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Full text of "Lieutenant Barnabas : a novel"

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L 1 B RAR.Y 

OF THE 

U N IVER.5ITY 

or ILLINOIS 

V. -3 



LIEUTENANT BAMABAS. 



A NOVEL. 

BY 

FRANK BARRETT. 

AUTHOR OF " FOLLY MORRISON," ETC. 

IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. III. 




LONDON: 
RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON, 

NEW BURLINGTON STREET, 

1881. 

Right of Translation Reserved. 



'l'^^'^ CONTEXTS 



THE THIRD VOLUME, 



CHAPTEK PAGE 

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 
Friends" 290 



LIEUTENANT BAENABAS. 



CHAPTER I. 



ILL TIDINGS. 




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- 
broidery. 

" Once more, Lady Betty, will you 
accompany me?" asked Mrs. Walker. 

" Once more, Felicia, and at the risk 
of being thought ungrateful, no." 



VOL. III. 



40 



ILL TIDINGS. 



" '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 
drowsy." 

" 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 
me." 

'' Is there no season when it becomes 
one to be grave ?" 

" Yes ; but happily the season does not 



ILL TIDINGS. 



set in before forty." Mrs. "Walker seated 
herself. 

*' 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 

40—2 



ILL TIDINGS. 



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 
insulting you." 

" Who told you that ?" asked Lady 
Betty, quickly. 

'' 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 



ILL TIDINGS. 



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 



ILL TIDINGS. 



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." 



ILL TIDINGS. 



" I deny it. Who was it came to 
tranquilise jour mind after the meeting — 
the man you loved or the man that loved 
you ?" 

" 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 



ILL TIDLXGS. 



open window ? You are silent — your con- 
science tells you that you expect liim to 
disobey." 

" 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 
friend." 



ILL TIDISGS. 



" 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 
same." 

" Strength of heart, fidelity, trust " 

" Et cetera. He has no fault, I 
suppose ?" 

" Xone that time will not remove." 

" Well, thank the stars you may out- 
live him by a dozen years. Go on, 
dear." 

" There is no act of his that I cannot 
justify " 

" 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 
me." 

" 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 
her ears. 

Mrs. Walker laughed lightly and kept 
her eyes fixed on Lady Betty's anxious 
face. The door opened, and the servant 
announced : 



ILL TIDINGS. 



'' Mr. G-erard Crewe." 

A ray of satisfaction lit np Lady 
Betty's face, much to the perplexity of 
Mrs. Walker. 

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 
whisper : 



ILL TIDINGS, 



" 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, 
saying : 

" My mission has taken me longer than 
I expected, and I have only painful news to 
give you." 

" 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 
tell." 

'' 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 
loved." 

" 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 
folly." 

" 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 



ILL TIDL\GS. 



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 
current." 

" 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 
river." 

" Oh, Heavens ! What else have you 
to tell?" 

'' 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, 

41-2 



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. 




CHAPTER II. 

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- 
ceive." 

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 
the room. 

" 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 
see." 

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 
amusing original. 

'' 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 
Blandly." 

" 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 
elephant." 

'' 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 
asked. 



IN ST A NHOPE STREET. 25 

" None. We have found not a sign 
nor trace since the second day of our 
search." 

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 
Betty. 

" 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 
have visitors." 



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 
exhausted." 

'' 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, 
madam." 

" 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 
Blandly ?" 

'' 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." 




CHAPTER III. 



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. 
Doctor Blandly." 



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, 
said: 

'' 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 
her eyes. 

'' 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- 
pathies " 

'' 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 
loss." 

" '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 
lies." 

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- 
mured she. 

" He has your tears. A marble is not 
needed to keep his memory sacred in your 
heart." 

'' 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." 

42-2 



36 A TURNING POINT. 

" I hope SO ; you are too young and 
too healthy to brood long upon your 
sorrow." 

"But 'tis heartless to forgot the one 
we love." 

" '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- 
fied." 

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 
uncertainty. 

"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. 
Doctor Blandly." 

" 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 
death." 

" 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 
the word. 

" 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 
mother." 

" 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 
mother ?" 

'' Yes — she asked me, and I told 
her." 

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 
money." 



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 
yourself." 

" 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 
that." 

" You are in error — I could not dis- 
prove it by any number of words." 

'' You shall tell me all. How can he be 
concerned." 

" 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 
head . 

" 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 
terms. 

'' 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 
to you." 

" 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- 
pence." 

'' He could have obliged me to sever 
myself from the society he disliked had 
he chosen to exercise the power he 
possessed." 

" 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 
friend." 

'' 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 
their money." 

" I warrant she did. Well, my dear, 
and did your mother leave any bills 
unpaid ?" 

" 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 
effects?" 

" 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 
school." 

" 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 — 
here." 

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 
instant." 

" Three hundred pounds ! I have not 
so much." 

*' 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 
tradesmen." 

" 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 

43—2 

LIbKAK MPRARY 

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 

position. 

*' 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 

like it." 

" 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 
misfortunes." 

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 
life. 



CHAPTER IV. 



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 
pocket. 

'' 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 
charge. 

" 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 
journey ?" 

*' 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- 
mical." 

*' Oh, you are dreadfully, alarmingly 
shocking ! Economical ! what a horrid 
word !" 

" 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 
in dresses." 

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 
Lady Betty. 

" In three weeks at the furthest, sooner, 
if our dresses are finished." 

" And how long shall we stay 
there ?" 

'' 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- 
sessed." 

" But she settled something upon you, 
surely ?" 

" 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 !" 

'' It is quite true." 

" But you have some resource; Doctor 



62 ■ A FRIEND IN NEED. 

Blandly, perhaps, has promised you assist- 
ance?" 

*' 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 
refused." 

" 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 
baseness ?" 

'' 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- 
spect." 

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 
said. 

" Then what on earth do you intend 
doing ?" 

" 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 
broken sentence. 



A FRIEND IN NEED. 65 

" In the first place the furniture and 
china in Park Lane will have to be 
sold." 

" 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 
calmness. 

" 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 
six weeks." 

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 
was obviated. 

" Then I had better not go," she said, 
quietly. 

'' 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. 




44—2 



CHAPTEE y. 



GERALD TALBOT. 



;^_Sx^ 



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 
town, Sir." 

" 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 
him." 

*' 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 
done." 

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 
door. 

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, 
said: 

" 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. 



GERARD TALBOT. 



'' The luck has turned," said the 
Doctor, as he ascended the steep and 
narrow stairs. 

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, 
paper. 

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 
father's name. 

" 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 
mind." 

'' 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 
necessity." 

" You owe nothing, surely." 
'' No ; but my ability to gain is gone." 
•' You cannot believe in luck to such an 
extent." 

'' 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 
Doctor Blandly." 

" 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 
kept it." 

" 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 
and " 

" 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 
busy. 

*' And so you think of entering a 
profession with a view to gaining money," 
he said. 

*' 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 
genius." 

*' 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 
read." 

" 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 
present." 

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 
a play." 

"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 

45—2 



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 
instructions." 

" Barnabas must not be allowed to stay 
there." 

" 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 
heir-at-law." 

" Is it impossible to find anyone who 
knew my mother at the time of her mar- 
riage ?" 

*' Your father removed her from her 
friends in London, thirty years, or nearly 
thirty years, since. What possibility is 
there ?" 

" 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 
hand. 

''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 
them?" 

'' 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 
groan. 

*' 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 
girl." 



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 
pounds down." 

'' What power have you ? He has the 
Hall." 

" 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 



92 



GERARD TALBOT. 



shall have liim whining at our feet for 
mercy and pardon before Christmas is 
upon us, Sir." 




CHAPTER yi. 




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 
house. 

" 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 
appeared : 

" 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 
further confirmation. 

Doctor Blandly walked over to the 
Yicarage. 



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 

46—3 



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 
vicarage. 

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 
vicarage. 

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- 
dertone. 

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 
business. 

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 
for impertinence." 

'' Poor soul !" 

" Ob, of course, you pity her, Doctor 
Blandly.'' 

" 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 
morning." 

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 
about accomplishments." 

" 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- 
pacity." 

" Had she advertised to teach elder 
children, I should not have thought it 
worth while to show you the advertise- 
ment." 

" 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 
Baxter." 

'' 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 
ears. 

**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 
nights." 

''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 
proposal. 

" You shall reckon up your expenses at 
the end of each week or month as you 
choose, and I will pay them tvitJwut ashing 
any questions.'^ 

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 
funds." 

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. 




CHAPTEE VII. 




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- 
chief. 

" 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 
long." 

" You are tired with joar journey. 
Dear heart ! to think I should be asleep ! 
Jerry !" 

" 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. 

47-2 



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 
you?" 

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 
Doctor. 

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," 
suggested Jerry. 

" 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 
her duty. 

"Miss Betty," said Doctor Blandly, 
''this is Kate, Jerry's wife. Kate, this 
is Miss Betty St. Cyr, of whom I have 
spoken." 

'' 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 
stay." 

"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 
eyes. 

" 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 
know." 

" I am, indeed sorry that I cannot stay. 
I have fixed six o'clock this evening for 
an interview at my house with the 
lawyer." 

"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 

go." 

Kate made a bob, and with a few 
" dootif ul words," retired. 

*' Shall you return by the coach ?" asked 
Doctor Blandly. 

" 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 
colour." 

"Mr. Crewe?" 

" No, not Mr. Crewe — but your friend, 
Gerard still. When did you see him 
last ?" 

" 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." 

" Talbot !" cried Lady Betty, catching 
his arm with trembling eager fingers — 
"Talbot?" 

''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 
upon him." 

" How can he be poor and Tom's 
brother." 

" Tom never knew of the relation- 
ship." 

" 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 
be contested." 

" 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 
pleasure." 

'' 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 
garret ?" 

" 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 
Betty ?" 

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 
cried. 

'' 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 
people." 

"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- 
difference. 

" 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 
direct affront." 

Baxter plucked up courage, and in a 



BROTHER AND SISTER. 131 

faltering voice accepted the Doctor's 
invitation. 

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 
comedy. 

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 
produced. 

" 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 
your affection." 

" 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 
to." 

" 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 
comedy, Gerard." 

" You prefer a poor poet to a wealthy 
gamester ?" 

" 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 
assurance." 

'' 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 
comedy?" 

"Five." 

" 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 
characters." 

'' 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 
doubts." 

'' 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 
comedy ?" 

'' 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 
face. 

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 



142 



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- 



faction. 




V, 



'# 



CHAPTER IX. 



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 
church. 

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 
devices. 

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- 
cance. 

The bell pealed and then tolled, pews 
opened and shut, coughing began in 
good earnest, the clerk took his place in 

49—2 



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 
from London." 

''It cost me nothing, I walked." 

" Oh, poor Gerard ! You must be worn 
out." 

Gerard laughed. 

" '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 
sufficient." 



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 
she. 

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 
subject. 

" 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 
week." 

*' 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 
then : 

" Is it my affection you hope for?" she 
asked. 



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 
respect together." 

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- 
patience. 

"Jerry will bring us a dish of tea to 
settle our spirits, and then, Gerard, we will 
hear the new comedy," said Doctor 
Blandly. 

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- 
stantly/' 

Gerard, as the younger, stood ; the two 
elder gentlemen seated themselves. Pre- 
sently Jerry returned carrying a velvet- 
covered chair. 

"'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. 



-^^^^^^^^ 



CHAPTER X. 



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- 
pleased. 

" 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- 
tion. 

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 
he. 

" 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 

came. 

60-2 



i64 BARNABAS AND HIS COURT. 

" You have had some rents to collect 
from the cottages: where is it?" asked 
Barnabas. 

" 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 
kicked off." 

" 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 
with me." 

''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 
unmoved. 

"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- 
perty." 



1 66 BARNABAS AND HIS COURT. 

'* The property's mine now my brother 
is dead." 

" 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 
Barnabas. 

Humphrey Blake left the room. 

'' You said I could take possession," 
said Barnabas. 

" You have," replied his counsellor. 

"But how am I to defeat this cursed 
Doctor Blandly?" 

" 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 
you ?" 

" 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 
of returning. 

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 
Shnk. 

" There be but a dozen left, master, and 
they are nigh down to the sockets," 
said Slink, as he moved to obey the com- 
mand. 

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 
to him. 

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 
room. 

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 
terrors. 

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 
him. 

"What are you afeard of?" Barnabas 
asked one night. " You've fastened the 
shutters and barred all the doors, haven't 
you?" 



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 
ghostes ?" 

" Ghosts ! What are you talking 
about ? D'ye think I take heed of such 
rubbish ?" 

" 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, 
master?" . 



174 



BARNABAS AND HIS COURT. 



" Hold your cursed tongue, and go 
sit over yonder where tlie curtain 
hangs." 




CHAPTER XI. 



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- 
sions. 

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 
Slink. 

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, 
darlint." 

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- 
overtures. 

" An' y'are out in the mornun a shootin' 
birds and bastes, like a rale gentleman, as 
y'are." 

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- 
bot, Esquoire?" 

Slink nodded again. 

" Well, my boy, ye shall jist take me 

51—2 



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 
behint." 

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 
young friend. 

" 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 
grins. 

" 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 
ever : 



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 
Crow.' " 

He paused to give Slink an opportunity 
of acting upon his suggestion, but find- 
ing bim disinclined to break silence lie 
continued : 

" 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 ?" 

Slink nodded. 

"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 
'urn ?" 

" 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- 
thered." 

'' Yes he was." 

" But I say he was nut ; and so how 
can ye say he was?" 

"Because he was shot and " Slink 

stopped suddenly. 

" 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- 
panion. 

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 
stay. 

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 
him. 

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 
to listen. 

" '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 
hound !" 

" 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 ?" 

"Well?" 

" 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 
Talbot?'" 

"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 
darlint ?" 

"What am I to say, for they'll 
come questioning me, plague take 



•em." 



*' 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 
me ?" 

"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- 
tice." 

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 
no answer. 

Then the pedlar went to the 
door, and called out in his blandest 
tones : 

" Toby, darlint, whoy don't ye come 
when yer master calls ? Where are you, 
swaitest?" 

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. 




VOT. III. 



C2 



CHAPTER XTI. 



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 
the morning. 

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 
'^ Bell." 

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 



O -J 

52—2 



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 
your fault." 

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 
mouth full. 

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?" 
asked Jerry. 

"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 
lad." 

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 
upon them. 

" 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 

you." 

" His daughter— the wench with red 
cheeks?" 

" And beautiful dark eyes, your honour," 
Slink sighed. 

" 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 
me?" 

''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 ?" 

'' 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 
says." 

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 
way." 

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 
addresses. 

"'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 
bell." 

" '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." 

" Barnabas O'Crewe— the father of the 
man who calls himself Theophilus 
Talbot ?" 

''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 



iim." 



*' 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 
his fist. 

*' 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 
tongue ?" 

*' 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 
oncomfortable." 

" "Well, well — come to the point." 

" Bedad I'm comun to it straght. 
Docther dear, y' have a koind o' spite 
against Thaophilus." 

" I have the same feeling towards other 
villains." 

'' 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- 
poster." 

" You will say that of your own 
son ?" 

'' 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. 




CHAPTER XIII. 



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 



VOL. III. 



53 



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 
back. 

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 
reply. 

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 
her. 

'' 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 
ache. 

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}' 
clouds. 

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- 
sumed. 

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- 
pence. 



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 
light. 

" 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 
again. 

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- 
ing finger. 

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 
unbaited trap. 

'' '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 

or rest 

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 
Talbot ! 

With a rattling in his parched throat he 
fell forward, flat upon the wet stone, like 
a log. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



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 
his absence. 

'« 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, 
Gerard ?" 

" I think we must go round by the 
road ; the heavy rains of this past 
miserable week must have made the 
meadow impassable." 

'' 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 
time." 

" 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- 
sincere ?" 

" 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- 
thing !" 

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 
I have." 

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." 

54—2 



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 
asked, reproachfully. 

" 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 



PANDORA'S BOX. 



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 
customary doze. 




CHAPTER XV. 




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 
Doctor. 

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 
beyond. 

" 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 
from disgrace." 

'* 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 
pale. 

'' Because he has told me. He is at 
the bottom of the garden at this moment, 
as hale and hearty, thank God, as ever 
he was." 



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 
Blandly." 

" 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 
of you." 

'' 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 
husband." 

" 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 
play." 

" 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 

joy- 
Gerard turned his face to the wall. 




CHAPTEE XYI. 



THE OMEN. 




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 
desert. 

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 
Doctor. 

" 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, 
sententiously. 

" 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 
life." 

" A mistake, Tom, a mistake," said 
the Doctor ; " commiserate the unfortu- 
nate, if you will, but whip all rogues, I 
say." 

"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 
older." 

" 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 
Blandly. 

" 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 
Hall. 

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- 
molested." 

'' 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 
decently." 

" 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 
him henceforth." 

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 
say." 

" 'Tis enough, dear," she answered. 

She was right, perhaps ; but after 
awhile he felt it necessary to say some- 
thing else. 

'' 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 
frightened look. 

" 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 
signifies ?" 

*' 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 
dreams." 

"So do I, when they are pleasantly 



THE OMEN. 257 



realised. And what is the significance of 
yours ?" 

"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 
me." 

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 
argument. 

'' 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 
purpose." 



CHAPTER XYII. 




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 
once." 

" Do ; then take this letter to Mr. 
Baxter ; and afterwards find the constable, 

56-2 



26o A STURDY ROGUE. 

and tell him to be here about ten 
o'clock/' 

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 
plase?" 

'' 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 
sure, squoire." 



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 
pedlar. 

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 
Tom. 

" 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 
Doctor Blandly. 

" 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 
also amused. 

" 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- 

jury-" 

" 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." 



CHAPTER XYIII. 




FAEEWELL. 

HANGING horses twice upon the 
road, Tom and Gerard reached 
Talbot Hall about five o'clock in 
the afternoon. Old Blake came to the 
gate. 

" 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 



270 FAREWELL. 



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 
pass. 

"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 



FAREWELL. 271 



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, 
Gerard ?" 

" '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 



272 FAREWELL. 



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 
your happiness." 

" 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 



FAREWELL. 273 



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 



274 FAREWELL. 



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 
empty. 

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. 



FAREWELL. 275 



" 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 
a beast." 

"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 
adopted." 

" I am anxious on your account, as 
well as his. 'Tis preying on your mind, 
Gerard, to an extreme. I understand 

67-2 



276 FAREWELL. 



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 
not yours." 

" I feel that, Tom ; and admit that the 
balance of fortune has lately turned in my 
favour." 

"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 



FAREWELL. 277 



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, 



278 FAREWELL. 



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- 
self." 

'' As you will, Gerard." 

" I'll say good-night now. Is the 
library door unlocked ?" 

" Yes." 

'' I shall read for an hour. Good-night, 
Tom." 

'' God bless you, Gerard." 



CHAPTEH XIX. 




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 
the lawn. 

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 
door. 

" Come in," he said. 
Blake entered, his collar up, a stream 
of water falling from his hat as he re- 
moved it. 

" 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 
bed." 

'' 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 
Jacob, Sir." 

*' 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, 
and " 

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 
knee. 

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 
spoke : 

" 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?" 

" Asleep." 

" 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 
treachery !" 

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 
lower." 

" 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 
pistol. 

'* 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 
room. 

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 
a liar." 

" 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 
me." 

"And if you had shot him — what 
then ?" 

''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 
them." 

" 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 
my oath." 

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 
terrace steps. 

" 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 




CHAPTER XX. 




"GEEATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS, 

THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS 

FRIENDS." 

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. 

58-2 



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 
design. 



" 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 
gloom. 

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 
coat." 



294 " GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN:' 



" No matter, tlie mare will do. Lead 
lier out." 

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 
beginning well. 

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." 

Paug-ker ! 

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 
evergreens. 

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 
within him. 

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. 



THE END. 



London : Printed by A. Schulze, 13, Poland Street. (S. & H.) 



'Nb 



UMVER9ITY OF ILUN0I9-URBANA 



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