Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Purcell Papers, Volume 2 by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

Part 1 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Scanned by Charles Keller with
OmniPage Professional OCR software
donated by Caere Corporation, 1-800-535-7226.
Contact Mike Lough

THE
PURCELL PAPERS.

BY THE LATE
JOSEPH SHERIDAN LE FANU,
AUTHOR OF 'UNCLE SILAS.'

With a Memoir by
ALFRED PERCEVAL GRAVES

IN THREE VOLUMES.
VOL. II.

CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
----

PASSAGE IN THE SECRET HISTORY OF AN IRISH COUNTESS
THE BRIDAL OF CARRIGVARAH
STRANGE EVENT IN THE LIFE OF SCHALKEN THE PAINTER
SCRAPS OF HIBERNIAN BALLADS

THE PURCELL PAPERS.

PASSAGE IN THE
SECRET HISTORY OF AN IRISH
COUNTESS.

Being a Fifth Extract from the Legacy of the late Francis
Purcell, P.P. of Drumcoolagh.

The following paper is written in a
female hand, and was no doubt
communicated to my much-regretted
friend by the lady whose early
history it serves to illustrate, the Countess
D----. She is no more--she long since
died, a childless and a widowed wife, and,
as her letter sadly predicts, none survive
to whom the publication of this narrative
can prove 'injurious, or even painful.'
Strange! two powerful and wealthy
families, that in which she was born,
and that into which she had married,
have ceased to be--they are utterly
extinct.

To those who know anything of the
history of Irish families, as they were
less than a century ago, the facts which
immediately follow will at once suggest
THE NAMES of the principal actors; and to
others their publication would be useless--
to us, possibly, if not probably, injurious.
I have, therefore, altered such of the
names as might, if stated, get us into
difficulty; others, belonging to minor
characters in the strange story, I have left
untouched.

My dear friend,--You have asked me to
furnish you with a detail of the strange
events which marked my early history,
and I have, without hesitation, applied
myself to the task, knowing that, while I
live, a kind consideration for my feelings
will prevent your giving publicity to the
statement; and conscious that, when I am
no more, there will not survive one to
whom the narrative can prove injurious, or
even painful.

My mother died when I was quite an
infant, and of her I have no recollection,
even the faintest. By her death, my
education and habits were left solely to
the guidance of my surviving parent; and,
as far as a stern attention to my religious
instruction, and an active anxiety evinced
by his procuring for me the best masters
to perfect me in those accomplishments
which my station and wealth might seem
to require, could avail, he amply discharged
the task.

My father was what is called an oddity,
and his treatment of me, though uniformly
kind, flowed less from affection and
tenderness than from a sense of obligation
and duty. Indeed, I seldom even spoke
to him except at meal-times, and then his
manner was silent and abrupt; his
leisure hours, which were many, were
passed either in his study or in solitary
walks; in short, he seemed to take no
further interest in my happiness or
improvement than a conscientious regard to
the discharge of his own duty would seem
to claim.

Shortly before my birth a circumstance
had occurred which had contributed much
to form and to confirm my father's
secluded habits--it was the fact that a
suspicion of MURDER had fallen upon his
younger brother, though not sufficiently
definite to lead to an indictment, yet
strong enough to ruin him in public
opinion.

This disgraceful and dreadful doubt cast
upon the family name, my father felt
deeply and bitterly, and not the less so
that he himself was thoroughly convinced
of his brother's innocence. The sincerity
and strength of this impression he shortly
afterwards proved in a manner which
produced the dark events which follow.
Before, however, I enter upon the
statement of them, I ought to relate the
circumstances which had awakened the
suspicion; inasmuch as they are in themselves
somewhat curious, and, in their
effects, most intimately connected with my
after-history.

My uncle, Sir Arthur T----n, was a gay
and extravagant man, and, among other
vices, was ruinously addicted to gaming;
this unfortunate propensity, even after his
fortune had suffered so severely as to
render inevitable a reduction in his
expenses by no means inconsiderable,
nevertheless continued to actuate him, nearly
to the exclusion of all other pursuits; he
was, however, a proud, or rather a vain
man, and could not bear to make the
diminution of his income a matter of
gratulation and triumph to those with
whom he had hitherto competed, and the
consequence was, that he frequented no
longer the expensive haunts of dissipation,
and retired from the gay world, leaving
his coterie to discover his reasons as best
they might.

He did not, however, forego his
favourite vice, for, though he could not
worship his great divinity in the costly
temples where it was formerly his wont to
take his stand, yet he found it very
possible to bring about him a sufficient
number of the votaries of chance to
answer all his ends. The consequence
was, that Carrickleigh, which was the
name of my uncle's residence, was never
without one or more of such visitors as I
have described.

It happened that upon one occasion he
was visited by one Hugh Tisdall, a gentleman
of loose habits, but of considerable
wealth, and who had, in early youth,
travelled with my uncle upon the Con-
tinent; the period of his visit was winter,
and, consequently, the house was nearly
deserted excepting by its regular inmates;
it was therefore highly acceptable,
particularly as my uncle was aware that his
visitor's tastes accorded exactly with his
own.

Both parties seemed determined to
avail themselves of their suitability during
the brief stay which Mr. Tisdall had
promised; the consequence was, that they
shut themselves up in Sir Arthur's private
room for nearly all the day and the
greater part of the night, during the
space of nearly a week, at the end of
which the servant having one morning,
as usual, knocked at Mr. Tisdall's bed-
room door repeatedly, received no answer,
and, upon attempting to enter, found that
it was locked; this appeared suspicious,
and, the inmates of the house having been
alarmed, the door was forced open, and,
on proceeding to the bed, they found the
body of its occupant perfectly lifeless, and
hanging half-way out, the head downwards,
and near the floor. One deep
wound had been inflicted upon the temple,
apparently with some blunt instrument
which had penetrated the brain; and
another blow, less effective, probably the
first aimed, had grazed the head, removing
some of the scalp, but leaving the skull
untouched. The door had been double-
locked upon the INSIDE, in evidence of which
the key still lay where it had been placed
in the lock.

The window, though not secured on the
interior, was closed--a circumstance not a
little puzzling, as it afforded the only other
mode of escape from the room; it looked
out, too, upon a kind of courtyard, round
which the old buildings stood, formerly
accessible by a narrow doorway and passage
lying in the oldest side of the quadrangle,
but which had since been built up,
so as to preclude all ingress or egress; the
room was also upon the second story, and
the height of the window considerable.
Near the bed were found a pair of razors
belonging to the murdered man, one of
them upon the ground, and both of them
open. The weapon which had inflicted
the mortal wound was not to be found in
the room, nor were any footsteps or other
traces of the murderer discoverable.

At the suggestion of Sir Arthur
himself, a coroner was instantly summoned to
attend, and an inquest was held; nothing,
however, in any degree conclusive was
elicited; the walls, ceiling, and floor of the
room were carefully examined, in order to
ascertain whether they contained a trap-
door or other concealed mode of entrance
--but no such thing appeared.

Such was the minuteness of investigation
employed, that, although the grate
had contained a large fire during the night,
they proceeded to examine even the very
chimney, in order to discover whether
escape by it were possible; but this
attempt, too, was fruitless, for the chimney,
built in the old fashion, rose in a perfectly
perpendicular line from the hearth to a
height of nearly fourteen feet above the
roof, affording in its interior scarcely the
possibility of ascent, the flue being
smoothly plastered, and sloping towards
the top like an inverted funnel, promising,
too, even if the summit were attained,
owing to its great height, but a precarious
descent upon the sharp and steep-ridged
roof; the ashes, too, which lay in the
grate, and the soot, as far as it could be
seen, were undisturbed, a circumstance
almost conclusive of the question.

Sir Arthur was of course examined; his
evidence was given with clearness and
unreserve, which seemed calculated to silence
all suspicion. He stated that, up to the
day and night immediately preceding the
catastrophe, he had lost to a heavy
amount, but that, at their last sitting, he
had not only won back his original loss,
but upwards of four thousand pounds in
addition; in evidence of which he produced
an acknowledgment of debt to that
amount in the handwriting of the deceased,
and bearing the date of the fatal night.
He had mentioned the circumstance to his
lady, and in presence of some of the
domestics; which statement was
supported by THEIR respective evidence.

One of the jury shrewdly observed, that
the circumstance of Mr. Tisdall's having
sustained so heavy a loss might have
suggested to some ill-minded persons
accidentally hearing it, the plan of robbing
him, after having murdered him in such a
manner as might make it appear that he
had committed suicide; a supposition
which was strongly supported by the
razors having been found thus displaced,
and removed from their case. Two persons
had probably been engaged in the
attempt, one watching by the sleeping
man, and ready to strike him in case of
his awakening suddenly, while the other
was procuring the razors and employed in
inflicting the fatal gash, so as to make it
appear to have been the act of the
murdered man himself. It was said that
while the juror was making this suggestion
Sir Arthur changed colour.

Nothing, however, like legal evidence
appeared against him, and the consequence
was that the verdict was found against a
person or persons unknown; and for some
time the matter was suffered to rest, until,
after about five months, my father
received a letter from a person signing
himself Andrew Collis, and representing
himself to be the cousin of the deceased. This
letter stated that Sir Arthur was likely to
incur not merely suspicion, but personal
risk, unless he could account for certain
circumstances connected with the recent
murder, and contained a copy of a letter
written by the deceased, and bearing date,
the day of the week, and of the month,
upon the night of which the deed of blood
had been perpetrated. Tisdall's note ran
as follows:

'DEAR COLLIS,
'I have had sharp work with Sir
Arthur; he tried some of his stale tricks,
but soon found that _I_ was Yorkshire too:
it would not do--you understand me. We
went to the work like good ones, head,
heart and soul; and, in fact, since I came
here, I have lost no time. I am rather
fagged, but I am sure to be well paid for
my hardship; I never want sleep so long
as I can have the music of a dice-box, and
wherewithal to pay the piper. As I told
you, he tried some of his queer turns, but
I foiled him like a man, and, in return,
gave him more than he could relish of the
genuine DEAD KNOWLEDGE.

'In short, I have plucked the old
baronet as never baronet was plucked before;
I have scarce left him the stump of
a quill; I have got promissory notes in his
hand to the amount of--if you like round
numbers, say, thirty thousand pounds,
safely deposited in my portable strong-
box, alias double-clasped pocket-book. I
leave this ruinous old rat-hole early on to-
morrow, for two reasons--first, I do not
want to play with Sir Arthur deeper than
I think his security, that is, his money, or
his money's worth, would warrant; and,
secondly, because I am safer a hundred
miles from Sir Arthur than in the house
with him. Look you, my worthy, I tell
you this between ourselves--I may be
wrong, but, by G--, I am as sure as that I
am now living, that Sir A---- attempted
to poison me last night; so much for old
friendship on both sides.

'When I won the last stake, a heavy one
enough, my friend leant his forehead upon
his hands, and you'll laugh when I tell
you that his head literally smoked like a
hot dumpling. I do not know whether his
agitation was produced by the plan which
he had against me, or by his having lost so
heavily--though it must be allowed that he
had reason to be a little funked, whichever
way his thoughts went; but he pulled the
bell, and ordered two bottles of
champagne. While the fellow was bringing
them he drew out a promissory note to the
full amount, which he signed, and, as the
man came in with the bottles and glasses,
he desired him to be off; he filled out a
glass for me, and, while he thought my
eyes were off, for I was putting up his note
at the time, he dropped something slyly
into it, no doubt to sweeten it; but I saw
it all, and, when he handed it to me, I
said, with an emphasis which he might or
might not understand:

' "There is some sediment in this; I'll
not drink it."

' "Is there?" said he, and at the same
time snatched it from my hand and threw
it into the fire. What do you think of
that? have I not a tender chicken to
manage? Win or lose, I will not play
beyond five thousand to-night, and to-
morrow sees me safe out of the reach of
Sir Arthur's champagne. So, all things
considered, I think you must allow that
you are not the last who have found a
knowing boy in
'Yours to command,
'HUGH TISDALL.'

Of the authenticity of this document I
never heard my father express a doubt;
and I am satisfied that, owing to his
strong conviction in favour of his brother,
he would not have admitted it without
sufficient inquiry, inasmuch as it tended to
confirm the suspicions which already
existed to his prejudice.

Now, the only point in this letter which
made strongly against my uncle, was the
mention of the 'double-clasped pocket-
book' as the receptacle of the papers
likely to involve him, for this pocket-book
was not forthcoming, nor anywhere to be
found, nor had any papers referring to his
gaming transactions been found upon the
dead man. However, whatever might have
been the original intention of this Collis,
neither my uncle nor my father ever heard
more of him; but he published the letter
in Faulkner's newspaper, which was shortly
afterwards made the vehicle of a much
more mysterious attack. The passage in
that periodical to which I allude, occurred
about four years afterwards, and while the
fatal occurrence was still fresh in public
recollection. It commenced by a rambling
preface, stating that 'a CERTAIN PERSON
whom CERTAIN persons thought to be dead,
was not so, but living, and in full possession
of his memory, and moreover ready
and able to make GREAT delinquents
tremble.' It then went on to describe the
murder, without, however, mentioning
names; and in doing so, it entered into
minute and circumstantial particulars of
which none but an EYE-WITNESS could have
been possessed, and by implications almost
too unequivocal to be regarded in the light
of insinuation, to involve the 'TITLED
GAMBLER' in the guilt of the transaction.

My father at once urged Sir Arthur to
proceed against the paper in an action of
libel; but he would not hear of it, nor
consent to my father's taking any legal
steps whatever in the matter. My father,
however, wrote in a threatening tone to
Faulkner, demanding a surrender of the
author of the obnoxious article. The
answer to this application is still in my
possession, and is penned in an apologetic
tone: it states that the manuscript had
been handed in, paid for, and inserted as
an advertisement, without sufficient
inquiry, or any knowledge as to whom it
referred.

No step, however, was taken to clear
my uncle's character in the judgment of
the public; and as he immediately sold a
small property, the application of the
proceeds of which was known to none, he
was said to have disposed of it to enable
himself to buy off the threatened information.
However the truth might have been,
it is certain that no charges respecting the
mysterious murder were afterwards publicly
made against my uncle, and, as far as
external disturbances were concerned, he
enjoyed henceforward perfect security and
quiet.

A deep and lasting impression, however,
had been made upon the public mind, and
Sir Arthur T----n was no longer visited
or noticed by the gentry and aristocracy of
the county, whose attention and courtesies
he had hitherto received. He accordingly
affected to despise these enjoyments which
he could not procure, and shunned even
that society which he might have commanded.

This is all that I need recapitulate of my
uncle's history, and I now recur to my own.
Although my father had never, within my
recollection, visited, or been visited by, my
uncle, each being of sedentary, procrastinating,
and secluded habits, and their respective
residences being very far apart--
the one lying in the county of Galway, the
other in that of Cork--he was strongly
attached to his brother, and evinced his
affection by an active correspondence, and
by deeply and proudly resenting that
neglect which had marked Sir Arthur as
unfit to mix in society.

When I was about eighteen years of
age, my father, whose health had been
gradually declining, died, leaving me in
heart wretched and desolate, and, owing to
his previous seclusion, with few acquaintances,
and almost no friends.

The provisions of his will were curious,
and when I had sufficiently come to myself
to listen to or comprehend them,
surprised me not a little: all his vast property
was left to me, and to the heirs of my
body, for ever; and, in default of such
heirs, it was to go after my death to my
uncle, Sir Arthur, without any entail.

At the same time, the will appointed
him my guardian, desiring that I might be
received within his house, and reside with
his family, and under his care, during the
term of my minority; and in consideration
of the increased expense consequent upon
such an arrangement, a handsome annuity
was allotted to him during the term of my
proposed residence.

The object of this last provision I at
once understood: my father desired, by
making it the direct, apparent interest of
Sir Arthur that I should die without
issue, while at the same time he placed me
wholly in his power, to prove to the world
how great and unshaken was his
confidence in his brother's innocence and
honour, and also to afford him an
opportunity of showing that this mark of
confidence was not unworthily bestowed.

It was a strange, perhaps an idle
scheme; but as I had been always brought
up in the habit of considering my uncle as
a deeply-injured man, and had been taught,
almost as a part of my religion, to regard
him as the very soul of honour, I felt no
further uneasiness respecting the arrangement
than that likely to result to a timid
girl, of secluded habits, from the immediate
prospect of taking up her abode for the
first time in her life among total strangers.
Previous to leaving my home, which I felt
I should do with a heavy heart, I re-
ceived a most tender and affectionate letter
from my uncle, calculated, if anything
could do so, to remove the bitterness of
parting from scenes familiar and dear from
my earliest childhood, and in some degree
to reconcile me to the measure.

It was during a fine autumn that I
approached the old domain of Carrickleigh.
I shall not soon forget the impression of
sadness and of gloom which all that I saw
produced upon my mind; the sunbeams
were falling with a rich and melancholy
tint upon the fine old trees, which stood in
lordly groups, casting their long, sweeping
shadows over rock and sward. There was
an air of neglect and decay about the spot,
which amounted almost to desolation; the
symptoms of this increased in number as
we approached the building itself, near
which the ground had been originally more
artificially and carefully cultivated than
elsewhere, and whose neglect consequently
more immediately and strikingly betrayed
itself.

As we proceeded, the road wound near
the beds of what had been formally two
fish-ponds, which were now nothing more
than stagnant swamps, overgrown with
rank weeds, and here and there encroached
upon by the straggling underwood; the
avenue itself was much broken, and in
many places the stones were almost
concealed by grass and nettles; the loose
stone walls which had here and there
intersected the broad park were, in many
places, broken down, so as no longer to
answer their original purpose as fences;
piers were now and then to be seen, but
the gates were gone; and, to add to the
general air of dilapidation, some huge
trunks were lying scattered through the
venerable old trees, either the work of the
winter storms, or perhaps the victims of
some extensive but desultory scheme of
denudation, which the projector had not
capital or perseverance to carry into full
effect.

After the carriage had travelled a mile
of this avenue, we reached the summit of
rather an abrupt eminence, one of the
many which added to the picturesqueness,
if not to the convenience of this rude
passage. From the top of this ridge the
grey walls of Carrickleigh were visible,
rising at a small distance in front, and
darkened by the hoary wood which
crowded around them. It was a quadrangular
building of considerable extent,
and the front which lay towards us, and
in which the great entrance was placed,
bore unequivocal marks of antiquity; the
time-worn, solemn aspect of the old building,
the ruinous and deserted appearance
of the whole place, and the associations
which connected it with a dark page in the
history of my family, combined to depress
spirits already predisposed for the reception
of sombre and dejecting impressions.

When the carriage drew up in the grass-
grown court yard before the hall-door, two
lazy-looking men, whose appearance well
accorded with that of the place which they
tenanted, alarmed by the obstreperous
barking of a great chained dog, ran out
from some half-ruinous out-houses, and
took charge of the horses; the hall-door
stood open, and I entered a gloomy and
imperfectly lighted apartment, and found
no one within. However, I had not long
to wait in this awkward predicament, for
before my luggage had been deposited in
the house, indeed, before I had well
removed my cloak and other wraps, so as
to enable me to look around, a young girl
ran lightly into the hall, and kissing me
heartily, and somewhat boisterously,
exclaimed:

'My dear cousin, my dear Margaret--
I am so delighted--so out of breath. We
did not expect you till ten o'clock; my
father is somewhere about the place, he
must be close at hand. James--Corney
--run out and tell your master--my
brother is seldom at home, at least at any
reasonable hour--you must be so tired--so
fatigued--let me show you to your room--
see that Lady Margaret's luggage is all
brought up--you must lie down and rest
yourself--Deborah, bring some coffee--up
these stairs; we are so delighted to see
you--you cannot think how lonely I have
been--how steep these stairs are, are not
they? I am so glad you are come--I
could hardly bring myself to believe that
you were really coming--how good of you,
dear Lady Margaret.'

There was real good-nature and delight
in my cousin's greeting, and a kind of
constitutional confidence of manner which
placed me at once at ease, and made me
feel immediately upon terms of intimacy
with her. The room into which she
ushered me, although partaking in the
general air of decay which pervaded the
mansion and all about it, had nevertheless
been fitted up with evident attention to
comfort, and even with some dingy attempt
at luxury; but what pleased me most was
that it opened, by a second door, upon a
lobby which communicated with my fair
cousin's apartment; a circumstance which
divested the room, in my eyes, of the air
of solitude and sadness which would otherwise
have characterised it, to a degree
almost painful to one so dejected in spirits
as I was.

After such arrangements as I found
necessary were completed, we both went
down to the parlour, a large wainscoted
room, hung round with grim old portraits,
and, as I was not sorry to see, containing
in its ample grate a large and cheerful
fire. Here my cousin had leisure to talk
more at her ease; and from her I learned
something of the manners and the habits
of the two remaining members of her
family, whom I had not yet seen.

On my arrival I had known nothing of
the family among whom I was come to
reside, except that it consisted of three
individuals, my uncle, and his son and
daughter, Lady T----n having been long
dead. In addition to this very scanty stock
of information, I shortly learned from my
communicative companion that my uncle
was, as I had suspected, completely retired
in his habits, and besides that, having been
so far back as she could well recollect,
always rather strict, as reformed rakes
frequently become, he had latterly been
growing more gloomily and sternly
religious than heretofore.

Her account of her brother was far less
favourable, though she did not say anything
directly to his disadvantage. From all
that I could gather from her, I was led to
suppose that he was a specimen of the idle,
coarse-mannered, profligate, low-minded
'squirearchy'--a result which might
naturally have flowed from the circum-
stance of his being, as it were, outlawed
from society, and driven for companionship
to grades below his own--enjoying,
too, the dangerous prerogative of spending
much money.

However, you may easily suppose that
I found nothing in my cousin's communication
fully to bear me out in so very
decided a conclusion.

I awaited the arrival of my uncle,
which was every moment to be expected,
with feelings half of alarm, half of
curiosity--a sensation which I have often
since experienced, though to a less degree,
when upon the point of standing for the
first time in the presence of one of whom
I have long been in the habit of hearing
or thinking with interest.

It was, therefore, with some little
perturbation that I heard, first a slight
bustle at the outer door, then a slow step
traverse the hall, and finally witnessed the
door open, and my uncle enter the room.
He was a striking-looking man; from
peculiarities both of person and of garb, the
whole effect of his appearance amounted
to extreme singularity. He was tall, and
when young his figure must have been
strikingly elegant; as it was, however, its
effect was marred by a very decided stoop.
His dress was of a sober colour, and in
fashion anterior to anything which I could
remember. It was, however, handsome,
and by no means carelessly put on; but
what completed the singularity of his
appearance was his uncut, white hair,
which hung in long, but not at all
neglected curls, even so far as his shoulders,
and which combined with his regularly
classic features, and fine dark eyes, to
bestow upon him an air of venerable
dignity and pride, which I have never seen
equalled elsewhere. I rose as he entered,
and met him about the middle of the
room; he kissed my cheek and both my
hands, saying:

'You are most welcome, dear child, as
welcome as the command of this poor
place and all that it contains can make
you. I am most rejoiced to see you--
truly rejoiced. I trust that you are not
much fatigued--pray be seated again.'
He led me to my chair, and continued: 'I
am glad to perceive you have made
acquaintance with Emily already; I see,
in your being thus brought together, the
foundation of a lasting friendship. You
are both innocent, and both young. God
bless you--God bless you, and make you
all that I could wish.'

He raised his eyes, and remained for a
few moments silent, as if in secret prayer.
I felt that it was impossible that this man,
with feelings so quick, so warm, so tender,
could be the wretch that public opinion
had represented him to be. I was more
than ever convinced of his innocence.

His manner was, or appeared to me,
most fascinating; there was a mingled
kindness and courtesy in it which seemed
to speak benevolence itself. It was a
manner which I felt cold art could never
have taught; it owed most of its charm to
its appearing to emanate directly from the
heart; it must be a genuine index of the
owner's mind. So I thought.

My uncle having given me fully to
understand that I was most welcome, and
might command whatever was his own,
pressed me to take some refreshment; and
on my refusing, he observed that previously
to bidding me good-night, he had one duty
further to perform, one in whose observance
he was convinced I would cheerfully
acquiesce.

He then proceeded to read a chapter
from the Bible; after which he took his
leave with the same affectionate kindness
with which he had greeted me, having
repeated his desire that I should consider
everything in his house as altogether at
my disposal. It is needless to say that I
was much pleased with my uncle--it was
impossible to avoid being so; and I could
not help saying to myself, if such a man
as this is not safe from the assaults of
slander, who is? I felt much happier than
I had done since my father's death, and
enjoyed that night the first refreshing
sleep which had visited me since that event.

My curiosity respecting my male cousin
did not long remain unsatisfied--he
appeared the next day at dinner. His
manners, though not so coarse as I had
expected, were exceedingly disagreeable;
there was an assurance and a forwardness
for which I was not prepared; there
was less of the vulgarity of manner, and
almost more of that of the mind, than I
had anticipated. I felt quite uncomfortable
in his presence; there was just that
confidence in his look and tone which
would read encouragement even in mere
toleration; and I felt more disgusted and
annoyed at the coarse and extravagant
compliments which he was pleased from
time to time to pay me, than perhaps the
extent of the atrocity might fully have
warranted. It was, however, one consolation
that he did not often appear, being
much engrossed by pursuits about which I
neither knew nor cared anything; but
when he did appear, his attentions, either
with a view to his amusement or to some
more serious advantage, were so obviously
and perseveringly directed to me, that
young and inexperienced as I was, even _I_
could not be ignorant of his preference. I
felt more provoked by this odious persecution
than I can express, and discouraged
him with so much vigour, that I employed
even rudeness to convince him that his
assiduities were unwelcome; but all in
vain.

This had gone on for nearly a twelve-
month, to my infinite annoyance, when one
day as I was sitting at some needle-work
with my companion Emily, as was my
habit, in the parlour, the door opened,
and my cousin Edward entered the room.
There was something, I thought, odd in
his manner--a kind of struggle between
shame and impudence--a kind of flurry
and ambiguity which made him appear,
if possible, more than ordinarily disagreeable.

'Your servant, ladies,' he said, seating
himself at the same time; 'sorry to spoil
your tete-a-tete, but never mind, I'll only
take Emily's place for a minute or two;
and then we part for a while, fair cousin.
Emily, my father wants you in the corner
turret. No shilly-shally; he's in a hurry.'
She hesitated. 'Be off--tramp, march!'
he exclaimed, in a tone which the poor girl
dared not disobey.

She left the room, and Edward followed
her to the door. He stood there for a
minute or two, as if reflecting what he
should say, perhaps satisfying himself
that no one was within hearing in the
hall.

At length he turned about, having closed
the door, as if carelessly, with his foot; and
advancing slowly, as if in deep thought, he
took his seat at the side of the table
opposite to mine.

There was a brief interval of silence,
after which he said:

'I imagine that you have a shrewd
suspicion of the object of my early visit; but
I suppose I must go into particulars.
Must I?'

'I have no conception,' I replied, 'what
your object may be.'

'Well, well,' said he, becoming more at
his ease as he proceeded, 'it may be told in
a few words. You know that it is totally
impossible--quite out of the question--
that an offhand young fellow like me, and
a good-looking girl like yourself, could
meet continually, as you and I have done,
without an attachment--a liking growing
up on one side or other; in short, I think
I have let you know as plain as if I spoke
it, that I have been in love with you
almost from the first time I saw
you.'

He paused; but I was too much horrified
to speak. He interpreted my silence
favourably.

'I can tell you,' he continued, 'I'm
reckoned rather hard to please, and very
hard to HIT. I can't say when I was taken
with a girl before; so you see fortune
reserved me----'

Here the odious wretch wound his arm
round my waist. The action at once
restored me to utterance, and with the most
indignant vehemence I released myself
from his hold, and at the same time
said:

'I have not been insensible, sir, of your
most disagreeable attentions--they have
long been a source of much annoyance to
me; and you must be aware that I have
marked my disapprobation--my disgust--
as unequivocally as I possibly could, without
actual indelicacy.'

I paused, almost out of breath from the
rapidity with which I had spoken; and
without giving him time to renew the
conversation, I hastily quitted the room,
leaving him in a paroxysm of rage and
mortification. As I ascended the stairs,
I heard him open the parlour-door with
violence, and take two or three rapid strides
in the direction in which I was moving. I
was now much frightened, and ran the
whole way until I reached my room; and
having locked the door, I listened breathlessly,
but heard no sound. This relieved
me for the present; but so much had I
been overcome by the agitation and annoyance
attendant upon the scene which I had
just gone through, that when my cousin
Emily knocked at my door, I was weeping
in strong hysterics.

You will readily conceive my distress,
when you reflect upon my strong dislike to
my cousin Edward, combined with my
youth and extreme inexperience. Any
proposal of such a nature must have
agitated me; but that it should have come
from the man whom of all others I most
loathed and abhorred, and to whom I had,
as clearly as manner could do it, expressed
the state of my feelings, was almost too
overwhelming to be borne. It was a calamity,
too, in which I could not claim the sym-
pathy of my cousin Emily, which had
always been extended to me in my minor
grievances. Still I hoped that it might
not be unattended with good; for I
thought that one inevitable and most
welcome consequence would result from
this painful eclaircissment, in the
discontinuance of my cousin's odious
persecution.

When I arose next morning, it was with
the fervent hope that I might never again
behold the face, or even hear the name, of
my cousin Edward; but such a consummation,
though devoutly to be wished, was
hardly likely to occur. The painful
impressions of yesterday were too vivid to
be at once erased; and I could not help
feeling some dim foreboding of coming
annoyance and evil.

To expect on my cousin's part anything
like delicacy or consideration for me, was
out of the question. I saw that he had
set his heart upon my property, and that
he was not likely easily to forego such an
acquisition--possessing what might have
been considered opportunities and facilities
almost to compel my compliance.

I now keenly felt the unreasonableness
of my father's conduct in placing me to
reside with a family of all whose members,
with one exception, he was wholly
ignorant, and I bitterly felt the helplessness
of my situation. I determined, however,
in case of my cousin's persevering in
his addresses, to lay all the particulars
before my uncle, although he had never in
kindness or intimacy gone a step beyond
our first interview, and to throw myself
upon his hospitality and his sense of honour
for protection against a repetition of such
scenes.

My cousin's conduct may appear to have
been an inadequate cause for such serious
uneasiness; but my alarm was caused
neither by his acts nor words, but entirely
by his manner, which was strange and even
intimidating to excess. At the beginning
of the yesterday's interview there was a
sort of bullying swagger in his air, which
towards the end gave place to the brutal
vehemence of an undisguised ruffian--a
transition which had tempted me into a belief
that he might seek even forcibly to extort
from me a consent to his wishes, or by
means still more horrible, of which I
scarcely dared to trust myself to think,
to possess himself of my property.

I was early next day summoned to attend
my uncle in his private room, which lay in
a corner turret of the old building; and
thither I accordingly went, wondering all
the way what this unusual measure might
prelude. When I entered the room, he
did not rise in his usual courteous way to
greet me, but simply pointed to a chair
opposite to his own. This boded nothing
agreeable. I sat down, however, silently
waiting until he should open the conversation.

'Lady Margaret,' at length he said, in a
tone of greater sternness than I thought
him capable of using, 'I have hitherto
spoken to you as a friend, but I have not
forgotten that I am also your guardian,
and that my authority as such gives me a
right to control your conduct. I shall
put a question to you, and I expect and
will demand a plain, direct answer. Have
I rightly been informed that you have con-
temptuously rejected the suit and hand of
my son Edward?'

I stammered forth with a good deal of
trepidation:

'I believe--that is, I have, sir, rejected
my cousin's proposals; and my coldness
and discouragement might have
convinced him that I had determined to
do so.'

'Madam,' replied he, with suppressed,
but, as it appeared to me, intense anger,
'I have lived long enough to know that
COLDNESS and discouragement, and such
terms, form the common cant of a worthless
coquette. You know to the full, as
well as I, that COLDNESS AND DISCOURAGEMENT
may be so exhibited as to convince
their object that he is neither distasteful
or indifferent to the person who wears this
manner. You know, too, none better, that
an affected neglect, when skilfully managed,
is amongst the most formidable of the
engines which artful beauty can employ.
I tell you, madam, that having, without
one word spoken in discouragement,
permitted my son's most marked attentions
for a twelvemonth or more, you have no
right to dismiss him with no further
explanation than demurely telling him that
you had always looked coldly upon him;
and neither your wealth nor your LADYSHIP'
(there was an emphasis of scorn on the
word, which would have become Sir
Giles Overreach himself) 'can warrant you
in treating with contempt the affectionate
regard of an honest heart.'

I was too much shocked at this undisguised
attempt to bully me into an acquiescence
in the interested and unprincipled
plan for their own aggrandisement, which
I now perceived my uncle and his son to
have deliberately entered into, at once to
find strength or collectedness to frame an
answer to what he had said. At length I
replied, with some firmness:

'In all that you have just now said, sir,
you have grossly misstated my conduct and
motives. Your information must have been
most incorrect as far as it regards my
conduct towards my cousin; my manner
towards him could have conveyed nothing
but dislike; and if anything could have
added to the strong aversion which I
have long felt towards him, it would be
his attempting thus to trick and frighten
me into a marriage which he knows to be
revolting to me, and which is sought by
him only as a means for securing to
himself whatever property is mine.'

As I said this, I fixed my eyes upon
those of my uncle, but he was too old in
the world's ways to falter beneath the
gaze of more searching eyes than mine; he
simply said:

'Are you acquainted with the provisions
of your father's will?'

I answered in the affirmative; and he
continued:

'Then you must be aware that if my
son Edward were--which God forbid--the
unprincipled, reckless man you pretend to
think him'--(here he spoke very slowly,
as if he intended that every word which
escaped him should be registered in my
memory, while at the same time the
expression of his countenance underwent a
gradual but horrible change, and the eyes
which he fixed upon me became so darkly
vivid, that I almost lost sight of everything
else)--'if he were what you have
described him, think you, girl, he could
find no briefer means than wedding
contracts to gain his ends? 'twas but to gripe
your slender neck until the breath had
stopped, and lands, and lakes, and all were
his.'

I stood staring at him for many minutes
after he had ceased to speak, fascinated
by the terrible serpent-like gaze, until he
continued with a welcome change of countenance:

'I will not speak again to you upon this
--topic until one month has passed. You
shall have time to consider the relative
advantages of the two courses which are
open to you. I should be sorry to hurry
you to a decision. I am satisfied with
having stated my feelings upon the subject,
and pointed out to you the path of duty.
Remember this day month--not one word
sooner.'

He then rose, and I left the room, much
agitated and exhausted.

This interview, all the circumstances
attending it, but most particularly the
formidable expression of my uncle's
countenance while he talked, though hypothetically,
of murder, combined to arouse all
my worst suspicions of him. I dreaded to
look upon the face that had so recently
worn the appalling livery of guilt and
malignity. I regarded it with the
mingled fear and loathing with which one
looks upon an object which has tortured
them in a nightmare.

In a few days after the interview, the
particulars of which I have just related, I
found a note upon my toilet-table, and on
opening it I read as follows:

'MY DEAR LADY MARGARET,
'You will be perhaps surprised to
see a strange face in your room to-day. I
have dismissed your Irish maid, and
secured a French one to wait upon you--a
step rendered necessary by my proposing
shortly to visit the Continent, with all my
family.
'Your faithful guardian,
'ARTHUR T----N.'

On inquiry, I found that my faithful
attendant was actually gone, and far on
her way to the town of Galway; and in
her stead there appeared a tall, raw-boned,
ill-looking, elderly Frenchwoman, whose
sullen and presuming manners seemed to
imply that her vocation had never before
been that of a lady's-maid. I could not
help regarding her as a creature of my
uncle's, and therefore to be dreaded,
even had she been in no other way suspicious.

Days and weeks passed away without
any, even a momentary doubt upon my
part, as to the course to be pursued by me.
The allotted period had at length elapsed;
the day arrived on which I was to
communicate my decision to my uncle.
Although my resolution had never for a
moment wavered, I could not shake of
the dread of the approaching colloquy;
and my heart sunk within me as I heard
the expected summons.

I had not seen my cousin Edward since
the occurrence of the grand eclaircissment;
he must have studiously avoided
me--I suppose from policy, it could not
have been from delicacy. I was prepared
for a terrific burst of fury from my uncle,
as soon as I should make known my
determination; and I not unreasonably
feared that some act of violence or of
intimidation would next be resorted to.

Filled with these dreary forebodings, I
fearfully opened the study door, and the
next minute I stood in my uncle's
presence. He received me with a politeness
which I dreaded, as arguing a favourable
anticipation respecting the answer
which I was to give; and after some slight
delay, he began by saying:

'It will be a relief to both of us, I
believe, to bring this conversation as soon
as possible to an issue. You will excuse
me, then, my dear niece, for speaking with
an abruptness which, under other
circumstances, would be unpardonable. You
have, I am certain, given the subject of
our last interview fair and serious con-
sideration; and I trust that you are now
prepared with candour to lay your answer
before me. A few words will suffice--we
perfectly understand one another.'

He paused, and I, though feeling that I
stood upon a mine which might in an
instant explode, nevertheless answered with
perfect composure:

'I must now, sir, make the same reply
which I did upon the last occasion, and I
reiterate the declaration which I then
made, that I never can nor will, while life
and reason remain, consent to a union with
my cousin Edward.'

This announcement wrought no apparent
change in Sir Arthur, except that he
became deadly, almost lividly pale. He
seemed lost in dark thought for a minute,
and then with a slight effort said:

'You have answered me honestly and
directly; and you say your resolution is
unchangeable. Well, would it had been
otherwise--would it had been otherwise--
but be it as it is--I am satisfied.'

He gave me his hand--it was cold and
damp as death; under an assumed calmness,
it was evident that he was fearfully
agitated. He continued to hold my hand
with an almost painful pressure, while, as
if unconsciously, seeming to forget my
presence, he muttered:

'Strange, strange, strange, indeed!
fatuity, helpless fatuity!' there was here a
long pause. 'Madness INDEED to strain a
cable that is rotten to the very heart--it
must break--and then--all goes.'

There was again a pause of some
minutes, after which, suddenly changing
his voice and manner to one of wakeful
alacrity, he exclaimed:

'Margaret, my son Edward shall plague
you no more. He leaves this country on
to-morrow for France--he shall speak no
more upon this subject--never, never
more--whatever events depended upon
your answer must now take their own
course; but, as for this fruitless proposal, it
has been tried enough; it can be repeated
no more.'

At these words he coldly suffered my
hand to drop, as if to express his total
abandonment of all his projected schemes
of alliance; and certainly the action, with
the accompanying words, produced upon
my mind a more solemn and depressing
effect than I believed possible to have
been caused by the course which I had
determined to pursue; it struck upon my
heart with an awe and heaviness which
WILL accompany the accomplishment of an
important and irrevocable act, even though
no doubt or scruple remains to make it
possible that the agent should wish it undone.

'Well,' said my uncle, after a little time,
'we now cease to speak upon this topic,
never to resume it again. Remember you
shall have no farther uneasiness from
Edward; he leaves Ireland for France on
to-morrow; this will be a relief to you.
May I depend upon your HONOUR that no
word touching the subject of this interview
shall ever escape you?'

I gave him the desired assurance; he
said:

'It is well--I am satisfied--we have
nothing more, I believe, to say upon
either side, and my presence must be a
restraint upon you, I shall therefore bid
you farewell.'

I then left the apartment, scarcely
knowing what to think of the strange
interview which had just taken place.

On the next day my uncle took occasion
to tell me that Edward had actually
sailed, if his intention had not been
interfered with by adverse circumstances; and
two days subsequently he actually produced
a letter from his son, written, as it
said, ON BOARD, and despatched while the
ship was getting under weigh. This was
a great satisfaction to me, and as being
likely to prove so, it was no doubt
communicated to me by Sir Arthur.

During all this trying period, I had
found infinite consolation in the society
and sympathy of my dear cousin Emily.
I never in after-life formed a friendship so
close, so fervent, and upon which, in all its
progress, I could look back with feelings
of such unalloyed pleasure, upon whose
termination I must ever dwell with so
deep, yet so unembittered regret. In
cheerful converse with her I soon
recovered my spirits considerably, and
passed my time agreeably enough,
although still in the strictest seclusion.

Matters went on sufficiently smooth,
although I could not help sometimes
feeling a momentary, but horrible
uncertainty respecting my uncle's character;
which was not altogether unwarranted by
the circumstances of the two trying
interviews whose particulars I have just
detailed. The unpleasant impression which
these conferences were calculated to leave
upon my mind, was fast wearing away,
when there occurred a circumstance, slight
indeed in itself, but calculated irresistibly
to awaken all my worst suspicions, and to
overwhelm me again with anxiety and
terror.

I had one day left the house with my
cousin Emily, in order to take a ramble of
considerable length, for the purpose of
sketching some favourite views, and we
had walked about half a mile when I
perceived that we had forgotten our drawing
materials, the absence of which would have
defeated the object of our walk. Laughing
at our own thoughtlessness, we returned
to the house, and leaving Emily without, I
ran upstairs to procure the drawing-books
and pencils, which lay in my bedroom.

As I ran up the stairs I was met by the
tall, ill-looking Frenchwoman, evidently
a good deal flurried.

'Que veut, madame?' said she, with a
more decided effort to be polite than I had
ever known her make before.

'No, no--no matter,' said I, hastily
running by her in the direction of my
room.

'Madame,' cried she, in a high key,
'restez ici, s'il vous plait; votre chambre
n'est pas faite--your room is not ready
for your reception yet.'

I continued to move on without heeding
her. She was some way behind me, and
feeling that she could not otherwise prevent
my entrance, for I was now upon the
very lobby, she made a desperate attempt
to seize hold of my person: she succeeded
in grasping the end of my shawl, which
she drew from my shoulders; but slipping at
the same time upon the polished oak floor,
she fell at full length upon the boards.

A little frightened as well as angry at
the rudeness of this strange woman, I
hastily pushed open the door of my room,
at which I now stood, in order to escape
from her; but great was my amazement
on entering to find the apartment preoccupied.

The window was open, and beside it
stood two male figures; they appeared to
be examining the fastenings of the casement,
and their backs were turned towards
the door. One of them was my uncle;
they both turned on my entrance, as if
startled. The stranger was booted and
cloaked, and wore a heavy broad-leafed hat
over his brows. He turned but for a moment,
and averted his face; but I had seen
enough to convince me that he was no
other than my cousin Edward. My uncle
had some iron instrument in his hand,
which he hastily concealed behind his back;
and coming towards me, said something as
if in an explanatory tone; but I was too
much shocked and confounded to understand
what it might be. He said something
about 'REPAIRS--window--frames--
cold, and safety.'

I did not wait, however, to ask or to
receive explanations, but hastily left the
room. As I went down the stairs I
thought I heard the voice of the Frenchwoman
in all the shrill volubility of excuse,
which was met, however, by suppressed
but vehement imprecations, or what
seemed to me to be such, in which the
voice of my cousin Edward distinctly
mingled.

I joined my cousin Emily quite out of
breath. I need not say that my head was
too full of other things to think much of
drawing for that day. I imparted to her
frankly the cause of my alarms, but at the
same time as gently as I could; and with
tears she promised vigilance, and devotion,
and love. I never had reason for a
moment to repent the unreserved confidence
which I then reposed in her. She was no
less surprised than I at the unexpected
appearance of Edward, whose departure
for France neither of us had for a moment
doubted, but which was now proved by his
actual presence to be nothing more than
an imposture, practised, I feared, for no
good end.

The situation in which I had found my
uncle had removed completely all my
doubts as to his designs. I magnified
suspicions into certainties, and dreaded night
after night that I should be murdered in
my bed. The nervousness produced by
sleepless nights and days of anxious fears
increased the horrors of my situation to
such a degree, that I at length wrote a
letter to a Mr. Jefferies, an old and faithful
friend of my father's, and perfectly
acquainted with all his affairs, praying him,
for God's sake, to relieve me from my
present terrible situation, and communicating
without reserve the nature and
grounds of my suspicions.

This letter I kept sealed and directed
for two or three days always about my
person, for discovery would have been
ruinous, in expectation of an opportunity
which might be safely trusted, whereby to
have it placed in the post-office. As neither
Emily nor I were permitted to pass beyond
the precincts of the demesne itself,
which was surrounded by high walls
formed of dry stone, the difficulty of
procuring such an opportunity was greatly
enhanced.

At this time Emily had a short conver-
sation with her father, which she reported
to me instantly.

After some indifferent matter, he had
asked her whether she and I were upon
good terms, and whether I was unreserved
in my disposition. She answered in the
affirmative; and he then inquired whether
I had been much surprised to find him in
my chamber on the other day. She
answered that I had been both surprised and
amused.

'And what did she think of George
Wilson's appearance?'

'Who?' inquired she.

'Oh, the architect,' he answered, 'who
is to contract for the repairs of the house;
he is accounted a handsome fellow.'

'She could not see his face,' said Emily,
'and she was in such a hurry to escape
that she scarcely noticed him.'

Sir Arthur appeared satisfied, and the
conversation ended.

This slight conversation, repeated
accurately to me by Emily, had the effect of
confirming, if indeed anything was required
to do so, all that I had before believed as
to Edward's actual presence; and I naturally
became, if possible, more anxious
than ever to despatch the letter to Mr.
Jefferies. An opportunity at length occurred.

As Emily and I were walking one day
near the gate of the demesne, a lad from
the village happened to be passing down
the avenue from the house; the spot was
secluded, and as this person was not
connected by service with those whose
observation I dreaded, I committed the letter
to his keeping, with strict injunctions that
he should put it without delay into the
receiver of the town post-office; at the
same time I added a suitable gratuity, and
the man having made many protestations
of punctuality, was soon out of sight.

He was hardly gone when I began to
doubt my discretion in having trusted this
person; but I had no better or safer means
of despatching the letter, and I was not
warranted in suspecting him of such
wanton dishonesty as an inclination to
tamper with it; but I could not be quite
satisfied of its safety until I had received
an answer, which could not arrive for a
few days. Before I did, however, an event
occurred which a little surprised me.

I was sitting in my bedroom early in the
day, reading by myself, when I heard a
knock at the door.

'Come in,' said I; and my uncle entered
the room.

'Will you excuse me?' said he. 'I
sought you in the parlour, and thence I
have come here. I desired to say a word
with you. I trust that you have hitherto
found my conduct to you such as that of a
guardian towards his ward should be.'

I dared not withhold my consent.

'And,' he continued, 'I trust that you
have not found me harsh or unjust, and
that you have perceived, my dear niece,
that I have sought to make this poor place
as agreeable to you as may be.'

I assented again; and he put his hand
in his pocket, whence he drew a folded
paper, and dashing it upon the table with
startling emphasis, he said:

'Did you write that letter?'

The sudden and tearful alteration of his
voice, manner, and face, but, more than all,
the unexpected production of my letter to
Mr. Jefferies, which I at once recognised,
so confounded and terrified me, that I felt
almost choking.

I could not utter a word.

'Did you write that letter?' he repeated
with slow and intense emphasis.' You
did, liar and hypocrite! You dared to
write this foul and infamous libel; but it
shall be your last. Men will universally
believe you mad, if I choose to call for an
inquiry. I can make you appear so. The
suspicions expressed in this letter are the
hallucinations and alarms of moping lunacy.
I have defeated your first attempt, madam;
and by the holy God, if ever you make
another, chains, straw, darkness, and the
keeper's whip shall be your lasting portion!'

With these astounding words he left the
room, leaving me almost fainting.

I was now almost reduced to despair;
my last cast had failed; I had no course
left but that of eloping secretly from the
castle, and placing myself under the
protection of the nearest magistrate. I felt
if this were not done, and speedily, that I
should be MURDERED.

No one, from mere description, can have
an idea of the unmitigated horror of my
situation--a helpless, weak, inexperienced
girl, placed under the power and wholly
at the mercy of evil men, and feeling that
she had it not in her power to escape for
a moment from the malignant influences
under which she was probably fated to fall;
and with a consciousness that if violence,
if murder were designed, her dying shriek
would be lost in void space; no human
being would be near to aid her, no human
interposition could deliver her.

I had seen Edward but once during his
visit, and as I did not meet with him
again, I began to think that he must have
taken his departure--a conviction which
was to a certain degree satisfactory, as I
regarded his absence as indicating the
removal of immediate danger.

Emily also arrived circuitously at the
same conclusion, and not without good
grounds, for she managed indirectly to
learn that Edward's black horse had actually
been for a day and part of a night in
the castle stables, just at the time of her
brother's supposed visit. The horse had
gone, and, as she argued, the rider must
have departed with it.

This point being so far settled, I felt a
little less uncomfortable: when being one
day alone in my bedroom, I happened to
look out from the window, and, to my un-
utterable horror, I beheld, peering through
an opposite casement, my cousin Edward's
face. Had I seen the evil one himself in
bodily shape, I could not have experienced
a more sickening revulsion.

I was too much appalled to move at
once from the window, but I did so soon
enough to avoid his eye. He was looking
fixedly into the narrow quadrangle upon
which the window opened. I shrank back
unperceived, to pass the rest of the day
in terror and despair. I went to my room
early that night, but I was too miserable
to sleep.

At about twelve o'clock, feeling very
nervous, I determined to call my cousin
Emily, who slept, you will remember, in
the next room, which communicated with
mine by a second door. By this private
entrance I found my way into her chamber,
and without difficulty persuaded her to
return to my room and sleep with me.
We accordingly lay down together, she
undressed, and I with my clothes on, for I
was every moment walking up and down
the room, and felt too nervous and miserable
to think of rest or comfort.

Emily was soon fast asleep, and I lay
awake, fervently longing for the first pale
gleam of morning, reckoning every stroke
of the old clock with an impatience which
made every hour appear like six.

It must have been about one o'clock
when I thought I heard a slight noise at
the partition-door between Emily's room
and mine, as if caused by somebody's
turning the key in the lock. I held my
breath, and the same sound was repeated
at the second door of my room--that which
opened upon the lobby--the sound was
here distinctly caused by the revolution of
the bolt in the lock, and it was followed by
a slight pressure upon the door itself, as if
to ascertain the security of the lock.

The person, whoever it might be, was
probably satisfied, for I heard the old
boards of the lobby creak and strain, as if
under the weight of somebody moving
cautiously over them. My sense of hearing
became unnaturally, almost painfully
acute. I suppose the imagination added
distinctness to sounds vague in themselves.
I thought that I could actually hear the
breathing of the person who was slowly
returning down the lobby. At the head of
the staircase there appeared to occur a
pause; and I could distinctly hear two or
three sentences hastily whispered; the
steps then descended the stairs with
apparently less caution. I now ventured to
walk quickly and lightly to the lobby-door,
and attempted to open it; it was indeed
fast locked upon the outside, as was also
the other.

I now felt that the dreadful hour was
come; but one desperate expedient
remained--it was to awaken Emily, and by
our united strength to attempt to force
the partition-door, which was slighter than
the other, and through this to pass to the
lower part of the house, whence it might
be possible to escape to the grounds, and
forth to the village.

I returned to the bedside and shook
Emily, but in vain. Nothing that I could
do availed to produce from her more than
a few incoherent words--it was a death-
like sleep. She had certainly drank of
some narcotic, as had I probably also, spite
of all the caution with which I had
examined everything presented to us to
eat or drink.

I now attempted, with as little noise as
possible, to force first one door, then the
other--but all in vain. I believe no
strength could have effected my object, for
both doors opened inwards. I therefore
collected whatever movables I could carry
thither, and piled them against the doors,
so as to assist me in whatever attempts I
should make to resist the entrance of those
without. I then returned to the bed and
endeavoured again, but fruitlessly, to
awaken my cousin. It was not sleep, it
was torpor, lethargy, death. I knelt down
and prayed with an agony of earnestness;
and then seating myself upon the bed, I
awaited my fate with a kind of terrible
tranquillity.

I heard a faint clanking sound from the
narrow court which I have already
mentioned, as if caused by the scraping of
some iron instrument against stones or
rubbish. I at first determined not to
disturb the calmness which I now felt, by
uselessly watching the proceedings of those
who sought my life; but as the sounds
continued, the horrible curiosity which I
felt overcame every other emotion, and I
determined, at all hazards, to gratify it.
I therefore crawled upon my knees to
the window, so as to let the smallest
portion of my head appear above the
sill.

The moon was shining with an uncertain
radiance upon the antique grey buildings,
and obliquely upon the narrow court
beneath, one side of which was therefore
clearly illuminated, while the other was
lost in obscurity, the sharp outlines of the
old gables, with their nodding clusters of
ivy, being at first alone visible.

Whoever or whatever occasioned the
noise which had excited my curiosity, was
concealed under the shadow of the dark
side of the quadrangle. I placed my hand
over my eyes to shade them from the
moonlight, which was so bright as to be
almost dazzling, and, peering into the
darkness, I first dimly, but afterwards gradually,
almost with full distinctness, beheld the
form of a man engaged in digging what
appeared to be a rude hole close under the
wall. Some implements, probably a shovel
and pickaxe, lay beside him, and to these
he every now and then applied himself as
the nature of the ground required. He
pursued his task rapidly, and with as little
noise as possible.

'So,' thought I, as, shovelful after shovel-
ful, the dislodged rubbish mounted into a
heap, 'they are digging the grave in which,
before two hours pass, I must lie, a cold,
mangled corpse. I am THEIRS--I cannot
escape.'

I felt as if my reason was leaving me.
I started to my feet, and in mere despair I
applied myself again to each of the two
doors alternately. I strained every nerve
and sinew, but I might as well have
attempted, with my single strength, to force
the building itself from its foundation. I
threw myself madly upon the ground, and
clasped my hands over my eyes as if to
shut out the horrible images which crowded
upon me.

The paroxysm passed away. I prayed
once more, with the bitter, agonised fervour
of one who feels that the hour of death is
present and inevitable. When I arose, I
went once more to the window and looked
out, just in time to see a shadowy figure
glide stealthily along the wall. The task
was finished. The catastrophe of the
tragedy must soon be accomplished.

I determined now to defend my life to
the last; and that I might be able to do
so with some effect, I searched the room
for something which might serve as a
weapon; but either through accident, or
from an anticipation of such a possibility,
everything which might have been made
available for such a purpose had been carefully
removed. I must then die tamely
and without an effort to defend myself.

A thought suddenly struck me--might
it not be possible to escape through the
door, which the assassin must open in
order to enter the room? I resolved to
make the attempt. I felt assured that the
door through which ingress to the room
would be effected, was that which opened
upon the lobby. It was the more direct
way, besides being, for obvious reasons,
less liable to interruption than the other.
I resolved, then, to place myself behind a
projection of the wall, whose shadow would
serve fully to conceal me, and when the
door should be opened, and before they
should have discovered the identity of the
occupant of the bed, to creep noiselessly
from the room, and then to trust to
Providence for escape.

In order to facilitate this scheme, I
removed all the lumber which I had heaped
against the door; and I had nearly completed
my arrangements, when I perceived
the room suddenly darkened by the close
approach of some shadowy object to the
window. On turning my eyes in that
direction, I observed at the top of the
casement, as if suspended from above, first
the feet, then the legs, then the body, and
at length the whole figure of a man present
himself. It was Edward T----n.

He appeared to be guiding his descent
so as to bring his feet upon the centre of
the stone block which occupied the lower
part of the window; and, having secured
his footing upon this, he kneeled down and
began to gaze into the room. As the
moon was gleaming into the chamber, and
the bed-curtains were drawn, he was able
to distinguish the bed itself and its
contents. He appeared satisfied with his
scrutiny, for he looked up and made a sign
with his hand, upon which the rope by
which his descent had been effected was
slackened from above, and he proceeded to
disengage it from his waist; this accom-
plished, he applied his hands to the
window-frame, which must have been
ingeniously contrived for the purpose, for,
with apparently no resistance, the whole
frame, containing casement and all, slipped
from its position in the wall, and was by
him lowered into the room.

The cold night wind waved the bed-
curtains, and he paused for a moment--all
was still again--and he stepped in upon
the floor of the room. He held in his
hand what appeared to be a steel instrument,
shaped something like a hammer,
but larger and sharper at the extremities.
This he held rather behind him, while, with
three long, tip-toe strides, he brought
himself to the bedside.

I felt that the discovery must now be
made, and held my breath in momentary
expectation of the execration in which he
would vent his surprise and disappointment.
I closed my eyes--there was a
pause, but it was a short one. I heard
two dull blows, given in rapid succession:
a quivering sigh, and the long-drawn,
heavy breathing of the sleeper was for
ever suspended. I unclosed my eyes, and
saw the murderer fling the quilt across the
head of his victim: he then, with the
instrument of death still in his hand,
proceeded to the lobby-door, upon which he
tapped sharply twice or thrice. A quick
step was then heard approaching, and a
voice whispered something from without.
Edward answered, with a kind of chuckle,
'Her ladyship is past complaining; unlock
the door, in the devil's name, unless you're
afraid to come in, and help me to lift the
body out of the window.'

The key was turned in the lock--the
door opened--and my uncle entered the
room.

I have told you already that I had
placed myself under the shade of a
projection of the wall, close to the door. I had
instinctively shrunk down, cowering
towards the ground on the entrance of
Edward through the window. When my
uncle entered the room he and his son
both stood so very close to me that his
hand was every moment upon the point of
touching my face. I held my breath, and
remained motionless as death.

'You had no interruption from the next

Book of the day: