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Run to Earth by M. E. Braddon

Part 5 out of 11

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No sympathizing eyes had watched her looks, or friendly arm was
stretched forth in time to support her. But when she lay lifeless and
unconscious on the sodden grass, some touch of pity stirred the hearts
of the two brothers, Lionel and Douglas Dale.

The elder, Lionel, stepped forward, and lifted that lifeless form from
the ground. He carried the unconscious widow to the carriage, where he
seated her.

Sense returned only too quickly to that tortured brain. Honoria
Eversleigh opened her eyes, and recognized the man who stood by her

"I am better now," she said. "Do not let my weakness cause you any
trouble. I do not often faint; but that last moment was too bitter."

"Are you really quite recovered? Can I venture to leave you?" asked
Lionel Dale, in a much kinder tone than he had employed before in
speaking to his uncle's widow.

"Yes, indeed, I have quite recovered. I thank you for your kindness,"
murmured Honoria, gently.

Lionel Dale went back to the carriage allotted to himself and his
brother. On his way, he encountered Reginald Eversleigh.

"I have heard it whispered that my uncle's wife was an actress," said
Reginald. "That exhibition just now was rather calculated to confirm
the idea."

"If by 'exhibition' you mean that outburst of despair, I am convinced
that it was perfectly genuine," answered Lionel, coldly.

"I am sorry you are so easily duped, my dear Lionel," returned his
cousin, with a sneer. "I did not think a pretty face would have such
influence over you."

No more was said. The two men passed to their respective carriages, and
the funeral procession moved homewards.

In the grand dining-hall of the castle, Sir Oswald's lawyer was to read
the will. Kinsmen, friends, servants, all were assembled to hear the
reading of that solemn document.

In the place of honour sat Lady Eversleigh. She sat on the right hand
of the lawyer, calm and dignified, as if no taint of suspicion had ever
tarnished her fame.

The solicitor read the will. It was that will which Sir Oswald had
executed immediately after his marriage--the will, of which he had
spoken to his nephew, Reginald.

It made Honoria Eversleigh sole mistress of the Raynham estates. It
gave to Lionel and Douglas Dale property worth ten thousand a year. It
gave to Reginald a small estate, producing an income of five hundred a
year. To Captain Copplestone the baronet left a legacy of three
thousand pounds, and an antique seal-ring which had been worn by

The old servants of Raynham were all remembered, and some curious old
plate and gold snuff-boxes were left to Mr. Wargrave, the rector, and
Gilbert Ashburne.

This was all. Five hundred a year was the amount by which Reginald had
profited by the death of a generous kinsman.

By the terms of Sir Oswald's will the estates of Lionel and Douglas
Dale would revert to Reginald Eversleigh in case the owners should die
without direct heirs. If either of these young men were to die
unmarried, his brother would succeed to his estate, worth five thousand
a year. But if both should die, Reginald Eversleigh would become the
owner of double that amount.

It was the merest chance, the shadow of a chance, for the lives of both
young men were better than his own, inasmuch as both had led healthful
and steadier lives than the dissipated Reginald Eversleigh. But even
this poor chance was something.

"They may die," he thought; "death lurks in every bush that borders the
highway of life. They or both may die, and I may regain the wealth that
should have been mine."

He looked at the two young men. Lionel, the elder, was the handsomer of
the two. He was fair, with brown curling hair, and frank blue eyes.
Reginald, as he looked at him, thought bitterly, "I must indeed be the
very fool of hope and credulity to fancy he will not marry. But, if he
were safe, I should not so much fear Douglas." The younger, Douglas,
was a man whom some people would have called plain. But the dark sallow
face, with its irregular features, was illuminated by an expression of
mingled intelligence and amiability, which possessed a charm for all
judges worth pleasing.

Lionel was the clergyman, Douglas the lawyer, or rather law-student,
for the glory of his maiden brief was yet to come.

How Reginald envied these fortunate kinsmen! He hated them with
passionate hate. He looked from them to Honoria, the woman against whom
he had plotted--the woman who triumphed in spite of him--for he could
not imagine that grief for a dead husband could have any place in the
heart of a woman who found herself mistress of such a domain as
Raynham, and its dependencies.

Lady Eversleigh's astonishment was unbounded. This will placed her in
even a loftier position than that which she had occupied when possessed
of the confidence and affection of her husband. For her pride there was
some consolation in this thought; but the triumph, which was sweet to
the proud spirit, afforded no balm for the wounded heart. He was gone--
he whose love had made her mistress of that wealth and splendour. He
was gone from her for ever, and he had died believing her false.

In the midst of her triumph the widow bowed her head upon her hands,
and sobbed convulsively. The tears wrung from her in this moment were
the first she had shed that day, and they were very bitter.

Reginald Eversleigh watched her with scorn and hatred in his heart.

"What do you say now, Lionel?" he said to his cousin, when the three
young men had left the dining-hall, and were seated at luncheon in a
smaller chamber. "You did not think my respected aunt a clever actress
when she fainted before the doors of the mausoleum. You will at least
acknowledge that the piece of acting she favoured us with just now was

"What do you mean by 'a piece of acting'?"

"That outburst of grief which my lady indulged in, when she found
herself mistress of Raynham."

"I believe that it was genuine," answered Mr. Dale, gravely.

"Oh, you think the inheritance a fitting subject for lamentation?"

"No, Reginald. I think a woman who had wronged her husband, and had
been the indirect cause of his death, might well feel sorrow when she
discovered how deeply she had been loved, and how fully she had been
trusted by that generous husband."

"Bah!" cried Reginald, contemptuously. "I tell you, man, Lady
Eversleigh is a consummate actress, though she never acted before a
better audience than the clodhoppers at a country fair. Do you know who
my lady was when Sir Oswald picked her out of the gutter? If you don't,
I'll enlighten you. She was a street ballad-singer, whom the baronet
found one night starving in the market-place of a country town. He
picked her up--out of charity; and because the creature happened to
have a pretty face, he was weak enough to marry her."

"Respect the follies of the dead," replied Lionel. "My uncle's love was
generous. I only regret that the object of it was so unworthy."

"Oh!" exclaimed Reginald, "I thought just now that you sympathized with
my lady."

"I sympathize with every remorseful sinner," said Lionel.

"Ah, that's your _shop_!" cried Reginald, who could not conceal his
bitter feelings. "You sympathize with Lady Eversleigh because she is a
wealthy sinner, and mistress of Raynham Castle. Perhaps you'll stop
here and try to step into Sir Oswald's shoes. I don't know whether
there's any law against a man marrying his uncle's widow."

"You insult me, and you insult the dead, Sir Reginald, by the tone in
which you discuss these things," answered Lionel Dale. "I shall leave
Raynham by this evening's coach, and there is little likelihood that
Lady Eversleigh and I shall ever meet again. It is not for me to judge
her sins, or penetrate the secrets of her heart. I believe that her
grief to-day was thoroughly genuine. It is not because a woman has
sinned that she must needs be incapable of any womanly feeling."

"You are in a very charitable humour, Lionel," said Sir Reginald, with
a sneer; "but you can afford to be charitable."

Mr. Dale did not reply to this insolent speech.

Sir Reginald Eversleigh and his two cousins left the village of Raynham
by the same coach. The evening was finer than the day had been, and a
full moon steeped the landscape in her soft light, as the travellers
looked their last on the grand old castle.

The baronet contemplated the scene with unmitigated rage.

"Hers!" he muttered; "hers! to have and hold so long as she lives! A
nameless woman has tricked me out of the inheritance which should have
been mine. But let her beware! Despair is bold, and I may yet discover
some mode of vengeance."

While the departing traveller mused thus, a pale woman stood at one of
the windows of Raynham Castle, looking out upon the woods, over which
the moon sailed in all her glory.

"Mine!" she said to herself; "those lands and woods belong to me!--to
me, who have stood face to face with starvation!--to me, who have
considered it a privilege to sleep in an empty barn! They are mine; but
the possession of them brings no pleasure. My life has been blighted by
a wrong so cruel, that wealth and position are worthless in my eyes."

* * * * *



Early upon the morning after the funeral, a lad from the village of
Raynham presented himself at the principal door of the servants'
offices, and asked to see Lady Eversleigh's maid.

The young woman who filled that office was summoned, and came to
inquire the business of the messenger.

Her name was Jane Payland; she was a Londoner by birth, and a citizen
of the world by education.

She had known very little of either comfort or prosperity before she
entered the service of Lady Eversleigh. She was, therefore, in some
measure at least, devoted to the interests of that mistress, and she
was inclined to believe in her innocence; though, even to her, the
story of the night in Yarborough Tower seemed almost too wild and
improbable for belief.

Jane Payland was about twenty-four years of age, tall, slim, and
active. She had no pretensions to beauty; but was the sort of person
who is generally called lady-like.

This morning she went to the little lobby, in which the boy had been
told to wait, indignant at the impertinence of anyone who could dare to
intrude upon her mistress at such a time.

"Who are you, and what do you want?" she asked angrily.

"If you please, ma'am, I'm Widow Beckett's son," the boy answered, in
evident terror of the young woman in the rustling black silk dress and
smart cap; "and I've brought this letter, please; and I was only to
give it to the lady's own maid, please.

"I am her own maid," answered Jane.

The boy handed her a dirty-looking letter, directed, in a bold clear
hand, to Lady Eversleigh.

"Who gave you this?" asked Jane Payland, looking at the dirty envelope
with extreme disgust.

"It was a tramp as give it me--a tramp as I met in the village; and
I'm to wait for an answer, please, and I'm to take it to him at the
'Hen and Chickens.'"

"How dare you bring Lady Eversleigh a letter given you by a tramp--a
begging letter, of course? I wonder at your impudence."

"I didn't go to do no harm," expostulated Master Beckett. "He says to
me, he says, 'If her ladyship once sets eyes upon that letter, she'll
arnswer it fast enough; and now you cut and run,' he says; 'it's a
matter of life and death, it is, and it won't do to waste time over

These words were rather startling to the mind of Jane Payland. What was
she to do? Her own idea was, that the letter was the concoction of some
practised impostor, and that it would be an act of folly to take it to
her mistress. But what if the letter should be really of importance?
What if there should be some meaning in the boy's words? Was it not her
duty to convey the letter to Lady Eversleigh?

"Stay here till I return," she said, pointing to a bench in the lobby.

The boy seated himself on the extremest edge of the bench, with his hat
on his knees, and Jane Payland left him.

She went straight to the suite of apartments occupied by Lady

Honoria did not raise her eyes when Jane Payland entered the room.
There was a gloomy abstraction in her face, and melancholy engrossed
her thoughts.

"I beg pardon for disturbing you, my lady," said Jane; "but a lad from
the village has brought a letter, given him by a tramp; and, according
to his account, the man talked in such a very strange manner that I
thought I really ought to tell you, my lady; and--"

To the surprise of Jane Payland, Lady Eversleigh started suddenly from
her seat, and advanced towards her, awakened into sudden life and
energy as by a spell.

"Give me the letter," she cried, abruptly.

She took the soiled and crumpled envelope from her servant's hand with
a hasty gesture.

"You may go," she said; "I will ring when I want you."

Jane Payland would have given a good deal to see that letter opened;
but she had no excuse for remaining longer in the room. So she
departed, and went to her lady's dressing-room, which, as well as all
the other apartments, opened out of the corridor.

In about a quarter of an hour, Lady Eversleigh's bell rang, and Jane
hurried to the morning-room.

She found her mistress still seated by the hearth. Her desk stood open
on the table by her side; and on the desk lay a letter, so newly
addressed that the ink on the envelope was still wet.

"You will take that to the lad who is waiting," said Honoria, pointing
to this newly-written letter.

"Yes, my lady."

Jane Payland departed. On the way between Lady Eversleigh's room and
the lobby in the servants' offices, she had ample leisure to examine
the letter.

It was addressed--

"_Mr. Brown, at the 'Hen and Chickens_.'"

It was sealed with a plain seal. Jane Payland was very well acquainted
with the writing of her mistress, and she perceived at once that this
letter was not directed in Lady Eversleigh's usual hand.

The writing had been disguised. It was evident, therefore, that this
was a letter which Lady Eversleigh would have shrunk from avowing as
her own.

Every moment the mystery grew darker. Jane Payland liked her mistress;
but there were two things which she liked still better. Those two
things were power and gain. She perceived in the possession of her
lady's secrets a high-road to the mastery of both. Thus it happened
that, when she had very nearly arrived at the lobby where the boy was
waiting, Jane Payland suddenly changed her mind, and darted off in
another direction.

She hurried along a narrow passage, up the servants' staircase, and
into her own room. Here she remained for some fifteen or twenty
minutes, occupied with some task which required the aid of a lighted

At the end of that time she emerged, with a triumphant smile upon her
thin lips, and Lady Eversleigh's letter in her hand.

The seal which secured the envelope was a blank seal; but it was not
the same as the one with which Honoria Eversleigh had fastened her
letter half an hour before.

The abigail carried the letter to the boy, and the boy departed, very
well pleased to get clear of the castle without having received any
further reproof.

He went at his best speed to the little inn, where he inquired for Mr.

That gentleman emerged presently from the inn-yard, where he had been
hanging about, listening to all that was to be heard, and talking to
the ostler.

He took the letter from the boy's hand, and rewarded him with the
promised shilling. Then he left the yard, and walked down a lane
leading towards the river.

In this unfrequented lane he tore open the envelope, and read his

It was very brief:

"_Since my only chance of escaping persecution is to accede, in some
measure, to your demands, I will consent to see you. If you will wait
for me to-night, at nine o'clock, by the water-side, to the left of the
bridge, I will try to come to that spot at that hour. Heaven grant the
meeting may be our last_!"

Exactly as the village church clock struck nine, a dark figure crossed
a low, flat meadow, lying near the water, and appeared upon the narrow
towing-path by the river's edge. A man was walking on this pathway, his
face half hidden by a slouched hat, and a short pipe in his month.

He lifted his hat presently, and bared his head to the cool night
breeze. His hair was closely cropped, like that of a convict. The broad
moonlight shining fall upon his face, revealed a dark, weather-beaten
countenance--the face of the tramp who had stood at the park-gates to
watch the passing of Sir Oswald's funeral train--the face of the tramp
who had loitered in the stable-yard of the "Hen and Chickens"--the face
of the man who had been known in Ratcliff Highway by the ominous name
of Black Milsom.

This was the man who waited for Honoria Eversleigh in the moonlight by
the quiet river.

He advanced to meet her as she came out of the meadow and appeared upon
the pathway.

"Good evening, my lady," he said. "I suppose I ought to be humbly
beholden to such a grand lady as you for coming here to meet the likes
of me. But it seems rather strange you must needs come out here in
secret to see such a very intimate acquaintance as I am, considering as
you're the mistress of that great castle up yonder. I must say it seems
uncommon hard a man can't pay a visit to his own--"

"Hush!" cried Lady Eversleigh. "Do not call me by _that_ name, if you
do not wish to inspire me with a deeper loathing than that which I
already feel for you."

"Well, I'm blest!" muttered Mr. Milsom; "that's uncommon civil language
from a young woman to--"

Honoria stopped him by a sudden gesture.

"I suppose you expect to profit by this interview?" she said.

"That I most decidedly do expect," answered the tramp.

"In that case, you will carefully avoid all mention of the past, for
otherwise you will get nothing from me."

The man responded at first only with a sulky growl. Then, after a brief
pause, he muttered--

"I don't want to talk about the past any more than you do, my fine,
proud madam. If it isn't a pleasant time for you to remember, it isn't
a pleasant time for me to remember. It's all very well for a young
woman who has her victuals found for her to give herself airs about the
manner other people find _their_ victuals; but a man must live somehow
or other. If he can't get his living in a pleasant way, he must get it
in an unpleasant way."

After this there was a silence which lasted for some minutes. Lady
Eversleigh was trying to control the agitation which oppressed her,
despite the apparent calmness of her manner. Black Milsom walked by her
side in sullen silence, waiting for her to speak.

The spot was lonely. Lady Eversleigh and her companion were justified
in believing themselves unobserved.

But it was not so. Lonely as the spot was, those two were not alone. A
stealthy, gliding, female figure, dark and shadowy in the uncertain
light, had followed Lady Eversleigh from the castle gates, and that
figure was beside her now, as she walked with Black Milsom upon the
river bank.

The spy crept by the side of the hedge that separated the river bank
from the meadow; and sheltered thus, she was able to distinguish almost
every word spoken by the two upon the bank, so clearly sounded their
voices in the still night air.

"How did you find me here?" asked Lady Eversleigh, at last.

"By accident. You gave us the slip so cleverly that time you took it
into your precious head to cut and run, that, hunt where we would, we
were never able to find you. I gave it up for a bad job; and then
things went agen me, and I got sent away. But I'm my own master again
now; and I mean to make good use of my liberty, I can tell you, my
lady. I little knew how you'd feathered your nest while I was on the
other side of the water. I little thought how you would turn up at
last, when I least expected to see you. You might have knocked me down
with a feather yesterday, when that fine funeral came out of the park
gates, and I saw your face at the window of one of the coaches. You
must have been an uncommonly clever young woman, and an uncommonly sly
one, to get a baronite for your husband, and to get a spooney old cove
to leave you all his fortune, after behaving so precious bad to him.
Did your husband know who you were when he married you?"

"He found me starving in the street of a country town. He knew that I
was friendless, homeless, penniless. That knowledge did not prevent him
making me his wife."

"Ah! but there was something more he didn't know. He didn't know that
you were Black Milsom's daughter; you didn't tell him that, I'll lay a

"I did not tell him that which I know to be a lie," replied Honoria,

"Oh, it's a lie, is it? You are not my daughter, I suppose?"

"No, Thomas Milsom, I am not--I know and feel that I am not"

"Humph!" muttered Black Milsom, savagely; "if you were not my daughter,
how was it that you grew up to call me father?"

"Because I was forced to do so. I remember being told to call you
father. I remember being beaten because I refused to do so--
beaten till I submitted from very fear of being beaten to death. Oh, it
was a bright and happy childhood, was it not, Thomas Milsom? A
childhood to look back to with love and regret. And now, finding that
fortune has lifted me out of the gutter into which you flung me, you
come to me to demand your share of my good fortune, I suppose?"

"That's about it, my lady," answered Mr. Milsom, with supreme coolness.
"I don't mind a few hard words, more or less--they break no bones; and,
what's more, I'm used to 'em. What I want is money, ready money, down
on the nail, and plenty of it. You may pelt me as hard as you like with
fine speeches, as long as you cash up liberally; but cash I must have,
by fair means or foul, and I want a pretty good sum to start with."

"You want a large sum," said Honoria, quietly; "how much do you want?"

"Well, I don't want to take a mean advantage of your generosity, so
I'll be moderate. Say five thousand pounds--to begin with."

"And you expect to get that from me?"

"Of course I do."

"Five thousand pounds?"

"Five thousand pounds, ready money."

Lady Eversleigh stopped suddenly, and looked the man full in the face.

"You shall not have five thousand pence," she exclaimed, "not five
thousand pence. My dead husband's money shall never pass into your
hands, to be squandered in scenes of vice and crime. If you choose to
live an honest life, I will allow you a hundred a year--a pension which
shall be paid you quarterly--through the hands of my London solicitors.
Beyond this, I will not give you a halfpenny."

"What!" roared Black Milsom, in an infuriated tone. "What, Jenny
Milsom, Honoria, Lady Eversleigh, or whatever you may please to call
yourself, do you think I will stand that? Do you think I will hold my
tongue unless you pay me handsomely to keep silence? You don't know the
kind of man you have to deal with. To-morrow every one in the village
shall know what a high-born lady lives up at the old castle--they shall
know what a dutiful daughter the lady of Raynham is, and how she
suffers her father to tramp barefoot in the mud, while she rides in her

"You may tell them what you please."

"I'll tell them plenty, you may depend upon it."

"Will you tell them how Valentine Jernam came by his death?" asked
Honoria, in a strange tone.

The tramp started, and for a few moments seemed at a loss for words in
which to reply. But he recovered himself very quickly, and exclaimed,

"I'm not going to tell them any of your senseless dreams and fancies;
but I mean to tell them who you are. That will be quite enough for
them; and before I do let them know so much, you'd better change your
mind, and act generously towards me."

"Upon that subject I shall never change my mind," answered Honoria
Eversleigh, with perfect self-possession. "You will accept the pension
I offer you, or you will reject it, as you please--you will never
receive more, directly or indirectly, from me," she continued,
presently. "As for your threat of telling my miserable history to the
people of this place, it is a threat which can have no influence over
me. Tell these people what you choose. Happily, the opinion of the
world is of small account to me."

"You will change your mind between this and to-morrow morning," cried
Black Milsom.

He was almost beside himself with rage and mortification. He felt as if
he could have torn this woman to pieces--this proud and courageous
creature, who dared to defy him.

"I shall not change my mind," answered Honoria. "You could not conquer
me, even when I was a weak and helpless child; you must remember that."

"Humph! you were rather a queer temper in those days--a strange-looking
child, too, with your white face and your big black eyes."

"Aye; and even in those days my will was able to do battle with men and
women, and to support me even against your violence. You, and those
belonging to you, were able to break my heart, but were not strong
enough to bend my spirit. I have the same spirit yet, Thomas Milsom;
and you will find it useless to try to turn me from my purpose."

The man did not answer immediately. He looked fiercely, searchingly, at
the pale, resolute face that was turned to him in the moonlight.

"The name of my solicitor is Dunford," said Honoria, presently; "Mr.
Joseph Dunford, of Gray's Inn. If you apply to him on your arrival in
London, he will give you the first installment of your pension."

"Five and twenty pounds!" grumbled Milsom; "a very handsome amount,
upon my word! And you have fifteen thousand a year!"

"I have."

"May the curse of a black and bitter heart cling to you!" cried the

Lady Eversleigh turned from her companion with a gesture of loathing.
But there was no fear in her heart. She walked slowly back to the gate
leading into the meadow, followed by Milsom, who heaped abusive
epithets upon her at every step. As she entered the meadow, the figure
of the spy drew suddenly back into the shadow of the hedge; from which
it did not emerge till Honoria had disappeared through the little gate
on the opposite side of the field, and the heavy tramp of Milsom's
footsteps had died away in the distance.

Then the figure came forth into the broad moonlight; and that subdued,
but clear radiance, revealed the pale, thin face of Jane Payland.

* * * * *

When Jane Payland was brushing her mistress's hair that night, she
ventured to sound her as to her future movements, by a few cautions and
respectful questions, to which Lady Eversleigh replied with less than
her usual reticence. From her lady's answers, the waiting-maid
ascertained that she had no idea of seeking any relaxation in change of
scene, but purposed to reside at Raynham for at least one year.

Jane Payland wondered at the decision of her mistress's manner. She had
imagined that Lady Eversleigh would be eager to leave a place in which
she found herself the object of disapprobation and contempt.

"If I were her, I would go to France, and be a great lady in Paris--
which is twenty times gayer and more delightful than any place in
stupid, straight-laced old England," thought Jane Payland. "If I had
her money, I would spend it, and enjoy life, in spite of all the

"I'm afraid your health will suffer from a long residence at the
castle, my lady," said Jane, presently, determined to do all in her
power to bring about a change in her mistress's plans. "After such a
shock as you have had, some distraction must be necessary. When I had
the honour of living with the Duchess of Mountaintour, and we lost the
dear duke, the first thing I said to the duchess, after the funeral,
was--'Change of scene, your grace, change of scene; nothing like change
of scene when the mind has received a sudden blow.' The sweet duchess's
physician actually echoed my words, though he had never heard them; and
within a week of the sad ceremony we started for the Continent, where
we remained a year; at the end of which period the dear duchess was
united to the Marquis of Purpeltown."

"The duchess was speedily consoled," replied Lady Eversleigh, with a
smile which was not without bitterness. "No doubt the variety and
excitement of a Continental tour did much towards blotting out all
memory of her dead husband. But I do not wish to forget. I am in no
hurry to obliterate the image of one who was most dear to me."

Jane Payland looked very searchingly at the pale, earnest face
reflected in the glass.

"For me, that which the world calls pleasure never possessed any
powerful fascination," continued Honoria, gravely. "My childhood and
youth were steeped in sorrow--sorrow beyond anything you can imagine,
Jane Payland; though I have heard you say that you have seen much
trouble. The remembrance of it comes back to me more vividly than ever
now. Thus it is that I shrink from society, which can give me no real
pleasure. Had I no special reason for remaining at Raynham, I should
not care to leave it"

"But you have a special reason, my lady?" inquired Jane, eagerly.

"I have."

"May I presume to ask--"

"You may, Jane; and I think I may venture to trust you fully, for I
believe you are my friend. I mean to stay at Raynham, because, in this
hour of sorrow and desolation, Providence has not abandoned me entirely
to despair. I have one bright hope, which renders the thought of my
future endurable to me. I stay at Raynham, because I hope next spring
an heir will be born to Raynham Castle."

"Oh, what happiness! And you wish the heir to be born at the castle, my

"I do! I have been the victim of one plot, but I will not fall
blindfold into a second snare; and there is no infamy which my enemies
are not base enough to attempt. There shall be no mystery about my
life. From the hour of my husband's death to the hour of his child's
birth, the friends of that lost husband shall know every act of my
existence. They shall see me day by day. The old servants of the family
shall attend me. I will live in the old house, surrounded by all who
knew and loved Sir Oswald. No vile plotters shall ever be able to say
that there was trick or artifice connected with the birth of that
child. If I live to protect and watch over it, that infant life shall
be guarded against every danger, and defended from every foe. And there
will be many foes ready to assail the inheritor of Raynham."

"Why so, my lady?"

"Because that young life, and my life, will stand between a villain and
a fortune. If I and my child were both to die, Reginald Eversleigh
would become possessor of the wealth to which he once was the
acknowledged heir. By the terms of Sir Oswald's will, he receives very
little in the present, but the future has many chances for him. If I
die childless, he will inherit the Raynham estates. If his two cousins,
the Dales, die without direct heirs, he will inherit ten thousand a

"But that seems only a poor chance after all, my lady. There is no
reason why Sir Reginald Eversleigh should survive you or the two Mr.

"There is no reason, except his own villany," answered Honoria,
thoughtfully. "There are some men capable of anything. But let us talk
no further on the subject. I have confided my secret to you, Jane
Payland, because I think you are faithfully devoted to my interests.
You know now why I am resolved to remain at Raynham Castle; and you
think my decision wise, do you not?"

"Well, yes; I certainly do, my lady," answered Jane, after some moments
of hesitation.

"And now leave me. Good night! I have kept you long this evening, I see
by that timepiece. But my thoughts were wandering, and I was
unconscious of the progress of time. Good night!"

Jane Payland took a respectful leave of her mistress, and departed,
absorbed in thought.

"Is she a good woman or a bad one?" she wondered, as she sat by the
fire in her own comfortable apartment. "If she is a bad woman, she's an
out-and-outer; for she looks one in the face, with those superb black
eyes of hers, as bright and clear as the image of truth itself. She
must be good and true. She must! And yet that night's absence, and that
story about Yarborough Tower--that seems too much for anybody on earth
to believe."



For nearly three years Thomas Milsom had been far away from London. He
had been arrested on a charge of burglary, within a month of Valentine
Jernam's death, and condemned to five years' transportation. In less
than three years, by some kind of artful management, and by the
exercise of consummate hypocrisy, Mr. Milsom had contrived to get
himself free again, and to return to England his own master.

He landed in Scotland, and tramped from Granton to Yorkshire, where an
accidental encounter with an old acquaintance tempted him to linger at
Raynham. The two tramps, scoundrels both, and both alike penniless and
shoeless, had stood side by side at the gates of the park, to see the
stately funeral train pass out.

And thus Thomas Milsom had beheld her whom he called his daughter,--the
girl who had fled, with her old grandfather, from the shelter of his
fatal roof three years before.

After that unprofitable interview with Honoria, Thomas Milsom his face

"The day will come when you and I will square accounts, my lady," he
muttered, as he looked up to those battlemented turrets, with a
blasphemous curse, and then turned his back upon Raynham Castle, and
the peaceful little village beneath it.

The direction in which Mr. Milsom betook himself, after he passed the
border-land of waste ground and newly-built houses which separates
London from the country, was the direction of Ratcliff Highway. He
walked rapidly through the crowded streets, in which the crowd grew
thicker as he approached the regions of the Tower. But rapidly as he
walked, the steps of Time were faster. It had been bright noon when he
entered the quiet little town of Barnet. It was night when he first
heard the scraping fiddles and stamping feet of Ratcliff Highway. He
went straight to the 'Jolly Tar'.

Here all was unchanged. There were the flaring tallow candles, set in a
tin hoop that hung from the low ceiling, dropping hot grease ever and
anon on the loungers at the bar. There was the music--the same Scotch
reels and Irish jigs, played on squeaking fiddles, which were made more
inharmonious by the accompaniment of shrill Pandean pipes. There was
the same crowd of sailors and bare-headed, bare-armed, loud-voiced
women assembled in the stifling bar, the same cloud of tobacco-smoke,
the same Babel of voices to be heard from the concert-room within;
while now and then, amongst the shouts and the laughter, the oaths and
the riot, there sounded the tinkling of the old piano, and the feeble
upper notes of a very poor soprano voice.

Black Milsom had drawn his hat over his eyes before entering the "Jolly

The bar of that tavern was sunk considerably below the level of the
street, and standing on the uppermost of the steps by which Mr.
Wayman's customers descended to his hospitable abode, Black Milsom was
able to look across the heads of the crowd to the face of the landlord
busy behind his bar.

In that elevated position Black Milsom waited until Dennis Wayman
happened to look up and perceive the stranger on the threshold.

As he did so, Thomas Milsom drew the back of his hand rapidly across
his mouth, with a gesture that was evidently intended as a signal.

The signal was answered by a nod from Wayman, and then Black Milsom
descended the three steps, and pushed his way to the bar.

"Can I have a bed, mate, and a bit of supper?" he asked, in a voice
that was carefully disguised.

"Ay, ay, to be sure you can," answered Wayman; "you can have everything
that is comfortable and friendly by paying for it. This house is one of
the most hospitable places there is--to those that can pay the

This rather clumsy joke was received with an applauding guffaw by the
sailors and women next the bar.

"If you'll step through that door yonder, you'll find a snug little
room, mate," said Dennis Wayman, in the tone which he might have used
in speaking to a stranger; "I'll send you a steak and a potato as soon
as they can be cooked."

Thomas Milsom nodded. He pushed open the rough wooden door which was so
familiar to him, and went into the dingy little den which, in the
'Jolly Tar', was known as the private parlour.

It was the room in which he had first seen Valentine Jernam. Two years
and a half had passed since he had last entered it; and during that
time Mr. Milsom had been paying the penalty of his misdeeds in Van
Dieman's Land. This dingy little den, with its greasy walls and low,
smoky ceiling, was a kind of paradise to the returned wanderer. Here,
at least, was freedom. Here, at least, he was his own master: free to
enjoy strong drinks and strong tobacco--free to be lazy when he
pleased, and to work after the fashion that suited him best.

He seated himself in one chair, and planted his legs on another. Then
he took a short clay pipe from his pocket, filled and lighted it, and
began to smoke, in a slow meditative manner, stopping every now and
then to mutter to himself, between the puffs of tobacco.

Mr. Milsom had finished his second pipe of shag tobacco, and had given
utterance to more than one exclamation of anger and impatience, when
the door was opened, and Dennis Wayman made his appearance, bearing a
tray with a couple of covered dishes and a large pewter pot.

"I thought I'd bring you your grub myself, mate," he said; "though I'm
precious busy in yonder. I'm uncommonly glad to see you back again.
I've been wondering where you was ever since you disappeared."

"You'd have left off wondering if you'd known I was on the other side
of this blessed world of ours. I thought you knew I was--"

Mr. Milsom's delicacy of feeling prevented his finishing this speech.

"I knew you had got into trouble," answered Mr. Wayman. "At least, I
didn't know for certain, but I guessed as much; though sometimes I was
half inclined to think you had turned cheat, and given me the slip."

"Bolted with the swag, I suppose you mean?"

"Precisely!" answered Dennis Wayman, coolly.

"Which shows your suspicious nature," returned Milsom, in a sulky tone.
"When an unlucky chap turns his back upon his comrades, the worst word
in their mouths isn't half bad enough for him. That's the way of the
world, that is. No, Dennis Wayman; I didn't bolt with the swag--not
sixpence of Valentine Jernam's money have I had the spending of; no
even what I won from him at cards. I was nobbled one day, without a
moment's warning, on a twopenny-halfpenny charge of burglary--never you
mind whether it was true, or whether it was false--that ain't worth
going into. I was took under a false name, and I stuck to that false
name, thinking it more convenient. I should have sent to let you know,
if I could have found a safe hand to take my message; but I couldn't
find a living creature that was anything like safe--so there I was,
remanded on a Monday, tried on a Tuesday, and then a fortnight after
shipped off like a bullock, along of so many other bullocks; and that's
the long and the short of it."

After having said which, Mr. Milsom applied himself to his supper,
which consisted of a smoking steak, and a dish of still more smoking

Dennis Wayman sat watching him for some minutes in thoughtful silence.
The intent gaze with which he regarded the face of his friend, was that
of a man who was by no means inclined to believe every syllable he had
heard. After Milsom had devoured about a pound of steak, and at least
two pounds of potatoes, Mr. Wayman ventured to interrupt his operations
by a question.

"If you didn't collar the money, what became of it?" he asked.

"Put away," returned the other man, shortly; "and as safe as a church,
unless my bad luck goes against me harder than it ever went yet."

"You hid it?" said Wayman, interrogatively.

"I did."


Mr. Milsom looked at his friend with a glance of profound cunning.

"Wouldn't you like to know--oh, wouldn't you just like to know, Mr.
Wayman?" he said. "And wouldn't you just dose me with a cup of drugged
coffee, and cut off to ransack my hiding-place while I was lying
helpless in your hospitable abode. That's the sort of thing you'd do,
if I happened to be a born innocent, isn't it, Mr. Wayman? But you see
I'm not a born innocent, so you won't get the chance of doing anything
of the kind."

"Don't be a fool," returned Dennis Wayman, in a surly tone. "You'll
please to remember that one half of Valentine Jernam's money belongs to
me, and ought to have been in my possession long before this. I was an
idiot to trust it in your keeping."

"You trusted it in my keeping because you were obliged to do so,"
answered Black Milsom, "and I owe you no gratitude for your
confidence. I happened to know a Jew who was willing to give cash for
the notes and bills of exchange; and you trusted them to me because it
was the only way to get them turned into cash."

The landlord of the 'Jolly Tar' nodded a surly assent to this rather
cynical statement.

"I saw my friend the Jew, and made a very decent bargain," resumed
Milsom. "I hid the money in a convenient place, intending to bring you
your share at the earliest opportunity. I was lagged that very night,
and had no chance of touching the cash after I had once stowed it away.
So, you see, it was no fault of mine that you didn't get the money."

"Humph!" muttered Mr. Wayman. "It has been rather hard lines for me to
be kept out of it so long. And now you have come back, I suppose you
can take me at once to the hiding place. I want money very badly just

"Do you?" said Thomas Milsom, with a sneer. "That's a complaint you're
rather subject to, isn't it--the want of money? Now, as I've answered
your questions, perhaps you'll answer mine. Has there been much stir
down this way while I've been over the water?"

"Very little; things have been as dull as they well could be."

"Ah! so _you'll_ say, of course. Can you tell me whether any one has
lived in my old place while my back has been turned?"

The landlord of the 'Jolly Tar' started with a gesture of alarm.

"It wasn't _there_ you hid the money, was it?" he asked, eagerly.

"Suppose it was, what then?"

"Why every farthing of it is lost. The place has been taken by a man,
who has pulled the best part of it down, and rebuilt it. If you hid
your money _there_, there's little chance of your ever seeing it
again," said Wayman.

Black Milsom's dark face grew livid, as he started from his chair and
dragged on the crater coat which he had taken off on entering the room.

"It would be like my luck to lose that money," he said; "it would be
just like my luck. Come, Wayman. What are you staring at, man?" he
cried impatiently. "Come."


"To my old place. You can tell me all about the changes at we go. I
must see to this business at once."

The moon was shining over the masts and rigging in the Pool, and over
the house-tops of Bermondsey and Wapping, as Black Milsom and his
companion started on their way to the old house by the water.

They went, as on a former occasion, in that vehicle which Mr. Wayman
called his trap; and as they drove along the lonely road, across the
marshy flat by the river, Dennis Wayman told his companion what had
happened in his absence.

"For a year the house stood empty," he said; "but at the end of that
time an old sea-captain took a fancy to it because of the water about
it, and the view of the Pool from the top windows. He bought it, and
pulled it almost all to pieces, rebuilt it, and I doubt if there is any
of the old house standing. He has made quite a smart little place of
it. He's a queer old chap, this Cap'en Duncombe, I'm told, and rather a
tough customer."

"I'll see the inside of his house, however tough he may be," answered
Milsom, in a dogged tone. "If he's a tough customer, he'll find me a
tougher. Has he got any family?"

"One daughter--as pretty a girl as you'll see within twenty miles of

"Well, we'll go and have a look at his place to-night. We'd better put
up your trap at the 'Pilot Boat.'"

Mr. Wayman assented to the wisdom of this arrangement. The "Pilot Boat"
was a dilapidated-looking, low-roofed little inn, where there were some
tumble-down stables, which were more often inhabited by bloated grey
water-rats than by horses. In these stables Mr. Wayman lodged his pony
and vehicle, while he and Milsom walked on to the cottage.

"Why I shouldn't have known the place!" cried Milsom, as his companion
pointed to the captain's habitation.

The transformation was, indeed, complete. The dismal dwelling, which
had looked as if it were, in all truth, haunted by a ghost, had been
changed into one of the smartest little cottages to be seen in the
suburbs of eastern London.

The ditch had been narrowed and embanked, and two tiny rustic bridges,
of fantastical wood-work, spanned its dark water. The dreary pollard-
willows had vanished, and evergreens occupied their places. The black
rushes had been exchanged for flowers. A trim little garden appeared
where all had once been waste ground; and a flag-staff, with a bit of
bunting, gave a naval aspect to the spot.

All was dark; not one glimmer of light to be seen in any of the

The garden was secured by an iron gate, and surrounded by iron rails on
all sides, except that nearest the river. Here, the only boundary was a
hedge of laurels, which were still low and thin; and here Dennis Wayman
and his companion found easy access to the neatly-kept pleasure-ground.

With stealthy footsteps they invaded Captain Duncombe's little domain,
and walked slowly round the house, examining every door and window as
they went.

"Is the captain a rich man?" asked Milsom.

"Yes; I believe he's pretty well off--some say uncommonly well off. He
spent over a thousand pounds on this place."

"Curse him for his pains!" returned Black Milsom, savagely. "He knows
how to take care of his property. It would be a very clever burglar
that would get into that house. The windows are all secured with
outside shutters, that seem as solid as if they were made of iron, and
the doors don't yield the twentieth part of an inch."

Then, after completing his examination of the house, Milsom exclaimed,
in the same savage tone--

"Why, the man has swept away every timber of the place I lived in."

"I told you as much," answered Wayman; "I've heard say there was
nothing left of old Screwton's house but a few solid timbers and a
stack of chimneys."

Screwton was the name of the miser whose ghost had been supposed to
haunt the old place.

Black Milsom gave a start as Dennis uttered the words "stack of

"Oh!" he said, in an altered tone; "so they left the chimney-stack, did

Mr. Wayman perceived that change of tone.

"I begin to understand," he said; "you hid that money in one of the

"Never you mind where I hid it. There's little chance of its being
found there, after bricklayers pulling the place to pieces. I must get
into that house, come what may."

"You'll find that difficult," answered Wayman.

"Perhaps. But I'll do it, or my name's not Black Milsom."

* * * * *

Captain Joseph Duncombe, or Joe Duncombe, as he generally called
himself, was a burly, rosy-faced man of fifty years of age; a hearty,
honest fellow. He was a widower, with only one child, a daughter, whom
he idolized.

Any father might have been forgiven for being devotedly fond of such a
daughter as Rosamond Duncombe.

Rosamond was one of those light-hearted, womanly creatures who seem
born to make home a paradise. She had a sweet temper; a laugh which was
like music; a manner which was fascination itself.

When it is also taken into consideration that she had a pretty little
nose, lips that were fresh and rosy as ripe red cherries, cheeks that
were like dewy roses, newly-gathered, and large, liquid eyes, of the
deepest, clearest blue, it must be confessed that Rosamond Duncombe was
a very charming girl.

If Joseph Duncombe doted on this bright-haired, blue-eyed daughter, his
love was not unrecompensed. Rosamond idolized her father, whom she
believed to be the best and noblest of created beings.

Rosamond's remembrance of her mother was but shadowy. She had lost that
tender protector at a very early age.

Within the last year and a half her father had retired from active
service, after selling his vessel, the "Vixen," for a large price, so
goodly a name had she borne in the merchant service.

This retirement of Captain Duncombe's was a sacrifice which he made for
his beloved daughter.

For himself, the life of a seaman had lost none of its attractions. But
when he saw his fair young daughter of an age to leave school, he
determined that she should have a home.

He had made a very comfortable little fortune during five-and-thirty
years of hard service. But he had never made a sixpence the earning of
which he need blush to remember. He was known in the service as a model
of truth and honesty.

Driving about the eastern suburbs of London, he happened one day to
pass that dreary plot of waste ground on which the miser's tumble-down
dwelling had been built. It was a pleasant day in April, and the place
was looking less dreary than usual. The spring sunshine lit up the
broad river, and the rigging of the ships stood out in sharp black
lines against a bright blue sky.

A board against the dilapidated palings announced that the ground was
to be sold.

Captain Duncombe drew up his horse suddenly.

"That's the place for me!" he exclaimed; "close by the old river, whose
tide carried me down to the sea on my first voyage five-and-thirty
years ago--within view of the Pool, and all the brave old ships lying
at anchor. That's the place for me! I'll sweep away that old ramshackle
hovel, and build a smart water-tight little cottage for my pet and me
to live in; and I'll stick the Union Jack on a main-top over our heads,
and at night, when I lie awake and hear the water rippling by, I shall
fancy I'm still at sea."

A landsman would most likely have stopped to consider that the
neighbourhood was lonely, the ground damp and marshy, the approach to
this solitary cross-road through the most disreputable part of London.
Captain Duncombe considered nothing, except two facts--first the river,
then the view of the ships in the Pool.

He drove back to Wapping, where he found the house-agent who was
commissioned to sell old Screwton's dwelling. That gentleman was only
too glad to get a customer for a place which no one seemed inclined to
have on any terms. He named his price. The merchant-captain did not
attempt to make a bargain; but agreed to buy the place, and to give
ready money for it, as soon as the necessary deeds were drawn up and
signed. In a week this was done, and the captain found himself
possessor of a snug little freehold on the banks of the Thames.

He lost no time in transforming the place into an abode of comfort,
instead of desolation. It was only when the transformation was
complete, and Captain Duncombe had spent upwards of a thousand pounds
on his folly, that he became acquainted with the common report about
the place.

Sailors are proverbially superstitious. After hearing that dismal
story, Joseph Duncombe was rather inclined to regret the choice he had
made; but he resolved to keep the history of old Screwton a secret from
his daughter, though it cost him perpetual efforts to preserve silence
on this subject.

In spite of his precaution, Rosamond came to know of the ghost.
Visiting some poor cottagers, about a quarter of a mile from River
View, she heard the whole story--told her unthinkingly by a foolish old
woman, who was amongst the recipients of her charity.

Soon after this, the story reached the ears of the two servants--an
elderly woman, called Mugby, who acted as cook and housekeeper; and a
smart girl, called Susan Trott.

Mrs. Mugby pretended to ridicule the idea of Screwton's ghost.

"I've lived in a many places, and I've heard tell of a many ghostes,"
she said; "but never yet did I set eyes on one, which my opinion is
that, if people will eat cold pork for supper underdone, not to mention
crackling or seasoning, and bottled stout, which is worse, and lies
still heavier on the stomach--unless you take about as much ground
ginger as would lie on a sixpence, and as much carbonate of soda as
would lie on a fourpenny-bit--and go to bed upon it all directly
afterwards, they will see no end of ghostes. I have never trifled with
my digestion, and no ghostes have I ever seen."

The girl, Susan Trott, was by no means so strong-minded. The idea of
Miser Screwton's ghost haunted her perpetually of an evening; and she
would no more have gone out into the captain's pretty little garden
after dark, than she would have walked straight to the mouth of a

Rosamond Duncombe affected to echo the heroic sentiments of the
housekeeper, Mrs. Mugby. There never had been such things as ghosts,
and never would be; and all the foolish stories that were told of
phantoms and apparitions, had their sole foundation in the imaginations
of the people who told them.

Such was the state of things in the household of Captain Duncombe at
the time of Black Milsom's return from Van Diemen's Land.

It was within two nights after that return, that an event occurred,
never to be forgotten by any member of Joseph Duncombe's household.

The evening was cold, but fine; the moon, still at its full, shone
bright and clear upon the neat garden of River View Cottage. Captain
Duncombe and his daughter were alone in their comfortable sitting-room,
playing the Captain's favourite game of backgammon, before a cheery
fire. The housekeeper, Mrs. Mugby, had complained all day of a touch of
rheumatism, and had gone to bed after the kitchen tea, leaving Susan
Trott, the smart little parlour-maid, to carry in the pretty pink and
gold china tea-service, and hissing silver tea-kettle, to Miss Rosamond
and her papa in the sitting-room.

Thus it was that, after having removed the tea-tray, and washed the
pretty china cups and saucers, Susan Trott seated herself before the
fire, and set herself to trim a new cap, which was designed for the
especial bewilderment of a dashing young baker.

The dashing young baker had a habit of lingering at the gate of River
View Cottage a good deal longer than was required for the transaction
of his business; and the dashing young baker had more than once hinted
at an honourable attachment for Miss Susan Trott.

Thinking of the baker, and of all the tender things and bright promises
of a happy future which he had murmured in her ear, as they walked home
from church on the last Sunday evening, Susan found the solitary hours
pass quickly enough. She looked up suddenly as the clock struck ten,
and found that she had let the fire burn out.

It was rather an awful sensation to be alone in the lower part of the
house after every one else had gone to bed; but Susan Trott was very
anxious to finish the making of the new cap; so she went back to the
kitchen, and seated herself once more at the table.

She had scarcely taken up her scissors to cut an end of ribbon, when a
low, stealthy tapping sounded on the outer wooden shutter of the window
behind her.

Susan gave a little shriek of terror, and dropped the scissors as if
they had been red-hot. What could that awful sound mean at ten o'clock
at night?

For some moments the little parlour-maid was completely overcome by
terror. Then, all at once, her thoughts flew back to the person whose
image had occupied her mind all that evening. Was it not just possible
that the dashing young baker might have something very particular to
say to her, and that he had come in this mysterious manner to say it?

Again the same low, stealthy tapping sounded on the shutter.

This time Susan Trott plucked up a spirit, took the bright brass
candlestick in her hand, and went to the little door leading from the
scullery to the back garden.

She opened the door and peered cautiously out. No one was to be seen--
that tiresome baker was indulging in some practical joke, no doubt, and
trying to frighten her.

Susan was determined not to be frightened by her sweet-heart's tricks,
so she tripped boldly out into the garden, still carrying the brass

At the first step the wind blew out the candle; but, of course, that
was of very little consequence when the bright moonlight made
everything as clearly visible as at noon.

"I know who it is," cried Susan, in a voice intended to reach the
baker; "and it's a great shame to try and frighten a poor girl when
she's sitting all alone by herself."

She had scarcely uttered the words when the candlestick fell from her
extended hand, and she stood rooted to the gravel pathway--a statue of

Exactly opposite to her, slowly advancing towards the open door of the
scullery, she saw an awful figure--whose description was too familiar
to her.

There it was. The ghost--the shadowy image of the man who had destroyed
himself in that house. A tall, spectral figure, robed in a long garment
of grey serge; a scarlet handkerchief twisted round the head rendered
the white face whiter by contrast with it.

As this awful figure approached, Susan Trott stepped backwards on the
grass, leaving the pathway clear for the dreadful visitant.

The ghostly form stalked on with slow and solemn steps, and entered the
house by the scullery door. For some minutes Susan remained standing on
the grass, horror-struck, powerless to move. Then all at once feminine
curiosity got the better even of terror, and she followed the phantom
figure into the house.

From the kitchen doorway she beheld the figure standing on the hearth,
his arms stretched above the fireplace, as if groping for something in
the chimney.

Doubtless this had been the miser's hiding-place for his hoarded gold,
and the ghost returned to the spot where the living man had been
accustomed to conceal his treasures.

Susan darted across the hall, and ran upstairs to her master's room.
She knocked loudly on the door, crying,--

"The ghost, master! the ghost! the old miser's ghost is in the

"What?" roared the captain, starting suddenly from his peaceful

The girl repeated her awful announcement. The captain sprang out of
bed, dressed himself in trousers and dressing-gown, and ran down-
stairs, the girl close behind him.

They were just in time to see the figure, in the red head-gear and long
grey dressing-gown, slowly stalking from the scullery door.

The captain followed the phantom into the garden; but held himself at a
respectful distance from the figure, as it slowly paced along the
smooth gravel pathway leading towards the laurel hedge.

The figure reached the low boundary that divided the garden from the
river bank, crossed it, and vanished amongst the thick white mists that
rose from the water.

Joseph Duncombe trembled. A ghost was just the one thing which could
strike terror to the seaman's bold heart.

When the figure had vanished, Captain Duncombe went to the spot where
it had passed out of the garden.

Here he found the young laurels beaten and trampled down, as if by the
heavy feet of human intruders.

This was strange.

He then went to the kitchen, accompanied by Susan Trott, who, although
shivering like an aspen tree, had just sufficient strength of mind to
find a lucifer and light her candle.

By the light of this candle Captain Buncombe examined the kitchen.

On the hearth, at his feet, he saw something gleaming in the uncertain
light. He stooped to pick up this object, and found that it was a
curious gold coin--a foreign coin, bent in a peculiar manner.

This was even yet more strange.

The captain put the coin in his pocket.

"I'll take good care of this, my girl," he said. "It isn't often a
ghost leaves anything behind him."

* * * * *



When the hawthorns were blooming in the woods of Raynham, a new life
dawned in the stately chambers of the castle.

A daughter was born to the beautiful widow-lady--a sweet consoler in
the hour of her loneliness and desolation. Honoria Eversleigh lifted
her heart to heaven, and rendered thanks for the priceless treasure
which had been bestowed upon her. She had kept her word. From the hour
of her husband's death she had never quitted Raynham Castle. She had
lived alone, unvisited, unknown; content to dwell in stately solitude,
rarely extending her walks and drives beyond the boundary of the park
and forest.

Some few of the county gentry would have visited her; but she would not
consent to be visited by a few. Honoria Eversleigh's was a proud
spirit; and until the whole county should acknowledge her innocence,
she would receive no one.

"Let them think of me or talk of me as they please," she said; "I can
live my own life without them."

Thus the long winter months passed by, and Honoria was alone in that
abode whose splendour must have seemed cold and dreary to the
friendless woman.

But when she held her infant in her arms all was changed She looked
down upon the baby-girl, and murmured softly--

"Your life shall be bright and peaceful, dearest, whatever mine may be.
The future looks bleak and terrible for me; but for you, sweet one, it
may be bright and fair."

The young mother loved her child with a passionate intensity; but even
that love could not exclude darker passions from her breast.

There was much that was noble in the nature of this woman; but there
was also much that was terrible. From her childhood she had been gifted
with a power of intellect--a strength of will--that lifted her high
above the common ranks of womanhood.

A fatal passion had taken possession of her soul after the untimely
death of Sir Oswald; and that passion was a craving for revenge. She
had been deeply wronged, and she could not forgive. She did not even
try to forgive. She believed that revenge was a kind of duty which she
owed, not only to herself, but to the noble husband whom she had lost.

The memory of that night of anguish in Yarborough Tower, and that still
darker hour of shame and despair in which Sit Oswald had refused to
believe her innocent, was never absent from the mind of Honoria
Eversleigh. She brooded upon these dark memories. Time could not lessen
their bitterness. Even the soft influence of her infant's love could
not banish those fatal recollections.

Time passed. The child grew and flourished, beautiful to her mother's
enraptured eyes; and yet, even by the side of that fair baby's face
arose the dark image of Victor Carrington.

For a long time the county people had kept close watch upon the
proceedings of the lady at the castle.

The county people discovered that Lady Eversleigh never left Raynham;
that she devoted herself to the rearing of her child as entirely as if
she had been the humblest peasant-woman; and that she expended more
money upon solid works of charity than had ever before been so spent by
any member of the Eversleigh family, though that family had been
distinguished by much generosity and benevolence.

The county people shrugged their shoulders contemptuously. They could
not believe in the goodness of this woman, whose parentage no one knew,
and whom every one had condemned.

She is playing a part, they thought; she wishes to impress us with the
idea that she is a persecuted martyr--a suffering angel; and she hopes
thus to regain her old footing amongst us, and queen it over the whole
county, as she did when that poor infatuated Sir Oswald first brought
her to Raynham. This was what the county people thought; until one day
the tidings flew far and wide that Lady Eversleigh had left the castle
for the Continent, and that she intended to remain absent for some

This seemed very strange; but what seemed still more strange, was the
fact that the devoted mother was not accompanied by her child.

The little girl, Gertrude, so named after the mother of the late
baronet, remained at Raynham under the care of two persons.

These two guardians were Captain Copplestone, and a widow lady of forty
years of age, Mrs. Morden, a person of unblemished integrity, who had
been selected as protectress and governess of the young heiress.

The child was at this time two and a half years of age. Very young, she
seemed, to be thus left by a mother who had appeared to idolize her.

The county people shook their heads. They told each other that Lady
Eversleigh was a hypocrite and an actress. She had never really loved
her child--she had played the part of a sorrowing widow and a devoted
mother for two years and a half, in the hope that by this means she
would regain her position in society.

And now, finding that this was impossible, she had all of a sudden
grown tired of playing her part, and had gone off to the Continent to
spend her money, and enjoy her life after her own fashion.

This was what the world said of Honoria Eversleigh; but if those who
spoke of her could have possessed themselves of her secrets, they would
have discovered something very different from that which they imagined.

Lady Eversleigh left the castle in the early part of November
accompanied only by her maid, Jane Payland.

A strange time of the year in which to start for the Continent, people
said. It seemed still more strange that a woman of Lady Eversleigh's
rank and fortune should go on a Continental journey with no other
attendant than a maid-servant.

If the eyes of the world could have followed Lady Eversleigh, they
would have made startling discoveries.

While it was generally supposed that the baronet's widow was on her way
to Rome or Naples, two plainly-dressed women took possession of
unpretending lodgings in Percy Street, Tottenham Court Road.

The apartments were taken by a lady who called herself Mrs. Eden, and
who required them only for herself and maid. The apartments consisted
of two large drawing-rooms, two bedrooms on the floor above, and a
dressing-room adjoining the best bedroom.

The proprietor of the house was a Belgian merchant, called Jacob
Mulck--a sedate old bachelor, who took a great deal of snuff, and
Disquieted himself very little about the world in general, so long as
life went smoothly for himself.

The remaining occupant of the house was a medical student, who rented
one of the rooms on the third floor. Another room on the same floor was
to let.

Such was the arrangement of the house when Mrs. Eden and her maid took
possession of their apartments.

Mr. Jacob Mulck thought he had never seen such a beautiful woman as his
new lodger, when he entered her apartment, to ascertain whether she was
satisfied with the accommodation provided for her.

She was sitting in the full light of an unshaded lamp as he entered the
room. Her black silk dress was the perfection of simplicity; its sombre
hues relieved only by the white collar which encircled her slender
throat. Her pale face looked of an ivory whiteness, in contrast to the
dark, deep eyes, and arched brows of sombre brown.

The lady pronounced herself perfectly satisfied with all the
arrangements that had been made for her comfort.

"I am in London on business of importance," she said; "and shall,
therefore, receive very little company; but I may have to hold many
interviews with men of business, and I trust that my affairs may not be
made the subject of curiosity or gossip, either in this house or
outside it."

Mr. Mulck declared that he was the last person in the world to talk;
and that his two servants were both elderly women, the very pink of
steadiness and propriety.

Having said this, he took his leave; and as he did so, stole one more
glance at the beautiful stranger.

She had fallen into an attitude which betrayed complete abstraction of
mind. Her elbow rested on the table by her side; her eyes were shaded
by her hand.

Upon that white, slender hand, Jacob Mulck saw diamonds such as are not
often seen upon the fingers of the inhabitants of Percy Street. Mr.
Mulck occasionally dealt in diamonds; and he knew enough about them to
perceive at a glance that the rings worn by his lodger were worth a
small fortune.

"Humph!" muttered Mr. Mulck, as he returned to his comfortable sitting-
room; "those diamonds tell a tale. There's something mysterious about
this lodger of mine. However, my rent will be safe--that's one

While the landlord was musing thus, the lodger was employed in a manner
which might well have awakened his curiosity, could he have beheld her
at that moment.

She had fallen on her knees before a low easy-chair--her face buried in
her hands, her slender frame shaken by passionate sobs.

"My child!" she exclaimed, in almost inarticulate murmurs; "my beloved,
my idol!--it is so bitter to be absent from you! so bitter! so bitter!"

* * * * *

Early on the morning after her arrival in London, Honoria Eversleigh,
otherwise Mrs. Eden, went in a cab to the office of an individual
called Andrew Larkspur, who occupied dingy chambers in Lyon's Inn.

The science of the detective officer had not, at that time, reached its
present state of perfection; but even then there were men who devoted
their lives to the work of private investigations, and the elucidation
of the strange secrets and mysteries of social life.

Such a man was Andrew Larkspur, late Bow Street runner, now hanger-on
of the new detective police. He was renowned for his skill in the
prosecution of secret service; and it was rumoured that he had amassed
a considerable fortune by his mysterious employment.

He was not a man who openly sought employers. His services were in
great request among a certain set of people, and he had little idle
time on his hands. His name was painted in dirty white letters on the
black door of his dingy chambers on a fourth story. On this door he
called himself, "_Andrew Larkspur, Commission Agent_."

It will be seen by-and-by how Honoria Eversleigh had become acquainted
with the fact of this man's existence.

She went alone to seek an interview with him. She had found herself
compelled to confide in Jane Payland to a very considerable extent; but
she did not tell that attendant more than she was obliged to tell of
the dark business which had brought her to London.

She was fortunate enough to find Mr. Andrew Larkspur alone, and
disengaged. He was a little, sandy-haired man, of some sixty years of
age, spare and wizened, with a sharp nose, like a beak, and thin, long
arms, ending in large, claw-like hands, that were like the talons of a
bird of prey. Altogether, Mr. Lark spur had very much of the aspect of
an elderly vulture which had undergone partial transformation into a
human being.

Honoria was in no way repelled by the aspect of this man. She saw that
he was clever; and fancied him the kind of person who would be likely
to serve her faithfully.

"I have been informed that you are skilled in the prosecution of secret
investigations," she said; "and I wish to secure your services
immediately. Are you at liberty to devote yourself to the task I wish
to be performed by you?"

Mr. Larkspur was a man who rarely answered even the simplest question
until he had turned the subject over in his mind, and carefully studied
every word that had been said to him.

He was a man who made caution the ruling principle of his life, and he
looked at every creature he encountered in the course of his career as
an individual more or less likely to take him in.

The boast of Mr. Larkspur was, that he never had been taken in.

"I've been very near it more than once," he said to his particular
friends, when he unbent so far as to be confidential.

"I've had some very narrow escapes of being taken in and done for as
neatly as you please. There are some artful dodgers, whose artful
dodging the oldest hand can scarcely guard against; but I'm proud to
say not one of those artful dodgers has ever yet been able to get the
better of me. Perhaps my time is to come, and I shall be bamboozled in
my old age."

Before replying to Honoria's inquiry, Andrew Larkspur studied her from
head to foot, with eyes whose sharp scrutiny would have been very
unpleasant to anyone who had occasion for concealment.

The result of the scrutiny seemed to be tolerably satisfactory, for Mr.
Larkspur at last replied to his visitor's question in a tone which for
him was extremely gracious.

"You want to know whether you can engage my services," he said; "that
depends upon circumstances."

"Upon what circumstances?"

"Whether you will be able to pay me. My hands are very full just now,
and I've about as much business as I can possibly get through."

"I shall want you to abandon all such business, and to devote yourself
exclusively to my service," said Honoria.

"The deuce you will!" exclaimed Mr. Larkspur. "Do you happen to know
what my time is worth?"

Mr. Larkspur looked positively outraged by the idea that any one could
suppose they could secure a monopoly of his valuable services.

"That is a question with which I have no concern," answered Honoria,
coolly. "The work which I require you to do will most likely occupy all
your time, and entirely absorb your attention. I am quite prepared to
pay you liberally for your services, and I shall leave you to name your
own terms. I shall rely on your honour as a man of business that those
terms will not be exorbitant, and I shall accede to them without
further question."

"Humph!" muttered the suspicious Andrew. "Do you know, ma'am, that
sounds almost too liberal? I'm an old stager, ma'am, and have seen a
good deal of life, and I have generally found that people who are ready
to promise so much beforehand, are apt not to give anything when their
work has been done."

"The fact that you have been cheated by swindlers is no reason why
should insult me," answered Honoria. "I wished to secure your services;
but I cannot continue an interview in which I find my offers met by
insolent objections. There are, no doubt, other people in London who
can assist me in the business I have in hand. I will wish you good

She rose, and was about to leave the room. Mr. Larkspur began to think
that he had been rather too cautious; and that perhaps, this plainly-
attired lady might be a very good customer.

"You must excuse me, ma'am," he said, "if I'm rather a suspicious old
chap. You see, it's the nature of my business to make a man suspicious.
If you can pay me for my time, I shall be willing to devote myself to
your service; for I'd much rather give my whole mind to one business,
than have ever so many odds and ends of affairs jostling each other in
my brain. But the fact of it is, ladies very seldom have any idea what
business is: however clever they may be in other matters--playing the
piano, working bead-mats and worsted slippers, and such like. Now, I
dare say you'll open your eyes uncommon wide when I tell you that my
business is worth nigh upon sixteen pound a week to me, taking good
with bad; and though you mayn't be aware of it, ma'am, having, no
doubt, given your mind exclusive to Berlin wool, and such like, sixteen
pound a week is eight hundred a year."

Mr. Larkspur, though not much given to surprise, was somewhat
astonished to perceive that his lady-visitor did not open her eyes any
wider on receiving this intelligence.

"If you have earned eight hundred a year by your profession," she
returned, quietly, "I will give you twenty pounds a week for your
exclusive services, and that will be a thousand and forty pounds a

This time, Andrew Larkspur was still more surprised, though he was so
completely master of himself as to conceal the smallest evidence of his

Here was a woman who had not devoted her mind to Berlin wool-work, and
whose arithmetic was irreproachable!

"Humph!" he muttered, too cautious to betray any appearance of
eagerness to accept an advantageous offer. "A thousand a year is very
well in its way; but how long is it to last? If I turn my back upon
this business here, it'll all tumble to pieces, and then, where shall I
be when you have done with me?"

"I will engage you for one year, certain."

"That won't do, ma'am; you must make it three years, certain."

"Very well; I am willing to do that," answered Honoria. "I shall, in
all probability, require your services for three years."

Mr. Larkspur regretted that he had not asked for an engagement of six

"Do you agree to those terms?" asked Honoria.

"Yes," answered the detective, with well-assumed indifference; "I
suppose I may as well accept those terms, though I dare say I might
make more money by leaving myself free to give my attention to anything
that might turn up. And now, how am I to be paid? You see, you're quite
a stranger to me."

"I am aware of that, and I do not ask you to trust me," replied
Honoria. "I will pay you eighty pounds a month."

"Eighty pounds a month of four weeks," interposed the cautious
Larkspur; "eighty pounds for the lunar month. That makes a difference,
you know, and it's just as well to be particular."

"Certainly!" answered Lady Eversleigh, with a half-contemptuous smile.
"You shall not be cheated. You shall receive your payment monthly, in
advance; and if you require security for the future, I can refer you to
my bankers. My name is Mrs. Eden--Harriet Eden, and I bank with Messrs.

The detective rubbed his hands with a air of gratification.

"Nothing could be more straightforward and business-like," he said.
"And when shall you require my services, Mrs. Eden?"

"Immediately. There is an apartment vacant in the house in which I
lodge. I should wish you to occupy that apartment, as you would thus be
always at hand when I had any communication to make to you. Would that
be possible?"

"Well, yes, ma'am, it would certainly be possible," replied Mr.
Larkspur, after the usual pause for reflection; "but I'm afraid I
should be obliged to make that an extra."

"You shall be paid whatever you require."

"Thank you, ma'am. You see, when a person of my age has been accustomed
to live in one place for a long time, it goes against him to change his
habits. However, to oblige you, I'll get together my little traps, and
shift my quarter to the lodging you speak of."

"Good. The house in question is No. 90, Percy Street, Tottenham Court

Mr. Larkspur was surprised to find that a lady who could afford to
offer him more than a thousand a year, was nevertheless contented to
live in such a middle-class situation as Percy Street.

"Can you go to the new lodging to-morrow?" asked Honoria.

"Well, no, ma'am; you must give me a week, if you please. I must wind
up some of the affairs I have been working upon, you see, and hand over
my clients to other people; and I must set my books in order. I've a
few very profitable affairs in hand, I assure you. There's one which
might have turned out a great prize, if I had been only able to carry
it through. But those sort of things all depend on time, you see,
ma'am. They're very slow. I have been about this one, off and on, for
over three years; and very little has come of it yet."

The detective was turning over one of his books mechanically as he said
this. It was a large ledger, filled with entries, in a queer, cramped
handwriting, dotted about, here and there, with mysterious marks in red
and blue ink. Mr. Larkspur stopped suddenly, as he turned the leaves,
his attention arrested by one particular page.

"Here it is," he said; "the very business I was speaking of. Five
hundred pounds for the discovery of the murderer, or murderers, of
Valentine Jernam, captain and owner of the 'Pizarro', whose body was
found in the river, below Wapping, on the third of April, 1836. That's
a very queer business, that is, and I've never had leisure to get very
deep into the rights and wrongs of it yet."

Mr. Larkspur looked up presently, and saw that his visitor's face had
grown white to the very lips.

"You knew Captain Jernam?" he said.

"No--yes, I knew him slightly; and the idea of his murder is very
shocking to me," answered Honoria, struggling with her agitation. "Do
you expect to discover the secret of that dreadful crime?"

"Well, I don't know about that," said Andrew Larkspur, with the
careless and business-like tone of a man to whom a murder is an
incident of trade. "You see, when these things have gone by for a long
time, without anything being found out about them, the secret generally
comes out by accident, if it ever comes out at all. There are cases in
which the secret never does come out; but there are not many such
cases. There's a deal in accident; and a man of my profession must be
always on the look-out for accident, or he'll lose a great many
chances. You see those red marks stuck here and there, among all that
writing in blue ink. Those red marks are set against the facts that
seem pretty clear and straightforward; the blue marks are set against
facts that seem dark. You see, there's more blue marks than red. That
means that it's a dark case."

Honoria Eversleigh bent over the old man's shoulder, and read a few
fragmentary lines, here and there, in the page beneath her.

"_Seen at the 'Jolly Tar', Ratcliff Highway, a low public-house
frequented by sailors. Seen with two men, Dennis Wayman, landlord of
the 'Jolly Tar,' and a man called Milson, or Milsom. The man Milson, or
Milsom, has since disappeared. Is believed to have been transported,
but is not to be heard of abroad._"

A little below these entries was another, which seemed to Honoria
Eversleigh to be inscribed in letters of fire:--

"Valentine Jernam was known to have fallen in love with a girl who
sang at the 'Jolly Tar' public-house, and it is supposed that he was
lured to his death by the agency of this girl. She is described as
about seventeen years of age, very handsome, dark eyes, dark hair--"

Mr. Larkspur closed the volume before Lady Eversleigh could read
further. She returned to her seat, still terribly pale, and with a
sickening pain at her heart.

All the shame and anguish of her early life, the unspeakable horror of
her girlhood, had been brought vividly back to her by the perusal of
the memoranda in the detective's ledger.

"I mean to try my luck yet at getting at the bottom of the mystery,"
said Andrew Larkspur. "Five hundred pounds reward is worth working for.
I--I've a notion that I shall lay my hands upon Valentine Jernam's
murderer sooner or later."

"Who offers the reward?" asked Honoria.

"Government offers one hundred of it; George Jernam four hundred more."

"Who is George Jernam?"

"The captain's younger brother--a merchant-captain himself--the owner
of several vessels, and, I believe, a rich man. He came here,
accompanied by a queer-looking fellow, called Joyce Harker--a kind of
clerk, I believe--who was very much attached to the murdered man."

"Yes--yes, I know," murmured Honoria.

She had been so terribly agitated by the mention of Valentine Jernam's
name, that her presence of mind had entirely abandoned her.

"You knew that humpbacked clerk!" exclaimed Mr. Larkspur.

"I have heard of him," she faltered.

There was a pause, during which Lady Eversleigh recovered in some
degree from the painful emotion caused by memories so unexpectedly

"I may as well give you some preliminary instructions to-day," she
said, re-assuming her business-like tone, "and I will write you a
cheque for the first month of your service."

Mr. Larkspur lost no time in providing his visitor with pen and ink.
She took a cheque-book from her pocket, and filled in a cheque for
eighty pounds in Andrew Larkspur's favour.

The cheque was signed "Harriet Eden."

"When you present that, you will be able to ascertain that your future
payments will be secure," she said.

She handed the cheque to Mr. Larkspur, who looked at it with an air of
assumed indifference, and slipped it carelessly into his waistcoat

"And now, ma'am," he said, "I am ready to receive your instructions."

"In the first place," said Honoria, "I must beg that you will on no
occasion attempt to pry into my motives, whatever I may require of

"That, ma'am, is understood. I have nothing to do with the motives of
my employers, and I care nothing about them."

"I am glad to hear that," replied Honoria. "The business in which I
require your aid is a very strange one; and the time may come when you
will be half-inclined to believe me mad. But, whatever I do, however
mysterious my actions may be, think always that a deeply rooted purpose
lies beneath them; and that every thought of my brain--every trivial
act of my life, will shape itself to one end."

"I ask no questions, ma'am."

"And you will serve me faithfully--blindly?"

"Yes, ma'am; both faithfully and blindly."

"I think I may trust you," replied Honoria, very earnestly "And now I
will speak freely. There are two men upon whose lives I desire to place
a spy. I want to know every act of their lives, every word they speak,
every secret of their hearts--I wish to be an unseen witness of their
lonely hours, an impalpable guest at every gathering in which they
mingle. I want to be near them always in spirit, if not in bodily
presence. I want to track them step by step, let their ways be never so
dark and winding. This is the purpose of my life; but I am a woman--
powerless to act freely--bound and fettered as women only are fettered.
Do you begin to understand now what I require of you."

"I think I do."

"Mr. Larkspur," continued Honoria, with energy. "I want you to be my
second self. I want you to be the shadow of these two men. Wherever
they go, you must follow--in some shape or other you must haunt them,
by night and day. It is, of course, a difficult task which I demand of
you. You have to decide whether it is impossible."

"Impossible! ma'am--not a bit of it. Nothing is impossible to a man who
has served twenty years' apprenticeship as a Bow Street runner. You
don't know what we old Bow Street hands can do when we're on our
mettle. I've heard a deal of talk about Fooshay, that was at the head
of Bonaparty's police--but bless your heart, ma'am, Fooshay was a fool
to us. I've done as much and more than what you talk of before to-day.
All you have to do is to give me the names and descriptions of the two
men I am to watch, and leave all the rest to me."

"One of these two men is Sir Reginald Eversleigh, Baronet, a man of
small fortune--a bachelor, occupying lodgings in Villiers Street. I
have reason to believe that he is dissipated, a gamester, and a

"Good," said Mr. Larkspur, who jotted down an occasional note in a
greasy little pocket-book.

"The second person is a medical practitioner, called Victor
Carrington--a Frenchman, but a perfect master of the English language,
and a man whose youth has been spent in England. The two men are firm
friends and constant associates. In keeping watch upon the actions of
one, you cannot fail to see much of the other.

"Very good, ma'am; you may make your mind easy," answered the
detective, as coolly as if he had just received the most common-place

He escorted Honoria to the door of his chambers, and left her to
descend the dingy staircase as best as she might.



Valentine Jernam's younger brother, George, had journeyed to and fro on
the high seas five years since the murder of the brave and generous-
hearted sea-captain.

Things had gone well with Captain George Jernam, and in the whole of
the trading navy there were few richer men than the owner of the
'Pizarro', 'Stormy Petrel', and 'Albatross'.

With these three vessels constantly afloat. George Jernam was on the
high road to fortune.

His life had not been by any means uneventful since the death of his
brother, though that mysterious calamity had taken away the zest from
his success for many a day, and though he no longer cherished the same
visions of a happy home in England, when his circumstances should have
become so prosperous as to enable him to "settle down." This same
process of settling down was one by no means congenial to George
Jernam's disposition at any time; and he was far less likely to take to
it kindly now, than when "dear old Val"--as he began to call his
brother in his thoughts once more, when the horror of the murder had
begun to wear off, and the lost friend seemed again familiar--had been
the prospective sharer of the retirement which was to be so tranquil,
so comfortable, and so well-earned. It had no attraction for George at
all; for many a long day after Joyce Harker's letter had reached him he
never dwelt upon it; he set his face hard against his grief, and worked
on, as men must work, fortunately for them, under all chances and
changes of this mortal life, until the last change of all. At first,
the thirst for revenge upon his brother's murderers had been hot and
strong upon George Jernam--almost as hot and strong as it had been, and
continued to be, upon Joyce Harker; but the natures of the men differed
materially. George Jernam had neither the dogged persistency nor the
latent fierceness of his dead brother's friend and protege; and the
long, slow, untiring watching to which Harker devoted himself would
have been a task so uncongenial as to be indeed impossible to the more
open, more congenial temperament of the merchant-captain.

He had responded warmly to Harker's letters; he had more than
sanctioned the outlay which he had made, in money paid and money
promised, to the skilled detective to whom Harker had entrusted the
investigation of the murder of Valentine Jernam. He had awaited every
communication with anxious interest and suspense, and he had never
landed after a voyage, and received the letters which awaited his
arrival, without a keen revival of the first sharp pang that had smote
him with the tidings of his brother's fate.

Happily George Jernam was a busy man, and his life was full of variety,
adventure, and incident. In time he began, not to forget, indeed, but
to remember less frequently and less painfully, the manner of his
brother's death, and to regard the fixed purpose of Joyce Harker's life
as more or less of a harmless delusion. A practical man in his own way,
George Jernam had very vague ideas concerning the lives of the criminal
classes, and the faculties and facilities of the science of detection;
and the hope of finding out the secret of his brother's fate had long
ago deserted him.

Only once had he and Joyce Harker met since the murder of Valentine
Jernam. George had landed a cargo at Hamburg, and had given his
brother's friend rendezvous there. Then the two men had talked of all
that had been done so vainly, and all that remained to be done, Harker
hoped, so effectively. Joyce had never been able to bring his
suspicions concerning Black Milsom to the test of proof. Unwearied

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