The Project Gutenberg EBook of Roger Kyffin's Ward, by W.H.G. Kingston

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Title: Roger Kyffin's Ward

Author: W.H.G. Kingston

Release Date: September 6, 2012 [EBook #40690]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

WHG Kingston

"Roger Kyffin's Ward"

Chapter One.

A Panic in the City.

London was in commotion. On a certain afternoon in the early part of the year 1797, vast numbers of persons of all ranks of society, wealthy merchants, sober shopkeepers, eager barristers, country squires, men of pleasure, dandies, and beaus, and many others of even more doubtful position, might have been seen hurrying up through lanes and alleys towards the chief centre of British commerce—the Bank of England, that mighty heart, in and out of which the golden stream flows to and fro along its numberless arteries. Numerous carriages, also, some with coronets on their panels, and powdered footmen behind, rolled up from Cheapside. Among their occupants were ministers of state, foreign ambassadors, earls and barons of the realm, members of parliament, wealthy country gentlemen, and other persons of distinction. While in not a few were widows and spinster ladies, dowager duchesses and maids of honour, and other dames with money in the funds. On the countenances of the larger portion of the moving throng might be traced a word of uncomfortable import—“Panic.”

It was an eventful period. Seldom during that or the present century have English patriots had greater cause for anxiety. Never, certainly, from the day of the explosion of the South Sea Bubble up to that period, had the mercantile atmosphere been more agitated. The larger portion of the motley crowd turned on one side to the Bank of England, where the ladies, descending from their carriages, pressed eagerly forward amidst the people on foot, one behind the other, to reach the counters. Another portion entered the Royal Exchange, while a considerable number of the carriages proceeded along Cornhill.

The appearance of the surrounding edifices was, however, different from that of the present day. The old Mansion House was there, and the new Bank of England had been erected, but all else has been altered. The then existing Royal Exchange was greatly inferior to the fine structure at present to be seen between the Mansion House and the Bank. It stood in a confined space, surrounded by tall blocks of buildings, dark and dingy, though not altogether unpicturesque. Whatever were its defects, it served its purpose, and would have been serving it still, probably, had it not been burnt down.

Numerous excited groups of men now filled the greater part of the interior area; some were bending eagerly forward, either more forcibly to express an opinion, or to hear what was said by the speaker on the opposite side of the circle. Others were whispering into their neighbours’ ears, with hands lifted up, listening attentively to the remarks bestowed upon them, while others were hurrying to and fro gathering the opinion of their acquaintances, and then quickly again putting it forth as their own, or hastening away to act on the information they had received.

“Terrible news! The country will be ruined to a certainty! The French will be here within a week! Fearful disaster! The fleet has mutinied! The army will follow their example! Ireland is in open rebellion! The bank is drained of specie! Failures in every direction! The funds at fifty-seven!”

Such were some of the remarks flying about, and which formed the subject matter of the addresses delivered by the various speakers. Many persons then collected were sober-minded citizens, merchants of good repute, trading with the West Indian Sugar Islands, Africa, the Colonies of North America, or the Baltic, East India directors, or others, whose transactions compelled them to assemble, for the negotiation of their bills on ’change.

A considerable number, however, of those who came into the city from the West End did not stop at the Exchange, but continued their course a short distance farther, along Cornhill, where turning on one side they found themselves in the precincts of Change Alley. An old writer describes that region: “The limits are easily surrounded in a minute and a half. Step out of Jonathan’s into the alley, turn your face due east, move on a few paces to Garraway’s. From thence go out at the other door, and go on still east, into Birchin Lane, and then halting at the Sword-blade bank, and facing the north, you will enter Cornhill, and visit two or three petty provinces there to the west, and thus having boxed your compass, and sailed round the stock-jobbing globe, you turn into Jonathan’s again.”

In Jonathan’s well-known coffee-house, and in its immediate neighbourhood, was assembled a large number of persons, varying in rank and appearance far more than those who were inside the Exchange. To this point the coroneted carriages had been directing their course. The occupants of some had got out and entered the coffee-house. Others remained with their brokers at the door, eager to gain certain intelligence, which was to raise or depress the market. Here too were to be seen persons in Eastern costume, and others in English dress, both however with the unmistakable features of the Jew. There were courtiers and gentlemen from the fashionable parts of the metropolis, in silk stockings and diamond-buckled shoes, with powdered wigs, frilled shirts, and swords by their sides, or quakers in broad-brimmed hats and garments of sombre hue, such as were worn by our puritan ancestors of the previous century. Here too were portly citizens with gold-headed canes and well-brushed beavers, their countenances anxious, but honest and straightforward, though many other persons were there, some in shabby-genteel costume, others in threadbare and almost ragged coats, and again, many whose sharp eager eyes and pale features showed that they had been long accustomed to the transactions of the place. The two great parties in the State might in most cases have been distinguished by the difference of their costume. The Tories, the supporters of the war, determined foes of the men then in power in France, generally retained the gay and handsome costume of their fathers, while the Whigs and Jacobinical party affected a republican simplicity, and dressed in straight-cut coats and low-crowned hats, which had been introduced in France.

We shall have to return to Jonathan’s by-and-bye, and will in the meantime go back to the Royal Exchange. Among those who were making their way towards it from the lanes which led up from the banks of the river was a person not unworthy of notice. He was a man past the meridian of life, of tall and commanding figure. The leather-like skin of his colourless face, though free from spot or blemish, was slightly wrinkled, and his somewhat massive features wore a calm and unmoved expression, which might have surprised those who could have defined the feelings agitating his bosom. No wonder that his mind was troubled. Those were anxious times for men engaged even in very limited transactions. Stephen Coppinger’s were extensive and complex. There was scarcely a pie baked in those days in which he had not a finger. He walked at a dignified pace, with a smile on his lips, and his bright eyes calm, though watchful. His dark-coloured suit of fine cloth with brass buttons was carefully brushed, a small quantity of powder only shaken on his hair, which was fastened behind in a long queue, resting on his collar. The folds of his white neck-cloth, and the frill of fine lace which appeared beneath his waistcoat, were scrupulously clean and well arranged. Silk stockings with knee breeches, and shoes with steel buttons, encased his legs and feet. In his hand he carried a thick gold-headed walking-stick, though scarcely requiring it to support his steps, while a plain cocked hat, and a spencer, for the weather was cold, completed his costume. His step was firm, his head erect, as he walked along with a dignified air, bowing to one acquaintance, nodding to another, and returning with condescension the salutations of his inferiors. He observed many other persons proceeding in the same direction, several of whom he knew, the countenances of not a few wearing that expression of anxiety which he took care his own should not exhibit. Several of them did not notice him, as, lost in thought, with their heads cast down, they picked their way over the uneven pavement.

Stephen Coppinger had scarcely reached his accustomed “walk” in the Exchange, when his acquaintance, Alderman Bycroft, bustled up to him.

“Well, friend Coppinger, you look as calm as if nothing had happened!” exclaimed the alderman; “have you not heard the news?”

“Which news?” asked the merchant in a quiet voice, without the slightest change of countenance; “so many reports are flying about that I believe none of them.”

“You could not have heard the news, or you would not look so abominably unconcerned,” exclaimed the alderman, who was a somewhat fussy excitable gentleman. “Why, the news is positively fearful! A mutiny has broken out on board the channel fleet at Spithead! They have murdered Lord Bridport and most of their officers, and threatened, if they have not everything their own way, to carry the ships over to the French. The enemy’s fleets are mustering in great force, and may be across the Channel, for what we can tell, at this moment. The Irish are in rebellion, and are certain to join them and cut all our throats.”

“Terrible, if true,” answered Mr Coppinger, with a smile, which he could afford to bestow on his excitable friend; “but I think, my dear alderman, I can correct you. The crews of the Channel fleet have undoubtedly refused to proceed to sea unless their very reasonable demands are agreed to, and I know for certain that they have treated the admiral and their officers with every respect. They will, I have no fear, therefore, when their petition is granted, return to their duty. If the French come we will give them a warm reception. In the meantime, however, I acknowledge we are likely to suffer by having our merchantmen exposed to the depredations of the enemy’s ships, and this is about the worst danger I apprehend.”

“You take things too calmly, my friend!” exclaimed the alderman. “Suppose the fleet refuses to obey orders, what are we to do? There’s the question. I am of opinion that we should call out the train-bands, the volunteers, and the militia, and man every vessel in the Thames, and sail down and capture the mutineers.”

“I suspect, my friend, that your proposed flotilla would very soon be sent to the right-about, if not to the bottom. It would be wiser to inquire into the complaints of the seamen, and to redress their grievances. Their pay was small enough at first during Charles the Second’s reign, and since then all necessary articles of subsistence have advanced fully fifty per cent, and all the men require is, that their wages may be proportionably increased. They ask also that the naval pensions may be augmented, as have those of Chelsea, to 13 pounds a year. The Greenwich pensions still remain at 7 pounds. They also beg that while in harbour they may have more liberty to go on shore, and that when seamen are wounded they may receive their pay till cured or discharged. Their other requests are really as moderate, and though I, for one, would never countenance mutiny, from my heart I believe that their demands are just.”

“Can’t see that,” answered the alderman. “In my opinion the country is going to rack and ruin. What are we to do without gold? Then we are to have more loans. We have already lent Prussia, Sardinia, and the Emperor of Austria some seven or eight millions, and are now going to make a further loan to Portugal, and for all I know to the contrary we shall soon be subsidising all the rest of Europe.”

“If this war with France is to continue, I, for my part, shall be glad if we have so many friends on our side,” observed Mr Coppinger, whose great object at the moment was to tranquillise the minds of his City friends. “We are not likely to pay money away without getting something for it.”

“Not so sure of that,” replied the alderman; “John Bull is apt to throw his cash away with his eyes shut, and that is what we have been doing for some time past. Had Lord Malmesbury been successful in his negotiation for peace, things might have been different, but what can be worse with consols down to fifty-seven, a fearful run on the Bank of England, and now a suspension of payment in specie altogether, with this dangerous mutiny of the fleet as a climax! Then look at Ireland—half the country in a state of rebellion; the people shrieking out for the assistance of the French, and cutting each other’s throats in the meantime. Then these Jacobin clubs in London and throughout all our large towns, doing their utmost to bring about a republic in England. If they could imitate the French and cut off our king’s head, they would do it. And as to the army, I am not certain that we can put confidence in it. Ah! my dear sir, the sun of England’s glory has set; that is my opinion. I may be wrong—I hope so—but that is my opinion.”

“You take too gloomy a view of the state of affairs, alderman,” said Mr Coppinger. “Things are very bad, I’ll own, but they may improve. Lord Duncan’s late victory should give us confidence. The fate of the French who landed in Pembrokeshire the other day, shows that even though our enemies may set foot on our shores, they may not gain much by their impudence. No fear about our army, that is staunch, and the navy will soon return to its duty, and then Old England will be well able to hold her own against all her enemies.”

Stephen Coppinger was anxious to get rid of the alderman without rudeness, and that worthy finding he could not frighten his friend, soon bustled off to communicate his alarm to some more excitable listener.

The merchant, however, was very far from feeling the tranquillity he exhibited. He well knew the desperate state of affairs, but at the same time it was important that the public mind should be tranquillised. He had also several bills to negotiate and other business to transact, which required his own mind to be peculiarly calm and collected. Many other persons addressed him, most of them as agitated as Alderman Bycroft. He had to get rid of them one after the other, and having despatched his own business, maintaining his usual composed manner, he quitted the Exchange.

He proceeded along Cornhill to the narrow passage which led into Change Alley, and with deliberate steps entered Jonathan’s. Every room in that once celebrated coffee-house was full. Some persons were transacting private business in the smaller rooms, while in the larger, stood eager groups of brokers and dealers, with their books in their hands, noting the various transactions in which they were engaged.

The news flying about had caused the funds to fall yet lower than on the previous day, and brokers were hurrying to and fro, receiving orders from their various constituents, some to buy, others to sell forthwith. Stephen Coppinger gave certain directions to his broker in a subdued tone. It was even with greater difficulty than in the morning that he could command his voice, then bowing to his acquaintance as he passed, he took his way back to Idol Lane.

He preserved his calm and dignified air, during his walk to his counting-house. Passing through the public office to his private room, he closed the door, and throwing himself back into his arm-chair, pressed his hands on his brow for some minutes, lost in thought. At length turning round towards his large black writing-table, and referring to some letters and other papers, he seized a pen which he mechanically mended, almost in so doing cutting through his thumb nail, and made some rapid calculations. They were not apparently satisfactory. He rang sharply a hand-bell by his side. Scarcely had the silvery sounds died away when the heavy door of the oak-panelled room slowly opened, and a clerk, with a ponderous volume under his arm, entered. He was dressed as became the managing clerk of a large establishment, with great neatness and precision, his hair being carefully powdered, though his side curls were somewhat smaller than those of his employer. His complexion was clear, with a good colour on his cheeks, which betokened sound health, while his countenance wore a peculiarly calm expression, calculated to gain the confidence of those with whom he had dealings. Roger Kyffin was highly esteemed by his principal as well as by all his subordinates. His word was, in truth, as good as Stephen Coppinger’s bond. What Roger Kyffin said Stephen Coppinger would do, was done. On the day and hour Roger Kyffin promised that cash should be paid, it was paid without fail. Stephen Coppinger had no partner. He scorned to throw responsibility on an unknown company, while, with only one exception, to no other breast than his own would he confide the secrets of his transactions. That exception was the breast of Roger Kyffin. Roger Kyffin placed the open folio before his principal, and produced a paper with the remarks he had made respecting certain entries.

“Bad!” observed Stephen Coppinger, as he ran his eye over the book and paper; “but see, these letters bring worse news. The ‘Belmont Castle’ has been taken by the enemy. The ‘Tiger’ has foundered during a hurricane in the West Indies. Jecks Tarbett and Simmons have failed; their debt is a large one. Hunter and Dove’s affairs are in an unsatisfactory condition. I don’t like Joseph Hudson’s proceedings in Change Alley; he yesterday begged that I would renew his bill. In truth, Roger Kyffin, unless matters improve...” A groan escaped from Stephen Coppinger’s bosom.

“The amount you require must be raised,” observed Roger Kyffin, taking half a turn across the room. “Leave that to me. You have so often aided friends in need, that I anticipate no difficulty in obtaining help.”

“It will be from no want of exertion on your part if you fail,” said Stephen Coppinger, brightening up slightly.

“Keep up your spirits, sir,” said Roger Kyffin. “The credit of your firm will not suffer, depend on that. I will now set out and see what can be done. I hope to bring satisfactory intelligence before evening.”

Saying this, Roger Kyffin left the room, carefully closing the door behind him. While putting on his spencer and hat, he intimated to his principal subordinate, Mr Silas Sleech, that he should probably be absent for some hours. Mr Sleech glanced after him with a pair of meaningless eyes, set in an immovable countenance, and saying, “Oh, very well,” went on with his work.

More respecting Mr Silas Sleech and his doings may possibly be mentioned.

Chapter Two.

In which Several Personages are Introduced.

Roger Kyffin took his way westward. As soon as he had got out of the crowded thoroughfares, he called a coach, for in those days walking in London was a more fatiguing operation than at present. The progress of the vehicle, however, in which he took his seat was not very rapid. It was a large and lumbering affair, drawn by a pair of broken-down hacks, the asthmatic cough of one keeping in countenance the shattered knees of the other. At length he reached the door of a substantial mansion in the middle of Clifford Street. The bell was answered by a servant in sober livery.

“Is Mr Thornborough at home?” he asked, at the same time presenting a card with his name in a bold hand written on it. The servant was absent but a short time, when he returned, saying that his master would be glad to see Mr Roger Kyffin. The visitor was shown into a handsome parlour, where, seated before a fire with his buckled shoes on a footstool, was a venerable-looking gentleman, with his silvery locks slightly powdered hanging down over his shoulders. A richly-embroidered waistcoat, a plum-coloured coat with mother-of-pearl buttons, knee breeches, and black silk stockings with clocks, completed his costume. By his side sat a lady dressed in rich garments, though of somewhat sombre hue.

The white curls which appeared under her high cap showed that she was advanced in life, and the pleasant smile on her comely features betokened a kind and genial disposition. She rose from her seat, and kindly welcomed Roger Kyffin, directing the servant to place a chair for him before the fire. The old gentleman shook his hand, but pleaded age as an excuse for not rising.

“You have given us but little of your company for many a day, Mr Kyffin,” said the lady in a kind tone. “We thought you must have left London altogether.”

“No, Mrs Barbara, I have scarcely been beyond the sound of Bow Bells; but I must plead business as an excuse for my negligence. These are anxious times, and mercantile men must needs pay more than double attention to their affairs.”

“If they demand more time, undoubtedly we should give it; if not, we are robbing other matters of their due attention,” observed Mr Thornborough.

“I agree with you, sir,” answered Mr Kyffin; “I must confess, indeed, that a matter of business of great importance to a friend brought me to the west. I would ask you to allow me a few minutes that I may explain the matter to you clearly.”

“Speak on, friend, I keep no secrets from Barbara, and if she does not know all my affairs, it is through no wish on my part to hide them from her. My sister is a discreet woman, Mr Kyffin, and that’s more perhaps than can be said of all her sex.”

Mr Kyffin bowed his acquiescence in this opinion. He, then turning to the old gentleman, explained clearly the difficulties which surrounded his friend and principal, Mr Stephen Coppinger. Mr Thornborough uttered two or three exclamations as Roger Kyffin went on in his account.

“I thought that my friend Stephen had been a more prudent man,” he observed. “How could he enter into such a speculation? How could he trust such people as Hunter and Dove? Why, Roger Kyffin, you yourself should have been better informed about them. However, if we were only to undertake to assist the wise and prudent we might keep our money chests locked and our pockets buttoned up. Stephen Coppinger is an honest man, and has shown himself a kind and generous one, albeit he might not always have exhibited as much prudence, as was desirable. The amount you mention shall, however, be at his disposal. We must not let a breath of suspicion rest on his name. I have a regard for him, and his six fair daughters, and it would be cruel to allow the maidens to go out into the world without sufficient dowers or means of maintenance, whereas if Stephen Coppinger tides over the present crisis, he may leave them all well off.”

“That’s right, that’s right,” said Mrs Barbara, looking approvingly at her brother. “He gives good advice, and acts it, too, eh, Mr Kyffin? And now my brother has had his say I must have mine. What about the negro slave trade? We have not seen Mr Wilberforce nor any of his friends for several weeks, and my brother cannot help on the cause as he used to do.”

“It is a good cause, that will ultimately be successful,” answered Roger Kyffin; “but, my dear Mrs Barbara, like other good causes, we may have a long fight for it before we gain the day. Just now men’s minds are so engaged with our national affairs that the poor blacks are very little thought of.”

“Too true,” answered Mistress Barbara; “I wish, however, that Mr Wilberforce would call here. I want to tell him how delighted I am with his new book, which I got a few days ago—his ‘Practical View of Christianity.’ It will open the eyes, I hope, of some of the upper classes, to the hollow and unsatisfying nature of the forms to which they cling. I think, and my brother agrees with me, it’s one of the finest books on theology that has ever been written; that is to say, it is more likely to bring people to a knowledge of the truth than all the works of the greatest divines of the past and present age. Get the book and judge for yourself.”

Mr Kyffin promised to do so, and after some further conversation, he rose to take his departure. Mrs Barbara did not fail to press him to come again as soon as his occupations would allow.

“The money shall be ready for you before noon to-morrow,” said Mr Thornborough, shaking his hand. Roger Kyffin hastened back to Idol Lane. Mr Coppinger had not risen from his arm-chair since he quitted the house. The belief that his liabilities would be met without further difficulty, greatly relieved the merchant’s mind, and he thanked Roger Kyffin again and again for the important assistance afforded him.

“Say not a word about it,” answered the clerk; “if I have been useful to you, it was my duty. You found me in distress, and I shall never be able to repay the long-standing debt I owe you. Still I wish to place myself under a further obligation. I would rather have deferred speaking on the matter, but it will allow of no delay. I have to plead for a friend, ay, more than a friend—that unhappy young man—your nephew. You are mistaken as to his character. However appearances are against him. I am certain that Harry Tryon is not guilty of the crime imputed to him. Some day I shall be able to unravel the mystery. In the meantime I am ready to answer for his conduct, if you will reinstate him in the position which he so unwisely left. He has no natural love for business, I grant, but he is high-spirited and excessively sensitive, and I am therefore sure that he will not rest satisfied unless he is restored to his former position, and enabled to establish his innocence.”

“You press me hard, Kyffin,” answered Mr Coppinger. “Besides the fact that the lad is my great-nephew, although his grandmother and I have kept up very little intercourse for years, I have no prejudice against him, and I consider that I acted leniently in not sending after him, and compelling him to discover the authors of the fraud committed against my house. Even should he not be guilty, he must know who are guilty.”

“Granted, sir, and I speak it with all respect,” said Roger Kyffin, “but if he is innocent, and that he is I am ready to stake my existence, he would, had you examined him, have had an opportunity of vindicating himself. I know not now what has become of the lad, and I dread that he may be driven into some desperate course. I am, however, using every means to discover him, and I should be thankful if I could send him word that you are ready to look into his case.”

“No, no, Kyffin, I am resolved to wash my hands of the lad and his affairs, and I would advise you to do the same,” replied Mr Coppinger. “I find that he got into bad company, and was led into all sorts of extravagances, which of course would have made him try to supply himself with money. Had he been steady and industrious, I should have been less willing to believe him guilty.”

An expression of pain and sorrow passed over Roger Kyffin’s countenance when he heard these remarks.

“It is too true, I am afraid, that the lad was drawn into bad company, and I must confess that appearances are against him,” he answered. “I judge him, knowing his right principles, and, though in a certain sense, he wants firmness of character, I am sure that nothing would induce, him to commit the act of which he is suspected. I might tell you of many kind and generous things he has done. Since he has grown up he has shown himself to be a brave, high-minded young man.”

“I do not doubt his bravery or his generosity,” answered Mr Coppinger; “both are compatible with extravagance and dissipated conduct. But I am not prejudiced against the lad, and I would rather take your opinion of him than trust to my own. I would wish you, therefore, to follow your own course in this matter. If you think fit, get the lad up here. We will hear what he has to say for himself, and carefully go into his case. I wish that we had done so at first instead of letting him escape without further investigation.”

“Thank you, sir, thank you, Mr Coppinger; that is all I require,” exclaimed Roger Kyffin. “Where to find the lad, however, is the difficulty. He has gone through numerous adventures and dangers, and has been mercifully preserved. I had, indeed, given him up as lost, but I received a letter from him the other day, though, unfortunately, he neglected to date it. He spoke of others which he had written, but which I have not received. All I can hope now is that he will write again and let me know where he is to be found. Of one thing I am certain, that when he is found he will be well able to vindicate his character.”

Not till a late hour was the counting-house in Idol Lane closed that day. Further news of importance might arrive, and Stephen Coppinger was unwilling to risk not being present to receive it. A link boy was in waiting to light him to his handsome mansion in Broad Street. He had not yet retired, as was his custom later in the year, to his rural villa at Twickenham.

Clerks mostly lived in the city. Few, at that time, could enjoy a residence in the suburbs. Roger Kyffin, however, had a snug little abode of his own at Hampstead, from and to which he was accustomed to walk every day. In the winter season, however, when it was dark, several friends who lived in the same locality were in the habit of waiting for each other in order to afford mutual protection against footpads and highwaymen, to whose attacks single pedestrians were greatly exposed. At one time, indeed, they were accompanied by a regular guard of armed men, so audacious had become the banditti of London.

Roger Kyffin felt more than an ordinary interest in Mr Coppinger’s great-nephew—Harry Tryon—who has been spoken of. He loved him, in truth, as much as if he had been his own son.

When Roger Kyffin was a young man full of ardent aspirations, with no small amount of ambition, too, he became acquainted with a beautiful girl. He loved her, and the more he saw of her, the stronger grew his attachment. He had been trained for mercantile business, and had already attained a good situation in a counting-house. He had thus every reason to believe, that by perseverance and steadiness, he should be able to realise a competency. He hoped, indeed, to do more than this, and that wealth and honours such as others in his position had attained, he might be destined to enjoy. Fanny Ashton had, from the first, treated him as a friend. She could not help liking him. Indeed, possibly, had his modesty not prevented him at that time offering her his hand, she might have become his wife. At the same time, she probably had not asked herself the question as to how far her heart was his. She was all life and spirits, with capacity for enjoying existence. By degrees, as she mixed more and more with the gay world, her estimation of the humble clerk altered. She acknowledged his sterling qualities, but the fashionable and brilliant cavaliers she met in society were more according to her taste. An aunt, with whom she went to reside in London, mixed much in the world. Roger Kyffin, who had looked upon himself in the light of a permitted suitor, though not an accepted one, naturally called at her aunt’s house in the West End. His reception by Fanny was not as cordial as formerly. Her manner after this became colder and colder, till at last when he went to her aunt’s door he was no longer welcomed. Still his love for Fanny and his faith in her excellencies were not diminished.

“When she comes back to her quiet home she will be as she was before,” he thought to himself, and so, though somewhat sad and disappointed, he went on hoping that he might win her affection and become her husband.

At length Fanny Ashton returned home. Roger Kyffin, with the eye of love, observed a great change in her. She was no longer lively and animated as before. Her cheek was pale, and an anxious expression passed constantly over her countenance. She received him kindly, but with more formality than usual. Still Mr Kyffin ventured to speak to her. She appreciated his love and devotion, she said, and regretted she could not give her love in return.

Roger Kyffin did not further press his suit, yet went as frequently to the house as he could. Several times he had observed a gentleman in the neighbourhood. He was a fashionably-dressed, handsome man. There was something, however, in the expression of his countenance which Roger Kyffin did not like, for having seen him once, the second time they met he marked him narrowly. What brought him to that neighbourhood? One day as he was going towards Mrs Ashton’s house—Fanny’s mother was a widow, and she was her only child—he met the stranger coming out of the door. He would scarcely have been human had his jealousy not been aroused. He turned homeward, for he could not bring himself to call that day. The following evening, however, he went as usual, but great was his consternation to find that Fanny had gone to stay with her aunt. His worst fears were realised when, three weeks after this, he heard that Fanny Ashton had married Major Tryon. He could have borne his disappointment better if he could have thought that Fanny had married a man worthy of her.

To conquer his love he felt was impossible. His affection was true and loyal. He would now watch over her and be of service if he could. His inquiries as to the character of Major Tryon were thoroughly unsatisfactory. He was a gay man about town, well known on the turf, and a pretty constant frequenter of “hells” and gambling-houses. He was the son of an old general, Sir Harcourt Tryon, and so far of good family. Though a heartless and worthless roué, he seemed really to have fallen in love with Fanny Ashton, and having done his best to win her affections, he had at length resolved, as he called it, to “put his neck into the noose.” Roger Kyffin trembled for Fanny’s happiness, not without reason. Major Tryon had taken lodgings for her in London. Roger Kyffin discovered where he was residing. Unknown to her, he watched over her like a guardian angel, a fond father, or a devoted brother. In a short time her husband took her to the neighbourhood of Lynderton, in Hampshire, where Sir Harcourt and Lady Tryon resided, in the hopes, probably, that they would take notice of her. He engaged a small cottage with a pretty little garden in front of it, from which a view of the Solent and the Isle of Wight was obtained. Lady Tryon, however, and she ruled her husband, had greatly disapproved of her son’s marriage with the penniless Fanny Ashton, and consequently refused even to see his young wife.

In a short time Fanny was deserted by her worthless husband. Not many months had passed away before she received the announcement of his death in a duel. That very evening her child Harry was born. She never quite recovered from the shock she had received. Sad and dreary were the weeks she passed. No one called on her, for though it was known that Major Tryon was married, people were not aware that his young widow was residing at Sea View Cottage, which, standing at a distance from any high road, few of them ever passed. Her little boy was her great consolation. All her affections were centred in him. Her only visitor was good Dr Jessop, the chief medical practitioner at Lynderton. She called him in on one occasion when Harry was ill. There was not much the matter with the child, but he saw at once that the mother far more required his aid. There was a hectic flush on her cheek, a brightness in her eye, and a short cough which at once alarmed him, and he resolved to keep Master Harry on the sick list, that he might have a better excuse for going over to see the poor young widow.

Chapter Three.

The Hero’s Early Days, and a Description of a Lady of Quality.

Roger Kyffin heard of Major Tryon’s death soon after it occurred. He was afraid that Fanny might be left badly off, and he considered how he could with the greatest delicacy assist her. He would not intrude on her grief, but he thought that he might employ some person in the neighbourhood who would act as agent to take care that she was supplied with every comfort.

That evening he was travelling down in the mail coach to Lynderton. He knew his way to the cottage as well as anybody in the place.

Near it was a little inn, to which he had his carpet bag conveyed. Here he took up his abode. He felt a satisfaction in being near her, but was nervous lest by any means she should find out that he was in the neighbourhood. He soon discovered that Dr Jessop drove by every day and visited the cottage, and he resolved, therefore, to stop the doctor and introduce himself as a friend of Mrs Tryon’s family. If he found him a trustworthy and sensible person, he would employ him as his agent in affording the assistance he wished to render the widow. He saw him, and was satisfied that Dr Jessop was just the person he hoped to find.

“I have had a long round of visits,” said the worthy practitioner, “and would gladly put up my horse at the inn and talk the matter over with you.”

They were soon seated together in the little parlour allotted to Mr Kyffin. His wishes were easily explained. “My interesting patient will, I am sure, feel grateful for the sympathy and assistance of her unknown friend,” said the doctor; “but to be frank with you, Mr Kyffin, I fear she will not enjoy it for many years. I believe that her days are numbered—”

He stopped suddenly, observing Roger Kyffin’s countenance.

“My dear sir,” he exclaimed, “I was not aware how deeply I was wounding you, and yet, my friend, it is better to know the truth. You may yet prove a friend to her boy, and should she be taken away, the poor child will greatly need one.”

It would be difficult to describe the feelings which agitated Roger Kyffin’s kind heart. He had one consolation. He might, as the doctor suggested, prove a friend and guardian to the orphan boy. The kind doctor called every day to report on the health of his patient. He gladly undertook to do all in his power in carrying out Mr Kyffin’s wishes, and promised not to betray the donor of the money which was to be placed at Mrs Tryon’s disposal.

Roger Kyffin could with difficulty tear himself away from the neighbourhood. He received constant communications from Dr Jessop, who sent him rather more favourable reports of Mrs Tryon. Five years passed by—Mrs Tryon’s mother was dead. She had no wish to leave her little cottage. Where, indeed, could she go? Her only employment was that of watching over her little boy. During this time several changes had taken place in the neighbourhood. Sir Harcourt Tryon died. Though he must have been aware of his grandson’s existence, he had never expressed any wish to see him. At length the mother caught cold. The effect was serious. Dr Jessop became alarmed, and wrote an account of her state to Mr Kyffin. She could no longer take Harry out to walk, and had therefore to send him under charge of a nursemaid.

One day he and his nurse were longer absent than usual. What could have kept them? The young mother went to the garden-gate several times, and looked anxiously along the road. She felt the wind very cold. Again she entered the house. Could she have mistaken the hour? The next time she threw a shawl over her shoulders, but the cold made her cough fearfully. At last she saw a female figure in the distance. It was Susan the nurse, but Harry was not with her. Mrs Tryon had to support herself by the gate till the girl came up.

“Where is Harry? where is my child?” she exclaimed.

“I could not help it, ma’am, I did my best to prevent it,” answered the nurse, crying.

Poor Fanny’s heart sank within her; her knees trembled.

“Prevent what?” she exclaimed; “what has happened? where is my boy?”

“No harm has come to him, ma’am, though there might have been, but it is all right now,” answered Susan. “We were going on, Master Harry skipping and playing in front of me, when I saw a carriage coming along the road very fast. I ran on to catch hold of him, but he darted away just under the horses’ feet. I screamed out, and the coachman pulled up. An old lady was in the carriage, and putting her head out of the window she asked what was the matter? Seeing the little boy, she wanted to know whose child he was. When I told her, she ordered the footman to lift him into the carriage. She looked at his face as if she was reading a book, then she kissed him and sat him down by her side. I begged the lady to let me have him again, as I wanted to come home. ‘No,’ she said, ‘go and tell your mistress that his grandmother has taken him with her, that she is pleased with his looks, and must take him for a short time.’ I knew, ma’am, that you would be vexed, and I begged the lady again and again to let me have him, but she answered that he must go with her, and that it would be better for him in the end.”

Poor Mrs Tryon had been listening with breathless eagerness to this account of the nursemaid’s. Leaning on the girl’s arm, she tottered back to the house, scarcely knowing whether or not she ought to be thankful that the boy had been seen by his grandmother. One thing she knew, she longed to press him to her own bosom. She felt, however, weak and ill. While yet undecided how to act, Dr Jessop’s carriage drove up to the gate. As he entered the house, she was seized with a fit of coughing, followed by excessive weakness. As she was leaning back in the arm-chair, the doctor felt her pulse. As soon as she could speak she told him what had happened. He looked very grave.

“My dear madam,” he said, “I am sorry that her ladyship has carried off the little boy. If you will give me authority, I will drive on and bring him back to you. An old friend of yours has come down to this neighbourhood, and he wishes to see Harry. He has heard that you are ill, and desires to know from your own lips your wishes with regard to your boy.”

“What do you mean, doctor?” asked the dying lady, looking up with an inquiring glance at the doctor’s face. “The child is so young that I should not wish to part from him for some years to come.”

“My dear lady,” said Dr Jessop, solemnly, “the lives of all of us are in God’s hands. You are suffering from a serious complaint. It would be cruel in me not to warn you that you are in considerable danger.”

“Do you mean to say I’m going to die, doctor—that I must part from my boy?” gasped out poor Fanny, in a faint voice.

“I should wish you to be prepared, should it be God’s will to call you away,” answered the doctor, much moved. “If you will give authority to your devoted friend, Mr Roger Kyffin, I am sure he will act the part of a parent to your boy. I expect him here this evening, and as he wishes to see Harry, I will drive over to Lady Tryon and request her ladyship to allow me to bring your boy back to you. Certainly in most cases a child’s grandmother is a proper person to act as guardian, but though I attend Lady Tryon professionally when she is in the country, I am unable to express a satisfactory opinion as to her fitness for the task. I begged my friend Tom Wallis, the solicitor at Lynderton, to ride over here with Mr Kyffin; so that should you wish to place your boy under the legal protection of your old friend, you may be able to do so.”

“Surely his grandmother is a proper person to take charge of Harry; though I have no cause to regard her with affection,” said Fanny, in a faint voice, “yet I could with more confidence consign him to that kind and generous man, Mr Kyffin; I will do therefore as he wishes, only requesting that the boy may be allowed to remain as much as possible during his childhood with his grandmother.”

Poor Fanny! a lingering feeling of pride prompted this resolution. Far better would it have been, in all human probability, for the boy, had she committed him entirely to her faithful friend’s care, and not mentioned Lady Tryon. The doctor knew too well that his patient had not many hours to live. He hurried off to Aylestone Hall, the residence of Lady Tryon. The old lady expressed herself delighted with the child, and was very unwilling to part with him. Indeed, though she was told of her daughter-in-law’s dangerous state, she positively refused to give him up, unless the doctor promised to bring him back again. Harry was accordingly placed in the doctor’s carriage, which drove rapidly back to Mrs Tryon’s cottage.

“I can give you but little hopes,” said the doctor to Roger Kyffin, whom, in company with Mr Wallis, he met at the cottage gate.

Roger Kyffin sighed deeply. The little boy flew towards his mother. She had scarcely strength to bend forward to meet him. The doctor held him while she pressed him to her bosom.

“May he come in?” asked the doctor.

“Yes,” she whispered, “I should be glad to see him before I die; you were right, doctor, and kind to warn me.”

Roger Kyffin entered the room, but his knees trembled, and he could scarcely command his voice. Fanny thanked him for all his kindness; “continue it,” she said, “to this poor child.”

The doctor signed to Mr Wallis to come forward. He had brought writing materials. Fanny expressed her wish to place her child under Roger Kyffin’s guardianship. She signed the paper. She evidently wished to say more, but her voice failed her. It was with difficulty she could gasp out the last words she had uttered. In vain the doctor administered a restorative. With her one arm flung round her boy, while Roger Kyffin held her other hand, her spirit took its departure.

Roger Kyffin would gladly have carried Harry off to London, but no sooner did Lady Tryon hear of the death of her neglected daughter-in-law, than, driving over to the cottage, she took Harry with her back to Aylestone Hall. She directed also that a proper funeral should be prepared; and at her request several distant members and connections of the family attended it. Thus Mrs Tryon was laid to rest with as much pomp and ceremony as possible, in Lynderton churchyard.

With a sad heart Roger Kyffin returned to London and devoted himself with even more than his usual assiduity to his mercantile duties.

Aylestone Hall was a red brick building, surrounded by a limited extent of garden and shrubbery, within half a mile of the town of Lynderton. The interior, for a country house, had a somewhat gloomy and unpicturesque aspect. Young Harry felt depressed by the atmosphere, so different from the cheerful little cottage, with its flower-surrounded lawn, to which he had been accustomed. He was not drawn either to his grandmother, though she intended to be kind to him. She treated him indeed much as a child does a new plaything, constantly fondling it at first, and then casting it aside uncared for. Harry was also soon nauseated by the old lady’s caresses. He had, too, a natural antipathy to musk, of which her garments were redolent.

Lady Tryon was a small woman with strongly marked features, decidedly forbidding at first sight, though she possessed the art of smiling, and making herself very agreeable to her equals. She could smile especially very sweetly when she had an object to gain, or wished to be particularly agreeable; but her countenance could also assume a very different aspect when she was angry. She had bright grey eyes, which seemed to look through and through the person to whom she was speaking, while her countenance, utterly devoid of colour, was wrinkled and puckered in a curious way. She always wore rouge, and was dressed in the height of fashion. She very soon discarded her widow’s ugly cap, and the gayest, of colours decked her shrivelled form, the waist almost close up under the arms, and the dress very low, a shawl being flung over her shoulders. She could laugh and enjoy a joke, but her voice was discordant, and even when she wished to be most courteous there was a want of sincerity in its tone. Lady Tryon had been maid of honour in her youth to a royal personage, and possessed a fund of anecdote about the Court, which was listened to with respectful delight by her country neighbours. She was supposed to have very literary tastes, and to have read every book in existence. The fact was that she scarcely ever looked into one, but she picked up a semblance of knowledge, and having a retentive memory was able to make the most of any information she obtained. In the same way she had got by heart a large supply of poetry, which she was very clever in quoting, and as her audience was not often very critical, any mistakes of which she might have been guilty were rarely discovered. Her chief talent was in letter-writing, and she kept up a constant epistolary correspondence with aristocratic friends. No one could more elegantly turn a compliment or express sympathy with sorrow and disappointment. She occasionally, too, penned a copy of verses. If there was not much originality in the lines, the words were well chosen, and the metre correct. She described herself as being a warm friend and a bitter enemy. The latter she had undoubtedly proved herself on more than one occasion; but the warmth of her friendship depended rather upon the amount of advantage she was likely to gain by its exhibition than from any sensation of the heart. In fact, those who knew her best had reason to doubt whether she was possessed of that article. In reality, its temperature was, without variation, down at zero. Poor Sir Harcourt, a warmhearted man, had discovered this fact before he had been very long united to her. She, however, managed from the first to rule him with a rod of iron, and to gain her own way in everything. Most fatally had she gained it in the management of her son, whom she had utterly ruined by her pernicious system of education. Sir Harcourt endeavoured to make all the excuses for her in his power.

“She is all mind!” he used to observe. “A delightful woman—such powers of conversation! We must not expect too much from people! She has a wonderful command of her feelings: never saw her excited in my life! A wonderful mind, a wonderful mind has Lady Tryon!”

Lady Tryon had, however, one passion. It absorbed her sufficiently to make her forget any annoyances. She was fond of play. She would sit up half the night at cards, and, cool and calculating, she generally managed to come off winner. Of late years she had not been so successful. Her mind was not so strong as it was, and all her powers of calculation had decreased. Still she retained the passion as strong as ever. In London she had no difficulty in gratifying it, but during her forced visits to the country she found few people willing to play with her. At first, her country neighbours were highly flattered at being invited to her house, but they soon found that they had to pay somewhat dear for the honour. Still her ladyship, while winning their money, was so agreeable, and smiled so sweetly, and spoke so softly, that like flies round the candle, they could not resist the temptation of frequenting her house. For some years she managed to rule the neighbourhood with a pretty high hand. There was only one person who refused to succumb to her blandishments, and of her she consequently stood not a little in awe. This person was an authoress, not unknown to fame. She had more than once detected the piracies of which Lady Tryon had been guilty in her poetical effusions, and could not resist, when her ladyship spoke of books, asking her in which review she had seen such and such remarks. Miss Bertrand was young, not pretty, certainly, but very genuine and agreeable, and possessed of a large amount of talent. She drew admirably, and her prose and poetical works were delightful. Lady Tryon looked upon her as a rival, and hated her accordingly.

Such was the grand-dame under whose care Harry Tryon was to be brought up. Dr Jessop was not happy about the matter. He would far rather that the honest clerk had taken charge of the boy. He resolved, however, as far as he had the power, to counteract the injudicious system he discovered that Lady Tryon was pursuing. For this purpose he won the little fellow’s affection, and as he was a constant visitor at the house in his official capacity, he was able to maintain his influence. When her ladyship went to town he induced her to allow Harry to come and stay with him, and on these occasions he never failed to invite Roger Kyffin down to pay him a visit. The worthy clerk’s holidays were therefore always spent in the neighbourhood of Lynderton. The two kindly men on these occasions did their best to pluck out the ill weeds which had been growing up in Master Harry, while under his grandmother’s care. It was, however, no easy task to root them out, and to sow good seed in their stead. Still, by their means Harry did learn the difference between good and evil, which, if left to Lady Tryon’s instructions, he certainly would never have done. He also became very much attached to the old doctor and to his younger friend, and would take advice from them, which he would receive from no one else. He grew up a fine, manly boy, with many right and honourable feelings; and though his mental powers might not have been of a very high order, he had fair talents, and physically his development was very perfect. Lady Tryon herself began to teach him to read, and as he showed a considerable aptitude for acquiring instruction, and gave her no trouble, she continued the process till he was able to read without difficulty by himself. She put all sorts of books into his hands, from which his brain extracted a strange jumble of ideas. He certainly acquired very good manners from his grandmother, and to the surprise of the neighbourhood, when he was ten years old there was scarcely a better behaved boy in Lynderton. Dr Jessop then suggested that he should be sent to Winchester School, or some other place of public instruction. Lady Tryon would not hear of this, though she consented that he should attend the grammar school at Lynderton. For this the worthy doctor was not sorry.

“I can look after him the better,” he said to himself, “and go on with the process of pulling up the weeds during her ladyship’s absence.” Harry’s holidays were generally spent in the country. Twice, however, his grandmother had him up to London in the winter. On these occasions, Mr Kyffin got leave from her ladyship to have him to stay with him part of the time. Every spare moment of the day was devoted to the lad. He took him to all the sights of London, and in the evenings contrived for him variety of amusement. Harry became more and more attached to Mr Kyffin, and more ready to listen to his advice, and more anxious to please him. Thus the boy grew on, gaining mental and physical strength, though without forming many associates of his own rank in life. His manners were very good, and his tastes were refined, and this prevented him associating with the ordinary run of boys at the grammar school.

Chapter Four.

Harry Tryon’s First Adventure.—Lynderton and its Neighbourhood.

Harry Tryon in his new home had the sea constantly before his eyes. Sometimes he saw it blue and laughing, and dotted over with the white canvas of numerous vessels glistening in the sunshine. At other times the stout ships were tossed by tempests, or doing battle with the foaming waves. Often the boy longed for the life of a sailor, to go forth over that broad unknown ocean in search of adventure; but the old lady would not hear of it. It was the only wish in which she thwarted him: she usually spoiled him, and gave him everything he asked for, especially if he cried loud enough for it. But he was now getting too old to cry for what he wanted, and he must take some other means to obtain his wishes. Poor Harry! his nursery life had been a checkered one; sometimes shut up by himself in a dark room, sometimes almost starved and frightened to death; at others pampered, stuffed with rich food, exhibited in the drawing-room as a prodigy, his vanity excited, and allowed to do exactly as he listed. Perhaps one style of treatment checked the bad effects of the other.

Lynderton stood on the bank of a small river. Harry had no difficulty in obtaining a boat, in which he learned to row. Lady Tryon did not know how he was employed, or she would probably have sent for him, and kept him driving about in her musk-smelling carriage, which Harry hated. As he grew older he managed to get trips in fishing vessels, on board small traders which ran between the neighbouring ports, and sometimes he got a trip on board a revenue cruiser—the old “Rose,” well known on the coast. There were not many yachts in those days; but two or three of the people residing at Lynderton had small vessels, and Harry was always a welcome guest on board them. His love for the sea was thus partially gratified and fostered, and he became a first-rate hand in a boat or yacht. Still he yearned for something else.

One day he was standing on the quay at the foot of the town, when a stout sailor lad stopped near him, and putting out his hand exclaimed: “Well, Master Harry! I did not know you at first: you are grown so. You’re looking out for a sail down the river, I’ll warrant?”

“You are right, Jacob,” answered Harry, shaking the proffered hand. “I have not had a sniff of salt water for the last week. But where have you been all this time?”

“I have been to sea, Master Harry—to foreign lands—and if you are so minded I will help you to take a trip there, too.”

“You have not been away long enough to go to any foreign lands that I know of, except perhaps the coast of France or to Holland,” observed Harry.

“That’s just where I have been, Master Harry, and if you like to come down along the quay I will show you the craft I went in. She’s not one a seaman need be ashamed of, let me tell you.”

Harry accompanied his friend. Jacob Tuttle had been one of Harry’s first companions in a boat, and he indeed taught him to row. As he was six or eight years older than Harry, the latter looked at him with great respect, and considered him an accomplished seaman. He was, indeed, a good specimen of the British sailor of those days, brave, open-hearted, and generous, but with the smallest possible amount of judgment or discretion. Harry accompanied him along the bank of the river for some distance.

“There! what do you think of her?” asked Jacob, pointing to a wonderfully long, narrow lugger which lay alongside the wooden quay or jetty. “She measures 120 feet from the tip of her bowsprit to the end of her outrigger, and she sails like the wind. We pull forty oars, and there is no revenue cutter can come near us, blow high or blow low.” The vessel at which Harry and his companion were looking was indeed a beautiful craft. She had fore and aft cuddies for sleeping berths, and was open amid-ships “for the stowage of 2,000 kegs of spirits,” Jacob whispered in Harry’s ear. “Would you not like to take a trip in her, Master Harry?”

Harry confessed that he should like it very much.

Lady Tryon was on the point of starting for London. Probably the “Saucy Sally” would not sail for two or three days. He might make the trip and be back again without anybody knowing anything about it. Tuttle would introduce Harry to the skipper. He was a first-rate fellow, whether an Englishman or a foreigner he could not tell, but his equal was not easily to be found. It was a pleasure to be with him in a gale of wind, and to hear him issue his orders. Captain Falwasser was his name. The “Saucy Sally” carried fifty hands, officers and crew, all told, and had guns too, but they were kept stowed away below, unless wanted.

“But, Harry, come on board.”

Harry could not resist the temptation. He reflected little about the rights of the thing, and even if he had, to say the truth, Captain Falwasser’s occupation was at that time not much condemned by public opinion. He soon found himself visiting every part of the “Saucy Sally,” and being introduced to her daring skipper. Captain Falwasser was a strongly-built man, but in other respects refined and gentlemanly in appearance. The expression of his lips showed wonderful determination, and those who looked at his eye felt that they were in the presence of a man accustomed to command his fellows. His cheek was pale and sunken, and there was on his features a settled expression of melancholy. Harry was delighted with all he saw, and longed more than ever to take a trip on board the lugger. Captain Falwasser, however, did not seem inclined to indulge him in his wish. At last he had to go on shore, and return home. A few days after this he saw the “Saucy Sally” with her jovial crew, loudly cheering, while she dropped down the river, the Custom House officers looking on.

“We’ll catch them one of these days, in spite of all their cunning,” observed one. “They think we don’t know when they are coming back. We will show them their mistake.”

Harry kept thinking of the “Saucy Sally” and her bold skipper, and he still entertained the hopes of some day making a trip in her. Two or three weeks passed away, and once more she lay in Lynderton river, with her empty hold looking as innocent as if she had been merely out for a few hours’ pleasure trip. There were reports of a large cargo having been run somewhere on the Dorsetshire coast, not far from Yarmouth, but of course the crew of the “Saucy Sally” knew nothing of the matter. A body of yeomanry had met a large party of waggons, surrounded by two or three hundred men, each with pistols in their holsters, and carbines in their hands, proceeding northward; but the soldiers considered discretion, in this case, the better part of valour, being very sure, had they attempted to interfere with them, they would be cut down to a man. It was shrewdly suspected that this cavalcade was conveying to a place of safety the cargo landed from the “Saucy Sally.” Harry very naturally went down to have a look at the lugger. Jacob Tuttle told him how sorry he had felt that he could not come the last trip.

“If you have a mind for it still, come on board the night before, and I will stow you away. When we are fairly at sea, you can come out, and if the skipper is angry I will stand the blame.”

Harry managed to get away from Aylestone Hall, his grandmother being still absent, and was, unseen by any one, stowed on board the “Saucy Sally.” It is possible that more than once, while shut up in the close cuddy, he repented of his proposed exploit. However, he was in for it, as the crew, most of them half-seas over, kept coming on board. The next morning, if not as sober as judges, they were yet pretty well able to handle the lugger, and with their usual exulting shouts they manned their oars and pulled down the river. They were soon at sea, and getting a slant of wind, the smuggler’s enormous lug-sails were hoisted, and away she stood towards the French coast. Jacob, according to promise, released Harry. The skipper’s sharp eye soon singled him out, though he kept forward among the crew. He was summoned aft, and fully expected a severe scolding.

“What made you come with us, my boy?” asked Captain Falwasser, in a kind tone. “You are too young to run the dangers we have to go through. You will have enough of them by-and-bye. And so Jacob Tuttle brought you, did he? I will settle that business with him. You must be under my charge till I land you again at Lynderton.”

Jacob Tuttle not only got a severe scolding, but the captain threatened to dismiss him as soon as they got back to England. Meantime the appearance of the lugger was being changed. The crew, as they drew near the French coast, dressed as Frenchmen, and pieces of painted canvas were hung over the sides of the vessel, so that she no longer looked like the trim, dashing craft she really was. The “Saucy Sally” dropped her anchor close in with the coast, just as the shades of evening fell over the ocean. A boat was lowered. Harry had been made to change his dress like the rest. The skipper invited him to accompany him.

“Remember you are to be dumb,” said Captain Falwasser. “If you keep close to me no harm will come to you.”

A light was shown on board the vessel, and was immediately answered by another on shore. Soon afterwards a number of boats were heard approaching. The captain exchanged a signal with one of them, and then continued his course to the shore. After walking some distance they reached a town. The captain paid several visits, and as he spoke French, Harry could not make out what was said. The captain seemed greatly surprised and shocked at some disastrous news he heard. He transacted business with some people on whom he called, and Harry saw him pay away the contents of a large bag of gold. He was more silent than ever on his walk back to the beach. He sighed deeply. “Unhappy France, unhappy France!” he said to himself; “what is to become of you?”

When they got on board the lugger again, she was deeply laden with kegs and bales of goods. That instant her anchor was tripped, and sail being made, she stood back towards the English coast. Daylight soon afterwards broke. She made the land some time before dark, but waited till she could not be seen from the shore before she ran in. Sharp eyes kept looking out for the expected signal: it was made. She ran in till her bows almost touched the sand. Fully three hundred people were waiting on the beach; with wonderful rapidity her cargo was landed, and each cask or bale being put on the broad shoulders of a stout fellow, was carried away instantly up the cliff. Not a yard of silk, a bottle of brandy, nor a pound of tobacco remained on board. Instantly the oars were got out, and before daylight she was once more at the mouth of Lynderton river.

“I have only one request to make,” said the captain to Harry, “that you will promise me faithfully not to tell to any one what you have seen. You came on board the ‘Saucy Sally,’ were away a couple of nights, and were once again put safely on shore at Lynderton. That’s all you may tell, remember.”

Harry gave his promise; he felt grateful to. Captain Falwasser for the kind treatment he had received. Harry begged that Jacob Tuttle might be forgiven. The captain replied he would consider the matter; but Jacob did not seem inclined to trust to him, and soon afterwards entered on board a man-of-war.

This was Harry’s first adventure. He was somewhat disappointed in the result. It was some time before he engaged in another.

There were a good many country houses scattered about in the neighbourhood of Lynderton; and at most of them Harry, who was growing into a remarkably fine-looking young man, had become a great favourite. He danced well, could talk agreeably, and was always ready to make himself useful. He was a welcome guest, especially at Stanmore Park, the residence of Colonel Everard. The Colonel was one of the representatives of the oldest and most influential families in that part of the country. General Tryon had been an old friend of his, and he was very glad when Lady Tryon acknowledged her grandson, and took him under her protecting wing. Had the Colonel been a more acute observer than he was, he might not have so readily congratulated the boy on his good fortune. Colonel Everard had an only daughter, Lucy; and a niece, Mabel, who resided with him. The latter was the daughter of his brother, Captain Digby Everard, who was constantly at sea. When he came on shore for a short period he took up his residence at Stanmore Park. A maiden sister, always called Madam Everard, who superintended his household, was the only other constant member of his family. Stanmore Park was a fine old place of red brick, with spreading wings. A long drive under an avenue of noble trees led up to the front of the house, and looked out on a wide extent of park land. There was a beautiful view of the sea from the windows on the opposite side. There was a magnificent lawn of thick shrubberies, and lofty umbrageous trees, and extensive lakes, across which were bits of woodland scenery, the graceful trees of varied foliage being reflected in the calm water. Altogether, Stanmore Park was a very delightful place. Harry, however, although he was very fond of going there, liked the inhabitants even more than the place itself. Madam Everard was a good kind woman who, though advanced in life, had feelings almost as fresh as those of her young nieces, who were pretty, attractive girls. Harry thought so, and as he saw a good deal of them, he was well able to judge. His happiest days were spent in their society; sometimes attending them on horseback, sometimes fishing with them in the lake, sometimes rowing them in a boat on the largest piece of water. Captain Everard had had a miniature frigate placed on the lake; and Harry was present while it was being fitted out and rigged, so that he learnt the name of every rope and sail belonging to her. It was wonderful how much nautical knowledge he gained on that occasion.

Chapter Five.

Two Young Fire-Eaters Out-Generalled.

Lynderton was about that time made a depot of a foreign legion, and although the presence of a large body of military did not add much to the morality of the place, there was a considerable number of talented persons among the officers and their wives. Instruction could now be procured in abundance, in foreign languages, dancing, singing, in the use of all sorts of instruments, from pianos down to flageolets, and in drawing and painting. Counts and barons were glad to obtain remuneration for their talents, and many a butcher’s or grocer’s bill was liquidated by the instruction afforded to the female portions of the commercial families of the place in dancing and singing. Colonel Everard engaged a very charming countess to instruct his daughter and niece in dancing, and as it was convenient to have a third person, Harry was invited over to join the lessons. The name of the French lady who taught them dancing was Countess de Thaonville. She was a very handsome person, but there was a deep shade of melancholy on her countenance. No wonder. Her history was a sad one, as was that of many of her countrywomen and countrymen, now exiles in a foreign land. Harry benefited greatly by these lessons. They contributed to civilise and refine him. Had, however, Madam Everard known a little more of the world, as years rolled on, she would probably not have invited him so often to come to the house. In his young days he had looked on Lucy and Mabel very much in the light of sisters, but somehow or other he began to prefer one to the other. Mabel was certainly his favourite. How it came to pass he could not tell, but he was happier in her society than in that of her cousin, or in that of anybody else. He was only about two years her senior, while Lucy was several years older. This might have made some difference. Occasionally the Countess brought a young officer of the legion, Baron de Ruvigny, to the house to assist in the music, as he played the violin well. He was a mere youth, but very gentlemanly and pleasing, and he became a great favourite with Madam Everard. Harry did not quite like his coming; he thought he seemed rather too attentive to Mabel. However, he was a very good fellow, although he could not play cricket or row a boat, and as Mabel certainly gave him no encouragement, Harry began to like him.

By the time Harry was eighteen Mabel had become a lovely and an amiable girl. No wonder that being much in her society he should have loved her. Lady Tryon, who had always indulged him, was not long in discovering the state of his affections, and instead or attempting to check him, she encouraged him in his wish to obtain the hand of Mabel Everard.

Colonel Everard, like many old soldiers, was an early riser. He usually, in the summer, took a walk before breakfast through the grounds. His figure was tall and commanding. Although considerably more than seventy, he still walked with an upright carriage and soldier-like air. He carried a stick in his hand, but often placed it under his arm, as he was wont in his youth to carry his sword. The front part of his head was bald, and his silvery locks were secured behind in a queue, neatly tied with black ribbon. His features were remarkably fine, and age had failed to dim the brightness of his blue eye. His invariable morning costume was an undress military coat, which had seen some service, while no one could look at him without seeing that he was a man accustomed to courts as well as camps. One morning he was stopping to look at a flower-bed lately laid out by his daughter Lucy, when he heard footsteps approaching him. A turn of the walk concealed him from the house.

“Well, Paul, what is it?” he asked, looking up.

“I have something to communicate, Colonel.”

The speaker was a tall thin man, with a mark of a sword-cut on one of his well-bronzed and weather-beaten cheeks, which had not added to his beauty. There was, notwithstanding this, an honest, pleasant expression in his countenance which was sure to command confidence. His air was that of an old soldier; indeed, as he spoke, his hand went mechanically up to his hat, while as he halted, he drew himself as upright as one of the neighbouring fir-trees. Paul Gauntlett, the Colonel’s faithful follower and body servant, had left Lynderton with him upwards of fifty years before, and had been by his side in every battle in which he had been engaged.

“There’s mischief brewing, and if it is not put a stop to, harm will come of it,” he continued.

“What do you mean?” asked the Colonel.

“Just this, sir. I was lying down close to the lake to draw in a night line I set last night, when who should come by but young Master Harry Tryon with his fishing-rod in his hand, and his basket by his side. I was just going to get up and speak to him, for he did not see me, when I saw another person, who was no other than that young foreigner, the Baron de Ruvigny, as he calls himself. Master Harry asked him what he was doing, and he said that it was no business of his, as far as I could make out. Then Master Harry got very angry, and told him that he should not come to the park at all, and the other said that he was insulted. Then Master Harry asked him what business he had to write letters to young ladies, and the end of it was that they agreed to go into the town and get swords or pistols and settle the matter that way. If they fix on pistols it may be all very well; but if they fight with swords, Master Harry’s no hand with one, and the young Frenchman will pink him directly they cross blades.”

“I am glad you told me of this,” observed the Colonel. “It must be put a stop to, or the hot-headed lads will be doing each other a mischief. Who could the Frenchman have been writing to? Not my daughter or niece I hope. It will not do to have their names mixed up in a brawl.”

“I think we could manage it at once, sir; they have not yet left the grounds. They spoke as if they did not intend to fight till the evening, as each of them would have to look out for his seconds. When they parted, Master Harry walked on along the side of the lake and began to fish, looking as cool as a cucumber, while the young Frenchman went back into the summer-house, where he had been sitting when Master Harry found him, and went on writing away on a sheet of paper, he had spread on his hat. Now, sir, if you go down the walk you are pretty sure to find him there still, and I have no doubt that I shall be able to fall in with Master Harry, and I can tell him you want to see him at breakfast, and that he must come, and make no excuse.”

Great was Harry’s surprise to find the young Frenchman in the breakfast-room, where the Colonel and the rest of the party were already assembled. He was, as usual, cordially welcomed, and the butler shortly afterwards announced that the fish he had caught would be speedily ready.

“We are very glad you have come, Harry,” said Madam Everard, “you can help us in arranging an important matter. The Colonel has just heard that his Majesty intends honouring us with a visit in the course of a day or two. The King sends word that he shall ride over from Lyndhurst, and that we are to make no preparations for his reception; but he is always pleased when there is some little surprise and above all things he likes to see his subjects making themselves happy.”

“The Baron de Ruvigny says he is certain that Colonel Lejoille will lend the band of the regiment, and we must have the militia and volunteer bands. Will it not be delightful?” exclaimed Mabel.

“We must have two large tents put up on one side of the lawn, so as not to shut out the view from the windows.”

“There must be one for dancing,” said Lucy, who was especially fond of dancing. “There will be no want of partners, as there used to be before the foreign officers came here. How very kind of the King to say he will come.”

“Do you think that Cochut will have time to prepare a breakfast?” asked the Colonel, looking at his sister. “We must send for him at once to receive his orders. Baron, we must leave the bands of the regiments to you. Harry, you must arrange with Mr Savage, the sail-maker, for the tents.”

“Now, recollect you two young men are to devote all your time and energies to these objects,” said Madam Everard, looking at them with a meaning glance.

“I must see you both in my study before you leave,” said the Colonel, “and now, lads, go to breakfast.”

The two young men looked at each other, and possibly suspected that the Colonel might, by some wonderful means, have heard of their quarrel.

Chapter Six.

Royal Visitors.—The King and the Mace-Bearer.—The Foes reconciled.

The news of the good King’s intended visit to Stanmore Park was soon spread abroad. The mayor and burgesses of Lynderton resolved that they would request his Majesty to honour their borough by stopping on his way at their town-hall. The whole place was speedily in a state of the most intense commotion. While the Colonel and his womankind were making all the necessary preparations at the park, the lieges of Lynderton were engaged in the erection of triumphal arches, with a collection of banners of all sorts of devices, painting signboards and shop-fronts, and the polishing up of military accoutrements.

Lynderton was got into order for the reception of royalty even before Stanmore Park had been prepared. One chief reason was that there were many more hands in the town to undertake the work, and another was, there was less work to be done. The great difficulty was to have the band playing at both places at once.

Colonel Everard had already engaged them, and they could not on any account disappoint him. Still for the honour of Lynderton it was necessary that a musical welcome should be wafted to the King as he entered the precincts of the borough. At last it was arranged that a part of the foreign band should remain in the town to welcome the King, and then set off at a double-quick march to Stanmore, to be in readiness to receive him there.

The eventful morning at length arrived. It broke, however, with a threatening aspect. There were clouds in the sky, which looked more inclined to gather than disperse. Jacob Tuttle, who met Harry on his way to Stanmore, where he was to finish getting the tents in order, told him that it would be a rainy day. Madam Everard was in a state of greater anxiety than any one else; indeed, she had many things to trouble her. She was not sure that Monsieur Cochut would have performed his work to her satisfaction. Then there were so many mouths to feed, besides the King and his attendants, that she was afraid there might not be sufficient provisions for them. The tents were already erected. Harry had performed his part in a most satisfactory manner. She had no doubt the Baron de Ruvigny would arrange the band.

Not only was the King expected, but good Queen Charlotte and one or two of the princesses had expressed their intention of driving over to Stanmore. A few select guests had been invited to meet them. Among others was Lady Tryon. There were also General Perkins and his wife, and the well-known couple, Sir James and Lady Wallace. The General and the Admiral were old friends, and older enemies, for they had met as lads, when one was lieutenant of marines, and the other a midshipman, and had actually fought a duel, at a time when that foolish and wicked custom was in vogue even among youths.

(The writer thinks it well at this point to state that the Royal visit actually took place as described; also that the main facts and characters in the story are taken from an unpublished diary of the time, in possession of a member of the family.)

The great mass of the neighbourhood were invited to the grounds. All the arrangements were reported complete; but Madam Everard kept looking up anxiously at the sky, which threatened every instant to send down its waters upon the earth. The clouds gathered closer and closer, and some time before the hour at which the royal family were expected to arrive the rain began to descend. It was melancholy to look at the tents growing darker and darker as the water poured down on them, and to see the flags which should have been blowing out joyfully drooping on the flagposts. The rain pattered against the window panes, and the air blew in with a damp feel, which gave promise of a drenching day. Madam Everard became very unhappy; even the young ladies lost their spirits. The Colonel was the only person who seemed unconcerned.

“I have done my best,” he observed, “and there is no man more ready to make allowance than the King, God bless him.” The Colonel had been page to George the Second, and had been attached to the court of the present King, and knew him well, and, moreover, his many trials and difficulties. ”‘Uneasy is the head that wears a crown.’ Our good King finds it so, and few of his subjects have greater domestic as well as public trials to go through.”

Harry Tryon had been very busy and highly flattered by the confidence which the Colonel and Madam Everard had placed in him. Whether or not he still contemplated fighting the Baron de Ruvigny cannot now be said.

Seeing Madam Everard’s anxiety, he offered in spite of the rain to mount a horse and gallop off to ascertain whether the royal party were coming or not. His offer was accepted, and he was soon galloping away through the street of Lynderton on the high road to Lyndhurst, by which it was expected the King would come. He met on his way an open carriage and four horses, full, as it seemed to him, of old women wrapped up in red cloaks and hoods, such as were worn by the peasantry. He had got to the turnpike kept by an old woman, Mammy Pocock by name, when he inquired whether the royal family had come by.

“Why, bless you, yes; that be they,” said the old woman, pointing along the road. “They stayed in here ever so long, but at last they thought Madam Everard would be waiting for them, and so they borrowed my cloak, and they sent out, and borrowed as many cloaks and shawls as could be found in all the cottages near. It was curious to see the Queen and princesses laughing as they put them on.”

Harry was going to hurry back with the news, when he saw a party of four or five horsemen coming along the road. By this time the rain had somewhat ceased. He drew up on one side to see who the strangers were. He had little difficulty in recognising in the old gentleman who rode first with his coat buttoned up, but without any great coat, the King of England. Sir George Rose and two or three other gentlemen accompanied his Majesty. One of them, apparently, was urging him to stop at the tollgate, and dry his clothes.

“A little wet won’t hurt a man! a little wet won’t hurt a man!” answered the King. “The sun will soon come out, and answer the purpose better than a fire.”

As Harry knew that the Queen would arrive at Stanmore before he could get there, and that the King would be delayed for some time at Lynderton he followed the cavalcade at a respectful distance.

As they reached the entrance of the town the rain altogether ceased, and the sun shone forth, and shouts of welcome rent the air, and the band played a joyous tune, and the Mayor and the whole corporation in state came forth to welcome his Majesty, and to accompany him to the entrance of the town-hall. He there was ushered up, and led to a seat at the farther end, where he graciously received an address from the mayor, who, with the members of the corporation, were formally introduced.

Conspicuous at the other end of the room was a gaunt personage in scarlet robes trimmed with yellow fringe, bearing in his hand an enormous gilt club, so it looked.

“Who is that?” asked the King, eyeing the figure with a comical expression.

“That’s our mace-bearer, your Majesty, Jedidiah Pike.”

Jedidiah Pike, hearing his name announced, supposed that he was summoned, and advanced up the room. Overcome, however, by his feelings, and awe at finding himself in the presence of majesty, down he went on his knees, mace and all, and prostrated himself at the King’s feet, while, looking up with an expression of the most intense reverence, he endeavoured to kiss the hand of majesty.

“Get up, man! get up!” exclaimed the King, scarcely refraining his laughter, “I am not the Grand Seignior nor a three-tailed Basha. Get up, get up, man, and you shall kiss my hand, if it pleases you.” The King could restrain his laughter no longer, and gave way to a hearty cachination, in which his attendants, and even the mayor and corporation of Lynderton, heartily joined, greatly to the confusion of poor Pike, who retreated backwards, very nearly tumbling over his own gown as he endeavoured to escape from the royal presence. During the remainder of the ceremony, the King every two minutes gave way to another hearty laugh, and as he descended the stairs to mount his horse, he looked round, and again inquired for his friend Pike.

The King rode on as before, attended by the few gentlemen who had come with him from Lyndhurst, the populace following at a respectful distance. While he rode on, either side was lined with eager spectators, who gave forth with cheerful voices reiterated welcomes. The king nodded kindly, thanking the people now and then in words as he rode on.

Harry galloped on by a path he knew across the country, and the Colonel was in readiness to receive his royal guest on his arrival.

Meantime, the guests who had been invited to the fête on the lawn arrived from all quarters, while the breakfast-room which overlooked it had been prepared for the royal family. They dined alone—the Colonel and the ladies of his family, aided by Lady Tryon, attending on them. Lady Tryon was delighted at being invited by the Queen to attend on her. She made herself especially agreeable, and took the opportunity of introducing her grandson to their Majesties.

Harry behaved remarkably well under circumstances so novel to him, and Mabel, at all events, thought that she had never seen him looking so handsome.

“He would make a charming page,” Lady Tryon whispered in her ear; “I must try and get their Majesties to take him.”

Meantime the sky had cleared, the sun shone forth brightly. The guests were soon seen in their gayest costumes crossing the lawn to the tents, the band struck up and played the most joyous tunes, and the King came to the window and clapped his hands with delight.

It was pleasant to see their Majesties mixing among the crowd, and talking familiarly to many of the guests. Several the King recognised; among others, Sir James Wallace, and his friend, General Perkins. Upwards of an hour was thus passed, when one of the gentlemen-in-waiting suggested to his Majesty that unless they soon commenced their homeward ride it would be dark before they could reach Lyndhurst. The Queen and princesses had already retired, as they purposed returning by the road they came.

“We must restore her cloak to Dame Pocock,” observed the Queen, “and other friends who were kind enough to lend them to us.”

The King, however, purposed riding across the forest by a shorter cut, and through much beautiful woodland scenery. Harry held the King’s horse, while Colonel Everard assisted him to mount.

“Ah!” said his Majesty, shaking the Colonel by the hand, “I am a happy King to be able thus to ride through a forest with only three or four unarmed attendants. Is there another sovereign in Europe that could do the same? I wot not, Colonel.”

“Perhaps this young gentleman would like to accompany us,” said one of the gentlemen-in-waiting, turning to the Colonel. “I know my way across the forest, but he probably is better acquainted with the paths on this side of it, and may somewhat shorten our ride. I am anxious to get the King home again lest his Majesty should have suffered by remaining so long in his damp clothes.”

Harry was soon on horseback and galloping along to overtake the royal party. Every path and glade in that part of the forest was well known to him, and he was thus able to conduct the King, not only by shorter paths, but to show him some especial bits of woodland scenery. The King was much pleased, and complimented Harry on his taste. Whole troops of deer were seen coming in from all directions towards a keeper’s lodge, where they were accustomed to assemble every evening to be fed.

“A pity to shoot such beautiful creatures,” said the King; “this forest should be their own. If I had to frame new forest laws I should certainly let the deer benefit by them. What say you, young gentleman?”

Harry had to confess he had no objection to ride after a stag with a pack of hounds, nor indeed to exercise his skill as a marksman on a fat buck.

The King laughed.

“We must not be too much guided by our feelings,” he observed.

The King conversed constantly with Harry during the ride, and told him that he hoped to see him again. The young man bowed low as they reached Lyndhurst, and it is not surprising that his spirits should have been somewhat elated at the honour which had been done him. He turned his horse, and galloped quickly over the soft turf back again towards Stanmore, eager to report the safe arrival of the King, and, it is possible, to enjoy another dance with Mabel. She was not less well pleased than he was with the honour the King had done him, and it is not surprising that the young people should have thereon built up a somewhat lofty castle in the air, vapoury and changeable, as such castles invariably are. Lady Tryon was still more pleased. Her grandson had achieved a success. She saw him in imagination basking in the smiles of royalty, and obtaining the advantages which such smiles occasionally bring. Not always, though, as they are apt to raise up “envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness,” in the hearts of rivals.

Dancing was still going on when Harry got back. On such occasions the officers of the foreign legion considerably eclipsed the less nimble-footed Englishmen, and were proportionally favourites. They were, therefore, far more popular with the ladies than with the male part of the community.

Harry had not forgotten his quarrel with the Baron de Ruvigny, and was somewhat surprised that the young lieutenant looked at him in so unconcerned a manner. He was not revengeful by disposition, but he fancied that he was in honour bound to settle the matter.

“The sooner the better,” he thought to himself. “I will look out for him on his way to Lynderton, and see what he has to say for himself.”

In the meantime he danced with Lucy and Mabel, and two or three other young ladies, for although it had been the custom for a gentleman to confine himself to the same partner during the whole of the evening, the foreign officers had managed to break through it, and thus to divide their attentions more generally among the fair sex. At length the fête came to an end. Everybody declared it was delightful. Harry saw Lady Tryon into her carriage, and saying that he would walk home, went back to pay his adieus to the ladies. Mabel looked more beautiful than ever, and gave him a smile which made him feel very happy.

“By-the-bye,” said the Colonel, drawing him aside, “if you ever have an ‘affair of honour,’ you must promise to ask me to be your second. Remember I am an old soldier, and you could not have a better man. I must exact this promise.”

Harry felt very foolish. He did not know how he looked. He could not help suspecting that the Colonel knew his secret; yet “how could he have known it?” The Colonel, however, would not let him go till he had passed his word.

“Perhaps I may have to call upon you sooner than you expect, sir,” he said; “really, these foreigners try one’s temper.”

“Perhaps you don’t understand the foreigners, Harry,” he said, in a good-natured tone. “However, good-night;” and the old officer returned chuckling into the drawing-room.

Harry hurried on. He had seen the Baron de Ruvigny leave the house but a short time before, and he expected soon to catch him up. He was not disappointed. The moon shone brightly. He knew the baron’s figure, and saw him a little way ahead in company with several other officers.

Harry soon overtook them, and walking up to the side of the young baron, touched him on the shoulder.

“We had a little affair to settle the other day, baron,” said Harry.

The young baron hesitated.

“I was labouring under a mistake. I confess it,” he answered. “Colonel Everard has spoken to me, and has made me promise not to carry the matter further. I did not consider that you had a right to interfere, and I was, therefore, angry. I tender you my apology.”

Harry hesitated a moment. Was it generosity or cowardice which made the young baron act in this way? “It is the first, I am sure,” thought Harry. “I accept your apology gladly,” he answered.

The young men shook hands and walked on side by side, both probably feeling much happier than they did before. They might, to be sure, have caused some sensation in the place had they fought; but even had one of them been killed, the event would probably have been no more than a “nine days’ wonder,” and even his most intimate acquaintance would soon have ceased to mourn. The two after this became fast friends.

The baron especially had many interesting adventures to relate, especially those he had undergone in escaping from France—“La belle France!” as he still called his native country.

Chapter Seven.

A Farewell Visit.—Sad End of a Festive Scene.

Mabel Everard and Harry Tryon stood together under the shade of the wide-spreading trees which extended their boughs over the edge of the large lake in Stanmore Park watching a couple of graceful swans which glided noiselessly by across the mirror-like surface of the water.

“I have come to wish you good-bye, Mabel,” said Harry, and his voice trembled slightly. “Lady Tryon insists on my accompanying her to London, and I cannot refuse to obey her. It is time, and she says truly that I should choose a profession; but which can I choose? I should have preferred going to sea some years ago, but I am getting too old for that, and though I have no objection to the army, yet it would take me away for years, perhaps for long years, Mabel, and that I could not stand.”

He looked affectionately into her face as he spoke.

“I should not wish you to go, Harry,” she answered in a low voice, “and yet I know that it is right and manly to have a profession. I should not like you to be in any better, yet it is so full of dangers that I should be very miserable.”

“No, I see, I must live in the country and turn farmer,” said Harry, as if a bright idea had struck him. “I have always been told that Lady Tryon is sure to leave me all her property, and that must be sufficient for all my wishes. However, when I go to London I will try and learn what profession is likely to suit me. I certainly don’t wish to be idle; and the thought of winning you, and making a home fit for your reception, will stimulate me to exertion.”

“I shall be glad if it does.”

A boat was moored near where they stood. Harry proposed to row Mabel round the lake. They looked very interesting as they two sat in the boat, Harry rowing, and Mabel smiling and talking cheerfully, occasionally catching at a water-lily.

They talked of Lucy. The theme was a sad one. Since the day of the fête she had never been well. There was a colour in her cheek and a brightness in her eye, which alarmed her aunt. She communicated her fears to Mabel.

“But dear Lucy does not consider that she is in any danger, or she would not urge my uncle to have the ball next week.”

“Perhaps your aunt is unduly alarmed,” said Harry, “Lucy seems in such spirits that I cannot suppose there is any danger. I was in a great fright at first, thinking that Lady Tryon would insist on going to London before the ball, but I am thankful to say she consents to stay till it is over. There is only one thing I don’t like in these balls. I say, Mabel, you must not let those French officers flirt too much with you. They are marquises and barons, to be sure; but after all, except their pay, they have nothing to bless themselves with. Somehow or other, I never can like a foreigner as much as an Englishman.”

“That is rather hard upon papa,” said Mabel, looking up. “You know his mother was a foreigner. Did you not know that she was French? Grandpapa married, when he was a very young man, just as he was a lieutenant, a French lady. She, too, was very young and very pretty.”

“That I am sure she must have been,” said Harry, looking up at Mabel.

“The story is a very sad one. Poor mamma died, I believe, when I was born, and grandpapa had just time to carry away his boy to England, and to place me with Aunt Ann, when he was obliged to go to sea. The little I know of the early history of our family I have learnt from Aunt Ann.”

They were nearing the shore when they heard a voice hailing them from the spot from which they set out. They soon reached a landing-place. A fine officer-like looking man was standing near it. Mabel sprang out and threw herself into his arms.

“Oh! papa, you have come back without giving us warning. Oh! dear, dear papa, how happy you have made me!”

Captain Digby Everard returned his daughter’s embrace. He looked inquiringly at Harry, whom he did not recognise.

“This is Harry Tryon,” she said. “You remember him as a boy; but he has grown a good deal since then.” The Captain smiled.

“I am very happy to renew my acquaintance with him,” he said, holding out his hand, “and I am glad to see so accomplished an oarsman: it is a pity that he has not been bred to the sea. However, perhaps it is not too late. Lord Cochrane did not go afloat till he was as old as Harry is, and he has already made a name for himself.”

The Captain and his daughter walked on towards the house, she leaning on his arm, and looking up, ever and anon, into his face as he spoke affectionately to her.

Harry, thinking that the Captain might consider him intrusive, made his adieus to Mabel and her father.

“Aunt Ann will want you to help her in preparing for the entertainment,” said Mabel, as she shook hands with him.

“And I should be happy to become better acquainted with you,” added the Captain, warmly shaking him by the hand.

Harry was becoming very popular in the neighbourhood: a good-looking young man, with apparently ample means, is certain to be so, if he is tolerably well behaved in other respects. People do not pry too closely into the character of youths of good fortune. Harry, however, was unexceptionable. The banker and some of the tradesmen of Lynderton might have had their suspicions that Lady Tryon would not “cut up” as well as was expected; but as they had had no quarrel with her grandson, they did not allow this idea to go forth to his detriment. Harry, therefore, dined as frequently out as at home. Indeed, the attractions of Ayleston Hall were not very great, to his taste.

One day, however, she insisted upon his remaining and taking a tête-à-tête dinner with her. Her eyes were weak, and she wanted him to read to her afterwards a new tale by Miss Burney. To that he had no objection. It was very romantic, and suited his humour.

“Well, Harry, you must make your fortune some day by a wife,” said the worldly old lady, “and really if you succeed with that pretty girl, Mabel Everard, you will do well. Under some circumstances I might not have encouraged it; but as it is, I have an idea: you know Lucy’s mother died of consumption, and if Lucy dies the Captain becomes his uncle’s heir.”

“But my mother died of consumption,” answered Harry, who hated the thought of being mercenary; “I hope Lucy may live, and that I may have the means of making a fortune to support a wife whenever I marry.”

“Silly boy, fortunes are not so easily made,” said the old lady, in a voice which sounded somewhat harsh to Harry’s ear. “If you don’t marry a fortune, there will probably be poverty and beggary in store for you. They are the most dreadful things in my opinion in this life. Be a wise lad, Harry, and try and win Mabel. You don’t mean to say, boy, that you have no wish to marry her?”

Harry hesitated to acknowledge his love to his grandmother. The old lady’s manner did not encourage confidence. Instinctively he mistrusted her. The old lady eyed him narrowly.

“Take my advice, and be attentive to the girl. If you follow it I shall be well pleased; if not, I shall act accordingly. Or perhaps when you go to London you would like to be introduced to your cousins, the Coppinger girls. There are a good many of them, I believe, but I have kept up no intercourse for some years past with my worthy brother Stephen. Indeed, he and I have different notions on most subjects. However, if there is anything to be gained, I should have no objection to call on my nieces. He is very rich, I am told, and will probably divide his fortune between them. Still, though our family is a good one, as he has always lived in the city, a daughter of his cannot bring you the county influence and credit which you would derive from such a girl as Mabel Everard.”

Harry seldom acted the hypocrite. He did so, however, on this occasion. He should be very happy to become acquainted with his fair cousins, and he did not for a moment deny the attractions of Mabel Everard, or the advantages which might accrue, should he be fortunate enough to win her hand.

The old lady, with all her acuteness, did not quite understand her grandson. On this occasion, however, she read his mind better than usual. Had he been perfectly frank she might have doubted him, but now that he attempted to compete with her in hypocrisy, she read him through and through.

“Why the lad thinks of marrying that little girl,” she thought to herself, “and unless her father should marry again, she will be one of the chief heiresses of the county, should her cousin die.”

The intended ball was to be the largest which had yet taken place at Stanmore, and Lucy especially wished for it. It was her birthday, and the Colonel could deny her nothing. Besides, Captain Everard had come home, and it would help to do him honour. Not only was all the neighbourhood asked, but people from all parts of the county. The house was to be full. As it was originally a hunting lodge, the outbuildings were very extensive, and could hold all the carriages and horses of the numerous guests. People do not mind packing tolerably close on such occasions. There was a long range of rooms in one of the wings for bachelors, and another similar range where a vast number of young ladies could be put up, with their attendant waiting-maidens. The new dining-hall, in which the dancing was to take place, was very extensive. It was to be ornamented with wreaths of flowers, and numerous bracket lights on the walls. The chandeliers were looked upon as wonderful specimens of art, though greatly surpassed by those of later years. A considerable number of guests who came from a distance arrived the day before. Lucy and Mabel had exerted themselves, especially in preparing the wreaths, and running about the house all the day assisting their aunt. Harry, of course, had been summoned over to help, and so had the Baron de Ruvigny.

Harry had got over his jealousy of the young Frenchman, with regard to Mabel. He saw, indeed, that the Baron’s attentions were devoted exclusively to Lucy. He was certainly in love with her; of that there appeared no doubt.

The Colonel invited Harry to stop to dinner. It was more hurried than usual, because Lucy insisted that they should have dancing after it, to practise for the next day. Those were primitive days. Lynderton boasted of but one public conveyance, denominated the Fly, though it seldom moved out of a snail’s pace, except when the driver was somewhat tipsy, and hurrying back to obtain a second fare. Harry had been sent round a short time before dinner to invite several maiden ladies, with one or two other dames who were not able to attend the ball the following day, while three or four of the foreign officers had received an intimation that they would be welcome.

Dinner over, and the tables cleared away, the gay young party began tripping it merrily to the music of harpsichord, violin, and flageolet, played by the foreign officers. Lucy appeared in excellent health and spirits, in spite of the fatigue she had gone through in the morning. No one danced more eagerly or lightly after the first country dance. She and the young Baron stood up to perform their proposed minuet: every one remarked how lovely she looked, and how gracefully she moved. People forgot to watch the slides and bows of the young Frenchman; at least, some of the guests did, though he was rewarded for his exertions by the evident admiration of several of the young ladies.

“That young Tryon, who is dancing with Mabel Everard, considering he is an Englishman, acquits himself very well indeed,” observed the Dowager Countess of Polehampton, eyeing the young couple through her glass. “If any creature could make a man dance, Mabel Everard would do so. Do you admire her or her cousin most?”

“Really, your ladyship, they are both fine girls; it is difficult to decide between them,” answered Sir John Frodsham, an old beau who faithfully danced attendance on the Countess. “If I were a young man I might be called upon to decide the question, and then I should certainly have voted in favour of the heiress; but now Lady Frodsham puts that out of my power.”

“Oh, fie! Sir John, you men are all the same, money carries off the palm with young and old alike.”

Harry meantime was enjoying his dance with Mabel, caring very little what the Countess of Polehampton or Sir John Frodsham might say of him.

During that evening more than one could not help remarking the rich colour and the sparkling eyes of the heiress of Stanmore. Never had she looked so lovely; indeed, generally she carried off the palm from her cousin. The dance continued, the amateur musicians exerting themselves to the utmost; and everybody declared that if the present impromptu little party went off so well, that of the next day must be a great success. The Colonel was seated at the end of the room, paying attention to his more elderly guests, and occasionally saying a pleasant word or two to the young ones. Madam Everard kept moving about and acting the part of an attentive hostess. Frequently her nieces assisted her, when not actually engaged in dancing. There was a question to be decided as to what dance should next take place.

“Where is Lucy?” exclaimed Madam Everard, looking round. Lucy had left the room; some minutes passed, and she did not return. Madam Everard became anxious. Mabel was again dancing, or she would have sent her to look for her cousin. Madam Everard hastened from the ball-room; she went up-stairs, and met a servant by the way.

“Miss Everard went up into her room some time ago.”

Madam Everard hastened forward, telling the maid to follow.

The door was slightly open. There was no sound in the room—a lamp burned on the table; Madam Everard’s heart sank with dread. She looked round. Stretched on the floor lay her beloved niece in her gay ball dress, her countenance like marble, and blood flowing from her lips!

“She breathes, she breathes!” she said; and she and the maid lifted her on to the bed.

She had broken a blood-vessel. Madam Everard knew that at a glance: Lucy’s mother had done the same.

“Dr Jessop must be sent for immediately;” but Madam Everard did not wish to give the alarm to the rest of the guests. She would let the visitors depart, and allow those who were to remain in the house to go to their rooms before the sad intelligence was conveyed to them. She did all that could be done, and applied such restoratives as she believed would be effectual.

Immediately Paul Gauntlett threw himself on horseback, and galloped off to fetch Dr Jessop. He would not even stop to put a saddle on the horse’s back, and would have gone off with the halter.

Meantime Lucy returned to consciousness, and declared that she did not feel ill, only somewhat tired, and would like to go to sleep. The guests shortly began to take their departure. The maid-servants of the maiden ladies came with their pattens and hoods, and big cloaks, some with huge umbrellas in addition. There were footmen and footboys also, with many-coloured liveries, carrying huge stable lanterns to light their mistresses. They were generally employed in the service of the dowagers. The Fly was in requisition, but only for a select few.

As the guests came down-stairs, the foreign officers stood in the hall, occasionally making themselves useful, by assisting to put on the ladies’ hoods, cloaks, or shawls.

The young Baron de Ruvigny alone lingered. He had seen Lucy leave the room, and he became anxious, finding that she did not return. He asked the Colonel where she was. Just then a maid-servant came down with a message from Madam Everard, requesting Colonel Everard to come to his daughter’s room.

“What is the matter?” asked the young Baron of the servant, as the Colonel hurried off.

“Our mistress is very ill, very ill indeed, and I fear there’s no hope of her recovery,” answered the girl.

The young Baron entreated that he might be allowed to remain till the doctor had seen her.

Paul had found Dr Jessop at home. He accompanied him back at full speed. He looked very grave after he had seen Miss Lucy.

“I should like my friend Dr Musgrave to see her. If the skill of any man can avail, I am sure that his will, but it would take two days to get him down here, and this is a case demanding immediate remedies.”

Paul Gauntlett had come in with the doctor, and was waiting outside Miss Lucy’s room to hear his opinion.

“I will do it, sir!” he exclaimed, “if you will tell me where Dr Musgrave is to be found; I will be off and bring him down as soon as possible.”

“Stay, friend,” said Dr Jessop; “while you are taking some refreshment and getting your horse ready, I will write out a state of the case, and if Dr Musgrave cannot come he will send by you such remedies as he may consider efficacious.”

Paul scarcely liked the delay. He would have started on the back of the first horse he could lead out of the stable without thinking of food for himself. Within ten minutes he was galloping along through the forest. He could get to Redbridge, and Southampton, and so on to Winchester before daybreak. He could there get a fresh horse. He would distance any post-chaise; he was sure of that. He had left orders to have a fresh horse brought on for him to Southampton. He resolved not to waste a moment till he had brought the remedy for his dear Miss Lucy. His horse carried him nobly; he seemed to be aware that it was a matter of life and death. Paul had been with his master in London on several occasions. He knew the road, and being an old campaigner, without difficulty found his way to the doctor’s house. The doctor was out visiting patients. Paul fretted and fumed more than he had ever done in his life before. The servant was disposed to shut the door in his face, and send him to an inn.

“That will not do, master,” said Paul; “I must wait here till the doctor comes back, and you must put up my horse, and rub him down, and feed him well. It’s a matter of life and death;” and Paul expatiated on the youth and beauty and gentle disposition of his young mistress, till the tears rolled down his cheek, and he almost made the doctor’s somewhat morose butler weep with him.

“Oh, sir, sir, can you save her?” he exclaimed, handing Dr Jessop’s note to Dr Musgrave, when he came back. “It’s impossible that so young and sweet a creature as Miss Lucy should be allowed to die. It cannot be, sir; it cannot be; it would break the Colonel’s heart, and mine, too.”

Chapter Eight.

The Young Heiress.—Harry Comes Out in London not under the best of auspices.

Mr Musgrave threw himself into his arm-chair, and crossing his legs, with a frown of thought on his brow, looked over Dr Jessop’s notes. “I will go down to-morrow,” he said, turning to Paul, who stood before him eagerly watching his countenance, as if he could there read the probable fate of his beloved young mistress. “I cannot possibly go to-day; I may be of some use, but it is doubtful. However, I will send a medicine which may be efficacious, and suggest to Dr Jessop how he may treat the young lady.”

“Oh! sir, cannot you come, cannot you save her?” exclaimed Paul, not understanding what the doctor had said, but only making out that he was unable to accompany him back.

“Yes, yes, my friend,” answered the doctor, touched by the old soldier’s earnestness, “To-morrow I’ll start. I must go in a post-chaise, I cannot ride express as you do. Now go down, and my man Mumford will attend to your wants while your horse is fed. In the meantime, I will look out the medicines, and write a letter to my good friend Dr Jessop. Will that satisfy you? Now do go, my good man, do go.”

Paul could with difficulty get down any food, but at the same time his experience told him that when work was to be done the body must be fed.

He thought the doctor was a long time in concocting the medicine, but hoped that it would be more efficacious in consequence.

When once mounted, with the medicine in a case slung at his back, he did not spare his speed. His only fear was falling. A horse had been sent on to Winchester to meet him. He exchanged it for his tired steed. Winchester was soon passed through and Southampton reached. Shortly after leaving the latter place, he encountered Harry Tryon, with a led horse, coming to meet him. He mounted it gladly, for his own was already tired, and together they galloped back through the forest.

Harry was afraid that Miss Lucy was worse. At all events, they were anxiously looking out for the doctor or his remedies. The Colonel met them at the hall-door steps. His face was very grave and anxious. He was disappointed at not seeing the doctor, but eagerly took the case of medicines.

“Paul, you saved my life once, and by God’s providence you may be the means of paving my daughter’s. His will be done, whatever happens.”

Dr Jessop was in attendance. The remedies sent by the London doctor were administered, but Lucy was very weak. Harry asked Dr Jessop what he thought.

“My boy, doctors at all times must not express their thoughts,” he answered, evasively. “Miss Everard is young, and youth is a great thing in a patient’s favour. Remember that, and make a good use of yours while you enjoy it.”

The guests with sad hearts took their departure. The long-expected ball was not to be. Messages were sent round to the residents in the neighbourhood, informing them that the ball was put off, but in the evening several who had not heard of what had occurred arrived at the door. The Colonel went down to speak to them himself. It was with difficulty he could command his voice, for he saw, with the eye of affection, that his beloved daughter was struck by the hand of death. Among others, a party of foreign officers arrived from a neighbouring town. Captain Everard begged his uncle that he might be allowed to go and speak to them. Refreshments had been placed for those who might come from a distance, and they were accordingly invited in. They were gentlemanly men, and Captain Everard received them as a man of the world. Having mentioned the serious illness of Miss Everard, he at once turned the conversation to other subjects. Among the guests, he saw one whose face was familiar; he looked at him again and again, and was trying to consider where he had seen him. The officer at length became aware that Captain Everard’s eyes were fixed on him.

“Surely we have met before,” said the latter. “Was it not at Toulon?” A deep melancholy came over the foreigner’s countenance.

“It may be, for I was there once,” he answered; “would that I had died there, too; but my life was saved by a brave English officer, who, at the risk of his own, carried me away amid showers of musketry poured down upon us by my countrymen, and amidst exploding ships, and masses of burning ruin which showered down upon our heads. Tell me, sir, are you that officer? for as you know well, my mind was unhinged by the dreadful events of that night, and though I have a dim recollection of his features, if you are he, you will recollect that I had scarcely recovered when he was compelled to send me to the hospital.”

“Yes, indeed,” cried Captain Everard, “I had the satisfaction of saving the life of a French officer in the way you describe. Captain Rochard, I understood, was his name, and although he remained several weeks in my cabin, all that time he was scarcely conscious of what was taking place around him.”

“Yes, yes, I am the very man,” exclaimed the foreign officer, rising from his seat, and taking Captain Everard’s hand in his own. “Let me now express my gratitude to you, which I was at that time unable to do. I have since then lived a chequered and adventurous life, and though I dare not contemplate the past, I feel that there is still pleasure and satisfaction to be found in the present. While a spark of hope remains in the bosom of a man, he cannot desire death.”

The other officers seemed much interested at the meeting between their friend and the English captain. Captain Rochard, they said, had joined them, and one or two had known him formerly when he was in the French marine, and they were convinced that he would do credit to their corps.

Harry Tryon had come to the house twice before in the day to inquire for Lucy; he now returned with the Baron de Ruvigny, who really looked dejected and almost heartbroken at the illness of the young lady. Harry had exchanged a few words with Mabel; they were parting words, so we must not too curiously inquire into what was said. He had been, however, anxious to remain a few days longer, but Lady Tryon insisted on setting off the next day for London. He once more rejoined the Baron at the hall-door. He found him standing with the foreign officers, whom he had invited to spend the rest of the evening at Lynderton. Harry was of course asked to join the party. Captain Everard was parting from them at the hall-door, and as the light fell on Captain Rochard’s features Harry was sure that he was an old acquaintance. Captain Rochard dropped a little behind his companions as they walked down the avenue, and Harry took this opportunity of addressing him.

“We have met before, Captain Falwasser,” said Harry; “I am sure that I am not mistaken, and you were very kind to me on one occasion when I was a boy.”

“Ah!” answered the Captain, with a start, “that was my name; I will not deny it; that is to say, it was my name for a time, and it may be my name again; but at present I must beg you will know me as Captain Rochard, the friend of your relative—is he not?—Captain Everard.”

“I will be careful to obey your wishes, Captain Rochard,” said Harry; “but Captain Everard is not a relative.”

Harry felt himself blushing as he said this, for he certainly hoped that he might be so some day. Harry felt very curious to know who this Captain Rochard could possibly be. He had known him, apparently, as the commander of a smuggler; now he found him in the character of a military officer. “Perhaps, after all, he may be neither one nor the other,” thought Harry; “there is a peculiarly commanding and dignified air about him.”

The evening was spent very pleasantly, for although the young Baron was sad at heart, he endeavoured to overcome his feelings, for the sake of entertaining his guests, and music and pleasant conversation made the hours pass rapidly away. The officers of the foreign legion had neither the inclination nor the means of imitating the example of British military officers, who at that time, and on such an occasion, would have spent the evening in a carouse. A few glasses of lemonade was probably the extent of the entertainment afforded by the host, or expected by the guests.

The next morning Harry found himself on the box of Lady Tryon’s coach, rumbling away towards London. Her lady’s-maid was inside. The footman sat on the box with Harry. Even the beautiful forest scenery through which they passed failed to raise Harry’s spirits. He was constantly looking back in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the chimneys of Stanmore; not that he could really have seen them, by-the-bye, but his heart flew, at all events, in the direction of his eye. He thought, too, of dear sweet Lucy lying on her sick-bed, too likely, he feared, to prove her death-bed.

The road was none of the best in those days, and Harry and the footman had often to get off and help the carriage along. This was a relief, however. They each had a brace of pistols, and a blunderbuss was strung at the back of the box. Harry, however, had a strong suspicion that Simon, the footman, would be very unwilling to use it, even in defence of the matured charms of Miss Betsy Frizzle, her ladyship’s much suffering and much enduring handmaiden. Sometimes the journey occupied three days, but her ladyship was in a hurry, and her carriage being unusually light, and the roads in tolerably good order, they were only to sleep one night on the road.

Harry had been so constantly away from home for the last few days, that he had had no conversation with his grandmother. As they were seated at tea in their inn, the old lady again spoke of his marriage with Mabel.

“I told you, Harry, that the Colonel’s daughter would die. I knew it long ago. I saw it in her eye, and her voice told me that she was not to live many years in this world. Thus, mark me, Miss Mabel will become the mistress of Stanmore. Now, Harry, I intend to leave you all I have got, so that you may cut a figure in the world. You are like your father in face and figure, and I love you on that account. He was more a man of the world than you are, or will ever become, I suspect. Let me tell you it is an important thing to know the world well. I do, and have no great respect for it in consequence; but I know how to manage it, and that’s what I want you to do. You will have many opportunities in London; I must beg that you will not throw them away. You may be the possessor of a large fortune, and yet unless you know how to manage it, it may be of little use to you. Many a man, with three or four thousand a year, does more than others with thirty or forty thousand. I would have you also, Harry, pay every attention to the wishes of your guardian, Mr Kyffin. He is a very respectable man, and will probably save money, and as far as I can learn, as he has no other relations of his own, he will undoubtedly leave it to you. Thus I hope that you may be very well off. Still both Mr Kyffin and I may live for a good many years. When he last called for you in London I examined his countenance, and considered him a remarkably hale and healthy man, while I myself feel as well as I ever did in my life. However, I don’t wish to think of the time when you will come into my property.”

Harry, of course, begged that the old lady would not think of such an event, and declared himself ready to enter some profession, by which he might make himself independent of the expected fortunes of his friends. He thought that he might like the law. Life in London and in dusty chambers was not exactly what he had been accustomed to, but still, where an important object was to be gained, he was ready to submit to anything. Lady Tryon laughed at the notion. He might certainly eat his dinners at the Inns of Court and live in dusty chambers, but as to making anything by so doing, the idea was preposterous. A young fellow like him, of good family and presentable appearance, must marry an heiress. He was fit for that, and nothing else.

Harry saw that there was no use discussing the matter with his grandmother. He resolved, however, to talk it over with his guardian as soon as they met. He saw that the old lady had some project in her head, which she had resolved to keep secret from him. It must be confessed, he was very glad when her ladyship rang for Betsy Frizzle, and retired to her room. They arrived next day late in the evening at Lady Tryon’s house, in the middle of — Street.

Harry set off the next day to visit Mr Roger Kyffin, of Hampstead. He found that the coach ran twice in the day to that far-distant suburb. It was a pleasant drive, among green fields, here and there a smiling villa, but otherwise with few buildings. Mr Kyffin had not come back from the city when Harry arrived, but his careful housekeeper received him with every attention, and insisted on his partaking of some of her preserves and home-made wine, just to give him an appetite for supper, as of course her master always dined in London.

At last Mr Kyffin arrived. He was much pleased with Harry’s appearance. They spent a very pleasant evening. Harry could not help contrasting the conversation of his guardian with that of his grandmother—the man of business, so unworldly, and with a heart so full of warm affection, anxious for the welfare of his fellow-creatures, while the old lady with one foot in the grave was truly of the earth—earthy. Harry did not exactly say as much as this to himself, but he felt it, notwithstanding. Roger Kyffin was very much pleased to hear of Harry’s wish to enter a profession. “I would not have you decide in a hurry,” he said, “and you must consider for what you are best fitted. You know that I, as far as I have the power, will help you to the utmost—on that you may depend. Further than that, Harry, I don’t wish to bias you.” Harry slept at Mr Kyffin’s, a pretty little cottage, and accompanied him the next day back to London. He found that the mornings hung somewhat heavily on his hands; the evenings, too, were not spent in a way particularly agreeable to him, as Lady Tryon insisted on his accompanying her to the routs and other parties she frequented. He had a dislike to cards, and could never learn to play, so she had not insisted on his joining her, but she spent the whole of the evening at the card-table. He saw, however, from the piles of gold placed before her that she was playing high; how high he could not tell; but very often she returned home in an unusually bad humour, when he found it safer to keep silence than to attempt any conversation with her.

At this time, ladies of fashion, as well as gentlemen, were fearfully addicted to the vice of gambling. The law was doing its utmost to put down public hells, but it was unable in general to stop the practice in private houses, in consequence of the difficulty of obtaining evidence.

One evening Lady Tryon had been at the house of the Countess of Buckinghamshire, to which Harry had, very unwillingly, been compelled to accompany her. As usual, gambling went on, a gentleman of fashion keeping the faro-table. Harry saw by the expression of his grandmother’s countenance that she was a heavy loser. The more she lost, the higher stakes she seemed inclined to play for.

“Let the old lady have her way,” he heard a gentleman near whom he was standing observe, “a little bleeding will do her no harm.”

The Countess’s handsome rooms were full of people of rank and fashion. Tables were scattered about on each side with eager players, some engaged in cards, others casting the dice, while others stood round staking considerable sums on the turn of a card or throw of the ivory. All of them seemed brought together by one absorbing passion, which they shared with the stockbrokers of Change Alley and the frequenters of the lowest hells. A few like Harry might have been compelled to go there against their will—young daughters to attend their mothers, who were leading them into vice, and a few like Harry who had no money to stake. As he looked at the group of excited beings with sparkling eyes, the rouge cheeks of the ladies, with here and there a black patch to hide a blemish, or to set off the fairness of their skins; the haggard faces of the men, with their perukes pushed on one side, their lips puckered, pressed close together, many of them holding the cards with trembling knees, evidently with one foot in the grave, Harry could not help hoping that he might never become like one of them, and he longed once more to be back at Stanmore in the company of Mabel. He thought, too, of her dying cousin, for the last account which had been received gave no hopes of her recovery, and every day he expected to hear that she was no more. He was thankful when at length he received Lady Tryon’s commands to order her coach. She was in a worse humour even than usual.

“Fortune won’t desert me,” she said at length, as they were nearing home; “there’s another chance; I intend to purchase some lottery tickets: they can bring me through, though nothing else can, unless, Harry, when you marry the little heiress you take care of your old grand-dame; you owe her something for bringing you up as a gentleman, for if I had not taken you up you would have been even now a merchant’s clerk in the city! Faugh! that such should be the fate of a grandson of General Tryon.”

Harry did not venture to remark that her ladyship’s brother was a merchant, and probably had been a merchant’s clerk in his younger days; however, he thought as much.

Chapter Nine.

Played Out.—The Last Throw.

Lady Tryon had descended to her drawing-room, to which Harry had been summoned to receive her commands. He felt greatly disposed to emancipate himself from his thraldom. “Better a crust of bread and a cup of cold water than this sort of work,” he thought; “yet my grandmother has brought me up, she is the only relative to whom I owe obedience; perhaps something will turn up to free me.”

He thought this as he came up from his room. The post arrived at the same moment. A letter was delivered to him. It was from Mabel, announcing her cousin’s death. She called him her dear Harry, and concluded with “ever the same.” Had he been alone he would have pressed the letter to his lips; as it was, he merely repeated the more important part of its contents to his grandmother. Utterly worldly, and devoid of any higher feeling, the old lady received the news in a heartless way. She scarcely uttered an expression of regret; indeed, Harry could not help seeing that she was highly pleased.

“You must marry the heiress,” she said; “you must praise her to Mr Kyffin, and I will back you up, and we will see what he can do for you.”

She suddenly seemed to think Harry appeared doubtful as to what he should do.

“I tell you, boy, I’ll cut you off to a shilling,” she said, getting up and laying her hand on his arm. “You will be a beggar, and a wretched beggar, if you don’t follow my advice. I will not say more; I have said enough; but remember.”

“Yes, your ladyship has said enough,” answered Harry. “I love Mabel too well to have her for the sake of her fortune, and I have no wish to see her father die that I may become its possessor.”

“Nonsense, boy!” exclaimed the old lady, in a harsh, shrill voice. “You’re a fool, Harry.”

The unpleasant conversation was interrupted by a servant entering, and announcing a visitor.

“Mr Flockton, who is he?” asked Harry, as he looked at the card.

“I know him; I am glad he has come,” said Lady Tryon; “it will save me a long drive into the city.”

As she spoke, a middle-aged gentleman in fashionable costume entered the room. He was a somewhat short man, broadly built, with regular features, and a shining bald forehead, from which his lightly-powdered hair was completely drawn off, and fastened behind in a pigtail. The expression of his countenance was bland, with an apparently candid manner, a smile showing his fine white teeth; and an air of nonchalance, though rather evidently the result of artificial politeness than of natural courtesy or good breeding. He bowed with a flourish of his hat to Lady Tryon, and gave a familiar nod to the young gentleman as he sank back in the seat placed for him by the servant. Lady Tryon had had some previous transactions with Mr Flockton, who was the great lottery contractor. It was part of his business to know everybody, as well as their private concerns, in all parts of the United Kingdom. Many was the lady of rank, a merchant’s or a shopkeeper’s wife in London, with whom Mr Flockton had managed to scrape acquaintance, but his chief constituents were among the great masses of society that underlie the noble and the wealthy. His baits and nets lay ready for fish of the smallest size, also, many who could with difficulty raise the sum of 1 pound 11 shillings 6 pence, whereby a sixteenth share of the 20,000 pound prize might by two lucky turns of the wheel of fortune be gained. He caught others by half and even whole tickets at various prices. In country inns Mr Flockton’s advertisements were found fastened up among the political ballads on the walls of the public rooms. They were often circulated by the same book-hawkers who supplied the vast numbers of tracts and verses then published on “The rights of man,” and “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,” advocated by the French Revolutionists and the English Jacobins. In every manufacturing town and district they came round with parcels of goods and patterns, and were eagerly read by workpeople and masters alike. They circulated in the servants’ halls, even before they were read in the oak parlours and cedar galleries of the granges and lordly castles of the land, and many a poor clergyman dreamed of education for his boys and portions for his girls from the result of a lottery ticket.

“I have called, your ladyship, to bring the ten lottery tickets you desired to possess. A cheque on your bankers will pay me for them, and it is my belief that you will find that one of them brings you the great prize. Perhaps this young gentleman would like to take two or three, a mere trifle will give him every prospect of a large sum, and should your ladyship miss it, he would have a greater chance of gaining the prize. What does your ladyship say? Surely you have balance at your bankers’ sufficient to buy fifty tickets, and, in my opinion, the wisest people will buy the most; the more bought, the greater the chance of success.”

Lady Tryon was for a moment silent. She recollected too well that on the previous night she had not only lost every shilling which she had at her bankers’, but a considerable sum above it; not only that, but she had raised large sums at different times of late, which if she paid the principal would absorb the whole of her property. Should she pay her debts of honour, or buy the lottery tickets? Mr Flockton’s confident and glowing descriptions decided her on the latter course. When she got the lottery prize she would satisfy the debts she had incurred at cards. She took the tickets Mr Flockton offered, giving him a cheque, which left her scarcely more that 50 pounds at her bankers’. Her greatest annoyance arose from her thus being unable to indulge in gambling till the day for drawing the lottery. Mr Flockton handing the tickets to her ladyship, and buttoning up the cheque, took his departure.

Scarcely had he gone, when a servant entered with an announcement that a person of a very suspicious appearance desired to see her ladyship. “I told him, my lady, that you were engaged, but he would take no denial.”

Lady Tryon, who was constitutionally brave, having Harry by her side, desired that the man might be shown up. He entered the room with a confident air, though perfectly respectful, and presented an official-looking document.

“Why, it’s to summon me to Bow Street police-office for gambling!” exclaimed Lady Tryon. “What is this? Are ladies and gentlemen not to be allowed to amuse themselves if they think fit?”

“I have nothing to do with that, my lady,” answered the man, “I have delivered the summons; this young gentleman and your servant are witness to that; the hour is mentioned on the paper. I’ve done my duty, I wish your ladyship good-morning.”

“Fearful impertinence!” exclaimed Lady Tryon. “What is the country coming to? Ladies of rank to be treated like criminals, and ordered about at the pleasure of police magistrates!”

Harry was naturally considerably annoyed, at the same time he could not forget the scene of the previous evening, and he had heard that some very just enactments had lately been passed to put a stop to gambling, both public and private.

“I will go instead of you,” he said, “if that will answer.”

“No, I must go myself,” she said, looking at the paper through her spectacles. “Fearful impertinence of these people! Horrible indignity to be subjected to!”

At the time appointed Lady Tryon drove up to the police-office. Several carriages were already there, their occupants fashionably-dressed ladies. Lady Tryon recognised them as her acquaintances, with whom she had played at Lady Buckinghamshire’s. The gentleman who had acted as croupier, and kept the faro-table, was among them. They entered together, looking very hot and very indignant; they were accommodated with seats while the evidence was read. The witnesses against them were two servants, who had been dismissed from her ladyship’s service, and had taken these means to revenge themselves. As these ladies of rank had no excuse to offer, and could not deny the charge, they were each fined 50 pounds, while the keeper of the table, a gentleman of fashion, had to pay 200 pounds as a punishment for his transgression of the law.

Lady Tryon drove back in even a worse temper than usual. The 50 pounds she was to pay was the remainder of the balance at her banker’s. She was now literally penniless unless her lottery tickets should turn up prizes. The eventful day of the drawing was looked forward to, not only by her, but by thousands more, with intense anxiety. At length it arrived. Harry set forth with his grandmother in her carriage. The evening before she had sent for the doctor, and procured a quieting potion. In truth she required it, for she looked very ill and excited. Harry saw her maid, by her directions, put into the pocket of the carriage two or three small bottles.

“They are little draughts which I may require, Harry, to keep me up. I am an old woman, you know, and my nerves are not as strong as they used to be.”

They drove on. The crowd increased as they proceeded westward, towards Guildhall. The great drawing was to take place there.

“We are certain, Harry, to obtain a prize; if not the 20,000 pound prize, a smaller one, at all events, and that will enable me to purchase a few more tickets for another lottery, or to set me up at the card-table again. If I get the 20,000 pound prize you shall have 1,000 pounds, I will promise you, to cut a figure with in town, and then to go down and marry pretty Mabel Everard. Ah, Harry! you are a fortunate fellow to have such a kind old grandmother as I am, and to be loved by such a sweet girl as Mabel. I know your secret; she loves you, you rogue, and you have only to ask her, and she will marry you at once. I can manage her father; he is a good-natured, easy man, and has a great respect for me.”

Thus Lady Tryon ran on; but she could not long keep her thoughts from the hope of the prize. As they passed by Saint Paul’s they found a dense crowd: every moment it increased. Besides a long string of carriages there were numberless people on foot: not only those who possessed tickets, and those who had ensured them, but the friends of the holders, and also many idlers who came to see the drawing, and not a few who were there to prey on the unwary, and pick their pockets literally and metaphorically. As much time would have been lost had the carriage attempted to reach Guildhall, Lady Tryon alighted in Cheapside, and leaning on the arm of her grandson, walked with eager steps towards the renowned hall. Harry felt her arm tremble as she hung heavily on his; but not a word did she utter. All her thoughts and feelings were absorbed in the prospect of the prize she hoped to obtain. Had he known more than he did, he would have understood how much hung upon it.

Chapter Ten.

Prize or Blank?

As they entered at the farther end of the vast hall, where civic fêtes and feasts were wont to take place, and the huge figures of Gog and Magog looked forth from their pedestals, it was already crowded. On either side were low galleries; one devoted to ladies, the other to gentlemen, while the centre was filled with a mixed multitude of every degree, among whom it was very evident that the pickpockets were already busy. All were looking up towards the farther end, where a large stage was erected. In the centre was a table, at which sat several grave personages—the commissioners of the lottery; while on either side were two large circular cases or wheels, in front of each of which stood a Bluecoat boy, from Christ’s Hospital, with the sleeves of their coats turned up. In front of the table were several clerks engaged in noting the proceedings of the day. At either end of the table stood a man, who with a loud voice cried forth the names of the numbers which were drawn at each turn of the wheel by the Bluecoat boys.

Lady Tryon pushed her way forward in the gallery that she might be as near as possible to the table. Harry had to leave her. He went round into the centre space, and stood under the part of the gallery where she at length found a seat. With trembling hands, Lady Tryon sat with the numbers of her tickets before her. She kept those also which she professed to give to Harry. As the numbers were loudly proclaimed a change came over the countenance of the eager spectators. When the tickets turned up blanks a look of satisfaction beamed on the faces of all, except the unhappy holder of the number, whereas when a prize was announced, each one present felt that his or her chance was lessened of obtaining the wished-for wealth. Sometimes a groan of despair succeeded the drawing of a number. To purchase that number yon wretched man has been hoarding perhaps for months past, nearly starving himself and those dependent on him, or may be he has been robbing his employer, intending to repay when he should become the possessor of the mighty prize which has been the dream of his midday thoughts and nightly slumbers for so many weeks past. Occasionally, at small intervals, shouts arose from a small group—they had divided the sixteenth part of a ticket among them, and it had turned up a prize. They might be seen shaking hands and laughing strangely, and running into each other’s arms, as their feelings prompted them. Too probably, however, the greater part of the amount would be spent in other tickets, to turn up blanks. A young man was there standing near Harry with haggard countenance, his eager eye fixed on the wheels. A number was cried out. He gazed at a paper before him and ran out, frantically striding his forehead. A pistol shot was heard outside the hall, but the sound scarcely moved one of the eager crowd. Harry afterwards heard that the young man had shot himself, utterly ruined. Such has been the fate of many a man after losing his all at a gambling-house. Such in reality was the use to which the Guildhall of London was at that time put. As the numbers were called out, Harry guessed by the expression of Lady Tryon’s countenance that one after the other of those she held in her hand had turned up blanks. Even the rouge on her cheeks could not conceal the deadly pallor which was creeping over her countenance. Her hands trembled more and more. She dropped paper after paper. At length she held but one in her hand. Some hours had already passed since they entered the hall: no wonder that she was fatigued. Each time another number was called out she glanced at her paper. And now, in the same indifferent voice as before, the crier announced another number. A piercing shriek was heard.

“The old lady has fainted!” cried some of the females in the gallery near her, and Harry saw his grandmother falling back from her chair.

“Help! help!” was cried. “She is dying!”

He made his way to the gallery and lifted her in his arms. Her head fell helplessly down; her hands drooped. One hand still grasped the paper which had been declared a blank. Not one of those females, most of them ladies of rank and supposed sensibility, offered him the slightest assistance. Their numbers had not yet been drawn, and they would not sacrifice a moment to assist a dying fellow-creature even of their own station in life. Harry exerted all his strength to get Lady Tryon out of the gallery.

“Is there no medical man who will assist me?” he cried out.

“I will, sir,” exclaimed a somewhat foppishly dressed individual, stepping forward.

“Stay, beware of him, he is a pickpocket,” said a voice near him.

Harry declined the services of the stranger.

No medical man came forward. A crowd, however, collected round him, and even before his eyes he saw the brooch and chains which his grandmother wore torn off and carried away by nimble fingers, at which he in vain attempted to grasp. “It matters little,” he thought, “she will never discover her loss.” He hoped to be able to carry her to her carriage, and as the crowd at last made way for him he bore her along the street. Fortunately he soon caught sight of the livery of her coachman. She was placed in her carriage, and Harry took his seat by her side, telling the coachman to stop at the first doctor’s shop they came to. The carriage soon stopped in front of a window full of bright-coloured liquids, and before Harry had time even to get out, a gentleman bustled up to the carriage door.

“Can I render any professional assistance?” he asked, looking in.

“Yes,” exclaimed Harry; “what can be done for this lady?”

“Will she step out?” asked the medical practitioner.

“She is unable, sir,” said Harry.

“Oh! I beg pardon; I will feel her pulse,” was the rejoinder. The apothecary made a long face.

“Why, do you know, sir, the old lady is dead!” he exclaimed, rather offended at Harry having brought him out to a dead patient. “I can do nothing for her, sir.”

“Dead!” exclaimed Harry, with a feeling of horror. “Are you sure that she is dead?”

“Never was more sure of a fact in my life, sir. You can send for her executors and the undertaker when you get home; that is the only advice I can give you.”

Harry told the coachman to drive on. “But do I not owe you a fee, sir, for your trouble?”

“Oh, no, sir, no; that would be too much,” said the apothecary, thinking that he had been too plain-spoken with the young man, who might possibly be a relative of the old lady, though he was somewhat young to be her son.

Harry fortunately recollected Lady Tryon’s man of business. He sent for him, as he did also for Mr Kyffin.

“I will leave you still here,” said his old friend, who came that very evening, “and when your grandmother’s affairs have been arranged you must come to my house. I hope that you will find yourself left comfortably off. Let me entreat you not to be idle, Harry; it is the very worst employment a man can engage in.” Harry shook his head. “I doubt my being well off,” he answered. “We will hope for the best,” said Mr Kyffin. Harry had good reason for his doubts. Even before his grandmother’s body was placed in her coffin, an execution was put into the house. Every article in it was seized by her creditors, and even after all her property had been disposed of, many were still left unpaid. Harry was literally destitute. For himself he would not have felt it so much, but it was a cruel thought that he must relinquish all his hopes of obtaining Mabel. He had, however, one firm friend.

“My dear boy,” said Mr Kyffin, “this may be, after all, the best thing that could have happened to you. Had your grandmother left you well off you might have turned out an idler. I have sufficient influence, I think, with your relative, Mr Coppinger, to obtain a situation for you in his house of business. The very fact that your unhappy grandmother has deceived you and left you totally unprovided for will weigh greatly with him.”

Harry wrote immediately to his great-uncle, Mr Coppinger, and other relatives, announcing his grandmother’s death. The following day the merchant appeared. He spoke kindly to Harry, and seemed satisfied with the way he expressed himself.

“I have seen so little of my sister for so many years that I know nothing of her affairs,” he observed, “but from what you tell me I am afraid that they are not in a satisfactory condition.”

Harry, at that time, was not aware how utterly his grandmother had ruined herself. In a very few days, however, the merchant discovered that his sister had not left sufficient to pay her debts.

“However, it cannot be helped now. We must have as quiet a funeral as possible, and the less said about the matter the better. I am not surprised, as I heard something about her habits; but for you I am sorry, Harry. However, you are young, and the world is before you. If you are disposed to work you can make your way, as many an honest steady man has done, with fewer abilities than you possess, I suspect.”

Harry assured his uncle that he was ready to work, but though he might have preferred entering the army or navy, he saw now clearly that he must attempt some career by which he might maintain himself.

“Well, I will talk the matter over with your friend Mr Kyffin, and he will communicate the result to you,” said Mr Coppinger.

The people of Lynderton were greatly disappointed, and considered that they had a right to complain of Lady Tryon when they discovered that she was not to be interred in their churchyard with the usual pomp-and-ceremony of persons of her position. Instead of that, she was laid to rest in the burying-ground of the parish in which she died. Still more aggrieved were her creditors when they found they had to accept only five shillings in the pound, and that they might consider themselves very fortunate in obtaining that amount.

Roger Kyffin insisted on his young ward coming to live with him, and as soon as the creditors had taken charge of the house, Harry Tryon packed up his small possessions and removed to Hampstead.

“It is all arranged, Harry,” said Mr Kyffin, the following day; “your uncle will receive you as a clerk at a salary of 100 pounds a year. It is a very good one, let me assure you, for a beginner. Many a young man has to pay a large premium to be admitted into such a house; you may therefore consider yourself especially fortunate. All you have now to do is to be punctual, to be ready to do every thing you are required, and to forward to the utmost of your power your principal’s interest. Exactness is a great thing, and above all, rigidly honourable conduct. You will not discredit my recommendation, Harry, I feel sure of that.”

Chapter Eleven.

“Seeing Life in London.”

Harry accompanied his kind guardian into London the following day, and was introduced in due form to Mr Silas Sleech, one of the principal clerks under Mr Kyffin, as well as to the other persons engaged in Mr Coppinger’s counting-house in Idol Lane.

“You are welcome, Mr Tryon,” said Mr Sleech, with whom Harry found himself left for a short time. “I have heard of you before at Lynderton; indeed, I remember your countenance very well as a boy. You do not probably recollect me, however. Still you may possibly have heard the name of my respected father, one of the principal lawyers in Lynderton. We are a very well-connected family, but we do not boast of that here. While in this office, we are men of business; we sink every other character. You understand me, Mr Tryon, and if you are wise you will follow my advice. Here I am your superior and director, but outside this door we are equals, and I hope soon to say, we are friends.”

Harry watched Mr Sleech’s countenance while he spoke. He did not particularly like its expression. It was then animated and vivacious enough, but directly afterwards, when Mr Kyffin drew near, it assumed a peculiarly dull and inanimate look, as if he was absorbed completely in the books over which he was poring.

Mr Coppinger himself soon afterwards arrived, and called Harry into his private room. He spoke to him much in the same way that Mr Kyffin had done.

“You could not be in better hands than those of your guardian,” he observed. “However, as after a time you may grow tired of your daily walk backwards and forwards to Hampstead, you shall have the room over the counting-house, and I shall be happy to see you at my house, where you can become better acquainted with your cousins.”

Harry thanked his uncle for his kindness, and expressed a hope that he should be attentive to business. The first moment he had time he wrote to Mabel, telling her of his good fortune in having a situation given him in Mr Coppinger’s house. He had previously written in a very different tone, giving an account of his grandmother’s death, and the penury in which she had left him. He had not, however, told Mabel that he would release her from her engagement to him. While any hope yet lingered in his bosom he could not bring himself to do that. Now he was once more in spirits, and he felt sure that fortune would smile on him. He had never told Mabel that it was very possible Mr Kyffin might leave him his property. He had determined never to build on such a possibility. In the first place, Mr Kyffin was not an old man, and might live for many years, or he might have relatives who had claims on him, or he might not consider it necessary, simply because he was his ward, to leave him anything.

What a blessed thing is hope, even in regard to mere mundane matters. Harry had at this time nothing else to live upon. After all the grand expectations he had enjoyed, to find himself at last only a merchant’s clerk with 100 pounds a year! Roger Kyffin’s society might possibly have been more improving to Harry than that of his grandmother. At the same time, after a few weeks, it must be owned that Harry began to wish for a little change. Roger Kyffin had been in the habit of living a good deal by himself, and had not many acquaintances in the immediate neighbourhood. Now and then a few friends came to dine with him, but he seemed to think it a mark of respect to Harry’s grandmother not to see any society at his house for the first two or three weeks after her death.

Mr Coppinger invited him to dinner the following day. He was to sleep at the counting-house, where a room had been prepared for him, which he could occupy whenever he pleased.

“You may wish to see a little more of London and your friends,” said Mr Coppinger, “and you can scarcely do so if you go out to Hampstead every evening.”

Harry of course thanked his uncle for his consideration, and the next, day prepared with some little interest to pay his respects to his unknown cousins.

Although at that time many persons dined early, the custom of late dinners was being generally introduced. Harry arranged his toilet with more than usual care, and somewhat before the hour of five took his way to his uncle’s house in Broad Street. It was a handsome mansion. As Harry knocked, the door flew open, and a couple of livery servants with powdered hair stood ready to receive him, and take his hat and cloak. He followed the servant up-stairs, and was ushered into a large drawing-room. A lady came forward, not very young, according to his idea, but fair and good-looking, with a somewhat full figure, and a pleasant expression of countenance.

“And are you our cousin Harry?” she said, putting out her hand. “Why did you not come before? We heard about you, and are very glad at last to make your acquaintance.”

“I scarcely liked to come without my uncle’s invitation,” said Harry, “but am very happy to have the opportunity of making his daughter’s acquaintance. I conclude that you are Miss Coppinger.”

“Yes, I am generally so called,” answered the young lady, “but I am your cousin Martha, remember that. You must not be formal with us. My younger sisters may encourage you to be so, but you must not attend to their nonsense.”

“I should like to know something about them,” said Harry, feeling himself quite at home with Martha, evidently a kind and sensible woman, and, as people would say, a bit of a character.

“That’s very sensible in you, Harry,” she answered. “Fortunately they have been all out, and only lately went up to dress, so that I shall have time to tell you about them. Next to me there is Susan—she is like me in most respects, and some people take us for twins. However, she really is two years younger. Then there is Mary. She has only one fault. She is somewhat sentimental, and too fond of poetry—reads Cowper and Crabbe, and Miss Burney’s novels, half-bound volumes in marble covers. She sighs over Evelina, and goes into raptures with Clarissa. She is dark, thin, and slight, not a bit like Susan and me. Then there is Maria Jane. She is fair and addicted to laughing, and very good-natured, and not a bit sentimental. Then there is Estella. Harry, you must take care of her. She is something like Mary, but more lively and more practical too. Mary lives in an idea of her own: Estella carries out her romantic notions. Then there is our youngest sister, Sybella, or baby we always used to call her, but she rather objects to the appellation. You must find out about her yourself. There, now you know us all. You are known to us, so you will find yourself perfectly at home by the time you see us assembled round the dinner-table. As we have no brothers we shall make a great deal of you, and take care that you are not spoilt. Above all things, don’t fall in love. You will become hideous and useless if you do. I don’t at all approve of the passion, except when exhibited in gentlemen of comfortable incomes, nor does papa. I warn you of that, so if you wish to take advantage of such hospitality as we can afford you—and we really desire to be kind—you have been cautioned and must act accordingly.”

Harry cordially thanked Martha for the description of her sisters, and with perfect sincerity promised to follow her advice. It showed him that she, at all events, was not aware of his love for Mabel, and though he thought her a very good-natured woman, he had no intention of making her his confidant on that matter.

Harry had soon the opportunity of discovering the correctness of her description of her sisters. The youngest came in last. There was a considerable amount of beauty among them, so that they passed for a family of pretty girls, but when he saw Sybella, he at once acknowledged that she surpassed them all.

She was a bright little fairy, just entering womanhood. Curiously like Mabel, so he thought: indeed, he would not otherwise have admired her so much.

“I am not surprised that Martha warned me,” he thought to himself. “If it were not for Mabel, I should certainly have fallen in love with that little girl, and yet Mabel is her superior in many ways; I am sure of that.”

They were seated at the dinner-table when these thoughts came into Master Harry’s head. Sybella’s eyes met his. She blushed. Could she have divined his thoughts?

His uncle was very kind. No man indeed appeared to better advantage at his dinner-table than did Mr Coppinger. He at once made Harry feel perfectly at home, and as his cousins addressed him by his Christian name, he soon found himself calling them by theirs in return.

“We must make a great deal of use of you, Harry,” said Miss Coppinger. “We sadly want a beau to accompany us in the evenings when we go out. Father cannot often come with us. He comes home tired from business. We six spinsters have consequently to spend most of our time in solitude.”

“You do not look as if you had often been melancholy,” said Harry. “However, I shall be very happy to be at your service whenever you choose to command me.”

“Very prettily spoken,” answered Martha.

When Harry glanced round at his six blooming cousins he felt that they were not likely often to be left in solitude. There were a few other guests at table—Alderman Bycroft and his wife and daughter; one a full-blown rose, the other a bursting bud, giving promise of the same full proportions as her mother.

There was a young gentleman, the son of a wealthy distiller, dressed in the height of fashion, who seemed to consider that he was greatly honouring Mr Coppinger’s family by his presence, and there was another youth of unpretending appearance, who looked as if he felt himself highly honoured by the invitation, though he had in reality taken a high degree at the University, and was the descendant of a long line of proud ancestors.

The distiller, Mr Gilby, was inclined to patronise Harry, especially when he heard Lady Tryon spoken of.

“I will show you a little of London life, my boy,” he whispered. “You know nothing of it as yet, and unless you had a friend like me to introduce you, you might live ten years here and know no more of the ins and outs and doings of this great city than you do now.”

“Mr Tryon would thereby, I suspect, be more fortunate than if he were introduced to the ways of London as you suggest,” observed Mr Pennant, the pale-faced young student.

“I hope you enjoyed your dinner at your uncle’s, yesterday,” said Mr Silas Sleech, as Harry took his seat near him at his office desk the next morning. “Fine girls your cousins, don’t you think? I dine there sometimes, and I then always mind my P’s and Q’s. I flatter myself I stand well there with the fairer portion of the family, and of course our principal has a great respect for my uprightness and integrity,” and a curious leer came into Mr Sleech’s eyes which he could not repress. “Who was there, Tryon?”

Harry told him.

“Oh! young Gilby! was he? He’s a rollicking blade. He offered to introduce you into London society, did he? Why, he knows nothing about it. Do not trust him. He would only take you to a few low haunts, where you would see enough certainly of what he calls life. He invited you to dine with him a week hence, did he? Well, then, come with me to-night, and before that time I will enable you to show him that you know far more of London life than he does. But, mum, here comes your respected guardian, Mr Roger Kyffin. Will this pen suit you, Mr Tryon?” he said, in a loud voice. “A good handwriting is an important matter in the qualifications of a young clerk.”

Harry scarcely knew what to think of Silas Sleech. His manner offended him, but he seemed good-natured and obliging; so he thought to himself, “I will take him as I find him, and he is more likely to initiate me into real London life than that young fop Gilby.” Harry agreed, therefore, to dine with Mr Sleech that evening at a coffee-house, and to accompany him afterwards to some place of amusement.

Harry Tryon was not a hero of romance. He had never got into any serious scrape, but then he had not been much tempted. He was now to be left very much to his own resources. His kind guardian had formed a higher opinion of him than he perhaps deserved. He also held Mr Sleech in considerable esteem. It is surprising that he did so, but the fact was, that that individual was a most consummate hypocrite—he otherwise would not certainly have deceived such acute observers as Mr Coppinger and his managing clerk. Harry could not have met with a worse person as a companion in London. Young Gilby might have led him into scrapes, while the other, by imbuing him with his own principles, and introducing him to profligates and designing knaves, might injure his future prospects, and destroy him body and soul, as many another young man has been destroyed. Harry, when he accepted Mr Sleech’s proffered civilities, had no conception of the dangerous course into which he was about to lead him. He remembered old Sleech at Lynderton, a smooth-spoken, oily-tongued, civil gentleman, profuse in his bows to gentlemen on horseback or ladies in their carriages, but very apt to button up his breeches pockets at the approach of a supplicant. As to his character he knew nothing, except that he was looked upon as a lawyer of sharp practice. Once upon a time Harry would not have wished to be seen walking down Lynderton Street in company with Silas Sleech, but now things were altered. In London people needed not to be so particular as to their associates.

As soon as the counting-house was closed, Harry set off with Silas Sleech to the West End. That first evening was spent in a way that even Roger Kyffin, had he made enquiries, would probably have approved. They had been to the play, and afterwards supped at a respectable chop-house, frequented by several actors, authors, and wits. Silas Sleech even suggested that Harry should mention it to his guardian.

“I don’t often go to such places myself, you see,” he observed afterwards to Mr Kyffin, “but I thought that Harry would require something to divert his mind, and I rather put myself out of the way to amuse him.”

Mr Kyffin begged that Mr Sleech would in future take no trouble on that score; and at the same time he did not wish to shut Harry up altogether, and was much obliged to him for what he had done.

“You were always kind and wise, sir,” said Mr Sleech, in his softest tone; “it is really a pleasure to me to enter into such scenes for the sake of our young friend, otherwise I confess that more sober amusements suit me best.”

It was strange, however, that Mr Sleech should press Harry the following evening to spend it precisely in the same way as the former, though the house to which he took him after the play was of a somewhat different character from that of the previous evening. He observed the guests occasionally slipping out of the public room and going up-stairs.

“I should like to know what they are about,” said Mr Sleech to Harry; “what do you say, shall we try and get up?”

Harry, of course, had no objection.

“Follow me, then,” said Sleech; “I observed the turn the others took, and dare say that I can find my way.”

Mr Sleech had no difficulty, although there were several dark passages and a flight or two of stairs to be passed. At length a light fell on their faces from an opening in the upper part of the wall. Mr Sleech uttered a few strange words, and a door, hitherto invisible, opening, he drew Harry through it. Another passage and another door were passed through, and they found themselves in a room of considerable size, in which a number of people were assembled round a table on which dice were rattling, and a gentleman with a long stick was drawing up towards him small piles of gold placed at the edge, and occasionally paying out others to some bystanders.

“Why, we have got into something like a hell,” whispered Mr Sleech to Harry. “I had no idea of the sort of place we were coming to. However, now we are here, let us stop and see the fun; it seems very exciting. See how eager these men watch the throws. I say, I feel quite a longing to have a cast myself; it is not a right thing to do, but when one once is in such a place it cannot much matter.”

“I would rather look on,” said Harry.

“So, of course, would I, generally,” said Sleech; “still it won’t do to be here long without having a throw now and then; but still it is better you should keep to your good resolution. If you like to take any refreshment, you will find plenty of it on the sideboard there. You will have nothing to pay; and if it is necessary I will see about that.”

Harry watched the proceedings for some time. He had too often, when with Lady Tryon, witnessed play going forward in private not to be too well acquainted with all the games in vogue. By degrees, therefore, his interest was aroused. Silas Sleech seemed unable any longer to resist the influence, and soon, pulling out some gold, he began to bet as the rest of the guests were doing. He was the winner of a considerable sum. Coming round to Harry, he put ten guineas into his hand. “There, my boy,” he said, “just try your luck with this; if you are the winner you can pay me, if not, never mind. It’s luck’s profits, so I shall not feel the loss.”

Harry hesitated. He had no love for gambling, and he knew that his guardian would be sorry to hear that he had engaged in play. Sleech, however, urged him to go on. “You’re sure to win, and you’ll repent it if you go away without anything in your pocket.”

Thus persuaded, Harry staked a couple of guineas and won. He then staked five, and was also successful. He doubled his stakes—again he came off the winner. It would have been better for him had he lost. He was still moderate in his stakes—fortunately, for luck, as Sleech called it, began to go against him. However, he left off with 100 pounds in his pocket. Sleech congratulated him as they wound their way out of the room down-stairs again.

“It’s a nice little sum,” he whispered; “you see what can be done if a man is cool and calm; only there is one little piece of advice I wish to give you: Don’t mention the matter to Mr Kyffin. If he asks you, just say that you have been to the same sort of place that you went to yesterday, but that you have seen enough of that sort of thing for the present. You know that to-morrow you are engaged to Mr Coppinger’s; so you told me. So we cannot go again for some little time.”

His second dinner at his uncle’s went off as pleasantly as the first. His cousins even improved on acquaintance. Sybella especially made herself agreeable to him. She did not try; it was her artless, natural manner which was so attractive. She was a sweet little creature, there was no doubt about that, and had not his heart been already given to Mabel, he would certainly have lost it to her. The only other guest was Mr Gilby. He seemed to be a very frequent visitor at the house, but Harry could not discover which of his cousins was the attraction. Perhaps the young gentleman himself had not made up his mind. Mr Coppinger was kind and courteous, but treated Harry with quite as much attention as he did the wealthy Mr Gilby. Indeed, that gentleman knew perfectly well that, should he wish to secure him for one of his daughters, the surest way to succeed would be to show perfect indifference about the matter. Harry was somewhat surprised at the interest his cousins took in the descriptions Mr Gilby gave of some of his exploits. He himself had never seen the fun of knocking down watchmen, running off with their rattles, and rousing up medical practitioners from their midnight slumbers, or calling reverend gentlemen out of their beds to visit dying people. By his own account, also, he had the entrée behind the scenes at all the theatres, and in many of them his chair upon the stage. He was a regular frequenter of Newmarket and the principal races in the kingdom, and there were very few hells and gambling-houses of every sort into which he had not found his way. He, however, seemed to be aware that Mr Coppinger could not approve of this part of his proceedings, and therefore only spoke of them out of hearing of his host. He seemed to look down with supreme contempt on Harry, who had not such experiences to talk of, and again offered to introduce him into life.

“Thank you,” said Harry; “but you see I have become a man of business, and have very little time to spare for those sort of amusements; besides, I confess I care very little about them.”

“Well, you must take your own way,” answered the young gentleman, “though I must say I don’t think a young fellow of spirit would be content to live the humdrum life you do; or perhaps ‘still waters run deep,’ eh? that’s it, is it not?”

Wherever Harry had been on the previous night, or however late he had been in bed, he was always at his desk directly the office was open, and he also got through his work very much to Roger Kyffin’s satisfaction. Silas Sleech also always praised him. He told him also, should he find any difficulty, to come to him, and on several occasions Harry had to take advantage of his offer. His uncle, after some months, spoke approvingly to him. “You will, I have great hopes, in time be fitted to fulfil an important post in my office, from the reports I hear of you, and the way in which I see you get on with your work. You have your own fortune in your own hands, Harry, and I see no reason why you should not make it. Your success is secure if you go on as you have begun.”

Harry was not happy, however. He had great doubts on that subject. Mr Silas Sleech had been more cautious in his proceedings. He suspected that Harry might easily have been alarmed had he attempted to initiate him too rapidly into London life. For several weeks he did not take Harry to the gaming-house into which he had before introduced him. Indeed, sometimes he declined taking him out at all.

“It won’t do, my boy,” he said; “you are knocking yourself up with dissipation, and I am afraid you will get a taste for those sort of things if I take you out too often. Why you won more money last night than I have pocketed for months together. ‘The pitcher which goes too often to the well gets broken,’ and if you don’t take care you will have a run of ill-luck, and if you lose, where is the money to come from to pay your debts of honour?”

By these remarks it will be understood that Harry Tryon had not resisted the temptations to play which Silas had placed in his way, but as he had come off the gainer hitherto, he had in consequence suffered no inconvenience. He had been too much accustomed to see his grandmother replenish her purse in that way to feel acutely any sense of shame at depriving others of their property, which happily keeps some high-minded men from the vice. Silas Sleech had other baits by which he hoped to obtain entire power over his young companion. There was one, however, with which he entirely failed, Harry would never be allured by meretricious beauty. Silas was puzzled. He took good care to conceal his own sins from public view.

“The young one is deep,” he thought to himself. “He knows what he’s about, I am pretty sure of that.”

Harry, though duped by Silas, had never made him his confidant. He saw that Harry delighted in excitement, and took him once or twice to hear the debates in the House of Commons. They were pretty stormy sometimes, when Fox, and Pitt, and Wyndham were on their feet. Silas professed to be a “friend of the people.” Harry’s generous heart rose in rebellion against anything like tyranny and oppression, and Silas easily persuaded him that the French Revolution had been brought about by the tyrannical way in which the aristocracy had treated the people.

“Let me ask you, Harry,” he said, “are not our own people treated very much in the same way? Look at our ill-fed, ill-clad soldiers, robbed on all sides, and left to perish like dogs from neglect. Then see our sailors. Were you ever on board a man-of-war, Harry? I have been. Just see the tough dry meat, and weevily biscuit they are fed with; the fearful way in which they are flogged for the slightest offence, at the will, often capricious, of their captains; the little care taken of them in sickness; the ill-paid, half-educated men sent out as surgeons; and the wretched pensions they receive after, if they escape death, when wounded in battle.”

So Silas talked on. There was much truth in what he said, but his statements were often exaggerated.

“However, I am but a poor speaker, Harry,” he said; “come with me some evening, and you shall hear all that I have said put forth far more forcibly, and in far better language. Don’t tell old Kyffin where you have been, that’s all. He holds to old-fangled notions, and has no faith in Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality. We will look in first at two or three of the clubs to which I belong, and there’s no reason why he should not suppose that you have been to one of those. There’s the Hums’; you remember my taking you there, at the Blue Posts, in Covent Garden, and the ‘Rights of Man’ Club. I have belonged to that since I came to town. Then we can look in at the Pearl Drinkers’, and if by chance our friend presses you, tell him what you saw there. He probably does not guess that I belong to more than one quiet club, and he may be a little astonished at first, but that won’t matter. He has no power over me out of the office. Mr Coppinger knows my merits, I flatter myself, too much to dispense with my services at Mr Roger Kyffin’s bidding.”

“I don’t like those remarks,” thought Harry to himself. “Ought I to go with this man?”

He very often had thought as much, and yet had followed Sleech’s lead. The day’s work was over. Harry had thought of proposing to walk home with Mr Kyffin, but he went out, and had no opportunity afterwards of speaking to him. Was Roger Kyffin pleased with his ward? Not altogether. He thought that he spent too much time in going to places of public amusement. He might more frequently have offered to go out to Hampstead. Still he did not like to lecture the young man.

“When I was young I should not have been contented with what now pleases me. Harry will soon have had enough of this sort of life, and then will take to more useful pastimes.”

“Come, Harry, let’s be off,” said Mr Sleech, taking him by the arm.

Harry did not resist. Mr Sleech gave him a capital dinner at the “Blue Posts,” and looked in afterwards at the “Pearl Drinkers’ Club.”

“Come now,” he said, “we will steer for the ‘Saracen’s Head,’ Gerard Street, Soho. I will introduce you there to some liberal-minded men, who will make you open your eyes a little.”

Mr Sleech was a rapid walker, and they quickly got over the ground. Giving his name, they were admitted into a large room, already full of persons. A considerable number were young men, but there were some already advanced in life. In address and appearance the greater number had imitated the French Republicans, while all, as a sign of their liberality, kept on their hats. A young man was on his legs, his hair escaping from under his hat, hanging over his shoulders. His eyes rolled wildly, while he flung his arms about in every direction, every now and then bringing his doubled fist down upon the palm of his other hand. His oratory was fluent and bold.

“The past must be buried in oblivion!” he exclaimed. “We dare not look at it. A hideous system of the domination of one class over the souls and minds and bodies of the vast majority. A new era must be organised, but before a better system can be raised up, the ancient must be levelled with the dust. On a new foundation—the whole of the people—we must build up a glorious temple, a superb superstructure, in which people of all nations, united in the bonds of fraternity, must come and worship together the great Goddess of Reason.”

Chapter Twelve.

In Dangerous Company.

Harry’s visit to the Jacobin Club was several times repeated. He met there more than one man of note. The members were, however, chiefly those who, carried away by their ardent love of freedom, which in France had degenerated into unbridled licence, and their hatred of tyranny, failed to perceive the happy mean where a settled government and just laws exist.

It would have been surprising had Harry not felt somewhat of the enthusiasm of the speakers. Silas Sleech only once or twice took a part in the debates, and on these occasions he advocated the most extreme measures; and although the assassination of the King of England was not mentioned, the regicides of the first Charles were lauded to the skies, as among the truest patriots of which history makes note.

“I wonder what your old mentor would say, if he heard of your attending our meetings,” said Sleech, as they were walking home. “However, it’s your own fault if he finds out. To-morrow we’ll play a different sort of game. I am sadly in want of a few hundred pounds, and I have an idea that I shall get them; if you will stand by me, Harry, I will explain matters you by-and-bye.”

The next evening Silas led Harry to one of the haunts which they had of late frequented. They entered in the same cautious way as before. At that time the police were actively engaged in endeavouring to destroy the numerous gambling-houses, not improperly known as hells, in London. Harry knew very well that he had no business to be there, and nearly every day he persuaded himself that he would refuse to go again; but as the evening came round, the tempter’s persuasion overcame his scruples. On this occasion a considerable number of well-dressed men were present, many of them evidently men of rank and position. If they went, why should not he? He had hitherto been wonderfully successful, and he had made up his mind not to stake more than he had won. There was an abundance of sparkling wine and other refreshments on the sideboard. The room also was brilliantly lighted with wax candles, and Harry felt himself in remarkably good spirits. Silas was already playing, and placing somewhat heavy stakes on the table. Harry approached him, and followed the example of his friend. Fortune seemed to have turned against him. He lost stake after stake. Still Silas signed to him to go on; a strange infatuation seized him. He lost still more. Suddenly he looked up, when he saw the countenance of young Gilby, who was watching him narrowly. The young man came round to him, and placed his hand on his shoulder.

”‘Still waters run deep,’ old boy. I thought so,” he whispered. “I am glad to see you are not such a muff as I took you for. I don’t know what our friends in Broad Street would say to you, if they saw you here. However, mum’s the word with me. Go on and prosper.”

Harry felt himself abashed. He could make no reply.

“If one or two hundred pounds are of any use to you, you are welcome to them, young one,” said Gilby, in a tone which he intended to be good-natured.

“No, thank you,” said Harry; “I don’t intend to lose more than my purse can bear.”

“Oh, oh! the young one has a touch of pride about him!” Gilby whispered, loud enough, however, for Harry to hear him.

Harry drew out his last five guineas. He staked them and lost. Sleech came up to him, and put a roll of gold into his hand.

“You can pay me at your convenience. Don’t stop now, or it would ruin all.”

Harry fully believed that he should recover his loss. One hundred, two hundred pounds soon went. Again Sleech was by his side, and repeated his offer.

“Nonsense; I will take no refusal.”

Harry took the gold and lost it. He retained his countenance wonderfully. Gilby smiled.

“You had better borrow of me,” he whispered.

“No, thank you; my friend has my purse,” answered Harry, with a certain amount of prevarication.

It was getting late. Harry lost still more. Sleech poured out a tumbler of wine, which Harry tossed off. Silas led him away to a desk in a recess.

“Here,” he said, “between friends we do not want acknowledgment, but business is business.”

Harry signed the paper put before him.

“You need not be afraid of being cross-questioned, Harry,” observed Silas, as they walked home. “It is a comfort to think that your straight-laced guardian is safe across the seas in old Ireland. I am afraid you would think I was talking blasphemy, if I was to pray that he might never come back again, always provided he has left you his heir, which I have an idea he intends to do. In that case, my boy, we each should benefit. You would get his fortune, and I should step into his shoes.”

“Don’t talk so, Sleech,” said Harry. “He’s the best friend I ever had, and I don’t expect to get another like him; and as to his fortune, I pray that he may live to a green old age, and enjoy it himself. I only hope you were joking.” And Harry felt himself getting angry, not the less so that he could not help secretly acknowledging that he had been led by the nose by such an arch-hypocrite as Sleech.

“Of course, of course, I was joking,” said that individual, in the bland tone he could so well assume. “There’s no man I esteem more than our managing clerk, Mr Kyffin, and I admire you for your affection for him, only I don’t think he would be quite satisfied if he knew the way you spend your spare hours.”

Some important business with regard to a heavy mortgage on an estate had taken Mr Kyffin to Ireland; and from the state of the country and other circumstances it seemed probable that he might be detained there for a considerable time. He little thought how serious an influence his absence would have in the destiny of the youth in whose welfare he was so deeply interested.

Not till the next morning did Harry reflect how completely he had put himself in Mr Sleech’s power. He was to dine that day at his uncle’s. He was far from happy; he felt ill; he looked pale. It was not surprising, for he had had but little sleep. His cousins rallied him.

“A London life does not seem to suit you,” said Mr Coppinger. “You stick closely to business, and I am pleased with your diligence. If you apply to me I will allow you a few days’ run down to Hampshire.”

Harry thanked his uncle. After dinner Mr Gilby left the table before the rest of the gentlemen. Harry followed some little time afterwards. When he got into the drawing-room he found Mr Gilby stationed before the young ladies, talking eagerly. Looking up, they saw him. They were silent. Harry heard his own name mentioned.

“I could not help it,” exclaimed Gilby, as he approached. “I have been telling them what a deep fellow you are, Tryon. Why, there’s not a more rollicking blade about town, I suspect, if we come to follow you into all your haunts. I have met you two or three times when you did not see me. Ah! ah! old boy. Well, don’t blush and be ashamed; I don’t set up to be straight-laced. I am not a punctual man of business, no prim knight in buckram.”

Harry felt very much annoyed, but he restrained his temper.

“Mr Gilby is making merry at my expense,” he remarked. “However, he is welcome to do so. I can only say that I wish I had never been to some of the places he speaks of. Until one has been to a place, one cannot tell that it is objectionable.”

Harry was beginning to practise some of the lessons in hypocrisy which he had learned from Silas Sleech. He was very uncomfortable all the rest of the evening. Gilby’s mocking eye constantly fell on him, and he fancied that even his cousins regarded him with looks of suspicion. He returned home. Silas Sleech was sitting up for him.

“I am glad you have come at last,” he said. “I have been fearfully troubled by a business of great importance, and I really do not know how to settle it. You can help me. Indeed, I rather think that you are bound to do so. I handed over to you a pretty large sum last night. I little thought that not twenty-four hours would pass before I myself should be in want of it.”

Sleech dropped his voice.

“Harry, you are a good, honest fellow. I must take you into my confidence. Don’t be horrified—I’m an utterly ruined man.”

“I’m sorry to hear it,” said Harry.

“There’s little use expressing sorrow unless you are disposed to help me. You can do it if you please, I can assure you. All I want you to do is to put your name to a few bits of paper and ask no questions. I know it’s like begging you to put unbounded confidence in me. Perhaps you will say I don’t deserve it, and yet I wish you knew my heart, Harry, how anxious I am to serve you.”

Several decanters stood on the table before Mr Sleech. Harry had already taken a good deal of wine at his uncle’s. Sleech urged him to take more. The weather was hot. He felt thirsty. Those were drinking days, the virtue of temperance was seldom inculcated. On the contrary, the more a man could drink, the better he was thought of by his ordinary companions. Sleech smiled as he saw Harry toss off tumbler after tumbler of wine. It was cool claret, and tasted like water. The tempter had now his victim more than ever in his hands. The papers were brought out. Harry put his name to several.

“I wish you could write old Kyffin’s name as well as you do your own,” observed Sleech, “or your uncle’s. I say, Harry, why were you not called Stephen Coppinger? Your grandmother’s name was Coppinger, wasn’t it? In my opinion it’s a better name than Tryon. Better, at all events, on ’change—Tryon’s not worth much there, I have a notion, and Coppinger is worth whatever amount Stephen Coppinger chooses to put above it. Don’t trouble yourself about that amount you owe me—a few hundreds only. You forget all about it now, very likely. However, just let me get these papers in circulation, and I will never trouble you again about it.”

“Give it me,” said Harry; “I wish I had never signed it,” a sudden flash of sense coming across his mind.

“So ho! boy, be calm, my dear fellow,” answered Sleech. “You will find that you have got to deal with your master.”

Harry Tryon never knew what papers he signed that fatal night, nor what names he had written on them. He had a faint idea that he had moved his hand according to Sleech’s guidance.

The next day Mr Sleech declared himself indisposed, and told Harry he should not go out that evening. They were alone in the office. It was the business of Mr Sleech to see it closed. Harry’s head ached fearfully. He had never felt so depressed. Several bills had come in, and he had already spent every farthing of his salary for the quarter. Silas Sleech approached him.

“I rather think, Harry Tryon, this is the last day you will be at this office—that is to say, if you take my advice.”

“What do you mean?” asked Harry.

“Why just this, my dear fellow, listen to reason. There are certain papers to which you have put your hand. These will be brought before your uncle in the course of a day or two, and will be strong evidence against you, that you have aided in a serious fraud. You are in my debt for 500 pounds. I have your acknowledgment. You owe your tailor and other tradesmen no small amount. Now, you don’t know Mr Coppinger as I do. When he finds all this out, he will come down upon you with a severity to which you are little accustomed. I tell you, Harry, he would, without the slightest compunction, have you shut up in Newgate, and see you sent to the scaffold, even though you were his own son, instead of his grand-nephew. Thus you see your character is blasted, and all hopes of success in business cut off.”

Harry had sat with his hands clenched and his eyes fixed on Silas Sleech while he made these remarks.

“Sleech, you are a villain!” he exclaimed with vehemence; “a cunning, hypocritical scoundrel!”

“Very likely,” answered the other. “Go on, young one, what else am I?”

“You have deceived me, and led me into all sorts of vice,” cried Harry, clenching his fist.

“You are quite right. You followed my lead. I had an object, and I have succeeded. I wished to ruin you in our worthy principal’s estimation, and you’ll find by to-morrow that he looks upon you as a hopeless profligate. You have no longer any chance of supplanting me. As to Mr Kyffin, I rather think that he will consider himself mistaken with regard to you, and that you will no longer as of yore be precious in his sight. Thus you see, Harry, I have check-mated you completely.”

“You have shown me clearly that I am a fool, and that you are a consummate villain,” exclaimed Harry. “I will acknowledge my own fault and exhibit your knavery.”

“As you please,” said Sleech, in an unmoved tone. “You must remember that in acknowledging your own folly you run the certainty of being convicted of felony. I have no especial personal dislike to you, except that I have reason to believe you a rival in more cases than one, and that you have been received on friendly terms by a family who have looked upon me, though a relative, with haughty contempt. You understand me, Harry Tryon. There is as good blood runs in my veins as in yours, and do you think with that knowledge that I would consent to be cut out and trampled upon without taking vengeance when I have it in my own power?”

“Sleech, are you in earnest in what you say?” asked Harry, almost aghast at this declaration of his companion. “You are either mad or a most fearful villain.”

“You have called me so twice already,” exclaimed Sleech, in the same cool tone; “I don’t mind it a bit. Again I say, stay if you like and brave your uncle’s anger. My character stands high with him, and I know too many of the secrets of the house for him to venture to quarrel with me, even should he wish it. You see I know the ground I stand on, and I again say, take your own course. It’s really a matter of indifference to me.”

Harry dared not longer trust himself with Sleech. Seizing his candle, he rushed up-stairs into his own room. What should he do? Had he known more of the world he would have remained, and, acknowledging everything he had done since he came to London, have repeated Mr Sleech’s threats; but he did not know the world, nor Mr Coppinger’s character, while he could not take advice of the friend who, he ought to have known, at all events, if he did not, would certainly have given him such advice as a wise father would give his best beloved son. For a long time Harry could not close his eyes. At length, overcome by the violence of his feelings, he dropped off to sleep. The shutters were not closed.

It will make matters more clear if the full amount of Silas Sleech’s villainy is explained. For several reasons he wished to get rid of Harry. He had induced him to put his signature to several I O U’s, not, however, to himself, but to different unknown persons. On a part of the very same paper he had himself forged Mr Coppinger’s signature in a way by which it would, he thought, make it evident that it had been written by Harry. This made him more than ever anxious to induce the young man to hurry away from London, knowing that his flight would assist in fixing the crime on him. Mr Kyffin’s absence would assist his object.

When Harry awoke the grey dawn was stealing into the room. He sprang up. On his table was a purse; it contained ten guineas. By it was a paper, on which was written, “Take the advice of a friend, and go!”

It was not signed, and the handwriting was disguised. “He has been too cunning to give me the slightest proof of his villainy,” he said to himself.

“Go I must, I see it too clearly, but I will write to Mr Kyffin, and tell him all.”

He packed a few articles of dress into a bag which he could easily carry, and taking a stout stick in his hand, left his room. He knocked at Sleech’s door as he went by.

“Close the door after me, I am going out,” he said.

“Ah! you are wise,” answered a voice from within.

Harry withdrew the bars and bolts. He waited outside till he heard them replaced. Few people were in the streets at that early hour. He walked on rapidly westward. He might be in time to catch the coach, which started at an early hour from Piccadilly. It would have carried him by night for a considerable part of the journey. He might hire a horse for the following day, or proceed on foot. He ran rather than walked along the streets; there were no hackney coaches out at that hour, and he had his legs alone to depend on. The heavy coach was beginning to move just as he reached its place of departure. There was one seat vacant. He had just time to climb into it, when the vehicle commenced its rumbling, rolling progress to the south-west. The inside, which carried six people, was full. One person sat by the coachman on the box, and four others were perched up behind him. Harry’s seat was facing the guard, who was known by the large red coat, ornamented by yellow lace, and the huge blunderbuss which was slung by his side. Harry was not inclined for conversation. The guard eyed him narrowly for some time.

“You are all right,” he said at last. “It is necessary to be awake, when people come as you did without booking their names. We were robbed three days ago by a gentleman on a fine horse, and even I took him for a nobleman, till he cried, ‘Stand and deliver,’ and somehow or other my blunderbuss would not go off, and the passengers inside only screamed and cried, and those outside only roared and swore. However, if I thought you were up to any tricks, I would just shoot you through the head with my blunderbuss, as if you were a savage beast in Exeter Change.”

Harry thanked the guard for his kind intentions, and begged that he would keep his ammunition for another object. As the coach moved along, during the day, Harry could not help looking out in the expectation of seeing a horseman in pursuit, sent by his uncle to bring him back. Again and again he cursed his folly and his weakness, for having yielded to the temptations thrown in his way by Silas Sleech. As the evening closed in, the heavily laden vehicle reached the end of its journey. It was the same inn at which he had stopped more than once with his grandmother, and the landlord recognised him. He had, therefore, no difficulty in obtaining a horse, by which he might proceed at a more rapid rate to Lynderton. He desired to be called before daylight, that he might start with the first streaks of dawn. What object was to be gained by his going to Lynderton? There was one person there, who he knew would, at all events, believe him innocent. He wished to tell Mabel of the trouble into which he had been plunged; to confess his folly, and to entreat her, whatever she might hear, not to think too ill of him. He would release her from her engagement, for what right had he, a penniless outcast, with his character blasted, still to hope to unite himself to one so lovely and pure, and the heiress of a good fortune. His heart might break in the struggle. He should never cease to love her, but free she must be. Before noon next day he was galloping along a green glade in the New Forest. He saw before him a horseman mounted on a stout cob proceeding at a leisurely pace. He was about to dart past the stranger, when turning round he caught a glimpse of features which he remembered well. They were those of Captain Falwasser, or rather of Captain Rochard. Supposing that he was not recognised he was going to pass on, when the captain hailed him.

“Harry Tryon, my lad, where are you going so fast? Is it your usual custom thus to cut old friends?”

Harry pulled up; an idea struck him.

“No, indeed,” he answered, “but I am afraid my old friends will cut me. Captain Falwasser, I am an unfortunate man. I am in great difficulties; I need not tell you what they are. I ask you, will you let me join your vessel as one of the crew, if you still command her? I care not where I go, but I want to leave England. I should be ready to start with you to-morrow, or the next day at the very furthest.”

“You seem in a desperate hurry to take a plunge into something, Harry,” answered Captain Falwasser.

“I know the world better than you do, so let me advise you to reflect well before you leap off firm ground. I would not ask what has gone wrong with you, but I will wager you are not worse off than hundreds of other young men have been. Some who took leaps in the dark are bitterly repenting their folly. Those who paused before they jumped are happy and prosperous. Think of what I say, my dear boy. Then, again, I cannot promise to receive you on board the lugger. I command her occasionally, I confess. I have my reasons for doing so, though I am not the lawless person you suppose. Some day you may know more about me than you do now. In the meantime, come and stay at my cottage on the borders of the forest, unless you are going to visit your friends at Lynderton.”

“Thank you,” said Harry, “I accept your offer, for my plans are very uncertain. All I want to do is to keep in hiding for some time. If you are not afraid of housing me, I shall be more secure with you than with anybody else.”

“I am obliged to you for your confidence,” answered the captain, “and as I do not believe you have been guilty of a felony, I will gladly afford you an asylum as long as you choose to take advantage of it. When I am absent, my old housekeeper, Dame Tricot, will look after you.”

The captain’s cottage was a very humble one. It stood deep back in a recess of the forest, and was built of yellow clay dug from a neighbouring pit, and thickly thatched with straw. It was, however, whitewashed. In front was a neat porch, over which clematis had been taught to climb, while the interior was fitted up with considerable attention to comfort, though it had but two apartments. One served as the kitchen and Dame Tricot’s dormitory, the other as the owner’s parlour and bedroom. Harry would have guessed by the appearance of the room that the occupier was a gentleman. On one side was a table with a handsome writing-desk. On the other, an easel with drawing apparatus. On the walls were several good pictures, and in the bookcase a few well-bound volumes. There was a table in the centre, which was large enough to admit of two or three persons sitting round it, while the narrow truckle bed in one corner showed that though the owner possessed refined tastes, his habits were far from luxurious.

Chapter Thirteen.

A Look at the Old Place.

A tidy, active, intelligent little woman placed a plain but abundant repast before the captain and his guest.

“I have taken to English customs,” said the captain, “and Dame Tricot is willing to please my taste, however much she may pity it. She cannot talk much English, but you may talk French to her, and if you make her your confidant I am sure that you will win her affections. There’s nothing an old woman likes so much as to be trusted by the young. I believe that if you had committed a highway robbery and confessed it to her she would not betray your confidence. I shall have to go into Lynderton, and perhaps shall not return for some days; but you can remain here, and I’m sure she will take very good care of you.”

Harry, however, was anxious to see Mabel. If he did not go at once, something might prevent him. He told the captain, therefore, that he wished to visit his friends at Stanmore.

“Ah! you’ll only find the colonel and Miss Everard there, for the captain has got a ship, and gone away again to sea. My young friend, the Baron de Ruvigny, is, I am told, a constant visitor there, undoubtedly attracted by the beaux yeux of Miss Mabel.”

Harry felt uncomfortable. He thought that his friend was wrong in his suspicions; at the same time, he did not like to hear them uttered. The captain agreed to take his horse to Lynderton that it might be sent back, while he proceeded on foot towards Stanmore. Harry set forth soon. From a height which he reached he saw the blue sea stretching before him, the rays of the setting sun lighting up the snowy cliffs of the western end of the Isle of Wight, which rose like a lofty buttress out of the glittering ocean. Several vessels were sailing in and out of the narrow passage between the island and the main land. Some with lofty canvas were standing out into mid channel, others were creeping along in shore, lest during darkness an enemy’s cruiser might approach and carry them off as prizes. He was about to take a cut across the fields, when he saw below him a figure sitting on a stile. A rich manly voice burst forth with a stave of a ditty—

“British sailors have a knack,
Haul away ye ho, boys,
Of hauling down a Frenchman’s Jack
’Gainst any one you know, boys.

“Come three to one, right sure am I
If we can’t beat them, still we’ll try
To make old England’s colours fly,
Haul away, haul away, haul away ye ho, boys.”

“That fellow has not much care at his heart,” thought Harry, rather disposed to avoid the singer.

Harry went on. He had, however, to ask him to move on one side to let him pass.

“With all the pleasure in my life, my hearty,” was the answer. “Why, Master Harry Tryon, on my life!” exclaimed the singer, as Harry jumped over the stile. “Stop, you are not going to cut an old friend, are you?”

“I should scarcely have known you, Jacob Tuttle, if you had not spoken to me,” said Harry, taking the seat the other had vacated; “you are grown into such a big burly fellow.”

“Yes; a life at sea browns a fellow’s phiz, and plenty of beef fills him out; not that ours isn’t often tough enough, and more likely covered the bones of an old horse than an ox. But where are you bound to, Master Harry?”

“I am going to pay a farewell visit to some friends, and then I have a great mind to go to sea. I am sick of a shore life, and wish I had gone three or four years ago.”

“Not too late now,” answered Tuttle. “You are rather old for an officer, and I suppose you would be too proud to go before the mast.”

“No, indeed I would not,” answered Harry. “I am ready to go anyhow. If I’m worth anything I hope to work my way up, as others have done, and if I am worth nothing I must take my chance with the rest.”

“Very rightly said, Harry; active hands like you are wanted. I am thinking of going to Portsmouth to look out for a ship, and if you take my advice you will volunteer on board the same. I will soon teach you your duties, and you will be a petty officer before many months are over. There were plenty of gentlemen’s sons on board the last ship I served in, or at all events they said they were. Some of them were pretty wild blades, to be sure, and were ‘King’s hard bargains;’ but that’s not your style, I have a notion, and so, as I said before, come along with me. I will rig you out as a seaman. And now I come to think on’t, you are a better one already than many a chap who has been two or three years afloat. There are some cut out for sailors, and there are others nothing can be made of.”

This proposition jumped exactly with Harry’s present notions.

“I have no time to lose,” said Harry, “and I want to get rid of my present long shore toggery as soon as possible.”

“Well, then, mate,” said Jacob, “my old mother’s cottage, where I am stopping, is not far from here, and if you like to come, I’ll rig you out in a seaman’s suit, which I only got the other day, and never yet put on. You can pay me for it or not, as you think fit; you are welcome to it, at all events.”

Rapid action was to Harry’s taste. Within half an hour of the time he fell in with Jacob Tuttle few would have recognised in the smart, young, sailor-like-looking lad, the sedate London-dressed merchant’s clerk. Harry felt freer than before in his new dress, and promising to return to old Dame Tuttle’s cottage, he hurried away towards Stanmore. It was dusk when he approached the house; but he knew every path and sylvan glade in the grounds, and had already thought of the best place in which to watch for a chance of meeting Mabel. By climbing a high paling he got round to the garden side of the house. Lights were in several windows. He could, he thought, approach the drawing-room—Mabel might be there alone. He would then ask her to come out and talk with him. The most secure approach to it was by a long straight avenue overshadowed by trees which led up one side of the grounds. He hurried along it, keeping as much as possible on the turf on one side, that he might run no risk of making a noise, when he heard footsteps approaching, and presently a man’s figure appeared in the centre of the walk. Who could it be? It might possibly, he thought, be the colonel, though it was not his custom to walk out at night. Harry drew behind a tree by which he was completely concealed. The person passed on, but so thick was the gloom that Harry could not distinguish his features. By his height it was certainly not the colonel. The person went up the avenue, then turned, and walked once more in the direction of the house. Harry did not move for fear of being discovered: he watched the person narrowly. A gleam of light came through an opening in the trees. He saw clearly the outline of the figure. His jealous feelings told him at once that it was the Baron de Ruvigny.

“I thought he loved poor Lucy,” he muttered to himself. “But Mabel! can it be to see her that he comes here? I might give her up for her own sake, but I would never yield her to a Frenchman.”

He came forward from his concealment, and confronted the young Frenchman.

“We don’t allow people in England to skulk about houses,” he whispered, seizing the young man’s arm.

“Why, I know that voice—you are Harry Tryon. Surely you would not mock me?” answered the baron, not attempting to withdraw his arm from Harry’s grasp.

“Mock you! no; but what brings you here? I ask,” exclaimed Harry. “I have a right to know that.”

“To indulge in my grief,” answered the baron. “I have lost one who had won my deepest affections, and I come here, like an uneasy spirit, to wander over the ground on which she trod. Harry Tryon, I thought you knew how I loved her.”

“I thought you did, and I now feel sure you did,” answered Harry, his anger vanishing. “You know also that I love her cousin; I wish even now to see her. I am very unhappy. I cannot venture into the house. Will you, therefore, act the part of a true friend, and bear a message from me to her? and also will you pass your word of honour not to try and win her affections during my absence? Your attentions might annoy her, and yet you might be tempted to pay them.”

“Again you mock me, Tryon,” said the young baron. “Can you suppose that my affections, which are buried in the grave of her sweet cousin, should so soon be restored to life? I will, however, give you my promise as you desire it.”

It is possible that the young baron’s affections were not so deeply buried as he supposed. However, he spoke with sincerity, and Harry believed him. He agreed to go round to the front door, and enter as an evening visitor, and to deliver Harry’s message, should he have an opportunity of doing so without being overheard by the colonel or Madame Everard.

Lucy had constructed an arbour with woodwork, interspersed with flowers and paths winding among it. A rustic bridge crossed a sparkling stream, which ran murmuring down in front towards the lake. There was but one approach, so that strangers could not easily find it. Here Harry begged that Mabel would come to him. He sat down in the bower, anxiously waiting her approach. More than once he started up, thinking that he heard her footsteps, but his senses had deceived him. At length he could restrain his anxiety no longer. Had the baron deceived him, or could not Mabel venture out? He wished he had not trusted to another person. He might have written, or he might, by watching patiently, have seen her during the day as she walked about the grounds. He was going once more towards the house, when he saw a figure coming along the gravel walk towards him. He was sure it was Mabel. At the risk of being mistaken he hurried to meet her.

“Speak, speak! Is it Miss Everard? is it Mabel?” he asked.

“Oh, Harry, your voice has relieved me, for not expecting to see you in the dress you wear, as the moonlight fell on you I feared that I might be mistaken. Oh! tell me, what has brought you down so suddenly. The Baron de Ruvigny’s manner made me very anxious.”

“Come and sit down here, and I will tell you all,” said Harry, taking her hand and leading her to the arbour. “I have folly to confess. I am lowered in my own sight, and I fear I must be in yours,” said Harry, in a trembling voice, very unlike his usual tone.

“What is it you have done?” asked Mabel, much agitated. “Nothing wrong, surely; nothing wrong?”

“Yes, I have done much that is wrong. I was wrong to trust to a false friend, to visit scenes of dissipation with him, to stake money I could not afford to lose, to lose my senses so as no longer to have command over my actions. He plied me with wine till I knew not what I was about, and during that time I put my name to papers which have brought irretrievable ruin on me. My honour, oh! Mabel, my honour is lost! No one will again trust me.”

“But who is the person of whom you speak, Harry? who could gain such influence over you—surely not Mr Kyffin?”

“Oh! no, no. Had I remained with him, this would not have happened. He is one whose name I scarcely like to mention to you, Mabel; for he is, I believe, related to you. He is Silas Sleech, the son of the lawyer at Lynderton.”

“Oh, he is a man I never could endure, even as a girl. His countenance alone made me always fancy he must be a hypocrite. But how could such a man gain an influence over you, Harry?”

Harry had to enter more into details than he had before done. Still, “blessed in the faith of woman,” Mabel could not believe him as guilty as he was inclined to consider himself.

“Such is my history,” he said at last, “since I parted from you; and now, Mabel, I come to set you free. I have no right to bind you to so lost, so penniless a wretch as I am; and yet with the thought that I might still be worthy of you, I feel confident that I could once more rise to a position in which I might be worthy of your love. I am still young. I have resolved to enter the navy, and work my way up to the quarter-deck. Once there, I may rise to the rank your father holds. He was a post-captain when still a young man, and why should not I be, Mabel?—fame and fortune are before me. For your sake I feel sure that I may achieve them. Mabel, it was this I came to tell you. I could not go away without seeing you, and bidding you farewell. Mabel, pray for me; pray that my life may be saved, and that I may win a name worthy to offer to you. Still believe me, I could love no one but you, though you are free.”

Neither spoke for some time.

“I dare not urge you to take any other course,” Mabel said at last, “but I wish you could have consulted my kind uncle. He is too ill, however, I fear, to see you; still, he would give you wise counsel, I am sure. I would rather, indeed, that you had remained in London, and, braving the anger of Mr Coppinger, have exposed the villainy of that wretched man, Silas Sleech.”

“It is too late now, Mabel,” said Harry; “there are many things I ought to have done, and ought not to have done.”

Much more the lovers spoke to the same effect. Mabel did not in any way express her thanks to Harry for offering to give her up. On the contrary, she spoke as if she was more firmly bound to him than ever.

At last, as they sat in the bower, forgetting everything else, the light of a lantern fell upon them. They started and saw before them the tall figure of Paul Gauntlet.

“Why, Master Harry, no one knew you were in these parts,” he said, letting the light of the lantern fall on his face; “but you should not have been keeping the young lady out so long as this. Miss Mabel, Madam Everard has been quite in a taking about you for the last quarter of an hour. You must come in at once, and wish this young gentleman good-bye, unless he wants to come in, too.”

Harry knew very well that the old soldier would not betray him if he put confidence in him. He therefore at once told him the reason of his visit to Stanmore.

“Ah! Master Harry,” said Paul, “the only advice I can give you is to come in and talk the matter over with the colonel. He will tell you what to do better than any other man. That’s more than I can do. I have learned to obey orders, and I know how to obey them, but I never was much of a hand at giving orders. You, Master Harry, as I say, just come and tell your troubles to the colonel. He is so wise and good that he is sure to show you the best thing to be done.”

“I cannot, I dare not tell the colonel,” answered Harry. “I thank you sincerely, Gauntlett, but you don’t know how he would look on these things.”

“Well, well, Mr Tryon, you must act as you think best, if you won’t take the advice of an old soldier who loves you as if you were his son.”

Saying this, Paul walked on ahead, as if to show the way with his lantern, though it is just possible he might have suspected the young people would rather be by themselves for a few minutes, without the bright light of his lantern falling on them.

When Paul got close to the house, he stopped, intending once more to urge his advice on Harry, but when he looked round Mabel was alone. Harry had bade her a hurried farewell and rushed off, unable any longer to trust his feelings, and unwilling to take the advice which he suspected the old soldier would again proffer.

Paul let Mabel come up with him before entering the house.

“Do you know where he has gone to, Miss Mabel?” he asked. “I am afraid he has got some wrong notion into his head, and will be doing something desperate when there’s no necessity for it. There are often two ways of looking at the same thing, and in my mind he has been looking the wrong way.”

“I think indeed that he has,” answered Mabel; “but I tried also to get him to speak to my uncle. His guardian, Mr Kyffin, is away in Ireland. I fear they are the only two people who could have persuaded him to act differently. He told me that he intended to remain for the night at the cottage of Dame Tuttle. You might find him there to-morrow morning, and perhaps his mind may by that time be calmer.”

Mabel found her aunt very anxious about her long absence. The baron had gone away some little time before she quitted the drawing-room, so that she knew that Mabel had not gone out to speak to him. She was so thankful, however, at seeing her back, that she did not press her with questions, merely observing: “Since that fearful evening, the commencement of poor Lucy’s illness, I have been so nervous, dear, that I am anxious even when you are more than a few minutes absent from me.”

Mabel, however, had no wish to conceal the fact of her having met Harry Tryon; for she knew that her aunt would sympathise with her in her sorrow. She felt somewhat relieved when she had told her grief; but though the two ladies talked the matter over, they could see no immediate way of extricating Harry from his difficulties. Mabel was for writing at once to Mr Kyffin. At length she bethought her of her godfather, Mr Thornborough. “He knows Mr Kyffin, Harry has told me, and he would be able to intercede both with him and Mr Coppinger.” Many other plans were thought of and discussed. The two ladies, however, agreed to wait till the following morning before they settled the one they would adopt.

Chapter Fourteen.

Manning the Navy in the Old Time.

Often during the night, as Harry lay on Widow Tuttle’s spare truckle bed, he repented him of his resolution to start off immediately to sea.

Common sense said, “Wait till you can hear from your kind guardian, or still better, till you have had an interview with him. Explain the state of the case clearly to Mr Coppinger, acknowledging that you were drunk, and put your name to papers with the contents of which you were not acquainted. Let him know that Silas Sleech is a consummate hypocrite, and in all probability a thorough rogue. Brave the worst. Surely nothing can be so bad as running away, and leaving your name and credit and character in the hands of such a fellow as Sleech, who has acknowledged himself your enemy, and who will, like his master—Satan—if you bravely face him, succumb before you.” Then rose up again Harry’s desire to go to sea, his dislike of having to acknowledge his weakness and folly to Mr Coppinger, and his doubts whether his uncle would believe his statements. Sleep scarcely visited his eyelids. He was just dozing off when he heard Tuttle’s rough voice exclaiming—

“Turn out there, mate, we’ll have some breakfast, and then be off before the sun’s up. We have a long voyage before us, and only our own legs to depend on.” Harry had wished to go to Portsmouth by sea.

“And I’ll tell you what would happen if we did,” said Jacob. “As soon as we set foot on shore the press-gang would be upon us, and whether we liked it or not would carry us on board their ship to serve his Majesty. I was very nearly caught once; had twenty fellows after me as hard as they could pelt. Fortunately it was dusk, and I bolted down an alley and into a court, and up a stair, and right under an old woman’s bed, and there I lay while the whole gang hunted about without finding me. I know a place or two where we can lie hid till we learn what ships are fitting out, and who are to command them. It’s a great thing to get a good captain, Harry. There are several captains I would like to sail with well enough; but there are not a few whose ships are like hells afloat, and you may depend on’t I’ll stand clear of them.”

Jacob gave his old mother a hearty kiss, as putting a stick into his bundle, he threw it over his shoulder.

“Don’t take on, dame, now,” he said. “I’ll be back soon and bring you no end of the rhino. Most of it, to be sure, slipped away from me at the end of the last cruise before I got home; but I will take better care of it this time for your sake, mother.”

The old woman shook her head. She had been too long accustomed to find that Jacob’s money had slipped away before he got home to expect much, though he had generally contrived to bring enough for his board while he remained. Harry wrote a note, which he got a boy to carry to Captain Falwasser, saying that he was going off to sea, and begging him to take care of his bag till his return. With brisk steps, though Harry’s heart was heavy, the two young men took their way through the forest. They looked like two active young seamen any captain would be glad to get hold of. They cautiously approached the village of Hythe, opposite Southampton, lest the press-gang might be there on the look-out for men. The coast being clear, they ran across the beautiful estuary of the Southampton Water in a wherry, and landing on the western side near Itchin, pushed on towards Gosport. Night had closed in before they had got to the end of their journey. Harry had seldom taken so long a walk; but his muscles were well knit, and he might have gone still farther.

“We must keep a sharp look-out, mate,” said Jacob; “the gangs are sure to be about, and if they were to fall in with us, we might say good-bye to liberty. But come along; there’s a house I know of not far off, and we shall be all right there if we once get inside the door.”

Jacob led Harry down several lanes and alleys in which scenes of drunkenness and vice met his eye, which, even accustomed to London as he was, made his heart turn sick.

“And this is the way the defenders of our country spend their time on shore!” he said to himself. “No wonder they are treated like brutes, when they live like beasts without souls.”

Harry’s reasoning might possibly not have been correct as to what cause produced the effect. Might he not more justly have reasoned, “If they are treated like brutes, like brutes they will live?” That question has been solved in later days. Since thought has been taken for seamen they have essayed, and not unsuccessfully, to attend to the welfare of their souls. In those days little regard was paid to that subject.

They stopped before the door of a low house with not many windows looking into the street. Such as there were were closed with shutters.

“She’s a good old creature,” whispered Jacob, “though maybe by this hour she’s a little lushy; but you must not mind that. She knows me and my ways, and will treat us well. Her husband is sure to be drunk; but then he will be in bed and out of the way, and she’s never so bad but what she can get supper ready. We may trust Sally Hoggart for that. You will see I am right.”

Jacob gave two or three knocks on the door, but no one came to it.

“Maybe she’s had a drop or two more than usual,” observed Jacob. “She will wake up in time, only I hope no press-gang will be coming along the street before she opens the door. If we see them we must run for it, Harry. You stick by me. I know a place to hide away in.”

Jacob repeated his blows on the door. At last a slide was moved in one of the panels, and a light streamed through it.

“All right, Sally,” said Jacob. “You know me, and I have brought a mate. Open the door, and let us in; we have enough to pay for our board, so don’t be afraid.”

The door opened, and the two young men entered, the bolts and bars being instantly replaced. The person who came to the door might have possessed many excellent qualities, but her appearance was not in her favour. Her figure was stout and shapeless; her dress, wanting greatly in hooks and eyes and strings, worn and stained, looked ready to slip off her shoulders. Her hair, already sprinkled with white, escaped in dishevelled locks from beneath her mob cap, destitute of all stiffness, and darkened by soot and dust, while her thick lips and watery bloodshot eye showed that she not unfrequently indulged in potations deep and strong. Jacob, however, on entering, chucked her under the chin, and giving her a hearty smack on her flabby cheeks, told her to be a good old soul, and to get supper ready for two hungry wayfarers. At first she declared that she had dressed suppers for twenty men already, and that she was too sleepy to put another saucepan on the fire; but Jacob, after a little persuasion, made her promise to exert herself, and he then led the way into a room at the back part of the house. Here some dozen or more men were sitting round a table, most of them with pipes in their mouths, others with pots of ale or glasses of spirits before them, while several were playing at cards. They looked up at the new comers, who took their seats at the other end of the table. Jacob soon entered into conversation with those nearest him, and learned what ships were fitting out. The characters of various captains were discussed.

“The ‘Brilliant,’ Captain Everard, has just come in to refit, and is in want of hands. He’s a right sort of officer. If I wanted to go afloat, I would volunteer on board his ship as soon as any other,” remarked a seaman who was sitting opposite to them.

“What do you say, Harry? Would you like to volunteer on board the ‘Brilliant’?” asked Jacob.

“No, she would not suit me,” answered Harry. “I have my reasons for not wishing to join her.”

“Run from her, maybe, once in a time?” observed a seaman.

“Well, then there’s the ‘Nymph,’ Captain Cook. He’s a good seaman, and not over-harsh with his men; and there’s the ‘Saint Fiorenzo,’ Captain Sir Harry Neale. Never a man has sailed with him who’s worth his salt who would not wish to sail with him again. I wish there were many other captains in the navy like him. We should not have cause to complain as we have now.”

Harry and Jacob agreed therefore to volunteer on board the “Saint Fiorenzo.” While this discussion was going on Sally placed a smoking supper before her two lately arrived guests. They did ample justice to it, for although the cookery was of a somewhat coarser character than that to which Harry had been accustomed, his long walk had given him an appetite. He soon began to feel a great longing to lie down and go to sleep. For three nights, indeed, he had scarcely closed his eyes for ten minutes together. Even before he had finished supper his head began to nod. Jacob observed his condition, and asked Sally for a bed.

“Why,” was her reply, “every one I have got are more than full already; you must prick for the softest plank you can find. Not the first time either of you youngsters have had to do that.”

Jacob knew there was no use remonstrating, and so drawing a bench up to a corner of the room, he placed his bundle under Harry’s head, and led him to it. Scarcely had Harry stretched himself on the bench, hard as it was, than he was fast asleep. Jacob, however, was not so happy as he intended to be, and calling for come more liquor—he was not very particular what it was—he and his new friend opposite were soon engaged in plying each other with tumblers of grog.

There was a knocking at the door. Sally having by this time slept off some of her evening potations again went to it. Another seaman begged for admittance. He had nowhere to lodge, and he was afraid the press-gang who were about would be getting hold of him. He had plenty of shiners to spend, as Sally should soon know by the glitter of one with which he would at once cross her hand. This argument had great effect upon her gentle heart. Opening the door she admitted her visitor. He was a stout-looking man in a thick pea-coat, with a tarpaulin hat firmly fixed on his head, while his hand clutched a stout walking-stick. As she was about to close the door behind him great was her indignation to find a crowbar inserted. There was a trampling of feet. She shrieked out with several unfeminine oaths, “Murder! murder! the press-gang is upon us.” Her visitor, however, very ungallantly seized her by the arm as she attempted to close the door, and shoved a thick handkerchief into her mouth. In the meantime the door was forced completely back, and two or three men who had been lying down close under the walls, had sprung to their feet and entered with their leader. They were quickly joined by others of their party, who had been coming at a quick run down the street. In an instant the inmates were aroused, and the whole house was in a fearful uproar. Some tried to force their way out by a back door, but no sooner had they opened it than they found themselves in the power of a strong body of armed seamen. The men who were in bed threw on their clothes, some trying to jump from the windows; but seeing by the number of the press-gang outside that they would be certainly caught if they did so, rushed down-stairs and joined in the fray which was going forward in the public room. Some were armed with bludgeons, others with fire-irons; some seized chairs and benches, and various other articles of Sally’s furniture. She, to do her justice, with her female attendants, fought as heroically as her guests, in a vain endeavour to secure their personal safety.

Harry had slept through the first part of the combat, but at length the fearful uproar aroused him. He started to his feet, not knowing where he was or what had happened. The room was almost in total darkness, for the lights had instantly been extinguished, and only here and there fell the glare of the men-of-war’s men’s lanterns as they held them up in the hopes of distinguishing friends from foes. Harry seized Jacob’s bundle with one hand, and the stick with which he had carried it in the other, and attempted to defend himself from the blows which were dealt freely round. He thought he distinguished Jacob’s voice not far from him, and he made his way up to his friend. At that instant, however, a further party of the press-gang arriving, the seamen were completely overpowered. In vain Sally and her attendants fought on, in the hopes of enabling some of their friends to escape. Every outlet was too strictly guarded. The officer and many of the men composing the press-gang probably knew the house as well as its inmates, and had taken their measures accordingly.

In the course of a few minutes, although some heads had received pretty hard cracks, yet no blood was spilt, every man in the house, with the exception of old Tony Hoggart, was in the power of the press-gang. It was a most successful haul. Upwards of thirty prime seamen had been captured, Jacob and Harry among them. Not till the fight was over did old Tony find his way down-stairs, at the foot of which he stood with a light in his hand, his red nightcap set on one side of his bullet head, his trousers held up by one suspender, his stockingless feet in shoes down at heel, while from his blear eyes he glared out on the intruders into his abode. As if at length aware of what had occurred, he commenced a series of his vituperative remarks, which increased in vehemence as he proceeded, his curses and oaths being first directed towards the head of the officer in command of the party and his men, the captain of the ship, and the navy in general coming in for their share.

“We’re in for it, Harry,” said Jacob; “keep up your courage, however; if we put a good face on the matter, we shan’t be so much worse off than if we had volunteered. We can tell the first-lieutenant when he examines us to-morrow morning that we intended to do so. I’ll just learn what ship we have been taken for.”

Jacob made the inquiry of the seaman who had charge of him.

“The ‘Brilliant,’ Captain Everard,” was the answer; “he’s a good captain, and you may bless your stars that you have been taken for his ship.”

Harry’s heart sank when he heard this.

He would at once be recognised by the captain.

What account could he give of himself? The boats were in waiting in the harbour. The men hurried down to them immediately. Some resisting were dragged along. A cuff on the head, or a blow with the butt end of a pistol, generally silenced those who cried out in the hopes of being rescued.

Harry and Jacob walked along quietly. Neither were disposed to struggle. As soon as the prisoners were got into the boats they shoved off. In a quarter of an hour afterwards Harry found himself for the first time in his life on board a man-of-war.

Chapter Fifteen.

The Hero’s First Trip to Sea.—The Fate of the “Brilliant.”

Harry and the other pressed men stood for some time on the deck of the frigate, awaiting the appearance of the commanding officer. Harry dreaded his coming, believing that Captain Everard would immediately recognise him. At length an officer appeared from below, accompanied by the master-at-arms, who held a ship’s lantern in his hand. The officer commenced his inspection at the other end of the line. The light not falling on him, Harry could not see his features, but his figure was like that of the captain.

“I must brave it out,” he thought. “What shall I call myself? It must be a name I can recollect. Andrew Brown will, do as well as any other.”

Jacob was standing at a little distance from him. He had just time to step round and whisper, “I shall take the name of Andrew Brown,” before the officer approached. He was greatly relieved on finding it was not the captain. Jacob Tuttle gave his real name. He entered himself as Andrew Brown.

As soon as the inspection was over, the men were ordered down below, being told that they would be entered more regularly the next morning. They were told that they might lie down between the guns on the main deck, sentries being placed over them as if they were prisoners.

Harry was only too thankful to find a quiet spot where he might stretch his weary limbs and finish his slumbers, which had been so rudely broken during the first part of the night. He was too sleepy even to think. He dreamed that the fray was renewed, for the most strange, wild, and unearthly sounds assailed his ears: shrill whistles, hoarse bawlings, fierce oaths, the stamping of feet and rattling of ropes, and shouts of all sorts, creating the wildest uproar he had ever heard.

“Yes, he’s alive, only drunk, maybe,” said a gruff voice in his ear.

“No, he’s not drunk, only worn out pretty well, as you or I would be if we had not had a sleep for three or four nights. He’s young, you see.”

These words were spoken by Jacob Tuttle, who, putting his arm under Harry’s shoulders, helped him to get up, and saved him from knocking his head against the gun-carriage under which he had been sleeping. For some seconds he felt stupefied. The whole ship, which was so quiet when he lay down, was now in a state of what appeared to him the wildest confusion—officers issuing their orders in no very gentle voices or refined language, and men rushing here and there, stamping along the decks with their bare feet, swaying up yards, and bending sails, hoisting in stores, and lowering casks and cases into the hold. Harry, when he saw the number of men and size of the ship, began to hope that he might avoid the recognition of the captain.

“I’ll keep out of his way,” he thought, “and if Mabel does not tell him of my intention of going to sea, though he may think Andrew Brown very like Harry Tryon, he may possibly not dream of asking questions on the subject.”

After breakfast the first-lieutenant went through the usual examination of the pressed men, and entered them under different ratings in the ship’s books. In those days muscle and activity were the qualifications most valued. Harry was able to answer in a satisfactory way the questions put to him, and was at once rated as an able-bodied seaman, and, greatly to Jacob’s satisfaction, was placed in the same watch and mess with him.

“I’ll show you what to do, Harry,” he said, “and you’ll turn out as good a seaman as any on board.”

The following day the ship went out to Spithead.

Harry wrote two letters, no easy task amid the multitude of persons on board, male and female visitors of all sorts, at whose language and conduct Harry’s heart sickened. It was well that it did so. Better be disgusted with vice than witness it unconcerned. Very often our young sailor was interrupted, his paper saved with difficulty from profane hands. Still at last the letters were finished. One was to Mabel. He did not describe the scene by which he was surrounded. He told her simply that he had taken the final plunge, was now a seaman sworn to serve his king and country, but hoped soon to be an officer, entreating her not to mention his name to her father, and sent a message to Madam Everard and Paul Gauntlett. He entreated her to think kindly of him, and assured her that his own heart would be faithful to death.

Poor Mabel! the letter did not give her much pleasure. “As if I should ever cease to think of him,” she said to herself. “Oh, that he had been better guided.”

He wrote also to Mr Kyffin, directing the letter wisely to his private house, for he thought it more than probable that Silas Sleech would otherwise take possession of it. The letter was a long one, tolerably coherent on the whole. He confessed all that had occurred, made no excuses for himself, nor did he accuse Sleech. He dated his letter from the “Brilliant,” begging his guardian to reply to it, in the hope that an answer might reach him before the ship sailed. Day after day passed by, and no answer came.

Harry heard with some considerable trepidation that Captain Everard was expected on board. He saw his gig coming off. The sides were manned, and the captain passed through the gangway to the quarter-deck, touching his hat in return for the salute offered him by the marines drawn up on either side. He glanced his eye aloft, and then along the deck. Everything was in excellent order. Harry, who was nearer than he could have wished, stood his gaze steadily. He spoke a few words of approval to the first-lieutenant, and then went down below. Harry saw at a glance that Captain Everard on shore and Captain Everard in command of a frigate were two somewhat different characters. As the captain disappeared, Blue Peter was run up to the mast-head. It became generally known that the ship was to sail the next day; her destination, the North American Station and the West Indies. Harry’s heart sank when he heard this.

“I may be away then three, perhaps four long years,” he said to himself. “What changes may take place in the meantime! Yet I may have better opportunities of distinguishing myself than on the home station. I ought to be thankful.”

Harry, as he looked round the decks, could not conceive how order could ever spring out of the fearful disorder which had seemed to prevail.

The ship was crowded with visitors. Boats in great numbers hung alongside, in which the boatmen were quarrelling with each other, while eager Jews endeavoured to find their way on deck to obtain payment of debts which they alleged were due to them from the seamen. Harry had little fear at this time of being recognised, the captain being generally employed in the cabin. He was watching what was going forward, when he saw a wherry standing up under sail from the westward towards the ship.

“Is that the ‘Brilliant’?” asked a voice from the boat, in which sat three persons—the boatman, his boy, and a young woman.

“Ay, ay,” was the answer.

The sail was lowered and the boat stood up alongside.

“May I come on board?” asked a gentle female voice, as the boat reached the gangway ladder.

“That you may, and welcome,” was the answer; “but you will not have long to stay, as the ship’s going to sea directly.”

Harry thought he recognised the countenance of the speaker. Assisted up gallantly by the quartermaster stationed at the gangway, the young woman stood on the deck. She looked round with a somewhat scared and astonished gaze, but no sooner did her eye fall on Harry, who was watching her, than she ran towards him.

“Oh! Mr Tryon, is it you, indeed? Can you tell me if Jacob Tuttle is on board? He came away without telling me that he was again going to join his ship, and I only heard just now from a friend of his at Portsmouth that he was on board the ‘Brilliant.’ He would never wish, I know, to go and leave me without one farewell, and so I cannot make it out.”

Harry recognised in the speaker Mary Cull, Mabel’s trim little waiting-maid. Jacob was aloft at the time, engaged in some work on the maintop-gallant yard. He had been too busily occupied to see the different boats coming to the ship. Now, however, the task completed, he happened to cast his eyes down on deck, and even at that distance recognised the figure though he could not have seen the pretty features of Mary. He observed, however, that she was talking to Harry. The knife he was using, which hung round his neck by a rope yarn, was thrust into the breast of his shirt, and quick as lightning he came gliding down the backstay close to where the two were standing. Mary gave a shriek of terror when she saw him, thinking that he was falling. Before even she could utter another exclamation of alarm, he sprang nimbly on deck and stood by her side.

“Mary,” he said, “have you come to look for me? I would not have come away without wishing you good-bye if I had thought I was not going to be back again pretty soon, but I was pressed aboard this ship, and had no chance of going back to see you and mother. You know I am a poor hand at writing, and I could not ask my friend here to trouble himself about the matter, and so, Mary, that’s the long and the short of it. I love you, girl, that I do, and love you now more than I ever thought I would; but, Mary, I did not think you cared for me, that’s the truth on’t, and now I know you do,” and Jacob took Mary’s willing hand in his, and looked into her eyes with an honest glance which must have convinced her that he spoke the truth, whatever he might before have done.

“Jacob, I did not tell you I loved you before, because you did not ask me, but still I thought you knew I did, and as for Tom Hodson you was jealous of, I never cared a pin for him, and he’s gone and ’listed for a soldier.”

Harry listened to this conversation not unamused. He understood the whole history in a minute. Jacob had left home in a huff, jealous of the attentions Mary was receiving from a rival, and now he was going away, to be parted from her for many years, perhaps never to return. He could not help comparing Jacob’s position to his own. Poor Mary was in tears. Jacob was vowing with earnestness that he would from henceforth ever be faithful to her.

“No, Mary, no, I am going among negresses and foreigners, black and brown girls of all sorts, and do you think I would take up with one of them and leave you?” And Jacob laughed at his own suggestion. “No, that I would not, not to be made port admiral, nor a king on his throne either. Mary, I was a fool to come away and leave you and poor mother, but it’s too late now, I must go this cruise. The king himself could not get me off. There’s no use asking the captain. Why he would only laugh at me. If he was to let me go, half the ship’s company would want to go and marry their sweethearts. I tell you a plain and solemn truth, Mary; but cheer up, dear girl. Never fear, I will be true and faithful to you.”

Mary was too much occupied with her own grief to think much of Harry. However, she at last turned towards him.

“Mr Tryon,” she said, “are you going, too? Surely that cannot be. What shall I tell Miss Mabel?”

“Tell her, Mary, what Jacob has said to you. I trust the time will quickly pass. I hope to do my duty faithfully to my king and country, and to obey my captain.”

Mary was about to ask further questions, but the boatswain’s whistle was heard, uttering the stern order for all visitors to leave the ship. Jacob gave Mary an affectionate embrace, and assisted her down the side, Harry especially being very unwilling to detain her lest she should be seen by the captain. She had come away, Jacob told him, having got a holiday for a week to see her friends. The boatman, who knew Jacob, wished him farewell, for though he stared at Harry, he did not appear to recognise him in the dress of a seaman, so different to what he had been accustomed to wear. In a few minutes afterwards the merry pipe was sounding. Harry and others were tramping round with the capstan-bars, and the anchor was slowly hove up to the bows. The proud frigate, under all sail, stood down the Solent toward the Needle passage.

Harry turned his aching eyes toward Lynderton as the frigate glided by. Though the sea was bright, the air fresh, and everything round him looked beautiful, his heart sank low, and often and often he bitterly repented the step he had taken. He quickly, however, learned his duty as a seaman, and Captain Everard more than once remarked to the first-lieutenant that he had seldom seen a more active and promising lad.

“You speak of Andrew Brown, sir?” was the answer. “Yes, he’s one of our pressed men, but he at once seemed reconciled to his fate. He will make a prime seaman.”

“Curious, I cannot help fancying that I have seen him before,” observed the captain, “or else he is very like a lad I know, of a family residing in my part of the country. However, that is fancy.”

Probably from that moment Captain Everard thought little more of the likeness between Andrew Brown and Harry Tryon.

The frigate met with remarkably fine weather during her passage across the Atlantic. As she neared the American coast, however, thick weather came on—such as is often found in those latitudes. It was night. The starboard watch was on deck—that to which Jacob and Harry belonged. The ship was under easy sail—a fresh breeze but fair. The captain was below. A bright look-out ought to have been kept, but bright look-outs are not always kept, even on board men-of-war.

“How cold it feels,” observed Harry to Jacob. “What’s that white cloud ahead?”

Scarcely had the words left his mouth than there was a fearful crash. Every timber quivered. Down came the foremast. The bowsprit also was carried away.

“She’s on an iceberg!” was shouted out.

Dismay seized the hearts of the stoutest. In an instant all was confusion and disorder. In the midst of it, a voice sounding above even the wild uproar ordered the men to their stations. The ship had bounded off, and now glided by, leaving the iceberg on the starboard side. Still the sea drove her against the base. Twice she struck with fearful violence. The mainmast followed the foremast, speedily carrying the mizenmast with it. The gallant frigate lay a helpless wreck on the dark tossing waters. The captain ordered the carpenter and his mates to sound the well. In a few short minutes he reported ten feet of water in the hold, increasing fast. Starboard bow stove in, many planks alongside ripped off! The ship must inevitably founder.

In an unskaken voice the captain announced the dreadful fact.

“Remain calm and collected, and do your duty to the last, lads,” he cried.

Orders were given to get out the boats.

Rafts also must be made, though there was short time for building them. The crew worked with a will. Had they been wearied out with pumping they might have given in. They had good reason now for working hard. The ship laboured heavily. The officers and many of the older seamen knew well, from the slow heavy movements, that she had not long to float. The carpenter by another report confirmed their fears. Harry, with other seamen, was engaged in making a raft on the quarter-deck. It was smaller than the rest, and nearly completed. The captain’s voice was again heard ordering the boats to be lowered without delay. While the men were engaged in obeying the order the stern of the frigate seemed to lift up. Down sank the bows, and with one awful plunge the proud frigate rushed downward into the ocean depths. A wild cry arose, such as even the bravest utter in a moment of extreme peril. Jacob and Harry leaped on the small raft. The grey dawn had just before broke. Some of the larger rafts, not yet completed, were sucked down with the sinking ship. Several boats suffered the same fate. Others were swamped. The small raft was whirled round and round, a few men clinging to it, Harry and Jacob among them keeping their hold. Here and there were despairing faces gazing their last at the sky ere they sank beneath the water. Now and then an arm was seen uplifted grasping at air. Broken spars and planks escaped from the unfinished rafts, drowning men clinging to them, though many of those who clung there soon dropped off.

Harry and Jacob had helped three shipmates to climb up on to the raft. Not far off a man was struggling to gain a spar which floated near. Even by that light he was seen to be an officer.

“It’s the captain!” cried Harry; “I must save him.”

Springing from the raft, he swam out towards the captain. The officer was close to a spar, but his hand failed to clutch it, and he sank. Harry dived rapidly. His hand grasped the captain’s collar, and with an upward stroke he returned to the surface. He looked around. The spar was not an arm’s length from him. Placing the captain across it, he pushed it towards the raft. The captain was saved from immediate death. But what prospect had those poor fellows, on that small raft out on the stormy ocean, of being saved? No sail was in sight. One boat only had escaped destruction. She was already at some distance. Those in her did not perceive the raft. Already, probably, she was overloaded. Soon a sail was hoisted and she stood away to the westward. The saddest sight of all was to see the poor fellows clinging to the pieces of wreck one by one dropping off. The sun rose, the mist cleared away. Six men on the raft alone remained on the waste of waters.

Chapter Sixteen.

A New Claimant for Stanmore.

Colonel Everard lay on his bed propped up with pillows. The window was open. He gazed forth over the green lawn, the bright blue sea and the Isle of Wight smiling in the distance. Three persons were in the room. Near his head stood his faithful attendant and old companion-in-arms; on the other side was his sister. Tears were in her eyes, while Mabel stood near the foot of the bed with her hands clasped, gazing on that venerated countenance. The sand of life was ebbing fast, a few grains alone remained.

“Paul, we have fought together. We have served our country well when we had youth and strength,” whispered the old officer, holding the hand of his faithful attendant. “You don’t forget that day when our brave general fell. Ere he died he heard that the enemy were put to flight, the victory won. Sister, he died happy, and so do I; for I may say with all humbleness, I have fought the good fight. I have tried to do my duty, but I trust in One mighty to save.” Then returning to old recollections, “You remember that day, Paul; that battle, the most glorious of our many fields. And now, Paul, we shall never fight again. You must look after these two here, sister Ann and my sweet Mabel. They want a trustworthy protector. I never knew you to fail me, Paul.”

His voice as he spoke was sinking lower and lower. A few more words he spoke expressive of the Christian’s hope. Then his hands relaxed their grasp, and those who watched him knew that the noble old man was dead.

The colonel’s will was opened. By his express desire no funeral pomp attended him to the grave. Paul, with eight of his older tenants, simple cottagers, several of whom had been soldiers, bore his coffin.

Seldom, however, has a longer line of mourners attended a plume-bedecked hearse than than which followed on foot the remains of Colonel Everard. Not only did all the inhabitants of Lynderton join the procession, but vast numbers of persons from the surrounding districts came to show their respect to the memory of one who had so long dwelt among them, and whose many virtues had won their love.

The estates were entailed on the next heir-at-law, while such property as the colonel could leave was given to his well-beloved sister, Madam Everard.

He had not, however, been a saving man; indeed, the expenses of his position had been considerable, and the sum was but small. Mabel and her aunt were to remain in possession of Stanmore Park till the return of Captain Everard from sea.

The funeral was over, and once more the household settled down into their usual ways. Paul was more active than ever: his eye was everywhere, feeling that he was obeying his master’s behests in watching over the interests of the captain and his daughter.

The same coach which a few months before had brought Harry Tryon southward, had now among its passengers no less a person than Mr Silas Sleech. He was in deep mourning—a proper respect to the memory of his late uncle, Colonel Everard. Yet his countenance bore no signs of grief. On the contrary, some pleasant thoughts seemed to occupy his mind, as he frequently rubbed his hands together and smiled complacently.

He was received with cordiality by his respected parent, the elder Mr Sleech, though the rest of the family, consisting of several brothers and four fair sisters, welcomed him apparently with less affection. Silas had brought but little luggage, but he held a tin case of considerable size which he had never allowed to quit his hand. The family greetings over, he and his father retired to the inner office. With intense interest they examined the contents of the case.

“It’s all right, father, I tell you,” exclaimed Silas. “Stanmore is ours, as sure as fate. My mother was the elder sister next to the colonel, and the captain’s father never had any marriage lines to show. I tell you the captain has no more right to the name of Everard than old Pike the mace-bearer. If the captain has a certificate, where is it? Let him show it; but he has not; and that little jade Mabel, who looks so proudly down upon me especially, must now be brought down a peg or two herself. She will be humble enough before long, or I am mistaken.”

“Silas, you ought to be Lord Chancellor,” exclaimed his father; “you have managed this affair with wonderful acuteness and judgment. I always thought there was a screw loose about Tom Everard’s foreign marriage, his wife dying suddenly, and he coming home with a small baby and a strange nurse, who could not speak a word of English or tell anybody what had happened. However, now we have got the law on our side, the sooner we take possession of our rights the better. You and I will see to that to-morrow. We will behave handsomely to Madam Everard. Indeed, I rather suspect that she won’t be so badly off, and whatever she has will go to Mabel, so there’s no use falling out too much with them. However, if your mother’s husband and children ought to be at Stanmore, why to Stanmore we will go, so that is settled.”

“Don’t tell the rest of them, though, father,” said Silas. “They will be blabbing it out, and Madam Everard will be getting wind of it, and we shan’t have the pleasure of giving them the little surprise I long for; come, you must not baulk me in that, daddy. A Lord Chancellor knows what’s what, and if I don’t kick up a pretty shindy in Stanmore Park before long, my name’s not Silas Sleech.”

Madam Everard and niece were seated in the study after breakfast. It had been the colonel’s sitting-room, and they occupied it with fond affection, no one, however, making use of his arm-chair. It seemed as if his spirit was often there, come down from the realms of the blest, while they talked of him and their lost Lucy.

The servant entered, and Madam Everard heard with no small dissatisfaction the names of her little-esteemed brother-in-law and his eldest son. They entered the room not with quite so much confidence as might have been expected.

“Why, Ann, you look somewhat solemn this fine morning,” observed the elder, as he took a seat, not very close to Madam Everard. Silas drew somewhat nearer to Mabel, but rising, she placed herself on the sofa near her aunt, and continued the embroidery at which she was working, scarcely looking up. The elder Sleech turned his hat about several times. He did not look as if he felt himself a member of the Everard family.

Silas had more impudence than his father, and this enabled him to overcome a certain feeling which would intrude, in spite of his assumed confidence.

“I have come about business, Ann,” at last said Mr Sleech the elder, “Silas and I. We wish to do everything pleasant and to give no annoyance; but you must know, Ann, when your elder sister married me, she married the family lawyer that was. You have always supposed that Tom Everard—the captain’s father—had married abroad; at all events the captain was brought home as a baby by Tom, who said he was his lawful child. Now it turns out that either Tom was mistaken, or else he told a fib—I don’t like to use strong language. If a man cannot prove his marriage he is not married; that’s what the law says. Now Tom to his death never had any marriage certificate to exhibit. It follows, therefore, in the eye of the law, that he was not married, and so you see your sister Jane became heir-at-law of her late brother, and I, as her representative, am—or rather my son Silas is—the rightful possessor of Stanmore Park. It’s as clear as a pike-staff, Ann, and so there’s no use making any ado about it.”

While Mr Sleech, senior, was speaking, Madam Everard had maintained a perfect composure. Poor Mabel’s colour came and went. She felt a choking sensation in her throat. Not for herself did she care, she was thinking of her gallant father, away from home fighting his country’s battles—when he returned to find himself disinherited. It would be a grievous blow. She felt, too, that she could no longer, when she gave her hand, endow her husband with the wealth she thought she should value more for his sake than for her own.

“You say you called on a matter of business,” said Madam Everard, with becoming dignity. “As a man of business we will treat you. I will send for Mr Wallace, my late brother’s solicitor, and should he be satisfied that you are the rightful owner of Stanmore, and that Captain Everard has no claim on it, my niece and I will quit the house. Till then I must request you to leave us at peace. You must be aware that the information you bring us is not pleasant.”

Mabel kept her lips pressed together. She dared not trust her voice, she simply bowed her assent to her aunt’s request.

“Well, well, Ann, I am not surprised that you are annoyed,” said Mr Sleech, rising from his seat; “that is but natural. Of course, we are gentlemen, and wish to treat you as ladies. We will just take a look round the park and grounds. I have a notion a good many trees should be cut down. The colonel was over-squeamish about felling timber; and Mabel, my dear, I wish you would not look so glum. Perhaps if you play your cards well, you may still be mistress of Stanmore, eh? Silas, you rogue, you used to admire your pretty little cousin.”

Silas rolled his round eyes and gave a glance at Mabel which she, at least, thought bespoke very little affection, for she turned a way from him with a feeling of loathing, not deigning to make any remark.

“You know your way,” said Madam Everard; “you must do as you think fit. We cannot interfere.”

Without putting out her hand, she gave a stately bow to her brother-in-law and nephew. A chuckle reached her ears as the door closed behind them.

“Jane, Jane, what have you brought upon us?” she exclaimed, apostrophising her deceased sister.

The marriage had been a hateful one from the first. Old Sleech had, even as a young man, been almost as odious as his son, and no one could account for Jane Everard’s infatuation and bad taste when she insisted on marrying him.

Madam Everard rang the bell, and begged that Paul Gauntlett would come to her. He obeyed the summons, and was soon afterwards trotting off on the horse with which he always accompanied the colonel to Lynderton. Mr Wallace was at home, and very quickly made his appearance at Stanmore, escaping an encounter with the Sleeches, who were still making their round of the park, notching trees which they agreed might come down to advantage and clear a pretty penny.

Mr Wallace heard Madam Everard’s statement with a grave face.

“I do not see much that is hopeful about it, but we will try what the law can do. If the law decides that Captain Everard is not the heir, we have no help for it. I will look over all the deeds deposited with me, but to my recollection I have no certificate or copy of certificate of Mr Tom Everard’s marriage. He must have been very young at the time, at all events. An older man would probably have taken more care of so important a document. However, I will see Mr Sleech, and endeavour to persuade him that he cannot justly at present push his claims. We must proceed cautiously, for although you are in possession, I fear that he can prove himself to be heir-at-law.”

Mr Wallace had left the house some time before the Sleeches returned. They came in by the garden entrance, and walked without ceremony into the study, where Mabel and her aunt were still sitting.

“Well, we have had a good look round the grounds, Ann, and I have come to the conclusion that the colonel did not make half as much of the property as he might have done. Why, I can tell you, eight thousand pounds’ worth of timber might be cut down—Silas says ten thousand, but I think that he is a little over the mark—without doing any harm to the place, and there are no end of improvements he and I have been proposing.”

“No one must venture to cut down timber on this property without the leave of my nephew, the captain,” said Madam Everard, drawing herself up.

“Well, that’s as may be, Ann,” answered Mr Sleech, with a forced laugh. “He who has the right to the property will have the right to cut down the trees, or law’s not law. However, that’s neither here nor there. What I want to know, Ann, is when you and Mabel will be ready to pack up bag and baggage and turn out. There’s that bow-windowed house in the town, half-way up the street, which would just suit you two spinster ladies, and the fact is that my daughters and my sons and I have rather a fancy to come and take up our quarters here. We have been kept out of the place a pretty long number of years, and you see, in my opinion, it’s time we had our rights.”

“When our legal adviser considers that we have no longer a right to remain in this house, Mabel and I will immediately leave it,” answered the old lady, with dignity. “I am sure such would be Captain Everard’s wish. In the meantime, I must request, Mr Sleech, that you and your son will bring this interview to a conclusion. As relatives I would have made you welcome; but I cannot feel that you are justified in thus coming to insult my niece and me. I must therefore request that you will take your departure.”

“As you like, Ann, as you like,” exclaimed Mr Sleech, swinging about his hat, which he had lifted from the ground. “It won’t be for long, I can tell you; we shall soon be back again, I have an idea.”

Silas endeavoured to shake hands with Mabel with a smile which he intended to be insinuating, but she indignantly turned from him.

“Oh, oh, proud as ever,” he muttered, as he followed his father out of the room, at the door of which Paul was standing sentry. He had seen them returning to the house, and it would have fared ill with either of them had they ventured to proceed much further in their insulting remarks to the ladies. Not a muscle of his countenance moved as he opened the hall-door; but his eyes glared down upon them with an expression which made even Silas wince and keep close behind his father’s heels.

“Well, that old fellow’s the essence of glumness,” observed Silas, as they got beyond hearing.

“She threatened me, she did,” muttered his father, between his teeth, not attending to what Silas had said. “But we will be even with them, or my name’s not Tony Sleech.”

Lynderton was at that time a place of fashionable resort during the summer season. People came down there to enjoy the sea breezes and the bathing in salt water, to listen to the band of the foreign legion, and to enjoy the pleasant society which was to be found in the town and its neighbourhood. During the lifetime of his sister, Lady Tryon, Mr Coppinger had declined going there; but he now acceded to the urgent entreaties of his daughters, and had taken a house for them, at which they had arrived. He himself, however, could only occasionally get down. One of the very few visitors admitted at Stanmore was the young Baron de Ruvigny. He also had soon become acquainted with the Miss Coppingers, and from the account he gave of them, as well as from the way Harry had before spoken of his cousins, Mabel more than ever was anxious to see them. Indeed, she consulted with her aunt whether she might not with propriety call upon them. The matter was discussed several times; but Madam Everard could not yet bring herself to see strangers.

“They are charming young ladies,” said the young baron, “so full of life and spirits, and so sweet and gentle; so refined in manners, so lovely in appearance.”

“What! are the six sisters all charming?” asked Mabel, innocently.

The young baron hesitated, blushed, confessed that one in particular was even more than he had described—a lovely pearl. Her name Sybella—what a sweet name. Her voice, too—she sang exquisitely.

“I have heard of her,” said Mabel, at length, “from her cousin Harry. He described her as a very interesting girl, so pray tell them, baron, that I hope soon to make their acquaintance.”

This was said before the visit of the Mr Sleeches to Stanmore, which has just been described.

The Miss Coppingers thought Lynderton a most delightful place, and were not at all surprised that Harry had praised it so much to them; their only sorrow was that he was not there. Their father, with kind consideration, had not told them that he had strong grounds for suspecting Harry’s honesty, nor had he given any reason for his absence. All he had said was that Harry had suddenly left the counting-house and had not returned, and they all thought too well of him to suspect him of any dishonourable conduct. They consequently spoke of him openly at Lynderton as their cousin. He seemed to have many friends, but only two appeared to know what had become of him: one was the Baron de Ruvigny, who was a very frequent visitor at their house, and the other was Captain Rochard, who came once or twice with the baron. He was, he told them, an old friend of Captain Everard’s, and was therefore particularly interested in the place.

Silas Sleech had obtained a holiday for the purpose of visiting Lynderton, not at all aware at the time that Mr Coppinger was about to proceed there himself. Great was the merchant’s astonishment when, the day after he came down, his eyes fell on his clerk, dressed in the height of fashion, walking up and down among the gay company assembled under an avenue of trees at the outside of the town to hear the band play. His amazement was increased when he saw him bow with a most familiar glance at his own daughters. Directly afterwards his clerk’s eye met his. Now Silas possessed as much impudence and assurance as most men, but his glance sank abashed before the stern look of the dignified Mr Coppinger. The young ladies were, they declared, utterly ignorant who he was. He had introduced himself as a friend of the officers of the legion, on the previous evening, without giving his name, while they had seen him dancing with several young ladies. Silas was ambitious. He was endeavouring to work his way into good society, in the outside circles of which only his family had hitherto moved, in spite of their connection by marriage with the Everards.

Meantime Roger Kyffin had returned from Ireland. His grief at finding that Harry had gone away with so grievous an imputation on his character was very great. Still he did not, he could not, believe Harry to be guilty. He found no letter, however, from him at Idol Lane, nor was there one at his own house.

“Surely the boy would have written to me,” he thought, “and told me where he was going. With all his faults, I believe he regarded me with sincere affection. I am sure he would have written.”

On speaking to his housekeeper one day about some letter which had been left during his absence, she mentioned that Mr Silas Sleech had on one occasion come to the house and requested to see Mr Kyffin’s letters, stating that he had been desired to forward some of them to him.

“I never gave any such directions,” said Mr Kyffin. “Did he take any letter?”

“Yes, sir, there was one—a particularly thick one, too—and the direction was in a good bold hand, just such as I have seen Master Harry write. I thought at the time, ‘Surely that’s the very letter master would like to have,’ so I let Mr Sleech take it off, making sure that he was going to send it on to you.”

Chapter Seventeen.

The Old Family Driven from their Home.

Paul Gauntlett watched the Mr Sleeches till they disappeared at the farther end of the avenue, amid the shadows of the trees.

“I am thankful they’re gone without me doing them a mischief; but the colonel said to me, ‘Paul, take charge of this place till you deliver it up to my nephew, the captain.’ And that is what I hope to do,” soliloquised the old soldier.

He stood for some minutes inside the porch, with his hands clasped before him in a stand-at-ease position. His plans were speedily formed. There were four stout fellows he could rely on generally employed about the grounds. He placed them, with thick oaken cudgels in their hands, two at a time, to watch the approaches to the hall, while he himself, armed in a similar manner, continued at intervals night and day to pace round and round the house, to see, as he said to himself, that the sentries were on the alert.

Once or twice Mabel caught sight of him, and wondered what he was about; but he did not think it necessary to inform her and her aunt of his plans. His chief post was the front porch, where he would sit the livelong day, keeping a watchful eye up and down the avenue. His only entertainment was reading the newspaper, which was brought by a man on horseback from Lynderton. It was a very different production from the large sheet of news at the present day.

Whatever were Mr Sleech’s plans, he seemed to have some hesitation in putting them into execution; for day after day Paul was allowed to keep his post unmolested.

One morning the groom brought the paper which had arrived the evening before from London, and as the ladies were out in the grounds, Paul took upon himself to peruse it first. He had spelt down two or three columns, when his eye fell on a paragraph in which the name of his Majesty’s frigate the “Brilliant” was mentioned. He read it eagerly. The paper trembled in his hands. “We regret to state” (so it ran) “that we have received information of the loss of H.M.’s frigate the ‘Brilliant,’ on her passage out to the North American station. She struck on an iceberg, and soon afterwards foundered, eight persons only in one of her boats being saved, out of the whole ship’s company, including one lieutenant and a midshipman. Captain Everard and the rest of the officers and ship’s company met a watery grave.” (The names of the survivors were then mentioned.) “The boat reached Halifax, those in her having suffered fearful hardships, and they have now been brought home in the ‘Tribune.’” The old soldier let the paper sink down by his side.

“The captain gone!” he murmured, in a low voice—“the captain gone, and no one to stand by Miss Mabel; and that poor lad, too, on whom she had set her young heart. He lost! Oh, it will break it, it will break it.”

Paul’s courage failed him when he had to tell the two ladies of their grievous bereavement.

While still trying to bring his mind to consider what he should do, he saw a person approaching the house by the avenue. He clutched his stick and threw up his head. It might be Mr Sleech or one of his myrmidons. He would do battle with them to the death, at all events. The stranger approached; Paul kept eyeing him. His scrutiny was more satisfactory than he had expected.

“He does not look like one of Mr Sleech’s villains,” he said to himself.

The stranger came close up, without hesitation, to Paul, whose aspect was, however, somewhat threatening.

“I think I know you, my friend,” said the stranger, with a kind expression, though his look was sad. “I have come to inquire about a young man in whom I am deeply interested. I find that he was here some time back. I have been enabled to trace him. I speak of Harry Tryon. Do you know anything of him?”

“If you will tell me who you are, sir, it may be I will answer that question,” said Paul.

“I am Roger Kyffin, Harry Tryon’s guardian. Will that satisfy you, my friend?” was the answer.

“Ah, that it will, sir,” answered Paul, in a tone of sadness which struck Mr Kyffin.

“Can you give me any account of the lad?” asked Mr Kyffin, in an anxious voice.

“He went and entered aboard the ‘Brilliant,’ and now he’s gone, sir; gone!” answered Paul. “He and the captain both together. They lie many fathom deep in the cold ocean out there. I have been over the spot. There, sir, read what is writ there; that tells all about it.” And the old soldier handed Mr Kyffin the newspaper.

Roger Kyffin read it with moistened eyes, and a choking sensation came in his throat.

“It is too true, I am afraid. The account is fearfully circumstantial!” he ejaculated, as he read on, searching about for any further notice of the event.

“But are you certain my dear boy was on board the ‘Brilliant’? What evidence have you?”

“Certain sure, sir,” answered Paul. “Our Mary, who was going to marry Jacob Tuttle, saw him just as the ship was sailing, and our Miss Mabel knows all about it. She knew he was with the captain. Poor dear young lady! it will break her heart, and Mary’s, too, and Madam Everard’s, too, and mine if it was not too tough. I wish that I had received marching orders with the colonel not to see this day; and yet it is a soldier’s duty to stand fast at his post, and that’s what the colonel told me to do, and that’s what, please God, I will do, and look after these poor ladies, and little Mary, too, and widow Tuttle: they will all want help. Oh, sir! when a battle’s fought or a ship goes down with all her crew it’s those on shore feel it. I used not to think about that when I was fighting, but now I know how poor women feel, and children left at home.”

“Rightly spoken, my friend,” said Roger Kyffin, grasping Paul’s hand. “You feel for the fatherless and widow. It is a right feeling; it’s a divine feeling; it’s as our Father in heaven feels. Have all my hopes come to this?—thus early cut off, my boy, my Harry! Let me look at that paper again. I must try and see the people who are mentioned here. They may tell us how it happened. Might they, notwithstanding this account, by some means have escaped?”

“I know what it is to be on board a foundering ship in the midst of the stormy ocean, darkness around, strong men crying out for fear of death, the boats swamped alongside. Words of command scarcely heard, or if heard not attended to, and then, when the ship goes down, down, too, go all things floating round her. No, sir, no, I cannot hope, and that’s the fact of it.”

“Have you told the ladies?” asked Mr Kyffin. “It will be a fearful thing breaking the matter to them.”

“I have not, sir, and I would as lief have my head blown off at the cannon’s mouth,” answered Paul; “but it must be done, and what we have to do is to consider the best way of breaking it to them. Never flinch from what must be done; that’s what the colonel always said.”

Roger Kyffin at first thought of requesting Dr Jessop to communicate the sad intelligence; but he was afraid lest in the meantime it might in a more abrupt manner reach the ears of Miss Everard and her aunt. He determined, therefore, to introduce himself, and in the presence of Paul to mention the account he had seen in the papers, expressing at the same time a hope which he himself could not help entertaining, that those in whom they were most interested might have escaped.

While Roger Kyffin and Paul were still discussing the matter, a carriage rapidly approached the house. Three persons got out of it. One of them started with a look of astonishment when he saw Mr Kyffin. It was Silas Sleech. He, however, quickly recovered his self-possession.

“Sad news this, sir, the death of our relative the captain,” he said; “it’s what sailors are liable to, though. Allow me to introduce my father, Mr Tony Sleech—Mr Roger Kyffin. Although fortune may smile on me, I don’t purpose yet deserting business and Idol Lane. ‘Business is business,’ as you’ve often observed, Mr Kyffin, and I love it for itself.”

“I really don’t understand what you mean,” said Mr Kyffin. “How can Captain Everard’s death affect you?”

“Ah! I see you are not acquainted with the state of the case,” said Mr Silas. “We won’t trouble you with it. My father and I have come to condole with the ladies who are now staying here, on their bereavement, and to tell them that we, who are heirs-at-law, beg that they will not trouble themselves to move for the next two or three days. After that, you see, it would be very inconvenient for us to be kept out of the property.”

Silas evidently said this more for Paul Gauntlett’s information than for Mr Kyffin’s, though his eye dared not meet that of the old soldier. Paul clutched the stick which seldom left his grasp. The moment for action had arrived. In another instant the Mr Sleeches—father and son—would have felt its force, had not a third person, who had got out of the carriage, stepped forward. He had from the first kept his eye upon Paul, and now saw by the movement of his hand that he meditated mischief.

“I am an officer of the law, and have been brought to see that the law is respected,” he said, stepping up to Paul. “You had better not use that stick, that’s all. Mr Sleech has sworn that he expects forcibly to be, kept out of this property, which is legally his; therefore let any one at his peril attempt to interfere with his proceedings.”

“He never swore a truer word in his life,” exclaimed Paul, clutching his stick. “I care for the law, and I respect the law, but I don’t respect such sneaking scoundrels as you and he,” exclaimed the old soldier, lifting his stick with a savage look.

Silas sprang down the steps, knocking over his father in his descent.

The constable eyed the old soldier. Though his locks were grey, he looked like no mean antagonist. The man seemed doubtful whether it would be wise to attack him.

“I call all here to witness that I have been assaulted in the execution of my duty by this man, the attendant of the late Colonel Everard,” he said, as he also retreated more slowly down the steps.

“Do you intend to prevent the rightful owners from taking possession of this their rightful property?” he exclaimed, from a safe position at the bottom of the steps, at the top of which stood Paul, still flourishing his stick.

“The rightful owners have got the property, and the rightful owners will keep it,” answered Paul.

The Mr Sleeches and their companion on this retired to a distance, to consult apparently what steps they would next take.

“You must not attempt to impede the officer in the execution of his duty, my friend,” said Mr Kyffin, “you will gain nothing by so doing.”

“I don’t expect to gain anything,” answered Paul. “I am only obeying the colonel’s orders in keeping the house against all intruders. If these people aren’t intruders, I don’t know who are.”

“If they have the law with them we must not interfere,” again repeated Mr Kyffin. “I am anxious to break the sad news to the ladies before these men do so abruptly. I should have thought better of Silas Sleech; but I suppose he has been urged on by his father.”

“One’s no better than the other, in my opinion,” muttered Paul. “However, sir, if you will tell the poor ladies what has happened in as gentle a way as possible, I will bless you for it. As for me, I could not do it, that I could not.”

With a sad heart Mr Kyffin took his way through the grounds, hoping to fall in with Mabel and her aunt. Paul Gauntlett in the meantime kept guard at the door, while two other stout fellows with bludgeons appearing round the corner of the house, induced the besiegers to keep at a respectful distance.

Mr Kyffin soon met the two ladies. He had no doubt who they were, and at once introduced himself. The result of his announcement, though made as cautiously as possible, can better be imagined than described.

“If it is so, God’s will be done!” said Madam Everard, whose whole thoughts were centred in her niece, whom she and Roger Kyffin with difficulty bore to the house. The news soon flew around the place, and Dr Jessop hearing it at once repaired to Stanmore, where he found his old friend Roger Kyffin.

For several days Mabel lay almost unconscious, attended carefully by Dr Jessop, through whose speedy arrival, in all human probability, her life had been saved.

Scarcely had she begun to recover, than Mr Sleech, armed with further authority, arrived at the Park. Mr Wallis was in consultation with Madam Everard. She and her niece must remove at the bidding of her brother-in-law.

“Nothing can be done,” said Mr Wallis. “At all events, no attempt must be made to prevent his being admitted into the house.” With a heavy heart Paul Gauntlett heard the lawyer’s decision, though even then he seemed very doubtful whether he ought to submit to Madam Everard’s orders.

“I would rather a thousand times have fought it out to the last, and died in the breach,” he exclaimed, dashing his stick on the floor. “However, if it must be, it must be, and it’s not the first time a scoundrel has gained the day and got into the place of an honest man.”

Paul had abundance of occupation for the remainder of his stay at Stanmore.

With a countenance in which sorrow, anger, and indignation were blended, he assisted in packing up the property belonging to Madam Everard and her niece. This was at once conveyed to Lynderton, where a house had been secured for them. In as short a time as possible they removed from Stanmore Park with everything they possessed. Scarcely were they out of the house than Mr Sleech and his family took possession.

Silas, however, lost the satisfaction of taking up his abode at the Park as the owner, for Mr Coppinger informed him that he must either give up his situation or return to the counting-house. He selected the latter alternative, greatly to Mr Kyffin’s surprise. The estimation in which that gentleman held Mr Silas Sleech had of late been considerably lowered. He once had thought him a hard-working, plodding, honest fellow who could be thoroughly trusted—a valuable man in a counting-house. Several circumstances had of late come under Mr Kyffin’s notice with regard to Silas Sleech’s mode of life. What he saw of him at Stanmore and heard of him at Lynderton had also yet further lowered him in his estimation. His mind was one especially addicted to forming combinations. He put several things he had seen and heard of Mr Sleech together. To this he added his own opinion on certain documents which Mr Sleech had produced, with apparent unwillingness, to criminate Harry.

He also found from the porter in Idol Lane that the two young men had been in the constant habit of going out together, and very often not returning till a late hour. These and other circumstances which need not be narrated, made Mr Kyffin resolve to watch very narrowly the proceedings of Mr Sleech for the future. Suspicion is more easily aroused than quieted. On further inquiries he had no doubt that the letter for which Silas Sleech had called during his absence, addressed to his house at Hampstead, was from Harry, and that it had been purposely withheld, although Silas declared, when taxed with receiving it, that he had forwarded it to Ireland. Altogether there was a fair prospect that the rogueries of Mr Silas Sleech would be brought to light. Still, however, he sat at his desk, working on with apparently the greatest diligence, and the same unmoved countenance as usual.

In the meantime Mr Sleech had taken possession of Stanmore for his son, and he and his family were making themselves thoroughly at home in their own fashion. They were somewhat indignant that the neighbourhood did not immediately call and pay that respect which their relatives had been accustomed to receive. It cannot be supposed that Mr Wallis, nor even Dr Jessop, had been silent with regard to the way Mr Sleech had behaved to his sister-in-law and niece, while Paul Gauntlett took every opportunity of describing how he had defended the house, and how they had ultimately outmanoeuvred him.

Chapter Eighteen.

On the Raft.

We must now go back to a solitary raft which bore Captain Everard, Harry Tryon, and Jacob Tuttle tossing on the bosom of the wide Atlantic. The sea, after the foundering of the frigate, had gone down, and several casks had floated, which had been secured by the occupants of the raft. One contained bread, another meat, and a third, more valuable still, water. By these means there seemed a prospect that those on the raft might preserve their lives. Still, as day after day passed by, and their provisions decreased, the fate from which they had at one time expected to escape, again appeared to approach them.

Eagerly they strained their eyes, in the hope of seeing a sail, but the sun rose and the sun went down again and still they floated all lonely on the ocean. The last drop of water was expended, not a particle of food remained. They knew that a few days might probably end their existence. Harry Tryon kept up his spirits, and endeavoured to sustain those of Captain Everard, who felt acutely the loss of his ship. Harry, however, had not made himself known to him, while Jacob Tuttle always addressed him by the name of Brown. One of their number was sinking fast, another poor fellow had become delirious. It seemed too likely that they would drop off one by one till none remained upon the raft. Again the weather became threatening. A dense mist lay over the water. Few of those on the raft expected to see another daybreak. At length, however, the dawn appeared, but still the mist surrounded them. Suddenly it broke, and the bright sun burst forth and shed his rays on the white canvas of a vessel close to them. They shouted and waved. Their voices could not have been heard, but they were seen. The vessel bore down upon them, and in a few minutes they were hoisted safely on board.

The vessel was from the Saint Lawrence, homeward bound. They were treated with kindness. The weather was fine. For many days they made good progress. They were expecting in the course of another day to sight the Irish coast. A gale sprung up. They were driven off the coast. The brig was dismasted, and lay helpless on the tossing ocean. Just when about to get up jury masts, a strange sail hove in sight. She was a French privateer, and the battered vessel became her prize. The officers of the merchantman, with Captain Everard and part of the English crew, were taken on board the privateer; but several men, among whom were Jacob Tuttle and Harry, were left on board the brig to assist the prize-master in navigating her into port. Fortunately, however, on her voyage the prize was separated from the privateer, and was recaptured by a British man-of-war, to whose decks Harry and Tuttle, with several other able-bodied seamen, were transferred, while the prize was sent into Falmouth.

Harry soon discovered that all ships in the British navy were not alike, and he and Tuttle often wished themselves on board the “Brilliant,” under the command of Captain Everard.

Chapter Nineteen.

The Mutiny at the Nore, and how the Hero became implicated in it.

Once more Harry gazed on the coast of England. He felt an earnest longing to go on shore and see Mabel. He wished to tell her that her father had escaped death, and that, although a prisoner, he might soon return home. The “Latona,” the frigate on board which Harry found himself, sailed swiftly up the Channel, and rounding the Isle of Wight, came to an anchor at Spithead. A large fleet lay there, under the command of Lord Bridport. Harry, with several others, asked leave to go on shore. He was sternly refused. The captain of the frigate was one of those men who seemed to take delight in tyrannising over their crews and in making them miserable. No, not although Harry pleaded his shipwreck and the suffering he had gone through. The captain turned a deaf ear to his entreaties. Several ships’ companies had similar causes of complaint.

Harry soon discovered that something was going forward among the men, but he was not trusted. Disaffection rapidly spread among the crews of the ships. At length they began to speak openly of their grievances. Harry, finding it impossible to get on shore, wrote two letters: one to Mabel, the other to Roger Kyffin. He told Mabel, that in all the dangers he had gone through, he was true to her as ever. He described the sinking of the ship, and his satisfaction at having been the means of saving her father’s life. His chief disappointment was at not finding himself, as yet, on the quarter-deck, but still he trusted that an opportunity would occur to enable him to make his way there. To Mr Kyffin he wrote as before, assuring him that he had heartily repented the follies he had committed, and that he trusted he might have the means of clearing his character from any imputation which his sudden flight might have cast on it. It must be remembered that Harry was not aware of the accusations brought against him, and that Sleech, instead of defending him, had done his utmost to confirm the idea of his guilt. The letter addressed to Mabel reached Lynderton, but being addressed to Stanmore Park, was sent there by the postmaster, an especial ally of Mr Sleech. That gentleman received it, and he had an idea that it might contain some information: at all events, it might be worth perusal. His colour changed somewhat as he read on.

“The captain alive!” he exclaimed. “So ho! That may give trouble. I wish he was fathoms deep down in the ocean. And this young fellow, this Mistress Mabel loves him! Well, if she marries him, there will be a couple of beggars wedded. And she disdains my son Silas, the creature! We will pull her proud heart down yet, in spite of her father. I don’t like the captain coming to life again, though; I must consult Silas. Tom’s a fool: there is no use talking to him. I must send for Silas post haste. He has got more wits than all the family put together.”

The result of the letter Mr Kyffin received has already been seen at the commencement of the narrative. Before that he had begun to fear that his ward was really dead. The letter had reassured him, but left him very much in the dark as to where Harry was to be found.

Harry had another letter to write; it was, however, not on his own account, but on that of his friend Jacob, who was ignorant of an art not generally possessed by seamen in those days. It was addressed to Mary Tanner, Mabel’s waiting-maid.

“Well, Jacob,” said Harry, as he sat down on the maindeck alongside a gun with a piece of board as table, “I will write, gladly, but you must tell me what to say.”

“Tell her I love her as much as ever, and that I am glad to come to life again, if it was only for the sake of seeking her. And now just write down, ‘I am glad to say that fine young chap, Harry T. (you know who I mean, Mary), saved our captain’s life when the ship went down, and we were on the raft; leaped overboard, swam ever so far, and brought him safe to it. The captain, however, does not know to this day who he is, and thinks he’s one Andrew Brown.’”

“I don’t think I can say so much: it’s like sounding my own praises,” observed Harry.

“No, I tell you; it isn’t you sounding them; it’s me writing the letter, and you just puts down what I say; so go ahead, Harry!”

Harry continued. The letter was almost as long as his own, but he did not grudge the trouble. It was at once despatched, but instead of being addressed to Stanmore Park, it was directed to Widow Tuttle’s cottage, where, Jacob stated, it was his belief that Mary would frequently go, and she might then give his mother the first account of his safety.

Sailors’ letters in those days often went astray. This, however, after considerable delay, reached its destination; and sure enough, on that very day, Mary was paying the widow a visit. Thus her sorrow was quickly turned into joy; although somewhat subdued, when she found that Jacob had no chance of leaving his ship to come and see her. After she had read the letter two or three times to the widow, she hastened back with it to rejoice the heart of poor Mabel.

Important events were at this time taking place on board the fleet. Some time before, petitions had been sent up from all the line-of-battle ships at Portsmouth to Lord Howe, making various not unreasonable requests. It had been observed, however, by one of the red-tape officials, that all the petitions were written by one person, and couched in the same language, and therefore it was believed that they were the productions of some factious or mad-brained individual, who was not worthy of notice. They were accordingly thrown on one side, and no answers were returned. After this the fleet put to sea. On its return, the seamen finding that their petitions had not been replied to, were much irritated, justly feeling that those who were fighting their country’s battles were worthy of respect. Several violent and disaffected persons were found on board every ship, and these worked on the minds of the other seamen. A general correspondence was established throughout the whole fleet, and at length it was unanimously agreed by the respective crews, that no ship should lift an anchor till a redress of grievances was obtained.

The morning of the 13th of April arrived. Lord Bridport ordered the signal for weighing to be thrown out on board the flag-ship. Instead of obeying it, the seamen of the “Queen Charlotte” ran up the shrouds, and gave three cheers as the signal for mutiny. This was answered in the same manner by every ship in the fleet. The captains and their officers, although taken by surprise by this sudden act of disobedience, used every means in their power to persuade the men to return to their duty, but all their exertions were ineffectual. They were, however, treated with every respect, the seamen declaring that they were ready to obey their orders as soon as they had received ample assurance from the Government that their grievances would immediately be redressed.

On the following day, two delegates were appointed from each ship, to represent the whole fleet, and the admiral’s cabin on the “Queen Charlotte” was fixed as a place where they should meet to hold their deliberations. On the 15th every man in the fleet was sworn to support the cause in which he had embarked. They next proceeded to reeve ropes at the foreyard-arms, as a sign that they intended to run up any who disobeyed them, and after this they turned all officers out of the fleet who had by their behaviour in any way offended them. The day after this a committee of the Board of Admiralty arrived at Portsmouth, and made several propositions to the delegates, hoping to induce them to return to their duty. Nothing, however, would satisfy the seamen, unless the arrangements were sanctioned by the King and Parliament, and a general pardon guaranteed by proclamation. After this several admirals visited them with the same want of success. Lord Bridport, in consequence, struck his flag, declaring that he would not again hoist it. The ships on this loaded all their guns, kept watch as at sea, and put everything in a state of defence, confining all the officers to their respective ships. Happily wise counsels prevailed on shore. The King especially urged his Ministers to yield to the just demands of the seamen, and Lord Bridport was sent on board the fleet, informing the men that all their grievances were redressed, and that his Majesty had granted a pardon to all offenders. These events took place while the “Latona,” on board which Harry and Jacob then were, was at Spithead. She was soon afterwards sent round to the Thames. On her passage she encountered a heavy gale, and was run into by another ship, and reduced almost to a wreck. Being afterwards driven on shore, she received so much damage that she was towed up, not without difficulty, into Sheerness, to undergo a thorough repair. Her crew in the meantime were turned over to other ships, Harry and Jacob being sent on board the “Sandwich,” then one of the ships forming the fleet at the Nore. Several of the most mutinously disposed of the frigate’s crew were also sent on board the same ship.

Grievously had poor Harry’s expectation of rising in the service been disappointed! Sent about from ship to ship, he had no means of becoming known to his superior officers, nor had any opportunity been afforded him for distinguishing himself. The romance, too, which he expected to find in a life at sea had terribly worn off. He was among rough, uneducated men, and although many of them were kind-hearted, generous, and humane, there were not a few ruffians and villains of all sorts.

Some of these, when they discovered that he was a gentleman by birth, took especial pleasure in annoying him. He had not failed, however, in obtaining a certain amount of position among them, while he was respected by those who knew him best. One of the men on board especially took notice of him: his name was Richard Parker. He was a clever fellow; had been, Harry heard, a petty officer; but for disrespectful conduct to his superiors had been disrated. This seemed to rankle in his heart. He possessed, too, a certain amount of education, and he felt himself, and perhaps really was, equal in that respect to many officers.

Parker had made it his business to discover all the most mutinously disposed men in his own ship, as also by degrees on board the other ships of the fleet—thus, in course of time, there were several hundred men scattered about the fleet ready to obey any commands he might issue. What his ultimate aims were Harry could not discover. Parker soon saw that he must proceed carefully with Harry, if he wished to secure his assistance. To Harry, indeed, his plans appeared very moderate, and all calculated really to forward the best interests of the seamen.

“I must trust to you, Brown, then to help me,” said Parker. “You are just the fellow I want for a right-hand man, on whom I may thoroughly rely. If men like you and I, and others of sense and education, don’t watch over the welfare of our poor fellow-seamen, depend upon it they will soon again be treated as they were before. To my mind, although we have gained something by the little outbreak of the fleet at Spithead, we have not gained enough, and more must be done. Brown, I know you will help me. I want to send letters round to each ship in the fleet, and advise the men to select delegates, as was done at Spithead.”

Harry saw no reason for refusing, and wrote letters, which Parker sighed. His advice was implicitly followed, and in a short time delegates from all the ships arrived on board the “Sandwich,” which at that time carried the flag of Vice-Admiral Buckner. A council of delegates was formed, and Richard Parker was appointed president. Certain petitions were drawn up, which were sent to the Admiralty. The principal part of them were refused, but the men were promised forgiveness if they would at once return to their duty. Admiral Buckner, who delivered this message, was laughed at in return, and the boats of the fleet being instantly manned, the crews went into the harbour, and brought out all the gunboats, and proceeded to the Great Nore. As they passed the fort at Sheerness, they fired at it in defiance, though without doing any damage. On their return they struck the flag of Vice-Admiral Buckner, and hoisted the red flag for mutiny in its stead. All the ships also which lay near Sheerness were compelled to drop down to the Great Nore, in order to concentrate the scene of their operations. Among them was the “Saint Fiorenzo,” which had just been fitted up to carry one of the royal princesses, just married to the Prince of Wurtemburg, over to Germany. Harry and Jacob talked over the proceedings of their shipmates. They could not but perceive that they were very dangerous, and, indeed, more serious grievances having been so speedily redressed, utterly unjustifiable. Still Harry was unfortunately committed to the cause of the mutineers, especially from having written the letters, and otherwise aided Parker.

Parker doubted him, but still treated him with considerable attention. Vain were all the efforts made by the Commissioners of the Admiralty to bring the crews back to obedience. So bold, indeed, did the delegates become, that they landed in various places, and supplied themselves with the provisions they required. It was their constant custom to land at Sheerness, where they held conferences with the greatest publicity, and afterwards paraded the streets, with flags flying and music playing, Parker, as the admiral of the rebel fleet, marching at the head of the procession. They went on board, also, all the ships they could visit, persuading the crews to join them. In spite of Harry’s objections to go on shore, Parker insisted on several occasions that he should accompany him.

“I tell you, my lad, I am your friend, and will bear you harmless,” answered the rebel chief; “and go you must. I want you.”

Harry knew that it would be dangerous to disobey, but he did not consider the still greater danger of being seen in company with the most desperate of the mutineers.

On one occasion, when he was on shore with Parker, after the delegates, as usual, had paraded the streets, they entered the dockyard, where Lord Keith, Sir Charles Grey, Admiral Buckner, and several other naval officers, who had just come down from London, were assembled.

The seamen were proceeding in their usual swaggering style across the dockyard, when they came face to face with the venerable Admiral. He fixed his stern gaze on them, asking them how mutineers and enemies of their king and country thus dared to enter one of the royal dockyards? Even Parker, bold and daring as he was, for an instant was staggered, and found no words to reply. Just then, drums and fifes were heard, and an infantry militia regiment marched into the dockyard. The delegates, nothing daunted, drew up, facing them.

Parker had taken the precaution to leave orders on board the ships that should he and his companions be seized, two officers on board every ship should instantly be taken hold of, and ropes rove at the end of the foreyard-arm be made fast round their necks.

Harry, who was among the delegates, found himself placed near several of the officers of the militia regiment. Among them he saw a face he knew. It was that of young Gilby, he was certain. The recognition appeared mutual. Gilby nodded to him.

“I heard that you were at sea, old fellow, but didn’t quite expect to find you in such company,” he cried out.

Harry made no answer, and endeavoured to avoid his gaze. Never had he felt so humbled and annoyed.

Among the group of naval officers were the captains of some of the ships who had come on shore. One of them was the captain of the “Saint Fiorenzo.” A young midshipman of the same ship, standing near Lord Keith, on seeing all the principal leaders of the mutineers together, exclaimed—

“Why not make one bold cast, and catch them all in the same net? It would quickly put a stop to the mutiny.”

The admiral turned round as he heard the voice:

“You don’t know what you are talking about youngster,” he observed, recollecting that the mutineers had their officers in their power on the ships.

In consequence of this they behaved with the greatest boldness and audacity in the presence of the Lords of the Admiralty, and in spite of the troops arrayed against them. A board was held by their lordships at the Commissioner’s house, when the delegates were invited to attend. All expostulations, however, proved ineffectual. The mutineers increased their demands, and grew more insolent in their behaviour. At length their lordships, signifying to the seamen that no further concessions would be granted, returned to town.

On this, further meetings were held on board the ships, at which Harry was compelled by Parker to attend as his secretary. One day, in the presence of Tuttle and several other seamen, Harry expostulated, telling Parker that he did not approve of holding out after so many concessions had been made.

“The first man who disobeys my orders will have a bullet sent through his head,” exclaimed Parker, drawing a pistol. “Disobey me at your peril, Andrew Brown,” he continued, levelling the weapon.

Harry stood firm. A murmur of disapprobation broke out among the men.

“I don’t care whether you agree or disagree, but I ask you again, Brown, whether you will attend me as I order you or not?”

“I will attend you if you force me, but again protest against your proceedings.”

“Come into the cabin then,” exclaimed Parker, fiercely, “and do as I order you.”

Harry was compelled to obey.

The delegates having assembled, a fierce discussion took place as to their future proceedings. Some were for yielding: others, led by Parker, determined to hold out; while a considerable number proposed, in case their demands were still refused, to carry the fleet over to a French port. This traitorous proposition was happily over-ruled by the majority—indeed, many thought that if it was proposed to the men, they themselves would refuse to obey. Finally it was determined to hold out, in the hope of compelling the Government to yield. One of the means taken by the mutineers was to blockade the Thames, and several ships were moored across the river, to prevent a free passage up to London or down. In order to concentrate their force also, the fleet which lay at Sheerness was compelled to drop down to the Great Nore. The line-of-battle ships were then drawn up in a line, about half a mile from each other, with their broadsides abreast. In the space between the line-of-battle ships, the merchantmen and other vessels which had been detained were moored. As all communication was stopped with the shore, the mutineers supplied themselves with water and provisions from these vessels.

All this time, strange as it may seem, the behaviour of the seamen towards their officers, with a few exceptions, was perfectly respectful.

One, however, was tarred and feathered. Two midshipmen were ducked, and some few officers who were especially obnoxious to the mutineers were sent on shore. Four seamen also were severely flogged for speaking disrespectfully of the delegates.

Chapter Twenty.

The Mutiny Quelled.

The report of the commencement of the mutiny at Spithead had caused great alarm among the merchants in London, as well as throughout the country. This second, and far more serious, outbreak at the Nore made many dread the very worst results. The courage and determination exhibited by the King and others in authority soon restored confidence, and active measures were taken to compel the rebellious crews to submit. The shores on each side of the river were lined with batteries, the forts at Tilbury and Sheerness and Gravesend were furnished with furnaces for red-hot shot. The buoys at the Nore and along the coast were taken up, so that the ships would have had considerable difficulty in getting away. Many, indeed, would probably have been stranded in the attempt.

Off Woolwich lay the “Neptune,” a 98-gun Ship, which was manned by volunteers raised by the subscriptions of the merchants of London. A little lower down was the “Lancaster,” 64, whose crew had returned to their duty; as also the “Agincourt,” with several gunboats. A number of merchant vessels were also fitted up as gunboats, and manned by volunteer crews. These were placed under the command of Sir Erasmus Gower, as Commodore, and ordered to drop down the river, and to proceed forthwith to attack the rebels.

We must now return on board the “Sandwich.” Parker, who had assumed the title of Admiral, was still implicitly obeyed by the crews of most of the ships. Notice was brought to him, however, that a few were showing signs of disaffection. This, possibly, might have made him tremble for the stability of his power, and he resolved to collect all the ships he had reason to suspect closer round him. In shore lay two ships at this time: the “Clyde,” commanded by Captain Cunningham, and the “Saint Fiorenzo,” commanded by Sir Harry Burrard Neale.

The “Saint Fiorenzo” had sent delegates to the fleet, but they had from the first voted for moderate measures. Accordingly, Parker sent an order to the two ships to come in and anchor close to the “Sandwich.” Not long afterwards they were seen to get under weigh.

One of them, however, the “Saint Fiorenzo,” soon afterwards brought up again; and the other, instead of obeying Parker’s orders, stood up the river towards Sheerness. Parker, in a great rage, ordered a body of delegates to go on board the “Saint Fiorenzo,” and to bring her in and place her between the “Inflexible” and “Director,” when her sails were to be unbent, and her gunpowder sent on board the “Sandwich.” The delegates, on going on board the “Saint Fiorenzo,” abused her crew for allowing the “Clyde” to escape them without firing into her, and threatened them with the vengeance of Admiral Parker, if they did not obey his orders. In spite of the threatening aspect of the “Saint Fiorenzo’s” crew, her delegates expressed their readiness to comply, and at length the mutineers took their departure. A short time afterwards the “Saint Fiorenzo” was seen to get under weigh, and to stand out under all sail towards the fleet. On she came till she got in between the two line-of-battle ships. By the orders of Parker, who seems to have suspected her intentions, the crews of the different ships stood at their guns, which were double-shotted, with the lanyards in their hands, ready to sink her. Her crew had been made aware of this by the delegates. Suddenly all her sheets were let fly, her helm was put hard aport, and she shot ahead of the “Inflexible.” The moment afterwards her brave captain, Sir Harry Burrard Neale, sprang on deck, crying out, “Well done, my lads!” A loud shout rose from the deck of the “Saint Fiorenzo.” On seeing this, Parker ran up the signal to fire, the “Sandwich” herself setting the example; and immediately the whole fleet of thirty-two sail began blazing away at the “Saint Fiorenzo.” The shot fell as thick as hail round her. Still she stood on, though of course without returning the fire. There was a strong breeze, and she was a fast ship. Though so many guns were firing at her, and she was frequently hulled, not a rope was shot away, nor was a single man killed, or even hurt.

On she stood, and not till she had got to some distance did Parker think of ordering any ship to pursue her. He walked the deck for some minutes in a state of agitation. He was afraid of getting under weigh himself, lest during his absence other ships might desert. He possibly thought it very likely that if he ordered any other ship to pursue, her crew might refuse to return. The seamen formed their own opinions on this transaction, and came to the conclusion that there was not that unanimity in the counsels of their leaders, which they boasted of possessing. Even now they desired to evince their loyalty, and on the 4th of June, which was his Majesty’s birthday, the whole fleet fired a royal salute, and dressed the ships with flags as usual. The red flag was, however, kept flying at the maintopmast head of the “Sandwich.”

One of the captains most beloved by the seamen was the Earl of Northesk, commanding the “Monmouth,” a 64-gun ship. The mutineers having their confidence somewhat shaken, determined to request him to try and effect a reconciliation with the Government. The delegates went on board the “Monmouth,” and invited him to meet the mutineer committee on board the “Sandwich.” His lordship accordingly went on board, attended by one officer, and found sixty delegates seated in the state cabin, with Parker at their head. He undertook to carry up their terms to the Government, pledging his honour to return on board, with a clear and positive answer, within fifty-four hours. He told them, however, that from the unreasonableness of their demands, they must not expect success. He immediately proceeded to London, where, after conferring with the Admiralty, he accompanied Earl Spencer to the King.

As might have been expected, the demands of the seamen were rejected as exorbitant and unreasonable. An officer immediately carried down the refusal of the Lords of the Admiralty to the rebel fleet. Soon after this was known, several ships attempted to make their escape from the mutineers. One, the “Leopard,” succeeded and got up the Thames. Another, the “Repulse,” unfortunately ran aground, when she was fired on by the “Monmouth;” and one of the officers lost his leg, and a seaman was wounded. The “Ardent,” the third ship, effected her escape, but passing the “Monmouth” was fired at, and several of her crew were killed and wounded. Confusion and discord now pervaded the rebel councils. On the 10th of June, many other mutinous ships struck the red flag, and the merchant vessels were allowed to proceed up the river. On the 12th, most of the other ships also hauled down the rebel flag, only seven keeping it flying. The next day the remainder intimated an inclination to submit. However, the crews in all cases were not unanimous, and many desperate struggles took place on board the ships between the partisans of the officers and those who still wished to hold out. Happily at this juncture of affairs an officer arrived on board the “Sandwich,” with the King’s proclamations and Acts of Parliament, of which it appeared that Parker had kept the crews ignorant.

The deception which had been practised on the men by the delegates so enraged them, that the crew of the “Sandwich” carried the ship under the guns of the fort of Sheerness. As soon as she anchored, a boat with a guard of soldiers came off, and making their way on deck, ordered Parker to deliver himself up. As they appeared, one of the delegates belonging to the “Standard,” who was on board, pointing a pistol at his own head, shot himself dead. Parker, as soon as he heard that a boat had come off, placed himself under the protection of four of the ship’s crew, the rest of the seamen threatening forthwith to hang him. He and about thirty more delegates were immediately handed over to the soldiers, and they were landed amidst the hisses of the surrounding multitude, and committed to the prison in the garrison of Sheerness. The first batch of mutineers having been so easily captured, the rest of the ringleaders, and all others in any way implicated in the mutiny on board the various ships, were immediately placed under arrest. In the list of the unhappy men to be tried for their lives was the name of Andrew Brown.

Poor Harry! he felt grievously his position. He had protested against the proceedings of the mutineers, but how could he prove this? He could not deny that he had written out a number of documents issued by Parker, and the excuse that he had done so under compulsion was too commonly made by others to allow him to have much hope of its being believed in his case. Up the Thames was the prison ship. Here Harry, with a number of mutineers, was conveyed. Many of his companions were desperate characters, who seemed only to dread the punishment they might receive. He felt that unless he could be proved innocent, death was the only alternative he could desire. Yet it was hard to die. He had looked forward to a life of happiness with one to whom his undivided heart was given; one well worthy of the affections of the best of men. His honour was gone. His name, if it was known, would be blasted, and he must die the death of the worst of criminals. One gleam of hope alone remained. As he was led off by the soldiers sent to apprehend the mutineers, Jacob Tuttle had shaken his hand, and though he did not speak, had given him a significant look, which had evidently been intended to keep up his spirits. Happily Tuttle had taken no part in the mutiny, and had been among the first to urge his shipmates to return to their duty. Still how could an illiterate seaman, unable even to write, be able to help him?

The trial of Richard Parker very soon after this took place on board the “Neptune,” of 98 guns, off Greenhithe, a few days having been allowed him to prepare for his defence. No trial could have been more fair or just. Parker defended himself with considerable ability. Nothing, however, could be stronger than the evidence brought to prove that he was one of the chief instigators of the mutiny, and that he had acted as the chief of the mutineers. The court accordingly adjudged him to death. Parker heard his sentence with a degree of fortitude and composure which excited the astonishment of all present. He submitted, he said, still asserting the rectitude of his intention.

“Whatever offences may have been committed,” he added, “I hope my life will be the only sacrifice. Pardon, I beseech you, the other men. I know that they will return with alacrity to their duty.”

On the 29th of June, Parker was conveyed on board the “Sandwich,” the ship on board which he had acted so prominent a part. On being conducted to the quarter-deck, the chaplain informed him that he had selected two psalms appropriate to his situation. Parker assenting, said, “And with your permission, sir, I will add a third,” and named Psalm thirty-one. Prayers being ended, he arose from his knees and asked the captain if he might be indulged with a glass of white wine. On its being presented to him, he exclaimed, lifting up his eyes, “I drink, first, to the salvation of my soul; and next, to the forgiveness of all my enemies.” He then begged that Captain Moss would shake hands with him. This the captain did. He then desired that he might be remembered to his companions on board the “Neptune,” with his last dying entreaty to them to prepare for their destiny and to refrain from unbecoming levity. On being led to the scaffold on the forecastle, he asked whether he might be allowed to speak.

“I am not going to address the ship’s company,” he added; “I only wish to acknowledge the justice of the sentence under which I suffer, and to pray that my death may be considered a sufficient atonement for the lives of others.”

Turning round, he then asked if any person would lend him a white handkerchief. This, after a little delay, was handed to him. He then begged that a minute might be allowed him to recollect himself, when he kneeled down about that space of time. Then rising up, he said, with considerable dignity, and perfect coolness, “I am ready,” and firmly walked to the extremity of the scaffold. For an instant he stood there, full of life and strength, with a head to plan, and nerve to carry out his objects. He dropped his handkerchief, the gun was fired, and he was run up to the yard-arm. A struggle, and he was dead.

For more than a month the court-martial continued sitting and trying the other mutineers. A considerable number received sentence of death; among them was Andrew Brown. Several were ordered to be flogged from ship to ship, and others were confined in the Marshalsea prison for certain periods.

Parker’s was the first death, but many of the other ringleaders were directly afterwards executed at the yard-arms of their respective ships. The prisoners were tried in succession, and the sentence was forthwith carried out on those who were condemned to death. Harry fully expected ere long to be called forth to undergo his sentence, and he came to the resolution of not attempting any effort to escape his doom.

Chapter Twenty One.

Mabel’s Resolve.

Mabel and her aunt had taken up their residence for some time at the small bow-windowed house in the upper part of the town of Lynderton. It had been described as a very genteel residence for a spinster lady. To say that it had neat wooden railings before it, and steps leading up to the front door, kept scrupulously clean, will be sufficient to give an idea of Mabel’s new abode. The style of life the two ladies led was very different to what they had been accustomed to. Mary remained as general servant, while the cook, who had grown fat and aged at Stanmore, entreated that she might accompany her old mistress. Paul Gauntlett declared that the day he should be separated from them would be his last. So he also was allowed to take up his abode in the bow-windowed house, though his accommodation was limited in the extreme. All he wanted was house-room. Wages he would not receive, and he had been too long accustomed to forage for himself to require being fed. It cannot be said that the family were reduced to complete poverty, still their means were very scanty. Mabel had literally nothing, but an annuity had been secured to Madam Everard on the Stanmore estates, which Mr Sleech could not touch, though he did his best to make it as small as possible by putting her to considerable expense before she could obtain it.

Strange to say, when Mabel heard that her father and Harry were still alive, her regret for her loss of property was greater than it had been previously. She had formed all sorts of plans for her future career. As long as her aunt lived, she would attend to her. When she was called away she would go out and teach, or enter some family as a governess. Now, however, the case was altered. Her father would never consent to her doing that, while she could no longer hope, as she had hoped, to become the well-dowered wife of Harry Tryon. She loved him—that she knew. Would he continue to love her? She had no doubt about that, but would he have the power of giving her a home? Would he be able to return to the position he had abandoned in Mr Coppinger’s counting-house, and, with the assistance of his guardian, labour till he had gained an independence? She thought Harry would be capable of anything. Her father would, at all events, be ready to help him by every means in his power. He surely could refuse nothing to the man who had saved his life so bravely at the risk of his own. Her father had always been looked upon as a man of great influence. It did not occur to her that this arose from his being supposed to be the heir of Stanmore—the owner of the borough, who could return two members at his will. Poor girl! Captain Everard as he had been, and Captain Everard, though a very good officer, without a vote in Parliament, and with his pay only to support him, were very different persons.

The Everards had always been Tories. Mr Sleech supported the opposite party, and was now giving all his influence to the Whig interest.

The people in the neighbourhood, however, called very frequently at Madam Everard’s door to inquire after her. Among the few admitted was the Baron de Ruvigny. Each time he came he talked more and more of the Coppingers, and Mabel could not help discovering that he was completely captivated by the charms of Sybella Coppinger. He brought also all the news of the day. From Paul Gauntlett, however, who read the paper through, they learned chiefly the progress of the mutiny.

Mabel at length became very anxious about Harry. She did not know in what ship he was serving, and though she felt sure that he would not join the mutineers, she could not help dreading that he might be placed in danger in consequence of what was occurring. Her anxiety was increased by not hearing from him as she had expected. She was certain that he had not forgotten her. Her confidence, indeed, in his faith and love remained unshaken. At last Mary received a letter in an unknown hand. It was very unlike the one which Harry had written at Tuttle’s dictation, but this also professed to be from Jacob. It was short, for the writer was evidently not much accustomed to the use of the pen. It ran thus: “Dear Mary,—This comes to tell you that we’re in a mess. Some of our fellows have been holding out against the Government, and have got nothing for their pains. We have had a number of delegates going about from ship to ship, and they have been and got some of themselves hung, and not a few flogged round the fleet. Sarves them right, say I. I should not mind it, if it was not for a shipmate, you knows who, who has been put in limbo. His name abroad is Andrew Brown, but your young lady knows him, and knows that that is not his name. Worser still, he’s going to be hung. If I could get liberty, I’d go and see you and tell you all. It’s a sad thing, and I would give my eyes to save the young chap.—Yours to command, Jacob Tuttle—his cross X.”

Mary, who had not deciphered the letter very clearly, brought it to her mistress. As Mabel finished it, the paper fell from her hands. A deadly pallor overspread her countenance, and she fell back fainting into the arms of her attendant. Happily, Paul at that moment came into the sitting-room, and assisted the damsel in placing her mistress on a sofa. While Mary ran to get restoratives, and to call Madam Everard, his eye fell on the paper. Seeing the rough style of handwriting, he thought that he might with propriety read it over.

“That’s it,” he said to himself; “it’s that young gentleman, he’s gone and done something desperate. We must get him out of the scrape, or it will be the death of Miss Mabel.”

Mabel quickly returned to consciousness and found Paul and Mary standing near her. Madam Everard had gone out.

“I know all about it, Miss Mabel,” said Paul, “and I want to help you.”

“Do you think this can allude to Harry?” she asked; “I mean Mr Tryon.”

“Too likely,” said Paul; “I won’t deny it, because it’s clear to my mind that something must be done to save him. Cheer up, Miss Mabel. We will do it if it can be done. There’s that old gentleman who takes an interest in Master Harry—his guardian, you call him. I would go to him. He would be the best man to say what can be done, and I am sure he would do it.”

“Oh! that he would, for I am confident that Harry is innocent. He never would have done anything worthy of death. I will go up to the Admiralty and plead for him; I will tell them who he is. They would never allow him to be executed; or if they will not listen to me, I will go to the King himself. I will plead with his Majesty; he will surely have power to save him.”

Chapter Twenty Two.

Unexpected Evidence.

At an early hour of the day, towards the end of June, two persons on horseback might have been seen proceeding through the New Forest. The sun, just rising, cast his rays amid the boughs of the trees, throwing long shadows over the greensward. Here and there light-footed deer, cropping the dewy grass, started as they heard the footsteps of the horses, and went bounding away farther into the depths of the forest. One of the persons was a young lady mounted on a light, active palfrey; while the other, a tall old man, bestrode a large, strong steed, well capable of bearing his weight. A brace of formidable-looking pistols were stuck in his holsters, while another pair of smaller dimensions were placed in the belt he wore round his waist. In his hand he carried a thick stick, which might have proved no bad substitute for a broadsword.

“It was indeed thoughtful of you, Paul,” said the young lady, looking round at her companion, without in any way checking the rapid speed at which she was proceeding. “I little expected to mount Beauty again, and could not have accomplished our journey so well, I am sure, on any other horse.”

“Why, Miss Mabel, do you see, when we had to surrender Stanmore to Old Sleech, I thought to myself, neither he nor any of his young cubs shall ever mount the horse my dear young mistress has ridden; so as soon as it was dark one night, I trotted him off to my good friend Farmer Gilpin, and says I to the farmer, ‘You take care of this horse, and let no one have him till I come and fetch him away; he’s not stolen, and you need not be afraid of the halter. I will pay you for his keep when I fetch him away.’ Mr Sleech, cunning as he is, had not made a list of the horses, so did not miss Beauty; besides, she was yours, and not his, though he would have claimed her; and that’s the long and short of my story, Miss Mabel.”

“Thank you, thank you, indeed,” answered Mabel. “Do you think Beauty will get through the journey in a couple of days?”

“I am afraid not, Miss Mabel,” answered Paul. “I would advise you to sleep twice on the road, and then you will get in fresh the third day, and be able at once to go to Mr Thornborough’s. He was a friend of the colonel, I know, and from what you tell me, I am sure he will give you as much assistance as anybody.”

Madame Everard, when she heard the dangerous situation in which Harry Tryon was placed, could not bring herself to refuse Mabel’s wish to set off immediately to try what could be done to assist him. She, however, had advised her going at once to her godfather, Mr Thornborough, who, being a man of influence, and possessing great knowledge of the world, was able to render her more help than Mr Kyffin could. She had, however, wisely written to Harry’s guardian, telling him what she knew, and also her purpose of going to the house of Mr Thornborough. She was too anxious to speak much during her ride.

From the rapid rate at which she proceeded it was evident that she knew the road thoroughly, as she had never even to ask her companion which way to take. The two travellers had nearly reached the confines of the forest, when suddenly she came upon a large party of men, surrounding several light waggons. They were sitting on the ground with bottles and provisions near them, while their horses stood tethered at green spots close at hand.

On being suddenly surprised by Mabel and old Paul, several of them started up and seized their bridles. Paul’s stick was instantly raised in the air, as if about to come down on the heads of his assailants.

“Avast there, mate!” sung out one of the men, “we’re not going to ill-treat you if you behave peaceably, but we want to know where you and the young lady are going.”

“Oh, pray let us go!” exclaimed Mabel; “we are simply going to London on a matter of great importance, and whoever you are we cannot do you any harm.”

“Well, young lady, that may be true enough,” answered one of the men; “but you must just come and have a word with our captain. If he has no objection, we don’t want to keep you.”

“Pray let him come and see us immediately,” said Mabel; “we are anxious to be liberated without delay.”

The men, without heeding her request, led her horse and that of Paul a little distance on one side, where, seated on the grass, enjoying a long pipe, with a book at his elbow, and a cup of coffee before him, was a person whose appearance betokened nothing of the smuggler or brigand. As soon as he saw Mabel he started up, and inquired if he could be of any service to her. She told him of the interruption she and her attendant had received, and begged that she might be no longer detained. “Yes, sir, I say it’s a great shame, and times are very bad when a young lady like Miss Everard, with her attendant, cannot ride through the forest without being stopped by a gang of smugglers.”

“Miss Everard, I beg you many pardons,” exclaimed the smuggler captain. “My scoundrels are unable to distinguish one person from another. If you will allow me I will accompany you some way on your road, so that I may protect you from any similar annoyances.”

Saying this the captain sent for his horse, which he immediately mounted, and rode alongside Mabel through the remainder of the forest.

“I must ask your confidence, Miss Everard,” he said; “I am an especial friend of your father’s. Indeed, I owe my life to his courage and gallantry, and I shall be thankful of an opportunity to render you any service in my power.”

“I know, sir, what you say is true,” observed Paul, glancing at the stranger. “I remember your coming to Stanmore that sad night, when Miss Lucy was taken ill, and I was close by when Captain Everard and you were speaking together. Are you not Captain Rochard?”

“You are right, my friend,” said the stranger. “By that name Captain Everard knew me. Necessity, and not my will, compels me to associate with these people,” he continued; “not for the sake of making money, but for another motive, believe me. You do not suppose that your father would allow me his friendship did he believe that I was the leader of a band of outlaws. I may some day tell you my motives of associating with these men. To your father I owe my life, and that alone would make me take an interest in you, young lady; but I may also tell you that I have another reason. We are related, although not very nearly. Your father’s mother was a relation of my father. I never saw her, for she died when I was very young; indeed, I am but a few years older than your father.”

“You related to us? You know then the facts of the marriage of my grandfather to my grandmother. How little did I expect to hear this. You may be of the very greatest assistance to us.”

Captain Rochard assured Mabel that it would be a great satisfaction to him to be so. She then told him of the loss of the certificate, and the successful scheme which their relative Mr Sleech had set up for obtaining possession of the property.

“For my own sake,” she observed, “I care little for what has occurred; but it will be a bitter thing for my father when he returns to find that he has been deprived of the property he thought his own.”

Captain Rochard was silent for some minutes; then turning to Paul, he asked suddenly—

“Do you know in what year the colonel’s brother married?”

“Yes, sir, I mind it well; it was the beginning of the war with France, and much about the time that Frederick of Prussia opened his seven years’ war, and Admiral Byng did not beat the French in the first action, and was shot in consequence. A difficult job Lieutenant Everard had, too, to bring home his young baby, and escape the French cruisers. I mind his coming home as well as if it had been yesterday, and Madam Everard taking care of the little motherless boy, that’s the captain now—this young lady’s father—as if he had been her own child, and the poor lieutenant going to sea, and getting shot the next year. He died as a brave officer might wish to die, on the deck of his ship, lashing the enemy’s bowsprit to his own mainmast, that she might not get away—”

“But I forget dates; in what year was that?” asked Captain Rochard, interrupting the old man, who might otherwise have run on to a much further length in his recollections.

“That was in the year ’56 or ’57 to the best of my mind,” answered Paul. “The captain’s a little above forty, and it’s about that time ago.”

“Thank you, my friend,” said Captain Rochard; “I shall remember the dates, and will put them down by-and-by. Your grandfather, I believe,” he continued, addressing Mabel, “married in the south of France, where my relatives were residing at the time. Alas! this fearful revolution has swept off many of them; but still some few, especially among the older ones, survive. The young, and strong, and healthy were the chief victims. I’ll say no more. I’ll do my best to aid your father, and enable him to recover his rights. I wish that he was in England at present, that I might consult with him first. I am quite willing, at all risks, to go over to France, and to endeavour to bring over the witnesses to the marriage, or the documents which may prove it.”

Mabel expressed her thanks to Captain Rochard, who now inquired what business took her to London. She hesitated for some time. At last she thought, “He’s true and kind, and though he may not be able to assist me, I shall have his sympathy and good wishes.” She then told him frankly of the dangerous position in which Harry Tryon was placed, of course asserting her belief in his innocence.

“That fine young fellow? I know him well,” said the captain. “I am sure he would not commit an unworthy action. I have more power to help him than you may suppose. Give me all the particulars with which you are acquainted, and I will try what can be done. Do you, however, proceed in your undertaking; I have great hopes that your efforts will not be without a happy result. That boy must not be put to death. I would go through anything to save him.”

By this time they had reached the confines of the forest. Captain Rochard said he must go back to his companions. He bade Mabel a kind farewell, when she and Paul continued their journey towards London. Beauty seemed to understand that he was on an important journey, for never had he trotted so swiftly over the ground. Mabel knew the importance of reserving his strength too much to allow him to break into a canter, or to push him on in a gallop, though her own feelings might have prompted her to do so. It was absolutely necessary during the heat of the day to rest. A small inn appeared close to the road. Mabel threw herself down on a little sofa in the room appropriated to her, at the door of which Paul kept ward and watch till it was time again to start. The horses, well groomed and fed, were then led forth, looking almost as fresh as when they started in the morning. Thus, before nightfall a large portion of the distance to London had been accomplished.

Chapter Twenty Three.

In Mr Coppinger’s Counting-House.

Mr Stephen Coppinger had been for some time in town, leaving his family at Lynderton. It was not a time when a mercantile man could neglect his business. There was a great deal to do, for confidence had been restored in the mercantile world after the mutiny of the fleet had been completely put down.

Silas Sleech was at his desk, and, like the rest of his companions, busily employed.

Mr Kyffin did his best to attend to business, but his mind was greatly disturbed. He could gain no tidings of his ward. All he could learn was that he had left the ship in which he had returned to England, and had gone on board another man-of-war. Too probably she was one of the mutinous fleet. Mr Kyffin heard of many men losing their lives in the scuffles which ensued on board the ships when the loyal part of the crew were struggling to restore the power into the hands of their officers. Too probably Harry, on one side or the other—he hoped on the loyal side—might have lost his life in one of these scuffles. He was sure otherwise that the lad would have written to him. One letter might possibly have miscarried, but he would not have gone so long without writing a second or a third time. He was instituting, in the meantime, all the inquiries in his power, but he could not hear the name of Harry Tryon on board any of the ships. He was not aware, of course, that Harry had changed his name, nor that it was a common custom with seamen in those days to do so, for various reasons. Had he known of the existence of Jacob Tuttle he might have applied to him, and he therefore had not the same means of learning about him which Mabel possessed.

On the arrival of the post one morning at Idol Lane Mr Sleech received a letter from his “respected father.” The ordinary observer would have discovered nothing in the countenance of Silas to indicate its contents. He, however, folding it up, put it in his pocket, and forthwith betook himself to the door of Mr Coppinger’s private room, at which he humbly knocked. On being admitted, he explained to his principal that he had received notice of the illness of his father and one of his sisters, and that his presence, as the eldest son of the family, would be greatly required. He therefore entreated that Mr Coppinger would allow him to set forth without delay for Stanmore.

Mr Coppinger was a kind-hearted man, and would on no account detain him if Mr Kyffin could manage to have his duties performed during his absence.

Silas, thanking his principal, withdrew, and in a humble tone of voice entreated Mr Kyffin to make the necessary arrangements. The head clerk looked hard at Silas, who, though not easily abashed, let his eyes drop before him.

“Yes; if Mr Coppinger gives you leave, I will certainly not detain you,” answered Mr Kyffin.

Silas was in a great hurry to be off. Quickly putting the books at which he had been working in their places, he closed his desk and hurried out of the office. Mr Kyffin looked after him.

“So great a villain never darkened that door before,” he said to himself. “May it be the last time he ever passes through it!”

Under where Silas Sleech’s hat and cloak had hung Mr Kyffin saw a bunch of keys. He had evidently dropped them in his hurry to leave the house.

“I am the fittest person to take charge of these,” said Mr Kyffin to himself, and he forthwith retired with them into Mr Coppinger’s room. He there held a consultation of some length; then once more entering the office, he waited till the hour of closing. The clerks were dismissed. He and Mr Coppinger alone remained in the office. Mr Sleech’s desk was opened with one of the keys. Within was a strange assortment of articles, and among others a small iron box, with Mr Silas Sleech’s name painted outside. There were lottery tickets, and pawnbrokers’ duplicates, and packs of cards—some curiously marked—and dice which had a suspicious tendency to fall with the higher numbers uppermost, and letters from dames of scarcely doubtful character.

“I have suspected as much for long,” said Mr Kyffin, “but I could not well bring the proof home. This, however, will convince you that Silas Sleech is not a trustworthy person.”

“Indeed it does,” exclaimed Mr Coppinger; “but see what this strong box contains. Probably if he leaves such articles as this scattered about, without thinking it necessary to conceal them, the contents of that box are of a more damaging character.”

The box was opened by one of the keys of the bunch.

“Ah!” exclaimed Mr Kyffin, “here is a letter directed to me. It is the one I have long missed from my unfortunate young ward, Harry Tryon. Excuse me, sir, while I read its contents.”

Mr Kyffin ran his eye over the letter.

“The poor lad here gives an explanation of his conduct, and his reasons for quitting London. He weakly yielded to the temptation thrown in his way by Silas Sleech, that is very evident, but in no other respect do I believe that he was criminal. However, we will look over the remainder of these papers, and I trust then we shall have the means of exonerating him still further. What do you think of these papers?” asked Mr Kyffin, holding a sheet up to Mr Coppinger.

On it was written over and over again the name of the firm, as signed by Mr Coppinger himself. Evidently the writer had been endeavouring to imitate Mr Coppinger’s signature. He had done so very successfully. Indeed, another paper was found containing a signature which Mr Coppinger declared to be genuine. It was clearly the copy for the others.

“Now I feel sure,” said Mr Kyffin, “that Silas Sleech forged that paper which he wished it to be supposed Harry had forged, while it’s very possible that he may also have forged Harry’s signature to some of the bills which he showed us when he endeavoured to prove Harry’s guilt.”

“I indeed think your account very likely to be true,” said Mr Coppinger. “I am ashamed at having allowed such a scoundrel as Mr Sleech undoubtedly is, to have remained so long in my office undetected; yet so plausible are his manners, that had this evidence against him not been discovered, I should have been unwilling to believe him guilty.”

“You will not let him escape, surely, sir,” said Mr Kyffin; “justice demands that he should be brought to trial, so that the character of your nephew may be vindicated.”

The two gentlemen examined all the papers thoroughly, making notes of their contents, and then locked them carefully up in the safe in Mr Coppinger’s room. Mr Kyffin having accompanied Mr Coppinger to Broad Street, and supped with him, returned at night to the office, where he occasionally occupied a bedroom. He had been in bed for some time, though not asleep, thinking over Harry’s affairs, when he was aroused by a knocking at the door. He heard the porter go out of his room and admit some one. It immediately struck him that it was Silas Sleech; for as the porter knew nothing of his proceedings, he would naturally, without hesitation, admit him. Rapidly dressing, therefore, he struck a light, and putting the pistol, which he usually carried to and from Hampstead, in his pocket, he proceeded down-stairs. The person who had come in did not go to Mr Sleech’s room; but after a few minutes’ conversation entered the counting-house. Mr Kyffin heard him wish the porter good-night, and say that he should not be long.

“Call me at an early hour, there’s a good fellow, for I have to be off betimes,” he added.

Mr Kyffin waited a minute, and then proceeded down-stairs into the office. A light was burning on the desk. By it he saw Mr Sleech hunting about in all directions, evidently looking for his keys. The search was, of course, in vain. He seemed to think so, for producing a cold iron from his pocket, with as little noise as possible he wrenched open the desk. He seized the light and looked in. Dismay was depicted on his countenance. At that instant Mr Kyffin entered the room.

“Wretched scoundrel, confess your villainies!” he exclaimed. “Was it to betray an honest youth, and to blast his character through a miserable feeling of jealousy and revenge, that you pretended to be his friend? Confess what you have done, or prepare to be given over into the hands of justice.”

On hearing Mr Kyffin’s voice Silas dropped the lid of the desk, and slipping off his stool, went down on his knees, holding up his hands with a look of the most abject terror. “I did not intend to injure him, indeed I did not!” he exclaimed, in a whining voice.

“Oh! Mr Kyffin, you know how long I have toiled for the house, and how our employer’s interests were as dear to me as my own; then how can you accuse me of doing such things as you say I have done?”

“Don’t kneel to me,” answered Mr Kyffin, sternly; “don’t add additional falsehood to your other villainies. Expect no leniency from me. Of all bad characters, I hate a hypocrite the most. I will make no promise, but if you will confess in a court of justice what you have done, I may possibly endeavour to have your punishment mitigated, and no other promise can I make.”

“I will do all you ask, indeed I will,” answered Silas, “only don’t look so fierce; don’t shoot me,” he exclaimed, looking at the pistol which, unconsciously, Mr Kyffin had taken from his pocket.

“I have no intention of shooting you, but again say I will make no promises. Mr Coppinger will decide what is to be done with the man who has robbed him, and so cruelly treated his nephew.”

Saying this, Mr Kyffin returned the pistol to his pocket. The round eyes of Silas had been watching him all the time. He now hung down his head as if ashamed to meet Mr Kyffin’s glance. His eye, however, was glancing upward all the time. Suddenly he made a spring, and rushed towards Mr Kyffin.

“I will have my revenge!” he exclaimed, grappling with him.

Mr Kyffin, though advanced in life, was as active as ever. His muscles and nerves had never been unstrung by dissipation, as were those of Silas, who found that he had met almost his match. The young man, however, struggled desperately, as a fierce desire seized him to destroy his opponent. He felt for the pistol in his pocket. With insane satisfaction he grasped it, and was drawing it forth, with a determination of shooting the owner, when he found his arm seized, and directly afterwards he lay on the ground with the sturdy porter and Mr Kyffin standing over him.

Chapter Twenty Four.

A Ball at Stanmore, and what took Place at it.

Mr Sleech and his family were enjoying their possession of Stanmore. He had begun to cut down the trees which he and his son had marked, and as many of them were very fine and old, he was delighted to find that they would fetch the full amount he had anticipated. This encouraged him to proceed further.

“I have often heard that trees about houses are not wholesome,” he observed. “The more space we can clear away the better, and really a five-pound note to my mind is better than an old tree, with its boughs spreading far and wide over the ground, and shutting out the sunlight. Nothing will grow under old trees except fungi, and the ground may be much better occupied.”

A sufficient time had now elapsed, in the opinion of Mr Sleech, since the death of Colonel Everard, his predecessor, to allow him to give a party at Stanmore without impropriety. The Misses Sleech were busily employed in sending out invitations. They asked everybody, whether they had called or not. “The chances are they will come,” they observed, “and it will not do to be too particular.” They were rather surprised to find that several of the principal families in the neighbourhood declined. However, their rooms were sure to be filled, there was no doubt of that. The foreign officers had no scruple about coming, and at a distance there were several families with whom Mr Sleech was more or less acquainted, who would be glad to accept the invitation. Miss Sleech, Miss Anna Maria Sleech, and Miss Martha, who were out, were very anxious to have their brother Silas. They agreed to write to get him down. They could not ask Mr Coppinger to allow him to come merely for the sake of a ball; they therefore begged their father from his fertile brain to invent an excuse, which that gentleman had no scruple whatever in doing. The result of that letter has been seen. At the hour he was expected to arrive, the carriage was sent over to meet the coach, but neither in the inside nor on the out was Silas Sleech to be seen.

“Of course he will come to-morrow in plenty of time for the ball,” observed his sisters, consoling themselves. Old Mr Sleech, however, wanted his son’s advice and assistance.

The morning before the intended fête, when workmen were busy in different parts of the house preparing the rooms, placing tents outside the windows, and arranging flowers and taking up the carpets, a carriage drove up to the door. A gentleman stepped out of it in a naval undress. He looked about him with an air of mute astonishment.

“Who is here? what is taking place?” he asked of the servant who opened the door.

“Why, we are going to have a ball to-night,” was the answer. “Who do you want to see?”

“A ball!” exclaimed the stranger. “My aunt and daughter giving a ball! Has Colonel Everard so completely recovered?”

“Why, bless you, Colonel Everard has been dead ever so long, and the Misses Everard are not in the house. My master is Mr Sleech, the owner of Stanmore. If you want to see him I will take in your name.”

“Are you mocking me, man?” exclaimed the stranger. “Where are Madam and Miss Everard?”

“Why, I rather fancy they have gone to live in the town since they were turned out of this,” answered the man, with an impudent look.

“Let me see Mr Sleech immediately, then,” said the stranger, entering the house. “I must learn clearly what has taken place without delay. Where is Mr Sleech?”

“Who wants me?” asked a voice from the study, the door of which faced the entrance. The stranger, advancing with rapid step, entered the room.

“I am Captain Everard, sir,” he said, facing Mr Sleech, who had risen from his chair with a newspaper in his hand. “Let me know, I entreat you, by what means you have come into possession of Stanmore, and tell me did I hear rightly that my uncle is dead?”

“Dead as a door-mat,” answered Mr Sleech, “you may depend on that; and as to how I came into possession of Stanmore, I came in by right of law. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, Captain Everard, but you know that legitimacy takes precedence over illegitimacy. It is not a man’s fault when his mother has forgotten to get the marriage ceremony performed; but her children have to take the consequences. You understand me, I need not be more explicit.”

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Captain Everard, leaning on a chair to support himself, for though a strong man, late events had shaken him. He was yet more completely overcome by the news he had just heard.

“Mean, sir, that your father, Lieutenant Everard, of the Royal Navy, brother of the late Colonel Everard, and of my beloved and departed wife, was never married to your French mother; no witnesses are to be found, and no documents exist to prove that any such marriage ever took place. By right of law, therefore, when my excellent brother-in-law, Colonel Everard, departed this life, I, as the representative of his sister—he having no direct heir—became possessed of this very fine and beautiful estate. It is not my fault that your father was not married; it is not your fault; nor could I forego the privileges and advantages which accrue from possessing this estate.”

“You should know, sir, that my father was married. The colonel always believed that he was, and treated me as his heir,” answered Captain Everard, with all the calmness he could command. “But, as you say, the law must decide, and if it decide against me, I must submit. You, by some means, have got into possession; I cannot, therefore, turn you out. I can only judge of the way you have treated those dear to me by the manner in which you have received me.”

The captain drew himself up, and was about to retire from the room.

“Come, we are relations, though you bear the name of Everard by courtesy,” said Mr Sleech, putting out his hand; “I don’t want to quarrel about the matter; your ill-luck is my good fortune; that’s the view of the case I take.”

Captain Everard drew back his hand.

“No, sir, no. I cannot impute wrong motives to you; but, at the same time, I cannot pretend friendship to a person who, without apology, casts a stigma on the names of my father and mother.”

As you please, as you please,” said Mr Sleech, in an apparently indifferent tone; “I wish to do you good, but I cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. If you won’t receive my kindness, that’s your look-out, and not mine.”

Captain Everard had always felt an especial dislike to his aunt’s husband; it now, very naturally, increased considerably. Still he spoke calmly.

“I must bid you good-day, sir,” he said. “For my daughter’s sake and my own, you must expect that I will use every means to regain the property which I believe to be rightfully mine.”

“And I will do my best to keep what I have got, and I rather think I shall succeed,” answered the attorney, as the captain left the room without deigning to cast another look upon his relative.

The door had been left open, and the conversation had been heard by several of the servants and workmen. They were mostly creatures of Mr Sleech, for he only patronised those he thought likely to serve him in any way he might require. They had collected in the hall as the captain passed through it—some to gaze at him with curiosity, not unmixed perhaps with pity; others holding their hands to their mouths, as if to hide their laughter.

“I told you what was true, captain, although you did not believe me,” said the man who had admitted him. “I hope you won’t be for doubting a gentleman’s word again when he speaks the truth.”

The captain made no answer to the fellow’s insolence; but, stepping into the post-chaise, ordered the man to drive instantly to Lynderton.

Madam Everard received her nephew with an anxious countenance.

“Where is Mabel?” he exclaimed; “has anything, too, happened to her?”

“She is alive, and I hope well,” answered his aunt. “The poor girl, her feelings have been sorely tried, first by her anxiety about you, and then by the fearful position in which Harry Tryon has been placed.”

She then told him of the mutiny, and of the way in which Harry had been implicated.

“She knows also that he saved your life, and that of course has not tended to decrease her love for him.”

“Harry Tryon saved my life!” exclaimed the captain. “I have not seen him since I met him at Stanmore, that I am aware of.”

“But you knew a young seaman called Andrew Brown; did you not recognise Harry Tryon in him?”

“How extraordinary!” exclaimed the captain. “I several times saw the likeness, but could not believe in the possibility of his having come to sea with me. Yes, indeed, he did save my life in a gallant way, and I longed to hear of the lad again, that I might show my gratitude.”

“I fear that if he suffers, Mabel’s heart will break,” said Madam Everard. “Executions of the misguided men are taking place every day. She has, therefore, had no time to lose, for we know not how soon the unhappy young man may have to share the fate of his companions. My heart sickens at having to utter such words. A week has passed since she left me, and I have not since heard of her. I am very anxious as it is, but I should be still more so were she not under the charge of so trustworthy an attendant as Paul Gauntlett.”

Captain Everard had been so anxious to hear about his daughter that he had not hitherto inquired of Madam Everard further particulars regarding the circumstances which had compelled her and his daughter to leave Stanmore. They were briefly told.

“I must see Wallace,” he said, “and ascertain whether any certificate of my father’s marriage exists.”

While he was speaking the servant entered, to say that two gentlemen were at the door, and the Baron de Ruvigny and Captain Rochard were announced. The latter in his delight, as he entered, seized Captain Everard in his arms.

“My dear friend, I am overjoyed to meet you!” he exclaimed. “What have I heard? Ah! it is too true that you have been deprived of your estate; but though the sun be hidden by a thick cloud, it is sure to burst forth again. Be not troubled about it; I have longed to show how deeply grateful I feel to you for saving my life. Your daughter has told me that you require evidence of your father’s marriage to my relative, and I trust that, even now, though so many years have passed, it may be obtained. It shall be my care, at every risk, to search for it. You could not possibly travel in my distracted country. There may be danger for me, but less danger than there would be for you. If I do not return you will know that I have fallen, and you must then get some one to supply my place. Believe me, though, that it will be my joy and satisfaction to serve you.”

“I trust you, count; I feel sure that you will not fail to do your utmost for me.”

It was with somewhat painful feelings, not unmixed with contempt, that Madam Everard watched the carriages proceeding down the street towards Stanmore, on the evening of the ball. The spinster ladies had either to walk or to club together to hire the only public vehicle in the place, which was constantly kept moving backwards and forwards, from the first moment at which they could with decency appear at the hall, till a late hour in the evening. Miss Sleech, and Miss Anna Maria Sleech and her sisters, of all ages, were dressed out in what they conceived the height of fashion to receive their guests. A few ladies in pattens and high hoods, attended by their maid-servants with umbrellas and lanterns, arrived at an early hour. The Misses Sleech were not afraid of them, as they were their old acquaintances, and they now treated them with that condescending kindness which they felt was due from themselves in their position. Their dresses were admired; the roses on their cheeks and the patches which they had stuck on their faces. They had time also to exhibit the decorations, and the alterations which they had made in the rooms. Mr Sleech, in small clothes and pumps, his hair freshly powdered, a huge frill to his shirt, and the neck-cloth of many turns round his throat, with a coat, put on for the first time, with a high collar, almost hiding his ears, stood ready to make his bows to those he considered worthy of receiving them. For a few minutes he stood practising flourishes with his cocked hat, having received lately a few private lessons from his daughter’s dancing-master, to fit him, as he hoped, for his exalted situation. One thing only was wanting to fill up his cup of happiness, his satisfaction, and pride. He could not help wishing that the eldest scion of his house—the heir of Stanmore—had been present. Even now he thought it possible he might come. At length some guests of greater distinction began to arrive. The officers of the foreign legion of course came, although they were perfectly well aware of the difference between the old and new families; but there was no reason why they should lose an evening’s entertainment. The Misses Coppinger also came with an aunt, a Mrs Simmons, who always went out as their chaperone. They were not aware of the connection between their host and their father’s clerk. It is just possible, had they been so, they might have declined the invitation, that gentleman not standing in any way high in their estimation. Before long, Admiral Wallace hobbled in, his voice sounding loud and cheery through the half-filled rooms, as Mr Sleech bowed and salaamed to him with due respect, and the Misses Sleech performed the courtesies they had learned from M. Millepied, their dancing-master.

“Well, Sleech, you have done the thing well,” cried the admiral. “I little thought to see anybody else than an Everard in this house. However, the world’s turned upside down; rogues get into honest men’s places, and honest men come to the wall—that’s the way affairs go at present.”

“I am obliged to you for the compliment, Sir James,” answered Mr Sleech, again bowing, and not knowing whether to take offence.

“I don’t mean to call you a rogue, Sleech, of course,” answered the admiral, intending to exculpate himself. “Never think of calling a man a rogue in his own house, whatever I may think about the matter.”

Happily for both parties, the conversation was cut short by the entrance of General and Mrs Perkins, whose tall figures completely overwhelmed that of the somewhat diminutive lawyer. Again he bowed as before, now to the lady, now to the gentleman, who returned his salutations in a somewhat cold manner, and passed on, looking round the rooms with inquisitive glances, and making remarks as they passed along. The Misses Sleech curtseyed as before. Mrs Perkins returned their salutes with one of her stiffest bows. Now the people came trooping in more rapidly, and the music at length struck up, to call the dancers into the ball-room, where M. Millepied had been engaged as master of the ceremonies. Bowing to the guests, he assumed his responsible office. Still Mr Sleech looked round in vain for those he would most have delighted to see. There were several whose names he would not have valued much at the back of a bill, and not a few ladies whose characters would certainly have ill borne any very minute examination. Still he hoped that they would not be observed in the crowd, or attempt to make themselves conspicuous. Vain hope. Their names were quickly buzzed about, and they took good care to be seen dancing with the most dashing of the officers, while they paid constant and especial attention to the Misses Sleech.

At length a real English countess arrived.

She had lately come to Lynderton, and knew very little of the politics of the place, but having received the Misses Sleech’s card and an invitation to Stanmore, which she knew to be the principal house in the neighbourhood, her ladyship had accepted the invitation. It is possible that she might have been surprised at the appearance of Mr Sleech and his family, but was certainly too well-bred to exhibit her opinion. She passed on with her daughters, hoping to take up a retired position, where she could observe what was going on without herself attracting attention. Mr Sleech, however, was far too delighted at the honour done him to allow her to carry out her intention, and every instant he was coming up and making one of his flourishing bows, either with offers of refreshment, or with a request of being allowed the honour of introducing most eligible partners to Lady Mary and Lady Grace. They, however, from the first, declined dancing, after which, even had they desired it, they could not, without offending those who had first offered, have accepted other partners.

Mr Sleech was on his way, for about the twentieth time, to the countess, when his eldest daughter came up to him, and, in a hurried voice, said that a person wished to see him on important business.

“Tell him to come in, then; I cannot come out to see him. If he has got any message to deliver he must deliver it here,” answered Mr Sleech, scarcely knowing what he was saying.

His daughter hurried off. Soon afterwards a man was seen in a horseman’s suit passing among the gaily-dressed throng towards the master of the house.

“Who do you come from?” asked Mr Sleech, eyeing him narrowly.

“From Mr Coppinger,” answered the messenger. “It is about a matter of importance, and he told me to see you immediately.”

“What is it? Is it about my son?” asked Mr Sleech, in a nervous voice.

“I believe so; but that will tell you,” said the man, delivering the letter he held in his hand. Mr Sleech, in his eagerness, tore it open, forgetting at the moment by whom he was surrounded. His eyes ran rapidly over the paper. With unrepressed anger he broke silence, exclaiming—

“My son accused of forgery! It is a lie. Mr Coppinger is a base liar; I will bring an action against him for defamation of character.”

The Misses Coppinger, unfortunately, were standing near at the time, and were very naturally indignant at hearing their father thus spoken of.

“The letter says true enough, I have no doubt,” observed Mr Gilby, who had been dancing with one of the young ladies. “If the son he speaks of is Silas Sleech, a more arrant rogue does not exist. I am very certain that he led that young Harry Tryon purposely into all sorts of scrapes, and drove him off at last to sea. Poor fellow! I don’t think I told you what I know about him.”

His remarks were cut short by the confusion which ensued in consequence of Mr Sleech’s behaviour. The letter he had received, although sent in kindness, had completely overcome him. Had he been in his usual state of composure he would probably have put it in his pocket, and kept its contents secret; but being already excited, having paid constant visits to the refreshment-room in order to keep up his spirits, it drove him beside himself. In vain his friends tried to pacify him. He rushed round the room, exclaiming again, “It is a lie! It is a base lie! My son a rogue! The heir of Stanmore accused of forgery! It is impossible; it is impossible! I defy any one to prove it.”

Thus the wretched man went on proclaiming his son’s infamy and his own disgrace. Several of the guests, who had been somewhat unwilling to come, on this ordered their carriages. Even the most heartless felt that they could not with propriety remain, and thus the greater part of the company followed the example of the first.

The Misses Coppinger and their aunt got away immediately, attended by Mr Gilby; and in a short time the gaily-bedecked and highly-lighted rooms were deserted by all the guests, while his children could with difficulty get their father to his room, still but little pacified. The people said, not without reason, that the balls at Stanmore were destined to have a disastrous termination.

Chapter Twenty Five.

A Journey, and what Befell the Travellers.—A Visit to Windsor, and its result.

The days were long, the weather was fine, and Mabel and her companion hoped by starting at dawn to reach London at an early hour on the third day of their journey. They were crossing Hounslow Heath, a part of the country, in those days especially, and even in later years, notorious for the number of robberies committed on travellers. In the far distance were seen dangling in the air two objects, the wretched remnants of humanity, suspended in chains, intended as a warning to evil-doers, but having about as much effect as scarecrows have generally on bold birds who have discovered that they can do them no harm. Mabel turned away her eyes to avoid the hideous spectacle. Paul said nothing, but pulled out his pistols one by one, carefully surveying their locks. Then restoring them to their holsters, he continued trotting on at a rapid pace behind his young mistress.

“We shall be in town, Miss Mabel, long before your godfather sits down to his early dinner, I hope,” observed Paul. “You might spare Beauty a little, for we shall have some steep bits of road soon, and a steady pace will bring us to our journey’s end, maybe, as soon as a rapid one.”

As Paul spoke he caught sight of three men crouching down under some bushes a short distance ahead. Had he been alone, he would have dashed forward and easily have eluded them, should they prove to be footpads, as he thought likely. He was afraid, however, should Mabel make the attempt, that they might succeed in stopping her horse, and then, if going at full speed, he would be less able to take steady aim, or to defend her. At the same time, he did not wish to alarm her before it was necessary. She, however, directly afterwards caught sight of the same objects. They were not left long in doubt as to the intention of those they saw, for as they approached, live men sprang up, and rushing forward seized Mabel’s rein. Paul, drawing a pistol, fired. One of his assailants fell, but this did not deter the others from their purpose. While one of the ruffians held Mabel’s horse, the other three attacked him, endeavouring to pull him from his saddle. Before they had time to seize his arm, he drew another pistol. He fired, but it flashed in the pan. He endeavoured to reprime it, but having no time to do so, he seized it by the muzzle, and began to lay about him with right good will, striking one fellow on the head and another on the shoulder, and compelling them to let go their hold, at the same time shouting at the top of his voice, “To the rescue! to the rescue! Off with you, villains!” and similar cries, which were not without the effect of distracting the attention of his assailants. Still, as they were three to one, and had also firearms, though they had not hitherto used them, it was too evident that they must ultimately succeed in their purpose. Still undaunted, however, the old soldier fought on, continuing to strike with a rapidity which astonished his assailants. One, however, more savage than the others, springing back, drew a pistol from his belt, and was levelling it at Paul, when his eye caught sight of two men, who, at that instant had jumped out of a gravel-pit a little way ahead, and were rushing towards them, flourishing thick sticks which they held in their hands.

“Don’t let the fellows sheer off, Paul, and we will make prizes of the whole,” shouted one of the new comers, springing forward and bringing his thick stick down on the head of one of Paul’s assailants. The fellow dropped as if shot, when the other three men, seeing that their opponents were even in number, let go the horses’ reins and took to flight.

The men who had so opportunely arrived were dressed as sailors. In the most active of them Paul recognised his old acquaintance, Jacob Tuttle. The other was a stranger.

“Well, this is fortunate!” exclaimed Jacob, in astonishment. “Why, Mr Gauntlett, I little thought to see you and Miss Mabel out here. Why, please miss, you are the very lady I was coming all the way to Lynderton to see. Only yesterday I could get leave from my ship to come ashore, and started away up to London, where we stopped a few houts, and then came along south-west, keeping a course for Lynderton.”

Mabel had been so agitated by the attack of the footpads that she had been unable to speak. She now eagerly asked Jacob why he wished to see her.

“It is about a shipmate of mine, please you, miss, as true-hearted a lad as ever stepped—one Harry Tryon, though in speaking to you, miss, I ought to call him Master Harry.”

“Go on, I entreat you,” said Mabel, eagerly.

“You have heard talk of the mutiny, miss, and how the seamen thought they had not got their rights, and how they held out against their officers? Well, the chief of the mutineers, and I have not much to say in his favour, was aboard our ship, and because Harry was a gentleman and could write a good hand, he made him act as his secretary. Now do you see Harry did not wish to do so, to my certain knowledge, but somehow or other, after Parker, who was the chief in the business, was tried and hung, Harry was brought in guilty of helping him. I don’t know how it was I was not called as a witness, or I could have proved that Parker held a pistol to Harry’s head and made him write what he told him. The long and short, however, of it is that poor Harry has been condemned to death, and lies on board the prison ship with a number of other fellows, to be run up one of these days to the yard-arm. Now I thought to myself, he has got friends down at Lynderton who I know would help him. As I could not get away from the ship to give the news, I got a messmate, howsomdever, to write to my Mary, you know her, miss, and tell her all about it. At last, however, yesterday morning, Jack Veal here and I got leave to come ashore and spend a fortnight at home. We lost no time as soon as we stepped on shore, you may depend on it, miss, but came along as fast as our two legs would carry us, and a pretty good job it is we did come, or we should have missed the chance of knocking those fellows on the head and doing you a service, miss.”

“It is indeed most fortunate, and I have to thank you very heartily,” answered Mabel; “and if, instead of going on to Lynderton you will accompany us, you may be of still greater service. I am going up to London, on purpose to see what can be done for Mr Tryon. If nobody else can assist me, I will go to our good King, and ask him to grant his pardon. If you are able to bear evidence that he did not willingly join the mutineers, I am sure his Majesty will grant our request.”

“With all the pleasure in life, miss,” answered Jacob. “I would go a hundred miles to give a helping hand to any shipmate, much more to so true-hearted a chap as Harry Tryon, or Andrew Brown, for that’s the name he goes by. I told you when I wrote through him to Mary how he had saved your honoured father’s life, and if he was in England all things would go right, for he would be able to prove what an obedient well-behaved seaman Harry always was with him.”

“I am right glad to hear you say that, Jacob,” put in Paul. “To my mind, Miss Mabel, it is fortunate we fell in with these two lads, but let us lose no further time. They must keep alongside our horses till we can get a cart or coach of some sort to carry them on. It is very clear there is no time to be lost, and if we get in early to London something may be done even to-day.”

“Make sail ahead, then,” cried Jacob; “Jack and I will keep up with you, and if we can we will lay hands on a craft of some sort to carry us on.”

They had not gone far when they saw the footpads return and carry off their wounded companions. Under other circumstances Paul would have given notice of what had occurred, but he knew by so doing they might have to undergo considerable delay, which for Harry’s sake it was most important should be avoided. They therefore pushed on till they arrived at a small inn on the London side of the heath, where Paul had on several occasions stopped. The landlord knew him, and he was able, therefore, without difficulty, to hire a horse on which the two sailors might proceed. It was the only one in the stable, but as it had an unusually long back, Jacob and Jack agreed that it would answer their purpose quite as well as two.

“Each can take his trick at the helm by turns,” observed Jacob, “though seeing that when a little boy I used often to ride the horses to water, I may be the better hand of the two.”

The stable boy was about to put on a saddle.

“No, no, off with that thing,” observed Jacob, throwing himself on the animal’s back. “Here, Jack, give us your hand. Now sit yourself astern. That will do. Good-bye, Master Gibson, we will send the horse back to you safe and sound, never fear.”

Saying this, Jack and his companion rode out of the stable-yard, and followed Mabel and Gauntlett, who had just before left it.

As Mabel approached London, her eagerness to see her godfather and Mr Kyffin increased. She could scarcely refrain from urging on her steed to its topmost speed, though restrained every now and then by Paul’s voice requesting her to proceed at a more leisurely pace, both for her own sake and for that of Jacob and his companion, who were following on their rough-trotting horse. Before noon she drew rein at the door of Mr Thornborough’s house. She threw herself from her horse, and ran up the steps. Miss Thornborough stood ready to receive her in her arms.

“My dear Mabel, we have heard all about it from Mr Kyffin,” she said. “He is up-stairs with your godfather, and will do all he can; but, my dear child, what a journey for you to take!”

Mabel, thanking her kind old friend, explained that she had brought companions who might be of great service, and begged that they and their horses might be looked after.

“That shall be attended to. And now, my dear Mabel, you must come and rest yourself, and after dinner you shall hear what your friends propose doing.”

“Oh, let me hear at once,” answered Mabel, unconsciously lifting up her hands to Miss Thornborough; “I cannot endure any longer this suspense. Do they think that Harry can be saved? I must see my godfather and Mr Kyffin, and hear what they propose from their own lips.”

Mistress Barbara accordingly conducted Mabel up-stairs. Mr Kyffin came forward in a kind and courteous manner to conduct her to a seat, before taking which, however, she hurried up to her godfather, who kissed her affectionately.

“You must not be cast down, my child,” he said; “Harry’s guardian and I will do all that we can for the lad.”

Mabel felt her spirits somewhat raised on hearing this. Still she saw that Mr Kyffin’s countenance was very grave, as if his hopes of success were but small. As, however, she described having fallen in with Jacob Tuttle and another shipmate of Harry’s, his looks brightened somewhat.

“Yes, I see it,” he answered; “there is hope if we have them as witnesses, but we must be quick in our movements.”

“Oh! yes, yes,” exclaimed Mabel. “I am ready to go down to Windsor at once, where I hear the King is. He may remember me. I little thought that his visit to Stanmore would have been of so much consequence.”

“You will be over-fatiguing yourself, young lady,” said Mr Kyffin, looking compassionately at Mabel. “After a ride of nearly one hundred miles, you are scarcely fit to undertake another journey.”

“Oh, yes, I would mount my horse this instant,” answered Mabel. “I care not for food or rest, when Harry’s life hangs in the balance.”

“To relieve your mind we will go at once, then, I promise you,” answered Mr Kyffin. “A coach and four will be in readiness within an hour. In the meantime you must take some refreshment and rest, and we shall be in time to see the King this very afternoon. After that we must be guided by his Majesty’s reply.”

The road from London to Windsor, as it was traversed frequently by royalty, was in those days one of the best in the country.

A carriage was proceeding along it in the early part of the afternoon, drawn by four horses galloping at a furious rate. Its passengers were Mabel, Mistress Barbara, who had come to take care of her, and Mr Kyffin, while outside was Paul Gauntlett, who would not lose sight of his young mistress, and Jacob Tuttle with his companion, who sat on the box and frequently leant forward urging the postillions to drive faster and faster.

The more Jacob thought of the peril in which Harry was placed, the more anxious he became about him. He had already seen many unhappy men run up at the yard-arms of their respective ships in consequence of their active participation in the dangerous mutiny lately quelled, and he could not help feeling that Harry Tryon might be among the next victims. Many of them were young men, strong, active, intelligent fellows, misled by designing knaves. It is especially painful to see such men, who, though criminal, differ greatly from ordinary culprits, suddenly launched into eternity. Such has been the fate demanded by stern justice of many fine seamen, and undoubtedly those executions had struck a wholesome terror into the minds of British seamen generally. From that day forward no mutiny of any consequence has ever occurred in the British fleet.

At length the numerous towers of Windsor’s proud castle were seen by the travellers. Mabel’s heart beat even quicker than before as the carriage dashed on. At length they reached the foot of the ascent which leads to the terrace. On one side were the walls of the castle, on the other stretched away the greensward, the wide-spreading trees, and the long glades of Windsor forest. Along the terrace were scattered numerous groups of persons, some standing on either side, others walking slowly up and down in conversation, now bowing to those they passed, now stopping to speak a few words to acquaintances. Below, the park was crowded with persons of every degree, all of them in gala costume. The eyes of the greater number turned frequently up towards the terrace, where some object especially attracted their attention. Mistress Barbara and Mabel, with Mr Kyffin, had no difficulty in passing the guards, but their attendants were stopped and told that they could not be admitted on the terrace.

“Oh, but we want them especially to come; it is a matter of greatest importance,” exclaimed Mabel. “We want them to see the King.”

“What is it? who do you want to see?” said a middle-aged gentleman, stepping forward from among several younger people by whom he was surrounded.

“The King,” answered Mabel, advancing. “Your Majesty—it is yourself!” she added, looking up and discovering that she was in the presence of George the Third, who, with several of his own family and three or four of his favourite courtiers and visitors, had just reached the end of the terrace.

“Ah! surely I have seen your face, young lady,” said the King, in his kind, gentle way. “Tell me all about it.”

“I had the honour of seeing your Majesty at Stanmore, the house of my uncle, Colonel Everard,” answered Mabel, “when your Majesty was last there.”

“Ah, yes, and I never forget a face,” said the King; “and how is your uncle?—he is an old friend of mine.”

“He has been called hence, your Majesty,” answered Mabel; “he is dead.”

“Ah! dear, dear,” said the King; “I had heard of it; my friends die quickly, and there are few to replace them; I ought to have remembered. But tell me what you require of me—what can I do for you?”

Mabel endeavoured to explain in a few words, and as clearly as possible, the object of her visit to the King. He listened attentively.

“A sad thing that mutiny, though; but are you certain that young man is not guilty? Can you prove it? There’s the question,” said the King. “People want proofs in these matters. We must not be governed by our feelings.”

“Oh, yes, your Majesty, I know, I am sure he is not guilty!” exclaimed Mabel, clasping her hands, and looking up imploringly at the King. “My liege, you have the power of saving him; oh! let me entreat you to do so. Exert your royal prerogative, and save the life of one who is innocent of the fearful charges brought against him.”

“I should like to do so, young lady, indeed I should,” said the King, kindly, “but I want proofs. Those are what the lawyers require. What proofs can you bring forward?”

“Here, your Majesty, are two men who were on board the ship in which Mr Tryon served, and they are able to bear evidence that he was compelled by the ringleader to perform the acts for which he has been condemned.”

“Ah! let them come forward, and I will hear what they have to say,” said the King. “Are those the men outside who came with you? Let them be admitted immediately!”

On this Jacob and Jack Veal were allowed instantly to go on the terrace, Paul Gauntlett slipping in with them. The King beckoned them forward. Doffing their hats, they stood in a row before his Majesty, Paul a little behind the others ready to make a military salute, while Jacob and Jack kept hauling away at one of the love-locks with which their foreheads were bedecked.

“Let me hear all about it. What have you got to say, my man?” asked the King, looking at Jacob.

“Please your Majesty, he no more wanted to mutiny against your Majesty than the babe unborn,” began Jacob. “Please your Majesty, there’s not a more loyal subject of your Majesty’s in England, not except old Pike, whom your Majesty recollects at Lynderton, and who used to get drunk regularly on your Majesty’s birthday drinking your Majesty’s health.”

“What, do you know old Pike?” exclaimed the King, laughing; “I hope he is well.”

“Oh! bless you, your Majesty, he was well and as merry as a cricket when I was last at home. I have been foreign since then, and have not seen him or my old mother for many a day.”

“Ah, well, I wish all my subjects were as loyal as old Pike,” observed the King, turning round and narrating the anecdote of the prostration performed by the old mace-bearer before him. “And now about this young man, you say he is innocent, but how can you prove it?”

“Why, your Majesty, I can swear my Bible oath that I saw Richard Parker clap a pistol to his head and tell him if he did not obey orders he would blow his brains out. Now, your Majesty, do you see, he thought to himself, ‘If my brains are blown out I can never serve the King again, and if I merely write as I am made to do there can be no great harm in that, and the time will come when I may be able to serve my good King as before.’ Now, your Majesty, I ask if a man was to treat you like that, whether you would not think it was wiser to obey him than to kick up a row about it?”

“As to that, it would depend very much upon what the man wanted me to do,” answered the King. “However, it is clear your young friend acted on compulsion, if your oath is of any value; and what does your shipmate there say?”

“Please your Majesty, I can swear the same thing,” answered Jack Veal, “and what is more, we can bring several other men to prove that what we say is the truth.”

“And what do you say, my tall friend?” said the King, looking up at Paul.

“Please your Majesty, I have known the lad from his boyhood. He is true and loyal to the backbone,” answered Paul, making a salute. “His grandfather, General Tryon, served your Majesty, and perhaps your Majesty remembers the ride he took with you through the forest after your Majesty’s visit to Stanmore.”

“Ah! yes, yes, let me see. I remember the youth well,” said the King. “A well-mannered, intelligent lad. It would be a great pity to have him hung, of course it would,” he remarked, turning round, to the Queen and princesses who were standing with him. “But, my dear young lady, I cannot act in this matter without the advice of my ministers. You must go and see Mr Pitt, and learn what he has to say. If he consents, I will pardon the lad with all my heart.”

“Most deeply do I thank your Majesty for those kind words,” answered Mabel; “but time is precious. Any instant he may be led out to execution, and some time would pass before we could apply to the minister.”

“Oh, that gentleman will help you,” answered the King, turning to Mr Kyffin, “he looks like a lawyer, a clever man, I am sure. You will help the young lady, will you not?” said the King.

“Armed with a line signed by your Majesty I certainly could do so,” answered Mr Kyffin, bowing. “We will hasten back to town and see Mr Pitt, and in the meantime, provided with the order to stay the execution, we will proceed to the ship where the prisoner is confined.”

“Come along, then,” said the King, with a kind encouraging glance at Mabel. “You shall have the paper; I hope it is not unconstitutional. What is the lad’s name?”

“Harry Tryon,” answered Mabel.

“Please your Majesty, that is his real name,” put in Jacob Tuttle, hearing the answer; “but the name he is to be hung by is Andrew Brown; and please your Majesty, if you only give the order to stop Harry Tryon being hung, poor Andrew Brown may be hung up notwithstanding.”

“I see, I see,” said the King. “Well, then, as you are in a hurry, my dear young lady, we will draw out the paper.”

On this the King, with several members of the royal family, attended by Mabel and Mr Kyffin, entered the castle by the side door. The King walked rapidly on through several passages till he entered his private room. Sitting down at a desk he began to write, the rest of the party standing at a respectful distance round him.

“There, my dear young lady, this, I believe, will have its effect,” he observed, as he finished the papers and handed them to Mabel. “You will not lose them, eh? The one you can send on board the ship and the other to the minister. He will attend to my request, I hope. Now speed ye well, and God bless you.”

Chapter Twenty Six.

The Prison Ship.—The Great Minister.—A Gleam of Sunshine.

Some way up the Thames lay a large hulk. Her decks were housed in, her hulk was black; she bore but little resemblance to the stout ship she had once been, except from the ports which were to be seen on either side. They were very thickly grated. It was the prison ship. Low down in one of the dark cells below the water-line, with manacles on his ankles, lay Harry Tryon. His cheeks had become pale, his eye had lost much of its brightness, but hope had not altogether died within him. Still he was fully sensible of the dangerous position in which he was placed. He had become of late a wiser and a sadder man than he had ever been before. Still as day after day passed by and no friends came near him, his spirits sank lower and lower.

“Have they all deserted me?” he said to himself, clasping his hands. “Mr Kyffin would not, I am sure, and Mabel—she knows nothing of my desperate state. Would that I had written to her. Some effort might have been made to save me; but I could not bear the thought of writing to her as a felon, to let her hand touch the paper smelling of this foul prison. Better far that I should die unknown. When the wretched Andrew Brown is run up to the yard-arm there will be no one to mourn him, and Harry Tryon may disappear without a stain of disgrace upon the name.”

He attempted to rise—he could do so with difficulty—to take a few turns up and down the narrow cell. Scarcely ever was he left in silence. There was the ripple of the water against the ship’s side; above him the steps of other prisoners as they, like him, paced to and fro. Now and then there were shouts and cries of men driven to despair by their approaching fate, others singing and shouting with careless indifference. It was weary work, that prison walk, for the chains were heavy. The gyves hurt his legs. Again he sat himself down, and clasped his hands upon his knees.

“Death! death will be welcome!” he exclaimed, “the only termination to my misery and shame.”

As he thus sat his ears caught the sound of footsteps moving along the passage outside. The lock in the heavy door moved, it opened, and a bright light which dazzled his eyes burst in.

“They are come,” he thought, “to carry me off.”

“I am ready,” he said, starting up, expecting to see the gaoler and the guard of soldiers. Instead, as his eyes recovered their vision, he saw standing before him his ever faithful guardian Roger Kyffin. He sprang forward, then stopped for a moment and hung down his head.

“You cannot come to own a wretched convict like me,” he exclaimed, in a tone of sadness.

“Do not say that, Harry,” answered Mr Kyffin, stepping forward and taking his hands. “Not a moment’s rest or happiness have I enjoyed since I learned the dangerous position in which you were placed. Do not doubt the regard I must ever have for you. I have discovered how you have been deceived, and how you were induced to desert your truest friend; I have therefore every excuse for you. I have learned that even in this instance you are guiltless of disloyalty, and, believe me, Harry, however guilty you have been, I should still have looked upon you as a son.”

“You make me desire once more to live,” exclaimed Harry, for the first time perhaps in his life bursting into tears. “I thought no one cared for me. I was prepared to die unknown and unlamented; and oh! tell me, Mr Kyffin, does Mabel know of my condition?—has she discarded me?”

His voice trembled. He looked eagerly in his guardian’s face for a reply.

“No, Harry, indeed she has not discarded you. She is true-hearted.”

“Is there any hope for me—must I suffer as so many unhappy men have done?” gasped out Harry.

“There is hope, my boy. I cannot say for a certainty that you will be saved. Mabel herself obtained from the King a request to his ministers that your life should be spared, and I have seen the governor of the prison, and he believes it confers sufficient authority on him not to deliver you up till his Majesty’s pleasure shall be further known.”

Mr Kyffin then explained to Harry more clearly the particulars of which the reader is already aware. Harry Tryon sank down on his knees, and thanked Heaven from the depth of his heart for the prospect of a release from the ignominious death for which he had been prepared. Alas! he had not often truly prayed. His grandmother had not attempted to teach him even a form of prayer, and seldom, during the life he spent in London had he ever dared to kneel to ask a blessing of his Heavenly Father. He had now, however, learned an important lesson. He had felt his utter helplessness and weakness, and had discovered that when lifting up his heart to God he received a strength and courage which he could by no other means have obtained.

“And Mabel! bless her for what she has done for me! But oh! Mr Kyffin, tell me where is she, how is she?”

“She bears up wonderfully,” answered Mr Kyffin, “and even now she and her kind friend Mrs Barbara Thornborough have gone to Mr Pitt to endeavour, if possible, to see him, and obtain his warrant for your liberation.”

“Then I am sure she will succeed,” exclaimed Harry, joyfully.

“Do not raise your hopes too high, my boy, and yet I would wish to support and encourage you,” remarked Mr Kyffin. “My stay with you now must be short, as I promised to meet Miss Everard after she had had an interview with the minister. Even should he refuse, we must not lose heart. We must bring other influence to bear on him. However, Harry, I know you too well to think that there is any necessity to urge you not to despair. And now farewell. I purpose to return before long. I hope to bring good news, but you must not be disappointed if it is not as good as we wish. This mutiny, so happily quelled has been very serious, and might have proved most disastrous to the country. The nation therefore is naturally little inclined to look with leniency on those who took a part in it, especially on the leaders; and from your having been associated with Parker, you, in the ordinary course, could scarcely expect a pardon.”

Mr Kyffin was gone, and Harry was once more left to his own thoughts. The hours passed wearily by, they seemed longer than any during his imprisonment. Sleep would not visit his eyelids. Anxiously he listened for every sound, hoping for the speedy return of his friend.

Meantime Mabel, who had parted from Mr Kyffin at Mr Thornborough’s house after their return from Windsor, prepared to set out with Mrs Barbara, attended by the two seamen and Paul,—to Mr Pitt’s house at Putney. She waited but a short time to obtain a little refreshment which Mistress Barbara urged on her, and together they drove towards the residence of the minister, while Mr Kyffin proceeded down the river to pay the visit to Harry which has been described.

It was late in the evening when they arrived at the villa. The two ladies, sending up their names, earnestly requested that they might be admitted. Mr Pitt was very much engaged, and could receive no visitors.

“Is Lady Hester at home?” asked Mrs Barbara. “Her Ladyship may remember me,” she observed, turning to Mabel; “if she does, she will, I think, see us, and through her we may press our suit on her uncle.”

The two ladies waited anxiously for the return of the servant.

“Lady Hester will see you, ladies,” was the reply, and Mabel and her friend descended from the carriage.

They were ushered into a handsome drawing-room, where Lady Hester was seated alone at a writing-table.

“I remember you, Mistress Thornborough,” she said, rising and coming forward in a gracious manner. “Tell me, to what cause am I indebted for the honour of this visit?”

“My young friend here will explain it to you,” said Mrs Barbara, now introducing Mabel. “One in whom she is deeply interested has been implicated in the late mutiny at the Nore, and in consequence of proper evidence not having been brought forward which would have proved that he acted under compulsion, he has been condemned to death. We have seen his Majesty, who was acquainted with the young gentleman, and have now come, wishing to see Mr Pitt, with two seamen of the ship on board which he served, who can clearly prove that he was an unwilling participator in what took place. Still time is pressing.”

“I can hold out but slight hopes of Mr Pitt’s interference,” answered Lady Hester. “He sees the importance of preventing the recurrence of such a mutiny by striking a wholesome terror into the minds of the seamen.”

“But surely he would not wish an innocent person to suffer!” exclaimed Mabel. “He can be proved innocent, believe me, your ladyship. The King himself is convinced that he is so. Let me entreat you to beg Mr Pitt to grant a pardon to this young man.”

“You take a warm interest in him,” said Lady Hester, looking at Mabel somewhat harshly.

“Yes, indeed I do, I have known him from his youth,” answered Mabel. “He is true and loyal, and would never have aided so dangerous a conspiracy as this appears to have been, to destroy the naval power of England.”

Lady Hester seemed to relent as she gazed at the young girl. “I am ready to believe you,” she answered, “that this young man is innocent. Tell me, how came he to be on board ship in the capacity of an ordinary seaman?”

Mabel blushed and hesitated.

“Oh, I see how it was,” said Lady Hester; “and now you repent. I will see Mr Pitt, and give him your statement of the case.”

“Then may I beg you to deliver this letter from his Majesty at the same time?” said Mabel, presenting the King’s note.

Lady Hester took the paper, and remarked, as she rose to leave the room, “It may have weight with my uncle, but, at the same time, even the King himself cannot turn him from his will when he has once made up his mind.”

Once more the ladies were left in doubt and anxiety. Mabel could not hope much from Lady Hester’s manner. Mrs Barbara, who had seen her before, argued favourably. Lady Hester was some time absent.

At length the door opened, and she returned, followed by a slightly-built gentleman, scarcely yet of middle age, whose bright eye and broad forehead betokened intellect of no ordinary kind. His manner was somewhat stiff and formal as, bowing to the ladies, who had risen at the entrance of Lady Hester, he took his seat near them.

“You come with a request from his Majesty, I understand, to beg me to interfere in the case of one of the mutineers of the Nore. His Majesty’s commands have always great influence with me; at the same time, you must understand that the matter is one of a most serious character. A great many men have been pardoned who really took a part in the mutiny by supporting their leaders. If the leaders themselves are pardoned, the men will think that, after all, the crime they committed was a slight one,” he observed, in a tone of voice which made Mabel’s heart sink within her.

“But, oh! sir,” she exclaimed, pressing her hands before her in a pleading attitude, “but this young man, Andrew Brown, for by that name he is known, was not guilty of any evil intentions.”

Mabel repeated the statement she had already made to the King.

“You plead his cause earnestly young lady,” said the minister, “and right well, too. Let me see these witnesses, and if they give a satisfactory statement, I will recommend the young man as a fit subject for his Majesty’s clemency. I cannot reverse the judgment of the court, you must remember. If that condemned him, condemned he must be, but his Majesty can exert his prerogative of mercy, and both save his life and obtain his release.”

“Oh! thank you, sir, thank you,” exclaimed Mabel, expressing by her looks more than by her words what she felt.

The minister rang the bell, and ordered the two seamen to be admitted. In a short time there was a scuffling outside. The door opened, and Jacob Tuttle and Jack Veal appeared, one urging on the other, as if neither liked to be the first to enter. They held their hats in their hands, pulling away at their locks as they would have done addressing an officer on the quarter-deck. Lady Hester looked on with an amused countenance as the minister cross-questioned them as to the part their shipmate had taken in the mutiny.

“He took no part at all, please you, sir, for I don’t call writing letters with a pistol held at a man’s head taking part in the mutiny, and I know for certain that he hated it as much as any one. Besides, sir, when we proposed striking the red flag, and carrying the ship up the river, he heartily joined the loyal part of the crew, and a pretty severe tussle we had, too, before we got possession of the ship and handed it over to the officers.”

Jack Veal corroborated what Jacob had said, and Mr Pitt drew forth a considerable amount of further evidence which satisfied him that if these witnesses spoke the truth, Andrew Brown’s guilt was not of a nature to merit death. At last he turned to Mabel.

“I have no hesitation in recommending his Majesty to pardon the young man in whom you are interested. His story is, I have no doubt, a romantic one, and I do not wish to add to the romance by allowing him to finish his career at the yard-arm. You need have no fear, therefore, young lady, on that score. I will send down a reprieve, and will also give you a paper, which will secure a full pardon for your friend on being signed by his Majesty. I must wish you good evening, and I am glad that my niece, Lady Hester, who is staying with me for a few days, has brought the matter before my notice.”

Without waiting to hear the expressions of gratitude which Mabel and Mrs Barbara felt disposed to pour forth, the great minister left the room. Lady Hester warmly congratulated them on the success of their mission, and assured them that she cordially sympathised with them. Jacob, forgetting where he was, on hearing that Harry was to be pardoned, threw up his hat, and in his delight uttered a loud shout exclaiming—

“Bless you, my lady! Bless Mr Pitt, and the King, and all the Royal Family! If I had as many lives as a cat, I would gladly spend them all in the service of so good a King and so noble a minister.”

On entering the carriage, Mabel sank back into the arms of Mrs Barbara, and gave way to her feelings in a flood of tears.

“Oh, he will be saved!” she exclaimed; “I scarcely dared hope it till now.”

At length Mabel appeared somewhat to recover her composure, and worn out by anxiety of mind and the fatigue she had gone through, at length sank to sleep in the arms of her friend. They did not reach home till a late hour. Scarcely conscious, Mabel was carried to bed. Her dreams were far more happy than they had been for many a day. She and her kind friend looked forward with anxiety to the return of Mr Kyffin on the following day. He arrived before noon with the intelligence that the governor of the prison had received the minister’s reprieve for Harry. That afternoon had been fixed for the review of the volunteers in Hyde Park. Mabel felt sure that his Majesty would, if he had an opportunity, immediately sign the pardon which the minister had given her.

It was a lovely day. The sun shone brightly forth from an unclouded sky, and from the various avenues of approach troops marched up to the ground preceded by their bands of music and colours flying—infantry, cavalry, and artillery. The most numerous corps was that of the City Light Horse. Some of the companies, however, were dismounted and marched on foot. Others came in long cars, with their rifles between their knees, while a band of well-equipped horsemen rode up at the head of the regiment, their glittering arms and handsome dresses distinguishing them from the men of other corps. The privates, as well as the officers, were all gentlemen, a considerable number of them men of fortune and independence. One spirit animated every regiment alike—ardent love of their country, and a determination, if called upon, to fight bravely and to die in her defence.

Mr Kyffin and Mabel waited for a favourable opportunity of approaching the King, for Mabel’s anxiety would brook no delay, and she was afraid that he might return to Windsor without signing the paper.

At length the King drew up, preparatory to the troops marching past. The time seemed favourable, as there was an open space near his Majesty by which she could approach. Dressed in deep mourning, and leaning on Mr Kyffin’s arm, her countenance radiant with beauty, her colour heightened by excitement, she drew near to the King. One of the equerries observing her, inquired what she wanted.

“It is not the right moment to approach his Majesty,” he answered.

The King, hearing what was said, turned his head, and seeing her, exclaimed—

“Ah! my dear young lady, how can I help you? What is it? Will not Mr Pitt advise me to pardon the young mutineer?”

“Oh! yes, your Majesty. He has given me a proper document which only requires your Majesty’s signature, but every moment is of consequence. It is cruel to have him kept in that dreadful prison, and I dread lest by any mistake he may be carried off and executed.”

Mabel could scarcely bring herself to utter these words. The King smiled.

“No fear of that, I trust, my sweet young lady, but I will sign the paper. Go and wait for me at Saint James’s; as soon as this affair is over I will come there. Lord So-and-so,” he said, turning to one of his equerries, “remind me that I have a paper to sign; it is for that young lady; you will not forget it now.”

The equerry turned to Mabel and bowed low.

The colour which had left her cheeks rose again in them, for the look cast on her was full of intense admiration. Mr Kyffin whispered to Mabel that she must not press the matter further, and bowing to the King, who gave a kind parting word to Mabel, they retired from among the glittering throng of military officers.

Chapter Twenty Seven.

Silas Sleech Departs from the Scene.—How Mr Sleech enjoyed his Possession of Stanmore.

Prisons even in those days were fearful dens, although considerably improved by the exertions of the noble Howard. In an ill-ventilated room with grated windows, on a straw pallet, sat a young man. His cheeks had gained the prison paleness. A frown was on his brow, and an expression on his countenance, which betokened numerous bad passions. Several other persons were in the room, which was closed by a strong door, barred and locked. Five or six other pallets, a rickety table, and several three-legged stools completed the furniture of the apartment. The young man’s companions had apparently been amusing themselves at his expense. The more angry he became, the more they laughed and jeered.

“Laugh while you may,” he growled out. “You will laugh on the wrong side of your mouth when dragged out to Tyburn. I can, even now, fancy I see you dangling on the gibbet, and more thorough jailbirds have never been taken out to be hung!”

These remarks, of course, produced retorts of equal bitterness.

“As to me, I have no fear of the sort,” at length exclaimed the young man. “To be accused of a crime and to be proved guilty are two different things. No evidence can be brought against me—of that I am certain.”

While he was speaking, the door opened, and the jailer appeared, a couple of armed guards standing behind him. The prisoners gazed at him anxiously; although none of them were convicted, yet all of them in that chamber were accused of capital offences, and each supposed that it might be his turn to be led forth for trial. Most of them knew pretty well that it would be the last scene but one of their existence. The last would be on the scaffold at Tyburn.

“It is an old gentleman wants to see you,” said the jailer, looking at the young man on the pallet bed. “Now you others, behave civilly to him, or I will be down upon you,” he added, turning to the other prisoners.

As he spoke, Mr Sleech, the owner of Stanmore, entered the prison room.

“Oh! is it you?” said the young man, looking at Mr Sleech. “Well, I am glad you have come at last. Here, there’s room for two of us; sit down. It is not a handsome reception-room, and my attendants are somewhat noisy. We must take things as they are. Well, what news?”

Old Mr Sleech was no stranger to similar scenes. He had often visited jails professionally to consult with his clients, but the case in this instance was somewhat altered. The prisoner he now came to see was his own son Silas. It might have occurred to him that he had not brought him up in the way that an honest man should go. The other prisoners, hardened villains most of them, were gathering round with the intention of mocking at the old man.

“He is my father!” said Silas, rising with a greater approach to dignity than he had yet exhibited. “Some of you have fathers. If one of them was to come and see you, you would not like the others to stand round and see him insulted.”

The address had its effect, and the ruffians, in spite of the inclination exhibited by one or two to continue their sport, retired to the farther end of the room, where they sat down at the rickety table. One of them pulling out a greasy pack of cards, they commenced playing.

“How did you manage to get yourself into this trouble?” asked old Sleech; “I thought you were too wise for that.”

“My wisdom will be shown in getting out of it,” answered Silas. “I played a somewhat bold game, and might have made a false move or two, but it cannot be helped now. There will be no evidence brought against me, I am very sure of that Young Harry Tryon went aboard ship, you know that. Well, besides, he was on board the ‘Sandwich,’ and Parker mixed him well up in the mutiny. He was seen with him at the dockyard at Sheerness. I learned all that from an acquaintance of mine—young Gilby. He saw him with his own eyes, so there’s no doubt about it.”

“He may have been mistaken,” observed old Sleech.

“Not a bit of it,” said his son, “he knows Harry almost as well as I do. He has met him scores of times, both at Mr Coppinger’s house and at some of the places which Harry used to frequent. Never fear, it is all right; I shall soon be out of this, and down at Stanmore to enjoy myself. I say, father, we shall want a little ready money to keep up the game. We must make the old trees fall right and left, and you know, at a pinch, you and I can sell a few dirty acres. In my opinion there is nothing like enjoying a thing when we have got it.”

The further conversation between the father and his estimable son need not be repeated. Silas had fallen considerably in his parent’s estimation since he had so committed himself as to get into prison. He was, also, not quite so sanguine as his son was as to the result of the trial; but he performed a parent’s part in securing the best counsel to be obtained. He also made interest with the governor to procure a better room and superior food for his son. Silas did not, however, exhibit the gratitude which might have been expected.

“It would not do to let the heir of Stanmore dangle on a gibbet, eh, dad, would it?” he observed, when his father told him what he had done. “No chance of that, or I could not joke on the subject.”

The day of the trial arrived. Silas Sleech stood at the bar. He gazed round the court with an air of confidence, and nodded familiarly to some of his acquaintances. His eye fell for a moment as he encountered the stern glance of Mr Coppinger, Mr Kyffin, and other persons who had been brought in as evidence against him. The case was gone into. He was ably defended, and his counsel laid great stress on the non-appearance of the person whose signature he was said to have forged, and whose ruin it appeared he had taken great pains to effect. Silas smiled as he heard these remarks, and attempted to throw an expression of injured innocence into his countenance. The counsel for the Crown replied; but the defence made by the defendant’s counsel seemed to have great weight with the jury, when there was a slight movement in the court. A slip of paper was put into the hand of the Crown counsel. He turned round and spoke a few words to a well-dressed young man, who had at that time entered.

“The defendant declares,” he observed, “that no evidence can be brought forward to prove that he forged the signature of Mr Stephen Coppinger, asserting that it was the act of another person. Here stands that other person, whose statement you will hear. I produce him as a witness; should you consider him unworthy of belief, you will acquit the prisoner; if not, I am ready to prove that no other person than Silas Sleech, the prisoner at the bar, could have committed the forgery.”

As Silas caught sight of the countenance of the young man, he gazed at him as at one risen from the dead, and a sudden tremor seized his frame.

“He knows I did not do it; he knows I did not,” he gasped out; but Harry Tryon took no notice of him.

Harry briefly and clearly gave an account of the circumstances with which the reader is already acquainted.

The jury were perfectly satisfied of the guilt of the prisoner.

“But he is a convicted felon, he cannot be brought as evidence against me. He was one of the mutineers of the Nore. He ought to have been hung with his companion Parker.”

“The prisoner is mistaken, my lord,” said Mr Kyffin; “the young gentleman is as free as any one in this court. He is my ward, and I am sure that his name will not be found among the mutineers of the Nore.”

The jury returned a verdict of guilty, but recommended the prisoner to mercy. In spite of Sleech’s criminality, Mr Coppinger and others exerted themselves, and the sentence of death was commuted to that of transportation for life, and Mr Silas Sleech was among the next batch of prisoners shipped off on board a convict ship for Botany Bay. Mr Tony Sleech did not allow his heart to break at the loss of his son. He was legally dead, and his next boy must, therefore, be the heir of Stanmore. He was of a somewhat more hopeful character than Silas, though not possessing the same amount of talent. He was a dunce, indeed, in his father’s estimation, and had been so in that of his school companions. He had, however, sense enough to appreciate the change of position from a younger son to that of the heir of a fine estate, and very soon gave himself so many airs that his brothers and sisters could not help having a secret wish that he might be despatched after Silas.

The cost of his son’s defence had been very considerable, and Mr Sleech therefore considered it desirable to repay himself by cutting down more of the Stanmore trees, although the proceeds were not to be expended in the way Silas had proposed.

He was one day, soon after his return to Stanmore, superintending this proceeding, when Mr Wallace arrived at the park, and proceeded into the grounds to look for him. The two lawyers bowed stiffly to each other.

“I have come, Mr Sleech,” said the other, “on the part of my client, to warn you of the danger of your proceeding. For every tree that falls you will be made responsible. I have thorough confidence that Captain Everard will ere long prove his right to the property.”

“No danger at all about the matter, my good sir,” answered Mr Sleech, with an air of indifference which he did not altogether feel. “I have a right over these trees, and have determined to cut them down, and therefore, I say, let any man interfere with me if he dare.”

“We are not going to proceed by force, Mr Sleech,” answered Mr Wallace, “we are not driven to that; but I again repeat that, not only will you be compelled to pay the value of every tree which you cut down, but also you will be heavily fined for the damage which you have committed on the property.”

“I will stand the consequences,” repeated Sleech, but his voice somewhat failed him as he spoke.

Mr Wallace marked it.

“Well,” he said, “my good sir, we are fellow-townsmen, and though often professionally opposed to each other, I speak to you as a friend. Be warned in time. Your son has been dealt leniently with, and has escaped death, but depend upon it, if you persist in injuring this estate, you will be made to pay heavily in purse. No mercy will be shown you, I can assure you.”

Saying this, Mr Wallace bowed to his brother lawyer, and without further ceremony took his way back to the house. Mr Sleech soon afterwards proceeded in the same direction, doubtful, apparently, what course to pursue.

“I won’t be bullied,” he said to himself, “and yet they seem pretty confident. I don’t quite like the look of matters.”

Scarcely had Mr Sleech left the wood when another person appeared on the scene. Paul Gauntlett was well known to all the labourers around. He walked up, armed as usual with a stout cudgel. He might have been seen day after day since his return from London walking round and round the grounds, just outside, evidently considering that he was acting in some way as guardian of the place.

Madam Everard had warned him that he could not legally enter it. As, however, he saw from a distance the tall boughs of the trees falling towards the ground, he could resist no longer.

“You are employed on a fine work, my friends,” he said, gazing round him. “What now would you say if you saw the colonel standing in the midst of you? He would be wonderfully pleased at seeing these shady trees which he loved so well cut down one after the other at the beck of a pettifogging attorney. That is what Mr Sleech is, even though he has got into the big house here. That is what he will ever remain. But I tell you what, lads, he will not hold Stanmore long. Of that I am very certain. The captain will have his own again before many weeks are over, mark me. Now I say, I don’t want to take the bread out of your mouths, but if any of you can get better work than this, I say go and take it. I shall mark every man who stays on here, and he may never expect another day’s work on Stanmore as long as I live, if he lays his hand against one of these trees after I have warned him. There never was a better master than the colonel; and the captain, his nephew, is likely to be every bit as good a one. Now, boys, just take your own course, you have heard what I have got to say. What will you do? There is Farmer Giles and Farmer Jobson, and Mr Timmins, down at the mill, and twenty others want hands. You will all get as good wages as this old skinflint can pay you, and be employed in an honest way.”

Paul’s address had a great effect among the labourers. They consulted together for some time, and one after the other agreed that they would not again lay an axe against the root of one of the trees of Stanmore. A few held out. They had got work and did not see why some old trees should not come down at the bidding of one man as well as that of another.

“Take your own way,” answered Paul. “If the trees fall, some one will have to pay, and you will not forget my words.”

Several of the men shouldered their axes and prepared to move.

“I would sooner lose a week’s work than offend the captain,” exclaimed one.

“Well said, John Hobby, you are a true man,” exclaimed Paul. “To my mind none of you will have to lose a day’s work. I don’t make promises for other people, but my opinion is that a generous, open-handed man like the captain would not let a fellow suffer for being true to him.”

“Hurrah! I will not lift an axe against another tree in this place till the captain orders me,” cried Hobby.

“Nor I, nor I, nor I,” answered others.

The whole party with one accord, headed by Paul Gauntlett, marched off the ground, leaving four or five trees where they lay, with their branches still attached to them. There seemed no probability of more of the timber of Stanmore being felled that day, or perhaps for some days to come.

We must now return to Mr Thornborough’s house in London. Mabel was staying with her godfather and his kind sister. After she had obtained the King’s signature for his pardon, though feeling certain that he would be released, her nerves at length gave way, and she was utterly unable to accompany Mr Kyffin, as she wished to do, to carry the pardon down to him. She therefore returned to Mr Thornborough’s house, while Mr Kyffin again went down the banks of the Thames to the prison ship. Mr Kyffin had a double reason for haste. He was less anxious, possibly, than Mabel, on account of Harry’s safety, for he felt sure that that was secured; but the next day had been fixed for the trial of Silas Sleech, and he wished to obtain his ward’s evidence, without which he foresaw that the conviction of the culprit was very uncertain. Harry could scarcely believe that he was at liberty, though he saw the prison door open, and his guardian, accompanied by the governor of the prison and other officials who had come to set him at liberty. They were soon on shore, and at the inn where Mr Kyffin had left his carriage. He had thoughtfully brought a suit of clothes for Harry, who, with a satisfaction which can be best understood by those who have suffered as he had done, having gone through a thorough ablution, once more dressed himself as a gentleman. He was pale, but in other respects greatly improved. His figure was fuller, and his appearance more manly. His arrival in court, in time to secure Silas Sleech’s conviction, has already been described. Mabel was all day in a state of nervous agitation. Frequently when Mrs Barbara addressed her she scarcely understood what was said. When she took up a book, her eyes ran over the pages without reading a line. She tried to work, but her fingers refused to move. Mrs Barbara observed her state. “Poor girl,” she thought, “how wonderful it is that she should love that young man so much.” A carriage stopped at the door. She endeavoured to rise, but found it impossible to move. She drew her breath quickly. The door opened, and a middle-aged gentleman entered. She lifted up her head. In an instant she was in his arms.

“Oh! papa, this is almost too much for me,” she exclaimed, as Captain Everard returned her embrace. In a few words he told her what had occurred. “But the loss of Stanmore is a severe blow,” he observed.

“Oh! for me it is nothing,” answered Mabel; “I feel for you, though that cannot take away your position as a post-captain.”

“No, indeed,” answered the captain, “it is a position a man may well be proud of.”

“And as for the fortune, my little god-daughter must not be without something,” observed Mr Thornborough. “Here, Barbara, give her that paper. A present is better than a bequest, and I have had the amount transferred to her name in the funds.”

Mabel’s eyes were too full of tears to distinguish clearly what was written on the paper, though she could make out the sum of 10,000 pounds. She was springing forward to thank her godfather, when another carriage drove up to the door. Again the drawing-room door opened, and two gentlemen entered. This time Mabel did not spring into the arms of either of them, but she stood for an instant motionless till the youngest advanced towards her. Then unconsciously forgetting that any one else was present, she lifted up her arms and let them fall on the young man’s shoulders.

“What! Andrew Brown, the brave seaman who saved my life?” exclaimed Captain Everard. “But can it be? I wonder that all that time I did not recognise my young friend Harry Tryon.”

Chapter Twenty Eight.

The Wreck of the Lugger, and what came of it.

For upwards of a week Roger Kyffin had been absent from Idol Lane, during which time he had never left his house at Hampstead. The doctor, however, paid frequent visits, sometimes thrice a day; once he remained during the greater part of the night. The Misses Coppinger also frequently drove over, and on one occasion Mr Coppinger himself rode all the way to Hampstead to inquire for Mr Kyffin’s sick friend, for Mr Kyffin himself was in perfect health; indeed, he had never had an hour’s illness since he was a boy. No mother could have attended a child with more care and solicitude than did Roger Kyffin his guest. That guest was Harry Tryon. The day after his release from the prison ship he was seized with illness—his tongue was parched, his limbs ached, he was unable to raise his head from his pillow. The doctor thought that he was suffering, it might be, from the jail fever. Harry’s nerves had also been severely tried. What with the fatigue and anxiety he had gone through, the feeling of shame and remorse for his folly had at length completely overcome him. For several days he appeared to be hovering between life and death.

“Oh! Mr Kyffin, I am unworthy of you, I feel that I have disgraced you, and Mabel, too; when she knows about me, she, too, will see that I am unworthy of her love. How can she ever have confidence in a man who has shown himself so weak, who has committed so many follies, and who has been so easily led astray by designing knaves? How could I for a moment have trusted such a person as that unhappy man Sleech? Why did I not at once perceive the aims of Parker, who, however, was a thousand times superior to the other fellow?”

“My dear boy,” said Mr Kyffin, ”‘let bygones be bygones.’ You have had a good deal of experience in life, and have paid dearly for it, and now I pray God that you may be restored to health and be wiser for the future.”

“I see no hope for life in me,” answered Harry, “Mabel can never be mine.”

This was said as the fever was coming upon him before he broke down altogether. Mr Kyffin saw that reasoning or expostulation under the circumstances would avail nothing. He did his best therefore merely to soothe the poor lad. From his heart he pitied him, and loved him more than ever. Mabel had returned to Lynderton with her father. She was not told of Harry’s desperate illness. Indeed, she could not be permitted to see him for fear of catching the fever. She had fully expected that he would write, and perhaps she suffered more from being left in doubt than if she had been told the truth. At length, a fine constitution, under the doctor’s care, by God’s mercy brought him through. As soon as he was sufficiently recovered to be moved, Mr Kyffin was anxious to give him change of air. The cottage where he was born was vacant, and Mr Kyffin begged his old friend Doctor Jessop to fit it up for him. “His native air, and the doctor who knows him so well, will afford him the best chance of perfect recovery,” the kind man thought to himself, so he and Harry set forth towards Lynderton. Once more Harry took up his abode at the cottage where he first saw the light. He sat in the room with his old friend where his mother had died. A faint recollection of her came across him. He could even fancy he saw her slight figure as she sat in the porch watching his gambols on the lawn, or as she stood at the gate while he and the nursemaid set forth on their daily walk. The fresh autumn air soon restored vigour to his limbs and sent new life through his veins. Doctor Jessop prescribed frequent walks on the open downs above the cliffs.

“All fear of infection will by that time be blown away,” he observed. “For my part, I believe there has been no real danger since you left London. However, we cannot be too cautious in such matters.”

“And may I then see Mabel—Miss Everard?” he asked.

The doctor smiled.

“That may be as her father wishes,” he answered. “Certainly you will run no risk of giving her the fever, if that is what you mean. Perhaps I may be able to drive you there some day, not just yet though, and you are certainly not strong enough to walk so far.”

The weather had changed lately, and become very boisterous, but the stronger it blew the more Harry enjoyed his walks on the cliffs.—Generally Mr Kyffin accompanied him. One evening, however, it having rained all the afternoon, he went out later than usual. The air was fresh and pure, and he was tempted to continue his walk much farther than he generally went. At length, growing somewhat weary, he sat himself down in a hollow of the downs. The sun had hitherto been concealed, but at length it shone forth below a mass of clouds which hung overhead, and appeared floating as it were above the horizon, a vast ball of liquid fire. Gradually it sank over Portland Head, leaving the western sky glowing with a ruddy hue. Harry sat on, lost in thought. Now a fresh bank of clouds rose out of the horizon, and joining those that hung overhead, completely obscured the sky. Twilight came on more rapidly than usual, it seemed, as the wind increased, and the clouds rushed by in thick masses overhead. At last Harry became conscious that time had sped by, and the waning light warned him of the rapid approach of night. He knew the way well enough. At the same time there were several difficult places which he would have preferred passing in daylight. He hurried homeward along the cliff, but the darkness increased, and at length, reaching a path which led down to the beach, and recollecting that the tide was out, he descended by it, intending to continue his walk that way homeward. It was soon so dark that he could with difficulty see his way along the shore. Still, he found it somewhat tedious work walking along the beach, and upwards of an hour passed away after it became dark before, according to his calculation, he had reached that part of the beach which lay below the cottage. Just as he was about to turn away inland the sound of a gun came in from the sea. Another and another report followed. He stood for a few minutes wondering from what vessel the guns were fired. Presently his eye caught sight of the flashes. Several others followed. The vessel firing was drawing nearer and nearer. He could not bring himself to leave the shore, hoping that Mr Kyffin would not be alarmed by his absence. The wind whistled loudly. The seas came rolling in heavily on the beach, bursting with loud roars, throwing up the white spray, which was driven in showers inland. Harry was soon pretty well drenched, but he had been too much accustomed to a wet jacket to think of it. Suddenly the clouds parted, and the moon burst forth, shedding a pale light over the wild, dancing waters. Just on the spot where her beams fell he distinguished a vessel running in towards the shore. That short glance showed him that she was a lugger. She seemed to be carrying a press of sail, considering the heavy gale blowing. Again the clouds parted, and at some distance astern of her, his keen seaman’s eye caught sight of a larger vessel. It was from her the guns were fired, for at that instant a flash was soon followed by the dull report of a gun, sounding even above the roar of the ocean. The position of both vessels was perilous in the extreme. In a few minutes the lugger must inevitably run on shore; but being probably a light craft, by being driven high upon the beach her crew might be saved; but if the larger vessel struck, it would be at a considerable distance farther out, and the seas would with terrific force instantly break over her and wash all the people off her decks. He longed to have the means of making a signal to the vessels of their danger. That seemed impossible. At no great distance were several cottages inhabited by fishermen and other seafaring people.

“I will go and collect them,” Harry said to himself, “and get them to bring ropes and spars. We may save the lives of some of these poor fellows. Without help they must nearly all be washed off again, even should they be thrown on the beach.”

Harry was not mistaken as to his position, and after some time, though not without difficulty, he found his way up the cliff and saw a light burning in one of the cottages which he was endeavouring to reach. He shouted out to the inmates, and at length a door opened and a light streamed forth. By its means he got to the front of the cottage, and told the men what was likely to occur. In a short time they were all on foot and hurrying down with him to the beach, laden with the poles and ropes he advised them to bring. At that moment a light burst forth from the top of a neighbouring cliff, and it was repeated by another from a beacon a little way inland. The guns then had been heard by the coastguards. By the time Harry had returned to the beach, a number of persons were collecting from all sides. Numerous other beacons in a short time blazed forth. The crowd were uttering various cries and exclamations.

“It is a French fleet,” cried one; “the French are coming.”

“To arms! to arms!” shouted others.

“What is to be done?” asked some of the more timid. Several hurried back, declaring it was time to get out of harm’s way. Harry was glad at last to hear Mr Kyffin’s voice. He made his way up to him. “I was afraid you would be anxious about me,” he said; “but I felt that I ought not to come home to let you know till I had collected the people, in case there should be a shipwreck, to help the sufferers.”

“She will be lost to a certainty,” cried the seamen in the crowd.

Just then the dark sail of the lugger was seen, now lifted up, as she rose on the top of the sea, now sinking down into the trough. On she came. Those on board must have been well aware of the fate awaiting them. Still they made no attempt to haul off.

Harry, calling to the people assembled, formed a party of men with ropes and spars who, secured one to the other, were to rush into the sea, and endeavour to drag out those who were washed overboard. Others were to stand by, ready to carry them up the beach out of the reach of the waves. The arrangements were made not a moment too soon. With a loud crash the lugger was seen rushing up the beach. In another instant, the following sea, with a loud roar, washed completely over her, and she was driven broadside on to the shore.

Chapter Twenty Nine.

Happy News.

Several persons were carried off the decks of the wreck, and had it not been for the hardihood of those who rushed into the water, would inevitably have been swept away. Some of the crew, as the sea receded, leaped overboard and endeavoured to gain the shore. They also were helped in the same manner. Several poor fellows, however, were unable to reach the friendly hands held out to them, and were carried out by the waves. One of the number was, in another minute, dimly seen to be struggling forward on the curling summit of a foaming sea. Harry, who had ever been a bold swimmer, casting a rope about himself, now dashed in towards the almost exhausted man. Bravely he swam forward. He clasped him in his arms, and then shouting to his companions, was hauled up the beach in safety. A few more seas, came rushing in, and scarce a plank or timber of the lugger hung together. The greater number of the persons on board had been saved. They seemed, however, to be no strangers to most of the people on the beach. For some minutes Harry had been so busily engaged in rescuing others that he had not had time to speak to the person he had drawn out of the water. Great was his surprise, on returning to the drier part of the beach, when the light of a lantern fell on a man’s countenance he recognised—the features of his old acquaintance, Captain Falwasser. Several other persons were seated near him: one was a female, and the other an old man.

“What, my friend Harry Tryon!” exclaimed the captain, grasping him. “My life, I know, is not the first you have saved. Harry, I have news for you,” he said, as if recollecting himself. “You shall have it by-and-bye. But these poor people require to be housed. They are shivering with the cold, and I must confess that I should like to find myself before a warm fire.”

“Our cottage is at the service of as many as can get into it,” said Mr Kyffin, coming up to the captain. “Our friends here will, I have no doubt, take care of the rest.”

The lugger had come across empty, greatly to the disappointment of most of the bystanders.

“As fine a craft as ever floated has come to her end this night,” observed one of them. “Well, lads, there is nothing more to be done, so we will back to our homes and get some of these poor fellows put into warm beds.”

The captain and two old French people, with two or three more persons, accompanied Mr Kyffin and Harry to the cottage. As they reached the top of the cliffs, they saw, far and near, the beacon fires bursting forth, and heard the sound of guns firing in the distance.

“Why the people must suppose that the French are coming,” observed Mr Kyffin. “Depend upon it that is the idea. We shall have the whole army of volunteers down upon us before long, and when they find that you, captain, and your two old friends are the only invaders, they may be apt to feel rather irate; our safest plan will be to get housed comfortably before they come. It will do the young soldiers no harm to give them some useful exercise. I only hope, should the enemy ever come, that the guardians of our native land may be as wide awake as they appear to be to-night.”

The cottage was shortly reached. Susan, Harry’s old nurse, now grown into a comely matron, acted as housekeeper; a blazing fire in the kitchen soon restored warmth to their limbs, while all the garments which the house could furnish were brought forth to supply them with dry clothes. A steaming hot supper was after this placed on the table, round which Mr Kyffin’s guests thankfully assembled.

“Well, Harry, you wish to know the news I have brought, I doubt not,” said the captain, when at length he was sufficiently recovered to find the use of his tongue. “Had you not come down to-night to assist in saving me and these two country people of mine, in all human probability your friend Captain Everard would not have recovered possession of Stanmore. I am thankful to say, after much risk and anxiety, I succeeded in getting a copy of the marriage certificate which was of such importance, and to make security doubly sure, I brought over these two old people who were witnesses to his father’s marriage.”

“How can he ever repay you sufficiently?” said Harry; “I must set out immediately to let him know the result of your mission.”

“No, no, my dear boy, you have gone through sufficient fatigue to-night,” said Mr Kyffin. “You must do no such thing. The captain will not be the worse for spending another night without knowing that he can regain his property, and to-morrow morning we will go in due form, when, perhaps, as the gale last night must have blown away all your fever, you may be admitted into the presence of Mistress Mabel.”

Harry’s countenance lighted up with pleasure at this suggestion of his guardian. “Do you think she will see me?” he exclaimed. “She will not deem me unworthy to appear in her presence?”

“I don’t know what the young lady will think of your past doings, Master Harry,” observed Captain Falwasser, “but I rather think that, as you will take her a pretty fair certificate of your good conduct, you may have reason to hope that she will receive you condescendingly. I tell you, in my opinion, had it not been for you, Stanmore would have remained in the possession of the Sleech family as long as any of that sweet-sounding name exists. But see, my old friends, who do not understand the words that have been said, are nodding. Your kind housekeeper will, I dare say, see them put to roost.”

Before day had dawned, the sound of drums and fifes was heard, and looking out of the window, Harry saw approaching from various directions, and forming on the downs, numerous companies of volunteers. Several officers on horseback rode along the cliff at a rapid rate, stopping every now and then, sweeping with their spy-glasses the distant horizon. Not a sail, however, was to be seen. They consulted together, and were evidently disconcerted at finding no enemy to resist. He was about to go out and meet them, but remembering his guardian’s remarks on the previous evening, he thought that they might possibly cause some annoyance to the French captain.

“They may as well find out all about the lugger by themselves,” he thought.

After a time several of the coastguard appeared, when the military having fired their muskets towards the south in defiance of their expected invaders, once more wheeled about, and marched away to their respective homes.

“I like to see that sort of thing,” observed Mr Kyffin. “Englishmen will ever be found ready to defend their native shores.”

Mr Kyffin had sent in for a carriage at an early hour to Lynderton, and soon after breakfast he, with Harry and their three visitors, set forth for that town. They stopped before the bow-windowed house where Captain Everard was residing with his aunt and daughter. Madam Everard was on the steps preparing to go out, and just behind her stood Mabel. As Harry descended from the carriage, why did Mabel start back and retreat a little within the passage? Madam Everard kindly took Harry’s hand, and shook that of Mr Kyffin. She cast an inquiring glance at the captain, whom at first she did not recognise.

“May we come in?” asked Harry, looking up eagerly towards Mabel. For an instant he hesitated, then sprang up the steps past the old lady. Madam Everard detained Mr Kyffin and the captain for some minutes by making inquiries and receiving answers.

“Come in, come in,” at length she answered. “Little did I expect to receive such joyful intelligence. Accept my gratitude, Captain Rochard, on my own account, and doubly thankful I am that by your means my dear nephew and his daughter will recover their rights.”

A minute afterwards Mary was seen tripping down the street to the news-room to summon the captain. He had gone there to read the account just received of Lord Duncan’s great victory at Camperdown.

“Oh, sir!” exclaimed Mary, as she saw the captain, “it is happy news, sir, happy news, better news than that about the battle. The French captain has come back and brought two old country people with him, and Madam Everard says we shall all get back to Stanmore.”

Mr Wallace was in the room at the time, and the captain, scarcely crediting the news, begged the lawyer to accompany him home.

“The evidence is complete,” observed Mr Wallace, after he had looked over the document brought by Captain Rochard, and by the help of that gentleman had examined the old French people. “We can go with perfect confidence of victory into a court of law, should Mr Sleech venture to oppose the claims of Captain Everard.”

“I trust that everything may be done in a peaceable way,” observed Madam Everard. “I cannot pretend to have any regard for that unhappy man, Mr Sleech, though his children are, it must be owned, my nephews and nieces. I trust, however, that he will yield without opposition.”

Mr Wallace promised to manage matters in as gentle a way as possible, and that no time might be lost, he set out forthwith for Stanmore. Paul Gauntlett, who very soon heard what was taking place, begged to accompany him.

“No, no,” said the lawyer. “You, my friend, are a man of war. We will call you in if it is necessary to proceed by ejectment, but at present I hope the enemy will capitulate without an assault.”

The answer satisfied Paul.

At that moment Dr Jessop looked in to pay a professional visit to Mabel.

“I think she scarcely requires your services, doctor,” observed Madam Everard; “but if you, as a friend of the family, will accompany Mr Wallace, perhaps you may be able to aid him in his delicate and somewhat painful mission.”

“Come, brother physic, come along then,” said Mr Wallace, as they stepped into the carriage which had brought the party from Sea View Cottage. “The sooner this matter is settled the better.”

Mr Sleech was seated in his study in a flowery dressing-gown, the hairdresser from Lynderton having just curled and powdered his peruke, when a footman in the Stanmore livery, which he had lately assumed, announced the lawyer and doctor.

“What can they want with me?” he exclaimed. “Really, a man of rank and position can scarcely call his time his own. Let them in, however.”

At that moment the Misses Sleech and one of their brothers came in from the grounds.

“Papa,” exclaimed the young Mr Sleech, “those fellows have not cut down another tree. They say they don’t mind putting the fences in order and digging out the ditches, but that not one of them will lay an axe to a root.”

“Impertinent fellows!” exclaimed Mr Sleech. “I will see how they dare disobey me.”

At that moment the visitors entered the room.

“Your servant, gentlemen,” said the master of Stanmore, performing one of his newly-learned bows. “To what cause am I indebted for the honour of this visit? Doctor, you are always welcome, whether you come as a visitor or professionally,” he added, holding out his hand, at the same time turning a dark frown towards his brother lawyer, who took his seat in silence.

“As you ask me, Mr Sleech,” said Dr Jessop, “I come now as a friend—as a friend of your family and that of the Everards. I wish that you could have heard the expressions uttered but lately by your excellent sister-in-law, Madam Everard. You must be aware that it was very painful to her to leave Stanmore. The law allowed you to take possession, it being supposed that no marriage had taken place between Captain Everard’s father and mother, notwithstanding the assertion of the former that he had married in France. Of course Captain Everard has taken every means to prove his legitimacy, and I must ask you now to be prepared to receive the information, that not only is he in possession of the certificate of the marriage, properly attested by the French authorities, but that actually two French persons of respectability who were present are at this moment in England, indeed at Lynderton.”

Mr Sleech gasped for breath as the doctor proceeded, turning his rolling eyeballs first at him and then at the lawyer.

“Is it true what he says? Is it true, Wallace? Tell me,” he exclaimed.

“Perfectly true, Mr Sleech,” answered the lawyer. “You have no more right to be in this house than I have; at the same time, the owners desire that you should be treated with every kindness and consideration.”

Mr Sleech rose from his seat, and appeared as if he were about to rush on his brother lawyer.

“It is false! It is a vile conspiracy! They are impostors!” he exclaimed. “I will not yield: I will die first!”

“My good sir,” exclaimed the doctor, placing himself between Mr Sleech, whose doubled fist was raised to strike Mr Wallace, “let me entreat you to becalm. This violence will do you no good, and is discreditable to you.”

The unfortunate man stopped and gasped, and had not the doctor held him up, he would have sunk to the ground. He was placed in a chair. Restoratives were administered, and at length he recovered.

“I yield,” at last he said; “I played for a high stake, and I have lost. They will have pity on me. That wretched boy of mine, his fate has well-nigh broken my heart.”

In a few days Mr Sleech and his family returned to the old red brick building with the high roof in the High Street of Lynderton, which he had inhabited since he entered business.

The bells rang merrily out when Captain Everard and his daughter, accompanied by Madam Everard and several friends, drove up the avenue once more to Stanmore. Harry Tryon, however, never became its master. The charms of Miss Coppinger had for some time before captured the heart of the gallant captain, and in a short time after this she became his bride, and, ultimately, the mother of a considerable number of fine sons and girls, of whom, notwithstanding, Mabel was not in the slightest degree jealous, as she by that time could boast of an equal number of her own. The fortune her godfather had given her, and a very handsome settlement made by Mr Kyffin, enabled her to accept Harry Tryon’s hand. At the same time, the Baron de Ruvigny consoled himself for his past disappointments by marrying Sybella Coppinger, and both he and Harry joined Mr Coppinger’s firm, and by the time a permanent peace was once more restored to Europe, had become among the first merchants of London. With regard to Captain Falwasser, or Rochard, as he also called himself, he was a true patriot, though a royalist, and had for some political cause been compelled to leave France before the outbreak of the revolution. He had been introduced to Mr Pitt, and had been employed by him in gaining information of proceedings in France. For this purpose he had engaged the famous smuggling lugger, from which he could land without observation on either coast. Disguised in a variety of ways, he had been able to traverse France. Had he been captured, he knew well that his life would have been sacrificed. For many years he persevered, and at length, escaping all dangers, settled down at Lynderton, where he was ever an honoured guest at Stanmore. Paul Gauntlett once more took up his former office at the park, which he held to a green old age; and Jacob Tuttle came home with the loss of an arm, and married his faithful Mary.

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