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streets, in the hope of encountering her faithless hus band, and in inquiring after him at the inns. At length she satisfied herself, that he must have left the town that very day for a remote part of the island, and on foot. She immediately set out upon the same road, and with the same means of conveyance, determined to sink with fatigue, or subject herself to any kind of danger, rather than return without her object. At first, the road passed over a moorish part of the country; but after proceeding several miles, it began to border on the sea, in some places edging the precipices which overhung the shore, and at others winding into deep recesses of the country. At length, on coming to the opening of a long reach of the road, she saw a figure, which she took for that of her husband, just disappearing at the opposite extremity. Immediately gathering fresh strength, she pushed briskly on, and, after an hour's toilsome march, had the satisfaction, on turning a projection, to find her husband sitting right before her on a stone.
Fordyne was certainly very much surprised at her appearance, which was totally unexpected; but he soon recovered his composure.
He met her with more than even usual kindness, as if concerned at her having thought proper to perform so toilsome a journey. He hastened to explain that some information he had received at Glasgow, respecting the dangerous state of his mother, had induced him to make a start out of his way to see her, after which he would immediately return. It was then his turn to ask explanations from
her; but this subject he pressed very lightly, and, for her part, she hardly dared, in this lonely place, to avow the suspicions which had induced her to undertake the journey. “It is all very well,” said Fordyne, with affected complaisance; “you'll just go forward with me to my mother's house, and she will be the better pleased to see me since I bring you with me." Isbel, smothering her real feelings, agreed to do this, though it may well be supposed that, after what he had already done, and considering the wild place in which she was, she must have entertained no comfortable prospect of her night's adventures. On, then, they walked in the dusk of fast approaching night, through a country which seemed to be destitute alike of houses and inhabitants, and where the universal stillness was hardly ever broken by the sound of any animal, wild or tame. The road, as formerly, was partly on the edge of a sea-worn precipice, over which a victim might be dashed in a moment, with hardly the least chance of ever being more seen or heard of, and partly in the recesses of a rugged country, in whose pathless wildernesses the work of murder might be almost as securely effected. Isbel Lucas, knowing how much reason her husband had to wish her out of this world, opened her mind fully to the dangers of her path, and at every place that seemed more convenient than another for such a work, regarded him, even in the midst of a civil conversation, with the watchful eye of one who dreads the spring of the tiger from every brake. She contrived to keep upon the
side of the road most remote from the precipices, and carried in her pocket an unclasped penknife, though almost hopeless that her womanly nerves would support her in any effort to use it. Thus did they walk on for several miles, till at length, all of a sudden, Fordyne started off the road, and was instantly lost in a wild, tortuous ravine. This event was so different
which she had feared, that for a moment Isbel stood motionless with surprise. Another moment, however, sufficed to make up her mind as to her future course, and she immediately plunged into the defile, following as nearly as possible in the direction which the fugitive appeared to have taken. On, on she toiled, through thick entangling bushes, and over much soft and mossy ground, her limbs every moment threatening to sink beneath her with fatigue; which they would certainly have done very speedily, if the desperate anxieties which filled her mind had not rendered her in a great measure insensible to the languor of her body. It at length became a more pressing object with her to find some place where she could be sheltered for the night, than to follow in so hopeless a pursuit; and she therefore experienced great joy on perceiving a light at a little distance. As she approached the place whence this seemed to proceed, she discovered a cottage, whence she could hear the sounds of singing and dancing. With great caution, she drew near to the window through which the light was glancing, and there, peeping into the apartment, she saw her husband capering in furious mirth amidst a set of coarse, peasantlike individuals, mingled with a few who bore all the appearance of sea-smugglers. An old woman, of most unamiable aspect, sat by the fireside, occasionally giving orders for the preparation of food, and now and then addressing a complimentary expression to Fordyne, whom Isbel therefore guessed to be her son. After the party seemed to have become quite tired of dancing, they sat down to a rude but plenteous repast; and after that was concluded, the whole party addressed themselves to repose. Some retired into an apartment at the opposite end of the house; but most stretched themselves on straw, which lay in various corners of the room in which they had been feasting. The single bed which stood in this apartment was appropriated to Fordyne, apparently on account of his being the most important individual of the party; and he therefore continued under the unsuspected observation of his wife till he had consigned himself to repose. Previous to doing so, she observed him place something with great caution beneath his pillow.
For another hour, Isbel lay at the window inspecting the interior of the house, which was now lighted very imperfectly by the expiring fire. At length, when every recumbent figure seemed to have become bound securely in sleep, she first uttered one brief, but fervent and emphatic prayer, and then undid the loose fastening of the door, and glided into the apartment. Carefully avoiding the straw pallets which lay stretched around, she approached the bed whereon lay the treacherous Fordyne, and slowly and softly withdrew his large pocket-book from beneath the pillow. To her inexpressible joy, she succeeded in executing this manoeuvre without giving him the least disturbance. Grasping the book fast in one hand, she piloted her way back with the other, and in a few seconds had regained the exterior of the cottage.
As she had expected, she found the large sum which Fordyne had taken away nearly entire. Transferring the precious parcel to her own bosom, she set forward instantly upon a pathway which led from the cottage apparently in the direction of Douglas. This she pursued a little way, till she regained the road she had formerly left, along which she immediately proceeded with all possible haste. Fortunately, she had not advanced far when a peasant came up behind her in an empty cart, and readily consented to give her a lift for a few miles. By means of this help, she reached Douglas at an early hour in the morning, where, finding a steamboat just ready to sail, she immediately embarked, and was soon beyond all danger from her husband.
The intrepid Isbel Lucas returned in a few days to Edinburgh, with a sufficient sum to satisfy all her husband's creditors, and enough over to set her up once more in her former way of life. She was never again troubled with the wretch Fordyne, who, a few years afterwards, she had the satisfaction of hearing, had died a natural death of an epidemic fever in the bridewell of Tralee, in Ireland.
The moral of this story-and it is a real onemis,