Puslapio vaizdai

duced to set his hand to bills of exchange for them. His rent was also behind, and, in fact, his affairs were in a desperate condition.

He hid it as long as he could from them all; but at last, being served with a process for debt, and threatened with a distress and an execution, he called a family council and exposed the real state of things.

baited sore with hints, he turned round on them fiercely, and said: "Did I get you into this mess? It's all your own doing. Learn to see your own faults, and not be so hard on one that has been the best servant you ever had, gentleman or not."

Men can resist the remonstrances that wound them, and so irritate them, better than they can those gentle ap

Mrs. Vint rated him soundly for keep- peals that rouse no anger, but soften ing all this secret so long.

He whom they called Thomas Leicester remonstrated with him. "Had you told me in time," said he, "I had not paid forfeit for 'The Vine,' but settled there, and given you a home."

Mercy said never a word but "Poor father!"

As the peril drew nearer, the conversations became more animated and agitated, and soon the old people took to complaining of Thomas Leicester to his wife.

"Thou hast married a gentleman; and he hath not the heart to lift a hand to save thy folk from ruin."

"Say not so," pleaded Mercy: "to be sure he hath the heart, but not the means. 'Twas but yestreen he bade me sell his jewels for you. But, mother, I think they belonged to some one he loved, and she died. So, poor thing, how could I? Then, if you love me, blame me, and not him."

"Jewels, quotha! will they stop such a gap as ours?" was the contemptuous reply.

From complaining of him behind his back, the old people soon came to launching innuendoes obliquely at him. Here is one specimen out of a dozen.

"Wife, if our Mercy had wedded one of her own sort, mayhap he 'd have helped us a bit."

"Ay, poor soul; and she so near her time if the bailiffs come down on us next month, 't is my belief we shall lose her, as well as house and home."

The false Thomas Leicester let them run on, in dogged silence; but every word was a stab.

And one day, when he had been
VOL. XVIII. - NO. 105.


the whole heart. The old people stung him; but Mercy, without design, took a surer way. She never said a word; but sometimes, when the discussions were at their height, she turned her dove-like eyes on him, with a look so loving, so humbly inquiring, so timidly imploring, that his heart melted within him.

Ah, that is a true touch of nature and genuine observation of the sexes, in the old song,

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"My feyther urged me sair;
My mither didna speak;
But she looked me in the face,

Till my hairt was like to break."

These silent, womanly, imploring looks of patient Mercy were mightier than argument or invective.

The man knew all along where to get money, and how to get it. He had only to go to Hernshaw Castle. But his very soul shuddered at the idea. However, for Mercy's sake, he took the first step; he compelled himself to look the thing in the face, and discuss it with himself. A few months ago he could not have done even this,

- he loved his lawful wife too much; hated her too much. But now, Mercy and Time had blunted both those passions; and he could ask himself whether he could not encounter Kate and her priest without any very violent emotion.

When they first set up house to-gether, he had spent his whole fortune; a sum of two thousand pounds, on repairing and embellishing Hernshaw Castle and grounds. Since she had driven him out of the house, he had a clear right to have back the money; and he now resolved he would have it ;;;

but what he wanted was to get it without going to the place in person.

And now Mercy's figure, as well as her imploring looks, moved him greatly. She was in that condition which appeals to a man's humanity and masculine pity, as well as to his affection. To use the homely words of Scripture, she was great with child, and in that condition moved slowly about him, filling his pipe, and laying his slippers, and ministering to all his little comforts; she would make no difference: and when he saw the poor dove move about him so heavily, and rather languidly, yet so zealously and tenderly, the man's very bowels yearned over her, and he felt as if he could die to do her a service.

So, one day, when she was standing by him, bending over his little round table, and filling his pipe with her neat hand, he took her by the other hand and drew her gently on his knee, her burden and all. "Child!" said he, "do not thou fret. I know how to get money; and I'll do 't, for thy sake."

"I know that," said she, softly; "can I not read thy face by this time?" and so laid her cheek to his. "But, Thomas, for my sake, get it honestly, or not at all," said she, still filling his pipe, with her cheek to his.

"I'll but take back my own," said he; "fear naught."

But, after thus positively pledging himself to Mercy, he became thoughtful and rather fretful; for he was still most averse to go to Hernshaw, and yet could hit upon no other way; since to employ an agent would be to let out that he had committed bigamy, and so risk his own neck, and break Mercy's heart.

After all his scale was turned by his foible.

Mrs. Vint had been weak enough to confide her trouble to a friend: it was all over the parish in three days.

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by. I'd have pulled you out of the mire, and welcome."

"Would you, though, Paul?" said Harry Vint; "then, by G-, I wish I had."

Now Carrick bawled that out, and Griffith, who was at the door, heard it. He walked into the kitchen, ghastly pale, and spoke to Harry Vint first.

"I take your inn, your farm, and your debts on me," said he; "not one without t' other."

"Spoke like a man!" cried the landlord, joyfully; "and so be it - before these witnesses."

Griffith turned on Carrick: "This house is mine. Get out on 't, ye jealous, mischief-making cur." And he took him by the collar and dragged him furiously out of the place, and sent him whirling into the middle of the road; then ran back for his hat and flung it out after him.

This done, he sat down boiling, and his eyes roved fiercely round the room in search of some other antagonist. But his strength was so great, and his face so altered with this sudden spasm of reviving jealousy, that nobody cared to provoke him further.

After a while, however, Harry Vint muttered dryly, "There goes one good customer."

Griffith took him up sternly: "If your debts are to be mine, your trađe shall be mine too, that you had not the head to conduct."

"So be it, son-in-law," said the old man; "only you go so fast: you do take possession afore you pays the fee."

Griffith winced. "That shall be the last of your taunts, old man." He turned to the ostler: "Bill, give Black Dick his oats at sunrise; and in ten days at furthest I'll pay every shilling this house and farm do owe. Now, Master White, you'll put in hand a new sign-board for this inn; a fresh 'Packhorse,' and paint him jet black, with one white hoof (instead of chocolate), in honor of my nag Dick; and in place of Harry Vint you 'll put in Thomas Leicester. See that is done

against I come back, or come you here

no more."

Soon after this scene he retired to tell Mercy; and, on his departure, the suppressed tongues went like millclacks.

Dick came round saddled at peep of day; but Mercy had been up more than an hour, and prepared her man's breakfast. She clung to him at parting, and cried a little; and whispered something in his ear, for nobody else to hear it was an entreaty that he would not be long gone, lest he should be far from her in the hour of her peril.

Thereupon he promised her, and kissed her tenderly, and bade her be of good heart; and so rode away northwards with dogged resolution.

As soon as he was gone, Mercy's tears flowed without restraint.

Her father set himself to console her. "Thy good man," he said, "is but gone back to the high road for a night or two, to follow his trade of 'stand and deliver.' Fear naught, child; his pistols are well primed: I saw to that myself; and his horse is the fleetest in the county. You'll have him back in three days, and money in both pockets. I warrant you his is a better trade than mine; and he is a fool to change it."

Griffith was two days upon the road, and all that time he was turning over and discussing in his mind how he should conduct the disagreeable but necessary business he had undertaken.

He determined, at last, to make the visit one of business only: no heat, no reproaches. That lovely, hateful woman might continue to dishonor his name, for he had himself abandoned it. He would not deign to receive any money that was hers; but his own two thousand pounds he would have; and two or three hundred on the spot by way of instalment. And, with these hard views, he drew near to Hernshaw; but the nearer, he got, the slower he went; for what at a distance had seemed tolerably easy began to get more and more difficult and repulsive.

Moreover, his heart, which he thought he had steeled, began now to flutter a little, and somehow to shudder at the approaching interview.


CAROLINE RYDER went to the gate of the Grove, and stayed there two hours; but, of course, no Griffith came.

She returned the next night, and the next; and then she gave it up, and awaited an explanation. None came, and she was bitterly disappointed, and indignant.

She began to hate Griffith, and to conceive a certain respect, and even a tepid friendship, for the other woman he had insulted.

Another clew to this change of feeling is to be found in a word she let drop in talking to another servant. "My mistress," said she, "bears it like a man."

In fact, Mrs. Gaunt's conduct at this period was truly noble.

She suffered months of torture, months of grief; but the high-spirited creature hid it from the world, and maintained a sad but high composure.

She wore her black, for she said, "How do I know he is alive?" She retrenched her establishment, reduced her expenses two thirds, and busied herself in works of charity and religion.

Her desolate condition attracted a gentleman who had once loved her, and now esteemed and pitied her profoundly, - Sir George Neville.

He was still unmarried, and she was the cause; so far at least as this: she had put him out of conceit with the other ladies at that period when he had serious thoughts of marriage and the inclination to marry at all had not since returned.

If the Gaunts had settled at Boulton, Sir George would have been their near neighbor; but Neville's Court was nine miles from Hernshaw Castle and when they met, which was not very often, Mrs. Gaunt was on her guard to give Griffith no shadow of uneasiness.

She was therefore rather more dignified and distant with Sir George than her own inclination and his merits would

have prompted; for he was a superior and very agreeable man.

When it became quite certain that her husband had left her, Sir George rode up to Hernshaw Castle, and called upon her.

She begged to be excused from seeing him.

Now Sir George was universally courted, and this rather nettled him; however, he soon learned that she received nobody except a few religious friends of her own sex.

Sir George then wrote her a letter that did him credit: it was full of worthy sentiment and good sense. For instance, he said he desired to intrude his friendly offices and his sympathy upon her, but nothing more. Time had cured him of those warmer feelings which had once ruffled his peace; but Time could not efface his tender esteem for the lady he had loved in his youth, nor his profound respect for her character.

Mrs. Gaunt wept over his gentle letter, and was on the verge of asking herself why she had chosen Griffith instead of this chevalier. She sent him a sweet, yet prudent reply; she did not encourage him to visit her; but said, that, if ever she should bring herself to receive visits from the gentlemen of the county during her husband's absence, he should be the first to know it. She signed herself his unhappy, but deeply grateful, servant and friend.

One day, as she came out of a poor woman's cottage, with a little basket on her arm, which she had emptied in the cottage, she met Sir George Neville full.

He took his hat off, and made her a profound bow. He was then about to ride on, but altered his mind, and dismounted to speak to her.

The interview was constrained at first; but erelong he ventured to tell her she really ought to consult with some old friend and practical man like himself. He would undertake to scour

the country, and find her husband, if he was above ground.

"Me go a-hunting the man," cried she, turning red; "not if he was my king as well as my husband. He knows where to find me; and that is enough."

"Well, but madam, would you not like to learn where he is, and what he is doing?"

"Why, yes, my good, kind friend, I should like to know that." And, having pronounced these words with apparent calmness, she burst out crying, and almost ran away from him.

Sir George looked sadly after her, and formed a worthy resolution. He saw there was but one road to her regard. He resolved to hunt her husband for her, without intruding on her, or giving her a voice in the matter. Sir George was a magistrate, and accustomed to organize inquiries; spite of the length of time that had elapsed, he traced Griffith for a considerable distance. Pending further inquiries, he sent Mrs. Gaunt word that the truant had not made for the sea, but had gone due south.

Mrs. Gaunt returned him her warm thanks for this scrap of information. So long as Griffith remained in the island there was always a hope he might return to her. The money he had taken would soon be exhausted; and poverty might drive him to her; and she was so far humbled by grief, that she could welcome him even on those


Affliction tempers the proud. Mrs. Gaunt was deeply injured as well as insulted; but, for all that, in her many days and weeks of solitude and sorrow, she took herself to task, and saw her fault. She became more gentle, more considerate of her, servants' feelings, more womanly.

For many months she could not enter "the Grove." The spirited woman's very flesh revolted at the sight of the place where she had been insulted and abandoned. But, as she went deeper in religion, she forced herself to go to the gate and look in, and say out loud, "I gave the first





Griffith Gaunt; or, Fealousy.

offence," and then she would go in-doors again, quivering with the internal conflict.

Finally, being a Catholic, and therefore attaching more value to self-torture than we do, the poor soul made this very grove her place of penance. Once a week she had the fortitude to drag herself to the very spot where Griffith had denounced her; and there she would kneel and pray for him and for herself. And certainly, if humility and self-abasement were qualities of the body, here was to be seen their picture; for her way was to set her crucifix up at the foot of a tree; then to bow herself all down, between kneeling and lying, and put her lips meekly to the foot of the crucifix, and so pray long and earnestly.

Now, one day, while she was thus crouching in prayer, a gentleman, booted and spurred and splashed, drew near, with hesitating steps. She was so absorbed, she did not hear those steps at all till they were very near; but then she trembled all over; for her delicate ear recognized a manly tread she had not heard for many a day. She dared not move nor look, for she thought it was a mere sound, sent to her by Heaven to comfort her.

But the next moment a well-known mellow voice came like a thunder-clap, it shook her so.

His voice was low; his face, though pale and grim, had not the terrible aspect he wore at parting.

So she thought he had come back in an amicable spirit; and she flew to him, with a cry of love, and threw her arm round his neck, and panted on his shoulder.

At this reception, and the tremulous contact of one he had loved so dearly, a strange shudder ran through his frame, -a shudder that marked his present repugnance, yet indicated her latent power.

He himself felt he had betrayed some weakness; and it was all the worse for her. He caught her wrist and put her from him, not roughly, but with a look of horror. "The day is gone by for that, madam," he gasped. Then, sternly: "Think you I came here to play the credulous husband?”

Mrs. Gaunt drew back in her turn, and faltered out, "What! come back here, and not sorry for what you have done? not the least sorry? O my heart! you have almost broken it."

"Prithee, no more of this," said Griffith, sternly. "You and I are naught to one another now, and forever. But there, you are but a woman, and I did not come to quarrel with you." And he fixed his eyes on the ground.

"Thank God for that," faltered Mrs. Gaunt. "O sir, the sight of you

"Forgive me, my good dame, but the thought of what you were to me

I desire to know

The question went no further, for Kate Gaunt sprang to her feet, with a loud scream, and stood glaring at Griffith Gaunt, and he at her.

And thus husband and wife met again, met, by some strange caprice of Destiny, on the very spot where they had parted so horribly.


THE gaze these two persons bent on one another may be half imagined: it can never be described.

once — till jealousy blinded you. Lend me your arm, if you are a man; my limbs do fail me."

The shock had been too much; a pallor overspread her lovely features, her knees knocked together, and she was tottering like some tender tree cut down, when Griffith, who, with all his faults, was a man, put out his strong arm, and she clung to it, quivering all over, and weeping hysterically.

That little hand, with its little feminine clutch, trembling on his arm, raised a certain male compassion for her piteous condition; and he bestowed a few cold, sad words of encouragement on

Griffith spoke first. "In black!" her. "Come, come," said he, gently; said he, in a whisper.

"I shall not trouble you long. I'm

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