FATHER AND SON.
FRANK stood a few
minutes like one paralyzed. People were all about him; curious
villagers with ears greedy for intelligence. Phil was looking
eagerly into his face. Dangers and pitfalls of every kind
encompassed him—vague and horrible doubts overwhelmed him; and but a
single moment was allowed him to decide how he was to act.
Happily, Frank was by nature prompt, or it would have gone hard with
him. He drew Phil on one side.
"Phil," said he, "we will search the matter to the bottom;
you may be sure of that. But you must remember, that if you
did see this man at the vicarage, it proves nothing."
Phil's countenance looked very crestfallen.
"And till we have sifted the matter," continued Frank,
earnestly, "I must beg of you, as a friend, to hold your peace on
the subject. You are a mere lad; I am a man, and I know how
dangerous it would be to bring a false accusation against this—this
stranger. Will you attend to me, Phil?"
It was the most distasteful turn the affair could have taken.
Phil had been feasting his imagination with the idea of how he would
rush back to Deepdale, and blazon abroad, right and left, that he
had found the man who had stolen the old vicar's money.
It took some little time to pacify him. Frank had to
use argument, and authority too, ere he could win from him a promise
of silence. Once made, he knew the promise would be kept with
fidelity: Phil had never yet broken his word. This matter
settled, Phil, with a gloomy and disappointed countenance, got into
the gig and drove homeward: and Frank went back to the inn.
The remedies used had already produced some effect. The
sick man's eyes were open; partial consciousness was returning.
Frank had told the landlord of his intention to remain.
The landlord, who supposed the gentleman to be a man of wealth, if
not even a sprig of nobility, did not express any surprise.
"Them as can pay are sure to get well attended to," said he
to his wife.
In which instance the landlord was at fault.
Frank then took up his post in the little low room of the
The crowd had dispersed ere this, and the street was almost
deserted. The woman who acted as nurse took the opportunity of
the doctor's presence to attend to her household arrangements: so
Frank was pretty much alone.
It was very little he could do for the sick man.
Reginald Chauncey lay for some time in a kind of stupor. Not
for some hours did he sufficiently recover to be aware of what had
befallen him. Towards evening, however, he revived; and his
eyes began to wander, with an expression of wonder, round the room;
then he put his hand to his head, as if bewildered to find himself
Frank had withdrawn himself a little, anxious to spare his
father the shock of a discovery which must needs be painful.
But his manoeuvre was unsuccessful: Reginald Chauncey saw him.
His face expressed wonder, mingled now with an expression of alarm.
Where was he? What had happened to him? He strove to
raise himself on his elbow, but he was too weak; he sank back on his
pillow and groaned. Then Frank came forward; he stepped to the
side of the rude couch spread upon the floor; he knelt down and
whispered, not tenderly perhaps, it was hardly in nature that he
should do so, but still in a tone of compassion, "Father!"
Reginald Chauncey looked up inquiringly into the face of his
son; then he feebly put forth his hand.
"Frank! how comes it that you are here?"
Frank told him; he related how he had been sent for, and what
was the result. He informed his father of the accident that
had befallen him.
Reginald Chauncey's ideas on that subject were confused, and
without any precise data; he remembered his horse stumbling, but
"Till I awoke and found myself here;—ah my dear Frank, what a
wretched hole it is!"
The old tone, the old scornful look! Frank knew it but
too well. Reginald Chauncey was evidently somewhat better.
Glancing round the room, he said to Frank, "You will keep counsel,
Frank? Not a word."
Frank looked at him reproachfully: he was thinking of his
"And the sooner you can get me on my legs the better. I
could not exist here many days!"
"I will do my best," said Frank, coldly.
"So you have become a doctor, eh, Frank?"
Frank made a gesture of assent.
"It's a famous thing for me, as it happens. How long
have I lain here?"
About two hours."
"I suppose I did not say anything. Men blab so when
their brains have had a knock. Did I blab, Frank?"
The flippancy of the tone shocked Frank beyond anything.
"You said not a word," replied he, at length.
"Ah, that's right! Reginald Chauncey always knew how to
take care of himself. Now, my dear Frank, do bestir yourself!"
Frank looked at his father.
"You see what a den this is. Perhaps I could be moved
into a better room; the best, in fact, that the landlord has.
Just see about it, will you?"
"I should not recommend such a step," replied Frank.
"Shouldn't you? Would it do me harm?"
"I feel sure it would. You ought to be kept perfectly
"If you think so, I will stay where I am; but, at all events,
I might have some wine."
"Not a drop!" said Frank, energetically.
"Really, Frank, I think I shall change my doctor? Frank
was silent. Silent also was Reginald Chauncey for a time.
Then he began again, "You must order me plenty of good things,
Frank. I won't undertake to live low."
"Ah!" thought Frank, "how has my mother been compelled to
He did not judge it expedient to acquaint Mr. Chauncey with
the fact of his wife's decease. Perhaps he knew it already;
and yet Frank could hardly suppose it possible. He had not on
a scrap of mourning.
"I can't live low, Frank. It is not likely," said Mr.
Chauncey, in a complaining tone.
Frank had now to tell his father that great care and prudence
were necessary, or he would not perhaps be able lo live at all.
He represented this in plain language; otherwise his patient would
have proved unmanageable. Reginald Chauncey was one of those
men who are terrible cowards at the thought of death. He
yielded at once to the authority of his son; he became all docility
and obedience. He was willing to do anything and everything,
so he might live. Live, on any terms—but live.
"I SHALL HAVE NO NAME."
FRANK went home
to sleep. His patient had so far recovered that he was able to
do so. He went, promising to return in the morning.
The landlord of the inn had naturally enough inquired the
name of the stranger.
But Reginald Chauncey had refused to give it.
"While I am here I shall have no name. You may call me
what you like," said he to the landlord's wife.
This circumstance might have excited suspicion in some minds.
It did not in that of the landlord. He set it down to
eccentricity, and the probability increased that his involuntary
guest was a man of title and distinction.
It is not to be supposed that Frank got much rest that night.
He was haunted by Phil's declaration—"He is the man!" He did
not think Phil was mistaken as to identity. The Irish lad was
too sharp for that. But if Phil were not mistaken, there would
occur an unpleasant coincidence. What was Reginald Chauncey
doing at the vicarage? There were several passages in Reginald
Chauncey's career that had never been thoroughly made out.
Gambling, swindling, betting—from none of these sins had he been
altogether innocent. His brilliant manners and appearance, the
hold he had gotten upon society, cast a veil over his sins.
His sins were glossed over and kept out of sight. But were
they less deadly for that? What was he doing at the vicarage?
It rang in Frank Chauncey's head increasingly. Was it possible
that Reginald Chauncey had taken the old vicar's money?
He rose in the morning unrefreshed, and feeling as though an
incubus were pressing him down. Dr. Plume, whose curiosity was
excited, had prepared a whole string of questions.
"Well, Frank"—he had begun to call him by this familiar
appellative—"and what of the patient?"
"There is nothing particular in the case, sir," replied
Frank, steadfastly regarding his teacup; "a contusion of the head,
and a fracture of the leg—not a very serious one, I hope."
"Then he will recover?"
"I think so.""
"Who is he, Frank?"
"He refuses to give his name."
"Indeed! and what is he like?"
"He is like—himself, I suppose," stammered Frank.
"Ha! ha! very good! very good!" laughed the doctor; "but I
mean, what sort of an individual is he—a gentleman or a snob?"
"I think he wishes to be supposed a gentleman," hesitated
"Oh, very well! By the way, you will have to attend to
him. This odious ankle seems inclined to do its worst."
Frank rose from table.
"You don't mean to say you have finished your breakfast?"
cried the doctor; "why, you have eaten nothing!"
"Thank you! I am late," replied Frank, laconically. As
he got into the gig, Phil ran up to him.
"Mr. Chauncey, may I tell to-day?"
"Not on any account!" replied Frank, in a tone of alarm.
"Because it's very tiresome," said Phil, with a look of
vexation. "Mrs. Melrose is fretting, and miserable; and that
rascal, Simon Crosskeys――"
"What is Simon Crosskeys doing, pray?" asked Frank, sharply.
"Oh, he's doing nothing—I should like to catch him at it!
He and Lewin have promised to wait and see; and now you won't let me
tell!" added the boy, in a tone of vexation.
"No; certainly not, at present."
"What do you mean by the present?"
"Until the—the gentleman is out of danger."
"What's his name?" asked Phil, abruptly.
"Now Phil," cried Frank, "please let me set off. Only
think how you are detaining me!"
Phil had hold of the horse's bridle.
"I will let you go when you have told me his name."
The boy's sharp black eye rested upon Frank with such
persistency, that he had no alternative but to stammer out, "He will
not give his name."
A sense of shame tingled through every nerve as he said the
words—burning shame, that dyed his cheeks with crimson.
Seizing the reins which Phil had let go, he set off at full gallop.
AN ABRUPT QUESTION.
and the difficulties of Frank's position seemed more than he could
bear. He soon reached the village inn. The little room
was in apple pie order. Through the open window came in the
fresh morning air so grateful to the jaded nerves of the invalid.
Every attention had been paid to his comfort, for it was evident
Reginald Chauncey was still supposed to be a person whose means were
"Well, Frank!" was the salutation of Reginald Chauncey, as
soon as he and his son were alone; "and how long am I to lie in this
den? Will a week do it, Frank?"
"No; nor a month."
"Frank!"—and the invalid turned on him a look of horror—"you
don't mean to say that I must lie here a month?"
"Worse things than that have happened to—to my mother," said
"Your mother! she is quite different to me, Frank. Your
mother likes to suffer; she is one of those women who do."
Frank was silent a moment, partly from the power and
vehemence of his feelings. His father went on to say―
Your mother ought to congratulate herself on having a husband
like me, Frank. She might have married—a very inferior
Frank made no reply.
"Between ourselves, Frank, she is not a woman calculated to
shine in the society in which I have been accustomed to move."
Not a word from Frank.
"And to which I am now, in fact, returning. My
difficulties, thank goodness! are at an end. Mr. Twist is a
capital fellow. I wish you knew him, Frank."
Frank was all this time debating whether it was safe to tell
his father that the woman, of whom he had been speaking so lightly,
was a saint in heaven. Sometimes he felt as though the words
would burst from him, whether he would or not; and as, viewed in a
medical light, it would not be safe, he thought he had best retire.
He had risen for that purpose, when his father stopped him.
"What an unsociable dog you are! You might hear me to
Frank sat down again.
"You never were any company for me!" whimpered Reginald
Chauncey. "I believe if I had had suitable associations in my
own home," added he, in a moralizing tone, "it might have been
better for me."
Many such speeches would have driven Frank to extremities.
Perhaps his father had a suspicion that they would, and he hurried
on to say―
"Mr. Twist has arranged my affairs to my perfect
satisfaction. I am now a free man—a man without a taint upon
his character. I can go or come, or do whatever I like.
That's something to boast of!"
"Father," said Frank, abruptly, and every nerve tingling with
a strange sensation of alarm and curiosity, "were you ever in the
neighbourhood of Deepdale before?"
The sick man started suddenly up on his couch.
"Frank, put that blind down. Don't you see how the sun
is glaring me to death?—put it down."
He spoke sharply and savagely. His face, pallid before,
looked white and fierce. He turned away, and drew the coverlet
over his eyes.
Frank put down the blind. The sunbeam, that had
struggled in, was partly obscured by the shadowing branches of the
elm tree. When he had done so, and had returned to the couch,
his father said―
"You may go now, Frank. I am tired to death with
talking. Good night!"
Frank—an undefined sensation of dread stealing to his
heart—stood a moment, hesitating whether to go or to stay.
Should he probe the mystery again? Should he again
attempt to remove the veil? or was it premature?
A respite would be almost welcome, and he agreed with himself
to grant it.
The cloud might come; it might burst with violence. He
feared it would; but, at least, not vow! At least, for the
present, he could hold back the evil. And, fearing and
trembling, he went his way.
CHAUNCEY had now
been ill a month. He was, to be sure, decidedly, though
slowly, improving. In another week he would be able, not to go
home, for he had no home, but to drift away, and be lost sight of.
Things had been tolerably quiet at Deepdale during this
interval. Simon Crosskeys had prevailed with his friend Lewin
to suspend the matter for the present. In fact, Simon had not
been altogether comfortable in his mind, since the interview with
The widow's health and spirits began to decline.
Perhaps the ban which the populace at Deepdale had placed upon her
was getting heavy to bear. Perhaps the alternations of hope
and fear tried her sorely. Perhaps she had become the victim
of suspense. Certain it is, that she drooped, like a flower
that lacks the genial moisture of heaven. Phil watched her
with a tenderness and solicitude far beyond what might have been
expected. He would sit for hours, his eyes fixed upon her.
If she wanted anything, he would fly to fetch it. He spared
her all the trouble he could over his learning. But of the man
at the inn he said nothing; most unwillingly, his lips were sealed.
Dionysius Curling had not altogether a pleasant time of it.
His visits to the cottage were much embittered by the presence of
Phil. Phil was always there; there was no getting rid of him,
for he refused to go and he never failed to set the vicar at open
When, one evening, Dionysius, glad of the opportunity,
ventured to observe "that Mr. Chauncey seemed as if he would do
nothing," Phil was up in arms in a minute.
"He's doing more than you think for, Mr. Curling; he's the
best friend we've got!" A speech very unpalatable to
Dionysius, inasmuch as it implied some secret understanding between
the trio, to the exclusion of himself. Nor did the widow
resume those delicious tête-à-têtes on the grass. She
was languid and spiritless, and seemed disinclined to renew the
slightest approach to the subject which was next to the heart of
Dionysius Curling; so that that worthy gentleman was for the present
under a cloud.
The month had passed, and another month began; still Frank
had not elicited the information he wanted; nor had he, as yet,
alluded to the mournful bereavement which had taken place during Mr.
Chauncey's absence from his home—the death of Mrs. Chauncey.
He meant to relate the circumstance, with all its details—details
which must needs cause bitter regret to the man who had broken that
tender and faithful heart!
"I can tell him she has forgiven him," thought Frank.
It was strange that Reginald Chauncey should have no further
allusion to his wife. Frank thought that he supposed her to be
living with himself, at Deepdale; and it was characteristic of the
man to endeavour to shirk his responsibilities.
No doubt he had little wish to disturb the convenient
arrangement he fancied had been made between his wife and her son.
He could come and go at pleasure. He could ride about on his
gallant steed, and dip into the cream of existence. Saddled
with a wife, his pleasures might run the risk of being somewhat
curtailed. Frank did not fear, now, any ill results from the
disclosure he was about to make; and, armed at all points, he went
forth one morning to open up the subject.
Reginald Chauncey had quitted his couch, and was able to take
moderate exercise. Frank found him in the garden of the inn,
sunning himself in a warm sheltered corner. He had contrived
to get about him as many luxuries as that part of the country
afforded. He had his bottle of Madeira on a table before him;
his Times newspaper, which he was reading as he reclined in
the easy-chair, borrowed for his especial comfort; a dish of grapes,
from a neighbouring hothouse, was placed by the bottle of Madeira.
Reginald Chauncey's palate was accustomed to delicacies of this
sort. He had been discussing both ere Frank arrived.
The sight of the grapes and the wine, the air of Epicurean
enjoyment about the man, and the remembrance of what Mrs. Chauncey
had suffered—her privations, her actual want of those necessaries
deemed essential by her poorer neighbours, stung Frank to the quick.
He could not find it in his heart to spare his father a single pang.
"He shall know everything," thought he—"everything!"
Yet it seemed difficult, at once, to thrust so painful a
subject on the ears of Reginald Chauncey. Filling his glass,
the disciple of Epicurus glanced at his son. "Your good
health, my boy. I mean to start tomorrow!"
Frank bowed coldly in recognition of the compliment.
"You are quite out of my hands now, father."
"Exactly: no evil can last beyond a certain period. Are
you in business for yourself?"
"No, I am not, at present."
"You are Dr. Plume's assistant, I suppose?"
Frank nodded assent.
"Perhaps you will acquaint that worthy individual, to whom I
have not had the pleasure of being introduced, that he had better
send in his account this evening—else he may run the risk of losing
"Father," said Frank, and the mournful expression of his face
might have served as a kind of preface, "I did not like to tell you
while you were ill――but――" He paused. His father nodded his
head, and smiled blandly.
"Say on, my son—say on; Reginald Chauncey has learned to be a
"Once only, during your illness," resumed Frank, his
sorrowful countenance contrasting with the jocund air of his
father,—"once only have you referred to my mother."
"Indeed! I was not aware of that fact," said Reginald,
gaily and airily. "You have a faculty for observation, Frank:
a capital thing for a doctor!"
Frank was silent.
"I suppose the excellent woman in question—for excellent she
is, in the main, despite her little peculiarities—I suppose she is
Frank looked steadily at him. There was a solemnity in
that look which cast a shadow even over the levity of Reginald
"On my word, Frank! what is the matter?"
Then Frank told him. He did not spare anything in the
recital. He told him of the anguish, the consuming sorrow,
that had embittered the last days of Mrs. Chauncey; how she had
watched and waited for him who came no more; how cruelly she had
suffered from his desertion; how she had wasted away, and died of
that worst and most torturing malady—a broken heart!
THE MEMORY OF THE DEPARTED.
"ON my word,
Frank! you don't mean to tell me this is a fact—that Mrs. Chauncey
is really dead?"
He had not dropped his cigar; but he had laid it carefully on
the table, with an evident intention of resuming it at some more
convenient opportunity. He was feeling for his handkerchief,
which, of the finest cambric, and abundantly scented, he now drew
"It is very shocking—very shocking, indeed!" and the scented
handkerchief was applied to his eyes.
The fountain of Frank's tears had been opened afresh while he
was speaking of his mother, he wept with all the bitterness of a
recent bereavement. Now, ceasing to weep, he sat, his head
resting on his hand.
"You see, Frank," continued Reginald Chauncey, removing his
handkerchief from his eyes, which, at present, were guiltless of a
single tear, "I am a man of feeling; I can hardly bear—this—shock!"
And then, as if he suddenly reminded himself of a favourite
solace, he laid hold of the bottle of Madeira, and, pouring out a
glassful, tossed it off in a moment.
"There, I feel better! Frank, allow me;" and he again
seized the bottle.
Frank shook his head. "Not on any account," replied he,
"Just as you choose, my dear boy; but indeed it is a capital
remedy in case of depression. You give way, Frank; you always
did. Look at me!" and Reginald Chauncey drew himself up
with the air of a philosopher.
Frank had hard work to control his feelings at that precise
juncture. Reginald Chauncey, meanwhile, had taken up his
cigar, and was coaxing it into relighting.
"And where—you need not mind telling me, Frank; I can bear it
now—where was your dear mother interred?"
Frank told him.
"I thought so! Ah, what an uncertain, fleeting thing is
human life—even as a vapour!"
Here he paused, as if wholly overcome by the moral and
religious considerations suggested.
Then he asked, with some abruptness, "And who—you need not
mind telling me, either—who bore the expenses of the funeral?"
"I did," said Frank, shortly.
"That was good of you, Frank; that was filial piety!"
Frank looked reproachfully at his father.
"It was unfortunate, just then," continued Reginald Chauncey,
who was smoking his cigar with the utmost composure; "I was cleaned
out, Frank, to the very last shilling. It was a terrible time
"And do you suppose it was less so to my mother?" asked
"Your mother! Ah, Frank, she—somehow or other—she did
not mind. I cast no reflections!" for Frank had hastily risen,
and with an air of disgust which could not be concealed. "No
doubt, poor thing, it was uncomfortable for her !" added he, by way
of a compromise.
And the poor woman had fancied this man would grieve for her!
She had with her dying breath bequeathed him her forgiveness.
He might crave for her forgiveness some time, in that dread
hour when his sins would be set in order before him—when the memory
of wrongs inflicted, and injustice dealt out, would crowd round his
departing spirit, if indeed space were left even for this;—when the
careworn face and wistful eyes of her who was gone would rise up, as
it were, in judgment against him.
But, for the present, he had escaped death, and was about to
plunge again into the giddy whirl of a life of pleasure. He
wanted no forgiveness. It did not seem to occur to him, that
he had been the means of hurrying his wife to her grave. His
view of the case was from a different point of view. When he
had mourned for her, in the finest broadcloth, with black gloves of
the best quality, and crape round his hat, he would suppose he had
done all that was required of him.
"See what respect he pays to her memory!" would be the
observation made on that occasion.
As for Frank, his heart was full. He could not enter
into any further discussion. Yonder was the dread mystery that
he needs must fathom, ere he allowed his father to depart; but he
could not venture on it now. Nor could he endure to dwell
longer on the subject of his late bereavement. I say his
bereavement, for to Reginald, Chauncey it was no bereavement at all.
Reginald had no wish to detain his son. The
conversation had taken a turn so unexpected, and so gloomy, that the
sooner it was ended the better.
He readily promised to be in attendance the following
morning, when Frank should bid him farewell, and also settle with
him the account due to Dr. Plume.
After that, Reginald Chauncey would go his way!
WAS HE GUILTY
FRANK meant to do
it. On no account whatever would he let the opportunity slip.
He was bound by every principle of honour and of integrity. He
meant to search the matter to the bottom. He intended to find
out the reason why his father had been seen at Deepdale Vicarage.
The circumstances of the case were suspicious. Nay, the
absolute certainty of the thing, for Frank did not for a moment
think there was a mistake of identity.
The fact of the robbery taking place that very day; the
confusion and alarm exhibited by his father; the probability of
Clara Melrose being an innocent woman; the unscrupulous character of
his father; his money embarrassments—all these things suggested
themselves to Frank's mind, during the weary hours of that day, and
of that sleepless night.
He could hardly realize the misery of his position, should
these suspicions prove correct. His soul recoiled, as with
loathing, from the bare idea. Still, be the consequences what
they might, he would hold to his word. He would go through
He rose the next morning, with this full determination in his
mind. He was pale and haggard. There was a compression
about his month, and a wan, weary look in his eyes, which excited
the compassion of Dr. Plume.
"Poor fellow! I am working you to death," said he,
"Indeed, I think the work trifling," replied Frank,
endeavouring to speak cheerfully.
"It is like you to say so, Frank; but, as soon as my ankle is
well, you will see that it will be more trifling still," replied Dr.
The moment breakfast was over, up came the gig, to take Frank
"I suppose that gentleman who chooses to go incog. will be
leaving to-day," said Dr. Plume.
"Yes; he intends to leave to-day," replied Frank,
"You will do all that is right and proper, Frank; I think he
might have come down to Deepdale, and called upon me."
"There will not be time now," observed Frank.
"No; of course not. Has he a wife?"
"I don't suppose he has."
"If he had, we should, perhaps, have seen her; though those
fellows who ramble about the country incog. don't often make the
"They do not," replied Frank. After which remark he
stepped into his gig, and drove off.
It was a clear, bracing morning in the autumn. The
fields had mostly been reaped, and the harvest gathered in.
Here and there, however, some tardy farmer was carrying the remnant
of his corn. The air was cool and pleasant. The country
had not changed much in its aspect; yet the tints and hues of the
declining year were just beginning to be apparent. Soon would
the harvest be past, and the summer ended.
Frank drove, in a leisurely manner, towards the village which
his father was about to quit. He had no reason for haste, and
he had many considerations to entertain. He knew not how be
should introduce the subject of the robbery. He felt a nervous
terror at the thought of what might ensue. Perhaps a
disclosure of guilt. Perhaps the bare, naked fact, that
Reginald Chauncey had taken the old vicar's money!
So terrible was this idea, so torturing to the brain, that,
had the drive lasted much longer, Frank would not have been in a fit
state for the interview. But yonder was the spire of the
village church, and yonder, too, the village inn, nestling beneath
the great spreading elm.
Frank stopped his gig at the garden gate, and, dismounting,
went in. The morning air was too chill for Reginald Chauncey.
He had his table and his bottle of Madeira within doors. As
soon as he had finished his wine, and Frank had paid his visit, he
was intending to depart. He was going to see a friend, who had
some shooting on the other side of Deepdale.
"Not that I am particularly fond of this neighbourhood," said
be, carelessly; "but Tom White is a capital fellow, and his
preserves are first-rate. I shall stay there till the hunt
begins. That is, when I have run up to town and got my
mourning:" and he glanced at his light summer apparel.
Frank's time had now come. He felts as if the
opportunity lost, would be gone for ever. Dr. Plume's account
was settled. Nothing remained but to bid his father farewell.
At this identical moment be fixed his eyes steadily on the
countenance of Reginald Chauncey, and said, in a tone of keen
"Father, were you ever at Deepdale Vicarage?" Reginald
Chauncey had the glass in his hand holding it up to the light.
The next thing Frank remembered was a loud crash. The
fragments of the tumbler lay scattered on the floor.
"Father," repeated Frank, impelled to it by a kind of
fascination, "will you answer my question—were you ever at Deepdale
The two bold eyes glared at him over the table. It was
a frightful face—so white, so fierce, so haggard. All these
expressions had come over it with the question. They were not
Neither of the two men spoke for a minute. Frank was
looking steadily at Reginald Chauncey; Reginald Chauncey was glaring
back at Frank.
During that silence, Frank felt convinced of his father's
guilt. It was a conviction that seemed as though it would
wreck and uproot his whole being—one of those sudden desolations
that bring utter and hopeless ruin. But it was a firm,
unshaken conviction. His father was the criminal!
The bearings of the case were wrapt as yet in darkness.
How he came there—what was his motive—how he was able to accomplish
the cruel and heartless robbery, Frank knew not. But of one
thing he was assured. It had been accomplished, and by
His eye still rested on the face of his father. His was
that kind of look, by which a superior intelligence quells that
which is base and brutish. It subdued the hard bold front of
Reginald Chauncey. Gradually, the eyes that had attempted to
hurl a species of mute defiance, sunk. The head drooped.
Presently, he raised his hand, and covered his face. Then, the
silence grew more awful still—it was the silence that precedes a
Frank rose. All throughout, he had been upheld by a
powerful excitement. A keen sense of justice, and what was due
to a person whose character had been blasted, urged him on.
His own heart was bleeding.
Ah! for many a day would this wound smart and fester.
But still he must go forward; he must tear the veil from before the
sin, even of his parent!
He approached his father. He told him, in a low,
hurried voice, that he suspected him of this crime. He related
to him the story of Clara Melrose. He conjured him, by all
that was sacred on earth or in heaven, to reveal the truth.
Was he guilty?
The man was not wholly hardened. He had a lingering
touch of some better nature. As Frank spoke—he trembled—it
might be that, for the first time, he felt compunction.
Certain it is, that when the sad tale was ended he uncovered
his face, not defiant now, but sorrowful, and said, in accents of
bitter self-reproach, and of remorse, "Yes, I did it;
I took the old vicar's money!"
THE VICAR'S MONEY.
BY degrees, the
whole story was revealed. Had that revelation come sooner,
better would it have been for the populace of Deepdale. They
would not then, for six whole months, have been the persecutors of
Clara Melrose. The true facts of the case were these:—
Reginald Chauncey was, as usual, involved in difficulties of
a pecuniary nature. His difficulties, indeed, had become so
pressing that he knew not where to look for relief. While
revolving in his mind what he should do to escape them, it occurred
to him that he had a friend in the neighbourhood of Deepdale who
might be prevailed upon to assist him. This friend was steward
to the Marquis of Crutchley.
Reginald Chauncey, who was driven to actual extremities by
the importunities of his creditors, resolved to make a purposed
journey, in order to solicit help from his friend. He did so,
but he failed to meet with that ready response for which he had
hoped. The steward declared himself unable to meet the demands
of the case. "He had no money," that was his expression; and
he added, immediately after, the ill-omened words―
"I have just paid the rent-charge to the Vicar of Deepdale.
You might try and borrow something of him."
Reginald Chauncey had not, at this time, the slightest
intention to commit a crime. Such an idea had never occurred
to him. He simply had the feelings of a man in desperate
circumstances; and, with these feelings, be turned his steps towards
The generosity of Mr. Melrose was proverbial in that part of
the country. His hand and heart were ever open. Far
beyond his means did he extend his charities—an appeal to his tender
mercies was rarely made in vain. These particulars respecting
him were known to Reginald Chauncey, and encouraged him to make the
application as suggested by his friend.
When he reached the vicarage, his knocks and rings at the
door met with no attention. No one came. He was eager to
obtain the interview; most unwilling to go away without it.
Cautiously, but still bent on finding some one, he tried to open the
door. The door yielded to his touch. He opened it and
entered. Still he had no sinister design; no thought of doing
harm to any human being. His motive was to find some one who
should give him information touching the vicar's whereabouts.
Unfortunately, he could find no one. He wandered from room to
room, each one being apparently deserted. At length he found
himself in the study.
The study was a small room, one side of which was taken up
with an old-fashioned cabinet or bureau, a kind of heirloom in the
"I could never account for it,"—this was his own
language—"but from the first moment, an irresistible desire seized
upon me to open that bureau. Frank, it is true as I am a
living man! I was impelled towards it! It flashed into
my mind that it contained money. Money was the thing I
thirsted for; for want of which I should be a ruined man! My
credit gone, my position lost, my very name blotted out. Yes:
I was certain that it contained money! A kind of trembling
seized upon me; my eyes looked wild; I could see them in a mirror
that hung over the fireplace. They had a greedy wolfish look
that almost frightened me. I stepped towards the cabinet.
A cold perspiration broke out upon my forehead. I tried to
open it; it was locked, of course! But I had keys in my pocket
that could overcome almost any obstacle of that nature. I felt
for them. All this time, I was like a man suspended from the
mast of a vessel. I was giddy, almost faint with excitement
and with terror; for it became clearer to me every minute, the thing
I was going to do. It was to steal the old vicar's money!
I did not intend to take it all; a tithe of it would save me from
immediate ruin. I never contemplated the idea of taking the
whole. But when my key had fitted the lock, when I had opened
the cabinet, and my hand had grasped a small bag placed therein,
then I lost all reason, all self-possession. I clutched it!
I had it! I held it! Now nothing would satisfy me,
unless I obtained possession of it all. I could feel the gold.
I did not stay to look; such a terror laid hold upon me. But
when I raised my head, and caught a glimpse in the mirror, I hardly
knew myself. What a haggard, guilty wretch I looked!
There was nothing for it but to fly. I secreted the bag about
my person and prepared to go. I dared not return through the
house, lest I should be detected. I raised the window and
escaped. Frank, I knew I was a villain. Believe me,
that money has been a curse! Before the week was over, I
had gambled away every farthing. You need not speak to me
again. You need not breathe the air I breathe. I will
go, Frank; only do not give your own father up to justice!"
He had finished the recital. Frank had listened, his
face white and stern, his brow knit as with intolerable pain.
Reginald Chauncey rose; so did his son.
"You will not give me up, Frank, for the sake of your
THE CONFESSION DULY WITNESSED.
CHAUNCEY was a
coward. Such men usually are. He had made the revelation
on the impulse of the moment, and had made it to his son! In
so intimate a relation of life, a confession of such a serious
nature might be supposed to carry with it the hope of inviolable
secrecy. He had acted on the supposition. Frank would
not, as a matter of course, betray his father. But when he
beheld Frank's countenance—when he read its expression of
indignation and abhorrence—he felt afraid of what he had done.
Then, with all the cowardice of a guilty conscience, he trembled.
"You will not betray me," repeated he, in accents of alarm,
"for the sake of your mother!"
To hear that revered name in those lips was almost more than
Frank could bear. His immediate impulse was to hurry from the
spot, to wander he cared not whither. But it could not be; the
bearings of the case forbade it. He could not let the innocent
stand any longer in the place of the guilty. He would have to
tell the little world at Deepdale who it was that had taken the old
vicar's money. He would have to vindicate, once and for ever,
the character of Clara Melrose.
To do this effectually, he must have a written confession,
duly signed and attested, of his father's guilt. He knew how
to obtain such a confession. He would do it. Not by a
useless appeal to his father's honour, or sense of manliness, but by
rousing his fears. On such a condition only would he allow him
to take his departure.
It was evident that Reginald Chauncey was alarmed. His
jocund air had given place to an expression of craven terror.
But when Frank told him what be had to do, he revived. He had
feared a worse alternative than having his name branded with infamy;
he had feared a prison!
Frank told him what he was required to write. A clear
and circumstantial account of the robbery committed at Deepdale
"There, Frank—that is what you want, I suppose."
He spoke in his usual jocular tone. His face was as gay
and self-possessed as ever. It was incredible how soon
Reginald Chauncey could be himself again.
"Now, I will spare your feelings," continued he, ringing the
bell. "I will not require of you to witness the signature I am
about to affix to this paper. It might be too much for your
Frank's amazement was so great that he hardly noticed the
sneer. He was but too well accustomed to his father's taunts.
What, however, could Reginald Chauncey be about to do?—to do, in
this moment of imminent peril and embarrassment?
Frank was standing, with the paper in his hand, when the
landlord entered. He had evidently expected a summons; for he
know that his guest was about to depart that morning, and had "kept
in the way," as he informed his wife, "in order to see the gentleman
"Well, my good friend," said Reginald Chauncey, addressing
him in a tone of perfect good-humour, "you and I have a little
business to settle this morning. Pray have you brought your
The landlord, all bows and smiles, produced it. In
fact, he had it ready in his pocket. He rubbed his hands
complacently, while Reginald looked over the long list of items, and
said he hoped he had succeeded in making all things comfortable.
"Capital, my good friend!" replied Reginald. "Here is
your money." And with the air of a man whose resources are
unlimited, he drew out his purse, full of gold, and laid it on the
The landlord's eyes sparkled.
"Wait a minute, my friend," said Reginald Chauncey, "I have a
little matter here in which you can greatly oblige me. It is
to witness my signature. Mr. Chauncey, will you be kind enough
to hand me the document?"
Frank, perfectly astounded at his father's coolness, did so.
"It is a little affair of business—a mere matter of money.
I will not trouble you to go into it," said Reginald Chauncey,
commencing to flourish his signature at the bottom.
When he had finished, the landlord took up the pen and wrote
his name where he was desired. He had not so much as attempted
to glance at the contents of the paper. Had he been disposed
to read it, it would have been impossible. The gay, jewelled
hand of Reginald Chauncey, as if by accident, concealed the fatal
words from his view. He appeared simply to be showing the
landlord where to sign.
While the landlord was settling his bill, with a profusion of
polite speeches, and expressions of regret at parting with his
guest, Reginald had folded up the paper. Then he placed it in
an envelope, tinted and perfumed as usual, and fastened it down.
With the same easy gesture as before, he handed the envelope to
"You must do as you please, Frank. See, there is my
horse. Good-bye to you!"
"Good-bye!" said Frank, mechanically.
"Won't you shake hands?" and the gay, jewelled fingers of
Reginald Chauncey were held out in the most condescending manner.
Frank touched them for a moment. This man was his
father, and they might never meet again!
Frank, left alone, wandered away into the fields, not caring,
for the moment, what might become of him. Sometimes he thought
he would flee the country. Sometimes he thought be would bury
himself in the heart of London. Anywhere, so he might escape
from the prying eyes of the world. He wandered till he was
spent and weary. Indeed, the sun was sinking behind the hills
ere he recovered his self-possession—ere the first sharp agony had
For the time, he was like a man beside himself. What
could he do? Could he keep silence, and allow the innocent to
suffer for the guilty? No! Honour and humanity alike
forbade it. But if he spoke,—if he told the little world at
Deepdale who the culprit really was, should he not brand with infamy
his own father?
Frank groaned bitterly at the thought. He had sat down
on a mossy bank, in the retired spot to which he had wandered.
A tremor seized him, as the idea, in all its hideousness, became
apparent to him. He sat, his hands tightly pressed to his
Did he not remember her, who, on her death-bed, had charged
him to stand by and to screen her husband from disgrace
"Ah!" thought Frank, tears bursting forth as the memory of
his mother came back, with all its vividness, "thank God, she is at
rest; thank God, this cup was spared her!"
Then he began to reflect—more calmly, for tears had eased his
tortured brain—he began to reflect how he could reconcile these two
jarring ends. How he could vindicate Clara Melrose, and yet
screen his father.
The mere bald fact of the confession having been made to him,
by the sick man at the inn, must come out, and that immediately.
Not a single day would he allow the ban to rest on the head of the
widow. But need that guilty person be Reginald Chauncey?
Need Frank disclose who he was? The stranger had given no
name. He had preserved a strict incognito. Surely it was
not required that his own son should penetrate and disclose the
mystery! Would it not be unnatural, unfilial, to do so?
What would happen if Justice, once set upon the track, found
her victim, was another matter. If the disgrace must come, let
it. Frank would calmly abide the consequences. But need
he, with his own finger, point out his father?
Yet there was the confession! The confession, signed by
Reginald Chauncey's own hand. What was Frank to do with that?
Shuddering, he drew the envelope, tinted and perfumed as it
was, from his pocket,—the envelope which contained the declaration
of his father's guilt!
He opened and read it. It was written clearly, and
without the least appearance of alarm or hesitation. Every
word stood out, with horrible distinctness, before the eyes of
Frank. All at once, he uttered a strange cry, and started up,
the paper in his hand, and the tinted envelope lying at his feet.
His father might well go off with that easy jocund air.
He, at least, had known how to meet the emergency. Frank might
weep and rend his very heart: the lordly Reginald would not so much
as let his equanimity be ruffled.
He had written the confession, it is true, but the name he
had put to it was not his own. It was that of an individual
invented for the occasion.
The paper was signed, "Richard Canning."
Frank stood, with the paper in his hand, as if, at first, he
could hardly realize the fact. Yet, after all, he had his own
simplicity to blame.
Would the man of varied wit and devices—the man of the
world—who had experience of every possible vicissitude and
emergency,—with whom truth was a thing to jeer at, and honour an
empty name,—would he have been likely to sign his own destruction?
Frank's simple nature and honest dealing were sure to be
outwitted in the contest with Reginald Chauncey! Yet it must
be confessed, that this discovery, though it made a fresh sense of
shame tingle in his cheek, was a relief. His great object, the
deliverance of Clara Melrose from suspicion, might perhaps be
accomplished without so painful an alternative. Let the
confession go forth as it was. It would not be the first time
that a criminal had given the world the lie. Let the world, if
it chose, find out the fraud.
"Surely," groaned Frank, in his anguish, "it cannot be
required of me to tear aside the veil. Enough, if I do justice
to the innocent;—enough, if through my instrumentality, the widow
can again lift up her head in Deepdale."
As he thought thus, what he had to do became clearer to him.
At once, he would reveal the matter to the enemies of Clara Melrose;
at once, he would hand them the confession; and then he would wait!
THE COUNTESS BAFFLED.
HIS road home lay
by the Manor. He could not choose but look up at it. It
was the fond look with which one regards a pleasant thing ere it
departs from us for ever.
The Manor did not present that deserted appearance which it
had done of late. The blinds were drawn up. It seemed as
if the family had returned.
Such a thing was not impossible, considering the sudden and
unexpected movements of the countess. Besides, Phil might have
sent for her.
If so, Lucy had returned. Lucy, whom he so dearly
loved—from whom he must be severed for ever!
He was hurrying by, his face averted, when some one called
him by name. It was the footman, with the familiar request―
"If you please, Mr. Chauncey, my lady is wishing to speak to
Frank stopped. He had no other alternative. His
mind was so full of the sense of disgrace, that it occurred to him
the countess might have heard of it. He was in a state to
imagine improbable and impossible things.
In the hall of the Manor another footman, equally resplendent
in lace and gold, awaited him. His office was to conduct Mr.
Chauncey to the presence of the countess.
It was evident she had not heard, for she came forward to
meet the young man with the utmost cordiality.
"Well, Mr. Chauncey, so you see we have got home again."
Frank, whose spirits could not on the instant be rallied,
muttered something about not having expected them back again so
The countess smiled benignantly upon him.'
"You see, Mr. Chauncey, events happen for which one is hardly
prepared. I came home on account of Lucy."
"Indeed," said Frank, somewhat sadly.
"You will be glad to know," continued the countess, "you will
be glad to know that Lady Lucy is a great deal better."
Frank was glad.
"The sea-air has set her up wonderfully. You never saw
anything like it in your life," said her ladyship, joyfully.
"Now, do sit down, Mr. Chauncey."
This was the countess's usual mode of proceeding when she
meant to be confidential.
"Mr. Chauncey," said the countess, her quick eye noting his
abstraction, "are you attending to me? I want to tell you
Frank felt ashamed of the rebuke. He was all attention.
"After what had passed," said the countess, hesitating, and
looking down, "you will not be surprised to hear that—that the
engagement between Lady Lucy and Sir Geoffrey Willet has been broken
Frank was not surprised in the least—for the simple reason
that he knew it before.
"Of course," said the countess, in an apologetic tone, and
still looking down, "I could not be expected to know how strongly
the poor child felt on the subject, or else—I would not—have
insisted upon it," added she, after a pause.
It was evident she wished to screen her conduct somewhat in
the eyes of Frank. At another time, this phase in the conduct
of the imperial woman who ruled Deepdale might have been interesting
and complimentary; but now, alas! Frank's thoughts were too much
engrossed with his own bitter woe to receive the confidence with the
consideration it deserved.
"I wish again to thank you, Mr. Chauncey, for your attention
to my daughter," said she, in a tone of cordial kindness. "I
shall ever think that Lucy owes her life to you."
Frank bowed, in reply to this speech.
"It is of my daughter I wish to speak," said the countess,
Frank made no reply, though the countess paused, as though
expecting that he should do so. During the brief interval of
silence, exceeding bitter were the memories that came crowding into
the young man's mind. But yesterday, how brightly shone the
sun of his prosperity! how tenderly he had been dwelling on the
thought of Lucy's return! How joyful had seemed his life!
Now, alas! this tempest had upriven all things.
Lucy he might never see again! For though—and the
reflection passed swiftly through his brain—though he might screen
his father, he could by no means escape himself. The innocent
must suffer for the guilty. The earliest dawn of love must be
extinguished between himself and Lucy. Was not his name
disgraced? was he not the son of a criminal?
"She shall never know," thought Frank, "the reason why I fled
from her—and flee I will—ay, miles and miles away from Deepdale!"
The countess, having vainly paused for a reply, continued her
speech. Not, however, until she had scanned Frank's face
narrowly. It was a face just then of utter and blank despair.
When she had scanned it, she smiled. "I can soon settle
him," thought she.
"Mr. Chauncey, I think you take somewhat of an interest in my
She said it still softly. Indeed, her manners were
subdued, almost tender. He had never seen her in this mood
She thought she had the clue to Frank's despondency.
She thought he was afraid of not obtaining her consent to become the
lover of Lucy. And it was a bold thing, the countess
reflected—very bold indeed—for a young man of no position, or
wealth, or name—(the Chaunceys were an extinct race, as far as their
glory went)—for him to seek to ally himself with the Landons!
At first the countess had recoiled from the idea, but sundry
considerations had reconciled her to it.
To begin with, Frank had a share of manly beauty and
accomplishments that had been rather dazzling to the countess.
He was a young man of parts, as she boasted to the select circle of
her acquaintance. He had good blood in his veins, though the
world might be oblivious of the fact. And—which consideration
did more honour to her heart—Frank had been instrumental in rescuing
her daughter from an early grave,— instrumental, in fact, in undoing
the mischief she had done, and in saving her from undying
Yes, she was eternally indebted to Frank! Then Lucy
loved him; Lucy, who had been so difficult to deal with—so unlike
the rest of her race—would be thus happily disposed of. The
countess was sadly haunted by the dread lest Lucy should never marry
at all. Lucy would be disposed of. The girl's fortune
was ample, and she and her husband might occupy as brilliant a
position as any young married people in the country.
"He can give up his doctoring, and turn gentleman," she had
thought to herself.
When, however, in spite of her soft speaking, Frank stood,
pale, and rigid, and silent, she began to feel uneasy. It was
strange that her delicate hints should be disregarded—hints, one
would think, that a lover might have caught up with eagerness.
It is true, that at the conclusion of her last speech, a gleam shot
from Frank's eye, a quick, passionate gleam, that rested for a
moment on the face of the Big Countess. But it soon changed to
one of despair, or, as it might have been interpreted, blank
What was she to think? how was she to proceed? For once
the countess felt baffled.
Yet the old imperious will began to assert itself. Lady
Landon was not to be trifled with. She was not intending to be
the confidante of a love affair which had no existence, save in
Lucy's romantic brain. No, indeed! She would find out
the truth of the matter then and there.
"Mr. Chauncey," said she, coming close up to him, and taking
his hands in her vast grasp, "am I right in my conjecture—is it not
you who love my daughter?"
The kindness of her tone, the genial expression of her face,
admitted of no doubt, no hesitation. Swift as lightning passed
through the young man's mind the thing he had lost—the happiness of
his whole life!
He could not bear it. It half maddened him. He
tore his hands from the countess's grasp, and staggered towards the
door. To attempt to explain, even to speak was impossible; and
with the wail of his dying hopes ringing in his ears, he fled away
from Deepdale Manor!
DR. PLUME IN A BEWILDERMENT.
reached Dr. Plume's house, after his interview with the countess, he
put his horse in the stable and hurried in at the front door,
dreading lest any one should meet him. Hastening to his own
chamber, he threw himself on the floor and groaned aloud.
Happily, he could not abandon himself to the excess of his grief.
He had to make a simple wholesome effort, which might do him good:
he had to dress for dinner. As he stood before the glass, and
saw his dishevelled hair and wild eyes, he scarcely recognised
himself. Then he smiled—not such a smile as we have been used
to see on the face of Frank Chauncey.
"If I can live through the next few days, I shall leave
England," he thought. Whither he would go he knew not.
Just then he hardly cared.
A bell sounded presently, as a warning that the punctual,
orderly doctor was ready for his dinner. He usually dined at
six o'clock, and after dinner he and Frank would sit and talk cozily
together. He was getting more and more attached to Frank.
He was at the head of the table waiting for Frank to make his
appearance. His ankle had taken a turn for the better, and he
was in excellent spirits. Indeed, he seemed inclined to be
"I hope you have an appetite, Frank," said he, cheerfully;
"you have been in the fresh air long enough."
Frank murmured something about having been detained; he did
not say how or where. Then he took some meat upon his plate,
and began the arduous task of trying to swallow it.
"Your ride has not improved your looks," said the doctor,
scanning Frank's face through his eye-glass. "Pardon me the
suggestion, my dear fellow, but you look as if something had
happened to you."
Frank's face, from deadly pale, turned to crimson, and then
to deadly pale again. The doctor, who had his own opinion on
the subject, smiled good-humouredly.
"So we have been to the Manor, I suppose," said he, filling
his glass. "I hope you found Lady Lucy all the better for her
"I did not see her," stammered Frank.
"No?" And the doctor looked up at him with an air of
Frank's eyes were fixed on his plate.
"I thought you went there on purpose."
"Her ladyship sent for me," replied Frank, trying to speak
"Which ladyship?" asked the doctor.
"Why did you not see Lady Lucy, pray?" asked the doctor, who
was getting vexed at Frank's stolidity.
"I went to speak to Lady Landon," replied Frank.
"Bah! you had better marry the Big Countess, if you are so
fond of her!" cried the doctor.
"Sir?" said Frank, coldly.
"When, if you had a grain of spirit, there is my little
"Dr. Plume!" exclaimed Frank, rising, and every vein standing
out in his forehead. Then he sat down again, and hid his face
in his hands.
Dr. Plume was now absolutely frightened.
"Goodness me, Frank! what is the matter?"
Frank made no reply.
"Ah!" thought the doctor, after a few minutes' silent survey.
"I see, I see! My lady has changed her mind, and is playing
with him as a cat does with a mouse. I know the Big Countess
well; and I'll be even with her, too. Don't I know she loves
She, in this case, meaning Lady Lucy.
"Don't I know she loves him?" he repeated, when Frank, silent
and moody, sat with his untasted glass beside him.
"Don't I know she loves him?" he repeated, when Frank was
tossing to and fro on his bed, as he did all that weary night;
resolving, ere many days were over, to put the wide ocean between
himself and—yes—the Lady Lucy,—for ever!
PHIL'S ATTACK UPON CRANK.
IT was the most
natural thing in the world to suppose that Reginald Chauncey would,
as soon as he could, get clear of Deepdale.
The associations connected with the neighbourhood were
anything but pleasant, or even safe. True, no human being, so
he thought, beheld him take the old vicar's money: but yet, if walls
have ears, it was just possible they might have eyes also.
It was just possible that he might fall into some pitfall,
and be taken unawares. A circumstance had once or twice
occurred during his enforced stay at the inn which caused him a pang
of uneasiness. While sitting in the little parlour, he had
been startled by a sudden apparition, as it seemed, at the window.
A pair of intensely black eyes, with a menacing expression, had been
fixed upon him;—only for a moment; ere he could sufficiently recover
his composure to rise, and see who it was, the eyes had disappeared.
When he reached the window, no trace was to be seen of any living
Once, again, when taking air and exercise in the narrow strip
of garden attached to the house, the same thing had startled him.
From behind a gap in the hedge, there peered suddenly forth the same
menacing eyes, and the eyes he now perceived belonged to a short
grotesque figure, which—yes, certainly, which he had once seen
Where was it? He reeled back a few paces, as if he were
about to fall—so fast, so thick, so hurrying came those memories!
He had seen these eyes, that figure, when coming out of
Deepdale Vicarage, after he had stolen the old vicar's money!
A cold perspiration broke out upon his forehead. He
fled to the shelter of his room. Not for worlds, dare he look
again! Perhaps the eyes would recognize him,—perhaps the voice
would denounce him as the culprit!
That night was the last he had spent at Deepdale. He
was gone in quest of other scenes, with his lordly air, his polished
exterior, and his courtly smile.
"A real gentleman," as the landlord observed, "every inch of
him! Every inch of him repeated he, making the assertion twice
over, for the benefit of Phil.
The boy stood with clenched fists, and fiery eyes, looking as
savage and untamed as ever he had been in his life. Gone!" he
shouted in his wild impetuous way—"Gone!"
"Yes, my lord," said the landlord, glibly, and clinking his
money in his pocket. "He went off this morning, as comfortable
as could be. Mr. Chauncey, he's pulled him through wonderful.
A clever young man is Mr. Chauncey—I shall always stick to that,"
added he, in a patronizing tone.
"Did Mr. Chauncey know that he meant to go?"
"Bless me! yes, my lord, I think so!"
"But are you sure?" thundered Phil, "are you sure he
"Well, my lord, I'm as sure as can be! Leastways, they
shook hands, and Mr. Chauncey saw the gentleman off."
"Saw the gentleman off!"
"Yes, my lord. I knew it by the token, he was here
after the other had gone. And he left his horse—"
But the landlord talked to thin air; Phil was on his way back
He soon reached Dr. Plume's house, the door of which he
opened without any ceremony, and ran upstairs to the room where he
felt almost sure he should find Frank; indeed, it was Frank's
"I say, Mr. Chauncey!" shouted Phil, imperiously. At
first, no one answered, and no one was in sight; but a moment after,
the door of Frank's bedroom opened, and the young man came forth.
It was evening by this time, and the blind was down, and the
room somewhat dark. Frank's white face was not therefore so
apparent. If it had been, I hardly think it would have made
The blood of the Landons was up!
"I say," cried Phil, rushing up to Frank, and laying hold on
him, "what have you done with him?"
Frank stood still, for a moment, speechless. Then he
"Is this my Lord Landon, or who is it?"
Phil relaxed his hold, and fell back a little. Frank's
cool, cutting tones brought him to his senses. But he was
still in a furious passion.
"Mr. Chauncey," cried he, "do you know the man has gone?"
Frank sat down in the easy-chair, his back to the window.
One hand grasped the arm of the chair. Frank clutched it in
"Gone!" repeated Phil, coming and standing before Frank.
"Gone! and I've watched, day after day, as for my life.
I've been—and been—and been, to see that he did not give me the
slip! I'd have held one to him, and would――"
"Phil!" cried Frank—"Phil, be silent. Give over.
What do you want? I will not have it!"
"What do I want?" said Phil, more quietly, and coming close
up; "I want that man to be given up to justice!"
Frank sat immovable. He might have been turned to
"If you try to hide him," continued Phil, growing less
violent, but more earnest, "I will find him! What reason you
have for screening him, I know not; but, wherever he may be, villain
that he is, I will have him dragged to punishment!"
"What reason you may have for screening him"—"villain that he
is"—"drag him to punishment"—these words had a terrible meaning in
the ears of Frank Chauncey. Yet, all the while, he neither
stirred nor spoke. Motionless lies the shipwrecked vessel at
the bottom of the ocean! Frank Chauncey felt as though the
waves had closed over him for ever!
"You do not speak," continued Phil. "You have been
false to me, Mr. Chauncey; you have been as wicked as the man whom
you have let escape!"
Have let escape!
Frank smiled a strange, curious smile.
"And now," continued Phil, "just hear what I have to say.
I retract my promise; I will be silent no longer. I shall tell
all Deepdale that you have let go the man who stole the old vicar's
He opened the door and fled. Frank heard him clattering
down the stairs, as though he would rouse the whole neighbourhood;
and that was precisely what Phil was intending to do.
FRANK'S VISIT TO SIMON CROSSKEYS.
AT first Frank
sat still, not moving hand or foot; then he rose suddenly, and began
to walk up and down the room. All at once, he uttered a low,
wailing cry, and sank upon his knees, stretching out his hands to
In his extremity he took refuge in prayer. As a
Christian, he had this tower of strength into which he might run and
be safe. He prayed for help, for guidance, for consolation;
and he obtained the help he needed. When he rose from his
knees, he felt strengthened, and better able to cope with the
difficulties that threatened him.
He began calmly to reflect what it would be best for him to
do. One thing he must do, and that immediately. He must
acquaint the persecutors of Clara Melrose with the fact of her
innocence. It would not be right to close his eyes in slumber
ere this act of justice had been accomplished. The widow had
been living under the ban of a cruel and false suspicion.
Perhaps few women had suffered so keenly and so undeservedly.
"All that should be set straight ere morning!" Thinking
thus, he prepared to sally forth on his errand, not of mercy, but of
justice. He resolved to place the confession in the hands of
It was a clear starlight night. The air felt soft and
balmy, and fanned his feverish brow as he walked along. He
looked up to those serene orbs of light, and took comfort in
thinking, that the mighty hand, which hung them in their spheres,
could control his vexed and unhappy destiny.
Again he fell back on the mercy and goodness of his Father,
and His promises to succour all who put their trust in Him.
As he passed along the village street, lights were twinkling
in the cottages. Here and there a door stood open, and the
little homely circle were seen within. Then a cordial
"Good-night, Mr. Chauncey," would greet Frank as he passed.
Everybody in Deepdale respected Frank Chauncey. Very
soon he came to the garden-gate which led to the dwelling of Simon
Crosskeys. Here he paused, and drew a paper from his pocket.
Holding this paper tightly in his hand, he stepped up the
garden-walk, and knocked at the door.
"Come in!" said the well-known voice of Simon Crosskeys.
Frank opened the door and went straight into the kitchen, or
common sitting-room. Simon Crosskeys was not alone, as Frank
had hoped. His friend and colleague, Nathanael Lewin, was
sitting on the other side of the fireplace, enveloped in a cloud of
Simon Crosskeys got up directly.
"Dear, dear, Mr. Chauncey! I'm sure I beg your pardon,
sir, speaking so short. I thought it was one of the lads from
Frank Chauncey was a favourite of Mr. Crosskeys.
"Howsoever, sit down a bit. I'm right glad to see you!"
And he placed a chair for Frank, with the utmost alacrity.
"Doctor—pretty well, to-night, sir?" asked Simon Crosskeys,
somewhat at a loss to account for Frank's visit.
"Yes, thank you," replied Frank.
Simon, whose conversational powers were of a limited
description, paused for a new idea to occur to him."
"Very warm to-night, Mr. Chauncey," he began again, "for the
time of year. I've known us to have a catch of frost by now."
"It is warm," said Frank, abstractedly. All the time he
was considering how he was to begin the thing he had to do.
Mr. Lewin, who was a shy man, and taciturn, had carried his
pipe to the door. He was vexed at being interrupted in a
bargain he was driving with Crosskeys, about "the shorthorns in the
Frank roused himself, and looked Mr. Crosskeys in the face.
Mr. Crosskeys, somewhat puzzled, returned the look.
"Well, Mr. Chauncey," said he, blandly, "what is it?"
"It is this," said Frank, in a strange, husky voice, quite
unlike his own: "I have come to tell you—that—I have found out the
person who took the old vicar's money."
"Eh, what cried?" Nathanael Lewin, coming in hot haste from
the doorway;—"what did you say, Mr. Chauncey?"
Frank, deadly pale, and agitated beyond measure, repeated the
"I have found out the man who took the old vicar's
"Man!" echoed Simon Crosskeys and Nathanael Lewin in a
Their eager eyes, and blank faces, it would be difficult to
describe. A terrible suspicion flashed into their minds;—a
dread of what they might have been doing.
"Tell us, Mr. Chauncey," said Crosskeys, rubbing this hard
hand over his forehead, "what is it you mean? speak, sir; quick!"
Frank had sat pale and repressed before these two eager
excited faces. When he spoke, it was in the same husky voice.
How could these men guess what it cost to wring this
declaration from him?
He began, by reminding them of the mysterious individual seen
by Lord Landon,—an individual whose very existence they had doubted.
Here he stopped. Every word seemed to be drawn forth by an
effort. He stopped as if, for the moment, he could hardly
"Go on, sir," cried Crosskeys, impatiently; "we want to know
Then Frank went on. He told them that the gentleman he
had been attending at the village yonder, had been identified by
Lord Landon as――
Again he paused. He had miscalculated his strength.
It was scarcely possible to endure the anguish he was suffering.
"Do you mean to tell us," said Simon Crosskeys, sternly, and
fixing his eyes on Frank,—"do you mean to tell us that the gentleman
you have been doctoring out there is the villain who stole the old
Frank's eye gave a strange flash, something like indignation.
Then his head sank on his breast, and he replied, calmly and sadly,
"I do. He was the man!"
THE CONFESSION PASSES INTO OTHER HANDS.
Lewin recoiled a few paces, like men staggered by a blow or a
surprise; then they stared blankly one at the other.
Clara Melrose was innocent! This was the first idea
that occurred to them, in all its force and vividness. Clara
Melrose—the woman they had been determined to hunt down—the victim
of their unrelenting persecution she, whom they had esteemed guilty,
was innocent! As innocent as they were!
They were not impulsive men, or demonstrative, or with a
single tinge of sentiment in their nature. But their common
honesty, their manliness, their love of justice, had been appealed
to. They responded to the appeal heartily, and at once.
When the first shock of the discovery was somewhat over,
Crosskeys began again to address Frank Chauncey.
"Now, Mr. Chauncey," said he, quickly and excitedly, "perhaps
you'll tell us all about it."
Frank had not appeared to see the effects produced by his
disclosure. He was sitting, his face hard and stern, his eyes
fixed on the glowing embers in the grate. He did not even hear
the ejaculations of the two horror-stricken men before him. A
louder voice than theirs was sounding in his ears—a voice which
said, with cruel distinctness, "The criminal is your father!"
When he was addressed by Simon Crosskeys, he roused himself
by a great effort. In reply, he stated the particulars as
briefly as he could. He told how the gentleman (there
was a slight embarrassment as he pronounced the word) had been
thrown from his horse, and how Frank had been sent for to attend
him. How his suspicions had been roused by sundry
circumstances, as, for instance, the agitation displayed by his
patient on the mention of the word Deepdale. How he
questioned him (Frank's lips grew white as he proceeded), and at
length drew forth a confession. Yes, a confession of guilt!
There was a pause. The faces of Crosskeys and Lewin had
a hushed expression. The great clock ticked at Frank's elbow;
but not a sound else was heard. An awful stillness seemed to
have fallen on the house. In the ears of these simple-minded
men, the word confession was fraught with unusual terrors.
Then Frank, who had the tinted and perfumed envelope still in
his hand, gave it to Simon Crosskeys.
"This," said he, "is the written declaration of the—the
Simon Crosskeys snatched the paper eagerly, and Frank, scarce
able to restrain his feelings, took up his hat to depart.
Tearing open the envelope, Crosskeys held the candle close to the
writing, in order that his eye writing greedily devour every word.
Not so greedily, however, but that Frank's movement caused him to
look up. Caused them, I might say—Nathanael Lewin was peering,
full as anxiously, over the shoulders of his colleague.
"Stop a bit, Mr. Chauncey," said Crosskeys, putting his
finger on a word, the better to keep his place. "Don't you be
in a hurry. Of course, sir, you had him took up?"
Frank's face was towards the door. He did not turn
round as he replied
"No; I did not."
"What!" thundered Crosskeys, letting his clenched fist fall
upon the table with a blow that might have felled an ox.
Frank turned partially round. He was in deep shadow, or
the deadly whiteness of his face must have startled them.
"You forget," he replied, in a tone of forced calmness "you
forget that the confession was made to me in strict confidence, and
with the understanding that I was to allow him to depart."
Crosskeys looked puzzled. Lewin scratched his head
dubiously. It was evident that neither of them was satisfied
with the explanation.
"And pray where may he be by this time?" asked Mr. Lewin,
breaking the silence that had followed Frank's words.
"I do not know," replied Frank, his face again turned towards
"And do you mean to say," exclaimed Crosskeys, giving a few
hasty strides in the same direction,—"do you mean to say that you
have let the villain escape?"
The villain! Again the word rang in
his ear with a strange, doleful sound. He had as much bravery
as any man; yet his heart beat with a convulsive movement analogous
to that of fear—fear lest his father should be taken. He might
have guessed, from the bitter, unrelenting persecution of Clara
Melrose, how it would fare with him who was really guilty.
He told Crosskeys that the confession would never have been
written down, except for the promise spoken of above. He had
acted as he thought best under the circumstances.
Mr. Crosskeys looked at Mr. Lewin, and Mr. Lewin nodded back
at Mr. Crosskeys. "Happen Mr. Chauncey is right, Crosskeys.
Yes, I think he may be right." But the words were spoken with
a great amount of doubt and hesitation.
Crosskeys stood perplexed and half-satisfied. "It seems
to me, Mr. Chauncey, as though you had let a good bit of time be
lost. Why did you not tell us sooner?"
Frank did not answer immediately. At length he said, in
a cold, constrained voice, "I have given you all the information in
my power. I beg you will not detain me any longer." And
he laid his hand on the latch of the door.
"Well, well," said Crosskeys, with the same half-satisfied
air, "you can go to-night, Mr. Chauncey: but happen you'll keep in
the way, sir. We shall want you to give evidence."
"It's like enough he'll be pulled up by this time to-morrow,"
asserted Nathaniel Lewin: "at any rate, we'll set about hunting him
Frank bowed again. Then he opened the door, without
uttering a word, and walked out of the house.
REGINALD CHAUNCEY'S SET.
"IF Chauncey does
not come back soon, I shall emigrate!"
"I wish you would do something, Sir Peter, it does not
much signify what," replied his aunt, testily.
Miss Barbara Silcox, aunt to Sir Peter Silcox, was getting
tired of hearing the complaints of her nephew on this head.
Sir Peter, being in the flower of his youth, and having a
large fortune and a brilliant circle of friends, ought, in the
nature of the case, to have been one of the happiest and most
contented men alive. The world, if it had wished to point out
a man born, as the old saying is, with a silver spoon in his mouth,
might have pointed out Sir Peter. Yet to look at him, as he
lounged about the room, his hands in his pockets, and his face drawn
up into wrinkles, you would not have been disposed to agree with the
world at all. You would have said that Sir Peter was a man to
be pitied. And so he was, in one respect. In himself he
had no resources whatever, and one is disposed to regard such an
individual with compassion.
Sir Peter depended for amusement on his associates.
When they were at hand, it was well with him. But if, from any
cause, they were absent, and he was compelled to do without them,
then came that chronic malady with which he was tortured—ennui.
"What is a fellow to do?" continued he, gazing ruefully out
of the window. It had rained for three consecutive days, and
rained then. "It's such a bore, Chauncey being gone!"
"I would advertise, if I were you," said Miss Barbara,
She was a lady not yet past the prime of life, but old enough
to wear false ringlets, and a tinge of rouge. She had been
handsome, and was certainly rich. People often wondered how it
was that Miss Barbara had remained single. Perhaps a solution
to this problem might have been found in the fact that Miss Barbara
had a quick temper and a sharp tongue.
"For my part," added Miss Barbara, angrily, "if I had known
that you intended to grumble all the time I was here, I would not
"I am very sorry," replied the young man, apologetically;
"but I am so lost without Chauncey. He knows how to help a
fellow kill time; and that's such a blessing!" added Sir Peter, with
Ah! Sir Peter, you had better step outside the
brilliant circle in which you live, and see what life is beyond
it—life made up of struggling, suffering, sorrowing! It may
be, you would then discover why this heavy commodity of time was
given you. It may be, you would learn a lesson of how to use
the precious gift—not remorselessly to kill it!
But he had never stepped beyond the circle; and he did not
Miss Barbara uttered a few words of expostulation, and then
took up her book; Sir Peter stood lounging at the window.
Presently, he uttered a deep groan.
Miss Barbara looked up again. "Why cannot you find
something to do?" asked she, in a tone of irritation.
"Don't be angry, aunt. It rains, and I'm by myself,"
angry said he, meekly. He was generally meek to his Aunt
"By yourself!"—and her eye sparkled with indignation―"by
yourself, when I am with you!"
"So you are, aunt, and I am sure I am much obliged to you;
but, you see—no disrespect whatever—but you are not Reginald
His aunt laughed. It was impossible to help laughing at
the young man's absurdity. But, happily, the woes of Sir Peter
Silcox were coming to an end.
The butler at this moment entered, and quietly made his way
to his master.
"If you please, Sir Peter, you're wanted."
"Wanted! eh! what?" cried the baronet, waking up at the
welcome sound; "who wants me?"
The butler was, all the time, handing a silver waiter to his
master, on which lay a card; a card edged with the most profound and
"He said he wished to see you in private," returned the
butler. But his master heard him not.
He was hurrying with an impetuosity scarcely to be credited,
towards the study.
The name upon the card was that of Reginald Chauncey.
Miss Barbara, roused from her book by her nephew's burst of
excitement, had vainly attempted to make out what was the matter.
Failing in doing so, she rose, and picked up the card which had
fallen on the floor.
"So," said she, scanning it narrowly, "Reginald has come at
last. I wonder what he is like?"
THE MOURNING SUIT.
"WELL, my dear
fellow, what in the world has happened to you?" cried Sir Peter,
shaking his friend cordially by the hand. "On my word, I
thought I should have to run away: there's no getting through one's
time without Reginald Chauncey!"
If the reader supposes that the magnificent Reginald
descended, at any time, to the manners of a sycophant, he is
mistaken. His way of receiving the young man's salutation was,
on the contrary, patronizing.
"I have been much engaged just lately," replied be,
withdrawing his white hand from Sir Peter's grasp, and arranging his
"Have you?—those blood-suckers, I suppose, eh?"
By this epithet, he designated the men with whom Mr. Twist
had lately effected a compromise, and to whom the fascinating
Reginald was about to pay half-a-crown in the pound.
"I was not thinking of that," replied Mr. Chauncey.
"Nor is it particularly pleasant to be reminded of it, Sir Peter."
"I am sure I beg your pardon! I did not mean to hurt
your feelings," said the young man, hastily, and in a tone of
Reginald Chauncey waved his hand in token of forgiveness.
Next he took out his cambric handkerchief. He had seated
himself in the easy-chair, as though he had a right to the best
accommodation the place afforded.
Sir Peter was balancing himself on a high stool just
opposite. He was unfeignedly delighted to see his friend
"I hope you are quite well, Chauncey," said he, unable, at
the moment, to light upon any other mode of express in his joy.
"Quite well in health, Sir Peter; in mind――"
He paused, and Sir Peter looked down. He thought Mr.
Chauncey's feelings were still pained by the unfortunate allusion to
"I am sure if I could have done anything," he began; but the
unusual solemnity of Reginald's look stopped him. Indeed, when
the handkerchief was raised to the eyes of his friend, the young man
was struck with astonishment.
"Good gracious, Chauncey! what is the matter?"
Reginald did not immediately reply. Off the stage,
there could not have been witnessed a more consummate piece of
When he had applied the handkerchief to eyes that, on this
score at least, had never known a tear, he said, "I have had a most
"Good gracious, Chauncey!" again exclaimed the young baronet,
who had no great choice of language, "what is the matter?"
Again the white handkerchief fluttered gracefully before Sir
Peter, and, looking down, his handsome face expressive of profound
disconsolateness, Reginald Chauncey whispered, "I have lost my
"Oh! is that――"
"All," he was about to say, for we know in what esteem
Reginald Chauncey's wife had been held by her husband's set.
But Reginald's well-sustained grief caused him, in haste, to
substitute another form of speech.
"I am very sorry to hear it."
Reginald smiled mournfully. It was the smile of a man
who, though suffering, is resigned.
Sir Peter, astonished, and not a little bewildered, sat
gazing at his friend. At length, as if he felt himself
expected to say something, he jerked out, "Very sudden, Chauncey,
Reginald withdrew the handkerchief, and, holding it ready for
immediate use, replied that his late lamented partner had been for
some time, in a declining state of health—a circumstance which had
caused him the deepest uneasiness.
Sir Peter, oppressed by the solemnity of the occasion, and
the unexpected appeal to his sympathies, stared more blankly still.
It was a new light, this, in which the despised wife of Reginald
Chauncey was being held up to view.
"I can never sufficiently estimate the excellent qualities of
my dear partner," continued Reginald, "or too much regret the
circumstances that compelled me to be absent from her on that trying
occasion. In fact, my bereavement has been of a most
distressing nature. Whether I shall ever――"
He paused—overcome by his emotion or not, Sir Peter could not
discover: the handkerchief prevented him. For a few minutes he
remained still gazing at his friend, and quite at a loss what to
say, or to do. At length he exclaimed, as if glad to find any
diversion from the subject, "I say, Chauncey, how is it you're not
Reginald's face relaxed, in spite of himself, into something
like a smile.
"There has not been time," said he, shaking his head; "I
regret to say it, my tailor has gone out of business."
"No! has he, though? What a pity!"
Reginald smiled mournfully. His smile seemed to say,
"What are these trifling ills to me?"
"What a pity!" continued Sir Peter, eagerly. "He was
such a capital fit. What shall you do?"
"I don't know. I have hardly thought."
The fact was, Reginald Chauncey's tailor, having been a
considerable loser by that magnificent gentleman's failure, had
declined the honour of his patronage for the future.
"I say, Chauncey!" exclaimed Sir Peter, anxious to divert his
friend's mind from the subject that seemed to engross it, "I wish
you would try my tailor: he's first-rate, you know!"
"Ah! Sir Peter, I begin to think of retiring――"
"Nonsense ! What can I do without you, pray?" asked Sir
"After all that has transpired――"
"Hold your tongue, I tell you! I say, now, will you go
to my tailor's?"
Reginald Chauncey's face was clearing up unmistakably.
"I am sure you are very kind――"
"Do then, there's a good fellow! I'll go with you
myself. It will be something for me to do, and what a blessing
that will be!" added the young man, with a sigh of relief.
Reginald thought it his duty to sigh too, and most
"And then you will come back to dinner, and I'll introduce
you to my aunt. She's tired of hearing me talk about you."
"I am afraid, Sir Peter, that in the state of――"
"And we'll be in town in an hour's time," said Sir Peter,
ringing the bell. "We'll drive."
Sir Peter was in what he called one of his little places,
within an easy run of the metropolis.
Reginald made no reply. He put aside his handkerchief,
and was solemnly preparing for his journey. His whole mien and
deportment was that of a man who has done with this world, and its
pumps and vanities, for ever.
A few evenings after, in a new suit of the most stylish
mourning, he was in the midst of his own set, in Sir Peter's
drawing-room, as handsome and as well got up as ever.
"Decidedly the most agreeable man I have ever met with!" said
MR. TWIST'S SUGGESTION.
"WELL, my good
friend and client, I am glad to see you amongst us again!"
The individual who spoke was Solomon Twist, and the client
was Reginald Chauncey, in his fine new suit of the deepest dye, his
hat covered with crape, and everything about him intended to show to
the world the disconsolate state into which the loss of his wife had
Solomon Twist regarded him with a peculiar twinkle in his
eye, and a slight play about the corners of the mouth. Yet he
stood in some awe of his client. Reginald Chauncey had the art
of commanding the submission, if not the respect, of others.
His face, as he sat in Mr. Twist's office, was not that of the gay
Reginald Chauncey, the life and soul of his set, without whom no one
could kill time fast enough. It was puckered up, and had lines
and marks that he seemed, on other occasions, to have the art of
smoothing away. In fact, he looked decidedly out of temper.
Mr. Twist was always cautious how he irritated his client;
but as the silence was getting tedious, he could not refrain from
"Well?" said he, interrogatively—as if he had said, "My time
is precious, and business must be attended to, Mr. Chauncey; the
sooner the better."
At the sound of the word, Reginald looked up.
"Well," repeated he, peevishly, "you know what I'm come
about;" and he took up the poker, and began to hammer at a lump of
coal that blocked up the front of the fire.
"Of course I do, Mr. Chauncey. Money matters, I
suppose," said the lawyer, briskly.
"Confound them!" muttered Reginald Chauncey, hammering
savagely at the coal.
"Nay, nay; it might have been a great deal worse. You
owe me something on that head, Mr. Chauncey. I have never
taken such trouble before—not for anybody; and, what's more, I never
"You can please yourself about that," replied Reginald,
"Come, come, my good friend, be civil," said Mr. Twist,
Reginald Chauncey did not vouchsafe any reply to this speech.
"Now, Mr. Chauncey," said the Jew lawyer, in the tone of a
man resolved to go into business details, whether or no, "I beg
pardon for the question—but really it is very important to know—how
are you intending to live?"
"I intend to leave England," replied Reginald, curtly.
"Oh, indeed! travel abroad? Well, I've no objection.
But—again excuse the question—how are you to get the means?"
"That matter must come under your consideration, Mr. Twist."
"Indeed, you labour under a mistake there, my friend,"
replied the lawyer, quickly; "a very great mistake! I cannot
advance you another shilling!"
Reginald started from his chair with an ejaculation we need
"Come, come; take it easy," said Mr. Twist, soothingly.
"A man of your brilliant accomplishments can never be at a loss.
There are several ways open to you."
"You had best name them," said Reginald, resuming his seat.
"One would think your old resources might serve you another
"If you mean betting, and so forth, I am tired of it.
It has been a losing game lately."
"Has it? Well, Fortune's wheel goes round. Try
Reginald shook his head.
"Mr. Twist," said he, "I am getting an old man. Yes, I
am"—for the lawyer held up his hands in a deprecatory manner.
"I don't mind saying it, between you and me. I want a snug
place abroad, and something comfortable to live on."
"Nothing more reasonable, I am sure. But, you see, your
bit of capital is sunk. It wouldn't have held out so long but
Reginald made a gesture of impatience.
"There are plenty of appointments to be had," suggested Mr.
Twist, delicately; "but you don't like work."
"Work! I should think not. I work!" cried
"Of course—of course! You naturally would not like to
do it. I didn't suppose you would. But still the point
in hand is the same. How are you to live?"
"Without money?" suggested Reginald Chauncey.
"Exactly. There is one other way open to you. I
should have mentioned it before, only I thought"—and he glanced at
the full suit of black with a half smile.
"You thought what? I wish you would speak out!" cried
Reginald, who was in one of his worst humours.
"Well, then, why don't you marry again?"
"Marry again! Good gracious, Twist!" and Reginald
Chauncey, roused from his apathy, stared full at the Jew lawyer.
"Precisely. Marry a woman with money."
Reginald stared a few minutes longer; then his face relaxed
into a more pleasant expression than it had worn during the whole
"You are a clever man, a handsome man; a man for society.
Society adores you. Let it find you a wife."
"Really, Mr. Twist."
"I am sure of it," exclaimed the Jewish practitioner, getting
more and more into the pith of the subject. "You have rich
women in your set. Why not do one of them the honour to make
her Mrs. Reginald Chauncey?"
"Stop, Twist, hush! you are going too far," said Reginald, in
an altered voice.
Hard, selfish, worldly as the man was, the name woke a
lingering echo of the past; of a careworn face and sunken eyes, of a
voice that never spoke to him but in accents of affection; of a
tender heart, faithful and true, that had not long since ceased to
beat! It was a transient emotion: had it lasted longer, it
might have softened his callous nature; but it faded like a morning
cloud, and then the man's nature asserted itself. He began to
console himself with the favourite dogma of his set. Had she
not, poor woman, been very inferior to him?—the last sort of person
he ought to have married! He would not make
reflections—it would be ungenerous and unkind. But she was
gone, and he was mourning for her, in the best and newest mourning
There was something in Twist's suggestion. He was in
desperate straits, and he could not be expected to remain a widower