chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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MIDNIGHT SCENE OF MYSTERY.
said Quentin to his fellow-domestics, as they were sitting at breakfast in the
servants' hall, "the Honourable Mr. Vernon is by no means the most
agreeable gentleman that over set foot in this house; but his valet beats any
thing I ever saw in the same shape."
"Did you ever see such a countenance!"
exclaimed one of the maids. "I am sure it was not for his good looks that
Mr. Vernon could have chosen him."
"He is just the kind of person that I should not
like to meet in a lane in a dark night," observed another member of the
female branch of dependants.
"He certainly cannot help his looks," said
Quentin: "but heaven knows they tell amazingly against him."
"And what I think somewhat extraordinary,"
remarked the butler, "is that just now I found him in my pantry, balancing
the silver spoons at the end of his finger, as if to tell the weight of them. So
I quietly informed him that my pantry was sacred; and he took himself off with a
very ill grace."
"Did you notice him last night, after supper,"
said the first maid who had spoken, "when we got talking about the
disappearance of Lydia Hutchinson with my lady's casket of jewels, how eagerly
he joined in the conversation, and how many questions he asked?"
"Yes, to be sure I did," returned another
female servant: "he was as curious about the matter as if Lydia was his own
sister, or daughter, or sweetheart. He wanted to learn how long ago it
happened — how we knew that she had run away with the casket — and
all about it; and then, when we told him what we thought of the matter, he
cross-questioned us as if he was a counsel and we were witnesses at a trial. But
I wonder who this widow is that came last night, and seems so intimate with my
"She's a very genteel person," said Quentin;
"and seems to know how to treat servants, as if she had a great many of her
own. You can always tell the true breed of people by the way they behave to
"I'm decidedly of your opinion, Mr. Quentin,"
observed a footman. "A true gentleman or true lady always says 'Thank
you,' when you hand them any thing at table, and so on. But it seems that my
lady is very unwell this morning; for she and her new friend had their breakfast
in my lady's own chamber."
"And the nurse and child are to remain altogether
in my lady's private suite of apartments," added one of the females.
"Does any one know the name of my lady's friend!"
"Mrs. Beaufort, I think the lady's-maid said,"
replied Quentin. "But here comes James White."
And James White did accordingly enter the servants' hall
at that moment in the person of the Resurrection Man; for by the former name was
he now pleased to pass at Ravensworth Hall.
"Been taking a walk, Mr. White!" said Quentin,
as Tidkins seated himself at the breakfast-table.
"Yes — just looking about the grounds a
little," was the answer. "Handsome building this — fine
park — beautiful gardens.
"It is a handsome building, Mr. White,"
said Quentin; "and as commodious as it is handsome."
"Very commodious," returned the Resurrection
Man. "Nice snug little private door, too, at the southern end " he
added with a strange leer.
"Why, that was the very door that Lydia Hut-[-325-]chinson
decamped by, when she ran off with my lady's jewels," exclaimed one of the
'Ah — indeed!" said the Resurrection
Man, carelessly. "And wasn't her ladyship cut up at the loss of the
'Somewhat so," was the female servant's answer.
"But my lady is too rich to care very much about. it."
'And was there no blue-bot — police-case, I
mean, made of it? " asked Tidkins.
'None," replied the maid. "My lady possesses
too good a heart to wish to punish even those who most wrong her."
'A very excellent trait in her character," observed
the Resurrection Man, as he deliberately made terrific inroads upon the bread
and butter and cold meat. "Was her ladyship at the Hall when that young
No: she had gone to London early in the morning of the
very same day. But there's my lady's bell." And the female servant who had
been thus conversing with the Resurrection Man, hastened to answer the summons.
In a few minutes she returned, saying, "Mr.
Quentin, you are wanted in the little parlour opposite my lady's room."
The valet repaired to the apartment named, where Eliza
Sydney was waiting for him.
Motioning him to close the door, she said in a low but
earnest tone, "Lady Ravensworth informs me that you were devoted to your
late master: doubtless you are equally well disposed towards his unprotected and
almost friendless wife?"
If there is any way, madam, in which my fidelity can be
put to the test, I shall be well pleased," was the reply.
"In a word, then," continued Eliza, "your
mistress and the infant heir are in danger; and it behoves you to aid me in
defeating the machinations of their enemies. After what I have now said, are
your suspicions in no way excited?"
I confess, madam," answered Quentin, "that the
presence of a certain person in this house — "
"You allude to the Honourable Mr. Vernon,"
exclaimed Eliza; "and you are right! He has domiciled himself here without
invitation — without apparent motive; and he is attended by an
individual capable of any atrocity."
Mr. Vernon's valet?" said Quentin, interrogatively.
"The same," was the reply. "But I dare
not explain myself more fully at present. What I now require of you is to watch
all the proceedings of Mr. Vernon and his attendant, and report to me whatever
you may think worthy of observation."
"I will not fail to do so, madam," returned
"And now I have to request you to give me a small
portion of the tobacco which the late Lord Ravensworth was accustomed to
use," continued Eliza; "and the remainder you must carefully conceal
in some secure place, as it may some day be required for inspection
"Your directions shall all be implicitly attended
to," said Quentin. "But might I be permitted to ask whether you are
aware, madam, that the tobacco was sent to Lord Ravensworth by Mr. Vernon?"
"It is my knowledge of that fact which induced to
give those instructions concerning the weed-the fatal weed," replied
"Ah! madam — I also have had my
suspicions on that head!" exclaimed Quentin, who perfectly understood the
lady's meaning. "I hinted those suspicions to the medical gentleman who
attended my lord in his last moments; and he had the tobacco analysed by a
skilful chemist; — but the result did not turn out as I had
"Lady Ravensworth has already mentioned this fact
to me," said Eliza: "I have, however, conceived a means of submitting
the weed to a better test. But of this and other subjects I will speak to you
more fully hereafter."
Quentin withdrew to fetch a small sample of the tobacco,
with which he shortly reappeared. Eliza renewed her injunctions to watch the
movements of Vernon and his valet; and then hastened to rejoin Lady Ravensworth.
The day passed without the occurrence of any thing worth
relating, but in the evening one or two little circumstances in the conduct of
Mr. Vernon's valet struck the now watchful Quentin as being somewhat peculiar.
In the first place, Tidkins sought an excuse to lounge
into the kitchen at a moment when the servants belonging to that department of
the household were temporarily absent; and Quentin, who followed him
unperceived, was not a little astonished when he saw the Resurrection Man
hastily conceal three large meat-hooks about his person.
There were some silver forks and spoons lying on the
table; but those Tidkins did not touch. It was consequently apparent to Quentin
that Mr. Vernon's valet did not self-appropriate the meat-hooks for the sake of
their paltry value: it was clear that he required them for some particular
"What, in the name of common sense! can he possibly
want with meat-hooks?" was the question which the astonished Quentin put to
Conjecture was vain; but the incident determined him to
continue to watch Mr. Vernon's valet very closely.
When the hour for retiring to rest arrived, a female
servant offered Tidkins a chamber candlestick; but he requested to be provided
with a lantern, saying with a carelessness which Quentin perceived to be
affected," The truth is, I'm fond of reading in bed; and as a candle is
dangerous, I prefer a lantern."
Quentin alone suspected the truth of this statement. He,
however, said nothing. The lantern was given to Tidkins; and the servants
separated for the night.
It so happened that the bed-room allotted to the
Resurrection Man was in the same passage as that tenanted by Quentin. Suspecting
that Tidkins required the lantern for some purpose to be executed that night,
Quentin crept along the passage, and peeped through the key-hole of the other's
He was enabled to command a good view of the interior of
that room, the key not being in the lock; and he behold Tidkins busily engaged
in fastening the meat-hooks to a stout stick about a foot and a half long. The
Resurrection Man next took the cord which had secured his trunk, and tied one
end round the middle of the stick. He then wound the cord round the stick,
apparently to render this singular apparatus more conveniently portable.
This being done, Tidkins put off his suit of brand new
black, and dressed himself in a more common garb, which he took from his trunk.
[-326-] When he had thus
changed his clothes, he secured the stick, with the cord and meat-hooks, about
"This is most extraordinary!" thought Quentin
to himself. "He is evidently going out. But what is he about to do? what
can all this mean?"
The valet's bewilderment was increased when he beheld
the Resurrection Man take a pair of pistols from his trunk, deliberately charge
them with powder and ball, and then consign them to his pocket.
"What can he mean?" was the question which
Quentin repeated to himself a dozen times in a minute.
The bell on the roof of the mansion now proclaimed the
hour of midnight; and Tidkins, having suddenly extinguished the candle in the
lantern, made a motion as if he were about to leave the room.
Quentin accordingly retreated a few yards up the
passage, which was quite dark.
Almost immediately afterwards, he heard the door of
Tidkins' room open cautiously: then it was closed again, and the sharp click of
a key turning in a lock followed.
Tidkins was now stealing noiselessly down the passage,
little suspecting that any one was occupied in dogging him. He descended the
stairs, gained the servants' offices, and passed out of the mansion by a back
But Quentin was on his track.
The night was almost as dark as pitch; and the valet had
the greatest difficulty in following the steps of the Resurrection Man without
approaching him so closely as to risk the chance of being overheard. From time
to time Tidkins stopped — evidently to listen; and then Quentin
stood perfectly still also. So cautious indeed was the latter in his task of
dogging the Resurrection Man, that this individual, keen as were his ears, and
piercing his eyes, neither heard nor saw any thing to excite a suspicion that he
By degrees, black as was the night, Quentin's eyes
became accustomed to that almost profound obscurity; and by the time the
Resurrection Man had traversed the gardens, and clambered over the railings
which separated those grounds from the open fields the valet could
distinguish — only just distinguish a dark form moving forward
"If I can thus obtain a glimpse of him,"
thought Quentin, "he can in the same manner catch sight of me the first
time he turns round."
And the valet was accordingly compelled to slacken his
pace until he could no longer distinguish the form of him whom he was pursuing.
But as the Resurrection Man, deeming himself quite
secure, did not take the trouble to walk lightly along the hard path which ran
through the fields, Quentin was now enabled to follow without difficulty the
sounds of his footsteps.
All of a sudden those sounds ceased; and Quentin stopped
short. In another minute, however, he heard the low rustling tread of feet
walking rapidly over the grass; and thus he recovered the trail which was so
The Resurrection Man had turned out of the beaten path,
and was pursuing his way diagonally across the field.
Quentin followed him with the utmost caution: and in a
few moments there was a bright flash in the corner of the field, the cause of
which the valet was at no loss to comprehend.
Tidkins had lighted a lucifer-match — doubtless
to assure himself that he was in the particular spot which he sought.
Quentin, to whom every square yard of the estate was
well known, immediately remembered that there was a pond in the corner of the
field where Tidkins had thus stopped; and close by was a thick hedge. The valet
accordingly made a short and rapid circuit in order to gain the stile leading
into the adjacent field: then, creeping carefully along the bushes, he arrived
in a few moments behind that precise portion of the hedge which overlooked the
The night was so dark that he could not follow with his
eyes the exact movements of the Resurrection Man. He was, however, enabled to
distinguish his form on the opposite bank of the pond; and not many moments
after he had taken his post behind the hedge, there was a sudden splash in the
water, as of some object thrown into it. Then the Resurrection Man moved slowly
along the bank; and it instantly struck Quentin that he was dragging the pond.
This idea explained the purpose of the apparatus formed
by the hooks, the stout stick, and the cord — but for what could he
The valet shuddered as this question occurred to
him; — for the nature of the apparatus, the secresy of the whole
proceeding, and the bad opinion which Eliza Sydney's hints had induced him to
form of him whom he, however, only knew as James White, — these
circumstances combined to fill Quentin's mind with a terrible suspicion that
Tidkins was dragging for a dead body.
The Resurrection Man drew up his drag with a terrible
oath, uttered aloud, and expressive of disappointment.
"And yet this must be the spot!" he added, as
he disentangled the hooks from the cord. "I was over the whole grounds this
morning — and I could swear it was here that — "
The conclusion of the sentence was muttered to himself,
and therefore remained unheard by the valet.
The drag was thrown into the water a second time; and,
at the expiration of a few moments, Tidkins gave utterance to an exclamation
expressive of satisfaction.
Then he retreated slowly from the edge of the pond, as
if dragging a heavy object out of the water.
From behind the hedge Quentin strained his eye., with
mingled feelings of curiosity and terror, to scrutinise as narrowly as possible
the real meaning of this strange and mysterious proceeding. At length there was
a strong gurgling of the water: and in another moment a large dark object was
moving slowly and heavily up the steep bank.
A cold shudder crept over the valet's frame; for that
object bore the appearance of a corpse!
He would have taken to flight-he would have escaped from
the contemplation of such a strange and appalling scene — he would
have hastened back to the mansion to raise an alarm; — but vague
fears — ineffable horror hound him as it were to the spot — paralysed
his limbs-and compelled him to remain a spectator of the dark proceeding.
The object was safely landed upon the bank: there was a
sharp crack as of a match — a small blue flame suddenly
appeared — and then Tidkins lighted the candle in his lantern.
[-327-] This being done, he
approached the object upon the bank; — and in another moment all
Quentin's doubts were cleared up — for the light of the lantern now
fell upon the body of a female!
He closed his eyes instinctively — and his
brain was seized with a sudden dizziness. But, mastering his feelings, he again
looked towards the mysterious and fearful drama which was being enacted on the
opposite bank of the pond.
The light was again extinguished; and Tidkins was
stooping over the corpse.
Suddenly an exclamation of joy escaped his lips; but
Quentin was unable to divine the cause.
Another minute elapsed; and the Resurrection Man rolled
the body back again into the water.
There was a second splash a moment afterwards: it was
evidently the drag which Tidkins had thrown away, its services being no longer
required by him.
Then he retreated with rapid step from the bank of the
pond; and Quentin, scarcely able to subdue the terror which had taken possession
of him, retraced his way along the hedge, — determined, in spite of
his feelings, to watch the Resurrection Man to the end — if more
there were of this strange midnight drama yet to come.
Having hastily performed the short circuit that was
necessary to bring him back into the field through which Tidkins was now
proceeding, Quentin shortly came within sight of that individual's dark form,
moving rapidly along the beaten path.
Near the railings which bounded the gardens, there were
several groups of large trees; and at the foot of one of them Tidkins halted.
Stooping down, he appeared to be busily employed for some minute in digging up
the earth. Quentin approached as nearly as he could without incurring the risk
of discovery; and the motions of the Resurrection Man convinced him that he was
indeed engaged in burying something at the foot of the tree.
This task being accomplished, Tidkins clambered over the
palings, and pursued his way through the gardens towards the back gate of the
Quentin remained behind — his first impulse
being to examine the spot where the Resurrection Man had been digging. But a
second thought made him hesitate; and, after a few moments' reflection, he
determined to wait until he had reported the whole of this night's mysterious
proceedings to the lady whom he only knew as Mrs. Beaufort, and at whose
instance he had been induced to watch the proceedings of Mr. Vernon's valet.
He accordingly pursued his way back to the mansion. But
as the Resurrection Man had bolted the back door inside, Quentin was compelled
to gain an entry through one of the windows of the servants' offices. This he
effected with safety, and noiselessly returned to his own chamber.
But he closed not his eyes in slumber throughout the
remainder of that night; for all he had seen haunted his imagination like a
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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