Chapter 818757

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Chapter NumberXXII
Chapter TitleTHE RECTOR'S DIARY.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article818757
Full Date1881-07-23
Page Number4
Corrections4
Word Count6908
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-04-16
Newspaper TitleThe Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893)
Trove TitleA Mystery
article text

FICTION.

(From English, American, and other Periodicals.)

A MYSTERY

CHAPTER XXII.

THE RECTOR'S DIARY.

We have described how Earl Wayne, leaving the lady of his love, set out on a mission of the greatest importance to his future. Following the clues in his possession, he came to the part of England in which Marion Vance had gone under the sad ordeal of desertion. He pursued a number of inquiries, which led him ultimately to the church. There, he was given to understand, some records would be found. He found the sexton, and entered into conversation with him. Their talk was interrupted, however, by the approach of a lady, to whom the sexton at once turned. Earle waited anxiously til the old man was again at liberty.

The sweet-faced Miss Isabel did not try his patience long.

She had been deeply interested in the young and handsome stranger, wondering who he was, and whence he came, as well as why he should seek their quiet little chapel, and then the old sexton.

She had heard his last words to the old man, and knew that he was desirous of speaking with her. She at once arose, and as soon as she came forth from the cottage, he immediately approached her.

"Pardon," he said, courteously, lifting his hat. " but may I crave a little conversation with you?"

" Certainly," she answered, with a sweet gracious- ness that made him think of his mother.

He then stated something of his object in coming there, and also the startling revelation of the sexton, as well as what he had said regarding the rector's diary, and begged her, if it was in her power, to let him know the truth of the matter.

Her face grew sad and full of pity as she listened to him, and realized something of the wrong that

had been suffered for so many years, and when he

had finished she said, simply :

" Yes, I can give you comfort. Come with me."

How his heart bounded at the words, " I can give you comfort," and heaving a breath that was almost a sob, a cry of thankfulness went up to God from his heart for the light that was beginning to shine upon his darkened life.

Miss Isabel Grafton, for that was the lady's name, led the way toward a small villa, built in the Gothic style, near by.

It was a charming little place, covered with vines and climbing roses, and surrounded by noble trees, with here and there a patch of gay flowers adding brightness to the scene.

She invited him to enter, and ushered him into a cool and shady parlor, when she excused herself for

a few moments.

She was not gone long, and when she returned she carried two or three large books in her hand.

" These books," she explained, laying them care- fully upon the table, as if they were a precious treasure, " comprise my father's diary, and, I think, never during his life did he omit the record of a single day."

" I have taken a sad pleasure," she continued, with a starting tear, " in reading them since his death, and I also think that there is considerable here re- garding the events of which you speak. Now if you will please give me the date I will see if I can find it for you."

He told her, and then sat in painful suspense while she turned those pages penned by a hand long since palsied in death, and which might contain so much of hope for him.

" Yes," she said at last, " here is one entry -- the first, I think, since it corresponds with the date you gave me ;" and she passed him the book to let him read for himself.

His emotion was so great that at first the words seemed blurred and indistinct, and it was a minute or two before his vision became clear enough to read.

Then he read this :

"August 11th, l8--. A strange thing occurred to-day! Thomas Wight, the sexton of St. John's chapel, came to me in evident distress, and con- fessed a conspiracy in which he was concerned, or rather a wrong into which he had been tempted by the offer of gold, and which lay exceeding heavy on his heart. A young man had hired him to leave the chapel open after dark that evening, that he might come to be married secretly to a young and beauti- ful girl, and he told him, moreover, that he would bring his own clergyman with him to perform the ceremony. He paid the sexton a golden eagle to do him the service, which the poor fellow, conscience smitten like Judas of old, came and delivered up to me for the poor. I resolved at once to investigate the affair, for it appeared to me as if a wrong of some kind was being perpetrated, wherein a young, trusting, and perhaps motherless girl, like my own fair Isabel, was being deceived. The result proved even as I thought, a romance begun, a wrong be-

headed.

" An hour before the time that Thomas Wright told me was set apart for the strange couple to come to the chapel, I repaired thither and concealed myself behind the drapery of a curtain in the robing-room. It was nearly dark, but not so dark but that I could distinguish objects quite distinctly, and I had not been there long before a young man, of perhaps thirty years, quietly entered, and immediately pro- ceeded to disguise himself with a white wig, and a full, flowing white beard. I knew then beyond a doubt that a great wrong was contemplated, for the hair and beard was an exact counterpart of my own. He then approached my private closet, took down the robe and surplice, and was about to put them on, when I stepped forth from my biding-place and ad-

dressed him thus :

'"Friend, what art thou about to do with these emblems of a sacred office? Those are holy vestures which none but a priest unto God has a right to

wear.'

" The robe dropped from his nerveless hand upon the floor, and he turned a white, startled face to me.

" 'Who are you?' he had length demanded, with an

effort to recover himself.

"I am Bishop Grafton, and rector of St. John's parish. Who are you ?' I asked, mildly, in return.

"'It does not matter who I am,' he muttered,

angrily, and standing before me with an exceed- ingly crest-fallen air ; and I proceeded, with solemn

gravity :

'"Friend, I learned this afternoon that a great wrong was to be committed here this evening, and I came here to stop it if possible.'

" I spoke the words at a venture -- and not so either, for the man's manner had convinced me of the fact already -- and my words took immediate effect, for with a muttered imprecation, he tore the wig and beard from his head and face, and threw them also upon the floor beside the robe and surplice.

"'Friend,' I then demanded, sternly, 'are you a minister of Jesus Christ?"

" 'No,' he muttered, with a vile oath.

"Then you were about to personate a bishop of the church and commit sacrilege. I will relieve you from both the mockery and the sin; I will myself perform this marriage ceremony."

" 'But -- but --' he began, in an excited manner " 'You will please give me the names of the parties about to be united, and the correct ones,' I inter- rupted, peremptorily.

"He gave them, and, lighting a taper, I inserted them in the blanks of the certificate with which I had provided myself before leaving home.

"'Now you can go,' I added, and pointed to the rear door which led into the church-yard.

"He hesitated, and began to stammer something about some one being very angry at the turn affairs

were taken.

" Enough!" I cried, sternly ; 'do not dare to inter- fere with me; you can quietly retire and leave things to take their course ; or, since I now recognize you as one of the strangers visiting at Rye for the summer, I will cause you to be arrested on the morrow for sacrilege, and having tampered with things belonging to the house of God.'

'"Hark!" I added, as we heard steps entering the chapel, 'they have come ; choose quickly and go, or, if you fear to do that, acknowledge, in the presence of yonder couple, the fraud you were about to com- mit. I will not have so foul a wrong perpetrated ; if a young and trusting maiden believes she is about to become a lawful wife, a wife she shall be ; I will not allow her to deceived.'

" A moment longer be hesitated, as if undecided which course to pursue, then, with a terrible impre- cation upon me and the whole proceeding, he turned away and glided forth into the darkness, and I saw

him no more.

" It was but the work of an instant for me to don the robe and surplice which he had dropped in his fright, and I was at the alter in time to receive the strange couple, one of whom I was now convinced was a designing villain, the other his victim.

" The maiden was apparently very young, and my heart was pained for her ; her voice was sweet and childish as she made the responses, and I felt in my soul that she must be motherless, or she would not be there in any such way as that.

"The propriety of my adopting the course I did might be questioned by some, and the thought arise why I did not, instead, denounce the villain and save the child. I had reasoned all that within my- self, and was convinced that if she was so infatuated with her lover that he had won her consent to a secret marriage, it would not be difficult for him to win her again to his will, and, even in the face of my revelation, to do her the foul wrong he had planned. I judged that the greatest kindness I could do her would be to make her really a wife.

" In less than ten minutes the vows which made them one were pronounced, and they were as truly man and wife as any who ever took upon themselves the vows of matrimony ; and, putting the certificate of the transaction in the young bride's hand, I saw them go forth into their new life, feeling that, what- ever happened, I had done what I could.

" I did not believe that with that certicate in her possession, whereon my name was written in my boldest hand, to prove the transaction, that any very great harm could come to that child-wife. I returned to the robing-room, removed my vestures, picked up the wig and beard which still lay there, and brought them home with me as trophies of a strange adventure. They are locked within the third drawer of the old Grafton bureau. God bless and spare that innocent maiden ; my heart yearneth over her."

Thus ended the bishop's first entry regarding that strange adventure, and a long, deep sigh, as if some heavy burden had rolled from his heart, burst from Marion Vance's son, as he finished reading it and

laid down the book.

"Thank God!" he said, devoutly,

"Amen!" murmured the sweet-faced Miss Isabel, who had sat silently watching him as he read, and who seemed to comprehend, and sympathize with, all that that burst of thanks meant.

"There is something more, I believe, a little farther on," she said, after a moment of silence, and reaching for the book, "Here it is," she added, after turning several pages. " I have read it a great many times, and hoped that that young girl might have been happy ; and yet I feared for her -- there is so much that is sad in the world," she concluded with a sigh.

The excited youth again seized the book eagerly

and read :

"September 10th, l8-. My heart has been unac- countably heavy to-day for that young maiden whom I so strangely wedded about a month ago. Perhaps the event was recalled by the meeting the villain who was to perform the mock ceremony -- he avoided me with a blush of shame, turning short in his tracks, as he saw me approaching. It is well that he can feel even shame for his sin. But some- thing impressed me that that young wife might sometime need even stronger evidence than the cer- tificate I gave her -- it might be lost, destroyed, or stolen, and then there would be nothing to prove her position if I should die. And so I resolved to make a record here of their names, and the date of their marriage :

"MARRIED. In St. John's Chapel, Winchester, August 11th l8--, by the Reverend Joshua Gratton, bishop, and rector of St. John's parish, George Sumner, of Bye, to Miss Marlon Vance, also of Bye. I take my oath that thia is a true state-

ment.

" September lOth, l8-. JOSHUA GRATTON, Rector."

That was all ; but was it not enough?

The book dropped from the youth's nerveless hand, and his involuntary cry smote heavily the heart of the gentle woman sitting so silently in the gathering twilight near him.

"Oh! mother -- mother!"

It was as though he could not bear it, and she not there to share it with him ; this tardy justice -- this blessed revelation! His heart was filled almost to bursting with grief, that she should have suffered all those long years, bearing so patiently her burden of shame, when she might even now be living, honored and respected.

She was only thirty-four when she died -- just the time when life should have been at its prime.

She was beautiful, and so constituted that she

could have enjoyed to their fullest extent all the

good things that belonged to her high position in life; and it seemed too cruel, when they might all have been hers -- when they were hers by right, that

she should have been so crushed, and her life so corroded and early destroyed by this foul wrong.

But Marion Vance had learned submission and humility from her life of trial -- she had learned to trust where the way was so dark that she could not see, and she had told her son, on her death-bed, that notwithstanding she could not fathom the wisdom of the lesson of sorrow that she had had to learn,

yet she did not doubt that it would all result for

good in the end.

"You may perhaps be a nobler man," she had said, with her hand resting fondly on his chestnut curls, " for having been reared in obscurity, instead of an heir to great possessions; you will, at all events, realize that a noble character is more to be

desired than a mere noble-sounding name, and if | you should ever rise to eminence by your own efforts you will not forget the teachings of your mother,

and they will help to keep you in the path of

rectitude and honor."

He remembered those last words now, and though he was always comforted when he thought of them, yet he could not keep down the wish that she might have lived, and he been permitted to see her face light up with hope and joy that there was no stain resting upon her or him.

But doubtless she knew it all in Heaven now, and was rejoicing on his account.

He was no longer a nameless outcast from society ; he could now hold his head aloft with the proudest in the land -- he had no cause for shame, save the knowledge that his father had been one of the vilest villains who walked the face of the earth.

" Where was he now ?" he wondered, a hot flush of anger mounting to his brow, as it always did when he thought of him.

Was he living or dead?

Dead he hoped, but that was a thing he had yet to

find out.

He wondered how the Marquis of Wycliffe would receive the knowledge that he had gained to-day.

He could now seek him and claim his inheritance if he chose -- there was no reason why he should not do so, except that his heart shrank with indignation and bitterness from the stern man, who, with a face of flint, had sent his mother -- a tender, suffering wo- man -- cruelly into the world to wrestle with life's stern realities, with neither sympathy or love to smooth its rough way.

He knew that he should claim his inheritance sometime; it belonged to him as Marion's legitimate son, and according to the conditions of the old marquis' will.

He would go and rule at Wycliffe some day, and show the world how Marion Vance, the despised and scorned, had reared her son. Oh ! if she could but have lived to be proud of him and enjoy the good that was coming to him. This was ever the burden of his thought, but it could not be, and he could only strive to remember and follow her pure teachings and win for himself the respect that had been denied

her.

But first he had a work to do. He could not go to Wycliffe yet, much as he desired to re-establish his mother's reputation. He must first find the man who had sought her ruin, to "pass away a summer holiday and to have a jolly good time." If he were dead he would find his grave and be satisfied. If be was living, he would search until he found him, brand him with his traitorous designs, and proved to him that in his wickedness he had overreached him- self.

Then, and not until then, oould he present himself before the Marquis of Wycliffe, and demand to be acknowledged as his heir.

CHAPTER XXIII.

THE RIGHTFUL HEIR.

He did not realize how long he had been sitting there musing over these things until a slight move- ment of Miss Grafton's aroused him.

"Thank you, and pardon me for my absent-minded- ness," he said, starting, " I shall not soon forget your kindness, and may I trespass upon it still further? Will you allow me to make a copy of what I have read ?"

" Certainly, if it will be of any benefit to you,' Miss Grafton answered, the look of kindly sympathy

still on her face.

He noticed it, and, after a moment's thoughtful hesitation, said, with a rising flush ;

" This young bride of whom the rector has written was my mother."

" Was ?" she repeated, in a sad tone.

"Yes, was," he said, with a trembling lip. "She died only a week ago, and I feel that it is due to you, for your kindness to me, that I should tell you this. She believed, and has believed all these long years, that she was most cruelly wronged. She was driven from her beautiful home on account of it, and has suffered in silence ever since. I knew nothing of her sad history, believing my father had died before my birth, until a very short time before her own death. It was true that she had the cer- tificate of which the rector speaks, but that man told her, and she believed, it was a sham and a forgery. Whether he ever was told, or discovered that his accomplice was foiled and driven from the field, and a bona fide marriage performed is a mys- tery, but I am rather inclined to think he did not, since if he ever discovered my mother's position in life, he would undoubtedly have been anxious to claim her as his wife. She was a lady, and occupied a station in every way honorable before this sad trouble overtook her; and I to-day -- with this to prove it -- can claim a name as proud as any in Eng-

land. She was the daughter of the Marquis of

Wycliffe, of whom you have doubtless heard."

" Is it possible ?" Miss Grafton exclaimed, greatly surprised, " and you are therefore the heir of Wycliffe."

" Yes, but before I present my claim I have a work to do. I must find him who wronged and ruined my mother's life," he returned, with firmly compressed lips and lowering brow.

"Thank yoy for telling me this," Miss Grafton said, wiping the tears from her eyes. " I have often thought of the young girl, of whom my father used frequently to speak, and wonder if all was well with her. I congratulate you, I am glad that the wrong- doer was outwitted, and that the innocent will be righted at last."

" My poor innocent mother can never be righted -- those years of suffering and humiliation can never be atoned for," the young man said, in trembling

tones.

" My friend," Miss Isabel Grafton said, meeting

his eyes with a sweet gravity that was all her own,

" can you not trust that where she has gone all sor-

row has ceased, all tears are wiped, and that pain is remembered no more? She can see now if you can- not why all this was permitted."

" Miss Grafton, you remind me of my mother, only

you are younger -- she used to talk that way to me,

and she said almost the same thing to me just be- fore she died," he said, with a touch of reverence in

his tones.

Miss Grafton sighed, yet at the same time her lips parted in a little tremulous smile.

The sigh bespoke the memory of some bitter

struggle of the past -- the smile of the trust and hope

of which she had just spoken.

She set before him pen, ink, and paper, and then quietly left the room while he copied those blessed words from the rector's diary, which in one hour had changed all his life.

Just as he had finished, Miss Gratton returned to

the parlor, bringing a tempting little lunch for him,

and chatted socially with him while he ate it.

When at last he arose to go, bade her farewell, and thanked her again for her kindnees, and then went away she, for the time losing all self-control, threw herself prone upon the floor, and cried aloud :

Another, O Lord ! Why in Thy mercy dost Thou permit the brightest hopes to be destroyed, the hap- piest and most innocent to suffer such cruel blight ?"

Thus the story of another sweet woman's life was

told.

Isabel Grafton's own youth had been blasted, her own heart crushed and broken by the treachery of one whom she had trusted. She had loved and plighted herself to one who, all unworthy, had de-

serted her for the brighter smiles of another but the day before he was to have led her to the altar.

* * * * * * * *

The son of Marion Vance went forth upon his self-imposed mission -- to find the man who had plotted to betray his mother, prove to him the valid- ity of his marriage, and then, leaving him forever, return to Wycliffe and claim his inheritance there.

Leaving him thus engaged, we must for a time

turn our thoughts in another direction --to Paul Tressalia, who was called from Newport so suddenly

as already mentioned in our story.

It will be remembered that on the same night of

his final rejection by Editha Dalton, be had re- ceived important letters, which demanded his im- mediate presence abroad, and that summons, with

his heart so sore from his disappointment, he was only too glad to obey.

We have already explained how Paul Tressalia was related to the Marquis of Wycliffe, his grand- mother being the Marquis' only sister, and, should

he die without issue, her heirs would inherit the

proud name and wealth belonging to him.

When the blow came that destroyed all the marquis' fond hopes, and Marion Vance was driven forth from her home to hide her disgrace, and bring up her illegitimate child far from the immaculate precincts of Wycliffe, little Paul Tressalia, then about six years of age, was at once acknowledged the heir, and from that time educated accordingly.

It was the news of the sudden death of the marquis, and of his own succession to his vast proporty, both in France and England, that had hastened his departure from Newport.

This letter, by some unaccountable means, had been missent, and did not reach him until more than a month after his kinsman's death, and so without any delay he hastened to present himself

at Wycliffe.

He had never mentioned his prospects to any one during his sojourn in America, where he had tarried longer by a year than he at first intended on account of his love for Editha. So, although he was reported to be the heir to vast wealth, no one really seemed to know just in what that wealth consisted, or what his future prospects were. He was very modest and unassuming regarding them, preferring to be accepted solely upon his own merits wherever he went, rather than upon the dignity of his pros-

pective grandeur.

He took possession of Wycliffe immediately upon his return to England, and also of all the property belonging to the previous marquis.

And yet in the midst of all his prosperity he was sad and depressed.

The one woman whom he loved could not share it with him, and all his bright prospects, like the apples of Sodom, turned to ashes in his grasp.

" Oh, my bright Editha !" he moaned, " why could you not have loved me, when I could have given you everthing that would make life beautiful to you when you are so well fitted to grace the position you would have filled as my wife ? The beautiful things around me are but mockery -- they are nothing to me compared with the boon I crave."

This was his continual cry, and he would shut himself away from every human eye for days, and battle with himself, striving to conquer his hopeless

love.

Then it began to be whispered and suggested to him that Wycliffe must have a mistress ; he was over thirty, and it was high time that some good, true women came there to reign, where for so many years

there had been no mistress.

" Oh, God!' he cried, after some one had spoken to him of this. " I love but one -- I cannot -- I will not yield her place to another! Must it be -- is there no escape ?" and his sense of what was right and proper told him that it ought to be.

And so several months went by, while all the country yielded him homage, and every matron with, a marriageable damsel upon her hands, showered upon him every attention that her fertile brains could suggest.

One day he was sitting alone in his library think- ing of this, and a magnificent room, be it known, was this library at Wycliffe, furnished with ebony, upholstered in olive, green, and gold. The rich ebony bookcases, inlaid with pearl and precious woods, reached from ceiling to floor, and were filled with countless volumes, each collection bound in uniform covers. It had been the pride of the pre- vious marquis' heart, his one solace and comfort, after his bitter trouble came upon him, and he had spent the greater part of his life there among his

choice books.

And it seemed likely also to be the resort of Paul Tressalia, for here he brought himself and his troubles and locked within his fort, no one dared to intrude; and as he sat there one morning thinking bitterly of what might have been, a servant came to the door

and knocked for admittance.

With a shrug and frown of impatience, he arose and went to the door, where be was handed a card.

It bore the name of a noted lawyer from London

" Archibald Faxon."

" Show him in," the young marquis said, with a weary sigh at being obliged to see any one, and wondering what this noted stranger could want of

him.

The Hon. Archibald Faxon soon made his appear- ance -- a wiry, sharp-featured man, with a keen, restless eye that was capable of reading a man through almost instantly -- any one would have known he was a lawyer, and a successful one, too merely to look at him.

The young marquis greeted him with a show of cordiality, and then politely waited for him to state

his business.

He was not long in coming to the point.

" I fear I have come to you upon a very unpleasant errand," he said, suavely, and yet with an appear- ance of regret in his manner.

" Indeed !" was Paul Tressalia's indifferent reply.

It did not appear to him that anything could move him after what be had alreadj suffered.

" Yes, your lordship, I have to present to you the claims of another to this property of Wycliffe, and all other properties connected with it."

Paul Tressalia regarded the man with almost stupid wonder fora moment. A more ridiculous assertion, it struck him, could not have been made by the most witless fool in the kingdom.

" Sir, I do not understand you," he managed to say, at last,

The noted Mr. Faxon very deliberately and dis- tinctly repeated his statement.

" Are you aware how very absurd such an asser- tion sounds, Mr. Faxon ?" Paul Tressalia asked, with curling lips. "Why, I am the only living repre- sentative of the whole family, and what you assert is simply preposterous."

" Not so much so as you may suppose," returned the lawyer, calmly.

Mr. Tressalia began to grow rather red in the face at this ; he could not exactly make out whether the lawyer meant to insult him or not; his manner was courteous, but what he said was such an unheard of proposition that he was at a loss to comprehend

it.

" If that is the nature of your business with me to-day, you will excuse me if I say I cannot listen to you any further," he said, rather coldly.

"Bear with me, if you please, my lord, for a few moments," returned the imperturbable lawyer, with a wave of his shapely hand, " and allow me to ask you a few questions. Did not the former marquis have an only child ?"

" Yes ; but she forfeited all ciaim to the property, according to the conditions of the entail, and was disowned by her father more than twenty years ago."

"That child gave birth to a son, I've been told?" remarked Mr. Faxon, not heeding Mr. Tressalia's

last statement.

"I really cannot say whether it was a son or daughter" he answered, his lips curling again just a "trifle, " Whichever it was, it was illegitimate, and could inherit nothing."

" If it had been born in wedlock it would have in inherited the property which you now hold, would it not?"

"Yes ; but it was not born in wedlock, consequent- ly all this argument is utterly useless," the young

marquis said, impatiently.

" Are you quite sure, my lord, of the truth of what

you assert ?" was the next unruffled query.

"Certainly; it is according to Miss Vance's own confession to her father ; she owned she had been de- ceived, and that only a mock marriage had been con-

summated."

" Is it not barely possible that Miss Vance herself may have been mistaken in the matter ?"

" I should think not, when interests of so vital im- portance were at stake," Paul Tressalia answered, with something very like a sneer upon his fine face.

The question was so uttterly devoid of sense and reason, at least to him, that he could not control it.

" But it is my duty to prove to you that such was the case, notwithstanding. May I ask your attention to some documents which I have in my possesion?" and the lawyer, with great deference, drew forth a package from his pocket.

With an expression of incredulity upon his hand- some face, Paul Tressalia drew up his chair to the table to comply with his request.

He spread them before him, and immediately en- tered upon an explanation of their contents, going over them step by step, until, in spite of his unbelief the young marquis' face grew grave, anxious, and perplexed, and he began to fear that his fair inherit- ance, his proud name and title, were in danger of being wrested from him after all.

He read tha certificate signed so boldly by Joshua Grafton, bishop, and rector of St. John's parish, and which had been given to Marion upon the completion of the marriage ceremony, and which also she had regarded only as so much worthless paper ; yet some unaccountable instinct had always prevented her destroying it whenever she had been tempted to

do so.

He carefully read those extracts which Marion's son had made from the rector's diary, and with which we are so familiar. He listened with painful interest to the repetition of the sexton's story of his confession, and how he became a witness to the marriage ceremony, and he could scarcely credit his own sense of hearing as he heard the marvellous tale, and his better judgment told him that every word

was true.

But when one is already suffering, as he was suf- fering, with his heart so sore and bitter, one's natural antagonism and rebellion against the iron hand of fate is more easily aroused.

So it was now with Paul Tressalia: he had been obliged to relinquish his dearest hopes -- to give up the woman he loved -- and now with this almost in- contestable evidence before him, it seemed as if every hope of his manhood was destined to be crushed ; and with a strange perversity, even in the face of such stern facts as had just been presented to him, he said within himself that he would not yield his inheritance to this unknown child of Marion Vance -- he would not give up his position, his wealth, his proud and honored name.

" It is a cunningly devised fable," he said, with a stern white face, "and I defy the claim."

"I am sorry, my lord ; for, with all my experience in the law, I must say I never undertook a clearer case," the Hon. Mr. Faxon replied, with the same unvarying politeness that he had displayed all through the interview.

" Nevertheless, I shall resist to the uttermost of my ability. Tell your client so. He will have to fight a mighty battle before he will win one foot of Wycliffe," the young marquis returned, moodily.

" He is prepared to do so, if necessary, your lord- ship, for his mother's sake alone. He has expressed I deep regret at your disappointment, but her honor

and purity must be established at all events, whether he wins anything else or not. He will at once take measures to establish the validity of her marriage, that all who formerly knew her may know that no shadow of stain rests upon her character."

" Who is he? -- where has he been all these years? -- where is he now ?" demanded the marquis, with

clouded brow.

He saw the reasonableness of what the young man contemplated, and knew that if those facts were once established, there would be no hope left for

him.

" Until about seven years ago he resided with his mother in --, a little town in the south-west of England. After her death, prompted by curiosity, he visited the place where she believed she had been so grossly deceived, and accidentally stumbled upon the evidence with which I have presented you

to-day."

"Then his mother knew nothing of all this? -- she believed up to the time of her death that she had forfeited all claim to this property ?" Mr. Tressalia inquired, gravely.

"Most assuredly, or she would have returned im- mediately to her father and vindicated herself, for

the sake of her child's future.

" Why did not he present himself to his grand- father then, as soon as he made this discovery ?" the marquis inquired, thinking it very strange that he

had not done so.

" His first impulse was to do so. But he is very proud -- he inherits all the fire and spirit of his race -- and feeling very sore and indignant at the treat- ment which his mother had received from his grand- father, he naturally shrank from him. Moreover he concluded that his first duty was to find the man who had so wronged him and her, and notify him of the validity of the marriage which he had supposed

to be but a sham.

" Did he succeed ?"

" He did not, although he has used every means in his power to discover the man's place of residence, and whether he was living or dead. He would not now present his claim to this property, but recently learning of the death of his grandfather, he deemed it best to establish his identity, and continue his

search afterward,"

"He is rather late in the day; he should have came immediately upon the marquis' death, and before I had taken possession," Paul Tressalia said,

with some excitement.

" He would have done so had it been possible, but is only a fortnight since he learned that fact."

"On your honor as a gentleman, do you believe the statements you have made to me to-day ?" the marquis asked, after considering the matter in a long and thoughtful pause, and fixing his eye keenly upon the lawyer.

"on my honor as a gentleman, and as a friend of the previous Marquis of Wycliffe, I have not a single

doubt upon the subject."

"These are only copies," Mr. Tressalia said, lay- ing his hand upon the papers before him; "have you seen the original, written in the hand of Bishop Grafton?

"I have, and examined them carefully." "Does his signature there correspond with this

upon the certificate of marriage?"

" Exactly ; except that this is written in rather a bolder hand. I have also seen the sexton and questioned him closely," Mr. Faxon returned, feeling deeply for the young man who was to lose so much upon the proof of these facts,

"It seems like fiction -- like an extravagant romance," he said, thoughtfully.

" It is one of those truths that are stranger than fiction," the lawyer replied, with a smile ; " but Miss Grafton, the rector's daughter, is perfectly willing that any one interested in this matter should see her father's diary, and nothing hinders you from going yourself to examine it."

" I shall do so most certainly. Where did you say the young man is at this time?" Paul Tressalia

asked ;

" Here at Wycliffe, awaiting an interview with

yourself."

" Here !" the young marquis repeated, with a vio- lent start. " Is he not in somewhat of a hurry ?" he asked, the curl of scorn returning to his lips.

" I think not, my lord, when all the circumstances are considered. Is it not better for you to meet your young cousin and talk over these matters amicably before you make war on each other ?"

" Yes," Paul Tressalia replied, his face instantly assuming its accustomed look of nobility, as his good sense and natural uprightness acknowledged

the wisdom of such a course.

" That is well, I think you will find him disposed to be very considerate and generous with you in his dealings, and you will acknowledge that, despite the obscurity in which he has been reared, he is an honour to your race. Shall I bring him to you now ?'

Mr. Faxon asked.

" If you please ; I am ready to meet him now," Paul Tressalia said, with a weary sigh.

If he must yield up his fair inheritance with all else, the sooner the pain was over with, the better

for him.

The lawyer immediately arose and left the room, but returned again almost instantly, accompanied by a tall, handsome stranger, whose peculiarly noble and attractive face at once riveted Paul Tressalia's eye.

"My lord," the Honorable Archibald Faxon said, in his most gracious manner, allow me to present to you my client, who is also your relative, and by the name his mother gave him -- Earle Wayne !"

(To be Continued.)