chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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days after the suicide of Lady Cecilia Harborough, — an event which
created a profound sensation in the fashionable world, and plunged the Tremordyn
family into mourning, — Richard Markham was a passenger in a coach
that passed through Hounslow.
At this town he alighted, and inquired the way to the
residence of Mr. Bennet, a small farmer in the neighbourhood.
A guide was speedily procured at the inn; and after a
pleasant walk of about three miles. across a [-70-]
country which already bore signs of the genial influence of an early spring,
Richard found himself at the gate of a comfortable-looking farm-house.
He dismissed his guide with a gratuity, and was shortly
admitted by a buxom servant-girl into a neat little parlour, where he was
presently joined by Katherine.
The young maiden was rejoiced to see her benefactor; and
tears started into her eyes, though her lips were wreathed in smiles; — but
they were tears of pleasure amid gratitude.
This is kind of you, Mr. Markham," she said, as he
shook her hand with friendly warmth.
"I am come to see you upon important business,
Katherine," observed Richard. "But first let me inquire after the good
people with whom you reside?"
"I am sorry to say," answered Katherine,
"that Mrs. Bennet experienced a relapse after her return from London; and
she is not able to leave her chamber. She is, however, much better. Her husband
is a kind-hearted, good man, and he behaves like a father to me. He is now
occupied with the business of his farm, but will be in presently."
"And now, Katherine, listen to the tidings which I
have to communicate," said Markham. "Have you received any news from
London within the last day or two?"
"No-not a word," returned Katherine, already
alarmed lest some new misfortune was about to be announced to her.
"Compose yourself," said Richard; "the
news that I have for you are good. But first I must inform you that your late
master, Mr. Reginald Tracy, is no more."
"Dead! "exclaimed Katherine.
"He put a period to his own existence,"
continued Markham; "but not before he made you all the amends in his power
for the deep injury which his own guilt entailed upon you."
"Then he confessed his crime, amid thus established
my innocence beyond all doubt?" said Katherine.
"And he has bequeathed to you his whole fortune,
with the exception of a small legacy to Mrs. Bonnet, whom his guilt deprived of
a sister," added our hero.
"Oh! then he died penitent!" exclaimed
Katherine, weeping — for her goodness of heart prompted her to shed
tears even for one who had involved her in such a labyrinth of misery as that
from which she had only so recently been extricated.
"He died by his own hands," said Richard;
"and the world will not generally admit that such an act can be consonant
with sincere penitence. That he attempted to make his peace with heaven ere he
rushed into the presence of the Almighty, let us hope: — that he did
all he could to recompense those whom his crime had injured, is apparent. But
this letter will probably tell you more on that head."
Richard handed to Katherine a letter, as he uttered
It was addressed, "Miss Katherine Wilmot."
With a trembling hand the young girl opened it; and with
tearful eyes she read the following words: —
"To you, Katherine Wilmot, a man about to appear
before his Maker appeals for pardon. That man is deeply imbued with a sense of
the injury — the almost irreparable injury which his enormous guilt
caused you to sustain. But in confessing that this guilt was all and solely his
own — in proclaiming your complete innocence,-and in offering you
the means of henceforth enjoying independence and fulfilling the dictates of
your charitable disposition, — that great criminal entertains a hope
that you will accord him your forgiveness, and that you will appreciate his
anxiety to do you justice in his last moments. My solicitor is already
acquainted with my intentions; and he will faithfully execute my wishes. This
letter will be forwarded to him, to be delivered to you, through your
benefactor — that noble-hearted young man, Mr. Richard Markham. The
bulk of my fortune, amounting to eighteen thousand pounds, I have made over to
my solicitor in trust for yourself, and under certain conditions which I have
devised exclusively for your benefit. The sum of five hundred pound. I have, in
addition, bequeathed to Rachel Bennet, with the hope that she will extend her,
pardon also to the man who deprived her of an affectionate Sister. This letter
is written in a hurried manner, and under circumstances whose appalling nature
you may well conceive. May heaven bless you! Refuse not to pray for the soul of
Katherine perused this letter, and then handed it to
While he read it, the young maiden prayed inwardly but
sincerely for the eternal welfare of him whose course had been dazzling like a
meteor, but had terminated in a cloud of appalling blackness.
"Those conditions, to which the unhappy man
alluded, I can explain to you," said Richard, after a long interval of
silence, during which he allowed Katherine to compose her thoughts. "This
letter was placed in the hands of Mr. Tracy's solicitor, by the governor of
Newgate, the day before yesterday. The lawyer immediately wrote to me, being
unacquainted with your address. I saw him yesterday afternoon; and he gave me
the letter to convey to you, entrusting me at the same time with the duty of
communicating to you this last act of Reginald Tracy. Mr. Wharton acquainted me
with the conditions which Mr. Tracy had named. Those are that you shall enjoy
the interest of the money until you attain the age of twenty-one, when the
capital shall be placed at your whole and sole disposal; but should you marry
previous to that period, then the capital may also be transferred to your name.
And now I must touch upon a more delicate point — inasmuch as it
alludes to myself. Mr. Tracy was pleased to place such confidence in me, as to
have stipulated that should you contract any marriage previous to the attainment
of the age of twenty-one, without my approval of the individual on whom you may
settle your affections, you will then forfeit all right and title to the
fortune, which is in that case to be devoted to purposes of charity specified in
the instructions given by Mr. Tracy to his solicitor."
"Oh! I should never think of taking any step — however
trivial, or however important — without consulting you, as my
benefactor — my saviour!" exclaimed Katherine.
"You are a good and a grateful girl,
Katherine," said Richard; "and never for a moment did I mistake your
excellent heart — never did I lose my confidence in your discretion
"No-for when all the world deserted me," said
the maiden, "you befriended me!"
"I have yet other matters of business to consult
you upon," continued Markham. "Yesterday evening your uncle called
upon me. Never-never have I seen such an alteration so speedily wrought in any
living being! He said that certain representations which I had made to him at
the tavern in the [-71-] Old Bailey, after you had
departed with Mrs. Bonnet, had induced him to reflect more seriously upon the
course of life which he had been for years pursuing."
"Oh! these news are welcome-welcome indeed!"
ejaculated Katherine, clasping her hands together in token of gratitude.
"I communicated to him your good fortune,
Katherine," proceeded Markham; "and he wept like a child."
"Poor uncle! His heart was not altogether closed
against me!" murmured Katherine.
"I desired him to call upon me to-morrow, and I
assured him that in the meantime I would devise some project by which he should
be enabled to earn a livelihood whereof he need not be ashamed."
"You are not content with being my benefactor, Mr.
Markham: you intend to make my relatives adore your name!" cried Katherine,
her heart glowing with gratitude towards our hero.
"I now intend that you shall be the means of doing
good, Katherine," said Richard, with a smile.
"Oh! tell me how!" exclaimed the amiable girl,
"You shall draw upon the first year's interest of
your fortune, for a sufficient sum to enable your uncle to retire to some
distant town, where, under another name, he may commence a business at whose
nature he will not be forced to blush."
"Oh! that proposal is indeed a source of
indescribable happiness to me," said Katherine.
"Then I will carry the plan into effect
tomorrow," continued Richard. "Your uncle and cousin shall both visit
you here, when they leave London"
"Poor John!" said Katherine. "Do you
think that his father — "
"Will treat him better in future?" added
Markham, seeing that the maiden hesitated. "Yes: I will answer for it! A
complete change has taken place in your uncle: he is another man."
"He contemplated your benevolence, and he could not
do otherwise than be struck by the example," said Kate.
"I asked him if he desired you to live with him in
future; and he replied, Not for worlds!' He then continued to say that
dwell where he might, conceal his name how he would, there would be danger of
his ancient calling transpiring; and he would not incur the chance of involving
you in the disgrace that might ensue. This consideration on his part speaks
volumes in favour of that change which has been effected within him"
"The tidings you have brought me concerning my
uncle, Mr. Markham," said Katherine, far outweigh in my estimation the news
of my good fortune."
"Your uncle and your cousin will yet be happy-no
doubt," observed Richard. "In reference to your self, what course
would you like to adopt? Would you wish me to seek some respectable and worthy
family in London, with whom you can take up your abode in entire independence?
or — "
"Oh! no-not London!" exclaimed Katherine,
recoiling from the name in horror.
"My counsel is that you remain here — in
this seclusion, — at least for the present," said Richard.
"The tranquillity of this rural dwelling — the charms of the
country — the unsophisticated manners of these good people, will
restore your mind to its former composure, after all you have passed
"This advice I have every inclination to
fellow," said Katherine; "and even were I otherwise disposed — which
I could not be — your counsel would at once decide me."
"Remember, Katherine," resumed Markham,
"I do not wish you to pass the best portion of your youth in this
retirement. With your fortune and brilliant prospect, such a proceeding were
unnatural — absurd. I only feel desirous that for a short time you
should remain afar from society — until recent events shall be
forgotten, and until your own mind shall become calm and relieved from the
excitement which past misfortunes have been so painfully calculated to
"I will remain here until you tell me that it is
good for me to go elsewhere," said Katherine.
At this moment an old man, dressed in a rustic garb, but
with a good-natured countenance amid venerable white hair, entered the room.
This was the farmer himself.
Katherine introduced Richard to him as her benefactor;
and the old man shook hands with our hero in a cordial manner, saying at the
same time, "By all I have heard Miss Kate tell of you, sir, you must be an
honour to any house, whether rich or poor, that you condescend to visit."
Richard thanked the good-natured rustic for the
well-meant compliment, and then communicated to him the fact that his wife was
entitled to a legacy of five hundred pounds, which would be paid to her order in
the course of a few days.
The old man was overjoyed at these tidings, although his
countenance partially fell when he heard the source whence the bequest emanated:
but Richard convinced him that it would be unwise and absurd to refuse it.
Mr. Bennet hastened upstairs to communicate the news to
While he was absent, the farmer's servant-girl entered
to spread the table for the afternoon's repast.
On the return of the old man to the room, the dinner was
served up; and our hero sat down to table with the farmer and Katherine.
A happy meal was that; and in the pure felicity which
Katherine now enjoyed, Richard beheld to a considerable extent the results of
his own goodness. How amply did the spectacle of that young creature's happiness
reward him for all that he had done in her behalf!
It was four o'clock in the afternoon when our hero took
his leave of the old farmer and Miss Wilmot, in order to retrace his steps to
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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