by Caroline Wigley Clive
NOTHING looks more peaceful and secure than a country house seen
at early morning. The broad daylight gives the look of safety and
protection, and there is the tranquillity of night mixed with the
brightness of day, for all is yet silent and at rest about the sleeping
house. One glorious July morning saw this calm loveliness brood over
the Tower of Mainwarey, a dwelling so called, because the chief part of
the building consisted of a square tower many centuries old, about
which some well-fitted additions of the more recent possessors had
grouped themselves. It stood in the midst of a garden bright with
summer flowers, which at this hour lifted their silver heads all
splendid with dew and sunshine; and it looked down the valley to the
village, which stood at a little distance, intersected and embowered
with orchards, and crowned with the spire of the church. Early as it
was, another half hour had not passed before the master of the house
descended some steps which led from the window of his dressing-room,
and walked through his blooming garden to the stable, where his horse
was ready for him, as it had been every morning for the last few weeks;
and whenever the day was beautiful as this was, he had passed the early
hours in riding. As he got on horseback, he met a labourer belonging
to the gardens coming to his work, and inquired what he was going to
do. The man showed a basket of annuals which he was about to plant in
the flower-garden, and being a simple fellow, inquired whether his
master could tell if missus meant the blue anagallis or the white to be
on the outside of the bed.
"Not I," said Mr. Ferroll; "whichever you will."
"Missus will be tremendgious if I'm wrong," said the man, scratching
Mr. Ferroll frowned at this epithet applied to his young wife, and
bidding the man go about his work, rode off.
"It's well enough for you who have the whip hand," said Richard
Franks, looking after his master; "but if ever a lady provoked the
poor wretches under her......" and here his murmurs sank into
inarticulate rumbling — but Mr. Ferroll was out of hearing.
He rode gently. The morning was delicious, and he occasionally spoke
to a peasant going to his work, or saluted a whole family busy on their
garden before the man went to his hired employment. Several of the
peasants whom he met while he was still in his own immediate
neighbourhood, had a word to speak with him about a job of work they
wanted, or repair for a cottage, which they begged his honour to grant.
He gave attention and discussed their matters with all, so that he
made rather slow progress till he was at some little distance from
home, but then he touched his horse with the spurs, and the gallant
animal willingly indulged him in the pleasure of a gallop, which he
seemed to enjoy with eager relish. He had taken a circuit in his
gallop, so that between loitering in his slow pace, and diverging in
his quick, it was past six o'clock when he arrived at the village to
which his course was directed.
"I'm very early, Mr. Aston," said he to the farmer at whose house he
stopped; "but I knew I must find you at home at this hour."
"Not a bit too early for us, sir," said the farmer, "and I'm hugely
obliged to you for taking the trouble. It's all over with me, I
believe, sir; but if any can help me, it's you."
"When is the day for examining the accounts?" asked Mr. Ferroll.
"To-morrow week, sir, and I declare I'm as innocent as a babby; and
yet there's a hundred of pounds as I cannot tell what's gone with him."
"Did not you keep your accounts like other overseers?" said Ferroll.
"Yes, I did just like the last two told me how; but there's a great
difference now, I believe, sir, in the way the upper people add them
"Maybe so," said Ferroll; "and do you know there was a great man
once in the same plight as you, and Bacon was his name?"
"Pickle, you might have said, sir. Bacon might well be in pickle,"
said farmer Aston, laughing heartily.
"Come, that's well said; I love a man who can laugh under his
troubles. I've good hope of you. Let's see these books, these
accounts; let me try to add them up the right way for you."
"Breakfast was just ready if you please, sir," said the farmer's
wife; "won't you take a cup of tea and a bit of bread this morning,
before you begin?"
"Thank you, I will with pleasure;" and he cut the loaf standing as
he was, and ate with appetite the good bread, but rather made less of
the tea without milk, seemed the produce of dried grass.
"I'm afraid you don't like our tea, sir," said the hostess, "though
it's five-and-sixpence a pound at Dewson's shop."
"That's Dewson's new way of adding up," said Mr. Ferroll, smiling;
"but, thank you, I'm more hungry than thirsty, and you see what a gap
I have made in your loaf. So now the books, Aston, and let us set to
The books kept by the overseer were indeed in a state of confusion,
which the better order of things in the management of the poor might
well find fault with. Farmer Aston, however, had not the least intent
of cheating, but he had followed his predecessors' example in taking
the arithmetic of the thing for granted, and forcing a suitable
conclusion, when it did not come naturally. Widow Grant appeared at
every close where a shilling or a pound could not be accounted for.
The things for which the parish was creditor on one side, it was debtor
for on another, and at the end of all, to make the expenditure agree
with the receipts, appeared his concluding item — "Muddled away #9 4s.
Mr. Ferroll set to work to unravel as far as possible this
confusion, and patiently listened to the recollection by which the
farmer elucidated the written documents. The table was covered with
little dirty bills, the summary of which Mr. Ferroll transferred to a
fair sheet of paper, and among which he, with a clear head, was
pursuing the almost hopeless clue, when the sound of a horse galloping
furiously was heard, and a voice asking for God's sake whether Mr.
Ferroll was there. He heard his name, and looked up startled, but
finished the calculation he was that moment upon, before he followed
the farmer's wife, who had rushed out of the room, and whom he found
fallen on the bench before the door, while the messenger who had come
for him stood trembling, and as white as a sheet before her.
"Oh, Lord! here he comes," cried the matron, as he ran out. "Oh!
poor gentleman, don't tell him, Thomas."
"What's the matter?" said Mr. Ferroll, the colour mounting into his
own face with expectation. "Speak out this instant."
"My mistress, sir," said the fellow, dropping his hands to his side,
and the bridle fell loose at the same time, but the panting horse had
no inclination to stir.
"Well, your mistress?"
"Dead!" said the man.
Mr. Ferroll's eyes fixed them on his face, his lips were squeezed
together, he did not seem to take in the word.
"She is dead, sir," said the man; "oh! is worse than dead — they
have killed her."
"Killed your mistress!" he said; "you are mad yourself."
"How quiet he takes it," said the woman.
"He don't believe it," said the messenger. "Sir, she's been murdered
in her bed."
Mr. Ferroll said not a word more; he asked not another question; but
he walked like a drunken man to the stable, where his own horse was
put up; and springing into the saddle, flew past the cottage almost
like the speed of a bird, and vanished from their sight on the way
Home! and what a home! It was all peace and stillness when he left
it. It was a scene of distraction, now — servants and villagers were
about the door, and in the garden. Men were rushing for help, and only
bringing more trembling spectators; the gate was wide open; the
windows, some still barred, some thrown up; household employments all
broken off — the household hurriedly one on another, terrified out of
They rushed to their master, when he arrived.
"What is the matter?" he said again, as if his apprehension refused
all belief of what he had heard.
"It's all true, sir," said the constable, who had been secured among
the rest. "Your lady has been murdered."
Mr. Ferroll was a man of powerful will and habitual reserve; he
seemed to force himself to an action he abhorred — turned towards the
"You had better not go in," said the constable, holding his arm.
"Seeing it is not the worst part," said Mr. Ferroll, and went
The surgeon was in the room; he was still bending over the body, and
his feet were dabbled with the blood, which was in a pool about the
bed. The husband was deadly pale, but he forced himself on.
"Sir, were you here this morning?" said the surgeon.
"Yes, as late as half-past four. Is there no life?"
"Life has been extinct an hour or more," said the surgeon. "Was the
window open when you went away, sir?"
"Yes, she bade me leave it open. Who? who? ......" he repeated,
gasping, and forcing out the word.
"There is no trace as yet — no suspicion. Did you see anyone, sir?"
"No one," said Mr. Ferroll.
"Well, it don't matter asking him now," said the surgeon, looking at
him compassionately. "For God's sake, sir, come out of the room;" but
he still gazed on, though a shudder ran at times through his strong
"She was murdered in her sleep," said the surgeon; "it was some
sharp, small instrument. The wound is not large, but deadly — just
here," and he pointed with his finger below the ear.
"And no trace left?" asked the husband, looking over the floor.
"None whatever, except there," said the surgeon, pointing to a tub
of water, which stood ready for bathing, and which was deeply coloured
with blood — "the murderer washed off the traces there."
Mr. Ferroll shuddered: the scene was growing too much even for his
strung up mind. The surgeon led him out of the room unresistingly; and
through the crowd, before whom he summoned up his strength, and passed
them with a firm foot; but once in a room, away from all these curious
eyes, he sunk upon a chair and hid his face.
The constable had sent for the coroner, upon first hearing what had
happened; and a jury was hastily assembled, who proceeded to
investigate the mysterious affair. They visited the room, and the dead
body, lying all unanointed in the deep dishonour of death; the intense
stillness of the room contrasting with the confusion; the soiled
bedclothes, the polluted floor, all so unlike the usual extreme
neatness which accompanies the silence of death.
The chamber presented no appearance of having been robbed, until
some one asked if there had been any watch in her possession. Mr.
Ferroll said she was in the habit of putting hers under her pillow.
They searched there but it was gone, and there was blood under the
pillow as though the hand that had taken it thence was bloody: nothing
else was missing, except a pocket handkerchief, which her maid said had
been in the room when her mistress went to bed. They went into Mr.
Ferroll's dressing-room next door, and here the things were lying about
just as he had left them when he went out. His dressing-case was open
on the table, and when one of the jury asked whether anything was
missing from it, he said, as far as he recollected, it had contained a
sharp-pointed knife, which was gone.
But it was in vain the weapon was sought for all over the dismal
chamber. When the jury retired to deliberate, some curious evidence was
brought before them. It appeared that Mrs. Ferroll had been a woman of
violent temper, and unpopular among her servants. The footman was eager
to tell that her own maid had complained of the trouble she gave, and
that only the day before she had wished either herself or her mistress
Then the housemaid, sobbing and terrified, said, that the maid had
got up that morning before five o'clock, being much out of temper, and
had said, she was going to do something for her mistress, but it should
be the last time. Here was suspicion, and the maid was examined; but
she cleared herself, by saying, that her mistress had charged her to
provide the whole milk of one cow for her morning bath. She had done it
once before, and master had so laughed at her, the maid said, that she
was afraid of his knowing it; and had made her promise not to tell what
she was about. It was a troublesome order, and obliged her to get up at
an unwonted hour, and she had resolved to leave her place in
consequence. This story was confirmed by the dairymaid, to whom she had
gone for the milk, and whose evidence, together with that of the
housemaid, accounted for the suspected woman's employment from the time
she left her bed to that when her loud cries at entering the room had
announced the event to the household.
One of the jury, forgetting all the circumstances which showed the
death to have been brought about by another hand, here conjectured,
that since she was so violent, she might have committed suicide,
supposing her to have been in a state of excitement. Had her husband
and she had any quarrel? he asked; were they on bad terms?
"No, they never quarrelled; master was resolute not to quarrel."
An explanation of this was asked, and it seemed that one and another
had heard very hasty expressions on her part, but that they were
always silenced by Mr. Ferroll, who knew better than anybody how to
manage her. They began to tell what she had said against him, but with
this the jury had nothing to do, and stopped all such details.
A minute search was made in the house for the missing watch, and
there was one woman also who had been in fits ever since the discovery
of the murder, who showed the greatest reluctance to submit to the
investigation. This was the wife of the labourer Franks, who lived in
the house in quality of kitchen-maid. She refused to give up her keys,
saying, she knew they would pretend to have found something which would
hang her. The law had once found her son guilty of horse-stealing,
though he never saw the horse in his life; and she saw they only wished
to find her or her husband guilty of murder, to ruin them all one with
the other. Upon mention of her husband, further inquiry was made about
him, and he was brought before the jury for examination. He was nearly
as much terrified as his wife, and kept his head averted from the room
of death as they brought him into the house. He tried to prevent all
questions, by conjuring them not to think he had done it. It was true
his mistress had been very hard to him, but he would not have done such
a thing for the world: his master, perhaps, thought much of what he
said that morning, but, indeed, he meant no more than he said; and as
to killing her, he did not like for his own part to kill his very pig.
On this mention of his master, Mr. Ferroll was questioned as to what
he could tell of the man that morning. One of the jury remarked, that
Mr. Ferroll said, he had seen no one when he went out. He answered,
that he had indeed spoken to this man, but the idea of connecting so
innocent and well-known a fellow with this horrible deed had not
occurred to him.
"But where had he left him when he himself quitted the house?"
"In the stable-yard."
"What was he going to do?"
"To work in the flower-garden."
And it proved upon inquiry, that he had been there alone, that he
had quitted it some time before the murder was discovered. One of the
maids had seen him washing his hands, and, on being questioned, said,
the colour of the water afterwards was as red as blood.
Mr. Ferroll remarked, that the soil of the garden was mixed with
clay, and might give that appearance; but the jury was moved by the
expression used by the maid. They closely questioned Mr. Ferroll as to
what had passed between him and the labourer about the murdered lady,
and he reluctantly related the expression used, for he saw the
circumstances were making against the man, whom, from his previous
knowledge of him, he could not but believe innocent. The distracted
behaviour of the wife, and the terror of the accused added to the
impression; and when they forcibly took their key, and went to search
their box, everyone expected both the watch and the handkerchief would
be found. They were not; but the suspicion was strong enough with
regard to him, and absent enough from everybody else, to cause his
committal to prison.
When this noisy and bustling scene was over, the silence of death
settled in all its depth over the house. Then came the rites of the
dead, and the body was composed as it best might, and the clean
spotless linen laid over it. The chamber was set in order, the watchers
took their place in the room adjoining, and between one day and another
the house had passed from the peaceable domestic scene of life and
employment, to the solemn, yet frightful inactivity of the death-place
of its chief inhabitant.
Mr. Ferroll kept aloof from the eyes of his servants as much as
possible. They could hear his restless step; and when night came,
observed that he went out of doors, and paced hurriedly about the
garden, as if unable to rest, but he did not come into the terrible
room. It must have been very strong affection which could have brought
any one to look upon that sight; and it was well known that although
they had lived together with unbroken unity, both had soon ceased to
love the other.
Mr. Ferroll was a man of profound passions, and powerful will. He
had been disappointed in the affection he had fixed on a young girl;
and the woman whom he afterwards married had been in some way mixed up
with the story. The latter was young and handsome, and at one time
passionately in love with her husband; and after the disappointment of
his first attachment, he had hastily married her, but her character
was one it was difficult to remain attached to; and when she found him
far from returning the zeal of her adoration, and that her hold upon
him grew less and less, she gave way to all her unamiability, and
would have proved the bane of the life of any one less strong in
character than her husband. But he resolutely avoided all quarrel, and
maintained the decent and even friendly intercourse which became their
position. A man more anxious about appearance would probably have
constrained himself to visit the room where the body of his wife lay;
but Mr. Ferroll was perfectly indifferent in this, and all other
instances, as to what was said of him.
It was, therefore, with surprise, that the undertakers employed in
making the last arrangements previously to closing the lid, saw him
enter the room, and approach the coffin.
"My wife," he said, "has left directions, which I am about to obey;"
and, with these words, he placed upon the body a small parcel which he
had held in his hand. He then drew away the covering from the face,
which he had not seen since the day of the murder. It was composed as
decently as possible, but after so many days of death, and after a
death so violent, looked indeed different from the fine face, the
healthy glowing countenance of his young wife. He said not a word,
moved not a muscle; but gazed at it, as deadly pale himself as the
rigid corpse, and turned away at last with the effort of one struggling
against a paralysis, but recollected himself before he had gone half
across the room, and returning, said, "I must see the lid closed on
that packet;" and taking hold of the back of a chair, stood resolvedly
while the cloth was replaced, the sheet drawn together, and the lid put
on and fastened upon the withered form within. Before it was done he
had recovered his self-possession, and walked firmly from the room; and
after that time, till the day of the funeral, more than once came into
the chamber, and gazed for a few minutes on the coffin. He never wept,
and never prayed beside it, nor pretended to do either; and the
watchers, accustomed to see the mourners express their feelings in both
ways, found fault in whispers with Mr. Ferroll for doing differently
from other men; but it was plain that he was as careless of that as of
all other blame or praise of his conduct.
It was not without hesitation that the magistrates before whom
Franks was brought committed him to prison. The evidence against him
was entirely presumptive. Even the bucket in which his hands had
discoloured the water was in his favour rather than against him; for
the murderer had plainly cleansed himself from the blood in the room
itself where he com- mitted the act; and had Franks been that person,
it was most unlikely he should have left his hands still so deeply
dyed, as to discolour water in the court-yard. Mr. Ferroll's
conjecture, therefore, that it was the garden soil which he had washed
off, seemed the most probable.
But one of the magistrates, Mr. Bartlett, the owner of the Hall, as
Mr. Ferroll was of the Tower, upon whom the bucket had made a great
but rather an obscure impression, remarked, that it was improbable
water should he stained with blood, unless there was blood in the
water; and observed, that Franks had washed his hands in the bucket,
and therefore it was plain that his hands had been bloody. "And if you
want my opinion," said he, "I say I can't think it's right to murder
anybody, especially a lady; nor do I see the justice of letting a
murderer go loose on the country to cut all our throats."
A light curl of contempt passed over Mr. Ferroll's lip. "Nor that of
hanging an innocent man," said he, in a low tone; but the wife of
Franks heard him, and flinging herself on her knees, blessed him for
the word, and whispered to him, "Only save him from being
hanged, and I will tell all, Mr. Ferroll."
"Tell all!" he exclaimed, starting back, and repeating her words
aloud for all to hear. "Tell then."
The room was silent in a moment; only Mr. Bartlett rubbed his hands,
and whispered, "I told you so."
But the woman, when she found what she had done, shrank back, denied
she had anything to say, and declared that it was only a way she had;
the neighbours knew she was not quite right at all times, and that her
poor head was quite wandering ever since she had seen her dear lady in
that dreadful room; and, in fact, when she thus strengthened the
picture by putting it into words, she yielded to the impression, and
fell into hysterics, which obliged them to carry her away.
But all this gave an impression unfavourable to the accused man, who
stood trembling and pale as death, listening to one proof after
another, almost as one might listen at a tragedy, not distinguishing
the fiction from the truth. His dislike to his mistress was proved by
many witnesses; that he knew she was alone that morning was proved by
Mr. Ferroll's conversation with him. He was the only person, as it
seemed, who had been in the garden to which her window opened, and he
was known to have been there alone; no other door or window was opened
in the house; he had some marks on his hands of scratches, which he
said first, were given by a cat from whom he had taken its kittens; and
then, being asked where the kittens had been put, produced a new story,
and said, they were scratches from a bramble he was taking up from the
All this confirmed suspicion, though Mr. Ferroll remarked that the
man (who had been in his service for years) was noted for his confused
manner if anything unusual happened, and for the excuses he would make
and abandon the next moment.
Mr. Bartlett fidgetted and whispered to his neighbour, that if any
one wished for his opinion, it was, that it little became a husband to
make excuses for the man who had murdered his wife.
Mr. Ferroll heard something of this, and desired that it should be
spoken aloud; and when the old magistrate was forced to repeat what he
had said, the blood mounted in his face, and more moved than he had yet
been, he said that the man whom he believed innocent, he would protect
at any risk, in spite of any imputation, and then turning to Franks, he
said, "I swear to you, Franks, you shall not be harmed — if you are
innocent," he added, in a different tone of voice.
The man looked at him with a hopeful eye, but he drew back from the
thanks he began to utter, as if he had done too much, and too
publicly, and the magistrates, before whom all this was indeed
somewhat irregular, proceeded, on their own belief, to commit him.
Mr. Ferroll was naturally anxious to get away from the scene of so
much misery, but he had resolved to wait till the assizes should be
over, and the fate of Franks decided. In the meantime he proceeded
with the arrangements consequent on the death of his wife. She had
brought him a considerable fortune, which by her settlement had been
secured to him for his life, but he declined keeping any part of it. He
instructed his lawyer to make it over entirely to her brother, who was
her only surviving near relation, and even the ornaments which had
belonged to her, he locked up without examination, in the case where
they were usually kept, and delivered them the day after the funeral to
the same person.
In all this there was more of sorrow at her fate, than of love for
her person, for who parts willingly with every memorial of one they
have pleasure in thinking of? But what shocked the feelings of the
poor people, and of the common people, Mr. Bartlett at the head of the
latter, was the tombstone he caused to be placed over her grave. Any
one dead should be called according to them a good wife at least, but a
murdered woman ought to be the best of wives; however, that she was
not, nor did Mr. Ferroll's epitaph say she had been. It merely said,
"Anne, the daughter of Robert Gordon, and wife of Paul Ferroll, of
the Tower — she died, murdered, the 4th day of July, 18—."
By whom, was not destined to be found out; or at the trial, Franks
defended by Mr. Harrowby, a friend of Mr. Ferroll's, was, after the
longest and most nicely balanced deliberation, acquitted. Still, people
could not forget that he had been suspected. At his earnest request,
Mr. Ferroll gave him and his wife the means of emigrating to Canada.
Very great scandal was elicited by his protection of this man, but he
was a person to whom public opinion was more indifferent than he could
find words to express; and immediately after the trial he arranged his
affairs for a long absence, and set off a widowed and a comparatively
impoverished man, no one knew whither.
LITTLE was heard of Mr. Ferroll for a good while after these
events, for though through his agent it was known from time to time
where he was, no information whatever was gained as to what he was
A considerable time had elapsed after the murder of his first wife,
when he wrote to say that his house must be got ready for his return,
and that he was married. Not a word more did he add, and the
simple-minded villagers were put out of heart by such repulsiveness of
the sympathies which they would have gone before to offer. However,
unassisted by any of the circumstances which usually attend a wedding,
they did dimly perceive the propriety of a gala to receive the new
lady, and were talking languidly of an arch across the road, with
"Welcome," done in dahlias, when they were informed one morning that
Mr. Ferroll and his new wife had arrived the evening before.
The pair walked out that day in the village, and to all the places
which an old inhabitant introduces to a new one. It was a pastoral
place, containing the Park and house of the Bartlett family, and the
Tower; and besides these two great houses, there were the scattered
village and the farms belonging either to the Park or the Tower. The
former was much the greater estate, but Mr. Ferroll was perhaps the
richer man, having fewer claims and more unencumbered means.
Mr. Bartlett, the old magistrate, whose sagacity had displayed
itself on the inquest, had died since that time, and his widow, with a
large family, inhabited the great house, and attended as well as she
could to the interest of her eldest son's estate. She was an honest,
simple-minded woman as ever lived, but she belonged to one of the
principal families of the county, and had her own consequent notions of
what was to be done, and left undone. She had said, and others had said
to her, that it was very odd for Mr. Ferroll to go and marry somebody
whom nobody knew in the neighbourhood, and never say a word about it
till he was married; nay, as it seemed now, till he had been married
some time, for a nurse and a little toddling child arrived with them —
and his marriage must have been so soon after the horrible death of his
first wife, poor thing! &c.
So that Lady Lucy Bartlett did not go directly, no, nor after the
first Sunday, when she saw that Mrs. Ferroll was at church, to call at
the Tower, as she naturally would have done. Mr. Ferroll observed it,
and took his measures accordingly. He knew what conveniences would be
gained, and what unpleasantnesses would be avoided by a natural state
of things between his wife and Lady Lucy, and gave up an hour to
obtaining them. With this view he took his hat before luncheon, and
telling his wife Lady Lucy Bartlett was coming to call about three
o'clock, went his way to the great house. Lady Lucy Bartlett was a
little embarrassed, but he relieved her, by his friendly inquiries into
the health of her children, and by giving her some advice concerning
one of her son's tenants, who was worrying her and her steward. He then
allowed some seconds' pause, and began on his own matters.
"You've got nobody to ask about my wife, Lady Lucy. Nobody
hereabouts knows anything, so I'll tell you; and then there will be
no need of picking it up by bits, which would not be true after all. My
wife was Miss Shaledon."
"What, one of the Warwickshire Shaledons?" said Lady Lucy.
"Yes, that family."
"That's a very old family," said Lady Lucy.
"Oh, very; they were given as serfs or slaves by William the
Conqueror to his Glovers, the Ganters; but that's so long ago, that
their servitude is grown to be quite a credit to them. Well, Mrs.
Ferroll is one of the daughters of Johnson Shaledon, the son of John,
of Abororchards, who died soon after she was born."
"I know all about him," said Lady Lucy.
"I loved her very much before I married my first wife," said Mr.
Ferroll: "but we were parted, and I did two things in consequence — I
half broke her heart, and I married my first wife."
"Aye, indeed, poor thing — shocking! you must ... ha! indeed ..."
murmured Lady Lucy.
"Yes, very true, shocking indeed! and there it is," said Mr.
Ferroll, (imitating her manner, but so that she did not perceive it;)
"and then, you know, she died, as you say, poor soul! and I went away.
I met with Miss Shaledon — no, I went to look for her. She was ill; we
had found out the inhuman stratagem that had parted us long ago, and we
married. She is a woman whom I adore," he said, passionately, and went
on directly; "that's her story, and she has not one shilling. Now you
know all from the fountain head."
Lady Lucy did not know what to say; she did not feel quite sure
that knowing all mended the matter entirely; but Mr. Ferroll did not
want her comments.
"Are you going to walk this fine morning?" said he, rising from his
"Yes," said she; "I'll show you the Green..."
"Then come and call on Mrs. Ferroll; I'll give you my arm."
Lady Lucy Bartlett went and got her bonnet, and never said a word to
Here Mr. Ferroll was willing to have stopped, but his neighbour once
set going, was sociably inclined. She was charmed by Mrs. Ferroll, who
was a person to make an impression on any one; and her grace, her
agreeableness, and the pretty pursuits with which she was surrounded,
were not lost on Lady Lucy. She felt how invaluable such a neighbour
would be, if the neighbour could be led into sociableness; and
according to her skill, she dug round and cultivated her. Mr. Ferroll
had been a frequent guest at her house in the year before the late
disaster; and half afraid, half fond of him, she knew how clever he
was, how able to talk to everybody, and how valuable at her table, and
in her affairs. So first she sent a present of venison — for the Park
had venison, and the Tower had not; and as soon as her visit had been
returned, despatched an invitation to dinner. This was declined very
civilly; but Lady Lucy thought the reason assigned, was rather one
which had been sought for, than one which really existed. She was
afraid that the refusal was in resentment at her own delay in calling.
She wished with all her heart that she had been more eager to secure
the advantages which had been within, and now were escaped from, her
At the dinner, where Mr. and Mrs. Ferroll were not, she talked very
much about them, particularly about the last; and gave her cousins and
neighbours, Lord and Lady Ewyas, a desire to know her. Next morning
accordingly, they called from the Park — they and their hostess, and
the children, and a man or two, all walking through the Park to the
Tower. They entered through the garden; and as they came near the open
window, they heard her sweet voice singing.
"How useful for one's dinner-parties in the country," said Lady
Ewyas. Nearer, they saw her through the open windows, in a plain dress,
made according to the best fashion of the day, her brown hair
uncovered, her fair, pale face most lady-like.
"Oh, a woman to meet anybody," said Lord Ewyas.
They went in. She was alone, and received them beautifully — one
woman against a host, she was enough for all; yet never too
entertaining, never odd, never perplexed. She had drawings for them to
see of a place which was mentioned; and the circle being broken, asked
them to look at the garden, and give their opinion about an alteration,
and found other ways of getting happily through the morning visit.
Mr. Ferroll came in before it was over; he was as well-mannered as
his wife, in a stouter fashion, and had not to draw on his resources so
largely, because he already knew all the party, more or less, and had
subjects in common. Nothing could go smoother than he the host, and
they the guests. But when a week after, before the call had been
returned, Lord and Lady Ewyas sent to beg him and his wife to visit
them for a few days, another excuse went forth from the Tower, again
more civil than well-founded.
Lord and Lady Ewyas were vexed; for in the country it does not do
to lose acquaintance who are better than common; and attributed the
refusal to their own haste in dispensing with a return of their call,
regretting that the game which was in their own hands they had thrown
up by trying to secure it too soon.
Then what did they do if they would not visit their neighbours?
Lived alone, in perfect contentment, and employed themselves at home.
A great deal of Mr. Ferroll's time was given up to literary
employment; his name and fame as an author were some of the best parts
of his existence, and made him necessary, as well as acceptable, in
certain circles. He had written a few things which gave him fame, and
from time to time there issued from the Tower a brilliant article, a
few exquisite verses, or a fine fiction, which kept the attention of
the reading public upon him. He was at the same time a man of that
practical quality of mind which made him the most useful among those
who carried on the business of life; and with these gifts, and the
enjoyment of a well-ordered competency, he was in as good a position in
life as it was possible to be. Lady Lucy soon found it would not do to
send him presents with any view to keep up the relative position of the
great and lesser house. She could only send him carnal gifts of
pheasants and carp; but he, the second week in January, could make her
a present of a bunch of roses from his hot-house, and had always the
newest book to lend her when he and Mrs. Ferroll had read it. So much
he did for her; but he never dined at the Hall, nor encouraged an
extreme intimacy; and for his part, it might have gone on so to the end
of time, but things happened at the Hall, which broke through his
habit or plan of conduct.
The heir of Basall was a fine young lad, very much altered for the
worse since his father's death; he was so headstrong, that the women
were all afraid of him, and they could get no peace except by
flattering and courting him. Accordingly, they were under the tyranny
of caprices, such as should have been whipped away at school, and the
boy himself was running to ruin by his own guidance. His poor mother
was his guardian, and felt the helpless responsibility of her situation
in the most painful manner. One day she sent in despair to Mr. Ferroll,
to beg the favour of him to come to her immediately, and when he
complied, he found her in agonies lest he should not arrive before the
end of the half hour which had to elapse before her son should return
from his walk.
The case was this: — Hugh Bartlett had been pleased to declare he
should that day ride out upon a horse which was fit for anything
rather than to carry a boy; he had declared his mother's objections to
be bosh, and having so disposed of them, had ordered the horse.
Mr. Ferroll laughed when the case was stated to him. "You won't act
for yourself, I know," said he, "but in your name I will at once
desire that the horse be unprepared — the child must not break
his neck," and he got up to ring the bell.
"Oh, no," said the mother, "he can't bear that — if you only would
"Persuade is not the word for a boy," said Mr. Ferroll, ringing, and
giving the necessary orders; "you have called me in, and I will act
for you — what re- proach would you have a right to make me if I were
to fail in preventing the ride, and he were to be brought home with
"Oh, me! oh, heaven!" cried the mother; "but you don't know how
angry he will be."
"He angry — who ought to care for that?"
"It's very true,". she answered, melting into tears; "but he is so
changed since his poor father's death, and I have such trouble with
"You must send him to school," said Mr. Ferroll.
"I know it would be better," answered the mother, "but his dear
father, the last thing almost, said I was never to do that; he took my
hand and made me promise I would never send him to school."
bosh, as your son says; how could Mr. Bartlett
how what would be good for the boy, years to come?"
Lady Lucy was quite shocked.
"What! disregard my dear husband's last words?" she cried.
"Well, but let us see what sort of boy was he at that time."
"Oh, very different from what he is now, you know; he was very mild,
almost timid; his dear father knew how to manage him, and I think he
thought, perhaps, he had managed him almost too well, so when he felt
was so ill, he said, 'Be kind to him, keep him at home — promise he
shall never go to school.'"
"But you can't say he is timid now."
"Therefore this promise does not apply."
"That makes no difference as to the promise having been given."
"But it does as to keeping it."
"Oh, Mr. Ferroll, you to say so; such a learned man as you."
"What has my learning to do with it? but it does not matter
reasoning; here is a fine lad ruining, and school is the only thing to
make him find his level, to give him his place in the world. That is a
positive fact — let the rest alone, and the only question in my mind
is, the school where you will put him."
Mr. Ferroll kept to this point, passing over the conscientious and
abstract part as if granted, and out of the way, and being once engaged
in the certainty that it was desirable and useful, he now proceeded to
carry it impetuously, treading down all barriers that opposed
themselves. Lady Lucy was accustomed to yield obedience; and having
nothing to answer, and her tears being disregarded, she came in a
wonderfully short time to the point he had determined for her, and
authorized him to write to an experienced friend on the subject. She
was his only guardian, and all the time she felt internally that the
thing would not be done after all; that it would be talked about, and
threatened, and produce a good effect, and then, to be sure, if the
threat should not produce a good effect, why it might really be done,
still; but if she had these fors and againsts in her own mind, she
little knew the man in whose hands she had placed herself.
What a change had taken place in the destinies of young Bartlett, by
the time he was pleased to come in again, expecting his horse. Mr.
Ferroll undertook to explain the matter to him, and that he must walk
afoot, since his pony did not content him, and that he must go to
school, since his mother could not manage him. He took the lad a walk,
and like any other boy in the hands of a reasonable and a clever man,
he was moulded like wax to the impression Mr. Ferroll chose to give.
What sort of life he led his mother and the maids, I will not lift the
veil to display; but certain it is, that one month afterwards saw him
on his road to a private school of high repute, whence in a year and
half he was to be removed to Eton.
This very important service was not the only one of which Lady Lucy
Bartlett stood in need. She was misled by the ignorance, and cheated
by the iniquity of the people about her, and she felt herself in a
hopeless entanglement, out of which she had no power to lift herself.
At last things came to a crisis, and the steward said he had a remedy
to propose; he said the bills presented to his lady might be right, and
might be wrong, but he could not answer for it if her ladyship
continued determined to pay them herself. Things came to the confusion
of which she complained, in consequence of her ladyship paying for
herself; he, for his part, did all he could to keep them straight, but
as long as he had not the power in his own hands, his hands were tied,
and while his hands were tied, it was evident he could do nothing.
"Well, what was the remedy?" poor Lady Lucy asked.
"Why, it was this — let him have the power to draw her cheques in
his own name, and then being always able to pay these bills alone, he
should speedily bring her affairs into order. Her ladyship, he was
sure, could be certain that a servant employed by her honoured
husband, would be as careful of her money as if it were his own," &c.
Lady Lucy did as he wished. The steward loved power and credit, but
did not mean to cheat her; nevertheless, he got into debt, and was
tempted to set himself right by transferring a small sum from her
account to his own, fully intending to repay it. That, however, soon
became impossible, and it was at the moment that he found it impossible
even to repay the small sum, that he began to help himself freely to
large ones. When he was deeply her debtor, he suddenly doubled his debt
in order to speculate on hops, which was to set all right; but the crop
giving signs of failure, he gathered his money together, and went off
to the United States, leaving a letter behind, in which he said he was
sorry for the whole thing. Then it was Lady Lucy Bartlett appealed to
Mr. Ferroll; and embarrassed, confused, and ignorant of business as she
was, never did woman more need assistance. He gave it freely. Her
world was out of joint, and he had to devote himself to her to set it
right. Temporary retrenchment, a thorough reform of all her domestic
staff; to cut off the cocks and hens from their barley, which came to a
hundred a year; the neighbourhood to restrict of their ale, which they
came from miles round to drink at Basall; to send away the gardener,
who charged fifty pounds for seeds to crop the kitchen garden, yet
begged the cook to be careful of parsley; these, and other reforms of
greater and less extent, were the good work of Mr. Ferroll, in favour
of his neighbour and her son. She felt saved, and as the crowning
favour, besought him to share with her the office of guardian.
Mr. Ferroll was silent for a minute considering the matter. Then,
although he must have perceived how much for the advantage of the boy
it would be, he decidedly refused.
SINCE the beginning of our history several years had passed
before things arrived at this point. The young heir of the Bartletts
had been two years at school, and his mother's affairs had been
directed nearly that time by the good offices of Mr. Ferroll. He and
his wife were living in great and enjoyable retirement, and their
child was running about, still the only new branch of the tree. As far
as a young child can be lovely and charming, little Janet was so. She
had the sweetest face and the sweetest temper possible, but she was
less idolized than many a cross and many an ugly child. The whole
tenderness of Mr. Ferroll's nature was centered in his wife; and
anything that interfered with that passion he put aside. He would have
her devote herself to him, not to her child; he would have no nursing,
no teaching, no preference of a dawdle with Janet to the walk with him,
or the long summer day's expedition. The nursery was Janet's place, a
governess her teacher; she came to her mother when her mother was
alone, and was happy with her; but she was happy everywhere, "singing,
dancing, to herself," and it was rather her own resources than her
mother's motherly devotion which made her happiness.
Lady Lucy, who had all the instincts of a good woman, and only one
way of exercising them, could not believe Janet was happy; so little
fondled, so little made of, as she was. Her own children were all
important in her house, and when she knew Mr. and Mrs. Ferroll were out
together in summer weather, and would not be at home till after Janet's
bed-time, she would often walk to the Tower, and lead the little girl
by the hand up to her own sociable and noisy garden or drawing-room. An
extreme fondness naturally grew up between the little Ferroll and the
rather larger Bartletts. Her father saw it with great indifference, not
considering himself under obligations for services which he did not
want. Only on one point did he suddenly and positively interfere — and
that was when the young heir of the Hall, sharing in the fondness of
his mother and sister for the merry and most good-natured Janet,
declared her, according to the fashion of children, his wife. Mr.
Ferroll's brow clouded far more than the occasion required: his severe
countenance put an end to all the mirth of the moment, as a shadow
passing over young chickens is said to inspire them with instinctive
trembling, as if hawks were between them and the sun; and taking
occasion to call Janet's frightened governess into the room, he desired
such vulgar jests might never again be indulged in, upon the penalty of
an abrupt separation from her pupil. Little Janet, therefore, was no
longer the wife of Hugh Bartlett, and the governesses and nurses felt
they had done very wrong in suggesting the union. Except upon this
subject, he was kind and neighbourly to the Bartlett family; the
helplessness and goodness of the widow laid hold on him, as a climbing
plant upon the strong oak; and he found himself her support and
necessary prop, before he was aware how far he was engaged.
Lord Ewyas was struck by the energy which Mr. FerroIl had displayed
in her affairs — he himself was in need of aid, though of a different
kind. He was Lord-Lieutenant of the County, and he found himself very
ill-supported by the magistrates, who were an ordinary set of men, and
who at this moment were wanted in circumstances somewhat out of the
common order. The poor population had become exceedingly riotous, in
consequence of reduced wages, and they had formed such strong
combinations, and were guided by such efficient men, that a season of
considerable danger seemed impending.
Threatening letters had been received by many persons in the county,
and in several instances these threats had been put in execution by
the destruction of property, barns and ricks, for instance, which had
been set on fire. The last person to be thus persecuted should have
been the quiet and alms-giving Lady Lucy Bartlett; but so it was, that
a strange-looking epistle was one morning brought to her by her butler,
a servant who had long lived in the family, and who lingered in the
room evidently curious about the contents. She opened it, and found
these ominous words — "In a day you don't look for it, fire will
consume you." A shriek on her part, which was echoed by an exclamation
on his, followed; and she failed to remark, in her terror, that the
butler's alarm seemed to precede his knowledge of the fact, for he was
wringing his hands and crying out they were all lost, before he had
read the letter which contained the threat.
Mr. Ferroll was consulted, of course; he recommended caution, but
supposed it was the work of some one intending to extort money, and
would be followed by an appeal for relief. However, such was not the
case; from week to week the ill-shaped letter continued to be
delivered, and the words were still the same words — "In a day you
don't look for it, fire will consume you." These were brought up by her
trembling butler, Didley, with a face as white as a sheet, and still he
lingered to hear the contents, which at last produced such an effect
upon his nerves that he became unable to continue his services, and was
reduced to the confinement of the lower regions of the house, whence
the answer to his mistress's inquiries came every day "Very poorly
indeed, my lady."
Under these public and private circumstances, a clear-headed and
strong-willed man like Mr. Ferroll, was invaluable to all parties
concerned in them; and Lord Ewyas, as well as his cousin, was very
anxious personally to enlist his service.
"He's a magistrate, is not he, your Mr. Ferroll?" said he to Lady
"Yes, a very useful one; he is constantly at the petty sessions, and
the magistrates' meetings at Churchargent, and if by any chance he
does not go, they stop all the business if they can."
"He gets an influence wherever he goes," said Lord Ewyas; "he is the
very man I want to be able to send to upon occasion. I wish the fellow
was not so perverse. What keeps him at home, do you think?"
"I don't know," said Lady Lucy; "unless, perhaps, it was that
shocking thing about his first wife."
"Yet he's not a man to suffer from nerves and fine feelings — and
the thing's so long past, now."
"But then they never found out who did it," said Lady Lucy.
"Ah, you think that would have eased his mind, do you. They
suspected somebody, did not they?"
"Yes; though I don't think it would have eased his mind, for he got
him off you know; paid counsel for his own wife's murderer. When one
thinks of it, it's most extraordinary — it's carrying good nature
quite too far."
"Indeed it is," said Lord Ewyas; "only I suppose Mr. Ferroll thought
the man innocent."
"Oh dear no, he certainly did it — I saw him myself going about
quite free after the trial — he making a hedge when I saw him."
"But I suppose he was not the murderer," said Lord Ewyas. "If not it
would have been hard to hang him."
"But you know he certainly
was; he was tried you know."
"Oh, that does not make any difference," said Lady Lucy.
"No, no, to be sure," answered Lord Ewyas, laughing; "but, however,
Mr. Ferroll — let us talk of him — can you bring us together, do you
"No, I don't think I can. Whenever I have anyone here, he keeps
away; he only comes if I am alone — even Mr. Ewbury, who is so clever,
he would not meet."
"He would not come to
us, when I asked him," said Lord Ewyas;
"but I want him, and will get at him. You shall invite him, as if you
were alone, and I will be with you — I am sure you will be so kind?"
"Oh, certainly, only I'm afraid he will be angry — besides poor
Didley can't wait, he's so nervous about those terrible letters, that
sometimes in a morning he can scarcely stand."
"But you don't mean that your Mr. Ferroll is a man to care whether a
butler waits or not."
"Oh dear no, it's the very last thing he would observe or care
about. But it is meeting anyone, even you, that I'm afraid of."
"Even me! but nonsense, you must do it, will you, coz, for me?"
Lady Lucy hesitated; her cousin, however, persuaded her, and she
despatched a letter of request to see Mr. and Mrs. Ferroll, as she did
occasionally when needing their assistance. The pretence she took was
the incendiary letter, and they complied with the summons, for Mr.
Ferroll fancied he had traced them to their source, and was curious to
ascertain it positively; for he thought he perceived more danger in
them than Lady Lucy really believed, though less than she believed
herself to believe.
Lady Lucy came forward in some trepidation to receive her neighbours
when they were announced. "How d'ye do — it's so kind of you — are
you quite well, Mrs. Ferroll? I hope you won't object to not
finding me ...... that is to say, to being with ...... the thing is,
Lord Ewyas came only half an hour ago, and I could not, could I?"
"Just in time to dress?" said Mr. Ferroll. "I was not aware I was to
meet Lord Ewyas, but you were aware, my dear lady, that he was to meet
me; and I am happy to be made by you the acquaintance of your friends."
And so saying, he bowed frankly to Lord Ewyas, and accepted the
intercourse thus pressed upon him.
"We were half afraid," said Lord Ewyas, addressing himself to Mrs.
Ferroll, when after dinner conversation grew unrestrained, "that you
would be angry with my cousin and me for obliging you to let some one
beside herself share the advantage of her neighbourhood to you."
"Nay," answered Mrs. Ferroll, "don't have so bad an opinion of us as
that. It is only too flattering that you should think it worth while
to take the least pains to meet us."
"Any pains would be overpaid, if I could only, hear again the song
which I heard some years ago — yes, really years. It was too
good to be kept for one fortunate pair of ears."
"But, literally speaking, these ears of mine are not so fortunate,"
said Mr. Ferroll; "a brother author sometimes comes to consult, and a
printer's devil very often haunts us, and by one means or other, I am
very busy, my lord."
"Oh, but," interposed Lady Lucy, "you have only one man or so to see
you. One Mr. M— was with you last week," she said, naming without
knowing it, one of the most celebrated talkers of the day.
"Humph!" said Lord Ewyas, "you had him, and all to yourselves?"
"Yes, we had — he and I are old friends, and now fellow workers."
"What a charity it would be to invite your neighbours, who never
hear or see such a big-wig."
one Mr. M—?" said Mr. Ferroll, smiling.
Lord Ewyas smiled too for half a moment. "True," he said.
"What's true?" asked Lady Lucy.
"Lady Lucy," said Mr. Ferroll, "is your butler better yet? I fear
you will never have his services again."
"Oh, I can't think anything so shocking; but it's all the fault of
the radicals. These fires have put him half out of his wits. They tell
me he goes out two or three times in the night to see that the well has
water in it, and that he calls the housekeeper up more nights than not,
fancying he smells fire."
"He should consider," said Lord Ewyas, "that he is but a lodger;
what is it to him if the house be burned?"
"Nay," cried Lady Lucy, "that's a remark I don't understand. Are not
lodgers burned as well as the owners?"
"They say not," said her cousin; "but if he is of a different
opinion, it's no wonder the letters you get frighten him."
"Oh, he's horribly frightened; the first time he brought me one, I
knew something was the matter, by the shaking of the door in his hand."
"How did he know the contents?" asked Mr. Ferroll.
"By the shape, I suppose, and the look, and the writing," said Lady
"Do you never have oddly shaped letters except from the incendiary?"
asked Mr. Ferroll.
"Yes, the butcher, and begging letters, to be sure."
"But those never alarmed him?"
"I never remarked; but I wish you would not frighten me with those
kind of questions that I don't know the meaning of," said the widow.
Mr. Ferroll laughed gaily; he caught his wife's eye, who said
immediately, "I am sure Ferroll thinks some evil is going to happen.
Danger puts him in high spirits always." He, perhaps, would have
parried the charge, had not Lady Lucy said, "It frightened her to see
people so fearless," and signed to her guests to move to the
"I think," said Mr. Ferroll, when he had shut the door, "that the
butler himself writes the letters."
"Why so?" said Lord Ewyas, startled.
"It is borne in upon me," answered Mr. Ferroll, smiling. "More
little circumstances than I can remember or detail, bring me to that
"And do you think that he means any harm by it?"
"That I don't know; he either acts the alarm which he shows, in
order to cover his design, or else he is going mad, and is haunted by
the idea of mischief, and impelled to do it."
"He looks ill," said Lord Ewyas.
"Very; and much worse this evening than I have seen him at all. I am
sure he must be watched tonight."
Lord Ewyas grew uneasy, but Mr. Ferroll turned the conversation, and
exerted his great social powers to engage his companion's interest and
attention. They both became eager in discourse, and Lord Ewyas was
impatient, when the door was opened, and Didley, the butler, entered
the room without a summons, and advanced towards the table, as if
expecting to be spoken to. "Did you ring, my lord?" he asked.
"No, no, I did not ring," he said; "I thought the fellow was sick,
and could disturb nobody," and then he continued the argument he was
maintaining against Mr. Ferroll; but they had not long been engaged in
the animated and interesting controversy, before Didley again
interrupted them, and making some trifling alteration in the table,
evidently waited for an opportunity of speaking.
"What is it you want?" said Lord Ewyas, impatiently.
"Why, my lord, if you'll give me leave to speak, I have a matter I
very much wish advice upon."
"Can't you wait till to-morrow morning?"
"Really, my lord, I can't very well. It's about these letters to my
lady, these threatening letters — so I hear they are at least."
"Which you write yourself," said Mr. Ferroll.
I write!" said the butler, turning upon him eyes of
the deepest perplexity. "Do I write them, do you think, sir?"
"I know you do."
"Who told you?" said Didley.
"Oh, one told me who cannot be mistaken."
"And did he tell you really that it was I?"
"Well, that is what I never have been sure of myself, for when I see
them, and take them up to my lady, they frighten me in a strange way
for a man's own writing to do."
"Why do you write then?" asked Lord Ewyas.
"Why, my lord, it's partly all about that matter that I came to talk
with you gentlemen. Do you know, that for months past there have been
people coming into my room without any leave of mine. They used to be
quiet enough, but of late they have grown troublesome."
"Who are they?" said Lord Ewyas.
"Why, there comes a good many. I know, and some I don't know; my
late master, my lady's husband, is foremost. He will come and sit down
close by me, and tell me to write to my lady, always these same words
— 'In a day you don't look for it, fire will consume you.' I have
conjured him a hundred times to tell me if he comes from heaven or from
hell, but he always shakes his head."
"That might give rise to unpleasant conjectures," said Mr. Ferroll.
"Now you know who told me."
"Aye, sir, I thought so; though I wonder he came to you. I never saw
him, nor any of them, when other living people were in the room, before
to-day. Was it to-day, sir?"
Mr. Ferroll shook his head gravely; and, evading the question,
inquired, "At what time was he with you?"
"It was when John, and Henry, and I were laying the cloth for
"Did they see him?"
"No; I asked them, and they said 'No.'"
"Nor hear him?"
"No; he would not speak, only beckoned me with him."
"But then he spoke?"
"Yes, yes; and I think I must do it."
"Well, I'm not clear that it is right."
"That's what I sometimes think myself; and I've kneeled by my
bedside hours and hours, asking God, and praying till I have not known
my head from my heels. But it's all dark there."
"Poor fellow!" said Lord Ewyas.
"Yet it's a great thing, my lord, to have the company of spirits;
and the last hour or two, I must say, I've been easier than for a long
time, and that I think is a sign that I've got leave to do it."
"It may be so; but you came like a wise man to consult us on the
subject," said Mr. Ferroll. "From what he said to me, I think you're
mistaken. Did he say precisely these same old words?"
"No, no; worse words — worse."
"Aye, indeed, I thought so. Sometimes I've known those spirits make
very strange blunders; and with respect to what your old master
orders, I advise ......"
"I can't take it, if you advise against doing it," interrupted
"Why, partly because it's already done."
"What's done?" cried Lord Ewyas.
"The house is on fire," said Didley.
"Good heavens!" cried Lord Ewyas, starting up.
But Didley, springing to the door before him, fastened it, and set
his back against it. "Nobody shall hinder my work," he said. "I knew
you would talk to me while my fires were burning; and if he had not
gone and betrayed me to one of you ......"
But before he could finish, Mr. Ferroll sprang upon him, and tried
to force him from the door; but Didley was armed, and drew out suddenly
a large knife, the sheath of which was just inside his coat. Mr.
Ferroll just avoided a fatal thrust; and seizing his arm, said, "Is
this the way you treat your master's friend?"
"Nobody's his friend that hinders me doing his commands," said the
madman, his malady breaking out at this sudden excitement, and
struggling with the violent strength of madness, to regain command of
There was now a contest, which was plainly much to the disadvantage
of Mr. Ferroll, his antagonist being armed, and his mind beyond all the
usual motive of control. It was not only strength that was needed, but
there was the necessity to avoid even a faint stroke of the sharp
gleaming knife; Mr. Ferroll saw the disadvantage.
"Come," said he, "you're in the right. You must do as you will;
loose me," and all the while half kept a powerful grasp of the maniac,
"and I won't hinder you."
"Swear that," cried Didley.
"Again — again."
"Well, well, I
swear; but it's all right, you see. Don't you
smell the smoke yourself — you've done it."
In fact, the burning smell became perceptible.
"Ha! you say true, sir," said Didley, and turned his pale face
towards the quarter whence it came, his iron grasp still held Mr.
Ferroll; but Lord Ewyas perceived only the apparent relaxation in his
purpose, and thinking the danger from him passed, rushed towards the
"You've sworn falsely," cried Didley, brandishing his knife, and
straining again his vigorous hold; "my master shall be obeyed;" and
again he sought to make a plunge.
"Good heavens! there he is," said Mr. Ferroll, suddenly relaxing all
his resistance, and fixing his eyes on the door.
"Where?" cried Didley, thrown off his guard for a moment. That
moment was enough. Mr. Ferroll closed upon him, and threw him down;
Lord Ewyas sprang to help. They snatched away the knife, and now,
notwithstanding his struggles, he was soon overpowered.
In another minute two of the servants who had heard the noise came
rushing to their assistance. "So far, so good," cried Mr. Ferroll.
"Come, my lord, there's the second act yet;" and they both ran to find
the sources of the fire, whose smoke began to roll through the house.
"Go to the drawing-room, pray, my dear lord," said Ferroll. "Get
Lady Lucy and the children out into the garden. There is no danger, I
think, but they will shriek so hideously. Will you whisper Mrs. Ferroll
to come to me for a moment? Thank you."
And without waiting for her, but sure that she find him, he gave
directions what to do, and continued his search for any fresh spots in
which the madman might have kindled the flame.
"Elinor," he said, "you see I'm quite safe, but I've a story to tell
you. Not now, however, most certainly; about, dear Elinor, with your
keen womanly intelligence, for that poor fool Didley, who I told you
was ill, has been setting the house on fire. We have put out one fire
already, but there may be many more. As for himself, he's out of the
way; he's a perfect maniac, and they've secured him. Never mind that
now; don't think of that just now, only keep close to me, and tell me
if you perceive fire."
Luckily the discovery had followed so closely on the act, that
although fired in several places, the house had not become dangerously
inflamed; and under calm and prompt treatment, the peril subsided
before long; and with the sacrifice of some silk curtains, and the
destruction of some plaster ceilings, through which the water poured,
safety was restored, so far as could be ascertained; but men were set
to watch all night, lest any hidden danger should yet remain. The
party got together again, when all was done that was possible, in the
drawing-room, and then Mr. Ferroll talked seriously with his hostess,
and gaily with his wife, of what had passed. His companion in peril
shuddered still at the remembrance of their danger. He was full of
natural pity for the maniac, whose ravings penetrated occasionally to
the drawing-room from the room where he was confined and guarded. Mr.
Ferroll tried his very best to look grave also, and to compose his
sensations to a due harmony with the nerves of Lady Lucy, and the
overpowered state of mind of Lord Ewyas; but he was like a man slightly
intoxicated, who even while acting rationally, does so with a
consciousness to himself, and evidence to others that he is doing it by
an effort of self-command. The excitement had roused up every power of
life; and his wit, his knowledge, his force of character, were all in
activity. He enjoyed life, and no nervousness about himself, or
sensibility to the sufferings of another, disturbed him.
"I should so much like to walk home, instead of the carriage," he
said at last to his wife. "You don't mind it, do you?"
"Oh, I should enjoy it also very much," she answered, quite ready to
"What, after a shock like that?" cried their hostess; "all in the
"Can my carriage be of any use?" said Lord Ewyas.
Mrs. Ferroll civilly declined; her husband said something like
pshaw! but it would have passed had not Lady Lucy whispered "Hush,"
which was quite too late, as the thing was not going to be said again;
"they have plenty of horses and carriages."
Lord Ewyas let it pass, and shaking hands with both, begged them to
continue the acquaintance thus recommenced, and said to Mr. Ferroll,
"We have been in danger of death together — an irresistible reason
for trying to enjoy life in one another's company."
Mr. Ferroll smiled, and said, "The campaign had been a brilliant
one;" and so they parted, without any promises made on the Ferroll
side to cultivate the acquaintance; and Lady Lucy, as soon as they were
gone, said, "He won't come and see you now; you have offended him about
But her cousin answered, "Pooh, pooh! he has too much sense; he's
too well bred for that."
SO it was, however, that the Ferrolls declined all invitations
to Harold's Castle, and Lord Ewyas was offended. But this affected
only himself; for Mr. Ferroll declined going, because he did not want
to go, so that it just suited him that Lord Ewyas should leave off
inviting him. He continued his active services as a magistrate; and the
Lord-Lieutenant kept one sulky eye upon him, in case necessity should
compel an application for his services, although he was in no hurry to
seek them. But the distress which had occasioned the tumultuary spirit
of the people, was leading to results which in some degree stopped the
acts of aggression, and which involved the quiet and the turbulent
alike in trouble. Disease broke out in the district, deaths were very
frequent, and the fear and suffering became so general, that all the
activity and reason of the acting part of the community were required
in the emergency. There were very judicious measures taken, hospitals
set up in several places, and means provided for supplying the infected
with nurses and medicines at home, when the circumstances required it.
There was some trouble, however, in finding superintending visitors, as
the illness which had already affected many, deepened into the
pestilence of the cholera, and alarmed people more than any familiar
terror could have done.
Under these circumstances Mr. Ferroll was willing to do everything
that was wanted, and what other people were afraid to do. But on the
first intimation of danger, Lady Lucy went to him, as on all other
occasions of distress, and was overcome at hearing that he did not
intend to isolate house and family, as she herself was taking measures
"I dare say you are very right, Lady Lucy," he said; "but I can't be
right in the same way. I am wanted; and to tell the truth, I should
have no pleasure in keeping safe at home."
"But it is not only for pleasure I do this," answered Lady Lucy.
"You know it has killed a great many people, even of one's own
acquaintance. Poor Mr. Waylett even died — a man I have known all my
life — how very shocking!"
"Certainly you have known
me a long time, and it might kill
me," said Mr. Ferroll, reflectingly.
"Did you think of that before?" asked Lady Lucy.
"Well, I don't know if I did."
"And Mrs. Ferroll and little Janet?" said the lady, pursuing her
"Yes, all run their chance indeed, as you say. As for Janet, her
mother did talk of sending her somewhere or other."
"Oh, send her to me; I shall keep the park shut up, and nobody shall
get in or out; only you must all three come, you must indeed; and come
at once, to-morrow." Mr. Ferroll shook his head. "Then at least Mrs.
Ferroll," said the good-hearted lady.
"Oh no. What, without me!"
"Why, you can't be so selfish as to wish to put her in danger, in
order to keep you company?"
"Indeed I am, though; there would be no enjoyment of the thing
"What thing? What are you talking about?"
"Oh, why — she and I must stay together; but it really is very
good-natured of you, Lady Lucy, to offer to receive the little girl —
she'll be so safe and so near, and off our hands. Upon my word, you lay
me under great obligation."
"I only repay one out of ten thousand you have heaped on me," said
Lady Lucy; "so you'll let her come?"
And thus it was settled. Mr. Ferroll announced it at home as a most
convenient arrangement, and was surprised at himself for not having
thought of it as a painful one, when he saw his wife's eyes fill with
tears as she went with Janet to the carriage, which was to take her
"Good bye, Janet," he said, following hastily, and stopping her to
kiss her; and then as the carriage drove away, he took his wife's arm
in his, and walked out with her into the garden. "It is like the first
days of our marriage," he said, "to be so completely alone."
Here the Author gives extracts from the Journal kept in common by
Mr. Ferroll and Elinor: —
"The twelfth day of my superintendence. Cholera goes on increasing.
I was in the town early this morning, and found the nurses frightened
away from the close alleys. I went over every house to see what could
be done. Money in such moderate doses as counties and committees can
give, would not tempt them yet to brave the infection, though in a few
weeks one shall get hired services as cheap as blackberries; but
mothers nurse their children, servants their masters. There seems an
instinct in common between mothers and servants. They can't help being
faithful. Ally Bean, No. 3, close alleys, was without shoes; she had
sold them to buy what she called salamanca, which a neighbour said
would cure her child. In the state it is in, no doubt salammoniac will
kill it, but I did not tell her so. I said she had done very wisely,
for the evil was beyond remedy, and she will think she should have
saved it if anything could.
"Old Miss Felton, 5, Cheap Street, daughter of the Bishop Felton
whom my grandfather bullied, is on the highway to death. She looks like
a squeezed orange. She is the first in her street, and the neighbours
have slunk away. The old water-carrier and his old donkey won't leave
water at her door. There is a gray-haired man, her father's footman,
living a mile out of the town, and I actually found him in her
miserable room, making gruel for her over the fire. Neither of them
seemed to think it anything out of the way that he should give his help
thus gratuitously, only she lamented he was not a woman, and he seemed
much vexed at himself for the fault. She will die.
"Family of Jones, at 42, first turn in the close alleys. Three of
them ill; one just dead as I came in; nobody seemed to mind the dead
boy — too miserable. The father who was nearly gone, fancied he should
recover —he alone spoke of the dead. 'He'll be in heaven soon,' the
father said, looking at him. — 'When?' I asked.- The father seemed
puzzled. 'As soon as he's buried, sir, I suppose.'— 'And the parish
must bury him,' said the mother. They had in the house one dead rabbit,
poached or stolen: no water, no plate, no salt, no fire. I gave money
to a naked boy in the street to act as their page, and as he seemed not
to know what cholera meant, I suppose he will. I must see them
"All day among the lanes and alleys — all day among the frightened
and dying; the starving, fevered, tortured. It is a curious scene — a
tragedy being acted all day long; and human nature naked and sincere as
in the time of great passions. I, the well and strong man, have my
stall at this opera, and see it all at my ease — the more at my ease
because I have something to do in it. At seven o'clock I got away;
mounted my horse, and galloped home. What pleasure there is in
galloping home. The object is before one, at which to arrive quickly;
the still air becomes a wind, marking the swiftness of one's pace —
the fleet horse is his own master, yet my slave; the bodily employment
leaves care, thought, and time behind; one feels the pleasure of
danger, because there might be danger, and there is none. And I, when I
get home, see the being than whom nobody in the world loves another as
I love her. And after all that dirt, misery, and ugliness, I find her
in her pure white muslin, the sleeves hanging about her fair arms, with
gold chains under the muslin, her delicate hair so delicately dressed,
her little feet in their silk shoes; her pure pale complexion, and the
indescribable odour of beauty breathing in the room. She kissed me
twenty times to-day, as if to make sure that if I had caught the
cholera, she must catch it too. And if I had, I should like to give it
her, and die; but I am well. I enjoy life — we both enjoy it. We
dined, and sat down in the library for the blessed evening; and here I
am finishing my journal, and then I will listen to her divine voice
singing; and when we have had enough of that, read our book for an
hour, and go to bed.
"Thirteenth day. I took a circuit of twenty miles before going to
Wallcester. Cholera has inoculated the country, and the spots spread.
I met High, the Ouston apothecary, as I rode along. He looked very
blank indeed. 'It's getting very serious, sir,' he said; 'two medical
men have died.' — 'But none of the visiting committee, have they?' I
asked. — 'Not yet, sir,' he answered, and went on in a very bad
temper. Men don't seem so much to mind death as the pain of dying.
Aymos, the old man of ninety, at Front Lane, who used to say he was
afraid God Almighty had forgotten him, has left his cottage by help of
a neighbour's cart, and gone to Wisley, because cholera broke out at a
house a quarter of a mile off. As I passed through Wisley I called on
him. 'They tell me, sir,' he said, 'that William died three hours after
he was taken ill. It's awful sudden.' — 'But you can't die suddenly,
my good old Aymos,' I said; 'how many years have you been getting worse
I wonder?' — 'Aye, aye, sir, but they die all before they are aware,
and folks are afraid to bury them.'
"I saw a case which would have frightened him. A young man, I don't
know who he was, was sitting on some steps in King Street; he had that
paleness in his face which looks like something that is not a man — a
ghost, as people used to call it. I bade a man stay near him, and ran
to the hospital for a stretcher. On this we laid him, helpless as a man
of rag, and carried him to the cholera ward. Here, as we could not let
him die like a more happy dog, the doctors began to torment him, and by
wasting a good deal of flannel and brandy, succeeded in making him
conscious of his agony. And I don't suppose the rack was ever worse.
Those artifi- cial spasms of the rack which jerk the joints in and out
of their places, were here natural. There was one Anne, whom he
constantly apostrophized; and he seemed to shrink from and put back
imaginary kisses which Anne was giving him. No Anne was there — no
human being who thought of him otherwise than as a cholera patient; yet
the poor lad's distress arose from overkindness, and the danger to the
life of this shadowy Anne. I said to him at last, 'she won't catch it,'
and he unglazed his eyes to hear me; but pain was too strong for him,
and I having no more time for this one among the hundreds, left him,
and went my way. I believe he is in too much pain to die yet; for when
the end is coming, these poor souls are quite at ease.
"I ran from lane to lane, for the work to do was enough for twenty
men, and most of the committee were frightened, and passed a vote that
everything would be best done by me. Amusement at their simple
artifice, which deceived them, and made them quite happy, and the
excitement of rushing about with a human spectacle everywhere, so
kindled my spirits, that I stopped at the end of a by-way, and indulged
in one quiet laugh. A window opposite was open, admitting the sound I
fear, for a head came out — a pale head, with a black coat close up to
the face, and a narrow white collar over it; a thin, white, large hand
was laid on the window sill. 'Who laughs?' said the voice of the head.
— I was rather ashamed; but I answered boldly, 'Mr. Ferroll.' —
'Sinner,' said the pale head, making the sign of the cross over me;
'death will take you with the fool's scoff in your mouth.' I knew him
then. It was the Roman Catholic priest from Allerby, and I was grieved
to have shocked his sincere prejudices. I said, 'Let me come in,
brother, and you will teach me better.' He answered, 'No; the living
scoffer may not interrupt the last moments of the repentant dying.' —
'But,' I said, 'will you reject me — will you fail to profit by your
opportunity of converting the sinner?' — 'The door is open,' said the
priest, drawing in his head. He was easily gulled by my flattering
words, so I pushed at it, and ran up stairs, resolved to see all that
men were doing in this trying hour. He affected not to pay the least
attention to my entrance, or rather he acted a part without confessing
to himself that he was acting. His patient was dying — the most
absorbing and interesting spectacle that we can see. The priest was
engaged in the act, which to a man of his faith is the most important
in the world — the act by which the soul is saved, and without which
it is not saved. I was deeply interested in watching both — the poor
mortal insensible, but labouring still with his heaving chest — the
living man touching him with the mystical oil, which in his faithful
persuasion was a communion with supreme spirits, a fiat made out by
his own hand, that this dead man was to live with higher beings. Still
even in those moments he was not proof against the pleasure of making
or feeling himself valued by a man of better rank and education than
his ordinary subjects. I could see he gloried in being a god before me;
in having the command even of this obscure tragic garret — his
gestures as much as said, 'See, I have no regard to you. Observe; I go
on as if you were not here. I do not hasten or retard my speech for
you. You must be quiet, and note in silence, and waiting upon me, all I
do.' And so I did; touched more than he, by the ceremony which was
compara- tively new to me, but a matter of every-day occurrence to
"When it was over, he turned to me, and said a few words in
dog-Latin, the meaning of which I did not catch — and then tried to
pass. 'Are you going to more patients?' I said. 'You look very ill,
brother; you should take rest yourself.' — 'That's the advice,' he
answered, 'which one of your archbishops gave to his own clergy; he
said they had better not put themselves into danger by confessing their
flocks, for the doctor, not the priest, was wanted.' — 'According to
his belief that's true," said I. — 'Fatal belief, which sets the soul
below the body,' he answered. 'Think, sir, which religion does that
prove to be true?' — 'Or does it prove,' I asked, very modestly, 'that
he thinks the soul is not put into danger by omitting to confess?' —
'But we know it is,' said the priest. I looked very much struck
by this argument, and then I offered him some money for the use of the
bodies of his people, or if he would keep it to pay himself for saying
masses, he is very welcome. When we got to the subject of money he lost
his dignity; and thanked me with the scrape of his foot, so unlike the
character we had relatively borne to each other during the above scene,
that I thought the tragedy wanted dignity at its close.
"When I came home this evening, Elinor looked pale. I thought
instantly, 'Am I ill too?' — dying together, and now, would be such a
pleasure; we are so happy, and at this moment so useful; and the
inanimate body laid in its last rest, always looks to me an enviable
thing, free as it is from every storm that can blow.
"Fifteenth day. — When I got to — to-day, I found a messenger
waiting to call me, before I went anywhere else, to the committee. I
found them round the table, taken up with a new man who had been
brought over by Solly, who had an infallible remedy for the cholera. If
the district was given entirely into his management, he undertook to
cure them all. He had already done so in the district round Cape
Matapan. Solly was wholly on the side of humanity he said, and of
curing everybody. He said he longed for cholera in his own person, that
he might show his reliance on his friend's remedy. I begged to hear
what was the treatment. The empiric would not tell exactly, but said it
was a particular application of cold water. Cholera he informed us was
identical with hemorrhage; and then went off at length to show the
absurdity of treating hemorrhage with stimulants. I gave a few reasons
for doubting the first premise, but was not much listened to. Some of
the committee thought it wrong in a body intrusted with the health of
the district, to let the people die, when a remedy was at hand; and
some said they had had bleeding at the nose, and had always used cold
water successfully. I went to talk privately to the few rational, and
found a party who could use their common sense, and having agreed to
stand by each other, I got up and made my speech. I told them time was
short; the East Indies was the native place of cholera, certain
remedies were the authenticated remedies there; and that I, and those
about me, should resign our superintendence if any other treatment were
adopted. Solly said he would resign if another treatment were not
adopted; but they did not believe him; and after a little blustering
he gave in, and all things resumed their old course."
Journal continued by Mrs. Ferroll. — "Paul went away this morning
at seven o'clock. We were so late last night singing, and then falling
into talk, and talking till near two o'clock, that neither of us had a
mind to get up. To be at the end of time would be a great pleasure, so
that one might go on doing pleasant things as long as one liked, and
find when done it was no later o'clock than at the beginning. I do not
love growing older. We are young now; but there are not a great many
years to pass before we shall be at the end of our youth, and I begin
not to wish that a future day was come, whatever pleasure it is to
bring. It is only when one is almost a child, that life seems long
enough to wish one could skip over one of its weeks or months, in order
to reach a given day. But then to be sure, in extreme youth one is not
happy as one is (or can be) at our age. This time, which is dismal as
far as the neighbourhood is concerned, is very, very happy to us. Paul
enjoys life intensely; and when he comes home so do I. What a
delightful companion he is — everything he has seen and done is
reproduced for me, so that I and he become one as to the events and
feelings of the day he has passed. All I have done, and am
doing, is equally interesting to him. What I write, and what I read,
what I sing, and whom I see; what I think, will all come before us two
again this happy evening. It is like passing a hot summer noon in the
shade on the Loire, as we did when we were first married — life
flowing over with abundance, but as still as it was bright.
"I have been looking out the passages about great national plagues
and sicknesses. The cholera is brooding in his head into an article,
and those passages will contribute to it. Now I will read till I hear
his step in the hall, then the thing longed for will be come. I shall
want and wish nothing more; but whether silent or talking, reading,
eating, sleeping, shall be happy from then till to-morrow morning."
Mr. Ferroll continues. — "I came home later than usual. Elinor had
to pay for expecting me so confidently by two hours of doubt. 'Has
anything happened; what can have happened; what can keep him so late?'
I meantime, happy and easy, knew that nothing was the matter, that
waiting for the doctor kept me; and while my pretty Elinor, my
delicate, my fair, my dear, dear wife, was in the fever of vain fears,
I was trotting home at the full pace of my horse, whistling and gazing
from side to side on the eastern shadow and the western glow. But then
came that clump, clump that she loves so well to hear in the hall, and
that self-reproach it is so easy to make, when suspense is ended —
'How foolish I was to fancy any harm.' After pain, to be at the end of
pain, to be enjoying the hours instead of suffering the hours — that
is the bliss of human nature, which the mind finds it hard to believe.
"Thus it is with me — me, who have suffered in this very house pain
so inconceivable! I know well that I have really lived here, in
this house, with that woman; fancied myself tied to her for my life;
known what you, Elinor, were going through, and how I had had my
fortune in my hand, and at the voice of a very devil thrown it away —
all that is as true and real in my imagination as it once was in fact;
and often it comes in the place of the blessed present time, making
the exquisite now give way to the hated past. In my dreams I go
back again into that horrible past; I become what I was, though the
last waking thought has been the blessed thing I am. With you beside
me, I dream you are not my wife; I dream you are divided from me for
ever; the habitual misery of those two years resumes its presence in
sleep. It never yet has come into my dreams how death delivered me from
that woman, though it was a strange and tragical way that he took. Dame
Partlett asked me one day (to ease her own doubts on the subject, I
suppose), 'Ar'nt you very sorry for her?' ...... I sorry? No, I
was very, VERY, VERY glad! ......But I told her
I was sorry ....... I dreamed nothing bad last night; I dreamed
nothing at all, I think. Malthus speaks prettily of married life — 'So
much innocence, and so much happiness,' he says. That sentence worked
in my head as I rode away from home, and seemed to keep a sort of chime
to every variety of pace of my horse. Certainly the cholera increases;
the more we do, the fiercer it rises. But the people who suffer most
from it, being the inhabitants of miserable alleys, or of squalid huts,
die at least better off through our attentions than ever they lived.
When it attacks those who are a little more at ease in their
circumstances, it is borne least patiently.
"I went on the accustomed round, and found all the houses I visited
the first week had had, or had now got, a death in them. I came into
James Bean's house just as the thread of his child's life was spun out.
It is charming to see how poetical human nature is in its extremities.
The expressions sometimes have a touch of ludicrousness; but the
sentiment is that which a poet could best make use of. This girl of
fourteen has always been sickly. Her mother weeping by her, the girl
said feebly, for she was almost gone, 'Don't cry for me,' mother; I
was always a poor body, and could not have bustled for myself in the
world. I'm glad I'm going.' The pretty selfishness, too, pleased me.
The dying are doing such an important thing, they are such foremost
characters in the scene, that they feel a right to think of themselves,
and to be thought of, first and foremost of all who bear a part in it."
Mrs. Ferroll. — "Paul set off in high spirits. He was delightful
all breakfast time, reading passages here and there from the article
he is writing, and bringing out his imagination and memory, one picture
after another, ludicrous and pathetic, of what men do in the course of
their great excitements. Nobody but me knows the perfection of his
conversation; he must love as he loves me, to be so one with his
hearer; to listen as he does, to talk all that is in his heart as he
does, to be equally desirous of expressing his whole meaning and
conception in words, as to work it out clearly in his own mind. This
profoundly quiet life which I have led since I married him, is the
perfection of society. His chosen friends, or rather I should say, his
fellow workers come to us, with all their bright wits out of harness;
quite at ease, yet in full exercise in our society, and excited by him.
We have none of the trammels of neighbours, except good Lady Lucy, Dame
Partlett, as he calls her, who is very useful, and very dependant upon
us. Paul has avoided visiting all the others.
"While I wrote this the post came in. I saw Lady Lucy's hand, but
waited to finish my sentence before I opened her letter; but it is far
too interesting now I have read it. My pretty Janet is ill; they hope
it is the measles; but they don't know yet what it is. The
out-of-the-way place they are gone to can't furnish a good doctor. I
wish I could go to her at once; but without bidding Paul good bye, I
can't do that. I can't have him come home, and find me gone, without
his saying go, to my going; and will you let me go, Paul? he always
tells me that a nurse and a governess are better for a child than a
mother, and perhaps it is so in general; but then she is ill, and they
don't know what it is. Shall I go ? I went up stairs, and rang for
Preston to get ready for a journey, but I could not do it. If I were
away, at this time to-morrow I should be so wishing myself back. I
never left him for pleasure in my life, because it was more pleasant to
be with him than any other thing could be. This would not be for
pleasure indeed, except the pleasure to myself of being with my poor
little darling, and I could not be of use to her — yet I long
to go. The miserable time when I thought it impossible ever to belong
to him, when all hope was over, after I heard the fatal news of his
marriage — that time often comes over me, and I don't like to lose a
single day of his society. I feel afraid, lest there should be the
same time again; a time when I shall not be with him; when I should
think how mad I must have been to waste one day away that we might have
passed together. I must wait till he comes home, before deciding about
Mr. Ferroll's hand-writing. — "Elinor is gone to little Janet.
There was the prettiest strife about it in her mind; but when the post
came this morning with no letter from Dame Partlett, her uneasiness got
the better of her desire to remain, and here I am alone for the first
time at home, for though I have left her sometimes, she never before
left me. What am I without her? something, something like that
horrible thing I was when I had lost her for mine. I have just
returned from a most interesting day, and have no one to tell it to; no
Elinor, I ought to say, for she is the companion to whom to think
aloud. I can't enjoy anything without her to talk to about it.
"I went into Key's district to-day, because he is ill and gone away;
how can he have the leisure to be sick, in such a stirring time?
"There is a cottage on the Moor, which the occupier had got by right
of possession, and which had always kept him from applying to the
parish. They are accustomed therefore to intense poverty. The name is
Skenfrith. I went to it, and found all ill except the mother and one
big boy. She said the neighbours had deserted her, and the doctor did
not know of her. She knew the doctor must be paid if he came, and for
her part she had no money to waste on doctors. The sick child lay by
its father and was crying. I bade it be quiet, but it said it was
hungry. The father was far worse, apparently sinking under the disease;
he motioned me to come near him, at a moment when I had sent the mother
to my horse, which I heard pawing outside. 'Sir,' he said, 'make her
give this little one a potatoe, she has plenty there under the measure,
but she keeps them for her and Jem, who are both stout and likely to
live, she thinks it waste on us who must die; but the little one here
breaks my heart to be so hungry.' This was a new trait in human nature
to me — yet I remember the mother in the retreat from Moscow, who
threw out her child repeatedly on the snow, saying, 'Let me be saved
— he does not know what Paris is.' I went to the measure and
lifted it, and true enough there was a store of provisions, which the
parent with stern calculation kept for those whom it could profit. She
came in at the moment, and suffered all the pain of detection — doing it had seemed right enough; but she knew how it would look to
other people, and was ashamed. I did not reproach her. What right had I? I merely gave food to the child and money to the mother; but I
told her I would have a nurse here, from whom I should ask account of
what was sent for the sick; she was more womanly than her acts, for she
began to cry. The big lubberly boy got on one side and grinned.
"At the next house I went to, John Parry's, the news, which they
told me at once, and without any thought of John Parry's state, was,
that Lord Ewyas had been attacked by cholera. 'They say my lord will
die,' said Mrs. Parry; 'Lord a' mercy on us, to think of such a thing!'
I asked why friend John was without medicine. Why, John's son was Boy's
boy at the great house, and had been sent on the Boy's boy's pony to
Whitchurch, to get mustard for my lord's plaster — the housekeeper
being 'out of mustard.' All the family seemed so perfectly satisfied
with these reasons, that I expressed my hearty concurrence in them
"I called at Harold's Castle, and found he really was ill. Lady
Ewyas was frightened, and was kept in agitation by the apothecary, who
was very happy in frightening the great lady. Lord Ewyas lay in bed,
thinking he should die, and also, that it was the most serious calamity
that could befall the whole country. How unobservant flattered men are!
how came he not to know that the accession of the next Lord Ewyas
would be the 'auspicious event' of the newspapers? I told him my
sincere opinion, which was, that he would not die. He did not look
like a squeezed orange; and the physician had left judicious
directions. In the midst of his pain, Lord Ewyas kept in mind his
desire to have me one of his private lieutenants — one of his
. He made a tolerably well-turned speech about the Rubicon and his
threshold, and thought I should come here on a gaudy-day, a month hence
— but I will not. They shall not say I have ever been their companion,
any of them; they can't help being obliged to me, but I can help their
saying I was intimate in their houses.
"Elinor's letter — dear, well-written, well-folded letter — so
carefully directed, because she loves me best of all things, and keeps
up all her superiority in my eyes now, as much, or more, than when she
wrote me her first dear letter. Little Janet has nothing but measles; I want Elinor most. I will fall ill to get Elinor. Suppose I should
catch this cholera, in the midst of which I live, and die before she
could get back, how she would regret being away for that childish
complaint. Thinking of dying, we always fancy we should live among the
regrets for our death; should enjoy all the vain regrets; should be the
object, enjoying being the object of their sympathy for our
insensibility. We see the pomp of the dead; and when we are to play the
first character in a funeral, feel as if we should be there as well as
our body. Elinor tells me nothing about the pills or draughts they give
poor Janet — how right she is. If Elinor had been like other mothers,
bidding her child after dinner drink port wine to do it good, or
telling the man-father about its stomach, I must have hated it.
Children give me an unpleasant feeling na- turally; they are slimy;
the water is apt to run out of their months; their noses are out of
order; one fancies the nurses pawing them all over to wash them.
Without such a mother, and such conduct, Janet would have disgusted me,
though she is a picture of beauty. In a frame there is nothing I should
admire so much. She is far more lovely than her darling mother, and
will be a beautiful woman. Then it will be her turn to be loved, to be
adored by some young fellow now growing up behind some wall or mountain
out of sight; or, indeed, no farther off than the park-gate perhaps;
for that lad is in calf-love now; but that shall never, never be.
"This is four in the morning, and I am just come in, yet I can't go
to bed — why should I, when that lace border is not there, that
forehead fleshy-white under the muslin whiteness; that frail, pliant
hand, which seems to squeeze altogether in mine. When I had written my
Journal, I had nothing to do, for there was no Elinor. I got a fresh
horse, and set out galloping quite away from home. I rode on till every
cottage light was out. During that time I watched how the lower room
ceased to hold the candle, and how it climbed to the upper chamber. I
heard, when I stopped my horse near one of those on the moor, a man's
voice in the bedroom, which was but a little way above my head,
repeating, during two minutes, a prayer. I could easily perceive the
monotonous sound of repetition, then a steadfast 'Good night,' and the
candle went out.
"The moor was in a white mist. On the little eminences I was above
the mist, and the moon made it thinner and more full of light than can
be expressed by words. Passing through the mist it was piercingly cold.
It was a kind of cruelty of nature, careless of the human being who
came out at an undue time, and in disregard of whom, nature went on
doing as she was in the habit of doing. I rode straight into the Meer
by mistake, for water and the misty land seemed all one; and once in, I
took a great delight in swimming my horse across; he liked it, too,
brave brute, tossing his crest, and ploughing along. I had great
difficulty in getting out, for the bank broke away under his feet, and
he grew impatient and alarmed. I was obliged to force him out at the
first place he could hold at all, and he nearly fell backwards as he
climbed the rock above the Trout's pool. You would never have seen me
again, Elinor, if he had. Once out, we galloped wildly for half an hour
up the scaurs and down the brakes, the frantic wind tearing past the
other way. At last I came to the waterfall, the devil's milk-pail; and
I put my horse's bridle round a young tree, so that he could eat the
delicate short grass, pulled off my clothes, and went in to bathe. The
water plunging heavily into the basin, and I had a strong, unceasing
contest — it to push me out, and I to swim up against it. I came out,
and dressed in the moonlight, and then ran with my horse's bridle over
my arm down Stoney-pitch, and into the common-place high-road below. It
was growing light, so I hastened home, made Rampage comfortable in his
stall, got in at the window, and have lighted a blazing fire, by which
I will now lie down and sleep for two or three hours, till it is time
to go to the cholera again.
"Evening. — I could not sleep though the fire was excellent, and it
came into my head that if I went to Bewdy post-office before the
mail-cart left it, I could get Elinor's letter two hours before the
time due here, so I got Fidget out of the stable, and let him take his
own pace to the town. The postmaster believed I expected some important
cholera communication from the Prime Minister, so sorted me out my
letters — looked them over to the last, and there was none from
Elinor. Now the time is a blank till next post. When I have read her
words and got her hand-writing in my pocket, common things can get
their due observance, but without it I care for nothing. And what can
be the reason she does not write? While I galloped up to the
post-office my bosom's lord sate lightly on his throne, and that always
means evil. Yet the others, the Bartletts, would have written — she
would have made them — evil, no! it's only some accursed pill
or draught to be given to the child, and the letter was forgotten; so I
did not put mine into the post for her, yet it was worth having,
Elinor; a soul's adoration like that is preciously valuable. What, forgot,
delayed to write to your husband, for thinking of a
child? I'm a child though, half; I know that thou dost love me.
Nevertheless, I turned back in a black temper, repassed my house, and
went on to Cholera Town without stopping.
"The committee asked me to dine with them; but I could not eat, nor
bear the thought of eating. If I had had a letter, food would have had
its taste, wine its aroma, but not without. I went into Lad Lane, and
did not leave a house without a visit; the atmosphere of horrible
smells gave me pleasure. It was so like poison, that it took off my
thoughts from the constant feeling of the want of a letter. I got
people together, being so cross and peremptory to-day, who would not
have come otherwise, and had drains opened, filth removed, patients
changed from bed to bed. One dying girl had got a rose in a pot, and
conjured me to give it water; her reason was half gone, half hovering
still about her. I came home late — drank a river of tea — I shall
go to bed.
"Eighteenth day. — I am a child and not a man — here axe two
letters, yesterday's and to-day's, both sent in their due time; but one
delayed by some d—d bag or postman. Now that the waiting is over, it
seems as if it would be easy to wait. Oh, absurd prosperity, who givest
lessons to those in trouble. Janet is round the comer of her complaint,
and Elinor will be at home tomorrow evening. I am ill. I passed a
miserable night. Horrid dreams — dreams that lasted when I was awake.
I suppose the night ride, and the want of sleep, &c., did not agree
with me; I'll set about getting well — go to bed and cure myself. They
will all say it's the cholera; and I choose they should, rather than
say I did too much for my strength." — End of Extract from Journal.
Mr. Ferroll went to bed accordingly, and began to care himself; but
he was too ill to go on with his Journal; and though he was, in fact,
better when his wife and Janet arrived, he could but just receive her
at the door with his fond folding arms, and was obliged to go to bed
again immediately. She was frightened, and watched him with alarmed
anxiety; she saw it set before her, that her treasure was mortal, and
every other feeling was absorbed in that one. He, on the contrary, was
happy, was at rest, now that she was again in his presence; he was like
a man after a hard day's toil reposing, and enjoying home; that man
would as soon go out again into the cold and the heavy roads, as
Ferroll let his wife go out of hearing and out of sight. It was her
purpose and sole inclination to sit by him, to hold his hand, to pass
the night at his bedside, and it did not enter his head to send her to
rest, except such rest, as by every luxury attainable within his own
room, she could enjoy. He had pillows and velvet coverings arranged for
her easy chair; he had fruits of the very best prepared for her
refreshment; he had her long hair twisted and cared for in his
presence, and then he took her hand and fell asleep, as she sate by him
to pass the watches of the night.
Little Janet meantime was hustled away to the nursery, nobody
thinking much of her repeated questions as to how her father was. She
had come home a little heroine, in all the honours of recent recovery;
and her mother's maid had talked to her about how glad papa would be to
see her safe and well. Janet was little enough in the habit of feeling
herself of importance; but this time the attention paid her in her
sickness, and her mother's journey on purpose to take care of her, had
given some innocent sense of self-importance. She arrived at home,
expecting to be carried upstairs perhaps by her father himself, and of
coming down again to the almost unexampled pleasure of passing the
evening in the drawing-room. But her hopes were entirely overthrown.
She fell at once back into her unimportance, and felt she was the
object of least consequence in all the house. Childhood takes for
granted what is set before it. Janet was quite of the general opinion
about herself; and all the unhappiness she felt was on her father's
account; but the nurse was getting her own tea; the housemaid told
Janet that there was nothing the matter, at the same time that she
whispered to the nurse words more awful to the little girl from their
mystery than anything plainly spoken could have been, and finally
Janet was tucked up in bed, and bidden to be a good girl and go to
sleep, rather before her usual time, because she had been ill, and
because the maids wanted a gossip after their separation. Janet lay
crying, and thinking her father must die; she could not get warm in
bed, and she was asleep and awake all night long. By five o'clock in
the morning she could bear it no longer; and getting softly up, put her
feet into her slippers, wrapped her cloak round her shoulders, and set
off on an expedition to the door of her father's room. Janet was very
beautiful; there was not so pretty a picture in that shire, in a frame
or out of it, as Janet in this dress, with the clouds of her fair hair
in confusion over her head, descending the stairs in cautious silence.
Mrs. Ferroll, who was watching still, heard the indistinct sound of
some one passing in the passage — she perceived that the person
whoever it was stopped beside the door, and there remained in perfect
silence. Her husband was asleep, and she would not move, for fear of
disturbing him. The little watcher staid so long, that her mother
forgot the faint impression her indistinct approach had made; she was
only recalled to it by a stifled sob, which Janet could not repress,
for the silence, and the want of a comforter, made her think all
mournful things — that her father was dead — that her mother was
silent through misery, and might die too. Mrs. Ferroll heard the sob,
and then understood that it must be Janet who was there; and very
softly rising, undid the door, with her finger on her lip, and saw the
little girl cowering outside. She got up at sight of her mother,
colouring violently. "What are you doing here, darling?" said Mrs.
Ferroll. "You'll catch cold and be ill again."
"I wanted to hear about papa," said Janet, beginning to cry in
"Hush!" said Mrs. Ferroll, hastily. "He's better, my Jeannie — he
is asleep, and will be well soon, I think. Don't be afraid of
anything. If you'll he quite quiet you shall see him;" and she led the
child into the room, and both stood at the foot of the bed, looking at
the sleeping man. What profound admiration, love, veneration, there was
in those two hearts for the man they were looking on. Kings on their
thrones never get such worship as the husband and the father from the
faithful, believing wife and daughter. The wife feeling there is
no such man in the world; the daughter believing it. The
helplessness of sleep was another charm upon them. The relaxed mouth,
the closed eyes, the disarranged hair, the helpless attitude, gave a
feeling of protection needed by him, not yielded. It was very rare, if
not unexampled, to Janet to see her father asleep, and the filial
adoration she felt blazed up higher than ever. It would have been a
happy hour if she might have sate down silent by the bed-side and
watched. But her mother, fearful of the cold for her, after her
illness, before long kissed her softly, and sent her upstairs. The
clock struck six as Janet came back to her room; and then full of the
news about her father, began telling all she had heard and seen,
undoubting about the interest she was to excite. But the nurse woke up
in wrath, and seeing her charge proceeding to dress herself, at the
same time that the clock on the table announced that there was yet time
to turn again and slumber, she gave out her opinions upon the subject
of filial anxiety. "You're a very naughty girl, Miss Ferroll, that you
are, to be trapesing about the house at this time of night. It's only
to make yourself disagreeable, you know, that you go papa-ing that way.
Can't papa sleep or wake without you waking up all the house? Pull off
your stockings, miss, and go to bed again; and you shall have no butter
for breakfast, that you shan't."
Lady Lucy Bartlett returned after the cholera subsided; but not till
the cold weather had begun, for the first frost she remarked was a
great thing. She was very much disposed to be jolly, and to celebrate
the general emancipation from fear, by feasting and merry-making. But
though the simplest woman in the world, she was afraid that her
character, as a disconsolate widow, would suffer by the renewal of
gaiety in her house, and was wandering among common placeisms to find
reasons to be merry. "It's a great sacrifice to me" she said,
"to give up the seclusion I've lived in since my misfortune; but the
young people are growing up, and young people will be young people, Mr.
"And you like to see them enjoy themselves," said he.
"Certainly, in a quiet way; there's nothing surprising in that."
"Nor in a noisy way either. Don't you think," said he, "poor Mr.
Bartlett would have done the same if he had had the misfortune to
"That's what I often say to myself. I am sure my dear Christopher
would have exerted himself for the young people's sake."
"And have liked it himself too, Lady Lucy. You ought to like their
amusements you know; Mr. Bartlett would have liked them."
"That's true, too, and so I sometimes think. If he had been alive,
I say to myself, he would have conquered his own feelings for the sake
of the children."
"Besides one is not to murmur, you know, at what happens to one."
"Oh dear no; I'm sure I'm the last person to say one should, and
indeed people might think I was repining if they saw me always in
solitude, without company; besides we are much better able to afford
seeing company than we were at first after my misfortune."
"So you'll have a little society this Christmas?" "Why — don't you
"I do, by all means."
"Nothing noisy you know; just a few neighbours."
"Or a ball; what do you think of giving a ball?"
"Well," said Lady Lucy.
"How your son would enjoy that, and so would Arabella and Mary;
Janet tells me they have learned to dance this summer."
"Why, I thought they must learn sometime, though the sound of the
violin in the house was very trying."
"And the Herberts' sons will be at home from college," said Mr.
Ferroll. "Indeed everybody, when Christmas is come ...... and the
saloon will do for the ball room and the Hall for supper."
"Oh no; the dining room for supper, and we can dine in the school
room that day; and the Hall will be best for dancing, for it can hold a
"That will be best," said Mr. Ferroll; "let us call Elinor, and you
two can make out a list of guests."
From that time the ball was a fixed thing. The young Bartletts
seized on the idea with ecstasy, and the mother was as happy as they in
their pleasure and her own. She even thought it a duty she owed her
children to leave off black, and order a lavender satin gown with a
most delicate black fern-leaf upon it. She went alone into her
dressing room one morning when the children's lessons were going on,
and her maid was at dinner, and took out and looked over her diamonds
which wanted a little cleaning, so she packed them up and sent them to
London, with orders to have them back before the 17th of January.
When the day came she walked over to the Tower in the morning for a
few words of consultation, and then, for the first time, plainly
understood (for she had feared but would not clear up her doubts) that
Mr. Ferroll himself did not mean to come to the dance. All the
arguments she used were confuted; her next weapon was the assurance
that her enjoyment would be spoiled if he did not come, and tears
started to her eyes as she asked whether he would not do so much as
that even, for a lonely widow like her. He told her that her enjoyment
would be in seeing her children so happy; and that he had more right to
ask whether she, with her neighbours and family all about her, would
not do so much as leave the enjoyment of his own pursuits to a good
neighbour like him. She was forced to smile; she saw, indeed, before
her, the gay scene of the evening, and felt she had not told the truth
in saying her enjoyment would be spoiled by his absence, but had said
it would, had even thought it would, as a means to make him
come. "Well, at least, I'm sure of Mrs. Ferroll and Janet," she said,
rising to go away.
"Oh, there's no doubt of us," said Mrs. Ferroll, and good Dame
Mrs. Ferroll was so much in the habit of thinking her husband would
refuse all county invitations as a matter of course, that it did not
occur to her that he might ever accept one; but while she was
dressing, while she sat silent during the arrangement of her hair, her
book dropped on her knee, and she began to consider whether on an extra
occasion like this, it would not have been natural for him to break
through his custom. "He loves everything loveable," she said, "loves
pretty faces, pretty clothes, graceful music; — beauty and grace are
better perceived by, are more perceptible to him than to most people,
and he feels their merit more. The sound of the merry Bartletts'
voices, and their large full hall would give him food for his appetite
for pleasant impressions. Why does he so resolutely refuse ever to go
These meditations were broken off by the placing of the flowers in
her hair, which demanded her own attention as well as that of her maid.
Then came putting on the new gown, a gown most beautifully made by
Mrs. Johnstone in Dover Street, and fresh from its deal box, and
overlappings of silver paper. She was pleased with her own appearance,
and went in search of Mr. Ferroll to show herself to him. He was in the
library, and Janet was there too, well dressed in great simplicity, and
standing by a table admiring some flowers, while her father sat reading
near the fire. "Come and let me look at you, Elinor," he said, as his
wife entered the room. "You are beautiful, you are embellished; you are
all moonlight, and the breath of violets. How can there be such
beautiful things made as women, as women like you. So that's the way
you wear your lace frills. It's very pretty; it's new, yet looks like
something everybody ought always to have done."
"And mamma," said Janet, drawing up to her, and pointing to the
table, "there is your beautiful nosegay papa has made for you."
"Bring it, Jeannie."
And Jeannie brought it with the most scrupulous care, admiring with
sincere eyes, and saying, "Papa cut it himself; he asked me for some
silk to tie it up; papa tied it for you himself."
Mr. Ferroll looked at her as she stood by her mother's side, who was
engaged in admiring what her husband had done, as was Janet also, and
watching how her mother disposed of it. Mr. Ferroll took the scissors
again from the table, went back into the green-house, and returned with
a spray of euphorbia with its green leaves, which he held out to Janet.
"A flower for you too, Janet," he said.
Janet looked as if she did not believe in her good fortune for an
instant, then the brightest colour came into her face, and "Oh, thank
you, papa," was said in the voice of childish delight, which receives
something better than the child ever knew before.
"It's a beautiful flower, Jeannie," answered her mother, to her
child's delighted eyes. "I'll fasten it for you with this little gold
pin, it just suits your white frock; and mine I'll hold in my hand.
What are you reading, Paul?"
"Oh, a stupid book, I think, my dearest." She looked at it, and saw
it was a book which he usually appreciated as highly as it deserved;
it was plain he wanted the power to enjoy reading.
"Come with us, my dear Paul," she said, putting her hand on his arm.
"Don't ask me, for fear I should," he said, speaking before her own
words were finished.
The tone of his voice struck her to the heart; the warm exulting
blood was suddenly chilled, and she repeated in quite an altered voice,
"Why don't you come with us, my dearest Paul?"
"Shall I tell you?" he said, chasing away the seriousness of his
face with a bright smile, but she could not forget the tone which had
struck her, slight as it was, nor let him change the subject thus.
"Yes, tell me, let it be what it may, can there be a thought hidden
between you and me?"
"What! would you stay from this ball and listen to me, supposing I
would tell you?"
"Aye, all night," she said, beginning to slip off her gloves as she
"Nay, it won't take so long," said Mr. Ferroll, laying his hand on
her arm; "a word that will never be forgotten is soon said."
"Ah, for heaven's sake, tell me," she cried.
"Well then, Elinor, the reason why I don't go, is — listen, my
dearest — because I don't like it."
"Oh, Paul — oh, husband, you laugh at me."
"No I don't, I could laugh at my saint much sooner; with you I will
laugh — cry till you come back, and then laugh at all you have to tell
me. Good bye, good night, Janet. I must work hard at my article, so
farewell, my two."
Mrs. Ferroll was contented with the playful explanation she had
received, and Janet adored her father for coupling her with mother in
The Bartletts' hall looked admirably well in its gay dress, and all
the family seemed so happy and pleased with what they had done, that
it warmed their guests' hearts to see them. The eldest girl had got a
new gown, made by a milliner, the first she had ever had of such an
origin; the sign she was come out, too; her pleasure in it was intense;
the admiration of her younger sisters unconcealed. "Janet," they said,
"does not Emma's gown look beautiful? your mamma thought it too full,
but it is not, do you think; is it?"
"And, Janet, is not the hall bright?" said the youngest. "Before any
company came, I tried to thread my littlest needle quite at the end of
the hall; and I could do it quite easily, as easily as daylight."
"Janet, you've got a very pretty flower," said another, "and Hugh
has got a beauty for you."
It was quite true, but Hugh knew he could not dance yet with Janet,
and he had put his flower in water, to have it ready for the time when
he might so far indulge himself. Janet was the object of his boyish
heart; though ever since Mr. Ferroll had so early forbidden the match,
it had become rather a delicate point in the family, and had settled
into a decision that Hugh loved Janet as much as if she had been one of
his sisters. But young Bartlett at school soon began to judge for
himself, and in his own mind it was quite clear that he should never
marry anybody else. Janet had heard the matter talked about in the
nursery, and how angry Mr. Ferroll had been, and had grown up in the
faith that it would be both wrong and ridiculous to think about Hugh as
her little husband; and this faith had gone on unquestioned as she
became older, along with other childish principles, and as far as the
subject ever occurred at all, acquired force with her years. Besides
this, she was in a relative position to him, which diminished the
influence of his greater age, and his situation upon Janet's mind, and
increased her influence over him. Janet lived in an atmosphere of
clever people, and subjects were familiar to her, which were kept for
the sad school-room hours of most children. Feeling that she knew
almost nothing at home, she came to know a great deal more than her
contemporaries; and at the Hall it was a marvel to Hugh how Janet knew
everything and his sisters nothing. She also got the quiet and good
manner of a child living alone with highly-accomplished people; even
her romps were better bred than the romps of the Bartletts. The
outbreaks which were under least control, had the "sweet one of
gracefulness," while the control over them came from the maids and a
Hugh Bartlett therefore felt she was more of a woman than her years
warranted; he was on the watch to please her; he must know and do
something better than shoot sparrows to get Janet for his companion,
so that at sixteen, and she twelve, he was really and seriously in love
with her. "Janet," he came to her, and said, "promise to dance with me
the fourth quadrille. I have done Lady Anne, and have got Bessey Price,
and Joan Blunt, and Lady Peners to do, and then will you, Janet?" She
"Why, you've got a flower, Jeannie," he said; "who gave it you ?
don't you know my white camellia that I have been taking care of for
"Have you really, Hugh?"
"Why, you know that as well as I do; why do you pretend you don't?"
"Oh, well; I'm very much obliged to you."
"Who gave you that red one? it does not become you."
"I'm sure it does, Hugh," said Janet, colouring violently.
"You mean you like the giver better than me"
"So I do," said Janet, a little angry.
"Oh Jeannie!" cried Hugh, and very angry himself, he walked away.
"She's such a child," Janet heard her mother saying. "There's no
need to introduce you. This is my little girl, Lord Ewyas."
He made Janet a low bow, such as she never before received; quite
surprised, she made him a low curtsey. He told her his friend Mr.
Standish would like to have the honour of dancing with her. Mrs.
Ferroll said Janet would be very glad to dance, and the pair went away.
"Is not Ferroll here?" asked Lord Ewyas.
"No, not even here," said Mrs. Ferroll. "I tried to bring him, but
it was all in vain."
"I shall try to get Mrs. Ferroll without him," said Lord Ewyas,
smiling, "since I see she can leave him, and since he will have
nothing to do with any of us."
"You are very kind. I am sincerely obliged to you; but without him
it is impossible"
"Not impossible, for you are here."
"Oh, but that is to such a near neighbour; and for two hours."
"Two hours is the limit of your liberty?"
"No, no," said Mrs. Ferroll, colouring a little; "but it would be
hard to leave him alone merely to amuse myself."
"Then it does amuse you?"
"To be sure."
"Then if I were Mr. Ferroll, I
think I would come with you,
to prevent the necessity of shortening your amusement. I think I
would. I can't say positively what I should do, if I did not like going
out myself, for man is a tyrannical and selfish animal."
"Are you?" said Mrs. Ferroll, smiling.
"Not I only. Men in general are so, though they often hide it; but
Ferroll disdains to hide anything. He says openly, I have a wife whom
everybody wishes to get into society, but she shall stay at home to
make society for me."
"Well, and she is very glad he thinks it worth while to say so."
"But I am very sorry — we all are very sorry — we want you both.
There is not so useful a man, so accomplished a man in the county, as
your husband; but he refuses our intimacy, as if we were clods of the
earth. Why does he, Mrs. Ferroll?"
"That I really can't tell you," she answered, thinking of the
explanation her husband had given just before she left home.
"But tell me then, if it is impossible,
why is it impossible,
that you, who do like us a little, should not come to see Lady
Ewyas; see the castle; it is what people come from Russia to see; and
you hardly know it."
"You are very kind; I should like it extremely, but ......"
"But why is it impossible?"
"To tell truth, I don't exactly know; I will think why it is — let
me take your arm to go and look after Janet; the quadrille will be over
in two minutes."
This was the third quadrille; and the fourth Janet was to dance with
the master of the house. He was in high spirits; a good deal excited
by being the master of the evening; by being necessary as the partner
of the greater ladies; as being appealed to by the butler when
lemonade was to be brought in, when supper should be ready, &c. But his
excitement on other subjects did but make him the more eager about the
dance with Janet. He ran for his beautiful camellia, and was not away
half a minute, and holding it in his hand, came back to Janet flushed
and triumphant. "Now, Janet, I'm ready. A quadrille, band," he said,
looking back to the orchestra — "here's your camellia — it's pretty
well, is not it?"
"Very pretty indeed," said Janet, taking it and admiring. "Thank you
"But you must wear it, Jeannie."
"Yes, if mamma can pin it along with this one," she said, making a
movement to go in quest of her mother.
"No, no, alone; you promised to wear my flower weeks ago, and you're
not fair if you don't."
"I did not promise to wear it alone. I am fair."
"But who has a better right than I to give you a flower?" said Hugh,
"But I've a right to wear what I like," said Janet, somewhat
childishly. "I do like yours, but ......"
"But you like another's better," cried Hugh. "Tell me who, Janet?"
"I love papa better," said Janet, colouring deeply.
"You won't tell me, you trifle," said Hugh, and snatching at the
euphorbia, he scattered the red blossoms and the green leaves on the
"Papa gave it me," said Janet, bursting into tears, and stooping
down to pick up the fragments.
"What, really," said Hugh, rather ashamed. Janet said nothing, but
sobbed and picked up the flowers. Her mother hearing the childish
sounds came up, and Janet's tears stopped; while Hugh also stooped and
collected the fragments. "Look, I had this one for her," he said, when
Mrs. Ferroll began to inquire; "and was it right of Janet to wear a red
one, and not tell me who ...... not tell ......"
"It's the best white camellia I've seen," said Mrs. Ferroll. "It
will take the place of the red flower very well. Here, Janet, I'll put
it on for you. I can fasten it, instead of the poor euphorbia, Hugh;"
and while she did so, she said a word or two to Janet, which her
training in obedience made perfectly effectual, both to dry her eyes,
and to send her off at once to dance the quadrille with her hasty
"Pray forgive me, Jeannie," said he, when they stood together — "I
was so vexed."
"Yes," said Janet, meekly and decorously; but sadly she went through
the duty of the dance with him. Directly after, her mother said it was
already later than Janet should be out of bed, and with many sweet
words on the success of the ball, she and her daughter left it, and
The first thing Mrs. Ferroll told her husband was Janet's adventure,
and the tears she had shed over his flower. He laughed at the
childishness of the catastrophe, and seemed to enjoy the discomfiture
of young Bartlett. The next she told him was her conversation with Lord
"You've a mind to go to Harold's Castle," said Mr. Ferroll,
"My dearest, tell me why not."
Mr. Ferroll smiled: "I told you last night my reason for not going
to the ball."
"You did not like it?"
"Well, my wife, that's very true; and I was so miserable once, I
suffered every day so much more than I could bear, that now I desire
only to enjoy my intense felicity — my felicity which depends on only
you — that is my selfish joy."
"Say that again, Paul; those are words that I remember hearing for
the first time, and they are always a renewal of the good times."
He said the same honied words in varied phrase; then added, "Did not
Lord Ewyas say I was selfish?"
"He said all men were selfish."
"That's true; but taking one thing with another, do not I, the
selfish animal, who think of what pleases myself, who contrive how to
have you always at home, though I go out busy with the business of the
world — don't I make you happy? Think what you have changed for —
think of those sad, sad days ......"
"Oh, Paul, I don't want to think of them, when I thought I should
never be here — never, never could be. And now, I am here
The dialogue broke off, and Mrs. Ferroll ceased to want to go to
Hugh Bartlett, notwithstanding the lateness of his ball, was up and
about time enough to be at the Tower by Janet's mid-day walk. He knew
that for once her governess was absent; for the governess at the Hall
had secured the governess from the Tower, to assist in her share of
preparation for the ball. The governesses had had their full share of
dancing, and were still asleep in the same bed when Hugh came away.
Janet was walking for exercise in the flowergarden, as she was bid to
do; and she had a volume of Tasso in her hands, out of which she was
learning her daily task.
"How d'ye do, Janet?"
"How d'ye do, Hugh?"
"Did you like the ball; did you think it did well?"
"Oh, very pretty, indeed. I'm sure it was a very nice ball."
you like it? I don't care who else thought it nice."
"To be sure; I liked it very much."
"But really did you like it?"
"And you are not angry with me, Jeannie?"
"Oh dear no."
"I did not know it was Mr. Ferroll's flower. I thought somebody else
had given you one, and I could not bear that."
"Why?" asked Janet.
"If you don't know, I'll tell you, my dear, dear Jeannie," said
Hugh. "Some people might say I was too young to talk of such things,
but they don't know me; they don't know what I have felt. I want you to
be my wife, to say you will be my wife."
"Hugh, don't you remember papa said we were not to talk that
"What, years and years ago — child as you were then."
"So I am now; I am not twelve."
"But you have the sense, and the cleverness, and the beauty of girls
twice your age; you know everything."
"I wish I did, then I should know my lesson," said Janet.
"Lesson, indeed; how they make you work; no, no, you shall teach me,
Janet, all I don't know at present, and if I know anything about the
ways people go on in the world, I will teach you, for I am older, and
have seen and felt a great deal."
"You have not left school, Hugh?"
"Yes, yes, I have; I shan't go back to old Meagrim, I've made up my
mind. I want nothing but to live on my own estate, and do good, and
have you for my wife; perhaps not just yet; perhaps not for another
year and a-half; but if you do but say it shall be, Jeannie, I will be
more faithful to you than Jacob to Rachel, who had to wait, you know,
ever so long."
"Indeed, Hugh, papa will be very angry with me," said Janet, looking
"And why angry? I'm not as clever as he, certainly; Lord Ewyas says
few are; but I've got things to give you which may make you as happy
as if I were. My house, my money, my place in the world; Lord Ewyas
says with all those, and so on ...... but all I want is, to give
everything to you, Jeannie; dear Jeannie, promise to love me?"
"I hear papa, I'm sure," cried Janet, snatching away her hand.
"Pray, pray don't tell him what you've been saying." She stooped to
pick up her book, and repeated in the lowest voice, "Don't tell him;"
and Hugh was flattered, he hardly knew why, at there being a secret
between him and Janet.
It was, in truth, Mr. Ferroll; he asked his daughter if her mother
had passed that way; he was looking for her. Janet had not seen her.
"Hugh," he said, "I hear your ball was excellent. Go on, and prosper.
What it is to be growing towards a young man!" And he went on to look
for Mrs. Ferroll, and was soon out of sight.
"Your father can't forget that he knew me when I was a little boy,"
said young Bartlett. "But he will be surprised one day when I go and
ask him for his leave to marry you."
"No, no, pray don't say those things. You promised, you know, that
you would not."
"Well, and I never will, till you let me, I give you my sacred word
"Then I am sure I never shall, for they would only scold me. And
pray do let me learn my Tasso, for Signora Parodi will be back before
I know it, and she will be very angry."
Mr. Ferroll had laughed at Janet's adventure with the flower he gave
her, and had taken no thought about interrupting her
Hugh; but, at the same time, he intended thoroughly that there should
be no future love-making between them, and was ready to take advantage
of any opportunities which might occur to impede it. "What have you
been doing at the Hall, Janet?" he would say, after a visit she had
"We played at post-office, papa."
"We played one game of blind man's buff."
"One game, and then you ......?"
"I don't think we did anything then, except battledore."
"Do you like all that very much?"
Poor Janet did like it very much indeed; it did her good to be so
merry, but she felt it not right to say so; she could only look down,
and feel that the Hall was not a place of refined occupation.
"And did Signora Parodi make any new engagement for you there?"
"She said I might ride with Anna and Jane on Saturday to Troughley
"Why on Saturday?"
"Because it is a holiday, papa."
"Oh, a day of real pleasure — a do-nothing day?"
Now it happened that Hugh was going that week to Harold's Castle;
for Lord Ewyas was a good-natured man, and glad to be of any use to his
young kinsman; and, therefore, as he was now growing up, frequently
invited him to his house, and made him known in the county. But when
Hugh heard of this riding arrangement, he resolved, far off as it was,
to return home for the sole purpose of joining it, though it would cost
him a gallop back again to the Castle to be in time for dinner. This he
made known to Janet, who said she thought it was a very good plan, only
would not he be tired with so much riding?
"Not I; I'm never tired if I have got anything agreeable to do."
"And I think this will be very agreeable," said Janet.
"I'm sure of it," said Sir Hugh; "so you will faithfully promise to
be ready at twelve o'clock on Saturday?"
"Oh, yes; they have let me ride that day."
It was a little event for Janet to expect, and she was very anxious,
but quite in secret, about the weather. There was no necessity,
however, for the day was a pattern spring day, sunny and mild, and full
of birds, and bees, and fresh vegetation. Janet was working in her own
garden, when her father and mother passed by. They stopped to see her
progress; they had come out of the way on purpose.
"You never once have ridden with us, Jeannie," said Mr. Ferroll.
"To-day you shall come if you like; but I remember you have an
engagement with the young Bartletts; do you prefer their refined
"Oh, papa, I
should like very much to ride with you," said
Janet, to whom it was a totally new and unhoped-for pleasure.
"Well, you may put on your riding-dress then, for I have ordered our
horses;" and without any more words they left her, Elinor to prepare
also for riding, and Mr. Ferroll to write a letter. Janet, left alone,
began to be uneasy. True, this was far the more unexampled, unhoped-for
pleasure, and honour, too; but had she been old enough to be quite
honest with herself, she would have acknowledged that she was very
sorry to break her engagement. In great embarrassment she put on her
habit, and her governess found her standing and looking out of the
window, with tears in her eyes, which she could not conceal. "Ma, che
c'è?" said the Signora Parodi; and Janet, in her best Italian, related
that she was afraid Hugh would be very angry when he found she was not
at home for him.
"What does it matter?" said the governess, who was in great dread of
being supposed to encourage the intimacy of her pupil and Hugh. "Of
course you prefer your papa's and mamma's society?"
"Oh, yes, I do," said Janet. "You know how often I have wished they
would take me with them; only Hugh has been so very kind, coming back
all the way to ride with us."
"Of course it was to ride with his sisters that he came back."
"Oh yes of course; only they were to call for me."
"Well, well, I'll tell them Mr. Ferroll took you out."
"Oh, thank you; will you be so kind, dearest little governess? And
it's a very delicious day, do you know; suppose you would be so most
good as to go to the Hall?"
"Oh, no, no; I'm busy; I've got the new music, and I only came to
see that you put your collar right; but I'll go down to the door when
they come, and tell them."
"You'll be sure to see them if you will look out of the window."
"There is no doubt of that; oh, I shall see or hear them in some
"But you don't think you shall miss them?"
"No, no; but run quickly. I hear the horses' feet, There!"
Such inroads on their good-fellowship as this were not very
unfrequent; and they contributed to make Hugh feel himself of no
consequence or importance in the eyes of Mr. Ferroll, and that Janet
was entirely free from his influence. His passion, however, continued
unabated; but he felt that it must conquer great difficulties thrown
in his way if it ever succeeded; and that it would be contrary to all
Mr. Ferroll's intentions and wishes if Janet became his wife.
It was some little time after this, that one fine spring morning
Mr. Ferroll went in search of his wife, whom he found occupied in a
flower-garden at a little distance from the house. He put her arm in
his, and drew her away from the workmen, walking in silence for a
little while, and enjoying the deliciousness of the weather, which
shone and sounded round them.
"What's your letter, Paul?" asked Mrs. Ferroll, at last, looking at
the open letter which he held in his hand.
"That's what I am going to tell you", he said, holding it up at the
same time — "look."
"It's from Harold's Castle," said Mrs. Ferroll.
"And, moreover, I mean to go there."
"Yes, and leave you at home."
"With all my heart."
"False, faithless woman; naughty, cruel Elinor; with all your heart
"Excellent!" she said, laughing, "when it was
proposed to leave me."
"Oh, but I only think of myself; you must think of only me. I know
you are very sorry that I am going away."
"I know I am."
"This is why I am going, dearest. You know there are the assizes
going on at Bewdy."
"No, indeed, I don't."
"Oh, then, I forgot to tell you, because I did not mean to go; I'm
so busy with this pamphlet for April; but it seems Lord Ewyas has
heard there are to be disturbances about the prisoners who burned his
works at Oak Park. And he has taken fright in a digni- fied sort of a
way and wants to muster the forces of his own party to go with the
sheriff and meet the judges."
"He thinks there is danger," said Elinor, "and therefore takes care
of himself at your expense."
"Those are not the words he uses, I assure you," said Mr. Ferroll,
holding out the letter and smiling.
"No, no; but it's the truth — there's danger, certainly, if you are
"How do I make it dangerous?" said Mr. Ferroll.
"They want you because there's danger there, and if you ...... if
"If I get knocked on the head — yes?"
"Oh, no, no, no."
"Then I should die before you — die in prosperity. But what horrid
nonsense to talk of dying; what are you seducing me to do? I am going
to ride into Bewdy with half a dozen other men, and ride out again when
the business is over. Nothing more heroic, darling; but, I may be kept
over to-day because there will be such a dogged downfall of talk; so I
came to tell you just how matters stand."
"Well, I'll come to the house with you and see you off; I thought
you were to have ridden with me to-day."
Mr. Ferroll trotted away to Harold's Castle; it had once stood alone
in its forests, with the small village of Y— sheltering at its feet,
and in that state the ancestors of Lord Ewyas had inhabited it, poor
and warlike proprietors who had taken great pleasure in appropriating
the loose property of their neighbours. But minerals of enormous value
had been found in later times beneath the soil of their acres; Y— had
become an overgrown manufacturing town, and the possessors of Harold's
Castle great iron masters, whose descendants had stepped upon their
wealth into the peerage. They were become again, therefore, a separate
race from Y—, with their own privileges to guard and be envied. At
this moment there was great excitement among the working orders of the
town in consequence of the distress of trade.
It was the rather antiquated custom of the capital town of this
county to hold what is called the sheriff's breakfast, before setting
out to escort the judge into the town. According to the standing of the
sheriff in the county was generally the attendance of gentlemen upon
this occasion; they flocked together by scores to pay their mark of
respect to one of their established aristocracy; but at the shrievalty
of a new man there generally appeared only the city member, garnished
with two or three dawning fortunes. The sheriff on the present occasion
was one of the newly rich, whom the iron of the soil had created; he
had anxiously sought the post of sheriff, which men, whose gold burned
and abounded less in their purses as anxiously avoid; but he knew that
the sheriff is, for the time being, the first commoner in his county,
and walked to dinner before Mr. Shirley and Mr. Beaumont. Nevertheless,
he had sad misgivings about the success of his breakfast, feeling
though not confessing to himself that there is sheriff and sheriff, and
that his would be an empty show compared to Sir Amyas Rufford's last
year. But the circumstance under which the present breakfast was held,
collected an abundant company; and the delighted sheriff stood at the
top of the great room at the Harold's Spear, and saw, one after
another, all the dignities of the county come to eat his cold beef, and
swell the train about to follow him.
"There's more," cried he, every minute, losing his self-command in
his transport; "another — two more — more chairs coming in. Shall you
have breakfast enough, waiter, for all my friends?"
"Never fear, sir — never fear," said the waiter.
"I hear Judge — expressed some alarm, Mr. Sheriff, at having to
enter this disturbed town," said Lord Ewyas, "but with the escort you
have provided for him I can't imagine he has much to fear."
"Thanks to your lordship, and all my friends," said Mr. Smith.
"A very full breakfast, indeed," said Lord Ewyas.
"And more coming in," said the sheriff.
"But I hear the crowd near the gaol is tremendous," said Lord Ewyas.
"Is the police prepared to keep them in order?"
"Oh, I understand so," said Mr. Smith; "a hundred special constables
(look at that fresh bench) sworn in to keep the peace."
"And should there be anything serious," said Lord Ewyas, "the troop
from Stillvale would be here in half an hour."
"Or less, my lord," said Mr. Smith.
"And if that force is rightly used," continued Lord Ewyas, "it is
enough, small as it is, to keep all right."
"If?" asked Mr. Ferroll.
"Why, yes, there is an
if," said Lord Ewyas, in a low voice,
"for the major is an obstinate man with an idea in his hand, and that
is that the people must be reasoned with. If, with his small force, he
undertakes to teach reason, he will be apt to get a lesson in brute
"However, we have all wit enough to play at that game," said Mr.
"Yes, I have had proof that it is well to be near you when either
the wit or the arm is to be used," said Lord Ewyas. "Did you ever hear
what became of that unfortunate fellow of my cousin Bartlett's?"
"We sent him to the lunatic asylum," said Mr. Ferroll. "I saw him
there last time I visited it; he looked at me till he remembered my
face, and then he shrank together like a tiger before Van Amburgh."
Desultory discourse followed, and amid the clang of voices, the
public breakfast came to an end, and carriages and horses began to be
called for to compose the procession which it was now time should go
forward and meet the judge. The sheriff had his javelin men in very
smart clothes, and a single trumpet blown with more good will than
science was sounding, to call the javelins together. And though they
prevented the necessity of its science by congregating so closely upon
it that the trumpeter was hustled by them at every step, yet he still
marched desperately forward summoning the men who already were an
impediment in his way; and indeed he seemed to think trumpeting was the
great object for which all this crowd was got together.
"Stop trumpet — stop trumpet," cried a dozen voices; "the sheriff
is in; you will be left behind," and this adjuration had a pacifying
effect, for the trumpet stopped and stared about him, and seeing his
troop already beyond him, shook a little rivulet out of his weapon,
and ran to get the place that belongs to those who blow upon wind
The sheriff was followed by his chaplain in full dress into his
carriage, and his four new horses and two new postilions drove off.
Lord Ewyas, Sir Amyas, Mr. Dixon, had carriages also; numbers followed
on horseback, of which Mr. Ferroll was one. The crowd was great, but in
this part friendly. As he got on horseback, a man from the crowd came
up to him, and placing himself in his way said, "Mr. Ferroll, sir, I
want to speak to you. I am James Skenfrith."
"You had the cholera at the cottage on Olly Common," said Mr.
Ferroll, who seldom forgot any one. "I know your name but not your
face, it's altered since those days."
"It was you, sir, helped the little one to the potatoe."
"I remember it," said Mr. Ferroll, smiling; "and what became of the
"He did not die, sir, nor I; but the property is entirely gone. I
should have done very well only the mortgagee came in and seized
"But I suppose you owed him everything," said Mr. Ferroll.
"It is a shame to turn a man out of his own; and I paid for all the
writings for that there place," said James.
"I see nothing to be done except to give you half-a-crown," said Mr.
Ferroll, taking one from his waistcoat pocket.
James accepted it with applause. "But that's not what I came to say,
Mr. Ferroll; you've been a good friend to me, and I advise you by way
of a returning of good, not to go along with those lords and their
"And why not?"
"We don't mean to let those men that you know of, be touched by
those other men that you know of in their black robes and black
"You have come to that resolution I suppose since the loss of your
"It is enough to aggravate a man," said James.
"Well, and Lord Ewyas is aggravated at the destruction of his mills;
and so am I, and so are we all."
"The men wanted bread, and blood shall be shed before they are
touched; but not yours, if you please, Mr. Ferroll."
"Thank you, James; but I won't promise as much about yours, or if
any of you are simple enough to try violence, I'll be one of the first
to do the very same by you — so farewell. How is your prudent wife —
and how is the groom of the chambers I gave you — how's Lancelot
Gobbo; what do you call him — Caleb Balderstone?"
James looked up doubtful and scowling. "Do you mean Thomas Jackson,
"That's he, Thomas Jackson, the boy — I hope he's well."
"May be," said James, rather grumpily, and Mr. Ferroll rode on.
The procession had to go about two miles out of the town, and at
that place the sheriff received the judges into his carriage, and
turning about, his tail wheeled with him, and he set off like a comet
behind, and a soda water bottle fresh opened before, to return into
Bewdy. The conversation inside the carriage was of the most sober
description — the judges very anxiously asked about the disposition of
the crowd, and with less sincerity inquired into the health of Mrs.
Smith, and the numbers of the young Smiths. The sheriff exultingly
pointed out the dignity of his attendants; with great regret reported
Mrs. Smith an invalid, and confessed with a blush that there were no
little Smiths. The chaplain gave an account of the fiercelooking
crowds which he had traversed to get to the inn, and the judge's
attention seemed to wander from Mrs. Smith's lamented indisposition,
and to fix itself upon the numbers of constables, and the question of
their efficiency. But outside there were many gambols played by
injudicious horses, obeying their riders' incitements to show their
spirit, which ended by laying their riders low in the ditches. Little
boys triumphed at the spectacle, and there was much laughter, shouting,
and confusion of tongues.
As they approached the town, however, these sounds were mingled with
occasional groans, and tones of disapprobation, and the progress of the
procession became impeded by the crowds which gathered on its passage.
It was with difficulty that the police kept a way clear for the
carriages to pass along, and when they got into the town, the
difficulties increased at every street. The judges' lodgings were on
one side of an irregular space, which was occupied on the other sides
by shops and dwellings, and into which several wide streets opened. The
square was full of the mob, and as the sheriff's carriage and that of
Lord Ewyas entered the square, a sudden and evidently concerted rush
was made down the street, the entrance of which these carriage had just
passed to get into the square, and they were effectually cut off from
the train following them. Neither could they advance, for the crowd
before barred their further progress, and there they were shut up in
the mob. In less than half a minute, all the horses of these carriages
were detached from them, and led without injury out of the place, the
postilions following aghast, and instinctively conscious that their
business was to go where their horses went. "Let us charge them," said
Mr. Ferroll, after he and the rest had looked on for a minute at the
vain efforts of the police to restore a passage; "let us get up to the
carriages. I don't know what those unwashed are intending to do."
A dozen gentlemen agreed to his proposal — and putting their horses
on their mettle, rushed against the crowd. But the charge of cavalry
against infantry so serried and determined, could produce but little
effect; the horsemen had nothing but their riding whips to strike with,
and the strong men planting their feet firmly, seized the horses'
bridles, and bore them back, and made them rear in the air. The
gentleman who rode next to Mr. Ferroll was mounted on a pretty showy
Arab, not much more than a pony, had it not been for its exact and fine
proportions — a brawny fellow seized on its bit with both hands, and
the horse, through pain and fear, darted upright on its hind legs, and
losing its balance, fell over, its rider scarce slipping on one side as
it came down to the ground, and falling himself, under the feet of men
and horses. Mr. Ferroll sprang from his own horse, and by main force
dragged his companion to his legs, and set him again in fighting order.
"We'll get through yet," said he; and most of those who had been
attempting a passage, abandoning their horses to any groom who might
yet be behind, formed a mass, together with Mr. Ferroll and his
companions, and wedging themselves into the mob, rushed through them,
without offering any other violence, and forced their way up to the two
carriages which were held in impotence among the crowd.
Lord Ewyas, and the friend who was in the carriage with him, jumped
out and joined them. The appearance of the former were greeted with a
loud yell from the populace, who pressed more and more upon the party
of gentlemen. "I don't know what they would be at," said Lord Ewyas.
"What are they waiting for?"
"Any impulse, I think," said Mr. Ferroll. "But the police are making
what play they can outside the circle, and trying to force us a
"And can't we get through?"
"Most of us could, but not old Delabre, scarcely Smith, I think,"
said Mr. Ferroll, pointing to the sheriff's carriage.
"My lord," said old Delabre, putting his head out, "what
A stone, a very small one, a mere fragment, was dexterously aimed at
his head, from some little distance, and hit him sharply on the wig.
Wig and head hastily retreated, and a great laugh ensued from the
"It's rather a savage laugh, though," said Sir Amyas. "What
to be done?"
"I see nothing for it, except to stand by them till help comes.
Outside there they are sure to have sent for help," said Mr. Ferroll.
Saying this he got on the wheel of the carriage, and looked right and
left down each street, to see what was doing. "Ferroll for ever!" said
a voice in the crowd; and he saw his friend James with a red ribbon in
his hat, waving his hand towards him. "Don't touch Ferroll, boys."
"If you touch one, you touch all," said Mr. Ferroll. "What is it you
"There are men in those four walls that
shall go free," said
"What do Englishmen want from Englishmen but a fair trial — trial
by jury," said Mr. Ferroll.
"Fair trial were promised to the men at X—, yet they were hanged."
"The men at — were acquitted."
"We are not going to trust to that."
"You must. You can't force the law to do one thing or another. The
law is not here — only the lawyers. The law is in London, in the
North, in the South, everywhere. Though you should get rid of a lawyer,
the law will do just as it would have done before, and take account for
him into the bargain."
"We don't want to hurt them, if they will promise a few things. Lord
Ewyas is to give up prosecuting those men in those four walls, and the
judge is not to condemn them."
"Nonsense," cried Mr. Ferroll. "What business have you to talk for
all these Englishmen, who know better than you what is good for the
county? What are you come here for, gentlemen, I ask you all? for the
purposes of justice; for the sake ......"
What influence his words must have had on the crowd can never be
known, for at that moment the sound of broken glass was heard from one
side of the square, followed by a hurra from the spot where the sound
came. Mr. Ferroll from his height had seen that one of the shopkeepers
had been trying to steal up his shutters in presence of the mob; and
in sudden anger at his precaution, those near him had in a moment
smashed in his windows. The sound acted like contagion on the
multitude; it was like the rush of galloping heard by a horse; all that
were near houses seemed by the clatter that ensued to do as the first
breaker had done. Shouts and huzzas followed, and all the multitude
swayed to and fro with the impulse which ran through it.
"They'll murder us before they know what they're about," said Judge
Delabre, again putting out his head. The old joke was repeated, but
this time the stones were more and larger, and there was no laughing.
"You must get out of the carriage, my lord," said Mr. Ferroll, "and
you, too, Mr. Sheriff; and we'll all form round you and Lord Ewyas,
who are their objects, and rush for the judges' lodgings; the servants
are there, they will open for us if we can get near."
The gentlemen consulted a few moments, then did as he advised; their
movement was saluted with cries and groans; and as the first ranks of
the body of gentlemen pushed a little forward, great efforts were made
to separate them from each other, and to press upon and overwhelm them
from behind. At this conjuncture, some shrill women's voices were heard
crying out, "Soldiers! they're come — the soldiers!" And outside the
mob, there was heard the trampling of horses' feet; and there was an
increase of the noise of human voices, and of a human crowd. But it was
for some time in vain that the struggling party looked for the relief
they expected from this reinforcement; for some time no help appeared;
but at the end of perhaps ten painful minutes, a shout and a cry were
heard from the mob between there and the Town-hall; and on the steps of
that building, apparently having entered it from behind, the soldiers
appeared, few in number, but powerful by their weapons, and the fact of
acting as one body.
"We are saved!" cried Judge Delabre, wiping his brows, which
streamed with heat.
"Yes; now let him but shoot the leader dead," said Mr. Ferroll, "and
"If he attempt his fool's reasoning with them," cried Lord Ewyas,
"we're lost. What's he doing? Ass! Quitting his men, walking down the
"Aye, aye, indeed; voies de douceur," said Mr. Ferroll.
And so it seemed; the major came down among the people, calling them
my good fellows, offering them his snuff-box, saying he was sure they
wished for nothing but justice. The party of gentlemen could not hear
what he said, but saw his acts; and though they had pressed a little
forward when the people were first occupied by the arrival of the
soldiers, and were so much nearer their bourne, yet they felt the
multitude bearing harder and harder upon them, and violent language
began to be used as the mob saw the prospect of their prey escaping
"When we are all murdered, he'll fire at them," said one of the
"Push on, lads," cried James, who was leading on the mob close about
the party. "The soldiers is come to prevent justice. Time's grown
short, and we must make the most of it."
"Keep back!" said Mr. Ferroll, "you'd best," firmly planting himself
against the burly antagonist, and again there were a few feet gained
"They must not go to do mischief," said James to his followers;
"we've let 'em get too far already."
At this moment, the merciful major, finding his conciliation
neglected, and himself in a precarious position, gave an order. There
rattled a sharp volley over the Market-place of Bewdy, but it went
high above the heads of the mob, and after an instant's stare, they
felt themselves safe, and safer than ever. "That's unmerciful mercy,"
cried Mr. Ferroll. "Mistaken mercy — press forward, my lord, they're
maddened!" He put his hand into the bosom of his coat as he spoke. The
mob yelled; James Skenfrith, with imprecations, waved his hand,
clenching a bludgeon, and pressing with all his might to get before Mr.
Ferroll; that was his last effort. Mr. Ferroll drew a pistol from his
breast, cocked it, and shot him dead. One man dead, and one man with
fire-arms, staggered all that were near; another pistol was ready —
they saw it; there were some seconds of wavering, and availing
themselves of the occasion, the party of gentlemen, carrying and
dragging the less active old man whom they had to protect, rushed to
the house they were making for, and the door instantly admitting them,
they were safe.
"They were terribly ill-advised," said Mr. Ferroll, as soon as they
got in. "If they meant to kill you, why did they not do it at once?
that game was in their own hands before we broke through."
"Oh, God! at what a price you have saved us!" said Lord Ewyas; "how
"So he did," said Mr. Ferroll. "The fact is, I suppose that they
meant in the first place merely to extort a promise of favour for the
prisoners from you and the judges, which they fancied would be binding,
and by degrees they got warmed to a thirst for your blood. Did you
hear how the fellow cursed?"
"Ferroll, I don't think I could have done it," said Mr. Wyars,
"those words being warm in his mouth."
"It's lucky for you I could then."
"Nothing's truer than that," said Judge Delabre. "I don't believe
the lives of some of us were worth two minutes' purchase. I, for my
own part, acknowledge my deep obligation, Mr. Ferroll."
"I for another," said Lord Ewyas, shaking hands heartily with him.
"I am glad it's all right," said Mr. Ferroll, approaching the
windows. "I suppose it is all right, but the seem in a devil of
a fuss still. The best thing to do, will be to get out of the house the
back way, and take these gentlemen to Harold's Castle — don't you
think so, my lord — till the town's safe?"
Everybody agreed to this plan, the active officious servants ran off
to get conveyances, and to find constables to make a guard. Things were
quickly in train, and the gentlemen leaving the house quietly, soon
found themselves in the carriage of Lord Ewyas, and ready to go off at
best pace. "And you, too, Mr. Ferroll," said Lord Ewyas, stopping
before he followed his guests into the carriage; "you are coming with
us to-day, I'm sure?"
"No, indeed; I'm going home as soon as I find my horse; and I think
I saw a groom of yours with him just now."
"Dine with us, at least? it's all on your road."
"Oh, thank you; I'd come for society if I came for anything. Dining
is but the company of a knife and fork, yet it does come into our head
whenever our friends are there. Many thanks, but I really must go
home. Mrs. Ferroll don't expect me, and she will be glad; besides, a
ride after all that heat will be so pleasant."
"In short, you won't come; well, then, I thank you again, and good
"Good bye, you're most uncommonly welcome. There'll be a coroner's
inquest, of course; and I shall be ready to answer for what I've done
whenever they summon me."
"Is not it extraordinary the determination he has not to go into
society?" said Lord Ewyas, as the carriage drove on.
"Perfectly extraordinary," answered Mr. Smith.
"He'll go nowhere, though I and all the gentlemen have asked him
over and over again. Yet I don't think he's shy."
"Why, no; that does not appear to be his misfortune," said Lord
Mr. Ferroll meantime, happy in the past excitement, happy in the
present exercise, pleased to get home, enjoyed the ride amazingly. He
soon left behind him the smoky town, and the mean suburbs; he crossed
at a good pace a wide turfy common, threaded some well-known bylanes,
and at last from an open hill looked down on the scattered village of
Churchargent, and a quarter of a mile from the village on his own
Tower. The gray building looked out all calmly on the twilight; the
church stood not far off, shaped in the form of a cross, each limb
equal, and the spire rising from the centre. The churchyard sloped a
little on three sides of it, a brook ran in the valley, and its murmur
was heard on the hill. Mr. Ferroll stopped his horse, and contemplated
all this innocent and happy-looking scene for some minutes. If he had
been in the habit of talking over his secrets to himself, it is
probable he might have said something very much to the purpose of this
story. However, he was not; so what he thought remains unrevealed; what
he did say, casts no light on the past or the future. A word or two he
murmured, but they were merely the fragments or rough material of his
thoughts. "An island of the blest," he said softly; "if there be a
place of long repose, I'm sure ...... So very, very still." But this
was all, and at long intervals; and when he had gazed his fill, he
loosened again his rein, and quitting the hill, it was but a short time
before he had left his horse in the stable-yard, and was at the door of
his own drawing-room. Elinor had heard horses' feet, and alive to all
sounds from without when her husband was absent, stood expecting a
message or a note from him, in the attitude in which she had sprung up
from her chair, when her ear first ascertained the approaching step.
"You, Paul, you yourself!" she exclaimed, darting forward, and into his
"Yes, indeed it's I myself, and I've got a great deal to tell you.
Elinor, you remember James Skenfrith."
"I remember your Journal about him."
"I've killed him."
"Oh, husband! poor husband!"
"I have not thought of it yet in that light. Poor husband, indeed!
all my pity has been for James."
"But such a horrible misfortune!"
"No, darling. It was on purpose; he had every intention, I believe,
of committing violence, and I was first with him. Sit down — here,
here — I'll tell you." He detailed the circumstances, and then feeling
in his pocket, produced the pistol which had been the instrument of
the deed. "I'm so glad I took it with me," he said, fixing his eyes on
her, as he brought it out. She clung to his arm, shrinking back a
little, and the colour mounting into her face.
"The very pistol," said he; "the very hand, moreover," laying his
upon hers. She instantly clasped it in both her own, hiding her head
upon it, and her tears burst out. "Suppose they were to make it out
that I had committed a murder; suppose I were called a murderer — was a murderer, could you be faithful still, love me, no matter
what I was; never change?"
"What do you mean, Paul? who are you talking of — murder?"
"Nay, it's really very likely the coroner's inquest may give this
affair that name; but whether they do or not, would you stand that
utmost test, my wife?"
"Why will you think of a thing like that, when what you have done
has been in defence of others, no willing violence against a man?"
was willing violence. I could do it; I am not the
best of men, as they say in epitaphs. I did do it, I tell you, Elinor;
and suppose such a thing, only just to please me, suppose they were to
hang me, could you love me if the law hanged me?"
"Oh, heavens! what are you talking of?" she cried, thoroughly
frightened. "What has happened? have you got something I don't know to
tell me?" and she looked out, half expecting to see her husband seized
by impatient officers of justice.
He said nothing for a few seconds, only looked her steadily in the
face. Her fears took form from his silence.
"Fly, fly!" she cried. "Come ......"
"Come, aye, come," he answered, drawing her down again beside him.
"Then you'd have gone with me if there had been any necessity? but,
indeed, I don't know of any such thing. I have no doubt, with regard
to this James, that they will put me on my trial; but I was only going
on from one supposition to another, for the sake of knowing what you
Elinor heaved a deep sigh, like one relieved from utmost pain, but
still agitated and nervous.
"Alas, don't try that experiment again," she said. "The matter is
bad enough itself." And so she thought next morning, when a warrant
arrived to arrest her husband upon the charge of the murder of James.
The coroner's inquest had sate, the jury was composed of townsmen,
highly incensed at the death of their patriot, and had found a verdict
of wilful murder against Paul Ferroll, and the coroner had accordingly
issued a warrant for his apprehension.
"I told you so," said Mr. Ferroll to his wife, smiling as he showed
her the warrant; but it would not do to ask for smiles from her.
Frightened, dismayed, she was pale as death; and Janet, too,
overpowered with fear, crept, or rather noiselessly flew into the room,
and tears streaming from her eyes, caught hold of her mother's arm, and
stood gazing on her father. Mr. Ferroll laughed. "It wants very little
to make the scene heroic," he said. "The newspapers will get up a
paragraph, I should think — 'There stood the wretched man stained with
the blood of a fellow-creature ......'"
"Oh, my dear, dear Paul," cried Elinor, hiding her eyes, and burying
her face on his shoulder, "why will you use such horrible words; they
are too dreadful to be jested with."
"Can't you bear them said of me, Elinor?" asked her husband.
"Nobody can say them, so why ask?"
"Nay, but they will; you must expect whatever ......"
"Oh, I shan't mind, I shan't hear what the mere mob says; nobody
else can use those horrid words."
"One does not know that," said Mr. Ferroll. "Good bye, dearest, you
shall hear all about it as soon as possible; here's a kiss for you,
too, my little Janet. Look, Janet, that carriage at the door, that
vehicle ready to tear the unhappy man from his home, that conveyance
to the drear walls of a prison. After all, Jeannie, it is ...... it is
...... a, fly —
au revoir, Jeannie. Farewell dearest, prettiest
Mr. Ferroll got into the carriage, and as soon as he was with
strangers, resumed the cold manner and indifferent gravity which best
suited him and them; but when the wheels grated loudly over new-laid
stones, or over the paved way of a street, he murmured to himself the
exulting notes of the last scene in an opera, or quoted lines out of
the death of the Commander from Don Juan: —
"...... Here we are,
And there we go: — but
where? five bits of lead,
Or three, or two, or one send very far!
And is this blood, then,
form'd but to be shed?
Can every element our elements mar?
And air — earth — water —
fire live — and we dead?
We, whose minds comprehend all things!......"
His companions did not hear him; when it was possible they should,
he broke off short in the midst of his excitement. Near Bewdy, the
carriage was stopped for a minute by a servant on horseback, with a
letter for Mr. Ferroll from Lord Ewyas.
"DEAR FERROLL.—I hope to be at Mr. —'s nearly as soon as you; but
the scene of yesterday has been too much for me, though you, I dare
say, would scarcely remember it to-day, if it were not for this
vindictive inquest. Make use of me, I beseech you. They will bail you
of course, and remember I am the first to offer myself as your security.
Further on Sir Amyas Rufford put his head into the window,
vehemently shaking hands with Mr. Ferroll. "There are a dozen fellows
waiting for you," he said, "to show their proper feeling about you; but
I thought I'd ride forward and meet you, and be the first to say, I'll
be bail, or anything. Recollect I'm the first."
"Thank you, thank you; Lord Ewyas has just sent me the same offer.
It would not have occurred to me to ask it, if you had not made it."
As Sir Amyas had said, a considerable knot of gentlemen were ready
to receive Mr. Ferroll at the door of the magistrate. They were all
eager to offer their services, and to support him by their presence-
the feeling among them was as strong in his favour, as that of the
towns-people against him. The magistrate was a citizen, and not
inclined to look leniently on the act which savoured of arbitrary
power, and of a separate class; but all he had to do was to take the
brief examination which was necessary to show that Mr. Ferroll had
fired the shot which killed the man, and that he had not done it in
There could scarcely be any hesitation upon these points, and it was
not without looks of silent complacency at the progress of the
investigation, that the magistrate continued to extract from unwilling
witnesses such testimony as tended throughout to a committal. He could
even afford to deal rather hardly by the witnesses on the opposite
side, and to exhibit a show of impartiality by the severity with which
he examined the evidence of the mob party.
"These things being so," said the magistrate, taking off and wiping
his spectacles, "it is clearly my duty, sir, to commit you upon the
charge of the murder of this man. My lord seems angry, which I'm sorry
for, but that don't make the smallest difference."
"No, no; certainly," said Mr. Ferroll.
"But you bail Mr. Ferroll of course," said Lord Ewyas.
"Is any one willing to bail?" asked the magistrate. "The offence is
one of so serious a nature, that any question of bail becomes equally
"Yes I," "and I," "and I," answered a chorus of voices.
"Your rich friends are numerous, sir," said the magistrate; "but the
bail for the death of even a poor man is not a trifle to be undertaken
by anybody, I can't let the security be less than yourself in #5,000,
and two gentlemen in #2,500 each."
Many pressed forward, but gave way to Lord Ewyas and Sir Amyas, the
most considerable men there, who were prompt at once to make their zeal
and friendship known. But when the matter had been brought to this
point, and the attention of all the room was upon the offer, Mr.
Ferroll said (and his clear, peculiar voice caught universal
attention), "I am greatly obliged to you for these proofs of your
approbation of what I have done, and your willingness to support me;
but my obligation I think had best end here. As the assizes are going
on, my affair can be discussed within the coarse of to-morrow or next
day; and really the inconvenience of the gaol for that time is not of a
degree worth shunning — at least I will not shun it; so I thank you,
gentlemen, and decline your offer."
They remonstrated in vain; they pressed on him their services; but
he was fixed in avoiding them; whether he gave them offence or not
seemed indifferent to him, and he was more like a man in the position
of hearing and refusing petitions, than of one upon whom in a situation
of difficulty friends were accumulating offers and help. The commitment
was therefore made out, and Mr. Ferroll being delivered to the care of
the constables, was conveyed in the same carriage which had brought him
to Bewdy, to the county gaol. Thither a number of his friends attended
him, and at the door, as he got out of the carriage, pressed upon him
once more to shake hands, to renew their offers, to wish him well, to
prophesy a speedy acquittal from all but the credit of the action. The
mob who had gathered round were thrown into the background by the crowd
of wellwishing gentlemen; their expressions of hatred were lost in the
sounds of good will, their demonstrations quite stopped by the nearer
expressions of friendship from his own class — the doors unclosed for
him in a species of triumph, and at the top of the steps he turned,
took off his hat, in one last acknowledgment of their kindness; then
entered the prison out of the crowd, and the door closed between him
and a host of friends.
The court and its heavy buildings looked gloomier by contrast with
the scene without — the barred windows, the massive doors, the
complete solitude of the space, struck the imagination by the
contrast. Constraint is always humiliating; and Ferroll's spirit chafed
against the forms of receiving him as a prisoner, though the governor
of the gaol used his utmost courtesy in going through them. — "You
know best, sir," he said; "but I can't myself conceive why you
preferred not accepting bail."
"It was not for want of offers of it," said Mr. Ferroll.
"Oh, sir, I'm quite aware of that; every gentleman in the county
would have had a pleasure in furnishing it. I am aware of the pressing
offers made you."
"You see I would have nothing to do with them," said Ferroll. "Some
men, you know, will not be obliged; but pray go through your forms; I
have inspected this place too often not to be aware of them all."
The Governor complied; his prisoner's name and the charge against
him were entered in the book of crimes and their perpetrators, and a
small room, the best at his command, was allotted to Mr. Ferroll. The
room was of coarse a mere cell — a bare floor, a bed, and two chairs,
the only furniture. The windows were barred, and the door when closed
was also locked. Mr. Ferroll walked up and down the room chafing
against himself. "This is disagreeable," he said abruptly; "coercion,
under restraint, punishment — detestable words!" and murmuring the
same over and over again without seeming to find they grew better,
look at them as he would, he still walked from end to end of his narrow
There are moments in the first changing of our fortunes for the
worse, which seem to be a specimen of all the time to come, and which
are intolerable. "She must see this," broke aloud from Mr.
Ferroll's lips, and mechanically he turned to the table to take pen and
ink, and write to Elinor, but nothing was there — he struck the ground
impatiently with his foot; to be obliged to wait till some one should
come, and that some one, find that he had been wanted, waited for, to
furnish a common necessary of every day life! Again his soul chafed
within him; but it was a short time only that he was left to solitude.
Steps approached before long, the key turned in the lock, and there
entered a gentleman, upon seeing whom, Mr. Ferroll's face brightened
far more than was usual with him upon meeting an acquaintance, and
hastily advancing to each other, their hands were friendlily clasped,
and hearty greetings exchanged.
"But, Ferroll, why are you here?" said the new comer, in the same
breath with his "how d'ye do?"
"Is not it ridiculous?" cried Mr. Ferroll, laughing. "I might be
abroad of course, but only under obligation to some of these
fellow-countrymen of mine, and weighing the advantage and disadvantage,
I decided for gaol."
"And where's the advantage, except to give people an idea nobody
chose to bail you?"
"People! what is it to me what
"It is a great deal, when a man is going to stand his trial for life
"It don't matter. I will stand alone."
"You have the most pertinacious ideas, when once they are
conceived, of any man I know."
"Never mind. But, Harrowby, I suppose by seeing you here, that you
are engaged against me — are you?"
"I am; they were with me last night, and I took the fee."
"Or else I could not have seen you."
"That I know; and who is there left for me?"
"I came partly to talk to you about it. They have retained — and
"By Jove! all that are worth having."
"Yes, but your cause is very much the best. B— would make a good
hand of it; I told him this moment it was most likely you'd employ him,
and being young, he is anxious to be leader, and keeps himself out of
the way of the other side. Who's your attorney?"
"Oh, I'll have Shadwell, I think."
"Well, send for him at once; don't lose time, Ferroll."
"Get me pen and ink then, for I've none."
"Anything else I can do?"
"Oh, yes, you must do several things. My servant is somewhere or
other. At the Harold's Spear, I should think. Send him here, will you?
he must go home with a message from me."
"That I'll do; anything else?"
"Bring me Life in the Fourth Century, from the bookseller, or send
"Nothing more, except to come again if you've time. Let us sup
together, though it won't be like the round- room suppers. Elinor, and
you, and I. I wish Mrs. Harrowby were here."
"You won't send for Mrs. Ferroll here?"
"Indeed I will, though. What am I without her?"
"But such a wretched place."
"It won't be so when she comes."
"But to her?"
"Oh, I must have her here. That's what I want to send home for; she
must come, is coming. You are in a hurry, I suppose, so good bye,
Harrowby; I'm so glad to see you."
"Good bye, Ferroll; and for heaven's sake do be quick with your
attorney; I'll send you up writing things, and let your groom go to him first — will you?"
"Very well, very well."
Mr. Harrowby faithfully performed his commissions; materials for
writing were presented as soon as he could ask for them, and they could
follow his request, and by the time Mr. Ferroll had written notes to
Elinor and his attorney, he heard the approach of feet, and rightly
judged that the gaoler was conducting his groom to him.
As the door was unlocked he got up from the table, and turning his
back to the entrance, approached the window, as though he needed its
light to fold and wafer the two notes. Thus he could speak to the
servant without looking at him, at least for a time. "Here's a note for
Mr. Shadwell, which you must take directly, but merely leave it; don't
wait for an answer, and then go home with this one for Mrs. Ferroll.
Tell the coachman when you get in, that the carriage will be wanted
The groom advanced to take them, looking awkward and puzzled. "Am I
to come for orders, sir, in the morning?"
"What?" said Mr. Ferroll, putting his hands behind his back, and
fully fronting the groom; "no, you need not come back, unless I write.
And, George," calling him back, "Miss Ferroll's pony must be turned out
every morning before she rides."
The man retired; the master whistled; but he had little time for
that employment, so many friends came with offers of services; his
attorney came so quickly, and had to receive directions, and offer
advice about the course of defence to be pursued. Elinor at last came,
closely veiled, and silent after her hand was in that of her husband's,
till the door was shut again, and the sound of the turning key was
over. Then she threw her arms round his neck and sobbed aloud. He drew
her to a chair, and sitting down by her, tried to soothe her, but it
was in vain for a time; the occasion, the place, the anxiety had
"But if you suffer so from all this, which is but mere shadow," said
Mr. Ferroll, "what would the reality be? To-morrow, you know, I must be
tried for my life; I must stand accused of having done murder. Suppose
they find me guilty?"
"That they can't do," she said; "because you are not."
"I killed a man; if the law says I did it unlawfully, I have done a
Mr. Ferroll tried her too much; the words to which such loathing is
attached thus fastened on her husband, overworked her nerves; her
heart suddenly fluttered so, that she gasped for breath; and with a
faint hysteric laugh and sob, she fell powerless, caught in the act of
falling, by him. He shook his head, as if there were a grain of
vexation felt by him in the midst of the fond and lavish care he spent
to revive her.
"Could you not bear it, my Elinor; would it change me for you though
I had even done that deed?"
"But you have
not," she cried, clinging to him. "What is said
of you can change nothing, while what you do, and have done, is best."
Mr. Ferroll sighed, but said no more. He arranged the easiest seat
he could, and placed his wife upon it, sitting down beside her; her
head was on his shoulder, her hands in his, and he felt round him in
the prison the spirits of kindness and love, making a sunshine in that
The meeting that night between his friend and him was gay — was
joyous. Elinor stayed only till their slight repast was placed on the
table, and then went to the lodging provided for her, too nervous and
fearful to be able to bear a part in conversation, and needing all her
strength against to-morrow. The two gentlemen ate and drank; and then
the flood-gates of their souls were opened, and they talked. They were
companions in literary labours, and all the worlds of things and people
that live in books, were the habitual subjects of their thoughts and
talk. Released, too, from the presence of observances, no longer being
obliged to think what other people would think of his situation, and
his behaviour under it, Mr. Ferroll's spirits rose with the excitement
of his position. "One can't come near the palaces of Death," he said,
"without feeling. their majesty — without longing to look into the
halls, which one sees like a traveller passing beneath a great
"...... When the mountains rear
Their peaks beneath your human foot, and there
You look down o'er
the precipice, and drear
The gulf of rock yawns, you can't gaze a minute
Without an awful
wish to plunge within it,"said Harrowby; "but I suppose it's different
if a man really and truly believes he is to enter the great gates. You know that you shall only pass near enough to have heard the
great voice, felt the cold shadow — but imagine a condemned man,
Ferroll, condemned for to-morrow?"
"Still there would be all to-night and part of to-morrow."
"Nay, but suppose to-morrow come — the minute come?"
"Even then it is not death, but the pain of an unnatural death; for
the last minute comes to a man dying in his bed, and for the most part,
he 'lays him down to rest, Calm as a slumbering infant.'"
"Yes, old Bidderley — do you remember him? — walked out in the
morning strong and well, fell under a tree which was being cut down,
and was crushed to death. He lay a little while on the grass before he
died, and called his workmen and children round him to say his few last
words, as contented as if he had been ill for months."
"Do you think perhaps that men dying, grow weak, have no mind to
begin work afresh, however violently their fellow-creature's, sickness,
or chance, burst the iron gates of life."
"That's fine," said Mr. Harrowby; "it would do for me to-morrow when
I come to, the tragical part; for instance, see the rude hand bursting
the iron gate of life of a fellow-creature."
"Pshaw! that's like breaking the park paling. Try again — the
wanton aggressor, the violent man, surrounded by friends, by wealth, by
honour, sees his fellow-man threaten for a moment, and ere the honest
creature — his friend, gentlemen, mark me, his friend, though an
humble one, can repent of his accidental movement, this man — this
gentleman ...... Stop, I'm getting too low and scurrilous for the high
flight of the iron gates."
Harrowby laughed. "Yes, but you began well; the wanton aggressor is
good, so is the honest creature and the friend excellent. —
Friends, yes, once friends as the high and low can be, mutual benefits
bound them; for kind feelings are benefits as much as kind deeds,
gentlemen; yet he forgot it all, rushed over the sacred bonds of man's
right, with sacrilegious hand burst the iron gate of life."
"Very well, Harrowby; you grow in earnest; you cast such a fine
glance upon me out of your eye — such real indignation. I can already
see you sitting down to-morrow, wiping the sweat off your brow, and not
yet quite enough out of your part, to look at me and laugh."
His friend laughed now; and both being in the highest spirits, they
argued, talked nonsense, and travestied the world, till the gaoler
came to say he was obliged to lock the doors, at which Mr. Ferroll
frowned, and Mr. Harrowby laughed again, and went away.
It is to be supposed how crowded the court was next day, to see Mr.
Ferroll brought in a prisoner, which was interesting alike to those who
knew him a free man, and to those who never had seen him before.
There is always humiliation in restraint; the person subject to it, is
either an object of contempt, or of an unnatural demonstration of
respect which shows that his companions are thinking of his degraded
circumstances; and though Mr. Ferroll was surrounded by persons anxious
to do him credit all the way from the prison to the court, yet still he
was a prisoner and had to stand at the bar of justice, and bear the
accusation of crime and the possibility of punishment.
The indictment was read. He was accused, that by a shot discharged
from a pistol he had committed murder on the body of James Skenfrith at
such an hour and such a day; and this was followed by the inquiry, "Art
thou guilty of the murder whereof thou standest accused, or not
To this formality Mr. Ferroll returned a hearty "not guilty," which
was followed by as hearty a murmur of assent through the court, though
it was unworded. But after this, the other forms were passed through
with the ordinary respectful silence, and the jury being summoned and
sworn, the clerk declared the crime of the prisoner, and the counsel
for the indictment rose to deliver his speech. We have already in the
prison seen something of what this was to be, and will not therefore
follow it in its elaborated state. It was delivered with all that
unction which a practised lawyer knows how to throw into his great
forensic displays, and which, on this occasion, contained many of the
expressions which the two friends had perfected between them the night
When Mr. Harrowby sat down, excited and exhausted, it so happened
that he did hastily wipe the perspiration from his brow, as Mr.
Ferroll had pictured before them both, that he would do, and the moment
he had done it, recollecting what had passed, he looked towards his
friend hastily, and caught his eye fixed on him and a smile on his
mouth, which quite banished the actor and brought back the self in Mr.
Harrowby, who, suddenly losing his assumed character, had to snatch his
handkerchief again from his desk, and crowd it over his face to hide
the laughter which burst out. Mr. Ferroll also laughed — a little
scornfully, and the court was somewhat scandalized by this unusual act
of good fellowship between the accuser and the accused.
Except this variety, little occurred beyond the routine which every
trial follows, in which the end appears very plainly in view. The
witnesses for the accusation all tended to prove, that the weapon in
the hand of James Skenfrith was such as could inflict no great bodily
injury, and that his words and gestures were such as to show he had no
intention of committing any; that Mr. Ferroll's conduct had been
provoking and his actions hasty, and that the man who was undoubtedly
slain was also murdered. On the other hand, the witnesses for the
prisoner proved that the peril was imminent, the intentions of the man
evidently fatal, Mr. Ferroll forbearing, and that he had acted only on
extremity, and the latter evidence so much preponderated in weight and
perspicacity that when the judge came to sum up, his charge was clearly
and decidedly in favour of a perfect acquittal.
It now became the pain of the jury to decide upon the case they had
heard. The weary clock in the gallery tolled out the half-hour after
five. As they were beginning to consult together, the judge, sadly
glancing at his watch, suggested that the court should adjourn, and
appoint a time for hearing the verdict; but the foreman of the jury
thought it was unnecessary, and requested a few minutes' patience. The
verdict was indeed plain enough on the judge's summing up. With this
prospect of release, the judge took patience and settled himself for
the short time still to elapse before they could frame their verdict.
Mr. Ferroll, sitting down, looked over a pocket book which he held in
his hand, and in which he had been noting the traits of nature, and the
remarkable words which had passed before him during the day. The
counsel had all withdrawn after their speeches were made, except Mr.
Harrowby, who had remained near his friend; the weary clerks of the
court stood on their accustomed legs like hackney cabhorses, or
slumbered sitting upright against the wall. Silence and suspense lasted
minute after minute.
At last the foreman came forward and signed to the clerk of the
court, who started into action, and said professionally, "Gentlemen of
the jury, are you all agreed on your verdict?"
"We can't agree," said the foreman.
Surprise ran through the whole court, for the whole tenor of the day
had been for a favourable verdict, but the habits of the court
permitted no such expression
"Then," said the judge, "you must return under the charge of an
officer of the court, and the clerk of the court will wait till you
return. The prisoner may be removed, and brought up again for
So saying, he rose from his seat, jerked his robes about him, quite
too tired to think as much of dignity as he had done in the morning,
and passed out of the court.
"The prisoner may be removed!" said Mr. Ferroll, to his friend
Harrowby. "This is carrying the play into weariness — the joke grows
tiresome — Harrowby, will you run on and tell Elinor to meet me in the
gaol — poor dear, she has been keeping her fire bright for me too long
Mr. Harrowby, more dismayed than he cared to acknowledge, went out
of the court on his errand. The friends who remained to this late hour,
came round Mr. Ferroll, their faces blank in spite of their efforts to
be gay, and to treat the delay as a mere temporary inconvenience. He
himself was weary, and anxious to escape from the importunity of his
situation, and to be free, to do, and look, and be as he pleased. But
he preserved his self-command, unbroken, and passed away from the
court with the same air of freedom that would have been his in his most
prosperous day — he neither trifled with danger nor shrank before it.
It was not his companion but his attendant.
"How pale you are, my dearest," he said, as soon as he and his wife
were alone in the prison, "and you have been crying; all alone all day
and grieving about me! Why did you grieve, Elinor?"
"It does not matter about me," she said, "it is you who suffer. Oh,
Paul, when will all end?"
"It is vexatious," he said, "and the thing is so clear before
them, that one does not know what they are hesitating about. The same
tiresome fools who thought of murder at the coroner's inquest, I
suppose, are meddling in the verdict. But there can be but one end to
it." Elinor shuddered.
"What, do you think they'll hang me, Elinor?"
"For heaven's sake don't say those horrible words. You could look
straight into a cannon's mouth, but I cannot."
"Nay, dearest; but I don't believe this time in the reality of
danger. Keep that in view in your estimate of me. I know it is only
Meanwhile, more dreary than the prison, more weary than the
prisoner, were the room and the men in which and by whom his fate was
being decided. Without fire, in a cold March night, without any light,
except a dim lamp in the top of the door, the room containing the
twelve jurymen looked worse than any apartment in the gaol. The jury
was composed of men unaccustomed to hardship. After the long
confinement of the day, to return home and find an agreeable meal, an
excellent fire, an arm-chair, and their own bed, was almost second
nature — the miserableness of cold, and of the prolongation of
fatigue, was an unnatural torment. To some it was much worse than
others — the eager, hard man could bear it; but the man who (without
blame to himself) cherished his body, had hardly power to stand against
it. Eleven of the jurymen were agreed — one wiry man stood out for
guilty — he had his own crotchet on the subject — his own persuasion
that Mr. Ferroll killed James because he was a poor man — not because
there was necessity to do it — and nothing that counsel, witnesses, or
judge had said that day, had moved him for an instant from his
"The summing up of the judge was as clear as any direction could
be," said Mr. Ramhelme, for the twentieth time.
"The judge is not fit to try this case," said the wiry Mr. Holmes.
"Ferroll saved his life, and of course he's prejudiced."
"You do admit then that the judge would have been murdered?"
"No, I don't — murdered? No; and besides that, there's no right to
do evil to one man, in order to save him from doing it to another."
"Yes, there is. You'd defend yourself, I suppose, if I woke you at
night, with a knife in my hand, touching your throat?"
"James had only a bludgeon — that's proved. Isaac Smith's evidence
is, 'I saw James cut a stick out of the hedge; and he said this is
enough for me.' Do try to remember the evidence."
"Enough for the judge too, enough for Lord Ewyas; a thick stick,
alias a bludgeon, could knock their brains out."
"Could! yes, so could this poker knock out yours if it could move
from its place."
"Pshaw! that's childish."
"However, I say Ferroll is guilty."
Another half hour passed, and things waxed worse and worse. The
hours towards dawn came with their bitter cold — more than one of the
jury shook with the cold, and their empty stomachs added a very
positive pain to their other miseries. Their sense of the importance of
their trust, kept away the expression of the peevish feelings which
could not but arise, and what touch of the ludicrous there was in their
situation, would have affected a bystander, but not themselves.
"How long can you bear this?" said Mr. Jones, to his neighbour. "It
has ceased to be matter of argument, and become a contest of strength."
"To tell you the truth," said his neighbour, "Holmes I believe knew
he should keep us at bay, and provided himself with lozenges to
preserve his own strength."
"Well, a man's life must not be sacrificed for a lozenge," said
Jones, trying to button his coat more warmly over his chest.
Mr. Montague was walking up and down the room with Holmes, trying to
argue him into assent to the judgment of the eleven. Holmes himself
was getting tired. Mr. Montague was a smooth-tongued man. "This
Ferroll is a man of so much importance — not so much as to wealth and
station, for his estate you know, Mr. Holmes, can't be two
thousand a-year; but he is so useful, and he is of considerable
consequence in the literary world; and then nobody knows better than
you, Mr. Holmes, what exertions he made during the cholera, because you
were on the committee, and I observed your name and his frequently
together in the districts."
"Yes, yes, all very true; but we should look at facts."
"You have said that before; very truly too — but really we have
gone through facts so often; and I do think, when we are not called on
to give reason for our decision, when it is left to us to form our own
opinion as to a man's motives, and so on, and that kind of thing, that
our opinion may lawfully be moulded in some degree on our knowledge of
a man's character."
"Yes, we are judges now."
"Very true; I, and each of us, you and I, are judges of this very
remarkable man; eleven of us agree in a favourable judgment — so we
have pretty well done with our office; but you have to convince us, or
to allow us the weight of our united opinion — you are Ferroll's
judge in fact. A judge should be merciful, Holmes."
"I have to speak to facts, Mr. Montague; otherwise I'm sure, if it
depended on me, I should have no objection to mercy."
"You'd have him pardoned, even if guilty," said Mr. Montague, an
idea suddenly rushing into his mind.
"Oh, by all means, if possible —
pardoned — yes."
"Well, Holmes," said Mr. Montague, taking him by the button, and
drawing him aside, "what do you think of this verdict, if the rest
would agree? for indeed the fact of the death of James is
certain — guilty, but strongly recommended to mercy."
"Guilty, but recommended to mercy — well, I don't want to appear
obstinate — strongly recommended — humph!"
"Jones," said Mr. Montague, calling up that gentleman, "just come
this way. Mr. Holmes has been arguing with me that the prisoner should
be censured, that our opinion of the fact that he killed James,
should be recorded, but that also our wish that he should be pardoned
should also be mentioned, so we suggest the verdict — guilty, but
strongly recommended to mercy."
The step gained, the hope opened of an end to their misery was a
strong temptation. Mr. Jones hesitated, Mr. Montague called others,
certain that if one of them could see that he should not stand alone
in his agreement, he would agree — the hesitation was great at first;
then, there came in three who had retired to a corner to argue this
view of the question, and had agreed together; then another joined,
and another. At last Mr. Talbot stood alone in opposition, becoming the
new Holmes; and at last, ashamed of copying an example so odious at
this moment in the eyes of all the men in the room, he too gave in, and
they came to an unworthy but unanimous agreement that the verdict
should be "Guilty, but strongly recommended to mercy."
Meantime the prisoner's night had been more peaceful. He was more
tired with the wearisome day he had passed, than with any one of bodily
or mental exertion which he remembered at home. "Indeed, dear Elinor,"
he said, "I will go into my narrow bed there, for my eyes refuse their
But Mrs. Ferroll's feverish excitement made the idea of repose
impossible. "Could you really sleep? but every minute they may come to
call you back to the court; surely it is quite impossible there should
be any long deliberation. Don't sleep, Paul, speak to me."
"Are you frightened, my dearest wife?" he said, putting his arm
round her, and pressing her trembling form against himself. "You
tremble like a young hare caught under a boy's hat. Nay, never be
afraid; the worst end of all would not be worth fear."
"No, no, I know it is only a little delay; perhaps this very minute
they are agreeing to pronounce you free; they may be coming now into
the court of this detestable place to call you?"
"I wish meantime I my weary eyes might close."
"But would you be found sleeping by them? would you pretend such
"That's true; they might think I feigned the indifference which I
feel. Well, well, I won't go to bed; let us sit close together, and
have a little rational discourse."
They sate down, hand in hand; but Mr. Ferroll's weariness overcame
his intention of conversing, and gradually letting his face sink on the
arm he had laid upon the little table, he fell into a profound sleep.
Elinor sate by him, equally tired, but unable so much as to close her
eyes, and her sense of hearing unnaturally excited to distinguish the
slightest sound. When the morning light was thoroughly established, the
sound she expected came. Feet approached, the lock of the door turned,
and the Governor himself appeared to say that the jury had announced
themselves ready, and that the Judge was proceeding to the court to
hear the verdict, in presence of the prisoner.
Mr. Ferroll roused himself as the noise of the opening door awoke
him. "I have been very comfortable, Elinor; have you been comfortable
too? Stay here, my dearest pale Elinor; sit in my place till I come
back. It will be but a very short process now; a quarter of an hour, or
twenty minutes, will bring me back to you. Kiss me — God be with you;"
for Mr. Ferroll often lengthened "good bye" into all its words.
When he reached the court in charge of the sheriffs' officers, the
jury was already seated. The cold gray court with many an empty bench,
looked forlorn in the misty March morning. A knot of Mr. Ferroll's
friends met him as he came in, greeting and conducting him to the bar,
where he took his place; and he was scarcely there, when the judge was
ushered by his men to his chair under the canopy, and the clerk rising,
inquired of the jury, "Gentlemen, are you all agreed on your verdict?
Is the prisoner guilty, or not guilty?"
The foreman came forward; he paused a little, as if summoning his
voice to speak before that eager assembly, and then when the silence
was wound up to the last breathlessness of expectation, pronounced the
words "Guilty, but strongly recommended to mercy."
There was a profound pause. Each one looked at his neighbour to see
by his face whether he himself had heard rightly, then at the
prisoner; but his expression was that of a man who hears an odd piece
of news, rather than any other feeling. The judge was discomposed, and
with a heavy groan, as at the stupidity of his fellow-creatures, he
rose to perform the duty about which there was no choice left him. In
as biting terms as he could make consistent with his dignity and that
of the office, he observed upon the conclusion which the intelligence
of the jury had enabled them to draw from the premises before them, and
which compelled him to pass the sentence of death upon the prisoner,
and then proceeded to announce that he had more satisfaction in
assuring the prisoner that the remainder of the verdict was such as he
himself should gladly act upon, by forwarding to the proper quarter the
recommendation to mercy of the jury, which he was perfectly convinced
would be as promptly attended to. Ferroll made a dignified bend of his
head to this address, and stood quiet while his friends came crowding
"Take no notice of it, Ferroll," cried one; "it's the greatest
blunder men ever made."
"The verdict is ridiculous," said another. "It will be reversed. The
Crown and Parliament will take it up."
"I'll go to London myself, Mr. Ferroll," said Lord Ewyas; "whatever
interest I have shall be employed for you."
"My dear lord, there's no hurry," said Mr. Ferroll. "I'm excessively
obliged to you all; but really the merits of the case will stand my
"Nay, but it's an honour to us to be of any use to you," cried Lord
"An honour to be the ally of a man who has committed murder?" said
Mr. Ferroll, smiling.
"Oh, nonsense; it's. the maddest verdict I ever heard."
"But it pronounced me guilty of the crime," said Mr. Ferroll.
"No matter," cried several, enthusiastically.
"No matter? Well, that's nobly said. And now, gentlemen, as the
thing is over for the present I'll bid you farewell, with the best of
my thanks; and under whatever circumstances we meet again, I shall
always remember that you could hear me condemned for murder, yet remain
my friends." So shaking hands, and bowing to others, he signed to the
gaoler that he was ready to attend him, and resumed the way to the
A PAINFUL and anxious time passed for many persons after the
scenes detailed in the last chapter. They were a call upon the
patience of Mr. Ferroll, who longed to be again about his own
employment in his own way; but to his wife they were a trial beyond
what he had an idea of. The prolonged suspense — after suspense seemed
just about to terminate — the horror of the sentence registered
against her husband, even though it should be put aside, the fact, or
rather the fancy, that there was not perfect impossibility that it
should be confirmed, these things produced an effect upon her,
undermining the very springs of life. It had been proposed to Mr.
Ferroll to keep secret from her the fatal nature of the sentence, till
the answer from London should arrive; but to that he would not agree.
"To whom could I talk of the subject interesting to me?" said he. "How
could I talk to her, if there were any secrets between her and me?" He
told it to her himself, tenderly and carefully; and the excess of her
outgushing love when she heard it, compensated to him for the
suffering, and enabled her to wear the appearance of bearing it
without any reference to her own part in the trial. She never thought
of the ill-effect it was having on her, the inability to sleep, the
distaste for food that came over her: the shuddering cold she felt, the
floods of tears which, when she was away from her husband, and
sometimes in his presence, burst forth — neither did he
perceive that she was bearing more than he did; that she was
involuntarily and unconsciously a martyr to her situation, while he
carried off his martyrdom with all the boldness of his own spirit, all
the assistance of admiration and hero-worship — and greatest of all,
with the perfect conviction in his own mind, that in the end there
would be nothing to bear. All he sought to avoid was obligation to
neighbours. A petition was signed in his favour by all the best names
in the county in the course of the day, and Lord Ewyas was ready to
carry it to London, and to forward it with whatever interest he had;
but Mr. Ferroll as soon as he came back to prison, sent for his friend
Harrowby, and desired him to get himself employed by the judge to carry
his message to the Home Secretary in London, and to undertake the other
measures which would take the advance of anything that might be done
elsewhere in his favour. He had support in men in power, who knew him
chiefly for his literary character, and to whom he applied as asking a
right rather than a favour.
"That kind of obligation suits me best, Harrowby," he said; "and I
mean to pay you for the time which you will lose at the next assizes,
and so be easy in my mind."
"But as your neighbours are so civil to you," said his friend,
"would not it be better to tell them what you are going to do for
yourself — work along with them at least, won't you?"
"No; I wish them to know that I can do without them."
"Do you dislike them so much?"
"I don't dislike them at all; some I like. Lord Ewyas is excellent
"Then why are you so unsociable?"
"Humph! — Oh, I don't how."
"You don't know indeed!"
"Do you?" said Mr. Ferroll, looking up at him.
"That's said in the tone of yes. What is it then?"
"You know my feeling towards you, Ferroll. You know how I have
regarded you these eighteen years?"
"Well then, supposing I
have known a thing respecting you, it
is plain that thing does not influence my regard. You are sure of
"Yes — go on."
"It was something respecting your late wife."
Mr. Ferroll looked down straight on the floor. "And that was?" he
asked. There was a pause which he could not bear. After a minute had
passed — "What about her?" he said.
"Ferroll," cried his friend, "your blood boils, your face ......"
"It does not matter about my blood," said Ferroll, speaking slowly.
"You know partly what a time of agony her life was to me."
"Yes; you were as nearly mad as a man of your rocky intellect could
be. Let it be what it will that you did at that time, it was not you
"It was I. You don't mean what you say. You don't think I
ever fell under the command of my impulses."
"No I don't; I believe you never did anything you had not fully
purposed to do. You would never have beaten the woman — you would not
have killed her, but I don't think you were quite yourself to do this
"And what thing is it?" said Mr. Ferroll, looking up again.
"What they say, Ferroll, is, that you shouldn't have kept her
fortune, having no children, and you and she ......"
"Oh, and they say the county avoided me on that account?"
"No; they say
you avoided the county — not being pleased
"Well, Harrowby, I did
not do that thing. One single penny of
that woman's money did not stay with me, nor near me. I can prove it to
you or anybody; and if I were at home I would prove it to you. I
have the brother's receipt and declaration that I gave over everything
to him, and did not keep the value of one penny. He knew I hated her."
"Is it possible? How can the story have got about?"
"I don't really think it has got far about. Have you ever inquired
into it from people in this part of the world?"
"No; I never talked of it at all except to those who told me."
"Who were those?"
"Your own set in London; it's a common story among them."
"Why did not you talk to me?"
"Nay; why should I? I did not care about it."
"You did not care whether I had committed an action which ......"
"The like of which you never repeated; anything more unlike your
usual character it was impossible to conceive."
"So you would not give me up, if — or rather although — I had done
a thing which would fix a mark upon my name — make the public loathe
"Oh, that's too strong an expression; the public would care very
little, after the first talk was over, where your money came from, so
that you had it."
"Well, but suppose they had, or thought they had reason to loathe
"Oh nonsense; but it would make no difference to me."
"Though some to me," said Mr. Ferroll, smiling; "suppose they hang
me now, what shall you say to having been the friend of a murderer so
"I should be quite a lion, almost as much a lion as yourself."
"Should you like it?"
"Like it? pshaw! There is not chance enough to make me see my way in
that question, so talk no more nonsense, but give me my errand, and let
me be off to London."
Mr. Ferroll slightly shrugged his shoulders, and then went on
talking to his friend about the persons to go to, and the means to be
used. That very evening, while the officious High Sheriff and the
zealous Lord-Lieutenant were driving from place to place, adding name
upon name to the respectable list of petitioners for Mr. Ferroll's
release, Mr. Harrowby was in London, already engaged with the men upon
whom the success of the request depended; and the next day, when Lord
Ewyas was travelling up with the petition to be presented, he was
travelling down with the pardon granted. He kept a vigilant look-out
for the carriage of Lord Ewyas; and finding horses had been ordered
along the road for him, waited at one of the towns, to arrive at which
Lord Ewyas's appointed hour was come, in order to meet him so far on
his journey. He had been walking about the entrance to the inn for a
quarter of an hour, and his own post-chaise stood all ready for his
start in the street, when the clatter of four horses, and of a
travelling carriage at post-boy's speed, was heard rapidly drawing
near. Up drove Lord Ewyas, and jumped from the carriage while the fresh
four horses were suddenly taking the place of the tired ones; he was
stamping for a few moments up and down the pavement, when the sight of
Mr. Harrowby caught his eyes.
"Ha! are you going to London, too," he said, shaking hands, "and
upon the same errand?"
"Indeed, my lord," said Mr. Harrowby, somewhat embarrassed, "I am
coming down upon it."
"Why, I thought I saw you in Bewdy yesterday morning?"
"That's very true; but Ferroll sent for me the moment the trial was
over — indeed, I went with him back to the prison — and would hear of
nothing but despatching me at once to Mr. —, and Lord —, and Mrs. —,
and the — of —, to state the case to them, and get their
"On what ground?" said Lord Ewyas, rather drily.
"Oh, as a literary man, he knows them all well: they take a
prodigious interest in the case."
"So do I, I assure you; and shall be happy to add the mite of my
influence to such powerful protectors."
"Your lordship is really and truly kind and generous to him," said
Mr. Harrowby, "and, therefore, you will have pleasure in hearing that
I have been successful — that I have his pardon in my hand."
"You have got it?"
"Indeed, I have, the case seemed so very clear;" and he showed the
"I'm sorry in that case ......" Lord Ewyas began, but stopped.
"So am I truly, my lord; I endeavoured to prevent your lordship, and
his other friends, from taking such kind trouble until it was known
whether it should be necessary; but Ferroll ......"
"Oh, not at all; I have some business of my own in London," said
Lord Ewyas, "and I should have been happy to have added Mr. Ferroll's
to it: but as it is, I'm glad, Mr. Harrowby, that you have taken that
trouble off my hands. Good morning, Mr. Harrowby. What a state this
turnpike road is in — remember me to Mr. Ferroll, and convey my
The two gentlemen shook hands; the one got into his carriage with a
slower and statelier step than he got out of it, the other into his
post-chaise doubly quick, and glad to have done with an interview which
he had rather dreaded.
The health of Mrs. Ferroll had undergone a shock from which she
could not rally. Her husband saw the reflection of her sufferings
during his imprisonment, in her present trembling state. He had been
the first actor there, and he had forgotten the lesser actors in the
scene; now she was the first, very unwillingly so, but she could not
overcome the nervousness into which she had fallen, and which made her
weep bitterly if a door were banged, and be on the brink of hysterics
if in the course of reading aloud, or conversation, there were mention
of situations identical with the one her husband had been in. Mr.
Ferroll's whole soul was moved by her situation; his attention was
drawn to her, and fixed on her; and all that human tenderness could do
to soothe human suffering, he did for her. To enter on new scenes was
the evident remedy to be adopted; and though her reluctance to the
expedient was great, his unceasing patience in combating the natural
impression that she was to die, and would fain die at home, and his
gentle firmness in removing all the objections to travel, which her
unwillingness discovered, attained his object, and they were to leave
the Tower. Where to go? to brighter skies certainly — to places unseen
before; somewhere where they should meet with all the convenience of
life; where there would be an attractive natural scenery, and the
possibility, at all events, of associating with human beings.
They were acquainted with all the principal objects and places of
Europe. Sometimes it occurred to him to cross the Atlantic, sometimes
to go to Cairo, and float upon the Nile, to see the first outposts of
tropical vegetation, and to lose the sense of personal feelings in the
ruins of dead empires.
While these plans were in discussion, it happened one morning when
the letters were brought in, that Ferroll received among others one
upon which his attention seemed greatly fixed for the minute that he
spent in perusing it. His wife perceived without much observing this;
she expected him to put it into her hand when he had read it, but he
crushed all together that he had received and soon after went out of
the room. In the course of the day she went into his sitting room to
ask him a question, but he was not there, and on the table she saw
lying the letter in question. She was in the habit of reading his
letters, and he hers indifferently; she took up this one, and half
opened it; then something struck her that it contained what he meant
should be secret between them; she did not like the unusual feeling,
but she laid by the letter. A minute after, she saw her husband walking
along the terrace towards the open window.
"Paul," she said, as he came in, "I have not read your letter. I
fancied I was not to read it."
"Nay," he said, "it's a curiosity in its way — look at it, Nelly,"
and he unfolded and read it aloud —
"MOST RESPECTFUL MR. FERROLL — I fear you'd have thought us
long in impressing our gratitude for your kind compliance with our
necessities fifteen years since; but though silent we have always had
pleasure in reflecting on the money then sent. Poor Richard don't feel
so much of that sentiment as me, but without much blame to him, for he
is dead, and now safe under ground. Your honour think I am going to
troubling him for more names; but I feel a pleashure in saying I am
nearly above benevolence, having got a sum of munny out of poor
Richard's sudden death, who had the assurance to lay by a good few
dollars in the place where they assure one of sudden death, and indeed
any death. These things being, honoured sir, this come hopping for your
honour's pemission and advice to come back to England, where I think
poor Richard's sudden death will make me safe and comfortable. Please
write me your consent, and direct America with speed, for I ought to
have had a letter once from my sister Ann, and for want of a proper
direction it got into death's post office, and never came out as I was
I am, your honoured servant,
"Is that all?" said Mrs. Ferroll, laughing at the letter; "and I
fancied you did not want me to see it."
"Did you," said her husband, folding the letter and putting it in
"Who is she," continued Mrs. Ferroll, "and what was your benevolence
to her fifteen years ago; why that was soon after we married?"
"Oh, she was a poor woman in the village, whom with her husband I
helped to leave this country and get over to America."
"What did you say her name was?"
"Her name? oh Martha — but never mind that. It will do very well
to-day to take your sketchbook to the waterfall, and I'll come with
you. I must answer this letter, and two or three others, and then I
shall be ready."
Mrs. Ferroll would rather have liked to read the letter herself; but
infinitely as her husband loved her, did not venture to ask more —
there was something about him which she felt was secret even from her,
and she never got nearer to understanding it, than she did on the
night of Lady Bartlett's ball, to knowing why he avoided going into
society. Soon after, he said he had given up the idea of any remote
journey, and he thought they would go to the south of France. Somehow
or other she connected the relinquishment of the project with the odd
letter which he had read to her, but not put into her hand.
When Lady Lucy Bartlett heard the project of an absence from home
she very much disapproved of it. "It would look," she said, "as if he
felt himself rather guilty and got out of the way to avoid reproach."
"I never thought of that before," said Mr. Ferroll, "but
don't think me rather guilty, do you?"
"Oh, I? what a question, almost a foolish question. I have known you
for eighteen years now; and of course you could not do anything so out
of the way; but other people have not known you so long."
"Yet you know, Lady Lucy, I
did do it."
"Do what?" cried she.
"I did kill that man."
"Oh not at all, Mr. Ferroll. I'm sure .....oh nobody can
"But I did, indeed, it is a plain matter of fact. Nobody ever denied
it, everybody saw it; they heard the pistol, saw him fall, he died by
"Pray don't — oh dear no; the judge and all the court said not."
"Pardon me, they said I did — a few friends suggested that I
killed him only, but the majority, agreeing to his being killed,
said also he was murdered."
"Then why did ......"
"They not hang me? that was the royal fancy."
"Oh, dear, I did not mean that."
"Yes, indeed, dear Lady Lucy, you did; and they might have done it,
you know. Now pray what should you do by Elinor if she were here all in
black and white mourning for me, the hanged? She would have done
no harm, you know."
"Oh my poor, dear Mrs. Ferroll! how wrong of you to talk of such
"Nobody can realize," said Mr. Ferroll, moodily.
"Mrs. Ferroll and Janet want nobody's merits but their own, do
they?" said Hugh, cheerily.
Mr. Ferroll looked up at him suddenly. "Nay, family merits are not
to be lightly dispensed with," he said. "Equals should mate with
equals, distinguished names with distinguished names, parks with
parks," and as his speech went on, it took a lighter, even a sarcastic
Hugh's countenance fell; he looked angry, took up a book, and
presently went out of the room. "What does ail Ferroll about me?" he
said to himself; "he never misses an opportunity of implying that he
does not want me to marry Janet. I cannot think what it is. Perhaps he
thinks I hunt too much; I did talk to him about Preston, the other day;
he always contrives to make me talk of hunting. And then it comes out
in Janet's hearing that he himself has been writing a book all the time
I have been hunting. I've a good mind to take a first class." Hugh
walked on thinking over the things that troubled him, but when he
reflected that Janet was going away for a year, perhaps two years,
certainly that thought was the worst of all. He went towards the Tower,
and as he came near, he saw Janet in the garden, watering her own bed
of flowers, among which were some verbenas which he had given her.
"Janet," he said, "is it true you are going to leave me?"
"We are going away, I believe," said Janet. "Mamma has been, and is
so unwell, and can't get better, that they think it is right to change
the scene for her."
"Are you glad?"
"I'm glad if it does her good; and I shall be glad to see other
countries. Should not you like it, Hugh?"
"Why, at the vacations, perhaps, I could come and join you; that is
if Mr. Ferroll would like it."
It occurred so strongly to Janet that her father would
like it, that the colour mounted in her face, and she was silent. Hugh
saw it, and coloured also; neither spoke. "Ah," he thought to himself,
"if I believed Janet would like it, I should not much mind who
"And why do you think he would not?" said he, after a pause.
"Would not what? who would not like it?"
"Nay, you know what I mean; what reason does he give for hating me?"
"Hating you! oh, indeed, indeed, you are quite entirely wrong."
"Well, perhaps so about quite hating; but you know he does not like
...... you know he objects ...... you know, Janet ......"
"No, I don't know."
"Does not he abuse me to you? does not he say I am an ignorant
country squire; a horse master; a horse myself?"
"No, upon my word, he does not: you are quite wrong; he never says
anything, not so much as he says to you."
The young squire still felt dissatisfied. "I'm not
Janet. I could have got the prize for verses this year, my tutor said,
if I had tried; and as for field sports, why, you would not have a man
sit at home and work Arabs on horseback, like my sisters?"
"No, indeed, I would not."
"Well, Janet, don't forget us all; don't fancy other people better
than your own people, and fine places better than these places, though
they are not, I know very well, as fine as some are."
"Oh, but papa only said that because children, he says, come to
fancy what they know first are the best things in the world. I do
think, Hugh, that the Court, with all those fine woods, and the hill
behind, is as pretty as it is possible any place can be."
"It is a nice place, is not it, my dear, dearest little
Here the Misses Bartlett were seen from a distance, coming to take
their share in Janet's farewells, and so the dialogue broke off.
In another week they embarked in London for Bordeaux, Mr. Ferroll
never having again given one thought to the impression Lady Lucy feared
his absence at this moment would make. It was summer time, and the
weather so calm that the Bay of Biscay lay all trembling and murmuring
beneath the vessel. They did not land at any of the places where she
touched. Sight-seeing just now was more exertion than suited Mrs.
Ferroll. Profound and perfect quiet, the deep rest of the spirit,
exhausted by emotion, was what did her good; and in this calm sea
voyage she enjoyed it to perfection. Separated from the land and all
its cares, the two objects whom in different degrees she loved with all
her love, close to her; the idle progress over the sea, to which no
self-exertion of any kind contributed, all soothed, and parted her from
trouble, and made every day and hour a healing medicine. They arrived
in the Gironde soon enough to leave this impression in its perfection,
and before they were tired of being so happy; and quitting Bordeaux
with deliberate haste, set off on a journey still more south, avoiding
all the roughnesses of travelling and enjoying the sun, the profusion
of life, the progress which was the natural occupation of the day, the
halt, and the rest, which there was no reason to abbreviate or to
avoid. Mrs. Ferroll got better and better; her husband watched her
daily improvement with heightened spirits; his plan for her quite
succeeded, and he enjoyed the pleasure of success. He loved her the
more vividly for being so susceptible to his good influences. Janet,
too, was happy; she was very useful, very handy; very strong in
health, and active. When her mother rested on a sofa at the hotel they
stopped at in the evening, Janet watched her father's face, to see if
he would take her with him on his walk; but she was accustomed to be
left behind, and did not complain even to herself, though the evening
sun glowed into the room, and she longed to see the new world of a
foreign country. Tenderly as Mrs. Ferroll loved her, she received
Janet's sacrifices as matters of course, and felt her rewarded enough
by thanks and kisses. Janet felt so too.
The country below Bordeaux presents but an uninteresting aspect to
the traveller. Nevertheless along the coast, with the sea on one side,
and the strange aspects of sands, and bright masses of cultivation on
the other, there is enough to please eyes which have already enjoyed
the essential glories of the world. They came one morning to the small
village of Pontaube, a fishing village without any great trade, and
which was a favourite retirement for men who had collected a little
money in the province. There were several small, prettyish houses in
the street, with figs, and vine trees growing over them; and the inn
was a new building of considerable pretension to be comfortable, built
round a small court, where, on a bench beside one of the walls, sate
the landlady knitting stockings, and basking in the sun. Mrs. Ferroll
and Janet went for breakfast upstairs; but Mr. Ferroll did not like the
heat and the narrowness of the room, and going down thought he would
drink his coffee in the common room. But the common room did not seem
to be open to all; for when he went in, and would have sate down
towards the top of the table, the waitress, a nice little
remonstrated, observing, "But, sir, the gentlemen will be here soon."
Mr. Ferroll submitted willingly, and went lower; but when sitting
down, he asked for some coffee, and appropriated a small loaf of white
bread which lay at his hand. The little waitress again interposed,
"That roll is for the gentlemen, sir, but I'll get you another. Sit
here, sir," she added, dusting and putting a chair still lower down to
entice him into it. Mr. Ferroll complied again; and the girl, who
seemed to have doubted of his tractability, was pleased, and grew very
tame herself, and willing to express her surprise at the sight of an
Englishman, and at what he could do. He spoke French remarkably well,
but a few tones had betrayed that he was not a Frenchman, and before
she went for his coffee, the little waitress satisfied her curiosity by
asking a few questions. "You know France, do you, sir?" said she.
"Yes, I've often been in France; but you have found out, have you,
that I am an Englishman?"
"Yes, sir, and besides your servant told me, and besides I heard you
speaking English to him. Speaking English is very clever; we poor
people could not do that."
Mr. Ferroll looked up and laughed; he had a sheet of paper before
him, on which he was writing some memorandum, and it caught her eye.
"Do you write in English, too, sir?" said she.
"Yes, I do."
"Is that possible?" said the girl, lifting and letting fall her chin
with a slight sigh, and going off to get the coffee. When she had
brought it in, and while she stood looking for some further opening to
conversation, a noise was heard in the outer room; and starting away,
she cried, "The gentlemen," and ran to open the door. In they came,
three in number; and it seemed that they were habitual visitors, whose
arrival was the great event of the day, and for whom all other guests
were to be thrown into the background. Mr. Ferroll observed and
listened, and by force of observation, and questions to the maiden when
she was unoccupied, found they were the great men of Pontaube, who
every day breakfasted at ten, and dined at six, at the sign of the Père
Pierrot, for the sum of four francs, wine included. One was the
inspector of weights and measures; another Jacqueline called the
Lawyer; and the third was the doctor. They sat down as to a pleasant
occasion, each man drew out his napkin from its ring, and prepared
himself for the breakfast of the morning. This day it consisted first
of a dish of cow-heel, and they ate all that; then they had stewed
mutton, and they ate all that. Then came in the glout morceau, a
roasted chicken; and upon the appearance of this dish, the mistress of
the inn herself entered, and sat down to cut it up. She took her place,
and her share in conversation, as if the woman must be the first person
in the society of men, though when she had dissected the chicken, she
ate only bread and butter herself, while they proceeded in their more
"You'll believe me another time, Mr. Beuthe," she said to the
lawyer; "Dreux is really appointed agent at Bordeaux, is he not?"
"Well, but I don't know even now that he is," said Beuthe.
"Madame Filejean is perfectly right, as she always is," said
Lahrotte, the doctor. "I myself believe Dreux is agent at Bordeaux."
"He did not know it last night," said the unbeliever.
"Perhaps not; but this morning," said the lady.
"Ha! you have it from himself!" said Beuthe, spreading his arms, and
"Perhaps I have."
"Well, that will console him for the barrel," said the inspector.
"It was spilled, every drop."
"No, they caught it just falling," said the lawyer.
"Who caught it — who could catch a barrel full of wine?"
"Why Louis himself. He was behind the cart, and saw the board
"Please to forgive me, gentlemen," said the little waitress, whose
back bent backwards, and whose arm stretched over dirty plates which
she was carrying out. "I was passing, I saw it: the great beast of a
horse saw Madame Lère's new bucket at the door, and he snorted so
, and sprang so, all on one side; and the cart jumped over the
large stone in the road; there, you know it, gentlemen; and so the poor
barrel fell with all its weight upon the board of the cart, and broke
the board, with such a crack! and down it came — down!" "Take care
what you are about, Jacqueline," cried Madame Filejean — "the plates,
"Brava, Jacqueline! well told," said the doctor. "Get along, my
little girl." And the girl laughed softly, and went on her errands.
Mr. Ferroll was amused with this little scene out of the life of
Pontaube; and when "the gentlemen" had finished their meal, rose also;
and attaching himself to the doctor, resolved on making acquaintance.
"Is it possible, sir," said the doctor, "that you and your lady
should be travelling for curiosity in the Landes. There's not much to
"We are travelling for health more than anything else," said Mr.
Ferroll. "My wife has gone through great excitement; and a quiet
alteration of scene, where there is something new, and no trouble,
seems to be the best thing for her."
"This is the very place for her then," said the doctor. "I felt it
myself in 1813. I had really been too much interested."
"What, you were really one of the fortunate men who came safe?"
"Not I only, but my horse too. He went through the whole campaign,
and died in his stable years after," said the doctor. "Oh, after all,
matters look worse in a book than in reality. Here I am, as young as I
was then nearly, some good pickings in the bank yonder; and I have
built that houselet there, which I shall have great pleasure in showing
to you, sir."
Mr. Ferroll bowed too; and after he had admired all that was to be
seen in the doctor's house, went on to walk with him about the little
town. The doctor was a widower, he had a son at college, who came home
but seldom. One oldish man composed his whole household, cherished his
carnations, fed his horse, made his bed, mended his stockings, played
écarté with him on a Sunday morning, and kept his floors bright and
slippery, by skating about them with brushes under his shoes. The
doctor was the busy spirit of the town. He had nearly ceased to
practise his profession; but he was very active in promoting everything
that he thought good for the community; and for the most part the
things were good which he judged to be so.
Pontaube is a fishing village, with a bad harbour, rendered better
by a long breakwater, used as a pier, up to the level of which, and
often over it, comes the rude water of Biscay, while at low tide it
leaves the vessels stranded at its side. The construction of this
breakwater was due to the exertions of M. Lahrotte, and he took Mr.
Ferroll with pride and pleasure to see it. It took an angle about the
middle of its length, the better to shelter the port, and in that
point some steep steps went down five-and-twenty or thirty feet to the
sea. Workmen were doing some repairs there at the time — they were
putting a very low edge to the wall, to prevent the falling over of
goods laid upon the pier; but it was necessarily low on account of the
violence of the sea, which would have torn away anything it could have
laid hold of. M. Lahrotte paused here to show his guest the skill of
the arrangement, and to hold a little argument with the workmen; and
while he did so, Mr. Ferroll's attention was caught by the scene which
this spot commanded, and which was beautiful, though the means to make
it beautiful were so small. The tide was swelling in, the hot sun
glancing deep into the water, and filling it with light. A few boats
floated, a few boats were stranded on the shore; the buildings of the
town grouped themselves round the spire of the church; red dresses here
and there gave their spot of bright colour; there was a fig-tree in
deepest green against a grey wall; among the sand were long yellow,
mixed with green, rushes. The air stirred a little from the west, and
breathed a few moments' coolness from across the water. M. Lahrotte
took off his hat, and wiped his head.
"Ha, this is a delicious place," said he.
"You've a deep sense of the good of life," said Mr. Ferroll; "and I
congratulate you on it."
He returned to the inn, pleased as with a Dutch picture; and when
the evening cooled, took Elinor and Janet to look at the things which
had given him pleasure; but when the sun had set, the charm was gone.
It was a lorn and pale scene, and Mrs. Ferroll, though willing to see
its merit, could find no epithet except "very melancholy."
"Do you think so?" said Mr. Ferroll; "then we won't stay here. We'll
order horses for to-morrow morning — and so let's go back to the inn,
for it is getting late."
He accompanied them on their return, and took a book to read to his
wife; but his attention was not fixed as usual; he laid it down now and
then, and talked of things foreign to the subject of the book — he was
thinking of the barrel of wine that burst, and of the servant of M.
Lahrotte; then the great Atlantic rose before him, and his mind's eye
went across to the continent which was now opposite to him, with
nothing interposing. He asked his wife if she would like to go to
Halifax. She asked him what made his thoughts so restless. He did not
know; he said it seemed to him as if there were a tempest approaching
across the vast ocean — or else there was a moral tempest somewhere —
presages of real storms, or their ghosts, were passing about; and he
laughed at himself for the impression; and when she prepared to go to
rest, said he would walk out into the night air, and try to get rid of
the feelings. He did so, and went out to the little pier, which now lay
in solitude, jetting out into the advancing tide. The waves rushed
against it, and dashing up in a sudden influx of water, were broken
with loud murmur, and then seething back, grated over the shingles, and
left a dry space again. The moon was hanging just on the edge of the
horizon, with a brassy dim light, which was reflected over the water,
but which grew dimmer and dimmer as the disc of the moon sank, and left
the heavens and the earth by degrees in the shadow of a summer's night.
Mr. Ferroll walked on musing; his thoughts were full of past scenes,
and of scenes which might yet come to pass. Spectres of pain and part
pleasure passed before him — of things to lose, and of the time when
they should be lost. He came to the part of the pier where it made an
angle, and where the rude steps went down to the beach — but he had
forgotten all; his foot struck against the low parapet which the
workmen had been labouring at. He made a forward step to recover his
balance, and fell sheer down the wall upon the stones below. His
consciousness was not gone; he had not fainted; he was not stunned. He
struggled up, but fell again instantly; his legs bore no weight
whatever. What, were they numbed? Yes, numbed surely — try again. No;
no weight whatever, and the horrible pain. Are they broken? Never,
never — yes, that is the horrible truth — broken — helpless.
"Am I what I was one minute ago?" he thought. "What pain; it grows
to agony — help, help, I say! and the water coming on to suck me in,
to come and go, come and go over me till I die. I won't die so — poor
He tried to move; those free limbs a minute ago were now useless and
agonising logs, tied to the living will; but the strong will moved
them, he grasped the stone and earth with his hands, and dragged
himself to the steps, which were just to be seen in the darkness. On
the lowest he sate, and gnawed his lip for pain. The water was half way
to his knees, and the swell of the next wave rose as high as his
breast. He set his hands firmly on the step, and raised himself one
more. The crushed limbs were dragged after him by the torn flesh and
ligament. One knee was useful still, and setting that and his hands to
work, he found out how to climb the dreadful steps, and neither daring
nor desiring to pause, mounted to the very top by one well-sustained
effort of his will. He had six-and-twenty steps from top to bottom to
surmount. He could hardly have climbed much quicker with his free
limbs, than he did in this ecstasy of agony; but once there, and once
having paused, nature refused to make another effort. The nerves had
sunk from their tension, and what they had just accomplished seemed
But while he lay thus, and he had lain probably a quarter of an
hour, a sound struck his ear of human voices, and he recognised the
plashing of a boat approaching the pier; then hope gave him life again,
and he called loudly. The instant stillness showed that his voice had
alarmed those who were approaching, he thought to hear them in another
moment push off from the pier, and leave him to his fate. He called
again, "I'm an Englishman badly wounded. I'll give you twenty livres at
the Père Pierrot, to carry me there;" for, thought he, they are likely
enough to make an end of me, if they think I have money about me, or if
I offer too much. He repeated the offer eagerly, as the silence lasted,
and as none answered him. Again and again he repeated it; but there was
a perfect silence; and strung up as his ear was to every faintest
sound, he heard nothing — no departing, no moving, no stirring of the
boat — and yet he was plainly alone again.
"Can this last till morning?" he thought, and made an effort to move
again; but it was, or seemed to have become impossible. He saw the
lights of the town, at a distance which seemed to him beyond hope. He
was growing cold and faint, still he stretched and held alive his
faculties, and did not lose them, because he would not.
* He had lain
there he knew not how long, when he thought he heard, and soon was
certain, that he heard a girlish voice sobbing. He lay still, and it
approached. He feared to frighten it away; as it came nearer he
ventured to speak. "My little friend, come here."
Instantly the voice was quite still.
"I am hurt; I beg you to come and help me."
"Papa," said the trembling voice; "pray don't be angry."
"Janet!" he exclaimed; and Janet was at his side.
"What's the matter? Why do you lie there. Are you hurt? Oh, what's
"Are you alone?" he asked.
"Yes; I got softly away, for the landlord said there were dangerous
places; but mamma did not think you would like to be looked for; but I
could not stay then. Papa, papa, what is the matter?"
"I have broken my bones, and am likely enough to die, Jeannie,
unless you have saved my life indeed, by coming to look for me. Good
Jeannie, now mind what I say. Don't cry — run back and call up Capel,
without letting your mother know anything about it. Send him here
instantly, and tell him to bring M. Lahrotte, the surgeon. Then go to
your mother, and say I have broken my leg, neither more nor less, just
those words, and that Capel told you, and you know nothing more about
it. Make no fuss in the hotel. Tell Capel to say nothing till he is out
of the house, and then to call and send as many people as he pleases.
Janet, kiss me. I love your mother — run, but take care."
She obeyed him implicitly; and again he was alone, helpless,
defenceless, he who that very night had been independent, and aloof
from the world. "I have often thought to die, but never of this," he
said; and the nervous feelings of the weak assailed, if they did not
conquer, him. A shudder came over him at the idea of the boat he had
heard approaching, and which he had never heard go away. He more than
once fancied footsteps stealing near him, and which the wind partly
concealed. He imagined the blow of the assailant with horror, though an
hour ago he would have thought of it with scorn.
In an incredibly short time (and Mr. Ferroll was just, and knew how
short it was, though it seemed so long), his servant arrived with
help, and he was lifted upon a stretcher and conveyed towards the
town. M. Lahrotte met him on the way, his breeches knees unbuttoned,
his dressing-gown floating far on the air behind. He asked no
questions, just felt the pulse, and ordered the bearer to his own
house, which was near at hand. Mr. Ferroll said nothing and was laid
upon the floor in the surgeon's room, and the apparatus of the severely
healing art quickly prepared.
"I must write first," he said, raising himself on his elbow; "or
rather you may begin while I write. Capel, pen and paper;" and Capel
obeyed his master, though the surgeon imperiously forbade him.
"MY ELINOR," he wrote, "I am hurt, but in good hands. Come to
me, dearest, when I am settled for the night: and don't come till I
send. You see my hand does not shake, so believe that I am neither too
much hurt, nor in too much pain.
And, in fact, he controlled his hand to form the letters as usual,
though the convulsions of pain involuntarily wrung his frame at
"At last; have you done?" cried Lahrotte, very angry at the delay.
"Thank you — now for it."
The fractures were terrible; one knee crushed, the bone of the other
leg sticking through the skin.
"Can you save the leg?" said Mr. Ferroll.
"Yes, yes." said Lahrotte.
"Well, don't cut it off without giving me the choice," said Mr.
The skilful surgeon performed his part with dexterity. The quivering
machine was pieced again, the broken frame put together like some
frail fine china, and as far as the surgeon was concerned, all
independently of the agony which the living subject went through. He
was placed in bed, and sent for Elinor; when she came, all the
apparatus of pain had been removed; and though he told her the whole
truth, he told it with her hand so tenderly held in his, and it was his
own living voice that spoke in such fond and soothing accents, that she
went through the shock without succumbing to it, without the frail
frame he had been so anxiously nursing, losing all the strength it had
so recently gained.
The first few days were days of extreme distress. The surgeon could
not tell whether the limb most injured must be amputated or not, and
Mr. Ferroll knew as well as he what were his doubts. His frame had
received so great a shock, that his strong nerves still vibrated, like
bells in the gale of a tempest. The ideas within his mind got shape
and sound like the vibrations hidden in the bell. "I have thought to
die often," he repeated to himself, half aloud, "but never, never
thought of this."
This was the thought that haunted him awake; when he slept, or
approached to sleeping, the impressions of the dreadful minutes when he
lay helpless on the pier, were uppermost. The boat that had approached,
and whose retreat he had never heard, was a spectre to him; the
impression of foes coming from that mysterious boat to kill him,
defenceless, brooded over him. Janet was the person who had interfered
between the darkness and him, whose living real voice he had heard;
and she it was whom he now involuntarily associated with relief.
"Janet," he would say sometimes, rousing from his troubled sleep,
and if she were there to answer him, his thoughts and feelings resumed
more easily their natural channel, so that she found her presence was
really useful, and no exertion on her part was so much as thought of in
comparison with that pleasure, night and day she was by his bedside; he
was so important an object in the eyes of all, that her interest quite
vanished from their sight, and she was allowed to tax her strength to
the utmost. Mrs. Ferroll, who had but so lately revived from excessive
exertion of her nerves, resisted in vain this new attack. She had no
strength to use, and she sank under her own efforts to put some forth.
The doubt, the fear, how so violent a shock might work upon her
husband's life, the consciousness that any hour might develop an
unfavourable change, overpowered her. When near him, it was impossible
for her to prevent the big tears from following one another down her
cheek; and she had no voice to answer the tender anxious words which
she knew might be the very last she should ever hear. Janet would have
comforted her, but had nothing but caresses to offer, and of these she
was prodigal; coming at the intervals when she was dismissed from her
father's room, to comfort her mother, and as active and diligent in
rendering her such service as might make the outside of life easy, as
in soothing and sharing the sorrow within.
This helpfulness of Janet's greatly took the fancy of the doctor. He
rejoiced in seeing her always at hand, always able to do any service,
however disagreeable; always neat, always pretty. The doctor was seldom
without a project; and it came into his head that he might make a
match between his son and his patient's daughter, much to the
advantage of the former.
"Mademoiselle," said he to Capel, Mr. Ferroll's servant, "is a very
serviceable young lady; I dare say she has money also?"
But Capel was an English, not a French servant, and far from
confidential. "Yes, sir."
"How many brothers has she, pray?" asked M. Lahrotte.
"An only daughter?"
Capel did not answer at all, only went on rubbing the table bright.
"By your laws," said Lahrotte musingly, "does the daughter or the
proprietor's brother succeed to the fortune?"
"Can't tell, indeed, sir."
"Mr. Ferroll has brothers?"
"And plainly he is rich? You send to Bordeaux, Mr. Capel, regardless
of expense, whenever your master takes the smallest fancy, or whenever
I so much as suggest something that may be useful."
"Where is Mr. Ferroll's home pray, when he is at home?"
"The Tower, sir."
"The Tower? oh, yes, I know where the Tower is. Your master is
guardian of the Tower is he, where you keep traitors, and cut off
Capel resorted to silence, not understanding the flight M.
Lahrotte's imagination had taken.
"Has Mr. Ferroll anything to do in their trials then?" asked
"But he takes pleasure, perhaps, in seeing that kind of spectacle?"
"Does mademoiselle see them also?"
"Do you see them pray, Mr. Capel?"
"The heads cut off?"
"And pray what brought a guardian of your famous Tower to this
remote part — an English whim?"
"No, sir, the packet-boat."
"Ha, ha," quietly laughed Lahrotte to himself, "how thick he is. But
I mean, was the money spent a little too fast in England, and so was it
useful, perhaps, to come where money goes a great way, where lodging is
two francs instead of two English pounds?"
"I don't know the charges, sir."
"But Mr. Ferroll does."
"Don't know, sir."
M. Lahrotte shrugged his shoulders, and could not understand him;
but he felt certain the Ferrolls were rich — rich at least for the
Landes, and yet, perhaps, embarrassed a little, and not unwilling to
leave their handy little English girl in a house which would become her
own, when he, an old man, should die. He wrote, therefore, to his son
to leave his college for the next three months, and to take up his
residence for the time under the paternal roof — a summons young César
Lahrotte was willing enough to comply with. He was very little like
his Roman namesake; to hear them call César, and to see this
long-haired quiet lad approach, one could not but think at first of
the fate the same sound may go through in the world. To have belonged
to the man at whom the world grew pale, and now to belong to the lad
who grew pale at everybody in the world. And yet young Lahrotte was
merely simple, not a fool. In book-learning he was very much advanced;
and having been extremely well taught at school, he was in a fair way
to be ready for any mode of earning his bread which his father should
M. Lahrotte introduced him to the sick bed of Mr. Ferroll, and was
anxious to show him off to the greatest advantage both before the
father and daughter. But the young man sat with his hands crossed on
his knee, his head on one side, and his mouth a little open, answering
all that Janet tried to say to him before she had finished, and before
he could have understood her, with an "Oh, yes, mademoiselle," which
thoroughly disheartened her in her attempts. Mr. Ferroll was rather
amused than otherwise by the embarrassment both of his daughter and his
guest; and he perceived that the young man felt relieved whenever he
himself addressed some question to him on the subject of his education;
and it occurred to him to turn César to account, by making him a reader
of such books as Janet could not undertake. Before the end of his first
visit, therefore, he had put a Latin author into his hand, and before
the end of the reading was pleased with him, for he read with
understanding, and gave the hearer the satisfaction of going along both
with the author and the reader.
"Come again, will you," he said, "to-morrow? I can't manage that
book comfortably in my present posi- tion, and your reading is very
useful to me." So young César was sent by his father every morning,
whether he wanted to go angling in the river, or catching crabs on the
shore, and sometimes wished he need not have gone to read; but it did
not occur to Mr. Ferroll to inquire whether it suited César or not. The
father and son came to an understanding on the matter. "Persevere, my
dear," said M. Lahrotte; "Mr. Ferroll is very rich, and very proud; he
will not like to be under obligation to anybody, and he will make you a
present, or he will advance you to some good place."
"Does the reading go much against you, César?"
"No, I am sometimes interested in it; but this morning I was just in
the midst of a shoal of little fish, when the tide was leaving."
"That is rather childish for a boy of your age," said the father,
frowning. "You are of an age to think of better things; you might even
keep house yourself if you had a wife." César laughed.
"Why not, César? I have sometimes thought that the little Ferroll
might be a match for you; she has money, and she has certainly beauty."
César looked at his father, doubting if such could really be his
meaning; and when he saw no symptoms of the contrary, the idea fell
upon him, as if some one had proposed that he should have been king of
France, or bishop of the diocese.
"Miss Ferroll, father! yes, she is rich, and she's beautiful, that's
very certain. Why, of course, she is to marry an English milord, not me
— me who am at school, me whom she sees come in and out like the
"In what way do you mean?"
am a little dog to her."
"Don't be too sure of that, my boy — rich as these people seem,
there's no doubt they must be embarrassed for money, or they would not
be here. Mr. Ferroll's appointments in the Tower of London are, I doubt
not, great, but possibly the chief part may die with him, and then,
though I firmly believe he leaves considerable sums behind him — for
he has never felt any anxiety about his wife, and daughter, while in
his present danger — then I say, a husband ready provided for the
pretty young girl may not be without attraction for the prudent father.
And you, César, don't think too little of yourself; you are your
father's only child, and your father has not spent his long life in
vain. This little property of ours, this jewel of a house, and three
fields, let us say they are worth twelve thousands francs; in the
bourse at Paris let us say there are six thousand more — my pension,
you know, is two thousand; enough to live upon certainly, so that much
of what is besides, multiplies and accumulates, and when I die, César,
all this is yours — you hear me, my son."
César heard with all the enjoyment which the sudden possession of a
new sense could give. To see himself in the light of a rich man, of a
good match, as a man to be somewhat esteemed on account of his
expectations, was as delightful, as it had been hitherto by the prudent
reserve of his father a secret to him. He had been taught that he must
depend upon his own exertions, and that his hard work at school was
essential to the future support of his life; and, indeed, nothing but
the necessity of raising his self-esteem to the point of aspiring to
Janet could have induced his father to reveal, and even exaggerate,
those possessions which would one day descend from his own hands to
those of the young Lahrotte.
But it was with less confidence that he approached the subject with
Mr. Ferroll; for however plausible the scheme seemed when he had it all
his own way in his own head, it lost some of its appearance of ease,
when it came to be submitted to a less prejudiced eye. Lahrotte was
sitting by the bed-side of his patient, and to-day he had not taken
any pains to present the case in its most favourable point of view; not
that he said anything to give alarm, but he insensibly, nay
unconsciously to himself, let the conversation take rather a sad tone,
feeling that the project he had to propose was rather a remedy in case
of evil than a positive good. "In my old age," he said, "I am quite
contented indeed to be at rest. I would not be young again, sir, I
would not be what I was, when I expected to die field-marshal, nay,
king if you will, even if all those expectations might be fulfilled."
"You are like a man in sight of the inn for the night, and glad of
it, though it be not quite the grand resting place you expected."
"Exactly, sir; I have seen too much of the discontentment that goes
with the attainment of the highest wishes — men who get what they
have always wanted, want more — it is best to get some good thing one
did not want, though it be less than the good one first proposed to
"Let me see," said Mr. Ferroll, smiling; "if you had been made
field-marshal you would have been discontented, you would have wished
to become the emperor; but you are pleased at being the first
gentleman in Pontaube, because to be so, never entered your head."
"And at having a son of whom I may be justly proud."
"Aye; your son — domestic affections take the place of ambition."
"Yet ambition is not extinct since it has an object in my son; I
don't say I look for any wonderful elevation for him — he is my only
treasure, I am old, and wish to see him settled near me. My means are,
and will be, his means; and to see him marry a lady whom his heart and
my reason should approve, would be the summit, I confess, of my
"Marry! oh, you take that line for him? what, has he fallen in love?
no, no; I understand now, you have cast your eyes on Jeannie for him."
M. Lahrotte coughed and took a pinch of snuff — the unveiling of
his project was rather abrupt. Mr. Ferroll was silent, and he was
obliged to say something. "Miss Ferroll, sir, is a lady ......"
"A child rather," said her father, "about whom no doubt her mother
has formed many ambitious designs; but not I. Your idea is not a bad
one; it is new to me, that is all; but it strikes me, as having
"If you knew my son as I do ......" said Lahrotte.
"Of course — of course."
"If you knew the state of my affairs ......"
"Yes; and if you knew mine." Lahrotte looked a little anxious.
"As for money," said Mr. Ferroll, after a moment or two, "there
would be plenty; in this cheap country they would be lords."
"Then you would not consider it indispensable that she should marry
"By no means whatever."
"And without great wealth, an honest competence might, without
presumption, be offered her?"
"Oh yes, an honest competence would do very well, considering what
besides her own would be."
"And to my son, sir, you see no objection?"
"Not I; but it is not I who shall marry him."
"So young a lady ......"
"Oh, but young ladies have their own wills in England; I don't
answer anything for Jeannie; myself only I can speak about; and as far
as I know, on so sudden a view of the matter, there are advantages in
Lahrotte was surprised as much as he was pleased by this reception
of his hint; indeed, the hint had been converted into a positive
proposal, a thing which he had not anticipated, but at which he was
much delighted. He told his son what had passed, and César was less
surprised than he was; for ever since the conversation in which his
father had revealed his undreamed of expectations, his thoughts had
been running more upon his own unexpected importance than on the merits
of anybody else.
When he saw Janet again, he meant to wear the air of a prosperous
lover, but in her total unconsciousness of his pretensions, she treated
him with such quiet superiority, and seemed so entirely uninterested
in what became of him, that his success was bounded by his own
meditations; and he sometimes pursued these triumphantly with an
imaginary Janet, while the real Janet by his side was the last person
to whom he would have dared address anything aloud beyond the ordinary
forms of conversation. It startled him occasionally from the most
agreeable day-dreams to have her find something to say to him; and the
habitual "Oh, yes, mademoiselle," with which he answered her, was
quickly said and quickly forgotten, to pursue his own dream, of a
parlour belonging to himself in the paternal house, with a rich wife
sitting opposite to him sewing.
Lahrotte thought it would promote courtship to send Miss Ferroll out
walking with César, and to do her good, as he explained it to her
mother, he prescribed an early walk every morning by the sea-side, and
César was then to protect her from the dogs or boys of the town. Mrs.
Ferroll had no objection, César being in her eyes, very much on a level
with the dogs and boys; and Mr. Ferroll laughed and asked Janet if it
was not good-natured in the young man to be found regularly, thus early
at her service. Janet sometimes walked and sometimes stayed at home;
and gave herself a good deal of trouble, to find subjects on which
César could say anything. "Are you obliged to be up very early at your
pension, Mr. César?"
"Very early," said César.
"At what o'clock?"
"Five, or half-past, mademoiselle."
"Do you like being up so early, Mr. César?"
"I don't mind it, mademoiselle."
"Do all the scholars get up equally early?"
Early rising was pretty well exhausted, and they walked on in
silence. "The steamboat is come in I suppose," said Janet, observing a
few people advancing from the pier, bearing parcels, or a hamper, and
one man walking along with an umbrella in his hand.
"Yes," said César; "the tide is high at seven this morning; they
could come alongside the pier early."
"Yes, so they could," said Janet. At that moment. she stopped
walking altogether, and César got ahead of her without observing it;
then turned round to see what had become of her, and Janet ran by him,
and up to the man walking with an umbrella, saying eagerly, "Oh, Hugh,
what is it you really? How are you? how are you?"
"How d'ye do, Janet?" said young Bartlett, for it was himself. "I
heard all about Mr. Ferroll, so I came over to see him. How is he?"
"Oh, papa is so much better; and it is very good-natured of you
indeed. I am very glad to see you."
"Is he what?"
"Oh, he will be of course, when he knows you are come. Are you
tired, Hugh? When did you set out?"
"Not tired, certainly; but very dusty you see. Can I have a room
somewhere, do you think, Janet?"
"Oh, yes; there's an inn close by us. We are at Monsieur
Lahrotte's...... Oh, dear ...... That is Mr. César Lahrotte — Mr.
Bartlett," introducing them. "We are at Mr. César Lahrotte's father's,
who has been extremely clever, and most kind about poor papa."
"Perhaps all this will make you come back sooner — won't it?" said
Hugh, walking slowly away by Janet's side, and both of them quite
forgetting César, who stood looking at them a little while, and then
went to search for crabs in the ebb of the tide.
"Perhaps; papa can't travel you know, so we might as well, and
better, come back and be quiet at the Tower."
"You'd be sorry not to go into Spain and Italy?"
"No, indeed; I don't think I like travelling very much. I thought I
should have liked it better."
"Indeed; indeed, Janet? Why don't you like it?"
"I can't tell hardly. I often think of the Tower, and how cool it
must be, and how the flowers are coming out, with nobody to look at
"That they don't exactly, for there's hardly a day but what I find
myself in your garden."
"Well, but even you are away now."
"You'd be glad if the
flowers could come to you?"
"Not so glad as to see you," said Janet. "I'm very glad to see you."
So she was — so was Mrs. Ferroll. A familiar face in the monotonous
place, a friendly action performed in their favour, a friend come from
so far on account of the interest he felt in them, was very acceptable
to these female hearts. Less impression seemed to be made on Mr.
Ferroll. When he heard of Hugh Bartlett's arrival, he said, "Pshaw!
what unnecessary trouble;" and though he received him courteously,
there was something in his manner which threw back any self-confidence
or hope to please, which there might be in the young man's feelings.
"You are going to see the world, are you?" said he. "Do you propose
crossing the Pyrenees, or going by sea?"
"I have not exactly thought," said Hugh, embarrassed, for he had no
object in the world except to see Janet, and Janet's father.
"You had better go over the mountains then, and get to the east
coast of Spain. There is very fine country to be seen."
"I hope you will be better soon," said Hugh.
"I? oh, yes, in time.
We shall go back home when I can move."
"I should be glad if I could be of any use to you."
"Oh, thank you, thank you; don't you trouble yourself about us. We
shall all do very well."
"Without me?" said Hugh; "yes, I know you will — but
"And then," said Mr. Ferroll, interrupting him, "I advise you to go
on into the East. It will be a good thing for you to travel a little,
as you don't intend to stay any longer at Oxford."
"I have no thought of travelling," said the young man, doggedly.
"Well, I would if I were you; but even to do as much as you are
doing is good. You must go into the Pyrenees at all events; and before
you go, I will look over some books I have, for an excellent guide to
the Mountains. I am afraid I can't do it to-day, but perhaps you are
not in such haste as that."
Hugh answered nothing at all. It made his heart go backward to hear
the plans of Mr. Ferroll for his departure from among them, and for a
totally separate interest, which he and Janet were to pursue. He and
Janet! who he thought ought to have but one path in life. "And why
not?" he repeated to himself. "If I could gain her love, where am I so
greatly deficient? I have done no great wrong in the world. I am young;
but I shall mend of that. I have got an estate, which is not anything
very wonderful to be sure — I don't mean it is; but it would make my
Janet comfortable. I wish I knew more history, and Greek, and
chronology; but then she never seems to care whether I do or not; but
I suppose that must be what Mr. Ferroll means. I do wish I had read
more," continued he, and he took up a book which lay on the table — a
history of Rodriguez, King of Spain. He read a page and a-half, asked
himself whether the Moors were still in Spain — forgot to answer —
thought of Janet's light activity in climbing the rocks, and walked out
to the pier, where he meditated while he made ducks and drakes in the
"That young fellow," said Mr. Ferroll, to his wife, as she sate by
his bedside, "has got some fancy about Janet into his head —
"Poor boy — ridiculous!" said Mrs. Ferroll; for such was the
accepted mode of treating the subject.
"When does he go away?" said Mr. Ferroll. "You must hasten him —
"How can I, Paul? He does no more harm here than at the Tower, does
"Harm — oh, no; only Janet is such a child, that she might be
flattered by anybody in the world who thought himself in love with her;
and it is just as well to avoid scenes."
"Oh, she is as you say, such a child; besides she knows ......"
"What does she know, Elinor?"
"Why; she knows Hugh is not the kind of person ......indeed she has
never thought at all."
"I like the way parents dispose of their children here. They still
settle the marriage, and then show the children to each other; and
being the first thing of the kind that has occurred to either, they of
"It is not the way
"No, indeed; there are exceptions of course, and our way would not
do for the rule, let me tell you that."
"Except that I never for a moment ceased to love you through all
that bitter trial."
"Nor I you, Elinor."
"You only married another woman," said Elinor, smiling, and
caressing his hand.
"Yes, what a madman; how desperate, how frantic of me, and of that
poor woman! Elinor, there are some things one has done, which as one
grows older, one feels could not be done again; no, not even for the
blessedness of being your husband."
"It was not a good plan with a view to that, to marry another," said
Elinor, again smiling.
Mr. Ferroll looked at her inquiringly, and then smiled also. "I
should not be sorry," he said, "to see Janet marry César."
"César! Janet — César Lahrotte! the doctor's son. Who
"I thought we were talking just now about Janet marrying; it is not
necessary to marry in England. I even think for a woman, France is a
better country. In the first place, she would be very rich here,
instead of moderately so in England. If married young, she would be
safe from all speculators upon her fortune. César is a good lad, a
"But such a young cub, such a child; why, Ferroll, if you want her
married young, and rich, and to a dutiful son, what's your objection to
"Hugh," said Mr. Ferroll, the colour passing over his face; "oh,
that's quite out of the question."
"Well, perhaps, but César is more so; oh, inexpressibly more."
"My dearest, then let César be; I am sure I don't care for him."
"Hugh has more sense if he has less reading; has good connections;
he loves Janet I do believe as far as such a young lad can."
"Aye, as you say; they are both mere children. Oh, it's not to be
thought of." With that he begged his wife to read to him, and the
With Janet also he had a word to say against Hugh Bartlett. The
young squire had not profited much by the teachings he had received;
and when he was forced into display of his proficiency, the exhibition
was not in his favour. Thus the few words of French which necessity
wrung from him in company with the Lahrottes, generally contained
three-fourths of mistake. Mr. Ferroll did not spare his colloquial
deficiencies in talking of him to his daughter. "César reads with a
good intonation enough," said he; "he read the passage I wanted, in Les
Horaces, so that I could enjoy it."
"I am glad of that, papa."
"That's what Hugh says, poor dear Hugh. 'Je suis très heureux de
cela;' he says to Lahrotte — 'très heureux de cela!' poor dear Hugh."
Janet answered nothing; but her thoughts were unlike what her father
supposed. "It is bad French, to be sure; but César could not
speak to him even in bad English."
Things went on in an uninterrupted course notwithstanding these
conversations. Mr. Ferroll's will was so strong, that it habitually
carried all before it, and being certain of attaining its end, he
neglected the intermediate steps. Whether Janet married César or not,
he did not care, but that she should not marry his young neighbour was
a fixed point with him. He did not trouble himself about what happened
in the time between; whether they saw much or little of each other he
did not care; they did not disobey even his wishes in doing so, nor did
he offer any other kind of obstacle to their meeting, except an
habitual attack upon the young man's intellectual acquirements, with
which he amused himself, and never met with so much as contradiction
from Janet. But Janet was happy in walking and talking with her old
companion; they were both so young, and they were so intimate, and they
had their homes and their interests to converse about; and they climbed
difficult places with strength of limb and lightness of heart, and were
never tired with long walks, or with rides upon queer obstinate horses.
Hugh was very seriously in love; but he could never approach the
subject with Mr. Ferroll, though the time for his departure came near,
and he felt that he could not prolong it. He had fixed it himself when
he came, at what seemed to him then a considerable distance, and one
which would certainly see Janet his affianced bride; but now it seemed
coming very quickly, and nothing had been followed up by love avowals,
for she still looked on the subject as one which it was naughty
to talk about; one forbidden in the nursery, and nothing had released
her from the obligation of avoiding it, more than when he called her
once his little wife, and both had incurred such serious displeasure.
Marrying was far from her thoughts — to change her maiden state, and
her home, had never been the subject of her talk; she loved Hugh
kindly, and so she did his sisters. Hugh himself had more knowledge of
the world, and perhaps the unaccountable difficulties of his present
pursuit added to his inclination for it. It perplexed him to find out
why Mr. Ferroll so objected to him. "Your father advises me to go to
the Pyrenees; to travel down the Mediterranean, and across somewhere
into Africa. I don't mean to do it, Janet."
"I would, I think, if I were a man."
"And I would go where you go, Janet. If you travel I will travel,
but I'll go home when you do."
"If you do, I shall be very glad."
"Shall you, dear Janet; what really?"
"Oh, yes, really."
"When's your birthday?"
"The 19th of October."
"And mine — my coming-of-age birthday, I mean — is the year after
next, 15th of December. You'll be at home then."
"Oh, no doubt, I think."
"And I shall have learned a great deal before I am of age; I am no
boy now, and older men than he treat me as a man, and look upon me as
one. Does Mr. Ferroll like people to be in Parliament?"
"Yes, though he never would be a member himself; but I remember
hearing him say to Lord Ewyas, that he ought to put his son into
Parliament as soon as he came of age."
"Did he? Well, I always thought of getting in myself — that is, if
I could. I will; I'll talk about it with Rodenham when I get home.
Your father will hear of my first speech in Parliament."
"What will it be about?"
"Oh, Janet, I don't know, but perhaps, then, when he sees I can
speak to an audience like that, he will have a higher opinion of me
than he has now."
"I am sure, I think, he has a high opinion now."
"You are sure, you think, Janet? Ah! I wish he had, then
"I am sure I have," said Janet, frankly.
"And something more, my dear, dear Janet; something answering to all
the love there is here for you?"
Janet looked round frightened; then answered as it had been
instilled into her to answer, "I love you, of course, Hugh, quite as
much as I do any of your sisters."
"That has been taught you," cried Hugh; "it is not the natural
answer of such a girl as you. Do they say then you are never to marry?"
"Nobody says anything about that," said Janet.
"What, do they never say, 'When Janet marries,' or 'when you are
married,' or things of that sort?"
"Oh, yes, they may say that perhaps."
"Only it must not be me," said Hugh, in a low voice, as if
commenting to himself; "their nearest neighbour, their most intimate
acquaintance, the most natural person in the world to marry their
daughter, if they did but like me — what can it be? Janet," he said
abruptly, "did you ever hear your father say what he thought it most
necessary for a man to know who wants to get into Parliament?"
"I have heard him say that a good knowledge of the History of
England was indispensable, and of the constitutional history."
"Did he? I'll read it again then; Hume and Mrs. Macauley, and a
great many more; you know, they are all on the right hand of the
halldoor into the library."
These, and similar resolutions, had an ultimate object, of course;
they referred to his secret suit with Janet, which was so unaccountably
checked even in the bud by Mr. Ferroll's distaste to it. But Hugh,
unable as he was to perceive any valid reason for the opposition, ever
looked to the future as certain to produce a better result, and aimed
at this or that effort, hopeful that it would be the one that would
bring him into favour; but one morning he had taken a walk with César,
and was standing looking at the young man eagerly employed in setting a
brick trap for little birds, the produce of the traps lying by, in the
person of six sparrows, which César said would make an excellent
"How childish he is," thought Hugh; and as he thought so, César
said, "I wonder if Mademoiselle Jeannette knows how to cook them; she
must learn from Mère Marguerite."
"Why so?" asked Hugh, not seeing the concatenation.
"On pense à nous marier; vous le savez bien sans doute," said Cé.
Hugh's ideas, both English and French, were overthrown, and driven
to utter incomprehensibility and confusion, and he found no other word
in which to express them than this one — "Quoi?" César looked up from
his trap, and coloured; but he again asserted the fact, giving it to be
understood that the two fathers had come to the arrangement.
"Et Janet?" said Hugh, struggling for some French. "Sait
Mademoiselle Janet, qu'elle doit vous marier?"
"M'épouser?" said César: "mais, je ne vous dirais pas."
"Et pour quoi ne direz vous moi pas?" cried Hugh, vehemently.
César shrugged his shoulders, "Mais parceque je ne sais pas," said
The young Englishman felt like a man knocked down, and unable to
recover his dizzy senses. César was again busy with the trap, and Hugh
walked away, hardly knowing that he did so. "What does the fellow
mean?" thought he. "He says he won't tell me, and but
because he does not know. What does he pretend to mean, marry?
épouser, as he calls it — épouser, indeed — épouser César Lahrotte;
yet he is too great a fool to invent it all." The superior advantage of
a match with himself, except so far as for some reason or other he was
hateful to Mr. Ferroll, could not, and did not escape his common sense;
why did Mr. Ferroll so dislike him? That evening was the last but two
that he was to spend at Pontaube. He begged Janet to walk with him when
Mr. and Mrs. Ferroll were engaged together, she in reading to him, he
very little desirous of the presence of any other person. Therefore, he
heard Hugh's request, and Janet's acquiescence, with indifference,
nodding at once his approbation to his daughter's inquiring look,
before she agreed to the walk. It was a still, fine evening; the sea
broke quietly along the beach, the set sun still coloured the waves,
the gentle air came with delicious coolness after the heat of the day.
They walked quietly on, and Hugh was less full of talk than usual.
"To-day seemed a long way off when I came first," he said at last, "but
here it is, and the day after to-morrow close at hand, and I cannot
prevent it; I did not think it would have been such a day as this."
"It is come very soon," said Janet; "I wish we were going
"And perhaps you will never come back."
"Never come back — why so?"
"Do you really know nothing that should keep you here for ever —
that should part us entirely — that would make us no longer friends?"
"What do you mean, Hugh?"
"Nothing about César Lahrotte?"
"Poor little César; no, he can have nothing to do with anybody, I
"Janet, I tell you the truth; it is too true, your father, Mr.
Ferroll, means you to marry him." Janet stood still, and fixed her eyes
full on Hugh's face for a few seconds; that was before she realized the
truth of what he said to her — then a blush began to spread over her
face, the first Hugh had ever caused, and suddenly she hid it with her
hands, and turned away from him speechless.
"Will you marry him, Jeannie?"
"Oh, what can my father mean?" she cried; "to marry anybody has been
the very last thing he let me think of."
"Yet he means you for that young idiot; he means to leave you behind
with those base people in a foreign land; in a state of life of which
you have no idea; you, Janet, whom ......" Hugh took her hand,
and Janet clung to his like one who wants protection.
"I can't do that, Hugh; I cannot stay here. I care for nothing here;
yet, if he has resolved, I shall do it. Oh, I hope he has not resolved."
"Janet, you know that I love you better than anything in the world.
I will defend you even against Mr. Ferroll, if you do but say you want
"Only, Hugh, I cannot stay here."
"And will you not go with me, dear, dearest Janet? It is not a time
to be children any longer. I have a right to ask you, and you have a
right to listen to me, and this time I do solemnly, earnestly entreat
you, my Janet, say whether you can love me." Janet was silent, too
full and hasty a crowd of feeling was breaking through the barrier of
her thoughts. "We've been friends always," said he, "dear friends; you
know me and all my faults, and you must know also how dearly, deeply,
how long I have loved you — be content to love me in return; to
confess that you love me; I think, I hope, I almost believe you can one
day say so." And truly Janet's eyes were unbandaged, and she began to
know it in her secret soul. The idea "why should not I?" had crept in;
the unanswerable question which as yet Mr. Ferroll had kept unasked.
is true," cried Hugh, pressing her in his arms;
"without words you have answered me — you will be, you are my own
Janet. Now I can go boldly to your father, and I will; I have a right
But Janet withheld him. She felt her father's eye upon her, and
heard him ask if it were really true that she loved this young man; and
she knew perfectly well she should say no. "Don't go; I shall never see
you again if you do; I can't disobey him. I have never thought of it,"
said Janet. And Hugh in vain besought, remonstrated, grew angry, grew
miserable. Janet wept, Janet trembled, but he felt that the idea of
belonging to him was as yet too new and unfixed to give her courage to
assert it. The nearer be brought it, the more she shrank from it; and
at the last he was forced to confess to himself that the miserable
expedient of having recourse to time, was the best that could suggest
itself, though time to a young man seems the very dullest comforter
that exists in the world.
Hugh went away. Mr. Ferroll saw the parting between him and his
daughter, and understood how matters stood between them. They, however,
thought their affair unknown to anybody. That day Mr. Ferroll talked
about him kindly and justly; Janet's feelings which were alive enough,
were not injured by anything he said; by the end of the day they were
soothed, and at the same time further than ever from opposing
themselves to her father's will. He had talked confidentially to her,
and joined her in conversation with her mother, telling both,
particulars of his affairs, letting Janet know something of the fortune
she was to expect from him, and discussing with both, the project he
had for an essay, of which the materials were before him, and in
displaying which, his fine imagination and strong power caught the mind
of his hearers. He said nothing directly about forbidding any
intercourse between her and Hugh; he did not see her receive the letter
from him which came a few days after, but he saw her blush when he
purposely made a wrong guess as to whither the young man was gone. He
said, "Has not Hugh written to you, Janet?" and she felt so terribly,
desperately, grateful to him for not asking to see his letter, that the
only one she wrote to her young lover, was to beseech him not to write
The post which that morning brought several letters to Mr. Ferroll,
seemed to have a malign influence over him. He opened them in the
presence of Mrs. Ferroll, and one after the other gave them to her,
except a few which were bills or receipts, and which he put by on the
other side. Janet, who watched him unobserved with the most assiduous
care, saw him, as he read one of these, colour for an instant with a
sudden flush, and gnaw his lip, though the betrayal of his feelings was
but momentary. That letter went aside with the uninteresting ones; Mrs.
Ferroll did not know it was there; but before long, he contrived a
pretence for being alone, and then he took the letter out again from
its concealment, and read it deliberately, and sadly through.
When M. Lahrotte came to him that day, he told him that it was very
possible there might be an absolute necessity for him to go to England.
"Which is quite impossible," said the surgeon.
"No; at least it is not impossible that I should try. It may be more
impossible to stay; but I tell you, in order that you may do anything
you think necessary in preparation."
"But what kind of business could that be which should oblige you to
kill yourself?" asked Lahrotte.
"To tell you the truth, a person's life may depend on my journey. My
personal testimony may be essential respecting a circumstance which
occurred when I was a young man; and if it be so, I will go at every
kind of risk — my life, and anything else. But for my part, I don't
believe the journey need kill me? Do you think it would?"
"Kill — no, perhaps not; but all hopes of a cure would be at an
end. You must be lame for life."
"Well, life may not be very long," said Mr. Ferroll "But I
go, if necessary."
"It would be grievous for mademoiselle." said Lahrotte, after a
pause, "if any evil should happen to you."
"Very, very," said Mr. Ferroll.
"And if you could resolve upon the scheme I have suggested."
"Well, I'll tell you frankly, that if I must go to England, it would
be a remarkable relief to me to leave her behind, a married woman, with
a house where she could receive whomsoever she liked — her mother, or
any one. If things were managed as easily with us as with you, it
should be done; but our girls learn traditionally to choose for
themselves, and father and mother have in fact nothing but a veto, and
not always that."
"At all events your veto is not upon my son?" said the surgeon.
"Oh, dear, no."
Nothing more was said at this time on the subject. M. Lahrotte was
very anxious to keep his patient quiet, and would not have said so much
about his personal danger, had not his mind been very much upon
securing the handy and moneyed young Englishwoman. He found Mr.
Ferroll's pulse was higher than it had been since the first days of the
accident, and he hastened to close the conversation, and hoped to
repair what ill might have been done by offering to send César to read
to him. But Mr. Ferroll refused, and said he would be alone for a
little while. When they returned to him, his mind seemed to have
regained its perfect equilibrium, that indeed had hardly been
disturbed for an instant; but the effect of hurried and eager thoughts
on his body at this moment was like the too hasty swelling of a flame
within a ball of glass. It set in motion causes which the frame was
not powerful enough to resist; the impetuous blood flowed too
unrestrainedly through the weak vessels; fever came on, sudden though
slight twitchings ran through his frame, and he himself knew the danger
that was arising of some strong convulsion in the disorganised nerves,
ending all in a few moments. He called Lahrotte to him, and pointed out
the symptoms, or rather told that he himself had observed them, and
asked him how far the danger was imminent. The surgeon instinctively
replied there was none. Mr. Ferroll shook his head impatiently. "Nay,"
he said, "don't treat me like a child. I see and know myself what my
state is; but I can't judge so accurately as you, and I really should
be glad to have your opinion whether I shall die or not."
Thus adjured, Lahrotte resolved on a finer artifice than the base
denial of all danger. He considered what it would be best to say,
taking into account the kind of patient he had to deal with, and
arranged his ideas accordingly. "I think," he said, "that something
agitates your mind, and causes this temporary alteration for the worse.
Is not it so?"
"Not at all. A letter that I got made my thoughts surge for a short
time; but the subject is one very habitually before me. It does not
agitate me the least in the world now."
"No; but it has done so, and your frame does not recover its
equilibrium after any disturbance in its present state."
"That's it, I dare say. And you think it never may, I suppose?"
"I don't deny the possibility."
"But do you think I shall die? or don't you think so?" said Ferroll,
"I think," said Lahrotte, "I believe if you will have my sincere
shall," said Mr. Ferroll, in a voice so suddenly
calm, that it was like that of a person relieved from pain.
"This eccentric Saxon wishes to die," said the surgeon to himself.
"Certainly, sir, it may be so," he said aloud in a melancholy voice,
and his quick gray eye watched his patient covertly.
Mr. Ferroll heaved a sigh — a sigh of relief rather than any other
expression, as M. Lahrotte thought. "Call my little Jeannie, will you?"
said he, in a quieter voice than he had yet spoken. "I've something to
say to her alone; and then come back if you please." M. Lahrotte did
all he was desired, first conveying a few dark drops into a glass of
water, and administering them to his patient without making any
"Janet," said Mr. Ferroll, "I'm not so well to-day as I have been;
and I've some idea I may die. Why, Janet, of course you've thought of
that as possible. Now listen — your mother, some little time ago,
would have been firm enough to hear this; but she has suffered, and
cannot yet bear to suffer again. She must suffer, alas! but she
won't bear up at first. You will have to do all — therefore remember,
if I die, to write directly to Mr. Harrowby. You know his direction,
"Yes," said the trembling girl.
"He knows what to do; he has all my papers; there are directions at
home to apply to him, which Elinor would have found if we had been
there; but as we are here, I tell you, which will do as well. I'm very
weak. I feel like a man going to rest, Janet."
"Papa, my dear, dear father," said Janet, sinking on her knees
"Don't you know
this?" he said: "a deep sleep after a long
day of toil, is what men covet most." Then he added, "When I am dead,
marry the one you love best, Janet. Freely, truly, I consent; and now
tell Lahrotte I am very easy — he may come or not."
Lahrotte came, felt his pulse, said nothing, but moved softly, and
drew the curtains before the window. Janet waited for him outside the
door. Words she had not; but her terrified eyes interrogated him. The
old man took her hand. "I really think he is so composed by the idea of
dying, that he will not die. He seems to have got his will, and getting
it, will, I trust, lose it for him again. I suppose he's so afraid of
being infirm for life, that death seems to him preferable."
"That must be his thought," said Janet; "but he will — oh, he will
live, dear M. Lahrotte?"
"Well, I think so."
Mr. Ferroll after this fell into a deep sleep — partly that he was
weak and exhausted — partly that his mind was very much at rest; the
dark drops probably contributed. He opened his eyes again upon a world,
where his part in the drama seemed to have tired him; and whatever he
thought on the subject of his late danger, he expressed no regret or
pleasure at escaping it. He received his surgeon's congratulations, and
his daughter's joy, with the merest commonplace phrases. One thing
which Janet had scarcely noticed at the time, rose to the surface when
her memory began quietly to recall the scene gone by. "Marry whom you
will," were the words she had heard. She longed to approach that
subject, but dared not. Lahrotte was bolder. "Has not the young
Englishman been away long enough?" he asked one day; for he had
expressed his hope that when Hugh should be gone, Janet would be more
favourable to César.
"Nay, César should know that best," said Mr. Ferroll.
"César knows nothing, nor mademoiselle either, I think," said
Lahrotte; "children as they are, why not determine for them?"
"That's impossible in my case," said Mr. Ferroll. "There is one
thing only I can determine, and that is, that she never —
never, I being alive to forbid it, shall marry the young Englishman."
"Well — well, sir, don't agitate yourself about that or anything
"Not I; I can carry out my purposes without agitation, I promise
"Nevertheless, the other day you suffered from your letter."
"Yes — this ricketty house might have fallen, being at this time so
frail; but that would have been a splendid solution to all
perplexities. I was in perplexity; but I have taken good
measures; and they will probably answer."
"I am sorry to hear it — sorry I mean for your embarrassments, and
if my advice or even assistance could be of service in any ...... I
don't mean in any pecuniary view, I am poor, and I know you are a
"Oh, I am rich, don't fear it. Janet will make César rich if she
marry him, never fear."
But what Hugh had told Janet had frightened her so effectually that
if the marriage depended on her loving young César, there were very
little hope indeed. She no longer would adventure herself to walk by
his side thinking of something to say; she would no longer, when he was
sitting in her father's room, seek to keep up a conversation about the
manner of laying fishing lines, or trapping mice. She let him shift for
himself — he was not now in her eyes a gaunt schoolboy, but a strong
enemy, who laid himself open to every sort of passive resistance. César
would sit openmouthed as usual, and uncomfortably silent, but Janet
would work resolutely at her embroidery and let him feel how dull he
was. César would come in the morning and wait an hour for Janet to
accompany him as heretofore, while Janet, when forced to walk by her
mother's desire to do so, would get up at daylight and be out of the
way before he came upon his post. Her father was amused by observing
all this, and with no pity to Janet, made this note in his pocket-book:
—"Janet went out at four o'clock this morning; I heard her door open.
When she came to me afterwards I asked, Did you see César? deep blushes
and the alarm of a young fawn. 'I thought he was to walk with you on
account of the dogs,' I said. 'I can't think where he was papa — I
walked where he generally comes to take care of the dogs and he was not
there.' Womanly dissembler! how was he to know you meant to walk at
four o'clock in the morning?"
Things went on in this way through the summer, during which Mr.
Ferroll recovered, more rapidly than at one time seemed possible, and
was able to begin again resuming plans for the disposal of their
winter. Hugh had obeyed the injunction not to write Janet, but instead
of doing so himself he had made his sisters keep up a close
correspondence with her, and by this means gave Janet notice of what he
himself was doing, and tried to regulate his movements upon hers; but
here again he was baffled. Mr. Ferroll would entertain his family with
projects which he was sure would reach Hugh through Janet's
correspondence, and the autumn following their arrival at Pontaube, he
had talked so much of a visit to Egypt, and seemed so intent upon
passing the cold months there that he had heard, and smiled to hear how
Hugh had taken a fancy to see the pyramids, and had actually taken
measures to leave home for the purpose. "Perhaps we shall meet him,"
said Mr. Ferroll, and the project went on till Hugh had actually left
England; then by some means it died away, Sicily was nearer, and
presented many advantages as a winter residence; and at times Athens
seemed the more desirable place, and was one which Mrs. Ferroll had
never yet seen. Janet had never allowed to herself how glad she should
be to see Hugh in case they had met in Egypt, and did not therefore
allow that she was very much disappointed not to do so. In fact her
strongest wish was for the time when they should all renew their old
habits of intercourse at home, and in the course of next summer she was
sure both the families would be in their right places just as they used
to be, so that she was willing to like every project in a certain
degree, and always in reference to the health of one or other parent.
By this time it was the middle of October, it wanted but ten days to
that on which Janet would be seventeen; she had grown up insensibly
among the closer and more prominent interests of her family, into as
lovely a girl as ever eyes beheld — her beauty and herself, however,
were quite secondary objects among them — familiarity made them little
conscious of the first, and their habits kept the daughter of the
house in the back-ground; so that she was like some exquisite specimen
of the wild animals of the forest, using those beautiful limbs,
exposing that angelic face, as though they were but the commonest clay
that can be fashioned, and unconscious what an impression of loveliness
they left on the spectator. She was proud of being of use to her
father; habituated to do everything for her mother. Praise was rare and
valuable, her customary feeling was their superiority, and her own
humbler pretensions as less clever, less learned, less accomplished
than either of them. It was a suitable healthy feeling for a young
girl, and contributed no doubt to her peaceableness and content.
"Jeannie," said Mr. Ferroll, one day when she was alone with him, "I
think we shall go home. I shall give up Egypt, and all other travels."
Janet looked up, and coloured deeply; the surprise brought colour
into her face. "And mamma?" she said, after a few seconds' pause,
during which many thoughts passed through her mind.
"Mamma? what do you mean?" asked her father.
"Would it be good for her, especially at this time of year? I don't
think she is very well."
you want to go?" said Mr. Ferroll.
"Where would be best for mamma," said Janet, looking up at her
"I do believe it, little daughter," said he; "and come here, and
tell me why going home would not be best for her."
"She is not so well as she used to be; she thinks so much of you, of
your fall, she is always afraid of something happening."
"Do you think so? Since that stupid accident I have always believed
her to be better — nay, well."
"She wishes to seem so; and you have not seen her so much."
"Not observed so much, you mean; you have been observing, it seems.
I have been selfish, Jeannie."
"Oh, no, no, my dear papa; you are so patient, so firm."
"Oh, yes, yes, my dear daughter, patience has nothing to do with
observation; and you may be right, the Tower may not be exactly the
place to amuse and interest her enough; after all, Egypt or Athens may
Janet said no more; but a feeling of great satisfaction came over
her that her opinion should be taken, and should have any weight with
her father; she enjoyed it all day long, and fancied she was present to
her father's mind, and of some use in his councils, until next morning,
she heard him in conversation with M. Lahrotte, say, as if nothing had
ever passed between him and her, "I have made up my mind to go to
England the week after next." In fact, it never occurred to him,
however he might listen to another person, to act on any one's
opinion but his own. Poor Lahrotte had his own disappointment at this
announcement; he still clung to the project about his son, though Mr.
Ferroll had long since put it by, among objects upon which he did not
care to exercise his will. It was become a mere amusement to him; and
when the worthy doctor, on hearing of the proposed departure, made one
more forlorn petition for the interests of his son, Mr. Ferroll rather
encouraged him than otherwise, to come boldly to the point, and lay his
pretensions fully before Janet. "César has never made the proposal; he
does not know what effect his silent suit has had on his mistress;
perhaps if he were to speak out, he might find that silence alone has
been in his way."
"I doubt it," said the doctor: "don't you perceive that she may be
said rather to shun than seek his society?"
"I have made some observation of the kind," answered Mr. Ferroll;
"still I protest to you that she has never declared any such
sentiments to me."
"And after all," said Lahrotte, "you, sir, will look with pleasure
on César, as your son-in-law?"
"In all sincerity," said Mr. Ferroll: "let her marry, let me leave
her in France, I am contented."
"And madame, she is of the same sentiments?"
"One day she may be."
"I have been thinking," said Lahrotte, "that Mademoiselle Jeannette
took great pleasure in her excursions on horseback with the young
Englishman, and that if César were to offer her the same amusement, the
situation might be one in which an interesting conversation could be
well carried on. He shall have my pony, it's very quiet."
"Aye, take care it is quiet," said Mr. Ferroll, "for it would be
very awkward to make one's declaration at a gallop, and the gallop
against one's will. When will this project come off?"
"I'll arrange it," said the father, pleased at having a scheme to
work out, and he returned home to prepare all things for its
execution. Janet was surprised next morning to receive an invitation
from the doctor to visit the Castle of —, on horseback. He said he had
a patient in the neighbourhood, and the ride was one of the prettiest
in that part of the country. He omitted to tell her that César was to
make one of the party, much less did he say that César was the
one. Janet looked at her mother; her mother drew up a little, and
would have declined; but Mr. Ferroll interposed, "Go if you like,
Janet," he said; and Janet did not like, but went. The prudent doctor
had determined not to hazard his son alone even on the quiet pony; for
he knew that César was much better educated in mind than body, and had
some misgivings as to the skill he might evince. The young man,
however, was delighted with the project. He was inexperienced enough
for a ride to be a treat to him; and in getting himself up for it, it
is certain that his mind dwelt more on the excursion than on the
project involved. He had no vain fears; on the contrary, he felt
himself very much of a man as he talked of what the pony could do, but
would not venture to do, if he chose to tighten the rein, and what he
and the pony together could do if he chose to let it out. He was busy
for half an hour about his straps, sewing on a button, and making a
button-hole; he spent some time in tying a string to his cap, and
making it fast to his coat, saying, that although it was not probable
he should be leaping, or going full gallop, it was better for a
horseman to be prepared. He cut himself a switch in the garden, and
went down to the stable half an hour before the time of riding, to take
precautions about the operation of saddling, though it had been
performed there, and on that beast, some thousands of days, and
successfully. In fact, he too much neglected pondering on what he was
going to say, and gave himself over too devotedly to what he was going
Janet, meantime, unwillingly dressed for riding, and thought of
Hugh. She came down stairs step by step, putting on her gloves
deliberately; and when she came out upon the door-way, perceived with
a little augmentation of disgust that the doctor had smuggled his son
into the proposed arrangements. Shy and courteous, however, she greeted
him without any manifestation of her feeling, and saw him imagining he
assisted her to mount without making him understand that he was much
more hindrance than help. For some time they all trotted on together,
César bumping along in his saddle, and highly exhilarated with his
equestrian exercise. Janet did not know what to say, and M. Lahrotte
was intent upon finding an opportunity for leaving her and his son
together. But the latter had some latent instinct that he was safest
where his pony kept sight of its familiar companion, the horse his
father mounted, and defeated the manoeuvre with provoking perversity.
"I think," said old Lahrotte, "the plant I was talking of grows on the
common there, I'll fetch you a bit;" and was moving away, when to his
vexation a horse's feet trotted behind him, and César came up alone,
and declared Mademoiselle Ferroll thought he had much better accompany
"Why, what had you said to her?" cried the latter, turning quickly
round upon him.
"I said, 'Did not she think you would want me?'"
"Foolish child," cried the father, and rode back to Janet, saying
it was hardly worth while to look for the plant just now. Janet
assented, and they went on. Presently they came to a nest of cottages
clustering on one side of an open heath, which afforded the doctor the
pretence, at least, of a patient; and desiring the other two to ride
on, he resolutely turned his horse's head in the other direction. But
it would not do; five minutes after he heard his name called, and that
in no very easy accents, and pulling up abruptly, saw César curbing in
his pony with desperate energy, and Janet proceeding by his side at a
walk, while the pony irritated by the curb, and anxious to rejoin its
companion, evidently gave its rider no small uneasiness. "Mademoiselle
thinks," said César, when the doctor turned round and joined them,
"that we had better go on to the Castle first altogether; you can call
here coming back."
"If you wish it, certainly, my dear lady," said Lahrotte.
"Nay," said Janet, "M. César declared he did not know the way, and
asked whether in that case it was not better to wait for you."
wait," said César. "I meant that you ......"
"Never mind what," said Lahrotte; "let us go together. Awkward!" All
together therefore they reached the object of their ride, and
dismounting, went under the guidance of the woman who had care of it,
to see the whitewashed chateau, and the parlour and entrance room, and
polished floors, which made up a respectable dwelling-house, ill
described by the English word castle. There was a trellice walk in the
garden, however, which was very pretty. The vines hung about it and
through it, and at the end was seen a cottage accidentally placed in
the vista, which seemed framed by the graceful foliage. Janet, who was
hardly at ease, took out a pencil by way of something to do, and in
the first page of her pocket-book began a sketch of it. Old Lahrotte
walked away humming a tune, as if he were in a reverie — young
Lahrotte looked at Janet's progress for a little while, and then went
to feed a goat which was tethered in the garden.
"Well, but, César," said his father, "is not this the very moment I
have managed for you? is not she alone; have you anything to do but to
ask her for your wife?"
"I don't know, father. It is very embarrassing; what can anybody
say, except just will you marry me? and that is so short. It does not
seem to me she would like it."
"Pshaw! go and sit down by her; get rather too near — perhaps she
will say, why do you do that?"
"And what must I answer?"
"What shall you feel?"
"That you told me to do it."
"Is that all?"
"Yes," said César, in a tone as if he had investigated his feelings,
and wondered why there should be anything particular there. "Father,"
said he, resuming the dialogue, "could not you go and do all that? and
when she agrees, I shall be ready to keep house, and have a wife, and a
servant of our own, and what you like. Indeed, father, I have no
objection at all to your plan; but I think it would be better if you
"I tell you no, César. English girls, I have heard, have no
principles like our girls. They are so forward, that they expect before
they are married, to be sup- posed to know the rights of women, much
more than they should know; and they are to decide upon questions
which, if I had a daughter, should not come into her head, till she was
off my hands, and in those of her husband."
"What are those, father?"
"It don't matter. Mr. Ferroll himself can't control that child's
choice; and if you are to repay my indulgence, César, if you are to
make it worth while to have been allowed this long holiday, if you are
to have any hope of an apartment and a servant of your own, you must
make up your mind now, or as we ride home, to propose yourself to the
young Ferroll as her husband."
"I have no objection, my dear father, I am sure. I should like it —
only ...... well, as we ride home — not now," said César, putting off
the evil day.
Old Lahrotte gave a sort of sigh, but silently assented, and taking
his son's arm, led him away to the house, and there bestowed upon him
an overflowing beaker of Bordeaux, putting into his hands a plate of
biscuits, and a moderate glass of wine for Janet. The kindly drink did
César's heart good, and when they mounted their horses, and began their
ride home, his father was cheered to see how gallantly he trotted his
pony, and how his tongue seemed loosened to utter observations of
various kinds. Janet civilly answered, and even encouraged him,
reflecting silently that the ride would soon be over, and that the
constraint of conversing with so raw a lad, was repaid by the pleasure
it seemed to give his kind old father, so that by degrees they got into
a kind of flowing discourse, consisting very much of questions and
answers, till old Lahrotte seeing this, gradually fell behind, and
whisking suddenly up a lane on one side, was gone before César missed
him. Now was César launched on the tide of his destiny; but it was long
before he gave himself away to the current. While it was possible he
clung as it were to the shore, and indeed resolved in his own mind to
say nothing to Janet about his father's project, until the spire of
Pontaube should appear over a certain eminence, which he knew well
indicated that they were but two miles from home. Meantime, they walked
their ponies quietly along; for Janet was waiting for the Doctor, and
César was glad to have an honourable release from hard trotting, so
that his equestrian feelings were at rest, and he began to say to
himself more than once, "It is really very pleasant to talk to her, I
think I should like it." At length they arrived at a level piece of
ground, where the road ran along an open common, and the soft turf on
each side invited them and their horses to turn off upon it.
"I think," said Janet, "it is no use to wait for your father, let us
canter on," and putting her horse into quicker motion, she did as she
proposed. César was discomposed; the moments were numbered, for the
spire rose ever clearer and clearer before them; the subject was
delicate, yet he had to rush upon it, when his hands and heart belonged
to his pony. Nay, he felt the pony give signs of eagerness to be first,
and to take his pleasure along the elastic turf. "Mademoiselle," said
he; "mademoiselle, I have something to say to you."
"And that is?" said Janet.
"My father thinks, and I think, that I should make you a husband who
would adore you."
"I have not the same idea," said Janet, and impatiently hastened
the pace of her horse, which she had been restraining to keep back with
César. Then César's pony showed his own will. César felt that fatal
feeling too well known to timid and inexpert riders, as if the hinder
part of his horse were getting first, and the next moment he was
mastered, and away went the pony full gallop. Janet laughed; she was
much better mounted, and overtook her lover in a couple of minutes.
Adroitly bending down, she seized his rein, and soon pulled up both
horses; but she kept his in her hand, and led him along the road. "I
will prevent him from running away again," said she, "and we'll talk of
In a few days after this César returned to school, and all the
projects of the town of Pontaube concerning the Ferroll family came to
an end, for they set off on their way to England.
IT was in November that the Ferroll family again took possession
of the Tower; not a genial time to move from sunny southern climates to
the short days of England. It was on a dank morning of the month, that
Mr. Ferroll, leaving his wife and Janet re-arranging their life in the
house, walked down to a cottage a little way outside his garden, and
inquired for one Martha Franks. There came out a little stout woman
some sixty years of age, whom when he saw he drove as it were inside
the cottage, and came and sate down opposite to her by the fire. "You
could not rest then, on the other side of the Atlantic?" said he.
"No, indeed, sir; I hope your honour won't be angry for not
following your advice, but I had such a longing to come over, that one
day when I found I had money enough I set off, as it were, all of a
sudden, as if a wind out of the desert had driven me."
"I'm not angry; it is all alike to me — but I know you would have
been better there."
"Ah, sir, as long as Richard lived he always said the same — he
would not come back to a country where he and I was once pointed at as
murderers, he said. But it's such a long time ago now, sir; and when
Richard was gone, it was so very lonely."
"Why did you write to me for advice, if you were resolved beforehand
what to do?"
"No, sir, no, not that; but I wanted your honour's consent to my
"And you did not get it."
"But I thought if your honour was to hear all the reasons from
myself — and I can speak much better than writing, I am such a poor
"Yes, you made up your mind to see England again, and you do see it.
Good luck to you with it. It is no kind of matter to me."
"I fear your honour's angry with me."
"Not I — poor wretch! But what made you think of me after fifteen
years of silence? It was that day fifteen years since I sent you some
money, that I had your letter last year."
"Oh, sir, we was always thinking of you. It was you who was never
out of Richard's head; he could think of nothing but the poor lady and
"My poor lady — to think anybody could harm her. He often said just
those words, and he would tell it all over and over again, and talk of
you all at the same time. Who could it be, sir, did it? who could it be? For my part, I would not have harmed her, no more
than if she had been my child."
"Who said you could?" asked Mr. Ferroll.
"Nobody, nobody, Lord, sir, nobody; but I was only saying it was a
thing quite unpossible."
"Then what's the use of saying it at all?"
"Well, I don't know, sir; except that coming back fresh, it all
turns again in one's mind just as if it were new again."
"Pshaw! you must remember that all of us have been living here ever
since, and that it is not quite so new to us as to you."
"But your honour has been away these fourteen months as I heard, and
it was you being away, as I was told in a letter from Mabel, as made me
think more to come; for I was not sure if I should be a pleasant object
to you — only across the sea I should be out of your sight."
"I had business in England which brought me suddenly back — that
does not matter. For your own sake you would have been better where
you were, and I told you so. See your friends, settle your affairs, and
go back again, I advise you — put the sea between us if you will. I
agree with you, that it is not the pleasantest thing in the world to
see the person who was connected with that — with my first wife's
"Lord, sir, you do frighten me with such words — and connected with
it? you know, sir, I fainted dead away when we was all examined."
"Other people will remember that, too," said Mr. Ferroll.
"Remember what, sir? they can remember nothing against me except
that my husband was said by the judge to be an innocent man."
"God forbid I should ever be said anything to, sir, by judge or
"Amen, you poor old soul!" said Mr. Ferroll. "But what's the
matter?" for the old creature for a minute past had been standing up,
and now trembled violently, and caught at the table for support.
"Oh, sir," said she, "I enjoy a very bad state of health. It's a
way I have about the heart," and she fell down into a chair, panting
Mr. Ferroll pushed open the door, and gave her his snuff-box open.
The pungent weed revived her. "Are you often ill like that?" said he.
"Not very often. sir; but it's very bad when it comes. The doctor in
New Southampton said it would be the death of me," and she leaned her
head on the table, exhausted with the attack.
"I'll send your neighbour to you," said Mr. Ferroll, rising; "you'd
be better in bed, I dare say," and opening a door, which led to a
cottage under the same roof, he called the woman of the house by name
and walked away.
"Die, die!" he said, and went hastily on, buried in thought.
The Tower had a flight of steps before the door, with a large
spreading balustrade on each side. The entrance hall was octagon, and
just opposite the door was a great fire-place, with noble logs burning
on it. The room was furnished with rich-coloured carpets and table
covers; chairs of dark wood and light velvet; pictures in four sides of
the octagon, in carved frames, and various other objects of luxury. The
possessor was plainly a man who commanded the pleasures bought by
money, and whose tastes and education placed him among the upper half
of mankind. The possessor entered this pleasant room — this room rich
in enjoyment; but the scene in the cottage still left an impression on
his face — not for long, however — not longer than while no one else
was present. In the adjoining drawing-room he heard his wife's voice,
and that of some other person, and whatever emotion had surged up, and
made itself visible, was thrust back, and pent within his heart. It
was Lady Lucy Bartlett who had come zealously to the Tower to welcome
her neighbour; her daughters were gone off with Janet into some other
room, and all were busy in telling and hearing what had passed.
"It is better of you than we hoped, Mr. Ferroll," said the lady,
"coming back at this time of year — just in time for Christmas. We had
no hope you would return till the bad weather was over."
"I had business in England," said Mr. Ferroll. "To be sure I might
have left Elinor and Janet behind, but what should I have done without
"Or I? left behind alone," said Mrs. Ferroll.
"At all events I'm very glad you are come; only Mrs. Ferroll must
take care of herself, she looks delicate."
"Does she?" said her husband looking earnestly at her; "so Janet
I say," Mrs. Ferroll answered gaily, and rising
lightly from her chair, the delicate colour flushing over her face.
"See, Lady Lucy, here's a little present we brought for you from Paris.
You like china still, I hope?"
Lady Lucy was delighted. "We shall have everything pretty and new
again, now you are come home," said she; "and my dear Hugh also sent me
the prettiest chains from Venice. It's so unlucky, this journey of his
to Egypt. Do you know, my cousin Ewyas wants to bring him forward for
"Ah, indeed; is there a vacancy there?"
"Quite sure to be one; for Mr. Aldry cannot live another week, and
then it would be the best opportunity."
"Indeed it would; and where is Hugh?"
"Gone to Egypt, I am sorry to say."
"That's unlucky; and he is too young to be put in nomination during
his absence. Nobody knows anything about him, except his name."
"No, nothing; though everybody likes him I assure you."
"And who is there to stand if Aldry dies, and Hugh is absent?"
"I don't know at all. Lord Ewyas said they were all in perplexity. I
dare say you will hear everything about it when they know you are come
"Oh, somebody will apply for my vote no doubt."
"Yes, yes; we shall have the trouble of a contest. Lord Ewyas is
coming to me the day after to-morrow. You will both dine with
me, won't you, and Janet too, who is grown so beautiful, I am
astonished at her."
"Oh no, no; that's been settled long ago."
Lady Lucy looked disappointed. "I thought," she began, "when you
returned you would have changed old habits?"
"Why so? You forget that we have been living on day by day, though
to you we seem to have skipped a year."
"Well, I'm glad you've come back at all events," said Lady Lucy,
rising to go.
Mr. Ferroll went with her into the hall; there she looked wistfully
at him, while prolonging the putting on of her clogs, and at last began
hesitatingly: "Do you know what a very strange thing has happened in
the village, do you know who is come back?"
"Oh, the old woman Martha Franks, you mean."
"My housekeeper, who is new since
then, you know, came to me
and said one Martha Franks asked to be put on the broth list. I said
no, on no account; but I did not say why."
"She must have been astonished at your prompt uncharitableness."
"But Mrs. Ferroll knows nothing about it, does she?"
"Certainly it is not a subject upon which any judicious person would
wish to entertain her."
"I am sure I shall not," said Lady Lucy; "and the girls know
"About the trial of her husband, I suppose you mean; and his
acquittal, and this woman's freedom from suspicion, trial, and
"Yes, I believe so; but it is a very unpleasant thing, for a poor
woman like that to come from America, and bring up all the old story
again with her."
"Most uncommonly so; and I dare say I shall be spared it after the
first moment of interest."
"Certainly; but I could not help speaking of it once you know."
"Certainly, to be sure. Janet, Lady Lucy is waiting;" and so with
good byes and kind words, they parted. Janet was very happy to see her
friends again, and indulge in girls' talk with companions of her own
age. She also heard of Hugh; and as the young Bartletts were very
unsuspicious, literal young ladies, they had not formed any such
definite idea as that of their brother becoming the husband of their
childhood's companion, but only vague notions of Hugh sending her
messages, and thinking her prettier than he thought them; and thus the
better-instructed Janet could talk freely to them about him, and learn
a great deal more about him than they knew themselves.
Mrs. Ferroll also was glad to be at home. She was not ill, but her
strength was reduced from the old standard, before any attack on her
nerves had shaken it. She was open to impressions of evil, and
resembled the blossoms of a peach-tree, whose life depends upon no
frost coming. There was a feeling of shelter and of rest in being at
the end of travel; in being among all that was her own; in the many
luxuries of home; though frost, and snow, and cold, bleak winds
prevailed outside, the warm hearth, the low, luxurious chair, the
curtains amply draped over the windows, hothouse flowers on the tables,
seemed a more genial climate than that of a stranger's country. She
expressed this feeling to her husband, as they sate together that
evening. "I am happy, Paul. I have a feeling of good about me, a kind
of light of serene days. I am anxious about nothing."
"My bosom's lord sits lightly on its throne," said he.
"I don't like you to say that. Romeo's was a false presentiment.
Mine shall be true. Have not I everything I love within arm's length
— you, and Janet?" she added, stretching her hand towards the door,
out of which Janet had lately gone.
"Yes, yes; let it be so. This actual moment is as still and calm, as
if there had never been, could never be storms. This is a good moment;
let us enjoy it."
"Storms there have been indeed," said Mrs. Ferroll. "When I think of
the danger you have been in, and how I might have been here alone —
oh, my dearest husband, I don't know how to be glad enough."
"Yet the things we are sorriest for, are in fact the great good
sometimes," said Mr. Ferroll; "only not seeing them to be such,
prevents us from acknowledging it. Who knows but what, if the
Providence over you had taken me away — if the angel of your destiny
had stooped and completed the sacrifice — who can tell, Elinor — who
can tell, my Elinor, what future pains might have been spared you? Nay,
dearest, I say who can tell — who is an unknown person
— Mr. Who; Sir Thomas Who; Who of Who Hall. He knows; but I don't."
"If he knows anything, he knows I should die with you."
"No, no; you would not — you
should not. Life is a fair open
sea for you still — for us both — your child was born before you
were twenty, and now she is but just seventeen. You are young, you are
beautiful, you are in the perfection of your feelings and intellect. I
am older than you."
"Just eight years older than I. I was a child when you loved me
"What would my soul give if that first could come again! We hold our
fortunes in our hand at one time of our life. and I threw mine away.
Aye, what would I give if we could be as we were, when your sweet
girlish face looked at me in that innocent way! Between that time and
the moment when we stood together at the church's altar, what moments
of torment, of madness; what darkness, what despair! And this weak
little flame, this beautiful painted bark, what a marvel that it came
safely through such a tempest."
"Well, well, it is all the same now. Whatever the bark went
through, here it is in its safe haven," she said, resting her head on
He clasped her to his heart; but at the same moment cast a look
upward, which never crossed his face when her eye rested upon it.
"Your will was always an omnipotent will," she said, "whether to harm
yourself or obtain good."
"That's true, Elinor; yet sometimes I have willed to be guided by
such poor mean agents."
"You have willed strongly, to be governed by a weak cause."
"Aye indeed; it is the fate I have made for myself."
"What do you mean?" she said, smiling; "am
I that weak
"Aye, my Elinor — that's my good destiny. Do you not guide me with
"Yes; when you have a mind to go my way."
"There's a poor old creature, mamma, of the name of Franks, come to
the Broom cottages," said Janet, returning from a walk. "She lodges
with the waggoner's wife. They want broth for her."
"Is she ill?" said her father.
Janet was surprised at the question, for it was very seldom that her
father took an interest in the lesser concerns of his neighbours.
"Going to die, Jeannie?"
"Oh no, papa, I hope not."
"But the waggoner's wife thinks so?"
"Those people always think or say so, when any one is sick."
"Give her what she wants. Let her be taken care of. You must not
neglect her," said Mr. Ferroll.
Janet was again surprised, when in the course of the day she went to
see her father's injunction carried out, to find he had been there
himself, and had taken excessive pains that the best medical advice,
and all kinds of necessary remedies, should be provided for the old
woman. After all, however, she had grown up in the habit of carrying
comforts and remedies to the cottages with her governess; and there was
nothing unnatural in anyone else doing it, only her father generally
was too busy with other things.
The villagers themselves were surprised at the care taken of the old
woman. "To be sure they are unaccountable kind to you, Martha, at the
Tower. You've everything like Mr. Aldry himself. Dr. Swine came to you
by the Squire's order, before he went to Squire Aldry."
"Aye, to be sure; and a courageous dose he gave me. It did great
"And you know," said the other gossip, "Mrs. Poole told me herself,
in the room at the Tower, that the Squire is quite in a fidget-like to
have strong broth for you. I was taking up the eggs, and she was
counting 'em out, and paying me 1s. 2d. a dozen, and she said to
the kitchen-maid, Lord, Lucy, see the broth is good for that old
"Though I am none older than I ought to be," said Martha Franks; "no
more than she herself."
is good," said the other old woman, supping of it.
"Do look up, Martha, and take a cup."
Martha obeyed, and with a handkerchief tied round her head, and
hanging down in two long comers, imbibed the good things provided for
her from the Tower. "I never knew the Squire take so much care before,"
said the gossip. "Miss Janet often is among the poor; though when I was
in the fever, she refused me wine, that's sure, at the same time old
Dick had enough, and to spare; but the Squire never do take the least
notice till now. You was about the first madam, was not you, Martha —
that's it, I suppose."
"I suppose I was," said Martha.
"And you was acquaint perhaps with things in the family?"
"I don't speak of what I have known," said Martha — "though people
did set store by me perhaps, as you may have some judgment now."
"Aye, the greatest people find out sometimes they have need of the
little," said the gossip.
Old Martha nodded her head affirmatively.
"But then why did the master send you and your husband over sea? We
all thought he wanted you away."
"If he did, I wanted to come back," said Martha — "and here I am,
and you see, if he ben't enamoured to see me again."
"He's desperate good to you, that's true; but he's a very strange
gentleman, and takes whims sometimes."
Neither Martha nor Mr. Aldry fulfilled the expectations of their
friends by dying at this moment. The potent demon of physic can often
charm the departing spirit, and bind it for awhile to the bleak, barren
edges of life. And so it was with the rich member of Parliament, whose
station in life commanded for him whatever the luxuries of illness,
such as they are, consist of; and with the poor cottager, whose life a
caprice of her rich neighbour sought to defend by every possible act
and resource which could prevent its forfeiture. Still, as it seemed,
both made little by little an advance towards "this silent shore," and
after every wrestle with death, from which their ally the doctor drove
him discomfitted, the observing eye might see that even in defeat death
had gained some minute footing towards the fortress which he was
ultimately to take. At least with Mr. Aldry this was becoming apparent;
and the consequence was, not what the newspapers announced respecting
the extreme regret at losing the respected member, but a great anxiety
to know who was to succeed him.
The eyes of the party had been cast more than once towards Mr.
Ferroll. His political opinions were well known, and he was a man of
notoriously independent habits, upon any and every family in the
county. He was an active member of all public business, a man of high
intellectual reputation, of a fortune sufficient for the position; and
subscriptions for the expenses of election had been already offered.
The great doubt whether he would accept the offer, added perhaps to
the interest with which his name was canvassed. The party was in great
want of a representative, and several of the influential men, who
failed to agree about other names, had no reasons to quarrel over this.
Mr. Ferroll himself was not without suspicions of their intentions;
gossip had already brought the report to the Tower, Lady Lucy Bartlett
having delivered it with much eagerness to Mrs. Ferroll; but she, from
her previous experience of her husband's dogged rejection of all
advances tending to bring him into association with his
fellow-countymen, had rejected the idea, and given assurance that it
was out of the question. When we know people best, and think that upon
a particular point we can answer for their conduct with certainty,
sometimes they exactly act, or will to act, in the contrary direction.
One morning Mr. Ferroll's servant answered his hasty question, which
was less gracious in form than in substance, "Is that old woman
better?," with the news that the nurse had been up to say she thought
she was dying.
Mr. Ferroll's face was impassable to those with whom he talked; his
actions, however, implied much interest in the news, for he said at
once, "Send for Dr. Swine. Let him see the old woman directly. Poole is
to go down to see if anything can be done for her. O, omnipotent
death," he murmured to himself, as the servant went out; "end, end
That morning, before early dawn, Mr. Aldry had died. Breakfast was
not yet ready at the Tower when a messenger came there, from Lord
Ewyas, being the request of the party to Mr. Ferroll to stand for the
county. "We are to have a private meeting," it went on, "at two o'clock
to-day, and by that time make up your mind if it be possible, my dear
sir, to do us this service. I send to you the very first moment in
order to give time for that deliberation which I hope will end in a
favourable answer to your party, and I trust so honourable a call, and
at a time of such peculiar necessity, will not be unattended to, when
we know how highly qualified you are to render us this important
service &c." Mr. Ferroll held this letter in his hand long considering,
and his face was animated, his eyes looked freely forward as though the
thoughts worked healthily in his brain. Once more the door opened and
he turned hastily round.
"If you please, sir, Mr. Swine will attend immediately," said the
"Humph," said Mr. Ferroll, with anything but a delighted voice; and
it was some moments before he resumed his more agreeable reflection.
When he went to breakfast, we held out the letter to his wife, and
said, "See what they ask of me."
Mrs. Ferroll smiled. "Ah, well, they little know how vainly they
"You think it would not do?"
you think ...... but have you any idea? ...... you
are by far the best man for the thing — but you always ......"
"Always may end sometimes. Should you like to see me proud of the
honour, bearing in my breast the proud thought of representing such an
"Ah, you are laughing at them now, Paul."
"No, I am not, really — look at the letter. It is very well put, is
not it? and I could do it well."
"That I am sure you could, and I should be happy if I could see you
known as you ought to be known — oh, Paul, do agree to it."
"I must think a little bit longer, I must have some further facts to
go upon, and then you shall know. Some tea now, Jeannie. Have you been
out this morning?"
"Oh, I thought perhaps you had been down to the Broom. I have known
you take such fits of charity."
"I will, directly after breakfast, if you like," said Janet; "the
old nurse was here this morning for wine, and said she could not live
through the day."
"Don't disturb her then; what could he done for the old creature
has been done. It is no fault of mine that she dies, is it?"
"No, indeed — no, indeed; they all say she must have died weeks
ago, if you had not helped her so."
"Would she?" said Mr. Ferroll.
Mr. Ferroll took no one into his counsel; no one knew whether or not
there was any agitation within his breast respecting the proposal made
to him. He was out of doors and in action, but whoever had to speak to
him, found him as usual, clear, determined, sure of what he himself
willed. What he did seemed very foreign to what he had to determine;
it seemed a most unlikely thing for a man to do who had but an hour
more to resolve upon a purely personal question, and that one
which must influence all his future views. Instead of attending to the
request of the county, he went down to the old woman's cottage. Here
at the gate he saw Dr. Swine's horse tied — it had trodden the soil
into furrows, seeming to have been long waiting there in the cold. Mr.
Ferroll passed it, crossed the narrow garden and pushed open the door.
The women were kneeling by the bed, the doctor bending over it. He
looked up when the door opened — "The crisis is over," he said, "she
will live — I came just in time; but now plainly she is in a better
way to recover than she has been at all."
Mr. Ferroll said no word that was intelligible — something he
uttered which was enough for a sick room in a critical state, and going
out again, softly shut the door. Then by a way over the garden terrace
which was in fact no way, only a mere strong scramble, he rushed back
to the house, snatched a sheet of paper and wrote a few words of
decided strong refusal. He commissioned a servant to take it — and
when he was alone again, leaned his head on his arms, which were flung
along the table. He lifted it again to wipe off the cold sweat which
had burst out over his forehead.
So because an old woman recovered from her illness a clever man
refused to represent his county in Parliament.
MR. FERROLL went out of his house, half an hour after the
messenger was gone — it was a miserable winter day; excessively cold,
and the air was saturated with moisture, which clung to every object,
and drowned all the country in a dim gray haze. Something had taken
place in his mind in consequence of the circumstances of the day,
however insufficient they seemed to produce such an effect, which
agitated and bent his spirit, like the forest tree in a tempest. He
walked on, entering the Bartlett park by an obscure path, and pursued
his way through leafless damp woods till he had forced through them to
a large piece of water, which was kept quiet for the sake of wild fowl,
and which no human creature at this time was likely to approach. Here
he sat down on the trunk of a small tree which had been torn up by the
wind, and which lay partly in the water, partly on land, fronting the
desolate scene. The mind at times is so oppressed by its own burthen
that it seems unable to take thought for its companion the body; it
rather gives itself up to the mechanical impressions of the body, and
like two whom fate has joined and inclination severed, they abide
together, but neither does its office friendly, to the other. Thus he
sat, certain that he was unseen; and released, therefore, from all
necessity of acting a part — the dark spirit communing with itself,
the listless body abandoning itself to all the painful impressions of
cold and desolation. No word escaped his lips; his eyes gazed unmoved
on the black water; his folded hands lay listlessly on his knee; hours
passed which he did not mark; the moon, seen early in the winter
evening, began to struggle faintly through the fog. Then the chain of
thought snapped; or the spirit having had this tormented sleep, woke
again to a new feverish life; he rose, and like a man able to cast off
one half of his burthen, and girding himself to carry the other, moved
again, strengthened himself, summoned his spirits. He went home hastily
— passed at once into the room where he heard the voice of his wife
and Janet. All was bright, warm, and prepared for enjoyment.
"Where have you been this cold, dark day?" said Mrs. Ferroll. "Janet
and I have been enjoying life by the fire, but not thoroughly till
now:" and she made way for him in the warmest hearth-nook.
"Not till I came," he said, smiling.
"No, certainly; when I hear your foot in the hall, things go well;
then I am happy — not till then."
"Yet you have heard it nearly twenty years."
"But even less glad to hear it at first than now."
"Now? this very now? do you know what it is? do you know it is the
last day of the year?"
"To be sure I do: here is a silk chain which Janet is finishing for
you to-morrow, on account of the beginning of the new year."
Janet blushed deeply: she had been thinking whether her father, who
was generally a great neglector of days and seasons, would scarcely
accept it; whether he would deride her present.
"Give it to me to-night, Janet, why wait for to- morrow? it is
finished, I see, a little minute atom of a clasp put on, all very
delicate and neat; to-day is our own, but not to-morrow. I will have
it this minute."
He took it from his daughter's hand as he spoke, and kissed her
forehead. She hesitated before she said, "And a happy new year to you,
"A happy old one, at all events," said he, "as much as remains.
Come, come, life is delightful here. I'll pile the fire till it is as
warm as June; I would burn cedar logs if I had them. At this moment I
think I would set my Cellini's carved Apollo on fire, if I wanted a
match to light a candle."
Mrs. Ferroll laughed. "The dismal day gives you spirits," she said.
"Oh, no, not the dismal day, but the
last day, as you call
it; the bright room, the bright flowers, the pretty wife, especially
after all the darkness of the fog and storm. Elinor, you should light
this lamp to-night; do you remember when I gave it you?"
"Paul, I can't forget
Janet looked as if she longed to know, but did not ask. It was a
beautiful alabaster vase, wrought in great perfection, and preserved by
assiduous care in the same beauty which it had at first; it had a lamp
Mr. Ferroll took up a flask of perfumed oil which stood in a jar on
the table, and poured it into the lamp. A little floating light was
ready at hand, he set it on fire and the light spread, looking like
rising moonbeams over the space around. "That's right," he said; "now
go and make yourself exquisite for dinner. You have a gown of sober
velvet, Elinor, put it on, will you? and don't think about the cold.
Women ought to adorn themselves, and look beautiful; people don't
suffer when they are doing right."
He sent them to dress: and he desired his butler to bring some wine
for dinner which had been sent him from the best cellars of Burgundy,
as a costly return for the pleasure a book of his had given there. He
himself had forgotten it till now; the butler had thought too much of
it ever to find an occasion illustrious enough to produce it. To-day
brought the potent and high-pedigreed spirit to light. He asked for
more wax lights in the room; he went into his green-house, and gathered
a heap of camellias, which he put into a Dresden bowl, and set it on
When they sat down his soul flowed freely as the wine; and Janet
herself — the watchful, shy Janet — laughed out beyond control, at
the witty nonsense he talked. "So that hour is gone, too," he said, as
they rose to go to the drawing-room. "Stay one moment, I will finish my
friend's Burgundy; why should profaner lips touch it?"
He poured a full measure, and then taking a spoon from the table,
filled it, and poured it into a glass before his wife, and was laying
down the spoon, but an involuntary movement of her lips was perceived
by him, and he took it up again, and did the same for Janet. "No
healths, no healths — don't drink my health, Janet."
"I was not going to do it, papa," she said, colouring violently, and
her eyes illuminated by moisture, for it did not come to tears.
"I'll do it though for thee," he said, smiling. "The little
bark is towed along, Elinor, in our wake, and gets hid in the waves
sometimes, but it has its own affairs, has not it?" Mrs. Ferroll
pressed Janet tenderly to her side. Janet was embarrassed: she took up
some water to pour into the basin of camellias.
"You had better not," said Mr. Ferroll, "they will grow yellow at
the edges, and lose all the beauty of their first moments. Let them be
beautiful, and die — die on the scullion's heap of ashes, though they
have lived in a poet's parlour." So saying, and without looking again
at the flowers, he walked by his wife's side into the drawing-room,
where the alabaster lamp burned softly. Here they sat before the
glowing logs of wood, which crackled and flamed cheerfully.
They had a habit of reading each a favourite book after dinner for
an hour or so, till they were ready for tea; though Janet would often
at that time be employed by her father to copy a MS., or make a plan;
or, on her own account, would work at some pretty collar or cuff, an
employment which pleased her father's eye, owing to the grace of the
employment which became her feminine and exquisite beauty. To-night he
brought her a few verses to put into her neatest handwriting, which was
rather a slow operation, but which she executed in a manner that gave
the copy an independent merit of its own. These verses were to go to
London by the post to-morrow.
"Mr. — wants something of mine, and I found these in my desk, and
he shall have them. I'll tell you where they rose, Elinor; at Gaëta,
years ago, when we came across the bay from Mola, and landed by
Cicero's villa. Do you remember as we went up the steep path to the
inn, seeing an Englishwoman sitting just in the angle of one of the
turns? The gardener's wife who was sewing on the seat at the top, said
the lady was lame, and she did not know how she had managed to get
down there; but she had been sitting quite still on the same spot for
an hour and a-half, while her friends were in a boat on the bay."
"I recollect; the woman said she had three or four times peeped over
the rock, but the lady always seemed contentissima, come se stesse in
"That's the exact expression that struck me; it came into verse the
other day. Read it, Janet — no, give them me."
"Gaëta's orange groves were there,
Half circling round the sun-kiss'd sea;
And all were gone, and left the fair
Rich garden-solitude to me.
My feeble foot refused to tread
The rugged pathway to the bay;
Down the steep rock I saw them thread,
And gain the boat and glide away.
And then the thirst grew strong in me
To taste yet farther scenes so bright —
To do like those who wander'd free,
And share their exquisite delight.
With careful trouble then, and pain,
I pass'd a little down the hill,
Each step obtain'd was hard-earned gain,
Each step before seem'd distant still.
But when I reach'd at last the trees
Which see that lovely scene complete,
I sat there all at peace and ease
A monarch of the mossy seat.
Above me hung the golden glow
Of fruit which is at one with flowers;
Below me gleam'd the ocean flow
Like sapphires in the mid-day hours.
A passing-by there was of wings;
The silent, flower-like butterflies;
The sudden beetle as it springs
Full of the life of southern skies.
A sound there was of words afloat
Of sailors, and of children blent
At work and play beside a boat;
Sounds which the distance mix'd and spent.
A brooding silence too was there
Of mid-day, and a wide-stretch'd bound;
And I sat still, with open ear,
That drank the silence and the sound.
It was an hour, of bliss to die;
But not to sleep; for ever came
The warm, thin air, and passing by
Fann'd Sense and Soul, and Heart to flame.
The sight I saw that noontide, grew
A portion of my mem'ry's pride;
And oh, how often I renew
The beauty of the steep hill-side.
It comes, when by the northern fire
I sit and shiver in its heat;
While with vain longing I aspire,
To rest upon my rocky seat.
A longing, such, thou gracious land,
As thou must ever leave on those
Who bask on thy enchanted strand,
And see thy heavenly shapes and hues.
And if, methinks, to roam and climb,
At my free will, to me were giv'n
O'er such a land, in such a clime,
would be, what
will be, in heaven.""They are
very pretty," said Elinor; "you have put yourself into the situation as
if it had been your own."
"That's a compliment; but that's the quality which is wanted for an
artist, and you are the woman to appreciate it. You know that a poet
conceives — does not describe."
"To be sure; Shakspeare and Scott were not Juliet and Dirk
"Aye, Scott never killed a Kennedy, though he conceived a Dirk
Hatterick seeing him wriggle on the strand; but as far as that goes, I
could draw Kennedy from experience, could not I? do you recollect my
telling you that this hand killed James Skenfrith?"
"Oh, my dearest, don't talk of that. I don't mind most things, but I
can't bear that."
"Can't you, Elinor? can't you bear
me for having blood on my
"But you have not; what you did was in self-defence, in defence of
others — that makes the whole difference."
"Then all depends upon ......"
"But you have not."
"To please me, however, suppose I had. I want to know what you
would think of me under all circumstances — that circumstance among
others......" He was going on when he felt his arm touched by Janet's
fearful hand; he turned, and saw her look appealingly at her mother,
and sign him to be silent. "What is it, Jenny? what are you making
Janet even trembled at having her silence thus put into words, but
being discovered, she spoke out. "It does mamma harm," she said.
Mr. Ferroll laughed. "Does it? then I won't do it, little defender.
Come, come, all this is nonsense. Let me hear some music this holiday;
I want some music." It was Mrs. Ferroll who made the music, Janet never
played or sang to her father, for he had not patience for an inferior
talent, when a superior one was present. Mrs. Ferroll pleased his taste
and feeling beyond all others, and a few songs he liked to have over
and over again, a few passages on the pianoforte; seeming to hear in
their meaning a voice which none else heard. "This is a heavenly
pleasure," he said, as she repeated one of these bewitching pieces of
music. "Again, my darling, again." Janet, the defender, looked
beseechingly. "Oh no, she is not tired; people don't get tired by doing
what they do so well. It is a very bad compliment to say 'I am afraid
you will tire yourself.' People never like music much who think the
performer is tired;" and so Mrs. Ferroll sang and played till past
"I am tired now, however," she said, rising, "and I will shut
up the pianoforte. The old year is very nearly gone, the fire is low,
the lamp — no, my alabaster lamp beams brightly still."
"Oh, yes, I will put more logs on the fire, and the lamp has
abundance of oil. It is only violence that could put out its light. We
burned it the first evening we were married, did not we, Elinor?"
"Certainly, most certainly; and not very often since. I could reckon
every time. I wonder what made you light it to-night?"
Mr. Ferroll made no answer. The dry wood had speedily burned up, and
the room was brightly illuminated by it. "Let us look out," he said.
"Let us see the old year's departure among the stars." He opened the
window, and they stood together looking out on the night. The wind had
risen, and blew wildly among the trees; the clouds chased along the
sky, and the moon seemed swiftly walking among them. The heavy curtains
were swayed by the breeze. At a little distance rose the tower of the
church, and a light was seen through the narrow windows.
"They toll out the age of a person who dies," said Mr. Ferroll; "are
they going to toll? Aye, does not that sound like it?" he added, as
the clock began to repeat the quarters, and then with a deeper note,
the number twelve of the hour. The twelfth stroke of the clock was
struck; a few seconds after the bells of the church broke out with all
their might a jolly peal.
"Pshaw!" said Mr. Ferroll; "perhaps the clock is wrong; other clocks
are not so fast." At that moment they heard in the room a slight crash;
the alabaster lamp had slipped from its pedestal, and lay broken on the
"What's that? oh, my lamp!" cried Mrs. Ferroll; "my dear lamp!"
"How could it be?" said Janet; "was it the wind?"
"The lamp is broken — the oil run to waste — the year ended —
the clock was right," said Mr. Ferroll.
"Mamma, it is only in two pieces. With isinglass cement we might
mend it, perhaps."
"No, Jeannie, better leave it," said her father; "piece it as you
will, it will always have been broken."
The new year began to wear on its course day by day, which so soon
brings one far away from the close of the old, and commencement of the
new. Mr. Ferroll was busy with an important pamphlet, and in the
occupation it presented, recurred no more to the unusual excitement of
the 31st of December. He bore patiently his wife's and Janet's
experiments on the alabaster vase, which with great delicacy of finger
they put together, but as he had said, no mending could restore the
first beauty. Neither would he replace it with another, though at this
time he was more than usually profuse in luxuries, and seemed intent
upon enjoying life in all the points it could be made to present.
One morning while he was lingering after breakfast in the octagon
hall, where they were talking and looking at engravings, the sound of
the bell announced a visitor, and the servant who answered it, came
back to say Mr. Monkton, an attorney of the neighbouring town, wished
to speak to Mr. Ferroll.
"So there's an end of pleasure," said Mr. Ferroll, laying down the
print; "but I'm glad I delayed here so long. I ought to have been in my
room twenty minutes ago working, and I have given them to myself for
play up here. I am glad I gained that twenty minutes of play."
"Is this man going to stay all day then?"
"Nay, I don't know; he may keep me a long while." And he went to his
own room, where Mr. Monkton awaited him.
After the common greeting, Mr. Monkton began his errand with some
embarrassment. "I'm extremely sorry to trouble you, sir, upon a
painful subject. What I have to say, will bring very disagreeable
impressions before you. You will excuse me."
"Say whatever you please — what is it, Mr. Monkton?"
"It relates, sir," said the attorney with great hesitation, "to the
...... to Mrs. ....... to the late Mrs. Ferroll, sir."
"Exactly, sir." Mr. Ferroll said nothing more, and Mr. Monkton had
to recommence the errand. He did not do so till he had fumbled in his
pocket and brought out a small parcel which he opened. It contained a
gold locket, the outside ornamented with a device in enamel, the
reverse containing hair.
"This ornament, sir — do you recollect it as belonging to her?"
"No, I don't."
"The old woman Franks had the folly, it might make one smile, to
wear it at a neighbour's tea-drinking. She it is who was in your house
at the time of Mrs. Ferroll's death, I think — the first Mrs. Ferroll;
and the woman who brought it to me, said it was one among many which
are secreted in her drawer."
"Yes, and what next?"
"The suspicion is that she stole them."
"Not unlikely; but I made a parcel of all the ornaments I knew of,
and sent them to her brother."
"Together with a list of her effects?"
"I think so; a little book containing a list which I found."
"Yes, sir, which I have seen; and this ornament appears to be
specified among them. By the kindness of Mr. Gordon, I have examined
"Then it probably is as you suppose."
"But, sir, in that case, suspicion falls upon her of ......"
"Of the murder — do you think so?"
"Don't you, sir?"
"No; I don't. The husband was tried and acquitted."
"But not the wife."
"Well, sir, do as you please."
"I am very sorry, Mr. Ferroll."
"For what, sir?"
"I am aware it is most annoying to you."
"Annoying perhaps is not the word; but it does not matter what the
thing signifies to me. You will of course do exactly as you think
"It is almost a pity, sir, the woman did not die when she was so
ill. It would have been a happy thing," continued Mr. Monkton seeing
he was not answered, "if the subject could have been at rest for ever,
You have been most kind to her, sir, otherwise ......"
"Yes, I have kept her alive," said Mr. Ferroll. "She was so serious
an annoyance, as you call it, that I could heartily have desired her
death, and for that reason took extravagant pains to keep her alive;
there she is now to explain how these objects got into her
"Her neighbours have had their attention excited not only by the
trinkets they have discovered, but by expressions used by her — in
fact I consider there is evidence enough to issue a warrant for her
"Be it so," said Mr. Ferroll, rising. "You don't ask me to be active
in this business I suppose. At all events, I absolutely decline any
Mr. Monkton rose also. "In that case, sir, I will go to Mr. —.
Perhaps we shall find it necessary to beg you to identify the
"What you please. As to the one you showed me, I have no
recollection of it whatever, but that proves nothing. It is many years
since those things have been absent from my memory."
Mr. Monkton took leave, and Mr. Ferroll turned his attention
strongly to the work he was finishing, and wrote with an excited mind
and a free flow of ideas for several hours. At the end of that time his
wife came into the room with her cloak and bonnet. "Writing, Paul," she
said, "I thought you had been detained by Mr. Monkton — but you are
only writing. You were to have walked with me to Esco. You have
"No, I did not forget, but it is necessary to finish this thing; and
I found my wits work freely this morning."
"Do you want to send it by post time?"
"Not so soon as that; no, I have more time than that, but I don't
know how much. Never mind; I'll put all by now, and go with you — here
put your arm under mine, and once more, once more — poor pretty
"Well, leave out poor — say pretty, and come on." They went out
together — and alone — it was very seldom that Janet accompanied
them — and walked quietly along, enjoying the soft winter day. There
was a clear sun; and among the woods it shed a glory on the brown
leaves which hung on the oak and beech, and which now showed a beauty
equal, though unlike that which adorns them in summer. The deep sense
of beauty animated both of them; and in great enjoyment of the scene,
they stood together in the silent wood admiring it. But they were soon
at the end of the pleasure — a sound broke the great winter silence;
the branches rustled, and a servant came forward with a letter which
Mr. Ferroll read. "There," he said, "there — our walk is at an end,
Elinor, you must go home alone; I thought so — you must be alone —
nay, I have only to go to Mr.- who is examining the old woman, old
"Who do you mean? not the old sick woman of course."
"Yes, indeed it is. The business, is remarkably unpleasant — never
mind it — don't listen to it or think of it, till I come back — I
shall surely come back ...... by dinner time."
"Nay, tell me more; what is it to you? what is it you mean?"
"Oh, a terrible past story — the woman who was once your enemy,
Elinor, that poor soul, somebody fancies they have discovered
something about her end." Mrs. Ferroll's colour rose vehemently. She
comprehended, and was very grave at once, but said not a word — only
drew away her arm, and was ready to go.
"Nay, I'll come with you to the corner of the walk," said he,
snatching her arm again, and holding it under his. Neither, however,
spoke any more, and at the walk they parted; a look grave and
affectionate, bidding him good-bye.
At Mr. —'s he found, as he expected, the old woman Franks in an
agony of fear and grief, surrounded by the persons who had to attest
the facts upon which she was accused of the almost forgotten murder.
Various trinkets lay on the table, among which Mr. Ferroll recognized
at a first glance more than one which had belonged to the wife whose
end had been so terrible. The old woman was even beforehand with her
accusers in proclaiming her guilt respecting them. She sat in a chair,
which they had allowed her, wringing her hands, and rocking to and fro,
and to every question, addressed to her or any one else, crying aloud,
"Oh, it's true, all true; I did rob her, poor thing; it's come out —
it's come out — oh, my conscience is as heavy as lead — but I did no
worse — oh no, no, no."
And when Mr. Ferroll came in, and she heard the questions asked him
about the identity of the ornament, "What's the use of asking him?"
she cried. "It is the very chain she went and bought one day for him
herself and would put it about his neck, and he took it off, and laid
it aside, and she laid it on her table, and she left it about, and I
did take it — I did — but never did I harm the poor creature; oh, I
would not have taken the life of a fly."
"She criminates herself by these excuses," said Mr. —, in a low
voice, to Mr. Ferroll.
"Not necessarily — there is no art in her declarations, she is
"What are ye saying, gentlemen?" interposed the trembling woman. "I
tell you all, I am making my conscience clean. It's inside out before
you like a sick stomach. I was seduced of Satan with the chains and
rings, but as to her precious life ......"
"Nobody is accusing you of that," said the attorney, "mind that what
you say now may go in evidence against you."
"And how can it be against me when I say I never touched her — why
I could not bear so much as to see her — looking so pit'ous there.
Lord, Lord, I can't bear it now." And the poor wretch turned fearfully
pale and sank down in one of the fits which came upon her under any
The occupants of the room looked one at the other, and whispered
their suspicions — all but Mr. Ferroll, who had scarcely spoken a
word from the time he came in, and whose eyes were fixed on the
accused woman with an expression which was readily to be explained by
the strangeness and uneasiness of his situation.
A woman of the household was called, and took Martha Franks under
her charge to apply the necessary remedies; and then followed a
consultation what to do respecting her committal. "She is undoubtedly
guilty of robbery," said Mr. Ferroll, when they required his opinion.
"Is it not enough to accuse her of that — you cannot prove the murder
"These are the words you said respecting her husband eighteen years
ago," said Mr. —, "you were right then."
"Did I," said Mr. Ferroll, "the time is come round I suppose —
however, now let me go — I don't want to influence your decision in
any way —I am not the person to judge this case; the poor foolish soul
must abide the consequence of her antique vanity." So saying, he left
the room, and the matter ended in the committal for trial of the old
woman, on suspicion of being concerned as necessary to the murder of
THERE was still some time to elapse before the assizes, and
though the county eagerly took up the subject, which made some
impression also upon the general press, nothing could be done about it,
and it was one which certainly never was mentioned in the Ferroll
family. Mr. Ferroll was restless, though not pre-occupied; he was as
much, or more than ever, awake to all the pleasures and occupations of
his life, and if possible more than ever averse to mixing in any degree
with his neighbours. Lady Lucy had news at this time that her son had
turned homeward; and it occasioned a sensation at the Park which
absorbed almost the whole of what otherwise would have been created by
the affair of the Tower. She was intent upon a welcome for him, but
could not get the attention of Mr. Ferroll for a moment. It was Mrs.
Ferroll and Janet only who minded her, and it could not escape the
mother's attention that Janet had silent feelings on the subject, which
were the stronger perhaps for being unspoken. She mentioned it to her
husband. "Hugh is coming home," she said, "and you don't know how
evident I thought his attachment was while you were ill at Pontaube. I
am sure also she likes him. If she is forced to mention his name, the
colour flushes into her face, and she uses any circumlocution to avoid
"And can't you put your pretty white hand on the matter, and crush
"After all, why should I if I could? which I don't think possible.
"Why? That never occurred to me before. Why can't time run backward,
and fetch me yesterday, out of the treasures of God? I never thought
of that before."
"My dear husband!" said Mrs. Ferroll, shocked at his expression.
"But since you think thus, we must do something; I must take her
"You shall not leave me," he exclaimed; "not now;" and then changing
the expression of his voice, he added more lightly, "You never left me
but once, and that was when Janet had some fever or measles; and do you
recollect, how I very nearly died of it? Nothing should make you leave
"Why now especially?"
"Nay, I have just told you. Don't you recollect that time?"
"Oh, that I do — and it was her illness only which could have
induced me to leave you."
"Yes, yes, I know; but she is not ill now. Pshaw! a young girl in
love; what is that to a husband who loves you?"
"But I was once a young girl in love."
"True; bless you, my dearest, for that pretty word; and now you are
a loving wife. whom I will listen to, wish what you will. Come, Elinor,
will this do? I am going to London with my MS. for a couple of days. I
will take Janet with me. My kindness will so astonish her, that she
will forget her own for Hugh."
"Going to London?"
"Yes, I must, and to-night. I had a letter this morning. I was
going to tell you when we walked — for you must walk with me to-day,
though it is very cold, and very likely to rain, and you have got a
cold, and all that. We will go directly, for I have finished what I had
Elinor had nothing to say in opposition; but she did delay her
outdoor toilette for a few minutes, to tell Janet she must be ready
that evening for the journey, a piece of news which Janet could hardly
credit she heard rightly with her ears. However, it was an order given;
and she set about her preparations without further inquiry, though with
some perturbation and expectation in her own mind.
London was new to Janet; and it was with eager eyes that the next
day she walked with her father along the streets, cheerful and
brilliant with a fine February morning. The sun was warm in St. James's
Street. The ugly old place smiled in its own way, the light coming
under the arch, and the clock glittering above. A few brilliant
uniforms reflected the light in the street — the sound of the band
changing guard was heard in the yard; the great plate-glass windows of
the clubs and shops showed gaily in the extremity of polish and
"This way to the right goes across the Park, Jeannie," said Mr.
Ferroll; "and to the left along Pall Mall; which way shall we go, it's
the same thing to me?"
"Oh, not the Park, papa."
"Oh, you don't want to see trees and country; well so the left then.
A handsome street, is not it? but nothing like Paris."
"But it is very beautiful," said the admiring Janet. Now it must be
remembered, that of all beautiful objects that day in Pall Mall,
including every occupant of every carriage, which during the whole
twenty-four hours rolled along it, Janet herself was the most so. Just
developed, with the colour of the peach blossoms on her cheek, with
delicately lined eyebrows on the noblest and whitest forehead, auburn
hair, features modelled to an exquisite fineness, and the sweet,
earnest, good expression of a fine mind and disposition — with round,
light figure, filled by health and youth with graceful activity, and
over all, the shy, unconscious modesty of a girl unacquainted with
admiration, she came to the great capital in the very season of her
perfection, and was in every way qualified to make part of its best
brilliancy. There was no one, not already preoccupied, but turned to
look at her. Yet neither she nor her father observed it. He was
thinking of other things, and so was she; but the objects of their
thoughts were very different. The past, future, absent, filled his
mind. The present was all in all to her; the things without, the new
But at last Mr. Ferroll was roused by a voice addressing him. It
came from a brougham which was standing by the United Service Club, and
from which Lord Ewyas jumped, and held out his hand. "So I see you at
last," said he, (for they had not met since the Ferroll family came
from the continent); "I am glad you are returned — you are all well?"
and at the same time his eye rested on Janet, who had forgotten him,
and made no sign of recognition. Greetings passed; and then he went on,
"But Miss Ferroll does not remember me. I must call myself to her
recollection, for one can't afford to be forgotten by such a lady."
And with the fatherly gallantry of an elderly man to a very young girl,
he took both her hands to welcome her. Janet coloured, and looked
prettier than ever, and in her wish to remember him, did not catch the
name her father said. "Ah, well," said Lord Ewyas, "we must get better
acquainted. It will be but a very short time before there is no one in
London who will not envy me my right to make myself known."
Mr. Ferroll turned to look at his daughter, and smiled. "Oh no, no,
my lord, I am going home two days hence. I brought my daughter merely
for a glance at London, which she does not know."
"Going away in two days? Impossible. You must not allow that, Miss
Janet looked at her father with a shy glance, as much as to say the
idea that she should allow anything was absolutely ridiculous.
The look said so, and was very pretty. Lord Ewyas was enchanted. "Tell
me where you are at least, and Lady Ew.... and my wife must try her
power of persuasion."
"Nay, I assure you I am obliged to go home. I am at Mivart's; but I
go home on Thursday. Good day, my lord; many thanks." And taking
Janet's hand under his arm, they walked on. "It's of no use, you know,
Janet, to call and be called upon, when one remains in a place only a
couple of days."
"No, it's of no use," said Janet; but in her heart she thought she
should have liked to see the inside of one of the great palaces of
It was in the evening of that same day when the dusk had well set
in, that Janet was alone in the hotel, her father having left her
there, when he had had walking enough with her. It was the hour when
gentlemen so privileged either by years, or by permission, or
otherwise, delight in making their morning visits, and Lord Ewyas chose
this time to come to Mivart's, and desired to be shown to Mr. Ferroll's
apartment. Ladies are apt at that hour to trim their fires, and place
their chair comfortably, but Janet was not so occupied. She had the
window open, and was out on the balcony with a water-jug brought with
some difficulty from her dressing-room, from which she was pouring as
skilfully as she could, a slender stream upon two half withered
aucubas, which were there in pots. She turned as the waiter announced
her visitor, and had to rest her great jug upon her knee for a moment,
while the flame of the gaslight illuminated her and her employment, and
showed her in a pretty and unexpected attitude to Lord Ewyas. It was
only for a moment that she stood thus. With a little embarrassment she
set down the water and re-entered the room, closing the window, a task
which the waiter took from her, and looked superciliously upon her,
whatever Lord Ewyas might do.
He addressed her, so as to set her at ease, and Janet told him she
had waited till the sun was gone in order to water the plants, which it
was a pity should die, and which she thought no one had attended to for
a long time. Lord Ewyas could not but smile, and began a playful attack
upon her for her cares, which Janet answered timidly at first, and
then with an awakened spirit of lively self-defence, which proved her
no mere inanimate beauty. Her companion was delighted, as might easily
be the case when so lovely a creature talked at all, and before
conversation flagged, went on to the main subject of his visit. First
he apologised for Lady Ewyas, who had not called because she had a
violent headache; a complaint great ladies are very subject to, when
their husbands ask them to call on country neighbours; and next, he
said he was the bearer of a card and a message, begging Janet's
presence with her father at Harold House, the next evening, which was
to be the occasion of a great ball given in honour of Lady Ewyas's
Janet looked on that ball as she had often looked at the moon,
longing to be there, but without hope. She said at once she knew it was
impossible; and then, in answer to Lord Ewyas's well-put questions,
told him she had never been to one, that she loved dancing, that a
London ball must be the most beautiful thing in the world; but,
finally, again, that it was quite impossible; and seemed so contented
to resign what she so ardently desired, that his admiration of her good
training rose as high as that of her person and manner. He stayed on,
stayed on, resolving to see Mr. Ferroll, if he found he could wait so
long without any languor in conversation, and so skilful was he in it,
that before Janet had perceived a pause, her father came in. At first
he was as cold and abrupt in his refusal as ever, but after a time some
change came over him, and he said, "It's your own doing, my lord, Janet
shall ... I will bring Janet."
"Certainly, I ask no better than that it should be my own doing,"
said Lord Ewyas, laughing; and to Janet's infinite surprise, nay,
almost terror, now her wish was granted, she found herself engaged to a
London ball for the next evening. The persons mainly engaged in this
affair being men, did not perceive the importance of the question of
dress, which might have justified Janet's assertion of impossibility;
and as for her, though the idea glanced through her mind at once, she
thought the white muslin which had been sent with her to London, would
do very well for her. After dinner she was bringing sugar for an
orange from the table to a little stand beside the fire, and said, "I
must not let a grain fall on my gown though," and then it occurred to
Mr. Ferroll what was passing in her head.
"That's your ball-dress, is it, Janet? how well you will look in a
London assembly; a heroine in book-muslin, with a simple blue ribbon."
Janet was ashamed, and lost all pleasure for that night. Nay, next
morning when she woke, her first thought was a heroine in book-muslin;
and when she saw her father, she dreaded the very name of the ball on
account of the book-muslin. But though careless of giving her
uneasiness, it was not his intention that she should appear without the
advantages which would do her justice. Breakfast was no sooner over,
and the newspaper read, than he bade her take her bonnet and come with
him. His wife's fashion-merchant was the person to whom he meant to go
at once, and proceeding with Janet along Grafton Street to Dover
Street, No. 16, he brought her into an abode of satin, flowers, and
mantles, such as she had no idea of.
"This young lady is going to-night to Lady Ewyas's ball."
"Oh, exactly, sir, we are sending home a dozen dresses for it."
"There must be a thirteenth, Mrs. Johnstone. I must depend upon you
to supply her with everything that is necessary; she must do you
credit, remember that."
"A dress, sir — an entire dress? you are very kind; however,
whether it is possible? it's absolutely eleven o'clock."
"Very true; the difficulties may be prodigious, but the success is
the more glorious. You see I throw her upon your mercy. Mrs. Ferroll
has so high an opinion of you, that I feel I can't do better."
"Mrs. Ferroll is most kind" (and, indeed, the bills incurred, and
the promptitude of payments were such as to inspire any milliner with
love). "Anything possible I will do. Here's a most beautiful thing; a
satin petticoat made up as you see, sir; the body might be covered with
this Brussels. I think this is exactly Mrs. Paul Ferroll's style."
"Very well, if that's the right thing for a girl."
"Well, indeed, I cannot say it
is the right thing, sir, as
you observe. Here's a most delicate moirée; but, no, no," said Mrs.
Johnstone, too generous to deceive a man and a girl who plainly knew no
better, "that is not a ball-dress neither. I really — but now I come
to think a little, there is a dress, if you had no objection,
which was made for a lady — I won't deceive you, it was made
for another lady, but I'm sure it might be altered for Miss Ferroll."
"What lady? what's the story? she did not like it, I suppose? that
will never do."
"Nay, sir, she did like it extremely. I recollect her very words —
'That's delicious, Mrs. Johnstone,' she said."
"Why did not she wear it then?"
"It was poor Miss Emsey," said Mrs. Johnstone, lowering her voice.
"Who died broken-hearted after her lover was arrested?" said Mr.
"That's it, sir; and the family got me to take back a few of the
best things. But, perhaps you would not like ......"
"I think it will suit her very well," said Mr. Ferroll, scarcely
casting a glance at the dress which an assistant was holding up in her
two hands. It was gay and youthful, the delicate gauzy texture, the
trimmings of downy feathers, the ribbons and fine lace, and exquisite
fabric of the soft shining petticoat beneath, all suited a young and
lovely form like her's; and Janet's heart beat as she put it on, and as
the skilful needlewoman undertook that it should fit her perfectly. The
head-dress, and all necessary concomitants, were examined; and with an
air of the most perfect simplicity, the dress contrived to combine
every quality which made it best and most expensive. Janet's belief
would have been too severely taxed had she known the total of the bill
lying by her father's request at the bottom of the deal box which
punctually brought home her gown that night. Janet was accustomed to be
well dressed, and was not herself aware of the manner in which this one
showed her beautiful person to advantage; but Mr. Ferroll felt it the
moment she came into the room ready for the ball, with flowers in her
auburn hair, and with the perfection of toilette tracing the outlines
of her form.
"I'm not too late, am I, papa?" said Janet, looking a little
fearful, as she saw him dressed, and standing at the table.
"No, no; besides you are worth waiting for." Janet coloured at her
father's praise, and looked at herself shily in the glass. It
reflected her father's face and figure also — the face and figure upon
which her own were modelled — the noble, intellectual expression, the
finely-wrought features, the just proportions; and his age no more
than five-and-forty, when though the beauty of youth is passed, the man
is in the perfection of mind and body. A pair most admirable were the
father and daughter, as they stood ready for the assembly, Janet
putting on her cloak lightly over her pretty dress to go down to the
Some servants were standing about to see the ladles go to their
carriages that night, as several had invitations for the ball. A
stately dowager had just swept down the stairs, well shawled, and the
odour of eau-de-Portugal still lingered where she had passed, when a
gentleman who had taken her down reascended, and looking up, as he
perceived figures meeting him on the stairs, Mr. Ferroll saw it was
their old friend Lahrotte. He knew Mr. Ferroll also at once, and with
his cheerful French tone of voice, and friendly hands both clasping the
one hand and arm of Mr. Ferroll, joyfully greeted him, but Janet he did
not immediately recognise. "Is it possible, not mademoiselle? not Miss
Jeanette:"? and no doubt César came into his mind — raw César, whom he
had proposed for the husband of this splendid young English lady.
Janet's pretty voice gladly greeted him, and there was more of respect
than he had thought it possible to feel towards the helpful, ready
young girl, in the way he took the hand she offered him.
"And what brings you to London?" said Mr. Ferroll. "You must not be
in England without coming to us at the Tower."
"I intend it; I'm glad a chance has brought me," said Lahrotte — "a
droll chance. You saw that lady going down." And he told how a very
great English woman had fallen ill, rather ill, at Bordeaux, and how
he accidentally had been called in, and had pleased her so well with
his treatment, that she had not rested till he had promised to
accompany her on her journey, and remain with her till her health
should be quite re-established in England. "I think she heard my name
through you, or some one who knows you — a milord: and, indeed, you
are a credit to me," he added, laughing, but gazing on Mr. Ferroll with
the admiration and interest which a surgeon takes in the patient he has
"That's possible," said Mr. Ferroll; "but, at all events, I'm
obliged to her for bringing you here. We are busy for an hour, going to
a ball which a country neighbour is giving; but I shall see you again
to-night, for if I take Janet I don't intend to be long there. And
remember, we must arrange a visit to the Tower — promise."
Lahrotte again went down stairs, giving his hand to Janet as she got
into the carriage, the old man wondering more and more at the
impression she made upon him in her full dress. But Janet's heart was
in the ball-room; she mounted the grand staircase, and entered the
reception rooms in silent delight. She had never seen a splendid house
thoroughly awake from its trance of chair-covers and silence before,
but now she beheld one not only awake, but adorned like herself in gala
attire. Lights sparkling, flowers wreathing, splendid colours on all
sides — figures, faces, voices, all keeping holiday; and what a new
light of jewels flashing around her. It was the splendour of the older
ladies which seized most upon Janet's imagination — ladies whose front
bore stars, whose gowns were looped and laced with diamonds, whose arms
carried manacles of diamonds, who flashed the colours of some
unearthly stone-rainbow as they moved. There were still more slender
forms in clouds of muslin and lace, but on those Janet looked as young
girls like herself; it was the jewelled elders who had all her
With gradual progress they advanced through the rooms, where the
master of the feast met them with expressions of cordial welcome
brought out by the contribution of beauty and novelty which the
daughter bestowed on his ball, and by the pride of having a literary
lion like the father, who had scarcely ever been seen before in the
circles of London. And taking Janet's arm under his, he led her through
the crowd to present her to Lady Ewyas. All eyes turned on the group,
and not one satisfactory answer could he given to the universal
question of who she was, until from the crowd, with whom Lord Ewyas
exchanged greetings and words as he led Janet along, pressed out a
young man, and was the only one, as it seemed, who had the privilege
from former acquaintance of speaking to the beauty of the night.
"Oh, Hugh," cried Janet, stopping and drawing away her hand to give
it heartily to the young man, "you here? When did you come back?" Then
she turned to look for her father, and authorize her greeting, by first
making Hugh's presence known to him. Mr. Ferroll saluted him more
ceremoniously, without pleasure and without surprise; but Hugh had
neither eyes nor ears to dwell on any reception except that given by
Janet, nor to take notice of any presence except that of Janet, shining
in a loveliness such as he had never seen before. Lord Ewyas was not
surprised at the good fortune of his young kinsman in being thus
received by his beautiful guest, but all around, he became an object
of the envy of those who looked on Janet for the first time. Janet's
spirits were fluttering gaily, and her heart all open, not
sentimentally, however, but according to the scene around her. She was
very glad to see an old friend to share her pleasure, and to be her
safeguard among all these strangers.
"Hugh," she said, after he had told her that he was just landed,
&c., "I am so glad you are here; now I shall be sure of a partner."
"Oh, Janet, I am afraid ......" said Hugh, and stopped.
"What?" said she, fearful of having advanced too boldly; "oh, I dare
say you are engaged all night, Hugh. I did not mean ......"
"Nay, nay, what
I mean is, that I am afraid
have far too many partners to remember me." And at this moment Lord
Ewyas, who did not want her to engage herself to an obscure country
neighbour, called away her attention, and almost directly made his way
with her to his wife.
Lady Ewyas was surprised and charmed. Her ball brought out the girl
who plainly was to be the beauty of the season, and her own patronage
would be rewarded with having first claims on the beauty to adorn all
her great doings. She rose graciously, said right things to Mr.
Ferroll, and, regretting Mrs. Ferroll's absence, added, that she
herself must insist on replacing her for the evening in the care of
"It will enable my little girl to prolong her pleasure," said Mr.
Ferroll; "for I am obliged to see a friend, and must have taken her
away early." Lady Ewyas would hear of no such thing: Mr. Ferroll told
his daughter he would return for her.
"And if you claim her too soon," said the lady, "my sister is
staying in your hotel, and will bring back your daughter, I am sure —
won't you, Annie?" she added, addressing a stately matron near her, who
bowed all her jewels, and said, "Yes," Janet's heart quailing at the
thought of depending on such magnificence. "Sit down," said Lady Ewyas,
making room on her own sofa. "Are you engaged to dance yet?"
"Oh, no," said Janet.
Lady Ewyas smiled. "I think here's an applicant then," said she,
looking towards a young man who had his eyes fixed on Janet after a
glance from the lady. "It's Lord Trevil, my son; you don't how him?"
"No, I only know ......"
"Nobody," said Janet, "except ......"
"Except whom?" said Lady Ewyas.
But Janet had no mind to pronounce Hugh's name, though conscience
forbade her to declare her ignorance absolute; and the son of the house
now came up, and was introduced by his mother, of whom he had desired
the introduction by a look.
"And, Trevil," said Lady Ewyas, as they were moving away, "mind you
are to bring her back to me when the quadrille is over, I'm her
chaperon. Remember that, Miss Ferroll." Under these auspices did Janet
dance the first dance of her first ball, and was puzzled at the close
of it to find how many more dances she might immediately engage in if
such was her pleasure. Hugh, however, claimed her while others were
obliged to be seeking introductions, and she had a delightful feeling
of security and ease while he was her partner. "How good-natured people
are, Hugh," she said; "though nobody knows me, there are three who
have already asked to be introduced to me to dance, and it is not for
want of partners, for there are plenty."
"Not plenty like you," said Hugh; "you can't think that, and look in
one of those great mirrors."
Janet looked and was pleased with herself. "Oh, I am all very well,"
she said; "but certainly no better, nor nearly so well as a great
"Lord Trevil seems to think you are; for you are going to dance
again with him, are you not?"
"Oh, yes; but then he is obliged to be civil to his mother's guests
— particularly as she is so very kind to me."
"Obliged to be civil! It is very well you don't depend for dancing
on that, Janet."
"But come, Hugh, there is an exquisite waltz. How beautiful it is —
how it is played. Let us begin," said Janet, making a step or two, as
if she had been alone at home.
"Enchanting!" said a voice at her side. She looked hastily, and saw
a man of middle age, with a glass hung round his neck, but he was near
enough to see her without its help. His gaze was fixed on her. He was
smiling as she looked up, and made the half of a bow, from which,
however, her eyes sank, and resuming her good behaviour hastily, she
walked away with her partner.
"That's Sir Henry Cronet," said Hugh. "His approbation is thought
more of than anybody's. How he admires you."
"Laughs at me, I think," said Janet; "but I did not know anybody
was looking at me." Too humble, however, to resent being laughed at,
she soon engaged with full enjoyment in the waltz, and whirled round on
Hugh's arm, as happy as when they were facing some steep hill together,
and exercise called up their health and spirits. They paused at length
for a few minutes, and then this same Sir Henry came up with Lord
Ewyas, whom he had engaged to present him to Janet.
"This is your first ball, Miss Ferroll? though I need not ask that,
as it is the first time I hear your name."
"It is the first, and I am afraid the last," said Janet. "We are
going home to-morrow."
"Oh, of course you return for the season. I know you will. I am an
old prophet, and assure you that we shall meet in at least six
ball-rooms every week during the months of May and June."
"I might get tired of quite so many," said Janet, doubtfully.
"Do you think so already?"
"Oh, no. It does not seem to me as if there were anything so
"You are not like the peasant at Pisa. I asked a very young girl —
very young indeed, what she thought of a luminara, which had made the
blasé of us exclaim with pleasure. 'Non c'è male,' said she,
"I could not say that, when I think it is the most lovely thing, and
the pleasantest, I ever saw in my life," said Janet.
"Your life cannot have had time yet for many such things," said Sir
"Oh, yes, I am old enough; but I have had no such opportunity —
have I?" she said, appealing to Hugh, who had stood by silent.
"Then take my advice- take an old man's advice, as they say in play
books — make the most of the feast while your appetite lasts — you
will be tired of it before the shows have ceased to court you; or if
that face could fade — you would find the shows cease to care
for you, before you were tired of them."
Janet paused before she answered, looking at him with the words on
her lips, but not quite sure if she should venture them or not. "That
will be all fair, if I cease to be pretty," said she at last, half
afraid that he would think her silly or flippant; but the
mot from such
a beautiful mouth, especially accompanied by that shy, appealing look
for mercy, had vast success.
Sir Henry applauded, and went away to tell it. "Such an exquisite
creature; and such a mind too! But who is that Mr. Bartlett?" However,
Hugh did indeed get little opportunity to enjoy his superior intimacy
with the beauty. Lord Trevil, the son of the house, was deeply
enamoured of her for that evening; and so many at last had been
presented and engaged her hand, that Janet was bewildered, and forgot
them all. People saw how it was; that she was totally inexperienced,
and that what little she knew of the rules of society, was
technical, and leaned merely by rote, while in all its principles
, she was a proficient, because they belonged to her habitual
intercourse and good sense — her mis- takes, therefore, were
delightful, and all about her delightful.
"Perfectly dressed too — is she rich?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know of what family she is."
"She's Paul Ferroll's daughter, the author."
"Oh, really; people say
he is very rich. The man who will
never go out anywhere?"
"Yes; that's he. He lives in —shire."
"Oh, yes; he never got over his first wife's death, did not he?"
"Well, I've heard something about it. Is this her girl? Who was
"I don't think she was anybody."
"Oh, but you know she was murdered."
"Was that what made him recluse? What was it? Did they think he
"Pshaw! what nonsense you do talk."
"I did not know. Is he here?"
"Yes; somebody said so."
"No; somebody said he was gone."
"And left his daughter! How very odd."
"He is very odd."
"Is he? What is it? Is he mad?"
"Pho! There's another accusation on the poor man."
"Oh, I don't accuse him. I know nothing in the world about him.
There's the duchess; and there is the Prince of Piedmont — royalty."
Lady Ewyas, even in receiving royalty, did not forget Janet. She
called to her sister to receive her charge from the hand of Lord
Trevil, with whom Janet had last danced; and the other great lady took
hold of her arm, as if she had been her daughter, and walked about
"Your mother is in town, my dear?" said she.
"No; mamma is at home. Mamma is not very strong."
"Ah, that's the reason you are here alone. It is rather a trying
position, my dear; but you must be the more prudent. I have some
experience. You see that lady with sapphires, and white velvet; she's
pretty, is not she?"
"Most lovely," said Janet, earnestly, as she caught sight of the
person in question — a lady in the full blaze of a young matron's
"She's my daughter. Now I always said to her — you are pretty, and
people will tell you so; but they will say a great deal more than they
mean, and you must believe a great deal less than they say. And so it
will be even with you; trust me when I tell you so."
"With me?" said Janet. "Oh, that lady is very different from me."
"Different she is. You are far handsomer — are you not?" said Lady
—, perceiving that Janet most honestly believed in her own
"Oh!" said Janet, blushing deeply, "papa told me to-night I looked
well; but I believe it was only this new dress."
Lady — laughed. "Did nobody else say the same?"
"Except my old play-fellow; but I have known him all my life."
"And these young men with whom you have been dancing."
"They could not say
that, as they know me so little; but they
were all very good-natured and lively."
"My pretty little thing," said Lady —, "unless your old
playfellow, whom you have known all your life, has an interest in that
heart of yours, you are in some danger here."
"What danger?" said Janet, quickly.
"Well, well, I'll take some care of you."
"Miss Ferroll," said Hugh, "are you engaged?"
"Yes, Mr. Bartlett," said Janet, smiling gaily, for she thought her
old friend was thus formal, merely for raillery's sake.
Hugh looked very grave, and retreated, making her a low bow. "What
can he mean?" said Janet, "he looks angry — may I go for an instant?"
and gently but swiftly withdrawing her arm, she went a few steps and
half-beckoned, half went to meet Hugh. "I spoke as you spoke,
Hugh — of course I did not mean it".
Hugh's face cleared like a summer's sky — he knew better than she
did, the value of her advance, and how it would be envied him by
others. "Then, Janet, will you dance with me?"
"I can't this time; nor the next, but as soon as I can."
"And when will that be?"
"I really don't know, but don't go far, Hugh, and me when nobody
else wants me — I must go back to Lady —"
"Who's that, my dear?"
"His name is Hugh Bartlett."
"Not your brother, not your married cousin. Is he the playfellow
you've known all your life?"
"You are going to be married to him." Janet coloured deeper than
ever, so that the tears came into her eyes.
"Oh, certainly not."
"Well, I think your mother might be of use to your prospects in life
— why, child, you might marry anybody."
Janet seemed to think this had very little to do with the ball, or
with her, and made no reply. She had great interest in hearing the
names of people of whom she had hitherto only read, and whom she now
saw with her eyes, and amused her chaperon by her astonishment that
such a one could be the prime minister, and another the Secretary for
Foreign Affairs. "It is very foolish," said Janet, "but it seems to me
quite odd to see the Prime Minister, with his spoon eating ice — and
see he is bringing a chair for that lady."
"That man, by the fire, is —," said Lady —.
"Really; and in his book he is all over dirt, and eats a fish's
"And the one coming in, do you hear that name?"
"Oh, yes — let me see
him; how does he look when nobody
would so much as fire one pistol at him."
"What an odd idea."
"Now they are going to dance again."
"Miss Ferroll, allow me to claim you," said the partner who was
happy enough to have engaged her. And Janet danced on delighted. It
was very late, when her father not appearing, Lady — proposed to take
her to the hotel. Janet was ready, though still engaged.
"Let me take you down to the carriage," said Lord Trevil, giving his
arm, and next assisting in the cloaking — a most unexampled attention
on his part to any young lady. "The ball is over now, Miss Ferroll,"
he said, "I shall go to bed."
"Is it," said Janet, "then that's the best thing you can do."
"Nay, you pretend to misunderstand me," said he; "you know that
there is no more pleasure in it now you are gone."
"That would be a very great pity," said Janet, "for
never be at another, I am afraid."
"Are you afraid — are you sorry?"
"With all my heart," said Janet, "and thank you for making it so
"Thank me! have
I made it pleasant?"
"To be sure. I mean to say ......" The noise at the door drowned her
voice; at least Lord Trevil did not catch her words.
"What did you mean to say?" he asked, stooping, and rather impeding
"I mean, I wish ......" but Lady — cried to her to get in quickly,
and with a "good night," she sprang into the carriage, and the gay
scene faded behind her.
"I mean, I wish ......" said he to himself, laughing, and he went up
stairs to tell his giddy friends that the beautiful Miss Ferroll's last
words to him were "I wish ......"
"I wish you good night, I suppose," said Sir Henry. "Certainly she
is a most exquisite creature; and so simple."
Mr. Ferroll was in the sitting room, alone, when she came in,
writing at the table. He was kind in inquiring into her pleasure, and
told her that next day he would stay in London till the evening, so
that she might sleep as long as she pleased; and be in no hurry to join
him in the morning. Janet was not aware of it, but she was
tired; and whatever were her resolutions when she went to bed, her
slumbers remained unbroken far into the next day.
Not so young Bartlett's — he had seen the object of his faithful
devotion become the point of attraction to the most practised and
fastidious circle, and however great his own admiration of her had
been, he found it had not been great enough, when judged by the opinion
of the world and of the most refined observers. Jenny, Jeannie, Janet,
his old playfellow was the beauty of a great London circle — the
courted and admired of all; and could he bear the prospect of losing
that first place in her favour to which he had always looked as the
object of his wishes, but of which he had felt secure till to-night.
But for Mr. Ferroll's strange opposition she would have been already
his promised wife, but now with such homage surrounding her, could he
bear to lose a minute's turning this might be, into it is
? He slept scarcely an hour, and waking, too impatient to bear the
attitude of repose, started up and dressed, and took his impetuous way
to Mr. Ferroll's hotel, where his inquiries were answered by finding
Mr. Ferroll alone, his solitary breakfast concluded, and the table
relaid for Janet.
"Good morning, Hugh, you are a very early visitor," said Mr.
Ferroll, formally shaking hands with him.
"Unwelcome too," said Hugh, "perhaps; but whether I am so or not, I
am come to speak to you, Mr. Ferroll, on the one subject which fills my
heart and mind. You have prevented me hitherto, but to-day I must
"If you are aware that I have prevented you, you are aware that I
have only an unfavourable answer to give."
"No, I am not, I will not be aware of it," said Hugh, "there is no
reason why it should be unfavourable. You know, Mr. Ferroll, that I
love Janet, I have loved her all my life."
"And has Janet said the same to you, and sent you to me?"
"No, she has not — she feels your influence and dares not — what
do I say? forgive me, but at last I must speak out. I believe, yes, I
do believe Janet could love me, if you allowed her — and why not allow
her; why come between a man and all the happiness of life — a man to
whom her happiness would be his — what is there in me, Mr. Ferroll, to
cast me away as you do ? I tell you truly I love her with all my heart,
and I do entreat you give her to me — why should you not?"
Mr. Ferroll was silent for a few moments, but the defences he had
raised had all been swept away by the impetuous straightforwardness of
the lover. "Why should I not? Hugh, at least you know that all your
life I have been withholding you from that question — have I not?"
"Yes; but now I
will ask it," said Hugh.
"You are brave — you are manly — you are good, Hugh," said Mr.
Ferroll. "I have acted for your good — though I don't claim that as a
merit, for it was not of that I thought — but you have set yourself
above me, you have taken the part you had a right to take. Hugh, I have
something to ask of you. Everything about me assures me there is a
crisis coming in the great malady of life. I have a struggle going on
at this moment which no one can know or share. Do me a kindness, a
favour, Hugh — forbear your suit for a month longer. Let me be so
long, the same opposer of it that I have hitherto been. After that let
us talk of it again if you will." Mr. Ferroll took his hand and pressed
it, but instantly let it go. Hugh was quieted, overpowered by the
manner of a man whom he had hitherto seen asserting such superiority to
him. He had not thought when he entered the house that anything could
have caused him to leave it again without having extorted permission to
advance his just suit to Janet, yet the new light in which Mr. Ferroll
placed himself, altered his feeling, and he acquiesced with an emotion
of almost awe. "What can he mean?" was a natural question to himself —
but there was hardly a temptation to ask it of Mr. Ferroll, and none to
repeat the conversation to anyone else.
That evening the father and daughter returned to the Tower, and
Janet was talkative almost for the first time, in telling her mother
about the ball. The attention she had received amused her excessively;
she repeated the most silly and the most witty of the pretty speeches
made to her, as if she had been telling them out of a book. She would
have heartily enjoyed more of the same pleasure, and there was such
simplicity and such
finesse in her enjoyment, that both parents felt
for the first time, how in scenes congenial to her youth and qualities,
she would open to the sun, like the freshest rosebud that ever unfolded
in a May morning.
Mrs. Ferroll said something when alone with her husband, about the
expediency of letting her see the world, but Mr. Ferroll gently told
her, that she, his wife, was his only, and must think of no one else.
"We might have been one earlier in our lives. We lost years which we
might have enjoyed; we have been together but eighteen years: and if
one die before the other, we shall want the remembrance of having
enjoyed all days we could. No, Nelly, you chose me; you are my
partner, not Janet's. Look at me, think of me. Be with me ......
while we can."
Mrs. Ferroll said no more, wished no more, but had a vague purpose
of doing something for Janet when the weather should be fine. Mr.
Ferroll saw her pondering, and said, "But there's a thing I forgot to
tell you, which really comes on purpose to realize your wish to give
Janet a little dissipation. Here it is ready to your hand. Some one is
coming to see you."
"That's strange enough just as I was wishing for it."
"But, alas! it is not a man for the silver dishes. Guess."
"Well, it is no other than old Lahrotte; we met him in London. A
sick lady has engaged him to accompany her to England, and he means to
pay us a visit before his return. Janet," he said, calling to her,
"remember that your old friend Lahrotte is coming to see you."
The colour flushed into her face, for at the unusual circumstance of
any appeal made to her by her father, she fancied he referred to
César, and to the suit he had once favoured; and she looked at him
Mr. Ferroll laughed. "You have not forgotten César then?"
"No, papa," she said shily, but venturing to speak because he
laughed, "nor yet how I caught his pony when it ran away."
"And threw his suit, if not him," said her father, smiling. "Well,
well, it is only my kindly old surgeon, Nelly, who is coming."
"Oh, in a few days, I believe. Did not he say so, Janet ?"
Meantime, while Janet had been enjoying her pleasant glimpse of
London, and while they then talked of domestic arrangements, poor old
Martha had been passing her time in the terrors of prison, her trial
hanging over her head. It promised to be a trial of great interest and
excitement, and all the county people who had an appetite for mental
food of a strong taste and nourishing quality were to be present. To
the Ferroll family it was of course a painful subject, and one which
never was talked of even among themselves; so that Janet was scarcely
aware any such existed, and Mrs. Ferroll avoided it as an ungainly,
unnecessary pain, in the midst of prosperity. There was an
understanding between her and her husband that such a painful
circumstance existed, but it was one which, like other personal
sufferings, the modesty of nature would naturally avoid bringing under
discussion, and into notice.
Mr. Ferroll usually took his part in the county business, and was
present at the periodical meetings: but from this one he abstained in
his magisterial character, and was not summoned on the trial of old
Martha in that of a witness. The attorneys on both sides had questioned
him, but his impression was so decided of the innocence of the accused,
and yet his recollection so exact of circumstances which were evidence
against her, that neither party ventured to call him. At the Tower it
was, therefore, as if no such event were going on as that which made
the conversation of the other drawing-rooms of the county.
It was one evening at this moment, not long before the time for
dressing for dinner, that Mr. Ferroll came into the room where his wife
and Janet were arranging flowers, and told the former he was suddenly
summoned to the county town, and they must dine without him.
"I'm so sorry, Paul; it is dark already — it's raining; we have
been putting fresh flowers ready for you. Must you go?"
"Good bye, Elinor," he said, not seeming to hear what she said.
"But you'll come back to-night?"
"Yes, yes, come back!......"
"Ah, you mean no."
"I am going, dearest; I came to say good bye." He took her by the
hands, and kissed her; and seeing her look inquiringly at him, said,
with a sudden laugh, "Are you going to have one of your panics? Do you
think I can't find my way in the dark? Nay, nay, there may be moonlight
for aught I know. As your cousin Rose said, one never can tell when
there may be a moon." And holding and pressing her hand a moment, he
went away. In a minute more he came back, and stood looking into the
"Have you lost something ? Do you want anything?"
"No, I had forgotten how that picture hung; I should have been
tormented if it had not been clear to my mind's eye. Farewell."
Janet, to whom he had said nothing, had been a close spectator, and
was frightened at what she observed in his manner. She followed him
into the hall, and saw him leaning on the table like a man trying to
draw breath which would not come. When he saw her, he started upright.
"Janet, what are you doing here?" he said, severely.
"Well, I want nothing — what's the matter?"
"Are you well?"
"Did she send you?" said Mr. Ferroll.
"No, mamma did not send me. I was afraid you ......"
"Be afraid, Janet, and say nothing. Take care of your mother
— be tender, be officious to her; now I am going."
He went towards the door; Janet still followed, but he took no
notice of her. She laid her hand on his arm, but did not dare detain
him; and as if unconscious that she was there, he descended the steps,
and she saw him mount his horse, and ride swiftly away alone, and
quickly disappear in the darkness. He galloped on while he was in
sight of his own house, then relaxed his speed, and collected his
thoughts, which had been absorbed by one object — in quitting his
wife. But now again the ideas which had governed him, and fashioned his
conduct for years, resumed their full influence; he was about to act in
the presence of men, and gentle feelings were no longer suffered to
affect his mind or his conduct. It was late when he arrived at Bewdy.
The business of the day was over, and the persons engaged in it were
eating and drinking, and resting from its excitement. The sheriff for
this year was Sir Amyas Rufford, one of those gentlemen who had been
most eager in his offers of service when Mr. Ferroll had been accused
of the death of the rioter. He was at the judges' dinner; and to their
lodgings Mr. Ferroll proceeded, and requested to speak to Sir Amyas in
a private room. The request excited some surprise, for he kept so
entirely aloof from the county, that no one could recollect an instance
in which he had sought an interview with any of them. Sir Amyas went
to him at once, and after slight greetings, Mr. Ferroll began — "I
heard an hour ago, Sir Amyas, that a verdict had been given against
Martha Franks for the murder of my first wife."
"Aye," thought Sir Amyas to himself, "of course, that's his
business. How came we not to think of that?" and said aloud, "It's very
true, the evidence satisfied the jury."
"But they are wrong."
"What's your reason for thinking so? have you any proof sufficient
to demand a new trial for her?"
"I am the murderer!" said Mr. Ferroll. Sir Amyas heard, what his
mind could not receive; the words were there, but not the meaning. Mr.
Ferroll spoke again. "Another person must not suffer for my deed." The
next and the nearest supposition of Sir Amyas, when he said this, was
that his reason was gone; he sought involuntarily to justify this
"You are agitated," he said; "this horrible business has been
brought distressingly before you......"
Mr. Ferroll smiled. "I don't think you can say I am agitated. I tell
you the truth in the most simple form. I declare myself guilty; but I
should not have done so if the sentence had not fallen on another
person. Had that woman's innocence been pronounced, suspicion could
have attached to no one, and I should have continued to keep my secret.
In order to assure any other person from the consequences of
suspicion, should I have been dead, or by any means prevented from
presenting myself, I deposited in writing an account of the deed,
together with the instrument of it, in the coffin of that woman.
Search, and find it if you will."
Sir Amyas sprang up in horror, retreating a pace or two hastily, and
his face contracting with the expression of detestation and pain. "And
you have lived amongst us ......"
"Yes, but not with you. No one can say I have been his guest — no
one can say I have received any good office at his hand; I have been
churlish to prevent all from crossing my threshold; I have been of use
to some of you, but I have been the companion of none. My wife ......"
"And she too — oh, horrible!"
"She! don't speak so. I tell you she is pure as angels are pure. She
believes me, still she believes me a fit object of her pride and love.
It is coming upon her, but no matter. Have not I kept even her
the secluded property of these hands, which you so detest? My
daughter I have prevented from matching with any of you ......"
"Ah! God — poor, poor things!"
"True; but it is of myself only I came to speak. I come to die for
the deed I have done."
"Hardened, impenitent!" said Sir Amyas, flushing with horror and
"It is not the first time I have contemplated this extremity, Sir
Amyas. I am not here to justify, nor to condemn myself, nor, in fact,
to do any but the simple thing of putting myself into the hands of
justice. The forms of a trial must be gone through, but I shall take no
steps except those which will assist the court in satisfying itself of
the truth. You must commit me, and I wish it might be done without
Sir Amyas muttered something about consulting, and moved towards
the door; then looked back perplexed, the ideas of a felon and of
escape being entangled in his mind. "Don't fear to leave me alone,"
said Mr. Ferroll, smiling. "I had no thought of avoiding justice when I
came to deliver myself up to you to-night."
The high sheriff went out, stunned with what he had heard, and
hardly yet believing the evidence of his senses. He went to tell the
story, and to concert what to do, bidding instinctively a servant watch
at the door, and allow no one to come out. Mr. Ferroll was alone, and
he did not remain a moment absorbed in the past interview, but at once
turned to the table, where there were writing materials, and sat down
to profit by the few minutes he should probably pass before the return
of Sir Amyas.
"MY ELINOR — We have parted for the last time. I committed a
crime to win you eighteen years ago, and I must die for it. Scarcely an
hour during that time has the moment which is now come been absent from
my mind. I have acted over this scene a million times in my
imagination, but never in all those times parted from you with a jest
as I did in reality just now. Wife, mistress, darling, my joy, my life,
you cannot hate me, though all else already do so. You cannot; when you
read this, you and I alone in the world shall love one another, for I
am a murderer, but you are my wife. This scene has been so long present
to my imagination, that I can hardly feel it is new to you; and I
cannot write at leisure to bring you gently to it. One word must make
you believe it by violence. Elinor, I swear it is true. My darling, you
know I have told you to apply to Harrowby if ever trouble came upon
you, and I should be away: and also, dearest, for my sake, in all your
misery, open and examine the iron drawer, of which I hung the pretty
golden key round your dear neck, and told you to wear it for my sake.
There have been many words between us, Elinor, which you will
understand better now than when they were spoken. And now, and here,
end eighteen happy years.
"I am, for two perhaps three days yet,
"Your living, loving husband,
He folded and sealed the letter, and stood holding it in his hand
until footsteps were heard approaching, and the door re-opened to
admit Sir Amyas and two other gentlemen. No trace of emotion appeared
on his face; and those to whom this was a sudden and new horror could
not reconcile their emotion about it, and the calm of the man whose
pride in the first place ruled his conduct, and from whose mind it had
not been absent, as he wrote to Elinor, for an hour. He repeated what
he had said before, and then silently let them exhaust the wonder,
dread, and abhorrence, which he excited, waiting till they should
proceed to the forms by which he was consigned to the felon's apartment
in the county gaol. The judges, whose business had been concluded,
delayed their departure the next day for this unexpected call upon
them; the courts were reopened, the lawyers all eager to share in so
interesting a cause; but Mr. Ferroll summoned no one, and passed the
long night in solitary communings with himself. Whatever he might feel,
it was easy for a man with such habits of self-command, perfectly to
conceal it for the few minutes during which the officials of the gaol
came into his room. He had asked and obtained a messenger for his
letter to the Tower; indeed, the man of business whom he usually
employed, had, in kind feeling to the yet unconscious wife, taken
possession of it, and carried it to the Tower himself. He was not
aware, however, how perfectly ignorant of what had happened Mrs.
Ferroll was; and he placed the letter in her hand with no other
preparation for his dismal news than his grave and sorrowful face.
Janet's heart died within her when she saw him. She had said
nothing, but she had been filled with terror by her father's manner and
words, and had waited ever since, listening for bad tidings and
expecting them. But how far short of the reality had her imagination
fallen in its worst conjectures! How little could she interpret her
mother's face, which she watched reading the fatal letter! The furthest
suspicion of the truth had never crept on her mother's mind; and yet in
the course of eighteen years' devotion to and from her husband,
materials had accumulated there unknown to herself, like the growth of
fire in the gradually-heated homestead which breaks out in universal
flame at last, consuming the beloved home at once. She could understand
enough to believe all; the broad flame spread a dreadful light which
flashed on her brain and her heart; she sank on the floor like one
withered by the stroke, life ebbing from all its strongholds. Janet's
arms caught her, but she, too, could only fall beside her.
"But he is not dead," said Janet, "for he writes." Death was as yet
the bitterest calamity her imagination could conceive. Her mother
neither heard nor answered. She clung to her child instinctively; but
except the gasping of her breath, no sound was heard from her. "Tell
me what it is!" cried Janet, looking up distracted to Mr. Monkton's
face. "Where is my father?" He shook his head — the tears overflowing
his eyes. "Where?" cried Janet, rising as far as she could out of her
mother's unconscious hold.
"I can't, I can't," sobbed the kind-hearted man. "Read that; perhaps
he tells all."
Janet took the letter from his hand, for he had picked it up from
the floor, and in vain read it eagerly through. "They are going to
kill him!" she said, bewildered. "Mamma, mamma, speak to me. Save
him!" She rose up vehemently; and Mrs. Ferroll, almost like one who had
already lain in the grave, struggled to rise. Mr. Monkton helped her,
and the servants whom he had already summoned, ran in; but when she
recovered consciousness enough to stretch her hand for the letter, the
touch of it seemed to pierce her again with a vital wound, and groaning
deeply, she sank into a swoon. They carried her to her bed, and a groom
rode off impetuously for the useless help of the doctor, Janet vainly
attempting to arouse the veiled faculties, and to renew the vital
action of the mother, to whose arms she would fain have fled for
Mr. Monkton could not bear it. He took the oldest of the servants
aside, the wife of that Capel who had been with them at Pontaube, and
made her understand the real nature and full extent of the misery, and
promising to return, and do anything — if, indeed, there were any
possible thing to be done — rode away, leaving the burthen of
explanation to her. He returned in haste to the town, where every mouth
was full of one only subject — the trial of to-morrow; and, indeed,
the morrow was very near its dawn before discussion of what it would
bring forth was over.
Again a prisoner in the same court, and for the same offence, but in
how changed a position! His answer now to the question of the
challenger was at once "Guilty." "You have evidence against me there?"
he said, pointing to a heap which had been covered with a black cloth
by one of the attendants of the court, and which was placed on a table.
The cloth upon this was removed, and a discoloured box, bound with
iron, appeared below, of small dimensions, out-side which was fastened
The clergyman of the parish where the Tower stood was examined as a
witness. "What do you know respecting this box?"
"I received a request from the judge last night, at a late hour, to
permit and attend the opening of the vault and coffin where the late
Mrs. Ferroll was buried. By daybreak this morning it was done."
"What did you find there?"
"I found among the remains of the body, and of the grave-clothes,
the box which you see."
"Was there any appearance that the coffin or vault had been opened
since the interment?"
"None; the vault was closed with masonry."
"Enough, sir. Open the box."
It was done; and expectation held all in such silence, that the
grating of the key was heard throughout the court. The contents were
lifted out; Mr. Ferroll's eyes fixed upon them with the resolution of a
man wound up to give no sign of emotion. All others, according to the
force or weakness of their nerves, were awaiting the impression about
to be made. There was a cloth largely and darkly stained — the red
hue in most places had deepened into brown. As it was opened, the
emotion of the man who unfolded it, caused him to drop the object it
contained, and it fell on the table with a clanging sound. He took it
up, and showed it. It was a pointed knife with a long handle; and on
the handle was something written, not engraved, but plainly worked in
with common ink. "Read it," said the judge.
"It's a name, my lord."
Another piece of discoloured cambric was next taken out. It was a
woman's handkerchief, and in the handkerchief was wrapped a watch.
There was besides a bit of parchment, safely secured between two leaves
of iron, and on it, when taken from between them, was still easily to
be read, "I, Paul Ferroll, did this deed."
As the disclosure of these things ended, the murmur of popular
indignation broke out. There was the stir of human feeling through the
court. It was checked by the authorities; and then Mr. Ferroll
requesting to be heard, stood statelily before them all, and spoke —
"It is not the sight of those objects, nor the position in which I
stand which gives me any new feelings respecting the deed of which I
have declared my guilt. I have been aware, from the moment of its
commission, that this time might come, and have constantly acted with a
view to it. I took measures which effectually concealed my crime; and
also I took measures by which I might declare it should any other
person be in danger of suffering innocently for it. The vanity of the
poor old creature who was yesterday found guilty, has brought about the
catastrophe. She is the only person to whom suspicion could attach.
Had she escaped, or died, I should have been free to conceal this deed
to the end; and I intended to do so. I am not going to speak of what I
feel or what I think, respecting my crime. I resolved, when I was
eighteen years younger, to commit, and also to conceal it. I have
lived with the consciousness of it; and you are just in condemning me.
Beware, however, of involving another in my guilt. Believe that my deed
was a thing unsuspected by the wife who ...... by my wife. I could as
soon have made her person the object of public scorn, as I could have
opened to her innocent mind the guilt by which I bought her. She thinks
of me as one high in public opinion; as a man above the reproach of the
world; as proud, as standing alone. Believe me in this thing — you
believe when I come to confess I have done a deed for which I must
He said all this with a clear voice, which only once gave a sign of
faltering; and opinion, which is so easily moved, began to sway
towards him; but justice had no relentings, nor could have. There was
nothing more to be proved; nothing to be disputed. The great apparatus
of the law was reduced to-day to small compass. The prisoner had
pleaded guilty, therefore there was no question for the jury to decide.
The judge in few words expressed the horror of the deed, and the danger
of forgetting in sight of the prisoner's composure, that the reason for
his calmness was the familiarity which his mind had obtained with the
subject; and then proceeded to pronounce the last doom of the law —
the doom of Death.
Mr. Ferroll heard it quite unmoved. He had too much the habit of
self-control, to appear to feel a thing so entirely expected. When all
was over, and he was to leave the court, he looked round the
assemblage, searching for some one. He was looking for Hugh, and his
keen eye detected him in a shadowy part of the court. There was such
deep misery on his face, that Mr. Ferroll, who meant to look but for a
moment, kept his eyes fixed on him. Hugh half rose, observing his look;
an almost imperceptible, sad, motion of the head, expressed that to
which Hugh knew he alluded. The month was not yet gone which Hugh had
engaged to wait; but how ruinously was all over. "Poor, poor Janet!" he
said to himself, tears swelling into his eyes; and to avoid all comment
on the scene just passed, he forced his way through the crowd; and as
Mr. Ferroll was led out to the prison, passed hastily away at the
principal entrance. Among those who suffered this day, Hugh had
feelings as much torn, and prospects as utterly destroyed, as any. He
had cherished a wish all his life; latterly it had become a hope, and
he had given way with all the impetuosity of his youth to the passion
which he had so long nurtured. Now the whole glittering fabric had
vanished. The innocent and beautiful girl remained unchanged; but the
guilt of which she was so guiltless, separated her from him, as if it
had been her shroud. He heard on all sides talk about the trial. He
ascertained that the whole of to-morrow would pass before the law was
executed; and then leaving the town, and avoiding speech with anyone,
he returned to his home, long lingering when he came in sight of the
Tower, within which such misery was going forward. His sister met him
at the door of his own house as he came in. She had been weeping, and
when she saw him, tears broke out again. "There's more bad news," she
said; "poor Mrs. Ferroll ......"
"What of her? poor — poor thing!"
"She's dead, Hugh."
And they were both too young and prosperous to look upon death as
the gentlest doom that fate could bestow upon her.
"My mother must go to Janet," said Hugh, "or you."
"I would if I could be of any use; but they said, for Miss Harden
and I went to the house the back way, that Janet was not able to speak
to anybody. She was in the room with her mother; she died only this
morning. Mr. — was there about the funeral."
"But my mother could be of use — won't she go?"
"She said Janet should come here as soon as the trial is over and
Mr. Ferroll comes back — only ......"
"Comes back! nay, it is all too true."
"Mamma cannot believe that; but still she says, it is so very
unusual for a man to be tried for murder twice, that she thinks there
must be something very odd about him."
"Oh, Carry, it is beyond all words sad — and my poor Janet, can
nothing be done for her?"
"I don't think there can to-day. Miss Harden said we would go again
to-morrow, and the housekeeper said that would be best, for she told
us, that when she asked Janet what she could do for her, Janet said,
Will you please to let me be alone with mamma?"
Hugh turned away, and hid his face. Deep, indeed, was the gloom
spread over his house, and sadly passed the few hours remaining of the
early spring day. They went through the form of dinner, for it was
little more, and when his mother and sisters had left him, Hugh took
his hat, and in the now darkened evening, wandered out he did not
precisely determine whither. But his steps could take but one path, and
that was to the Tower. The gray building was shrouding itself in the
dusk; and calm in the silence of approaching night the garden with
early spring flowers, lay in its accustomed well ordered condition;
and in the meadows Hugh observed by the small lake which they enclosed,
the swans which had been an ornament and an object of interest. The
excited mind catches the impressions of small things when it is on the
stretch with greater. The petted animals who were sharing in the
downfall of human beings, and who wondered, according to their power,
at the absence of habitual care, struck him among other dismal
emotions. He went silently round to the other side of the garden where
it lay beneath Mrs. Ferroll's rooms. This side of the house had
belonged to her, and four of the windows were those of her bedroom and
boudoir. One of the latter was cut low to steps which went down to the
garden; and which were her habitual mode of access and egress. The two
windows of the bedroom at this time were half open and a narrow gleam
of light proceeded from them — the watch-lamp, doubtless, of the death
chamber. Hugh stood by the lower step and strained his ear to catch any
sound that might give him intelligence of the deathly house. But there
was no step nor voice nor rustle — heavy curtains closed over the open
windows, and nothing moved without or within — oppression and dread
were on Hugh's heart; pity for Janet that almost broke it swelled
within him; and the feeling grew, that without seeing her, and at least
saying how he mourned with her, it would be impossible to return to his
own serene home. He softly and slowly mounted the steps one by one,
pushed up the window and entered. The open door to the bedroom
admitted a faint beam which lighted him, but before he could advance, a
step rushed strongly forth to meet him, and Janet stood before him.
"You must not go there," she said, in a hoarse whisper, and pointing to
the door of the bedroom.
"Janet, it is I," said Hugh, who saw she did not know him. She
stopped and gazed a moment. "Hugh! I heard a step and thought it was
robbers," then her head sank on her bosom, her hands clasped themselves
over her face and she murmured, "I am too bold to speak to you so."
Hugh beheld her with mute agony.
"He had not seen her, since in Rod'rick's court
A radiant vision in
her joy she mov'd:" and now, pale and colourless as one wounded to
death, a black cloak or mantle wrapping her in its folds, shame on her
brow and in her attitude, she stood, and guiltless and lovely as she
was, bowed to the very dust by that which another had done. Hugh caught
her hands and gently drew them from her face, bringing a chair near her
and inducing her to sit down in it while speechless himself — there
was no comfort for Janet, he could but hold her folded hands in his,
and caress them with his own, trying involuntarily to convey his pity
and sympathy by that mute language. At last, "Janet," said he, "is no
one near you — are you here all alone?"
"Oh, yes, but they were very kind to me — they wished to watch, but
I begged them not. They could go to sleep, and you know I could not."
"But how cold you are; the night wind blows upon you — don't you
feel it very cold?"
"No, indeed, I did not know it was cold; but don't stay here; there
is too much misery in this house."
"And are you to bear it all alone? — oh, no, no, only let me be of
a little use to you."
"How good you are to think so kindly of me still."
"Why, wherein have
you done the shadow of wrong, Janet ?"
"Oh, but he — he," said Janet, shuddering through all her frame.
"Yet can it fall on your most innocent head?"
"Oh, but tell me ...... can it be possible ...... tell me what
horrible dream it is that has come upon us."
"Janet, it is all true."
"But they kill those who ......"
"Oh, God, my dear Janet; oh, my poor, miserable Janet."
"Kill him!" repeated Janet, "where is he now? I have never seen him
since the moment he went from the door — oh, he is dead already," she
cried, starting up, "and I meant to go to him, Hugh."
"He is alive yet," said Hugh.
"The day after to-morrow."
"One day! oh, sir," cried Janet, sinking on the ground before him,
"save him. I beseech you have pity upon us. Think what a death — you
are come here when all else despised and shunned us — you can be an
angel to us — save him."
"Do you believe I can, and that I do not?" said Hugh.
"You are the only one," said Janet, "you are free — you loved us
once — you can save him — oh, don't lift me up; the very earth
is the best place for me." Hugh kneeled beside her — lifted her head
on his shoulder; warmed her hands — she was silent for a long time,
but at last, with an old caressing gesture which he remembered in her
early childhood, she laid her hand upon his arm, and looking in his
face, said, "WILL you save him ?"
"You break my heart, Janet," he cried, striking his forehead
vehemently; "you shall be obeyed. I will die sooner than not try — but
till this moment I should have said it was a sheer impossibility; and
now — now, I say to you, hope nothing — believe me I will try, yet
"Only not to die so," said Janet.
"But your poor mother," said Hugh, trying to quit this worst of
"She is very happy to have died," said Janet. "I am glad; she could
not but die — but, indeed, I did not understand all till it
had killed her — now, however, she looks at peace." They both together
moved into the next room while Janet spoke; and went up to the bed,
where in the profound calm of death, the beloved and beautiful woman
lay. Janet spoke and felt calmly concerning her, but when she came and
stood there with a companion, gazing on that inanimate clay, her bosom
heaved, her eyes began to overflow, and sinking down she sobbed in a
smothered voice, "Oh, poor mamma, dear mamma!"
Hugh stood by in inexpressible compassion. His sympathy was the only
thing that could touch her, and broken words of pity, not comfort,
reached her ear. The agitation of her grief did not last long, for,
indeed, she was exhausted with suffering, and it was only when roused
by some new circumstance that her tired nature broke out into fresh
expression. "Janet," he said at last, when he saw her again rise, and
grow calm, "there must be things that ought to be done — were no
directions left you, nothing to do?"
"I don't know," said Janet. "See, he wrote; the letter is there, he
told her to open a drawer, and because he said 'for his sake,' she
tried to do it — oh, she was dying then."
"And you found?"
"Nothing but money," said Janet.
"That was to provide
her against all emergencies."
"No doubt," said Janet; "come and look into it." She drew open the
drawer, and there they found two packets, one of them seemed directed
with ink, not long since, fresh. It was labelled 'to pay bills.' Hugh
opened it and found it to contain money for the wages of the servants,
and to defray up to the present time current expenses, all of which
were detailed on a written paper. The other packet enfolded money to a
great amount. There were gold and notes for several thousand pounds.
"I will take this, Janet," said Hugh. "I will do something for you
with this, if it is possible. What else is there to do?" Unopened
letters lay on the table, which had arrived this very day. Hugh opened
them. Many were receipts for bills, which seemed to have been just
paid. There was one letter for Mrs. Ferroll from Mr. Harrowby, briefly
saying that the time was come to which he had been long desired to look
forward by her husband, when she might be in want of assistance; he had
to tell her that for many years an income had been secured for her in
the United States, and that in the course of a few days he would come
and put her into a way for speedily reaching it. There was another
letter in a foreign hand — this too he opened. It came from old
Lahrotte, who fixed the day for his visit; the conveyance by which he
was to travel would reach the county town early this very next morning.
Janet wrung her hands, thinking of a time when they were happy. Hugh
took possession of the letter, and said it might be of use. "And now,
dear, dear Janet," he said, "cannot you sleep an hour or two? You are
worn out, and ill. Do but lie on this sofa, wrap your cloak round you.
I will do it."
"I will try," said Janet meekly. "Thank you. You were always good to
me; but now, I did not think anybody could be kind again." Bitter
tears of shame stole through her fingers, with which she covered her
eyes to hide them. Hugh's voice was choked. He knelt down beside her,
the instinctive suggestion of nature to do her reverence in her deep
abasement; and laying hold of her cloak, kissed it. Janet caught his
hand, and pressed it in both hers. He rose, and fervently kissing those
cold trembling hands, said, "God bless you, Janet;" and gently
departed. Poor Janet lay there a few minutes with wide open eyes, and a
heart throbbing with the misery which oppressed her; but she could not
bear the position of repose. Before long she started up, and with
noiseless foot, as though the dead could be disturbed, walked through
and through the apartment. Then she came near the unchanging bed of
death, and longed that she likewise might flee away, and be at rest.
She knelt down, and sent her thoughts to Heaven; but how could she
pray? The objects of her fond heart were, one beyond the sphere of
prayer — and one, who had been her pride, her reverence, oh! where was
he? but the unworded appeal perhaps was heard and answered — for
while she kneeled, sleep came down upon her troubled spirit, and with
her head bowed on the bed of death, she slumbered. Hugh returned home,
only to order his horses, and to tell his mother, who was sitting up in
her room awaiting his return, that there was some business to be done
in Bewdy for the Ferroll family, and that he thought it better to go
there at once. Accordingly he did so, carrying with him the money found
at the Tower.
About eleven o'clock the next morning, a note was brought to Janet,
from Mr. Monkton (their man of business), begging to see her for a
moment, and when she went down to him, he told her that he had been
commissioned by Mr. Bartlett, to bring an old friend, a medical man, to
the Tower, and to inform her that he had obtained permission for her
admission to the prison, and that the gentleman alluded to would
accompany her. He himself was to remain at the Tower to make some
payments, which Hugh had pointed out, and which it was thought better
should be immediately accomplished, and other arrangements. Old
Lahrotte upon this came in. Janet had covered her face with a bonnet
and veil. She felt that Hugh must have some purpose in sending him; and
shrouding herself in her concealment, she received him, with a word of
"You will go?" said Lahrotte.
"Oh, surely, surely I will go."
"And how? Mr. Bartlett would have you quick. He said your little
pony carriage would be ready soonest. I shall order it."
"What you please," said Janet, not questioning anything appointed
for her to do. Mr. Monkton made no observation whatever. He felt that
the presence of any human being, in such a moment, must be torture to
Janet, and withdrew without a word, to do what he came for. The little
carriage was quickly at the door; and Lahrotte, though the day was
mild, wrapped himself closely in his cloak, while Janet, shrouding and
hiding herself as much as possible from observation, took her place by
his side, and they drove rapidly away towards Bewdy. Neither of them
said a word during the drive. Every fresh object so struck on Janet's
heart, that at last she covered her eyes with her thick cloak, and
ventured not to look up again. She felt it was an awful interview that
was approaching; to-day was almost more than she could bear; and beyond
to-day, she dared not for a moment carry her thoughts. But the patience
and modesty of her nature buried all expression of this inward tempest,
lower than could be penetrated by human eye. At last she felt the
rattle of the paved streets, and heard the sound of passers to and fro.
Almost more than before, she shrank under the cover of her thick cloak;
but at the most crowded part of the town, and at a moment when they
were compelled to move slowly by the crowd, Lahrotte for the first time
spoke to her, and asked her a question, which seemed strange at such a
moment, "Whether she could see to tell him by the market clock what was
the hour of the day?" Janet always meek, was now broken, and did as he
bade her. She uncovered her face and looked up, and was then aware that
several persons were looking at and saw her — their eyes seemed
burning flames to her, and cowering down again, she did not remark that
M. Lahrotte failed to inquire the result of her examination. At last
they stopped at the terrible gate of the prison. The porter examined
their permission, and put down their names; and the gaoler, Captain
Rede, came forward to receive them.
"Very well, sir, the time will suit exactly," he said to Lahrotte;
but Janet heard and heeded not. The reality seemed to grow as she
heard bolts and chains behind her, and saw the long passage strongly
framed within by walls and vaults. At last the door opened, which held
within such a fearful scene for Janet. She stood just within the cell,
trembling, and making no step in advance. Her father was writing, but
finding that whoever it was that had entered, did not address him, he
turned at last to see who was there, and the shining sunlight fell upon
"Janet, is it possible you come to see me? Where is your mother?"
"Mamma is dead," said Janet, her voice sinking like cold snow at the
"Dead!" he repeated. Father and child said no more. He stood as the
man wounded to death stands, about to fall. Janet crept towards him
step by step — she was afraid of him; the total pallor of his face,
his white lips, the dew gathering on his forehead, and his absolute
silence, struck her as if death were again present. She laid her hand
on him; she gently, then more strongly pulled his arm from its
position; she took her handkerchief, and wiped his forehead, now
beginning to cling about him, and calling upon his name. "My poor
child," he said at last, rousing suddenly; "do you cling to me? Have
you no safer shelter?"
"Oh, let me stay here," she said, as he put her gently away.
"This is no place for you. Don't you know what is to be to-morrow?"
"No, no," cried Janet, burying her head in his breast, and folding
her arms about him. "Don't talk so — oh, my father."
"Will you still call me father? Alas, poor darling, what have you
not yet to go through." It was very rarely that Janet had heard those
kindly words — the presence, the voice of the being whom she had
always so worshipped, put out of remembrance all that had darkened
over him the last two days. "Take me with you wherever you go. Don't
leave me alone in the world."
"Have patience. You will be better without me. I am ......"
"No, no," cried Janet, stopping her ears. "You are my father."
"But for one short day. Ruin, ruin, indeed. All dark at home; all
darker here. I had thought to have borne all. I forgot all my blessed
one and you, my child, had to bear. What will become of you to-morrow?"
"We will save you," said Janet, speaking low. "Hugh hopes."
"No one could wish, much less hope
that," said Ferroll.
"There was but one in the world to whom I could now be dear, and she
has died for loving me."
"Oh, yes, one more;
I love you," said Janet.
"Then you don't know all. In pity to you, they have hidden it from
"All, all," said Janet, shuddering; and her arms dropped from his
"No," he said calmly: "nor did I expect..." But for the first time
in her life she interrupted him.
"Oh, believe me, I love you. I have but you. I never had any but you
and mamma. She said, though it was in delirium, 'Save him—die
for him.' I would if I could, for love of both. Father, call me child."
"She said so," he repeated slowly. "Elinor, wife!" He bowed
his head; and Janet's tears burst forth. At this moment the door was
unlocked, and Captain Rede knocking first, entered. Mr. Ferroll became
calm by a mighty effort; and Janet covering her head with her bonnet
and veil, concealed her emotion. "Sir," said Captain Rede, "has the
young lady mentioned to you? Does she know ......"
"That you are free if you choose — that is, you have a good chance
for freedom. I have resolved to accept the young gentleman's proposal,
and having resolved, I am eager — yes, sir, eager, to carry it
"I do not in the least understand you."
"Well I dare say you may not; but a young gentleman came to me last
night — names are nothing — this morning rather; but I was not up;
and attacked me in a point where I'm tender. I have several reasons for
wishing myself in the United States with #2,000 in my pocket. It has
been the idea before me for a long time; and in my office in this
prison, I can live, it is true; but I can't save. Now that sum he puts
into my hands to-day, if I open the door for you. It's wrong, I know;
nay, it is a great crime."
"Don't commit it then," said Mr. Ferroll.
But Janet sank at his feet. "Save yourself, father — save
"Aye, for the young lady's sake, who is a tender bird in a rough
storm. No soul to take her home, innocent though she be."
"I came here knowing all that."
"Nay; not quite. You did not know the poor lady at home would die of
it; and what you came to do, sir, is done; the other life is safe; the
old woman was brought into court to-day, to be tried for the robbery,
but clear of all suspicion of the other affair. It was a strange
sight. I'll warrant your getting off if you'll undertake it. It's I
propose it, sir, though it goes against my integrity."
"I remember, sir," said Mr. Ferroll, with a smile, "when you were a
candidate for the gaolership, I objected to you on account of a trust
betrayed, which was said to be the first, and should be the last."
"It's strange enough to cast that in my teeth," said Captain Rede.
"I little expected the prisoner to object, if I did not."
"Oh, yes, listen to me," cried Janet, eagerly flinging herself
before him. "For God's sake, for all that is pitying, set us free."
"You are reasonable, madam," he answered. "There is not many a man
would prefer dying a dog's death, when another offers to carry him
through, and bear the blame into the bargain."
"And what is your plan?" said Mr. Ferroll, in whom the doom of
to-morrow was the fixed idea to which his mind was made up, and
admitted none of escape.
"The plan is good enough," said the Captain, "if the actors are
willing. It is now near one o'clock, when the workmen go to dinner, and
the streets are fullest, so that nobody looks much at anyone in
particular. Your little chaise is at the door; that was a notion of the
French gentleman, to unlook, as he said, like an escape. And he
tells me, he made it be observed as he came in, that it was Miss
Ferroll, and so the carriage will be taken no notice of when she goes
out; but all that is a
finesse, as he calls it, which I think does
neither good nor harm. Then I have his cloak here for you which he kept
well about his face, and under his hat so, and jabbered a little French
at coming in, which he says you have the trick of, as well as himself.
You will go out with the young lady and me, as if you were the French
gentleman, and get into the chaise, and drive away — homewards, I
advise, and hide in or near home, where they will be least likely to
seek you, till you can get on board a ship, and away."
"But what becomes of M. Lahrotte?" said Mr. Ferroll; "and of you?"
"He will wait in my room as long as possible, and at last ring to
ask where I am, and say I told him I must go out, but should be back
in half-an-hour. Then I suppose it will come out. Inquiry will prove
that I went out two hours ago with the French gentleman; but the French
gentleman is still there. With whom then did I go? and so on, sir. You
should see him acting the scene which is then to take place, sir. I am
only afraid he will overact it."
"And if he does?"
"Suspicion might fall on him; but I think it is very unlikely. He
bade me tell you, he should not regret it, and that even if he were
detained for a time, his young friend had provided that his age should
profit by his leetle succor."
"And you, sir?" said Mr. Ferroll, in whom the first revival of the
idea of life wrought, though slowly.
"I shall walk down the street deliberately as you drive off; but the
by-lanes of the town are not far, and once there, I will change and
rechange my dress, so that a person very unlike myself will speedily be
on the way to America."
"There is another person. yet," said Mr. Ferroll. "The young
gentleman whom you mentioned?"
"I protest he is safe," said Captain Rede. "We had better not talk
"Without more assurance of that, I cannot move," said Mr. Ferroll.
"Pshaw, sir, I give you my word of honour. How can you delay for a
notion of that kind, when I tell you he is perfectly safe?"
"Because it is of far more consequence that he should be safe in
name and reputation than that I should live," and he turned away.
"Father," cried Janet, appealingly. Captain Rede touched her arm,
but she thought of her father only, and pressed up to him.
"Well," said Captain Rede, "I must betray secrets then; here, madam,
is a letter the gentleman gave me for you, but I fancied it was to
have been between you two in private."
"Oh, how impossible," cried Janet, opening it, and holding it to Mr.
Ferroll to read with her. It was this:—
"The money in the iron drawer is sufficient for everything; I
inclose to you what remains. I served you to the best of my power, for
you were my one treasure on earth; and fear nothing for me; I am safe.
You think for everybody; that I know, and will use the means of
safety the more readily, because I tell you I am safe. May God bless
you, brave, good, dearest Janet."
Mr. Ferroll read it, and a sigh that was a groan, burst from his
"Well, sir?" said Captain Rede.
"Sir, let us attempt it," he answered. He took up the letter, and
would have folded it, then seemed to recollect himself, and gave it to
Janet. "Alas, poor child, it is all that remains to you of earthly
happiness," he said, and Janet, who would have taken it tearlessly but
for that word, sobbed uncontrollably behind her veil, and pressed the
paper once and again to her lips. But she mastered the emotion and
stood silently by while Captain Rede adjusted the cloak about her
father. Before undertaking the escape of his prisoner, the gaoler went
out to see that no one was near to observe the apparent French
gentleman coming from the chamber which he was known not to have
entered; and when they had passed Captain Rede's own door, he
considered them safe, as it was natural to suppose that at that point
the French gentleman had joined Janet, and was now to accompany her
Accordingly they proceeded unseen beyond the point of danger, and
then Captain Rede breathed freely, as if all difficulty were passed. He
had Janet's arm under his, and was amazed that it should be so thin;
even when they met a servant of the prison, which they did more than
once, it never quailed. It was only at last when the porter had to
unlock the door, and they stood to have their names put down, that he
felt her fingers grasp his arm. He shook them roughly, and spoke out,
"Peters, I am obliged to go out for half-an-hour. If any one calls, say
I am with my Lord Ewyas, and shall be back as soon as I can get away.
Miss Ferroll's carriage," he cried, as the door closed behind them; and
the groom aroused from his colloquy with a dozen persons round him,
hastily drew up. "Poor young lady, poor thing; out of the way,
fellows," he said, "how can you stare so? There, ma'am, there — now,
mounsieur. Ah! a terrible, terrible business. Good bye, sir— bonn jour
— adew!" and he saw them drive off. He acted his part perfectly,
looked after them for a few moments, then without any appearance of too
much or too little concern, walked deliberately towards the judges'
lodgings, where the Lord-Lieutenant had an apartment, and disappeared
from the eyes of the spectators, who, indeed, had other things to do
than to think of him.
"Everything depends on speed, Janet," said Mr. Ferroll, speaking to
her in French. "We have two hours' advantage, and must hazard all to
profit by it. Tell the groom to go to the Harold's Spear, and order a
chaise to go instantly to the Tower by the Lorton road, for a gentleman
going to Uptruck. We must wait here."
Janet gave the directions required, and in the transport of her
eagerness for his return, forgot how indifferent to all existing things
she would have been and would have appeared, had her father been in
the prison where he was supposed to be. Several persons saw her white
face, as she strained her eyes to see the servant returning, but she
observed nothing, till one of these in passing, raised his hat to her
as he went by. Instantly she shrank into herself, cowering behind her
veil, with such a throb at her heart as gives one vital blow to the
fine human frame which at last is to perish under the various
influences of decay; but the groom came back, and they again proceeded.
Once again in motion, the crowded state of the streets prevented, as
Captain Rede had foretold, attention from being directed towards them;
and threading their way as fleetly as possible, so as not to obstruct
that of any one else, they reached in safety the outskirts of the town,
and went on at the fastest trot of the ponies towards the Tower. All
familiar objects rose and sank before them as they pursued their way,
but neither spoke; neither in that excited moment was sensible of the
full impression the last time of seeing all this was calculated to
excite. It was not till they were at the summit of the hill, whence the
Tower on its knoll surmounting the narrow valley appeared, that the
anguish of the time forced itself into words. "And she is there, all
alone. Oh! wife, wife." Such was the exclamation in a low tone which
forced itself from Mr. Ferroll's lips as he looked down on the gray
house; and at the same time there floated up the solemn swing of the
church bell, which once in every minute gave out mourning for their
dead. The interval, during which sound quite died away, and then
returned with a loud deep clang, heard from the distance, very far over
the silent landscape, smote on the hearts of each with renewed torture
every time. Janet wept abundantly; Mr. Ferroll bore the torture
silently, yet felt it harder to await the repetition of the measured
tone, because another was dreading and suffering from it beside him.
The good-hearted groom shed tears also; he, as well as his young
mistress, and her French com- panion, as he deemed him, knew for whom
the bell was tolling.
They had now entered the road where the carriage from the inn was to
turn towards the Tower, and where, by taking an opposite direction,
they would get into the road for London; and they could only move
slowly on, until their much longed-for means of escape should appear in
sight. Janet's ear first distinguished the sound of wheels. "It's
coming, father," she said, and in a minute more the vehicle appeared
passing over the ridge of the hill, and making towards them. Mr.
Ferroll got out of the pony-chaise and helped down Janet.
"Lawrence must know me," he said, and giving the reins to the groom,
in his usual tone he said, "Is that the carriage you ordered?" The
man, little accustomed to meet any emergencies except on horseback,
stared at him with the most alarmed countenance, the most
incomprehensive; and when his master repeated the question, nothing
suggested itself to him to say or do, except to touch his hat and
answer, "Yes, sir."
"Listen to me, then. I am going away; you thought you brought an old
French gentleman back with Miss Ferroll, did you not?"
"I thought so, sir," said the groom, looking round.
"Well, then, merely avoid saying you did, or did not. Go home, and
say nothing till you are asked. When you are asked, say your young
mistress and the old French gentleman went on the south road in a post
carriage. Can you do this?" said Mr. Ferroll, putting into his hand a
bank note of #10. This sight and sum opened his eyes to what was the
real state of the case, more than the actual sight of his master had
done, but at the same time operated upon him as a sudden tie and bond,
faster for the moment than death.
"I'll do it; I'll do anything, sir," he said.
"Go home, then; mind, it is the only thing you
can do," and
walking a few yards to meet the chaise, so as to prevent the groom from
communicating with the postilion, Mr. Ferroll opened the carriage
before the postilion had time to dismount, and following Janet in, bade
him, imitating a foreign accent, but without any explanation or
comment, drive to Uptruck, the first stage on the London road. The man
might think it all strange if he would, but he had no reason to dispute
the order; and in a time when the Ferroll family was known to be in
such a depth of distress, it did not seem unaccountable that the
daughter should be removed from the scene of their tragedy. This,
indeed, was the version which he gave at the next stage, and which, if
Mr. Ferroll had known it, would have made him less scrupulous in
enjoining speed on the next driver, an injunction he was afraid at
first to press, lest he should awaken any suspicion of the true state
of the case, and so overthrow the enterprise in its commencement.
However, as he got further from home, he believed the mode in which he
and his companion first began their journey, must have lost itself in
the transmission from mouth to mouth, and now ventured to quit his
disguised pronunciation, and to urge speed by every possible
inducement, leaving it to the imagination of the innkeepers and drivers
to assign such motive as they pleased for his haste, and perhaps
enabling the pursuers, who must by this time be on his track, to follow
it up more directly, but still the advantage of flying quickly before
them far more than compensated the power he might give them to pursue.
In fact, M. Lahrotte had been obliged to betray himself sooner than
he intended, and thereby to hasten the time, which he had been anxious
to postpone, of pursuit. He had established himself as much in the
attitude of a waiting and expecting man as he could; had half written a
letter as if to kill time; had opened a book; had rumpled the
newspaper, and was intending to wait at least half an hour longer, when
a sharp knock came at the door of his room, and the servant of the gaol
opened it, announcing that Lord Ewyas and Mr. — were below waiting to
speak to Captain Rede.
"And me also, I desire the same thing myself," said Lahrotte; "why
he comes not?"
"Thought he was here, sir, beg pardon," said the man, going out
"Here's the moment," said Lahrotte to himself, but he resumed as
well as he could the air and attitude of a man weary with waiting; and
in a very short time another messenger came running, and begging to
know whether the gentleman could tell where the Captain went.
"I shall not tell you," said M. Lahrotte; "what he telled me is, he
goes to one milord Ooiase?" This answer being reported by the somewhat
puzzled messenger, brought Lord Ewyas in person, who in his own
language gained from M. Lahrotte all he chose to tell, and caused the
porter at the door to give the information that the Captain went out
after seeing Miss Ferroll and the French gentleman into the carriage.
Suspicion, investigation, and conviction of the truth now followed so
quickly, that there was little time for Lahrotte to act the scene upon
which he had so set his imagination; and indeed most of the details
into which it had been his purpose to enter, were lost in the rapidity
with which the impromptu actors performed their real parts, and with
which looking upon him as an instrument in the hands of others, they
hastily consigned him to temporary detention, and organized a pursuit
both for the gaoler and the prisoner. The traces of the latter were
very easy to follow — the thin French disguise was penetrated at once,
and the postilion who had gone as far as Uptruck, set them at once on
the right road. A carriage was ordered, and four horses; "he is not a
couple of hours before us, having gone round by the Lorton road and
all." Very true, but two horses draw an unloaded post chaise as swiftly
as four, and a couple of hours in advance remains therefore a couple of
hours. Yet everywhere they were no more than that a-head. Everywhere,
it was perfectly easy to ascertain their course, any accident, the want
of horses, the loss of a wheel, an upset, going at the pace they were
described to go, would bring them within the grasp of the pursuers —
even the very last stage the pursuers were lucky, for they met the post
boy not a mile out of London returning to Barnet, who said he had
deposited them at Steven's Hotel in Clifford Street, thus guiding the
chase at once, even amid the maze of the capital. A pang of suspicion
struck the pursuers that it was too great luck to think of finding them
where they had been an hour ago, yet the chase was so exciting, and the
chance so far possible of lighting upon them that they urged on like
hounds upon a very hot scent. Out ran the waiter to the four clattering
horses, the landlord himself among the number.
"Sir," said one of the pursuers, commanding his emotion, "is a
gentleman here, perhaps may have been here an hour or more, with a
young lady in black? Came on the north road."
"Yes, sir, came just at two o'clock, sir, and it's now half-past
"Can I speak to them?"
"Certainly, sir; will you please to walk up to their room. They've
walked out at present, but will soon be back."
"Oh," groaned Mr. —.
Meantime where were Mr. Ferroll and Janet? In no better nor worse
place than a lodging in Baker Street. Mr. Ferroll had thought, and
perhaps justly, that no wilderness could be so great as the unvaried
uniformity of houses in Baker Street. He thought they would be nearly
the last places suspected, and newly the hardest to individualize —
therefore, when they left Stevens's hotel, they turned into Bond
Street and walked steadily forward, until Mr. Ferroll, whose eyes were
carefully alive to everything, observed a hackney carriage with
drooping horses come slowly along the street; and conjecturing, but
forbearing to inquire, that the jaded animals were probably from a
distant stand, and would, after conveying himself and Janet, go out of
the way of inquirers, beckoned to it, and ordered the driver to Baker
Street, giving him the address of a shop which he happened to
recollect. Here they alighted, and were rejoiced to hear the driver ask
for a tip, on the plea of being from the City, and having come out of
the way to accommodate the gentleman. Mr. Ferroll added a slight
gratuity, made a trifling purchase in the shop, and again they walked
on. The patient, silent Janet proceeded at his side, but too many
emotions, too much fatigue were wearing down her frame. She had been in
London but once before, and that so lately — and the peace, the
cherished safety, the health and spirit, and enjoyment of that time
seemed to her now like burning sunlight to outwearied eyes. All that
was left behind at the home she was never to see again, all the
agitation of the prison and the journey, the bodily fatigue, and the
misery of the present moment nearly exceeded the power of even the
finely organized frame, and mind, which endured it; still she was
silent; and her father, buried in his own thoughts, failed to observe
his patient child. And before she quite gave way, they reached a door
where lodgings were set forth, and inside the shelter of whose
entrance, father and child were glad to find themselves. It was easy to
say they had arrived that day and had walked out in search of an
apartment, and would send for their baggage if they liked this one, and
in a short time the bargain was made and money paid in advance, Janet
still standing by her father's side. But the indifferent eye of the
stranger, when set upon small courtesies, often sees what the careless
eye of the nearer kindred overlooks — and the woman of the house
compassionately set a chair for Janet, and pitied the young lady for
looking so tired. Then her father noticed her, and was struck with the
change in her appearance. It flashed through his mind how she had
looked when she entered his sitting room before Lady Ewyas's ball, all
bright with pleasure and expectation. "Yes, you're tired," said he,
"the journey was fatiguing — rest on the sofa, till I come back; I
will return to the office, for what we have left, and be here again
"Oh, are you going out?" cried Janet, starting up. "Let me go with
you, pray?" The woman of the house smiled. "Nay, miss, don't be afraid
to stay with me; your papa won't be long, I'll be bound."
Janet did more than smile, she laughed at this address; and Mr.
Ferroll measured her exhaustion more justly by that unnatural
expression than by any other symptom. He dismissed the woman on some
trifling errand, and then sat down, and spoke calmly to Janet, placing
her in an easy chair, and laying his hand on her arm.
"We have prospered — thanks to you, Janet — so far. There now
remains the difficulty of getting on board some vessel, no matter where
bound — that must be done to-night, for no doubt the pursuit
has already reached London; therefore, I must hazard something. I will
put myself into a cab, and get down to the river; if we can't get on
board to-night, we be safer here than anywhere else. Wait for me. On no
consideration, nor under any emergency, leave this house till you see
me, or have undoubted news of me. Wait — rest — eat; you will serve
me better so, than in any other manner."
Janet's heart died within her; to lose sight of him seemed to her to
lose him for ever. Remonstrance rose to her lips, half uttered itself,
but he would hear nothing, and her passive habits in the family
prevented her from speaking. Yet, when he was gone from the room, and
she heard him descending the stairs, the anguish was too much for her;
she sprang up, and running to the landing-place, saw him still there,
muffling his throat and face in a concealing neckerchief, tried to
speak, then paused, for he was in her sight; then, as he laid his hand
on the door, uttered his name, but he did not hear; and as the door
turned on its hinges, louder and more resolutely — "Papa!" but he was
gone. "Gone! oh, shall I ever see him again?"
And now Janet was left to the worst anguish of suspense. To have
seen her no one could have conjectured the fever that was raging in her
bosom. Whenever the woman of the house came in, she found her lying in
the chair which she herself had put near the fire, and back in which
Janet quickly threw herself on the opening of the door, or apparently
engaged in partaking of the tea which the good woman had prepared for
her, or reading a book which had lain on the table, and which she
mechanically held in her hand; but of its contents she in vain tried to
possess herself, even while the time was yet passing during which it
was impossible to expect his return. She had calculated, as far as she
was able, how long he would be in going, how long in returning, how
long there; and had even added half an hour to the calculation, that
she might be sure not to expect him too soon; and during that time had
resolved to allow of no fear if she could help it. But when the limit
of that time drew near, she began to dread that the ample space thus
allowed should end and not bring him; for how should she after that
account to her imagination for a yet longer time. And when it passed —
when a quarter and half-an-hour passed — and still he came not, the
idea began to grow fixed that he never could return; the unworded
notion arose that if it were possible he should return she should be
happy, but that it was a hope gone by. But this notwithstanding, she
waited, and expected, and heard every sound, and feared to hope it was
the right one; detected at once it was the wrong, and yet hoped again
it might prove right. Then silence came again; the step she had heard
on the stairs mounted and passed her door; the street-door was open to
a knock more than once, but the person entering spoke in a strange
voice; several times the house-bell was rung, and then for five, nay,
for ten minutes after, Janet stood waiting with gnawing impatience for
a note or a messenger. If the mistress of the house entered within that
time, Janet's eyes devoured her, her hands wrung each other under her
black shawl, but her gentle voice still controlled itself to answer the
indifferent remark, or the still more torturing question which came at
last, "Do you think, miss, your papa will come to-night?" When it came
to this length of time, her impatience for the sight or sound of him
became incontrollable. It was like the frenzy of hunger — the ear
ached, the heart bounded rather than beat, her head burned, and for the
twentieth time she flung open the window, and stretched herself into
the night air. The steady roll of carriages at intervals passed along
the street, foot passengers went and came, the bright lamps showed the
whole stretch of the uniform houses. A man walking opposite stopped and
looked up at the house; it seemed he only stopped to light his cigar,
yet he came across the street, and she heard a very low yet distinct
voice, pronounce "Jeannette!" She stooped out, a pang of hope shooting
through her heart.
"C'est moi," she answered.
"La poursuite est des plus acharnées. Descends."
Now Janet was nerved again; she ceased to tremble, ceased to suffer.
The only difficulty was to get out of the house unseen; but her
lightest foot passed along like mere snow falling, her dexterous hand
unbarred the door almost like satin, and she was out in the street, and
with trembling hand grasping his arm. It was, indeed, her father, and
without a moment's pause he moved on with her quickly, told her that as
was natural the ships in the port were objects of search, and he was
aware of having more than once met persons in pursuit of himself; but
that down the river he had met with a small Spanish vessel just ready
to sail, which had agreed to delay an hour while he came back for
Janet; that he had satisfied the captain of the certainty of great
reward if he landed them in safety on the coast of Spain or Portugal,
and had so engaged him that it was his own interest to take them.
Therefore, though the hour must be exceeded before they could get back,
he had good hopes of being waited for.
He had left a hackney carriage just in Oxford Street, and springing
into it with his daughter, the driver set off at his best speed back to
"Without me you would have been already in safety," said Janet.
"Without you safety would have been little worth having," said her
Neither spoke again. Mr. Ferroll was passive, wrapped up in a cloak
in one corner; Janet was keenly alive to the stoppages, the hills they
came to, the slow pace occasionally necessitated by some great dray
before them; but she hardly knew where they were going. She confused
the present with the past journey, when she had been in haste to get
home to the Tower to tell her mother of the ball, and she fancied
something had gone wrong with her pretty dress. Then she roused
herself, and thought her father had been in some great peril; yet, no,
how foolish, there he was safe: yet, why did she feel as if he were not
the same father whom Lord Ewyas had been so proud to get to his house?
She re- frained from speaking, however, though she had great
inclination to talk, and she fancied there was something dreadful
behind from which they ought to fly quicker. At last her father's voice
stopping the carriage roused her. "Janet, can you walk a little way,
though I'm afraid you are tired: further on, the ship's boat will be
waiting for us, if they have had patience."
"Oh, yes, I'll try," said Janet, and quickly followed him.
He paid the driver, and taking her arm under his went on over the
wharves, and among great packages and cables. Janet tried to keep up,
but her head was so giddy she did not know where she went, except by
clinging to his arm. Next she seemed to lose her footing, and ceasing
to feel the earth, to be borne irresistibly through the air. She
uttered one cry, suppressed so as to be a low though a shrill one,
"Save me!" and the last thing she remembered was feeling herself
falling down what seemed to her an endless precipice, and caught in her
father's arms. Janet knew no more: friend or foe, pursuit or safety,
the boat found or gone, sea or land, all was long a blank to Janet. Her
brain was fired by the miseries and excitement of the last few days,
and ceased to be conscious of impressions from without. At last there
seemed to grow over her a long unknown feeling of ease and rest — a
something to which she was sensible, and which might be the feeling of
a summer leaf long tormented by the winds, till driven at last to the
base of some sheltering rock. She seemed to herself to lie at peace,
and that consciousness was enough, and not to be disturbed by any
effort on her part. Even of that she became soon unaware, and knew no
more; and then after a long interval roused to stronger perception,
unclosed her eyes, stretched out her hand, and was conscious that life
again heaved in her bosom. She did not know the place where she was.
The air was warm and perfumed, the windows shaded, the room quite a
stranger to her. An elderly woman, with a black silk mantle on her head
and over her shoulders, spoke to her. She did not understand the
meaning, but she knew the words were Spanish. Then the tide of
recollection rolled back, and the black cold night came full before
her, which was the last thing she recollected.
"My father!" she said, rising as well as she could.
The woman had gone to the window, and beckoned, and in another
minute Mr. Ferroll stood by her bedside.
"Can you still love me, Janet?" said he.
"Love you? Oh, yes — my father!"
MR. FERROLL and Janet, as soon as the latter recovered strength,
took ship, and crossed the Atlantic to Boston, in which city he had by
degrees accumulated a very considerable sum of money, as Mr. Harrowby
had written word to poor Elinor. This money was in Elinor's name and in
Janet's; he had nothing to do with it, for however fixed his eye had
been upon the future, he had never contemplated more than two
possibilities for himself: either that he should be led by
circumstances to declare his crime and die for it; or that
circumstances should remove the only person liable to be falsely
suspected, and leave the secret for the future impenetrable. But that he should live and Elinor be dead, had not entered into any
speculation of his. Fate is stronger than the strongest man, and had
dislocated his conclusions. He had not, therefore, a shilling, and was
glad of it.
Janet was put into possession of the whole sum under her father's
christian name of Paul, in which it had been secured, and by which they
now went; and telling her it was his will that she should entirely
dispose of it, she did so, with admirable simplicity, asking his advice
and following it as if she had still free choice; although advice from
him was to her immutable law.
Except that one word, "Janet, can you still love me?" nothing ever
passed between them respecting his situation. Conversation might even
come upon the very crime which had been his ruin, and cause no
embarrassment; for Fate and Necessity were not stronger than seemed the
impossibility of applying to him that crime which both were so darkly
conscious that he had committed. It was as if he were two men: one with
regard to a deed which had been told and could not be forgotten; and
one in his outward deportment and to Janet, in all but her inner,
unworded consciousness. In one sense, he had done that, which in the
other was like a thing which did not exist.
Neither did he ever mention that name which used to be ever on his
lips. — "Your mother," never escaped him. His silence on both subjects
was equal, but the character of the silence was different. It seemed as
if respecting himself he were unapproachable; but respecting her, he
were a wounded man, multiplying coverings that his naked wound might
avoid the touch. He had no memorial of her, for had they not escaped
with bare life? Neither did either ever wear black for her; but Janet,
who observed everything, saw that her father never again gathered a
flower, nor, if one were casually offered him, kept it in his hand or
on his person; he never murmured the notes of an air, or walked in the
calm moonshine or still morning with his old deliberate pace; on the
contrary, he would close his eyes sometimes on the more exquisite
shapes and hues of Nature, as if his spirit were unable to endure them,
especially when they came unexpectedly upon him. Still he suf- fered
in silence; and Janet, who would fain have relieved her heart at times
by speaking, suffered too.
Mr. Ferroll (or Mr. Paul, as he was called in Boston) easily found
literary work to do, which supplied him with what money he wanted for
personal expenses, and which he silently prevented Janet from daring to
offer him; and he was brought into connexion with various persons by
this means, who perceived his merit, and were desirous of his
acquaintance. But these claims he scarcely admitted — nor, indeed,
could he have rewarded them as in England; for his powers of
conversation were either gone, or else he had no longer the spring
within, to call them into action. Janet could judge only by
circumstances what it was that occupied his thoughts, for his talk to
her was of books or business, while his heart and her's
were far away.
For instance, she had a little housewife which her mother had made,
and which, from long use, she had ceased to connect habitually with
her mother. She had often used it, still working silently in the
evening; but not now at pretty ornaments of life, but neatly and
plainly sewing at a seam, or hemming the edge of a collar. It occurred
to her one day, that the sight of this book might pain her father; and
blaming herself for thoughtlessness, she laid it carefully aside, and
employed some other box or bag instead.
The second evening that she did so, her father, breaking a silence,
said to her, quickly and suddenly, "Janet, have you such a thing? I
want a silk thread."
Janet looked up, colouring, trying to know what the words meant,
beyond what they said. The next moment she gave him exactly what he
asked for, and said nothing at the time; but next morning she took the
little book out of its foldings of silver paper in which she had laid
it by, kissed it, and then put it in their common room, near her
father's letters, which she knew he would come in a few minutes to
seek. She herself moved silently and swiftly away, and taking up her
great straw hat in the entrance, went out to the garden, and thence
along Summer Street, for a couple of hours, under the chestnut trees.
Her father was writing when she returned. She put down her hat, and
stood for a moment looking for a book, neither of them speaking; then
he rose, and drawing her towards him, passionately kissed her hair,
and pressed her against himself, but said nothing — even avoided her
eyes — and resumed his seat, trying to write again; but Janet
perceived that his pen stopped, and that his hand was thrust into his
bosom, where probably the little embroidered book unconsciously was
moved by the throbbings of his heart.
The winter of that sad year came on; the severe yet brilliant
winter, which acted on Janet's youthful frame with healthy influence,
and seemed to brace the hidden spring of hope, whose elasticity had
been so slackened by trouble. Her father had sought and found for her a
companion — an Englishwoman who had married in Boston, and whose
husband had died after a few years of unruffled, but unmarked, married
life. She was a ladylike, common-place sort of person of good sense,
and useful to Janet, as a sensible woman is to a young girl. They took
exercise together, and at Mr. Ferroll's request, Mrs. Fowler found
errands to do here and there, which required the exhilarating
conveyance of a sledge. Janet's health grew firm again, but she could
not be allured into any long absence from her father, especially when
she perceived, as she did almost as soon as any outer symptom
appeared, that whereas herstrength was reviving, his was
giving way. He had always been abstemious, with keen appetite for the
little he ate; but now she saw that the food on his plate was often
sent away nearly untouched. He suffered from the cold, and impatiently
wrapped himself in fur, and raised the temperature of the close,
stove-heated rooms. She heard him going late to rest, and sometimes he
would appear late in the morning; sometimes rise early, and ask for
cold water even in those freezing days. Mrs. Fowler thought there was
nothing the matter, because he said nothing. Janet was willing to
believe her, but was too intensely interested to be deceived. Still,
whatever inquiry she ventured to make of him, was silenced kindly but
decidedly, and his habitual reserve and self-control, concealed from
her for a long time the fierceness of the fever which was preying on
One night he allowed that his head ached, and disliking the light of
the lamp, he would go to bed, where he should be most at ease. Mrs.
Fowler was not present — she scarce ever was when Mr. Ferroll was in
the room. Janet observed that he seemed to feel for his candle rather
than take it at once, and, very much alarmed, took it up and carried it
for him; a service he did not resist, but even laid his hand on her
shoulder as he went up stairs, to steady himself. His burning hand felt
burning through her dress, and she ventured to say, "Indeed, you are
"I think so, Jeannie," said he. "To-morrow — what is it? somebody
says, 'To-morrow ends thy earthly ills.' Thank you — good night."
Janet went down and sent for a physician, and when she had told him
all she knew of the illness, he said, such a degree of fever must
produce delirium, and the room ought not to be left without a watcher.
She shuddered, and he bade her be comforted, for the danger need not
therefore be imminent; but it was not the danger she had thought
of; it was the words which might be uttered in delirium. She
took on herself the office of watcher, and went to his door and
listened; but hearing nothing, she opened it, and perceived he was in a
troubled slumber — a heavy, stupified sleep; and the thought came
across her of that sleep which she had beheld, holding her mother's
hand, when she was ten years old. The physician followed her, and sat
down by her side awaiting his awaking. Nothing could be read on the
doctor's face, though he looked long at her father, and had made up his
own mind as to the result.
The hours went on, and the physician slumbered; but Janet's senses
were awake to the slightest sound, and it was about midnight when she
heard him faintly murmuring as he turned on his restless pillow. Far,
far were his thoughts from the present scene; far from the images which
had held such undisputed dominion over him. He talked of his parents
whom Janet had scarce ever heard him mention: he said, "Lift my head,
mother;" and when his trembling child raised him on his pillow, smiled
and said, "Dear mother." Then he forgot her, and the most trifling
concerns came across him, vexing and perplexing him: he could not get
dressed in time for some engagement — he got to the engagement, and
was without the papers he was to bring there.
Janet called the physician; he came, felt the pulse, renewed the
scrutiny, and said, "Have you any friends?"
"Only this one," said Janet, looking at her father.
"I meant any others," said the physician. "Alas! he is dying."
"And will he never know me again?" said Janet, kneeling down, with
her arm under his head, and her other hand grasping his restless
"Yes, he may, just at last. But don't stay here, dear young lady.
You shall be called if he asks for you."
"Oh, sir!" said Janet; and then her voice was choked, and she bowed
her head quite down to her father's face.
"They are gone," said her father. "Why did she go away ...... not
you, not you" — and then wandering away from that thought, he said
his horse had broken its bridle, he could not force it out of the
water. This agitated delirium went on hour after hour; the dawn of the
winter morning began, with its chill, more chilly than all the night
before — the room was become cold.
Suddenly, while Janet's eyes were fixed upon his, she saw their
unsettled motion cease, and reason looking out at the last close, he
again was aware that she was near him. "Janet," he said, breathing
once deeply "it is death — I remember — I perceive — I know
everything. All is clear as mid-day." Then looking round and seeing the
physician standing near, and Mrs. Fowler who had crept in, he said in
the lowest voice,. "What have I been saying?"
He motioned her to stoop close; she did so, and whispered in hardly
the faintest tone, "Nothing, my father."
"Right — then stay alone with me, these few minutes."
"Go, sir, go," said Janet; "shut the door — we are father and
child — leave us;" and he did so, drawing away Mrs. Fowler, and
closing the door on the solemn parting.
"Janet," said her father, "best child in the world, farewell. My
crime explains my conduct to you ...... Your mother was so deep in my
heart, that she has torn it in two ...... You are alone. I have thought
you would perhaps return to Europe, and I looked for a quiet, safe
companion for you ...... Some men, Janet, will say I can be forgiven —
some will say I cannot. I have thought much ...... There is a God, and He knows. Farewell, dear and pretty Janet."
His lips tried to smile, but he had nearly lost power over his
muscles — only his eyes were fixed on her fond, weeping face. They
remained fixed — looked still, when their meaning faded — then began
to glaze, and Janet approaching her face closer and closer to his,
perceived the slower breathing come at intervals, till the last made
itself just felt over her lips, and he was gone.