Infomotions, Inc.Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume XXII / Various



Author: Various
Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Volume XXII
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): jeannie; rachel; lady rae; rachel grierson; walter grierson; agnes ainslie
Contributor(s): Fuertes, Louis Agassiz, 1874-1927 [Illustrator]
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Identifier: etext11334
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Title: Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, XXII

Author: various

Release Date: February 27, 2004 [EBook #11334]

Language: English

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*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WILSON'S TALES, SCOTLAND ***




Produced by Juliet Sutherland, John Hagerson, Garrett Alley, and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team.





Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland.



HISTORICAL, TRADITIONARY, & IMAGINATIVE.

WITH A GLOSSARY.



REVISED BY ALEXANDER LEIGHTON,

_One of the Original Editors and Contributors_.


VOL. XXII.



1884.




CONTENTS.


UPS AND DOWNS; OR, DAVID STUART'S ACCOUNT OF HIS PILGRIMAGE, (_John
Mackay Wilson_),

THE BURGHER'S TALES. THE ANCIENT BUREAU. (_Alexander Leighton_),

LADY RAE, (_Alexander Campbell_),

THE DIAMOND EYES, (_Alexander Leighton_),

DAVID LORIMER, (_Anon_.)

THE CONVICT, (_Anon_.)

THE AMATEUR ROBBERY, (_Alexander Leighton_),

THE PROCRASTINATOR, (_John Mackay Wilson_),

THE TEN OF DIAMONDS, (_Alexander Leighton_),




WILSON'S TALES OF THE BORDERS, AND OF SCOTLAND.

       *       *       *       *       *




UPS AND DOWNS; OR, DAVID STUART'S ACCOUNT OF HIS PILGRIMAGE.


Old David Stuart was the picture of health--a personification of
contentment. When I knew him, his years must have considerably exceeded
threescore; but his good-natured face was as ruddy as health could make
it; his hair, though mingled with grey, was as thick and strong as if he
had been but twenty; his person was still muscular and active; and,
moreover, he yet retained, in all their freshness, the feelings of his
youth, and no small portion of the simplicity of his childhood. I loved
David, not only because he was a good man, but because there was a great
deal of _character_ or _originality_ about him; and though his brow was
cheerful, the clouds of sorrow had frequently rested upon it. More than
once when seated by his parlour fire, and when he had finished his pipe,
and his afternoon tumbler stood on the table beside him, I have heard
him give the following account of the ups and downs--the trials, the
joys, and sorrows--which he had encountered in his worldly pilgrimage;
and, to preserve the interest of the history, I shall give it in David's
own idiom, and in his own words.

"I ne'er was a great traveller," David was wont to begin: "through the
length o' Edinburgh, and as far south as Newcastle, is a' that my legs
ken about geography. But I've had a good deal o' crooks and thraws, and
ups and downs, in the world for a' that. My faither was in the droving
line, and lived in the parish o' Coldstream. He did a good deal o'
business, baith about the fairs on the Borders, at Edinburgh market
every week, and sometimes at Morpeth. He was a bachelor till he was
five-and-forty, and he had a very decent lass keep'd his house, they
ca'd Kirsty Simson. Kirsty was a remarkably weel-faur'd woman, and a
number o' the farm lads round about used to come and see her, as weel as
trades' chields frae about Coldstream and Birgham--no that she gied them
ony encouragement, but that it was her misfortune to hae a gude-looking
face. So, there was ae night that my faither cam' hame frae Edinburgh,
and, according to his custom, he had a drap in his e'e--yet no sae
meikle but that he could see a lad or twa hingin' about the house. He
was very angry; and, 'Kirsty,' said he, 'I dinna like thae youngsters to
come about the house.'

"'I'm sure, sir,' said she, 'I dinna encourage them.'

"'Weel, Kirsty,' said he, 'if that's the way, if ye hae nae objections,
I'll marry ye mysel'.'

"'I dinna see what objections I should hae,' said she, and, without ony
mair courtship, in a week or twa they were married; and, in course o'
time, I was born. I was sent to school when I was about eight years
auld, but my education ne'er got far'er than the rule o' three. Before I
was fifteen, I assisted my faither at the markets, and in a short time
he could trust me to buy and sell. There was one very dark night in the
month o' January, when I was little mair than seventeen, my faither and
me were gaun to Morpeth, and we were wishing to get forward wi' the
beasts as far as Whittingham; but just as we were about half a mile doun
the loanin' frae Glanton, it cam' awa ane o' the dreadfu'est storms that
e'er mortal was out in. The snaw literally fell in a solid mass, and
every now and then the wind cam' roarin' and howlin' frae the hills, and
the fury o' the drift was terrible. I was driven stupid and half
suffocated. My faither was on a strong mare, and I was on a bit powney;
and amang the cattle there was a camstairy three-year-auld bull, that
wad neither hup nor drive. We had it tied by the foreleg and the horns;
but the moment the drift broke ower us, the creature grew perfectly
unmanageable; forward it wadna gang. My faither had strucken at it, when
the mad animal plunged its horns into the side o' the mare, and he fell
to the ground. I could just see what had happened, and that was a'. I
jumped aff the powney, and ran forward. 'O faither!' says I, 'ye're no
hurt, are ye?' He was trying to rise, but before I could reach
him--indeed, before I had the words weel out o' my mouth--the animal
made a drive at him! 'O Davy!' he cried, and he ne'er spak mair! We
generally carried pistols, and I had presence o' mind to draw ane out o'
the breast-pocket o' my big coat, and shoot the animal dead on the spot.
I tried to raise my faither in my arms, and, dark as it was, I could see
his blood upon the snaw--and a dreadfu' sight it was for a son to see! I
couldna see where he had been hurt; and still, though he groaned but
once, I didna think he was dead, and I strove and strove again to lift
him upon the back o' the powney, and take him back to Glanton; but
though I fought wi' my heart like to burst a' the time, I couldna
accomplish it. 'Oh, what shall I do?' said I, and cried and shouted for
help--for the snaw fell sae fast, and the drift was sae terrible, that I
was feared that, even if he werena dead, he wad be smothered and buried
up before I could ride to Glanton and back. And, as I cried, our poor
dog Rover came couring to my faither's body and licked his hand, and its
pitiful howls mingled wi' the shrieks o' the wind. No kennin' what to
do, I lifted my faither to the side o' the road, and tried to place him,
half sitting like, wi' his back to the drift, by the foot o' the hedge.
'Oh, watch there, Rover,' said I; and the poor dog ran yowlin' to his
feet, and did as I desired it. I sprang upon the back o' the powney, and
flew up to the town. Within five minutes I was back, and in a short time
a number o' folk wi' lichts cam' to our assistance. My faither was
covered wi' blood, but without the least sign o' life. I thought my
heart wad break, and for a time my screams were heard aboon the ragin'
o' the storm. My faither was conveyed up to the inn, and, on being
stripped, it was found that the horn o' the animal had entered his back
below the left shouther; and when a doctor frae Alnwick saw the body
next day, he said he must have died instantly--and, as I have told ye,
he never spoke, but just cried, 'O Davy!'

"My feelings were in such a state that I couldna write mysel', and I got
a minister to send a letter to my mother, puir woman, stating what had
happened. An acquaintance o' my faither's looked after the cattle, and
disposed o' them at Morpeth; and I, having hired a hearse at Alnwick,
got the body o' my faither taen hame. A sorrowfu' hame-gaun it was, ye
may weel think. Before ever we reached the house, I heard the shrieks o'
my puir mither. 'O my faitherless bairn!' she cried, as I entered the
door; but before she could rise to meet me, she got a glent o' the
coffin which they were takin' out o' the hearse, and utterin' a sudden
scream, her head fell back, and she gaed clean awa.

"After my faither's funeral, we found that he had died worth only about
four hundred pounds when his debts were paid; and as I had been bred in
the droving line, though I was rather young, I just continued it, and my
mother and me kept house thegither.

"This was the only thing particular that happened to me for the next
thirteen years, or till I was thirty. My mother still kept the house,
and I had nae thoughts o' marrying: no but that I had gallanted a wee
bit wi' the lasses now and then, but it was naething serious, and was
only to be neighbour-like. I had ne'er seen ane that I could think o'
takin' for better for warse; and, anither thing, if I had seen ane to
please me, I didna think my mother would be comfortable wi' a young wife
in the house. Weel, ye see, as I was telling ye, things passed on in
this way till I was thirty, when a respectable flesher in Edinburgh that
I did a good deal o' business wi', and that had just got married, says
to me in the Grassmarket ae day: 'Davy,' says he, 'ye're no gaun out o'
the toun the night--will ye come and tak' tea and supper wi' the wife
and me, and a freend or twa?'

"'I dinna care though I do,' says I; 'but I'm no just in a tea-drinkin'
dress.'

"'Ne'er mind the dress,' says he. So, at the hour appointed, I stepped
awa ower to Hanover Street, in the New Town, where he lived, and was
shown into a fine carpeted room, wi' a great looking-glass, in a gilt
frame, ower the chimley-piece--ye could see yoursel' at full length in't
the moment you entered the door. I was confounded at the carpets and the
glass, and a sofa, nae less; and, thinks I, 'This shows what kind o'
bargains ye get frae me.' There were three or four leddies sitting in
the room; and 'Mr. Stuart, leddies,' said the flesher; 'Mr. Stuart, Mrs.
So-and-so,' said he again--'Miss Murray, Mr. Stuart.' I was like to drap
at the impudence o' the creatur--he handed me about as if I had been a
bairn at a dancin' school. 'Your servant, leddies,' said I; and didna
ken where to look, when I got a glimpse o' my face in the glass, and saw
it was as red as crimson. But I was mair than ever put about when the
tea was brought in, and the creatur says to me, 'Mr. Stuart, will you
assist the leddies?' 'Confound him,' thought I, 'has he brought me here
to mak' a fule o'me!' I did attempt to hand round the tea and toast,
when, wi' downright confusion, I let a cup fall on Miss Murray's gown. I
could have died wi' shame. 'Never mind--never mind, sir!' said she;
'there is no harm done;' and she spoke sae proper and sae kindly, I was
in love wi' her very voice. But when I got time to observe her face, it
was a perfect picture; and through the hale night after, I could do
naething but look at and think o' Miss Murray.

"'Man,' says I to the flesher the next time I saw him, 'wha was yon Miss
Murray?' 'No match for a Grassmarket dealer, Davy,' says he. 'I was
thinkin' that,' says I; 'but I wad like to be acquainted wi' her.' 'Ye
shall be that,' says he; and, after that, there was seldom a month
passed that I was in Edinburgh but I saw Miss Murray. But as to
courtin', that was out o' the question.

"A short time after this, a relation o' my mither's, wha had been a
merchant in London, dee'd, and it was said we were his nearest heirs;
and that as he had left nae will, if we applied, we would get the
property, which was worth about five thousand pounds. Weel, three or
four years passed awa, and we heard something about the lawsuit, but
naething about the money. I was vexed for having onything to say to it.
I thought it was only wasting a candle to chase a will-o'-the-wisp.
About the time I speak o', my mither had turned very frail. I saw there
was a wastin' awa o' nature, and she wadna be lang beside me. The day
before her death, she took my hand, and 'Davy,' says she to me--'Davy,'
poor body, she repeated (I think I hear her yet)--'it wad been a great
comfort to me if I had seen ye settled wi' a decent partner before I
dee'd; but it's no to be.'

"Weel, as I was saying, my mither dee'd, and I found the house very
dowie without her. It wad be about three months after her death--I had
been at Whitsunbank; and when I cam' hame, the servant lassie put a
letter into my hands; and 'Maister,' says she, 'there's a letter--can it
be for you, think ye?' It was directed, 'David Stuart, _Esquire_ (nae
less), for----, by Coldstream.' So I opened the seal, and, to my
surprise and astonishment, I found it was frae the man o' business I had
employed in London, stating that I had won the law-plea, and that I
might get the money whene'er I wanted it. I sent for the siller the very
next post. Now, ye see, I was sick and tired o' being a bachelor. I had
lang wished to be settled in a comfortable matrimonial way--that is,
frae e'er I had seen Miss Murray. But, ye see, while I was a drover, I
was very little at hame--indeed I was waur than an Arawbian--and had
very little peace or comfort either, and I thought it was nae use takin'
a wife until something better might cast up. But this wasna the only
reason. There wasna a woman on earth that I thought I could live happy
wi' but Miss Murray, and she belanged to a genteel family: whether she
had ony siller or no, I declare, as I'm to be judged hereafter, I never
did inquire. But I saw plainly it wadna do for a rough country drover,
jauped up to the very elbows, and sportin' a handfu' o' pound-notes the
day, and no' worth a penny the morn--I say, I saw plainly it wadna do
for the like o' me to draw up by her elbow, and say 'Here's a fine day,
ma'am,' or, 'Hae ye ony objections to a walk?' or something o' that
sort. But it was weel on for five years since I had singled her out; and
though I never said a word anent the subject o' matrimony, yet I had
reason to think she had a shrewd guess that my heart louped quicker when
she opened her lips than if a regiment o' infantry had stealed behint me
unobserved, and fired their muskets ower my shouther; and I sometimes
thought that her een looked as if she wished to say, 'Are ye no gaun to
ask me, David?'

"But still, when I thought she had been brought up a leddy in a kind o'
manner, I durstna venture to mint the matter; but I was fully resolved
and determined, should I succeed in getting the money I was trying for,
to break the business clean aff hand. So, ye see, as soon as I got the
siller, what does I do but sits down and writes her a letter--and sic a
letter! I tauld her a' my mind as freely as though I had been speakin'
to you. Weel, ye see, I gaed bang through to Edinburgh at ance, no three
days after my letter; and up I goes to the Lawnmarket, where she was
living wi' her mother, and raps at the door without ony ceremony. But
when I had rapped, I was in a swither whether to staun till they came
out or no, for my heart began to imitate the knocker, or rather to tell
me how I ought to have knocked; for it wasna a loud, solid drover's
knock like mine, but it kept rit-tit-tat-ting on my breast like the
knock of a hairdresser's 'prentice bringing a bandbox fu' o' curls and
ither knick-knackeries, for a leddy to pick and choose on for a fancy
ball; and my face lowed as though ye were haudin' a candle to it; when
out comes the servant, and I stammers out, 'Is your mistress in?' says
I. 'Yes, sir,' says she; 'walk in.' And in I walked; but I declare I
didna ken whether the floor carried me, or I carried the floor; and wha
should I see but an auld leddy wi' spectacles--the maiden's mistress,
sure enough, though no mine, but my mother-in-law that was to be. So she
looked at me, and I looked at her. She made a low curtsey, and I tried
to mak' a bow; while all the time ye might hae heard my heart beatin' at
the opposite side o' the room. 'Sir,' says she. 'Ma'am,' says I. I wad
hae jumped out o' the window had it no been four stories high; but since
I've gane this far, I maun say something, thinks I. 'I've ta'en the
liberty o' callin', ma'am,' says I. 'Very happy to see ye, sir,' says
she. Weel, thinks I, I'm glad to hear that, however; but had it been to
save my life, I didna ken what to say next. So I sat down; and at length
I ventured to ask, 'Is your daughter, Miss Jean, at hame, ma'am?' says
I. 'I wate she is,' quo' she. 'Jean!' she cried wi' a voice that made
the house a' dirl again. 'Comin', mother,' cried my flower o' the
forest; and in she cam', skippin' like a perfect fairy. But when she saw
me, she started as if she had seen an apparition, and coloured up to the
very e'ebrows. As for me, I trembled like an ash leaf, and stepped
forward to meet her. I dinna think she was sensible o' me takin' her by
the hand; and I was just beginning to say again, 'I've taken the
liberty,' when the auld wife had the sense and discretion to leave us by
our-sel's. I'm sure and certain I never experienced such a relief since
I was born. My head was absolutely ringing wi' dizziness and love. I
made twa or three attempts to say something grand, but I never got
half-a-dozen words out; and finding it a' nonsense, I threw my arms
around her waist, and pressed her beatin' breast to mine, and stealing a
hearty kiss, the whole story that I had made such a wark about was ower
in a moment. She made a wee bit fuss, and cried 'Oh fie!' and 'Sir!' or
something o' that kind; but I held her to my breast, declaring my
intentions manfully--that I had been dying for her for five years, and
now that I was a gentleman, I thought I might venture to speak. In fact,
I held her in my arms until she next door to said 'Yes!'

"Within a week we had a'thing settled. I found out she had nae fortune.
Her mother belanged to a kind o' auld family, that, like mony ithers,
cam' down the brae wi' Prince Charles, poor fallow; and they were baith
rank Episcopawlians. I found the mither had just sae muckle a year frae
some o' her far-awa relations; and had it no been that they happened to
ca' me Stuart, and I tauld her a rigmarole about my grandfaither and
Culloden, so that she soon made me out a pedigree, about which I kenned
nae mair than the man o' the moon, but keept saying 'yes' and
'certainly' to a' she said--I say, but for that, and confound me, if she
wadna hae curled up her nose at me and my five thousand pounds into the
bargain, though her lassie should hae starved. But Jeannie was a perfect
angel. She was about two or three and thirty, wi' light brown hair,
hazel e'en, and a waist as jimp and sma' as ye ever saw upon a human
creature. She dressed maist as plain as a Quakeress, but was a pattern
o' neatness. Indeed, a blind man might seen she was a leddy born and
bred; and then for sense, haud at ye there, I wad matched her against
the minister and the kirk elders put thegither. But she took that o' her
mither; o' whom mair by-and-by.

"As I was saying, she was an Episcopawlian,--a downright, open-day
defender o' Archbishop Laud and the bloody Claverhouse; and she wished
to prove down through me the priority and supremacy o' bishops ower
presbyteries,--just downright nonsense, ye ken; but there's nae
accounting for sooperstition. A great deal depends on how a body's
brought up. But what vexed me maist was to think that she wad be gaun to
ae place o' public worship on the Sabbath, and me to anither, just like
twa strangers; and maybe if her minister preached half an hour langer
than mine, or mine half an hour langer than hers, or when we had nae
intermission, then there was the denner spoiled, and the servant no
kenned what time to hae it ready; for the mistress said ane o'clock, and
the maister said twa o'clock. Now, I wadna gie tippence for a cauld
denner.

"But, as I was telling ye about the auld wife, she thocht fit to read
baith us a bit o' a lecture.

"'Now, bairns,' said she, 'I beseech ye, think weel what ye are about;
for it were better to rue at the very foot o' the altar, than to rue it
but ance afterwards, and that ance be for ever. I dinna say this to cast
a damp upon your joy, nor that I doubt your affection for are another;
but I say it as ane who has been a wife, and seen a good deal o' the
world; an,' oh bairns! I say it as a _mother_! Marriage without love is
like the sun in January--often clouded, often trembling through storms,
but aye without heat; and its pillow is comfortless as a snow-wreath.
But although love be the principal thing, remember it is not the only
thing necessary. Are ye sure that ye are perfectly acquainted wi' each
other's characters and tempers? Aboon a', are ye sure that ye esteem and
respect ane anither? Without this, and ye may think that ye like each
other, but it's no real love. It's no that kind o' liking that's to
last through married years, and be like a singing bird in your breasts
to the end o' your days. No, Jeannie, unless your very souls be, as it
were, cemented thegither, unless ye see something in him that ye see in
naebody else, and unless he sees something in you that he sees in
naebody else, dinna marry still. Passionate lovers dinna aye mak'
affectionate husbands. Powder will bleeze fiercely awa in a moment; but
the smotherin' peat retains fire and heat among its very ashes. Remember
that, in baith man and woman, what is passion to-day may be disgust the
morn. Therefore, think now; for it will be ower late to think o' my
advice hereafter.'

"'Troth, ma'am,' said I, 'and I'm sure I'll be very proud to ca' sic a
sensible auld body _mither_!'

"'Rather may ye be proud to call my bairn your _wife_,' said she; 'for,
where a man ceases to be proud o' his wife, upon all occasions, and at
all times, or where a wife has to blush for her husband, ye may say
fareweel to their happiness. However, David,' continued she, 'I dinna
doubt but ye will mak' a gude husband; for ye're a sensible, and I
really think a deservin' lad; and were it nae mair than your name, the
name o' Stuart wad be a passport to my heart. There's but ae thing that
I'm feared on--just ae fault that I see in ye; indeed I may say it's the
beginning o' a' ithers, and I wad fain hae ye promise to mend it; for it
has brought mair misery upon the marriage state than a' the sufferings
o' poverty and the afflictions o' death put thegither.'

"'Mercy me, ma'am!' exclaimed I, 'what de ye mean? Ye've surely been
misinformed.'

"'I've observed it mysel', David,' said she seriously.

"'Goodness, ma'am! ye confound me!' says I; 'if it's onything that's
bad, I'll deny it point blank.'

"'Ye mayna think it bad,' says she again, 'but I fear ye like a _dram_,
and my bairn's happiness demands that I should speak o' it.'

"'A dram!' says I; 'preserve us! is there ony ill in a _dram?_--that's
the last thing that I wad hae thought about.'

"'Ask the broken-hearted wife,' says she, 'if there be ony ill in a
dram--ask the starving family--ask the jailer and the gravedigger--ask
the doctor and the minister o' religion--ask where ye see roups o'
furniture at the cross, or the auctioneer's flag wavin' frae the
window--ask a deathbed--ask eternity, David Stuart, and they will tell
ye if there be ony ill in a dram.'

"'I hope, ma'am,' says I,--and I was a guid deal nettled,--'I hope,
ma'am, ye dinna tak' me to be a drunkard. I can declare freely, that
unless maybe at a time by chance (and the best o' us will mak' a slip
now and then), I never tak' aboon twa or three glasses at a time.
Indeed, three's just my set. I aye say to my cronies, there is nae luck
till the second tumbler, and nae peace after the fourth. So ye perceive,
there's not the smallest danger o' me.'

"'Ah, but, David,' replied she, 'there _is_ danger. Habits grow
stronger, nature weaker, and resolution offers less and less resistance;
and ye may come to make four, five, or six glasses your set; and frae
that to a bottle--your grave--and my bairn a broken-hearted widow.'

"'Really, ma'am,' says I, ye talked very sensibly before, but ye are awa
wi' the harrows now--quite unreasonable a'thegither. However, to satisfy
ye upon that score, I'll mak' a vow this very moment, that, except'----

"'Mak' nae rash vows,' says she; 'for a breath mak's them, and less than
a breath unmak's them. But mind that, while ye wad be comfortable wi'
your cronies, my bairn wad be frettin' her lane; and though she might
say naething when ye cam hame, that wadna be the way to wear her love
round your neck like a chain of gold; but, night after night, it wad
break away link by link, till the whole was lost; and if ye didna hate,
ye wad soon find ye were disagreeable to each other. Nae true woman will
condescend to love ony man lang, wha can find society he prefers to hers
in an alehouse. I dinna mean to say that ye should never enter a
company; but dinna mak' a practice o't.'

"Weel, the wedding morning cam, and I really thocht it was a great
blessin' folk hadna to be married every day. My neckcloth wadna tie as
it used to tie, and but that I wadna swear at onybody on the day o' my
marriage, I'm sure I wad hae wished some ill wish on the fingers o' the
laundress. She had starched the muslins!--a circumstance, I am perfectly
certain, unheard of in the memory o' man, and a thing which my mother
ne'er did. It was stiff, crumpled, and clumsy. I vowed it was
insupportable. It was within half an hour o' the time o' gaun to the
chapel. I had tried a 'rose-knot,' a 'witch-knot,' a 'chaise-driver's
knot,' and a 'running-knot,' wi' every kind o' knot that fingers could
twist the neckcloth into, but the confounded starch made every ane look
waur than anither. Three neckcloths I had rendered unwearable, and the
fourth I tied in a 'beau-knot' in despair. The frill o' my sark-breast
wadna lie in the position in which I wanted it! For the first time my
very hair rose in rebellion--it wadna lie right; and I cried, 'The
mischief tak' the barber!' The only part o' my dress wi' which I was
satisfied, was a spotless pair o' nankeen pantaloons. I had a dog they
ca'ed Mettle--it was a son o' poor Rover, that I mentioned to ye
before, Weel, it had been raining through the night, and Mettle had been
out in the street. The instinct o' the poor dumb brute was puzzled to
comprehend the change that had recently taken place in my appearance and
habits, and its curiosity was excited. I was sitting before the
looking-glass, and had just finished tying my cravat, when Mettle cam
bouncing into the room; he looked up in my face inquisitively, and, to
unriddle mair o' the matter, placed his unwashed paws upon my unsoiled
nankeens. Every particular claw left its ugly impression. It was
provoking beyond endurance. I raised my hand to strike him, but the poor
brute wagged his tail, and I only pushed him down, saying, 'Sorrow tak'
ye, Mettle, do ye see what ye've dune?' So I had to gang to the kitchen
fire and stand before it to dry the damp, dirty footprints o' the
offender. I then found that the waistcoat wadna sit without wrinkles,
such as I had ne'er seen before upon a waistcoat o' mine. The coat, too,
was insupportably tight below the arms; and, as I turned half round
before the glass, I saw that it hung loose between the shouthers! 'As
sure as a gun,' says I, 'the stupid soul o' a tailor has sent me hame
the coat o' a humph-back in a mistak'!' My hat was fitted on in every
possible manner, ower the brow and aff the brow, now straight, now
cocked to the right side and again to the left, but to no purpose; I
couldna place it to look like mysel', or as I wished. But half-past
eight chimed frae St. Giles'. I had ne'er before spent ten minutes to
dress, shaving included, and that morning I had begun at seven! There
was not another moment to spare; I let my hat fit as it would, seized my
gloves, and rushed down stairs, and up to the Lawnmarket, where I
knocked joyfully at the door o' my bonny bride.

"When we were about to depart for the chapel, the auld leddy rose to
gie us her blessing, and placed Jeannie's hand within mine. She shed a
few quiet tears (a common circumstance wi' mithers on similar
occasions); and 'Now, Jeannie,' said she, 'before ye go, I have just
anither word or twa to say to ye'--

"'Dearsake, ma'am!' said I, for I was out o' a' patience, 'we'll do very
weel wi' what we've heard just now, and ye can say onything ye like when
we come back.'

"There was only an elderly gentleman and a young leddy accompanied us to
the chapel; for Jeannie and her mother said that that was mair genteel
than to have a gilravish o' folk at our heels. For my part, I thought,
as we were to be married, we micht as weel mak' a wedding o't. I,
however, thought it prudent to agree to their wish, which I did the mair
readily, as I had nae particular acquaintance in Edinburgh. The only
point that I wad not concede was being conveyed to the chapel in a
coach. That my plebeian blood, notwithstanding my royal name o' Stuart,
could not overcome. 'Save us a'!' said I, 'if I wadna _walk_ to be
married, what in the three kingdoms wad tempt me to walk?'

"'Weel,' said the auld leddy, 'my daughter will be the first o' our
family that ever gaed on foot to the altar.'

"'An' I assure ye, ma'am,' said I, 'that I would be the first o' my
family that ever gaed in ony ither way; and, in my opinion, to gang on
foot shows a demonstration o' affection and free-will, whereas gaun in a
carriage looks as if there were unwillingness or compulsion in the
matter.' So she gied up the controversy. Weel, the four o' us walked awa
doun the Lawnmarket and High Street, and turned into a close by the tap
o' the Canon gate, where the Episcopawlian chapel was situated. For
several days I had read ower the marriage service in the prayer-book, in
order to master the time to say 'I will,' and other matters.
Nevertheless, no sooner did I see the white gown of the clergyman, and
feel Jeannie's hand trembling in mine, than he micht as weel hae spoken
in Gaelic. I mind something about the ring, and, when the minister was
done, I whispered to the best man, 'It's a' ower now?' 'Yes,' said he.
'Heeven be thankit!' thought I.

"Weel, ye see, after being married, and as I had been used to an active
life a' my days, I had nae skill in gaun about like a gentleman wi' my
hands in my pockets, and I was anxious to tak' a farm. But Jeannie did
not like the proposal, and my mother-in-law wadna hear tell o't; so, by
her advice, I put out the money, and we lived upon the interest. For six
years everything gaed straight, and we were just as happy and as
comfortable as a family could be. We had three bairns: the eldest was a
daughter, and we ca'ed her Margaret, after her grandmother, who lived
wi' us; the second was a son, and I named him Andrew, after my faither;
and our third, and youngest, we ca'ed Jeannie, after her mother. They
were as clever, bonnie, and obedient bairns as ye could see, and
everybody admired them. There was ane Luckie Macnaughton kept a tavern
in Edinburgh at the time. A' sort o' respectable folk used to frequent
the house, and I was in the habit o' gaun at night to smoke my pipe and
hear the news about Bonaparte and the rest o' them; but it was very
seldom that I exceeded three tumblers. Weel, among the customers there
was ane that I had got very intimate wi'--as genteel and decent a
looking man as ye could see; indeed I took him to be a particular
serious and honest man. So there was ae night that I was rather mair
than ordinary hearty, and says he to me: 'Mr Stuart,' says he, 'will
you lend your name to a bit paper for me?' 'No, I thank ye, sir,' says
I; 'I never wish to be caution for onybody.' 'It's of no consequence,'
said he, and there was no more passed. But as I was rising to gang hame,
'Come, tak' anither, Mr. Stuart,' said he; 'I'm next the wa' wi'
ye--I'll stand treat.' Wi' sair pressing I was prevailed upon to sit
doun again, and we had anither and anither, till I was perfectly
insensible. What took place, or how I got hame, I couldna tell, and the
only thing I remember was a head fit to split the next day, and Jeannie
very ill pleased and powty-ways. However, I thought nae mair about it,
and I was extremely glad I had refused to be bond for the person who
asked me; for within three months I learned that he had broken and
absconded wi' a vast o' siller. It was just a day or twa after I had
heard the intelligence, I was telling Jeannie and her mother o' the
circumstance, and what an escape I had had, when the servant lassie
showed a bank clerk into the room. 'Tak' a seat, sir,' said I, for I had
dealings wi' the bank. 'This is a bad business, Mr. Stuart,' said he.
'What business?' said I, quite astonished. 'Your being security for Mr.
So-and-so,' said he. 'Me!' cried I, starting up in the middle o' the
floor--'Me!--the scoundrel--I denied him point blank!' 'There is your
own signature for a thousand pounds,' said the clerk. 'A thousand
furies!' exclaimed I, stamping my foot; 'it's a forgery--an infernal
forgery!' 'Mr. Such-a-one is witness to your handwriting,' said the
clerk. I was petrified; I could hae drawn down the roof o' the house
upon my head to bury me! In a moment a confused recollection o' the
proceedings at Luckie Macnaughton's flashed across my memory, like a
flame from the bottomless pit! There was a look o' witherin' reproach in
my mother-in-law's een, and I heard her mutterin' between her teeth, 'I
aye said what his three tumblers wad come to.' But my dear Jeannie bore
it like a Christian, as she is. She cam forward to me, an', poor thing,
she kissed my cheek, and says she, 'Dinna distress yoursel', David,
dear--it cannot be helped now--let us pray that this may be a lesson for
the future.' I flung my arm round her neck--I couldna speak; but at last
I said, 'Oh Jeannie, it will be a lesson, and your affection will be a
lesson!' Some o' your book-learned folk wad ca' this conduct philosophy
in Jeannie; but I, wha kenned every thought in her heart, was aware that
it proceeded from her resignation as a true Christian, and her affection
as a dutiful wife. Weel, the upshot was, I had robbed mysel' out o' a
thousand pounds as simply as ye wad snuff out a candle. You have heard
the saying, that sorrow ne'er comes singly; and I am sure, in a' my
experience, I have found its truth. At that period I had two thousand
pounds, bearing six per cent., lying in the hands o' a gentleman o'
immense property. Everybody believed him to be as sure as the bank.
Scores o' folk had money in his hands. The interest was paid punctually,
and I hadna the least suspicion. Weel, I was looking ower the papers one
morning at breakfast, and I happened to glance at the list o' bankrupts
(a thing I'm no in the habit o' doing), when, mercy me! whose name
should I see but the very gentleman's that had my twa thousand pounds! I
had the paper in one hand and a saucer in the other. The saucer and the
coffee gaed smash upon the hearth! I trembled frae head to foot. 'Oh
David! what's the matter?' cried Jeannie. 'Matter!' cried I; 'matter!
I'm ruined!--we're a' ruined!' But it's o' nae use dwelling on this. The
fallow didna pay eighteenpence to the pound; and there was three
thousand gaen out o' my five! It was nae use, wi' a young family, to
talk o' living on the interest o' our money now. 'We maun tak' a farm,'
says I; and baith Jeannie and her mother saw there was naething else for
it. So I took a farm which lay partly in the Lammermoors and partly in
the Merse. It took the thick end o' eight hundred pounds to stock it.
However, we were very comfortable in it; I found mysel' far mair at hame
than I had been in Edinburgh; for I had employment for baith mind and
hands, and Jeannie very soon made an excellent farmer's wife. Auld
grannie, too, said she never had been sae happy; and the bairns were as
healthy as the day was lang. We couldna exactly say that we were making
what ye may ca' siller, yet we were losing nothing, and every year
laying by a little. There was a deepish burn ran near the onstead. We
had been about three years in the farm, and our youngest lassie was
about nine years auld. It was the summer time, and she had been paidling
in the burn, and sooming feathers and bits o' sticks; I was looking
after something that had gaen wrang about the threshin' machine, when I
heard an unco noise get up, and bairns screamin'. I looked out, and I
saw them runnin' and shoutin'--'Miss Jeannie! Miss Jeannie!' I rushed
out to the barnyard. 'What is't, bairns?' cried I. 'Miss Jeannie! Miss
Jeannie!' said they, pointing to the burn. I flew as fast as my feet
could carry me. The burn, after a spate on the hills, often cam awa in a
moment wi' a fury that naething could resist. The flood had come awa
upon my bairn; and there, as I ran, did I see her bonnie yellow hair
whirled round and round, sinking out o' my sight, and carried awa doun
wi' the stream. There was a linn about thirty yards frae where I saw
her, and oh! how I rushed to snatch a grip o' her before she was carried
ower the rocks! But it was in vain--a moment sooner, and I might hae
saved her; but she was hurled ower the precipice when I was within an
arm's length, and making a grasp at her bit frock! My poor little
Jeannie was baith felled and drowned. I plunged into the wheel below the
linn, and got her out in my arms. I ran wi' her to the house, and I laid
my drowned bairn on her mother's knee. Everything that could be done was
done, and a doctor was brought frae Dunse; but the spark o' life was out
o' my bit Jeannie. I felt the bereavement very bitterly; and for many a
day, when Margaret and Andrew sat down at the table by our sides, my
heart filled; for as I was helpin' their plates, I wad put out my hand
again to help anither, but there was nae ither left to help. But Jeannie
took our bairn's death far sairer to heart than even I did. For several
years she never was hersel' again, and just seemed dwinin' awa.
Sea-bathing was strongly recommended; and as she had a friend in
Portobello, I got her to gang there for a week or twa during summer. Our
daughter Margaret was now about eighteen, and her brother Andrew about
fifteen; and as I thought it would do them good, I allowed them to gang
wi' their mither to the bathing. They were awa for about a month, and I
firmly believe that Jeannie was a great deal the better o't. But it was
a dear bathing to me on mony accounts for a' that. Margaret was an
altered lassie a'thegither. She used to be as blithe as a lark in May,
and now there was nae gettin' her to do onything; but she sat couring
and unhappy, and seighin' every handel-a-while, as though she were
miserable. It was past my comprehension, and her mother could assign nae
particular reason for it. As for Andrew, he did naething but yammer,
yammer, frae morn till night, about the sea; or sail boats, rigged wi'
thread and paper sails, in the burn. When he was at the bathing he had
been doun aboot Leith, and had seen the ships, and naething wad serve
him but he would be a sailor. Night and day did he torment my life out
to set him to sea. But I wadna hear tell o't--his mother was perfectly
wild against it, and poor auld grannie was neither to hand nor to bind.
We had suffered enough frae the burn at our door, without trusting our
only son upon the wide ocean. However, all we could say had nae
effect--the craik was never out o' his head; and it was still, 'I will
be a sailor.' Ae night he didna come in as usual for his four-hours, and
supper time cam, and we sent a' round about to seek him, but naebody had
heard o' him. We were in unco distress, and it struck me at ance that he
had run to sea. I saddled my horse that very night and set out for
Leith, but could get nae trace o' him. This was a terrible trial to us,
and ye may think what it was when I tell ye it was mair than a
twelvemonth before we heard tell o' him; and the first accounts we had
was a letter by his ain hand, written frae Bengal. We had had a cart
down at Dunse for some bits o' things, and the lad brought the letter in
his pocket; and weel do I mind how Jeannie cam' fleein' wi' it open in
her hand across the fields to where I was looking after some workers
thinnin' turnips, crying, 'David! David! here's a letter frae Andrew!'
'Read it! read it!' cried I, for my een were blind wi' joy. But Andrew's
rinnin' awa wasna the only trial that we had to bear up against at this
time. As I was tellin' ye, there was an unco change ower Margaret since
she had come frae the bathin'; and a while after, a young lad that her
mother said they had met wi' at Portobello began to come about the
house. He was the son o' a merchant in Edinburgh, and pretended that he
had come to learn to be a farmer wi' a neighbour o' ours. He was a wild,
thoughtless, foppish-looking lad, and I didna like him; but Margaret,
silly thing, was clean daft about him. Late and early I found him about
the house, and I tauld him I couldna allow him nor ony person to be
within my doors at any such hours. Weel, this kind o' wark was carried
on for mair than a year; and a' that I could say or do, Margaret and him
were never separate; till at last he drapped off comin' to the house,
and our daughter did naething but seigh and greet. I found that, after
bringing her to the point o' marriage, he either wadna or durstna fulfil
his promise unless I wad pay into his loof a thousand pounds as her
portion. I could afford my daughter nae sic sum, and especially no to be
thrown awa on the like o' him. But Jeannie cam to me wi' the tears on
her cheeks, and 'O David!' says she, 'there's naething for it but
partin' wi' a thousand pounds on the ae hand or our bairn's death--and
her--shame on the ither!' Oh! if a knife had been driven through my
heart, it couldna pierced it like the word _shame_! As a faither, what
could I do? I paid him the money, and they were married.

"It's o' nae use tellin' ye how I gaed back in the farm. In the year
sixteen my crops warna worth takin' aff the ground, and I had twa score
o' sheep smothered the same winter. I fell behint wi' my rent; and
household furniture, farm-stock, and everything I had, were to be sold
off. The day before the sale, wi' naething but a bit bundle carrying in
my hand, I took Jeannie on my ae arm and her puir auld mither on the
other, and wi' a sad and sorrowfu' heart we gaed out o' the door o' the
hame where our bairns had been brought up, and a sheriff's officer
steeked it behint us. Weel, we gaed to Coldstream, and we took a bit
room there, and furnished it wi' a few things that a friend bought back
for us at our sale. We were very sair pinched. Margaret's gudeman ne'er
looked near us, nor rendered us the least assistance, and she hadna it
in her power. There was nae ither alternative that I could see; and I
was just gaun to apply for labouring wark when we got a letter frae
Andrew, enclosing a fifty-pound bank-note. Mony a tear did Jeannie and
me shed ower that letter. He informed us that he had been appointed mate
o' an East Indiaman, and begged that we would keep ourselves easy; for
while he had a sixpence, his faither and mither should hae the half o't.
Margaret's husband very soon squandered away the money he had got frae
me, as weel as the property he had got frae his faither; and, to escape
the jail, he ran off, and left his wife and family. They cam to stop wi'
me; and for five years we heard naething o' him. We had begun a shop in
the spirit and grocery line, and really we were remarkably fortunate. It
was about six years after I had begun business, ae night just after the
shop was shut, Jeannie and her mother, wha was then about ninety, and
Margaret and her bairns, and mysel', were a' sittin' round the fire,
when a rap cam to the door; ane o' the bairns ran and opened it, and twa
gentlemen cam in. Margaret gied a shriek, and ane o' them flung himsel'
at her feet. 'Mother! faither!' said the other, 'do ye no ken me?' It
was our son Andrew, and Margaret's gudeman! I jamp up, and Jeannie jamp
up; auld grannie raise totterin' to her feet, and the bairns screamed,
puir things. I got haud o' Andrew, and his mother got haud o' him, and
we a' grat wi' joy. It was such a night o' happiness as I had never
kenned before. Andrew had been made a ship captain. Margaret's husband
had repented o' a' his follies, and was in a good way o' doing in India;
and everything has gane right and prospered wi' our whole family frae
that day to this."




THE BURGHER'S TALES.


THE ANCIENT BUREAU.

The sources of legends are not often found in old sermons; and yet it
will be admitted that there are few remarkable events in man's history,
which, if inquired into, will not be found to embrace the elements of
very impressive pulpit discourses. Even in cases which seem to disprove
a special, if not a general Providence, there will always be found in
the account between earth and heaven some "desperate debt," mayhap an
"accommodation bill," which justifies the ways of God to man. It may
even be said that the fact of our being generally able to find that item
is a proof of the wonderful adaptability of Christianity to the fortunes
and hopes of our race. That ministers avoid the special topics of
peculiar destinies, may easily be accounted for otherwise than by
supposing that they cannot explain them so as to vindicate God's
justice; but if ever there was a case where that difficulty would seem
to the eye of mere reason to culminate in impossibility, it is that
which I have gleaned from a veritable pulpit lecture. I have the sermon
in my possession, but from the want of the title-page, I am unable to
ascertain the author. The date at the end is 1793, and the text is,
"Inscrutable are _his_ judgments."

Inscrutable indeed in the case to which the words were applied--no other
than an instance of death by starvation, which occurred in Edinburgh in
the year we have just mentioned. In that retreat of poverty called
Middleton's Entry, which joins the dark street called the Potterrow, and
Bristo Street, the inhabitants were roused into surprise, if not a
feeling approaching to horror, by the discovery that a woman, who had
lived for a period of fifteen years in a solitary room at the top of one
of the tenements, had been found in bed dead. A doctor was called, but
before he came it was concluded by those who had assembled in the small
room that she had died from want of food; and such was the fact. The
body--that of one not yet much past the middle of life, and with fair
complexion and comely features--was so emaciated, that you might have
counted the ribs merely by the eye; and all those parts where the bones
are naturally near the surface exhibited a sharpness which suggested the
fancy, that as you may see a phosphorescent skeleton through the glow,
you beheld in the candle-light the figure of death under the thin
covering of the bones. She realized, in short, the description which
doctors give of the appearance of those unfortunate beings who die of
what is technically called _atrophia familicorum_--that Nemesis of
civilisation which points scornfully to the victim of want, and then
looks round on God's bountiful table, set for the meanest of his
creatures. So we may indite; but rhetoric, which is useless where the
images cannot rise to the dignity or descend to the humiliation of the
visible fact, must always come short of the effect of the plain words
that a human creature--perhaps good and amiable and delicate to that
shyness which cannot complain--has died in the very midst of a
proclaimed philanthropy, and within the limits of a space comprehending
smoking tables covered with luxuries, and surrounded by Christian men
and women filled with meat and drink to repletion and satiety.

Some such thoughts might have been passing through the minds of the
assembled neighbours; and they could not be said to be the less true
that a shrunk and partially-withered right arm showed that the doom of
the woman had been so far precipitated by the still remaining effects of
an old stroke of palsy. And the gossip confirmed this, going also into
particulars of observation,--how she had kept herself so to herself as
if she wished to avoid the neighbours,--a fact which to an extent
justified their imputed want of attention; how almost the only
individual who had visited her was a peculiar being, in the shape of a
very little man, with a slight limp and thin pleasant features,
illuminated by a pair of dark, penetrating eyes. For years and years had
he been seen, always about the same hour of the day, ascending her
stair, and carrying a flagon, supposed to contain articles of food. Then
the gossiping embraced the furniture and other articles in the room,
which, however they might have been unnoticed before, had now assumed
the usual interest when seen in the blue light of the acted tragedy: the
small mahogany table and the two chairs--how strange that they should be
of mahogany!--and some of the few marrowless plates in the rack over the
fireplace, why, they were absolute china! but above all, the exquisite
little bureau of French manufacture, with its drawers, its desk, and
pigeon-holes, and cunning slides--what on earth was it doing in that
room, when its value even to a broker would have kept the woman alive
for months? Questions these put by a roused curiosity, and perhaps not
worth answer. Was not she a woman, and was not that enough?

Not enough; for legendary details cluster round startling events, and
often carry a moral which may prevent a repetition of these; and so, had
it not been for this apparently inexplicable death by starvation, our
wonderful story might never have gathered listeners round the evening
fire. We must go back some twenty years before the date of the said
sermon to find a certain merchant-burgess of the city of Edinburgh,
David Grierson, occupying a portion of a front land situated in the
Canongate, a little to the east of Leith Wynd. It would be sheer
affectation in us to pretend that this merchant-burgess had any mental
or physical characteristic about him to justify his appearance in a
romance, if we except the power he had shown of amassing wealth, of
which he had so much that he could boast the possession of more than
twenty goodly tenements, some of wood and some of stone, besides shares
of ships and bank stock. And no doubt this exception might stand for the
thing excepted from, for money, though commonly said to be extraneous,
is often so far in its influences intraneous, that it changes the
feelings and motives, and enables them to work. And then don't we know
that it is by extraneous things we are mostly led? But however all that
may be, certain it is that our merchant-burgess was a great man in his
own house in the Canongate, where his family consisted of Rachel
Grierson, his natural daughter, by a woman who had been long dead, and
Walter Grierson, his legitimate nephew, who had been left an orphan in
his early years, and who was his nearest lawful heir. Two servants
completed the household; and surely in this rather curious combination
there might be, if only circumstances were favourable to their
development, elements which might impart interest to a story.

So long as the shadow of the dark angel was, as Time counted, far away
from him, Burgess David was comparatively happy; but as he got old and
older, he began to realize the condition of the poet--

  "Now pleasure will no longer please,
    And all the joys of life are gone;
  I ask no more on earth but ease,
    To be at peace, and be alone:
  I ask in vain the winged powers
    That weave man's destiny on high;
  In vain I ask the golden hours
    That o'er my head for ever fly."

Then he waxed more and more anxious as to what he was to do with his
money. He tried to put away the thought; but the terrible _magistra
necessitas_ went round and round him with ever-diminishing circles,
clearly indicating a conflict in which he must succumb. He must make a
will; an act which it is said no man is ever in a hearty condition to
perform, unless mayhap he is angry, and wishes to cut off an ungrateful
dog with a shilling; and besides the general disinclination to sign the
disposal of so much wealth, of which he was more than ordinarily fond,
and to give away, as it were, _omnia praeter animam_, in the very view
of giving away the soul too, he was in a great perplexity as to how to
divide his means. Nor could he reconcile himself to a division at all,
preferring, as the greatly lesser evil, the alternative of destinating
his fortune all of a lump, with some hope of its being kept together. As
for Walter, though he had some affection for him, he had not much
confidence in him, for he had seen that he was hare-brained as regarded
things which suited his fancy, and pig-brained as respected those which
solicited and required sound judgment; while Rachel, again, was
everything which, among the lower angels, could be comprehended under
the delightful title of "dear soul," an amiable and devoted creature, as
stedfast in her affections as she was wise in the selection of their
objects. So by revolving in his mind all the beauties of the character
of her who, however disqualified by law, was still of his flesh and
blood, yea, of his very nature, as he complacently thought in compliment
to himself, he became more and more reconciled to his intention, if the
very thought of making a will, which had been horrible to him, did not
become even a pleasing kind of meditation. So is it--when Nature imposes
an inevitable duty, she gives man the power of inventing a pleasing
reason for his obedience; nay, so much of a self-dissembler is he, that
he even cheats himself into the belief that his obedience is an act of
his own will. In all which he at least proved the value of one of the
arguments in favour of marriage; for trite it is to say, a bachelor
bears to no one a love which reconciles him to will-making, while a
father, in leaving his means to his children, feels as if he were giving
to himself. But this plan of our merchant-burgess had in addition a
spice of ingenuity in it which still more pleased him--he would so
contrive matters that the daughter and the nephew would become, after
his death, man and wife. He had only some doubts how far their tastes
agreed,--probably an absurd condition, in so much as we all know that
love is often struck out by opposition, and that there is a pleasant
suitability in a husband preferring the head of a herring, and the wife
the tail.

Having thus arrived at a sense of his duty by the pleasant path of his
affection, Mr. David Grierson seized the first opportunity which
presented itself of sounding the heart of Rachel, in order to know in
what direction her affections ran. Sitting in his big chair, all so
comfortably cushioned by the hands of the said Rachel herself, and with
a good fire alongside, due also to her unremitting care, he called her
to him, and placing his arm round her waist, as he was often in the
habit of doing, said to her--

"Rachel, dear, I feel day by day my strength leaving me, and it may be,
nay, will be, that I will not be very much longer with you."

Rachel looked at him for a little, but said nothing, for, as the saying
goes, her heart came to her mouth, and she could not have spoken even if
she would; but the father understood all this, and preferred the mute
expression of a real grief to a hysterical burst--of which, indeed, her
calm genial nature was incapable.

"Forgive me, dear," continued he, "for I would not willingly cause you
sorrow, but I have a reason for speaking in this grave way. Who is to
fill the old arm-chair when I cannot occupy it?"

And he smiled somewhat grimly as he sought her eye, in which he could
observe the most real of all nature's evidences of emotion.

"What mean you, father?" she replied, with something like an effort to
respond to his humour.

"Why, then, Rachel," he said, "to be out with it, I want to know whether
you have fixed your heart on any one."

"Only upon you, dear father," she replied, with a smile which struggled
against her seriousness.

"Nay, Rachel," continued he. "It is no light matter, and I must have an
answer. I intend to leave you my whole fortune, but upon one condition,
which is, that if Walter Grierson shall sue for your hand, you will
consent to marry him."

To this there was a reply given with an alacrity which showed how her
heart pointed--"Yes;" then, adding that wonderful little word "but,"
which makes such havoc among our resolutions, she paused, while her eyes
sought the ground.

"What 'but' can be here?" interjected the old man. "Surely you do not
mean to doubt whether _he_ would consent?"

"And yet that is just my doubt," she replied, as if she felt humiliated
by the admission.

"Doubt!" cried the father, in rising wrath; "doubt, doubt if a beggar
would consent to be made rich by marrying _you_! Why, Rachel, dear, if
the fellow were to breathe a sigh of hesitation, he would deserve to be
a beggar with more holes than wholes in his gabardine, and too poor even
to possess a wallet to carry his bones and crumbs. Have you any reason
for your strange statement?"

"No," replied the girl, with a sigh. "It is only my heart that speaks."

"And the heart never lies," said he sharply. "But I shall see," he
muttered to himself, "whether a certain tongue in a certain head shall
speak in the same way."

"But would it not bring me down," said she, "were he to think that he
was forced by a promise?"

"A promise!" rejoined he; "why, so it would, my dear. I see you are
right." But then he thought he could sound him without putting any
obligation upon him. "And a pretty obligation it would be," he
continued, "for a young fellow cut off with a shilling to bind himself
to consent to be the acceptor of two such gifts as a fine girl and a
fortune."

And Burgess David tried to laugh; but the effort was still that of a
heavy heart, and, reclining his head upon the back of the chair, he
relapsed into those thoughts which, as Age advances to the term where
Hope throws down her lamp, press in and in upon the spirit. Rachel
glided away quietly, perhaps to think; and certainly she had something
to think about.

So, too, doubtless had Mr. David Grierson, who, after indulging in his
reverie, wherein the subject of will-making suggested a match between
himself and a certain bridegroom who never says nay, awoke to the
interest of his scheme of match-making in this world. So far he had
accomplished his object, for he could rely upon his faithful Rachel's
performance of her promise; and if the two should be married, he knew
how to take care to give her the power of the money, and keep a youth,
in whose prudence he had no great faith, in proper check. Next he had to
sound the nephew. Nor was it long before he had an opportunity--even
that same afternoon.

"Walter," he began with an abruptness for which probably the young man
was scarcely prepared, "I am getting old, and must now think of
arranging my affairs so as to endeavour to make my fortune serve the
purpose of rendering those happy in whom I have a natural interest. So I
have some interest also as well as, I suspect, some right to put the
question to you, whether you ever thought of Rachel Grierson for your
wife?"

"Upon my word," replied the nephew, with just as little _mauvais honte_
as suited his nature, "I never thought of aspiring to the _honour_."

A word this last which grated on the ear of the rich merchant-burgess,
inasmuch as it suggested a suspicion of the figure of speech called
irony, seeing that Rachel Grierson was a bastard, and the youth carried
the legitimate blood of the Griersons in his veins.

"Honour or no honour," replied he sharply, and perhaps contrary to his
original intention, "Rachel Grierson is to inherit my fortune, ay, every
penny thereof."

"Every penny thereof," echoed the youth, as if his mind had flown away
with the words, and dropt them in despair as it flew.

"Yes," rejoined the angry uncle, "lands, tenements, hereditaments,
shares, dividends, stock, furniture, bed and table linen."

"And table linen," echoed the entranced nephew.

"Yes; everything," continued the uncle; and calming down as he saw the
white lips and blank despair of the youth, he added--"And to you I will
leave and bequeath my natural-born daughter, Rachel Grierson."

And as he uttered these significant words, he watched carefully the face
of the youth, where, however, all indications defied his perspicacity,
inasmuch as blank astonishment was still the prevailing expression. But
after some minutes the young man stuttered out--

"A legacy worthy of a nobleman!"

Words that sounded beautifully, because they were true as regarded
Rachel, whatever they might be as respected his secret intention; yet as
the children vaticinate from the examination of each other's tongues, if
the uncle had examined the organ, he might have discovered some of those
blue lines which produce an exclamation from the young augurs.

"_Words_ worthy, too, of a nobleman," cried the old man in a trembling
voice; and holding out his hand, which shook under his emotion of
delight at hearing his beloved Rachel so praised, he seized that of his
nephew--

"Yes, Walter," he added, "you have by these words redeemed yourself, and
I will take them as an offering of your willingness to accept my legacy;
but, remember, I extort no promise, which might reduce the value of a
young woman's affection,--a gift to be accepted for its own sake."

"I am content," said Walter.

"And I am satisfied," added the uncle. "But here is wine on the table,"
he continued, as he turned his eye in the direction of a decanter of
good claret, just as if Rachel had, by her art of love, anticipated
what he wished at this moment. "Ah, Walter, if she shall watch your
wants as she has done mine, you will live to feel that you cannot want
_her_, and live; so fill up a glass for me, and one for yourself, that
we may drink to the happiness of the dear girl when, after I am dead,
she shall become your wedded wife."

"With all and sundry lands, tenements, hereditaments, and so forth,"
cried Walter, with a laugh which might pass as genuine, and which was
responded to by a chuckle from the dry throat of the uncle, which
certainly was so.

So the pledge was taken; and Walter Grierson went away, leaving the old
merchant-burgess as happy as any poor mortal creature can be when so
near the term of his departure. Such is our way of speaking; and yet we
are forced to admit, that at no period of life, however near the
ultimate, abating the advent of the great illumination which breaks like
a new dawn upon the internal sense of a favoured few, can you say that
the hold of this world upon the spirit is ever renounced. Whether the
young man was as happy, we may not venture to say; but this we might
surmise, even at this stage of our story, and in reference to the
classical proverb, that the bastard might be the beautiful Nisa, and the
lawful heir the ill-favoured Mopsus.

These things we may leave to development; and with a caution to the
reader not to be over-suspicious, we will follow our Nisa, Rachel
Grierson, as she proceeds from the house of the merchant-burgess up the
High Street, at a period of the evening of the same day when the shadows
of the tall lands wrapped the crowds of loiterers and passengers almost
in utter darkness; not that she chose this time for any purpose of
secrecy,--for she had no secret, except that solitary one which every
young woman has, and holds, up to the minute of conviction, that she is
engaged, after which it becomes a flame blown by her own breath,--but
simply because it suited the routine of her duties. Her night-cloak kept
her from the cold, and the panoply of her virtue secured her from
insult; so, threading her way amidst the throng, she arrived at the head
of the old winding street called the West Bow, where, at a projection a
little to the north of Major Weir's Entry, she mounted a narrow stair.
On arriving at a door on the third landing-place, she tapped gently, and
in obedience to a shrill voice, which cried "Come in," she lifted the
latch, and entered a small room, where, at a bench, sat a very peculiar
personage. This was no other than the famous Paul Bennett, an artist in
jewellery, who at that time excelled all his compeers for beauty of
design and exquisite refinement of minute elaboration. And this,
perhaps, a good judge of mankind might have augured of him; for while
his body was far below the middle size, his long thin fingers, tapering
to a point, seemed to be suitable instruments intended to serve a pair
of dark eyes so lustrous and sharp, that nothing within the point of the
beginning of infinitesimals might seem to escape them. Nor was his pale
face less suggestive of his peculiar faculties; for it was made up of
fine delicate features, harmonized into regularity, and so expressive,
that it seemed to change with every feeling of the moment, even as the
flitting moonbeams play on the face of a statue. In addition to these
peculiarities, his appearance was rendered the more striking, that,
working as he did under a strong reflected light, cast down immediately
before his face by a dark shade, the upper part of his person and a
circle on the bench were in bright relief, while the other parts of the
room were comparatively dark.

"Still at work, Paul," said Rachel, as she entered; "how long do you
intend to work to-night?"

"Till the idea becomes dim, and the sense waxes thick," replied he, as
he turned his eyes upon her.

"I have something to tell you," she continued, as she sat down on a
chair between him and the fire, if that could be called such which
consisted of some red cinders.

"Some other wonder," replied he; "another cropping out of the workings
of fate."

Words these, as coming from our little artist, which require some
explanation, to the effect that Paul was a philosopher, too, in his own
way. Early misfortunes, which mocked the resolutions of a will never
very strong, had played into a habit of thinking, and brought him to the
conviction that every movement or change in the moral world, not less
than in the physical, is the result of a cause which runs back through
endless generations to the first man, and even beyond him. Paul was, in
short, a fatalist; not of that kind which romance writers feign in order
to make the character work through a gloomy presentiment of his own
destiny, but merely a believer in a universal original decree, the
workings of which we never know until the effects are seen. A fatalist
of this kind almost every man is, less or more, in some mood or another;
only, to save himself from being a puppet, moved by springs or drawn by
strings, he generally contrives to except his _will_ from the scheme of
the iron-bound necessity. But Paul would permit of no such exception.
The will, with him, was merely the _motive in action_; and as he
compelled you to admit that no thought is, in man's experience, ever
called into being, only developed from prior conditions, and that, even
as to an idea, the doctrine _Nihil nisi ex ovo_ is true, and therefore
that no man can manufacture a motive, so he took a short way with the
maintainers of a moral liberty. This doctrine, so gloomy, so grand, yet
so terrible, was, to Paul, a conviction, which he almost made practical;
nay, he seemed to realize a kind of poetic pleasure from reveries, which
represented to him the universe, with the sun and the stars, and all
living creatures--walking, flying, swimming, or crawling--going through
their parts in the great melodrama of destiny, no one knowing how, or
why, or wherefore, yet every human being believing that he is master of
his actions, at the very moment that he might be conscious that his
belief is only a part of the great law of necessity. Then it seemed as
if this delusion in which men indulge, and are forced to indulge, was an
element of the farce introduced into the play, so as to relieve the mind
from the heavy burden of contemplating so terrible a theory.

"Something to tell me, Rachel!" continued he; "and what may that be?"

"My father has told me to-day," replied she, "that he is to leave me all
his fortune; and however grieved I may be at the thought of losing him,
I am glad to think that it may be in my power to be of service to you,
Paul, as my only relative on my mother's side."

"Service," muttered Paul to himself, while he looked into her face as
wistfully as a lover, which indeed he was, though in secret. "And what
is to become of Walter Grierson?" he asked.

"When he finds that the entire fortune is mine," replied she, "he will
propose to marry me; and this is what my father wishes to bring about by
putting the fortune in my power."

"So the events crop out from the long chain of causes," thought Paul;
"but who shall tell the final issue? Look here, Rachel," he continued,
as he laid his hand on a golden locket which lay before him in the shape
of a heart, "I have made this to order;" and as he spoke he touched a
spring, whereupon a lid opened, and up flew a pair of tiny doves, which,
with fluttering wings of gold and azure, immediately saluted each other
with their long bills, and piped a few notes in imitation of the cushat.
The touch of another spring immediately consigned them again to the
cavity of the heart,--a conceit altogether of such refined manufacture
and ingenuity of design, as to remind us of the saying of Cicero, that
there is an exquisiteness in art which never can be known till it is
seen fresh from the hand of genius.

"And who ordered that beautiful thing?" inquired Rachel.

"Walter Grierson," replied Paul, fixing his eyes upon her sorrowfully,
as if he felt oppressed by that gloomy theory of his.

Nor did he fail to perceive the effect his few words had produced upon
the heart of his cousin, where there was a fluttering very different
from that of cooing turtles; for the fate of her happiness seemed to her
to be suspended on the answer to a question, and that question she was
afraid to put.

"Be patient, and learn to hear," continued the little philosopher. "Ere
yet Cheops built the Pyramids, or Joshua commanded the sun to stand
still, yea, before the first sensation tingled in the first nerve made
out of the dust, the beginnings were laid of these events of this day
and hour, and, in particular, of that one which may well astonish you
and grieve you--viz., that the locket is intended for and inscribed to
Agnes Ainslie."

"Agnes Ainslie!" repeated Rachel, with parched lips and trembling
voice, "the daughter of Mr. John Ainslie, my father's agent, to whom I
am even now going, by Mr. Grierson's command, to request him to call to
morrow for the purpose of preparing the settlement!"

"A strange perplexity of events," said Paul. "But what is this mingling
of threads to the great web of the universe, which is eternally being
woven and unwoven, unaffected by the will of man? And then these small
issues, the loss of a fortune by a man, and that of a lover by a woman,
how mighty they are to the individual hearts and affections!"

"Mighty indeed," sobbed Rachel, who had loved Walter so long, and
rejoiced to have it in her power to bestow a fortune upon him, and now
found all her hopes dissolved into the ashes of grief and
disappointment. "Mighty indeed; and these thoughts of yours are so
dreary, how can one believe in them and live!"

"We are compelled to live," replied he, "even by that same decree which
binds us to the infinite chain. Were it not so, man would imitate the
day-flies, and die at sundown, that he might escape the dark night which
reveals to him the mystery of his being, whereat he trembles and sobs;
and all this is also in the decree."

"But if all these things are so," said Rachel, "what do you say of
happiness? Is there no joy in the world? Are not the birds happy, when
in the morning the woods resound with their song, and so, too, every
animal after its kind? Are not children joyful when the house rings with
their mirth? and have not men and women their pleasures of a thousand
kinds? nay, might not I myself have been one of the happiest of beings,
if, with the fortune which is to be left to me, that locket had been
engraved with the name of Rachel Grierson in place of Agnes Ainslie?"

"Yes," replied he, "happiness is in the decree as well; and," he added
with a smile, "it is always cropping out around us, but no one can
manufacture the article. If you wait for it, you may feel it; if you run
after it, you will probably not find it, because it is not ready by
those eternal laws which, at their beginning, involved its coming up at
a certain moment of long after-years. Then, at the best, pleasure and
pain are mere oscillations; but the first movement is downwards, for we
cry when we come into the world; and the last is also downwards, for we
groan when we go out of it. It is the old rhyme--

  'We scream when we're born,
    We groan when we're dying;
  And all that's between
    Is but laughing and crying.'"

A parade of philosophy all this which at another time might have had but
a small effect upon a youthful mind, but Rachel was in the meantime
occupied by looking at the inscription on the fatal toy; and we all know
that the feeling of the dominant idea of the moment assimilates to its
own hue the light or shade of all other ideas of a cognate kind; and
there is in this process also a selection and rejection whereby all
melancholy ideas cluster in the gloomy atmosphere, if we may so term it,
of the prevailing depression, and all joyful ones come together by the
attraction of a joyful thought; and so Rachel was impressed by views
which, if they had been modified by the comforting doctrines of
Christianity, might have enabled her at once to bear and to hope. Even
when Paul had finished, she was still gazing on the locket. A moment or
two more, and she laid it down with a deep sigh, saying, almost
involuntarily, "If my name had been there, I would not have repined at
the loss of all my expected fortune." Then, shaking hands with this
peculiar being, whom she could not but respect for his ingenuity, as
well as for a kindliness and sympathy which lay at the bottom of all his
abstract theories, she left him to his work, at which he would continue
till drowsiness made, as he said, the idea dim and the nerve thick.

Retracing her steps down the long dark stair, not a very efficient
medium for the removal of impressions so unlike the results of our
natural consciousness, Rachel Grierson found herself again among the
bustling crowds of the High Street. Nor could she view these busy people
in the light by which she saw them before entering the little dark room
of the philosopher. Though she did not know the classical word, she
looked upon them as so many _automata_; and the long chain of causes
came into her mind so vividly, that she found herself repeating the very
words of Paul. Then there was the reference to her own individual fate;
and was it not through the self-medium she saw all these people in so
strange a light?--with Hope's lamp dashed down at her feet, and
extinguished at the very moment when, by the communication of her
father, she thought she had the means of recruiting it with a store of
oil never to be exhausted till possession was accomplished. Still under
these impressions, she came to the door of Mr. Ainslie's house. There
were sounds of mirth and music coming from within; and so plastic is the
mind when under a deep and engrossing feeling, that she found no
difficulty in concentrating and modifying these sounds into joyful
articulations from the very mouths of Walter Grierson and Agnes Ainslie
themselves. Such are the moral echoes which respond to, because they are
formed by the suspicions of, disappointed love. No longer for the moment
were Paul's thoughts true. These happy beings inside were happy because
they had the hearts and the wills to enjoy; but she could draw no
conclusion that she herself could dispose her mind for the acceptance of
the world's pleasures also when her gloom should be away among the
shadows, and nature's innumerable enjoyments placed within her power.
Yet, withal, she could execute her commission, and upon the door being
opened, she could enter in the very face of that mirth of which she
fancied herself the victim.

On being shown into a parlour, she was presently waited upon by Mr.
Ainslie, who seemed to her to have come from the scene of enjoyment in
the drawing-room. She could even fancy that he eyed her as in some way
standing in the path of his daughter's expectations through Walter--a
fancy which of course would gain strength from the somewhat excited
manner in which he received the words of her commission, to the effect
that he would repair the next forenoon to the house of the
merchant-burgess, for the purpose of preparing his last will and
testament. The notary agreed to attend, and thus, still construing
appearances according to the assimilating bent of her mind, she departed
for home. After going through the routine of her domestic duties, and
caring for her invalid father, she retired to bed--that place of
so-called rest, where mortals chew the cud of the thoughts of the day or
of years. And how unlike the two processes, the physical and the
mental!--in the one is brought up for a second enjoyment the green grass
of nature, still fresh and palatable and nutritious; in the other, the
seared leaves of memory, feeding unavailing regrets, and filling the
microcosm with phantoms and dire shapes of evil, the types whereof never
had an existence in the outer world. Walter Grierson was lost to her for
ever, and the dire energies of fate, as described by the
artist-philosopher, seemed to hang over her, claiming, in harsh tones,
her will as a mere instrument in the working out of her own destiny.

Next day Mr. Ainslie called, and was for a long time closeted with Mr.
Grierson; but so careless was she now of the fortune about being left to
her, and which she was satisfied would not now be a means of showing her
affection for Walter, that she felt little interest in an affair which
otherwise might have appeared of so much importance to her. Her
attention was, notwithstanding, claimed by an incident. After the
interview, the notary visited Walter Grierson in his room, where the
young man seemed to have been waiting for him. In ordinary circumstances
it might have appeared strange that a man of business, bound to secrecy,
would divulge the terms of a will to any one, but far more that he
should take means for apprising a nephew that he was deprived of any
share of his uncle's means. Nor could she account for this interview on
any other supposition than that Mr. Ainslie knew of the intentions of
Walter towards his daughter, and that he took this early opportunity of
intimating that a disinherited young man, of the grade of a merchant's
clerk, would not, as a son-in-law, suit the expectations of an ambitious
writer. Yet out of this interview there came to, if not drawn by, her
fancy a glimmer of hope, inasmuch as, if the young man were rejected by
the notary in consequence of the ban of disinheritance, he would be left
to the attractions of her wealth; but this supposition involved the
assumption that her triumph would be over a mind that was mercenary, and
not over a heart predisposed to love; nay, her generosity revolted at
the thought of gratifying her long-concealed passion at the expense of
the sacrificed love of another. That other, too, had a better right to
the object than she herself, in so far that Agnes Ainslie's love had
been returned, while hers had not. But these speculations were to be
brought to the test by words and actions.

No sooner had Mr. Ainslie left than Rachel was visited in her private
parlour by Walter Grierson himself. He had seldom taken that liberty
before, for her secret passion had been ruled by a stern virtue. A
natural shyness, remote from coyness, demanded the conciliation of
respect, though ready at a moment to pass into the generosity of
confidence where she was certain of a return; but his presence before
her might have been accounted for by his appearance, which was that of
one whose excitement was only attempted to be overborne by an effort--a
result more mechanical than spiritual. His manner, not less than his
countenance, composed to gravity, was belied by the tremulous light of
his eye; and as he seized her hand and pressed it fervently, she could
feel that his trembled more than her own. Her manner was also
embarrassed, as it well might be, where so many conflicting feelings,
some revived from old memories, and some produced by the singular events
of the day and hour, agitated her frame.

"I am going to surprise you, cousin," he said, while he fixed his eye
upon her, as if to watch the effect of his words.

Rachel forgot for a moment the philosophy of Paul--why should one be
surprised when the thing that is to be is a result of a change in
something else as old as Aldebaran, let alone "the sun and the seven
stars?" She was indeed prepared for a surprise.

"It is just the old story of the heart," he resumed. "Our intercourse
began so early, and partook so much of that of mere relations, that I
never could tell when the mere social feeling gave place to another
which I need not mention. You know, Rachel, what I mean."

She was silent because she was distrustful, yet her heart beat bravely
in spite of her efforts; for was not this man the object of her love,
and is not love moved with an eloquence which makes reason ashamed of
her poor figures and modes?

"Yes," he went on, "I take it for granted that you know I am only
labouring towards a confession. Yes, dear heart, for years I have
considered you as the one sole object in all this world of fair visions
formed to make me happy. You see I cannot get out of the ordinary mode
of speech. The lover is fated to adjure, to praise, and to petition
always in the same set form of words; yet is not the confession enough?"

"So far," said she; "but I have never seen any evidence of all this;" as
if she wanted more in the same strain--sweet to the ear, though
distrusted by the reason.

"No more you have," he continued, "yet you know that love is often
suspicious of itself. I have watched with my eye your movements and
attitudes when you thought I was not observing you. My ear has followed
your voice through adjoining rooms when you thought I was listening to
other sounds. I have admired your words, without venturing the response
of admiration. Often I have wished to fold you in my arms when you
dreamt nothing of my inward thoughts. In short, Rachel, I have loved you
for years! Yes, I have enjoyed, or suffered, this gloating, yea,
delightful misery of the heart when it feeds upon its own secret
treasures, and trembles at the test which might dissolve the dream."

"And why this suppression and secrecy, Walter?" she asked. "How could
you know," she continued, as she held down her head, "that I would be
adverse to your wishes; nay, that I was not even in the same condition
as yourself?"

"Surely you do not mean to say that?" he cried, with something like the
rapture of one relieved by pleasure from pain. "I am not worthy even of
the suspicion that you speak according to the bidding of your heart.
Have I not watched your looks, and penetrated into your eyes, to
ascertain whether I might venture to know my fate, and yet never could
discover even the symptom of a return; and then was I not under a
conviction that your affections were engaged elsewhere?"

"Where?" asked Rachel, with a look of surprise.

"We are apparently drifting into confessions," responded he. "I may say
that I never could construe your visits to Paul, the ingenious artist,
merely as dictated by admiration of his wonderful genius."

"You do not know that Paul is the son of my mother's sister," replied
she. "Your uncle knows; but there may be reasons why you don't."

"Then I am relieved," was the lover's ejaculation, in a tone as if he
had got quit of a great burden.

"Yes, that is the truth," continued she; "but I also confess that I have
been attracted to his small dark workshop by the exquisite curiosities
of art on which he is so often engaged, and which, by occupying so much
of his time, keep him poor. It was only yesterday I saw on his bench a
locket which seems to transcend all his prior efforts."

The young man smiled and nodded. What could he mean? Why was he not
dumbfoundered?

"It is in the shape of a heart," she continued; "and upon touching a
spring there fly up two tiny figures, which, with fluttering wings, seem
to devour each other with kisses."

Words which forced themselves out of her in spite of her shyness, but
which she could not follow up by more than a side-look at her admirer.

"And upon which," said he, still smiling, "there is engraven the
inscription, 'From Walter Grierson to Agnes Ainslie.'"

"Yes," sighed Rachel, "the very words. I read them again and again, and
could scarcely believe my eyes."

"And well you might not," said he; "but your simple heart has never yet
informed you that love finds out strange inventions. I have been guilty
of a _ruse d'amour_, for which I beg your pardon. Knowing that you were
in the habit of visiting Paul's workroom, and seeing all the work of his
cunning fingers, I got him to make the locket out of a piece of gold I
got from my uncle, and the inscription was,"--and here he paused as if
to watch her expression,--"yes, designed, to quicken your affection for
me by awakening jealousy. I confess it. Agnes Ainslie was and is nothing
to me; and I used her name merely because I thought that you would view
her as a likely rival."

"Can all this be true?" muttered Rachel to herself, as the wish to
believe was pursued by the doubt which revolted against a departure from
all natural and rational actions.

Perhaps she was not versed in the ways of the world; but whether so or
not, the difference in effect would have been small; for what man,
beloved by a woman, ever yet pled his cause before his mistress without
other than a wise man for his client?

"And if it is your wish, my dear Rachel," he continued, "the inscription
shall be erased, and replaced by the name of Rachel Grierson. What say
you?"

His hand was held out for that acceptance which betokened consent. It
was accepted; yes, and more, His arms were next moment around her waist;
the heart of the yielding girl beat rarely, the wistful face was turned
up as even courting his eyes, the kiss was impressed;--why, more, Rachel
Grierson was surely Walter Grierson's, and he was hers, and surely to be
for ever in this world.

Rachel was now in that state of mind when the pleasantness of a
contemplated object excludes any inquiry whether it is true or false,
good or evil; and, in spite of Paul's fatalism, she was satisfied that
it was with Walter's own free will that he had done what he had done,
and said what he had said. The changed inscription on the locket, and
the delivery of that pledge to her, would complete the vowing of the
troth whereby she was to become his wife. Entirely ignorant of what had
taken place between the nephew and the uncle, by means of which she
might have been able to analyze his conduct, she had only the closeting
of Mr. Ainslie and Walter to suggest to her that the young man's sudden
declaration was the result of his knowledge that she was to be sole
heiress. The heart that is under the influence of love, as we have
hinted, is too credulous to the tongue of the lover to doubt the
sincerity of his professions. So all appeared well. The motives in
action were adequate to the will of the parties who used them; and as
she felt that her love was in the power of herself, so she could not
doubt that Walter's affection was the result of his approval of her good
qualities. Paul was now no longer an oracle. She would be pleased to
have an opportunity of showing him that his genius lay more in his
fingers than in his head. She had now, however, something else to do.
She went to her father's room. He was in one of those reveries to which,
as we have said, all the thinking of the extremely aged is reduced, when
the world and its figures of men and women, its strange oscillations and
changes, its passions, pleasures, and pains, seem as made remote by the
intervention of a long space--dim, shadowy, and ghost-like. It is one of
the stages through which the long-living must pass, and, like all the
other experiences of life, it is true only to one's self--it cannot be
communicated by words. "Old memories are spectres that do seem to chase
the soul out of the world,"--an old quotation which may be admitted
without embracing the metaphysical paradox, that "subjective thought is
the poison of life," or conceding the sharp sneer of the cynic--

  "Know, ye who for your pleasures gape,
  Man's life at best is but a scrape."

But the entry of his daughter brought the old man back to the margin of
real living existences. He held out his hand to her, and smiled in the
face that was dear to him, as if for a moment he rejoiced in the
experience of a feeling which connected him with breathing flesh and
blood. The object of her visit was soon explained. Whispering in his
ear, as if she were afraid of the sound of her own words, she told him
that Walter had promised her a love-token, and that she wished to give
him one in return, for which purpose she desired that she might be
permitted to use one or two old "Spanish ounces" that lay in the old
bureau.

"Yes, yes, dear child," said he. "Get a golden heart made of them. It
will be an emblem of the true heart you have to give him, and a pledge
to boot." Then, falling into one of his reveries, in which his mind
seemed occupied by some strong feeling--"I am thus reminded," he
continued, "of the old song you used to sing. There is a verse which I
hope will never be applicable to you as it was to me. I wish to hear it
for the last time," he added, with a languid smile, "in consideration of
the ounces."

Rachel knew the verse, because she had formerly noticed that it moved
some chord in his memory connected with an old love affair in which his
heart had been scathed; but she hesitated, for the meaning it conveyed
was dowie and ominous.

"Come, come," said he, "the fate will never be yours."

She complied, yet it was with a trembling voice. The tune is at best but
a sweet wail, and there was a misgiving of the heart which imparted the
thrilling effect of a gipsy's farewell--

       "If I had wist ere I had kisst,
       That true love was so ill to win,
  I'd have lock'd my heart in some secret part,
       And bound it with a silver pin."

"Now you may take the ounces," said he with a sigh. "The verse has more
meaning to me than you wot off, and surely, I hope, less to you."

And having thus gratified his whim--if that could be called a whim which
was a desire to have repeated to him a sentiment once to him, as he
hinted, a reality connected with the young heart when it was lusty, and
his pulse strong and thick with the blood of young life--- she went to
the bureau, and, taking three of the ounces, she left the room. In the
gloaming, she was again on her way to Paul's workshop, where she found
the artist, as usual, with his head bent over the bright desk on the
bench, engaged in some of his fanciful creations. Having seated herself
in the chair where she had so often sat, she commenced her story of the
circumstances of the day,--how Walter Grierson had acted and spoken to
her; how he had accounted for the locket and inscription; how he
intended to change the latter, and substitute her name for that of Agnes
Ainslie; how he had sought her love, and succeeded in his seeking; how
she was satisfied that he was sincere in his professions; and how she
had got the ounces from her father to make a love-token, to give in
exchange for Walter's. All which Paul listened to with deep attention,
now and then a faint smile passing over his delicate face, and followed
by the old pensive expression which was peculiar to one so deeply imbued
with the conviction that he was an organism in nature's plan, acted upon
to fulfil a fate of which he could know nothing.

"And so the powers work," said he, as he looked in the hopeful face of
his friend. "You are now happy, Rachel, because you believe what Walter
has said to you, and you have no power over your belief. But," he
continued, after a moment or two's silence, "I _may_ have power over
you, but not over myself. Walter Grierson has told you a falsehood, and
his motive for it is adequate to his nature. Since he gave me the order
for the locket, he has learnt that you are to inherit the whole fortune
of your father, on the condition that you are to marry him; and his love
for Agnes has been overborne by another feeling--the desire to possess
your wealth. Neither the one nor the other of these feelings could he
manufacture, or even modify, any more than he could charm the winds into
silence, or send Jove's bolt back to its thunder-cloud; and now, look
you, his game is this: if you succeed to the money, he will marry
without loving you; if not, he will marry the woman he loves--Agnes
Ainslie."

"You alarm me, Paul," said she, involuntarily holding forth her arms, as
if she would have stopped his speech.

"And you cannot help your alarm," said he calmly; "neither can I help
_not_ being alarmed by your alarm."

"Oh, you trifle with my feelings," she cried, with a kind of wail.
"What have all these strange thoughts to do with this situation in which
I am placed? Even though all things are pre-ordained, neither of us can
be absolved from doing our duty to God and ourselves."

"Absolved!" echoed Paul. "Why, Rachel, look you, we are forced to do it,
or not to do it, precisely as the motive culminates into action, but we
are not sensible of the compulsion; and so am I under the necessity to
tell you that Walter Grierson is playing false with you, according to
the inexorable law of his nature. It is not an hour yet since Agnes
Ainslie called here with some old trinkets, and requested me to make a
ring out of them; nor was I left without the means of understanding that
it was to be given in exchange for the locket."

"Is it possible?" cried she. "And can it be that I am deceived, and that
secret powers are working my ruin?"

"Not necessarily your ruin," said he; "no mortal knows the birth of the
next moment. The womb of fate is never empty; but no man shall dare to
say what is in it till the issue of every moment proves itself. Nor does
all this take away hope, for hope is in the ancient decree, like all the
other evolutions of time, including that hope's being deferred till the
heart grows sick; and," he added, as he looked sorrowfully into her
face, "that is the fate of mine, for, know you, Rachel Grierson, I have
long loved you, and have now seen that the riches you are to inherit put
you beyond the sphere of my ambition. I have often wished--pardon me
Rachel--yes, I have often wished you might be left a beggar, that I
might have the privilege of using the invention with which I am gifted
to astonish the world by my handiwork, and bring wealth to her I loved."

"I am surrounded on all sides by difficulties," sighed the young woman,
as she seemed to find herself in the mazes of an unseen destiny. As she
looked at her cousin, she thought that one of her evils was that the
capture of her affections so early by Walter had prevented her from
viewing Paul in any other light than that of an ingenious artist, and a
man of kindly sympathies, however much he was separated from mankind by
a theory of the world too esoteric for ordinary thought, and which yet,
at some time of man's life, forces its way amidst palpitations of fear
to every heart.

On reaching home she met there the notary, Mr. Ainslie, who informed
her, probably at the request of her father (for information of that kind
is seldom given gratuitously), that the will had been signed, and left
in the possession of the old man. Even this communication, so calculated
to shake from the heart so many of the sorrows of life, had no greater
effect upon her generous nature than to increase the responsibility of
fulfilling the condition upon which the inheritance was to be received
and held. If she had not been under the effect of an early prepossession
in favour of Walter, she might have doubted the sincerity of his
statement, as it came from his own mouth. Suspicion attached to every
word of it; but after the communication made by Paul, it was scarcely
possible for her to resist the conclusion that he had told her a
falsehood, and that he was aiming at the fortune, without the power or
the inclination to give her in return his love; nay, that he was
heartlessly sacrificing to his passion for gold two parties--the object
of his real love, and that of his feigned. Yet she did not resist that
conclusion; and so good an analyst was she of her own mind, that even
when in the very act of throwing away these suspicions of his honesty,
she knew in her soul that her love was in successful conflict with an
array of evidence establishing the fact which she disregarded. Then the
consciousness of this inability to cease loving the man whom she could
hardly doubt to be a liar, as well as heartless and mercenary, brought
up to her the strange theory of Paul. The motive which no man or woman
could make or even modify, was the prime spring as well as ruler of the
will, cropping out, to use his own words, from moral, if not also
physical causes, laid when God said, "Let there be light, and there was
light." A deeper thinker than most of her sex, she felt "the sublimity
in terror" of this view of God's ways with man. If she could not resist
the resolution to love Walter, how could he resist the love he bore to
another? The thought shook her to the heart; nor was she less pained
when she reflected on the hapless Paul, with his long-concealed
affection, so pure from the sordidness of a desire for money, that he
would have toiled for her under the flame of the midnight lamp,
continued into the light of the rising sun.

During the night the persistency of her resolution to remain by her past
affection was maintained; yet as it was still merely a persistency
implying the continuance of a foe ready to assert the old rights, she
was so far unhappy that she wanted that composure of mind which consists
in the absence of conflict among one's own thoughts.

In the morning she found the locket lying on her parlour table, with the
inscription changed from Agnes Ainslie to Rachel Grierson. She took it
up and fixed her eyes upon it. At one time she would have given the
world for it; now it attracted her and repelled her. It came from the
only man she loved; but another name had been on it, which ought, for
aught she could be sure of, to have been on it still. It might be the
pledge of affection, but it might also be the evidence of falsehood to
her and unfaithfulness to another. And then, as she traced the lines of
her name, she thought she could discover the signs of a tremulousness in
the hand that traced them. Amidst all these thoughts and conflicting
feelings, she could not help recurring to the circumstance that he had
not presented the locket with his own hands. She was unwilling to
indulge in an unfavourable construction; and perhaps the more so that it
so far pleased her as relieving her from the dilemma of accepting it
with more coldness than her love warranted, or more warmth than her
reason allowed. Nay, though she gloated over his image when she was
alone, she felt an undefined fear of meeting him. Might he not be
precipitated into some further defence or confession, which might
fortify suspicions still battling against her prepossessions, and
diminish her love? Nor was this disinclination towards personal
interviews confined to this day--it continued; and it seemed as if he
also wished his connection with her to stand in the meantime upon the
pledges and confessions already made. This she could also notice; but as
for rendering a true reason for it, she couldn't, even with the great
ability she possessed in construing conduct and character.

But meanwhile time was accumulating antagonistic forces which would
explode in a consummation. Her thoughts were to be occupied by another,
who claimed her affections and care by an appeal as powerful as it was
without guile. Her father was seized with paralysis. He was laid
speechless on the bed where she sat, a watchful and affectionate nurse,
ready to sacrifice sleep and peace and rest to the wants of him who, all
through her life, had been her friend and benefactor, and who had
provided for her future days at the expense of hopes entertained by his
legitimate heirs. For three days he had lain without speaking a word,
and Rachel could only guess his wants by mute signs. During all this
time her thoughts had scarcely glanced at Walter. He seemed anxious
about the condition of his uncle, calling repeatedly at the bedroom
door, and going away without entering. But his manner indicated no
affection, if it did not rather seem that he considered the old man had
done his worst against him, and that sorrow was not due from one he had
disinherited. Her affections were too much engrossed by her patient to
permit her thinking of what was being transacted in the outside world.
Yet, when she looked upon the face of the invalid, so pale and
motionless, where so long the shades of grief and the lights of joy had
chased each other, by the old decree of human destiny, the words of Paul
would occur to her. Was the death that was there impending the result of
a more necessary law than that which had ruled every other condition of
body or mind which had ever been experienced by the patient sufferer?
Then there came the question, Could Walter Grierson so regulate his
heart as to force it to love her in preference to Agnes Ainslie? Could
she, Rachel herself, so rule her feelings as to cease loving the man she
still suspected of falsehood and treachery? It was even while she was
thus ruminating over thoughts that made her tremble, that she observed,
on the third night, a change in her patient. He seemed to start by the
advent of some recollection. His body became restless, and he waved his
hand wildly, as if he wanted her to bend over him, to hear what he might
struggle to say. She immediately obeyed the sign. He fixed his eyes upon
her, made efforts to articulate, which resulted only in a thick, broken
gibberish. She could only catch one or two indistinct words, from which
it seemed that he wished to tell her _where she would find the will_;
but the precise phrase whereby he wished to indicate the deposit was
pronounced in such an imperfect manner that she could not make it out.
Strangely enough, yet still consistently with the generosity of her
character, she did not like to pain him by indicating that she did not
understand him. Nay, she nodded pleasantly, as if she wanted him to be
easy, under the satisfaction that he had succeeded in his efforts to
articulate. Yet so far was she from thinking of the importance of the
communication to herself, that she flattered him into the belief that,
as he could now speak so as to be understood, he was in the way of
improving. Alas for the goodness which is evil to the heart that
produces it!

              "There are of plants
  That die of too much generosity--
  Exhaling their sweet life in essences."

Paul would have said that this too was a cropping out of the old causal
strata. In two hours more, David Grierson was dead, and Rachel was left
to mourn for her parent and benefactor.

Now the issues were accumulating. A very short time only was allowed to
elapse before Mr. Ainslie, accompanied by Walter, came to seal up the
repositories; an operation which was gone through in a manner which
indicated that both of them thought they were locking up and making
secure that which would destroy their hopes. They seemed under the
conviction that the will was in the bureau; and if they had been men
otherwise than merely what, as the world goes, are called honest, they
might have abstracted the document; for the generous Rachel never even
looked at their proceedings, grieved as she was at the death of her
father. They were, at least, above that.

In a few days David Grierson was consigned to the earth, and, after the
funeral, Mr. Ainslie, accompanied by Walter, again attended to open the
repositories and read the testament. Rachel agreed to be present. When
the seals were removed, she was asked by the notary if she knew where
the document was deposited. She now felt the consequence of the easy
manner in which she had let slip the opportunity so dearly offered by
her father, of knowing the _locale_ of a writ in all respects so
important; for it cannot be doubted that, if she had persevered, she
might have succeeded in drawing out of him the word, articulated so as
that she might have comprehended it. She accordingly, yet without any
anticipation of danger, answered in the negative, whereupon the notary
and nephew, who seemed to be on the most friendly terms, set about a
search. Rachel remained. A whole hour was passed in the search; the will
was not yet found. Every drawer of the bureau was examined,--the
presses, the cabinets, the table-drawers, the trunks. And so another
hour passed--no will. Rachel began to get alarmed, and perhaps the more
that she saw upon the faces of the searchers an expression which she
could not comprehend. Their spirits seemed to have become elated as hers
became depressed; yet why should that have been, if Walter Grierson was
to be "true to his troth?"

"We need search no more," said Mr. Ainslie. "The will is not in the
house. I should say it is not in existence, and that Mr. Grierson,
having changed his mind, had destroyed it."

"Not so," replied Rachel, "for a few minutes before his death he tried
to tell me where it was, but the name of the place died away upon his
tongue, and I could not catch it."

"Neither can we catch the deed," said Walter, with a laugh which had a
spice of irony in it.

And so the search was given up. The two searchers left the house,
apparently in close conversation. Rachel sought her room and threw
herself on a sofa, oppressed by doubts and fears which she could not
very well explain. The manner of Walter appeared to her not to be that
of one who was pledged to marry her. Her mind ran rapidly back over
doubtful reminiscences which yielded no comfort to the heart; nay, she
felt that he had never been as a lover to her; and far less that day
when, as it appeared, he was to be master of his uncle's wealth. Yet
again comes the thought, Was he pledged to her? Ay, that was certain
enough; and then she was so little versed in the subtle ways of the
world, that she could not doubt of his being "true to his troth."

As soon as she recovered from her meditation, she sought again the
workroom of the artist, to whom she told the issue of the search for the
will. Paul looked at first greatly struck, but under his strange
philosophy he recovered that calmness which belongs to those of his way
of thinking.

"Have I not often preached to you, Rachel," said he, as he lay back on
his chair, "that all these things were fixed ere Sirius was born? Yea,"
he added, as a smile played amid the seriousness of his face, "ere yet
there was a space for the dog-star to wag his tail. The croppings out
will now come thick, and you will know whether you are to be a lady or a
beggar."

Rachel might have known that the consolation offered by fatalists is
only the recommendation of a resignation which, as fated itself, is
gloomy, if not awful, for it amounts to an annihilation of self, with
all hopes, energies, and resolutions. She heard his words, and forgave
him, if she did not believe him; for she knew that he was true in his
friendship, and benevolent in his feelings--parts these, too, as he
would have said, of the decree. She left him in a condition of sadness
for which she could not yet account, and the hues of her mind seemed to
be projected on all objects around her. She retired to rest; but she
could not banish from her mind that the realities of her condition
required to be read by the blue light of Paul's philosophy. It was far
in the morning before she fell asleep; and when nine came she felt
unrested. The servant came in to her and told her the hour. The
breakfast was ready; but Walter, who had not returned on the prior
night, was not as usual waiting for her. The announcement was ominously
in harmony with the thoughts she had tried to banish. She scarcely
touched the breakfast, and the day passed in expectation of Walter.
Night came, but it did not bring him. The next day passed in the same
way. People called to condole without knowing how much she stood in need
of condolence; but still no Walter came to redeem the pledge of his
love. Yet still she hoped; nor till an entire month had gone over her
head did she renounce her confidence that he would be "true to his
troth."

At the end of this period Paul advised her to take counsel. He told her
that the law had remedies for losses of deeds; and she accordingly
consulted a legal gentleman of the name of Cleghorn. The result was not
favourable. It appeared that Mr. Ainslie denied that there was any copy
or scroll of the will, through the means of which it might have been
"set up," by what is called a proving of the tenor. There was no hope
here, and by-and-by she saw advertised in the _Caledonian Mercury_ that
the furniture of the house was to be sold within a week. She was there
on mere tolerance; and now she had got a clear intimation to flit. As
for money or effects, she had none, except her wardrobe, for she never
thought of providing for an exigency which she was satisfied never would
occur. Again she applied to Paul, who, with her consent, went and took
for her a solitary room in the close we have already mentioned. It was
her intention to acquire a livelihood by means of her needle, at that
time almost the only resource for genteel poverty. Some articles of
furniture were got, principally by Paul; and there, two days before the
sale, she took up her residence. Nor did the kindness of Paul stop here.
He attended the sale, and, considerately judging that some articles
belonging to her father would be acceptable to her, he purchased, for a
small sum, the old bureau of which we have already spoken. The article
was removed to Rachel's room.

For a period of fifteen years did Rachel Grierson live in that room
plying her needle to obtain for her a subsistence. Her story, which came
to be known, procured her plenty of work; and the ten fingers, which
were sufficiently employed, sufficed for the wants of the
stomach,--small these wants, probably, in her who had heard of the
marriage of Walter with Agnes Ainslie; yea, she who could bear to hear
that intelligence might claim a right to be a pupil of Paul's school of
philosophy. Paul she indeed loved as a friend, but she never could bring
herself to the resolution of marrying the little artist. There was a
train of evils: the "croppings out" of her fate, as Paul called it, were
thick enough and to spare; for she fell into bad health, which was the
precursor of a fit of palsy, depriving her for ever of the power of
working for herself. Then it was that Paul's affection was shown more
clearly than ever. Day by day he brought her all the food she required;
but at length he himself was taken ill, and his absence was fatal. Pride
prevented her from making her necessity known to the neighbours, with
whom she had but little intercourse. We have told how she was found
dead; and when we say that Paul recovered to be present at her funeral,
we have only one fact more to state. It is this: Paul took the old
bureau home to his own little room, to keep as a memorial of the only
woman he ever loved. One day, when repairing the internal drawers, he
found in a hollow perpendicular slip, which looked like a broad beading,
a document which was thus entitled on the back:

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

BY

DAVID GRIERSON,

IN FAVOUR OF

RACHEL GRIERSON,

1776




LADY RAE.


During the time that Oliver Cromwell was in Edinburgh, a lady called one
day at his lodgings and solicited an interview. She was closely wrapped
up in a large and loose mantle, and deeply veiled. The former, however,
did not conceal a shape of singular elegance, nor mar the light and
graceful carriage of the wearer. Both were exceedingly striking; and if
the veil performed its duty more effectually than the mantle, by
completely hiding the countenance of the future Protector's fair
visitor, it was only to incite the imagination to invest that
countenance with the utmost beauty of which the "human face divine" is
susceptible. Nor would such creation of the fancy have surpassed the
truth, for the veiled one was indeed "fair to look upon."

On its being announced to Cromwell that a lady desired an interview with
him, he, in some surprise, demanded who and what she was. The servant
could not tell. She had declined to give her name, or to say what was
the purpose of her visit.

The Protector thought for a moment, and as he did so, kept gazing, with
a look of abstraction, in the face of his valet. At length--

"Admit her, Porson, admit her," he said. "The Lord sends his own
messengers in his own way; and if we deny them, He will deny us."

Porson, who was one of Cromwell's most pious soldiers--for he served in
the double capacity of warrior and valet--stroked his sleek hair down
over his solemn brow, and uttered a sonorous "amen" to the unconnected
and unintelligible observation of his master, who, it is well known,
dealt much in this extraordinary sort of jargon.

Having uttered his lugubrious amen, Porson withdrew, and in a few
minutes returned, conducting the lady, of whom we have spoken, into the
presence of Cromwell.

On entering the apartment, the former threw aside her veil, and
discovered a countenance of such cunning charms as moved the future
Protector to throw into his manner an air of unwonted gallantry.

At the lady's first entrance he was busy writing, and had merely thrown
down his pen when she appeared, without intending to carry his courtesy
any further; but he had no sooner caught a sight of the fair face of his
visitor, than, excited by an involuntary impulse, he rose from his chair
and advanced towards her, smiling and bowing most graciously; the
latter, however, being by no means remarkable either for its ease or its
elegance.

"Pray, madam," now said Cromwell, still looking the agreeable--so far as
his saturnine features would admit of such expression--"to what happy
circumstance am I indebted for the honour of this visit?"

"The circumstance, sir, that brings me here is by no means a happy one,"
replied the lady, in tones that thrilled even the iron nerves of Oliver
Cromwell. "I am Lady Rae, General; the wife of John Lord Rae, at present
a prisoner in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh for his adherence to the cause
of the late king."

"Ah, my Lady Rae, I am sorry for you--sorry for you indeed; but
doubtless you have found consolation in the same source whence your
afflictions have sprung. Truly may I reckon--indeed may I,
doubtless--that the Lord, who has seen fit to chastise you, has also
comforted you under this dispensation."

"None, Sir General, who seek the aid of the Almighty in a true spirit
ever seek that aid in vain," replied Lady Rae; "and I have been a
seeker, and have found; nor have I, I trust, been wanting on this
occasion in a due submission to his will."

"Truly, I hope not; indeed do I," replied Cromwell. "Then, what would ye
with me, fair lady? What would ye with one so feeble and humble as I am,
who am but as a tool, a mean instrument in the hand of the artificer?"
And the speaker assumed a look of the deepest humility.

"I dare not utter it! I dare not utter it, General!" exclaimed Lady Rae,
now giving way, for the first time, to that emotion which was agitating
her whole frame, although she had hitherto endeavoured, and not
unsuccessfully, to conceal it. "I dare not utter it," she said, "lest it
should bring death to my hopes; yet came I hither for no other purpose."

"Speak, lady, speak," said Cromwell. "What would'st thou with me?"

Lady Kae flung herself on her knees, and exclaimed, with upraised
countenance and streaming eyes--

"Save my husband, General! Restore him to liberty and to me; and thus,
on my knees, shall I daily offer up prayers to heaven for thy safety and
prosperity. Oh refuse me not!--refuse me not, General, as thou thyself
hopest for mercy from thy God in the hour of retribution!" And she
wildly grasped the knees of the republican commander.

Without saying a word, Cromwell gently disengaged himself from the fair
suppliant, and, turning his back upon her, stalked to the further end of
the apartment, seemingly much agitated.

On gaining the extremity of the room, Cromwell stood for two or three
minutes, still keeping his back to Lady Rae, with arms folded, and
drooping his head, as if musing deeply. At the expiry of this period, he
suddenly turned round, and advancing towards his fair visitor with quick
and hurried step, said--

"My Lady Rae, may the Lord direct me in this matter and in all others. I
have been communing with myself anent your petition; truly have I, but
see not that I can serve thee; I cannot indeed. If we would all walk in
the straight path, we had need to walk warily; for in this matter I
cannot help thee, seeing my Lord Rae is a State prisoner, and I have no
power over him; none, truly, none whatever. The law is strong, and may
not be trifled with. But I will consider, fair lady, indeed will I; I
will seek direction and counsel in the matter from on high. I will do so
this night; I will have this night to think of the matter, and thou wilt
call upon me at this hour to-morrow, and I will then see if the Lord
will vouchsafe me any light as to how I may assist thee and thy poor
husband; for on thy account I would do so if I could."

Confused, and all but wholly unintelligible, as was this address of
Cromwell's, Lady Rae perceived that it contained a gleam of comfort,
that a ray of hope-inspiring light, however feeble, played through its
obscurity; and, satisfied with this, she urged her suit no further, but,
with a thankful acceptance of the Parliamentary general's invitation to
her to wait upon him on the following day, she withdrew.

On Lady Rae issuing from Cromwell's lodgings, she stood in the street,
gazing around her for an instant, as if looking for some one whom she
had expected to find waiting her, but who was not at the moment in
sight. This was the case; but it was only for a moment that she was so
detained. She had glanced but two or three times around her, when she
was joined by a personage of very striking appearance. This was a huge
Highlander, considerably above six feet in stature, proportionably stout
and well made, and apparently of enormous strength. He was dressed in
the full costume of his country, and armed to the teeth. By his side
depended a tremendous claymore; in his belt were stuck a dagger and a
brace of pistols; and on his shoulder rested that formidable weapon
called a Lochaber axe.

The countenance of this tremendous personage was in keeping with his
other charms: it was manly, and decidedly handsome, but withal was
marked with an expression of fierceness that was appalling to look upon;
and was thus calculated, when associated with his gigantic figure, to
inspire at once admiration and fear.

As this formidable personage approached Lady Rae, he touched his bonnet
with an air of the most profound respect, and assumed a look and
attitude of devoted attention to her commands.

"I have seen him, John," said Lady Rae, addressing her Goliath of an
attendant, who was neither more nor less than a retainer of Lord Rae's,
but one who stood high in the estimation of both the former and the
latter for his fidelity, and, fierce as he looked, for the gentleness of
his nature. John M'Kay--for such was his name--was, in short, an
especial favourite of both Lord and Lady Rae, and was admitted to a
degree of confidence and familiarity that elevated him much above his
real condition. They were proud, too, of his superb figure, and
delighted to exhibit him in the full dress of his country, as a specimen
of the men which it produced. "I have seen him, John," said Lady Rae,
whose protector and attendant John always was when she went forth on
occasions of business of importance like the present.

"And what he'll say, my letty?" inquired John in a low and gentle tone,
and stopping to catch Lady Rae's communication.

"Not much that is quite satisfactory, John. He speaks in a strange
style, but I think there is ground of hope. He did not altogether refuse
the prayer of my petition, but bade me call upon him again to-morrow."

John looked grave, but made no reply. His lady walked on, and he
followed at a respectful distance.

The former now directed her steps to a locality in the city with which
she was but too familiar, and which she had had occasion of late but too
often to frequent. This was the Tolbooth--the place of her husband's
confinement.

On reaching the outer entrance to the jail, the low half-door, thickly
studded with huge-headed nails, by which it was temporarily secured
during the day, was immediately thrown open for her admission by the
turnkey--a little crusty-looking personage in a fur cap--who had been
leaning over it, listlessly looking around him, on her ladyship's
approach. As the latter entered the prison door, the former stood to one
side, doffed his little fur cap, and respectfully wished her ladyship a
good morning.

"How are you to-day, James?" said Lady Rae in kindly tones; "and how is
my lord?"

"Quite well, my lady, quite well," replied the little turnkey, extremely
proud, seemingly, of the condescension of her ladyship. The latter
passed on, and commenced threading her way through the tortuous but
well-known passages which led to her husband's prison-room. John M'Kay
followed his mistress into the jail, previously leaving his arms at the
door--a condition to which he had always to submit before gaining
admission. Having denuded himself of his weapons, John also passed on,
but not before he had shaken his fist ominously in the face of the
little jailer. This was John's constant practice every time he entered
the prison; and, simple as the act was, it had a good deal of meaning.
It meant, in the first place, that John associated the misfortune of his
master's confinement with the little turnkey's employment; that he
considered him as aiding and abetting in the same. It further meant,
that if it were not for one thing more than another, or, as John himself
would have expressed it, "for todder things more nor ones," he would
have brought his Lochaber axe and the turnkey's head into more intimate
contact.

In the meantime, Lady Rae having ascended several flights of dark and
narrow stairs, and traversed several passages of a similar description,
had arrived at a particular door, on either side of which stood a
grenadier, with shouldered musket and bayonet fixed. They were the
guards placed upon her husband, who occupied the apartment which they
sentinelled.

The soldiers, who had orders to admit her ladyship and attendant to the
prisoner at any time between the hours of nine in the morning and seven
at night, offered no hindrance to her approaching the door and rapping
for admittance. This she now did; and the "Who's there?" of the captive
was replied to in a powerfully Celtic accent by John M'Kay, with--"My
Letty Rae, my lort." The door instantly flew open, and its inmate came
forth, with a smiling and delighted countenance, to receive his
beautiful and faithful wife.

In the meantime, John M'Kay took his station on the outside of the
door--a more friendly guard over the inmates of the apartment to which
it conducted than those who stood on either side of him. Here the same
feeling which had dictated John's significant hint to the turnkey below,
suggested his general bearing and particular manner to the two soldiers
now beside him.

Maintaining a profound and contemptuous silence, he strutted up and down
the passage--without going, however, more than two or three yards either
way--in front of the door of his lordship's apartment, keeping his huge
form proudly erect, as he thus paced the short walk to which he had
limited himself, and casting, every now and then, a look of fierce
defiance on the appalled soldiers, who looked with fear and dread on the
chafed lion with whom they found themselves thus unpleasantly caged, and
who seemed every moment as if he would spring upon and tear them to
pieces; and, in truth, little provocation would it have taken to have
brought John M'Kay's huge fists into play about their heads. There can
be no doubt that there was nothing at that moment which would have given
John more satisfaction than their affording him an excuse for attacking
them. This, however, the soldiers carefully avoided; and, not content
with refraining from giving the slightest offence, either in word, look,
or deed, endeavoured to conciliate John by an attempt to lead him into
friendly conversation. But the attempt was in vain. Their advances were
all repelled, either with silent contempt or with a gruff uncourteous
response. A specimen of the conversation which did take place between
M'Kay and the guards may be given:--

"Delightful day, friend!" said one of the soldiers.

"S'pose it is!" replied John sternly, and continuing his walk.

A pause.

"Anything new in the town to-day?" at length said the other soldier.

"S'pose something new every tay!" replied John gruffly.

"Ay, ay, I dare say; but have _you_ anything new to tell us?"

"Maype I have," said John, with a grim smile.

"What is it?"

"Tat I'll knock your tam thick head against tat wall if you'll pe botter
me wi' any more o' your tam nonsense. Tat's news for you!" and John gave
one of those peculiar Celtic grunts which no combination of letters can
express. "And you, you scarecrow-looking rascal," he continued,
addressing the other sentinel, "if you'll spoke anoder word, I'll cram
my sporran doon your dam troat."

Having delivered himself of these friendly addresses, John resumed his
march, with additional pride of step and bearing. In a minute after, he
was summoned into Lord Rae's apartment, where he remained until Lady Rae
left the prison, which she did in a short time afterwards.

It was with a beating heart and anxious mind that Lady Rae wended her
way, on the following day--attended, as usual, by her gigantic
serving-man--to the lodgings of Oliver Cromwell. On reaching the house,
M'Kay took his station, as on a former occasion, on the outside, while
her ladyship advanced towards the door, within which she speedily
disappeared, her admittance having been more prompt on the present visit
than the former.

In an instant after, Lady Rae was again in the presence of Oliver
Cromwell. As on the former occasion, he was employed in writing when she
entered, and as on that occasion, so also he threw down his pen, and
rose to receive her.

"Anent this matter of yours, my lady," began Cromwell abruptly, and
without any previous salutation, although he looked all civility and
kindness, "I really hardly know what to say; truly do I not; but the
Lord directs all, and He will guide us in this thing also."

"I trust so!" interrupted Lady Rae, meekly.

"Yes," resumed the future Protector of England; "for we are but weak
creatures, short-sighted and erring. But indeed, as I told you before,
my lady, your husband is a State prisoner; truly is he, and therefore
may I not interfere with him. I cannot; I have not the power. Yet would
I serve thee if I could; truly would I with great pleasure. But these,
you see, are strange times, in which all men must walk warily; for we
are beset with enemies, with traitors--deceivers on all sides, men who
fear not the Lord. Yet, for this matter of yours, my Lady Rae, I will
tell you: I cannot take your husband from prison; it would be unseemly
in the sight of all God-fearing men; but truly, if you could in any ways
manage to get his lordship once without the prison walls, I would take
upon me to prevent his being further troubled. He should have a
protection under my hand; truly he should, although it might bring me to
some odium with my friends. But he should have it, nevertheless, out of
my respect for you, my lady. Now go, go, my lady; I may say no more on
the subject. Go, try and fall on some means of getting thy husband
without the walls of his prison; this done, come instantly to me, and
thou shalt have a protection for him under my hand; indeed thou shalt."

To Lady Rae, this proposal was a grievous disappointment. It contained
an arrangement which she had never contemplated, and which seemed as
impracticable as it was strange; yet she saw it was all she had to
expect, and that whatever might be the result, she must be content with
the extent of interference on her husband's behalf, which was included
in the singular measures suggested by Cromwell.

Impressed with this conviction, Lady Rae thanked him for his kindness,
said she would endeavour to get her husband without the prison gates by
some means or other, and would then again wait upon him for the
protection he was so generous as to offer.

"Do so, my lady, do so," said Cromwell, escorting her ladyship to the
door with an air of great gallantry; "and may the Lord have thee in his
holy keeping."

Lady Rae turned round, again thanked the general, curtseyed, and
withdrew.

On reaching the street, her ladyship was instantly joined by her
faithful attendant M'Kay, who had been waiting with the greatest anxiety
and impatience for her return; for to him his master's life and liberty
were dearer far than his own, and he well knew that both were much in
the power of the extraordinary man on whom his lady was now waiting.

On the first glance which he obtained of his mistress's countenance,
John saw, with a feeling of disappointment that lengthened his own
several inches, that the interview had not been a satisfactory one. His
native sense of politeness, however, and of the deference due to his
mistress, prevented him making any inquiries as to what had passed until
she should herself choose to communicate with him on the subject. For
such communication, however, he had longer to wait than usual; for, lost
in thought and depressed with disappointment, Lady Rae walked on a good
way without taking any notice whatever of her attendant, who was
following at a distance of several yards. At length she suddenly
stopped, but without turning round. This John knew to be the signal for
him to advance. He accordingly did so, and, touching his bonnet, waited
for the communication which it promised.

"I am afraid, John," now said Lady Rae--"I am afraid we shall be
disappointed, after all. The general has made the strangest proposal you
ever heard. He says that he cannot, without compromising himself, or to
that effect, liberate his lordship from jail; but that if he were once
out--that is, if he could be got out by any means--he would save him
from being further troubled, and would grant him a protection under his
own hand. But how on earth are we to get him out? It is impossible.
These two guards at the door, besides other difficulties, render it
altogether impracticable. I know not what is to be done."

It was some seconds before M'Kay made any reply. At length--

"I'll no think ta difficulty fery crate, after all, my letty," replied
John. "There's shust ta bodachan at ta dore, I could put in my sporran,
and ta twa soger."

"Yes, John; the first you might perhaps manage," said Lady Rae, smiling,
and glancing unconsciously at the huge figure of her attendant, which
presented so striking a contrast to that of the little, slim, crusty
turnkey; "but the two soldiers--"

"Whoich," exclaimed John contemptuously; "if's no far prettier men than
was there yesterday, it'll no trouble me much to manage them too, my
letty. A wee bit clamsheuchar wi' my Lochaper axe, or a brog wi' my
skean-dhu, will make them quate aneuch, my letty. Tat's but a small
shob."

"John, John, no violence, no violence!" exclaimed Lady Rae, in great
alarm at the sanguinary view of the process for her husband's liberation
which John had taken. "No violence. If his lordship's liberation be
attempted at all, there must be no violence; at least none to the
shedding of blood, or to the inflicting the smallest injury on any one.
The idea is horrible; and, if acted on, would only make matters worse.
Your own life, John, would be the forfeit of such an atrocious
proceeding."

"Foich, a figs for tat, my letty, beggin' your lettyship's pardon,"
replied John, a good deal disappointed at the peaceful tone of his
mistress, and at the loss of an opportunity, such as he had long
desired, of taking vengeance on his master's guards and jailers. "Foich,
a figs for tat, my letty, beggin' your lettyship's pardon," he said. "I
could teuk to the hills in a moment's notice, and see who'll catch John
M'Kay then."

"Well, well, perhaps, John, you might, but you must speak no more of
violence; I charge you, speak no more of it. We will, in the meantime,
go to his lordship and submit the matter to him, and be guided
thereafter by his advice."

Having said this, Lady Rae directed her steps to the jail, and, closely
followed by M'Kay, was soon after in the apartment of the prisoner.

Lord Rae having been apprised by his lady of the result of her interview
with Cromwell, a secret consultation between the two, which lasted
nearly an hour, ensued.

During this consultation, many different plans for effecting the
liberation of the prisoner were suggested, and, after being duly
weighed, abandoned as impracticable. One at length, however, was
adopted, and this one was proposed by M'Kay; it was characteristic of
the man, and came as close in its nature to his original one as he
durst presume upon.

This plan, which was a simple enough one, was to seize the two guards at
the outside of the door, and to hold them fast until Lord Rae should
have rushed past them and got out of the prison. The turnkey at the
outer door, who, as has been already said, was a little slender man, his
lordship was to seize and throw down, and then get over the little
half-door, which was under his guardianship, the best way he could. A
row of short, sharp pikes, however, with which it was fenced on its
upper edge, rendered this a formidable difficulty; but it was thought
that it might, to speak literally, be got over by the aid of a long form
which stood on one side of the passage of the jail, for the
accommodation of visitors.

All this trouble a touch of the key would have saved; but this the
little man always carried in his pocket, never allowing it to remain in
the lock an instant, however frequent or numerous his visitors might be.

The securing of the two guards at the prisoner's door, by far the most
serious part of the business, M'Kay took upon himself, and with a degree
of confidence that sufficiently showed how well he was aware of his own
surpassing strength.

This plan of proceedings arranged, it was resolved that it should be put
in execution that very afternoon. On that afternoon, accordingly, John
M'Kay again appeared at the jail door, demanding admittance to his
master. The door was immediately thrown open to him by the little
turnkey, whom he now for the first time addressed in a friendly tone.

The same change of manner marked his salutation to the guards at the
door of his master's apartment. To these he spoke in the most civil and
obliging terms possible. The men, who had often winced under his savage
growls and fierce looks, wondered at the change, but were glad enough to
meet with it in place of his former ferocity.

John, after talking for a few minutes with the sentinels, went into his
lordship's room. The latter was dressed, and ready for the bold
proceeding about to be adopted. "Think you you can manage them, John?"
said his lordship in a whisper, after the door had been secured in the
inside.

"Pooch, a dizzen o' them, my lort!" replied M'Kay in the same
under-tone. "It's twa bits o' shachlin' podies no wors speakin' aboot."

"But they are armed, John--they have guns and bayonets; and the former
are loaded."

"Pooch, their guns! what'll sicknify their guns, my lort, when I'll have
cot a hold o' the craturs themsels in my hants?" and he held out his
enormous brown paws as if to certify their power. "I'll crush the podies
like a mussel shells."

"No violence, John, remember," said Lord Rae energetically, but smiling
as he spoke,--"that is, to the extent of doing the men any, the smallest
personal injury. Remember now, John; do otherwise," continued his
lordship in a more severe tone, "and you forfeit my favour and esteem
for ever. Mark, John, besides," added his lordship, who seemed most
anxious on the point which he was now pressing on M'Kay's consideration,
"your doing any injury to these men would be destruction to me; for,
under such circumstances, the general would not grant me a protection
after I was out, and my case would otherwise be rendered infinitely
worse and more hopeless than it is. Now, remember all this, John, and do
the men no personal injury, I charge you."

John's face reddened a little at the earnestness with which these
injunctions were delivered, and probably he thought they indicated
something like degeneracy in his chief; but he promised compliance with
his commands; and, to render his obedience more certain, by lessening
the temptation to infringe them, he denuded himself of a concealed dirk,
which he always carried about him, over and above the arms he openly
wore. Of this proceeding, which was voluntary on M'Kay's part, his
master highly approved, but, smiling, said--

"You have still your fists, John, nearly as dangerous weapons as that
you have just laid aside; but I hope you will use them sparingly."

John smiled, and promised he would.

In a few minutes afterwards M'Kay came forth from Lord Rae's apartment
to perform the daring feat of securing two armed men by the mere force
of physical strength; for he was now without weapon of any kind. When he
came out, however, it was with an appearance of the most friendly
feeling towards the soldiers. He came out smiling graciously, and
entered into familiar chat with the men, alleging that he came to put
off the time till his master had written a letter which he was to
deliver to a person in town.

Thrown off their guard by M'Kay's jocular and cordial manner, the
soldiers grounded their muskets, and began to enter in earnest into the
conversation which he was promoting. M'Kay, in the meantime, was
watching his opportunity to seize them; but this, as it was necessary he
should be placed, with regard to them, so as to have one on either side
of him, that he might grasp both at the same instant, he did not obtain
for some time.

By dint, however, of some exceedingly cautious and wary manoeuvring,
M'Kay at length found himself in a position favourable to his meditated
proceedings. On doing so, he, with the speed and force of lightning,
darted an arm out on either side of him, seized a soldier by the breast
with each hand, and with as much ease as a powerful dog could turn over
a kitten, laid them both gently on their backs on the floor of the
passage, where he held them extended at full length, and immovable in
his tremendous grasp, till he felt assured that Lord Rae had cleared the
prison. This the latter effected with the most perfect success. The
moment M'Kay seized the soldiers--an act of which Lord Rae was apprised
by the former's calling out, "Noo, noo, my lort"--he rushed out, ran
along the passage, descended the stair in three or four leaps, came upon
the little turnkey unawares, as he was looking over the half-door of the
prison entrance--his sole occupation during three-fourths of the
day--seized him by the neck of the coat behind, laid him down, as M'Kay
had done by the soldiers, at his full length--no great length after
all--on the floor; drew the form to the door, placed it over the little
turnkey in such a way as to prevent his rising, jumped on it, leapt into
the street at one bound, and instantly disappeared. All this was done in
the tenth part of the time that has been taken to relate it. It was, in
truth, the work of but a moment.

On being satisfied that Lord Rae had made his escape--

"Noo, lads, ye may got up," said M'Kay, loosening his hold of the men,
and starting himself to his feet. "Ta burd's flown; but ye may look
after ta cage, and see tat no more o' your canaries got away."

Freed from the powerful grasp which had hitherto pinned them to the
floor, the soldiers sprang to their feet, and endeavoured to get hold of
their muskets. Seeing this, M'Kay again seized them, and again threw
them to the floor; but on this occasion it was merely to show the power
he had over them, if they should still have any doubt of it.

"Noo, lads, I'll tell you what it is," said M'Kay, addressing the
prostrate soldiers--"if you'll behave yoursels desenly, and no be
botherin' me wi' ony more o' your tarn nonsense, I'll aloo you to make
me your prisoner; for I'm no intending to run away; I'll kive myself up
to save your hides, and take my shance of ta law for what I'll do. Tat's
my mind of it, lads. If you like to acree to it, goot and well; if not,
I will knock your two heads togidder, till your prains go into smash."

But too happy to accept of such terms, the soldiers at once assented to
them; and on their doing so, were permitted once more to resume their
legs, when M'Kay peaceably yielded himself their prisoner. The gigantic
Highlander could easily have effected his own escape; but he could not
have done so without having recourse to that violence which had been so
anxiously deprecated by both his master and mistress. Without inflicting
some mortal injury on the soldiers, he could not have prevented them
from pursuing him when he had fled, and probably firing on him as he did
so. All this, therefore, had been provided for by the arrangements
previously agreed upon by Lord Rae and his retainer. By these it was
settled, that he should, on the former's making his escape, peaceably
yield himself up to "underlie the law," in a reliance on the friendly
disposition of Cromwell towards the fugitive, which, it was not doubted,
would be exerted in behalf of his servant. Such proceeding, it was
thought too, would bring Lord Rae's case sooner to issue; and be, with
regard to the law, as it were, throwing a bone in the dog's way to
arrest his attention, and interrupt his pursuit of the original and more
important object of his vengeance.

On delivering himself up, M'Kay was immediately placed in confinement,
and shortly after brought to trial, for aiding and abetting in the
escape of a State prisoner. The trial was a very brief one; for the
facts were easily established, and sentence was about to be passed on
the prisoner, when a stir suddenly arose at the court door. The
presiding judge paused; the stir increased. In the next instant it was
hushed; and in that instant Cromwell entered the court. On advancing a
pace or two within the apartment, he took off his hat, bowed
respectfully to the judges, and proceeding onwards, finally ascended the
bench and took his seat beside them.

When a man feels himself master, he need be under no great ceremony;
neither need he trouble himself much about forms or rules which regulate
the conduct of inferiors. Cromwell, on this occasion, got up in a few
minutes after he had taken his place, and delivered to the court a long,
and, after his usual fashion, obscure and unconnected oration in favour
of the prisoner at the bar. The chief ground, however, on which he
rested his defence and exculpation of M'Kay, was the fidelity to his
master, which the crime with which he was charge implied, and the worse
effect to the cause of morality than good to the political interests of
the State, which the infliction of any punishment in such case would
produce. "If," concluded Cromwell, "fidelity to a master is to be
punished as a crime, where shall we look for honest servants?"

The reasoning of Cromwell, even had it been less cogent than it was,
could not be but convincin to those who knew of and dreaded his power.
He was listened to with the most profound attention, and the justness
of his arguments and force of his eloquence acknowledged by the
acquittal of the prisoner.

As M'Kay rose from his seat at the bar to leave the court, Cromwell eyed
him attentively for some seconds, and, struck with his prodigious size
and fierce aspect, whispered to one of the judges near him, "May the
Lord keep me from the devil's and _that_ man's grasp."

We have now only to add, that the protection promised by Cromwell to
Lady Rae for her husband was duly made out, and delivered to her. We
need not say that it was found to be a perfectly efficient document.




THE DIAMOND EYES.


When I entered Edinburgh College the students were tolerably free from
any of those clubs or parties into which some factitious subject--often
a whim--divides them. In the prior year the spirit of wager had seized a
great number of them with the harpy talons of the demon of gambling,
giving rise to consequences prejudicial to their morals, as well as to
their studies. A great deal of money among the richer of them changed
hands upon the result of bets, often the most frivolous, if not
altogether ridiculous. Now, we are not to say that, abstracted from the
love of money, the act of betting is unqualifiedly bad, if rather we may
not be able to say something for it, insomuch as it sometimes brings
out, and stamps ingenuity or sagacity, while it represses and chastises
arrogance. But the practice at the College at that time was actually
wild. They sought out subjects; the aye and the no of ordinary converse
was followed by the gauntlet, which was taken up on the instant; and
they even had an umpire in the club, a respectable young man of the name
of Hawley, who was too wise to bet himself, but who was pleased with the
honour of being privileged to decide the bets of the others.

In the heat of this wild enthusiasm, it happened that two of these
youths, one called Henry Dewhurst, and the other Frank Hamilton, were
walking on the jetty which runs out from the harbour of Leith a full
mile into the Forth. Dewhurst was the son of a West India planter, who
allowed him L300 a year, every penny of which was spent in paying only a
part of his bills long before the year was done; one of which bills I
had an opportunity of seeing, to my wonder--how any one could eat L15
worth of tarts and sweetmeats in the course of not many months! Hamilton
was the son of a west country proprietor, and enjoyed the privilege of
using, to his ruin, a yearly allowance of L250. In the midst of their
sauntering they hailed two of their friends,--one Campbell, a sworn
companion of the young West Indian; and the other Cameron, as closely
allied to Hamilton;--all the four being, as the saying goes, "birds of a
feather," tossing their wings in the gale of sprees, and not always
sleeping in their own nests at night.

As they approached the end of the jetty, they met a lad who had wounded
one of these large gulls called Tom Norries,--a beautiful creature, with
its fine lead-coloured wings and charming snow-white breast, and eye
like a diamond.

"I will give you a shilling for the bird," said Dewhurst.

"But what are you to do with it?" replied the lad. "I would not like it
to be killed. It is only hurt in the wing; and I will get half-a-crown
for it from one who has a garden to keep it in."

"No, no," said Dewhurst, "I'll not kill it. Here's your half-crown."

And the bargain was struck. Dewhurst, with the struggling bird in his
hand, went down, followed by his friends, one of the side stairs to the
stone rampart, by which the jetty is defended on the east. There they
sat down. The sun was throwing a blaze of glory over a sea which repaid
the gift with a liquid splendour scarcely inferior to his of fire; and
the companions of the bird, swirling in the clear air, seemed to be
attracted by the sharp cries of the prisoner; but all its efforts were
vain to gratify its love of liberty and their yearning. It was in the
hands of those who had neither pity for its sufferings, consideration
for the lessons it carried in its structure, nor taste for estimating
its beauties. One of another kind of students might have detected
adaptations in the structure of that creature sufficient to have raised
his thoughts to the great Author of design and the source of all
beauty,--that small and light body, capable of being suspended for a
great length of time in the air by those broad wings, so that, as a bird
of prey, it should watch for its food without the aid of a perch; the
feathers, supplied by an unctuous substance, to enable them to throw off
the water and keep the body dry; the web-feet for swimming; and the long
legs, which it uses as a kind of stay, by turning them towards the head
when it bends the neck, to apply the beak--that beak, too, so admirably
formed--for taking up entire, or perforating the backs of the silly
fishes that gambol too near the surface. Ay, even in these fishes,
which, venturing too far from their natural depths, and becoming amorous
of the sun, and playful in their escapades, he might see the symbol of
man himself, who, when he leaves the paths of prudence, and gets
top-light with pleasure, is ready, in every culmination of his delirium,
to be caught by a waiting retribution. Ah! but our student, who held the
bird, was not incurious--only cold and cruel in his curiosity.

"Hamilton," said he, "that bird could still swim on the surface of that
sea, though deprived of every feather on its body."

"I deny it," replied Hamilton. "It will not swim five minutes,"

"What do you bet?"--- The old watchword.

"Five pounds."

"Done."

And getting Campbell to hold the beak, which the bird was using with all
its vigour, he grasped its legs and wings together by his left hand, and
began to tear from the tender living skin the feathers. Every handful
showed the quivering flesh, and was followed by spouts of blood; nor did
he seem to care--although the more carefully the flaying operation was
performed, the better chance he had of carrying his wager--whether he
brought away with the torn tips portions of the skin. The writhing of
the tortured creature was rather an appeal to his deliberate cruelty,
and the shrill scream only quickened the process. The back finished and
bloody, the belly, snow-white and beautiful, was turned up, the feathers
torn away, the breast laid bare, and one wing after the other stript of
every pinion. Nothing in the shape of feathers, in short, was left,
except the covering of the head, which resisted his fingers.

"There now is Plato's definition of a man personified," said he as he
laughed.

During all this time a lady looked over the parapet. Dewhurst caught her
eye red with anger, but he only laughed the louder.

"Now, Hamilton," said he, "you take the bird, and we mount to the
platform. When I give the sign, fling him in, and we shall see how the
bet goes."

They accordingly mounted, and the lady turning her back, as if she had
been unable to bear longer the sight of so much cold cruelty, directed
her vision towards the west; but a little boy, who was along with her,
seemed to watch the operation.

"Now," cried Dewhurst.

And Hamilton thiew the bird into the sea. The creature, still
vivacious, true to its old instinct, spread out its bare wings in an
attempt to fly, but it was in vain; down it came sinking below the
surface, but rising quickly again to lash, with the bleeding wings, the
water on which it used to swim so lightly and elegantly. The struggle
between the effort to fly and the tendency to sink was continued for
several minutes, its screams bringing closer around it many of its
compeers, who looked as if with pity and amazement on the suffering
victim, known to them now only by the well-known cry of distress.

Meanwhile these curious students of natural history stood looking over
the rail, watch in hand; and the little boy, an important personage in
our story, also intent upon the experiment, cried out two solitary
words, very simple ones too, and yet fraught with a strange import, as
regards consequences, that could not be gathered from them.

"See, ma'."

But the lady to whom they were addressed had still her head turned away.

"Six minutes," cried Dewhurst. "The time is up, and the bird is only
this instant down. I win."

"I admit it," responded Hamilton, evidently disconcerted. "I shall pay
you to-night at Stewart's, at seven o'clock. I got my remittance
yesterday."

"Content," said Dewhurst, "That's the third bet I have gained off you
within a fortnight,"

Hamilton bit his lip and scowled--- an act which only roused against him
the raillery of his comrades, who were now collected in a circle, and
symptoms of anger of a more expressive kind showed themselves.

"You have been at this trade of flaying before," said he, looking
sternly at Dewhurst. "Your father, like the other West Indians, is well
acquainted with the flaying of negroes, and you have been following his
example with the Jamaica lungies. But, by G--d," he added, getting
enraged, "next time we cross the rapiers of a bet, it shall be for ten
times five."

"This instant," answered Dewhurst, on whom the imputations about his
father acted as a fiery stimulant.

"Seek your subject," responded Hamilton.

"You see that lady there?" continued the West Indian. "She has a boy
with her."

"I do."

"The mother of the boy, or not?" continued Dewhurst. "I say she is; and,
in place of fifty, I'll make it a hundred."

"Have you ever seen them before?" asked Hamilton, trying to be calm.

"Never. I know no more of them than you do; and, besides, I give you
your choice of mother, or not mother."

"Ha! ha!" laughed Campbell, as he looked intently at Dewhurst. "Are you
mad, Dewhurst? Has your last triumph blinded you? The woman is too old
by ten years."

Hamilton turned round without saying a word, and drew cautiously near
the lady, whose eyes, as she stood looking at a foreign ship coming in,
were still scornful, and it seemed as if she waited until some gentleman
came up to inform him of the cruel act she had so recently witnessed.
Resisting her fiery glances, he surveyed her calmly, looking by turns at
her and the boy. A slight smile played on his lip in the midst of the
indications of his wrath. One might have read in that expression--

"Not a feature in these two faces in the least similar, and the age is
beyond all mortal doubt. I have the gull-flayer on the hip at last."

And returning to the companions with the same simulated coolness--

"Done for a hundred," he said. "That lady is not the mother of that
boy."

"Agreed," answered Dewhurst, with a look of inward triumph. "How to be
decided?"

"By the lips of the lady herself."

"Agreed."

"Yes," joined Campbell, "if you can get these lips to move. She looks
angry, and now she is moving along probably for home, bequeathing to us
the last look of her scorn. We shall give her time to cool down, and
Cameron and I will then pay our respects to her. We shall get it out of
the boy if she refuse to answer."

It was as Campbell said. The lady with the boy, who held her by the
hand, had begun her return along the jetty. The companions kept walking
behind; and of these, Campbell and Dewhurst fell back a little from the
other two.

"Hark, Campbell," said Dewhurst. "Back me against Cameron for any sum
you can get out of him. I'm sure of my quarry; and," laughing within the
teeth, he added, "I'll gull him again."

"You're ruined, man," whispered his companion. "The woman is evidently
too old, and I am satisfied you will catch some of her wrinkles."

A deeper whisper from Dewhurst conveyed to the ear of his friend--

"I heard the boy call her mother."

"The devil!" exclaimed Campbell in surprise; but, catching himself, "it
might have been grandmother he meant."

"No, no. Children in Scotland use grandma', never ma', to grandmother.
I'm satisfied; and if you are not a fool, take advantage of my "--

"Dishonesty," added Campbell.

"No; all fair with that fellow Hamilton. Besides, all bets assume a
retention of reasons, otherwise there could be no bets. In addition, I
did not assert that I did not hear them address each other."

"That's something," said Campbell. "I do not say it is impossible, or
even very improbable, that she may be the mother; and if you will assure
me, on your honour, of what you heard, I will have a little speculative
peculation on Cameron."

"I can swear; and if I couldn't, do you think I would have bet so high,
as in the event of losing I should be ruined?"

"I'm content," said Campbell. "Ho, there, Cameron! I will back Dewhurst
on the maternity for ten."

"That will just pay Nightingale," replied Cameron. "I accept. Now for
the grand _denouement_. Let us accost the arbitress of our fortunes."

"Not yet," said Hamilton. "Wait till she gets to the lighthouse, where
there are people. It is clear she has not a good opinion of us, and in
this solitary place she might get alarmed."

Hanging back to wait their opportunity, now upon the verge of a decision
which might be attended with disastrous results to some of them, the
whole four appeared absorbed in anxiety. Not a word was spoken; and it
seemed possible that, during these trying minutes, a hint would have
broken up the imprudent and dangerous compact. The terror of the club
was before them, and the false honour which ruled them, in place of
obedience to their fathers, and humanity to dumb creatures, retained the
ascendency. So has it ever been with the worship of false gods: their
exactions have always been in proportion to the folly and credulity of
their votaries. The moment was approaching. The die was to carry
formidable issues. Dark shadows broke in through the resolution to be
brave, as might have been observed in the features of both the
principals. At length Campbell took the lead. They approached the lady,
who at first seemed to shrink from them as monsters.

"We beg pardon," he said. "Be assured, madam, we have not the most
distant intention to offend you. The truth is, that we have a bet among
us as to whether you are the mother of this fine boy. We assure you,
moreover, that it was the sport of betting that sought out the subject,
and the nature of that subject cannot, we presume, be prejudicial either
to your honour or your feelings. While I ask your pardon, allow me to
add that the wager, foolish or not, is to be decided by your answer--yes
or no."

"No."

After pronouncing, with a severe sternness, this monosyllable, she
paused a little; and looking round upon the youths with a seriousness
and dignity that sat upon her so well that they shrunk from her glance,
she added, with a corresponding solemnity--

"Would to God, who sees all things--ay, and punishes all those who are
cruel to the creatures He has formed with feelings suitable to their
natures, and dear to them as ours are to us--that he who bet upon my
being the mother of this boy may be he who tortured the unoffending
bird!"

And, with these words, she departed, leaving the bewildered students
looking at each other, with various emotions. It was, perhaps, fortunate
for Dewhurst that the little sermon, contrary to the practice of the
courts, came after, in place of preceding the condemnation, for he had
been rendered all but insensible by the formidable monosyllable. He saw
there was some mystery overhanging his present position. He doubted,
and he did not doubt the lady; but he heard the boy use the word, and
he took up the impression that he was, by some mistake on his part, to
be punished for the flaying of the bird. The lady's eye, red and angry,
had been fixed upon him, and now, when she was gone, he still saw it.
But there were more lurid lights, playing round certain stern facts
connected with his fortunes. He must pay this L100 on the decision of
her who had burned him with her scorn. There was no relief for him. The
club at the College had no mercy, and he had enraged Hamilton, whose
spirit was relentless. He had been under rebuke from his father, who had
threatened to cut him off; and, worse still, the remnant of the last
yearly remittance was L110 in the Royal Bank, while debts stood against
him in the books of tailors, confectioners, tavern-keepers,
shoemakers--some already in the form of decrees, and one at least in the
advanced stage of a warrant. To sum up all, he was betrothed to Miss
M------- sh, the sister of a writer to the signet, who had already
hinted doubts as the propriety of the marriage. He saw himself, in
short, wrecked on the razor-backed shelving rocks of misery. In his
extremity, he clutched at a floating weed: the woman, the lady, did not
speak the truth. He had ears, and could hear, and he would trust to
them. The boy could not be wrong.

"Campbell," he cried, "dog her home--she lies!" Hamilton and Campbell
burst out into a laugh, but Campbell had been taken aback by the lady's
answer: he had not L10 to pay Cameron, and the fear of the club was
before him, with its stern decree of the brand of caste and rejection by
his associates. Since the moment of the lady's answer, he had been
conscious of obscure doubts as to her truthfulness, clustering round the
suspicion that she might have known, by hearing something, that
Dewhurst, the gull-flayer, was on the side of the maternity, and that
she wanted to punish him--a notion which seemed to be favoured by the
somewhat affected manner of her expressing her little sermon. These
doubts, fluid and wavering, became, as it were, crystallized by
Dewhurst's cry that she was a liar; and, the moment he felt the sharp
angles of the idea, he set off after the lady.

This hope, which was nothing more than despair in hysterics, enabled
Dewhurst to withstand, for a little, the looks of triumph in Hamilton
and Cameron, in spite of their laugh, which still rung in his ears. The
sermon had touched him but little, and if he could have got quit of this
wildly contracted debt, he would likely be the same man again. He did
not, as yet, feel even the dishonour of having taken advantage of the
boy's statement--an act which he had subtlety enough to defend. Give him
only relief from this debt, the fire of the club, the stabbing glances
of Hamilton's eye. At least he was not bound to suffer the personal
expression of his companions' triumph any longer than he could away.

"We will wait the issue of Campbell's inquiry," he said with affected
calmness. "I have a call to make in the Links."

And he was retreating, even as he uttered these words.

"I owe you L5," cried Hamilton, "which, _as a man of honour_, I pay you
to-night at seven o'clock, upon the instant, at Stewart's. I have no
wish to be dragged before the club."

With this barb, touched with wararra poison, or ten times distilled
kakodyle, and a layer of honey over all, Dewhurst hurried away, to make
no call. He was hard to subdue, and a puppy, whose passion it was to
strut, in the perfection of a refined toilette, among fashionable
street-walkers. While he was abroad, his cares rankling within were
overborne by the consciousness of being "in position." The dog's nose is
cold even when his tongue is reeking; and as he walked slowly along, his
exterior showed the proper thermo-metric nonchalance--it was not the
time for a pyrometric measurement within the heart. On his way, he
talked to a Leith merchant, who hailed him; yet he exhibited the
required _retenu_, so expressive of confidence and ease within, and
withal so fashionable. You might have said that he had the heart to wing
a partridge,--to "wing it," a pretty phrase in the mouth of a polite
sportsman, who, if a poacher were to break the bones of his leg, would,
in his own case, think it a little different. Yes, Dewhurst might have
been supposed to be able to "wing a partridge,"--not to "flay a gull."

It was while thus "in position"--not its master, but its slave--that
curvation of the spine of society, which produces so much paralysis and
death--that, when he came to Princes Street, he felt himself constrained
and able to walk up South St. Andrew Street, direct to the door of the
Royal Bank. He even entered; he even drew a draft; he even made that
draft L110, all the money he had there in keeping for so many coming
wants and exigencies; he even presented it to the teller, who knew his
circumstances and his dangers--ay, and his father's anxieties while he
sent the yearly remittance.

"All, Mr. Dewhurst?" said the teller, looking blank at the draft.

"All, sir; I require it all," answered the student, with such a mouthful
of the vowel, that we might write the word _requoire_, and not be far
from the pronunciation.

The teller gave his head a significant shake. If he had had a tail to
shake, and had shaken that tail, it would have been much the same.

Having got the money, he was more than ever under the law of that
proclivity, on the broad line to ruin, on which so many young men take
stations; and still retaining his, he went at the hour of the hot
joints, to dine at the Rainbow, where he met many others, in that
refreshment house, of the same class, who, like himself,
considered--that is, while the money was there--that guineas in the
purse supersede the necessity of having ideas in the head. He took to
such liquid accompaniments of the dinner, as would confirm the
resolution he had formed, of paying at once his debt of honour. And why
not? Was not he of that world whose code of laws draws the legitimate
line of distinction between debts contracted to industrious tradesmen
for the necessaries of life, and those which are the result of whim,
pride, or vindictiveness? All recollections of the flaying of the bird,
and of the lady's adjuration to heaven, had given way to the enthusiasm
of the noble feeling to obey the dictates of that eternal and immutable
code of honour. And by seven o'clock he was at Stewart's, where he found
Hamilton and Cameron waiting for their respective "pounds of flesh."

"Here is the L5," cried Hamilton, as he entered; and, throwing the note
upon the table, "it is for the gull trick."

"And here," responded the West Indian, "is your L100 for the woman
trick."

And he cast from him the bundle of notes, with a grandeur of both honour
and defiance. "But I have a reservation to make. Campbell has not
reported to me the issue of his commission; and if it shall turn out
that the woman retracts, I will reclaim the money."

"And get it too," said the other, laughing sneeringly, as he counted
the notes. "But here comes Campbell."

"Campbell," cried Cameron, as his debtor entered, "I want my L10 to pay
Nightingale."

"Ask Dewhurst," said Campbell. "I have been cheated by him. He told me a
lie. The woman speaks true, and I shall be revenged."

"I have nothing to do with Dewhurst," answered Cameron. "You are my
debtor; and if I don't get the money to-night--you know my lodgings--the
club will decide upon it to-morrow."

And, throwing a withering look upon his old friend--a word now changed
for, and lost in that expressive vocable, debtor--he hurried out,
followed by Hamilton, who had both his money and his revenge, and wished
to be beyond the reach of a recall.

Left to themselves, the two remaining friends of the hour before, but
now no longer friends, looked sternly at each other. The one considered
himself duped; the other was burning under the imputation of being a
cheat and a liar.

"Oh I don't retract," said Campbell, with increased fierceness. "It was
upon the faith of your word that I ventured the bet against my own
convictions. I have traced the lady to Great King Street, where she
resides, as the aunt of the boy; and I am satisfied that, in a case
where the boy's mother is alive, and now in her own house, he, of the
age he is, never could have used the word mother or mamma, or any word
of that import, to his father's sister. All power and energies are
comparative. This L10 cracks the spine of my fortune as effectually as
ten times the amount. I have not the money, and know no more where to
find it than I do to get hold of the philosopher's stone. I repeat I
have been cheated, and I demand of you the money."

"Which you shall never get," replied Dewhurst. "I can swear that I
heard the words. They thrill on my ears now; and the best proof of my
conviction is, that I am myself ruined. Yes," and he began to roll his
eyes about, as the terrors of his situation came rushing upon him, on
the wake of the now departing effects of the Rainbow wine--"Yes, the
swell, the fop, the leader of the college _ton_, whose coat came from
the artistic study of Willis, whose necktie could raise a _furore_,
whose glove, without a wrinkle, would condescend only to be touched by
friendship on the tip of the finger, is now at the mercy of any one of
twenty sleasy dogs, who can tell the sheriff I owe them money. Money!
why, I have only fifteen pounds in the wide world, and I must pay that
to my landlady."

As he uttered these last words, the door opened, and there stood before
him a man with a blue coat, surmounted by a red collar. He held a paper
in his hand; his demeanour was deferential and exuberantly polite.

"That sum you have mentioned, sir," he said, looking to the student,
"with L10 added, will save you and me much trouble. The debt to Mr. Reid
is L25; and here is a certain paper which gives me the power to do an
unpolite thing. You comprehend? I am an advocate for painless
operations."

"Will you accept the L15?" said Dewhurst, now scarcely able to
articulate.

"Yes, if this gentleman here, who is, I presume, your friend, will
kindly add the L10. The expenses may stand."

Campbell could only grin at this strange conversation.

"Unwilling?" continued the messenger. "Ah, I see. It is strange that
when I devote myself to a gentleman, his friends fly away. This is my
misfortune. Well, there is no help for it. We must take a walk to the
prison," addressing himself to his debtor. "You are a gentleman, and I
shall be your servant in livery."

Dewhurst braced himself with a violent effort, like a spasm, and took
his hat.

"Give me the L10," said Campbell. "It will make no difference now. There
are no degrees in despair."

"I must take care of my master's money," said the officer, with an
attempt at a smile; and without going the full length of imitating that
most philanthropic of all executors of the law, Simpson, who patted his
victims on the back while he adjusted the rope, he added, "And now, sir,
I am at your humble service."

In a very short time after, the strange events of that day were
terminated by the young man being placed in the debtor's prison of the
Calton. Like other jail birds, he at first shunned his brethren in
misfortune, fleeing to his room, and shrouding himself in solitude and
partial darkness. The change from a life of gaiety, if not dissipation,
to the experiences of prison squalor, had come upon him without
preparation, if indeed preparation for evil ever diminishes or much
ameliorates the inevitable effects of the visitation. Unfortunates
exhibit wonderful diversities in their manifestations. Dewhurst became
dejected, broken in spirits, sad, and remorseful. He scarcely stirred
from the bed on which he had thrown himself when he entered; and his
mind became a theatre where strange plays were acted, and strange
personages performed strange parts, under the direction of stage
managers over whom he had no control. Though some unhappy predecessor in
the same cell had scribbled on the wall,

  "A prison is a cannie place,
    Though viewed with reprobation,
  Where cheats and thieves, and scants o' grace,
    Find time for cogitation,"

he did not find that he could properly cogitate or meditate, even if he
had been, which he never was, a thinker. All his thoughts were reduced
to a continued wild succession of burning images,--the mild face of his
mother, so far away, as it smiled upon him when he ran about among the
cane groves of the west; the negroes, with their "young massa" on their
tongues, jabbering their affection; his father scowling upon him as
undutiful; another, not so far away, in whose eyes--beautiful to
him--love dwelt as his worshipper, looking all endearment, only the next
moment to cast upon him the withering glance of her contempt, if not
hatred; admirers, toadies, satellites, and sycophants, all there in
groups and in succession, beslabbering him with praises, then exploding
in peals of laughter. Nor was another awanting in these saturnalia--the
form and face of her whose one word of sentence had been to him as a
doom, and who fixed that doom in his soul by her red glance of reproof.
Seemingly very indifferent objects assumed in the new lights of his
spirit gigantic and affraying features,--the sea-gull, with its torn
back, bleeding and quivering, and those diamond eyes so bright even in
its looks of agony--an object low indeed in the scale of nature, but
here elevated by some overruling power into the very heart of man's
actions and destinies, as if to show out of what humble things the
lightnings of retribution may come. Nay, these diamond eyes haunted him;
they were everywhere in these saturnalian reveries, following every
recurring image as an inevitable concomitant which he had no power to
drive away, entering into the orbits of the personages, gleaming out of
the heads of negroes, that of his father, that of his mother, even that
of his mistress, imparting to the looks and glances of the latter a
brilliancy which enhanced beauty, while it sharpened them into
poignancy. But most of all were they in some way associated with the
form of the unknown lady. She never appeared to him as the being on whom
his destiny was suspended; but, sooner or later, her own comparatively
lustreless orbs changed into those diamonds, which could fulminate scorn
not less than they could beam out supplication.

For several days and nights he had scarcely any intervals of peace from
these soul-penetrating fancies, and these moments were due to visits.
But who came to visit? Not the writer to the signet, the brother of his
affianced, whom he had expected to see first of all as a friend, if not
as a relation, ready to extend the hand that would save him; not any of
those with whom he had shared the folly of extravagance, if not
dissipation, on whom he had lavished favours in the wildness of his
generosity. The first was felicitating himself on his sister's escape;
the latter received the lesson that teaches prudence _a la distance_.
His only visitors were one or two heads of families where he had been
received as a fashionable friend, and these came only to look and
inquire. Their curiosity was satisfied when they got out of him the
amount of his debt, and pleased when they considered that their
daughters were at home, and under no chance of becoming allied to a
prisoner. One or two old associates, too, paid their respects to him,
but they were of those who had resisted his fascinations and found their
pleasures in their studies. We seek for the virtues, but we do not
always find them in the high places, where masks, copied from them and
bearing their beautiful lineaments and their effulgence, are worn in
their stead only to cover the vices which are their very antipodes. No:
more often in lowlier regions, lying _perdu_ behind vices, not
voluntary, but often, as it were, inflicted and peering out, ashamed to
be seen, because arrayed in the rags of poverty. A solitary female
stole in to him. Who was she? One with whom he had formed a connection
of not an honourable kind, only now interrupted by the walls of the
prison? No. One whom he had long before cast off, only because the vice
he had inoculated her with had cast off the beauty that had inflamed
him. Nor did he know the meaning of that stealthy visit, which lasted
only for a few minutes--so unexpected, for he had not seen her during
many months, so singular, so unnatural, so unlike the world, returning
gratitude for injury, benediction for infamy, until, after she had
suddenly slipped away, he found by the side of the wall a small bottle
of wine. That form and face, once more beautiful in his estimation than
were those even now of his honourable affianced, entered among the
imagery of his reveries; but the diamond eyes never displaced those of
her gentle nature. He had wronged her, but they never filled with the
fire of denunciation. She had looked her grief at him only through the
tears he had raised in them, and had never attempted to dry. Yes, the
diamond eyes entered everywhere, and into every form but that one where
the red heat of revenge might have been expected to shrivel up and
harden the issues of tears.

Further on in the same evening, the jailer, a good-natured sort of
fellow, came in to him while he was absorbed in these thoughts. He was
at the time sitting on his bed.

"A lady called in the dusk," he said, "and inquired if it was true you
were here. I told her it was."

"And what more?" asked the youth, as he started out of his day-dream.
"But, stay--what like was she?"

"I could scarcely see her," replied the man; "middling tail, rather
young, as I thought--with a veil, through which I could see a pair of
pretty, bright eyes."

"Were they like diamonds?" cried the student, absolutely forgetting that
he was speaking to an ordinary mortal about very ordinary things.

"Ha, ha! I never saw diamond eyes," answered the jailer; "but I've seen
glass ones in a doll's head looking very bright. Why, you 'aven't got
mad, like some of the chicken-hearted birds in our cage?"

"Yes," cried the youth, "I'm frantic-mad; but stay, have patience. Did
she want to see me?"

"Yes, she asked if she could; but when I told her she might, she seemed
to get afeared to come into a jail, and said she would call again
to-morrow night at the same hour."

"Can you tell me nothing more of what she was like?--not she who was
here this evening?"

"Why, no; don't you think I know her kind? Oh, we see many o' them. They
stick closest to the unfortunate, but 'tis because they are unfortunate
themselves. Common thing, sir. Never feel for others till we have
something to feel for ourselves. The visitor is a lady, sir."

"Can you tell me nothing more?" said the student eagerly. "How was she
dressed?"

"A large, elegant cloak, sir; can scarcely say more."

"Was it trimmed with fur?"

"Not sure; but now, when I think, there was some lightish trimming--I
mean lighter than the cloak."

"And the bonnet?"

"Why, I think velvet; but you'll maybe see her yourself to-morrow. The
like o' her may do you good. The unfortunates who stick so close to the
unfortunate do no good--they're a plaster that don't cure."

"It is Maria!" ejaculated Dewhurst, as the jailer shut the door. "She
feels for me, and has come in spite of her hard-hearted brother. Her
diamond eyes are of another kind. They speak wealth, and love to bestow
it. Her fortune is her own, and with that I may yet turn that wayward
destiny, and laugh at my persecutors."

That ray of hope, illuminating his soul, changed almost in an instant
the whole tenor of his mind. It might be compared to a stream of nervous
energy, emanating from the brain, and shooting down through the network
of chords, confirming convulsed muscles, and; imparting to trembling
members consistency of action and graces of motion. His reveries were
scared by it, as owls under the influence of a sunbeam, and retreated
into the dark recesses from which they had been charmed by the
enchantment of despair. The personages of these visions were no longer
avengers, casting upon him the burning beams of the diamond eyes. They
were hopeful, pitiful; the flatterers and fawners were at their old work
again, and Pleasure, with her siren face, smiled blandishments on him.
Then he would justify the favours of the heaven he made for himself. He
would be a logician, for once, in that kind of dialectics called the
"wish-born."

"What was I afraid of?" he said to himself. "There is no turpitude, no
shame in a fair bet. I was worsted in an honourable contest. What crazy
power mocked me into the belief that all this that has befallen me was
connected with the flaying of a bird? Don't we break the necks of
innocent, yea, gentle fowls, not depredators like gulls, every day for
our dinners? And don't ladies, as delicate as the unknown censor who
dared to chastise me with her eyes, eat of the same, with a relish
delightful to the tongues that pronounce the fine words of pity and
philanthropy? But, even admitting there was cruelty in the act, where is
the link that binds it with the consequences which have brought me
here? The bet upon the maternity was not an effect of the flaying of the
bird. If it followed the prior bet, it would have followed another, in
which I was gainer, equally the same. The mad energy which weaves in my
head these day-dreams, and pursues me with these diamond eyes of wrath,
is a lying power, and I shall master it by the strength of my reason,
which at least is God's gift. Come, my Maria, as my good angel, and
enable me to free my mind from illusions. I will sit and look into your
eyes, as I have done so often. Yes, I will satisfy myself that they
shine still with the lustre of love, hope, and happiness; and oh, let
these, and these only, enter into my dreams."

And thus he satisfied himself, as all do, whose hope weaves the
syllogisms of their wishes, and sits to see pleasure caught on the wing.
The day passed apace to usher in the evening with its messenger of
peace. Where, in that squalid place, would he seat her, whose peculiar
province was the drawing-room? How would he receive her first look of
sympathy? how repay it? with what words express his emotions? with what
fervour kiss those lips redolent of forgiveness? with what ecstasy look
into those eyes refulgent with love? He would control himself, and be
calm. He would rehearse, that he might not fail in the forms of an
interview on which hung his destiny, almost his life. The hour of seven
arrived. He heard the heavy foot of the jailer come tramp, tramp along
the lobby. There was a softer step behind, as if the echo of the heavier
tread. A stern voice and a softer one mingled their notes. The door
opened.

"My Mar--! O God! these scornful eyes again."

"Not scornful now," replied the soft voice of a woman, as she came
forward, and stood before him in the dusk.

"Were there light enough," she continued, "I would lift my veil and
show you that they are capable of a kindlier light than even that they
now carry, for the offering I made to heaven has been more than
answered."

"Ah, you come to retract," he said, "to speak the truth at last. It is
not too late to say you _are_ the mother--the mother of the boy. Nor
need you be ashamed: there may be reasons; but many a woman lives to
repent--"

"Hold, sir," she cried with indignation, as she fixed upon him a look
even more penetrating than that he so well remembered. "I have nothing
to retract--nothing to be ashamed of. I came here out of pure sympathy,
to make amends to one who has fallen for a prayer which burst from me in
my anger. Your friend, who called for me, told me that you were a
prisoner, and that your imprisonment was the consequence of the wager
which it fell to me to decide. I did not come to repeat to you what I
said before, that I am not the mother of the boy, but to make an
explanation."

"And I have one to ask," said he.

"I am ready to answer."

"How could I be deceived?" said he. "I heard the boy address you as his
mother."

"And that is what I came to explain. I have taxed my memory since Mr.
Campbell insisted, in my presence, that Frederick did address me in the
manner you have stated. Shall I tell you the precise words he used?"

"I wait for them."

"Well, they were, 'See ma.'"

"The very words; and were they not enough for proof and belief?"

"Yes, sir; but there are words which have two significations. Ma' is
the contraction, as you know, for mamma, but it is pronounced the same
as _maw_, which is a word which we use to designate those birds
otherwise called gulls. I recollect that while I was unable to bear the
sight of the tortured bird, and had turned my head in another direction,
my nephew kept looking over the rails, and that, as he saw the
struggling creature, he cried out to me the words you misconstrued. And
thus the mystery is cleared up."

"Miserable and fatal error," he gasped out, as he staggered back. "And
the connection!--the connection! There _was_ retribution in those
diamond eyes."

"What mean you, sir?"

"The bird's eyes that haunt me in my reveries, and enter into the
sockets of my dream-beings!"

"Are you mad?"

"No; or the heavens are mad, with their swirling orbs and blazing
comets, that rush sighing through space before some terrible power that
will give them no respite, except with the condition that when they rest
they die."

"Poor youth! so early doomed; I pity you."

"Ay, pity those who have no pity--those are the truly wretched; for
pity, in the world's life, is the soul of reason's action. Ah, madam, it
is those who have pity who do not need the pity of others, for they are
generally free from the faults that produce the unhappiness that needs
pity."

"But you have been punished, I admit, in a very strange and mysterious
way; for the word used by the boy was the joining link of the two
transactions, and you were led to misconstrue it--ay, and to take
advantage of your misconstruction to get the better of your friend."

"I see it all."

"But I say you have been punished," continued she, consolingly; "and I
perceive you are penitent--perhaps justice is satisfied; and when you
are liberated, you may be the better for the lesson. I shall now reverse
my prayer, and say to one I shall perhaps never see again, May God deal
mercifully by you."

And with these words, she retreated. But her prayer was never answered,
so far as man can judge of heaven's mysterious ways. The conviction
settled down and down into his heart, that that apparently simple affair
of killing a bird--which, even with the aggravation of all the cruelty
exhibited by the thoughtless, yet certainly pitiless youth, is so apt to
be viewed carelessly, or only with an avowal of disapprobation--which,
if too much insisted on as an act to be taken up by superior
retribution, is more apt still to be laughed at--was the cause of all
the ills that had befallen him. The diamond eyes proved to him no fancy.
But for all this, we are afforded, by what subsequently occurred, some
means of explanation, which will be greedily laid hold of by minute
philosophers. Even then it was to have been feared that the seeds of
consumption had been deposited in favourable soil. In our difficulties
about explanations of mental phenomena, we readily flee to diseases of
the body, which, after all, only removes the mystery a step or two back
in the dark.

It remains for me to add some words of personal experience. A
considerable period after these occurrences, I had occasion--by a
connection with a medium through which Dewhurst received from his
father, whose fortunes had in the meantime failed, a petty allowance--to
be the bearer to him, now liberated, of a quarter's payment. I forget
the part of the town where I found him, but I have a distinct
remembrance of the room. It was a garret, almost entirely empty. He was
lying on a kind of bed spread upon the floor. There was a small grate,
with a handful of red cinders in it; only one chair, and a pot or pan or
two. There was a woman moving between him and the fireplace, as if she
had been preparing some warm drink or medicine of some kind for him. I
did not know then, but I knew afterwards, that that woman was she who
called upon him in prison, and deposited the small bottle of wine. Her
love for him had always overcome any of those feelings of enmity, or
something stronger, generally deemed so natural in one who has been
robbed of her dearest treasure, and ruined. She alone had indeed not
assumed the diamond eyes. The diamonds were elsewhere,--yea, in her
heart, where she nourished pity for him who had so cruelly deserted her,
and left her to a fate so common, and requiring only a hint to be
understood by those who know the nature of women. After he had got out
of prison, she sought him out, got the room for him, collected the
paltry articles, procured food for him, and continued to nurse him till
his death, with all the tenderness of a lover who had not only not been
cast off, but cherished. He betrayed the ordinary symptoms of
consumption, and the few words he muttered were those of thanks. I think
he was buried in the Canongate Churchyard.




DAVID LORIMER.


  "There is a history in all men's lives."--SHAKSPEARE.

It has been often said, and, I believe, with truth, that there are few
persons, however humble in station, whose life, if it has been of any
duration, does not present some incidents of an interesting, if not
instructive, nature.

Induced by a belief in this assertion as a general truth, and yet
further by an opinion that, in my own particular case, there are
occurrences which will be considered somewhat extraordinary, I venture
to lay the following sketch of my life before the reader, in the hope
that it will not be found altogether devoid of interest.

With the earlier part of my history, which had nothing whatever
remarkable in it, I need not detain the reader further than to say that
my father was, though not a wealthy, a respectable farmer in
Lanarkshire; that he lived at----, within fourteen miles of Glasgow;
that I was well educated; and that, at the period when I take up my own
history, I was in the eighteenth year of my age.

Having given these two or three particulars, I proceed:

It was in the year 18--, and during the week of the Glasgow Fair, which
occurs in July, that my father, who had a very favourable opinion of my
intelligence and sagacity, resolved to entrust me with a certain
important mission. This was to send me to the fair of Glasgow to
purchase a good draught horse for him.

I am not sure, however, that, with all the good opinion my father
entertained of my shrewdness, he would have deputed me on the present
occasion had he been able to go himself; but he was not able, being
confined to bed by a severe attack of rheumatism. Be this as it may,
however, the important business was put into my hands; and great was the
joy it occasioned me, for it secured me in an opportunity of seeing
Glasgow Fair--a scene which I had long desired to witness, and which I
had seen only once when but a very young boy.

From the moment I was informed by my father of his intention of sending
me to the fair, and which was only on the day preceding that on which
the horse-market is held, my imagination became so excited that I could
attend to nothing. I indeed maintained some appearance of working--for
though the son of a farmer, I wrought hard--but accomplished little of
the reality.

The joys and the splendours of Glasgow Fair, of which I had a dim but
captivating recollection, rose before my mind's eye in brilliant
confusion, putting to rout all other thoughts, and utterly paralyzing
all my physical energies. Nor was the succeeding night less blessed with
happy imaginings. My dreams were filled with visions of shows, Punch's
opera, rope-dancers, tumblers, etc. etc., and my ears rang with the
music of fiddles, bugles, tambourines, and bass drums. It was a
delicious night with me; but the morning which brought an approach to
the reality was still more so.

Getting up betimes, I arrayed myself in my best attire; which attire, as
I well recollect, consisted of a white corduroy jacket, knee-breeches of
the same colour and material, and a bright-red waistcoat. A "neat
Barcelona," tied carelessly round my neck, and a pair of flaming-red
garters, at least two inches broad, wound round my legs just below the
knee, and ending in a knot with two dependent ends hanging down, that
waved jauntily as I walked, completed my equipment.

Thus arrayed, and with thirty pounds in my pocket to purchase a horse
for my father, I took the road, stick in hand, for Glasgow.

It was a fine summer morning. I was in high spirits; and, in my red
waistcoat and red garters, looked, I believe, as tight and comely a lad
as might be seen.

Pushing on with a light heart and light step, I quickly reached the
suburbs of the city, and in a few minutes more was within view and
earshot of the sights and sounds of the fair. I saw the crowd; I got a
glimpse of the canvas roofs of the shows at the end of the old
bridge--the locality on which the fair was then held; and heard the
screaming and braying of the cracked trumpets, the clanging of the
cymbals, and the thunders of the bass drums.

My heart beat high on hearing these joyous sounds. I quickened my pace,
and in a few seconds was in the thick of the throng that crowded the
space in front of the long line of shows extending from the bridge to
the Bridgegate. As it was yet several hours to the height of the
horse-market, I resolved on devoting that interval to seeing some of the
interesting sights which stood in such tempting array before me.

The first that fixed my regard was "The Great Lancashire Giant," whose
portrait at full length--that is, at the length of some fifteen or
twenty feet--flapped on a sheet of canvas nearly as large as the
mainsail of a Leith smack.

This extraordinary personage was represented, in the picture, as a youth
of sixteen, dressed in a ruffled shirt, a red jacket, and white
trousers; and his exhibitor assured the spectators that, though but a
boy, he already measured nine feet in height and seven feet round the
body; that each of his shoes would make a coffin for a child of five
years old, and every stocking hold a sack of flour. Six full-grown
persons, he added, could be easily buttoned within his waistcoat; and
his tailor, he asserted, was obliged to mount a ladder when he measured
him for a jacket.

Deeply interested by the astounding picture of this extraordinary youth,
and the still more astounding description given of him by his exhibitor,
I ascended the little ladder that conducted to the platform in front of
the show, paid my twopence--the price of admission--and in the next
minute was in the presence of "The Great Lancashire Giant;" a position
which enabled me to make discoveries regarding that personage that were
not a little mortifying.

In the first place, I found that, instead of being a youth of sixteen,
he was a man of at least six-and-thirty; in the next, that if it had not
been for the raised dais on which he stood, the enormous thickness of
the soles of his shoes, and the other palpably fictitious contrivances
and expedients by which his dimensions were enlarged, he would not
greatly have exceeded the size of my own father. I found, in short, that
the tremendous "Lancashire Giant" was merely a pretty tall man, and
nothing more.

Quitting this exhibition, and not a little displeased at being so
egregiously bitten, I passed on to the next, which was "Mr.
Higgenbotham's Royal Menagerie. The Noblest Collection of Wild Beasts
ever seen in the Civilised World."

This was a splendid affair. On a narrow stage in front were seated four
fat red-faced musicians, in beef-eater coats, puffing and blowing on
bugles and trombones. Close by these, stood a thin, sharp-eyed,
sallow-complexioned man in plain clothes, beating a huge drum, and
adding the music of a set of Pandean pipes, which were stuck into his
bosom, to the general harmony. This was Mr. Higgenbotham himself.

But it was the paintings on the immense field of canvas above that
particularly attracted my attention. On this field were exhibited an
appalling collection of the most terrific monsters: lions, as large as
cows, gambolling amongst rocks; ourang-outangs, of eight feet in height,
walking with sticks in their hands, as grave and stately as drum-majors;
and a serpent, as thick as a hogshead, and of interminable length--in
truth, without any beginning, middle, or end--twining round an
unfortunate black, and crushing him to death in its enormous folds.

All this was irresistible. So up the stair I sprang, paid my sixpence,
and in a moment after found myself in the centre of the well-saw dusted
area in the interior, gazing on the various birds and beasts in the
cages around me. It was by no means a perplexing task; for, as in the
case of "The Great Lancashire Giant," the fulfilment of the inside but
little corresponded with the promise of the out. The principal part of
the collection I found to consist of half-a-dozen starved monkeys, as
many parrots--grey and green, an indescribable monster, in a dark
corner, strongly suspected by some of the spectators of being a boy in a
polar bear's skin, a bird of paradise, and a hedgehog, which they
dignified with the name of a porcupine.

"Whaur's the lions, and the teegers, and the elephants, and the boy
instructor, and the black man?" said a disappointed countryman,
addressing a fellow in a short canvas frock or overall, who was crossing
the area with a bucket of water.

"Ah! them's all in the other caravan," replied the man, "vich should
'ave been here on Monday night, but hasn't coom yet, and we suppose has
broken down by the way; but there's a hanimal worth 'em all," he added,
pointing to the indescribable monster in the dark corner. "The most
curiousest ever was seen. Take a look on him; and if you don't own he
is, I'll heat him, skin and all. They calls him the great Guampa from
South America."

Having said this, the fellow, desirous, for reasons best known to
himself, to avoid further questioning, hurried away, and disappeared at
a side door.

It was just as this man left us, and as the small crowd of spectators,
of whom I was one, who had surrounded him, were dispersing, that a
gentleman--or a person, at least, who had the air and manner of one,
although somewhat broken down in his apparel--came close up to me, and
whispered in my ear, in a perfectly calm and composed tone--

"My lad, you are robbed."

With a start of horror, and a face as pale as death, I clapped my hand
on the outside of my buttoned jacket, to feel for my pocket-book, which
I carefully deposited in an inside pocket. It was gone.

"Be calm--be composed, my lad," said the gentleman, marking my excessive
agitation, and seeing that I was about to make some outcry. "The fellows
will bolt on the least alarm; and as there are three or four of them,
may force their way out, if driven to extremity. Leave the matter to me,
and I'll manage it for you."

During all this time, the stranger, who had spoken in a very low tone,
carefully abstained from looking towards those of whom he was speaking,
and wore such an air of composure and indifference, that no one could
possibly have suspected for a moment what was the subject of his
communication to me.

Having made this communication, and desired me to remain where I was,
and to exhibit no symptom of anything particular having happened, my
friend, as I could not but reckon him, went out for an instant.

When he returned, he kept hovering about the entrance into the show, as
if to prevent the egress of any one, but without making any sign to me,
or even looking at me. My agitation during this interval was excessive;
and although I strictly obeyed my friend's injunctions, notwithstanding
that I knew not to what they were to lead, I could not suppress the
dreadful feelings by which I was distracted. I, however, did all I could
to refrain from exhibiting any outward sign of consciousness of my loss.

To return to my friend. He had not stood, I think, more than a minute at
the entrance to the menagerie, when I observed three fellows, after
having winked to each other, edging towards it. My friend, on seeing
them approach, planted himself in the doorway, and, addressing the
first, at the same time extending his arms to keep him back, said--

"Stop a moment, my lad, I have something to say to you."

The fellow seemed taken aback for a moment by this salutation; but,
quickly regaining his natural effrontery, he, with a tremendous oath,
made an attempt to push past, when four policemen suddenly presented
themselves at the entrance.

"Come away, my lads," said my friend, addressing them. "Just in time; a
minute later, and the birds would have been flown. Guard the door there
a moment." Then, turning to the astonished spectators who were assembled
in the area--"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "there has been a robbery
committed here within these fifteen minutes. I saw it done, and know the
person who did it; but as he has several colleagues here, all of whom I
may not have discovered, I have no doubt that the pocket-book--the
article stolen--has been long since transferred to other hands than
those that first took it. It is therefore necessary that we should all,
without any exception, submit to a search of our persons by the officers
here."

No objection to this proceeding having been offered by any of the
persons present, the search began; my friend submitting himself the
first.

The operation was a tedious one; for it was unsuccessful. One after
another, including the three suspicious characters already alluded to,
was searched, but no pocket-book was found. At length, the last person
was taken in hand; and he, too, proved innocent--at least of the
possession of my lost treasure.

I was in despair at this result, thinking that my friend must have been
mistaken as to the robbery--that is, as to his having witnessed it--and
that my money was irretrievably gone. No such despair of the issue,
however, came over my friend--he did not appear in the least
disconcerted; but, on the completion of the fruitless search, merely
nodded his head, uttering an expressive humph.

"It's gone," said I to him in bitter anguish.

"Patience a bit, my lad," he replied, with a smile. "The pocket-book is
within these four walls, and we'll find it too."

Turning now to one of the men belonging to the establishment, he desired
him to bring one of the rakes with which they levelled the sawdust in
the area.

It was brought; when he set the man to work with it--to rake up, slowly
and deliberately, the surface of the sawdust, himself vigilantly
superintending the operation, and directing the man to proceed
regularly, and to leave no spot untouched. I need not say with what
intense interest I watched this proceeding. I felt as if life or death
were in the issue; for the loss of such a sum as L30, although it could
not, perhaps, be considered a very great one, was sufficiently large to
distress my father seriously; and already some idea of never facing him
again, should the money not be recovered, began to cross my mind.

All thoughts, however, of this or any other kind were absorbed, for the
moment, by the deep interest which I took in the operations of the man
with the rake; an interest this in which all present, less or more,
participated.

For a long while this search also was fruitless. More than half the area
had been gone over, and there was yet no appearance of my lost treasure.

At length, however--oh! how shall I describe the joy I felt?--a sweep of
the rake threw the well-known pocket-book on the surface of the sawdust.
I darted on it, clutched it, tore it open, and saw the bank-notes
apparently untouched. I counted them. They were all there.

"I thought so; I thought we should find it," said, with a calm smile,
the gentleman who had been so instrumental in its recovery.

The whole proceedings of the thief or thieves, so promptly and correctly
conjectured by my friend, were now obvious. Finding that passing it from
hand to hand would not avail them, he who was last in possession of it
had, on the search commencing, dropt it on the ground, and shuffled it
under the sawdust with his foot.

The police now requested my friend to point out the person who had
committed the robbery, that they might apprehend him; but this he
declined, saying that he was not quite sure of the man, and that he
would not like to run the risk of blaming an innocent person; adding,
with the quiet smile that seemed to be natural to him, that as the money
was recovered, it might be as well to let the matter drop. The police
for some time insisted on my friend pointing out the man; but as he
continued firmly to decline interfering further in the matter, they gave
it up and left the place.

Every one saw that it was benevolence, however impoperly exerted, that
induced my friend to refuse giving up the culprit; and as I had now
recovered my money, I felt pretty much in the same disposition--that
was, to allow him to fall into other hands.

I now presented the man who had been employed to rake the area with five
shillings, for his trouble. But how or in what way was I to reward the
friendly person to whom I was wholly indebted for the recovery of my
pocket-book? This puzzled me sadly. Money, at least any such sum as I
could spare, I could not offer one who, notwithstanding the little
deficiencies in his apparel formerly noticed, had so much the appearance
and manner of a gentleman. I was greatly at a loss. In the meantime, my
friend and I left the exhibition together; he lecturing me the while,
although in the most kindly manner, on the danger of going into crowded
places with large sums of money about one's person.

He said he had seen a good deal of the world, had resided long in
London, and knew all the tricks of the swell mob.

"It was my knowledge and experience of these gentry," he added, "that
enabled me to manage your little matter so successfully." We were at
this time passing along Stockwell Street, when, observing a
respectable-looking tavern, it struck me that I might, without offence,
ask my friend to take a little refreshment,--a glass of wine or so.

With some hesitation, I proposed it.

He smiled; and as if rather complying with my humour, or as if unwilling
to offend me by a refusal, said, "Well, my young friend, I have no
objection, although I am not greatly in the habit of going to taverns.
Not there, however," he added, seeing me moving towards the house on
which I had fixed my eye. "There is a house in the Saltmarket, which, on
the rare occasions I do go to a tavern, and that is chiefly for a sight
of the papers, I always frequent. They are decent, respectable people.
So we'll go there, if you please; that is, if it be quite the same to
you."

I said it was, and that I would cheerfully accompany him wherever he
chose.

This point settled, we proceeded to the Saltmarket; when my friend, who,
by the way, had now told me that his name was Lancaster, conducted me up
a dark, dirty-looking close, and finally into a house of anything but
respectable appearance. The furniture was scanty, and what was of it
much dilapidated: half the backs of half the chairs were broken off, the
tables were dirty and covered with stains and the circular marks of
drinking measures. A tattered sofa stood at one end of the apartment,
the walls were hung with paltry prints, and the small, old-fashioned,
dirty windows hung with dirtier curtains.

To crown all, we met, as we entered, a huge, blowzy, tawdrily dressed
woman, of most forbidding appearance, who, I was led to understand, was
the mistress of the house. Between this person and Mr. Lancaster I
thought I perceived a rapid secret signal pass as we came in, but was
not sure.

All this--namely, the appearance of the house and its mistress, the
shabbiness of the entrance to the former, the secret signal, etc.
etc.--surprised me a little; but I suspected nothing wrong--never dreamt
of it.

On our taking our seats in the apartment into which we had been shown, I
asked my good genius, Mr. Lancaster, what he would choose to drink.

He at once replied that he drank nothing but wine; spirits and malt
liquors, he said, always did him great injury.

But too happy to be able to contribute in any way to the gratification
of one who had rendered me so essential a service, I immediately ordered
a bottle of the best port, he having expressed a preference for that
description of wine.

It was brought; when Mr. Lancaster, kindly assuming the character of
host, quickly filled our glasses, when we pledged each other and drank.

Wine, at that time, was no favourite liquor of mine, so that I soon
began to show some reluctance to swallowing it.

Mr. Lancaster, perceiving this, began to banter me on my abstemiousness,
and to urge me to do more justice to the wine, which he said was
excellent.

Prevailed on partly by his urgency, and partly by a fear of displeasing
him by further resistance, I now took out my glass as often as he filled
it.

The consequence was, that I soon felt greatly excited; and eventually so
much so, that I not only readily swallowed bumper after bumper, but,
when our bottle was done, insisted on another being brought in;
forgetting everything but my debt of gratitude to Mr. Lancaster, and
losing sight, for the moment at any rate, of all my obligations, in the
delight with which I listened to his entertaining conversation. For
another half hour we went on merrily, and the second bottle of wine was
nearly finished, when I suddenly felt a strange sinking sensation come
over me. The countenance of Mr. Lancaster, who sat opposite me, seemed
to disappear, as did also all the objects with which I was surrounded.

From that moment I became unconscious of all that passed. I sank down on
the floor in the heavy sleep, or rather in the utter insensibility, of
excessive intoxication.

On awaking, which was not until a late hour of the night, I found the
scene changed. The room was dark, the bottles and glasses removed, and
my friend Mr. Lancaster gone.

It was some seconds before I felt myself struck by this contrast; that
is, before I fully recollected the circumstances which had preceded my
unconsciousness. These, however, gradually unfolded themselves, until
the whole stood distinctly before me. After having sat up for a second
or two--for I found myself still on the floor when I awoke, having been
left to lie where I fell--and having recalled all the circumstances of
the day's occurrences, I instinctively clapped my hand to the breast of
my jacket to feel for my pocket-book. It was again gone. Thinking at
first that it might have dropt out while I slept, I began groping about
the floor; but there was no pocket-book there. In great alarm I now
started to my feet, and began calling on the house. My calls were
answered by the landlady herself, who, with a candle in her hand, and a
fierce expression of face, flushed apparently with drink, entered the
apartment, and sternly demanded what I wanted, and what I meant by
making such a noise in her house.

Taking no notice of the uncourteous manner in which she had addressed
me, I civilly asked her what had become of Mr. Lancaster.

"Who's Mr. Lancaster?" she said fiercely. "I know no Mr. Lancaster."

"The gentleman," I replied, "who came in here with me, and who drank
wine with me."

"I know nothing about him," said the virago; "I never saw him before."

"That's strange," said I; "he told me that he was in the habit of
frequenting this house."

"If he did so, he told you a lie," replied the lady; "and I tell you
again, that I know nothing about him, and that I never saw him before,
nor ever expect to see him again."

I now informed her that I missed a pocket-book containing a considerable
sum of money, and, simply enough, asked her if she had it, or knew
anything about it.

At this, her rage, which before she seemed to have great difficulty in
controlling, burst out in the wildest fury.

"I know nothing about your pocket-book," she exclaimed, stamping
passionately on the floor; "nor do I believe you had one. It's all a
fetch to bilk me out of my reckoning; but I'll take care of you, you
swindler! I'm not to be done that way. Come, down with the price of the
two bottles of wine you and your pal drank--fifteen shillings--or I'll
have the worth of them out of your skin." And she flourished the
candlestick in such a way as led me to expect every instant that it
would descend on my skull.

Terrified by the ferocious manner and threatening attitude of the
termagant, and beginning to feel that the getting safe out of the house
ought to be considered as a most desirable object, I told her, in the
most conciliatory manner I could assume, that I had not a farthing
beyond two or three shillings, which she was welcome to; all my money
having been in the pocket-book which I had lost--I dared not say of
which I had been robbed.

"Let's see what you have, then," she said, extending her hand to receive
the loose silver I had spoken of. I gave it to her.

"Now," she said, "troop, troop with you; walk off, walk off," motioning
me towards the outer door, "and be thankful you have got off so cheaply,
after swindling me out of my reckoning, and trying to injure the
character of my house."

But too happy at the escape permitted me, I hurried out of the house,
next down the stair--a pretty long one--at a couple of steps, and rushed
into the street.

I will not here detain the reader with any attempt at describing my
feelings on this occasion: he will readily conceive them, on taking into
account all the circumstances connected with my unhappy position. My
money gone now, there was no doubt, irretrievably; the market over, no
horse bought, the hour late, and I an entire stranger in the city,
without a penny in my pocket; my senses confused, and a mortal sickness
oppressing me, from the quantity of wine I had drunk, and which, I began
to suspect, had been drugged.

Little as I was then conversant with the ways of the town, I knew there
was but one quarter where I could apply or hope for any assistance in
the recovery of my property. This was the police office.

Thither I accordingly ran, inquiring my way as I went--for I knew not
where it was--with wild distraction in my every look and movement.

On reaching the office, I rushed breathlessly into it, and began
telling my story as promptly and connectedly as my exhaustion and
agitation would permit. My tale was patiently listened to by the two or
three men whom I found on duty in the office. When I had done, they
smiled and shook their heads; expressions which I considered as no good
augury of the recovery of my pocket-book.

One of the men--a sergeant apparently--now put some minute queries to me
regarding the personal appearance of my friend Mr. Lancaster. I gave him
the best description of that gentleman I could; but neither the sergeant
nor any of the others seemed to recognise him. They had no doubt,
however, they said, that he was a professed swindler, and in all
probability one of late importation into the city; that there was little
question that he was the person who had robbed me; adding, what was
indeed obvious enough, that he had assisted in the recovery of my
pocket-book from the first set of thieves who assailed me, that he might
secure it for himself.

The house in the Saltmarket, which I also described as well as I could,
they knew at once, saying it was one of the most infamous dens in the
city. The men now promised that they would use every exertion in their
power to recover my money, but gave me to understand that there was
little or no hope of success. The event justified their anticipations.
They could discover no trace of Lancaster; and as to the house in the
Saltmarket, there was not the slightest evidence of any connection
whatever between its mistress, or any other of its inmates, and either
the robber or the robbery. The police indeed searched the house; but of
course to no purpose.

Being, as I have already said, penniless, and thus without the means of
going anywhere else, I remained in the police office all night; and, in
the hope every hour of hearing something of my pocket-book, hung about
it all next day till towards the evening, when the sergeant, of whom I
have before spoken, came up to me as I was sauntering about the gate,
and told me that it was useless my hanging on any longer about the
office; that all would be done in my case that could be done; but that,
in the meantime, I had better go home, leaving my address; and that if
anything occurred, I would instantly be informed of it. "But I think it
but right to tell you, young man," he added, "that there is scarcely any
chance whatever of your ever recovering a sixpence of your money. I
mention this to prevent you indulging in any false hopes. It is best you
should know the worst at once."

Satisfied that the man spoke truly, and that it was indeed useless my
hanging on any longer, I gave him my name and address, and went away,
although it was with a heavy heart, and without knowing whither I should
go; for to my father's house I could not think of returning, after what
had happened. I would not have faced him for the world. In this matter,
indeed, I did my father a great injustice; for although a little severe
in temper, he was a just and reasonable man, and would most certainly
have made all allowances for what had occurred to me.

The determination--for it now amounted to that--to which I had come, not
to return home, was one, therefore, not warranted by any good reason; it
was wholly the result of one of those mad impulses which so frequently
lead youthful inexperience into error.

On leaving the vicinity of the police office, I sauntered towards the
High Street without knowing or caring whither I went. Having reached the
street just named, I proceeded downwards, still heedless of my way,
until I found myself in the Saltmarket, the scene of my late disaster.

Curiosity, or perhaps some vague, absurd idea of seeing something or
other, I could not tell what, that might lead to the recovery of my
pocket-book, induced me to look about me to see if I could discover the
tavern in which I had been robbed. I was thus employed--that is, gaping
and staring at the windows of the lower flats of the houses on either
side of the street, for I did not recollect on which was the house I
wanted--when a smart little man, dressed in a blue surtout, with a black
stock about his neck, and carrying a cane in his hand, made up to me
with a--

"Looking for any particular place, my lad?"

Taken unawares, and not choosing to enter into any explanations with a
stranger, I simply answered, "No, no."

"Because if you were," continued my new acquaintance, "I should have
been glad to have helped you. But I say, my lad--excuse me," he went on,
now looking earnestly in my face, and perceiving by my eyes that I had
been weeping, which was indeed the case--"you seem to be distressed.
What has happened you? I don't ask from any impertinent curiosity, but
from sympathy, seeing you are a stranger."

Words of kindness in the hour of distress, by whomsoever offered, at
once find their way to the heart, and open up the sluices of its pent-up
feelings. The friendly address of the stranger had this effect on me in
the present instance. I told him at once what had occurred to me.

"Bad business, my lad; bad business indeed," he said. "But don't be cast
down. Fair weather comes after foul. You'll soon make all up again."

This was commonplace enough comfort; but without minding the words, the
intention was good, and with that I was gratified.

My new friend, who had learnt from what I told him that I was penniless,
now proposed that I should take share of a bottle of ale with him.
Certain recollections of another friend, namely, Mr. Lancaster, made me
hesitate, indeed positively decline, this invitation at first; but on my
new acquaintance pressing his kindness, and the melancholy truth
occurring to me that I had now no pocket-book to lose, I yielded, and
accompanied him to a tavern at the foot of the High Street. I may add
that I was the more easily induced to this, that I was in a dreadful
state of exhaustion, having tasted nothing in the shape of either food
or drink for nearly thirty hours.

Having entered the tavern, a bottle of ale and a plate of biscuit
quickly stood before us. My entertainer filled up the glasses; when,
having presented me with one, he raised his own to his lips, wished me
"better luck," and tossed it off. I quickly followed his example, and
never before or since drank anything with so keen a relish. After we had
drunk a second glass each--

"Well, my lad," said my new acquaintance, "what do you propose doing? Do
you intend returning to the plough-tail, eh? I should hardly think
you'll venture home again after such a cursed mishap."

I at once acknowledged that I did not intend returning home again; but
as to what I should do, I did not know.

"Why, now," replied my entertainer, "I think a stout, good-looking,
likely young fellow as you are need be at no loss. There's the army. Did
you ever think of that, eh? The only thing for a lad of spirit. Smart
clothes, good living, and free quarters, with a chance of promotion.
The chance, said I? Why, I might say the certainty. Bounty too, you
young dog! A handful of golden guineas, and pretty girls to court in
every town. List, man, list," he shouted, clapping me on the shoulder,
"and your fortune's made!"

List! It had never occurred to me before. I had never thought, never
dreamt of it. But now that the idea was presented to me, I by no means
disliked it. It was not, however, the flummery of my new acquaintance,
who, I need hardly say, was neither more nor less than a sergeant in
coloured clothes, assumed, I suppose, for the purpose of taking young
fellows like myself unawares,--I say it was not his balderdash, which,
young and raw as I was, I fully perceived, that reconciled me to the
notion of listing. It was because I saw in it a prompt and ready means
of escaping the immediate destitution with which I was threatened, my
foolish determination not to return home having rather gained strength
than weakened, notwithstanding a painful sense of the misery which my
protracted absence must have been occasioning at home. To the sergeant's
proposal of listing, therefore, I at once assented; when the former
calling in the landlord, tendered me in his presence the expressive
shilling.

The corps into which I had listed was the----, then lying in the Tower,
London, there being only the sergeant and two or three men of the
regiment in Glasgow recruiting. The matter of listing settled, the
sergeant bespoke me a bed for the night in the tavern in which we were,
that being his own quarters.

On the following day I was informed, much to my surprise, although by no
means to my regret, that a detachment of recruits for the---- were to be
sent off that evening at nine o'clock by the track boat for Edinburgh,
and from thence by sea to the headquarters of the regiment at London,
and that I was to be of the number. At nine o'clock of the evening,
accordingly, we were shipped at Port-Dundas.

Before leaving Glasgow, however, I made one last call at the police
office to inquire whether any discoveries had been made regarding my
pocket-book, but found that nothing whatever had been heard of it.

On the following day we reached Edinburgh; on the next we were embarked
on board a Leith smack for London, where we arrived in safety on the
fourth day thereafter, and were marched to the Tower, which was at the
time the headquarters of the regiment. Amongst the young men who were of
the party who came up with me from Scotland, there was one with whom I
became particularly intimate, and who was subsequently my comrade. His
name was John Lindsay, a native of Glasgow. He was about my own age, or
perhaps a year older--a lively, active, warm-hearted lad, but of a
restless, roving disposition.

It was, I think, about a fortnight after our arrival in London, that
Lindsay one day, while rummaging a small trunk in the barrack-room,
which had formed the entire of his travelling equipage from Scotland,
stumbled on a letter, with whose delivery he had been entrusted by some
one in Glasgow, but which he had entirely forgotten. It was addressed in
a scrawling hand--"To Susan Blaikie, servant with Henry Wallscourt,
Esq., 19, Grosvenor Square, London."

"Here's a job, Davy," said Lindsay, holding up the letter. "I promised
faithfully to deliver this within an hour after my arrival in London,
and here it is still. But better late than never. Will you go with me
and see the fair maiden to whom this is addressed? It contains, I
believe, a kind of introduction to her, and may perhaps lead to some
sport."

I readily closed with Lindsay's proposal, and in ten minutes after we
set out for Grosvenor Square, which we had no difficulty in finding.
Neither were we long in discovering No. 19, the residence of Henry
Wallscourt, Esq. It was a magnificent house, everything about it
bespeaking a wealthy occupant.

Leaving me on the flagstones, Lindsay now descended into the area; but
in two or three minutes returned, and motioned me with his finger to
come to him.

I did so, when he told me that he had seen Susan Blaikie, and that she
had invited us to come in. Into the house we accordingly went, and were
conducted by Susan, a lively, pretty girl, who welcomed us with great
cordiality, into what appeared to be a housekeeper's room.

My comrade, Lindsay, having given Susan all the Scotch, particularly
Glasgow, news in his budget, the latter left the room for a few minutes,
when she returned with a tray of cold provisions--ham, fowl, and roast
beef.

Placing these before us, and adding a bottle of excellent porter, she
invited us to fall-to. We did so, and executed summary justice on the
good things placed before us.

After this we sat for about half an hour, when we rose to depart. This,
however, she would not permit till we had promised that we would come,
on the following night, and take tea with her and one or two of her
fellow-servants. This promise we readily gave, and as willingly kept.
One of the party, on the night of the tea-drinking, was the footman of
the establishment, Richard Digby--a rakish, dissipated-looking fellow,
with an affected air, and an excessively refined and genteel manner,
that is, as he himself thought it. To others, at least to me, he
appeared an egregious puppy; the obvious spuriousness of his assumed
gentility inspiring a disgust which I found it difficult to suppress.
Neither could I suppress it so effectually as to prevent the fellow
discovering it. He did so; and the consequence was the rise of a hearty
and mutual dislike, which, however, neither of us evinced by any overt
act.

Having found the society of our fair countrywoman and her friends very
agreeable, we--that is, Lindsay and myself--became frequent visitors;
drinking tea with her and her fellow-servants at least two or three
times a week. While this was going on, a detachment of the new recruits,
of whom Lindsay was one, was suddenly ordered to Chatham. I missed my
comrade much after his departure; but as I had by this time established
an intimacy with Susan and her fellow-servants on my own account, I
still continued visiting there, and drinking tea occasionally as
formerly.

It was on one of these occasions, and about ten days after Lindsay had
left London, that as I was leaving Mr. Wallscourt's house at a pretty
late hour--I think about eleven at night--I was suddenly collared by two
men, just as I had ascended the area stair, and was about to step out on
the pavement.

"What's this for?" said I, turning first to the one and then to the
other of my captors.

"We'll tell you that presently," replied one of the men, who had by this
time begun to grope about my person, as if searching for something. In a
moment after--"Ah! let's see what's this," he said, plunging his hand
into one of my coat-pockets, and pulling out a silver table-spoon. "All
right," he added. "Come away, my lad;" and the two forthwith began
dragging me along.

The whole affair was such a mystery to me, and of such sudden
occurrence, that it was some seconds before I could collect myself
sufficiently to put any such calm and rational queries to my captors as
might elicit an explanation of it. All that I could say was merely to
repeat my inquiry as to the meaning of the treatment I was
undergoing--resisting instinctively, the while, the efforts of the men
to urge me forward. This last, however, was vain; for they were two
powerful fellows, and seemed scarcely to feel the resistance I made. To
my reiterated demand of explanation they merely replied that I should
have it presently, but that they rather thought I did not stand greatly
in need of it.

Obliged to rest satisfied, in the meantime, with such evasive answers,
and finding resistance useless, indeed uncalled for, as I was
unconscious of any crime, I now went peaceably along with the men.
Whither they were conducting me the reader will readily guess; it was to
Bow Street.

On being brought into the office, the men conducted me up to a person
who, seated at a desk, was busily employed making entries in a large
book. One of my captors having whispered something into this person's
ear, he turned sharply round and demanded my name. I gave it him.

"The others?" he said.

"What others?" I replied. "I have only one name, and I have given it."

"Pho, pho!" exclaimed he. "Gentlemen of your profession have always a
dozen. However, we'll take what you have given in the meantime." And he
proceeded to make some entries in his book. They related to me, but I
was not permitted to see what they were. The table-spoon which had been
found in my pocket, and which had been placed on the desk before the
official already spoken of, was now labelled and put past, and I was
ordered to be removed.

During all this time I had been loudly protesting my innocence of any
crime; but no attention whatever was paid to me. So little effect,
indeed, had my protestations, that one would have thought, judging by
the unmoved countenances around me, that they did not hear me at all,
for they went on speaking to each other, quite in the same way as if I
had not been present. The only indication I could perceive of a
consciousness of my being there, and of their hearing what I said, was
an occasional faint smile of incredulity. At one time, provoked by my
importunity and my obstinate iteration of my innocence, the official who
was seated at the desk turned fiercely round, exclaiming--

"The spoon, the spoon, friend; what do you say to that--found in your
pocket, eh?"

I solemnly protested that I knew not how it came there; that I had never
put it there, nor had the least idea of its being in my possession till
it was produced by those that searched me.

"A very likely story," said the official, turning quietly round to his
book; "but we'll see all about that by-and-by. Remove him, men."

And I was hurried away, and locked up in a cell for the night.

I cannot say that, when left to myself, I felt much uneasiness regarding
the result of the extraordinary matter that had occurred. I felt
perfectly satisfied that, however awkward and unpleasant my situation
was in the meantime, the following day would clear all up, and set me at
liberty with an unblemished character. From all that had taken place, I
collected that I was apprehended on a charge of robbery; that is, of
abstracting property from Mr. Wallscourt's house, of which the silver
spoon found in my possession was considered a proof. There was much,
however, in the matter of painful and inexplicable mystery. How came
the constables to be so opportunely in the way when I left the house?
and, more extraordinary still, how came the silver spoon into my
possession? Regarding neither of these circumstances could I form the
slightest plausible conjecture; but had no doubt that, whether they
should ever be explained or not, my entire innocence of all such guilt
as the latter of them pointed at, would clearly appear. But, as the
saying has it, "I reckoned without my host." On the following morning I
was brought before the sitting magistrate, and, to my inexpressible
surprise, on turning round a little, saw Richard Digby in the
witness-box. Thinking at first that he was there to give some such
evidence as would relieve me from the imputation under which I lay, I
nodded to him; but he took no further notice of the recognition than by
looking more stern than before.

Presently my case was entered on. Digby was called on to state what he
had to say to the matter. Judge of my consternation, gentle reader, when
I heard him commence the following statement:--

Having premised that he was servant with Mr. Wallscourt, of No. 19,
Grosvenor Square, he proceeded to say that during the space of the three
previous weeks he had from time to time missed several valuable pieces
of plate belonging to his master; that this had happened repeatedly
before he could form the slightest conjecture as to who the thief could
possibly be. At last it occurred to him that the abstraction of the
plate corresponded, in point of time, with the prisoner's (my)
introduction to the house--in other words, that it was from that date
the robberies commenced, nothing of the kind having ever happened
before; that this circumstance led him to suspect me; that in
consequence he had on the previous night placed a silver table-spoon in
such a situation in the servants' hall as should render it likely to be
seen by the prisoner when he came to tea, Susan Blaikie having
previously informed him that he was coming; that, shortly after the
prisoner's arrival, he contrived, by getting Susan and some of the other
servants out of the room, on various pretexts, to have the prisoner left
alone for several minutes; that, on his return, finding the spoon gone,
he had no longer any doubt of the prisoner's guilt; that, on feeling
satisfied of this, he immediately proceeded to the nearest
station-house, and procuring two constables, or policemen, stationed
them at the area gate, with instructions to seize the prisoner the
moment he came out; and that if the spoon was found on him--of which he
had no doubt--to carry him away to Bow Street.

Such, then, was Mr. Digby's statement of the affair; and a very
plausible and connected one, it must be allowed, it was. It carried
conviction to all present, and elicited from the presiding magistrate a
high encomium on that person's fidelity, ability, and promptitude.

The silver spoon, labelled as I had seen it, was now produced, when Mr.
Wallscourt, who was also present, was called on to identify it. This he
at once did, after glancing at the crest and initials which were
engraven on the handle. The charge against me thus laid and
substantiated, I was asked if I had anything to say in my own defence.

Defence! what defence could I make against an accusation so strongly
put, and so amply supported by circumstances? None. I could meet it only
by denial, and by assertions of innocence. This, however, I did, and
with such energy and earnestness--for horror and despair inspired me
with both courage and eloquence--that a favourable impression was
perceptible in the court. The circumstantial statement of Digby,
however, with all its strong probabilities, was not to be overturned by
my bare assertions; and the result was, that I was remanded to prison to
stand trial at the ensuing assizes, Mr. Wallscourt being bound over to
prosecute.

Wretched, however, as my situation was, I had not been many hours in
prison when I regained my composure; soothed by the reflection that,
however disgraceful or unhappy my position might be, it was one in which
I had not deserved being placed. I was further supported by the
conviction, which even the result of my late examination before the
magistrate had not in the least weakened, that my innocence would yet
appear, and that in sufficient time to save me from further legal
prosecution. Buoyed up by these reflections, I became, if not cheerful,
at least comparatively easy in my mind. I thought several times during
my imprisonment of writing to my father,--to whom, by the way, as I
should have mentioned before, I wrote from Edinburgh, when on my way to
London, in order to relieve the minds of my mother and himself from any
apprehensions of anything more serious having happened me, telling them
of my loss, and the way it had occurred, but without telling them that I
had listed, or where I was going,--I say I thought several times during
my confinement of writing to my father, and informing him of the unhappy
circumstances in which I was placed; but, on reflection, it occurred to
me that such a proceeding would only give him and the rest of the family
needless pain, seeing that he could be of no service to me whatever. I
therefore dropped the idea, thinking it better that they should know
nothing about the matter--nothing, at least, until my trial was over,
and my innocence established; concomitant events, as I had no doubt they
would prove. In the meantime the day of trial approached. It came, and
I stood naked and defenceless; for I had no money to employ counsel, no
friends to assist me with advice. I stood at the bar of the Old Bailey
shielded only by my innocence; a poor protection against evidence so
strong and circumstantial as that which pointed to my guilt.

My trial came on. It was of short duration. Its result, what every one
who knew anything of the matter foresaw but myself. I was found guilty,
and sentenced to fourteen years' transportation.

As on a former occasion, I will leave it to the reader himself to form a
conception of what my feelings were when this dreadful sentence rung in
my ears--so horrible, so unexpected. A sudden deafness struck me that,
commingling all sounds, rendered them unintelligible; a film came over
my eyes; my heart fluttered strangely, and my limbs trembled so that I
thought I should have sunk on the floor; but, making a violent effort, I
supported myself; and in a few seconds these agitating sensations so far
subsided as to allow of my retiring from the bar with tolerable
steadiness and composure.

It was several days, however, before I regained entire possession of
myself, and before I could contemplate my position in all its bearings
with anything like fortitude or resignation. On attaining this state, a
thousand wild schemes for obtaining such a reconsideration of my case as
might lead to the discovery of my innocence presented themselves to my
mind. I thought of addressing a letter to the judge who had tried me; to
the foreman of the jury who had found me guilty; to the prosecutor, Mr.
Wallscourt; to the Secretary of State; to the King. A little subsequent
reflection, however, showed me the utter hopelessness of any such
proceeding, as I had still only my simple, unsupported assertions to
oppose to the strong array of positive and circumstantial evidence
against me; that, therefore, no such applications as I contemplated
could be listened to for a moment. Eventually satisfied of this, I came
to the resolution of submitting quietly to my fate in the meantime,
trusting that some circumstance or other would, sooner or later, occur
that would lead to a discovery of the injustice that had been done me.

Writing to my father I considered now out of the question. The same
reasons that induced me to abstain from writing him before my trial,
presented themselves in additional force to prevent me writing him
after. I resolved that he should never know of the misfortune, however
undeserved, that had befallen me. I had all along--that is, since my
confinement--looked for some letter or other communication from Lindsay.
Sometimes I even hoped for a visit from him. But I was disappointed. I
neither saw nor heard anything of him; and from this circumstance
concluded that he, too, thought me guilty, and that this was the cause
of his desertion of me. Friendless and despised, I at once abandoned
myself to fate.

Of poor Susan Blaikie, however, I did hear something; and that was, that
she was discharged from her situation. This intelligence distressed me
much, although I had foreseen that it must necessarily happen.

In the apartment or cell into which I was placed after having received
sentence, there were five or six young men in similar circumstances with
myself--not as regarded innocence of crime, but punishment. They were
all under sentence of banishment for various terms.

From these persons I kept as much aloof as possible. My soul sickened at
the contamination to which I was exposed by the society of such
ruffians, for they were all of the very worst description of London
characters, and I did all I could to maintain the distinction between
myself and them, which my innocence of all crime gave me a right to
observe.

Under this feeling, it was my habit to sit in a remote part of the cell,
and to take no share whatever either in the conversation or in the
coarse practical jokes with which they were in the habit of beguiling
the tedium of their confinement.

There was one occasion, however, on which I felt myself suddenly caught
by an interest in their proceedings.

Seeing them one day all huddled together, listening with great delight
to one of their number who was reading a letter aloud, I gradually
approached nearer, curious to know what could be in this letter to
afford them so much amusement.

Conceive my astonishment and surprise when, after listening for a few
minutes, I discovered that the subject which tickled my fellow-prisoners
so highly was a description of my own robbery; that is, of the robbery
in Glasgow of which I had been the victim.

It was written with considerable humour, and contained such a minute and
faithful account of the affair, that I had no doubt it had been written
by Lancaster. Indeed it could have been written by no one else.

The letter in question, then, was evidently one from that person to a
companion in crime who was amongst those with whom I was associated--no
doubt he who was reading it. The writer, however, seemed also well known
to all the other parties.

In the letter itself, as well as in the remarks of the audience on it,
there was a great deal of slang, and a great many cant phrases which I
could not make out. But, on the whole, I obtained a pretty correct
knowledge of the import of both.

The writer's description of me and of my worldly wisdom was not very
flattering. He spoke of me as a regular flat, and the fleecing me as one
of the easiest and pleasantest operations he had ever performed. He
concluded by saying that as he found there was nothing worth while to be
done in Scotland, he intended returning to London in a few days.

"More fool he," said one of the party, on this passage being read. "That
affair at Blackwall, in which Bob was concerned, has not yet blown over,
and he'll be lagged, as sure as he lives, before he's a week in London."

"Well, so much the better," said another. "In that case we'll have him
across the water with us, and be all the merrier for his company."

It was, I think, somewhat less than a month after this--for we were
detained in prison altogether about two-months after sentence till a
sufficient number had accumulated for transportation--that we, meaning
myself and those in the ward in which I was confined, were favoured with
a new companion.

Throwing open the door of our ward one afternoon, the turnkey ushered in
amongst us a person dressed out in the first style of fashion, and
immediately again secured the door. At first I could not believe that so
fine a gentleman could possibly be a convict; I thought rather that he
must be a friend of some one of my fellow-prisoners. But I was quickly
undeceived in this particular, and found that he was indeed one of _us_.

On the entrance of this convict dandy, the whole of my fellow-prisoners
rushed towards him, and gave him a cordial greeting.

"Glad to see you, Nick," said the fellow who had foretold the speedy
apprehension of the letter-writer, as already related. "Cursed fool to
come to London so soon. Knew you would be nabbed. What have you got?"

"Fourteen," replied the new-comer, with a shrug of his shoulders.

During all this time I had kept my eyes fixed on the stranger, whom I
thought I should know. For a while, however, I was greatly puzzled to
fix on any individual as identical with him; but at length it struck me
that he bore a wonderful resemblance to my Glasgow friend Lancaster.

His appearance was now, indeed, greatly changed. He was, for one thing,
splendidly attired, as I have already said, while at the time I had the
pleasure of knowing him first he was very indifferently dressed. His
face, too, had undergone some alterations. He had removed a bushy pair
of whiskers which he sported in Glasgow, and had added to his
adventitious characteristics a pair of green spectacles. It was these
last that perplexed me most, in endeavouring to make out his identity.
But he soon laid them aside, as being now of no further use--an
operation which he accompanied by sundry jokes on their utility, and the
service they had done him in the way of preventing inconvenient
recognitions. Notwithstanding all these changes, however, in the
new-comer's appearance, I soon became quite convinced that he was no
other than Lancaster; and, under this impression, I took an opportunity
of edging towards him, and putting the question plumply to him, although
under breath, for I did not care that the rest should hear it.

"Your name, sir, is Lancaster, I think?" said I.

He stared in my face for a second or two without making any reply, or
seeming to recognise me. At length--

"No, youngster, it isn't," he said with the most perfect assurance.

"But you have taken that name on an occasion?" said I.

"Oh, perhaps I may," he replied coolly. "I have taken a great many names
in my day. I'll give you a hundred of them at a penny a dozen. But,
Lancaster, let me see," and he kept looking hard at me as he spoke.
"Why, it can't be," he added, with a sudden start. "Impossible! eh?" and
he looked still more earnestly at me. "Are you from Glasgow, young un?"

I said I was.

"Did you ever see me there?"

I shook my head, and said, to my cost I had.

How my friend Mr. Lancaster received this intimation of our former
acquaintance I must reserve for another number, as I must also do the
sequel of my adventures; for I have yet brought the reader but half
through the history of my chequered life.




THE CONVICT;


BEING THE SEQUEL TO "DAVID LORIMER."

The reader will recollect that when he and I parted, at the conclusion
of the last number, I had just intimated to Mr. Lancaster my conviction
of our having had a previous acquaintance. Does the reader imagine that
that gentleman was in any way discomposed at this recognition on my
part, or at the way in which it was signified? that he felt ashamed or
abashed? The sequel will show whether he did or not.

On my replying to his inquiry whether I had ever seen him in Glasgow, by
shaking my head, and saying that I had to my cost, he burst into a loud
laugh, and, striking his thigh with as much exultation as if he had just
made one of the most amusing discoveries imaginable, exclaimed--

"All right. Here, my pals," turning to the other prisoners. "Here's a
queer concern. Isn't this the very flat, Dick," addressing one of their
number, "that I did so clean in Glasgow, and about whom I wrote you! The
fellow whom I met in the show."

"No! Possible!" exclaimed several voices, whose owners now crowded about
me with a delighted curiosity, and began bantering me in those slang
terms in which they could best express their witticisms.

I made no reply to either their insolences or their jokes; but,
maintaining an obstinate silence, took an early opportunity of
withdrawing to a remote part of the apartment. Nor did I--seeing how
idle it would be to say a word more on the subject of the robbery which
had been committed on me in Glasgow, as it would only subject me to
ridicule and abuse--ever afterwards open my lips to Lancaster on the
matter: neither did he to me, and there the affair ended; for, in a few
days after, he was removed, for what reason I know not, to another cell,
and I never saw him again.

Let me here retrograde for a moment. In alluding, in the preceding
number, to the various wild ideas that occurred to me after my
condemnation, on the subject of obtaining a reconsideration of my case,
I forgot to mention that of applying to the colonel of my regiment; but,
on reflection, this seemed as absurd as the others, seeing that I had
been little more than three weeks in the corps, and could therefore lay
claim to no character at the hands of any one belonging to it. I was
still a stranger amongst them. Besides, I found, from no interference
whatever having been made in my behalf, that I had been left entirely in
the hands of the civil law. Inquiries had no doubt been made into my
case by the commanding officer of my regiment, but with myself no direct
communication had taken place. My connection with the corps, therefore,
I took it for granted, was understood to be completely severed, and that
I was left to undergo the punishment the sentence of the civil law had
awarded.

To resume. In about a week after the occurrence of the incident with
Lancaster above described, I was removed to the hulks, where I remained
for somewhat more than a month, when I was put on board a convict ship,
about to sail for New South Wales, along with a number of other
convicts, male and female; none of them, I hope, so undeserving their
fate as I was.

All this time I had submitted patiently to my destiny, seeing it was
now inevitable, and said nothing to any one of my innocence; for, in the
first place, I found that every one of my companions in misfortune were,
according to their own accounts, equally innocent, and, in the next,
that nobody believed them.

It was in the evening we were embarked on board the convict ship; with
the next tide we dropped down the river; and, ere the sun of the
following day had many hours risen, found ourselves fairly at sea.

For upwards of three weeks we pursued our course prosperously, nothing
in that time occurring of the smallest consequence; and as the wind had
been all along favourable, our progress was so great, that many of us
began thinking of the termination of our voyage. These, however, were
rather premature reflections, as we had yet as many months to be at sea
as we had been weeks.

It was about the end of the period just alluded to, that as I was one
night restlessly tossing on my hard straw mattress, unable to sleep,
from having fallen into one of those painful and exciting trains of
thought that so frequently visit and so greatly add to the miseries of
the unfortunate, my ear suddenly caught the sounds of whispering.
Diverted from my reflections by the circumstance, I drew towards the
edge of my sleeping berth, and thrusting my head a little way out--the
place being quite dark--endeavoured, by listening attentively, to make
out who the speakers were, and what was the subject of their
conversation. The former, after a little time, I discovered to be three
of my fellow-convicts--one of them a desperate fellow, of the name of
Norcot, a native of Middlesex, who had been transported for a highway
robbery, and who had been eminently distinguished for superior dexterity
and daring in his infamous profession. The latter, however--namely, the
subject of their conversation--I could not make out; not so much from a
difficulty of overhearing what they said, as from the number of slang
words they employed. Their language was to me all but wholly
unintelligible; for although my undesired association with them had
enabled me to pick up a few of their words, I could make nothing of
their jargon when spoken colloquially.

Unable, therefore--although suspecting something wrong--to arrive at any
conclusion regarding the purpose or object of this midnight
conversation, I took no notice of it to any one, but determined on
watching narrowly the future proceedings of Norcot and his council.

On the following night the whispering was again repeated. I again
listened, but with nearly as little success as before. From what I did
make out, however, I was led to imagine that some attempt on the ship
was contemplated; and in this idea I was confirmed, when Norcot, on the
following day, taking advantage of a time when none of the seamen or
soldiers, who formed our guard, were near, slapped me on the shoulder
with a--

"Well, my pal, how goes it?"

Surprised at this sudden familiarity on the part of a man from whom I
had always most especially kept aloof, and who, I was aware, had marked
my shyness, as he had never before sought to exchange words with me, it
was some seconds before I could make him any answer. At length--

"If you mean as to my health," said I, "I am very well."

"Ay, ay; but I don't mean that," replied Norcot. "How do you like your
quarters, my man? How do you like this sort of life, eh?"

"Considering all circumstances, it's well enough; as well as ought
reasonably to be expected," said I, in a tone meant to discourage
farther conversation on the subject. But he was not to be so put off.

"Ay, in the meantime," said he; "but wait you till we get to New South
Wales; you'll see a difference then, my man, I'm thinking. You'll be
kept working, from sunrise till sunset, up to the middle in mud and
water, with a chain about your neck. You'll be locked up in a dungeon at
night, fed upon mouldy biscuit, and, on the slightest fault, or without
any fault at all, be flogged within an inch of your life with a
cat-o'-nine-tails. How will ye like that, eh?"

"_That_ I certainly should not like," I replied. "But I hope you're
exaggerating a little." I knew he was.

"Not a bit of it," said Norcot. "Come here, Knuckler;" and he motioned
to a fellow-convict to come towards him. "I've been telling this young
cove here what he may expect when we reach our journey's end, but he
won't believe me." Having repeated the description of convict life which
he had just given me--

"Now, Knuckler, isn't that the truth?" he said.

"True as gospel," exclaimed Knuckler, with a hideous oath; adding--"Ay,
and in some places they are still worse used."

"You hear that?" said Norcot. "I wasn't going to bamboozle you with any
nonsense, my lad. We're all in the same lag, you know, and must stick by
one another."

My soul revolted at this horrible association, but I took care to
conceal my feelings.

Norcot went on:--"Now, seeing what we have to expect when we get to
t'other side of the water, wouldn't he be a fool who wouldn't try to
escape it if he could, eh? Ay, although at the risk of his life?"

At this moment we were interrupted by a summons to the deck, it being
my turn, with that of several others, to enjoy the luxury of inhaling
the fresh sea breeze above. Norcot had thus only time to add, as I left
him--

"I'll speak to you another time, my cove."

Having now no doubt that some mischief was hatching amongst the
convicts, and that the conversation that had just passed was intended at
once to sound my disposition and to incline me towards their projects, I
felt greatly at a loss what to do. That I should not join in their
enterprise, of whatsoever nature it might be, I at once determined. But
I felt that this was not enough, and that I was bound to give notice of
what I had seen and heard to those in command of the vessel, and that
without loss of time, as there was no saying how wild or atrocious might
be the scheme of these desperadoes, or how soon they might put it in
execution.

Becoming every moment more impressed with the conviction that this was
my duty, I separated myself as far as I could from my companions, and,
watching an opportunity, said, in a low tone, to the mate of the vessel,
whom a chance movement brought close to where I stood--

"Mischief going on. Could I have a moment's private speech of the
captain?"

The man stared at me for an instant with a look of non-comprehension, as
I thought; and, without saying a word, he then resumed the little piece
of duty he had been engaged in when I interrupted him, and immediately
after went away, still without speaking, and indeed without taking any
further notice of me.

I now thought he had either not understood me, or was not disposed to
pay any attention to what I said. I was mistaken in my conjectures, and
in one of them did injustice to his intelligence.

A moment after he left me I saw the captain come out of the cabin, and
look hard at me for a second or two. I observed him then despatch the
steward towards me. On that person's approach--

"I say, my lad," he exclaimed, so as to be heard by the rest of the
convicts on deck, "can you wipe glasses and clean knives, eh? or brush
shoes, or anything of that kind?"

Not knowing his real purpose in thus addressing me, I said I had no
experience in that sort of employment, but would do the best I could.

"Oh, if you be willing," he said, "we'll soon make you able. I want a
hand just now; so come aft with me, and I'll find you work, and show you
how to do it too."

I followed him to the cabin; but I had not been there a minute when the
captain came down, and, taking me into a state room, said--

"Well, my lad, what's all this? You wanted a private word of me, and
hinted to the mate that you knew of some mischief going on amongst the
convicts. What is it?"

I told him of the secret whisperings at night I had overheard, and of
the discourse Norcot had held with me; mentioning, besides, several
expressions which I thought pointed to a secret conspiracy of some kind
or other.

The captain was of the same opinion, and after thanking me for my
information, and telling me that he would take care that the part I had
acted should operate to my advantage on our arrival in the colony, he
desired me to take no notice of what had passed, but to mingle with my
associates as formerly, and to leave the whole matter to him.

To cover appearances, I was subsequently detained in the steward's room
for about a couple of hours, when I was sent back to my former quarters;
not, however, without having been well entertained by the steward, by
the captain's orders.

What intermediate steps the captain took I do not know, but on that
night Norcot and other ten of the most desperate of the convicts were
thrown into irons.

Subsequent inquiry discovered a deep-laid plot to surprise the guard,
seize their arms, murder the captain and crew and all who resisted, and
take possession of the ship.

Whether such a desperate attempt would have been successful or not, is
doubtful; but there is no question that a frightful scene of bloodshed
would have taken place; nor that, if the ruffians had managed well, and
judiciously timed their attack, they had some chance, and probably not a
small one, of prevailing.

As it was, however, the matter was knocked on the head; for not only
were the leaders of the conspiracy heavily ironed, but they were placed
in different parts of the ship, wholly apart, and thus could neither act
nor hold the slightest communication with each other.

Although the part I had acted in this affair did not operate in my
favour with the greater part of my fellow-convicts,--for,
notwithstanding all our caution, a strong suspicion prevailed amongst
them that I was the informer,--it secured me the marked favour of all
others on board the ship, and procured me many little indulgences which
would not otherwise have been permitted, and, generally, much milder
treatment than was extended to the others; and I confess I was not
without an idea that I deserved it.

On our arrival at Sydney, whither I now hurry the reader, nothing
subsequent to the incident just recorded having occurred in the
interval with which I need detain him, I was immediately assigned, with
several others, to a farmer, a recently arrived emigrant, who occupied a
grant of land of about a thousand acres in the neighbourhood of the town
of Maitland.

Before leaving the ship, the captain added to his other kindnesses an
assurance that he would not fail to represent my case--meaning with
reference to the service I had done him in giving information of the
conspiracy amongst the convicts--to the governor, and that he had no
doubt of its having a favourable effect on my future fortunes, provided
I seconded it by my own good conduct.

The person to whom we had been assigned, an Englishman, being on the
spot waiting us, we were forthwith clapped into a covered waggon, and
driven off to our destination, our new master following us on horseback.

The work to which we were put on the farm was very laborious,
consisting, for several weeks, in clearing the land of trees; felling,
burning, and grubbing up the roots. But we were well fed, and, on the
whole, kindly treated in other respects; so that, although our toil was
severe, we had not much to complain of.

In this situation I remained for a year and a half, and had the
gratification of enjoying, during the greater part of that time, the
fullest confidence of my employer, whose good opinion I early won by my
orderly conduct, and--an unusual thing amongst convicts--by my attention
to his interests.

On leaving him, he gave me, unasked, a testimonial of character, written
in the strongest terms.

I was now again returned on the hands of Government, to await the demand
of some other settler for my services.

In the meantime I had heard nothing of the result of the captain's
representation in my behalf to the governor, but had no doubt I would
reap the benefit of it on the first occasion that I should have a favour
to ask. The first thing in this way that I had to look for was what is
called a ticket of leave; that is, a document conferring exemption for a
certain period from Government labour, and allowing the party possessing
it to employ himself in any lawful way he pleases, and for his own
advantage, during the time specified by the ticket. My sentence,
however, having been for fourteen years, I could not, in the ordinary
case, look for this indulgence till the expiration of six years, such
being the colonial regulations.

But imagining the good service I had done in the convict ship would
count for something, and probably induce the governor to shorten my term
of probation, I began now to think of applying for the indulgence. This
idea I shortly after acted upon, and drew up a memorial to the personage
just alluded to; saying nothing, however, of my innocence of the crime
for which I had been transported, knowing that, as such an assertion
would not be believed, it would do much more harm than good. In this
memorial, however, I enclosed the letter of recommendation given me by
my last master.

It was eight or ten days before I heard anything of my application. At
the end of that time, however, I received a very gracious answer. It
said that my "praiseworthy conduct" on board the ship in which I came to
the colony had been duly reported by the captain, and that it would be
remembered to my advantage; that, at the, expiry of my second year in
the colony, of which there were six months yet to run, a ticket of leave
would be granted me--thus abridging the period by four years; and that,
if I continued to behave as well as I had done, I might expect the
utmost indulgence that Government could extend to one in my situation.

With this communication, although it did not immediately grant the
prayer of my petition, I was much gratified, and prepared to submit
cheerfully to the six months' compulsory labour which were yet before
me.

Shortly after this I was assigned to another settler, in the
neighbourhood of Paramatta. This was a different sort of person from the
last I had served, and, I am sorry to say, a countryman. His name I need
not give; for although the doing so could no longer affect him, he being
long dead, it might give pain to his relatives, several of whom are
alive both here and in New South Wales. This man was a tyrant, if ever
there was one, and possessed of all the passion and caprice of the worst
description of those who delight in lording it over their
fellow-creatures. There was not a week that he had not some of my
unhappy fellow-servants before a magistrate, often for the most trivial
faults--a word, a look--and had them flogged by sentence of the court,
by the scourger of the district, till the blood streamed from their
backs. Knowing how little consideration there is for the unhappy convict
in all cases of difference with his taskmaster, and that however unjust
or unreasonable the latter's complaints may be, they are always readily
entertained by the subordinate authorities, and carefully recorded
against the former to his prejudice, I took care to give him no offence.
To say nothing of his positive orders, I obeyed his every slightest wish
with a promptitude and alacrity that left him no shadow of ground to
complain of me. It was a difficult task; but it being for my interest
that no complaint of me, just or unjust, should be put on record
against me, I bore all with what I must call exemplary patience and
fortitude.

I have already said that my new master was a man of the most tyrannical
disposition--cruel, passionate, and vindictive. He was all this; and his
miserable fate--a fate which overtook him while I was in his
employment--was, in a great measure, the result of his ungovernable and
merciless temper.

Some of the wretched natives of the country--perhaps the most miserable
beings on the face of the earth, as they are certainly the lowest in the
scale of intellect of all the savage tribes that wander on its
surface--used to come occasionally about our farm, in quest of a morsel
of food. Amongst these were frequently women with infants on their
backs. If my master was out of the way when any of these poor creatures
came about the house, his wife, who was a good sort of woman, used to
relieve them; and so did we, also, when we had anything in our power.
Their treatment, however, was very different when our master happened to
be at home. The moment he saw any of these poor blacks approaching, he
used to run into the house for his rifle, and on several occasions fired
at and wounded the unoffending wretches. At other times he hounded his
dogs after them, himself pursuing and hallooing with as much excitement
as if he had been engaged in the chase of some wild beasts instead of
human beings--beings as distinctly impressed as himself with the image
of his God.

It is true that these poor creatures were mischievous sometimes, and
that they would readily steal any article to which they took a fancy.
But in beings so utterly ignorant, and so destitute of all moral
perceptions, such offences could hardly be considered as criminal; not
one, at any rate, deserving of wounds and death at the caprice of a
fellow-creature acting on his own impulses, unchecked by any legal or
judicial control. Besides, it were easy to prevent the depredations of
these poor creatures--easy to drive them off without having recourse to
violence.

The humanity and forbearance, however, which such a mode of proceeding
with the aborigines would require was not to be found in my master.
Fierce repulsion and retaliation were the only means he would have
recourse to in his mode of treating them; and the consequence was, his
inspiring the natives with a hatred of him, and a desire of vengeance
for his manifold cruelties towards them, which was sure, sooner or
later, to end in his destruction. It did so. One deed of surpassing
cruelty which he perpetrated accomplished his fate.

One day, seeing two or three natives, amongst whom was a woman with a
young infant on her back, passing within a short distance of the house,
not approaching it--for he was now so much dreaded by these poor
creatures that few came to the door--my master, as usual, ran in for his
rifle, and calling his dogs around him, gave chase to the party.

The men being unencumbered, fled on seeing him, and being remarkably
swift of foot, were soon out of his reach. Not so the poor woman with
the child on her back: she could not escape; and at her the savage
ruffian fired, killing both her and the infant with the same murderous
shot.

This double murder was of so unprovoked, so cold-blooded, and atrocious
a nature, that it is probable, little as the life of a native was
accounted in those days, that my master would have been called upon to
answer for his crime before the tribunals of the colony; but retribution
overtook him by another and a speedier course.

On the following day my master came out of the house, about ten o'clock
in the forenoon, with an axe in one hand, and the fatal rifle, his
constant companion, with which he had perpetrated the atrocious deed on
the preceding day, in the other, and coming up to me, told me that he
was going to a certain spot in an adjoining wood to cut some timber for
paling, and that he desired I should come to him two hours after with
one of the cars or sledges in use on the farm, to carry home the cut
wood. Having said this, he went off, little dreaming of the fate that
awaited him.

At the time appointed I went with a horse and sledge to the wood, but
was much surprised to find that my master was not at the spot where he
said he would be;--a surprise which was not a little increased by
perceiving, from two or three felled sticks that lay around, that he had
been there, but had done little--so little, that he could not have been
occupied, as I calculated, for more than a quarter of an hour. Thinking,
however, that wherever he had gone he would speedily return, I sat down
to await him; but he came not. An entire hour elapsed, and still he did
not make his appearance. Beginning now to suspect that some accident had
happened him, I hurried home to inquire if they had seen or heard
anything of him there. They had not. His family became much alarmed for
his safety--a feeling in which my conscience forbids me to say that I
participated.

Two of my fellow-servants now accompanied me back to the wood, which it
was proposed we should search. This, so soon as we had reached the spot
where my master had appointed to meet me, and where, as already
mentioned, he had evidently been, we began to do, whooping and hallooing
at the same time to attract his attention should he be anywhere within
hearing.

For a long while our searching and shouting were vain. At length one of
my companions, who had entered a tangled patch of underwood which we had
not before thought of looking, suddenly uttered a cry of horror. We ran
up to him, and found him gazing on the dead body of our master, who lay
on his face, transfixed by a native spear, which still stood upright in
his back. It was one of those spears which the aborigines of New South
Wales use, on occasion, as missiles, and which they throw with an
astonishing force and precision.

Such, then, was the end of this cruel man; and that it exceeded his
deserts can hardly be maintained.

Luckily for me, my period of service with my late master was at this
time about out. A few days more, and I became entitled to my ticket of
leave. For this indulgence I applied when the time came, and it was
immediately granted me for one year. On obtaining my ticket I proceeded
to Sydney, as the most likely place to fall in with some employment. On
this subject, however, I felt much at a loss; for not having been bred
to any mechanical trade, I could do nothing in that way. Farming was the
only business of which I knew anything; and in this, my father having
been an excellent farmer, I was pretty well skilled. My hope, therefore,
was, that I would find some situation as a farm overseer, and thought
Sydney, although a town, the likeliest place to fall in with or hear of
an employer. On arriving in Sydney, I proceeded to the house of a
countryman of the name of Lawson, who kept a tavern, and to whom I
brought a letter of introduction from a relative of his own who had been
banished for sedition, and who was one of my fellow-labourers in the
last place where I had served. On reading the letter, Lawson, who was a
kind-hearted man, exclaimed--

"Puir Jamie, puir fallow; and hoo is he standin't oot?"

I assured him that he was bearing his fate manfully, but that he had
been in the service of a remorseless master.

"Ay, I ken him," said Lawson. "A man that's no gude to his ain canna be
gude to ithers."

"You must speak of him now, however, in the past tense," said I.
"Mr.----- is dead."

"Dead!" exclaimed Lawson, with much surprise. "When did he die?"

I told him, and also of the manner of his death.

"Weel, that is shockin'," he remarked; "but, upon my word, better
couldna hae happened him, for he was a cruel-hearted man." Then,
reverting to his relative, "Puir Jamie," he said; "but I think we'll
manage to get Jamie oot o' his scrape by-and-by. I hae gude interest wi'
the governor, through a certain acquaintance, and houpe to be able to
get him a free pardon in a whily. But he maun just submit a wee in the
meantime."

"But anent yoursel, my man," continued Lawson, "what can I do for ye?
Jamie, here, speaks in the highest terms o' ye, and begs me to do what I
can for ye; and that I'll willingly do on his account. What war' ye bred
to?"

I told him that I had been bred to the farming business, and that I
should like to get employment as a farm overseer or upper servant, to
engage for a year.

"Ay, just noo, just noo," said honest Lawson. "Weel, I'll tell you what
it is, and it's sae far lucky: there was a decent, respectable-looking
man here the day, a countryman o' our ain--and I believe he'll sleep
here the nicht--wha was inquirin' if I kent o' ony decent, steady lad
who had been brocht up in the farmin' line. I kenna hoo they ca' the
man, but he has been in my house, noo, twa or three times. He's only twa
or three months arrived in the colony, and is settled somewhere in the
neighbourhood o' Liverpool--our Liverpool, ye ken, no the English
Liverpool. He seems to be in respectable circumstances. Noo, if he comes
to sleep here the nicht, as I hae nae doot he will, seein' there's nae
coach for Liverpool till the morn's mornin'--I'll mention you till him,
and maybe ye may mak a bargain."

I thanked Lawson for his kindness, and was about leaving the house, with
a promise to call back in the evening, when he stopped me, and insisted
on my taking some refreshment. This, which consisted of some cold roast
fowl and a glass of brandy and water, I readily accepted. When I had
partaken of his hospitality I left the house, repeating my promise to
call again in the evening. The interval, knowing nobody in Sydney, I
spent in sauntering about the town.

On the approach of evening, I again returned to Lawson's. He was
standing in the doorway when I came forward.

"Come awa, lad," he said, with a glad face, on seeing me. "Your frien's
here, and I hae been speakin' to him aboot ye, and he seems inclined to
treat wi' you. But he's takin' a bit chack o' dinner 'enoo, sae we'll
let him alane for twa or three minutes. Stap ye awa in there to the bar,
in the meanwhile, and I'll let him ken in a wee that ye're here."

I did so. In about ten minutes after, Lawson came to me, and said the
gentleman up stairs would be glad to see me. I rose and followed him.
We entered the room, the worthy landlord leading the way. The stranger,
with his elbow resting on the table, was leaning his head thoughtfully
on his hand when we entered. He gazed at me for an instant wildly; he
sprang from his chair; he clasped me in his arms. I returned the
embrace. Reader, it was my own father!

"Davie, my son," he exclaimed, so soon as his surprise and emotion would
permit him to speak, "how, in the name of all that's wonderful, has this
come about? Where are you from? how came you here? and where on earth
have you been all this weary time, since you left us?"

It was several minutes before I could make any reply. At length--

"I have much to tell you, father," I said, glancing at the same time
towards Lawson, who stood with open mouth and staring eyes, lost in
wonder at the extraordinary scene, which he yet could not fully
comprehend.

Understanding, however, the hint conveyed in that look, the worthy man
instantly quitted the apartment, leaving us to ourselves. On his doing
so, I sat down at table with my father, and related to him the whole
history of my misfortunes, without reserve or extenuation.

The narrative grieved and distressed him beyond measure; for, until I
told him, he had no idea I stood before him a convicted felon; his first
impression naturally being that I had come to the colony of my own free
will.

Unlike all others, however, he, my poor father, believed implicitly my
assertions of entire innocence of the crime for which I had been
transported. But he felt bitterly for the degrading situation in which I
stood, and from which neither my own conscious innocence nor his
convictions, he was but too sensible, could rescue me in so far as
regarded the opinion of the world.

Having told my father my story, he told me his. It was simply this--the
story of hundreds, thousands. Tempted by the favourable accounts he had
heard and read of Australia, he had come to the resolution of
emigrating; had, with this view, sold off at home; and here he was. He
added that he had obtained a grant of land, of about 500 acres, in the
neighbourhood of Liverpool, on very favourable terms; that although he
had not found everything quite so suitable or so well-ordered as he had
expected, he had no doubt of being able to do very well when once he
should have got matters put in proper train. He said he had already got
a very good house erected on the farm, and that although their situation
for the first two or three months was bad enough, they were now pretty
comfortable; and he hoped that, with my assistance--seeing, as he
interpolated with a faint smile, I had just cast up in the nick of
time--they would soon make things still better.

"Your poor mother, Davie," continued my father, recurring to a subject
which we had already discussed--for my first inquiries had been after
that dear parent, who, I was delighted to learn, was in perfect good
health, although sunk in spirits in consequence of long mental suffering
on my account,--"Your poor mother, Davie," he said, "will go distracted
with joy at the sight of you. Her thoughts by day, her dreams by night,
have been of you, Davie. But," he added, seeing the tears streaming down
my cheeks, "I will not distress you by dwelling on the misery you have
occasioned her. It's all over now, I trust, and you will compensate for
the past. Neither will I say a word as to the folly of your conduct in
flying your father's house as you did. You have paid dearly for that
false step; and God forbid, my son, that I, your father, should add to
the punishment. You are, I perceive, too sensible of the folly to render
it necessary. So, of that no more."

Of that folly I was indeed sensible--bitterly sensible; and could not
listen to the calm, rational, and kind language of my father, without
looking back with amazement at the stupidity of my conduct. It now
seemed to me to have been the result of utter insanity--madness. I could
neither recall nor comprehend the motives and impulses under which I had
acted; and could only see the act itself standing forth in naked,
inexplicable absurdity. Recurring again to the circumstances which had
led to my present unhappy position, and which were always floating
uppermost in my father's mind--

"That scoundrel, Digby," he said, "must have been at the bottom of the
mischief, Davie. It must have been he who put the spoon into your
pocket. What a fiendish contrivance!"

"I have always thought so, father," I replied; "and on my trial ventured
to hint it, as I also did to the turnkeys and jailers; but although none
said so directly, I saw very clearly that all considered it as a
ridiculous invention--a clumsy way of accounting for a very plain fact."

My father now proposed that I should start with him on the following
morning, per coach, for Liverpool, from which his farm was distant an
easy walk of some six or seven miles. On the following morning,
accordingly, after having duly acknowledged our worthy host's kindness,
we took our seats on the outside of the coach, and were soon whirling it
away merrily toward our destination.

During our journey, it gave both my father and I much painful thought
how we should break the matter of my unhappy position to my mother. It
would be death to her to learn it. At first we thought of concealing the
circumstances altogether; but the chances of her hearing it from others,
or making the discovery herself when she was unprepared for it, through
a hundred different means, finally determined us on communicating the
unpleasant intelligence ourselves; that is, my father undertook the
disagreeable task, meaning, however, to choose time and circumstance,
and to allow a day or two to elapse before he alluded to it.

Having arrived at Liverpool, we started on foot for my father's farm.
Should I attempt it, I would not find it easy to describe what were my
feelings at this moment, arising from the prospect of so soon beholding
that dear parent, whose image had ever been present to my mind, whose
kind tones were ever sounding in my ears like some heart-stirring and
well-remembered melody. They were overpowering. But when my father,
after we had walked for about an hour, raised his stick, and, pointing
to a neat farm-steading on the slope of a hill, and on the skirt of a
dense mountain forest that rose high behind it, said, "There's the
house, Davie," I thought I should have sunk on the ground. I had never
felt so agitated, excepting in that unhappy hour when I stood at the bar
of the Old Bailey, and heard sentence of transportation awarded against
me. But I compare the feelings on these two occasions only as regards
their intensity: in nature they were very different indeed. On the
former, they were those of excruciating agony; on the latter, those of
excessive joy. As we approached the house, I descried one at the door.
It was a female figure. It was my mother. I gasped for breath. I flew
over the ground. I felt it not beneath my feet. I would not be
restrained by my father, who kept calling to me. My mother fixed her
gaze on me, wondering at my excited manner--wondering who I could be;
all unconscious, as I could perceive by her vacant though earnest look,
that I was her son--- the darling of her heart. But a mother's eye is
quick. Another moment, and a shriek of wild joy and surprise announced
that I was recognised; in the next, we were in each other's arms, wrapt
in a speechless agony of bliss!

My father, whom I had left a long way behind, came up to us while we
were locked together in this silent embrace, and stood by us for a few
seconds without speaking a word, then passed quietly into the house,
leaving us to ourselves.

"My son, my son!" exclaimed my mother, so soon as the fulness of her
feelings would allow of utterance, "you have been cruel, cruel to your
mother. But I will not upbraid you. In seeing you again--in clasping you
once more to my bosom--I am repaid a thousandfold for all you have made
me suffer."

With what further passed between us, I need not detain the reader.

The tender expressions of a mother and son meeting under such
circumstances as we met, being the language of nature, the embodiment of
feelings which all ran conceive, there is no occasion for dilating on
them in my particular case. I pass on to other things of more general,
or at least more uncommon interest.

The first day of my arrival at my father's farm was passed entirely
within doors in social communion, and in bringing up that arrear of
interchange in thought and feeling which our separation for so long a
period had created.

On the following day I commenced work with my father; and although I
had done my duty faithfully by both the masters I had served since I
came to New South Wales, I soon found the difference between compulsory
and voluntary labour.

In the former case I certainly wrought diligently, but as certainly not
cheerfully. There was an absence of spirit that quickly gave rise to
listlessness and fatigue, and that left the physical energies weak and
languid, in the latter case, it was far otherwise. Toil as I might, I
felt no diminution of strength. I went from task to task, some of them
far harder than any I had yet encountered, with unabated vigour, and
accomplished with ease double the work I ever could get through with
when in bondage.

The joint labours of my father and myself, assisted occasionally by
hired service--for he could not endure the idea of having convicts about
him--soon put a new and promising face on the farm.

We cleared, we drained, we enclosed, and we sowed and planted, until we
left ourselves comparatively little to do--I mean in the way of hard
labour--but to await the returns of our industry.

It was some time after we had got things into this state--that is, I
think about three months after I had joined my father--that the latter
received intelligence of a band of bushmen or bushrangers having been
seen in the neighbourhood. He was assured that they were skulking in the
adjoining forest, and that we might every night expect our house to be
attacked, robbed, and ourselves, in all probability, murdered.

This information threw us into a most dreadful state of alarm; these
bushrangers, as the reader probably knows, being runaway convicts, men
of the most desperate characters, who take to the woods, and subsist by
plundering the settlers--a crime to which they do not hesitate to add
murder--many instances of fearful atrocities of this kind having
occurred.

For some time we were quite at a loss what to do; for although we had
firearms and ammunition in the house, there were only four men of us--my
father, myself, and two servant lads--while the bushrangers, as we had
been told, were at least ten or twelve in number. To have thought then
of repelling them by force, was out of the question; it could only have
ended in the murder of us all.

Under these circumstances, my father determined on applying to the
authorities for constabulary or military protection; and with this view
went to Liverpool, where the district magistrate resided.

On stating the case to the latter, he at once gave my father a note to
the commanding officer of the garrison, enjoining him to send a small
party of military along with him,--these to remain with us for our
protection as long as circumstances should render it necessary, and, in
the meanwhile, to employ themselves in scouring the adjoining woods,
with a view to the apprehension of the bushrangers, and to fire on them
without hesitation in all cases where they could not be captured.

The result was, that a party of twelve men, commanded by a sergeant,
were immediately turned out, and marched off with my father.

I was sitting on an eminence close by the house, and which commanded a
view of the road leading to and from Liverpool, looking out for my
father's return, when the party came in sight.

As they neared, I recognised the men, from certain particulars in their
uniform, a party of the--th, the regiment into which I had enlisted.

The circumstance excited some curious feelings, and awakened a train of
not very pleasing reflections.

I had never dreamt of meeting any of the corps in so distant a part of
the world; yet there was nothing more likely or more natural, a large
military force being always kept in New South Wales, and frequently
changed.

I felt, however, no uneasiness on the subject, thinking that it was not
at all probable, seeing the very short time I had been in the regiment,
and the constant accession of new men it was receiving, I should be
recognised by any of the party.

In the meantime, the party were rapidly approaching me, and were now so
near, that I could perceive the sergeant to be a tall and handsome young
man of about two or three and twenty. Little did I yet dream who this
sergeant was. I descended to meet them. We came up to each other. The
sergeant started on seeing me, and looked at me with a grave surprise
and fixed gaze. I did precisely the same by him. We advanced towards
each other with smiling faces and extended arms. "Lorimer!" exclaimed
the sergeant. "Lindsay!" I replied. It was indeed Lindsay, my old
comrade, promoted to a sergeantcy.

Our mutual astonishment and satisfaction at this extraordinary and
unexpected meeting was, I need not say, very great, although I certainly
thought I perceived a certain dryness and want of cordiality in
Lindsay's manner towards me. But for this I made every allowance,
believing it to proceed from a doubt of my innocence, if not a
conviction of my guilt, in the matter for which I had been transported.
He in short, it seemed to me, could not forget that, in speaking to me,
although an old comrade, he was speaking to a convicted felon. However,
notwithstanding this feeling on his part, we talked freely of old
stories; and as we were apart from the men, I did not hesitate, amongst
other things, to allude to my misfortune, nor to charge the blame of it
on Digby.

"Well," said the sergeant, in reply to my remarks on this subject,
"since you have mentioned the matter yourself, Lorimer, I am glad to
hear you say so--that is, to hear you say that you are innocent of that
rascally business; for, putting your assertions, so solemnly made, to
what my wife says--for she has some queer stories of that fellow
Digby--I have no doubt now of your innocence."

"Your wife!" exclaimed I in some amazement. "In the first place, then,
you are married; in the next, how on earth, if I may ask, should she
know anything of Digby?"

"Why, man, Susan Blaikie is my wife," replied the sergeant, laughing;
"and she's not, I take it, half a dozen miles from us at this moment. I
left her safe and sound in my quarters in Liverpool not two hours ago;
and right glad will she be to see you, when you can make it convenient
to give us a call. But of that we will speak more hereafter."

Like two or three other things recorded in this little history, this
information gave me much surprise, but, like few of them, much
gratification also; as I had feared the worst for poor Susan, seeing
that she had been discharged from her situation, as I had no doubt
without a character, probably under a suspicion of being concerned with
me in the alleged robbery.

By the time I had expressed the surprise and satisfaction which Sergeant
Lindsay's communication had given me, we had reached the house, when all
conversation between us of a private nature ceased for the time.

The first business now was to set some refreshment before the men. This
was quickly done; the sergeant, my father, and I taking care of
ourselves in a similar way in another apartment. The next was to take
the immediate matter in hand into consideration. Accordingly, we three
formed ourselves into a council of war, and, after some deliberation,
came to the following resolutions:--That we should, soldiers and all,
keep closely within doors during the remainder of the afternoon; and
that as it was more than probable the bushmen would make their attack
that very night, and as it was likely they would know nothing of the
military being in the house, seeing that they always kept at a distance
during the day, or lay concealed in hidden places, we should take them
by surprise; that, for this purpose, we should remain up all night, and
place ourselves, with loaded arms, by the windows, and in such other
situations as would enable us to see them approaching, without being
seen by them.

Having determined on this plan of operations, we resumed our
conversation on indifferent matters, and thus spent the time till it was
pretty far on in the night, when Lindsay suggested that it was full time
the men were distributed in the positions we intended them to occupy.
Two were accordingly placed at each window of both the back and front of
the house, the sergeant and I occupying one,--he with one of our
muskets, and I with a rifle. It was a bright moonlight night; so that,
as the vicinity of the house was completely cleared around, to the
distance of at least 200 yards on every side, no one could approach it
without being seen; although they could remain long enough invisible,
and in safety, in the dense wood beyond, and by which the house was
surrounded on all sides but one.

The sergeant and I had thus sat for, I think, about an hour and a half,
looking intently towards the dark forest beyond the cleared ground,
when we thought we saw several small, dark objects flitting about the
skirts of the wood; but whether they were kangaroos or men, we could not
tell.

Keeping our eyes fixed steadily on them, however, we by-and-by saw them
unite, and could distinctly make out that they were approaching the
house in a body. Soon they came sufficiently near to enable us to
discern that it was a party of men, to the number of about eight or ten.
There might be more, but certainly no fewer. We could now also see that
they were armed--at least a part of them--with muskets.

Satisfied that they were the much dreaded bushrangers, of whose vicinity
we had been apprised, the sergeant hastily left the window at which he
and I had been seated, and, stealing with soft and cautious steps
through the house, visited each of his posts to see that the men were on
the alert. To each he whispered instructions to put their pieces on
cock, to go down on their knees at the window, and to rest the muzzles
of their muskets on the sill, but not project them out more than two or
three inches. He concluded by telling them not to fire a shot until they
heard the report of his musket; that then they were to pepper away as
hard as they could pelt, taking, however, a sure and steady aim at every
shot.

In the meantime the bushmen, whose advance had been, and still was, very
slow and cautious, as if they dreaded an ambuscade, had approached to
within seventy yards of the house. Thinking them yet too distant to make
sure of them, we allowed them to come nearer. They did so; but they had
now assumed a stealthy step, walking lightly, as if they feared that
their footfalls should be heard. They were led on by one of their
number; at least there was one man considerably in advance of his
fellows. He was armed with a sword, as we saw it flashing in the
moonlight.

The party, handling their guns in readiness to fire, on the slightest
alarm, at any living object that might present itself, were now within
thirty or forty yards of the house, and had halted to reconnoitre; when
the sergeant, who had been on his knees for several minutes before, with
his piece at his eye, said softly, "Now," and fired. Whether he had
aimed at the foremost man of the gang, I do not know; but if so, he had
missed him, for he still stood firm. At this person, however, I now
levelled, fired, and down he came. In the next instant the shots were
rapping thick and fast from the different windows of the house.

The bushrangers, taken by surprise, paused for an instant, returned two
or three straggling shots, and then fled in the utmost consternation and
disorder. We kept pelting after them for a few minutes, and then,
quitting the house, gave them chase, with a whooping and hallooing that
must have added in no small degree to their terror. In this chase we
overtook two that had been severely wounded, and came upon a third near
the skirt of the wood, who, after running so far, had dropped down dead.
The others, who had fled, some of whom, we had no doubt, were also
wounded, escaped by getting into the forest, where it was no use looking
for them. The two wounded men we made prisoners, and carried back to the
house. As we were returning, we came upon the man whom I had brought
down. Being extended motionless on the ground at full length, we thought
him dead, and were about to pass on, intending to leave him where he lay
till the morning, when I thought I heard him breathing. I knelt down
beside him, looked narrowly into his face, and found that he was still
living. On discovering this, we had the unfortunate man carried to the
house; and having placed him on a mattress, staunched the bleeding of
his wound, which was on the right breast, and administered a little
brandy and water, which almost immediately revived him. He opened his
eyes, began to breathe more freely, and in a short time was so far
recovered as to be able to speak, although with difficulty.

The excitement of the fray over, if the late affair could be so called,
my heart bled within me for the unhappy wretch who had been reduced by
my hand to the deplorable condition in which he now lay before me. My
conscience rose up against me, and would not be laid by any suggestions
of the necessity that prompted the deed. In my anxiety to make what
reparation I could for what now seemed to me my cruelty, I sat by the
miserable sufferer, ready and eager to supply any want he might express,
and to administer what comfort I could do him in his dying moments; for
that he was dying, notwithstanding the temporary revival alluded to, was
but too evident from his ghastly look and rapidly glazing eye.

It was while I thus sat by the unhappy man, and while silently
contemplating his pallid countenance, by the faint light of a lamp that
hung against the wall of the apartment, that I suddenly thought I
perceived in that countenance some traces of features that I had seen
before. Whose they were, or where I had seen them, I did not at first
recollect. But the idea having once presented itself, I kept hunting it
through all the recesses of my memory. At length Digby occurred to me.
But no, Digby it could not be. Impossible.

I looked on the countenance of the sufferer again. It was slightly
distorted with pain, and all trace of the resemblance I had fancied was
gone. An interval of ease succeeded. The real or imagined resemblance
returned. Again I lost sight of it, and again I caught it; for it was
only in some points of view I could detect it at all. At length, after
marking for some time longer, with intense interest, the features of the
sufferer, my conviction becoming every moment stronger and stronger, and
my agitation in consequence extreme, I bent my head close to the dying
man, and, taking his cold and clammy hand in mine, asked him, in a
whisper, if his name was not Digby. His eyes were closed at the moment,
but I saw he was not sleeping. On my putting the question, he opened
them wide, and stared wildly upon me, but without saying a word. He
seemed to be endeavouring to recognise me, but apparently in vain. I
repeated the question. This time he answered. Still gazing earnestly at
me, he said, and it was all he did say, "It is."

"Don't you know me?" I inquired.

He shook his head.

"My name is Lorimer," said I.

"Thank God," he exclaimed solemnly. "For one, at least, of my crimes it
is permitted me to make some reparation. Haste, haste, get witnesses and
hear my dying declaration. There's no time to lose, for I feel I am fast
going!"

Without a moment's delay--- for I felt the importance of obtaining the
declaration, which I had no doubt would establish my innocence--I ran
for my father and Sergeant Lindsay, and, to make assurance doubly sure,
brought two of the privates also along with me. It was a striking scene
of retributive justice,

On our entering the apartment where Digby lay, the wretched man raised
himself upon his elbow. I ran and placed two pillows beneath him to
support him. He thanked me. Then raising his hand impressively, and
directing it towards me--

"That young man there," he said, "David Lorimer, is, as I declare on
the word of a dying man, innocent of the crime for which he was banished
to this country. I, and no other, am the guilty person. It was I who
robbed my master, Mr. Wallscourt, of the silver plate for which this
young man was blamed; and it was I who put the silver spoon in his
pocket, in order to substantiate the charge I subsequently brought
against him, and in which I was but too successful."

He then added, that in case his declaration should not be deemed
sufficient to clear me of the guilt imputed to me, we should endeavour
to find out a person of the name of Nareby--Thomas Nareby--who, he said,
was in the colony under sentence of transportation for life for
housebreaking; and that this person, who had been, at the time of the
robbery for which I suffered, a receiver of stolen goods, and with whom
he, Digby, had deposited Mr. Wallscourt's plate, would acknowledge--at
least he hoped so--this transaction, and thus add to the weight of his
dying testimony to my innocence.

Digby having concluded, I immediately committed what he had just said to
writing, and having read it over to him, obtained his approval of it. He
then, of his own accord, offered to subscribe the declaration, and with
some difficulty accomplished the task. The signature was hardly legible,
but it was quite sufficient when attested, as it was, by the signatures
of all present excepting myself. Exhausted with the effort he had made,
Digby now sank back on his pillow, and in less than three minutes after
expired.

We now learned from the unhappy man's two wounded companions, who, the
reader will recollect, were our prisoners, that, soon after my trial and
condemnation, he, Digby, had left Mr. Wallscourt's service, not under
any suspicion of the robbery of the plate, but with no very good
general character; that he had the betaken himself entirely to live with
the abandoned characters whose acquaintance he had formed, and to
subsist by swindling and robbery; that he had proceeded from crime to
crime, until he at length fell into the hands of justice; and his
banishment to the colony where he had arrived about six months before,
was the result; that he had not been more than a month in the country
when he and several other convicts ran away from the master to whom they
had been assigned, and took to the bush. Such was the brief but dismal
history of this wretched man.

On the following day we buried his remains in a lonely spot in the
forest, at the distance of about half a mile from the house, and
thereafter proceeded with our prisoners to Liverpool. On arriving there,
I accompanied my father to the magistrate on whom he had waited on a
former occasion, and having stated to this gentleman the extraordinary
circumstance which had taken place--meaning Digby's declaration--he
advised an immediate application to the governor, setting forth the
circumstances of the case. This I lost no time in doing, enclosing
within my memorial Digby's attested declaration, and pointing out Nareby
as a person likely to confirm its tenor. The singularity and apparent
hardship of the case, combined with the favourable knowledge of me
previously existing, attracted the attention of the governor in a
special manner, and excited in him so lively an interest, that he
instantly had Nareby subjected to a judicial examination, the result of
which was a full admission on the part of that person of the transaction
to which Digby alluded.

Satisfied now of my innocence, and of the injustice which had been
unwittingly done me, the governor not only immediately transmitted me a
full and free pardon but offered me, by way of compensation, a
lucrative government appointment. This appointment I accepted, and held
for thirty years, I trust with credit to myself, and satisfaction to my
superiors. At the end of this period, feeling my health giving way, my
father and mother having both, in the meantime, died, and having all
that time scraped together a competency, I returned to my native land,
and have written these little memoirs in one of the pleasantest little
retirements on the banks of the Tweed.

I have only now to add, that I had frequent opportunities of seeing both
Lindsay and his wife after the establishment of my innocence, and that
no persons would more sincerely rejoice in that event than they did. My
poor mother, whom my father had made aware of my situation soon after my
arrival, and who had borne the intelligence much better than we
expected, it put nearly distracted with joy.

"My puir laddie," she exclaimed, "I aye kent to be innocent. But noo the
world 'll ken it too, and I can die happy."




THE AMATEUR ROBBERY.


If there is anything more than another of which civilisation has reason
to be proud, it is the amelioration that has been effected in punishment
for crimes. Nor is it yet very long since we began to get quit of the
shame of our folly and inhumanity, if we have not traces of these yet,
coming out like sympathetic ink dried by the choler of self-perfection
and a false philosophy, as in such writings as the latter-day pamphlets.
How a man who loves his species, and has a heart, will hang his head
abashed as he turns his vision back no further than the sixteenth
century, and sees the writhing creatures--often aged unhappy
women--under the pilniewinkies, caschielaws, turkases, thumbikens, and
other instruments of torture, frantically bursting out with the demanded
confession that was to fit them for the stake or the rope! And even
after these things in the curiosity shop of Nemesis were got rid of, the
abettors of the law rushed with full swing into the operation of
hanging, scarcely allowing a crime to escape, from cold-blooded murder
down to the act of the famished wretch who snatched a roll from a
baker's basket. However insensible these strange lawgivers may have been
to so much cruelty, however blind to the perversity, prejudices, and
weaknesses incident to human testimony, however ignorant of the total
inefficacy of their remedy to deter from crime, one might have imagined
that they could not but have known, if they ever looked inwardly into
their own hearts, how obscure are human motives, and especially those
that instigate to breaches of the law; and yet their consistent rule
was, to make the _corpus delicti_ prove the intention. These
considerations have been suggested to me by the recollection of a wild
adventure of some young men in Edinburgh, the circumstances of which,
not belonging to fiction, will show better than a learned dissertation
how easy it was for these Dracos to catch the fact and miss the motive.

The skeleton names--now, alas! the only representatives of skeleton
bodies--Andrew W----pe, Henry S----k, and Charles S----th, may recall to
the memory of some people in Edinburgh still, three young men, who, with
good education, fair talents, and graces from nature, might have played
a respectable _role_ in the drama of life, had it not been for a
tendency to "fastness," a disease which seems to increase with
civilisation. In their instance the old adage of Aristotle, _simile
gaudet simili_, was exemplified to the letter; and the union confirmed
in each a mind which, originally impatient of authority, fretted itself
against the frame of society, simply because that frame was the result
of order. They were never happy except when they went up to the
palisades, struck upon them with their lath-blades, and when some
orderly indweller looked over atop, ran away laughing. No doubt they had
strong passions to gratify too; but, as is usual with this peculiar race
of beings, the gratification was the keener the more it owed to a
rebellion against decorum. If they ever differed, it was only in their
rivalry of success; or when they did not go a spree-hunting together,
they recounted their exploits at their nightly meetings, and then the
result was an increase of moral inflammation.

Sometimes, for a change, they would take strolls into the country, where
they could extract as tribute the admiration or wrath of clodhoppers
without being troubled with any fears of the police; not that on any of
these occasions they perpetrated any great infringements on the law,
for, like the rest of their kind, if they could make themselves objects
of observation, they were regardless whether their bizarreries were paid
with admiration or only anger or fear, though, if they could produce by
any means a causeless panic, the very height of their ambition was
attained. In regard to this last effect of their escapades, they were,
in the instance I am about to record, more than satisfied. They had
gone, on a fine, clear, winter day, along the coast of the Firth of
Forth towards Cramond; and, to diversify their amusements, they took
with them a gun, which was carried by S----th, with the intention of
having a shot at any wild bird or barn-door fowl that might come
conveniently within his range. Of this kind of game they had fewer
chances, and the stroll would doubtless have appeared a very monotonous
affair to a person fond of rational conversation. Nor was there much
even to themselves of diversification till they got into a small
change-house at Davidson's Mains, where, with a rampant authority, they
contrived to get served up to them a kind of dinner, intending to make
up for the want of better edibles by potations of whisky toddy.

If facts, as Quinctilian says, are the bones of conversation, opinions
are certainly its sinews; and we might add, that whisky toddy is its
nervous fluid. These youths, though unwilling to acquire solid
information, could wrangle even to quarrelling; but such were their
affinities, that they adhered again in a short time, and were as firm
friends as ever. They had raised a subject--no other than the question
whether highwaymen are necessarily or generally possessed of true
courage. Very absurd, no doubt, but as good for a wrangle as any other
that can be divided into affirmative and negative by the refracting
medium of feeling or prejudice. S----th declared them all to be cowards.

"What say you to Cartouche?" said S----k; "was he a coward?"

"Not sure but he was," said S----th; "he kept a band of blackguards and
received their pay, but he was seldom seen in the wild _melee_ himself.
He was fond of the name of terror he bore; but then, as he listened to
the wonderful things the Parisian _blanchisseuses_ and _chiffonniers_
and _gamins_ said of him, he knew he was not recognisable, for the very
reason that he kept out of sight."

"Oh yes," said W----pe, who joined S----k; "and so he was like Wallace,
who kept out of the sight of the English, and yet delighted in Dundee to
hear himself spoken of by the crowds who collected in these troublesome
times to discuss public affairs. S----th, you know Wallace was a coward,
don't you?"

"A thorough poltroon," cried S----th, laughing; "ay, and all the people
in Scotland are wrong about him. Didn't he run off, after stabbing the
governor's son? and he was always skulking about the Cartland Crags.
Then, didn't he flee at the battle of Falkirk; and was he not a robber
when Scotland belonged to Longshanks? No doubt the fellow had a big
body, strong bones, and good thews; but that he had the real pluck that
nerved the little bodies of such men as Nelson, or Suwarrow, ay, or of
Napoleon, I deny." Then he began a ludicrous singing, see-saw recitation
of the English doggrel--

  "The noble wight,
  The Wallace dight,
  Who slew the knight
  On Beltane night,
  And ran for fright
  Of English might,
  And English fight,
  And English right;"

and so on in drunken ribaldry.

"All very well for you who are a Shamite, Shmite, Shmith, Smith," said
W----pe. "We happen to be Japhetites. Then what say you to Rob Roy?"

"That, in the first place," replied S----th, "he was a Shemite; for
Gathelus, the first Scottish monarch, was a grandson of Nimrod, and,
what is worse, he married Scota, the daughter of an Egyptian queen, so
there was a spice of Ham in Rob; and as all the Hamites were robbers,
Rob was a robber too;--as to whose cowardice there is no doubt whatever;
for a man who steals another man's cattle in the dark must be a coward.
Did you ever hear one single example of Rob attacking when in good
daylight, and fighting for them in the sun?"

"Ingenious, S----th, at any rate," roared S----k; "but I don't agree
with you. A robber on the highway, must, in the general case, have
courage. He braves public opinion, he laughs at the gallows, and he
throws himself right against a man in bold competition, without knowing
often whether he is a giant or a dwarf."

"All the elements of a batter pudding," cried S----th, "without the
battering principle. Ay, you forget the head-battering bludgeon, the
instantaneous pistol, or the cunning knife; none of all which would a
man with a spark of courage in him use against an unarmed, defenceless
traveller. Another thing you forget, the robber acts upon surprises. He
produces confusion by his very presentation, fear by his demand of life
or money; and when the poor devil's head is running round, he runs away
with his watch or his purse, perhaps both. 'Tis all selfishness, pure
unadulterated selfishness; and will you tell me that a man without a
particle of honesty or generosity can have courage?"

"Not moral courage, perhaps; but he may have physical."

"All the same, no difference," continued the doughty S----th. "Who ever
heard of a bodily feeling except as something coming through the body?
There are only two physical feelings: pain in being wounded or starved,
and pleasure in being relieved from pain, or fed when hungry or thirsty.
I know none other; all the others are moral feelings."

"You may be bold through drink acting on the stomach and head."

"Ay, but the boldness, though the effect of a physical cause, is itself
a moral entity."

"Whoever thought that S----th was such a metaphysician!" said W----pe, a
little agoggled in his drunken eyes.

"But the same may be said of every feeling," rejoined S----k, somewhat
roused to ambition by W----pe's remark.

"And so it may, my little Aristotle," continued the clever asserter of
his original proposition. "Why, man, look ye, what takes you into Miss
F----'s shop in Princes Street for snuff, when you never produce a
physical titillation in your nose by a single pinch? Why, it's something
you call love, a terribly moral thing, though personified by a little
fellow with pinions. Yes, wondrously moral; and sometimes, as in your
case, immoral. Well, what is it produced by? The face of the said Miss
F---- painted as a sun picture in the camera at the back of your eye,
where there is a membrane without a particle of nitrate of silver in its
composition, and which yet receives the image. Well, what is love but
just the titillation produced by this image imprinted on your flesh,
just as the pleasure of a pinch is the effect of a titillation of the
nerves in the nose? Yet we don't say that snuff pleasure is a moral
thing, but merely nasal or bodily. What makes the difference?"

"How S----th is coming it!" said W----pe, still more amazed. "Where the
devil has he got all this?"

"Why, the difference lies here. You know, by manipulation and blowing
it, that you have a nose; but you don't wipe the retina at the back of
your eye when you are weeping for love--only the outside, where the
puling tears are. In short, you know you have a nose, but you don't know
you have a retina. D'ye catch me, my small Stagyrite, my petit
Peripatetic, my comical Academician, eh? Take your toddy, and let's have
a touch of moral drunkenness."

"You ray-ther have me on the hip, S----th."

"Ay, just so; and if I should kick you there, you would not say the pain
was a moral thing. All through the same. It's just where and when we
don't know the medium we say things are moral and spiritual, and
poetical and rational, and all the rest of the humbug."

"But though you say all highwaymen are cowards, you won't try that trick
with your foot," said S----k, boiling up a little under the fire of the
toddy.

"Don't intend; though, if you were to produce moral courage in me by
pinching my nose, I think I could, after making up my mind and putting
you upon your guard with a stick in your hand if you chose. Eh! my
Peripatetic." And S----th was clearly getting drunk too.

"D----n the fellow, his metaphysics are making him [Transcriber's Note:
missing part of this word] dent," cried W----pe.

"Why, you don't see where they hit," said S----th drawlingly.
"Somewhere about the pineal; and therefore we say impudence is moral,
sometimes immoral, as just now when you damned me. No more of your old
junk, I say, sitting here in my cathedra, which by the way is
spring-bottomed, which may account for my moral elasticity that a
highwayman is a coward."

"Well," cried S----k, starting up. "I'll deposit a pound with W----pe,
on a bet that you'll not take sixpence from the first bumpkin we meet on
the road, by the old watchword, 'Stand and deliver;' and you'll have the
gun to boot."

"Ay, that's a physical bribe," cried W----pe; and, after pausing a
little, "The fellow flinches."

"And surely the reverse must hold," added S----k, "that, being a coward,
he must be a highwayman."

"Why, you see, gents," said S----th coolly, "I don't mind a very great
deal, you know, though I do take said sixpence from said bumpkin; but I
won't do it, you know, on compulsion."

"If there's no compulsion, there's no robbery," said S----k.

"Oh, I mean _your_ compulsion. As for mine, exercised on said bumpkin,
let me alone for that part of the small affair; but none of your
compulsion, if you love me. I can do anything, but not upon compulsion,
you know."

"Done then!"

"Why, ye-e-s," drawled S----th, "done; I may say, gents, done; but I say
with Sir John, don't misunderstand me, not upon compulsion, you know."

"Your own free will," shouted both the others, now pretty well to do in
the world of dithyrambics. "Here's your instrument for extorting the
sixpence by force or fear."

And this young man, half inebriated--with, we may here say
parenthetically, a mother living in a garret in James' Square, with one
son and an only daughter of a respectable though poor man, and who
trusted to her son for being the means of her support--qualified, as we
have seen, by high parts to extort from society respect, and we may add,
though that has not appeared, to conciliate love and admiration--took
willingly into his hand the old rusty "Innes," to perpetrate upon the
highway a robbery. And would he do it? You had only to look upon his
face for an instant to be certain that he would; for he had all the
lineaments of a young man of indomitable courage and resolution--the
steady eye, the firm lip, all under the high brows of intellect, nor
unmixed with the beauty that belongs to these moral expressions which in
the playfulness of the social hour he had been reducing to materialism,
well knowing all the while that he was arguing for effect and applause
from those who only gave him the return of stultified petulance. What if
that mother and sister, who loved him, and wept day and night over the
wild follies that consumed his energies and demoralized his heart, had
seen him now!

The bill was paid by S----k, who happened to have money, and who gave it
on the implied condition of a similar one for all on another occasion.
They went, or, as the phrase is often, sallied forth. The night had now
come down with her black shadows. There was no moon. She was dispensing
her favours among savages in another hemisphere, who, savages though
they were, might have their devotions to their strange gods, resident
with her up yonder, where no robbery is, save that of light from the
pure fountain of heat and life. Yes, the darkness was auspicious to
folly, as it often is to vice; and there was quietness too--no winds
abroad to speak voices through rustling leaves, to terrify the criminal
from his wild rebellion against the peace of nature. No night could have
suited them better. Yes, all was favourable but God; and Him these wild
youths had offended, as disobedient sons of poor parents, who had
educated them well--as rebellious citizens among a society which would
have hailed them as ornaments--as despisers of God's temple, where grace
was held out to them and spurned.

They were now upon the low road leading parallel to the beach, and
towards the end of Inverleith Row. Nor had the devil left them with the
deserted toddy-bowl. There was still pride for S----th, and for the
others the rankling sense of inferiority in talent and of injury from
scorching irony. Nor had they proceeded two miles, till the fatal
opportunity loomed in the dark, in the form of a figure coming up from
Leith or Edinburgh.

  Now, S----th;
  Now, the cowardly Cartouche;
  Now, the poltroon Rob Roy;
  Now, the braggart Wallace!

But S----th did not need the taunts, nor, though many a patriotic cause
wanted such a youth, was he left for other work, that night of
devil-worship. The figure approached. Alas! the work so easy. S----th
was right; how easy and cowardly, where the stranger was, in the
confidence of his own heart, unprepared, unweaponed! Yet those who urged
him on leapt a dyke.

"Stand and deliver!" said S----th, with a handkerchief over his face.

"God help me!" cried the man, in a fit of newborn fear. "I'm a father,
have wife and bairns; but I canna spare my life to a highwayman. Here,
here, here."

And fumbling nervously in his pocket, and shaking all over, not at all
like the old object of similitude, but rather like a branch of a tree
driven by the wind, he thrust something into S----th's hand, and rushing
past him, was off on the road homewards. Nor was it a quick walk under
fear, but a run, as if he thought he was or would be pursued for his
life, or brought down by the long range of the gun he had seen in the
hands of the robber.

Yes, it was easily done, and it was done; but how to be undone at a time
when the craving maw of the noose dangled from the post, in obedience to
the Procrustes of the time!

And S----th felt it was done. His hand still held what the man had
pushed into it, but by-and-by it was as fire. His brain reeled; he
staggered, and would have fallen, but for S----k, who, leaping the dyke,
came behind him.

"What luck?"

"This," said S----th,--"the price of my life," throwing on the ground
the paper roll.

"Pound-notes," cried S----k, taking them up. "One, two, three, four,
five; more than sixpence."

"Where is the man?" cried S----th, as, seizing the notes from the hands
of S----k, he turned round. Then, throwing down the gun, he set off
after his victim; but the latter was now ahead, though his pursuer heard
the clatter of his heavy shoes on the metal road.

"Ho, there! stop! 'twas a joke--a bet."

No answer, and couldn't be. The man naturally thought the halloo was for
further compulsion, under the idea that he had more to give, and on he
sped with increased celerity and terror; nor is it supposed that he
stopt till he got to his own house, a mile beyond Davidson's Mains.

Smith gave up the pursuit, and with the notes in his hand, ready to be
cast away at every exacerbation of his fear, returned to his cowardly
companions with hanging head and, if they had seen, with eyes rolling,
as if he did not know where to look or what to do.

"What is to be done?" he cried; and his fears shook the others.

"Yes, what is to be done? You urged me on. Try to help me out. Let us go
back and seek out this man. To-morrow it may be too late, when the
police have had this robbery in their hands as a thing intended."

"We could not find the man though we went back," said S----k. And his
companions agreed.

But W----pe, who had some acquaintanceship with the police Captain
Stewart, proposed that they should proceed homewards, go to him, give
him the money, and tell the story out.

"That, I fear, would be putting one's hand in the mouth of the hyaena at
the moment he is laughing with hunger, as they say he does."

An opinion which S----th feared was too well founded. Nearly at their
wits' end, they stood all three for a little quite silent, till the
sound of a horse's clattering feet sounded as if coming from Davidson's
Mains. All under the conviction of crime, they became alarmed; and as
the rider approached, they concealed themselves behind the dyke, which
ran by the side of the road. At that moment a man came as if from
Edinburgh, and they could hear the rider, who did not, from his voice,
appear to be the man who had been robbed, inquiring if he had met a
young man with a gun in his hand. The man answered no, and off set the
rider towards town at the rate of a hard trot. The few hopeful moments
when anything could have been done effectually as a palinode and
expiation were past; and S----th, releaping the dyke, was again upon
the road in the depth of despair, and his companions scarcely less so.
All his and their escapades had hitherto been at least within the bounds
of the law; and though his heart had often misgiven him, when called
upon for the nourishment of his wild humours, as he thought of his
widowed mother at home, without the comfort of the son she loved in
spite of his errors, he had not ever yet felt the pangs of deep regret
as they came preluding amendment. A terrible influx of feelings, which
had been accumulating almost unknown to him during months and
months--for his father had been dead only for a year and a half--pushed
up against all the strainings of a wild natural temperament, and seemed
ready to choke him, depriving him of utterance, and making him appear
the very coward he had been depicting so sharply an hour before. A deep
gloom fell over him; nor was this rendered less inspissated by the
recollection that came quick as lightning, that he was the only one
known to the mistress of the inn. And now, worse and worse--for the same
power that sent him that conviction threw a suspicion over his mind
which made him strike his forehead with an energy alarming to his
companions--no other--"O, merciful God!" he muttered--than that the man
he had robbed was his maternal uncle; the only man among the friends of
either his father or his mother who had shown any sympathy to the
bereaved family, who had fed them and kept them from starvation, and by
whom he had been himself nourished. He had no power to speak this: it
was one of those thoughts that scathe the nerves that serve the tongue,
and which flit and burn, and will not ameliorate their fierceness by the
common means given to man in mercy. It now appeared to him as something
miraculous why he did not recognise him; but the occasion was one of
hurry and confusion, and so completely oblivious had he been in the
agony which came on him in an instant, that he even thought that at the
very moment he knew him, looking darkly, as he did, through the
handkerchief over his eyes. In his despair, he meditated hurrying to
Leith, and with the five pounds getting a passage over the sea
somewhere, it signified nothing where, if away from the scene of his
crime and ingratitude; and this resolution was confirmed by the
additional thought that Mr. Henderson, however good and generous, was a
stern man--so stern, that he had ten years before given up a beloved son
into the hands of justice for stealing; yea, stern _ex corde_ as Cato,
if generous _ex crumena_ as Codrus.

This resolution for a time brought back his love of freedom and
adventure. He would go to Hudson's Bay, and shoot bears or set traps for
wild silver-foxes, that would bring him gold; or to Buenos Ayres, and
catch the wild horse with the lasso; or to Lima, and become a soldier of
fortune, and slay men with the sword. The gleam of wild hope was
shortlived--his triumph over his present ill a temporary hallucination.
The laurel is the only tree which burns and crackles when green. The
intention fled, as once more the thought of his mother came, with that
vigour which was only of half an hour's birth, and begotten by young
conscience on old neglect. They had been trailing their legs along till
they came to Inverleith Row, where he behoved to have left his
companions, if his resolution lasted; for the road there goes straight
on to Leith Harbour. He hesitated, and made an effort; but S----k, who
knew him, and fancied from the wild look of his eye that he meditated
throwing himself into the deep harbour of Leith, took him by an arm,
motioning to W----pe to take the other, and thus by a very small
effort--for really his resolution had departed, and his mind, so far as
his intention went, was gone--they half forced him up the long row. When
they arrived at Canonmills, here is the rider again, hurrying on: he had
executed his commission, whatever it was, and was galloping home. But
the moment he came forward, he pulled up. He had, by a glance under the
light of a lamp, caught a sight of the gun in the hands of S----k, who
had carried it when he took S----th's arm. The man shouted to a
policeman,

"Seize that robber!"

"Which of them?"

"Him with the gun."

And in an instant the cowardly dog who had done the whole business was
laid hold of.

"The gun is mine," cried S----th. "It is I who am answerable for
whatever was done by him who carried that weapon. Take me, and let the
innocent off. I say this young man is innocent."

"Very gallant and noble," said the man; "but when we go to the hills, we
like the deer that bears the horns."

"We are up to them tricks," said the policeman. And S----k is borne
along, with courage, if he ever had any, gone, and his eye looking
terror.

S----th wanted to go along with him; but W----pe seized him by the arm
again and dragged him up by the east side of Huntly Street, whereby they
could get easily to James' Square.

In a few minutes more S----th was at his mother's door with the burning
five pounds in his pocket. He had meditated throwing it away, but the
hurrying concourse of thoughts had prevented the insufficient remedy
from being carried into effect. When he opened the door he found his
mother alone. The sister had not yet come from the warehouse where she
earned five shillings a week, almost the only source of her and the
mother's living; for the money which S----th earned as a mere copying
clerk in a writer's office, went mostly in some other direction. The
mother soon observed, as she cast her eye over him, that there was
something more than ordinary out of even his irregular way. He was pale,
woe-worn, haggard; nor did he seem able to stand, but hurried to a chair
and flung himself down, uttering confusedly, "Something to drink,
mother----whisky."

"I hae nane, Charlie, lad," said she. "Never hae I passed a day like
this since your father died. I have na e'en got the bit meat that a' get
that are under God's protection. But what ails ye, dear Charlie?"

"Never mind me," replied the youth in choking accents. "I am better.
Starving, starving! O God! and my doing. Yes, I am better--a bitter
cure--starving," he again muttered; and searching his pockets, and
throwing the five pounds on the table--"There, there, there," he added.

The mother took up the notes, and counted them slowly; for she had been
inured to grief, and was always calm, even when her heart beat fast with
the throbs of anguish.

"And whaur fae, laddie?" she said, as she turned her grey eye and
scanned deeply the pale face of her son.

Silent, even dogged! Where now his metaphysics, his gibes on the
physicalities, the moralities, the spiritualities?--all bundled up in a
vibrating chord.

"Whaur fae, Charlie," had she repeated, still looking at him.

"The devil!" cried he, stung by her searching look, which brought back a
gleam of the old rebellion.

"A gude paymaster to his servants," she said; "but I'm no ane o' them
yet; and may the Lord, wham I serve, even while his chastening hand is
heavy upon me, preserve me frae his bribes!" And laying down the notes,
she added, not lightly, as it might seem, but seriously, yet quietly,

"Nae wonder they're warm."

The notes had carried the heat of his burning hand.

"The auld story--billiards," said she again; "for they are the devil's
cue and balls."

No answer; and the mother seating herself again, looked stedfastly and
suspiciously at him; but she could not catch the eye of her son, who sat
doggedly determined not to reveal his secret, and as determined also to
elude her looks, searching as they were, and sufficient to enter his
very soul. Yet she loved him too well to objurgate where she was only as
yet suspicious; and in the quietness of the hour, she fell for a moment
into her widowed habit of speaking as if none were present but herself.

"Wharfor bore I him--wharfor toiled and wrought for him for sae mony
years, since the time he sat on my knee smiling in my face, as if he
said, I will comfort you when you are old, and will be your stay and
support? Was that smile then a lee, put there by the devil, wha has
gi'en him the money to deceive me again?"

Then she paused.

"And how could that be? Love is not a cheat; and did ever bairn love a
mither as he loved me? or did ever mither love her bairn as I hae loved
him? Lord, deliver him frae his enemies, and mak him what he was in thae
bygone days--sae innocent, sae cheerful, sae obedient; and I will meekly
suffer a' Thou canst lay upon me."

The words reached the ears of the son, and the audible sobs seemed to
startle the solemn spirit of the hour and the place. "What would she
say," he thought, "if she heard me declare I had robbed my uncle?"

At that moment the door opened, and in rushed little Jeanie
S----th,--her face pale, and her blue eyes lighted with fear, and the
thin delicate nostril distended, and hissing with her quick
breathings,--

"Oh mither, there's twa officers on the stair seeking Charlie!"

And the quick creature, darting her eye on the table where the notes
lay, snatched them up, and secreted them in her bosom; and, what was
more extraordinary, just as if she had divined something more from her
brother's looks, which told her that that money would be sought for by
these officers, she darted off like a bird with a crumb in its bill,
which it has picked up from beneath your eyes; but not before
depositing, as she passed, a paper on a chair near the door.

"That creature is a spirit," said the mother. "She sees the evil in the
dark before it comes, and wards it off like a guardian angel; but oh!
she has little in her power to be an angel."

And rising, she took up the paper. It was only some bread and cheese,
which the girl, knowing the privations of her mother, had bought with a
part of her five shillings a week.

Thereafter, just as little Jeannie had intimated, came in two officers,
with the usual looks of duty appearing through their professional
sorrow.

"We want your son, good woman."

"He is there," said she; "but what want ye him for?"

"Not for going to church," said the man, forgetting said professional
sorrow in his love of a joke, "but for robbery on the highway; and we
must search the house for five pounds in British Linen Company notes."

And the men proceeded to search, even putting their hands in the
mother's pockets, besides rifling those of the son. They of course found
nothing except the powder and shot, which had still remained there, and
a handkerchief.

"That is something, anyhow," said one of the men, "and a great deal too.
The one who is up in the office says true; he was not the man."

"No more he was," said Charles. "I am the man you ought to take; and
take me."

"Sae, sae; just as I suspected," muttered the mother. "Lord, Lord! the
cup runs over. It was e'en lipping when John died; but I will bear yet."
And she seemed to grasp firmly the back of a chair, and compressed her
lips--an attitude she maintained like a statue all the time occupied by
the departure of her son. The door closed--he was gone; and she still
stood, the _vivum cadaver_--the image of a petrified creature of misery.

Yet, overcome as her very calmness was, and enchanted for the moment
into voicelessness and utter inaction, she was not that kind of women
who sit and bear the stripes without an effort to ward them off. If
Jeannie was as quick as lightning, she was sure as that which follows
the flash. She thought for a moment, "God does not absolutely and for
ever leave his servants." Some thought had struck her. She put on her
bonnet and cloak deliberately, even looking into the glass to see if she
was tidy enough for where she intended going, and for whom she intended
to see.

And now this quiet woman is on her way down Broughton Street at twelve
o'clock of a cold winter night, which, like her own mind, had only that
calmness which results from the exhaustion of sudden biting gusts from
the north, and therefore right in her face. She drew her cloak round
her. She had a long way to go, but her son was in danger of the gallows;
and thoughtless, and as it now seemed, wicked as he was, he was yet her
_son_. The very word is a volume of heart language--not the fitful
expression of passion, but that quiet eloquence which bedews the eye and
brings deep sighs with holy recollections of the child-time, and
germinating hopes of future happiness up to the period when he would
hang over her departing spirit. Much of all that had gone, and been
replaced by dark forebodings of the future; and now there was before her
the vision of an ignominious death as the termination of all these holy
inspirations. But her faithful saying was always, "Wait, hope, and
persevere;" and the saying was muttered a hundred times as she trudged
weariedly, oh! how weariedly, for one who had scarcely tasted food for
that day, and who had left untouched the gift brought by her loving
daughter that night--for which, plain as it was, her heart yearned even
amidst its grief, yea, though grief is said, untruly no doubt, to have
no appetite. Perhaps not to those who are well fed; but nature is
stronger than even grief, and she now felt the consequence of her
disobedience to her behests in her shaking limbs and fainting heart. Yet
she trudged and trudged on, shutting her mouth against her empty stomach
to keep out the cold north wind. She is at the foot of Inverleith Row,
and her face is to the west; she will now escape the desultory blasts by
keeping close by the long running dyke. She passes the scene of the
robbery without knowing it; else, doubtless, she would have stood and
examined it by those instincts that force the spirit to such modes of
satisfaction, as if the inanimate thing could calm the spiritual. She
was now drawing to Davidson's Mains: a little longer, and much past
midnight, she was rapping, still in her quiet way, at the door of her
brother.

The family had had something else to do than to sleep. There were the
sounds of tongues and high words. Mrs. S----th was surprised, as well
she might; for though sometimes Mr. Henderson partook freely of the
bottle when he met old friends in town, he and the whole household were
peaceable, orderly, and early goers to bed. The door was opened almost
upon the instant; and Mrs. S----th was presently before Mr. Henderson
and two others, one of whom held in his hand a whip.

"What has brought you here, Margaret, at this hour?"

"I want to speak privately to you."

"Just here; out with it," said he. "These are my friends; and if it is
more money you want, you have come at an unlucky time, for I have been
robbed by a villain of five pounds, which I could ill spare."

Mrs. S----th's heart died away within her. She clenched her hands to
keep her from shaking; for she recollected the old story about his own
son--a story which had got him the character of being harsh and
unnatural. She could not mention her errand, which was nothing else than
to induce her brother to use his influence in some way to get Charles
out of the hands of the law. She could not utter even the word Charles,
and all she could say was--

"Robbed!"

"Ay, robbed by a villain, whom I shall hang three cubits higher than
Haman."

And the stern man even laughed at the thought of retribution. Yet,
withal, no man could deny his generosity and general kindliness, if,
even immediately after, he did not show it by slipping a pound into the
hands of his needy sister.

"There," said he; "no more at present. I will call up and see you
to-morrow morning, as I go to the police office to identify the villain.
Meantime, take a dram, dear Peggy, and get home to bed. The night is
cold, and see that you wrap yourself well up to keep _out_ the wind and
_in_ the spirit; it's good whisky."

Shortly afterwards she was on her way home, with more than blasted hopes
of what she had travelled for.

His uncle the man he had robbed! Even with all her forced composedness,
this seemed too much--ay, so much too much, that she was totally
overpowered. She paused to recover strength; and, looking forward, saw a
thin flying shadow coming up to her, with a shriek of delight; and
immediately she was hugged rapturously and kissed all over by little
Jeannie, whose movements, as they ever were--so agile, so quick, so
Protean--appeared to her, now that she was stolid with despair, as the
postures and gestures of a creature appearing in a dream.

"Oh, I know all," she cried; "don't speak--nay, wait now till I return."

And the creature was off like a September meteor disappearing in the
west, as if to make up again to the sun, far down away behind the hills
from whence it had been struck off in the height of the day.

What can the strange creature mean? But she had had experience of her,
and knew the instinctive divination that got at objects and results
where reason in full-grown man would syllogize into the darkness of
despair.

Nor was it long before she is running back, leaping with all the
_abandon_ of a romp, crying--

"I will save dear Charlie yet; for I love him as much as I hate that old
curmudgeon."

"What does the girl mean? Whaur was you, bairn?" said her mother.

"Oh mother, how cold it is for you! Wrap the cloak about you."

"But what _is_ it that you mean, Jeannie?"

"We shall be home by-and-by; come."

And, putting an arm round her mother's waist, she impelled her forward
with the strength of her wythe of an arm.

"Come, come, there are ghosts about these woods;" and then she cowered,
but still impelled.

Nor did the mother press the question she had already put twice; for, as
we have said, she knew the nature of the girl, who ever took her own
way, and had the art to make that way either filial obedience or loving
conciliation.

"Oh, I'm so frightened for these ghosts!" she continued. "You know there
was a murder here once upon a time. They're so like myself--wicked, and
won't answer when they're spoken to, as I would not answer you, dear
mother, just now; but wait till to-morrow, and you shall see that I am
your own loving Jeannie."

"Weel, weel, bairn, we _will_ see. But, oh, I'm muckle afraid; d'ye
know, Jeannie, Charlie has been robbing! And wha, think ye, was the
man--wha but--"

"Hush, hush, mother, I know it all already; but let me beneath your
cloak, I'm so frightened."

And the little sprite got in, keeping her head and the little cup of a
bonnet protruding every moment to look round; yet if it could have been
seen in the dark, with such a sly, half-humorous eye, as betokened one
of those curiously-made creatures who seem to be formed for studies to
the thoroughgoing decent pacers of the world's stage.

"Ah! now we're all safe, as poor Charlie will be to-morrow," she cried,
as they got to the foot of the long row, and she emerged in the light of
one of the lamps, so like a flash from a cloud, running before her
mother to get her to walk faster and faster, as if some scheme she had
in her head was loitering under the impediment of her mother's wearied,
oh, wearied step.

Having at length reached home, Jeannie ran and got the fire as bright as
her own eye, crying out occasionally, as she glanced about,

"Poor Charlie in a dungeon!" and again, a few minutes after, when
puffing at the fire with the bellows,

"No fire for dear Charlie; all dark and dismal!"

And then, running for the little paper packet with the cheese and bread,
and setting it down,

"But he'll see the sun to-morrow, and will sleep in his own bed
to-morrow night too; that he shall. Now eat, mother, for you will be
hungry; and see you this!" as she took from her pocket a very tiny
bottle, which would hold somewhere about a glass.

"Take that," filling out a little whisky.

"Oh dear, dear bairn, where learnt ye a' that witchery?" said the
mother, looking at her.

But the sly look, sometimes without a trace of laughter in her face, was
the only answer.

And now they are stretched in bed in each other's arms; but it was a
restless night for both. And how different the manifestations of the
restlessness! The groans of the elder for the fate of her only boy, now
suspended on the scales of justice--one branch of the balance to be lopt
off by Nemesis, and the other left with a noose in the string whereon to
hang that erring, yet still beloved son; hysterical laughs from Jeannie
in her dreams, as she saw herself undo the kench, and Charlie let out,
clapping his hands, and praying too, and kissing Jeannie, and other
fantastic tricks of fancy in her own domain, unburdened with heavy clay
which soils and presses upon her wings and binds her to earth, and to
these monstrous likenesses of things, which she says are all a lying
nature under the bonds of a blind fate, from where she cannot get free,
even though she screams of murder and oppression and cruelty, and all
the ills that earth-born flesh inherits from the first man.

Yet, for all these deductions from the sleep they needed, Jeannie was up
in the morning early, infusing tea for herself and mother, muttering, as
she whisked about,

"No breakfast for him made by me, who love him so dearly; but in this
very house, ay, this night, he will have supper; and such a supper!"

In the midst of these scenes in the little room, a knock came to the
door. It was a policeman, to say that she and her mother must be up to
the office by ten.

"And shall we not?" said Jeannie, laughing; "wouldn't I have been there
at any rate?"

Then, a little after, came the stern Henderson, still ignorant of who
robbed him. Mrs. S--th got up trembling, and looking at him with terror,
so dark he appeared.

"Where is Charles?" he said.

"We don't know," said Jeannie, turning a side-glance at her mother. It
was true she hated her uncle mortally, for the reason that, though he
was to an extent generous to them, he was harsh too, and left them often
poorly off, when from his wealth, which he concealed, he might have made
them happy; and then how could they help the conduct of the son whose
earnings ought to have relieved the uncle of even his small advances?

But though Jeannie hated the curmudgeon, who was, if he could, to hang
her brother--worth to her all the world and a bit of heaven--the mother
saw some change in the girl's conduct towards her uncle. Though pure as
snow, she flew to him and hugged him with the art of one of the denizens
of rougedom, and kissed him, and all the time was acting some by-play
with her nimble fingers.

"Where is your box, you naughty uncle? Doesn't my mother like her eyes
opened in the morning? Ah, here it is."

And getting the box, she carried it to her mother, who was still more
surprised; for she never had got a pinch from Mr. Henderson nor any one,
though she sometimes, for her breathing, took a draught of a pipe at
night.

"It is empty, you witch," cried Henderson.

"Ah! then, my mother will not get her eyes opened." And she returned it
into his pocket with these said subtle fingers.

The mother got dressed, and took a cup of Jeannie's tea, and in a few
minutes they were all on their way to the police office. They found
Captain Stewart in his room, and along with him the procurator-fiscal.

"Come away, Mr. Henderson; this is a bad business," said Stewart.

"The villain!" cried Henderson; "I hope he will hang for it."

"Ay, if guilty though, only," replied the captain.

"Would you know the man?" said the fiscal.

"No, he had a napkin over his face; but I could guess something from his
size and voice."

"He admits the robbery," said Stewart; "but he has an absurd
qualification about a frolic, which yet, I am bound to say, is supported
by his accomplices."

"Then the money, five pounds, has not been got," said the fiscal. "This
is a great want; for without it, I don't see what we can make of the
case."

"Money here or money there, I've lost it anyhow; and if he isn't hanged,
I'll not be pleased."

"Was there any but one man engaged in the affair?"

"Just one, and plenty."

"He had a gun?"

"Yes."

"Would you know it?"

"No. I was, to say the truth, too frightened to examine the instrument
that was to shoot me."

"Then we have nothing but the admission and the testimony of the
accomplices, who say it was a frolic," said Stewart.

"No frolic to me," cried Henderson. "Why then didn't they return the
money?"

"They say they called and ran after you, and that you would not wait to
get it back."

"Then why didn't they produce it to you?" said Henderson. "The money is
appropriated."

"A circumstance," said the fiscal, "in itself sufficient to rebut the
frolic. Yes, the strength of the case is there."

"So I thought," growled the man.

"You wasn't in liquor?"

"No."

"Are you ever?"

"I don't deny that in town I take a glass, but seldom so much as to
affect my walking; never so much as make me dream I was robbed of money,
and that too money gone from my pocket."

"Where do you carry your money?"

"In my waistcoat pocket. Sometimes I have carried a valuable bill home
in my snuff-mull, when it was empty by chance."

"Where had you the five pounds?"

"I am not sure, but I think in my left waistcoat pocket."

"And you gave it on demand? It was not rifled from you?"

"I thrust it into the villain's hand, and ran."

"Well, we must confront you with the supposed robber," said the captain.
"But you seem to be in choler, and I caution you against a precipitate
judgment. You may naturally think the admission of the young men enough,
and that may make you see what perhaps may not be to be seen. I confess
the admission of _three_ to be more than the law wants or wishes; yet
there are peculiarities in this case that take it out of the general
rules." Stewart then nodded to an officer, who went out and returned.

"There stands the prisoner."

"Charles S----th!" ejaculated the uncle: "my own nephew! execrable
villain!"

And he looked at the youth with bated breath and fiery eyes.

There was silence for a few minutes. The officials looked pitiful. The
mother hung down her head; and little Jeannie leered significantly,
while she took the strings of her bonnet, tied them, undid them again,
and flung away the ends till they went round her neck; nay, the playful
minx was utterly dead to the condition of her brother who stood there,
ashamed to look any one in the face, if he was not rather like an
exhumed corpse; and we would not be far out if we said that she even
laughed as she saw the curmudgeon staring like an angry mastiff at the
brother she loved so well. But then, was she not an eccentric thing,
driven hither and thither by vagrant impulses, and with thoughts in her
head which nobody could understand?

"Was this the man who robbed you, Mr. Henderson?"

"Yes, the very man; now when I recollect. Stay, was there any
handkerchief found on him?"

"Yes; that," said an officer, producing a red silk handkerchief.

"Why, I gave him that," said Mr. Henderson. "It cost me 4s. 6d.; and it
was that he had over his face when he robbed me of my hard-earned
money!"

"It is true," said Charles; "and sorry am I for the frolic, which my
companions forced me into."

"A frolic with five pounds at its credit," said Mr. Henderson. "Where is
the money, sir?"

"Ah! I know, dear uncle," cried the watchful Jeannie, in a piercing
treble of the clearest silver.

All eyes were turned on Jeannie.

"Then where is it, girl?"

"I saw him put it in his snuff-mull last night when he was at mother's."

"Examine your box, Mr. Henderson."

The man growled, took out the box, and there was the five pounds. He
looked at Jeannie as if he would have devoured her with his nose at a
single pinch.

"Was Mr. Henderson sober, Miss S----th?"

"No."

"Was he drunk?"

"No. Only he couldn't stand scarcely, though he could walk; and he
called mother Jeannie, and me Peggy, and he said 'twas a shame in us to
burn two candles at his expense, when one was enough."

"_Saved by a pinch_," cried Captain Stewart.

"Mr. Henderson," said the fiscal, "the case is done, and would never
have come here if your nose had happened last night to be as itchy as
your hand. The prisoner is discharged."

And no sooner had the words been uttered than Jeannie flew to her
brother, hung round his neck, kissed him, blubbered and played such
antics that the fiscal could not refrain searching for his handkerchief.
He found it too; but just as if this article were no part of his
official property, he returned it to his pocket; and then, as he saw
Charles leaning on his mother's breast, and making more noise with his
heart and lungs than he could have done if he had been hanged, he
resolved, after due deliberation, to let the "hanging drop" have its own
way in sticking on the top of his cheek, and determined not to fall for
all his jerking.

"BARBADOES, _15th July_ 18--.

"MY DEAREST LITTLE JEANNIE,--I am at length settled the manager of a
great sugar factory, with L400 a year. Tell your mother I will write her
by next post; and all I can say meantime is, that Messrs. Coutts and Co.
will pay her L100 a year, half-yearly, till I return to keep you, for
saving me from the gallows. Accept the offer of the old man. He is worth
L500 a year; and you're just the little winged spirit that will keep up
a fire of life in a good heart only a little out of use.

"_P.S._--Tell uncle that I will send him five pounds of snuff, by next
ship, in return for the five pounds I took out of his box on that
eventful night, which was the beginning of my reformation.

"Tell Mrs. S----k and Mrs. W----pe that their sons arrived at Jamaica;
but, poor fellows, they are both dead.

"The same vessel that carries the snuff will convey to mother a hogshead
of sugar and a puncheon of rum. So that at night, in place of the tiny
phial which held a glass, and which you used to draw out of your pocket
so slily when mother was weakly, you may now mix for her a tumbler of
rum-punch; and if you don't take some too, I'll send you no more. But,
hark ye, Jeannie, don't give uncle a _drop_, though he tried to give me
one that, I fear, would have made my head, like yours, a little giddy.
Adieu, dear little Ariel."




THE PROCRASTINATOR.


Being overtaken by a shower in Kensington Gardens, I sought shelter in
one of the alcoves near the palace. I was scarce seated, when the storm
burst with all its fury; and I observed an old fellow, who had stood
loitering till the hurricane whistled round his ears, making towards me,
as rapidly as his apparently palsied limbs would permit. Upon his nearer
approach, he appeared rather to have suffered from infirmity than years.
He wore a brownish-black coat, or rather shell, which, from its
dimensions, had never been intended for the wearer; and his
inexpressibles were truly inexpressible. "So," said I, as he seated
himself on the bench, and shook the rain from his old broad-brimmed hat,
"you see, old boy, '_Procrastination is the thief of time_;' the clouds
gave you a hint of what was coming, but you seemed not to take it." "It
is," replied he, eagerly. "Doctor Young is in the right. Procrastination
has been my curse since I was in leading-strings. It has grown with my
growth, and strengthened with my strength. It has ever been my besetting
sin--my companion in prosperity and adversity; and I have slept upon it,
like Samson on the lap of Delilah, till it has shorn my locks and
deprived me of my strength. It has been to me a witch, a manslayer, and
a murderer; and when I would have shaken it off in wrath and in disgust,
I found I was no longer master of my own actions and my own house. It
had brought around me a host of its blood relations--its sisters and its
cousins-german--to fatten on my weakness, and haunt me to the grave; so
that when I tore myself from the embrace of one, it was only to be
intercepted by another. You are young, sir, and a stranger to me; but
its effects upon me and my history--the history of a poor paralytic
shoemaker--if you have patience to hear, may serve as a beacon to you in
your voyage through life."

Upon expressing my assent to his proposal--for the fluency and fervency
of his manner had at once riveted my attention and excited curiosity--he
continued:--

"I was born without a fortune, as many people are. When about five years
of age, I was sent to a parish school in Roxburghshire, and
procrastination went with me. Being possessed of a tolerable memory, I
was not more deficient than my schoolfellows; but the task which they
had studied the previous evening was by me seldom looked at till the
following morning, and my seat was the last to be occupied of any other
on the form. My lessons were committed to memory by a few hurried
glances, and repeated with a faltering rapidity, which not unfrequently
puzzled the ear of the teacher to follow me. But what was thus hastily
learned, was as suddenly forgotten. They were mere surface impressions,
each obliterated by the succeeding. And though I had run over a
tolerable general education, I left school but little wiser than when I
entered it.

"My parents--peace to their memory!"--here the old fellow looked most
feelingly, and a tear of filial recollection glistened in his eyes: it
added a dignity to the recital of his weakness, and I almost reverenced
him--"My parents," continued he, "had no ambition to see me rise higher
in society than an honest tradesman; and at thirteen I was bound
apprentice to a shoemaker. Yes, sir, I was--I am a shoemaker; and but
for my curse--my malady--had been an ornament to my profession. I have
measured the foot of a princess, sir; I have made slippers to his
Majesty!" Here his tongue acquired new vigour from the idea of his own
importance. "Yes, sir, I have made slippers to his Majesty; yet I am an
unlucky--I am a bewitched--I am a ruined man. But to proceed with my
history. During the first year of my apprenticeship, I acted in the
capacity of errand boy; and, as such, had to run upon many an unpleasant
message--sometimes to ask money, frequently to borrow it. Now, sir, I am
also a _bashful_ man, and, as I was saying, _bashfulness_ is one of the
blood relations which procrastination has fastened upon me. While acting
in my last-mentioned capacity, I have gone to the house, gazed at every
window, passed it and repassed it, placed my hand upon the rapper,
withdrawn it, passed it and repassed it again, stood hesitating and
consulting with myself, then resolved to defer it till the next day, and
finally returned to my master, not with a direct lie, but a broad
_equivocation_; and this was another of the cousins-german which
procrastination introduced to my acquaintance.

"In the third year of my servitude, I became fond of reading; was
esteemed a quick workman; and, having no desire for money beyond what
was necessary to supply my wants, I gave unrestricted indulgence to my
new passion. We had each an allotted quantity of work to perform weekly.
Conscious of being able to complete it in half the time, and having
yielded myself solely to my ruinous propensity to delay, I seldom did
anything before the Thursday; and the remaining days were spent in
hurry, bustle, and confusion. Occasionally I overrated my abilities--my
task was unfinished, and I was compelled to count a _dead horse_. Week
after week this grew upon me, till I was so firmly saddled, that, until
the expiration of my apprenticeship, I was never completely freed from
it. This was another of my curse's handmaidens."

Here he turned to me with a look of seriousness, and said, "Beware,
young man, how you trust to your own strength and your own talents; for
however noble it may be to do so, let it be in the open field, before
you are driven into a corner, where your arms may come in contact with
the thorns and the angles of the hedges.

"About this time, too, I fell in love--yes, _fell_ in love; for I just
beheld the fair object, and I was a dead man, or a new man, or anything
you will. Frequently as I have looked and acted like a fool, I believe I
never did so so strikingly as at that moment. She was a beautiful
girl--a very angel of light--about five feet three inches high, and my
own age. Heaven knows how I ever had courage to declare my passion; for
I put it off day after day, and week after week, always preparing a new
speech against the next time of meeting her, until three or four rivals
stepped forward before me. At length I did speak, and never was love
more clumsily declared. I told her in three words; then looked to the
ground, and again in her face most pitifully. She received my addresses
just as saucily as a pretty girl could do. But it were useless to go
over our courtship; it was the only happy period of my existence, and
every succeeding day has been misery. Matters were eventually brought to
a bearing, and the fatal day of final felicity appointed. I was yet
young, and my love possessed all the madness of a first passion. She not
only occupied my heart, but my whole thoughts; I could think of nothing
else, speak of nothing else, and, what was worse, do nothing else: it
burned up the very capabilities of action, and rendered my native
indolence yet more indolent. However, the day came (and a bitter stormy
day it was), the ceremony was concluded, and the honeymoon seemed to
pass away in a fortnight.

"About twelve months after our marriage, Heaven (as authors say) blest
our loves with a son and, I had almost said, heir. Deplorable
patrimony!--heir of his mother's features--the sacrifice of his father's
weakness." Kean could not have touched this last burst. The father, the
miserable man, parental affection, agony, remorse, repentance, were
expressed in a moment.

A tear was hurrying down his withered cheek as he dashed it away with
his dripping sleeve. "I am a weak old fool," said he, endeavouring to
smile; for there was a volatile gaiety in his disposition, which his
sorrows had subdued, but not extinguished. "Yet, my boy! my poor dear
Willie!--I shall never--no, I shall never see him again!" Here he again
wept; and had nature not denied me that luxury, I should have wept too,
for the sake of company. After a pause, he again proceeded:--

"After the birth of my child, came the baptism. I had no conscientious
objection to the tenets of the Established Church of my country; but I
belonged to no religious community. I had never thought of it as an
obligation beyond that of custom, and deferred it from year to year,
till I felt ashamed to 'go forward' on account of my age. My wife was a
Cameronian; and to them, though I knew nothing of their principles, I
had an aversion. But for her to hold up the child while I was in the
place, was worse than heathenism--was unheard-of in the parish. The
nearest Episcopal chapel was at Kelso, a distance of ten miles. The
child still remained unbaptized. 'It hasna a name yet,' said the
ignorant meddlers, who had no higher idea of the ordinance. It was a
source of much uneasiness to my wife, and gave rise to some family
quarrelling. Months succeeded weeks, and eventually the child was
carried to the Episcopal church. This choked up all the slander of the
town, and directed it into one channel upon my devoted head. Some said I
'wasna sound,' and all agreed I 'was nae better than I should be,' while
the zealous clergyman came to my father, expressing his fears that 'his
son was in a bad way.' For this, too, am I indebted to procrastination.
I thus became a martyr to supposed opinions, of which I was ignorant;
and such was the unchristian bigotry of my neighbours, that, deeming it
sinful to employ one whom they considered little other than a pagan,
about five years after my marriage I was compelled to remove with my
family to London.

"We were at this period what tradesmen term _miserably hard up_. Having
sold off our little stock of furniture, after discharging a few debts
which were unavoidably contracted, a balance of rather less than two
pounds remained; and upon this, my wife, my child, and myself were to
travel a distance of three hundred and fifty miles. I will not go over
the journey: we performed it on foot in twenty days; and, including
lodging, our daily expense amounted to one shilling and eightpence; so
that, on entering the metropolis, all we possessed was five shillings
and a few pence. It was the dead of winter, and nearly dark, when we
were passing down St. John Street, Clerkenwell. I was benumbed, my wife
was fainting, and our poor child was blue and speechless. We entered a
public-house near Smithfield, where two pints of warm porter and ginger,
with a crust of bread and cheese, operated as partial restoratives. The
noisy scene of butchers, drovers, and coal-heavers was new to me. My
child was afraid, my wife uncomfortable, and I, a gaping observer,
forgetful of my own situation. My boy pulled my coat, and said, 'Come,
father;' my wife jogged my elbow, and reminded me of a lodging; but my
old reply, '_Stop a little_,' was my ninety and nine times repeated
answer. Frequently the landlord made a long neck over the table, gauging
the contents of our tardily emptied pint; and, as the watchman was
calling 'Past eleven,' finally took it away, and bade us 'bundle off.'
Now I arose, feeling at once the pride of my spirit and the poorness of
my purse, vowing never to darken his door again, should I remain in
London a hundred years.

"On reaching the street, I inquired at a half-grown boy where we might
obtain a lodging; and after causing me to inquire twice or thrice--'I no
ken, Sawney--haud awa' north,' said the brat, sarcastically imitating my
accent. I next inquired of a watchman, who said there was no place upon
his beat; but _beat_ was Gaelic to me; and I repeated my inquiry to
another, who directed me towards the hells of Saffron Hill. At a third,
I requested to be informed the way, who, after abusing me for seeking
lodgings at such an hour, said he had seen me in the town six hours
before, and bade us go to the devil. A fourth inquired if we had any
money, took us to the bar of a public-house, called for a quartern of
gin, drank our healths, asked if we could obtain a bed, which being
answered in the negative, he hurried to the door, bawling 'Half-past
eleven,' and left me to pay for the liquor. On reaching Saffron Hill, it
was in an Irish uproar: policemen, thieves, prostitutes, and Israelites
were brawling in a satanic mass of iniquity; blood and murder was the
order of the night. My child screamed, my wife clung to my arm; she
would not, she durst not, sleep in such a place. To be brief: we had to
wander in the streets till the morning; and I believe that night, aided
by a broken heart, was the forerunner of her death. It was the first
time I had been compelled to walk trembling for a night without shelter,
or to sit frozen on a threshold; and this, too, I owe to
procrastination.

"For a time we rented a miserable garret, without furniture or fixture,
at a shilling weekly, which was paid in advance. I had delayed making
application for employment till our last sixpence was spent. We had
passed a day without food; my child appeared dying; my wife said
nothing, but she gazed upon her dear boy, and shook her head with an
expression that wrung me to the soul. I rushed out almost in madness,
and, in a state of unconsciousness, hurried from shop to shop in
agitation and in misery. It was vain; appearances were against me. I was
broken down and dejected, and my state of mind and manner appeared a
compound of the maniac and the blackguard. At night I was compelled to
return to the suffering victims of my propensity, penniless and
unsuccessful. It was a dreadful and a sleepless night with us all; or if
I did slumber upon the hard floor for a moment (for we had neither seat
nor covering), it was to startle at the cries of my child wailing for
hunger, or the smothered sighs of my unhappy partner. Again and again I
almost thought them the voice of the Judge, saying, 'Depart from me, ye
cursed.'

"I again hurried out with daybreak, for I was wretched, and resumed my
inquiries; but night came, and I again returned equally successful. The
yearnings of my child were now terrible, and the streaming eyes of his
fond mother, as she pressed his head with her cold hand upon her lap,
alone distinguished her from death. The pains of hunger in myself were
becoming insupportable; my teeth gnashed against each other, and worms
seemed gnawing my heartstrings. At this moment, my dear wife looked me
in the face, and, stretching her hand to me, said, 'Farewell, my love,
in a few hours I and our dear child shall be at rest! Oh! hunger,
hunger!' I could stand no more. Reason forsook me. I could have died for
them; but I could not beg. We had nothing to pledge. Our united wearing
apparel would not have brought a shilling. My wife had a pair of pocket
Bibles (I had once given them in a present): my eyes fell upon them--I
snatched them up unobserved--rushed from the house, and--Oh heaven! let
the cause forgive the act--pawned them for eighteenpence. It saved our
lives, it obtained employment, and for a few weeks appeared to overcome
my curse.

"I am afraid I grow tedious with particulars, sir; it is an old man's
fault--though I am not old either; I am scarce fifty-five. After being
three years in London, I was appointed foreman of an extensive
establishment in the Strand. I remained in this situation about four
years. It was one of respectability and trust, demanding, hourly, a
vigilant and undivided attention. To another, it might have been
attended with honour and profit; but to me it terminated in disgrace.
Amongst other duties, I had the payment of the journeymen, and the
giving out of the work. They being numerous, and their demands frequent,
it would have required a clerk for the proper discharge of that duty
alone. I delayed entering at the moment in my books the materials and
cash given to each, until they, multiplying upon my hands, and begetting
a consequent confusion, it became impossible for me to make their entry
with certainty or correctness. The workmen were not slow in discovering
this, and not a few of the more profligate improved upon it to their
advantage. Thus I frequently found it impossible to make both ends of my
account meet; and in repeated instances, where the week's expenditure
exceeded the general average, though satisfied in my own mind of its
accuracy, from my inability to state the particulars, in order to
conceal my infirmity, I have accounted for the overplus from my own
pocket. Matters went on in this way for a considerable time. You will
admit I was rendered feelingly sensible of my error, and I resolved to
correct it. But my resolutions were always made of paper; they were like
a complaisant debtor--full of promises, praying for grace, and
dexterously evading performance. Thus, day after day, I deferred the
adoption of my new system to a future period. For, sir, you must be
aware there is a pleasure in procrastination, of a nature the most
alluring and destructive; but it is a pleasure purchased by the
sacrifice of judgment: in its nature and results it resembles the
happiness of the drunkard; for, in exact ratio as our spirits are raised
above their proper level, in the same proportion, when the ardent
effects have evaporated, they sink beneath that level.

"I was now too proud to work as a mere journeyman, and I commenced
business for myself; but I began without capital, and a gourd of sorrow
hung over me, while I stood upon sand. I had some credit; but, as my
bills became payable, I ever found I had put off, till the very day they
became due, the means of liquidating them; then had I to run and borrow
five pounds from one, and five shillings from another, urged by despair,
from a hundred quarters. My creditors grew clamorous; my wife upbraided
me; I flew to the bottle--to the bottle!" he repeated; "and my ruin was
complete--my family, business, everything, was neglected. Bills of
Middlesex were served on me, declarations filed; I surrendered myself,
and was locked up in Whitecross Street. It is a horrid place; the Fleet
is a palace to it; the Bench, paradise! But, sir, I will draw my painful
story to a close. During my imprisonment my wife died--died, not by my
hands, but from the work of them! She was laid in a strange grave, and
strangers laid her head in the dust, while I lay a prisoner in the city
where she was buried. My boy--my poor Willie--who had been always
neglected, was left without father and without mother! Sir! sir! my boy
was left without food! He forsook visiting me in the prison; I heard he
had turned the associate of thieves; and from that period five years
have passed, and I have obtained no trace of him. But it is my doing--my
poor Willie!"

Here the victim of procrastination finished his narrative. The storm had
passed away, and the sun again shone out. The man had interested me, and
we left the gardens together. I mentioned that I had to go into the
city; he said he had business there also, and asked to accompany me. I
could not refuse him. From the door by which we left the gardens, our
route lay by way of Oxford Street. As we proceeded down Holborn, the
church bell of St. Sepulchre's began to toll; and the crowd, collected
round the top of Newgate Street, indicated an execution. As we
approached the place, the criminal was brought forth. He was a young man
about nineteen years of age, and had been found guilty of an aggravated
case of housebreaking. As the unhappy being turned round to look upon
the spectators, my companion gave a convulsive shriek, and, springing
from my side, exclaimed, "Righteous Heaven! my Willie! my murdered
Willie!" He had proceeded but a few paces, when he fell with his face
upon the ground. In the wretched criminal he discovered his lost, his
only son. The miserable old man was conveyed, in a state of
insensibility, to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, where I visited him the
next day: he seemed to suffer much, and in a few hours he died with a
shudder, and the word _procrastination_ on his tongue.




THE TEN OF DIAMONDS.


At length I reached the Moated Grange, on a visit to my friend Graeme.
But since I am to speak a good deal of this place, I may as well explain
that it was misnamed. There was no moat, nor had there been for a
hundred years; but round the old pile--hoary, and shrivelled, and
palsied enough, in all conscience, for delighting the mole-eye of any
antiquarian hunks--- there was a visible trace of the old ditch in a
hollow covered with green sward going all round the house, which hollow
was the only place clear of trees. And these trees! They stood for a
mile round, like an army of giants seventy feet high, all intent, it
would seem, upon choking the poor old pile, throwing their big arms over
the hollow, swinging them to and fro, and dashing their points against
the panes as the wind listed. It would come by-and-by to be a hard task
for the stone and lime victim to hold its place, with its sinews of run
mortar, against these tyrants of the wood. And then they were as full of
noises as Babel itself--noises a thousand times more
heterogeneous--croaking, chirping, screeching, cawing, whistling,
billing, cooing, cuckooing. "What a place to live in!" I thought, fresh
as I was from town, "where, if there are noises, one knows something of
their meaning--maledictory, yea, devilish as it often is, expressive of
the passions of men which will never sleep. But these! what could one
make of such a _tintamarre_? Nothing but the reflection--that is, if you
happen to be a philosopher, which, thank God, I am not--that not one
note of all this rural oratorio is without its intention; and thus we
always satisfy ourselves. But when we run the matter up a little
further, we find it a very small affair: two responses, one to each of
two chords vibrating for ever and ever throughout all nature--pleasure
and pain, pain and pleasure, turn by turn--the last pain being death!"

"How can you live here, Graeme?" I said, as we stood under the old
porch, looking out, or rather having our look blocked up by the
thickness, and our ears deaved by the eternal screeching and cawing of
five thousand crows overhead.

"There's gloom everywhere where man is," he replied, "and screeching
owls in every brain. You can't get quit." Then, lowering his voice, "I
am haunted, and yet live here in this Moated Grange! The difference is
this: in the town the gaslight and eternal clatter distract a man like
me who is plagued from within; here I find some concord between the
inside and the out, only the owls in the inside are more grotesque and
horrible."

"Well, Graeme," said I, "it is needless to disguise what brought me
here. The secret is out. The choke-damp has got wind. If the idiot had
not blown his brains out, it would have been nothing. You could have
paid him back, and he might now have had both his money and his brains."

"Got wind!" cried he, clutching me by the breast of the coat with the
fury of a highwayman or a spasmodic actor. "Did the villain Ruggieri
tell you?"

"No."

"So far well," he added, taking a long pull with his lungs, as if he had
got quit of an attack of asthma; "but though I may satisfy the widow,
how am I to appease Heaven? Come," he added, again seizing me with a
force in which there was a tremble, "I want to ease my mind. You are my
oldest friend, and a load divided is more easily carried."

And leading the way into the parlour, where the fire had got into a fine
red heat, and was sending a glare through the ruby and golden contents
of several strangely-shaped bottles on the table, he threw himself on a
chair on the one side, I taking one on the other. A few minutes of
silence intervened.

"If it be as painful for you," he continued, "to hear a confession as it
is for me to make it, you may help yourself to bear the infliction by
pouring into your stomach some of that Burgundy. I will take none. I
have fire enough in my brain already;" and he pushed the bottle to me.

"You were a bit of a blackleg yourself," he continued, as he threw
himself back in the arm-chair, and compressed his chest with his folded
arms till the blood seemed to mount to his face. "You were present at
that game where I took the five thousand by a trick from Gourlay. You
know, as a gambler yourself, that all the tribe are by constitution
cheats. It is folly to speak of an honest gambler. The passion is a ten
thousand times distilled selfishness, with no qualm of obligation to God
or religion to keep it in check--only a little fear of that bugbear,
society. Our club at the 'Red Lion' all knew this in our souls; but
every one of us knew also that the moment he would be discovered
cheating, he would be scorched with our hatred and contempt. He must
leave our pure society on the instant--not of course that he was any
worse than the rest of us, but only that he was unfortunate in being
discovered. That night Gourlay and I were demons. We had baffled each
other, and drank till our brains seethed, though our countenances and
speech betrayed nothing but the extreme of coolness. He had won a
thousand of me, and hounded me from post to pillar, offering to be
cleared out by my _skill_, as he called it sneeringly. The fellow, in
short, hated me, because the year before, at Baden-Baden, I had taken
two thousand out of him, and would not give him his revenge."

"He must have thought you honest," said I; "otherwise he would not have
thus badgered you to play."

"No; he had not the generosity to think me honest. I repeat, no gambler
ever thinks another gambler honest, and he lies when he says so. He knew
himself to be a rogue, and thought it diamond in the teeth of diamond;"
and, pausing and meditating, he repeated the word,
"diamond--diamond--diamond."

I looked at him in surprise. He continued to keep up the cuckoo sound,
trying to laugh, and yet totally unable to accomplish even a cackle, as
if some internal force clutched the diaphragm and mocked him, so that
his efforts were reduced to a gurgling as in cynanche--like a dog
choking with a rope round his craig, the sounds coming jerking out in
barks, and dying away again in yelps and whines.

"You will know presently why that word produces these strange effects
upon me," he at length contrived to be able to say. "Nor less the form
of the figure as painted in these hell-books. It is blazoned everywhere.
The devil wears it in fiery lines on his face as he hounds me a-nights
through these thick woods. Yet I am not afraid of it--rather court it,
as if I yearned for the burning pain of its red signature in, and in,
and in to my brain, as far as thought goes."

"Have you got mad, Graeme?" I ejaculated. "What has the figure of a
diamond, or of ten diamonds----"

"_Ten_, you would say?" he immediately cried, as he started up, and
immediately threw himself down; "_the_ ten, if you dared. You are
commissioned by the powers yonder--you, you, too, along with the others,
including the devil."

"I have no wish to be in the same commission with that great personage,"
said I, with a very poor attempt to laugh, for I felt anxious about my
friend. "I gave him up when I threw his books into the fire, and swore
never more to touch the unhallowed thing."

I perceived that my attempt at humour increased his excitement. "Repeat
the words," he cried. "Say 'the ten of diamonds' right out with open
mouth, and repeat them a thousand times, so as to give me ear-proof that
the powers yonder," pointing to the roof, "are against me."

At this moment the door of the parlour was opened by some timid hand.

"Come hither, my pretty Edith," he said, in a calmer voice, as a little
cherub-looking child, with a head so like as if, after the fashion of
Danaee's, it had been powdered by Jupiter with gold dust, and a pair of
blue eyes, as if the said god, in making them, had tried to emulate the
wing of the Halcyon in a human orb, and intended, moreover, the light
thereof to calm the storm in those of her father.

And so it did, to a certain extent; for Edith got upon his knee, and,
putting her arms round his neck, kept peering with those eyes into the
very pupils of her father's, till the light of innocence, softening the
rigid nerve, enabled them to regain somewhat of their natural lustre.

"What did Trott, the crazy girl who spaes fortunes, give you, Edith?"
and coruscations began again to mix with the softer light.

"A card," replied the girl, as she undid her embrace, and, casting her
head to a side, viewed him timidly.

"She has been frightened," thought I, "by some consequences resulting
from the same question put at some former time."

"And what was the name of the card?" he continued.

But the girl was now on her guard. She hesitated, and struggled to get
away.

"Tell this gentleman, then."

"The ten of diamonds," cried she; and no sooner were the words out than
she fled, like a beam of light chased by the shadow of a tombstone.

"You see how it is," continued Graeme, getting into his former
expression: "through this channel, this innocent medium, this creature
the fruit of my loins, the idol of my heart, is the lightning of reproof
hurled. A wandering idiot is prompted by the very inspiration of her
imbecility to put into the hands of my child the emblem of my
wickedness, that she in her love might place it before my eyes, there to
develop the sin-print in the dark camera of my mind. No wonder she is
alarmed at the mention of the words, for she read the horror produced in
me when she held up what she called the pretty picture in my face. But,
thank God! thank God!"----

And he fell for a moment into meditation.

"For what?" said I, as my wonder increased.

"That her mother, who is within a week of her confinement, knows nothing
of this mystery."

I was silent. I might have said, "What mystery?" but I would only have
irritated him.

"Rymer!"

I started. I was looking into the fire, with my ear altogether his, yet
the strange mention of my name startled me.

"What could infamy--infamy, with just a beam of consciousness to tell
it was infamy, and no more but that beam--think and feel to be
worshipped by purity and love? I have shrunk from the embrace of that
woman with a recoil equal to that produced by the enfolding of a snake."

"Though she knows not, and may never know, anything of this affair which
has taken such a hold of you?" said I, rather as a speaking automaton,
forced to vocabulate.

"The very reason why I recoil and shudder."

I had made a mistake--I would not risk another. "The man has got into
the enfolding arms of mania," I thought, "and I must be chary."

"Will you keep in your remembrance," he continued, "the words uttered by
Edith, and how she came by them? Will you?"

"Yes."

"Then take another glass; you will need it, and another too."

I obeyed not quite so mechanically. The Burgundy was better than the
conversation, and I made the pleasure of the palate compensate for the
pain of the ear.

He now drew out his watch, and, going to the window, withdrew the
curtains. The shades of night had fallen. It looked black as Tartarus,
contrasted with the light within.

"Come here!" he cried; and when I had somewhat reluctantly obeyed what I
considered the request of one whose internal sense had got a jerk from
some mad molecule out of its orbit in the brain--"Do you see anything?"

"Yes," said I--"a big black negative; but as for anything positive, you
might as well look into a coal-pit and find what philosophers do in the
wells of truth. There's nothing to be seen."

"No? Look there--there! See," pointing with his finger, and clutching me
tremulously, "once more--the traces as vivid as ever! See!"

I verily did think I saw something luminous, but it quickly disappeared.
"Oh, probably the reflection of a lantern," I said.

"Yes, a magic one," he replied sneeringly.

"I know of no more magical lantern than a man's head," I replied, a
little disconcerted by his sneer. "Chemists say there's more phosphorus
in the brain than anywhere else; and so I sometimes think."

He made no reply, but, seizing me by the coat, dragged me after him as
he hurried out of the room, and making for a back door, led me out,
bareheaded as I was, into the wood. The darkness had waxed to
pitchiness, and the noises were hushed. The crows had gone to roost; and
had it not been for some too-hoos of the jolly owl, sounding his horn as
he rejoiced that the hated sun had gone to annoy other owls in the west,
the silence would have been complete. But, in truth, I hate silence as
well as darkness, and have no more sympathy with the followers of
Pythagoras than I have with the triumph of the blind Roman who silenced
the covey of pretty women, in the heat of their condolences for his
blindness, by reminding them that they forgot he could feel in the dark.
I thought more of the fire inside, and the bottle of Burgundy, on which
I had made as yet only a small impression.

"If I want darkness, I can as well shut my eyes," said I peevishly, "and
I would even have the advantage of some phosphorescent touches of the
fancy."

"Will you see that with your eyes shut?" he exclaimed triumphantly, as
he bent his body forward to an angle of forty-five, and pointed with
his finger to an object clearly illumined, and exhibiting distinctly a
large card, with ten red diamonds sharply traced upon it. The advantage
he had got over me was lost in the rapture of his gaze; and he seemed to
be charmed by the apparition, for he began to move slowly forward, still
pointing his finger, and without apparently drawing a breath. Though a
little taken by surprise for the instant, it was not easy for me to give
up my practical wisdom, which, as a matter of course, pointed to a
trick.

"You do see it, then?" said he.

"Surely," said I. "There is no mistake it is the figure of the ten of
diamonds, probably stuck upon a turnip lantern."

"I did not ask you for a banter," he replied angrily. "I can draw my own
conclusions. All I wanted was to satisfy myself that I was free from a
monomaniacal illusion. We cannot both be mad; besides, you're a sceptic,
and the testimony of a sceptic's eyes is better than the sneer of his
tongue."

Still he proceeded, I following, and the apparition retreating. "I told
you to remember what Edith said," he continued, as he still pointed his
finger; "and I fancy you can never forget that before you. The two
things are wide apart."

"And so are the two ends of a rope with which a man hangs himself," said
I.

"It is gone!" cried my friend, without noticing my remark. "It has
receded into that infinite from whence it was commissioned to earth to
strike its lightning upon the eye of a falling, erring, miserable
mortal."

"It is gone," said I; "and I am gone also--to finish my bottle of
Burgundy, which I have as little doubt was commissioned from finitude
to strike a little fire into the heart of another erring mortal, not at
this moment perfectly happy."

And I made my way as quick as possible into the parlour, glad to get
quit of the chill of the night air. Meanwhile, there appeared signs of
some extraordinary movement in the other parts of the house, the nature
of which Graeme probably ascertained as he came along the lobby, for I
heard bustling and earnest conversation; and presently little Edith came
stepping in beside me, with something very mysterious in her blue eyes,
far too mysterious for being confided to loud words, and so a whisper
told me that her mother was taken ill, and that Dr. Rogers had been sent
for. This little bit of information carried more to my mind than it
brought away from Edith's. I knew before that Mrs. Graeme was on the eve
of confinement, and it now appeared she had been taken in labour. I saw,
too, that my visit had not been very well timed, and the worse that
Graeme himself was in the extraordinary frame of mind in which I found
him--unfit for facing the dangers, repaying the affections, performing
the duties, and receiving the honours or enjoying the hopes of his
situation. A rap at the door was the signal for Edith's departure, with
the words on her tongue that she knew the doctor's knock. I was now, I
thought, to be left to myself; nor was I displeased, for I wanted a
lounge and a meditation; though of the latter I could not see that I
could make much, if any, more than confirming myself against all
preternaturals as agents on earth, however certain their existence may
be beyond the mystic veil that divides the two worlds. I had known
Graeme's crime and Gourlay's self-murder; but the crime was a trick
among blacklegs, and the suicide was the madness of a gambler, who had
risked his money and was ruined at the moment he wanted to ruin another.
Surely Heaven had something else to do with its retributive lightnings
than employ them, in subversion of all natural laws, in a cause so
inferior in turpitude to others that every hour pass into oblivion, with
more of a mark of natural, and less or none of supernatural
chastisement. I thought I might be contented with such a view of these
prodigies as might quickly consign them to the limbo of men's
machinations; yet somehow or other--perhaps the Burgundy bottle, if it
could have spoken, like that of Asmodeus, might have helped the
solution--I got dreamy, and of course foolish, raising objections
against my own conclusions, and instituting an _alter ego_ to argue
against myself for Graeme's theory. It has always seemed strange to me,
that though mankind hate metaphysics, they are all natural
metaphysicians, especially when a little _wined_. Perhaps the true
reason may be, that as wine came from the gods, it is endued with the
power of raising us to its source. At least, our aspirations, from being
_devine_, become wonderfully _divine_, so that supernatural agencies wax
less difficult to our imaginations; and while we are ten times more
ready to meet a ghost, we are as many times more ready to admit their
possibility. But the end of these grand and elevated conditions is
generally sleep and an ugly nightmare; and though my case was an
exception as regards the latter, I awoke in not a very happy mood, just
as Graeme entered the room and told me it was twelve o'clock. As I
rubbed my eyes, he sat down in his chair, and seemed inclined to court
silence; but it was clear he could not achieve repose.

I felt no inclination to add to his apparent disturbance by any remarks
on what I had seen; but it struck me as remarkable, that, while he got
into contortions and general restlessness, putting his hand to his brow,
throwing one leg over another, closing his hands, and heaving long
sighs, he never so much as thought it worth his pains to ask my opinion
of the scene in the wood. It seemed as if he was so thoroughly convinced
of a divine manifestation against him, that he despised any exceptional
scepticism as utterly beneath his notice or attention--thoroughly
engrossed, as he appeared to be, with the terrible sanction of a portent
of some coming retribution. His silence in some degree distressed me, as
I thought he resented my levity in commenting upon his convictions; so
it was with some relief that Dr. Rogers came in and sat down at the
table, apparently to wait for a call to the bedroom. A man this of
ostentatious gloom,--too grave to deign to be witty, too sanctified to
stoop to be cheerful, and therefore not the man I could have wished to
see as the medical adviser, and perhaps the religious confidant, of my
friend and his wife. A temperate man, too, by his own confession,
pronounced over the top of a bottle; and he drank as if for health,
while his manner of beslabbering the glass with his thick lips indicated
a contempt for its confined capacity; a tumbler would have suited him
better; and he waxed apparently graver when the delightful aroma of the
Bordeaux grape fondled his nostrils. We got into supernaturals
immediately, though how the subject was introduced I cannot remember;
but Dr. Rogers was a grave and heavy advocate for divine manifestation,
and Graeme's ear, circumcised to delicacy, hung upon his thick lips. I
asked for instances beyond the domain of the addled brains of old women,
or the excited fancies of young; and Graeme looked at me intently,
without saying a word.

"I have seen hundreds die," said the doctor, "ay, strong men, the
tissues of whose brain were, in comparison of those of your old women
and young enthusiasts, as iron wires to pellicles of flesh. And how do
they die if they are Christians, as all men ought to be? What is there
in death, think you, to subvert the known laws of physiology? We might
suppose, that as the spirit is about to leave the mortal frame, it will
be fitful, and flit from tissue to tissue, and gleam and die away, to
flare up again in some worldly image, perhaps, of the past; as where I
have known it show the face of an early beloved one, long since gone, in
all its first glory, to the eyes of a lover. Such are mere exceptions,
from which no rule can be drawn; but they occur, and we admit them as
consonant enough to natural causes. So far we all agree; but where is
that consonance in all those numerous cases which have come under my own
observation, where the man--a strong man even in death--is rapt into a
vision set in a halo of light, and showing forth, as an assurance of
divine favour, the very form and features of Him who died on the cross
of Calvary? Is there anything in physiology to account for this? And
then it occurs so often as almost to amount to a rule."

"I have too much respect for religion," replied I, "to throw a doubt on
certain workings of the spirit in that mysterious condition when it
hovers between the two worlds, and when it can hardly be said to belong
to earth; but the case is entirely different where the common agencies
are all working through their fitted and natural means. We can never say
that any of those means are superseded--only others are substituted; and
we do not understand the substitution."

"You are unfortunate," said the doctor, with a triumphant gravity. "If
you admit that supernatural agencies ever have--in any stage of the
world, in any place, way, or manner, or by any means--had to do with
earthly things, or have to do in those days, or will have to do in any
future time or place on the earth's surface, your admission closes up
your mouth for ever."

"To do, in those days, on this night, not many hours agone!" cried
Graeme, with rolling eyes. "Who cares for admissions of those who see,
when one's own eyes are nearer the brain than are the eyes or lips of
him who admits, or of him who denies?"

"Not hours ago!" said the doctor, fixing his big eyes on the face of
Graeme; "and so near a birth?"

"Oh, she knows nothing," said Graeme.

"And I am supremely ignorant," said I.

"Of what?" inquired Rogers, turning his face again to Graeme, as if he
would take him into his mouth.

But just as he expected an answer, a slight rap sounded from the door.
Rogers himself opened it, and found that the call was for him. Graeme
and I were left again together, but not to resume the former silence.

"I did not ask you," said he, "what you thought of the figure in the
wood, for I expected nothing but a sceptical sneer. You have heard
Rogers. He is a shrewd fellow, belonging to a profession not remarkable
for credulity."

"Answer me this," said I: "Did no one know the duplicate card you used
in the cheat?"

"You were present and Ruggieri, no others; did you know it?"

"No."

"Then do you know that Ruggieri is dead in Italy? and even if he had
more penetration than you, the secret died with him. But, I tell you, he
could not have known. Nothing transpired at the play to show that a
duplicate card was used at all, far less to show that it was a
particular card."

"You may stagger me," said I, "but never can convince me that you are
not having a nice game played off upon you, something similar to your
own; only in place of duplicates, I fear there are triplicates. Why
might not Gourlay have been aware of the fact you think only known to
yourself?"

"And yet have shot himself as a ruined gambler?"

"Certainly it is more probable," said I, somewhat caught, "that he would
have insisted upon your repaying him, under the threat of exposure. Yet
one does not know what a man may do or not do, even if we knew the
circumstances. Two doves will not pick up for their nests a straw each
of the same shape. But I believe it is now settled, that no case of
mystery has ever happened, or can be supposed by the most ingenious
imagination, where the chances are more for supernatural agency than for
human ingenuity or chance. The latter I put away out of your case,
though the marvels of coincidence are stranger than fiction. Every one
of us has a little record within his heart of such experiences. I have
been startled by a coincidence into a five minutes' belief in
supernatural agency. One opens a book of six hundred pages, and catches,
on the instant, the passage for which he looked the whole day before. An
actor dies in ranting 'there is another and a better world.' A soldier
is saved from the punishment of death for sleeping on his post, by the
fact of having been able to say that St. Paul's on a certain night
struck thirteen, which it never did before. Andrew Gordon, the miser,
drew a prize of twenty thousand pounds for the number 2001, which he
dreamed of the night previous he bought the ticket. A shepherd was the
discoverer of the Australian diggings, by having taken up a piece of
what he considered quartz to throw at his dog called Goldy. Human
history is full of such things; but, marvellous as they are, they are
not more so than the ways by which man manufactures mysteries, and gets
them believed as the work of Heaven. As to that illuminated figure I saw
in the wood"----

My speech was interrupted by a strange sound from the other end of the
house. Graeme started to his feet. It was not one of pain coming from a
sick-room, but rather one of surprise, and there seemed a bustle among
the servants. The door opened, and a woman's face, with two wild staring
eyes, looked in. "Come here, sir," she cried, and disappeared upon the
instant.

"Something more," ejaculated Graeme, as he hurried away. I was allowed
no time for an absurd monologue. Graeme was not absent many minutes,
when he hurried in as he had hurried out, but his face was not that
which he took with him, braced up into surprise and fear, as that was.
He was now as pale as death's pale horse, and nearly as furious. His eye
beamed an unnatural light--his breathing was quick and snatchy, as if
every inspiration and expiration pained the lungs. He seemed to wish
some one to bind him with ropes, that he might escape the vibrations of
his muscles, and be steadied to be able to speak.

"Be calm," said I, taking him by the shoulders; "what new discovery is
this? Nothing wrong with Mrs. Graeme, I hope?"

"The child," he cried; but he could get no further.

"The child is"--

"Is what?" said I.

"Is marked on the back with the figure of the ten of diamonds."

"Pity it was not marked where it will wear its pockets," said I; "but
it will assuredly be a very fortunate child, nevertheless, and shall
bear a load of diamonds on his back like the Arabian Alcansar."

"Are you mad?" he cried.

"Yes, with reason," I replied. "You know, nothing appears so
outrageously insane to a madman, as that same God's gift called reason.
They say, those who are bitten by the tarantula, and get dancing mad,
think the wondering crowd about them raving maniacs. And there was the
weeping philanthropist in the asylum of Montrose, in Scotland, who wept
all day, and could not be consoled, because of all the people outside
the asylum being mad."

"But," he gasped, "the thing is there."

"No doubt on't," said I, "and you ought to be grateful. I have read
somewhere of one John Zopyrus, who went mad when he heard of a son being
born to him; and here you are not mad, though you have a son (I hope)
born to you, with ten diamonds besides."

"But the thing is there," he again cried.

"Ay, there's the rub, my dear fellow; the rub is there--let the rub _be_
there; that is, go and rub, and the thing rubbed will not be there after
the rubbing."

"Madness, man! It is a true mother's mark."

"Verily, a real _noevus maternus_" said I, "impressed by an avenging
angel on the mother's brain, and transferred by nature's daguerreotype
to the back of the child."

"You have said it."

"Nay, it is you who have said it," I continued; "and I will even suppose
it is a mother's mark, to please you for a little, though it has no more
that character than this sword-prick in my left cheek. But taking it in
your own way, I have a theory I could propound to you about these marks.
We say that the soul is in the body. It is just as true that the body
is in the soul. Every member of the entire physical person is
represented in the brain, though we cannot discern the form in these
white viscera. Now, see you, if a man loses his finger, his son will not
be awanting in that member. But there are cases where the want of a
member is hereditary. Why? Because the member was not represented in the
cerebral microcosm of the first deficient person. From this small
epitome in the brain, the child is an extended copy--_extended_ from a
mathematical point, where all the members and lineaments are _intended_.
So, when the fancy of the mother is working in the brain--say, in
realizing some external image--it will impress it in the cerebral person
(woman) there epitomized; and if she is in a certain way, the image will
go to a corresponding part of the foetal point, which is the epitome of
the child. A most ingenious, and satisfactory, and simple theory, which
will explain the ten-of-diamond naevus, for"----

"Dreadful imbecility!" he exclaimed, as he threw himself on his chair;
"most unaccountable and cruel trifling with a notable visitation of
retributive justice, indicated by visible signs of terrible import to
him who must bear the cross, and be reconciled to an angry Deity."

"Against all that may tend to penitence for a past crime," said I,
getting grave, where gravity might avail for good, "I have nothing to
say. But Heaven does not work through the mean of man's deceit and
stratagem, and the good that comes of fear goes with returning courage."

Conscious of getting into a puling humour, I had no objection to an
interruption by the entrance of Rogers, who, having finished his work,
was probably intent upon the gratification which generally follows.

"I wish you joy of the boy and the diamonds," he said, as he seized
Graeme by the half-palsied hand. "The nurse is reconciled to the omen of
a fortune; and surely never was omen more auspicious, for no sooner had
the strange indication shown its mute vaticination than it disappeared,
that there might be no deduction of beauty from the favourite of the
gods." And drawing, with his lumbering hand, the tumbler near him, he
filled it two-thirds up of pure wine, and presently his lips grappled
with it like a camel at the bucket in the desert, with such effect that
the contents changed vessels in a twinkling.

"Disappeared!" said I musingly.

"Yea, temperance hath her demands on occasions," said he, thinking I
alluded to the exit of the wine, and not the ominous mark; "for there be
two kinds of this noble virtue, the jejune and the hearty, whereof the
former observes no plethoric gratifications, and the other is not averse
to an extreme of cordial indulgence."

"Disappeared!" said I in a harping way, once again, "and left the skin
discoloured."

"But it was there, and I saw it with these eyes," cried Graeme, "and the
doctor saw it, and Betha, but, thank God, not the mother."

"The vouchsafing of the eyes is an easy task," drawled Rogers. "The
truth of present fact is of the moment of experience as regards the
seer; but, as a moral entity, it never dies. The great Author of nature
has his intention in these mysterious signs. We know only that there are
two kinds of these God's finger-touches--the enduring and the
evanescent. That we have now witnessed was of the latter kind, which we
also call superficial in opposition to the other, which is painted on
the _rete mucosum_, and never goes off. The difference of indications
we know not, further than that a mysterious purpose is served by both.
But might I ask if ever there was any occasion on which the figure of
this card might, as connected with some thrilling incident, have been
impressed upon the imagination of the mother?"

"Never," cried Graeme, as he shook violently.

"Then it betokens fortune to the heir of the Moated Grange," said
Rogers.

"It betokens vengeance!" roared Graeme, no longer able to contain
himself; and he began to pace rapidly the room. Then stopping before
me--

"How long will you torment me with your scepticism? Here, Betha," he
cried to the woman, who at the instant again called Rogers, "what did
you see on the back of the boy?"

"The ten of diamonds, sir," replied she, evidently frightened by the
wild eyes of her master. "But you are not to be feared. Do I not know
God's signs when I see them fresh from his very finger? I have seen them
aforetime; and no man or woman on earth, no, even our minister, will
convince me they are meant for nothing. This bairn will be a rich man,
but it will not be by the devil's books; for he who made the mark does
not tempt to evil by promises printed on the bodies of them he loves."

"I want not this drivelling," said her master, on whom her reading of
the sign had an effect the very opposite of that intended. "You're a
fool, but you have eyes. Say, once for all, you saw it, and will swear.
Take her words, Rymer."

"As clear as I see the mark on your cheek, sir," she said, addressing
me. "It was not from one who loved you so well as your mother did when
she bore you, you got that mark."

"I got it from a villain called Ruggieri," I replied, caring nothing
for the start I produced in Graeme, but keeping my eye on the face of
Rogers.

I will say nothing of what I observed on that long, sombre, saturnine
index. It was an experiment on my part, and I might have found
something, merely because I expected it; nor do I think Graeme knew my
object, though he felt the words as a surprise.

"And who is Ruggieri?" said the doctor, by way of putting a simple
question.

"_Perhaps_ an Italian," said I. "Rogers is, they say, the Scotch
representative of that name."

"It is a lie, sir!" cried the grave son of Aesculapius; but finding he
had committed a mistake, he beat up an apology close upon the heels of
his insult. "I beg your pardon; I simply meant that the two names are
different, and that you were out in your etymology."

"I am satisfied," I replied.

"And so am I," growled the doctor, as he shuffled out, followed by
Betha.

"What the devil do you mean?" said the colonel, coming up, and looking
me sternly in the face. "Is not this business serious enough for me and
this house already, without the mention to that man, who knows nothing
of me or of my history, of a name hateful to both you and me?"

"At present I have no intention of telling you what I meant by
introducing that name in the presence of Rogers."

"More mystery!" said he.

"No mystery--all as plain as little Edith's card she got from Trott, or
the blazon in the wood, or the mark on the child's back. But I do not
wish to dwell longer on a subject which gives you so much pain. I am to
be off in the morning, and I should wish, before I go, to know what is
to be the issue of all this wonderful working."

Graeme had now seated himself; and I resumed my chair also, to wait an
answer, which his manner seemed to indicate might be slow and delicate.
We looked, in the dim light of the room, at two in the morning, like two
wizards trying our skill in working out some scheme of _diablerie_; yet,
in reality, how unlike! For though we had both been gamblers, and
consequently bad men, we had for years renounced the wild ways of an
ill-regulated youth, and settled down to tread, with pleasure to
ourselves and profit to others, the decent paths of virtue.

"I am resolved," said Graeme at length----

"On what?" I inquired.

"On making amends. That money, which by means of the substituted card I
took from Gourlay, sticks like a bone-splint in the red throat of my
penitence. I cannot pray myself, nor join Annabel, nor listen to Edith,
when they send up their supplications to that place where mercy is, and
where, too, vengeance is--vengeance which, in the very form of my
pictured crime, dogs me everywhere, as you have seen, though a
philosophical pride prevents you from giving faith to what you have
seen--vengeance which, though using no earthly instruments, is yet the
stronger, and more terrible to me, for that very circumstance that it
brings up my conscience, and parades its pictured whisperings before my
vision, scorching my brain, and making me mad--vengeance, breaking no
bones, nor lacerating flesh, nor spilling blood, yet going to the heart
of the human organism, among the fine tissues where begin the rudiments
of being, and whence issue the springs of feeling, sympathy, hope, love,
and justice, all of which it poisons, and turns into agonies. Yes, sir,
vengeance which, claiming the assistance of the fairest virtues,
conjugal love and angelic purity, makes them smite with shame, so that
it were even a relief to me that the wife of my bosom were wicked, and
the child of my affections a creature of sin. What are these signs that
haunt me but instigators to redemption? and can I hesitate when Heaven
asks obedience?"

"A useless harangue," said I, "when you have the means of saving
yourself. Pay the money, read your Bible, and the signs will cease."

"You have said it. I will pay the money; but I do not know where the
woman Gourlay lives."

"That is not a difficult matter. Where money is to be paid, the
recipient will start out of the bosom of the earth. I am about sick of
this chamber of mysteries--though no mysteries to me; and I go to bed. I
doubt if you may expect to see me at the breakfast table in the
morning."

"Will you leave me in this condition?" he said, with an imploring eye.

"You will hear from me. Good night."

In the midst of all these supernaturals, I remained myself pretty
natural--got naturally among the comfortable bed-clothes, fell naturally
asleep, and, in consequence of late hours, slept naturally longer than I
intended. I started at seven, got my bag, and, without seeing Graeme,
set out for C---- town, got breakfast, and then took the stage for a
seaport not very far distant. Having arrived at my destination, I sought
out the Eastergate, a dirty street inhabited by poor people, mounted
three pair of stairs till I saw through a slate-pane, knocked at a door,
and was met by a woman, with an umbrageously bearded face peering out
from the side of her head-gear--that is, there was a head there in
addition to her own.

"The devil!" said the man. "How did you find me out?"

"By the trail of evil," I said, as I walked in, and shut the door
behind me.

"Did you not know I was dead?" he continued, by way of desperate
raillery.

"Yes, the devil was once reported to be dead and buried in a certain
long town, but it was only a feint, whereby to catch the unwary Whigs.
Let us have seats. I want a little quiet conversation with you both."

We seemed rather a comfortable party round the fire.

"Ruggieri," said I, "do you know that scar?"

"I have certainly seen it before," replied he, with the utmost
composure.

"Well, you know the attack you made upon me at Brussels, for the
convenient purpose of getting buried along with your victim a certain
little piece of dirty paper I have in my pocket, whereby you became
bound to pay to me a thousand florins which I lent you, on the faith of
one I took for a gentleman."

"The scar I deny," he replied, unblushingly; "and as for the bit of
paper, if you can find any one in these parts who can prove that the
signature thereto was written by this hand belonging to this person now
sitting before you, you will accomplish something more wonderful than
finding me out here." And he laughed in his old boisterous way.

"The more difficult, I daresay," replied I, as I fixed a pretty
inquisitive gaze on him, "that you have a duplicate to your real name of
Charles Rogers."

"'Tis a lie!" he exclaimed. "My father was--was--yes--an artist in
Bologna--the cleverest magician in Italy."

"And that is the reason," said I calmly, "that your brother the doctor
works his tricks so cleverly at the Moated Grange."

Subtle officers accomplish much by attacks of surprise--going home with
a fact known to the criminal to be true, but supposed by him to be
unknown to all the world besides. I had acted on this principle, and the
effect was singular. His tongue, which had laid in a stock of nervous
fluid for roaring like a steam-boiler a little opened, was palsied. He
turned on me a blank look; then, directing his eye to the woman, "You
infernal hag," he exclaimed, "all this comes from you!"

"I deny it," said the woman, as she left his side and came round to
mine. "But I now know, what I always suspected, that you are a villain.
Sir," she continued, "this man, and his brother Dr. Rogers, prevailed
upon me to give them a paper, to enable them to get out of Colonel
Graeme the money he won from my husband. I believe they have got it, and
that they are keeping it from me."

"They have not got it," said I, "and never will. The money is yours, and
will be paid to you, if to any."

"Thank God!" she exclaimed. "No good could come out of the designs of
this man and his brother. They made it up to terrify the colonel"----

A look from the man stopped her; but the broken sentence was to me a
volume. They sat and looked lightnings at each other; and I contented
myself with thinking, that when a rotten tree splits, bears catch honey.

"Oh, I'm not to be frightened," she continued, as she gathered up
courage to dare the villain. "I will tell all about the ten of diamonds
which I heard made up between them."

"You most haggard of all haggard hags!" cried the man, as his fury rose,
"do you know, that while I could have got you this money, I can cut you
out of it? Was it the loss of the money, think ye, that made the
wretched coward, your husband, shoot himself? No, it was conscience.
They were a pair of villains. I know that Gourlay had a secreted card,
whereby he was to blackleg Graeme, and that it was disappointment,
shame, and conscience, working all together, that made him draw the
trigger to end a villanous life. But the game is up," he continued, as
he rose and got hold of his hat; then standing erect and fearless, he
held out his finger, pointing to me--"Rymer!" he said impressively, but
with devilish calmness, "let your ears tingle as you think of me; it
will keep you in remembrance of a friend, who, when next he meets you,
will embrace you _cordially_--about the heart, you know. Good night!"

"And well gone," said the woman, as she heard the door slammed with a
noise that shook the crazy tenement. "Oh! I am so happy you have come to
relieve me of an engagement which I was ashamed of, and which would have
yielded me nothing; for their object was to force money out of your
friend, and then divide it between them."

"How did Rogers or Ruggieri find you out?" inquired I.

"I cannot tell; the nose of a bloodhound has a finer sense than a
sheep-dog's."

"And how did you come to know of the compact between the brothers?"

"They got unwary under wine drunk at that fir table. The doctor was the
medical attendant of Colonel Graeme, and this gave him means of working
upon his conscience; and I know they have been at this work for a time."

"But how did Ruggieri come to know about the ten of diamonds?"

"Oh, the card was found crumpled up under the table by Ruggieri
himself, who, with you, was present at the play. He has the card at this
moment. I have seen it. But this is the first time I ever heard of
Gourlay's intention to cheat. I will never believe that; but then I am
his widow, and may be too favourable to him, while Ruggieri was his
enemy, and may be too vindictive."

"And how was the colonel to be applied to, after his conscience was
wrought up to pay?"

"The doctor was to open the subject, and undertake to negotiate with me,
to whom he was to hand over the money--one penny of which I never would
have received."

"The matter is now in better hands," said I. "Will you be staunch and
firm in detailing all you know of the scheme?"

"Yes, though I should not receive a farthing."

"And you will be willing to go to the Moated Grange, and, if necessary,
swear to those things?"

"I will; and, sir, serious though the whole affair has been to me--for I
am poor, and have children--I sometimes wondered, if I did not laugh, at
the queer, far-brought, devilish designs of the doctor. Oh, he is a very
dragon that for cunning! I heard him say he would impress a painted
piece of paper on the child's back, so as to leave a mark, and swear it
was a mother's mark, graven by the hands of the Almighty. Oh the
blasphemy and wickedness of man!"

"Go, dress yourself," said I, "and come with me to the Grange."

"I will, if you can give me some minutes to get a neighbour to take
charge of George and Anne." And away she went to get this family
arrangement completed, while I sat panting with desire to free my friend
from the agony of his condition.

It was about seven o'clock of that same evening that Mrs. Gourlay and I
reached the Moated Grange. I got her shown into an ante-room, to wait
the issue of my interview with Graeme. It happened that the doctor and
he were together, and it even seemed as if they were converging towards
a medium state of confidence. I could observe from the looks of the
victim that he had been so far at least drawn into a recital of facts
(the nature of which it was not difficult for me to conjecture), for I
heard the word Gourlay fall from his lips, as the last of a sentence
which my entry had cut short. Indeed, I may as well state here that
Graeme afterwards admitted to me that when I entered he was in the midst
of a confession of the whole secret of the false play, to which
confession he had been first driven by his internal monitor; and
secondly, led or rather pulled on by the arch-ambidexter, whose game it
was to cheat the cheater, and get the money from him upon some pretence
of seeking out Mrs. Gourlay and paying the money to her. I was, in
short, in the very nick of time, and could hardly help smiling at the
strange part I was playing in what was, as I thought, one of those
serious melodramatic farces of which (in the Frenchman's sense) this
strange world of laughter and groans is made up.

"Dr. Rogers," said I, after the customary greetings, "it is well I have
found you. I picked up a poor woman by the way who lay under the seizure
of premature labour, and knowing the generosity of my friend, I brought
her here for succour and relief. She is in the green parlour, and, I
fear, in exigency. Come."

"May I see her?" said Graeme.

"Certainly, for a moment," said Rogers. "Ah! I rejoice at these
opportunities of employing the beneficence of our profession. Who knows
but I may bring into the world one who will change the aspect of a
hemisphere, and work out some great blessings to the human race!"

And following me, they arrived at the door of the green parlour. I
opened it. Rogers walked forward, Graeme followed, and I stood in the
midst of the three.

"Dr. Rogers--Mrs. Gourlay, an intimate friend of your brother, Signor
Ruggieri."

"Colonel Graeme--Mrs. Gourlay, the widow of that unfortunate man,
Ebenezer Gourlay."

To which Mrs. Gourlay responded by a curtsey, deep and respectful.

"I am master for the nonce. The door is locked, and Mrs. Gourlay must be
delivered of her child with the naevus of the ten of diamonds on its
back."

And she was delivered, but not with the assistance of the doctor. She
performed her part well. By a little drawing out, on my part, I got her
to tell her story; how she had got acquainted with the two brothers; how
they had laid their plans; how she came to know of the crumpled card,
and the use they were to make of it; the trick of the impression on the
child's back; the forcing of the money from the colonel on the pretence
of paying it to her, with her conviction that she would never handle a
penny of it.

During the period of this extraordinary recital, it was my part to watch
the countenances of the two listeners. Graeme sat as if bound to his
chair; every word of the woman seemed to work as a charm upon him,
relieving him of the conviction he had been impressed with, that he was
specially under the judgment of Heaven, without depriving him of the
consolation of a late penitence. Sometimes I caught his eye, and, I
fairly admit, I was wicked enough to indulge in a little mute
risibility to give him confidence in the conclusions he was fast drawing
from the somewhat garrulous narrative of the poor widow.

As for the doctor, he held out like a Milo. From the first moment he saw
the woman he knew that the game was up with him, but he knew also, what
all hardened sinners know, that they owe it to the cacodaimon they obey,
to deny everything to the last, as if they were afraid to show any
indication of what they consider the weakness of being good. We allowed
him to get quit upon the condition of silence on his part, for a prudent
forbearance on ours.

Mrs. Gourlay remained at the Grange for some time, whereby we had an
opportunity of further ascertaining all the details of the machination.
A sum of money was given to her, and Graeme's conscience was relieved,
as well by this retribution as by a conviction to which we both came,
that the game between him and Gourlay was rendered at least equal by the
fact which we had both reason to believe, as stated by Ruggieri, that
Gourlay himself intended to cheat, and that his death could be more
easily accounted for on that theory than on any other.

So far as peace could be brought to one truly penitent, that peace was
brought; and many a time since I have admired, in the happiness of the
family at the Grange, that exemplification of the promise of our blessed
faith, that there is no degree of guilt which may not be atoned for by
the heart that is contrite, and trusts to the mercy of Heaven through
the eternally-ordained source.

I may gratify a whim by informing the readers of the Border Tales that
the secret of the mark on the child's back was never communicated to
Mrs. Graeme. The nurse had told her of the fact of the strange
phenomenon, and she always clung to the belief that it was an omen of
good fortune to the boy. But under what mysterious conditions is the
chain of cause and effect kept up! The frequent allusion made by the
mother to the fact of the mark, drew her son's attention to the cards.
He early became fond of playing with them, as boys do. The early feeling
germinated, and became a kind of passion, and I have reason to believe
he became a gambler like his father, squandering away a great part of
his patrimony.


END OF VOL. XXII.





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