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A Perilous Secret by Charles Reade

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conquest--great, fat, red-haired thing."

"Auburn."

"Yes, all-burn, scarlet, carrots, _flamme d'enfer_. Well, go and give her
my leavings, yourself and your ancestral--paste."

"Well," said Percy, gloomily, "I might do worse. You never really loved
me; you were always like an enemy looking out for faults. You kept
postponing our union for something to happen to break it off. But I won't
be any woman's slave; I'll use one to drive out the other. None of you
shall trample on me." Then he burst forth into singing. Nobody stammers
when he sings.

"Shall I, wasting in despair,
Sigh because a woman's fair?
Shall my cheeks grow pale with care
Because another's rosy are?
If she be not kind to me,
What care I how fair she be?"

This resolute little gentleman passed through the gate as he concluded
the verse, waved his hand jauntily by way of everlasting adieu, and
went off whistling the refrain with great spirit, and both hands in
his pockets.

"You impudent!" cried Julia, almost choking; then, authoritatively,
"Percy--Mr. Fitzroy;" then, coaxingly, "Percy _dear_."

Percy heard, and congratulated himself upon his spirit. "That's the way
to treat them," said he to himself.

"Well?" said he, with an air of indifference, and going slowly back to
the gate. "What is it now?" said he, a little arrogantly.

She soon let him know. Directly he was quite within reach she gave him a
slap in the face that sounded like one plank falling upon another, and
marched off with an air of royal dignity, as if she had done the most
graceful and lady-like thing in all the world.

How happy are those choice spirits who can always preserve their dignity!

Percy retired red as fire, and one of his cheeks retained that high
color for the rest of the day.

CHAPTER XVIII.

APOLOGIES.

We must now describe the place to which Hope conducted his daughter, and
please do not skip our little description. It is true that some of our
gifted contemporaries paint Italian scenery at prodigious length _a
propos de bottes_, and others show in many pages that the rocks and the
sea are picturesque objects, even when irrelevant. True that others gild
the evening clouds and the western horizon merely to please the horizon
and the clouds. But we hold with Pope that

"The proper study of mankind is man,"

and that authors' pictures are bores, except as narrow frames to big
incidents. The true model, we think, for a writer is found in the opening
lines of "Marmion," where the castle at even-tide, its yellow lustre, its
drooping banner, its mail-clad warders reflecting the western blaze, the
tramp of the sentinel, and his low-hummed song, are flung on paper with
the broad and telling touch of Rubens, not from an irrelevant admiration
of old castles and the setting sun, but because the human figures of the
story are riding up to that sun-gilt castle to make it a scene of great
words and deeds.

Even so, though on a much humbler scale, we describe Hope's cottage and
garden, merely because it was for a moment or two the scene of a
remarkable incident never yet presented in history or fiction.

This cottage, then, was in reality something between a villa and a
cottage; it resembled a villa in this, that the rooms were lofty, and the
windows were casements glazed with plate glass and very large. Walter
Clifford had built it for a curate, who proved a bird of passage, and
the said Walter had a horror of low rooms, for he said, "I always feel as
if the ceiling was going to flatten me to the floor." Owing to this the
bedroom windows, which looked westward on the garden, were a great height
from the ground, and the building had a Gothic character.

Still there was much to justify the term cottage. The door, which looked
southward on the road, was at the side of the building, and opened, not
into a hall, but into the one large sitting-room, which was thirty feet
long and twenty-five feet broad, and instead of a plaster ceiling there
were massive joists, which Hope had gilded and painted till they were a
sight to behold. Another cottage feature: the walls were literally
clothed with verdure and color; in front, huge creeping geraniums,
jasmine, and Virginia creepers hid the brick-work; and the western walls,
to use the words of a greater painter than ourselves, were

"Quite overcanopied with lush woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine."

In the next place, the building stood in a genuine cottage garden. It was
close to the road. The southern boundary was plain oak paling, made of
upright pieces which Hope had varnished so that the color was now a fine
amber; the rest of the boundary was a quick-set hedge, in the western
division of which stood an enormous oak-tree, hollow at the back. And the
garden was fair with humble flowers--pinks, sweet-williams, crimson
nasturtiums, double daisies, lilies, and tulips; but flower beds shared
the garden with friendly cabbages, potatoes, onions, carrots, and
asparagus.

To this humble but pleasant abode Hope conducted his daughter, and
insisted upon her lying down on the sofa in the sitting-room. Then he
ordered the woman who kept the house for him to prepare the spare
bedroom, which looked into the garden, and to cut some of the
sweet-smelling flowers. He himself had much to say to his daughter, and,
above all, to demand her explanation of the awkward circumstances that
had been just revealed. But she had received a great shock, and, like
most manly men, he had a great consideration for the weakness of women,
and his paternal heart said, "Let her have an hour or two of absolute
repose before I subject her to any trial whatever." So he opened the
window to give her air, enjoining her most strictly not to move, and even
to go to sleep if she could; and then he put on his shooting coat, with
large inside pocket, to go and buy her a little wine--a thing he never
touched himself--and what other humble delicacies the village afforded.
He walked briskly away from his door without the least idea that all his
movements were watched from a hiding-place upon his own premises, no
other than the great oak-tree, hollow and open at the back, in which
Leonard Monckton had bored two peep-holes, and was now ensconced there
watching him.

Hope had not gone many yards from his own door when he was confronted
by one of those ruffians who, by their way of putting it, are the
eternal butt of iniquitous people and iniquitous things, namely, honest
men, curse them! and the law, confound it! This was no other than that
Ben Burnley, who, being a miner, had stuck half-way between Devonshire
and Durham, and had been some months in Bartley's mine. He opened on
Hope in a loud voice, and dialect which we despair of conveying with
absolute accuracy.

"Mr. Hope, sir, they won't let me go down t' mine."

"No; you're discharged."

"Who by?"

"By me."

"What for?"

"For smoking in the mine, in spite of three warnings."

"Me smoking in t' mine! Who telt you yon lie?"

"You were seen to pick the lock of your Davylamp, and that put the mine
in danger. Then you were seen to light your pipe at the bare light, and
that put it in worse peril."

"That's a lie. What mak's yer believe my skin's nowt to me? It's all one
as it is to them liars that would rob me of my bread out of clean spite."

"It's the truth, and proved by four honest witnesses. There are a hundred
and fifty men and twenty ponies in that mine, and their lives must not be
sacrificed by one two-legged brute that won't hear reason. You are
discharged and paid; so be good enough to quit the premises and find work
elsewhere; and Lord help your employer, whoever he is!"

Hope would waste no more time over this fellow. He turned his back, and
went off briskly on his more important errand.

Burnley shook his fist at him, and discharged a volley of horrible curses
after him. Whilst he was thus raging after the man that had done his duty
he heard a satirical chuckle. He turned his head, and, behold! there was
the sneering face of his fellow jail-bird Monckton. Burnley started.

"Yes, mate," said Monckton, "it is me. And what sort of a pal are you,
that couldn't send me a word to Portland that you had dropped on to this
rascal Hope? You knew I was after him. You might have saved me the
trouble, you selfish brute."

Burnley submitted at once to the ascendency of Monckton; he hung his
head, and muttered, "I am no scholard to write to folk."

"You grudged a joey to a bloke to write for you. Now I suppose you expect
me to be a good pal to you again, all the same?"

"Why not?" said Burnley. "He is poison to you as well as to me. He
gave you twelve years' penal; you told me so at Portland; let's be
revenged on him."

"What else do you think I am here for, you fool? But empty revenge,
that's child's play. The question is, can you do what you are told?"

"Ay, if I see a chance of revenge. Why, I always did what you told me."

"Very well, then; there's nothing ripe yet."

"Yer don't mean I am to wait a year for my revenge."

"You will have to wait an opportunity. Revenge is like other luxuries,
there's a time for it. Do you think I am such a fool as to go in for
blindfold revenge, and get lagged or stretched? Not for Joseph, nor for
you, either, Benjamin. I'll tell you what, though, I think this will be a
busy day; it must be a busy day. That old fox Bartley has found out his
blunder before now, and he'll try something on; then the Cliffords, they
won't go to sleep on it."

"I don't know what yer talking about," says Burnley.

"Remain in your ignorance, Ben. The best instrument is a blind
instrument; you shall have your revenge soon or late."

"Let it be soon, then."

"In the meantime," said Monckton, "have you got any money?"

"Got my wages."

"That will do for you to-day. Go to the public-house and get half-drunk."

"Half-drunk?"

"Half-drunk! Don't I speak plain?"

"Miners," said Burnley, candidly, "never get half-drunk in t' county
Durham; they are that the best part of their time."

"Then you get half-drunk, neither more nor less, or I'll discharge you as
Hope has done, and that will be the worst discharge of the two for you.
When you are half-drunk come here directly, and hang about this place.
No; you had better be under that tree in the middle of the field there,
and pretend to be sleeping off your liquor. Come, mizzle!"

When he had packed off Burnley, he got back into his hiding-place, and
only just in time, for Hope came back again upon the wings of love, and
Grace, whose elastic nature had revived, saw him coming, and came out to
meet him. Hope scolded her urgently: why had she got off the sofa when
repose was so necessary for her?

"You are mistaken, dear father," said she. "I am wonderfully strong and
healthy; I never fainted away in my life, and my mind will not let me
rest at present--I have been longing so for my father."

"Ah, precious word!" murmured Hope. "Keep saying that word to me,
darling. Oh, the years that I have pined for it!"

"Dear father, we will make up for all those years. Oh, papa, let us not
part again, never, never, not even for a day."

"My child, we never will. What am I saying? I shall have to give you back
to one who has a stronger claim than I--to your husband."

"My husband?" said Mary, turning pale.

"Yes," said Hope; "for you know you have a husband. Oh, I heard a few
words there before I interfered; but it is not to me you'll say '_I
don't know_.' That was good enough for Bartley and a lot of strangers.
Come, Grace dear, take my arm; have no concealments from me. Trust to a
father's infinite love, even if you have been imprudent or betrayed; but
that's a thing I shall never believe except from your lips. Take a turn
with me, my child, since you can not lie down and rest; a little air,
and gentle movement on your father's arm, and close to your father's
heart, will be the next best thing for you." Then they walked to and fro
like lovers.

"Why, Grace, my child," said he, "of course I understand it all. No
doubt you promised to keep your marriage secret, or had some powerful
reason for withholding it from strangers; and, indeed, why should you
reveal such a secret to insolence or to mere curiosity. But you will tell
the truth to me, your father and your best friend; you will tell me you
are a wife."

"Father," said Mary, trembling, and her eyes roved as if she was looking
out for the means of flight.

Hope saw this look, and it made him sick at heart, for he had lived too
long, and observed too keenly, not to know that innocence and purity are
dangers, and are more often protected by the safeguards of society than
by themselves.

"Oh, my child," said he, "anything is better than this suspense; why
do you not answer me? Why do you torture me? Are you Walter
Clifford's wife?"

Mary began to pant and sob. "Oh papa, have patience with me. You do not
know the danger. Wait till he comes back. I dare not; I can not."

"Then, by Heaven, he shall!"

He dropped her arm, and his countenance became terrible. She clung to
him directly.

"No, no; wait till I have seen him. He will be back this very
evening. Do not judge hastily; and oh, papa, as you love your child,
do not act rashly."

"I shall act firmly," was Hope's firm reply. "You have come from a sham
father to a real one, and you will be protected as well as loved. This
lover has forbidden you to confide in your father (he did not know that I
was your father, but that makes no difference); it looks very ugly, and
if he has wronged you he shall do you justice, or I will have his life."

"Oh, papa," screamed Mary, "his life? Why, mine is bound up with it."

"I fear so," said Hope. "But what's our life to us without our honor,
especially to a woman? He is the true Cain that destroys a pure virgin."

Then he put both his hands on her shoulder, and said, "Look at me,
Grace." She looked at him full with eyes as brave as a lion's and as
gentle as a gazelle's.

In a moment his senses enlightened him beyond the power of circumstances
to deceive. "It's a lie," said he; "men are always lying and
circumstances deceiving; there is no blush of shame upon these cheeks, no
sin nor frailty in these pure eyes. You are his wife?"

"I am!" cried Grace, unable to resist any longer.

"Thank God!" cried Hope, and father and daughter were locked that moment
in a tender embrace.

"Yes, papa, you shall know all, and then I shall have to fall on my knees
and ask you not to punish one I love--for--a fault committed years ago.
You will have pity on us both. Walter and I were married at the altar,
and I am his wife in the eyes of Heaven. But, oh, papa, I fear I am not
his lawful wife."

"Not his lawful wife, child! Why, what nonsense!"

"I would to Heaven it was; but this morning I learned for the first time
that he had been married before. Oh, it was years ago; but she is alive."

"Impossible! He could not be so base."

"Papa," said Mary, very gravely, "I have seen the certificate."

"The certificate!" said Hope, in dismay. "What certificate?"

"Of the Registry Office. It was shown me by a gentleman she sent
expressly to warn me; she had no idea that Walter and I were married, but
she had heard somehow of our courtship. I try to thank her, and I tried,
and always will, to save him from a prison and his family from disgrace."

"And sacrifice yourself?" cried Hope, in agony.

"I love him," said Mary, "and you must spare him."

"I will have justice for my child."

Grace was in such terror lest her father should punish Walter that she
begged him to consider whether in sacrificing herself she really had not
been unintentionally wise. What could she gain by publishing that she had
married another woman's husband "I have lost my husband," said she "but I
have found my father. Oh take me away and let me rest my broken heart
upon yours far from all who know me. Every wound seems to be cured in
this world, and if time won't cure this my wound, even with my father's
help, the grave _will_."

"Oh, misery!" cried Hope; "do I hear such words as these from my child
just entering upon life and all its joys?"

"Hush, papa," said Grace; "there is that man."

That man was Mr. Bartley. He looked very much distressed, and proceeded
at once to express his penitence.

CHAPTER XIX.

A WOMAN OUTWITS TWO MEN.

"Oh, Mary, what can I say? I was simply mad, stung into fury by that
foul-mouthed ruffian. Mary, I am deeply sorry, and thoroughly ashamed of
my violence and my cruelty, and I implore you to think of the very many
happy years we have spent together without an angry word--not that you
ever deserved one. Let us silence all comments; return to me as the head
of my house and the heiress of my fortune; you will bind Mr. Hope to me
still more strongly, he shall be my partner, and he will not be so
selfish as to ruin your future."

"Ay," said Hope, "that's the same specious argument you tempted me with
twelve years ago. But she was a helpless child then; she is a woman now,
and can decide for herself. As for me, I will not be your partner. I have
a small royalty on your coal, and that is enough for me; but Grace shall
do as she pleases. My child, will you go to the brilliant future that his
wealth can secure you, or share my modest independence, which will need
all my love to brighten it. Think before you answer; your own future life
depends upon yourself."

With this he turned his back and walked for some distance very stoutly,
then leaned upon the palings with his back toward Grace; but even a back
can speak, and the young lady looked at him and her eyes filled; then she
turned them toward Bartley, and those clear eyes dried as if the fire in
the heart had scorched them.

"In the first place, sir," said she, with a cold and cutting voice, very
unusual to her, "my name is not Mary, it is Grace; and, be assured of
this, if there was not another roof in all the world to shelter me, if I
was helpless, friendless and fatherless, I would die in the nearest ditch
rather than set my foot in the house from which I was thrust out with
shame and insult such as no lady ever yet forgave. But, thank Heaven, I
am not at your mercy at all. He to whom nature has drawn me all these
years is my father--Oh, papa, come to me; is it for _you_ to stand aloof?
It is into your hands, with all the trust and love you have earned so
well from your poor Grace, I give my love, my veneration, and my heart
and soul forever." Then she flung herself panting on his bosom, and he
cried over her. The next moment he led her to the house, where he made
her promise to repose now after this fresh trial; and, indeed, he would
have followed her, but Bartley implored him so piteously, for the sake of
old times, not to refuse him one word more, that he relented so far as to
come out to him, though he felt it was a waste of time.

He said, "Mr. Bartley, it's no use; nothing can undo this morning's
work: our paths lie apart. From something Walter Clifford let fall one
day, I suspect he is the person you robbed, and induced me to rob, of a
large fortune."

"Well, what is he to you? Have pity upon me; be silent, and name your
own price."

"Wrong Walter Clifford with my eyes open? He is the last man in the
world that I would wrong in money matters. I have got a stern account
against him, and I will begin it by speaking the truth and giving him
back his own."

Here the interview was interrupted by an honest miner, one Jim Perkins.
He came in hurriedly, and, like people of that class, thrust everybody
else's business out of his way. "You are wanted at the mine, Mr. Hope.
The shoring of the old works is giving way, and there's a deal of water
collecting in another part."

"I'll come at once," said Hope; "the men's lives must not be endangered.
Have the cage ready." Jim walked away.

Hope turned to Bartley.

"Pray understand, Mr. Bartley, that this is my last visit to your mine."

"One moment, Hope," cried Bartley in despair; "we have been friends so
long, surely you owe me something."

"I do."

"Well, then, I'll make you rich for life if you will but let Mary return
to me and only just be silent; speak neither for me nor against me;
surely that is not much for an old friend to ask. What is your answer?"

"That I will speak the truth, and keep my conscience and my child."

This answer literally crushed Bartley. His very knees knocked together;
he leaned against the palings sick at heart. He saw that Colonel Clifford
would extort not only Walter's legacy, but what the lawyers call the
mesne profits, that is to say, the interest and the various proceeds
from the fraud during fourteen years.

Whilst he was in this condition of bodily collapse and mental horror a
cold, cynical voice dropped icicles, so to speak, into his ear.

"In a fix, governor, eh? The girl won't come back, and Hope won't hold
his tongue."

Bartley looked round in amazement, and saw the cadaverous face and
diabolical sneer of Leonard Monckton. Fourteen years and evil passions
had furrowed that bloodless cheek; but there was no mistaking the man. It
was a surprise to Bartley to see him there and be spoken to by a knave
who had tried to rob him; but he was too full of his immediate trouble to
think much of minor things.

"What do you know about it?" said he, roughly.

"I'll tell you," said Monckton, coolly.

He then walked in a most leisurely way to the gate that led into the
meadow whose eastern boundary was Hope's quick-set hedge, and he came in
the same leisurely way up to Mr. Bartley, and leaned his back, with his
hands behind him, with perfect effrontery, against the palings.

"I know all," said he. "I overheard you in your office fourteen years
ago, when you changed children with Hope."

Bartley uttered an exclamation of dismay.

"And I've been hovering about here all day, and watched the little game,
and now I am fly, and no mistake."

Bartley threw up his hands in dismay. "Then it's all over; I am doubly
ruined. I can not hope to silence you both."

"Don't speak so loud, governor."

"Why not?" said Bartley, "others will, if I don't." He lowered his voice
for all that, and wondered what was coming.

"Listen to me," said Monckton, exchanging his cynical manner for a quiet
and weighty one.

Bartley began to wonder, and look at him with a sort of awe. The words
now dropped out of Monckton's thin lips as if they were chips of granite,
so full of meaning was every syllable, and Bartley felt it.

"It's not so bad as it looks. There are only two men that know you
are a felon."

Bartley winced visibly.

"Now one of those men is to be bought"--Bartley lifted his head with a
faint gleam of hope at that--"and the other--has gone--down a coal-mine."

"What good will that do me?"

The villain paused, and looked Bartley in the face.

"That depends. Suppose you were to offer me what you offered Hope, and
suppose Hope--was never--to come up--again?"

"No such luck," said Bartley, shaking his head sorrowfully.

"Luck," said Monckton, contemptuously; "we make our own luck. Do you see
that vagabond lying under the tree, that's Ben Burnley."

"Ah!" said Bartley, "the ruffian Hope discharged."

"The same, and a man that is burning to be revenged on him: _he's_ your
luck, Mr. Bartley; I know the man, and what he has done in a mine
before to-day."

Then he drew near to Bartley's ear, and hissed into it these
fearful words:

"Send him down the mine, promise him five hundred pounds--if William
Hope--never comes up again--and William Hope never will."

Bartley drew back aghast. "Assassination!" he cried, and by a generous
impulse of horror he half fled from the tempter; but Monckton followed
him up and laid his hand upon his shoulder.

"Hush," said he, "you are getting too near that window; and it is open.
Let me see there's nobody inside."

He looked in. There was nobody. Grace was upstairs, but it did so happen
that she came into the room soon after.

"Nothing of the kind. Accident. Accidents will happen in mines, and
talking of luck, this mine was declared dangerous this very day."

"No, no," groaned Bartley, trembling in every limb, "it's a horrible
crime; I dare not risk it."

"It is but a risk. The alternative is certain. You will be indicted for
fraud by the Cliffords."

Bartley groaned.

"They'll live in your home, they'll revel in your money, while you wear a
cropped head--and a convict dress--in a stone cell at Portland."

"No, never!" screamed Bartley. "Man, man; you are tempting me to my
perdition!"

"I am saving you. Just consider--where is the risk? It is only an
accident, and who will suspect you? Men don't ruin their own mines. Here,
just let me call him."

Bartley made a faint gesture to forbid it, but Monckton pretended to take
that as an assent.

"Hy, Ben," he cried, "come here."

"No, no," cried Bartley, "I'll have nothing to do with him."

"Well," said Monckton, "then don't, but hear what he has got to say;
he'll tell you how easily accidents happen in a mine."

Then Burnley came in, but stood at some distance. Bartley turned his back
upon them both, and edged away from them a little; but Monckton stood
between the two men, determined to bring them together.

"Ben," said he, "Mr. Bartley takes you on again at my request, no thanks
to Mr. Hope."

"No, curse him; I know that."

"Talking of that, Ben, how was it that you got rid of that troublesome
overseer in the Welsh colliery?"

Ben started, and looked aghast for a moment, but soon recovered himself
and told his tale of blood with a strange mixture of satisfaction and
awe, washing his hands in the air nervously all the time.

"Well, you see, sir, we put some gun-cotton in a small canister, with a
fuse cut to last fowr minutes, and hid it in one of the old workings the
men had left; then they telt t' overseer they thowt t' water was coming
in by quickly. He got there just in time; and what with t' explosion,
fire-damp, and fallen coal, we never saw t' over-seer again."

"Dear me," said Monckton, "and Mr. Hope has gone down the mine expressly
to inspect old workings. Is it not a strange coincidence? Now if such an
accident was to befall Mr. Hope, it's my belief Mr. Bartley would give
you five hundred pounds."

Bartley made no reply, the perspiration was pouring down his face, and he
looked a picture of abject guilt and terror.

Monckton looked at him, and decided for him. He went softly, like a cat,
to Ben Burnley and said, "If an accident does occur, and that man never
comes up again, you are to have five hundred pounds."

"Five hundred pounds!" shouted Ben. "I do t' job. Nay, _nay_, but," said
he, and his countenance fell, "they will not let me go down the mine."

The diabolical agent went cat-like to Bartley.

"Please give me a written order to let this man go to work again in
the mine."

Bartley trembled and hesitated, but at last took out his pocket-book and
wrote on a leaf,

"Take Burnley on again.

"R. BARTLEY."

Whilst writing it his hand shook, and when it was written he would not
tear it out. He panted and quivered and was as pale as ashes, and said,
"No, no, it's a death-warrant; I can not;" and his trembling hand tried
to convey the note-book back to his pocket, but it fell from his shaking
fingers, and Monckton took it up and quietly tore the leaf out, and took
it across to Burnley, in spite of a feeble gesture the struggling wretch
made to detain him. He gave Ben the paper, and whispered, "Be off before
he changes his mind."

"You'll hear of an accident in the mine before the day is over," said
Burnley, and he went off without a grain of remorse under the double
stimulus of revenge and lucre.

"He'll do it," cried Monckton, triumphantly, "and Hope will end his days
in the Bartley mine."

* * * * *

These words were hardly out of his lips when Grace Hope walked out of the
house, pale, and with her eyes gleaming, and walked rapidly past them.
She had nothing on her head but a white handkerchief that was tied under
her chin. Her appearance and her manner struck the conspirators with
terror. Bartley stood aghast; but the more resolute villain seized her as
she passed him. She was not a bit frightened at that, but utterly amazed.
It was a public road.

"How dare you touch me, you villain!" she cried. "Let me go. Ah, I shall
know you again, with your face like a corpse and your villainous eyes.
Let me go, or I'll have you hung."

"Where are you going?" said Bartley, trembling.

"To my father."

"He is not your father; it is a conspiracy. You must come home with me."

"Never!" cried Mary, and by a sudden and violent effort she flung
Monckton off.

But Bartley, mad with terror, seized her that moment, and that gave
Monckton time to recover and seize her again by the arm.

"You are not of age," cried Bartley; "you are under my authority, and you
shall come home with me."

"No! no!" cried Mary. "Help! help! murder! help!"

She screamed, and struggled so violently that with all their efforts
they could hardly hold her. Then the devil Monckton began to cry louder
still, "She's mad! she's mad! help to secure a mad woman." This terrified
Grace Hope. She had read of the villainies that had been done under cover
of that accusation, which indeed has too often prevented honest men from
interfering with deeds of lawless violence. But she had all her wits
about her, woman's wit included. She let them drag her past the cottage
door. Then she cried out with delight, "Ah! here is my father." They
followed the direction of her eye, and relaxed their grasp. Instantly she
drew her hands vigorously downward, got clear of them, gave them each a
furious push that sent them flying forward, then darted back through the
open door, closed it, and bolted it inside just as Monckton, recovering
himself, quickly dashed furiously against it--in vain.

The quick-witted villain saw the pressing danger in a moment. "To the
back door or we are lost!" he yelled. Bartley dashed round to that door
with a cry of dismay.

But Grace was before him just half a minute. She ran through the house.

Alas! the infernal door was secure. The woman had locked it when she went
out. Grace came flying back to the front, and drew the bolt softly. But
as she did so she heard a hammering, and found the door was fast.
Unluckily, Hope's tool-basket was on the window-ledge, and Monckton drove
a heavy nail obliquely through the bottom of the door, and it was
immovable. Then Mary slipped with cat-like step to the window, and had
her hand on the sill to vault clean out into the road; she was perfectly
capable, it being one of her calisthenic exercises. But here again her
watchful enemy encountered her. He raised his hammer as if to strike her
hand--though perhaps he might not have gone that length--but she was a
woman, and drew back at that cruel gesture. Instantly he closed the
outside shutters; he didn't trouble about the window, but these outside
shutters he proceeded to nail up; and, as the trap was now complete, he
took his time, and by a natural reaction from his fears, he permitted
himself to exult a little.

"Thank you, Mr. Hope, for the use of your tools." (Rat-tat.)
"There, my little bird, you're caged." (Rat-tat-tat.) "Did you
really think--(rat-tat)--two men--(rat-tat-tat)--were to be beaten
by one woman?"

The prisoner thus secured, he drew aside with justifiable pride to admire
his work. This action enabled him to see the side of the cottage he had
secured so cleverly in front and behind, and there was Grace Hope coming
down from her bedroom window; she had tied two crimson curtains together
by a useful knot, which is called at sea a fisherman's bend, fastened one
end to the bed or something, and she was coming down this extemporized
rope, hand over hand alternately, with as much ease and grace as if she
were walking down marble steps. Monckton flung his arm and body wildly
over the paling and grabbed her with his finger ends, she gave a spang
with her heels against the wall, and took a bold leap away from him into
a tulip-bed ten feet distant at least: he yelled to Bartley, "To the
garden;" and not losing a moment, flung his leg over the paling to catch
her, with Bartley's help, in this new trap. Mary dashed off without a
moment's hesitation at the quick-set hedge; she did not run up to it and
hesitate like a woman, for it was not to be wriggled through; she went at
it with the momentum and impetus of a race-horse, and through it as if it
was made of blotting-paper, leaving a wonderfully small hole, but some
shreds of her dress, and across the meadow at a pace that neither
Bartley nor Monckton, men past their prime, could hope to rival even if
she had not got the start. They gazed aghast at one another; at the
premises so suddenly emptied as if by magic; at the crimson curtain
floating like a banner, and glowing beautifully amongst the green
creepers; and at that flying figure, with her hair that glittered in the
sun, and streamed horizontal in the wind with her velocity, flying to the
mine to save William Hope, and give these baffled conspirators a life of
penal servitude.

CHAPTER XX.

CALAMITY.

The baffled conspirators saw Grace Hope bound over a stile like a deer
and dash up to the mine; then there was a hurried colloquy, and some men
were seen to start from the mine and run toward Hope's cottage. What
actually took place was this: She arrived panting, and begged to be sent
down the mine at once; the deputy said, "You cannot, miss, without an
order from Mr. Hope."

"I am his daughter, sir," said she; "he has claimed me from Mr. Bartley
this day."

At that word the man took off his hat to her.

"Let me down this instant; there's a plot to fire the mine, and destroy
my dear father."

"A plot to fire the mine!" said the man, all aghast. "Why, who by? Hy!
cage ready there!"

"One Burnley, but he's bribed by a stranger. Send me down to warn my
father; but you run and seize that villain; you can not mistake him. He
wears a light suit of tweed, all one color. He has very black eyebrows,
and a face like a corpse, and a large gold ring on the little finger of
his right hand. You will find him somewhere near my father's cottage.
Neither you nor I have a moment to lose."

Then the deputy called three more men, and made for Hope's cottage, while
Grace went down in the cage.

Bartley fled in mortal terror to his own house, and began to pack up his
things to leave the country. Monckton withdrew to the clump of fir-trees,
and from that thin shelter watched the mine, intending to levant as soon
as he should see Hope come up safe and sound; but, when he saw three or
four men start from the mine and run across to him, he took the alarm and
sought the thicker shelter of a copse hard by. It was a very thick cover,
good for temporary concealment; but he soon found it was so narrow that
he couldn't emerge from it on either side without being seen at once, and
his quick wit told him that Grace had denounced him, and probably
described him accurately to the miners; he was in mortal terror, but not
unprepared for this sort of danger. The first thing he did was to whip
off his entire tweed suit and turn it inside out; he had had it made on
purpose; it was a thin tweed, doubled with black kerseymere, so that this
change was a downright transformation. Then he substituted a black tie
for a colored one, whipped out a little mirror and his hare's-foot, etc.,
browned and colored his cheek, put on an admirable gray wig, whiskers,
mustache, and beard, and partly whitened his eyebrows, and hobbled feebly
out of the little wood an infirm old man. Presently he caught sight of
his gold ring. "Ah!" said he, "she is a sharp girl; perhaps she noticed
that in the struggle?" He took it off and was going to put it in his
pocket, but thought better of that, and chucked it into a ditch. Then he
made for the village. The pursuers hunted about the house and, of course,
didn't find him; but presently one of them saw him crossing a meadow not
far off, so they ran toward him and hailed him.

"Hy! mister!"

He went feebly on, and did not seem to hear; then they hailed him again
and ran toward him; then he turned and stopped, and seeing men running
toward him, took out a large pair of round spectacles, and put them on to
look at them. By this artifice that which in reality completed his
disguise seemed but a natural movement in an old man to see better who it
was that wanted him.

"What be you doing here?" said the man.

"Well, my good man," said Monckton, affecting surprise, "I have been
visiting an old friend, and now I'm going home again. I hope I am not
trespassing. Is not this the way to the village? They told me it was."

"That's right enough," said the deputy, "but by the way you come you just
have seen him."

"No, sir," said Monckton, "I haven't seen anybody except one gentleman,
that came through that wood there as I passed it."

"What was he like, sir?"

"Well, I didn't take particular notice, and he passed me all in a hurry."

"That would be the man," said the deputy. "Had he a very pale face?"

"Not that I remarked; he seemed rather heated with running."

"How was he dressed, sir?"

"Oh, like many of the young people, all of one pattern."

"Light or dark?"

"Light, I think."

"Was it a tweed suit?"

"I almost think it was. What had he been doing--anything wrong? He seemed
to me to be rather scared-like."

"Which way did he go, sir?"

"I think he made for that great house, sir."

"Come on," said the deputy, and he followed this treacherous indication,
hot in pursuit.

Monckton lost no time. He took off twenty years, and reached the Dun Cow
as an old acquaintance. He hired the one vehicle the establishment
possessed, and was off like a shot to Derby; thence he dispatched a note
to his lodgings to say he was suddenly called to town, but should be back
in a week. Not that he ever intended to show his face in that
neighborhood again.

Nevertheless events occasioned that stopped both his flight and
Bartley's, and yet broke up their unholy alliance.

It was Hope's final inspection of the Bartley mine, and he took things in
order. Months ago a second shaft had been sunk by his wise instructions,
and but for Bartley's parsimony would have been now completed. Hope now
ascertained how many feet it was short, and noted this down for Bartley.

Then, still inspecting, he went to the other extremity of the mine, and
reached a sort of hall or amphitheatre much higher than the passages.
This was a centre with diverging passages on one side, but closed on the
other. Two of these passages led by oblique routes to those old works,
the shoring of which had been reported unsafe.

This amphitheatre was now a busy scene, empty trucks being pushed off,
full trucks being pushed on, all the men carrying lighted lanterns, that
wavered and glinted like "wills of the wisp." Presently a bell rung, and
a portion of the men, to whom this was a signal, left off work and began
to put on their jackets and to await the descent of the cage to take them
up in parties. At this moment Hope met, to his surprise, a figure that
looked like Ben Burnley. He put up his lamp to see if he was right, and
Ben Burnley it was. The ruffian had the audacity to put up his lamp, as
if to scrutinize the person who examined him.

"Did I not discharge you?" said Hope.

"Ay, lad," said Ben; "but your master put me on again." With that he
showed Bartley's order and signature.

Hope bit his lips, but merely said, "He will rue it." Burnley sidled
away; but Hope cried to one or two men who were about,

"Keep a sharp lookout on him, my men, your lives are not safe whilst he's
in the mine."

Burnley leaned insolently against a truck and gave the men nothing to
observe; the next minute in bustled the honest miner at whose instance
Hope had come down the mine, and begged him to come and visit the
shoring at once.

Hope asked if there were any other men there; the miner replied in
the negative.

"Very well, then," said Hope, "I'll just take one look at the water here,
and I'll be at the shoring in five minutes."

Unfortunately this unwary statement let Burnley know exactly what to do;
he had already concealed in the wood-work a canister of dynamite, and a
fuse to it to last about five minutes. He now wriggled away under cover
of Hope's dialogue and lighted the fuse, then he came flying back to get
safe out of the mine, and leave Hope in his death-trap.

But in the meantime Grace Hope came down in the cage, and caught sight of
her father and came screaming to him, "Father, father!"

"You here, my child!"

"There's a plot to murder you! A man called Burnley is to cause an
explosion at the old works just as you visit them."

"An explosion!" cried Hope, "and fire-damp about. One explosion will
cause fifty--ring the bell--here men! danger!"

Then there was a rush of men.

"Ben Burnley is firing the mine."

There was a yell of fury; but a distant explosion turned it to one
of dismay. Hope caught his daughter up in his arms and put her
into a cavity.

"Fly, men, to the other part of the mine," he cried.

There was a louder explosion. In ran Burnley terrified at his own work,
and flying to escape. Hope sprang out upon him. "No you don't--living or
dead, you are the last to leave this mine."

Burnley struggled furiously, but Hope dashed him down at his feet. Just
as a far more awful explosion than all took place, one side of that
amphitheatre fell in and the very earth heaved. The corner part of the
shaft fell in upon the cage and many poor miners who were hoping to
escape by it; but those escaped for the present who obeyed Hope's order
and fled to another part of the mine, and when the stifling vapors
drifted away there stood Hope pale as death, but strong as iron, with the
assassin at his feet, and poor Grace crouching and quivering in her
recess. Their fate now awaited these three, a speedy death by choke-damp,
or a slow death by starvation, or a rescue from the outside under
circumstances of unparalleled difficulty, since there was but one shaft
completed, and that was now closed by a mountain of debris.

CHAPTER XXI.

BURIED ALIVE.

The explosions so tremendously loud below were but muffled sounds at the
pit's mouth; but, alas! these muffled sounds, and one flash of lurid
flame that shot up into the air, told the tale of horror to every
experienced pitman and his wife, and the cry of a whole village went up
to heaven.

The calamity spread like wildfire. It soon found its way to Clifford
Hall, and the deputy ran himself with the news to Mr. Bartley. Bartley
received it at first with a stony glare, and trembled all over; then the
deputy, lowering his voice, said, "Sir, the worst of it is, there is foul
play in it. There is good authority to say that Ben Burnley fired the
mine to destroy his betters, and he has done it; for Mr. Hope and Miss
Hope that is, Miss Bartley that was, are both there." He added, in a
broken voice, "And if they are not buried or stifled, it will be hard
work to save them. The mine is a ruin."

Bartley delivered a wild scream, and dashed out of the house at once; he
did not even take his hat, but the deputy, more self-possessed, took one
out of the hall and followed him.

Bartley hurried to the mine, and found that several stout fellows had
gone down with their pickaxes and other tools to clear the shaft, but
that it must be terribly slow work, so few men could work at a time in
that narrow space. Bartley telegraphed to Derby for a more powerful
steam-engine and experienced engineers, and set another gang to open the
new shaft to the bottom, and see if any sufferers could be saved that
way. Whatever he did was wise, but his manner was frenzied. None of his
people thought he had so much feeling, and more than one of the quaking
women gave him a kind word; he made no reply, he did not even seem to
hear. He wandered about the mine all night wringing his hands, and at
last he was taken home almost by force.

Humanity overpowered prejudice, and Colonel Clifford came to the mine to
see if he could be of any use to the sufferers. He got hold of the deputy
and learned from him what Bartley was doing. He said he thought that was
the best course, as there would be division of labor; but, said he, "I am
an old campaigner, and I know that men can not fight without food, and
this work will be a fight. How will you house the new-comers?"

"There are forty-seven men missing, and the new men can sleep in their
cottages."

"That's so," said the Colonel, "but there are the wives and the children.
I shall send sleeping tents and eating tents, and provisions enough to
feed a battalion. Forty-seven lives," said he, pityingly.

"Ay, sir," said the deputy, "and such lives, some of them; for Mr. Hope
and Miss Mary Bartley--leastways that is not her name now, she's Mr.
Hope's daughter."

"Why, what has she to do with it?"

"I am sorry to say, sir, she is down the mine."

"God forbid!" said the Colonel; "that noble girl dead, or in
mortal danger."

"She is, sir," and, lowering his voice, "by foul play;" then seeing the
Colonel greatly shocked and moved, he said, "and I ought not to keep it
from you. You are our nearest magistrate; the young lady told me at the
pit mouth she is Mr. Hope's daughter."

"And so she is."

"And she said there was a plot to destroy her father in the mine by
exploding the old workings he was going to visit. One Ben Burnley was to
do it; a blackguard that has a spite against Mr. Hope for discharging
him. But there was money behind him and a villain that she described to
us--black eyebrows, a face like a corpse, and dressed in a suit of tweed
one color. We hoped that she might have been mistaken, or she might have
warned Mr. Hope in time; but now it is to be seen that there was no
mistake, and she had not time to warn him. The deed is done; and a darker
deed was never done, even in the dark."

Colonel Clifford groaned: after a while he said, "Seize that Ben Burnley
at once, or he will soon leave this place behind him."

"No, he won't," said the deputy. "He is in the mine, that is one comfort;
and if he comes out alive his life won't be worth much, with the law on
one side of the blackguard and Judge Lynch on t'other."

"The first thing," said the Colonel, "is to save these precious lives.
God help us and them."

He then went to the Railway, and wired certain leading tradesmen in
Derby for provisions, salt and fresh, on a large scale, and for new
tents. He had some old ones stored away in his own house. He also secured
abundance of knives, forks, plates, buckets, pitchers, and jugs, and, in
short, he opened a commissariat. He inquired for his son Walter, and why
he was so late. He could learn nothing but that Walter had mounted a
hunter and left word with Baker that he should not be home till eight
o'clock. "John," said the Colonel, solemnly, "I am in great trouble, and
Walter is in worse, I fear. Let nobody speak to him about this accident
at the mine till he has seen me."

* * * * *

Walter Clifford rode to the Lake Hotel to inquire after the bracelet. The
landlady told him she had sent her husband over with it that day.

"Confound it," said Walter; "why, he won't know who to take it to."

"Oh, it's all right, sir," said she. "My Sam won't give it to the wrong
person, you may be sure."

"How do I know that?" said Walter; "and, pray, who did you tell him to
give it to?"

"Why, to the lady as was here with you."

"And how the deuce is he to find her? He does not know her name. It's a
great pity you could not keep it till I came."

"Well, sir, you was so long a-coming."

"That's true," said Walter; "let us make the best of it. I shall feed my
horse, and get home as quickly as I can."

However, he knew he would be late, and thought he had better go straight
home. He sent a telegram to Mary Bartley: "Landlord gone to you with
bracelet;" and this he signed with the name of the landlady, but no
address. He was afraid to say more, though he would have liked to put his
wife upon her guard; but he trusted to her natural shrewdness. He mounted
his horse and went straight home, but he was late for dinner, and that
vexed him a little, for it was a matter Colonel Clifford was particular
about. He dashed up to his bedroom and began to dress all in a hurry.

John Baker came to him wearing a very extraordinary look, and after
some hesitation said, "I would not change my clothes if I were you,
Mr. Walter."

"Oh," said Walter, "I am too late, you know; in for a penny, in
for a pound."

"But, sir," said old John, "the Colonel wants to speak to you in the
drawing-room."

Now Walter was excited with the events of the day, irritated by the
affront his father had put upon him and Mary, strung up by hard riding,
etc. He burst out, "Well, I shall not go to him; I have had enough of
this--badgered and bullied, and my sweetheart affronted--and now I
suppose I am to be lectured again; you say I am not well, and bring my
dinner up here."

"No, Mr. Walter," said the old man, gravely, "I must not do that. Sir,
don't you think as you are to be scolded, or the angel you love
affronted; all that is over forever. There has been many a strange thing
happened since you rode out of our stable last, but I wish you would go
to the Colonel and let him tell you all; however, I suppose I may tell
you so much as this, that your sweetheart is not Mary Bartley at all; she
is Mr. Hope's daughter."

"What!" cried Walter, in utter amazement.

"There is no doubt about it, sir," said the old man, "and I believe it is
all out about you and her, but that would not matter, for the Colonel he
takes it quite different from what you might think. He swears by her now.
I don't know really how that came about, sir, for I was not there, but
when I was dressing the Colonel he said to me, 'John, she's the grandest
girl in England, and an honor to her sex, and there is not a drop of
Bartley's blood in her.'"

"Oh, he has found that out," said Walter. "Then I'll go to him like a
bird, dear old fellow. So that is what he wanted to tell me."

"No," said John Baker, gravely.

"No," said Walter; "what then?"

"It's trouble."

"Trouble," said Walter, puzzled.

"Ay, my poor young master," said Baker, tenderly--"sore trouble, such
trouble as a father's heart won't let me, or any man break to you, while
he lives to do it. I know my master. Ever since that fellow Bartley came
here we have seen the worst of him; now we shall see the best of him. Go
to him, dear Master Walter. Don't waste time in talking to old John
Baker. Go to your father and your friend."

Walter Clifford cast a look of wonder and alarm on the old man, and went
down at once to the drawing-room. His father was standing by the fire. He
came forward to him with both hands, and said,

"My son!"

"Father," said Walter, in a whisper, "what is it?"

"Have you heard nothing?"

"Nothing but good news, father--that you approve my choice."

"Ah, John told you that!"

"Yes, sir."

"And did he tell you anything else?"

"No sir, only that some great misfortune is upon me, and that I have my
father's sympathy."

"You have," said the Colonel, "and would to God I had known the truth
before. She is not Bartley's daughter at all; she is Hope's daughter. Her
virtue shines in her face; she is noble, she is self-denying, she is
just, she is brave; and no doubt she can account for her being at the
Lake Hotel in company with some man or other. Whatever that lady says
will be the truth. That's not the trouble, Walter; all that has become
small by comparison. But shall we ever see her sweet face again or hear
her voice?"

"Father," said Walter, trembling, "you terrify me. This sudden change in
your voice that I never heard falter before; some great calamity must
have happened. Tell me the worst at once."

"Walter," said the old man, "stand firm; do not despair, for there is
hope."

"Thank God for that, father! now tell me all."

"Walter, there has been an explosion in the mine--a fearful explosion;
the shaft has fallen in; there is no getting access to the mine, and all
the poor souls confined there are in mortal peril. Those who are best
acquainted with the mine do not think that many of them have been
destroyed by the ruin, but they tell me these explosions let loose
poisonous gases, and so now those poor souls are all exposed to three
deadly perils--choke-damp, fire-damp, and starvation."

"It's pitiable," said Walter, "but surely this is a calamity to Bartley,
and to the poor miners, but not to any one that I love, and that you have
learnt to respect."

"My son," said the Colonel, solemnly, "the mine was fired by foul play."

"Is it possible?"

"It is believed that some rival owner, or else some personal enemy of
William Hope, bribed a villain to fire some part of the mine that Hope
was inspecting."

"Great heavens!" said Walter, "can such villains exist? Poor, poor Mr.
Hope: who would think he had an enemy in the world?"

"Alas!" said the Colonel, "that is not all. His daughter, it seems,
over-heard the villain bribing the ruffian to commit this foul and
terrible act, and she flew to the mine directly. She dispatched some
miners to seize that hellish villain, and she went down the mine to save
her father."

"Ah!" said Walter, trembling all over.

"She has never been seen since."

The Colonel's head sank for a moment on his breast.

Walter groaned and turned pale.

"She came too late to save him; she came in time to share his fate."

Walter sank into a chair, and a deadly pallor overspread his face, his
forehead, and his very lips.

The Colonel rushed to the door and called for help, and in a moment John
Baker and Mrs. Milton and Julia Clifford were round poor Walter's chair
with brandy and ether and salts, and every stimulant. He did not faint
away; strong men very seldom do at any mere mental shock.

The color came slowly back to his cheeks and his pale lips, and his eyes
began to fill with horror. The weeping women, and even the stout Colonel,
viewed with anxiety his return to the full consciousness of his calamity.
"Be brave," cried Colonel Clifford; "be a soldier's son; don't despair;
fight: nothing has been neglected. Even Bartley is playing the man; he
has got another engine coming up, and another body of workmen to open the
new shaft as well as the old one."

"God bless him!" said Walter.

"And I have an experienced engineer on the road, and the things civilians
always forget--tents and provisions of all sorts. We will set an army to
work sooner than your sweetheart, poor girl, shall lose her life by any
fault of ours."

"My sweetheart," cried Walter, starting suddenly from his chair. "There,
don't cling to me, women. No man shall head that army but I. My
sweetheart! God help me--SHE'S MY WIFE."

CHAPTER XXII.

REMORSE.

In a work of this kind not only the external incidents should be noticed,
but also what may be called the mental events. We have seen a calamity
produce a great revulsion in the feelings of Colonel Clifford; but as for
Robert Bartley his very character was shaken to the foundation by his
crime and its terrible consequences. He was now like a man who had glided
down a soft sunny slope, and was suddenly arrested at the brink of a
fathomless precipice. Bartley was cunning, selfish, avaricious,
unscrupulous in reality, so long as he could appear respectable, but he
was not violent, nor physically reckless, still less cruel. A deed of
blood shocked him as much as it would shock an honest man. Yet now
through following his natural bent too far, and yielding to the influence
of a remorseless villain, he found his own hands stained with blood--the
blood of a man who, after all, had been his best friend, and had led him
to fortune; and the blood of an innocent girl who had not only been his
pecuniary benefactress for a time, but had warmed and lighted his house
with her beauty and affection.

Busy men, whose views are all external, are even more apt than others to
miss the knowledge of their own minds. This man, to whom everything was
business, had taken for granted he did not actually love Grace Hope. Why,
she was another man's child. But now he had lost her forever, he found he
had mistaken his own feelings. He looked round his gloomy horizon and
realized too late that he did love her; it was not a great and
penetrating love like William Hope's; he was incapable of such a
sentiment; but what affection he had to bestow, he had given to this
sweet creature. His house was dark without her; he was desolate and
alone, and, horrible to think of, the instrument of her assassination.
This thought drove him to frenzy, and his frenzy took two forms, furious
excitement and gloomy despair; this was now his life by night and day,
for sleep deserted him. At the mine his measures were all wise, but his
manner very wild; the very miners whispered amongst themselves that he
was going mad. At home, on the contrary, he was gloomy, with sullen
despair. He was in this latter condition the evening after the explosion,
when a visitor was announced. Thinking it was some one from the mine, he
said, faintly, "Admit him," and then his despondent head dropped on his
breast; indeed, he was in a sort of lethargy, worn out with his labors,
his remorse and his sleeplessness.

In that condition his ear was suddenly jarred by a hard, metallic voice,
whose tone was somehow opposed to all the voices with which goodness and
humanity have ever spoken.

"Well, governor, here's a slice of luck."

Bartley shivered. "Is that the devil speaking to me?" he muttered,
without looking up.

"No," said Monckton, jauntily, "only one of his servants, and your
best friend."

"My friend," said Bartley, turning his chair and looking at him with a
sort of dull wonder.

"Ay," said Monckton, "your friend; the man that found you brains and
resolution, and took you out of the hole, and put Hope and his
daughter in it instead; no, not his daughter, she did that for us, she
was so clever."

"Yes," said Bartley, wildly, "it was you who made me an assassin.
But for you, I should only have been a knave; now I am a
murderer--thanks to you."

"Come, governor," said Monckton, "no use looking at one side of the
picture. You tried other things first. You made him liberal offers, you
know; but he would have war to the knife, and he has got it. He is buried
at the bottom of that shaft."

"God forbid!"

"And you are all right."

"I am in hell," shrieked Bartley.

"Well, come out of it," said Monckton, "and let's talk sense. I--I read
the news at Derby, just as I was starting for London. I have been as near
the mine as I thought safe. They seem to be very busy clearing out both
shafts--two steam-engines, constant relays of workmen. Who has got the
job in hand?"

"I have," said Bartley.

"Well, that's clever of you to throw dust in their eyes, and put our
little game off your own shoulders. You want to save appearances? You
know you can not save William Hope."

"I can save him, and I will save him. God will have mercy on a penitent
assassin, as he once had upon a penitent thief."

Monckton stared at him and smiled.

"Who has been talking to you--the parson?"

"My own conscience. I abhor myself as much as I do you, you black
villain."

"Ah!" said Monckton, with a wicked glance, "that's how a man patters
before he splits upon his pals, to save his own skin. Now, look here, old
man, before you split on me ask yourself who had the greatest interest in
this job. You silenced a dangerous enemy, but what have I gained? you
ought to square with me first, as you promised. If you split upon me
before that, you will put yourself in the hole and leave me out of it."

"Villain and fool!" said Bartley, "these trifles do not trouble me now.
If Hope and my dear Mary are found dead in that mine, I'll tell how they
came by their death, and I'll die by my own hand."

Monckton said nothing, but looked at him keenly, and began at last to
feel uneasy.

"A shaft is but a narrow thing," Bartley rejoined; "why should they be
buried alive? let's get to them before they are starved to death. We may
save them yet."

"Why, you fool, they'll denounce us!"

"What do I care? I would save them both to-night if I was to stand in the
dock to-morrow."

"And swing on the gallows next week, or end your days in a prison."

"I'd take my chance," said Bartley, desperately. "I'll undo my crime if
I can. No punishment can equal the agony I am in now, thanks to you,
you villain."

Then turning on him suddenly, and showing him the white of his eyes like
a maniac, or a dangerous mastiff, he hissed out, "You think nothing of
the lives of better men; perhaps you don't value your own?"

"Oh, I beg your pardon," said Monckton. "That's a very different thing."

"Oh, you do value your own foul life?"

"At any amount of money," said Monckton.

"Then why do you risk it?"

"Excuse me, governor, that's a thing I make a point of not doing. I risk
my instruments, not my head, Ben Burnley to wit."

"You are risking it now," said Bartley, looking still more
strangely at him.

"How so, pray?" said Monckton, getting a little uneasy, for this was not
the Bartley he had known till then.

Bartley took the poker in his hand and proceeded to poke the fire; but
somehow he did not look at the fire. He looked askant at Monckton, and he
showed the white of his eyes more and more. Monckton kept his eye upon
him and put his hand upon the handle of the door.

"I'll tell you," said Bartley--"by coming here to tempt, provoke, and
insult the wretch whose soul you destroyed, by forcing me to assassinate
the best man and the sweetest girl in England, when there were vipers and
villains about whom it's a good action to sweep off God's earth. Villain!
I'll teach you to come like a fool and madden a madman. I was only a
rogue, you have made me a man of blood. All the worse for you. I have
murdered _them_, I'll execute _you_," and with these words he bounded on
him like a panther.

Monckton tore the doors open, and dashed out, but a furious blow fell
before he was quite clear of the doorway. With such force was it
delivered that the blunt metal cut into the edge of the door like a
sword; the jamb was smashed, and even Monckton, who received but
one-fourth of the blow, fell upon his hands and knees into the hall and
was stunned for a moment, but fearing worse, staggered out of the hall
door, which, luckily for him, was open, and darting into a little grove
of shrubs, that was close by, grovelled there in silence, bleeding like a
pig, and waiting for his chance to escape entirely; but the quaking
reptile ran no further risk.

Bartley never followed him beyond his own room; he had been goaded into a
maniacal impulse, and he returned to his gloomy sullenness.

* * * * *

Walter's declaration, made so suddenly before four persons, startled
them greatly for a moment--but only for a moment. Julia was the
first to speak.

"We might have known it," she said, "Mary Bartley is a young lady
incapable of misconduct; she is prudence, virtue, delicacy, and purity in
person; the man she was with at that place was sure to be her husband,
and who should that be but Walter, whom she loved?"

Then the servants looked anxiously at their master to see how he took
this startling revelation. Well, the Colonel stood firm as if he was at
the head of a column in the field. He was not the man to retreat from any
position, he said, "All we have to do is to save her; then my house and
arms are open to my son's wife."

"God bless you, father!" cried Walter, in a broken voice; "and God
bless you, dear cousin. Yes, it's no time for words." And he was gone
in a moment.

"Now Milton," said the Colonel, "he won't sleep here till the work is
done, and he won't sleep at all if we don't get a bed for him near the
mine. You order the break out, and go to the Dun Cow and do what you
can for him."

"That I will, sir; I'll take his own sheets and bedding with me. I won't
trust that woman--she talks too much; and, if you please, sir, I'll stay
there a day or two myself, for maybe I shall coax him to eat a morsel of
my cooking, and to lie down a bit, when he would not listen to a
stranger."

"You're a faithful creature," said the Colonel, rather aggressively, not
choosing to break down, "so are you, John; and it is at these moments we
find out our friends in the house; and, confound you, I forbid you both
to snivel," said he, still louder. Then, more gravely, "How do we know?
many a stormy day ends well; this calamity may bring happiness and peace
to a divided house."

Colonel Clifford prophesied right. Walter took the lead of a working gang
and worked night and day, resting two hours only in the twenty-four, and
even that with great reluctance. Outside the scene was one of bustle and
animation. Little white tents, for the strange workmen to sleep in,
dotted the green, and two snowy refreshment tents were pitched outside
the Dun Cow. That establishment had large brick ovens and boilers, and
the landlady, and the women she had got to help her, kept the tables
always groaning under solid fare that never once flagged, being under the
charge of that old campaigner, Colonel Clifford. The landlady tried to
look sad at the occasion which called forth her energy and talents; but
she was a woman of business, and her complacency oozed through her. Ah,
it was not so at the pit mouth; the poor wives whose husbands were
entombed below, alive or dead, hovered and fluttered about the two shafts
with their aprons to their eyes, and eager with their questions. Deadly
were their fears, their hopes fainter and fainter, as day after day went
by, and both gangs, working in so narrow a space, made little progress,
compared with their own desires, and the prayers of those who trembled
for the result. It was a race and a struggle of two gallant parties, and
a short description of it will be given; but as no new incidents happened
for six days we shall preserve the chronological order of events, and now
relate a daring project which was revived in that interval.

Monckton and Bartley were now enemies. Sin had united, crime and remorse
had disunited them. Monckton registered a vow of future vengeance upon
his late associate, but in the meantime, taking a survey of the present
circumstances, he fell back upon a dark project he had conceived years
ago on the very day when he was arrested for theft in Bartley's office.

Perhaps our readers, their memory disturbed by such a number of various
matters as we have since presented to them, may have forgotten that
project, but what is about to follow will tend to revive their
recollection. Monckton then wired to Mrs. Braham's lawyer demanding an
immediate interview with that lady; he specified the hour.

The lawyer went to her directly, the matter being delicate. He found
her in great distress, and before he could open his communication she
told him her trouble. She said that her husband, she feared, was going
out of his mind; he groaned all night and never slept, and in the
daytime never spoke.

There had been just then some surprising falls and rises in foreign
securities, and the shrewd lawyer divined at once that the stock-broker
had been doing business on his own account, and got pinched; so he said,
"My dear madam, I suspect it is business on the Exchange; he will get
over that, but there is something that is immediately pressing," and he
then gave her Monckton's message.

Now her nerves were already excited, and this made matters worse. She
cried and trembled, and became hysterical, and vowed she would never
go near Leonard Monckton again; he had never loved her, had never been
a friend to her as Jonathan Braham had. "No," said she; "if he wants
money, take and sell my jewels; but I shall stay with my husband in
his trouble."

"He is not your husband," said the lawyer, quietly; "and this man is your
husband, and things have come to my knowledge lately which it would be
imprudent at present to disclose either to him or you; but we are old
friends. You can not doubt that I have your interest at heart."

"No, I don't doubt that," said Lucy, hastily, and held out her
hand to him.

"Well, then," said he, "be persuaded and meet the man."

"No, I will not do that," said she. "I am not a good woman, I know; but
it is not for want of the wish. I will not play double any more." And
from that nothing he could say could move her.

The lawyer returned to his place, and when Monckton called next day he
told him he was sorry to say Mr. Braham was ill and in trouble, and the
lady couldn't meet him. She would make any reasonable sacrifice for his
convenience except that.

"And I," said Monckton, "insist upon that, and nothing else."

The lawyer endeavored to soften him, and hinted that he would advance
money himself sooner than his client should be tormented.

But Monckton was inflexible. He said, "It is about a matter that she can
not communicate to you, nor can I. However, I am obliged to you for your
information. She won't leave her stock-broker, eh? Well, then I know
where to find her;" and he took up his hat to go.

"No, pray don't do that," said Mr. Middleton, earnestly. "Let me try her
again. She has had time to sleep over it."

"Try her," said Monckton, sternly, "and if you are her friend, take
her husband's side in this one thing; it's the last time I shall
trouble her."

"I am her friend," said the lawyer. "And if you must know, I rather
wish her to meet you and get it over. Will you come here again at
five o'clock?"

"All right," said Monckton.

Monckton was struck with lawyer Middleton's manner, and went away
puzzling over it.

"What's _his_ little game, I wonder?" said he.

The lawyer went post-haste to his client's house. He found her in tears.
She handed him an open letter.

Braham was utterly ruined, and besides that had done something or other
he did not care to name; he was off to America, leaving her what money
she could find in the house and the furniture, which he advised her to
sell at once before others claimed it; in short, the man was wild with
fear, and at present thought but little of anybody but himself.

Then the lawyer set himself to comfort her as well as he could, and
renewed his request that she would give Monckton a meeting.

"Yes," said she, wearily--"it is no use trying to resist _him_; he can
come here."

The lawyer demurred to that. "No," said he, "keep your own counsel, don't
let him know you are deserted and ruined; make a favor of coming, but
_come_: and a word in your ear--he can do more for you than Braham can,
or will ever do again. So don't you thwart him if you can help."

She was quick enough to see there was something weighty behind, and she
consented. He took her back with him; only she was such a long time
removing the traces of tears, and choosing the bonnet she thought she
should look best in, that she made him twenty minutes late and rather
cross. It is a way women have of souring that honeycomb, a man.

When the trio met at the office the husband was pale, the wife dull
and sullen.

"It's the last time I shall trouble you, Lucy," said Monckton.

"As you please, Leonard."

"And I want you to make my fortune."

"You have only to tell me how." (Quite incredulously.)

"You must accompany me to Derbyshire, or else meet me at Derby, whichever
you please. Oh, don't be alarmed. I don't ask you to travel with me as
man and wife."

"It doesn't much matter, I suppose," said Lucy, doggedly.

"Well, you are accommodating; I'll be considerate."

"No doubt you will," said Lucy; then turning her glorious eyes full
upon him, "WHAT'S THE CRIME?"

"The crime!" said Monckton, looking all about the room to find it.
"What crime?"

"The crime I'm wanted for; all your schemes are criminal, you know."

"Well, you're complimentary. It's not a crime this time; it's only a
confession."

"Ah! What am I to confess--bigamy?"

"The idea! No. You are to confess--in a distant part of England, what you
can deny in London next day--that on a certain day you married a
gentleman called Walter Clifford."

"I'll say that on the eleventh day of June, 1868, I married a gentleman
who was called Walter Clifford."

This was Lucy's reply, and given very doggedly.

"Bravo! and will you stand to it if the real Walter Clifford says it
is a lie?"

Lucy reflected. "No, I will not."

"Well, well, we shall have time to talk about that: when can you start?"

"Give me three days."

"All right."

"You won't keep me there long after I have done this wicked thing?"

"No, no. I will send you home with flying colors, and you shall have your
share of the plunder."

"I'd rather go into service again and work my fingers to the bone."

"Since you have such a contempt for money, perhaps you'll stand
fifty pounds?"

"I have no money with me, but I'll ask Mr. Middleton to advance me some."

She opened the door, and asked one of the clerks if she could see the
principal for a moment. He came to her directly. She then said to him,
"He wants fifty pounds; could you let me have it for him?"

"Oh," said the lawyer, cheerfully, "I shall be happy to lend Mr. Monckton
fifty or a hundred pounds upon his own note of hand."

They both stared at him a little; but a blank note of hand was
immediately produced, drawn and signed at six months' date for L52 10s.,
and the lawyer gave Monckton his check for L50. Husband and wife then
parted for a time. Monckton telegraphed to his lodgings to say that his
sister would come down with him for country air, and would require good
accommodation, but would pay liberally.

In most mining accidents the shafts are clear, and the debris that has to
be picked through to get to the entombed miners is attacked with this
advantage, that a great number of men have room to use their arms and
pickaxes, and the stuff has not to be sent up to the surface. But in this
horrible accident both gangs of workers were confined to a small area and
small cages, and the stuff had to be sent up to the surface.

Bartley, who seemed to live only to rescue the sufferers by his own
fault, provided miles of rope, and had small cages knocked together, so
that the debris was continually coming up from both the shafts, and one
great source of delay was averted. But the other fatal cause of delay
remained, and so daylight came and went, and the stars appeared and
disappeared with incredible rapidity to poor Walter and the other gallant
workers, before they got within thirty feet of the pit: those who worked
in the old shafts, having looser stuff to deal with, gained an advance of
about seven feet upon the other working party, and this being reported to
Walter he went down the other shaft to inspire the men by words and
example. He had not been down two hours when one of the miners cried,
"Hold hard, they are working up to us," and work was instantly suspended
for a moment. Then sure enough the sounds of pickaxes working below were
just audible.

There was a roar of exultation from the rescuing party, and a man was
sent up with his feet in a bucket, and clinging to a rope, to spread the
joyful tidings; but the work was not intermitted for more than a moment,
and in a few hours it became necessary to send the cage down and suspend
the work to avoid another accident. The thin remaining crust gave way,
the way was clear, lamps were sent down, and the saving party were soon
in the mine, with a sight before them never to be forgotten.

The few men who stood erect with picks in their hands were men of rare
endurance; and even they began to fall, exhausted with fatigue and
hunger. Five times their number lay dotted about the mine, prostrated by
privation, and some others, alas! were dead. None of the poor fellows
were in a condition to give a rational answer, though Walter implored
them to say where Hope was and his daughter. These poor pale wretches,
the shadows of their former selves, were sent up in the cages with all
expedition, and received by Bartley, who seemed to forget nothing, for he
had refreshment tents ready at the pit mouth.

Meantime, Walter and others, whose hearts were with him, ran wildly
through the works, and groped on their knees with their lamps to find
Hope and his daughter, but they were not to be found, and nine miners
beside them were missing, including Ben Burnley. Then Walter came wildly
up to the surface, wringing his hands with agony, and crying, "they are
lost! they are lost!"

"No," cried Bartley, "they must not be lost; they shall not be lost. One
man has come to himself. I gave him port-wine and brandy." Then he
dragged the young man into the tent. There was stout Jim Davies propped
up and held, but with a great tumbler of brandy and port in his hand.

"Now, my man," said, or rather screamed, Bartley, "tell him where Hope
is, and Mary--that I--Oh, God! oh, God!"

"Master," said Jim, faintly, "I was in the hall with Mr. Hope and the
lady when the first explosion came. Most of us ran past the old shaft and
got clear. A few was caught by the falling shaft, for I looked back and
saw it. But I never saw Master Hope among them. If he was, he is buried
under the shaft; but I do really think that he was that taken up with his
girl, and that darned villain that fired the mine, as he's like to be in
the hall either alive or dead."

He could say no more, but fell into a sort of doze, the result of the
powerful stimulant on his enfeebled frame and empty stomach. Then
Bartley, with trembling hands, brought out a map of the mine and showed
Walter where the second party had got to.

"See," said he, "they are within twenty feet of the bottom, and the hall
is twenty-three feet high. Hope measured it. Give up working downward,
pick into the sides of that hall, for in that hall I see them at night;
sometimes they are alive, sometimes they are dead, sometimes they are
dying. I shall go mad, I shall go mad!"

With this he went raging about, giving the wildest orders, with the looks
and tones of a madman. In a minute he had a cage ready for Walter, and
twenty fresh-lit lamps, and down went Walter with more men and pickaxes.
As soon as he got out of the cage he cried, wildly, "Stop that, men, and
do as I do."

He took a sweep with his pick, and delivered a horizontal blow at the
clay on that side of the shaft Bartley had told him to attack. His
pickaxe stuck in it, and he extricated it with difficulty.

"Nay, master," cried a miner who had fallen in love with him, "drive thy
pick at t' coal."

Walter then observed that above the clay there was a narrow seam of coal;
he heaved his pick again, but instead of striking it half downward, as he
ought to have done, he delivered a tremendous horizontal blow that made
the coal ring like a church bell, and jarred his own stout arms so
terribly that the pick fell out of his numbed hand.

Then the man who had advised him saw that he was disabled for a time, and
stepped into his place.

But in that short interval an incident occurred so strange and thrilling
that the stout miners uttered treble cries, like women, and then one
mighty "Hah!" burst like a diapason from their manly bosoms.

CHAPTER XXIII.

BURIED ALIVE.--THE THREE DEADLY PERILS.

Seven miners were buried under the ruins of the shaft; but although
masses of coal and clay fell into the hall from the side nearest to
the explosions, and blocked up some of the passages, nobody was
crushed to death there; only the smoke was so stifling that it seemed
impossible to live.

That smoke was lighter than the air; its thick pall lifted by degrees and
revealed three figures.

Grace Hope, by happy instinct, had sunk upon the ground to breathe in
that stifling smoke. Hope, who had collared Ben Burnley, had sunk to the
ground with him, but still clutched the assassin. These were the three
left alive in the hall, and this was their first struggle for life.

As soon as it was possible to speak Hope took up his lamp, which had
fallen, and holding it up high, he cried, "Grace, my child, where are
you?" She came to him directly; he took her in his arms and thanked God
for this great preservation.

Then he gave Burnley a kick, and ordered him to the right hand of the
hall. "You'll keep to that side," he said, "and think of what you have
done; your victims will keep this side, and comfort each other till
honest men undo your work, you villain."

Burnley crouched, and wriggled away like a whipped hound, and flung
himself down in bitter despair.

"Oh, papa," said Grace, "we have escaped a great danger, but shall we
ever see the light of day?"

"Of course we shall, child; be sure that great efforts will be made to
save us. Miners have their faults, but leaving other men to perish is not
one of them; there are no greater heroes in the world than those rough
fellows, with all their faults. What you and I must do at once is to
search for provisions and lamps and tools; if there are no poisonous
gases set free, it is a mere question of time. My poor child has a hard
life before her; but only live, and we shall be rescued."

These brave words comforted Grace, as they were intended to do, and she
accompanied her father down the one passage which was left open after the
explosion. Fortunately this led to a new working, and before he had gone
many yards Hope found a lamp that had been dropped by some miner who had
rushed into the hall as the first warning came. Hope extinguished the
light, and gave it to Grace.

"That will be twenty-four hours' light to us," said he; "but, oh, what I
want to find is food. There must be some left behind."

"Papa," said Grace, "I think I saw a miner throw a bag into an empty
truck when the first alarm was given."

"Back! back! my child!" cried Hope, "before that villain finds it!"

He did not wait for her but ran back, and he found Ben Burnley in the
neighborhood of that very truck: but Burnley sneaked off at his
approach. Hope, looking into the truck, found treasures--a dozen new
sacks, a heavy hammer, a small bag of nails, a can of tea, and a bag
with a loaf in it, and several broken pieces of bread. He put his lamp
out directly, for he had lucifer-matches in his pocket, and he hid the
bag of bread; then he lighted his lamp again and fastened it up by a
nail in the centre of the hall.

"There," said he to Burnley, "that's to light us both equally; when it
goes out you must hang up yours in its place."

"That's fair," said Burnley, humbly.

There were two trucks on Hope's side of the hall--the empty one in
question, and one that was full of coal. Both stood about two yards from
Hope's side of the hall. Hope turned the empty truck and brought it
parallel to the other; then he nailed two sacks together, and fastened
them to the coal truck and the debris; then he laid sacks upon the ground
for Grace to lie on, and he kept two sacks for himself, and two in
reserve, and he took two and threw them to Ben Burnley.

"I give you two, and I keep two myself," said he. "But my daughter shall
have a room to herself even here; and if you molest her I'll brain you
with this hammer."

"I don't want to molest her," said Burnley. "It ain't my fault
she's here."

Then there was a gloomy silence, and well there might be. The one lamp,
twinkling faintly against the wall, did but make darkness visible, and
revealed the horror of this dismal scene. The weary hours began to crawl
away, marked only by Hope's watch, for in this living tomb summer was
winter, and day was night.

The horrors of entombment in a mine have, we think, been described
better than any other calamity which befalls living men. Inspired by
this subject novelists have gone beyond themselves, journalists have
gone beyond themselves; and, without any affectation, we say we do not
think we could go through the dismal scene before us in its general
details without falling below many gifted contemporaries, and adding
bulk without value to their descriptions. The true characteristic
feature of _this_ sad scene was not, we think, the alternations of hope
and despair, nor the gradual sinking of frames exhausted by hunger and
thirst, but the circumstance that here an assassin and his victims were
involved in one terrible calamity; and as one day succeeded to another,
and the hoped for rescue came not, the hatred of the assassin and his
victims was sometimes at odds with the fellowship that sprang out of a
joint calamity. About twelve hours after the explosion Burnley detected
Hope and his daughter eating, and moistening their lips with the tea and
a spoonful of brandy that Hope had poured into it out of his flask to
keep it from turning sour.

"What, haven't you a morsel for me?" said the ruffian, in a
piteous voice.

Hope gave a sort of snarl of contempt, but still he flung a crust to him
as he would to a dog.

Then, after some slight hesitation, Grace rose quietly and took the
smaller can, and tilled it with tea, and took it across to him.

"There," said she, "and may God forgive you."

He took it and stared at her.

"It ain't my fault that you are here," said he; but she put up her hand
as much as to say, "No idle words."

* * * * *

Two whole days had now elapsed. The food, though economized, was all
gone. Burnley's lamp was flickering, and utter darkness was about to be
added to the horrors which were now beginning to chill the hopes with
which these poor souls had entered on their dire probation. Hope took the
alarm, seized the expiring lamp, trimmed it, and carried it down the one
passage that was open. This time he did not confine his researches to the
part where he could stand upright, but went on his hands and knees down
the newest working. At the end of it he gave a shout of triumph, and in a
few minutes returned to his daughter exhausted, and blackened all over
with coal; but the lamp was now burning brightly in his hand, and round
his neck was tied a can of oil.

"Oh, my poor father," said Grace, "is that all you have discovered?"

"Thank God for it," said Hope. "You little know what it would be to pass
two more days here without light, as well as without food."

* * * * *

The next day was terrible. The violent pangs of hunger began to gnaw like
vultures, and the thirst was still more intolerable; the pangs of hunger
intermitted for hours at a time, and then returned to intermit again:
they exhausted but did not infuriate; but the rage of thirst became
incessant and maddening. Ben Burnley suffered the most from this, and the
wretch came to Hope for consolation.

"Where's the sense of biding here," said he, "to be burned to deeth wi'
drought? Let's flood the mine, and drink or be drooned."

"How can I flood the mine?" said Hope.

"Yow know best, maister," said the man. "Why, how many tons of water did
ye draw from yon tank every day?"

"We conduct about five tons into a pit, and we send about five tons up to
the surface daily."

"Then how much water will there be in the tank now?"

Hope looked at his watch and said, "There was a good deal of water in
the tank when you blew up the mine; there must be about thirty tons
in it now."

"Well, then," said Burnley, "you that knows everything, help me brust the
wall o' tank; it's thin enow."

Hope reflected.

"If we let in the whole body of water," said he, "it would shatter us to
pieces, and crush us against the wall of our prison and drown us before
it ran away through the obstructed passages into the new workings.
Fortunately, we have no pickaxe, and can not be tempted to
self-slaughter."

This silenced Burnley for the day, and he remained sullenly apart; still
the idea never left his mind. The next day, toward evening, he asked Hope
to light his own lamp, and come and look at the wall of the tank.

"Not without me," whispered Grace. "I see him cast looks of hatred at
you."

They went together, and Burnley bade Hope observe that the water was
trickling through in places, a drop at a time; it could not penetrate the
coaly veins, nor the streaks of clay, but it oozed through the porous
strata, certain strips of blackish earth in particular, and it trickled
down, a drop at a time. Hope looked at this feature with anxiety, for he
was a man of science, and knew by the fate of banked reservoirs, great
and small, the strange explosive power of a little water driven through
strata by a great body pressing behind it.

"You'll see, it will brust itsen," said Burnley, exultantly, "and the
sooner the better for me; for I'll never get alive out on t' mine; yow
blowed me to the men, and they'll break every bone in my skin."

Hope did not answer this directly.

"There, don't go to meet trouble, my man," said he. "Give me the
can, Grace. Now, Burnley, hold this can, and catch every drop till
it is full."

"Why, it will take hauf a day to fill it," objected Burnley, "and it will
be hauf mud when all is done."

"I'll filter it," said Hope. "You do as you are bid."

He darted to a part of the mine where he had seen a piece of charred
timber; he dragged it in with him, and asked Grace for a
pocket-handkerchief; she gave him a clean cambric one. He took his
pocket-knife and soon scraped off a little heap of charcoal; and then he
sewed the handkerchief into a bag--for the handy man always carried a
needle and thread.

Slowly, slowly the muddy water trickled into the little can, and then the
bag being placed over the larger can, slowly, slowly the muddy water
trickled through Hope's filter, and dropped clear and drinkable into the
larger can. In that dead life of theirs, with no incidents but torments
and terrors, the hours passed swiftly in this experiment. Hope sat upon a
great lump of coal, his daughter kneeled in front of him, gazing at him
with love, confidence, reverence; and Burnley kneeled in front of him
too, but at a greater distance, with wolfish eyes full of thirst and
nothing else.

At last the little can was two-thirds full of clear water. Hope took the
large iron spoon which he had found along with the tea, and gave a full
spoonful to his daughter. "My child," said he, "let it trickle very

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