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hausted frame at once dulled has had. The man of the house is and intensified. They seemed to absent, or I should never have heard stand round him, with their faces of it. I don't know what injury so new yet so familiar—that needle- he may have done you; but this is woman with her emphatic mouth- an insult I don't forgive. Stop ! Mildmay-Lady Western-last of I have every reason to believe that all, this man, who was not Susan's he has gone,” said Fordham, growlover-not Susan's destroyer—but ing darkly red,“ to a house of mine, a man to be trusted “with life-to to confirm this slander upon me. death!” Vincent put up his hands To prove that I am innocent of all to put away from him that wonder- share in it, I don't mean to youful circle of strangers who shut out you believe me, I presume?” he everything else in the world-even said, with a haughty sudden pause, his own life—from his eyes. What looking straight in Vincent's facewere they to him ? he asked, with "I will go— ” here Mr Fordham an unspeakable bitterness in his stopped again, and once more looked heart. Heaven help him! they at Vincent with that indescribable were the real creatures for whom mixture of curiosity, dislike, resentlife and the world were made-he ment, and interest, which the eyes and his poor Susan the shadows to of the young Nonconformist repaid be absorbed into, and under them; him fully, — “with you — if you and then, with a wild, bitter, hope- choose. At all events, I will go less rivalry, the mind of the poor to-night-to Fordham, where the Dissenting minister came round scoundrel is. I cannot permit it once more to the immediate con- to be believed for an hour that it is tact in which he stood—to Ford- I who have done this villany. The ham, in whose name his sister's life lady you mentioned, I presume, had been shipwrecked, and by knows?” — he added, sharply whom, as he divined with cruel “knows what has happened, and foresight, his own hopeless love and whom you suspect? This must be dreams were to be made an end of. set right at once. If you choose, we Well! what better could they come can go together.” to! but it was hard to think of him, “Where is the place ?” asked with his patrician looks, his negli- Vincent, without any answer to this gent grace, his conscious superior- proposition. ity, and to submit to accept assist- Fordham looked at him with a ance from him even in the sorest certain haughty offence : he had need. These thoughts were in his made the offer as though it were a mind when Mr Fordham hastily very disagreeable expedient, but rere-entered the room. A thrill of sented instantly the tacit neglect of excitement now was in the long, it shown by his companion. lightly-falling step, which already “ In Northumberland — seven Vincent, with the keen ear of rival- miles from the railway," he said, ry, almost as quick as that of love, with a kind of gratification. “Once could recognise as it approached. more, I say, you can go with me if The stranger was disturbed out you will, which may serve us both. of his composure. He shut the I don't pretend to be disinterested. door and came up to the young My object is to have my reputation man, who rose to meet him, with clear of this, at all events. Your a certain excited repugnance and object, I presume, is to get to your attraction much like Vincent's own journey's end as early as may be. feelings.
Choose for yourself. Fordham is “You are quite right,” he said, between Durham and Morpethhastily ; “I find letters have been seven miles from Lamington station. coming here for some months, ad- You will find difficulty in getting dressed as if to me, which Mildmay there by yourself, and still greater
difficulty in getting admission; and him anything like a match for this I repeat, if you choose it, you can unexpected travelling companion. go with me-or I will accompany Every morsel he attempted to swalyou, if that pleases you better. low when in Carlingford under his Either way, there is little time to mother's anxious eyes, choked the consider. The train goes at eight excited young man ; but now he ate or nine o'clock_I forget which. I with a certain stern appetite, and have not dined. What shall you even snatched an hour's sleep and do ?”
changed his dress, under this novel “Thank you,” said Vincent. It stimulant. Poor Susan, for whom was perhaps a greater effort to him her mother sat hopelessly watching to overcome his involuntary repug- with many a thrill of agony at nance than it was to the stranger home! Poor lost one, far away in beside him, who had all the su- the depths of the strange country in perior ease of superior rank and the night and darkness! Whether age. The Nonconformist turned despair and horror enveloped her, away his eyes from his new com- or delirious false happiness and depanion, and made a pretence of con- lusion, again she stood secondary sulting his watch. “I will take even in her brother's thoughts. He advantage of your offer," he said, tried to imagine it was she who occoldly, withdrawing a step with cupied his mind, and wrote a hurinstinctive reserve. On these diplo- ried note to his mother to that matic terms their engagement was purport; but with guilt and selfmade. Vincent declined to share disgust, knew in his own mind how the dinner which the other offered often another shadow stood between him, as one duellist might offer him and his lost sister—a shadow hospitality to another. He drove bitterly veiled from him, turning its away in his Hansom, with a re- sweetness and its smiles upon the strained gravity of excitement, in- man who was about to help him, tent upon the hour's rest and the against whom he gnashed his teeth meal which were essential to make in the anguish of his heart.
They were but these two in the between them. When they first railway-carriage ; no other passen- met, Fordham had made an attempt ger broke the silent conflict of their to draw his fellow - traveller into companionship. They sat in op- repetition of that first passionate posite corners, as far apart as their speech which had secured his own space would permit, but on opposite attention to Vincent; but the young sides of the carriage as well, so that Nonconformist perceived the atone could not move without be- tempt, and resented it with sullen traying his every movement to the offence and gloom. He took the other's keen observation. Each of stranger's indifference to his trouble, them kept possession of a window, and undisguised and simple purout of which he gazed into the pose of acquitting himself, as somevisible blackness of the winter how an affront, though he could not night. Two or three times in the have explained how it was so; and course of the long darksome chilly this notwithstanding his own conjourney, a.laconic remark was made sciousness of realising this silent by one or the other with a deadly conflict and rivalry with Fordham, steadiness, and gravity, and facing even more deeply in his own perof each other as they spoke; but son than he did the special misery no further intercourse took place which had befallen his house. Through the sullen silent midnight bellion and enmity. He seemed to the train dashed on, the faint light himself at war, not only with Mr flickering in the unsteady carriage, Fordham who was helping him, the two speechless figures, with eyes but with God and life. averted, watching each other through Morning was breaking when they all the ice-cold hours. It was morn- reached the house. The previous day, ing when they got out, cramped as it dawned chilly over the world, and frozen, at the little station, had revealed his mother's ashy face round which miles and miles of to Vincent as they came up from darkness, a black unfathomable Lonsdale with sickening thrills of ocean, seemed to lie and which hope that Susan might still be found shone there with its little red unharmed. Here was another horsparkle of light among its wild ror of a new day rising, the third waste of moors like the one touch since Susan disappeared into that of human life in a desert. They darkness which was now lifting in had a dreary hour to wait in the shuddering mists from the bleak little wooden room by the stifling country round. Was she here in fire, divided between the smother- her shame, the lost creature ? As ing atmosphere within and the he began to ask himself that questhrilling cold without, before a con- tion, what cruel spirit was it that veyance could be procured for them, drew aside a veil of years, and in which they set out shivering showed to the unhappy brother over the seven darkling miles be- that prettiest dancing figure, all tween them and Fordham. Vin- smiles and sunshine, sweet honour cent stood apart in elaborate in- and hope? Poor lost child ! what difference and carelessness, when sweet eyes, lost in an unfathomable the squire was recognised and done light of joy and confidence—what homage to ; and Fordham's eye, truthful looks, which feared no evil! even while lighted up by the aston- Just as they came in sight of that ished delight of the welcome given hidden house, where perhaps the him by the driver of the vehicle hidden, stolen creature lay in the who first found him out, turned in- darkness, the brightest picture flashstinctively to the Mordecai in the ed back upon Vincent's eyes with an corner who took no heed. No con- indescribably subtle anguish of conversation between them diversified trast ; how he had come up to her the black road along which they once—the frank, fair Saxon girl-in drove. Mr Fordham took refuge the midstof a group of gypsies—how in the driver, whom he asked all he found she had done a service those questions about the people to one of them, and the whole tribe of the neighbourhood which are so did homage-how he had asked, interesting to the inhabitants of a “ Were you not afraid, Susan ?” district and so wearisome to stran- and how the girl had looked up gers. Vincent, who sat in the dog- at him with undoubting eyes, and cart with his face turned the other answered, “Afraid, Arthur 1-yes, way, suffered himself to be carried of wild beasts if I saw them, not of through the darkness by the power men and women.” Oh Heaven ! ful horse, which made his own seat and here he was going to find her a somewhat perilous one, with no- in shame and ruin, hidden away in thing so decided in his thoughts as this secret place! He sprang to the a dumb sense of opposition and ground before the vehicle had stopresistance. The general misery of ped, jarring his frozen limbs. He his mind and body—the sense that could not bear to be second now, all the firmament around him was and follow to the dread discovery black as the'sky—the restless wretch- which should be his alone. He edness that oppressed his heart- rushed through the shrubbery withall concentrated into conscious re- out asking any question, and began
to knock violently at the door. out. "Eh, whae are ye? vagaWhat did it matter to him though bond villains,—and this a gentleits master was there, looking on man's house,” cried a cracked voice. with folded arms and unsympa- “I'll let the Squire know-I'll rouse thetic face? Natural love rushed the man-servants. Tramps ! what back upon the young man's heart. are you wanting here?” The driver He settled with himself, as he stood of the dog-cart took up the response waiting, how he would wrap her in well pleased. He announced the his coat, and hurry her away with arrival of the Squire, to the profound out letting any cold eye fall upon agitation of the house, which showed the lost creature. Oh, hard and itself in a variety of scuffling sounds cruel fate! oh, wonderful heart and the wildest exclamations of breaking indifference of Heaven! wonder. Vincent leaned his throbThe Innocents are murdered, and bing head against the door, and God looks on like a man, and waited in a dull fever of impatience does not interfere. Such were the and excitement, as these noises broken thoughts of misery-half gradually came nearer. When the thought, half recollection—that ran door itself was reached and hasty through Vincent's mind as he knock- hands began to unfasten its bolts, ed at the echoing door.
Susan's brother pressed alone upon “Eugh! you may knock, and the threshold, forgetful and indifbetter knock, and I'se undertake ferent that the master of the house none comes at the ca'," said the stood behind, watching him with driver, not without a little compla- close and keen observation. He cence. “I tell the Squire, as there forgot whose house it was, and all han't been man nor woman here for about his companion. What were ages; but he don't believe me. such circumstances to him, as he She's deaf as a post, is the house approached the conclusion of his keeper; and her daughter, she's more search, and thought every moment to do nor hear when folks is want to hear poor Susan's cry of shame ing in—and this hour in the morn- and terror? He made one hasty ing! But canny, canny, man! he'll stride into the hall when the door have the door staved in if we all was open, and looked round him stand by and the Squire don't in- with burning eyes. The wonder terfere."
with which the women inside looked • Vincent paid no attention to the at him, their outcry of disappointremonstrance -- which, indeed, he ment and anger when they found only remembered afterwards, and him a stranger, coming first as he did not hear at the moment. The did, and throwing the Squire entirely house was closely shut in with trees, into the shade, had no effect upon which made the gloom of morning the young man, who was by this darker here than in the open road, time half frantic. He went up to and increased the aspect of secrecy the elder woman and grasped her which had impressed the young by the arm. “Where is she? show man's excited imagination. While me the way!” he said, hoarsely, he went on knocking, Fordham unable to utter an unnecessary alighted and went round to another word. He held the terrified woman entrance, where he too began to fast, and thrust her before him, knock, calling at the same time to he could not tell where, into the unseen keepers of the place. the unknown house, all dark and After a while some answering sounds miserable in the wretchedness of became audible - first the feeble the dawn. “Show me the way!” yelping of an asthmatic dog, then a he cried, with his broken boarse commotion up-stairs, and at last a voice. A confused and inarticulate window was thrown up, and a female scene ensued, which Vincent rehead enveloped in a shawl looked membered afterwards only like a dream ; the woman's scream-the of sympathy, followed him to the interference of Fordham, upon door, urging refreshment, rest, even whom his fellow-traveller turned his own society, upon his companion with sudden fury—the explanation of the night. Vincent's face, more and to which he listened without under- more haggard-his exhausted excitstanding it, and which at first roused ed air—the poignant wretchedness him to wild rage as a pretence and of his youth, on which the older man falsehood. But even Vincent at looked, not without reminiscences, last, struggling into soberer con- awoke the sympathy and compassciousness as the day broadened sion of the looker-on, even in the ever chiller and more grey over the midst of less kindly emotions. But little group of strange faces round Fordham's sympathy was intolerhim, came to understand and make able to poor Vincent. He took his out that both Fordham and he had seat with a sullen weariness once been deceived. Nobody had been more by the talkative driver, who there-letters addressed both to gave him an unheeded history of Fordham himself, and to Colonel all the Fordhams. As they drove Mildmay, had been for some days along the bleak moorland road, an received; but these, it appeared,were early church-bell tingled into the only a snare laid to withdraw the silence, and struck, with horrible pursuers from the right scent. Not iron echoes, upon the heart of the to be convinced, in the sullen stupor minister of Salem. Sunday mornof his excitement, Vincent followed ing! Life all disordered, incoheFordham into all the gloomy cor- rent, desperate—all its usages set ners of the neglected house-seeing at nought and duties left behind. everything without knowing what Nothing could have added the final he saw. But one thing was plain touch of conscious derangement beyond the possibility of doubt, that and desperation like the sound Susan was not there.
of that bell; all his existence and “I am to blame for this fruitless its surroundings floated about him journey," said Fordham, with a in feverish clouds, as it came to his touch of sympathy more than he mind that this wild morning, hyshad yet exhibited; “perhaps per- sterical with fatigue and excitesonal feeling had too much share ment, was the Sunday—the day of in it; now I trust you will have his special labours — the central some breakfast before you set out point of all his former life. Chaos again. So far as my assistance can gloomed around the poor minister, be of any use to you— "
who, in his misery, was human “I thank you," said Vincent, enough to remember Beecher's smile coldly; "it is a business in which a and Phæbe Tozer's invitation, and stranger can have no interest. You to realise how all the “Chapel folks" have done all you cared to do," con- would compare notes, and contrast tinued the young man, hastily ga- their own pastor, to whom they thering up the overcoat which he had become accustomed, with the had thrown down on entering; new voice from Homerton, which, “ you have vindicated yourself--I half in pride and half in diswill trouble you no further. If I gust, Vincent acknowledged to be encounter any one interested in more in their way. He fancied Mr Fordham," he concluded, with he could see them all collecting intro difficulty and bitterness, but with a their mean pews, prepared to inaunatural generosity which, even in gurate the “coorse" for which Tozer his despair, he could not bely, “I had struggled, and the offence upon will do him justice.” He made an their faces when the minister's ababrupt end, and turned away, not sence was known, and the sharp another word being possible to him. stimulus which that offence would Fordham, not without a sentiment ġive to their appreciation of the new