not so well, and I thought I would brey, taking the book, which was just step along with Margaret, who open at the sixth psalm. 'Twas a has brought you some more jelly. severe trial, for her feelings were not Did you like the last ?"

a little excited already. But how “ Y-e-s, ma'am,” she replied, hesi- could she refuse the dying girl ? So tatingly; “ but its very hard for me she began, a little indistinctly, in a to swallow any thing now, my throat very low tone, and with frequent feels so

Here her mother pauses ; for the tears every now and shook her head and looked aside ; for then quite obscured her sight. She the doctor had only that morning ex- managed, however, to get as far as plained to her the nature of the dis- the sixth verse, which was thus:tressing symptom which her daughter I am weary of my groaning : every was alluding to—as evidencing the night wash I my bed, and water my very last stage of her fatal disorder. couch with tears : my beauty is gone for " I'm very sorry to hear you say

very trouble." so, Phæbe," replied Miss Aubrey. Here Kate's voice suddenly stopped. Do you think there's any thing else She buried her face for a moment or that Mrs Jackson could make for

two in her handkerchief, and said

hastily, “ I can't read any more, “ No, ma'am, thank you; I feel it's Phæbe !" Every one in the little no use trying to swallow any thing room was in tears except poor Phæbe,

who seemed past that. “ While there's life," said Kate, in " It's time for me to go, now, a subdued, hesitating tone, “there's Phoebe. We'll send some one early hope-they say." Phoebe shook her in the morning to know how you head mournfully. “Don't stop long, are," said Miss Aubrey, rising and dear lady—it's getting very late for putting on her bonnet and shawl. you to be out alone. Father will She contrived to beckon Phæbe's

mother to the back of the room, and • Never mind me, Phæbe-I can silently slipped a couple of guineas take care of myself. I hope you mind into her hands ; for she knew the what good Dr Tatham says to you ? mournful occasion there would soon You know this sickness is from God, be for such assistance! She then left, Phoebe. He knows what is best for peremptorily declining the attendance his creatures."

of Phæbe's father-saying that it must " Thank God, ma'am, I feel re- be dark when she could not find the signed. I know it is God's will ; but way to the Hall, which was almost in I am very sorry for poor father and a straight line from the cottage, and mother – they'll be so lone like, little more than a quarter of a mile when they don't see Phæbe about." off. It was very much darker, and it Her father gazed intently at her, and still snowed, though not so thickly as the tears ran trickling down his cheeks; when she had come. She and Marher mother put her apron before her garet walked side by side, at a quick face, and shook her head in silent an- pace, talking together about poor guish. Miss Aubrey did not speak Phæbe. Just as she was approaching for a few moments. “ I see you have the extremity of the village, nearest been reading the prayer-book mamma the park gave you when you were at the Hall,” “ Ah! my lovely gals !” exclaimed said she at length, observing the little a voice, in a low but most offensive volume lying open on Phæbe's lap. tone-"alone? How uncommon”

“ Yes, ma'am-I was trying ; but Miss Aubrey for a moment seemed somehow, lately, I can't read, for thunderstruck at so sudden and unprethere's a kind of mist comes over my cedented an occurrence: then she hureyes, and I can't see.”

ried on, with a beating heart, whis“ That's weakness, Phæbe, said pering to Margaret to keep close to Miss Aubrey, quickly but tremulously. her, and not to be alarmed. The

“ May I make bold, ma'am," com- speaker, however, kept pace with them. menced Phæbe, languidly, after a hesi- Lovely gals !-wish I'd an um. tating pause, “to ask you to read the brella, my angels !—Take my arm ? little psalm I was trying to read a while Ah! Pretty gals !” ago? I should so like to hear you." “ Who are you, sir?” at length

• I'll try, Phæbe,” said Miss Au- exclaimed Kate, spiritedly, suddenly


[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

my arm?”.

stopping, and turning to the rude out in quest of her, and whom it speaker.

was singular that she should have " Who else should it be but Tittle- missed. This is not the place to give bat Titmouse. Who am I? Ah, ha ! an account of the eccentric movements Lovely gals! one that loves the pretty of our friend Titmouse ; still there gals.

can be no harm in myjust mentioning - Do you know, fellow, who I that the sight of Miss Aubrey on am?” enquired Miss Aubrey indig- horseback had half maddened the litnantly, flinging aside her veil, and tle fool ; her image had never been disclosing her beautiful face, white as effaced from his memory since the death, but indistinctly visible in the occasion on which, as already exdarkness, to her insolent assailant. plained, he had first seen her; and as

“ No, 'pon my soul, no; but--lovely soon as he had ascertained, through gal! lovely gal !—'pon my life, spi. Snap's enquiries, who she was, he rited gal |--do you no harm !- Take became more frenzied in the matter

than before, because he thought he or Wretch !-ruffian !-how dare now saw a probability of obtaining you insult a lady in this manner? Do

her. • If like children,” says Ed. you know who I am? My name, sir, mund Burke, “we will cry for the is Aubrey_I am Miss Aubrey of the moon, why like children we mustHall! Do not think"

Whether this was not Titmouse felt as if he were on the som ing like the position of Mr point of dropping down dead at that Tittlebat Titmouse, in his passion moment, with amazement and terror; for CATHARINE AUBREY, the reader and when Miss Aubrey's servant can judge. He had unbosomed him. screamed out at the top of her voice, self in the matter to his confidential “ Help !-help, there!” Titmouse, adviser Mr Snap; who, having accomwithout uttering a syllable more, took plished his errand, had the day before to his heels, just as the door of a cot- returned to town, very much against tage, at only a few yards’ distance, his will, leaving Titmouse behind him, opened, and out rushed a strapping to bring about, by his own delicate farmer, shouting—" Hey! what be and skilful management, a union bet'matter?" You may guess his asto. tween himself, as the future Lord of nishment on discovering Miss Aubrey, Yatton, and the beautiful sister of its and his fury at learning the cause of present occupant. her alarm. Out of doors he pelted, Mr Aubrey and Kate were sitting without his hat, uttering a volley of together playing at chess, about eight fearful imprecations, and calling on o'clock in the evening ; Dr Tatham the unseen miscreant to come forward; and Mrs Aubrey, junior, looking on for whom it was lucky that he had time with much interest ; old Mrs Aubrey to escape from a pair of fists that in a being busily engaged writing. Mr minute or two would have beaten his Aubrey was sadly an overmatch for little carcassinto a jelly! Miss Aubrey poor Kate-he being in fact a firstwas so overcome by the shock she had rate player; and her soft white hand suffered, that but for a glass of water had been hovering over the half-dozen she might have fainted. As soon as chessmen she had left, uncertain which she had a little recovered from her of them to move, for nearly two miagitation, she set off home, accom- nutes, her chin resting on the other panied by Margaret, and followed hand, and her face wearing a very very closely by the farmer, with a tre- puzzled expression. - Come, Kate," mendous knotted stick under his arm said every now and then her brother, -(he wanted to have taken his double- with that calm victorious smile which barreled gun)—and thus she soon at such a moment would have tried reached the Hall, not a little tired and any but so sweet a temper as his sisagitated. This little incident, how- ter's. “ If I were you, Miss Aubrey," ever, she kept to herself, and enjoined was perpetually exclaiming Dr Tather two attendants to do the same; ham, knowing as much about the for she knew the distress it would game the while as the little Marlbohave occasioned those whom she rough spaniel lying asleep at Miss loved. As it was, she was somewhat Aubrey's feet. “Oh dear!” said Kate, sharply rebuked by her mother and at length, with a sigh, “ I really don't brother, who had just sent two men see how to escape.'

cry on.


" Who can that be?" exclaimed Certainly," replied Mr Aubrey, Mrs Aubrey, looking up and listening after a moment's consideration. to the sound of carriage wheels.

“ Mr Runnington's errand is con“ Never mind,” said her husband, nected with that document. who was interested in the game- “ Indeed !” exclaimed Mr Aubrey, "come, come, Kate.” A few minutes apparently a little relieved. “I as. afterwards a servant made his ap- sure you, gentlemen, you very greatly pearance, and coming up to Mr Au- over-estimate the importance I attach brey, told him that Mr Parkinson and to any thing that such a troublesome another gentleman had called, and person as Mr Tomkins can do, if I were waiting in the library to speak am right in supposing that it is he to him on business.

who Well, then, what is the • What can they want at this hour?” matter?” he enquired quickly, observexclaimed Mr Aubrey, absently, in. ing Mr Parkinson shake his head, and tently watching an expected move of interchange a grave look with Mr his sister's, which would have decided Runnington ; "you cannot think how the game.

At length she made her you would oblige me by being exlong-meditated descent, in quite an plicit.”. unexpected quarter.

“ This paper,” said Mr Runnington, Check-mate!” she exclaimed, with holding up that which Mr Aubrey at infinite glee.

once recollected as the one on which - Ah!” cried he, rising, with a he had cast his eye on its being slightly surprised and chagrined air, handed to him by Waters, “ is a De“ I'm ruined ! Now, try your hand claration in Ejectment with which Mr on the doctor, while I go and speak Tomkins has nothing whatever to do. to these people. I wonder what can It is served virtually on you, and you possibly have brought them here. are the real defendant." Oh, I see—I see ; ?tis probably about “ So I apprehend I was in the Miss Evelyn's marriage-settlement- former trumpery action.” I'm to be one of her trustees,” With “ Do you recollect, Mr Aubrey," this he left the room, and presently said Mr Parkinson, with much anxiety, entered the library, where were two « several years ago, some serious congentlemen, one of whom, a stranger, versation which you and I had togewas in the act of pulling off his great ther, when I was preparing your mar. coat. It was Mr Runnington; a tall, riage-settlements ?” thin, elderly man, with short grey Mr Aubrey's face was suddenly hair—his countenance bespeaking the blanched. calm, acute, clear-headed man of busi- 66 The matters we then discussed

The other was Mr Parkinson; have suddenly acquired immense ima plain, substantial-looking, hard-head- portance. This paper occasions us, ed, country attorney.

on your account, the deepest anxiety.” “ Mr Runnington, my London Mr Aubrey continued silent, gazing agent, sir,” said he to Mr Aubrey, as Mr Parkinson with intensity. the latter entered. Mr Aubrey bowed. “ Supposing, from a hasty glance at

“ Pray, gentlemen, be seated,” he it, and from the message accompanyreplied, taking a chair beside them. ing it, that it was merely another “ Why, Parkinson, you look very action of Tomkins's about the slip of serious—both of you.

What is the waste land attached to Jolter's cottage, matter?" he enquired, surprisedly. I sent up to London to Messrs Run

“ Mr Runnington, sir, has arrived, nington, requesting them to call on most unexpectedly to me, only an the plaintiff's attorneys, and settle the hour or two ago from London, on action. He did so; and perhaps you business of the last importance to will explain the rest,” said Mr Par

kinson to Mr Runnington. 6 Well, what is it? Pray, say at “ Certainly,” said that gentleman. once what it is—I am all attention,” “I called accordingly yesterday mornsaid Mr Aubrey, anxiously.

ing on Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and “ Do you happen to remember Snap—they are a very well known, sending Waters to me on Monday or but not very popular firm in the proTuesday last, with a paper which had fession, and in a very few minutes my been served by some one on old misconception of the nature of the Jolter?"

business I had called to settle was set




[ocr errors]

right. In short,” he paused, as if Very little. If they had been distressed at the intelligence he was never so precise, of course I should about to communicate.

have distrusted every word they said. “ Oh, pray, pray go on, sir," said They certainly mentioned that they Mr Aubrey, in a low tone.

had had the first conveyancing opin. “ I am no stranger, sir, to your ion in the kingdom, which concurred firmness of character; but I shall have in favour of their client; that they to tax it, I fear, to its uttermost. To had been for months prepared at all come at once to the point, they told points, and accident only had delayed me that I might undoubtedly settle their commencing proceedings till the matter, if you would consent to now." give up immediate possession of the “ Did you make any enquiries as Yatton estate, and account for the to who the claimant was?” enquired mesne profits to their client, the right Mr Aubrey. heir-as they contend-a Mr Tittle- “ Yes; but all I could learn was, bat Titmouse." Mr Aubrey sunk that they had discovered him by mere back in his chair, overcome, for an accident; and that he was in very instant, by this dreadful and astound- obscure and distressed circumstances. ing intelligence; and all three of I tried to discover by what means them preserved silence for more than they proposed to commence and carry a minute. Mr Runnington was a man on so expensive a contest; but they of a very feeling heart. In the course smiled significantly, and were silent." of his great practice, he had had to Another long pause ensued, during encounter many distressing scenes ; which Mr Aubrey was evidently sibut probably none of them had equals lently struggling with very agitating ed that in which, at the earnest en- emotions. treaty of Mr Parkinson, who dis- " What is the meaning of their af. trusted his own self-possession, he now fecting to seek the recovery of only bore a leading part. The two attor- one insignificant portion of the proneys interchanged frequent looks of perty ?” he enquired. deep sympathy for their unfortunate « It is their own choice-it may be client, who seemed as if stunned by from considerations of mere convenithe intelligence they had brought ence. The title by which they may him.

succeed in recovering what they at I felt it my duty to lose not an present go for, will avail to recover instant in coming down to Yatton," every acre of the estate, and the present resumed Mr Runnington, observing action will consequently decide every Mr Aubrey's eye again directed en- thing!” quiringly towards him ; “ for Messrs “ And suppose the worst—that they Quirk, Gammon, and Snap are very are successful: what is to be said about dangerous people to deal with, and the rental which I have been receiving must be encountered promptly, and all this time—ten thousand a-year? with the greatest possible caution. enquired Mr Aubrey, looking as if he The moment that I had left them, I dreaded to hear his question answered. hastened to the Temple, to fo “Oh! that's quite an after considerayou Mr Subtle, the leader of the tion_let us first fight the battle.” Northern Circuit; but they had been “ I beg, Mr Runnington, that you beforehand with me, and retained him will withhold nothing from me," said nearly three months ago, together Mr Aubrey, with a faltering voice. with another eminent King's counsel • To what extent shall I be liable ? " on the circuit. Under these circum- Mr Runnington paused. stances, I lost no time in giving a "I am afraid that all the mesne special retainer to the Attorney-Gen. profits, as they are called, which you eral, in which I trust I have done right, have received,"—commenced Mr Parand in retaining as junior a gentleman kinsonwhom I consider to be incomparably No, no," interrupted Mr Runthe ablest lawyer on the circuit." nington ; “ I have been turning that

“ Did they say any thing concern- over in my mind, and I think that the ing the nature of their client's title?” statute of limitations will bar all but enquired Mr Aubrey, in a languid the last six years.” tone; but he was perfectly calm and " Why, that will be sixty thousand collected.

pounds!” interrupted Mr Aubrey,


It may

[ocr errors]

my fate.

with a look of sudden despair. account for or get rid of it. Gracious God, that is perfectly be an intimation from Heaven; I bow frightful!—frightful! If I lose Yatton, to its will !” I shall not have a place to put my head “ We must remember,” said Mr in-not one farthing to support myself Runnington, “ that possession is with! And yet to have to make up nine-tenths of the law ;' which means, sixty thousand pounds !The per- that your mere possession will en spiration stood upon his forehead, and title you to retain it against all his eye was laden with alarm and agony. the world, till a stronger title than He slowly rose from his chair, and yours to the right of possession be bolted the door, that they might not, made out. You stand on a mountain; at such an agitating moment, be surpris. and it is for your adversary to displace ed or disturbed by any of the family. you, not by showing merely that you

“ I suppose," said he, in a faint and have no real title, but that he has. If tremulous tone, “that if this claim he could prove all your title-deeds to succeed, my mother also will share be merely waste paper-that in fact

you have no more title than I haveThey shook their heads in silence. he could not advance his own case an

“ Permit me to suggest,” said Mr inch; he must first establish in himself Runnington, in a tone of the most a clear and independent title; so that respectful sympathy, “that sufficient you are entirely on the defensive; and for the day is the evil thereof." rely upon it, that so acute and profound

6. But the NIGHT follows !” said Mr a lawyer as the Atorney-General will Aubrey, with a visible tremor; and impose every difficulty on his voice made the hearts of his com- • God forbid that any unconscienpanions thrill within them. “ Mine tious advantage should be taken on is really a fearful case! I and mine, my behalf!” said Mr Aubrey. Mr I feel, are become suddenly beggars. Runnington and Mr Parkinson both We are trespassers at Yatton. We opened their eyes pretty wide at this have been unjustly enjoying the rights sally: the latter could not understand of others.”

but that every thing was fair in war; “ My dear Mr Aubrey,” said Mr the former saw and appreciated the Parkinson, earnestly, “ that remains nobility of soul which had dictated the to be proved. We really are getting exclamation. on far too fast. One would think that I suppose the affair will soon bethe jury had already returned a verdict come public," said Mr Aubrey, with against us—that judgment had been an air of profound depression. signed—and that the sheriff was com- “ Your position in the county, your ing in the morning to execute the writ eminence in public life, the singularity of possession in favour of our oppo. of the case, and the magnitude of the nent. This was well meant by the stake-all are circumstances undoubtspeaker; but surely it was like talking edly calculated soon to urge the affair of the machinery of the ghastly guil- before the notice of the public," said lotine to the wretch in shivering ex- Mr Runnington. pectation of suffering by it on the “ Good God, who is to break the

An involuntary shudder disastrous intelligence to my family !" ran through Mr Aubrey. Sixty exclaimed Mr Aubrey, hiding his face thousand pounds !" he exclaimed, rise in his hands. Something, I sup; ing and walking to and fro. Why, pose,” he presently added, with forced I am ruined beyond all redemp- calmness, “must be done immediatetion! How can I ever satisfy it ?” ly.” Again he paced the room several “ Undoubtedly. Mr Parkinson and times, in silent agony. The inward I will immediately proceed to examine prayer which he then offered up to your title-deeds, the greater portion God, for calmness and fortitude, seem- of which are, I understand, here in ed to have been, in a measure, an- the Hall, and the rest at Mr Parkinswered ; and he presently resumed son's; and prepare, without delay, a his seat.

“ I have, for these several case for the opinion of the Attorneydays past, had a strange sense of im- General and also of some eminent pending calamity,” said he, in an in- conveyancer. Who, by the way," said finitely more tranquil tone than before Mr Runnington, addressing Mr Par

"I have been equally unable to kinson--" who was the conveyancer

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



« ElőzőTovább »