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Anna St. Ives by Thomas Holcroft

Part 9 out of 11

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I'll bet you the fifty guineas, double or quit, I break this china
plate at the first shot, ten paces distant.

By the great grumbler, answered he, but I'll bet you don't! immediately
delivering me one pistol, and taking up and unlocking the other
himself. Accordingly I placed the plate against the wall, fired, and
was not far from the centre. Upon my honour and soul, sir, said Mac
Fane, but I find you are a good shot, and I shall be glad to be better
acquainted with you.

Having convinced him that I could hit a mark as well as himself, I
returned to the subject of Henley; and though I could not bring him to
be explicit, I learned from him that he was acquainted with Henley's
aversion to prosecute, but does not know on what that aversion is
founded. Beside which he confides in a want of witnesses, as I could
perceive: except that he has some fear of his accomplice, Webb; a man
in whose company this very Mac Fane once attempted to rob Sir Arthur,
and whom I suspect he would impeach, but that it would ruin all his
gambling views. For he has found means of associating with that whole
class of young fools of fortune, whose perverted education leads them
to take pleasure in the impudence and humour of such a fellow, as well
as in seeing each other stripped and ruined by turns; but who would
never admit him as a companion, did they know he had been guilty of an
act so desperate as that of going on the highway. Scarcely any thing
short of this can expel such a fellow from such society.

But though he thinks himself secure in consequence of the lenity of
Henley, he hates him as sincerely as if he were pursuing him to the
gallows. The loss of the three thousand guineas is one great motive;
and another is that he felt he was out-braved by Henley, whom he could
not terrify, but who on the contrary terrified him.

I found he had even formed a scheme of petty vengeance, which was to
waylay Henley with some bruising fellows of his acquaintance, for he is
acquainted with daring villains of all descriptions, one of whom was to
insult, provoke him to fight, and beat him, while Mac Fane himself
should keep at some distance, disguised.

It was with some difficulty I could persuade him to desist from this
plan, and join in projects of my own. But at last however he was
convinced that to rob him of his mistress, and awaken him from all his
dreams of imaginary bliss to the torture I am preparing, would be
more effectual revenge than a paltry beating. Not to mention that I
firmly believe, instead of being beaten, he would conquer the best
prize-fighter they could bring; for he is really a powerful and
extraordinary fellow.

But you will perceive, Fairfax, I was obliged to inform him of a part
of my own views; and that I might fix him I determined to bid high. I
told him I had Henley and another person to secure; and that if he
would aid me himself and provide other assistants to act under his
directions, without seeing or being informed of me, I would give him a
thousand guineas as soon as all this should be perfectly accomplished.
And, as an earnest of my generosity, I put down the fifty guineas;
saying that the wager I had made with him was not a fair one, for that
it was fifty guineas to a straw in my favour: he had no chance of
winning.

He was quite satisfied with my offer, strengthened as it was by the
gratification of his own passions. I told him what a puissant hero
Henley is, and of the necessity of coming upon him by surprise. I told
him I had seen a house, as before described, beyond Knightsbridge,
which pleased me; but that I could not find another near enough, in
which to secure Henley.

The geography of the place I mentioned seemed to start an idea in his
mind, and he told me, if I would meet him in two days at the same
tavern, he would in the mean time not only make preparations and
procure assistants, but perhaps bring me further intelligence. As
the fellow's brain seemed busy, I did not wish to rob him of the
self-satisfaction of invention, and we accordingly parted, making
the appointment he proposed.

Of all existing beings, he perhaps was the only one who could in a
country like this become the proper instrument of my revenge. And yet,
Fairfax, he is a hateful fellow! His language, his looks, his manners,
his passions, are all hateful! Courage excepted, there is not a single
trait in him but what is abominable! He delights in talking of hocking
men, chalking them, and cutting them down! Every time his anger rises
against any one, these are its attendant ideas. Such a fellow must come
to some tragical end. He can never die of old age, and scarcely of
disease. Nothing but the lead and steel in which he delights can end
him.

So it is, and I have no remedy. But he shall be to me no more than an
implement, with which I will carve the coming banquet.

How minute are the chances and events on which we depend! A few slight
alterations of incident, and how different would have been the train of
my thoughts! She might have been happy with me, for I loved her,
Fairfax. I loved her. I feel it more and more; and were but
circumstances a little more favourable, I believe I should turn about
and take a contrary path.

But it cannot be! The barrier is insurmountable! An adamantine wall,
reaching to the skies! I remember what she said, at her proud uncle's
table--'I have an abhorrence, Mr. Clifton, of the errors in which you
are now indulging.'--Abhorrence was the word, Fairfax!--It has been at
my tongue's end ever since--And when she talked of my errors she meant
me.--'I ultimately and determinedly renounce all thought of him!'--This
was her language! I knew before which way her heart went; and can I
suppose, now she has got a fair excuse, that she will not profit by it?
Oh no! I am not so ill read as that in the passions. But I have said
the word--They shall never come together!--They never never shall!

C. CLIFTON

LETTER CVII

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_London, Dover Street_

I have received your dissuasive epistle, Fairfax. It found me moody and
did not contribute to make me merry. To own the truth, no ghost need
rise to tell me the methods I use are inclined to the violent. Can you
find me better? Nay can you find any other? I care not for
consequences; I brave them all.

Time was that I could have been happy with her! Ay and should, but for
this fiend Henley. He sleeps securely! Let him sleep on! I will soon
awaken him!

I thought I should have been tortured but by one chief passion, and
that the love of vengeance would have enveloped me wholly: but they are
all devouring me by turns. I certainly hate her, and him I abhor. Yet
pictures of imaginary happiness, that might have been, are continually
rising, and vanishing in gloomy regret. He too, at the very moment that
I could murder him, I am obliged to admire!

Still he shall not have her! Though death overtake him, her and me, he
shall not have her! But what is death? A thing to covet, not to dread.
'Tis existence only that is hateful!--Would that my bones were now
mouldering!--Why have I brains and nerves and sensibilities?--Oh that I
were in the poisonous desert, where I might gulp mephitic winds and
drop dead; or in a moment be buried in tornados of burning sand! Would
that my scull were grinning there, and blanching; rather than as it is
consciously parching, scorched by fires itself has kindled!

I spent all yesterday with that Irish scoundrel. Malignity is his
element, and mischief his delight! I suspect by his assiduity that he
is poor just at present; for a more industrious demon black Cocytus
does not yield. He is already provided with associates, and has found
another principal agent for the great work. It is a strange expedient!
But these are strange fellows! And yet it is a lucky one; superior to
any that I had projected.

When I mentioned the Knightsbridge road at our first interview, Mac
Fane recollected that an intimate of his had just set up what was to
him a new trade, in the neighbourhood; that of being the keeper of a
madhouse. He determined to go and propose the business to him; and as
the fellow was preparing to advertise for lunatics, but had not yet got
a single patient, there was a complete opening for such a plan.

He proposed taking me to see this intended guardian of maniacs, and his
house; and I ordered a post-chaise for that purpose, that I might hide
myself in one corner of it, and not let a living soul detect me with
such a companion.

As we were going, I enquired if this keeper were an Irishman? He took
offence, and retorted--'What did I mane by an Irishman? Becase he is a
rogue you think he is an Irishman! By the holy carpenter you need not
come to Ireland for that kind of ware! You have a viry pritty breed of
rogues of your own! But he is not Irish. He is one of your own sulky
English bugs.'

The description was not inapplicable, for I think I never beheld a more
lowering, black-browed, evil-eyed fellow, since the hour I first saw
light. He had all the gloom of the most irrascible bulldog, but without
his generous courage. He seemed more proper to make men mad than cure
them of madness. But he had two excellent qualities for my purpose;
poverty and a disposition to all ill.

I am got into excellent company! But I care not! I will on! All this
seems as if it were but the prologue to the tragedy. But be it that, or
be it what it will--I care nothing for myself; and I have little cause
to care more for them. She never had any mercy on me; and least this
last interview, when I was pleading before her pompous uncle.

I have been obliged to hold consultations with these Satanic rascals,
to concert ways and means. The most secure we have been able to devise,
relative to Henley, is to have a straight waistcoat, to come upon him
suddenly, and to encrust him in it before he shall know what we are
about. This with a gag will make him safe. But there must not be less
than four fellows, and those stout ones. Nothing must be left to
chance.

Three more must be provided for the lady, of whom Mac Fane himself
proposes to be one. But he means to keep out of sight of Henley, till
he is in custody.

I have various preparations yet to make. Mac Fane is to go and hire me
the empty house tomorrow. It is furnished; but it must be aired, for I
would not have her die a paltry catch-cold death. I would treat her
like a gentlewoman in every respect but one; and in that I will have as
little compassion on her as she has had on me.

It might have been otherwise! I came to her a generous lover! I saw her
and was amazed at her beauties, captivated by her enchanting manners,
soothed by her unvaried sweetness! But this sweetness she has turned to
gall! I adored her, and was prepared eternally to adore! But injury
followed injury in such quick succession that apathy itself called
aloud for vengeance!

I own it is true what she said at her uncle's, that I had made a
resolution not to marry her. But what were my resolutions? She herself
could not but feel she had the power to break them all. But she had not
the will, Fairfax! It rankles there! She hates me, and what is more
damnable she loves another!

I must turn my thoughts again to this detested mad-house man, and
the scenery around it. All the avenues must be examined, and all the
bye-paths and open roads that lead toward both houses inspected, that
Mac Fane and his emissaries may make no blunder. I will if possible
keep out of the action, but I will be near at hand.

I have a secret wish, the moment all is over, to fly the odious scene;
for horribly odious it will be: but it would have the appearance of
cowardice. It must end tragically! Not even the poor creatures who
stand in the place of her natural guardians, tame as they are, can
suffer such an insult. Yet which of them dare look me in the face, and
call himself my enemy? And, after injuring her, shall I hesitate at
trampling upon them?

I must steel my heart, Fairfax, when I go to the encounter; must
recapitulate all my wrongs. I have them noted down severally as they
occurred! I need but read to rage! What do I talk?--Read?--Can I forget
them? No; night nor day! They are my familiars. They wake with me,
sleep with me, walk with me, ride with me, glower with me, curse with
me--but never smile with me. They are become my dearest intimates. I
cherish and hug them to my heart! Their biting is my only pleasure!

I cannot forget this keeper. He is a foul-faced fellow! Has a wry look;
a dogged, dungeon hue; of the deepest dusk and progeny of Beelzebub! I
wonder by whom, where, and why such fellows are begotten!

There are horrid villains in the world! Villains by trade; that never
felt the strong impulse of high-minded passion; that could breakfast in
an hospital, dine in a slaughter-house, and sup in the sanguinary field
of battle, listening to the groans of the mangled; or toss them on the
point of forks, to smelt in a heap! I have heard her talk something of
these depraved natures, and of the times when they are all to be
humanised. Can you conjecture when, Fairfax? Yet she said they should
be, and I was half inclined to believe her.

C. CLIFTON

P.S. I meant to notice that passage in your letter in which you mention
Beaunoir; but I forgot it till this moment. So you are at last inclined
to think Anna St. Ives must be something more than you every day meet,
from the rapturous description of that rodomontade Count? After all I
have written, your faith wanted the seal of such a lunatic? Had you
forgotten that the time was when I would have married her? And did that
say nothing?

The Count is preparing for England? Let him come! I remember one of his
crazy phrases and claims was that he would be her champion, should ever
base knight attempt to do her harm. Nor have I forgotten his intended
visit, received by Henley. May the winds set fair and blow him quickly
over! Should he have any such frolics in his brain, we shall not be
long in coming to terms.

This Mac Fane is incessantly importuning me to play, and what is
strange has several times excited the desire in me. I took up the dice
box, after we had been to the mad-house, and threw half a dozen casts
at hazard; but I soon found it was in vain, and checked myself. I know
I have the command of my own temper in that respect.

I have been reading over this tedious homily, and find it most
ineffably dull. But what is to be done? My gaiety is gone. My high
spirits are converted into black bile. My thoughts are hellebore and
deadly night-shade, and hilarity is for ever poisoned.

LETTER CVIII

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_London, Grosvenor-Street_

Have I been unjust to the brother of my friend? Or had my words the
power over him to turn him from a guilty purpose?--Well; rather, ay
infinitely rather let me be a false accuser than he culpable! He seeks
me no more, offers not to molest me, and I hope has forgotten me; at
least has seen the error of endeavouring to accomplish a purpose so
criminal by means so base. I expected storms, but a sweet calm has
succeeded that seems to portend tranquillity and happiness.

With respect to me and Frank, our union appears to be hastening to a
conclusion. Sir Arthur, impelled forward by his hopes and fears,
proceeds though reluctantly to act contrary to the wishes of my
arrogant uncle. Mrs. Wenbourne is dissatisfied; but her opposition is
feeble, for Edward is reconciled to the match; having no other motive
but the acquisition of a sum of money for his consent to dock the
entail; and of the manner in which this sum will be squandered we have
already had sufficient proof.

I understand Lord Fitz-Allen affects to credit a report of a very
ridiculous, though as some would think it of a very injurious nature;
which is that there was a collusion between Frank Henley and Mac Fane
respecting my brother's gambling affair. The circumstances necessary to
render this probable are so violent as immediately to expose its
absurdity, and to make it matter of amazement how such an assertion
could be invented, or circulated.

What could be Frank's motive?--My wise uncle has his answer
ready--'That of imposing upon the family in order to marry me.'

And what Mac Fane's? 'A bribe' is a short phrase, and soon said.

I imagine it to be some dream of my uncle's, who has an aptitude for
this kind of invention; and who having once put a few incidents
together that seem to agree, persuades himself with great facility that
the fable he has created is fact. Petty calumny like this is wholly
incapable of moving Frank Henley.

The restless crafty Abimelech has prevailed on Sir Arthur to go down
with him to Wenbourne-Hill. He well knows how much his own power will
be increased by the old habits of Sir Arthur, and the ease with which
they can be revived by this his interested abettor. Not but I am well
convinced, when once every thing shall be settled, and he have no
longer any thing to fear from the opposition of Sir Arthur, he will be
as little a friend to improving as any of us. Various hints which have
dropped from him would have proved this to Sir Arthur, had he not been
blind enough to suppose that, he being a baronet, honest Aby is bound
ever to remain his most obedient slave and steward; forgetting the
proofs he has received that Abimelech at present is more inclined to
command than to obey; and that when he parts with money he must have
what he calls the whys and the wherefores.

His confidence in Frank however is now so entire that he has entrusted
the transaction of certain money business to him, necessary on the
present occasion, which he came up purposely to negotiate himself, but
which he is now convinced can be done full as prudently and safely by
his son. But a few months ago, Frank tells me, he petitioned this
father in vain for thirty pounds, who now commits thousands to his
keeping.

Not but it is from a conviction that there is no propensity in Frank to
waste one of those guineas of which he is so enamoured. Without the
least love of money, Frank is a rigid economist. The father indulges no
false wants because it would be expensive; the son has none to indulge.
Habits which in the one are the fruits of avarice, in the other are the
offspring of wisdom.

Abimelech has some confused suspicion that Frank acts from higher
motives than himself, and such as he does not understand; but still he
hopes they are all founded on his own favourite basis, the love of
hoarding. Nor can he very well persuade himself that this love is not
the grand mover with all men of sense, among whom he now ranks his son
high.

But ah, Louisa, how different are the views of this worthy, this
heavenly-gifted son! He is anxiously studious to discover how he may
apply the wealth that may revert to him most to benefit that society
from which it first sprang. The best application of riches is one of
our frequent themes; because it will be one of our first duties. The
diffusion of knowledge, or more properly of truth, is the one great
good to which wealth, genius, and existence ought all to be applied.
This noble purpose gives birth to felicity which is in itself grand,
inexhaustible, and eternal.

How ineffable is the bliss of having discovered a friend like Frank
Henley, who will not only pursue this best of purposes himself, but
will through life conduct me in the same path, will aid my efforts to
promote the great work, and, by a combination of those powers we happen
to possess, will add energy to effort, and perhaps render it fifty fold
more pervading and effective!

Husband and wife, parent and child are ties which at present claim, or
rather extort a part of our attention. But oh how poor how
insignificant are they, when compared to the claims of eternal justice;
which bind man to man in equal and impartial benevolence over the face
of the whole earth, and render the wandering Arab, who is in need of
aid or instruction from me, as truly my brother as the one my mother
gave me.

I seem now but beginning the journey of life; and to have found a
companion, guide, and consoler like Frank Henley is surely no common
felicity! May the fates grant my Louisa just such another!

A. W. ST. IVES

P.S. You do not think, Louisa, no I am sure you cannot think that all
the ardour I felt for the recovery of a mind like Mr. Clifton's is
lost. Far, far otherwise! I still hope to see him even more than my
fondest reveries have imagined! But I am not the agent; or at least
this is not the moment; or which is still more probable no agent now is
wanted. His mind has been obliged to enquire, and though passion may
for a time suppress truth, its struggles will be incessant; must be so
in a mind of such activity, and must at last be victorious. The grand
enemy of truth is the torpid state of error; for the beginning of doubt
is always the beginning of discovery. Let us then continue to love this
man of wonderful genius; not for what he is, but what he shall be.

LETTER CIX

_Frank Henley to Oliver Trenchard_

_London, Grosvenor-Street_

Oh, Oliver, how fair is the prospect before me! How fruitful of
felicity, how abundant in bliss! Yes, my friend, jointly will we
labour, your most worthy father, you, I, Anna, her friend, and all the
converts we can make to truth, to promote the great end we seek! We
will form a little band which will daily increase, will swell to a
multitude, ay till it embrace the whole human species!

Surely, Oliver, to be furnished with so many of the means of
promulgating universal happiness is no small blessing. My feelings are
all rapture! And yet if I know my heart, it is not because I have
gained a selfish solitary good; but because I live in an age when light
begins to appear even in regions that have hitherto been thick
darkness; and that I myself am so highly fortunate as to be able to
contribute to the great the universal cause; the progress of truth, the
extirpation of error, and the general perfection of mind! I and those
dear friends I have named; who are indeed dear because of their ardent
and uniform love of virtue!

Neither, Oliver, are all our hopes of Clifton lost. Anna thinks, and so
do I, that he has heard too much ever to forget it all: or rather that
he has a mind so penetrating, and so eternally busy, that, having been
once led to enquire, it is scarcely in the power of accident wholly to
impede the progress of enquiry. And should accident be favourable, that
progress would indeed be rapid! By his intercourse with Anna his mind
is become impregnated with the seeds of truth; and surely the soil is
too rich for these seeds not to spring, bud, and bear a plenteous
harvest. Ay, Oliver, fear not. It is not the beauty of the picture that
seduces, but the laws of necessity, which declare the result for which
we hope to be inevitable.

My present state of happiness meets some slight check from incidental
circumstances, not in my power to guide. My father and Sir Arthur are
doing what I believe to be a right thing, but from wrong motives. The
prodigal Edward, from a very different avarice of enjoyment, is eager
to dock the entail. The sum he is to receive will soon be squandered,
and he will then be as eager to imagine himself treated with injustice;
and will conceive himself left half to perish with want, if his
accustomed dissipation be not supplied. But that it must not be. If we
can teach him better we will; if not he must be left to repine and
accuse, and we must patiently suffer the error which we cannot cure.

Lord Fitz-Allen indulges himself in thinking as much ill of me as he
can, and in speaking all he thinks. But this is indeed a trifle. I know
that the mistakes of his mind, situated as he is, are incurable; and to
grieve or feel pain for what cannot be avoided is neither the act of
wisdom nor of virtue.

F. HENLEY

LETTER CX

_Frank Henley to Oliver Trenchard_

_London, Grosvenor Street_

I did not intend to have written again so soon, but an incident has
occurred which perplexes all reasoning upon it, and again engenders
doubt. It relates to Clifton.

I last night attended Anna to Covent-Garden playhouse, where about
eight o'clock I was obliged to leave her, having an appointment with
some gentlemen in the city relative to my father's money affairs at
that hour; which having settled it was agreed I should return in the
carriage for Anna, before the play was ended, to conduct her home.
Accordingly having met my men of business, whom on Friday next I am to
meet again to receive eight thousand pounds, I drove back to Covent
Garden.

It was then about ten o'clock. The coachman stopped at the Piazza. I
alighted; but, as I was stepping out of the carriage, whom should I see
but the gambler and highwayman, Mac Fane, linked arm in arm with Mr.
Clifton! I was struck with amazement, as well I might be. A thousand
confused doubts succeeded to each other, which I had neither time nor
indeed power to unravel.

However it seemed to me almost impossible that Mr. Clifton should know
the man, and suffer himself to be seen in public with such a character.
For certainly a want of self-respect is not one of the habitual
mistakes of Mr. Clifton. I stopped some little time in this state of
perplexity, but at last concluded it would be highly culpable in me to
leave Mr. Clifton ignorant of the character of his acquaintance. They
had gone toward King-Street, and I hastened after them.

I soon came up with them, and addressing myself to Mr. Clifton,
said--'Sir, it is incumbent on me to inform you of a particular of
which I imagine you are ignorant. The name of the man you are in
company with is Mac Fane. You have heard his history. He is the
gambler who endeavoured to defraud Captain St. Ives of three thousand
pounds.'

I have before acquainted thee, Oliver, of the ferocious character of
this Mac Fane; of which I have now had further proofs. I had scarcely
finished my phrase before he replied, with one of his accustomary
oaths--'You're a scoundrel and a liar'--and immediately made a blow at
me.

Being previously on my guard and watchful of his motions, I stepped
quickly back, and he missed me and reeled. This was in King-Street,
where I overtook them.

I turned back, intending not to notice his insult; but he was too much
enraged to suffer me to escape, unless I had thought proper to run. He
is a very muscular fellow, and confident of his own strength. No man
could be more determined than I was to avoid so absurd a contest, had
it been possible; but it was not. He made several blows at me, two or
three of which took effect, before I returned one of them. But finding
that I must be obliged to beat him in order to get rid of him, and that
there was absolutely no other mode, I began my task with all necessary
determination.

The mob collected apace, and we were presently surrounded by
passengers, waiters, chairmen, footmen, hackney-coachmen and link-boys.
It was a strange disgusting situation; but it did not admit of a
remedy. This fellow, Mac Fane, has studied the whole school of assault,
and is a practised pugilist. When I was a boy thou knowest, Oliver, and
before thy worthy father had taught me better, I was myself vain of my
skill and prowess. I was not therefore the novice which he expected to
have found. Not to mention, Oliver, that energy of mind, if it be real
and true energy, is itself, without any such contemptible knowledge,
sufficient to overcome the strongest efforts of tyranny.

Of this I presently made Mr. Mac Fane sensible. After the very first
onset, he felt himself cowed; which increased his rage so much that he
endeavoured to have recourse to the most malignant and cruel
expedients, to obtain victory. This obliged me to give him several hard
and very dangerous blows, which I should otherwise have been cautious
of doing, and the effects of which he will for some time continue to
feel.

He fought however with great obstinacy, and in a manner which proved
how much his ambition was wounded by being conquered. The mob, as in
all such cases, chose different sides; but much the greatest part was
for me. They several times saw the malicious and evil intentions of Mac
Fane; and he once received a blow for them, from one of the assistants,
which made him more guarded.

It is delightful to the philosopher to perceive how, even in error,
justice struggles to shew itself. Those rules which are the laws of
honour to the mob originate in this noble principle: and never is the
infraction of justice more dangerous than at such moments, when the
mind is awakened to full exertion.

Still it was a painful and degrading situation! Wert thou ever at the
mercy of a mob? Didst thou ever feel the littleness of thy own
faculties, when exerted to make a confused multitude act rationally, at
the very time that thou thyself wert apparently acting like a fool, or
a madman? If so, Oliver, thou canst conceive something of the contempt
which I felt for myself, during this scene. Can a general, thinkest
thou, if he be really a fit person to be a general, feel otherwise in
the heat of battle? For I am mistaken if armies of the best disciplined
men, brought into action, do not more or less become a mob. And added
to this sense of imbecility, what must the general's feelings be the
next morning, when he goes to view the wretched scene of his own
making? Does he go to view it, thinkest thou, or does he shun the
fight? If he go he is a fiend; and if he stay away he is worse!

The battle being ended and the rage of Mr. Mac Fane, though perhaps
increased, obliged to restrain itself, there stood I, surrounded by my
applauding admirers, suffering a thousand ridiculous interrogatories,
and confined to the spot for the want of clothes! My hat and coat I had
committed to one person, and my watch and purse to another; taking it
for granted the latter would have been stolen from me if I had not, as
was actually the fact, for my breeches pockets were turned inside out.
I had rightly concluded that the chances were more favourable in
trusting to a person I should select, than to the honesty of a mob in
the confines of Covent-Garden.

I was fortunate: the whole of my moveables again made their appearance;
and it gave me great pleasure, because I had trusted my purse and watch
to a poor fellow. The consciousness of his own honesty was a greater
pleasure to him than the recompense he received from me; though I
thought it my duty to reward him liberally. Beside he had seen me ill
treated, and had conceived an affection for me, or more properly for
the justice of my cause, and he rejoiced exultingly in my victory.

I escaped from the shouts and congratulations of my greasy well-meaning
companions as fast as I could; and after a further delay of stepping
into a coffee-house, to wash and adjust my appearance as well as
circumstances would permit, I joined Anna, who began to be alarmed, the
play being over and the house almost empty.

I saw no more of Clifton. But that affords me no clue. If he were
before unacquainted with Mac Fane, he would hasten from such a
companion with vexation and contempt: and if the contrary, his chagrin
at being seen by me would equally induce him to shun us. Mind, as I
have always remarked, Oliver, and as I have before reasoned with thee
relative to him, is slow in ridding itself of the habits of prejudice,
even when prejudice itself seems to have ceased.

'Tis true that conjectures disadvantageous to Clifton have, when Anna
and I were considering this incident, intruded themselves forcibly upon
us: but they were only conjectures, and I hope ill founded. Indeed they
are improbable; for Clifton could not knowingly league himself with a
man like Mac Fane, except for purposes too black or too desperate for
even passions so violent as his to entertain.

I know mind to be capable of astonishing mistakes; nor can I pretend,
when I recollect the proofs on record, to say what are the boundaries
of error; nor indeed what are the boundaries of probability. But I
think Clifton could not make himself the associate of Mac Fane!

I should pronounce more boldly still, but that I cannot conceive how it
was possible for a character so legible and gross, as that of this
gambler, to impose for a moment on Coke Clifton; acquainted as he is
with the world, and accustomed to detect and satirize what he
understands to be absurdity! I can only say, if he be proceeding fin
error so flagrant and deep as this, he is a man much to be feared, but
more to be pitied.

F. HENLEY

LETTER CXI

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_London, Dover Street_

Again and again, Fairfax, this is an infernal world! A vile,
disgusting, despicable, besotted ass of a world! Existence in it is not
worth accepting; and the sooner we spurn it from us the better we shall
assert our claim to the dignity and wisdom of which it is destitute.

How do I despise the blundering insolent scoundrel with whom I am
linked! How despicable am I to myself!

I last night met the fellow again at the Shakespeare. Of all his dirty
qualities, not one of them is so tormenting as his familiar impudence!
There is no repressing it except by cutting his throat; a business
at which he is always alert. Nothing delights him so much as to talk
of extinguishing men, treading out their souls, feeding upon their
life-time, and other strange revolting phrases, all of the same
sanguinary sort.

Having consulted with him concerning the seizure of Anna and Frank, and
concluded that the affair should be ended as speedily as possible, I
wished to have shaken him off and retired: but the thing was
impracticable. I do not choose that my own carriage should attend me on
these expeditions; and as it was a rainy night, I knew the difficulty
of getting a coach. I therefore staid an hour till the entertainment
should be begun, and the Piazza probably more clear.

As there is no sitting in his company without some species of gaming,
for his whole conversation, that subject excepted, consists of oaths,
duels, and the impudent scoundrels he has put out of the world, I took
a few throws at hazard with him; and, as I was very careful to call for
fresh dice and to watch his motions, I was a winner; hazard perhaps
being the fairest of all games, if the dice be not foul. He ran over
his usual litany of being pigeoned, and about ten o'clock I left play,
and determined to sally forth; being apprehensive of engaging too
deeply at the game, if I staid longer.

The moment we had descended the stairs he impudently laid hold of my
arm. My blood boiled, Fairfax! Yet I was obliged to submit.

This was not all! The precautions I had taken were but a kind of
presentiment of the vexation that was preparing for me. Just as we
quitted the door of the tavern, who should bolt upon us but the hated
Henley! I shook with the broad shame! My teeth gnashed curses! How
willingly could I have pistoled him, Mac Fane, every being that eyed
me, and still more willingly myself!

But there was nothing for it but to walk on, and seem not to see him.
He however would not suffer me to depart without a double dose of
damnation! The same infernal officiousness, with which from the first
moment he saw me to the last he has been seized, came upon him; and
though I hurried through the Piazza to escape, like a perjurer from the
pillory, he pursued us purposely to inform me I was in company with a
rascal, and to warn me of my danger.

I never can recollect my own situation, without an impulse to snatch up
the first implement that would deprive me of a consciousness so
detestable!

The irascible fury of the bully rid me of my tormentor; he immediately
assaulted Henley, and I hastened away from two beings so almost equally
abhorrent, but from causes so opposite.

On the following evening, having another appointment with the gambling
rascal, I took care to have a coach waiting, and to go muffled up and
disguised as much as possible. But for once my caution was superfluous.
No Mac Fane appeared.

Not knowing what had happened, and it being night, and I thus properly
equipped, I resolved to drive to his lodgings. Being there I sent up my
name, and was admitted to the bed-chamber of this doughty exterminator
of men. If the temper of my mind were not obnoxious to all
cheerfulness, I could almost have laughed, the bully was so excellently
beaten, mortified, and enraged! His head was bound up, his eyes were
plaistered, his thumb sprained, his body of all colours, and his mind
as hotly fevered as Alexander's itself could have been, had Alexander
been vanquished at the battle of Issus!

His impatience to have Henley in his power is now almost phrensy; and
it will be phrensy itself when he comes to find, as find he will, that
though he can tie the hands of Henley his conquest must end there, and
that the prisoner will still defy and contemn his jailor. So would I
have him. Henley, though I hate, I cannot but respect and admire. The
other is a creature I detest myself for ever having known!

Yet who but he could have gratified the unabating burning passion of my
heart? I feel, Fairfax, as if I had taken my leave of hope, joy, and
human intercourse! I have a quarrel with the whole race for having been
forced into existence and into misery! I have suffered an accumulation
of disgrace, for which I can never pardon myself! And shall I permit
the authors of it to live undisturbed in their insult and triumph over
me? No, by hell, come of me what will! Lower I cannot be in my own
esteem than I already am: tremble those who made me so!

Beating has but rendered this rascal more impatient and active. Every
thing is prepared. The house is hired, aired, and provided with a
proper guardian. The madman keeper has all his implements ready. We
have now only to watch and catch them at a proper distance from all
succour, to which in their amorous walks they have frequently strayed.

Though even you, Fairfax, seem to disapprove my conduct, I care not.
Not to give yourself further trouble with what you call such positive
prudes might be a very good maxim for you, who love your ease too much
ever to be sensible of the boiling emotions of a soul like mine! You
are Guy Fairfax; I am Coke Clifton. Not but I should have imagined the
swelling volumes of injuries I have communicated would have lighted up
a sympathetic flame of retributive vengeance even in you, which not all
your phlegm could have quenched. But no matter--Though heaven, earth,
and hell were to face me frowning, I would on! My purpose is fixed: let
it but be accomplished, and consequences to myself will be the least of
all my cares.

C. CLIFTON

LETTER CXII

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_London, Dover Street_

Since the world began, never yet had scoundrel wight so many damning
accessary incidents to contend with, as I have had during the whole
progress of this affair! All hell seems busy to blacken me!--I have
done the deed--They are secure--But the hour of exultation itself is
embittered, and the legitimate triumph of vengeance made to wear the
face of baseness--I have them; but as I tell you there is an event,
that happened the very moment preceding the seizure, which seems to
have been contrived by the most malignant of the fiends of darkness,
purposely to steep me in guilt indelible!

After our myrmidons had been three days in vain upon the watch, on
Friday last Anna and Henley sallied forth, about two in the afternoon,
to take one of their amorous rambles. As usual they were followed by
Laura, who had sent me word of their intention, which she had learnt at
breakfast time. Henley it seems had previously been into the city.

A scout was on the watch, and when they appeared soon brought the
intelligence. All was in readiness. The keeper with three stout fellows
in one party, and MacFane with four more in another. The earliness of
their setting out denoted they intended to lengthen their walk. The
great danger was that it should have been directed to Kensington
Gardens, as it has been several times lately; but in this instance
fortune was on our side.

They went into the park, passed the gardens, walked beside the wall,
crossed the Kensington road, and strayed exactly as we could have
wished into the fields inclining toward Brompton.

I was on horseback, and by the help of a pocket telescope kept them in
view, without the danger of being seen, while they were in the park;
but as soon as they had left it I thought it necessary to spur on, and
be ready to prevent any blunders. I crossed the road down the lane at
the turnpike, passed them, and saw them arm in arm. The sight was
insupportable!

From what afterward happened they must have seen me too, though I
imagined myself under cover of the hedge.

You know my determination not to be robbed; and indeed robbery at such
a time, and in such a place, was a thing I had little reason to expect.
But a fellow, who was lying in ambush at the turn of the lane,
calculated differently. He imagined nobody to be near, and suddenly
presented himself and his pistol, with a demand of my money.

I made a blow at him with the butt end of my whip, which missed his
head, but fell on his shoulder. My horse started, he fired and missed,
but sprung suddenly forward, and seized hold of the bridle. He had
another pistol which he was preparing, imagining I should be more
intimidated when I found him so desperate. All this happened
immediately after I had passed Anna and Henley; and the latter perhaps
having seen the fellow, and certainly having heard the pistol, flew in
an instant, leaped the hedge, and just as the robber was again
presenting his pistol made a blow, and knocked it out of his hand.

The pistol went off, and the fellow took to his heels. Henley, instead
of pursuing him, stayed to enquire with much earnestness whether I had
received any hurt.

At this very damning speck of time, Fairfax, the keeper and his
scoundrels who had been dogging them came up. There were four of them:
two before and two behind. The undaunted Henley severally knocked down
the two fellows in front, and in an instant would undoubtedly have been
far enough out of all reach; but, in the very act of striking the
second rascal, he received a blow from a bludgeon, dealt by the
blood-hound keeper, which levelled him with the earth.

Never did my heart feel a twinge like that moment! I thought he was
dead! He lay motionless; notwithstanding which the infernal keeper
continued his occupation with unconcern, turned the unresisting body
over, slipped on the straight waistcoat, and bound down his arms.

At length he gave a groan! The instant I heard it I galloped off, full
speed. It was too much for heart to endure!

I soon afterward heard him shout for aid more than once, but to this
they presently put a stop, by forcing a gag into his mouth. They were
not very far distant from the house where he was to be confined, and to
which he was immediately hurried away.

There he at present remains. His morning dialogues, his noon-day walks,
and his nightly raptures are ended. They are things past, never more to
return! Of that torment at least I have rid myself; and others compared
to that are bliss ineffable! I had sworn it should not be! They might
have read the oath largely written on my brow, and ought instinctively
to have known it be the decree of fate!

No, Fairfax! I never asked a favour from him; never by my own consent
received one! Not all the tortures of all the tyrants the earth ever
beheld should have extorted a consent so degrading! His repeated
interference was but a repetition of insult, and as such deserves only
to be remembered. I asked not life at his hands; and giving life,
instead of a blessing, he did but give torture! The gift was detestable
and the giver! Had I perished, he might have been safe and I at rest. I
asked not charity of him. No! On any Terms I abhor existence; bur on
those, darkness and hell are not so hateful! It has ulcerated my heart,
which not even vengeance itself I find has now the power to heal. For
life I am made miserable; but it shall not be a single misery!

While the keeper was acting his part of this gloomy drama, Mac Fane, as
you may well imagine, was not idle. He and his unhallowed scoundrels
presently made seizure of the lovely Anna. She stood confused and half
terrified at the sudden flight of her enamorato! She was more confused,
more terrified at the sudden appearance of her ravishers! I charged the
scoundrels on their lives to use her tenderly! But what know such
hell-hounds of tenderness?

She made I find a brave and by them unexpected resistance: but there
were too many of them, and it was in vain! Mac Fane himself is amazed
at her beauty; and harangues in his coarse and uncouth jargon on the
energy and dignity of her deportment, in a manner which shews that even
he was awed.

They were obliged however forcibly to stop her cries. This I imagined
would be the case, and I had provided them with a white cambric
handkerchief. But what will not the touch of such unconsecrated rascals
defile?

Yes, Fairfax, they laid their prophane hands on her, clasped her in
their loathsome arms, polluted her with their foul fingers! The embrace
of a Clifton she might perhaps pardon; but this violation she never
can!

Well then, let her add this injury to the rest! I know her to be my
enemy; sworn, rooted, and irrevocable! And why should I tag regret to
my sum of wretchedness? No! I will at least enjoy a moment of triumph,
however transitory! Let her despise me, but she shall remember me too!

Give me but this brief bliss, and there I would wish existence to end!
That excepted, pleasure there is none for me; and of pain I am weary.
Yes! I will glut my soul with this solitary, short rapture; and contemn
the storms that may succeed! I fear them not, shall glory in them, and
be glad to find foes, if such should arise, with whom contention will
not be disgrace! I wish and seek them. Their appearance would give me
employment, and employment would give me ease, and ease would be
heaven!

C. CLIFTON

LETTER CXIII

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_London, Dover-Street_

Alarm has sounded her horn. The family is all confusion, all doubt,
hurry, fruitless enquiry, and indecision. The absence of Anna and
Henley at dinner threw Mrs. Clarke into consternation; for Sir Arthur
is down at Wenbourne-Hill, with old Henley and his son Edward. Each is
indulging his dreams of improvement, marriage, docking of entails, and
other projects, to which I have put an eternal stop.

Finding the evening advance, and that the two prisoners did not appear,
the housekeeper sent to the aunt, Wenbourne. She heard the story and
was amazed. She knew nothing of them.

Ten o'clock came, and terror increased. A messenger was dispatched to
Lord Fitz-Allen; and he could not at first tell whether to be sorry or
glad, for he did not an instant forget to hope that it was some
rascally act on the part of Henley.

He sent for the housekeeper. She came, and he interrogated her. The
answers she gave did not please him, for the tendency of all his
questions was to the disadvantage and crimination of Henley, whom she
pertinaciously defended. She affirmed so positively, and so violently,
that it could not be any plan or evil intention of his, that the proud
lord was half angry but half obliged to doubt.

I took care to be in the way, expecting as it happened that a message
would be sent to me. I immediately attended his lordship, and learned
all that I have been relating. I condoled with him, and pretended to
pity the family; not neglecting to lead his thoughts into the channel
that would best serve my purpose, and to recapitulate every
circumstance I could remember, or invent, that should induce him to
believe Henley and Anna had eloped; but affecting candour, and
pretending to argue against the possibility of such a supposition.

The effect I intended was produced. He was fully convinced of Henley's
being a low, selfish, contemptible scoundrel; and Anna a forward,
disobedient, insolent miss.

I offered my services to pursue them, and pressed his acceptance of
them violently; but was careful to counteract the offer, by shewing the
impossibility of their being overtaken, and by exciting him rather to
wish for their escape, that Anna might be flagrantly disgraced, and his
penetration and authority vindicated to the whole world.

I did not neglect, before the departure of Mrs. Clarke, to display all
my eagerness, by sending round to numerous inns and stable-keepers, to
enquire whether any post-chaise had been hired, that should any way
accord with the circumstances. Other messengers were dispatched, by my
advice, to the different turnpikes; and a third set sent off to various
watch-houses, to enquire whether any intelligence could be obtained of
accidental deaths, or other mischances.

In short, I was very diligent to hurry the legs of the servants and the
brains of their governors into every direction, but the right; and thus
for a little while in some sort diverted myself, with the vagaries of
the fools upon whom I was playing. One chop-fallen runner trod upon the
heels of another, each with a repetition of his diversified nothings;
till his lordship thought proper to recollect it was time for his
dignity to retire, and not further disturb itself on personages and
circumstances so derogatory.

In the morning I was careful to be with him again. I breakfasted with
him, and reiterated the same string of doubts, conjectures, alarms, and
insinuations.

Mrs. Clarke returned. She had been up all night, and her looks
testified the distress of her mind. She proposed sending an express
after Sir Arthur; of the propriety of which I endeavoured to make the
uncle doubt; but she was too zealous, and her oratory had too much
passion, to be counteracted without danger. I therefore, when I saw
resistance vain, became the most eager adviser of the measure.

There is no merit in imposing upon stupidity so gross as that of this
supercilious blockhead. Mrs. Clarke would be much more to be feared,
but that what she may say will be much less regarded. Her affection for
Anna is extreme, and a high proof of the excellent qualities of her
mistress.

Nor was she one whit less enthusiastic in her praise of Henley.
Notwithstanding the forbidding frowns and reproofs of his lordship, she
ran over his whole history; and dwelt particularly on an act of
benevolence done by him to her niece; that being a circumstance that
had come immediately within her knowledge. She spoke with such a
fervour and overflow of heart that she once or twice moved me.

She perceived something of the ridiculous compunction I felt, and fell
on her knees, wrung my hand, and adjured me, in a tone of very
extraordinary emphasis, to save her dear her precious young lady. I
scarcely could recover myself sufficiently to ask her which way it was
in my power to save her; and to turn the conversation, by exclaiming to
the peer--'Ah! Had she but allowed me the happiness and honour of being
her protector, I think no man would have dared to do her harm.'

The old housekeeper however continued, and began to denounce impending
and inevitable evil on the persecutors of Henley and Anna. I have no
doubt she glanced at me, and that her mistress had informed her of the
triumph gained over me. Why ay! I should indeed have been the scoff of
the very rabble, had I not taken vengeance for my wrongs!

Yet her denunciations seemed prophetic: or rather were feeble
descriptions of the excruciating pangs by which I am hourly gnawn!

I grew weary of the dull farce, and put an end to it as speedily as I
conveniently could; leaving his sage lordship with the full conviction
that the sudden disappearance of Henley, and his niece, could no
otherwise be accounted for but by wilful elopement.

I am now preparing for a very different visit. A visit of vengeance! I
expect no pleasure, no gratification but that alone! To prove the
danger of injury done to me, to punish the perpetrators, to exult at
their lamentations, and to look down with contempt at all menace, or
retribution, is now my last remaining hope! Let me but enjoy this and
all other expectation I willingly relinquish!--I am going--I have them
in my grasp!--They shall feel me now!

C. CLIFTON

LETTER CXIV

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

Where I am, what is to become of me, or whether I am ever to see my
Louisa more, are things of which I am utterly ignorant. I write not
with an expectation that my friend should read, but to memorandum
events of which perhaps the world will never hear; and which, should
this paper by any accident be preserved, it will scarcely believe.

This vile Clifton--[Surely I ought never again to call him my Louisa's
brother]--This perverse man has grown desperate in error! The worst of
my forebodings have not equalled his intents! His plan has long been
mischief! Hypocrisy, violence, rape, no means are too foul!--Such
things are incomprehensible!

I am confined in a lone house, somewhere behind Knightsbridge. I was
seized I know not how by a band of ruffians, and conveyed hither. Every
kind of despicable deceit appears to have been practised. Frank was
decoyed from me. He flew once again to save the life, as he thought, of
this base minded man. I know not what is become of him, but have no
doubt that he like me is somewhere suffering imprisonment, if he be
permitted yet to live.

No thoughts are so tragical, no suspicions so horrid as not to be
justified, by deductions and appearances which are but too probable.
Yet I will not sink under difficulties, nor be appalled at the sight of
danger; be it death, or what else it may. That I am in a state of
jeopardy my seizure and imprisonment prove. That Frank is still in
greater peril, if still in existence, I have just cause to conclude.
There were pistols fired, and one after he leaped the hedge; I know not
at whom directed, nor what its fate!--I would if possible ward off
apprehension. I know it to be folly, and I will endeavour to steel my
heart against this as well as other mistakes. If he be dead, or if he
be to die, grief will not revive or make him invulnerable. His own
virtue must preserve him, or nothing can; and in that I will confide.

That evil is meant to me it would be absurd to doubt; but of what
nature, where it is to begin, or where end, that time must disclose.
For I will not permit myself to imagine the trifling indignities, or
violence I have hitherto encountered, an evil worthy of complaint.

'Tis true my arms are bruised, and I was rudely dealt with by the vile
men who seized me: and that there should be such men is an evil. But to
me it is none; or not worth a thought. If I would firmly meet what is
to come, I must not weakly bewail what is past.

I am not immortal, neither is my strength infinite; but the powers I
have I will use. We are oftener vanquished because we are fearful than
because we are feeble. Our debility takes birth in our cowardice, and
true fortitude is not to be abashed by trifling dangers.

I meant to write a narrative, but these reflections are forced upon me
by my situation. I will proceed.

I was brought here, on Friday--, by several men of vulgar but ferocious
countenances; and my maid Laura with me. I made all the resistance in
my power; and the men, without any regard to what I suffered in body or
mind, twisted my arms behind me, so that I imagined one of them had
been dislocated, and forced a handkerchief into my mouth; handling,
tossing, and gripping me, without any respect whatever to decency or
pain, till they had conveyed me from the fields, in which I was walking
with Frank Henley, to the place where I am.

I scarcely can guess at the distance; but they hurried me away with
great violence, crossing several gates, and forcing apertures through
hedges, for the space I believe of not more than half an hour: it might
be much less.

They brought me to a house walled round; into which having been
admitted by an old woman, they hurried me forward up stairs, and shut
me into a room decently furnished, with a fire in it and a bed-chamber
adjoining; but with the windows barred up, and in which every
precaution had evidently been taken to render escape impracticable.

Laura was shut up with me; and there was a slip of paper on the table,
on which was written--'Laura is allowed to fetch whatever you may want.
Let her ring the bell, and the door will be opened.'--The hand-writing
was Mr. Clifton's.

Among other necessaries, there was a book-case, furnished with the
works of some of the best authors; and a writing-desk, with pens, ink,
and paper.

The same old woman that opened the gate for the men, who brought me,
constantly comes to open the door for Laura, when I ring. But this
she does with great caution. A chain, similar to what is common for
street-doors, is hung on the outside; which she puts up, and looks to
see that I am not near, every time she opens the door. The first time
she came I stood just behind Laura, and in a morose tone she bade me
go back, or she would lock the door again.

After Laura had been several times down stairs, I enquired what
discoveries she had made; and, as she informs me, the house appears to
have no inhabitants but this old woman and ourselves. The old woman
resides in the kitchen. The doors and windows are all secured; and the
same care is taken to prevent escape below stairs as above.

The food that has been brought us was good, and well dressed, but
almost cold. Laura says she is sure it cannot be dressed in the house,
which is most probable.

I communicate but few of my thoughts to Laura, because I fear I have
good reason to be suspicious of her. I have long remarked her
partiality in favour of Mr. Clifton, intermixed with some contradictory
appearances, which I could not solve at the time, but which I now
believe to have been aukward attempts to conceal that partiality, and
to mislead me; which she in part effected.

The base designs of Mr. Clifton, from the nature of them, cannot have
been very recent; and nothing perhaps was more necessary, to carry them
into execution, than the seducing of the woman who by her situation
could give him the best intelligence.

Since I have begun to doubt her, I have purposely cross-questioned her
occasionally, and she has answered with hesitation and incoherency. If
however I can perceive the least hope that this letter should be
conveyed to the post-office, by any person who may visit the house, and
whom she may see but I cannot, I will trust it to her. The trust indeed
is nothing, for it cannot increase my peril. The persecution of Mr.
Clifton must prove most pernicious to himself. Unless he can deprive me
of conscious innocence, it can injure me but little.

Among other ambiguous circumstances respecting Laura, she scarcely
seems to repine at her confinement: though she has several times
affected uneasiness, which while she acted it she evidently did not
feel. Beside she is permitted to stay below, and run about the house;
which, whatever caution of bars and bolts may have been used, she would
not be suffered to do, as I should suppose, were she really in my
interest.

About an hour ago we heard the yard bell ring and the gate open, and
she was eager to go down. I encouraged her, and she rung for our
turnkey. She had seen me writing, and, without being spoken to, took
upon her to suppose it was a letter to my Louisa, and told me she _did
believe_ she could get it conveyed to the post. I am persuaded this is
preconcerted officiousness. But as I said, I have nothing to lose, and
there is a bare possibility of hope.

When she came up stairs again, she told me that the person who had rung
at the bell was some man of the neighbourhood, who had brought the old
woman various trifling articles, and whom she had ordered to return at
five o'clock, with tea and sugar.

If contrary to all expectation this should come to hand, Louisa, write
to my father; inform him of all you know: and especially write to Mr.
Clifton. It will be ineffectual, but write. If there be truth in woman,
I would rejoice to suffer much more mischief than he has the power to
inflict, could I but by that means restore him to a sense of his own
worth; or rather of the worth of virtue!

Why do I talk of mischief, and his power to inflict? I hope to shew
him he has no power over me; and that the strength of men, and the
force of walls, locks, and bars are feeble, when but resolutely
opposed by the force of truth, actuating the will of weak and despised
woman!--Injury?--Poor depraved, mistaken man! It is himself he injures!
Every effort he makes is but a new assault upon his own peace! It is
heaping coals of fire upon his own head; which it has long been the
wish of my heart to extinguish!

Had I but any reason to believe Frank Henley in safety, I would not
suffer a single sigh to escape me. But I know too well Mr. Clifton dare
not permit him to be at liberty, while he keeps me confined. Surely
nothing can be attempted against his life? And yet I sometimes shake
with horror! There is a reason which I know not whether I dare mention;
yet if Mr. Clifton should think proper to lay snares to intercept and
read my letters, he ought to be informed of this dangerous
circumstance. I know not, Louisa, whether I am addressing myself to you
or him; but Frank Henley at the time that I was seized, and he likewise
as I suppose, had bank-bills in his possession to the amount of eight
thousand pounds!

He had been that very morning into the city, to receive the money on
his father's account; and intended as we returned to leave them with
Sir Arthur's banker.

If men such as those who seized on me were employed for the same
violent purpose against him, and if they should discover a sum which
would to them be so tempting, who can say that his life would be safe?
Frank Henley, the preserver of Clifton, the preceptor of truth, and the
friend of man; the benevolent, magnanimous, noble-minded Frank, whose
actions were uniform in goodness, whose heart was all affection, and
whose soul all light--and murdered!

Why do I indulge a thought so unhuman, so impossible? It could not
be!--No, no; it could not be! A supposition so extravagant is
guilt--Yet though I who cannot aid him ought not to encourage such
doubts, let those who can be warned, and be active!

I am addressing myself to vacancy! No one hears me! No one will read
what I write!

I will be calm. It is my situation, it is confinement, the bars I see
and the bolts I hear that inspire these gloomy thoughts. They are
unfounded, and certainly unavailing--He may have escaped! He may at
this instant be in search of me! Hurrying, enquiring, despairing, and
distracted; in much deeper distress than I am: for were I but sure of
his safety, I could almost defy misfortune! Let not the world lose him!
Oh! If any human creature should in time read this, let him hear, let
him shudder, let him beware!

Pardon, Louisa! I do not address myself to you! Too well I know my
friend to doubt her! No cold delay, no unfeeling negligence, no rash
phrensy is to be feared from her!--Alas! What I am writing she will
never read! It cannot be! The man I have to encounter is too practised
in deceit, or I should not have been where I am!

Well then, may he himself read! And while he reads, thus let his
conscience speak--'There is a man whose worth and virtues are such,
that the loss of him would be a loss to the whole human race. From this
man I received a thousand acts of kindness: for which I returned ten
thousand insults. I repulsed him, scorned him, struck him; and he,
disregarding the innumerable injuries I had done him, but a few hours
after plunged headlong down the dreadful abyss, to snatch me from the
grave. I was dead and he gave me life. In return I have robbed him of
what men prize even more than life, of liberty. But if I have put him
in jeopardy, if I suffer him to remain in the power of hardened and
wicked men, and if he perish, mercy cannot pardon me, justice cannot
punish, and charity itself must hold me in abhorrence.'

A. W. ST. IVES

LETTER CXV

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_London, Dover-Street_

My actions are now become one continued chain of artifice. But were
that all, and were not the objects of this artifice of a nature so new
and so painful, it would afford me amusement, and not be any cause of
vexation.

As it is I feel apprehensions which are wholly different from any I
ever felt before. To deceive in countries where deception is a pastime,
authorised, practised, and applauded, is I find something very opposite
to what would seem the same thing, in this gloomy land of apathy and
phlegm. There it is a sport and a pleasure. Here it is a business of
serious danger and general detestation. But no matter!

I am obliged to watch times and seasons, for I have little doubt that I
myself am watched. That old housekeeper I am sure suspects me; and her
affection for her mistress is so full, so restless, that it cannot but
sharpen her intellects, and make her employ every engine she can
imagine for discovery. I walked up to Fozard's as I often do for my
horse, and I saw one of Sir Arthur's servants pass the yard, soon after
I entered it. I have little doubt but he was dogging me.

I got on horseback and rode slowly down toward Pimlico, and over
Westminster bridge, but I saw no more of him.

As soon as I was out of town I mended my pace, and gradually increased
it to a full gallop. Passing through Vauxhall, I crossed the Thames
again at Battersea-bridge, rode through Chelsea, and presently gained
the Brompton road.

My first visit was to the keeper. The fellow has a strange look! A
villainous physiognomy! I enquired after his prisoner and found he was
safe. The house is well secured; not modern, but in the style of the
last century; strong and heavy, and before this affair was thought of
had been fitted up for the purposes of confinement, but is now still
better fortified. It has a garden, which is surrounded by a high wall,
in which the prisoner is suffered to exercise himself; but not without
the very necessary precaution of confining his arms in the strait
waistcoat, securing the doors, and attentively watching his motions.

I ordered the fellow to see that Henley wanted for nothing, to let a
boy he has wait upon him, and to keep out of his way himself, for two
reasons of my own. I do not wish Henley to suffer the insults of such a
vulgar and narrow-souled rascal: my revenge is of a nobler kind.
Neither am I quite certain that this keeper, hardened, obdurate, and
pitiless as he is, could withstand Henley's oratory. At least I would
not willingly have him subjected to the temptation: though the fellow
is so averse to any sense of human pity that I think the danger is very
small.

He was offended however at my thinking proper to direct him, and
surlily told me he understood his trade.

Here I met Mac Fane, by appointment. He cannot forget the disgrace of
Covent-garden, and spoke of Henley with a degree of malignity that
would want but little encouraging to become dangerous. I am to pay him
the thousand pounds in a few days, and our place of rendezvous is then
to be once more at the Shakespeare.

I was glad to escape from the company of these new inmates' of mine,
these first-born of Beelzebub, and to fly to my other prisoner. I say
fly, for I set out with eagerness enough; but every step I took I felt
my ardour abate. The houses are more than half a mile apart, and I
thought proper to go thither on foot, and not to take any common path,
but to cross the fields, as the securest mode.

Laura knew I was to be there, and had her tale ready. She presently
came down. I enquired after her mistress, and if her account be true,
this heroic woman has not shed a tear, but has behaved with all her
apparent customary calm. She is a divine creature!

As I rode along, I made a thousand determinations that all should be
that day ended. I cursed myself, pledged my honour, used every method
which might have shewn me how much I doubted my own resolution, to
prove to myself how irrevocably determined I was! The little remaining
firmness I had left wholly died away at the relation of Laura.

I must stay till the calm dignity of her mind shall begin to decline.
The nature of her confinement, the fears she cannot but have for her
Henley, the recollection of her friends and father, and her
apprehensions of me must all quickly contribute to produce this effect.
I do not pretend to deny that I feel a reluctance to a first interview:
but I am determined the first shall be the only one. I know myself, and
know when once I am heated it will not then be Anna St. Ives, a miracle
though she be, that can over-awe or conquer me. I have the stubbornness
of woman, and the strength of man. I am reckless of what is to follow,
but the thing shall be! There is not a particle in my frame that does
not stand pledged to the deed, by honour and oath! It is the only event
for which I care, or for which I live.

Nor shall I live long when once it is over. I foresee I shall not. But
that is not a painful, no, it is a satisfactory thought! I would even
present her the pistol, would she but dispatch me the moment my revenge
is gratified. I would then sleep, and forget all that is, and all that
might have been.

She has been writing. I knew it would be one source of amusement to
her, and I provided her with implements. Laura asked and she owned it
was a letter to my sister, which she could wish were sent. But that
must not be. She means to give it to Laura; I of course shall be the
next receiver.

This girl, Laura, acts her part ill. She is not half sorrowful enough.
I wonder Anna does not remark it; and Laura says she does not, though
that is no very good proof. The complexion of her letter I think will
tell me how far she does or does not confide in her maid. I know she
holds suspicion in contempt; and yet I think my high opinion of her
discrimination would find some abatement, were I certain that she did
not suspect this shallow girl.

My soul burns to have it over! And yet like a coward I refrain. But I
will not long submit to such contemptible qualms. I will not continue
to be diffident of myself; for it is that only by which I am withheld.
Not a single wrong is forgotten! I repeat them in my sleep! Ay,
Fairfax, such sleep as I have is nothing but a repetition of them; and
a rehearsal of the revenge by which they are to be appeased! I will
return tomorrow, or perhaps next day; and then--! You shall then hear
more from,

C. CLIFTON

END OF VOLUME VI

VOLUME VII

LETTER CXVI

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_London, Dover Street_

Sir Arthur arrived in town this morning. He brought the usurer Henley
up with him in the same carriage.

Young St. Ives set out before them, and was in London last night. He
drove directly to my lodgings, and I was fortunately at home. This did
not look as if I were in the secret; and if he had any suspicions he
had not the courage to intimate them.

I condoled with him, said it was a strange affair, a riddle I could not
read, a mystery which time must elucidate, for it baffled all
conjecture. He did little more than echo me, and I pretended I would
have ridden half over the world to recover his sister, had there been
but the least clue; but there was not, and I found myself obliged to
sit still in despair and astonishment.

He said it was all very true, and he was very tired. He should
therefore drive home, get some refreshment, and go to bed. This fellow,
Fairfax, walks on two legs, looks the world in the face, and counts for
one on the muster-roll. 'But nature, crescent in him, grew only in
thews and bulk.' Yet on the parade, fools and gapers will mistake him
for a man.

Contention with Anna St. Ives is honourable, but to seem to shrink from
beings like these, or to practise concealment with such mere images of
entity, is repugnant to the generous scorn they merit and inspire.
Imperious necessity however prescribes law, and I took care to prevent
Sir Arthur's visit to me, by having notice sent me of his arrival, and
immediately going to the encounter.

To anticipate is to overturn the card-castles of this puny race. Come
upon them unexpectedly, stare at them undauntedly, and interrogate them
abruptly, and they are put to the rout. Their looks even intreat pardon
for the ill they thought, but durst not utter.

Sir Arthur I own beheld me with a suspicious eye; and though he
endeavoured to seem to credit me, he did it with an aukward air.

Mrs. Clarke hearing I was there came in, and exceeding even all her
former fervour, importuned me, in the most direct and vehement manner,
to tell what I had done with Mr. Henley and her dear young lady. She
more than ever disconcerted me. Her exuberant passion addressed itself
alternately to me and her master. Her tears as well as her words were
abundant, her urgency and ardour extreme, and she ended her apostrophe
with again conjuring me to tell what was become of her dear, dear young
lady!

'Ay, pray, pray do'--whimpered the baronet in a maudlin tone, moved by
the unfeigned passion of his housekeeper. I gave him a look, and the
driveller added--'if you know.'

I was glad of a pretence to get away, and after telling him the
distress of his mind was the only apology for his conduct, I instantly
quitted him, without any effort on his part to detain me.

Among other things, Mrs. Clarke repeatedly reproached herself for not
having written or sent to my sister; and the knight acknowledged--'Ay,
it was very neglectful! But his mind had been so disturbed that he had
forgotten it too!'

Why do I misapply my time on beings so imbecile? Maugre all my resolves
I have not seen her yet, Fairfax! Nor have I opened her letter! I dare
not. Her Henley I am sure is in it, and additional rage would be
indubitable madness! Neither is this the thing most to be feared. She
has an expanded heart, a capacious a benevolent heart, and she may have
said something which were I to see, and yet do the deed which shall be
done, it might shew me more fiend-like than even the foul reflection of
my present thoughts. Perturbation has done its work; it needs no
increase. This quality of benevolence, in which they both glory, is
torture to recollect. I say, Fairfax, I never asked their charity. Did
I not spurn it from me, the moment I was insulted by the offer? Be pity
bestowed on beggars: the partiality that springs from affection, or the
punishment due to neglect for me!

I will be with her speedily, Fairfax! Though I linger, I do not relent.
Such mercy as the being out of doubt can bestow she shall receive; the
pleading world should not wring a greater from me!

C. CLIFTON

P.S. I must be speedy: my sister will hear of the affair by tomorrow's
post, and I shall have her whole artillery playing upon me; and in the
form of letters I suppose; for I do not think she will hope any thing
from personal interview; I made her too sensibly feel her own
insignificance when last we met. I expected indeed an attack from her
much sooner, for the young lady does not want confidence in her own
skill and courage: she is of the Henley school. However I do not intend
to peruse any of her epistles. I would send them back unopened, but
that it would be an avowal of a knowledge of their contents; and I have
no need to increase suspicion, whose broad eyes are already glaring at
me. But I will immediately put an end to the witch, and engender black
certainty in her stead! The imp shall appear, and shake horrors from
her snaky hair!

LETTER CXVII

_Anna Wenbourne St. Ives to Louisa Clifton_

_The Lone House_

Once more, though but in imagination, let me converse with my friend. I
know it is delusion, but it was the sweet custom of our souls, and well
may be indulged. Ignorant perhaps of the cause, my Louisa is at this
moment accusing me of a neglect which my heart disavows. Let me as
usual give her the history of that heart: it is a theme from which she
has taught me to derive profit.

This is the fifth day of my confinement. I have the same walls, the
same windows and bars to contemplate; and the same bolting, and
locking, and clanking to hear. It is with difficulty that I can at some
few intervals divert my thoughts from the gloom which my own situation,
the distress of my family, and the danger of a youth so dear to virtue
contribute to inspire.

Nor do I know what at this moment may be the affliction of my friend.
Should she have heard, she cannot but discover the principal agent of
this dark plot; and exquisite indeed would be the anguish of her mind,
could she forget that fortitude and resignation are duties. May they
never be forgotten by me, during this my hour of trial!

My shoulder I fear has received some strain or hurt: the pain of it
continues to be great, and the inflammation is not abated. The bruises
on my arms have increased in blackness, and their tension is not in the
least diminished. The hands of those bad men must have been as rough
and callous as their hearts: they had no mercy in their gripe.

There is a lonesome stillness in this house, that favours the dismal
reveries which my situation suggests. If my handkerchief do but drop I
start; and the stirring of a mouse places Clifton full before me. Yet I
repel this weakness with all my force. I despise it. Nor shall these
crude visions, the hideous phantoms of the imagination, subdue that
fortitude in which I must wholly confide.

For these last two days, Laura has pretended to grieve at confinement:
but it is mimic sorrow; words of which the heart has no knowledge. She
perceives I suspect her, and her acting is but the more easily
detected.

I know not whether it be not my duty to determine to exclude her;
though that seems like cowardice. I think it is not in her power to
harm me; and for telling, if she have been false, she has done her
worst. I never made a practice of concealment, neither will I now have
recourse to such a fallacious expedient. Yet she sleeps in the same
chamber with me; and ought I not to beware of inspiring perfidy with
projects? 'Tis true my slumbers are broken, my nights restless, and the
cracking of the wainscot is as effectual in waking me as a thunder-clap
could be. I am resolved, however, to take the key out of the door, and
either hide it or hold it all night in my hand. Mischief is meant me,
or why am I here?

I am continually looking into the closets, behind the doors, and under
the beds and drawers. I am haunted by the supposition that I shall
every moment see this bad man start up before me! What know I of the
base engines he may employ, or the wicked arts to which he may have
recourse?

But he shall not subdue me! He may disturb me by day, and terrify me by
night; but he shall not subdue me! Shall the pure mind shake in the
presence of evil? Shall the fortitude which safety feels vanish at the
approach of danger?

Louisa, I will steel my soul to meet him! I know not how or when he
will come! I cannot tell what are the vile black instruments with which
he may work! Sleep I scarcely have any. I eat with hesitation, and
drink with trembling. I have heard of potions and base practices, that
make the heart shudder! Yet I sometimes think I could resist even
these. He shall not subdue me! Or if he do, it shall be by treachery
such as fiends would demur to perpetrate.

Why do I think thus of him? Surely, surely, he cannot be so lost as
this! Yet here I am! I own I tremble and recoil; but it is with the
dread that he should plunge himself so deep in guilt as never more to
rise!

Poor Frank! Where art thou? How are thy wretched thoughts employed? Or
art thou still allowed to think? Art thou among the living? If thou
art, what is thy state! Thine is now the misery of impotence, thou who
hast proved thyself so mighty in act! Thou wouldst not strike, thou
wouldst not injure; and yet thy foe would sink before thee, had he not
allied himself to perfidy, and had he but left thee free. His most
secret machinations could not have withstood thy searching spirit. Thou
wouldst have been here! These bolts would have flown, these doors would
have opened, and I should have seen my saviour!

He hears me not! Nor thou, Louisa! I am destitute of human aid!

Farewell, farewell! Ah! Farewell indeed; for I am talking to emptiness
and air!

Do I seem to speak with bitterness of heart? Is there enmity in my
words?--Surely I do not feel it! The spirit of benevolence and truth
allows, nay commands me to hate the vice; but not its poor misgoverned
agents. They are wandering in the maze of mistake. Ignorance and
passion are their guides, and doubt and desperation their tormentors.
Alas! Rancour and revenge are their inmates; be kindness and charity
mine.

A. W. ST. IVES

LETTER CXVIII

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_Brompton-House_

I am here--At the scene of action--she is in the room above me, and I
am ridding myself of reluctance; stringing my nerves for assault. I
know not why this should be necessary, but I feel that it is!

I am waiting to question Laura; but I ordered her to be in no haste to
come down, when she heard me ring. I would not have my victim suspect
me to be here. I would come upon her by surprise, and not when she was
armed and prepared for repulse. I will order the old woman to go
presently and open and shut the gate; as if she were letting the person
out, who came in when I rung.

I expect, nay am certain, her resistance will be obstinate--But
unavailing!--I say unavailing!--Neither house nor road are near, and
yet I could wish the scene were removed to the dark gloom of a forest;
embosomed where none but tigers or hyenas should listen to her
shrieks--I know they will be piercing;--Heart-rending!--But--!

I tell you, Fairfax, I have banished all sense of human pity from my
bosom: it is an enemy to my purpose, and that must be!--Though the
heavens should shake and the earth open, it must!

Yet do not think, Fairfax, bent as I am on the full fruition of love
and vengeance, I would use cruelty--Understand me: I mean wanton or
unnecessary brutality. I will be as forbearing as she will permit. I
fear she will not suffer me to caress her tenderly--But she shall never
sleep in the arms of Henley!--She never shall!--I will make sure of
that! My mind is reconciled to all chances, that excepted.

As I passed, I called at the mad-house; where I found Mac Fane and the
scowling keeper in high divan. They have been horribly alarmed. Henley
has attempted an escape, which he was in danger of effecting; but he is
brought back, after having led them a short chase.

The apprehensions of these scoundrels concerning future consequences
are very great, and swell almost to terror. They talked strangely,
asked which way we were to get rid of him at last, and conceive him to
be a dangerous enemy. Their thoughts seem tinged with dark lurkings,
which they dare not own; and certainly dare not act, without my leave.
These fellows are all villainy! A league with demons would be less
abominable!--I must close the account, and shake off such pestilential
scoundrels!--

Laura comes! I will question her a little, and then--!

_Dover-Street_

I am returned, and am still tormented by delay!--I cannot help it--I
said I would not use wilful cruelty: that were to heap unnecessary
damnation!

Laura began by softening my heart with her narrative. Her angel
mistress is all resignation, all kindness, all benevolence! She almost
forgets herself, and laments only for me! This I could have withstood;
but she has been brutally treated, by that intolerable ban dog, Mac
Fane, and his blood hounds. Fairfax, how often have I gazed in rapture
at the beauteous carnation of her complexion, the whiteness of her
hands and arms, and the extreme delicacy of their texture! And now
those tempting arms, Laura tells me, nay, her legs too, are in twenty
places disfigured and black, with the gripes and bruises she received.
Gibbets and racks overtake the wolf-hearted villains! Her shoulder is
considerably hurt! It is inflamed, and, as she acknowledges, very
painful; yet she does not utter a complaint!

Why did this heroic woman ever injure me? By what fatal influence am I
become her foe? Her gentle kindness, her calm, unruffled, yet dignified
patience I have experienced--Madman!--Idiot!--Have I not experienced
her hatred too, her abhorrence? Did not her own lips pronounce the
sentence? And do I not know her? Will she recede? And shall
I?--Never!--Never!--No no--It must be.

But I did rightly. This was not the moment. There would have been
something barbarously mean, in making her exert the little strength she
has with such pain and peril.

I rode to Kensington and procured her a lenitive, with which I
returned. The purpose of vengeance excepted, I would feel as generously
as herself; and even vengeance, did I know how, I would dignify--But do
not surmise that I would retract!--No, by heaven! A thought so weak has
never once entered my heart!

I am restless, and must return--Till it be over, earth has no pleasure
for me; and after I am sure it will have none. No--No--I have but this
single gleam of satisfaction! The light is going out; give me but one
full blaze, and I shall then welcome total darkness!

C. CLIFTON

LETTER CXIX

_Coke Clifton to Guy Fairfax_

_London, Dover-Street_

For a few days after having secured my tormentors, I enjoyed something
like comparative ease: but the ugly imps that haunted me, in fiercer
crowds again are swarming round me. I am too miserable to exist in this
state; it must be ended. It is a turmoil that surpasses mortal
sufferance! If she will wrestle against fate, it is not my fault. I
have no wish to practise more upon her than is necessary. But the thing
must be.

Sleep I have none, rest I have none, peace I have none. I get up and
sit down, walk out and come back, mutter imprecations unconsciously to
myself, and turn the eyes of insolent curiosity and ridiculous
apprehension upon me in the street. A fellow has just now watched me
home; deeming me a lunatic I suppose; for he had seen my agitation, and
heard the curses which I knew not were uttered aloud, till his
impertinent observation of me brought it to my recollection.

But this shall not be! It shall end! Though I rend her heart-strings
for it, I will have ease! The evening approaches; my horse is ordered
and I will be gone. I will not, cannot endure this longer!

_Brompton-House_

I am here, and have talked with Laura. She owns she is suspected, and
that her mistress takes the key out of the bed-chamber door, when they
go to rest, and hides it: Laura by accident has discovered where. She
puts it on the ledge behind the head of her bed, but within the reach
of her arm.

This has suggested a thought: I will wait here till midnight and sleep
have lulled her apprehensions. It will be better than facing her in the
glare of day. Her eye, Fairfax, is terrible in her anger. It is too
steady, too strong in conscious innocence to encounter. Darkness will
give me courage, and her terror and despair. For it must come to that!
It cannot otherwise be; and be it must! In the blaze of noon, when
fortitude is awake and the heart beating high perhaps with resentment,
nothing but the goadings of despair could make me face her. The words
she would use would be terrible, but her looks would petrify!--By this
stratagem I shall avoid them.

Nor do I blush to own my cowardice, in the presence of Anna St. Ives:
she being armed with innocence and self-approbation; and I abashed by
conscious guilt, violence, and intentional destruction.

Why aye!--Let the thick swarth of night cover us! I feel, with a kind
of horrid satisfaction, the deep damnation of the deed! It is the very
colour and kind of sin that becomes me; sinning as I do against Anna
St. Ives! With any other it would be boy's sport; a thing to make a
jest of after dinner; but with her it is rape, in all its wildest
contortions, shrieks, and expiring groans!

I lie stretched on burning embers, and I have hours yet to wait. Oh
that I were an idiot!--The night is one dead, dun gloom! It looks as if
murrain, mildew, and contagion were abroad, hovering over earth and
brooding plagues. I will walk out awhile, among them--Will try to meet
them--Would that my disturbed imagination could but conjure up goblins,
sheeted ghosts, heads wanting bodies, and hands dropping blood, and
realize the legends of ignorance and infancy, so that I could freeze
memory and forget the horrors by which I am haunted!

It draws near midnight--I am now in her apartment, the room next to her
bed-chamber.

My orders have been obeyed: the old woman, pretending to lock up her
prisoner, shot back the bolts, put down the chain, and left the door
ready for me to enter unheard.

Laura has her instructions. She is to pretend only, but not really, to
undress herself; and I bade her not lie down, lest she should drop
asleep. When she thinks it time, she is to glide round, steal the key,
and open the door.

I am fully prepared; am undressed, and ready for the combat. I have
made a mighty sacrifice! Youth, fortune, fame, all blasted; life
renounced, and infamy ascertained! It is but just then that I should
have full enjoyment of the fleeting bliss.

Surely this hussy sleeps? No!--I hear her stir!--She is at the door!
And now--!

Heaven and hell are leagued against me, to frustrate my success! Yet
succeed I will in their despite--'Tis now broad day, and here I am, in
the same chamber, encountered, reproved, scorned, frantic, and
defeated!

As soon as I heard Laura with the key in the door, I put out the
candles. She turned the lock, the door opened, and I sprang forward.
Blundering idiot as I was! I had forgotten to remove a chair, and
tumbled over it. The terrified Anna was up and out of bed in an
instant. The door opens inward to the bed-chamber. Her fear gave her
strength; she threw Laura away, and clapped to the door.

By this time I had risen, and was at it. I set my shoulder to it with a
sudden effort, and again it half opened. I pushed forward, but was
repelled with more than equal opposition. My left arm in the struggle
got wedged in the door: the pain was excessive, and the strength with
which she resisted me incredible. By a sudden shock I released my hand,
but not without bruising it very much, and tearing away the skin.

My last effort was returned by one more than equal on her part. But I
imagine she had set her foot against something which gave way, for she
suddenly came down, with a blow and a sound that made my heart shrink!

Still I endeavoured to profit by it, though not soon enough; for the
first moment I was too much alarmed. She could not feel pain or blows,
and rose instantaneously. I forced the door some little way, and she
then gave a single shriek!--It was a dreadful one--and was followed
by a repulse which I could not overcome. The door was closed, and
like lightning locked. I then heard her begin to pant and heave for
breath--After a few seconds she exclaimed--Clifton! You are a bad
man!... A treacherous, wicked man, and are seeking your own
destruction!... I am your prisoner, but I fear you not!... Mark me,
Clifton: I fear you not!

I hesitated some time: at last I ventured to ask... Are you hurt,
madam?

I do not know! I do not care! I value no hurt you can do me! I am above
harm from you!--Though you have recourse to perfidy and violence, yet I
defy you! In darkness or in light, I defy you!

Let me intreat you, madam, to retire to rest.

No! I will stand here all night! I will not move!

Upon my honour, madam, upon my soul, I will molest you no more to
night!

I tell you, man, I fear you not! Night or day, I fear you not!

I request, I humbly intreat you would not expose yourself to the
injuries of the night air, and the want of sleep!

I will sleep no more! I want no sleep; I fear no injuries; not even
those you intend me!

Indeed, madam, you do not know the danger--

Mimic benevolence and virtue no more, Clifton! It is base in you! It is
beneath a mind like yours!--You are a mistaken man! Dreadfully
mistaken! You think me devoted, but I am safe. Unless you kill, you
never can conquer me! Beware! Turn back! Destruction is gaping for you,
if you proceed!

Need she have told me this, Fairfax? Could she think I knew it
not?--But she too is mistaken. Her courage is high, I grant, is
admirable; and, were any other but I her opponent, as she says, not
to be conquered! I adore the noble qualities of her mind; but great
though they are, when she defies me she over-rates them.

I own her warning was awful! My heart shrunk from it, and I retired;
taking care that she should hear me as I went, that she might be
encouraged to go to rest. My well-meant kindness was vain. She never
did confide in me, and never can. I heard her call Laura, and order her
to strike a light, set an arm chair, and bring her clothes: after which
I understood, from what I heard, that she dressed herself and sat down
in it, with her back to the door, there waiting patiently till the
morning.

How she will behave, or what she will say to Laura I cannot divine.
Most probably she will insist on banishing her the apartment; for she
never gave servants much employment, and always doubted whether the
keeping of them were not an immoral act, therefore is little in want of
their assistance.

But let her discard this treacherous and now ineffective tool. I want
her no more. I will not quit the house, Fairfax; I will neither eat nor
sleep, till I have put her to the trial which she so rashly defies! At
her uncle's table she defied me, and imagined she had gazed me into
cowardice. She knew me not: it was but making vengeance doubly sure.
This experience ere now should have taught her. Has she escaped me? Is
she not here? Does she not feel herself in the ravisher's arms? If not,
a few hours only and she shall!

Let her not be vain of this second repulse she has given me; it ought
to increase her terror, for it does but add to my despair. My
distempered soul will take no medicine but one, and that must be
administered; though more venomous than the sting of scorpion or tooth
of serpent, and more speedy in dissolution.

I left her room that she might breakfast undisturbed. There is
something admirably, astonishingly firm, in the texture of her mind.
Laura has been down, babbling to me all she knew. At eight o'clock,
when it had been light a full hour, Anna, after once or twice crossing
her chamber to consider, turned the key and resolutely opened the door;
expecting by her manner, Laura says, to see me rush in; for she threw
it suddenly open, as if fearful it should knock her down.

She walked out, looked steadfastly around, examined every part of the
chamber, and after having convinced herself I was not there, sat down
to write at the table where not an hour before I had been seated.
When the breakfast was brought, she bade Laura take it away again;
saying she had no appetite: but immediately recollecting herself,
ejaculated--'Fie!--It is weak! It is wrong!'--and added--'Stay Laura!
Put it down again!'

She then, with a calm and determined sedateness, began to serve herself
and Laura; treating this perfidious woman [For no matter that I made
her so, such she is.] with the same equanimity of temper and amenity as
formerly. The mistress ate, for she was innocent and resolved; but the
maid could not, for she was guilty and in a continual tremor. 'Be
pacified'--said Anna to her--Compose your thoughts, and take your
breakfast. I am much more sorry for than angry at the part you have
acted. You have done yourself great injury, but me none: at least, so I
trust!--Be appeased and eat your breakfast. Or, if you cannot eat with
me, go down and eat it in peace below.'

The benevolent suavity of this angel has made the light-minded hussey
half break her heart. Her penitential tears now flow in abundance; and
she has been officiously endeavouring to petition me not to harm so
good, so forgiving, so heavenly a young lady! I begin to fear she would
willingly be a traitor next to me, and endeavour to open the doors for
her mistress. But that I will prevent. I will not quit the house till
all is over! I have said it, Fairfax!

I will then immediately set Henley free, tell him where she is, where I
am to be found, and leave him to seek his own mode of vengeance! Should
he resort to the paltry refuge of law, I own that then I would elude
pursuit. But should the spirit of man stir within him, and should he
dare me to contention, I would fly to meet him in the mortal strife! He
is worthy of my arm, and I would shew how worthy I am to be his
opposite!

It is now noon, and Laura has again been with me, repeating the same
story, with additions and improvements. Anna has been talking to her,
and has made a deep impression upon her. She is all penitence and
petition, and is exceedingly troublesome, with her whining, her tears,
and her importunity, which I have found it difficult to silence.

I learn from her own account she has owned all, and betrayed all she
knew; and Anna has been telling her that she, and I, and all such
sinners however deep and deadly, ought to be pitied, counselled, and
reformed; and that our errors only ought to be treated with contempt,
disdain, and hatred. She has talked to her in the most gentle,
soothing, and sympathetic manner; till the fool's heart is ready to
burst.

Anna has drawn a picture of my state of mind which has terrified
her--And so it ought!--She has been sobbing, kneeling, and praying,
for my sake, for Anna's sake, for God's sake to be merciful, and do
no more mischief! 'Her mistress is an angel and not a woman!'--Why
true!--'Never had a young lady so forgiving, so kind, and so courageous
a heart!'--True again!--'But it is impossible, if I should be so wicked
as to lay violent hands upon her, for her not to sink, and lie for
mercy at my feet.'--Once more true, true!--

Mercy!--I have it not, know it not, nor can know! She herself has
banished it, from my breast and from her own: at least the mercy I
would ask--For could it be--? Were there not a Henley--? No, no!--There
is one wide destruction for us all! I am on the brink, and they must
down with me!--Have they not placed me there? Are they not now pulling
me, weighing me, sinking me?

This is the moment in which I would conjure up all the wrongs, insults,
contempts, and defiances she has heaped upon me--What need I?--They
come unbidden!--And now for the last act of the tragedy!

I have kept my word, Fairfax: I have been, have faced her, have--! You
shall hear! I will faithfully paint all that passed. I will do her
justice, and in this shew some sparks of magnanimity of which perhaps
she does not think me capable--No matter--

It was necessary the temper of my mind should be wound up to its
highest pitch, before I could approach her. I rushed up stairs, made
the bolts fly, and the lock start back. Yet the moment the door opened,
I hesitated--

However, I shook myself with indignation, entered, and saw her standing
firmly in the middle of the apartment, ready to assert the bold
defiance she had given me. The fixed resolution of her form, the
evident fortitude of her soul, and the steadfast encounter of her eye,
were discomfiting. Like a coward I stood I cannot tell how long, not
knowing what to say, she looking full upon me, examining my heart, and
putting thought to the rack. Benignant as she is, at such onsets of the
soul she feels no mercy.

Self-resentment at the tame crestfallen countenance I wore at last
produced an effort, and I stammered out--Madam--

Her only answer was a look--I endeavoured to meet her eye, but in vain.

I continued.--From my present manner you will perceive, madam, I am
conscious of the advantage you have over me; and that my own heart does
not entirely approve all I have done.

I see something of your confusion--I wish I saw more.

But neither can it forget its injuries!

What are they?

The time was when I met you with joy, addressed you with delight, and
gazed on you with rapture!--Nay I gaze so still!

Poor, weak man!

Yes, madam, I know how much you despise me! A thousand repeated wrongs
inform me of it: they have risen, one over another, in mountainous
oppression to my heart, till it could endure no more.

Feeble, mistaken man!

In those happy days when I approached you first, my thoughts were
loyal, my means were honest, and my intentions pure.

Pure?

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