liilimmimm k\tmitmM'\m.^ \ i ii
L 1 B RAR.Y
U N IVER.5ITY
AUTHOR OF " FOLLY MORRISON," ETC.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON,
NEW BURLINGTON STREET,
Right of Translation Reserved.
THE THIRD VOLUME,
I.— Ill Tidings 1
IL— Dr. Blandly in Stanhope Street . . 21
III. — Lady Betty reaches a Turning Point . 30
IV.— A Friend in Need 54
v.— Gerard Talbot . . . . . 68
YI.— The Taming of Mrs. Baxter ... 93
VII.— Lady Betty's Visit 109
VIII.— Brother and Sister . ... . .129
IX.— In Tom's Place 143
X. — Barnabas and his Court . . . .159
XL— The Meeting of Old Friends. . . .175
XIL— Flight and Pursuit 194
Xni.— Quick and Dead . . . . .209
XIV.— Pandora's Box . . . . . .222
XV.— Gerard Turns his Face to the Wall . 233
XVI.— The Omen 245
XVIL— A Sturdy Rogue 259
XVIIL— Farewell 269
XIX.— In the Library 279
XX. — " Greater Love hath no Man than this,
that a Man lay down his Life for his
RS. WALKER stood in her
drawing-room arranging the
ribbons of her elegant bonnet
before a glass. Lady Betty sat near a
window working at a strip of em-
" Once more, Lady Betty, will you
accompany me?" asked Mrs. Walker.
" Once more, Felicia, and at the risk
of being thought ungrateful, no."
" 'Twill be the best and genteelest
entertainment of the season."
" I hope you will enjoy it. You shall
tell me all about it to-morrow; that will
increase your pleasure."
" You can change your dress in half an
hour, and I shall wait willingly."
"Why do you press me? 'Tis a
waste of sweetness, like singing to the
" It has been said that my singing
would cure the drowsy of their weakness.
If I thought my powers of persuasion
were equally potent I would not tire until
I had cured you."
" Why should you take such pains ?"
" Because your symptoms are grave,
and gravity of any sort is repugnant to
'' Is there no season when it becomes
one to be grave ?"
" Yes ; but happily the season does not
set in before forty." Mrs. "Walker seated
*' You will be late, Felicia."
" No ; tlie invitation was for four, and
'tis only on the stroke of six. I think I
shall set the fashion of stating the hour
at which an entertainment is to close
instead of that at which it should com-
mence. 'Twould be more reasonable."
" Then for your own sake do nothing of
the sort ; for if you are suspected of
being reasonable you will certainly be
convicted of being unfashionable."
'' Ah me ! Your case is very bad indeed,' '
sighed Mrs. Walker. " How long do
you think it will be. Lady Betty, before
you smile again?"
'' I cannot say ; for the sake of appear-
ances I hope I shall not smile again —
before I find something to smile at."
" My dear, T know the secret of your
gravity and sarcasm, and shall take upon
myself to give you a lecture. You are
thinking about that ill-mannered young
gentleman, Mr. Tom Talbot."
*' I do not know any ill-mannered gentle-
man of that name."
'' Well, we will not call him a gentleman,
if the definition is incorrect — this highly-
respectable barbarian who was called to
order by our friend Gerard Crewe for
" Who told you that ?" asked Lady
'' No one. I drew my conclusion,
which seems to be correct, from the fact
that neither you nor Mr. Crewe would
give me any information of what occurred
in the library when the challenge was
given. Our barbarian does not conceal
his faults, and we can imagine how he
would misbehave himself if his untamed
passions were provoked. The offence
was so unpardonable that Mr. Crewe
found it necessary to punish liim. At that
moment you had every reason to be
satisfied. Your affront was about to be
avenged ; a well-bred gentleman under-
took to risk his life as your champion,
and make you the talk of society, and the
envy of your friends. But with strange
perversity you closed your eyes to the
advantages of your position, and lost
your senses as completely as Ophelia. To
be sure you didn't drown yourself ; but
that was no fault of yours, you got as
wet as you could. When the result of
the meeting was known, your joy was
almost as terrible as your fears had
been. Altogether, for about twenty-four
hours you suffered as much romantic
emotion as the heroine of a tragedy — and
for whom ? For the gentleman who
risked his life for your honour — who
spared his rival for your sake — who
waits upon you day by day with
untiring devotion — whose generous love,
unencouraged by a single smile, un-
rewarded by one word of acknowledge-
ment, seeks constantly to gratify your
unexpressed desires — who bears with you
patiently in your womanly follies and
caprice, and takes your passive tolerance
as the guerdon of his affection — a gentle-
man, handsome, well-bred, and gracious
— was it in his peril you suffered — in his
safety you rejoiced? No. 'Twas for a
man the very opposite of him — a man
rough and rude as the savage from the
woods, intolerant and unappreciative, a
tyrant who would be a slave, a slave who
would be a tyrant; a barbarian, who
having offended does not seek forgiveness,
who having frightened you to desperation,
values your sympathy so little that he
leaves you in despair and allows his rival
to relieve your fears "
" You exaggerate to extravagance."
" I deny it. Who was it came to
tranquilise jour mind after the meeting —
the man you loved or the man that loved
" Gerard does not love me in the sense
that you imply. He is my friend simply."
'' And mine also ; but if he paid me
the same attention my husband would not
be jealous without a cause. What ex-
travagance can you prove against me ? Is
it not the bare truth that from the day he
affronted you, Mr. Talbot has not once
called upon you?"
" I forbade — that is — it was my wish
that he should cease to visit me."
" I do not take obedience as a proof of
love, nor you either. Tell me candidly
why you have refused invitations since the
meeting; why you have stayed within
doors from morning until night ; why you
start when you hear a visitor arrive ; and,
lastly, tell me why you are sitting by that
open window ? You are silent — your con-
science tells you that you expect liim to
" My conscience tells me nothing of the
sort. You are quite wrong, Felicia."
" Then why do you refuse to accom-
pany me this afternoon ? Be candid,
Lady Betty — you owe me an explanation.
You will find me more indulgent as a
confidant than as a successful incjuisitor,
and I assure you I never suffer my
curiosity to rest unsatisfied."
" 'Tis not fear of ridicule that makes
me reticent," said Lady Betty, after a
few moments of thoughtful silence.
" But on some subjects we differ so
completely that it is useless to discuss
them— and painful also when one feels
deeply. However, I will not suffer my
reserve to reduce you to the unamiable
task of examming into the secrets of your
" Tliank you, my dear," Mrs. Walker
replied, with a graceful bow.
" I do love Mr. Talbot. I love bim
witli all my heart. You would like to
know why. It is a question I have
hardly asked myself. I admire him for
those very barbaric qualities that you
deprecate, perhaps for qualities that you
have not recognised, and would not admire
if you did."
'' I should hke to know them all the
" Strength of heart, fidelity, trust "
" Et cetera. He has no fault, I
" Xone that time will not remove."
" Well, thank the stars you may out-
live him by a dozen years. Go on,
" There is no act of his that I cannot
" Even to his late neo^lect ?"
lo ILL TIDINGS.
" 'Tis not neglect, but the faithful execu-
tion of a plan which we conceived necessary
to my happiness. I acknowledge that
after the duel I hoped he would break
through his resolution and come to me ;
now I rejoice that he was stronger than
" I see. It is the fear that he may yet
succumb which makes you so anxious
when a knock at the door announces a
visitor ; and you refuse to leave the
house in order that you may not lose
the opportunity of reprimanding him for
his error if he should come, hey ?"
" No. I do not expect him, nor
hope " She stopped abruptly as the
sound of a voice upon the stairs reached
Mrs. Walker laughed lightly and kept
her eyes fixed on Lady Betty's anxious
face. The door opened, and the servant
'' Mr. G-erard Crewe."
A ray of satisfaction lit np Lady
Betty's face, much to the perplexity of
Gerard entered, went through the form
of salutation mechanically, and took a seat
in silence. Lady Betty felt that she was
being watched, and took up the embroi-
dery in her trembling fingers. Unusually
constrained and ill at ease, Gerard fixed
his eyes on her for a moment, dropped
them, raised them again, without opening
his lips. Highly amused with a fancied
discovery, Mrs. Walker after contemplating
the two friends for some moments, rose,
saying with a malicious smile :
" Mr. Crewe, you will forgive me, I am
sure, if I leave you to the entertainment
of Lady Betty." Then crossing to Lady
Betty, she said a few words of farewell,
and bending down to kiss her, added in a
" I understand now wliy you do not
wish Mr. Talbot to return. You are a
more consummate coquette than I thought.
May the best man win, dear."
Gerard closed the door after Mrs.
Walker, and took a seat near Lady Betty,
" My mission has taken me longer than
I expected, and I have only painful news to
" Painful news ?" murmured Lady
Betty, as if uncertain of what she heard.
" You must summon your fortitude to
hear that which my tongue must falter to
'' Tom is ill !" She rose quickly and
threw aside her work, as though prepared
to go at once to the relief of the man she
" It is not illness. Sit down, Lady
Betty, unfortunately you can do nothing
to lessen the calamity."
ILL TIDINGS. 13
" That word is ill-cliosen, if he is not
ill. Tell me what has happened without
hesitation. I am prepared for painful
news. You have not found Tom, or he has
left England — but that is not a calamity
and I can hear worse than that bravely."
" A misfortune that leaves us hope is
to be borne "
Lady Betty interrupted him ; laying her
hand upon his arm, and speaking scarcely
above her breath, she asked :
'' Is Tom dead ?"
" We can only hope that is he not."
" Ah, you are trying to break the fall
of this blow. You are concealing the
truth from me. I know all ; I read it in
your trembling lips and pitying eye — Tom
is dead. My poor fond Tom is lost to me
for ever. Be merciful and tell me the
truth with cruel words that my heart may
break with the shock."
" Be calm — there is hope."
14 ILL TIDINGS.
" Ob, God bless jou for that word, you
good friend— dear Gerard ! What a
foolish girl am I to think the worst at a
mere word ; scold me, Gerard, for my
" My poor child— there is hope, but it
is so slight "
'' That it were better there was none !
True. Why should we encourage a
fearful suspense. Let us realise the truth
at once and not believe the fact. Tom is
dead, is he not?"
'' It may be best to think so, indeed."
Lady Betty fixed her eyes upon Gerard
in a bewilderment of agony, and was
silent for a moment, then taking his hand
between hers she said in low reproach :
" Oh Gerard — we loved each other, we
two — Tom with his whole heart, and I
with mine, and love is more than life. For
two to die is nothing, but for me to live
and lose, is terrible. Think, 1 lost my
mother but two months since, would you
add to that loss a greater still ? Tell me,
he is not dead — cheat my senses for a
little while with seeming truths. I am
simple and easily beguiled. You shake
your head, and yet you profess to love me.
Can you see me suffer, and offer no word
of consolation — I do not weep, but I
suffer here — here at my heart, beating-
slow and leaden as though the life had
gone out with the love he planted there.
Pity me ! give me a word of comfort, for
I cannot cry. You have tears in your
eyes, and suffer too but not as I do. Say
a word to me, no matter what — but do
not look at me in silent sorrow, so."
" I will tell you all that has happened,
and you shall use your woman's wit to
catch the rays of hope."
" Yes, yes — I will listen calmly and
patiently— tell me all, leave not a word
unsaid. Hide nothing, be the facts ever
i6 ILL TIDINGS.
SO ghastly. Women are strong in scenes
of terror, and do not shudder to look upon
a gaping wound that they may find the
means to heal."
'' I will tell you faithfully all that has
occurred since I left you on Tuesday. I
knew that if anyone could tell me where
to find our friend Tom it would be Dr.
Blandly, and I went first to Edmonton
where he lives. There I learnt that the
Doctor had left home hastily and gone to
Talbot Hall in Kent, on business of urgent
importance. I followed him and arrived
at Talbot Hall the same night. Doctor
Blandly was in deep distress, for Tom
who has been staying at the Hall since
we last saw him, was missing, and up to
that moment no trace of him found. On
Wednesday afternoon, he left the Hall to
dine with a friend at Maidstone. Late at
night, as the steward's daughter was
watching at her window, Tom's mare ran
ILL TIDINGS. 17
up riderless to the lodge gate. Her knees
were cut, and her saddle wet. The
steward started off at once to make inqui-
ries at Maidstone, and found that Tom had
left his friend about ten o'clock. As soon
as it was light a search was begun. The
steward took the first London coach and
sought Doctor Blandly. When he arrived,
a few hours before me, nothing had been
discovered. While he was telling me this,
the steward returned to the Hall bringing
with him Tom's hat, which had been
found in a sluice some distance below
Maidstone. It was conjectured then that
he had followed the upper bank of the
river, and in attempting to ford it had
been carried away by the force of the
" But he could swim. He was master
of all manly exercises. Oh ! I know he
is safe ! Why do you despair ? — for you
do : your face tells me so."
VOL. III. 41
i8 ILL TIDINGS.
" Yesterday morning as soon as it was
light, tlie search was recommenced. The
keeper of the bridge-gate believed that a
gentleman on horse had crossed the
bridge at ten, and while some explored
the path below the bridge, where poor
Tom's hat had been found, others
examined the tow-path which leads on the
lower side of the river towards a bye-road
communicating with the neighbourhood
of Talbot Hall. It was there that we
found new traces. There was a broken
cord upon the posts of an old gateway.
On the river bank beside it were the
marks of a horse's hoofs, and a little
further on the reeds were crushed and
broken, foot-prints were upon the bank,and
a trail by the rushes as though a heavy
body had been drawn over the soft mud."
" That showed that he had drawn him-
self from the water."
*' I fear not— the herbage and rushes
ILL TIDINGS. 19
were depressed and matted in the yielding
clay towards the water, and not from it."
" Then what do you conclude ?"
" A week or ten days since Tom was
shot at in a wood; and it is only too
greatly to be feared that the same mur-
derous hand stretched the cord across the
path which threAV Tom's mare, and after-
wards dragged his lifeless body into the
" Oh, Heavens ! What else have you
'' Nothing. We found no more."
" You only confirm my despair. You
leave me no space for hope."
" One fact alone forbids despair ; we
have not found Tom's body. The river
has been dragged between the place
where he was thrown, and the sluice
where his hat was discovered, without
result. It is possible that he was only
stunned by the fall from his mare,
20 ILL TIDINGS.
and restored to consciousness by the
immersion in the river he saved himself
by swimming to the bank."
'' Why that is more than possible — it
must be so/'
" But he has not returned to the Hall.
And we have inquired at the inns beside
the river for miles,andno one has seen him."
'^ Then all is lost."
" The current is strong, for the river
has been swollen by the heavy rains of
last week, and our one hope is, that
when consciousness returned to him he
was far down the river. Exhausted, per-
haps hurt, he may be waiting in some
remote cottage until he has sufficient
strength to return to us."
" I pray God it may be so," said Lady
Betty, clasping her hands, and speaking
with all the fervour of her soul.
Gerard bent his head, and added his
silent prayer to hers.
DOCTOR BLANDLY IN STANHOPE STREET.
FORTNIGHT later Doctor
Blandly called at the house in
Stanhope Street, presented his
card, and asked to see Miss Elizabeth St.
Cyr. He was shown into the reception-
room. The Doctor advanced to the
middle of the room, and standing there
looked round him with the curiosity of a
student who has learnt to gauge the
character of people by the things they
use in their every- day life.
" Very elegant, very elegant indeed,"
IN STANHOPE STREET.
said he, running his eye over the furni-
ture and appointments, '' and about as
hideous as the mind of man can con-
He took off his glasses to rub them
before examining the pictures more
closely, and was still polishing them with
his yellow silk handkerchief when the
door opened, and Mrs. Walker entered
" Doctor Blandly, I presume," she said,
with an amiable smile.
The Doctor adjusted his glasses care-
fully upon his nose, looked at Mrs.
Walker attentively, and then answered :
''Yes, that is my name; but unless T
am greatly mistaken in your age, you are
not the young woman I have come to
Unaccustomed to plain speaking, Mrs.
Walker for a moment could not decide
whether to resent or pass over Doctor
IN STANHOPE STREET, , 23
Blandly 's brusquerie ; however, her cu-
riosity to know the object of his visit
induced her to regard him merely as an
'' I am Mrs. Walker, the bosom friend
of Lady Betty, who is now, at my per-
suasion, taking the air, but I expect her
to return shortly." .
" In that case I will wait for Miss St.
Cyr, if you will allow me."
Mrs. Walker made a courteous reply,
and begged her visitor to take a chair.
The Doctor scanned the collection of
chairs, and selecting one from the further
end of the room which seemed more trust-
worthy to sit upon than the rest, he
placed it in front of Mrs. Walker and
seated himself, saying :
" If the frames of your chairs were as
stout as the frames of your pictures,
madam, there would be less danger in
using them for their legitimate purpose ;
24 IN STA NHOPE STREET.
if this room were mine, I would make a
bench of the pictures, and hang up the
chairs to look at."
" You object to elegance. Doctor
" No, madam ; for elegance, as I take
it, is that perfect harmony of one part
with another which we find in Nature's
handiwork; but where is the harmony
between my figure and the chair I sit
upon with trembhng ? 'Tis as if one set
the legs of a gazelle under the body of an
'' You are a humourist, Doctor Blandly."
The Doctor made a stiff bow, took
a pinch of snuff, and showed no inclina-
tion to re-open the conversation. Mrs.
Walker felt that she must either leave
him or come to direct questions.
" May I ask if you have made any dis-
covery relative to poor Mr. Talbot ?" she
IN ST A NHOPE STREET. 25
" None. We have found not a sign
nor trace since the second day of our
Doctor Blandly heaved a sigh, looked
on the ground with raised eyebrows, and
tapped the table with his fingers, while
Mrs. Walker asked herself what could
be the object of his visit to Lady
" I am naturally very deeply interested
in the unfortunate gentleman, for Lady
Betty was deeply attached to him, and is
inconsolable for his loss."
'' Inconsolable, madam ? and he has
been lost a fortnight !" exclaimed Doctor
Blandly, with awakened interest.
" I assure you 'tis true. I have done
all I could to make her forget him, but
in vain. She refuses to go to the opera,
to Ranelagh, to tea-parties, to routs, and
secludes herself in her own room when I
26 IN STANHOPE STREET.
" T can scarcely understand a friend of
yours being dull to such attractions."
" Yet 'tis the fact," said Mrs. Walker,
acknowledging the compliment with a
bow. " I admit that my patience is almost
'' Such obstinacy would try the patience
of a saint."
'' And 'tis entirely for her own sake
that I use my persuasions. She is wasting
her time, perhaps jeopardiziug her future
happiness, by giving way to these morbid
regrets, which avail nothing. Tears can-
not revive the dead."
" The truest words you ever spoke,
" I am glad to find that you agree with
me. Doctor Blandly."
" I hope you will never find me want-
ing in sense, Mrs. Walker."
Mrs. Walker flirted her fan, and greatly
encouraged by the Doctor's ambiguity.
IN ST A NHOPE STREET. 27
whictL she interpreted as a compliment to
herself, proceeded :
" Lady Betty is in a position to make
an admirable match. She is young,
pretty, and has, it seems, a very useful
little fortune. She might reasonably hope
to marry a young man of title : that was,
I believe, her mother's dying wish, and
the dying wish of a mother should be
observed as a sacred duty, in my opinion ;
what do you think. Doctor ?"
Doctor Blandly considered the sanctity
of a mother's dying wish unquestionable.
" 'Now Mr. Talbot, although possessed
of a good estate, had no title, and his
behaviour in company was most awkward.
He could not conform himself with the
habits of society, and when he tried to
do so he made himself ridiculous. He
had a habit of contradicting people, and
setting them right if they happened to
make errors, which was extremely pro-
28 IN STANHOPE STREET.
yoking, and lie absolutely went to sleep
in his seat during a very elegant per-
formance of an oratorio by amateurs of
distinguished rank. He made no secret
of liis dislike to the modern usages of
London society, and I have nob the
slightest doubt that had he married Lady
Betty he would have taken her away for
nine months out of the twelve, to spend
one half her time in a country Hall where
it was impossible to keep awake, and the
other half in foreign cities, where it
was impossible to go to sleep. And so,
to be quite candid, I must admit that —
for her sake — I am not sorry to hear that
you have not found Mr. Talbot. This
morbid condition is not natural to her,
and if we are fortunate enough to hear
no more of ivir. Talbot, she will soon
recover her health and spirits, and we
may hope to find her a suitable husband
amongst the many admirers she is sure to
IN STANHOPE STREET. 29
find at tlie Wells, where I propose to take
her next month. You don't think it pro-
bable that Mr. Talbot is ahve. Doctor
'' I cannot hope !"
" Nor I, neither. Nothing is further
from my hopes, I assure you, and so let
us trust that we have heard the last of
him, and that he is in a happier world."
" You may rely upon your devout wish
being gratified. If, as you hope, Mr.
Talbot is in a better world than this, rest
assured, madam, that you have seen the
last of him."
LADY EETTY REACHES A TURNING-POINT.
HEN Lady Betty returned from
her drive, she was met Id the
hall by Mrs. Walker.
'' My dear Lady Betty, a gentleman is
waiting to see you."
Lady Betty's heart leaped and her lip
trembled. She had not yet relinquished
the hope that Tom would return to her.
" A gentleman !" she echoed.
" An old gentleman. A perfect original.
A most amusing old quiz, I protest.
A TURNING POINT. 31
" Has he brought me news ?"
'* Not a word. I have been trying for
the last half -hour to discover the object
of his visit, but either he is very stupid
or very ill-mannered, for I could get
nothing out of him. I am inclined to
think from his concluding observations
that he considers himself clever. He is
in the reception-room ; go, my dear, and
see what you can make of him."
Lady Betty opened the door at once,
and found herself for the first time face
to face w^th Doctor Blandly. Her
mother's description of him as he ap-
peared in his gardening dress had led her
to imagine him an untidy, coarse old
man ; it astonished her to find him as
he was — a particularly neat, fair-com-
plexioned, portly gentleman, with a
shapely leg, a handsome satin waistcoat,
a snowy frill, and a well-curled wig.
She made him a low courtesy, which he
32 A TURNING POINT.
acknowledged, and then drawing near the
window, he placed a chair for her in the
light, where he could see her more per-
fectly. She took the seat, and he, bring-
ing his chair directly in front of her,
seated himself, and after looking at her
pale, anxious face for a moment in silence,
'' Your face tells me who you are,
young lady, not from its resemblance to
any face that I have seen, but that it
answers to my expectations, and, let me
add, my hopes. You are the Lady Betty
that poor Tom gave his heart to."
Lady Betty's chin twitched ; she tried
to answer, failed, and dropped her head
upon her bosom as the tears started to
'' Do not speak ; I will do all the
talking for awhile. I am Doctor Blandly.
Give me your hand, so. Let us who were
strangers to each other be friends. Tom
A TURNING POINT, 33
has left a space in our hearts that we
must seek to fill with new affections. He
was dear to me, and I am an old man, but
to you, with younger thoughts and sym-
'' He was my life. I did not know
how dear he was to me. I am like a
child learning to value blessings by their
" 'Tis an unfinished lesson to the
oldest," said Doctor Blandly, gently.
The tone of commiseration touched her to
the heart. His sympathy was the first
she had received. Gerard had sought only
to console her ; Mrs. Walker endeavoured
to reason her out of suffering ; other
friends she had none. She cried freely
now, and Doctor Blandly did not attempt
to restrain her tears. Purposely the old
pathologist lanced her wound, knowing
the relief it would produce, and he
encouraged the outflow of her grief by
VOL. III. 42
34 A TURNING POINT.
gentle words of pity. After awhile her
weeping ended in a long, shuddering sigh,
and she wiped her eyes with a brave
resolve to cry no more. But her soul was
full of gratitude to the pitying Doctor;
she pressed his hands between her moist,
hot palms, and looking in his face won-
dered how any one could mistake him for
a misanthrope and a woman-hater.
" No man who disliked women could
be so womanly tender," she thought;
*' no wonder Tom loved him." Then her
thoughts returned to her lost lover.
"You have brought me no hopeful
news?" she asked, wistfully.
" No, my child ; the news I have to
give you is not good."
'' Has his body been found ?"
" Even that poor consolation is denied
us. It is concluded that he was carried
by the current far down the river, and
that the shore-folk robbed him of his
A TURNING POINT. 35
clothes, and sunk his corpse to avoid
inquiry. We shall never know where he
Lady Betty, sighing, shook her head
and lapsed into a reverie, which Doctor
Blandly did not interrupt. He wished
her to exhaust her present grief before
opening the subject which had brought
him to her.
" No mound of green turf to mark his
resting-place, no spot where one might
cherish flowers to his memory," mur-
" He has your tears. A marble is not
needed to keep his memory sacred in your
'' I do not know, Doctor Blandly, I am
not sure of myself. I wished to die when
I heard that he was dead, but I live.
This morning, though I did not eat, I felt
quite hungry. Perhaps I shall cease to
grieve one day."
36 A TURNING POINT.
" I hope SO ; you are too young and
too healthy to brood long upon your
"But 'tis heartless to forgot the one
" 'Tis evil to repine when nature bids
us smile. Be true to yourself., child ;
weep when you grieve, eat when you are
hungry, laugh when you are pleased.
Leave false sentiment to false people — to
creatures who cumber the earth and do
no good in it ; to fools who cramp their
souls, as the Chinese cramp their feet for
fashion's sake; fools like the woman of
this house here, who could put on a pious
enthusiasm and lay aside her Godless in-
difference if the mode changed."
The Doctor frowned, took out his snuff-
box, and tapped it angrily. Lady Betty
opened her eyes in astonishment at the
rapid transition of his temper.
^ '' Come, I don't wish to frighten you,"
A TURNING POINT. 37
lie said, in a subdued tone, catching the
startled expression on her face. " You
have a rough old doctor to deal with, who
has seen such grievous miseries in the
world that he has lost pity for sham ail-
ments, and those who will not be well.
Your body is weak, probably by fasting
when you should have been eating, and
that accounts for the gloomy hopes of
perpetual sorrow that you wish to en-
courage. Eat and drink, my dear, and sleep
when you may. Be strong and brave to
the utmost of your power, and, above all,
be true to nature and vourself. The
angels shall acquit you of heartlessness,
and your own conscience will be satis-
Then the Doctor took his pinch of
snuff, replaced the box quietly in his
pocket, and dusted himself carefully with
his India handkerchief. Lady Betty
watched the play of his features with
38 A TURNING POINT.
furtive glances, until he fixed his eyes on
her face, and looked at her with troubled
"My dear," said he — ''I have news
for you, concerning your temporal position,
which will give you trouble ; and I am in
hesitation whether to tell you now or to
wait until your health is more robust."
" I can bear to hear anything now.
" Well, then, you shall hear what your
friend Mrs. Walker has been endeavouring
to find out for half an hour and more.
In the first, I presume that you know
nothing of the pecuniary position in
which you were placed at your mother's
" She told me that she had placed her
property in your hands for disposal, and
her attorney sent me a sum of money
about a month since, as a quarterly pay-
ment of the interest arising from it.
A TURNING POINT. 39
That is all I know. After mamma's
death I was too troubled for a time to
think of such trifles, and he — Tom assured
me one day that I need not bestow any-
thought upon the matter."
"If he were living it would still be
unnecessary. Your mamma loved you
very much, my child, but she was not a
wise woman, nor a considerate woman.
It was her dream that she should see you
married to a wealthy husband before she
died. To realise that dream she con-
sidered it necessary to occupy a position
in society which the mere per-centage of
her money could not procure."
" Doctor Blandly — are you obliged to
tell me this?"
" I do not willingly undertake a painful
task ; it is only because I think it neces-
sary that I disclose the fact which others
besides your mother have tried to keep
secret. You cannot accept, without
40 A TURNING POINT.
inquiry a bare statement of the conse-
quences attending your motlier's incon-
siderate act ?"
" Tell me tlie result, and let me question
afterwards if it is necessary."
" When the money you have now is
spent, you will be penniless.
" Penniless," echoed Lady Betty,
unable at once to grasp the meaning of
" You have nothing more to receive. Do
you comprehend all which that implies ?"
"I will try to do so -when my purse
is eaipty I shall have nothing to give the
servant who waits on me; when my
dresses are worn out — if I wish to leave
my friend — if I stay — oh !" she clasped
her bands as she realised that henceforth
she must depend upon hospitality for a
roof and charity for clothes.
" Shall I explain how this comes about?"
asked the Doctor coldly.
A TURNING POINT. 41
" No," she cried with quickened energy.
" If my degradation is due to any act
of my mother's let it be hid for ever."
" E,emember the money was entrusted
to me — a perfect stranger to your
" But not to Tom nor — nor to me. I
am content to accept the result of my
mother's act without questioning her love
or your honour."
Doctor Blandly bowed, but his forehead
lost none of its creases, and he resorted
to his snuff-box for the means of solving
the difficulty before him.
'' I am afraid," said he, '' that you will
not get that inquisitive woman, Mrs.
Walker, to accept the result with your
magnanimity. Miss Betty."
" It is no business of hers."
*' That is precisely my reason for
expecting her to meddle with it to a very
considerable extent. If you know how
42 A TURNING POINT.
to cope with all the subtle attacks of an
idle, curious, unprincipled woman, I am
content to leave the matter as it stands."
"If I tell her that I have lost my
fortune, and refuse to explain how, what
can she learn ?"
'' The truth possibly. If not she will
imagine a cause, and publish it as a fact
to sustain her own reputation. Does
she know that I acted for your
'' Yes — she asked me, and I told
Doctor Blandly smiled, and rising from
his chair said—'' Well well, we will see
what happens. If in a week a lie cir-
culates and reaches your ear, I shall be
happy to disprove it."
" Wait — I see what might happen. It
did not strike me at first. You might
be accused of misappropriating the
A TURNING POINT. 43
'' Oil, I sliould take no notice of that,"
replied the Doctor, sturdily. "That's a
lie that could do you no harm. What I
fear is, that the woman may resent your
silence, and lay the blame upon you, or —
one who is dearer to you perhaps, than
" You mean Tom. But how could she
introduce his name into an affair with,
which he had nothing to do ?"
" She might discover that he had some-
thing to do with it?"
" A word from you would disprove
" You are in error — I could not dis-
prove it by any number of words."
'' You shall tell me all. How can he be
" You wish me now to tell you all."
««Yes — I — I — I am not consistent
perhaps, but I could not rest with any-
thing that concerns him untold."
44 A TURNING POINT.
" There is little to shock you in what I
have to tell — and take this from me, my
dear Miss Betty — concealment is more
terrible than revelation ; no harm ever
was done by telling and knowing the
truth, but from blinking it there has been
more misery on this earth than you can
suppose. When we admit that your
mother was loving and unwise, we give
her blame and praise, that reduces her no
lower than the level of womankind. To
be deeply loving and deeply wise at the
same time, seems hardly possible to our
humanity. Look at your mother as a
woman whose love exceeded her wisdom,
and you can hardly regret her folly."
A faint smile of gratitude passed over
Lady Betty's face, and she nodded her
" Your mother, influenced by her hopes
for your welfare, against my dissuasions
determined on investing all her money in
A TURNING POINT. 45
an annuity terminable at her death. She
would not believe that her tenure of life
was uncertain, though I warned her
of her danger, and allowed my tem-
per to express itself in no measured
'' Seeing the ruin that impended over
you, I resolved to purchase the annuity
with a sum of money Tom Talbot had
desired me to invest for him, knowing
that he would be just, and more than that,
generous towards you. He knew nothing
of the contract until your mother's death.
I wished him to refund what remained of
your mother's capital ; but to spare you
the knowledge of your mother's indis-
cretion he refused the proposition, and
desired that the annuity should be extended
" Oh ! my good, generous Tom."
" Alas, you have reason now to regret
his generosity. Had he followed my
46 A TURNING POINT.
advice you would now have liad sufficient
to secure you a moderate income."
'' Then I thank God I have nothing !"
'' Hum ! You have not learnt much
from the teaching of Mrs. Walker, or it
has been of a negative kind. I doubt if
any amount of generous sentiments would
compensate her for the loss of eighteen-
'' He could have obliged me to sever
myself from the society he disliked had
he chosen to exercise the power he
" He might. Heaven be praised, Tom's
faults were of a manly kind," said Doctor
Blandly, sententiously. " Well, to come to
the end of the poor fellow's praises, the day
before his duel, he made me witness his
will, which disposed of his property in
two equal portions — one half for you, the
other as I expect for me. Now don't cry
again, my child — it was a foolish will, and
A TURNING POINT. 47
what the deuce he did with it no one
knows. In his modesty he omitted to
put mj name in the document he showed
me, and after it was fairly set out he took
it away to insert the name. Possibly, he
destroyed it when he left the field safe and
sound ; possibly he had it in one of his
pockets when he was thrown into the river,
the result is the same. No will is to be
found, and the whole estate reverts to his
next of kin. That next of kin has made
his appearance, and put in his claim.
'' I am sorry to say his title cannot be
disputed. From him one can expect
neither generosity nor justice. He has a
sharp lawyer at his back, and every penny
to which the law entitles him will be
called in. And now, my child, you know
all my bad news."
Lady Betty smiled with a sigh of relief
to find the bad news so good. There was
nothing in it she regretted now. Even her
48 A TURNING POINT.
mother's fault seemed kind in the light
thrown upon it by Doctor Blandly.
" You will wonder, Miss Betty," said
Doctor Blandly, after a pause, in which
he watched the young pale face atten-
tively, " why I don't take my hat and bid
you good morning. When a raven has
croaked, the next thing expected of him is
that he shall fly away. As I stay, you
may take it that I have a better disposi-
tion than a raven. Will you tell me if
you have any friends other than the
woman of this house."
" Mr. Gerard Crewe is the only intimate
'' A young woman can scarcely open her
mind to a young man, or ask services of
him, and a young man whose gallantry
would lead him to do your bidding
whether it be good or bad, and whose
breeding would silence his tongue when it
was necessary to give you unpleasant
A TURNING POINT. 49
advice, is not the friend you need. Try
me, young lady, and don't be afraid of
trying me a good deal." He held out his
hand, and Lady Betty willingly gave him
hers— feeling as he held it the significance
of his grasp. " Now tell me the state of
your affairs, and we will try and come to an
arrangement for the future. How much
money have you ?"
" All that was sent to me by the gentle-
man in Lincoln's Inn."
'' And how much do you owe?"
" I do not know— since mamma's death
I have had dresses and bonnets, but Mrs.
Walker said the tradesf oiks could wait for
" I warrant she did. Well, my dear,
and did your mother leave any bills
" Yes, a great many."
" Did she now." The Doctor appeared
to be greatly surprised. '' But I daresay
VOL. III. 43
50 A TURNING POINT.
she gave a bill as well as received one.
Do you tliink it possible that she gave a
bill of sale upon her furniture and
" I received a letter yesterday con-
cerning something of the kind, but I
could not understand it. We didn't learn
these matters in our arithmetic at
" No, my dear — knowledge of this kind
does not come under the head of elegant
accomplishments. But it should. Have
you the letter ?"
*' It is in this pocket, I think. Yes —
Doctor Blandly read it through every
word carefully, and folding it, said :
" This polite note informs you
that Mr. M. Moss will be under the
painful obligation of taking posses-
sion of all your house in Park Lane
contains, unless the sum of three
A TURNING POINT. 51
liundred pounds is paid by the 25th
" Three hundred pounds ! I have not
*' No, Miss Betty— no," the Doctor
said, putting the letter in his pocket. " I
will call upon Mr. M. Moss this afternoon,
and see what can be done with him."
" Perhaps he will wait like the other
" I take it that Mr. M. Moss is a Jew ;
if he is, one cannot rank him with the
other tradesmen, for Jews are scrupu-
lously exact in collecting their debts and
taking advantage of their opportunities."
" And my other debts !" Lady Betty
was aghast as her eyes opened to the
realities of her position.
" Collect all the bills you have, my dear,
and let me have them. Not now, but
when you are packing up your things to
leave this house. By the way, will you
UNIVERSE. . u. ;l_.i>ju;o ISITY OF ILLINOIS
52 A TURNING POINT.
do me the lionour to be my visitor when
you are free r"
Already the question, *' Where am I to
go ?" had risen in Lady Betty's mind.
This invitation came at the very moment
it was needed.
" I shall be very glad to " She
checked herself abruptly, struck by the
sudden perception of her dependant
*' Then that is settled," said the Doctor,
briskly. " My house is too large for me.
I will have two or three rooms prepared
for you, and the sooner you come and take
possession of them the better I shall
" Doctor Blandly, I am very grateful
for your kindness. I shall accept your
advice and seek it without hesitation, and
I shall be happy to visit you ; but I beg
you will not make any preparations, for
my stay will be quite short."
A TURNING POINT. 53
Doctor Blandly was astonished, by the
altered tone in which she spoke — firm and
self-reliant — and he looked at her cu-
riously for a moment in silence ; then he
rose, and with a stiff bow answered :
" Very good, Miss Betty, very good,"
and taking a final pinch of snuff, he added
to himself, " Proud as lucifer, for all her
Lady Betty seemed absorbed in thought,
and so after a few minutes of unproduc-
tive conversation. Doctor Blandly left her,
pressing her hand warmly when they
parted, and reading the unspoken thoughts
in her clear eyes. He was not displeased
with what he read there.
It took Lady Betty longer to find out
what had prompted her to refuse Doctor
Blandly' s hospitality, and to see that she
had arrived at the turning point in her
A FRIEND IN NEED.
ADY BETTY ran with soft, quick
steps past the drawing-room,
and reached her room without
interception, and sat there for half an
hour after she had changed her riding-
dress for an afternoon gown, with her
hands in her lap and her eyes before her.
Then she rose briskly and began to
rummage her boxes and drawers where
her papers were scattered — she was not a
very orderly young person — selecting from
among them the unpaid bills.
A FRIEND IN NEED. 55
" Mistress is about to drink a dish of
tea, and she wishes to know if you will
join her as she is quite alone," said a
servant at her door.
" Say I will be downstairs almost imme-
diately," replied Lady Betty.
She waited but to close the open
drawers and boxes, and then ran down to
the drawing-room, folding the collected
bills, and putting them away in her
'' My dear Lady Betty, this cruel visit
must have quite undone the good effects
of your ride. I sympathise with you
sincerely. Take this tea, my love, and
tell me all about it. You found that
dreadful old Doctor quite insupportable,
I am sure," said Mrs. Walker.
"On the contrary, I found him very
kind and considerate," replied Lady Betty,
taking a seat at the table.
'' I forgot that his interview was with
56 A FRIEND IN NEED.
Lady Betty. It is quite impossible to be
unamiable with you, my dear."
Lady Betty inclined ber head, and
showed no signs of being communicative.
" He came chiefly to offer you his
sympathy, I suppose, dear?" said Mrs.
Walker, returning undaunted to her
" No, I think his main purpose was to
speak about an affair of business. He
was my poor mother's agent, as you know.
By-the-bye, Felicia, you have some un-
paid bills of mine, I think. Could you
let me have them ?"
" My love, they are in a hundred
different places ; it would take me a month
to find them. You need not be anxious
about them, they will be sent in again
only too certainly."
" I would look for you, if you could
tell me where to search."
*' Why are you so eager to have them ?"
A FRIEND IN NEED. 57
" I wish to pay them."
" Then I shall certainly not let you
have them. Don't look so preposterously
grave, dear. The only pressing account
is the dressmaker's, and we must pay
that, or we shall never get our dresses
home in time. There ought to be a law
to bind dressmakers to punctuality, then
we should not be put to this harassing
necessity of paying bills whenever they
are presented. She will be here to-
morrow with the fashions to measure us
for our travelHng-dresses, and I will^ settle
your bill at the same time with my own.
Don't trouble yourself about the money,
when we return from the Wells will suit
me, or not at all, if you like it better."
" How good and generous all the
world is !" thought Lady Betty, and in-
voluntarily her tongue spoke her thought.
"What have you to be thankful for?
— appreciation ? That follows as the
58 A FRIEND IN NEED.
natural result of your mingling with
people of taste. I object to gratitude,
'tis a mean, middle-class sentiment, an
acknowledgement of inferiority which is
unknown to us. We are equal ; we are
generous, and expect generosity; we
accept services as our right. AVhat
style of bonnet shall you have for the
*' I shall make my straw do."
" Straw ! when nothing but beaver and
silk is the rage ? Nonsense ! You shall
not dress out of fashion just because you
have a little trouble on your mind. I
shall buy you a bonnet I saw this morn-
ing : 'tis a charming trifle, and with a
mantle to match."
*' Don't you think my tippet will answer
all purposes, the weather is hot?"
'' All the better reason for not dressing
lightly. Never be bourgeois in your
habits. But why should I tell you this.
A FRIEND IN NEED. 59
who have always shown such excellent
taste and headed the fashions ?"
*' It is necessary for me to be econo-
*' Oh, you are dreadfully, alarmingly
shocking ! Economical ! what a horrid
" Nevertheless, my circumstances oblige
me to be saving."
'' Another abominable expression, my
dear. If at this moment you are pressed
for money you must permit me to supply
your wants. I have had property left
to me, and I know what a long time it
takes in passing through the lawyers'
hands. I assure you that for six months
after my father's demise I suffered un-
speakable agonies, and I wished him
back a hundred times, for I was at the
mercy of his executors."
" I have enough money for my present
necessities, thank you, Felicia."
6o A FRIEND IN NEED.
" Then, in that case, jou will have a
silk bonnet, and whatever is the hon ton
Lady Betty inclined her head in ac-
quiescence. She had accepted to go to
the AYells with Felicia, and she was bound
to dress consistently.
Felicia bent forward and kissed her,
pleased with her submission.
" When shall we leave London ?" asked
" In three weeks at the furthest, sooner,
if our dresses are finished."
" And how long shall we stay
'' Until the end of the season. By that
time you may reasonably hope to be in
legal possession of your poor mother's
property. I suppose Doctor Blandly is
an executor ?"
'' Xo. My mother made no will. Poor
soul ! she had nothing to leave me."
A FRIEND IN NEED. 6i
'' Nothing to leave you, Lady Betty !
Why slie was constantly talking about — "
" She made a very unfortunate specula-
tion shortly before her death, which has
resulted since in the loss of all she pos-
" But she settled something upon you,
" Not a penny, it was not in her power
to do so."
" You have not whispered a word of
this to me hitherto."
" I was ignorant myself until Doctor
Blandly told me this afternoon."
'' And you heard him without going
into convulsions ? you did not even faint
away ? and you can sit there and
talk about it as calmly as if nothing
had happened ? Oh, I cannot believe
'' It is quite true."
" But you have some resource; Doctor
62 ■ A FRIEND IN NEED.
Blandly, perhaps, has promised you assist-
*' I have no resource, in the sense you
mean, and I cannot accept assistance
from a gentleman unrelated to me by any
ties of kindred or family friendship."
*' That is an excellent reason for not
offering assistance, but none for refusing
it. One hears every day of persons
making donations to perfect strangers,
but I never yet heard of them being
" I am not in a position to receive
charity," said Lady Betty, rather sharply.
A proverb about beggars on horseback
crossed Mrs. Walker's mind, but as she
looked at her friend's young face and
graceful figure, she was yet inclined to be
hopeful, so she kept the reflection to her-
self, and said :
" 'Tis a mercy you have good looks;
with them and a little finesse you may
A FRIEND IN NEED. 63
manage to find a wealthy husband before
the end of the season."
" Oh, Felicia ! how can you for a
moment think I could descend to such a
'' I see nothing base in marrying a
wealthy husband." Mrs. Walker had
married an old man for no better motive
than the prospect of inheriting his riches.
" It seems to me, Lady Betty, that
poverty has exalted your sentiments to a
prodigious extent, which is unfortunate,
since, if there is one thing more than an-
other that the poor cannot afford, and
ought to get rid of, 'tis pride."
" On the contrarv, I think 'tis the one
thing they must retain to deserve re-
Lady Betty spoke with warmth, and
would probably have said much more, but
that she was checked by the remembrance
of Felicia's previous kindness, and a
A FRIEND IN NEED.
suspicion that she did not mean what she
" Then what on earth do you intend
" I have not yet had time to determine.
Come, Felicia, be your natural self. We
are alone, and worldliness is a mask that
you put on to suit the cynical humour
which is in fashion. Forget that you are
Mrs. Walker, and advise me as FeHcia."
" I have given my advice, and been
accused of suggesting baseness," re-
sponded Felicia, coldly.
''You spoke under irritation."
" Not at all. I shall be glad to alter
my views if you can show better. Tell
me your ideas, and I shall be happy to
assist you "
'' I know you will, Felicia."
" With any suggestions that may occur
to me," Mrs. Walker said, concludino- her
A FRIEND IN NEED. 65
" In the first place the furniture and
china in Park Lane will have to be
" Sell your furniture ! Why all the
world would know it in twenty-four
hours, and what excuse can you make?"
" The necessity of paying my mother's
debts and my own."
If Lady Betty had proposed escaping
her creditors by means of the Messieurs
Mongolfier's balloon, the notion would
not have appeared more preposterous or
wildly suicidal to Mrs. Walker.
" Go on, my love," she said, with forced
" I do not know how much I shall
realise by the sale, and I cannot tell the
extent of my debts, but I think I shall
have more than a hundred pounds when
all is settled. I must try and get the
matter arranged before I leave London."
" A hundred pounds, and rent and
VOL. III. 44
66 A FRIEND IN NEED.
living at the Wells so expensive. Why,
after your dress and journey are paid for,
you won't have enough to keep you there
Lady Betty had understood that she
was to be Felicia's guest during their
stay at the waters. She was not dis-
pleased to find herself in error; the
necessity of keeping up a false position
" Then I had better not go," she said,
'' I am entirely of your opinion. If
you absolutely insist upon this sale taking
place at once you would find it impos-
sible to attend the assemblies, no one
would acknowledge you."
The announcement of a visitor put an
end to the conversation, much to the
satisfaction of both. Lady Betty retired
to her room to shed a few tears over the
defection of her friend, and made plans
A FRIEND IN NEED. 67
for immediate action ; wliile she was still
in cogitation a maid brought a packet and
placed it in her hands with her mistress's
compliments. The packet contained the
tradespeople's bills, which Mrs. Walker
had not calculated upon finding in less
than a month's search.
OCTOR BLANDLY souglit
Gerard. Leaving Lincoln's Inn
lie stepped into a hackney coacli
and instructed the driver to carry him to
Brooke's, in St. James's Street, that
being, as he took it, the most likely place
in which to find him.
*' Mr. Crewe isn't here. Sir," said the
hall-keeper ; " think he must have left
" That is not likely, my good man,"
GERARD TALBOT. 69
replied Doctor Blandly, '' for lie was yes-
terday in Lincoln's Inn."
'' Indeed, Sir, that's particularly odd.
Sir, for lie wasn't here last night, nor
hasn't been for ten days, and a mortal
number of members has been asking after
*' I suppose a gentleman may be in
London without of necessity coming to
this house ?"
'' Some gentleman may. Sir, but Mr.
Crewe is one of them as can't. I've
never known him to stay away two
nights running — except when the season's
Doctor Blandly returned to his coach
and gave the address at which he had
met Grerard a fortnight before.
" Is Mr. Gerard Crewe at home ?" he
asked of the servant who opened the
The servant fetched a card from the
70 GERARD TALBOT.
drawer of a table in the passage,
and putting it in the Doctor's hands,
" Left here a sennight last Saturday.
That is his new address."
Once more Doctor Blandly returned to
his coach, and, reading the card, told the
man to drive him to Cheyne Walk,
Chelsea. Stopping before the number
indicated, the Doctor looked several times
from the house to the card in his hand
before he could feel sure that no mistake
had been made. The place was dingy and
poor, as unlike Gerard's previous dwell-
ing-place as possible.
In answer to his hesitating knock a
slatternly girl opened the door, and re-
plying to his inquiry told him to walk up
to the second floor, where he would find
Mr. Crewe, and warned him to be careful
he didn't fall over the breakfast- tray out-
side the first floor's door.
'' The luck has turned," said the
Doctor, as he ascended the steep and
He knocked ; Gerard called '* Come in ;"
the Doctor opened the door and stood for a
minute unobserved, taking in all that met
his eye. It was a small room, one quarter
occupied by a four-post bedstead, with
two strips of carpet upon the floor. The
furniture consisted of three rush-bottomed
chairs, a washstand, a chest of drawers,
a hanging shelf of books, and a table.
The window was open. On the sill stood
a long ale glass, with a couple of clove
pinks in it — the only gracious thing there.
The table was set before the window, and
Gerard sat at it, with his back to the
door. His chin rested on his left hand ; his
elbow on the table ; in his right hand was
a pen; on the table, and at his feet,
Doctor Blandly drew out his snuff-box
72 GERARD TALBOT.
mechanically, and tapped it, keeping his
eye on the figure before him. At the
sound G-erard turned.
" I beg your pardon, Doctor Blandly,"
he said, rising ; " I thought it was my
man — I should say, the maid of the
house. Be seated. Sir."
He placed a chair to face the window
with a nervous glance round the room.
Doctor Blandly sat down and slowly took
his pinch of snuff.
'' Do you snuff, Mr. Talbot?" he asked,
extending the box.
A faint flush of colour passed over
Gerard's face in being addressed by his
" Occasionally," he answered, taking
from the proffered box and bowing.
'"Tis a boon not to be neglected. Sir.
It refreshes the senses and invigorates the
'' Is that a recognised fact," Gerard
GERARD TALBOT. 73
asked with more anxiety in his tone than
the subject seemed to demand.
'' It is, Sir — amongst snuff-takers.
Perhaps for a young man fresh air and
exercise are as effective. Clove-pinks —
and very good clove-pinks too," said the
Doctor, looking at the flowers, then taking
the glass in his hand and examining them
more closely, he added — *' for London.
You are fond of flowers. Sir."
" Who is not ?"
" A great many people. People without
hearts don't care for them, though let
me tell you that your father did not care
for them, albeit he had a heart as tender
as a child's. By living so long on the
sea he relished no colour but blue, and no
savour but pitch and saltpetre." The
Doctor smelt at the flowers, and said in a
tone of encouraging admiration, " Very
good clove-pinks. I would have you come
and see some that I grow at Edmonton.
74 GERARD TALBOT.
They smell sweetest of evenings and early
morning; you would give me great
pleasure. Sir, to visit me and eat of a fine
haunch of mutton that I stuck a skewer
into at my butcher's, this morning. I
shall have it cooked o' Sunday, if the day
will suit you."
"The pleasure will be mine," said Gerard.
" Pleasures are best when shared, Sir.
Very good clove-pinks, indeed. Will
you put them back in their place ?
Thank you. You have an agreeable view
of the river from this window."
" It compensates the luxuries that you
see I possess no longer — or it should. I
own I find it difficult at times to reconcile
myself to poverty."
'' It is hard indeed to change at once
the habits that have slowly grown upon
us — 'tis like the transplanting of a shrub
whose roots and fibres have had time to
permeate the surrounding soil ; for awhile
GERARD TALBOT. 75
it droops and languislies, its bruised
fibres lacking tbe power to assimilate
tbe strengthening juices of the earth ;
but anon, Sir, you shall find it strike out
with lusty vigour, and flourish with a
ne'w and stronger life — especially if the
soil be richer."
" Some plants will not bear transplant-
ing, I believe, Doctor."
" 'Tis true. Sir, but there are, thank
God, not many such of English growth —
few indeed, so sappy or so sapless that
they will not thrive the better by discreet
removal to purer and more wholesome,
conditions of existence."
" Shall I be wrong in taking the personal
application of your remarks to myself?"
" Certainly not, if the conclusions 1
draw from what I see are correct."
" May I ask you to tell me what those
conclusions are ?"
"You have turned your back on the
76 GERARD TALBOT.
gamiDg-house, and intend never to return
to it — as a gamester.'*
Gerard listened gravely, and in silence
fetched a chair and seated himself by the
table opposite liis visitor. He looked out
upon the river dreamily, and at length
ending his meditation with a sigh, turned
to Doctor Blandly, and said :
*' I am afraid you give me credit for
more virtue than I have. Doctor. You
do not know that I left the table of
" You owe nothing, surely."
'' No ; but my ability to gain is gone."
•' You cannot believe in luck to such an
'' I never trusted to chance at all.
'Twas that which made me successful.
Whilst others were alternately elated and
depressed, my temper never varied, and
the advantage on my side were enormous.
I do not think I am cold by nature "
GERARD TALBOT. 77
" I am sure you are not," interpellated
" But the circumstances of my life —
above all tlie absence of hope, chilled my
blood. I saw nothing in the world to
wish for but its luxuries — things that
could be bought with money. I knew no
friends, no relatives save the villainous
foot-pad who called himself my brother,
and I owed my position to anonymous
charity. With these trammels I could
not hope to rise to any state better than
that I held. I satisfied my conscience by
punctilious honesty in my dealings at the
table, and my only ambition by paying
back all I had received from you."
" And I wish with all my heart you had
" Had I never met my brother Tom, I
should still be a gamester ; but the faculty
of centreing my whole thought upon the
cards, of maintaining a perfect equanimity
78 GERARD TALBOT.
iirider all conditions was weakened on the
day he first gave me his hand in friend-
ship ; it was destroyed the moment you
told me of our relationship. The old
fetters were removed, and a new field of
hopes and aspirations was opened to me.
An intense desire to win a sum of money
that would enable me to leave the gaming-
table, and learn a profession seized me
" You lost," said Doctor Blandly, com-
pleting the sentence which Gerard had
terminated with a shrug. "And a very
good job too, Sir. Let me tell you I
should be very sorry to see dice on a field
vert quartered in the Talbot coat. I
should have been better pleased to hear
that you relinquished gaming for the
honour of your father's name."
" I am a faulty man and not a hero of
romance, Doctor Blandly."
" True, Sir, true. The only difference
GERARD TALBOT. 79
between you is that you avow the truth,
where t'other would be careful to conceal
it, and so I give you the preference and
my hand, if you will take it."
Gerard gave his hand quickly, and the
Doctor grasped it, and held it for a
full minute. The wrinkling of his
brows showed that his thoughts were
*' And so you think of entering a
profession with a view to gaining money,"
*' I am making my first attempt,"
replied Gerard, with a motion of his hand
towards the paper on the table.
" Letters — you have chosen a profession
that requires no tedious apprenticeship,
like the law or physic. All that you
require is patience, a pot of ink — and
*' I have the pot of ink," said Gerard,
with a laugh.
8o GERARD TALBOT.
" And what brancli of writing do you
affect, Sir ?"
" I have begun a comedy."
" I am told it is difficult to get a comedy
" I have friends at both houses, and
Mr. Kemble has promised me assistance."
"Your mother had excellent dramatic
talent, poor soul ! A work of this kind
should of necessity take a long time to
complete, Mr. Talbot."
" I am making but slow progress at
Gerard gave a rueful glance at the
scattered sheets of erased work, and the
few approved lines.
" Do not hurry it, Sir, for the sake of
the remuneration you will get by its pro-
duction. Nature sets us the example of
working slowly; nothing that is to last
can be done quickly. If you want money
I will lend it to you, and you can give no
GERARD TALBOT. 8i
better proof of your friendship tlian by
accepting my service."
" I shall not hesitate to ask you for a
loan when I actually need it, Doctor."
*' Unfortunately, 'tis the only kind of
assistance I can render you, for I lack
the imaginative faculty, and I do not
profess to have the critical acumen. In
physic I might have served you better,
but before a fine picture or a good
comedy I can only hold up my hands in
astonishment and admiration, wondering
how the work was done."
'* Nevertheless, your opinion and advice
would be of service to me. I protest I
do not know whether my work is good
or bad. I write and re- write again and
again, and in the end cannot tell whether
the first expression of my thought is better
or worse than the last."
" 'Tis the diffidence of merit. Only a
fool is satisfied with his work, and for
VOL. III. 45
82 GERARD TALBOT.
Lim improvement is impossible. When I
was a young man, a friend of mine took
his first work to Doctor Johnson, and
asked him to point out any faults he
could find in it. ' Sir,' says Doctor
Johnson, ' 'twill save time to clap the
tract on the fire at once, for if you can-
not find out the faults for yourself, 'tis
because the parts are all faulty alike.'
" Put your manuscript in your pocket
and bring it with you on Sunday, Mr.
Talbot. You shall read it to me, and
have my honest opinion on its merits. I
shall judge, not as a critic who hopes to
find fault for the exercise of his malicious
wit, but as one who takes his place in the
pit hoping to be amused."
" 1 wish I had only your judgment to
fear. Unfortunately 'tis the critic and
not the audience who decides the fate of
"Well, Sir, you shall have both. I
GERARD TALBOT. 83
have a friend in holy orders who shall
join us afc dinner. He is a man of read-
ing, and preaches excellent sermons, so
I am told; I have contracted a vicious
habit of sleeping after the Psalms, which
prevents me from judging for myself.
And now to turn to a sadder subject."
The Doctor took a pinch of snuff and
then said : " You were at Lincoln's Inn
yesterday, I hear."
'' No news of my poor brother Tom
had been heard."
" None. I was there this morning,
and, as you may suppose by my silence,
nothing has been heard since your visit
respecting your brother Tom. As regards
Barnabas Crewe; hitherto he has been
represented by a Newgate pettifogger,
yesterday he made his appearance at
Talbot Hall in person, with his lawyer and
half-a-dozen sturdy rogues, who over-
came the resistance of the steward and
84 GERARD TALBOT.
servants, entered tlie Hall, and there they
stay until it is proved that Theophilus
Talbot is not the heir. The news was
sent this morning by Blake, the steward,
who still occupies the lodge and waits for
" Barnabas must not be allowed to stay
" Not a day. Sir, when we can find the
means of turning him out. Possession is
nine points of the law with such a man
as that, and he has a cunning rascal for
a lawyer, who, I am afraid, is more than
a match for us. He has evidence on his
side which we could not overthrow. I
might swear that he is Barnabas Crewe
until I am black in the face, but at the
same time, I must acknowledge that he
is identical with the child entered in the
parish register as Theophilus Talbot. We
have not a single proof that your mother
was enceinte at the time of her marriage,
GERARD TALBOT. 85
there is no proof but my word that your
father disowned the child. I have only
your mother's last words and my own
conviction that she was true to your
father after her marriage, and that you
were his legitimate offspring, which would
go for nothing in a court of law. Barna-
bas is to all effect your brother Tom's
" Is it impossible to find anyone who
knew my mother at the time of her mar-
*' Your father removed her from her
friends in London, thirty years, or nearly
thirty years, since. What possibility is
" But little indeed ; and yet, from whom
did Barnabas get his information ? Not
from me, certainly, not from you. How
could he know the facts which his lawyer
has produced except by communicating
with one who was intimately acquainted
86 GERARD TALBOT.
with my father or mother. Depend upon
it there is a third person whose existence
we have ignored."
The Doctor buried his chin in his
''I can think of no one but his own
father," he said, raising his head. '' They
may have been thrown together by acci-
dent ; but we could expect no assistance
from him, since his own interest would
lead him to support his son's claim."
" That makes the case more desperate.
Are we to suffer my father's estate to fall
into the hands of these two scoundrels ?
Would not their very looks convict them
if they stood before a judge ?"
'* Not if blushes were needed as a
proof of guilt. I am strongly opposed to
making this misfortune public, though if
you wish it I will give you all the support
in my power. In the first place, it could
not result in benefit to you."
GERARD TALBOT. 87
*' You do not think I have any motive
but the honour of mj family ?"
" No, and that is a reason for avoiding
publicity. If you failed to prove your
case, Barnabas would be recognised as
legitimate, and the line of the Talbots
would include a wretch whom we know
to be a highwayman, whom I suspect to
be a murderer."
" Great Heavens ! do you suspect him
of murdering Tom?"
'' Who else could have so strong a
motive, if, as we suppose, he knew
beforehand of the relationship between
'' You think that Barnabas murdered
Tom ?" asked Gerard, coldly.
'' I do," the Doctor replied, thinking
only of the evidence.
The blood rushed into Gerard's face, and
he dropped his face into his hands.
^8 GERARD TALBOT.
" My motlier's son," he said, witli a
*' What have I said ?" the Doctor cried,
springing to his feet. " Pardon me, my
boy. 1 can think of you only as Tom's
brother. Don't take my words to heart.
'Twas an idle suspicion that escaped me in
an unguarded moment."
" No idle suspicion," Gerard said
dropping his hands between his knees,
without raising his head. " 'Tis a fact
which I should have suspected, but that
the crime was too horrible to attribute to
my brother. Barnabas a murderer — 'twas
shame enough to know him as a thief.
My brother a murderer — 'tis an en-
couraging reflection to begin the new life
with — a passport to decent society — an
advantage w^hich critics would not fail to
mention amongst the merits of my work —
a charm to win the affections of a cultured
GERARD TALBOT. 89
" And a stimulant to courage, Gerard,"
added the Doctor. " So that you are
free from blame, why should you heed
prejudice. Your father was best pleased
when the sea was crowded with enemies,
for there was the greatest prospect of
glory for his King. Let your conscience
be your king ; fight a good fight for its
honour, and never fear what may happen.
The good opinion of four honest men —
nay, your own satisfaction alone — out-
weighs a thousand times the flattery of a
crowd of fools."
'* Can we do nothing to free my
father's name from the disgrace that
this scoundrel throws upon it? If he
got into the Hall with the aid of a
dozen men, can't we turn him out with the
aid of a dozen more ?"
" A useless game of Crambo that we
should lose by. No. Take my advice-
leave him alone. His own actions will
90 GERARD TALBOT.
prove to all thinking people that he is
not your father's son, but a rascally
impostor. He will be shunned by every-
one ; and his life at Talbot Hall will not
be too cheerful, I engage. I have a flea
for his ear that will make him heartily
repent his knavery. I am heartily mis-
taken if before the end of twelve months
he does not offer to make a public renuncia-
tion of his rights for a few hundred
'' What power have you ? He has the
" And I have the money." The Doctor
took out his snuff-box, and gave it a tap
of satisfaction. " And rather than let a
penny of it go into his hands, I'll
squander it all in the Court of Chancery.
He can't pay his expenses, and his lawyer
will not undertake a game at which he
must in the end lose. He may kill a few
head of deer, and shoot as much game as
GERARD TALBOT. 91
he likes — let him. There will still be
enough for us to celebrate his departure
when his time comes. He may empty the
cellar, and probably will in a few weeks —
let him again, I say. Thank heaven
there's a cave full of port and Burgundy
that is known to no one but me — now that
poor Tom's gone. As for the rents of
the property, my man in Lincoln's Inn
will get an injunction to stop him from
receiving a mag. He shan't cut a single
one of those blessed old oaks in the park.
Without money he will get no one to serve
him ; without wine he will get no one, not
even his fellow rogues, to visit him. He
won't be able to get powder and shot to
kill his own game — take a pinch, Mr.
Talbot —and if he can sleep alone in that
empty Hall, with no liquor to stupify his
senses, he is not the man I take him to be.
Twelve months — why I won't give him six
months lease of his ill-gotten home. We
shall have liim whining at our feet for
mercy and pardon before Christmas is
upon us, Sir."
THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER.
" Park Lane, August 1, 1800.
EAR Doctor Blandly,
" I should be wanting in
due appreciation of your kind-
ness if I failed to ask your guidance
tlirougli the difficulty which besets me at
the present moment. With the permission
of Mrs. Walker, I have abandoned my
intention of spending a season at the
Wells, and I wish to arrange my pecu-
niary affairs, and enter upon those duties
which my altered position necessitates at
once. I have collected my dear mother's
94 THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER.
bills, and find that my liabilities amount to
tlie sum of four hundred and seventy
pounds seventeen sbilings ; this with the
sum owing to Mr. Moss reaches a total of
seven hundred and seventy pounds seven-
teen shillings. I have in my purse nearly
one hundred and ninety-seven pounds, and
that with the proceeds arising from the
sale of the furniture, &c., in the house
will be, I hope, more than sufficient to pay
all I owe, including the rent of the
" But I do not know any gentleman in
the auctioneering trade, and so I ask you to
tell me what course I shall take for the
disposal of the china and things. I have
had everything well brushed and polished,
and save my clothes and a work-box which
was poor dear mamma's, all packed in two
trunks, and an elbow-chair which is set
aside in the garret, everything is ready to
be sold, and may be seen by applying to
THE TAMIXG OF MRS. BAXTER. 95
me, or to the person in charge of the
house if I am absent.
" AVith sincere gratitude for your good-
ness to me and my poor mother,
" I am, dear Doctor Blandly,
" Obediently yours,
'' Elizabeth St. Cyr."
Doctor Blandly read this letter, which
he found beside " The Times " newspaper
on his table when he came in from making
the tour of his garden, which was his
custom, in fair or foul weather, before
sitting down to his breakfast.
" A very good letter, and well writ,"
he said, holding the sheet at arm's length,
and looking at the even lines and bold
characters with a kindly critical eye.
c' Neatly folded, well expressed, and every
line of it the unstudied product of a clear
and healthy mind — so I take it." He
read it again, commenting as he w^ent.
96 THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER.
'' Beset with difficulties — aye, aye, you
have need of a pilot, poor child — thrown
like a frail skiff into the hurrying current
of the work-a-day world, where be abun-
dance of hard rocks and few placid
pools ! .... So Mrs. Walker has per-
mitted you to go your own way. One
understands that. 'Tis well for you. Miss
Betty, though I wager your heart ached
to find her so fickle a friend ....
Duties — duties ? Ha, yes, the duty of
living frugally upon her slender means.
.... She's more anxious to discharge
her debts than to make a profit for herself
— a good girl Don't know any
gentleman in the auctioneering trade — no,
nor I, my dear ; nevertheless we must
content ourselves with such as we have.
.... Two trunks and an elbow-chair
set aside in the garret — a chair too old to
sell perhaps ; and is that all the furniture
she reserves for her new home. Every-
THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER. 97
thing ready to be sold — that means much
— the selHng of all that is dear bj usage
and familiarity, yet not a word of the pain
it costs to part with them. I can fancy
the child polishing those trifles for the
last time, and bravely staunching her
tears the while. 'Tis a brave girl — and
her brief, clear letter is more touching
than if it were filled with regrets and
blotted with tears — a good, brave girl."
Doctor Blandly laid down the letter and
took up the '' Times," as if to divert his
thoughts from the subject until he could
think of it with less emotion. As his
eyes wandered down the columns of the
paper they fell upon this advertisement :
" A Young Lady desires an engage-
ment in a family or school, to teach
young children. Address, Miss St. Cyr,
Park Lane, London."
" What !" he cried, '^ she is prepared to
work for a livelihood, and submit to the
VOL. III. 46
gS THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER.
tyi^anny of a jealous mother, or a grasp-
ing school-mistress, for a pittance scarcely
sufficient to buy clothes to her back,
rather than accept my protection and help !
By George, she's a trump of a girl ! "
He sat in cogitation for some time,
lookinof uow at the letter and then at the
advertisement, and again at his slowly
twiddling thumbs. Finally he rose from
his seat and rang the bell.
" Bring me my Sunday coat and shoes,
Jerry," said he, when the old servant
" Your Sunday coat and shoes, or your
fishing coat and shoes. Sir ?"
" Do I look as if I were going a-fishing."
Jerry looked in his master's face, and
finding not a particle of pleasure in its
expression, withdrew without asking for
Doctor Blandly walked over to the
THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER. gg
A pastor in a garden, surrounded by
his children, ought to be a subject worthy
of a painter, but the Reverend John
Baxter, under similar conditions, was a
subject deserving rather the practical
sympathy of the philanthropist. Jane,
his youngest daughter, was cutting her
teeth, and had to be nursed ; little Anne
was quietly making herself ill, and stain-
ing her clean bib, with mulberries ; and
the two boys, in open rebellion against
their father, refused to study their
primer, and dodged him amongst the
gooseberry bushes when he sought to
bring them to obedience. The weather
was sultry, the Reverend John Baxter
was stout, and more than once in his pur-
suit the straggling branches of the prickly
gooseberry laid hold of his ungaitered
legs, causing him to stumble violently, to
the mortal jeopardy of the screaming
babe in his arms. It was just as he had
100 THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER.
relinquished tlie chase for a minute to go
and tear little Anne away from the mul-
berries that he caught sight of Doctor
Blandly on the other side of the privet
hedge, making his way towards the
Abandoning his child in the greater
danger which awaited his friend, Mr.
Baxter moved towards the privet hedge to
warn his friend off, but Doctor Blandly was
akeady in the garden, and close to the door
of the house. In vain he waved his arm
as a signal to retreat, and shaped with his
mouth the words, " Don't ; for the love
of heaven, don't ! Site's at home P' The
Doctor was deep in thought, and never
averted his eye from the path before him
until he had knocked at the door of the
Mrs. Baxter herself opened the door.
She had a pen in her hand, and a tart
expression on her face.
THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER. loi
"You havo come to see Mr. Baxter,
I presume," said tlie lady, frigidly.
" No, madam, I have come to see you.
If you can give me five minutes' attention
I will explain my business."
" Business ! Baxter has not told me a
word of it."
" Baxter did not know, madam ; so
'twas not his fault that you did not know,
nor yours neither," he added, in an un-
Mrs. Baxter led the Doctor into
a grim chamber, where a number of
parochial books and papers showed that
she was manag^ino- her husband's
Doctor Blandly seated himself on an
angular, narrow chair, with a slipping
horse-hair seat, and came to the point
without waste of time.
'' Mrs. Baxter," said he, " I hear you
have lost your governess."
I02 THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER.
" I sent her away at a minute's notice
'' Poor soul !"
" Ob, of course, you pity her, Doctor
" On the contrary, ma'am, 'tis you that
I pity. The young woman has, in all
probability, found another engagement
more suitable to her disposition, whereas
you are still without a governess for your
children, which must of necessity give
you less time to devote to your husband's
affairs. Will you be good enough to
look at this advertisement, which I have
cut from the ' Times ' newspaper of this
Mrs. Baxter took the cutting, and
drawing down the corners of her thin
lips in anticipation, read it through.
"I see nothing attractive in that,^^ she
remarked ; "a young lady wishes for an
engagement. Governesses are coming to
THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER. 103
something, indeed ! Young person would
have been more respectful. Not a word
" She possibly thought it unnecessary
to talk of accomplishments, as she wishes
to teach young children."
"Ah, that again — her wish to teach
young children is an evidence of inca-
" Had she advertised to teach elder
children, I should not have thought it
worth while to show you the advertise-
" Miss St. Cyr. I should have thought
initials, or her christian name alone, more
appropriate. She does not mention the
name of her mistress, which is, in my
opinion, a flagrant outrage upon pro-
priety, as the lady lives in Park Lane."
" Miss St. Cyr has no mistress, and the
address given is her own house."
" Impossible !"
104 THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER.
" Not at all. She is an orpliau, and the
whole of her fortune was lost through an
unfortunate investment which I made
with her mother's capital shortly before
her death, which happened in May last."
" I have not heard a word of this from
'' For certain reasons, madam, I do not
tell Baxter all that I do and know."
Mrs. Baxter read the advertisement
again, and her lips instead of beiog drawn
down towards her chin, were now stretched
back in a horizontal line towards her
**Her modesty is certainly becoming,"
she said, " aDd 'twould be a great advan-
tage for Samuel and Luke to be instructed
by a refined young lady. Under their
father's training they have grown so
violent, that I find it difficult myself to
command respect. Little Anne can walk
alone, and 'tis high time she learnt a
THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER. 105
hymn, and Jane is very fractious of
''If you read the advertisement again,
you will see that Miss St. Cyr does not
undertake to do the work of a nurse."
Mrs. Baxter drew up her mobile lips into
the resemblance of a bladder-neck at this
reminder, and then shaking her head said,
'' I do not as a rule employ unfortunate
people ; they are generally undeserving,
and frequently expect indulgence, instead
of showing that active anxiety to give satis-
faction, which their humbled condition
should prompt. Still they are more ready
to accept moderate terms of remuneration
than people of greater experience."
" As concerns remuneration, Mrs.
Baxter, I have a suggestion to make,
which I hope will not be unacceptable. I
wish you to give Miss St, Cyr whatever
terms she asks without abatement, and in
addition, I wish her to be provided with
io6 THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER.
all the comforts you would offer her were
the young lady merely a guest in your
house. If a nursemaid to soothe the
temper of your infant will make the house
more agreeable as a home to the young
lady, by all means engage a nursemaid.
Whatever expenses these alterations in
your establishment may oblige, I will dis-
charge, on the condition that the financial
arrangement shall be absolutely a secret
between you and me.'*
*' Oh, of course, Doctor Blandly. But I
really do not know how to *' Mrs.
Baxter hesitated, but a greedy hungriness
overspread her face, and showed that she
was well-disposed to receive the Doctor's
" You shall reckon up your expenses at
the end of each week or month as you
choose, and I will pay them tvitJwut ashing
Mrs. Baxter's stony eyes fell, and she
THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER. 107
stroked her nose with the end of her pen
in some confusion ; but the prize was too
good to be sacrificed to modesty.
" If 'tis an act of charity, Doctor "
" No 'tis no charity, but simply a very
poor restitution on my part."
*' In that case I need not hesitate. I
will write at once, though I'm afraid I
have nothing but business paper. I pro-
mise the young lady shall be treated with
all due consideration and attention."
'' Very well, madam," said Doctor
Blandly, rising ; " and so long as she is
satisfied to stay with you, I will provide
With a few more words Doctor Blandly
closed the interview, and then left the
Vicarage. Mrs. Baxter at once wrote a
note requesting the pleasure of an inter-
view with Miss St. Cyr, at her " earliest
convenience," and despatched the sexton
on the Reverend John Baxter's cob, with
loS THE TAMING OF MRS. BAXTER.
instructions to give the note into Miss St.
Cjr's own hand. Doctor Blandly also
wrote to Lady Betty, expressing his
approval of the determination she had
come to, and informing her that his lawyer
in Lincoln's Inn would wait upon her,
and make all necessary arrangements for
the sale of her furniture, and the payment
of her debts.
LADY BETTY S VISIT.
N the Monday morning following,
about three o'clock in the after-
noon. Lady Betty stood at the
gate of Dr. Blandly's garden. Jerry had in-
structions to admit without delay a young
lady dressed in black, vrhenever she came,
and to treat her with as much respect as
if she were a gentleman ; so he
answered her question with a low bow,
saying in his most polite tones, that
Doctor Blandly was at home, and begged
her to follow him.
110 LADY BETTY'S VISIT.
Lady Betty passed tlirougli tlie wicket
by the side of the house, and coming upon
a full view of the garden, which was
ablaze with free growing annuals,
geraniums, fuchsias and hollyhocks she
stopped for a moment while her being
seemed to expand as she imbibed the
delicious colour and fragrance around her.
It was the first time she had stood in a
garden since the autumn holidays at
Winchmore, a year ago. Her heart wept
and smiled, as happy memories and sad
passed through her mind.
*' Oh. if I could only hope," she sighed, '' or
if I might lay aside my mourning clothes,
and wear light muslin, and sit in the shade
watching the bees, and feasting my senses
like them, without regret — with nothing
but lazy indifference !"
" If you please, miss," said Jerry,
coming back to her side across the lawn,
treading the gravel on the points of his
LADY BETTY'S VISIT.
toes, and speaking in a whisper, " master
is asleep." He pointed over the flower-
beds to the apple-tree in the middle of the
lawn, under which the Doctor sat.
'' I will walk about the garden until he
wakes," said Lady Betty.
" Thank you, miss ; the weather's so
hot, and he do like his doze after lunch
to that extent, that I can't abear to wake
him. Can I bring you anything, miss ?
A bottle of claret, now — the port I
shouldn't recommend before dinner."
'' No, thank you. If I want refreshment
I will find some fruit."
Jerry scratched his ear, and said with
more hesitation —
" Master wouldn't begrudge the best wine
there is in the cellar, but he's that perticlar
about his wall-fruit, that I daren't so much
as pick up a dropped plum when it's green."
" I will spare the wall-fruit," Lady
Betty said, smiling.
112 LADY BETTY'S VISIT.
Witli many thanks for her con-
sideration, and as maDV bows, old
Jerry retired to the cellar where he
had bottling on hand; and Lady Betty
taking the shady path, walked slowly down
the garden, stooping now and then to pick
the flowers which were her favourites.
After a while she crossed the lawn to the
apple-tree, and sat upon the seat which sur-
rounded it. Doctor Blandly was not upon
this seat, but comfortably settled in his
cushioned Windsor-chair. He wore a pair
of nankeen-breeches, thin stockings, and
a coat and waistcoat of white jean ; his
head and face were veiled with the yellow
India handkerchief. His feet were
crossed, and his hands were folded in his
lap ; a table was at his right hand, on
which were disposed an ale glass, a long
clay pipe, a pruning knife, and a volume
of Cowper's Poems. These things told the
character of the man.
LADY BETTY'S VISIT. 113
Lady Betty sat arranging the flowers
she had gathered, content with her occupa-
tion and an occasional look at the blue
sky through the foliage of the apple-tree,
and the coloured beds that skirted the lawn.
Presently the Doctor drew a long breath,
knitted his finger-tips and slowly twiddled
his thumbs. Then in a low voice he sang :
"' This little old 'oman, so I've heered tell,
She went to market her eggs for to sell
Singing, tol de rol^ de rol, and a hitol de rol."
Lady Betty gave the softest "ahem!"
Doctor Blandly pulled down his handker-
" Bless my soul. Miss Betty !" he cried,
catching sight of the young lady before
him, who, with a little smile on her
pretty pale face, and her head on one
side, was regarding the bouquet she had
made. '' Why didn't that fool of a Jerry
wake me ?"
VOL. III. 47
114 LADY BETTY'S VISIT.
" Because he is a good servant, and
fond of his master. I have not been here
long, and not a moment has seemed too
" You are tired with joar journey.
Dear heart ! to think I should be asleep !
" I am not at all tired. I have only
walked from the Vicarage, where Mrs.
Baxter insisted upon my taking lunch."
" The Vicarage !" exclaimed Doctor
Blandly, with feigned surprise, at the
same time stooping to pick up his straw
hat and conceal the expression on his
face. " Now what on earth could have
taken you there. Miss Betty ?"
" Mrs. Baxter saw an advertisement I
had printed in the ' Times ' newspaper,
and wrote to me on Friday to engage me
as a governess for her children."
" Lord, ah ! Baxter said somethins:
about his wife losing her governess, now
LADY BETTY'S VISIT. 115
I come to tliink of it. But what a strange
coincidence that she should write to jou.
I give you my word I never mentioned
your name to Imn. Well, my dear, I
hope you have accepted the engagement,
for then yon will have one friend to come
to see now and then."
'' I have accepted, and I think I shall
begin the new life on Saturdry next."
" I'm downright glad to hear it. Mrs.
Baxter and I don't get on well together,
but that is an advantage in one respect ;
when you want to escape from her you
can come here without fear of being fol-
lowed. Baxter's a good, soft, stupid old
soul, you'll like him." He took his
pruning-knife, and rising from his chair,
said, with a look of much promise,
" Come with me, my dear." He gave
her his hand to rise, and held it in his as
they walked slowly over the lawn towards
the sunny wall.
ii6 LADY BETTY'S VISIT.
''You're a brave girl,'* lie said to
her, in a low, emphatic tone, '' a good
brave girl ! Your sorrows have come
early, but if we must love and lose,
'tis better to suffer while the heart is
young and vigorous. Buds nipped in the
spring are not missed in the summer, but
nothing replaces the autumn loss, and the
old stock may not bear another bloom."
Lady Betty glanced at the Doctor's
face, and her eyes filled with tears, not
for herself, but for him. The tone of his
voice, the far-away look in his face, told
her that it was not a mere sentimental
generality he had uttered, but the sum-
mary of his own experience. She held
his hand a little tighter, and did not break
the reverie into which he seemed to have
fallen. She would have been content to
walk in silence for an indefinite time,
united by hand and heart in a bond of
sympathy, but they came face to face
LADY BETTY'S VISIT. T17
with the peaches, and Doctor Blandly' s
thoughts returned from the past to the
present, from the passion that was dead
to the love that lived.
'' There's a jolly fellow !" said he, turn-
ing back a leaf to expose a velvety fruit ;
" but he will be better to cut to-morrow
about eleven, another afternoon's sun,
and the mellowing influence of the night
air, is wanted to make him perfect. Now
down here there's a chap that I ought to
have culled this morning, but I couldn't,
he looked so comfortable and happy."
He led the way down the path, still hold-
ing Lady Betty by the hand, towards the
" chap" in question ; but he stopped to
gently lift a peach from the naked brick
to the tenderer surface of a leaf, saying
as he did so : " Ha ! ha ! my boy ! you
will rub your cheek against that wall, will
When they came to the ripe favourite,
ii8 LADY BETTY'S VISIT.
he paused for a minute or two to point
out its excellent points to Lady Betty,
and then planting one foot on the path
and the other across the bed against the
wall, lie opened his knife and cut it
from the stem with as much care as if the
life of the tree were at stake. He placed
the fruit in Lady Betty's hand, and went
on to gather another and another until he
had collected six, and with these they
returned to the shadow of the apple-tree.
At tlie same moment Jerry came from the
house w^ith a bottle and glasses.
'' I've come upon a bottle of the green-
waxed Madeiry, master," said he.
'' Do you like Madeira, Miss Betty, or
do you prefer the red wine ?" asked the
Lady Betty expressed her satisfaction
W'ith Madeira, and the Doctor poured out
the wine, after carefully examining the
condition of the glasses.
LADY BETTY'S VISIT. 119
" Perhaps the young lady would like a
little Burgundy in about twenty minutes,"
" When we want more I will call you,
Jerry," said the Doctor, and then added
in an undertone : '' Tell your wife to
come and present her duty presently, and,
Jerry," as that servant was withdrawing
with comprehensive winks, " put about
half a shovelful of manure down against
the roots of that crinkley peach at once."
Lady Betty found the fruit worthy of
all Doctor Blandly had said in its com-
mendation, but could with difficulty
convince him that two were sufficient to
satisfy her appetite. That she might not
lose any particle of the flavour by other
considerations, the Doctor limited his
conversation to peaches during the feast,
and the stock of his comment upon that
fruit were yet unexhausted when Jerry's
wife, a neat spare woman of fifty or there-
LADY BETTY'S VISIT.
abouts, in lier best cap and a clean apron,
came down to the apple-tree to present
"Miss Betty," said Doctor Blandly,
''this is Kate, Jerry's wife. Kate, this
is Miss Betty St. Cyr, of whom I have
'' You will find me most obedient and
dutiful, Miss," said Kate, with a bob.
" And now, my dear, if you will follow
Kate, she will show you your room, and
get you anything you lack."
" Thank you. Doctor Blandly, I cannot
"Not stay, my dear!" exclaimed the
Doctor, with dejection. " There's a cold
haunch of mutton that's as short as
venison, that with a pickled walnut "
" And the damson pie made a purpose,"
added Kate. Lady Betty opened her
" The fact is," said the Doctor, in con-
LADY BETTY'S VISIT. 121
fusion. '^ I had a sort of impression, a
kind of prediction that you would come
to-day. You promised to visit me you
" I am, indeed sorry that I cannot stay.
I have fixed six o'clock this evening for
an interview at my house with the
"Well, my dear — business must be
minded, but I am disappointed. However,
you are to be my neighbour, and oppor-
tunities will not be wanting of tasting
Kate's excellent pies. Kate, you can
Kate made a bob, and with a few
" dootif ul words," retired.
*' Shall you return by the coach ?" asked
" Yes— if I can find a place."
" Jerry shall secure that for you. There
is a coach leaves the ' Angel' at four,
which will set you down at Hyde Park
122 LADY BETTY'S VISIT.
Corner. Had I been sure of your coming
and suspected that you would leave so
soon, I would certainly have retained a
friend of yours who left me this morning,
to accompany you."
" A friend of mine ?"
'' Gerard." The Doctor watched the
expression of Lady Betty's face to see
what effect the name made upon her.
Her cheek remained untinged with
" No, not Mr. Crewe — but your friend,
Gerard still. When did you see him
" He came to take me for a drive on
Thursday, in his Clarence."
" In his Clarence ?"
" I am not sure that it was his. It was
certainly not the one he usually uses —
but he keeps a Clarence. Does that
surprise you ?"
LADY BETTY'S VISIT. 123
The Doctor drew a long breath ;
then he smacked his thigh, and giving his
head a toss, cried :
" Well done, Gerard ! Yon young
people have the courage of the — hum ! of
St. George himself. Poor boy — so he
took you for a drive in a Clarence ! And
I'll be bound he said never a word of
his altered condition."
" N — 0—0," Lady Betty replied, opening
her eyes wider and wider. " What is the
mystery — why is he Gerard and not Mr.
Crewe, and why are you so astonished
that he took me for a drive ?"
" Because on Thursday morning I found
him lodged in a garret with nothing but a
pennyworth of clove-pinks to compensate
him for all the luxuries he has lost.
Surprised — no ; now I know^ him I am
not surprised at what he did to give you
pleasure. 'Twas not a miserable pride
that made him conceal his poverty, but the
124 LADY BETTYS VISIT.
fear that the knowledge would prevent
you accepting his services. Surprised!"
The Doctor exclaimed giving his thigh
another slap—'' not a bit of it. He is a
" Talbot !" cried Lady Betty, catching
his arm with trembling eager fingers —
''Yes, he is our poor Tom's brother !"
" And he is quite poor ?"
" Yes, poor as a poet. He has given
up his fashionable trade, because it was
not fit for an honest gentleman, and
because the honour of his family rests
" How can he be poor and Tom's
" Tom never knew of the relation-
" Ah ! I understand— but "
" Why does he not inherit his brother's
estate you ask. My dear, these are circum-
LADY BETTY'S VISIT. 125
stances whicli I cannot tell you. Tom was
tlie son of Admiral Talbot's first wife;
Gerard, the son of the second; but
between them a third person was born,
who was not the Admiral's son, and he
unfortunately, usurps a claim which cannot
" I do not want to know that. Gerard
is poor, and he spent money that he could
ill-afford to give his brother's sweetheart
'' You need not regret it. Miss Betty,"
the Doctor said, seeing the tear in her eye.
'' Regret it, no ! I rejoice in it. Tom
would have done that, but no man else
except his brother !"
'' They are gentlemen — English gen-
tlemen to the marrow, Miss Betty !"
"And what is Mr. , what is Gerard
— Gerard Talbot doing in his poor
" What usually is done in a garret — he
126 LADY BETTYS VISIT.
is writing a comedy. He brought a few
pages in his pocket yesterday, and I as-
sure you 'tis prodigious fine. I wanted my
friend Baxter, to hear 'em read, but the poor
man couldn't be spared. However, I have
bound Gerard to come every Sunday, and
read his week's work after dinner until
the five acts are finished. And you shall
come on Sundays, and so shall Baxter,
and we will listen to the man's work, and
give him our poor help, if we see right to
advise. What say you to that. Miss
Lady Betty's eyes glowed with pleasure.
She longed to look at Gerard in the new
character he bore to her.
" He is my brother — as much as though
the parson had married me to Tom," she
'' Well, well," said the Doctor, taking
out his snufE-box. " We shall see about
that. At any rate, you agree to dine
LADY BETTY'S VISIT. 127
with US next Sunday, and every Sunday
after, don't you, my dear ?"
" Oil, yes— that is " Lady Betty's
face lengthened. " I am only a governess,
and Mrs. Baxter "
"Oh! rir settle her— that is, Baxter
will arrange all that. He has a wonderful
influence over his wife has Baxter."
*' I shall be happy — very happy to come
and listen to his voice. I thank you
very much for the kindness in thinking of
me — and Doctor Blandly "
" Well, my dear."
" Do you mind my sending the elbow
chair here ?"
" Send it by all means. Is it the chair
you mentioned in your letter ?"
" Yes — I couldn't sell it, and I do
not want to take it amongst strange
"Let me have it. It shall be taken
care of whatever it is."
I30 BROTHER AND SISTER.
Tlie Reverend Jolin Baxter, with tears
in his eyes, said that he had promised to
explain Bunyan's " Holy War " to his
children, and could not escape.
" Very well then, you will come the
Sunday following," said the Doctor, in a
tone of irritation.
The Yicar looked at his wife for per-
mission, but that lady stood with her arms
folded one upon the other below her spare
bosom, her nostrils pinched, her lips her-
metically closed, and her stony eyes fixed
on vacancy— the very picture of in-
" Mrs. Baxter said you are to do as
you choose," cried the Doctor; ''unless
you doubt the truth of her assertion,
which would be unpardonable, you will
follow your own wishes ; and if you do
not come I shall take your refusal as a
Baxter plucked up courage, and in a
BROTHER AND SISTER. 131
faltering voice accepted the Doctor's
In consequence of this arrangement,
Doctor Blandly begged Gerard to defer
the reading of his work for a week,
which he willingly agreed to do, for as
yet he was not proud of his work, and
very much preferred devoting his
thoughts to Lady Betty than to his
He was astonished by the change he
found in her. She had never been to him
so softly sweet and charming. She was
at the house when he arrived, and ran
down the steps and across the grass-plot
to meet him. She called him Gerard for
the first time, as she held his hand and
looked up into his face with wide, melting
eyes. She pressed him to take refresh-
ment after the fatigue of his journey. She
seemed nervously happy, like a child in
the presence of a long-expected friend.
132 BROTHER AND SISTER.
She listened eagerly to everythiDg lie
said, smiled when he smiled, was gravely
anxious when he spoke of the difficulties
attending the work he had undertaken ;
he felt that her ejes were fixed upon him
when he was speaking to Doctor Blandly.
As they sat under the apple-tree, she
with a lapfull of flowers which she was
making up into bouquets for the decora-
tion of Doctor Blandly's chimney-piece, it
was his taste she consulted first in the
selection, his approval she demanded.
Now and then she looked up from her
occupation to his face, and returned to it
with a smile.
Was the happiness due to the natural
surroundings of flower and verdure, or to
his having entered the field of literature,
Gerard asked himself.
After doing full justice to the excellent
damson pie Kate had prepared for the oc
casion, Doctor Blandley, despite his endea-
BROTHER AND SISTER. 133
vours to keep awake, dropped into a doze,
seated in his Windsor chair; then Lady
Betty proposed a walk in the shady side of
the garden. She slipped her hand under
G-erard's arm, and was first to break the
silence which a mutual happiness had
" I know all, Grerard," she said softly.
" All, Lady Betty?"
"All that Doctor Blandly thought fit
for me to know — all that I want to know.
You are poor dear Tom's brother, and
since I am his widow — for indeed our
hearts were one — you are my brother also.
We are not quite alone in the world, you
and I — we have lost and we have found.
And you are glad to have me for a sister,
aren't you ?"
" I did not expect to gain so much of
" But you loved me, all the same. You
said to yourself, ' There's, my poor little
134 BROTHER AND SISTER.
sister all alone in the dismal house in Park
Lane ; she has no one to comfort her, no
one to take her away from herself,' and
you saved up your money, though you
were horribly poor, to hire a carriage for
my use. And while 1 still regarded you as
a stranger, and looked upon your generous
kindness as a mere act of gallantry, you
felt towards me as I feel towards you now."
'* Doctor Blandly has told you more
than he should."
" Not one word, Gerard, for he knew
'twould make me happy, and lessen my
grief. And, besides, should there be any
secrets between us, who are so near to
each other. There is nothing I would con-
ceal from you. I have made up my mind to
tell you every Sunday when we meet all
that has happened during the week, just
as a sister should tell her brother. I have
quite a great deal to tell you about my
new engagement. Poor Mr. Baxter is
BROTHER AND SISTER. 135
quite a martyr; his bread is buttered for
him like the children's, and Mrs. Baxter
is a tyrant — though she is excessively
gracious to me, and would make me ill
with good things if she could — but she is
a tyrant for all that, and she has a mouth
like this — look."
'' A pretty mouth then under the most
adverse conditions," said Gerard, regard-
ing the little moue Lady Betty made with
her soft, pretty lips.
" Even a brother's compliment must be
acknowledged," said Lady Betty, making
a mock courtesy. She was gay with ex-
citement ; and again taking Grerard's arm,
she continued : " Of course I cannot tell
you much yet — for I only took my ' situa-
tion ' yesterday ; but I shall keep a
diary, and you shall see it if you like
when we meet on Sundays. The boys,
my pupils, are dreadful children; they
kick their father's shins when their
134 BROTHER AND SISTER.
sister all alone in the dismal house in Park
Lane ; she has no one to comfort her, no
one to take her away from herself,' and
you saved up your money, though you
were horribly poor, to hire a carriage for
my use. And while I still regarded you as
a stranger, and looked upon your generous
kindness as a mere act of gallantry, you
felt towards me as I feel towards you now."
*' Doctor Blandly has told you more
than he should."
" Not one word, Gerard, for he knew
'twould make me ha^Dpy, and lessen my
grief. And, besides, should there be any
secrets between us, who are so near to
each other. There is nothing I would con-
ceal from you. I have made up my mind to
tell you every Sunday when we meet all
that has happened during the week, just
as a sister should tell her brother. I have
quite a great deal to tell you about my
new engagement. Poor Mr. Baxter is
BROTHER AND SISTER. 135
quite a martyr; his bread is buttered for
him like the children's, and Mrs. Baxter
is a tyrant — though she is excessively
gracious to me, and would make me ill
with good things if she could — but she is
a tyrant for all that, and she has a mouth
like this — look."
'' A pretty mouth then under the most
adverse conditions," said Gerard, regard-
ing the little onoue Lady Betty made with
her soft, pretty lips.
" Even a brother's compliment must be
acknowledged," said Lady Betty, making
a mock courtesy. She was gay with ex-
citement ; and again taking Grerard's arm,
she continued : " Of course I cannot tell
you much yet — for I only took my ' situa-
tion ' yesterday ; but I shall keep a
diary, and you shall see it if you like
when we meet on Sundays. The boys,
my pupils, are dreadful children ; they
kick their father's shins when their
136 BROTHER AND SISTER.
motlier's back is turned. I have made
tliem understand that they will have to
treat me with more respect, or they will
form the subject of an additional chapter
to Fox's ' Book of Martyrs.' I pity poor
Mr. Baxter this afternoon, he has to
interest them with an explanation of
Bunyan's ' Holy War.' I could never
understand it, could you ?"
'' I don't think that I ever attempted
" I used to love the 'Pilgrim's Progress'
until I was told it was a kind of riddle
with a moral answer to it." Lady Betty
paused, possibly to take breath, and after
a moment's silence, she said, giving
Gerard's arm a little pinch :
" T am so glad you are writing a
" You prefer a poor poet to a wealthy
" That depends. Poets as a rule are
BROTHER AND SISTER. 137
rather ridiculous, whereas there is a clash
and spirit about gamesters that recom-
mend them to my taste. I do like
courage, even when it is not quite what
folks call ' proper.' "
" There is no courage in playing with
the assurance of winning, and a gamester
who plays for his living must have that
'' That is true. 'Tis, perhaps, simply
because the gamester wears a better coat
that girls prefer him to the poet. Men
are guided by what they think, we girls
by what we see, I believe."
" Would you have liked me equally had
I remained a gamester?"
"Oh, no ; you wouldn't have seemed to
me like a brother of Tom's if you had
done that which he would have scorned to
do. And I couldn't have felt so proud of
you if you had not accepted poverty for
the honour of your name."
138 BROTHER AND SISTER.
'' Still you do not care for poets."
" Not those who write elesfant lines and
are always rhyming anguish and languish,
and hearts and darts. Oh, I hate the
name of Phyllis ! Those poets are very
different to men who can write plays.
How many acts shall you have in your
" I hope they will be good long acts."
" You are not afraid that your patience
will be exhausted ?"
" Oh, no ; I am always sorry when a
play is over, and I shall be ready to cry
when the irritable old father is at length
forced to give his consent to the marriage
of the young people, and the servants and
friends drop in and begin to form a semi-
circle at the back of the principal
'' But supposing I end. my comedy in a
different manner ?"
BROTHER AND SISTER. 139
'' Can you, Gerard ?" asked Lady Betty,
in grave doubt.
'' I think so."
" You must be clever."
" That remains to be seen. I have
'' I have none," cried Lady Betty,
firmly. " A man who can do admirable
things must be able to write them. When
do you think you shall finish your
'' By the end of the year, I hope."
" There are a great many Sundays
before then, and you will read all that you
have done every week. That will be
lovely. And afterwards it will be played
at the theatre."
'' If the manager does not reject it."
*' Oh, he cannot be so stupid as all that.
Doctor Blandly and I will have a side-box
all to ourselves, and get there the moment
the doors open, and I shall be dreadfully
140 BROTHER AND SISTER.
impatient until the curtain goes up, but
all the same I wouldn't miss a moment of
the time; and then, when the curtain
drops, I will clap. It may not be genteel,
but I'll clap with all my might. I should
like Mr. and Mrs. Baxter and the children
to be somewhere in the house where I
could see them — not in the same box with
me. I should not have patience with
them, they would seem so commonplace
and vulgar. How those boys would clap
if I promised them something — or if their
father told them not to. And then, when
the five acts were played, all the audience
would insist upon your coming forward
on the stage, and then I shouldn't be able
to see you for crying."
The girl's eyes were tearful in anticipa-
tion of such joy, and Gerard, looking
down upon her sensitive, sweet face, felt
that there was a stronger incentive to
struggle for success than poverty.
BROTHER AND SISTER. 141
"Dear heart o' me!" exclaimed tlie
Doctor, opening liis eyes about this time,
" I declare I must have lost consciousness
for half a minute. Where are the young
people ? I must make my excuses to them
for my want of manners."
He jumped up, and catching sight of
their figures through the hollyhocks,
crossed the lawn briskly in that direction.
Suddenly he paused. They had their
backs towards him, walking leisurely
down the path, Lady Betty leaning on
Gerard's arm, he looking down upon her
The Doctor took out his snuff-box,
planted his feet a foot asunder, set
his head on one side, and, slowly smooth-
ing the lid of his box with the ball of his
thumb, said to himself, "The child loves
him for being the brother of her dead
lover ; but the end of loving him for the
sake of another will probably be that she
BROTHER AND SISTER.
will love him for himself, thinking more of
him as another fades from her memory."
Then the Doctor took his pinch,
which seemed to srive him much satis-
IN TOMS PLACE.
ADY BETTY hailed the returning
Sunday with a feeling of intense
satisfaction. The occupation of
the week had not distressed her — had
not been half so unpleasant as she ex-
pected. The children had distracted her
thoughts, and made her forget her
troubles for the greater part of the day.
But she did not wish to forget : it seemed
to her like the neglect of an affectionate
duty to give so little of her time to the
memory of Tom. The vague religious
144 IN TOM'S PLACE.
teaching she liad received led her to
imagine that his immortal spirit was
cognisant of all she did, and she feared to
grieve him by neglect. She did not think of
his sensitive jealousy as a mortal weakness.
She longed for a day to devote to him ;
to kneel in church and worship God and
holy things with his unseen essence by
her side. After the service she would
go home with Doctor Blandly, and there
meet Gerard, in whom she found, or
fancied that she found, a hundred points
of resemblance to her dead lover, and who
was united to her by sympathy and an
afi&nity of misfortune.
Mrs. Baxter's religion was of another
kind, and Sunday was, of course, a day
of penance. From the moment she rose
she spoke in a low, sepulchral voice, as if
some one lay dead in the house. She walked
slowly and firmly, moving like an engine
at half speed. She made the chocolate
IN TOM'S PLACE. 145
weaker than usual, and substituted dry
toast for the customary dish of bacon.
Half an hour before it was necessary she
arrayed herself in the most hearse-like
costume, a sable plume in her beaver
bonnet, and a black velvet pall over her
shoulders, and sat in the sitting-room
issuing orders to the servant-maid in the
kitchen without moving her head or a
muscle of her limbs. The moment that
the church bell commenced to call folks to
church she summoned Baxter, and having
inspected him from the top of his wig to
the tag of his shoe-string, to assure her-
self that he was in a creditable state, she
took his arm and led him off to the
Lady Betty followed with the two boys,
Samuel and Luke, and took them with
her into the vicar's family pew, while
Mrs. Baxter, having cast a sharp eye
round the empty church to see that the
VOL. III. 49
146 IN TOM'S PLACE.
pew-opener had neglected none of his
duties, conducted her husband into the
vestry to give him the finishing touches
before abandoning him to his own
The Yicar's family-pew was a square
stronghold, with high oak walls, which
defended its occupants from vulgar ob-
servation. As the door closed, the two
boys went to their hassocks, sank upon
their knees, and buried their faces in their
hands. Lady Betty sat for a moment
looking at them with adoring love in her
heart. They were rude and tiresome in
their daily lives, they had no respect for
their father, they fought in private, they
stole the sugar on those rare occasions
when it was unguarded by lock and key,
they ate of the fruit which was all for-
bidden in their mother's orchard, but
their faults found expiation in Lady
Betty's eyes by this simple act of devotion.
7A^ TOM'S PLACE. 147
Could she offer to heaven a prayer so
innocent and acceptable as theirs ? As
she knelt she implored with her whole
heart to be made trusting and simple as
these little children.
The rustling of her dress and the
silence that followed were understood by
the two boys, and first Samuel, with his
mouth open, turned his head cautiously,
and then Luke, with his tongue hanging
out, did the same, and both perceiving
that " teacher" was deep in prayer, they
grinned at each other. Then Samuel
rummaged in his pocket for a stump of
lead pencil, while Luke turned back the
cushion silently, after that they began a
silent but exciting game of noughts and
crosses, which was not without signifi-
The bell pealed and then tolled, pews
opened and shut, coughing began in
good earnest, the clerk took his place in
148 77V TOM'S PLACE.
the box under the pulpit, and suddenly
Luke turned back the cushion, Samuel
concealed the stump of pencil in his capa-
cious mouth, and both buried their faces
again, for among the many sounds they
distinguished the approaching footsteps of
their mother. She looked round at her
children and her governess with a feeling
of devout satisfaction, and as she also
knelt, she considered that it would be
false humility to deny that she had done
her duty to Heaven and to her family.
Then the Reverend John Baxter ascended
his pulpit, from which, as from a donjon, he
could securely look down into the family
fortress below, and the service began.
When the congregation rose. Lady Betty
obtained a glimpse of the gallery; she
turned her eyes towards the seat occupied
by Doctor Blandly, and saw Gerard stand-
ing by his side. Her face flushed with
pleasure, and a sign of recognition passed
IN TOM'S PLACE. 149
between them which did not escape Mrs.
Baxter. Who could this thin, elegant
young gentleman be? she asked herself,
a friend of Doctor Blandly' s ? Why had
she heard nothing of him from Baxter ?
Was he engaged to Lady Betty? if so,
why had she not discovered the fact under
that delicate cross-examination to which
she had been subjected during the week ?
When they met at the church-door after
the service, she learnt that his name was
Gerard Talbot, and it somewhat recon-
ciled her to her husband's departure to
think that she should know all that was
to be known of the stranger when Baxter
returned at night.
As soon as Lady Betty was alone with
Gerard, Doctor Blandly leading the way
with Baxter across the meadow from the
Vicarage, she said, taking his arm :
" Thank you, Gerard."
**For what, Lady Betty?"
150 IN TOM'S PLACE.
*' For coming so early."
" Didn't you expect me ?"
''Not so early. The first coach does
not arrive on Sunday before half-past
eleven; I asked."
" Then you hoped I might come early !"
" Of course I did ! It must cost a
great deal for a carriage all that distance
''It cost me nothing, I walked."
" Oh, poor Gerard ! You must be worn
" 'Tis no distance for a man," said he.
" Such a morning as this would tempt me
to walk, if I were ten times lazier."
" 'Twas not the morning that induced
you to come ; if it had rained ever so
hard you w'ould have come all the same.
You said to yourself, ' it will please my
sister to see me in church,' and that was
IN TOM'S PLACE. 151
" Perhaps it would have been sufficient
had I said to myself, ' it will please me to
see my sister.' "
" You use the very words that Tom
would have used, Gerard," sighed
He did not reply, and she, attributing
the shade of sadness which had overcast
his face to recollections of his dead
brother, endeavoured to remove the effect
her words had produced by changing the
" Have you written much of your
comedy this week ?" she asked.
" I have finished the first act. Last
night I saw Mr. Kemble, and he promises
to read what I have done, and give me
his opinion, if I take it to him next
*' Oh, that is famous news. You must
have worked very hard."
" I found it easier to write thinking of
152 IN TOM'S PLACE.
all you said last Sunday. You have
given me hope and courage."
" 'Tis little enough I can do to help
you, Gerard. I am not clever, and 'tis
not with cleverness I would help you,
for I would have the glory of succeeding
to be due to you alone. But all that I
can do to make your task less difficult,
your life less burdensome, that I will do
with all my heart." She paused, and
they were both silent for a time, then she
continued : '' I have been trying to think
in these last few moments how I can be
of service to you, but I can find no
means of gratifying my wish. I am like
a poor bankrupt who sees distress all
around him, and has no means of giving
relief. What can I do ?"
Gerard's arm trembled beneath her
hand as he said in a low voice :
'' Suffer me to hope."
" For success, Gerard ? why that is
IN TOM'S PLACE. 153
assured. I am certain that your comedy
will be well accepted."
'' I have built hopes far higher than the
mere triumph of my brain. Knowing what
I have been, what I am, I dare scarcely
tell myself all that my soul desires."
" Whisper but a word, and I will guess
the rest. Why should you conceal any-
thing from me ? Is there anyone living
dearer to me than you ?'*
" If you knew how solitary my life
has been, how utterly alone and uncared
for I have stood amongst my fellow-
creatures, you would understand the
emotion that your mere friendship pro-
duces, and readily perceive what hope my
exalted imagination conceives."
Lady Betty looked at the agitated man
beside her in perplexity a moment, and
" Is it my affection you hope for?" she
154 I^' TO\rs PLACE.
" Ii is indeed."'
" ^V~hy. Gerard, yon have it. Are yon
not my brother as well as his ? How
donbtfnl von men are. Tom, mv hnsband,
donbted of mr love, and von. mv brother,
of mv affection. Kiss me, Gerard — kiss
my lips, and donbt no more that I am in
truth yotir sister.''
Gerard bent and tonched her willing
Kps, and she looked at him afterwards
with wide eyes, her cheeks pale with
anxiety for his peace, and finding him still
troubled, she did what a woman usually
does in such emergencies, turned the
subject, and endeavoured to interest him
in indifferent matters.
" What a fool my passion has made me
— how blind and rash," thought Gerard ;
*' but that her thoughts of love can dwell
only on poor Tom, she would have caught
the meaning of mv words, and straight-
IN TOM'S PLACE. 155
Tvay I must have lost her afcection and
The Reverend John Baxter sat down
to his dinner in the merriest of moods ;
he gi ew grave after the roast, and learned
with the pie: after that he loosened the
lower buttOL >:: Lis waistcoat, and attacked
the port in silence. Lady Betty led the
way with Gerard to the garden ; tlie doctor
and the parson were -_ -::_ to follow,
that it was to be presumed they took that
which is the best d:^rs:iv- :: a good
dinner — a doze. However. :-.fy were
both wide awake when they at length
made their appearance, and neither Gerard
nor Lady Betty showed any signs of im-
"Jerry will bring us a dish of tea to
settle our spirits, and then, Gerard, we will
hear the new comedy," said Doctor
A table was set under the apple-tree.
156 IN TOM'S PLACE.
and when Jerry liad served the tea, Doctor
Blandly placed a chair before the board for
Lady Betty, and was about to seat himself,
when he stopped abruptly, and turning to
Jerry, said with asperity —
"How is this, Sir ? Only three chairs
for four people. Fetch another, in-
Gerard, as the younger, stood ; the two
elder gentlemen seated themselves. Pre-
sently Jerry returned carrying a velvet-
"'Tis Tom's!" cried Lady Betty,
catching sight of it, and half -rising from
her seat, alarmed less the sacred seat
should be profaned.
" Then I think, my dear, it will be very
proper that we ask Gerard to use it," said
Doctor Blandly, with quiet firmress.
Lady Betty smiled faintly, and mur-
mured : " He is next in our hearts."
And so Gerard took Tom's place in the
IN TOMS PLACE. 157
empty chair, as Doctor Blandly had doubt-
less intended he should. Before the cups
were empty, Dr. Blandly, with Lady
Betty's permission, lit his pipe, that he
mi^ht, with the philosophic calm produced
by the smoke of good birdseye, consider
the merits of the literary work about to
be read; and then looking round to see
that the Eeverend John Baxter was also
in full possession of his faculties, he said :
" Now, Sir ; for the comedy."
And Gerard, without hesitation, opened
his manuscript and read.
A very good picture they formed, that
little company sitting under the apple-
tree, against a background of peaches
and pink hollyhocks. Lady Betty in
her black crape dress with short sleeves,
her long white, round arms resting
upon her lap ; Doctor Blandly, with his
shapely legs crossed, his portly person,
his fair, strong, yet kindly face, his head
158 IN TOM'S PLACE.
thrown well back in critical expectancy, and
pouting his lips over the waxed end of
his long pipe ; the Reverend John Baxter
with his elbow on his knee, his chin upon
his thumb, his index finger sagely pointed
towards his red nose, his brows knitted
with intense intellectual application ; and
lastly, Gerard, spare, white and anxious,
seated in his brother's chair, and turned
with his face towards Lady Betty, holding
the manuscript before him.
BAENABAS AND HIS COURT.
HILE the wines in the cellar of
Talbot House held out, Barnabas
realised his own ideal of hap-
piness. He lived royally, accordinp^ to his
own conception. His court was composed
of the half-dozen rascals who had sup-
ported his entrance to the estate, and the
vagabond lawyer served for prime minister.
His leg was yet painful ; he could not
move about without a stick or some such
support, but this inconvenience was of
small importance, as he had no inclination
leo BARNABAS AND HIS COURT.
for exercise, and rarelj stirred from his
seat. He sat at the head of the long oak
table, in the grand old banqueting-hall in
a capacious high-backed chair, his leg
supported on cushions, one hand resting
on a Venetian glass, and the other holding
a halfpenny clay pipe. His lawyer sat at
his right hand, his followers sat below,
each man with a bottle and a paper of
tobacco before him.
He boasted and lied, and his court listened.
He told old filthy jests, and they roared
with laughter ; he swore, and they looked
grave. H anyone fell asleep under the in-
fluence of the drink before him, he rose
from his seat, maugre his leg, took a candle
from the sconce, and set fire to the sleeper's
hair, or poured red wine down his neck,
and limped back to his seat grinning malig-
nantly. He was too vile to laugh heartily,
even at the success of his own practical
jokes. When he himself was besotted
BARNABAS AND HIS COURT. i6i
and drowsy, he swept bottles and glasses
off the table, sprawled out his arms,
and laid his leaden head upon them
moaning and grunting until his drunken-
ness had passed off, and he could sit up
to drink again. They never went to bed,
never changed their linen, never touched
water, but sat there, drinking and sleep-
ing, occasionally eating, perpetually
smoking, until the floor was strewn with
broken bottles and gnawed bones, and the
great room stunk with the filthy tobacco,
and the reek of that foul company. One
day Barnabas awaking from a long sleep,
more sober than usual, looked round upon
the litter of broken bottles and his sleep-
ing comrades, and after five minutes
cogitation, roared out for Slink.
'' How many bottles are there in the
cellar ?" he asked, when Slink appeared
at the door.
'' About a score, your honour."
VOL. III. 60
i62 BARNABAS AND HIS COURT.
" What !" shouted Barnabas.
Slink repeated liis answer, keeping on
the alert to dodge the bottle which
Barnabas generally hurled when dis-
" Come here, and help me up. I'll go
and see for myself."
He hobbled down to the cellar with much
difficulty and profuse blasphemy, and
ascertained that Slink had told him no-
thing but the truth. Then swearing at
his friends, at himself for his insane
liberality, he locked the cellar-door, and
returned to his customary seat with the
key in his pocket. From that moment he
did not part with it except when he
wanted a bottle for his own consump-
When his fellows awoke and called for
refreshment, Barnabas bade Slink bring a
can of water, and bluntly told them that
they would get no other kind of liquor at
BARNABAS AND HIS COURT. 163
his expense in future. The moment that
this new regulation was found to be no
practical joke but a serious fact, the
company withdrew to the other end of the
table and held a council, while Barnabas
smoked and looked at them in sullen
indifference. At the end of a brief con-
ference, the lawyer came forward as
spokesman and addressed Barnabas.
" Your friends have got business to do.
They wish to be paid for their ser-
vices and to go to their homes," said
" Well, pay them, and let them go,"
replied Barnabas, with an oath.
" I have no money."
" You said the steward had the collect-
ing of the rents."
" He refuses to give me anything."
" And quite right too — send for him."
The steward was sent for and presently
i64 BARNABAS AND HIS COURT.
" You have had some rents to collect
from the cottages: where is it?" asked
" In my keeping," replied Blake.
" Give it to me."
" Not a penny-piece," said Blake, fold-
ing his arms. '' My orders be to give all
that comes in to Doctor Blandly."
" What has Doctor Blandly to do with
my estate ?"
" Doctor Blandly is Mr. Tummus's
agent, and I'm his servant."
" Well, then yon can just go and serve
Mr. Thomas," Barnabas said with a sneer
and another oath, '' and if you are not off
the estate in half an hour, I'll have you
" The first man that lays his hand on
me shall be taken to the lock-up, and the
rest after them, if they dare to interfere
''We will soon see about that! Take
BARNABAS AND HIS COURT. 165
the old fool and pitch him into the horse-
pond, you fellows."
No one moved a hand. He swore and
threatened in vain. The steward stood
"You and that old idiot the Doctor,
shall answer for this," cried Barnabas,
smashing a glass down on the floor. " Do
you still refuse to obey me ?"
" Yes. I serve only Doctor Blandly,
and these are my orders. You are to be
suffered to remain at the Hall and keep
what company and servants you like at
your own expense. You are to be allowed
to shoot game for your own use. But if
you offer a single bird for sale, or remove
but one article from the house, or cut so
much as a single branch from one of the
trees, I'm to take the lawyer's papers
before the nearest magistrate and demand
his protection of Mr. Thomas's pro-
1 66 BARNABAS AND HIS COURT.
'* The property's mine now my brother
" Ah ! you'll have to prove that."
Barnabas turned to his lawyer, who
appeared to be not at all surprised at
what he heard.
" Here, what's to be done ?" he asked.
The lawyer shrugged his shoulders.
" Do you want to know anything more
of me ?" asked the steward.
*' Get out, curse you !" shouted
Humphrey Blake left the room.
'' You said I could take possession,"
" You have," replied his counsellor.
"But how am I to defeat this cursed
" Find the body of your brother, and
you can laugh at him."
" By George, I will. Set a score of
fellows todraof the river from end to end."
BARNABAS AND HIS COURT. 167
" Give me the money to pay them."
" I haven't a guinea. Raise money for
me — I'll sign any paper you like — you
shall make your own terms for payment
when I get the money."
" It is impossible to raise money until
your title is established."
" You said you could make a case for
the Chancery Courts."
'' So I can, but not without money. You
owe me a long bill now."
'' But I'll pay you what you ask when
I get my title — why don't that satisfy
" Because I don't believe you ever will
get your title."
Amidst the storm of oaths and impre-
cations that followed this announcement,
the lawyer and his associates withdrew,
merely putting in their pockets such
articles of value as they could conceal
from the vigilant eyes of the steward, and
i68 BARNABAS AND HIS COURT.
one by one sneaked away from the Hall
and its penniless tenant, with no intention
The only immediate regret Barnabas
felt in their departure was, that it bad not
taken place before. They had drunk best
part of his wine, and what should he do
when he had finished the remainder?
The question was fraught with such
gloomy forebodings that he despatched
it from his thoughts, determining to face
the evil when it came — as often before he
had shirked the reflection that he would be
hanged at some subsequent date. It was
when night came, and the candles failed to
light up the further corners of the large
room, that he missed his companions.
The dim corners had a fascination for his
eyes, which grew with the terrible pictures
that came before his heated and disor-
dered imagination. He pictured Tom in
the likeness of a corpse he had once seen
BARNABAS AND HIS COURT. 169
drawn from a pond after long lying there,
and fancied him stepping in that hideons
mortality from out the gloom.
'' Light all the candles !" he said to
" There be but a dozen left, master, and
they are nigh down to the sockets,"
said Slink, as he moved to obey the com-
He asked himself what night would
be with neither companions, nor wine,
nor light. The reflection was productive
of a fresh command :
'' Fetch me another bottle, and then
blow out every candle but one."
As the lights one after the other were
blown out he drank the bottle, his eyes
wandering from corner to corner ; when
only one was left he shut his eyes and
tried to sleep.
The next day he sent Slink out to sell
his horse. Slink obeyed with a sorry
170 BARNABAS AND HIS COURT.
heart, for tlie horse had been his comfort
through the miserable months, and had
improved in appearance under his careful
grooming, since the first unlucky day it
was given to him. He had not the spirit
to higgle over the sale, and accepting the
first offer that was made for the beast, he
brought his master forty shillings, and
had a bottle flung at his head for his
pains. The money was spent in candles
and strong ale.
Once more at night-time he forced
Slink to play at picquet, but with nothing
to gain and no inducement to cheat, the
play had so little hold upon his mind,
that his senses were for ever wandering
to catch strange noises or the fantastic
shadows thrown by a guttering candle.
His only recourse was to stupify his brain
with tobacco and beer.
One moring he limped up the staircase
and along the great corridor to examine
BARNABAS AND HIS COURT. 171
the cliambers. They were all large, but
one seemed less awful than the rest, and
he decided upon going there at night,
thinking to sleep sounder in a bed than
cramped over a table. But when the
light faded, he dared not go away from
the banqueting-hall — that at least he
knew ; its nooks and hollows were familiar
The corridor was mysterious even
in the light which came through the
coloured oriel window at the end, it would
be awful at night. And the chamber
— might it not have a secret door ; might
he not find something lying in the bed
when he opened it ; these reflections passed
through his muddled, enfeebled, guilty
mind, and kept him to the larger
There was no one in the great house
but himself and Slink. Slink was in-
dispensable. He shot the game, cooked it,
172 BARNABAS AND HIS COURT.
ate with him, submitted to his bullying,
slept in the same room lying on the
sofa, in that dark corner which Barnabas
feared most, and waited on him with the
docility and patience of a born servant.
But he added not a little to his nightly
When he detected his master pausing
to listen, in the act of raising a glass
to his lips, he showed the liveliest
symptoms of dread, ejaculating, ''Oh,
Lord !" and '' merciful powers defend us !"
and fell a chattering with his teeth as
though in an ague ; if Barnabas dropped
his pipe, and fixed his eyes upon the
obscurity, Slink would drop on his knees,
imploring the angels to have mercy upon
"What are you afeard of?" Barnabas
asked one night. " You've fastened the
shutters and barred all the doors, haven't
BARNABAS AND HIS COURT. 173
" All the doors I knows on, master ; but
what does that signify ! The place is like
a rabbit warren; there's a dozen passages
only known to the rightful owners ; a
dozen doors as open secret-like into the
west wing. You can smell the moulder-
ing walls and the rotten floors when you
pass by the big staircase, for all its bein'
shut off this hund'ed years, and closed
with boards and green baize that the
great, long-legged spiders and wood-
louses crawl over. What's doors to
" Ghosts ! What are you talking
about ? D'ye think I take heed of such
" It may be rubbish, but I've heard as
murdered men must walk till they're laid
with bell and candle, and whose to lay
Master Tom, when his body's Oh,
good Lord ! what are you looking at,
BARNABAS AND HIS COURT.
" Hold your cursed tongue, and go
sit over yonder where tlie curtain
THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS,
T was a wretched existence that
Slink led even in the broad light
of day, when Barnabas himself
was free from superstitious apprehen-
Humphrey Blake, having sifted all the
evidence he could collect, had arrived
at a tolerably close approximation to the
truth. Why Doctor Blandly pooh-poohed
his conclusions he did not know ; he was
equally in the dark as to the true relation-
ship of Barnabas to the Talbot family.
176 THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS.
What he maintained, with the persevering
obstinacy of conceit, was that Barnabas
was an imposter, and in all probability
Master Tom's murderer. Doctor Blandly's
obstinacy in refusing to credit his belief
piqued the egotistical old man's pride, and
strengthened his desire to prove the truth
of his convictions. One person could if
he chose reveal the fact, and he was
But Slink, for a very good reason,
was silent and stubborn, and refused not
only to tell the latter events in his
master's career, but to reveal any of his
antecedents, despite the most artful and
persevering cross-examination to which
the steward subjected him. Wrath
against him for his contumacy rather than
for any supposed participation in the
murder, Blake unwisely removed the one
chance he had of making discoveries — he
forbade Jenny, on pain of being sent away
THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS. 177
to her maiden aunt in Lancashire, to
speak to SUnk. On the other hand, he
threatened Slink with the most severe
punishment if he caught him sneaking
about the lodge.
By these means he hoped to bring the
lad to confess ; but as time went on and
Slink made no sign of submission, he ex-
tended his punishment by forbidding the
workers on the estate to have any com-
munication with Slink, so that the poor
fellow suffered all the pains of ostracism,
with the additional pain of knowing those
who shunned him for old friends. Master
Blake refused to let him have even the
company of a dog, and forbade him to
enter any of the stables except that set
apart for his master's horse. There would
have been pleasure in shooting hares with
a dog to start them from their coverts ;
there was none in hunting alone.
One morning he shot a woodpigeon,
VOL. III. 51
178 THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS.
and as lie was jumping down tlie bank
into the road, to secure the fluttering bird,
his ears were greeted with the sound
of a well-remembered voice, crying in a
rich brogue :
" Well done, me boy ; I couldn't a hit
um better myself."
Turning round he discovered the old
pedlar, Barney O'Crewe, seated on the
bank, with his pack on one side of him, a
bottle on the other, and three inches of
black clay pipe between his fingers.
" Whoy faix, 'tis my own swate friend,
Toby !" the pedlar exclaimed, rising and
then grasping Slink's hand, he added :
" Oi'm charmed to renew th' acquaintince,
The devil himself, with such a warm
demonstration of friendship, would have
been welcome to the unhappy Slink ; what-
ever doubts he might have had as to
the pedlar's sincerity were forgotten.
THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS. 179
and hearing tlie unctions voice, lie could
only remember the songs and stories
which had delighted him in the loft on the
night of their previous meeting. He
grinned from ear to ear, and beamed
grateful acknowledgemet of the friendly-
" An' y'are out in the mornun a shootin'
birds and bastes, like a rale gentleman, as
Slink nodded assent.
" It does me good to see the same,"
continued the pedlar. " And is the master
wid yer ?"
" He's at the Hall, being laid up with
a broken leg, but it's nigh healed now."
" Ah ! he's got into the Hall, has he ?
good luck to him ; and he's taken his
own proper name, Mr. Thaophilus Tal-
Slink nodded again.
" Well, my boy, ye shall jist take me
i8o THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS,
up to the Hall the way yeVe come, for
I'm not proud, and I've a moighty pra-
delection against passing the lodge, which
is the raison I've been resting myself on
this sod for the last hour, takun a philo-
sophicle look at things. Putt your lips,
to commence wid, at the bottle,
darlint ; you know the flavor of it, ye
divil, ye deu ! Putt the bird in your
pockut, 'tis an illigant bird, to be
sure, and a murtherin' sin to lave it
Slink pocketed the bird, and with a
glance down the road to be sure that
Master Blake was not in sight,
assisted the old pedlar in climbing up
the bank and entering the wood. When
these difl&Gulties were overcome, the
garrulous Barney recommenced talking,
leaning affectionately upon the arm of his
" I've been a prayun to the blessed
THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS. i8i
saints for ye, darlint, and I hope to good-
ness the master trates ye koindly."
" That's all right," said Slink.
"Beca'se 'tis a jewel in his crown to
have a faithful sarvint, and there's few in
the warld that's the loikes of you, divil a
wan ! ye desarve to be trated handsome,
and ye shall be, for oim goun to stay a
bit wid the master, and I'll spake a good
word in your favor, besides entertainin'
ye wid all the beautiful songs and stories
in my rickollection, wid a taste of the
bottle in betwixt and betwane."
• Slink's face expanded in the broadest of
" Ye shall take another taste of the
same, immagiate as a token, darlint."
He stojDped, drew out the stone bottle
from his pack, and having administered
the dose and resumed his march, he said,
in a tone more wheedling and soft than
iS2 THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS.
'' 'Tis the blessed saints as guided ye
to me this mornun in answer to my
prayers, for I've been a dyun to see you
a long toime, and have an agraible con-
virsation wid ye. And now ye shall tell
me all wliat's been a liappenin' to ye
since I bade ye good-bye at tlie ' Lone
He paused to give Slink an opportunity
of acting upon his suggestion, but find-
ing bim disinclined to break silence lie
" I've been making inquoiries in tlie
town, and the inn beyond the hill, and
they tell me that Misther Thomas Talbot
has been croally murthered, but I can't
belave it; is it tlirue, now ?"
"Why wasn't I borned a lawyer?"
Barney asked himself, and tlien with a
smile he said : '' So you know he was
murthered. Now can you tell me in
THE MEETIXG OF OLD FRIENDS. 183
sacret and confidance who murthered
" No, I can't," said Slink, stoutly.
" Well, that bothers me complatelj, for
they tells me it was the master as mur-
thered 'um, and seein' you follows 'um
loike his own blessed shadder, 'tis im-
possable he could have done it and you
not know. So I say, darlint, that y'are
mistuk. Master Thomas was not mur-
'' Yes he was."
" But I say he was nut ; and so how
can ye say he was?"
"Because he was shot and " Slink
" And buried dacent in the river.
Thrue for you, my swate friend ; but how
d'ye know he was shot, seein' his body
was niver brought to light ?"
Slink bent his brows in silence.
" I'd a been a raal judge, and done
i84 THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS.
nothun but putt on the black cap from
mornuii' til night, if Providence had
edicated me to the laigal profission,"
thought the pedlar.
''Look here, Sir," said Slink, "you'll
see the master directly, and he can tell
you all you want to know, I daresay.
Let's talk about something else."
The amiable pedlar was so well
pleased with himself and Slink that he
made no objection to this proposal, but
entered at once upon the narration of
several anecdotes, which made the road
to the Hall too short to his admiring com-
Barnabas was no less pleased than
Slink had been to see the pedlar. He
had need of a lively companion, and
hoped that his father's superior cunning
would enable him in a short time to be
independant of assistance. He concealed
his feelings, however, as well as he could.
THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS. 185
and only responded to O'Crewe's flattery
and protestations of " ondying affiction"
with a grunt or a nod.
Nothing daunted by this cold reception,
the pedlar exerted himself to amuse his
son, and get him into a good temper, and
so far succeeded in raising him from liis
morbid prostration, that lie saw the
candles lit without a shudder, and bade
Slink get out of the room directly after,
partly because he could do without him,
bub chiefly because Slink evidently enjoyed
the pedlar's conversation, and wished to
Banished from the room, Slink con-
tented himself with listening at the key-
hole to the pedlar's songs and stories,
until clapping his eye to the key-hole,
after a minute's silence, he perceived him
walking towards the door, when he retired
with alacrity, and took refuge in a deep
embrasure by the great stairs. From this
i86 THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS.
hiding-place he saw the door open, and
the pedlar come out and stand in a listen-
ing attitude for a moment or two, then
return to the room, closing the door after
It was some time before he dared
return to the door, but at length the
misery of sitting alone in the dark and
silence while good things were being said
in the adjacent room overcame his fears
of discovery, and he cautiously approached
the convenient key-kole, and bent his ear
" 'Tis moighty hard, and so it is, to
get the hold truth out of ye, Barney, my
darlint," the pedlar was saying. '' It
does ye credit, and I'm proud on ye. If
you was as simple as your sarvint, Slink,
I'd turn ye inside out like a pair o' leather
breeches in half a minit. If ye knowed
how I've been a prayun to the holy
saints, and sthrugglin' and sthrivin' to
THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS. 187
learn the blessed trutli, to help ye in
your misfortunes, ye'd be more agraible
and complaisaint. Isn't it all for your
own good, my blessed Barney, that I'd
have you revale the holy sacrets of your
bussom to me ? Sure, I larned more
from that swate innocint lamb, Mr. Slink,
in two minutes than ye've condescended
to tell me in half-an-hour."
" What has he told you — blabbing
" Nothing at all but to your honour.
He only towld me how you shot um and
thro wed his body in the wather."
" It's a lie."
" To be sure, I made a mistake. 'Twas
you shot 'im, and the lad that throwed um
into the river."
''I'll stop the fool's tongue; I'll have
his life to-morrow."
" Barney, my darlint, y'are right. You
i88 THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS.
shall have his life — but not to-morrow,
my brave boy."
" What do you mean ?"
" Listen to me, swaitest. Ye want
ividence of Masther Tom's death in order
that ye may come into your holy rights
and trew inheritince, don't ye ?"
" Supposun to-morrow mornun, soon as
the glorious sun is a-spreadun a blush of
beauty over the charmun face o' nature,
I go to the nairest magistrate and says,
' Yer honour, there's a secret on my
moind that I must revale or my con-
science will droive me to dispiration. I
know who 'twas that murthered and did
for that gentleman of quality, Mr. Thomas
"Will you betray me?"
"Not a bit of it, darlint. Putt down
the bottle when you've took a drink.
This is how the whole business wull be
THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS. 189
transacted. I'll say to tlie magistrate,
' If it plase your lionour, Sor, I was
walkun' along quite paceable by tlie side
of the river, thinkin' o' nothing in the
world but the blessed saints in heaven,
whan I see a man on horseback comun'
towards me, and takun' um to be no
better than a highwayman, I jumped
t'other side the hedge, and laid there wid
my pack in mortal tripidation and
almoighty fear, till of a suddint I heard
a pistol-shot and a scrame, and the nixt
moment I seed a horse run bye widout
no one on his back at all at all, and the
blessed Virgin inspirin' me wid the
courage of a lion I crept along behint the
hedge so as I couldn't be seen till I come
in sight of a blackguard as was draggun'
a gintleman into the cowld water. By
the light of the blessed moon ' "
'* There wasn't a moon."
" T hanky e for the hint, my charmer.
igo THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS.
'By tlie loight of the swate stars I see
the countenance of the gintleman and the
face of the blackguard perfectly clair.
The face of the blackguard I shall niver
forget to me dyun day. It terrified me to
sich a degree that I took to my heels to
save myself/ Whan I've told the magis-
trate this I shall woipe the prespiration
off my brow, and I shall continy : ' Well,
Sor, goun wid my pack to Talbot Hall to
see if I could sell the gentry a paper of
pins, or a small-comb, who should I foind
there, in the livery of a sarvant, but the
very blackguard I see a murthering
the gintleman by the river, and it's
him I'd have you take into custody.'
What do you think o' that, Barney
"What am I to say, for they'll
come questioning me, plague take
*' Nothun at all, darlint. Divil a word.
THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS. 191
Ye'll just take your oath that you don't
know nothun about ut, but that sure
enough ye gave Slink lave to go and see
his swateheart, and he didn't come back
to ye till the mornun, wid a cock-and-bull
story of gettun drunk over night ; and
since then, ye'll add, the varmunt has
been playun ducks and drakes wid the
money like water, gettun dronk, and
flirtun wid the wenches."
" And then Slink will tell his story.
How then ?"
*' Let um. Wait till I get in the
witness-box. I know how to manage
um. I'll terrify um wid my eye. I'll
make the varmint swear black's white,
and thremble and stutter and make such
a fool of a liar of himself that the intilli-
gent jury will be bound to hang um. I'll
get the compliments and flattery of the
judge and all the illigant lawyers for me
ability, trust me."
ig2 THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS.
'' And what good will all this do
"What good, d'ye ax? Faix, and 'tis
not my own son that will ax the question
twoice. Sure, whan they've hanged Slink
for murtherin' your brother, they can't
dispute that the murthered man's dead ;
and then what's to bar your inhiritance ?
And we will hang un as sure as jus-
Slink waited to hear no more.
About ten o'clock Barnabas roared for
him — having emptied the great pot of ale.
He roared a second time, and there was
Then the pedlar went to the
door, and called out in his blandest
" Toby, darlint, whoy don't ye come
when yer master calls ? Where are you,
But his seductive appeal failed to elicit
THE MEETING OF OLD FRIENDS. 193
response from Slink, and for a very good
reason : lie was ten miles from Sevenoaks
on his road to London.
FLIGHT AND PURSUIT.
^^^LINK made his way to London
through Ightham, Wrotham
and Gravesend, feelinfy him-
self safer on the road he knew. He
had not a farthing in his pocket, and
in the morning hunger became unen-
durable. A stable-keeper gave him six-
pence and as much as he wanted to eat
and drink for a day's work in his stable.
At night he continued his journey, but
the rain falling heavily compelled him to
FLIGHT AND PURSUIT. 195
take refuge in a barn, where he slept until
About midday Saturday he arrived at
Edmonton, and rang the bell at Doctor
Blandly's. Old Kate came to the gate,
and bade him call in the evening ; her
master and Jerry had gone a-fishing.
She could not say where they were,
and advised him to 2^0 wait in the
This was capital advice to a man with
money, but Slink had spent his sixpence
on the road, and was once mare hungry
and penniless. He dared not sit on the
settle outside the inn, for he doubted not
but that the pedlar had sworn informa-
tion against him, and that all the country
was in pursuit of him.
He turned up the little lane beside the
Doctor's garden, and lay in a meadow
until the sun went down, then he carefully
approached the main road, and ag^ain rane
196 FLIGHT AND PURSUIT.
at the Doctor's bell. This time Jerry
came in response.
" Master's dining, but you can come in.
If your business ben't very important, you
had better wait till he's finished."
" Oh, my business ben't important.
It's only a matter of life and death, and
as I've waited since the morning, there's
no reason why I shouldn't wait another
hour or so — albeit I've had nothing
betwixt my teeth since ten o'clock."
" Oh, you're one of those 'tis-but-tisn't,
might-be-but can't, gentry, I see. You'd
better follow me, case I get blamed for
Slink followed Jerry, and having duly
scraped his feet, and rubbed them well
heels and side on a mat, he took off his
hat, smoothed down his hair, and entered
the dining-room when Jerry was satisfied
with his presentability.
" Well, my man ; what have you got to
FLIGHT AND PURSUIT. 197
say to me ?" the Doctor asked, with his
Slink twisted his hat round, and glanced
from the Doctor to Jerry, and back again
to the Doctor without replying.
'' Don't you hear what's said to you?"
"Yes, Sir; but if you please, I don't
want to speak before you. Sir."
The Doctor laughed heartily. '' Well,
you won't mind his knowing where you
come from, I daresay" said he.
" Sevenoaks, your honour."
" Jerry, take that young fellow down
to the kitchen, and give him a mug of
ale and a thumb-piece; he hasn't any-
thing in his stomach, I know by the sound
of his voice. And don't worry him, do
you hear, Jerry ? When you're a bit
refreshed, return to me here, my
Slink obeyed with alacrity, and re-
igS FLIGHT AND PURSUIT.
appeared in the dining-room surprisingly
soon, considering the quantity of ale and
bread and cheese he had consumed in the
interval ; but he had a wide mouth and a
large throat, and his excellent digestive
organs were equal to any task imposed
" Now, my lad, what is it?" the Doctor
asked, clearing a space in front of him to
rest his arms upon, as Jerry withdrew and
closed the door. " Have you come from
Mr. Blake, the steward ?"
" Not exactly, your honour, but very
near, as one may say. It was the
steward's daughter as told me to come to
" His daughter— the wench with red
" And beautiful dark eyes, your honour,"
" Ha ! ha ! The same story every-
where," the Doctor said half to himself.
FLIGHT AND PURSUIT. 199
" Well, well ; and why has she sent you to
''Because she said you would stand by
me if I told you the whole truth, and
wouldn't let them hang me."
" Great Heavens ! — hang you ! — what
'' For murdering Master Tom."
Doctor Blandly raised himself in his
chair, and looked at Slink in blank
astonishment for a minute, then said in an
altered tone :
" If this deed is yours alone, tell me
nothing, I am loath, to be instrumental to
the death even of a criminal, unless it is
absolutely my duty. If then you killed this
poor gentleman of your own will and
purpose, say not a word to me, but go
out by that door while I close my eyes.
But if — as by your appearance it seems
to me more likely — you have been but the
tool in the hands of a more villainous man,
200 FLIGHT AND PURSUIT.
tell me what is on your mind, and I will
do what I may to befriend you."
" God bless your honour ! the guilt is
not on my head. Let me tell you just
what happened the night afore last as I
listened at the door in Talbot Hall." And
then Slink related the conversation he had
overheard between Barnabas and his
father; in conclusion he said : '' AYhen I
heard their scheme to bring me to the
gallows, then I made up my mind to run
away into the woods and hide myself
there ; but I couldn't go without first say-
ing good-bye to my sweetheart, and
begging her to disbelieve the wicked things
they said against me, and it was she as
bade me come to you and confess every-
thing, ' For,' says she ' the Doctor's the
juslest man that ever lived, and won't see
you hung for your master's crime,' she
The Doctor spoke, but Slink heard
FLIGHT AND PURSUIT.
nothing but the sound of the bell which
was at that moment pulled. Looking
through the window, he saw over the tops
of the gate, the eye and wrinkled forehead,
and grey hair of Barney 0' Crewe,
" My G-od !" he cried, '' 'tis the pedlar !
Hide me. Doctor — hide me !"
" One word — is his story true ? —did
you kill Mr. Talbot ?"
" No; I swear to Heaven I didn't,"
" Then all the pedlars in the world
shan't touch you. Go upstairs, and in the
first room you come to, lock the door, and
crawl under the bed if you like. Jerry,
bring the man at the gate in here if he
wants to see me, and say not a word
more than is necessary to him on the
Slink followed the Doctor's advice to
the letter, while Jerry admitted the pedlar
and conducted him into Doctor Blandly's
presence without returning a single word
202 FLIGHT AND PURSUIT.
to Ins bland inquiries, and persuasive
"'Tis Doctliur Blandly I have the
honour of salutin'," said the pedlar.
" That's Tuj name. You can leave the
room, Jerry. Return when I ring the
" 'Tis a jewel of a servint y'have,
Doctor Blandly — a swate, civil spoken old
man, as ever drawed the blessed breath of
loife, with a dacent habit of holdin' his
tongue, which leaves nothun to find fault
wid in his speech."
" And who may you be. Sir ?"
" The question's a very proper one, and
does you credit, Docthor, and I'll answer
ye widout any risarvation. I'm Mr.
" Barnabas O'Crewe— the father of the
man who calls himself Theophilus
''That's as hereafther may be; at
FLIGHT AND PURSUIT, 203
— — «
present you may take it that I'm liis per-
ticlar friend. In the first place, Doctor,
y'are doubtless aware that the murtherer
of Mr. Thomas Talbot, is discivered and
brought to loight."
" Who is the murderer?"
*' Toby Slink by name — the varmint as
stole Mr. Thomas's horse, shot his dog, and
finilly slaughtered the young gintleman
and throwd him into the cowld river. I see
'um do it wid my own eyes."
" Have you informed the magistrates ?"
" I have. I've took my Bible oath on
it; and the b'y's as good as hanged.
Albeit, he's given us the slip — bad luck to
um, and can't be found nowheres. How-
ever, oi'll foind um, lave me alone for that,
I'll onairth um loike a fish from the
blessed ocean. Now, Docthor, we'll pre-
shume that he's hanged, and drawed and
quarthered, and all complete, amen ! and
there's no furder obstacle to Thaophilus
204 FLIGHT AND PURSUIT.
Talbot coming into possession of the
funds y'are so kindly taken care of for
*' Not a farthing, I will throw the
estate into Chancery."
" I beg to differ wid ye, Doctor, on a
'pint of law. If the b'y's hung for havin'
murthered Mr. Thomas, how will ye
proove that the gintleman is aloive ?"
*' You're a cunning rascal !" cried
Doctor Blandly, striking the table with
*' Thank you koindly for the compli-
mint. I trost I'm a bit cliver in the law.
Now Thaophilus has promused that I
shall live like a prince when he comes
into his fortun— he's wullin to make
splendid terms wid me to howld my
tongue and live in his company."
" Then w^hy don't you hold your
*' Becase I set no value on all these
FLIGHT AND PURSUIT. 205
riches, for two or three reasons. In the
fust place, I don't think I should get
'em ; in the second, I want money at
oncet to hunt up that varmint Slink, for
the public officers won't do their duty
widout, bad luck to 'em ; and in the third
place, I don't hanker after livun in the
society of Thaophilus — he's conthracted
an onpleasant habut of wakun up in the
middle o' the noight and seeun ghostes
that makes my blood run cold and
" "Well, well — come to the point."
" Bedad I'm comun to it straght.
Docther dear, y' have a koind o' spite
" I have the same feeling towards other
'' Quoite roight for you, Docther. I
know that ye'd much rather see Mr.
Gerard in Talbot Hall than his half-
brother— for I'll tell you candid and
2o6 FLIGHT AND PURSUIT.
thrue. Doctor, there being no witnesses
present, that Mr. Gerard is no son of
mine. And now widout no more bating:
about the bush, if you'll jDromuse me
faithful to give me a thrifle — say two
or three hunderd pounds a year for
the whole of my life till I die — I'll
proove that Mr. Thaophilus is an im-
" You will say that of your own
'' To be sure will I. For I don't like
the principals of um. That gettin up o'
nights ain't natr'al and it ain't pleasant,
and he'd chate his own father if he had
the chance, bad luck to um. I'll swear
he was three months old before ever he
was registered, and that Admiral Talbot,
Heaven rest his sowl — was no more the
b'y's father than you are."
With knitted brows Doctor Blandly
looked at Barney 0' Crewe in silence
FLIGHT AXD PURSUIT. 207
whilst "he considered his proposal. Had
he his own inclinations alone to follow, he
would have rung the bell for Jerry to
show the old vagabond the garden-gate at
once, but Gerard was to be thought of,
and it was for Gerard to decide whether
the evidence of a rascal should be bought
and paid for. He felt that the advantages
were too great to be relinquished hastily
for a scruple, which after all, was one of
delicacy rather than conscience.
" Well, Docther dear, and what do you
think of ut r"
" What I think of it is of small
importance. How Mr. Gerard Talbot
takes your offer remains to be seen. 1
shall set the facts before him to-morrow,
and on Monday, if you call here at ten
o'clock, you shall know whether he accepts
or rejects your proposal."
The Doctor rang the bell, Jerry
answered immediately, and his presence
2o8 FLIGHT AND PURSUIT.
stopped Barney 0' Crewe from saying
anything further upon a matter which he
had every reason to keep secret. He had
a mortal aversion to witnesses.
QUICK AND DEAD.
r^-^^HE pedlar had parted from his
p^ k.^i ^^^ early on Friday morning
^*-^^^)l with the avowed intention of
swearing information against Toby Slink,
with the nearest magistrate, and returning
to his son " immaidjitly."
" Will you come wid me, Barney,
darlint?" he asked.
" 'Tisn't likely," replied Barnabas.
''Maybe y'are wise, though y'are not
sociable, the saints love ye. Kape ye'r
2IO QUICK AND DEAD.
spirits up, me cbarmer ; I'll be back wid
ye in the twinklin of an oye."
As a matter of fact the old man never
went near the magistrate, having resolved
in the course of the night to take that
somewhat hazardous course if he could
not make satisfactory terms with Doctor
Blandly. '' A pig by the leg's worth a
dozen in the bog ; for it's all the warld to
a chaney orange you won't catch a hair of
their backs — the sly varmints," he said to
himself, as lighting his pipe he trudged
away from Talbot Hall, with his face
towards London and his pack on his
Barnabas drauk, smoke and dozed
until mid- day ; then feeling hungry he
limped away to the kitchen to get the
remains of the hare they had been eating
for breakfast, and which his father had
cleared away, saying he would make the
place look a bit '' dacent" in case the magis-
QUICK AND DEAD. 2IT
trates came to question Barnabas. Tliere
was not a scrap of food in the kitclien, and
the pack which the pedlar had likewise re-
moved for " dacency" was not there either.
Barnabas extended his search from place
to place until his patience was exhausted,
then he took to smashing everything
breakable that came in his way, until his
fury at finding himself cheated and robbed
was abated; after that he sat down and
tried to form a plan of revenge. His
father had hinted at the "Lone Crow" of
compromising with Doctor Blandly, and
Barnabas had no doubt that he had gone
to sell him.
What could he do to frustrate the plans
of the subtle old man ? Nothing. He
felt himself utterly helpless. Not a soul
stood by him ; even Slink had abandoned
him. His pockets were again empty — for
his father, though ignorant of the game of
piquet, had shown himself an adept at
212 QUICK AND DEAD.
cheating, and fleeced him of the small
residum remaining from the forty shillings
brought him by the sale of Slink's horse.
And he was hungry — villainously hungry.
The very fact of not being able to get
anything to eat increased his appetite.
Drinking and smoking only heightened
his imaginary necessity for food. At
length, flinging the old jug at the wall, he
rose up from his seat resolved to sell his
mare. Prudence told him that before
long he might have need of her on the
road ; " Curse the future," he cried, in
He limped to the stable, with his hat
wrong side forward over his e3^es, and his
stick in his hand. The mare had been
neglected since Slink gave her a parting
feed, and whinnied as he flung the doors
back. " Get over," he growled, hitting
her on the flank savagely ; the mare
obeyed whisking her tail and showing the
QUICK AND DEAD. 213
white of her eyes. He determined to
leave the saddle for another day, and
having untied tbe halter from the ring on
the manger, he gave the rope a jerk to
turn the mare. She was unused to such
neglect and rough treatment in the stable,
and turned with so little care as to bang
Barnabas rudely against the side of the
stable. Exasperated by this addition to
the morning's wrongs, he lifted his stick,
and clenching his teeth, brought it down
with all his force upon her back. A kick,
a bound, and a scuffle, and the mare
wrenched the halter out of her master's
hand, bolted into the yard, and through
the open gate into the wide and open
park. She was a speck in the distance
when Barnabas next caught sight of
'' The Devil's against me," he said,
throwing himself upon the grass.
He would have taken the saddle in the
214 QUICK AND DEAD.
town to sell, but for the superstitious
belief that the ill-luck of the day, Friday,
would attend him there, and that the
saddler, as well as the Devil, would be
against him. The rain began to fall, but
he lay there in dogged indifference until
he was wet through, then shivering with
cold he shuffled into the Hall, and sat
down beside the beer barrel, where he
drank and smoked until about four
o'clock. The ale did not make him drunk
— it did not even stupify him, it simply
depressed him and made his head
He was so completely wretched that
had there been a hanging rope or other
ready means of destroying himself at hand,
he would have committed suicide. He
left the barrel with a curse, and went out
again into the air. The rain was still
falling, heavily, persistently ; there was no
break in the leaden sky. The ground
QUICK AND DEAD. 215
was soft and spongy, tlie only sound was
the splashing of rain-water and the chat-
tering of sparrows under the eaves ;
the horizon was veiled with mist}'
To stay amid such dismal surroundings
would make him mad he felt, so he limped
away from it, down the broad drive and
through the sodden lane to the nearest
ale-house, where if he found no one to
sympathise with him, he should at least
have the excitement of quarrelling with
the innkeeper when it came to the ques-
tion of paying for what he had con-
When the time came for closing the inn
he was turned out, and driven into the
middle of the road with a kick from the
indignant innkeeper, who had unwisely
supplied him with bread and cheese,
drink and tobacco to the value of thirteen-
2i6 QUICK AND DEAD.
The rain fell still heavily, without
inter mittance. There was no light.
Now running against a bank, now
stumbling into a ditch, now walking for-
wards without the slightest knowledge of
whither his footsteps were leading him,
Barnabas by slow steps came to the lodge,
which was discovered by the light gleam-
ing through the chinks of the window-
shutter. A horrible dread had seized his
mind that he should have to enter that
Hall and sleep in the dark, for he did not
know where the tinder-box was to be
found; perhaps his father had stolen that
with the other things.
He knocked, and when Jenny replied,
he begged her to give him a lantern in
the most abject tone he could com-
mand. After a few minutes Jenny
opened the window and handed him the
" I suppose you're afraid to open the
QUICK AND DEAD. 217
door to me," he growled, wlien he had the
lantern in his hand.
" I'm no more afraid of you than I am
of a rat ; but the rats and you too are best
outside," she answered, closing the shutters
With the lantern swinging by his
side he hobbled up the drive, never
raising his eyes from the ground until
he was close by the terrace steps. The
terrors of solitude in the home of the man
he had murdered were already taking hold
of his imagination. He dreaded the awful
silence, broken at long intervals by the
strange slight sounds which seem insepar-
able from an old house, and which have no
explanation. He dreaded the snatches of
sleep that would overpower his senses for
awhile, and end with the sudden awakening
from a dream so hideous as to defy passive
endurance. He dreaded being aroused
from forgetfulness by the sputtering of a
2i8 QUICK AND DEAD.
candle, to find shadows leaping from the
floor to the ceiling in the flickering light
of a fallen wick.
He paused on the first step to ask him-
self if it were not wiser to sleep in the
empty stable, and then he raised his eyes
to the house furtively, and for the first
time. There was a light there. Not in
the banqueting chamber, but in the room
on the other side of the entrance. The
lantern rattled as it hung on his quiver-
What did the light signify? Had
his father and Slink combined, and
laid evidence against him, and were
the officers of justice come to take him
away to gaol ? That was the least of his
fears ; the more terrible were indefinable —
a vague, awful apprehension of the un-
known conjured up a thousand ghostly
figures, grotesque and horrible. But the
light was real; it glowed steadily. He
QUICK AND DEAD. 219
could count the bricks in the casement.
There was nothing supernatural in the
appearance ; no figures such as danced
before his eyes in the delirium of fear
looked out at him, grinning with fleshless
chops, beckoning with rotten fingers !
And if the dead were not feasting in that
house what had he to fear ? Not the
living. Justice would have followed him
to the ale-house and trapped him there,
not waited with uncovered light in the
Hall for him to run like a fool into an
'' 'Tis the pedlar returned," he said to
himself, with an effort to convince himself
on the point. And why should it not be?
Might he not have been detained by the
magistrates ? That was most probable.
Yet it was with trembling steps he as-
cended to the terrace. He paused to
listen; not a sound reached his straining
ear. The sot had fallen asleep, he con-
220 QUICK AND DEAD.
eluded, still lie dared not lay his hand upon •
the door. He stole towards the window ;
they were too high from the ground for
him to see into the lower part of the room.
He went back to the door, and raised his
hand as if to turn the handle, then
dropped it like a thing of lead by his side.
He looked around him. Within the radius
of light cast by the candle in his lantern
he saw the black moss upon the grey
stone of the terrace, and the rain dropping
vertically; beyond — nothing. Should he
call the pedlar ? His throat was too dry,
and his tongue had lost its office. He must
do something — enter the house or fly.
Fly — whither could he fly ? If the dead
was in the house, would it let him sleep
He pursed his lips, whistled low, and
listened. He fancied he heard a voice.
It gave him courage, for he had caught
the pedlar speaking aloud to himself the
QUICK AND DEAD. 221
night before. He whistled again and
louder. Certainly a voice spoke. The
light upon the casement moved slowly. A
dark figure came to the window, but from
where he stood Barnabas could see
nothing but a break in the light. The
figure retired ; a door creaked. The lan-
tern fell with a clatter upon the stones
at his feet ; there was a rushing in his
ear as if water were closing over his head.
The chain upon the door fell, the bolt
grated in the lock, an unseen hand
opened the great oak door, aud raised a
candle high, and under the light of it
Barnabas saw standing face to face with
him, in the very habit that he wore, Tom
With a rattling in his parched throat he
fell forward, flat upon the wet stone, like
PANDORA S BOX.
HEN Lady Betty looked from the
fortress under the pulpit on the
following Sunday morning, she
was surprised to see Gerard standing alone
in Doctor Blandly' s pew. She had seen the
Doctor on Saturday morning in perfect
health, and was at a loss to account for
'« Why are you alone, Gerard ?" she
asked, when they met after the service.
** It is by my fault, I fear," he- replied.
'^ I was late in leaving town this morn-
PANDORA'S BOX. 223
ing, and believing that Doctor Blandly
would go on without me, I came directly
to the church, instead of going to him
first in the ordinary way. He doubtless
has stayed at home waiting for me."
" I was afraid some accident had hap-
pened to him, you looked so grave and
serious this morning."
'' I am not a gay fellow at the best of
times," said Gerard.
Lady Betty looked at him with quick
suspicion, and asked :
" Are these not the best of times then,
" I think we must go round by the
road ; the heavy rains of this past
miserable week must have made the
'' Let it be the road," she answered,
and they walked on in silence until they
were clear of the homeward-wending con-
gregation, she glancing furtively now
224 PANDORA'S BOX.
and again at him, then pressing his arm
a little closer to her side, she said : " Tell
me what is the matter, Gerard."
" Mr. Kemble has read the first act of
mj comedy and condemned it."
''Is that all?" cried Lady Betty, with
a laugh. " Why, then, be gay. Merit
has ever to face the spite of envy."
" But Mr. Kemble is neither envious
nor spiteful. 'Twas with pain he gave
me his honest criticism to save me from
greater disappointment and waste of
" Granted he be honest in his opinion,
what then ? 'Tis but the opinion of one
man, as likely to be mistaken as another.
Were we not all charmed with your work
when you read it to us under the apple-
tree ? do you think Doctor Blandly
would flatter ? do you think I am in-
" God forbid ! 'Tis because you are
PANDORA'S BOX. 225
sincere in your friendship that I cannot
take your judgment as unbiassed."
" And if 'tis so, why should you be
discouraged ? Say that the act has less
merit than we believe, and more faults
than Mr. Kemble, with all his generous
amity, can point out, 'tis but the fifth
part of your comedy, and your comedy
is but a fractional part of that which
your brain contains. If we were judged
by single efforts, the ablest of mankind
might be debased, the feeblest exalted.
Do we judge Shakespeare by the first few
pages that he wrote?"
" Dear girl, would you have me put on
wings, and fly to a height from which the
fall must break me?"
" But you have genius to sustain you.
You took up the pen, feeling that you
could write, and that consciousness should
be your assurance."
'* I took up the pen by necessity, and
VOL. III. 64
226 PANDORA'S BOX.
learnt too late that poets are born, not
made. I am not a poet ; I am — no-
The tone of despondency in which he
spoke was stronger than argument; it
forced Lady Betty to doubt her own judg-
ment. She was silent for some seconds,
then she said :
" Gerard, you told me one Sunday that
I gave you strength and courage to per-
severe; do you remember r"
" Perfectly, and 'tis true. If I have
wrote one worthy line, 'twas in a happy
moment which you had made hopeful."
" I have not altered, why should my
influence fail? Let me inspire you with
yet greater hope. 'Tis my dearest wish
to help you, to be of womanly service to
you, to hold the cup to your lips, and
brighten your existence by all the means
Gerard felt his heart stirred, and his
PANDORA'S BOX. 227
blood running quicker fcbrougli his veins
as he listened to these affectionate words
and looked into the girl's sweet earnest
face. He thought how admirable she
was, how weak he.
'' You put me to the blush," he said ;
" I am ashamed of my faint heart."
" 'Tis diffidence alone," said she ;
" your only fault is in setting too high
a value on the careless or partial criticism
of this Mr. Kemble. And who is he ? a
player, forsooth ! who judges a play by
the scope it affords his powers."
'' 'Tis not a careless criticism ; he
pointed out a hundred defects which I
perceive are real."
''And I," cried Lady Betty, "will
point out a thousand merits which you
shall not be able to deny. After dinner
we will go through the manuscript to-
gether while Doctor Blandly sleeps."
" 'Tis burnt."
228 PANDORA'S BOX.
" No matter; I do believe I remember
every word tbat you have wrote and
road. I will recall the passages, and you
shall write them.'*
" Lady Betty, you shall not waste your
labours on a fruitless task. Give me your
help and sympathy in achieving that
which is within the power of an ordinary
man, and we shall both succeed, you in
holding me to my purpose, I in gaining
the fair reward for my work."
" Why, that is well said, Gerard. Men
do not live by writing plays alone. There
are many honourable means of rising to
eminence and fortune beside the stage.
A poet's rank is not the noblest. Oh,
you are wise and right. 'Tis only a
woman who would attempt with pertin-
aceous obstinacy to obtain a position for
which Nature unfitted her. And poets !
what are they, Gerard ? Lazy and in-
dolent as a rule, careless in their persons,
PANDORA'S BOX. 229
untidy in their habits. I wouldn't have
you look less like a gentleman for all the
adulation m the world. Then play-
wrights, again ! Dear heart ! what a life
they lead ! 'Tis said they drink and die
prematurely, and the people they meet
and speak to, and get to like behind the
scenes ! You would have lost your deli-
cacy, you would have seen me but seldom,
and then only to make me regret. I'm
best pleased you have renounced the idea
of writing plays for a profession ; not
that my opinion is altered in the least."
Gerard could only listen and love.
'' You could have wrote a play as good
as any of Mr. Grarrick's, that's certain,"
she continued. " You can write for your
own amusement and our pleasure ; your
theatre shall be the garden lawn, your
audience good old Doctor Blandly and my-
self, with Mr. Baxter for a critic ; his snore
will be your only censure, unless you make
230 PANDORA'S BOX.
the "hero too bold. But you shall work for
some higher end than the amusement of
the idle. Couldn't you be an astronomer ?
There is something majestic in that study,
and astronomers live to a great age.
They seem to me almost as grand as
patriarchs, and I never heard of one fall-
ing into bad habits."
" I fear it's a poor business in a lucra-
tive sense. It would pay a man better
to find five shillings than a new planet."
'' Are you laughing at me ?" Lady Betty
" Laughing at you ?" cried he, looking
down with tumultuous emotion into her
simple- wise, beautiful, grave face. " You
dear ! I could worship you for my God !"
He had taken her hand, and as he spoke
he pressed it fiercely, and his ardent gaze
seemed to scorch her very soul.
The blood left her face, she drew her
hand from his and turned her eyes away
with a frightened look. It struck her
with the force of a sudden discovery that
Gerard loved her, and loved her as a
brother roay not.
She walked to Doctor Blandly' s gate
without one word. Her silence contrasted
oddly with her previous volubility.
Gerard seemed equally embarrassed. His
love was a secret no longer. Did he
regret that a sudden accession of passion
had overcome his habitual reserve ? ISfo.
The barrier was broken down, and the
forces of love and passion took possession
of his soul, sweeping reason and pru-
dential considerations before them as they
rushed from restraint.
" If she will let me hope to make her
my wife," he said to himself, " what
difficulty will be insurmountable ? Posi-
tion, money, whatsoever is necessary to
her happiness, I will obtain, if she blesses
me with that one encouragement."
232 PANDORA'S BOX.
And for this encouragement lie pre-
pared to ask her, when dinner should be
finished, and Doctor Blandly taking his
GERARD TURNS HIS FACE TO THE WALL.
Y dear," said Doctor Blandly,
after greeting Lady Betty,
"when you have removed
your bonnet and tippet, you will come and
drink a glass of Madeira with me in the
front room ; our dinner will be a little
later than usual to-day."
On Sunday, dinner was generally served
at half -past one punctually, in order that
Jerry and Kate might profit by the
Reverend John Baxter's afternoon service,
the present departure from that rule made
234 GERARD TURNS HIS FACE,
no impression upon Lady Betty, whose
thoughts were troubled by the recent dis-
covery she had made of Gerard's feeling
towards her. She ran upstairs to her
room, and sat there for full five minutes
in deep thought before commencing to
make her toilette.
Meanwhile Doctor Blandly led Gerard
into the front room, and insisted upon his
drinking Madeira. Gerard was excited,
and declared he felt no need of refreshment.
*' Drink that, all the same," said the
Gerard tossed off the glass with a laugh,
and then said :
" I am afraid I have been the cause of
your staying at home this morning. Sir."
"No, my boy ; I have had visitors, and
my time has been fully engaged — a re-
markable thing for me, you will say. 'Tis
true, a remarkable thing has occurred —
a thing unexpected by me and by you."
GERARD TURNS HIS FACE. 235
" Something has happened to Bar-
nabas," said Gerard, quickly.
"'Tis true. Will you have another
glass of Madeira ?"
'' No ; I can hear anything you have to
tell me. Ts he dead?"
" I will tell you all that has happened.
Come with me into the garden. Lady
Betty will be here presently, and you must
know at once."
Gerard followed Doctor Blandly into
the garden, impatient for a confirmation
of his suspicions, and to tell the truth, of
his hopes ; for if Barnabas were dead, the
Talbot estate would be his, and he should
be able to offer Lady Betty something
more than an empty hand. A young
countryman in a worn livery was at
the foot of the garden steps. Doctor
Blandly whispered a word to him, and
he, touching his hat, walked sharply
down the garden, past the hedge and
236 GERARD TURNS HIS FACE.
wicket, and into the kitchen-garden
" In the first place, Gerard," said the
Doctor, touching the young man's arm,
" I have seen the father of your half-
brother Barnabas ; he came yesterday,
and offered to swear his paternity, and
reveal the fraud put upon your father."
** That would put me in possession of
my father's estate, and clear his name
'* So I thought, and I bade the man
come to-morrow to know if you would buy
his services. But listen, he had no sooner
gone than I learnt a still more important
fact. You saw the young fellow to whom
I just now spoke ?"
" The country servant."
" He is a foolish and dense, but in the
main, honest lad. He has served Barnabas
— partly compelled by fear, partly cheated
by a mistaken idea of gratitude. He de-
GERARD TURNS HIS FACE. 237
tailed tlie circumstance of Toms disap-
pearance. Tom was thrown from his
horse, and while he lay stunned upon the
ground, Barnabas shot him. At the same
moment, Tom's horse, in struggling to
rise, kicked Barnabas, breaking his leg.
Unable to re-mount, and fancying he
heard the sound of approaching voices,
he called for assistance to the lad — Toby
Slink, whom he had placed in ambush
near at hand. Slink carried him into an
adjacent corn-field, and in obeyance to his
threats and command, returned to the tow-
path to throw Tom's body into the river.
'' As he laid his hand on Tom's arm,
your brother opened his eyes. The fall
had stunned him ; the bullet had passed
through the fleshy part of his arm.
When the lad recovered from his fright,
he went down on his knees, and prayed
to Tom to forgive him, acknowledging
the part he had been sent to play. Tom
238 GERARD TURNS HIS FACE.
was weak from the loss of blood, still
bewildered by tlie blow, and knew tliat
he was at the lad's mercy. He had no
reason to suspect the identity of Barnabas,
and no suspicion of what would result
from his disappearance, so he promised the
lad to hide for a fair month, giving him a
chance of escaping from his master, and
avoiding the punishment Barnabas had
vowed to inflict if his orders were not
carried out successfully. For Tom had left
London with the intention of staying aloof
from Lady Betty, until his unreasonable
jealousy was cured, and here was a means
which he thought "
" How do you know what Tom
thought?" Gerard asked, turning deadly
'' Because he has told me. He is at
the bottom of the garden at this moment,
as hale and hearty, thank God, as ever
GERARD TURNS HIS FACE. 239
Gerard dropped his chin upon his breast,
and murmured —
" I also should thank Grod."
"And you will, dear lad, when this
momentary pang of loss has passed," said
the Doctor tenderly. '' For he who did
most sacrifice, has said that 'tis more
blessed to give than to receive."
With an effort Gerard seemed to free him-
self from regretful reflection, as raising his
head quickly, he looked down the garden
towards that part where his brother waited.
" Go to him, Gerard," said the Doctor;
" I hear Betty's voice."
They separated after a silent grasp of
hands. Doctor Blandly going into the
house, Gerard through the wicket, and
down the fresh-scented vegetable-garden.
The brothers met and embraced, after the
fashion of that time, but in silence, and
then they sat down side by side on the
bench where Doctor Blandly was wont to
240 GERARD TURNS HIS FACE.
sit and admire his healthy cabbages and
bright scarlet beans.
''Where is my Betty, Gerard?" Tom
asked, in a low, eager voice.
" In the house still, with Doctor
" I hunger to see her sweet face again ;
the Doctor tells me that she is looking
thiner and paler than she did."
" She has suffered, Tom, and for love
'' Poor soul ! poor child ! Dear sweet-
heart ! She shall smile from this day ;
she shall laugh and dance and sing, and
not a grave thought shall come to her of
my making. You will see the bright life
stream into her face like colour to the
opening bud, Gerard ; you shall see her
more happy than the bird upon the bough
there ; so that it will do your heart good
to look upon her."
" Yes, yes," Gerard answered.
GERARD TURNS HIS FACE. 241
" The Doctor has told me of her
courage, her independence, her fidehty
and trust, outdoing mj imagination,
and shaming mj hopes as all too mean and
contracted. Walk with me, Gerard, I
cannot sit still. Great God, how abundant
are thy blessings !"
Gerard rose and walked by his side,
glad of any change that would help him
to conceal his feelings.
" 'Tis all incredible !" continued Tom.
" To think that when I saw you last,
sitting beside Lady Betty in your chariot
the morning of our duel, I was a hopeless
fallen wretch, standing hid amongst the
shrubs, putting an ill-construction upon her
smiles and gaiety."
" Poor soul — she was half-mad for joy
that you had escaped."
" I know it. 1 have felt sure that it
was so in my reasonable moments, but
TOL. III. 55
242 GERARD TURNS HIS FACE.
then I was mad with jealousy and shame,
and could be just to no one. I felt myself
then alone in the world, despised, laughed
at, loveless, and now I find that I am
loved as never man was loved before, I
think. My Betty, my wife !"
" She has ever thought of you as her
" Blandly has told me so, and of her
love for you because you were my brother.
Truth — love has driven that joy from my
remembrance. 'Tis not alone I find a
wife, but a brother too. Give me your
hand, brother — both. You also have done
brave things. I am told you have writ a
" A worthless play as it proves — Mr.
Kemble has damned it."
" Then damn Mr. Kemble in return.
Pshaw ! you shall do better than write
plays for a grudged remuneration ; you
shall see 'em for your pleasure, Gerard ;
GERARD TURNS HIS FA CE. 243
one half of all I liave is yours, all if you
will, so that I have my Betty."
" Then you would be^the richer, Tom.'*
" Aye, that I should, a hundredfold.
We will live together, hunt together, fetch
long walks, and live as brothers should.
We will share a happiness in common, and
when we find a suitable wife for you —
some sweet, good girl "
He broke of£ suddenly, for his ear
caught above the sound of his own voice
a faint cry : .
" Tom — my spouse !"
Lady Betty had run across the lawn,
had reached the wicket by the hedge, and
then hearing his well-remembered voice,
her strength failed her, and she held by
the gate, her knees trembling beneath her,
crying and sobbing so that for awhile she
could make no articulate sound.
At her cry he came, and seeing him she
tottered forward with a little scream, and
55 — z
244 GERARD TURNS HIS FA CE.
would have fallen but that he caught her
up in his arms and held her to his heart.
And then she pressed her lips to his, and
swooned away with the ecstacy of her
Gerard turned his face to the wall.
HE company did spare justice to
the excellent dinner prepared by
old Kate. The lovers were im-
patient of the moments that kept their
hands and eyes asunder ; Doctor Blandly
was excited ; and every morsel that he
forced himself to take seemed to choke
Gerard. For Lady Betty's peace he was
bound to be there, though for his own
he would fain have been alone in a
After dinner, Doctor Blandly mercifully
246 THE OMEN.
despatclied him witli a note to Mr.
Baxter, and instructions to bring the
parson back to share in the general hap-
piness, while he, with many apologies for
the infirmity of his old age, ensconsed
himself in his elbow-chair, and did his
utmost to sleep as usual. He may have
failed, but what took place between the
lovers was concealed from his sight by the
yellow silk handkerchief.
During the afternoon Jerry brought
up the best that his master's cellar con-
tained, and under the influence of the
wine the Reverend John Baxter and
Doctor Blandly became excessively merry.
Lady Betty's spirits mounted also, but
her gaiety was hysterical, and towards
evening, in the midst of a peal of laughter,
she caught sight of Gerard's face, and
as suddenly burst into a flood of tears.
. Doctor Blandly came to her side,
and when he had calmed her he in-
THE OMEN. 247
sisted upon lier going to bed. She did
not refuse to use the spare chamber,
and soon after Mr. Baxter returned
to the Vicarage with an explanation
for his wife.
The brothers and Doctor Blandly sat
together and talked.
*' What has become of my half-brother,
Barnabas?" Glerard asked.
" Ah, I have that part of my history
to tell you," replied Tom. " When I re-
turned to the Hall, the first thing I did
was to frighten old Blake nearly out
of his wits. He is an egotist, and having
come to the conclusion that I had
been murdered by Barnabas, I believe
his dignity was hurt by seeing me alive."
" He is a conceited old fool," said the
" But a faithful servant, so we will for-
give him his faults. When I had recon-
ciled him to the fact of entertaining a
248 . THE OMEN.
wrong conviction, lie told me of the life
Barnabas has led as the master of Talbot
Hall. A most wretched, miserable exist-
ence it must have been."
" Vice and happiness are as far asunder
as love and hate," said Doctor Blandly,
" Deserted by everyone, the unhappy
man had left the Hall, Blake knew
not why, possibly to find relief from soli-
tude in the nearest inn. When we went
up to the house we could find no one, but
as I wished to see him I sat down to wait
for his return. I heard from the steward
all that had happened. The light
faded and we lit candles. When
Blake had nothing more to tell, he
fell asleep. The rain fell pitilessly, and
as I sat there listening to the perpetual
dripping, I fancied what the condition of
a guilty wretch would be, deserted and
alone in that old hall, and I com-
THE OMEN. 249
miserated the man who had attempted my
" A mistake, Tom, a mistake," said
the Doctor ; " commiserate the unfortu-
nate, if you will, but whip all rogues, I
"You may say that. Doctor; but your
practice would be most merciful. For
what are rogues but unfortunate ? Have
you not said that vice and happiness are
wide asunder ?"
'* Gro on with your facts, Tom. You
can philosophise better when you are
" When the monotony was becoming
insupportable, I heard a sound outside.
I roused Blake. We listened, and
soon after a faint whistle reached our
ears. I went to the window, and looking
out caught sight of a lantern by the
terrace steps. Blake took a candle,
and we went into the entrance-hall. He
250 THE OMEN.
was fearful, and standing well behind the
door, pulled it open and raised the light
that I might see who was without. There
was a shock upon the stone pavement
like the fall of a tile from the roof,
and taking the candle from Blake I
found, stretched at full length, the man
who had attempted my life — Barnabas, to
appearance dead. We got him into the
hall, and after awhile, when he showed
signs of returning consciousness, I with-
drew, leaving him to Blake's rough
mercy. What means he took to assure
him that he had nothing to fear from me
I can't tell."
" If Blake's the man I take him
for he promised him nothing short of
hanging, I'll be bound," said Doctor
" That is not unlikely, for as soon as
Barnabas had recovered his strength he
knocked the old man down, and fled
THE OMEN. 251
from the Hall, whither it is impossible
to say. The outbuildings were all closed,
the rain fell in a torrent the whole night,
it was pitch dark, and the unhappy
wretch was lame. He did not return to the
In the morning Blake wished to
have the woods beat, and to hunt him
out like a fox, but as this might have
driven him to some deplorable act of
desperation, I forbade any search to be
made beyond the outbuildings and park-
sweep. I waited about the Hall until
late in the afternoon, hoping he would
return, for in the course of the day I
learnt from the innkeeper near that he
had no money, and I expected that
hunger would force him to come back to
the Hall. However, I had seen no sign
of him when I quitted Sevenoaks yester-
day evening. I left orders that food
should be put in the hall, and the doors
252 THE OMEN.
left open, and that he should be un-
'' Thank you, Tom, for your forbear-
ance," said Gerard ; " I have wished him
dead again and again, but he is my
mother's son, and I would not have him
die a shameful death."
''God forbid!" said Doctor Blandly.
'' 'Tis a barbarous and a mischievous
thing to publicly kill a man in infamy.
The proper end of punishment is to
correct and deter, and for a rogue like
Barnabas, death is no punishment at all.
The scaffold makes heroes of con-
temptible villains. Punish rascals, I say
again, despite Master Tom's merciful
outcry, but punish them in a manner that
shall teach them the policy of living
" You shall tell us. Doctor, how we are
to punish him, for I confess 'tis a question
that perplexes me," said Tom.
THE OMEN. 253
The Doctor knitted liis brows, pursed
up his lips, and took a deliberate pinch of
snuff before replying ; then he said :
'' I would just pay his passage to
America or another of our colonies, and
give the captain a round sum to be
handed to him for his necessities when he
is set ashore."
" And the whipping you suggested ?"
Tom asked, slyly.
" You can promise him that if ever he
shows his face in England again. I take
it that what with fright, starvation, a
broken leg, and exposure to the rain of
Friday night, he has had as much corporal
punishment as his constitution can sup-
port ; 'tis his conscience that must chastise
As neither of the brothers could suggest
any improvement upon Doctor Blandly's
proposed dealing with Barnabas, it was
determined between them that the fol-
254 THE OMEN.
lowing day tliey should post to Sevenoaks,
find Barnabas, and make terms with him
for quitting the country.
When Lady Betty woke, the morning
was yet grey. She slipped from her
white nest, and running across to the
window drew back a corner of the blind
and looked down into the garden, Tom
was there ; it was not too early for a lover
to be up. Making a frame with the
blind, she showed him her smiling face,
closed her red lips and parted them ; he
seemed to understand the pantomime,
and recklessly tearing a rose which
Doctor Blandly would have grudgingly
nipped with careful scissors, he threw it
up upon her window-sill in response. In
an incredibly short space of time she
dressed, and with his flower in her bosom
ran down, and gave up her still sweeter,
tenderer face to his lips.
He put his arm about her and she
THE OMEN. 255
clasped his hand, and in that position they
walked round the garden dozens of times,
looking at the flowers but not thinking of
them; feeling the utmost happiness but
saying very little, perhaps because all
words seemed too prosaic to express the
poetry of their love.
" We are not talking much," she said
after awhile, with a little laugh.
*' I do love you so, darling, that I
cannot think of indifferent matters readily.
I love you, that is all my tongue will
" 'Tis enough, dear," she answered.
She was right, perhaps ; but after
awhile he felt it necessary to say some-
'' You have more colour in your sweet
cheeks this morning," said he, *' did you
sleep well ?"
" Too well. I said to myself when I
closed my eyes — ' I will dream of Tom,
256 THE OMEN.
or I will not sleep at all;' but my eyes
closed, and I don't remember dreaming
anything' pretty — only a lot of confused
rubbish that was not worth dreaming
about at all. Now what did I dream? —
Oh !" she stopped suddenly, with a
" Something terrible ?"
" I dreamt that I lost a tooth."
Tom burst into a hearty laugh, but
Lady Betty looked grave.
'' You little goose," he cried, " are you
vexed because you did not dream of
Cupids and roses ?"
"No, but do you know what that
*' Not in the least, unless it be that
dreams going by contraries, you will
shortly cut your wisdom tooth, sweet."
"Don't laugh, Tom; I believe in
"So do I, when they are pleasantly
THE OMEN. 257
realised. And what is the significance of
"I shall lose a friend."
" Why that may be true enough, for
you will lose me for a whole day."
" Where are you going, dear ?" she
asked with anxiety.
Tom told briefly the arrangement he
had made with Gerard to seek Barnabas.
" You are going to find the man who
tried to take your life !" she exclaimed.
*' Oh, if you love me, dear, don't leave
She was so earnest that Tom became
grave. Women and men with greater
wisdom than Lady Betty believed at that
time in signs and omens, and however
absurd they may have appeared to Tom,
he saw nothing ridiculous in the fear of
his sweetheart for his safety.
'' Dear love," said he, " we are nowhere
safe from accident. And if there be truth
VOL. III. 56
258 THE OMEN.
in omens, 'tis well to take their lightest
interpretation. What will the loss be
then but our separation for a day ?"
'' Are you obliged to go, dear?" Lady
Betty asked, the subject not being one for
'' Be sure 'tis necessity that takes me
away from you, love."
*' There is danger — will you not stay
with me if I ask you ?"
" Yes. I will do anything you bid me
do ; but I do not think Lady Betty will
ask her husband to forgo a duty for the
sake of safety."
" Kiss me, love, and forgive me for
forgetting your honour. Do what you
will, brave darling, and heed me not. I
am nothing but a little woman — with a
woman's love and fear. . . . There ! now
I will not say another word to hinder your
A STURDY ROGUE.
ERRY," said Doctor Blandlj,
when the old servant brought
him his customary tankard at
breakfast, '' you will see that the two
saddle horses are ready at the " Bell " by
half past ten.'*
" I'll go round if you please, Sir, and
give the hostler a good talking to at
" Do ; then take this letter to Mr.
Baxter ; and afterwards find the constable,
26o A STURDY ROGUE.
and tell him to be here about ten
Jerry departed at once to execute these
commissions, and Doctor Blandly ex-
plained the little comedy that would proba-
bly be played before Tom and Gerard left.
As ten o'clock struck, Barney O'Crewe
rang the bell, and thoughtfully stroking
his scrubby chin, went over for the last
time those delicate points which would
come under discussion in the forthcoming
interview with Doctor Blandly.
" The top o' the mornun to you, squoire,"
he said as Jerry opened the gate and ad-
mitted him. '* Is the Docthor widin, if ye
'' I shouldn't let you in if he wasn't,"
answered Jerry, fastening the gate.
*' I'm deloighted to foind ye as agraable
and complaisint as usual; an' if I can putt
a word in for ye wid the master, I will, be
A STURDY ROGUE. 261
Jerry made no reply, but led tlie way
Id to the house, and opening the door
of the breakfast-room, introduced the
The breakfast things were still upon the
table. Doctor Blandly sat at the head,
with Tom on one side of him and the
Reverend John Baxter on the other.
Lady Betty seated beside Tom, rested her
right hand lightly upon the table, her left,
lost to sight, was locked in his ; opposite
to her, and with his back towards the
door, sat Gerard.
" Me sarvice to ye, me lady, and to
you, Doctbor Blandly, and to your river-
iuce, and likwoise to you, gentlemen,"
said the pedlar, with a bow to each. " It
seems that the owld man has played an
onsamely trick upon me, Docthor, to bring
me here, where ye sit surrounded by the
quality on both sides of ye."
'' No ; he obeyed my orders. We are
262 A STURDY ROGUE.
all friends of Mr. Talbot." Doctor Blandly
replied, with a motion of his hand towards
" Mr. Gerard, Sor, I salntes ye wid all
the respect in the world." The pedlar
bowed again to Tom. " Shure I knowed ye
the vary moment I clapped eyes on ye, for
yer the vary image of your swate mother
— the saints in heaven bless her sowl."
" I have given Mr. Talbot your narra-
tive of Saturday, but in case I have
omitted any particular, it will be well for
you to repeat what you told me for our
general satisfaction," said Doctor Blandly.
'' And I should be proud to do that
same, Docthor ; but ye must know I've a
tremenjous objaction to spaking in
public. I can contrive to spake in
private ; but I'm so modest and bashful
that I could niver get out a word
before such a collection of the quality."
" I don't ask you to say anything which
A STURDY ROGUE. 263
will affect your negociation with Mr.
Gerard ; all that I desire is that you will
repeat the statement you made relative to
the attack upon Mr. Thomas Talbot —
which T understood you to say you had
sworn before a magistrate."
'' Sure it's thrue, every word of it, and
I've sworn it upon the Horly Bible before
the magistrate, as ye say, though for the
loife of me I don't remember the name of
um at this minute."
'* That is what I wish you to state now.
Afterwards, if Mr. Talbot pleases, you
can privately make terms for any further
revelations that are necessary."
'' Doctor Blandly expresses my wish,"
said Tom. "Before I enter into any
negociation with you I must have parti-
culars of the murder committed by Slink."
" Y'are roight, dear Mr. Gerard, y'are
quite roight to take your precautions, for
y'are not supposed to know^ but what I'm
264 A STURDY ROGUE.
the greatest scoundrel goun. And sure
if 'tis only to tell you all about the mur-
therin varmint, Slink, I can overcome my
nat'ral hesitation." The pedlar cleared
his throat, and looking at the good things
upon the table with a longing eye, said :
'' Docther, will ye give me a taste o'
wather to give me courage, and moisten
my lips ?"
" You may take some water, there is a
glass and the bottle."
With a wry face O'Crewe poured out
about a spoonful of w^ater in the glass,
which he raised to his lips and set down
again with the remark, that it was a
'' moighty onpleasant flavour" the water
had in these parts ; and then with all the
effrontery of a Newgate pleader, he re-
peated in substance the story he had told
to Doctor Blandly, but with many rhetori-
cal flourishes and eloquent additions, for
the old man was vain of his ability, and
A STURDY ROGUE. 265
only too proud to make a display before
a cultivated audience. He addressed him-
self chiefly to Tom, under the impression
that he was Grerard, but pathetic passages
he delivered looking at Lady Betty, as
when he described the " swate smoile that
dwelt on the young murthered gintleman's
face as he looked up to the blessed stars
above 'um," and when, in conclusion, he
called upon the saints in Heaven to wit-
ness that he had no object but to prove
the holy truth, he directed his glance to
the Reverend John Baxter.
•' Perhaps we can prove the truth with-
out troubling the saints," said Doctor
Blandly, drily, as he touched the bell.
'Crewe opened his eyes in astonish-
ment. Jeriy eutered.
" Tell the constable to bring the young
man here," said Doctor Blandly.
The constable presently appeared lead-
ing Slink by the arm.
266 A STURDY ROGUE.
" Do you know who that is '^" asked
" Do I know who it is ? I should think
I did ! Sorra a one better. 'Tis the
murtherin varmint, Slink himself, wid just
the same bloodthirsty expression in the
face of 'um he had when I see 'um a
dragging that swate blessed Misther Tom
into the cowld, cowld river !"
Slink grinned from ear to ear.
" Don't laugh, ye murtherin' villain,
ye'll not escape the vingeance of the law.
I know ye at once, though I nivir saw
yer face but twoice in my loife."
'' You have a good memory for fea-
tures," said Doctor Blandly ; " do you re-
member the face of Mr. Thomas Talbot ?"
^'Nothun better; I shall never forget
the expression of 'um to my dyun day.
He was not like you, Mr. G-erard, for
ye've got the faitures of your mother, and
Mr. Tom tuk afther the owld admiral."
A STURDY ROGUE. 267
At this assertion Slink was attacked
with such a fit of laughter that he had to
bend his body at a right angle with his
legs, and stamp his feet before he could
fetch breath. In a less demonstrative
fashion the rest of the company seemed
" Sor !" exclaimed O'Orewe, addressing
Doctor Blandly, and drawing himself up
with an air of offended dignity, *' wad ye
be koind enough to explain the manin' o'
that dirty blackgyard's behavior ?"
" The explanation is this," said Tom,
" my name is Thomas Talbot."
" Mr. Thomas ! and not dead at all ?
Thank the powers !" said O'Crewe, with
ready wit. '' I'm rejoiced to see yoa
lookun so well. Sor, an' it plases me
moightily to foind that I've been makun
a mistake all the while."
''But it doesn't please me," cried the
Doctor ; " and if you have sworn a lie
268 A STURDY ROGUE.
you shall be punished for your per-
" Sure, and that was a mistake too,
Docthor dear. D'ye think I'd swear the
life away of a charmun young innocint
country lad ? divil a bit ! I never swored,
nothun at all, at all." As he spoke the
pedlar edged away from the constable to-
wards the door.
" Wait," said the Reverend John Bax-
ter; " there's one thing that there is no mis-
take about. You have tried to impose on
us with a false and scandalous assertion."
" Sure your riverence that was the
greatest mistake of all."
"And one that you shall have the
opportunity of repenting. Constable, you
will take this man and lock up his feet in
the stocks until sundown. Give him as
much water as he can drink, and no more
bread than he can pay for — off with him
for a sturdy rogue."
HANGING horses twice upon the
road, Tom and Gerard reached
Talbot Hall about five o'clock in
the afternoon. Old Blake came to the
" He's about, Sir — he's about," he said,
in a low voice. " He was seen yesterday,
and I catched sight of him again this
morning. Shall I fetch my gun and come
up to the house with you ?"
Tom laughed. " Do you think we need
protection against a poor lame devil such
as he ? Open the gate, and come up to
us in half -an -hour, and not before."
Blake shook his head, and reluctantly-
opened the gate for the two gentlemen to
"Go on, Gerard ; I will overtake you
in a couple of minutes. It has just struck
me that Slink's sweetheart is dying to
know his fate," Tom said, pulling up when
they were half-dozen yards from the lodge.
He turned his horse and walked back,
while Gerard, waiting for him, cast his
eyes over the wide spread of lawn, and
along the terrace before the house. Not
a living thing was to be seen.
Half way up the long drive there was
on either side a clump of evergreens ; they
were the only places of concealment be-
tween the lodge and the house. As he
was looking at them, a rabbit hopped out
from the clump on the right hand side
into the gravelled path, and standing on
his hind legs with his ears cocked, re-
garded him for a moment, then leisurely
hopped over towards the left hand clump.
Just as it reached the turf, it stopped
suddenly, and then with a sharp turn from
the evergreens, it flew off towards the
woods as fast as it could lay its heels to
the ground. Why, if it were frightened,
did it not seek shelter in the thickly-
planted covert ? Gerard asking himself
the question, shifted his horse from the
right to the left hand side of the path, as
Tom with a nod to the girl he had been
making happy with a few kind words,
trotted away from the lodge, and came to
his brother's side.
"What do you think of the Hall,
" 'Tis a fine building."
" One wing is closed altogether ; the
other needs repair. A few rooms in the
centre are the only really habitable ones at
present. But we will alter all that. We
will go over the whole place and arrange
together what changes will be necessary
to raake it a pleasant home. What are
you looking at, Gerard?"
" This is a noble lawn, Tom."
'• Oh, 'tis the lawn you are looking at.
I thought you had caught sight of game
in the covert. There are deer in the park,
and when they come upon the lawn, they
add to the prettiness of the picture ; but a
sweet wife on the terrace, and children
stretching their pretty arms out to welcome
us, are wanting to make it perfect "
'' May nothing be wanting to complete
" Nor yours, Gerard. I see nothing of
that unhappy man, do you ?"
" Nothing," said Gerard.
They had passed the clumps, Gerard
riding between that on the left and Tom,
and were now close to the house. They
dismounted, and having hitclied their reins
upon the iron scroll-work at the foot of
the terrace steps, they entered the house
by the open door.
Tom threw open the door of the dining-
room. It was empty; upon the table
were scraps of broken food, an overturned
pitcher and a dirty glass half full of stale
ale. They examined room after room, and
finding no one, went out beyond the shrub-
beries into the stables ; they also were
deserted. Here they were joined by Blake.
" Where are the horses ?" asked Tom,
"I've had 'em removed. Sir," replied
the steward. '* For you see, Sir, this Mr.
— Mr. Crewe, I think he's called, lost his'n,
and I thought he might take a fancy to
breaking a lock, and takmg one of yourn,
Sir. Lord, Sir, 'taint no good looking
about for him in there. He's as scary as
a hunted fox. When I see him this
morning he was eating food a-standing in
VOL. III. 67
the hall-doorway, to make sure he shouldn't
be trapped — he's as wild as a Bedlamite.
This was the stall where he kep' his horse,
and that his saddle."
'' Come into the house, Gerard. Blake,
send something to eat and drink up to
my room. What can you give us r"
Discussing the question of refreshment,
Tom and the steward w^alked out of the
stable. Gerard follow^ing them, stepped
aside quickly to the hanging saddle and
put his hand into the holsters : they were
The room chosen by Tom for his use
was above the entrance, and looked down
upon the terrace. They sat near the
window and ate, and when the meal was
finished they walked round the Hall and
along the terrace until the light faded,
then they returned to the chamber, having
seen nothing of Barnabas. Kain was be-
ginning to fall again.
" Gerard, we must put an end to that
poor wretch's sufferings to-morrow. It
is terrible to think of him wandering
about half starved in this atrocious
weather, without shelter or a single com-
fort in the world. If he is wild with fear,
as Blake makes out he is, we are not
likely to get within speaking distance of
him unless we take measures for catching
him. That will not be a difficult task
with the servants to help us, as he is
lame; but one has a natural repugnance
to hunting a human creature as one would
"True; yet, as you say, he must not
be suffered to exist in his present manner,
and if we cannot find a better method
before the morniog, that must be
" I am anxious on your account, as
well as his. 'Tis preying on your mind,
Gerard, to an extreme. I understand
how jou must feel upon the subject, but
I confess your depression astonishes me.
You have known him long for a scoundrel,
and thought him your brother. 'Tis some
satisfaction to know that his father was
" I feel that, Tom ; and admit that the
balance of fortune has lately turned in my
"Then why shouldn't you be of better
cheer ? The future is not unpleasant to
you ; we shall share everything, and you
will find me eager to catch your wishes
and fall in with them."
" I know, I know," Gerard said, press-
ing the hand his brother held out to him.
" You have no secret grief, hey,
brother ? I never knew anyone so utterly
dejected, except myself, when I fancied
that my mistress despised me. You have
not lost a sweetheart, have you ?"
"A sweetheart," Gerard said, with a
dry laugh. " Did you ever hear of me
loving a woman, do you think a woman
could love me, an ex-gamester, brother to
a murdering villain, a man who succeeds
at fleecing fools at cards and fails in the
first honest work to which he set his
hand ? The most that an angel can do is
to pity me."
" 'Tis but the thought of to-day,
Gerard. A year — six months — aye, less
than that, of companionship with pleasant
folks, will change your bitter reflections
upon the past to sweet hopes of a future.
I shall take my wife to Italy while the
alterations are being made here, and you
shall come with us, and if my sweet
Betty's lively happiness does not drive
away your care, I will suffer you to build
a cell and live in it like a hermit."
Gerard turned away in silence.
" Well, well, think what you will," said
Tom, '' time shall show. Fill your glass,
and when the bottle is empty we will
turn into bed. Will you share my room,
or take the next ?"
"I'll take the next, for the sake of
having my own sweet company to my-
'' As you will, Gerard."
" I'll say good-night now. Is the
library door unlocked ?"
'' I shall read for an hour. Good-night,
'' God bless you, Gerard."
IN THE LTBEARY.
HE libraiy, like all the principal
rooms in Talbot Hall, looked
out upon the terrace. The
shutters were unclosed, and the heavy
curtains looped up. The light of the
candle lit by Gerard could be seen from
Gerard sat with his legs crossed and
his hands clasped over his knee for full
half-an-hour in thought; then he rose,
took the first book that his hand touched,
and opening it in the middle, read. He
28o IN THE LIBRARY.
raised his head and listened, catching a
faint sound from the outside ; but the
swinging of a lantern and a heavy
regular tread growing distinct, he dropped
his eyes again. The outer door was
opened, and someone tapped at the library
" Come in," he said.
Blake entered, his collar up, a stream
of water falling from his hat as he re-
" Beg your pardon. Sir, is Mr. Thomas
here ?" he asked.
" No ; he is in the room upstairs."
" No light in the window. Sir."
'' Then he is asleep, or, at least, in
'' Any orders for the morning, Sir ?"
'' Tell one of the stable lads to have a
horse ready as soon as it is light."
"Right, Sir. The lad shall sleep in
the stable, and when you want the horse
IN THE LIBRARY. 281
— if you'll just give him a call — his name's
*' Very well. Good-night."
"Beg your pardon, Sir, shall I show
you how to fasten the front door."
" No, I understand that."
" That's everything. Sir. I only men-
tioned it because I see something like a
figure round the shrubbery in the dusk,
Grerard nodded, and returning to his
book, closed further discussion.
The retreating step of the old steward,
and subsequently the heavy step of a
stable-help, were the only sounds that
broke the silence for a couple of hours ;
during that time Gerard read page after
page of the book on his knee listlessly.
He read because he could not sleep and
did not want to think.
The wind had risen, and blew the rain
in gusty violence against the windows,
282 IN THE LIBRARY.
now in a sharp, momentary dash, and
again in a long, pattering volley ; but the
casements were well secured, and the
lights burnt steadily by Gerard's side.
After a long pelting of heavy drops against
the glass, the wind turned, and there was
a lull in the stormy brunt. In this mo-
mentary silence, a grating sound fell upon
Gerard's ear, and simultaneously the
flame of the candles swept down the
wax and leapt up, confusing the printed
lines under his eye. Had the wind blown
open the front door ? It was hardly
possible, the steward had closed it care-
fully, and tried it afterwards with his
Yet clearly the wind had entered
by some opening, Gerard felt the damp
chill of it upon his face. He raised his
eyes from the page to the library door.
He could not see it distinctly for the
light that fell between. He moved the
IN THE LIBRARY. 2S3
candelabra further back, then replaced his
hand upon the book, keeping his eyes
upon the door latch, and moving not a
muscle. Presently he saw the latch rise
and slowly descend as the door moved
beyond the catch. Little by little the
door moved forward upon its hinges, and
the opening gradually yawned. Suddenly
it flew back, and in the uncertain light
Gerard distinguished Barnabas bringing
up a pistol to the level of his head.
Gerard sat as motionless as a statue.
He might have been dead already, but for
the reflected light in his eyes, and that he
" Barnabas," he said.
Barnabas lowered his pistol, and look-
ing quickly round the room, his finger
still upon the trigger, asked hoarsely :
"Where is he?"
" You spoke just in time. Curse the
284 IN THE LIBRARY.
light, I cannot see. Is lie hiding here ?
Mark me, 'twill be your fault if I
am a fratricide, for by God I'll shoot
you if he lays a finger upon me in
He spoke, looking round the room
wildly, and evidently as a warning to
Tom if he were in concealment.
" He is not here. If you don't w^ant
to wake him, shut the door and speak
" Shut the door ! A likely thing, I'm
not trapped yet. Speak low ! What do
I want to say to you ? Nothing. What
I have to say to him this will tell !"
He made a movement with the heavy
'* What good will it do you to shoot
him? Are you mad?"
" Nearly. I have been quite. And it
was he drove me out of my senses
coming before me and standing there in
IN THE LIBRARY. 285
the doorway when I thought he was dead.
A fine joke for him, but one that will cost
him dear. Let him come, I don't fear
him now. The rain and pain, and hunger
and thirst have cured me. I've another
friend in my pocket, and standing here,
in this corner, I fear none of you — my
father, Slink, him, you, and all that are
plotting to do for me."
He put himself in the corner by the
door, and lugged out the second pistol
from his pocket, looking now in the dark
behind him, now towards Gerard and the
Gerard, becoming more used to the
dim light, could mark the appearance of
his half-brother. His dress was torn
with briars. A great rent in his sleeve
exposed his bare forearm and elbow ; the
rain beating upon his face showed it a
ghastly white where it was not covered
with a thick, scrubby beard ; he had lost
286 IN THE LIBRARY.
bis hat, and his hair hung matted about
his head, dripping with rain.
'' If you are not mad, jou are a fool,"
said Grerard. "If we sought to give you
up to the law should we come unarmed
to do the work of constable ? Tom
Talbot has come here to offer you money
and an escape from the country."
" I should be mad or a fool indeed to
believe that ! Do you think I or anyone
else would give money and help to a man
who had done his utmost to murder me ?
And that's what you would have me
believe : well then my answer is, you are
" Think of what I have said, and come
again to me in an hour. By that time
you will see the folly of supposing that
we are here with treacherous intentions."
"Oh, I know your sneaking gentle-
manly ways. You who can rob, and
cheat, swindle and thieve a rich living
IN THE LIBRARY. 2S7
with no tools but a pack of cards and a
dice box, have a quicker and surer means
of cheatino' a low rescue like me than I
can readily guess at. I know why the
doors have been left open, and food put
upon the table — to tempt me and trap me
like a rat into a cage. I said to mj^self —
these things are not set here for nothing,
in a day or two my lord Tom with a
sneaking hound or two at his heels w411
come to play out the farce to a conclusion.
I've been waiting for him, and I would
have shot him dead this afternoon, for his
white coat was a sure mark, but that
you, plague you, got between him and
"And if you had shot him — what
''What then— the gallows, a brave
face, the cheers of the mob, and a sudden
death. Isn't that a better end than
rotting away year by year in a gaol."
288 IN THE LIBRARY.
'^No one wislies to serve you so."
" You liar !" Barnabas said, grating his
teeth. " I've a mind to put a bullet in
your pretty body, you sneaking, gentle-
manly thief." He trembled with envious
hate, and half raised his pistol.
" Go out, and reflect on what I have
said; I shall sit here until the morning
and will listen to any terms you like to
make. But I warn you that you will have
no longer than this night to consider.
To-morrow morning we shall name
our terms and oblige you to accept
" Not while I can lift a pistol. I swear
I will hang for the man who has made
my life hell to me, and for once I will keep
At this moment there was a movement
above, and Barnabas looked into the
darkness with palpable fear. He was
like a beast at bav, for whom a sound has
IN THE LIBRARY. 189
more terror tliaii a blow. He was a
coward even in his desperation.
Tom's voice above called, " Gerard !"
In a moment Barnabas dashed from bis
corner, and fled out into the darkness.
G-erard beard bim stumbling down the
" G-erard," Tom called, again.
G-erard made no reply. Tom, too
drowsy to make inquiries into the noise
that had disturbed him, turned upon
his side to sleep and dream. Gerard
sat and watched.
And the night wore slowly on.
VOL. III. 58
"GEEATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS,
THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS
ERARD paced up and down the
library. He could fix liis atten-
tion upon tbe book no longer.
From time to time he walked to the
window and looked out into the obscurity;
once he went out to the door in the
entrance-hall, peering to the right and
left along: the terrace. He could see
nothing. He had but sHght hope of
Barnabas returning, and when at length
*' GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN." 291
the outline of the distant woods became
vaguely visible, he felt convinced that the
resolution Barnabas had made was unal-
terable. He would surely take Tom's life.
He stood for a few minutes with his
hand resting on the table, looking round
the room, and he jDictured the future.
The room glowing with the light of burn-
ing logs in the wide chimney ; his brother
Tom seated there with Lady Betty, his
sweet wife, beside him; Doctor Blandly
an honoured guest sharing their happiness
and content, and little children playing at
their mother's feet. There was no vacant
chair placed for an expected friend in the
picture. With a sigh he turned away
and walked to the end of the room, where
in the evening they had thrown down
their hats and coats.
He took up Tom's light drab riding-
coat and drew it on. It was large for
him — so much the better for his purpose.
292 " GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN."
When he turned up the collar and but-
toned it over it covered the lower half of
his face. Then he put on his hat,
drawing it down over his eyes. Thus
dressed, even in the hght he might have
been mistaken for his brother Tom.
He paused in walking towards the door,
asking himself if he should write a word to
leave behind him — a message to her — to
him— a testimony of the love in his
heart ? No, 'twould but add to their
sorrow if they knew him for something
better than an unfortunate man. The
family Bible was in his hand ; he might
have left it open upon the table with the
page turned down at this line : " Greater
love has no man than this, that a man lay
down his life for his friends." Should
he do so to tell how much he loved ? No,
'twould be less painful to attribute his end
to unfortunate carelessness than heroic
" GREA TER LOVE HA TH NO MA iV." 293
He went out of the Hall leaving no
message ; breathing only a prayer for the
happiness of those who should live there
after he was gone.
The wind had abated and the rain
ceased to fall heavily ; but over the dark
grey sky black clouds hurried quickly,
huge and formless. The terrace was clear,
and the long drive could be seen for some
yards before it was lost in the vapoury
Gerard walked round slowly by the
shrubbery seeing no one, and coming to
the stable he called *' Jacob."
The stable lad answered readily, and
having struck a light with the flint,
quickly put a saddle on Tom's horse.
Suddenly in passing Gerard he stopped :
'' I ax your pardon, Sir," said he, " but
I've gone and saddled the wrong mare; I
thought you was Master Thomas by the
294 " GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN:'
" No matter, tlie mare will do. Lead
The mare was led out, and Gerard
sprang into tlie saddle.
'' You can put tlie light out and go to
sleep again, Jacob. Take this."
" Thankye, Sir, thankye kindly," said
the lad, spitting on the crown Gerard had
put in his hand. For him the day was
Gerard walked his horse past the shrub-
bery and into the drive. It was growing
light rapidly. After walking down the
broad path a hundred yards, Gerard could
discern the outlines of the two ever-
green clumps standing by the path.
''All that heaven gives to happy
mortals be theirs— my brother and his
wife," he said to himself. " He will grow
stout and florid, Tom ; with a love for
creature comforts and healthy sports.
Kind to his fellows, loving his children
" GREA TER LO VE HA TH NO MA N." 295
better than his Hfe, and loving his wife
dearer than all. An honest, healthy,
English country gentleman. And she
will reign like a queen in his house,
beautiful and fair, making all love her
by her simple fidelity and gentleness.
God bless them ! I have no other wish."
With the report came a flash of light
from amidst the evergreens, and a bullet
sped straight to the heart of Gerard.
His last wish was uttered ; his sorrows
done ; his end come.
The mare started forward, jerking the
dead body from the saddle,
" There shall be no mistake this time,"
muttered Barnabas, throwing aside the
used pistol and drawing another from
his pocket as he scrambled through the
With his arms spread out like a cross,
Gerard lay, with his face upwards to the
296 " GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN:"
light. As Barnabas recognised his half-
brother, his soul, callous as it was, shrunk
His first idea was of the consequences.
That the mob would not applaud as he
looked down on the thousand faces from
the scaffold — that they would drag him
from the tumbril, and tear him limb from
limb, was the thought that presented
itself to his mind. Not a regret, nor the
faintest tinge of remorse, touched him ;
only fear. And already he heard voices
and approaching feet.
He looked round like a hunted brute,
closed his eyes, and put the muzzle of
his pistol slowly to his mouth ; then, with
his thumb, he pressed the trigger.
London : Printed by A. Schulze, 13, Poland Street. (S. & H.)
UMVER9ITY OF ILUN0I9-URBANA
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