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  • 1861
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was passing. Mr. and Mrs. Hare and Barbara were seated at the meal; somehow, meals always did seem in process at Justice Hare’s; if it was not breakfast, it was luncheon–if it was not luncheon, it was dinner –if it was not dinner, it was tea. Barbara sat in tears, for the justice was giving her a “piece of his mind,” and poor Mrs. Hare deferently agreeing with her husband, as she would have done had he proposed to set the house on fire and burn her up in it, yet sympathizing with Barbara, moved uneasily in her chair.

“You do it for the purpose; you do it to anger me,” thundered the justice, bringing down his hand on the tea-table and causing the cups to rattle.

“No I don’t, papa,” sobbed Barbara.

“Then why /do/ you do it?”

Barbara was silent.

“No; you can’t answer; you have nothing to urge. What is the matter, pray, with Major Thorn? Come, I will be answered.”

“I don’t like him,” faltered Barbara.

“You do like him; you are telling me an untruth. You have liked him well enough whenever he has been here.”

“I like him as an acquaintance, papa; not as a husband.”

“Not as a husband!” repeated the exasperated justice. “Why, bless my heart and body, the girl’s going mad! Not as a husband! Who asked you to like him as a husband before he became such? Did ever you hear that it was necessary or expedient, or becoming for a young lady to act on and begin to ‘like’ a gentleman as ‘her husband?’ “

Barbara felt a little bewildered.

“Here’s the whole parish saying that Barbara Hare can’t be married, that nobody will have her, on account of–of–of that cursed stain left by—-, I won’t trust myself to name him, I should go too far. Now, don’t you think that’s a pretty disgrace, a fine state of things?”

“But it is not true,” said Barbara; “people do ask me.”

“But what’s the use of their asking when you say ‘No?’ ” raved the justice. “Is that the way to let the parish know that they ask? You are an ungrateful, rebellious, self-willed daughter, and you’ll never be otherwise.”

Barbara’s tears flowed freely. The justice gave a dash at the bell handle, to order the tea things carried away, and after their removal the subject was renewed, together with Barbara’s grief. That was the worst of Justice Hare. Let him seize hold of a grievance, it was not often he got upon a real one, and he kept on at it, like a blacksmith hammering at his forge. In the midst of a stormy oration, tongue and hands going together, Mr. Carlyle came in.

Not much altered; not much. A year and three-quarters had gone by and they had served to silver his hair upon the temples. His manner, too, would never again be careless and light as it once had been. He was the same keen man of business, the same pleasant, intelligent companion; the generality of people saw no change in him. Barbara rose to escape.

“No,” said Justice Hare, planting himself between her and the door; “that’s the way you like to get out of my reach when I am talking to you. You won’t go; so sit down again. I’ll tell you of your ill- conduct before Mr. Carlyle, and see if that will shame you.”

Barbara resumed her seat, a rush of crimson dyeing her cheeks. And Mr. Carlyle looked inquiringly, seeming to ask an explanation of her distress. The justice continued after his own fashion.

“You know, Carlyle, that horrible blow that fell upon us, that shameless disgrace. Well, because the parish can’t clack enough about the fact itself, it must begin about Barbara, saying that the disgrace and humiliation are reflected upon her, and that nobody will come near her to ask her to be his wife. One would think, rather than lie under the stigma and afford the parish room to talk, she’d marry the first man that came, if it was the parish beadle–anybody else would. But now, what are the facts? You’ll stare when you know them. She has received a bushel of good offers–a bushel of them,” repeated the justice, dashing his hand down on his knee, “and she says ‘No!’ to all. The last was to-day, from Major Thorn, and, my young lady takes and puts the stopper upon it, as usual, without reference to me or her mother, without saying with your leave or by your leave. She wants to be kept in her room for a week upon bread and water, to bring her to her senses.”

Mr. Carlyle glanced at Barbara. She was sitting meekly under the infliction, her wet eyelashes falling on her flushed cheeks and shading her eyes. The justice was heated enough, and had pushed his flaxen wig nearly hind-part before, in the warmth of his argument.

“What did you say to her?” snapped the justice.

“Matrimony may not have charms for Barbara,” replied Mr. Carlyle half jokingly.

“Nothing does have charms for her that ought to have,” growled Justice Hare. “She’s one of the contrary ones. By the way, though,” hastily resumed the justice, leaving the objectionable subject, as another flashed across his memory, “they were coupling your name and matrimony together, Carlyle, last night, at the Buck’s Head.”

A very perceptible tinge of red rose to the face of Mr. Carlyle, telling of inward emotion, but his voice and manner betrayed none.

“Indeed,” he carelessly said.

“Ah, you are a sly one; you are, Carlyle. Remember how sly you were over your first—-” marriage, Justice Hare was going to bring out, but it suddenly occurred to him that all circumstances considered, it was not precisely the topic to recall to Mr. Carlyle. So he stopped himself in the utterance, coughed, and went on again. “There you go, over to see Sir John Dobede, /not/ to see Sir John, but paying court to Miss Dobede.”

“So the Buck’s Head was amusing itself with that!” good-naturedly observed Mr. Carlyle. “Well, Miss Dobede is going to be married, and I am drawing up the settlements.”

“It’s not she; she marries young Somerset; everybody knows that. It’s the other one, Louisa. A nice girl, Carlyle.”

“Very,” responded Mr. Carlyle, and it was all the answer he gave. The justice, tired of sitting indoors, tired, perhaps, of extracting nothing satisfactory from Mr. Carlyle, rose, shook himself, set his wig aright before the chimney-glass, and quitted the house on his customary evening visit to the Buck’s Head. Barbara, who watched him down the path, saw that he encountered someone who happened to be passing the gate. She could not at first distinguish who it might be, nothing but an arm and shoulder cased in velveteen met her view, but as their positions changed in conversation–his and her father’s–she saw that it was Locksley; he had been the chief witness, not a vindictive one; he could not help himself, against her brother Richard, touching the murder of Hallijohn.

Meanwhile Mrs. Hare had drawn Mr. Carlyle into a chair close by her own.

“Archibald, will you forgive me if I say a word upon the topic introduced by Mr. Hare?” she said, in a low tone, as she shook his hand. “You know how fondly I have ever regarded you, second only to my poor Richard. Your welfare and happiness are precious to me. I wish I could in any way promote them. It occurs to me, sometimes, that you are not at present so happy as you might be.”

“I have some sources of happiness,” said Mr. Carlyle. “My children and I have plenty of sources of interest. What do you mean, dear Mrs. Hare?”

“Your home might be made happier.”

Mr. Carlyle smiled, nearly laughed. “Cornelia takes care of that, as she did in the old days, you know.”

“Yes, I know. Would it not be as well to consider whether she would not be better in a home of her own–and for you to give East Lynne another mistress?”

He shook his head.

“Archibald, it would be happier for you; it would indeed. It is only in new ties that you can forget the past. You might find recompense yet for the sorrow you have gone through; and I know none,” repeated Mrs. Hare, emphatically, “more calculated to bring it you than that sweet girl, Louisa Dobede.”

“So long as–” Mr. Carlyle was beginning, and had not got so far in his sentence, when he was interrupted by an exclamation from Barbara.

“What can be the matter with papa? Locksley must have said something to anger him. He is coming in the greatest passion, mamma; his face crimson, and his hands and arms working.”

“Oh, dear, Barbara!” was all poor Mrs. Hare’s reply. The justice’s great bursts of passion frightened her.

In he came, closed the door, and stood in the middle of the room, looking alternately at Mrs. Hare and Barbara.

“What is this cursed report, that’s being whispered in the place!” quoth he, in a tone of suppressed rage, but not unmixed with awe.

“What report?” asked Mr. Carlyle, for the justice waited for an answer, and Mrs. Hare seemed unable to speak. Barbara took care to keep silence; she had some misgivings that the justice’s words might be referring to herself–to the recent grievance.

“A report that he–/he/–has been here disguised as a laborer, has dared to show himself in the place where he’ll come yet, to the gibbet.”

Mrs. Hare’s face turned as white as death; Mr. Carlyle rose and dexterously contrived to stand before her, so that it should not be seen. Barbara silently locked her hands, one within the other, and turned to the window.

“Of whom did you speak?” asked Mr. Carlyle, in a matter-of-fact tone, as if he were putting the most matter-of-fact question. He knew too well; but he thought to temporize for the sake of Mrs. Hare.

“Of whom do I speak!” uttered the exasperated justice, nearly beside himself with passion; “of whom would I speak but the bastard Dick! Who else in West Lynne is likely to come to a felon’s death?”

“Oh, Richard!” sobbed forth Mrs. Hare, as she sank back in her chair, “be merciful. He is our own true son.”

“Never a true son of the Hares,” raved the justice. “A true son of wickedness, and cowardice, and blight, and evil. If he has dared to show his face at West Lynne, I’ll set the whole police of England upon his track, that he may be brought here as he ought, if he must come. When Locksley told me of it just now, I raised my hand to knock him down, so infamously false did I deem the report. Do /you/ know anything of his having been here?” continued the justice to his wife, in a pointed, resolute tone.

How Mrs. Hare would have extricated herself, or what she would have answered, cannot even be imagined, but Mr. Carlyle interposed.

“You are frightening Mrs. Hare, sir. Don’t you see that she knows nothing of it–that the very report of such a thing is alarming her into illness? But–allow me to inquire what it may be that Locksley said?”

“I met him at the gate,” retorted Justice Hare, turning his attention upon Mr. Carlyle. “He was going by as I reached it. ‘Oh, justice, I am glad I met you. That’s a nasty report in the place that Richard has been here. I’d see what I could do toward hushing it up, sir, if I were you, for it may only serve to put the police in mind of by gone things, which it may be better they should forget.’ Carlyle, I went, as I tell you, to knock him down. I asked him how he could have the hardihood to repeat such slander to my face. He was on the high horse directly; said the parish spoke the slander, not he; and I got out of him what it was he had heard.”

“And what was it?” interrupted Mr. Carlyle, more eagerly than he generally spoke.

“Why, they say the fellow showed himself here some time ago, a year or so, disguised as a farm laborer–confounded fools! Not but what he’d have been the fool had he done it.”

“To be sure he would,” repeated Mr. Carlyle, “and he is not fool enough for that, sir. Let West Lynne talk, Mr. Hare; but do not put faith in a word of its gossip. I never do. Poor Richard, wherever he may be–“

“I won’t have him pitied in my presence,” burst forth the justice. “Poor Richard, indeed! Villain Richard, if you please.”

“I was about to observe that, wherever he may be–whether in the backwoods of America, or digging for gold in California, or wandering about the United Kingdom–there is little fear that he will quit his place of safety to dare the dangerous ground of West Lynne. Had I been you, sir, I should have laughed at Locksley and his words.”

“Why does West Lynne invent such lies?”

“Ah, there’s the rub. I dare say West Lynne could not tell why, if it were paid for doing it; but it seems to have been a lame story it had got up this time. If they must have concocted a report that Richard had been seen at West Lynne, why put it back to a year ago–why not have fixed it for to-day or yesterday? If I heard anything more, I would treat it with the silence and contempt it deserves, justice.”

Silence and contempt were not greatly in the justice’s line; noise and explosion were more so. But he had a high opinion of the judgment of Mr. Carlyle; and growling a sort of assent, he once more set forth to pay his evening visit.

“Oh, Archibald!” uttered Mrs. Hare, when her husband was half-way down the path, “what a mercy that you were here! I should inevitably have betrayed myself.”

Barbara turned round from the window, “But what could have possessed Locksley to say what he did?” she exclaimed.

“I have no doubt Locksley spoke with a motive,” said Mr. Carlyle. “He is not unfriendly to Richard, and thought, probably, that by telling Mr. Hare of the report he might get it stopped. The rumor had been mentioned to me.”

Barbara turned cold all over. “How can it have come to light?” she breathed.

“I am at a loss to know,” said Mr. Carlyle. “The person to mention it to me was Tom Herbert. ‘I say,’ said he meeting me yesterday, ‘what’s this row about Dick Hare?’ ‘What now?’ I asked him. ‘Why, that Dick was at West Lynne some time back, disguised as a farm laborer.’ Just the same, you see, that Locksley said to Mr. Hare. I laughed at Tom Herbert,” continued Mr. Carlyle; “turned his report into ridicule also, before I had done with him.”

“Will it be the means of causing Richard’s detection?” murmured Mrs. Hare from between her dry lips.

“No, no,” warmly responded Mr. Carlyle. “Had the report arisen immediately after he was really here, it might not have been so pleasant; but nearly two years have elapsed since the period. Be under no uneasiness, dear Mrs. Hare, for rely upon it there is no cause.”

“But how /could/ it have come out, Archibald?” she urged, “and at this distant period of time?”

“I assure you I am quite at a loss to imagine. Had anybody at West Lynne seen and recognized Richard, they would have spoken of it at the time. Do not let it trouble you; the rumor will die away.”

Mrs. Hare sighed deeply, and left the room to proceed to her own chamber. Barbara and Mr. Carlyle were alone.

“Oh, that the real murderer could be discovered!” she aspirated, clasping her hands. “To be subjected to these shocks of fear is dreadful. Mamma will not be herself for days to come.”

“I wish the right man could be found; but it seems as far off as ever,” remarked Mr. Carlyle.

Barbara sat ruminating. It seemed that she would say something to Mr. Carlyle, but a feeling caused her to hesitate. When she did at length speak, it was in a low, timid voice.

“You remember the description Richard gave, that last night, of the person he had met–the true Thorn?”

“Yes.”

“Did it strike you then–has it ever occurred to you to think–that it accorded with some one?”

“In what way, Barbara?” he asked, after a pause. “It accorded with the description Richard always gave of the man Thorn.”

“Richard spoke of the peculiar movement of throwing off the hair from the forehead–in this way. Did that strike you as being familiar, in connection with the white hand and the diamond ring?”

“Many have a habit of pushing off their hair–I think I do it myself sometimes. Barbara, what do you mean? Have you a suspicion of any one?”

“Have you?” she returned, answering the question by asking another.

“I have not. Since Captain Thorn was disposed of, my suspicions have not pointed anywhere.”

This sealed Barbara’s lips. She had hers, vague doubts, bringing wonder more than anything else. At times she had thought the same doubts might have occurred to Mr. Carlyle; she now found that they had not. The terrible domestic calamity which had happened to Mr. Carlyle the same night that Richard protested he had seen Thorn, had prevented Barbara’s discussing the matter with him then, and she had never done so since. Richard had never been further heard of, and the affair had remained in abeyance.

“I begin to despair of its ever being discovered,” she observed. “What will become of poor Richard?”

“We can but wait, and hope that time may bring forth its own elucidation,” continued Mr. Carlyle.

“Ah,” sighed Barbara, “but it is weary waiting–weary, weary.”

“How is it you contrive to get under the paternal displeasure?” he resumed, in a gayer tone.

She blushed vividly, and it was her only answer.

“The Major Thorn alluded to by your papa is our old friend, I presume?”

Barbara inclined her head.

“He is a very pleasant man, Barbara. Many a young lady in West Lynne would be proud to get him.”

There was a pause. Barbara broke it, but she did not look at Mr. Carlyle as she spoke.

“The other rumor–is it a correct one?”

“What other rumor?”

“That you are to marry Louisa Dobede.”

“It is not. I have no intention of marrying any one. Nay, I will say it more strongly; it is my intention not to marry any one–to remain as I am.”

Barbara lifted her eyes to his in the surprise of the moment.

“You look amused, Barbara. Have you been lending your credence to the gossips, who have so kindly disposed of me to Louisa Dobede?”

“Not so. But Louisa Dobede is a girl to be coveted, and, as mamma says, it might be happier for you if you married again. I thought you would be sure to do so.”

“No. She–who was my wife–lives.”

“What of that?” uttered Barbara, in simplicity.

He did not answer for a moment, and when he did, it was in a low, almost imperceptible tone, as he stood by the table at which Barbara sat, and looked down on her.

” ‘Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery.’ “

And before Barbara could answer, if, indeed, she had found any answer to make, or had recovered her surprise, he had taken his hat and was gone.

To return for a short while to Lady Isabel. As the year advanced she grew stronger, and in the latter part of the summer she made preparations for quitting Grenoble. Where she would fix her residence, or what she would do, she knew not. She was miserable and restless, and cared little what became of her. The remotest spot on earth, one unpenetrated by the steps of civilized man, appeared the most desirable for her. Where was she to find this?”

She set out on her search, she and the child and its nurse. Not Susanne. Susanne had a sweetheart in Grenoble, and declined to leave it, so a girl was engaged for the child in her place. Lady Isabel wound up her housekeeping, had her things packed and forwarded to Paris, there to wait her orders and finally quitted Grenoble. It was a fine day when she left it–all too fine for the dark ending it was to bring.

When a railway accident does take place in France, it /is/ an accident. None of your milk-and-water affairs, where a few bruises and a great fright are the extent of the damages but too often a calamity whose remembrance lasts a lifetime. Lady Isabel had travelled a considerable distance that first day, and at the dusk of evening, as they were approaching a place, Cammere, where she purposed to halt for the night, a dreadful accident occurred. The details need not be given, and will not be. It is sufficient to say that some of the passengers were killed, her child and nurse being amongst them, and she herself was dangerously injured.

The injuries lay chiefly in her left leg and in her face–the lower part of her face. The surgeons, taking their cursory view of her, as they did of the rest of the sufferers, were not sparing in their remarks, for they believed her to be insensible. She had gathered that the leg was to be amputated, and that she would probably die under the operation–but her turn to be attended to was not yet. How she contrived to write she never knew, but she got a pen and ink brought to her, and did succeed in scrawling a letter to Lord Mount Severn.

She told him that a sad accident had taken place; she could not say how; all was confusion; and that her child and maid were killed. She herself was dangerously injured, and was about to undergo an operation, which the doctors believed she could not survive; only /in case of her death would the letter be sent to Lord Mount Severn/. She could not die, she said, without a word of thanks for all his kindness; and she begged him, when he saw Mr. Carlyle, to say that with her last breath she humbly implored his forgiveness, and his children’s whom she no longer dared to call hers.

Now this letter, by the officiousness of a servant at the inn to which the sufferers were carried, was taken at once to the post. And, after all, things turned out not quite so bad as anticipated; for when the doctors came to examine the state of Lady Isabel, not cursorily, they found there would be no absolute necessity for the operation contemplated. Fond as the French surgeons are of the knife, to resort to it in this instance would have been cruel, and they proceeded to other means of cure.

The letter was duly delivered at the town house of Lord Mount Severn, where it was addressed. The countess was sojourning there for a few days; she had quitted it after the season, but some business, or pleasure, had called her again to town. Lord Vane was with her, but the earl was in Scotland. They were at breakfast, she and her son, when the letter was brought in: eighteen pence to pay. Its scrawled address, its foreign aspect, its appearance, altogether, excited her curiosity; in her own mind, she believed she had dropped upon a nice little conjugal mare’s nest.

“I shall open this,” cried she.

“Why, it is addressed to papa!” exclaimed Lord Vane who possessed all his father’s notions of honor.

“But such an odd letter! It may require an immediate answer; or is some begging petition, perhaps. Get on with your breakfast.”

Lady Mount Severn opened the letter, and with some difficulty spelt through its contents. They shocked even her.

“How dreadful!” she uttered, in the impulse of the moment.

“What is dreadful?” asked Lord Vane, looking up from his breakfast.

“Lady Isabel–Isabel Vane–you have not forgotten her?”

“Forgotten her!” he echoed. “Why, mamma, I must possess a funny memory to have forgotten her already.”

“She is dead. She has been killed in a railway accident in France.”

His large blue eyes, honest and true as they had been in childhood, filled, and his face flushed. He said nothing, for emotion was strong within him.

“But, shocking as it is, it is better for her,” went on the countess; “for, poor creature what could her future life had been?”

“Oh, don’t say it!” impetuously broke out the young viscount. “Killed in a railway accident, and for you to say that it is better for her!”

“So it is better,” said the countess. “Don’t go into heroics, William. You are quite old enough to know that she had brought misery upon herself, and disgrace upon all connected with her. No one could ever have taken notice of her again.”

“I would,” said the boy, stoutly.

Lady Mount Severn smiled derisively.

“I would. I never liked anybody in the world half so much as I liked Isabel.”

“That’s past and gone. You would not have continued to like her, after the disgrace she wrought.”

“Somebody else wrought more of the disgrace than she did; and, had I been a man, I would have shot him dead,” flashed the viscount.

“You don’t know anything about it.”

“Don’t I!” returned he, not over dutifully. But Lady Mount Severn had not brought him up to be dutiful.

“May I read the letter, mamma?” he demanded, after a pause.

“If you can read it,” she replied, tossing it to him. “It is written in the strangest style; syllables divided, and the words running one into the other. She wrote it herself when she was dying.”

Lord Vane took the letter to a window, and stayed looking over it for some time; the countess ate an egg and a plate of ham meanwhile. Presently he came back with it folded, and laid in on the table.

“You will forward it to papa to-day,” he observed.

“I shall forward it to him. But there’s no hurry; and I don’t exactly know where your papa may be. I shall send the notice of her death to the papers; and I am glad to do it; it is a blight removed from the family.”

“Mamma, I do think you are the unkindest woman that ever breathed!”

“I’ll give you something to call me unkind for, if you don’t mind,” retorted the countess, her color rising. “Dock you of your holiday, and pack you back to school to-day.”

A few mornings after this Mr. Carlyle left East Lynne and proceeded to his office as usual. Scarcely was he seated, when Mr. Dill entered, and Mr. Carlyle looked at him inquiringly, for it was not Mr. Carlyle’s custom to be intruded upon by any person until he had opened his letters; then he would ring for Mr. Dill. The letters and the /Times/ newspaper lay on the table before him. The old gentleman came up in a covert, timid sort of way, which made Mr. Carlyle look all the more.

“I beg pardon, sir; will you let me ask if you have heard any particular news?”

“Yes, I have heard it,” replied Mr. Carlyle.

“Then, sir, I beg your pardon a thousand times over. It occurred to me that you probably had not, Mr. Archibald; and I thought I would have said a word to prepare you, before you came upon it suddenly in the paper.”

“To prepare me!” echoed Mr. Carlyle, as old Dill was turning away. “Why, what has come to you, Dill? Are you afraid my nerves are growing delicate, or that I shall faint over the loss of a hundred pounds? At the very most, we shall not suffer above that extent.”

Old Dill turned back again.

“If I don’t believe you are speaking of the failure of Kent & Green! It’s not /that/, Mr. Archibald. They won’t affect us much; and there’ll be a dividend, report runs.”

“What is it, then?”

“Then you have not heard it, sir! I am glad that I’m in time. It might not be well for you to have seen it without a word of preparation, Mr. Archibald.”

“If you have not gone demented, you will tell me what you mean, Dill, and leave me to my letters,” cried Mr. Carlyle, wondering excessively at his sober, matter-of-fact clerk’s words and manner.

Old Dill put his hands upon the /Times/ newspaper.

“It’s here, Mr. Archibald, in the column of deaths; the first on the list. Please, prepare yourself a little before you look at it.”

He shuffled out quickly, and Mr. Carlyle as quickly unfolded the paper. It was, as old Dill said, the first on the list of deaths:

“At Cammere, in France, on the 18th inst., Isabel Mary, only child of William, late Earl of Mount Severn.”

Clients called; Mr. Carlyle’s bell did not ring; an hour or two passed, and old Dill protested that Mr. Carlyle was engaged until he could protest no longer. He went in, deprecatingly. Mr. Carlyle sat yet with the newspaper before him, and the letters unopened at his elbow.

“There are one or two who /will/ come in, Mr. Archibald–who /will/ see you; what am I to say?”

Mr. Carlyle stared at him for a moment, as if his wits had been in the next world. Then he swept the newspaper from before him, and was the calm, collected man of business again.

As the news of Lady Isabel’s marriage had first come in the knowledge of Lord Mount Severn through the newspapers, so singular to say did the tidings of her death. The next post brought him the letter, which his wife had tardily forwarded. But, unlike Lady Mount Severn, he did not take her death as entirely upon trust; he thought it possible the letter might have been dispatched without its having taken place; and he deemed it incumbent on him to make inquiries. He wrote immediately to the authorities of the town, in the best French he could muster, asking for particulars, and whether she was really dead.

He received, in due course a satisfactory answer; satisfactory in so far as that it set his doubts at rest. He had inquired after her by her proper name, and title, “La Dame Isabelle Vane,” and as the authorities could find none of the survivors owning that name, they took it for granted she was dead. They wrote him word that the child and nurse were killed on the spot; two ladies, occupying the same compartment of the carriage, had since died, one of whom was no doubt the mother and lady he inquired for. She was dead and buried, sufficient money having been found upon her person to defray the few necessary expenses.

Thus, through no premeditated intention of Lady Isabel, news of her death went forth to Lord Mount Severn and to the world. /Her/ first intimation that she was regarded as dead, was through a copy of that very day’s /Times/ seen by Mr. Carlyle–seen by Lord Mount Severn. An English traveller, who had been amongst the sufferers, and who received the English newspaper daily, sometimes lent them to her to read. She was not travelling under her own name; she left that behind her when she left Grenoble; she had rendered her own too notorious to risk the chance recognition of travellers; and the authorities little thought that the quiet unobtrusive Madame Vine, slowly recovering at the inn, was the Dame Isabella Vane, respecting whom the grand English comte wrote.

Lady Isabel understood it at once; that the dispatching of her letter had been the foundation of the misapprehension; and she began to ask herself now, why she should undeceive Lord Mount Severn and the world. She longed, none knew with what intense longings, to be unknown, obscure, totally unrecognized by all; none can know it, till they have put a barrier between themselves and the world, as she had done. The child was gone–happy being! She thought she could never be sufficiently thankful that it was released from the uncertain future– therefore she had not his support to think of. She had only herself; and surely she could with ease earn enough for that; or she could starve; it mattered little which. No, there was no necessity for her continuing to accept the bounty of Lord Mount Severn, and she would let him and everybody else continue to believe that she was dead, and be henceforth only Madame Vine. A resolution she adhered to.

Thus the unhappy Isabel’s career was looked upon as run. Lord Mount Severn forwarded her letter to Mr. Carlyle, with the confirmation of her death, which he had obtained from the French authorities. It was a nine day’s wonder: “That poor, erring Lady Isabel was dead”–people did not call her names in the very teeth of her fate–and then it was over.

It was over. Lady Isabel was as one forgotten.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR AT EAST LYNNE.

There went, sailing up the avenue to East Lynne, a lady, one windy afternoon. If not a lady, she was attired as one; a flounced dress, and a stylish looking shawl, and a white veil. A very pretty woman, tall and slender was she, and she minced as she walked, and coquetted with her head, and, altogether contrived to show that she had quite as much vanity as brains. She went boldly up to the broad entrance of the house, and boldly rang at it, drawing her white veil over her face as she did so.

One of the men-servants answered it, not Peter; and, seeing somebody very smart before him, bowed deferentially.

“Miss Hallijohn is residing here, I believe. Is she within?”

“Who, ma’am?”

“Miss Hallijohn; Miss Joyce Hallijohn,” somewhat sharply repeated the lady, as if impatient of any delay. “I wish to see her.”

The man was rather taken aback. He had deemed it a visitor to the house, and was prepared to usher her to the drawing-room, at least; but it seemed it was only a visitor to Joyce. He showed her into a small parlor, and went upstairs to the nursery, where Joyce was sitting with Wilson–for there had been no change in the domestic department of East Lynne. Joyce remained as upper maid, partially superintending the servants, attending upon Lucy, and making Miss Carlyle’s dresses as usual. Wilson was nurse still.

“Miss Joyce, there’s a lady asking for you,” said the man. “I have shown her into the gray parlor.”

“A lady for me?” repeated Joyce. “Who is it? Some one to see the children, perhaps.”

“It’s for yourself, I think. She asked for Miss Hallijohn.”

Joyce looked at the man; but she put down her work and proceeded to the gray parlor. A pretty woman, vain and dashing, threw up her white veil at her entrance.

“Well, Joyce, how are you?”

Joyce, always pale, turned paler still, as she gazed in blank consternation. Was it really /Afy/ who stood before her–Afy, the erring?

Afy it was. And she stood there, holding out her hand to Joyce, with what Wilson would have called, all the brass in the world. Joyce could not reconcile her mind to link her own with it.

“Excuse me, Afy, but I cannot take your hand, I cannot welcome you here. What could have induced you to come?”

“If you are going to be upon the high ropes, it seems I might as well have stayed away,” was Afy’s reply, given in the pert, but good- humored manner she had ever used to Joyce. “My hand won’t damage yours. I am not poison.”

“You are looked upon in the neighborhood as worse than poison, Afy,” returned Joyce, in a tone, not of anger but of sorrow. “Where’s Richard Hare?”

Afy tossed her head. “Where’s who?” asked she.

“Richard Hare. My question was plain enough.”

“How should I know where he is? It’s like your impudence to mention him to me. Why don’t you ask me where Old Nick is, and how he does? I’d rather own acquaintance with him than with Richard Hare, if I’d my choice between the two.”

“Then you have left Richard Hare? How long since?”

“I have left–what do you say?” broke off Afy, whose lips were quivering ominously with suppressed passion. “Perhaps you’ll condescend to explain. I don’t understand.”

“When you left here, did you not go after Richard Hare–did you not join him?”

“I’ll tell you what it is, Joyce,” flashed Afy, her face indignant and her voice passionate, “I have put up with some things from you in my time, but human nature has its limits of endurance, and I won’t bear /that/. I have never set eyes on Richard Hare since that night of horror; I wish I could; I’d help to hang him.”

Joyce paused. The belief that Afy was with him had been long and deeply imbued within her; it was the long-continued and firm conviction of all West Lynne, and a settled belief, such as that, is not easily shaken. Was Afy telling the truth? She knew her propensity for making false assertions, when they served to excuse herself.

“Afy,” she said at length, “let me understand you. When you left this place, was it not to share Richard Hare’s flight? Have you not been living with him?”

“No!” burst forth Afy, with kindling eyes. “Living with /him/–with our father’s murderer! Shame upon you, Joyce Hallijohn! You must be precious wicked yourself to suppose it.”

“If I have judged you wrongly, Afy, I sincerely beg your pardon. Not only myself, but the whole of West Lynne, believed you were with him; and the thought has caused me pain night and day.”

“What a cannibal minded set you all must be, then!” was Afy’s indignant rejoinder.

“What have you been doing ever since, then? Where have you been?”

“Never mind, I say,” repeated Afy. “West Lynne has not been so complimentary to me, it appears, that I need put myself out of my way to satisfy its curiosity. I was knocking about a bit at first, but I soon settled down as steady as Old Time–as steady as you.”

“Are you married?” inquired Joyce, noting the word “settled.”

“Catch me marrying,” retorted Afy; “I like my liberty too well. Not but what I might be induced to change my condition, if anything out of the way eligible occurred; it must be very eligible, though, to tempt me. I am what I suppose you call yourself–a lady’s maid.”

“Indeed!” said Joyce, much relieved. “And are you comfortable, Afy? Are you in good service?”

“Middling, for that. The pay’s not amiss, but there’s a great deal to do, and Lady Mount Severn’s too much of a Tartar for me.”

Joyce looked at her in surprise. “What have you to do with Lady Mount Severn?”

“Well, that’s good! It’s where I am at service.”

“At Lady Mount Severn’s?”

“Why not? I have been there two years. It is not a great deal longer I shall stop, though; she had too much vinegar in her for me. But it poses me to imagine what on earth could have induced you to fancy I should go off with that Dick Hare,” she added, for she could not forget the grievance.

“Look at the circumstances,” argued Joyce. “You both disappeared.”

“But not together.”

“Nearly together. There were only a few days intervening. And you had neither money nor friends.”

“You don’t know what I had. But I would rather have died of want on father’s grave than have shared his means,” continued Afy, growing passionate again.

“Where is he? Not hung, or I should have heard of it.”

“He has never been seen since that night, Afy.”

“Nor heard of?”

“Nor heard of. Most people think he is in Australia, or some other foreign land.”

“The best place for him; the more distance he puts between him and home, the better. If he does come back, I hope he’ll get his desserts –which is a rope’s end. I’d go to his hanging.”

“You are as bitter against him as Mr. Justice Hare. He would bring his son back to suffer, if he could.”

“A cross-grained old camel!” remarked Afy, in allusion to the qualities, social and amiable, of the revered justice. “I don’t defend Dick Hare–I hate him too much for that–but if his father had treated him differently, Dick might have been different. Well, let’s talk of something else; the subject invariably gives me the shivers. Who is mistress here?”

“Miss Carlyle.”

“Oh, I might have guessed that. Is she as fierce as ever?”

“There is little alteration in her.”

“And there won’t be on this side the grave. I say, Joyce, I don’t want to encounter her; she might set on at me, like she has done many a time in the old days. Little love was there lost between me and Corny Carlyle. Is Mr. Carlyle at home?”

“He will be home to dinner. I dare say you would like some tea; you shall come and take it with me and Wilson, in the nursery.”

“I was thinking you might have the grace to offer me something,” cried Afy. “I intend to stop till to-morrow in the neighborhood. My lady gave me two days’ holiday–for she was going to see her dreadful old grandmother, where she can’t take a maid–and I thought I’d use it in coming to have a look at the old place again. Don’t stare at me in that blank way, as if you feared I should ask the grand loan of sleeping here. I shall sleep at the Mount Severn Arms.”

“I was not glancing at such a thought, Afy. Come and take your bonnet off.”

“Is the nursery full of children?”

“There is only one child in it. Miss Lucy and Master William are with the governess.”

Wilson received Afy with lofty condescension, having Richard Hare in her thoughts. But Joyce explained that it was all a misapprehension– that her sister had never been near Richard Hare, but was as indignant against him as they were. Upon which Wilson grew cordial and chatty, rejoicing in the delightful recreation her tongue would enjoy that evening.

Afy’s account of herself, as to past proceedings, was certainly not the most satisfactory in the world; but, altogether, taken in the present, it was so vast an improvement upon Joyce’s conclusions, that she had not felt so elated for many a day. When Mr. Carlyle returned home Joyce sought him, and acquainted him with what had happened; that Afy was come; was maid to Lady Mount Severn; and, above all, that she had never been with Richard Hare.

“Ah! You remember what I said, Joyce,” he remarked. “That I did not believe Afy was with Richard Hare.”

“I have been telling her so, sir, to be sure, when I informed her what people had believed,” continued Joyce. “She nearly went into one of her old passions.”

“Does she seem steady, Joyce?”

“I think so, sir–steady for her. I was thinking, sir, that as she appears to have turned out so respectable, and is with Lady Mount Severn, you, perhaps, might see no objection to her sleeping here for to-night. It would be better than for her to go to the inn, as she talks of doing.”

“None at all,” replied Mr. Carlyle. “Let her remain.”

Later in the evening, after Mr. Carlyle’s dinner, a message came that Afy was to go to him. Accordingly she proceeded to his presence.

“So, Afy, you have returned to let West Lynne know that you are alive. Sit down.”

“West Lynne may go a-walking for me in future, sir, for all the heed I shall take of it,” retorted Afy. “A set of wicked-minded scandal- mongers, to take and say I had gone after Richard Hare!”

“You should not have gone off at all, Afy.”

“Well, sir, that was my business, and I chose to go. I could not stop in the cottage after that night’s work.”

“There is a mystery attached to that night’s work, Afy,” observed Mr. Carlyle; “a mystery that I cannot fathom. Perhaps you can help me out.”

“What mystery, sir?” returned Afy.

Mr. Carlyle leaned forward, his arms on the table. Afy had taken a chair at the other end of it. “Who was it that committed the murder?” he demanded, in a grave and somewhat imperative tone.

Afy stared some moments before she replied, astonished at the question. “Who committed the murder, sir?” she uttered at length. “Richard Hare committed it. Everybody knows that.”

“Did you see it done?”

“No,” replied Afy. “If I had seen it, the fright and horror would have killed me. Richard Hare quarreled with my father, and drew the gun upon him in passion.”

“You assume this to have been the case, Afy, as others have assumed it. I do not think that it was Richard Hare who killed your father.”

“Not Richard Hare!” exclaimed Afy, after a pause. “Then who do you think did it, sir–I?”

“Nonsense, Afy.”

“I know he did it,” proceeded Afy. “It is true that I did not see it done, but I know it for all that. I /know/ it, sir.”

“You cannot know it, Afy.”

“I do know it, sir; I would not assert it to you if I did not. If Richard Hare was here, present before us, and swore until he was black in the face that it was not him, I could convict him.”

“By what means?”

“I had rather not say, sir. But you may believe me, for I am speaking truth.”

“There was another friend of yours present that evening, Afy. Lieutenant Thorn.”

Afy’s face turned crimson; she was evidently surprised. But Mr. Carlyle’s speech and manner were authoritative, and she saw it would be useless to attempt to trifle with him.

“I know he was, sir. A young chap who used to ride over some evenings to see me. He had nothing to do with what occurred.”

“Where did he ride from?”

“He was stopping with some friends at Swainson. He was nobody, sir.”

“What was his name?” questioned Mr. Carlyle.

“Thorn,” said Afy.

“I mean his real name. Thorn was an assumed name.”

“Oh, dear no,” returned Afy. “Thorn was his name.”

Mr. Carlyle paused and looked at her.

“Afy, I have reason to believe that Thorn was only an assumed name. Now, I have a motive for wishing to know his real one, and you would very much oblige me by confiding it to me. What was it?”

“I don’t know that he had any other name, sir; I am sure he had no other,” persisted Afy. “He was Lieutenant Thorn, then and he was Captain Thorn, afterward.”

“You have seen him since?”

“Once in a way we have met.”

“Where is he now?”

“Now! Oh, my goodness, I don’t know anything about him now,” muttered Afy. “I have not heard of him or seen him for a long while. I think I heard something about his going to India with his regiment.”

“What regiment is he in?”

“I’m sure I don’t know about that,” said Afy. “Is not one regiment the same as another; they are all in the army, aren’t they, sir?”

“Afy, I must find this Captain Thorn. Do you know anything of his family?”

Afy shook her head. “I don’t think he had any. I never heard him mention as much as a brother or a sister.”

“And you persist in saying his name was Thorn?”

“I persist in saying it because it was his name. I am positive it was his name.”

“Afy, shall I tell you why I want to find him; I believe it was he who murdered your father, not Richard Hare.”

Afy’s mouth and eyes gradually opened, and her face turned hot and cold alternately. Then passion mastered her, and she burst forth.

“It’s a lie! I beg your pardon, sir, but whoever told you that, told you a lie. Thorn had no more to do with it than I had; I’ll swear it.”

“I tell you, Afy, I believe Thorn to have been the man. You were not present; you cannot know who actually did it.”

“Yes, I can, and do know,” said Afy, bursting into sobs of hysterical passion. “Thorn was with me when it happened, so it could not have been Thorn. It was that wicked Richard Hare. Sir, have I not said that I’ll swear it?”

“Thorn was with you–at the moment of the murder?” repeated Mr. Carlyle.

“Yes, he was,” shrieked Afy, nearly beside herself with emotion. “Whoever has been trying to put it off Richard Hare, and on to him, is a wicked, false-hearted wretch. It was Richard Hare, and nobody else, and I hope he’ll be hung for it yet.”

“You are telling me the truth, Afy?” gravely spoke Mr. Carlyle.

“Truth!” echoed Afy, flinging up her hands. “Would I tell a lie over my father’s death? If Thorn had done it, would I screen him, or shuffle it off to Richard Hare? Not so.”

Mr. Carlyle felt uncertain and bewildered. That Afy was sincere in what she said, was but too apparent. He spoke again but Afy had risen from her chair to leave.

“Locksley was in the wood that evening. Otway Bethel was in it. Could either of them have been the culprit?”

“No, sir,” firmly retorted Afy; “the culprit was Richard Hare; and I’d say it with my latest breath–I’d say it because I know it–though I don’t choose to say how I know it; time enough when he gets taken.”

She quitted the room, leaving Mr. Carlyle in a state of puzzled bewilderment. Was he to believe Afy, or was he to believe the bygone assertion of Richard Hare?

CHAPTER XXIX.

A NIGHT INVASION OF EAST LYNNE.

In one of the comfortable sitting-rooms of East Lynne sat Mr. Carlyle and his sister, one inclement January night. The contrast within and without was great. The warm, blazing fire, the handsome carpet on which it flickered, the exceedingly comfortable arrangement of the furniture, of the room altogether, and the light of the chandelier, which fell on all, presented a picture of home peace, though it may not have deserved the name of luxury. Without, heavy flakes of snow were falling thickly, flakes as large and nearly as heavy as a crown piece, rendering the atmosphere so dense and obscure that a man could not see a yard before him. Mr. Carlyle had driven home in the pony carriage, and the snow had so settled upon him that Lucy, who happened to see him as he entered the hall, screamed out laughingly that her papa had turned into a white man. It was now later in the evening; the children were in bed; the governess was in her own sitting room–it was not often that Miss Carlyle invited her to theirs of an evening– and the house was quite. Mr. Carlyle was deep in the pages of one of the monthly periodicals, and Miss Carlyle sat on the other side of the fire, grumbling, and grunting, and sniffling, and choking.

Miss Carlyle was one of your strong-minded ladies, who never condescended to be ill. Of course, had she been attacked with scarlet fever, or paralysis, or St. Vitus’ dance, she must have given in to the enemy; but trifling ailments, such as headache, influenza, sore throat, which other people get, passed her by. Imagine, therefore, her exasperation at finding her head stuffed up, her chest sore, and her voice going; in short, at having, for once in her life, caught a cold like ordinary mortals.

“What’s the time, I wonder?” she exclaimed.

Mr. Carlyle looked at his watch. “It is just nine, Cornelia.”

“Then I think I shall go to bed. I’ll have a basin of arrowroot or gruel, or some slop of that sort, after I’m in it. I’m sure I have been free enough all my life from requiring such sick dishes.”

“Do so,” said Mr. Carlyle. “It may do you good.”

“There’s one thing excellent for a cold in the head, I know. It’s to doubt your flannel petticoat crossways, or any other large piece of flannel you may conveniently have at hand, and put it on over your night-cap. I’ll try it.”

“I would,” said Mr. Carlyle, smothering an irreverent laugh.

She sat on five minutes longer, and then left, wishing Mr. Carlyle good-night. He resumed his reading; but another page or two concluded the article, upon which Mr. Carlyle threw the book on the table, rose and stretched himself, as if tired of sitting.

He stirred the fire into a brighter blaze, and stood on the hearthrug. “I wonder if it snows still?” he exclaimed to himself.

Proceeding to the window, one of those opening to the ground, he threw aside the half of the warm crimson curtain. It all looked dull and dark outside. Mr. Carlyle could see little what the weather was, and he opened the window and stepped half out.

The snow was falling faster and thicker than ever. Not at that did Mr. Carlyle start with surprise, if not with a more unpleasant sensation; but a feeling a man’s hand touch his, and at finding a man’s face nearly in contact with his own.

“Let me come in, Mr. Carlyle, for the love of life! I see you are alone. I’m dead beat, and I don’t know but I’m dodged also.”

The tones struck familiarly on Mr. Carlyle’s ear. He drew back mechanically, a thousand perplexing sensations overwhelming him, and the man followed him into the room–a white man, as Lucy called her father. Aye, for he had been hours and hours on foot in the snow; his hat, his clothes, his eyebrows, his large whiskers, all were white. “Lock the door, sir,” were his first words. Need you be told that it was Richard Hare?

Mr. Carlyle fastened the window, drew the heavy curtains across, and turned rapidly to lock the two doors–for there were two to the room, one of them leading into the adjoining one. Richard meanwhile took off his wet smock-frock of former memory–his hat, and his false black whiskers, wiping the snow from the latter with his hand.

“Richard,” uttered Mr. Carlyle, “I am thunderstruck! I fear you have done wrong to come here.”

“I cut off from London at a moment’s notice,” replied Richard, who was literally shivering with the cold. “I’m dodged, Mr. Carlyle, I am indeed. The police are after me, set on by that wretch Thorn.”

Mr. Carlyle turned to the sideboard and poured out a wineglass of brandy. “Drink it, Richard, it will warm you.”

“I’d rather have it in some hot water, sir.”

“But how am I to get the hot water brought in? Drink this for now. Why, how you tremble.”

“Ah, a few hours outside in the cold snow is enough to make the strongest man tremble, sir; and it lies so deep in places that you have to come along at a snail’s pace. But I’ll tell you about this business. A fortnight ago I was at a cabstand at the West End, talking to a cab-driver, when some drops of rain came down. A gentleman and lady were passing at the time, but I had not paid any attention to them. “By Jove!” I heard him exclaim to her, ‘I think we’re going to have pepper. We had better take a cab, my dear.’ With that the man I was talking to swung open the door of his cab, and she got in–such a fair young lady, she was! I turned to look at him, and you might just have knocked me down with astonishment. Mr. Carlyle, it was the man, Thorn.”

“Indeed!”

“You thought I might be mistaken in him that moonlight night, but there was no mistaking him in broad daylight. I looked him full in the face, and he looked at me. He turned as white as cloth. Perhaps I did –I don’t know.”

“Was he well dressed?”

“Very. Oh, there’s no mistaking his position. That he moves in the higher classes there’s no doubt. The cab drove away, and I got up behind it. The driver thought boys were there, and turned his head and his whip, but I made him a sign. We didn’t go much more than the length of a street. I was on the pavement before Thorn was, and looked at him again, and again he went white. I marked the house, thinking it was where he lived, and–“

“Why did you not give him into custody, Richard?”

Richard Hare shook his head. “And my proofs of his guilt, Mr. Carlyle? I could bring none against him–no positive ones. No, I must wait till I can get proofs to do that. He would turn round upon me now and swear my life away to murder. Well, I thought I’d ascertain for certain what his name was, and that night I went to the house, and got into conversation with one of the servants, who was standing at the door. ‘Does Captain Thorn live here?’ I asked him.

” ‘Mr. Westleby lives here,’ said he; ‘I don’t know any Captain Thorn.’

“Then that’s his name, thought I to myself. ‘A youngish man, isn’t he?’ said I, ‘very smart, with a pretty wife?’

” ‘I don’t know what you call youngish,’ he laughed, ‘my master’s turned sixty, and his wife’s as old.’

“That checked me. ‘Perhaps he has sons?’ I asked.

” ‘Not any,’ the man answered; ‘there’s nobody but their two selves.’

“So, with that, I told him what I wanted–that a lady and gentleman had alighted there in a cab that day, and I wished to know his name. Well, Mr. Carlyle, I could get at nothing satisfactory; the fellow said that a great many had called there that day, for his master was just up from a long illness, and people came to see him.”

“Is that all, Richard?”

“All! I wish it had been all. I kept looking about for him in all the best streets; I was half mad–“

“Do you not wonder, if he is in this position of life, and resides in London, that you have never dropped upon him previously?” interrupted Mr. Carlyle.

“No, sir; and I’ll tell you why. I have been afraid to show myself in those latter parts of the town, fearing I might meet with some one I used to know at home, who would recognize me, so I have kept mostly in obscure places–stables and such like. I had gone up to the West End this day on a matter of business.”

“Well, go on with your story.”

“In a week’s time I came upon him again. It was at night. He was coming out of one of the theatres, and I went up and stood before him.”

” ‘What do you want, fellow?’ he asked. ‘I have seen you watching me before this.’

” ‘I want to know your name,’ I said, ‘that’s enough for me at present.’

“He flew into a passion, and swore that if ever he caught sight of me near him again he would hand me over into custody. ‘And remember, men are not given into custody for /watching/ others,’ he significantly added. ‘I know you, and if you have any regard for yourself, you’ll keep out of my way.’

“He had got into a private carriage as he spoke, and it drove away; I could see that it had a great coat-of-arms upon it.”

“When do you say this was?”

“A week ago. Well, I could not rest; I was half mad, I say, and went about, still trying if I could not discover his name and who he was. I did come upon him, but he was walking quickly, arm-in-arm with–with another gentleman. Again I saw him, standing at the entrance to the betting rooms, talking to the same gentleman, and his face turned savage–I believe with fear as much as anger–when he discerned me. He seemed to hesitate, and then–as if he acted in a passion–suddenly beckoned to a policeman, pointed me out, and said something to him in a fast tone. That frightened me, and I slipped away. Two hours after, when I was in quite a different part of the town, in turning my head I saw the same policeman following me. I bolted under the horses of a passing vehicle, down some turnings and passages, out into another street, and up beside a cabman who was on his box, driving a fare past. I reached my lodgings in safety, as I thought, but happening to glance into the street, there I saw the man again, standing opposite, and reconnoitering the house. I had gone home hungry, but this took all my hunger away from me. I opened the box where I kept my disguise, put it on, and got out by a back way. I have been pretty nearly ever since on my feet reaching here; I only got a lift now and then.”

“But, Richard, do you know that West Lynne is the very worst place you could have flown to? It has come to light that you were here before, disguised as a farm laborer.”

“Who the deuce betrayed that?” interrupted Richard.

“I am unable to tell; I cannot even imagine. The rumor was rife in the place, and it reached your father’s ear. The rumor may make people’s wits sharper to know you in your disguise, than they otherwise might have been.”

“But what was I to do? I was forced to come here first and get a little money. I shall fix myself in some other big town, far away from London–Liverpool or Manchester, perhaps; and see what employment I can get into, but I must have something to live upon till I can get it. I don’t possess a penny piece,” he added, drawing out his trousers pockets for the inspection of Mr. Carlyle. “The last coppers, I had, three pence, I spent in bread and cheese and half a pint of beer at midday. I have been outside that window for more than an hour, sir.”

“Indeed!”

“And as I neared West Lynne I began to think what I should do. It was no use in me trying to catch Barbara’s attention such a night as this; I had no money to pay for a lodging; so I turned off here, hoping I might, by good luck, drop upon you. There was a little partition in the window curtain–it had not been drawn close–and through it I could see you and Miss Carlyle. I saw her leave the room; I saw you come to the window and open it, and then I spoke. Mr. Carlyle,” he added, after a pause, “is this life to go on with me forever?”

“I am deeply sorry for you, Richard,” was the sympathizing answer. “I wish I could remedy it.”

Before another word was spoken the room door was tried, and then gently knocked at. Mr. Carlyle placed his hand on Richard, who was looking scared out of his wits.

“Be still; be at ease, Richard; no one shall come in. It is only Peter.”

Not Peter’s voice, however, but Joyce’s was heard, in response to Mr. Carlyle’s demand of who was there.

“Miss Carlyle has left her handkerchief downstairs, sir, and has sent me for it.”

“You cannot come in–I am busy,” was the answer, delivered in a clear and most decisive tone.

“Who was it?” quivered Richard, as Joyce was heard going away.

“It was Joyce.”

“What! Is she here still? Has anything ever been heard of Afy, sir?”

“Afy was here herself two or three months ago.”

“Was she, though?” uttered Richard, beguiled for an instant from the thought of his own danger. “What is she doing?”

“She is in service as a lady’s maid. Richard, I questioned Afy about Thorn. She protested solemnly to me that it was not Thorn who committed the deed–that it could not have been he, for Thorn was with her at the moment of its being done.”

“It’s not true!” fired Richard. “It was Thorn.”

“Richard, you cannot tell; you did not /see/ it done.”

“I know that no man could have rushed out in that frantic manner, with those signs of guilt and fear about him, unless he had been engaged in a bad deed,” was Richard Hare’s answer. “It could have been no one else.”

“Afy declared he was with her,” repeated Mr. Carlyle.

“Look here, sir, you are a sharp man, and folks say I am not, but I can see things and draw my reasoning as well as they can, perhaps. If Thorn were not Hallijohn’s murderer, why should he be persecuting me– what would he care about me? And why should his face turn livid, as it has done, each time he has seen my eyes upon him? Whether he did commit the murder, or whether he didn’t, he must know that I did not, because he came upon me, waiting, as he was tearing from the cottage.”

Dick’s reasoning was not bad.

“Another thing,” he resumed. “Afy swore at the inquest that she was /alone/ when the deed was done; that she was alone at the back of the cottage, and knew nothing about it till afterwards. How could she have sworn she was alone, if Thorn was with her?”

The fact has entirely escaped Mr. Carlyle’s memory in his conversation with Afy, or he would not have failed to point out the discrepancy, and to inquire how she could reconcile it. Yet her assertion to him had been most positive and solemn. There were difficulties in the matter which he could not reconcile.

“Now that I have got over my passion for Afy, I can see her faults, Mr. Carlyle. She’d no more tell an untruth than I should stick–“

A most awful thundering at the room door–loud enough to bring the very house down. No officers of justice, searching for a fugitive, ever made a louder. Richard Hare, his face turned to chalk, his eyes starting, and his own light hair bristling up with horror, struggled into his wet smock-frock after a fashion, the tails up about his ears and the sleeves hanging, forced on his hat and his false whiskers, looked round in a bewildered manner for some cupboard or mouse-hole into which he might creep, and, seeing none, rushed to the fireplace and placed his foot on the fender. That he purposed an attempt at chimney-climbing was evident, though how the fire would have agreed with his pantaloons, not to speak of what they contained, poor Dick appeared completely to ignore. Mr. Carlyle drew him back, keeping his calm, powerful hand upon his shoulder, while certain sounds in an angry voice were jerked through the keyhole.

“Richard, be a man, put aside this weakness, this fear. Have I not told you that harm shall not come near you in my house?”

“It may be that officer from London; he may have brought half a dozen more with him!” gasped the unhappy Richard. “I said they might have dodged me all the way here.”

“Nonsense. Sit you down, and be at rest, it is only Cornelia; and she will be as anxious to shield you from danger as I can be.”

“Is it?” cried the relieved Richard. “Can’t you make her keep out?” he continued, his teeth still chattering.

“No, that I can’t, if she has a mind to come in,” was the candid answer. “You remember what she was, Richard; she is not altered.”

Knowing that to speak on this side the door to his sister, when she was in one of her resolute moods, would be of no use, Mr. Carlyle opened the door, dexterously swung himself through it, and shut it after him. There she stood; in a towering passion, too.

It had struck Miss Carlyle, while undressing, that certain sounds, as of talking, proceeded from the room underneath, which she had just quitted. She possessed a remarkably keen sense of hearing, did Miss Carlyle; though, indeed, none of her faculties lacked the quality of keenness. The servants, Joyce and Peter excepted, would not be convinced but that she must “listen;” but, in that, they did her injustice. First of all, she believed her brother must be reading aloud to himself; but she soon decided otherwise. “Who on earth has he got in there with him?” quoth Miss Carlyle.

She rang her bell; Joyce answered it.

“Who is it that is with your master?”

“Nobody, ma’am.”

“But I say there is. I can hear him talking.”

“I don’t think anybody can be with him,” persisted Joyce. “And the walls of this house are too well built, ma’am, for sounds from the down stairs rooms to penetrate here.”

“That’s all you know about it,” cried Miss Carlyle. “When talking goes on in that room, there’s a certain sound given out which does penetrate here, and which my ears have grown accustomed to. Go and see who it is. I believe I left my handkerchief on the table; you can bring it up.”

Joyce departed, and Miss Carlyle proceeded to take off her things; her dress first, her silk petticoat next. She had arrived as far as the flannel petticoat when Joyce returned.

“Yes, ma’am, some one is talking with master. I could not go in, for the door was bolted, and master called out that he was busy.”

Food for Miss Carlyle. She, feeling sure that no visitor had come to the house, ran her thoughts rapidly over the members of the household, and came to the conclusion that it must be the governess, Miss Manning, who had dared to closet herself with Mr. Carlyle. This unlucky governess was pretty, and Miss Carlyle had been cautious to keep her and her prettiness very much out of her brother’s sight; she knew the attraction he would present to her visions, or to those of any other unprovided-for governess. Oh, yes; it was Miss Manning; she had stolen in; believing she, Miss Carlyle, was safe for the night; but she’d just unearth my lady. And what in the world could possess Archibald–to lock the door!

Looking round for something warm to throw over her shoulders, and catching up an article that looked as much like a green baize table- cover as anything else, and throwing it on, down stalked Miss Carlyle. And in this trim Mr. Carlyle beheld her when he came out.

The figure presented by Miss Carlyle to her brother’s eyes was certainly ridiculous enough. She gave him no time to comment upon it, however, but instantly and curtly asked,–

“Who have you got in that room?”

“It is some one on business,” was his prompt reply. “Cornelia, you cannot go in.”

She very nearly laughed. “Not go in?”

“Indeed it is much better that you should not. Pray go back. You will make your cold worse, standing here.

“Now, I want to know whether you are not ashamed of yourself?” she deliberately pursued. “You! A married man, with children in your house! I’d rather have believed anything downright wicked of myself, than of you, Archibald.”

Mr. Carlyle stared considerably.

“Come; I’ll have her out. And out of this house she tramps to-morrow morning. A couple of audacious ones, to be in there with the door locked, the moment you thought you had got rid of me! Stand aside, I say, Archibald, I will enter.”

Mr. Carlyle never felt more inclined to laugh. And, to Miss Carlyle’s exceeding discomposure she, at this juncture, saw the governess emerge from the gray parlor, glance at the hall clock, and retire again.

“Why! She’s there,” she uttered. “I thought she was with you.”

“Miss Manning, locked in with me! Is that the mare’s nest, Cornelia? I think your cold must have obscured your reason.”

“Well, I shall go in, all the same. I tell you, Archibald, that I will see who is there.”

“If you persist in going in, you must go. But allow me to warn you that you will find tragedy in that room, not comedy. There is no woman in it, but there is a man; a man who came in through the window, like a hunted stag; a man upon whom a ban is set, who fears the police are upon his track. Can you guess his name?”

It was Miss Carlyle’s turn to stare now. She opened her dry lips to speak, but they closed again.

“It is Richard Hare, your kinsman. There’s not a roof in the wide world open to him this bitter night.”

She said nothing. A long pause of dismay, and then she motioned to have the door opened.

“You will not show yourself–in–in that guise?”

“Not show myself in this guise to Richard Hare–whom I have whipped– when he was a child–ten times a day! Stand on ceremony with /him/! I dare say he looks no better than I do. But it’s nothing short of madness, Archibald, for him to come here.”

He left her to enter, telling her to lock the door as soon as she was inside, and went himself into the adjoining room, the one which, by another door, opened to the one Richard was in. Then he rang the bell. It was answered by a footman.

“Send Peter to me.”

“Lay supper here, Peter, for two,” began Mr. Carlyle, when the old servant appeared. “A person is with me on business. What have you in the house?”

“There’s the spiced beef, sir; and there are some home-made raised pork pies.”

“That will do,” said Mr. Carlyle. “Put a quart of ale on the table, and everything likely to be wanted. And then the household can go to bed; we may be late, and the things can be removed in the morning. Oh –and Peter–none of you must come near the room, this or the next, under any pretence whatever, unless I ring, for I shall be too busy to be disturbed.”

“Very well, sir. Shall I serve the ham also?”

“The ham?”

“I beg pardon, sir; I guessed it might be Mr. Dill, and he is so fond of our hams.”

“Ah, you were always a shrewd guesser, Peter,” smiled his master. “He is fond of ham I know; yes, you may put it on the table. Don’t forget the small kettle.”

The consequence of which little finesse on Mr. Carlyle’s part was, that Peter announced in the kitchen that Mr. Dill had arrived, and supper was to be served for two. “But what a night for the old gentleman to have trudged through on foot!” exclaimed he.

“And what a trudge he’ll have of it back again, for it’ll be worse then!” chimed in one of the maids.

When Mr. Carlyle got back in the other room, his sister and Richard Hare had scarcely finished staring at each other.

“Please lock the door, Miss Cornelia,” began poor shivering Dick.

“The door’s locked,” snapped she. “But what on earth brought you here, Richard? You must be worse than mad.”

“The Bow-street officers were after me in London,” he meekly responded, unconsciously using a term which had been familiar to his boyish years. “I had to cut away without a thing belonging to me, without so much as a clean shirt.”

“They must be polite officers, not to have been after you before,” was the consolatory remark of Miss Carlyle. “Are you going to dance a hornpipe through the streets of West Lynne to-morrow, and show yourself openly?”

“Not if I can help it,” replied Richard.

“You might just as well do that, if you come to West Lynne at all; for you can’t be here now without being found out. There was a bother about your having been here the last time: I should like to know how it got abroad.”

“The life I lead is dreadful!” cried Richard. “I might make up my mind to toil, though that’s hard, after being reared a gentleman; but to be an exile, banned, disgraced, afraid to show my face in broad daylight amidst my fellowmen, in dread every hour that the sword may fall! I would almost as soon be dead as continue to live it.”

“Well, you have got nobody to grumble at; you brought it upon yourself,” philosophically returned Miss Carlyle, as she opened the door to admit her brother. “You would go hunting after that brazen hussy, Afy, you know, in defiance of all that could be said to you.”

“That would not have brought it upon me,” said Richard. “It was through that fiend’s having killed Hallijohn; that was what brought the ban upon me.”

“It’s a most extraordinary thing, if anybody else /did/ kill him, that the facts can’t be brought to light,” retorted Miss Carlyle. “Here you tell a cock-and-bull story of some man’s having done it, some Thorn; but nobody ever saw or heard of him, at the time or since. It looks like a made-up story, Mr. Dick, to whiten yourself.”

“Made up!” panted Richard, in agitation, for it seemed cruel to him, especially in his present frame of mind, to have a doubt cast upon his tale. “It is Thorn who is setting the officers upon me. I have seen him three or four times within the last fortnight.”

“And why did you not turn the tables, and set the officers upon him?” demanded Miss Carlyle.

“Because it would lead to no good. Where’s the proof, save my bare word, that he committed the murder?”

Miss Carlyle rubbed her nose. “Dick Hare,” said she.

“Well?”

“You know you always were the greatest natural idiot that ever was let loose out of leading strings.”

“I know I always was told so.”

“And it’s what you always will be. If I were accused of committing a crime, which I knew another had committed and not myself, should I be such an idiot as not to give that other into custody if I got the chance? If you were not in such a cold, shivery, shaky state, I would treat you to a bit of my mind, you may rely upon that.”

“He was in league with Afy, at that period,” pursued Richard; “a deceitful, bad man; and he carries it in his countenance. And he must be in league with her still, if she asserts that he was in her company at the moment the murder was committed. Mr. Carlyle says she does; that she told him so the other day, when she was here. He never was; and it was he, and no other, who did the murder.”

“Yes,” burst forth Miss Carlyle, for the topic was sure to agitate her, “that Jezebel of brass did presume to come here! She chose her time well, and may thank her lucky stars I was not at home. Archibald, he’s a fool too, quite as bad a you are, Dick Hare, in some things– actually suffered her to lodge here for two days! A vain, ill- conducted hussy, given to nothing but finery and folly!”

“Afy said that she knew nothing of Thorn’s movements now, Richard, and had not for some time,” interposed Mr. Carlyle, allowing his sister’s compliments to pass in silence. “She heard a rumor, she thought, that he had gone abroad with his regiment.”

“So much the better for her, if she does know nothing of him, sir,” was Richard’s comment. “I can answer for it that he is not abroad, but in England.”

“And where are you going to lodge to-night?” abruptly spoke Miss Carlyle, confronting Richard.

“I don’t know,” was the broken-spirited answer, sighed forth. “If I lay myself down in a snowdrift, and am found frozen in the morning, it won’t be of much moment.”

“Was that what you thought of doing?” returned Miss Carlyle.

“No,” he mildly said. “What I thought of doing was to ask Mr. Carlyle for the loan of a few shillings, and then I can get a bed. I know a place where I shall be in safety, two or three miles from here.”

“Richard, I would not turn a dog out to go two or three miles on such a night as this,” impulsively uttered Mr. Carlyle. “You must stop here.”

“Indeed I don’t see how he is to get up to a bedroom, or how a room is to be made ready for him, for the matter of that, without betraying his presence to the servants,” snapped Miss Carlyle. And poor Richard laid his aching head upon his hands.

But now Miss Carlyle’s manner was more in fault than her heart. Will it be believed that, before speaking the above ungracious words, before Mr. Carlyle had touched upon the subject, she had been casting about in her busy mind for the best plan of keeping Richard–how it could be accomplished.

“One thing is certain,” she resumed, “that it will be impossible for you to sleep here without its being known to Joyce. And I suppose you and Joyce are upon the friendly terms of drawing daggers, for she believes you were the murderer of her father.”

“Let me disabuse her,” interrupted Richard, his pale lips working as he started up. “Allow me to see her and convince her, Mr. Carlyle. Why did you not tell Joyce better?”

“There’s that small room at the back of mine,” said Miss Carlyle, returning to the practical part of the subject. “He might sleep there. But Joyce must be taken in confidence.”

“Joyce had better come in,” said Mr. Carlyle. “I will say a word to her first.”

He unlocked the door and quitted the room. Miss Carlyle as jealously locked it again; called to Joyce and beckoned her into the adjoining apartment. He knew that Joyce’s belief in the guilt of Richard Hare was confirmed and strong, but he must uproot that belief if Richard was to be lodged in his house that night.

“Joyce,” he began, “you remember how thoroughly imbued with the persuasion you were, that Afy went off with Richard Hare, and was living with him. I several times expressed my doubts upon the point. The fact was, I had positive information that she was not with him, and never had been, though I considered it expedient to keep my information to myself. You are convinced now that she was not with him?”

“Of course I am, sir.”

“Well, you see, Joyce, that my opinion would have been worth listening to. Now I am going to shake your belief upon another point, and if I assure you that I have equally good grounds for doing so, you will believe me?”

“I am quite certain, sir, that you would state nothing but what was true, and I know that your judgment is sound,” was Joyce’s answer.

“Then I must tell you that I do not believe it was Richard Hare who murdered your father.”

“/Sir/!” uttered Joyce, amazed out of her senses.

“I believe Richard Hare to be as innocent of the murder as you or I,” he deliberately repeated. “I have held grounds for this opinion, Joyce, for many years.”

“Then, sir, who did it?”

“Afy’s other lover. That dandy fellow, Thorn, as I truly believe.”

“And you say you have grounds, sir?” Joyce asked, after a pause.

“Good grounds; and I tell you I have been in possession of them for years. I should be glad for you to think as I do.”

“But, sir, if Richard Hare was innocent, why did he run away?”

“Ah, why, indeed! It is that which has done the mischief. His own weak cowardice was in fault. He feared to come back, and he felt that he could not remove the odium of circumstances. Joyce I should like you to see him and hear his story.”

“There is not much chance of that, sir. I dare say he will never venture here again.”

“He is here now.”

Joyce looked up, considerably startled.

“Here, in this house,” repeated Mr. Carlyle. “He has taken shelter in it, and for the few hours that he will remain, we must extend our hospitality and protection to him, concealing him in the best manner we can. I thought it well that this confidence should be reposed in you, Joyce. Come now and see him.”

Considering that it was a subdued interview–the voices subdued, I mean–it was a confused one. Richard talking vehemently, Joyce asking question after question, Miss Carlyle’s tongue going as fast as theirs. The only silent one was Mr. Carlyle. Joyce could not refuse to believe protestations so solemn, and her suspicions veered round upon Captain Thorn.

“And now about the bed,” interjected Miss Carlyle, impatiently. “Where’s he to sleep, Joyce? The only safe room that I know of will be the one through mine.”

“He can’t sleep there, ma’am. Don’t you know that the key of the door was lost last week, and we cannot open it?”

“So much the better. He’ll be all the safer.”

“But how is he to get in?”

“To get in? Why, through my room, of course. Doesn’t mine open to it, stupid?”

“Oh, well, ma’am, if you would like him to go through yours, that’s different.”

“Why shouldn’t he go through? Do you suppose I mind young Dick Hare? Not I, indeed,” she irascibly continued. “I only wish he was young enough for me to flog him as I used to, that’s all. He deserves it as much as anybody ever did, playing the fool, as he has done, in all ways. I shall be in bed, with the curtains drawn, and his passing through won’t harm me, and my lying there won’t harm him. Stand on ceremony with Dick Hare! What next, I wonder?”

Joyce made no reply to this energetic speech, but at once retired to prepare the room for Richard. Miss Carlyle soon followed. Having made everything ready, Joyce returned.

“The room is ready, sir,” she whispered, “and all the household are in bed.”

“Then now’s your time, Richard. Good-night.”

He stole upstairs after Joyce, who piloted him through the room of Miss Carlyle. Nothing could be seen of that lady, though something might be heard, one given to truth more than politeness might have called it snoring. Joyce showed Richard his chamber, gave him the candle, and closed the door upon him.

Poor hunted Richard, good-night to you.

CHAPTER XXX.

BARBARA’S HEART AT REST.

Morning dawned. The same dull weather, the same heavy fall of snow. Miss Carlyle took her breakfast in bed, an indulgence she had not favored for ever so many years. Richard Hare rose, but remained in his chamber, and Joyce carried his breakfast in to him.

Mr. Carlyle entered whilst he was taking it. “How did you sleep, Richard?”

“I slept well. I was so dead tired. What am I to do next, Mr. Carlyle? The sooner I get away from here the better. I can’t feel safe.”

“You must not think of it before evening. I am aware that you cannot remain here, save for a few temporary hours, as it would inevitably become known to the servants. You say you think of going to Liverpool or Manchester?”

“To any large town; they are all alike to me; but one pursued as I am is safer in a large place than a small one.”

“I am inclined to think that this man, Thorn, only made a show of threatening you, Richard. If he be really the guilty party, his policy must be to keep all in quietness. The very worst thing that could happen for him, would be your arrest.”

“Then why molest me? Why send an officer to dodge me?”

“He did not like your molesting him, and he thought he would probably frighten you. After that day you would probably have seen no more of the officer. You may depend upon one thing, Richard, had the policeman’s object been to take you, he would have done so, not have contented himself with following you about from place to place. Besides when a detective officer is employed to watch a party, he takes care not to allow himself to be seen; now this man showed himself to you more than once.”

“Yes, there’s a good deal in all that,” observed Richard. “For, to one in his class of life, the bare suspicion of such a crime, brought against him, would crush him forever in the eyes of his compeers.”

“It is difficult to me Richard, to believe that he is in the class of life you speak of,” observed Mr. Carlyle.

“There’s no doubt about it; there’s none indeed. But that I did not much like to mention the name, for it can’t be a pleasant name to you, I should have said last night who I have seen him walking with,” continued simple-hearted Richard.

Mr. Carlyle looked inquiringly. “Richard say on.”

“I have seen him, sir, with Sir Francis Levison, twice. Once he was talking to him at the door of the betting-rooms, and once they were walking arm-in-arm. They are apparently upon intimate terms.”

At this moment a loud, flustering, angry voice was heard calling from the stairs, and Richard leaped up as if he had been shot. His door– not the one leading to the room of Miss Carlyle–opened upon the corridor, and the voice sounded close, just as if its owner were coming in with a hound. It was the voice of Mr. Justice Hare.

“Carlyle, where are you? Here’s a pretty thing happened! Come down!”

Mr. Carlyle for once in his life lost his calm equanimity, and sprang to the door, to keep it against invasion, as eagerly as Richard could have done. He forgot that Joyce had said the door was safely locked, and the key mislaid. As to Richard, he rushed on his hat and his black whiskers, and hesitated between under the bed and inside the wardrobe.

“Don’t agitate yourself, Richard,” whispered Mr. Carlyle, “there is no real danger. I will go and keep him safely.”

But when Mr. Carlyle got through his sister’s bedroom, he found that lady had taken the initiative, and was leaning over the balustrades, having been arrested in the process of dressing. Her clothes were on, but her nightcap was not off; little cared she, however, who saw her nightcap.

“What on earth brings you up in this weather?” began she, in a tone of exasperation.

“I want to see Carlyle. Nice news I have had!”

“What about? Anything concerning Anne, or her family?”

“Anne be bothered,” replied the justice, who was from some cause, in a furious temper. “It concerns that precious rascal, who I am forced to call son. I am told he is here.”

Down the stairs leaped Mr. Carlyle, four at a time, wound his arm within Mr. Hare’s, and led him to a sitting-room.

“Good-morning, justice. You had courage to venture up through the snow! What is the matter, you seem excited.”

“Excited?” raved the justice, dancing about the room, first on one leg, then on the other, like a cat upon hot bricks, “so you would be excited, if your life were worried out, as mine is, over a wicked scamp of a son. Why can’t folks trouble their heads about their own business, and let my affairs alone? A pity but what he was hung, and the thing done with!”

“But what has happened?” questioned Mr. Carlyle.

“Why this has happened,” retorted the justice, throwing a letter on the table. “The post brought me this, just now–and pleasant information it gives.”

Mr. Carlyle took up the note and read it. It purported to be from “a friend” to Justice Hare, informing that gentleman that his “criminal son” was likely to have arrived at West Lynne, or would arrive in the course of a day or so; and it recommended Mr. Hare to speed his departure from it, lest he should be pounced upon.

“This letter is anonymous!” exclaimed Mr. Carlyle.

“Of course it is,” stamped the justice.

“The only notice /I/ should ever take of an anonymous letter would be to put it in the fire,” cried Mr. Carlyle, his lip curling with scorn.

“But who has written it?” danced Justice Hare. “And /is/ Dick at West Lynne–that’s the question.”

“Now, is it likely that he should come to West Lynne?” remonstrated Mr. Carlyle. “Justice, will you pardon me, if I venture to give you my candid opinion.”

“The fool at West Lynne, running into the very jaws of death! By Jupiter! If I can drop upon him, I’ll retain him in custody, and make out a warrant for his committal! I’ll have this everlasting bother over.”

“I was going to give you my opinion,” quietly put in Mr. Carlyle. “I fear, Justice, you bring these annoyances upon yourself.”

“Bring them upon myself!” ranted the indignant justice. “I? Did I murder Hallijohn? Did I fly away from the law? Am I hiding, Beelzebub knows where? Do I take starts, right into my native parish, disguised as a laborer, on purpose to worry my own father? Do I write anonymous letters? Bring them upon myself, do I? That cobs all, Carlyle.”

“You will not hear me out. It is known that you are much exasperated against Richard–“

“And if your son serves you the same when he is grown up, shan’t you be exasperated, pray?” fired Justice Hare.

“Do hear me. It is known that you are much exasperated, and that any allusion to him excites and annoys you. Now, my opinion is, justice, that some busybody is raising these reports and writing these letters on purpose to annoy you. It may be somebody at West Lynne, very near to us, for all we know.”