Part 8 out of 10
the luggage-board at the back of a post-chaise before the
cottage, just as the postilion started the horses on their way to
London. The spy saw Mrs. Bowmore looking at him, and pointed,
with an insolent nod of his head, first to the inside of the
vehicle, and then over it to the high-road; signing to her that
he designed to accompany the person in the post-chaise to the end
of the journey.
Turning to go back, Mrs. Bowmore saw her own bewilderment
reflected in the faces of the two female servants, who had
followed her out.
"Who can the footman be after, ma'am?" asked the cook. "Do you
think it's a thief?"
The housemaid pointed to the post-chaise, barely visible in the
"Simpleton!" she said. "Do thieves travel in that way? I wish my
master had come back," she proceeded, speaking to herself: "I'm
afraid there's something wrong."
Mrs. Bowmore, returning through the garden-gate, instantly
stopped and looked at the woman.
"What makes you mention your master's name, Amelia, when you fear
that something is wrong?" she asked.
Amelia changed color, and looked confused.
"I am loth to alarm you, ma'am," she said; "and I can't rightly
see what it is my duty to do."
Mrs. Bowmore's heart sank within her under the cruelest of all
terrors, the terror of something unknown. "Don't keep me in
suspense," she said faintly. "Whatever it is, let me know it."
She led the way back to the parlor. The housemaid followed her.
The cook (declining to be left alone) followed the housemaid.
"It was something I heard early this afternoon, ma'am," Amelia
began. "Cook happened to be busy--"
The cook interposed: she had not forgiven the housemaid for
calling her a simpleton. "No, Amelia, if you _must_ bring me into
it--not busy. Uneasy in my mind on the subject of the soup."
"I don't know that your mind makes much difference," Amelia
resumed. "What it comes to is this--it was I, and not you, who
went into the kitchen-garden for the vegetables."
"Not by _my_ wish, Heaven knows!" persisted the cook.
"Leave the room!" said Mrs. Bowmore. Even her patience had given
way at last.
The cook looked as if she declined to believe her own ears. Mrs.
Bowmore pointed to the door. The cook said "Oh?"--accenting it as
a question. Mrs. Bowmore's finger still pointed. The cook, in
solemn silence, yielded to circumstances, and banged the door.
"I was getting the vegetables, ma'am," Amelia proceeded, "when I
heard voices on the other side of the paling. The wood is so old
that one can see through the cracks easy enough. I saw my master,
and Mr. Linwood, and Captain Bervie. The Captain seemed to have
stopped the other two on the pathway that leads to the field; he
stood, as it might be, between them and the back way to the
house--and he spoke severely, that he did!"
"What did Captain Bervie say?"
"He said these words, ma'am: 'For the last time, Mr. Bowmore,'
says he, 'will you understand that you are in danger, and that
Mr. Linwood is in danger, unless you both leave this neighborhood
to-night?' My master made light of it. 'For the last time,' says
he, 'will you refer us to a proof of what you say, and allow us
to judge for ourselves?' 'I have told you already,' says the
Captain, 'I am bound by my duty toward another person to keep
what I know a secret.' 'Very well,' says my master, '_I_ am bound
by my duty to my country. And I tell you this,' says he, in his
high and mighty way, 'neither Government, nor the spies of
Government, dare touch a hair of my head: they know it, sir, for
the head of the people's friend!' "
"That's quite true," said Mrs. Bowmore, still believing in her
husband as firmly as ever.
Amelia went on:
"Captain Bervie didn't seem to think so," she said. "He lost his
temper. 'What stuff!' says he; 'there's a Government spy in your
house at this moment, disguised as your footman.' My master
looked at Mr. Linwood, and burst out laughing. 'You won't beat
that, Captain,' says he, 'if you talk till doomsday.' He turned
about without a word more, and went home. The Captain caught Mr.
Linwood by the arm, as soon as they were alone. 'For God's sake,'
says he, 'don't follow that madman's example!' "
Mrs. Bowmore was shocked. "Did he really call my husband a
madman?" she asked.
"He did, indeed, ma'am--and he was in earnest about it, too. 'If
you value your liberty,' he says to Mr. Linwood; 'if you hope to
become Charlotte's husband, consult your own safety. I can give
you a passport. Escape to France and wait till this trouble is
over.' Mr. Linwood was not in the best of tempers--Mr. Linwood
shook him off. 'Charlotte's father will soon be my father,' says
he, 'do you think I will desert him? My friends at the Club have
taken up my claim; do you think I will forsake them at the
meeting to-morrow? You ask me to be unworthy of Charlotte, and
unworthy of my friends--you insult me, if you say more.' He
whipped round on his heel, and followed my master."
"And what did the Captain do?"
"Lifted up his hands, ma'am, to the heavens, and looked--I
declare it turned my blood to see him. If there's truth in mortal
man, it's my firm belief--"
What the housemaid's belief was, remained unexpressed. Before she
could get to her next word, a shriek of horror from the hall
announced that the cook's powers of interruption were not
Mistress and servant both hurried out in terror of they knew not
what. There stood the cook, alone in the hall, confronting the
stand on which the overcoats and hats of the men of the family
"Where's the master's traveling coat?" cried the cook, staring
wildly at an unoccupied peg. "And where's his cap to match! Oh
Lord, he's off in the post-chaise! and the footman's after him!"
Simpleton as she was, the woman had blundered on a very serious
Coat and cap--both made after a foreign pattern, and both
strikingly remarkable in form and color to English eyes--had
unquestionably disappeared. It was equally certain that they were
well known to the foot man, whom the Captain had declared to be a
spy, as the coat and cap which his master used in traveling. Had
Mr. Bowmore discovered (since the afternoon) that he was really
in danger? Had the necessities of instant flight only allowed him
time enough to snatch his coat and cap out of the hall? And had
the treacherous manservant seen him as he was making his escape
to the post-chaise? The cook's conclusions answered all these
questions in the affirmative--and, if Captain Bervie's words of
warning had been correctly reported, the cook's conclusion for
once was not to be despised.
Under this last trial of her fortitude, Mrs. Bowmore's feeble
reserves of endurance completely gave way. The poor lady turned
faint and giddy. Amelia placed her on a chair in the hall, and
told the cook to open the front door, and let in the fresh air.
The cook obeyed; and instantly broke out with a second terrific
scream; announcing nothing less, this time, than the appearance
of Mr. Bowmore himself, alive and hearty, returning with Percy
from the meeting at the Club!
The inevitable inquiries and explanations followed.
Fully assured, as he had declared himself to be, of the sanctity
of his person (politically speaking), Mr. Bowmore turned pale,
nevertheless, when he looked at the unoccupied peg on his clothes
stand. Had some man unknown personated him? And had a post-chaise
been hired to lead an impending pursuit of him in the wrong
direction? What did it mean? Who was the friend to whose services
he was indebted? As for the proceedings of the man-servant, but
one interpretation could now be placed on them. They distinctly
justified what Captain Bervie had said of him. Mr. Bowmore
thought of the Captain's other assertion, relating to the urgent
necessity for making his escape; and looked at Percy in silent
dismay; and turned paler than ever.
Percy's thoughts, diverted for the moment only from the lady of
his love, returned to her with renewed fidelity. "Let us hear
what Charlotte thinks of it," he said. "Where is she?"
It was impossible to answer this question plainly and in few
Terrified at the effect which her attempt at explanation produced
on Percy, helplessly ignorant when she was called upon to account
for her daughter's absence, Mrs. Bowmore could only shed tears
and express a devout trust in Providence. Her husband looked at
the new misfortune from a political point of view. He sat down
and slapped his forehead theatrically with the palm of his hand.
"Thus far," said the patriot, "my political assailants have only
struck at me through the newspapers. _Now_ they strike at me
through my child!"
Percy made no speeches. There was a look in his eyes which boded
ill for Captain Bervie if the two met. "I am going to fetch her,"
was all he said, "as fast as a horse can carry me."
He hired his horse at an inn in the town, and set forth for
Justice Bervie's house at a gallop.
During Percy's absence, Mr. Bowmore secured the front and back
entrances to the cottage with his own hands.
These first precautions taken, he ascended to his room and packed
his traveling-bag. "Necessaries for my use in prison," he
remarked. "The bloodhounds of Government are after me." "Are they
after Percy, too?" his wife ventured to ask. Mr. Bowmore looked
up impatiently, and cried "Pooh!"--as if Percy was of no
consequence. Mrs. Bowmore thought otherwise: the good woman
privately packed a bag for Percy, in the sanctuary of her own
For an hour, and more than an hour, no event of any sort
Mr. Bowmore stalked up and down the parlor, meditating. At
intervals, ideas of flight presented themselves attractively to
his mind. At intervals, ideas of the speech that he had prepared
for the public meeting on the next day took their place. "If I
fly to-night," he wisely observed, "what will become of my
speech? I will _not_ fly to-night! The people shall hear me."
He sat down and crossed his arms fiercely. As he looked at his
wife to see what effect he had produced on her, the sound of
heavy carriage-wheels and the trampling of horses penetrated to
the parlor from the garden-gate.
Mr. Bowmore started to his feet, with every appearance of having
suddenly altered his mind on the question of flight. Just as he
reached the hall, Percy's voice was heard at the front door. "Let
me in. Instantly! Instantly!"
Mrs. Bowmore drew back the bolts before the servants could help
her. "Where is Charlotte?" she cried; seeing Percy alone on the
"Gone!" Percy answered furiously. "Eloped to Paris with Captain
Bervie! Read her own confession. They were just sending the
messenger with it, when I reached the house."
He handed a note to Mrs. Bowmore, and turned aside to speak to
her husband while she read it. Charlotte wrote to her mother very
briefly; promising to explain everything on her return. In the
meantime, she had left home under careful protection--she had a
lady for her companion on the journey--and she would write again
from Paris. So the letter, evidently written in great haste,
began and ended.
Percy took Mr. Bowmore to the window, and pointed to a carriage
and four horses waiting at the garden-gate.
"Do you come with me, and back me with your authority as her
father?" he asked, sternly. "Or do you leave me to go alone?"
Mr. Bowmore was famous among his admirers for his "happy
replies." He made one now.
"I am not Brutus," he said. "I am only Bowmore. My daughter
before everything. Fetch my traveling-bag."
While the travelers' bags were being placed in the chaise, Mr.
Bowmore was struck by an idea.
He produced from his coat-pocket a roll of many papers thickly
covered with writing. On the blank leaf in which they were tied
up, he wrote in the largest letters: "Frightful domestic
calamity! Vice-President Bowmore obliged to leave England!
Welfare of a beloved daughter! His speech will be read at the
meeting by Secretary Joskin, of the Club. (Private to Joskin.
Have these lines printed and posted everywhere. And, when you
read my speech, for God's sake don't drop your voice at the ends
of the sentences.)"
He threw down the pen, and embraced Mrs. Bowmore in the most
summary manner. The poor woman was ordered to send the roll of
paper to the Club, without a word to comfort and sustain her from
her husband's lips. Percy spoke to her hopefully and kindly, as
he kissed her cheek at parting.
On the next morning, a letter, addressed to Mrs. Bowmore, was
delivered at the cottage by private messenger.
Opening the letter, she recognized the handwriting of her
husband's old friend, and her old friend--Major Mulvany. In
breathless amazement, she read these lines:
"DEAR MRS. BOWMORE--In matters of importance, the golden rule is
never to waste words. I have performed one of the great actions
of my life--I have saved your husband.
"How I discovered that my friend was in danger, I must not tell
you at present. Let it be enough if I say that I have been a
guest under Justice Bervie's hospitable roof, and that I know of
a Home Office spy who has taken you unawares, under pretense of
being your footman. If I had not circumvented him, the scoundrel
would have imprisoned your husband, and another dear friend of
mine. This is how I did it.
"I must begin by appealing to your memory.
"Do you happen to remember that your husband and I are as near as
may be of about the same height? Very good, so far. Did you, in
the next place, miss Bowmore's traveling coat and cap from their
customary peg? I am the thief, dearest lady; I put them on my own
humble self. Did you hear a sudden noise in the hall? Oh, forgive
me--I made the noise! And it did just what I wanted of it. It
brought the spy up from the kitchen, suspecting that something
might be wrong.
"What did the wretch see when he got into the hall? His master,
in traveling costume, running out. What did he find when he
reached the garden? His master escaping, in a post-chaise, on the
road to London. What did he do, the born blackguard that he was?
Jumped up behind the chaise to make sure of his prisoner. It was
dark when we got to London. In a hop, skip, and jump, I was out
of the carriage, and in at my own door, before he could l ook me
in the face.
"The date of the warrant, you must know, obliged him to wait till
the morning. All that night, he and the Bow Street runners kept
watch They came in with the sunrise--and who did they find? Major
Mulvany snug in his bed, and as innocent as the babe unborn. Oh,
they did their duty! Searched the place from the kitchen to the
garrets--and gave it up. There's but one thing I regret--I let
the spy off without a good thrashing. No matter. I'll do it yet,
one of these days.
"Let me know the first good news of our darling fugitives, and I
shall be more than rewarded for what little I have done.
"Your always devoted,
PURSUIT AND DISCOVERY.
FEELING himself hurried away on the road to Dover, as fast as
four horses could carry him, Mr. Bowmore had leisure to criticise
Percy's conduct, from his own purely selfish point of view.
"If you had listened to my advice," he said, "you would have
treated that man Bervie like the hypocrite and villain that he
is. But no! you trusted to your own crude impressions. Having
given him your hand after the duel (I would have given him the
contents of my pistol!) you hesitated to withdraw it again, when
that slanderer appealed to your friendship not to cast him off.
Now you see the consequence!"
"Wait till we get to Paris!" All the ingenuity of Percy's
traveling companion failed to extract from him any other answer
Foiled so far, Mr. Bowmore began to start difficulties next. Had
they money enough for the journey? Percy touched his pocket, and
answered shortly, "Plenty." Had they passports? Percy sullenly
showed a letter. "There is the necessary voucher from a
magistrate," he said. "The consul at Dover will give us our
passports. Mind this!" he added, in warning tones, "I have
pledged my word of honor to Justice Bervie that we have no
political object in view in traveling to France. Keep your
politics to yourself, on the other side of the Channel."
Mr. Bowmore listened in blank amazement. Charlotte's lover was
appearing in a new character--the character of a man who had lost
his respect for Charlotte's father!
It was useless to talk to him. He deliberately checked any
further attempts at conversation by leaning back in the carriage,
and closing his eyes. The truth is, Mr. Bowmore's own language
and conduct were insensibly producing the salutary impression on
Percy's mind which Bervie had vainly tried to convey, under the
disadvantage of having Charlotte's influence against him.
Throughout the journey, Percy did exactly what Bervie had once
entreated him to do--he kept Mr. Bowmore at a distance.
At every stage, they inquired after the fugitives. At every
stage, they were answered by a more or less intelligible
description of Bervie and Charlotte, and of the lady who
accompanied them. No disguise had been attempted; no person had
in any case been bribed to conceal the truth.
When the first tumult of his emotions had in some degree
subsided, this strange circumstance associated itself in Percy's
mind with the equally unaccountable conduct of Justice Bervie, on
his arrival at the manor house.
The old gentleman met his visitor in the hall, without
expressing, and apparently without feeling, any indignation at
his son's conduct. It was even useless to appeal to him for
information. He only said, "I am not in Arthur's confidence; he
is of age, and my daughter (who has volunteered to accompany him)
is of age. I have no claim to control them. I believe they have
taken Miss Bowmore to Paris; and that is all I know about it."
He had shown the same dense insensibility in giving his official
voucher for the passports. Percy had only to satisfy him on the
question of politics; and the document was drawn out as a matter
of course. Such had been the father's behavior; and the conduct
of the son now exhibited the same shameless composure. To what
conclusion did this discovery point? Percy abandoned the attempt
to answer that question in despair.
They reached Dover toward two o'clock in the morning.
At the pier-head they found a coast-guardsman on duty, and
received more information.
In 1817 the communication with France was still by
sailing-vessels. Arriving long after the departure of the regular
packet, Bervie had hired a lugger, and had sailed with the two
ladies for Calais, having a fresh breeze in his favor. Percy's
first angry impulse was to follow him instantly. The next moment
he remembered the insurmountable obstacle of the passports. The
Consul would certainly not grant those essentially necessary
documents at two in the morning!
The only alternative was to wait for the regular packet, which
sailed some hours later--between eight and nine o'clock in the
forenoon. In this case, they might apply for their passports
before the regular office hours, if they explained the
circumstances, backed by the authority of the magistrate's
Mr. Bowmore followed Percy to the nearest inn that was open,
sublimely indifferent to the delays and difficulties of the
journey. He ordered refreshments with the air of a man who was
performing a melancholy duty to himself, in the name of humanity.
"When I think of my speech," he said, at supper, "my heart bleeds
for the people. In a few hours more, they will assemble in their
thousands, eager to hear me. And what will they see? Joskin in my
place! Joskin with a manuscript in his hand! Joskin, who drops
his voice at the ends of his sentences! I will never forgive
Charlotte. Waiter, another glass of brandy and water. "
After an unusually quick passage across the Channel, the
travelers landed on the French coast, before the defeated spy had
returned from London to Dartford by stage-coach. Continuing their
journey by post as far as Amiens, they reached that city in time
to take their places by the diligence to Paris.
Arrived in Paris, they encountered another incomprehensible
proceeding on the part of Captain Bervie.
Among the persons assembled in the yard to see the arrival of the
diligence was a man with a morsel of paper in his hand, evidently
on the lookout for some person whom he expected to discover among
the travelers. After consulting his bit of paper, he looked with
steady attention at Percy and Mr. Bowmore, and suddenly
approached them. "If you wish to see the Captain," he said, in
broken English, "you will find him at that hotel." He handed a
printed card to Percy, and disappeared among the crowd before it
was possible to question him.
Even Mr. Bowmore gave way to human weakness, and condescended to
feel astonished in the face of such an event as this. "What
next?" he exclaimed.
"Wait till we get to the hotel," said Percy.
In half an hour more the landlord had received them, and the
waiter had led them to the right door. Percy pushed the man
aside, and burst into the room.
Captain Bervie was alone, reading a newspaper. Before the first
furious words had escaped Percy's lips, Bervie silenced him by
pointing to a closed door on the right of the fireplace.
"She is in that room," he said; "speak quietly, or you may
frighten her. I know what you are going to say," he added, as
Percy stepped nearer to him. "Will you hear me in my own defense,
and then decide whether I am the greatest scoundrel living, or
the best friend you ever had?"
He put the question kindly, with something that was at once grave
and tender in his look and manner. The extraordinary composure
with which he acted and spoke had its tranquilizing influence
over Percy. He felt himself surprised into giving Bervie a
"I will tell you first what I have done," the Captain proceeded,
"and next why I did it. I have taken it on myself, Mr. Linwood,
to make an alteration in your wedding arrangements. Instead of
being married at Dartford church, you will be married (if you see
no objection) at the chapel of the embassy in Paris, by my old
college friend the chaplain."
This was too much for Percy's self-control. "Your audacity is
beyond belief," he broke out.
"And beyond endurance," Mr. Bowmore added. "Understand this, sir!
Whatever your defense may be, I ob ject, under any circumstances,
to be made the victim of a trick."
"You are the victim of your own obstinate refusal to profit by a
plain warning," Bervie rejoined. "At the eleventh hour, I
entreated you, and I entreated Mr. Linwood, to provide for your
own safety; and I spoke in vain."
Percy's patience gave way once more.
"To use your own language," he said, "I have still to decide
whether you have behaved toward me like a scoundrel or a friend.
You have said nothing to justify yourself yet."
"Very well put!" Mr. Bowmore chimed in. "Come to the point, sir!
My daughter's reputation is in question."
"Miss Bowmore's reputation is not in question for a single
instant," Bervie answered. "My sister has been the companion of
her journey from first to last."
"Journey?" Mr. Bowmore repeated, indignantly. "I want to know,
sir, what the journey means. As an outraged father, I ask one
plain question. Why did you run away with my daughter?"
Bervie took a slip of paper from his pocket, and handed it to
Percy with a smile.
It was a copy of the warrant which Justice Bervie's duty had
compelled him to issue for the "arrest of Orlando Bowmore and
Percy Linwood." There was no danger in divulging the secret now.
British warrants were waste-paper in France, in those days.
"I ran away with the bride," Bervie said coolly, "in the certain
knowledge that you and Mr. Bowmore would run after me. If I had
not forced you both to follow me out of England on the first of
April, you would have been made State prisoners on the second.
What do you say to my conduct now?"
"Wait, Percy, before you answer him," Mr. Bowmore interposed. "He
is ready enough at excusing himself. But, observe--he hasn't a
word to say in justification of my daughter's readiness to run
away with him."
"Have you quite done?" Bervie asked, as quietly as ever."
Mr. Bowmore reserved the right of all others which he most
prized, the right of using his tongue. "For the present," he
answered in his loftiest manner, "I have done."
Bervie proceeded: "Your daughter consented to run away with me,
because I took her to my father's house, and prevailed upon him
to trust her with the secret of the coming arrests. She had no
choice left but to let her obstinate father and her misguided
lover go to prison--or to take her place with my sister and me in
the traveling-carriage." He appealed once more to Percy. "My
friend, you remember the day when you spared my life. Have I
remembered it, too?"
For once, there was an Englishman who was not contented to
express the noblest emotions that humanity can feel by the
commonplace ceremony of shaking hands. Percy's heart overflowed.
In an outburst of unutterable gratitude he threw himself on
Bervie's breast. As brothers the two men embraced. As brothers
they loved and trusted one another, from that day forth.
The door on the right was softly opened from within. A charming
face--the dark eyes bright with happy tears, the rosy lips just
opening into a smile--peeped into the room. A low sweet voice,
with an under-note of trembling in it, made this modest protest,
in the form of an inquiry:
"When you have quite done, Percy, with our good friend, perhaps
you will have something to say to ME?"
THE persons immediately interested in the marriage of Percy and
Charlotte were the only persons present at the ceremony.
At the little breakfast afterward, in the French hotel, Mr.
Bowmore insisted on making a speech to a select audience of six;
namely, the bride and bridegroom, the bridesmaid, the Chaplain,
the Captain, and Mrs. Bowmore. But what does a small audience
matter? The English frenzy for making speeches is not to be
cooled by such a trifle as that. At the end of the world, the
expiring forces of Nature will hear a dreadful voice--the voice
of the last Englishman delivering the last speech.
Percy wisely made his honeymoon a long one; he determined to be
quite sure of his superior influence over his wife before he
trusted her within reach of her father again.
Mr. and Mrs. Bowmore accompanied Captain Bervie and Miss Bervie
on their way back to England, as far as Boulogne. In that
pleasant town the banished patriot set up his tent. It was a
cheaper place to live in than Paris, and it was conveniently
close to England, when he had quite made up his mind whether to
be an exile on the Continent, or to go back to his own country
and be a martyr in prison. In the end, the course of events
settled that question for him. Mr. Bowmore returned to England,
with the return of the Habeas Corpus Act.
The years passed. Percy and Charlotte (judged from the romantic
point of view) became two uninteresting married people. Bervie
(always remaining a bachelor) rose steadily in his profession,
through the higher grades of military rank. Mr. Bowmore, wisely
overlooked by a new Government, sank back again into the
obscurity from which shrewd Ministers would never have assisted
him to emerge. The one subject of interest left, among the
persons of this little drama, was now represented by Doctor
Lagarde. Thus far, not a trace had been discovered of the French
physician, who had so strangely associated the visions of his
magnetic sleep with the destinies of the two men who had
Steadfastly maintaining his own opinion of the prediction and the
fulfillment, Bervie persisted in believing that he and Lagarde
(or Percy and Lagarde) were yet destined to meet, and resume the
unfinished consultation at the point where it had been broken
off. Persons, happy in the possession of "sound common sense,"
who declared the prediction to be skilled guesswork, and the
fulfillment manifest coincidence, ridiculed the idea of finding
Doctor Lagarde as closely akin to that other celebrated idea of
finding the needle in the bottle of hay. But Bervie's obstinacy
was proverbial. Nothing shook his confidence in his own
More than thirteen years had elapsed since the consultation at
the Doctor's lodgings, when Bervie went to Paris to spend a
summer holiday with his friend, the chaplain at the English
embassy. His last words to Percy and Charlotte when he took his
leave were: "Suppose I meet with Doctor Lagarde?"
It was then the year 1830. Bervie arrived at his friend's rooms
on the 24th of July. On the 27th of the month the famous
revolution broke out which dethroned Charles the Tenth in three
On the second day, Bervie and his host ventured into the streets,
watching the revolution (like other reckless Englishmen) at the
risk of their lives. In the confusion around them they were
separated. Bervie, searching for his companion, found his
progress stopped by a barricade, which had been desperately
attacked, and desperately defended. Men in blouses and men in
uniform lay dead and dying together: the tricolored flag waved
over them, in token of the victory of the people.
Bervie had just revived a poor wretch with a drink from an
overthrown bowl of water, which still had a few drops left in it,
when he felt a hand laid on his shoulder from behind. He turned
and discovered a National Guard, who had been watching his
charitable action. "Give a helping hand to that poor fellow,"
said the citizen-soldier, pointing to a workman standing near,
grimed with blood and gunpowder. The tears were rolling down the
man's cheeks. "I can't see my way, sir, for crying," he said.
"Help me to carry that sad burden into the next street." He
pointed to a rude wooden litter, on which lay a dead or wounded
man, his face and breast covered with an old cloak. "There is the
best friend the people ever had," the workman said. "He cured us,
comforted us, respected us, loved us. And there he lies, shot
dead while he was binding up the wounds of friends and enemies
"Whoever he is, he has died nobly," Bervie answered "May I look
The workman signed that he might look.
Bervie lifted the cloak--and met with Doctor Lagarde once more.
MISS BERTHA AND THE YANKEE.
[PRELIMINARY STATEMENTS OF WITNESSES FOR THE DEFENSE, COLLECTED
AT THE OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR.]
No. 1.--Miss Bertha Laroche, of Nettlegrove Hall, testifies and
TOWARD the middle of June, in the year 1817, I went to take the
waters at Maplesworth, in Derbyshire, accompanied by my nearest
I am an only child; and I was twenty-one years old at my last
birthday. On coming of age I inherited a house and lands in
Derbyshire, together with a fortune in money of one hundred
thousand pounds. The only education which I have received has
been obtained within the last two or three years of my life; and
I have thus far seen nothing of Society, in England or in any
other civilized part of the world. I can be a competent witness,
it seems, in spite of these disadvantages. Anyhow, I mean to tell
My father was a French colonist in the island of Saint Domingo.
He died while I was very young; leaving to my mother and to me
just enough to live on, in the remote part of the island in which
our little property was situated. My mother was an Englishwoman.
Her delicate health made it necessary for her to leave me, for
many hours of the day, under the care of our household slaves. I
can never forget their kindness to me; but, unfortunately, their
ignorance equaled their kindness. If we had been rich enough to
send to France or England for a competent governess we might have
done very well. But we were not rich enough. I am ashamed to say
that I was nearly thirteen years old before I had learned to read
and write correctly.
Four more years passed--and then there came a wonderful event in
our lives, which was nothing less than the change from Saint
Domingo to England.
My mother was distantly related to an ancient and wealthy English
family. She seriously offended those proud people by marrying an
obscure foreigner, who had nothing to live on but his morsel of
land in the West Indies. Having no expectations from her
relatives, my mother preferred happiness with the man she loved
to every other consideration; and I, for one, think she was
right. From that moment she was cast off by the head of the
family. For eighteen years of her life, as wife, mother, and
widow, no letters came to her from her English home. We had just
celebrated my seventeenth birthday when the first letter came. It
informed my mother that no less than three lives, which stood
between her and the inheritance of certain portions of the family
property, had been swept away by death. The estate and the
fortune which I have already mentioned had fallen to her in due
course of law, and her surviving relatives were magnanimously
ready to forgive her at last!
We wound up our affairs at Saint Domingo, and we went to England
to take possession of our new wealth.
At first, the return to her native air seemed to have a
beneficial effect on my mother's health. But it was a temporary
improvement only. Her constitution had been fatally injured by
the West Indian climate, and just as we had engaged a competent
person to look after my neglected education, my constant
attendance was needed at my mother's bedside. We loved each other
dearly, and we wanted no strange nurses to come between us. My
aunt (my mother's sister) relieved me of my cares in the
intervals when I wanted rest.
For seven sad months our dear sufferer lingered. I have only one
remembrance to comfort me; my mother's last kiss was mine--she
died peacefully with her head on my bosom.
I was nearly nineteen years old before I had sufficiently rallied
my courage to be able to think seriously of myself and my
At that age one does not willingly submit one's self for the
first time to the authority of a governess. Having my aunt for a
companion and protectress, I proposed to engage my own masters
and to superintend my own education.
My plans failed to meet with the approval of the head of the
family. He declared (most unjustly, as the event proved) that my
aunt was not a fit person to take care of me. She had passed all
the later years of her life in retirement. A good creature, he
admitted, in her own way, but she had no knowledge of the world,
and no firmness of character. The right person to act as my
chaperon, and to superintend my education, was the high-minded
and accomplished woman who had taught his own daughters.
I declined, with all needful gratitude and respect, to take his
advice. The bare idea of living with a stranger so soon after my
mother's death revolted me. Besides, I liked my aunt, and my aunt
liked me. Being made acquainted with my decision, the head of the
family cast me off, exactly as he had cast off my mother before
So I lived in retirement with my good aunt, and studied
industriously to improve my mind until my twenty-first birthday
came. I was now an heiress, privileged to think and act for
myself. My aunt kissed me tenderly. We talked of my poor mother,
and we cried in each other's arms on the memorable day that made
a wealthy woman of me. In a little time more, other troubles than
vain regrets for the dead were to try me, and other tears were to
fill my eyes than the tears which I had given to the memory of my
I MAY now return to my visit, in June, 1817, to the healing
springs at Maplesworth.
This famous inland watering-place was only between nine and ten
miles from my new home called Nettlegrove Hall. I had been
feeling weak and out of spirits for some months, and our medical
adviser recommended change of scene and a trial of the waters at
Maplesworth. My aunt and I established ourselves in comfortable
apartments, with a letter of introduction to the chief doctor in
the place. This otherwise harmless and worthy man proved,
strangely enough, to be the innocent cause of the trials and
troubles which beset me at the outset of my new life.
The day after we had presented our letter of introduction, we met
the doctor on the public walk. He was accompanied by two
strangers, both young men, and both (so far as my ignorant
opinion went) persons of some distinction, judging by their dress
and manners. The doctor said a few kind words to us, and rejoined
his two companions. Both the gentlemen looked at me, and both
took off their hats as my aunt and I proceeded on our walk.
I own I thought occasionally of the well-bred strangers during
the rest of the day, especially of the shortest of the two, who
was also the handsomest of the two to my thinking. If this
confession seems rather a bold one, remember, if you please, that
I had never been taught to conceal my feelings at Saint Domingo,
and that the events which followed our arrival in England had
kept me completely secluded from the society of other young
ladies of my age.
The next day, while I was drinking my glass of healing water
(extremely nasty water, by the way) the doctor joined us.
While he was asking me about my health, the two strangers made
their appearance again, and took off their hats again. They both
looked expectantly at the doctor, and the doctor (in performance
of a promise which he had already made, as I privately suspected)
formally introduced them to my aunt and to me. First (I put the
handsomest man first) Captain Arthur Stanwick, of the army, home
from India on leave, and staying at Maplesworth to take the
waters; secondly, Mr. Lionel Varleigh, of Boston, in America,
visiting England, after traveling all over Europe, and stopping
at Maplesworth to keep company with his friend the Captain.
On their introduction, the two gentlemen, observing, no doubt,
that I was a little shy, forbore delicately from pressing their
society on us.
Captain Stanwick, with a beautiful smile, and with teeth worthy
of the smile, stroked his whiskers, and asked me if I had found
any benefit from taking the waters. He afterward spoke in great
praise of the charming scenery in the neighborhood of
Maplesworth, and then, turning away, addressed his next words to
my aunt. Mr. Varleigh took his place. Speaking with perfect
gravity, and with no whiskers to stroke, he said:
"I have once tried the waters here out of curiosity. I can
sympathize, miss, with the expression which I observed on your
face when you emptied your glass just now. Permit me to offer you
something nice to take the taste of the waters out of your
mouth." He produced from his pocket a beautiful little box filled
with sugar-plums. "I bought it in Paris," h e explained. "Having
lived a good deal in France, I have got into a habit of making
little presents of this sort to ladies and children. I wouldn't
let the doctor see it, miss, if I were you. He has the usual
medical prejudice against sugar-plums." With that quaint warning,
he, too, made his bow and discreetly withdrew.
Thinking it over afterward, I acknowledged to myself that the
English Captain--although he was the handsomest man of the two,
and possessed the smoothest manners--had failed, nevertheless, to
overcome my shyness. The American traveler's unaffected sincerity
and good-humor, on the other hand, set me quite at my ease. I
could look at him and thank him, and feel amused at his sympathy
with the grimace I had made, after swallowing the ill-flavored
waters. And yet, while I lay awake at night, wondering whether we
should meet our new acquaintances on the next day, it was the
English Captain that I most wanted to see again, and not the
American traveler! At the time, I set this down to nothing more
important than my own perversity. Ah, dear! dear! I know better
than that now.
The next morning brought the doctor to our hotel on a special
visit to my aunt. He invented a pretext for sending me into the
next room, which was so plainly a clumsy excuse that my curiosity
was aroused. I gratified my curiosity. Must I make my confession
plainer still? Must I acknowledge that I was mean enough to
listen on the other side of the door?
I heard my dear innocent old aunt say: "Doctor! I hope you don't
see anything alarming in the state of Bertha's health."
The doctor burst out laughing. "My dear madam! there is nothing
in the state of the young lady's health which need cause the
smallest anxiety to you or to me. The object of my visit is to
justify myself for presenting those two gentlemen to you
yesterday. They are both greatly struck by Miss Bertha's beauty,
and they both urgently entreated me to introduce them. Such
introductions, I need hardly say, are marked exceptions to my
general rule. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred I should have
said No. In the cases of Captain Stanwick and Mr. Varleigh,
however, I saw no reason to hesitate. Permit me to assure you
that I am not intruding on your notice two fortune-hunting
adventurers. They are both men of position and men of property.
The family of the Stanwicks has been well known to me for years;
and Mr. Varleigh brought me a letter from my oldest living
friend, answering for him as a gentleman in the highest sense of
the word. He is the wealthiest man of the two; and it speaks
volumes for him, in my opinion, that he has preserved his
simplicity of character after a long residence in such places as
Paris and Vienna. Captain Stanwick has more polish and ease of
manner, but, looking under the surface, I rather fancy there may
be something a little impetuous and domineering in his temper.
However, we all have our faults. I can only say, for both these
young friends of mine, that you need feel no scruple about
admitting them to your intimacy, if they happen to please
you--and your niece. Having now, I hope, removed any doubts which
may have troubled you, pray recall Miss Bertha. I am afraid I
have interrupted you in discussing your plans for the day."
The smoothly eloquent doctor paused for the moment; and I darted
away from the door.
Our plans for the day included a drive through the famous scenery
near the town. My two admirers met us on horseback. Here, again,
the Captain had the advantage over his friend. His seat in the
saddle and his riding-dress were both perfect things in their
way. The Englishman rode on one side of the carriage and the
American on the other. They both talked well, but Mr. Varleigh
had seen more of the world in general than Captain Stanwick, and
he made himself certainly the more interesting and more amusing
companion of the two.
On our way back my admiration was excited by a thick wood,
beautifully situated on rising ground at a little distance from
the high-road: "Oh, dear," I said, "how I should like to take a
walk in that wood!" Idle, thoughtless words; but, oh, what
remembrances crowd on me as I think of them now!
Captain Stanwick and Mr. Varleigh at once dismounted and offered
themselves as my escort. The coachman warned them to be careful;
people had often lost themselves, he said, in that wood. I asked
the name of it. The name was Herne Wood. My aunt was not very
willing to leave her comfortable seat in the carriage, but it
ended in her going with us.
Before we entered the wood, Mr. Varleigh noted the position of
the high-road by his pocket-compass. Captain Stanwick laughed at
him, and offered me his arm. Ignorant as I was of the ways of the
world and the rules of coquetry, my instinct (I suppose) warned
me not to distinguish one of the gentlemen too readily at the
expense of the other. I took my aunt's arm and settled it in that
A winding path led us into the wood.
On a nearer view, the place disappointed me; the further we
advanced, the more horribly gloomy it grew. The thickly-growing
trees shut out the light; the damp stole over me little by little
until I shivered; the undergrowth of bushes and thickets rustled
at intervals mysteriously, as some invisible creeping creature
passed through it. At a turn in the path we reached a sort of
clearing, and saw the sky and the sunshine once more. But, even
here, a disagreeable incident occurred. A snake wound his
undulating way across the open space, passing close by me, and I
was fool enough to scream. The Captain killed the creature with
his riding-cane, taking a pleasure in doing it which I did not
like to see.
We left the clearing and tried another path, and then another.
And still the horrid wood preyed on my spirits. I agreed with my
aunt that we should do well to return to the carriage. On our way
back we missed the right path, and lost ourselves for the moment.
Mr. Varleigh consulted his compass, and pointed in one direction.
Captain Stanwick, consulting nothing but his own jealous humor,
pointed in the other. We followed Mr. Varleigh's guidance, and
got back to the clearing. He turned to the Captain, and said,
good-humoredly: "You see the compass was right." Captain
Stanwick, answered, sharply: "There are more ways than one out of
an English wood; you talk as if we were in one of your American
Mr. Varleigh seemed to be at a loss to understand his rudeness;
there was a pause. The two men looked at each other, standing
face to face on the brown earth of the clearing--the Englishman's
ruddy countenance, light auburn hair and whiskers, and
well-opened bold blue eyes, contrasting with the pale complexion,
the keenly-observant look, the dark closely-cut hair, and the
delicately-lined face of the American. It was only for a moment:
I had barely time to feel uneasy before they controlled
themselves and led us back to the carriage, talking as pleasantly
as if nothing had happened. For days afterward, nevertheless,
that scene in the clearing--the faces and figures of the two men,
the dark line of trees hemming them in on all sides, the brown
circular patch of ground on which they stood--haunted my memory,
and got in the way of my brighter and happier thoughts. When my
aunt inquired if I had enjoyed the day, I surprised her by saying
No. And when she asked why, I could only answer: "It was all
spoiled by Herne Wood."
THREE weeks passed.
The terror of those dreadful days creeps over me again when I
think of them. I mean to tell the truth without shrinking; but I
may at least consult my own feelings by dwelling on certain
particulars as briefly as I can. I shall describe my conduct
toward the two men who courted me in the plainest terms, if I say
that I distinguished neither of them. Innocently and stupidly I
encouraged them both.
In books, women are generally represented as knowing their own
minds in matters which relate to love and marriage. This is not
my experience of myself. Day followed day; and, ridiculous as it
may appear, I could not decide which of my two admirers I liked
Captain Stanwick was, at first, the man of my choice. While he
kept his temper under control, h e charmed me. But when he let it
escape him, he sometimes disappointed, sometimes irritated me. In
that frame of mind I turned for relief to Lionel Varleigh,
feeling that he was the more gentle and the more worthy man of
the two, and honestly believing, at such times, that I preferred
him to his rival. For the first few days after our visit to Herne
Wood I had excellent opportunities of comparing them. They paid
their visits to us together, and they divided their attentions
carefully between me and my aunt. At the end of the week,
however, they began to present themselves separately. If I had
possessed any experience of the natures of men, I might have
known what this meant, and might have seen the future possibility
of some more serious estrangement between the two friends, of
which I might be the unfortunate cause. As it was; I never once
troubled my head about what might be passing out of my presence.
Whether they came together, or whether they came separately,
their visits were always agreeable to me. and I thought of
nothing and cared for nothing more.
But the time that was to enlighten me was not far off.
One day Captain Stanwick called much earlier than usual. My aunt
had not yet returned from her morning walk. The Captain made some
excuse for presenting himself under these circumstances which I
have now forgotten.
Without actually committing himself to a proposal of marriage he
spoke with such tender feeling, he managed his hold on my
inexperience so delicately, that he entrapped me into saying some
words, on my side, which I remembered with a certain dismay as
soon as I was left alone again. In half an hour more, Mr. Lionel
Varleigh was announced as my next visitor. I at once noticed a
certain disturbance in his look and manner which was quite new in
my experience of him. I offered him a chair. To my surprise he
declined to take it.
"I must trust to your indulgence to permit me to put an
embarrassing question to you," he began. "It rests with you, Miss
Laroche, to decide whether I shall remain here, or whether I
shall relieve you of my presence by leaving the room."
"What can you possibly mean?" I asked.
"Is it your wish," he went on, "that I should pay you no more
visits except in Captain Stanwick's company, or by Captain
Stanwick's express permission?"
My astonishment deprived me for the moment of the power of
answering him. "Do you really mean that Captain Stanwick has
forbidden you to call on me?" I asked as soon as I could speak.
"I have exactly repeated what Captain Stanwick said to me half an
hour since," Lionel Varleigh answered.
In my indignation at hearing this, I entirely forgot the rash
words of encouragement which the Captain had entrapped me into
speaking to him. When I think of it now, I am ashamed to repeat
the language in which I resented this man's presumptuous
assertion of authority over me. Having committed one act of
indiscretion already, my anxiety to assert my freedom of action
hurried me into committing another. I bade Mr. Varleigh welcome
whenever he chose to visit me, in terms which made his face flush
under the emotions of pleasure and surprise which I had aroused
in him. My wounded vanity acknowledged no restraints. I signed to
him to take a seat on the sofa at my side; I engaged to go to his
lodgings the next day, with my aunt, and see the collection of
curiosities which he had amassed in the course of his travels. I
almost believe, if he had tried to kiss me, that I was angry
enough with the Captain to have let him do it!
Remember what my life had been--remember how ignorantly I had
passed the precious days of my youth, how insidiously a sudden
accession of wealth and importance had encouraged my folly and my
pride--and try, like good Christians, to make some allowance for
My aunt came in from her walk, before Mr. Varleigh's visit had
ended. She received him rather coldly, and he perceived it. After
reminding me of our appointment for the next day, he took his
"What appointment does Mr. Varleigh mean?" my aunt asked, as soon
as we were alone. "Is it wise, under the circumstances, to make
appointments with Mr. Varleigh?" she said, when I had answered
her question. I naturally inquired what she meant. My aunt
replied, "I have met Captain Stanwick while I was out walking. He
has told me something which I am quite at a loss to understand.
Is it possible, Bertha, that you have received a proposal of
marriage from him favorably, without saying one word about your
intentions to me?"
I instantly denied it. However rashly I might have spoken, I had
certainly said nothing to justify Captain Stanwick in claiming me
as his promised wife. In his mean fear of a fair rivalry with Mr.
Varleigh, he had deliberately misinterpreted me. "If I marry
either of the two," I said, "it will be Mr. Varleigh!"
My aunt shook her head. "These two gentlemen seem to be both in
love with you, Bertha. It is a trying position for you between
them, and I am afraid you have acted with some indiscretion.
Captain Stanwick tells me that he and his friend have come to a
separation already. I fear you are the cause of it. Mr. Varleigh
has left the hotel at which he was staying with the Captain, in
consequence of a disagreement between them this morning. You were
not aware of that when you accepted his invitation. Shall I write
an excuse for you? We must, at least, put off the visit, my dear,
until you have set yourself right with Captain Stanwick."
I began to feel a little alarmed, but I was too obstinate to
yield without a struggle. "Give me time to think over it," I
said. "To write an excuse seems like acknowledging the Captain's
authority. Let us wait till to-morrow morning."
THE morning brought with it another visit from Captain Stanwick.
This time my aunt was present. He looked at her without speaking,
and turned to me, with his fiery temper showing itself already in
"I have a word to say to you in private," he began.
"I have no secrets from my aunt," I answered. "Whatever you have
to say, Captain Stanwick, may be said here."
He opened his lips to reply, and suddenly checked himself. He was
controlling his anger by so violent an effort that it turned his
ruddy face pale. For the moment he conquered his temper--he
addressed himself to me with the outward appearance of respect at
"Has that man Varleigh lied?" he asked; "or have you given _him_
hopes, too--after what you said to me yesterday?"
"I said nothing to you yesterday which gives you any right to put
that question to me," I rejoined. "You have entirely
misunderstood me, if you think so."
My aunt attempted to say a few temperate words, in the hope of
soothing him. He waved his hand, refusing to listen to her, and
advanced closer to me.
"_You_ have misunderstood _me_," he said, "if you think I am a
man to be made a plaything of in the hands of a coquette!"
My aunt interposed once more, with a resolution which I had not
expected from her.
"Captain Stanwick," she said, "you are forgetting yourself."
He paid no heed to her; he persisted in speaking to me. "It is my
misfortune to love you," he burst out. "My whole heart is set on
you. I mean to be your husband, and no other man living shall
stand in my way. After what you said to me yesterday, I have a
right to consider that you have favored my addresses. This is not
a mere flirtation. Don't think it! I say it's the passion of a
life! Do you hear? It's the passion of a man's whole life! I am
not to be trifled with. I have had a night of sleepless misery
about you--I have suffered enough for you--and you're not worth
it. Don't laugh! This is no laughing matter. Take care, Bertha!
My aunt rose from her chair. She astonished me. On all ordinary
occasions the most retiring, the most feminine of women, she now
walked up to Captain Stanwick and looked him full in the face,
without flinching for an instant.
"You appear to have forgotten that you are speaking in the
presence of two ladies," she said. "Alter your tone, sir, or I
shall be obliged to take my niece out of the room."
Half angry, half frightened, I tried to speak in my turn. My aunt
signed to me to be silent. The Captain drew back a step as if he
felt her reproof. But his eyes, still fixed on me, were as
fiercely bright as ever. _There_ the gentleman's superficial
good-breeding failed to hide the natural man beneath.
"I will leave you in undisturbed possession of the room," he said
to my aunt with bitter politeness. "Before I go, permit me to
give your niece an opportunity of reconsidering her conduct
before it is too late." My aunt drew back, leaving him free to
speak to me. After considering for a moment, he laid his hand
firmly, but not roughly, on my arm. "You have accepted Lionel
Varleigh's invitation to visit him," he said, "under pretense of
seeing his curiosities. Think again before you decide on keeping
that engagement. If you go to Varleigh tomorrow, you will repent
it to the last day of your life." Saying those words, in a tone
which made me tremble in spite of myself, he walked to the door.
As he laid his hand on the lock, he turned toward me for the last
time. "I forbid you to go to Varleigh's lodgings," he said, very
distinctly and quietly. "Understand what I tell you. I forbid
With those words he left us.
My aunt sat down by me and took my hand kindly. "There is only
one thing to be done," she said; "we must return at once to
Nettlegrove. If Captain Stanwick attempts to annoy you in your
own house, we have neighbors who will protect us, and we have Mr.
Loring, our rector, to appeal to for advice. As for Mr. Varleigh,
I will write our excuses myself before we go away."
She put out her hand to ring the bell and order the carriage. I
stopped her. My childish pride urged me to assert myself in some
way, after the passive position that I had been forced to occupy
during the interview with Captain Stanwick.
"No," I said, "it is not acting fairly toward Mr. Varleigh to
break our engagement with him. Let us return to Nettlegrove by
all means, but let us first call on Mr. Varleigh and take our
leave. Are we to behave rudely to a gentleman who has always
treated us with the utmost consideration, because Captain
Stanwick has tried to frighten us by cowardly threats? The
commonest feeling of self-respect forbids it."
My aunt protested against this outbreak of folly with perfect
temper and good sense. But my obstinacy (my firmness as I thought
it!) was immovable. I left her to choose between going with me to
Mr. Varleigh, or letting me go to him by myself. Finding it
useless to resist, she decided, it is needless to say, on going
We found Mr. Varleigh very courteous, but more than usually grave
and quiet. Our visit only lasted for a few minutes; my aunt using
the influence of her age and her position to shorten it. She
mentioned family affairs as the motive which recalled us to
Nettlegrove. I took it on myself to invite Mr. Varleigh to visit
me at my own house. He bowed and thanked me, without engaging
himself to accept the invitation. When I offered him my hand at
parting, he raised it to his lips, and kissed it with a fervor
that agitated me. His eyes looked into mine with a sorrowful
admiration, with a lingering regret, as if they were taking their
leave of me for a long while. "Don't forget me!" he whispered, as
he stood at the door, while I followed my aunt out. "Come to
Nettlegrove," I whispered back. His eyes dropped to the ground;
he let me go without a word more.
This, I declare solemnly, was all that passed at our visit. By
some unexpressed consent among us, no allusion whatever was made
to Captain Stanwick; not even his name was mentioned. I never
knew that the two men had met, just before we called on Mr.
Varleigh. Nothing was said which could suggest to me the
slightest suspicion of any arrangement for another meeting
between them later in the day. Beyond the vague threats which had
escaped Captain Stanwick's lips--threats which I own I was rash
enough to despise--I had no warning whatever of the dreadful
events which happened at Maplesworth on the day after our return
to Nettlegrove Hall.
I can only add that I am ready to submit to any questions that
may be put to me. Pray don't think me a heartless woman. My worst
fault was ignorance. In those days, I knew nothing of the false
pretenses under which men hide what is selfish and savage in
their natures from the women whom it is their interest to
No. 2.--Julius Bender, fencing-master, testifies and says:--
I am of German nationality; established in England as teacher of
the use of the sword and the pistol since the beginning of the
Finding business slack in London, it unfortunately occurred to me
to try what I could do in the country. I had heard of Maplesworth
as a place largely frequented by visitors on account of the
scenery, as well as by invalids in need of taking the waters; and
I opened a gallery there at the beginning of the season of 1817,
for fencing and pistol practice. About the visitors I had not
been deceived; there were plenty of idle young gentlemen among
them who might have been expected to patronize my establishment.
They showed the most barbarous indifference to the noble art of
attack and defense--came by twos and threes, looked at my
gallery, and never returned. My small means began to fail me.
After paying my expenses, I was really at my wits' end to find a
few pounds to go on with, in the hope of better days.
One gentleman, I remember, who came to see me, and who behaved
He described himself as an American, and said he had traveled a
great deal. As my ill luck would have it, he stood in no need of
my instructions. On the two or three occasions when he amused
himself with my foils and my pistols, he proved to be one of the
most expert swordsmen and one of the finest shots that I ever met
with. It was not wonderful: he had by nature cool nerves and a
quick eye; and he had been taught by the masters of the art in
Vienna and Paris.
Early in July--the 9th or 10th of the month, I think--I was
sitting alone in my gallery, looking ruefully enough at the last
two sovereigns in my purse, when a gentleman was announced who
wanted a lesson. "A _private_ lesson," he said, with emphasis,
looking at the man who cleaned and took care of my weapons.
I sent the man out of the room. The stranger (an Englishman, and,
as I fancied, judging by outward appearances, a military man as
well) took from his pocket-book a fifty-pound banknote, and held
it up before me. "I have a heavy wager depending on a fencing
match," he said, "and I have no time to improve myself. Teach me
a trick which will make me a match for a man skilled in the use
of the foil, and keep the secret--and there are fifty pounds for
I hesitated. I did indeed hesitate, poor as I was. But this devil
of a man held his banknote before me whichever way I looked, and
I had only two pounds left in the world!
"Are you going to fight a duel?'' I asked.
"I have already told you what I am going to do," he answered.
I waited a little. The infernal bank-note still tempted me. In
spite of myself, I tried him again.
"If I teach you the trick," I persisted, "will you undertake to
make no bad use of your lesson?"
"Yes, " he said, impatiently enough.
I was not quite satisfied yet.
"Will you promise it, on your word of honor?" I asked.
"Of course I will," he answered. "Take the money, and don't keep
me waiting any longer."
I took the money, and I taught him the trick--and I regretted it
almost as soon as it was done. Not that I knew, mind, of any
serious consequences that followed; for I returned to London the
next morning. My sentiments were those of a man of honor, who
felt that he had degraded his art, and who could not be quite
sure that he might not have armed the hand of an assassin as
well. I have no more to say.
No. 3.--Thomas Outwater, servant to Captain Stanwick, testifies
If I did not firmly believe my master to be out of his senses, no
punishment that I could receive would prevail upon me to tell of
him what I am going to tell now.
But I say he is mad, and therefore not accountable for what he
has done--mad for love of a young woman. If I could have my way,
I should like to twist her neck, though she _is_ a lady, and a gr
eat heiress into the bargain. Before she came between them, my
master and Mr. Varleigh were more like brothers than anything
else. She set them at variance, and whether she meant to do it or
not is all the same to me. I own I took a dislike to her when I
first saw her. She was one of the light-haired, blue-eyed sort,
with an innocent look and a snaky waist--not at all to be
depended on, as I have found them.
I hear I am not expected to give an account of the disagreement
between the two gentlemen, of which this lady was the cause. I am
to state what I did in Maplesworth, and what I saw afterward in
Herne Wood. Poor as I am, I would give a five-pound note to
anybody who could do it for me. Unfortunately, I must do it for
On the 10th of July, in the evening, my master went, for the
second time that day, to Mr. Varleigh's lodgings.
I am certain of the date, because it was the day of publication
of the town newspaper, and there was a law report in it which set
everybody talking. There had been a duel with pistols, a day or
two before, between a resident in the town and a visitor, caused
by some dispute about horses. Nothing very serious came of the
meeting. One of the men only was hurt, and the wound proved to be
of no great importance. The awkward part of the matter was that
the constables appeared on the ground, before the wounded man had
been removed. He and his two seconds were caught, and the
prisoners were committed for trial. Dueling (the magistrates
said) was an inhuman and unchristian practice, and they were
determined to put the law in force and stop it. This sentence
made a great stir in the town, and fixed the date, as I have just
said, in my mind.
Having been accidentally within hearing of some of the disputes
concerning Miss Laroche between my master and Mr. Varleigh, I had
my misgivings about the Captain's second visit to the friend with
whom he had quarreled already. A gentleman called on him, soon
after he had gone out, on important business. This gave me an
excuse for following him to Mr. Varleigh's rooms with the
visitor's card, and I took the opportunity.
I heard them at high words on my way upstairs, and waited a
little on the landing. The Captain was in one of his furious
rages; Mr. Varleigh was firm and cool as usual. After listening
for a minute or so, I heard enough (in my opinion) to justify me
in entering the room. I caught my master in the act of lifting
his cane--threatening to strike Mr. Varleigh. He instantly
dropped his hand, and turned on me in a fury at my intrusion.
Taking no notice of this outbreak of temper, I gave him his
friend's card, and went out. A talk followed in voices too low
for me to hear outside the room, and then the Captain approached
the door. I got out of his way, feeling very uneasy about what
was to come next. I could not presume to question Mr. Varleigh.
The only thing I could think of was to tell the young lady's aunt
what I had seen and heard, and to plead with Miss Laroche herself
to make peace between them. When I inquired for the ladies at
their lodgings, I was told that they had left Maplesworth.
I saw no more of the Captain that night.
The next morning he seemed to be quite himself again. He said to
me, "Thomas, I am going sketching in Herne Wood. Take the
paint-box and the rest of it, and put this into the carriage."
He handed me a packet as thick as my arm, and about three feet
long, done up in many folds of canvas. I made bold to ask what it
was. He answered that it was an artist's sketching umbrella,
packed for traveling.
In an hour's time, the carriage stopped on the road below Herne
Wood. My master said he would carry his sketching things himself,
and I was to wait with the carriage. In giving him the so-called
umbrella, I took the occasion of his eye being off me for the
moment to pass my hand over it carefully; and I felt, through the
canvas, the hilt of a sword. As an old soldier, I could not be
mistaken--the hilt of a sword.
What I thought, on making this discovery, does not much matter.
What I did was to watch the Captain into the wood, and then to
I tracked him along the path to where there was a clearing in the
midst of the trees. There he stopped, and I got behind a tree. He
undid the canvas, and produced _two_ swords concealed in the
packet. If I had felt any doubts before, I was certain of what
was coming now. A duel without seconds or witnesses, by way of
keeping the town magistrates in the dark--a duel between my
master and Mr. Varleigh! As his name came into my mind, the man
himself appeared, making his way into the clearing from the other
side of the wood.
What could I do to stop it? No human creature was in sight. The
nearest village was a mile away, reckoning from the further side
of the wood. The coachman was a stupid old man, quite useless in
a difficulty, even if I had had time enough to go back to the
road and summon him to help me. While I was thinking about it,
the Captain and Mr. Varleigh had stripped to their shirts and
trousers. When they crossed their swords, I could stand it no
longer--I burst in on them. "For God Almighty's sake, gentlemen,"
I cried out, "don't fight without seconds!" My master turned on
me, like the madman he was, and threatened me with the point of
his sword. Mr. Varleigh pulled me back out of harm's way. "Don't
be afraid," he whispered, as he led me back to the verge of the
clearing; "I have chosen the sword instead of the pistol
expressly to spare his life."
Those noble words (spoken by as brave and true a man as ever
breathed) quieted me. I knew Mr. Varleigh had earned the repute
of being one of the finest swordsmen in Europe.
The duel began. I was placed behind my master, and was
consequently opposite to his antagonist. The Captain stood on his
defense, waiting for the other to attack. Mr. Varleigh made a
pass. I was opposite the point of his sword; I saw it touch the
Captain's left shoulder. In the same instant of time my master
struck up his opponent's sword with his own weapon, seized Mr.
Varleigh's right wrist in his left hand, and passed his sword
clean through Mr. Varleigh's breast. He fell, the victim of a
murderous trick--fell without a word or a cry.
The Captain turned slowly, and faced me with his bloody sword in
his hand. I can't tell you how he looked; I can only say that the
sight of him turned me faint with terror. I was at Waterloo--I am
no coward. But I tell you the cold sweat poured down my face like
water. I should have dropped if I had not held by the branch of a
My master waited until I had in a measure recovered myself. "Feel
if his heart beats," he said, pointing to the man on the ground.
I obeyed. He was dead--the heart was still; the beat of the pulse
was gone. I said, "You have killed him!"
The Captain made no answer. He packed up the two swords again in
the canvas, and put them under his arm. Then he told me to follow
him with the sketching materials. I drew back from him without
speaking; there was a horrid hollow sound in his voice that I did
not like. "Do as I tell you," he said: "you have yourself to
thank for it if I refuse to lose sight of you now." I managed to
say that he might trust me to say nothing. He refused to trust
me; he put out his hand to take hold of me. I could not stand
that. "I'll go with you," I said; "don't touch me!" We reached
the carriage and returned to Maplesworth. The same day we
traveled by post to London.
In London I contrived to give the Captain the slip. By the first
coach the next morning I want back to Maplesworth, eager to hear
what had happened, and if the body had been found. Not a word of
news reached me; nothing seemed to be known of the duel in Herne
I went to the wood--on foot, fearing that I might be traced if I
hired a carriage. The country round was as solitary as usual. Not
a creature was near when I entered the wood; not a creature was
near when I looked into the clearing.
There was nothing on the ground. The body was gone.
No. 4.--The Reverend Alfred Loring, Rector of Nettlegrove,
testifies and says:--
EARLY in the month of October, 1817, I was informed that Miss
Bertha Laroche had called at
my house, and wished to see me in private.
I had first been presented to Miss Laroche on her arrival, with
her aunt, to take possession of her property at Nettlegrove Hall.
My opportunities of improving my acquaintance with her had not
been so numerous as I could have desired, and I sincerely
regretted it. She had produced a very favorable impression on me.
Singularly inexperienced and impulsive--with an odd mixture of
shyness and vivacity in her manner, and subject now and then to
outbursts of vanity and petulance which she was divertingly
incapable of concealing--I could detect, nevertheless, under the
surface the signs which told of a true and generous nature, of a
simple and pure heart. Her personal appearance, I should add, was
attractive in a remarkable degree. There was something in it so
peculiar, and at the same time so fascinating, that I am
conscious it may have prejudiced me in her favor. For fear of
this acknowledgment being misunderstood, I think it right to add
that I am old enough to be her grandfather, and that I am also a
I told the servant to show Miss Laroche into my study.
The moment she entered the room, her appearance alarmed me: she
looked literally panic-stricken. I offered to send for my wife;
she refused the proposal. I entreated her to take time at least
to compose herself. It was not in her impulsive nature to do
this. She said, "Give me your hand to encourage me, and let me
speak while I can." I gave her my hand, poor soul. I said, "Speak
to me, my dear, as if I were your father."
So far as I could understand the incoherent statement which she
addressed to me, she had been the object of admiration (while
visiting Maplesworth) of two gentlemen, who both desired to marry
her. Hesitating between them and perfectly inexperienced in such
matters, she had been the unfortunate cause of enmity between the
rivals, and had returned to Nettlegrove, at her aunt's
suggestion, as the best means of extricating herself from a very
embarrassing position. The removal failing to alleviate her
distressing recollections of what had happened, she and her aunt
had tried a further change by making a tour of two months on the
Continent. She had returned in a more quiet frame of mind. To her
great surprise, she had heard nothing of either of her two
suitors, from the day when she left Maplesworth to the day when
she presented herself at my rectory.
Early that morning she was walking, after breakfast, in the park
at Nettlegrove when she heard footsteps behind her. She turned,
and found herself face to face with one of her suitors at
Maplesworth. I am informed that there is no necessity now for my
suppressing the name. The gentleman was Captain Stanwick.
He was so fearfully changed for the worse that she hardly knew
After his first glance at her, he held his hand over his
bloodshot eyes as if the sunlight hurt them. Without a word to
prepare her for the disclosure, he confessed that he had killed
Mr. Varleigh in a duel. His remorse (he declared) had unsettled
his reason: only a few days had passed since he had been released
from confinement in an asylum.
"You are the cause of it," he said wildly. "It is for love of
you. I have but one hope left to live for--my hope in you. If you
cast me off, my mind is made up. I will give my life for the life
that I have taken; I will die by my own hand. Look at me, and you
will see that I am in earnest. My future as a living man depends
on your decision. Think of it to-day, and meet me here to-morrow.
Not at this time; the horrid daylight feels like fire in my eyes,
and goes like fire to my brain. Wait till sunset--you will find
He left her as suddenly as he had appeared. When she had
sufficiently recovered herself to be able to think, she decided
on saying nothing of what had happened to her aunt. She took her
way to the rectory to seek my advice.
It is needless to encumber my narrative by any statement of the
questions which I felt it my duty to put to her under these
circumstances. My inquiries informed me that Captain Stanwick had
in the first instance produced a favorable impression on her. The
less showy qualities of Mr. Varleigh had afterward grown on her
liking; aided greatly by the repelling effect on her mind of the
Captain's violent language and conduct when he had reason to
suspect that his rival was being preferred to him. When she knew
the horrible news of Mr. Varleigh's death, she "knew her own
heart" (to repeat her exact words to me) by the shock that she
felt. Toward Captain Stanwick the only feeling of which she was
now conscious was, naturally, a feeling of the strongest
My own course in this difficult and painful matter appeared to me
to be clear. "It is your duty as a Christian to see this
miserable man again," I said. "And it is my duty as your friend
and pastor, to sustain you under the trial. I will go with you
to-morrow to the place of meeting.
THE next evening we found Captain Stanwick waiting for us in the
He drew back on seeing me. I explained to him, temperately and
firmly, what my position was. With sullen looks he resigned
himself to endure my presence. By degrees I won his confidence.
My first impression of him remains unshaken--the man's reason was
unsettled. I suspected that the assertion of his release was a
falsehood, and that he had really escaped from the asylum. It was
impossible to lure him into telling me where the place was. He
was too cunning to do this--too cunning to say anything about his
relations, when I tried to turn the talk that way next. On the
other hand, he spoke with a revolting readiness of the crime that
he had committed, and of his settled resolution to destroy
himself if Miss Laroche refused to be his wife. "I have nothing
else to live for; I am alone in the world," he said. "Even my
servant has deserted me. He knows how I killed Lionel Varleigh."
He paused and spoke his next words in a whisper to me. "I killed
him by a trick--he was the best swordsman of the two."
This confession was so horrible that I could only attribute it to
an insane delusion. On pressing my inquiries, I found that the
same idea must have occurred to the poor wretch's relations, and
to the doctors who signed the certificates for placing him under
medical care. This conclusion (as I afterward heard) was greatly
strengthened by the fact that Mr. Varleigh's body had not been
found on the reported scene of the duel. As to the servant, he
had deserted his master in London, and had never reappeared. So
far as my poor judgment went, the question before me was not of
delivering a self-accused murderer to justice (with no corpse to
testify against him), but of restoring an insane man to the care
of the persons who had been appointed to restrain him.
I tried to test the strength of his delusion in an interval when
he was not urging his shocking entreaties on Miss Laroche. "How
do you know that you killed Mr. Varleigh?" I said.
He looked at me with a wild terror in his eyes. Suddenly he
lifted his right hand, and shook it in the air, with a moaning
cry, which was unmistakably a cry of pain. "Should I see his
ghost," he asked, "if I had not killed him? I know it, by the
pain that wrings me in the hand that stabbed him. Always in my
right hand! always the same pain at the moment when I see him!"
He stopped and ground his teeth in the agony and reality of his
delusion. "Look!" he cried. "Look between the two trees behind
you. There he is--with his dark hair, and his shaven face, and
his steady look! There he is, standing before me as he stood in
the wood, with his eyes on my eyes, and his sword feeling mine!"
He turned to Miss Laroche. "Do _you_ see him too?" he asked
eagerly. "Tell me the truth. My whole life depends on your
telling me the truth."
She controlled herself with a wonderful courage. "I don't see
him," she answered.
He took out his handkerchief, and passed it over his face with a
gasp of relief. "There is my last chance!" he said. "If she will
be true to me--if she will be always near me, morning, noon, and
night, I shall be released from the sight of him. See! he is
fading away already! Gone!" h e cried, with a scream of
exultation. He fell on his knees, and looked at Miss Laroche like
a savage adoring his idol. "Will you cast me off now?" he asked,
humbly. "Lionel was fond of you in his lifetime. His spirit is a
merciful spirit. He shrinks from frightening you, he has left me
for your sake; he will release me for your sake. Pity me, take me
to live with you--and I shall never see him again!"
It was dreadful to hear him. I saw that the poor girl could
endure no more. "Leave us," I whispered to her; "I will join you
at the house.
He heard me, and instantly placed himself between us. "Let her
promise, or she shan't go."
She felt, as I felt, the imperative necessity of saying anything
that might soothe him. At a sign from me she gave him her promise
He was satisfied--he insisted on kissing her hand, and then he
let her go. I had by this time succeeded in inducing him to trust
me. He proposed, of his own accord, that I should accompany him
to the inn in the village at which he had been staying. The
landlord (naturally enough distrusting his wretched guest) had
warned him that morning to find some other place of shelter. I
engaged to use my influence with the man to make him change his
purpose, and I succeeded in effecting the necessary arrangements
for having the poor wretch properly looked after. On my return to
my own house, I wrote to a brother magistrate living near me, and
to the superintendent of our county asylum, requesting them to
consult with me on the best means of lawfully restraining Captain
Stanwick until we could communicate with his relations. Could I
have done more than this? The event of the next morning answered
that question--answered it at once and forever.
PRESENTING myself at Nettlegrove Hall toward sunset, to take
charge of Miss Laroche, I was met by an obstacle in the shape of
a protest from her aunt.
This good lady had been informed of the appearance of Captain
Stanwick in the park, and she strongly disapproved of encouraging
any further communication with him on the part of her niece. She
also considered that I had failed in my duty in still leaving the
Captain at liberty. I told her that I was only waiting to act on
the advice of competent persons, who would arrive the next day to
consult with me; and I did my best to persuade her of the wisdom
of the course that I had taken in the meantime. Miss Laroche, on
her side, was resolved to be true to the promise that she had
given. Between us, we induced her aunt to yield on certain
"I know the part of the park in which the meeting is to take
place," the old lady said; "it is my niece's favorite walk. If
she is not brought back to me in half an hour's time, I shall
send the men-servants to protect her."
The twilight was falling when we reached the appointed place. We
found Captain Stanwick angry and suspicious; it was not easy to
pacify him on the subject of our delay. His insanity seemed to me
to be now more marked than ever. He had seen, or dreamed of
seeing, the ghost during the past night. For the first time (he
said) the apparition of the dead man had spoken to him. In solemn
words it had condemned him to expiate his crime by giving his
life for the life that he had taken. It had warned him not to
insist on marriage with Bertha Laroche: "She shall share your
punishment if she shares your life. And you shall know it by this
sign--_She shall see me as you see me._
I tried to compose him. He shook his head in immovable despair.
"No," he answered; "if she sees him when I see him, there ends
the one hope of release that holds me to life. It will be good-by
between us, and good-by forever!"
We had walked on, while we were speaking, to a part of the park
through which there flowed a rivulet of clear water. On the
further bank, the open ground led down into a wooded valley. On
our side of the stream rose a thick plantation of fir-trees
intersected by a winding path. Captain Stanwick stopped as we
reached the place. His eyes rested, in the darkening twilight, on
the narrow space pierced by the path among the trees. On a sudden
he lifted his right hand, with the same cry of pain which we had
heard before; with his left hand he took Miss Laroche by the arm.
"There!" he said. "Look where I look! Do you see him there?"
As the words passed his lips, a dimly-visible figure appeared,
advancing toward us along the path.
Was it the figure of a living man? or was it the creation of my
own excited fancy? Before I could ask myself the question, the
man advanced a step nearer to us. A last gleam of the dying light
fell on his face through an opening in the trees. At the same
instant Miss Laroche started back from Captain Stanwick with a
scream of terror. She would have fallen if I had not been near
enough to support her. The Captain was instantly at her side
again. "Speak!" he cried. "Do _you_ see it, too?"
She was just able to say "Yes" before she fainted in my arms.
He stooped over her, and touched her cold cheek with his lips.
"Goodby!" he said, in tones suddenly and strangely changed to the
most exquisite tenderness. "Good-by, forever!"
He leaped the rivulet; he crossed the open ground; he was lost to
sight in the valley beyond.
As he disappeared, the visionary man among the fir-trees
advanced; passed in silence; crossed the rivulet at a bound; and
vanished as the figure of the Captain had vanished before him.
I was left alone with the swooning woman. Not a sound, far or
near, broke the stillness of the coming night.
No 5.--Mr. Frederic Darnel, Member of the College of Surgeons,
testifies and says:--
IN the intervals of my professional duty I am accustomed to
occupy myself in studying Botany, assisted by a friend and
neighbor, whose tastes in this respect resemble my own. When I
can spare an hour or two from my patients, we go out together
searching for specimens. Our favorite place is Herne Wood. It is
rich in material for the botanist, and it is only a mile distant
from the village in which I live.
Early in July, my friend and I made a discovery in the wood of a
very alarming and unexpected kind. We found a man in the
clearing, prostrated by a dangerous wound, and to all appearance
We carried him to the gamekeeper's cottage on the outskirts of
the woods, and on the side of it nearest to our village. He and
his boy were out, but the light cart in which he makes his
rounds, in the remoter part of his master's property, was in the
outhouse. While my friend was putting the horse to, I examined
the stranger's wound. It had been quite recently inflicted, and I
doubted whether it had (as yet, at any rate) really killed him. I
did what I could with the linen and cold water which the
gamekeeper's wife offered to me, and then my friend and I removed
him carefully to my house in the cart. I applied the necessary
restoratives, and I had the pleasure of satisfying myself that
the vital powers had revived. He was perfectly unconscious, of
course, but the action of the heart became distinctly
perceptible, and I had hopes.
In a few days more I felt fairly sure of him. Then the usual
fever set in. I was obliged, in justice to his friends, to search
his clothes in presence of a witness. We found his handkerchief,
his purse, and his cigar-case, and nothing more. No letters or
visiting cards; nothing marked on his clothes but initials. There
was no help for it but to wait to identify him until he could
When that time came, he acknowledged to me that he had divested
himself purposely of any clew to his identity, in the fear (if
some mischance happened to him) of the news of it reaching his
father and mother abruptly, by means of the newspapers. He had
sent a letter to his bankers in London, to be forwarded to his
parents, if the bankers neither saw him nor heard from him in a
month's time. His first act was to withdraw this letter. The
other particulars which he communicated to me are, I am told,
already known. I need only add that I willingly kept his secret,
simply speaking of him in the neighborhood as a traveler from
foreign parts who had met with an accident.
His convalescence was a long one. It was the beginning of Octob
er before he was completely restored to health. When he left us
he went to London. He behaved most liberally to me; and we parted
with sincere good wishes on either side.
No. 6.--_Mr. Lionel Varleigh, of Boston, U. S. A., testifies and
MY first proceeding, on my recovery, was to go to the relations
of Captain Stanwick in London, for the purpose of making
inquiries about him.
I do not wish to justify myself at the expense of that miserable
man. It is true that I loved Miss Laroche too dearly to yield her
to any rival except at her own wish. It is also true that Captain
Stanwick more than once insulted me, and that I endured it. He
had suffered from sunstroke in India, and in his angry moments he
was hardly a responsible being. It was only when he threatened me
with personal chastisement that my patience gave way. We met
sword in hand. In my mind was the resolution to spare his life.
In his mind was the resolution to kill me. I have forgiven him. I
will say no more.
His relations informed me of the symptoms of insane delusion
which he had shown after the duel; of his escape from the asylum
in which he had been confined; and of the failure to find him
The moment I heard this news the dread crossed my mind that
Stanwick had found his way to Miss Laroche. In an hour more I was
traveling to Nettlegrove Hall.
I arrived late in the evening, and found Miss Laroche's aunt in
great alarm about her niece's safety. The young lady was at that
very moment speaking to Stanwick in the park, with only an old
man (the rector) to protect her. I volunteered to go at once, and
assist in taking care of her. A servant accompanied me to show me
the place of meeting. We heard voices indistinctly, but saw no
one. The servant pointed to a path through the fir-trees. I went
on quickly by myself, leaving the man within call. In a few
minutes I came upon them suddenly, at a little distance from me,
on the bank of a stream.
The fear of seriously alarming Miss Laroche, if I showed myself
too suddenly, deprived me for a moment of my presence of mind.
Pausing to consider what it might be best to do, I was less
completely protected from discovery by the trees than I had
supposed. She had seen me; I heard her cry of alarm. The instant
afterward I saw Stanwick leap over the rivulet and take to
flight. That action roused me. Without stopping for a word of
explanation, I pursued him.
Unhappily, I missed my footing in the obscure light, and fell on
the open ground beyond the stream. When I had gained my feet once
more, Stanwick had disappeared among the trees which marked the
boundary of the park beyond me. I could see nothing of him, and I
could hear nothing of him, when I came out on the high-road.
There I met with a laboring man who showed me the way to the
village. From the inn I sent a letter to Miss Laroche's aunt,
explaining what had happened, and asking leave to call at the
Hall on the next day.
Early in the morning the rector came to me at the inn. He brought
sad news. Miss Laroche was suffering from a nervous attack, and
my visit to the Hall must be deferred. Speaking next of the
missing man, I heard all that Mr. Loring could tell me. My
intimate knowledge of Stanwick enabled me to draw my own
conclusion from the facts. The thought instantly crossed my mind
that the poor wretch might have committed his expiatory suicide
at the very spot on which he had attempted to kill me. Leaving
the rector to institute the necessary inquiries, I took
post-horses to Maplesworth on my way to Herne Wood.
Advancing from the high-road to the wood, I saw two persons at a
little distance from me--a man in the dress of a gamekeeper, and
a lad. I was too much agitated to take any special notice of
them; I hurried along the path which led to the clearing. My
presentiment had not misled me. There he lay, dead on the scene
of the duel, with a blood-stained razor by his side! I fell on my
knees by the corpse; I took his cold hand in mine; and I thanked
God that I had forgiven him in the first days of my recovery.
I was still kneeling, when I felt myself seized from behind. I
struggled to my feet, and confronted the gamekeeper. He had
noticed my hurry in entering the wood; his suspicions had been
aroused, and he and the lad had followed me. There was blood on
my clothes; there was horror in my face. Appearances were plainly
against me; I had no choice but to accompany the gamekeeper to
the nearest magistrate.
My instructions to my solicitor forbade him to vindicate my
innocence by taking any technical legal objections to the action
of the magistrate or of the coroner. I insisted on my witnesses
being summoned to the lawyer's office, and allowed to state, in
their own way, what they could truly declare on my behalf; and I
left my defense to be founded upon the materials thus obtained.
In the meanwhile I was detained in custody, as a matter of
With this event the tragedy of the duel reached its culminating
point. I was accused of murdering the man who had attempted to
take my life!
This last incident having been related, all that is worth
noticing in my contribution to the present narrative comes to an
end. I was tried in due course of law. The evidence taken at my
solicitor's office was necessarily altered in form, though not in
substance, by the examination to which the witnesses were
subjected in a court of justice. So thoroughly did our defense
satisfy the jury, that they became restless toward the close of
the proceedings, and returned their verdict of Not Guilty without
quitting the box.
When I was a free man again, it is surely needless to dwell on
the first use that I made of my honorable acquittal. Whether I
deserved the enviable place that I occupied in Bertha's
estimation, it is not for me to say. Let me leave the decision to
the lady who has ceased to be Miss Laroche--I mean the lady who
has been good enough to become my wife.
MISS DULANE AND MY LORD.
ONE afternoon old Miss Dulane entered her drawing-room; ready to
receive visitors, dressed in splendor, and exhibiting every
outward appearance of a defiant frame of mind.
Just as a saucy bronze nymph on the mantelpiece struck the
quarter to three on an elegant clock under her arm, a visitor was
Miss Dulane wore her own undisguised gray hair, dressed in
perfect harmony with her time of life. Without an attempt at
concealment, she submitted to be too short and too stout. Her
appearance (if it had only been made to speak) would have said,
in effect: "I am an old woman, and I scorn to disguise it."
Mrs. Newsham, tall and elegant, painted and dyed, acted on the
opposite principle in dressing, which confesses nothing. On
exhibition before the world, this lady's disguise asserted that
she had reached her thirtieth year on her last birthday. Her
husband was discreetly silent, and Father Time was discreetly
silent: they both knew that her last birthday had happened thirty
"Shall we talk of the weather and the news, my dear? Or shall we
come to the object of your visit at once?" So Miss Dulane opened
"Your tone and manner, my good friend, are no doubt provoked by
the report in the newspaper of this morning. In justice to you, I
refuse to believe the report." So Mrs. Newsham adopted her
"You kindness is thrown away, Elizabeth. The report is true."
"Matilda, you shock me!"
"At your age!"
"If _he_ doesn't object to my age, what does it matter to _you?_"