|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||Love Stronger than Death|
LOVE STRONGER THAN DEATH.
By the Author of " Whitefriars,' "The Matrimonial Vanity Fair," &c.
LET it be considered that the pursuing ruffian was Horsemonger Jack; and not only was there the innate ferocity of his nature to be encountered and dealt withal. He was drunk—
savagely, madly, unmercifully drunk ! A state of beatitude, indeed, to which he always con signed himself when he had the means; possibly to drown some horrors of guilt and remorse, even in his hardened breast. But it usually rendered him yet more of a wild beast of prey than he was by nature, and ready to devour and destroy. And it seemed the poor child had awakened his drunken ire, in conse quence of his frightened blind wife—at least, the woman he lived with as such—laying the blame of her not having worked sufficiently at her basket-weaving to procure him some further means of brutish enjoyment he had calculated upon on the, harmless child. He had refused, she said, to go out into the cold and gather rushes. And it was between this frenzied ruffian and his tiny victim that my wife threw herself, with the most determined resolution to protect the child from his violence, at whatever danger to herself. Most fortunately, the ruffian himself was struck with a kind of panic on the appearance of my wife, with her covered-up head, between him and his prey. He gave a sort of yell of dismay, stopped short, and let his ruthless weapon fall. Perhaps he took her for an apparition of that other most injured young mother; and he con tinued in a shake and tremble long after Mrs. Diamond had let him discern the realities of the case, by removing her shawl, and addressing him in her own tones and accents —in terms, indeed, of the severest womanly reproof and in dignation. But he continued seemingly too surprised and alarmed to make any retort, beyond a few mumbled excuses against the perverseness and laziness of the cnrsed little pauper. Nor did he attempt any opposition when my wife, catching at the words, intimated that, as the child was not his, he could have no right to hinder what she intended doing, even if his brutality would not forfeit the nearest right, supposing him to have possessed it. And, taking the affrighted innocent by the hand, she stated her determi nation to the scowling Herod of leading it home with her, add, whatever happened else, never allowing it to return to the custody of such a brutal taskmaster, whatever the fellow's position with the parish pauper infants' in general might he. She returned, accordingly, with little Willy— for it was no other, be sure—tripping joyfully by her side, and dancing with happiness at the assurance that he should never be forced back to that place of terror and ill-usage any more. And it may be thought, when I recognised the poor little fellow, and heard the amazing providence described with the most rational and aisured calmness on the part of the admir able mother of my own dear little one—when I saw my Serapha herself toddle out to meet us from her slumbers on the chair, throw her tiny arms round the orphan lad's neck, and ask if " dat was her poor little brudder came back again to us from heaven." It may be thought, I ss>y, that I did not refuse the poor thing the shelter and protection my wife demanded of her fond husband for it, even in the name of our common humanity alone, but also in that of the Father of Orphans Himself. I vowed, in fact, that I would rather fight the burly ruffian, man to man, however inferior I wasinthewandbulk, than suffer him to resume his tyrannical possession and cruelties on that un fortunate little carcasß, which we found covered with bruises and wounds ; and not only from his ferocious infliction, but the old woman's also, miscalled the pauper child's nurse. In truth, the whole family seemed to have a special spite against Willy, for I did not hear they ill-treated the other children in the old woman's charge in anything a like degree. And it is probable the little fellow's connection with the tragical event which had proved the ruin of the Deverell dependents, as well as signalised the completion of their worthy patron, gave them an extra sort of bad feeling and relent lessness towards him. I was right in one calculation I made in con* sequence of this brutality exercised—that Horse monger Jack would not dare appeal againßt my interference to the parish authorities, and en deavor to resume possession of his victim. He dared not challenge the explanations I would assuredly have publicly made, in defence of my own and my wife's conduct, if a parish ever needed any for having an orphan pauper taken off its rates. We had no further trouble on the subject for some time forward ; and the more I discovered of the loving, active disposition, lively talents, and beauty of the orphan child—which came out wonderfully when my wife, with her own soft hands had given him his first gentle wash ing, and put him in an impossibly reduced old suit of my painting-room velvets, in my dandy days—the better pleased I was with what she ami I had done in his behalf. There was a mysterious interest, besides, with both of us in connection with this child. But neither of us ever for long after, I think, again alluded to the circumstances of the visitation each believed to have experienced from the supernatural world on his account, after I had exchanged experiences with Mrs. Diamond. It seemed too sacred and awful a fact to become the subject of household gossip. And when Emily had ascertained for herself—as she speedily did—the dreadful legend of the lad's maternal orphanage, she seemed more than ever averse to speak on the matter. Only she told me more than once— " Depend upon it, George, we do not know the whole truth yet, nor have we seen the end of it." She was right, and yet the " end of it" was ? apparent at the time, nor any solution ofcthe fearful mystery of the Red Stable made tangible by* aught that had occurred. And we were neither enlightened nor molested by any further intercourse with that troubled mother's spirit for a good time after. * AH seemed going on well, when the circum i stance I must next narrate occurred. I should premise that I had had tha curiosity to verify some part of Horsemonger Jack's revelations in our scene together, so far as re lated to the Flammock family. I learned, from more reliable sources, that Mifls Flammock—a young lady of marked intel lectual ability and accomplishments—remained unmarried to now near her twenty-ninth year,
with her father, on account of her attachment to Captain Deverell ; a person whose union with her he had disapproved to the extent of declar ing his intention to disinherit her if ehe carried it out. During the captain's exile of seven years, Miss Flammock had remained true to her early affection and engagement. But the rascally jockey had truly stated that Sir John Flam mock's ill health rendered it likely he would not long remain an obstacle to the lovers' wishes ; but he was supposed to be gradually yielding to his daughter's devotion to a suitor whom the moat partial spoke of as unworthy in all re spects but personal beauty of the noble-minded woman. It was destined that I should myself be con vinced of the unalterable character of this senti ment towards its undeserving object, supposing that only true which was certainly and publicly established against the handsome and ruined turf gambler of Deverell Ward. One day, when I was busy brightening to a yet more formidable glare the lurid reflection of the armour of my William the Conqueror, in my " Battle of Hastings," with the sunset of the memorable day, typical of the fortunes of Saxon England, upon it, old Claymore came to me from the house, with a statement that a lady on horseback, but without a groom, had called there, and desired to see me. She had declined an offer to go into the house, and wait while I was sent for ; saying her busi ness was with the gentleman, who, she was given to understand, was an eminent artist, and with him alone. I came at once, and, as I approached the lady, perceived very clearly that she was one of distinction; of a very tall person, but with in different features, cast in too large and strong a mould for a woman, and very sallow, and darkened in the lines, as if by effects of corrod ing anxiety. And over all was spread an ex pression of languor and weariness, which seemed to have taken from her either the will or power to sit upright in the saddle. I do not know how it was, but before she had in the least let fall anything that could declare the fact, I said to myself, " This is Miss Flam mock." She was, indeed, a good while before she mentioned her name, merely stating in a com plimentary manner that, having heard of my abilities as an artist, she desired exceedingly for me to do her the favor to paint a life-size por trait of her, exactly as I saw her then, on horse back, and in a riding habit. " It is for a person," she added, with a faint blush, " who is very fond of horses—most par ticularly so, in fact—and will like best to Bee me in that way. Not my fatherI —l am Miss Flammock, of Flammock Hall—but another dear friend ; and as I am specially desirous to surprise him with the gift, I trust I can depend upon you, Mr. Diamond, to keep my intentions and their execution a secret until I—until we— until I shall myself give you leave to declare the fact." I was interested in the unhappy lady's ap pearance, and pleased by her courteous manner, which seemed to ask a favor in conferring one. But I had a suspicion whom the portrait was meant for, and did not like that, nor the clan destine style of proceeding marked out. How ever, when I politely—though coldly, I fancy expressed my acquiescence, Miss Flammock took me at once upon my word, and seemed desirous to lose no time whatever. " If you have canvas to begin a sketch of me pray let us begin at once—to-day," she said " The friend to whom I wish to forward the work complains terribly how long it is since he has seen me, and will have it. He must have some refresher for his memory ere he learne wholly to forget me. 1 have got an hour tc Bpare for the purpose. My father is better to day, and has gone out to visit one of his farme in his carriage. I am only to meet him at five, at Deverell toll-bar, where I can easily ride smartly in half an hour." I made no objection, and assuring her thai she had no occasion to dismount, or make any alteration in her picturesque riding-dress, with its black velvet hat and scarlet feather, but could ride into my extensive studio, and take up a position there for the sketch, I pointed out the way, and preceded by a few short steps to open the Bed Stable door wider than was, of course, necessary for my own movements in and out. But while I was completing this arrangement, I suddenly heard a great clattering on the stones of the precinct, and, looking back, I perceived that Miss. Flammock's horse was rearing wildly, snorting, and glaring, with its large eyes dilated to twice their proper size, before it. In fact, such a picture of terror and refusal in the view of some terrible object that at once struck upon me the conviction how unapproachably nature excels art, in the contrast of the frenzy and horror of the attitude at once assumed by this living, frighted creature, and that which I had so laboriously worked out upon my canvas. And the restlessness continued to such an ex tent that, perfect horsewoman as she evidently was, Miss Flammock appeared to me in no little danger of being unseated by her animal's des perate plunges and efforts not to respond to her impulse forward into the Red Stable. A struggle, indeed, commenced, of which I was for some time a really anxious and alarmed spec tator, especially as the young lady's temper seemed roused, and she applied the whip rather unsparingly to her steed's smarting flanks. Still, without effecting the object. It went through every variety of manoeuvre of which a well-bred and well-trained creature of the kind is capable rather than obey. But Miss Flam mock was equally obstinate. " Don't be alarmed for me, Mr. Diamond. I never knew Gentle Dick, as I call him, co per verse before. But I must get the better of him, or we shall never get him into the place at all; and I can't be painted, I suppose, in the open air," she said, resolutely. But, on a sudden, I noticed that she herself gave over the struggle, and stared, with an as tonished look, over the tossing neck and mane of her steed. " Dear me, Mr. Diamond!" she then exclaimed, , in an offended and much-surprised accent, " what can be the meaning of such antics as those (hat young woman yonder in the shadow is playing, and which are frightening the brute from his obedience ?—the young woman in the tattered red cloak, with that dreadfully bloodleßs face, whe keeps waiving us back like a mad crea ture from the horse-box there!" I was struck dumb for a moment. Then I answered, unadvisedly, perhaps, but, in my con sternation, hardly knowing what I said " Upon my honor, madam, there is no living creature within this place with me ; and, if you see anything, it is the justly-irritated apparition of the unhappy female who was murdered— yeß, who was murdered, I do verily believe—in the foulest and most barbarous manner possible,
in this building, though pretended by the agency of a brute like the one you cannot force now to cross this unhallowed threshold, either by coaxing or whip." Before I had well uttered theße words, I re pented them. I B aw that Mise Flammock turned of a deadly paleness. " You, also, then," she said, with passionate disdain in her tones, " share the unjust sus picions of my prejudiced father, and the scandal of the low, knavish wretches about here, whom the Deverells have always been obliged to coerce roughly into some decency of behaviour, and abstaining from downright open pillage of the Crown. lam sorry I have troubled you at all, therefore, but will not repeat my error." She drew the rain to turn her now very will ing steed's head, when I saw her put her hand to her own in a dizzy manner, and shudder and bend backward in the saddle as if falling over. Of course, I sprang forward, and gave what as sistance was in my power j and, as Misß Flam moek still continued ill, and complained of in creasing giddiness, I insisted on her going to the house, and alighting, to partake of some refreshment. I believe she was too much confused and Btricken in her own mind to make the refusal she otherwise might, and allowed me to lead the horse, and prop her occasionally, until we reached the gate of the house. By that time my wife, hearing something from one of the maidservants, came out, and anxiously shared my efforts to be of service in the restoration of my visitor to her composure. We prevailed upon Miss Flammock, but, I believe, rather from her own consciousness of inability to proceed than anything else, to alight and enter the house. But the very first use she made of some return of a feeling of the situation, under the influence of a cordial I ad ministered, was to burst into tears, and make an appeal to the kind, ministering fellow-woman beside her, against what she declared to be the hardness and injustice of a stranger against one of the noblest, though most unfortunate and persecuted of men. And hurriedly describing our scene at the Maria-Martin stabling, de manded, sobbingly, of my wife, whether I had not made a most ungentlemanly and unhand some jest of her, pretending that a miserable tramp girl, who, she supposed, was sitting to me as a model for some artistic purpose, was the phantom of an unfortunate, whose deplor able end had years before brought so much un merited obloquy on Captain Deverell and all about him ? Gentle as she was by nature and habit, my wife had a good deal of firmness also. Possibly she was not pleased at the disparaging question as regarded me. She answered, therefore, by an observation to the effect that, if Misß Flam mock had seen anything of the kind she men tioned, it must have been the Bpirit of an in jured and barbarously-maltreated young crea ture, whatever else she might be, and which could not rest, nor ever would, until her cruel murder was avenged, and her child, it might be, reinstated in its just rights and position. " What child ? What do you mean P Is thin a lunatic asylum, and are you all mad people here ?" Miss Flammock inquired, as wildly aa if she were herself entitled to a strait-jacket among us, in that case. But, precisely as she put the question, the two children—who had been out in the forest gathering blackberries, to amuse themselves, and compose the staple of a much-relished pud ding—entered, with their arms round each other's necks, and the little boy carrying a basketful of the fruit, eagerly Btretched out for his mammy's notice. So now he called Se rapha's mother his mother too! He was wonderfully improved in health and appearance, beautiful child as he had alwayt been. But the moment Miss Flammock cast eyes upon him, she shrieked aloud— " Good heaven! what is this? It is Deve rell'a very picture—his image—with the excep tion of the black eyes! Who can it be ?" "It is the murderer's son ? I do not doubt it now at all!" exclaimed my wife. "I am satisfied now, please or displease whom it may, that the poor young creature—the mother ol this hapless orphan— met her barbarous fate, il not by Captain Deverell's contrivance, by hit connivance or appointment, that he might marry a wealthy heiress, and repair the fortunes his prodigality had wasted with her gold." "If this child is that woman's infant, my father has been right all along in his hateful imputations, and Deverell is the most savage oi assassins, unworthy of any human woman's re gard!" shrieked Miss Flammock. And, rußhing forward, she seized the boy with such violence and ferocity, as it were, ol examination, that he wrenched himself away with more strength than seemed possible in so small a frame, and fled to my wife, screaming and crying for refuge. She covered him with her arms, and Serapha was at his side in an instant, shrieking to papa to save them both from the wicked lady who was trying to hurt her Willy dear. Even then she seemed not able to separate her childish destinies from the boy's. But Miss Flammock had by this time gained some composure, though she listened with a species of stupefaction rather than attention to the narrative my wife now thought it proper to make of the story of little Willy, 80 far as she herself or I were aware of it; and all the time I saw that she furtively, but with the most de vouring scrutiny, examined the child's face and figure in the minutest details. "Except the eyes—except the large, black, liquid eyes—he is Deverell's exact likeness and copy to a very camel's hair stroke!" we heard her murmur at last, after a considerable pause of silence had awaited her comment on the revelations made. "Those, I suppose—the eyes—are his wretched—yes, his murdered mistress'! —murdered to make me a wretched wife! lam convinced, if only by the dreadful vision I have myself seen to-day; and thus I tear him from my he art and memory together!" And she made a violent gesture, as if heaving some heavy weight from her chest; but at the same moment the unhappy lady sunk in a swoon ' on the floor. When she recovered from it, she seemed, however, to recover, in some marvellous manner, the firmness and obßtinacy of character which had hitherto supported her against her father's wishes, and, possibly, the convictions of her own powerful mind. She demanded to see the child again, whom my wife had—prudently, as I thought—removed from the room; and this time behaved to it with a caressing gentleness that speedily won upon the affectionate and generous nature of the little fellow. "I'll have two mammys, and so shall 'Apha!" he exclaimed, in delight.- "I ought to have two mammys, to make up for the one that was killed by the wild horse! Whenever I see her, she seems to smile, and say I shall j but
I hare not aeen her for a long time now. Ever since new mamma was so good to me." " Yes, dear boy, I will be bis second mamma. Yes, Mrs. Diamond, you must let me share your holy deed," Miss Flammock said; adding softly to herself, " I shall never be a mother now, unless to this poor orphan boy. I will do all I can to repair the mischief my wealth has already wrought the poor lad, Mrs. Diamond, with my wealth itself, when I have it in my power. And, alas ! I fear I did not regret the certainty that it soon will be so much this morn ing as I now do. Poor father! at what a cost of sorrow and watchfulness have you preserved me from a murderer's arms! Continue the mother you have hitherto been to him, dear, kind Mrs. Diamond. God will reward you, if nothing else does. I did not believe the story. I thought it was as I was told—as the villain, Horsemonger Jack, swore to me; and that the woman was an acquaintance of his own only. I did not even know che poor victim's infant sur vived ; but for his barbarous father, I renounce him for ever, and now!" She rose with dignity, and looked solemnly upwards, as she uttered the words; and upon my sacred truth, I did most distinctly hear at the moment, a sound like a long, melancholy float of music from an Eolian harp from the Bed Stables to my ears! Shortly afterwards, Miss Flammock took her departure, again on horseback, refusing all at tendance, and assuring ns she was quite well as before, and would speedily pay us and onr pretty little ones a visit again. It was the case, I have no doubt, that from that time she broke off all correspondence with Captain peverell; and that needy and desperate profligate, who imagined himself on the point of retrieving all he had lost, in a pecuniary sense, by the death of his enthralled heiress' progenitor, was forced to the conclusion that something had occurred to make his hopes illusory. At the same time, he might reasonably ap prehend that his demands for explanation never reached Miss Flammock—were intercepted, or that the usual channel of communication, Horsemonger Jack, had at last sold him to the father, in consequence of the failure of funds whioh followed, when Miss Flammook no longer devoted all her private resources to his emolu ment. Whatever the impulse, he determined to re turn to England, at every risk to his personal safety from his creditors, and ascertain what he had to fear. It was to thia resolution I was indebted, I suppose, for a visit I received, just as I was putting the last touches on my great picture of the "Battle of Hastings," and considering the best means of conveying it to London for ex hibition at the Academy. It was the nightfall of a windy, wet March day, in the spring following my arrival at Deve rell Lodge, when two persons presented them selves, under old Claymore's convoy, in my Btudio. Like Miss Flammock, they had refused to enter the house, and desired an interview with the " artist-gentleman " alone. But they had the civility to wait while the old soldier brought me word of their request, and I gave orders for their admission. One was a remarkably tall and elegantly made young man—" aristocratic," as the phrase runs, even to excess, in the refinement and grace of his appearance and manners. But a mo ment's consideration dissipated the first favor able impression. The originally extremely handsome face was bo deeply marked by the traces of evil passions and dissipation— to a degree, indeed, that involuntarily compelled me, in my own mind, to liken him to one ol Milton's fallen angels. The other who came with him, and whose odious physiognomy looked devil unredeemed in every sense, was Horsemonger Jack. Nor did I think his appearance at all improved by having changed his coarse country clothes for a misfitting groom's livery ; evidently all second hand. I knew Captain Deverell at once by his like ness to his boy, and I did not give him time to explain who he was before I pronounced the name, with a cold expression of my wish to know what had procured me the honor—with a peculiar stress on the word—of the visit ? He smiled bitterly, and folded his arms ovei a cloak he wore, as I thought at the time, to steady himself under some strong emotion. And I could see that his eyes peered forward into the gloom over the fatal stall of Hellfire Diet, with a fearful and yet earnestly anxious pryingness of observation. But he replied, with seeming sangfroid — " I am obliged to you for the expression, Mr, Diamond. There are not so many people- in this part of the country as there were once who deem the visit of a Deverell an honor. Bui you are no stranger, I am aware, to most of the particulars of my unhappy fortunes. Still, 1 confess I should feel much gratified to ascertain how you came so readily to know me, who am become, as it were, a stranger in the house oi my ancestors ?" " From the likeness of the boy, you know, sir! I told you all about it; how the painting gentleman took'd him away from me, and would have it the child was yourß and Miai Nora Clare's! But it's my belief the ghosi told him all about it!" said the trainer, in a curiously-affrighted and panic-striken way; but anxious probably to get before me in an ex planation of the means by which I knew so much as I did. "The ghost! Surely a man of the world, and a man acquainted with the laws of human existence like Mr. Diamond, cannot give credit to the superstitions of peasants and clod hoppers!" said Captain Deverell, smiling scorn fully. "There are laws, I firmly believe, Mr. Deve rell," I answered, " above mere material regula tions and experiences. For example, smile as you will, but I conscientiously believe I have seen the Bpirit of the injured woman who perished so terribly in this very inclosure! But the direct information I may see occasion to let you know I am in possession of, I derive from the lips of the horrid ruffian who stands beside you!" I said, in my turn. "Me, sir!—me, Mr. Diamond! How can you say so?" yelled the fellow, in reply. " I thought this scoundrel was playing me false. I have thought so for a long time; but if I once discover " A terrific gleam lighted in the young man's eye, and he seemed to glide from the topic, leaving his threat unfinished, but evidently im pressed upon the cowed and trembling wretch beside him ; while Captain Deverell continued, with an easy gracefulness and courtesy that for the moment imposed upon me also "It is very true, sir, that a poor, silly young creature, who had been very dear to me when I waa a young madman, at the outset of life, and
removed from all good advice and control, did leave her poverty-stricken home and parentage in Ireland—would follow me over here, with a view to mar all my prospects with a woman whose personal appearance was by no means of a reassuring character against the insinuations of her relations, who pretended I only sought her for her money. And Ido not profess to a , man of the world, whom I can have no interest to deceive—like yourself, Mr. Diamond—but that there was good reason for the suspicion. But I did not wish, of course, to furnish proofs against myself; and, therefore, I was, with much reluctance, driven to order my beautiful mistress to leave me at liberty to pursue my fortune. I was even, I admit, driven to utter despair and desperation by the failure of a means of relief on which I had staked my all. But upon my honor as a gentleman, I declare— I take it upon my salvation, since you look so incredulous of that asseveration, Mr. Diamond —I had nothing whatever to do with placing her in the position where she came by her acci dental, but truly terrible, death. What do you mean, sir, by mocking me with that groan ? Do you doubt the word of a gentleman ?" he broke off, in a rage. " It was no expression either of assent or any other feeling on my part, Mr. Deverell," I re plied, feeling my own heart set off beating very fast. " I uttered no sound whatever ?" " No, sir—no, captain; it's she at it again! You remember what I told you about her mak ing her appearance to the child, and—and the horse to m 9?" said the jockey, who looked livid, and whose teeth chattered with fear. " And that's one of the reasons why I've got you to come and talk to the good gentleman here yourself, and get him to see things reason able-like, and give us leave to take the body up and give it Christian burial at last. It'll never rest till then, depend upon it, sir, or leave off tormenting all concerned. And you know, sir, how I romermonstrated with you before I could make up my mind, and torn that dread ful tearing creature into the stable, where you pretended to have hidden her out of sight of a roaring company you expected from the races, not to shame your wife and the mother of your only child, until you could make up things to acknowledge her and him properly ! But I own I knewshewaa there; my own wretched blind creature that now is told me it all as soon as I came in, and how she had seen you lighting the poor, foot-sore, broken-hearted, but always lov ing and faithful young creature, to the place. And I let the key fall twice—and you picked it and put it in my hand twice again—and gave me a bumper of brandy neat—before I could make up my mind to it! So I say, and would before all the judges and juries in theland.it was more you than me a hundred times that did it! But I don't believe it, even that that troubles her so much, and won't let her have rest; for, in course, what she considers the hardest measure of all is to be buried under a heap of cobblestones in a stable, with the murderous brute that slew'd her—out of the way of the crowner's 'qtiest, and Sir John Flammook his inquiries to put his daughter up to the truth." I saw where this betraying accomplice was looking, with ail the might of his stony, yellow, bloodshot ejeß ! "Do not concern yourself any more on this point, Mr. I have never heard your real name ; but trust to see you hang by your truly called nick one before I have done with you," I said, with a really supernatural effort at calm nesß, while Captain Deverell seemed literally petrified by the revelation. "If the body of that unfortunate betrayed woman is buried under the stones there, with the carrion you speak of, I will speedily do what in me lies to quiet her perturbed spirit by removal to a more hallowed grave." " Cowardly scoundrel! you will richly deserve the gallows indeed!" exclaimed Captain Dever ell, rallying with a great effort. " And, mean while, you have ruined yourself as well as me ; for it is plain this man you have revealed all to is my enemy, and will make his market with Sir John Flammock with the papers that were buried with her also, in the little iron casket she brought them in, which proves that Nora Clare was in reality my wife! Her parentage all that is necessary to pro/c me—to prove me —what would these discoveries not prove me— traitor? and—and yourself!" " Good sakes, sir, don't make such a rumpus! What does it matter now whether she was your wife or not ? And don't you come prepared to make an offer that no man in his senses—no man that is not over well off in his circumstan ces himself— and what's a painter chap ?— could dream of refusing! Mr. Diamond, I promised I'd stand your friend, and I've pre vailed on the captain to go snacks, to the tune of ten thousand pounds even, with you, if you will hide all you know, and all the ghost has rewealed, and give me the child to smuggle over to foreign parts for ever out of the way—and stand master's friend, with the conveniences of the house here, which is his own property, to carry out his courtship with Miss Flammock, now the old squire is drawing so fast to the end of his reign and tyranny!" said the meditating power, stepping back, though, from the glance that fell upon him from my eyes. "Bascal! But I did intend—l do intend, Mr. Diamond—to make you any offer within the bounds of reason, that will leave me, I may say, any fair margin to recover myself from the utter poverty and degradation into which I find myself plunged. For I must confess I am driven also from the Continent by some unhappy follies I have committed there." Deverell now resumed, putting a strong curb, I could easily see, on his haughty and ireful temper, and tak ing the course pointed out to him by his menial. " I have no other resource, though I do not scruple to avow that I shall have to overcome a strong personal repugnance to the arrangement which, whoever sees Miss Flammock must appreciate. Why, again, do you sigh, like a broken-hearted woman, Mr. Diamond ?" " You Beem to know the sound, Mr. Deverell; but I cannot congratulate you on you knowledge. Look you here, sir!" I replied, indicating my revolver by a gesture, " I will rather discharge every barrel of this pistol into different parts of my body, ending with the brain, than consent to become the accomplice of the vilest assassin the world has ever seen or heard of, in his almost equally nefarious designs on the person and fortune of one of the best and most honora ble of ladies. Who is well aware, also, of the reasons there are to look upon you, at all events, as the most perfidious of seducers and betrayers of female innocence in the world!" " There, at least, you are mistaken, Mr. Diamond. If it is the only manly and gener ous act of my career, I married Nora Clare. It is true she would on no other terms consent to be mine, and I loved her to distraction once —I love her still, or this undying remorse and
anguish would not be gnawing at my heart, though it does not take the form of Tulgar superstition. I see no ghosts; nevertheless, that mangled form is never absent from my sight!" Deverell now exclaimed, with a convul sive shudder. But he speedily regained his habitual self possession. "Let me now renew the offer I make for your assistance, bit; and it is very little I re quire. Simply the shelter of this roof, which is rightfully mine, to obtain an interview with Miss Flammock. I know she cannot see me without my resuming the empire I have always had over her affections, with a glance, in spite of all the fathers in the world! I shall be master of her inheritance the moment it lapses to her; and her father is most assuredly dying now!" "He is dead! and the interview you demand can be had now at once, upon this blood-stained floor!" said an awful voice at this moment* which had hitherto taken no share in the col loquy. And, in truth, Miss Flammock, who had been" enabled for the first time for months, by her father's release from suffering, to come out, and had yielded to her Btrong desire to see the child of her barbarous lover again; but had con cealed herself behind my great battle-canvaa on hearing strangers announced—Miss Flam mock made her unlooked-for and truly crushing emergence on the scene! " He is dead, and his daughter is here, Mark Deverell! to tell you with her own lips, since you will not believe in her words at a distance that she has renounced for ever from the bot tom of her heart, and in that father's dying ear, who blessed her for it as he died, the felonious and unnatural slayer of his wife, and the mother of his only lawful child!" It would be impossible for pen and pencil to do justice to the horror of retribution visible in Deverell's handsome, but fiendish, visage as the ruinous decree was pronounced. " I am an utter and hopeless beggar, then!" he shrieked, gnashing his teeth, " and must ex piate the madness to which I was driven by losing all my crimes were perpetrated to gain! Be it so—l accept my fate! Nora, since it is you glaring so whitely at me from your un hallowed grave, your vengeance shall be accom plished—fully accomplished !" he reiterated, with grinding fury and despair in every tone; and, making a sudden dart at my revolver before I could make any effort at prevention, he turned round on Horsemonger Jack, shattered his un shapely skull with a bullet, put the weapon to his own, and committed murder and suicide almost in a breath. He bad, however, still power to stagger for ward to the fatal horse-stall, where he fell dead with a groan ; which I knew not whether it was all his own, or the mangled clay beneath gave that last utterance of grief and anguish over the irrevocable deed. Old Claymore afterwards averred he heard the shrill yell of a horse, as if in triumph and joy, when the first Bhot was fired; happening to have remained at hand, not much relishing two strangers with his master in that remote spot. But I heard it not. Perhaps it was but his fancy. All this occurred so many years ago, that it is possible I may be mistaken, or exaggerate in some of the minor details. But of the main facts there is not, and there cannot be, the shadow of a doubt. No one can dispute, at all events, what all the newspapers reported at the time, that the disin terment of the body of a young female from a stable in Hampshire, where she had been foully murdered, actually took place. As for the murder and suicide—the Deverells were reported subject to paroxysms of madness; and no one was surprised at the captain's ex plosion of wrath with his trainer, and the act of self-deßtruction after it. And how can the other particulars be gain sayed when at this moment the bells are ringing to announce the marriage 'of my daughter, Serapha, with the heir of that ancient race, | whose legitimate birth has been established, and position more than restored by the bequest of Miss Flammock, of Flammock Hall, who adopted him for her own child, and, dying unmarried, left the bulk of her property to the son of her who had been so cruelly injured on her account, and whose love for him had proved " Stronger than Death!"