on the rope, so I mounted to the lurret and be. gan drawing it up to examine what could have produced it. The tassel catching in the ring

on the first floor caused a slight strain; to my I woke rather late next morning, and hastened surprise it parted, and nearly the whole length my dressing in the expectation of hearing from of rope fell into the hall. Some strong acidBarbara some news of what had occurred. It aqua fortis, I think-had been applied to rot the was as I supposed-Harby Hall had been visited silk within a few feet of the turret entrance. by burglars. If Barbara knew more she did The women could not have reached it, nor could not tell it, perhaps because I have sometimes the bell have been rung, without climbing, by inclined to check her gossip.

any one; for my next investigation showed that I bad Snished breakfast, and was about seek the lock of the turret chamber had been taming Lance in the garden for fuller information, pered with, and the key refused to turn. With when I was gratified by the sight of Alfred Truscot’s assistance I spliced the rope, and then Merrivale at my gate. I could not bat contrast went to inform General Wetheral. The old bis animated, cheerful aspect with that he soldier was highly delighted, and declared we had borne three weeks before, and rejoiced to should bave them all yet, if we did not let the think circumstances had so roused his spirit. women spoil all by ringing the bell too soon.

“I am a very early visitor, Mrs. Gains. Blucher, the mastiff, has been under the special borough,” he said, as he shook hands; " but care of the coachman. His master, being of I hope you will excuse me, for I suppose you opinion, that unless Judkins poisoned lim, must have heard the bell last night, and wish to the attack would not be made while he know what has occurred ?"

on guard without, had ordered him "Very good of you to come.”

into the house, and given him the range " I assure you I have quite enjoyed the walk,” of the ground-floor. The principal rooms Alfred continued; “for,

though I have been are all on the first floor, except, indeed, the large remarkably comfortable in all other respects, I entrance-hall which contains the slaircase, and have not been at liberty to leave Harby Hall.” runs, with galleries round, a story higher. As "All right?" I asked; "nobody hurt ? no you enter the library lies to the right, the robbery?"

drawing-room to the left, each having anti"All right,” he answered; "and two of the chambers opening on the gallery. It was usual men taken."

for myself and General Wetheral to sit up to"Is the man with the doubtful complexion gether in the library until three o'clock in the one?”

morning, Truscot also being up. When we "I am bappy to say he is, and that I had the closed our watch the two men-servants entered satisfaction of being his captor. It was a great on theirs. This night they were directed to be satisfaction, for I could not feel certain others in readiness, one only sleeping at a time. In would be as convinced as myself of his identity general they were both asleep before the hour with your acquaintance. The man went on the attack was made, and perhaps that fact was very discreetly, and, though on Sunday we were known by the groom, so they may have almost certain he was in the house, the little supposed they had only to expect immediate terrier giving notice of some such fact, we could resistance from the mastiff, and 'twe infirm old not detect him. The chamber I slept men : they might not have come off very well, in opened near the foot of the upper staircase, though, with two old men, so resolute and accusand each time I passed I used to look to tomed to the use of arms. I have spent really the rope of the alarm-bell

. It is of crimson pleasant hours, night after night, with the silk, and was passed from the turret, General; he has been altogether kind to me, which is directly over the great staircase, and is very entertaining company. I have often through fixed rings, down to the hall of entrance. heard that cowardice is infectious, and I think Yesterday afternoon I noticed there was a stain the same may be said of its reverse. The cam

[ocr errors]



paigning stories told me seemed to give a sort , first appeared likely, and poor Mrs. Rowley no of zest to the situation in which I found mysell. less so, for she bad caught a good scolding from In the view of Harby Hall you had from the her master for her precipitancy.” In conclusion, park you must have seen that a stone balcony I heard that General Wetheral had requested runs nearly from back to front; it is before Alfred to convey his compliments to all the the drawing-room windows, and we had some members of the party from which Mrs. Wellreason to think that a tree growing near might wood had deserted, and to request their attendhave been the means of affording Judkins ance at Harby Hall half-an-hour before one, wherewithal to swing into the balcony the time when the examinations would take place. He he entered the house. The groom, you under- undertook to arrange that we might be present stand, calls himself Charles Judkins, but the without inconvenience, and particularly wished General, alluding to his change of complexion, Miss Dalziel might come, as he hoped she might commonly speaks of him as my friend chiaro- recognize the men. I offered to send Lance scuro. The attack was a very sudden one, and, with a note to Darliston Hall immediately, and as there were five men in the attacking party, Alfred Merrivale departed, intending to proceed it is possible that, but for the alarm-bell, they to Cedar Lawn and Mr. Littington's. might have carried out the purpose of their Helen had no difficulty in obtaining leave of visit. It was a little before eleven o'clock, absence on this occasion. She came riding General Wetheral was describing to me the cos- down to me about noon, very desirous of partume of one of the hill tribes, and I was making ticulars as to what had occurred, and I put her an attempt to draw it from his description, in possession of the facts as they had been rewhen the skye-terrier in the gallery barked, and counted to me. Then Paddy was saddled, and was joined by Blucher's deep tones. The same we went together to Harby Hall. moment we heard a crash, and Truscot, who had We were received by the housekeeper, and been reading in the antechamber, opened the shown to the library, where General Wetheral door and said, “The drawing-room, sir.' Be- gave us a courteous welcome, and we found fore we were across the gallery I heard Mrs. ourselves among friends, all the strawberryRowley's voice, screaming to Dawlish and the feast party being there with the exception of Mrs. coachman, and was aware of something white Ainslie and Alice. Alfred Merrivale was not Alitting on the staircase above. “Not yet, not present on our entrance. The General, as if yet-Mrs. Rowley! the old General cried; but aware I was especially interested, mentioned his it was too late; the alarm-bell was sounding conduct with great praise; saying to ine, “He over the country. When entered the should have been a soldier—" a high compliment drawing-room we were only in time to catch from one so well able to judge of the qualities sight of two of the men as they were dropping requisite to sustain the name. We were still over tbe balustrade of the balcony. The speaking of him, when the youth entered with a General sent a shot after one, apparently with quick step and a look of some excitement. out effect, but I was enabled to descend by “Mr. MʻKinnom is here," he said; “I have means of a rope they had left, and picking out; ust seen him enter with my brother ; but there the one among the runaways who appeared is also one with them whose presence indeed most like my friend Chiaroscuro,' kept as near does surprise me-Mr. Witham !" to his heels as I could. I think I ran bim a Certainly the company present participated in mile about the park, and once was near being this surprise. Helen and I exchanged looks knocked down, by mistake, for one of the bur- almost of consternation at his transcendent glars ; but I grappled with the man at last, and, assurance. as he was a little more out of breath than my- “ What!” said the General ; "the pseudo self, I got the mastery. Another of the men Witham or the true man?" was seen getting over the park wall by one of “The same person Mrs. Gainsborough hinthe Dingleton lads, and pursued, but he showed dered from making a study of your staircase, pistols, and would probably bave got off if the by hinting his identity with one of the Black police had not been on the alert. He was taken Band; the same person I once came upon in by thein, in rather a sudden manner, an hour conversation with “ Chiaroscuro." There he is later, and has been recognized by his first pur- in the hall, leaning on the bannisters of the

stair, toying with the tassel of the alarm-bell and “ Was the groom armed ?" I asked.

chatting to Mr. M'Kinnom.”' “ Yes, but so was I ; and the advantage was “We must not frighten him away too soon," on my side, for it would have lessened his said General Wetheral; “but we must have chance of escape from others had a pistol been Kean in and consult what should be done." fired.”

The inspector came, and advised that Alfred I offered my hearty congratulations on his Merrivale should abstain from declaring his safety and achievement, and Alfred further recognition of the man Judkins at the present informed me there had been a grand find of the stage of proceedings, since he was certain to be burglars implements of industry in the garden. committed, and it seemed desirable that Witham He had been to the General's room with the should not be aware how he stood. information just before he left, and had also to We were now conducted to the dining-room, tell him of the capture of the other man. He a handsome apartment adjoining the library. was pleased to find some greater result than had Seats were ranged for us near a window. Mr,


Grey and another magistrate sat at the head of in my passage; so that, to be free from them, I the table. When we were in our places the had to leap my mare across the cleft. I know door at the other end of the room was opened, notbing further of him.” Helen drew back and and the more general throng admitted to the sat down. side opposite to us. Among them came Mr. “This is not in your favour," observed Mr. Witham, (I must still call him so), and with Grey. “What did you mean by troubling the easy assurance placed himself directly in front young lady ?” of our party, and offered a bow, which only Oh, bless you, sir,” the man replied, “I Alfred returned. I observed a slight difference hadn't any ill intentions; I was only larking. in his appearance consequent on a something I am sure I said nothing but what was civil; foreign in the cut of his clothes and the trim- and I knew nothing of the other men, bless you ! ming of his inoustache. He was speaking to Now did I, Miss, say anything but what was Mr. M‘Kinnom when the prisoners were civil ? I never meant to drive you to take that brought in. His face was turned from them, and dare-devil leap, I'll take my oath !" they must have been first aware of his presence Helen spoke again. “You refused to move by the sound of his voice. “Clear enough,”. I your horse from the only path by which I could heard him say, in a distinct tone; and then he return except that occupied by the three other turned, as if suddenly attracted with the rest of men. You said you were a civil man, but your the company, and appeared to scrutinize the tone and bearing were insolent." caplured burglars. Neither shewed any sign of “Bless you, Miss, I didn't know who you recognition, but I perceived they sometimes


and I ask your pardon if I offended you. glanced towards him."

You see, when high ladies ride out, they mostly The depositions were gone into; the men take a groom with them; and how should Í declined saying anything, and were, of course, know what you was ? I thought to have a lark committed. The case with each seemed indeed with you, that's all, and I'm sure I was laughing “clear enough."

all the while!” We thought the business was now ended, Mr. Grey asked what business had brought but were mistaken. There had been in the him to the neighbourhood. course of the last examination a slight stir at “I had a horse to sell as I thought would the further end of the room; the police now suit a gentleman farmer out on the Marsh-Mr. brought forward a third man, who had been Grant Wainwright. Not finding him at hone, captured under very suspicious circumstances a I took a turn to look at the sea, and that's how few minutes before. As he appeared, Helen it was. I heard he'd be back from London tograsped my hand and uttered a faint excla. morrow; 80, as I'd still a chance of a deal, I mation. I saw her eyes turn quickly from the thought I'd wait till then.” prisoner to Mr. Witham, and noticed a slight “Where did you pass last night?” change pass over his countenance as her glance Well, sir, I was on my way to the Ship Inn fell on him.

at Cardington, when I heard a bell ringing, and It was stated by a policeman that the person see people running; and I ran with them some he had brought up had been taken into custody way, expecting it was a fire, as they all seemed in the garden, not far from the spot where the to think. Then, when I turned back, they'd housebreaking implements had been found. shut up—at least I was told so—at the Ship; The constable in charge of the gate had not seen and I just got a berth in a barge; but they him enter, consequently it appeared he might turned me out early, as they were on the move." have been in concealment in the grounds all Mr, Harding wanted more particular infornight, and now intended passing out among mation on this point, but the answer was that others. This account, and what followed con- he had“ got jolly” over-night, and could not cerning bim, I have almost copied from the re- give more particulars; but he dared say some port given by the Marsham Advertiser.

of the men might be found to prove what he He gave his name as Richard Benson, far. had said was true. mer and horse-dealer, of Gillot's Quay, near The magistrate then asked if any respectable Liverpool. Being asked by Mr. Harding (the person in the neighbourhood could testify to magistrate) what he had to say for himself, he his character. replied, in a confident tone, easy

for these “I think there's a gentleman here as can, if fellows to set me down for what they want, but he will," was the answer. I'd as good a right to look at the place as others I guessed this was aimed at Witham. Would here, and I had a sort of curiosity to see how be take it up? Yes. such a strong house as this had been got into. “ It is not very likely,” he began, " that any That's all about it.”

gentleman should be in a hurry to speak for “Does anyone present know the man ?" you, Benson, after such disgraceful conduct as asked Mr. Grey.

that you have confessedly been guilty of. You Helen rose, and advanced towards the table. might have caused the death of that young lady ; "I yesterday reported to Mr. Kean,” she the cleft is a frightful leap ; and, though I know said, “ that I had been molested while riding and admire, as all do, Miss Dalziel's courage, the evening before on Gatton Marsh. That is I am sure she would not without reason have the man, who, apparently in concert with three incurred so frightful a risk.others near the ruined huts by the sea, hemmed The man was about to interrupt, but Mr.

" It's

Witham silenced bim with a more commanding to relate, and in the course of the evening she look and gesture than I had supposed bim found whence his irritability had arisen. Lady capable of. “Be silent, sir," he said. “It is Arabella Mainwaring had written requesting that coarse, rough tongue of yours I am accusing the marriage might be made known. This he not any serious intention of offence towards a had immediately and decidedly refused to conlady. I hope, however, you may find some one sent to. Helen believed there had been also better fitted to speak to your character than my reference to Mr. Mainwaring's journey to Paris. self; as I have only just returned from abroad, Mr. Wainwright said that because he had and cannot know what you have been about acceded to one request-tbat of allowing some months. I can say this," and he ad- Lord St. George to be informed there was to dresssed the magistrates, “I bave bought a be no end of asking, until they took Helen horse from this person, and he turned out well. away from him; but he should hold Mr. MainI believe he is tolerably well-known among waring to the tenour of his engagement ! gentlemen as a dealer in horses, and I have "Of course my grandfather is quite justified always heard him spoken of favourably in that - quite right,” Helen said. " But it seems a vocation.”

long, long time to look forward to, that I must Are you a resident in the neighbourhood?” not even see him !" inquired Mr. Harding.

Tears were in her eyes. “No ; though not entirely unknown here, “ Dear Helen," I said, “I doubt if your as I was visiting Mr. M‘Kinnom a few months grandfather is quite justified in forbidding that. back. A little affair of business with Mr. Alfred Certainly I do not know what the precise terms Merrivale drew me here to-day. Certainly Mr. of understanding may have been; but, I think Grant Wainwright would be a fitter person to a regard for your happiness should cause him speak where he now present, as he is a resident, to concede that much, even if it is in his power and his connections well-known here." to refuse it. Do not be down-hearted, dear;

The police still insisting that the man could he may consent some time when in better hu. not have entered through the gateway without mour. their observation, the magistrates determined Helen shook her head rather sadly—"and on remanding him for further evidence.

there's Grant coming,” she said. Our party then retreated into the library, “Do not think of that now: think, if we where the General's hospitality had provided shall have our letters to-raorrow.". refreshments for his visitors. Tongues that The last despatch from Vienna had contained had held enforced silence were now released, but one letter to Helen. Our correspondent and many comments made. The fact had

was then expecting his mother's arrival. On occurred to all that no recognition bad been Sunday morning I knew, by the size of the apparent between Mr. Witham and his "tenant;" budget, there was one for each; but, as I was but no one doubted young Merrivale's discern about starting for church, put it in my desk ment had been correct. Mr. Littington bad without opening. Helen accompanied me to heard one of the police assert he was positive Fairclough after service, and then our desthat man had been up before, for he had seen a patches were investigated. A glance at mine, photograph of him. Another had said he was which was long, induced a desire to read it like one he knew, but altogether darker. alone; so, while Helen' conned hers over, I

Alfred lest to join his brother and Mr. M‘Kin- made believe to be busier chan I need. She nom, anticipating some conversation with Wi. concluded with a smile and a sigh. tham. I was pleased to hear General Wetheral “All right?” I questioned. say he hoped to see him before dinner-time, and “Yes," she said, "he's all right. Both that there could be no necessity for his leaving the ladies speak of me very affectionately, he tells Harby Hall while his picture was unfinished. me. They spoke of him very affectionately to Mr. Littington was also invited to dine. He me; but, somehow, I would rather one of them accompanied Helen and myself through the had nothing to say to either of us." hall to assist us to mount and expressed “ Has Grant returned ?" I asked, as Helen much gratification at the part Alfred had played put up the letter. in the affair.

Yes, I hear he was at the Rood last-night, and suppose he will be with my grandfather

this morning." CHAP. XXXV.

Helen left, and I ran up to my bed-room

with my letter. Here it is : A BATTLE FOR LOYALTY.


apologise to me for the length of your letters; Helen being in baste to return to her home, their contents are very acceptable to me, even we rode fast, and exchanged but few words. when, as in your last, you take me to task ratber Next morning, however, she came to her severely. My correspondence with you is one studies, and I afterwards walked with her up of the greatest comforts I have. Helen's dear the hill,

letters are seldom long : I suppose it is natural She had not found her grandfather in good that a degree of restraint, which may be attrihumour on her return from Harby Hall; but buted to a girl's timidity, should attend them. he listened with some interest to what she had 'She does not tell me half enough about hersell ;

« ForrigeFortsett »