MRS. THERESA DREUX.
IT was not till
the day before Mr. Hewly's expected return that young Greyson found
out anything of the lodger which his uncle thought worth
Directly after breakfast the next morning he made his
appearance at Mr. Dreux's lodgings, completely disguised by an
enormous pair of whiskers, a light great-coat, and a red comforter.
"What is this absurd disguise for?" asked Mr. Dreux, when he
"Why, of course I don't want him to know me."
"Know you,—he has never seen you."
"Oh, that does not at all matter; we wish to have a little
fun. You should see Frank; I am certain his own mother
wouldn't know him.''
"Where are you now going?—tell me that."
"Oh, a long way; it's a secret where. In fact,
we don't exactly know where we may have to go. Now I'm
off,—don't you wish me success?"
"Most certainly. But I am just as certain what kind of
success you will have, as—well, I do not wish to damp you.
Pray let me hear often what you are about; I shall be very uneasy
about you till I see you again."
"Oh, I shall write," cried the pupil, and he ran off in high
spirits, while Mr. Dreux applied himself to his letters, which lay
unopened before him. He hoped to find one from Elinor; it was
so long since she had written that he had begun to feel uneasy.
Instead of this, there was one in his aunt's hand-writing, which
rather startled him, and he broke it open hastily, and read as
"I am sure you will be glad to hear that Elinor has had
rather a better night; and Doctor King thinks her no worse this
morning. So do not be alarmed; for, as I always say, when
young people are ill, you know they have youth on their side.
And I have said, over and over again, to Elinor,— 'My dear, why
don't you write and tell Arthur how poorly you are?' but she doesn't
like to distress you, which seems natural. And, as I said to
her yesterday, 'What a mistake it is, my dear, for he must be far
more anxious than if he knew the truth,—which, Dr. King says, should
never be concealed from the friends of a patient.' And so I
asked him point blank whether you hadn't better be told, and he
replied,—'By all means. I am surprised it has not been done
"So I thought I would write, my dear Arthur, to relieve your
anxiety, for I do not like to have all the responsibility myself;
and as Elinor gets weaker every day, and takes nothing but rusks
soaked in wine and water, don't you think it would be much better
for you to come over and see her, for all the advice I have for her
does not seem to do her any good; and if she has anything on
her mind,—I'm sure I don't know why they should think so,—but
perhaps she might tell it to you and feel relieved.
"My dear Arthur, you know how weak and bad my eyes are, and
Dr. King says they will never be any better, nor at my age is it to
be expected; but as I had said to Elinor, 'My dear, I will certainly
write,' I thought I would put myself out of the way to do it.
And you have always been a very fond brother to her, though it is
shocking to think how rude you used to make her when she was a
child,—I never shall forget it,—and teach her to climb, and fish,
and all sorts of things not proper for a girl. But, as I said,
you could have the blue room, you know, and the little boudoir off
Elinor's dressing-room for a study, just as you used to do when you
were at college.
"So I hope you will not disappoint Elinor if you can possibly
help it, for now she is confined to her bed she is, of course, very
"She told me before she went to sleep to give her dear love
to you; and believe me, my dear Arthur,
"Your affectionate aunt,
"ELINOR THERESA DREUX.
P.S. Dr. King says these slow fevers are often very
obstinate. I told him I had asked you to come. He is a
very disagreeable man, and says that ought to have been done a week
He read this unaccountable letter to its close, and then,
leaning back in his chair, a faint vertigo for a moment almost
deprived him of his senses. He presently recovered himself
sufficiently to rise and open the window; then a wretched half-hour
passed before he could decide what was best to be done. That
Elinor was ill was only too evident, but the extent of her illness
he remained in doubt of. He knew his aunt too well not to be
aware that Elinor might be at the point of death before she would
take sufficient alarm to rouse herself to any decided line of
action; it was a great deal to have herself written to request him
to come to his sister. To go instantly to Leamington was his
decision. Hewly would return in a few hours. He
therefore wrote a letter, to be sent to his house, explaining his
absence and its cause.
The journey was one of two hundred miles, but a great part of
the way was by cross country roads, so that he did not reach his
destination till the middle of the next day. The nervous
excitement caused by this ambiguous letter was almost past
endurance. It was quite a relief, on looking up to his aunt's
windows, to find them unclosed. "I assure you I quite expect
to see your sister better to-morrow."
The servant who ushered him in volunteered the information
that his sister was better.
"Bless me, Arthur, how pale you look!" cried his aunt,
meeting him at the door of the dining room. "Bring some wine,
Gorden. Why, of course, my dear Arthur, you cannot go
up-stairs yet, while Dr. King's here; so sit down, and don't think
of such a thing."
His aunt's vague communication fretted him almost past
endurance, and he threw himself into a seat to wait for the
physician, looking so ill that the old lady began to ply him with
questions about his own health.
The physician presently returned; was glad Mr. Dreux was
come,—thought his patient no worse,—she had a great deal of low
fever,—she was certainly in some danger,—he might presently go up
and see her,—she had been got up, and was lying on the sofa.
"He must not go, Doctor, while he has that pale, eager look,—he
would frighten her out of her senses," said Mrs. Elinor Theresa. "You look as if you had been turned to stone. Come nearer the fire,
Arthur. Are you cold? Dear me, how nonsensical I am!—perhaps you
haven't dined. Are you hungry, Arthur?"
"My dear Sir," said the sympathizing physician,
"Ah! well, Arthur, I'm glad to see you beginning to look like flesh
and blood again. Didn't I tell you when I wrote not to be uneasy? My
dear Doctor, they were always so very fond of each other. As for Elinor, she constantly says, 'If I could only see my brother I
should be happy.'"
"Well, Madam," said Dr. King, rather testily, "and she will see him
directly, and be all the better for it, I dare say."
"I wish to go up at once," said Mr. Dreux; "I must see my sister
"Not till you have taken a glass of wine and a biscuit;—it would
excite my patient to see you looking so pale."
The glass of wine was hastily swallowed, and Mrs. Theresa Dreux
showed her nephew up stairs. As she walked to Elinor's door she
talked on subjects strangely at variance with his feelings.
"Wait here for a moment," she said, "I must just go into the room
first and prepare her."
He sat down in Elinor's dressing-room while his aunt went into the
"You may come in, Arthur," she presently said, and he quietly
Elinor was reclining on a very low couch, close to the window. She
wore a wrapping white dress. Her face was pallid, and her features
attenuated and tense. As he entered she half-raised herself into a
sitting position, and he knelt down by the couch the better to
receive her in his arms. Elinor laughed with hysterical joy as she
put her thin arms round him; but presently his face sunk heavily,
and as she held him, she fell back on the pillows, and said, with a
terrified glance, "Help me, aunt, Arthur has fainted!"
Her aunt wrung her hands, and ran about looking for a
smelling-bottle; the maid shrieked at the top of the stairs for a
glass of water; but, happily for all parties, Dr. King came speedily
up. He had been very doubtful as to the result of the interview, and
fully expected to find Elinor in a swoon, instead of which he found
her sitting up with a strength he had not given her credit for,
supporting her brother's head, while her aunt and maid ran hither
and thither, a perfect picture of helplessness and inefficiency.
He soon relieved Elinor of her burden, and, the proper remedies
being applied, the patient opened his eyes.
"Bless me, ma'am!" exclaimed the maid, crying and sobbing, "I never
saw a gentleman faint before!"
Elinor, sitting up on her sofa, watched their proceedings with the
utmost anxiety. Her brother's face gradually resumed something like
its natural hue, while her aunt, holding the smelling-bottles,
exclaimed against the world in general for all the dreadful things
that happened when nobody expected them; and against Elinor in
particular, for being ill and frightening her brother; then against
the said brother, for causing her a palpitation of the heart, and
disappointing her expectations. "For I have always said," continued
this wise woman, "that if there was a man in the world who possessed
perfect self-command, it was my nephew. I have said to Elinor times
out of mind, 'Elinor, my dear, if you were to cut his hand off he
would never shed a tear; he wouldn't jump, not if fifty guns were to
go off close to him! Such nerves! Elinor, my dear, don't you
remember that review?' Why, bless me, Morris, how the water trickles
down this poplin dress of mine. Make haste to get a towel and wipe
The physician, who seemed to be a man of a crusty temper, looked
daggers at the good lady; and then, his face suddenly changing, he
said something kind and encouraging to Elinor, and gave her brother
leave to rise.
The two females had drenched his hair with water; the physician took
the towel from the maid, without apology or remark, and began to dry
it for him.
"Now," he said, in a whisper, "don't imagine that all this has done
my poor little patient any harm,—quite the contrary. I told her the
other day, that if the house were to take fire, she would find
strength to run out of it. She wants rousing. I hope this will prove
a little stimulus, poor child!"
"Are you better now, dearest?" said Elinor tenderly, as he stooped
over her to kiss her; "but ah! how thin you are, Arthur—how cold
your cheek is; you have been ill too!"
"No, I am quite well, Elinor; my fainting was nothing but a foolish
mistake. I see you are much better than I thought."
"I shall be better now you are come, dear; but oh! I am so tired."
"And no wonder," interposed the crusty doctor. "Madam, I wish Miss Dreux to be put to bed immediately; she is exhausted, and quite
hysterical. And you, Sir, come away at once. You are not to see her
again till you have had a good meal and an hour's rest. Travelled
all night, and eaten nothing to-day, I'll be bound; and then
fainting away! Parcel of silly old women frightened him to death!
Bah! Come away, Sir; I'll have no kissing and hanging over my
patients. Done her a great deal of good, though,—but that's mum."
This speech was not all uttered aloud, and during its delivery the
old gentleman looked with strong disfavour at the mistress and maid,
who were still occupied with the purple poplin gown.
"Madam, are you going to undress that young lady; or must I fetch up
the cook to do it?"
"Now really, Doctor King!"
"Will you do it,
then, ma'am? Now, Sir, come away. What did you mean by going off in
that style? A fine, strong young man like you! Did you do it for
"I don't know what I meant by it," was the reply. "If it was an
experiment, I hope I shall never repeat it as long as I live. I
found it anything but an agreeable one."
This conversation took place as they descended the stairs.
"I'll be bound that old woman mystified you nicely when she asked
you to come here. I had great work to get her to write at all. Parcel of silly old women! I've no patience with them."
"My aunt's letter certainly tortured me a good deal; it was
"Well, the fact of the matter is, she's very poorly, there's no
denying that; but, in my opinion, she has something on her mind, and
if you can get her to talk of it, you'll do her a service—but not
for the next few days, she's too weak at present. I dare say you
hardly expected to find her alive when you got here."
"I scarcely knew what to think."
"Ah, I saw what kind of a demon had been gnawing and worrying at
your heart! You shall hear the downright truth from me every day. Never mind what that old woman says; she frets me almost out of my
life. I wonder whether that poor child's in bed yet. Well, Sir, good
day. My advice to you is, that you eat a good dinner, take a couple
of glasses of port, and leave the rest to Providence."
With these remarks the Doctor took his leave.
Elinor was too weak to see him again that day, but while she slept
he came and looked at her. Her face was painfully thin—strangely
altered, but in sleep the anxious expression which had shocked him
so much was not apparent. Her small hand lay on the counterpane;
every little bone was visible. When in health it had often looked
whiter; for now through the too transparent skin every purple and
lilac and crimson vein was distinctly traceable. She was wasted to a
skeleton. He thought he should scarcely have known her; yet he took
comfort from the maid's assurance, that she was sleeping much more
comfortably than usual.
He saw her several times the next day and the next: she seemed
feverish, and could not talk. His heart sank within him as he
watched the gradual failure of her strength, appetite, and interest
even in him. They were never left alone, and she seemed to care for
nothing; yet she was dressed daily, and laid on her couch, and
seemed none the worse for that slight exertion.
It was not till the fourth day that they were left alone together. Elinor had been more than usually lethargic during the morning, but
she no sooner saw the door shut on her aunt and maid than she
seemed to revive. She was lying on her couch, and asked him to sit
by her and hold her in his arms. She was so quiet that he fancied
she was asleep. She had nestled close to him, and while he supported
her hope grew strong within him; she was at length left to his
influence: he thought he could soothe her. Now was an opportunity;
but while he hesitated to begin talking to her, she showed him
strongly the cause of her illness and the direction of her thoughts. She put her hand so gently upon his waistcoat pocket, that if he had
not been alive to her motive he would not have observed it. That was
not the right one. The thin fingers presently found the other, and
very softly drew something out, and opened it. There was a very long
silence. Elinor soothed herself with gazing at Allerton's picture. She seemed scarcely aware that he could see her. Tears began to fall
upon it, then she sobbed, but still neither of them said a word.
It was too evident to him now what was the matter. He felt himself
powerless, far more so than he really was. He drew her still nearer,
and entreated her not to weep. The sound of his voice seemed to
recall her to herself, and she asked him first, with a burst of
tears, why he had kept his trials so much to himself—why he had
concealed them from her, who loved him, or at least spoken so
lightly of them? and then, why had he never told her anything about
Mr. Allerton—never even mentioned his name.
It was bitterness to him to be compelled to admit that he had
nothing to tell—nothing whatever, but that he had wrung out of Hewly
that Allerton spoke of himself as active and doing duty, therefore
he must be in health wherever he was.
To his surprise, Elinor received this scanty intelligence with
lively gratitude. She did not want to see him,—she could do without
even knowing whether he still cared for her,—if he was safe and well
it was enough. She could live now, she could even be happy; but to
go on week after week not knowing whether some long illness or some
lingering death might have kept him away from Westport, was more
than she could bear.
She lay silent for a while with the miniature in her hand,—something
of the tranquillity of those endeared features seemed to pass to her
own heart, and the manly affection they expressed soothed her as if
the original had looked so at herself.
"I feel much better now—far stronger. I think it was hope that I
wanted," she said, "and some one to love me and comfort me as you
"My darling! what hope did you want, Elinor?"
"Not the hope of seeing him again. I wanted hope for him—hope that
he might be happy—even hope that he might forget me, if that would
make him happy."
Her fit of weeping, far from exhausting her, seemed to have brought
relief and tranquillity. She would not let her brother leave her,
but still retaining the little portrait, began tenderly to upbraid
him for having concealed the state of his health from her. She
confessed that she had written to Mrs. Dorothy when first he lost
his property, and from time to time had heard from her a full
account of all that had happened, and that he had endeavoured to
"We have each made a mistake, my sweet Elinor," said he; "we should
have done better to have trusted each other."
"Ah, yes! I have drooped for months for want of knowing the whole
truth respecting you and Mr. Allerton, and now you have endured a
much greater shock than if I had told you frankly how ill I was."
Her brother said nothing; he felt that in his earnest desire to
spare her he had inflicted a great deal. But though there was so
little that was cheering to be communicated, Elinor was surprisingly
the better for the conversation. She absolutely required
sympathy,—her brother could give it, and she revived like a watered
flower; it drew her thoughts in some degree from their aching pining
after the absent to have something present to love. The mere sound
of her brother's voice was healing to her—it calmed and comforted
her; and when he came each night to pray beside her, however
restless she might have been, she would drop away to sleep after it
like a weary child.
This quiet sleep, to which she had long been a stranger, did her
more good than medicines or restoratives. Each day she could sit up
longer, and though still a mere skeleton, she had already lost the
transparent whiteness which characterized her complexion when first
her brother saw her. In the full confidence of being understood, she
unburdened her mind of all the tormenting thoughts which had
oppressed her nearly to death, and received from him an assurance
that he would never conceal any of his trials from her again.
"And has nothing happened," she went on, recurring to the old
theme,—"has nothing happened to give you the slightest clue to Mr. Allerton's feeling?"
Her brother sighed; he scarcely knew what to do for the best. It was
evident she could not forget; then, perhaps, it was better she
should think favourably of his friend.
"I can scarcely think anything has happened, Elinor," he replied;
"and yet, if you would not lay too much stress upon it, I would tell
you something which I fancied might be of his doing. Do not lay too
much stress upon it, my dear; it is but a trifle, and I fear lest
the relation of it should make you fancy me more to be pitied than I
really am. You know, Elinor, all our circumstances are of God's
appointment; 'He setteth up one, and putteth down another.' Things
are changed with me, but that is no matter. You remember those two
little cabinet pictures which used to hang in my dressing-room,—
"O yes, perfectly."
"And you know that all my pictures were put up for sale, Elinor?"
"All your pictures! What, the good ones,—even our old family
"All, my dear. Well, these two little ones would not sell for
anything like their value, so they were withdrawn, and I sent them
to London to a picture dealer. I heard nothing of them for some
time. They were great favourites with Allerton, but he used to
object to the frames; he said they were not deep enough, and I had
promised that I would shortly have them altered. Just before
Christmas, word was sent me that they were sold, and I paid the last
of my bills with the money. The night before I came here I found a
box at my lodgings, directed to me; on unpacking, I beheld my
favourite pictures, in just such frames as Allerton had described. There was no note,—nothing but the direction for me to examine, the
writing of which was not like his; it was disguised. I tore the card
off; the name on the other side was carefully inked over."
"And why, then, do you think they came from Mr. Allerton?" asked
Elinor. "Let me hear all you know. What a pleasure it would be to me
if I could think so too! It would be a proof that he still thought
Her brother was surprised at the eagerness with which she caught at
this slight hope, but he went on to tell her all he had reasoned out
on the subject. "If any of my friends at Westport," he said, "had
wished to give me some favourite possession out of my old house,
they would not have thought of waiting so many months: and would
they have chosen the only things which were sent away to be disposed
of? Besides, I do not remember telling to anyone Allerton's fancy
for these two pictures, nor the kind of frames he wished them to
"I know the kind you mean; he had several prints so framed. They
were invented by a man whom he used to patronize."
"Yes; so that, on the whole, I feel quite inclined to think they
came from him."
Elinor fully believed it, and this shadow of a hope that he still
retained a friendly feeling for her brother was enough for her
imaginative mind to work upon. She might see him again, at least she
might hear of him; there was no such quarrel between them that it
was impossible they could ever be reconciled,—no estrangement which
time and change might not remove.
Elinor felt and acknowledged herself better. Her brother's visit had
been just in time. She was sinking under the double anxiety of
ignorance respecting Allerton, and certainty that he himself was
concealing his real state from her.
He stayed with her a week, and though she had several relapses, she
was so much improved that her physician said he might now leave her
with safety. After their first conversation, they had many others. Elinor did not let her brother leave her till he had promised her
that, as soon as she was well enough, she should come and visit him
in his lodgings; but first she was to go to the seaside, and as her
recovery was slow, it would be some time before this could be
Elinor bore the parting tolerably well, both from him and the
picture. He thought it would be a cruel kindness to leave it with
her, and as he did not offer it, she would not ask it.
She was far more hopeful than he was about herself; and when he had
prayed with her, and commended her to God, she smiled, as he bent
over her to kiss her, and said cheerfully, "Good by, dearest, I
begin to be full of hope that we shall soon see happier days."
"If we can entirely acquiesce in the will of our heavenly Father, we
shall see happier days," he replied; "there is no peace like that
which arises from leaving all things in His hands, and saying,
'Undertake for us.'"
He left her feeling more easy, for he knew she would have every
luxury and comfort that money could supply,—every indulgence but
that of fellow feeling, and every luxury but that of being
He lamented this, but he could not remove her from her aunt, for he
had no house to offer her; and during the old lady's lifetime she
was entirely dependent upon her, though, by the terms of her
grandfather's will, she was to inherit a very sufficient fortune at
He had been away twelve days, and though he had written twice to
Hewly, he had received no answer. He therefore feared that he might
be ill, or that he might not have returned at the time expected. He
took leave of Elinor, intending to travel all night, but he thought
he must steal up stairs to look at her again. She was already
asleep, and looked calm and happy. He touched her hand, and she
moved slightly. He felt that he could now leave her with comfort;
and not much relishing his aunt's letters, he called her maid aside,
and giving her his address, desired her to write immediately, if
anything should be amiss. When a great and new anxiety starts
suddenly forward, it annihilates for the time those which had
previously existed. Elinor's illness had banished for the time all
his other difficulties; but now, as he journeyed homeward, they
gradually returned upon him, and resumed their old sway.
First, there was his anxiety about Wilfred. He thought him by far
too young, too full of spirits, and too careless to have been sent
out on such a mission, and get, in all probability, among thieves
and ruffians. Secondly, he had by some means to procure the
remaining £200, which in a few weeks must be paid in for the use of
the almshouses. Thirdly, there was Hewly's conduct, which was a
source of endless trouble and annoyance, the more so as for at least
another month he believed it was his duty to bear it. Fourthly, he
would fain have been able to return young Greyson the money he had
paid him, but there were other things to be done before that; it
was the least of his anxieties.
His eyes, as he drew near the scene of his labours, became clouded,
and his breast laden with these various depressing thoughts. He had
written to his landlady to say at what hour he expected to return,
but he did not expect any one to meet him; he was therefore
surprised to find her waiting for him at the station, as well as her
son,—a lad of fifteen,—and behind them Mr. What's-his-name Brown.
There was in the manner of this last a kind of contempt, as he
pushed the others back, seized the carpet-bag, and gave it to the
"Glad to see you, I'm sure, Sir," said his landlady, curtseying.
The bag was received with a humble, crest-fallen air, and the Rev.
Athanasius scowled at the obsequious landlady, as she rubbed her
hands and continued to curtsey.
"If you'll allow me, Mr. Dreux," he then said, with the slight air
of deference with which he generally addressed his brother
clergymen, "if it's not an intrusion, I shall be glad to walk home
They soon reached the house. Mr. Brown came in, and, with a good
deal of hesitation of manner, hoped he would not be offended, but
his landlady, when that morning he had called to return a book which
he had borrowed, had informed him that she never expected to see Mr. Dreux again, "which," she said, "is a great misfortune to me, Sir,
for Mr. Dreux owes me a bill of £3. 15s."
"I thought, Sir," continued Mr. Brown, in his usual voice, at once
discontented and deferential,—"I thought I would come with her to
meet you and tell you this. She said you were supposed not to have
any intention of returning. Now, Sir, you have evidently some enemy,
for she never could have taken such a wild fancy into her head of
her own accord. In fact,—I hope you will excuse my mentioning
it,—but I found her with some silver forks and spoons, which, she
said, you had in common use. She was going to take them to a
silversmith, to ascertain whether they were worth the money."
Mr. Dreux felt excessively shocked and annoyed.
"I hope my having returned at the time I appointed will be supposed
sufficient to exonerate me from this charge," he remarked, with a
slightly bitter smile. "My credit in Westport must have sunk low
indeed if any person here can think I went away to avoid paying my
Mr. Brown did not make any answer; and having fulfilled what he
considered a painful duty, was glad to take his leave.
Mr. Dreux thanked him, and, as soon as he was out of the house, rang
the hell for his landlady, who presently appeared, looking rather
frightened. He desired her to bring her bill, which she did at once,
and he paid it out of some money that he had about him.
He did not think proper to ask any questions, and she left the room
with many professions of sorrow, previously laying on the table a
note in Hewly's handwriting, which he opened hastily, and read with
no little wonder, not to say alarm. One remark of the good woman's
rang unpleasantly in his ears as he went on: "She was sure she hoped
he would not be offended, for she should never have believed the
report if she hadn't heard it from them that ought to know."
The note began with several expressions of esteem, which,
considering the source from which they came, were equally novel and
alarming. The writer had heard with sorrow and amazement certain
hints which he could not believe, and ought not to believe, of a man
who had hitherto stood so high in public opinion; and to quiet the
popular clamour against him, which, during his absence, it had
grieved him (Hewly) to hear, the said Mr. Hewly had thought it best,
in Christian kindness, to take vigorous measures; and as he had no
doubt of the perfect uprightness and honour of Mr. Dreux, he could
not suppose that he was unprepared to meet the claims of the
almshouse against him. He had no doubt, though Mr. D. had left the
town suddenly, without explaining anything, that the money on which
these agèd people depended for their maintenance was ready, and that
Mr. D. would not fail to produce it, and save them from beggary or
the workhouse. Accordingly he (the said Hewly), as a proof of his
friendship, had paid the money out of his own pocket (which was a
little slip of the pen, for Mr. Ferguson had lent it him to make
some alterations with in the vicarage previous to his marriage), to
his curate's account, and hoped, that as soon as possible after his
return, he would call on him and arrange matters, for it was an
inconvenience to a man in his circumstances to lend the money, and
it was only to save the character of a brother clergyman that he had
done so, &c, &c.
As a foe, though a covert one, the curate was not afraid of his
vicar, but he shrank from him with something like dread as he now
saw him in the character of a false friend.
It wanted a fortnight to the time for producing this money. Why,
then, had Hewly been so hasty in producing it, unless to get him
into his power? And as to popular clamour, what could he mean by
that and all the other insinuations contained in this abominable
He hurried on his hat and coat, and went straight to the Vicarage. He was a good deal excited, otherwise he might have observed, that
though Hewly attempted to assume a tone of patronage, he looked pale
and nervous. But he contrived to check much outward expression of
these feelings, and perceiving that for once his curate was both
angry and agitated, he felt his advantage; and bringing up the
subject of his note, he again hinted, with a kind of offensive
mildness, that it had been a great inconvenience to him to advance
"I am sorry for it," replied his curate, with some heat; "it is also
a great inconvenience to me."
"What!" exclaimed Hewly, "you are sorry?— sorry? Do you mean to say
you wish things had been suffered to take their course?"
"Most certainly I do," was the reply; "I should have been glad to
have been allowed to manage my own affairs myself."
"You will please to understand," replied Mr. Hewly, trying not to be
afraid of his curate's rising anger,—"you will please to
understand, Sir, that, however unfortunately for me, this is, in
fact, partly my own affair. I advanced the money, because, to have
such things said of my curate, Sir, reflects, in some degree, upon
me." ("Now for it," he thought. "Oh, do get into a passion!—you're
near it, I can see. Fire up, and I have you.")
"Such things'." repeated his curate, in a voice of thunder. "What
things do you mean, Sir?"
Hewly felt a little nervous tremor; but he paused before he
answered, and assumed an air of pious regret; he also put his hand
to his head, as if it ached.
His curate repeated, passionately, "What things?"
("Now you'll do," thought Hewly; "I dare say the rest to you now. But when I've got you into a rage I hope I shan't turn coward.")
"What things?" he again repeated, lifting his sinister black eyes to
his curate's face, and speaking with peculiar mildness, "they are
things that do you no credit, Sir. It is said that you cannot pay
"I have heard that. What else?"
("I wish you would take your eyes off my face," thought Hewly. "And
you're recovering your temper, worse luck!") He folded his arms, and
tried to meet his curate's steady gaze. ("I'll make you wince
before I've done, grand as you look. You shall not tower over me for
nothing, with your birth, and your eloquence, and your beauty. I
like to excite you,—I like to see your eyes flash. Now he's worked
up enough. Slowly and steadily,—I'll have him.")
"If you must know, Sir, it has been whispered in this place, that if
you had not known where the schoolmaster, Thomas Dickson, was gone,
you would probably have taken some pains to ascertain it."
An eager movement of astonishment and indignation was all the answer
he got for more than a minute,—a wretched minute, he thought,—during
which his curate never released him from his penetrating gaze.
"If there is such a report current, Mr. Hewly," he then began.
"If" repeated the vicar, and began to quail, for he felt that he had
not mastered him after all.
"I said if, Sir—if there is such a report current, I know of but one
person who could have originated it."
"What do you mean by that, Sir," cried Hewly, now permitting himself
the relief of a little bluster. "Do you mean to make me accountable
for the reports that are rife respecting you? Is it my fault, if
when a man in debt goes off people say he will never return? Is it
my fault if people say you are in league with this villain and
"Enough,—I have heard enough," cried his curate, starting up. "Be
silent. I will not endure another word. If you could tamely listen
to calumnies so insulting as these, and never even contradict them,
they lie at your door as much as if you had yourself invented and
"That will do, Sir," replied the vicar, also rising. "I rejoice that
I can now without a breach of Christian forbearance dissolve the
bond between us. Our connexion is at an end. An unblemished
character, Sir, cannot be too highly valued; none can despise it
Stung by this insult, his curate darted a look at him which brought
the blood up even into his cheeks; but Hewly, though he felt a
tremor through his whole frame, was cool. Nothing but compassion for
the erring, and a mild reproval of his fault, was expressed in those
virtuous lineaments. But it pleased him to see by the flashing eyes
and quivering lips of his curate that he had him now sufficiently in
his power to excite him to the utmost. Looking on, it was a balm to
his heart to estimate the violence of the struggle by which he kept
himself silent. He saw how indignation battled for the mastery, and
that his face was colourless even to the lips, before it could be
"And what on earth is he staying for?" thought the vicar; but though
a meek man, and, as he often said, desirous to forgive injuries, and
not to exhibit pride, he felt extremely small when at length his
victim rose, and with something of his own peculiar dignity, gave in
his resignation, and, appointing to call on him the next morning,
took his leave without deigning to notice his last remarks by a
What Mr. Dreux thought as he walked home is impossible to describe. People do not think very collectedly when they have been first
excited and then stunned. But why had Hewly been so hasty about this
money, and was it a preconcerted thing this forcing him to leave his
curacy? Was it true that such reports were believed respecting him?
and if so, did not Hewly want to make him leave the town before he
had had time to live them down and leave it in debt to his enemy,
who had his character at his mercy. The bank at that hour was
closed, but he determined at once to pay back the money to Hewly. He
could borrow it, and must pay the interest as best he could; but
then he must leave Westport. There was no curacy vacant in the
place, and it seemed plain that his usefulness there was over, and
his influence also.
It was getting dark, and he felt with poignant regret that perhaps
the dusk sheltered him from insult—at any rate from the suspicious
looks of those whom he might meet.
That he individually should have been despised he thought might
easily have been borne, but it was hard to suffer patiently the
certainty that every thing he had ever taught, all he had laboured
for, would suffer and go down with him. This crowning fear sunk his
agitated spirits. Tired as he was he turned away from his lodgings,
and sought the square of grass before mentioned as belonging to the
almshouses, where in the gathering darkness he walked backwards and
forwards, praying for direction in these new and overwhelming
LIGHT BREAKS THROUGH THE CLOUD.
HEWLY sat at ease in his
study, and sipped a cup of tea, while his late curate walked wearily
up and down the square of grass under the black rocking trees.
It was a wild, windy evening in March; the rain fell in half-frozen
drops; the soaked grass did not rise after the foot had pressed it;
the limes groaned and creaked like old fretful people; the gusty
wind turned his umbrella, and he began to feel faint with fatigue
and hunger, but no light seemed to dawn upon his path for all this
thinking; and as he turned at last towards his lodgings he felt the
necessity for quiet, warmth, and food, though the unsubdued
restlessness of excitement craved bodily exercise still as a means
of keeping it under.
He looked up to the window of his little lodgings; there he
thought he could have quiet for the evening, to rest and consider
what was to be done. He perceived the bright flickering of a
fire within and the movement of a figure. He entered the house
and walked slowly up stairs. Someone in his room was blowing
his fire with a pair of bellows and singing most cheerfully.
He entered, and the singer turned and disclosed the features of
"Hurrah!" cried that young gentleman, rushing up to him, and
flourishing the bellows. "Here I am at last—a hero returned
from his first campaign. But how dreadfully tired you look,"
he added, seeing his faint smile and worn appearance. "I hope
Miss Dreux is no worse. I beg your pardon, I ought to have
"No, go on talking," replied his host. "I am indeed
glad to see you again. I had begun to be quite uneasy about
you. My sister is daily improving." This was in answer
to young Greyson's inquiring expression.
"What is the matter, then?" asked the pupil.
"Let me forget it for a while. I cannot talk just now.
I am worn out, body and mind. Do stay with me this evening.
I do not think I can give you a lesson, but nothing would do me so
much good as to hear your adventures."
Wilfred agreed, and immediately began to excite a great
bustle. He piled the sofa cushions into one corner; insisted
that his host should sit down; took away his overcoat; then he drew
the curtains; made a cheerful blaze; called out at the top of the
stairs for tea and candles; came back again; cleared the table; set
the egg-glass, and boiled two eggs. The kettle and tea-things
having by this time made their appearance, together with the little
black teapot, he made tea, brought a tiny table to the sofa, and set
a round of buttered toast, two eggs, and a cup of tea upon it.
"There," he exclaimed, delighted to see that his presence and
his bustling had already wrought a wonderful improvement, "who cares
for Hewly? I don't. Let him come in here if he
likes, and I'll tell him so to his face."
"What made you think of Hewly?" asked Mr. Dreux.
"I am too hungry to tell you just now," was the reply.
"Because we have come to a final rupture," remarked Mr.
Dreux, with the composure of complete weariness. "I am no
longer his curate. He has aspersed my character, and he
refuses to retract. And, moreover, he has taken upon himself
to advance the remaining £200 during my absence, and he demands
immediate payment. I thought things had reached a climax when
I came in just now, but your cheerfulness and this bright fire which
you have made, and this rest make me feel quite different again.
Well, you seem in very good spirits after your unsuccessful
"Unsuccessful!" repeated Wilfred. "Ah, well, never
mind. I wish you would begin to eat. I must put some more
water in the teapot and boil some eggs. Hewly"—
"Don't let us talk of him," interrupted Mr. Dreux; "I am
afraid of speaking uncharitably. With regard to the success of
your expedition,—of course I know that you would have told me at
once if you had met with any."
"We certainly set off on the most wild-goose chase that ever
was heard of," replied young Greyson, cracking his second egg.
"But, never mind; after tea I will tell you everything." As he
spoke he produced from his pocket a small parcel, and, remarking
that he always thought eggs were the better for a little
cayenne-pepper, unfolded a pepperbox, the very counterpart of Mrs.
Brown's mustard pot, and set it down on the little table.
Mr. Dreux took it up, and gazed at Greyson in considerable
bewilderment. "Do you mean to say you have really and actually
recovered the plate?" he asked, turning round the little article
with intense interest.
"Not exactly. Didn't I go on purpose to recover the
plate? Why, then, should you be so much astonished at my
bringing some of it?"
"I never had the slightest idea that you would bring any of
it back; I never entertained so wild an expectation for an instant.
That you might return without getting yourself into any serious
scrape was the utmost I hoped for."
Greyson laughed triumphantly, and declared that after tea he
would explain all. Mr. Dreux sat quietly in his nook on the
sofa, noting his face; he began to think he must have some good news
to communicate, especially as he would burst into a short
involuntary laugh whenever he caught his eye, and became suddenly
grave again, declaring that it was no laughing matter.
At last he gave out that he had finished, rang the bell,
snuffed the candles, put on two large pieces of coal, swept up the
hearth, and ensconced himself in an arm-chair, with the poker in his
hand and his feet on the fender.
The landlady had cleared away tea, shut the door, and Mr.
Dreux had looked at him for some time before he evinced any
inclination to begin; his face had become serious, not to say sad,
and he seemed lost in thought. When he did speak, it was not
at all to the purpose; he seemed still far from the matter in hand.
"So Hewly has insulted you," he said. "Well, the worse
"My dear Greyson, pray let us drop the subject of Hewly,"
urged Mr. Dreux. "You seem anything but aware how completely I
am in his power."
"Completely in his power," repeated Greyson, in a musing
tone, and then sunk into another silence, which Mr. Dreux broke by
inquiring whether he meant to tell him anything at all that night.
On hearing this, young Greyson roused himself, and, turning
his ingenuous face towards him, said, "I only paused because I
scarcely knew where to begin. I have a great deal to tell you,
but I was thinking, just then, how many changes there are in
people's lives, and how sudden they are. When you came in this
evening you were miserable,—I know you were; before the end of it
you will be so glad."
"Go on," said his auditor, "I cannot understand you; but I
fully believe what you say."
"Then, if I am to tell you, you will promise not to interrupt
me with questions?—you will hear me to the end?"
"I will do my best," was the answer, while the listener
changed his position and stretched all his faculties to discover
what this might mean.
Wilfred settled himself in the chair, and launched at once
into his narrative: "The only real clue I had when I left this was
given me by your landlady, who described to me most accurately the
trunk in which the lodger carried away his goods; it was covered
with calf-skin, she said, with the hair on, and it did not look as
if it had been made by a regular trunk-maker, for it was shaped like
a coffin. She also described the lodger's person; that he was
a small, spare, dark man, with black eyes; that he had lost the
third finger of his right hand, and that he went away from hence by
the Birmingham Railway.
"Frank and I set off accordingly for Birmingham, with a
policeman from here. And we and the police at Birmingham
searched in all the places where they bought old silver, to see if
we could identify anything. We inquired at the railway offices
whether they had seen anything of such a trunk, but it was of no
use,—of course they could remember nothing. At last we were
told that a person of the description we wanted had gone off to
London two days before. "We followed, not that we distinctly
hoped to find him, but there was a curious kind of pleasure in the
excitement of the chase. To describe the dens we went into
with the police and the characters we met with, would, I suppose,
surprise even you. I should think there are no such places
anywhere but in London. We spent nearly a week of fatigue;
sometimes the police thought they had got a clue, and then they lost
it again. At last we got a summons to return to Birmingham,
for they thought they had discovered the traces of a gang of
thieves, some of whom they suspected were coiners. They
contrived to elude the police, but it was believed they were still
in the town, and we were advised by the magistrates to put an
advertisement in the papers, stating that some weeks ago a robbery
had been committed at Westport, and describing the stolen goods,
stating that it was supposed the thief was concealed in Birmingham.
They told us this was sure to be seen by the thieves, and that they
would not dare to remain in the town, but would most likely try to
get out by night.
"Well, we had several weary nights, haunting the railway
stations, but though two men were taken up and proved to belong to
this gang of coiners, neither of them at all resembled the lodger.
After this we went about in all directions, wherever they told us
there were people suspected of coining. We got into gipsy
camps; we searched the prisons. We were both getting heartily
weary of the affair. We knew we had no chance; the police had
told us so; for no man in his senses would keep plate about him when
it could so easily be melted down, and that, once done, no acuteness
could identify it.
"Well, we decided to come home, and were within an hour of
setting off. We had actually gone to York, where, we were
told, a man had been taken up with plate in his possession. It
all came to nothing. We had left the hotel and reached the
railway station, when a waiter came running after us with a
letter,—it was from Marion. I had written to her the day
before, and given her my address. She wrote to enclose a
letter which had arrived for me at Swanstead, and to say that my
Uncle Raeburn had got another, and desired that I would come to him
immediately, for that it would be very little out of my way in going
back to Birmingham."
"Back to Birmingham," said Mr. Dreux, "what was that for?"
"I could not tell till I had read the enclosed letter; it had
been written at Swanstead, and stated that the writer was lodging
there; that he had sent it to the parson to be directed to me; that
he came from a poor dying wretch in Birmingham, who could tell me
what I wanted to know, provided I would promise secrecy; that the
writer would go with me to Birmingham, if I would go with such a
person, or the parson might go instead. Of course Frank and I
started off at once for Swanstead. It was a most bitter night.
We had to do part of the journey by coach; and the consequence was,
we were not there till twelve the next day.
"Marion met us at the cross-roads in the carriage. She
told me my uncle had waited for me till ten, the last minute, and
then, as I did not arrive, had gone on himself to Birmingham.
"She knew I was in search of stolen property, and told me the
informant had urged my uncle to go immediately, or he feared the man
would not live till he reached him.
"Unluckily, that morning he had disappeared from the village,
taken fright probably. So my uncle was left to find out the
whereabouts in Birmingham this sick man might be, as well as he
"Frank was so knocked up, and so ill with influenza, that as
we were within five miles of his father's house, I advised his going
home; we put him into the carriage at once; Marion came with me into
the inn, and as the country was so blocked up with snow, I told
Frank not to attempt to send back the carriage that night, but to
keep it at his father's.
"After I had had a hasty meal, it was time to start for the
railway; but when we came to investigate matters, there was only one
post chaise to be had. Of course I did not like to leave
Marion there alone, and I could not send her home without a chaise.
So, after less than five minutes' deliberation, we agreed that she
should come on with me to Birmingham."
"What, on that bitter day, and with no preparation!"
"Don't look so shocked. What could I do? She was
excessively uneasy about my uncle, and did not like the idea of his
going into such places as the man had described; she was well
covered up with furs and velvets, and seemed quite relieved at being
with me; but though we had only fourteen miles to go, the snow was
so deep that we were three hours on the road.
"It was lucky indeed that she came, for at the station I
discovered that Frank had got our purse with him, such a careless
trick of us both! Marion had money, only one sovereign and a
few shillings, with her. So I was obliged to take her in the
second class; very cold the carriage was, and very dark for her;
there was an oil lamp, by the bye, but it wouldn't burn; we had just
enough money for the tickets. Marion made light of the cold
and everything else. I know she was delighted at the thought
of getting to my uncle, just as if she could do any good, you know!
or keep him out of mischief. She was quite warm and happy; so
she said. It was sixty miles to Birmingham; and of all the
cold I ever experienced, I recollect nothing to compare to that
night; it soon silenced us; the speed of the engine was very much
impeded by the snow, and I began to be afraid we should be very
late. I was so tired with travelling, that I kept falling
asleep, in spite of the cold. We were quite alone, and Marion
asked me to sit upon the floor, with my carpet-bag for a hassock,
and lay my head on her knee. I had her muff for a pillow, and
was dreaming away at a great rate, when a tremendous jerk woke me;
it was quite dark; we seemed tilted over. I was on my knees,
Marion was holding my head between her hands, and wrapping her furs
round it, never thinking of herself. I had not an instant to
ask what the matter was, when, with an awful creaking crash, the
carriage turned over on its side. Marion cried out, but kept
my head still, and held me tight. Don't be alarmed, she was
not hurt, not in the least. I perceived instantly that we had
stopped. Marion was perfectly still. I heard distant
cries and groans; the snow gave us a little light, and I contrived
to get the upper window open and drag Marion through to the roof,
from which we scrambled somehow down to the ground, and found that
four carriages, with ours, and a coal platform had broken away from
the rest; the train had run off the line, and stopped half the field
from us. There were four houses in the field; some of the
inhabitants were already out, they seized us with frantic haste and
hurried us indoors. It snowed so fast that we could not see
the state of the train; but in our carriages not one person was much
hurt; no bones were broken.
"Though the thing was so alarming and strange, I could hardly
help laughing at the behaviour of these people; they crowded about
Marion and the other females, and the women kissed and hugged them;
oh, it was so droll! They were not exactly poor people, for
they soon produced eatables and drinkables in abundance; and there
was such a frying of bacon, drawing of beer, and toasting of cheese!
they seemed to think we must all be famished.
"A great motherly woman stood over Marion, turning up her
sleeves to see if her arms were bruised; she warmed her at the fire,
and tried to bend her bonnet into something like shape. Marion
behaved pretty well; she cried a little, of course; the woman wanted
to make her eat, but she could not. She looked blue and almost
frozen. In the meantime some men came in from the train; most
providentially, not one life was lost. A pen of sheep had been
overturned, and most of them killed; and a high bank stopped the
engine before any further mischief was done.
"They said there was a farm about half a mile off, where we
could get a gig; we were only ten miles from Birmingham. I
wished to stay the night, that Marion might rest and recover from
her fright a little; but she thought of my uncle,—she was sure he
would expect me by this train, and hear of the accident by telegraph
before we could arrive. I agreed to go on. I had not a
shilling, but I said I should drive the gig back myself the next
day. Not a word was said about payment; the women wrapped
Marion in a rough, thick shawl, and we set out. Women seldom
think of themselves in these cases: Marion braved the east wind and
the snow extremely well. It was a good thing they lent her
that shawl, else I think she would have been nearly frozen. It
seemed a very long ten miles, however we reached Birmingham at last.
I drove straight to the station, and, as I expected, there stood Mr.
Raeburn waiting for me; for he had got news of the accident, and was
anxiously hoping I might not be coming till the next train. I
flourished the whip and called out to him;—how relieved he seemed
when he saw me! but when he beheld Marion sitting beside me, I shall
never forget his face—yours is nothing to it. How hard you are
upon me, I couldn't help it."
"No, I am quite aware of that, my dear fellow."
"Then don't look so uneasy, I told you she was none the
worse. Well, he took us to the hotel. It was midnight.
He shook the snow from us, hugged us both, and cried in the corner
while we ate a most excellent supper, for I can tell you we both did
that. After that Marion began to cry. Here I made a
speech to prove that I had done the best I could, and she said it
was all her doing, coming in that way, and she hoped he would not be
angry. Well, then we all went to bed.
"I know I'm spoiling this story in the telling, anybody else
would have made a capital thing of it! Well, the next day my
uncle told me the history of his search for the supposed poor dying
man, which was in fact the history of his defeat. He had had a
toilsome day, and no likelihood of accomplishing anything. The
only thing he had to guide him was, that this man was said to have
been very much injured in a fire, and that he was lying in a
lodging-house. He had been to numbers of lodging-houses, and
had seen a great deal of misery. He had only asked for the
sick inmates; at some they had none, at others he went in and saw
the sick, but perceived at once that they did not answer the
description he wanted. They saw that he was a clergyman, and
took for granted he came to visit them as such; so he did not choose
to leave them without reading and praying with them.
"After breakfast it snowed heavily, but we went out together,
leaving Marion, who was only a little tired, lying on the sofa by
"We went to all kinds of places without the least success,
and came in after twelve o'clock, quite tired. Marion then
told us that an hour ago a woman had called and begged to speak with
the clergyman who was staying there, that the waiter had at first
refused to come up with her request, but she was so urgent that at
last he did, 'and as you were not within,' Marion said to my uncle,
'I went down to speak to her. She told me she came from a
woman whom the parson had visited the day before, that she wanted to
see him again to pray with her, and hoped he would come for the love
of God. The woman said the poor creature could not live
through the night, and had begged so earnestly to see the parson
again, that she had agreed to bring this message. I told her
that when you returned you should hear of it, and that I had no
doubt you would come and see her. She then went away, thanking
me most gratefully.'
"Marion gave us the address, and my uncle set off directly,
for he said he could at least visit the sick, though his first
object in coming was thwarted. I thought I should like to go
with him. The lodging-house was not far off,—we easily found
it, and there was a person outside evidently waiting for us.
She begged my uncle would go directly to the dying woman, for she
quite raved after him. He would not let me go up stairs with
him, and while I sat below, doing nothing, I asked the woman if she
had any other sick lodgers.
"She looked rather queerly at me, but after a cautious pause,
during which she seemed to be scrutinizing my appearance, she said,
'Yes, she had, but he was a poor wretched object, not fit for a
gentleman like me to see.' But I got up at once, and said I
should like to see him, if she had no objection.
"So she took me out of doors into a broken-down open shop,
and up a ladder, into the most wretched, dirty loft I ever beheld,
with a hole in the roof, through which the snow was drifting on to
the floor, and there, his face disfigured with patches of linen,
lay, covered with rags, and feeble and stretched upon straw, not the
man I had come to seek, but the schoolmaster, Thomas Dickson!"
He paused here, and remained silent several moments.
His auditor was too much surprised to say anything. He went
on, fixing his eyes on the fire, and speaking in a deeply thoughtful
"I have been too happy in the world. I have not
sufficiently considered the misery there is in it; and when I have
thought of crime it has been too distinct from its fearful
punishment even in this world. One side of his face was
dreadfully burnt, his limbs were maimed, he seemed wasted to a
shadow, and had nothing but a can of water standing by his straw.
"The woman left me with him, and as he could not turn, it was
only when I came close that he recognised me.
"He did not seem startled or ashamed,—he was past that; he
only said, in a hollow voice, 'You have been a long time coming,
Sir; I was afraid you would be too late.'
"I asked him if it was he who had sent for me. He said
it was,—that he wished to make what reparation he could before he
"And then he told me a long story of all his guilt and
misery. I cannot tell you the whole of it to-night, but it
seemed to make me older as I listened, and I shall never forget the
wretchedness it unfolded to my dying day.
"What he told me was in substance this: that he did
steal that money, intending to carry it off, and go abroad—that he
had an accomplice, a man more wicked than himself—that this man was
the lodger—that after he had committed the robbery this man
harboured him here, in this house, for the night—that he went early
in the morning to a lonely place with him, for as he had threatened
to betray him, there was nothing for him but to divide the spoil
"In the grey morning twilight they went down into that open
gravel pit on the London road to effect the division, and there the
lodger proved the falsehood of that proverb that there is 'honour
among thieves,' for he knocked Thomas Dickson down, and while he lay
stunned and bleeding, he robbed him of the whole of the money, took
his coat and watch from him, and when he recovered his senses, was
nowhere to be seen.
"He was now miserable and destitute—all the fruits of his
wickedness had been taken from him—he could not return to his
situation. His character being gone, he told me he did not
care what became of him, but went to Birmingham, where he got
connected with a gang of coiners, and soon sunk into the deepest
destitution and misery. At last, one day he met his former
companion in the streets, and instantly threatened to give him up to
the police if he tried to get away from him.
"The lodger, finding himself powerless, suffered himself to
be followed to a stable, where he slept. He then declared that
the notes he had stolen were worse than valueless to him, for their
numbers were posted up at all the banks, so that he dare not attempt
to change them, but that if Dickson would help him to dispose of a
quantity of old silver which he had on his hands, they would make up
their quarrel, and do the best they could for each other.
"Dickson told me that that night they set to work to knock
the diamonds and pearls out of the old boxes and quaint old models
of monuments. They collected them in a little leather bag, and
then broke up some of the silver and melted it down. His heart
smote him, for he saw whose they were, but he dared not remonstrate.
They worked hard, and in two nights they had melted nearly all the
plate, or crushed and defaced it.
"The next day, he says, the lodger met me and Frank in the
street, recognised us, and found means to ascertain our errand.
He came back, and that night they together buried the notes, the
jewels, and the remainder of the silver,—for some they had contrived
to sell. They came home in the middle of the night, and laid
down in the straw of their stable. They had struck a light,
and he supposes a spark fell and smouldered among the boards, for
shortly they were roused by a great light. They had made the
door so secure that they could not undo it in a hurry. The
lodger climbed out at one window, but before Dickson could rush to
the other, a heap of straw took fire, and he was bathed in the
flames. To use his own fearful expression, he crawled out of
that stable blind and 'half roasted.'
"He told me that the lodger was unhurt, and that he conveyed
him to that wretched house where I found him—that two days after he
was taken up for breaking into some outhouse. The sessions
were just at hand, and he was tried and sentenced to seven years'
"But when this poor, miserable Dickson found that he never
could recover from his injuries, he wished to restore as much as he
could of the stolen property, that, as he told me, he might not die
with that sin on his conscience.
"When I looked at the poor dying creature, lying on that
wretched bed, the snow drifting in about him, and nothing but some
cold water to wet his parched lips, and when I reflected on all he
had lost, and what he had got in return, I thought how true it was
that 'the wages of sin are hard.'"
When Wilfred added that he had expressed a hope that his late
patron would forgive him, and had said that without that he could
not die in peace, Mr. Dreux started up, and declared that he would
go himself to Birmingham, rather than Dickson should not be
Wilfred did not wish that evening to damp his spirits by
telling him that a few hours after that confession the poor man had
died. "Sit down," he said, "I have not done yet. He told
me, as well as his weakness would permit, the place where they had
buried their spoil; it was in a barren field close to the railway;
there, he said, we should see two poplar-trees, and we must walk,
coming from the town, until the one trunk was hidden behind the
other; that fifty paces from the nearest tree we should find the box
in which they had buried the silver, and a tin case containing the
notes, not one of which they had been able to change, so, as he had
drawn only £25 from the bank in gold, there was only that sum
deficient. That very evening Mr. Raeburn and I, with a
policeman, went to the spot, and two feet below the surface we found
the box, and the tin case within it. The whole thing seemed so
unlikely, so unreal, that I felt as if it must needs be a dream, I
had so completely given up all idea that the original £400 would
ever be recovered; however, here it is, as good as ever, and I wish
It would be impossible to describe the gratitude with which
the pile of notes was received. Here was a most unexpected
relief from the pressure of real pecuniary difficulty. Mr. Dreux, a
few months before, could scarcely have credited that any amount of
worldly possessions would have caused him such heartfelt joy and
ease of mind. Now he looked upon the recovered money with a
joy beyond what even his pupil could have hoped. He counted
out £175, and handed over the rest to young Greyson.
"This two hundred is yours," he said.
"Mine," repeated young Greyson, "what do you mean?"
Mr. Dreux replied by thanking him, in the most grateful and
affectionate terms, for what he had done, told him how relieved he
felt on the very next morning to be able to pay Hewly what he had
advanced; and then, reminding him that the plate was ruined, and
most of the jewels gone, entreated that he would not pain him by
refusing to take the money back again.
"I never tried to lay you under the slightest
obligation," replied his pupil; "then why should you try to do it to
"Never laid me under the slightest obligation!" exclaimed Mr.
Dreux. "You astonish me beyond measure! I am more
indebted to you than to any person living. What can you mean,
"Oh, I meant pecuniary obligation; if you like to feel
obliged to me for finding out where this money was, I do not mind.
On the whole, though, I must say I rather enjoyed most of my
"Well, I see it is of no use talking to you; your notions of
what constitutes obligation are, above all things in the world,
Greyson laughed, and said, "I was perfectly aware that you
would try to cheat me into taking that money, so I propose that we
lay the whole matter before an umpire, to be approved by both
parties, and that we promise to abide by his decision."
Mr. Dreux agreed, and Greyson then began to question him
about Hewly's conduct, especially as regarded his hints to the
almshouse pensioners. If his host had not been unusually
pleased, and tired withal, he might have observed a peculiar bearing
in these questions, which revealed something more than common
curiosity. As it was, he stretched his long limbs on the sofa,
told everything his pupil chose to ask, and, too much occupied with
his returning good fortune to see anything strange in the request,
acceded at once, when Greyson asked if he might go with him the next
day when he paid over the £200 to Hewly.
"Certainly you shall, always provided that you will promise
not to be rude to Hewly."
"Rude!" repeated Wilfred, as if quite shocked, "I should not
think of being so mean."
"You were not rude, then, the other night, when he
"Oh, well, I was rather, but I never meant to be again.
What an ass he was to be rude to you to-day!"
"I suppose the diamond ring is gone?"
"That is the best part of the story. They had pawned it
for a mere trifle,—not a sovereign; only imagine their ignorance.
We may yet recover it; but when we went to the pawn-shop, of course
it was not to be found."
"Have you got the silver?"
"No, it was all nothing but a mass of ore, excepting that
pepper-box and a little model, not so big as a snuff-box, of your
dear ancestor, Sir Gualtier de Dreux,—his tomb I mean,—and when
Marion saw it, she said she should like to have it."
"What did your sister want with it?"
"Oh, I don't know; do you?"
"How can you be so absurd? Of course not."
"I now remember Marion gave me some elaborate reasons why she
wished to have it; the original is in Swanstead church. I
think she wanted it, she said, because the real old fellow was
opposite our pew. I remember she was afraid to sit opposite
him when we were children, he looked so stern and so grim. She
also said it was an interesting little work of art, and several
other reasons she gave; I forget them. However, I gave the
thing to her. It's very odd how family likeness descends; he is
something like you, I declare."
"Nonsense; am I, then, so stern and grim that a child would
be afraid of me?"
"I can't tell how you would look in chain armour. I
asked Marion if she did not see the likeness."
"I wish, I do wish you would not talk in this strain,"
thought his auditor. "I am sure if you knew, you would be the
last person to do it."
"So you have nothing left but the pepper-box, Greyson?"
"Yes, I've got old Gualtier, after all. Marion altered
her mind, and wouldn't have him. He's the image of you,—she
may say what she likes to the contrary. Here he is."
"Your pockets are capacious. How bright he looks!"
remarked his descendant.
"Yes; we cleaned him up with plate-powder."
"Yes, Marion and I; we had nothing to do in the evening.
I think it's a beautiful thing,—a great pity little M. wouldn't have
it. I always thought that hound, crouching with its head on
his breast, and looking so earnestly in his master's face, had
something peculiarly touching about it. How well I remember
our asking Mr. Raeburn, when we were very little children, to lift
us up to stroke that dog, and feel how cold the knight's forehead
"Well, Greyson, shall we have supper?"
The pupil willingly consented. The tutor, at his
request, ordered oysters and bread and butter for that repast, that,
as he said, they might finish the evening in a convivial style
befitting the occasion.
"Now, about this umpire?" asked Mr. Dreux. "I have been
thinking, Greyson, that, if I may draw up the statement, you shall
choose to whom it shall be submitted."
"Agreed. And I name Mr. Raeburn. Let us call
ourselves Smith and Jones,—I am Smith."
"Very well. Then the statement begins:—'I, Jones, sold
goods to Smith, for which I received £200."
"No; it begins before that. It begins:—'The sum of £400
was stolen from Jones; in consequence of which he sold goods to
Smith for which he received £200."
"Well, be it so, if you please. I will draw it up
to-night, and to-morrow, at ten, let us go to Hewly and pay down the
money. I shall be very happy, my dear fellow, to have it off
"I do not care how soon we go," returned Wilfred. "So
Hewly refuses to apologize, does he? Ah! well, we shall see."
Mr. Dreux smiled, and said, "You are very much mistaken if
you think the mere proof of his being wrong as to my ability to
return the money, will make him do so."
"I think no such thing," replied the pupil. "Good
night; I will be here by ten."
Punctual to the moment young Greyson arrived the next
morning, and found Mr. Dreux wonderfully improved by ease of mind
and rest. He had got a letter from Elinor's maid, reporting
good progress; and showed Wilfred the statement he had drawn up for
the umpire, which the latter thought very fair.
They arrived at Mr. Hewly's house, and were shown into his
study. He did not keep them waiting many minutes, and gave
Wilfred a peculiarly sinister look when he saw him, for he thought
he was come to try to accommodate matters.
He was obviously surprised when Mr. Dreux handed over the
notes, and the more so as he observed that the numbers were the same
as those of the stolen ones.
"My friend, Greyson, wishes to give you a short account of
how he became possessed of these notes," Mr. Dreux said, turning to
Wilfred, who now looked excited and ill at ease.
"As you please," returned Mr. Hewly, with his most unpleasant
expression. "Then perhaps he will make haste and begin, for my
time is precious."
"However precious it may be," replied Wilfred, "it will be as
well to spare enough to hear what I have to say. You have
heard nothing so important, Mr. Hewly, for a long time."
Dreux and Hewly both looked at him with unfeigned surprise;
the latter, with a supercilious smile, requested him to proceed.
"I am ready," said Wilfred. Yet he paused and
hesitated, with an embarrassment which was not usual with him, and
which fixed the attention of both gentlemen, who involuntarily
glanced at each other.
"I believe, Mr. Hewly," he at length said,—"I believe your
parents are not in the rank of life which you—you occupy yourself"—
"My parents," interrupted Hewly, "what do you bring up that
for, Sir? My father was as worthy a man as yours could have
"I have no doubt of it, Sir," proceeded Wilfred, in a tone of
apology; "and, in most families, some members rise and others sink."
"Well, Sir, to the point," said Hewly, testily; "I have heard
enough of my parentage."
Wilfred then began to give an account of how he had
discovered the poor, miserable schoolmaster, and repeated his
statements as to how he, in his turn, had been robbed by another
man, who afterwards, to complete his crimes, stole a quantity of
valuable plate from the house where he lodged.
"Indeed!" replied Mr. Hewly, indifferently, not to say
"That man, Sir, lodged in the same house with Mr. Dreux,"
remarked Wilfred. "It was then that he stole the plate."
Mr. Dreux, at this point of Greyson's narrative, observed
that Hewly turned very pale.
"He afterwards met with Thomas Dickson, the man whom he had
robbed of his ill-gotten gain, and the two together melted down a
great part of this plate, but the notes they dared not change.
This man, of whom I spoke, became connected with a gang of coiners,
and was suspected, while with them, of having committed murder; but
they pursued their own wretched system of morals, and did not give
him up to justice. In a few weeks he was taken by the police
in the act of forcing open a door; he was brought to trial,
convicted, and I saw him in jail. He sails for Australia this
Mr. Hewly's face had become deadly pale, and the cold
perspiration stood upon his forehead. The sinister expression
was then in greater force than ever, but with it enough of terror to
excite the pity of both his companions; and Greyson went on more
gravely than before.
"I saw the man in jail; he was hardened and profane. He
is a small, dark man, and he has lost the third finger of his right
"Merciful heaven!" said Hewly, faintly, and shrinking back in
"Do you wish to hear his name?" proceeded Greyson. "The
schoolmaster told me his real name; it was known in this part of the
country to him only. He died in whispering it to me; and he
told me that the wretched convict came of respectable and honest
parents, but that he had always shown himself a reprobate.
Hitherto I have divulged the name to no one. I returned to
this place intending to keep it a secret for ever, but I have
altered my mind, and must tell it now in the presence of Mr. Dreux.
This wretched man, who had been lingering about Westport, tormenting
you for money to bribe him away,—this double thief, whom suspected
murder has not brought to the gallows, because his house-breaking
was discovered first,—this coiner, and now convict, whose crime has
enabled you to—to—yes, I must and will say it—to oppress a better
man than yourself, cannot now be named even without
reflecting some of his disgrace upon yourself, for he is your
brother —Michael Hewly."
With a cry, between terror and pain, Mr. Hewly covered his
face with his hands. He had always shown a nervous sensibility
about his low origin, and a great dislike to having it known; and
now the disgrace of his brother, no less than some struggling
remains of natural affection, battled for the mastery, and made him
truly a spectacle for pity.
Mr. Dreux's consternation at this denouement was too
great to admit of his saying anything.
Greyson paused till Hewly removed his white, trembling hands
from his face, and looked forlornly at him. Then he proceeded: "I
hope you believe, Mr. Hewly, that I did not give you this pain with
any mean wish to revenge Mr. Dreux upon you, or merely to let him
see that all these difficulties have been brought upon him by a
member of your family, but I acknowledge that I have an end
"Greyson," interrupted Mr. Dreux, "I had rather—I wish you
not to bring me into this affair."
Greyson looked at him, but went on addressing Hewly:—
"You will please to observe that this man was tried under a
feigned name, and there is every reason to think no living persons
know his real one but myself and Mr. Dreux. I do not know what
use he may choose to make of his knowledge,—knowledge which I was
determined he, should possess, not that he was likely to revenge
himself, but that he might have full opportunity to do so if he
chose,—as for me, my silence is only to be bought in exchange for
something which I have already fixed in my own mind."
What Hewly might have done, or to what depths of submission
he might have condescended in the confusion of his thoughts, it is
impossible to say, if he had not been arrested by the voice of his
late curate, who said, deliberately: "Mr. Hewly, I give you my
unconditional promise that, God helping me, I will never divulge
what I have just heard to any living person."
He received a look in reply which expressed both shame and
gratitude. Then the unhappy man turned anxiously to Wilfred;
he was a mere boy to them, but they both looked at him with
something like entreaty, for Hewly felt as if everything worth
living for was at stake, and Dreux felt keenly that but for his sake
this punishment would never have been inflicted; he could not but
think there was something of unsparing hardness in the way in which
the thing had been done, and yet he knew that he ought not to
interfere, for nothing could be so galling to Hewly as that Wilfred
should promise silence at his request, which was what he
believed matters were tending to.
Greyson preserved a dogged silence for some minutes, in spite
of the restless agitation of Hewly. At length he said,—"Mr.
Hewly" (and he threw an accent almost of respect into his
voice)—"Mr. Hewly, in looking back upon our past intercourse, I find
that throughout I have not treated you as I could wish. I
regret it the more, because I can now make no difference on this
account in the conditions on which I will promise silence—utter,
complete silence. I shall only insist upon one
thing,—one which seems to me an absolute duty; and I most solemnly
promise silence on that condition, and on that only."
"Name your condition, then, at once," said Hewly; "there is
nothing I will not do—no, nothing."
"My condition is, that you shall make a written apology to
Mr. Dreux for the expressions you have used concerning him, which
apology shall be dictated by me, and shown to the people in the
The start of horror and indignation with which this proposal
was received did not seem in the least to disconcert Wilfred.
"Greyson," exclaimed Mr. Dreux, much agitated, "I do not
desire it. I beg as a favour to myself that you will dispense
with it. If Hewly will apologize to me in private I shall be
"If the people have not believed Mr. Hewly's
insinuations respecting you," remarked Wilfred, "his admitting them
to be false will not lower their opinion of him; but if they have
believed them, then it is necessary that you should be righted."
"But leave the thing to me, Greyson. Will you leave it
in my hands? Consider,—a written apology,—what man could"—
Hewly hoped. But he saw the pupil turn to the master,
and give him a look of such calm, steady denial, that the latter was
fain to bite his lips and look out of the window to hide his
surprise and annoyance. He then looked at Hewly, and said,
"Well, Sir, you have heard me."
"And I should be glad to know what I have done to make an
apology necessary," replied Hewly, with his most unpleasant
"I do not refer to what you have actually asserted," replied
Greyson; "but I went to the almshouses this morning, and I found a
very bad opinion prevailed there concerning Mr. Dreux,—one quite
derogatory to him as a clergyman and a gentleman. I was
referred to you to know whether he did not deserve it.
A slight hint, a gesture even, an insidious doubt, or an ill-timed
application of some common-place proverb, may be at the root of all
the preposterous tales now current respecting him, but I know the
mischief is done, and that you have been the doer."
"I will write an apology," said Hewly, looking daggers at his
late curate, who rose and walked to the window. "I must, I
suppose, as I am entirely at your mercy. But the injustice of
the thing must be glaringly apparent even to you, when the very man
who is to receive it admits that it is not required."
"No other man would," replied Greyson. "The apology
must be written, or I take my leave."
"You are in a needless hurry," said Hewly, hastily; "I have
said once that I would write an apology."
"You remember that it is to be at my dictation," said
Mr. Hewly actually writhed in his chair. But what was
the alternative? He took up a pen, and, with strong sensations
of shame and disgust, wrote down as follows:—
"I, Brigson Hewly, Vicar of this parish, hereby declare that I
believe the Rev. Arthur Cecil Dreux to be in all respects an upright
and honourable man; I also declare that I never had any reason to
think otherwise; and I hereby apologize to the said Rev. A. C. Dreux
for having given cause to others to suppose that I did.
(Signed) "Brigson Hewly."
"There," said Hewly, now giving way to his temper, and
tossing the paper over to Greyson, "I have paid dearer for your
paltry promise than it was worth. Now I shall be glad to have
"Certainly," replied Greyson. "I do hereby solemnly"―
"You will please to swear," said Hewly, drawing a Testament
"And now, gentlemen," said Hewly, rising, and quivering with
passion, "there is the door;—the sooner you go the better. Go,
and make the most of your mean-spirited revenge."
The sneer with which he accompanied these words was quite
Greyson folded up the piece of paper, and left the house with
Mr. Dreux. He did not wish for a tête-à-tête
conversation with him, and was thinking how best to break the
silence, and take his leave, when Dreux stopped him just as they
reached the garden-door of his late house, and holding out his hand,
by way of thanks, said,—
"But after all, Greyson, if you had failed to get that
"I would still have held my tongue. Was that what you
were going to ask? Of course I would."
"And what are you going to do with the paper?"
"It is mine."
"Yes, I know that. But be merciful, Greyson."
"Because I see that you really wish it, I will. I will
take the trouble of carrying it round myself to the almshouse
people, and they shall see it, but I will not make even so much as
one copy for distribution. Surely that is kindness to him, and
less than that would not be justice to you. Why do you
smile?—I know what you are thinking."
"Indeed, you do not."
"Yes, you were thinking how odd it was that a youth like me
should have such important matters to arrange."
"You are telling me your own thoughts, not mine, for you are
a friend and counsellor to me. I have nearly lost sight of the
fact that you are a mere boy and my pupil. By the bye, how did
Mrs. Brown get my mustard-pot?"
"Bought it of a pedlar, to whom the thief must have sold it
that same day."
THE VESTRY AND THE CLIFF.
AND now the
gossips of Westport were destined to have their hearts cheered with
a little news. Various versions of the apology got about the
town; then it was rumoured that Mr. Dreux was going to leave, and
had given up his curacy, though not his lectureship; also it was a
known fact that Mr. Hewly was gone out for a month; finally, it was
observed that old Ferguson looked very glum, and that his daughter
seemed very much out of spirits.
Mr. Dreux soon began to feel the good effects of the apology.
All his friends called on him, and all expressed their sorrow at his
leaving a place "where he was so much respected." He was very
well pleased to hear them say so, but was too busy to go out much
into society. However, he found time to write to Greyson, to
beg him to come and dine with him at his lodgings; and as the note
contained a pen and ink illustration, representing a young gentleman
playing on a flute, he understood thereby that he was to bring that
instrument with him, which he accordingly did, and found his host in
excellent spirits, and looking quite well.
"In the first place, how is Miss Dreux?" asked Greyson.
"I have a letter to say she is steadily improving, and is to
go to the Isle of Wight in a week."
"And I have got a letter from the umpire, which I will read
Nothing could be said till the servant had cleared away the
dinner equipage and withdrawn. Greyson then produced Mr.
Raeburn's letter, and read it aloud:—
"I have received your letter, containing the complicated
statement of the transactions between Smith and Jones. I fully
understand that you do not wish to consider what the law would
decide on this matter (as on that head there can be no doubt), but
you merely wish for the opinion of a third party as to what is
equitable, so that neither may feel himself laid under an
obligation, or that he has taken an unfair advantage of the other.
"I shall state the case, in order that my opinion may be
"It appears, that in consequence of the loss of the original
£400, Jones sold Smith £200 worth of silver plate, and this silver,
after the money was paid over for it and the receipt given, was
"But it appears that Smith, setting out in search of his
silver, finds the original £400, which he returns to Jones, who then
considers that Smith has a right to be indemnified for the loss of
his silver, and wishes to share the £400 with him. Smith, on
the other hand, declines.
"Now it is certain, that in returning the £400, Smith only
did his duty; but Jones, in requiring him to accept £200, desires to
do him a favour, because he is of opinion that it was hard upon him
that he should have enjoyed the property he had purchased for so
short a time; for if it had not been stolen for a couple of years
after Smith bought it, Jones would never have thought of repaying
"My opinion is this,—that the £200 should not be accepted by
Smith, he having no right to it; but that, as he spent a large sum
of money in searching for his silver, which search led to the
discovery of the £400, he shall receive from Jones the whole of his
travelling expenses, and, if his time was of value, Jones may
indemnify him for that loss also.
"This, my dear boy, is the best conclusion I can come to.
You will observe, that Smith has no right to his travelling
expenses, but he, having done Jones a benefit, may fairly accept one
"Your sister sends her love to you.
"Your affectionate uncle," &c.
"There," said Greyson, when he had finished it, "I think, on
the whole, that it is a very fair decision."
"I have promised to abide by it, and I will," was the reply;
"but it gives me greatly the advantage."
"Here is the packet of notes," said Greyson, producing a
parcel from his pocket, "and you are to pay my travelling expenses.
Do you see that my uncle has put notes of admiration after the
remark about Smith's time, and its possible value? Of course
he knows quite well who Smith and Jones are."
And now that this affair was settled, the other arrangements
were easily made. The late Curate of Pelham's Church, alias
St. Plum's, found himself out of debt and free from his engagement
with Hewly, while the possession of the rest of the recovered sum
made it needless for him to accept any curacy without deliberation.
"Have you heard that Mr. Hewly is in treaty with a clergyman
in Kent to exchange livings with him?" asked Greyson. "I
believe he thinks St. Plum's will hardly do for him after that
Mr. Dreux could not but acquiesce in the propriety of the
step, and Greyson went on,—
"I really am sorry for Hewly; for my aunt Ferguson says Helen
was so astonished, so horrified, when she heard of it, that it seems
impossible she can ever get over it and like him again; and yet, you
know, Mr. Dreux, I took all imaginable pains not to put a word in
which was not absolutely necessary to make it an apology at all.
I did not say 'humble apology,' or anything of the kind, for, in
fact, I was afraid he might turn restive, and I should not get it at
all; and if he had refused, and trusted to my generosity, I could
not but have held my tongue."
The rest of the evening was spent in giving and receiving the
lesson, and for several days after this Mr. Dreux was unceasingly
occupied in going about taking leave of his old parishioners.
He had made up his mind to spend two or three months in travelling
for one of the great Evangelical Societies. The tour marked
out for him would occupy three months, and as public speaking was no
trouble to him, he believed he should find this engagement a
positive relaxation, and find a relief from his regret at leaving
his people, in the change and bustle of travelling.
Accordingly he preached his farewell sermon, took leave of
his old pensioners, and set off one chilly morning at the end of
March. It was six o'clock in the grey of the morning, and as
he had kept the time of his departure a secret, there was no one at
the railway office to see him off but young Greyson, from whom he
was very sorry to part for more reasons than one.
The same day that he thus quietly withdrew from the scene of
his labours and usefulness Mr. Hewly returned, but he did not appear
in public; he had effected the exchange of his living, and he now
advertised his furniture, paid his bills, and left the town to
return no more.
In the meantime his late curate recovered all his wonted
health, strength, and energy in the variety afforded by travelling
and the pleasurable excitement of public speaking.
So passed the whole of April. It was an early spring,
and the country grew more beautiful day by day. He travelled
west and south, through South Wales, Dorsetshire, and Devonshire,
till, on the 1st of May, he reached a small town in the wildest part
of Cornwall, standing close to the sea cliffs. The trees were
in full leaf and the day was almost sultry. He walked through
the gaunt old-fashioned street to the vicar's house, and to his
disappointment heard that the vicar was ill, but that the
officiating clergyman could no doubt assist him, though he could not
be spoken with at present, for the bells were already ringing for
the Wednesday evening service. "But if Mr. Dreux would go down
to the church," the vicar's wife said, "he would no doubt see him
after the service, and hear what arrangements he had made for the
It was a glorious evening, hot as midsummer, but the east was
already beginning to turn ruddy. There was a high steep hill
rising directly behind the church. It looked wild and bushy,
and it flung back the sound of the bells with such a strong echo as
seemed to fill to overflowing the narrow valley in which the town
The streets were very quiet, and the old-fashioned casements
were full of flowering plants. He easily followed the sound of
the bells, and found the church,—a fine old building, with a
tapering spire, and windows glowing with the sunset red, but the
ringing of bells was over, and the service had already begun.
As the sound of the reader's voice fell upon his ears, he
stood for an instant doubting the evidence of his senses. He
went up the side aisle and was shown into a pew, then turned to make
conviction still more certain. The reader stood with his face
full towards him—it was Allerton!
Yes, assuredly it was Allerton. As he read, the
familiar tones of his voice struck with mingled pain and pleasure
upon the senses of his sometime friend. The heart is very
quick at divining the hidden history of those whom it loves.
As he listened he perceived some unwonted cadences. There was
a change, and who could tell what sorrow and pain had caused it, or
whether it might not be referable to the disappointment he had
suffered when they parted?
As he went on listening, the change became more perceptible.
There was an earnestness of gravity and feeling not usual before.
It was extremely touching to him to fancy, as he could not help
doing, that this man who had taken such pains to hide from him had
yet found no new friends to heal the pain of his rejected affection.
He little thought who was listening, and he took no pains to conceal
the altered expression of his face. He went through the
prayers with grave simplicity, and ascended the pulpit. He was
now still more distinctly seen, for the church had been lighted; but
his late friend was sheltered in the deep shadow of a pillar, and
was in no danger of being recognised.
He gave out his text,—"For old things have passed away, all
things are become new."
A singular text for him to have chosen, his auditor
thought; but as he went on and opened out his subject, a strange
bewildering feeling came over and nearly overwhelmed him. It
seemed as if this scene and all other things, nay, even existence
itself, might be a dream and a mistake,—for with far more power and
more emotion than he had been wont to exhibit before, he brought
forward his opinions and unfolded the scheme of salvation according
to the principles which he had once despised.
The sermon went on; the first impression had been correct;
there was nothing which left room for a moment's doubt.
Allerton was preaching to a small audience and from notes; he
hesitated now and then, perhaps less from want of words than from
the newness of the matters which he was bringing forward,—new to
him,—but said without compromise, and evidently from heartfelt
The hidden listener sat still in the shadow, and thanked God;
but an irrepressible pang of regret shot through his heart as he
wondered what could be the feeling which made him still hold himself
aloof when, as it seemed, they should be far more to each other than
ever they had been before, and when he ought no longer to resent
what his sometime friend had done.
This excitement was almost too much to be borne, but still
the thrilling voice went on, and now he wondered how they were to
meet, and what must be done. It was evident that Allerton had
been there some time, and that he was not setting forth anything
different to his ordinary teaching. With what motive, then, or
with what feelings did he still conceal himself from his best
friend? But this question could not be answered, and the
sermon was over before he had come to any determination as to how he
should present himself.
He went out of the church with the rest of the congregation,
and passed down the dusky street. It was strangely painful to
him that Allerton should have made no effort to regain his
friendship. He had got nearly as far as the inn where he
intended to sleep when the desire to see and speak with him came
back so strongly, that he turned at once and retraced his steps to
the church, hoping to find it not yet closed, and to gain some
information as to his residence.
He ran up the stone steps. The pew-opener, a woman, had
just put out the lights, and the church looked dark and large as he
glanced down the ranges of pillars.
"Did you wish to see the monuments, Sir?" said the woman.
He explained his object, and she told him Mr. Allerton would
soon return, for he was only gone to see a sick woman, and had
ordered the light to be left burning for him in the vestry.
She further volunteered the information that he often made a study
of the vestry, for that their vicar (who was ill, poor gentleman,
and had been all the winter) kept his books there. She took
him into the vestry, talking all the time.
"Mr. Allerton was gone out at that door," she said, "and
would not be long." In fact, the vestry door leading out into
the wild rising ground before mentioned stood wide open. There
was a square of carpet on the vestry floor, an old-fashioned sofa,
and some high-backed chairs, together with a closet door standing
ajar, where might be seen clerical vestments hanging against the
"If you wish to see Mr. Allerton, Sir," said the woman,
"perhaps you won't mind waiting here? He is sure to return."
"Not at all. I need not detain you. I will wait
"Yes, Sir. Only, you see, I must lock you in, Sir."
"Yes, Sir; for Mr. Allerton has a key to let himself in by.
"Well, if you are quite sure Mr. Allerton will return "—
"Oh, no fear, Sir. Mr. Allerton can't get home without
going through the church;" and so saying, the pew-opener set him a
chair, made him a curtsey, and withdrew along the dark aisle,
locking the doors behind her.
He waited so long that he really began to fear there must be
some mistake, and that Allerton would not return at all that night.
With this fancy strong upon him, and not relishing the ridiculous
position he should be in if left there all night, he went hastily
down the aisle to try the strength of the great lock. Of
course he could no more stir it than he could fly; but he had
scarcely tried when he heard the vestry door hastily opened and
rapid steps crossing the floor. There was all the length of
the church between them, and before he had taken many paces toward
him Allerton had flung open the closet door, taken out a decanter of
wine, and left the place as quickly as he came in, leaving the door
open behind him. He seemed in urgent haste, and never turned
round, or he must have seen the figure entering the moment after he
left the vestry. Dreux hesitated a moment, disappointed at
being so thwarted, and then looked out at the open door to see which
way he had gone.
Apparently he must have turned down by the aide of the
church, for no trace of him was discernible. By his haste, and
by his going away with wine, his late friend believed he must be
about to administer the sacrament to some person in extremity, and,
resolving to wait for him, walked up and down before the door for
nearly an hour.
A low wooden paling, with a gate in it, divided the
church-yard from the rugged hill. The moon was shining, and
when the clock had struck eleven he began to get so impatient of
Allerton's protracted absence that he resolved to climb the hill and
try to find his way out into the town. At first he got on very
well, but presently he came to a gravelly ascent, partially covered
with trees, and so steep that he could not climb it without the help
of his hands among the bushes. Though the moon had gone in,
and it had become perfectly dark, he was still thinking of forcing
his way up the ascent, when he heard a door at some distance behind
him creak heavily, and immediately made the best of his way towards
To his mortification, the vestry-door was closed. He
shook the lock with right good-will, but could not stir it; but as
the lamp was burning, he fancied the wind must have blown it to, and
if so, Allerton might yet return.
Still, it was wearisome and dispiriting to walk there alone.
He wandered about, but could find no outlet, and at length tried the
rugged, thorn-dotted hill again. He dashed about blindly for
some time among the trees, but could not reach the boundary line,
nor see any path, the little light scarcely serving to mark the
different hues of grass and gravel. His progress was slow;
sometimes he came to a rock, and had to go round it before he could
ascend again. At last he came to a smooth open space, where
the grass grew short. The ascent was as steep as ever, but he
set off at a quick pace, for he did not at all like his position; he
might be trespassing for anything he knew. On a sudden he
heard steps behind him, as of a man rushing up after him. He
quickened his pace, and the man called out to him to stop, and the
next instant had seized him by the arm. The ascent was so
steep that he had greatly the advantage of his assailant, who was so
out of breath with running that he could not speak, but closed with
him, and was evidently trying to throw him down. It was but
the work of an instant to throw him off violently: the impetus sent
him running down many degrees faster than he came up. Before
an instant had passed he heard another man rushing up towards him.
He did not relish the idea of there being two against him, and ran
up the precipitous hill, trying to distance this new pursuer, and
determining, if possible, not to close with him till they came to
open ground. Violent as his exertions were, they availed him
nothing, for the man running after him redoubled his own, and ran as
if his life depended upon it. The moon was gone in; he did not
know the ground; the man was close behind him, crashing down dead
boughs, and displacing the heavy loose stones in his reckless race.
He was close at his heels, and would have him instantly. He
seemed trying to speak, and was panting violently, when Dreux,
trying to repeat his last experiment, turned upon him, and seizing
him suddenly, wrestled with him with all his strength.
He was a powerful man, but his assailant was a match for him,
though both were so completely out of breath with running that to
speak was impossible. Dreux struck the man several times, and
struggled desperately. The man tried to pinion his arms; he
strove to speak and to stop him, and when he found he could not,—for
Dreux continued to drag himself further up,—he next attempted to
throw him down, and, not succeeding, flung himself on his knees, and
by his weight brought his assailant down also. He recovered
breath as they fell, to cry out, frantically, "Stop, stop; Oh, my
God! the cliff, the cliff!" He held tightly by Dreux, whose
foot slipped, and the two, still struggling, rolled over the edge of
a descent of about four feet, and so steep that, when the latter
recovered from a short giddiness which had seized him, he was
astonished to find himself unhurt. The man, as they fell over
together, had uttered a cry of indescribable horror. The word
"precipice" suggested itself to his bewildered brain; he heard an
injunction to be quiet, and, as he became more collected, he found
himself supported, in a half-upright position, on a very narrow
ledge of rock. He rested on one elbow, but his feet were
hanging over, and he could feel no footing. He found that the
man, who seemed to be in a kneeling position somewhat above him, was
grasping him round the chest, and that if this support was
withdrawn, he must inevitably fall over.
It was intensely dark, but he was conscious of a rushing,
booming sound far beneath him. The next instant the man said,
in a hurried, faint whisper,—"I am no enemy; don't move; don't stir
a muscle, if you value my life or your own." Low as the voice
was, it was too familiar to be mistaken. He heard it with a
start, which placed his life in additional peril. The man was
His first impulse was to make himself known; the next instant
he remembered the imprudence of such a step.
"Now, listen to me," Allerton proceeded, more calmly, for he
had taken breath; "do you see that cleft of sky between the clouds?"
He answered, in a whisper, "Yes."
"In less than ten minutes," proceeded Allerton, "the moon
will reach it, and we shall have an interval of light. Don't
attempt to move till then; I can easily hold you while you are
still; till light comes we must rest." He paused a moment, and
then went on, "You are a stranger here, or you would not have
climbed this hill in the dark. I tried to stop you,—could not
speak for want of breath; keep still, I charge you. If I know
where we are, I only want light to get you up safely."
"But this cliff, this precipice,—the sea"—
"Yes, the sea rolls at its base. If you struggle to
help yourself you are lost,—we are both lost; but if you can be
still, perfectly passive, I trust in God that I can lift you by main
strength on to my ridge, without overbalancing."
"And if you should fail?"
"If I should fail. Don't think of that now; don't look
over,—don't for your life look over; there are still a few minutes
left for prayer,—call upon God."
The moon drew near the edge of the cloud, and they had a full
view of their fearful position. Beneath them was the sea, with
the face of the precipice shelving almost sheer down to it.
Allerton felt a shiver run through the frame of the supposed
stranger, and charged him once more to be quiet. He was
becoming faint and sick, but had strength of nerve to obey.
The ledge on which he was lying was too narrow to admit of his
turning; he was held on by the strength of Allerton's arms, who
himself was kneeling on a broader space, two feet higher up.
Both their hats had fallen off in the struggle, and the
troubled water was tossing them about below.
"Now," cried Allerton, "dare, if possible, to be
passive. I hold you; try if you can find any footing at all;
"No," was the reply, "I can find none."
"Can you draw one foot up on to the ledge?"
"The instant I begin to raise you draw a long breath.
The moon was fully out. Allerton slightly changed his
position, unclasped his hand, seized his companion by the wrist, and
with a mighty effort raised him about a foot. Happily Dreux
disobeyed his injunctions, and dared to help himself. He was
no sooner half erect than he found footing, which lightened
Allerton's task, and gave him time to breathe; this was a timely
rest, and he gathered coolness and the confidence which was
beginning to waver, then with one more effort he dragged him on to
the upper ledge, where they rested in comparative safety.
It was easy to climb the small descent down which they had
rolled. They had scarcely accomplished it when the moon went
behind the cloud again, and they were left in total darkness.
"Now, we must wait a while," said Allerton, and he threw
himself into the long grass, almost overpowered with his exertions.
The man whom he had saved came up and wrung his hand, but did
not speak. Allerton supposed him to be some artist or tourist,
for many such visited that romantic neighbourhood. The
momentary glimpse he had had of his appearance had assured him that
he occupied the station of a gentleman, and feeling a strong
interest in him, he resolved to ask him home to his house for the
night. The church clock struck again, and just then the moon
emerged from the cloud, and Allerton sprang up and exclaimed, "Come
here, and let us look at the danger we have passed." He took
him by the arm and brought him to the brink of the cliff, holding
him while he suffered him to look over. Still the stranger
said nothing, but looked down—down into the seething water,
shuddered, and pressed his hand. Allerton, who was moved
himself, spoke to him of the goodness of God in having preserved
their lives; and reminded him of the fact, that in imminent danger
there is no possible rest for the human mind but in calling upon
God. Even in that doubtful light, Dreux wondered that he did
not recognise him; but being touched by his goodness, and by the
danger they had passed through, he remained silent, and shrunk from
making himself known. Allerton then went on to speak of the
happiness of those whose hearts are in a state of preparation for
death, and added a few words on the way of salvation and acceptance
with God. Allerton thought he listened attentively, but the
moon just then coming out more fully, he was obliged to turn his
thoughts in another direction. "Now, then," he exclaimed, with
his natural quickness, "I am going to take you down by a still
steeper way than you came up, but there are flights of steps.
You must follow me, and that quickly, for I don't know the place
very well, and want to get down while there is light."
They ran down quickly, and, this way being much shorter, they
were soon by the vestry-door; it was opened by a man to whom
Allerton stopped to speak, while Dreux looked on. "This is the
gentleman," he heard him say; "he is quite safe." The man
muttered something about people not liking to be flung down by those
they meant to serve. Allerton laughed; the man spoke in the
country dialect, and Dreux did not then remember that more than one
man had tried to stop him.
"Come to me to-morrow," continued Allerton, dismissing the
man. "And, as for you, young gentleman, take my advice, and
never climb a strange cliff in the dark again; and never forget this
night. Look there." He pointed to a deep ravine, not far
from the pathway.
"I see it," replied Dreux, now speaking for the first time
aloud; "and I never shall forget. I am deeply grateful to God,
and to you. Look here." He drew back a pace or two as he
spoke and threw back his disordered hair from his forehead, then he
turned so that the full broad moonlight shone upon his features.
Allerton, who was standing on the threshold, had heard his
voice at first with a start of incredulous amazement, but the truth
no sooner flashed upon him than he uttered an exclamation of horror
and almost of affright.
"Allerton! Allerton!" exclaimed Dreux, advancing upon
him as he receded into the vestry, "Is it really come to this?—have
you thought so hardly of me?—do you hate me so entirely, that,
though you have perilled your life to save mine,—though you have
prayed for me, when you thought me a stranger, you no sooner know me
than you fling my gratitude back, and shrink from the very touch of
my hand when I hold it to you?"
Allerton's face was white and rigid, but he drew still
further back, and muttered, "You take a mistaken view of the case.
You are wrong altogether."
"I do not. I have seen you shrink from me; and you wish
to force me from your presence without the common expression of my
civility, though you know that I owe you my life—though you know
that I struck you, and that I never can forgive myself for
that act unless I can part with you in amity. You need not
turn away,—I see the marks of my hand on your forehead. If I
had been a murderer you could not have treated me more"—
"Dreux, Dreux, you don't know what you are talking about.
You are killing me."
"I do know, and I will say it;—if I had struck those blows
with intent to murder you, and knowing that it was you, you could
not have treated me more cruelly."
"You can scarcely stand,—you are excited and oppressed."
"I am sick with the recollection of that yawning gulf, and my
feelings have been outraged, but I will not sit down, and I will not
go. You shall believe that I am grateful; and you shall shake
hands with me."
"I will," said Allerton, coming up to him, with a sigh.
"Sit down, or you will faint. Let me open the window;
there,—now drink this wine. You are excited, and don't
understand—how should you? If you did, you would not grudge me
these two or three bruises."
Dreux drank the wine, and made an effort to rise.
"No, no; be quiet for a moment," said Allerton, speaking
almost with the tenderness of a woman. "Turn your face to the
air. You came upon me so suddenly that I had no time for
consideration,—I could not overcome my—my consternation. Oh, how
many thousand times your face, with that selfsame look, has advanced
upon me in my dreams. Oh, my accusing conscience!"
"I have nothing to accuse you of—nothing," said Dreux,
"Not that you know of. What, you must shake hands?
Well.—I don't hate you, Dreux; I love you."
"If you do"—
"If I do I have taken a strange way of showing it. I
was beside myself, and your random accusation struck me to the
"I beg your pardon,—I am sorry; but I do not know to what you
"Dreux, you rise,—what do you want to do?"
"It is past midnight; I wish to go back."
"To the inn. I will see you to-morrow."
"You will not go there, Dreux. My house is near at
hand; you will come with me."
"We cannot understand each other,—we are much better apart."
"How wearily you speak. For your own sake we can never
be friends again; but that, or something else, troubles you more—far
more than I could have supposed possible."
"I know we cannot be friends, for I heard you preach
to-night, and if your change of principles is not to bring us
together, nothing can; but I should have liked to know the
"Prospects have changed with you, Dreux; and you have, I
know, come through many anxieties. Have you felt them much?"
"Very much. I had no friend to stand by me."
"Well," said Allerton, bitterly, "it is some comfort to know
that you would have been none the better for my standing by you.
But it grows late, and you will come with me."
Dreux made no further objection; he was thoroughly
dispirited. As they went through the dark silent street,
Allerton suddenly said, "Did you come straight from Westport?
Did you come here on purpose to find me?"
"No; I came to speak to-morrow at your local Meeting. I
did not know you were here till I saw you in the desk."
"I have been out for two days, and had not heard who was the
"If you had known, perhaps you would have kept out of my way
"This is my house, Dreux," interrupted Allerton. It
stood close to the church; Allerton was admitted by an old
housekeeper, a slight repast was set on the table, and a room was
soon prepared for the guest. Allerton seemed ill at his ease,
restless, and agitated; it was quite a relief to both when the room
was declared to be ready; and whatever doubts, speculations, fears,
or perplexities, might trouble the mind of either, no explanation
was asked or offered, and each was heartily thankful to find himself
They met the next morning to a late breakfast, and it was
apparent that the night's rest, or rather the night's solitude (for
neither had slept), had made an alteration on each.
Allerton's face was overclouded with gloom, and his manner
painfully restless and changeable; he seemed struggling against
varied feelings. Now he tried to look calm and cold,—now a
sudden gleam of his old affectionate hilarity would shine for an
instant in his eyes, and be checked almost as soon as it appeared.
Dreux, on the contrary, was now self-possessed, and far more
cordial than before; his old manner had returned, but he asked not a
single question and betrayed no curiosity. His expression and
every action seemed to say,—"I will have you back as a friend, if it
be possible; and if you will give no explanation, I will do without
The Meeting, which was to be at four in the afternoon,
supplied them with conversation during breakfast. Afterwards
Allerton sat, looking pale and restless, till, suddenly, Dreux
opened the glass door of his study and proposed a walk in the
garden; he came out mechanically. The garden was close upon
the sea-shore, which, at that point, was nearly flat; they stood,
looking about them,—then sauntered back. Allerton became
conscious that Dreux was systematically breaking down the barrier of
distance which he had erected between them; he talked of their
familiar acquaintance; then he took hold of his arm; then he began
to talk of his own affairs. Allerton struggled hard against
this, but it would not do, his guest approached nearer and nearer;
he was now perfectly at his ease, and nothing could make him
otherwise. Insensibly Allerton was beguiled into conversation;
he forgot himself, and asked a few questions. Dreux answered
so frankly, and with such perfect good faith, that he found himself
the repository of his most private affairs. He had got a
terrible heartache; it did it no good to hear Dreux talk as he had
been used to do to him, and to him only,—telling him candidly all
his feelings and fancies, as reserved people will to those whom they
wholly trust. Allerton felt that he had never so talked since
they parted, and that now he was doing battle manfully for the
continuance of the privilege. He would not give it up, and he was
now working so hard at the barrier that it must have inevitably
given way, if a servant had not come up to them and reminded
Allerton of some piece of clerical duty.
"I will be back shortly," he said, in a distraught, restless
He returned in half an hour. Behold, the beloved
unbidden guest had fallen asleep on his study sofa! he had been
awake the whole night,—that Allerton knew, for he had listened for
hours to footsteps pacing overhead. He softly drew near, and
contemplated him with a peculiar and most painful sensation.
Tall, somewhat slender, and youthful-looking, he possessed in
his waking hours a gravity and weight which added several years to
his appearance. Now this gravity had given way to an easy
expression of confiding tranquillity. A listless smile parted
his lips, and reminded the looker-on of his sister. He was
asleep, down to his very finger-ends.
It was a chilly morning, and Allerton passed into the hall
and brought a shepherd's plaid to lay over him. As he folded
it across him he opened his eyes, and, without any expression of
surprise at finding himself so tended, turned and fell asleep again,
with Allerton still bending over him.
No need for apology,—he was entirely at home. He had
been tired, now he was resting, and nothing could make him think
that this was not the best place possible to take it in. He
floated out into the land of dreams. Most of them were
pleasant ones; perhaps the more so because, being a very light
sleeper, he was conscious, after a long time, of a warm hand upon
his forehead, moving back his hair.
Light sleepers can reason, after a fashion, even in their
dreams: he followed out a long train of misty, entangled reasonings
in his. He thought it odd that Allerton should so recoil from
him when awake, and now should keep his hand upon his forehead, and
touch the little mark of the wound with such a brotherly kiss.
He was conscious of a home feeling, and a sense of security,
even in sleep; but when he at length awoke, and looked at Allerton,
he found him moody and miserable as ever.
He had built up the barrier between them again, and, with his
arms upon his study-table, sat regarding him with a pained, uneasy
Dreux set to work to throw his barrier down. "Allerton,
I'm very hungry,—I want some lunch."
Allerton smiled at this appeal, and rang the bell, but he
kept such stern guard over himself that he preserved as distant a
manner as ever.
The lunch speedily appeared. Allerton assisted his
guest, but he sat with his untouched plate before him, gazing out of
the window. He was beginning to distrust his powers; he should
never be able to break down this wall of rock; he had been
mistaken,—there had come no change over Allerton, which made his own
conduct appear right and inevitable; he did not want him, and was
restless and anxious for him to be gone.
While he slept his face had looked so youthful and easy that
Allerton had felt as if a few months of bitter remorse had made
him many years the senior; when he awoke, his features had been
lighted up with the old cordial smile. But now a cloud of
gloom, pain, and wounded feeling had gathered over his brow.
He did not touch the offered meal, and sat silent a long time.
He had lost confidence; his old reserve had again crept over him.
He had been repulsed, and could not recover.
His host endured this with difficulty. "I thought," he
said, "you told me you were hungry?"
No answer. His late friend poured out a glass of water
and drank it hastily; then he rose slowly, left the room, and, with
equal deliberation, walked up stairs. At the top he paused to
consider which way he should turn.
Allerton hastily crossed the hall, ran up, and asked what he
"I want to find my room, and get my carpetbag."
Allerton would not hear of it;—was urgent, impetuous.
He made him come down again, shut the door of his study, and turning
the key, exclaimed, in a low, hurried voice, "Dreux! are you
determined,—are you quite bent upon our still being friends?"
"No, I do not wish to force myself upon you; I wish to go."
"You shall not go till you have eaten something."
"I cannot eat;—you will not give me what I want."
"No, I will not sit down again;—I must go."
"What have I done within the last few minutes to give you
this sudden resolution?"
"Nothing new,—nothing more. But you have not yet
forgiven me, and I cannot, and I will not, remain where I am not
"Forgiven you!—forgiven You!"
"Yes, forgiven me. I thought it probable at first that
you would have forgiven me, but I find"
"Will you look at me?"
"What do you see?"
"I see a man who was once my friend,—for whom I cared far
more than he ever thought,—who has no true reason now for resentment
against me,—and who has no power even now to alienate my regard, for
I choose to retain it."
"It is useless your trying to make me believe that all your
old affection for me is past and over. Why you try, is a
mystery that I cannot solve. Why you torment yourself and me
by feigning this utter want of interest I cannot fathom. You
have some kindness left for me still. What does it matter
else to you that I carry a mark on my forehead? Why must
you needs investigate it?—it's nothing to you. Allerton!
Allerton! what have I done now?"
He asked the question almost vehemently, for Allerton had
started as if he had been struck a blow. He made a gesture of
entreaty, and staggered with difficulty to his chair; the veins of
his temples were swelled almost to bursting, and he pointed to the
window, as if he wanted air.
It was thrown open hastily, and a glass of water held to his
"Dreux," he said, as his late friend, again overstepping the
barrier, laid a hand upon his shoulder, and looked anxiously in his
face, "you are very kind;—do you know who you are speaking to?"
"To a man who saved my life last night."
"There are no other words in the world that it would have
done me so much good to hear, and that it would have been so like
yourself to say, even if you had known the truth. Well, but do
you see no change in me?"
"Yes, I see that you have suffered; I hear it in the sound of
your voice. I also see"
"What, Dreux? Well, I have suffered;—the curse of Cain
I sometimes feel upon me."
"There is no sin that the blood of Christ cannot wash away."
"No sin. I have repeated those words many
thousand times. It washes away, but it does not save us from
the consequences of sin in this world. We may hope to live at
peace in heaven with those against whom we have sinned too deeply to
deserve any intercourse on earth. What! I have startled
you at last! I feel your hand tremble."
"Not with distrust,—only with suspense. It is your
manner, far more than your words"
"Well, take your hand from my shoulder, for I should not wish
to feel it suddenly withdrawn when I tell you the truth.
There,—now look me in the face. I am a murderer, Dreux, in
will, and almost in deed."
"A murderer in will!"
"Yes, I tell you; and, having begun, I will tell you the
rest. I have kept away from you as a duty, but you have found
me out at last. And now I must tell you what I would fain have
had known only to me and my Maker; least of all I would have had you
know it. I would not blacken myself where I would fain have
stood well. But you must know, for you want to make a friend
of me again."
"I desire no confidence, Allerton. I would be your
friend without it if you would let me."
"You would; but I am not quite base enough to permit that.
I will tell you all, and you shall do as you please."
"You are excited now; I will not hear anything till you are
calm; and even then, I had rather the matter was left, as you have
said, between you and your Maker."
"Dreux, your presence while you are ignorant of it, and your
friendly confidence, are daggers in my heart. To have you with
me, and to hear you say such things as you have said twice
during these few hours, would be far more than my fortitude could
sustain. I told you that I was a murderer. Don't look so
much aghast; it was you that I injured,—you. Do you
hear me? You will not wake from this and find it a dream.
Go and sit down, a long way from me. I have begun now, and I
will go on to the end. Why do you put your hand to your head?—does it ache?"
Dreux took away his hand, and looked earnestly at Allerton.
His remarks had several times appeared irrelevant; now he was
excited and agitated.
"My dear Allerton," Dreux began, "you cannot be surprised if
I feel a little bewildered; and if I show it."
"Was that all? I thought you put your hand to your
forehead as if you were in pain."
"O these strange suspicions!" thought Dreux; "what do they
portend?—I have a slight headache," he explained, with a sigh of
irrepressible anxiety, "and I have got a habit of putting up my hand
since my accident. Of course one cannot expect such a thing to
pass over, leaving no bad effects whatever."
Allerton rose and went to the window, as if he felt half
suffocated. "You were in the church last night," he presently
said; "why did you not come to me in the vestry?"
Dreux explained to him how he had returned to the church, and
how he had failed to overtake him, as he left it hastily with the
"I understand it all now," replied Allerton. "Among the
trees you passed a cottage."
"I did not remark one."
"You did, however. After service the man who lives
there came and asked me to pray with his wife, who is in a decline.
I went, and stayed with her a long while; but just as I was about to
leave her, she became so faint, that I ran back to the vestry to get
some wine; the woman revived after she had taken it; and as I sat by
her she said she saw some one going quickly up among the trees.
I could scarcely believe her; for no one can get in there at night
after the church-gates are locked, unless by climbing them. I
declared she was mistaken; but she persisted, and said it was a
gentleman; then I was alarmed, for I knew it must be a stranger.
We left her with her daughter, and I and the husband ran out after
the stranger to warn him of his danger. You seemed to be bent
on rushing up straight to your destruction. I suppose you took
us for thieves or murderers,—no unlikely supposition: an unfortunate
man was murdered there last year for the sake of his watch, and his
body thrown over the cliffs. I got so out of breath with my
desperate race, that I could not shout to you. My heart was in
my throat, for I perceived that my very eagerness in running on made
you rush more blindly up, heedless of the booming of the water,
which otherwise you might have heard. When I had seized you, I
was not prepared for the strength with which you grappled with me,
resolutely dragging me still further and further to the edge."
"If the moon had only come out then!"
"If the moon had come out then, you would not have struck me;
was that what you would say? But then I should not have saved
your life; for the light would have warned you of your danger.
But you are too generous to wish you had not lifted your hand
against me; at least if you could know all that I have suffered
since we parted you would be glad. Dreux, you are amazed, you
look at me with wonder. Well, I will tell you why; but just
now I must rest. It comes upon me with such a sudden,
irresistible happiness, the thought that I should have saved your
life—yours—I must think on it a while. No, say nothing, sit
where you are, let me think my thoughts out, the bitter will come
He turned from the window, and, as was usual with him when
excited, began slowly to pace the room.
"Dreux, you are very patient with me, you always were; well—I
will not try you any longer— the bitter returns in greater force
than ever—I will sit down and lay it all before you."
He sat silent a few minutes, till Dreux made a movement of
irrepressible agitation; the suspense was getting too much for him.
"When I left you that morning," Allerton began at length,
speaking with suppressed emotion, "I felt more like a fiend than a
human being. In the blindness of my passion I repeated that I
hated and despised you—yes, and your sister also; yet in the depth
of my heart, I knew you had acted consistently, and I hated your
principles even more than yourself."
He looked intently out of the window, and continued in a
lower tone: "I went home. I madly vowed that I would never
speak to you again; I acknowledged to myself that I had known how it
would be from the beginning; and so I had; but I had so resolutely
smothered the knowledge, that it came upon me like a thunder-clap.
Dreux, I entered my house—my hand was on the latch of the
study-door, when my groom met me and inquired what time my horse was
wanted for you. It enraged me just then to hear him mention
your name. I told him to hold his tongue, and went in. I
don't know what induced the man to follow me, for he must have seen
that I was in a passion. Perhaps it was that my condemnation
might be the more complete. He asked me the question again,
and said, 'Shall I go round and inquire, sir?' It only
inflamed me to hear him say it and persist in it, as if he supposed
I had not heard him. I told him the horse was not wanted; he
said, rather sulkily, that if you rode your own horse, he knew you
would be thrown. I cursed you in my heart, if not with my
lips. I muttered, as I flung the door to, that nothing would
please me better."
"Don't say any more, Allerton," cried his auditor, in a tone
of the deepest agitation; "what is this to me? why bring it up
again? I cannot bear to hear it; pray spare me; remember last
night. If you are not satisfied with what you did for me
"If I am not satisfied," repeated Allerton in the same
suppressed tone. "Oh yes, and I am deeply thankful; it shows
the goodness of God, in not only forgiving that murderous sin, but
sparing me to be serviceable to the man whom I had injured. I
told you that I believed I hated you. I fortified myself in
this feeling. Dreux, strange to say, my man came again, and knocked
at my door. I felt a momentary qualm of conscience. I
thought it so odd; but I flung open the door and demanded how he
dared interrupt me. He muttered some apology, and seemed
aghast to see me in such a rage; and yet he muttered again, was I
sure Mr. Dreux did not want the horse? I don't know what I
said. I was beside myself; but I denied that it was wanted,
and told him to come again at his peril! Oh, Dreux, it sickens
me to reflect on that day; my rage grew as I thought on what you had
done. I drank a good deal of wine after dinner, for my passion
had exhausted me; after that I believe I fell asleep on my study
sofa. Dreux, you must hear me to the end."
"No more," urged his auditor; "God has spared me, why need I
know all this?"
"Why need you? Because I cannot bear the sight of that
smile of yours, while you are in ignorance. I would rather see
you look shocked and horrified, as you do now, than see you
determined to confide in me, and hear you lament that you lifted
your hand against me."
"I will never lament it again, if you will only spare me
"Spare you a little, just the little remains of your
ideal, and not tear it down and soil it in the dust, and despoil it
of every vestige of its beauty. Dreux, I know you thought well
"I did, and do."
"Well, Dreux, it was dusk when I awoke, and started upright
at a peculiar noise of sobbing. I saw my servants crying in
the doorway and wringing their hands, my old man-servant crying as
much as any of them.
"They came in, but seemed afraid to speak; for they knew my
affection for you, but not our quarrel. I asked what was the
matter; they told me the most horrible story that ever my ears had
listened to: that you had been thrown and dragged a great distance
by your horse; that you were still alive, but there was no hope; and
your horse—that was the most horrible thing of all at the
moment—your horse had run back like a mad creature, and rushed,
covered with foam and dust, into the open door of my stables."
"Why need that have shocked you?" urged Dreux, scarcely
knowing what he said. "Had he not been put up there times out
"I tell you he rushed into my stables covered with blood and
foam; he had injured himself, and died in the night. I had
thought that I hated you; the passing away of that delusion brought
with it misery beyond what I had supposed it possible our nature
could endure. My people had expected to see me overpowered; I
was more, I was frantic. I tore my hair, I called upon God to
revenge you upon me. They talked of what a pleasure it must be
to me now to think what good friends we had always been; every word
they said was a dagger in my heart; they could do nothing with me,
and at last they sent for a physician; and I remember very little
more of that miserable night, or of the next day."
"And now I have heard it, Allerton; and you must say no more
till you have heard me."
"What would you say, Dreux?"
"That I entreat you—that I expect you to forget this as
completely as I will do. No, not to forget it, then; but to
think no more of it as a thing that need keep us asunder—never to
think of it at all without remembering last night also."
Allerton remained silent; he seemed in a great measure
relieved of the load which had oppressed him, but did not take the
offered hand without a gesture of pain. He put it aside again,
and motioned to Dreux to go back to his seat, going on with his
narrative, as if he desired at once to say all that was on his mind.
"Dreux, those were wretched days. I got up from my bed
and walked about, and I saw that every human being I met pitied me;
it was written on their faces; I saw it, and almost wished they
could have known the truth. You were in great danger; pains
were taken to conceal the fact from me; but I possessed myself not
only of the facts of the case, but of all the fears of the
"All your friends and all my own came to me to comfort me.
They were amazed and alarmed at my state of mind. They all
said the same thing. They all pitied me. Their
reproaches would have been easy to bear in comparison. But I
was dumb. I sat in my study, and neither could answer them,
nor exert myself to send them away. But everything that could
torture me they said, for there was no kind of praise that ever was
bestowed on human sympathy and friendship that they did not lavish
upon mine. This went on for three or four days; then I became
restless, and wandered about almost ceaselessly night and day.
"I went and called on the Patons, for there I thought I
should hear some particulars. I was a good deal altered by
remorse, but a sort of dead calm had come over me, which I thought
nothing could move. I began to talk; the ladies tried to
answer me, but one by one they left the room. The mother, who
alone remained, could scarcely speak for tears. This put the
climax to my sufferings. I would have told her everything but
for the utter weariness that had come upon me. I went away,
but I was determined to see you, and I did. Dreux, you are
worse than any of them. Don't you remember what you suffered?
Don't you know the peril which threatened not only life but reason?
and you are speechless with pity! I have seen you often this
morning put your hand to your head. Such a blow could scarcely
pass, you told me, and leave no bad effects, and yet you look as if
there was nothing you would not do to lighten its effects on me.
Well, I saw you by night. You were half delirious. I saw
your sister sleeping at the foot of your miserable bed, and I
repented. I had been stunned before; now my awakened feelings
of tenderness added keenness to remorse. I dragged on another
week, and then it was given out that your danger was over. I
could not believe it; but the next day the report was confirmed.
Then a new feeling came over me—I knew that I never could look you
in the face again. I left the town, resolved not to return.
I wanted exertion—my mind preyed upon my health. I thought
change would do me good. I travelled. I walked. I
toiled among the mountains. Every day I walked till I was worn
out with fatigue, but my sleep was not sweet.
"When I had been absent a month, I went to the Bishop.
My altered appearance showed my state of health, and he soon saw
that something more than I spoke of was the matter with me. I
easily got a six months' leave of absence. I went into Wales.
I exerted my bodily strength to the utmost, but the same terrible
fears haunted me. If you had died who would have been your
murderer? As it was, you might never be restored to health,
and then what would become of me?
"I had no friend, no person to speak to. I felt as if
the lot of Cain had come upon me—to wander —the murderer of my
brother, with one more curse in addition to his, one more ingredient
in my bitter cup than ever poisoned his,—that I loved my brother, I
constantly thought with remorse of what I had done—that in the
distance and apart, brooding over my everlasting heart-ache, he
seemed to me far better and more to be desired as a friend and
companion than ever he had done before. The heart has no
bounds for its capacity for suffering, nor for loving. One
pain brings another. All my forgotten sins rose up before me
with this crowning one at their head.
"In the silence of my life I thought of you both incessantly.
If the eye is not satisfied with seeing, how much less is the heart
satisfied with loving! I still worshipped my idols of clay,
but in the blindness of my misery I reproached my Maker, 'Thou hast
taken away my Gods, and what have I more?'
"I got a letter one day from Hewly. He said you were
much better. You had read prayers and were to preach the next
Sunday. I was extremely thankful, but it did not seem to make
my crime the less. At first my resolution never to see you
again, never to seek any further intercourse with you, or bring you
any more within the influence of a temper so violent, had seemed so
great a sacrifice that I thought it half atoned; now that foolish
fancy was gone, and the weight of my sins had become almost
intolerable. I thought there was nothing I would not do to be
released from it—nothing.
"I had done many things, and it grew heavier and harder to
bear. On the Sunday when I knew you were to preach, I went out
and wandered up the barren mountain which faced the farm-house where
I lodged. I came to a cleft in the rock, where a quantity of
broom hung out and made a shelter.
"I sat down and took out a Bible, but I did not read. I
thought of you and of your sister, and your voice seemed to come
back to me, saying such things as you often had done in our
arguments and discussions. My mind was empty of comfort—I
could not think very connectedly. I unclasped the Bible, and a
letter of yours fell out. You had written it while you were
away with Elinor; within it were the notes of a sermon on this
text,—'There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.'"
Allerton paused when he came to this place, but Dreux made no
effort to speak; he sat with his eyes intently fixed upon him.
He presently went on:—
"I was pleased at the sight of your writing. I read
over the letter, and it beguiled me for a few minutes from the
weariness of my own thoughts. When I had finished it I picked
up the notes of your sermon and began to read them. It was for
the first time, Dreux. They began with some remarks upon the
unsatisfying nature of all earthly affection—they asserted that love
was originally the best gift of God to man,—that all his happiness
flowed from it,—that now, from this greatest blessing sprung our
keenest misfortunes and sorrows. It went on to describe the
wretchedness of a man who, having fixed his affections on the
earthly, has not the heavenly to turn to when they are taken away.
"I thought it strange you should have chosen to send me such
a subject,—I, who was then so well content with the earthly, so
wrapt round with the love and the brotherhood that I had chosen.
"But I read on. There is a Friend. It described
the sympathy of Christ with all human suffering; among others, with
that restless worm, remorse. It described the bitterness of
heart under which I was then suffering, and offered the tenderness
of that Friend as a precious substitute for the loss of all others.
"Dreux, you must not interrupt me now. I know what you
mean. I see plainly that you will still be my friend.
Since it is so I will not gainsay you. It was only for your
own sake that I wanted to have it otherwise. Well, I had often
said to myself that there was nothing I would not do to relieve
myself from the intolerable restlessness that oppressed me; but I
had never thought of the religion which you had taken care I should
(theoretically) be well acquainted with. I went on reading,
and the notes unfolded the scheme of salvation, as you had so often
done before. It was familiar, and yet I could scarcely believe
that it was truly the same. If these things really were so,
how happy, I thought, for me.
"I rested my forehead upon my hands, and through the hours of
that long, sunny morning I began to think that though I had despised
these things when I was well with my own heart, yet now that I had
become vile and hateful in my own eyes, and now that all peace and
happiness were over and I was utterly alone, perhaps they might
prove a solace to me,—the more so, I thought, because they were
"The longer I sat there the more these thoughts pressed upon
me. I was wretched. Here seemed an offer of peace.
If, without any merit or fitness of my own, I could be forgiven, I
thought it would be a blessed thing, and every sound that reached me
in that lonely place seemed to be burdened with the words, 'There is
a Friend.' In my own esteem I was far less worthy to apply to
this Friend than I had been in the days of my prosperity. I
was no murderer then.
"I thought of this a while longer. 'But no,' I said,
'there is no other way. I will try this. I will set my
foot on board this ark of refuge. If I remain thus I must
perish, and if I go forward I can but die.'
"My soul assented to the certainty of that truth of which you
had so often reminded me, that no amendment of life could atone for
committed sin, and make a man the more fit to ask forgiveness.
I thought the only hope was to throw myself on the pity of God for
the past and the future, through that Friend whom I now perceived to
be more desirable, more excellent than the sons of men.
"I do not remember that I uttered any distinct petition
beyond those verses of Scripture which presented themselves to me.
"I read the rest of your notes; they set forth the goodness
of that heavenly Friend. I perceived (and not without
something like surprise, Dreux) that my sins had been against Him,
and in the silence of the place, I prayed for mercy and forgiveness.
To my bitter remorse for past sins was added a new, overpowering
sorrow,—a scarcely understood affection for that heavenly Friend
began to dawn in my heart. I remembered that passage of
Scripture, and assented to it in the depths of my soul, 'They shall
look upon Him whom they have pierced, and mourn.'"
After a short silence, he went on again,—
"Why need this distress you? I am telling you of the
most blessed period of my life. I went down to the farm-house,
where I lodged. My sorrow was mingled with astonishment that I
should never have seen these things before. I remembered continually
more and more of the conversations we had had together. Your
words seemed now to have a new application. I wondered how it was,
not knowing that the natural man cannot discern the things of the
Spirit of God, because they are spiritually discerned.
"I felt that night very unwell, though not so restless as
usual. The next day one of the children of the house was taken
extremely ill with fever, and in the evening the mother sickened.
I would have left the house, but the illness I had felt the day
before increased upon me. I did not know what was the matter,
but as far as I was capable of it in my then condition, I enjoyed a
kind of peace. In the middle of the night, both I and the
mistress of the house were raving with delirium; it proved to be
smallpox. The country Doctor was sent for; the cases were
dangerous. I was neglected, and left much to myself,—nearer
interests pressed upon the poor people. I was often delirious,
but my distracted fancy was always constant to one theme. I
had no hope but in Christ. I had put off the burden upon Him,
and had said, 'Undertake for me.' The woman of the house died,
and a child; the other child and I slowly recovered. I could
scarcely speak a word of Welsh, and they knew no English. The
accommodation was most wretched, but God's mercy spared me to live
and praise Him, and even to preach His Gospel to others.
During the tedious weeks of my recovery I thought much and
earnestly. The Holy Scriptures were my constant solace.
The offer of free salvation became a certain, most undoubted fact to
me. I closed with it, and received peace.
"The surgeon who had attended me wished me to go south;
therefore I came into Cornwall, and finding the vicar of this place
willing to be friendly with me, I helped him a little during the
winter, and now he is ill, I take all the duty for him."
Having brought his narrative to this point, he got up and
walked about the room, almost surprised to see how powerfully it had
moved his friend. It was so familiar to himself that he had
uttered it with calmness, and the former events especially had been
so long present to his mind that to put them into words was a relief
instead of a pain to him.
THE meeting was
over, and in the dusk of evening they walked home together towards
Allerton, who seemed inexpressibly relieved now that he had
unburdened his mind, talked with something of his old cheerfulness;
but there was one subject on which he did not touch, though several
good opportunities had been given him. Dreux felt that it was
not for him to be the first to mention his sister; and as his next
greatest wish with regard to Allerton was to have him back at
Westport, he introduced that subject, and began earnestly to urge
Allerton, who seemed to take pleasure in being entreated,
allowed him to go on for a long while. At length he appeared
convinced, and said, certainly it did seem a duty to come and preach
against those errors which he had formerly approved.
"And I want a curacy," said Dreux, laughing.
"What! you do? But you told me that you would not go
back to Westport,"—for Dreux had related much of the quarrel between
Hewly and himself in the morning. "Dreux, you could not be my
curate,—you, so much my superior in standing, in experience, in
everything. I could not consent to that."
"You had rather see me some other man's curate? You
seriously think I should be better off as curate in some place where
I am unknown, and under some other man?"
Allerton reflected a while, and decided to close with the
offer. He could then see that he did not overwork himself; it
would give him an opportunity to live down the calumnies which had
been raised against him; and as he himself felt all the awkwardness
of changing his side in a place where he was so well known, he
perceived the advantage of a friend like Dreux to back him. It
pained him to think of standing in such a position towards him: but
he reflected on his altered prospects. With whom, he thought,
would he feel them so little as with himself? Who, from
feelings of either affection or duty, would naturally and inevitably
care for him so unceasingly? His health might now be very
different to what it had been; who would be so quick to observe
it—who would have so much hold over him? "For," Allerton
thought, "for my sake he will try to keep well; he will have the
pleasure of companionship which he values,—for this, which I must
feel, and bitterly, to the end of my days, seems not at all to have
struck him as I should have thought; he has as much confidence in me
as ever. Well, I will accept his offer, and all the advantages
it brings with it."
"Dreux, if nothing better presents itself for you, I shall be
heartily glad to accede to your proposal."
"You were so long considering that I was about to withdraw
"I had much rather be your curate. You shall do just as
you please, Dreux."
"Shall I? But mind you don't let me domineer over you,
Allerton. Your curates have an easy life of it. I often
thought at Westport, that to be your curate, and let you do the
work, was as gentlemanly an opening for the ambition of a lazy young
M.A. as could be desired."
"Well, it gives me pleasure to hear you laugh, even at my own
expense. I hope your sister is well?"
Both parties had been thinking of her for some time;
nevertheless, Dreux started on hearing her name.
"She has been ill," he replied, with rather a constrained
manner, for he did not know how Allerton now might feel towards her.
"Not very ill?"
"Yes, in great danger; but she is much better."
"If I had known that, I believe I must have written."
"I still cannot understand why you did not write to me months
"Not even now, Dreux, when we have got upon this subject?"
"I would have written, if I had been you."
"If I had written, what could I have told you?"
"Part of what you told me this morning; no one could so much
rejoice to hear it. Did you give me credit for no anxiety
"And if I had written so much, what would you have expected
my next step to be?"
"Perhaps to return."
"Dreux, you answer with as much hesitation as if you thought
it possible for a man who had heartily loved a woman to forget her
in six months. If I could have done that, I could and would
have written to you; even as it was, I thought of doing so
continually. I had constant arguments with myself; but the new
religion was precious, for it had raised me out of the very mire of
despair. How, then, could I make it a stepping-stone whereby
to obtain what I could not hope to have without it? Dreux, if
I could so far have departed from uprightness of mind as to do that,
I should have begun next to question the very reality of the change
which had passed upon me. Even if you had received my tale
with the most unquestioning faith, it would have availed me nothing.
I must have endured the lifelong doubts and dreads of an at least
"My dear Allerton," Dreux answered, "you acted duly detailed;
and if, after that, you think I have any chance—I mean you to tell
her of the horse—of our quarrel"—
"And how you saved my life. Well, if you desire it, I
will. You shall find a letter waiting for you at Portsmouth."
Early on Monday morning he reached Southampton, and, after
arranging to speak at a Meeting there on Wednesday, crossed over to
the Isle of Wight and went on to Shanklin. Elinor was quite
blooming, and in easy spirits. It was some time since they had
met, and there was much to be said; but there was an early dinner
ordered, for their aunt retained the old-fashioned notion that no
one could "come off a journey" without being quite famished.
As much as possible, therefore, of this dinner had to be consumed,
and a great many questions of Miss Theresa's answered, before they
could think of going out; but at length they effected a move, and,
leaving the old lady to doze in her chair, walked forth to explore
There, as they sat under the trees, talking about his
travels, he quietly introduced Allerton's name, described their
meeting, and his own sensations on hearing him preach.
Elinor listened with intense interest.
"I thought it singular," he added, "that Allerton should have
made no effort to renew our friendship."
"If I had been you," said Elinor, "I should have felt very
much hurt." And not all her joy at seeing her brother could
make her feel at ease.
He then went on to describe, as well as his agitation would
permit, the after-events of the evening: how Allerton had saved his
life, at the peril of his own. He next repeated their
morning's conversation; and, as he had been desired, gave Allerton's
self-accusations, as well as the facts of the quarrel; but told by
him, and touched with his feelings towards the actor, they certainly
Elinor was tolerably self-possessed; she said nothing, and
kept hoping there would be some slight reference to herself, but her
brother neither mentioned Allerton's intended visit, nor his
acknowledgment of continued attachment. While she sat
reflecting, he told her how he had persuaded Allerton to return to
Westport, and that he intended to be his curate.
Thereupon followed a long silence.
"How does Mr. Allerton look?" said Elinor, breaking it at
"Perfectly well, but not precisely the same. When I saw
him in the pulpit, I perceived that he had become calmer. You
know he has naturally high spirits and a cheerful
disposition,—doubtless he has still; but, when he was not agitated
by the things he had to tell, he looked exactly like that little
portrait which, no doubt, you remember."
He took the little picture from his pocket and into the
dining-room, shut the door, and asked him to give her the picture,
which he did at once, without smiling or appearing to see anything
odd in her request. He then went up stairs to talk to his
aunt, leaving her to her own reflections.
She stood some time below, scarcely thinking of anything
connectedly, but pleased to look at the little picture. At
length, having secured it in a safe place, she walked slowly
upstairs and opened the door of the drawing-room; her entrance, she
observed, put a stop to a conversation which had been going on
between her brother and her aunt, but, as the latter was extremely
fond of cooking up little insignificant mysteries and having private
conferences, she thought nothing of it.
"And what sort of a looking man is he, Arthur?" she heard her
aunt say. "Is he handsome?"
"Handsome—well, no; I don't think he is—not exactly."
"But can't you give me the least notion?—he's not a pokey-looking,
little knock-kneed fellow, I hope? and I hope he's not a—what I call
sanctified black hair, parted down the middle, and turn-up-eyed man,
"No; he's a fine, well-grown man, with an erect figure."
"Dear me, have you no better talent for description than
that, Arthur? Has he a good voice?—has he insinuating
"Insinuating manners, aunt!" exclaimed Elinor, laughing,
"what an idea! Have you hired him, Arthur?"
"Hired him!" repeated the said Arthur, turning round with a
look of genuine bewilderment.
"You are talking of the new footman, are you not?"
"Do you think my aunt would take so much interest in a
Elinor nodded and smiled, for she had heard little for the
last week but conjectures as to what this redoubtable footman would
be like, he having been recommended by her brother, and not yet
inspected by his proposed mistress.
As Elinor stood winding a skein of silk upon the backs of two
chairs, Dreux came up to her, lifted her face, and kissed her with a
"My dear, I'm afraid you are a little blunder-headed thing,"
he said. "At any rate you have a curious habit of jumping at
conclusions, like the rest of your sex."
"Then he is a good-looking man, Arthur?" continued Mrs.
Theresa. "I hope you wouldn't deceive me in that respect?"
"Aunt, you'll be charmed with him."
"And that's really all you have to say about him?"
"Unless it would interest you to know that he weighs about a
stone more than I do?"
"Ah, you men are all alike. You delight to teaze."
"Dear aunt," said Elinor, still thinking of the footman, "if
he is honest and does his work well, what does it matter how he
looks in livery? I hope he will clean the plate better than
The entrance of the said Simpson with the tea-things made a
diversion in the conversation. They had a very silent meal,
the aunt for once being deep in thought,—so deep, that she actually
never observed that Elinor, in a fit of abstraction, had let the urn
overflow the teapot.
It was still quite early, and Dreux took his sister out again
for a walk on the beach. She wished to prolong it, but he was
in a fidget, and kept consulting his watch that they might not be
out later than half-past eight. However, they went on the
water for half an hour, and it was beginning to get both chilly and
dusk when they reached the house. As they entered the door, he
said, suddenly, "Oh, Elinor, I expect a friend this evening. I
suppose he can get a bed somewhere in the village?"
"Undoubtedly!" she answered. "Who is it?"
"Who is it?" he replied, with a lurking smile in his eyes.
"Oh, it's a clerical friend of mine." Having given this
information, he began to hum a tune, and Elinor did not say another
They found Mrs. Theresa in a very impatient state. "She
really had supposed Arthur had more sense than to stay out so late.
In fact, the many frights he had given her about his sister when he
was a boy were enough to make any watchful aunt afraid to trust him.
Such pranks, indeed! Since the day when she had come home
without her shoe"—
"But I 'm not a boy now, aunt, and you need not fear, I
"Ah, it's very well to talk; but it gave me quite a turn,
quite a palpitation when you were so late in. Shall I ever forget
the day, Elinor, when he singed your hair with the curling-irons?
'What a wonderful smell of hair there is, ma'am,' Morris said to me.
(Morris is a careful creature.) Up we both go to the very top
of the house; she enters the nursery door first and gives a great
"'Oh, ma'am, Master Arthur!'
"And there he was in all his glory, as grave as a judge, and,
the pretty lamb! all the curls singed off her dear head. Bless
her heart! how angry I was!
"'I'll tell you what, Molyneux,' I said to his father, 'if
that boy doesn't disgrace the name of Dreux before he's done—' but
he only laughed, poor man. That was in 18—. I really
forget the date, but I remember it was only a few months before his
death. 'Ah,' I said to him when his papa died, 'no wonder poor
papa's gone to heaven, such a naughty boy as you are. It's all
your fault.' And I shall never forget how he cried, and
screamed, and tried to get into the room."
Having brought these lively recollections to a close, the old
lady got up, and remarking that it was past the half-hour,
"I think I shall ask for your arm now, Arthur, and go up
stairs, that I may be out of the way."
"Oh, then, my aunt knows that someone is coming," thought
Elinor, getting really agitated. "Is it possible that it can
be Mr. Allerton?"
When her brother came in, he stood looking out of the window,
and she sat upon a couch, unable to enter into conversation.
"What time do you expect your friend?" she said at length, in
what was meant to be a careless tone.
"Just at nine o'clock," he replied, and Elinor's heart began
to beat quick, for it wanted but ten minutes to the time.
"Here he is, Elinor," said her brother, turning from the
window, and at the same instant there was a loud knock at the
"Oh, don't let him come in yet," cried Elinor, and scarcely
knowing what she said, she hastily rose and ran across the room to
her brother, threw her arms round him, as if to prevent his leaving
the room, and burst into tears, her face quite pale from the rapid
beating of her heart.
Elinor heard the door open,—her brother held her to him with
one arm, and held out his other hand to some one who was advancing
into the room. The new comer said not a word. Elinor did
not attempt to raise her face, and wept more than ever.
"Do try to be more calm, my dearest," said her brother, as
the guest stood a little withdrawn.
Elinor made an attempt to recover herself, but did not raise
her face, and remained still clinging to him, as if she had been
threatened with every danger that ever was heard of.
"I have something to say to you, Elinor. I have a
favour to ask of you. You will not refuse me? Lift up
your face, and listen."
Elinor raised her face.
"I have a favour to ask of you," he continued, "shall I tell
you what it is?"
She managed to answer "Yes," and he went on.
"I have a friend, who is extremely dear to me,—I could
scarcely tell you how dear, unless I could explain every reason why
he should be. It would make me very happy to give him some
token of my affection. I possess only one thing which seems to
me of sufficient value to mark the strength of my regard. If I
thought you would permit me to give this one thing to him"—
Elinor, surprised, lifted her face again, and, dusk as it
was, she saw enough to know who the person standing by her must be.
Her brother drew away the hand by which she still held him,
and said, "Let me tell you what it is that I wish to give him.
Look, it is this."
Elinor looked earnestly in his face. The surprise made
"Does silence give consent?" he asked, after waiting for an
Elinor now did not choose to speak, but released her hold of
her brother, permitting him to put her hand into that of the
stranger, who, thereupon, found his voice, and as she seemed
inclined to listen to him, her brother left them to finish the
interview by themselves.
He walked on the beach till eleven. When he returned he
was not sorry to find that Elinor had retired. Allerton met
him on the lawn before the house. He was about to return to
the inn for the night. Dreux was glad to find him in a silent
mood, and they parted with a mutual smile of intelligence.
The next morning he rose very early, for he intended to walk
to Ryde, and pass over to Gosport, where he had to speak that
morning. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon when he
returned to Shanklin by the stage, and found his sister and Allerton
waiting for him at the rural inn.
Elinor and her aunt were seated in a little pony-chaise.
The latter was very anxious to proceed with her airing, and Elinor
had no sooner seen her brother and shaken him by the hand, than she
was obliged to leave him with Allerton and accompany her aunt.
Allerton's face showed that all was going on to his satisfaction.
He turned round so often to watch the pony-carriage, that their
progress towards the house was slow. At length, when it was
quite out of sight, Dreux .said to him, "Well, I suppose everything
goes on favourably, Allerton."
"Reasonably so, my dear fellow. But, Dreux, you look
uncommonly well to-day!"
"I have nothing on my mind now. I have not felt so well
for months. But how you turn from the subject, Allerton!"
"Have you had the head-ache since we parted?"
"Not once. I have thought with regret of what I said
concerning my health. I now believe it was nothing but anxiety
about you and Elinor which prevented my feeling as well as I ever
did in my life."
Allerton looked gratefully at him.
"And after this bulletin I suppose I may inquire whether
anything is decided!"
"Yes, we have decided that you shall perform the ceremony."
"The ceremony!" cried the brother-in-law elect; "well, that
is getting on very fast indeed."
To which Allerton replied with this remarkable piece of
advice: "Whenever you have a favour to ask of a lady, my dear
fellow, take my advice,—don't be humble. I began with that
feeling, and I found it a bad one.
"She remarked, that six months was the shortest engagement
she could think of. I was dejected, but I gave in. Then
she thought the arrangements could not be made in less than a year.
At last, when this had gone on some time, I suddenly thought
rebellion might have a good effect. 'And pray, Mr. Allerton,'
she said, 'how long a time do you propose?' 'Since you ask me,
Miss Dreux,' I answered, 'I think six weeks would be a reasonable
time.' She was astonished at my presumption, but I persisted.
Then I proposed a compromise;—we were to meet each other half-way,
and say three months. In fact, instead of giving way, I
declared I would not wait any longer, and she instantly succumbed.
After which she remarked that she particularly liked your old house
at Westport, so I am going to try if I can get it, and shall have it
furnished as fast as I can."
"You succumb, in that respect, to her wishes, then."
"Of course. She wishes the library-curtains to be
green, Dreux, as they used to be,—green damask. The
dining-room is to have a Turkey carpet."
"I am afraid your first rebellion will be your last.
Really, you bid fair to be a very reasonable—that is, a very
"In all little things, of course, I shall give way."
"Of course, such little things as houses, furniture,
servants, society, et cetera."
Allerton laughed. "I have fought for my own way once,"
he observed, "and got it. I have made Elinor agree, that
whenever the house is ready, she will be ready to occupy it.
She thinks that will be three months; I know it will not be quite
two. Having begun with firmness, I now feel that I may venture
"You begin with firmness! If ever you show
firmness enough to insist upon Elinor's doing any one thing that she
doesn't like, may I be there to see!"
It was not long before Mrs. Theresa returned to the house
with her niece, and Dreux spent the rest of the evening in admiring
Allerton's admirable tactics with the old lady.
He had already managed to win her over to his side, and to
the astonishment of Elinor, and the amusement of Dreux, he contrived
to get her assent and consent to everything he proposed. He
was not at all what is popularly called a man to "let the grass grow
under his feet;" and when he turned from the aunt to indulge in a
little talk with the niece, Mrs. Theresa expressed, by many nods and
knowing looks to her nephew, how much she was pleased with his
"And a thorough gentleman he looks," she whispered, "though
he tells me his great-grandfather was a cheesemonger!"
"Did you ask him the question, aunt?"
"No; but I was just letting him know something about our
family, you know, Arthur, my dear;—about the Holy Wars, and "William
the Conqueror, and all that."
"Yes; no use letting him think we 're a plebeian race.
And so he laughed, and told me that of his own accord."
"Yes, and his grandfather was knighted. He was an
Alderman of London, very rich. I forget what his father was."
"A clergyman, aunt."
"Humph! he seems very fond of Elinor. I wish he would
come away from the piano,—I want to ask him a few more questions;
and really, Arthur, you are quite stupid to-night. And so you
are going to remain at Westport, after all?"
"Yes, I am going there with Allerton the day after
Accordingly, the day after to-morrow, about six of the clock
p.m., to the unbounded astonishment of Westport, Dreux and Allerton
were seen sauntering up and down the square of grass before the
almshouses, "just for all the world" (as the first old woman who
spied them felicitously expressed it) "as if nothing had happened."
There they were, in the body, and presently the heads of some
two or three hundred old men and women were to be seen behind their
bright casements, peering at them. They were both great
favourites;—Allerton, because, they said, he had such a free way
with him; Dreux, because, since he was gone, as they thought, for
ever, they had discovered his good qualities, real and imaginary.
They walked nearly an hour in the evening sunshine, and no
one interrupted them; then, exactly as the church clock struck
seven, they turned into the back lane which ran behind the garden of
Allerton's house, and went away together.
The news soon flew all over the town, and everybody called on
Allerton, partly, perhaps, hoping to hear what had detained him so
long. But how common is disappointment in this world!
Allerton and Dreux were always found together; consequently, neither
could be asked any question about the other, and the callers
departed as wise as they came, saving that they saw no symptoms of
their having quarrelled, and shrewdly suspected that they had been
wrong in their former conjectures on that head; they also were
conscious of a certain change in Allerton's manner,—he was less
impetuous, more calm and guarded. Sunday, they thought, would
separate this David and Jonathan, and then, perhaps, something might
be made out of them to satisfy curiosity.
Sunday, however, came, and brought fresh surprise.
Allerton read prayers in his own church, and Dreux preached for him.
Astonishing! he sat as still as a stone, as immovable as one of the
pillars, in his desk, while Dreux was making every arch and aisle
echo with his eloquence overhead.
And yet it was obvious to the more acute that Allerton's
calmness was constrained, and that he was ill at ease. There
was a certain restless excitement in the flash of his eyes if he
chanced to raise them for an instant, and a certain steadiness of
expression, which made him look like a man who had nerved himself up
to the performance of some difficult duty, and who could not breathe
freely till it was over.
So the gossips thought, and they were right. Who does
not know the shame of avowing an utter change of principles, of
contradicting former assertions, and avowing former mistakes,—a
shame felt quite as strongly by those who turn round from pure
motives as those who change from interested ones. In politics,
it requires courage in the man who changes sides to get up and avow
it before his late constituents; how much more in religion, where
any change is so much more important, it requires courage to avow
former error, and disenchant those listeners who were well enough
satisfied with the teaching of the past?
As the people had expected, in the evening Dreux read
prayers. The church was densely crowded by puzzled foes and
alarmed friends. Allerton did not keep them long in suspense.
At Dreux's request, he had chosen a text which, in the excited,
attentive state of all present, could not fail to tell them the
truth concerning this matter the moment he uttered it. His
evident sensation of agitation at first interfered with the
clearness of his utterance, but in a few minutes he recovered his
self-possession, and preached a sermon which fully confirmed the
worst fears of his late friends.
There was nothing remarkable in it, excepting the state of
feeling with which it was uttered and listened to. He never
alluded to himself, or to his change of views. He was not at
all an eloquent man, and heard from the lips of another, and on an
ordinary occasion, his sermon might have passed without exciting any
interest or observation, and have faded away from the memory of its
hearers with the thousand other appeals which are lost and
forgotten. But heard on such an occasion, when the nerves of
both speaker and listeners were strained, it could not fail to
possess an interest far greater than either eloquence or power could
have given it: it was the painful parting from old friends, the
anxious holding out of the hand to new ones. But Allerton was
destined to find, as some others have done, that though his own
party were forward at once to cast him off, the opposite one was shy
of receiving him.
Dreux also was destined to prove that no man, however popular
he has been, or however necessary he has seemed in a place, can
leave it even for a short time, and returning, take up his old
position. His friends had been excited about him when he left
them, and in their expressions of regret and esteem on that
occasion, they had exhausted all they felt for him. He now
returned to find that they were already accustomed to do without
him, and that his place, however inadequately, was filled.
Allerton's natural cheerfulness returned when once he had
honestly given utterance to his new feelings. And Dreux was
too well pleased with him, with Elinor's prospects, and the hope of
remaining at Westport,—which, for many reasons, he wished to do for
the present,—to think much about what degree of popularity he was
likely to possess. Besides, he had not finished half his work
for the Society before mentioned, and, before he had seen another
Sunday at Westport, he was obliged to leave Allerton and proceed to
During the next six weeks he twice made a flying visit to the
Isle of Wight, to see how his brother-in-law elect proceeded with
his wooing. Mrs. Dorothy Silverstone had been invited to spend
a few weeks with Mrs. Theresa, and while Allerton wooed the young
lady, the two old ones wooed him. Never was man made so much
of. His voice, his hair, his walk, his house, his pedigree,
were subjects of never-ceasing discussion and interest; they almost
rivalled Elinor's wedding dresses, some of which, by the bye, they
made him choose; and he was discovered one morning by Dreux, with a
milliner's book full of patterns of silk in his hand, and a very
puzzled expression on his face, while he tried to decide between the
merits of brocade, glacé, shot and
striped silk, and betrayed, by his deliberate choice, the most
horrid taste, selecting the largest patterns and the most gaudy
colours he could find.
It has lately been discovered by the learnèd
that weddings are pretty nearly all alike. The ceremony does
not admit of much variety; it must either be read or chanted; and
though (entirely for the sake of variety) we have heard of one or
two marriages lately which have been conducted by three or four
clergymen, we do not think even one of these would be worth
If weddings are alike, so must descriptions of them partake
of a certain sameness. When you have heard whether the bride behaved
well, and whether any good speeches were made at the breakfast, you
have heard all that is worth hearing.
On the occasion of Elinor's wedding she behaved extremely
ill, that is to say, she wept in the church and at the breakfast,
though she had no one to take leave of but her aunt, who certainly
betrayed no answering emotion. As for Allerton, it is a
well-known fact, that on the occasion of his marriage, a retiring,
silent, and even a gloomy man will pluck up courage, and often make
a speech that will astonish everybody. But nobody ever heard
either a hilarious man, a rattle, or an affectionate, merry-hearted
fellow, open his lips on that day without breaking down, stammering,
contradicting himself, or betraying great alarm. Allerton did
all this, and yet he sat down with the applause of the company!
But the company, notwithstanding, were glad when that tedious
morning was over, and the bride and bridegroom fairly off; for in
spite of Elinor's involuntary weeping, and Allerton's nervousness,
they were not in any fear for their happiness, for they perceived
that the latter had no sooner handed his bride into the carriage
than he became himself again, and as for the former, when once the
dreaded publicity was over, her face recovered its smiling