Part 9 out of 9
"Master didn't say nothing! Your morals and your grammar are about a
match, Miss Betsy; but you'll find yourself rather in the wrong box
by-and-by, my young lady, when you find yourself committed to prison for
perjury; which crime, in a young female, is transportation for life,"
added Mr. Carter, in an awful tone.
"Oh, sir!" cried Betty, "it isn't me; it's master: and he do swear so
when he's in his tantrums. If the 'taters isn't done to his likin', sir,
he'll grumble about them quite civil at first, and then he'll work
hisself up like, and take and throw them at me one by one, and his
language gets worse with every 'tater. Oh, what am I to do, sir! I
daren't go against him. I'd a'most sooner be transported, if it don't
"Don't hurt much!" exclaimed Mr. Carter; "why, there's a ship-load of
cat-o'-nine-tails goes out to Van Diemen's Land every quarter, and
reserved specially for young females!"
"Oh! I'll tell you all about it, sir," cried Mr. Vernon's housemaid;
"sooner than be took up for perjuring, I'll tell you everything."
"I thought so," said Mr. Carter; "but it isn't much you've got to tell
me. Mr. Dunbar came here this morning on horseback, between five and
"It was ten minutes past six, sir, and I was opening the shutters."
"And the gentleman came on horseback, sir, and was nigh upon fainting
with the pain of his leg; and he sent me to call up master, and master
helped him off the horse, and took the horse to the stable; and then the
gentleman sat and rested in master's little parlour at the back of the
house; and then they sent me for a fly, and I went to the Rose and Crown
at Lisford, and fetched a fly; and before eight o'clock the gentleman
Before eight, and it was now past three. Mr. Carter looked at his watch
while the girl made her confession.
"And, oh, please don't tell master as I told you," she said; "oh, please
There was no time to be lost, and yet the detective paused for a minute,
thinking of what he had just heard.
Had the girl told him the truth; or was this a story got up to throw him
off the scent? The girl's terror of her master seemed genuine. She was
crying now, real tears, that streamed down her pale cheeks, and wetted
the handkerchief that covered the lower part of her face.
"I can find out at the Rose and Crown whether anybody did go away in a
fly," the detective thought.
"Tell your master I've searched the place, and haven't found his
friend," he said to the girl; "and that I haven't got time to wish him
The detective said this as he went down stairs. The girl went into the
little rustic porch with him, and directed him to the Rose and Crown at
He ran almost all the way to the little inn; for he was growing
desperate now, with the idea that his man had escaped him.
"Why, he can do anything with such a start," he thought to himself. "And
yet there's his lameness--that'll go against him."
At the Rose and Crown Mr. Carter was informed that a fly had been
ordered at seven o'clock that morning by a young person from Woodbine
Cottage; that the vehicle had not long come in, and that the driver was
somewhere about the stables. The driver was summoned at Mr. Carter's
request, and from him the detective ascertained that a gentleman,
wrapped up to the very nose, and wearing a coat lined with fur, and
walking very lame, had been taken up by him at Woodbine Cottage. This
gentleman had ordered the driver to go as fast as he could to
Shorncliffe station; but on reaching the station, it appeared the
gentleman was too late for the train he wanted to go by, for he came
back to the fly, limping awful, and told the man to drive to Maningsly.
The driver explained to Mr. Carter that Maningsly was a little village
three miles from Shorncliffe, on a by-road. Here the gentleman in the
fur coat had alighted at an ale-house, where he dined, and stopped,
reading the paper and drinking hot brandy-and-water till after one
o'clock. He acted altogether quite the gentleman, and paid for the
driver's dinner and brandy-and-water, as well as his own. At half-after
one he got into the fly, and ordered the man to go back to Shorncliffe
station. At five minutes after two he alighted at the station, where he
paid and dismissed the driver.
This was all Mr. Carter wanted to know.
"You get a fresh horse harnessed in double-quick time," he said, "and
drive me to Shorncliffe station."
While the horse and fly were being got ready, the detective went into
the bar, and ordered a glass of steaming brandy-and-water. He was
accustomed to take liquids in a boiling state, as the greater part of
his existence was spent in hurrying from place to place, as he was
"Sawney's got the chance this time," he thought. "Suppose he was to sell
me, and go in for the reward?"
The supposition was not a pleasant one, and Mr. Carter looked grave for
a minute or so; but he quickly relapsed into a grim smile.
"I think Sawney knows me too well for that," he said; "I think Sawney is
too well acquainted with me to try _that_ on."
The fly came round to the inn-door while Mr. Carter reflected upon this.
He sprang into the vehicle, and was driven off to the station.
At the Shorncliffe station he found everything very quiet. There was no
train due for some time yet; there was no sign of human life in the
ticket-office or the waiting-rooms.
There was a porter asleep upon his truck on the platform, and there was
one solitary young female sitting upon a bench against the wall, with
her boxes and bundles gathered round her, and an umbrella and a pair of
clogs on her lap.
Upon all the length of the platform there was no sign of Mr. Tibbles,
otherwise Sawney Tom.
Mr. Carter awoke the porter, and sent him to the station-master to ask
if any letter addressed to Mr. Henry Carter had been left in that
functionary's care. The porter went yawning to make this inquiry, and
came back by-and-by, still yawning, to say that there was such a letter,
and would the gentleman please step into the station-master's office to
claim and receive it.
The note was not a long one, nor was it encumbered by any ceremonious
_"Gent in furred coat turned up 2.10, took a ticket for Derby, 1 class,
took ticket for same place self, 2 class.--Yrs to commd, T.T."_
Mr. Carter crumpled up the note and dropped it into his pocket. The
station-master gave him all the information about the trains. There was
a train for Derby at seven o'clock that evening; and for the three and a
half weary hours that must intervene, Mr. Carter was left to amuse
himself as best he might.
"Derby," he muttered to himself, "Derby. Why, he must be going north;
and what, in the name of all that's miraculous, takes him that way?"
ON THE TRACK.
The railway journey between Shorncliffe and Derby was by no means the
most pleasant expedition for a cold spring night, with the darkness
lying like a black shroud on the flat fields, and a melancholy wind
howling over those desolate regions, across which all night-trains seem
to wend their way. I think that flat and darksome land which we look
upon out of the window of a railway carriage in the dead of the night
must be a weird district, conjured into existence by the potent magic of
an enchanter's wand,--a dreary desert transported out of Central Africa,
to make the night-season hideous, and to vanish at cock-crow.
Mr. Carter never travelled without a railway rug and a pocket
brandy-flask; and sustained by these inward and outward fortifications
against the chilling airs of the long night, he established himself in a
corner of the second-class carriage, and made the best of his situation.
Fortunately there was no position of hardship to which the detective was
unaccustomed; indeed, to be rolled up in a railway rug in the corner of
a second-class carriage, was to be on a bed of down as compared with
some of his experiences. He was used to take his night's rest in brief
instalments, and was snoring comfortably three minutes after the guard
had banged-to the door of his carriage.
But he was not permitted to enjoy any prolonged rest. The door was
banged open, and a stentorian voice bawled into his ear that hideous
announcement which is so fatal to the repose of travellers, "Change
here!" &c., &c. The journey from Shorncliffe to Derby seemed almost
entirely to consist of "changing here;" and poor Mr. Carter felt as if
he had passed a long night in being hustled out of one carriage into
another, and off one line of railway on to another, with all those
pauses on draughty platforms which are so refreshing to the worn-out
traveller who works his weary way across country in the dead of the
At last, however, after a journey that seemed interminable by reason of
those short naps, which always confuse the sleeper a estimate of time,
the detective found himself at Derby still in the dead of the night; for
to the railway traveller it is all of night after dark. Here he applied
immediately to the station-master, from whom he got another little note
directed to him by Mr. Tibbles, and very much resembling that which he
had received at Shorncliffe.
"_All right up to Derby_," wrote Sawney Tom. "_Gent in furred coat took
a ticket through to Hull. Have took the same, and go on with him
direct.--Yours to command, T.T._"
Mr. Carter lost no time after perusing this communication. He set to
work at once to find out all about the means of following his assistant
and the lame traveller.
Here he was told that he had a couple of hours to wait for the train
that was to take him on to Normanton, and at Normanton he would have
another hour to wait for the train that was to carry him to Hull.
"Ah, go it, do, while you're about it!" he exclaimed, bitterly, when the
railway official had given him this pleasing intelligence. "Couldn't you
make it a little longer? When your end and aim lies in driving a man
mad, the quicker you drive the better, I should think!"
All this was muttered in an undertone, not intended for the ear of the
railway official. It was only a kind of safety-valve by which the
detective let off his superfluous steam.
"Sawney's got the chance," he thought, as he paced up and down the
platform; "Sawney's got the trump cards this time; and if he's knave
enough to play them against me----But I don't think he'll do that; our
profession's a conservative one, and a traitor would have an uncommon
good chance of being kicked out of it. We should drop him a hint that,
considering the state of his health, we should take it kindly of him if
he would hook it; or send him some polite message of that kind; as the
military swells do when they want to get rid of a pal."
There were plenty of refreshments to be had at Derby, and Mr. Carter
took a steaming cup of coffee and a formidable-looking pile of
sandwiches before retiring to the waiting-room to take what he called "a
stretch." He then engaged the services of a porter, who was to call him
five minutes before the starting of the Normanton train, and was to
receive an illegal douceur for that civility.
In the waiting-room there was a coke fire, very red and hollow, and a
dim lamp. A lady, half buried in shawls, and surrounded by a little
colony of small packages, was sitting close to the fire, and started out
of her sleep to make nervous clutches at her parcels as the detective
entered, being in that semi-conscious state in which the unprotected
female is apt to mistake every traveller for a thief.
Mr. Carter made himself very comfortable on one of the sofas, and snored
on peacefully until the porter came to rouse him, when he sprang up
refreshed to continue his journey.
"Hull, Hull!" he muttered to himself. "His game will be to get off to
Rotterdam, or Hamburgh, or St. Petersburg, perhaps; any place that
there's a vessel ready to take him. He'll get on board the first that
sails. It's a good dodge, a very neat dodge, and if Sawney hadn't been
at the station, Mr. Joseph Wilmot would have given us the slip as neatly
as ever a man did yet. But if Mr. Thomas Tibbles is true, we shall nab
him, and bring him home as quiet as ever any little boy was took to
school by his mar and par. If Mr. Tibbles is true,--and as he don't know
too much about the business, and don't know anything about the extra
reward, or the evidence that's turned up at Winchester,--I dare say
Thomas Tibbles will be true. Human nature is a very noble thing," mused
the detective; "but I've always remarked that the tighter you tie human
nature down, the brighter it comes out."
It was morning, and the sun was shining, when the train that carried Mr.
Carter steamed slowly into the great station at Hull--it was morning,
and the sun was shining, and the birds singing, and in the fields about
the smoky town there were herds of sweet-breathing cattle sniffing the
fresh spring air, and labourers plodding to their work, and loaded wains
of odorous hay and dewy garden-stuff were lumbering along the quiet
country roads, and the new-born day had altogether the innocent look
appropriate to its tender youth,--when the detective stepped out on the
platform, calm, self-contained, and resolute, as brisk and business-like
in his manner as any traveller in that train, and with no distinctive
stamp upon him, however slight, that marked him as the hunter of a
He looked sharply up and down the platform. No, Mr. Tibbles had not
betrayed him. That gentleman was standing on the platform, watching the
passengers step out of the carriages, and looking more turnip-faced than
usual in the early sunlight. He was chewing nothing with more than
ordinary energy; and Mr. Carter, who was very familiar with the
idiosyncrasies of his assistant, knew from that sign that things had
"Well," he said, tapping Sawney Tom on the shoulder, "he's given you the
slip? Out with it; I can see by your face that he has."
"Well, he have, then," answered Mr. Tibbles, in an injured tone; "but if
he have, you needn't glare at me like that, for it ain't no fault of
mine. If you ever follered a lame eel--and a lame eel as makes no more
of its lameness than if lameness was a advantage--you'd know what it is
to foller that chap in the furred coat."
The detective hooked his arm through that of his assistant, and led Mr.
Tibbles out of the station by a door which opened on a desolate region
at the back of that building.
"Now then," said Mr. Carter, "tell me all about it, and look sharp."
"Well, I was waitin' in the Shorncliffe ticket-offis, and about five
minutes after two in comes the gent as large as life, and I sees him
take his ticket, and I hears him say Derby, on which I waits till he's
out of the offis, and I takes my own ticket, same place. Down we comes
here with more changes and botheration than ever was; and every time we
changes carriages, which we don't seem to do much else the whole time, I
spots my gentleman, limpin' awful, and lookin' about him
suspicious-like, to see if he was watched. And, of course, he weren't
watched--oh, no; nothin' like it. Of all the innercent young men as ever
was exposed to the temptations of this wicked world, there never was
sech a young innercent as that lawyer's clerk, a carryin' a blue bag,
and a tellin' a promiskruous acquaintance, loud enough for the gent in
the fur coat to hear, that he'd been telegraphed for by his master,
which was down beyond Hull, on electioneerin' business; and a cussin' of
his master promiskruous to the same acquaintance for tele-graphin' for
him to go by sech a train. Well, we come to Derby, and the furry gent,
he takes a ticket on to Hull; and we come to Normanton, and the furry
gent limps about Normanton station, and I sees him comfortable in his
carriage; and we comes to Hull, and I sees him get out on the platform,
and I sees him into a fly, and I hears him give the order, 'Victorier
Hotel,' which by this time it's nigh upon ten o'clock, and dark and
windy. Well, I got up behind the fly, and rides a bit, and walks a bit,
keepin' the fly in sight until we comes to the Victorier; and there
stoops down behind, and watches my gent hobble into the hotel, in awful
pain with that lame leg of his, judgin' the faces he makes; and he walks
into the coffee-room, and I makes bold to foller him; but there never
was sech a young innercent as me, and I sees my party sittin' warmin'
his poor lame leg, and with a carpet-bag, and railway-rug, and sechlike
on the table beside him; and presently he gets up, hobblin' worse than
ever, and goes outside, and I hears him makin' inquiries about the best
way of gettin' on to Edinborough by train; and I sat quiet, not more
than three minutes at most, becos', you see, I didn't want to _look
like_ follerin' him; and in three minutes time, out I goes, makin' as
sure to find him in the bar as I make sure of your bein' close beside me
at this moment; but when I went outside into the hall, and bar and
sechlike, there wasn't a mortal vestige of that man to be seen; but the
waiter, he tells me, as dignified and cool as yer please, that the lame
gentleman has gone out by the door looking towards the water, and has
only gone to have a look at the place, and get a few cigars, and will be
back in ten minutes to a chop which is bein' cooked for him. Well, I
cuts out by the same door, thinkin' my lame friend can't be very far;
but when I gets out on to the quay-side, there ain't a vestige of him;
and though I cut about here, there, and everywhere, lookin' for him,
until I'd nearly walked my legs off in less than half an hour's time, I
didn't see a sign of him, and all I could do was to go back to the
Victorier, and see if he'd gone back before me.
"Well, there was his carpet-bag and his railway-rug, just as he'd left
'em, and there was a little table near the fire all laid out snug and
comfortable ready for him; but there was no more vestige of hisself than
there was in the streets where I'd been lookin' for him; and so I went
out again, with the prespiration streamin' down my face, and I walked
that blessed town till over one o'clock this mornin,' lookin' right and
left, and inquirin' at every place where such a gent was likely to try
and hide hisself, and playing up Mag's divarsions, which if it was
divarsions to Mag, was oncommon hard work to me; and then I went back to
the Victorier, and got a night's lodgin'; and the first thing this
mornin' I was on my blessed legs again, and down at the quay inquirin'
about vessels, and there's nothin' likely to sail afore to-night, and
the vessel as is expected to sail to-night is bound for Copenhagen, and
don't carry passengers; but from the looks of her captain, I should say
she'd carry anythink, even to a churchyard full of corpuses, if she was
paid to do it."
"Humph! a sailing-vessel bound for Copenhagen; and the captain's a
villanous-looking fellow, you say?" said the detective, in a thoughtful
"He's about the villanousest I ever set eyes on," answered Mr. Tibbles.
"Well, Sawney, it's a bad job, certainly; but I've no doubt you've done
"Yes, I have done my best," the assistant answered, rather indignantly:
"and considerin' the deal of confidence you honoured me with about this
here cove, I don't see as I could have done hanythink more."
"Then the best thing you can do is to keep watch here for the starting
of the up-trains, while I go and keep my eye upon the station at the
other side of the water," said Mr. Carter, "This journey to Hull may
have been just a dodge to throw us off the scent, and our man may try
and double upon us by going back to London. You'll keep all safe here,
Sawney, while I go to the other side of the compass."
Mr. Carter engaged a fly, and made his way to a pier at the end of the
town, whence a boat took him across the Humber to a station on the
Lincolnshire side of the river.
Here he ascertained all particulars about the starting of the trains for
London, and here he kept watch while two or three trains started. Then,
as there was an interval of some hours before the starting of another,
he re-crossed the water, and set to work to look for his man.
First he loitered about the quays a little, taking stock of the idle
vessels, the big steamers that went to London, Antwerp, Rotterdam, and
Hamburg--the little steamers that went short voyages up or down the
river, and carried troops of Sunday idlers to breezy little villages
beside the sea. He found out all about these boats, their destination,
and the hours and days on which they were to start, and made himself
more familiar with the water-traffic of the place in half an hour than
another man could have done in a day. He also made acquaintance with the
vessel that was to sail for Copenhagen--a black sulky-looking boat,
christened very appropriately the _Crow_, with a black sulky-looking
captain, who was lying on a heap of tarpaulin on the deck, smoking a
pipe in his sleep. Mr. Carter stood looking over the quay and
contemplating this man for some moments with a thoughtful stare.
"He looks a bad 'un," the detective muttered, as he walked away; "Sawney
was right enough there."
He went into the town, and walked about, looking at the jewellers' shops
with his accustomed rapid glance--a glance so furtive that it escaped
observation--so full of sharp scrutiny that it took in every detail of
the object looked at. Mr. Carter looked at the jewellers till he came to
one whose proprietor blended the trade of money-lending with his more
aristocratic commerce. Here Mr. Carter stopped, and entered by the
little alley, within whose sombre shadows the citizens of Hull were wont
to skulk, ashamed of the errand that betrayed their impecuniosity. Mr.
Carter visited three pawnbrokers, and wasted a good deal of time before
he made any discovery likely to be of use to him; but at the third
pawnbroker's he found himself on the right track. His manner with these
gentlemen was very simple.
"I'm a detective officer," he said, "from Scotland Yard, and I have a
warrant for the apprehension of a man who's supposed to be hiding in
Hull. He's known to have a quantity of unset diamonds in his
possession--they're not stolen, mind you, so you needn't be frightened
on that score. I want to know if such a person has been to you to-day?"
"The diamonds are all right?" asked the pawnbroker, rather nervously.
"Quite right. I see the man has been here. I don't want to know anything
about the jewels: they're his own, and it's not them we're after. I want
to know about _him_. He's been here, I see--the question is, what time?"
"Not above half an hour ago. A man in a dark blue coat with a fur
"Yes; a man that walks lame."
The pawnbroker shook his head.
"I didn't see that he was lame," he said.
"Ah, you didn't notice; or he might hide it just while he was in here.
He sat down, I suppose?"
"Yes; he was sitting all the time."
"Of course. Thank you; that'll do."
With this Mr. Carter departed, much to the relief of the money-lender.
The detective looked at his watch, and found that it was half-past one.
At half-past three there was a London train to start from the station on
the Lincolnshire side of the water. The other station was safe so long
as Mr. Tibbles remained on the watch there; so for two hours Mr. Carter
was free to look about him. He went down to the quay, and ascertained
that no boat had crossed to the Lincolnshire side of the river within
the last hour. Joseph Wilmot was therefore safe on the Yorkshire side;
but if so, where was he? A man wearing a dark blue coat lined with
sable, and walking very lame, must be a conspicuous object wherever he
went; and yet Mr. Carter, with all the aid of his experience in the
detective line, could find no clue to the whereabouts of the man he
wanted. He spent an hour and a half in walking about the streets, prying
into all manner of dingy little bars and tap-rooms, in narrow back
streets and down by the water-side; and then was fain to go across to
Lincolnshire once more, and watch the departure of the train.
Before crossing the river to do this, he had taken stock of the _Crow_
and her master, and had seen the captain lying in exactly the same
attitude as before, smoking a dirty black pipe in hie sleep.
Mr. Carter made a furtive inspection of every creature who went by the
up-train, and saw that conveyance safely off before he turned to leave
the station. After doing this he lost no time in re-crossing the water
again, and landed on the Yorkshire side of the Humber as the clocks of
Hull were striking four.
He was getting tired by this time, but he was not tired of his work. He
was accustomed to spending his days very much in this manner; he was
used to taking his sleep in railway carriages, and his meals at unusual
hours, whenever and wherever he could get time to take his food. He was
getting what ha called "peckish" now, and was just going to the
coffee-room of the Victoria Hotel with the intention of ordering a steak
and a glass of brandy-and-water--Mr. Carter never took beer, which is a
sleepy beverage, inimical to that perpetual clearness of intellect
necessary to a detective--when he changed his mind, and walked back to
the edge of the quay, to prowl along once more with his hands in his
pockets, looking at the vessels, and to take another inspection of the
deck and captain of the _Crow_.
"I shouldn't wonder if my gentleman's gone and hidden himself down below
the hatchway of that boat," he thought, as he walked slowly along the
quay-side. "I've half a mind to go on board and overhaul her."
CHASING THE "CROW."
Mr. Carter was so familiar with the spot alongside which the _Crow_ lay
at anchor, that he made straight for that part of the quay and looked
down over the side, fully expecting to see the dirty captain still lying
on the tarpaulin, smoking his dirty pipe.
But, to his amazement, he saw a strange vessel where he expected to see
the _Crow_, and in answer to his eager inquiries amongst the idlers on
the quay, and the other idlers on the boats, he was told that the _Crow_
had weighed anchor half an hour ago, and was over yonder.
The men pointed to a dingy speck out seaward as they gave Mr. Carter
this information--a speck which they assured him was neither more nor
less than the _Crow_, bound for Copenhagen.
Mr. Carter asked whether she had been expected to sail so soon.
No, the men told him; she was not expected to have sailed till daybreak
next morning, and there wasn't above two-thirds of her cargo aboard her
The detective asked if this wasn't rather a queer proceeding.
Yes, the men said, it was queer; but the master of the _Crow_ was a
queer chap altogether, and more than one absconding bankrupt had sailed
for furrin parts in the _Crow_. One of the men opined that the master
had got a swell cove on board to-day, inasmuch as he had seen such a one
hanging about the quay-side ten minutes or so before the _Crow_ sailed.
"Who'll catch her?" cried Mr. Carter; "which of you will catch her for a
couple of sovereigns?"
The men shook their heads. The _Crow_ had got too much of a start, they
said, considering that the wind was in her favour.
"But there's a chance that the wind may change after dark," returned the
detective. "Come, my men, don't hang back. Who'll catch the _Crow_
yonder for a fiver, come? Who'll catch her for a fi'-pound note?"
"I will," cried a burly young fellow in a scarlet guernsey, and shiny
boots that came nearly to his waist; "me and my mate will do it, won't
Jim was another burly young fellow in a blue guernsey, a fisherman, part
owner of a little bit of a smack with a brown mainsail. The two stalwart
young fishermen ran along the quay, and one of them dropped down into a
boat that was chained to an angle in the quay-side, where there was a
flight of slimy stone steps leading down to the water. The other young
man ran off to get some of the boat's tackle and a couple of shaggy
"We'd best take something to eat and drink, sir," the young man said, as
he came running back with these things; "we may be out all night, if we
try to catch yon vessel."
Mr. Carter gave the man a sovereign, and told him to get what he thought
"You'd best have something to cover you besides what you've got on,
sir," the fisherman said; "you'll find it rare and cold on 't water
Mr. Carter assented to this proposition, and hurried off to buy himself
a railway rug; he had left his own at the railway station in Sawney
Tom's custody. He bought one at a shop near the quay, and was back to
the steps in ten minutes.
The fisherman in the blue guernsey was in the boat, which was a
stout-built craft in her way. The fisherman in the scarlet guernsey made
his appearance in less than five minutes, carrying a great stone bottle,
with a tin drinking-cup tied to the neck of it, and a rush basket filled
with some kind of provision. The stone bottle and the basket were
speedily stowed away in the bottom of the boat, and Mr. Carter was
invited to descend and take the seat pointed out to him.
"Can you steer, sir?" one of the men asked.
Yes, Mr. Carter was able to steer. There was very little that he had not
learned more or less in twenty years' knocking about the world.
He took the rudder when they had pushed out into the open water, the two
young men dipped their oars, and away the boat shot out towards that
seaward horizon on which only the keenest eyes could discover the black
speck that represented the _Crow_.
"If it should be a sell, after all," thought Mr. Carter; "and yet that's
not likely. If he wanted to double on me and get back to London, he'd
have gone by one of the trains we've watched; if he wanted to lie-by and
hide himself in the town, he wouldn't have disposed of any of his
diamonds yet awhile--and then, on the other hand, why should the _Crow_
have sailed before she'd got the whole of her cargo on board? Anyhow, I
think I have been wise to risk it, and follow the _Crow_. If this is a
wild-goose chase, I've been in wilder than this before to-day, and have
caught my man."
The little fishing smack behaved bravely when she got out to sea; but
even with the help of the oars, stoutly plied by the two young men, they
gained no way upon the _Crow_, for the black speck grew fainter and
fainter upon the horizon-line, and at last dropped down behind it
"We shall never catch her," one of the men said, helping himself to a
cupful of spirit out of the stone-bottle, in a sudden access of
despondency. "We shall no more catch t' _Crow_ than we shall catch t'
day before yesterday, unless t' wind changes."
"I doubt t' wind will change after dark," answered the other young man,
who had applied himself oftener than his companion to the stone-bottle,
and took a more hopeful view of things. "I doubt but we shall have a
change come dark."
He was looking out to windward as he spoke. He took the rudder out of
Mr. Carter's hands presently, and that gentleman rolled himself in his
new railway rug, and lay down in the bottom of the boat, with one of the
men's overcoats for a blanket and the other for a pillow, and, hushed by
the monotonous plashing of the water against the keel of the boat, fell
into a pleasant slumber, whose blissfulness was only marred by the
gridiron-like sensation of the hard boards upon which he was lying.
He awoke from this slumber to hear that the wind had changed, and that
the _Pretty Polly_--the boat belonging to the two fishermen was called
the _Pretty Polly_--was gaining on the _Crow_.
"We shall be alongside of her in an hour," one of the men said.
Mr. Carter shook off the drowsy influence of his long sleep, and
scrambled to his feet. It was bright moonlight, and the little boat left
a trail of tremulous silver in her wake as she cut through the water.
Far away upon the horizon there was a faint speck of shimmering white,
to which one of the young men pointed with his brawny finger It was the
dirty mainsail of the _Crow_ bleached into silver whiteness under the
light of the moon.
"There's scarcely enough wind to puff out a farthing candle," one of the
young men said. "I think we're safe to catch her."
Mr. Carter took a cupful of rum at the instigation of one of his
companions, and prepared himself for the business that lay before him.
Of all the hazardous ventures in which the detective had been engaged,
this was certainly not the least hazardous. He was about to venture on
board a strange vessel, with a captain who bore no good name, and with
men who most likely closely resembled their master; he was about to
trust himself among such fellows as these, in the hope of capturing a
criminal whose chances, if once caught, were so desperate that he would
not be likely to hesitate at any measures by which he might avoid a
capture. But the detective was not unused to encounters where the odds
were against him, and he contemplated the chances of being hurled
overboard in a hand-to-hand struggle with Joseph Wilmot as calmly as if
death by drowning were the legitimate end of a man's existence.
Once, while standing in the prow of the boat, with his face turned
steadily towards that speck in the horizon, Mr. Carter thrust his hand
into the breast-pocket of his coat, where there lurked the newest and
neatest thing in revolvers; but beyond this action, which was almost
involuntary, he made no sign that he was thinking of the danger before
The moon grew brighter and brighter in a cloudless sky, as the
fishing-smack shot through the water, while the steady dip of the oars
seemed to keep time to a wordless tune. In that bright moonlight the
sails of the _Crow_ grew whiter and larger with every dip of the oars
that were carrying the _Pretty Polly_ so lightly over the blue water.
As the boat gained upon the vessel she was following, Mr. Carter told
the two young men his errand, and his authority to capture the runaway.
"I think I may count on your standing by me--eh, my lads?" he asked.
Yes, the young men answered; they would stand by him to the death. Their
spirits seemed to rise with the thought of danger, especially as Mr.
Carter hinted at a possible reward for each of them if they should
assist in the capture of the runaway. They rowed close under the side of
the black and wicked-looking vessel, and then Mr. Carter, standing up in
the boat gave a "Yo-ho! aboard there!" that resounded over the great
expanse of plashing water.
A man with a pipe in his mouth looked over the side.
"Hilloa! what's the row there?" he demanded fiercely.
"I want to see the captain."
"What do you want with him?"
"That's my business."
Another man, with a dingy face, and another pipe in his mouth, looked
over the side, and took his pipe from between his lips, to address the
"What the ---- do you mean by coming alongside us?" he cried. "Get out
of the way, or we shall run you down."
"Oh, no, you won't, Mr. Spelsand," answered one of the young men from
the boat; "you'll think twice before you turn rusty with us. Don't you
remember the time you tried to get off John Bowman, the clerk that
robbed the Yorkshire Union Assurance Office--don't you remember trying
to get him off clear, and gettin' into trouble yourself about it?"
Mr. Spelsand bawled some order to the man at the helm, and the vessel
veered round suddenly; so suddenly, that had the two young men in the
boat been anything but first-rate watermen, they and Mr. Carter would
have become very intimately acquainted with the briny element around and
about them. But the young men were very good watermen, and they were
also familiar with the manners and customs of Captain Spelsand, of the
_Crow_; so, as the black-looking schooner veered round, the little boat
shot out into the open water, and the two young oarsmen greeted the
captain's manoeuvre with a ringing peal of laughter.
"I'll trouble you to lay-to while I come on board," said the detective,
while the boat bobbed up and down on the water, close alongside of the
schooner. "You've got a gentleman on board--a gentleman whom I've got a
warrant against. It can't much matter to him whether I take him now, or
when he gets to Copenhagen; for take him I surely shall; but it'll
matter a good deal to you, Captain Spelsand, if you resist my
The captain hesitated for a little, while he gave a few fierce puffs at
his dirty pipe.
"Show us your warrant," he said presently, in a sulky tone.
The detective had started from Scotland Yard in the first instance with
an open warrant for the arrest of the supposed murderer. He handed this
document up to the captain of the _Crow_, and that gentleman, who was by
no means an adept in the unseamanlike accomplishments of reading and
writing, turned it over, and examined it thoughtfully in the vivid
He could see that there were a lot of formidable-looking words and
flourishes in it, and he felt pretty well convinced that it was a
genuine document, and meant mischief.
"You'd better come aboard," he said; "you don't want _me_; that's
The captain of the _Crow_ said this with an air of sublime resignation;
and in the next minute the detective was scrambling up the side of the
vessel, by the aid of a rope flung out by one of the sailors on board
Mr. Carter was followed by one of the fishermen; and with that stalwart
ally he felt himself equal to any emergency.
"I'll just throw my eye over your place down below," he said, "if you'll
hand me a lantern."
This request was not complied with very willingly; and it was only on a
second production of the warrant that Mr. Carter obtained the loan of a
wretched spluttering wick, glimmering in a dirty little oil-lamp. With
this feeble light he turned his back upon the lovely moonlight, and
stumbled down into a low-ceilinged cabin, darksome and dirty, with
berths which were as black and dingy, and altogether as uninviting as
the shelves made to hold coffins in a noisome underground vault.
There were three men asleep upon these shelves; and Mr. Carter examined
these three sleepers as coolly as if they had indeed been the coffined
inmates of a vault. Amongst them he found a man whose face was turned
towards the cabin-wall, but who wore a blue coat and a traveller's cap
of fur, shaped like a Templar's helmet, and tied down over his ears.
The detective seized this gentleman by the fur collar of his coat and
shook him roughly.
"Come, Mr. Joseph Wilmot," he said; "get up, my man. You've given me a
fine chase for it; but you're nabbed at last."
The man scrambled up out of his berth, and stood in a stooping attitude,
for the cabin was not high enough for him, staring at Mr. Carter.
"What are you talking of, you confounded fool!" he said. "What have I
got to do with Joseph Wilmot?"
The detective had never loosed his hand from the fur collar of his
prisoner's coat. The faces of the two men were opposite to each other,
but only faintly visible in the dim light of the spluttering oil-lamp.
The man in the fur-lined coat showed two rows of wolfish teeth, bared to
the gums in a malicious grin.
"What do you mean by waking me out of sleep?" he asked. "What do you
mean by assaulting and ballyragging me in this way? I'll have it out of
you for this, my fine gentleman. You're a detective officer, are you?--a
knowing card, of course; and you've followed me all the way from
Warwickshire, and traced me, step by step, I suppose, and taken no end
of trouble, eh? Why didn't you look after the gentleman _who stayed at
home_? Why didn't you look after the poor lame gentleman who stayed at
Woodbine Cottage, Lisford, and dressed up his pretty daughter as a
housemaid, and acted a little play to sell you, you precious clever
police-officer in plain clothes. Take me with you, Mr. Detective; stop
me in going abroad to improve my mind and manners by foreign travel, do,
Mr. Detective; and won't I have a fine action against you for false
There was something in the man's tone of bravado that stamped it
genuine. Mr. Carter gnashed his teeth together in a silent fury. Sold by
that hazel-eyed housemaid with her face tied up! Sent away on a false
trail, while the criminal got off at his leisure! Fooled, duped, and
laughed at after twenty years of hard service! It was too bitter.
"Not Joseph Wilmot!" muttered Mr. Carter; "not Joseph Wilmot!"
"No more than you are, my pippin," answered the traveller, insolently.
The two men were still standing face to face. Something in that insolent
tone, something that brought back the memory of half-forgotten times,
startled the detective. He lifted the lamp suddenly, still looking in
the traveller's face, still muttering in the same half-absent tone, "Not
Joseph Wilmot!" and brought the light on a level with the other man's
"No," he cried, with a sudden tone of triumph, "not Joseph Wilmot, but
Stephen Vallance--Blackguard Steeve, the forger--the man who escaped
from Norfolk Island, after murdering one of the gaolers--beating his
brains out with an iron, if I remember right. We've had our eye on you
for a long time, Mr. Vallance; but you've contrived to give us the slip.
Yours is an old case, yours is; but there's a reward to be got for the
taking of you, for all that. So I haven't had my long journey for
The detective tried to fasten his other hand on Mr. Vallance's shoulder;
but Stephen Vallance struck down that uplifted hand with a heavy blow of
his fist, and, wresting himself from the detective's grasp, rushed up
Mr. Carter followed close at his heels.
"Stop that man!" he roared to one of the fishermen; "stop him!"
I suppose the instinct of self-preservation inspired Stephen Vallance to
make that frantic rush, though there was no possible means of escape out
of the vessel, except into the open boat, or the still more open sea. As
he receded from the advancing detective, one of the fishermen sprang
towards him from another part of the deck. Thus hemmed in by the two,
and dazzled, perhaps, by the sudden brilliancy of the moonlight after
the darkness of the place below, he reeled back against an opening in
the side of the vessel, lost his balance, and fell with a heavy plunge
into the water.
There was a sudden commotion on the deck, a simultaneous shout, as the
men rushed to the side.
"Save him!" cried the detective. "He's got a belt stuffed with diamonds
round his waist!"
Mr. Carter said this at a venture, for he did not know which of the men
had the diamond belt.
One of the fishermen threw off his shoes, and took a header into the
water. The rest of the men stood by breathless, eagerly watching two
heads bobbing up and down among the moonlit waves, two pairs of arms
buffeting with the water. The force of the current drifted the two men
far away from the schooner.
For an interval that seemed a long one, all was uncertainty. The
schooner that had made so little way before seemed now to fly in the
faint night-wind. At last there was a shout, and a head appeared above
the water advancing steadily towards the vessel.
"I've got him!" shouted the voice of the fisherman. "I've got him by the
He came nearer to the vessel, striking out vigorously with one arm, and
holding some burden with the other.
When he was close under the side, the captain of the _Crow_ flung out a
rope; but as the fisherman lifted his hand to grasp it, he uttered a
sudden cry, and raised the other hand with a splash out of the water.
"The belt's broke, and he's sunk!" he shouted.
The belt had broken. A little ripple of light flashed briefly in the
moonlight, and fell like a shower of spray from a fountain. Those
glittering drops, that looked like fountain spray, were some of the
diamonds bought by Joseph Wilmot; and Stephen Vallance, alias Blackguard
Steeve, alias Major Vernon, had gone down to the bottom of the sea,
never in this mortal life to rise again.
GIVING IT UP.
The _Pretty Polly_ went back to the port of Kingston-upon-Hull in the
grey morning light, carrying Mr. Carter, very cold and very
down-hearted--not to say humiliated--by his failure. To have been
hoodwinked by a girl, whose devotion to the unhappy wretch she called
her father had transformed her into a heroine--to have fallen so easily
into the trap that had been set for him, being all the while profoundly
impressed with the sense of his own cleverness--was, to say the least of
it, depressing to the spirits of a first-class detective.
"And that fellow Vallance, too," mused Mr. Carter, "to think that he
should go and chuck himself into the water just to spite me! There'd
have been some credit in taking him back with me. I might have made a
bit of character out of that. But, no! he goes and tumbles back'ards
into the water, rather than let me have any advantage out of him."
There was nothing for Mr. Carter to do but to go straight back to
Lisford, and try his luck again, with everything against him.
"Let me get back as fast as I may, Joseph Wilmot will have had
eight-and-forty hours' start of me," he thought; "and what can't he do
in that time, if he keeps his wits about him, and don't go wild and
foolish like, as some of 'em do, when they've got such a chance as this.
Anyhow, I'm after him, and it'll go hard with me if he gives me the slip
after all, for my blood's up, and my character's at stake, and I'd think
no more of crossing the Atlantic after him than I'd think of going over
It was a very chill and miserable time of the morning when the _Pretty
Polly_ ground her nose against the granite steps of the quay. It was a
chill and dismal hour of the morning, and Mr. Carter felt sloppy and
dirty and unshaven, as he stepped out of the boat and staggered up the
slimy stairs. He gave the two young fishermen the promised five-pound
note, and left them very well contented with their night's work,
inglorious though it had been.
There were no vehicles to be had at that early hour of the morning, so
Mr. Carter was fain to walk from the quay to the station, where he
expected to find Mr. Tibbles, or to obtain tidings of that gentleman. He
was not disappointed; for, although the station wore its dreariest
aspect, having only just begun to throb with a little spasmodic life, in
the way of an early goods-train, Mr. Carter found his devoted follower
prowling in melancholy loneliness amid a wilderness of empty carriages
and smokeless engines, with the turnip whiteness of his complexion
relieved by a red nose.
Mr. Thomas Tibbles was by no means in the best possible temper in this
chill early morning. He was slapping his long thin arms across his
narrow chest, and performing a kind of amateur double-shuffle with his
long flat feet, when Mr. Carter approached him; and he kept up the same
shuffling and the same slapping while engaged in conversation with his
superior, in a disrespectful if not defiant manner.
"A pretty game you've played me," he said, in an injured tone. "You told
me to hang about the station and watch the trains, and you'd come back
in the course of the day--you would--and we'd dine together comfortable
at the Station Hotel; and a deal you come back and dined together
comfortable. Oh, yes! I don't think so; very much indeed," exclaimed Mr.
Tibbles, vaguely, but with the bitterest derision in his voice and
"Come, Sawney, don't you go to cut up rough about it," said Mr. Carter,
"I should like to know who'd go and cut up smooth about it?" answered
the indignant Tibbles. "Why, if you could have a hangel in the detective
business--which luckily you can't, for the wings would cut out anything
as mean as legs, and be the ruin of the purfession--the temper of that
hangel would give way under what I've gone through. Hanging about this
windy station, which the number of criss-cross draughts cuttin' in from
open doors and winders would lead a hignorant person to believe there
was seventeen p'ints of the compass at the very least--hangin' about to
watch train after train, till there ain't anything goin' in the way of
sarce as yen haven't got to stand from the porters; or sittin' in the
coffee-room of the hotel yonder, watchin' and listenin' for the next
train, till bein' there to keep an appointment with your master is the
hollerest of mockeries."
Mr. Carter took his irate subordinate to the coffee-room of the Station
Hotel, where Mr. Tibbles had engaged a bed and taken a few hours' sleep
in the dead interval between the starting of the last train at night and
the first in the morning. The detective ordered a substantial breakfast,
with a couple of glasses of pale brandy, neat, to begin with; and Mr.
Tibbles' equanimity was restored, under the influence of ham, eggs,
mutton-cutlet, a broiled sole, and a quart or so of boiling coffee.
Mr. Carter told his assistant very briefly that he'd been wasting his
time and trouble on a false track, and that he should give the matter
up. Sawney Tom received this announcement with a great deal of champing
and working of the jaws, and with rather a doubtful expression in his
dull red eyes; but he accepted the payment which his employer offered
him, and agreed to depart for London by the ten o'clock train.
"And whatever I do henceforth in this business, I do single-handed," Mr.
Carter said to himself, as he turned his back upon his companion.
At five o'clock that afternoon the detective found himself at the
Shorncliffe station, where he hired a fly and drove on post-haste to
The neat little habitation of the late naval commander looked pretty
much as Mr. Carter had seen it last, except that in one of the upper
windows there was a bill--a large paper placard--announcing that this
house was to let, furnished; and that all information respecting the
same was to be obtained of Mr. Hogson, grocer, Lisford.
Mr. Carter gave a long whistle.
"The bird's flown," he muttered. "It wasn't likely he'd stop here to be
The detective rang the bell; once, twice, three times; but there was no
answer to the summons. He ran round the low garden-fence to the back of
the premises, where there was a little wooden gate, padlocked, but so
low that he vaulted over it easily, and went in amongst the budding
currant-bushes, the neat gravel-paths and strawberry-beds, that had been
erst so cherished by the naval commander. Mr. Carter peered in at the
back windows of the house, and through the little casement he saw a
vista of emptiness. He listened, but there was no sound of voices or
footsteps. The blinds were undrawn, and he could see the bare walls of
the rooms, the fireless grates, and that cold bleakness of aspect
peculiar to an untenanted habitation.
He gave a low groan.
"Gone," he muttered; "gone, as neat as ever a man went yet."
He ran back to the fly, and drove to the establishment of Mr. Hogson,
grocer and general dealer--the shop of the village of Lisford.
Here Mr. Carter was informed that the key of "Woodbine Cottage had been
given up on the evening of that very day on which he had seen Joseph
Wilmot sitting in the little parlour.
"Yes, sir, it were the night before the last," Mr. Hogson said; "it were
the night before last as a young woman wrapped up about the face like,
and dressed very plain, got out of a fly at my door; and, says she,
'Would you please take charge of this here key, and be so kind as to
show any one over the cottage as would like to see it, which of course
the commission is understood?--for my master is leaving for some time on
account of having a son just come home from India, which is married and
settled in Devonshire, and my master is going there to see him, not
having seen him this many a long year.' She was a very civil-spoken
young woman, and Woodbine Cottage has been good customers to us, both
with the old tenants and the new; so of course I took the key, willin'
to do any service as lay in my power. And if you'd like to see the
"You're very good," said Mr. Carter, with something like a groan. "No, I
won't see the cottage to-night. What time was it when the fly stopped at
"Between seven and eight."
"Between seven and eight. Just in time to catch the mail from Rugby. Was
it one of the Rose-and-Crown flies, d'ye think?"
"Oh, yes, the fly belonged to Lisford. I'm sure of that, for Tim Baling
was drivin' it and wished me good-night."
Mr. Carter left the Lisford emporium, and ran over to the Rose and
Crown, where he saw the man who had driven him to Shorncliffe station.
This man told the detective that he had been fetched in the evening by
the same young woman who fetched him in the morning, and that he had
driven another gentleman, who walked lame like the first, and had his
head and face wrapped up a deal, not to Shorncliffe station, but to
little Petherington station, six miles on the Rugby side of Shorncliffe,
where the gentleman and the young woman who was with him got into a
second-class carriage in the slow train for Rugby. The gentleman had
said, laughing, that the young woman was his housemaid, and he was
taking her up to town on purpose to be married to her. He was a very
pleasant-spoken gentleman, the flyman added, and paid uncommon liberal.
"I dare say he did," muttered Mr. Carter.
He gave the man a shilling for his information, and went back to the fly
that had brought him to the station. It was getting on for seven o'clock
by this time, and Joseph Wilmot had had eight-and-forty hours' start of
him. The detective was quite down-hearted now.
He went up to London by the same train which he had every reason to
suppose had carried Joseph Wilmot and his daughter two nights before,
and at the Euston terminus he worked very hard on that night and on the
following day to trace the missing man. But Joseph Wilmot was only a
drop in the great ocean of London life. The train that was supposed to
have brought him to town was a long train, coming through from the
north. Half-a-dozen lame men with half-a-dozen young women for their
companions might have passed unnoticed in the bustle and confusion of
the arrival platform.
Mr. Carter questioned the guards, the ticket-collectors, the porters,
the cabmen; but not one among them gave him the least scrap of available
information. He went to Scotland Yard despairing, and laid his case
before the authorities there.
"There's only one way of having him," he said, "and that's the diamonds.
From what I can make out, he had no money with him, and in that case
he'll be trying to turn some of those diamonds into cash."
The following advertisement appeared in the Supplement to the _Times_
for the next day:
"_To Pawnbrokers and Others.--A liberal reward will be given to any
person affording information that may lead to the apprehension of a tall
man, walking lame, who is known to have a large quantity of unset
diamonds in his possession, and who most likely has attempted to dispose
of the same_."
But this advertisement remained unanswered.
"They're too clever for us, sir," Mr. Carter remarked to one of the
Scotland-Yard officials. "Whoever Joseph Wilmot may have sold those
diamonds to has got a good bargain, you may depend upon it, and means to
stick to it. The pawnbrokers and others think our advertisement a plant,
you may depend upon it"
CLEMENT'S STORY.--BEFORE THE DAWN.
"I went back to my mother's house a broken and a disappointed man. I had
solved the mystery of Margaret's conduct, and at the same time had set a
barrier between myself and the woman I loved.
"Was there any hope that she would ever be my wife? Reason told me that
there was none. In her eyes I must henceforth appear the man who had
voluntarily set himself to work to discover her father's guilt, and
track him to the gallows.
"_Could_ she ever again love me with this knowledge in her mind? Could
she ever again look me in the face, and smile at me, remembering this?
The very sound of my name must in future be hateful to her.
"I knew the strength of my noble girl's love for her reprobate father. I
had seen the force of that affection tested by so many cruel trials. I
had witnessed my poor girl's passionate grief at Joseph Wilmot's
supposed death: and I had seen all the intensity of her anguish when the
secret of his existence, which was at the same time the secret of his
guilt, became known to her.
"'She renounced me then, rather than renounce that guilty wretch,' I
thought; 'she will hate me now that I have been the means of bringing
his most hideous crime to light.'
"Yes, the crime was hideous--almost unparalleled in horror. The
treachery which had lured the victim to his death seemed almost less
horrible than the diabolical art which had fixed upon the name of the
murdered man the black stigma of a suspected crime.
"But I knew too well that, in all the blackness of his guilt, Margaret
Wilmot would cling to her father as truly, as tenderly, as she had clung
to him in those early days when the suspicion of his worthlessness had
been only a dark shadow for ever brooding between the man and his only
child. I knew this, and I had no hope that she would ever forgive me for
my part in the weaving of that strange chain of evidence which made the
condemnation of Joseph Wilmot.
"These were the thoughts that tormented me during the first fortnight
after my return from the miserable journey to Winchester; these were the
thoughts for ever revolving in my tired brain while I waited for tidings
from the detective.
"During all that time it never once occurred to me that there was any
chance, however remote, of Joseph Wilmot's escape from his pursuer.
"I had seen the science of the detective police so invariably triumphant
over the best-planned schemes of the most audacious criminals, that I
should have considered--had I ever debated the question, which I never
did--Joseph Wilmot's evasion of justice an actual impossibility. It was
most likely that he would be taken at Maudesley Abbey entirely
unprepared, in his ignorance of the fatal discovery at Winchester; an
easy prey to the experienced detective.
"Indeed, I thought that his immediate arrest was almost a certainty; and
every morning, when I took up the papers, I expected to see a prominent
announcement to the effect that the long-undiscovered Winchester mystery
was at last solved, and that the murderer had been taken by one of the
"But the papers gave no tidings of Joseph Wilmot; and I was surprised,
at the end of a week's time, to read the account of a detective's
skirmish on board a schooner some miles off Hull, which had resulted in
the drowning of one Stephen Vallance, an old offender. The detective's
name was given as Henry Carter. Were there two Henry Carters in the
small band of London detective police? or was it possible that my Henry
Carter could have given up so profitable a prize as Joseph Wilmot in
order to pursue unknown criminals upon the high seas? A week after I had
read of this mysterious adventure, Mr. Carter made his appearance at
Clapham, very grave of aspect and dejected of manner.
"'It's no use, sir,' he said; 'it's humiliating to an officer of my
standing in the force; but I'd better confess it freely. I've been sold,
sir--sold by a young woman too, which makes it three times as
mortifying, and a kind of insult to the male sex in general!'
"My heart gave a great throb.
"'Do you mean that Joseph Wilmot has escaped? I asked.
"He has, sir; as clean as ever a man escaped yet. He hasn't left this
country, not to my belief, for I've been running up and down between the
different outports like mad. But what of that? If he hasn't left the
country, and if he doesn't mean to leave the country, so much the better
for him, and so much the worse for those that want to catch him. It's
trying to leave England that brings most of 'em to grief, and Joseph
Wilmot's an old enough hand to know that. I'll wager he's living as
quiet and respectable as any gentleman ever lived yet.'
"Mr. Carter went on to tell me the whole story of his disappointments
and mortifications. I could understand all now: the moonlit figure in
the Winchester street, the dusky shadow beneath the dripping branches in
the grove. I could understand all now: my poor girl--my poor, brave
"When I was alone, I rendered up my thanks to Heaven for the escape of
Joseph Wilmot. I had done nothing to impede the course of justice,
though I had known full well that the punishment of the evil-doer would
crush the bravest and purest heart that ever beat in an innocent woman's
bosom. I had not dared to attempt any interposition between Joseph
Wilmot and the punishment of his crime; but I was, nevertheless, most
heartily thankful that Providence had suffered him to escape that
hideous earthly doom which is supposed to be the wisest means of ridding
society of a wretch.
"But for the wretch himself, surely long years of penitence must make a
better expiation of his guilt than that one short agony--those few
spasmodic throes, which render his death such a pleasant spectacle for a
"I was glad, for the sake of the guilty and miserable creature himself,
that Joseph Wilmot had escaped. I was still gladder for the sake of that
dear hope which was more to me than any hope on earth--the hope of
making Margaret my wife.
"'There will be no hideous recollection interwoven with my image now,' I
thought; 'she will forgive me when I tell her the history of my journey
to Winchester. She will let me take her away from the companionship that
must be loathsome to her, in spite of her devotion. She will let me
bring her to a happy home as my cherished wife.'
"I thought this, and then in the next moment I feared that Margaret
might cling persistently to the dreadful duty of her life--the duty of
shielding and protecting a criminal; the duty of teaching a wicked man
to repent of his sins.
"I inserted an advertisement in the Times newspaper, assuring Margaret
of my unalterable love and devotion, which no circumstances could
lessen, and imploring her to write to me. Of course the advertisement
was so worded as to give no clue to the identity of the person to whom
it was addressed. The acutest official in Scotland Yard could have
gathered nothing from the lines 'From C. to M.,' so like other appeals
made through the same medium.
"But my advertisement remained unanswered--no letter came from Margaret.
"The weeks and months crept slowly past. The story of the evidence of
the clothes found at Winchester was made public, together with the
history of Joseph Wilmot's flight and escape. The business created a
considerable sensation, and Lord Herriston himself went down to
Winchester to witness the exhumation of the remains of the man who had
been buried under the name of Joseph Wilmot.
"The dead man's face was no longer recognizable. Only by induction was
the identity of Henry Dunbar ever established: but the evidence of the
identity was considered conclusive by all who were interested in the
question. Still I doubt whether, in the fabric of circumstantial
evidence against Joseph Wilmot, legal sophistry could not have
discovered some loophole by which the murderer might have escaped the
full penalty of his crime.
"The remains were removed from Winchester to Lisford Church, where
Percival Dunbar was buried in a vault beneath the chancel. The murdered
man's coffin was placed beside that of his father, and a simple marble
tablet recording the untimely death of Henry Dunbar, cruelly and
treacherously assassinated in a grove near Winchester, was erected by
order of Lady Jocelyn, who was abroad with her husband when the story of
her father's death was revealed to her.
"The weeks and months crept by. The revelation of Joseph Wilmot's guilt
left me free to return to my old position in the house of Dunbar,
Dunbar, and Balderby. But I had no heart to go back to the old business
now the hope that had made my commonplace city life so bright seemed for
ever broken. I was surprised, however, into a confession of the truth by
the good-natured junior partner, who lived near us on Clapham Common,
and who dropped in sometimes as he went by my mother's gate, to while
away an idle half-hour in some political discussion.
"He insisted upon my returning to the office directly he heard the
secret of my resignation. The business was now entirely his; for there
had been no one to succeed Henry Dunbar, and Mr. John Lovell had sold
the dead man's interest on behalf of his client, Lady Jocelyn. I went
back to my old post, but not to remain long in my old position; for a
week after my return Mr. Balderby made me an offer which I considered as
generous as it was flattering, and which I ultimately and somewhat
"By means of this new and most liberal arrangement, which demanded from
me a very moderate amount of capital, I became junior partner in the
firm, which was now conducted under the names of Dunbar, Dunbar,
Balderby, and Austin. The double Dunbar was still essential to us,
though the last of the male Dunbars was dead and buried under the
chancel of Lisford Church. The old name was the legitimate stamp of our
dignity as one of the oldest Anglo-Indian banking firms in the city of
"My new life was smooth enough, and there was so much business to be got
through, so much responsibility vested in my hands--for Mr. Balderby was
getting fat and lazy, as regarded affairs in the City, though untiring
in the production of more forced pine-apples and hothouse grapes than he
could consume or give away--that I had not much leisure in which to
think of the one sorrow of my life. A City man may break his heart for
disappointed love, but he must do it out of business hours if he
pretends to be an honourable man: for every sorrowful thought which
wanders to the loved and lost is a separate treason against the 'house'
"Smoking my after-dinner cigar in the narrow pathways and miniature
shrubberies of my mother's garden, I could venture to think of my lost
Margaret; and I did think of her, and pray for her with as fervent
aspirations as ever rose from a man's faithful heart. And in the dusky
stillness of the evening, with the faint odour of dewy flowers round me,
and distant stars shining dimly in that far-off opal sky; against which
the branches of the elms looked so black and dense, I used to beguile
myself--or it may be that the influence of the scene and hour beguiled
me--into the thought that my separation from Margaret could be only a
temporary one. We loved each other so truly! And after all, what under
heaven is stronger than love? I thought of my poor girl in some lonely,
melancholy place, hiding with her guilty father; in daily companionship
with a miserable wretch, whose life must be made hideous to himself by
the memory of his crime. I thought of the self-abnegation, the heroic
devotion, which made Margaret strong enough to endure such an existence
as this: and out of my belief in the justice of Heaven there grew up in
my mind the faith in a happier life in store for my noble girl.
"My mother supported me in this faith. She knew all Margaret's story
now, and she sympathized with my love and admiration for Joseph Wilmot's
daughter. A woman's heart must have been something less than womanly if
it could have tailed to appreciate my darling's devotion: and my mother
was about the last of womankind to be wanting in tenderness and
compassion for any one who had need of her pity and was worthy of her
"So we both cherished the thought of the absent girl in our minds,
talking of her constantly on quiet evenings, when we sat opposite to
each other in the snug lamp-lit drawing-room, unhindered by the presence
of guests. We did not live by any means a secluded or gloomy life, for
my mother was fond of pleasant society: and I was quite as true to
Margaret while associating with agreeable people, and hearing cheerful
voices buzzing round me, as I could have been in a hermitage whose
stillness was only broken by the howling of the storm.
"It was in the dreariest part of the winter which followed Joseph
Wilmot's escape that an incident occurred which gave me a
strangely-mingled feeling of pleasure and pain. I was sitting one
evening in my mother's breakfast-parlour--a little room situated close
to the hall-door--when I heard the ringing of the bell at the
garden-gate. It was nine o'clock at night, a bitter wintry night, in
which I should least have expected any visitor. So I went on reading my
paper, while my mother speculated about the matter.
"Three minutes after the bell had rung, our parlour-maid came into the
room, and placed something on the table before me.
"'A parcel, sir,' she said, lingering a little; perhaps in the hope
that, in my eager curiosity, I might immediately open the packet, and
give her an opportunity of satisfying her own desire for information.
"I put aside my newspaper, and looked down at the object before me.
"Yes, it was a parcel--a small oblong box--about the size of those
pasteboard receptacles which are usually associated with Seidlitz
powders--an oblong box, neatly packed in white paper, secured with
several seals, and addressed to Clement Austin, Esq., Willow Bank,
"But the hand, the dear, well-known hand, which had addressed the
packet--my blood thrilled through my veins as I recognized the familiar
"'Who brought this parcel?' I asked, starting from my comfortable
easy-chair, and going straight out into the hall.
"The astonished parlour-maid told me that the packet had been given her
by a lady, 'a lady who was dressed in black, or dark things,' the girl
said, 'and whose face was quite hidden by a thick veil.' After leaving
the small packet, this lady got into a cab a few paces from our gate,
the girl added, 'and the cab had tore off as fast as it could tear!'
"I went out into the open yard, and looked despairingly London-wards.
There was no vestige of any cab: of course there had been ample time for
the cab in question to get far beyond reach of pursuit. I felt almost
maddened with this disappointment and vexation. It was Margaret,
Margaret herself most likely, who had come to my door; and I had lost
the opportunity of seeing her.
"I stood staring blankly up and down the road for some time, and then
went back to the parlour, where my mother, with pardonable weakness, had
pounced upon the packet, and was examining it with eyes opened to their
"'It is Margaret's hand!' she exclaimed. 'Oh, do open--do, please, open
it directly. What on earth can it be?'
"I tore off the white paper covering, and revealed just such an object
as I had expected to see--a box, a common-place pasteboard box, tied
securely across and across with thin twine. I cut the twine and opened
the box. At the top there was a layer of jewellers' wool, and on that
being removed, my mother gave a little shriek of surprise and
"The box contained a fortune--a fortune in the shape of unset diamonds,
lying as close together as their nature would admit--unset diamonds,
which glittered and flashed upon us in the lamplight.
"Inside the lid there was a folded paper, upon, which the following
lines were written in the dear hand, the never-to-be-forgotten hand:
"'EVER-DEAREST CLEMENT,--_The sad and miserable secret which led to our
parting is a secret no longer. You know all, and you have no doubt
forgiven, and perhaps in part forgotten, the wretched woman to whom your
love was once so dear, and to whom the memory of your love will ever be
a consolation and a happiness. If I dared to pray to you to think
pitifully of that most unhappy man whose secret is now known to you, I
would do so; but I cannot hope for so much mercy from men: I can only
hope it from God, who in His supreme wisdom alone can fathom the
mysteries of a repentant heart. I beg of you to deliver to Lady Jocelyn
the diamonds I place in your hands. They belong of right to her; and I
regret to say they only represent apart of the money withdrawn from the
funds in the name of Henry Dunbar. Good-bye, dear and generous friend;
this it the last you will ever hear of one whose name must sound odious
to the ears of honest men. Pity me, and forget me; and may a happier
woman be to you that which I can never be!_ M. W.'
"This was all. Nothing could be firmer than the tone of this letter, in
spite of its pensive gentleness. My poor girl could not be brought to
believe that I should hold it no disgrace to make her my wife, in spite
of the hideous story connected with her name. In my vexation and
disappointment, I appealed once more to the unfailing friend of parted
or persecuted lovers, the Jupiter of Printing-House Square.
"'_Margaret_,' I wrote in the advertisement which adorned the second
column of the _Times_ Supplement on twenty consecutive occasions, '_I
hold you to your old promise, and consider the circumstances of our
parting as in no manner a release from your old engagement. The greatest
wrong you can inflict upon me will be inflicted by your desertion_.
"This advertisement was as useless as its predecessor. I looked in vain
for any answer.
"I lost no time in fulfilling the commission intrusted to me I went down
to Shorncliffe, and delivered the box of diamonds into the hands of John
Lovell, the solicitor; for Lady Jocelyn was still on the Continent. He
packed the box in paper, and made me seal it with my signet-ring, in the
presence of one of his clerks, before he put it away in an iron safe
near his desk.
"When this was done, and when the _Times_ advertisement had been
inserted for the twentieth time without eliciting any reply, I gave
myself up to a kind of despair about Margaret. She had failed to see my
advertisement, I thought; for she would scarcely have been so
hard-hearted as to leave it unanswered. She had failed to see this
advertisement, as well as the previous appeal made to her through the
same medium, and she would no doubt fail to see any other. I had reason
to know that she was, or had been, in England, for she would scarcely
have intrusted the diamonds to strange hands; but it was only too likely
that she had chosen the very eve of her own and her father's departure
for some distant country as the most fitting time at which to leave the
valuable parcel with me.
"'Her influence over her father must be complete,' I thought, 'or he
would scarcely have consented to surrender such a treasure as the
diamonds. He has most likely retained enough to pay the passage out to
America for himself and Margaret; and my poor darling will wander with
her wretched father into some remote corner of the United States, where
she will be hidden from me for ever.'
"I remembered with unspeakable pain how wide the world was, and how easy
it would be for the woman I loved to be for ever lost to me.
"I gave myself up to despair; it was not resignation, for my life was
empty and desolate without Margaret; try as I might to carry my burden
quietly, and put a brave face upon my sorrow. Up to the time of
Margaret's appearance on that bleak winter's night, I had cherished the
hope--or even more than hope--the belief that we should be reunited: but
after that night the old faith in a happy future crumbled away, and the
idea that Joseph Wilmot's daughter had left England grew little by
little into conviction.
"I should never see her again. I fully believed this now. There was
never to be any more sunshine in my life: and there was nothing for me
to do but to resign myself to the even tenor of an existence in which
the quiet duties of a business career would leave little time for any
idle grief or lamentation. My sorrow was a part of my life: but even
those who knew me best failed to fathom the depth of that sorrow. To
them I seemed only a grave business man, devoted to the dry details of a
"Eighteen months had passed since the bleak winter's night on which the
box of diamonds had been intrusted to me; eighteen months, so slow and
quiet in their course that I was beginning to feel myself an old man,
older than many old men, inasmuch as I had outlived the wreck of the one
bright hope which had made life dear to me. It was midsummer time, and
the counting-house in St. Gundolph Lane, and the parlour in which--in
virtue of my new position--I had now a right to work, seemed peculiarly
hot and frowsy, dusty and obnoxious. My work being especially hard at
this time knocked me up; and I was compelled, under pain of solemn
threats from my mother's pet medical attendant, to stay at home, and
take two or three days' rest. I submitted, very unwillingly; for however
dusty and stifling the atmosphere in St. Gundolph Lane might be, it was
better to be there, victorious over my sorrow, by means of man's
grandest ally in the battle with black care--to wit, hard work--than to
be lying on the sofa in my mother's pleasant drawing-room, listening to
the cheery click of two knitting-needles, and thinking of my wasted
"I submitted, however, to take the three days' holiday; and on the
second day, after a couple of hours' penance on the sofa, I got up,
languid and tired still, but bent on some employment by which I might
escape from the sad monotony of my own thoughts.
"'I think I'll go into the next room and put my papers to rights,
mother,' I said.
"My dear indulgent mother remonstrated: I was to rest and keep myself
quiet, she said, and not to worry myself about papers and tiresome
things of that kind, which appertained only to the office. But I had my
own way, and went into the little room, where there were flowers
blooming and caged birds singing in the open window.
"This room was a sort of snuggery, half library, half breakfast-parlour,
and it was in this room my mother and I had been sitting on the night on
which the diamonds had been brought to me.
"On one side of the fireplace stood my mother's work-table, on the other
the desk at which I wrote, whenever I wrote any letters at home--a
ponderous old-fashioned office desk, with a row of drawers on each side,
a deep well in the centre, and under that a large waste-paper basket,
full of old envelopes and torn scraps of letters.
"I wheeled a comfortable chair up to the desk, and began my task. It
was a very long one, and involved a great deal of folding, sorting, and
arranging of documents, which perhaps were scarcely worth the trouble I
took with them. At any rate, the work kept my fingers employed, though
my mind still brooded over the old trouble.
"I sat for nearly three hours; for it was a very long time since I had
had a day's leisure, and the accumulation of letters, bills, and
receipts was something very formidable. At last all was done, the
letters and bills endorsed and tied into neat packets that would have
done credit to a lawyer's office; and I flung myself back in my chair
with a sigh of relief.
"But I had not finished my work yet; for I drew out the waste-paper
basket presently, and emptied its contents upon the floor, in order that
I might make sure of there being no important paper thrown by chance
amongst them, before I consigned them to be swept away by the housemaid.
"I tossed over the chaotic fragments, the soiled envelopes, the
circulars of enterprising Clapham tradesmen, and all the other rubbish
that had accumulated within the last two years. The dust floated up to
my face and almost blinded me.
"Yes, there was something of consequence amongst the papers--something,
at least, which I should have held it sacrilegious to consign to Molly,
the housemaid--the wrapper of the box containing the diamonds; the paper
wrapper, directed in the dear hand I loved, the hand of Margaret Wilmot.
"I must have left the wrapper on the table on the night when I received
the box, and one of the servants had no doubt put it into the
waste-paper basket. I picked up the sheet of paper and folded it neatly;
it was a very small treasure for a lover to preserve, perhaps: but then
I had so few relics of the woman who was to have been my wife.
"As I folded the paper, I looked, half in absence of mind, at the stamp
in the corner. It was an old-fashioned sheet of Bath post, stamped with
the name of the stationer who had sold it--Jakins, Kylmington.
Kylmington; yes, I remembered there was a town in Hampshire,--a kind of
watering-place, I believed,--called Kylmington! And the paper had been
bought there--and if so, it was more than likely that Margaret had been
"Could it be so? Could it be really possible that in this sheet of paper
I had found a clue which would help me to trace my lost love? Could it
be so? The new hope sent a thrill of sudden life and energy through my
veins. Ill--worn out, knocked up by over-work? Who could dare to say I
was any thing of the kind? I was as strong as Hercules.
"I put the folded paper in the breast-pocket of my coat, and took down
Bradshaw. Dear Bradshaw, what an interesting writer you seemed to me on
that day! Yes, Kylmington was in Hampshire; three hours and a half from
London, with due allowance for delays in changing carriages. There was a
train would convey me from Waterloo to Kylmington that afternoon--a
train that would leave Waterloo at half-past three.
"I looked at my watch. It was half-past two. I had only an hour for all
my preparations and the drive to Waterloo. I went to the drawing-room,
where my mother was still sitting at work near the open window. She
started when she saw my face, for my new hope had given it a strange
"'Why, Clem,' she said, 'you look as pleased as if you'd found some
treasure among your papers.'
"'I hope I have, mother. I hope and believe that I have found a clue
that will enable me to trace Margaret.'
"'You don't mean it?'
"'I've found the name of a town which I believe to be the place where
she was staying before she brought those diamonds to me. I am going
there to try and discover some tidings of her. I am going at once. Don't
look anxious, dear mother; the journey to Kylmington, and the hope that
takes me there, will do me more good than all the drugs in Mr. Bainham's
surgery. Be my own dear indulgent mother, as you have always been, and
pack me a couple of clean shirts in a portmanteau. I shall come back
to-morrow night, I dare say, as I've only three days' leave of absence
from the office.'
"My mother, who had never in her life refused me anything, did not long
oppose me to-day. A hansom cab rattled me off to the station; and at
five minutes before the half-hour I was on the platform, with my ticket
for Kylmington in my pocket."
"The clock of Kylmington church, which was as much behind any other
public timekeeper I had ever encountered as the town of Kylmington was
behind any other town I had ever explored, struck eight as I opened the
little wooden gate of the churchyard, and went into the shade of an
avenue of stunted sycamores, which was supposed to be the chief glory of
"It was twenty minutes past eight by London time, and the summer sun had
gone down, leaving all the low western sky bathed in vivid yellow light,
which deepened into crimson as I watched it.
"I had been more than an hour and a half in Kylmington. I had taken some
slight refreshment at the principal hotel--a queer, old-fashioned place,
with a ruinous, weedy appearance pervading it, and the impress of
incurable melancholy stamped on the face of every scrap of rickety
furniture and lopsided window-blind. I had taken some slight
refreshment--to this hour I don't know _what_ it was I ate upon that
balmy summer evening, so entirely was my mind absorbed by that bright
hope, which was growing brighter and brighter every moment. I had been
to the stationer's shop, which still bore above its window the faded
letters of the name 'Jakins,' though the last of the Jakinses had long
left Kylmington. I had been to this shop, and from a good-natured but
pensive matron I had heard tidings that made my bright hope a still
"I began business by asking if there was any lady in Kylmington who gave
lessons in music and singing.
"'Yes,' Mr. Jakins's successor told me, 'there were two music-mistresses
in the town--one was Madame Carinda, who taught at Grove House, the
fashionable ladies' school; the other was Miss Wilson, whose terms were
lower than Madame Carinda's--though Madame wasn't a bit a foreigner
except by name--and who was much respected in the town. Likewise her
papa, which had been quite the gentleman, attending church twice every
Sunday as regular as the day came round, and being quite a picture of
respectability, with his venerable pious-looking grey hair.'
"I gave a little start as I heard this.
"'Miss Wilson lived with her papa, did she?' I asked.
"'Yes,' the woman told me; 'Miss Wilson had lived with her papa till the
poor old gentleman's death.'
"'Oh, he was dead, then?'
"'Yes, Mr. Wilson had died in the previous December, of a kind of
decline, fading away like, almost unbeknown; and being, oh, so
faithfully nursed and cared for by that blessed daughter of his. And
people did say that he had once been very wealthy, and had lost his
money in some speculation; and the loss of it had preyed upon his mind,
and he had fallen into a settled melancholy like, and was never seen to
"The woman opened a drawer as she talked to me, and, after turning over
some papers, took out a card--a card with embossed edges, fly-spotted,
and dusty, and with a little faded blue ribbon attached to it--a card on
which there was written, in the hand I knew so well, an announcement
that Miss Wilson, of the Hermitage, would give instruction in music and
singing for a guinea a quarter.
"I had been about to ask for a description of the young music-mistress,
but I had no need to do so now.
"'Miss Wilson _is_ the young lady I wish to see,' I said. 'Will you
direct me to the Hermitage? I will call there early to-morrow morning.'
"The proprietress of Jakins's, who was, I dare say, something of a
matchmaker, after the manner of all good-natured matrons, smiled
"'I know where you could see Miss Wilson, nearer than the Hermitage,'
she said, 'and sooner than to-morrow morning. She works very hard all
day,--poor, dear, delicate-looking young thing; but every evening when
it's tolerably fine, she goes to the churchyard. It's the only walk I've
ever seen her take since her father's death. She goes past my window
regular every night, just about when I'm shutting up, and from my door I
can see her open the gate and go into the churchyard. It's a doleful
walk to take alone at that time of the evening, to be sure, though some
folks think it's the pleasantest walk in all Kylmington.'
"It was in consequence of this conversation that I found myself under
the shadow of the trees while the Kylmington clock was striking eight.
"The churchyard was a square flat, surrounded on all sides by a low
stone wall, beyond which the fields sloped down to the mouth of a river
that widened into the sea at a little distance from Kylmington, but
which hereabouts had a very dingy melancholy look when the tide was out,
as it was to-night.
"There was no living creature except myself in the churchyard as I came
out of the shadow of the trees on to the flat, where the grass grew long
among the unpretending headstones.
"I looked at all the newest stones till I came at last to one standing
in the obscurest corner of the churchyard, almost hidden by the low
"There was a very brief inscription on this modest headstone; but it was
enough to tell me whose ashes lay buried under the spot on which I
_"To the Memory of
Who died December 19, 1853.
'Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner!'_
"I was still looking at this brief memorial, when I heard a woman's
dress rustling upon the long rank grass, and turning suddenly, saw my
darling coming towards me, very pale, very pensive, but with a kind of
seraphic resignation upon her face which made her seem to me more
beautiful than I had ever seen her before.
"She started at seeing me, but did not faint. She only grew paler than
she had been before, and pressed her two hands on her breast, as if to
still the sudden tumult of her heart.
"I made her take my arm and lean upon it, and we walked up and down the
narrow path talking until the last low line of light faded out of the
"All that I could say to her was scarcely enough to shake her
resolution--to uproot her conviction that her father's guilt was an
insurmountable barrier between us. But when I told her of my broken
life--when, in the earnestness of my pleading, she perceived the proof
of a constancy that no time could shake, I could see that she wavered.
"'I only want you to be happy, Clement,' she said. 'My former life has
been such an unhappy one, that I tremble at the thought of linking it to
yours. The shame, Clement--think of _that_. How will you answer people
when they ask you the name of your wife?'
"'I will tell them that she has no name, but that which she has honoured
by accepting from me. I will tell them that she is the noblest and
dearest of women, and that her history is a story of unparalleled virtue
"I sent a telegraphic message to my mother early the next morning; and
in the afternoon the dear soul arrived at Kylmington to embrace her
future daughter. We sat late in the little parlour of the Hermitage; a
dreary cottage, looking out on the flat shore, half sand, half mud, and
the low water lying in greenish pools. Margaret told us of her father's
"'No repentance was ever more sincere, Clement,' she said, for she
seemed afraid we should doubt the possibility of penitence in such a
criminal as Joseph Wilmot. 'My poor father--my poor wronged, unhappy
father!--yes, wronged, Clement, you must not forget that; you must never
forget that in the first instance he was wronged, and deeply wronged, by
the man who was murdered. When first we came here, his mind brooded upon
that, and he seemed to look upon what he had done as an ignorant savage
would look upon the vengeance which his heathenish creed had taught him
to consider a justifiable act of retaliation. Little by little I won my
poor father away from such thoughts as these: till by-and-by he grew to
think of Henry Dunbar as he was when they were young men together,
linked by a kind of friendship, before the forging of the bills, and all
the trouble that followed. He thought of his old master as he knew him
first, and his heart was softened towards the dead man's memory; and
from that time his penitence began. He was sorry for what he had done.
No words can describe that sorrow, Clement: and may you never have to
watch, as I have watched, the anguish of a guilty soul! Heaven is very
merciful. If my father had failed to escape, and had been hung, he would
have died hardened and impenitent. God had compassion on him, and gave
him time to repent.'"
_(The end of the story.)_
ADDED BY CLEMENT AUSTIN SEVEN YEARS AFTERWARDS.
"My wife and I hear sometimes, through my old friend Arthur Lovell, of
the new master and mistress of Maudesley Abbey, Sir Philip and Lady
Jocelyn, who oscillate between the Rock and the Abbey when they are in
Warwickshire. Lady Jocelyn is a beautiful woman, frank, generous,
noble-hearted, beloved by every creature within twenty miles' radius of
her home, and idolized by her husband. The sad history of her father's
death has been softened by the hand of Time; and she is happy with her
children and her husband in the grand old home that was so long
overshadowed by the sinister presence of the false Henry Dunbar.
"We are very happy. No prying eye would ever read in Margaret's bright
face the sad story of her early life. A new existence has begun for her
as wife and mother. She has little time to think of that miserable past;
but I think that, sound Protestant though she may be in every other
article of faith, amidst all her prayers those are not the least fervent
which she offers up for the guilty soul of her wretched father.
"We are very happy. The secret of my wife's history is hidden in our own
breasts--a dark chapter in the criminal romance of life, never to be
revealed upon earth. The Winchester murder is forgotten amongst the many
other guilty mysteries which are never entirely solved. If Joseph
Wilmot's name is ever mentioned, people suggest that he went to America;
indeed, there are people who go farther, and say they have seen him in
"My mother keeps house for us; and in very nearly seven years'
experience we have never found any disunion to arise from this
arrangement. The pretty Clapham villa is gay with the sound of
children's voices, and the shrill carol of singing birds, and the joyous
barking of Skye terriers. We have added a nursery wing already to one
side of the house, and have balanced it on the other by a vinery, built
after the model of those which adorn the mansion of my senior. The
Misses Balderby have taken what they call a 'great fancy' to my wife,
and they swarm over our drawing-room carpets in blue or pink flounces
very often, on what they call 'social evenings for a little music.' I
find that a little music is only a synonym with the Misses Balderby for
a great deal of noise.
"I love my wife's playing best, though they are kind enough to perform
twenty-page compositions by Bach and Mendelssohn for my amusement: and I
am never happier than on those dusky summer evenings when we sit alone
together in the shadowy drawing-room, and talk to each other, while
Margaret's skilful fingers glide softly over the keys in wandering
snatches of melody that melt and die away like the low breath of the