Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

17 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



G THE SHOALS; OR, CED BY A PORTRAIT. BY CYRIL HATHWAY. CHAPTEB I. 6 this brief story opens—now a little *7 years ago—a quaint old place was luare, nestling in the very heart of the )f Northville. Leaving the busy street stranger found himself in a paved quiet, so full of fantastic houses, with >es and diamond paned windows, that fed to have been flung back some three 78 of the cathedral spire filled St. ■e from end to end at eventide, and when lown, and the shades of night crept from ■hanging gables and grim archways, a pressive silence reigned. It was more the hum of traffic in the city, a droning the echoes of the busy day had con- ihange confidences in some retired spot; y could not have chosen a more secluded oseph's Square, where life seemed at a the glimmer of a few lights high up in ndows alone spake of its existence and had been famous in its time. Its worn re-echoed the footsteps of many a fair, .dy, and gallant noble; its walls had 10 strains of music and the sweetness ghter as faithful knight, worn with con. ad with triumph, returned to reap the 3088. aph's had known its troubles. It had Roundheads with avenging swords 'tauneh-hearttd Cavaliers, who refused :e the Commonwealth and defIed their oyally in honour of their lawful king, women and children sobbed out their to Heaven, shoulder to shoulder stood 3 kinsmen, prefering death to dishonour, d flowed as water, a*d the pale moon upon the once peaceful homes veiled t1 sorrow behind a cloud, for stiff and flagstones lay the representatives ef house. is scythe had mown down year after h scenes became a matter of history, and Ambling, decayed, yet sturdy in old age, of a few quietly-disposed people—people quaintness, its wealth of forgotten art, MB, and the rest it gave from the glare broad streets which had sprung up with Iwth; and shunned the out-of-the-way thing to be ashamed of—just as men.of It old acquaintances who have fallen in ife and lie wounded to the heart's core, BP* in and ends all care and sorrow in a of grace, 1820, there lived in the midst of aietude and seclusion a family bearing 8 Caux. They were four in number. latU, a venerable grey-haired man; on were deep-set lines, showing that he had ion sorrow. His wife, an elderly dame, n excellent match for the man of re- and her love and pride were in the 'k-eyed youth, her son Richard and shter, a lovely, simple-minded girl, whose lose of her parents', and whose heart de. ■sing them in all things. ard was engaged at a bank not far from oDd premised to make his way in the remained at home, ever busy, uncom- cheerful while the old people, who *eir home, save on Sundays, when the iral found them worshipping devoutly, i with the society of their children, and as the days were long. Ethel were born in St. Joseph's Square, IX'S had lived there many years. Nobody given themselves the trouble to ask ne from. They were civil, they paid their was enough to gain them the respect and yet people would point at the pre- man and shake their heads, as much as carries a great secret in his heart I" and sips avowed that Richard De Caux had mensely rich, but had lost all in one tion. If he ever read his neighbours' leard the rumours, he never mentioned urently gave heed to them. iger days he had studied painting, and in artist, found eolace of mind and quiet the pleasant occupation. Many of his ted considerable ability, and one among ccited the attention of his son on more sion. Strait of a sallow, gloomy.looking man, Ie ng pheek-bones seemed to cast a shadow s st° sunken eyes. Cau* C0Vered up at one end of the room thf> ,w°i"ked in, and though seldom th;/ A0* the family, the old man would Used' » r?8u^ his work, for hours,' itK 7.. ar' involuntarily and turn away lth quivering lips and trembling hands. ()b questioned him as to the original of out so sharp and passionate was the "e young man, alarmed and abashed, re- portrait of a man who wronged another," • "Take heed, Richard, that your path framed that you will have nothing to re* If with in your declining days." een the picture but twice, and then with here was an expression in the features id perhaps faithfully pourtrayed, that avoid gazing upon them. There it stood, stand, enclosed in its green-baize 1 she endeavoured to blot it out of her e Caux it is necessary to say a few more describing the first aoene of this short nstory. + er^ow<rd with such charms and beauty .attention was what only could be ex- of many suitors she had selected Her- ug, the son and heir of a well-to-do ho? rna?ch was approved of by both loTely. accomplished, and domes- r handsome lover's worldly prospects e average, it was natural that her reel aglow of pleasure that when called j is w°rld, they would know that their IT **W-e^ Provided for; while on the r. Mainwaring, believing that the De relics of an ancient and respectable ?° obstacle in his son's way, though in nsned there had been "money on both v,r, the young people were perfectly L**° other; and if all went well, the 'ng would see them wedded. Ie winter season of the year, and such a tell of hard weather could not be remem- F the most aged,—changing from rain on 'e, to snow and frost lasting for weeks aning of the new year, without inter- cry of anguish went up from the poor 1e land, a cry telling of a people tortured of oold and starvation. ? in January had passed away, and busi- !re over, when young Richard de Caux Mainwaring wended their way through treet towards St. Joseph's Square. w anxious to get home to announce that 8 had given him an increase of salary; other hand, Herbert was burning to take 'J™' and tell her that on that very day « purchased a pleasant little villa for -side the city. w very happy. His heart was light; he with elastic footsteps, and pleasantly uture brother-in-law on his slowness of imes we will have, Dick!" Herbert in-arm they turned into the archway of square. The house that is to be Ethel's Wt a sloping lawn running down to the arse we shall keep a boat, and on summer will make up jolly parties—rowing and mow. IS Caux smiled at his friend's enthusiasm. Vou arf K°mg to live so near 1* he re- I could not bear Ethel to be far awav » her very much as it is." Y' Ire"b™1''le ie»loa. of d»k thi. old pl&e i„luW'K»"«"hg. ad moans like a restless spirit T riLii thinking that gladne^ la £ ^ays where Ethel dwells. I love its darkness and its shadows," De Caux. "There is romance in every :anny-a something that appeals to the I and makes one banish all thought that live in is so full of rude shocks and dis- s. For my own part I should be con- i in quaint old St. Joseph's Square all my it a misconstruction on my speech," Her. aring said, stopping short. I did not lilt a reflection on your home, dear as I to you. Have I no reason to love it, its walls not shelter your sister, who is If life to me?" tand you thoroughly," Richard De Caux aw! This would be a dull and stupid were all constituted alike. But here we or; and here comes Ethel with a light te way up a staircase with more timber in it f9und in the whole of one of your modern ^-opened, &nd the young men passed into hall, a whirl of snow-flakes and a cutting d reminded them of what they had left they were not sorry to be seated at the 1 tea-table. his story to tell, and as the firelight rose ting warm shadows upon the oak-panelled was at least one happy group assembled oseph's Square. over, the elder De (Caux retired to his Ie fireside. He was a man of very «id had even little to say on this occasion, lerstood him, and as they chatted merrily, oaatlea of endless hope and joy, the pre. old 1 was almost forgotten He sat as they had often seen him his hands upon r his knees, and his eyes fixed pensively on the fire, e The hour of ten struck, and it was now time for Herbert Mainwaring to take his leave. He did so. stopping to give Ethel a kiss at the door, and then j away into the darkness of the storm, laughing as it hustled him about rather unceremoniously, and [ without giving a thought to two stalwart men, who t passed him silentlv, and melted away into the gloom. Ethel had returned to the room, and was in the act t of bidding her parents good night, when there came j. a loud knocking at the door—a knocking that brought f out all the echoes of the old house and startled its occupants.. g Who can this be? Richard said, catching up a light I'll run down. Perhaps somebody has wan- dered into the Square by mistake, and cannot hnd his way out." Downstairs he went, with his heart beating quicker than usual, though he could not tell why, and even hesitated as he drew the bolts, and lifted the ancient latch. Before he could utter a word there was a man on each side of him, their hands upon his shoulders, and he felt instantly by their touch that 1 they had come armed with the authority of the law. ] "In the name of Heaven Richard De Cauxcontrived to articulate, what is the meaning of this ?" 1 Don't be afraid, youngster," said one of the men we shan't harm you, if you keep quiet and answer our questions. To put matters on a clearer footing, 1 ] may as well explain who we are. My name is ( Fenton; my friend is John Dibbley, and we are < officers from Bow-street. What is yowr name ? "DeCaux." 1 Son of Richard De Caux ?" queried Fenton, while j his companion went to the base of the staircase and listened. "The same." ) "Ah! "said Fenton, drawing a deep breath, and ( looking compassionately at the young man; we j have business with your father, and must see him. < So lead the way to where we can find him, or there will be unpleasantness, which will be regretted by all parties." One moment!" Richard said, pressing his hand to his brow, where beads of cold perspiration had started. Just one word Tell me what you want 1 with my father. I have a right to know, surely." "Now, look here, my lad," said Fenton; "I'll tell you nothing—only this. If you don't do as you are told, why—click! will go these handcuffs on your wrists, and you'll find yourself in the eare of two other J men we've got waiting at the entry of this coal-hole- like square. Which is it to be—upstairs er outside ? It doesn't matter much to UII, only we would rather not have any fuss." Come with me," said Itichard, rebuking his vague fears with the thought—" Tush What has my father to dread? Hebaaledablameleaalife. These fellows have made a stupid mistake, for which they must apologise." Ethel and her mother were seated side by side, and they stared in amazement at Richard and the two un- welcome guests, but the elder De Caux's back was turned towards the door, and he saw nothing and apprehended nothing until his son said, "Father, these men wish to speak to you;" and then, wheeling his chair slowly round, an awful cry, and the words, Oh, God to think this should come at last! burst from his lips, and his face drooped into his trembling hands. "Come, don't give way I" said Fenton. Think of the ladies- Your servant, ma'am and miss. Why you ought to be proud to think that you have baffled the lot of us for twenty years or more, and I'll be bound that no judge will send you back, though-" Send him back," Richard cried, turning from one to the other. Mother, if father has nothing to say, speak, or I shall go mad? "She knows," De Caux said in a hollow voice, as he raised his face "but the story should oome from me." There isn't time to tell it properly now;" Fenton aaid, with a show of impatience, "they can see you to-morrow." He advanced a step, but Richard threw himself in the way, saying— "I'll know the meaning of this fearful mystery," he said. Beware what you do, for my blood is up, and I have the strength of twenty men!" Ethel had fainted, and lay upon a couch without sense or motion, and her mother bending over her bathed her fair face with tears of agony, but said never a word. "Well, then," said Tenton, calmly, "the truth must out, sooner or later, and it may as well fall from my lips. Henry Clare—alias De Caux—the man who sits there, is an eseaped conviot, and here is my war- rant for his arrest. Stand aside, young man, or the consequences will rest on your own head. The blood left Richard's face, his limbs gave way, and without a word or sign that he had heard the officer's speech, he fell on his knees at the feet; of the man whom he had loved so dearly and called by the sacred'name of father "See here," said Fenton to the old man; "why couldn't you say we had business with you and walk out quietly ? 1 wish this could have been donejCmore quietly." An instantaneous change came over the elder^De Caux. Quietly," he repeated, with a child-like whim- per "yes, I'll go quietly. But don't put me to work to-day—those chains have eaten into my flesh. Leek at my wrists. Ah it is cruel—cruel! Where is.the doctor ? I am not fit te gc road-mending to-day j" "He's gone daft, as sure as I'm a sinner," Fenton said in an excited manner. "Now then, Dibbley, take that light and we will get downstairs we are wasting time." "Father," Richard cried, as he wrung his handajn a paroxysm of agony; "speak to ma. In the name of all the sacred ties that are between us, tell me that these men have made a great mistake ?" But the old man continued to babble incoherently, and Richard gazed in horror at his mother, who hade sunk down on the couch beside Ethel. "Go to her, if you are her son, Dibbley cried do you not see that the is ill. Mine are not ,;the handa that should touch her now.' Richard ran to his mother's side, and took.her in his arms. The old lady's eyes were closed, and her face so white and ghastly, that it seemed to bear the stamp of death upon it; but as the young man gazed in indescribable horror, and trembling in every limb, a deep-drawn sigh escaped his mother s lipt. Life had not fled, but it flickered faintly, 'and all save Ethel, and the now childish old man who con- tinued to babble and whimper that he was not fit to work, knew the end could not be far off. Are there no people about here who will render assistance ? Fenton asked. Young Richard waved his hands towards the Square, to imply that they were known by all who lived within its precincts. I "Quick, thenl" said the detective, "We'll rous the neighbours fast enough. It seems to me that we are only in the way here. "Just Heaven!" Richard exclaimed, "this is murder Father—dear father-look upon me, your aon I— Appalled and stupified by the ghastly spectacle of a hale and hearty man transformed into a drivelling idiot; horrified at his mother's sudden illness, Richard saak under the weight of his woes, and burst into a fit ef tears that racked his frame, and seemed to be drawn from his very heart. Hearing strange voices, he knew that people were in the room; that Ethel and his mother were being ) cared for but the paroxysm of grief left him without power even to utter his thanks, and day had dawned when he staggered to his feet, and went to the window. Surely he had been sleeping, and all the events of the previous night were but the result of a hideous dream Alas, no He was alone in the room, and the house was very quiet—so quiet that he could plainly hear the snow- flakes rustling against the window-panes, and the beating of his heart was audible. There was silence in the street beyond St. Joseph's Square, and the smouldering embers of the fire, which some hand had replenished, fell with many a dismal rustle. And in the dim light of that snowy morn how lowly sank the soul of the young man—his mother all hut dead his fathar furnished with a name unknown to him, and branded a felon. It was a hideous faroe, mocking sudden madness, call it what you will—any- thing but the truth. Richard De Caux started, as a hand was placed lightly on his shoulder, and wheeling round, ho found himself face to face with Herbert Mainwaring. Of all men in the world" Richard cried out, in another burst of anguish, "you are the last man I wished to see just now "Why, in the name of common sense?" Main- waring said, having gleamed some particulars respec- ting the arrest. "Come, come! This is a terrible blow but there may be a silver lining even to this dark cloud." What can give me back my father's good name?— who shall restore my mother's health?" Richard wailed. "And so Herbert, you, too, have heard the news. Tell me—I can bear anything now—the truth of this dreadful secret; how it has been kept, and what will be the end of it." "I have heard but disjointed reports," Herbert Mainwaring replied. 'Tis said that twenty-six years ago, a man named Henry Clare was convicted of forgery, and sentenced to transportation for life, that he escaped, changed his name and is Alas for him and us all, the truth cannot bo denied, Herbert Mainwaring." "But tell me," said Richard, "how his arrest has Tn^^ w^ter so many years. If he is really the r>°U y they not take him before? S16 authoritieB were thrown off the tion was sent^ repUed- "My dear Richard, informa- England tbat:Y onres if.°t.rom the AustraliAn police to England that one" IfchLrd Clare ha.d escaped, and. thus broken the conditions ° STIY!"6 °F WU°H » C HWEB,.°HH„^S& De CraI ™iJ' It seems, Heibert Mainwaring continued "that Clare obtained work, and by dint of honesty and attention became possessed of a considerable amount of money, with which he escaped, and^ amoun'1 "On which we have been living here," Richard said, dismally. Do you think the account you have heard is correct ? Yes. But hush here comes one of the men who Fenton walked very leisurely up the staircase, and stood bareheaded in the doooway. May I come in ? he asked. Richard De Caux laughed ironically. You were not so particular about asking permission last night he said. This-Ob, God !-tbis is no longer my home." See here, now," said Fenton advancing, and placing his hands kindly on Richard's shoulders. You are a fine stalwart young fellow, one who is likely to make his way anywhere. I don't say that this is not a bitter pill to swallow, but men have got over worse things. Thero art other landa apross the soa where you may live to retrieve all save your own memory 01 cms areaaiui t affair. j My father Richard groaned. "I was coming to him," Fenton said, We've got him, and yet in a measure we haven't got him. He's past pleading on earth—don't flinch, man. He is harmless, and is living the past over again. I have brought you an order to see him." Richard's head had drooped upon his breast, but tears no longer fell from his eyes. The well of grief had dried up, and left a nameless pain that gnawed and tugged at the young man's heart strings. "Think of your mother and sister," Fenton was saying, when Ethel entered the room, and the de- tective, with a respectful inclination of his head, walked to the table and turned over the leaves of a book. Richard," Ethel said, our mother wishes us to be near her now. Come, it may be too late. She is dying." "Ethel," Herbert Mainwariifg cried, "do you not see me ? This awful visitation has made no alteration in me. I am here, loving you as I have always loved you. You are still all the world to me, my darling. Ethel made no reply, but pointing to the door of the room in which her mother lay, took her brother Richard by the arm and led him away. The life that had trembled in the balance all the hours of the weary night was waning fast. Mrs: De Caux, as we still must call her, was indeed dying and, as her children knelt at the bedside, she stretched out her feeble hands and placed them on their heads and blessed them. "It is not this hour I have dreaded," she said, "for I can cross my hands humbly and commend my soul to Him who gave me life. Richard, I am commencing that journey we all must take, and I cannot tell you all I would, for my strength and voice are failing. But rest assured of this, your father is innocent of the crime he was accused of—as innocent as you are, my child. He was the dupe of a wily villain—his partner—Ah 'tis night again. Hush Let me fall asleep." "Mother," Richard said, "Nay, nay. Speak to me. Tell me that man's name." These words roused the dying woman, and she con. tinued to speak, but her voice grew fainter and fainter. His name was "(here she whispered in his ear, as if afraid to mention the name aloud)—"but it matters little," she said. "If alive there i-.n8 legal proof of his guilt, and—and it was given out that he died in Australia, four years after—after your father was dragged to a living death. Your father wrote his version, and doubtless the true one, of the terrible mis- fortune. You will find the papers in the secret drawer of the bureau, which stands in his study. I can tell no more, my voice grows faint. Ethel, come nearer, my eyes are din, and I cannot see you." The poor girl, sobbing as if her heart would break, threw her arms round her mother's neek, and placed her tearful cheek against the one growing so eold. "I so loved your father," the dying mother said, "that when he escaped from his cruel fate I took the name he assumed. You, my darling, my hope, my pride, must remember this; for God knows that there is no stain upon you or your brother, though the hard- hearted world may turn its back upon you. If Herbert Mainwaring loves you-loves you for yourself alone, he will make you his wife. I commend you to his care. I charge him not to reproach you for the deceit that has been practised, for you are innocent of that. That rests with me, and your unhappy father. You say Herbert is here. Quick let me see him. Hasten, for I am going away Richard rose, and summoned Herbert Mainwaring, and he, taking the dying woman's hand, pressed it reverently to his lips. Herbert," Mrs. De Caux said, You know all. There is nothing to hide, nothing to tell but the truth of a long and dismal story, which may be revealed one day. My daughter is here. Speak, and tell me whether your heart-has-haa changed towards her." "No, by Heaven Herbert Mainwaring replied. "This misfortune has bound my heart closer to hers than ever. A terrible curse would fall upon me if I left her in such sorrow." "Then there is no pain in dying thus," Mrs. De Caux said. Kiss me, Richard—Ethel—Herbert— Tell — your — father— that—I—will—meet—him—at Heaven's gate. Yes, yes, I come—I am ready They thought that she had fallen asleep, for a smile was on her lips, and it was only when they spoke in vain, and endeavoured to rouse her gently that they knew she was dead, and then as the truth dawned upon them and they stood in silence, not daring to move, a sudden burst of sunshine flooded the cham- ber, and a bird fluttered for a moment at the window and soared away. (To be continued.)


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