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LONDON [Vol. II]
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EFFECT OF THE ORIENTAL TOBACCO. — THE OLD HAG'S PAPERS.
had Lady Ravensworth risen from the table, whereon stood the untasted morning
meal, when the housekeeper of the town-mansion entered the room, and informed
her mistress that Quentin had just arrived on horseback from the Hall, and
requested an immediate audience of her ladyship.
Adeline was not unprepared for some such circumstance as
this: she however affected to believe that the sudden appearance of Quentin in
town bore reference to the illness of her husband; and when the valet entered
the apartment, she hastened to meet him, exclaiming, with well-assumed anxiety,
"Is any thing the matter with your lord? Speak, Quentin — speak!"
"His lordship is certainly worse this morning, my
lady: but- — "
"But not dangerously so, Quentin?" cried
Adeline, as if tortured by acute suspense and apprehension.
"My lord is far — very far from
well," returned Quentin: "but that is not precisely the object of my
coming to town so early. The truth is, my lady, that Lydia Hutchinson has
"Lydia gone!" exclaimed Lady Ravensworth.
"Yes — my lady. But permit me to ask
whether your ladyship brought your jewel-casket to town with you yesterday
"Certainly not, Quentin: I merely came for a few
hours — or at least until this morning — "
"Then our worst fears are confirmed!"
ejaculated the valet. "Lydia has decamped with your ladyship's jewel
"The ungrateful wretch!" cried Adeline,
feigning deep indignation. "Was she not well treated at the Hall? was I a
severe mistress to her?"
"She was not a favourite with the other dependents
of your ladyship's household," observed Quentin.
"And when did this happen? how did you discover her
flight?" demanded Lady Ravensworth.
"She was not missed until this morning, my lady;
although there is every reason to believe that she must have taken her departure
last evening. She had agreed with the housekeeper to take the first half of the
night in watching by the side of Lord Dunstable's bed; but as she did not make
her appearance at the proper time, it was concluded she had gone to rest, and
another female domestic took her place. This morning, the gardener found the
wicket of the southern fence open, and the key in the lock: this circumstance
excited his suspicions; and, on farther investigation, he also found the key is
the lock of the private door at the same end of the building. He gave an alarm:
a search was instituted; and, after a time, your ladyship's chamber was visited,
when the bureau was discovered to be open and the casket of jewels was missed.
The servants were mustered; but Lydia had disappeared; and it was subsequently
ascertained that her bed had not been slept in all night. Moreover, the
candlestick which Lydia was in the habit of using when she waited upon your
ladyship, was found lying in the middle of your ladyship's boudoir, as if it had
been hastily flung down — probably in a moment of alarm."
"And has nothing been missed save my jewels?"
demanded Adding, whose plan had succeeded in all its details precisely as she
"Nothing — at least so far as we had
been enabled to ascertain before I left for town, my lady," answered
Quentin. "And what is more remarkable still, is that Lydia took none of her
own things with her. It seems as if she had gone to your ladyship's boudoir,
discovered the key of the bureau, and finding the jewel-casket there, was
suddenly impelled by the idea of the theft; so that she decamped that very
moment-for it does not appear that she even took a shawl, or a cloak, or a
bonnet with her; although, of course, as she had been so short a time in your
ladyship's service, the other female servants scarcely knew what clothes she
"But the keys of the private door and the
wicket!" exclaimed Adeline: "how came she with them?"
"They might have been in your ladyship's room — by
some accident," answered Quentin, with a little embarrassment of manner.
"Yes — I believe they were," said
Adeline, blushing deeply — for she guessed the cause of the valet's
hesitation: he was evidently impressed with the idea that his mistress had
possessed herself of those keys to favour her supposed amour with Colonel
But she willingly incurred even this suspicion, because,
by apparently accounting for the keys being in her room, it made the evidence
stronger against Lydia Hutchinson.
"Does his lordship as yet know of this event?"
inquired Adeline, after a short pause.
"I communicated the fact to his lordship,"
answered Quentin; "but he treated it with so much indifference, that I did
not enter into any details. I shall now, with your ladyship's permission, repair
to Bow Street, and lodge information of the robbery."
Lady Ravensworth suffered the valet to reach the door
ere she called him back; for nothing was more opposed to her plan than the idea
of giving any notoriety to the transaction, inasmuch as such a course might
afford Anthony Tidkins a clue to the entire mystery of the transaction in which
he had played so important a part.
Accordingly, as if impelled by a second thought, she
said, "Stay, Quentin: this step must not be taken."
"What, my lady?" cried the valet, in
"I must show leniency in this respect," was
"Leniency, my lady, towards one who has robbed your
ladyship of jewels worth, as I understand, at least two thousand pounds!"
ejaculated Quentin, his surprise increasing.
"Yes — such is my desire, upon second
thoughts,' she continued. "My dear cousin Lady Bounce is [-276-]
deeply interested — I scarcely know exactly why — in
this young woman; and I feel convinced that she would rather induce her husband
Sir Cherry to repay me for the loss of my jewels, than see Lydia Hutchinson, bad
though she must be, involved in so serious a dilemma. I shall therefore feel
obliged to you, Quentin, to keep the affair as secret as possible — at
least until I have communicated with Lady Bounce."
"Your ladyship's commands shall be obeyed,"
said the obsequious valet, with a bow. "In this case, I may return
immediately to the Park."
"Let the carriage be got ready, and I will myself
hasten thither," answered Adeline; "as you say that his lordship is
Quentin retired, well persuaded in his own mind that the
leniency of his mistress was caused by her fears lest the presumed fact of the
keys of the private door and the wicket having been kept in her room might lead
to inquiries calculated to bring to light her supposed amour with Colonel
Thus was it that one of the engines of Lydia's
vengeance, — namely, the trick by which she had induced the Colonel
to enter her mistress's boudoir, and the fact of making the other servants privy
to that visit, — now materially served the purposes of Adeline.
In a quarter of an hour the carriage was ready; and Lady
Ravensworth was soon on her way back to the Hall.
On her arrival, she found that the circumstance of Lydia
Hutchinson's disappearance had yielded in interest to one of a more grave and
Lord Ravensworth was dying!
She hastened to his apartment, and found him lying in
bed — in a state of complete insensibility — and
attended by Mr. Graham, who had sent of an express to town (by a shorter way
than the main road by which Adeline had returned) for eminent medical
It appeared that about an hour previously the nobleman's
bell had rung violently; and when the servants hurried to the room, they found
their master in a fit. He had probably felt himself suddenly attacked with an
alarming symptom, and staggered from his chair to the bell-rope, and had then
fallen upon the floor. Mr. Graham had been immediately summoned; and by his
orders Lord Ravensworth was conveyed to bed.
But he had continued insensible — with his
eyes closed; and the only sign of life was given by his faint, low breathing.
It is scarcely necessary to state that Mr. Graham
exerted all his skill on behalf of the dying man.
Adeline affected the deepest sorrow at the condition in
which she found her husband; — but the only grief which she really
experienced was caused by the prospect of being shortly compelled to resign all
control over the broad lands of Ravensworth in case her as yet unborn child
should prove a daughter.
In the course of the day two eminent physicians arrived
from London; but the condition of Lord Ravensworth was hopeless: nothing could
arouse him from the torpor in which he was plunged; and in the evening he
breathed his last.
Thus was it that this nobleman had at length
accomplished — involuntarily accomplished — his
self-destruction by the use of the oriental tobacco sent to him by his brother
On the first day of February there had been a marriage
at Ravensworth Hall: on the sixteenth there was a funeral.
How closely does mourning follow upon the heels of
rejoicing, in this world!
On the same night when Lord Ravensworth breathed his
last, the following scene occurred in London.
It was about eleven o'clock when the Resurrection Man
and Mr. Banks entered the cell in which the old woman was confined.
"Is your labour done?" demanded Tidkins, in a
surly tone, as if he expected a farther delay in the business.
"God be thanked! "returned the foul hag;
"it is complete."
And she pointed to several sheets of paper, written upon
in a hand which showed that the harridan had been no contemptible pen-woman in
her younger days.
The Resurrection Man greedily seized the manuscript, and
began to scrutinise each consecutive page. As he read, his countenance displayed
grim signs of satisfaction; and when, at the expiration of a quarter of an hour,
he consigned the papers to his pocket, he said, "Well, by what I have seen
this really looks like business."
"The old wessel has done her dooty at last,,'
observed Mr. Banks, shaking his head solemnly; "and what a blessed
consolation it must be for her to know that she has made a friend of you that's
able to protect her from her enemies while she lives, and of me that'll bury her
on the newest and most economic principles when she's nothing more than a
defunct old carkiss."
"Consolation, indeed!" cried Tidkins: then,
counting down ten sovereigns upon the table, he said, "Here's what I
promised you, old woman, for the fulfilment of the first condition. Now me and
Banks will take you home again; and when you give me up the written proofs you
spoke of, you shall have t'other ten quids."
"Alack! I've earned these shining pieces
well," muttered the hag, as she wrapped the sovereigns in a morsel of
paper, and concealed them under her clothes.
The Resurrection Man now proceeded to blindfold her
carefully; and the operation reminded him of the process to which he had
submitted on the preceding night, at the hands of his veiled patroness. He next
helped the old woman to put on her cloak, the hood of which he threw over her
bonnet so that a portion of it concealed her face; and Banks then led her away
from the subterranean, while Tidkins remained behind them for a few moments to
secure the doors.
The party now proceeded, by the most unfrequented
streets, through Globe Town into Bethnal Green; but it was not until they
reached Shoreditch, that the Resurrection Man removed the bandage from the old
Then she gazed rapidly around her, to ascertain where
"Ah! you'll never guess. where you've been locked
up for the last ten or twelve days," said the Resurrection Man, with a low
[-277-] "Never — as
sure as she's a sinful old creetur'!" remarked Banks.
The worthy trio then pursued their way to Golden Lane.
On their arrival at the court, the hag uttered an
exclamation of delight when she beheld the filthy place of her abode once more
but her joy was suddenly changed into sadness as a thought struck her; and she
exclaimed, "I wonder what has become of the poor dear children that are
dependent on me!"
She alluded to the juvenile prostitutes whom she had
tutored in the ways of vice.
Heaving a deep sigh at the reflection, she took a key
from her pocket, and opened the door of her house.
A little delay occurred in obtaining a light; but at
length she found a candle and matches in a cup-board at the end of the passage.
Mr. Banks now officiously opened the door of the old
woman's parlous; but this act was followed by sweeping, rustling noise — and
the undertaker started back, uttering a yell of agony.
The hag screamed too, and nearly dropped the light; for
her large black cat had flown at Banks as he entered the room.
The fact was that the poor animal had been left in that
apartment, when the old woman first set out with the Resurrection Man and the
undertaker for Hounslow; and it had gone mad through starvation.
Tidkins rushed forward the moment his friend gave vent
to that scream of anguish, and caught the cat by the neck and hind legs with his
powerful fingers, as it clung, furious with rage, to the breast of the
undertaker, whose dingy shirt frill and front its claws tore to rags.
"Don't strangle it-don't strangle it!" cried
the hag, with unfeigned anxiety — for the only thing she loved in
the world was her huge black cat.
"Stand back, old witch!" exclaimed Tidkins
"this beast is capable of tearing you to pieces.
And in spite of the violent pressure he maintained with
his fingers upon its throat, the animal struggled fearfully.
"They say the cussed weasel has nine lives,"
observed Mr. Banks, dolefully, as he beheld the tattered state of his linen and
smarted with the pain of the cat's scratches upon his chest.
"Don't kill it, I say!" again screamed the hag
"it will be good with me-it will be good with me."
"Too late to intercede," add the Resurrection
Man, coolly, as he literally wrung the cat's neck: then he tossed the carcass
from him upon the stairs.
"Poor thing!" murmured the old woman:
"poor thing! I will bury it decently in the yard to-morrow morning."
And she actually wiped away a tear, — she
who felt no pity, no compunction, no sympathy in favour of a human soul!
"She'll bury it, will she?" muttered Banks,
endeavouring to smooth his linen: "on economic principles, I suppose."
The trio then entered the parlour: but before she could
compose herself to attend to business, the old hag was compelled to have
recourse to her gin; and fortunately there was some in her bottle. Her two
companions refreshed themselves in a similar manner; and Tidkins then said,
"Now for the proofs of all you've said in your history!"
"Not all — not all: I never said
all," cried the hag; "only of a part. And so, if you will lay the
other ten sovereigns on the table, you shall have the papers."
The old woman spoke more confidently now; for she felt
herself to be less in the power of her two companions than she so lately was.
The Resurrection Man understood her, and smiled grimly,
as he counted the money before her.
She then took a pair of scissors, cut a small hole in
the mattress of her bed, and drew forth a pocketbook, which she betided to
It was tied round with a piece of riband — once
pink, now faded to a dingy white; and its contents were several letters.
The Resurrection Man glanced over their superscriptions,
muttering to himself, "Well, you have not deceived me: I have brought you
to reason — I thought I should. Ha! what have we here? 'To Mr.
Markham, Markham Place, Lower Holloway.' — And here is another
to him — and another. — But this next is different. 'To
the Marquis of Holmesford, Holmesford House.' — Slap-up fellow,
that — a regular old rake: keeps a harem, they say. — And
here is another to him. — Then we have one — two — three,
all directed alike — to 'Mrs. Wilmot,' and no address:
conveyed by hand, I suppose. And that's all."
With a complacent smile — as complacent as a
smile on such a countenance could be — the Resurrection Man secured
the pocketbook with its contents about his person.
He and Banks then took their leave of the old
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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