« PreviousContinue »
at the paper, over William Wylder's bawling, he tried to pull his friend shoulder, nearly bearing that gentle- Rachel into a corner. man down on his face, but his clutch Nonsense, little man,” cried his fell short.
father, with quick reproof, on hearing “Hallo! Miss Lake, ma'am-the this sacrilegious uproar. Mr. Larkin
never hurt any oue; tut, tut; sit down, But wild words were of no avail. and look at your book. The whole party, except Rachel, were But Rachel, with a smile of love and aghast. The Attorney's small eye gratification, lifted the little man up glanced over the ground and hearth- in her arms, and kissed him; and his stone, where the bits were strewn, like thin, little legs were clasped about her “Ladies' smocks, all silver white,
waist, and his arms round her neck, That paint the meadows with delight."
and he kissed her with his wet face, de
vouringly, blubbering "the frightle He had nothing for it, but to submit man--you doatie !—the frightle man!" to fortune with his best air. He stood
“Then, Mr. Wylder, I shall have erect ; a slanting beam from the win- the document prepared again from the dow glimmered on his tall, bald head, draft. You'll see to that, Mr. Buggs, and his face was black and menacing please ; and perhaps it will be better as the summit of a thunder-crowned that you should look in at The Lodge.'
When he mentioned The Lodge, it You are not aware, Miss Lake, of was in so lofty a way, that a stranger the nature of your act, and of the con- would have supposed it something sequences to which you have exposed very handsome, indeed, and one of yourself, madam. But that is a view the sights of the county. of the occurrence in which, except as Say, about nine o'clock to-morrow a matter of deep regret, I cannot be morning. Farewell, Mr. Wylder, faresupposed to beimmediately interested. well. I regret the enhanced expense I will mention, however, that your – I regret the delay- I regret the risk interference-your violent interfer- - I regret, in fact, the whole scene. ence, madam, may be attended with Farewell, Mrs. Wylder.” And with a most serious consequences to my reve- silent bow to Rachel-perfectly porend client, for which, of course, you lished-perfectly terrible—he withhave considered yourself fully respon- drew, followed by the sallow clerk, sible, when you entered on the course and by that radiant scamp, old Buggs, of unauthorized conduct, which has who made them several obeisances at resulted in destroying the articles of the door. agreement, prepared with great care “Oh, dear Miss Lake-Rachel, I and labour, for his protection ; and mean-Rachel, dear, I hope it won't retarding the transmission of the do- be all off. Oh, you don't knowcument, by at least four-and-twenty Heaven only knows-the danger we hours, to London. You may, madam, are in. Oh, Rachel, dear, if this is I regret to observe, have ruined my broken off, I don't know what's to beclient.”
come of us—I don't know.” “Saved him, I hope.”
Dolly spoke quite wildly, with her “And run yourself, madam, into a hands on Rachel's shoulders. It was very serious scrape.
the first time she had broken down Upon that point you have said the first time, at least, the Vicar quite enough, sir. Dolly, William, had seen her anything but cheerydon't look so frightened ; you'll both and his head sank, and it seemed as live to thank me for this."
if his last light had gone out, and All this time little Fairy, unheeded, he was quite benighted. was bawling in great anguish of soul, “Do you think,” said he, “there is clinging to Rachel's dress, and cry- much danger of that-do you really ing="Oh! he'll hurt her--he'll hurt think so ?ok her--he'll hurt her. Don't let him “Now, don't blame me,” said Miss don't let him. Wapsie, don't let him. Lake, “and don't be frightened, till Oh, the frightle man !-don't let him you have heard me. Let us sit down --he'll hurt her-the frightle man !” here :-we shan't be interrupted-and And little man's cheeks were drenched just answer your wretched friend, in tears, and his wee feet danced in Rachel, two or three questions, and an agony of terror on the floor, as, hear what she has to say.”
Rachel was flushed and excited, and hundred a-year. There is a little sat with the little boy still in her annuity charged on Sir Hugh Lan
don's estate, and his solicitor has So, in reply to her questions, the written, offering me six hundred Vicar told her frankly how he stood; pounds for it. I will write to-night and Rachel said
accepting that offer, and you shall “Well, you must not think of sell- have the money to pay those debts ing your reversion. Oh! think of which have been pressing so miseryour little boy—think of Dolly—if ably upon you. Don't thank-not a you were taken away from her.' word—but listen. I would so like,
“ But,” said Dolly, “Mr. Larkin Dolly, to come and live with you. We heard from Captain Lake that Mark could unite our incomes. I need only is privately married, and actually has, bring poor old Tamar with me, and I he says, a large family ; and he, you can give up Redman's Farm in Sepknow, has letters from him, and Mr. tember next. I should be so much Larkin thinks, knows more than any happier; and I think my income and one else about him; and if that were yours joined would enable us to live 50, none of us would ever inherit the without any danger of getting into property. So”
debt. Will you agree to this, Dolly, “Do they say that Mark is mar- dear; and promise me, William Wylried ? Nothing can be more false. I der, that you will think no more of know it is altogether a falsehood. He selling that reversion, which may be neither is nor ever will be married. the splendid provision of your dear If my brother dared say that in my little boy? Don't thank mepresence, I would make him confess, anything now; and oh! don't reject before you, that he knows_it cannot my poor entreaty. Your refusal would be. On! my poor little Fairy--my almost make me mad. I would try, poor. Dolly--my poor good friend, Dolly, to be of use. I think I could. William ! What shall I say? I am Only try me." in great distraction of mind.”
She fancied she saw in Dolly's face, And she hugged and kissed the under all her gratitude, some perpale little boy, she herself paler. plexity and hesitation, and feared to
" Listen to me, good and kind as accept a decision then. So she huryou are. You are never to call me ried away, with a hasty and kind your friend ; mind that. I am a good-bye. most un happy creature, forced by A fortnight before, I think, during secret circumstances to be your Dolly's jealous fit, this magnificent enemy, for a time-not always. You offer of Rachel's would, notwithstandhave no conception how, and may ing the dreadful necessities of the never even suspect. Don't ask me, but case, have been coldly received by the listen.”
poor little woman. But that delusion Wonder-struck, and pained was the was quite cured now-no reserve, or countenance with which the Vicar doubt, or coldness left behind. And gazed upon her, and Dolly looked Dolly and the Vicar felt that Rachel's. both frightened and perplexed. noble proposal was the making of
“I have a little inore than three them.
THE ATTORNEY IN REDMAN'S DELL.
Jos LARKIN grew more and more Jim Dutton's letter had somehow uncomfortable about the unexpected an air of sobriety and earnestness, interposition of Rachel Lake as the which made way with his convictions. day wore on He felt, with an un His doubts and suspicions had suberring intuition, that the young lady sided, and he now believed, with a both despised and distrusted him. profound moral certainty, that Mark He also knew that she was impetuous Wylder was actually dead, within the and clever, and he feared from that precincts of a mad-house, or of some small white hand a fatal mischief--he lawless place of detention abroad. could not tell exactly how-to his What was that to the purpose ? plans.
Dutton might arrive at any moment.
Low fellows are always talking; and It was by the drowsy faded light of the story might get abroad before the a late summer's evening that he arassignment of the Vicar's interest. Of rived at the quaint little parsonage. course there was something specula- He maintained his character as tive in the whole transaction, but he nice spoken gentleman,” by inquiring had made his book well, and by his of the maid who opened the door how "arrangement” with Captain Lake,
the little boy was, “Not so wellwhichever way the truth lay, he stood gone bed—but would be better, to win. So the Attorney had no every one was sure, in the morning. notion of allowing this highly satis- So he went in and saw the Vicar, who factory arithmetic to be thrown into had just returned with Dolly from a confusion by the fillip of a small little ramble. Every thing promised gloved finger.
fairly-the quiet mind was returning On the whole, he was not altogether -the good time coming-all the sorry for the delay. Everything pleasanter for the wind and snows of worked together he knew. One or the night that was over. two covenants and modifications in "Well, my good invaluable friend, the articles had struck him as desir- you will be glad-you will rejoice able, on reading the instrument over with us, I know, to learn that, after with William Wylder. He also all, the sale of our reversion is unthought a larger consideration should necessary.” be stated and acknowledged as paid, The Attorney allowed his client to say £22,000. The Vicar would really shake him by both hands, and he receive just £2,200 ! “ Costs” would smiled a sinister congratulation as do something to reduce the balance, well as he could, grinning in reply to for Jos Larkin was one of those oxen the Viear's pleasant smile as cheerwho, when treading out corn, decline fully as was feasible, and wofully to be muzzled. The remainder was puzzled in the mean time. Had James the Vicar would clearly understand Dutton arrived and announced the one of those ridiculous pedantries of death of Mark-no; it could hardly law, upon which our system of crot- be that—decency had not yet quite chets and fictions insisted. And taken leave of the earth ; and stupid William Wylder, whose character, as the Vicar was, he would hardly simply and sensitively honourable, announce the death of his brother to Mr. Larkin appreciated, was to write a Christian gentleman in a fashion so to Burlington and Smith a letter, for outrageous. Had Lord Chelford been the satisfaction of their speculative invoked, and answered satisfactorily? and nervous client, pledging his ho- Or Dorcas--or had Lake, the diabolinour, as a gentleman, and his con cal sneak, interposed with his long science, as a Christian, that in the purse, and a plausible hypocrisy of event of the sale being completed, he kindness, to spoil Larkin's plans? would never do, countenance, or per- All these fanciful queries flitted mit, any act or proceeding whatsoever, through his brain as the Vicar's hands tending on any ground to impeach or shook both his, and he laboured hard invalidate the transaction.
to maintain the cheerful grin with “I've no objection-have I ?.-to which he received the news, and his write such a letter," asked the Vicar guileful rapacious little eyes searched of his adviser.
narrowly the countenance of his client. Why, I suppose you have no in So after a while, Dolly assisting, tention of trying to defeat your own and sometimes both talking together, act, and that is all the letter would the story was told, Rachel blessed go to. I look on it as wholly unim- and panegyrized, and the Attorney's portant, and it is really not a point congratulations challenged and yieldworth standing upon for a second.” ed once more. But there was some
So that also was agreed to. thing not altogether joyous in Jos
Now while the improved “instru- Larkin's countenance, which struck ment” was in preparation, the Attor- the Vicar, and he saidney strolled down in the evening to ‘You don't see any objection ?'' look after his clerical client, and keep and paused. him “straight” for the meeting at “Objection ? Why, objection, my which he was to sign the articles next dear sir, is a strong word; but I fear day.
I do see a difticulty--in fact, several
difficulties. Perhaps you would take which render any such arrangement a little turn on the green. I must absolutely impracticable. I need not, call for a moment at the reading- my dear sir, be more particular-at room, and I'll explain. You'll for- present, at least. In a little time you give me, I hope, Mrs. Wylder,” he will probably be made acquainted added, with a playful condescension, with them, by the inevitable occur* for running away with your hus- rences of time, which, as the wise band, but only for a few minutes - man says, ' discovers all things.' ha, ha!”
“But-but what”-stammered the The shadow was upon Jos Larkin's pale Vicar, altogether shocked and face, and his cheeks were working giddy. a little uncomfortably, as they ap “You will not press me, my dear proached the quiet green of Gylingden. sir ; you'll understand that, just now,
“What a charming evening,” said I really cannot satisfy any particular the Vicar, making an effort at cheer- inquiry. Miss Lake has spoken, in fulness.
charity I will hope and trust, without “ Delicious evening-yes,” said the thought. But I am much mistaken, Attorney, throwing back' his long or she will herself, on half-an-hour's head, and letting his mouth drop. calm conversation, see the moral imBut though his face was turned up possibilities which interpose between toward the sky, there was a contrac- her, to me, most amazing plan and its tion and a shadow upon it, not alto- realization.” gether heavenly
There was a little pause here, “The offer," said the Attorney, during which the tread of their feet beginning rather abruptly, “is no on the soft grass alone was audible. doubt a handsome offer at the first “You will quite understand,” reglance, and it may be well meant. sumed the Attorney, “ the degree of But the fact is, my dear Mr. Wylder, confidence with which I make this six hundred pounds would leave little communication ; and you will please, more than a hundred remaining after specially, not to mention it to any Burlington and Smith have had their person whatsoever. I do not except, costs. You have no idea of the ex in fact, any. You will find, on conpense and trouble of title, and the sideration, that Miss Lake will not inevitable costliness, my dear sir, of press her residence upon you. No; all conveyancing operations. The I've no doubt Miss Lake is a very indeeds, I have little doubt, in conse- telligent person, and, when not exquence of the letter you directed me cited, will see it clearly.” to write, have been prepared--that is, The Attorney's manner had somein draft, of course—and then, my thing of that reserve, and grim sort dear sir, I need not remind you, that of dryness, which supervened whenthere remain the costs to me--those, ever he fancied a friend or client on of course, await your entire conve- whom he had formed designs was benience--but still it would not be either coming impracticable. Nothing affor your or my a:lvantage that they fected him so much as that kind of should be forgotten in the general unkindness. adjustment of your affairs which I Jos Larkin took his leave a little understand you to propose.
abruptly. He did not condescend to The Vicar's countenance fell. In ask the Vicar whether he still enterfact, it is idle to say that, being un tained Miss Lake's proposal. He had accustomed to the grand scale on not naturally a pleasant temperwhich law costs present themselves somewhat short, dark, and dangerous, on occasion, he was unspeakably but by no means noisy. This temshocked ; and he grew very pale and per, an intense reluctance ever to say silent on hearing these impressive sen ** thank you,” and a profound and tences.
quiet egotism, were the ingredients “And as to Miss Lake’s residing of that “pride” on which -a little inwith you-I speak now, you will un- consistently, perhaps, in so eminent a derstand, in the strictest confidence, Christian--he piqued himself. It because the subject is a painful one; must be admitted, however, that his as to her residing with you, as she pride was not of that stamp which proposes, Miss Lake is well aware would prevent him from listening to that I am cognizant of circumstances other men's private talk, or reading,
their letters, if anything were to be on the high road to greatness, and got by it; or from prosecuting his the trumpery little place in which he small spites with a patient and viru- found himself. lent industry; or from stripping a Old Tamar was sitting in the porch, man of his possessions, and transfer- with her closed bible upon her knees; ring them to himself by processes there was no longer light to read by. from which most men would shrink. She rose up, like the “grim, white
“Well,” thought the Vicar, “ that woman who haunts yon wood," bemunificent offer is unavailing, it fore him. seems. The sum insufficient, great Her young lady had walked up to as it is ; and other difficulties in the Brandon, taking the little girl with way.”
her, and she supposed would be back He was walking homewards, lowly again early. and dejectedly; and was now begin Mr. Larkin eyed her for a second ning to feel alarm lest the purchase of to ascertain whether she was telling the reversion should fail. The agree- lies. He always thought every one ment was to have gone up to London might be lying. It was his primary by this day's mail, and now could not impression here. But there was a reach till the day after to-morrow, recluse and unearthly character about four-and-twenty hours later than was the face of the crone which satisfied promised. The Attorney had told him that she would never think of him it was a “touch-and-go affair,” fencing with such weapons with him. and the whole thing might be off in Very good. Mr. Larkin would take a moment; and if it should miscarry, a short walk, and as his business was what inevitable ruin yawned before pressing, he would take the liberty of him! Oh, the fatigue of these mo- fooking in again in about half-annotonous agitations—this never-end- hour, if she thought her mistress ing suspense ! Oh, the yearning would be at home then. unimaginable for quiet and rest! So, although the weird white woHow awfully he comprehended the man who leered after him so strangely reasonableness of the thanksgiving as he walked with his most lordly air which he had read that day in the out of the little garden, and down churchyard—“We give Thee hearty the darkening road toward Gylingden, thanks for that it hath pleased Thee could not say, he resolved to make to deliver this our brother out of the trial again. miseries of this sinful world.”
In the meantime Rachel had arWith the Attorney it was different. rived at Brandon Hall. DorcasMaking the most of his height, whom, if the truth were spoken, she which he fancied added much to the would rather not have met-encounaristocratic effect of his presence, tered her on the steps. She was with his head thrown back, and going out for a lonely, twilight walk swinging his walking cane easily be- upon the terrace, where many a beautween his finger and thumb by his tiful Brandon of other days, the sunside, he strode languidly through the shine of whose smile lived only in main street of Gylingden, in the the canvas that hung upon those happy belief that he was making a ancestral walls, and whose sorrows sensation among the denizens of the were hid in the grave and forgotten town.
by the world, had walked in other And so he moved on to the mill days, in the pride of beauty, or in road, on which he entered, and was the sadness of desertion. soon deep in the shadows of Red Dorcas paused upon the door-steps, man's Dell.
and received her sister-in-law upon He opened the tiny garden-gate of that elevation. Redman's Farm, looking about him "Have you really come all this with a supercilious benevolence, like a way, Rachel, to see me this evening ?”? man conscious of bestowing a dis- she said, and something of sarcasm tinction. He was inwardly sensible thrilled in the cold, musical tones. of a sort of condescension in entering "No, Dorcas," said Rachel, taking so diminutive and homely a place--a her proffered hand in the spirit in kind of half amusing disproportion which it was given, and with the air between Jos Larkin, Esq., of The rather of a defiancé than of a greetLodge, worth, already, £27,000, and ing ; “I came to see my brother.”