfully to and fro, and chaunting, in a low but musical tone,
some verses that seemed rather to belong to the nursery than to that age
which the fair singer had attained.

As she came to an angle which the main street formed with a lane, narrow
and partially lighted, a policeman, stationed there, looked hard at her,
and then touched his hat with an air of respect, in which there seemed
also a little of compassion.

"Good night to you," said the girl, passing him, and with a frank, gay
tone.

"Shall I attend you home, Miss?" said the man.

"What for? I am very well!" answered the young woman, with an accent and
look of innocent surprise.

Just at this time the man, who had hitherto followed her, gained the
spot, and turned down the lane.

"Yes," replied the policeman; "but it is getting dark, Miss."

"So it is every night when I walk home, unless there's a
moon.--Good-bye.--The moon," she repeated to herself, as she walked on,
"I used to be afraid of the moon when I was a little child;" and then,
after a pause, she murmured, in a low chaunt:

        "'The moon she is a wandering ghost,
        That walks in penance nightly;
        How sad she is, that wandering moon,
        For all she shines so brightly!

        "'I watched her eyes when I was young,
        Until they turned my brain,
        And now I often weep to think
        'Twill ne'er be right again.'"

As the murmur of these words died at a distance down the lane in which
the girl had disappeared, the policeman, who had paused to listen, shook
his head mournfully, and said, while he moved on,--

"Poor thing! they should not let her always go about by herself; and yet,
who would harm her?"

Meanwhile the girl proceeded along the lane, which was skirted by small,
but not mean houses, till it terminated in a cross-stile that admitted
into a church yard. Here hung the last lamp in the path, and a few dint
stars broke palely over the long grass, and scattered gravestones,
without piercing the deep shadow which the church threw over a large
portion of the sacred ground. Just as she passed the stile, the man, whom
we have before noticed, and who had been leaning, as if waiting for some
one, against the pales, approached, and said gently,--

"Ah, Miss! it is a lone place for one so beautiful as you are to be
alone. You ought never to be on foot."

The girl stopped, and looked full, but without any alarm in her eyes,
into the man's face.

"Go away!" she said, with a half-peevish, half-kindly tone of command. "I
don't know you."

"But I have been sent to speak to you by one who does know you, Miss--one
who loves you to distraction--he has seen you before at Mrs. West's. He
is so grieved to think you should walk--you ought, he says, to have every
luxury--that he has sent his carriage for you. It is on the other side of
the yard. Do come now;" and he laid his hand, though very lightly, on her
arm.

"At Mrs. West's!" she said; and, for the first time, her voice and look
showed fear. "Go away directly! How dare you touch me!"

"But, my dear Miss, you have no idea how my employer loves you, and how
rich he is. See, he has sent you all this money; it is gold--real gold.
You may have what you like, if you will but come. Now, don't be silly,
Miss." The girl made no answer, but, with a sudden spring, passed the
man, and ran lightly and rapidly along the path, in an opposite direction
from that to which the tempter had pointed, when inviting her to the
carriage. The man, surprised, but not baffled, reached her in an instant,
and caught hold of her dress.

"Stay! you must come--you must!" he said, threateningly; and, loosening
his grasp on her shawl, he threw his arm round her waist.

"Don't!" cried the girl, pleadingly, and apparently subdued, turning her
fair, soft face upon her pursuer, and clasping her hands. "Be quiet!
Fanny is silly! No one is ever rude to poor Fanny!"

"And no one will be rude to you, Miss," said the man, apparently touched;
"but I dare not go without you. You don't know what you refuse. Come;"
and he attempted gently to draw her back.

"No, no!" said the girl, changing from supplication to anger, and raising
her voice into a loud shriek, "No! I will--"

"Nay, then," interrupted the man, looking round anxiously, and, with a
quick and dexterous movement he threw a large handkerchief over her face,
and, as he held it fast to her lips with one hand, he lifted her from the
ground. Still violently struggling, the girl contrived to remove the
handkerchief, and once more her shriek of terror rang through the
violated sanctuary.

At that instant a loud deep voice was heard, "Who calls?" And a tall
figure seemed to rise, as from the grave itself, and emerge from the
shadow of the church. A moment more, and a strong gripe was laid on the
shoulder of the ravisher. "What is this? On God's ground, too! Release
her, wretch!"

The man, trembling, half with superstitious, half with bodily fear, let
go his captive, who fell at once at the knees of her deliverer. "Don't
you hurt me too," she said, as the tears rolled down her eyes. "I am a
good girl-and my grandfather's blind."

The stranger bent down and raised her; then looking round for the
assailant with an eye whose dark fire shone through the gloom, he
perceived the coward stealing off. He disdained to pursue.

"My poor child," said he, with that voice which the strong assume to the
weak--the man to some wounded infant--the voice of tender superiority and
compassion, "there is no cause for fear now. Be soothed. Do you live
near? Shall I see you home?"

"Thank you! That's kind. Pray do!" And, with an infantine confidence she
took his hand, as a child does that of a grown-up person;--so they walked
on together.

"And," said the stranger, "do you know that man? Has he insulted you
before?"

"No--don't talk of him: ce me fait mal!" And she put her hand to her
forehead.

The French was spoken with so French an accent, that, in some curiosity,
the stranger cast his eye over her plain dress.

"You speak French well."

"Do I? I wish I knew more words--I only recollect a few. When I am very
happy or very sad they come into my head. But I am happy now. I like your
voice--I like you--Oh! I have dropped my basket!"

"Shall I go back for it, or shall I buy you another?"

"Another!--Oh, no! come back for it. How kind you are!--Ah! I see it!"
and she broke away and ran forward to pick it up.

When she had recovered it, she laughed-she spoke to it--she kissed it.

Her companion smiled as he said: "Some sweetheart has given you that
basket--it seems but a common basket too."

"I have had it--oh, ever since--since--I don't know how long! It came
with me from France--it was full of little toys. They are gone--I am so
sorry!"

"How old are you?"

"I don't know."

"My pretty one," said the stranger, with deep pity in his rich voice,
"your mother should not let you go out alone at this hour."

"Mother!--mother!" repeated the girl, in a tone of surprise.

"Have you no mother?"

"No! I had a father once. But he died, they say. I did not see him die. I
sometimes cry when I think that I shall never, never see him again! But,"
she said, changing her accent from melancholy almost to joy, "he is to
have a grave here like the other girl's fathers--a fine stone upon
it--and all to be done with my money!"

"Your money, my child?"

"Yes; the money I make. I sell my work and take the money to my
grandfather; but I lay by a little every week for a gravestone for my
father."

"Will the gravestone be placed in that churchyard?" They were now in
another lane; and, as he spoke, the stranger checked her, and bending
down to look into her face, he murmured to himself, "Is it possible?--it
must be--it must!"

"Yes! I love that churchyard--my brother told me to put flowers there;
and grandfather and I sit there in the summer, without speaking. But I
don't talk much, I like singing better:--

        "'All things that good and harmless are
        Are taught, they say, to sing
        The maiden resting at her work,
        The bird upon the wing;
        The little ones at church, in prayer;
        The angels in the sky
        The angels less when babes are born
        Than when the aged die.'"

And unconscious of the latent moral, dark or cheering, according as we
estimate the value of this life, couched in the concluding rhyme, Fanny
turned round to the stranger, and said, "Why should the angels be glad
when the aged die?"

"That they are released from a false, unjust, and miserable world, in
which the first man was a rebel, and the second a murderer!" muttered the
stranger between his teeth, which he gnashed as he spoke.

The girl did not understand him: she shook her head gently, and made no
reply. A few moments, and she paused before a small house.

"This is my home."

"It is so," said her companion, examining the exterior of the house with
an earnest gaze; "and your name is Fanny."

"Yes--every one knows Fanny. Come in;" and the girl opened the door with
a latch-key.

The stranger bowed his stately height as he crossed the low threshold and
followed his guide into a little parlour. Before a table on which burned
dimly, and with unheeded wick, a single candle, sat a man of advanced
age; and as he turned his face to the door, the stranger saw that he was
blind.

The girl bounded to his chair, passed her arms round the old man's neck,
and kissed his forehead; then nestling herself at his feet, and leaning
her clasped hands caressingly on his knee, she said,--

"Grandpapa, I have brought you somebody you must love. He has been so
kind to Fanny."

"And neither of you can remember me!" said the guest.

The old man, whose dull face seemed to indicate dotage, half raised
himself at the sound of the stranger's voice. "Who is that?" said he,
with a feeble and querulous voice. "Who wants me?"

"I am the friend of your lost son. I am he who, ten years go, brought
Fanny to your roof, and gave her to your care--your son's last charge.
And you blessed your son, and forgave him, and vowed to be a father to
his Fanny." The old man, who had now slowly risen to his feet, trembled
violently, and stretched out his hands.

"Come near--near--let me put my hands on your head. I cannot see you; but
Fanny talks of you, and prays for you; and Fanny--she has been an angel
to me!"

The stranger approached and half knelt as the old man spread his hands
over his head, muttering inaudibly. Meanwhile Fanny, pale as death--her
lips apart--an eager, painful expression on her face--looked inquiringly
on the dark, marked countenance of the visitor, and creeping towards him
inch by inch, fearfully touched his dress--his arms--his countenance.

"Brother," she said at last, doubtingly and timidly, "Brother, I thought
I could never forget you! But you are not like my brother; you are
older;--you are--you are!--no! no! you are not my brother!"

"I am much changed, Fanny; and you too!"

He smiled as he spoke; and the smile-sweet and pitying--thoroughly
changed the character of his face, which was ordinarily stern, grave, and
proud.

"I know you now!" exclaimed Fanny, in a tone of wild joy. "And you come
back from that grave! My flowers have brought you back at last! I knew
they would! Brother! Brother!"

And she threw herself on his breast and burst into passionate tears.
Then, suddenly drawing herself back, she laid her finger on his arm, and
looked up at him beseechingly.

"Pray, now, is he really dead? He, my father!--he, too, was lost like
you. Can't he come back again as you have done?"

"Do you grieve for him still, then? Poor girl!" said the stranger,
evasively, and seating himself. Fanny continued to listen for an answer
to her touching question; but finding that none was given, she stole away
to a corner of the room, and leaned her face on her hands, and seemed to
think--till at last, as she so sat, the tears began to flow down her
cheeks, and she wept, but silently and unnoticed.

"But, sir," said the guest, after a short pause, "how is this? Fanny
tells me she supports you by her work. Are you so poor, then? Yet I left
you your son's bequest; and you, too, I understood, though not rich, were
not in want!"

"There was a curse on my gold," said the old man, sternly. "It was stolen
from us."

There was another pause. Simon broke it.

"And you, young man--how has it fared with you? You have prospered, I
hope."

"I am as I have been for years--alone in the world, without kindred and
without friends. But, thanks to Heaven, I am not a beggar!"

"No kindred and no friends!" repeated the old man. "No father--no
brother--no wife--no sister!"

"None! No one to care whether I live or die," answered the stranger, with
a mixture of pride and sadness in his voice. "But, as the song has it--

          "'I care for nobody--no, not I,
          For nobody cares for me!'"

There was a certain pathos in the mockery with which he repeated the
homely lines, although, as he did, he gathered himself up, as if
conscious of a certain consolation and reliance on the resources not
dependent on others which he had found in his own strong limbs and his
own stout heart.

At that moment he felt a soft touch upon his hand, and he saw Fanny
looking at him through the tears that still flowed.

"You have no one to care for you? Don't say so! Come and live with us,
brother; we'll care for you. I have never forgotten the flowers--never!
Do come! Fanny shall love you. Fanny can work for three!"

"And they call her an idiot!" mumbled the old man, with a vacant smile on
his lips.

"My sister! You shall be my sister! Forlorn one--whom even Nature has
fooled and betrayed! Sister!--we, both orphans! Sister!" exclaimed that
dark, stern man, passionately, and with a broken voice; and he opened his
arms, and Fanny, without a blush or a thought of shame, threw herself on
his breast. He kissed her forehead with a kiss that was, indeed, pure and
holy as a brother's: and Fanny felt that he had left upon her cheek a
tear that was not her own.

"Well," he said, with an altered voice, and taking the old man's hand,
"what say you? Shall I take up my lodging with you? I have a little
money; I can protect and aid you both. I shall be often away--in London
or else where--and will not intrude too much on you. But you blind, and
she--(here he broke off the sentence abruptly and went on)--you should
not be left alone. And this neighbourhood, that burial-place, are dear to
me. I, too, Fanny, have lost a parent; and that grave--"

He paused, and then added, in a trembling voice, "And you have placed
flowers over that grave?"

"Stay with us," said the blind man; "not for our sake, but your own. The
world is a bad place. I have been long sick of the world. Yes! come and
live near the burial-ground--the nearer you are to the grave, the safer
you are;--and you have a little money, you say!"

"I will come to-morrow, then. I must return now. Tomorrow, Fanny, we
shall meet again."

"Must you go?" said Fanny, tenderly. "But you will come again; you know I
used to think every one died when he left me. I am wiser now. Yet still,
when you do leave me, it is true that you die for Fanny!"

At this moment, as the three persons were grouped, each had assumed a
posture of form, an expression of face, which a painter of fitting
sentiment and skill would have loved to study. The visitor had gained the
door; and as he stood there, his noble height--the magnificent strength
and health of his manhood in its full prime--contrasted alike the almost
spectral debility of extreme age and the graceful delicacy of Fanny--half
girl, half child. There was something foreign in his air--and the half
military habit, relieved by the red riband of the Bourbon knighthood. His
complexion was dark as that of a Moor, and his raven hair curled close to
the stately head. The soldier-moustache--thick, but glossy as silk-shaded
the firm lip; and the pointed beard, assumed by the exiled Carlists,
heightened the effect of the strong and haughty features and the
expression of the martial countenance.

But as Fanny's voice died on his ear, he half averted that proud face;
and the dark eyes--almost Oriental in their brilliancy and depth of
shade--seemed soft and humid. And there stood Fanny, in a posture of such
unconscious sadness--such childlike innocence; her arms drooping--her
face wistfully turned to his--and a half smile upon the lips, that made
still more touching the tears not yet dried upon her cheeks. While thin,
frail, shadowy, with white hair and furrowed cheeks, the old man fixed
his sightless orbs on space; and his face, usually only animated from the
lethargy of advancing dotage by a certain querulous cynicism, now grew
suddenly earnest, and even thoughtful, as Fanny spoke of Death!




CHAPTER V.

        "Ulyss. Time hath a wallet at his back
        Wherein he puts alms for oblivion.
        * * Perseverance, dear my lord,
        Keeps honour bright."--Troilus and Cressida.

I have, not sought--as would have been easy, by a little ingenuity in the
earlier portion of this narrative--whatever source of vulgar interest
might be derived from the mystery of names and persons. As in Charles
Spencer the reader is allowed at a glance to detect Sidney Morton, so in
Philip de Vaudemont (the stranger who rescued Fanny) the reader at once
recognises the hero of my tale; but since neither of these young men has
a better right to the name resigned than to the name adopted, it will be
simpler and more convenient to designate them by those appellations by
which they are now known to the world. In truth, Philip de Vaudemont was
scarcely the same being as Philip Morton. In the short visit he had paid
to the elder Gawtrey, when he consigned Fanny to his charge, he had given
no name; and the one he now took (when, towards the evening of the next
day he returned to Simon's house) the old man heard for the first time.
Once more sunk into his usual apathy, Simon did not express any surprise
that a Frenchman should be so well acquainted with English--he scarcely
observed that the name was French. Simon's age seemed daily to bring him
more and more to that state when life is mere mechanism, and the soul,
preparing for its departure, no longer heeds the tenement that crumbles
silently and neglected into its lonely dust. Vaudemont came with but
little luggage (for he had an apartment also in London), and no
attendant,--a single horse was consigned to the stables of an inn at
hand, and he seemed, as soldiers are, more careful for the comforts of
the animal than his own. There was but one woman servant in the humble
household, who did all the ruder work, for Fanny's industry could afford
it. The solitary servant and the homely fare sufficed for the simple and
hardy adventurer.

Fanny, with a countenance radiant with joy, took his hand and led him to
his room. Poor child! with that instinct of woman which never deserted
her, she had busied herself the whole day in striving to deck the chamber
according to her own notions of comfort. She had stolen from her little
hoard wherewithal to make some small purchases, on which the Dowbiggin of
the suburb had been consulted. And what with flowers on the table, and a
fire at the hearth, the room looked cheerful.

She watched him as he glanced around, and felt disappointed that he did
not utter the admiration she expected. Angry at last with the
indifference which, in fact, as to external accommodation, was habitual
to him, she plucked his sleeve, and said,--

"Why don't you speak? Is it not nice?--Fanny did her best."

"And a thousand thanks to Fanny! It is all I could wish."

"There is another room, bigger than this, but the wicked woman who robbed
us slept there; and besides, you said you liked the churchyard. See!" and
she opened the window and pointed to the church-tower rising dark against
the evening sky.

"This is better than all!" said Vaudemont; and he looked out from the
window in a silent reverie, which Fanny did not disturb.

And now he was settled! From a career so wild, agitated, and various, the
adventurer paused in that humble resting-nook. But quiet is not
repose--obscurity is not content. Often as, morn and eve, he looked forth
upon the spot, where his mother's heart, unconscious of love and woe,
mouldered away, the indignant and bitter feelings of the wronged outcast
and the son who could not clear the mother's name swept away the subdued
and gentle melancholy into which time usually softens regret for the
dead, and with which most of us think of the distant past, and the once
joyous childhood!

In this man's breast lay, concealed by his external calm, those memories
and aspirations which are as strong as passions. In his earlier years,
when he had been put to hard shifts for existence, he had found no
leisure for close and brooding reflection upon that spoliation of just
rights--that calumny upon his mother's name, which had first brought the
Night into his Morning. His resentment towards the Beauforts, it is true,
had ever been an intense but a fitful and irregular passion. It was
exactly in proportion as, by those rare and romantic incidents which
Fiction cannot invent, and which Narrative takes with diffidence from the
great Store-house of Real Life, his steps had ascended in the social
ladder--that all which his childhood had lost--all which the robbers of
his heritage had gained, the grandeur and the power of WEALTH--above all,
the hourly and the tranquil happiness of a stainless name, became
palpable and distinct. He had loved Eugenie as a boy loves for the first
time an accomplished woman. He regarded her, so refined--so gentle--so
gifted, with the feelings due to a superior being, with an eternal
recollection of the ministering angel that had shone upon him when he
stood on the dark abyss. She was the first that had redeemed his
fate--the first that had guided aright his path--the first that had tamed
the savage at his breast:--it was the young lion charmed by the eyes of
Una. The outline of his story had been truly given at Lord Lilburne's.
Despite his pride, which revolted from such obligations to another, and a
woman--which disliked and struggled against a disguise which at once and
alone saved him from the detection of the past and the terrors of the
future--he had yielded to her, the wise and the gentle, as one whose
judgment he could not doubt; and, indeed, the slanderous falsehoods
circulated by the lackey, to whose discretion, the night of Gawtrey's
death, Eugenie had preferred to confide her own honour, rather than
another's life, had (as Liancourt rightly stated) left Philip no option
but that which Madame de Merville deemed the best, whether for her
happiness or her good name. Then had followed a brief season--the holiday
of his life--the season of young hope and passion, of brilliancy and joy,
closing by that abrupt death which again left him lonely in the world.

When, from the grief that succeeded to the death of Eugenie, he woke to
find himself amidst the strange faces and exciting scenes of an Oriental
court, he turned with hard and disgustful contempt from Pleasure, as an
infidelity to the dead. Ambition crept over him--his mind hardened as his
cheek bronzed under those burning suns--his hardy frame, his energies
prematurely awakened, his constitutional disregard to danger,--made him a
brave and skilful soldier. He acquired reputation and rank. But, as time
went on, the ambition took a higher flight--he felt his sphere
circumscribed; the Eastern indolence that filled up the long intervals
between Eastern action chafed a temper never at rest: he returned to
France: his reputation, Liancourt's friendship, and the relations of
Eugenie--grateful, as has before been implied, for the generosity with
which he surrendered the principal part of her donation--opened for him a
new career, but one painful and galling. In the Indian court there was no
question of his birth--one adventurer was equal with the rest. But in
Paris, a man attempting to rise provoked all the sarcasm of wit, all the
cavils of party; and in polished and civil life, what valour has weapons
against a jest? Thus, in civilisation, all the passions that spring from
humiliated self-love and baffled aspiration again preyed upon his breast.
He saw, then, that the more he struggled from obscurity, the more acute
would become research into his true origin; and his writhing pride almost
stung to death his ambition. To succeed in life by regular means was
indeed difficult for this man; always recoiling from the name he
bore--always strong in the hope yet to regain that to which he conceived
himself entitled--cherishing that pride of country which never deserts
the native of a Free State, however harsh a parent she may have proved;
and, above all, whatever his ambition and his passions, taking, from the
very misfortunes he had known, an indomitable belief in the ultimate
justice of Heaven;--he had refused to sever the last ties that connected
him with his lost heritage and his forsaken land--he refused to be
naturalised--to make the name he bore legally undisputed--he was
contented to be an alien. Neither was Vaudemont fitted exactly for that
crisis in the social world when the men of journals and talk bustle aside
the men of action. He had not cultivated literature, he had no
book-knowledge--the world had been his school, and stern life his
teacher. Still, eminently skilled in those physical accomplishments which
men admire and soldiers covet, calm and self-possessed in manner, of
great personal advantages, of much ready talent and of practised
observation in character, he continued to breast the obstacles around
him, and to establish himself in the favour of those in power. It was
natural to a person so reared and circumstanced to have no sympathy with
what is called the popular cause. He was no citizen in the state--he was
a stranger in the land. He had suffered and still suffered too much from
mankind to have that philanthropy, sometimes visionary but always noble,
which, in fact, generally springs from the studies we cultivate, not in
the forum, but the closet. Men, alas! too often lose the Democratic
Enthusiasm in proportion as they find reason to suspect or despise their
kind. And if there were not hopes for the Future, which this hard,
practical daily life does not suffice to teach us, the vision and the
glory that belong to the Great Popular Creed, dimmed beneath the
injustice, the follies, and the vices of the world as it is, would fade
into the lukewarm sectarianism of temporary Party. Moreover, Vaudemont's
habits of thought and reasoning were those of the camp, confirmed by the
systems familiar to him in the East: he regarded the populace as a
soldier enamoured of discipline and order usually does. His theories,
therefore, or rather his ignorance of what is sound in theory, went with
Charles the Tenth in his excesses, but not with the timidity which
terminated those excesses by dethronement and disgrace. Chafed to the
heart, gnawed with proud grief, he obeyed the royal mandates, and
followed the exiled monarch: his hopes overthrown, his career in France
annihilated forever. But on entering England, his temper, confident and
ready of resource, fastened itself on new food. In the land where he had
no name he might yet rebuild his fortunes. It was an arduous effort--an
improbable hope; but the words heard by the bridge of Paris--words that
had often cheered him in his exile through hardships and through dangers
which it is unnecessary to our narrative to detail--yet rung again in his
ear, as he leaped on his native land,--"Time, Faith, Energy."

While such his character in the larger and more distant relations of
life, in the closer circles of companionship many rare and noble
qualities were visible. It is true that he was stern, perhaps
imperious--of a temper that always struggled for command; but he was
deeply susceptible of kindness, and, if feared by those who opposed,
loved by those who served him. About his character was that mixture of
tenderness and fierceness which belonged, of old, to the descriptions of
the warrior. Though so little unlettered, Life had taught him a certain
poetry of sentiment and idea--More poetry, perhaps, in the silent
thoughts that, in his happier moments, filled his solitude, than in half
the pages that his brother had read and written by the dreaming lake. A
certain largeness of idea and nobility of impulse often made him act the
sentiments of which bookmen write. With all his passions, he held
licentiousness in disdain; with all his ambition for the power of wealth,
he despised its luxury. Simple, masculine, severe, abstemious, he was of
that mould in which, in earlier times, the successful men of action have
been cast. But to successful action, circumstance is more necessary than
to triumphant study.

It was to be expected that, in proportion as he had been familiar with a
purer and nobler life, he should look with great and deep
self-humiliation at his early association with Gawtrey. He was in this
respect more severe on himself than any other mind ordinarily just and
candid would have been,--when fairly surveying the circumstances of
penury, hunger, and despair, which had driven him to Gawtrey's roof, the
imperfect nature of his early education, the boyish trust and affection
he had felt for his protector, and his own ignorance of, and exemption
from, all the worst practices of that unhappy criminal. But still, when,
with the knowledge he had now acquired, the man looked calmly back, his
cheek burned with remorseful shame at his unreflecting companionship in a
life of subterfuge and equivocation, the true nature of which, the boy
(so circumstanced as we have shown him) might be forgiven for not at that
time comprehending. Two advantages resulted, however, from the error and
the remorse: first, the humiliation it brought curbed, in some measure, a
pride that might otherwise have been arrogant and unamiable, and,
secondly, as I have before intimated, his profound gratitude to Heaven
for his deliverance from the snares that had beset his youth gave his
future the guide of an earnest and heartfelt faith. He acknowledged in
life no such thing as accident. Whatever his struggles, whatever his
melancholy, whatever his sense of worldly wrong, he never despaired; for
nothing now could shake his belief in one directing Providence.

The ways and habits of Vaudemont were not at discord with those of the
quiet household in which he was now a guest. Like most men of strong
frames, and accustomed to active, not studious pursuits, he rose
early;--and usually rode to London, to come back late at noon to their
frugal meal. And if again, perhaps after the hour when Fanny and Simon
retired, he would often return to London, his own pass-key re-admitted
him, at whatever time he came back, without disturbing the sleep of the
household. Sometimes, when the sun began to decline, if the air was warm,
the old man would crawl out, leaning on that strong arm, through the
neighbouring lanes, ever returning through the lonely burial-ground; or
when the blind host clung to his fireside, and composed himself to sleep,
Philip would saunter forth along with Fanny; and on the days when she
went to sell her work, or select her purchases, he always made a point of
attending her. And her cheek wore a flush of pride when she saw him
carrying her little basket, or waiting without, in musing patience, while
she performed her commissions in the shops. Though in reality Fanny's
intellect was ripening within, yet still the surface often misled the eye
as to the depths. It was rather that something yet held back the
faculties from their growth than that the faculties themselves were
wanting. Her weakness was more of the nature of the infant's than of one
afflicted with incurable imbecility. For instance, she managed the little
household with skill and prudence; she could calculate in her head, as
rapidly as Vaudemont himself, the arithmetic necessary to her simple
duties; she knew the value of money, which is more than some of us wise
folk do. Her skill, even in her infancy so remarkable, in various
branches of female handiwork, was carried, not only by perseverance, but
by invention and peculiar talent, to a marvellous and exquisite
perfection. Her embroidery, especially in what was then more rare than at
present, viz., flowers on silk, was much in request among the great
modistes of London, to whom it found its way through the agency of Miss
Semper. So that all this had enabled her, for years, to provide every
necessary comfort of life for herself and her blind protector. And her
care for the old man was beautiful in its minuteness, its vigilance.
Wherever her heart was interested, there never seemed a deficiency of
mind. Vaudemont was touched to see how much of affectionate and pitying
respect she appeared to enjoy in the neighbourhood, especially among the
humbler classes--even the beggar who swept the crossings did not beg of
her, but bade God bless her as she passed; and the rude, discontented
artisan would draw himself from the wall and answer, with a softened
brow, the smile with which the harmless one charmed his courtesy. In
fact, whatever attraction she took from her youth, her beauty, her
misfortune, and her affecting industry, was heightened, in the eyes of
the poorer neighbours, by many little traits of charity and kindness;
many a sick child had she tended, and many a breadless board had stolen
something from the stock set aside for her father's grave.

"Don't you think," she once whispered to Vaudemont, "that God attends to
us more if we are good to those who are sick and hungry?"

"Certainly we are taught to think so."

"Well, I'll tell you a secret--don't tell again. Grandpapa once said that
my father had done bad things; now, if Fanny is good to those she can
help, I think that God will hear her more kindly when she prays him to
forgive what her father did. Do you think so too? Do say--you are so
wise!"

"Fanny, you are wiser than all of us; and I feel myself better and
happier when I hear you speak."

There were, indeed, many moments when Vaudemont thought that her
deficiencies of intellect might have been repaired, long since, by
skilful culture and habitual companionship with those of her own age;
from which companionship, however, Fanny, even when at school, had shrunk
aloof. At other moments there was something so absent and distracted
about her, or so fantastic and incoherent, that Vaudemont, with the man's
hard, worldly eye, read in it nothing but melancholy confusion.
Nevertheless, if the skein of ideas was entangled, each thread in itself
was a thread of gold.

Fanny's great object--her great ambition--her one hope--was a tomb for
her supposed father. Whether from some of that early religion attached to
the grave, which is most felt in Catholic countries, and which she had
imbibed at the convent; or from her residence so near the burial ground,
and the affection with which she regarded the spot;--whatever the cause,
she had cherished for some years, as young maidens usually cherish the
desire of the Altar--the dream of the Gravestone. But the hoard was
amassed so slowly;--now old Gawtrey was attacked by illness;--now there
was some little difficulty in the rent; now some fluctuation in the price
of work; and now, and more often than all, some demand on her charity,
which interfered with, and drew from, the pious savings. This was a
sentiment in which her new friend sympathised deeply; for he, too,
remembered that his first gold had bought that humble stone which still
preserved upon the earth the memory of his mother.

Meanwhile, days crept on, and no new violence was offered to Fanny.
Vaudemont learned, then, by little and little--and Fanny's account was
very confused--the nature of the danger she had run.

It seemed that one day, tempted by the fineness of the weather up the
road that led from the suburb farther into the country, Fanny was stopped
by a gentleman in a carriage, who accosted her, as she said, very kindly:
and after several questions, which she answered with her usual
unsuspecting innocence, learned her trade, insisted on purchasing some
articles of work which she had at the moment in her basket, and promised
to procure her a constant purchaser, upon much better terms than she had
hitherto obtained, if she would call at the house of a Mrs. West, about a
mile from the suburb towards London. This she promised to do, and this
she did, according to the address he gave her. She was admitted to a lady
more gaily dressed than Fanny had ever seen a lady before,--the gentleman
was also present,--they both loaded her with compliments, and bought her
work at a price which seemed about to realise all the hopes of the poor
girl as to the gravestone for William Gawtrey,--as if his evil fate
pursued that wild man beyond the grave, and his very tomb was to be
purchased by the gold of the polluter! The lady then appointed her to
call again; but, meanwhile, she met Fanny in the streets, and while she
was accosting her, it fortunately chanced that Miss Semper the milliner
passed that way--turned round, looked hard at the lady, used very angry
language to her, seized Fanny's hand, led her away while the lady slunk
off; and told her that the said lady was a very bad woman, and that Fanny
must never speak to her again. Fanny most cheerfully promised this. And,
in fact, the lady, probably afraid, whether of the mob or the
magistrates, never again came near her.

"And," said Fanny, "I gave the money they had both given to me to Miss
Semper, who said she would send it back."

"You did right, Fanny; and as you made one promise to Miss Semper, so you
must make me one--never to stir from home again without me or some other
person. No, no other person--only me. I will give up everything else to
go with you."

"Will you? Oh, yes. I promise! I used to like going alone, but that was
before you came, brother."

And as Fanny kept her promise, it would have been a bold gallant indeed
who would have ventured to molest her by the side of that stately and
strong protector.




CHAPTER VI.

     "Timon. Each thing's a thief
     The laws, your curb and whip, in their rough power
     Have unchecked theft.

     The sweet degrees that this brief world affords,
     To such as may the passive drugs of it
     Freely command."--Timon of Athens.

On the day and at the hour fixed for the interview with the stranger who
had visited Mr. Beaufort, Lord Lilburne was seated in the library of his
brother-in-law; and before the elbow-chair, on which he lolled
carelessly, stood our old friend Mr. Sharp, of Bow Street notability.

"Mr. Sharp," said the peer, "I have sent for you to do me a little
favour. I expect a man here who professes to give Mr. Beaufort, my
brother-in-law, some information about a lawsuit. It is necessary to know
the exact value of his evidence. I wish you to ascertain all particulars
about him. Be so good as to seat yourself in the porter's chair in the
hall; note him when he enters, unobserved yourself--but as he is probably
a stranger to you, note him still more when he leaves the house; follow
him at a distance; find out where he lives, whom he associates with,
where he visits, their names and directions, what his character and
calling are;--in a word, everything you can, and report to me each
evening. Dog him well, never lose sight of him--you will be handsomely
paid. You understand?"

"Ah!" said Mr. Sharp, "leave me alone, my lord. Been employed before by
your lordship's brother-in-law. We knows what's what."

"I don't doubt it. To your post--I expect him every moment."

And, in fact, Mr. Sharp had only just ensconced himself in the porter's
chair when the stranger knocked at the door--in another moment he was
shown in to Lord Lilburne.

"Sir," said his lordship, without rising, "be so good as to take a chair.
Mr. Beaufort is obliged to leave town--he has asked me to see you--I am
one of his family--his wife is my sister--you may be as frank with me as
with him,--more so, perhaps."

"I beg the fauvour of your name, sir," said the stranger, adjusting his
collar.

"Yours first--business is business."

"Well, then, Captain Smith."

"Of what regiment?"

"Half-pay."

"I am Lord Lilburne. Your name is Smith--humph!" added the peer, looking
over some notes before him. "I see it is also the name of the witness
appealed to by Mrs. Morton--humph!"

At this remark, and still more at the look which accompanied it, the
countenance, before impudent and complacent, of Captain Smith fell into
visible embarrassment; he cleared his throat and said, with a little
hesitation,--

"My lord, that witness is living!"

"No doubt of it--witnesses never die where property is concerned and
imposture intended."

At this moment the servant entered, and placed a little note, quaintly
folded, before Lord Lilburne. He glanced at it in surprise--opened, and
read as follows, in pencil,--

"My LORD,--I knows the man; take caer of him; he is as big a roge as ever
stept; he was transported some three year back, and unless his time has
been shortened by the Home, he's absent without leve. We used to call
him Dashing Jerry. That ere youngster we went arter, by Mr. Bofort's
wish, was a pall of his. Scuze the liberty I take.
                           "J. SHARP."

While Lord Lilburne held this effusion to the candle, and spelled his way
through it, Captain Smith, recovering his self-composure, thus proceeded:

"Imposture, my lord! imposture! I really don't understand. Your lordship
really seems so suspicious, that it is quite uncomfortable. I am sure it
is all the same to me; and if Mr. Beaufort does not think proper to see
me himself, why I'd best make my bow."

And Captain Smith rose.

"Stay a moment, sir. What Mr. Beaufort may yet do, I cannot say; but I
know this, you stand charged of a very grave offence, and if your witness
or witnesses--you may have fifty, for what I care--are equally guilty, so
much the worse for them."

"My lord, I really don't comprehend."

"Then I will be more plain. I accuse you of devising an infamous
falsehood for the purpose of extorting money. Let your witnesses appear
in court, and I promise that you, they, and the young man, Mr. Morton,
whose claim they set up, shall be indicted for conspiracy--conspiracy, if
accompanied (as in the case of your witnesses) with perjury, of the
blackest die. Mr. Smith, I know you; and, before ten o'clock to-morrow, I
shall know also if you had his majesty's leave to quit the colonies! Ah!
I am plain enough now, I see."

And Lord Lilburne threw himself back in his chair, and coldly
contemplated the white face and dismayed expression of the crestfallen
captain. That most worthy person, after a pause of confusion, amaze, and
fear, made an involuntary stride, with a menacing gesture, towards
Lilburne; the peer quietly placed his hand on the bell.

"One moment more," said the latter; "if I ring this bell, it is to place
you in custody. Let Mr. Beaufort but see you here once again--nay, let
him but hear another word of this pretended lawsuit--and you return to
the colonies. Pshaw! Frown not at me, sir! A Bow Street officer is in the
hall. Begone!--no, stop one moment, and take a lesson in life. Never
again attempt to threaten people of property and station. Around every
rich man is a wall--better not run your head against it."

"But I swear solemnly," cried the knave, with an emphasis so startling
that it carried with it the appearance of truth, "that the marriage did
take place."

"And I say, no less solemnly, that any one who swears it in a court of
law shall be prosecuted for perjury! Bah! you are a sorry rogue, after
all!"

And with an air of supreme and half-compassionate contempt, Lord Lilburne
turned away and stirred the fire. Captain Smith muttered and fumbled a
moment with his gloves, then shrugged his shoulders and sneaked out.

That night Lord Lilburne again received his friends, and amongst his
guests came Vaudemont. Lilburne was one who liked the study of character,
especially the character of men wrestling against the world. Wholly free
from every species of ambition, he seemed to reconcile himself to his
apathy by examining into the disquietude, the mortification, the heart's
wear and tear, which are the lot of the ambitious. Like the spider in his
hole, he watched with hungry pleasure the flies struggling in the web;
through whose slimy labyrinth he walked with an easy safety. Perhaps one
reason why he loved gaming was less from the joy of winning than the
philosophical complacency with which he feasted on the emotions of those
who lost; always serene, and, except in debauch, always
passionless,--Majendie, tracing the experiments of science in the agonies
of some tortured dog, could not be more rapt in the science, and more
indifferent to the dog, than Lord Lilburne, ruining a victim, in the
analysis of human passions,--stoical in the writhings of the wretch whom
he tranquilly dissected. He wished to win money of Vaudemont--to ruin
this man, who presumed to be more generous than other people--to see a
bold adventurer submitted to the wheel of the Fortune which reigns in a
pack of cards;--and all, of course, without the least hate to the man
whom he then saw for the first time. On the contrary, he felt a respect
for Vaudemont. Like most worldly men, Lord Lilburne was prepossessed in
favour of those who seek to rise in life: and like men who have excelled
in manly and athletic exercises, he was also prepossessed in favour of
those who appeared fitted for the same success.

Liancourt took aside his friend, as Lord Lilburne was talking with his
other guests:--

"I need not caution you, who never play, not to commit yourself to Lord
Lilburne's tender mercies; remember, he is an admirable player."

"Nay," answered Vaudemont, "I want to know this man: I have reasons,
which alone induce me to enter his house. I can afford to venture
something, because I wish to see if I can gain something for one dear to
me. And for the rest (he muttered)--I know him too well not to be on my
guard." With that he joined Lord Lilburne's group, and accepted the
invitation to the card-table. At supper, Vaudemont conversed more than
was habitual to him; he especially addressed himself to his host, and
listened, with great attention, to Lilburne's caustic comments upon every
topic successively started. And whether it was the art of De Vaudemont,
or from an interest that Lord Lilburne took in studying what was to him a
new character,--or whether that, both men excelling peculiarly in all
masculine accomplishments, their conversation was of a nature that was
more attractive to themselves than to others; it so happened that they
were still talking while the daylight already peered through the
window-curtains.

"And I have outstayed all your guests," said De Vaudemont, glancing round
the emptied room.

"It is the best compliment you could pay me. Another night we can enliven
our tete-a-tete with ecarte; though at your age, and with your
appearance, I am surprised, Monsieur de Vaudemont, that you are fond of
play: I should have thought that it was not in a pack of cards that you
looked for hearts. But perhaps you are blaze betimes of the beau sexe."

"Yet your lordship's devotion to it is, perhaps, as great now as ever?"

"Mine?--no, not as ever. To different ages different degrees. At your age
I wooed; at mine I purchase--the better plan of the two: it does not take
up half so much time."

"Your marriage, I think, Lord Lilburne, was not blessed with children.
Perhaps sometimes you feel the want of them?"

"If I did, I could have them by the dozen. Other ladies have been more
generous in that department than the late Lady Lilburne, Heaven rest
her!"

"And," said Vaudemont, fixing his eyes with some earnestness on his host,
"if you were really persuaded that you had a child, or perhaps a
grandchild--the mother one whom you loved in your first youth--a child
affectionate, beautiful, and especially needing your care and protection,
would you not suffer that child, though illegitimate, to supply to you
the want of filial affection?"

"Filial affection, mon cher!" repeated Lord Lilburne, "needing my care
and protection! Pshaw! In other words, would I give board and lodging to
some young vagabond who was good enough to say he was son to Lord
Lilburne?"

"But if you were convinced that the claimant were your son, or perhaps
your daughter--a tenderer name of the two, and a more helpless claimant?"

"My dear Monsieur de Vaudemont, you are doubtless a man of gallantry and
of the world. If the children whom the law forces on one are, nine times
out of ten, such damnable plagues, judge if one would father those whom
the law permits us to disown! Natural children are the pariahs of the
world, and I--am one of the Brahmans."

"But," persisted Vaudemont, "forgive me if I press the question farther.
Perhaps I seek from your wisdom a guide to my own conduct;--suppose,
then, a man had loved, had wronged, the mother;--suppose that in the
child he saw one who, without his aid, might be exposed to every curse
with which the pariahs (true, the pariahs!) of the world are too often
visited, and who with his aid might become, as age advanced, his
companion, his nurse, his comforter--"

"Tush!" interrupted Lilburne, with some impatience; "I know not how our
conversation fell on such a topic--but if you really ask my opinion in
reference to any case in practical life, you shall have it. Look you,
then Monsieur de Vaudemont, no man has studied the art of happiness more
than I have; and I will tell you the great secret--have as few ties as
possible. Nurse!--pooh! you or I could hire one by the week a thousand
times more useful and careful than a bore of a child. Comforter!--a man
of mind never wants comfort. And there is no such thing as sorrow while
we have health and money, and don't care a straw for anybody in the
world. If you choose to love people, their health and circumstances, if
either go wrong, can fret you: that opens many avenues to pain. Never
live alone, but always feel alone. You think this unamiable: possibly. I
am no hypocrite, and, for my part, I never affect to be anything but what
I am--John Lilburne."

As the peer thus spoke, Vaudemont, leaning against the door, contemplated
him with a strange mixture of interest and disgust. "And John Lilburne is
thought a great man, and William Gawtrey was a great rogue. You don't
conceal your heart?--no, I understand. Wealth and power have no need of
hypocrisy: you are the man of vice--Gawtrey, the man of crime. You never
sin against the law--he was a felon by his trade. And the felon saved
from vice the child, and from want the grandchild (Your flesh and blood)
whom you disown: which will Heaven consider the worse man? No, poor
Fanny, I see I am wrong. If he would own you, I would not give you up to
the ice of such a soul:--better the blind man than the dead heart!"

"Well, Lord Lilburne," said De Vaudemont aloud, shaking off his reverie,
"I must own that your philosophy seems to me the wisest for yourself. For
a poor man it might be different--the poor need affection."

"Ay, the poor, certainly," said Lord Lilburne, with an air of patronising
candour.

"And I will own farther," continued De Vaudemont, "that I have willingly
lost my money in return for the instruction I have received in hearing
you converse."

"You are kind: come and take your revenge next Thursday. Adieu."

As Lord Lilburne undressed, and his valet attended him, he said to that
worthy functionary,--

"So you have not been able to make out the name of the stranger--the new
lodger you tell me of?"

"No, my lord. They only say he is a very fine-looking man."

"You have not seen him?"

"No, my lord. What do you wish me now to do?"

"Humph! Nothing at this moment! You manage things so badly, you might get
me into a scrape. I never do anything which the law or the police, or
even the news papers, can get hold of. I must think of some other
way--humph! I never give up what I once commence, and I never fail in
what I undertake! If life had been worth what fools trouble it
with--business and ambition--I suppose I should have been a great man
with a very bad liver--ha ha! I alone, of all the world, ever found out
what the world was good for! Draw the curtains, Dykeman."




CHAPTER VII.

     "Org. Welcome, thou ice that sitt'st about his heart
     No heat can ever thaw thee!"--FORD: Broken Heart.

     "Nearch. Honourable infamy!"--Ibid.

     "Amye. Her tenderness hath yet deserved no rigour,
     So to be crossed by fate!"

     "Arm. You misapply, sir,
     With favour let me speak it, what Apollo
     Hath clouded in dim sense!"--Ibid.

If Vaudemont had fancied that, considering the age and poverty of Simon,
it was his duty to see whether Fanny's not more legal, but more natural
protector were, indeed, the unredeemed and unmalleable egotist which
Gawtrey had painted him, the conversation of one night was sufficient to
make him abandon for ever the notion of advancing her claims upon Lord
Lilburne. But Philip had another motive in continuing his acquaintance
with that personage. The sight of his mother's grave had recalled to him
the image of that lost brother over whom he had vowed to watch. And,
despite the deep sense of wronged affection with which he yet remembered
the cruel letter that had contained the last tidings of Sidney, Philip's
heart clung with undying fondness to that fair shape associated with all
the happy recollections of childhood; and his conscience as well as his
love asked him, each time that he passed the churchyard, "Will you make
no effort to obey that last prayer of the mother who consigned her
darling to your charge?" Perhaps, had Philip been in want, or had the
name he now bore been sullied by his conduct, he might have shrunk from
seeking one whom he might injure, but could not serve. But though not
rich, he had more than enough for tastes as hardy and simple as any to
which soldier of fortune ever limited his desires. And he thought, with a
sentiment of just and noble pride, that the name which Eugenie had forced
upon him had been borne spotless as the ermine through the trials and
vicissitudes he had passed since he had assumed it. Sidney could give him
nothing, and therefore it was his duty to seek Sidney out. Now, he had
always believed in his heart that the Beauforts were acquainted with a
secret which he more and more pined to penetrate. He would, for Sidney's
sake, smother his hate to the Beauforts; he would not reject their
acquaintance if thrown in his way; nay, secure in his change of name and
his altered features, from all suspicion on their part, he would seek
that acquaintance in order to find his brother and fulfil Catherine's
last commands. His intercourse with Lilburne would necessarily bring him
easily into contact with Lilburne's family. And in this thought he did
not reject the invitations pressed on him. He felt, too, a dark and
absorbing interest in examining a man who was in himself the incarnation
of the World--the World of Art--the World as the Preacher paints it--the
hollow, sensual, sharp-witted, self-wrapped WORLD--the World that is all
for this life, and thinks of no Future and no God!

Lord Lilburne was, indeed, a study for deep contemplation. A study to
perplex the ordinary thinker, and task to the utmost the analysis of more
profound reflection. William Gawtrey had possessed no common talents; he
had discovered that his life had been one mistake; Lord Lilburne's
intellect was far keener than Gawtrey's, and he had never made, and if he
had lived to the age of Old Parr, never would have made a similar
discovery. He never wrestled against a law, though he slipped through all
laws! And he knew no remorse, for he knew no fear. Lord Lilburne had
married early, and long survived, a lady of fortune, the daughter of the
then Premier--the best match, in fact, of his day. And for one very brief
period of his life he had suffered himself to enter into the field of
politics the only ambition common with men of equal rank. He showed
talents that might have raised one so gifted by circumstance to any
height, and then retired at once into his old habits and old system of
pleasure. "I wished to try," said he once, "if fame was worth one
headache, and I have convinced myself that the man who can sacrifice the
bone in his mouth to the shadow of the bone in the water is a fool." From
that time he never attended the House of Lords, and declared himself of
no political opinions one way or the other. Nevertheless, the world had a
general belief in his powers, and Vaudemont reluctantly subscribed to the
world's verdict. Yet he had done nothing, he had read but little, he
laughed at the world to its face,--and that last was, after all, the main
secret of his ascendancy over those who were drawn into his circle. That
contempt of the world placed the world at his feet. His sardonic and
polished indifference, his professed code that there was no life worth
caring for but his own life, his exemption from all cant, prejudice, and
disguise, the frigid lubricity with which he glided out of the grasp of
the Conventional, whenever it so pleased him, without shocking the
Decorums whose sense is in their ear, and who are not roused by the deed
but by the noise,--all this had in it the marrow and essence of a system
triumphant with the vulgar; for little minds give importance to the man
who gives importance to nothing. Lord Lilburne's authority, not in
matters of taste alone, but in those which the world calls judgment and
common sense, was regarded as an oracle. He cared not a straw for the
ordinary baubles that attract his order; he had refused both an earldom
and the garter, and this was often quoted in his honour. But you only try
a man's virtue when you offer him something that he covets. The earldom
and the garter were to Lord Lilburne no more tempting inducements than a
doll or a skipping-rope; had you offered him an infallible cure for the
gout, or an antidote against old age, you might have hired him as your
lackey on your own terms. Lord Lilburne's next heir was the son of his
only brother, a person entirely dependent on his uncle. Lord Lilburne
allowed him L1000. a year and kept him always abroad in a diplomatic
situation. He looked upon his successor as a man who wanted power, but
not inclination, to become his assassin.

Though he lived sumptuously and grudged himself nothing, Lord Lilburne
was far from an extravagant man; he might, indeed, be considered close;
for he knew how much of comfort and consideration he owed to his money,
and valued it accordingly; he knew the best speculations and the best
investments. If he took shares in an American canal, you might be sure
that the shares would soon be double in value; if he purchased an estate,
you might be certain it was a bargain. This pecuniary tact and success
necessarily augmented his fame for wisdom.

He had been in early life a successful gambler, and some suspicions of
his fair play had been noised abroad; but, as has been recently seen in
the instance of a man of rank equal to Lilburne's, though, perhaps, of
less acute if more cultivated intellect, it is long before the pigeon
will turn round upon a falcon of breed and mettle. The rumours, indeed,
were so vague as to carry with them no weight. During the middle of his
career, when in the full flush of health and fortune, he had renounced
the gaming-table. Of late years, as advancing age made time more heavy,
he had resumed the resource, and with all his former good luck. The
money-market, the table, the sex, constituted the other occupations and
amusements with which Lord Lilburne filled up his rosy leisure.

Another way by which this man had acquired reputation for ability was
this,--he never pretended to any branch of knowledge of which he was
ignorant, any more than to any virtue in which he was deficient. Honesty
itself was never more free from quackery or deception than was this
embodied and walking Vice. If the world chose to esteem him, he did not
buy its opinion by imposture. No man ever saw Lord Lilburne's name in a
public subscription, whether for a new church, or a Bible Society, or a
distressed family, no man ever heard of his doing one generous,
benevolent, or kindly action,--no man was ever startled by one
philanthropic, pious, or amiable sentiment from those mocking lips. Yet,
in spite of all this, John Lord Lilburne was not only esteemed but liked
by the world, and set up in the chair of its Rhadamanthuses. In a word,
he seemed to Vaudemont, and he was so in reality, a brilliant example of
the might of Circumstance--an instance of what may be done in the way of
reputation and influence by a rich, well-born man to whom the will a
kingdom is. A little of genius, and Lord Lilburne would have made his
vices notorious and his deficiencies glaring; a little of heart, and his
habits would have led him into countless follies and discreditable
scrapes. It was the lead and the stone that he carried about him that
preserved his equilibrium, no matter which way the breeze blew. But all
his qualities, positive or negative, would have availed him nothing
without that position which enabled him to take his ease in that inn, the
world--which presented, to every detection of his want of intrinsic
nobleness, the irreproachable respectability of a high name, a splendid
mansion, and a rent-roll without a flaw. Vaudemont drew comparisons
between Lilburne and Gawtrey, and he comprehended at last, why one was a
low rascal and the other a great man.

Although it was but a few days after their first introduction to each
other, Vaudemont had been twice to Lord Lilburne's, and their
acquaintance was already on an easy footing--when one afternoon as the
former was riding through the streets towards H----, he met the peer
mounted on a stout cob, which, from its symmetrical strength, pure
English breed, and exquisite grooming, showed something of those sporting
tastes for which, in earlier life, Lord Lilburne had been noted.

"Why, Monsieur de Vaudemont, what brings you to this part of the
town?--curiosity and the desire to explore?"

"That might be natural enough in me; but you, who know London so well;
rather what brings you here?"

"Why I am returned from a long ride. I have had symptoms of a fit of the
gout, and been trying to keep it off by exercise. I have been to a
cottage that belongs to me, some miles from the town--a pretty place
enough, by the way--you must come and see me there next month. I shall
fill the house for a battue! I have some tolerable covers--you are a good
shot, I suppose?"

"I have not practised, except with a rifle, for some years."

"That's a pity; for as I think a week's shooting once a year quite
enough, I fear that your visit to me at Fernside may not be sufficiently
long to put your hand in."

"Fernside!"

"Yes; is the name familiar to you?"

"I think I have heard it before. Did your lordship purchase or inherit
it?"

"I bought it of my brother-in-law. It belonged to his brother--a gay,
wild sort of fellow, who broke his neck over a six-barred gate; through
that gate my friend Robert walked the same day into a very fine estate!"

"I have heard so. The late Mr. Beaufort, then, left no children?"

"Yes; two. But they came into the world in the primitive way in which Mr.
Owen wishes us all to come--too naturally for the present state of
society, and Mr. Owen's parallelogram was not ready for them. By the way,
one of them disappeared at Paris;-you never met with him, I suppose?"

"Under what name?"

"Morton."

"Morton! hem! What Christian name?"

"Philip."

"Philip! no. But did Mr. Beaufort do nothing for the young men? I think I
have heard somewhere that he took compassion on one of them."

"Have you? Ah, my brother-in-law is precisely one of those excellent men
of whom the world always speaks well. No; he would very willingly have
served either or both the boys, but the mother refused all his overtures
and went to law, I fancy. The elder of these bastards turned out a sad
fellow, and the younger,--I don't know exactly where he is, but no doubt
with one of his mother's relations. You seem to interest yourself in
natural children, my dear Vaudemont?"

"Perhaps you have heard that people have doubted if I were a natural
son?"

"Ah! I understand now. But are you going?--I was in hopes you would have
turned back my way, and--"

"You are very good; but I have a particular appointment, and I am now too
late. Good morning, Lord Lilburne." Sidney with one of his mother's
relations! Returned, perhaps, to the Mortons! How had he never before
chanced on a conjecture so probable? He would go at once!--that very
night he would go to the house from which he had taken his brother. At
least, and at the worst, they might give him some clue.

Buoyed with this hope and this resolve, he rode hastily to H-----, to
announce to Simon and Fanny that he should not return to them, perhaps,
for two or three days. As he entered the suburb, he drew up by the
statuary of whom he had purchased his mother's gravestone.

The artist of the melancholy trade was at work in his yard.

"Ho! there!" said Vaudemont, looking over the low railing; "is the tomb I
have ordered nearly finished?"

"Why, sir, as you were so anxious for despatch, and as it would take a
long time to get a new one ready, I thought of giving you this, which is
finished all but the inscription. It was meant for Miss Deborah Primme;
but her nephew and heir called on me yesterday to say, that as the poor
lady died worth less by L5,000. than he had expected, he thought a
handsome wooden tomb would do as well, if I could get rid of this for
him. It is a beauty, sir. It will look so cheerful--"

"Well, that will do: and you can place it now where I told you."

"In three days, sir."

"So be it." And he rode on, muttering, "Fanny, your pious wish will be
fulfilled. But flowers,--will they suit that stone?"

He put up his horse, and walked through the lane to Simon's.

As he approached the house, he saw Fanny's bright eyes at the window. She
was watching his return. She hastened to open the door to him, and the
world's wanderer felt what music there is in the footstep, what summer
there is in the smile, of Welcome!

"My dear Fanny," he said, affected by her joyous greeting, "it makes my
heart warm to see you. I have brought you a present from town. When I was
a boy, I remember that my poor mother was fond of singing some simple
songs, which often, somehow or other, come back to me, when I see and
hear you. I fancied you would understand and like them as well at least
as I do--for Heaven knows (he added to himself) my ear is dull enough
generally to the jingle of rhyme." And he placed in her hands a little
volume of those exquisite songs, in which Burns has set Nature to music.

"Oh! you are so kind, brother," said Fanny, with tears swimming in her
eyes, and she kissed the book.

After their simple meal, Vaudemont broke to Fanny and Simon the
intelligence of his intended departure for a few days. Simon heard it
with the silent apathy into which, except on rare occasions, his life had
settled. But Fanny turned away her face and wept.

"It is but for a day or two, Fanny."

"An hour is very--very long sometimes," said the girl, shaking her head
mournfully.

"Come, I have a little time yet left, and the air is mild, you have not
been out to-day, shall we walk--"

"Hem!" interrupted Simon, clearing his throat, and seeming to start into
sudden animation; "had not you better settle the board and lodging before
you go?"

"Oh, grandfather!" cried Fanny, springing to her feet, with such a blush
upon her face.

"Nay, child," said Vaudemont, laughingly; "your grandfather only
anticipates me. But do not talk of board and lodging; Fanny is as a
sister to me, and our purse is in common."

"I should like to feel a sovereign--just to feel it," muttered Simon, in
a sort of apologetic tone, that was really pathetic; and as Vaudemont
scattered some coins on the table, the old man clawed them up, chuckling
and talking to himself; and, rising with great alacrity, hobbled out of
the room like a raven carrying some cunning theft to its hiding-place.

This was so amusing to Vaudemont that he burst out fairly into an
uncontrollable laughter. Fanny looked at him, humbled and wondering for
some moments; and then, creeping to him, put her hand gently on his arm
and said--

"Don't laugh--it pains me. It was not nice in grand papa; but--but, it
does not mean anything. It--it--don't laugh--Fanny feels so sad!"

"Well, you are right. Come, put on your bonnet, we will go out."

Fanny obeyed; but with less ready delight than usual. And they took their
way through lanes over which hung, still in the cool air, the leaves of
the yellow autumn.

Fanny was the first to break silence.

"Do you know," she said, timidly, "that people here think me very
silly?--do you think so too?"

Vaudemont was startled by the simplicity of the question, and hesitated.
Fanny looked up in his dark face anxiously and inquiringly.

"Well," she said, "you don't answer?"

"My dear Fanny, there are some things in which I could wish you less
childlike and, perhaps, less charming. Those strange snatches of song,
for instance!"

"What! do you not like me to sing? It is my way of talking."

"Yes; sing, pretty one! But sing something that we can understand,--sing
the songs I have given you, if you will. And now, may I ask why you put
to me that question?"

"I have forgotten," said Fanny, absently, and looking down.

Now, at that instant, as Philip Vaudemont bent over the exceeding
sweetness of that young face, a sudden thrill shot through his heart, and
he, too, became silent, and lost in thought. Was it possible that there
could creep into his breast a wilder affection for this creature than
that of tenderness and pity? He was startled as the idea crossed him. He
shrank from it as a profanation--as a crime--as a frenzy. He with his
fate so uncertain and chequered--he to link himself with one so
helpless--he to debase the very poetry that clung to the mental
temperament of this pure being, with the feelings which every fair face
may awaken to every coarse heart--to love Fanny! No, it was impossible!
For what could he love in her but beauty, which the very spirit had
forgotten to guard? And she--could she even know what love was? He
despised himself for even admitting such a thought; and with that iron
and hardy vigour which belonged to his mind, resolved to watch closely
against every fancy that would pass the fairy boundary which separated
Fanny from the world of women.

He was roused from this self-commune by an abrupt exclamation from his
companion.

"Oh! I recollect now why I asked you that question. There is one thing
that always puzzles me--I want you to explain it. Why does everything in
life depend upon money? You see even my poor grandfather forgot how good
you are to us both, when--when Ah! I don't understand--it pains--it
puzzles me!"

"Fanny, look there--no, to the left--you see that old woman, in rags,
crawling wearily along; turn now to the right--you see that fine house
glancing through the trees, with a carriage and four at the gates? The
difference between that old woman and the owner of that house is--Money;
and who shall blame your grandfather for liking Money?"

Fanny understood; and while the wise man thus moralised, the girl, whom
his very compassion so haughtily contemned, moved away to the old woman
to do her little best to smooth down those disparities from which wisdom
and moralising never deduct a grain! Vaudemont felt this as he saw her
glide towards the beggar; but when she came bounding back to him, she had
forgotten his dislike to her songs, and was chaunting, in the glee of the
heart that a kind act had made glad, one of her own impromptu melodies.

Vaudemont turned away. Poor Fanny had unconsciously decided his
self-conquest; she guessed not what passed within him, but she suddenly
recollected--what he had said to her about her songs, and fancied him
displeased.

"Ah I will never do it again. Brother, don't turn away!"

"But we must go home. Hark! the clock strikes seven--I have no time to
lose. And you will promise me never to stir out till I return?"

"I shall have no heart to stir out," said Fanny, sadly; and then in a
more cheerful voice, she added, "And I shall sing the songs you like
before you come back again!"




CHAPTER VIII.

     "Well did they know that service all by rote;

     Some singing loud as if they had complained,
     Some with their notes another manner feigned."
     CHAUCER: Pie Cuckoo and the Nightingale,
     modernised by WORDSWORTH.--HORNE's Edition.

And once more, sweet Winandermere, we are on the banks of thy happy lake!
The softest ray of the soft clear sun of early autumn trembled on the
fresh waters, and glanced through the leaves of the limes and willows
that were reflected--distinct as a home for the Naiads--beneath the
limpid surface. You might hear in the bushes the young blackbirds
trilling their first untutored notes. And the graceful dragon-fly, his
wings glittering in the translucent sunshine, darted to and fro--the
reeds gathered here and there in the mimic bays that broke the shelving
marge of the grassy shore.

And by that grassy shore, and beneath those shadowy limes, sat the young
lovers. It was the very place where Spencer had first beheld Camilla. And
now they were met to say, "Farewell!"

"Oh, Camilla!" said he, with great emotion, and eyes that swam in tears,
"be firm--be true. You know how my whole life is wrapped up in your love.
You go amidst scenes where all will tempt you to forget me. I linger
behind in those which are consecrated by your remembrance, which will
speak to me every hour of you. Camilla, since you do love me--you do--do
you not?--since you have confessed it--since your parents have consented
to our marriage, provided only that your love last (for of mine there can
be no doubt) for one year--one terrible year--shall I not trust you as
truth itself? And yet how darkly I despair at times!"

Camilla innocently took the hands that, clasped together, were raised to
her, as if in supplication, and pressed them kindly between her own.

"Do not doubt me--never doubt my affection. Has not my father consented?
Reflect, it is but a year's delay!"

"A year!--can you speak thus of a year--a whole year? Not to see--not to
hear you for a whole year, except in my dreams! And, if at the end your
parents waver? Your father--I distrust him still. If this delay is but
meant to wean you from me,--if, at the end, there are new excuses
found,--if they then, for some cause or other not now foreseen, still
refuse their assent? You--may I not still look to you?"

Camilla sighed heavily; and turning her meek face on her lover, said,
timidly, "Never think that so short a time can make me unfaithful, and do
not suspect that my father will break his promise."

"But, if he does, you will still be mine."

"Ah, Charles, how could you esteem me as a wife if I were to tell you I
could forget I am a daughter?"

This was said so touchingly, and with so perfect a freedom from all
affectation, that her lover could only reply by covering her hand with
his kisses. And it was not till after a pause that he continued
passionately,--

"You do but show me how much deeper is my love than yours. You can never
dream how I love you. But I do not ask you to love me as well--it would
be impossible. My life from my earliest childhood has been passed in
these solitudes;--a happy life, though tranquil and monotonous, till you
suddenly broke upon it. You seemed to me the living form of the very
poetry I had worshipped--so bright--so heavenly--I loved you from the
very first moment that we met. I am not like other men of my age. I have
no pursuit--no occupation--nothing to abstract me from your thought. And
I love you so purely--so devotedly, Camilla. I have never known even a
passing fancy for another. You are the first--the only woman--it ever
seemed to me possible to love. You are my Eve--your presence my paradise!
Think how sad I shall be when you are gone--how I shall visit every spot
your footstep has hallowed--how I shall count every moment till the year
is past!"

While he thus spoke, he had risen in that restless agitation which
belongs to great emotion; and Camilla now rose also, and said soothingly,
as she laid her hand on his shoulder with tender but modest frankness:

"And shall I not also think of you? I am sad to feel that you will be so
much alone--no sister--no brother!"

"Do not grieve for that. The memory of you will be dearer to me than
comfort from all else. And you will be true!"

Camilla made no answer by words, but her eyes and her colour spoke. And
in that moment, while plighting eternal truth, they forgot that they were
about to part!

Meanwhile, in a room in the house which, screened by the foliage, was
only partially visible where the lovers stood, sat Mr. Robert Beaufort
and Mr. Spencer.

"I assure you, sir," said the former, "that I am not insensible to the
merits of your nephew and to the very handsome proposals you make, still
I cannot consent to abridge the time I have named. They are both very
young. What is a year?"

"It is a long time when it is a year of suspense," said the recluse,
shaking his head.

"It is a longer time when it is a year of domestic dissension and
repentance. And it is a very true proverb, 'Marry in haste and repent at
leisure.' No! If at the end of the year the young people continue of the
same mind, and no unforeseen circumstances occur--"

"No unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Beaufort!--that is a new condition--it
is a very vague phrase."

"My dear sir, it is hard to please you. Unforeseen circumstances," said
the wary father, with a wise look, "mean circumstances that we don't
foresee at present. I assure you that I have no intention to trifle with
you, and I shall be sincerely happy in so respectable a connexion."

"The young people may write to each other?"

"Why, I'll consult Mrs. Beaufort. At all events, it must not be very
often, and Camilla is well brought up, and will show all the letters to
her mother. I don't much like a correspondence of that nature. It often
leads to unpleasant results; if, for instance--"

"If what?"

"Why, if the parties change their minds, and my girl were to marry
another. It is not prudent in matters of business, my dear sir, to put
down anything on paper that can be avoided."

Mr. Spencer opened his eyes. "Matters of business, Mr. Beaufort!"

"Well, is not marriage a matter of business, and a very grave matter too?
More lawsuits about marriage and settlements, &c., than I like to think
of. But to change the subject. You have never heard anything more of
those young men, you say?"

"No," said Mr. Spencer, rather inaudibly, and looking down.

"And it is your firm impression that the elder one, Philip, is dead?"

"I don't doubt it."

"That was a very vexatious and improper lawsuit their mother brought
against me. Do you know that some wretched impostor, who, it appears, is
a convict broke loose before his time, has threatened me with another, on
the part of one of those young men? You never heard anything of it--eh?"

"Never, upon my honour."

"And, of course, you would not countenance so villanous an attempt?"

"Certainly not."

"Because that would break off our contract at once. But you are too much
a gentleman and a man of honour. Forgive me so improper a question. As
for the younger Mr. Morton, I have no ill-feeling against him. But the
elder! Oh, a thorough reprobate! a very alarming character! I could have
nothing to do with any member of the family while the elder lived; it
would only expose me to every species of insult and imposition. And now I
think we have left our young friends alone long enough.

"But stay, to prevent future misunderstanding, I may as well read over
again the heads of the arrangement you honour me by proposing. You agree
to settle your fortune after your decease, amounting to L23,000. and your
house, with twenty-five acres one rood and two poles, more or less, upon
your nephew and my daughter, jointly--remainder to their children.
Certainly, without offence, in a worldly point of view, Camilla might do
better; still, you are so very respectable, and you speak so handsomely,
that I cannot touch upon that point; and I own, that though there is a
large nominal rent-roll attached to Beaufort Court (indeed, there is not
a finer property in the county), yet there are many incumbrances, and
ready money would not be convenient to me. Arthur--poor fellow, a very
fine young man, sir,--is, as I have told you in perfect confidence, a
little imprudent and lavish; in short, your offer to dispense with any
dowry is extremely liberal, and proves your nephew is actuated by no
mercenary feelings: such conduct prepossesses me highly in your favour
and his too."

Mr. Spencer bowed, and the great man rising, with a stiff affectation of
kindly affability, put his arm into the uncle's, and strolled with him
across the lawn towards the lovers. And such is life-love on the lawn and
settlements in the parlour.

The lover was the first to perceive the approach of the elder parties.
And a change came over his face as he saw the dry aspect and marked the
stealthy stride of his future father-in-law; for then there flashed
across him a dreary reminiscence of early childhood; the happy evening
when, with his joyous father, that grave and ominous aspect was first
beheld; and then the dismal burial, the funereal sables, the carriage at
the door, and he himself clinging to the cold uncle to ask him to say a
word of comfort to the mother, who now slept far away. "Well, my young
friend," said Mr. Beaufort, patronisingly, "your good uncle and myself
are quite agreed--a little time for reflection, that's all. Oh! I don't
think the worse of you for wishing to abridge it. But papas must be
papas."

There was so little jocular about that sedate man, that this attempt at
jovial good humour seemed harsh and grating--the hinges of that wily
mouth wanted oil for a hearty smile.

"Come, don't be faint-hearted, Mr. Charles. 'Faint heart,'--you know the
proverb. You must stay and dine with us. We return to-morrow to town. I
should tell you, that I received this morning a letter from my son
Arthur, announcing his return from Baden, so we must give him the
meeting--a very joyful one you may guess. We have not seen him these
three years. Poor fellow! he says he has been very ill and the waters
have ceased to do him any good. But a little quiet and country air at
Beaufort Court will set him up, I hope."

Thus running on about his son, then about his shooting--about Beaufort
Court and its splendours--about parliament and its fatigues--about the
last French Revolution, and the last English election--about Mrs.
Beaufort and her good qualities and bad health--about, in short,
everything relating to himself, some things relating to the public, and
nothing that related to the persons to whom his conversation was
directed, Mr. Robert Beaufort wore away half an hour, when the Spencer's
took their leave, promising to return to dinner.

"Charles," said Mr. Spencer, as the boat, which the young man rowed,
bounded over the water towards their quiet home; "Charles, I dislike
these Beauforts!"

"Not the daughter?"

"No, she is beautiful, and seems good; not so handsome as your poor
mother, but who ever was?"--here Mr. Spencer sighed, and repeated some
lines from Shenstone.

"Do you think Mr. Beaufort suspects in the least who I am?"

"Why, that puzzles me; I rather think he does."

"And that is the cause of the delay? I knew it."

"No, on the contrary, I incline to think he has some kindly feeling to
you, though not to your brother, and that it is such a feeling that made
him consent to your marriage. He sifted me very closely as to what I knew
of the young Mortons--observed that you were very handsome, and that he
had fancied at first that he had seen you before."

"Indeed!"

"Yes: and looked hard at me while he spoke; and said more than once,
significantly, 'So his name is Charles?' He talked about some attempt at
imposture and litigation, but that was, evidently, merely invented to
sound me about your brother--whom, of course, he spoke ill of--impressing
on me three or four times that he would never have anything to say to any
of the family while Philip lived."

"And you told him," said the young man, hesitatingly, and with a deep
blush of shame over his face, "that you were persuaded--that is, that you
believed Philip was--was--"

"Was dead! Yes--and without confusion. For the more I reflect, the more I
think he must be dead. At all events, you may be sure that he is dead to
us, that we shall never hear more of him."

"Poor Philip!"

"Your feelings are natural; they are worthy of your excellent heart; but
remember, what would have become of you if you had stayed with him!"

"True!" said the brother, with a slight shudder--"a career of
suffering--crime--perhaps the gibbet! Ah! what do I owe you?"

The dinner-party at Mr. Beaufort's that day was constrained and formal,
though the host, in unusual good humour, sought to make himself
agreeable. Mrs. Beaufort, languid and afflicted with headache, said
little. The two Spencers were yet more silent. But the younger sat next
to her he loved; and both hearts were full: and in the evening they
contrived to creep apart into a corner by the window, through which the
starry heavens looked kindly on them. They conversed in whispers, with
long pauses between each: and at times Camilla's tears flowed silently
down her cheeks, and were followed by the false smiles intended to cheer
her lover.

Time did not fly, but crept on breathlessly and heavily. And then came
the last parting--formal, cold--before witnesses. But the lover could not
restrain his emotion, and the hard father heard his suppressed sob as he
closed the door.

It will now be well to explain the cause of Mr. Beaufort's heightened
spirits, and the motives of his conduct with respect to his daughter's
suitor.

This, perhaps, can be best done by laying before the reader the following
letters that passed between Mr. Beaufort and Lord Lilburne.

From LORD LILBURNE to ROBERT BEAUFORT, ESQ., M.P.

"DEAR BEAUFORT,--I think I have settled, pretty satisfactorily, your
affair with your unwelcome visitor. The first thing it seemed to me
necessary to do, was to learn exactly what and who he was, and with what
parties that could annoy you he held intercourse. I sent for Sharp, the
Bow Street officer, and placed him in the hall to mark, and afterwards to
dog and keep watch on your new friend. The moment the latter entered I
saw at once, from his dress and his address, that he was a 'scamp;' and
thought it highly inexpedient to place you in his power by any money
transactions. While talking with him, Sharp sent in a billet containing
his recognition of our gentleman as a transported convict.

"I acted accordingly; soon saw, from the fellow's manner, that he had
returned before his time; and sent him away with a promise, which you may
be sure he believes will be kept, that if he molest you farther, he shall
return to the colonies, and that if his lawsuit proceed, his witness or
witnesses shall be indicted for conspiracy and perjury. Make your mind
easy so far. For the rest, I own to you that I think what he says
probable enough: but my object in setting Sharp to watch him is to learn
what other parties he sees. And if there be really anything formidable in
his proofs or witnesses, it is with those other parties I advise you to
deal. Never transact business with the go between, if you can with the
principal. Remember, the two young men are the persons to arrange with
after all. They must be poor, and therefore easily dealt with. For, if
poor, they will think a bird in the hand worth two in the bush of a
lawsuit.

"If, through Mr. Spencer, you can learn anything of either of the young
men, do so; and try and open some channel, through which you can always
establish a communication with them, if necessary. Perhaps, by learning
their early history, you may learn something to put them into your power.

"I have had a twinge of the gout this morning, and am likely, I fear, to
be laid up for some weeks.

"Yours truly,
"LILBURNE.

"P.S.--Sharp has just been here. He followed the man who calls himself
'Captain Smith' to a house in Lambeth, where he lodges, and from which he
did not stir till midnight, when Sharp ceased his watch. On renewing it
this morning, he found that the captain had gone off, to what place Sharp
has not yet discovered.

"Burn this immediately."

From ROBERT BEAUFORT, ESQ., M.P., to the LORD LILBURNE.

"DEAR, LILBURNE,--Accept my warmest thanks for your kindness; you have
done admirably, and I do not see that I have anything further to
apprehend. I suspect that it was an entire fabrication on that man's
part, and your firmness has foiled his wicked designs. Only think, I have
discovered--I am sure of it--one of the Mortons; and he, too, though the
younger, yet, in all probability, the sole pretender the fellow could set
up. You remember that the child Sidney had disappeared mysteriously,--you
remember also, how much that Mr. Spencer had interested himself in
finding out the same Sidney. Well,--this gentleman at the Lakes is, as we
suspected, the identical Mr. Spencer, and his soi-disant nephew,
Camilla's suitor, is assuredly no other than the lost Sidney. The moment
I saw the young man I recognised him, for he is very little altered, and
has a great look of his mother into the bargain. Concealing my more than
suspicions, I, however, took care to sound Mr. Spencer (a very poor
soul), and his manner was so embarrassed as to leave no doubt of the
matter; but in asking him what he had heard of the brothers, I had the
satisfaction of learning that, in all human probability, the elder is
dead: of this Mr. Spencer seems convinced. I also assured myself that
neither Spencer nor the young man had the remotest connection with our
Captain Smith, nor any idea of litigation. This is very satisfactory, you
will allow. And now, I hope you will approve of what I have done. I find
that young Morton, or Spencer, as he is called, is desperately enamoured
of Camilla; he seems a meek, well-conditioned, amiable young man; writes
poetry;--in short, rather weak than otherwise. I have demanded a year's
delay, to allow mutual trial and reflection. This gives us the channel
for constant information which you advise me to establish, and I shall
have the opportunity to learn if the impostor makes any communication to
them, or if there be any news of the brother. If by any trick or
chicanery (for I will never believe that there was a marriage) a lawsuit
that might be critical or hazardous can be cooked up, I can, I am sure,
make such terms with Sidney, through his love for my daughter, as would
effectively and permanently secure me from all further trouble and
machinations in regard to my property. And if, during the year, we
convince ourselves that, after all, there is not a leg of law for any
claimant to stand on, I may be guided by other circumstances how far I
shall finally accept or reject the suit. That must depend on any other
views we may then form for Camilla; and I shall not allow a hint of such
an engagement to get abroad. At the worst, as Mr. Spencer's heir, it is
not so very bad a match, seeing that they dispense with all marriage
portion, &c.--a proof how easily they can be managed. I have not let Mr.
Spencer see that I have discovered his secret--I can do that or not,
according to circumstances hereafter; neither have I said anything of my
discovery to Mrs. B., or Camilla. At present, 'Least said soonest
mended.' I heard from Arthur to-day. He is on his road home, and we
hasten to town, sooner than we expected, to meet him. He complains still
of his health. We shall all go down to Beaufort Court. I write this at
night, the pretended uncle and sham nephew having just gone. But though
we start to-morrow, you will get this a day or two before we arrive, as
Mrs. Beaufort's health renders short stages necessary. I really do hope
that Arthur, also, will not be an invalid, poor fellow! one in a family
is quite enough; and I find Mrs. Beaufort's delicacy very inconvenient,
especially in moving about and in keeping up one's county connexions. A
young man's health, however, is soon restored. I am very sorry to hear of
your gout, except that it carries off all other complaints. I am very
well, thank Heaven; indeed, my health has been much better of late years:
Beaufort Court agrees with me so well! The more I reflect, the more I am
astonished at the monstrous and wicked impudence of that fellow--to
defraud a man out of his own property! You are quite right,--certainly a
conspiracy.

"Yours truly,
"R. B."

"P. S.--I shall keep a constant eye on the Spencers.

"Burn this immediately."

After he had written and sealed this letter, Mr. Beaufort went to bed and
slept soundly.

And the next day that place was desolate, and the board on the lawn
announced that it was again to be let. But thither daily, in rain or
sunshine, came the solitary lover, as a bird that seeks its young in the
deserted nest:--Again and again he haunted the spot where he had strayed
with the lost one,--and again and again murmured his passionate vows
beneath the fast-fading limes. Are those vows destined to be ratified or
annulled? Will the absent forget, or the lingerer be consoled? Had the
characters of that young romance been lightly stamped on the fancy where
once obliterated they are erased for ever,--or were they graven deep in
those tablets where the writing, even when invisible, exists still, and
revives, sweet letter by letter, when the light and the warmth borrowed
from the One Bright Presence are applied to the faithful record? There is
but one Wizard to disclose that secret, as all others,--the old
Grave-digger, whose Churchyard is the Earth,--whose trade is to find
burial-places for Passions that seemed immortal,--disinterring the ashes
of some long-crumbling Memory--to hollow out the dark bed of some
new-perished Hope:--He who determines all things, and prophesies
none,--for his oracles are uncomprehended till the doom is sealed--He who
in the bloom of the fairest affection detects the hectic that consumes
it, and while the hymn rings at the altar, marks with his joyless eye the
grave for the bridal vow.--Wherever is the sepulchre, there is thy
temple, O melancholy Time!




BOOK V.




CHAPTER I.

     "Per ambages et ministeria deorum."--PETRONTUS.

     [Through the mysteries and ministerings of the gods.]

Mr. Roger Morton was behind his counter one drizzling, melancholy day.
Mr. Roger Morton, alderman, and twice mayor of his native town, was a
thriving man. He had grown portly and corpulent. The nightly potations of
brandy and water, continued year after year with mechanical perseverance,
had deepened the roses on his cheek. Mr. Roger Morton was never
intoxicated--he "only made himself comfortable." His constitution was
strong; but, somehow or other, his digestion was not as good as it might
be. He was certain that something or other disagreed with him. He left
off the joint one day--the pudding another. Now he avoided vegetables as
poison--and now he submitted with a sigh to the doctor's interdict of his
cigar. Mr. Roger Morton never thought of leaving off the brandy and
water: and he would have resented as the height of impertinent
insinuation any hint upon that score to a man of so sober and respectable
a character.

Mr. Roger Morton was seated--for the last four years, ever since his
second mayoralty, he had arrogated to himself the dignity of a chair. He
received rather than served his customers. The latter task was left to
two of his sons. For Tom, after much cogitation, the profession of an
apothecary had been selected. Mrs. Morton observed, that it was a genteel
business, and Tom had always been a likely lad. And Mr. Roger considered
that it would be a great comfort and a great saving to have his medical
adviser in his own son.

The other two sons and the various attendants of the shop were plying the
profitable trade, as customer after customer, with umbrellas and in
pattens, dropped into the tempting shelter--when a man, meanly dressed,
and who was somewhat past middle age, with a careworn, hungry face,
entered timidly. He waited in patience by the crowded counter, elbowed by
sharp-boned and eager spinsters--and how sharp the elbows of spinsters
are, no man can tell who has not forced his unwelcome way through the
agitated groups in a linendraper's shop!--the man, I say, waited
patiently and sadly, till the smallest of the shopboys turned from a
lady, who, after much sorting and shading, had finally decided on two
yards of lilac-coloured penny riband, and asked, in an insinuating
professional tone,--

"What shall I show you, sir?"

"I wish to speak to Mr. Morton. Which is he?"

"Mr. Morton is engaged, sir. I can give you what you want."

"No--it is a matter of business--important business." The boy eyed the
napless and dripping hat, the gloveless hands, and the rusty neckcloth of
the speaker; and said, as he passed his fingers through a profusion of
light curls "Mr. Morton don't attend much to business himself now; but
that's he. Any cravats, sir?"

The man made no answer, but moved where, near the window, and chatting
with the banker of the town (as the banker tried on a pair of beaver
gloves), sat still--after due apology for sitting--Mr. Roger Morton.

The alderman lowered his spectacles as he glanced grimly at the lean
apparition that shaded the spruce banker, and said,--

"Do you want me, friend?"

"Yes, sir, if you please;" and the man took off his shabby hat, and bowed
low.

"Well, speak out. No begging petition, I hope?"

"No, sir! Your nephews--"

The banker turned round, and in his turn eyed the newcomer. The
linendraper started back.

"Nephews!" he repeated, with a bewildered look. "What does the man mean?
Wait a bit."

"Oh, I've done!" said the banker, smiling. "I am glad to find we agree so
well upon this question: I knew we should. Our member will never suit us
if he goes on in this way. Trade must take care of itself. Good day to
You!"

"Nephews!" repeated Mr. Morton, rising, and beckoning to the man to
follow him into the back parlour, where Mrs. Morton sat casting up the
washing bills.

"Now," said the husband, closing the door, "what do you mean, my good
fellow?"

"Sir, what I wish to ask you is-if you can tell me what has become of--of
the young Beau--, that is, of your sister's sons. I understand there were
two--and I am told that--that they are both dead. Is it so?"

"What is that to you, friend?"

"An please you, sir, it is a great deal to them!"

"Yes--ha! ha! it is a great deal to everybody whether they are alive or
dead!" Mr. Morton, since he had been mayor, now and then had his joke.
"But really--"

"Roger!" said Mrs. Morton, under her breath--"Roger!"

"Yes, my dear."

"Come this way--I want to speak to you about this bill." The husband
approached, and bent over his wife. "Who's this man?"

"I don't know."

"Depend on it, he has some claim to make-some bills or something. Don't
commit yourself--the boys are dead for what we know!"

Mr. Morton hemmed and returned to his visitor.

"To tell you the truth, I am not aware of what has become of the young
men."

"Then they are not dead--I thought not!" exclaimed the man, joyously.

"That's more than I can say. It's many years since I lost sight of the
only one I ever saw; and they may be both dead for what I know."

"Indeed!" said the man. "Then you can give me no kind of--of--hint like,
to find them out?"

"No. Do they owe you anything?"

"It does not signify talking now, sir. I beg your pardon."

"Stay--who are you?"

"I am a very poor man, sir."

Mr. Morton recoiled.

"Poor! Oh, very well--very well. You have done with me now. Good
day--good day. I'm busy."

The stranger pecked for a moment at his hat--turned the handle of the
door-peered under his grey eyebrows at the portly trader, who, with both
hands buried in his pockets, his mouth pursed up, like a man about to say
"No" fidgeted uneasily behind Mrs. Morton's chair. He sighed, shook his
head, and vanished.

Mrs. Morton rang the bell-the maid-servant entered. "Wipe the carpet,
Jenny;--dirty feet! Mr. Morton, it's a Brussels!"

"It was not my fault, my dear. I could not talk about family matters
before the whole shop. Do you know, I'd quite forgot those poor boys.
This unsettles me. Poor Catherine! she was so fond of them. A pretty boy
that Sidney, too. What can have become of them? My heart rebukes me. I
wish I had asked the man more."

"More!--why he was just going to beg."

"Beg--yes--very true!" said Mr. Morton, pausing irresolutely; and then,
with a hearty tone, he cried out, "And, damme, if he had begged, I could
afford him a shilling! I'll go after him." So saying, he hastened back
through the shop, but the man was gone--the rain was falling, Mr. Morton
had his thin shoes on--he blew his nose, and went back to the counter.
But, there, still rose to his memory the pale face of his dead sister;
and a voice murmured in his ear, "Brother, where is my child?"

"Pshaw! it is not my fault if he ran away. Bob, go and get me the county
paper."

Mr. Morton had again settled himself, and was deep in a trial for murder,
when another stranger strode haughtily into the shop. The new-comer,
wrapped in a pelisse of furs, with a thick moustache, and an eye that
took in the whole shop, from master to boy, from ceiling to floor, in a
glance, had the air at once of a foreigner and a soldier. Every look
fastened on him, as he paused an instant, and then walking up to the
alderman, said,--

"Sir, you are doubtless Mr. Morton?"

"At your commands, sir," said Roger, rising involuntarily.

"A word with you, then, on business."

"Business!" echoed Mr. Morton, turning rather pale, for he began to think
himself haunted; "anything in my line, sir? I should be--"

The stranger bent down his tall stature, and hissed into Mr. Morton's
foreboding ear:

"Your nephews!"

Mr. Morton was literally dumb-stricken. Yes, he certainly was haunted! He
stared at this second questioner, and fancied that there was something
very supernatural and unearthly about him. He was so tall, and so dark,
and so stern, and so strange. Was it the Unspeakable himself come for the
linendraper? Nephews again! The uncle of the babes in the wood could
hardly have been more startled by the demand!

"Sir," said Mr. Morton at last, recovering his dignity and somewhat
peevishly,--"sir, I don't know why people should meddle with my family
affairs. I don't ask other folks about their nephews. I have no nephew
that I know of."

"Permit me to speak to you, alone, for one instant." Mr. Morton sighed,
hitched up his trousers, and led the way to the parlour, where Mrs.
Morton, having finished the washing bills, was now engaged in tying
certain pieces of bladder round certain pots of preserves. The eldest
Miss Morton, a young woman of five or six-and-twenty, who was about to be
very advantageously married to a young gentleman who dealt in coals and
played the violin (for N----- was a very musical town), had just joined
her for the purpose of extorting "The Swiss Boy, with variations," out of
a sleepy little piano, that emitted a very painful cry under the
awakening fingers of Miss Margaret Morton.

Mr. Morton threw open the door with a grunt, and the stranger pausing at
the threshold, the full flood of sound (key C) upon which "the Swiss Boy"
was swimming along, "kine" and all, for life and death, came splash upon
him.

"Silence! can't you?" cried the father, putting one hand to his ear,
while with the other he pointed to a chair; and as Mrs. Morton looked up
from the preserves with that air of indignant suffering with which female
meekness upbraids a husband's wanton outrage, Mr. Roger added, shrugging
his shoulders,--

"My nephews again, Mrs. K!"

Miss Margaret turned round, and dropped a courtesy. Mrs. Morton gently
let fall a napkin over the preserves, and muttered a sort of salutation,
as the stranger, taking off his hat, turned to mother and daughter one of
those noble faces in which Nature has written her grant and warranty of
the lordship of creation.

"Pardon me," he said, "if I disturb you. But my business will be short. I
have come to ask you, sir, frankly, and as one who has a right to ask it,
what tidings you can give me of Sidney Morton?"

"Sir, I know nothing whatever about him. He was taken from my house,
about twelve years since, by his brother. Myself, and the two Mr.
Beauforts, and another friend of the family, went in search of them both.
My search failed."

"And theirs?"

"I understood from Mr. Beaufort that they had not been more successful. I
have had no communication with those gentlemen since. But that's neither
here nor there. In all probability, the elder of the boys--who, I fear,
was a sad character--corrupted and ruined his brother; and, by this time,
Heaven knows what and where they are."

"And no one has inquired of you since--no one has asked the brother of
Catherine Morton, nay, rather of Catherine Beaufort--where is the child
intrusted to your care?"

This question, so exactly similar to that which his superstition had rung
on his own ears, perfectly appalled the worthy alderman. He staggered
back-stared at the marked and stern face that lowered upon him--and at
last cried,--

"For pity's sake, sir, be just! What could I do for one who left me of
his own accord?--"

"The day you had beaten him like a dog. You see, Mr. Morton, I know all."

"And what are you?" said Mr. Morton, recovering his English courage, and
feeling himself strangely browbeaten in his own house;--"What and who are
you, that you thus take the liberty to catechise a man of my character
and respectability?"

"Twice mayor--" began Mrs. Morton.

"Hush, mother!" whispered Miss Margaret,--"don't work him up."

"I repeat, sir, what are you?"

"What am I?--your nephew! Who am I? Before men, I bear a name that I have
assumed, and not dishonoured--before Heaven I am Philip Beaufort!"

Mrs. Morton dropped down upon her stool. Margaret murmured "My cousin!"
in a tone that the ear of the musical coal-merchant might not have
greatly relished. And Mr. Morton, after a long pause, came up with a
frank and manly expression of joy, and said:--

"Then, sir, I thank Heaven, from my heart, that one of my sister's
children stands alive before me!"

"And now, again, I--I whom you accuse of having corrupted and ruined
him--him for whom I toiled and worked--him, who was to me, then, as a
last surviving son to some anxious father--I, from whom he was reft and
robbed--I ask you again for Sidney--for my brother!"

"And again, I say, that I have no information to give you--that--Stay a
moment-stay. You must pardon what I have said of you before you made
yourself known. I went but by the accounts I had received from Mr.
Beaufort. Let me speak plainly; that gentleman thought, right or wrong,
that it would be a great thing to separate your brother from you. He may
have found him--it must be so--and kept his name and condition concealed
from us all, lest you should detect it. Mrs. M., don't you think so?"

"I'm sure I'm so terrified I don't know what to think," said Mrs. Morton,
putting her hand to her forehead, and see-sawing herself to and fro upon
her stool.

"But since they wronged you--since you--you seem so very--very--"

"Very much the gentleman," suggested Miss Margaret. "Yes, so much the
gentleman;--well off, too, I should hope, sir,"--and the experienced eye
of Mr. Morton glanced at the costly sables that lined the
pelisse,--"there can be no difficulty in your learning from Mr. Beaufort
all that you wish to know. And pray, sir, may I ask, did you send any one
here to-day to make the very inquiry you have made?"

"I?--No. What do you mean?"

"Well, well--sit down--there may be something in all this that you may
make out better than I can."

And as Philip obeyed, Mr. Morton, who was really and honestly rejoiced to
see his sister's son alive and apparently thriving, proceeded to relate
pretty exactly the conversation he had held with the previous visitor.
Philip listened earnestly and with attention. Who could this questioner
be? Some one who knew his birth--some one who sought him out?--some one,
who--Good Heavens! could it be the long-lost witness of the marriage?

As soon as that idea struck him, he started from his seat and entreated
Morton to accompany him in search of the stranger. "You know not," he
said, in a tone impressed with that energy of will in which lay the
talent of his mind,--"you know not of what importance this may be to my
prospects--to your sister's fair name. If it should be the witness
returned at last! Who else, of the rank you describe, would be interested
in such inquiries? Come!"

"What witness?" said Mrs. Morton, fretfully. "You don't mean to come over
us with the old story of the marriage?"

"Shall your wife slander your own sister, sir? A marriage there was--God
yet will proclaim the right--and the name of Beaufort shall be yet placed
on my mother's gravestone. Come!"

"Here are your shoes and umbrella, pa," cried Miss Margaret, inspired by
Philip's earnestness.

"My fair cousin, I guess," and as the soldier took her hand, he kissed
the unreluctant cheek--turned to the door--Mr. Morton placed his arm in
his, and the next moment they were in the street.

When Catherine, in her meek tones, had said, "Philip Beaufort was my
husband," Roger Morton had disbelieved her. And now one word from the
son, who could, in comparison, know so little of the matter, had almost
sufficed to convert and to convince the sceptic. Why was this?
Because--Man believes the Strong!




CHAPTER II.

        "--Quid Virtus et quid Sapientia possit
        Utile proposuit nobis exemplar Ulssem." HOR.

     ["He has proposed to us Ulysses as a useful example of how
     much may be accomplished by Virtue and Wisdom."]

Meanwhile the object of their search, on quitting Mr. Morton's shop, had
walked slowly and sadly on, through the plashing streets, till he came to
a public house in the outskirts and on the high road to London. Here he
took shelter for a short time, drying himself by the kitchen fire, with
the license purchased by fourpenny-worth of gin; and having learned that
the next coach to London would not pass for some hours, he finally
settled himself in the Ingle, till the guard's horn should arouse him. By
the same coach that the night before had conveyed Philip to N----, had
the very man he sought been also a passenger!

The poor fellow was sickly and wearied out: he had settled into a doze,
when he was suddenly wakened by the wheels of a coach and the trampling
of horses. Not knowing how long he had slept, and imagining that the
vehicle he had awaited was at the door, he ran out. It was a coach coming
from London, and the driver was joking with a pretty barmaid who, in
rather short petticoats, was fielding up to him the customary glass. The
man, after satisfying himself that his time was not yet come, was turning
back to the fire, when a head popped itself out of the window, and a
voice cried, "Stars and garters! Will--so that's you!" At the sound of
the voice the man halted abruptly, turned very pale, and his limbs
trembled. The inside passenger opened the door, jumped out with a little
carpet-bag in his hand, took forth a long leathern purse from which he
ostentatiously selected the coins that paid his fare and satisfied the
coachman, and then, passing his arm through that of the acquaintance he
had discovered, led him back into the house.

"Will--Will," he whispered, "you have been to the Mortons. Never
moind--let's hear all. Jenny or Dolly, or whatever your sweet praetty
name is--a private room and a pint of brandy, my dear. Hot water and lots
of the grocery. That's right."

And as soon as the pair found themselves, with the brandy before them, in
a small parlour with a good fire, the last comer went to the door, shut
it cautiously, flung his bag under the table, took off his gloves, spread
himself wider and wider before the fire, until he had entirely excluded
every ray from his friend, and then suddenly turning so that the back
might enjoy what the front had gained, he exclaimed.

"Damme, Will, you're a praetty sort of a broather to give me the slip in
that way. But in this world every man for his-self!"

"I tell you," said William, with something like decision in his voice,
"that I will not do any wrong to these young men if they live."

"Who asks you to do a wrong to them?--booby! Perhaps I may be the best
friend they may have yet--ay, or you too, though you're the ungratefulest
whimsicallist sort of a son of a gun that ever I came across. Come, help
yourself, and don't roll up your eyes in that way, like a Muggletonian
asoide of a Fye-Fye!"

Here the speaker paused a moment, and with a graver and more natural tone
of voice proceeded:

"So you did not believe me when I told you that these brothers were dead,
and you have been to the Mortons to learn more?"

"Yes."

"Well, and what have you learned?"

"Nothing. Morton declares that he does not know that they are alive, but
he says also that he does not know that they are dead."

"Indeed," said the other, listening with great attention; "and you really
think that he does not know anything about them?"

"I do, indeed."

"Hum! Is he a sort of man who would post down the rhino to help the
search?"

"He looked as if he had the yellow fever when I said I was poor,"
returned William, turning round, and trying to catch a glimpse at the
fire, as he gulped his brandy and water.

"Then I'll be d---d if I run the risk of calling. I have done some things
in this town by way of business before now; and though it's a long time
ago, yet folks don't forget a haundsome man in a hurry--especially if he
has done 'em! Now, then, listen to me. You see, I have given this matter
all the 'tention in my power. 'If the lads be dead,' said I to you, 'it
is no use burning one's fingers by holding a candle to bones in a coffin.
But Mr. Beaufort need not know they are dead, and we'll see what we can
get out of him; and if I succeeds, as I think I shall, you and I may hold
up our heads for the rest of our life.' Accordingly, as I told you, I
went to Mr. Beaufort, and--'Gad, I thought we had it all our own way. But
since I saw you last, there's been the devil and all. When I called
again, Will, I was shown in to an old lord, sharp as a gimblet. Hang me,
William, if he did not frighten me out of my seven senses!"

Here Captain Smith (the reader has, no doubt, already discovered that the
speaker was no less a personage) took three or four nervous strides
across the room, returned to the table, threw himself in a chair, placed
one foot on one hob, and one on the other, laid his finger on his nose,
and, with a significant wink, said in a whisper, "Will, he knew I had
been lagged! He not only refused to hear all I had to say, but threatened
to prosecute--persecute, hang, draw, and quarter us both, if we ever
dared to come out with the truth."

"But what's the good of the truth if the boys are dead?" said William,
timidly.

The captain, without heeding this question, continued, as he stirred the
sugar in his glass, "Well, out I sneaked, and as soon as I had got to my
own door I turned round and saw Sharp the runner on the other side of the
way--I felt deuced queer. However, I went in, sat down, and began to
think. I saw that it was up with us, so far as the old uns were
concerned; and it might be worth while to find out if the young uns
really were dead."

"Then you did not know that after all! I thought so. Oh, Jerry!"

"Why, look you, man, it was not our interest to take their side if we
could make our bargain out of the other. 'Cause why? You are only one
witness--you are a good fellow, but poor, and with very shaky nerves,
Will. You does not know what them big wigs are when a roan's caged in a
witness-box--they flank one up, and they flank one down, and they bully
and bother, till one's like a horse at Astley's dancing on hot iron. If
your testimony broke down, why it would be all up with the case, and what
then would become of us? Besides," added the captain, with dignified
candour, "I have been lagged, it's no use denying it; I am back before my
time. Inquiries about your respectability would soon bring the bulkies
about me. And you would not have poor Jerry sent back to that d---d low
place on t'other side of the herring-pond, would you?"

"Ah, Jerry!" said William, kindly placing his hand in his brother's, "you
know I helped you to escape; I left all to come over with you."

"So you did, and you're a good fellow; though as to leaving all, why you
had got rid of all first. And when you told me about the marriage, did
not I say that I saw our way to a snug thing for life? But to return to
my story. There is a danger in going with the youngsters. But since,
Will,--since nothing but hard words is to be got on the other side, we'll
do our duty, and I'll find them out, and do the best I can for us--that
is, if they be yet above ground. And now I'll own to you that I think I
knows that the younger one is alive."

"You do?"

"Yes! But as he won't come in for anything unless his brother is dead, we
must have a hunt for the heir. Now I told you that, many years ago, there
was a lad with me, who, putting all things together--seeing how the
Beauforts came after him, and recollecting different things he let out at
the time--I feel pretty sure is your old master's Hopeful. I know that
poor Will Gawtrey gave this lad the address of Old Gregg, a friend of
mine. So after watching Sharp off the sly, I went that very night, or
rather at two in the morning, to Gregg's house, and, after brushing up
his memory, I found that the lad had been to him, and gone over
afterwards to Paris in search of Gawtrey, who was then keeping a
matrimony shop. As I was not rich enough to go off to Paris in a
pleasant, gentlemanlike way, I allowed Gregg to put me up to a noice
quiet little bit of business. Don't shake your head--all safe--a rural
affair! That took some days. You see it has helped to new rig me," and
the captain glanced complacently over a very smart suit of clothes.
"Well, on my return I went to call on you, but you had flown. I half
suspected you might have gone to the mother's relations here; and I
thought, at all events, that I could not do better than go myself and see
what they knew of the matter. From what you say I feel I had better now
let that alone, and go over to Paris at once; leave me alone to find out.
And faith, what with Sharp and the old lord, the sooner I quit England
the better."

"And you really think you shall get hold of them after all? Oh, never
fear my nerves if I'm once in the right; it's living with you, and seeing
you do wrong, and hearing you talk wickedly, that makes me tremble."

"Bother!" said the captain, "you need not crow over me. Stand up, Will;
there now, look at us two in the glass! Why, I look ten years younger
than you do, in spite of all my troubles. I dress like a gentleman, as I
am; I have money in my pocket; I put money in yours; without me you'd
starve. Look you, you carried over a little fortune to Australia--you
married--you farmed--you lived honestly, and yet that d---d shilly-shally
disposition of yours, 'ticed into one speculation to-day, and scared out
of another to-morrow, ruined you!"

"Jerry! Jerry!" cried William, writhing; "don't--don't."

"But it's all true, and I wants to cure you of preaching. And then, when
you were nearly run out, instead of putting a bold face on it, and
setting your shoulder to the wheel, you gives it up--you sells what you
have--you bolts over, wife and all, to Boston, because some one tells you
you can do better in America--you are out of the way when a search is
made for you--years ago when you could have benefited yourself and your
master's family without any danger to you or me--nobody can find you;
'cause why, you could not bear that your old friends in England, or in
the colony either, should know that you were turned a slave-driver in
Kentucky. You kick up a mutiny among the niggers by moaning over them,
instead of keeping 'em to it--you get kicked out yourself--your wife begs
you to go back to Australia, where her relations will do something for
you--you work your passage out, looking as ragged as a colt from
grass--wife's uncle don't like ragged nephews-in-law--wife dies
broken-hearted--and you might be breaking stones on the roads with the
convicts, if I, myself a convict, had not taken compassion on you. Don't
cry, Will, it is all for your own good--I hates cant! Whereas I, my own
master from eighteen, never stooped to serve any other--have dressed like
a gentleman--kissed the pretty girls--drove my pheaton--been in all the
papers as 'the celebrated Dashing Jerry'--never wanted a guinea in my
pocket, and even when lagged at last, had a pretty little sum in the
colonial bank to lighten my misfortunes. I escape,--I bring you over--and
here I am, supporting you, and in all probability, the one on whom
depends the fate of one of the first families in the country. And you
preaches at me, do you? Look you, Will;--in this world, honesty's nothing
without force of character! And so your health!"

Here the captain emptied the rest of the brandy into his glass, drained
it at a draught, and, while poor William was wiping his eyes with a
ragged blue pocket-handkerchief, rang the bell, and asked what coaches
would pass that way to -----, a seaport town at some distance. On hearing
that there was one at six o'clock, the captain ordered the best dinner
the larder would afford to be got ready as soon as possible; and, when
they were again alone, thus accosted his brother:--

"Now you go back to town--here are four shiners for you. Keep
quiet--don't speak to a soul--don't put your foot in it, that's all I
beg, and I'll find out whatever there is to be found. It is damnably out
of my way embarking at -----, but I had best keep clear of Lunnon. And I
tell you what, if these youngsters have hopped the twig, there's another
bird on the bough that may prove a goldfinch after all--Young Arthur
Beaufort: I hear he is a wild, expensive chap, and one who can't live
without lots of money. Now, it's easy to frighten a man of that sort, and
I cha'n't have the old lord at his elbow."

"But I tell you, that I only care for my poor master's children."

"Yes; but if they are dead, and by saying they are alive, one can make
old age comfortable, there's no harm in it--eh?"

"I don't know," said William, irresolutely. "But certainly it is a hard
thing to be so poor at my time of life; and so honest a man as I've been,
too!"

Captain Smith went a little too far when he said that "honesty's nothing
without force of character." Still, Honesty has no business to be
helpless and draggle-tailed;--she must be active and brisk, and make use
of her wits; or, though she keep clear or the prison, 'tis no very great
wonder if she fall on the parish.




CHAPTER III.

     "Mitis.--This Macilente, signior, begins to be more sociable on
     a sudden." Every Man out of his Humour.

     "Punt. Signior, you are sufficiently instructed.

     "Fast. Who, I, sir?"--Ibid.

After spending the greater part of the day in vain inquiries and a vain
search, Philip and Mr. Morton returned to the house of the latter.

"And now," said Philip, "all that remains to be done is this: first give
to the police of the town a detailed description of the man; and
secondly, let us put an advertisement both in the county journal and in
some of the London papers, to the effect, that if the person who called
on you will take the trouble to apply again, either personally or by
letter, he may obtain the information sought for. In case he does, I will
trouble you to direct him to--yes--to Monsieur de Vaudemont, according to
this address."

"Not to you, then?"

"It is the same thing," replied Philip, drily. "You have confirmed my
suspicions, that the Beauforts know some thing of my brother. What did
you say of some other friend of the family who assisted in the search?"

"Oh,--a Mr. Spencer! an old acquaintance of your mother's." Here Mr.
Morton smiled, but not being encouraged in a joke, went on, "However,
that's neither here nor there; he certainly never found out your brother.
For I have had several letters from him at different times, asking if any
news had been heard of either of you."

And, indeed, Spencer had taken peculiar pains to deceive the Mortons,
whose interposition he feared little less than that of the Beauforts.

"Then it can be of no use to apply to him," said Philip, carelessly, not
having any recollection of the name of Spencer, and therefore attaching
little importance to the mention of him.

"Certainly, I should think not. Depend on it, Mr. Beaufort must know."

"True," said Philip. "And I have only to thank you for your kindness, and
return to town."

"But stay with us this day--do--let me feel that we are friends. I assure
you poor Sidney's fate has been a load on my mind ever since he left. You
shall have the bed he slept in, and over which your mother bent when she
left him and me for the last time."

These words were said with so much feeling, that the adventurer wrung his
uncle's hand, and said, "Forgive me, I wronged you--I will be your
guest."

Mrs. Morton, strange to say, evinced no symptoms of ill-humour at the
news of the proffered hospitality. In fact, Miss Margaret had been so
eloquent in Philip's praise during his absence, that she suffered herself
to be favourably impressed. Her daughter, indeed, had obtained a sort of
ascendency over Mrs. M. and the whole house, ever since she had received
so excellent an offer. And, moreover, some people are like dogs--they
snarl at the ragged and fawn on the well-dressed. Mrs. Morton did not
object to a nephew de facto, she only objected to a nephew in forma
pauperis. The evening, therefore, passed more cheerfully than might have
been anticipated, though Philip found some difficulty in parrying the
many questions put to him on the past. He contented himself with saying,
as briefly as possible, that he had served in a foreign service, and
acquired what sufficed him for an independence; and then, with the ease
which a man picks up in the great world, turned the conversation to the
prospects of the family whose guest he was. Having listened with due
attention to Mrs. Morton's eulogies on Tom, who had been sent for, and
who drank the praises on his own gentility into a very large pair of
blushing ears,--also, to her self-felicitations on Miss Margaret's
marriage,--item, on the service rendered to the town by Mr. Roger, who
had repaired the town-hall in his first mayoralty at his own
expense,--item, to a long chronicle of her own genealogy, how she had one
cousin a clergyman, and how her great-grandfather had been
knighted,--item, to the domestic virtues of all her children,--item, to a
confused explanation of the chastisement inflicted on Sidney, which
Philip cut short in the middle; he asked, with a smile, what had become
of the Plaskwiths. "Oh!" said Mrs. Morton, "my brother Kit has retired
from business. His son-in-law, Mr. Plimmins, has succeeded."

"Oh, then, Plimmins married one of the young ladies?"

"Yes, Jane--she bad a sad squint!--Tom, there is nothing to laugh at,--we
are all as God made us,--'Handsome is as handsome does,'--she has had
three little uns!"

"Do they squint too?" asked Philip; and Miss Margaret giggled, and Tom
roared, and the other young men roared too. Philip had certainly said
something very witty.

This time Mrs. Morton administered no reproof; but replied pensively

"Natur is very mysterious--they all squint!"

Mr. Morton conducted Philip to his chamber. There it was, fresh, clean,
unaltered--the same white curtains, the same honeysuckle paper as when
Catherine had crept across the threshold.

"Did Sidney ever tell you that his mother placed a ring round his neck
that night?" asked Mr. Morton.

"Yes; and the dear boy wept when he said that he had slept too soundly to
know that she was by his side that last, last time. The ring--oh, how
well I remember it! she never put it off till then; and often in the
fields--for we were wild wanderers together in that day--often when his
head lay on my shoulder, I felt that ring still resting on his heart, and
fancied it was a talisman--a blessing. Well, well-good night to you!" And
he shut the door on his uncle, and was alone.




CHAPTER IV.

        "The Man of Law, . . . . . . .
        And a great suit is like to be between them."
        BEN JONSON: Staple of News.

On arriving in London, Philip went first to the lodging he still kept
there, and to which his letters were directed; and, among some
communications from Paris, full of the politics and the hopes of the
Carlists, he found the following note from Lord Lilburne:--

"DEAR SIR,--When I met you the other day I told you I had been threatened
with the gout. The enemy has now taken possession of the field. I am
sentenced to regimen and the sofa. But as it is my rule in life to make
afflictions as light as possible, so I have asked a few friends to take
compassion on me, and help me 'to shuffle off this mortal coil' by
dealing me, if they can, four by honours. Any time between nine and
twelve to-night, or to-morrow night, you will find me at home; and if you
are not better engaged, suppose you dine with me to-day--or rather dine
opposite to me--and excuse my Spartan broth. You will meet (besides any
two or three friends whom an impromptu invitation may find disengaged) my
sister, with Beaufort and their daughter: they only arrived in town this
morning, and are kind enough 'to nurse me,' as they call it,--that is to
say, their cook is taken ill!
                   "Yours,
                      "LILBURNE
"Park Lane, Sept. --"

"The Beauforts. Fate favors me--I will go. The date is for to-day."

He sent off a hasty line to accept the invitation, and finding he had a
few hours yet to spare, he resolved to employ them in consultation with
some lawyer as to the chances of ultimately regaining his inheritance--a
hope which, however wild, he had, since his return to his native shore,
and especially since he had heard of the strange visit made to Roger
Morton, permitted himself to indulge. With this idea he sallied out,
meaning to consult Liancourt, who, having a large acquaintance among the
English, seemed the best person to advise him as to the choice of a
lawyer at once active and honest,--when he suddenly chanced upon that
gentleman himself.

"This is lucky, my dear Liancourt. I was just going to your lodgings."

"And I was coming to yours to know if you dine with Lord Lilburne. He
told me he had asked you. I have just left him. And, by the sofa of
Mephistopheles, there was the prettiest Margaret you ever beheld."

"Indeed!--Who?"

"He called her his niece; but I should doubt if he had any relation on
this side the Styx so human as a niece."

"You seem to have no great predilection for our host."

"My dear Vaudemont, between our blunt, soldierly natures, and those wily,
icy, sneering intellects, there is the antipathy of the dog to the cat."

"Perhaps so on our side, not on his--or why does he invite us?"

"London is empty; there is no one else to ask. We are new faces, new
minds to him. We amuse him more than the hackneyed comrades he has worn
out. Besides, he plays--and you, too. Fie on you!"

"Liancourt, I had two objects in knowing that man, and I pay to the toll
for the bridge. When I cease to want the passage, I shall cease to pay
the toll."

"But the bridge may be a draw-bridge, and the moat is devilish deep
below. Without metaphor, that man may ruin you before you know where you
are."

"Bah! I have my eyes open. I know how much to spend on the rogue whose
service I hire as a lackey's; and I know also where to stop. Liancourt,"
he added, after a short pause, and in a tone deep with suppressed
passion, "when I first saw that man, I thought of appealing to his heart
for one who has a claim on it. That was a vain hope. And then there came
upon me a sterner and deadlier thought--the scheme of the Avenger! This
Lilburne--this rogue whom the world sets up to worship--ruined, body and
soul ruined--one whose name the world gibbets with scorn! Well, I thought
to avenge that man. In his own house--amidst you all--I thought to detect
the sharper, and brand the cheat!"

"You startle me!--It has been whispered, indeed, that Lord Lilburne is
dangerous,--but skill is dangerous. To cheat!--an Englishman!--a
nobleman!--impossible!"

"Whether he do or not," returned Vaudemont, in a calmer tone, "I have
foregone the vengeance, because he is--"

"Is what?"

"No matter," said Vaudemont aloud, but he added to himself,--"Because he
is the grandfather of Fanny!"

"You are very enigmatical to-day."

"Patience, Liancourt; I may solve all the riddles that make up my life,
yet. Bear with me a little longer. And now can you help me to a
lawyer?--a man experienced, indeed, and of repute, but young, active, not
overladen with business;--I want his zeal and his time, for a hazard that
your monopolists of clients may not deem worth their devotion."

"I can recommend you, then, the very man you require. I had a suit some
years ago at Paris, for which English witnesses were necessary. My avocat
employed a solicitor here whose activity in collecting my evidence gained
my cause. I will answer for his diligence and his honesty."

"His address?"

"Mr. Barlow--somewhere by the Strand--let me see--Essex-yes, Essex
Street."

"Then good-bye to you for the present.--You dine at Lord Lilburne's too?"

"Yes. Adieu till then."

Vaudemont was not long before he arrived at Mr. Barlow's; a brass-plate
announced to him the house. He was shown at once into a parlour, where he
saw a man whom lawyers would call young, and spinsters middle-aged--viz.,
about two-and-forty; with a bold, resolute, intelligent countenance, and
that steady, calm, sagacious eye, which inspires at once confidence and
esteem.

Vaudemont scanned him with the look of one who has been accustomed to
judge mankind--as a scholar does books--with rapidity because with
practice. He had at first resolved to submit to him the heads of his case
without mentioning names, and, in fact, he so commenced his narrative;
but by degrees, as he perceived how much his own earnestness arrested and
engrossed the interest of his listener, he warmed into fuller confidence,
and ended by a full disclosure, and a caution as to the profoundest
secrecy in case, if there were no hope to recover his rightful name, he
might yet wish to retain, unannoyed by curiosity or suspicion, that by
which he was not discreditably known.

"Sir," said Mr. Barlow, after assuring him of the most scrupulous
discretion,--"sir, I have some recollection of the trial instituted by
your mother, Mrs. Beaufort"--and the slight emphasis he laid on that name
was the most grateful compliment he could have paid to the truth of
Philip's recital. "My impression is, that it was managed in a very
slovenly manner by her lawyer; and some of his oversights we may repair
in a suit instituted by yourself. But it would be absurd to conceal from
you the great difficulties that beset us--your mother's suit, designed to
establish her own rights, was far easier than that which you must
commence--viz., an action for ejectment against a man who has been some
years in undisturbed possession. Of course, until the missing witness is
found out, it would be madness to commence litigation. And the question,
then, will be, how far that witness will suffice? It is true, that one
witness of a marriage, if the others are dead, is held sufficient by law.
But I need not add, that that witness must be thoroughly credible. In
suits for real property, very little documentary or secondary evidence is
admitted. I doubt even whether the certificate of the marriage on
which--in the loss or destruction of the register--you lay so much
stress, would be available in itself. But if an examined copy, it becomes
of the last importance, for it will then inform us of the name of the
person who extracted and examined it. Heaven grant it may not have been
the clergyman himself who performed the ceremony, and who, you say, is
dead; if some one else, we should then have a second, no doubt credible
and most valuable witness. The document would thus become available as
proof, and, I think, that we should not fail to establish our case."

"But this certificate, how is it ever to be found? I told you we had
searched everywhere in vain."

"True; but you say that your mother always declared that the late Mr.
Beaufort had so solemnly assured her, even just prior to his decease,
that it was in existence, that I have no doubt as to the fact. It may be
possible, but it is a terrible insinuation to make, that if Mr. Robert
Beaufort, in examining the papers of the deceased, chanced upon a
document so important to him, he abstracted or destroyed it. If this
should not have been the case (and Mr. Robert Beaufort's moral character
is unspotted--and we have no right to suppose it), the probability is,
either that it was intrusted to some third person, or placed in some
hidden drawer or deposit, the secret of which your father never
disclosed. Who has purchased the house you lived in?"

"Fernside? Lord Lilburne. Mrs. Robert Beaufort's brother."

"Humph--probably, then, he took the furniture and all. Sir, this is a
matter that requires some time for close consideration. With your leave,
I will not only insert in the London papers an advertisement to the
effect that you suggested to Mr. Roger Morton (in case you should have
made a right conjecture as to the object of the man who applied to him),
but I will also advertise for the witness himself. William Smith, you
say, his name is. Did the lawyer employed by Mrs. Beaufort send to
inquire for him in the colony?"

"No; I fear there could not have been time for that. My mother was so
anxious and eager, and so convinced of the justice of her case--"

"That's a pity; her lawyer must have been a sad driveller."

"Besides, now I remember, inquiry was made of his relations in England.
His father, a farmer, was then alive; the answer was that he had
certainly left Australia. His last letter, written two years before that
date, containing a request for money, which the father, himself made a
bankrupt by reverses, could not give, had stated that he was about to
seek his fortune elsewhere--since then they had heard nothing of him."

"Ahem! Well, you will perhaps let me know where any relations of his are
yet to be found, and I will look up the former suit, and go into the
whole case without delay. In the meantime, you do right, sir--if you will
allow me to say it--not to disclose either your own identity or a hint of
your intentions. It is no use putting suspicion on its guard. And my
search for this certificate must be managed with the greatest address.
But, by the way--speaking of identity--there can be no difficulty, I
hope, in proving yours."

Philip was startled. "Why, I am greatly altered."

"But probably your beard and moustache may contribute to that change; and
doubtless, in the village where you lived, there would be many with whom
you were in sufficient intercourse, and on whose recollection, by
recalling little anecdotes and circumstances with which no one but
yourself could be acquainted, your features would force themselves along
with the moral conviction that the man who spoke to them could be no
other but Philip Morton--or rather Beaufort."

"You are right; there must be many such. There was not a cottage in the
place where I and my dogs were not familiar and half domesticated."

"All's right, so far, then. But I repeat, we must not be too sanguine.
Law is not justice--"

"But God is," said Philip; and he left the room.




CHAPTER V.

     "Volpone. A little in a mist, but not dejected;
     Never--but still myself."
               BEN JONSON: Volpone.

     "Peregrine. Am I enough disguised?
     Mer. Ay. I warrant you.
     Per. Save you, fair lady."--Ibid.

It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. The ill wind that had blown
gout to Lord Lilburne had blown Lord Lilburne away from the injury he had
meditated against what he called "the object of his attachment." How
completely and entirely, indeed, the state of Lord Lilburne's feelings
depended on the state of his health, may be seen in the answer he gave to
his valet, when, the morning after the first attack of the gout, that
worthy person, by way of cheering his master, proposed to ascertain
something as to the movements of one with whom Lord Lilburne professed to
be so violently in love,--"Confound you, Dykeman!" exclaimed the
invalid,--"why do you trouble me about women when I'm in this condition?
I don't care if they were all at the bottom of the sea! Reach me the
colchicum! I must keep my mind calm."

Whenever tolerably well, Lord Lilburne was careless of his health; the
moment he was ill, Lord Lilburne paid himself the greatest possible
attention. Though a man of firm nerves, in youth of remarkable daring,
and still, though no longer rash, of sufficient personal courage, he was
by no means fond of the thought of death--that is, of his own death. Not
that he was tormented by any religious apprehensions of the Dread
Unknown, but simply because the only life of which he had any experience
seemed to him a peculiarly pleasant thing. He had a sort of instinctive
persuasion that John Lord Lilburne would not be better off anywhere else.
Always disliking solitude, he disliked it more than ever when he was ill,
and he therefore welcomed the visit of his sister and the gentle hand of
his pretty niece. As for Beaufort, he bored the sufferer; and when that
gentleman, on his arrival, shutting out his wife and daughter, whispered
to Lilburne, "Any more news of that impostor?" Lilburne answered
peevishly, "I never talk about business when I have the gout! I have set
Sharp to keep a lookout for him, but he has learned nothing as yet. And
now go to your club. You are a worthy creature, but too solemn for my
spirits just at this moment. I have a few people coming to dine with me,
your wife will do the honors, and--you can come in the evening." Though
Mr. Robert Beaufort's sense of importance swelled and chafed at this very
unceremonious conge, he forced a smile, and said:--

"Well, it is no wonder you are a little fretful with the gout. I have
plenty to do in town, and Mrs. Beaufort and Camilla can come back without
waiting for me."

"Why, as your cook is ill, and they can't dine at a club, you may as well
leave them here till I am a little better; not that I care, for I can
hire a better nurse than either of them."

"My dear Lilburne, don't talk of hiring nurses; certainly, I am too happy
if they can be of comfort to you."

"No! on second thoughts, you may take back your wife, she's always
talking of her own complaints, and leave me Camilla: you can't want her
for a few days."

"Just as you like. And you really think I have managed as well as I could
about this young man,--eh?"

"Yes--yes! And so you go to Beaufort Court in a few days?"

"I propose doing so. I wish you were well enough to come."

"Um! Chambers says that it would be a very good air for me--better than
Fernside; and as to my castle in the north, I would as soon go to
Siberia. Well, if I get better, I will pay you a visit, only you always
have such a stupid set of respectable people about you. I shock them, and
they oppress me."

"Why, as I hope soon to see Arthur, I shall make it as agreeable to him
as I can, and I shall be very much obliged to you if you would invite a
few of your own friends."

"Well, you are a good fellow, Beaufort, and I will take you at your word;
and, since one good turn deserves another, I have now no scruples in
telling you that I feel quite sure that you will have no further
annoyance from this troublesome witness-monger."

"In that case," said Beaufort, "I may pick up a better match for Camilla!
Good-bye, my dear Lilburne."

"Form and Ceremony of the world!" snarled the peer, as the door closed on
his brother-in-law, "ye make little men very moral, and not a bit the
better for being so."

It so happened that Vaudemont arrived before any of the other guests that
day, and during the half hour which Dr. Chambers assigned to his
illustrious patient, so that, when he entered, there were only Mrs.
Beaufort and Camilla in the drawing-room.

Vaudemont drew back involuntarily as he recognized in the faded
countenance of the elder lady, features associated with one of the dark
passages in his earlier life; but Mrs. Beaufort's gracious smile, and
urbane, though languid welcome, sufficed to assure him that the
recognition was not mutual. He advanced, and again stopped short, as his
eye fell upon that fair and still childlike form, which had once knelt by
his side and pleaded, with the orphan, for his brother. While he spoke to
her, many recollections, some dark and stern--but those, at least,
connected with Camilla, soft and gentle-thrilled through his heart.
Occupied as her own thoughts and feelings necessarily were with Sidney,
there was something in Vaudemont's appearance--his manner, his
voice--which forced upon Camilla a strange and undefined interest; and
even Mrs. Beaufort was roused from her customary apathy, as she glanced
at that dark and commanding face with something between admiration and
fear. Vaudemont had scarcely, however, spoken ten words, when some other
guests were announced, and Lord Lilburne was wheeled in upon his sofa
shortly afterwards. Vaudemont continued, however, seated next to Camilla,
and the embarrassment he had at first felt disappeared. He possessed,
when he pleased, that kind of eloquence which belongs to men who have
seen much and felt deeply, and whose talk has not been frittered down to
the commonplace jargon of the world. His very phraseology was distinct
and peculiar, and he had that rarest of all charms in polished life,
originality both of thought and of manner. Camilla blushed, when she
found at dinner that he placed himself by her side. That evening De
Vaudemont excused himself from playing, but the table was easily made
without him, and still he continued to converse with the daughter of the
man whom he held as his worst foe. By degrees, he turned the conversation
into a channel that might lead him to the knowledge he sought.

"It was my fate," said he, "once to become acquainted with an intimate
friend of the late Mr. Beaufort. Will you pardon me if I venture to
fulfil a promise I made to him, and ask you to inform me what has become
of a--a--that is, of Sidney Morton?"

"Sidney Morton! I don't even remember the name. Oh, yes! I have heard
it," added Camilla, innocently, and with a candour that showed how little
she knew of the secrets of the family; "he was one of two poor boys in
whom my brother felt a deep interest--some relations to my uncle.
Yes--yes! I remember now. I never knew Sidney, but I once did see his
brother."

"Indeed! and you remember--"

"Yes! I was very young then. I scarcely recollect what passed, it was all
so confused and strange; but, I know that I made papa very angry, and I
was told never to mention the name of Morton again. I believe they
behaved very ill to papa."

"And you never learned--never!--the fate of either--of Sidney?"

"Never!"

"But your father must know?"

"I think not; but tell me,"--said Camilla, with girlish and unaffected
innocence, "I have always felt anxious to know,--what and who were those
poor boys?"

What and who were they? So deep, then, was the stain upon their name,
that the modest mother and the decorous father had never even said to
that young girl, "They are your cousins--the children of the man in whose
gold we revel!"

Philip bit his lip, and the spell of Camilla's presence seemed vanished.
He muttered some inaudible answer, turned away to the card-table, and
Liancourt took the chair he had left vacant.

"And how does Miss Beaufort like my friend Vaudemont? I assure you that I
have seldom seen him so alive to the fascination of female beauty!"

"Oh!" said Camilla, with her silver laugh, "your nation spoils us for our
own countrymen. You forget how little we are accustomed to flattery."

"Flattery! what truth could flatter on the lips of an exile? But you
don't answer my question--what think you of Vaudemont? Few are more
admired. He is handsome!"

"Is he?" said Camilla, and she glanced at Vaudemont, as he stood at a
little distance, thoughtful and abstracted. Every girl forms to herself
some untold dream of that which she considers fairest. And Vaudemont had
not the delicate and faultless beauty of Sidney. There was nothing that
corresponded to her ideal in his marked features and lordly shape! But
she owned, reluctantly to herself, that she had seldom seen, among the
trim gallants of everyday life, a form so striking and impressive. The
air, indeed, was professional--the most careless glance could detect the
soldier. But it seemed the soldier of an elder age or a wilder clime. He
recalled to her those heads which she had seen in the Beaufort Gallery
and other Collections yet more celebrated--portraits by Titian of those
warrior statesman who lived in the old Republics of Italy in a perpetual
struggle with their kind--images of dark, resolute, earnest men. Even
whatever was intellectual in his countenance spoke, as in those
portraits, of a mind sharpened rather in active than in studious
life;--intellectual, not from the pale hues, the worn exhaustion, and the
sunken cheek of the bookman and dreamer, but from its collected and stern
repose, the calm depth that lay beneath the fire of the eyes, and the
strong will that spoke in the close full lips, and the high but not
cloudless forehead.

And, as she gazed, Vaudemont turned round--her eyes fell beneath his, and
she felt angry with herself that she blushed. Vaudemont saw the downcast
eye, he saw the blush, and the attraction of Camilla's presence was
restored. He would have approached her, but at that moment Mr. Beaufort
himself entered, and his thoughts went again into a darker channel.

"Yes," said Liancourt, "you must allow Vaudemont looks what he is--a
noble fellow and a gallant soldier. Did you never hear of his battle with
the tigress? It made a noise in India. I must tell it you as I have heard
it."

And while Laincourt was narrating the adventure, whatever it was, to
which he referred, the card-table was broken up, and Lord Lilburne, still
reclining on his sofa, lazily introduced his brother-in-law to such of
the guests as were strangers to him--Vaudemont among the rest. Mr.
Beaufort had never seen Philip Morton more than three times; once at
Fernside, and the other times by an imperfect light, and when his
features were convulsed by passion, and his form disfigured by his dress.
Certainly, therefore, had Robert Beaufort even possessed that faculty of
memory which is supposed to belong peculiarly to kings and princes, and
which recalls every face once seen, it might have tasked the gift to the
utmost to have detected, in the bronzed and decorated foreigner to whom
he was now presented, the features of the wild and long-lost boy. But
still some dim and uneasy presentiment, or some struggling and painful
effort of recollection, was in his mind, as he spoke to Vaudemont, and
listened to the cold calm tone of his reply.

"Who do you say that Frenchman is?" he whispered to his brother-in-law,
as Vaudemont turned away.

"Oh! a cleverish sort of adventurer--a gentleman; he plays.--He has seen
a good deal of the world--he rather amuses me--different from other
people. I think of asking him to join our circle at Beaufort Court."

Mr. Beaufort coughed huskily, but not seeing any reasonable objection to
the proposal, and afraid of rousing the sleeping hyaena of Lord
Lilburne's sarcasm, he merely said:--

"Any one you like to invite:" and looking round for some one on whom to
vent his displeasure, perceived Camilla still listening to Liancourt. He
stalked up to her, and as Liancourt, seeing her rise, rose also and moved
away, he said peevishly, "You will never learn to conduct yourself
properly; you are to be left here to nurse and comfort your uncle, and
not to listen to the gibberish of every French adventurer. Well, Heaven
be praised, I have a son--girls are a great plague!"

"So they are, Mr. Beaufort," sighed his wife, who had just joined him,
and who was jealous of the preference Lilburne had given to her daughter.

"And so selfish," added Mrs. Beaufort; "they only care for their own
amusements, and never mind how uncomfortable their parents are for want
of them."

"Oh! dear mamma, don't say so--let me go home with you--I'll speak to my
uncle!"

"Nonsense, child! Come along, Mr. Beaufort;" and the affectionate parents
went out arm in arm. They did not perceive that Vaudemont had been
standing close behind them; but Camilla, now looking up with tears in her
eyes, again caught his gaze: he had heard all.

"And they ill-treat her," he muttered: "that divides her from them!--she
will be left here--I shall see her again." As he turned to depart,
Lilburne beckoned to him.

"You do not mean to desert our table?"

"No: but I am not very well to-night--to-morrow, if you will allow me."

"Ay, to-morrow; and if you can spare an hour in the morning it will be a
charity. You see," he added in a whisper, "I have a nurse, though I have
no children. D'ye think that's love? Bah! sir--a legacy! Good night."

"No--no--no!" said Vaudemont to himself, as he walked through the moonlit
streets. "No! though my heart burns,--poor murdered felon!--to avenge thy
wrongs and thy crimes, revenge cannot come from me--he is Fanny's
grandfather and--Camilla's uncle!"

And Camilla, when that uncle had dismissed her for the night, sat down
thoughtfully in her own room. The dark eyes of Vaudemont seemed still to
shine on her; his voice yet rung in her ear; the wild tales of daring and
danger with which Liancourt had associated his name yet haunted her
bewildered fancy--she started, frightened at her own thoughts. She took
from her bosom some lines that Sidney had addressed to her, and, as she
read and re-read, her spirit became calmed to its wonted and faithful
melancholy. Vaudemont was forgotten, and the name of Sidney yet murmured
on her lips, when sleep came to renew the image of the absent one, and
paint in dreams the fairy land of a happy Future!




CHAPTER VI

     "Ring on, ye bells--most pleasant is your chime!"
      WILSON. Isle of Palms.

     "O fairy child! What can I wish for thee?"--Ibid.

Vaudemont remained six days in London without going to H----, and on each
of those days he paid a visit to Lord Lilburne. On the seventh day, the
invalid being much better, though still unable to leave his room, Camilla
returned to Berkeley Square. On the same day, Vaudemont went once more to
see Simon and poor Fanny.

As he approached the door, he heard from the window, partially opened,
for the day was clear and fine, Fanny's sweet voice. She was chaunting
one of the simple songs she had promised to learn by heart; and
Vaudemont, though but a poor judge of the art, was struck and affected by
the music of the voice and the earnest depth of the feeling. He paused
opposite the window and called her by her name. Fanny looked forth
joyously, and ran, as usual, to open the door to him.

"Oh! you have been so long away; but I already know many of the songs:
they say so much that I always wanted to say!"

Vaudemont smiled, but languidly.

"How strange it is," said Fanny, musingly, "that there should be so much
in a piece of paper! for, after all," pointing to the open page of her
book, "this is but a piece of paper--only there is life in it!"

"Ay," said Vaudemont, gloomily, and far from seizing the subtle delicacy
of Fanny's thought--her mind dwelling upon Poetry, and his upon
Law,--"ay, and do you know that upon a mere scrap of paper, if I could
but find it, may depend my whole fortune, my whole happiness, all that I
care for in life?"

"Upon a scrap of paper? Oh! how I wish I could find it! Ah! you look as
if you thought I should never be wise enough for that!"

Vaudemont, not listening to her, uttered a deep sigh. Fanny approached
him timidly.

"Do not sigh, brother,--I can't bear to hear you sigh. You are changed.
Have you, too, not been happy?"

"Happy, Fanny! yes, lately very happy--too happy!"

"Happy, have you? and I--" the girl stopped short--her tone had been that
of sadness and reproach, and she stopped--why, she knew not, but she felt
her heart sink within her. Fanny suffered him to pass her, and he went
straight to his room. Her eyes followed him wistfully: it was not his
habit to leave her thus abruptly. The family meal of the day was over;
and it was an hour before Vaudemont descended to the parlour. Fanny had
put aside the songs; she had no heart to recommence those gentle studies
that had been so sweet,--they had drawn no pleasure, no praise from him.
She was seated idly and listlessly beside the silent old man, who every
day grew more and more silent still. She turned her head as Vaudemont
entered, and her pretty lip pouted as that of a neglected child. But he
did not heed it, and the pout vanished, and tears rushed to her eyes.

Vaudemont was changed. His countenance was thoughtful and overcast. His
manner abstracted. He addressed a few words to Simon, and then, seating
himself by the window, leant his cheek on his hand, and was soon lost in
reverie. Fanny, finding that he did not speak, and after stealing many a
long and earnest glance at his motionless attitude and gloomy brow, rose
gently, and gliding to him with her light step, said, in a trembling
voice,--

"Are you in pain, brother?"

"No, pretty one!"

"Then why won't you speak to Fanny? Will you not walk with her? Perhaps
my grandfather will come too."

"Not this evening. I shall go out; but it will be alone."

"Where? Has not Fanny been good? I have not been out since you left us.
And the grave--brother!--I sent Sarah with the flowers--but--"

Vaudemont rose abruptly. The mention of the grave brought back his
thoughts from the dreaming channel into which they had flowed. Fanny,
whose very childishness had once so soothed him, now disturbed; he felt
the want of that complete solitude which makes the atmosphere of growing
passion: he muttered some scarcely audible excuse, and quitted the house.
Fanny saw him no more that evening. He did not return till midnight. But
Fanny did not sleep till she heard his step on the stairs, and his
chamber door close: and when she did sleep, her dreams were disturbed and
painful. The next morning, when they met at breakfast (for Vaudemont did
not return to London), her eyes were red and heavy, and her cheek pale.
And, still buried in meditation, Vaudemont's eye, usually so kind and
watchful, did not detect those signs of a grief that Fanny could not have
explained. After breakfast, however, he asked her to walk out; and her
face brightened as she hastened to put on her bonnet, and take her little
basket full of fresh flowers which she had already sent Sarah forth to
purchase.

"Fanny," said Vaudemont, as leaving the house, he saw the basket on her
arm, "to-day you may place some of those flowers on another
tombstone!--Poor child, what natural goodness there is in that
heart!--what pity that--"

He paused. Fanny looked delightedly in his face. "You were praising
me--you! And what is a pity, brother?"

While she spoke, the sound of the joy-bells was heard near at hand.

"Hark!" said Vaudemont, forgetting her question--and almost
gaily--"Hark!--I accept the omen. It is a marriage peal!"

He quickened his steps, and they reached the churchyard.

There was a crowd already assembled, and Vaudemont and Fanny paused; and,
leaning over the little gate, looked on.

"Why are these people here, and why does the bell ring so merrily?"

"There is to be a wedding, Fanny."

"I have heard of a wedding very often," said Fanny, with a pretty look of
puzzlement and doubt, "but I don't know exactly what it means. Will you
tell me?--and the bells, too!"

"Yes, Fanny, those bells toll but three times for man! The first time,
when he comes into the world; the last time, when he leaves it; the time
between when he takes to his side a partner in all the sorrows--in all
the joys that yet remain to him; and who, even when the last bell
announces his death to this earth, may yet, for ever and ever, be his
partner in that world to come--that heaven, where they who are as
innocent as you, Fanny, may hope to live and to love each other in a land
in which there are no graves!"

"And this bell?"

"Tolls for that partnership--for the wedding!"

"I think I understand you;--and they who are to be wed are happy?"

"Happy, Fanny, if they love, and their love continue. Oh! conceive the
happiness to know some one person dearer to you than your own self--some
one breast into which you can pour every thought, every grief, every joy!
One person, who, if all the rest of the world were to calumniate or
forsake you, would never wrong you by a harsh thought or an unjust
word,--who would cling to you the closer in sickness, in poverty, in
care,--who would sacrifice all things to you, and for whom you would
sacrifice all--from whom, except by death, night or day, you must be
never divided--whose smile is ever at your hearth--who has no tears while
you are well and happy, and your love the same. Fanny, such is marriage,
if they who marry have hearts and souls to feel that there is no bond on
earth so tender and so sublime. There is an opposite picture;--I will not
draw that! And as it is, Fanny, you cannot understand me!"

He turned away:--and Fanny's tears were falling like rain upon the grass
below;--he did not see them! He entered the churchyard; for the bell now
ceased. The ceremony was to begin. He followed the bridal party into the
church, and Fanny, lowering her veil, crept after him, awed and
trembling.

They stood, unobserved, at a little distance, and heard the service.

The betrothed were of the middle class of life, young, both comely; and
their behaviour was such as suited the reverence and sanctity of the
rite. Vaudemont stood looking on intently, with his arms folded on his
breast. Fanny leant behind him, and apart from all, against one of the
pews. And still in her hand, while the priest was solemnising Marriage,
she held the flowers intended for the Grave. Even to that
MORNING--hushed, calm, earliest, with her mysterious and unconjectured
heart--her shape brought a thought of NIGHT!

When the ceremony was over--when the bride fell on her mother's breast
and wept; and then, when turning thence, her eyes met the bridegroom's,
and the tears were all smiled away--when, in that one rapid interchange
of looks, spoke all that holy love can speak to love, and with timid
frankness she placed her hand in his to whom she had just vowed her
life,--a thrill went through the hearts of those present. Vaudemont
sighed heavily. He heard his sigh echoed; but by one that had in its
sound no breath of pain; he turned; Fanny had raised her veil; her eyes
met his, moistened, but bright, soft, and her cheeks were rosy-red.
Vaudemont recoiled before that gaze, and turned from the church. The
persons interested retired to the vestry to sign their names in the
registry; the crowd dispersed, and Vaudemont and Fanny stood alone in the
burial-ground.

"Look, Fanny," said the former, pointing to a tomb that stood far from
his mother's (for those ashes were too hallowed for such a
neighbourhood). "Look yonder; it is a new tomb. Fanny, let us approach
it. Can you read what is there inscribed?"

The inscription was simply this:

                TO W-- G--              MAN SEES THE DEED
            GOD THE CIRCUMSTANCE.
               JUDGE NOT,
             THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED.

"Fanny, this tomb fulfils your pious wish: it is to the memory of him
whom you called your father. Whatever was his life here--whatever
sentence it hath received, Heaven, at least, will not condemn your piety,
if you honour one who was good to you, and place flowers, however idle,
even over that grave."

"It is his--my father's--and you have thought of this for me!" said
Fanny, taking his hand, and sobbing. "And I have been thinking that you
were not so kind to me as you were!"

"Have I not been so kind to you? Nay, forgive me, I am not happy."

"Not?--you said yesterday you had been too happy."

"To remember happiness is not to be happy, Fanny."

"That's true--and--"

Fanny stopped; and, as she bent over the tomb, musing, Vaudemont, willing
to leave her undisturbed, and feeling bitterly how little his conscience
could vindicate, though it might find palliation for, the dark man who
slept not there--retired a few paces.

At this time the new-married pair, with their witnesses, the clergyman,
&c., came from the vestry, and crossed the path. Fanny, as she turned
from the tomb, saw them, and stood still, looking earnestly at the bride.

"What a lovely face!" said the mother. "Is it--yes it is--the poor idiot
girl."

"Ah!" said the bridegroom, tenderly, "and she, Mary, beautiful as she is,
she can never make another as happy as you have made me."

Vaudemont heard, and his heart felt sad. "Poor Fanny!--And yet, but for
that affliction--I might have loved her, ere I met the fatal face of the
daughter of my foe!" And with a deep compassion, an inexpressible and
holy fondness, he moved to Fanny.

"Come, my child; now let us go home."

"Stay," said Fanny--"you forget." And she went to strew the flowers still
left over Catherine's grave.

"Will my mother," thought Vaudemont, "forgive me, if I have other
thoughts than hate and vengeance for that house which builds its
greatness over her slandered name?" He groaned:--and that grave had lost
its melancholy charm.




CHAPTER VII.

        "Of all men, I say,
        That dare, for 'tis a desperate adventure,
        Wear on their free necks the yoke of women,
        Give me a soldier."--Knight of Malta.

        "So lightly doth this little boat
        Upon the scarce-touch'd billows float;
        So careless doth she seem to be,
        Thus left by herself on the homeless sea,
        To lie there with her cheerful sail,
        Till Heaven shall send some gracious gale."
        WILSON: Isle of Palms.

Vaudemont returned that evening to London, and found at his lodgings a
note from Lord Lilburne, stating that as his gout was now somewhat
mitigated, his physician had recommended him to try change of air--that
Beaufort Court was in one of the western counties, in a genial
climate--that he was therefore going thither the next day for a short
time--that he had asked some of Monsieur de Vaudemont's countrymen, and a
few other friends, to enliven the circle of a dull country-house--that
Mr. and Mrs. Beaufort would be delighted to see Monsieur de Vaudemont
also--and that his compliance with their invitation would be a charity to
Monsieur de Vaudemont's faithful and obliged, LILBURNE.

The first sensation of Vaudemont on reading this effusion was delight. "I
shall see her," he cried; "I shall be under the same roof!" But the glow
faded at once from his cheek;--the roof!--what roof? Be the guest where
he held himself the lord!--be the guest of Robert Beaufort!--Was that
all? Did he not meditate the deadliest war which civilised life admits
of--the War of Law--war for name, property, that very hearth, with all
its household gods, against this man--could he receive his hospitality?
"And what then!" he exclaimed, as he paced to and fro the room,--"because
her father wronged me, and because I would claim mine own--must I
therefore exclude from my thoughts, from my sight, an image so fair and
gentle;--the one who knelt by my side, an infant, to that hard man?--Is
hate so noble a passion that it is not to admit one glimpse of
Love?--Love! what word is that? Let me beware in time!" He paused in
fierce self-contest, and, throwing open the window, gasped for air. The
street in which he lodged was situated in the neighbourhood of St.
James's; and, at that very moment, as if to defeat all opposition, and to
close the struggle, Mrs. Beaufort's barouche drove by, Camilla at her
side. Mrs. Beaufort, glancing up; languidly bowed; and Camilla herself
perceived him, and he saw her change colour as she inclined her head. He
gazed after them almost breathless, till the carriage disappeared; and
then reclosing the window, he sat down to collect his thoughts, and again
to reason with himself. But still, as he reasoned, he saw ever before him
that blush and that smile. At last he sprang up, and a noble and bright
expression elevated the character of his face,--"Yes, if I enter that
house, if I eat that man's bread, and drink of his cup, I must forego,
not justice--not what is due to my mother's name--but whatever belongs to
hate and vengeance. If I enter that house--and if Providence permit me
the means whereby to regain my rights, why she--the innocent one--she may
be the means of saving her father from ruin, and stand like an angel by
that boundary where justice runs into revenge!--Besides, is it not my
duty to discover Sidney? Here is the only clue I shall obtain." With
these thoughts he hesitated no more--he decided he would not reject this
hospitality, since it might be in his power to pay it back ten
thousandfold. "And who knows," he murmured again, "if Heaven, in throwing
this sweet being in my way, might not have designed to subdue and chasten
in me the angry passions I have so long fed on? I have seen her,--can I
now hate her father?"

He sent off his note accepting the invitation. When he had done so, was
he satisfied? He had taken as noble and as large a view of the duties
thereby imposed on him as he well could take: but something whispered at
his heart, "There is weakness in thy generosity--Darest thou love the
daughter of Robert Beaufort?" And his heart had no answer to this voice.

The rapidity with which love is ripened depends less upon the actual
number of years that have passed over the soil in which the seed is cast,
than upon the freshness of the soil itself. A young man who lives the
ordinary life of the world, and who fritters away, rather than exhausts,
his feelings upon a variety of quick succeeding subjects--the Cynthias of
the minute--is not apt to form a real passion at the first sight. Youth
is inflammable only when the heart is young!

There are certain times of life when, in either sex, the affections are
prepared, as it were, to be impressed with the first fair face that
attracts the fancy and delights the eye. Such times are when the heart
has been long solitary, and when some interval of idleness and rest
succeeds to periods of harsher and more turbulent excitement. It was
precisely such a period in the life of Vaudemont. Although his ambition
had been for many years his dream, and his sword his mistress, yet
naturally affectionate, and susceptible of strong emotion, he had often
repined at his lonely lot. By degrees the boy's fantasy and reverence
which had wound themselves round the image of Eugenie subsided into that
gentle and tender melancholy which, perhaps by weakening the strength of
the sterner thoughts, leaves us inclined rather to receive, than to
resist, a new attachment;--and on the verge of the sweet Memory trembles
the sweet Hope. The suspension of his profession, his schemes, his
struggles, his career, left his passions unemployed. Vaudemont was thus
unconsciously prepared to love. As we have seen, his first and earliest
feelings directed themselves to Fanny. But he had so immediately detected
the clanger, and so immediately recoiled from nursing those thoughts and
fancies, without which love dies for want of food, for a person to whom
he ascribed the affliction of an imbecility which would give to such a
sentiment all the attributes either of the weakest rashness or of
dishonour approaching to sacrilege--that the wings of the deity were
scared away the instant their very shadow fell upon his mind. And thus,
when Camilla rose upon him his heart was free to receive her image. Her
graces, her accomplishments, a certain nameless charm that invested her,
pleased him even more than her beauty; the recollections connected with
that first time in which he had ever beheld her, were also grateful and
endearing; the harshness with which her parents spoke to her moved his
compassion, and addressed itself to a temper peculiarly alive to the
generosity that leans towards the weak and the wronged; the engaging
mixture of mildness and gaiety with which she tended her peevish and
sneering uncle, convinced him of her better and more enduring qualities
of disposition and womanly heart. And even--so strange and contradictory
are our feelings--the very remembrance that she was connected with a
family so hateful to him made her own image the more bright from the
darkness that surrounded it. For was it not with the daughter of his foe
that the lover of Verona fell in love at first sight? And is not that a
common type of us all--as if Passion delighted in contradictions? As the
Diver, in Schiller's exquisite ballad, fastened upon the rock of coral in
the midst of the gloomy sea, so we cling the more gratefully to whatever
of fair thought and gentle shelter smiles out to us in the depths of Hate
and Strife.

But, perhaps, Vaudemont would not so suddenly and so utterly have
rendered himself to a passion that began, already, completely to master
his strong spirit, if he had not, from Camilla's embarrassment, her
timidity, her blushes, intoxicated himself with the belief that his
feelings were not unshared. And who knows not that such a belief, once
cherished, ripens our own love to a development in which hours are as
years?

It was, then, with such emotions as made him almost insensible to every
thought but the luxury of breathing the same air as his cousin, which
swept from his mind the Past, the Future--leaving nothing but a joyous, a
breathless PRESENT on the Face of Time, that he repaired to Beaufort
Court. He did not return to H---- before he went, but he wrote to Fanny a
short and hurried line to explain that he might be absent for some days
at least, and promised to write again, if he should be detained longer
than he anticipated.

In the meanwhile, one of those successive revolutions which had marked
the eras in Fanny's moral existence took its date from that last time
they had walked and conversed together.

The very evening of that day, some hours after Philip was gone, and after
Simon had retired to rest, Fanny was sitting before the dying fire in the
little parlour in an attitude of deep and pensive reverie. The old
woman-servant, Sarah, who, very different from Mrs. Boxer, loved Fanny
with her whole heart, came into the room as was her wont before going to
bed, to see that the fire was duly out, and all safe: and as she
approached the hearth, she started to see Fanny still up.

"Dear heart alive!" she said; "why, Miss Fanny, you will catch your death
of cold,-what are you thinking about?"

"Sit down, Sarah; I want to speak to you." Now, though Fanny was
exceedingly kind, and attached to Sarah, she was seldom communicative to
her, or indeed to any one. It was usually in its own silence and darkness
that that lovely mind worked out its own doubts.

"Do you, my sweet young lady? I'm sure anything I can do--" and Sarah
seated herself in her master's great chair, and drew it close to Fanny.
There was no light in the room but the expiring fire, and it threw upward
a pale glimmer on the two faces bending over it,--the one so strangely
beautiful, so smooth, so blooming, so exquisite in its youth and
innocence,--the other withered, wrinkled, meagre, and astute. It was like
the Fairy and the Witch together.

"Well, miss," said the crone, observing that, after a considerable pause,
Fanny was still silent,--"Well--"

"Sarah, I have seen a wedding!"

"Have you?" and the old woman laughed. "Oh! I heard it was to be
to-day!--young Waldron's wedding! Yes, they have been long sweethearts."

"Were you ever married, Sarah?"

"Lord bless you,--yes! and a very good husband I had, poor man! But he's
dead these many years; and if you had not taken me, I must have gone to
the workhus."

"He is dead! Wasn't it very hard to live after that, Sarah?"

"The Lord strengthens the hearts of widders!" observed Sarah,
sanctimoniously.

"Did you marry your brother, Sarah?" said Fanny, playing with the corner
of her apron.

"My brother!" exclaimed the old woman, aghast. "La! miss, you must not
talk in that way,--it's quite wicked and heathenish! One must not marry
one's brother!"

"No!" said Fanny, tremblingly, and turning very pale, even by that light.
"No!--are you sure of that?"

"It is the wickedest thing even to talk about, my dear young
mistress;--but you're like a babby unborn!"

Fanny was silent for some moments. At length she said, unconscious that
she was speaking aloud, "But he is not my brother, after all!"

"Oh, miss, fie! Are you letting your pretty head run on the handsome
gentleman. You, too,--dear, dear! I see we're all alike, we poor femel
creturs! You! who'd have thought it? Oh, Miss Fanny!--you'll break your
heart if you goes for to fancy any such thing."

"Any what thing?"

"Why, that that gentleman will marry you!--I'm sure, tho' he's so simple
like, he's some great gentleman! They say his hoss is worth a hundred
pounds! Dear, dear! why didn't I ever think of this before? He must be a
very wicked man. I see, now, why he comes here. I'll speak to him, that,
I will!--a very wicked man!"

Sarah was startled from her indignation by Fanny's rising suddenly, and
standing before her in the flickering twilight, almost like a shape
transformed,--so tall did she seem, so stately, so dignified.

"Is it of him that you are speaking?" said she, in a voice of calm but
deep resentment--"of him! If so, Sarah, we two can live no more in the
same house."

And these words were said with a propriety and collectedness that even,
through all her terrors, showed at once to Sarah how much they now
wronged Fanny who had suffered their lips to repeat the parrot-cry of the
"idiot girl!"

"O! gracious me!--miss--ma'am--I am so sorry--I'd rather bite out my
tongue than say a word to offend you; it was only my love for you, dear
innocent creature that you are!" and the honest woman sobbed with real
passion as she clasped Fanny's hand. "There have been so many young
persons, good and harmless, yes, even as you are, ruined. But you don't
understand me. Miss Fanny! hear me; I must try and say what I would say.
That man, that gentleman--so proud, so well-dressed, so grand-like, will
never marry you, never--never. And if ever he says he does love you, and
you say you love him, and you two don't marry, you will be ruined and
wicked, and die--die of a broken heart!"

The earnestness of Sarah's manner subdued and almost awed Fanny. She sank
down again in her chair, and suffered the old woman to caress and weep
over her hand for some moments in a silence that concealed the darkest
and most agitated feelings Fanny's life had hitherto known. At length she
said:--

"Why may he not marry me if he loves me?--he is not my brother,--indeed
he is not! I'll never call him so again."

"He cannot marry you," said Sarah, resolved, with a sort of rude
nobleness, to persevere in what she felt to be a duty; "I don't say
anything about money, because that does not always signify. But he cannot
marry you, because--because people who are hedicated one way never marry
those who are hedicated and brought up in another. A gentleman of that
kind requires a wife to know--oh--to know ever so much; and you--"

"Sarah," interrupted Fanny, rising again, but this time with a smile on
her face, "don't say anything more about it; I forgive you, if you
promise never to speak unkindly of him again--never--never--never,
Sarah!"

"But may I just tell him that--that--"

"That what?"

"That you are so young and innocent, and has no pertector like; and that
if you were to love him it would be a shame in him--that it would!"

And then (oh, no, Fanny, there was nothing clouded now in your
reason!)--and then the woman's alarm, the modesty, the instinct, the
terror came upon her:--

"Never! never! I will not love him, I do not love him, indeed, Sarah. If
you speak to him, I will never look you in the face again. It is all
past--all, dear Sarah!"

She kissed the old woman; and Sarah, fancying that her sagacity and
counsel had prevailed, promised all she was asked; so they went up-stairs
together--friends.




CHAPTER VIII.

        "As the wind
        Sobs, an uncertain sweetness comes from out
        The orange-trees.

        Rise up, Olympia.--She sleeps soundly. Ho!
        Stirring at last." BARRY CORNWALL.

The next day, Fanny was seen by Sarah counting the little hoard that she
had so long and so painfully saved for her benefactor's tomb. The money
was no longer wanted for that object. Fanny had found another; she said
nothing to Sarah or to Simon. But there was a strange complacent smile
upon her lip as she busied herself in her work, that puzzled the old
woman. Late at noon came the postman's unwonted knock at the door. A
letter!--a letter for Miss Fanny. A letter!--the first she had ever
received in her life! And it was from him!--and it began with "Dear
Fanny." Vaudemont had called her "dear Fanny" a hundred times, and the
expression had become a matter of course. But "Dear Fanny" seemed so very
different when it was written. The letter could not well be shorter, nor,
all things considered, colder. But the girl found no fault with it. It
began with "Dear Fanny," and it ended with "yours truly." "--Yours
truly--mine truly--and how kind to write at all!" Now it so happened that
Vaudemont, having never merged the art of the penman into that rapid
scrawl into which people, who are compelled to write hurriedly and
constantly, degenerate, wrote a remarkably good hand,--bold, clear,
symmetrical--almost too good a hand for one who was not to make money by
caligraphy. And after Fanny had got the words by heart, she stole gently
to a cupboard and took forth some specimens of her own hand, in the shape
of house and work memoranda, and extracts which, the better to help her
memory, she had made from the poem-book Vaudemont had given her. She
gravely laid his letter by the side of these specimens, and blushed at
the contrast; yet, after all, her own writing, though trembling and
irresolute, was far from a bad or vulgar hand. But emulation was now
fairly roused within her. Vaudemont, pre-occupied by more engrossing
thoughts, and indeed, forgetting a danger which had seemed so thoroughly
to have passed away, did not in his letter caution Fanny against going
out alone. She remarked this; and having completely recovered her own
alarm at the attempt that had been made on her liberty, she thought she
was now released from her promise to guard against a past and imaginary
peril. So after dinner she slipped out alone, and went to the mistress of
the school where she had received her elementary education. She had ever
since continued her acquaintance with that lady, who, kindhearted, and
touched by her situation, often employed her industry, and was far from
blind to the improvement that had for some time been silently working in
the mind of her old pupil.

Fanny had a long conversation with this lady, and she brought back a
bundle of books. The light might have been seen that night, and many
nights after, burning long and late from her little window. And having
recovered her old freedom of habits, which Simon, poor man, did not
notice, and which Sarah, thinking that anything was better than moping at
home, did not remonstrate against, Fanny went out regularly for two
hours, or sometimes for even a longer period, every evening after old
Simon had composed himself to the nap that filled up the interval between
dinner and tea.

In a very short time--a time that with ordinary stimulants would have
seemed marvellously short--Fanny's handwriting was not the same thing;
her manner of talking became different; she no longer called herself
"Fanny" when she spoke; the music of her voice was more quiet and
settled; her sweet expression of face was more thoughtful; the eyes
seemed to have deepened in their very colour; she was no longer heard
chaunting to herself as she tripped along. The books that she nightly fed
on had passed into her mind; the poetry that had ever unconsciously
sported round her young years began now to create poetry in herself. Nay,
it might almost have seemed as if that restless disorder of the
intellect, which the dullards had called Idiotcy, had been the wild
efforts, not of Folly, but of GENIUS seeking to find its path and outlet
from the cold and dreary solitude to which the circumstances of her early
life had compelled it.

Days, even weeks, passed--she never spoke of Vaudemont. And once, when
Sarah, astonished and bewildered by the change in her young mistress,
asked:

"When does the gentleman come back?"

Fanny answered, with a mysterious smile, "Not yet, I hope,--not quite
yet!"




CHAPTER IX.

        "Thierry. I do begin
        To feel an alteration in my nature,
        And in his full-sailed confidence a shower
        Of gentle rain, that falling on the fire
        Hath quenched it.

        How is my heart divided
        Between the duty of a son and love!"
          BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER: Thierry and Theodorat.

Vaudemont had now been a month at Beaufort Court. The scene of a
country-house, with the sports that enliven it, and the accomplishments
it calls forth, was one in which he was well fitted to shine. He had been
an excellent shot as a boy; and though long unused to the fowling-piece,
had, in India, acquired a deadly precision with the rifle; so that a very
few days of practice in the stubbles and covers of Beaufort Court made
his skill the theme of the guests and the admiration of the keepers.
Hunting began, and--this pursuit, always so strong a passion in the
active man, and which, to the turbulence and agitation of his half-tamed
breast, now excited by a kind of frenzy of hope and fear, gave a vent and
release--was a sport in which he was yet more fitted to excel. His
horsemanship, his daring, the stone walls he leaped and the floods
through which he dashed, furnished his companions with wondering tale and
comment on their return home. Mr. Marsden, who, with some other of
Arthur's early friends, had been invited to Beaufort Court, in order to
welcome its expected heir, and who retained all the prudence which had
distinguished him of yore, when having ridden over old Simon he
dismounted to examine the knees of his horse;--Mr. Marsden, a skilful
huntsman, who rode the most experienced horses in the world, and who
generally contrived to be in at the death without having leaped over
anything higher than a hurdle, suffering the bolder quadruped (in case
what is called the "knowledge of the country"--that is, the knowledge of
gaps and gates--failed him) to perform the more dangerous feats alone, as
he quietly scrambled over or scrambled through upon foot, and remounted
the well-taught animal when it halted after the exploit, safe and
sound;--Mr. Marsden declared that he never saw a rider with so little
judgment as Monsieur de Vaudemont, and that the devil was certainly in
him.

This sort of reputation, commonplace and merely physical as it was in
itself, had a certain effect upon Camilla; it might be an effect of fear.
I do not say, for I do not know, what her feelings towards Vaudemont
exactly were. As the calmest natures are often those the most hurried
away by their contraries, so, perhaps, he awed and dazzled rather than
pleased her;--at least, he certainly forced himself on her interest.
Still she would have started in terror if any one had said to her, "Do
you love your betrothed less than when you met by that happy lake?"--and
her heart would have indignantly rebuked the questioner. The letters of
her lover were still long and frequent; hers were briefer and more
subdued. But then there was constraint in the correspondence--it was
submitted to her mother. Whatever might be Vaudemont's manner to Camilla
whenever occasion threw them alone together, he certainly did not make
his attentions glaring enough to be remarked. His eye watched her rather
than his lip addressed; he kept as much aloof as possible from the rest
of her family, and his customary bearing was silent even to gloom. But
there were moments when he indulged in a fitful exuberance of spirits,
which had something strained and unnatural. He had outlived Lord
Lilburne's short liking; for since he had resolved no longer to keep
watch on that noble gamester's method of play, he played but little
himself; and Lord Lilburne saw that he had no chance of ruining
him--there was, therefore, no longer any reason to like him. But this was
not all; when Vaudemont had been at the house somewhat more than two
weeks, Lilburne, petulant and impatient, whether at his refusals to join
the card-table, or at the moderation with which, when he did, he confined
his ill-luck to petty losses, one day limped up to him, as he stood at
the embrasure of the window, gazing on the wide lands beyond, and said:--

"Vaudemont, you are bolder in hunting, they tell me, than you are at
whist."

"Honours don't tell against one--over a hedge!"

"What do you mean?" said Lilburne, rather haughtily.

Vaudemont was, at that moment, in one of those bitter moods when the
sense of his situation, the sight of the usurper in his home, often swept
away the gentler thoughts inspired by his fatal passion. And the tone of
Lord Lilburne, and his loathing to the man, were too much for his temper.

"Lord Lilburne," he said, and his lip curled, "if you had been born poor,
you would have made a great fortune--you play luckily."

"How am I to take this, sir?"

"As you please," answered Vaudemont, calmly, but with an eye of fire. And
he turned away.

Lilburne remained on the spot very thoughtful: "Hum! he suspects me. I
cannot quarrel on such ground--the suspicion itself dishonours me--I must
seek another."

The next day, Lilburne, who was familiar with Mr. Harsden (though the
latter gentleman never played at the same table), asked that prudent
person after breakfast if he happened to have his pistols with him.

"Yes; I always take them into the country--one may as well practise when
one has the opportunity. Besides, sportsmen are often quarrelsome; and if
it is known that one shoots well,--it keeps one out of quarrels!"

"Very true," said Lilburne, rather admiringly. "I have made the same
remark myself when I was younger. I have not shot with a pistol for since
years. I am well enough now to walk out with the help of a stick. Suppose
we practise for half-an-hour or so."

"With all my heart," said Mr. Marsden.

The pistols were brought, and they strolled forth;--Lord Lilburne found
his hand out.

"As I never hunt now," said the peer, and he gnashed his teeth, and
glanced at his maimed limb; "for though lameness would not prevent my
keeping my seat, violent exercise hurts my leg; and Brodie says any fresh
accident might bring on tic douloureux;--and as my gout does not permit
me to join the shooting parties at present, it would be a kindness in you
to lend me your pistols--it would while away an hour or so; though, thank
Heaven, my duelling days are over!"

"Certainly," said Mr. Marsden; and the pistols were consigned to Lord
Lilburne.

Four days from the date, as Mr. Marsden, Vaudemont, and some other
gentlemen were making for the covers, they came upon Lord Lilburne, who,
in a part of the park not within sight or sound of the house, was amusing
himself with Mr. Marsden's pistols, which Dykeman was at hand to load for
him.

He turned round, not at all disconcerted by the interruption.

"You have no idea how I've improved, Marsden:--just see!" and he pointed
to a glove nailed to a tree. "I've hit that mark twice in five times; and
every time I have gone straight enough along the line to have killed my
man."

"Ay, the mark itself does not so much signify," said Mr. Marsden, "at
least, not in actual duelling--the great thing is to be in the line."

While he spoke, Lord Lilburne's ball went a third time through the glove.
His cold bright eye turned on Vaudemont, as he said, with a smile,--

"They tell me you shoot well with a fowling-piece, my dear Vaudemont--are
you equally adroit with a pistol?"

"You may see, if you like; but you take aim, Lord Lilburne; that would be
of no use in English duelling. Permit me."

He walked to the glove, and tore from it one of the fingers, which he
fastened separately to the tree, took the pistol from Dykeman as he
walked past him, gained the spot whence to fire, turned at once round,
without apparent aim, and the finger fell to the ground.

Lilburne stood aghast.

"That's wonderful!" said Marsden; "quite wonderful. Where the devil did
you get such a knack?--for it is only knack after all!"

"I lived for many years in a country where the practice was constant,
where all that belongs to rifle-shooting was a necessary
accomplishment--a country in which man had often to contend against the
wild beast. In civilised states, man himself supplies the place of the
wild beast--but we don't hunt him!--Lord Lilburne" (and this was added
with a smiling and disdainful whisper), "you must practise a little
more."

But, disregardful of the advice, from that day Lord Lilburne's morning
occupation was gone. He thought no longer of a duel with Vaudemont. As
soon as the sportsman had left him, he bade Dykeman take up the pistols,
and walked straight home into the library, where Robert Beaufort, who was
no sportsman, generally spent his mornings.

He flung himself into an arm-chair, and said, as he stirred the fire with
unusual vehemence,--

"Beaufort, I'm very sorry I asked you to invite Vaudemont. He's a very
ill-bred, disagreeable fellow!" Beaufort threw down his steward's
account-book, on which he was employed, and replied,--

"Lilburne, I have never had an easy moment since that man has been in the
house. As he was your guest, I did not like to speak before, but don't
you observe--you must observe--how like he is to the old family
portraits? The more I have examined him, the more another resemblance
grows upon me. In a word," said Robert, pausing and breathing hard, "if
his name were not Vaudemont--if his history were not, apparently, so well
known, I should say--I should swear, that it is Philip Morton who sleeps
under this roof!"

"Ha!" said Lilburne, with an earnestness that surprised Beaufort, who
expected to have heard his brother-in-law's sneering sarcasm at his
fears; "the likeness you speak of to the old portraits did strike me; it
struck Marsden, too, the other day, as we were passing through the
picture-gallery; and Marsden remarked it aloud to Vaudemont. I remember
now that he changed countenance and made no answer. Hush! hush! hold your
tongue, let me think--let me think. This Philip--yes--yes--I and Arthur
saw him with--with Gawtrey--in Paris--"

"Gawtrey! was that the name of the rogue he was said to--"

"Yes--yes--yes. Ah! now I guess the meaning of those looks--those words,"
muttered Lilburne between his teeth. "This pretension to the name of
Vaudemont was always apocryphal--the story always but half believed--the
invention of a woman in love with him--the claim on your property is made
at the very time he appears in England. Ha! Have you a newspaper there?
Give it me. No! 'tis not in this paper. Ring the bell for the file!"

"What's the matter? you terrify me!" gasped out Mr. Beaufort, as he rang
the bell.

"Why! have you not seen an advertisement repeated several times within
the last month?"

"I never read advertisements; except in the county paper, if land is to
be sold."

"Nor I often; but this caught my eye. John" (here the servant entered),
"bring the file of the newspapers. The name of the witness whom Mrs.
Morton appealed to was Smith, the same name as the captain; what was the
Christian name?"

"I don't remember."

"Here are the papers--shut the door--and here is the advertisement: 'If
Mr. William Smith, son of Jeremiah Smith, who formerly rented the farm of
Shipdale-Bury, under the late Right Hon. Charles Leopold Beaufort (that's
your uncle), and who emigrated in the year 18-- to Australia, will apply
to Mr. Barlow, Solicitor, Essex Street, Strand, he will hear of something
to his advantage.'"

"Good Heavens! why did not you mention this to me before?"

"Because I did not think it of any importance. In the first place, there
might be some legacy left to the man, quite distinct from your business.
Indeed, that was the probable supposition;--or even if connected with the
claim, such an advertisement might be but a despicable attempt to
frighten you. Never mind--don't look so pale--after all, this is a proof
that the witness is not found--that Captain Smith is neither the Smith,
nor has discovered where the Smith is!"

"True!" observed Mr. Beaufort: "true--very true!"

"Humph!" said Lord Lilburne, who was still rapidly glancing over the
file--"Here is another advertisement which I never saw before: this looks
suspicious: 'If the person who called on the -- of September, on Mr.
Morton, linendraper, &c., of N----, will renew his application personally
or by letter, he may now obtain the information he sought for.'"

"Morton!--the woman's brother! their uncle! it is too clear!"

"But what brings this man, if he be really Philip Morton, what brings him
here!--to spy or to threaten?"

"I will get him out of the house this day."

"No--no; turn the watch upon himself. I see now; he is attracted by your
daughter; sound her quietly; don't tell her to discourage his
confidences; find out if he ever speaks of these Mortons. Ha! I
recollect--he has spoken to me of the Mortons, but vaguely--I forget
what. Humph! this is a man of spirit and daring--watch him, I say,--watch
him! When does Arthur came back?"

"He has been travelling so slowly, for he still complains of his health,
and has had relapses; but he ought to be in Paris this week, perhaps he
is there now. Good Heavens! he must not meet this man!"

"Do what I tell you! get out all from your daughter. Never fear: he can
do nothing against you except by law. But if he really like Camilla--"

"He!--Philip Morton--the adventurer--the--"

"He is the eldest son: remember you thought even of accepting the second.
He--nay find the witness--he may win his suit; if he likes Camilla, there
may be a compromise."

Mr. Beaufort felt as if turned to ice.

"You think him likely to win this infamous suit, then?" he faltered.

"Did not you guard against the possibility by securing the brother? More
worth while to do it with this man. Hark ye! the politics of private are
like those of public life,--when the state can't crush a demagogue, it
should entice him over. If you can ruin this dog" (and Lilburne stamped
his foot fiercely, forgetful of the gout), "ruin him! hang him! If you
can't" (and here with a wry face he caressed the injured foot), "if you
can't ('sdeath, what a twinge!), and he can ruin you,--bring him into the
family, and make his secret ours! I must go and lie down--I have
overexcited myself."

In great perplexity Beaufort repaired at once to Camilla. His nervous
agitation betrayed itself, though he smiled a ghastly smile, and intended
to be exceeding cool and collected. His questions, which confused and
alarmed her, soon drew out the fact that the very first time Vaudemont
had been introduced to her he had spoken of the Mortons; and that he had
often afterwards alluded to the subject, and seemed at first strongly
impressed with the notion that the younger brother was under Beaufort's
protection; though at last he appeared reluctantly convinced of the
contrary. Robert, however agitated, preserved at least enough of his
natural slyness not to let out that he suspected Vaudemont to be Philip
Morton himself, for he feared lest his daughter should betray that
suspicion to its object.

"But," he said, with a look meant to win confidence, "I dare say he knows
these young men. I should like myself to know more about them. Learn all
you can, and tell me, and, I say--I say, Camilla,--he! he! he!--you have
made a conquest, you little flirt, you! Did he, this Vaudemont, ever say
how much he admired you?"

"He!--never!" said Camilla, blushing, and then turning pale.

"But he looks it. Ah! you say nothing, then. Well, well, don't discourage
him; that is to say,--yes, don't discourage him. Talk to him as much as
you can,--ask him about his own early life. I've a particular wish to
know--'tis of great importance to me."

"But, my dear father," said Camilla, trembling and thoroughly bewildered,
"I fear this man,--I fear--I fear--"

Was she going to add, "I fear myself?" I know not; but she stopped short,
and burst into tears.

"Hang these girls!" muttered Mr. Beaufort, "always crying when they ought
to be of use to one. Go down, dry your eyes, do as I tell you,--get all
you can from him. Fear him!--yes, I dare say she does!" muttered the poor
man, as he closed the door.

From that time what wonder that Camilla's manner to Vaudemont was yet
more embarrassed than ever: what wonder that he put his own heart's
interpretation on that confusion. Beaufort took care to thrust her more
often than before in his way; he suddenly affected a creeping, fawning
civility to Vaudemont; he was sure he was fond of music; what did he
think of that new air Camilla was so fond of? He must be a judge of
scenery, he who had seen so much: there were beautiful landscapes in the
neighbourhood, and, if he would forego his sports, Camilla drew prettily,
had an eye for that sort of thing, and was so fond of riding.

Vaudemont was astonished at this change, but his delight was greater than
the astonishment. He began to perceive that his identity was suspected;
perhaps Beaufort, more generous than he had deemed him, meant to repay
every early wrong or harshness by one inestimable blessing. The generous
interpret motives in extremes--ever too enthusiastic or too severe.
Vaudemont felt as if he had wronged the wronger; he began to conquer even
his dislike to Robert Beaufort. For some days he was thus thrown much
with Camilla; the questions her father forced her to put to him, uttered
tremulously and fearfully, seemed to him proof of her interest in his
fate. His feelings to Camilla, so sudden in their growth--so ripened and
so favoured by the Sub-Ruler of the world--CIRCUMSTANCE--might not,
perhaps, have the depth and the calm completeness of that, One True Love,
of which there are many counterfeits,--and which in Man, at least,
possibly requires the touch and mellowness, if not of time, at least of
many memories--of perfect and tried conviction of the faith, the worth,
the value and the beauty of the heart to which it clings;--but those
feelings were, nevertheless, strong, ardent, and intense. He believed
himself beloved--he was in Elysium. But he did not yet declare the
passion that beamed in his eyes. No! he would not yet claim the hand of
Camilla Beaufort, for he imagined the time would soon come when he could
claim it, not as the inferior or the suppliant, but as the lord of her
father's fate.




CHAPTER X.

   "Here's something got amongst us!"--Knight of Malta.

Two or three nights after his memorable conversation with Robert
Beaufort, as Lord Lilburne was undressing, he said to his valet:

"Dykeman, I am getting well."

"Indeed, my lord, I never saw your lordship look better."

"There you lie. I looked better last year--I looked better the year
before--and I looked better and better every year back to the age of
twenty-one! But I'm not talking of looks, no man with money wants looks.
I am talking of feelings. I feel better. The gout is almost gone. I have
been quiet now for a month--that's a long time--time wasted when, at my
age, I have so little time to waste. Besides, as you know, I am very much
in love!"

"In love, my lord? I thought that you told me never to speak of--"

"Blockhead! what the deuce was the good of speaking about it when I was
wrapped in flannels! I am never in love when I am ill--who is? I am well
now, or nearly so; and I've had things to vex me--things to make this
place very disagreeable; I shall go to town, and before this day week,
perhaps, that charming face may enliven the solitude of Fernside. I shall
look to it myself now. I see you're going to say something. Spare
yourself the trouble! nothing ever goes wrong if I myself take it in
hand."

The next day Lord Lilburne, who, in truth, felt himself uncomfortable and
gene in the presence of Vaudemont; who had won as much as the guests at
Beaufort Court seemed inclined to lose; and who made it the rule of his
life to consult his own pleasure and amusement before anything else, sent
for his post-horses, and informed his brother-in-law of his departure.

"And you leave me alone with this man just when I am convinced that he is
the person we suspected! My dear Lilburne, do stay till he goes."

"Impossible! I am between fifty and sixty--every moment is precious at
that time of life. Besides, I've said all I can say; rest quiet--act on
the defensive--entangle this cursed Vaudemont, or Morton, or whoever he
be, in the mesh of your daughter's charms, and then get rid of him, not
before. This can do no harm, let the matter turn out how it will. Read
the papers; and send for Blackwell if you want advice on any, new
advertisements. I don't see that anything more is to be done at present.
You can write to me; I shall be at Park Lane or Fernside. Take care of
yourself. You're a lucky fellow--you never have the gout! Good-bye."

And in half an hour Lord Lilburne was on the road to London.

The departure of Lilburne was a signal to many others, especially and
naturally to those he himself had invited. He had not announced to such
visitors his intention of going till his carriage was at the door. This
might be delicacy or carelessness, just as people chose to take it: and
how they did take it, Lord Lilburne, much too selfish to be well-bred,
did not care a rush. The next day half at least of the guests were gone;
and even Mr. Marsden, who had been specially invited on Arthur's account,
announced that he should go after dinner! he always travelled by
night--he slept well on the road--a day was not lost by it.

"And it is so long since you saw Arthur," said Mr. Beaufort, in
remonstrance, "and I expect him every day."

"Very sorry--best fellow in the world--but the fact is, that I am not
very well myself. I want a little sea air; I shall go to Dover or
Brighton. But I suppose you will have the house full again about
Christmas; in that case I shall be delighted to repeat my visit."

The fact was, that Mr. Marsden, without Lilburne's intellect on the one
hand, or vices on the other, was, like that noble sensualist, one of the
broken pieces of the great looking-glass "SELF." He was noticed in
society as always haunting the places where Lilburne played at cards,
carefully choosing some other table, and as carefully betting upon
Lilburne's side. The card-tables were now broken up; Vaudemont's
superiority in shooting, and the manner in which he engrossed the talk of
the sportsmen, displeased him. He was bored--he wanted to be off-and off
he went. Vaudemont felt that the time was come for him to depart, too;
Robert Beaufort--who felt in his society the painful fascination of the
bird with the boa, who hated to see him there, and dreaded to see him
depart, who had not yet extracted all the confirmation of his persuasions
that he required, for Vaudemont easily enough parried the artless
questions of Camilla--pressed him to stay with so eager a hospitality,
and made Camilla herself falter out, against her will, and even against
her remonstrances--(she never before had dared to remonstrate with either
father or mother),--"Could not you stay a few days longer?"--that
Vaudemont was too contented to yield to his own inclinations; and so for
some little time longer he continued to move before the eyes of Mr.
Beaufort--stern, sinister, silent, mysterious--like one of the family
pictures stepped down from its frame. Vaudemont wrote, however, to Fanny,
to excuse his delay; and anxious to hear from her as to her own and
Simon's health, bade her direct her letter to his lodging in London (of
which he gave her the address), whence, if he still continued to defer
his departure, it would be forwarded to him. He did not do this, however,
till he had been at Beaufort Court several days after Lilburne's
departure, and till, in fact, two days before the eventful one which
closed his visit.

The party, now greatly diminished; were at breakfast, when the servant
entered, as usual, with the letter-bag. Mr. Beaufort, who was always
important and pompous in the small ceremonials of life, unlocked the
precious deposit with slow dignity, drew forth the newspapers, which he
threw on the table, and which the gentlemen of the party eagerly seized;
then, diving out one by one, jerked first a letter to Camilla, next a
letter to Vaudemont, and, thirdly, seized a letter for himself.

"I beg that there may be no ceremony, Monsieur de Vaudemont: pray excuse
me and follow my example: I see this letter is from my son;" and he broke
the seal.

The letter ran thus:

"MY DEAR FATHER,--Almost as soon as you receive this, I shall be with
you. Ill as I am, I can have no peace till I see and consult you. The
most startling--the most painful intelligence has just been conveyed to
me. It is of a nature not to bear any but personal communication.

          "Your affectionate son,
                     "ARTHUR BEAUFORT.
"Boulogne.

"P.S.--This will go by the same packet-boat that I shall take myself, and
can only reach you a few hours before I arrive."

Mr. Beaufort's trembling hand dropped the letter--he grasped the elbow of
the chair to save himself from falling. It was clear!--the same visitor
who had persecuted himself had now sought his son! He grew sick, his son
might have heard the witness--might be convinced. His son himself now
appeared to him as a foe--for the father dreaded the son's honour! He
glanced furtively round the table, till his eye rested on Vaudemont, and
his terror was redoubled, for Vaudemont's face, usually so calm, was
animated to an extraordinary degree, as he now lifted it from the letter
he had just read. Their eyes met. Robert Beaufort looked on him as a
prisoner at the bar looks on the accusing counsel, when he first
commences his harangue.

"Mr. Beaufort," said the guest, "the letter you have given me summons me
to London on important business, and immediately. Suffer me to send for
horses at your earliest convenience."

"What's the matter?" said the feeble and seldom heard voice of Mrs.
Beaufort. "What's the matter, Robert?--is Arthur coming?"

"He comes to-day," said the father, with a deep sigh; and Vaudemont, at
that moment rising from his half-finished breakfast, with a bow that
included the group, and with a glance that lingered on Camilla, as she
bent over her own unopened letter (a letter from Winandermere, the seal
of which she dared not yet to break), quitted the room. He hastened to
his own chamber, and strode to and fro with a stately step--the step of
the Master--then, taking forth the letter, he again hurried over its
contents. They ran thus:

DEAR, Sir,--At last the missing witness has applied to me. He proves to
be, as you conjectured, the same person who had called on Mr. Roger
Morton; but as there are some circumstances on which I wish to take your
instructions without a moment's delay, I shall leave London by the mail,
and wait you at D---- (at the principal inn), which is, I understand,
twenty miles on the high road from Beaufort Court.

            "I have the honor to be, sir,
                  "Yours, &c.,
                      "JOHN BARLOW.

Vaudemont was yet lost in the emotions that this letter aroused, when
they came to announce that his chaise was arrived. As he went down the
stairs he met Camilla, who was on the way to her own room.

"Miss Beaufort," said he, in a low and tremulous voice, "in wishing you
farewell I may not now say more. I leave you, and, strange to say, I do
not regret it, for I go upon an errand that may entitle me to return
again, and speak those thoughts which are uppermost in my soul even at
this moment."

He raised her hand to his lips as he spoke, and at that moment Mr.
Beaufort looked from the door of his own room, and cried, "Camilla." She
was too glad to escape. Philip gazed after her light form for an instant,
and then hurried down the stairs.




CHAPTER XI.

     "Longueville.--What! are you married, Beaufort?
     Beaufort.--Ay, as fast
     As words, and hands, and hearts, and priest,
     Could make us."--BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER: Noble Gentleman.

In the parlour of the inn at D------ sat Mr. John Barlow. He had just
finished his breakfast, and was writing letters and looking over papers
connected with his various business--when the door was thrown open, and a
gentleman entered abruptly.

"Mr. Beaufort," said the lawyer rising, "Mr. Philip Beaufort--for such I
now feel you are by right--though," he added, with his usual formal and
quiet smile, "not yet by law; and much--very much, remains to be done to
make the law and the right the same;--I congratulate you on having
something at last to work on. I had begun to despair of finding our
witness, after a month's advertising; and had commenced other
investigations, of which I will speak to you presently, when yesterday,
on my return to town from an errand on your business, I had the pleasure
of a visit from William Smith himself.--My dear sir, do not yet be too
sanguine.--It seems that this poor fellow, having known misfortune, was
in America when the first fruitless inquiries were made. Long after this
he returned to the colony, and there met with a brother, who, as I drew
from him, was a convict. He helped the brother to escape. They both came
to England. William learned from a distant relation, who lent him some
little money, of the inquiry that had been set on foot for him; consulted
his brother, who desired him to leave all to his management. The brother
afterwards assured him that you and Mr. Sidney were both dead; and it
seems (for the witness is simple enough to allow me to extract all) this
same brother then went to Mr. Beaufort to hold out the threat of a
lawsuit, and to offer the sale of the evidence yet existing--"

"And Mr. Beaufort?"

"I am happy to say, seems to have spurned the offer. Meanwhile William,
incredulous of his brother's report, proceeded to N----, learned nothing
from Mr. Morton, met his brother again--and the brother (confessing that
he had deceived him in the assertion that you and Mr. Sidney were dead)
told him that he had known you in earlier life, and set out to Paris to
seek you--"

"Known me?--To Paris?"

"More of this presently. William returned to town, living hardly and
penuriously on the little his brother bestowed on him, too melancholy and
too poor for the luxury of a newspaper, and never saw our advertisement,
till, as luck would have it, his money was out; he had heard nothing
further of his brother, and he went for new assistance to the same
relation who had before aided him. This relation, to his surprise,
received the poor man very kindly, lent him what he wanted, and then
asked him if he had not seen our advertisement. The newspaper shown him.
contained both the advertisements--that relating to Mr. Morton's visitor,
that containing his own name. He coupled them both together--called on me
at once. I was from town on your business. He returned to his own home;
the next morning (yesterday morning) came a letter from his brother,
which I obtained from him at last, and with promises that no harm should
happen to the writer on account of it."

Vaudemont took the letter and read as follows:

"DEAR WILLIAM,--No go about the youngster I went after: all researches in
vane. Paris develish expensive. Never mind, I have sene the other--the
young B--; different sort of fellow from his father--very ill--frightened
out of his wits--will go off to the governor, take me with him as far as
Bullone. I think we shall settel it now. Mind as I saide before, don't
put your foot in it. I send you a Nap in the Seele--all I can spare.

             "Yours,
                  "JEREMIAH SMITH.

"Direct to me, Monsieur Smith--always a safe name--Ship Inn, Bullone."

"Jeremiah--Smith--Jeremiah!"

"Do you know the name then?" said Mr. Barlow. "Well; the poor man owns
that he was frightened at his brother--that he wished to do what is
right--that he feared his brother would not let him--that your father was
very kind to him--and so he came off at once to me; and I was very
luckily at home to assure him that the heir was alive, and prepared to
assert his rights. Now then, Mr. Beaufort, we have the witness, but will
that suffice us? I fear not. Will the jury believe him with no other
testimony at his back? Consider!--When he was gone I put myself in
communication with some officers at Bow Street about this brother of
his--a most notorious character, commonly called in the police slang
Dashing Jerry--"

"Ah! Well, proceed!"

"Your one witness, then, is a very poor, penniless man, his brother a
rogue, a convict: this witness, too, is the most timid, fluctuating,
irresolute fellow I ever saw; I should tremble for his testimony against
a sharp, bullying lawyer. And that, sir, is all at present we have to
look to."

"I see--I see. It is dangerous--it is hazardous. But truth is truth;
justice--justice! I will run the risk."

"Pardon me, if I ask, did you ever know this brother?--were you ever
absolutely acquainted with him--in the same house?"

"Many years since--years of early hardship and trial--I was acquainted
with him--what then?"

"I am sorry to hear it," and the lawyer looked grave. "Do you not see
that if this witness is browbeat--is disbelieved, and if it be shown that
you, the claimant, was--forgive my saying it--intimate with a brother of
such a character, why the whole thing might be made to look like perjury
and conspiracy. If we stop here it is an ugly business!"

"And is this all you have to say to me? The witness is found--the only
surviving witness--the only proof I ever shall or ever can obtain, and
you seek to terrify me--me too--from using the means for redress
Providence itself vouchsafes me--Sir, I will not hear you!"

"Mr. Beaufort, you are impatient--it is natural. But if we go to
law--that is, should I have anything to do with it, wait--wait till your
case is good. And hear me yet. This is not the only proof--this is not
the only witness; you forget that there was an examined copy of the
register; we may yet find that copy, and the person who copied it may yet
be alive to attest it. Occupied with this thought, and weary of waiting
the result of our advertisement, I resolved to go into the neighbourhood
of Fernside; luckily, there was a gentleman's seat to be sold in the
village. I made the survey of this place my apparent business. After
going over the house, I appeared anxious to see how far some alterations
could be made--alterations to render it more like Lord Lilburne's villa.
This led me to request a sight of that villa--a crown to the housekeeper
got me admittance. The housekeeper had lived with your father, and been
retained by his lordship. I soon, therefore, knew which were the rooms
the late Mr. Beaufort had principally occupied; shown into his study,
where it was probable he would keep his papers, I inquired if it were the
same furniture (which seemed likely enough from its age and fashion) as
in your father's time: it was so; Lord Lilburne had bought the house just
as it stood, and, save a few additions in the drawing-room, the general
equipment of the villa remained unaltered. You look impatient!--I'm
coming to the point. My eye fell upon an old-fashioned bureau--"

"But we searched every drawer in that bureau!"

"Any secret drawers?"

"Secret drawers! No! there were no secret drawers that I ever heard of!"

Mr. Barlow rubbed his hands and mused a moment.

"I was struck with that bureau; for any father had had one like it. It is
not English--it is of Dutch manufacture."

"Yes, I have heard that my father bought it at a sale, three or four
years after his marriage."

"I learned this from the housekeeper, who was flattered by my admiring
it. I could not find out from her at what sale it had been purchased, but
it was in the neighbourhood she was sure. I had now a date to go upon; I
learned, by careless inquiries, what sales near Fernside had taken place
in a certain year. A gentleman had died at that date whose furniture was
sold by auction. With great difficulty, I found that his widow was still
alive, living far up the country: I paid her a visit; and, not to fatigue
you with too long an account, I have only to say that she not only
assured me that she perfectly remembered the bureau, but that it had
secret drawers and wells, very curiously contrived; nay, she showed me
the very catalogue in which the said receptacles are noticed in capitals,
to arrest the eye of the bidder, and increase the price of the bidding.
That your father should never have revealed where he stowed this document
is natural enough, during the life of his uncle; his own life was not
spared long enough to give him much opportunity to explain afterwards,
but I feel perfectly persuaded in my mind--that unless Mr. Robert
Beaufort discovered that paper amongst the others he examined--in one of
those drawers will be found all we want to substantiate your claims. This
is the more likely from your father never mentioning, even to your mother
apparently, the secret receptacles in the bureau. Why else such mystery?
The probability is that he received the document either just before or at
the time he purchased the bureau, or that he bought it for that very
purpose: and, having once deposited the paper in a place he deemed secure
from curiosity--accident, carelessness, policy, perhaps, rather shame
itself (pardon me) for the doubt of your mother's discretion, that his
secrecy seemed to imply, kept him from ever alluding to the circumstance,
even when the intimacy of after years made him more assured of your
mother's self-sacrificing devotion to his interests. At his uncle's death
he thought to repair all!"

"And how, if that be true--if that Heaven which has delivered me hitherto
from so many dangers, has, in the very secrecy of my poor father, saved
my birthright front the gripe of the usurper--how, I say, is---"

"The bureau to pass into our possession? That is the difficulty. But we
must contrive it somehow, if all else fail us; meanwhile, as I now feel
sure that there has been a copy of that register made, I wish to know
whether I should not immediately cross the country into Wales, and see if
I can find any person in the neighbourhood of A----- who did examine the
copy taken: for, mark you, the said copy is only of importance as leading
to the testimony of the actual witness who took it."

"Sir," said Vaudemont, heartily shaking Mr. Barlow by the hand, "forgive
my first petulance. I see in you the very man I desired and wanted--your
acuteness surprises and encourages me. Go to Wales, and God speed you!"

"Very well!--in five minutes I shall be off. Meanwhile, see the witness
yourself; the sight of his benefactor's son will do more to keep him
steady than anything else. There's his address, and take care not to give
him money. And now I will order my chaise--the matter begins to look
worth expense. Oh! I forgot to say that Monsieur Liancourt called on you
yesterday about his own affairs. He wishes much to consult you. I told
him you would probably be this evening in town, and he said he would wait
you at your lodging."

"Yes--I will lose not a moment in going to London, and visiting our
witness. And he saw my mother at the altar! My poor mother--Ah, how could
my father have doubted her!" and as he spoke, he blushed for the first
time with shame at that father's memory. He could not yet conceive that
one so frank, one usually so bold and open, could for years have
preserved from the woman who had sacrificed all to him, a secret to her
so important! That was, in fact, the only blot on his father's honour--a
foul and grave blot it was. Heavily had the punishment fallen on those
whom the father loved best! Alas, Philip had not yet learned what
terrible corrupters are the Hope and the Fear of immense Wealthy, even to
men reputed the most honourable, if they have been reared and pampered in
the belief that wealth is the Arch blessing of life. Rightly considered,
in Philip Beaufort's solitary meanness lay the vast moral of this world's
darkest truth!

Mr. Barlow was gone. Philip was about to enter his own chaise, when a
dormeuse-and-four drove up to the inn-door to change horses. A young man
was reclining, at his length, in the carriage, wrapped in cloaks, and
with a ghastly paleness--the paleness of long and deep disease upon his
cheeks. He turned his dim eye with, perhaps, a glance of the sick man's
envy on that strong and athletic, form, majestic with health and vigour,
as it stood beside the more humble vehicle. Philip did not, however,
notice the new arrival; he sprang into the chaise, it rattled on, and
thus, unconsciously, Arthur Beaufort and his cousin had again met. To
which was now the Night--to which the Morning?




CHAPTER XII.

     "Bakam. Let my men guard the walls.
     Syana. And mine the temple."--The Island Princess.

While thus eventfully the days and the weeks had passed for Philip, no
less eventfully, so far as the inner life is concerned, had they glided
away for Fanny. She had feasted in quiet and delighted thought on the
consciousness that she was improving--that she was growing worthier of
him--that he would perceive it on his return. Her manner was more
thoughtful, more collected--less childish, in short, than it had been.
And yet, with all the stir and flutter of the aroused intellect, the
charm of her strange innocence was not scared away. She rejoiced in the
ancient liberty she had regained of going out and coming back when she
pleased; and as the weather was too cold ever to tempt Simon from his
fireside, except, perhaps, for half-an-hour in the forenoon, so the hours
of dusk, when he least missed her, were those which she chiefly
appropriated for stealing away to the good school-mistress, and growing
wiser and wiser every day in the ways of God and the learning of His
creatures. The schoolmistress was not a brilliant woman. Nor was it
accomplishments of which Fanny stood in need, so much as the opening of
her thoughts and mind by profitable books and rational conversation.
Beautiful as were all her natural feelings, the schoolmistress had now
little difficulty in educating feelings up to the dignity of principles.

At last, hitherto patient under the absence of one never absent from her
heart, Fanny received from him the letter he had addressed to her two
days before he quitted Beaufort Court;--another letter--a second
letter--a letter to excuse himself for not coming before--a letter that
gave her an address that asked for a reply. It was a morning of
unequalled delight approaching to transport. And then the excitement of
answering the letter--the pride of showing how she was improved, what an
excellent hand she now wrote! She shut herself up in her room: she did
not go out that day. She placed the paper before her, and, to her
astonishment, all that she had to say vanished from her mind at once. How
was she even to begin? She had always hitherto called him "Brother." Ever
since her conversation with Sarah she felt that she could not call him
that name again for the world--no, never! But what should she call
him--what could she call him? He signed himself "Philip." She knew that
was his name. She thought it a musical name to utter, but to write it!
No! some instinct she could not account for seemed to whisper that it was
improper--presumptuous, to call him "Dear Philip." Had Burns's songs--the
songs that unthinkingly he had put into her hand, and told her to
read--songs that comprise the most beautiful love-poems in the world--had
they helped to teach her some of the secrets of her own heart? And had
timidity come with knowledge? Who shall say--who guess what passed within
her? Nor did Fanny herself, perhaps, know her own feelings: but write the
words "Dear Philip" she could not. And the whole of that day, though she
thought of nothing else, she could not even get through the first line to
her satisfaction. The next morning she sat down again. It would be so
unkind if she did not answer immediately: she must answer. She placed his
letter before her--she resolutely began. But copy after copy was made and
torn. And Simon wanted her--and Sarah wanted her--and there were bills to
be paid; and dinner was over before her task was really begun. But after
dinner she began in good earnest.

"How kind in you to write to me" (the difficulty of any name was
dispensed with by adopting none), "and to wish to know about my dear
grandfather! He is much the same, but hardly ever walks out now, and I
have had a good deal of time to myself. I think something will surprise
you, and make you smile, as you used to do at first, when you come back.
You must not be angry with me that I have gone out by myself very
often--every day, indeed. I have been so safe. Nobody has ever offered to
be rude again to Fanny" (the word "Fanny" was carefully scratched out
with a penknife, and me substituted). "But you shall know all when you
come. And are you sure you are well--quite--quite well? Do you never have
the headaches you complained of sometimes? Do say this? Do you walk
out-every day? Is there any pretty churchyard near you now? Whom do you
walk with?

"I have been so happy in putting the flowers on the two graves. But I
still give yours the prettiest, though the other is so dear to me. I feel
sad when I come to the last, but not when I look at the one I have looked
at so long. Oh, how good you were! But you don't like me to thank you."

"This is very stupid!" cried Fanny, suddenly throwing down her pen; "and
I don't think I am improved at it;" and she half cried with vexation.
Suddenly a bright idea crossed her. In the little parlour where the
schoolmistress privately received her, she had seen among the books, and
thought at the time how useful it might be to her if ever she had to
write to Philip, a little volume entitled, The Complete Letter Writer.
She knew by the title-page that it contained models for every description
of letter--no doubt it would contain the precise thing that would suit
the present occasion. She started up at the notion. She would go--she
could be back to finish the letter before post-time. She put on her
bonnet--left the letter, in her haste, open on the table--and just
looking into the parlour in her way to the street door, to convince
herself that Simon was asleep, and the wire-guard was on the fire, she
hurried to the kind schoolmistress.

One of the fogs that in autumn gather sullenly over London and its
suburbs covered the declining day with premature dimness. It grew darker
and darker as she proceeded, but she reached the house in safety. She
spent a quarter of an hour in timidly consulting her friend about all
kinds of letters except the identical one that she intended to write, and
having had it strongly impressed on her mind that if the letter was to a
gentleman at all genteel, she ought to begin "Dear Sir," and end with "I
have the honour to remain;" and that he would be everlastingly offended
if she did not in the address affix "Esquire" to his name (that, was a
great discovery),--she carried off the precious volume, and quitted the
house. There was a wall that, bounding the demesnes of the school, ran
for some short distance into the main street. The increasing fog, here,
faintly struggled against the glimmer of a single lamp at some little
distance. Just in this spot, her eye was caught by a dark object in the
road, which she could scarcely perceive to be a carriage, when her hand
was seized, and a voice said in her ear:--

"Ah! you will not be so cruel to me, I hope, as you were to my messenger!
I have come myself for you."

She turned in great alarm, but the darkness prevented her recognising the
face of him who thus accosted her. "Let me go!" she cried,--"let me go!"

"Hush! hush! No--no. Come with me. You shall have a
house--carriage--servants! You shall wear silk gowns and jewels! You
shall be a great lady!"

As these various temptations succeeded in rapid course each new struggle
of Fanny, a voice from the coach-box said in a low tone,--

"Take care, my lord, I see somebody coming--perhaps a policeman!"

Fanny heard the caution, and screamed for rescue.

"Is it so?" muttered the molester. And suddenly Fanny felt her voice
checked--her head mantled--her light form lifted from the ground. She
clung--she struggled it was in vain. It was the affair of a moment: she
felt herself borne into the carriage--the door closed--the stranger was
by her side, and his voice said:--

"Drive on, Dykeman. Fast! fast!"

Two or three minutes, which seemed to her terror as ages, elapsed, when
the gag and the mantle were gently removed, and the same voice (she still
could not see her companion) said in a very mild tone:--

"Do not alarm yourself; there is no cause,--indeed there is not. I would
not have adopted this plan had there been any other--any gentler one. But
I could not call at your own house--I knew no other where to meet you.

"This was the only course left to me--indeed it was. I made myself
acquainted with your movements. Do not blame me, then, for prying into
your footsteps. I watched for you all last night-you did not come out. I
was in despair. At last I find you. Do not be so terrified: I will not
even touch your hand if you do not wish it."

As he spoke, however, he attempted to touch it, and was repulsed with an
energy that rather disconcerted him. The poor girl recoiled from him into
the farthest corner of that prison in speechless horror--in the darkest
confusion of ideas. She did not weep--she did not sob--but her trembling
seemed to shake the very carriage. The man continued to address, to
expostulate, to pray, to soothe.

His manner was respectful. His protestations that he would not harm her
for the world were endless.

"Only just see the home I can give you; for two days--for one day. Only
just hear how rich I can make you and your grandfather, and then if you
wish to leave me, you shall."

More, much more, to this effect, did he continue to pour forth, without
extracting any sound from Fanny but gasps as for breath, and now and then
a low murmur:

"Let me go, let me go! My grandfather, my blind grandfather!"

And finally tears came to her relief, and she sobbed with a passion that
alarmed, and perhaps even touched her companion, cynical and icy as he
was. Meanwhile the carriage seemed to fly. Fast as two horses,
thorough-bred, and almost at full speed, could go, they were whirled
along, till about an hour, or even less, from the time in which she had
been thus captured, the carriage stopped.

"Are we here already?" said the man, putting his head out of the window.
"Do then as I told you. Not to the front door; to my study."

In two minutes more the carriage halted again, before a building which
looked white and ghostlike through the mist. The driver dismounted,
opened with a latch-key a window-door, entered for a moment to light the
candles in a solitary room from a fire that blazed on the hearth,
reappeared, and opened the carriage-door. It was with a difficulty for
which they were scarcely prepared that they were enabled to get Fanny
from the carriage. No soft words, no whispered prayers could draw her
forth; and it was with no trifling address, for her companion sought to
be as gentle as the force necessary to employ would allow, that he
disengaged her hands from the window-frame, the lining, the cushions, to
which they clung; and at last bore her into the house. The driver closed
the window again as he retreated, and they were alone. Fanny then cast a
wild, scarce conscious glance over the apartment. It was small and simply
furnished. Opposite to her was an old-fashioned bureau, one of those
quaint, elaborate monuments of Dutch ingenuity, which, during the present
century, the audacious spirit of curiosity-vendors has transplanted from
their native receptacles, to contrast, with grotesque strangeness, the
neat handiwork of Gillow and Seddon. It had a physiognomy and character
of its own--this fantastic foreigner! Inlaid with mosaics, depicting
landscapes and animals; graceless in form and fashion, but still
picturesque, and winning admiration, when more closely observed, from the
patient defiance of all rules of taste which had formed its cumbrous
parts into one profusely ornamented and eccentric whole. It was the more
noticeable from its total want of harmony with the other appurtenances of
the room, which bespoke the tastes of the plain English squire. Prints of
horses and hunts, fishing-rods and fowling-pieces, carefully suspended,
decorated the walls. Not, however, on this notable stranger from the
sluggish land rested the eye of Fanny. That, in her hurried survey, was
arrested only by a portrait placed over the bureau--the portrait of a
female in the bloom of life; a face so fair, a brow so candid, and eyes
so pure, a lip so rich in youth and joy--that as her look lingered on the
features Fanny felt comforted, felt as if some living protectress were
there. The fire burned bright and merrily; a table, spread as for dinner,
was drawn near it. To any other eye but Fanny's the place would have
seemed a picture of English comfort. At last her looks rested on her
companion. He had thrown himself, with a long sigh, partly of fatigue,
partly of satisfaction, on one of the chairs, and was contemplating her
as she thus stood and gazed, with an expression of mingled curiosity and
admiration; she recognised at once her first, her only persecutor. She
recoiled, and covered her face with her hands. The man approached her:--

"Do not hate me, Fanny,--do not turn away. Believe me, though I have
acted thus violently, here all violence will cease. I love you, but I
will not be satisfied till you love me in return. I am not young, and I
am not handsome, but I am rich and great, and I can make those whom I
love happy,--so happy, Fanny!"

But Fanny had turned away, and was now busily employed in trying to
re-open the door at which she had entered. Failing in this, she suddenly
darted away, opened the inner door, and rushed into the passage with a
loud cry. Her persecutor stifled an oath, and sprung after and arrested
her. He now spoke sternly, and with a smile and a frown at once:--

"This is folly;--come back, or you will repent it! I have promised you,
as a gentleman--as a nobleman, if you know what that is--to respect you.
But neither will I myself be trifled with nor insulted. There must be no
screams!"

His look and his voice awed Fanny in spite of her bewilderment and her
loathing, and she suffered herself passively to be drawn into the room.
He closed and bolted the door. She threw herself on the ground in one
corner, and moaned low but piteously. He looked at her musingly for some
moments, as he stood by the fire, and at last went to the door, opened
it, and called "Harriet" in a low voice. Presently a young woman, of
about thirty, appeared, neatly but plainly dressed, and of a countenance
that, if not very winning, might certainly be called very handsome. He
drew her aside for a few moments, and a whispered conference was
exchanged. He then walked gravely up to Fanny "My young friend," said he,
"I see my presence is too much for you this evening. This young woman
will attend you--will get you all you want. She can tell you, too, that I
am not the terrible sort of person you seem to suppose. I shall see you
to-morrow." So saying, he turned on his heel and walked out.

Fanny felt something like liberty, something like joy, again. She rose,
and looked so pleadingly, so earnestly, so intently into the woman's
face, that Harriet turned away her bold eyes abashed; and at this moment
Dykeman himself looked into the room.

"You are to bring us in dinner here yourself, uncle; and then go to my
lord in the drawing-room."

Dykeman looked pleased, and vanished. Then Harriet came up and took
Fanny's hand, and said, kindly,--

"Don't be frightened. I assure you, half the girls in London would give I
don't know what to be in your place. My lord never will force you to do
anything you don't like--it's not his way; and he's the kindest and best
man,--and so rich; he does not know what to do with his money!"

To all this Fanny made but one answer,--she threw herself suddenly upon
the woman's breast, and sobbed out: "My grandfather is blind, he cannot
do without me--he will die--die. Have you nobody you love, too? Let me
go--let me out! What can they want with me?--I never did harm to any
one."

"And no one will harm you;--I swear it!" said Harriet, earnestly. "I see
you don't know my lord. But here's the dinner; come, and take a bit of
something, and a glass of wine."

Fanny could not touch anything except a glass of water, and that nearly
choked her. But at last, as she recovered her senses, the absence of her
tormentor--the presence of a woman--the solemn assurances of Harriet
that, if she did not like to stay there, after a day or two, she should
go back, tranquillised her in some measure. She did not heed the artful
and lengthened eulogiums that the she-tempter then proceeded to pour
forth upon the virtues, and the love, and the generosity, and, above all,
the money of my lord. She only kept repeating to herself, "I shall go
back in a day or two." At length, Harriet, having eaten and drunk as much
as she could by her single self, and growing wearied with efforts from
which so little resulted, proposed to Fanny to retire to rest. She opened
a door to the right of the fireplace, and lighted her up a winding
staircase to a pretty and comfortable chamber, where she offered to help
her to undress. Fanny's complete innocence, and her utter ignorance of
the precise nature of the danger that awaited her, though she fancied it
must be very great and very awful, prevented her quite comprehending all
that Harriet meant to convey by her solemn assurances that she should not
be disturbed. But she understood, at least, that she was not to see her
hateful gaoler till the next morning; and when Harriet, wishing her "good
night," showed her a bolt to her door, she was less terrified at the
thought of being alone in that strange place. She listened till Harriet's
footsteps had died away, and then, with a beating heart, tried to open
the door; it was locked from without. She sighed heavily. The
window?--alas! when she had removed the shutter, there was another one
barred from without, which precluded all hope there; she had no help for
it but to bolt her door, stand forlorn and amazed at her own condition,
and, at last, falling on her knees, to pray, in her own simple fashion,
which since her recent visits to the schoolmistress had become more
intelligent and earnest, to Him from whom no bolts and no bars can
exclude the voice of the human heart.




CHAPTER XIII.

     "In te omnis domus inclinata recumbit."--VIRGIL.

      [On thee the whole house rests confidingly.]

Lord Lilburne, seated before a tray in the drawing-room, was finishing
his own solitary dinner, and Dykeman was standing close behind him,
nervous and agitated. The confidence of many years between the master and
the servant--the peculiar mind of Lilburne, which excluded him from all
friendship with his own equals--had established between the two the kind
of intimacy so common with the noble and the valet of the old French
regime, and indeed, in much Lilburne more resembled the men of that day
and land, than he did the nobler and statelier being which belongs to our
own. But to the end of time, whatever is at once vicious, polished, and
intellectual, will have a common likeness.

"But, my lord," said Dykeman, "just reflect. This girl is so well known
in the place; she will be sure to be missed; and if any violence is done
to her, it's a capital crime, my lord--a capital crime. I know they can't
hang a great lord like you, but all concerned in it may----"

Lord Lilburne interrupted the speaker by, "Give me some wine and hold
your tongue!" Then, when he had emptied his glass, he drew himself nearer
to the fire, warmed his hands, mused a moment, and turned round to his
confidant:--

"Dykeman," said he, "though you're an ass and a coward, and you don't
deserve that I should be so condescending, I will relieve your fears at
once. I know the law better than you can, for my whole life has been
spent in doing exactly as I please, without ever putting myself in the
power of LAW, which interferes with the pleasures of other men. You are
right in saying violence would be a capital crime. Now the difference
between vice and crime is this: Vice is what parsons write sermons
against, Crime is what we make laws against. I never committed a crime in
all my life,--at an age between fifty and sixty--I am not going to begin.
Vices are safe things; I may have my vices like other men: but crimes are
dangerous things--illegal things--things to be carefully avoided. Look
you" (and here the speaker, fixing his puzzled listener with his eye,
broke into a grin of sublime mockery), "let me suppose you to be the
World--that cringing valet of valets, the WORLD! I should say to you
this, 'My dear World, you and I understand each other well,--we are made
for each other,--I never come in your way, nor you in mine. If I get
drunk every day in my own room, that's vice, you can't touch me; if I
take an extra glass for the first time in my life, and knock down the
watchman, that's a crime which, if I am rich, costs me one pound--perhaps
five pounds; if I am poor, sends me to the treadmill. If I break the
hearts of five hundred old fathers, by buying with gold or flattery the
embraces of five hundred young daughters, that's vice,--your servant, Mr.
World! If one termagant wench scratches my face, makes a noise, and goes
brazen-faced to the Old Bailey to swear to her shame, why that's crime,
and my friend, Mr. World, pulls a hemp-rope out of his pocket.' Now, do
you understand? Yes, I repeat," he added, with a change of voice, "I
never committed a crime in my life,--I have never even been accused of
one,--never had an action of crim. con.--of seduction against me. I know
how to manage such matters better. I was forced to carry off this girl,
because I had no other means of courting her. To court her is all I mean
to do now. I am perfectly aware that an action for violence, as you call
it, would be the more disagreeable, because of the very weakness of
intellect which the girl is said to possess, and of which report I don't
believe a word. I shall most certainly avoid even the remotest appearance
that could be so construed. It is for that reason that no one in the
house shall attend the girl except yourself and your niece. Your niece I
can depend on, I know; I have been kind to her; I have got her a good
husband; I shall get her husband a good place;--I shall be godfather to
her first child. To be sure, the other servants will know there's a lady
in the house, but to that they are accustomed; I don't set up for a
Joseph. They need know no more, unless you choose to blab it out. Well,
then, supposing that at the end of a few days, more or less, without any
rudeness on my part, a young woman, after seeing a few jewels, and fine
dresses, and a pretty house, and being made very comfortable, and being
convinced that her grandfather shall be taken care of without her slaving
herself to death, chooses of her own accord to live with me, where's the
crime, and who can interfere with it?"

"Certainly, my lord, that alters the case," said Dykeman, considerably
relieved. "But still," he added, anxiously, "if the inquiry is made,--if
before all this is settled, it is found out where she is?"

"Why then no harm will be done--no violence will be committed. Her
grandfather,--drivelling and a miser, you say--can be appeased by a
little money, and it will be nobody's business, and no case can be made
of it. Tush! man! I always look before I leap! People in this world are
not so charitable as you suppose. What more natural than that a poor and
pretty girl--not as wise as Queen Elizabeth--should be tempted to pay a
visit to a rich lover!

"All they can say of the lover is, that he is a very gay man or a very
bad man, and that's saying nothing new of me. But don't think it will be
found out. Just get me that stool; this has been a very troublesome piece
of business--rather tried me. I am not so young as I was. Yes, Dykeman,
something which that Frenchman Vaudemont, or Vautrien, or whatever his
name is, said to me once, has a certain degree of truth. I felt it in the
last fit of the gout, when my pretty niece was smoothing my pillows. A
nurse, as we grow older, may be of use to one. I wish to make this girl
like me, or be grateful to me. I am meditating a longer and more serious
attachment than usual,--a companion!"

"A companion, my lord, in that poor creature!--so ignorant--so
uneducated!"

"So much the better. This world palls upon me," said Lilburne, almost
gloomily. "I grow sick of the miserable quackeries--of the piteous
conceits that men, women, and children call 'knowledge,' I wish to catch
a glimpse of nature before I die. This creature interests me, and that is
something in this life. Clear those things away, and leave me."

"Ay!" muttered Lilburne, as he bent over the fire alone, "when I first
heard that that girl was the granddaughter of Simon Gawtrey, and,
therefore, the child of the man whom I am to thank that I am a cripple, I
felt as if love to her were a part of that hate which I owe to him; a
segment in the circle of my vengeance. But now, poor child!

"I forget all this. I feel for her, not passion, but what I never felt
before, affection. I feel that if I had such a child, I could understand
what men mean when they talk of the tenderness of a father. I have not
one impure thought for that girl--not one. But I would give thousands if
she could love me. Strange! strange! in all this I do not recognise
myself!"

Lord Lilburne retired to rest betimes that night; he slept sound; rose
refreshed at an earlier hour than usual; and what he considered a fit of
vapours of the previous night was passed away. He looked with eagerness
to an interview with Fanny. Proud of his intellect, pleased in any of
those sinister exercises of it which the code and habits of his life so
long permitted to him, he regarded the conquest of his fair adversary
with the interest of a scientific game. Harriet went to Fanny's room to
prepare her to receive her host; and Lord Lilburne now resolved to make
his own visit the less unwelcome by reserving for his especial gift some
showy, if not valuable, trinkets, which for similar purposes never failed
the depositories of the villa he had purchased for his pleasures. He,
recollected that these gewgaws were placed in the bureau in the study; in
which, as having a lock of foreign and intricate workmanship, he usually
kept whatever might tempt cupidity in those frequent absences when the
house was left guarded but by two women servants. Finding that Fanny had
not yet quitted her own chamber, while Harriet went up to attend and
reason with her, he himself limped into the study below, unlocked the
bureau, and was searching in the drawers, when he heard the voice of
Fanny above, raised a little as if in remonstrance or entreaty; and he
paused to listen. He could not, however, distinguish what was said; and
in the meanwhile, without attending much to what he was about, his bands
were still employed in opening and shutting the drawers, passing through
the pigeon-holes, and feeling for a topaz brooch, which he thought could
not fail of pleasing the unsophisticated eyes of Fanny. One of the
recesses was deeper than the rest; he fancied the brooch was there; he
stretched his hand into the recess; and, as the room was partially
darkened by the lower shutters from without, which were still unclosed to
prevent any attempted escape of his captive, he had only the sense of
touch to depend on; not finding the brooch, he stretched on till he came
to the extremity of the recess, and was suddenly sensible of a sharp
pain; the flesh seemed caught as in a trap; he drew back his finger with
sudden force and a half-suppressed exclamation, and he perceived the
bottom or floor of the pigeon-hole recede, as if sliding back. His
curiosity was aroused; he again felt warily and cautiously, and
discovered a very slight inequality and roughness at the extremity of the
recess. He was aware instantly that there was some secret spring; he
pressed with some force on the spot, and he felt the board give way; he
pushed it back towards him, and it slid suddenly with a whirring noise,
and left a cavity below exposed to his sight. He peered in, and drew
forth a paper; he opened it at first carelessly, for he was still trying
to listen to Fanny. His eye ran rapidly over a few preliminary lines till
it rested on what follows:

"Marriage. The year 18--

"No. 83, page 21.

"Philip Beaufort, of this parish of A-----, and Catherine Morton, of the
parish of St. Botolph, Aldgate, London, were married in this church by
banns, this 12th day of November, in the year one thousand eight hundred
and ----' by me,
                   "CALEB PRICE, Vicar.

"This marriage was solemnised between us,
                   "PHILIP BEAUFORT.
                   "CATHERINE MORTON.

"In the presence of
                   "DAVID APREECE.
                   "WILLIAM SMITH.

"The above is a true copy taken from the registry of marriages, in
A-----parish, this 19th day of March, 18--, by me,
                "MORGAN JONES, Curate of C-------."

   [This is according to the form customary at the date at which the
   copy was made. There has since been an alteration.]

Lord Lilburne again cast his eye over the lines prefixed to this
startling document, which, being those written at Caleb's desire, by Mr.
Jones to Philip Beaufort, we need not here transcribe to the reader. At
that instant Harriet descended the stairs, and came into the room; she
crept up on tiptoe to Lilburne, and whispered,--

"She is coming down, I think; she does not know you are here."

"Very well--go!" said Lord Lilburne. And scarce had Harriet left the
room, when a carriage drove furiously to the door, and Robert Beaufort
rushed into the study.




CHAPTER XIV.

   "Gone, and none know it.

   How now?--What news, what hopes and steps discovered!"
   BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER: The Pilgrim.

When Philip arrived at his lodgings in town it was very late, but he
still found Liancourt waiting the chance of his arrival. The Frenchman
was full of his own schemes and projects. He was a man of high repute and
connections; negotiations for his recall to Paris had been entered into;
he was divided between a Quixotic loyalty and a rational prudence; he
brought his doubts to Vaudemont. Occupied as he was with thoughts of so
important and personal a nature, Philip could yet listen patiently to his
friend, and weigh with him the pros and cons. And after having mutually
agreed that loyalty and prudence would both be best consulted by waiting
a little, to see if the nation, as the Carlists yet fondly trusted, would
soon, after its first fever, offer once more the throne and the purple to
the descendant of St. Louis, Liancourt, as he lighted his cigar to walk
home, said, "A thousand thanks to you, my dear friend: and how have you
enjoyed yourself in your visit? I am not surprised or jealous that
Lilburne did not invite me, as I do not play at cards, and as I have said
some sharp things to him!"

"I fancy I shall have the same disqualifications for another invitation,"
said Vaudemont, with a severe smile. "I may have much to disclose to you
in a few days. At present my news is still unripe. And have you seen
anything of Lilburne? He left us some days since. Is he in London?"

"Yes; I was riding with our friend Henri, who wished to try a new horse
off the stones, a little way into the country yesterday. We went through
------and H----. Pretty places, those. Do you know them?"

"Yes; I know H----."

"And just at dusk, as we were spurring back to town, whom should I see
walking on the path of the high-road but Lord Lilburne himself! I could
hardly believe my eyes. I stopped, and, after asking him about you, I
could not help expressing my surprise to see him on foot at such a place.
You know the man's sneer. 'A Frenchman so gallant as Monsieur de
Liancourt,' said he, 'need not be surprised at much greater miracles; the
iron moves to the magnet: I have a little adventure here. Pardon me if I
ask you to ride on.' Of course I wished him good day; and a little
farther up the road I saw a dark plain chariot, no coronet, no arms, no
footman only the man on the box, but the beauty of the horses assured me
it must belong to Lilburne. Can you conceive such absurdity in a man of
that age--and a very clever fellow too? Yet, how is it that one does not
ridicule it in Lilburne, as one would in another man between fifty and
sixty?"

"Because one does not ridicule,--one loathes-him."

"No; that's not it. The fact is that one can't fancy Lilburne old. His
manner is young--his eye is young. I never saw any one with so much
vitality. 'The bad heart and the good digestion'--the twin secrets for
wearing well, eh!"

"Where did you meet him--not near H----?"

"Yes; close by. Why? Have you any adventure there too? Nay, forgive me;
it was but a jest. Good night!"

Vaudemont fell into an uneasy reverie: he could not divine exactly why he
should be alarmed; but he was alarmed at Lilburne being in the
neighbourhood of H----. It was the foot of the profane violating the
sanctuary. An undefined thrill shot through him, as his mind coupled
together the associations of Lilburne and Fanny; but there was no ground
for forebodings. Fanny did not stir out alone. An adventure, too--pooh!
Lord Lilburne must be awaiting a willing and voluntary appointment, most
probably from some one of the fair but decorous frailties of London. Lord
Lilburne's more recent conquests were said to be among those of his own
rank; suburbs are useful for such assignations. Any other thought was too
horrible to be contemplated. He glanced to the clock; it was three in the
morning. He would go to H---- early, even before he sought out Mr.
William Smith. With that resolution, and even his hardy frame worn out by
the excitement of the day, he threw himself on his bed and fell asleep.

He did not wake till near nine, and had just dressed, and hurried over
his abstemious breakfast, when the servant of the house came to tell him
that an old woman, apparently in great agitation, wished to see him. His
head was still full of witnesses and lawsuits; and he was vaguely
expecting some visitor connected with his primary objects, when Sarah
broke into the room. She cast a hurried, suspicious look round her, and
then throwing herself on her knees to him, "Oh!" she cried, "if you have
taken that poor young thing away, God forgive you. Let her come back
again. It shall be all hushed up. Don't ruin her! don't, that's a dear
good gentleman!"

"Speak plainly, woman--what do you mean?" cried Philip, turning pale.

A very few words sufficed for an explanation: Fanny's disappearance the
previous night; the alarm of Sarah at her non-return; the apathy of old
Simon, who did not comprehend what had happened, and quietly went to bed;
the search Sarah had made during half the night; the intelligence she had
picked up, that the policeman, going his rounds, had heard a female
shriek near the school; but that all he could perceive through the mist
was a carriage driving rapidly past him; Sarah's suspicions of Vaudemont
confirmed in the morning, when, entering Fanny's room, she perceived the
poor girl's unfinished letter with his own, the clue to his address that
the letter gave her; all this, ere she well understood what she herself
was talking about,--Vaudemont's alarm seized, and the reflection of a
moment construed: the carriage; Lilburne seen lurking in the
neighbourhood the previous day; the former attempt;--all flashed on him
with an intolerable glare. While Sarah was yet speaking, he rushed from
the house, he flew to Lord Lilburne's in Park Lane; he composed his
manner, he inquired calmly. His lordship had slept from home; he was,
they believed, at Fernside: Fernside! H---- was on the direct way to that
villa. Scarcely ten minutes had elapsed since he heard the story ere he
was on the road, with such speed as the promise of a guinea a mile could
extract from the spurs of a young post-boy applied to the flanks of
London post-horses.




CHAPTER XV.

          "Ex humili magna ad fastigia rerum
          Extollit."--JUVENAL.

        [Fortune raises men from low estate to the very
        summit of prosperity.]

When Harriet had quitted Fanny, the waiting-woman, craftily wishing to
lure her into Lilburne's presence, had told her that the room below was
empty; and the captive's mind naturally and instantly seized on the
thought of escape. After a brief breathing pause, she crept noiselessly
down the stairs, and gently opened the door; and at the very instant she
did so, Robert Beaufort entered from the other door; she drew back in
terror, when, what was her astonishment in hearing a name uttered that
spell-bound her--the last name she could have expected to hear; for
Lilburne, the instant he saw Beaufort, pale, haggard, agitated, rush into
the room, and bang the door after him, could only suppose that something
of extraordinary moment had occurred with regard to the dreaded guest,
and cried:

"You come about Vaudemont! Something has happened about Vaudemont! about
Philip! What is it? Calm yourself."

Fanny, as the name was thus abruptly uttered, actually thrust her face
through the door; but she again drew back, and, all her senses
preternaturally quickened at that name, while she held the door almost
closed, listened with her whole soul in her ears.

The faces of both the men were turned from her, and her partial entry had
not been perceived.

"Yes," said Robert Beaufort, leaning his weight, as if ready to sink to
the ground, upon Lilburne's shoulder, "Yes; Vaudemont, or Philip, for
they are one,--yes, it is about that man I have come to consult you.
Arthur has arrived."

"Well?"

"And Arthur has seen the wretch who visited us, and the rascal's manner
has so imposed on him, so convinced him that Philip is the heir to all
our property, that he has come over-ill, ill--I fear" (added Beaufort, in
a hollow voice), "dying, to--to--"

"To guard against their machinations?"

"No, no, no--to say that if such be the case, neither honour nor
conscience will allow us to resist his rights. He is so obstinate in this
matter; his nerves so ill bear reasoning and contradiction, that I know
not what to do--"

"Take breath-go on."

"Well, it seems that this man found out Arthur almost as soon as my son
arrived at Paris--that he has persuaded Arthur that he has it in his
power to prove the marriage--that he pretended to be very impatient for a
decision--that Arthur, in order to gain time to see me, affected
irresolution--took him to Boulogne, for the rascal does not dare to
return to England--left him there; and now comes back, my own son, as my
worst enemy, to conspire against me for my property! I could not have
kept my temper if I had stayed. But that's not all--that's not the worst:
Vaudemont left me suddenly in the morning on the receipt of a letter. In
taking leave of Camilla he let fall hints which fill me with fear. Well,
I inquired his movements as I came along; he had stopped at D----, had
been closeted for above an hour with a man whose name the landlord of the
inn knew, for it was on his carpet-bag--the name was Barlow. You remember
the advertisements! Good Heavens! what is to be done? I would not do
anything unhandsome or dishonest. But there never was a marriage. I never
will believe there was a marriage--never!"

"There was a marriage, Robert Beaufort," said Lord Lilburne, almost
enjoying the torture he was about to inflict; "and I hold here a paper
that Philip Vaudemont--for so we will yet call him--would give his right
hand to clutch for a moment. I have but just found it in a secret cavity
in that bureau. Robert, on this paper may depend the fate, the fortune,
the prosperity, the greatness of Philip Vaudemont;--or his poverty, his
exile, his ruin. See!"

Robert Beaufort glanced over the paper held out to him--dropped it on the
floor--and staggered to a seat. Lilburne coolly replaced the document in
the bureau, and, limping to his brother-in-law, said with a smile,--

"But the paper is in my possession--I will not destroy it. No; I have no
right to destroy it. Besides, it would be a crime; but if I give it to
you, you can do with it as you please."

"O Lilburne, spare me--spare me. I meant to be an honest man. I--I--" And
Robert Beaufort sobbed. Lilburne looked at him in scornful surprise.

"Do not fear that I shall ever think worse of you; and who else will know
it? Do not fear me. No;--I, too, have reasons to hate and to fear this
Philip Vaudemont; for Vaudemont shall be his name, and not Beaufort, in
spite of fifty such scraps of paper! He has known a man--my worst foe--he
has secrets of mine--of my past-perhaps of my present: but I laugh at his
knowledge while he is a wandering adventurer;--I should tremble at that
knowledge if he could thunder it out to the world as Philip Beaufort of
Beaufort Court! There, I am candid with you. Now hear my plan. Prove to
Arthur that his visitor is a convicted felon, by sending the officers of
justice after him instantly--off with him again to the Settlements. Defy
a single witness--entrap Vaudemont back to France and prove him (I think
I will prove him such--I think so--with a little money and a little
pains)--prove him the accomplice of William Gawtrey, a coiner and a
murderer! Pshaw! take yon paper. Do with it as you will--keep it-give it
to Arthur--let Philip Vaudemont have it, and Philip Vaudemont will be
rich and great, the happiest man between earth and paradise! On the other
hand, come and tell me that you have lost it, or that I never gave you
such a paper, or that no such paper ever existed; and Philip Vaudemont
may live a pauper, and die, perhaps, a slave at the galleys! Lose it, I
say,--lose it,--and advise with me upon the rest."

Horror-struck, bewildered, the weak man gazed upon the calm face of the
Master-villain, as the scholar of the old fables might have gazed on the
fiend who put before him worldly prosperity here and the loss of his soul
hereafter. He had never hitherto regarded Lilburne in his true light. He
was appalled by the black heart that lay bare before him.

"I can't destroy it--I can't," he faltered out; "and if I did, out of
love for Arthur,--don't talk of galleys,--of vengeance--I--I--"

"The arrears of the rents you have enjoyed will send you to gaol for your
life. No, no; don't destroy the paper."

Beaufort rose with a desperate effort; he moved to the bureau. Fanny's
heart was on her lips;--of this long conference she had understood only
the one broad point on which Lilburne had insisted with an emphasis that
could have enlightened an infant; and he looked on Beaufort as an infant
then--On that paper rested Philip Vaudemont's fate--happiness if saved,
ruin if destroyed; Philip--her Philip! And Philip himself had said to her
once--when had she ever forgotten his words? and now how those words
flashed across her--Philip himself had said to her once, "Upon a scrap of
paper, if I could but find it, may depend my whole fortune, my whole
happiness, all that I care for in life."--Robert Beaufort moved to the
bureau--he seized the document--he looked over it again, hurriedly, and
ere Lilburne, who by no means wished to have it destroyed in his own
presence, was aware of his intention--he hastened with tottering steps to
the hearth-averted his eyes, and cast it on the fire. At that instant
something white--he scarce knew what, it seemed to him as a spirit, as a
ghost--darted by him, and snatched the paper, as yet uninjured, from the
embers! There was a pause for the hundredth part of a moment:--a gurgling
sound of astonishment and horror from Beaufort--an exclamation from
Lilburne--a laugh from Fanny, as, her eyes flashing light, with a proud
dilation of stature, with the paper clasped tightly to her bosom, she
turned her looks of triumph from one to the other. The two men were both
too amazed, at the instant, for rapid measures. But Lilburne, recovering
himself first, hastened to her; she eluded his grasp--she made towards
the door to the passage; when Lilburne, seriously alarmed, seized her
arm;--

"Foolish child!--give me that paper!"

"Never but with my life!" And Fanny's cry for help rang through the
house.

"Then--" the speech died on his lips, for at that instant a rapid stride
was heard without--a momentary scuffle--voices in altercation;--the door
gave way as if a battering ram had forced it;--not so much thrown forward
as actually hurled into the room, the body of Dykeman fell heavily, like
a dead man's, at the very feet of Lord Lilburne--and Philip Vaudemont
stood in the doorway!

The grasp of Lilburne on Fanny's arm relaxed, and the girl, with one
bound, sprung to Philip's breast. "Here, here!" she cried, "take it--take
it!" and she thrust the paper into his hand. "Don't let them have
it--read it--see it--never mind me!" But Philip, though his hand
unconsciously closed on the precious document, did mind Fanny; and in
that moment her cause was the only one in the world to him.

"Foul villain!" he said, as he strode to Lilburne, while Fanny still
clung to his breast: "Speak!--speak!--is--she--is she?--man--man,
speak!--you know what I would say!--She is the child of your own
daughter--the grandchild of that Mary whom you dishonoured--the child of
the woman whom William Gawtrey saved from pollution! Before he died,
Gawtrey commended her to my care!--O God of Heaven!--speak!--I am not too
late!"

The manner, the words, the face of Philip left Lilburne terror-stricken
with conviction. But the man's crafty ability, debased as it was,
triumphed even over remorse for the dread guilt meditated,--over
gratitude for the dread guilt spared. He glanced at Beaufort--at Dykeman,
who now, slowly recovering, gazed at him with eyes that seemed starting
from their sockets; and lastly fixed his look on Philip himself. There
were three witnesses--presence of mind was his great attribute.

"And if, Monsieur de Vaudemont, I knew, or, at least, had the firmest
persuasion that Fanny was my grandchild, what then? Why else should she
be here?--Pooh, sir! I am an old man."

Philip recoiled a step in wonder; his plain sense was baffled by the calm
lie. He looked down at Fanny, who, comprehending nothing of what was
spoken, for all her faculties, even her very sense of sight and hearing,
were absorbed in her impatient anxiety for him, cried out:

"No harm has come to Fanny--none: only frightened. Read!--Read!--Save
that paper!--You know what you once said about a mere scrap of paper!
Come away! Come!"

He did now cast his eyes on the paper he held. That was an awful moment
for Robert Beaufort--even for Lilburne! To snatch the fatal document from
that gripe! They would as soon have snatched it from a tiger! He lifted
his eyes--they rested on his mother's picture! Her lips smiled on him! He
turned to Beaufort in a state of emotion too exulting, too blest for
vulgar vengeance--for vulgar triumph--almost for words.

"Look yonder, Robert Beaufort--look!" and he pointed to the picture. "Her
name is spotless! I stand again beneath a roof that was my father's,--the
Heir of Beaufort! We shall meet before the justice of our country. For
you, Lord Lilburne, I will believe you: it is too horrible to doubt even
your intentions. If wrong had chanced to her, I would have rent you where
you stand, limb from limb. And thank her",--(for Lilburne recovered at
this language the daring of his youth, before calculation, indolence, and
excess had dulled the edge of his nerves; and, unawed by the height, and
manhood, and strength of his menacer, stalked haughtily up to him)--"and
thank your relationship to her," said Philip, sinking his voice into a
whisper, "that I do not brand you as a pilferer and a cheat! Hush,
knave!--hush, pupil of George Gawtrey!--there are no duels for me but
with men of honour!"

Lilburne now turned white, and the big word stuck in his throat. In
another instant Fanny and her guardian had quitted the house.

"Dykeman," said Lord Lilburne after a long silence, "I shall ask you
another time how you came to admit that impertinent person. At present,
go and order breakfast for Mr. Beaufort."

As soon as Dykeman, more astounded, perhaps, by his lord's coolness than
even by the preceding circumstances, had left the study, Lilburne came up
to Beaufort,--who seemed absolutely stricken as if by palsy,--and
touching him impatiently and rudely, said,--

"'Sdeath, man!--rouse yourself! There is not a moment to be lost! I have
already decided on what you are to do. This paper is not worth a rush,
unless the curate who examined it will depose to that fact. He is a
curate--a Welsh curate;--you are yet Mr. Beaufort, a rich and a great
man. The curate, properly managed, may depose to the contrary; and then
we will indict them all for forgery and conspiracy. At the worst, you
can, no doubt, get the parson to forget all about it--to stay away. His
address was on the certificate:

"--C-----. Go yourself into Wales without an instant's delay-- Then,
having arranged with Mr. Jones, hurry back, cross to Boulogne, and buy
this convict and his witnesses, buy them! That, now, is the only thing.
Quick! quick!--quick! Zounds, man! if it were my affair, my estate, I
would not care a pin for that fragment of paper; I should rather rejoice
at it. I see how it could be turned against them! Go!"

"No, no; I am not equal to it! Will you manage it? will you? Half my
estate!--all! Take it: but save--"

"Tut!" interrupted Lord Lilburne, in great disdain. "I am as rich as I
want to be. Money does not bribe me. I manage this! I! Lord Lilburne. I!
Why, if found out, it is subornation of witnesses. It is exposure--it is
dishonour--it is ruin. What then? You should take the risk--for you must
meet ruin if you do not. I cannot. I have nothing to gain!"

"I dare not!-I dare not!" murmured Beaufort, quite spirit-broken.
"Subornation, dishonour, exposure!--and I, so respectable--my
character!--and my son against me, too!--my son, in whom I lived again!
No, no; let them take all! Let them take it! Ha! ha! let them take it!
Good-day to you."

"Where are you going?"

"I shall consult Mr. Blackwell, and I'll let you know." And Beaufort
walked tremulously back to his carriage. "Go to his lawyer!" growled
Lilburne. "Yes, if his lawyer can help him to defraud men lawfully, he'll
defraud them fast enough. That will be the respectable way of doing it!
Um!--This may be an ugly business for me--the paper found here--if the
girl can depose to what she heard, and she must have heard
something.--No, I think the laws of real property will hardly allow her
evidence; and if they do--Um!--My granddaughter--is it possible!--And
Gawtrey rescued her mother, my child, from her own mother's vices! I
thought my liking to that girl different from any other I have ever felt:
it was pure--it was!--it was pity--affection. And I must never see her
again--must forget the whole thing! And I sin growing old--and I am
childless--and alone!" He paused, almost with a groan: and then the
expression of his face changing to rage, he cried out, "The man
threatened me, and I was a coward! What to do?--Nothing! The defensive is
my line. I shall play no more.--I attack no one. Who will accuse Lord
Lilburne? Still, Robert is a fool. I must not leave him to himself. Ho!
there! Dykeman!--the carriage! I shall go to London."

Fortunate, no doubt, it was for Philip that Mr. Beaufort was not Lord
Lilburne. For all history teaches us--public and private
history--conquerors--statesmen--sharp hypocrites and brave
designers--yes, they all teach us how mighty one man of great intellect
and no scruple is against the justice of millions! The One Man moves--the
Mass is inert. Justice sits on a throne. Roguery never rests,--Activity
is the lever of Archimedes.




CHAPTER XVI.

     "Quam inulta injusta ac prava fiunt moribus."--TULL.

     [How many unjust and vicious actions are perpetrated
     under the name of morals.]

             "Volat ambiguis
             Mobilis alis Hera."--SENECA.

         [The hour flies moving with doubtful wings.]

Mr. Robert Beaufort sought Mr. Blackwell, and long, rambling, and
disjointed was his narrative. Mr. Blackwell, after some consideration,
proposed to set about doing the very things that Lilburne had proposed at
once to do. But the lawyer expressed himself legally and covertly, so
that it did not seem to the sober sense of Mr. Beaufort at all the same
plan. He was not the least alarmed at what Mr. Blackwell proposed, though
so shocked at what Lilburne dictated. Blackwell would go the next day
into Wales--he would find out Mr. Jones--he would sound him! Nothing was
more common with people of the nicest honour, than just to get a witness
out of the way! Done in election petitions, for instance, every day.

"True," said Mr. Beaufort, much relieved.

Then, after having done that, Mr. Blackwell would return to town, and
cross over to Boulogne to see this very impudent person whom Arthur
(young men were so apt to be taken in!) had actually believed. He had no
doubt he could settle it all. Robert Beaufort returned to Berkeley Square
actually in spirits. There he found Lilburne, who, on reflection, seeing
that Blackwell was at all events more up to the business than his
brother, assented to the propriety of the arrangement.

Mr. Blackwell accordingly did set off the next day. That next day,
perhaps, made all the difference. Within two hours from his gaining the
document so important, Philip, without any subtler exertion of intellect
than the decision of a plain, bold sense, had already forestalled both
the peer and the lawyer. He had sent down Mr. Barlow's head clerk to his
master in Wales with the document, and a short account of the manner in
which it had been discovered. And fortunate, indeed, was it that the copy
had been found; for all the inquiries of Mr. Barlow at A---- had failed,
and probably would have failed, without such a clue, in fastening upon
any one probable person to have officiated as Caleb Price's amanuensis.
The sixteen hours' start Mr. Barlow gained over Blackwell enabled the
former to see Mr. Jones--to show him his own handwriting--to get a
written and witnessed attestation from which the curate, however poor,
and however tempted, could never well have escaped (even had he been
dishonest, which he was not), of his perfect recollection of the fact of
making an extract from the registry at Caleb's desire, though he owned he
had quite forgotten the names he extracted till they were again placed
before him. Barlow took care to arouse Mr. Jones's interest in the
case--quitted Wales--hastened over to Boulogne--saw Captain Smith, and
without bribes, without threats, but by plainly proving to that worthy
person that he could not return to England nor see his brother without
being immediately arrested; that his brother's evidence was already
pledged on the side of truth; and that by the acquisition of new
testimony there could be no doubt that the suit would be successful--he
diverted the captain from all disposition towards perfidy, convinced him
on which side his interest lay, and saw him return to Paris, where very
shortly afterwards he disappeared for ever from this world, being forced
into a duel, much against his will (with a Frenchman whom he had
attempted to defraud), and shot through the lungs. Thus verifying a
favourite maxim of Lord Lilburne's, viz. that it does not do, in the long
run, for little men to play the Great Game!

On the same day that Blackwell returned, frustrated in his half-and-half
attempts to corrupt Mr. Jones, and not having been able even to discover
Mr. Smith, Mr. Robert Beaufort received a notice of an Action for
Ejectment to be brought by Philip Beaufort at the next Assizes. And, to
add to his afflictions, Arthur, whom he had hitherto endeavoured to amuse
by a sort of ambiguous shilly-shally correspondence, became so alarmingly
worse, that his mother brought him up to town for advice. Lord Lilburne
was, of course, sent for; and on learning all, his counsel was prompt.

"I told you before that this man loves your daughter. See if you can
effect a compromise. The lawsuit will be ugly, and probably ruinous. He
has a right to claim six years' arrears--that is above L100,000. Make
yourself his father-in-law, and me his uncle-in-law; and, since we can't
kill the wasp, we may at least soften the venom of his sting."

Beaufort, still perplexed, irresolute, sought his son; and, for the first
time, spoke to him frankly--that is, frankly for Robert Beaufort! He
owned that the copy of the register had been found by Lilburne in a
secret drawer. He made the best of the story Lilburne himself furnished
him with (adhering, of course, to the assertion uttered or insinuated to
Philip) in regard to Fanny's abduction and interposition; he said nothing
of his attempt to destroy the paper. Why should he? By admitting the copy
in court--if so advised--he could get rid of Fanny's evidence altogether;
even without such concession, her evidence might possibly be objected to
or eluded. He confessed that he feared the witness who copied the
register and the witness to the marriage were alive. And then he talked
pathetically of his desire to do what was right, his dread of slander and
misinterpretation. He said nothing of Sidney, and his belief that Sidney
and Charles Spencer were the same; because, if his daughter were to be
the instrument for effecting a compromise, it was clear that her
engagement with Spencer must be cancelled and concealed. And luckily
Arthur's illness and Camilla's timidity, joined now to her father's
injunctions not to excite Arthur in his present state with any additional
causes of anxiety, prevented the confidence that might otherwise have
ensued between the brother and sister. And Camilla, indeed, had no heart
for such a conference. How, when she looked on Arthur's glassy eye, and
listened to his hectic cough, could she talk to him of love and marriage?
As to the automaton, Mrs. Beaufort, Robert made sure of her discretion.

Arthur listened attentively to his father's communication; and the result
of that interview was the following letter from Arthur to his cousin:

"I write to you without fear of misconstruction; for I write to you
unknown to all my family, and I am the only one of them who can have no
personal interest in the struggle about to take place between my father
and yourself. Before the law can decide between you, I shall be in my
grave. I write this from the Bed of Death. Philip, I write this--I, who
stood beside a deathbed more sacred to you than mine--I, who received
your mother's last sigh. And with that sigh there was a smile that
lasted when the sigh was gone: for I promised to befriend her children.
Heaven knows how anxiously I sought to fulfil that solemn vow! Feeble
and sick myself, I followed you and your brother with no aim, no prayer,
but this,--to embrace you and say, 'Accept a new brother in me.' I spare
you the humiliation, for it is yours, not mine, of recalling what passed
between us when at last we met. Yet, I still sought to save, at least,
Sidney,--more especially confided to my care by his dying mother. He
mysteriously eluded our search; but we had reason, by a letter received
from some unknown hand, to believe him saved and provided for. Again I
met you at Paris. I saw you were poor. Judging from your associate, I
might with justice think you depraved. Mindful of your declaration never
to accept bounty from a Beaufort, and remembering with natural resentment
the outrage I had before received from you, I judged it vain to seek and
remonstrate with you, but I did not judge it vain to aid. I sent you,
anonymously, what at least would suffice, if absolute poverty had
subjected you to evil courses, to rescue you from them it your heart were
so disposed. Perhaps that sum, trifling as it was, may have smoothed
your path and assisted your career. And why tell you all this now? To
dissuade from asserting rights you conceive to be just?--Heaven forbid!
If justice is with you, so also is the duty due to your mother's name.
But simply for this: that in asserting such rights, you content yourself
with justice, not revenge--that in righting yourself, you do not wrong
others. If the law should decide for you, the arrears you could demand
would leave my father and sister beggars. This may be law--it would not
be justice; for my father solemnly believed himself, and had every
apparent probability in his favour, the true heir of the wealth that
devolved upon him. This is not all. There may be circumstances
connected with the discovery of a certain document that, if authentic,
and I do not presume to question it, may decide the contest so far as it
rests on truth; circumstances which might seem to bear hard upon my
father's good name and faith. I do not know sufficiently of law to say
how far these could be publicly urged, or, if urged, exaggerated and
tortured by an advocate's calumnious ingenuity. But again, I say
justice, and not revenge! And with this I conclude, inclosing to you
these lines, written in your own hand, and leaving you the arbiter of
their value.
             "ARTHUR BEAUFORT."

The lines inclosed were these, a second time placed before the reader

   "I cannot guess who you are. They say that you call yourself a
   relation; that must be some mistake. I knew not that my poor mother
   had relations so kind. But, whoever you be, you soothed her last
   hours--she died in your arms; and if ever-years, long years, hence--
   we should chance to meet, and I can do anything to aid another, my
   blood, and my life, and my heart, and my soul, all are slaves to
   your will! If you be really of her kindred I commend to you my
   brother; he is at ---- with Mr. Morton. If you can serve him, my
   mother's soul will watch over you as a guardian angel. As for me, I
   ask no help from any one; I go into the world, and will carve out my
   own way. So much do I shrink from the thought of charity from
   others, that I do not believe I could bless you as I do now, if your
   kindness to me did not close with the stone upon my mother's grave.
                       PHILIP."

This letter was sent to the only address of Monsieur de Vaudemont which
the Beauforts knew, viz., his apartments in town, and he did not receive
it the day it was sent.

Meanwhile Arthur Beaufort's malady continued to gain ground rapidly. His
father, absorbed in his own more selfish fears (though, at the first
sight of Arthur, overcome by the alteration of his appearance), had
ceased to consider his illness fatal. In fact, his affection for Arthur
was rather one of pride than love: long absence had weakened the ties of
early custom. He prized him as an heir rather than treasured him as a
son. It almost seemed that as the Heritage was in danger, so the Heir
became less dear: this was only because he was less thought of. Poor Mrs.
Beaufort, yet but partially acquainted with the terrors of her husband,
still clung to hope for Arthur. Her affection for him brought out from
the depths of her cold and insignificant character qualities that had
never before been apparent. She watched--she nursed--she tended him. The
fine lady was gone; nothing but the mother was left behind.

With a delicate constitution, and with an easy temper, which yielded to
the influence of companions inferior to himself, except in bodily vigour
and more sturdy will, Arthur Beaufort had been ruined by prosperity. His
talents and acquirements, if not first-rate, at least far above
mediocrity, had only served to refine his tastes, not to strengthen his
mind. His amiable impulses, his charming disposition and sweet temper,
had only served to make him the dupe of the parasites that feasted on the
lavish heir. His heart, frittered away in the usual round of light
intrigues and hollow pleasures, had become too sated and exhausted for
the redeeming blessings of a deep and a noble love. He had so lived for
Pleasure that he had never known Happiness. His frame broke by excesses
in which his better nature never took delight, he came home--to hear of
ruin and to die!

It was evening in the sick-room. Arthur had risen from the bed to which,
for some days, he had voluntarily taken, and was stretched on the sofa
before the fire. Camilla was leaning over him, keeping in the shade, that
he might not see the tears which she could not suppress. His mother had
been endeavouring to amuse him, as she would have amused herself, by
reading aloud one of the light novels of the hour; novels that paint the
life of the higher classes as one gorgeous holyday.

"My dear mother," said the patient querulously, "I have no interest in
these false descriptions of the life I have led. I know that life's
worth. Ah! had I been trained to some employment, some profession! had
I--well--it is weak to repine. Mother, tell me, you have seen Mons. de
Vaudemont: is he strong and healthy?"

"Yes; too much so. He has not your elegance, dear Arthur."

"And do you admire him, Camilla? Has no other caught your heart or your
fancy?"

"My dear Arthur," interrupted Mrs. Beaufort, "you forget that Camilla is
scarcely out; and of course a young girl's affections, if she's well
brought up, are regulated by the experience of her parents. It is time to
take the medicine: it certainly agrees with you; you have more colour
to-day, my dear, dear son."

While Mrs. Beaufort was pouring out the medicine, the door gently opened,
and Mr. Robert Beaufort appeared; behind him there rose a taller and a
statelier form, but one which seemed more bent, more humbled, more
agitated. Beaufort advanced. Camilla looked up and turned pale. The
visitor escaped from Mr. Beaufort's grasp on his arm; he came forward,
trembling, he fell on his knees beside Arthur, and seizing his hand, bent
over, it in silence. But silence so stormy! silence more impressive than
all words his breast heaved, his whole frame shook. Arthur guessed at
once whom he saw, and bent down gently as if to raise his visitor.

"Oh! Arthur! Arthur!" then cried Philip; "forgive me! My mother's
comforter--my cousin--my brother! Oh! brother, forgive me!"

And as he half rose, Arthur stretched out his arms, and Philip clasped
him to his breast.

It is in vain to describe the different feelings that agitated those who
beheld; the selfish congratulations of Robert, mingled with a better and
purer feeling; the stupor of the mother; the emotions that she herself
could not unravel, which rooted Camilla to the spot.

"You own me, then,--you own me!" cried Philip. "You accept the
brotherhood that my mad passions once rejected! And you, too--you,
Camilla--you who once knelt by my side, under this very roof--do you
remember me now? Oh, Arthur! that letter--that letter!--yes, indeed, that
aid which I ascribed to any one--rather than to you--made the date of a
fairer fortune. I may have owed to that aid the very fate that has
preserved me till now; the very name which I have not discredited. No,
no; do not think you can ask me a favour; you can but claim your due.
Brother! my dear brother!"




CHAPTER XVII.

   "Warwick.--Exceeding well! his cares are now all over."
   --Henry IV.

The excitement of this interview soon overpowering Arthur, Philip, in
quitting the room with Mr. Beaufort, asked a conference with that
gentleman; and they went into the very parlour from which the rich man
had once threatened to expel the haggard suppliant. Philip glanced round
the room, and the whole scene came again before him. After a pause, he
thus began,--

"Mr. Beaufort, let the Past be forgotten. We may have need of mutual
forgiveness, and I, who have so wronged your noble son, am willing to
suppose that I misjudged you. I cannot, it is true, forego this lawsuit."

Mr. Beaufort's face fell.

"I have no right to do so. I am the trustee of my father's honour and my
mother's name: I must vindicate both: I cannot forego this lawsuit. But
when I once bowed myself to enter your house--then only with a hope,
where now I have the certainty of obtaining my heritage--it was with the
resolve to bury in oblivion every sentiment that would transgress the
most temperate justice. Now, I will do more. If the law decide against
me, we are as we were; if with me--listen: I will leave you the lands of
Beaufort, for your life and your son's. I ask but for me and for mine
such a deduction from your wealth as will enable me, should my brother be
yet living, to provide for him; and (if you approve the choice, which out
of all earth I would desire to make) to give whatever belongs to more
refined or graceful existence than I myself care for,--to her whom I
would call my wife. Robert Beaufort, in this room I once asked you to
restore to me the only being I then loved: I am now again your suppliant;
and this time you have it in your power to grant my prayer. Let Arthur
be, in truth, my brother: give me, if I prove myself, as I feel assured,
entitled to hold the name my father bore, give me your daughter as my
wife; give me Camilla, and I will not envy you the lands I am willing for
myself to resign; and if they pass to any children, those children will
be your daughter's!"

The first impulse of Mr. Beaufort was to grasp the hand held out to him;
to pour forth an incoherent torrent of praise and protestation, of
assurances that he could not hear of such generosity, that what was right
was right, that he should be proud of such a son-in-law, and much more in
the same key. And in the midst of this, it suddenly occurred to Mr.
Beaufort, that if Philip's case were really as good as he said it was, he
could not talk so coolly of resigning the property it would secure him
for the term of a life (Mr. Beaufort thought of his own) so uncommonly
good, to say nothing of Arthur's. At this notion, he thought it best not
to commit himself too far; drew in as artfully as he could, until he
could consult Lord Lilburne and his lawyer; and recollecting also that he
had a great deal to manage with respect to Camilla and her prior
attachment, he began to talk of his distress for Arthur, of the necessity
of waiting a little before Camilla was spoken to, while so agitated about
her brother, of the exceedingly strong case which his lawyer advised him
he possessed--not but what he would rather rest the matter on justice
than law--and that if the law should be with him, he would not the less
(provided he did not force his daughter's inclinations, of which, indeed,
he had no fear) be most happy to bestow her hand on his brother's nephew,
with such a portion as would be most handsome to all parties.

It often happens to us in this world, that when we come with our heart in
our hands to some person or other,--when we pour out some generous burst
of feeling so enthusiastic and self-sacrificing, that a bystander would
call us fool and Quixote;--it often, I say, happens to us, to find our
warm self suddenly thrown back upon our cold self; to discover that we
are utterly uncomprehended, and that the swine who would have munched up
the acorn does not know what to make of the pearl. That sudden ice which
then freezes over us, that supreme disgust and despair almost of the
whole world, which for the moment we confound with the one
worldling--they who have felt, may reasonably ascribe to Philip. He
listened to Mr. Beaufort in utter and contemptuous silence, and then
replied only,--

"Sir, at all events this is a question for law to decide. If it decide as
you think, it is for you to act; if as I think, it is for me. Till then I
will speak to you no more of your daughter, or my intentions. Meanwhile,
all I ask is the liberty to visit your son. I would not be banished from
his sick-room!"

"My dear nephew!" cried Mr. Beaufort, again alarmed, "consider this house
as your home."

Philip bowed and retreated to the door, followed obsequiously by his
uncle.

It chanced that both Lord Lilburne and Mr. Blackwell were of the same
mind as to the course advisable for Mr. Beaufort now to pursue. Lord
Lilburne was not only anxious to exchange a hostile litigation for an
amicable lawsuit, but he was really eager to put the seal of relationship
upon any secret with regard to himself that a man who might inherit
L20,000. a year--a dead shot, and a bold tongue--might think fit to
disclose. This made him more earnest than he otherwise might have been in
advice as to other people's affairs. He spoke to Beaufort as a man of the
world--to Blackwell as a lawyer.

"Pin the man down to his generosity," said Lilburne, "before he gets the
property. Possession makes a great change in a man's value of money.
After all, you can't enjoy the property when you're dead: he gives it
next to Arthur, who is not married; and if anything happen to Arthur,
poor fellow, why, in devolving on your daughter's husband and children,
it goes in the right line. Pin him down at once: get credit with the
world for the most noble and disinterested conduct, by letting your
counsel state that the instant you discovered the lost document you
wished to throw no obstacle in the way of proving the marriage, and that
the only thing to consider is, if the marriage be proved; if so, you will
be the first to rejoice, &c. &c. You know all that sort of humbug as well
as any man!"

Mr. Blackwell suggested the same advice, though in different words--after
taking the opinions of three eminent members of the bar; those opinions,
indeed, were not all alike--one was adverse to Mr. Robert Beaufort's
chance of success, one was doubtful of it, the third maintained that he
had nothing to fear from the action--except, possibly, the ill-natured
construction of the world. Mr. Robert Beaufort disliked the idea of the
world's ill-nature, almost as much as he did that of losing his property.
And when even this last and more encouraging authority, learning
privately from Mr. Blackwell that Arthur's illness was of a nature to
terminate fatally, observed, "that a compromise with a claimant, who was
at all events Mr. Beaufort's nephew, by which Mr. Beaufort could secure
the enjoyment of the estates to himself for life, and to his son for life
also, should not (whatever his probabilities of legal success) be hastily
rejected--unless he had a peculiar affection for a very distant
relation--who, failing Mr. Beaufort's male issue and Philip's claim,
would be heir-at-law, but whose rights would cease if Arthur liked to cut
off the entail,"

Mr. Beaufort at once decided. He had a personal dislike to that distant
heir-at-law; he had a strong desire to retain the esteem of the world; he
had an innate conviction of the justice of Philip's claim; he had a
remorseful recollection of his brother's generous kindness to himself; he
preferred to have for his heir, in case of Arthur's decease, a nephew who
would marry his daughter, than a remote kinsman. And should, after all,
the lawsuit fail to prove Philip's right, he was not sorry to have the
estate in his own power by Arthur's act in cutting off the entail. Brief;
all these reasons decided him. He saw Philip--he spoke to Arthur--and all
the preliminaries, as suggested above, were arranged between the parties.
The entail was cut off, and Arthur secretly prevailed upon his father, to
whom, for the present, the fee-simple thus belonged, to make a will, by
which he bequeathed the estates to Philip, without reference to the
question of his legitimacy. Mr. Beaufort felt his conscience greatly
eased after this action--which, too, he could always retract if he
pleased; and henceforth the lawsuit became but a matter of form, so far
as the property it involved was concerned.

While these negotiations went on, Arthur continued gradually to decline.
Philip was with him always. The sufferer took a strange liking to this
long-dreaded relation, this man of iron frame and thews. In Philip there
was so much of life, that Arthur almost felt as if in his presence itself
there was an antagonism to death. And Camilla saw thus her cousin, day by
day, hour by hour, in that sick chamber, lending himself, with the gentle
tenderness of a woman, to soften the pang, to arouse the weariness, to
cheer the dejection. Philip never spoke to her of love: in such a scene
that had been impossible. She overcame in their mutual cares the
embarrassment she had before felt in his presence; whatever her other
feelings, she could not, at least, but be grateful to one so tender to
her brother. Three letters of Charles Spencer's had been, in the
afflictions of the house, only answered by a brief line. She now took the
occasion of a momentary and delusive amelioration in Arthur's disease to
write to him more at length. She was carrying, as usual, the letter to
her mother, when Mr. Beaufort met her, and took the letter from her hand.
He looked embarrassed for a moment, and bade her follow him into his
study. It was then that Camilla learned, for the first time, distinctly,
the claims and rights of her cousin; then she learned also at what price
those rights were to be enforced with the least possible injury to her
father. Mr. Beaufort naturally put the case before her in the strongest
point of the dilemma. He was to be ruined--utterly ruined; a pauper, a
beggar, if Camilla did not save him. The master of his fate demanded his
daughter's hand. Habitually subservient to even a whim of her parents,
this intelligence, the entreaty, the command with which it was
accompanied, overwhelmed her. She answered but by tears; and Mr.
Beaufort, assured of her submission, left her, to consider of the tone of
the letter he himself should write to Mr. Spencer. He had sat down to
this very task when he was summoned to Arthur's room. His son was
suddenly taken worse: spasms that threatened immediate danger convulsed
and exhausted him, and when these were allayed, he continued for three
days so feeble that Mr. Beaufort, his eyes now thoroughly opened to the
loss that awaited him, had no thoughts even for worldly interests.

On the night of the third day, Philip, Robert Beaufort, his wife, his
daughter, were grouped round the death-bed of Arthur. The sufferer had
just wakened from sleep, and he motioned to Philip to raise him. Mr.
Beaufort started, as by the dim light he saw his son in the arms of
Catherine's! and another Chamber of Death seemed, shadow-like, to replace
the one before him. Words, long since uttered, knelled in his ear: "There
shall be a death-bed yet beside which you shall see the spectre of her,
now so calm, rising for retribution from the grave!" His blood froze, his
hair stood erect; he cast a hurried, shrinking glance round the twilight
of the darkened room: and with a feeble cry covered his white face with
his trembling hands! But on Arthur's lips there was a serene smile; he
turned his eyes from Philip to Camilla, and murmured, "She will repay
you!" A pause, and the mother's shriek rang through the room! Robert
Beaufort raised his face from his hands. His son was dead!




CHAPTER XVIII.

        "Jul. And what reward do you propose?

        It must be my love."--The Double Marriage.

While these events, dark, hurried, and stormy, had befallen the family of
his betrothed, Sidney lead continued his calm life by the banks of the
lovely lake. After a few weeks, his confidence in Camilla's fidelity
overbore all his apprehensions and forebodings. Her letters, though
constrained by the inspection to which they were submitted, gave him
inexpressible consolation and delight. He began, however, early to fancy
that there was a change in their tone. The letters seemed to shun the one
subject to which all others were as nought; they turned rather upon the
guests assembled at Beaufort Court; and why I know not,--for there was
nothing in them to authorise jealousy--the brief words devoted to
Monsieur de Vaudemont filled him with uneasy and terrible suspicion. He
gave vent to these feelings, as fully as he dared do, under the knowledge
that his letter would be seen; and Camilla never again even mentioned the
name of Vaudemont. Then there was a long pause; then her brother's
arrival and illness were announced; then, at intervals, but a few hurried
lines; then a complete, long, dreadful silence, and lastly, with a deep
black border and a solemn black seal, came the following letter from Mr.
Beaufort:

"MY DEAR SIR,--I have the unutterable grief to announce to you and your
worthy uncle the irreparable loss I have sustained in the death of my
only son. It is a month to day since he departed this life. He died, sir,
as a Christian should die--humbly, penitently--exaggerating the few
faults of his short life, but--(and here the writer's hypocrisy, though
so natural to him--was it, that he knew not that he was
hypocritical?--fairly gave way before the real and human anguish, for
which there is no dictionary!) but I cannot pursue this theme!

"Slowly now awakening to the duties yet left me to discharge, I cannot
but be sensible of the material difference in the prospects of my
remaining child. Miss Beaufort is now the heiress to an ancient name and
a large fortune. She subscribes with me to the necessity of consulting
those new considerations which so melancholy an event forces upon her
mind. The little fancy--or liking--(the acquaintance was too short for
more) that might naturally spring up between two amiable young persons
thrown together in the country, must be banished from our thoughts. As a
friend, I shall be always happy to hear of your welfare; and should you
ever think of a profession in which I can serve you, you may command my
utmost interest and exertions. I know, my young friend, what you will
feel at first, and how disposed you will be to call me mercenary and
selfish. Heaven knows if that be really my character! But at your age,
impressions are easily effaced; and any experienced friend of the world
will assure you that, in the altered circumstances of the case, I have no
option. All intercourse and correspondence, of course, cease with this
letter,--until, at least, we may all meet, with no sentiments but those
of friendship and esteem. I desire my compliments to your worthy uncle,
in which Mrs. and Miss Beaufort join; and I am sure you will be happy to
hear that my wife and daughter, though still in great affliction, have
suffered less in health than I could have ventured to anticipate.

"Believe me, dear Sir,
"Yours sincerely,
"ROBERT BEAUFORT.

"To C. SPENCER, Esq., Jun."


When Sidney received this letter, he was with Mr. Spencer, and the latter
read it over the young man's shoulder, on which he leant affectionately.
When they came to the concluding words, Sidney turned round with a vacant
look and a hollow smile. "You see, sir," he said, "you see---"

"My boy--my son--you bear this as you ought. Contempt will soon efface--"

Sidney started to his feet, and his whole countenance was changed.

"Contempt--yes, for him! But for her--she knows it not--she is no party
to this--I cannot believe it--I will not! I--I----" and he rushed out of
the room. He was absent till nightfall, and when he returned, he
endeavoured to appear calm--but it was in vain.

The next day brought him a letter from Camilla, written unknown to her
parents,--short, it is true (confirming the sentence of separation
contained in her father's), and imploring him not to reply to it,--but
still so full of gentle and of sorrowful feeling, so evidently worded in
the wish to soften the anguish she inflicted, that it did more than
soothe--it even administered hope.

Now when Mr. Robert Beaufort had recovered the ordinary tone of his mind
sufficiently to indite the letter Sidney had just read, he had become
fully sensible of the necessity of concluding the marriage between Philip
and Camilla before the publicity of the lawsuit. The action for the
ejectment could not take place before the ensuing March or April. He
would waive the ordinary etiquette of time and mourning to arrange all
before. Indeed, he lived in hourly fear lest Philip should discover that
he had a rival in his brother, and break off the marriage, with its
contingent advantages. The first announcement of such a suit in the
newspapers might reach the Spencers; and if the young man were, as he
doubted not, Sidney Beaufort, would necessarily bring him forward, and
ensure the dreaded explanation. Thus apprehensive and ever scheming,
Robert Beaufort spoke to Philip so much, and with such apparent feeling,
of his wish to gratify, at the earliest possible period, the last wish of
his son, in the union now arranged--he spoke, with such seeming
consideration and good sense, of the avoidance of all scandal and
misinterpretation in the suit itself, which suit a previous marriage
between the claimant and his daughter would show at once to be of so
amicable a nature,--that Philip, ardently in love as he was, could not
but assent to any hastening of his expected happiness compatible with
decorum. As to any previous publicity by way of newspaper comment, he
agreed with Mr. Beaufort in deprecating it. But then came the question,
What name was he to bear in the interval?

"As to that," said Philip, somewhat proudly, "when, after my mother's
suit in her own behalf, I persuaded her not to bear the name of Beaufort,
though her due--and for my own part, I prized her own modest name, which
under such dark appearances was in reality spotless--as much as the
loftier one which you bear and my father bore;--so I shall not resume the
name the law denies me till the law restores it to me. Law alone can
efface the wrong which law has done me."

Mr. Beaufort was pleased with this reasoning (erroneous though it was),
and he now hoped that all would be safely arranged.

That a girl so situated as Camilla, and of a character not energetic or
profound, but submissive, dutiful, and timid, should yield to the
arguments of her father, the desire of her dying brother--that she should
not dare to refuse to become the instrument of peace to a divided family,
the saving sacrifice to her father's endangered fortunes--that, in fine,
when, nearly a month after Arthur's death, her father, leading her into
the room, where Philip waited her footstep with a beating heart, placed
her hand in his--and Philip falling on his knees said, "May I hope to
retain this hand for life?"--she should falter out such words as he might
construe into not reluctant acquiescence; that all this should happen is
so natural that the reader is already prepared for it. But still she
thought with bitter and remorseful feelings of him thus deliberately and
faithlessly renounced. She felt how deeply he had loved her--she knew how
fearful would be his grief. She looked sad and thoughtful; but her
brother's death was sufficient in Philip's eyes to account for that. The
praises and gratitude of her father, to whom she suddenly seemed to
become an object of even greater pride and affection than ever Arthur had
been--the comfort of a generous heart, that takes pleasure in the very
sacrifice it makes--the acquittal of her conscience as to the motives of
her conduct--began, however, to produce their effect. Nor, as she had
lately seen more of Philip, could she be insensible of his attachment--of
his many noble qualities--of the pride which most women might have felt
in his addresses, when his rank was once made clear; and as she had ever
been of a character more regulated by duty than passion, so one who could
have seen what was passing in her mind would have had little fear for
Philip's future happiness in her keeping--little fear but that, when once
married to him, her affections would have gone along with her duties; and
that if the first love were yet recalled, it would be with a sigh due
rather to some romantic recollection than some continued regret. Few of
either sex are ever united to their first love; yet married people jog
on, and call each other "my dear" and "my darling" all the same. It might
be, it is true, that Philip would be scarcely loved with the intenseness
with which he loved; but if Camilla's feelings were capable of
corresponding to the ardent and impassioned ones of that strong and
vehement nature--such feelings were not yet developed in her. The heart
of the woman might still be half concealed in the vale of the virgin
innocence. Philip himself was satisfied--he believed that he was beloved:
for it is the property of love, in a large and noble heart, to reflect
itself, and to see its own image in the eyes on which it looks. As the
Poet gives ideal beauty and excellence to some ordinary child of Eve,
worshipping less the being that is than the being he imagines and
conceives--so Love, which makes us all poets for a while, throws its own
divine light over a heart perhaps really cold; and becomes dazzled into
the joy of a false belief by the very lustre with which it surrounds its
object.

The more, however, Camilla saw of Philip, the more (gradually overcoming
her former mysterious and superstitious awe of him) she grew familiarised
to his peculiar cast of character and thought, so the more she began to
distrust her father's assertion, that he had insisted on her hand as a
price--a bargain--an equivalent for the sacrifice of a dire revenge. And
with this thought came another. Was she worthy of this man?--was she not
deceiving him? Ought she not to say, at least, that she had known a
previous attachment, however determined she might be to subdue it? Often
the desire for this just and honourable confession trembled on her lips,
and as often was it checked by some chance circumstance or some maiden
fear. Despite their connection, there was not yet between them that
delicious intimacy which ought to accompany the affiance of two hearts
and souls. The gloom of the house; the restraint on the very language of
love imposed by a death so recent and so deplored, accounted in much for
this reserve. And for the rest, Robert Beaufort prudently left them very
few and very brief opportunities to be alone.

In the meantime, Philip (now persuaded that the Beauforts were ignorant
of his brother's fate) had set Mr. Barlow's activity in search of Sidney;
and his painful anxiety to discover one so dear and so mysteriously lost
was the only cause of uneasiness apparent in the brightening Future.
While these researches, hitherto fruitless, were being made, it so
happened, as London began now to refill, and gossip began now to revive,
that a report got abroad, no one knew how (probably from the servants)
that Monsieur de Vaudemont, a distinguished French officer, was shortly
to lead the daughter and sole heiress of Robert Beaufort, Esq., M.P., to
the hymeneal altar; and that report very quickly found its way into the
London papers: from the London papers it spread to the provincial--it
reached the eyes of Sidney in his now gloomy and despairing solitude. The
day that he read it he disappeared.




CHAPTER XIX.

     "Jul. . . . Good lady, love him!
     You have a noble and an honest gentleman.
     I ever found him so.
     Love him no less than I have done, and serve him,
     And Heaven shall bless you--you shall bless my ashes."
     BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER: The Double Marriage.

We have been too long absent from Fanny; it is time to return to her. The
delight she experienced when Philip made her understand all the benefits,
the blessings, that her courage, nay, her intellect, had bestowed upon
him, the blushing ecstasy with which she heard (as they returned to
H----, the eventful morning of her deliverance, side by side, her hand
clasped in his, and often pressed to his grateful lips) his praises, his
thanks, his fear for her safety, his joy at regaining her--all this
amounted to a bliss, which, till then, she could not have conceived that
life was capable of bestowing. And when he left her at H----, to hurry to
his lawyer's with the recovered document, it was but for an hour. He
returned, and did not quit her for several days. And in that time he
became sensible of her astonishing, and, to him, it seemed miraculous,
improvement in all that renders Mind the equal to Mind; miraculous, for
he guessed not the Influence that makes miracles its commonplace. And now
he listened attentively to her when she conversed; he read with her
(though reading was never much in his vocation), his unfastidious ear was
charmed with her voice, when it sang those simple songs; and his manner
(impressed alike by gratitude for the signal service rendered to him, and
by the discovery that Fanny was no longer a child, whether in mind or
years), though not less gentle than before, was less familiar, less
superior, more respectful, and more earnest. It was a change which raised
her in her own self-esteem. Ah, those were rosy days for Fanny!

A less sagacious judge of character than Lilburne would have formed
doubts perhaps of the nature of Philip's interest in Fanny. But he
comprehended at once the fraternal interest which a man like Philip might
well take in a creature like Fanny, if commended to his care by a
protector whose doom was so awful as that which had ingulfed the life of
William Gawtrey. Lilburne had some thoughts at first of claiming her, but
as he had no power to compel her residence with him, he did not wish, on
consideration, to come again in contact with Philip upon ground so full
of humbling recollections as that still overshadowed by the images of
Gawtrey and Mary. He contented himself with writing an artful letter to
Simon, stating that from Fanny's residence with Mr. Gawtrey, and from her
likeness to her mother, whom he had only seen as a child, he had
conjectured the relationship she bore to himself; and having obtained
other evidence of that fact (he did not say what or where), he had not
scrupled to remove her to his roof, meaning to explain all to Mr. Simon
Gawtrey the next day. This letter was accompanied by one from a lawyer,
informing Simon Gawtrey that Lord Lilburne would pay L200. a year, in
quarterly payments, to his order; and that he was requested to add, that
when the young lady he had so benevolently reared came of age, or
married, an adequate provision would be made for her. Simon's mind blazed
up at this last intelligence, when read to him, though he neither
comprehended nor sought to know why Lord Lilburne should be so generous,
or what that noble person's letter to himself was intended to convey. For
two days, he seemed restored to vigorous sense; but when he had once
clutched the first payment made in advance, the touch of the money seemed
to numb him back to his lethargy: the excitement of desire died in the
dull sense of possession.

And just at that time Fanny's happiness came to a close. Philip received
Arthur Beaufort's letter; and now ensued long and frequent absences; and
on his return, for about an hour or so at a time, he spoke of sorrow and
death; and the books were closed and the songs silenced. All fear for
Fanny's safety was, of course, over; all necessity for her work; their
little establishment was increased. She never stirred out without Sarah;
yet she would rather that there had been some danger on her account for
him to guard against, or some trial that his smile might soothe. His
prolonged absences began to prey upon her--the books ceased to
interest--no study filled up the dreary gap--her step grew listless-her
cheek pale--she was sensible at last that his presence had become
necessary to her very life. One day, he came to the house earlier than
usual, and with a much happier and serener expression of countenance than
he had worn of late.

Simon was dozing in his chair, with his old dog, now scarce vigorous
enough to bark, curled up at his feet. Neither man nor dog was more as a
witness to what was spoken than the leathern chair, or the hearth-rug, on
which they severally reposed.

There was something which, in actual life, greatly contributed to the
interest of Fanny's strange lot, but which, in narration, I feel I cannot
make sufficiently clear to the reader. And this was her connection and
residence with that old man. Her character forming, as his was completely
gone; here, the blank becoming filled--there, the page fading to a blank.
It was the tatter, total Deathliness-in-Life of Simon, that, while so
impressive to see, renders it impossible to bring him before the reader
in his full force of contrast to the young Psyche. He seldom
spoke--often, not from morning till night; he now seldom stirred. It is
in vain to describe the indescribable: let the reader draw the picture
for himself. And whenever (as I sometimes think he will, after he has
closed this book) he conjures up the idea he attaches to the name of its
heroine, let him see before her, as she glides through the humble
room--as she listens to the voice of him she loves--as she sits musing by
the window, with the church spire just visible--as day by day the soul
brightens and expands within her--still let the reader see within the
same walls, greyhaired, blind, dull to all feeling, frozen to all life,
that stony image of Time and Death! Perhaps then he may understand why
they who beheld the real and living Fanny blooming under that chill and
mass of shadow, felt that her grace, her simplicity, her charming beauty,
were raised by the contrast, till they grew associated with thoughts and
images, mysterious and profound, belonging not more to the lovely than to
the sublime.

So there sat the old man; and Philip, though aware of his presence,
speaking as if he were alone with Fanny, after touching on more casual
topics, thus addressed her:

"My true and my dear friend, it is to you that I shall owe, not only my
rights and fortune, but the vindication of my mother's memory. You have
not only placed flowers upon that gravestone, but it is owing to you,
under Providence, that it will be inscribed at last with the Name which
refutes all calumny. Young and innocent as you now are, my gentle and
beloved benefactress, you cannot as yet know what a blessing it will be
to me to engrave that Name upon that simple stone. Hereafter, when you
yourself are a wife, a mother, you will comprehend the service you have
rendered to the living and the dead!"

He stopped--struggling with the rush of emotions that overflowed his
heart. Alas, THE DEAD! what service can we render to them?--what availed
it now, either to the dust below, or to the immortality above, that the
fools and knaves of this world should mention the Catherine whose life
was gone, whose ears were deaf, with more or less respect? There is in
calumny that poison that, even when the character throws off the slander,
the heart remains diseased beneath the effect. They say that truth comes
sooner or later; but it seldom comes before the soul, passing from agony
to contempt, has grown callous to men's judgments. Calumniate a human
being in youth--adulate that being in age;--what has been the interval?
Will the adulation atone either for the torture, or the hardness which
the torture leaves at last? And if, as in Catherine's case (a case, how
common!), the truth come too late--if the tomb is closed--if the heart
you have wrung can be wrung no more--why the truth is as valueless as the
epitaph on a forgotten Name! Some such conviction of the hollowness of
his own words, when he spoke of service to the dead, smote upon Philip's
heart, and stopped the flow of his words.

Fanny, conscious only of his praise, his thanks, and the tender affection
of his voice, stood still silent-her eyes downcast, her breast heaving.

Philip resumed:

"And now, Fanny, my honoured sister, I would thank you for more, were it
possible, even than this. I shall owe to you not only name and fortune,
but happiness. It is from the rights to which you have assisted me, and
which will shortly be made clear, that I am able to demand a hand I have
so long coveted--the hand of one as dear to me as you are. In a word, the
time has, this day, been fixed, when I shall have a home to offer to you
and to this old man--when I can present to you a sister who will prize
you as I do: for I love you so dearly--I owe you so much--that even that
home would lose half its smiles if you were not there. Do you understand
me, Fanny? The sister I speak of will be my wife!"

The poor girl who heard this speech of most cruel tenderness did not
fall, or faint, or evince any outward emotion, except in a deadly
paleness. She seemed like one turned to stone. Her very breath forsook
her for some moments, and then came back with a long deep sigh. She laid
her hand lightly on his arm, and said calmly:

"Yes--I understand. We once saw a wedding. You are to be married--I shall
see yours!"

"You shall; and, later, perhaps, I may see your own."

"I have a brother. Ah! if I could but find him--younger than I
am--beautiful almost as you!"

"You will be happy," said Fanny, still calmly.

"I have long placed my hopes of happiness in such a union! Stay, where
are you going?"

"To pray for you," said Fanny, with a smile, in which there was something
of the old vacancy, as she walked gently from the room. Philip followed
her with moistened eyes. Her manner might have deceived one more vain. He
soon after quitted the house, and returned to town.

Three hours after, Sarah found Fanny stretched on the floor of her own
room--so still--so white--that, for some moments, the old woman thought
life was gone. She recovered, however, by degrees; and, after putting her
hands to her eyes, and muttering some moments, seemed much as usual,
except that she was more silent, and that her lips remained colourless,
and her hands cold like stone.




CHAPTER XX.

   "Vec. Ye see what follows.
   Duke. O gentle sir! this shape again!"--The Chances.

That evening Sidney Beaufort arrived in London. It is the nature of
solitude to make passions calm on the surface--agitated in the deeps.
Sidney had placed his whole existence in one object. When the letter
arrived that told him to hope no more, he was at first rather sensible of
the terrible and dismal blank--the "void abyss"--to which all his future
was suddenly changed, than roused to vehement and turbulent emotion. But
Camilla's letter had, as we have seen, raised his courage and animated
his heart. To the idea of her faith he still clung with the instinct of
hope in the midst of despair. The tidings that she was absolutely
betrothed to another, and in so short a time since her rejection of him,
let loose from all restraint his darker and more tempestuous passions. In
a state of mind bordering upon frenzy, he hurried to London--to seek
her--to see her; with what intent--what hope, if hope there were--he
himself could scarcely tell. But what man who has loved with fervour and
trust will be contented to receive the sentence of eternal separation
except from the very lips of the one thus worshipped and thus foresworn?

The day had been intensely cold. Towards evening the snow fell fast and
heavily. Sidney had not, since a child, been before in London; and the
immense City, covered with a wintry and icy mist, through which the
hurrying passengers and the slow-moving vehicles passed, spectre-like,
along the dismal and slippery streets-opened to the stranger no
hospitable arms. He knew not a step of the way--he was pushed to and
fro--his scarce intelligible questions impatiently answered--the snow
covered him--the frost pierced to his veins. At length a man, more kindly
than the rest, seeing that he was a stranger to London, procured him a
hackney-coach, and directed the driver to the distant quarter of Berkeley
Square. The snow balled under the hoofs of the horses--the groaning
vehicle proceeded at the pace of a hearse. At length, and after a period
of such suspense, and such emotion, as Sidney never in after-life could
recall without a shudder, the coach stopped--the benumbed driver heavily
descended--the sound of the knocker knelled loud through the muffled
air--and the light from Mr. Beaufort's hall glared full upon the dizzy
eyes of the visitor. He pushed aside the porter, and sprang into the
hall. Luckily, one of the footmen who had attended Mrs. Beaufort to the
Lakes recognised him; and, in answer to his breathless inquiry, said,--

"Why, indeed, Mr. Spencer, Miss Beaufort is at home--up-stairs in the
drawing-room, with master and mistress, and Monsieur de Vaudemont; but--"

Sidney waited no more. He bounded up the stairs--he opened the first door
that presented itself to him, and burst, unannounced and unlooked-for,
upon the eyes of the group seated within. He saw not the terrified start
of Mr. Robert Beaufort--he heeded not the faint, nervous exclamation of
the mother--he caught not the dark and wondering glace of the stranger
seated beside Camilla--he saw but Camilla herself, and in a moment he was
at her feet.

"Camilla, I am here!--I, who love you so--I, who have nothing in the
world but you! I am here--to learn from you, and you alone, if I am
indeed abandoned--if you are indeed to be another's!"

He had dashed his hat from his brow as he sprang forward; his long fair
hair, damp with the snows, fell disordered over his forehead; his eyes
were fixed, as for life and death, upon the pale face and trembling lips
of Camilla. Robert Beaufort, in great alarm, and well aware of the fierce
temper of Philip, anticipative of some rash and violent impulse, turned
his glance upon his destined son-in-law. But there was no angry pride in
the countenance he there beheld. Philip had risen, but his frame was
bent--his knees knocked together--his lips were parted--his eyes were
staring full upon the face of the kneeling man.

Suddenly Camilla, sharing her father's fear, herself half rose, and with
an unconscious pathos, stretched one hand, as if to shelter, over
Sidney's head, and looked to Philip. Sidney's eyes followed hers. He
sprang to his feet.

"What, then, it is true! And this is the man for whom I am abandoned! But
unless you--you, with your own lips, tell me that you love me no
more--that you love another--I will not yield you but with life."

He stalked sternly and impetuously up to Philip, who recoiled as his
rival advanced. The characters of the two men seemed suddenly changed.
The timid dreamer seemed dilated into the fearless soldier. The soldier
seemed shrinking--quailing-into nameless terror. Sidney grasped that
strong arm, as Philip still retreated, with his slight and delicate
fingers, grasped it with violence and menace; and frowning into the face
from which the swarthy blood was scared away, said, in a hollow whisper:

"Do you hear me? Do you comprehend me? I say that she shall not be forced
into a marriage at which I yet believe her heart rebels. My claim is
holier than yours. Renounce her, or win her but with my blood."

Philip did not apparently hear the words thus addressed to him. His whole
senses seemed absorbed in the one sense of sight. He continued to gaze
upon the speaker, till his eye dropped on the hand that yet griped his
arm. And as he thus looked, he uttered an inarticulate cry. He caught the
hand in his own, and pointed to a ring on the finger, but remained
speechless. Mr. Beaufort approached, and began some stammered words of
soothing to Sidney, but Philip motioned him to be silent, and, at last,
as if by a violent effort, gasped forth, not to Sidney, but to
Beaufort,--

"His name?--his name?"

"It is Mr. Spencer--Mr. Charles Spencer," cried Beaufort. "Listen to me,
I will explain all--I--"

"Hush, hush! cried Philip; and turning to Sidney, he put his hand on his
shoulder, and looking him full in the face, said,--

"Have you not known another name? Are you not--yes, it is so--it is--it
is! Follow me--follow!"

And still retaining his grasp, and leading Sidney, who was now subdued,
awed, and a prey to new and wild suspicions, he moved on gently, stride
by stride--his eyes fixed on that fair face--his lips muttering-till the
closing door shut both forms from the eyes of the three there left.

It was the adjoining room into which Philip led his rival. It was lit but
by a small reading-lamp, and the bright, steady blaze of the fire; and by
this light they both continued to gaze on each other, as if spellbound,
in complete silence. At last Philip, by an irresistible impulse, fell
upon Sidney's bosom, and, clasping him with convulsive energy, gasped
out:

"Sidney!--Sidney!--my mother's son!"

"What!" exclaimed Sidney, struggling from the embrace, and at last
freeing himself; "it is you, then!--you, my own brother! You, who have
been hitherto the thorn in my path, the cloud in my fate! You, who are
now come to make me a wretch for life! I love that woman, and you tear
her from me! You, who subjected my infancy to hardship, and, but for
Providence, might have degraded my youth, by your example, into shame and
guilt!"

"Forbear!--forbear!" cried Philip, with a voice so shrill in its agony,
that it smote the hearts of those in the adjoining chamber like the
shriek of some despairing soul. They looked at each other, but not one
had the courage to break upon the interview.

Sidney himself was appalled by the sound. He threw himself on a seat,
and, overcome by passions so new to him, by excitement so strange, hid
his face, and sobbed as a child.

Philip walked rapidly to and fro the room for some moments; at length he
paused opposite to Sidney, and said, with the deep calmness of a wronged
and goaded spirit:

"Sidney Beaufort, hear me! When my mother died she confided you to my
care, my love, and my protection. In the last lines that her hand traced,
she bade me think less of myself than of you; to be to you as a father as
well as brother. The hour that I read that letter I fell on my knees, and
vowed that I would fulfil that injunction--that I w