Part 2 out of 3
the new guest.
Lilburne, however, who had never lost his self-composure at this strange
rudeness, was now quietly talking with their host.
"Your Doctor seems an eccentric man--a little absent--learned, I suppose.
Have you been to Como, yet?"
Mr. Gawtrey remained by the fire beating the devil's tattoo upon the
chimney-piece, and ever and anon turning his glance towards Lilburne, who
seemed to have forgotten his existence.
Both these guests stayed till the party broke up; Mr. Gawtrey apparently
wishing to outstay Lord Lilburne; for, when the last went down-stairs,
Mr. Gawtrey, nodding to his comrade and giving a hurried bow to the host,
descended also. As they passed the porter's lodge, they found Lilburne
on the step of his carriage; he turned his head abruptly, and again met
Mr. Gawtrey's eye; paused a moment, and whispered over his shoulder:
"So we remember each other, sir? Let us not meet again; and, on that
condition, bygones are bygones."
"Scoundrel!" muttered Gawtrey, clenching his fists; but the peer had
sprung into his carriage with a lightness scarcely to be expected from
his lameness, and the wheels whirled within an inch of the soi-disant
doctor's right pump.
Gawtrey walked on for some moments in great excitement; at length he
turned to his companion,--
"Do you guess who Lord Lilburne is? I will tell you my first foe and
Fanny's grandfather! Now, note the justice of Fate: here is this man--
mark well--this man who commenced life by putting his faults on my own
shoulders! From that little boss has fungused out a terrible hump. This
man who seduced my affianced bride, and then left her whole soul, once
fair and blooming--I swear it--with its leaves fresh from the dews of
heaven, one rank leprosy, this man who, rolling in riches, learned to
cheat and pilfer as a boy learns to dance and play the fiddle, and (to
damn me, whose happiness he had blasted) accused me to the world of his
own crime!--here is this man who has not left off one vice, but added to
those of his youth the bloodless craft of the veteran knave;--here is
this man, flattered, courted, great, marching through lanes of bowing
parasites to an illustrious epitaph and a marble tomb, and I, a rogue
too, if you will, but rogue for my bread, dating from him my errors and
my ruin! I--vagabond--outcast--skulking through tricks to avoid crime--
why the difference? Because one is born rich and the other poor--because
he has no excuse for crime, and therefore no one suspects him!"
The wretched man (for at that moment he was wretched) paused breathless
from his passionate and rapid burst, and before him rose in its marble
majesty, with the moon full upon its shining spires--the wonder of Gothic
Italy--the Cathedral Church of Milan.
"Chafe not yourself at the universal fate," said the young man, with a
bitter smile on his lips and pointing to the cathedral; "I have not lived
long, but I have learned already enough to know this? he who could raise
a pile like that, dedicated to Heaven, would be honoured as a saint; he
who knelt to God by the roadside under a hedge would be sent to the house
of correction as a vagabond. The difference between man and man is
money, and will be, when you, the despised charlatan, and Lilburne, the
honoured cheat, have not left as much dust behind you as will fill a
snuff-box. Comfort yourself, you are in the majority."
"A desert wild
Before them stretched bare, comfortless, and vast,
With gibbets, bones, and carcasses defiled."
THOMPSON'S _Castle of Indolenece_.
Mr. Gawtrey did not wish to give his foe the triumph of thinking he had
driven him from Milan; he resolved to stay and brave it out; but when he
appeared in public, he found the acquaintances he had formed bow
politely, but cross to the other side of the way. No more invitations to
tea and cards showered in upon the jolly parson. He was puzzled, for
people, while they shunned him, did not appear uncivil. He found out at
last that a report was circulated that he was deranged; though he could
not trace this rumour to Lord Lilburne, he was at no loss to guess from
whom it had emanated. His own eccentricities, especially his recent
manner at Mr. Macgregor's, gave confirmation to the charge. Again the
funds began to sink low in the canvas bags, and at length, in despair,
Mr. Gawtrey was obliged to quit the field. They returned to France
through Switzerland--a country too poor for gamesters; and ever since the
interview with Lilburne, a great change had come over Gawtrey's gay
spirit: he grew moody and thoughtful, he took no pains to replenish the
common stock, he talked much and seriously to his young friend of poor
Fanny, and owned that he yearned to see her again. The desire to return
to Paris haunted him like a fatality; he saw the danger that awaited him
there, but it only allured him the more, as the candle does the moth
whose wings it has singed. Birnie, who, in all their vicissitudes and
wanderings, their ups and downs, retained the same tacit, immovable
demeanour, received with a sneer the orders at last to march back upon
the French capital. "You would never have left it, if you had taken my
advice," he said, and quitted the room.
Mr. Gawtrey gazed after him and muttered, "Is the die then cast?"
"What does he mean?" said Morton.
"You will know soon," replied Gawtrey, and he followed Birnie; and from
that time the whispered conferences with that person, which had seemed
suspended during their travels, were renewed.
. . . . . . . . . .
One morning, three men were seen entering Paris on foot through the Porte
St. Denis. It was a fine day in spring, and the old city looked gay with
its loitering passengers and gaudy shops, and under that clear blue
exhilarating sky so peculiar to France.
Two of these men walked abreast, the other preceded them a few steps.
The one who went first--thin, pale, and threadbare--yet seemed to suffer
the least from fatigue; he walked with a long, swinging, noiseless
stride, looking to the right and left from the corners of his eyes. Of
the two who followed, one was handsome and finely formed, but of swarthy
complexion, young, yet with a look of care; the other, of sturdy frame,
leaned on a thick stick, and his eyes were gloomily cast down.
"Philip," said the last, "in coming back to Paris--I feel that I am
coming back to my grave!"
"Pooh--you were equally despondent in our excursions elsewhere."
"Because I was always thinking of poor Fanny, and because--because--
Birnie was ever at me with his horrible temptations!"
"Birnie! I loathe the man! Will you never get rid of him?"
"I cannot! Hush! he will hear us. How unlucky we have been! and now
without a son in our pockets--here the dunghill--there the gaol! We are
in his power at last!"
"His power! what mean you?"
"What ho! Birnie!" cried Gawtrey, unheeding Morton's question. "Let us
halt and breakfast: I am tired."
"You forget!--we have no money till we make it," returned Birnie,
coldly.--"Come to the _serrurier's_ he will trust us."
"Gaunt Beggary and Scorn with many bell-hounds more."
THOMSON'S _Castle of Indolence_.
"The other was a fell, despiteful fiend."--Ibid.
"Your happiness behold! then straight a wand
He waved, an anti-magic power that hath
Truth from illusive falsehood to command."--Ibid.
"But what for us, the children of despair,
Brought to the brink of hell--what hope remains?
It may be observed that there are certain years in which in a civilised
country some particular crime comes into vogue. It flares its season,
and then burns out. Thus at one time we have Burking--at another,
Swingism--now, suicide is in vogue--now, poisoning tradespeople in apple-
dumplings--now, little boys stab each other with penknives--now, common
soldiers shoot at their sergeants. Almost every year there is one crime
peculiar to it; a sort of annual which overruns the country but does not
bloom again. Unquestionably the Press has a great deal to do with these
epidemics. Let a newspaper once give an account of some out-of-the-way
atrocity that has the charm of being novel, and certain depraved minds
fasten to it like leeches. They brood over and revolve it--the idea
grows up, a horrid phantasmalian monomania; and all of a sudden, in a
hundred different places, the one seed sown by the leaden types springs
up into foul flowering.
[An old Spanish writer, treating of the Inquisition, has some very
striking remarks on the kind of madness which, whenever some
terrible notoriety is given to a particular offence, leads persons
of distempered fancy to accuse themselves of it. He observes that
when the cruelties of the Inquisition against the imaginary crime of
sorcery were the most barbarous, this singular frenzy led numbers to
accuse themselves of sorcery. The publication and celebrity of the
crime begat the desire of the crime.]
But if the first reported aboriginal crime has been attended with
impunity, how much more does the imitative faculty cling to it. Ill-
judged mercy falls, not like dew, but like a great heap of manure, on the
Now it happened that at the time I write of, or rather a little before,
there had been detected and tried in Paris a most redoubted coiner. He
had carried on the business with a dexterity that won admiration even for
the offence; and, moreover, he had served previously with some
distinction at Austerlitz and Marengo. The consequence was that the
public went with instead of against him, and his sentence was transmuted
to three years' imprisonment by the government. For all governments in
free countries aspire rather to be popular than just.
No sooner was this case reported in the journals--and even the gravest
took notice, of it (which is not common with the scholastic journals of
France)--no sooner did it make a stir and a sensation, and cover the
criminal with celebrity, than the result became noticeable in a very
large issue of false money.
Coining in the year I now write of was the fashionable crime. The police
were roused into full vigour: it became known to them that there was one
gang in especial who cultivated this art with singular success. Their
coinage was, indeed, so good, so superior to all their rivals, that it
was often unconsciously preferred by the public to the real mintage. At
the same time they carried on their calling with such secrecy that they
utterly baffled discovery.
An immense reward was offered by the _bureau_ to any one who would betray
his accomplices, and Monsieur Favart was placed at the head of a
commission of inquiry. This person had himself been a _faux monnoyer_,
and was an adept in the art, and it was he who had discovered the
redoubted coiner who had brought the crime into such notoriety. Monsieur
Favart was a man of the most vigilant acuteness, the most indefatigable
research, and of a courage which; perhaps, is more common than we
suppose. It is a popular error to suppose that courage means courage in
everything. Put a hero on board ship at a five-barred gate, and, if he
is not used to hunting, he will turn pale; put a fox-hunter on one of the
Swiss chasms, over which the mountaineer springs like a roe, and his
knees will knock under him. People are brave in the dangers to which
they accustom themselves, either in imagination or practice.
Monsieur Favart, then, was a man of the most daring bravery in facing
rogues and cut-throats. He awed them with his very eye; yet he had been
known to have been kicked down-stairs by his wife, and when he was drawn
into the grand army, he deserted the eve of his first battle. Such, as
moralists say, is the inconsistency of man!
But Monsieur Favart was sworn to trace the coiners, and he had never
failed yet in any enterprise he undertook. One day he presented himself
to his chief with a countenance so elated that that penetrating
functionary said to him at once--
"You have heard of our messieurs!"
"I have: I am to visit them to-night."
"Bravo! How many men will you take?"
"From twelve to twenty to leave without on guard. But I must enter
alone. Such is the condition: an accomplice who fears his own throat too
much to be openly a betrayer will introduce me to the house--nay, to the
very room. By his description it is necessary I should know the exact
locale in order to cut off retreat; so to-morrow night I shall surround
the beehive and take the honey."
"They are desperate fellows, these coiners, always; better be cautious."
"You forget I was one of them, and know the masonry." About the same
time this conversation was going on at the bureau of the police, in
another part of the town Morton and Gawtrey were seated alone. It is
some weeks since they entered Paris, and spring has mellowed into summer.
The house in which they lodged was in the lordly quartier of the Faubourg
St. Germain; the neighbouring streets were venerable with the ancient
edifices of a fallen noblesse; but their tenement was in a narrow, dingy
lane, and the building itself seemed beggarly and ruinous. The apartment
was in an attic on the sixth story, and the window, placed at the back of
the lane, looked upon another row of houses of a better description, that
communicated with one of the great streets of the quartier. The space
between their abode and their opposite neighbours was so narrow that the
sun could scarcely pierce between. In the height of summer might be
found there a perpetual shade.
The pair were seated by the window. Gawtrey, well-dressed, smooth-
shaven, as in his palmy time; Morton, in the same garments with which he
had entered Paris, weather-stained and ragged. Looking towards the
casements of the attic in the opposite house, Gawtrey said, mutteringly,
"I wonder where Birnie has been, and why he has not returned. I grow
suspicious of that man."
"Suspicious of what?" asked Morton. "Of his honesty? Would he rob
"Rob me! Humph--perhaps! but you see I am in Paris, in spite of the
hints of the police; he may denounce me."
"Why, then, suffer him to lodge away from you?"
"Why? because, by having separate houses there are two channels of
escape. A dark night, and a ladder thrown across from window to window,
he is with us, or we with him."
"But wherefore such precautions? You blind--you deceive me; what have
you done?--what is your employment now? You are, mute. Hark you,
Gawtrey. I have pinned my fate to you--I am fallen from hope itself! At
times it almost makes me mad to look back--and yet you do not trust me.
Since your return to Paris you are absent whole nights--often days; you
are moody and thoughtful-yet, whatever your business, it seems to bring
you ample returns."
"You think that," said Gawtrey, mildly, and with a sort of pity in his
voice; "yet you refuse to take even the money to change those rags."
"Because I know not how the money was gained. Ah, Gawtrey, I am not too
proud for charity, but I am for--" He checked the word uppermost in his
thoughts, and resumed--
"Yes; your occupations seem lucrative. It was but yesterday Birnie gave
me fifty napoleons, for which he said you wished change in silver."
"Did he? The ras-- Well! and you got change for them?"
"I know not why, but I refused."
"That was right, Philip. Do nothing that man tells you."
"Will you, then, trust me? You are engaged in some horrible traffic! it
may be blood! I am no longer a boy--I have a will of my own--I will not
be silently and blindly entrapped to perdition. If I march thither, it
shall be with my own consent. Trust me, and this day, or we part
"Be ruled. Some secrets it is better not to know."
"It matters not. I have come to my decision--I ask yours."
Gawtrey paused for some moments in deep thought. At last he lifted his
eyes to Philip, and replied:
"Well, then, if it must be. Sooner or later it must have been so; and I
want a confidant. You are bold, and will not shrink. You desire to know
my occupation--will you witness it to-night?"
"I am prepared: to-night!"
Here a step was heard on the stairs--a knock at the door--and Birnie
He drew aside Gawtrey, and whispered him, as usual, for some moments.
Gawtrey nodded his head, and then said aloud--
"To-morrow we shall talk without reserve before my young friend.
To-night he joins us."
"To-night!--very well," said Birnie, with his cold sneer. He must take
the oath; and you, with your life, will be responsible for his honesty?"
"Ay! it is the rule."
"Good-bye, then, till we meet," said Birnie, and withdrew.
"I wonder," said Gawtrey, musingly, and between his grinded teeth,
"whether I shall ever have a good fair shot at that fellow? Ho! ho!"
and his laugh shook the walls.
Morton looked hard at Gawtrey, as the latter now sank down in his chair,
and gazed with a vacant stare, that seemed almost to partake of
imbecility, upon the opposite wall. The careless, reckless, jovial
expression, which usually characterised the features of the man, had for
some weeks given place to a restless, anxious, and at times ferocious
aspect, like the beast that first finds a sport while the hounds are yet
afar, and his limbs are yet strong, in the chase which marks him for his
victim, but grows desperate with rage and fear as the day nears its
close, and the death-dogs pant hard upon his track. But at that moment
the strong features, with their gnarled muscle and iron sinews, seemed to
have lost every sign both of passion and the will, and to be locked in a
stolid and dull repose. At last he looked up at Morton, and said, with a
smile like that of an old man in his dotage--
"I'm thinking that my life has been one mistake! I had talents--you
would not fancy it--but once I was neither a fool nor a villain! Odd,
isn't it? Just reach me the brandy."
But Morton, with a slight shudder, turned and left the room.
He walked on mechanically, and gained, at last, the superb _Quai_ that
borders the Seine; there, the passengers became more frequent; gay
equipages rolled along; the white and lofty mansions looked fair and
stately in the clear blue sky of early summer; beside him flowed the
sparkling river, animated with the painted baths that floated on its
surface: earth was merry and heaven serene his heart was dark through
all: Night within--Morning beautiful without! At last he paused by that
bridge, stately with the statues of those whom the caprice of time
honours with a name; for though Zeus and his gods be overthrown, while
earth exists will live the worship of Dead Men;--the bridge by which you
pass from the royal Tuileries, or the luxurious streets beyond the Rue de
Rivoli, to the Senate of the emancipated People, and the gloomy and
desolate grandeur of the Faubourg St. Germain, in whose venerable haunts
the impoverished descendants of the old feudal tyrants, whom the birth of
the Senate overthrew, yet congregate;--the ghosts of departed powers
proud of the shadows of great names. As the English outcast paused
midway on the bridge, and for the first time lifting his head from his
bosom, gazed around, there broke at once on his remembrance that terrible
and fatal evening, when, hopeless, friendless, desperate, he had begged
for charity of his uncle's hireling, with all the feelings that then (so
imperfectly and lightly touched on in his brief narrative to Gawtrey) had
raged and blackened in his breast, urging to the resolution he had
adopted, casting him on the ominous friendship of the man whose guidance
he even then had suspected and distrusted. The spot in either city had a
certain similitude and correspondence each with each: at the first he had
consummated his despair of human destinies--he had dared to forget the
Providence of God--he had arrogated his fate to himself: by the first
bridge he had taken his resolve; by the last he stood in awe at the
result--stood no less poor--no less abject--equally in rags and squalor;
but was his crest as haughty and his eye as fearless, for was his
conscience as free and his honour as unstained? Those arches of stone--
those rivers that rolled between, seemed to him then to take a more
mystic and typical sense than belongs to the outer world--they were the
bridges to the Rivers of his Life. Plunged in thoughts so confused and
dim that he could scarcely distinguish, through the chaos, the one streak
of light which, perhaps, heralded the reconstruction or regeneration of
the elements of his soul;--two passengers halted, also by his side.
"You will be late for the debate," said one of them to the other. "Why
do you stop?"
"My friend," said the other, "I never pass this spot without recalling
the time when I stood here without a son, or, as I thought, a chance of
one, and impiously meditated self-destruction."
"You!--now so rich--so fortunate in repute and station--is it possible?
How was it? A lucky chance?--a sudden legacy?"
"No: Time, Faith, and Energy--the three Friends God has given to the
The men moved on; but Morton, who had turned his face towards them,
fancied that the last speaker fixed on him his bright, cheerful eye, with
a meaning look; and when the man was gone, he repeated those words, and
hailed them in his heart of hearts as an augury from above.
Quickly, then, and as if by magic, the former confusion of his mind
seemed to settle into distinct shapes of courage and resolve. "Yes," he
muttered; "I will keep this night's appointment--I will learn the secret
of these men's life. In my inexperience and destitution, I have suffered
myself to be led hitherto into a partnership, if not with vice and crime,
at least with subterfuge and trick. I awake from my reckless boyhood--my
unworthy palterings with my better self. If Gawtrey be as I dread to
find him--if he be linked in some guilty and hateful traffic; with that
loathsome accomplice--I will--" He paused, for his heart whispered,
"Well, and even so,--the guilty man clothed and fed thee!" "I will,"
resumed his thought, in answer to his heart--"I will go on my knees to
him to fly while there is yet time, to work--beg--starve--perish even--
rather than lose the right to look man in the face without a blush, and
kneel to his God without remorse!"
And as he thus ended, he felt suddenly as if he himself were restored to
the perception and the joy of the Nature and the World around him; the
NIGHT had vanished from his soul--he inhaled the balm and freshness of
the air--he comprehended the delight which the liberal June was
scattering over the earth--he looked above, and his eyes were suffused
with pleasure, at the smile of the soft blue skies. The MORNING became,
as it were, a part of his own being; and he felt that as the world in
spite of the storms is fair, so in spite of evil God is good. He walked
on--he passed the bridge, but his step was no more the same,--he forgot
his rags. Why should he be ashamed? And thus, in the very flush of this
new and strange elation and elasticity of spirit, he came unawares upon a
group of young men, lounging before the porch of one of the chief hotels
in that splendid Rue de Rivoli, wherein Wealth and the English have made
their homes. A groom, mounted, was leading another horse up and down the
road, and the young men were making their comments of approbation upon
both the horses, especially the one led, which was, indeed, of uncommon
beauty and great value. Even Morton, in whom the boyish passion of his
earlier life yet existed, paused to turn his experienced and admiring eye
upon the stately shape and pace of the noble animal, and as he did so, a
name too well remembered came upon his ear.
"Certainly, Arthur Beaufort is the most enviable fellow in Europe."
"Why, yes," said another of the young men; "he has plenty of money--is
good-looking, devilish good-natured, clever, and spends like a prince."
"Has the best horses!"
"The best luck at roulette!"
"The prettiest girls in love with him!"
"And no one enjoys life more. Ah! here he is!"
The group parted as a light, graceful figure came out of a jeweller's
shop that adjoined the hotel, and halted gaily amongst the loungers.
Morton's first impulse was to hurry from the spot; his second impulse
arrested his step, and, a little apart, and half-hid beneath one of the
arches of the colonnade which adorns the street, the Outcast gazed upon.
the Heir. There was no comparison in the natural personal advantages of
the two young men; for Philip Morton, despite all the hardships of his
rough career, had now grown up and ripened into a rare perfection of form
and feature. His broad chest, his erect air, his lithe and symmetrical
length of limb, united, happily, the attributes of activity and strength;
and though there was no delicacy of youthful bloom upon his dark cheek,
and though lines which should have come later marred its smoothness with
the signs of care and thought, yet an expression of intelligence and
daring, equally beyond his years, and the evidence of hardy, abstemious,
vigorous health, served to show to the full advantage the outline of
features which, noble and regular, though stern and masculine, the artist
might have borrowed for his ideal of a young Spartan arming for his first
battle. Arthur, slight to feebleness, and with the paleness, partly of
constitution, partly of gay excess, on his fair and clear complexion, had
features far less symmetrical and impressive than his cousin: but what
then? All that are bestowed by elegance of dress, the refinements of
luxurious habit, the nameless grace that comes from a mind and a manner
polished, the one by literary culture, the other by social intercourse,
invested the person of the heir with a fascination that rude Nature alone
ever fails to give. And about him there was a gaiety, an airiness of
spirit, an atmosphere of enjoyment which bespoke one who is in love with
"Why, this is lucky! I'm so glad to see you all!" said Arthur Beaufort,
with that silver-ringing tone and charming smile which are to the happy
spring of man what its music and its sunshine are to the spring of earth.
"You must dine with me at Verey's. I want something to rouse me to-day;
for I did not get home from the _Salon_* till four this morning."
*[The most celebrated gaming-house in Paris in the day before
gaming-houses were suppressed by the well-directed energy of the
"But you won?"
"Yes, Marsden. Hang it! I always win: I who could so well afford to
lose: I'm quite ashamed of my luck!"
"It is easy to spend what one wins," observed Mr. Marsden, sententiously;
"and I see you have been at the jeweller's! A present for Cecile? Well,
don't blush, my dear fellow. What is life without women?"
"And wine?" said a second. "And play?" said a third. "And wealth?" said
"And you enjoy them all! Happy fellow!" said a fifth. The Outcast
pulled his hat over his brows, and walked away.
"This dear Paris," said Beaufort, as his eye carelessly and unconsciously
followed the dark form retreating through the arches;--"this dear Paris!
I must make the most of it while I stay! I have only been here a few
weeks, and next week I must go."
"Pooh--your health is better: you don't look like the same man."
"You think so really? Still I don't know: the doctors say that I must
either go to the German waters--the season is begun--or--"
"Live less with such pleasant companions, my dear fellow! But as you
say, what is life without--"
"Ha! ha. 'Throw physic to the dogs: I'll none of it!'"
And Arthur leaped lightly on his saddle, and as he rode gaily on, humming
the favourite air of the last opera, the hoofs of his horse splashed the
mud over a foot-passenger halting at the crossing. Morton checked the
fiery exclamation rising to his lips; and gazing after the brilliant form
that hurried on towards the Champs Elysees, his eye caught the statues on
the bridge, and a voice, as of a cheering angel, whispered again to his
heart, "TIME, FAITH, ENERGY!"
The expression of his countenance grew calm at once, and as he continued
his rambles it was with a mind that, casting off the burdens of the past,
looked serenely and steadily on the obstacles and hardships of the
future. We have seen that a scruple of conscience or of pride, not
without its nobleness, had made him refuse the importunities of Gawtrey
for less sordid raiment; the same feeling made it his custom to avoid
sharing the luxurious and dainty food with which Gawtrey was wont to
regale himself. For that strange man, whose wonderful felicity of
temperament and constitution rendered him, in all circumstances, keenly
alive to the hearty and animal enjoyments of life, would still emerge, as
the day declined, from their wretched apartment, and, trusting to his
disguises, in which indeed he possessed a masterly art, repair to one of
the better description of restaurants, and feast away his cares for the
moment. William Gawtrey would not have cared three straws for the curse
of Damocles. The sword over his head would never have spoiled his
appetite! He had lately, too, taken to drinking much more deeply than he
had been used to do--the fine intellect of the man was growing thickened
and dulled; and this was a spectacle that Morton could not bear to
contemplate. Yet so great was Gawtrey's vigour of health, that, after
draining wine and spirits enough to have despatched a company of fox-
hunters, and after betraying, sometimes in uproarious glee, sometimes in
maudlin self-bewailings, that he himself was not quite invulnerable to
the thyrsus of the god, he would--on any call on his energies, or
especially before departing on those mysterious expeditions which kept
him from home half, and sometimes all, the night--plunge his head into
cold water--drink as much of the lymph as a groom would have shuddered to
bestow on a horse--close his eyes in a doze for half an hour, and wake,
cool, sober, and collected, as if he had lived according to the precepts
of Socrates or Cornaro!
But to return to Morton. It was his habit to avoid as much as possible
sharing the good cheer of his companion; and now, as he entered the,
Champs Elysees, he saw a little family, consisting of a young mechanic,
his wife, and two children, who, with that love of harmless recreation
which yet characterises the French, had taken advantage of a holiday in
the craft, and were enjoying their simple meal under the shadow of the
trees. Whether in hunger or in envy, Morton paused and contemplated the
happy group. Along the road rolled the equipages and trampled the steeds
of those to whom all life is a holiday. There, was Pleasure--under those
trees was Happiness. One of the children, a little boy of about six
years old, observing the attitude and gaze of the pausing wayfarer, ran
to him, and holding up a fragment of a coarse kind of cake, said to him,
willingly, "Take it--I have had enough!" The child reminded Morton of
his brother--his heart melted within him--he lifted the young Samaritan
in his arms, and as he kissed him, wept.
The mother observed and rose also. She laid her hand on his own: "Poor
boy! why do you weep?--can we relieve you?"
Now that bright gleam of human nature, suddenly darting across the sombre
recollections and associations of his past life, seemed to Morton as if
it came from Heaven, in approval and in blessing of this attempt at
reconciliation to his fate.
"I thank you," said he, placing the child on the ground, and passing his
hand over his eyes,--"I thank you--yes! Let me sit down amongst you."
And he sat down, the child by his side, and partook of their fare, and
was merry with them,--the proud Philip!--had he not begun to discover the
"precious jewel" in the "ugly and venomous" Adversity?
The mechanic, though a gay fellow on the whole, was not without some of
that discontent of his station which is common with his class; he vented
it, however, not in murmurs, but in jests. He was satirical on the
carriages and the horsemen that passed; and, lolling on the grass,
ridiculed his betters at his ease.
"Hush!" said his wife, suddenly; "here comes Madame de Merville;" and
rising as she spoke, she made a respectful inclination of her head
towards an open carriage that was passing very slowly towards the town.
"Madame de Merville!" repeated the husband, rising also, and lifting his
cap from his head. "Ah! I have nothing to say against her!"
Morton looked instinctively towards the carriage, and saw a fair
countenance turned graciously to answer the silent salutations of the
mechanic and his wife--a countenance that had long haunted his dreams,
though of late it had faded away beneath harsher thoughts--the
countenance of the stranger whom he had seen at the bureau of Gawtrey,
when that worthy personage had borne a more mellifluous name. He started
and changed colour: the lady herself now seemed suddenly to recognise
him; for their eyes met, and she bent forward eagerly. She pulled the
check-string--the carriage halted--she beckoned to the mechanic's wife,
who went up to the roadside.
"I worked once for that lady," said the man with a tone of feeling; "and
when my wife fell ill last winter she paid the doctors. Ah, she is an
angel of charity and kindness!"
Morton scarcely heard this eulogium, for he observed, by something eager
and inquisitive in the face of Madame de Merville, and by the sudden
manner in which the mechanic's helpmate turned her head to the spot in
which he stood, that he was the object of their conversation. Once more
he became suddenly aware of his ragged dress, and with a natural shame--a
fear that charity might be extended to him from her--he muttered an
abrupt farewell to the operative, and without another glance at the
carriage, walked away.
Before he had got many paces, the wife however came up to him,
breathless. "Madame de Merville would speak to you, sir!" she said, with
more respect than she had hitherto thrown into her manner. Philip paused
an instant, and again strode on--
"It must be some mistake," he said, hurriedly: "I have no right to expect
such an honour."
He struck across the road, gained the opposite side, and had vanished
from Madame de Merville's eyes, before the woman regained the carriage.
But still that calm, pale, and somewhat melancholy face, presented itself
before him; and as he walked again through the town, sweet and gentle
fancies crowded confusedly on his heart. On that soft summer day,
memorable for so many silent but mighty events in that inner life which
prepares the catastrophes of the outer one; as in the region, of which
Virgil has sung, the images of men to be born hereafter repose or glide--
on that soft summer day, he felt he had reached the age when Youth begins
to clothe in some human shape its first vague ideal of desire and love.
In such thoughts, and still wandering, the day wore away, till he found
himself in one of the lanes that surround that glittering Microcosm of
the vices, the frivolities, the hollow show, and the real beggary of the
gay City--the gardens and the galleries of the Palais Royal. Surprised
at the lateness of the hour, it was then on the stroke of seven, he was
about to return homewards, when the loud voice of Gawtrey sounded behind,
and that personage, tapping him on the back, said,--
"Hollo, my young friend, well met! This will be a night of trial to you.
Empty stomachs produce weak nerves. Come along! you must dine with me.
A good dinner and a bottle of old wine--come! nonsense, I say you shall
come! _Vive la joie_!"
While speaking, he had linked his arm in Morton's, and hurried him on
several paces in spite of his struggles; but just as the words _Vive la
joie_ left his lips, he stood still and mute, as if a thunderbolt had
fallen at his feet; and Morton felt that heavy arm shiver and tremble
like a leaf. He looked up, and just at the entrance of that part of the
Palais Royal in which are situated the restaurants of Verey and Vefour,
he saw two men standing but a few paces before them, and gazing full on
Gawtrey and himself.
"It is my evil genius," muttered Gawtrey, grinding his teeth.
"And mine!" said Morton.
The younger of the two men thus apostrophised made a step towards Philip,
when his companion drew him back and whispered,--"What are you about--do
you know that young man?"
"He is my cousin; Philip Beaufort's natural son!"
"Is he? then discard him for ever. He is with the most dangerous knave
As Lord Lilburne--for it was he--thus whispered his nephew, Gawtrey
strode up to him; and, glaring full in his face, said in a deep and
hollow tone,--"There is a hell, my lord,--I go to drink to our meeting!"
Thus saying, he took off his hat with a ceremonious mockery, and
disappeared within the adjoining restaurant, kept by Vefour.
"A hell!" said Lilburne, with his frigid smile; "the rogue's head runs
"And I have suffered Philip again to escape me," said Arthur, in
self-reproach: for while Gawtrey had addressed Lord Lilburne, Morton had
plunged back amidst the labyrinth of alleys. "How have I kept my oath?"
"Come! your guests must have arrived by this time. As for that wretched
young man, depend upon it that he is corrupted body and soul."
"But he is my own cousin."
"Pooh! there is no relationship in natural children: besides, he will
find you out fast enough. Ragged claimants are not long too proud to
"You speak in earnest?" said Arthur, irresolutely. "Ay! trust my
experience of the world--Allons!"
And in a _cabinet_ of the very _restaurant_, adjoining that in which the
solitary Gawtrey gorged his conscience, Lilburne, Arthur, and their gay
friends, soon forgetful of all but the roses of the moment, bathed their
airy spirits in the dews of the mirthful wine. Oh, extremes of life!
Oh, Night! Oh, Morning!
"Meantime a moving scene was open laid,
That lazar house."--THOMSON'S _Castle of Indolence_.
It was near midnight. At the mouth of the lane in which Gawtrey resided
there stood four men. Not far distant, in the broad street at angles
with the lane, were heard the wheels of carriages and the sound of music.
A lady, fair in form, tender of heart, stainless in repute, was receiving
"Monsieur Favart," said one of the men to the smallest of the four; "you
understand the conditions--20,000 francs and a free pardon?"
"Nothing more reasonable--it is understood. Still I confess that I
should like to have my men close at hand. I am not given to fear; but
this is a dangerous experiment."
"You knew the danger beforehand and subscribed to it: you must enter
alone with me, or not at all. Mark you, the men are sworn to murder him
who betrays them. Not for twenty times 20,000 francs would I have them
know me as the informer. My life were not worth a day's purchase. Now,
if you feel secure in your disguise, all is safe. You will have seen
them at their work--you will recognise their persons--you can depose
against them at the trial--I shall have time to quit France."
"Well, well! as you please."
"Mind, you must wait in the vault with them till they separate. We have
so planted your men that whatever street each of the gang takes in going
home, he can be seized quietly and at once. The bravest and craftiest of
all, who, though he has but just joined, is already their captain;--him,
the man I told you of, who lives in the house, you must take after his
return, in his bed. It is the sixth story to the right, remember: here
is the key to his door. He is a giant in strength; and will never be
taken alive if up and armed."
"Ah, I comprehend!--Gilbert" (and Favart turned to one of his companions
who had not yet spoken) "take three men besides yourself, according to
the directions I gave you,--the porter will admit you, that's arranged.
Make no noise. If I don't return by four o'clock, don't wait for me, but
proceed at once. Look well to your primings. Take him alive, if
possible--at the worst, dead. And now--anon ami--lead on!"
The traitor nodded, and walked slowly down the street. Favart, pausing,
whispered hastily to the man whom he had called Gilbert,--
"Follow me close--get to the door of the cellar-place eight men within
hearing of my whistle--recollect the picklocks, the axes. If you hear
the whistle, break in; if not, I'm safe, and the first orders to seize
the captain in his room stand good."
So saying, Favart strode after his guide. The door of a large, but ill-
favoured-looking house stood ajar--they entered-passed unmolested through
a court-yard--descended some stairs; the guide unlocked the door of a
cellar, and took a dark lantern from under his cloak. As he drew up the
slide, the dim light gleamed on barrels and wine-casks, which appeared to
fill up the space. Rolling aside one of these, the guide lifted a trap-
door, and lowered his lantern. "Enter," said he; and the two men
. . . . . . . .
The coiners were at their work. A man, seated on a stool before a desk,
was entering accounts in a large book. That man was William Gawtrey.
While, with the rapid precision of honest mechanics, the machinery of the
Dark Trade went on in its several departments. Apart--alone--at the foot
of a long table, sat Philip Morton. The truth had exceeded his darkest
suspicions. He had consented to take the oath not to divulge what was to
be given to his survey; and when, led into that vault, the bandage was
taken from his eyes, it was some minutes before he could fully comprehend
the desperate and criminal occupations of the wild forms amidst which
towered the burly stature of his benefactor. As the truth slowly grew
upon him, he shrank from the side of Gawtrey; but, deep compassion for
his friend's degradation swallowing up the horror of the trade, he flung
himself on one of the rude seats, and felt that the bond between them was
indeed broken, and that the next morning he should be again alone in the
world. Still, as the obscene jests, the fearful oaths, that from time to
time rang through the vault, came on his ear, he cast his haughty eye in
such disdain over the groups, that Gawtrey, observing him, trembled for
his safety; and nothing but Philip's sense of his own impotence, and the
brave, not timorous, desire not to perish by such hands, kept silent the
fiery denunciations of a nature still proud and honest, that quivered on
his lips. All present were armed with pistols and cutlasses except
Morton, who suffered the weapons presented to him to lie unheeded on the
"_Courage, mes amis_!" said Gawtrey, closing his book,--"_Courage_!"--a
few months more, and we shall have made enough to retire upon, and enjoy
ourselves for the rest of the days. Where is Birnie?"
"Did he not tell you?" said one of the artisans, looking up. "He has
found out the cleverest hand in France, the very fellow who helped
Bouchard in all his five-franc pieces. He has promised to bring him
"Ay, I remember," returned Gawtrey, "he told me this morning,--he is a
"I think so, indeed!" quoth a coiner; "for he caught you, the best head
to our hands that ever _les industriels_ were blessed with--_sacre
"Flatterer!" said Gawtrey, coming from the desk to the table, and
pouring out wine from one of the bottles into a huge flagon--"To your
Here the door slided back, and Birnie glided in.
"Where is your booty, _mon brave_?" said Gawtrey. "We only coin
money; you coin men, stamp with your own seal, and send them current to
The coiners, who liked Birnie's ability (for the ci-devant engraver was
of admirable skill in their craft), but who hated his joyless manners,
laughed at this taunt, which Birnie did not seem to heed, except by a
malignant gleam of his dead eye.
"If you mean the celebrated coiner, Jacques Giraumont, he waits without.
You know our rules. I cannot admit him without leave."
"_Bon_! we give it,--eh, messieurs?" said Gawtrey. "Ay-ay," cried
several voices. "He knows the oath, and will hear the penalty."
"Yes, he knows the oath," replied Birnie, and glided back.
In a moment more he returned with a small man in a mechanic's blouse.
The new comer wore the republican beard and moustache--of a sandy grey--
his hair was the same colour; and a black patch over one eye increased
the ill-favoured appearance of his features.
"_Diable_! Monsieur Giraumont! but you are more like Vulcan than
Adonis!" said Gawtrey.
"I don't know anything about Vulcan, but I know how to make five-franc
pieces," said Monsieur Giraumont, doggedly.
"Are you poor?"
"As a church mouse! The only thing belonging to a church, since the
Bourbons came back, that is poor!"
At this sally, the coiners, who had gathered round the table, uttered the
shout with which, in all circumstances, Frenchmen receive a _bon mot_.
"Humph!" said Gawtrey. "Who responds with his own life for your
"I," said Birnie.
"Administer the oath to him."
Suddenly four men advanced, seized the visitor, and bore him from the
vault into another one within. After a few moments they returned.
"He has taken the oath and heard the penalty."
"Death to yourself, your wife, your son, and your grandson, if you betray
"I have neither son nor grandson; as for my wife, Monsieur le Capitaine,
you offer a bribe instead of a threat when you talk of her death."
"Sacre! but you will be an addition to our circle, _mon brave_!" said
Gawtrey, laughing; while again the grim circle shouted applause.
"But I suppose you care for your own life."
"Otherwise I should have preferred starving to coming here," answered the
"I have done with you. Your health!"
On this the coiners gathered round Monsieur Giraumont, shook him by the
hand, and commenced many questions with a view to ascertain his skill.
"Show me your coinage first; I see you use both the die and the furnace.
Hem! this piece is not bad--you have struck it from an iron die?--right
--it makes the impression sharper than plaster of Paris. But you take
the poorest and the most dangerous part of the trade in taking the home
market. I can put you in a way to make ten times as much--and with
safety. Look at this!"--and Monsieur Giraumont took a forged Spanish
dollar from his pocket, so skilfully manufactured that the connoisseurs
were lost in admiration--"you may pass thousands of these all over
Europe, except France, and who is ever to detect you? But it will
require better machinery than you have here."
Thus conversing, Monsieur Giraumont did not perceive that Mr. Gawtrey had
been examining him very curiously and minutely. But Birnie had noted
their chief's attention, and once attempted to join his new ally, when
Gawtrey laid his hand on his shoulder, and stopped him.
"Do not speak to your friend till I bid you, or--" lie stopped short, and
touched his pistols.
Birnie grew a shade more pale, but replied with his usual sneer:
"Suspicious!--well, so much the better!" and seating himself carelessly
at the table, lighted his pipe.
"And now, Monsieur Giraumont," said Gawtrey, as he took the head of the
table, "come to my right hand. A half-holiday in your honour. Clear
these infernal instruments; and more wine, mes amis!"
The party arranged themselves at the table. Among the desperate there is
almost invariably a tendency to mirth. A solitary ruffian, indeed, is
moody, but a gang of ruffians are jovial. The coiners talked and laughed
loud. Mr. Birnie, from his dogged silence, seemed apart from the rest,
though in the centre. For in a noisy circle a silent tongue builds a
wall round its owner. But that respectable personage kept his furtive
watch upon Giraumont and Gawtrey, who appeared talking together, very
amicably. The younger novice of that night, equally silent, seated
towards the bottom of the table, was not less watchful than Birnie. An
uneasy, undefinable foreboding had come over him since the entrance of
Monsieur Giraumont; this had been increased by the manner of Mr. Gawtrey.
His faculty of observation, which was very acute, had detected something
false in the chief's blandness to their guest--something dangerous in the
glittering eye that Gawtrey ever, as he spoke to Giraumont, bent on that
person's lips as he listened to his reply. For, whenever William Gawtrey
suspected a man, he watched not his eyes, but his lips.
Waked from his scornful reverie, a strange spell chained Morton's
attention to the chief and the guest, and he bent forward, with parted
mouth and straining ear, to catch their conversation.
"It seems to me a little strange," said Mr. Gawtrey, raising his voice so
as to be heard by the party, "that a coiner so dexterous as Monsieur
Giraumont should not be known to any of us except our friend Birnie."
"Not at all," replied Giraumont; "I worked only with Bouchard and two
others since sent to the galleys. We were but a small fraternity--
everything has its commencement."
"_C'est juste: buvez, donc, cher ami_!"
The wine circulated. Gawtrey began again:
"You have had a bad accident, seemingly, Monsieur Giraumont. How did you
lose your eye?"
"In a scuffle with the _gens d' armes_ the night Bouchard was taken and I
escaped. Such misfortunes are on the cards."
"C'est juste: buvez, donc, Monsieur Giraumont!"
Again there was a pause, and again Gawtrey's deep voice was heard.
"You wear a wig, I think, Monsieur Giraumont? To judge by your eyelashes
your own hair has been a handsomer colour."
"We seek disguise, not beauty, my host; and the police have sharp eyes."
"_C'est juste: buvez, donc-vieux Renard_! When did we two meet last?"
"Never, that I know of."
"_Ce n'est pas vrai! buvez, donc, MONSIEUR FAVART_!"
At the sound of that name the company started in dismay and confusion,
and the police officer, forgetting himself for the moment, sprang from
his seat, and put his right hand into his blouse.
"Ho, there!--treason!" cried Gawtrey, in a voice of thunder; and he
caught the unhappy man by the throat. It was the work of a moment.
Morton, where he sat, beheld a struggle--he heard a death-cry. He saw
the huge form of the master-coiner rising above all the rest, as
cutlasses gleamed and eyes sparkled round. He saw the quivering and
powerless frame of the unhappy guest raised aloft in those mighty arms,
and presently it was hurled along the table-bottles crashing--the board
shaking beneath its weight--and lay before the very eyes of Morton, a
distorted and lifeless mass. At the same instant Gawtrey sprang upon the
table, his black frown singling out from the group the ashen, cadaverous
face of the shrinking traitor. Birnie had darted from the table--he was
half-way towards the sliding door--his face, turned over his shoulder,
met the eyes of the chief.
"Devil!" shouted Gawtrey, in his terrible voice, which the echoes of the
vault gave back from side to side. "Did I not give thee up my soul that
thou mightest not compass my death? Hark ye! thus die my slavery and all
our secrets!" The explosion of his pistol half swallowed up the last
word, and with a single groan the traitor fell on the floor, pierced
through the brain--then there was a dead and grim hush as the smoke
rolled slowly along the roof of the dreary vault.
Morton sank back on his seat, and covered his face with his hands. The
last seal on the fate of THE MAN OF CRIME was set; the last wave in the
terrible and mysterious tide of his destiny had dashed on his soul to the
shore whence there is no return. Vain, now and henceforth, the humour,
the sentiment, the kindly impulse, the social instincts which had
invested that stalwart shape with dangerous fascination, which had
implied the hope of ultimate repentance, of redemption even in this
world. The HOUR and the CIRCUMSTANCE had seized their prey; and the
self-defence, which a lawless career rendered a necessity, left the
eternal die of blood upon his doom!
"Friends, I have saved you," said Gawtrey, slowly gazing on the corpse of
his second victim, while he turned the pistol to his belt. "I have not
quailed before this man's eye" (and he spurned the clay of the officer as
he spoke with a revengeful scorn) "without treasuring up its aspect in my
heart of hearts. I knew him when he entered--knew him through his
disguise--yet, faith, it was a clever one! Turn up his face and gaze on
him now; he will never terrify us again, unless there be truth in ghosts!"
Murmuring and tremulous the coiners scrambled on the table and examined
the dead man. From this task Gawtrey interrupted them, for his quick eye
detected, with the pistols under the policeman's blouse, a whistle of
metal of curious construction, and he conjectured at once that danger was
"I have saved you, I say, but only for the hour. This deed cannot sleep.
See, he had help within call! The police knew where to look for their
comrade--we are dispersed. Each for himself. Quick, divide the spoils!
_Sauve qui peat_!"
Then Morton heard where he sat, his hands still clasped before his face,
a confused hubbub of voices, the jingle of money, the scrambling of feet,
the creaking of doors. All was silent!
A strong grasp drew his hands from his eyes.
"Your first scene of life against life," said Gawtrey's voice, which
seemed fearfully changed to the ear that beard it. "Bah! what would you
think of a battle? Come to our eyrie: the carcasses are gone."
Morton looked fearfully round the vault. He and Gawtrey were alone. His
eyes sought the places where the dead had lain--they were removed--no
vestige of the deeds, not even a drop of blood.
"Come, take up your cutlass, come!" repeated the voice of the chief, as
with his dim lantern--now the sole light of the vault--he stood in the
shadow of the doorway.
Morton rose, took up the weapon mechanically, and followed that terrible
guide, mute and unconscious, as a Soul follows a Dream through the House
"Sleep no more!"--_Macbeth_
After winding through gloomy and labyrinthine passages, which conducted
to a different range of cellars from those entered by the unfortunate
Favart, Gawtrey emerged at the foot of a flight of stairs, which, dark,
narrow, and in many places broken, had been probably appropriated to
servants of the house in its days of palmier glory. By these steps the
pair regained their attic. Gawtrey placed the lantern on the table and
seated himself in silence. Morton, who had recovered his self-possession
and formed his resolution, gazed on him for some moments, equally
taciturn. At length he spoke:
"I bade you not call me by that name," said the coiner; for we need
scarcely say that in his new trade he had assumed a new appellation.
"It is the least guilty one by which I have known you," returned Morton,
firmly. "It is for the last time I call you by it! I demanded to see by
what means one to whom I had entrusted my fate supported himself. I have
seen," continued the young man, still firmly, but with a livid cheek and
lip, "and the tie between us is rent for ever. Interrupt me not! it is
not for me to blame you. I have eaten of your bread and drunk of your
cup. Confiding in you too blindly, and believing that you were at least
free from those dark and terrible crimes for which there is no expiation
--at least in this life--my conscience seared by distress, my very soul
made dormant by despair, I surrendered myself to one leading a career
equivocal, suspicious, dishonourable perhaps, but still not, as I
believed, of atrocity and bloodshed. I wake at the brink of the abyss--
my mother's hand beckons to me from the grave; I think I hear her voice
while I address you--I recede while it is yet time--we part, and for
Gawtrey, whose stormy passion was still deep upon his soul, had listened
hitherto in sullen and dogged silence, with a gloomy frown on his knitted
brow; he now rose with an oath--
"Part! that I may let loose on the world a new traitor! Part! when you
have seen me fresh from an act that, once whispered, gives me to the
guillotine! Part--never! at least alive!"
"I have said it," said Morton, folding his arms calmly; I say it to your
face, though I might part from you in secret. Frown not on me, man of
blood! I am fearless as yourself! In another minute I am gone."
"Ah! is it so?" said Gawtrey; and glancing round the room, which
contained two doors, the one concealed by the draperies of a bed,
communicating with the stairs by which they had entered, the other with
the landing of the principal and common flight: he turned to the former,
within his reach, which he locked, and put the key into his pocket, and
then, throwing across the latter a heavy swing bar, which fell into its
socket with a harsh noise,--before the threshold he placed his vast bulk,
and burst into his loud, fierce laugh: "Ho! ho! Slave and fool, once
mine, you were mine body and soul for ever!"
"Tempter, I defy you! stand back!" And, firm and dauntless, Morton laid
his hand on the giant's vest.
Gawtrey seemed more astonished than enraged. He looked hard at his
daring associate, on whose lip the down was yet scarcely dark.
"Boy," said he, "off! do not rouse the devil in me again! I could crush
you with a hug."
"My soul supports my body, and I am armed," said Morton, laying hand on
his cutlass. "But you dare not harm me, nor I you; bloodstained as you
are, you gave me shelter and bread; but accuse me not that I will save my
soul while it is yet time!--Shall my mother have blessed me in vain upon
Gawtrey drew back, and Morton, by a sudden impulse, grasped his hand.
"Oh! hear me-hear me!" he cried, with great emotion. "Abandon this
horrible career; you have been decoyed and betrayed to it by one who can
deceive or terrify you no more! Abandon it, and I will never desert you.
For her sake--for your Fanny's sake--pause, like me, before the gulf
swallow us. Let us fly!--far to the New World--to any land where our
thews and sinews, our stout hands and hearts, can find an honest mart.
Men, desperate as we are, have yet risen by honest means. Take her, your
orphan, with us. We will work for her, both of us. Gawtrey! hear me.
It is not my voice that speaks to you--it is your good angel's!"
Gawtrey fell back against the wall, and his chest heaved.
"Morton," he said, with choked and tremulous accent, "go now; leave me to
my fate! I have sinned against you--shamefully sinned. It seemed to me
so sweet to have a friend; in your youth and character of mind there was
so much about which the tough strings of my heart wound themselves, that
I could not bear to lose you--to suffer you to know me for what I was.
I blinded--I deceived you as to my past deeds; that was base in me: but I
swore to my own heart to keep you unexposed to every danger, and free
from every vice that darkened my own path. I kept that oath till this
night, when, seeing that you began to recoil from me, and dreading that
you should desert me, I thought to bind you to me for ever by implicating
you in this fellowship of crime. I am punished, and justly. Go, I
repeat--leave me to the fate that strides nearer and nearer to me day by
day. You are a boy still--I am no longer young. Habit is a second
nature. Still--still I could repent--I could begin life again. But
repose!--to look back--to remember--to be haunted night and day with
deeds that shall meet me bodily and face to face on the last day--"
"Add not to the spectres! Come--fly this night--this hour!"
Gawtrey paused, irresolute and wavering, when at that moment he heard
steps on the stairs below. He started--as starts the boar caught in his
lair--and listened, pale and breathless.
"Hush!--they are on us!--they come!" as he whispered, the key from
without turned in the wards--the door shook. "Soft! the bar preserves us
both--this way." And the coiner crept to the door of the private stairs.
He unlocked and opened it cautiously. A man sprang through the aperture:
"Yield!--you are my prisoner!"
"Never!" cried Gawtrey, hurling back the intruder, and clapping to the
door, though other and stout men were pressing against it with all their
"Ho! ho! Who shall open the tiger's cage?"
At both doors now were heard the sound of voices. "Open in the king's
name, or expect no mercy!"
"Hist!" said Gawtrey. "One way yet--the window--the rope."
Morton opened the casement--Gawtrey uncoiled the rope. The dawn was
breaking; it was light in the streets, but all seemed quiet without. The
doors reeled and shook beneath the pressure of the pursuers. Gawtrey
flung the rope across the street to the opposite parapet; after two or
three efforts, the grappling-hook caught firm hold--the perilous path was
"On!--quick!--loiter not!" whispered Gawtrey; "you are active--it seems
more dangerous than it is--cling with both hands-shut your eyes. When on
the other side--you see the window of Birnie's room,--enter it--descend
the stairs--let yourself out, and you are safe."
"Go first," said Morton, in the same tone: "I will not leave you now: you
will be longer getting across than I shall. I will keep guard till you
"Hark! hark!--are you mad? You keep guard! what is your strength to
mine? Twenty men shall not move that door, while my weight is against
it. Quick, or you destroy us both! Besides, you will hold the rope for
me, it may not be strong enough for my bulk in itself. Stay!--stay one
moment. If you escape, and I fall--Fanny--my father, he will take care
of her,--you remember--thanks! Forgive me all! Go; that's right!"
With a firm impulse, Morton threw himself on the dreadful bridge; it
swung and crackled at his weight. Shifting his grasp rapidly--holding
his breath--with set teeth-with closed eyes--he moved on--he gained the
parapet--he stood safe on the opposite side. And now, straining his eyes
across, he saw through the open casement into the chamber he had just
quitted. Gawtrey was still standing against the door to the principal
staircase, for that of the two was the weaker and the more assailed.
Presently the explosion of a fire-arm was heard; they had shot through
the panel. Gawtrey seemed wounded, for he staggered forward, and uttered
a fierce cry; a moment more, and he gained the window--he seized the
rope--he hung over the tremendous depth! Morton knelt by the parapet,
holding the grappling-hook in its place, with convulsive grasp, and
fixing his eyes, bloodshot with fear and suspense, on the huge bulk that
clung for life to that slender cord!
"Le voiles! Le voiles!" cried a voice from the opposite side. Morton
raised his gaze from Gawtrey; the casement was darkened by the forms of
his pursuers--they had burst into the room--an officer sprang upon the
parapet, and Gawtrey, now aware of his danger, opened his eyes, and as he
moved on, glared upon the foe. The policeman deliberately raised his
pistol--Gawtrey arrested himself--from a wound in his side the blood
trickled slowly and darkly down, drop by drop, upon the stones below;
even the officers of law shuddered as they eyed him--his hair bristling
--his cheek white--his lips drawn convulsively from his teeth, and his
eyes glaring from beneath the frown of agony and menace in which yet
spoke the indomitable power and fierceness of the man. His look, so
fixed--so intense--so stern, awed the policeman; his hand trembled as he
fired, and the ball struck the parapet an inch below the spot where
Morton knelt. An indistinct, wild, gurgling sound-half-laugh, half-yell
of scorn and glee, broke from Gawtrey's lips. He swung himself on--near
--near--nearer--a yard from the parapet.
"You are saved!" cried Morton; when at the moment a volley burst from
the fatal casement--the smoke rolled over both the fugitives--a groan, or
rather howl, of rage, and despair, and agony, appalled even the hardest
on whose ear it came. Morton sprang to his feet and looked below. He
saw on the rugged stones far down, a dark, formless, motionless mass--the
strong man of passion and levity--the giant who had played with life and
soul, as an infant with the baubles that it prizes and breaks--was what
the Caesar and the leper alike are, when the clay is without God's
breath--what glory, genius, power, and beauty, would be for ever and for
ever, if there were no God!
"There is another!" cried the voice of one of the pursuers. "Fire!"
"Poor Gawtrey!" muttered Philip. "I will fulfil your last wish;" and
scarcely conscious of the bullet that whistled by him, he disappeared
behind the parapet.
By the soft wind of whispering silks."--DECKER.
The reader may remember that while Monsieur Favart and Mr. Birnie were
holding commune in the lane, the sounds of festivity were heard from a
house in the adjoining street. To that house we are now summoned.
At Paris, the gaieties of balls, or soirees, are, I believe, very rare in
that period of the year in which they are most frequent in London. The
entertainment now given was in honour of a christening; the lady who gave
it, a relation of the new-born.
Madame de Merville was a young widow; even before her marriage she had
been distinguished in literature; she had written poems of more than
common excellence; and being handsome, of good family, and large fortune,
her talents made her an object of more interest than they might otherwise
have done. Her poetry showed great sensibility and tenderness. If
poetry be any index to the heart, you would have thought her one to love
truly and deeply. Nevertheless, since she married--as girls in France
do--not to please herself, but her parents, she made a _mariage de
convenance_. Monsieur de Merville was a sober, sensible man, past middle
age. Not being fond of poetry, and by no means coveting a professional
author for his wife, he had during their union, which lasted four years,
discouraged his wife's liaison with Apollo. But her mind, active and
ardent, did not the less prey upon itself. At the age of four-and-twenty
she became a widow, with an income large even in England for a single
woman, and at Paris constituting no ordinary fortune. Madame de
Merville, however, though a person of elegant taste, was neither
ostentatious nor selfish; she had no children, and she lived quietly in
apartments, handsome, indeed, but not more than adequate to the small
establishment which--where, as on the Continent, the costly convenience
of an entire house is not usually incurred--sufficed for her retinue.
She devoted at least half her income, which was entirely at her own
disposal, partly to the aid of her own relations, who were not rich, and
partly to the encouragement of the literature she cultivated. Although
she shrank from the ordeal of publication, her poems and sketches of
romance were read to her own friends, and possessed an eloquence seldom
accompanied with so much modesty. Thus, her reputation, though not blown
about the winds, was high in her own circle, and her position in fashion
and in fortune made her looked up to by her relations as the head of her
family; they regarded her as _femme superieure_, and her advice with them
was equivalent to a command. Eugenie de Merville was a strange mixture
of qualities at once feminine and masculine. On the one hand, she had a
strong will, independent views, some contempt for the world, and followed
her own inclinations without servility to the opinion of others; on the
other hand, she was susceptible, romantic, of a sweet, affectionate, kind
disposition. Her visit to M. Love, however indiscreet, was not less in
accordance with her character than her charity to the mechanic's wife;
masculine and careless where an eccentric thing was to be done--curiosity
satisfied, or some object in female diplomacy achieved--womanly,
delicate, and gentle, the instant her benevolence was appealed to or her
heart touched. She had now been three years a widow, and was
consequently at the age of twenty-seven. Despite the tenderness of her
poetry and her character, her reputation was unblemished. She had never
been in love. People who are much occupied do not fall in love easily;
besides, Madame de Merville was refining, exacting, and wished to find
heroes where she only met handsome dandies or ugly authors. Moreover,
Eugenie was both a vain and a proud person--vain of her celebrity and
proud of her birth. She was one whose goodness of heart made her always
active in promoting the happiness of others. She was not only generous
and charitable, but willing to serve people by good offices as well as
money. Everybody loved her. The new-born infant, to whose addition to
the Christian community the fete of this night was dedicated, was the
pledge of a union which Madame de Merville had managed to effect between
two young persons, first cousins to each other, and related to herself.
There had been scruples of parents to remove--money matters to adjust--
Eugenie had smoothed all. The husband and wife, still lovers, looked up
to her as the author, under Heaven, of their happiness.
The gala of that night had been, therefore, of a nature more than usually
pleasurable, and the mirth did not sound hollow, but wrung from the
heart. Yet, as Eugenie from time to time contemplated the young people,
whose eyes ever sought each other--so fair, so tender, and so joyous as
they seemed--a melancholy shadow darkened her brow, and she sighed
involuntarily. Once the young wife, Madame d'Anville, approaching her
"Ah! my sweet cousin, when shall we see you as happy as ourselves? There
is such happiness," she added, innocently, and with a blush, "in being a
mother!--that little life all one's own--it is something to think of
"Perhaps," said Eugenie, smiling, and seeking to turn the conversation
from a subject that touched too nearly upon feelings and thoughts her
pride did not wish to reveal--"perhaps it is you, then, who have made our
cousin, poor Monsieur de Vaudemont, so determined to marry? Pray, be
more cautious with him. How difficult I have found it to prevent his
bringing into our family some one to make us all ridiculous!"
"True," said Madame d'Anville, laughing. "But then, the Vicomte is so
poor, and in debt. He would fall in love, not with the demoiselle, but
the dower. _A propos_ of that, how cleverly you took advantage of his
boastful confession to break off his liaisons with that _bureau de
"Yes; I congratulate myself on that manoeuvre. Unpleasant as it was to
go to such a place (for, of course, I could not send for Monsieur Love
here), it would have been still more unpleasant to have received such a
Madame de Vaudemont as our cousin would have presented to us. Only
think--he was the rival of an _epicier_! I heard that there was some
curious _denouement_ to the farce of that establishment; but I could
never get from Vaudemont the particulars. He was ashamed of them, I
"What droll professions there are in Paris!" said Madame d'Anville. "As
if people could not marry without going to an office for a spouse as we
go for a servant! And so the establishment is broken up? And you never
again saw that dark, wild-looking boy who so struck your fancy that you
have taken him as the original for the Murillo sketch of the youth in
that charming tale you read to us the other evening? Ah! cousin, I think
you were a little taken with him. The _bureau de mariage_ had its
allurements for you as well as for our poor cousin!" The young mother
said this laughingly and carelessly.
"Pooh!" returned Madame de Merville, laughing also; but a slight blush
broke over her natural paleness. "But a propos of the Vicomte. You know
how cruelly he has behaved to that poor boy of his by his English wife--
never seen him since he was an infant--kept him at some school in
England; and all because his vanity does not like the world to know that
he has a son of nineteen! Well, I have induced him to recall this poor
"Indeed! and how?"
"Why," said Eugenie, with a smile, "he wanted a loan, poor man, and I
could therefore impose conditions by way of interest. But I also managed
to conciliate him to the proposition, by representing that, if the young
man were good-looking, he might, himself, with our connections, &c., form
an advantageous marriage; and that in such a case, if the father treated
him now justly and kindly, he would naturally partake with the father
whatever benefits the marriage might confer."
"Ah! you are an excellent diplomatist, Eugenie; and you turn people's
heads by always acting from your heart. Hush! here comes the Vicomte"
"A delightful ball," said Monsieur de Vaudemont, approaching the hostess.
"Pray, has that young lady yonder, in the pink dress, any fortune? She
is pretty--eh? You observe she is looking at me--I mean at us!"
"My dear cousin, what a compliment you pay to marriage! You have had two
wives, and you are ever on the _qui vive_ for a third!"
"What would you have me do?--we cannot resist the overtures of your
bewitching sex. Hum--what fortune has she?"
"Not a _sou_; besides, she is engaged."
"Oh! now I look at her, she is not pretty--not at all. I made a mistake.
I did not mean her; I meant the young lady in blue."
"Worse and worse--she is married already. Shall I present you?"
"Ah, Monsieur de Vaudemont," said Madame d'Anville; "have you found out a
new bureau de mariage?"
The Vicomte pretended not to hear that question. But, turning to
Eugenie, took her aside, and said, with an air in which he endeavoured to
throw a great deal of sorrow, "You know, my dear cousin, that, to oblige
you, I consented to send for my son, though, as I always said, it is very
unpleasant for a man like me, in the prime of life, to hawk about a great
boy of nineteen or twenty. People soon say, 'Old Vaudemont and younq
Vaudemont.' However, a father's feelings are never appealed to in vain."
(Here the Vicomte put his handkerchief to his eyes, and after a pause,
continued,)--"I sent for him--I even went to your old _bonne_, Madame
Dufour, to make a bargain for her lodgings, and this day--guess my grief
--I received a letter sealed with black. My son is dead!--a sudden
fever--it is shocking!"
"Horrible! dead!--your own son, whom you hardly ever saw--never since he
was an Infant!"
"Yes, that softens the blow very much. And now you see I must marry. If
the boy had been good-looking, and like me, and so forth, why, as you
observed, he might have made a good match, and allowed me a certain sum,
or we could have all lived together."
"And your son is dead, and you come to a ball!"
"_Je suis philosophe_," said the Vicomte, shrugging his shoulders. "And,
as you say, I never saw him. It saves me seven hundred francs a-year.
Don't say a word to any one--I sha'n't give out that he is dead, poor
fellow! Pray be discreet: you see there are some ill-natured people who
might think it odd I do not shut myself up. I can wait till Paris is
quite empty. It would be a pity to lose any opportunity at present, for
now, you see, I must marry!" And the philosophe sauntered away.
"Those devotions I am to pay
Are written in my heart, not in this book."
"I am pursued--all the ports are stopped too,
Not any hope to escape--behind, before me,
On either side, I am beset."
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER, _The Custom of the Country_
The party were just gone--it was already the peep of day--the wheels of
the last carriage had died in the distance.
Madame de Merville had dismissed her woman, and was seated in her own
room, leaning her head musingly on her hand.
Beside her was the table that held her MSS. and a few books, amidst which
were scattered vases of flowers. On a pedestal beneath the window was
placed a marble bust of Dante. Through the open door were seen in
perspective two rooms just deserted by her guests; the lights still
burned in the chandeliers and girandoles, contending with the daylight
that came through the half-closed curtains. The person of the inmate was
in harmony with the apartment. It was characterised by a certain grace
which, for want of a better epithet, writers are prone to call classical
or antique. Her complexion, seeming paler than usual by that light, was
yet soft and delicate--the features well cut, but small and womanly.
About the face there was that rarest of all charms, the combination of
intellect with sweetness; the eyes, of a dark blue, were thoughtful,
perhaps melancholy, in their expression; but the long dark lashes, and
the shape of the eyes, themselves more long than full, gave to their
intelligence a softness approaching to languor, increased, perhaps, by
that slight shadow round and below the orbs which is common with those
who have tasked too much either the mind or the heart. The contour of
the face, without being sharp or angular, had yet lost a little of the
roundness of earlier youth; and the hand on which she leaned was,
perhaps, even too white, too delicate, for the beauty which belongs to
health; but the throat and bust were of exquisite symmetry.
"I am not happy," murmured Eugenie to herself; "yet I scarce know why.
Is it really, as we women of romance have said till the saying is worn
threadbare, that the destiny of women is not fame but love. Strange,
then, that while I have so often pictured what love should be, I have
never felt it. And now,--and now," she continued, half rising, and with
a natural pang--"now I am no longer in my first youth. If I loved,
should I be loved again? How happy the young pair seemed--they are never
At this moment, at a distance, was heard the report of fire-arms--again!
Eugenie started, and called to her servant, who, with one of the waiters
hired for the night, was engaged in removing, and nibbling as he removed,
the re mains of the feast. "What is that, at this hour?--open the window
and look out!"
"I can see nothing, madame."
"Again--that is the third time. Go into the street and look--some one
must be in danger."
The servant and the waiter, both curious, and not willing to part
company, ran down the stairs, and thence into the street.
Meanwhile, Morton, after vainly attempting Birnie's window, which the
traitor had previously locked and barred against the escape of his
intended victim, crept rapidly along the roof, screened by the parapet
not only from the shot but the sight of the foe. But just as he gained
the point at which the lane made an angle with the broad street it
adjoined, he cast his eyes over the parapet, and perceived that one of
the officers had ventured himself to the fearful bridge; he was pursued--
detection and capture seemed inevitable. He paused, and breathed hard.
He, once the heir to such fortunes, the darling of such affections!--he,
the hunted accomplice of a gang of miscreants! That was the thought that
paralysed--the disgrace, not the danger. But he was in advance of the
pursuer--he hastened on--he turned the angle--he heard a shout behind
from the opposite side--the officer had passed the bridge: "it is but one
man as yet," thought he, and his nostrils dilated and his hands clenched
as he glided on, glancing at each casement as he passed.
Now as youth and vigour thus struggled against Law for life, near at hand
Death was busy with toil and disease. In a miserable _grabat_, or
garret, a mechanic, yet young, and stricken by a lingering malady
contracted by the labour of his occupation, was slowly passing from that
world which had frowned on his cradle, and relaxed not the gloom of its
aspect to comfort his bed of Death. Now this man had married for love,
and his wife had loved him; and it was the cares of that early marriage
which had consumed him to the bone. But extreme want, if long continued,
eats up love when it has nothing else to eat. And when people are very
long dying, the people they fret and trouble begin to think of that too
often hypocritical prettiness of phrase called "a happy release." So the
worn-out and half-famished wife did not care three straws for the dying
husband, whom a year or two ago she had vowed to love and cherish in
sickness and in health. But still she seemed to care, for she moaned,
and pined, and wept, as the man's breath grew fainter and fainter.
"Ah, Jean!" said she, sobbing, "what will become of me, a poor lone
widow, with nobody to work for my bread?" And with that thought she took
on worse than before.
"I am stifling," said the dying man, rolling round his ghastly eyes.
"How hot it is! Open the window; I should like to see the light-daylight
"Mon Dieu! what whims he has, poor man!" muttered the woman, without
The poor wretch put out his skeleton hand and clutched his wife's arm.
"I sha'n't trouble you long, Marie! Air--air!"
"Jean, you will make yourself worse--besides, I shall catch my death of
cold. I have scarce a rag on, but I will just open the door."
"Pardon me," groaned the sufferer; "leave me, then." Poor fellow!
perhaps at that moment the thought of unkindness was sharper than the
sharp cough which brought blood at every paroxysm. He did not like her
so near him, but he did not blame her. Again, I say,--poor fellow! The
woman opened the door, went to the other side of the room, and sat down
on an old box and began darning an old neck-handkerchief. The silence
was soon broken by the moans of the fast-dying man, and again he
muttered, as he tossed to and fro, with baked white lips:
There was no resisting that prayer, it seemed so like the last. The wife
laid down the needle, put the handkerchief round her throat, and opened
"Do you feel easier now?"
"Bless you, Marie--yes; that's good--good. It puts me in mind of old
days, that breath of air, before we came to Paris. I wish I could work
for you now, Marie."
"Jean! my poor Jean!" said the woman, and the words and the voice took
back her hardening heart to the fresh fields and tender thoughts of the
past time. And she walked up to the bed, and he leaned his temples, damp
with livid dews, upon her breast.
"I have been a sad burden to you, Marie; we should not have married so
soon; but I thought I was stronger. Don't cry; we have no little ones,
thank God. It will be much better for you when I am gone."
And so, word after word gasped out--he stopped suddenly, and seemed to
The wife then attempted gently to lay him once more on his pillow--the
head fell back heavily--the jaw had dropped--the teeth were set--the eyes
were open and like the stone--the truth broke on her!
"Jean--Jean! My God, he is dead! and I was unkind to him at the last!"
With these words she fell upon the corpse, happily herself insensible.
Just at that moment a human face peered in at the window. Through that
aperture, after a moment's pause, a young man leaped lightly into the
room. He looked round with a hurried glance, but scarcely noticed the
forms stretched on the pallet. It was enough for him that they seemed to
sleep, and saw him not. He stole across the room, the door of which
Marie had left open, and descended the stairs. He had almost gained the
courtyard into which the stairs had conducted, when he heard voices below
by the porter's lodge.
"The police have discovered a gang of coiners!"
"Yes, one has been shot dead! I have seen his body in the kennel;
another has fled along the roofs--a desperate fellow! We were to watch
for him. Let us go up-stairs and get on the roof and look out."
By the hum of approval that followed this proposition, Morton judged
rightly that it had been addressed to several persons whom curiosity and
the explosion of the pistols had drawn from their beds, and who were
grouped round the porter's lodge. What was to be done?--to advance was
impossible: and was there yet time to retreat?--it was at least the only
course left him; he sprang back up the stairs; he had just gained the
first flight when he heard steps descending; then, suddenly, it flashed
across him that he had left open the window above--that, doubtless, by
that imprudent oversight the officer in pursuit had detected a clue to
the path he had taken. What was to be done?--die as Gawtrey had done!--
death rather than the galleys. As he thus resolved, he saw to the right
the open door of an apartment in which lights still glimmered in their
sockets. It seemed deserted--he entered boldly and at once, closing the
door after him. Wines and viands still left on the table; gilded
mirrors, reflecting the stern face of the solitary intruder; here and
there an artificial flower, a knot of riband on the floor, all betokening
the gaieties and graces of luxurious life--the dance, the revel, the
feast--all this in one apartment!--above, in the same house, the pallet--
the corpse--the widow--famine and woe! Such is a great city! such, above
all, is Paris! where, under the same roof, are gathered such antagonist
varieties of the social state! Nothing strange in this; it is strange
and sad that so little do people thus neighbours know of each other, that
the owner of those rooms had a heart soft to every distress, but she did
not know the distress so close at hand. The music that had charmed her
guests had mounted gaily to the vexed ears of agony and hunger. Morton
passed the first room--a second--he came to a third, and Eugenie de
Merville, looking up at that instant, saw before her an apparition that
might well have alarmed the boldest. His head was uncovered--his dark
hair shadowed in wild and disorderly profusion the pale face and
features, beautiful indeed, but at that moment of the beauty which an
artist would impart to a young gladiator--stamped with defiance, menace,
and despair. The disordered garb--the fierce aspect--the dark eyes, that
literally shone through the shadows of the room-all conspired to increase
the terror of so abrupt a presence.
"What are you?--What do you seek here?" said she, falteringly, placing
her hand on the bell as she spoke. Upon that soft hand Morton laid his
"I seek my life! I am pursued! I am at your mercy! I am innocent! Can
you save me?"
As he spoke, the door of the outer room beyond was heard to open, and
steps and voices were at hand.
"Ah!" he exclaimed, recoiling as he recognised her face. "And is it to
you that I have fled?"
Eugenie also recognised the stranger; and there was something in their
relative positions--the suppliant, the protectress--that excited both her
imagination and her pity. A slight colour mantled to her cheeks--her
look was gentle and compassionate.
"Poor boy! so young!" she said. "Hush!"
She withdrew her hand from his, retired a few steps, lifted a curtain
drawn across a recess--and pointing to an alcove that contained one of
those sofa-beds common in French houses, added in a whisper,--
"Enter--you are saved."
Morton obeyed, and Eugenie replaced the curtain.
"Speak! What are you?"
"Gracious woman, hear me. I am a stranger:
And in that I answer all your demands."
_Custom of the Country_.
Eugenie replaced the curtain. And scarcely had she done so ere the steps
in the outer room entered the chamber where she stood. Her servant was
accompanied by two officers of the police.
"Pardon, madame," said one of the latter; "but we are in pursuit of a
criminal. We think he must have entered this house through a window
above while your servant was in the street. Permit us to search?"
"Without doubt," answered Eugenie, seating herself. "If he has entered,
look in the other apartments. I have not quitted this room."
"You are right. Accept our apologies."
And the officers turned back to examine every corner where the fugitive
was not. For in that, the scouts of Justice resembled their mistress:
when does man's justice look to the right place?
The servant lingered to repeat the tale he had heard--the sight he had
seen. When, at that instant, he saw the curtain of the alcove slightly
stirred. He uttered an exclamation-sprung to the bed--his hand touched
the curtain--Eugenie seized his arm. She did not speak; but as he turned
his eyes to her, astonished, he saw that she trembled, and that her cheek
was as white as marble.
"Madame," he said, hesitating, "there is some one hid in the recess."
"There is! Be silent!"
A suspicion flashed across the servant's mind. The pure, the proud, the
"There is!--and in madame's chamber!" he faltered unconsciously.
Eugenie's quick apprehensions seized the foul thought. Her eyes flashed
--her cheek crimsoned. But her lofty and generous nature conquered even
the indignant and scornful burst that rushed to her lips. The truth!--
could she trust the man? A doubt--and the charge of the human life
rendered to her might be betrayed. Her colour fell--tears gushed to her
"I have been kind to you, Francois. Not a word." "Madame confides in
me--it is enough," said the Frenchman, bowing, with a slight smile on his
lips; and he drew back respectfully.
One of the police officers re-entered.
"We have done, madame; he is not here. Aha! that curtain!"
"It is madame's bed," said Francois. "But I have looked behind."
"I am most sorry to have disarranged you," said the policeman, satisfied
with the answer; "but we shall have him yet." And he retired.
The last footsteps died away, the last door of the apartments closed
behind the officers, and Eugenie and her servant stood alone gazing on
"You may retire," said she at last; and taking her purse from the table,
she placed it in his hands.
The man took it, with a significant look. "Madame may depend on my
Eugenie was alone again. Those words rang in her ear,--Eugenie de
Merville dependent on the discretion of her lackey! She sunk into her
chair, and, her excitement succeeded by exhaustion, leaned her face on
her hands, and burst into tears. She was aroused by a low voice; she
looked up, and the young man was kneeling at her feet.
"Go--go!" she said: "I have done for you all I can."
"You heard--you heard--my own hireling, too! At the hazard of my own good
name you are saved. Go!"
"Of your good name!"--for Eugenie forgot that it was looks, not words,
that had so wrung her pride--"Your good name," he repeated: and glancing
round the room--the toilette, the curtain, the recess he had quitted--all
that bespoke that chastest sanctuary of a chaste woman, which for a
stranger to enter is, as it were, to profane--her meaning broke on him.
"Your good name--your hireling! No, madame,--no!" And as he spoke, he
rose to his feet. "Not for me, that sacrifice! Your humanity shall not
cost you so dear. Ho, there! I am the man you seek." And he strode to
Eugenie was penetrated with the answer. She sprung to him--she grasped
"Hush! hush!--for mercy's sake! What would you do? Think you I could
ever be happy again, if the confidence you placed in me were betrayed?
Be calm--be still. I knew not what I said. It will be easy to undeceive
the man--later--when you are saved. And you are innocent,--are you not?"
"Oh, madame," said Morton, "from my soul I say it, I am innocent--not of
poverty--wretchedness--error--shame; I am innocent of crime. May Heaven
And as he reverently kissed the hand laid on his arm, there was something
in his voice so touching, in his manner something so above his fortunes,
that Eugenie was lost in her feelings of compassion, surprise, and
something, it might be, of admiration in her wonder.
"And, oh!" he said, passionately, gazing on her with his dark, brilliant
eyes, liquid with emotion, "you have made my life sweet in saving it.
You--you--of whom, ever since the first time, almost the sole time, I
beheld you--I have so often mused and dreamed. Henceforth, whatever
befall me, there will be some recollections that will--that--"
He stopped short, for his heart was too full for words; and the silence
said more to Eugenie than if all the eloquence of Rousseau had glowed
upon his tongue.
"And who, and what are you?" she asked, after a pause.
"An exile--an orphan--an outcast! I have no name! Farewell!"
"No--stay yet--the danger is not past. Wait till my servant is gone to
rest; I hear him yet. Sit down--sit down. And whither would you go?"
"I know not."
"Have you no friends?"
"And the police of Paris so vigilant!" cried Eugenie, wringing her
hands. "What is to be done? I shall have saved you in vain--you will be
discovered! Of what do they charge you? Not robbery--not--"
And she, too, stopped short, for she did not dare to breathe the black
"I know not," said Morton, putting his hand to his forehead, "except of
being friends with the only man who befriended me--and they have killed
"Another time you shall tell me all."
"Another time!" he exclaimed, eagerly--"shall I see you again?"
Eugenie blushed beneath the gaze and the voice of joy. "Yes," she said;
"yes. But I must reflect. Be calm be silent. Ah!--a happy thought!"
She sat down, wrote a hasty line, sealed, and gave it to Morton.
"Take this note, as addressed, to Madame Dufour; it will provide you with
a safe lodging. She is a person I can depend on--an old servant who
lived with my mother, and to whom I have given a small pension. She has
a lodging--it is lately vacant--I promised to procure her a tenant--go--
say nothing of what has passed. I will see her, and arrange all. Wait!
--hark!--all is still. I will go first, and see that no one watches you.
Stop," (and she threw open the window, and looked into the court.) "The
porter's door is open--that is fortunate! Hurry on, and God be with
In a few minutes Morton was in the streets. It was still early--the
thoroughfares deserted-none of the shops yet open. The address on the
note was to a street at some distance, on the other side of the Seine.
He passed along the same Quai which he had trodden but a few hours since
--he passed the same splendid bridge on which he had stood despairing, to
quit it revived--he gained the Rue Faubourg St. Honore. A young man in a
cabriolet, on whose fair cheek burned the hectic of late vigils and
lavish dissipation, was rolling leisurely home from the gaming-house, at
which he had been more than usually fortunate--his pockets were laden
with notes and gold. He bent forwards as Morton passed him. Philip,
absorbed in his reverie, perceived him not, and continued his way. The
gentleman turned down one of the streets to the left, stopped, and called
to the servant dozing behind his cabriolet.
"Follow that passenger! quietly--see where he lodges; be sure to find out
and let me know. I shall go home with out you." With that he drove on.
Philip, unconscious of the espionage, arrived at a small house in a quiet
but respectable street, and rang the bell several times before at last he
was admitted by Madame Dufour herself, in her nightcap. The old woman
looked askant and alarmed at the unexpected apparition. But the note
seemed at once to satisfy her. She conducted him to an apartment on the
first floor, small, but neatly and even elegantly furnished, consisting
of a sitting-room and a bedchamber, and said, quietly,--
"Will they suit monsieur?"
To monsieur they seemed a palace. Morton nodded assent.
"And will monsieur sleep for a short time?"
"The bed is well aired. The rooms have only been vacant three days
since. Can I get you anything till your luggage arrives?"
The woman left him. He threw off his clothes--flung himself on the bed--
and did not wake till noon.
When his eyes unclosed--when they rested on that calm chamber, with its
air of health, and cleanliness, and comfort, it was long before he could
convince himself that he was yet awake. He missed the loud, deep voice
of Gawtrey--the smoke of the dead man's meerschaum--the gloomy garret--
the distained walls--the stealthy whisper of the loathed Birnie; slowly
the life led and the life gone within the last twelve hours grew upon his
struggling memory. He groaned, and turned uneasily round, when the door
slightly opened, and he sprung up fiercely,--
"Who is there?"
"It is only I, sir," answered Madame Dufour. "I have been in three times
to see if you were stirring. There is a letter I believe for you, sir;
though there is no name to it," and she laid the letter on the chair
beside him. Did it come from her--the saving angel? He seized it. The
cover was blank; it was sealed with a small device, as of a ring seal.
He tore it open, and found four billets de banque for 1,000 francs each,
--a sum equivalent in our money to about L160.
"Who sent this, the--the lady from whom I brought the note?"
"Madame de Merville? certainly not, sir," said Madame Dufour, who, with
the privilege of age, was now unscrupulously filling the water-jugs and
settling the toilette-table. "A young man called about two hours after
you had gone to bed; and, describing you, inquired if you lodged here,
and what your name was. I said you had just arrived, and that I did not
yet know your name. So he went away, and came again half an hour
afterwards with this letter, which he charged me to deliver to you
A young man--a gentleman?"
"No, sir; he seemed a smart but common sort of lad." For the
unsophisticated Madame Dufour did not discover in the plain black frock
and drab gaiters of the bearer of that letter the simple livery of an
English gentleman's groom.
Whom could it come from, if not from Madame de Merville? Perhaps one of
Gawtrey's late friends. A suspicion of Arthur Beaufort crossed him, but
he indignantly dismissed it. Men are seldom credulous of what they are
unwilling to believe. What kindness had the Beauforts hitherto shown
him?--Left his mother to perish broken-hearted--stolen from him his
brother, and steeled, in that brother, the only heart wherein he had a
right to look for gratitude and love! No, it must be Madame de Merville.
He dismissed Madame Dufour for pen and paper--rose--wrote a letter to
Eugenie--grateful, but proud, and inclosed the notes. He then summoned
Madame Dufour, and sent her with his despatch.
"Ah, madame," said the _ci-devant bonne_, when she found herself in
Eugenie's presence. "The poor lad! how handsome he is, and how shameful
in the Vicomte to let him wear such clothes!"
"Oh, my dear mistress, you must not deny it. You told me, in your note,
to ask him no questions, but I guessed at once. The Vicomte told me
himself that he should have the young gentleman over in a few days. You
need not be ashamed of him. You will see what a difference clothes will
make in his appearance; and I have taken it on myself to order a tailor
to go to him. The Vicomte--must pay me."
"Not a word to the Vicomte as yet. We will surprise him," said Eugenie,
Madame de Merville had been all that morning trying to invent some story
to account for her interest in the lodger, and now how Fortune favoured
"But is that a letter for me?"
"And I had almost forgot it," said Madame Dufour, as she extended the