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  • 1861
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of him by it.”

“I dare say not,” laconically spoke Lawyer Ball. “Well, Miss Afy, I believe that is all for the present. I want Ebenezer James in again,” he whispered to an officer of the justice-room, as the witness retired.

Ebenezer James reappeared and took Afy’s place.

“You informed their worships, just now, that you had met Thorn in London, some eighteen months subsequent to the murder,” began Lawyer Ball, launching another of his shafts. “This must have been during the period of Afy Hallijohn’s sojourn with him. Did you also see /her/?”

Mr. Ebenezer opened his eyes. He knew nothing of the evidence just given by Afy, and wondered how on earth it had come out–that she had been with Thorn at all. He had never betrayed it.

“Afy?” stammered he.

“Yes, Afy,” sharply returned the lawyer. “Their worships know that when she took that trip of hers from West Lynne it was to join Thorn not Richard Hare–though the latter has borne the credit of it. I ask you, did you see her? for she was then still connected with him.”

“Well–yes, I did,” replied Mr. Ebenezer, his own scruples removed, but wondering still how it had been discovered, unless Afy had–as he had prophesied she would–let out in her “tantrums.” “In fact, it was Afy whom I first saw.”

“State the circumstances.”

“I was up Paddington way one afternoon, and saw a lady going into a house. It was Afy Hallijohn. She lived there, I found–had the drawing-room apartments. She invited me to stay to tea with her, and I did.”

“Did you see Captain Levison there?”

“I saw Thorn–as I thought him to be. Afy told me I must be away by eight o’clock, for she was expecting a friend who sometimes came to sit with her for an hour’s chat. But, in talking over old times–not that I could tell her much about West Lynne, for I had left it almost as long as she had–the time slipped on past the hour. When Afy found that out she hurried me off, and I had barely got outside the gate when a cab drove up, and Thorn alighted from it, and let himself in with a latch-key. That is all I know.”

“When you knew that the scandal of Afy’s absence rested on Richard Hare, why could you not have said this, and cleared him, on your return to West Lynne?”

“It was no affair of mine, that I should make it public. Afy asked me not to say I had seen her, and I promised her I would not. As to Richard Hare, a little extra scandal on his back was nothing, while there remained on it the worse scandal of murder.”

“Stop a bit,” interposed Mr. Rubiny, as the witness was about to retire. “You speak of the time being eight o’clock in the evening, sir. Was it dark?”

“Yes.”

“Then how can you be certain it was Thorn who got out of the cab and entered?”

“I am quite certain. There was a gas-lamp right at the spot, and I saw him as well as I should have seen him in daylight. I knew his voice, too; could have sworn to it anywhere; and I would almost have sworn to him by his splendid diamond ring. It flashed in the lamplight.”

“His voice! Did he speak to you?”

“No. But he spoke to the cabman. There was a half dispute between them. The man said Thorn had not paid him enough, that he had not allowed for having been kept waiting twenty minutes on the road. Thorn swore at him a bit, and then flung him an extra shilling.”

The next witness was a man who had been groom to the late Sir Peter Levison. He testified that the prisoner, Francis Levison had been on a visit to his master late in the summer and part of the autumn, the year that Hallijohn was killed. That he frequently rode out in the direction of West Lynne, especially toward evening; would be away three or four hours, and come home with the horse in a foam. Also that he picked up two letters at different times, which Mr. Levison had carelessly let fall from his pocket, and returned them to him. Both the notes were addressed “Captain Thorn.” But they had not been through the post, for there was no further superscription on them; and the writing looked like a lady’s. He remembered quite well hearing of the murder of Hallijohn, the witness added, in answer to a question; it made a great stir through out the country. It was just at that same time that Mr. Levison concluded his visit, and returned to London.

“A /wonderful/ memory!” Mr. Rubiny sarcastically remarked.

The witness, a quiet, respectable man, replied that he /had/ a good memory; but that circumstances had impressed upon it particularly the fact that Mr. Levison’s departure followed close upon the murder of Hallijohn.

“One day, when Sir Peter was round at the stables, gentlemen, he was urging his nephew to prolong his visit, and asked what sudden freak was taking him off. Mr. Levison replied that unexpected business called him to London. While they were talking, the coachman came up, all in a heat, telling that Hallijohn, of West Lynne, had been murdered by young Mr. Hare. I remember Sir Peter said he could not believe it; and that it must have been an accident, not murder.”

“Is that all?”

“There was more said. Mr. Levison, in a shameful sort of manner, asked his uncle, would he let him have five or ten pounds? Sir Peter seemed angry, and asked, what had he done with the fifty-pound note he had made him a present of only the previous morning? Mr. Levison replied that he had sent that away to a brother officer, to whom he was in debt. Sir Peter refused to believe it, and said he had more likely squandered it upon some disgraceful folly. Mr. Levison denied that he had; but he looked confused, indeed, his matter altogether was confused that morning.”

“Did he get the five or ten pounds?”

“I don’t know, gentlemen. I dare say he did, for my master was as persuadable as a woman, though he’d fly out a bit sometimes at first. Mr. Levison departed for London that same night.”

The last witness called was Mr. Dill. On the previous Tuesday evening, he had been returning home from spending an hour at Mr. Beauchamp’s, when, in a field opposite to Mr. Justice Hare’s, he suddenly heard a commotion. It arose from the meeting of Sir Francis Levison and Otway Bethel. The former appeared to have been enjoying a solitary moonlight ramble, and the latter to have encountered him unexpectedly. Words ensued. Bethel accused Sir Francis of “shirking” him. Sir Francis answered angrily that he knew nothing of him, and nothing he wanted to know.

” ‘You were glad enough to know something of me the night of Hallijohn’s murder,’ retorted Bethel to this. ‘Do you remember that I could hang you. One little word from me, and you’d stand in Dick Hare’s place.’

” ‘You fool!’ passionately cried Sir Francis. ‘You couldn’t hang me without putting your own head in a noose. Did you not have your hush money? Are you wanting to do me out of more?’

” ‘A cursed paltry note of fifty pounds!’ foamed Otway Bethel, ‘which, many a time since, I have wished my fingers were blown off before they touched. I never should have touched it, but that I was altogether overwhelmed with the moment’s confusion. I have not been able to look Mrs. Hare in the face since, knowing that I held the secret that would save her son from the hangman.’

” ‘And put yourself in his place,’ sneered Sir Francis.

” ‘No. Put you.’

” ‘That’s as it might be. But, if I went to the hangman, you would go with me. There would be no excuse or escape for you. You know it.’ “

The warfare continued longer, but this was the cream of it. Mr. Dill heard the whole, and repeated it now to the magistrate. Mr. Rubiny protested that it was “inadmissible;” “hearsay evidence;” “contrary to law;” but the bench oracularly put Mr. Rubiny down, and told him they did not want any stranger to come there and teach them their business.

Colonel Bethel had leaned forward at the conclusion of Mr. Dill’s evidence, dismay on his face, agitation in his voice. “Are you sure that you made no mistake–that the other in this interview was Otway Bethel?”

Mr. Dill sadly shook his head. “Am I one to swear to a wrong man, colonel? I wish I had not heard it–save that it may be the means of clearing Richard Hare.”

Sir Francis Levison had braved out the proceedings with a haughty, cavalier air, his delicate hands and his diamond ring remarkably conspicuous. Was that stone the real thing, or a false one, substituted for the real? Hard up as he had long been for money, the suspicion might arise. A derisive smile crossed his features at parts of the evidence, as much as to say, “You may convict me as to Mademoiselle Afy, but you can’t as to the murder.” When, however, Mr. Dill’s testimony was given, what a change was there! His mood tamed down to what looked like abject fear, and he shook in his shoes as he stood.

“Of course your worships will take bail for Sir Francis?” said Mr. Rubiny, at the close of the proceedings.

Bail! The bench looked at one another.

“Your worships will not refuse it–a gentleman in Sir Francis Levison’s position!”

The bench thought they never had so insolent an application made to them. Bail for him!–on this charge! No; not if the lord chancellor himself came down to offer it.

Mr. Otway Bethel, conscious, probably, that nobody would offer bail for him, not even the colonel, did not ask the bench to take it. So the two were fully committed to take their trial for the “Wilful murder, otherwise the killing and slaying of George Hallijohn;” and before night would be on their road to the county prison at Lynneborough.

And that vain, ill-starred Afy! What of her? Well, Afy had retreated to the witness-room again, after giving evidence, and there she remained to the close, agreeably occupied in a mental debate. What would they make out from her admission regarding her sojourn in London and the morning calls? How would that precious West Lynne construe it? She did not much care; she would brave it out, and assail them with towering indignation, did any dare to cast a stone at her.

Such was her final decision, arrived at just as the proceedings terminated. Afy was right glad to remain where she was, till some of the bustle had gone.

“How was it ended?” asked she of Mr. Ball, who, being a bachelor, was ever regarded with much graciousness by Afy, for she kept her eyes open to contingencies; although Mr. Joe Jiffin was held in reserve.

“They are both committed for wilful murder–off to Lynneborough within an hour!”

Afy’s color rose. “What a shame! To commit two innocent men upon such a charge.”

“I can tell you what, Miss Afy, the sooner you disabuse your mind of that prejudice, the better. Levison has been as good as proved guilty to-day; but if proof were wanting, he and Bethel have criminated each other. ‘When rogues fall out, honest men get their own.’ Not that I can quite fathom Bethel’s share in the exploit, though I can pretty well guess at it. And, in proving themselves guilty they have proved the innocence of Richard Hare.”

Afy’s face was changing to whiteness; her confident air to one of dread; her vanity to humiliation.

“It–can’t–be–true!” she gasped.

“It’s true enough. The part you have hitherto ascribed to Thorn, was enacted by Richard Hare. He heard the shot from his place in the wood, and saw Thorn run, ghastly, trembling, horrified, from his wicked work. Believe me, it was Thorn who killed your father.”

Afy grew cold as she listened. That one awful moment, when conviction that his words were true, forced itself upon her, was enough to sober her for a whole lifetime. /Thorn!/ Her sight failed; her head reeled; her very heart turned to sickness. One struggling cry of pain; and, for the second time that day, Afy Hallijohn fell forward in a fainting fit.

Shouts, hisses, execrations, yells! The prisoners were being brought forth, to be conveyed to Lynneborough. A whole posse of constables was necessary to protect them against the outbreak of the mob, which outbreak was not directed against Otway Bethel, but against Sir Francis Levison. Cowering like the guilty culprit that he was, shivered he, hiding his white face–wondering whether it would be a repetition of Justice Hare’s green pond, or tearing him asunder piecemeal–and cursing the earth because it did not open and let him in!

CHAPTER XLI.

FIRM!

Miss Lucy was /en penitence/. She had been guilty of some childish fault that day at Aunt Cornelia’s, which, coming to the knowledge of Mrs. Carlyle, after their return home the young lady was ordered to the nursery for the rest of the day, and to be regaled upon bread and water.

Barbara was in her pleasant dressing-room. There was to be a dinner party at East Lynne that evening, and she had just finished dressing. Very lovely looked she in her dinner dress, with purple and scarlet flowers in her bosom. She glanced at her watch somewhat anxiously, for the gentlemen had not made their appearance. Half-past six! And they were to dine at seven.

Madame Vine tapped at the door. Her errand was to beg grace for Lucy. She had been promised half an hour in the drawing-room, when the ladies entered it from the dessert-table, and was now in agony of grief at the disappointment. Would Mrs. Carlyle pardon her, and allow her to be dressed?

“You are too lenient to the child, madame,” spoke Barbara. “I don’t think you ever would punish her at all. But when she commits faults, they must be corrected.”

“She is very sorry for her fault; she promises not to be rude again. She is crying as if she would cry her heart out.”

“Not for her ill-behavior, but because she’s afraid of missing the drawing-room to-night,” cried Barbara.

“Do, pray, restore her to favor,” pleaded madame.

“I shall see. Just look, Madame Vine! I broke this, a minute or two ago. Is it not a pity?”

Barbara held in her hand a beautiful toilette ornament, set in pure gold. One of the petals had come off.

Madame Vine examined it. “I have some cement upstairs that would join it,” she exclaimed. “I could do it in two minutes. I bought it in France.”

“Oh, I wish you would,” was Barbara’s delighted response. “Do bring it here and join it now. Shall I bribe you?” she added, laughing. “You make this all right, and then you shall bear back grace to Lucy–for I perceive that is what your heart is set upon.”

Madame Vine went, and returned with her cement. Barbara watched her, as she took the pieces in her hand, to see how the one must fit on to the other.

“This has been broken once, as Joyce tells me,” Barbara said. “But it must have been imperceptibly joined, for I have looked in vain for the damage. Mr. Carlyle bought it for his first wife, when they were in London, after their marriage. She broke it subsequently here, at East Lynne. You will never do it, Madame Vine, if your hand shakes like that. What is the matter?”

A great deal was the matter. First, the ominous words had been upon her tongue. “It was here where the stem joins the flower;” but she recollected herself in time. Next came up the past vision of the place and hour when the accident occurred. Her hanging sleeve had swept it off the table. Mr. Carlyle was in the room, and he had soothed her sorrow–her almost childish sorrow with kisses sweet. Ah me! poor thing! I think our hands would have shaken as hers did. The ornament and the kisses were Barbara’s now.

“I ran quickly up the stairs and back again,” was the explanation she offered to Mrs. Carlyle for her shaking hands.

At that moment Mr. Carlyle and their guests were heard to return, and ascend to their respective apartments, Lord Vane’s gleeful voice echoing through the house. Mr. Carlyle came into his wife’s dressing- room, and Madame Vine would have made a precipitate retreat.

“No, no,” said Barbara, “finish it, now you have begun. Mr. Carlyle will be going to his room. Look at the misfortune I have had. Archibald, I have broken this.”

Mr. Carlyle glanced carelessly at the trinket, and at Madame Vine’s white fingers. He crossed to the door of his dressing-room and opened it, then held out his hand in silence for Barbara to approach and drew her in with him. Madame Vine went on with her work.

Presently Barbara returned, and approached the table where stood Madame Vine, while she drew on her gloves. Her eyelashes were wet.

“I could not help shedding a few tears of joy,” exclaimed Barbara, with a pretty blush, perceiving that madame observed the signs. “Mr. Carlyle has been telling me that my brother’s innocence is now all but patent to the world. It came out upon the examination of those two men, Sir Francis and Otway Bethel. Lord Mount Severn was present at the proceedings, and says they have in some way incriminated each other. Papa sat in his place as chairman; I wonder that he liked to do so.”

Lower bent the head of Madame Vine over her employment. “Has anything been proved against them?” she asked, in her usual soft tone, almost a whisper.

“There is not the least doubt of the guilt of Levison, but Otway Bethel’s share in the affair is a puzzle yet,” replied Mrs. Carlyle. “Both are committed for trial. Oh, that man! that man! how his sins come out!” she continued in excitement.

Madame Vine glanced up through her spectacles.

“Would you believe,” continued Barbara, dropping her voice, “that while West Lynne, and I fear ourselves also, gave that miserable Afy credit for having gone away with Richard, she was all the time with Levison? Ball, the lawyer got her to confess to-day. I am unacquainted with the details; Mr. Carlyle would not give them to me. He said the bare fact was quite enough, and considering the associations it involved, would not do to talk of.”

Mr. Carlyle was right.

“Out it seems to come, little by little, one wickedness after another!” resumed Barbara. “I do not like Mr. Carlyle to hear it. No, I don’t. Of course there is no help for it; but he must feel it terribly, as must also Lord Mount Severn. She /was/ his wife, you know, and the children are hers; and to think that she–I mean he– must feel it /for her/,” went on Barbara after her sudden pause, and there was some hauteur in her tone lest she should be misunderstood. “Mr. Carlyle is one of the very few men, so entirely noble, whom the sort of disgrace reflected from Lady Isabel’s conduct cannot touch.”

The carriage of the first guest. Barbara ran across the room, and rattled at Mr. Carlyle’s door. “Archibald do you hear?”

Back came the laughing answer. “I shan’t keep them long. But they may surely accord a few minutes’ grace to a man who has just been converted into an M. P.”

Barbara descended to the drawing-room, leaving her, that unhappy lady, to the cement and the broken pieces, and to battle as best she could with her bitter heart. Nothing but stabs; nothing but stabs! Was her punishment ever to end? No. The step she had taken in coming back to East Lynne had precluded that.

The guests arrived; all save Mr. and Mrs. Hare. Barbara received a note from her instead. The justice did not feel well enough to join them.

I should think he did not.

A pleasant party it was at East Lynne, and twelve o’clock struck before the carriage of the last guest drove away. It may have been from one to two hours after that, and the house was steeped in moonlight and quietness, everybody being abed and asleep when a loud summons at the hall bell echoed through the stillness.

The first to put her head out the window was Wilson. “Is it fire?” shrieked she, in the most excessive state of terror conceivable. Wilson had a natural dread of fire–some people do possess this dread more than others–and had oftentime aroused the house to a commotion by declaring she smelt it. “Is it fire?” shrieked Wilson.

“Yes!” was shouted at the top of a man’s voice, who stepped from between the entrance pillars to answer.

Wilson waited for no more. Clutching at the baby with one hand–a fine young gentleman now of near twelve months old, promising fair to be as great a source of trouble to Wilson and the nursery as was his brother Archibald, whom he greatly resembled–and at Archie with the other, out she flew to the corridor screeching “Fire! fire! fire!” never ceasing, down tore Wilson with the four children, and burst unceremoniously into the sleeping apartment of Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle. By this time the children, terrified out of their senses, not at Wilson’s cry of alarm, but at the summary propelling downstairs, set up a shrieking, too. Madame Vine, believing that half the house as least was in flames, was the next to appear, throwing on a shawl she had caught up, and then came Joyce.

“Fire! fire! fire!” shouted Wilson; “we are all being burnt up together!”

Poor Mrs. Carlyle, thus wildly aroused from sleep, sprang out of bed and into the corridor in her night-dress. Everybody else was in a night-dress–when folks are flying for dear life, they don’t stop to look for their dress-coats and best blonde caps. Out came Mr. Carlyle, who has hastily assumed his pantaloons.

He cast a rapid glance down to the hall, and saw that the stairs were perfectly free for escape; therefore to hurry was not so violent. Every soul around him was shrieking in concert, making the confusion and din terrific. The bright moonlight streamed in at the corridor windows, but there was no other light; shadowy and indistinct enough looked the white figures.

“Where is the fire?” he exclaimed. “I don’t smell any. Who gave the first alarm?”

The bell answered him. The hall-bell, which rang out ten times louder and longer than before. He opened one of the windows and leaned from it. “Who’s there?” Madame Vine caught up Archie.

“It’s me, sir,” responded a voice, which he at once recognized to be that of one of Mr. Hare’s men-servants. “Master has been took in a fit, sir, and mistress sent me for you and Miss Barbara. You must please make haste, sir, if you want to see him alive.”

Miss Barbara! It was more familiar to Jasper, in a moment of excitement, than the new name.

“You, Jasper! Is the house on fire–this house?”

“Well, I don’t know, sir. I can hear a dreadful deal of screeching in it.”

Mr. Carlyle closed the window. He began to suspect that the danger lay in fear alone. “Who told you there was fire?” he demanded of Wilson.

“That man ringing at the door,” sobbed Wilson. “Thank goodness I have saved the children!”

Mr. Carlyle felt somewhat exasperated at the mistake. His wife was trembling from head to foot, her face of a deadly whiteness, and he knew that she was not in a condition to be alarmed, necessarily or unnecessarily. She clung to him in terror, asking if they /could/ escape.

“My darling, be calm! There’s no fire; it’s a stupid mistake. You may all go back to bed and sleep in peace,” he added to the rest, “and the next time that you alarm the house in the night, Wilson, have the goodness to make yourself sure, first of all, that there’s cause for it.”

Barbara, frightened still, bewildered and uncertain, escaped to the window and threw it open. But Mr. Carlyle was nearly as quick as she; he caught her to him with one hand, and drew the window down with the other. To have these tidings told to her abruptly would be worse than all. By this time some of the servants had descended the other staircase with a light, being in various stages of costume, and hastened to open the hall-door. Jasper entered. The man had probably waited to help to put out the “fire.” Barbara caught sight of him ere Mr. Carlyle could prevent it, and grew sick with fear, believing some ill had happened to her mother.

Drawing her inside their chamber, he broke the news to her soothingly and tenderly, making light of it.

She burst into tears. “You are not deceiving me, Archibald? Papa is not dead?”

“Dead!” cheerfully echoed Mr. Carlyle, in the same tone he might have used had Barbara wondered whether the justice was taking a night airing for pleasure in a balloon. “Wilson has indeed frightened you, love. Dress yourself, and we will go and see him.”

At that moment Barbara recollected William. Strange that she should have been the first to do so–before Lady Isabel–before Mr. Carlyle. She ran out again to the corridors, where the boy stood shivering. “He may have caught his death!” she uttered, snatching him up in her arms. “Oh, Wilson! What have you done? His night-gown is damp and cold.”

Unfit as she was for the burden, she bore him to her own bed. Wilson was not at leisure to attend to reproaches just then. She was engaged in a wordy war with Jasper, leaning over the balustrades to carry it on.

“I never told you there was a fire!” indignantly denied Jasper.

“You did. I opened the nursery window and called out ‘Is it fire?’ and you answered ‘Yes.’ “

“You called out ‘Is it Jasper?’ What else should I say but ‘Yes,’ to that? Fire? Where was the fire likely to be–in the park?”

“Wilson take the children back to bed,” authoritatively spoke Mr. Carlyle, as he advanced to look down into the hall. “John, are you there? The close carriage, instantly–look sharp. Madame Vine, pray don’t continue to hold that heavy boy; Joyce can’t you relieve madame?”

In crossing back to his room, Mr. Carlyle had brushed past madame, and noticed that she appeared to be shaking, as with the weight of Archibald. In reality she was still alarmed, not understanding yet the cause of the commotion. Joyce, who comprehended it as little, and had stood with her arms round Lucy, advanced to take Archibald, and Mr. Carlyle disappeared. Barbara had taken off her own warm night-gown then, and put it upon William in place of his cold one–had struck a light and was busily dressing herself.

“Just feel his night-gown Archibald! Wilson–“

A shrill cry of awful terror interrupted the words, and Mr. Carlyle made one bound out again. Barbara followed; the least she thought was that Wilson had dropped the baby in the hall.

That was not the catastrophe. Wilson, with the baby and Lucy, had already disappeared up the staircase, and Madame Vine was disappearing. Archibald lay on the soft carpet of the corridor, where madame had stood; for Joyce, in the act of taking him, had let him slip to the ground–let him fall from sheer terror. She held on to the balustrades, her face ghastly, her mouth open, her eyes fixed in horror–altogether an object to look upon. Archie gathered himself on his sturdy legs, and stood staring.

“Why, Joyce! What is the matter with /you/?” cried Mr. Carlyle. “You look as if you had seen a spectre.”

“Oh, master!” she wailed, “I have seen one.”

“Are you all going deranged together?” retorted he, wondering what had come to the house. “Seen a spectre, Joyce?”

Joyce fell on her knees, as if unable to support herself, and crossed her shaking hands upon her chest. Had she seen ten spectres she could not have betrayed more dire distress. She was a sensible and faithful servant, one not given to flights of fancy, and Mr. Carlyle gazed at her in very amazement.

“Joyce, what is this?” he asked, bending down and speaking kindly.

“Oh, my dear master! Heaven have mercy upon us all!” was the inexplicable answer.

“Joyce I ask you what is this?”

She made no reply. She rose up shaking; and, taking Archie’s hand, slowly proceeded toward the upper stairs, low moans breaking from her, and the boy’s naked feet pattering on the carpet.

“What can ail her?” whispered Barbara, following Joyce with her eyes. “What did she mean about a spectre?”

“She must have been reading a ghost-book,” said Carlyle. “Wilson’s folly has turned the house topsy-turvy. Make your haste, Barbara.”

Spring waned. Summer came, and would soon be waning, too, for the hot days of July were now in. What had the months brought forth, since the election of Mr. Carlyle in April? Be you very sure they had not been without their events.

Mr. Justice Hare’s illness had turned out to be a stroke of paralysis. People cannot act with unnatural harshness toward a child, and then discover they have been in the wrong, with impunity. Thus it proved with Mr. Justice Hare. He was recovering, but would never again be the man he had been. The fright, when Jasper had gone to tell of his illness at East Lynne, and was mistaken for fire, had done nobody any damage, save William and Joyce. William had caught a cold, which brought increased malady to the lungs; and Joyce seemed to have caught /fear/. She went about, more like one in a dream than awake, would be buried in a reverie for an hour at a time, and if suddenly spoken to, would start and shiver.

Mr. Carlyle and his wife departed for London immediately that Mr. Hare was pronounced out of danger; which was in about a week from the time of his seizure. William accompanied them, partly for the benefit of London advice, partly that Mr. Carlyle would not be parted from him. Joyce went, in attendance with some of the servants.

They found London ringing with the news of Sir Francis Levison’s arrest. London could not understand it; and the most wild and improbable tales were in circulation. The season was at its height; the excitement in proportion; it was more than a nine days’ wonder. On the very evening of their arrival a lady, young and beautiful, was shown in to the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle. She had declined to give her name, but there arose to Mr. Carlyle’s memory, when he looked upon her, one whom he had seen in earlier days as the friend of his first wife–Blanche Challoner. It was not Blanche, however.

The stranger looked keenly at Mr. Carlyle. He was standing with his hat in his hand, on the point of going out. “Will you pardon this intrusion?” she asked. “I have come to you as one human being in need comes to crave help of another. I am Lady Levison.”

Barbara’s face flushed. Mr. Carlyle courteously invited the stranger to a chair, remaining standing himself. She sat for a moment, and then rose, evidently in an excess of agitation.

“Yes, I am Lady Levison, forced to call that man husband. That he has been a wicked man, I have long known; but now I hear he is a criminal. I hear it, I say, but I can get the truth from none. I went to Lord Mount Severn; he declined to give me particulars. I heard that Mr. Carlyle would be in town to-day, and I resolved to come and ask them of him.”

She delivered the sentences in a jerking, abrupt tone, betraying her inward emotion. Mr. Carlyle, looking somewhat unapproachable, made no immediate reply.

“You and I have both been deeply wronged by him, Mr. Carlyle, but I brought my wrong upon myself, you did not. My sister, Blanche, whom he had cruelly treated–and if I speak of it, I only speak of what is known to the world–warned me against him. Mrs. Levison, his grandmother, that ancient lady who must now be bordering upon ninety, she warned me. The night before my wedding day, she came on purpose to tell me that if I married Francis Levison I should rue it for life. There was yet time to retract she said. Yes; there would have been time; but there was no /will/. I would not listen to either. I was led away by vanity, by folly, by something worse–the triumphing over my own sister. Poor Blanche! But which has the best of the bargain now, she or I? And I have a child,” she continued, dropping her voice, “a boy who inherits his father’s name. Mr. Carlyle, will they /condemn/ him?”

“Nothing, as yet, is positively proved against him,” replied Mr. Carlyle, compassionating the unhappy lady.

“If I could but get a divorce!” she passionately uttered, apparently losing all self-control. “I might have got one, over and over again, since we married, but there would have been the /expose/ and the scandal. If I could but change my child’s name! Tell me–does any chance of redress remain for me?”

There was none, and Mr. Carlyle did not attempt to speak of any. He offered a few kind words of sympathy, very generally expressed, and then prepared to go out. She moved, and stood in his way.

“You will not leave until you have given me the particulars! I pray you, do not! I came trustingly to you, hoping to know them.”

“I am waited for, to keep an important engagement,” he answered. “And were my time at liberty, I should decline to tell them to you, on my own account, as well as on yours. Lay not discourtesy to my charge, Lady Levison. Were I to speak of the man, even to you, his name would blister my lips.”

“In every word of hate spoken by you I would sympathize; every contemptuous expression of scorn, cast upon him from your heart, I would join in, tenfold.”

Barbara was shocked. “He is your husband, after all,” she took leave to whisper.

“My husband!” broke forth Lady Levison, in agitation, seemingly. “Yes! there’s the wrong. Why did he, knowing what he was, delude me into becoming his wife? You ought to feel for me, Mrs. Carlyle; and you do feel for me, for you are a wife and mother. How dare these base men marry–take to themselves an innocent, inexperienced girl, vowing, before God, to love and honor and cherish her? Were not his other sins impediment enough but he must have crime, also, and woo me! He has done me deep and irredeemable wrong, and has entailed upon his child an inheritance of shame. What had he or I done to deserve it, I ask?”

Barbara felt half frightened at her vehemence; and Barbara might be thankful not to understand it. All her native gentleness, all her reticence of feeling, as a wife and a gentlewoman, had been goaded out of her. The process had been going on for some time, but this last revelation was the crowning point; and Alice, Lady Levison, turned round upon the world in her helpless resentment, as any poor wife, working in a garret, might have done. There are certain wrongs which bring out human nature in the high-born, as well as in the low. “Still he is your husband,” was all Barbara could, with deprecation, again plead.

“He made himself my husband by deceit, and I will throw him off in the face of day,” returned Lady Levison. “There is no moral obligation why I should not. He has worked ill and ruin–ill and ruin upon me and my child, and the world shall never be allowed to think I have borne my share in it. How was it you kept your hands off him, when he reappeared, to brave you, in West Lynne?” she added, in a changed tone, turning to Mr. Carlyle.

“I cannot tell. I was a marvel oftentimes to myself.”

He quitted the room as he spoke, adding a few civil words about her with Mrs. Carlyle. Barbara, not possessing the scruples of her husband, yielded to Lady Levison’s request, and gave her the outline of the dark tale. Its outline only; and generously suppressing Afy’s name beyond the evening of the fatal event. Lady Levison listened without interruption.

“Do you and Mr. Carlyle believe him to have been guilty?”

“Yes; but Mr. Carlyle will not express his opinion to the world. He does not repay wrong with revenge. I have heard him say that if the lifting of his finger would send the man to his punishment, he would tie down his hand rather than lift it.”

“Was his first wife, Isabel Vane, mad?” she presently asked.

“Mad!” echoed Barbara, in surprise.

“When she quitted him for the other. It could have been nothing else than madness. I could understand a woman’s flying from /him/ for love of Mr. Carlyle; but now that I have seen your husband, I cannot understand the reverse side of the picture. I thank you for your courtesy, Mrs. Carlyle.”

And, without another word, Alice Levison quitted the room as abruptly as she had entered it.

Well, the London visit came to an end. It was of little more than three weeks’ duration, for Barbara must be safe at home again. Mr. Carlyle remained for the rest of the season alone, but he varied it with journeys to East Lynne. He had returned home for good now, July, although the session had not quite terminated. There was another baby at East Lynne, a lovely little baby, pretty as Barbara herself had been at a month old. William was fading rapidly. The London physicians had but confirmed the opinion of Dr. Martin, and it was evident to all that the close would not be long protracted.

Somebody else was fading–Lady Isabel. The cross had been too heavy, and she was sinking under its weight. Can you wonder at it?

An intensely hot day it was under the July sun. Afy Hallijohn was sailing up the street in its beams, finer and vainer than ever. She encountered Mr. Carlyle.

“So, Afy, you are really going to be married at last?”

“Jiffin fancies so, sir. I am not sure yet but what I shall change my mind. Jiffin thinks there’s nobody like me. If I could eat gold and silver, he’d provide it; and he’s as fond as fond can be. But then you know, sir, he’s half soft.”

“Soft as to you, perhaps,” laughed Mr. Carlyle. “I consider him a very civil, respectable man, Afy.”

“And then, I never did think to marry a shopkeeper,” grumbled Afy; “I looked a little higher than that. Only fancy, sir, having a husband who wears a white apron tied round him!”

“Terrible!” responded Mr. Carlyle, with a grave face.

“Not but what it will be a tolerable settlement,” rejoined Afy, veering round a point. “He’s having his house done up in style, and I shall keep two good servants, and do nothing myself but dress and subscribe to the library. He makes plenty of money.”

“A very tolerable settlement, I should say,” returned Mr. Carlyle; and Afy’s face fell before the glance of his eye, merry though it was. “Take care you don’t spend all his money for him, Afy.”

“I’ll take care of that,” nodded Afy, significantly. “Sir,” she somewhat abruptly added, “what is it that’s the matter with Joyce?”

“I do not know,” said Mr. Carlyle, becoming serious. “There does appear to be something the matter with her, for she is much changed.”

“I never saw anybody so changed in my life,” exclaimed Afy. “I told her the other day that she was just like one who had got some dreadful secret upon their mind.”

“It is really more like that than anything else,” observed Mr. Carlyle.

“But she is one of the close ones, is Joyce,” continued Afy. “No fear that she’ll give out a clue, if it does not suit her to do so. She told me, in answer, to mind my own business, and not to take absurd fancies in my head. How is the baby, sir, and Mrs. Carlyle?”

“All well. Good day, Afy.”

CHAPTER XLII.

THE TRIAL.

Spacious courts were the assize courts of Lynneborough; and it was well they were so, otherwise more people had been disappointed, and numbers were, of hearing the noted trial of Sir Francis Levison for the murder of George Hallijohn.

The circumstances attending the case caused it to bear for the public an unparalleled interest. The rank of the accused, and his antecedents, more especially that particular local antecedent touching the Lady Isabel Carlyle; the verdict still out against Richard Hare; the length of time which had elapsed since; the part played in it by Afy; the intense curiosity as to the part taken in it by Otway Bethel; the speculation as to what had been the exact details, and the doubt of a conviction–all contributed to fan the curiosity of the public. People came from far and near to be present–friends of Mr. Carlyle, friends of the Hares, friends of the Challoner family, friends of the prisoner, besides the general public. Colonel Bethel and Mr. Justice Hare had conspicuous seats.

At a few minutes past nine the judge took his place on the bench, but not before a rumor had gone through the court–a rumor that seemed to shake it to its centre, and which people stretched out their necks to hear–Otway Bethel had turned Queen’s evidence, and was to be admitted as a witness for the crown.

Thin, haggard, pale, looked Francis Levison as he was placed in the dock. His incarceration had not in any way contributed to his personal advantages, and there was an ever-recurring expression of dread upon his countenance not pleasant to look upon. He was dressed in black, old Mrs. Levison having died, and his diamond ring shone conspicuous still on his white hand, now whiter than ever. The most eminent counsel were engaged on both sides.

The testimony of the witnesses already given need not be recapitulated. The identification of the prisoner with the man Thorn was fully established–Ebenezer James proved that. Afy proved it, and also that he, Thorn, was at the cottage that night. Sir Peter Levison’s groom was likewise re-examined. But still there wanted other testimony. Afy was made to re-assert that Thorn had to go to the cottage for his hat after leaving her, but that proved nothing, and the conversation, or quarrel overheard by Mr. Dill was now again, put forward. If this was all the evidence, people opined that the case for the prosecution would break down.

“Call Richard Hare” said the counsel for the prosecution.

Those present who knew Mr. Justice Hare, looked up at him, wondering why he did not stir in answer to his name–wondering at the pallid hue which overspread his face. Not he, but another came forward–a fair, placid, gentlemanly young man, with blue eyes, fair hair, and a pleasant countenance. It was Richard Hare the younger. He had assumed his original position in life, so far as attire went, and in that, at least, was a gentleman again. In speech also–with his working dress Richard had thrown off his working manners.

A strange hubbub arose in court. Richard Hare, the exile–the reported dead–the man whose life was in jeopardy! The spectators rose with one accord to get a better view; they stood on tiptoe; they pushed forth their necks; they strained their eyesight: and, amidst all the noisy hum, the groan bursting from the lips of Justice Hare was unnoticed. Whilst order was being called for, and the judge threatened to clear the court, two officers moved themselves quietly up and stood behind the witness. Richard Hare was in custody, though he might know it not. The witness was sworn.

“What is your name?”

“Richard Hare.”

“Son of Mr. Justice Hare, I believe, of the Grove, West Lynne?”

“His only son.”

“The same against whom a verdict of wilful murder is out?” interposed the judge.

“The same, my lord,” replied Richard Hare, who appeared, strange as it may seem, to have cast away all his old fearfulness.

“Then, witness, let me warn you that you are not obliged to answer any question that may tend to criminate yourself.”

“My lord,” answered Richard Hare, with some emotion, “I wish to answer any and every question put to me. I have but one hope, that the full truth of all pertaining to that fatal evening may be made manifest this day.”

“Look round at the prisoner,” said the examining counsel. “Do you know him?”

“I know him now as Sir Francis Levison. Up to April last I believed his name to be Thorn.”

“State what occurred on the evening of the murder, as far as your knowledge goes.”

“I had an appointment that evening with Afy Hallijohn, and went down to their cottage to keep it–“

“A moment,” interrupted the counsel. “Was your visit that evening made in secret?”

“Partially so. My father and mother were displeased, naturally, at my intimacy with Afy Hallijohn; therefore I did not care that they should be cognizant of my visits there. I am ashamed to confess that I told my father a lie over it that very evening. He saw me leave the dinner- table to go out with my gun, and inquired where I was off to. I answered that I was going out with young Beauchamp.”

“When, in point of fact, you were not?”

“No. I took my gun, for I had promised to lend it to Hallijohn while his own was being repaired. When I reached the cottage Afy refused to admit me; she was busy, and could not, she said. I felt sure she had got Thorn with her. She had, more than once before, refused to admit me when I had gone there by her own appointment, and I always found that Thorn’s presence in the cottage was the obstacle.”

“I suppose you and Thorn were jealous of each other?”

“I was jealous of him; I freely admit it. I don’t know whether he was of me.”

“May I inquire what was the nature of your friendship for Miss Afy Hallijohn?”

“I loved her with an honorable love, as I might have done by any young lady in my own station of life. I would not have married her in opposition to my father and mother; but I told Afy that if she was content to wait for me until I was my own master I would then make her my wife.”

“You had no views toward her of a different nature?”

“None; I cared for her too much for that; and I respected her father. Afy’s mother had been a lady, too, although she had married Hallijohn, who was but clerk to Mr. Carlyle. No; I never had a thought of wrong toward Afy–I never could have had.”

“Now relate the occurrences of the evening?”

“Afy would not admit me, and we had a few words over it; but at length I went away, first giving her the gun, and telling her it was loaded. She lodged it against the wall, just inside the door, and I went into the wood and waited, determined to see whether or not Thorn was with her, for she had denied that he was. Locksley saw me there, and asked why I was hiding. I did not answer; but I went further off, quite out of view of the cottage. Some time afterward, less than half an hour, I heard a shot in the direction of the cottage. Somebody was having a late pop at the partridge, I thought. Just then I saw Otway Bethel emerge from the trees, not far from me, and run toward the cottage. My lord,” added Richard Hare, looking at the judge, “that was the shot that killed Hallijohn!”

“Could the shot,” asked the counsel, “have been fired by Otway Bethel?”

“It could not. It was much further off. Bethel disappeared, and in another minute there came some one flying down the path leading from the cottage. It was Thorn, and evidently in a state of intense terror. His face was livid, his eyes staring, and he panted and shook like one in the ague. Past me he tore, on down the path, and I afterwards heard the sound of his horse galloping away; it had been tied in the wood.”

“Did you follow him?”

“No. I wondered what had happened to put him in that state; but I made haste to the cottage, intending to reproach Afy with her duplicity. I leaped up the two steps, and fell over the prostrate body of Hallijohn. He was lying dead within the door. My gun, just discharged, was flung on the floor, its contents in Hallijohn’s side.”

You might have heard a pin drop in court, so intense was the interest.

“There appeared to be no one in the cottage, upstairs or down. I called to Afy, but she did not answer. I caught up the gun, and was running from the cottage when Locksley came out of the wood and looked at me. I grew confused, fearful, and I threw the gun back again and made off.”

“What were your motives for acting in that way?”

“A panic had come over me, and in that moment I must have lost the use of my reason, otherwise I never should have acted as I did. Thoughts, especially of fear, pass through our minds with astonishing swiftness, and I feared lest the crime should be fastened upon me. It was fear made me snatch up my gun, lest it should be found near the body; it was fear made me throw it back again when Locksley appeared in view–a fear you understand, from which all judgment, all reason, had departed. But for my own conduct, the charge never would have been laid to me.”

“Go on.”

“In my flight I came upon Bethel. I knew that if he had gone toward the cottage after the shot was fired, he must have encountered Thorn flying from it. He denied that he had; he said he had only gone along the path for a few paces, and had then plunged into the wood again. I believed him and departed.”

“Departed from West Lynne?”

“That night I did. It was a foolish, fatal step, the result of cowardice. I found the charge was laid to me, and I thought I would absent myself for a day or two, to see how things turned out. Next came the inquest and the verdict against me, and I then left for good.”

“This is the truth, so far as you are cognizant of it?”

“I swear that it is truth, and the whole truth, so far as I am cognizant of it,” replied Richard Hare, with emotion. “I could not assert it more solemnly were I before God.”

He was subjected to a rigid cross-examination, but his testimony was not shaken in the least. Perhaps not one present but was impressed with its truth.

Afy Hallijohn was recalled, and questioned as to Richard’s presence at her father’s house that night. It tallied with the account given by Richard; but it had to be drawn from her.

“Why did you decline to receive Richard Hare into the cottage, after appointing him to come?”

“Because I chose,” returned Afy.

“Tell the jury why you chose.”

“Well, I had got a friend with me–it was Captain Thorn,” she added, feeling that she should only be questioned on this point, so might as well acknowledge it. “I did not admit Richard Hare, for I fancied they might get up a quarrel if they were together.”

“For what purpose did Richard Hare bring down his gun–do you know?”

“It was to lend to my father. My father’s gun had something the matter with it, and was at the smith’s. I had heard him, the previous day, ask Mr. Richard to lend him one of his, and Mr. Richard said he would bring one, as he did.”

“You lodged the gun against the wall–safely?”

“Quite safely.”

“Was it touched by you, after placing it there, or by the prisoner?”

“I did not touch it; neither did he, that I saw. It was that same gun which was afterward found near my father, and had been discharged.”

The next witness called was Otway Bethel. He also held share in the curiosity of the public, but not in equal degree with Afy, still less with Richard Hare. The substance of his testimony was as follows:–

“On the evening that Hallijohn was killed, I was in the Abbey Wood, and I saw Richard Hare come down the path with a gun, as if he had come down from his own home.”

“Did Richard Hare see you?”

“No; he could not see me; I was right in the thicket. He went to the cottage door, and was about to enter, when Afy Hallijohn came hastily out of it, pulling the door to behind her, and holding it in her hand, as if afraid he would go in. Some colloquy ensued, but I was too far off to hear it; and then she took the gun from him and went indoors. Some time after that I saw Richard Hare amid the trees at a distance, farther off the cottage, then, than I was, and apparently watching the path. I was wondering what he was up to, hiding there, when I head a shot fired, close, as it seemed, to the cottage, and–“

“Stop a bit, witness. Could that shot have been fired by Richard Hare?”

“It could not. He was a quarter of a mile, nearly, away from it. I was much nearer the cottage than he.”

“Go on.”

“I could not imagine what that shot meant, or who could have fired it –not that I suspected mischief–and I knew that poachers did not congregate so near Hallijohn’s cottage. I set off to reconnoiter, and as I turned the corner, which brought the house within my view, I saw Captain Thorn, as he was called, come leaping out of it. His face was white with terror, his breath was gone–in short, I never saw any living man betray so much agitation. I caught his arm as he would have passed me. ‘What have you been about?’ I asked. ‘Was it you that fired?’ He–“

“Stay. Why did you suspect him?”

“From his state of excitement–from the terror he was in–that some ill had happened, I felt sure; and so would you, had you seen him as I did. My arresting him increased his agitation; he tried to throw me off, but I am a strong man, and I suppose he thought it best to temporize. ‘Keep dark upon it, Bethel,’ he said, ‘I will make it worth your while. The thing was not premeditated; it was done in the heat of passion. What business had the fellow to abuse me? I have done no harm to the girl.’ As he thus spoke, he took out a pocket book with the hand that was at liberty; I held the other–“

“As the prisoner thus spoke, you mean?”

“The prisoner. He took a bank-note from his pocket book, and thrust it into my hands. It was a note for fifty pounds. ‘What’s done can’t be undone, Bethel,’ he said, ‘and your saying that you saw me here can serve no good turn. Shall it be silence?’ I took the note and answered that it should be silence. I had not the least idea that anybody was killed.”

“What did you suppose had happened, then?”

“I could not suppose; I could not think; it all passed in the haste and confusion of a moment, and no definite idea occurred to me. Thorn flew on down the path, and I stood looking after him. The next was I heard footsteps, and I slipped within the trees. They were those of Richard Hare, who took the path to the cottage. Presently he returned, little less agitated than Thorn had been. I had gone into an open space, then, and he accosted me, asking if I had seen ‘that hound’ fly from the cottage? ‘What hound?’ I asked of him. ‘That fine fellow, that Thorn, who comes after Afy,’ he answered, but I stoutly denied that I had seen any one. Richard Hare continued his way, and I afterward found that Hallijohn was killed.”

“And so you took a bribe to conceal one of the foulest crimes that man ever committed, Mr. Otway Bethel!”

“I took the money, and I am ashamed to confess it. But it was done without reflection. I swear that had I known what crime it was intended to hush up, I never would have touched it. I was hard up for funds, and the amount tempted me. When I discovered what had really happened, and that Richard Hare was accused, I was thunderstruck at my own deed; many a hundred times since have I cursed the money; and the fate of Richard has been as a heavy weight upon my conscience.”

“You might have lifted the weight by confessing.”

“To what end? It was too late. Thorn had disappeared. I never heard of him, or saw him, until he came to West Lynne this last spring, as Sir Francis Levison, to oppose Mr. Carlyle. Richard Hare had also disappeared–had never been seen or heard of, and most people supposed he was dead. To what end then should I confess? Perhaps only to be suspected myself. Besides, I had taken the money upon a certain understanding, and it was only fair that I should keep to it.”

If Richard Hare was subjected to a severe cross-examination, a far more severe one was awaiting Otway Bethel. The judge spoke to him only once, his tone ringing with reproach.

“It appears then, witness, that you have retained within you, all these years, the proofs of Richard Hare’s innocence?”

“I can only acknowledge it with contrition, my lord.”

“What did you know of Thorn in those days?” asked the counsel.

“Nothing, save that he frequented the Abbey Wood, his object being Afy Hallijohn. I had never exchanged a word with him until that night; but I knew his name, Thorn–at least, the one he went by, and by his addressing me as Bethel, it appeared that he knew mine.”

The case for the prosecution closed. An able and ingenious speech was made for the defence, the learned counsel who offered it contending that there was still no proof of Sir Francis having been the guilty man. Neither was there any proof that the catastrophe was not the result of pure accident. A loaded gun, standing against a wall in a small room, was not a safe weapon, and he called upon the jury not rashly to convict in the uncertainty, but to give the prisoner the benefit of the doubt. He should call no witnesses, he observed, not even to character. Character! for Sir Francis Levison! The court burst into a grin; the only sober face in it being that of the judge.

The judge summed up. Certainly not in the prisoner’s favor; but, to use the expression of some amidst the audience, dead against him. Otway Bethel came in for a side shaft or two from his lordship; Richard Hare for sympathy. The jury retired about four o’clock, and the judge quitted the bench.

A very short time they were absent. Scarcely a quarter of an hour. His lordship returned into court, and the prisoner was again placed in the dock. He was the hue of marble, and, in his nervous agitation, kept incessantly throwing back his hair from his forehead–the action already spoken of. Silence was proclaimed.

“How say you, gentlemen of the jury? Guilty, or not guilty?”

“GUILTY.”

It was a silence to be felt; and the prisoner gasped once or twice convulsively.

“But,” said the foreman, “we wish to recommend him to mercy.”

“On what grounds?” inquired the judge.

“Because, my lord, we believe it was not a crime planned by the prisoner beforehand, but arose out of the bad passions of the moment, and was so committed.”

The judge paused, and drew something black from the receptacle of his pocket, buried deep in his robes.

“Prisoner at the bar! Have you anything to urge why sentence of death should not be passed upon you?”

The prisoner clutched the front of the dock. He threw up his head, as if shaking off the dread fear which had oppressed him, and the marble of his face changed to scarlet.

“Only this, my lord. The jury, in giving their reason for recommending me to your lordship’s mercy, have adopted the right view of the case as it actually occurred. The man Hallijohn’s life was taken by me, it will be useless for me to deny, in the face of the evidence given this day, but it was not taken in malice. When I quitted the girl, Afy, and went to the cottage for my hat, I no more contemplated injuring mortal man than I contemplate it at this moment. He was there, the father, and in the dispute that ensued the catastrophe occurred. My lord, it was not wilful murder.”

The prisoner ceased, and the judge, the black cap on his head, crossed his hands one upon the other.

“Prisoner at the bar. You have been convicted by clear and undoubted evidence of the crime of wilful murder. The jury have pronounced you guilty; and in their verdict I entirely coincide. That you took the life of that ill-fated and unoffending man, there is no doubt; you have, yourself, confessed it. It was a foul, a barbarous, a wicked act. I care not for what may have been the particular circumstances attending it; he may have provoked you by words; but no provocation of that nature could justify your drawing the gun upon him. Your counsel urged that you were a gentleman, a member of the British aristocracy, and therefore deserved consideration. I confess that I was much surprised to hear such a doctrine fall from his lips. In my opinion, you being what you are, your position in life makes your crime the worse, and I have always maintained that when a man possessed of advantages falls into sin, he deserves less consideration than does one who is poor, simple, and uneducated. Certain portions of the evidence given to-day (and I do not now allude to the actual crime) tell very greatly against you, and I am sure not one in the court but must have turned from them with abhorrence. You were pursuing the daughter of this man with no honorable purpose–and in this point your conduct contrasts badly with the avowal of Richard Hare, equally a gentleman with yourself. In this pursuit you killed her father; and not content with that, you still pursued the girl–and pursued her to ruin, basely deceiving her as to the actual facts, and laying the crime upon another. I cannot trust myself to speak further upon this point, nor is it necessary that I should; it is not to answer for that, that you stand before me. Uncalled, unprepared, and by you unpitied, you hurried that unfortunate man into eternity, and you must now expiate the crime with your own life. The jury have recommended you to mercy, and the recommendation will be forwarded in due course to the proper quarter, but you must be aware how frequently this clause is appended to a verdict, and how very rarely it is attended to, just cause being wanting. I can but enjoin you, and I do so most earnestly, to pass the little time that probably remains to you on earth in seeking repentance and forgiveness. You are best aware, yourself, what your past life has been; the world knows somewhat of it; but there is pardon above for the most guilty, when it is earnestly sought. It now only remains for me to pass the sentence of the law. It is, that you, Francis Levison, be taken back to the place from whence you came, and thence to the place of execution, and that you be there hanged by the neck until you are dead. And may the Lord God Almighty have mercy on your soul!”

“Amen!”

The court was cleared. The day’s excitement was over, and the next case was inquired for. Not quite over, however, yet, the excitement, and the audience crowded in again. For the next case proved to be the arraignment of Richard Hare the younger. A formal proceeding merely, in pursuance of the verdict of the coroner’s inquest. No evidence was offered against him, and the judge ordered him to be discharged. Richard, poor, ill-used, baited Richard was a free man again.

Then ensued the scene of all scenes. Half, at least, of those present, were residents of, or from near West Lynne. They had known Richard Hare from infancy–they had admired the boy in his pretty childhood– they had liked him in his unoffending boyhood, but they had been none the less ready to cast their harsh stones at him, and to thunder down their denunciations when the time came. In proportion to their fierceness then, was their contrition now; Richard had been innocent all the while; they had been more guilty than he.

An English mob, gentle or simple, never gets up its excitement by halves. Whether its demonstration be of a laudatory or a condemnatory nature, the steam is sure to be put on to bursting point. With one universal shout, with one bound, they rallied round Richard; they congratulated him; they overwhelmed him with good wishes; they expressed with shame their repentance; they said the future would atone for the past. Had he possessed a hundred hands, they would have been shaken off. And when Richard extracted himself, and turned, in his pleasant, forgiving, loving nature, to his father, the stern old justice, forgetting his pride and pomposity, burst into tears and sobbed like a child, as he murmured something about his also needing forgiveness.

“Dear father,” cried Richard, his own eyes wet, “it is forgiven and forgotten already. Think how happy we shall be again together, you, and I, and my mother.”

The justice’s hands, which had been wound around his son, relaxed their hold. They were twitching curiously; the body also began to twitch, and he fell upon the shoulder of Colonel Bethel in a second stroke of paralysis.

CHAPTER XLIII.

THE DEATH CHAMBER.

By the side of William Carlyle’s dying bed knelt the Lady Isabel. The time was at hand, and the boy was quite reconciled to his fate. Merciful, indeed, is God to dying children! It is astonishing how very readily, when the right means are taken, they may be brought to look with pleasure, rather than fear, upon their unknown journey.

The brilliant hectic, type of the disease, had gone from his cheeks, his features were white and wasted, and his eyes large and bright. His silky brown hair was pushed off his temples, and his little hot hands were thrown outside the bed.

“It won’t be very long to wait, you know, will it, Madame Vine?”

“For what, darling?”

“Before they all come. Papa and mamma, and Lucy, and all of them.”

A jealous feeling shot across her wearied heart. Was /she/ nothing to him? “Do you not care that I should come to you, William?”

“Yes, I hope you will. But do you think we shall know /everybody/ in Heaven? Or will it be only our own relations?”

“Oh, child! I think there will be no relations, as you call it, up there. We can trust all that to God, however it may be.”

William lay looking upward at the sky, apparently in thought, a dark blue, serene sky, from which shone the hot July sun. His bed had been moved toward the window, for he liked to sit in it, and look at the landscape. The window was open now, and the butterflies and bees sported in the summer air.

“I wonder how it will be?” pondered he, aloud. “There will be the beautiful city, its gates of pearl, and its shining precious stones, and its streets of gold; and there will be the clear river, and the trees with their fruits and their healing leaves, and the lovely flowers; and there will be the harps, and music, and singing. And what else will there be?”

“Everything that is desirable and beautiful, William; but, what we may not anticipate here.”

Another pause. “Madame Vine, will Jesus come for me, do you think, or will He send an angel?”

“Jesus has /promised/ to come for His own redeemed–for those who love Him and wait for Him.”

“Yes, yes, and then I shall be happy forever. It will be so pleasant to be there, never to be tired or ill again.”

“Pleasant? Ay! Oh, William! Would that the time were come!”

She was thinking of herself–of her freedom–though the boy knew it not. She buried her face in her hands and continued speaking; William had to bend his ear to catch the faint whisper.

” ‘And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying: neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.’ “

“Madame Vine, do you think mamma will be there?” he presently asked. “I mean mamma that was.”

“Ay, ere long.”

“But how shall I know her? You see, I have nearly forgotten what she was like.”

She leaned over him, laying her forehead upon his wasted arm, and burst into a flood of impassioned tears. “You will know her, never fear, William; she has not forgotten you.”

“But how can we be sure that she will be there?” debated William, after a pause of thought. “You know”–sinking his voice, and speaking with hesitation–“she was not quite good; she was not good enough to papa or to us. Sometimes I think, suppose she did not grow good, and did not ask God to forgive her!”

“Oh, William!” sobbed the unhappy lady, “her whole life, after she left you, was one long scene of repentance, of seeking forgiveness. Her repentance, her sorrow, was greater than she could bear, and—-“

“And what?” asked William, for there was a pause.

“Her heart broke in it–yearning after you and your father.”

“What makes you think it?”

“Child, I /know/ it!”

William considered. Then, had he been strong enough, he would have started up with energy. “Madame Vine, you could only know that by mamma’s telling you! Did you ever see her? Did you know her abroad?”

Lady Isabel’s thoughts were far away–up in the clouds perhaps. She reflected not on the possible consequences of her answer, or she had never given it.

“Yes, I knew her abroad.”

“Oh!” said the boy. “Why did you never tell us? What did she say? What was she like?”

“She said”–sobbing wildly–“that she was parted from her children here; but she should meet them in Heaven, and be with them forever. William, darling! all the awful pain, and sadness, and guilt of this world will be washed out, and God will wipe your tears away.”

“What was her face like?” he questioned softly.

“Like yours. Very much like Lucy’s.”

“Was she pretty?”

A momentary pause. “Yes.”

“Oh, dear, I am ill. Hold me!” cried out William, as his head sank to one side, and great drops, as large as peas, broke forth upon his clammy face. It appeared to be one of the temporary faint attacks that overpowered him at times lately, and Lady Isabel rang the bell hastily.

Wilson came in, in answer. Joyce was the usual attendant upon the sick room; but Mrs. Carlyle, with her infant, was passing the day at the Grove; unconscious of the critical state of William, and she had taken Joyce with her. It was the day following the trial. Mr. Justice Hare had been brought to West Lynne in his second attack, and Barbara had gone to see him, to console her mother, and to welcome Richard to his home again. If one carriage drove, that day, to the Grove, with cards and inquiries, fifty did, not to speak of the foot callers. “It is all meant by way of attention to you, Richard,” said gentle Mrs. Hare, smiling through her loving tears at her restored son. Lucy and Archie were dining at Miss Carlyle’s, and Sarah attended little Arthur, leaving Wilson free. She came in, in answer to Madame Vine’s ring.

“Is he off in another faint?” unceremoniously cried she, hastening to the bed.

“I think so. Help to raise him.”

William did not faint. No; the attack was quite different from those he was subject to. Instead of losing consciousness and power, as was customary, he shook as if he had the ague, and laid hold both of Madame Vine and Wilson, grasping them convulsively.

“Don’t let me fall! Don’t let me fall!” he gasped.

“My dear, you cannot fall,” responded Madame Vine. “You forget that you are on the bed.”

He clasped them yet, and trembled still, as from fear. “Don’t let me fall! Don’t let me fall” the incessant burden of his cry.

The paroxysm passed. They wiped his brow, and stood looking at him; Wilson with a pursed up mouth, and a peculiar expression of face. She put a spoonful of restorative jelly between his lips, and he swallowed it, but shook his head when she would have given him another. Turning his face to the pillow, in a few minutes he was in a doze.

“What could it have been?” exclaimed Lady Isabel, in an undertone, to Wilson.

“/I/ know,” was the oracular answer. “I saw this same sort of an attack once before, madame.”

“And what caused it?”

“Twasn’t in a child though,” went on Wilson–“’twas in a grown person. But that’s nothing, it comes for the same thing in all. I think he was taken for death.”

“Who?” uttered Lady Isabel, startled.

Wilson made no reply in words, but she pointed with her finger to the bed.

“Oh, Wilson, he is not so ill as that. Mr. Wainwright said this morning, that he might last a week or two.”

Wilson composedly sat herself down in the easiest chair. She was not wont to put herself out of the way for the governess; and that governess was too much afraid of her, in one sense, to let her know her place. “As to Wainwright, he’s nobody,” quoth she. “And if he saw the child’s breath going out before his face, and knew that the next moment would be his last, he’d vow to us all that he was good for twelve hours to come. You don’t know Wainwright as I do, madame. He was our doctor at mother’s; and he has attended in all the places I have lived in since I went out to service. Five years I was maid at Mrs. Hare’s. I came here when Miss Lucy was a baby, and in all my places has he attended, like one’s shadow. My Lady Isabel thought great guns of old Wainwright, I remember. It was more than I did.”

My Lady Isabel made no response to this. She took a seat and watched William through her glasses. His breathing was more labored than usual.

“That idiot, Sarah, says to me to-day, says she, ‘Which of his two grandpapas will they bury him by, old Mr. Carlyle or Lord Mount Severn?’ ‘Don’t be a calf!’ I answered her. ‘D’ye think they’ll stick him out in the corner with my lord?–he’ll be put into the Carlyle vault, of course,’ It would have been different, you see, Madame Vine, if my lady had died at home, all proper–Mr. Carlyle’s wife. They’d have buried her, no doubt, by her father, and the boy would have been laid with her. But she did not.”

No reply was made by Madame Vine, and a silence ensued; nothing to be heard but that fleeting breath.

“I wonder how that beauty feels?” suddenly broke forth Wilson again, her tone one of scornful irony.

Lady Isabel, her eyes and her thoughts absorbed by William, positively thought Wilson’s words must relate to him. She turned to her in surprise.

“That bright gem in the prison at Lynneborough,” exclaimed Wilson. “I hope he may have found himself pretty well since yesterday! I wonder how many trainfuls from West Lynne will go to his hanging?”

Isabel’s face turned crimson, her heart sick. She had not dared to inquire how the trial terminated. The subject altogether was too dreadful, and nobody had happened to mention it in her hearing.

“Is he condemned?” she breathed, in a low tone.

“He is condemned, and good luck to him! And Mr. Otway Bethel’s let loose again, and good luck to /him/. A nice pair they are! Nobody went from this house to hear the trial–it might not have been pleasant, you know, to Mr. Carlyle; but people came in last night and told us all about it. Young Richard Hare chiefly convicted him. He is back again, and so nice-looking, they say–ten times more so than he was when quite a young man. You should have heard, they say, the cheering and shouts that greeted Mr. Richard when his innocence came out; it pretty near rose off the roof of the court, and the judge didn’t stop it.”

Wilson paused, but there was no answering comment. On she went again.

“When Mr. Carlyle brought the news home last evening, and broke it to his wife, telling her how Mr. Richard had been received with acclamations, she nearly fainted, for she’s not strong yet. Mr. Carlyle called out to me to bring some water–I was in the next room with the baby–and there she was, the tears raining from her eyes, and he holding her to him. I always said there was a whole world of love between those two; though he did go and marry another. Mr. Carlyle ordered me to put the water down, and sent me away again. But I don’t fancy he told her of old Hare’s attack until this morning.”

Lady Isabel lifted her aching forehead. “What attack?”

“Why, madame, don’t you know. I declare you box yourself up in the house, keeping from everybody, and you hear nothing. You might as well be living at the bottom of a coal-pit. Old Hare had another stroke in the court at Lynneborough, and that’s why my mistress is gone to the Grove to-day.”

“Who says Richard Hare’s come home, Wilson?”

The question–the weak, scarcely audible question–had come from the dying boy. Wilson threw up her hands, and made a bound to the bed. “The like of that!” she uttered, aside to Mrs. Vine. “One never knows when to take these sick ones. Master William, you hold your tongue and drop to sleep again. Your papa will be home soon from Lynneborough; and if you talk and get tired, he’ll say it’s my fault. Come shut your eyes. Will you have a bit more jelly?”

William, making no reply to the offer of jelly, buried his face again on the pillow. But he was grievously restless; the nearly worn-out spirit was ebbing and flowing.

Mr. Carlyle was at Lynneborough. He always had much business there at assize time and the /Nisi Prius/ Court; but the previous day he had not gone himself, Mr. Dill had been dispatched to represent him.

Between seven and eight he returned home, and came into William’s chamber. The boy brightened up at the well-known presence.

“Papa!”

Mr. Carlyle sat down on the bed and kissed him. The passing beams of the sun, slanting from the horizon, shone into the room, and Mr. Carlyle could view well the dying face. The gray hue of death was certainly on it.

“Is he worse?” he exclaimed hastily, to Madame Vine, who was jacketed, and capped, and spectacled, and tied up round the throat, and otherwise disguised, in her universal fashion.

“He appears worse this evening, sir–more weak.”

“Papa,” panted William, “is the trial over?”

“What trial, my boy?”

“Sir Francis Levison’s.”

“It was over yesterday. Never trouble your head about him, my brave boy, he is not worth it.”

“But I want to know. Will they hang him?”

“He is sentenced to it.”

“Did he kill Hallijohn?”

“Yes. Who has been talking to him upon the subject?” Mr. Carlyle continued to Madame Vine, with marked displeasure in his tone.

“Wilson mentioned it, sir,” was the low answer.

“Oh, papa! What will he do? Will Jesus forgive /him/?”

“We must hope it.”

“Do you hope it, papa?”

“Yes. I wish that all the world may be forgiven, William, whatever may have been their sins. My child, how restless you seem!”

“I can’t keep in one place; the bed gets wrong. Pull me up on the pillow, will you Madame Vine?”

Mr. Carlyle gently lifted the boy himself.

“Madame Vine is an untiring nurse to you, William,” he observed, gratefully casting a glance toward her in the distance, where she had retreated, and was shaded by the window curtain.

William made no reply; he seemed to be trying to recall something. “I forget! I forget!”

“Forget what?” asked Mr. Carlyle.

“It was something I wanted to ask you, or to tell you. Isn’t Lucy come home?”

“I suppose not.”

“Papa, I want Joyce.”

“I will send her home to you. I am going for your mamma after dinner.”

“For mamma?–oh, I remember now. Papa, how shall I know mamma in Heaven? Not this mamma.”

Mr. Carlyle did not immediately reply. The question may have puzzled him. William continued hastily; possibly mistaking the motive of the silence.

“She /will/ be in Heaven, you know.”

“Yes, yes, child,” speaking hurriedly.

“Madame Vine knows she will. She saw her abroad; and mamma told her that–what was it, madame?”

Madame Vine grew sick with alarm. Mr. Carlyle turned his eyes upon her scarlet face–as much as he could get to see of it. She would have escaped from the room if she could.

“Mamma was more sorry than she could bear,” went on William, finding he was not helped. “She wanted you, papa, and she wanted us, and her heart broke, and she died.”

A flush rose to Mr. Carlyle’s brow. He turned inquiringly to Madame Vine.

“Oh, I beg your pardon, sir,” she murmured, with desperate energy. “I ought not to have spoken; I ought not to have interfered in your family affairs. I spoke only as I thought it must be, sir. The boy seemed troubled about his mother.”

Mr. Carlyle was at sea. “Did you meet his mother abroad? I scarcely understand.”

She lifted her hand and covered her glowing face. “No, sir.” Surely the recording angel blotted out the words! If ever a prayer for forgiveness went up from an aching heart, it must have gone up then, for the equivocation over her child’s death-bed!

Mr. Carlyle went toward her. “Do you perceive the change in his countenance?” he whispered.

“Yes, sir. He has looked like this since a strange fit of trembling that came on in the afternoon. Wilson thought he might be taken for death. I fear that some four and twenty hours will end it.”

Mr. Carlyle rested his elbow on the window frame, and his hand upon his brow, his drooping eyelids falling over his eyes. “It is hard to lose him.”

“Oh, sir, he will be better off!” she wailed, choking down the sobs and the emotion that arose threateningly. “We /can/ bear death; it is not the worst parting that the earth knows. He will be quit of this cruel world, sheltered in Heaven. I wish we were all there!”

A servant came to say that Mr. Carlyle’s dinner was served, and he proceeded to it with what appetite he had. When he returned to the sick room the daylight had faded, and a solitary candle was placed where its rays could not fall upon the child’s face. Mr. Carlyle took the light in his hand to scan that face again. He was lying sideways on the pillow, his hollow breath echoing through the room. The light caused him to open his eyes.

“Don’t, papa, please. I like it dark.”

“Only for a moment, my precious boy.” And not for more than a moment did Mr. Carlyle hold it. The blue, pinched, ghastly look was there yet. Death was certainly coming on quick.

At that moment Lucy and Archibald came in, on their return from their visit to Miss Carlyle. The dying boy looked up eagerly.

“Good-bye, Lucy,” he said, putting out his cold, damp hand.

“I am not going out,” replied Lucy. “We have but just come home.”

“Good-bye, Lucy,” repeated he.

She laid hold of the little hand then, leaned over, and kissed him. “Good-bye, William; but indeed I am not going out anywhere.”

“I am,” said he. “I am going to Heaven. Where’s Archie?”

Mr. Carlyle lifted Archie on to the bed. Lucy looked frightened, Archie surprised.

“Archie, good-bye; good-bye, dear, I am going to Heaven; to that bright, blue sky, you know. I shall see mamma there, and I’ll tell her that you and Lucy are coming soon.”

Lucy, a sensitive child, broke into a loud storm of sobs, enough to disturb the equanimity of any sober sick room. Wilson hastened in at the sound, and Mr. Carlyle sent the two children away, with soothing promises that they should see William in the morning, if he continued well enough.

Down on her knees, her face buried in the counterpane, a corner of it stuffed into her mouth that it might help to stifle her agony, knelt Lady Isabel. The moment’s excitement was well nigh beyond her strength of endurance. Her own child–his child–they alone around its death- bed, and she might not ask or receive a word of comfort, of consolation!

Mr. Carlyle glanced at her as he caught her choking sobs just as he would have glanced at any other attentive governess–feeling her sympathy, doubtless, but nothing more; she was not heart and part with him and his departing boy. Lower and lower bent he over that boy; for his eyes were wet. “Don’t cry, papa,” whispered William, raising his feeble hand caressingly to his father’s cheek, “I am not afraid to go. Jesus is coming for me.”

“Afraid to go! Indeed I hope not, my gentle boy. You are going to God –to happiness. A few years–we know not how few–and we shall all come to you.”

“Yes, you will be sure to come; I know that. I shall tell mamma so. I dare say she is looking out for me now. Perhaps she’s standing on the banks of the river, watching the boats.”

He had evidently got that picture of Martin’s in his mind, “The Plains of Heaven.” Mr. Carlyle turned to the table. He saw some strawberry juice, pressed from the fresh fruit, and moistened with it the boy’s fevered lips.

“Papa, I can’t think how Jesus can be in all the boats! Perhaps they don’t go quite at the same time. He must be, you know, because He comes to fetch us.”

“He will be yours, darling,” was the whispered, fervent answer.

“Oh, yes. He will take me all the way up to God, and say, ‘Here’s a poor little boy come, you must please to forgive him and let him go into Heaven, because I died for him!’ Papa did you know that mamma’s heart broke?”

“William, I think it likely that your poor mamma’s heart did break, ere death came. But let us talk of you, not of her. Are you in pain?”

“I can’t breathe; I can’t swallow. I wish Joyce was here.”

“She will not be long now.”

The boy nestled himself in his father’s arms, and in a few minutes appeared to be asleep. Mr. Carlyle, after a while, gently laid him on his pillow, and watched him, and then turned to depart.

“Oh, papa! Papa!” he cried out, in a tone of painful entreaty, opening wide his yearning eyes, “say good-bye to me!”

Mr. Carlyle’s tears fell upon the little upturned face, as he once more caught it to his breast.

“My darling, your papa will soon be back. He is going to bring mamma to see you.”

“And pretty little baby Anna?”

“And baby Anna, if you would like her to come in. I will not leave my darling boy for long; he need not fear. I shall not leave you again to-night, William, when once I am back.”

“Then put me down, and go, papa.”

A lingering embrace–a fond, lingering, tearful embrace–Mr. Carlyle holding him to his beating heart, then he laid him comfortably on his pillow, gave him a teaspoonful of strawberry juice, and hastened away.

“Good-bye, papa!” came forth the little feeble cry.

It was not heard. Mr. Carlyle was gone, gone from his living child– forever. Up rose Lady Isabel, and flung her arms aloft in a storm of sobs!

“Oh, William, darling! in this dying moment let me be to you as your mother!”

Again he unclosed his wearied eyelids. It is probable that he only partially understood.

“Papa’s gone for her.”

“Not /her/! I–I—-” Lady Isabel checked herself, and fell sobbing on the bed. No; not even at the last hour when the world was closing on him, dared she say, I am your mother.

Wilson re-entered. “He looks as if he were dropping off to sleep,” quoth she.

“Yes,” said Lady Isabel. “You need not wait, Wilson. I will ring if he requires anything.”

Wilson though withal not a bad-hearted woman, was not one to remain for pleasure in a sick-room, if told she might leave it. She, Lady Isabel, remained alone. She fell on her knees again, this time in prayer for the departing spirit, on its wing, and that God would mercifully vouchsafe herself a resting-place with it in heaven.

A review of the past then rose up before her, from the time of her first entering that house, the bride of Mr. Carlyle, to her present sojourn in it. The old scenes passed through her mind like the changing picture in a phantasmagoria.

Why should they have come, there and then? She knew not.

William slept on silently; /she/ thought of the past. The dreadful reflection, “If I had not done as I did, how different would it have been now!” had been sounding its knell in her heart so often that she had almost ceased to shudder at it. The very nails of her hands had, before now, entered the palms, with the sharp pain it brought. Stealing over her more especially this night, there, as she knelt, her head lying on the counterpane, came the recollection of that first illness of hers. How she had lain, and, in that unfounded jealousy, imagined Barbara the house’s mistress. She dead! Barbara exalted to her place. Mr. Carlyle’s wife, her child’s stepmother! She recalled the day when, her mind excited by a certain gossip of Wilson’s–it was previously in a state of fever bordering on delirium–she had prayed her husband, in terror and anguish, not to marry Barbara. “How could he marry her?” he had replied, in his soothing pity. “She, Isabel, was his wife. Who was Barbara? Nothing to them?” But it had all come to pass. /She/ had brought it forth. Not Mr. Carlyle; not Barbara; she alone. Oh, the dreadful misery of the retrospect!

Lost in thought, in anguish past and present, in self-condemning repentance, the time passed on. Nearly an hour must have elapsed since Mr. Carlyle’s departure, and William had not disturbed her. But who was this, coming into the room? Joyce.

She hastily rose up, as Joyce, advancing with a quiet step drew aside the clothes to look at William. “Master says he has been wanting me,” she observed. “Why–oh!”

It was a sharp, momentary cry, subdued as soon as uttered. Madame Vine sprang forward to Joyce’s side, looking also. The pale young face lay calm in its utter stillness; the busy little heart had ceased to beat. Jesus Christ had indeed come and taken the fleeting spirit.

Then she lost all self-control. She believed that she had reconciled herself to the child’s death, that she could part with him without too great emotion. But she had not anticipated it would be quite so soon; she had deemed that some hours more would at least be given him, and now the storm overwhelmed her. Crying, sobbing, calling, she flung herself upon him; she clasped him to her; she dashed off her disguising glasses; she laid her face upon his, beseeching him to come back to her, that she might say farewell–to her, his mother; her darling child, her lost William!

Joyce was terrified–terrified for consequences. With her full strength she pulled her from the boy, praying her to consider–to be still. “Do not, do not, for the love of Heaven! /My lady! My lady!/”

It was the old familiar title that struck upon her fears and induced calmness. She stared at Joyce, and retreated backward, after the manner of one receding from some hideous vision. Then, as recollection came to her, she snatched her glasses up and hurried them on.

“My lady, let me take you into your room. Mr. Carlyle is come; he is just bringing up his wife. Only think if you should give way before him! Pray come away!”

“How did you know me?” she asked in a hollow voice.

“My lady, it was that night when there was an alarm of fire. I went close up to you to take Master Archibald from your arms; and, as sure as I am now standing here, I believe that for the moment my senses left me. I thought I saw a spectre–the spectre of my dead lady. I forgot the present; I forgot that all were standing round me; that you, Madame Vine, were alive before me. Your face was not disguised then; the moonlight shone full upon it, and I knew it, after the first few moments of terror, to be, in dreadful truth, the /living/ one of Lady Isabel. My lady, come away! We shall have Mr. Carlyle here.”

Poor thing! She sank upon her knees, in her humility, her dread. “Oh, Joyce, have pity upon me! don’t betray me! I will leave the house; indeed I will. Don’t betray me while I am in it!”

“My lady, you have nothing to fear from me. I have kept the secret buried within my breast since then. Last April! It has nearly been too much for me. By night and by day I have had no peace, dreading what might come out. Think of the awful confusion, the consequences, should it come to the knowledge of Mr. and Mrs. Carlyle. Indeed, my lady, you never ought to have come.”

“Joyce,” she said, hollowly, lifting her haggard face, “I could not keep away from my unhappy children. Is it no punishment to /me/, think you, the being here?” she added, vehemently. “To see him–my husband– the husband of another! It is killing me.”

“Oh, my lady, come away! I hear him; I hear him!”

Partly coaxing, partly dragging her, Joyce took her into her own room, and left her there. Mr. Carlyle was at that moment at the door of the sick one. Joyce sprang forward. Her face, in her emotion and fear, was of one livid whiteness, and she shook as William had shaken, poor child, in the afternoon. It was only too apparent in the well-lighted corridor.

“Joyce,” he exclaimed, in amazement, “what ails you?”

“Sir! master!” she panted; “be prepared. Master William–Master William—-“

“Joyce! Not /dead/!”

“Alas, yes, sir!”

Mr. Carlyle strode into the chamber. But ere he was well across it, he turned back to slip the bolt of the door. On the pillow lay the white, thin face, at rest now.

“My boy! my boy! Oh, my God!” he murmured, in bowed reverence, “mayest Thou have received this child to rest in Jesus, even as, I trust, Thou hadst already received his unhappy mother!”

CHAPTER XLIV.

LORD VANE DATING FORWARD.

To the burial of William Carlyle came Lord Mount Severn and his son. Wilson had been right in her surmises as to the resting-place. The Carlyle vault was opened for him, and an order went forth to the sculptor for an inscription to be added to their marble tablet in the church: “William Vane Carlyle, eldest son of Archibald Carlyle, of East Lynne.” Amongst those who attended the funeral as mourners went one more notable in the eyes of the gazers than the rest–Richard Hare