Part 13 out of 15
opinion. But of course you are not cool enough to see all this just at
"Cool, sir," said Alfred despairingly; "I am frozen with your remorseless
law. What, of all these villains, may I only attack one, and can't I
imprison even him, as he has me? Such narrow law encourages men to
violence, who burn under wrongs like mine."
Mr. Compton looked keenly at his agitated, mortified client, but made no
concession. He gave him a minute to digest the law's first bitter pill:
and then said, "If I am to act for you, you had better write a line to
the Commissioners of Lunacy requesting them to hand me copies of the
order and certificates." Alfred wrote it.
"And now," said Mr. Compton thoughtfully, " I don't think they will
venture to recapture you during the fourteen days. But still they might;
and we attorneys are wary animals. So please give me at once a full
authority to act under advice of counsel for your protection."
Alfred wrote as requested, and Mr. Compton put the paper in his drawer,
remarking, "With this I can proceed by law or equity, even should you get
into the asylum again." He then dismissed Alfred somewhat abruptly, but
with an invitation to call again after three clear days. Like most ardent
suitors after their first interview with passionless law, he went away
sadly chilled, and so home to his cheerless lodging, to count the hours
till he could see Julia, and learn his fate from her lips.
This very morning a hasty note came to Edward from Folkestone, worded
"Oh, Edward: my worst misgivings! The two have parted. Poor papa has
taken a man's boat and is in sight. We shall follow directly in a
steamboat. But the other! You know my fears; you must be father and
mother to that poor child till I come home--Your sad mother,
Julia held out her hand for the note. Edward put it in his pocket.
"What is that for?" said the young lady.
"Why surely I may put my own property in my pocket."
"Oh, certainly. I only want to look at it first."
"Are you in earnest, Edward? Not let me see dear mamma's letter?" and the
vivid face looked piteously surprised.
"Oh, I'll tell you the contents. Papa had got to Folkestone and taken a
boat, and gone to sea: then mamma took a steamboat and after him: so she
will soon catch him, and is not that a comfort?"
"Oh, yes," cried Julia, and was for some time too interested and excited
to think of anything else. But presently she returned to the charge.
"Anything else, dear?"
"Humph? Well, not of equal importance."
"Oh, if it is of no importance, there can be no reason for not telling
me. What was it?"
Edward coloured but said nothing. He thought however, and thus ran his
thoughts: "She's my intellectual superior and I've got to deceive her;
and a nice mess I shall make of it."
It _is_ of importance," said Julia, eyeing him. "You have told a story:
and you don't love your sister." This fulminated, she drew herself up
proudly and was silent. A minute afterwards, stealing a look at her, he
saw her eyes suddenly fill with tears, _apropos_ of nothing tangible.
"Now this is nice," said he to himself
At noon she put on her bonnet to visit her district. He put on his hat
directly, and accompanied her. Great was her innocent pleasure at that:
it was the first time he had done her the honour. She took him to her
poor people, and showed him off with innocent pride.
"Hannah, this is my brother." Then in a whisper, "Isn't he beautiful?"
Presently she saw him looking pale; unheard of phenomenon! "There now,
you are ill," said she. "Come home directly, and be nursed."
"No, no," said he. "I only want a little fresh air. What horrid places
what horrid sights and smells! I say, you must have no end of pluck to
"No, no, no. Dearest, I pray for strength: that is how I manage. And oh,
Edward, you used to think the poor were not to be pitied. But now you
"Yes, I see, and smell and all. You are a brave, good girl. Got any salts
"Yes, of course. There. But fancy a young lion smelling salts."
"A young duffer, you mean; that has passed for game through the thing not
being looked into close."
"Oh, you can he close enough, where I want you to be open."
The next day he accompanied her again, but remained at the stairfoot
while she went in to her patients; and, when she came down, asked her,
Could no good Christian be found to knock that poor woman on the head who
lived in a plate.
"No good Heathen, you mean," said Julia.
"Why, yes," said he; "the savages manage these things better."
He also accompanied her shopping, and smoked phlegmatically outside the
shops; nor could she exhaust his patience. Then the quick girl put this
and that together. When they were at home again and her bonnet off, she
looked him in the face and said sweetly, "I have got a watch-dog." He
smiled, and said nothing. "Why don't you answer?" cried Julia
"Because least said is soonest mended. Besides, I'm down upon you: you
decoy me into a friendly conversation, and then you say biting things
"If I bite you, you sting me. Such want of confidence! Oh how cruel! how
cruel! Why can you not trust me? Am I a child? No one is young who has
suffered what I have suffered. Secrets disunite a family: and we were so
united. And then you are so stupid; _you_ keep a secret? Yes, like a dog
in a chain; you can't hide it one bit. You have undertaken a task you are
not fit for, sir; to hide a secret you must be able to tell fibs: and you
can't: not for want of badness, but cleverness to tell them smoothly; you
know it, you know it; and so out of your abominable slyness you won't say
a word. There, it is no use my trying to provoke him. I wish you were not
so good-tempered; so apathetic I mean, of course." Then, with one of her
old rapid transitions, she began to caress him and fawn on him: she
seated him in an arm-chair and herself on a footstool, and suddenly
curling round his neck, murmured, "Dear, dear brother, have pity on a
poor girl, and tell her is there any news that I have a right to hear,
only mamma has given you your orders not to tell me; tell me, love!" This
last in an exquisite whisper.
"Let me alone, you little fascinating demon," said he angrily. "Ask
mamma. I won't tell you a word."
"Thank you!" she cried, bounding to her feet; "you _have_ told me. He is
alive. He loves me still. He was bewitched, seduced, deluded. He has come
to himself. Mamma has seen him. He wants to come and beg my pardon. But
you are all afraid I shall forgive him. But I will not, for at the first
word I'll stop his mouth, and say, 'If you were happy away from me, I
suppose you would not have come back.'"
And instantly she burst out singing, with inspired eloquence and
"Castles are sacked in war,
Chieftains are scattered far,
Truth is a fixed star--
But, unable to sustain it, the poor Impetuosity dropped as quickly as she
had mounted, and out went her arm on the table, and her forehead sank on
her arm, and the tears began to run silently down the sweet face, so
brave for a moment.
"W--will y--you allow me to light a cigar?" said Edward. "I'm wretched
and miserable; you Tempest in petticoats, you!"
She made him a sign of assent with the hand that was dangling languidly,
but she did not speak; nor did she appeal to him any more. Alienation was
commencing. But what was worse than speaking her mind, she was for ever
at the window now, looking up and down the street; and walking with her
he felt her arm often tremble, and sometimes jerk. The secret was
agitating her nerves, and destroying her tranquillity as much, or perhaps
more, than if she had known all.
Mrs. Dodd wrote from Portsmouth: whereof anon.
Mr. Peterson called, and soon after him Mr. Hurd. Edward was glad to see
them, especially the latter, whose visits seemed always to do Julia good.
Moreover, as Peterson and Hurd were rivals, it afforded Edward an
innocent amusement to see their ill-concealed aversion to one another,
and the admirable address and delicacy with which his sister conducted
herself between them.
However, this pastime was cut short by Sarah coming in and saying,
"There's a young man wants to see you, sir."
Julia looked up and changed colour.
"I think he is a fireman," said Sarah. She knew very well he was a
fireman, and also one of her followers. Edward went out and found one of
his late brethren, who told him a young gentleman had just been inquiring
for him at the station.
"What was he like?"
"Why, I was a good ways off, but I saw he was a tall one."
"Give you his name?'
"No: I didn't speak to him: it was Andrew. Andrew says he asked if there
was a fireman called Dodd: so Andrew said you had left; then the swell
asked where you lived, and Andrew couldn't tell him any more than it was
in Pembroke Street. So I told him, says I, 'Why couldn't you call me? It
is number sixty-six,' says I. 'Oh, he is coming back,' says Andrew.
However, I thought I'd come and tell you." (And so get a word with Sarah,
you sly dog.)
Edward thanked him, and put on his hat directly, for he could not
disguise from himself that this visitor might be Alfred Hardie. Indeed,
what more likely?
Messrs. Hurd and Peterson always tried to stay one another out whenever
they met at 66, Pembroke Street. However, to make sure of not leaving
Julia alone, Edward went in and asked them both to luncheon, at which
time he said he should be back.
As he walked rapidly to the station he grew more and more convinced that
it was Alfred Hardie. And his reflections ran like this. "What a
headpiece mamma has! But it did not strike her he would come to me first.
Yet how plain that looks now: for of course I'm the duffer's only clue to
Julia. These madmen are no fools, though. And how quiet he was that
night! And he made papa go down the ladder first: that was the old Alfred
Hardie; he was always generous: vain, overhearing, saucy, but noble with
it all. I liked him: he was a man that showed you his worst, and let you
find his best out by degrees. He hated to be beat: but that's no crime.
He was a beautiful oar, and handled his mawleys uncommon; he sparred with
all the prizefighters that came to Oxford, and took punishment better
than you would think; and a wonderful quick hitter; Alec Reed owned that.
Poor Taff Hardie! And when I think that God has overthrown his powerful
mind, and left me mine, such as it is! But the worst is my having gone on
calling him 'the Wretch' all this time: and nothing too bad for him. I
ought to be ashamed of myself. It grieves me very much. 'When found make
a note on;' never judge a fellow behind his back again.
Arrived at the station, he inquired whether his friend had called again,
and was answered in the negative. He waited a few minutes, and then, with
the superintendent's permission, wrote a note to Alfred, inviting him to
dine at Simpson's at six, and left it with the fireman. This done, he was
about to return home, when another thought struck him. He got a
messenger, and sent off a single line to Dr. Wolf, to tell him Alfred
Hardie would be at Simpson's at seven o clock.
But, when the messenger was gone, he regretted what he had done. He had
done it for Alfred's good; but still it was treason. He felt unhappy, and
wended his way homeward disconsolately, realising more and more that he
had not brains for the difficulties imposed upon him.
On entering Pembroke Street he heard a buzz. He looked up, and saw a
considerable crowd collected in a semicircle. "Why that is near our
house," he said, and quickened his steps.
When he got near he saw that all the people's eyes were bent on No. 66.
He dashed into the crowd. "What on earth is the matter?" he cried.
"The matter? Plenty's the matter, young man," cried one.
"Murder's the matter," said another.
At that he turned pale as death. An intelligent man saw his violent
agitation, and asked him hurriedly if he belonged to the house.
"Yes. For mercy's sake, what is it?"
"Make way there!" shouted the man. "He belongs. Sir, a madman has broke
loose and got into your house. And I'm sorry to say he has just killed
"With a pistol," cried several voices, speaking together.
ALFRED HARDIE spent three days writhing in his little lodging. His
situation had been sadder, but never more irritating. By right possessor
of thousands, yet in fact reduced to one suit, two shirts, and
half-a-crown: rich in intellect, yet hunted as a madman: affianced to the
loveliest girl in England, yet afraid to go near her for fear of being
torn from her again, and for ever. All this could last but one week more;
but a week's positive torture was no trifle to contemplate, with a rival
at his Julia's ear all the time. Suppose she should have been faithful
all these months, but in this last week should he worn out and give
herself to another: such things had been known. He went to Lincoln's Inn
with this irritating fear tearing him like a vulture. Mr. Compton
received him cheerfully, and told him he had begun operations in Hardie
_versus_ Hardie: had written to Thomas Hardie two days ago, and inquired
his London solicitor, and whether that gentleman would accept service of
the writ in Hardie _versus_ Hardie.
"To Thomas Hardie? Why, what has he to do with it?" asked Alfred.
"He is the defendant in the suit." Then seeing amazement and incredulity
on Alfred's face, he explained that the Commissioners of Lunacy had
treated him with great courtesy; had at once furnished him with copies,
not only of the order and certificates, but of other valuable documents.
"And there," said he, "lies the order; signed by Thomas Hardie, of Clare
"Curse his impudence," cried Alfred in a fury; "why, sir, he is next door
to an idiot himself."
"What does that matter? Ah, now, if I had gone in a passion and indicted
him, there would be a defence directly; 'no malice, defendant being _non
compos.'_ Whereas, by gently, quietly suing him, even if he was a
lunatic, we would make him or his estate pay a round sum for falsely
imprisoning a sane Briton. By-the-by, here is counsel's opinion on your
case," and he handed him a short opinion of a distinguished Queen's
Counsel, the concluding words of which were these:
3. If the certificates and order are in legal form, and were made and
given _bona fide,_ no action lies for the capture or detention of Mr.
"Why it is dead against me," said Alfred. "There goes the one rotten reed
you had left me."
"Singularly dead," said the attorney coolly; "he does not even say 'I am
of opinion.' He is in great practice, and hardworked: in his hurry he has
taken up the Lunacy Acts, and has forgotten that the rights of sane
Englishmen are not the creatures of these little trumpery statutes. No,
thank you; our rights are centuries older, and prevail wherever, by good
luck, the statutes of the realm are silent; now they are all silent about
incarcerating sane men. Besides, he gives no cases. What is an opinion
without a precedent? A lawyer's guess. I thought so little of his opinion
that I sent the case to a clever junior, who has got time to think before
he writes." Colls entered soon after with the said junior's opinion. Mr.
Compton opened it, and saying, "Now let us see what he says," read it to
Alfred. It ran thus:
"There was clearly a right of action under the common law and it has been
exercised. _Anderdon v. Brothers; Paternoster v. Wynn,_ &c. Such a right
can only be annulled by the express terms of a statute: now the 8 and 9
Victoria, cap. 100, sect. 99, so annuls it as against the madhouse
proprietor only. That, therefore, is the statutory exception, and tends
to confirm the common right. If the facts are as represented (on which,
of course, I can form no opinion), Mr. Hardie can safely sue the person
who signed the order for his alleged false imprisonment.
"I agree with you that the usual course by praying the Court of Chancery
for a Commission de Lunatico Inquirendo, is timorous, and rests on
prejudice. Plt., if successful, is saddled with his own costs, and
sometimes with Deft.'s, and obtains no compensation. It seems clear that
a jury sitting at Nisi Prius can deal as well with the main fact as can a
jury sitting by the order of the Chancellor; and I need not say the costs
will go with their verdict, to say nothing of the damages, which may be
heavy. On the other hand, an indictment is hazardous; and I think you can
lose nothing by beginning with the suit. By having a shorthand writer at
the trial, you may collect materials for an indictment, and also feel the
pulse of the court; you can then confer upon the evidence with some
counsel better versed in criminal law than myself. _My_ advice is to sue
Thomas Hardie; and declare in Tort.
_"N.B._--I have been thus particular, because Hardie _v._ Hardie (if
carried to a verdict) will probably be a leading case."
"Who shall decide when counsel disagree?' inquired Alfred satirically.
"That depends on where they do it. If in court, the judge. If here, the
You appear sanguine, Mr. Compton," said Alfred; "perhaps you would not
mind advancing me a little money. I've only half-a-crown."
"It is all ready for you in this drawer," said Compton cheerfully. "See
thirty sovereigns. Then you need not go to a bank."
"What, you knew I should borrow?"
"Don't all my clients begin by bleeding _me?_ It is the rule of this
"Then why don't you give up business?"
"Because I bleed the opposite attorney's client a pound or two more than
my own bleeds me."
He then made Alfred sign a promissory note for the thirty pounds: advised
him to keep snug for one week more, and promised to write to him in two
days, and send Thomas Hardie's answer. Alfred left his address and went
from Mr. Compton a lighter man. Convinced of his courage and prudence, he
shifted one care off his own shoulders: and thought of love alone.
But, strange as it may appear, two cares are sometimes better for a man
than one. Alfred, having now no worry to divert him from his deeper
anxiety, was all love and jealousy; and quite overbalanced: the desire of
his heart grew so strong it overpowered alike his patience and his
prudence. He jumped into a cab, and drove to all the firemen's stations
on the Surrey side of the river, inquiring for Edward. At last he hit
upon the right one, and learned that Julia lived in Pembroke Street;
number unknown. He drove home to his lodgings; bought some ready-made
clothes, and dressed like a gentleman: then told the cabman to drive to
Pembroke Street. He knew he was acting imprudently; but he could not help
it. And, besides, Mr. Compton had now written to his uncle, and begun the
attack: that would surely intimidate his enemies, and turn their thoughts
to defence, not to fresh offence. However, catching sight of a gunsmith's
shop on the way, he suddenly resolved to arm himself on the bare chance
of an attack. He stopped the cab; went in and bought a double-barrelled
pistol, with powder-flask, bullets, wads, and caps complete. This he
loaded in the cab, and felt quite prudent after it. The prudence of
He paid off the cab in Pembroke Street, and set about the task of
discovering Julia. He inquired at several houses, but was unsuccessful.
Then he walked slowly all down the street, looking up at all the windows.
And I think, if he had done this the day before, he might have seen her,
or she him: she was so often at the window now. But just then she had
company to keep her in order.
He was unlucky in another respect. Edward came out of No. 66 and went up
the street, when he himself was going down it not so very many yards off.
If Alfred's face had only been turned the other way he would have seen
Edward, and all would have gone differently.
The stoutest hearts have their moments of weakness and deep dejection.
Few timings are more certain, and less realised by ordinary men than
this; from Palissy fighting with Enamel to Layard disinterring a city,
this thing is so.
Unable to find Julia in the very street she inhabited, Alfred felt weak
against fate. He said to himself, "If I find her, I shall perhaps wish I
had never sought her."
In his hour of dejection stern reason would be heard, and asked him
whether all Mrs. Archbold had said could be pure invention; and he was
obliged to confess that was too unlikely. Then he felt so sick at heart
he was half minded to turn and fly the street. But there was a large yard
close by him, entered by a broad and lofty gateway cut through one of the
houses. The yard belonged to a dealer in hay: two empty waggons were
there, but no men visible, being their dinner-time. Alfred slipped in
here, and sat down on the shaft of a waggon; and let his courage ooze. He
sighed, and sighed, and feared to know his fate. And so he sat with his
face in his hands unmanned.
Presently a strain of music broke on his ear. It seemed to come from the
street. He raised his head to listen. He coloured, his eyes sparkled; he
stole out on tiptoe with wondering, inquiring face into the street. Once
there, he stood spell-bound, thrilling from his heart, that seemed now on
fire, to his fingers' ends. For a heavenly voice was singing to the
piano, just above his head; singing in earnest, making the very street
ring. Already listeners were gathering, and a woman of the people said,
"It's a soul singing without a body." Amazing good things are said in the
streets. The voice was the voice of Julia; the song was Aileen Aroon, the
hymn of constancy. So sudden and full was the bliss, which poured into
the long and sore-tried listener at this sudden answer to his fears, that
tears of joy trembled in his eyes. "'Wretch that I was to doubt her," he
said: and unable to contain his longing, unable to wait and listen even
to that which had changed his griefs and doubts into rapture, he was at
the door in a moment. A servant opened it: "Miss Dodd?" he said, or
rather panted; "you need not announce me. I am an old acquaintance." He
could not bear any one should see the meeting between him and his
beloved; he went up the steep and narrow stair, guided by the hymn of
He stopped at the door, his heart was beating so violently.
Then he turned the handle softly, and stepped into the drawing-room; it
was a double room: he took two steps and was in the opening, and almost
at Julia's back.
Two young clergymen were bending devotedly one on each side of her; it
was to them she was singing the hymn of constancy.
Alfred started back as if he had been stung; and the music stopped dead
For she had heard his step, and, womanlike, was looking into her
companions' eyes first, to see if her ear had deceived her. What she saw
there brought her slowly round with a wild look. Her hands rose toward
her face, and she shrank away sideways from him as if he was a serpent,
and her dilated eyes looked over her cringing shoulder at him, and she
was pale and red and pale and red a dozen times in as many seconds.
He eyed her sorrowfully and sternly, taking for shame that strange
mixture of emotions which possessed her. And so they met. Strange meeting
for two true lovers, who had parted last upon their wedding eve.
No doubt, if they had been alone, one or other would have spoken
directly; but the situation was complicated by the presence of two
rivals, and this tied their tongues. They devoured one another with their
eyes in silence; and then Julia rose slowly to her feet, and began to
tremble from head to foot, as she looked at him.
"Is this intrusion agreeable to you, Miss Dodd?" said Mr. Hurd
respectfully, by way of courting her. She made no reply, but only looked
wildly at Alfred still, and quivered visibly.
"Pray, sir," said Alfred, turning on Mr. Hurd, "have you any right to
interfere between us two?"
"None whatever," said Julia hastily. "Mr. Hurd, I need no one: I will
permit no one to say a word to him. Mr. Hardie knows he cannot enter a
house where I am--without an explanation."
"What, before a couple of curates?"
"Do not be insolent to my friends, sir," said Julia, panting.
This wounded Alfred deeply. "Oh, as you please," said he. "Only if you
put me on my defence before strangers, I shall, perhaps, put you to the
blush before them."
"Why do you come here, sir?" said Julia, not deigning to notice his
"To see my betrothed."
"Oh, indeed!" said she bitterly; "in that case why have you postponed
your visit so long?"
"I was in prison."
"In the worst of all prisons; where I was put because I loved you; where
I was detained because I persisted in loving you, you faithless,
He choked at these words; she smiled--a faint, uncertain smile. It died
away, and she shook her head, and said sadly--
"Defend yourself, and then call me as many names as you like. Where was
"It was an asylum: a madhouse."
The girl stared at him bewildered. He put his hand into his pocket and
took Peggy's letter. "Read that," he said. She held it in her hand, and
looked him in the face to divine the contents. "Read it," said he, almost
fiercely; "that was the decoy." She held it shaking in her hands, and
stared at it. I don't know whether she read it or not.
He went on: "The same villain who defrauded your father of his money,
robbed me of my wife and my liberty: that Silverton House was a lunatic
asylum, and ever since then (Oh, Julia, the agony of that day) I have
been confined in one or other of those hells; sane amongst the mad; till
Drayton House took fire, and I escaped: for what? To be put on my
defence, by you. What have you suffered from our separations compared
with the manifold anguish I have endured, that you dare to receive the
most injured and constant of mankind like this, you who have had your
liberty all this time, and have consoled yourself for my absence with a
couple of curates?"
"For shame," said Julia, blushing to the forehead, yet smiling in a way
her companions could not understand.
"Miss Dodd, will you put up with these insults?" said Mr. Hurd.
"Ay, and a thousand more," cried Julia, radiant, "and thank Heaven for
them; they prove his sincerity. You, who have thought proper to stay and
hear me insult my betrothed, and put my superior on his defence, look how
I receive his just rebuke: Dear, cruelly used Alfred, I never doubted you
in my heart, no not for a moment; forgive me for taunting you to clear
yourself; you who were always the soul of truth and honour. Forgive me: I
too have suffered; for I thought my Alfred was dead. Forgive me."
And with this she was sinking slowly to her knees with the most touching
grace, all blushes, tears, penitence, happiness, and love; but he caught
her eagerly. "Oh! God forbid," he cried: and in a moment her head was on
his shoulder, and they mingled their tears together.
It was Julia who recovered herself first, and shrank from him a little,
and murmured, "We are not alone."
The misgiving came rather late: and they were alone.
The other gentlemen had comprehended at last that it was indelicate to
remain: they had melted quietly away; and Peterson rushed down the
street; but Hurd hung disconsolate about that very entry, where Alfred
had just desponded before him.
"Sit by me, my poor darling, and tell me all," said Julia.
He began; but, ere he had told her about his first day at his first
asylum, she moaned and turned faint at the recital, and her lovely head
sank on his shoulder. He kissed her, and tried to comfort her, and said
he would not tell her any more.
But she said somewhat characteristically, "I insist on your telling me
all--all. It will kill me." Which did not seem to Alfred a cogent reason
for continuing his narrative. He varied it by telling her that through
all his misery the thought of her had sustained him. Alas, in the midst
of their Elysium a rough voice was heard in the passage inquiring for Mr.
Hardie. Alfred started up in dismay: for it was Rooke's voice. "I am
undone," he cried. "They are coming to take me again; and, if they do,
they will drug me; I am a dead man."
"Fly!" cried Julia; "fly! upstairs: the leads."
He darted to the door, and out on the landing.
It was too late. Rooke had just turned the corner of the stairs, and saw
him. He whistled and rushed after Alfred. Alfred bounded up the next
flight of stairs: but, even as he went, his fighting blood got up; he
remembered his pistol: he drew it, turned on the upper landing, and
levelled the weapon full at Rooke's forehead. The man recoiled with a
yell, and got to a respectful distance on the second landing. There he
began to parley. "Come, Mr. Hardie, sir," said he, "that is past a joke:
would you murder a man?"
"It's no murder to kill an assassin in defence of life or liberty; and
I'll kill you, Rooke, as I would kill a wasp, if you lay a finger on me."
"Do you hear that?" shouted Rooke to some one below.
"Ay, I hear," replied the voice of Hayes.
"Then loose the dog. And run in after him."
There was a terrible silence; then a scratching was heard below: and,
above, the deadly click of the pistol-hammers brought to full cock.
And then there was a heavy pattering rush, and Vulcan came charging up
the stairs like a lion. He was half-muzzled; but that Alfred did not
know; he stepped forward and fired at the tremendous brute somewhat
unsteadily; and missed him, by an inch; the bullet glanced off the stairs
and entered the wall within a yard of Rooke's head: ere Alfred could fire
again, the huge brute leaped on him, and knocked him down like a child,
and made a grab at his throat; Alfred, with admirable presence of mind,
seized a banister, and, drawing himself up, put the pistol to Vulcan's
ear, and fired the other barrel just as Rooke rushed up the stairs to
secure his prisoner; the dog bounded into the air and fell over dead with
shattered skull, leaving Alfred bespattered with blood and brains, and
half blinded: but he struggled up, and tore the banister out in doing so,
just as a heavy body fell forward at his feet: it was Rooke stumbling
over Vulcan's carcass so unexpectedly thrown in his path: Alfred cleared
his eyes with his hand, and as Rooke struggled up, lifted the banister
high above his head, and, with his long sinewy arm and elastic body,
discharged a blow frightful to look at, for youth, strength, skill, and
hate all swelled, and rose, and struck together in that one furious
gesture. If the wood had held, the skull must have gone. As it was, the
banister broke over' the man's head (and one half went spinning up to the
ceiling). The man's head cracked under the banister like a glass bottle;
and Rooke lay flat and mute, within the blood running from his nose and
ears. Alfred hurled the remnant of the banister down at Hayes and the
others, and darted into a room (it was Julia's bedroom), and was heard to
open the window, and then drag furniture to the door, and barricade it.
This done, he went to load his pistol, which he thought he had slipped
into his pocket after felling Rooke. He found to his dismay it was not
there. The fact was, it had slipped past his pocket and fallen down.
During the fight, shriek upon shriek issued from the drawing-room. But
now all was still. On the stairs lay Vulcan dead, Rooke senseless: below,
Julia in a dead faint. And all in little more than a minute.
Dr. Wolf arrived with the police and two more keepers, new ones in the
place of Wales and Garrett discharged; and urged them to break into the
bedroom and capture the maniac: but first he was cautious enough to set
two of them to watch the back of the house. "There," he said, "where that
load of hay is going in: that is the way to it. Now stand you in the yard
This last mandate was readily complied with; for there was not much to be
feared on the stones below from a maniac self-immured on the second
story. But to break open that bedroom door was quite another thing. The
stairs were like a shambles already--a chilling sight to the eyes of
Rooke was but just sensible: the others hung back. But presently the
pistol was found sticking in a pool of gore. This put a new face on the
matter; and Dr. Wolf himself showed the qualities of a commander. He sent
down word to his sentinels in the yard to he prepared for any attempt on
Alfred's part, however desperate: and he sent a verbal message to a
stately gentleman who was sitting anxious in lodgings over the way, after
bribing high ad low, giving out money like water to secure the recapture,
and so escape what he called his unnatural son's vengeance; for he knew
him to be by nature bold and vindictive like himself. After these
preliminaries, Doctor Wolf headed his remaining forces--to wit, two
keepers, and two policemen, and thundered at the bedroom door, and
summoned Alfred to surrender.
Now among the spectators who watched and listened with bated breath, was
one to whom this scene had an interest of its own. Mr. Hurd, disconcerted
by Alfred's sudden reappearance, and the lovers' reconciliation, had hung
about the entry very miserable; for he was sincerely attached to Julia.
But, while he was in this stupor, came the posse to recapture Alfred, and
he heard them say so. Then the shots were fired within, then Wolf and his
men got in, and Mr. Hurd, who was now at the door, got in with them to
protect Julia, and see this dangerous and inconvenient character disposed
of. He was looking demurely on at a safish distance, when his late
triumphant rival was summoned to surrender.
Dr. Wolf coaxed.
Dr. Wolf told him he had police as well as keepers, and resistance would
Dr. Wolf ordered his men to break in the door.
After some little delay, one of the keepers applied a chisel, while a
policeman held his truncheon ready to defend the operator. The lock gave
way. But the door could not open for furniture.
After some further delay they took it off its hinges, and the room stood
To their surprise no rush was made at them. The maniac was not even in
"He is down upon his luck," whispered one of the new keepers; "we shall
find him crouched somewhere." They looked under the bed. He was not
there. They opened a cupboard; three or four dresses hung from wooden
pegs; they searched the gowns most minutely, but found no maniac hid in
their ample folds. Presently some soot was observed lying in the grate;
and it was inferred he had gone up the chimney.
On inspection the opening appeared almost too narrow. Then Dr. Wolf
questioned his sentinels in the yard. "Have you been there all the time?"
"No, sir. And our eyes have never been off the window and the heads."
Here was a mystery; and not a clue to its solution. The window was open;
but five-and-twenty feet above the paved yard; had he leaped down he must
have been dashed to pieces.
Many tongues began to go at once; in the midst of which Edward burst in,
and found the two dead men of contemporary history consisted of a dead
dog and a stunned man, who, having a head like a bullet, was now come to
himself and vowing vengeance. He found Julia very pale, supported and
consoled by Mr. Hurd. He was congratulating her on her escape from a
She rose and tottered away from him to her brother and clung to him. He
said what he could to encourage her, then deposited her in an arm-chair
and went upstairs; he soon satisfied himself Alfred was not in the house.
On this he requested Dr. Wolf and his men to leave the premises. The
doctor demurred. Edward insisted, and challenged him to show a
magistrate's warrant for entering a private house. The doctor was obliged
to own he had none. Edward then told the policemen they were engaged in
an illegal act; the police had no authority to take part in these
captures. Now the police knew that very well; but, being handsomely
bribed, they had presumed, and not for the first time, upon that
ignorance of law which is deemed an essential part of a private citizen's
accomplishments in modern days. In a word, by temper and firmness, and a
smattering of law gathered from the omniscient _'Tiser,_ Edward cleared
his castle of the lawless crew. But they paraded the street, and watched
the yard till dusk, when its proprietor ran rusty and turned them out.
Julia sat between Edward and Mr. Hurd, with her head thrown back and her
eyes closed; and received in silence their congratulations on her escape.
She was thinking of his. When they had quite done, she opened her eyes
and said, "Send for Dr. Sampson. Nobody else knows anything. Oh pray,
pray, pray send for Dr. Sampson."
Mr. Hurd said he would go for Dr. Sampson. She thanked him warmly.
Then she crept away to her bedroom, and locked herself in, and sat on the
hearthrug, and thought, and thought, and recalled every word and tone of
her Alfred; comparing things old and new.
Dr. Sampson was a few miles out of town, visiting a patient. It was nine
o'clock in the evening when he got Julia's note; but he came on to
Pembroke Street at once. Dr. Wolf and his men had retired; leaving a
sentinel in the street, on the bare chance of Alfred returning. Dr.
Sampson found brother and sister sitting sadly, but lovingly together.
Julia rose upon his entrance. "Oh, Doctor Sampson! Now _is_ he--what they
say he is?"
"How can I tell, till I see 'm?" objected the doctor.
"But you know they call people mad who are nothing of the kind; for you
Sampson readily assented to this. "Why it was but last year a surjin came
to me with one Jackson, a tailor, and said, 'Just sign a certificate for
this man: his wife's mad.' 'Let me see her,' sid I. 'What for,' sis he,
'when her own husband applies.' 'Excuse me,' sis I, 'I'm not a bat, I'm
Saampson.' I went to see her; she was nairvous and excited. 'Oh, I know
what you come about,' said she. 'But you are mistaken.' I questioned her
kindly, and she told me her husband was a great trile t' her nairves. I
refused to sign. On that disn't the tailor drown himself in the canal
nixt day? He was the madman; and she knew it all the time, but wouldn't
tell us; and that's a woman all over."
"Well then," said Julia hopefully.
"Ay, but," said Sampson, "these cases are exceptions after all; and the
chances are nine to one he's mad. Daun't ye remember that was one of the
solutions offered ye, whem he levanted on his wedding-day?" He added
satirically, "And couldn't all that logic keep in a little reason?"
This cynical speech struck Julia to the heart; she could not bear it, and
retired to her own room.
Then Dr. Sampson saw his mistake, and said to Edward, with some concern,
"Maircy on us, she is not in love with Him still, is she? I thought that
young parson was the man now."
Edward shook his head: but declined to go much into a topic so delicate
as his sister's affections: and just then an alarming letter was
delivered from Mrs. Dodd. She wrote to the effect that David, favoured by
the wind, had run into Portsmouth harbour before their eyes, and had
disappeared, hidden, it was feared, by one of those low publicans, who
provide bad ships with sailors, receiving a commission. On this an
earnest conversation between Sampson and Edward.
It was interrupted in its turn.
Julia burst suddenly into the room, pale and violently excited, clasping
her hands and crying, "He is _there._ His voice is like a child's. Oh,
Help me! He is hurt. He is dying."
JULIA, as I have said, went to her own room, wounded unintentionally by a
chance speech: she sat down sick at heart; and presently opened her
window and looked out upon the starry night, and wondered where Alfred
was now; that Alfred for whom nobody else had a Human heart, it seemed.
"Alfred! my poor Alfred!" she sighed, and half-expected to hear him
reply. Then she said to herself, "They all called you false but me; yet I
was right: and now they all call you mad; but not I: I believe nothing
against you. You are my own Alfred still. Where have the wretches driven
you to?" At this her feelings carried her away, and she cried aloud on
him despairingly, and leaned upon the window-sill, and the tears ran fast
Presently out of the silence of the night seemed to struggle a faint but
She started, and a muffled scream came from her. Then she listened, all
trembling. Again the voice sighed, faintly but clear, "Julia!"
"Alfred?" said she, quavering.
"Yes. Pray be cautious; give no alarm. The house is watched; bring
She flew downstairs, and electrified Edward and Sampson with the news.
"Oh, promise me not to betray him!" she cried.
"Hut!" said the doctor, starting to his feet, "what should we betray him
for? I'll cure him for you. I can cure any lunatic that has lucid
intervals. Where is he?"
"Follow me," gasped Julia. "Stay. I'll get rid of the servants first.
I'll not play the fool, and betray him to his enemies." She sent Sarah
eastward, and Jane westward, and then led the way through the kitchen
door into the yard.
They all searched about, and found nothing. Then Julia begged them to be
silent. She whispered, "Alfred!" And instantly a faint voice issued from
the top of a waggon laden with hay and covered with a tarpaulin. "Julia."
They all stood staring.
"Who are those with you?" asked Alfred uneasily.
"Only friends, dear! Edward and Dr. Sampson."
"Ned, old fellow," groaned Alfred, "you pulled me out of the fire, won't
you help me out of this? I think my leg is broken."
At this Julia wrung her hands, and Edward ran into the house for his
rope, and threw it over the waggon. He told Julia and Sampson to hold on
by one end, and seizing the other, was up on the waggon in a moment. He
felt about till he came to a protuberance; and that was Alfred under the
tarpaulin, in which he had cut breathing-holes with his penknife. Edward
sent Julia in for a carving-knife, and soon made an enormous slit:
through this a well-known figure emerged into the moonlight, and seemed
wonderfully tall to have been so hidden. His hands being uninjured, he
easily descended the rope, and stood on one leg, holding it. Then Sampson
and Edward put each an arm under his, and helped him into the house.
After the body the mind. That is the rule throughout creation. They
examined, not his reason, but his leg. Julia stood by with clasped hands,
and a face beaming with pity and anxiety, that repaid his pain. Sampson
announced there were no bones broken, but a bad sprain, and the limb very
red and swollen. "Now," inquired he briskly of the company, "what is the
practice in sprains? Why, leeches and cold water."
Edward offered at once to run and get them.
"Are you mad?" was the reply. "Daun't I tell ye that is the _practice?_
And isn't the practice sure to be th' opposite of the remedy? So get
water as hot as he can bear it, and no leeches."
Julia remonstrated angrily. "Is this a case for jesting?"
"Deevil a jest in it," replied the doctor. "'Well then, if ye must know,
th' opera-dancers apply hot water to sprains: now what is their interest?
T' expedite the cure: and the faculty apply cold water: and what is their
interest? To procrastinate the cure, and make a long job of it. So just
hold your toungues, and ring for hot water."
Julia did not ring; she beckoned Edward, and they flew out and soon
brought a foot-pan of hot water. Edward them removed Alfred's shoes and
stockings, and Julia bared her lovely arms, and blushed like a rose.
Alfred divined her intention. "Dear Julia," he said, "I won't let you:
that is too high an honour. Sarah can do that."
But Julia's blood was up. "Sarah?" said she contemptuously; "she is too
heavy handed: and--hold your tongue; I don't take my orders from you;"
then more humbly to the doctor, "I am a district visitor: I nurse all
manner of strangers, and he says I must leave his poor suffering leg to
"Unnatural young monster," said the doctor. "G'im a good nip."
Julia followed this advice by handling Alfred's swollen ankle with a
tenderness so exquisite, and pressing it with the full sponge so softly,
that her divine touch soothed him as much or more than the water. After
nursing him into the skies a minute or two, she looked up blushing in his
face, and said coaxingly, "Are you mad, dear Alfred? Don't be afraid to
tell us the truth. The madder you are, the more you need me to take care
of you, you know."
Alfred smiled at this sapient discourse, and said he was not the least
mad, and hoped to take care of _her_ as soon as his ankle was well
enough. This closed that sweet mouth of hers exceeding tight, and her
face was seen no more for a while, but hid by bending earnestly over her
work, only as her creamy poll turned pink, the colour of that hidden face
was not hard to divine.
Then Edward asked Alfred how in the world he had escaped and got into
that waggon. The thing was incredible. "Mirawculous," said Dr. Sampson in
"No," said Alfred, "it looks stranger to you than it is. The moment I
found my pistol was gone, I determined to run. I looked down and saw a
spout with a great ornamental mouth, almost big enough to sit on; and,
while I was looking greedily at it, three horses came into the yard
drawing a load of hay. The waggoner was busy clearing the pavement with
his wheel, and the waggon almost stopped a moment right under me. There
was a lot of loose hay on the top. I let myself down, and hung by the
spout a moment, and then leaped on to the loose hay. Unfortunately there
were the hard trusses beneath it, and so I got my sprain. Oh, I say,
didn't it hurt? However, I crept under the hay and hid myself, and saw
Wolf's men come into the yard. By-and-by a few drops of rain fell, and
some fellows chucked down a tarpaulin from the loft, and nearly smothered
me: so I cut a few air-holes with my penknife. And there I lay, Heaven
knows how long: it seemed two days. At last I saw an angel at a window I
called her by the name she bears on earth: to my joy she answered, and
here I am, as happy as a prince among you all, and devilish hungry."
"What a muff I was not to think of that," said Edward, and made for the
"Dear doctor," said Julia, lifting a Madonna-like face with swimming
eyes, "I see no change in him: he is very brave, and daring, and saucy.
But so he always was. To be sure he says extravagant things, and stares
one out of countenance with his eyes: well, and so he always did--ever
since _I_ knew him."
"Mayn't I even _look_ my gratitude?" whined Alfred.
"Yes, but you need not stare it."
"It's your own fault, Miss Julee," said Sampson. "With you fomenting his
sprain the creature's fomenting his own insensate passion. Break every
bone in a puppy's body, and it's a puppy still; and it doesn't do to
spoil puppies, as ye're spoiling this one. Nlist me, ye vagabin. Take
yonr eyes off the lady; and look _me_ in the face--if ye can: and tell me
how you came to leave us all in the lurch on your wedding morn."
Julia fired up. "It was not his fault, poor thing; he was decoyed away
after that miserable money. Ah, you may laugh at me for hating money; but
have I not good reason to hate it?"
"Whist, whist, y' impetuous cracter; and let him tell his own tale."
Alfred, thus invited, delivered one of his calm, luminous statements;
which had hitherto been listened to so coldly by one official after
another. But the effect was mighty different, falling now on folk not
paid to pity. As for Dr. Sampson, he bounced up very early in the
narrative, and went striding up and down the room: he was pale with
indignation, and his voice trembled with emotion, and every now and then
he broke in on the well-governed narrative with oaths and curses, and
observations of this kind--"Why dinnt ye kill um? I'd have killed um. I'd
just have taken the first knife and killed um. Man, our Liberty is our
Life. Dith to whoever attacks it!"
And so Edward coming in with Alfred's dinner on a tray, found the
_soi-disant_ maniac delivering his wrongs with the lofty serenity of an
ancient philosopher discussing the wrongs of another, Julia crying
furtively into the tub, and the good physician trampling and raving about
the room, like what the stoical narrator was accused of being. Edward
stopped, and looked at them all over the tray. "Well," said he, "if
there's a madman in the room, it is not Hardie. Ahem."
"Madman? ye young ijjit," roared the doctor, "he's no madder than I am."
"Heaven forbid," said Alfred drily.
"No madder than _you_ are, ye young Pump."
"That's an ungenerous skit on Edward's profession," objected the maniac.
"Be quite now, chattering," said the excited doctor; "I tell ye ye niver
were mad, and niver will be. It's just the most heartless imposture, the
most rascally fraud I've ever caught the Mad Ox out in. I'll expose it.
Gimme pninkpapr. Man, they'll take y' again if we don't mind. But I'll
stop that: these ineequities can only be done in the dark. I'll shed the
light of day on 'em. Eat your dinner, and hold your tongue a minute--if
ye can." The doctor had always a high sense of _Alfred's_ volubility.
He went to work, and soon produced a letter headed, "PRIVATE MADHOUSES."
In this he related pithily Alfred's incarceration, and the present
attempt to recapture him, with the particulars of his escape. "That will
interest th' enemy," said he drily. He vouched for Alfred's sanity at
both dates, and pledged himself to swear to it in a court of law. He then
inquired what it availed to have sent one tyrant to Phalaris and another
to Versailles in defence of our Liberty, since after all that Liberty
lies grovelling at the mercy of Dr. Pill-box and Mr. Sawbones, and a
single designing relative? Then he drew a strong picture of this
free-born British citizen skulking and hiding at this moment from a gang
of rogues and conspirators, who in France and other civilised countries
that brag less of liberty than we do, would be themselves flying as
criminals from the officers of justice; and he wound up with a warm
appeal to the press to cast its shield over the victim of bad laws and
foul practices. "In England," said he, "Justice is the daughter of
Publicity. Throughout the world deeds of villainy are done every day in
kid gloves: but, with us, at all events, they have to be done on the sly!
Here lies our true moral eminence as a nation. Utter then your 'fiat
lux,' cast the full light of publicity on this dark villainy; and behold
it will wither, and your oppressed and injured fellow-citizen be safe
from that very hour."
He signed it and read it out to them, or rather roared it. But he had
written it so well he could not make it bad by delivery. Indeed, he was a
masterly writer of English, you must know. Julia was delighted, but
Alfred shook his head. "The editor will not put it in."
"Th' editor! D'ye think I'm so green as to trust t' any one editor? D'ye
think I've lived all these years and not learned what poor cowardly
things men are? Moral courage! where can you find it? Except in the
dickshinary? Few to the world their honest thoughts _avow;_ the groveller
policy robs justice _now_--
And none but Sampson dares to lift a hond
Against the curst corruption of the lond.
Now, lad, I'm off to my printer with this. They are working night and day
just now: there will be two hundred copies printed in half an hour."
"And me, doctor," said Julia. "Am poor I to have no hand in it? How cruel
of you? Oh pray, pray, pray let me help a little."
"Put on your bonnet, then, directly," said he: "in war never lose a
"But I am so afraid they may be lying in wait for him outside."
"Then we'll give them a good hiding: there are three of us; all good men
and staunch," said the indomitable doctor.
"No, no," said the pugnacious Alfred. "Julia does not like fighting: I
heard her screaming all the time I was defending myself on the stairs:
let us be prudent: let us throw dust in their eyes. Put me on a bonnet
"And a nice little woman you'll make, ye fathom."
"Oh, I can stoop--to conquer."
Julia welcomed this plan almost with glee, and she and Edward very soon
made a handsome brazen-looking trollop six feet high. Then it had to
stoop, and Edward and Julia helped it out to the carriage, under the very
noses of a policeman and a keeper, who were watching for Alfred: seeing
which--oh frailty of woman!--the district visitor addressed it aloud as
her aunt, and begged it to take care: which she afterwards observed was
acting a falsehood, and "where was her Christianity?"
Alfred was actually not recognised: the carriage bowled away to the great
printing house; it was on that side the water. The foreman entered into
the thing with spirit, and divided the copy, small as it was, among two
or three compositors: so a rough proof was ready in an incredibly short
time; the doctor corrected it: and soon they began to work off the
copies. The foreman found them Mitchell's newspaper list, and envelopes
by the hundred, and while the copies were pouring in, all hands were
folding and addressing them to the London and provincial editors. The
office lent the stamps. The doctor drove Alfred to his own lodgings, and
forbade him to reappear in Pembroke Street until the letter should come
out in the London journals.
That night the letters were all posted, and at daybreak were flying
north, south, east and west. In the afternoon the letter came out in four
London evening papers, and the next morning the metropolis and the whole
kingdom were ringing with them, and the full blaze of publicity burst
upon this dark deed.
Ay, stout Sampson, well you knew mankind, and well you knew the nation
you lived in. Richard Hardie, in the very act of setting detectives to
find Alfred's lurking-place, ran his nose against this letter in the
_Globe._ He collapsed at the sight of it; and wrote directly to Dr. Wolf,
enclosing it and saying that it would be unadvisable to make any fresh
attempt. His letter was crossed by one from Dr. Wolf, containing
Sampson's thunderbolt extracted from the _Sun,_ and saying that no
earthly consideration should induce him to meddle with Alfred _now._
Richard Hardie flung himself into the train, and went down to his brother
at Clare Court.
He was ill at ease. He felt like some great general, who has launched
many attacks against the foe, very successful at first, then less
successful, then repulsed with difficulty, then repulsed with ease, till
at last the foe stands before him impregnable. Then he feels that ere
long that iron enemy will attack him in turn, and that he, exhausted by
his own onslaughts, must defend himself how he can. Yet there was a
pause; he passed a whole quiet peaceful day with his brother, assuring
him that the affair would go no further on either side; but in his secret
soul he felt this quiet day was but the ominous pause between two great
battles: one of the father against the son, the other of the son against
And he was right: the very next day the late defender attacked, and in
earnest. But for certain reasons I prefer to let another relate it:
_Hardie v. Hardie._
"DEAR SIR,--If you had been in my office when I received your favour of
yesterday relating deft.'s ruffian-like assault, you would have seen the
most ridiculous sight in nature--videlicet, an attorney in a passion. I
threw professional courtesy to the winds, and sent Colls off to Clare
Court to serve the writ personally. Next day, he found the deft, walking
in his garden with Mr. Richard Hardie. Having learned from the servant
which was his man, he stepped up and served copy of the writ in the usual
way. Deft. turned pale, and his knees knocked together, and Colls thinks
he mistook himself for a felon, and was going to ask for mercy. But Mr.
Richard stopped him, and said his attorneys were Messrs. Heathfield, in
Chancery Lane; and was this the way Mr. Compton did business? serving a
writ personally on a gentleman in weak health. So Colls, who can sneer in
his quiet way, told him 'No,' but the invalid had declined to answer my
letter, and the invalid had made a violent attack upon our client's
person, avoiding his attorney, 'so, as his proceedings are summary, we
meet him in kind,' says little Colls. 'Oho,' says Mr. Richard, 'your are
a wit, are you? Come and have some luncheon.' This was to get him away
from the weaker brother, I take it. He gave Colls an excellent luncheon,
and some admirable conversation on policy and finance: and when he was
going, says this agreeable host: 'Well, Mr. -----, you have had your
bellyful of chicken and Madeira; and your client shall have his bellyful
of law.' And this Colls considers emphatic but coarse.--I am, yours
_"P.S._--Colls elicited that no further attempt will be made to capture
you. It seems some injudicious friend of yours has been writing to the
newspapers. Pray stop that."
On receiving this letter, Alfred bought another double pistol, loaded it,
hired a body-guard of two prizefighters, and with these at his heels,
repaired to 66 Pembroke Street. No enemy was near: the press had swept
the street alike of keepers and police with one Briarian gesture. He
found Julia and Edward in great anxiety about their father. The immediate
cause was a letter from Mrs. Dodd, which Edward gave him to read; but not
till he had first congratulated him heartily on the aegis of the press
being thrown over him. "The _'Tiser_ has a leader on it," said he.
Mrs. Dodd's letter ran thus:--
"My DEAR DEAR CHILDREN,--I am coming home to you heartbroken, without
your poor father. I saw an East Indian ship go to sea, and some instinct
whispered, suppose he should be on board that ship! But, foolishly, I did
not utter my thoughts: because they call these instincts women's fancies.
But now even Mr. Green thinks he is gone to sea; for the town has been
ransacked, and no trace of him can we find. I met my cousin, Captain
Bazalgette, here, and he is promoted to the _Vulture_ frigate, and sails
to-day. I have told him all our misfortunes, and he has promised to
overhaul that merchant ship if he comes up with her: but I _can see by
the way his eye shuns mine_ he has no real hopes. His ship is the
swifter, but he may pass her in the night. And then he is bound for New
Zealand, not India. I told Reginald my poor husband's expression of face
is altered by his affliction, and that he takes himself for a common
sailor, and has his medal still round his neck. Our cousin is very kind,
and will do all he can. God can protect my darling at sea, as He has
ashore: and in His power alone have I any trust. Any further stay here is
vain: my heart, too, yearns for my other treasures, and dreads lest
whilst I am here, and because I am here, some evil should befall you too.
Expect me soon after this letter, and let us try and comfort one another
under this the heaviest of all our many troubles.-- With sad heart, I am,
both my darlings' loving mother and friend,
In the discussion of this letter Alfred betrayed a slight defect of
character. He pooh-poohed the calamity: said David had now a chance, and
a good one, of being cured: whereas confinement was one of the common
causes of insanity even in sane persons. And he stoutly maintained that
David's going to sea was a happy inspiration. Edward coloured, but
deigned no reply. Julia was less patient, and though she was too loving
and too womanly to tell Alfred to his face he was deceiving himself, and
arguing thus indirectly to justify himself in taking her father out of
the asylum at all, yet she saw it, and it imparted a certain coldness
into her replies. Alfred noticed this, and became less confident and
louder, and prodigiously logical.
He was still flowing on with high imperious voice, which I suppose
overpowered the sound of Mrs. Dodd's foot, when she entered suddenly,
pale and weary, in her travelling-dress.
Alfred stopped, and they all started to their feet.
At sight of Alfred she stood dumbfoundered a single moment; then uttered
a faint shriek; and looked at him with unutterable terror.
He stood disconcerted.
Julia ran, and throwing her arms round Mrs. Dodd's neck, entreated her
not to be afraid of him: he was not mad; Dr. Sampson said so. Edward
confirmed her words; and then Julia poured out the story of his wrongs
with great gushes of natural eloquence that might have melted a rock,
and, as anticlimax is part of a true woman, ended innocently by begging
her mother not to look so unkindly at him; and his ankle so sprained, and
him in such pain. For the first time in her life Mrs. Dodd was deaf to
her daughter's natural eloquence; it was remarkable how little her
countenance changed while Julia appealed. She stood looking askant with
horror at Alfred all through that gentle eloquent appeal. But
nevertheless her conduct showed she had heard every word: as soon as ever
her daughter's voice stopped, she seemed to dilate bodily, and moved
towards Alfred pale and lowering. Yes, for once this gentle quiet lady
looked terrible. She confronted Alfred, "Is this true, sir?" said she, in
a low stern voice. "Are you not insane? Have you _never_ been bereft of
"No, Mrs. Dodd, I have not."
"Then what have you done with my husband, sir?"
IT was a thunderbolt. Alfred hung his head, and said humbly, "I did but
go upstairs for one moment to wash my hands for dinner; and he was gone."
Mrs. Dodd went on in her low stern voice, almost as if he had not
answered her at all: "By what right did you assume the charge of him? Did
I authorise you to take him from the place where he was safe, and under
Alfred replied sullenly: "He was not very safe, for he was almost burnt
to death. The fire liberated him, not I. After the fire I ran away from
him: he followed me; and then what could I do? I made the best of it; and
gave up my own desires to try and cure him. He longed for the sea: I
tried to indulge him: I hoped to bring him back to you sane: but fate was
against me. I am the most unfortunate of men."
"Mr. Hardie," said Mrs. Dodd, "what you have done was the act of a
madman; and, if I believed you to be anything but a madman, the sight of
you would be intolerable to me; for you have made me a widow, and my
With this she gave a great shudder, and retired in tears.
Alfred rose, pale and defiant. "That is _her_ notion of justice," said he
bitterly; "pray is it yours, you two?"
"Well, since you ask my opinion," said Edward, "I think it was rather
presumptuous of you to undertake the care of my father: and, having
undertaken it, you ought not to have left him a moment out of your
"Oh, that is your opinion, is it? And you, dear Julia?"
Julia made no reply, but hid her face in her hands and sighed deeply.
"I see," said Alfred sorrowfully. "Even you are against me at heart. You
judge by the event, not the motive. There is no justice in this world for
me. I'm sick of life. I have no right to keep the mistress of the house
out of her own room: there, I'll go, my heart is broken. No, it is not,
and never shall be, by anything that breathes. Thank Heaven, I have got
one friend left in this bitter world: and I'll make her the judge whether
I have deserved this last injustice. _I'll go to my sister._"
He jumped up and hobbled slowly across the room, while Julia and Edward
sat chilled to the bone by those five little words, so simple, so
natural, yet so incredible, and to the hearers so awful. They started,
they shuddered, they sat petrified, staring at him, while he hobbled
across the room to go to his sister.
As he opened the door to go out he heard stout Edward groan and Julia
utter a low wail. He stood confounded a moment. Then he hobbled down a
stair or two. But, ere he had gone far, there was a hasty whispering in
the drawing-room, and Edward came after him in great agitation, and
begged him to return; Julia must speak with him. He turned, and his face
brightened. Edward saw that, and turned his own face away and stammered
out, "Forget what I said to you. I am your friend, and always must be for
her sake. No, no, I cannot go into that room with you; I'll go and
comfort mamma. Hardie, old fellow, we are very unhappy, all of us. We are
too unhappy to quarrel."
These kind words soothed Alfred's sore heart. He brightened up and
entered the drawing-room. He found Julia standing in the middle of it,
the colour of ashes. Alfred was alarmed. "You are unwell, dearest," he
cried; "you will faint. What have I done with my ungoverned temper?" He
moved towards her with a face full of concern.
"No, Alfred," said she solemnly, "I am not the least ill. It is sorrow,
deep sorrow for one I love better than all the world. Sit down beside me,
my poor Alfred; and--God help me to speak to him!"
Alfred began to feel dire misgivings.
"Yes," said she, "I love you too well to let any hand but mine wound
you." And here she took his sinewy hand with her soft palm. "I want to
soften it in the telling: and ah, how can I? Oh, why can I not throw
myself body and soul between you and all trouble, all sorrow?"
"My Julia," said Alfred gravely, "something has happened to Jane."
"Yes, Alfred. She met with a terrible accident."
"She was struck by an unfortunate man; he was not in his right mind."
"Struck? My sister struck. What, was there no man by?"
"No. Edward nearly killed him afterwards."
"God bless him."
"Alfred, be patient. It was too late."
"What, is she hurt seriously? Is she disfigured?"
"No, Alfred," said Julia solemnly; "she is not disfigured; oh far from
"Julia, you alarm me. This comes of shutting her brother up. May Heaven's
eternal curse light on those who did it. My poor little sister! How you
weep, Julia. My heart is lead."
"I weep for you, darling, not for her."
"Ah, that is how they talk when those we love are----One word! I shall
never see my poor little Jenny again; shall I?"
"Yes, Alfred; if you will but follow her steps and believe in Him, who
soothed her last hour, and made her face shine with joy like an angel's
while we all wept around. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, he said he had but
one true friend in the world. Alas it is so; you have but me now, who
pity you and love you more than heart can utter; my own, my beloved, my
What could soften such a shock as this? It fell, and his anguish was
frightful, all the more so that he ascribed the calamity to his
imprisonment, and mingled curses and threats of vengeance with his bursts
of grief. He spurned the consolations of religion: he said heaven was as
unjust as earth, as cruel as hell.
She cried out and stopped his mouth with her hand; she almost forced him
to kneel beside her, and prayed aloud for him: and when at last his agony
found vent in tears, she put her innocent arms round his neck and wept
Every now and then the poor fellow would almost shriek with remorse. "Oh,
if I had only been kinder to her! if I had but been kinder to her!"
"You were kind to her," said Julia softly, but firmly. "Oh, no; I was
always sneering at her. And why? I knew her religion was sincere: but my
little mind fixed on a few phrases she had picked up from others, and
I----" He could say no more, but groaned with anguish. And let his
remorse be a caution to us all. Bereaved we all must be, who live on and
on: but _this,_ bereavement's bitterest drop, we may avoid.
"Alfred," said Julia, "do not torment yourself. We girls care little
about a few sarcasms; it is the cold heart that wounds us. You loved
Jane, and she knew it well, and joyed in it. You were kinder to her than
you think, and so her dying thoughts were for you. It was for you she
asked, and made your father send for you, and poor I hoped you would
come. And, dearest, her last act was to write a few words to you, and
trust them to her who she knew loved you better than heart can utter.
Since it was her wish, let us try and read them together, the last words
of a saint (I have never seen them), and, if they do not prove words of
love, then I will let you think you were not a good brother to her you
and I, and poor, poor Edward, have lost."
He made a sad sign of assent; and Julia rose and got the enclosure. But,
as Jane's last written words reappeared on the scene in a somewhat
remarkable way, I will only say here, that both these poor young things
tried in vain to read them, and both in turn burst out sobbing, so that
they could not: so they held the paper and tried to see the words out of
their streaming eyes. And these two mourners had the room to themselves
till midnight; for even Mrs. Dodd's hostility respected Alfred then; and
as for Julia, she was one of those who rise with the occasion: she was
half wife, half angel from Heaven to her bereaved lover through all those
No life was ever yet a play: I mean, an unbroken sequence of dramatic
incidents. Calms will come; unfortunately for the readers, happily for
the read. And I remember seeing it objected to novelists, by a young
gentleman just putting his foot for the first time into "Criticism," that
the writers aforesaid suppress the small intermediate matters which in
real life come by the score between each brilliant event: and so present
the ordinary and the extraordinary parts of life in false proportions.
Now, if this remark had been offered by way of contrast between events
themselves and all mortal attempts to reproduce them upon paper or the
stage, it would have been philosophical; but it was a strange error to
denounce the practice as distinctive of fiction: for it happens to be the
one trait the novelist and dramatist have in common with the evangelist.
The Gospels skip fifteen years of the most interesting life Creation has
witnessed; they relate Christ's birth in full, but hurry from His boyhood
to the more stirring events of His thirtieth and subsequent years. And
all the inspired histories do much the same thing. The truth is, that
epics, dramas, novels, histories, chronicles, reports of trials at law,
in a word, all narratives true or fictitious, except those which, true or
fictitious, nobody reads, abridge the uninteresting facts as Nature never
did, and dwell as Nature never did on the interesting ones.
Can nothing, however, be done to restore, in the reader's judgment, that
just balance of "the sensational" and the "soporific," which all writers,
that have readers, disturb? Nothing, I think, without his own assistance.
But surely something with it. And, therefore, I throw myself on the
intelligence of my readers; and ask them to realise, that henceforth
pages are no strict measure of time, and that to a year big with strange
events, on which I have therefore dilated in this story, succeeded a year
in which few brilliant things happened to the personages of this tale: in
short, a year to be skimmed by chronicler or novelist, and yet (mind you)
a year of three hundred and sixty-five days six hours, or thereabouts,
and one in which the quiet, unobtrusive troubles of our friends' hearts,
especially the female hearts, their doubts, divisions, distresses, did
not remit--far from it. Now this year I propose to divide into topics,
and go by logical, rather than natural, sequence of events.
Alfred came every day to see Julia, and Mrs. Dodd invariably left the
room at his knock.
At last Julia proposed to Alfred not to come to the house for the
present; but to accompany her on her rounds as district visitor. To see
and soothe the bitter calamities of the poor had done her own heart good
in its worst distress, and she desired to apply the same medicine to her
beloved, who needed it: that was one thing: and then another was, that
she found her own anger rising when her mother left the room at that
beloved knock: and to be angry with her poor widowed, mother was a sin.
"She is as unfortunate as I am happy," thought Julia; "I have got _mine_
Alfred assented to this arrangement with rather an ill grace. He
misunderstood Julia, and thought she was sacrificing him to what he
called her mother's injustice. This indeed was the interpretation any
male would have been pretty sure to put on it. His soreness, however, did
not go very far; because she was so kind and good to him when they were
together. He used to escort her back to the door of 66: and look
imploringly; but she never asked him in. He thought her hard for this. He
did not see the tears that flowed for that mute look of his the moment
the door was closed; tears she innocently restrained for fear the sight
of them should make him as unhappy as his imploring look made her.
_Mauvais calcul!_ She should have cried right out. When we men are
unhappy, we like our sweethearts to be unhappier--that consoles _us._
But when this had gone on nearly a month, and no change, Alfred lost
patience: so he lingered one day at the door to make a request. He asked
Julia to marry him: and so put an end to this state of things.
"Marry you, child?" cried Julia, blushing like a rose with surprise and
pleasure. "Oh, for shame!"
After the first thrill, she appealed to his candour whether that would
not be miserably selfish of her to leave her poor mother in her present
distressed condition. "Ah, Alfred, _so_ pale, _so_ spiritless, and
inconsolable! My poor, poor mother!"
"You will have to decide between us two one day."
"Heaven forbid!" said Julia, turning pale at the very idea. But he
repeated doggedly that it must come to that, sooner or later. Then he
reminded her of their solemn engagement, and put it to her whether it was
a moral proceeding in her to go back from her plighted troth? What had he
done to justify her in drawing back from her word? "I admit," said he,
"that I have _suffered_ plenty of wrong for your sake: but what have I
Undeterred by the fear of immorality, the monotonous girl had but one
reply to his multiform reasons: "This is no time for me to abandon my
"Ah, it is her you love: you don't care for me," snapped Alfred.
"Don't I, dear Alfred?" murmured Julia.
"Forgive me! I'm a ruffian, a wretch."
"You are my Alfred. But oh, have a little patience, dear."
"A little patience? I have the patience of Job. But even his went at
[I ought to have said they were in the passage now. The encroaching youth
had gained an entrance by agitating her so at the door that she had to
ask him in to hide her own blushes from the public.] She now gently
reminded him how much happier they were than they had been for months.
"Dear me," said she, "I am almost happy: happier than I ought to be;
could be quite so, but that I see you discontented."
"Ah, you have so many about you that you love: I have only you."
"And that is true, my poor Alfred."
This softened him a little; and then she interwove her fingers together,
and so put both palms softly on his shoulder (you never saw a male do
that, and never will), and implored him to be patient, to be generous.
"Oh," said she, " if you knew the distress it gives me to refuse to you
anything on earth, you would be generous, and not press me when my heart
says 'Yes,' but my lips _must_ say 'No.'"
This melted him altogether, and he said he would not torment her any
But he went away discontented with himself for having yielded: my lord
did not call it "yielding," but "being defeated." And as he was not only
very deep in love, but by nature combative, he took a lodging nearly
opposite No. 66, and made hot love to her, as hot as if the attachment
was just forming. Her mother could not go out but he was at the door
directly: she could not go out but he was at her heels. This pleased her
at first and thrilled her with the sense of sweet and hot pursuit: but
by-and-by, situated as she was between him and her mother, it worried her
a little at times, and made her nervous. She spoke a little sharply to
him now and then. And that was new. It came from the nerves, not the
heart. At last she advised him to go back to Oxford. "I shall be the ruin
of your mind if we go on like this," said she sadly.
"What, leave the field to my rivals? No, thank you."
"What rivals, sir?" asked Julia, drawing up.
"Your mother, your brother, your curates that would come buzzing the
moment I left; your sick people, who bask on your smiles and your sweet
voice till I envy them: Sarah, whom you permit to brush your lovely hair,
the piano you play on, the air you deign to breathe and brighten,
everybody and everything that is near you; they are all my rivals; and
shall I resign you to them, and leave myself desolate? I'm not such a
She smiled, and could not help feeling it was sweet to be pestered. So
she said with matronly dignity, and the old Julian consistency, "You are
a foolish impetuous boy. You are the plague of my life: and--the sun of
my existence." That passed off charmingly. But presently his evil genius
prompted Alfred to endeavour to soften Mrs. Dodd by letter, and induce
her to consent to his marriage with her daughter. He received her answer
at breakfast-time. It was wonderfully polite and cold; Mrs. Dodd feigned
unmixed surprise at the proposal, and said that insanity being
unfortunately in her own family, and the suspicion of insanity resting on
himself, such a union was not to be thought of; and therefore,
notwithstanding her respect for his many good qualities, she must decline
with thanks the honour he offered her. She inserted a poisoned sting by
way of postscript. "When you succeed in publicly removing the impression
your own relations share with me, and when my husband owes his
restoration to you, instead of his destruction, of course you will
receive a very different answer to your proposal--should you then think
it consistent with your dignity to renew it."
As hostile testators used to leave the disinherited one shilling, not out
of a shilling's worth of kindly feeling, but that he might not be able to
say his name was omitted through inadvertency, so Mrs. Dodd inserted this
postscript merely to clench the nail and tantalise her enemy. It was a
masterpiece of feminine spite.
She would have been wonderstruck could she have seen how Alfred received
To be sure he sat in a cold stupor of dejection for a good half hour; but
at the end of that time he lifted up his head, and said quietly, "So be
it. I'll get the trial over, and my sanity established, as soon as
possible: and then I'll hire a yacht and hunt her husband till I find
Having settled this little plan, he looked out for Julia, whose sympathy
he felt in need of after such a stern blow.
She came out much later than usual that day, for to tell the truth, her
mother had detained her to show her Alfred's letter, and her answer.
"Ah, mamma," said poor Julia, "you don't love me as you did once. Poor
Mrs. Dodd sighed at this reproach, but said she did not deserve it. No
mother in her senses would consent to such a match.
Julia bowed her head submissively and went to her duties. But when Alfred
came to her open-mouthed to complain of her mother's cruelty, she stopped
him at once, and asked him how he could go and write that foolish,
unreasonable letter. Why had he not consulted her first? "You have
subjected yourself to a rebuff," said she angrily, "and one from which I
should have saved you. Is it nothing that mamma out of pity to me
connives at our meeting and spending hours together? Do you think she
does no violence to her own wishes here? and is she to meet with no
"What, are you against me too?" said poor Alfred.
"No, it is you who are our enemy with your unreasonable impatience."
"I am not so cold-blooded as you are, certainly."
"Humility and penitence would become you better than to retort on me. I
love you both, and pray God on my knees to show me how to do my duty to
"That is it; you are not single-hearted like me. You want to please all
the world, and reconcile the irreconcilable. It won't do: you will have
to choose between your mother and me at last."
"Then of course I shall choose my mother."
"Because she claims my duty as well as my love; because she is bowed down
with sorrow, and needs her daughter just now more than you do; besides,
you are my other self, and we must deny ourselves."
"We have no more right to be unjust to ourselves than to anybody else;
injustice is injustice."
"Alfred, you are a high-minded Heathen, and talk Morality. Morality is a
snare. What I pray to be is a Christian, as your dear sister was, and to
deny myself; and you make it, oh so difficult."
"So I suppose it will end in turning out your heathen and then taking
your curate. Your mother would consent to that directly."
"Alfred," said Julia with dignity, "these words are harsh, and--forgive
me for saying so--they are coarse. Such words would separate us two,
without my mother, if I were to hear many of them; for they take the
bloom off affection, and that mutual reverence, without which no
gentleman and lady could be blessed in holy wedlock."
Alfred was staggered and mortified too: they walked on in silence now.
"Alfred," said Julia at last, "do not think me behind you in affection,
but wiser, for once, and our best friend. I do think we had better see
less of one another for a time, my poor Alfred."
"And why for a time? Why not for ever?"
"If your heart draws no distinction, why not indeed?"
"So be it then: for I will be no woman's slave. There's my hand, Julia:
let us part friends."
"Thank you for that, dear Alfred: may you find some one who can love you
The words choked her. But he was stronger, because he was in a passion.
He reproached her bitterly. "If I had been as weak and inconstant as you
are, I might have been out of Drayton House long before I did escape. But
I was faithful to my one love. I have some right to sing 'Aileen Aroon,'
you have none. You are an angel of beauty and goodness; you will go to
Heaven, and I shall go to the devil now for want of you; but then you
have no constancy nor true fidelity: so that has parted us, and now
nothing is left me but to try and hate you."
He turned furiously on his heel.
"God bless you, go where you will," faltered Julia.
He replied with a fierce ejaculation of despair, and dashed away.
Thus temper and misunderstanding triumphed, after so many strange and
bitter trials had failed.
But alas! it is often so.
Both the parted lovers were wretched. Julia never complained, but
drooped, and read the Psalms, and Edward detected her in tears over them.
He questioned her and obtained a lame account; she being far more bent on
screening Alfred than on telling the truth.
Edward called on the other; and found him disconsolate, and reading a
Heathen philosopher for comfort, and finding none. Edward questioned him,
and he was reserved and even sulky. Sir Imperturbable persisted quietly,
and he exploded, and out came his wrongs. Edward replied that he was a
pretty fellow: wanted it all his own way. "Suppose my mother, with her
present feelings, was to take a leaf out of your book, and use all her
power; where would you be then? Come, old fellow, I know what love is,
and one of us _shall_ have the girl he loves, unless any harm should come
to my poor father owing to your blunder--oh, that would put it out of the
question, I feel--but let us hope better. I pulled you out of the fire,
and somehow I seem to like you better than ever after that; let me pull
you out of this mess too."
"Pull away," cried the impetuous youth. "I'll trust you with my life: ay,
with more than my life, with my love; for you are the man for me: reason
is always uppermost with you:
Give me the man that is not passion's slave,
And I will wear him in my heart's core, ay----"
"Oh bother that. If you are in earnest, don't mouth, but put on your hat
and come over."
He assented; but in the middle of putting on his coat, made this little
observation: "Now I see how wise the ancients were: yes, friendship is
better than love; calmer, more constant, free from the heats and chills
of that impetuous passion; its pure bosom is ruffled by none of love's
jealousies and irritabilities. Solem e mundo tollunt qui tollunt
"Oh bother quoting; come and shake hands with Julia." They went over;
Mrs. Dodd was in the city. Edward ushered in Alfred, saying, "Here is the
other Impetuosity;" and sagely retired for a few minutes. When he came
back they were sitting hand in hand, he gazing on her, she inspecting the
carpet. "That is all right," said Edward drily: "now the next thing is,
you must go back to Oxford directly, and read for your first class."
The proposal fell like a blight upon the reconciled lovers. But Edward
gave potent reasons. The delays of law were endless: Alfred's defendant
had already obtained one postponement of the trial on frivolous grounds.
Now the Oxford examination and Doncaster races come on at a fixed date,
by a Law of Nature, and admit of no "postponement swindle." "You mark my
words, you will get your class before you will get your trial, and it
won't hurt you to go into court a first-class man: will it? And then you
won't quarrel by letter, you two; I know. Come, will you do what I tell
you: or is friendship but a name? eh, Mr. Bombast?" He ended with great
though quiet force: "Come, you two, which is better, to part like the
scissors, or part like the thread?"
Similes are no arguments; that is why they convince people so: Alfred
capitulated to the scissors and thread; and only asked with abnormal
humility to be allowed to taste the joys of reconciliation for two days.
The third found him at Oxford; he called on the head of his college to
explain what had prevented his return to Exeter in the October term
twelve months ago, and asked for rooms. Instead of siding with a man of
his own college so cruelly injured, the dignitary was alarmed by the bare
accusation, and said he must consider: insanity was a terrible thing.
"So is false accusation, and so is false imprisonment," said Hardie
"Unquestionably. But I have at present no means of deciding how far those
words apply." In short, he could give no answer; must consult the other
officers, and would convey the result by letter.
Alfred's pride was deeply mortified, not less by a certain cold repugnant
manner than by the words. And there came over his heart a sickening
feeling that he was now in the eyes of men an intellectual leper.
He went to another college directly, and applied to the vice-president,
the vice-president sent him with a letter to the dean; the dean looked
frightened; and told him hesitatingly the college was full; he might put
his name down, and perhaps get in next year. Alfred retired, and learned
from the porter that the college was not full. He sighed deeply, and the
sickening feeling grew on him; an ineradicable stigma seemed upon him,
and Mrs. Dodd was no worse than the rest of the world then; every mother
in England would approve her resolutions. He wandered about the scenes of
his intellectual triumphs: he stood in the great square of the schools, a
place ugly to unprejudiced eyes, but withal somewhat grand and inspiring,
especially to scholars who have fought their keen and bloodless battles
there. He looked at the windows and gilt inscription of the Schola
Metaphysices, in which he had met the scholars of his day and defeated
them for the Ireland. He wandered into the theatre, and eyed the rostrum,
whence he had not mumbled, but recited, his Latin prize poem with more
than one thunder of academic applause: thunder compared with which Drury
Lane's us a mere cracker. These places were unchanged; but he, sad
scholar, wandered among them as if he was a ghost, and all these were
stony phantoms of an intellectual past, never, never to return.
He telegraphed Sampson and Edward to furnish him with certificates that
he had never been insane, but the victim of a foul conspiracy; and, when
he received them, he went with them to St. Margaret's Hall; for he had
bethought him that the new principal was a first-rate man, and had openly
vowed he would raise that "refuge for the oft-times phoughed" to a place
Hardie called, sent in his card, and was admitted to the principal's
study. He was about to explain who he was, when the doctor interrupted
him, and told him politely he knew him by reputation. "Tell me rather,"
said he shrewdly, "to what I owe this application from an undergraduate
so distinguished as Mr. Hardie?"
Then Alfred began to quake, and, instead of replying, put a hand suddenly
before his face, and lost courage for one moment.
"Come, Mr. Hardie," said the principal, "don't be disconcerted: a fault
regretted is half atoned; and I am not disposed to be hard on the errors
of youth; I mean where there is merit to balance them."
"Sir," said Alfred sadly, "it is not a fault I have to acknowledge, but a
"Tell me all about it," said Dr. Alder guardedly.
He told it, omitting nothing essential that could touch the heart or
excite the ironical humour of an academician.
Well, 'truth is more wonderful than fiction,'" said the doctor. And I
conclude the readers of this tale are all of the doctor's opinion; so
sweet to the mind is cant.
Alfred offered his certificates.
Now Dr. Alder had been asking himself in what phrases he should decline
this young genius, who was sane now, but of course had been mad, only had
forgotten the circumstance. But the temptation to get an Ireland scholar
into his Hall suddenly overpowered him. The probability that he might get
a first-class in a lucid interval was too enticing; nothing venture,
nothing have. He determined to venture a good deal.
"Mr. Hardie," said he, "this house shall always be open to good morals
and good scholarship while I preside over it, and it shall be open to
them all the more when they come to me dignified, and made sacred, by
Now this fine speech, like Minerva herself, came from the head. Alfred
was overcome by it to tears. At that the doctor's heart was touched, and
even began to fancy it had originated that noble speech.
It was no use doing things by halves; so Dr. Alder gave Alfred a
delightful set of rooms; and made the Hall pleasant to him. He was
rewarded by a growing conviction that he had made an excellent
acquisition. This opinion, however, was anything but universal: and
Alfred finding the men of his own college suspected his sanity, and
passed jokes behind his back, cut them all dead, and confined himself to
his little Hall. There they petted him, and crowed about him, and betted
on him for the schools as freely as if he was a colt the Hall was going
to enter for the Derby.
He read hard, and judiciously, but without his old confidence: he became
anxious and doubtful; he had seen so many first-rate men just miss a
first-class. The brilliant creature analysed all his Aristotelian
treatises, and wrote the synopses clear with marginal references on great
pasteboard cards three feet by two, and so kept the whole subject before
his eye, till he obtained a singular mastery. Same system with the
historians: nor did he disdain the use of coloured inks. Then the
brilliant creature drew lists of all the hard words he encountered in his
reading, especially in the common books, and read these lists till
mastered. The stake was singularly heavy in his case, so he guarded every
And at this period he was not so unhappy as he expected. The laborious
days went swiftly, and twice a week at least came a letter from Julia.
Oh, how his grave academic room with oaken panels did brighten, when her
letter lay on the table. It was opened, and seemed written with sunbeams.
No quarrels on paper! Absence made the heart grow fonder. And Edward came
to see him, and over their wine let out a feminine trait in Julia. "When
Hurd calls, she walks out of the room, just as my poor mother does when
you come. That is spite: since you are sent away, nobody else is to
profit by it. Where is her Christianity, eh? and echo answers-- Got a
cigar, old fellow?" And, after puffing in silence awhile, he said
resignedly, "I am an unnatural monster."
"Oh, are you?" said the other serenely; for he was also under the benign
"Yes," said Edward, "I am your ally, and a mere spy in the camp of those
two ladies. I watch all their moves for your sake."
Alfred forgave him. And thus his whole life was changed, and for nearly
twelve months (for Dr. Alder let him reside in the Hall through the
vacation) he pursued the quiet tenor of a student's life, interrupted at
times by law; but that is another topic.
WIFE AND NO WIFE.
Mrs. Dodd was visibly shaken by that calamity which made her shrink with
horror from the sight of Alfred Hardie. In the winter she was so unwell
that she gave up her duties with Messrs. Cross and Co. Her connection
with them had been creditable to both parties. I believe I forgot to say
why they trusted her so; well, I must tell it elsewhere. David off her
hands, she was independent, and had lost the motive and the heart for
severe work. She told the partners she could no longer do them justice,
and left them, to their regret. They then advised her to set up as a
milliner, and offered her credit for goods at cash prices up to two
thousand pounds. She thanked them like a sorrowful queen, and went her
In the spring she recovered some spirit and health; but at midsummer a
great and subtle misfortune befell her. Her mind was bent on David night
and day, and used to struggle to evade the laws of space that bind its
grosser companion, and find her lost husband on the sea. She often dreamt
of him, but vaguely. But one fatal night she had a dream as clear as
daylight, and sharp as white pebbles in the sun. She was on a large ship
with guns; she saw men bring a dead sailor up the side; she saw all their
faces, and the dead man's too. It was David. His face was white. A clear
voice said he was to be buried in the deep next morning. She saw the deck
at her feet, the breeches of the guns, so clear, so defined, that, when
she awoke, and found herself in the dark, she thought reality was the
illusion. She told the dream to Julia and Edward. They tried to encourage
her, in vain. "I saw him," she said, "I saw him; it was a vision, not a
dream; my David is dead. Well, then, I shall not be long behind him."
Dr. Sampson ridiculed her dream to her face. But to her children he told
another story. "I am anxious about her," he said, "most anxious. There is
no mortal ill the distempered brain may not cause. Is it not devilish we
can hear nothing of him? She will fret herself into the grave, as sure as
fate, if something does not turn up."
Her children could not console her; they tried, but something hung round
their own hearts, and chilled every effort. In a word, they shared her
fears. How came she to see him on board a ship with guns? In her waking
hours she always said he was on a merchant ship. Was it not one of those
visions, which come to mortals and give them sometimes a peep into Space,
and, far more rarely, a glance into Time?
One day in the autumn, Alfred, being in town on law business, met what
seemed the ghost of Mrs. Dodd in the streets. She saw him not; her eye
was on that ghastly face she had seen in her dreams. It flashed through
his mind that she would not live long to part him and Julia. But he
discouraged the ungenerous thought; almost forgave her repugnance to
himself, and felt it would be worse than useless to ask Julia to leave
her mother, who was leaving her visibly.
But her horror of him was anything but softened; and she used to tell Dr.
Sampson she thought the sight of that man would kill her now. Edward
himself began to hope Alfred would turn his affections elsewhere. The
house in Pembroke Street was truly the house of mourning now; all their
calamities were light compared with this.
THE DISTRICT VISITOR.
While Julia was writing letters to keep up Alfred's heart, she was very
sad herself Moreover, he had left her for Oxford but a very few days,
when she received an anonymous letter; her first. It was written in a
female hand, and couched in friendly and sympathetic terms. The writer
thought it only fair to warn her that Mr. Alfred Hardie was passionately
fond of a lady in the asylum, and had offered her marriage. If Miss Dodd
wished to be deceived, let her burn this letter and think no more of it;
if not, let her insert this advertisement in the Times: "The whole
Truth.--L. D.," and her correspondent would communicate particulars by
word or writing.
What a barbed and poisoned arrow is to the body, was this letter to
Julia's mind. She sat cold as a stone with this poison in her hand. Then
came an impetuous impulse to send it down to Alfred, and request him to
transfer the other half of his heart to his lady of the asylum. Then she
paused; and remembered how much unjust suspicion had been levelled at him
already. What right had she to insult him? She would try and keep the
letter to herself. As to acting upon it, her good sense speedily
suggested it came from the rival in question, real or supposed. "She
wants to make use of me," said Julia; "it is plain Alfred does not care
much for her; or why does she come to me?" She put the letter in her
desk, and it rankled in her heart. _Hoeret lateri lethalis arundo._ She
trembled at herself; she felt a savage passion had been touched in her.
She prayed day and night against jealousy.
But I must now, to justify my heading, skip some months, and relate a
remarkable incident that befell her in the said character. On the first
of August in this year, a good Christian woman, one of her patients,
asked her to call on Mr. Barkington, that lodged above. "He is a decent
body, miss, and between you and me, I think his complaint is, he don't
get quite enough to eat."
"Barkington!" said Julia, and put her hand to her bosom. She went and
tapped at his door.
"Come in," said a shrillish voice.
She entered, and found a weazened old man seated, mending his own coat.
He rose, and she told him she was a district visitor. He said he had
heard of her; they called her the beautiful lady in that court. This was
news to her, and made her blush. She asked leave to read a chapter to
him; he listened as to some gentle memory of childhood. She prescribed
him a glass of port wine, and dispensed it on the instant. Thus
physicked, her patient became communicative, and chattered on about his
native place--but did not name it--and talked about the people there. Now
our district visitor was, if the truth must be told, a compounder. She
would permit her pupils to talk about earthly affairs, on condition they
would listen to heavenly ones before she went. So she let this old man
run on, and he told her he had been a banker's clerk all his life, and
saved a thousand pounds, and come up to London to make his fortune on the
Stock Exchange; and there he was sometimes a bull, and sometimes a bear,
and whichever he was, certain foxes called brokers and jobbers got the
profit and he the loss. "It's all the same as a gambling-table," said he.
"The jobbers and brokers have got the same odds the bank has at Rouge et
Noir, and the little capitalist like me is doomed beforehand." Then he
told her that there was a crossing-sweeper near the Exchange who came
from his native place, and had started as a speculator, and come down to