|Chapter Number||XVIII-(Continued) - XXI|
|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||The Smuggler's Ward: A Story of Ship and Shore|
THE SMUGGLER'S WARD.
A STORY OF SHIP AND SHORE.
BY SYLVANUS COBB, JNR.
THE sun was already up when Noel arose from his bed, and as he proceeded to perform his
toilet a variety of emotions in turn possessed his soul. His heart felt lighter than it had done for some time, and his spirit was more buoyant, yet there was fear—an indescribable sensation of dread—as though some secret enemy were near—some evil lurking at hand— which might fall upon him ere he could know it t0 avert it. He tried to believe that the as- surance of Robert Warrington was well founded, and that all was safe and well. He finished his toilet, and sat down to await the coming of his host.
Half an hour passed, and no Robert appeared. He looked at his watch and found it to be almost 9 o'clock. He opened the door by he had entered on the night before, and looked out into a wide hall. By-and-by a servant drew near, of whom he enquired for Robert.
"This is Mr Bradford?" "Yes."
"My young master has gone out, sir ; and he said you would wait until he came back."
Noel returned to his chamber, where he passed another half-hour ; and he was beginning to entertain suspicions of foul play, when a heavy footfall sounded in the hall, and pre- sently the door was opened, and—not Robert Warrington, but Guy Darringford, entered.
"Ah,—and here you are, my boy!" cried the smuggler, first advancing and taking the youth's hand, and then sinking into a chair.
He was evidently fatigued, and his flushed face was beaming with a wondrous glow. Noel had never seen him so strangely moved.
"Guy, what is it?"
"Hush, hush, my boy. Don't say a word. I know you must have had another spoil of un- easiness, being left here so long ; but we couldn't help it. My soul! how wonderful are the mysterious workings of Providence! Noel, there must be a good genius watching over you. Danger, perhaps death, has been at your heels this many a day, and you have been held clear of it by a fate which we had, in our blindness, denounced as evil. But let me get breath, and I'll tell you."
Our hero sat utterly spell-bound until Dar- ringford was ready to proceed, which he finally
did as follows :—
"Last night, when I had gained the pave- ment under the cell window, and was waiting for you, I heard some one enter the place. At first I thought of flight, but on reflection I determined to remain where I was, and see if I could gain any information from what I could
"And did you hear?"
"Yes. But ask me no questions now. I heard nearly all, but not quite. While you and Robert Warrington were talking I heard foot- steps near at hand in the narrow court where I stood, and presently two men approached me. I crouched away under the arch of a small door close by, and they passed on ; but I saw their faces, and I heard their speech. The words that struck my ear were few, but they chanced to give a key to their business. 'The young chap is in this house somewhere,' said one of them, 'and we shan't nab him to-night. But we'll hang on. He won't escape us again.'
"The man who said that, I recognised the moment I saw him. It was Ralph Pettrell, one of the most desperate rascals of the gipsy gang we saw on the banks of the Loyne. I allowed them to gain the street, and had started to follow them, when two other men came out from the arch under the great piazza and stopped me. I was considering whether I should knock them down or not, when they made me understand that they were friends. Robert Warrington had sent them to bring me into the house. Of course I had gathered, from from what I had overboard between that young gentleman and yourself, that he was all right ; so I followed the men, and before a great while Robert Warrington and I stood face to face. I can read human nature, when the book is open, and when I had looked fairly into Robert's face. I believed him to be a true and honest man, As soon as I was sure he meant well to us both, I told him of what I had seen and heard in the side court, and asked him to lot me have help to follow the gipsies. He not only called help,
but he went with me himself.
"To make a long story short, my boy, we easily traced the rascals to a small inn by the river, where one of our men succeeded in get- ting Ralph Pettrell out of doors ; and without more ado we seized him, and brought him to this house. He saw that his game was up, and when we had convinced him that he would go to prison if he did not make a clean breast of it, and when we had assured him that no harm
should come to him, nor to any concerned with him, through his confession, he told us the whole story.
"From the very first of your appearance in Kendal, Noel, Rupert St. George has been aim- ing at your destruction. Four of the very worst and most desperate of the gipsies have been in his employ, and have been constantly at our heels ; and their simple object has been to put you out of the way. They had prepared to strike in Kendal, when the mysterious cipher of Thamar sent us out of their way. With swift horses they came to Bristol, and last night, my boy, they lay in ambush not twenty yards beyond the point where we were overhauled by Warrington's crew. Had we gone on a few minutes longer we should have both been lost, for the villains were amply prepared for the
work in hand. We were both to have been shot in our tracks! Oh, you don't know those Bo- hemian cut-throats! They would have shot us down with as much unconcern as you would feel in killing a viper. But your good genius was at
"And now ?" interrupted Noel, eagerly.
"Now we are all safe, my boy ,—and that is what has kept us away from you this morning. From Pettrell we learned that Rupert St. George had arrived in Bath not many hours before ; and early this morning Warrington and I hunted him up, and put him off our track, and upon his own. So we have nothing more to fear from him."
"Are you sure?"
"Sure? Do you not remember what Robert told you last night? You have nothing to fear from Rupert, simply because he has nothing to fear from you. Robert Warrington has con- vinced him that you have no shadow of a claim t0 Walling Moor,—so his cause of enmity is at an end, and he has taken himself off. And, my dear boy, under all the circumstances, he was
very thankful that we allowed him to go. I was confident that you would not care to prosecute him for the evil he had meditated against you,"
"You were right, Guy—you were right. And O, how shall I ever repay you for your devotion
"Don't think of that, Noel. All I ask is to see you once settled in the full possession of your rights. That will be happiness enough for
There was an affectionate, tender look upon the face of the strong man as he spoke, and his eyes were gemmed with tears. The youth would have asked many questions, but before he could speak further, the door was opened, and Robert Warrington entered the apartment.
THE SMUGGLER'S STORY.
"MY dear boy," cried Robert, as he advanced, and grasped Noel's hand, "you must forgive me for leaving you so long ; but really—"
"Stop, my brother," interposed our hero, with grateful, beaming look. " Darringford has told me all. I understand. I know how kind you have been."
"Very well. If that is the case, then we can go and get some breakfast ; for, if your appetite is like mine, you will not object to taking that as the next thing in order."
S0 saying Robert led the way to the breakfast room, and when the meal had been concluded he took Noel by the arm, and conducted him into one of the private drawing-rooms.
"Where is Darringford?" our hero asked, when he noticed that the smuggler had not
"He chose another direction," answered Warrington," as he knew that I would see you
Noel asked no more ; but seating himself upon one of the soft lounges, he awaited his companion's will and pleasure.
"Noel," said Robert, when he had drawn a chair up in front of the sofa, "I desire that you will be frank and open with me in your an- swers to whatever I may ask of you."
"I believe you can trust me on that score."
"To your honor and faith I would trust my very life," pursued Robert ; " but there may be things in the bosom of every man which he would wish to hold in secrecy."
"From you, Robert," said Noel, warmly, "I know not that I have even a thought that I
should desire to conceal."
A quick glow of gratification beamed upon Warrington's face, and having given his friend's hand an instinctive grasp, he asked—
"Would the possession of your estates render you satisfied and contented?"
"I do not comprehend you," said Noel.
"I mean to ask, if the full and complete pos- session of a large and valuable landed property would satisfy your longings ; or is there other good you crave?"
The youthful adventurer trembled.
"Robert, the more possession of material wealth can give no man happiness. I would rather share the lot of the humblest peasant, with honor and with love, than live in a palace estranged from loving companionship."
A moment's pause, and Noel added—
"My brother, are you speaking plainly? If you would have me answer fairly and frankly, methinks your questions should be direct and comprehensive.
"Noel, I will speak plainly. Do you still cherish the same affection for my sister that you once confessed to her?"
"Confessed?" repeated our hero, with a start. "Has she told you ?"
Noel was for a time silent. What could his companion mean? He asked himself the question, and his heart sank with the inward answer. What else could be meant save that he must rest satisfied with the restoration of his estates? what else but that this restoration must compensate him for the relinquishment of the Lady Grace's love?
"Robert," he at length said, "if you imagine that the love which has burned with a flame so pure and so holy within my heart can ever be extinguished, you do not know me. Yours may bear me away from her—bear me to the age of frost and decay, but never can the tide of life bear me from the one memory of all memories in which the image of my love is en- shrined. Grace may become anothers, and thus crush the great hope for ever—but my love can know no abatement while I have sense and knowledge left!"
Robert turned away his head, and played with his watch seal. At length helooked up, and said,—
"Could I have my own way, Noel, there should be so bearing of you away from the ob- ject of your love ; but you are aware that my father's will is above mine. Grace has received
an offer of marriage from the Earl of Oakhamp- ton, and the alliance is pleasing to my father. He may insist upon its consummation."
"And Grace," whispered Noel, hoarsely
He hesitated ; and Robert continued—
"The earl is young and handsome, and of good habits. He has been much in the society of my sister, and you cannot wonder that she should have conceived a friendship toward him,
"And she has accepted him?"
"But she has not rejected him?" "Not directly."
Noel sank back with a stifled groan, and his head was bowed.
"Come, come," cried Robert, cheerily—"we must not have unhappiness now. Upon my soul, Noel, I believe you are the only man who could make Grace truly happy."
Our hero started back to life.
"I know," Robert continued, "that my sister loves you, truly and devotedly ; and if you still cherish the same feelings toward her, I may be able, through his great affection for his child, to influence my father in your favor. But hope not too strongly."
"O, my Father!" ejaculated the youth, fer- vently clasping his hands, "grant that this sweet cup be not dashed from my lips!"
A moment more, and Robert arose, and walked to the far part of the room. Then he paced to and fro a while, finally stopping before the occupied sofa.
"Noel, I must leave you for a little time, but not for long. I will soon return."
" One word before you go!" cried our hero, starting to his feet.
"No, not now."
" Only one word."
"By-and-by you may ask a thousand ques- tion!, If you like ; but not one now."
And thus speaking, Robert turned away. There was a curious expression upon his face, and once he hesitated, as though he would speak further, but with evident effort he over- came the impulse, and left the apartment.
If ever man was bewildered, Noel Bradford was bewildered as he sat alone in that drawing room. If ever man was at a loss for thought, he was at a loss then. Deeper and deeper grew the mystery, and beyond its intricate meshes he could not stretch an idea of reason or proba- bility. There were bright threads in the web, but he could trace them to no sure connection with substantial forms.
The young man was floundering in his per- plexity when Guy Darringford entered, and took a seat by his side.
"Noel," said the smuggler, "did you tell Robert Warrington who I was?"
"Yes—that is, I told him you were my mother's brother. But—surely, I—"
"O, it's no harm," interrupted Guy, as he noticed the youth's confusion. "I only wished to know how he found out the secret."
"But I thought you heard our conversation
in the cell."
"Not the whole of it. You know I was in- terrupted. You told Robert that I was your mother's brother ; and he, in turn, told you
"Yes, he told me—"
"Why do you hesitate?"
"Because I am repeating a private conversa-
"It can do no harm, nor violate confidence now," said the smuggler. " Warrington let fall a remark this morning which betrayed his knowledge of my true name, and I know he must have had the clue from you. Now I only wished to know if he told that name to you."
"He did, sir. He told me that you were Sir Oswald St George ; and he also informed me that you had been most deeply wronged by the
"And he told you the truth," returned the smuggler, with quivering lip.
"And will you not now tell me more?" urged Noel. "I wish you would open your heart, and tell me of the circumstance that drove you from the society of your equals."
"You shall hear it, my boy ; and you should have heard it before had I not been anxious to conceal my family name as long as possible.
Noel listened eagerly.
"There were in our family," commenced the smuggler, "two brothers, and one sister. I was the oldest. Over the fate of my younger brother there still hangs a mystery which I can- not fathom, though I am confident that Robert Warrington possesses a key to its solution. There is, in foot, a mysterious chain of circum- stances seeming to connect the fates of my brother and my sister, though of the affairs of the latter I know more than of the former. But let that pass, until some kind hand shall unfold the tangled web. When quite young I was placed by my father in the royal navy, and just as the war with the American colonies broke out I had been rated to the command of
a brig of fourteen guns. During the troubles in Boston, while General Howe held that city, I had a transport brig and a store-ship placed under my convoy, which vessels I was ordered to conduct safely into Boston Harbor. The transport was accidentally blown up at sea, and the store ship was most adroitly stolen from me—cut out at night—by a Yankee priva- teer. It was a bold and daring feat, and in my heart I forgave the fellow for the act. In the meantime, however, General Howe was suffering for want of the men and stores I was to bring, and on my arrival empty-handed, h was so ex- asperated that he persuaded Admiral Shuldham to send me home in disgrace. It was asserted that I—that I—had contrived the whole plot— that I had secretly caused the transport to be blown up, and had connived with the privateer for the capture of the store-ship."
A moment the smuggler pressed his hand upon his brow, and a low moan escaped his lips. The memory of the disgrace came upon him with painful effect, and the dreadful ordeal seemed again opened before him.
"But never mind. It has long since passed, and I have had my revenge. When I returned to England I was summoned before the Admi- ralty, and court-martialled. I was disgraced from the service ;, and my name, connected with the black and diabolical lie, was given through the public prints! Crushed in spirit, and driven from the pale of my equals, I resolved to be revenged upon the Government that had so foully wronged me ;—and I have kept my pledge. In one year I have taken from her revenue more than a million pounds sterling! You start, but it is nevertheless true. Ah, the name of Guy Darringford has been a terror to our Lords of the Treasury! Do you wonder that I suffered?—Do you wonder that I sought revenge?—Remember—I had been driven out, like Cain, from the society of honorable men.— Do you wonder?
"Indeed, I do not," cried Noel, quickly and heartily, " O, the blow must have been a fear-
"Aye, my boy,—'twas fearful beyond com- pute!"
But, Guy,—my uncle,—will you continue this dangerous life?"
"Not if the Government will cry quits, and square accounts," returned the smuggler. "But she must wash the stain from my name ; she must place me upon my true level."
"And be sure it shall be done!" said Robert Warrington, who had quietly entered the room, and overheard the last part of the conversation. "It has long been known to the Admiralty that Sir Oswald St. George was unjustly condemned. But come, good Darringford,—I would speak with you in private."
Then turning to our hero, he added—
"You will make yourself comfortable for the present. Before night I shall have news for you."
And thus speaking, Robert took Darringford's arm, and left the apartment.
AS ANGEL IN FLESH AND BLOOD.
GRADUALLY the footfalls of the departing pair died away in the distance, and the wanderer
was once more alone.
The heavy damask curtains, hanging in folds of purple and gold, so shaded the arched win- dows that the light was softened and subdued almost to the temperament of eventide, and the far part of the room, stretching away into pillared alcoves, hung with sombre drapery, fairly lost its distinctness of outline. The marble lion, and the quaint unicorn—one upon each side of the elaborately wrought fire place —seemed to move in the faint shimmer, as
though making ready to leap over the golden crown that stood out in relief above them.
One of the bells of St. James' struck the hour of ten, and as the rich, sonorous tones died away upon the air, a strange feeling possessed the youth,—a soft, soothing influence, as though a charm had been cast upon his spirit. Presently he heard a slight rustling in the distance, and upon looking up he saw the drapery of one of the alcoves drawn aside. With a wild bound- ing of the heart he leaped to his feet, and stood
like one entranced.
In the far part of the room, against the heavy drapery which had been let fall behind it, stood the celestial phantom of his oft-repeated vision. Its whiteness, like light, had lost none of its purity, but its dazzling, blinding brilliancy was gone. The face was as beautiful as ever, but not now, as before, that ethereal, nebulous gleaming. Noel moved not—he spoke not,— but with enraptured gaze he strained his eyes toward the dimly lighted recess.
Slowly the beautiful presence moved toward the centre of the room, where the light of day
bathed its form and features.
What is that change? It is the same form —the same sweet face, and yet it is not the same. And that rising and falling of the snowy bosom? Hark! A breath—a sob!
A single step the youth advanced, and then stopped, fearful that he should dispel the vision. Involuntarily he opened his arms, and the soft, liquid light of his eye was supernal. There was a movement, as of the flitting of a shadow —a low cry broke the air,—and on the next moment Noel clasped his arms about a form of life and substance ; other arms were twined about his neck—and a head was pillowed upon
"O, my brother, my brother!" fell from the angel's lips, and than, lifting her head from its tear-wet pillow, she gazed up into the youth's
As Noel met that gaze the cloud was rent in sunder. Up from the past was lifted the dark curtain, and his memory went back to the be- ginning. Now he know his angel visitant—the ideal had become real, and the phantom pre- sence had come to him a material form, warm with active life. The celestial had taken on the terrestrial—and he behold his own, his loved, his loving his earthly sister!
The flood of joy was whelming, and with tears and sobs—with words of wonder and of praise —the brother and sister held each other in warm and rapturous embrace. * * * * * *
"O, my sweet sister, tell me, if you can, what it all means. It is to me like the supernal flash- ing of light that blinds and bewilders."
They had seated themselves upon a sofa, their hands lovingly interlocked.
"Do you have no remembrance of your
"It may be a phantasy of the imagination," replied Noel, as the charmed sound echoed in his ear, and in his soul, "but still that name appears familiar. It calls up from the mystic chambers of memory emotions that could not respond to a mere myth. But, Esther, is my face familiar to you? Would you have known
"Aye, as though we had never been sepa-
"And how? How have you held my image so strongly?"
Esther looked up, and with a beaming smile replied—
"To the world, Noel, the story might seem wild and incredible, and be termed foolish and visionary, but nevertheless it is true, though very wonderful. I am older than you, and can remember an event which can hardly be re- flected in your remembrance. I allude to the
death of our father."
"I have pictured such a scene to myself," Noel said ; but I am fain to believe that there can be little of absolute memory in it. I pro- bably received the impression from the oft-
repeated account of the scene given me by the woman who, at the time, I believed to be my
It must have boon so," returned Esther, with fond, devoted gaze into the frank and manly face of her brother, "for you were too young to have retained an impression made upon your sense at that period, without later assistance to memory. Even I remember it but as an isolated event, much of what followed being all blank. Of my voyage across the Atlantic I can remember but little. But I can remember how I used to sit, hour after hour, and through the whole weary day, and cry for my brother—for little Noel, and from that time your image has been fixed in my mind, and in my heart—growing with my growth, and developing into youth, and into manhood as my own spirit found growth and develop- ment. Nine years after we reached this country, one evening in early autumn—I think it must have been between 9 and 10 o'clock—as I sat alone in one of the smaller drawing rooms, a strange sense of drowsiness came upon me, and I sank beneath its influence. It was not like sleep, for there was a chill upon me, and I shuddered and shivered, as though in the hands of a power which I could not overcome. My eyes were fixed upon the burning taper as I sank back, and in a moment more those beams had spread out, over a vast space, into ten thousand twinkling stars, and I found myself on the deck of a ship, in the midst of a track- less ocean. At that moment I saw with spiritual vision, and seemed to comprehend the past, the present, and the future. I knew that you had sought your hammock, and I descended to the place of your repose. You had just fallen asleep, but I knew that I had the power of making myself visible to you ; so I laid my hand upon your arm, and called your name. You opened your eyes and looked upon me, and I knew you as I had known you ever. Your every feature was as familiar as though we had spent the years agone in each other's close com- panionship. I spoke words of cheer and com- fort to you, promising you peace and joy in the future, and I held out to you a wreath of laurel. Then you stretched forth your hand, and an irresistible power drew me away."
"Strange! Oh, how strange!" murmured Noel, scanning again and again the features of his sister. "How distinctly and vividly every line and shade of that vision is fixed upon my memory! Ah, Esther, my sister, you may never know how often the words of that heaven sent messenger have guided my foot from error. In the dark hours of danger they have given me strength and courage, and in the still darker hours of temptation they have lighted me on in the path of manhood and duty. And you came again I saw the celestial form once more on board that same ship "
"Aye," returned Esther, while a shudder shook her frame from head to foot. " That was
a fearful scene. I was asleep in my bed, when I was disturbed by a low rumbling sound, which gradually increased to a terrific roar, as though the whole grand artillery of heaven had ex- ploded above my head. Again I was upon the deck of the Hector. The men were rushing toward the stern of the storm-riven bark, but you were not with them. I turned to the bows, and saw you there. Mercy! what a sight! The grim spirit of destruction already had the fated ship in its grasp. But I knew you were safe, and I whispered to you,—'Be not afraid, my brother ; I am with thee!' Did you see me
"See thee? O! how plainly!—how joyfully! But tell me, Esther,Did you ever inform Robert Warrington of this circumstance?"
"Before he went to India ?" "Yes."
"And I can now account for his seemingly strange conduct when I told him the same story, one evening, on our homeward voyage. But what could he have meant by saying that his sister's suspicion must be right? I had never spoken to her of this."
Esther gazed up into her brother's face, and a quiet smile lurked about the corners of her mouth, and twinkled in her lustrous eyes.
"The Lady Grace and myself have been inti- mate from early childhood."
"And she knew my countenance—every
feature of it."
Noel returned his sister's earnest gaze, utterly unable to comprehend her aim. She noticed his perplexity, and still smiling, she proceeded—
"Methinks, from all I have heard, that Grace had studied your own face not a little. There, don't blush, Noel. I will tell you the secret. I think, if you and I were to stand side by side, and look into a mirror, you would acknowledge that one who had seen the sister, and marked her features, could not pass the brother by un-
"Esther, I think there is a similitude in our
"I think there is, Noel ; and in this remark- able similitude lies the secret of Grace's emo- tions upon beholding you."
"And you think, sweet sister, if I had not re- sembled you so strangely, Grace would have failed to notice me with interest?"
Noel said this in a sportive mood ; but the smile quickly passed away, and a slight flush came in its place.
"O, no," Esther replied—"I meant not that. I only alluded to the cause of the suspicion which she entertained, and which she gave to her brother. Ah, I much fear me that even her first impressions were deeper than surprise, and far more lasting."
A short silence, and Noel said—
"Of course you have known the brother, if you have known the sister. Perhaps, Esther, you may, ere long, know Robert Warrington better yet."
Esther blushed ; but her blush was tempered with a happy smile, as she frankly replied—
"I understand you, Noel ; and I freely admit that while you have loved the sister, I have loved the brother ; and my only prayer in that direction is that we may both be happy in our
"Ah, Esther, I know not that I shall ever possess my choice."
"But you can hope?"
"Yes," fervently ejaculated our hero ; "and when that hope fades away, God grant that it may be into the brighter realm of fruition."
For a time the brother and sister sat in silence. Their conversation had been free and uncon- strained, like as though they had met thus niter only a short separation. Theirs were hearts made for the abode of sympathy and affection —fashioned by the hand of God after the image of His own love ; and thus peculiarly fitted for the reception of those remarkable impres- sions which had flashed their emotions to the
brain, and led to strange and startling episodes
in their lives.
By and by a look of sadness rested upon Noel's features, and raising his eyes, he mur-
"O, that our mother had lived to see this happy moment!"
"Our mother!" repeated Esther.
She seemed upon the point of saying more ; but with an effort she put back the words, and gazed silently into her brother's tearful eyes. She arose from her seat, and Noel followed her example. She turned toward him, and was once more clasped in her brother's embrace ; and a sweet, warm, impulsive kiss, through which their heats sent forth whole tomes of love, was the only token of the brief parting.
"Now, my boy," cried Robert Warrington, entering the room, and seizing his friend by the hand and drawing him toward the door. "Ere we eat our dinner the last sand in your glass of doubts and fears shall have dropped through for ever. Come."
"So soon!" murmured Noel, unconscious of what he said, but moving as one in a dream.
"Yes, yes. Come,—everything is waiting." So saying Robert led the bewildered youth from the apartment—through the long hall, through an ante-room, and finally into the grand drawing-room of the dwelling, where a dozen or more people were collected. The first face which our hero recognised was that of Captain McIvor, the commander of the Atlas, and hastening forward, he grasped the old man by the hand, exclaiming, as he did so—
"My dear captain, this is a pleasure indeed!" "Aye, aye, my boy ; and a true pleasure it is to me also," returned McIvor, while a gleam of intense satisfaction lighted his eyes.
Noel could speak no further with his old com- mander, for Robert led him away to another part of the room, where stood Lord and Lady Warrington, together with the smuggler, and three old attorneys, in powdered wigs. When cordial greetings had been interchanged, one of the dignitaries, who wore the ermine of the King's Bench, called upon the captain of the Atlas, and having taken a roll of papers from the table, he asked—
"Captain McIvor, is this the person whom you took from the wreck of the American ship Hector, between ten and eleven years ago?"
"It is, your honor."
"You are confident?" "I am."
"Depositions have already been taken from you concerning the youth's account of himself at that time. This signature is yours?"
"And this is the individual alluded to
"It is, your honor."
The judge turned to Noel, and with a bland
"The proceedings in your favor have been closed these two hours ; but as a final cast of evidence we only required the recognition of Captain McIvor to place the whole thing beyond doubt. These papers and broad parchments are now yours, and our earnest prayer is, that England may have reason to be proud of your
As the judge concluded he placed the roll in our hero's hand, and ere Noel could recover himself from his bewilderment all had left the room save Lord and Lady Warrington, Guy Darringford, Robert, and himself. For a time no one spoke, though all seemed full of desire to do so. There were eager glances from one to another, as though the time for explanation had
Finally Lord Warrington motioned the com- pany to be seated, and then turning to the wait- ing youth he said—
"Noel, to me has been left the task of explain- ing the various circumstances which have thus far conspired to make up the measure of your destiny."
Despite his anxiety, Noel could not but re- member that two sweet faces were missing. He was wondering why Grace and Esther were not there, when the words of the old noble
"When your mother was yet but a girl, she had the fortune, or misfortune, as you may please to term it, to fall in love with a young baronet, from the north of England, named Malcolm St. George."
"How?" exclaimed the smuggler, starting from his seat. "My brother, Malcolm St. George, did you say?"
"Be easy," urged Warrington, motioning the astounded man back to his seat. "Be easy, and you shall soon understand it. It is as I have said, Sir Oswald—your brother Malcolm was this young man's father."
Then turning to Noel, he continued—
"Your mother's father objected to the match ; and when, in time, the youthful couple were clandestinely married, his rage knew no bounds Barbara—that was your mother's name—being an only child, had supposed that her parent would forgive her when he know that the mar- riage had been consummated ; but in this she was mistaken. He not only discarded her, but forbade her ever to enter his doors again. Sir Malcolm owned a small property in Westmore- land, and thither he took his young wife, where dwelt his only sister, Esther. Now, this sister had married a man of Welsh descent, whose name was also St. George—the son of a branch of the old family."
"Then my father and Guy Dar—or, I should say, Sir Oswald St. George—were brothers?" interrupted Noel, excitedly.
"Exactly," returned his lordship. "But when these marriages took place Sir Oswald had been most wickedly traduced and disgraced from the navy, and had disappeared from the country ; or, at least, so it was supposed, for none sus- pected that he and the daring smuggler of the Irish Sea were one and the same person. But after your sister (who was named for her aunt) and yourself were born, your father suffered so much from the persecution of his wife's relatives, and particularly from her father, that he was forced to flee the country ; and he sought re- fuge in America. Your aunt, whose death you witnessed at Kendal, suffered so much mortifi- cation and grief in the disgrace of her brother, that she finally persuaded her husband to take the same route ; and they, too, went to America ; but they did not find your parents.
"When you were two years old your father sank under the weight of disease and misfortune, and died in abject poverty. Shortly after this bereavement your mother received a letter from her father, in which he freely forgave her all past offences, promising that if she would re- turn to his arms, to bless his old-age, she and her children should inherit his estates. Bar- bara resolved to return ; but she could not find means to pay the passage of both her children ; so she left her son in the care of a kind hearted widow—a Mrs. Bradford—promising to send for him immediately upon her arrival in Eng-
land. She found it difficult to make this choice —it pained her to the heart,—but Esther was the more delicate, and hence her selection. As for the matter of leaving either of her loved ones behind, it was simply a choice between that and begging. She could not do this latter thing—she could not do it?
"By one of those peculiar circumstances of chance which sometimes turn up in human affairs. Esther St. George, your aunt, had also lost her husband, and had taken passage in the same ship with your mother and sister. Esther had no children, and upon their arrival in Eng- land, Barbara, who did not wish the world to know how poverty-stricken she had been, got her sister-in-law to claim you as her own son, and under that guise to send for you herself. Esther readily agreed to the arrangement ; and very shortly afterward she fell in with Guy Darringford, whom she recognised to be her long- lost brother, Oswald. To him she confided the task of seeking you, and believing that he would work more zealously if he thought it was her own child he was to seek, she did not let him into the secret of your true birth. On his first visit to America he found that Mrs. Brad- ford had moved, and he could gain no trace of her ; but he was told that the child he sought had once a sister, and when he returned he asked Esther the meaning of it. She knew not how far she might implicate herself by denying the rumor, so she confessed that she had had another child, but that it died before she left America. And the smuggler kept up the search, believing all the while that he was searching for his sister's child instead of his brother Malcolm's."
At this point Lord Warrington paused, and Sir Oswald said, with much emotion—
"I cannot blame my sister for the deception of later years, for her mind has been sadly shattered—so much so that I have no doubt she had come to forgot that our dear Noel was not really her own child. Her memory had failed her, and she evidently had gained an im- pression of truth from the long-cherished false- hood. But she should have told me the truth in the beginning."
"Never mind, Sir Oswald," returned War- rington. "Let the past of error be forgotten and forgiven, as the king hath this day done by you. Do you realise that you once more stand, free and unbowed, among your true peers?
The restored baronet was moved to tears of joy and gratitude.
Then turning to our hero, the old noble pro-
"With the facts and circumstances of the smuggler's search you are fully acquainted, and upon only one important subject are you now in the dark. Listen, and I will give you light :
Within a few years after your mother's return to the home of her earlier days her father died ; but he had come to love his daughter very dearly, and had hoped that he should behold his grandson before he had done with earth. But that privilege was denied him. Still he had determined, if possible, that a male heir of his own blood should succeed him. Knowing not what difficulties might be thrown in the way after he was gone, he drew up a new will, and obtained a patent from the king for its religious observance. By those instruments his titles and estates were to remain in wardship until the son of his daughter was found, or until absolute proof had been presented of his death. It was also provided that the heir should take the family name, to which, of course, under the law, he is entitled. This will was made privately, and lodged in faithful hands, with express in- structions, backed by Royal consent, that it should not be opened until the Lady Barbara gave her consent. And hence you can understand why your mother continued to keep her secret, and why the Lady Esther St. George held it sacred to the last. She feared that there might be male relatives of the family who, if they gained knowledge of your existence, would seek you out to destroy you. It seems, however, that you were open to the same danger on the other hand ; for that hot-headed young Welshman, Rupert, believing you to be the son of his uncle, feared for his own estates. There was one per- son, not a member of the family, who knew the secret of your birth—an old gipsy woman, named Thamar, who once nursed your aunt through a fit of delirious fever ; and to the shrewd planning of this woman, so far as the settlement of the Westmoreland property is con- cerned, we owe much."
"But," continued Warrington, arising, and grasping our hero's hand, "all is now clear and plain, and well established. The estates of your maternal grandfather, his family name, and his titles, are now yours."
"And that grandfather," whispered Noel, whoso heart was hushed in eager suspense,
"Who was he?"
"Your mother's father was Lord Henry Milbourne, Earl of Oakhampton."
"You are Lord Noel Milbourne, present Earl of Oakhampton."
"Just Heaven ! Can this be—"
Thus far had Noel exclaimed when his eye caught a scene that held him utterly spell- bound. Up from the lower end of the room, just emerging from the broad way which had been opened by withdrawing the heavy hangings by the Moorish arch, approached Grace War- rington and his sister Esther, leading between them a mild-eyed, beautiful woman, in the prime of life. A moment the lovely trio stopped—
then she who stood in the centre broke from her companions, and with a low, stifled cry of de- lirious joy, she sprang forward and caught the entranced youth in her warm, love-tempered em-
"My son! my son! O, my son!" And un- able to articulate more she hung upon the neck of her long-lost boy, sobbing as though her heart would burst with its wild flood of ma- ternal rapture.
Fondly—tenderly—for the time forgetful of all else in the world—did Noel hold that sacred
form in his manly arms ; and as he gazed into the love-lit face he knew that he could safely cry,—" My mother! My own, my own dear
mother!" * * * * *
The hearts that for a time throbbed so pain- fully in their delirium of joy had been hushed to a more quiet and peaceful realization of the blessed reunion ; the tears had been wiped away ; and the young Earl had resigned his
mother to a seat.
And then Noel turned toward Grace War- rington, and put forth both his hands. She looked to her father, and met a kind smile of approval. That was enough. On the next moment she had pillowed her head upon the bosom of the man whom, above all else in the world, she truly and devotedly loved.
And so the Earl of Oakhampton had sued for the Lady Grace's hand ; and, in truth, he had won it, and her whole heart with it!
"Now," said Robert Warrington, with eager tremulousness, "I have a favor to ask of you, Lord Noel ; for henceforth you are the head of the family, and must direct its affairs."
The youthful earl cast a sidelong glance at his sister Esther, and in her blushing, downcast, yet earnest look, he read the favor they would ask. He took her hand, and led her forward. He hesitated, and turned toward the Lady Bar-
"With your permission, my mother." "Yes, Noel—yes."
Then he placed the hand of his sister in the keeping of his dear friend, saying, as he did so—
"There, take her, Robert ; and if your joy in receiving the boon is as great as is mine in be- stowing it, you must be happy indeed." ======
TABLE MANNERS.—I have sat at many a table where the wife and daughters appeared re- fined and polite, but the lord of the house shocked visitors and, I know, mortified the family by his uncouth ways. We will say nothing of leaning the elbows on the table and eating with the knife. It does seem hardly necessary, however, to help food to others with one's own knife and fork when other means are
provided, to make a noise in drinking like animals that are supposed to live in a sty, or to smack the lips in imitation of the aforesaid quadrupeds. I forbear mentioning other examples. Now, many of these men are very intelligent, more so than some city merchants, and they ought to know and practice better manners. It is to be feared some of them do not care. There is no more significant test of instructive refinement and cultivation than is to be found in the manner of one's eating. But if a man or a woman insists on feeding vocifer- ously, like long-nosed animals, what will you do about it? This is a free country. It is con- dign punishment to sit at table with people who are disagreeable eaters, but where they are lords of the house, the only resource is to eat at the second table or by one's self. The time to begin to be inoffensive in one's manners at table is in child- hood. Dickens makes one of his characters, a sturdy mechanic, while eating his Sunday dinner, exhort his daughter thus : " Sue, stop that chawing noise with your mouth ;" and we never hear that " chawing noise" without wish- ing that Dickens or somebody else would put a stop to it. The only animal that is social in its manner of eating is man. The table is the garden where should bloom the choicest flowers
of domestic and social life ; here satisfaction is one's due, here courtesy, refinement, charity may be shown in fullest measure. How desir- able that these reunions should possess every
possible attraction, both by the absence of all that can annoy and the presence of everything that can delight.—Weekly Tribune.