Part 4 out of 6
Majesty's ships Volage, 28, and Cruiser, 16 gun-brig, which had been
employed in some operations about the mouth of the Indus, were
accordingly ordered on this service, and sailed from Bombay December
29, accompanied by two transports conveying about 800 troops--Europeans,
sepoys, and artillerymen--under the command-in-chief of Major Baillie,
24th Bombay native infantry. The Abdalli chiefs, on the other hand,
made an effort to induce the Sultan of the Futhalis, (with whom they
held a conference during the first days of 1839, at the tomb of
Sheikh Othman near Aden, on the occasion of the payment of the annual
tribute above referred to,) to make common cause with them against
the intruders who were endeavouring to establish themselves in the
country; but the negotiation wholly failed, and the two parties
separated on not very amicable terms.
[Footnote 47: It is worthy of remark, that in a note of December 1st,
(_Corresp_. No. 81,) from the Governor of Bombay to the Sultan,
the ill treatment of the passengers of the Derya-Dowlut is again
advanced as the ground of offence, as an atonement for which the
cession of Aden is indispensable; though for this, ample satisfaction
had been admitted long since to have been given.]
It appears that the determination of the Abdallis to hold out had
been materially strengthened by the intelligence which they received
from India, (where many Arabs from this part of Yemen and the
neighbouring country of Hadramout are serving as mercenaries to the
native princes,) of the manifold distractions which beset the
Anglo-Indian government, and the armaments in course of equipment for
Affghanistan, Scinde, the Persian Gulf, &c., and which confirmed
them in the belief that no more troops could be spared from Bombay
for an attack on Aden. The stoppage of provisions by sea, however,
and the threatened hostilities of the Futhalis, caused severe
distress among the inhabitants of the town; and dissensions arose
among the chiefs themselves, as to the proportions in which (in the
event of an amicable settlement) the annual payment of 8700 dollars
should be divided among them--it being determined that Sultan
Mahassan should not have it all. An attempt was now made by the
_synds_ to effect a reconciliation; but though abundance of notes
were once more interchanged,  and the old Sultan came down
from Lahedj to offer his mediation, all demands for the main
object, the cession of the place, were rejected or evaded. The
negotiation consequently came to nothing, and hostilities were
resumed with more energy than before, the artillery of Aden being
directed (as was reported) by an European Turk; till, on the 16th of
January, the flotilla from Bombay, under the command of Captain Smith,
R.N., anchored in Western Bay.
[Footnote 48: In this correspondence, the phrase of--"If you will
land and enter the town, I will be upon your head," is more than once
addressed by Sultan Hamed to Captain Haines and seems to have been
understood as a menace; but we have been informed that it rather
implies, "I will be answerable for your safety--your head shall be
in my charge."]
A peremptory requisition was now sent on shore for the immediate
surrender of the town; but the answer of the Sultan was still evasive,
and, as the troops had only a few days' water on board, an immediate
landing was decided upon. On the morning of the 19th, accordingly,
the Coote, Cruiser, Volage, and the Company's armed schooner Mahi,
weighed and stood in shore, opening a heavy fire on the island of
Seerah and the batteries on the mainland, to cover the disembarkation.
The Arabs at first stood to their guns with great determination, but
their artillery was, of course, speedily silenced or dismounted by
the superior weight and rapidity of the English fire; and though the
troops were galled while in the boats by matchlocks from the shore,
both the town and the island of Seerah were carried by storm without
much difficulty. The loss of the assailants was no more than fifteen
killed and wounded--that of the Arabs more than ten times that number,
including a nephew of the Sultan and a chief of the Houshibee tribe,
who fought gallantly, and received a mortal wound; considerable
bloodshed was also occasioned by the desperate resistance made by the
prisoners taken on Seerah in the attempt to disarm them, during which
the greater part of them cut their way through their captors and got
clear off. Most of the inhabitants fled into the interior during the
assault, but speedily returned on hearing of the discipline and good
order preserved by the conquerors; and the old Sultan, on being
informed of the capture of the place, sent an apologetic letter
(Jan. 21) to Captain Haines, in which he threw all the blame on his
son Hamed, and expressed an earnest wish for a reconciliation.
Little difficulty was now experienced in conducting the negotiations,
and during the first days of February articles of pacification were
signed both with the Abdallis and the other tribes in the
neighbourhood. To secure the good-will of the Futhali chief, the
annual payment which he had received from Aden of 360 dollars, was
still guaranteed to him, as were the 8700 dollars per annum to the
Sultan of Lahedj, whose bond for 4191 dollars was further remitted
as a token of good-will.
Such were the circumstances under which Aden became part of the
colonial empire of Great Britain--and the details of which we have
taken, almost entirely, from the official accounts published by
order of Government. In whatever point of view we consider the
transaction, we think it can scarcely be denied that it reflects
little credit on the national character for even-handed justice and
fair dealing. Even if the tact and _savoir faire_, which Captain
Haines must be admitted to have displayed in an eminent degree in
the execution of his instructions, had succeeded in intimidating the
Arabs into surrendering the place without resistance, such a
proceeding would have amounted to nothing more or less than the
appropriation of the territory of a tribe not strong enough to defend
themselves, simply because it was situated conveniently for the
purposes of our own navigation: and the open force by which the
scheme was ultimately carried into effect, imparts to this act of
usurpation a character of violence still more to be regretted. The
originally-alleged provocation, the affair of the Derya-Dowlut, is
not for a moment tenable as warranting such extreme measures:--since
not only was the participation of the parties on whom the whole
responsibility was thrown, at all events extremely venial; but
satisfaction had been given, and had been admitted to have been given,
before the subject of the cession of the place was broached:--and
the Sultan constantly denied that his alleged consent to the transfer,
on which the subsequent hostilities were grounded, had ever been
intended to be so construed. It is evident, moreover, that the Arabs
would gladly have yielded to any amicable arrangement short of the
absolute cession of the town, which they regarded as disgraceful:
--the erection of a factory, which might have been fortified so as
to give us the virtual command of the place and the harbour, would
probably have met with no opposition:--and even if Aden had fallen,
as it seemed on the point of doing, into the hands of the Pasha of
Egypt, there can be little doubt that the Viceroy would have shown
himself equally ready to facilitate our intercourse with India, in
his Arabian as in his Egyptian harbours. At all events, it is
evident that the desired object of obtaining a station and coal
depot for the Indian steamers, might easily have been secured in
various ways, without running even the risk of bringing on the
British name the imputation of unnecessary violence and oppression.
Aden, however, was now, whether for right or wrong, under the British
flag; but the hostile dispositions of the Arabs, notwithstanding the
treaties entered into, were still far from subdued; and the cupidity
of these semi-barbarous tribes was still further excited by the
lavish expenditure of the new garrison, and by the exaggerated
reports of vast treasures said to be brought from India for the
repairs of the works. Among the advantages anticipated by Captain
Haines in his official report from the possession of the town,
especial stress is laid on its vicinity to the coffee and gum
districts, and the certainty, that when it was under the settled
rule of British law, the traffic in these rich products, as well as
in the gold-dust, ivory, and frankincense of the African coast,
would once more centre in its long-neglected harbour. But it was
speedily found that the insecurity of communication with the
interior opposed a serious obstacle to the realization of these
prospects--the European residents and the troops were confined
within the Turkish wall--and though the extreme heat of the climate
(which during summer averaged 90 deg. of Fahrenheit in the shade within
a stone house) did not prove so injurious as had been expected to
European constitutions, it was found, singularly enough, to exercise
a most pernicious influence on the sepoys, who sickened and died in
alarming numbers. Aden at this period is compared, in a letter
quoted in the _Asiatic Journal_, to "the crater of Etna enlarged,
and covered with gravestones and the remains of stone huts;"
provisions were scarce, and vegetables scarcely procurable. By
degrees, however, some symptoms of reviving trade appeared and by the
end of 1839 the population had increased to 1500 souls.
The smouldering rancour with which the Arabs had all along regarded
the Frank intruders upon their soil, had by this time broken out
into open hostility; and, after some minor acts of violence, an
attack was made on the night of November 9th on the Turkish wall
across the isthmus, (which had been additionally strengthened by
redoubts and some guns,) by a body of 4000 men, collected from the
Abdallis, the Futhalis, and the other tribes in the neighbourhood.
The assailants were of course repulsed, but not without a severe
conflict, in which the Arabs engaged the defenders hand to hand
with the most determined valour--so highly had their hopes of
plunder been stimulated by the rumours of English wealth. This
daring attempt (which the Pasha of Egypt was by some suspected
to have had some share in instigating) at once placed the occupants
of Aden in a state of open warfare with all their Arab neighbours;
and the subsidies hitherto paid to the Futhali chief and the old
Sultan of Lahedj were consequently stopped--while L.100,000 were
voted by the Bombay government for repairing the fortifications,
and engineers were sent from India to put the place in an efficient
state of defence. These regular ramparts, however, even when
completed, can never be relied on as a security against the guerilla
attacks of these daring marauders, who can wade through the sea at
low water round the flanks of the Turkish wall, and scramble over
precipices to get in the rear of the outposts--and accordingly,
during 1840, the garrison had to withstand two more desperate
attempts (May 20, and July 4,) to surprise the place, both of which
were beaten off after some hard fighting, though in one instance the
attacking party succeeded in carrying off a considerable amount of
plunder from the encampment near the Turkish wall. Since that period,
it has been found necessary gradually to raise the strength of the
garrison from 800 to 4000 men, one-fourth of whom are always European
soldiers--and though no attack in force has lately been made by the
Arabs, the necessity of being constantly on the alert against their
covert approaches, renders the duties of the garrison harassing to
the last degree. Though a considerable trade now exists with the
African coast, scarcely any commercial intercourse has yet been
established with the interior of Arabia, (notwithstanding the
friendly dispositions evinced by the Iman of Sana,) the road being
barred by the hostile tribes--and a further impediment to
improvement is found in the dissensions of the civil and military
authorities of the place itself, who, pent up in a narrow space
under a broiling sun, seem to employ their energies in endless
squabbles with each other. Whatever may be the ultimate fate of this
colony, it must be allowed, to quote the candid admission of a
writer in the _United Service Journal_, that "at present we are not
occupying a very proud position in Arabia"--though considering the
means by which we obtained our footing in that peninsula, our
position is perhaps as good as we deserve.
* * * * *
BY THE AUTHOR OP THE LIFE OF BURKE, OF GOLDSMITH, &C.,
ON VIEWING MY MOTHER'S PICTURE.
How warms the heart when dwelling on that face,
Those lips that mine a thousand times have prest,
The swelling source that nurture gav'st her race,
Where found my infant head its downiest rest!
How in those features aim to trace my own,
Cast in a softer mould my being see;
Recall the voice that sooth'd my helpless moan,
The thoughts that sprang for scarcely aught save me;
That shaped and formed me; gave me to the day,
Bade in her breast absorbing love arise;
O'er me a ceaseless tender care display,
For weak all else to thee maternal ties!
This debt of love but One may claim; no other
Such self-devotion boasts, save thee, my Mother!
* * * * *
The tongue has nothing to say when the soul hath spoken all! What
need of words in the passionate and early intercourse of love! There
is no oral language that can satisfy or meet the requisitions of the
stricken heart. Speech, the worldling and the false--oftener the
dark veil than the bright mirror of man's thoughts--is banished from
the spot consecrated to purity, unselfishness, and truth. The lovely
and beloved Ellen learnt, before a syllable escaped my lips, the
secret which those lips would never have disclosed. Her innocent and
conscious cheek acknowledged instantly her quick perception, and
with maiden modesty she turned aside--not angrily, but timorous as a
bird, upon whose leafy covert the heavy fowler's foot has trod too
harshly and too suddenly. I thought of nothing then but the pain I
had inflicted, and was sensible of no feeling but that of shame and
sorrow for my fault. We walked on in silence. Our road brought us to
the point in the village at which I had met Miss Fairman and her
father, when, for the first time, we became companions in our
evening walk. We retraced the path which then we took, and the
hallowed spot grew lovelier as we followed it. I could not choose
but tell how deeply and indelibly the scene of beauty had become
imprinted on my heart.
"To you, Miss Fairman," I began, "and to others who were born and
nurtured in this valley, this is a common sight. To me it is a land
of enchantment, and the impression that it brings must affect my
future being. I am sure, whatever may be my lot, that I shall be a
happier man for what I now behold."
"It is well," said my companion, "that you did not make the
acquaintance of our hills during the bleak winter, when their charms
were hidden in the snow, and they had nothing better to offer their
worshipper than rain and sleet and nipping winds. They would have
lost your praise then."
"Do you think so? Imprisoned as I have been, and kept a stranger to
the noblest works of Providence, my enjoyment is excessive, and I
dare scarcely trust myself to feel it as I would. I could gaze on
yonder sweet hillock, with its wild-flowers and its own blue patch
of sky, until I wept."
"Yes, this is a lovely scene in truth!" exclaimed Miss Fairman
"Do you remember, Miss Fairman, our first spring walk? For an hour
we went on, and that little green clump, as it appears from here,
was not for a moment out of my sight. My eyes were riveted upon it,
and I watched the clouds shifting across it, changing its hue, now
darkening, now lighting it up, until it became fixed in my
remembrance, never to depart from it. We have many fair visions
around us, but that is to me the fairest. It is connected with our
evening walk. Neither can be forgotten whilst I live."
It was well that we reached the parsonage gate before another word
was spoken. In spite of the firmest of resolutions, the smallest
self-indulgence brought me to the very verge of transgression.
In the evening I sat alone, and began a letter to the minister. I
wrote a few lines expressive of my gratitude and deep sense of
obligation. They did not read well, and I destroyed them. I
recommenced. I reproached myself for presumption and temerity, and
confessed that I had taken advantage of his confidence by attempting
to gain the affections of his only child. I regretted the fault, and
desired to be dismissed. The terms which I employed, on reperusal,
looked too harsh, and did not certainly do justice to the motives by
which throughout I had been actuated; for, however violent had been
my passion, _principle_ had still protected and restrained me. I had
not coldly and _deliberately_ betrayed myself. The second writing,
not more satisfactory than the first, was, in its turn, expunged. I
attempted a third epistle, and failed. Then I put down the pen and
considered. I pondered until I concluded that I had ever been too
hasty and too violent. Miss Fairman would certainly take no notice
of what had happened, and if I were guarded--silent--and determined
for the future, all would still be well. It was madness to indulge a
passion which could only lead to my expulsion from the parsonage, and
end in misery. Had I found it so easy to obtain a home and quiet,
that both were to be so recklessly and shamefully abandoned? Surely
it was time to dwell soberly and seriously upon the affairs of life.
I had numbered years and undergone trial sufficient to be acquainted
with true policy and the line of duty. Both bade me instantly reject
the new solicitation, and pursue, with singleness of purpose, the
occupation which fortune had mercifully vouchsafed to me. All this
was specious and most just, and sounded well to the understanding
that was not less able to look temperately and calmly upon the
argument in consequence of the previous overflow of feeling. Reason
is never so plausible and prevailing as when it takes the place of
gratified passion. Never are we so firmly resolved upon good, as in
the moment that follows instantly the doing of evil. Never is
conscience louder in her complaints than when she rises from a
temporary overthrow. I had discovered every thing to Miss Fairman. I
had fatally committed myself. There was no doubt of this; and
nothing was left for present consolation but sapient resolutions for
the future. Virtuous and fixed they looked in my silent chamber and
in the silent hour of night. Morning had yet to dawn, and they had
yet to contend with the thousand incitements which our desires are
ever setting up to battle with our better judgment. I did not write
to Mr. Fairman, but I rose from my seat much comforted, and softened
my midnight pillow with the best intentions.
Fancy might have suggested to me, on the following morning, that the
eyes of Miss Fairnan had been visited but little by sleep, and that
her face was far more pallid than usual, if her parent had not
remarked, with much anxiety, when she took her place amongst us,
that she was looking most weary and unwell. Like the sudden
emanation that crimsons all the east, the beautiful and earliest
blush of morning, came the driven blood into the maiden's cheek,
telling of discovery and shame. Nothing she said in answer, but
diligently pursued her occupation. I could perceive that the fair
hand trembled, and that the gentle bosom was disquieted. _I_ could
tell why downwards bent the head, and with what new emotions the
artless spirit had become acquainted. Instantly I saw the mischief
which my rashness had occasioned, and felt how deeply had fallen the
first accents of love into the poor heart of the secluded one. What
had I done by the short, indistinct, most inconsiderate avowal, and
how was it possible now to avert its consequences? Every tender and
uneasy glance that Mr. Fairman cast upon his cherished daughter,
passed like a sting to me, and roused the bitterest self-reproach. I
could have calmed his groundless fears, had I been bold enough to
risk his righteous indignation. The frankness and cordiality which
had ever marked my intercourse with Miss Fairman, were from this
hour suspended. Could it be otherwise with one so innocent, so
truthful, and so meek! Anger she had none, but apprehension and
conceptions strange, such as disturb the awakened soul of woman, ere
the storm of passion comes to overcharge it.
I slunk from the apartment and the first meal of the day, like a man
guilty of a heinous fault. I pleaded illness, and did not rejoin my
friends. I knew not what to do, and I passed a day in long and
feverish doubt. Evening arrived. My pupils were dismissed, and once
more I sat in my own silent room lost in anxious meditation. Suddenly
an unusual knock at the door roused me, and brought me to my feet. I
requested the visitor to enter, and Mr. Fairman himself walked slowly
in. He was pale and care-worn and he looked, as I imagined, sternly
upon me. "All is known!" was my first thought, and my throat swelled
with agitation. I presented a chair to the incumbent; and when he
sat down and turned his wan face upon me, I felt that my own cheek
was no less blanched than his. I awaited his rebuke in breathless
"You are indeed ill, Stukely," commenced Mr. Fairman, gazing
earnestly. "I was not aware of this, or I would have seen you before.
You have overworked yourself with the boys. You shall be relieved
to-morrow. I will take charge of them myself. You should not have
persevered when you found your strength unequal to the task. A
little repose will, I trust, restore you."
With every animating syllable, the affrighted blood returned again,
and I gained confidence. His tones assured me that he was still in
ignorance. A load was taken from me.
"I shall be better in the morning, sir," I answered. "Do not think
seriously of the slightest indisposition. I am better now."
"I am rejoiced to hear it," answered the incumbent. "I am full of
alarm and wretchedness to-day. Did you observe my daughter this
"Yes, sir," I faltered.
"You did at breakfast, but you have not seen her since. I wish you
had. I am sick at heart."
"Is she unwell, sir?"
"Do you know what consumption is? Have you ever watched its fearful
"I thought you might have done so. It is a fearful disease, and
leaves hardly a family untouched. Did she not look ill?--you can
tell me that, at least."
"Not quite so well, perhaps, as I have seen her, sir; but I should
"Eh--what, not very ill, then? Well, that is strange, for I was
frightened by her. What can it be? I wish that Mayhew had called in.
Every ailment fills me with terror. I always think of her dear mother.
Three months before her death, she sat with me, as we do here
together, well and strong, and thanking Providence for health and
strength. She withered, as it might be from that hour, and, as I
tell you, three short months of havoc brought her to the grave."
"Was she young, sir?"
"A few years older than my child--but that is nothing. Did you say
you did not think her looks this morning indicated any symptoms?
Oh--no! I recollect. You never saw the malady at work. Well,
certainly she does not cough as her poor mother did. Did it look
like languor, think you?"
"The loss of rest might"--
"Yes, it might, and perhaps it is nothing worse. I know Mayhew
thinks lightly of these temporary shadows; but I do not believe he
has ever seen her so thoroughly feeble and depressed as she appears
to-day. She is very pale, but I was glad to find her face free from
all flush whatever. That is comforting. Let us hope the best. How do
the boys advance? What opinion have you formed of the lad Charlton?"
"He is a dull, good-hearted boy, sir. Willing to learn, with little
ability to help him on. Most difficult of treatment. His tears lie
near the surface. At times it seems that the simplest terms are
beyond his understanding, and then the gentlest reproof opens the
flood-gate, and submerges his faculties for the day."
"Be tender and cautious, Stukely, with that child. He is a sapling
that will not bear the rough wind. Let him learn what he will--rest
assured, it is all he can. His eagerness to learn will never fall
short of your's to teach. He must be kindly encouraged, not frowned
upon in his reverses; for who fights so hard against them, or
deplores them more deeply than himself? Poor, weak child, he is his
"I will take care, sir."
"Have you seen this coming on, Stukely?"
"With Charlton, sir?"
"No. Miss Fairman's indisposition. For many weeks she has certainly
improved in health. I have remarked it, and I was taken by surprise
this morning. I should be easier had Mayhew seen her."
"Let me fetch him in the morning, sir. His presence will relieve you.
I will start early--and bring him with me."
"Well, if you are better, but certainly not otherwise. I confess I
should be pleased to talk with him. But do not rise too early. Get
your breakfast first. I will take the boys until you come back."
This had been the object of the anxious father's visit. As soon as I
had undertaken to meet his wish, he became more tranquil. My mission
was to be kept a secret. The reason why a servant had not been
employed, was the fear of causing alarm in the beloved patient.
Before Mr. Fairman left me, I was more than half persuaded that I
myself had mistaken the cause of his daughter's suffering; so
agreeable is it, even against conviction, to discharge ourselves of
The residence of Dr. Mayhew was about four miles distant from our
village. It was a fine brick house, as old as the oaks which stood
before it, conferring upon a few acres of grass land the right to be
regarded as a park. The interior of the house was as substantial as
the outside; both were as solid as the good doctor himself. He was a
man of independent property, a member of the University of Oxford,
and a great stickler for old observances. He received a fee from
every man who was able to pay him for his services; and the poor
might always receive at his door, at the cost of application only,
medical advice and physic, and a few commodities much more
acceptable than either. He kept a good establishment, in the most
interesting portion of which dwelt three decaying creatures, the
youngest fourscore years of age and more. They were an entail from
his grandfather, and had faithfully served that ancestor for many
years as coachman, housekeeper, and butler. The father of Dr. Mayhew
had availed himself of their integrity and experience until Time
robbed them of the latter, and rendered the former a useless ornament;
and dying, he bequeathed them, with the house and lands, to their
present friend and patron. There they sat in their own hall, royal
servants every one, hanging to life by one small thread, which when
it breaks for one must break for all. They had little interest in
the present world, to which the daily visit of the doctor, and that
alone, connected them. He never failed to pay it. Unconscious of all
else, they never failed to look for it.
The village clock struck eleven as I walked up the avenue that
conducted to the house. The day was intensely hot, and at that early
hour the fierce fire of the sun had rendered the atmosphere sweltry
and oppressive. I knocked many times before I could obtain admittance,
and, at last, the door was opened by a ragged urchin about twelve
years of age, looking more like the son of a thief or a gypsy than a
juvenile member of the decent household.
"Is Dr. Mayhew at home?" I asked.
"Oh, I don't know!" he answered surlily; "you had better come and see;"
and therewith he turned upon his heel, and tramped heavily down the
kitchen stairs. For a few seconds I remained where I was. At length,
hearing no voices in the house, and finding that no one was likely
to come to me, I followed him. At the bottom of the stairs was a
long passage leading to the offices. It was very dark, or it was
rendered so to me who had just left the glare of noonday. At the end
of it, however, a small lamp glimmered, and under its feeble help I
advanced. Arriving at its extremity, I was stopped by the hum of many
voices that proceeded from a chamber on the right. Here I knocked
immediately. The voice of Dr. Mayhew desired me to enter. The door
was opened the moment afterwards, and then I beheld the doctor
himself and every servant of the house assembled in a crowd. The
little boy who had given me admission was in the group; and in the
very centre of all, sitting upright in a chair, was the strangest
apparition of a man that I have ever gazed upon, before or since. The
object that attracted, and at the same time repelled, my notice, was
a creature whose age no living man could possibly determine. He was
at least six feet high, with raven hair, and a complexion sallow as
the sear leaf. Look at his figure, then mark the absence of a single
wrinkle, and you judge him for a youth. Observe again: look at the
emaciated face; note the jet-black eye, deeply-sunken, and void of
all fire and life; the crushed, the vacant, and forlorn expression;
the aquiline nose, prominent as an eagle's, from which the parchment
skin is drawn as rigidly as though it were a dead man's skin,
bloodless and inert. The wear and tear, the buffeting and misery of
seventy years are there. Seventy!--yea, twice seventy years of mortal
agony and suffering could hardly leave a deeper impress. He is
strangely clad. He is in rags. The remnants of fine clothes are
dropping from his shrunken body. His hand is white and small. Upon
the largest finger he wears a ring--once, no doubt, before his hand
had shrivelled up--the property and ornament of the smallest. It is
a sparkling diamond, and it glistens as his own black eye should, if
it be true that he is old only in mental misery and pain. There is
no sign of thought or feeling in his look. His eye falls on no one,
but seems to pass beyond the lookers-on, and to rest on space. The
company are far more agitated. A few minutes before my arrival the
strange object had been found, with the boy whom I had first seen,
wandering in the garden. He was apprehended for a thief, brought
into the house, and not until Dr. Mayhew had been summoned, had it
been suspected that the poor creature was an idiot. Commiseration
then took the place of anger quickly, and all was anxiety and desire
to know whence he had come, who he might be, and what his business
was. He could not speak for himself, and the answers of the boy had
been unsatisfactory and vague. When I entered the room, the doctor
gave me a slight recognition, and proceeded at once to a further
examination of the stripling.
"Where did you pick him up, Sir?" enquired the Doctor.
"Mother sent me out a-begging with him," answered the gypsy boy.
"Who is your mother?"
"Where does she live, then?"
"She doesn't live nowhere. She's a tramper."
"Where is she now?"
"How can I tell? We shall pick up somewhere. Let me go, and take
Silly Billy with me. I shall get such a licking if I don't."
"Is his name Billy?"
"No, Silly Billy, all then chaps as is fools are called Silly Billy.
You know that, don't you? Oh, I say, do let's go now, there's good
"Wait a moment, boy--not so fast. How long have you been acquainted
with this unfortunate?"
"What, Silly Billy? Oh, we ain't very old friends! I only see'd him
yesterday. He came up quite unawares to our camp whilst we were
grubbing. He seemed very hungry, so mother gave him summut, and made
him up a bed--and she means to have him. So she sent me out this
morning a-begging with him, and told me she'd break every gallows
bone I'd got, if I did not bring him back safe. I say, now I have
told all, let us go--there's a good gentleman! I'm quite glad he is
going to live with us. It's so lucky to have a Silly Billy."
"How is it, you young rascal, you didn't tell me all this before?
What do you mean by it?
"Why, it isn't no business of your'n. Let us go, will you?"
"Strange," said Doctor Mayhew, turning to his butler--"Strange, that
they should leave that ring upon his finger--valuable as it looks."
"Oh, you try it on, that's all! Catch mother leaving that there, if
she could get it off. She tried hard enough, I can tell you and I
thought he'd just have bitten her hand off. Wasn't he savage neither,
oh cry! She won't try at it again in a hurry. She says it serves her
right, for no luck comes of robbing a Silly Billy."
The servants, who betrayed a few minutes before great anxiety and
apprehension, were perfectly overcome by this humorous sally, and
burst, with on accord, into the loudest laughter. The generally
jocose doctor, however, looked particularly serious, and kept his
eye upon the poor idiot with an expression of deep pity. "Will he
not speak?" he asked, still marking his unhappy countenance bereft of
every sign of sensibility.
"He won't say not nuffin," said the boy, in a tone which he hoped
would settle the business; "You have no right to keep us. Let us go."
"Leave me with these persons," said the Doctor, turning to the
servants. "We will see if the tongue of this wretched be really tied.
Go, all of you."
In an instant the room was left to Doctor Mayhew and myself--the
idiot and his keeper.
"What is your name, my man?" enquired the physician in a soothing
tone. "Do not be frightened. Nobody will hurt you here. We are all
your very good friends. Tell me now, what is your name?"
The questioner took the poor fellow at the same time by the hand, and
pressed it kindly. The latter then looked round the room with a
vacant stare, and sighed profoundly.
"Tell me your name," continued the Doctor, encouraged by the movement.
The lips of the afflicted man unclosed. His brick-red tongue
attempted to moisten them. Fixing his expressionless eyes upon the
doctor, he answered, in a hollow voice, "_Belton_."
"Well, I never!" exclaimed the boy. "Them Silly Billies is the
deceitfulest chaps as is. He made out to mother that he couldn't
speak a word."
"Take care what you are about, boy," said Doctor Mayhew sternly.
"I tell you that I suspect you." Turning to the idiot, he proceeded.
"And where do you come from?"
The lips opened again, and the same hollow voice again answered,
"Yes, I understand--that is your name--but whither do you wish to go?"
"_Belton_," said the man.
"Strange!" ejaculated the Doctor. "How old are you?"
"_Belton_," repeated the simple creature, more earnestly than ever.
"I am puzzled," exclaimed Mr. Mayhew, releasing the hand of the idiot,
and standing for a few seconds in suspense. "However," he continued,
"upon one thing I am resolved. The man shall be left here, and in my
care. I will be responsible for his safety until something is done
for him. We shall certainly get intelligence. He has escaped from an
asylum--I have not the slightest doubt of it--and we shall be able,
after a few days, to restore him. As for you, sir," he added,
addressing the young gypsy, "make the best of your way to your mother,
and be thankful that you have come so well off--fly."
The boy began to remonstrate, upon which the doctor began to talk of
the cage and the horsepond. The former then evinced his good sense
by listening to reason, and by selecting, as many a wiser man has
done before him--the smaller of two necessary evils. He departed,
not expressing himself in the most elegant terms that might have
been applied to a leave-taking.
The benevolent physician soon made arrangements for the comfort of
his charge. He was immediately placed in a bath, supplied with food,
and dressed in decent clothing. He submitted at once to his treatment,
and permitted his attendant to do what he would with him, taking,
all the while, especial care to feel the diamond ring safe and
secure under the palm of his own hand. A room was given to him and
Robin, the gardener's son, who was forthwith installed his guardian,
with strict directions not to leave the patient for an instant by
himself. When Dr. Mayhew had seen every thing that could be done
properly executed, he turned cheerfully to me, and bade me follow
him to his library.
"His clothes have been good," muttered the doctor to himself, as he
sat down. "Diamond ring! He is a gentleman, or has been one. Curious
business! Well, we shall have him advertised all round the country
in a day or two. Meanwhile here he is, and will be safe. That
trouble is over. Now, Stukely, what brings you so early? Any thing
wrong at home? Fairman in the dumps again; fidgety and restless, eh?"
I told my errand.
"Ah, I thought so! There's nothing the matter there, sir. She is
well enough now, and will continue so, if her father doesn't
frighten her into sickness, which he may do. I tell you what, I must
get little puss a husband, and take her from him. That will save her.
I have my eye upon a handsome fellow--Hollo, sir, what's the matter
with you! Just look at your face in that glass. It is as red as fire."
"The weather, sir, is"--
"Oh, is it? You mean to say, then, that you are acquainted with the
influences of the weather. That is just the thing, for you can help
me to a few facts for the little treatise on climate which I have
got now in hand. Well, go on, my friend. You were saying that the
weather is--is what?"
"It is very hot, sir," I answered, dreadfully annoyed.
"Well, so it is; that's very true but not original. I have heard the
same remark at least six times this morning. I say, Master Stukely,
you haven't been casting sheep's-eyes in that sweet quarter, have you?
Haven't, perhaps, been giving the young lady instruction as well as
"I do not understand, sir," I struggled to say with coolness.
"Oh, very well!" answered Dr. Mayhew dryly. "That's very unfortunate
too, for," continued he, taking out his watch, "I haven't time to
explain myself just now. I have an appointment four miles away in
half an hour's time. I am late as it is. Williams will get you some
lunch. Tell Fairman I shall see him before night. Make yourself
perfectly at home, and don't hurry. But excuse me; this affair has
made me quite behindhand."
The Doctor took a few papers and a book from the table, and before I
had time to reply, vanished, much to my relief and satisfaction. My
journey homeward was not a happy one. I felt alarm and agitation,
and the beautiful scenery failed to remove or temper them. My
heart's dear secret had been once more discovered. Rumour could not
omit to convey it speedily to the minister himself. In two
directions the flame had now power to advance and spread; and if the
old villager remained faithful, what reason had I to hope that
Dr. Mayhew would not immediately expose me--yes, must not regard it
as his business and duty so to do? Yet one thing was certain. The
secret, such as it had become, might, for all practical purposes, be
known to the whole world, for unquestionably the shallowest observer
was at present able to detect it. The old woman in the village, aged
and ignorant as she was, had been skilful enough to discover it when
I spoke. The doctor had gathered it from my looks even before I
uttered a syllable. What was to hinder the incumbent from reading
the tale on my forehead the moment that I again stood in his presence?
Reaching the parsonage, I proceeded at once to the drawing-room,
where I expected to see the minister. No one was in the room, but a
chair was drawn to the table, and the implements of drawing were
before it. Could I not guess who had been the recent tenant of that
happy chair--who had been busy there? Forgetful of every thing but
her, I stood for a time in silent adoration of the absent one; then
I ventured to approach and gaze upon her handiwork. I shook with joy,
with ravishment, and ecstasy, when I beheld it. What was not made
known to me in that one hasty look! What golden dreams did not engage,
what blissful triumph did not elevate, what passionate delight did
not overflow my aching heart! Oh, it was true--and the blessed
intelligence came to me with a power and a reality that no language
could contain--SHE LOVED ME! she, the beloved, the good, the innocent,
and pure! Before me was the scene--the dearest to me in
life--through which we had so recently walked together, and upon
which she knew I doated, for the sake of her whose presence had
given it light and hallowed it. Why had she brought it on the paper?
Why this particular scene, and that fair hillock, but for the sake
of him who worshipped them--but that the mysterious and communicable
fire had touched her soul, and melted it? I trembled with my
happiness. There was a spot upon the paper--a tear--one sacred drop
from the immaculate fount. Why had it been shed? In joy or pain--for
whom--and wherefore? The paper was still moist--the tear still warm.
Happiest and most unfortunate of my race, I pressed it to my lips,
and kissed it passionately.
Miss Fairman entered at that moment.
She looked pale and ill. This was not a season for consideration.
Before I could speak, I saw her tottering, and about to fall. I
rushed to her and held her in my arms. She strove for recovery, and
set herself at liberty; but she wept aloud as she did so, and
covered her face with her hands. I fell upon my knees, and implored
her to forgive me.
"I have been rash and cruel, Miss Fairman, but extend to me your
pardon, and I will go for ever, and disturb your peace no more. Do
not despise me, or believe that I have deliberately interfered with
your happiness, and destroyed my own for ever. Do not hate me when I
shall see you no more."
"Leave me, Mr. Stukely, I entreat," sobbed Miss Fairman, weeping amain.
Her hand fell. I was inflamed with passion, and I became indifferent
to the claims of duty, which were drowned in the louder clamours of
love. I seized that hand and held it firm. It needed not, for the
lady sought not to withdraw it.
"I am not indifferent to you, dearest Miss Fairman," I exclaimed;
"you do not hate me--you do not despise me--I am sure you do not.
That drawing has revealed to me all that I wish or care to know. I
would rather die this moment possessed of that knowledge, than live
a monarch without it."
"Leave me, leave me, I implore you," faltered Miss Fairman.
"Yes, dearest lady, I must--I shall leave you. I can stay no longer
here. Life is valueless now. I have permitted a raging fire to
consume me. I have indulged, madly and fearfully indulged, in error.
I have struggled against the temptation. Heaven has willed that I
should not escape it. I have learnt that you love me--come what may,
I am content."
"If you regard me, Mr. Stukely, pity me, and go, now. I beg, I
entreat you to leave me."
I raised the quivering hand, and kissed it ardently. I resigned it,
My whole youth was a succession of inconsiderate yieldings to passion,
and of hasty visitings of remorse. It is not a matter of surprise
that I hated myself for every word that I had spoken as soon as I
was again master of my conduct. It was my nature to fall into error
against conviction and my cool reason, and to experience speedily the
reaction that succeeds the commission of exorbitant crimes. In
proportion to the facility with which I erred, was the extravagance
and exaggeration with which I viewed my faults. During the
predominance of a passion, death, surrounded by its terrors, would
not have frighted me or driven me back--would not have received my
passing notice; whilst it lasted it prevailed. So, afterwards, when
all was calm and over, a crushing sense of wrong and guilt magnified
the smallest offence, until it grew into a bugbear to scare me night
and day. Leaving Miss Fairman, I rushed into the garden, preparatory
to running away from the parsonage altogether. This, in the height
of remorseful excitement, presented itself to my mind forcibly as
the necessary and only available step to adopt; but this soon came
to be regarded as open to numerous and powerful objections.
It seemed impossible that the incumbent could be kept any longer in
ignorance of the affair; and it was better--oh! how much better--for
comfort and peace of mind that he should not be. In a few hours
Dr. Mayhew would arrive, and his shrewd eye would immediately
penetrate to the very seat of his patient's disquietude. The
discovery would be communicated to her father--and what would he
think of me?--what would become of me? I grew as agitated as though
the doctor were at that moment seated with the minister--and
revealing to his astounded listener the history of my deceit and
black ingratitude. The feeling was not to be borne; and in order to
cast it off, I determined myself to be the messenger of the tale,
and to stand the brunt of his first surprise and indignation. With
the earliest conception of the idea, I ran to put it into execution.
Nor did I stop until I reached the door of his study, when the
difficulty of introducing at once so delicate a business, and the
importance of a little quiet preparation, suggested themselves,
and made me hesitate. It was however, but for a moment for
self-possession. I would argue with myself no longer. The few hours
that intervened before the arrival of the doctor were my own and if
I permitted them to pass away, my opportunity was gone for ever, and
every claim upon the kindness and forgiveness of my patron lost. I
would confess my affection, and offer him the only reparation in my
power--to quit his roof, and carry the passion with me for my
punishment and torment.
Mr. Fairman was alone. The pupils were playing on the lawn upon
which the window of the study opened. There they ran, and leaped, and
shouted, all feeling and enjoyment, without an atom of the leaden
care of life to press upon the light elastic soul; and there stood I,
young enough to be a playmate brother, separated from them and their
hearts' joyousness by the deep broad line which, once traversed, may
never be recovered, ground to the earth by suffering, trial, and
disappointment; darkness and discouragement without; misery and
self-upbraiding robbing me of peace within. My eyes caught but a
glimpse of the laughing boys before they settled on the minister,
and summoned me to my ungracious task--and it was a glimpse of a
bright and beautiful world, with which I had nothing in common, of
which I had known something, it might be ages since--but whose glory
had departed even from the memory.
"Is he here?" enquired the incumbent.
"Doctor Mahew could not accompany me, sir," I answered, "but he will
"Thank you, Stukely, thank you. I have good news for you. I can
afford you time to recruit and be yourself again. The lads return
home on Monday next; you shall have a month's holiday, and you shall
spend it as you will--with us, or elsewhere. If your health will be
improved by travelling, I shall be happy to provide you with the
means. I cannot afford to lose your services. You must not get ill."
"You are very kind, sir," I replied--"kinder than I deserve."
"That is a matter of opinion, Stukely. I do not think so. You have
served me faithfully and well. I consult my own interest in rewarding
you and taking care of yours."
"Well, never mind now. We will not argue on whose side the obligation
lies. It is perhaps well that we should both of us think as we do. It
is likely that we shall both perform our duty more strictly if we
strike the balance against ourselves. Go and refresh yourself. You
look tired and worn. Get a glass of wine, and cheer up. Have you
seen Miss Fairman?"
"It is concerning her, sir," I answered, trembling in every joint,
"that I desire particularly to speak to you."
"Good heaven!" exclaimed the incumbent, starting from his chair,
"what do you mean? What is the matter? What has happened? Why do you
tremble, Stukely, and look so ghastly pale? What has happened since
the morning? What ails her? Go on. Speak. Tell me at once. My poor
child--what of her?"
"Calm yourself, I implore you, sir. Miss Fairman is quite well.
Nothing has happened. Do not distress yourself. I have done very
wrong to speak so indiscreetly. Pardon me, sir. I should have known
better. She is well."
Mr. Fairman paced the room in perturbation, and held his hand upon
his heart to allay its heavy throbs.
"This is very wrong," he said--"very impious. I have thought of
nothing else this day--and this is the consequence. I have dwelt
upon the probability of calamity, until I have persuaded myself of
its actual presence--looked for woe, until I have created it. This
is not the patience and resignation which I teach; for shame, for
shame!--go to thy closet, worm--repent and pray."
Mr. Fairman resumed his seat, and hid his face for a time in his
hands. At length he spoke again.
"Proceed, Stukely. I am calm now. The thoughts and fears in which it
was most sinfull to indulge, and which accumulated in this most
anxious breast, are dissipated. What would you say? I can listen as I
"I am glad, sir, that the boys revisit their homes on Monday, and
that a month, at least, will elapse before their return to you. In
that interval, you will have an opportunity of providing them with a
teacher worthier your regard and confidence; and, if I leave you at
once, you will not be put to inconvenience."
"I do not understand you."
"I must resign my office, sir," I said with trepidation.
"Resign? Wherefore? What have I said or done?"
"Let me beg your attention, sir, whilst I attempt to explain my
motives, and to do justice to myself and you. I mentioned the name
of Miss Fairman."
"You did. Ha! Go on, sir."
"You cannot blame me, Mr. Fairman, if I tell you that, in common
with every one whose happiness it is to be acquainted with that lady,
I have not been insensible to the qualities which render her so
worthy of your love, so deserving the esteem"--I stopped.
"I am listening, sir--proceed."
"I know not how to tell you, sir, in what language to express the
growth of an attachment which has taken root in this poor heart,
increased and strengthened against every effort which I have made to
"Sir!" uttered the incumbent in great amazement.
"Do not be angry, Mr. Fairman, until you have heard all. I confess
that I have been imprudent and rash, that I have foolishly permitted
a passion to take possession of my heart, instead of manfully
resisting its inroads; but if I have been weak, do not believe that
I have been wicked."
"Speak plainly, Stukely. What am I to understand by this?"
"That I have dared, sir, to indulge a fond, a hopeless love,
inspired by the gentlest and most innocent of her sex--that I have
striven, and striven, to forget and flee from it--that I have
failed--that I come to confess the fault, to ask your pardon, and
"Tell me one thing," asked the incumbent quickly. "Have you
communicated your sentiments to Miss Fairman?"
"I have, sir."
"Is her illness connected with that declaration?--You do not answer.
Stukely, I am deceived in you. I mistrust and doubt you. You have
_murdered_ my poor child."
"Mr. Fairman, do not, I entreat"--
"Heaven have mercy upon me for my wild uncrucified temper. I will
use no harsh terms. I retract that expression, young man. I am sorry
that I used it. Let me know what more you have to say."
The tears came to my eyes, and blinded them. I did not answer.
"Be seated, Stukely," continued the minister, in a kinder tone;
"compose yourself. I am to blame for using such a term. Forgive me
for it--I did not mean all that it conveyed. But you know how
fragile and how delicate a plant is that. You should have thought of
her and me before you gratified a passion as wild as it is idle. Now,
tell me every thing. Conceal and disguise nothing. I will listen to
your calmly, and I will be indulgent. The past is not to be recalled.
Aid me in the future, if you are generous and just."
I related all that had passed between Miss Fairman and myself--all
that had taken place in my own turbulent soul--the battlings of the
will and judgment, the determination to overcome temptation, and the
sudden and violent yielding to it. Faithful to his command, I
concealed nothing, and, at the close of all, I signified my readiness,
my wish, and my intention to depart.
"Forgive me, sir, at parting," said I, "and you shall hear no more of
the disturber of your peace."
"I do not wish that, Stukely. I am indebted to you for the candour
with which you have spoken, and the proper view which you take of
your position. I wish to hear of you, and to serve you--and I will
do it. I agree with you, that you must leave us now--yes, and at once;
and, as you say, without another interview. But I will not turn you
into the world, lad, without some provision for the present, and
good hopes for the future. I owe you much. Yes--very much. When I
consider how differently you might behave, how very seriously you
might interfere with my happiness"--as Mr. Fairman spoke, he opened
the drawer of a table, and drew a checque-book from it--"I feel that
you ought not to be a loser by your honesty. I do not offer you this
as a reward for that honesty--far from it--I would only indemnify
you--and this is my duty."
Mr. Fairman placed a draft for a hundred pounds in my hand.
"Pardon me, sir," said I, replacing it on his table. "I can take no
money. Millions could not _indemnify_ me for all that I resign.
Judge charitably, and think kindly of me, sir--and I am paid. Honour
"Well, but when you get to London?"--
"I am not altogether friendless. My salary is yet untouched, and will
supply my wants until I find employment."
"Which you shall not be long without, believe me, Stukely, if I have
power to get it you--and I think I have. You will tell me where I may
address my letters. I will not desert you. You shall not repent this."
"I do not, sir; and I believe I never shall. I propose to leave the
parsonage to-night, sir."
"No, to-morrow, we must have some talk. You need not see her. I
could not let you go to-night. You shall depart to-morrow, and I rely
upon your good sense and honourable feelings to avoid another meeting.
It could only increase the mischief that has already taken place, and
answer no good purpose. You must be aware of this."
"I am, sir. You shall have no reason to complain."
"I am sure of it, Stukely. You had better see about your preparations.
John will help you in any way you wish. Make use of him. There must
be many little things to do. There can be no impropriety, Stukely,
in your accepting the whole of your year's salary. You are entitled
to that. I am sorry to lose you--very--but there's no help for it. I
will come to your room this evening, and have some further
conversation. Leave me now." The incumbent was evidently much excited.
Love for his child, and apprehension for her safety, were feelings
that were, perhaps, too prominent and apparent in the good and
faithful minister of heaven; they betrayed him at times into a
self-forgetfulness, and a warmth of expression, of which he repented
heartily as soon as they occurred. Originally of a violent and
wayward disposition, it had cost the continual exercise and the
prayers of a life, to acquire evenness of temper and gentleness of
deportment, neither of which, in truth, was easily, if ever disturbed,
if not by the amiable infirmity above alluded to. He was the best of
men; but to the best, immunity from the natural weakness of
mortality is not to be vouchsafed.
Mr. Fairman was the last person whom I saw that night. He remained
with me until I retired to rest. He was the first person whom I saw
on the following morning. I do not believe that he did not rely upon
the word which I had pledged to him. I did not suppose that he
suspected my resolution, but I an convinced that he was most
restless and unhappy, from the moment that I revealed my passion to
him, until that which saw me safely deposited at the foot of the hill,
on my way to the village. So long as I remained in his house, he
could only see danger for his daughter; and with my disappearance he
counted upon her recovery and peace.
The incumbent was himself my companion from the parsonage. The
servant had already carried my trunk to the inn. At the bottom of
the hill, Mr. Fairman stopped and extended his hand.
"Fare-you-well, Stukely," said he, with emotion. "Once more, I am
obliged to you. I will never forget your conduct; you shall hear
Since the conversation of the preceding day, the incumbent had not
mentioned the name of his daughter. I had not spoken of her. I felt
it impossible to _part_ without a word.
"What did Doctor Mayhew say?" I asked.
"She is a little better, and will be soon quite well, we trust."
"That is good news. Is she composed?"
"Yes--she is better."
"One question more, sir. Does she know of my departure?"
"She does not--but she will, of course."
"Do not speak unkindly of me to her, sir. I should be sorry if she
"She will respect you, Stukely, for the part which you have acted.
She must do so. You will respect yourself."
I had nothing more to say, I returned his warm pressure, and bade
"God bless you, lad, and prosper you! We may meet again in a happier
season; but if we do not, receive a father's thanks and gratitude.
You have behaved nobly. I feel it--believe me."
Manly and generous tears rushed to the eyes of my venerable friend,
and he could not speak. Once more he grasped my hand fervently, and
in the saddest silence that I have ever known we separated.
There was gloom around my heart, which the bright sun in heaven, that
gladdened all the land, could not penetrate or disperse; but it gave
way before a touch of true affection, which came to me as a last
memorial of the beloved scene on which I lingered.
I had hardly parted from the minister, before I perceived walking
before me, at the distance of a few yards, the youngest of the lads
who had been my pupils. At the request of the minister, I had
neither taken leave of them nor informed any one of my departure.
The lad whom I now saw was a fine spirited boy, who had strongly
attached himself to me, and shown great aptitude, as well as deep
desire, for knowledge. He knew very little when I came to him, but
great pains had enabled him to advance rapidly. The interest which
he manifested, called forth in me a corresponding disposition to
assist him; and the grateful boy, altogether overlooking his own
exertions, had over and over again expressed himself in the warmest
terms of thankfulness for my instruction, to which he insisted he
owed all that he had acquired. He was in his eleventh year, and his
heart was as kind and generous as his intellect was vigorous and
clear. I came up to him, and found him plucking the wild-flowers
from the grass as he wandered slowly along. I looked at him as I
passed, and found him weeping.
"Alfred!" I exclaimed, "What do you here so early?"
The boy burst into a fresh flow of tears, and threw himself
passionately into my arms. He sobbed piteously, and at length said--
"Do not go, sir--do not leave me! You have been so kind to me. Pray,
"What is the matter Alfred?"
"John has told me you are going, sir. He has just taken your box down.
Oh, Mr. Stukely, stay for my sake! I won't give you so much trouble
as I used to do. I'll learn my lessons better--but don't go, pray,
"You will have another teacher, Alfred, who will become as good a
friend as I am. I cannot stay. Return to the parsonage--there's a
"Oh, if you must go, let me walk with you a little, sir! Let me take
your hand. I shall be back in time for breakfast--pray, don't refuse
me that, sir?"
I complied with his request. He grasped my palm in both his hands,
and held it there, as though he would not part with it again. He
gave me the flowers which he had gathered, and begged me to keep
them for his sake. He repeated every kind thing which I had done for
him, not one of which he would forget, and all the names and dates
which he had got by heart, to please his tutor. He told me that it
would make him wretched, "to get up to-morrow, and remember that I
was gone;" and that he loved me better than any body, for no one had
been so indulgent, and had taken such pains to make him a good boy.
Before we reached the village, his volubility had changed the tears
to smiles. As we reached it, John appeared on his return homeward. I
gave the boy into his charge, and the cloud lowered again, and the
shower fell heavier than ever. I turned at the point at which the
hills became shut out, and there stood the boy fastened to the spot
at which I had left him.
At the door of the inn, I was surprised to find my luggage in the
custody of Dr. Mayhew's gardener. As soon as he perceived me, he
advanced a few steps with the box, and placed note in my hand. It
was addressed to me at the parsonage, and politely requested me to
wait upon the physician at my earliest convenience. No mention was
made of the object of my visit, or of the doctor's knowledge of my
altered state. The document was as short as it might be, and as
courteous. Having read it, I turned to the gardener, or to where he
had stood a moment before, with the view of questioning that
gentleman; but to my great astonishment, I perceived him about a
hundred yards before me, walking as fast as his load permitted him
towards his master's residence. I called loudly after him, but my
voice only acted as a spur, and increased his pace. My natural
impulse was to follow him, and I obeyed it.
Dr. Mayhew received me with a very cunning smile and a facetious
"Well, Master Stukely, this hot weather has been playing the deuce
with us all. Only think of little puss being attacked with your
complaint, the very day you were here suffering so much from it, and
my getting a touch myself."
"Yes, sir, it is very easy to laugh at the troubles of other men,
but I can tell you this is a very disagreeable epidemic. Severe
times these for maids and bachelors. I shall settle in life now,
sooner than I intended. I have fallen in love with puss my self."
I did not smile.
"To be sure, I am old enough to be her father, but so much the better
for her. No man should marry till fifty. Your young fellows of twenty
don't know their own mind--don't understand what love means--all
blaze and flash, blue fire and sky-rocket--out in a minute. Eh, what
do you say, Stukely?"
"Are you aware, sir, that I have left the parsonage?"
"To be sure I am; and a pretty kettle of fish you have made of it.
Instead of treating love as a quiet and respectable undertaking, as
I mean to treat it--instead of simmering your love down to a
gentlemanly respect and esteem, as I mean to simmer it--and waiting
patiently for the natural consequences of things, as I mean to
wait--you must, like a boy as you are, have it all out in a minute,
set the whole house by the ears, and throw yourself out of it
without rhyme or reason, or profit to any body. Now, sit down, and
tell me what you mean to do with yourself?"
"I intend to go to London, sir."
"Does your father live there?"
"I have no father, sir."
"She is dead, too. I have one friend there--I shall go to him until
I find occupation."
"You naughty boy! How I should like to whip you! What right had you
to give away so good a chance as you have had? You have committed a
sin, sir--yes, you may look--you have, and a very grievous one. I
speak as I think. You have been flying in the face of Providence, and
doing worse than hiding the talent which was bestowed upon you for
improvement. Do you think I should have behaved so at your age? Do
you think any man in the last generation out of a madhouse would have
done it? Here's your march of education!"
I bowed to Doctor Mayhew, and wished him good-morning.
"No, thank you, sir," answered the physician, "if I didn't mean to
say a little more to you, I shouldn't have spoken so much already. We
must talk these matters over quietly. You may as well stay a few
days with your friend in the country as run off directly to the
gentleman in London. Besides, now I have made my mind up so suddenly
to get married, I don't know soon I may be called upon to undergo
the operation--I beg the lady's pardon--the awful ceremony. I shall
want a bride's-man, and you wouldn't make a bad one by any means."
The physician rang the bell, and Williams the butler--a personage in
black, short and stout, and exceedingly well fed, as his sleek face
showed--entered the apartment.
"Will you see, Williams, that Mr. Stukely's portmanteau is taken to
his room--bed quite aired--sheets all right, eh?"
"Both baked, sir," replied Williams with a deferential but expressive
smile, which became his face remarkably well.
"Then let us have lunch, Williams, and a bottle of _the_ sherry?"
A look accompanied the request, which was not lost upon the butler.
He made a profound obeisance, and retired. At lunch the doctor
continued his theme, and represented my conduct as most blameable
and improper. He insisted that I ought to be severely punished, and
made to feel that a boy is not to indulge every foolish feeling that
rises, just as he thinks proper, but, like an inconsistent judge, he
concluded the whole of a very powerful and angry summing up, by
pronouncing upon me the verdict of an acquittal--inasmuch as he told
me to make myself as comfortable as I could in his house, and to
enjoy myself thoroughly in it for the next fortnight to come, at the
very least. It may have been that, in considering my faults as those
of the degenerate age in which I lived--which age, however, be it
known, lived afterwards to recover its character, and to be held up
as a model of propriety and virtue to the succeeding generation--the
merciful doctor was willing to merge my chastisement in that which
he bestowed daily upon the unfortunate object of his contempt and
pity, or possibly he desired to inflict no punishment at all, but
simply to perform a duty incumbent upon his years and station. Be
this as it may, certain it is that with the luncheon ended all
upbraiding and rebuke, and commenced an unreservedness of
intercourse--the basis of a generous friendship, which increased and
strengthened day by day, and ended only with the noble-hearted
doctor's life--nor then in its effects upon my character and fortune.
It was on the night of the day on which I had arrived, that Doctor
Mayhew and I were sitting in his _sanctum_; composedly and happily as
men sit whom care has given over for a moment to the profound and
stilly influences of the home and hearth. One topic of conversation
had given place easily to another, and there seemed at length little
to be said on any subject whatever, when the case of the idiot,
which my own troubles had temporarily dismissed from my mind,
suddenly occurred to me, and afforded us motive for the prolongation
of a discourse, which neither seemed desirous to bring to a close.
"What have you done with the poor fellow?" I enquired.
"Nothing," replied the physician. "We have fed him well, and his food
has done him good. He is a hundred per cent better than when he came;
but he is still surly and tongue-tied. He says nothing. He is not
known in the neighbourhood. I have directed hand-bills to be
circulated, and placards to be posted in the villages. If he is not
owned within a week, he must be given to the parish-officers. I
can't help thinking that he is a runaway lunatic, and a gentleman by
birth. Did you notice his delicate white hand, that diamond ring, and
the picture they found tied round his neck?"
"What picture, sir?"
"Did I not tell you of it? The portrait of a lovely female--an old
attachment, I suppose, that turned his brain, although I fancy
sometimes that it is his mother or sister, for there is certainly a
resemblance to himself in it. The picture is set in gold. When Robin
first discovered it, the agony of the stricken wretch was most
deplorable. He was afraid that the man would remove it, and he
screamed and implored like a true maniac. When he found that he
might keep it, he evinced the maddest pleasure, and beckoned his
keeper to notice and admire it. He pointed to the eyes, and then
groaned and wept himself; until Robin was frightened out of his wits,
and was on the point of throwing up his office altogether."
"Do you think the man may recover his reason?"
"I have no hope of it. It is a case of confirmed fatuity I believe.
If you like to see him again, you shall accompany me to-morrow when
I visit him. What a strange life is this, Stukely! What a strange
history may be that of this poor fellow whom Providence has cast at
our door! Well, poor wretch, we'll do the best we can for him. If we
cannot reach his mind, we may improve his body, and he will be then
perhaps quite as happy as the wisest of us."
The clock struck twelve as Doctor Mayhew spoke. It startled and
surprised us both. In a few minutes we separated and retired to our
When I saw the idiot on the following day, I could perceive a marked
improvement in his appearance. The deadly pallor of his countenance
had departed; and although no healthy colour had taken its place,
the living blood seemed again in motion, restoring expression to
those wan and withered features. His coal-black eye had recovered
the faintest power of speculation, and the presence of a stranger
was now sufficient to call it into action. He was clean and properly
attired, and he sat--apart from his keeper--conscious of existence.
There was good ground, in the absence of all positive proof, for the
supposition of the doctor. A common observer would have pronounced
him well-born at a glance. Smitten as he was, and unhinged by his sad
affliction, there remained still sufficient of the external forms to
conduct to such an inference. Gracefulness still hovered about the
human ruin, discernible in the most aimless of imbecility's weak
movements, and the limbs were not those of one accustomed to the
drudgery of life. A melancholy creature truly did he look, as I gazed
upon him for a second time. He had carried his chair to a corner of
the room, and there he sat, his face half-hidden, resting upon his
breast, his knee drawn up and pressed tightly by his clasped
hands--those very hands, small and marble-white, forming a ghastful
contrast to the raven hair that fell thickly on his back. He had not
spoken since he rose. Indeed, since his first appearance, he had said
nothing but the unintelligible word which he had uttered four times
in my presence, and which Dr. Mayhew now believed to be the name of
the lady whose portrait he wore. That he could speak was certain,
and his silence was therefore the effect of obstinacy or of absolute
weakness of intellect, which forbade the smallest mental effort. I
approached him, and addressed him in accents of kindness. He raised
his head slowly, and looked piteously upon me, but in a moment again
he resumed his original position.
For the space of a week I visited the afflicted man dally, remaining
with him perhaps a couple of hours at each interview. No clue had
been discovered to his history, and the worthy physician had fixed
upon one day after another as that upon which he would relieve
himself of his trust; but the day arrived only to find him unwilling
to keep his word. The poor object himself had improved rapidly in
personal appearance, and, as far as could be ascertained from his
gestures and indistinct expressions, was sensible of his protector's
charity, and thankful for it. He now attempted to give to his keeper
the feeble aid he could afford him; he partook of his food with less
avidity, he seemed aware of what was taking place around him. On one
occasion I brought his dinner to him, and sat by whilst it was served
to him. He stared at me as though he had immediate perception of
something unusual. It was on the same day that, whilst trifling with
a piece of broken glass, he cut his hand. I closed the wound with an
adhesive plaster, and bound it up. It was the remembrance of this
act that gained for me the affection of the creature, in whom all
actions seemed dried up and dead. When, on the day that succeeded to
this incident, Robin, as was his custom, placed before the idiot his
substantial meal, the latter turned away from it offended, and would
not taste it. I was sent for. The eyes of the imbecile glistened
when I entered the apartment, and he beckoned me to him. I sat at
his side, as I had done on the day before, and he then, with a smile
of triumph, took his food on his knees, and soon devoured it. When
he had finished, and Robin had retired with the tray and implements,
the poor fellow made me draw my chair still nearer to his own. He
placed his hand upon my knee in great delight, patted it, and then
the wound which I had dressed. There was perfect folly in the mode
in which he fondled this, and yet a reasonableness which the heart
could not fail to detect and contemplate with emotion. First, he
gently stroked it, then placed his head upon it in utmost tenderness,
then hugged it in his arm and rocked it as a child, then kissed it
often with short quick kisses that could scarce be heard; courting
my observation with every change of action, making it apparent how
much he loved, what care he could bestow, upon the hand which had
won the notice and regard of his new friend and benefactor. This over,
he pointed to his breast, dallied for a time, and then drew from it
the picture which he so jealously carried there. He pressed it
between his hands, sighed heavily from his care-crazed heart, and
strove to tell his meaning in words which would not flow, in which
he knew not how to breathe the bubble-thought that danced about his
brain. Closer than ever he approached me, and, with an air which he
intended for one of confidence and great regard, he invited me to
look upon his treasure. I did so, and, to my astonishment and
terror--gazed upon the portrait of the unhappy EMMA HARRINGTON.
Gracious God! what thoughts came rushing into my mind! It was
impossible to err. I, who had passionately dwelt upon those
lineaments in all the fondness of a devoted love, until the form
became my heart's companion by day and night--I, who had watched the
teardrops falling from those eyes, in which the limner had not
failed to fix the natural sorrow that was a part of them--watched
and hung upon them in distress and agony--I, surely I, could not
mistake the faithful likeness. Who, then, was _he_ that wore it? Who
was this, now standing at my side, to turn to whom again became
immediately--sickness--horror! Who could it be but him, the miserable
parricide--the outcast--the unhappy brother--the desperately wicked
son! There was no other in the world to whom the departed penitent
could be dear; and he--oh, was it difficult to suppose that merciful
Heaven, merciful to the guiltiest, had placed between his conscience
and his horrible offence a cloud that made all dim--had rendered his
understanding powerless to comprehend a crime which reason must have
punished and aggravated endlessly My judgment was prostrated by what
I learned so suddenly and fearfully. The discovery had been
miraculous. What should I do? How proceed? How had the youth got here?
What had been his history since his flight? Whither was he wandering?
Did he know the fate of his poor sister? How had he lived? These
questions, and others, crowded into my mind one after another, and I
trembled with the violent rapidity of thought. The figure of the
unhappy girl presented itself--her words vibrated on my ears--her
last dying accents; and I felt that to me was consigned the wretched
object of her solicitude and love--that to me Providence had
directed the miserable man; yes, if only that he who had shared in
the family guilt, might behold and profit by the living witness of
the household wreck. Half forgetful of the presence of the brother,
and remembering nothing well but _her_ and her most pitiable tale,
oppressed by a hundred recollections, I pronounced her name.
"Poor, poor, much-tried Emma!" I ejaculated, gazing still upon her
image. The idiot leaped from my side at the word, and clapped his
hands, and laughed and shrieked. He ran to me again, and seized my
palm, and pressed it to his lips. His excitement was unbounded. He
could only point to the picture, endeavour to repeat the word which
I had spoken, and direct his finger to my lips beseechingly, as
though he _prayed_ to hear the sound again. Alarmed already at what
I had done, and dreading the consequences of a disclosure, because
ignorant of the effect it would produce upon the idiot, I checked
myself immediately, and spake no more. Robin returned. I contrived
to subdue by degrees the sudden ebullition, and having succeeded, I
restored the criminal to his keeper, and departed.
It was however, necessary that I should act in some way, possessed of
the information which had so strangely come to me. I desired to be
alone to collect myself, and to determine quietly. I retired to my
bedroom, endeavoured to think composedly, and to mark out the line
of duty. It was a fruitless undertaking. My mind would rest on
nothing but the tragedy in which this miserable creature held so sad
a part, and his unlooked-for resuscitation here--here, under the
roof which sheltered his sister's paramour. Whether to keep the
secret hidden in my bosom, or to communicate it to the physician,
was my duty, I could not settle now. It had been a parting injunction
of my friend Thompson to sleep upon all matters of difficulty, and
to avoid rashness above all things. Alas! I had not profited by his
counsel, nor, in my own case, recurred to it, even for a moment; but
it was different now. The fate, perhaps the life, of another was
involved in my decision; and not to act upon the good advice, not to
be temperate and cautious, would be sinful in the extreme. What, had
she been alive, would the sister have required--entreated at my hands?
And now, if the freed spirit of the injured one looked down upon the
world, what would it expect from him to whom had been committed the
forlorn and stricken wanderer? What if not justice, charity, and
mercy? "And he shall have it!" I exclaimed. "I will act on his behalf.
I will be cool and calm. I will do nothing until tomorrow, when the
excitement of this hour shall have passed away, and reason resumed
its proper influence and rule."
I rose, contented with my conclusion, and walked to the window, which
overlooked the pleasure-garden of the house. Robin and his patient
were there; the former sitting on a garden chair, and reposing
comfortably after his meal, heedless of the doings of his charge.
The latter stood immediately below the window, gazing upwards, with
the portrait as before pressed between his marble hands. He perceived
me, and screamed in triumph and delight. The keeper started up; I
vanished instantly. He surely could not have known the situation of
my room--could not have waited there and watched for my appearance.
It was impossible. Yes, I said so, and I attempted to console myself
with the assurance; but my blood curdled with a new conviction that
arose and clung to me, and would not be cast off--the certainty that,
by the utterance of one word, I had, for good or ill, linked to my
future destiny the reasonless and wretched being, who stood and
shrieked beneath the casement long after I was gone.
I joined my friend, the doctor, as usual in the evening, and learnt
from him the news of the day. He had visited his patient at the
parsonage, and he spoke favourably of her case. Although she had
been told of my absence, she was still not aware that I had quitted
the house for ever. Her father thought she was less unquiet, and
believed that in a few days all would be forgotten, and she would be
herself again. Doctor Mayhew assured me that nothing could be kinder
than the manner in which the incumbent spoke of me, and that it was
impossible for any man to feel a favour more deeply than he appeared
to appreciate the consideration which I had shown for him. The
doctor had been silent as to my actual presence in the vicinity,
which, he believed, to have mentioned, would have been to fill the
anxious father's heart with alarms and fears, which, groundless as
they were, might be productive of no little mischief. I acquiesced
in the propriety of his silence, and thanked him for his prudence.
Whilst my friend was speaking, I heard a quick and heavy footstep
on the stairs, which, causing me to start upon the instant, and
hurling sickness to my heart, clearly told, had doubt existed,
how strongly apprehension had fixed itself upon me, and how
certainly and inextricably I had become connected with the object
of my dark and irresistible conceptions. I had no longer an ear for
Doctor Mayhew, but the sense followed the footstep until it reached
the topmost stair--passed along the passage--and stopped--suddenly
at our door. Almost before it stopped, the door was knocked at
violently--quickly--loudly. Before an answer could be given, the
door itself was opened, and Robin rushed in--scared.
"What is the matter?" I exclaimed, jumping up, and dreading to hear
him tell what I felt must come--another tale of horror--another
crime--what less than _self-destruction_?
"He's gone, sir--he's gone!" roared the fellow, white as death, and
shaking like an aspen.
"Gone--how--who?" enquired the doctor.
"The madman, sir," answered Robin, opening his mouth, and raising
his eyebrows, to exhibit his own praiseworthy astonishment at the
"Go on, man," said the doctor. "What have you to say further? How
did it happen? Quick!"
"I don't know, sir. I eat something for dinner as disagreed. I have
been as sleepy as an owl ever since. We was together in his room,
and I just sot down for a minute to think what it could be as I
_had_ eaten, when I dozed off directly--and when I opened my eyes
again, not quite a minute arterwards, I couldn't find him
nowheres--and nobody can't neither, and we've been searching the
house for the last half hour."
"Foolish fellow--how long was this ago?"
"About an hour, sir."
The doctor said not another word, but taking a candle from the table,
quitted the room, and hurried down stairs. I followed him, and Robin,
almost frightened out of his wits, trod upon my heel and rubbed
against my coat, in his eagerness not to be left behind me. The
establishment was, as it is said, at sixes and sevens. All was
disorder and confusion, and hustling into the most remote corner of
the common room. Mr. Williams especially was very much unsettled. He
stood in the rear of every body else, and looked deathly white. It
was he who ejaculated something upon the sudden entrance of his
master, and was the cause of all the other ejaculations which
followed quickly from every member of the household. Doctor Mayhew
commanded order, and was not long in bringing it about. The house
was searched immediately Wherever it was supposed that the idiot
might hide himself, diligent enquiry was made; cupboards, holes,
corners, and cellars. It was in vain. He certainly had escaped. The
gardens and paddocks, and fields adjacent were scoured, and with like
success. There was no doubt of it--the idiot was gone--who could tell
whither? After two hours' unprofitable labour, Doctor Mayhew was
again in his library, very much disturbed in mind, and reproaching
himself bitterly for his procrastination. "Had I acted," said he,
"upon my first determination, this would never have happened, and my
part in the business would have been faithfully performed. As it is,
if any mischief should come to that man, I shall never cease to
blame myself, and to be considered the immediate cause of it." I made
no reply. I _could_ say nothing. His escape occurring so soon after
my identification of the unfortunate creature, had bewildered and
confounded me. I could not guess at the motive of his flight, nor
conceive a purpose to which it was likely the roused maniac would
aspire; but I was satisfied--yes, too satisfied, for to think of it
was to chill and freeze the heart's warm blood--that the revelation
of the day and his removal were in close connexion. Alas, I dared
not speak, although my fears distracted me whilst I continued dumb!
Arrangements were at last made for watching both within and without
the house during the night--messengers were dispatched to the
contiguous villages, and all that could be done for the recovery of
the runaway was attempted. It was already past twelve o'clock when
Dr. Mayhew insisted upon my retiring to rest. I did not oppose his
wish. He was ill at ease, and angry with himself. Maintaining the
silence which I had kept during the evening, I gave him my hand, and
took my leave.
I thought I should have dropped dead in the room when, lost in a deep
reverie, I opened my chamber-door, and discovered, sitting at the
table, the very man himself. _There the idiot sat_, portrait in hand,
encountering me with a look of unutterable sorrowfulness. He must
have hid himself amongst the folds of the curtains, for this room,
as well as the rest, was looked into, and its cupboards investigated.
I recoiled with sudden terror, and retreated, but the wretch clasped
his hands in agony, and implored me in gestures which could not be
mistaken, to remain. I recovered, gained confidence, and forbore.
"What do you desire with me?" I asked quickly. "Can you speak? Do you
understand me?" The unhappy man dropped on his knees, and took my
hand--cried like a beaten child--sobbed and groaned. He raised the
likeness of his sister to my eyes, and then I saw the fire sparkling
in his own lustrous orb, and the supplication bursting from it, that
was not to be resisted. He pointed to his mouth, compelled an
inarticulate sound, and looked at me again, to assure me that he had
spoken all his faculties permitted him. He waited for any answer.
Melted with pity for the bruised soul before me, I could no longer
deny him the gratification he besought.
"Emma!" I ejaculated; "Emma Harrington!"
He wept aloud, and kissed my hand, and put my arm upon his breast,
and caressed it with his own weak head. I permitted the affectionate
creature to display his childish gratitude, and then, taking him by
the wrist, I withdrew him from the room. An infant could not have
been more docile with its nurse. In another moment he was again in
It was in vain that I strove to fall asleep, and to forget the
circumstances of the day--in vain that I endeavored to carry out the
resolution which I had taken to my pillow. Gladly would I have
expelled all thought of the idiot from my mind, and risen on the
morrow, prepared by rest and sweet suspension of mental labour for
profitable deliberation. Sound as was the advice of my friend, and
anxious as I was to follow it, obedience rested not with me, and was
impossible. Should I make known the history of the man? Should I
discover his crime? This was the question that haunted my repose,
and knocked at my ears until my labouring brain ached in its
confusion. What might be the effect of a disclosure upon the future
existence of the desolate creature, should he ever recover his reason?
Must he not suffer the extreme penalty of the law? It was dreadful
to think that his life should be forfeited through, and only through,
my agency. There were reasons again equally weighty, why I should
not conceal the facts which were in my possession. How I should have
determined at length, I know not, if an argument--founded on
selfishness had not stepped in and turned the balance in favour of
the idiot. Alas, how easy is it to decide when self-interest
interposes with its intelligence and aid! Neither Mr. Fairman nor
Doctor Mayhew knew of my connexion with the unfortunate Emma
Harrington. To expose the brother would be to commit myself. I was
not yet prepared to acknowledge to the father of Miss Fairman, or to
his friend, the relation that I had borne to that poor girl. And why
not? If to divulge the secret were an act of justice, why should I
hesitate to do it on account of the incumbent, with whom I had
broken off all intercourse for ever? Ah, did I in truth believe that
our separation had been final? Or did I harbour, perhaps against
reason and conviction, a hope, a thought of future reconciliation, a
shadowy yet not weak belief that all might yet end happily, and that
fortune still might favour love! With such faint hope, and such
belief, I must have bribed myself to silence, for I left my couch
resolved to keep my secret close. Doctor Mayhew was deep in the
contemplation of a map when I joined him at the breakfast-table. He
did not take his eyes from it when I entered the apartment, and he
continued his investigations some time after I had taken my seat. He
raised his head at last, and looked hard at me, apparently without
perceiving me, and then he resumed his occupation without having
spoken a syllable: after a further study of five or ten minutes, he
shook his head, and pressed his lips, and frowned, and stroked his
chin, as though he was just arriving at the borders of a notable and
great discovery. "It will be strange indeed!" he muttered to himself.
"How can we find it out?"
I did not break the thread of cogitation.
"Well," continued Doctor Maybew, "he must leave this house, at
all events. I will run the risk of losing him no longer. I will
write this morning to the overseer. Yet I _should_ like to
know--really--it may be, after all, the case. Stukely, lad, look here.
What county is this?" he continued, placing his finger on the map.
Somerset was written in the corner of it, and accordingly I answered.
"Very well," replied the doctor. "Now, look here. Read this. What do
these letters spell?"
He pointed to some small characters, which formed evidently the name
of a village that stood upon the banks of a river of some magnitude.
I spelt them as he desired, and pronounced, certainly to my own
surprise, the word--"_Belton_."
"Just so. Well, what do you say to that? I think I have hit it.
That's the fellow's home. I never thought of that before, and I
shouldn't now, if I hadn't had occasion for the road-book. It was
the first thing that caught my eye. Now--how can we find it out?"
"It is difficult!" said I.
"It is likely enough, you see. What should bring him so far westward,
if he hadn't some object? He was either wandering from or to his home,
depend upon it, when the gypsies found him. If Belton be his home,
his frequent repetition of the word was natural enough. Eh, don't
you see it?"
"Certainly," said I.
"Very well; then, what's to be done?"
"I cannot tell," I answered.
The doctor rung the bell.
"Is Robin up yet?" he asked, when Williams came in to answer it.
"He is, sir."
"And the man?"
"Both, sir. They have just done breakfast."
"Very well, Williams, you may go. Now, follow me, Stukely," continued
the physician, the moment that the butler had departed. "I'll do it
now. I am a physiognomist, and I'll tell you in the twinkling of an
eye if we are right, You mark him well, and so will I." The doctor
seized his map and road book, and before I could speak was out of
the room. When I overtook him, he had already reached the idiot, and
My friend commenced his operations by placing the map and book upon
the table, and closely scanning the countenance of his patient, in
order to detect and fix the smallest alteration of expression in the
coming examination. He might have spared himself the trouble. The
idiot had no eye for him. When I appeared he ran to me, and
manifested the most extravagant delight. He grasped my hand, and
drew me to his chair, and there detained me. He did not introduce
his treasure, but I could not fail to perceive that he intended to
repeat the scene of the previous day, as soon as we were again alone.
I did not wish to afford him opportunity, and I gladly complied with
the physician's request when he called upon me to interrogate the
idiot, in the terms he should employ. He had already himself applied
to the youth, but neither for himself nor his questions could he
obtain the slightest notice. The eye, the heart, and, such as it was,
the mind of the idiot, were upon his sister's friend.
"Ask him, Stukely," began the doctor, "if he has ever been in
I did so, and, in truth, the word roused from their long slumber, or
we believed they did, recollections that argued well for the
physician's theory. The idiot raised his brow, and smiled.
The doctor referred to his map, and said, whispering as before,
"Mention the river Parret."
I could not doubt that the name had been familiar to the unhappy man.
He strove to speak, and could not, but he nodded his head
affirmatively and quickly, and the expression of his features
corroborated the strong testimony.
"Now--_Belton_?" added the doctor.
I repeated the word, and then the agony of supplication which I had
witnessed once before, was re-enacted, and the shrill and incoherent
cries burst from his afflicted breast.
"I am satisfied!" exclaimed the doctor, shutting his book. "He shall
leave my house for Belton this very afternoon."
And so he did, In an hour, arrangements were in progress for his
departure, and I was his guardian and companion. Robin, as soon as
Dr. Mayhew's intention was known, refused to have any thing more to
say, either inside the house or out of it, to the _devil incarnate_,
as he was pleased to call the miserable man. If his place depended
upon his taking charge of him, he was ready to resign it. There was
not another man whom the physician seemed disposed to trust, and in
his difficulty he glanced at me. I understood his meaning. He
proceeded to express his surprise and pleasure at finding an
attachment so strong towards me on the part of the idiot. "It was
remarkable," he said--"very! And what a pity it was that he hadn't
cultivated the same regard for somebody else. A short journey
_then_, to Somerset, would have been the easiest thing in the world.
Nothing but to pop into the coach, to go to an inn on arriving in
Belton, and to make enquiries, which, no doubt, would be
satisfactorily answered in less than no time. Yes, really, it was a
The doctor looked at me again, and then I had already determined to
meet the request he was not bold to ask. I believed, equally with the
physician, from the conduct and expressions of young Harrington, that
the riddle of his present condition waited for explanation in the
village, whose name seemed like a load upon his heart, and
constituted the whole of his discourse since he had arrived amongst
us. It was there he yearned to be. It was necessary only to mention
the word to throw him into an agitation, which it took hours entirely
to dissipate. Yes, for a reason well known to him and hidden from us
all, his object, his only object as it appeared, was to be removed,
and to be conducted thither. I had but one reason for rejecting the
otherwise well sustained hypothesis of my friend. During my whole
intercourse with Emma, I had never heard her speak of Somerset or
Belton, and in her narrative no allusion was made either to the
shire or village. In what way, then, could it be so intimately
connected with her brother--whence was the origin of the hold which
this one word had taken of his shattered brain? I could not guess.
But, on the other hand, it was true that I was ignorant of his
history subsequently to the fearful death of his most sinful father.
How could I tell what new events had arisen, what fresh relations
might have sprung up, to attach and bind him to one particular spot
of ground? Urged by curiosity to discover all that yet remained to
know of his career, and more by a natural and strong desire to serve
the youth--not to desert him in the hour of his extremity--I resolved,
with the first hint of the doctor, to become myself the fellow
traveller of his _protege_. I told him so, and the doctor shook me by
the hand, and thanked me heartily.
That very evening we were on our road, for our preparations were not
extensive. My instructions were to carry him direct to Belton, to
ascertain, if possible, from his movements the extent of his
acquaintance with the village, and to present him at all places of
resort, in the hope of having him identified. Two days were granted
for our stay. If he should be unknown, we were then to return, and
Doctor Mayhew would at once resign him to the parish. These were his
words at parting. We had no opposition in the idiot. His happiness
was perfect whilst I remained with him. He followed me eagerly
whithersoever I went, and was willing to be led, so long as I
continued guide. I took my seat in the coach, and he placed himself
at my side, trembling with joyousness, and laughing convulsively.
Once seated, he grasped my hand as usual, and did not, through the
livelong night, relinquish it altogether. A hundred affectionate
indications escaped him, and in the hour of darkness and of quiet,
it would have been easy to suppose that an innocent child was
nestling near me, _homeward bound_, and, in the fulness of its
expectant bliss, lavish of its young heartfelt endearments. Yes, it
would have been, but for other thoughts, blacker than the night
itself--how much more fearful!--which rendered every sign of
fondness a hollow, cold, and dismal mockery. Innocence! Alas, poor
In the morning the sun streamed into the coach, of which we were the
only inside passengers. Dancing and playing came the light, now here,
now there, skipping along the seat, and settling nowhere--cheerful
visitant, and to the idiot something more, for he gazed upon it, and
followed its fairy motion, lost in wonder and delight. He looked
from the coach-window, and beheld the far-spreading fields of beauty
with an eye awakened from long lethargy and inaction. He could not
gaze enough. And the voice of nature made giddy the sense of hearing
that drank intoxication from the notes of birds, the gurgling of a
brook, the rustling of a thousand leaves. His feeble powers, taken by
surprise, were vanquished by the summer's loveliness. Once, when our
coach stopped, a peasant girl approached us with a nosegay, which
she entreated me to buy. My fellow-traveller was impatient to obtain
it. I gave it to him, and, for an hour, all was neglected for the toy.
He touched the flowers one by one, viewed them attentively and
lovingly, as we do children whom we have known, and watched, and
loved from infancy--now caressing this, now smiling upon that. What
recollections did they summon in the mind of the destitute and
almost mindless creature? What pictures rose there?--pictures that
may never be excluded from the soul of man, however dim may burn the
intellectual light. His had been no happy boyhood, yet, in the
wilderness of his existence, there must have been vouchsafed to him
in mercy the few green spots that serve to attach to earth the most
afflicted and forlorn of her sad children. How natural for the
glimpses to revisit the broken heart, thus employed, thus roused and
animated by the light of heaven, rendering all things beautiful and
As we approached the village, my companion ceased to regard his
many-coloured friends with the same exclusive attention and unmixed
delight. His spirits sank--his joy fled. Clouds gathered across his
brow; he withdrew his hand from mine, and he sat for an hour,
brooding. He held the neglected nosegay before him, and plucked the
pretty leaves one by one--not conscious, I am sure, of what he did.
In a short time, every flower was destroyed, and lay in its
fragments before him. Then, as if stung by remorse for the cruel act,
or shaken by the heavy thoughts that pressed upon his brain, he
covered his pallid face, and groaned bitterly. What were those
thoughts? How connected with the resting-place towards which we were
hastening rapidly? My own anxiety became intense.
The village of Belton, situated near the mouth, and at the broadest
part of the river Parret, consisted of one long narrow street, and a
few houses scattered here and there on the small eminences which
sheltered it. The adjacent country was of the same character as that
which we had quitted--less luxuriant, perhaps, but still rich and
striking. We arrived at mid-day. I determined to alight at the inn
at which the coach put up, and to make my first enquiries there.
From the moment that we rattled along the stones that formed the
entrance to the village, an unfavourable alteration took place in my
companion. He grew excited and impatient; and his lips quivered, and
his eyes sparkled, as I had never seen them before. I was satisfied
that we had reached the object of his long desire, and that in a few
minutes the mysterious relation in which he stood to the place would
be ascertained. "He MUST be known," I continued to repeat to myself;
"the first eye that falls on him, will recognize him instantly." We
reached the inn; we alighted. The landlord and the ostler came to
the coach door, and received us with extreme civility, and the
former assisted the idiot in his eager endeavour to reach the
ground--I watched the action, expecting him to start, to speak, to
claim acquaintance--and having completed the polite intention, he
stood smiling and scraping. I looked at him, then at the idiot, and
saw at once that they were strangers. A dozen idlers stood about the
door. I waited for a recognition: none came.
Seated in the parlour of the inn, I asked to see the landlady. The
sight of the idiot caused as little emotion in her, as it had
produced in her husband. I ordered dinner for him. Whilst it was
preparing, I engaged the landlord in conversation at the door. I did
not wish to speak before young Harrington. I dared not leave him. I
enquired, first, if the face of the idiot were familiar to him. I
received for answer, that the man had never seen him in his life
before, nor had his wife.
"Do you know the name of Harrington?" said I.
"No--never heard on it," was the reply.
"Many Joneses hereabouts, sir," said the landlord, "but none of that
there Christian name."
The excitement of the idiot did not abate. He would not touch his
food nor sit quietly, but he walked swiftly up and down the room,
breathing heavily, and trembling with increasing agitation. He urged
me in his own peculiar way to leave the house and walk abroad. He
pointed to the road and strove to speak. The attempt was fruitless,
and he paced the room again, wringing his hands and sighing
sorrowfully. At length I yielded to his request, and we were again
in the village, I following whithersoever he led me. He ran through
the street, like a madman as he was, bringing upon him the eyes of
every one, and outstripping me speedily. He stopped for a moment to
collect himself--looked round as though he had lost his way, and
knew not whither to proceed; then bounded off again, the hunted deer
not quicker in his flight, and instantly was out of sight. Without
the smallest hope of seeing him again, I pursued the fugitive, and,
as well as I could guess it, continued in his track. For half a mile
I traced his steps, and then I lost them. His last footmark was at
the closed gate of a good-sized dwelling house. The roof and highest
windows only of the habitation were to be discerned from the path,
and these denoted the residence of a wealthy man. He could have no
business here--no object. "He must have passed," thought I,
"upon the other side." I was about to cross the road, when I
perceived, at the distance of a few yards, a man labouring in a field.
I accosted him, and asked if he had seen the idiot.
No--he had not. He was sure that nobody had passed by him for hours.
He must have seen the man if he had come that way.
"Whose house is that?" I asked, not knowing _why_ I asked the
"What? that?" said he, pointing to the gate. "Oh, that's Squire
The name dropped like a knife upon my heart. I could not speak. I
must have fallen to the earth, if the man, seeing me grow pale as
death, had not started to his feet, and intercepted me. I trembled
with a hundred apprehensions. My throat was dry with fright, and I
thought I should have choked. What follows was like a hideous dream.
The gate was opened suddenly. JAMES TEMPLE issued from it, and
passed me like an arrow. He was appalled and terrorstricken. Behind
him--within six feet--almost upon him, yelling fearfully, was the
brother of the girl he had betrayed and ruined--his friend and
schoolfellow, the miserable Frederick Harrington. I could perceive
that he held aloft, high over his head, the portrait of his sister.
It was all I saw and could distinguish. Both shot by me. I called to
the labourer to follow; and fast as my feet could carry me, I went on.
Temple fell. Harrington was down with him. I reached the spot. The
hand of the idiot was on the chest of the seducer, and the picture
was thrust in agony before his shuddering eyes. There was a
struggle--the idiot was cast away--and Temple was once more dashing
onward. "On, on!--after him!" shrieked the idiot. They reached the
river's edge. "What now--what now?" I exclaimed, beholding them from
afar, bewildered and amazed. The water does not restrain the scared
spirit of the pursued. He rushes on, leaps in, and trusts to the
swift current. So also the pursuer, who, with one long, loud
exclamation of triumph, still with his treasure in his grasp,
springs vehemently forward, and sinks, once and for ever. And the
betrayer beats his way onward, aimless and exhausted, but still he