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[-317-] 

CHAPTER CIII

HOPES AND FEARS.

WE must now go back to the preceding day, and introduce our readers to Markham Place, immediately after the Buffer had called upon Richard in the manner already described.
    Richard had received him in the library, and had there heard the exciting news of which the Buffer was the bearer.
    Dismissing the man to the kitchen to partake of some refreshment, Richard hastened to the parlour, where Mr. Monroe and Ellen were seated.
    The past sorrows and anxieties which the young man had experienced were now all forgotten :  forgotten also was the dread exposure which he had so recently received at the theatre, - an exposure which had deprived him of the honourable renown earned by his own talent, - an exposure, too, which had induced Ellen to abandon that career wherein she excelled so pre-eminently.
    The idea of meeting his well-beloved brother now alone occupied his mind :- the hope of seeing and even succouring the wanderer banished every other consideration.
    His cheek, lately so pale. was flushed with a glue of animation, and his eyes glistened with delight, as he rushed into the room where Ellen and her father were seated.
    "Eugene is returned - my brother has come back at last! " he exclaimed.
    "Your brother!" repeated Ellen, a deadly pallor overspreading her coutenance.
    "Eugene!" cried Mr. Monroe, in a tone of deep interest.
    "Yes - Eugene is in London - is returned," answered Richard, not noticing the strange impression which his words had made, and still produced upon Ellen, who now sat incapable of motion in her chair, as if she were suddenly paralyzed "Eugene is in London! A man has just been to tell me this welcome news; and I am to see my brother to-morrow evening."
    "To-morrow evening!" said Mr.Monroe. "And why not now - at once?"
    "Alas! my brother is in some difficulty, and dares not appear at the dwelling of his forefathers. I am not aware of the nature of that dilemma, but I am assured that he has need of my help."
    "Where are you to meet him?" inquired Monroe, somewhat surprised by the singularity of this announcement.
    "At the eastern extremity of London - on the banks of the canal, near some place called Twig Folly."
    "And at what hour?" demanded the old man.
    "To-morrow night, at ten precisely," was the reply.
    "Do you know the man who brought you this message? or have you received a letter?" asked Ellen. who now began to breathe more freely.
    "No, I never saw the man before; nor have I any letter. But, surely, you cannot suppose that any one is deceiving me in so cruel a manner?"
    "I feel convinced of it," said Ellen, with peculiar emphasis on her words and warmth in her manner.
    "No - no - impossible!" cried Markham, unwilling to allow the hope which had a moment ago appeared so bright, to be obscured by the mists of doubt: then, acting upon a sudden impulse, he rang the bell violently.
    Whittingham speedily made his appearance.
    "The man that I have just sent below, "said Richard, hastily, " has come to inform me that my brother is in London —"
    "Mister Eugene in London!" ejaculated the old butler, forgetting his gravity, and literally beginning to dance with joy.
    "And he has appointed to meet me to-morrow evening in a very distant and lonely part of London," continued. Markham "This circumstance seems suspicious - strange ;- at least so Miss Monroe thinks —"
    "Nay - I do not think, Richard: I am sure," exclaimed Ellen, with the same emphasis which had marked her previous declaration.
    "At all events, Whittingham," said Markham, "do you return to the kitchen, get into conversation with the man, and then give us your opinion."
    The old butler withdrew to execute these orders.
    Markham then began to pace the room in an agitated manner.
    "I cannot think who could be cruel enough to practise such a vile cheat upon me," he said, "if a cheat it really be. No one would benefit hi by so doing. Besides - the man spoke of the appointment which my brother made when we parted on yonder hill; he spoke of that appointment as a token of his sincerity - as a proof of the veracity of his statement - as an evidence that he came direct from Eugene!"
    "Many persons are acquainted with the fact of that, appointment," said Ellen. "There is not an individual in this neighbourhood who is ignorant of the meeting that is named for the 10th of July, 1843, between the ash-trees on that hill."
    "True!" exclaimed Markham. "The mere mention of that appointment is scarcely a sufficient evidence. And yet my brother might deem that it would prove sufficient: Eugene may not know how suspicious the deceits of this world are calculated to render the mind that has been their victim."
    "I have no doubt that Eugene is by this time as well acquainted with the world as you can be, Richard," persisted Ellen; "and I am also convinced that if he were to send such a message to you as this stranger has brought - making an appointment at a strange place and at a very lonely hour - he would have been careful to accompany it with some undeniable token of its genuineness."
    "You reason sensibly, Ellen," said Markham; "and yet I am by no means inclined to surrender up the hope that was just now so consoling to my heart - wounded as that heart is by many misfortunes!"
    "I reason consistently with your interests," returned Ellen. "Nothing could persuade me that your brother would fail to write a line to you in such a case as this is represented to be."
    "What say you, Mr. Monroe?" inquired Richard.
    "I am hesitating between the two arguments," answered the old man: "I know not whether to encourage the hope to which you cling - or to suffer myself to be persuaded by the reasoning of Ellen."
    At this moment Whittingham returned to the parlour.
    "The enwoy-plentipotent-and-hairy is gone,! said Whittingham; "and, although he didn't show his credentials, my firm compression is that he was raly the representation of the court he said he come from."
    "You questioned him closely?" asked Markham.
    " You know, Master Richard, I can put a poser or two now and then and if this man had been a [-318-] compostor, I should have circumwented him pretty soon, I can assure you."
    "He answered your questions in a straightforward manner, then?" persisted Richard.
    "He couldn't have been more straightfor'ard," replied Whittingham. "I'm sure he's a honest, simple-hearted, well-meaning man."
    "Then it is decided!" ejaculated Richard-: "I will go to this appointment. Who knows in what peril my poor brother may be? who can say from what dangers I may save him? who can explain what powerfu1 motives he may have for the nature of the appointment he has made, and the caution be has adopted in making it? I should be wrong to allow a suspicion to interfere with a duty. Were any thing serious to happen to Eugene, through the want of a friend at this moment, how should I ever ever reproach myself? I will not incur such a chance: I will go to-morrow evening to the spot named, and to the hour appointed!"
    Whittingham withdrew; and Ellen once more endeavoured to deter Richard from his resolution.
    "In the name of God, reflect," she exclaimed, with an earnestness which, had he not been otherwise preoccupied, would have struck him by its peculiarity, for it seemed rather the impassioned expression of a conviction based on indisputable grounds, than a doubt which might be based on truth or error ;- "in the name of God, reflect,  Richard, ere you endanger your life, perhaps, by going at a suspicious hour to a lonely place. Remember, you have enemies: recollect how nearly you met your death at the bands of one villain in the neighbourhood of Bird-Cage Walk - the narrative of which occurrence and your miraculous escape you have so often related to us ;- reflect that that was not the only occasion on which the same miscreant has sought to injure you —"
    "I know to what you allude, Ellen," said Markham, significantly; "and I thank you sincerely for your interest in my behalf. But, believe me, there is no Resurrection Man in the present matter: all is straightforward - I feel convinced of it."
    Markham uttered these words in a tone which left no scope for further argument or remonstrance; and Ellen threw herself back in her chair, a prey to reflections of the most painful nature.
    At length she retired to her chamber to meditate a in secret upon the incident of the morning.
    "What can I do," she mused aloud, "to convince  Richard Markham that he is nursing a delusion? I tremble lest some enemy should meditate treachery against him. Perhaps even his life may be threatened? Oh! the plots - the perfidies - the villanies which are engendered in this London! But how warn him? how prove to him that he is deceived? Alas! that is impossible ; unless, indeed —"
    But she shook her head impatiently, as if to renounce as impracticable the idea which had for a moment occupied her mind.
    "No," she continued, "that were madness indeed! And yet what can be done? He must not be allowed to rush headlong and blindly into danger - for that danger awaits him, I feel convinced. Perhaps that terrible man, from whose power he once escaped, and who denounced him at the theatre, may be the instigator of all this? And, if such be the fact, then who knows where the atrocity of that miscreant may stop? Murder - cold-blooded, ruthless murder may be the result of this mysterious appointment. And the murder of whom?" said  Ellen, a shudder passing, like a cold chill, over her entire frame: "the murder of my benefactor - of the noble-minded, the generous hearted young men who gave us an asylum when all the world forsook us! Oh! no - no - it must not be! I dare not tell him all I know; but I can do somewhat to protect him!"
    She smiled, in spite of the unpleasant nature o! the emotions that agitated her bosom - she smiled, because a wild and romantic idea had entered her imagination.
    Without further hesitation, - and acting under the sudden impulse of that idea, - she sate down and wrote a short note.
    When she had sealed and addressed it, she rant the bell. 
    In a few moments Marian answered the summons.
    "My faithful friend," said Ellen, "I am about to put your goodness to another test. But before I explain what I require of you, I beseech that you will not now endeavour to penetrate my motives. You shall know all the day after to-morrow."
    "Speak, Miss; I am always ready to do any thing I can for you," said Marian.
    "In the evening," continued Ellen, "you must find a pretence to go out for two or three hours. In the first instance you must call at Mr. Greenwood's house —"
    "Mr. Greenwood's?" ejaculated Marian.
    "Yes - but your business is not this time with him. On the contrary, he must not know the real motive of your visit, which is to deliver this note into the hands of his Italian valet Filippo. You have never seen Filippo - for he entered the service of Mr. Greenwood since you called there some months ago. You cannot, however, mistake him. He is a tall, dark man, with long black curling hair. Moreover, he speaks English with a strong foreign accent."
    "The description is sufficient, Miss," said Marian, " I shall not be mistaken."
    "This note is to be delivered into his hand and his only," continued Ellen. "Should you meet Mr. Greenwood by accident, you may say, 'I come from Miss Monroe to inform you that your child is well and thriving.' This will be an excuse, I must leave the rest to you; but I implore you to do all you can to obtain an interview with Filippo."
    "I will follow your wishes, Miss, to the utmost of my power," returned Marian.
    "And when you know the motives of my present proceeding," said Ellen, "you will be satisfied with the part you have taken in it."
    "I do not doubt you, Miss," observed Marian "Have you seen the dear little baby lately?"
    "I saw him yesterday," answered Ellen, "I called at Mr. Wentworth's: the excellent man's wife was nursing my little Richard. I took him in my arms and fondled him; but, alas! he cried bitterly. Of course he does not know me: he will learn to look up to a stranger as his mother! Oh Marian, that idea pierced like a dagger to my very heart!"
    "Cheer up, Miss!" exclaimed Marian, in a kind tone; "better days will come."
    "But never the day, Marian," added Ellen, solemnly, "when I can proclaim myself the mother of that child, nor blush to mention its father's name!"

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