Infomotions, Inc.—and the Stormy Life of His Grandfather, Captain Williams or, The Earle's Victims: with an Account of the Terrible End of the Proud Earl De Montford, the Lamentable Fate of the Victim of His Passion, and the Shadow's Punishment / Aconite, Tobias

Author: Aconite, Tobias
Title: —and the Stormy Life of His Grandfather, Captain Williams or, The Earle's Victims: with an Account of the Terrible End of the Proud Earl De Montford, the Lamentable Fate of the Victim of His Passion, and the Shadow's Punishment
Date: 2005-06-23
Contributor(s): Dodge, Mary Mapes, 1831-1905 [Editor]
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Title: Edward Barnett; a Neglected Child of South Carolina, Who Rose to Be a Peer of Great Britain,--and the Stormy Life of His Grandfather, Captain Williams
       or, The Earle's Victims: with an Account of the Terrible End of the Proud Earl De Montford, the Lamentable Fate of the Victim of His Passion, and the Shadow's Punishment


Author: Tobias Aconite



Release Date: June 23, 2005  [eBook #16112]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


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OF SOUTH CAROLINA, WHO ROSE TO BE A PEER OF GREAT BRITAIN,--AND THE STORMY
LIFE OF HIS GRANDFATHER, CAPTAIN WILLIAMS***


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A Narrative of Startling Interest!!

EDWARD BARNETT,
A NEGLECTED CHILD OF SOUTH CAROLINA, WHO ROSE TO BE A PEER OF GREAT
BRITAIN,--AND THE STORMY LIFE OF HIS GRANDFATHER, CAPTAIN WILLIAMS,

Or

The Earl's Victims:
with an Account of the Terrible End of the Proud Earl De Montford, the
Lamentable Fate of the Victim of His Passion,

And

The Shadow's Punishment,

'Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction.'

by

TOBIAS ACONITE,

The Mayor of Hole cum Corner.

1855







THE EARL'S VICTIMS.




CHAPTER I.

THE STEWARD.


Earl de Montford sat in a plainly furnished room in his stately mansion.
Gorgeously decorated as were the other apartments of his princely
residence, this apartment, with its plain business-look--its hard
benches for such of the tenantry as came to him or his agent on
business--its walls garnished with abstracts of the Game and Poor Law
Enactments--its worn old chairs and heavy oak presses, the open doors of
some of which disclosed bundles of old papers, parchments, etc.--this
little room, the only one almost ever seen by any save the aristocracy
and their followers--exercised and contained frequently more of human
hope and fear than any other or the whole of the others of this
sumptuous edifice. Here the toil-worn farmer came to pay his dues to the
Lord of the Manor--here often too with beating heart and quivering lip,
the old servant of the soil came to beg for time--time to enable him by
hard pinching to make up his proportion of the sum spent in luxury by
his landlord. Ah! reader! could those old walls reveal the sounds, the
tales of human suffering, of heartless avarice, and callous
indifference--of sneering assumption and hopeless woe, thy brain would
be as fire, thy heart would sicken, and thy blood would boil, till
rushing over every prudent thought, through grinding teeth and
passion-paling lips would start, the one wild word, Revenge!

I have said the room was plainly furnished, but there was one
exception--the chair in which the Earl sat. This was an old one,
formerly the chair of state in which the old Barons his ancestors had
presided at many a scene of wassail, with their retainers. It had been
stuffed and new-covered to suit modern luxury, but the armorial bearings
remained still carved in the wood of the high back, with the proud
motto, "Nulli Secundi," second to none.

The Earl was not alone. His agent, a hard-featured man of business, sat
at a desk, busy with papers, and a venerable old man, who had been his
father's steward, stood a little behind his chair. There was a frown on
the brow of the nobleman, as after a stern glance at the old man, he
asked,

'Has that scoundrel been apprehended yet?'

'He has not, your lordship,' said the agent, slowly folding up a
document; 'nor does it seem likely he will be. I have had the old haunts
searched--I have, as you directed, promised large rewards for his
apprehension, and threatened the tenants if they harbor him, but no clue
to his hiding-place has yet been discovered. I am afraid he has left.'

'He has not,' interrupted the Earl. 'He is here, in this neighbourhood.
I feel his hated presence. He must have harborers, Johnson. The parvenu
millionaire--the cotton lord--harbors these ruffians by refusing to
prosecute poachers. He preaches equal rights, forsooth! Break down his
fences--send my deer to stray into his park--get some one to fire his
barns--I will pay them. He has thwarted me, and he shall feel the agony
of a long and fluctuating law-suit. Oh! for one day of my Norman
ancestors! I would sweep such vermin from the earth. Waters!' said he,
turning to the steward, 'beware! I have, from respect to my father's
memory, somewhat restrained myself towards you. You have pleaded this
man's cause. Say no more. He has threatened me--dared to use reproaches
and threats to a peer of the realm--he shall be crushed as a noxious
reptile!'

'My lord,' said the old man firmly, 'I was your father's steward--I was
your grandfather's foster-brother and playmate--man and boy, I have been
in the service of your family for over seventy years, and for the love
of your house have I withstood you in wrong-doing--I beseech you again,
let this man go. You well know he is an injured man. Add not more to
that final account which you as well as I must one day render before
God.'

'Palter such trash to coward fools!--I want none of your priestcraft,'
returned the nobleman. 'Do I not know the reason of all this affected
love for justice and mercy. Your grand-daughter was to have married this
midnight robber--they were betrothed, or some such trash. Find
him--doubtless _she_ knows how--let them marry--such a son-in-law will
be an honor to your family, and a comfort to your declining years.'

'Your insinuations and your sneers fall as harmless upon me as your
threats,' said the steward with dignity. 'I am eighty-nine, and shall
soon be beyond them: but when you brand with undeserved infamy one who
never injured you--when you accuse my innocent grandchild of being
privy to the concealment of a midnight robber, as you but now called the
unhappy man whom your ill-usage, whom your misdeeds drove from a happy
home and honorable course of life, you commit an action, only equalled
in its baseness, by its cowardice!'

The Earl started up, purple with rage. For a moment, he seemed about to
strike the aged form before him. He paused, however, and stood regarding
him with clenched hands and furious look, and every evil passion glaring
from his eyes. The steward moved not one inch, but confronted him in the
majesty of venerable age.

The agent paused not for one moment in his task, but quietly labelling
and tying up a pile of documents, placed it in its proper pigeon hole,
and went on with methodical exactness to the next. They were a strange
group. The man of business in his chair, pursuing his work as if no
other were present, but observing all that took place nevertheless; the
nobleman in the prime of glorious manhood, noble, as far as physical
beauty could go; handsome, rich, accomplished, intellectual, but
distorted as that face was now, in his rage, ugly, hideous in the
extreme as he gazed upon the calm face slightly flushed with virtuous
indignation, the spare form and silver locks of the aged man who dared
to stand between him and the victims of his wrath.

Gradually the face of the nobleman became calmer, one by one the lines
of passion disappeared and an expression of cold sarcasm took possession
of his features; he threw himself into his chair and turned to the
agent.

'Mr. Lambert, be pleased to pay particular attention to my orders, that
is if your nerves are not too much discomposed by the exciting piece of
eloquence Mr. Waters has just favored us with for my especial benefit.
Gad! Waters, you'd do the heavy fathers finely on the stage. I'll write
to Davidge for you, that last speech of yours was capital; couldn't you
favor us with a finishing touch, we are all attention.' The agent placed
his papers on the table, and wheeling his chair round, sat in imitation
of his master as if in expectation of hearing some rich joke.

The single word 'God!' escaped the steward as he turned to leave the
room; he gave one glance around as if for the last time looking on those
familiar objects, cast a sorrowful glance at his master, and was about
to quit, when his eye was arrested by a picture; it was that of frank
and noble boy in the pride of youth and beauty, his face ruddy with
exercise, his eye bright with intellect. It was a portrait of the Earl
when a boy.

He turned towards them once more.

'My lord,' said he, 'I pass by your harsh speeches of me and mine. It
may be I spoke too rudely myself. I will dwell no longer on the past, it
is irrevocable; of my broken-hearted grandchild; of her young love,
which was twined too strong around her heart, for one to perish without
the other; of my own head grey in your service I will never more
speak--but oh! for the love that bright boy once bore me, here on my
knees, I entreat you, spare this man, who once was your playmate, spare
him as you would be spared yourself; for let not your proud heart
deceive you, not all your array of domestics, not all your barred doors,
can save you from a violent death, or the guilt of murder, if you do not
stop this unrighteous prosecution--for your own sake I entreat you stop,
ere it be too late. Spurn this grey head if you will into the dust, but
listen and spare.'

The Earl was unmoved as marble.

The old man left with bent head and slow step. 'Lambert, you will issue
a notice, offering L500 to any one who captures Horace Hunter, dead or
alive--also on pain of expulsion from the property, forbid any one
harboring him; send for two London officers. These country bumpkins will
never find him. Enquire for a dissolute fellow, known by the name of
Curly Tom--pay him well: he perhaps may track him, in short, find this
man and punishment to death shall follow.'

'It shall on you!' said a loud voice, apparently near them.

The Earl sprang to the window, and jumped out, the agent trembling
remained, not a living being was in sight--the window opened upon a
smooth lawn, there was not a chance of a person escaping notice, but no
one was there; he summoned the domestics; they searched--no one was
found, they had seen no one. Frantic with rage, yet with an ill-defined
sensation of fear, the nobleman, re-entered the mansion, and dismissing
every one, locked himself in an inner chamber.

The agent waited until his master was gone; then seated himself in the
chair of state, and mused. 'Let me see! L500, too much to slip from my
hands. I will find this Curly Tom myself--I think I know him--and if I
can but keep him sober--and promise him a good carouse when Hunter's
caught, he will entrap him--for these scoundrels all know how to find
one another--L500, too much for any of these bumpkins constables, no,
no, I must have it--there is danger though--I must think over it--that
voice was queer, where could it come from--could any one be in the
presses?' After screwing up his courage to the task, he opened them
fearfully one by one; there was nothing there but the old papers before
mentioned. He stooped and stood leaning against the mantelpiece, over
which was the Earl's picture--then puzzled, but determined on his course
of action, he left the room and took his way to the village. He was not
far from the house, when a servant called to him. 'You have a paper on
your back, Mr. Lambert,' said he. He took his coat off; on the back,
fastened with a pin, was a paper, with the single word, doomed, written
upon it. The man of business was puzzled; he was not altogether a
coward, but this was not a business proceeding; he said nothing,
however, but methodically folded it up, placed it in his pocket book,
and proceeded.




CHAPTER II.

THE VILLAGE ALE-HOUSE.


Railroads were unknown in the times in which our story occurred, and the
village ale-house was still the rendezvous of the villagers of an
evening; the parson still occasionally looked in and smoked his pipe
with the lawyer, the exciseman, the sexton, and the parish-clerk; while
the sturdy farmers, the smith, the butcher, and baker formed another
circle; while the laborers and ploughmen, the butcher-boy and the
tailor's apprentice lounged in to drink with greedy ears the news; to
listen to the wise saws of the village politicians, and become in due
time convinced that by some strange freak of fortune the only persons
incompetent to rule the country were those in power at the time. Mrs.
Alice Goodfellow, the landlady and proprietress of this village elysium,
fair, fat, and forty, was a buxom widow, shrewd, good-humored and fond
of pleasure, but careful withal and fond of admiration. She never,
however, allowed any one of her admirers, to suppose himself more
favored than the rest; neither did she suffer any of them to languish in
despair. If she allowed the smith to hand her to her pew in church on
Sunday, she, nevertheless, smiled sweetly on the baker; and if she took
a drive in Farmer Dobson's pony-chaise for her health, yet, Farmer
Thomas would sit for hours inside her bar; the truth was, the good widow
was perfectly well aware that her snug little free-hold and thriving
little trade were quite as great objects of attraction as her delectable
self, and acting on the same principle as that old humbug 'Elizabeth,'
insanely called 'the good Queen Bess,' viz: the balancing opposite
interests, she drew custom to her house and grist to her mill, without
troubling herself as to selection from her numerous admirers, which,
besides displeasing the others, would place another in authority over
that bar, which, for the last ten years, she had ruled monarch of all
she surveyed. She had no relative, save one nephew, a wild, shy boy,
strange and moody in his habits, passing whole days no one knew
where--holding little or no communication with any of those who visited
the tavern--none at all with the boys of the village, poring over some
book of wild adventure when at home, ranging the woods with an old duck
gun on his shoulders, or laying down beneath some shady tree poring over
the same wild legends when abroad. His aunt could make nothing of him,
and nobody else took the trouble. The curate, indeed, tried to teach him
once or twice, but he disconcerted the old man so by discharging his
musket at an old wig, hanging by the wall in the midst of a lecture on
the propriety of going to school, that he gave him up as hopeless.

The tap-room presented its usual evening appearance when the agent
entered. The curate and lawyer were deep in a discussion on the beauties
of the new poor-law; the farmers grumbling at the weather; the landlady
quietly seated behind the bar, while the bar-maid, a smart, coquettish
girl of nineteen, carried the ale and brandy around to the thirsty
customers, and all the usual concomitants of a scene then common, but,
what we must now call of the olden time, though half a century has
scarce passed away since it occurred. The agent was a great man there,
few liked him--in fact, all hated him, for though generally a just man,
he was entirely a man of business; punctuality was his deity--there was
no excuse with him for not meeting rent or bills when due; he did not
overcharge or wrong anyone, but he must have his bond, like Shylock,
without his ferocity. If money was due it must be paid; sickness, bad
crops, death itself was nothing to him; if not, he proceeded _legally_;
oh, what a world of anguish! what a number of crimes, crying aloud to
Heaven for justice and retribution, are committed under the cloak of
Man's legality. The type was forged in Hell that stamped the letter of
the law.

The agent, after exchanging courtesies, lip-deep, with the principal
farmers, the curate, etc., walked up to the bar and entered into
conversation with Mrs. Ally, as she was usually called.

'His lordship has desired me, Mrs. Ally, to put this notice up in a
conspicuous place in your tavern, perhaps you will oblige me by placing
it in a proper position.' So saying, he handed her the paper containing
the reward, etc., offered for the apprehension of Hunter.

'You may stick it up yourself on the parish pump, Mr. Lambert, if you
like, but my bar is no station-house or cage; give it to the town
crier,' said the dame bristling, for she hated the agent, and feared him
not.

'Dang my buttons!' said a burly farmer, 'Mrs. Ally ha the agent
dumbfoundered--what be the matter?'

'It is simply this, good friends,' said the agent: 'his lordship has
offered a reward of L500;--L500,' said the agent, slowly repeating the
sum, 'for the apprehension of the notorious poacher, Horace Hunter, who
has threatened his life, and will visit with his gravest displeasure any
one who harbors him, or in any way countenances him; if a tenant he
shall be discharged; and Mrs. Ally here, refuses to let me place the
notice in her bar, thereby showing great disregard for my lord's wishes,
to say the least.'

The farmers mostly shrunk back on this speech; the name of a lord, and
that lord their landlord, appalled them. They knew the bitter wrong he
had heaped upon Hunter's devoted head; they well could sympathize with
him; they had known him a gay and thriving farmer, their lord's especial
favorite--fatal favor--the companionship of the tiger and the deer. The
beauty of Hunter's sister had struck the libidinous eye of the
aristocratic villain--need I say more? ruin and desolation followed--no
one knew what had become of her. The brother had been kidnapped by a
press-gang, but of course the Earl knew nothing of that; he was now,
however, supposed to be lurking in the neighborhood. The Earl had
received a letter in which the brother's heart had been poured out in
bitterness; he had injured, therefore he could not forgive. Not so,
however, Mrs. Alice; she did not fear the lord one jot, and folks did
say, she knew more about him than he would like told; be that as it may,
she loudly protested against its being placed there at all; and was
still indignantly haranguing; now crying shame upon his lordship; now
bewailing poor Ellen, who had been a great favorite of hers, when her
eccentric nephew entered; he looked dusty and fatigued, but there was a
strange smile upon his lips as he looked at the agent. Without saying a
word he walked straight up to the agent, and taking the paper from his
hand procured a hammer and some tacks and nailed it up in the most
conspicuous place in the bar, displacing some of his aunt's ornaments in
so doing; then drinking a mug of ale, he threw himself along a bench and
was or seemed to be sound asleep.

'Dash ma wig,' said the farmer, who had before spoken, 'that dangs all,
the boy be daft and Mrs. Ally doant say nuthen--he be queer for
sartain.'

Mrs. Ally said not a word, but gazed on her nephew with mute
astonishment; she did not, however, attempt to remove the obnoxious
paper. The agent having in this unexpected manner gained his point,
called for wine and sat down with the curate, lawyer, etc. He had yet
another object--to find Curly Tom, no easy matter, that worthy being by
no means a welcome guest there; that he did come there sometimes,
however, Lambert knew, for as long as no warrant was out against him,
however bad his character, he could not be turned away from the inn when
he paid his shot; he did not like openly to ask for such a character,
but sat down trusting that when the ale made the farmers loquacious he
should gain some clue to his whereabouts. Fortune seemed destined to be
his friend in more than one way that evening. The sound of a pistol shot
was heard in the road leading towards the seaport, which was some ten
miles distant; and a few moments after, a burly seafaring man entered
the tap-room, dragging after him, in his powerful grasp, a ruffianly
ill-looking countryman; no other indeed than the man of all others
Lambert wished most to see, viz: Curly Tom.

'Cast your anchor there,' said the seaman, 'and if you attempt to slip
moorings, afore you've been over-hauled by the skipper, split my
topsails but I'll bring you up all standing with this barking iron,'
pressing the muzzle of a pistol to the fellow's forehead.

'Put up your pistol,' said the fellow sullenly. 'I beant going to run;
you've broke my head and dinged all the wind oot of ma body.'

'What is the matter, my good man?' said Mr. Lambert, coming forward. 'I
am a magistrate, and can take your deposition.'

'Matter!' said the sailor, 'piracy is the matter. I was making for this
ere port, charged with despatches from my commanding officer, when this
ere shark ranges alongside and pops his barking iron into my face, and
wants me to break cargo and hand over to him, but I brought my harpoon
handle to bear on his figure head and he capsized, and his barker got
foul of his rigging, then I roused him up and brought him along to this
port.'

'Highway robbery and attempt at murder,' said the agent. 'Simpkins, you
are constable, take this man in charge, while I make out his committal.
Stay!' he added, 'the cage is very insecure, and this is no trifling
case. You had better take him up to the castle, my lord will examine him
in the morning, and there is a strong room there; meantime, Mrs. Ally
will perhaps see to his wound, it looks an ugly one.'

The kind hearted landlady readily undertook this latter office, even for
so repulsive a being; his head had indeed received a terrific blow, a
fur cap had somewhat deadened the force or he must have been killed on
the spot; she bound his head up, and in charge of the constable and two
stout laborers he was marched up to the castle. The agent after warning
the mariner to attend in the morning at his examination, going with
them, well pleased, not only to have found the man he sought, but also
to have him in such a situation that he could only choose between doing
his bidding or the gallows. The boy, had never stirred from his sleep
during this scene. The company at the ale house also broke up, and each
wended his way home, where, no doubt, each in his own way, regaled his
family with the marvels of the evening, and the seaman alone remained,
eating his supper as coolly as though nothing had happened, a combat of
life and death seeming to him a thing too common to excite any emotion
in his breast. Had it been daylight it is not likely he would have been
attacked by one man; few that gazed upon his square muscular form, his
brawny chest and strong hard hands, would have liked to cope with him in
personal conflict, though his iron grey beard told that more than fifty
years of storm had rolled over his head. His face had been handsome,
scarred with storm and conflict, it still bore the impress of manly
beauty, and there was a look of settled determination, upon it, that
told was indeed,

'In close fight a warrior grim,'

and traces of fierce passion also showed him to be one whom no one would
like for an enemy. His dress was finer than an ordinary seaman's, and
though perfectly nautical, was free from any stain of tar or pitch,
generally considered absolutely necessary in a sailor's attire. The boy
gazed intently on him as he took his meal, closing his eyes however
whenever the sailor looked at him, and preserving the appearance of
slumber.

Mrs. Ally waited with becoming patience while her guest ate his fill and
then approaching him with a brimming tumbler of punch said, 'Drink to
the memory of old times, Walter.'

'You know me then!' said he, 'strange that but one eye alone of those
who knew me in my boyhood should recognize me, but sea and storm do much
to alter a man, human passion does more.' (He spoke now without any of
the sea jargon that had made his account of the encounter with Curly Tom
almost unintelligible to the farmers); 'but,' he added, 'you had better
send this lad to bed.'

'You need not,' said the boy, rising as he spoke, 'I remembered you
instantly. I will not betray you if you wish to remain unknown.'

'You may safely trust him,' said his aunt, 'he never breaks his word.'

'A good sign that,' said the seaman, 'and a bold boy I warrant, he is
well grown too for his years, and like--'

'Like who?' asked aunt and nephew in one breath.

'Like one I never wish to speak of,' was the answer, 'let be, let be, I
have much to ask you; first of my father, does he live?'

'He does, bowed down by age and now by sorrow, Walter. When you and I
were younger--years ago--when my sister, who is now an angel in heaven,
I hope, married you, I never thought the day would come when my lips
should be the ones to tell you of the desolation of your child.'

Walter recoiled, and rising from his seat grasped the back of the chair
he had been seated on with such a nervous gripe that the strong oak rail
broke in two with the pressure, and his heaving chest and quivering lip
told the fierce emotions that were struggling for utterance.--The
landlady understood his look.

'Do not fear, Walter--your child is as pure as an angel. It is the
desolation of her heart I speak of--not the pollution. It is the blight
that has fallen upon her young love--upon a woman's first and holiest
impressions--a virtuous love for a deserving object. Are you calm enough
to hear the tale?'

'I am--proceed.'

'My tale will not be a long one, but sad--sad for more than one victim
has and will fall yet to the fell passions of him, who rules this
neighborhood with a rod of iron. You remember Geoffry Hunter, of the
Toll gate farm?'

'Well; he and I were schoolmates.'

'He died some few years after you went on that voyage from which no one
ever expected to see you return--I for one. Though remembering your
daring courage and hardihood, I did not credit the tale that was brought
here that you had perished in the woods attempting to escape. I felt
confident you would one day return--as you did ten years ago, and
brought this boy with you. Geoffry Hunter left two children. You knew
them--Horace and Ellen. Poor Ellen! victim of a titled villain!' and the
good woman paused, and tears filled her eyes. It was some moments ere
she could proceed. 'Horace grew up a fine young-man. As a boy he was a
playmate of our proud master; and when Ellen returned from Canterbury,
where she had been educated by an aunt, she was the pride of the
village, the joy of her widowed mother's heart, and the apple of her
brother's eye. It was a beautiful thing to see, Walter, the strong love
of those two--the exultant pride of the brother in his sister's
loveliness--in her accomplishments, for she knew many things our country
folks were unacquainted with. The deep affection of the sister--oh, it
was a happy and a handsome picture, that mother, sister and brother. She
took more pleasure in the society of your daughter than in any other of
the village girls, and they were much together. Ellen taught her what
she had learned, and thus it came about that her brother first noticed
and finally loved her. And she loved him in return. A handsomer or more
fitting pair never trod the sod together. You would have approved the
match. Your father gave his consent--he had long mourned you as
dead--and they were to have been married when she became 20 years of
age. It yet wanted two years of this time when our lord returned from
abroad. He soon visited the house of his old playfellow, and was struck
with the beauty of Ellen Hunter--but he too well knew the character of
Horace Hunter to openly show it. The first step he took was to dismiss
your father from the stewardship, under pretence of his being too old,
and settling a pension on him. He did not wish the good old man near
him--it was a living reproach on his bad deeds.'

'On the infamous practices of his race,' said the seaman sternly; 'bad
father and bad son--but proceed.'

'He installed this man Lambert in your father's place--a cold, unfeeling
man--a money-worshiper, and suspected of being only too willing an
instrument in furthering his master's infamous designs. Lambert
sedulously cultivated an intimacy with the Hunters--condoled with the
mother, ingratiated himself with the young man, and affected unbounded
friendship. Ellen, however, with the true instinct of a pure and
innocent girl, shrank from his companionship; innocence will ever shrink
with innate consciousness from baseness. He persuaded Hunter to rent a
farm in addition to his own, and lent him money to speculate largely in
breeding fancy sheep. The speculation failed--the agent pressed for
payment. His master came forward and paid the amount. Thus he appeared
as a benefactor, and Ellen's gratitude soon ripened into love; but her
brother was in the way. He went to Erith to make some purchases for his
mother and sister, and was kidnapped by a press-gang. Lambert had been
there a few days before.'

'Ah, I understand,' said the seaman--'too plain. Fire them--what right
have they to seize a free man as if he were a negro slave?'

'It's a shame,' said Mrs. Ally, 'but good King George--'

'Imbecile old ass,' said the mariner--'go on with your story.'

'The mother grieved for her son's absence--he wrote from the tender ship
asking for his clothes, and to buy off his discharge. She applied to the
Earl. He deceived her--gave her hope--promised to write to the
Admiralty--was sorry, but the necessities of the war were such,
substitutes were not allowed, and a discharge could not be granted.
Within a year the mother died, and Ellen was left alone. Beautiful,
helpless, with no one to protect her, was it a wonder she fell a victim
to the vile plot laid for her? Her seducer wearied of her after two
years, and offered to settle a pension upon her and wed her to his base
instrument Lambert. She spurned the offer, and left the cottage where he
had established her in splendid infamy. None knew whither she went, and
no tidings have since been heard of her.'

The seaman was pacing the floor in stern and gloomy silence. He paused.
'And him?--what became of him?'

'He came back three years after,' said the landlady, 'in sailor's garb,
but without a seaman's manner. He had learned dissipation, and was
gloomy and fierce. He had heard of his sister's shame, and he swore a
terrible revenge. The Earl was in London at the time, but had he been
here, Horace would have attempted nothing then. "I will not strike him
now," said he--"no! that were a poor revenge. I will tame his pride
first--then destroy him. Mine shall be no vulgar vengeance."--He however
wrote a passionate letter to the Earl demanding his acknowledgment of
his sister as his lawful wife, and threatening terrible vengeance. This
was idle, but I suppose it merely done to cover deeper designs. He
returned to sea--was absent two more years, but re-appeared here some
three months ago, since when he has been frequently seen about the
neighborhood, and is supposed to subsist by poaching. Curly Tom, the
ruffian you captured last night, has been much with him. He has again
written to the Earl something which has made him furious--so your father
told me, who had been there, the good old man, trying to make him forego
his pursuit of poor Horace. There will be something terrible, I am sure.
God help us, and avert it.'

'Say rather, let his righteous judgments fall upon that base man and his
infamous house,' said the mariner sternly. 'You need tell me no more. I
can picture my sweet child, pining, grieving over the lost character of
him she loved--two families of victims. But shall not vengeance take its
course? It shall--terrible and full. But a short space of time shall
elapse ere he shall be stripped of rank and title, and then--'

'Walter, you rave.'

'I speak in earnest. I never threaten in vain. But I must act now. I
must find Hunter. How to do that--'

'I will take you to him,' said the boy, 'to-morrow evening.'

'Good. I must have some talk with you, but now I must rest. To-morrow
night I shall have none.'

So saying, the burly seaman, preceded by the landlady, retired to his
chamber. The house was soon in quiet, but the boy sat long by the
decaying embers of the fire, musing over the words "he shall be stripped
of his rank and titles"--then took from his vest a small gold locket. It
contained a lock of hair--two persons' hair entwined together, dark and
fair--but it bore the impress of a coronet, and the proud motto, "Nulli
Secundi."




CHAPTER III.

THE AGENT.


Great was the concourse that thronged the room to which we first
introduced our reader, on the morning after the events we have
detailed--the weather-beaten mariner was there to state his charge--the
parish clerk with more than usual importance was ready to act as
secretary--the lawyer, the curate, all prepared to play their part in
the approaching drama of real life. The Earl in his magisterial
seat--bitter mockery of justice--prepared to sit in judgment on a wretch
not half so guilty as himself. But he belonged to a privileged
class--the other was one of the "lower orders."

The entrance of Mr. Simpkins the constable, with rueful countenance and
faltering voice, with the intelligence that the prisoner had escaped,
created a great sensation. No one was more indignant than the
Earl--though how far this was real may be judged when we inform the
reader that Lambert had held a long conversation with the prisoner,
Simpkins and his two assistants being first treated to a powerful opiate
in a mug of ale. This conversation had resulted in Curly Tom's
departing--a pensioned tool, a hired slave, to do the will, even to
murder, of his titled employer--he had no choice save the gallows. The
constable was severely reprimanded, a reward offered for the
apprehension of the fugitive--the seaman's deposition taken in due form,
and all the forms of law gone through with as if it had indeed been a
court of justice. The seaman treated the affair lightly, laughed and
joked with the farmers, and the crowd began to disperse, when a burst of
musical laughter, bitter mocking in its tones, was heard in the
apartment. It came from no one there. All stood aghast. Many a
stout-hearted countryman who would have faced a cannon without
shrinking, trembled and turned pale. The women shrieked; the nobleman
started up.

'Let no one quit the apartment,' said he. 'Search the walls--there must
be some secret panel there.' It was done, but not a trace, not a knob
was visible; all sounded hard and solid.

'You have a shipmate with you, my lord,' said the mariner, 'whose name
is not upon the ship's books. I have heard of such things at sea.'

'And what might your wisdom suppose them to be?' said the Earl, with a
sneer.

'It is hard for man to tell,' said the seaman, who had not been the
slightest discomposed by the voice. 'He who made the ocean and the dry
land alone knows; but a conscience void of offence is the sheet anchor
for man to rely upon in the voyage of life. I never knew such a thing to
happen save to a wicked man.'

'Ha,' said the Earl sarcastically, 'a moralizing tar-bucket. Truly, this
age is prolific in wonders. The march of intellect is abroad with a
vengeance. But since these good people have been disappointed of their
expected morning's amusement, perhaps you will favor them and myself
with this yarn, I think they call it; and Lambert, order some ale to be
served round, and let them bring a cup of brandy for our maritime friend
here; he must wet his whistle, I suppose, or he will never be able to
spin a yarn in true, orthodox, sailor fashion. Sit down, friend, and
begin.'

'I drink when I am dry, my lord,' said the seaman, 'and I prefer
standing to casting anchor here.'

'Have it your own way, then, but proceed, we are all attention.'

'I had shipped as mate on board a vessel bound from Valparaiso to
Virginia, some years ago, when, getting short of provisions, we put into
Lima, on the coast of Peru. Here we took on as passenger, an English
gentleman in bad health, who was said to be enormously rich, but who
bore a very bad character, people said he had murdered his brother's
child, or had him put out of the way, to obtain his inheritance, but he
was a rich man and justice was quiet. He had noble blood in his veins,
and had been sent out by government as ambassador, or something of that
sort. One of our crew came from his native village, and he told me these
particulars.'

A singular expression came over the Earl's features for a moment, and
the same low, mocking laugh was again heard, the listeners shuddered and
drew closer together: the mariner proceeded.

'We had a rough passage, but when we neared Cape Horn, of all the gales
that ever blew in five-and-forty years that I have been at sea, I never
saw one like that. One night when the storm was at its utmost, when the
lightning, blue and vivid, seemed to surround us with an atmosphere of
flame, he rushed upon deck, pale and trembling, declaring he could not
stay below, for there was a woman and child there, mocking him and
dancing in the lightning's flash.' A groan of horror burst from the
listeners. The Earl's cheek flushed for a moment, then turned pale, but
he was motionless and passionless in seeming. The seaman glanced at the
Earl from under his shaggy eyebrows, and proceeded.

'The sailors spoke together in angry whispers, some of them were for
throwing him overboard, and I had hard work to persuade them to leave
him to his Maker and his conscience; soon, however, we all heard the
wailing cry of a child, then stifling sobs, sounds mingled with the
storm like a woman's voice in agony of supplication, bitter, mocking
laughter. I could restrain the men no longer, "we will free our craft
from this Jonah," said they, "the storm is sent for him." But the
vengeance of the Almighty was swifter than theirs, he had climbed the
rigging--the stoutest seaman that ever handled rope could not have
passed the futtoch shrouds in such a storm, yet he reached the top-mast
cross-trees, clinging to the top-gallant mast he stood, and in the
lightning we had seen his face, ghastly with terror. There was a vivid
flash--it seemed to wrap the mast in one blue sheet of flame, while all
around was dark, we saw it then, a female with a child in her arms,
floating, as it seemed, upon the wind, now drifting towards him, now
whirled upon the blast to a distance. A tremendous sea struck us upon
the beam at this moment, and every mast went by the board. The gale
abated soon, and we got jury-masts up, and put back to Lima, but of all
that ship's crew, no man was hurt by the storm or the spirit, save he
whose deeds had been evil;--and that is why, my lord, I say I fear not
these sounds, for a good conscience is the best sheet-anchor.'

'A truly edifying tale,' said the Earl sneering, 'you must be Chaplain
to the fleet, doubtless. The bad boy got whipped and the good boys went
scot free, just as it should be. And now, good folks, you have had your
amusement, and had best seek your homes, and Old Boreas here may go to
his ship or the Devil. I care not.' With this parting benediction the
Earl quitted the apartment, and the crowd soon dispersed. The agent
remained, and a few of the tenantry who had business with him. The
mariner with a grave, quiet look, remained seated on one of the benches.
There was a slight bustle at the door, as of repelling some intruder,
who, however, succeeded in gaining an entrance, and a man whose garments
bespoke extreme poverty, entered and approached the man of business.

Mr. Lambert lifted up his head and looked coldly at him. 'What is it you
want now?' he asked.

'If you please--' began the man.

'Oh! It's all of no use, unless you have brought the money. My Lord
can't wait any longer, and I have a warrant out now.'

'But I have the money,' said the man, and he laid five one pound notes
on the table.

'This is not sufficient,' said Lambert, 'the costs of the summons,
warrant of distress, etc., amount to L14 more.'

'My God!' said he, 'what am I to do?'

'I can take this on account, and stop further proceedings, if you can
procure security to pay the remainder within a month.'

'I cannot. Great God! have you no mercy? I have not tasted food these
three days, and I am weak with fever. I cannot work yet; wait till I am
better.'

This man's attenuated form, his bony hands and cadaverous cheeks--eyes
staring with hunger, told a tale too common, alas, of fearful suffering;
but no marble was colder than the agent.

'I am not your physician, Mr. Johnson, and therefore cannot say any
thing about your fitness for work. One thing I have to say, that is, you
cannot sit rent free in my lord's cottage; the money must be paid or out
you pack. I have an attachment on your tools, so you cannot remove them.
You have had the usual legal notice, and my offer just now was
liberal--very liberal.'

'And my children--'

'There are institutions provided by the laws, Mr. Johnson, for the
reception of paupers. But we are wasting time. Do you accept my
proposition or not?'

'I cannot do it; give me time.'

'Too much has been already wasted. Take back your money. You doubtless
can obtain more in the same manner you did this. It looks very
suspicious, I must say.'

'And this is called a Christian land!' said the poor fellow, holding his
wasted hands up to heaven. 'O God, that these things should be! The
earth is covered with food for sustaining life, and hundreds, aye,
thousands, like myself, are perishing at home. Oh, where is Christian
charity?'

'Charity begins at home,' said the seaman, 'and seldom casts anchor in
any other port. If you'll take my advice, you will stow your cargo and
make sail, and hark ye--' He whispered a word in the man's ear; the
other clasped his hands together, and with a tear in his eye, left the
apartment.

'Woe! woe! doomed!' cried the mysterious voice.

Lambert shook like a leaf--the seaman seemed to enjoy his terror.

'How much does Mr. Johnson owe?' said he,

'L5 rent, and L14 costs and taxes.'

'Write a receipt.'

The mariner paid the sum, and asked how he came so low.

'The usual story, captain.'

'Williams is my name.'

'The usual story, Captain Williams--sick wife, large family, broke a
leg, wife died, behind-hand in his rent, steady man, but not punctual in
paying his bills.'

'Why how the thunder could he? Couldn't his lordship wait till the poor
fellow was a little recovered?'

'Business, captain, must be conducted in a business-like manner.'

'You thought otherwise once.'

'When was that, pray?'

'When the father of that man, whom your relentless cruelty pursues with
such vindictive malice, took you, a friendless boy, fed and clothed you,
educated you along with his own son--the very man whose misery you
insult--when his father saved _you_ from the "charitable institution"
you would send his children to, and finally paid the fee for articling
you to the attorney at Canterbury, where you learned your present
devotion to business.'

The agent stared in speechless astonishment--the low musical laugh again
rang through the room.

'Listen!' said the mariner. 'The creatures of the air, the beings of
another world denounce you; the victims of your lust for gold, though
buried fathoms deep in the grave, still find a voice to chill the marrow
in your bones: the dead shall rise from their graves and confront
you--the hidden perfidy of years shall be disclosed, base tool of a
baser master--all your machinations against the wronged and the humble
shall fail, and recoil upon yourselves. Repent ere it will be too late;
you will never more be warned by me.'

So saying, the stout seaman left the astonished agent and wended his way
towards the cottage of the poor man Johnson, whither we shall precede
him. It is needless to remind the reader that the way was perfectly
familiar to him.

Dark are the shadows that cross the poor man's path, and few and far
between are the glimpses of hope that come to lighten them. The Eternal
in his wisdom has ordained that such should be--but Oh! woe! woe! ten
thousand times ten thousand woes, does he deserve who oppresses where he
should relieve, who becomes the destroyer where he should have been the
comforter; and yet there exist ten thousand such who thrive and roll in
luxury, while human hearts are bursting in their agony.




CHAPTER IV.

THE POOR MAN'S HOME.


Standing a little aloof from the other cottages, as if conscious of its
poor appearance, was a shed; it could hardly be called any thing else,
for it appeared originally to have been nothing more than an out-house
belonging to another building, and such in fact it had been. The roof
was decayed in many places, and covered partly with rank moss. It was
situated in a hollow, and the marshy soil around bore evident proof that
it was subject to be overflowed in rainy weather. Four or five squalid,
ragged children, with pinched features and thin limbs, sat huddled in a
heap on the muddy ground, watching the road with anxious eyes--eyes so
bright with hunger that they seemed like those of so many rats. The
youngest--it was not two years old, cried--the elder beat it. Start not,
reader, it is human nature. The little creature hid her wizen face in
her withered little hands and sobbed. A man rode by just then. It was
the agent on his way to the castle, for this was the morning of Curly
Tom's escape. Instinctively the children drew closer together and
shuddered. They did not know why, but they knew their father feared him.
He passed on, and the little faces seemed to brighten for a moment; the
eldest was but seven. Long ere the dawn their father had started for the
market town, some five miles off, in the vain hope that an old friend
there would help him. Ah, poor children! there they sat from the first
ray of daylight, and the bright sun was now glittering high above their
heads, shining upon their desolation and upon the castle turrets,
wherein dwelt in luxury their oppressor. The events we have described as
taking place at the castle were still in progress, when a female was
seen slowly coming along the road, bearing a basket on her arm that
seemed too heavy for her.

'That is Mary Walters,' said the eldest, 'and she will give us something
to eat--I am sure she will. Jenny, dear, don't cry,' and the urchin
wiped the little face she had struck before, and tenderly took her in
her own spare little arms. The child was not much weight. Gentle Mary
Waters! who that gazed upon thy placid face, as thou earnest on thine
errand of mercy--who that saw thee as thou ministered to the necessities
of those poor desolate children, would not have loved thee--who that had
seen thee in the first blush of thy beauty, when thy foot was as elastic
as the fawn's, and thy countenance radiant with joy and life's young
morning hope--who, who could dream that there existed one who had seen
all this, who had known the tie that bound thee to earth and its
promised happiness, the innocent love that abounded in thy heart--yet
ruthlessly snapped that tie asunder, and buried the love nought could
eradicate, deep in her bosom--a shattered wreck amid the memories of the
past. Gentle Mary Walters! alas for thy experience!

What avails it to describe her--perished as we know that fair form to
be, withered in its bloom. Yet she was handsome. It was not in any
particular feature; it was in the whole expression of her face and form.
Her auburn hair, in its plain quiet braid--her neat and scrupulously
plain attire, her mild blue eye, the air of placid resignation about her
presence, seemed so lovely, for she bore no outward token of the grief
within; she had never wailed or cried her sorrow away; but though her
gay smile had passed away forever, she had not become the gloomy
misanthrope or the fretful querulous invalid. She had complained to no
one. Her old grandfather knew her griefs, but he also knew that it was a
subject he could not offer her consolation upon. To aid the suffering as
far as her slender means would allow, to tend the couch of sickness, to
cheer the desponding heart in its hour of darkness, these were the
occupations with which she strove, not to forget her sorrows--that could
never be--but to afford an outlet for that love for her fellow creatures
which no selfish grief could lessen. And she could smile and speak in
cheering tones to others in their hour of woe, shedding over their
darkened paths the light of hope, while deep in the fountains of her own
heart that sweet flame was extinguished forever on earth, and dust and
ashes alone remained.

But over that lovely countenance, so serene and beautiful, the shadow of
death had already fallen;--that dread disease that beautifies ere it
kills its victims, had placed its fell stamp upon her. Daily her figure
became thinner and sharper, her breath grew shorter and a hacking cough
commenced, while a hectic flush sometimes came over her pallid
cheek--but too plainly warning those who looked upon her, that
consumption had marked her for its victim.

Hastily giving the children some victuals she had brought for them, she
entered the hovel, furniture there was none;--a chest of tools and a
heap of straw was all its contents. The grate had evidently been
unconscious of a fire for weeks past,--but it was summer. She shuddered
as she looked around. This was the home for which the proud lord of
those domains exacted a rent of L10 per year. She was not one, however,
to give way to idle speculation when there was good to be done: she
opened the shutters, swept the floor, and threw a quilt she had brought
with her over the heap of straw, then made the children wash themselves,
and proceeded to dress them in some hastily made clothes, which her
basket contained. Then taking the little one in her lap, and making the
others lay down on the bed--for hunger had awoke them far before they
had their needful rest, she sat down upon the tool-chest lulling the
child to sleep, and patiently awaiting the arrival of the father. A step
approached, it was not the man, however, but the landlady's wayward
nephew:--he, too, carried a basket, and seemed pleased, but not at all
surprised at seeing Mary.

'I knew I should find you here,' said he, sitting beside her, (he was
much more companionable with her than with any other person,) 'I knew as
soon as you came back and heard how badly off these poor creatures were,
you would come to relieve them. It's like you, Mary, you seem the only
Angel amongst a race of fiends.'

'It is our duty to help the poor and needy, Edward: I only grieve I was
absent from the village. Things ought never to have come to this pass.
Why did not the neighbors help them?'

'Why, Mary, in the first place you know poor Johnson was no favorite of
theirs--he was better educated than any of them, you know he was not
bred a carpenter, but intended for a minister,--so he has often told me
himself, for he has been my schoolmaster, it's because we are both
lonely, I suppose, that he talked to me, but he kept aloof from the
others, and they all said pride would have a fall, and so would not come
near him in his trouble. My aunt and he had quarrelled, but she would
gladly help him for all that if he would only accept of it, but his
pride sticks in the way. I knew he was away, or I would not have brought
this with me; however, you can say you brought it.'

'I can never tell an untruth, Edward, but you can leave it, perhaps he
will ask no questions.'

'I'm not quite sure of that, Mary; but I've played him one trick this
morning for his own good, and if you won't help me to play another, e'en
let it alone--all have their weak side,--that abstract idea of truth you
worship, Mary, is yours.'

'And do you not love the truth too, Edward?'

'I never tell a wilful lie, Mary, you know. I'd scorn it, and I never
break my word,--but still, look at truth's reward,--here! the home of an
honest man, and there!' he pointed towards the castle. 'Ah! forgive me,
Mary, stupid dolt, that I am.'

'You have not hurt me, Edward, but must never think honesty and truth
has no reward even on earth; a good conscience is a blessing none can
take away from us, and there is hope in Heaven.'

'There had need be, Mary,--I won't contradict you, though I don't know
much about it. The Bible says so, and I suppose it's true: but poor
Johnson, I'm thinking will be more glad of the five pounds I tricked him
into accepting this morning than a dozen good consciences.'

'How was that done, Edward?'

'Why, my aunt wanted to help him, but did not know how,--but I was up at
grey dawn this morning, and saw him pass in the direction of Elverton. I
knew he was gone on a fool's errand to appeal to an old friend; he had,
it seems, bowed his proud heart to that. True, he had saved this man's
life: more, he had saved him from dishonor and disgrace, but I felt none
the less certain he would get no aid there. So I took L5 from Aunt
Ally's cash-box, and putting them inside a blank letter, I directed it
in a feigned hand, only adding the words, "from one who sympathises with
learning and ability in distress," for he's proud of his learning, and
rode like mad over the hills to get there before him; there I watched
for him, and got a footmail to give him the letter, and came back as
fast as I went.'

'Now, God bless you for it, Edward, you are a wild boy, but you have a
good heart.'

'Boy! Man, you mean, Mary. I'm eighteen this summer.'

'I should not have thought you so old.'

'Aye, aye, you judge like the rest, because my carcase is not as big as
Lumping Dick's the butcher boy's, and because you have known me as a
child when you were a grown woman, you think I am to remain a child
always.' And he petulantly shook back the masses of long dark hair that
shadowed his wild but handsome countenance.

At this moment Johnson entered the room. His step was feeble and slow,
but his countenance no longer bore the look of deep dejection that had
in the morning characterized it. His eye brightened still more when he
saw Mary.

'Now God bless you, Miss Waters, for thinking of my poor lambs,' said
he. 'I scarcely dared to hope for them. I have brought food for
them--see!' he added. 'I little dreamed anyone would have been here
before me.'

'Sit down,' said Mary, rising; 'you are fatigued and weak. I must go
now, as my grandfather will need me, but we will send you something to
make your house more comfortable.'

'I shall not require it, Miss Mary: I have nearly five pounds here.'

'Why, how is that?'

'It was handed me this morning by a strange footman in Elverton, after
the door was shut in my face of the only man I ever tamed my spirit to
ask aid from: yes, the cowardly hypocrite that dared not deny me to my
face, sent his lacquey to tell me he was unwell, and could not be
disturbed by beggars. May the curse--'

'Stay!' said Mary, 'curse him not, leave his punishment to his Maker;
but did not the agent take the five pounds for the rent?'

'No; he said there was a warrant and costs of suit that made it fourteen
pounds more, and was going to send the bailiffs to turn me out this very
evening; but a strange old seaman came forward and paid the amount. I
should have been here sooner, but I went round to the village shop to
buy food for the little ones.'

'You must allow me to have my way, Johnson,' said Mary. 'Sit down now
and eat; then rest. You will need the little money you have, and more
too, to recruit your health, for you must not dream of working again
until you are strong. I will send what is necessary, and some one to
mind the children; Edward, will you walk home with me?' and before the
man could reply, not giving him time to utter a word of thanks, she took
the arm of the youth and quitted the cottage. The man knelt down on the
floor, and famishing as he was, prayed for a blessing on her head ere he
touched the food that was there. Another had been a witness to this
interview. Looking through the casement was the visage of the mariner,
no longer stern, but moved with unutterable emotion, and tears, yes,
tears trickling down his weather-beaten cheeks. This soon ceased,
however, and a frown dark and terrible passed over his face; his
powerful frame quivered, then settled down into one look of deep,
determined, implacable resolve. He entered the hut, and laying the
agent's receipt upon the chest, quitted without a word.




CHAPTER V.

THE CAPTURE.


The sun had set about an hour on the evening of the same day, when Mr.
Lambert, with two stout attendants, set out from his residence on the
outskirts of the village, and took his way through the intervening wood
towards the sea shore. The two men with him were London officers, adepts
at thief catching, resolute and determined; they were well armed, but
bore no badge of their occupation outside. The agent had screwed his
courage to the point of accompanying them, with some difficulty, but he
was well aware that if they failed in capturing their man, he would have
to encounter the nobleman's rage, and he feared the loss of his favor
more than the chance of being shot or stabbed by Hunter; but he knew
well it was an errand of no small danger he was upon; yet they were
three to one, and he counted much upon the instructions he had given to
Curly Tom; much also on Hunter's habit of drink, still he felt by no
means easy and would have given much then to have been quietly in his
bed; not so the officers; they were in high glee, the prospect of a
desperate encounter being by men inured to deal with ruffians as they
were, but small in comparison with the hope of a large reward.

They proceeded in silence, however--the agent, who was perfectly
familiar with the way, leading. They soon emerged into the open country,
and after a few miles began to ascend, and felt the keen air from the
sea blow upon their faces--the path soon became rugged and uneven, but
sloping towards the sea. In a short time they reached the beach. Here
they dismounted and tied their beasts up under a shed, placed there for
the purpose of drying fish. There was no moon, but it was a bright
starlight night, and the tide was out. Creeping cautiously along, they
skirted the base of a large cliff which projected far beyond low water
mark, and against which the sea beat in fury when the tide was in; and
keeping on its inner side; crept along until they reached the entrance
of a cave. Not a word was spoken. Their instructions had been
precise--for Lambert, who was born and had spent his earliest years
there, knew every spot of the ground. They took their shoes off, and
walking upon the hard sand which formed the ground, entered the pitchy
darkness. Lambert going first, and knowing that a sound would be
fatal--for they would have little chance in that narrow passage--he
turned every angle as accurately as if it had been daylight, and the
officers holding, one behind the other, followed stealthily along. Soon
their path widened, and a glimmering light allowed them that the cavern
was tenanted, or had been so. A few paces more, and they stopped. Some
large masses of fallen rock here almost blocked up the path, leaving an
opening so narrow as to require stooping to enter. Cautiously peeping
through some spaces between the rocks, the agent and his myrmidons gazed
upon a scene Salvator would have loved to paint. The cavern here
expanded into a semicircular hall, stalactites hanging from its roof
nearly to the ground. Here and there a niche and recess which seemed
done by human art, but which in fact was Nature's handiwork, was seen,
and every point of spar, from the lofty roof to the stalagmites below,
was glittering in the light of a huge fire of brushwood fed by Curly
Tom. A small rill of water trickled from a fissure in the rock above,
and wound its way through the sand towards the sea. It was the very
beau-ideal of a robber's cave. Its existence was known to few: only
accessible at low water, the entrance had escaped notice, and the few
that did find it were discouraged on entering by the long and tortuous
way which led to this chamber, and did not track it far. The smoke found
vent above, as the fire burnt clear and bright, and did not incommode
the watchers.

Horace Hunter was pacing the cave with unsteady step, and with delight
the officers saw that he was more than half intoxicated. No one could
have recognized in the bloated countenance and reckless air of the
hunted man, the gay and handsome young farmer of seven years before.
There was still the same manly form and intelligent features, but the
rich brown hair that then curled round his open brow, now wild and
matted, only added to the desperate appearance of his sunken eyes and
overhanging brows. Drink did not make him merry. On the contrary he was
more bitter then than ever. Gloomy and ferocious as he had become since
his sister's shame had been known to him, when he drank he only brooded
heavier upon it; and the hope of a more complete revenge only restrained
him then from some desperate act of violence. As he walked to and fro,
chafing with inward passion, he might have been compared to a caged wild
beast, hungry and with food in sight, yet unattainable.

'A curse upon you, Tom!' said he. 'Would you roast us alive, this hot
night? Leave the fire alone and bring your hang-dog face here!'

He treated his associate with the most bitter contempt.

'I doant fancy biding here with narra light!' said the fellow. 'There be
a mort of ugly things here!'

'There's nothing uglier than your own carcase. Drink and get courage. If
your heart is cold with fear, warm it with brandy.'

So saying he took a deep draught himself and handed the bottle to his
companion.

'I hate the stuff!' said he. 'Bah! it's poison--but it rouses me. Fire
this infernal cave! What's that?' A bat, disturbed by the smoke, flitted
close before his face. 'I have had nothing but evil omens to-day. What
is the day of the month?'

'I heern lawyer say the 26th, yesterday.'

'The 27th of August, then. By twelve o'clock to-night my time will be
up--then I shall be free to act. If that old seaman should play me false
now! I promised him to wait three years, and I have kept my word!' He
was speaking more to himself than to his companion. 'Three long
years--too long for vengeance for wrongs like mine to wait. But that he
swore, I should tame his pride--but that he spoke of hurling him from
his high estate, ere this I would have had the heart's blood of that
proud man. But to-night I shall be free, and then--'

He took from his vest a miniature, and gazed upon it long and earnestly.
Gradually his features softened, and burying his face in his hands, he
wept. There was yet one green spot in the desert of his heart--love for
the fair girl he had been betrothed to. Reader, it was a terrible thing
to see that man weep--it would have made your heart sicken and your
blood boil, while every scalding tear that fell would cry aloud in your
thoughts, 'Vengeance, vengeance!'

A strange proceeding now took place. Curly Tom took from his pocket a
small phial, and previously filling his own cup with brandy, poured the
contents into the bottle. He watched his companion intently during this
process, but his terrible emotion too completely mastered him for the
moment. It was but momentary. He arose and commenced to pace the floor
again. 'My Mary! you too sacrificed! O, fiend! fiend! But my vengeance
shall be terrible! To-night I shall be free from my oath!' He walked up
to the table and drank. Curly Tom watched him intently as he resumed his
unsteady walk.

'He little dreams that I can enter his very chamber at any hour. Oh!
coward, fool, dolt, that I have been, to delay my just revenge on the
word of that old pirate. I believe him,--some paid minion of this proud
man; for he has them in every guise, perhaps the very appointment made
three years ago in the West Indies, was a trap, perhaps,--even this clod
is a spy and accomplice;' he took a pistol from an inner pocket and
cocking it, pressed it to the ear of his companion. 'Tom,' said he, 'if
I thought you would betray me.' The ruffian possessed that brute
indifference to danger too often mistaken for true courage,--he did not
tremble, though a slight paleness was visible on his repulsive
countenance as he felt the touch of the iron barrel. 'Whoy! Measter
Horace,' said he, 'didn't you save moy old mawther from being drowned by
the boys vor a witch, noa, noa,--I be true, and hate yearl and lawyer,
and all the great volk.'

'I believe you,' said the other, replacing the pistol, 'but' he began to
mutter indistinctly, took a few steps in a wild, uncertain way;--'I feel
dizzy,--d----nation,' he staggered to a seat and dropped his head upon
the piece of rock that served them for a table;--the opiate had done its
work.

Curly Tom cautiously arose, and walking up to him, looked upon him long
and steadily, listening to the heavy breathing,--he wished to remove his
arms, but the position Hunter was lying in, prevented his doing so. The
ruffian felt no remorse; it was true that Hunter had saved the wretch's
mother from being abused and ill-treated, perhaps murdered, by the
superstitious villagers: true that he had regularly allowed the poor old
woman support till her death,--while her ruffian son was pursuing his
career of crime,--but the villain knew his own neck was in danger, and
being conscious of perfidy, now hated Hunter for his momentary
suspicion. As he leaned over the insensible man, his light, bleary eyes
gleaming with ferocious satisfaction, his lank, shambling figure, and
yellow, matted hair hanging in elf locks round his sharp visage, he
looked like an unclean bird of prey hovering over a carcase. And a
carcase it was over which he bent his head; dead now to every honorable
hope, worse than useless to his kind, a hunted outcast, a mass of
decaying matter, kept alive only by the fiery hope of vengeance that
burnt within. The ruffian had hitherto been faithful, and procured
Hunter those necessaries that he could not venture in quest of himself,
for he was a deserter from that service, which kidnaps men to do its
work, and hunts down the poor slaves when they escape, even in the land
whose inhabitants are singing, 'Britons ever will be free.' Bitter,
mockery of freedom. Curly Tom now held up his hand, and cautiously the
officers emerged from their hiding place, slowly they came forward,
anticipating an easy capture; they were mistaken. The opiate, as it
frequently does on excitable natures, had only partially stupefied him,
and the first effect wearing off, it now began to act as a
stimulant;--the officers had traversed about half the distance to the
rock on which Hunter's head reclined, when he started up and looked
wildly around him,--for a moment he seemed stupefied, and passed his
hand before his face as if to assure himself he was not dreaming--the
officers rushed forward. He saw it all now,--he drew a pistol, but Curly
Tom threw his long arms round him,--too late to prevent the explosion,
however. The ball whizzed by the side of the foremost officer, and
struck the agent in the leg--he fell. Curly Tom possessed more strength
than his lank figure promised,--but Hunter, thoroughly sobered by his
danger; tore his hold away, and striking the ruffian a tremendous blow
with the butt end of the discharged pistol, felled him to the
ground,--and snatching a knife from the rock close at hand, stabbed the
foremost officer to the heart,--he fell with a heavy groan, and the next
moment the remaining officer, a man of herculean strength had closed
upon him. Terrible was now the struggle--the officer had dexterously
struck the knife from his hand as he closed with him, but he could not
draw his pistols. Locked in each other's grasp they wrestled together
for life: each one well knew that death would be the lot of the
vanquished,--the officer burning to revenge his comrade's death:--Hunter
struggling for life and his cherished vengeance. Gradually they
approached the spot where the agent sat watching the conflict with
terrible anxiety, so absorbing as to make him forgetful of the pain of
his wound; here, by a tremendous effort the officer succeeded in
throwing his antagonist; falling, however, with him. Hunter made
desperate efforts to rise, but getting within reach of the agent in the
struggle, Lambert seized his hair, and held his head firmly down; to
master his hands now, and slip a pair of handcuffs over his wrists, was,
to the powerful and practised officer, the work of a moment,--and
furious with passion, but exhausted by the struggle, Hunter lay upon the
earth, a captive.

'A game fellow,' said the officer, wiping the perspiration from his
brow, 'and strong as a bear, but I've tackled as tough hands as him in
my day, and so has poor Bill Maddox there. I hope the Earl will settle a
good pension on his widow--it will be sad news for her and her four poor
children:--stone dead. He took the famous highwayman, Jack Blount summut
in this way, five years ago. Well, he's gone, and as the tide is coming
in, we had best be smart. That shot was unlucky for you, Mr. Lambert,
but such accidents will happen. You behaved beautifully. I'm blowed if I
thought you so fly to these things. Poor Bill--we can't move him until
next tide, but sea-water can't hurt him now. I must rouse this
chuckle-headed yokel and get him to help me.' So saying, the veteran
thief-catcher lighted a dark lantern, and taking some water sprinkled it
freely over the head and face of Curly Tom. The fellow returned to
consciousness, and gazed around him--a look of ferocious joy animated
his eyes, as he saw that Hunter was taken, and drinking the brandy he
had reserved unmixed in the cup, he professed his readiness to help
them.

Leaving him to guard the prisoner, first, however, removing Hunter's
remaining pistol, and even securing the discharged one, the sturdy
official took the wounded agent on his back, and crept out of the
cavern. He soon returned, and with Tom's assistance removed Hunter also,
who now from the combined effects of exhaustion, liquor and the opiate,
was fast becoming insensible. Leaving one of his pistols with the agent,
in case of treachery on the part of Tom, he once more returned, and
taking off the outer clothing of the dead man, fastened a cord to his
feet, and tied it firmly round a piece of rock near by. He was too used
to scenes of blood to shed a tear, but he shook the dead man's hand and
said, 'Poor Bill,' as he quitted the cave. His precautions with regard
to Tom were unneeded. The ruffian's hatred had been aroused by Hunter's
suspicion, and confirmed by the blow. Nor did he refuse to start to
Erith for assistance to convey the prisoner and the wounded man there.
He had been assured by the agent that no harm should come to him,
protected by the powerful influence of the nobleman; and to allow
himself to be captured had been part of the plan from the first. He had
not sense enough to know that the heavier crime of murder, now laying
upon the soul of the unfortunate man, did away with the necessity of his
appearing as a witness, as it had been done in the presence of Mr.
Lambert and the officer, and they were both too wise to undeceive him.
Indeed the wily agent had determined, now that the service was rendered,
to sacrifice his ruffianly tool, as his presence might be troublesome.
Tom soon returned with a posse of police officers and a cart, to convey
the prisoner and the wounded. A surgeon was with them, who dressed Mr.
Lambert's wound temporarily, and pronounced it trifling, and the party
departed--Tom going with them as a voluntary prisoner.

Great were the encomiums bestowed upon the officer by his brother
official, for his conduct and bravery, and the agent also came in for
his share of praise--and the whole party were in high glee at the
result, which brought one poor hunted human being under the dread ban of
the law, while he whose lust had driven him to crime revelled in luxury,
and mingled with the fair and good, courted and caressed by those who
would have shrunk from expressing any sympathy for the poor victims of
his pride. Weep, angels, weep! and devils, shout for joy! Hell has no
minister so powerful as the proud man's lust.

It may be as well to mention here at once, that the agent, pursuing his
plan of getting rid of Curly Tom, much to that worthy's astonishment,
pressed the charge of highway robbery against him, before the trial of
Hunter, which was postponed through the influence of the Earl, which was
indirectly exerted also to procure the condemnation of his base tool;
and so it came to pass, that after a trial, which was a mere form--for
the seaman's bare deposition, which Mr. Lambert had taken, was admitted
as evidence--the good citizens of Canterbury being in want of a little
excitement, that interesting individual performed a dance upon nothing,
in company with a sheep-stealer and a forger, for their especial behoof,
one fine day in September, under the personal superintendence of that
accomplished artist, Mr. John Ketch, in the presence of a highly
respectable and numerous audience, who all retired to their homes in
peace, much gratified with the exhibition, and duly impressed with a
deep sense of the blessing of being permitted to vegetate under the
protection of a government so wise in its councils, so strong in
_execution_, and so paternal in its care for the morals of the people.
So said the newspapers next day; and thus ended the career of a
heartless ruffian, it is true, but who had ever sought to make him
otherwise?

To proceed with our tale. Day was now fast breaking; and as the cortege
moved away with their prisoner, two horsemen appeared on the cliffs
above, and dismounting, watched the party with eager but disappointed
looks. They were the old seaman and Edward Barnett, the village
landlady's eccentric nephew.

'A plague upon my awkward riding,' said the seaman, 'we are too late!
They have taken him, and that rascal too with him! Fool that he was to
place any confidence in such a hound.'

'He had been kind to Tom's mother,' said Edward, 'and he supposed that
gratitude.'

'Bah!' said the sailor; 'when you have buffeted as many of the storms of
life as I have, you will learn that gratitude is rarely found on
earth--least of all in such a brutified nature as that fellow's. But why
do I blame him? He was but what the law made him. Punished for a venial
fault--sent to herd with hardened malefactors, is it wonderful that he
should become schooled in crime? And now the law will punish the
criminal it made. We can do no good here--we had best proceed to Erith.
I have much to say to you, and much to do. But fear not; Hunter shall
not perish without an effort, even if I tear him from the gallows.' So
saying, he remounted, and the two slowly pursued their way towards
Erith.




CHAPTER VI.

THE BEGINNING OF RETRIBUTION.


The seaman and his young companion were seated together in a little room
overlooking the sea, on the evening succeeding the events we have
related. It was one of those calm, lovely evenings when summer, seeming
loth to give over her reign to the approaching fall, exerts herself to
display her utmost beauty, and withholds her scorching heat. The
declining sun gave a rose colored tint to the landscape, and the vessels
passing to or from the modern Babylon added animation to the scene. The
mariner was gazing at the distant horizon, lost in thought. That
memories of other days were recalled to his mind, was evident from the
working of his features; that it required a strong effort to restrain
his emotion, was perceivable from the compression of his lips. There was
a massive grandeur in his aspect as he sat, well befitting the scene.
His young companion had his thoughts also, and they were not the usual
ones of his age. The meeting with the seaman and subsequent events had
roused him from his usual listless, wayward fancies, and he was going
back in memory to past scenes--shadowy and indistinct--but all in some
way mixed with the locket he wore suspended, unseen, around his neck.
That the time had now arrived when he was to receive an explanation of
the past, he felt sure; for his aunt had often told him that when Walter
arrived he should know all: and from the seaman's manner he conjectured
that the long wished for hour was come.

'Edward,' said the mariner, 'I wish you to tell me all that you
recollect--not of your life at your aunt's, but before that.'

'And then,' said the boy, 'in return you promise to tell me of my
parentage?'

'You shall know all.'

The boy paced the floor for a few moments. His figure was slender, but
lithe and active, of medium stature; and there was a restlessness about
his movements that told of a wild spirit within. His face was remarkably
handsome; features chiselled in a form that would have served a Grecian
sculptor for a model--and his long dark hair fell in glossy locks even
over his shoulders. He stood holding the back of a chair, and looking
more to seaward than at his companion, began:

'It was not in this country, I am sure, that I first recollect myself,
in a handsome house, but built different from these. There were
cocoa-nut trees growing near it; and other trees that do not grow here;
but I have seen something like them in the Earl's green house. There
were luscious fruits, but not English ones--oranges and bananas I am
sure. The people around us too were black. I remember I was frightened
when I came here first at seeing so many white people and no blacks.'

Walter regarded him steadily--but the young man's eye was seaward. He
seemed to see before him the scenes he was depicting.

'There was a piazza round the house, where I used to play, and a sweet
lady, very like poor Mary, but dark-haired, whom I used to call mother.'
There was powerful emotion depicted on the listener's face, but he said
nothing. 'I remember a handsome gentleman, but he was not there often.
He wore a uniform, but not like the officers here. I think now he must
have been in the navy. I used to call him papa. I am sure he must have
been my father, and he was a sailor; for my mother was always looking
out to sea when he was absent, and he took me onboard a man of war ship
once, where, from the deference every one showed to him, I judge, now
that I am older, that he must have been the Captain of. These things
seem to me like shadows, for I was not more than five years old then.'

'True,' said his auditor, 'your memory is good.'

'There was a party. I think my father was not there, but I was
handsomely dressed, and ladies caressed me, and the negroes were
dancing. I think it must have been my birth-day. I remember a servant
bringing in a letter, and my mother fainting, and talk about a great
fight at sea, and my father's name mentioned--I have forgotten it--but
ladies told me not to cry, and I knew that he was dead; but I did not
know what it meant. After this another gentleman used to come there,
very handsome too, but not like my father, for he had a dark face and
dark hair, and my father's hair was light. I did not like him, for he
spoke very stern to my mother, and she used to weep, and was very much
frightened by him. It was some paper he wanted from her, and he offered
her gold once. I saw him, for I hid myself and watched him. Then my
mother got sick--they said she was getting better, and I remember being
much surprised one morning, when the old nurse came down and told me she
was dead. She had died suddenly in the night, they said, and yet she had
been better the evening before.'

A deep groan burst from the seaman's lips, and his face was ashy pale.
The young man trembled as he proceeded.

'The dark gentleman came and took me away from the house, and I never
saw it again. My old nurse went with me. I was six years old then, and I
lived with her, in a poorer place than before, and not close to the old
house, for we went a long way in a carriage to reach it. We lived
together so till I was near eight years old. The dark gentleman never
came near us--but one day a man came, and said he had bought her, I
think, and she must go with him; and they took her away from me. I clung
to her, but they beat me away. Unseen by them she tied this ribbon with
the locket to it round my neck, and telling me never to part with it,
for it had been my mother's, and would one day bring me rank and
fortune, she went with her new master. A kind old colored woman, who
used to say she was free, took me to her house, and I remember nothing
more until you found me there, but that I hid the locket even from her,
for I was afraid she would take it away, and that the man who took Nurse
away, said, looking at me, "What a pity he is white!"'

The youth had been so intent upon collecting the reminiscences of his
childhood, that he had failed to perceive the effect it had upon his
companion, and the darkness now prevented his face from being seen--but
the agonized sobs that broke from him now and then told that the
fountains of his heart were stirred, and his very soul harrowed up, and
memory had conjured up a series of terrible recollections. Lights were
brought into the room, but all traces of agitation had disappeared, and
his countenance bore only the look of stern, implacable resolve.

'Edward, tell me one thing more. Have you ever seen the dark-haired man
since?'

'Daily, for these ten years almost. I knew him instantly.'

'His name?'

'De Montford! It was by accident I discovered the secret of the picture
in the justice-room, and I have availed myself of it to play spirit to
him and his base agent sometimes.'

'It was a boyish trick--but you have sterner work now in hand than
playing ghost--you have to avenge a murdered mother!'

'Ah! then my mother's sudden death, when she was recovering--'

'Was the work of poison!'

'I see it all!' said the young man. 'The papers he wanted, and she
refused--but I will kill him!' He started up, and was rushing to the
door. The iron grasp of the seaman arrested him.

'You must be calm, Edward. He shall die, but he must not perish by your
hand. He is your uncle. But he shall first be stripped of his assumed
rank and title, and his proud spirit humbled. Then he shall answer in a
court of justice for the murder of your mother.'

'Who, then, was my father?'

'The eldest lawful son of the late Earl De Montford!'

Edward gazed proudly around him for a moment, then sank into a chair,
and burying his face in his hands, burst into tears. Walter did not
disturb him, but sat regarding him with a look in which affection was
strangely mingled with his stern resolve. At length Edward raised his
head.

'I am composed now,' said he, 'and will be guided by you, for I am
convinced you have been a true friend to me. But there must be no
reservation--you must tell me all.'

'Or you will doubt me. It was never my intention to keep you in the dark
or in leading strings longer than necessary. I am above the petty spirit
which, to magnify its importance, keeps to itself half a secret, to be
told at another time. You shall know all, and we will concert our
measures together as man and man, for I can easily guess from this
moment you have put off the boy for ever.'

It was true. Even in that short time a marked change had come upon him,
and it was with the resolved air of a man prepared to hear, determine,
and to act, if need be, with firmness and deliberation, that he pushed
his chair from the table, and folding his arms upon his chest, sat
waiting for the mariner to proceed in his tale. That burst of tears
which followed the announcement of his rank was a last farewell to
boyhood, and his firm attitude and handsome features looked worthy to
uphold the proud motto of his house, "Nulli Secundi."




CHAPTER VII.

THE SEAMAN'S STORY.


'I was little more than twelve years of age when I entered the British
Navy as a midshipman, much against my good father's will, for I was his
only child, and my mother died the day I first saw the light. But I was
a wayward, unruly boy, and he feared I might take to bad courses if
restrained. It was a time of stirring action, and before I was twenty
years of age I bore upon my shoulder the epaulette of a lieutenant,
earned in many a bloody fight. The naval service was then in high
favour, and many sprigs of nobility condescended to walk the
quarter-deck as captains and commanders, though they seldom knew as much
about a ship as the ship's boys. One of these was the late Earl de
Montford--He had the haughty courage of his race; few of them were
deficient in that; but he had disdained to learn his profession, and
when he was appointed to command a corvette, I was sent on board as
first lieutenant, but in fact as what is called a nurse--to do the work,
while my incapable but titled commander reaped the glory. We were
anchored in the bay of Naples, having borne despatches to the fleet then
stationed there, and were under orders to sail the next morning, when he
sent for me into his cabin, and with more familiarity and kindness than
he had ever used to me before, he confided to me that he was in love,
and wanted my assistance to rescue her he loved from a convent. Fond of
adventure, I consented, and we succeeded, so they were that very evening
united by the chaplain on board the corvette. She was very beautiful,
and he was both proud and fond of her. His father was alive, however,
and as the old Earl had negotiated for him a marriage with the daughter
of some proud Marquis in England, he did not dare to acquaint him of
it--for though the title and the estate could not be alienated, yet the
enormous personal property could, and even his love for the fair Italian
could not reconcile him to risk the chance of enduring what he would
have called poverty. He purchased a villa at Leghorn, and leaving the
ship almost entirely at my command, lived for the time at least as
though there was nothing on this earth to care for but love and beauty.
The chaplain had been sworn to secresy, and the other officers of the
ship thought it was merely some amour of their commander's, and whatever
they thought of his morals, they of course took good care to say
nothing. The chaplain died soon after, and I remained the sole living
witness of the marriage. The birth of a son, however, instead of linking
their hearts closer together, became the apple of discord between them.
She pressed him to acknowledge her as his wife to the numerous English
families who were settled around Leghorn, and who refused to associate
with one in her equivocal position. She had borne their slights
patiently when only directed against herself, but the feelings of a
mother were aroused when the finger of scorn was pointed at her child.
It was too evident, also, that his affection for her was on the wane. He
was absent from her more frequently--spoke of the necessity of attending
to his duty--his duty! oh, the ready excuse man finds to do evil. Better
far for that poor girl would it have been to have been buried in the
deepest recesses of the cloister, than to have attracted the notice of
that vile unprincipled nobleman. It was about this time the old Earl
died, and he quitted the service. There was no bar now for his
acknowledging her as his wife--but he was satiated--his fleeting passion
had evaporated. He had visited England in the interval, and seen the
bride destined for him by his father: and her beauty, the enormous
addition to his wealth and power which would accrue from the marriage,
tempted him, and he now regarded the woman who had surrendered to him
the most sacred of man's earthly trusts--her young heart's first
affections, her hopes of earthly happiness--as a barrier to his pride
and the vile passion he dared to dignify with the name of love: and when
she now asked him to do her the justice which he could no longer plead
his father's anger for denying--O God, where were thy thunderbolts!--he
told her that their marriage was a sham one, that the chaplain was but a
servant in disguise, and that in truth she was only his mistress. I had
been dismissed the service through him--I will speak of that anon--the
chaplain was dead--she did not even know his name or mine--how could she
help herself? She never held up her head after this. She refused all
support from him, though he offered to settle upon her a considerable
pension. For five years she supported herself by teaching music at
Florence, whither she removed with an attendant whom her gentle manners
had attached to her, and from whom, years after, I learned these
particulars. She never would, however, consent to sign any papers which
would affect her own or her son's rights, nor would she part with the
certificate of marriage the chaplain had given her, though he tried hard
to obtain them, as also the letters he had written to her from the ship
at different times in which he had always addressed her as his wife. But
her constitution had received a shock from which it never recovered, and
at the expiration of that time she died. His agent, who had been
secretly watching her by his orders, took the boy to England, where he
was sent to a distant school for education under a feigned name, and at
the age of fifteen sent to sea--where, as he was believed to be a
natural son of the Earl, and the latter favored that assumption, his
advancement was rapid; not more so, however, than his gallantry and good
conduct deserved, for I often heard his name mentioned with applause,
though I little dreamed then who he was, or how closely the fortunes of
those I loved the best were connected with him. He was your father,
Edward, and the proud man who now usurps your title and your fortune is
a bastard!'

The look of high reserve that flashed in the young man's eyes as he
listened to the tale, contrasted well while it agreed with the stern,
implacable, expression of the mariner's countenance, which deepened, if
possible, as he proceeded.

'It was many years afterwards that I learned these particulars, but I
must now speak of my dismissal and its cause. From the day that your
grandfather's love for his young bride began to decline, he hated me,
yet he feared me--and took good care to conceal it: I was young and
unsuspicious, and when he procured my appointment as first-lieutenant in
a frigate bound to the West Indies, I thanked the man who was plotting
my ruin. The commander of the frigate was one of the meanest wretches
that ever disgraced a command--an impoverished rake who gained the means
of continuing his excesses by flattering the vanity and aiding the
schemes of his richer companions in vice, and duping the more
inexperienced. He had received his directions evidently, and every
studied insult, everything that petty spite and malice could inflict was
tried to provoke me, but the contempt I felt for the reptile restrained
me full as much as the iron bands of discipline. We arrived at Jamaica
and cruised about the Bay of Mexico for some time, when the daughter of
a rich planter, in South Carolina, (then one of his Majesty's colonies,
now one of the brightest stars in the flag of the Great Republic,) took
a passage with her governess in our ship to New Orleans, whither we were
ordered on service. The Captain tried to make himself agreeable to her,
but she treated his advances with coldness so marked as to enrage him.
She saw through, with ease, the flimsy veil he attempted to throw over
his vices. It was my happy fortune to save her from a watery grave. In
landing, she incautiously stepped from the ladder before the boat was
sufficiently near to receive her, and fell, into the sea. I dashed over
the taffrail, the tide was running strong, but I caught her in my arms,
and bore her up, until the boat came to our relief. Her father, who
awaited her arrival, was unbounded in his expressions of gratitude, and
invited me often to his hotel, he also gave me a cordial invitation to
his plantation in Carolina. The Captain made many unseemly jokes upon
the affair, but I bore them all,--for now I felt I loved and I hoped,
who does not hope at twenty-three? I hoped I was beloved in return.
Annoyed by my patience, galled and mortified by his rejection, he lost
his usual prudence, and one day boasted before a knot of loose
companions in my presence, of favors he had received from her,--from her
who was purity itself, and had scarcely deigned to exchange the common
courtesies of life with him. I struck him to the deck for his detested
lie, and gave myself up as prisoner. I was tried by a Court Martial and
declared incapable of serving his Majesty again. I had expected death,
and his powerful friends did their utmost to procure a sentence, but the
Admiral was a just though a rigid man, and well knew the character of my
accuser,--the provocation was taken into consideration, and the services
I had rendered during eleven years in storm and battle. I was dismissed.
Mr. Elliott, the planter, offered me a home. I had saved considerable
prize money. I was disgusted with England, and I loved. He, himself,
offered me his daughter, and she did not refuse me. We lived together
three happy years, when she died in giving birth to a daughter. Oh! she
was beautiful,--most beautiful, but linked to my wayward fate, she
perished.'

There was a softened shade over the seaman's face, and the stern
expression had gone,--he brushed some moisture from his eyes with his
strong hand, and turned aside for a moment; the young man was deeply
moved.

'A life of inactivity gave no balm to my wounded spirit, and I burned
for action. Mr. Elliott saw it; "Side with us," said he, "there has been
a Tea Party in Boston harbor that will bring thunder ere long, and I
will procure you a command;" he did so. I joined the Navy of the United
States, and bore the stars and stripes aloft through many a scene of
peril and of death. Mr. Elliott doted on his grandchild, and she
remained with him. Those were times that tried men's hearts, and my
father-in-law was chivalrous as he was generous--he gave the bulk of his
fortune to his country's need, and confiding my daughter, then a child
some two years old, to a distant relative, carried his grey head and
feeble limbs to join the ranks of those who fought for liberty. He fell
gloriously in battle, and when, after years of active service, peace was
declared, and I came home to seek my daughter, the lady who had her in
charge had died of fever, and my child had been taken away, no one could
tell me by whom or where:--all traces of her were lost. I now longed to
see my father, peace was declared, the Independence of America admitted,
and as I had fought under an assumed name, I anticipated no danger. I
was received as one from the grave. I never mentioned my marriage, even
to my father, but accounted for my absence and my silence, by saying
that, ashamed to come home after being dismissed, I had gone in a
merchant vessel to India, and had there been taken prisoner by the
Lootees, a species of banditti, while on an excursion inland. My tale
was easily believed; to please my father, I married again. The sister of
good Mrs. Ally, my second wife, was a good and kind woman, and after the
birth of my daughter Mary, I again hoped for happiness. Vain hope. The
malice of the De Montford family was again let loose upon me. Your
grandfather was dead. I knew nothing of the events that had occurred
during my absence, and supposed that his first wife had died in Italy,
and her son also. But the countess had found among her husband's papers,
so I suppose, at least, for on this point I am uninformed, something
which threw light upon the past, and, supposing that I knew of the
existence of your father resolved on removing me. I was fond of
shooting, and one day shot a hare in a distant part of the manor. I had
been watched, by her orders, and a charge of poaching was instituted
against me. Her son was absent then, upon his murderous errand, as I
afterwards knew. I was tried on a charge of poaching; the game laws were
severe; the justice was her creature, and despite the entreaties of my
father, and the tears of my wife, I was condemned to transportation for
seven years.'

A bitter sneer was curling on the young man's lip; the mariner's face
had resumed its stern expression. 'The details of my escape from Botany
Bay are unimportant. Suffice it, that I once more reached America, and
devoted my energies to tracing the fate of my child. In Savannah I was
fortunate enough to meet with the attendant of your grandmother. She had
accompanied a family of refugees from European disturbances, and from
her I learned not only what I have told you already--but that my
daughter had been married, and that her husband was no other than the
son of her old mistress and your father!'

The young man threw his hands towards heaven and fell on his knees.

'O Thou, whose ways are inscrutable, blessed be thy name, for out of
darkness thou hast brought light, and turned the misdeeds of the guilty
upon themselves, and made the promptings of nature yearn in the heart of
the orphan boy towards the father of my mother.'

He fell upon the old man's neck and sobbed. Such emotions are no
disgrace to manhood. The mariner strained him to his heart, and it was
some time ere the emotion of both had subsided sufficiently to enable
the one to ask or the other to give further explanation. At length the
mariner resumed. 'From this woman, who had recognised your father by a
peculiar mark on his hand, I learned that she had kept the papers of
your grandmother and the locket, and gave them to your father; but he
treated them as fabulous, and her as an impostor. Your mother, however,
gave credence to her tale, and even consulted a lawyer; but they were
not sufficient without my evidence, and your father would not take any
steps in the affair. Your mother kept her as an attendant till her own
death, but your uncle must have heard from some source of the existence
of his brother; and after his death, which happened in battle at sea, he
tried to induce the widow to give up these papers. Failing in this, by a
large sum of money he tempted your nurse to poison her, and possessed
himself of them, representing himself as her husband's brother, but
concealing his rank. She was also to make away with you; but repenting
of the murder of your mother, she concealed you for some time in a
distant part of the State, but he discovered her and sold her to a
Tennessee planter. It was but this year I succeeded in tracing her, and
finding her almost at the point of death, got these facts from her,
regularly drawn up and witnessed. I bought her freedom first to enable
her to give evidence, and soon after her earthly account was closed.
Violetta D'Arista, your grand-mother's faithful attendant, gave me a
clue by which I traced you; and she is now in London, anxious to fold
you to her breast, and to aid you as far as in her power, to restore to
you your birthright and inheritance.'

'And the papers?'

'If not destroyed, are in his possession.'

'Then I can obtain them, although he has had, as he thinks, all the
subterranean passages stopped up, yet there remains one, by which I can
penetrate to his very bed-room unseen, although a stout man could not.'
The seaman mused. 'It would be dangerous. Your uncle is a brave man, and
powerful. If he awoke--and such consciences must be bad sleeping
companions, you would be sacrificed.'

'I fear not--for vengeance on my mother's murderer I would dare
anything.'

'It must not be, young man. You have a sacred duty to perform, more
binding far than vengeance, which is the Lord's alone. You have to heal
the sorrows of those who will be in a great measure dependent upon you
to redress the wrongs of years of oppression, to be a father to the
tenants of your wide domain, and your life must not be idly risked.'

'I have it!' said Edward, eagerly. 'You say my father was fair-haired,
and I am like my mother.'

The seaman took a miniature from his vest, and handed it to him. It
contained two portraits--one of a captain in the British navy, in full
uniform, his head bare, and locks of fair hair falling even over his
shoulders, for he had disdained the peruke then in fashion--and that of
a lady, whose dark eyes and raven ringlets told that her nativity had
been the sunny south.

'Johnson is not unlike the portrait of my father, and is a slim man,'
said Edward. 'He will readily go with me. I will personate my mother. I
am confident the papers are not destroyed, for I have often seen him
when he little dreamed an eye was upon him, examining some papers he
keeps in a small casket on his toilet, and one in particular, a document
of some length, which he has often seemed to me about to tear, but
always replaced.'

'It will do,' said his grandfather. 'Good Mrs. Ally will procure you the
necessary attire. She can be trusted fully, and I will reconcile her and
Johnson, so that we can all work in concert. Those papers secured, with
the evidence of Violetta and the dying deposition of your nurse, with
the evidence of the lady who took charge of your mother, and who is also
alive and in London, I doubt not soon to see you in the enjoyment of
your rights. It will be a strange anomaly--an American a British peer.'

'And then, dear grandfather, you will allow me to repay you, in a small
measure, by my affection and care of your declining years, for all the
anxiety you have endured in securing my interests.'

'Not to me, young man, not to me. My lot on earth is cast. I am here a
fugitive, in danger of a felon's doom. I shall return to honest, plain
America, and there devote the remainder of my life to succoring the poor
and afflicted. Do you likewise here, remembering that you are but the
steward of your wealth. Let the former oppressions of your house be
forgotten in your good deeds. Let your voice be heard in the high court
of which you will be a member, whenever the artizan and the laborer need
a defender from the foul enactments that are there consummated. Let your
passions be subjected to the control of religion and morality--let no
avaricious knave oppress the hard-toiling farmer in your name, but see
to these things yourself. Let your ear be easy of access, and your heart
be open, and then, my Lord, I shall be more than repaid, you will have
had a nobler vengeance than any man could give you, and will earn in
truth a right to bear the proud motto which your fathers arrogated to
themselves, emblazoned, not on your escutcheon, but in the hearts of
grateful men--

"_Second to none in deeds of charity._"'




CHAPTER VIII.

THE END OF TWO VICTIMS.


Walter Waters, or Captain Williams, as he called himself now, and in
fact He had come to England ostensibly as the commander of a trading
vessel, had determined to effect the escape of Horace Hunter. That his
own plans might not be disarranged by any violence towards the Earl, he
had on an accidental meeting in the West Indies promised Hunter a more
full revenge if he waited for three years; and feeling that his capture
had in some measure been owing to his appointment, he revolved in his
mind many plans for his rescue. His trial had taken place, and as the
evidence was conclusive, he was condemned to death. As his friends were
now permitted to see him, Walter with his daughter to whom and his
father he had made himself known in private, although he still stopped
at Mrs. Ally's when not in London, obtained permission to visit the
doomed man. Who shall attempt to portray the feelings of Mary Waters, as
in company with the parent so long mourned as dead, she set forth to
hold the last communication on earth with him to whom the treasure of
her young love had been given. Joy at once more beholding her father
mingled in painful intensity with her heart's desolation when she
contemplated the fearful position of her lover; and to her father's
assurances of rescuing him, of reclaiming him and of their union and a
happy life in America, she only replied by a mournful feature, and
pointing to her own emaciated form and hectic cheek. Her beauty had now
assumed an almost unearthly character. The lustre of her dark blue eye
and deathly paleness of her cheek told indeed her race was nearly run.
As they all stood together in the steward's house on the morning of
their visit, they formed a strange and touching group. The bowed figure
of the aged man whose life had been prolonged so far beyond the usual
term of man's existence, the strong form of the mariner, whose vigor was
unabated although near sixty, and the wasted figure and sharpened
features of his daughter, who though scarce more than past the threshold
of womanhood, was yet closer to the dread abyss of eternity than either.
The old steward looked wistfully after them as they passed out into the
wintry air.

Hunter's passion for drink, his remorse for the officer's death, his
burning thirst for vengeance, and his own sense of self-abasement--all
conspired to add to the fever of his brain; and when Walter and his
daughter were admitted to his cell, it was a gibbering maniac that
rushed forward to meet them. Walter removed his fainting daughter from
the appalling spectacle, and returned with a sickening heart and
terrible forebodings. The shades of evening had given place to bright
moonlight ere they reached the castle. The driver used his utmost speed,
but the snow hindered their progress, and just as they arrived at the
castle gates, the horses swerved violently, and starting to the side of
the road, stood snorting with terror. Walter sprang out, and in the
momentary strength caused by the excitement, his daughter followed him.
The Earl with some companions rode up at the moment of seeing the
carriage stopped; but a more ghastly obstacle obstructed their path--for
there in the snow drift at the gates of the mansion where her seducer
lived in splendor, lay the corpse of the once fair, gentle, and
accomplished Ellen Hunter.

The Earl gazed upon the body of his victim for a moment, and even his
callous heart was touched. It was evanescent, however, for on one of his
companions asking in a tone of coarse buffoonery, if he was
contemplating that frozen carrion with a view to ornamenting his hall
with it as a statue, he replied in the same strain, and was turning his
horse's head towards the gate, when he was arrested by the stern voice
of the mariner.

'Blasphemer, peace! Add not insult to the fearful injury you have
committed to that poor piece of clay! Man of the marble heart, your
career is near its close! This is not the only one of your crimes that
has resulted in death. There arises from the earth in South Carolina a
voice that calls for vengeance on her murderer. The child you thought
without a friend, whom you hoped would perish unknown, is even now
preparing to assert his rights, and drive you, titled bastard as you
know yourself to be, from your usurped position. Your agents have
confessed, and nothing can save you from the merited punishment of your
crimes. Repent, weep tears of penitence over this poor form, and make
your peace with God. You have but little time left ere man's justice
will claim you as its due.' He replaced his daughter in the carriage,
and lifting the body of poor Ellen as tenderly as if it had been a
child, placed it inside, and thus the dying and the dead departed.

At headlong speed the Earl reached his mansion, galled to madness. He
pondered long and deeply who the mysterious seaman could be, but could
arrive at no satisfactory conclusion; but reflecting that he still
possessed the only papers which could be produced in support of the
claimant of his title, he became more collected, and resolved first to
destroy the documents, and then to devise means for getting rid of the
obnoxious seaman, and also of his nephew, if he dared to press his
claim. Somewhat relieved by these considerations, he entered into an
explanation with his friends, spoke of the seaman as a harmless maniac,
and succeeded in calming the irritation of their wounded pride.

But he could not calm the raging tumult of his own heart--he had entered
into preliminary engagements for a marriage with the daughter of a house
as haughty as his own. His mother's fame would suffer, not that he cared
one jot for any abstract idea of virtue, and she had been sinless in
that at least, for she knew not that her husband had another wife. He
had been offered by the king, and had accepted a high confidential
mission to a foreign power, and now when every proud wish of his heart
seemed to be gratified, to be threatened with the loss of all--and more,
to be subjected to the vulgar gaze as a murderer--death he felt were
better. He drank deeply, which was not his usual custom, and to conceal
his feelings affected a wild gaiety, which, however, failed in deceiving
his companions. Midnight had long passed when he retired to his chamber,
harassed and jaded by the efforts he had made to preserve appearances,
and still more irritated by the wine he had drank. A vague feeling of
horror moreover began to steal over him. He looked out upon the
moonlight and drew his head in with a shudder, for he fancied--it was
but fancy, that he saw a body lying upon the ground. He tried to nerve
himself to the task of destroying the documents, but could not bring
himself to touch the casket. At length he opened the casket; a deep
groan seemed to issue from it. The long low musical laugh he had heard
before sounded in the room. The next moment he hardened himself and
began to read them over. They consisted of the letters mentioned before,
his father's marriage certificate, and the addition of a still more
important document--a statement drawn up by his father a little before
his death, in which he acknowledged Captain Piercy, the name his son had
been known by, prayed for forgiveness for the wrong he had done his
mother, and fully acknowledged his marriage with the fair Italian. This
was the document which had led the countess to persecute Captain
Williams, and her son to murder his brother's widow. He read them slowly
through, and taking them in his hand walked towards the fireplace; he
was about to cast them in, when the same low mocking voice sounded so
close him--he turned and beheld an appalling spectacle. The picture of
his own mother, that had occupied a large compartment of the room, had
entirely disappeared, although but the instant before he had seen
it--and in its place appeared the figures of a man in a full dress naval
uniform, and a lady in the costume of the one he had murdered in distant
America. He gave one wild shriek and fell senseless on the floor. To
seize the papers was to Edward, whom our readers will easily guess to
have personated the lady, but the work of a moment; he regained the
panel and swung it to just as the domestics were hurrying up; not
however before he had fixed upon the toilet with a penknife of the
Earl's, a paper with the word "doomed!" in large characters traced upon
it.




CHAPTER IX.

THE AGENT'S PUNISHMENT.


The village bells tolled mournfully, and the stout farmers looked with
Saddened faces at each other on the morning which was to consign to
earth the remains of Mary Waters. Matrons held their aprons to their
eyes as they followed the melancholy procession. She was laid by her own
request in the same grave with Ellen Hunter. The old clergyman who had
loved her as his daughter, faltered as he read the solemn words, "I am
the resurrection and the life," and when the ceremony was concluded,
there was not an eye that was not filled with tears. When the old
steward heard the earth fall upon the coffin lid, his frame was seen to
quiver, he fell forward, and his spirit had departed. They laid him by
the side of his grand daughter the next day; and it was soon ascertained
that he had left the bulk of his savings to the poor children of
Johnson, and that Mrs. Alice Goodfellow was appointed sole executrix.

Rumors now began to circulate about the Earl--a claim had been laid in
due form by Edward--and the tumult which raged in his heart was
indescribable. Yet he dared to think of vengeance, and swore an oath to
have the heart's blood of those who had humbled him. As he approached
the house of the agent he determined to ask his aid in carrying out his
schemes. Mr. Lambert, however, had no intention of being dragged down
into the vortex, and received him coldly.

'This is not the reception I expected, Mr. Lambert.'

'I beg your pardon sir.'

Sir!--how the word grated on the ear, that had been accustomed to 'my
lord,' and that in the humblest tone; 'I merely wish to intimate, Mr.
Lambert, when it is your gracious pleasure to listen, that I want a word
or two with you.' He spoke in his old sneering tone; the other, who from
habit, remained standing in his presence, bowed; but he did not answer a
word. 'Since you cannot, or will not speak--hear one thing; for your
interest is thereby affected; and that I suppose will reach you--do you
suppose, that those who have attacked the master, will let the servant
escape. Will not even the great Mr. Lambert, be required to give an
account of his stewardship; when so humble an individual as myself, has
been deemed worthy of notice?'--he bowed with mock humility. 'My
accounts are prepared to undergo the strictest investigation. My--sir--'
said the agent, recovering his self possession the instant business was
mentioned, 'both as regards the estate and personal account, my balances
are correct--that of the estate which yet remains unsettled I am ready
to account for to--the proper parties--' (he substituted for the new
Earl's name which rose to his lips,) 'the small balance on the personal
account which is in my favour, I shall be happy to take your note
for--properly endorsed.' The man of business had been so occupied with
the figures he was running up in his mind, that he had failed to observe
the gathering storm on his companion's brow; he had been so used to hold
down his head while speaking to his patron, that even now he could not
forego the habit; but the last word had not passed his lips fully--ere
the earl rose from his seat, and seizing the heavy brass lamp upon the
table between them, struck the unfortunate man a tremendous blow with
it, which prostrated him to the floor; smashing in a portion of his
skull, and inflicting a mortal wound; the agent groaned and lay
senseless; the servants rushed to the scene on hearing the fall, but the
furious appearance of the murderer terrified them, particularly as he
still held in his hand the weapon he had used; he burst through them,
and mounting his horse at the door, fled as though pursued by all the
fiends of hell.




CHAPTER X.

RETRIBUTION.


Regardless of the wintry storm, the murderer spurred on the noble animal
he rode; he had no purpose in the flight, he had arranged no plan of
escape; unused to act for himself, his movements were all uncertainty:
now he reined in his horse, and listened as if for pursuers, but none
came: now fancying he heard the mocking laugh he had so often heard, he
dashed forward, as if the furies were behind him; the storm meanwhile
increased in its violence, he felt it not; the warfare of the elements
was calmness to the tumult of his heart; he looked up to the heavens,
but there on the edge of every lurid cloud, he saw it, he saw them; not
one but hundreds: maidens with stony blue eyes, all glaring upon him; he
looked upon the earth, a gibbering madman was running by his side,
howling and hooting in the wind; now so near as almost to touch him: now
hundreds of yards away, but always the same; behind him with his ghastly
mangled head, came the form of his last victim, forward! forward! while
the crashing thunder pealed above his head; he shook his impious hand
against the sky, and still darted onward, till the horse stopped,
snorting on the beach; and there as the great sea, rolled in foaming and
turgid, there, he saw it plain in yon glare of livid lightning, on the
crest of every curling wave, a dark haired lady lay, glaring at him with
eyes that looked like coals of fire; a monster wave came rolling in, and
the frightened horse turned, and seizing the bit between his teeth sped
homeward, but still he saw them in the clouds behind, before, beckoning
to him, calling to him, in the voice of the great wind; on, on, towards
the castle gates, he looked up to the battlements; they were there, on
every turret's top, on every pointed arch, from every window, visible to
him, as though it had been bright daylight he saw them. The horse unable
to check his momentum dashed against the castle gates, and falling over
crushed him in its fall; and there on the very spot where one of his
victims had lain in the sleep of death, there lay the mangled and now
dying man, mingling his blood with that of the expiring animal. Day
dawned, and when the red sun rose, it shone upon a corpse; the storm had
ceased, but the wind had blown the snow from off it, and the laborer who
found the body, rushed from the spot in terror at the horrible
expression of the dead man's face.




CHAPTER XI.

CONCLUSION.


Three years have passed away,--the young Earl has arrived at age, and is
coming to take possession of his domains--after finishing his education
at Oxford; great preparation has been made to welcome him. Foremost on
the occasion is Mrs. Alice Goodfellow, and as their Lord's reputed aunt
for so many years, she is a person of no small importance:--still
single, but beginning to think of settling now, as her glass gives
awkward reflections,--but still balancing the claims of her admirers,
though she does give color to the report of shewing a preference for the
sturdy blacksmith;--by her side, smartly dressed, are gamboling about
the young Johnsons, while their father, in a respectable suit of black,
marshals the somewhat unruly procession of maidens and youths chosen to
receive the young Earl. He is now the steward, (agent is a name he
wisely discards,) and a great man, but young girls and boys from sixteen
to twenty have a trick of paying no attention to the wisdom of their
elders, and he is sorely put to it to maintain order. Spring has planted
her fair feet upon the daisied green, and a huge May-Pole has been
erected, as in the olden time, an ox is roasted whole upon the lawn,
tables are spread out under the shade of the great elms and sturdy oaks,
foaming barrels of mighty ale, such as Guy of Warwick drank, ere he
encountered the dun cow, are seen with taps ready in them,--the children
are dancing round the May-Pole in wild glee,--and now a scout posted on
a rising ground comes tearing towards them as though life and death
defended on his speed,--the carriage is coming,--a cheer arises,--it has
passed the gates, and is coming up the avenue. Johnson is full of
nervous excitement, the maidens cease giggling and pinching and all
those endearing little amusements, the young men try to look solemn and
only succeed in causing a burst of laughter from the sly girls, some of
whom draw down their faces in imitation. They are nervous, too--what if
the great man should see their dresses in disorder, and he a young man,
too; the elder matrons and the farmers stand nearest the house, all is
expectation, he has come, the carriage has stopped at the very extremity
of the line, a cheer, thrice repeated, peals through the air, as he
descends from the carriage, and it is a heartfelt one, for this they
know has been among themselves, and shared their hopes and fears. He is
followed by Captain Williams, in the full uniform of an American Naval
Officer; he is whiter headed than when we saw him last, but he looks
able to wrestle any man upon the ground, a cheer bursts forth for him
also, though none recognize in him aught but the brave sailor who had
shown such sympathy at the grave of Mary Waters. They are received by
the Curate, Mr. Johnson, the Lawyer and the Clerk. The young Earl waves
his hand, and every door and window, in the spacious edifice is thrown
open. With a kind word for every one, a merry joke with one fair maiden,
and a laughing glance at another, a cheerful nod to the young men, and a
hearty shake of the hand to the old, and as he decorously salutes each
old matron on the cheek, he fairly rushes into the arms of his quondam
aunt, who nearly goes into hysterics with joy, (which would have been
awkward, as she is stout, and has laced some,) so she thinks better of
it, and cries over him, which does just as well. Such a shout arises as
makes the very welkin ring. He stops upon the top-most step, Capt.
Williams and the others by his side. Every sound is hushed as he speaks.
'It is not outside, my friends, whom I hope I may never give reason to
regret this day. It is not outside of my halls that I can give you
thanks for my reception. There is no room in my house in which you are
not freely welcome, this night, and to him who will not accept the call
of the Earl de Montford, I will send poor Edward Barnett. Ten years from
this day, if such of you as are spared, and I am one, will meet me here
again, I will render to you an account of my stewardship, and then if
you can raise again the cheers with which you have this day greeted me,
poor Edward Barnett will be more than rewarded for his trials, and the
Count de Montford the happiest of his race.' The glorious sun shone full
upon his manly form and handsome features, and as cheer upon cheer
arose, not one that looked upon his open truthful countenance, feared he
would not redeem his promise, or disgrace the proud motto emblazoned on
the banners that waved high above his head on the battlements;--Nulli
Secundi,--Second to none.




POSTSCRIPT.

THE AUTHOR TO THE READER.


Gentle reader! if thou hast been interested in this tale of human hopes
and fears--of stern retribution on the wicked, if thou hast shed a tear
over the fate of the gentle and the good--thou wilt perhaps be anxious
to know more of him, who at the close of our tale, we left--in life's
young morning brightness--with wealth and power to aid in his path. Did
he fall from his high estate, did prosperity dim the lustre of his
promise, (and methinks some gentle maiden asks, how sped he in his
love.) If thou hast borne with our tediousness, and hast not
fainted--fear not, we will inflict upon thee yet more.

  What all thy tediousness on me? (_Leonato_)

  Yes, please your worship. (_Dogberry_.)

If thou hast been disgusted at the gloomy record, and kicked the book
from thee,--Why then farewell, so end the hopes of poor

TOBY ACONITE,

E SCRIBE.



***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK EDWARD BARNETT; A NEGLECTED CHILD OF
SOUTH CAROLINA, WHO ROSE TO BE A PEER OF GREAT BRITAIN,--AND THE STORMY
LIFE OF HIS GRANDFATHER, CAPTAIN WILLIAMS***


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