chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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the morning Eliza Sydney received the following letter from Filippo Dorsenni:
Your orders have been punctually obeyed. I have already
visited the landlady in Stamford Street, under pretence of being acquainted with
a gentleman who wishes to take lodgings in that Street; and I have ascertained
that her last lodger — who can be none other than Mr.
Vernon — resided with her three or four months. Consequently he has
been in England during that period.
"In the second place, I have discovered the address
of the beautiful Georgian; and can communicate with her so soon as I receive
your instructions to that effect.
"Thirdly, I have despatched a faithful person to
Beyrout; and he will return to England the moment he shall have gleaned the
information specified in your instructions."
To this letter Eliza despatched an immediate answer,
praising her faithful adherent for the skill and despatch with which he had
executed her orders, and giving him certain instructions in respect to
She then repaired to the parlour opposite Lady
Ravensworth's own apartment; for Quentin had already sent a private message by
one of the female servants, intimating that he was anxious to speak to her
When they met in the parlour, Eliza heard with profound
astonishment the extraordinary narrative which the valet had to relate to her.
"Some deed of mystery and crime has been doubtless
perpetrated," observed Eliza; "but it cannot possibly bear any
reference to the atrocious plot which Gilbert Vernon is meditating against the
happiness of his sister-in-law and the life of her child. I will now tell you
that the villain who passes in this house as James White is in reality a certain
Anthony Tidkins, known amongst his associates in crime as the Resurrection
"I have heard of him, madam," said Quentin,
with a shudder. "And, by the by — was it not this same wretch
who lately escaped in so extraordinary a manner from the Middlesex House of
Correction? The affair was in all the newspapers."
"He is the same person," answered Eliza.
"Oh! madam," cried Quentin, somewhat
reproachfully; "It is not for me to dictate to you — but since
you have discovered who this man is, how could you permit him to remain for one
single day at large? — why should he be allowed to take his place at
the same table with honest people?"
"I admit that such society must be abhorrent in the
extreme," answered Eliza, mildly but firmly: "I also acknowledge that
for a short space I am depriving justice of its due. Listen, however, to my
reasons. Gilbert Vernon is a man of so desperate a character that he will
hesitate at no crime which will make him master of the lands and title of
Ravensworth. I have every reason to believe that he caused the death of his
brother: I have equally good grounds for suspecting him of an intention to
murder his nephew. As speedily as circumstances will permit am I adopting
measures to collect evidence that will place his guilt beyond all doubt. But
until that evidence be obtained, we must excite in his mind no suspicion that
there are counter-schemes in progress. Were we to do so, it is impossible to
imagine what desperate deed he might immediately risk in furtherance of his
"But suspicions are already so strong against him,
madam," observed Quentin "that a magistrate would grant a warrant for
"And if the evidence against him were found so be
incomplete and vague, as it, indeed now is," an-[-328-]swered
Eliza, "he would soon be at large again to pursue his detestable
machinations. No, Quentin your good sense must show you that it is better to
take no decisive step until our evidence shall be so complete that it will serve
two objects — namely, to punish him for the crime he has already
committed, and thereby release your lady and her son from any future danger at
"I submit to your superior judgment, madam,"
said Quentin. "But in respect to this Anthony Tidkins — this
James White — this villain who is now quartered upon us — "
"Until you ere now communicated to me those strange
and horrifying incidents of last night," interrupted Eliza, "my
intention was to leave that miscreant also unmolested, for fear that by handing
him over to justice Gilbert Vernon might be led to perceive that he also was
suspected. But the narrative of last night's adventure involves so serious a
matter that I am for a moment at a loss what course to pursue. In any case it
will be better to ascertain the nature of the object which the villain buried at
the foot of the tree; and probably we shall thereby discover some clue to the
elucidation if this mystery. In the meantime, I conjure you to keep your lips
sealed in respect to all these topics of fearful interest. Lady Ravensworth is
in so nervous and agitated a state, that I shall not acquaint her with the
incidents of which you were last night a spectator, until she be better able to
support the terrors of so frightful a narrative. But to-night, Quentin, you must
visit the spot where the villain buried some object in the earth: you will
ascertain what that object is; — and we will then decide upon the
proper course which we ought to pursue."
Quentin could not help admiring the strength of mind,
the sagacity, and the calmness which Eliza Sydney displayed in her self-imposed
task of counter-mining the dark plots of the Honourable Gilbert Vernon. Though
but a servant, he was himself shrewd, intelligent, and well-informed; and he was
not one of those obstinate men who refuse to acknowledge to themselves the
superiority of a female mind, where such superiority really exists. He
accordingly expressed his readiness to follow Eliza's counsel in all things
connected with their present business; and he also promised that he would not by
his conduct towards Tidkins excite in that individual's mind any idea that he
was known or suspected.
He and Eliza Sydney then separated.
We must pause for a moment to explain the system of
argument upon which this lady's present proceedings were based.
"If," she said to herself, "Tidkins be
delivered up to justice, it is possible that he will not turn upon his employer
Vernon, who might readily account for having such a villain in his service by
declaring that he was entirely ignorant of his true character when he engaged
him as a valet. Again, were Vernon immediately accused of the murder of his
brother, the evidence would be slight unless it were proved not only that the
tobacco was really poisoned, but also that it was the same which Vernon had sent
to Lord Ravensworth. For the only positive ground of suspicion which can as yet
be adduced against him, is that he has been some time in England while he
represented himself to have been still dwelling in the East. But this
circumstance might be disposed of by some feasible excuse on his part, and would
also be inefficient unless coupled with more conclusive evidence. In a month I
shall probably be able to collect all the testimony I require; and it is not
likely that Vernon will immediately attempt the life of the infant heir, as such
a deed following so closely upon the death of the late lord would of itself
afford matter of serious inquiry and arouse suspicions against him. It is
therefore necessary to remain tranquil for the present, until the day arrives
when the machinations of Gilbert Vernon may be crushed for ever by the same blow
that shall punish him for his past crimes!"
Hall was now the scene of plot and counter-plot, — of fears,
suspicions, and a variety of conflicting passions.
While Quentin and Eliza Sydney were engaged in the
conversation above related, the following discourse took place between the
Resurrection Man and Gilbert Vernon in the bed-chamber of the latter.
"I don't think I shall relish this monotonous kind
of life long," said Tidkins. "Bustle and activity are what I like.
Besides, I can't say that I'm altogether without fears; for that description of
my person which was published after my escape from Coldbath Fields, was so
infernally correct that even this white neck-cloth, and brand new suit of black,
and the cropping of my hair, and so on, haven't changed me enough to make all
"Nonsense!" exclaimed Vernon, impatiently
"Who would think of looking for you at Ravensworth Hall? who would suspect
that the valet of one in my station is what he really is?"
"But where is the use of putting the thing off for
a month or six weeks?" asked Tidkins.
"Because it would appear strange-too strange that
such an event should occur only a few days after my arrival at the Hall,"
answered Vernon. "You must be guided by me in this respect. The scheme to
get rid of the brat is your own — and a good one it is too. Nothing
could be better. But you really must allow me to have my own way as to the time
when it is to be put into execution."
"Well, well," growled Tidkins: "be it so.
For my part, however, I don't see how it is to be put into execution at all, if
Lady Ravensworth remains cooped up with the brat in her own room, as she did all
yesterday, and seems disposed to do again to-day, by what the servants said at
breakfast just now."
"That certainly embarrasses me," observed
Vernon. "It was my intention, as I before in formed you, to remain here for
a few weeks and ingratiate myself as much as possible with my sister-in-law, and
get into the habit of fondling the child. Faugh! it almost makes me sick to
think that I must take the snivelling brat from its nurse, and dandle it about
for half-an-hour at a time, so as to save appearances at least. But, as you say,
Lady Ravensworth seems determined that I shall have no chance of playing the
amiable at all; for she keeps her room with that widow friend of hers who came
so cursed inopportunely. It cannot be that Adeline suspects me! And yet the
strange way in which she received me-the impression my voice made upon her — "
proves that she really was concealed in those ruins, for some purpose or
another, when we met there," interrupted the Resurrection Man.
But I am convinced that nothing which then passed
between us, gave her any hint concerning our projects," said Vernon;
"for when I denied that it was my voice which she had heard, she afterwards
became convinced that the more coincidence of a resemblance of tones had
deceived her. Had any other circumstance tended to corroborate her first
impression, she would not have hesitated to mention it. But to return to what we
were ere now talking of. If my sister-in-law should persist in keeping her own
chamber, I shall request an interview with her; and the result will teach me how
"And suppose she really is afraid of you, — suppose
she suddenly leaves the Hall, and proceeds to town, — or suppose she
sends for her friends and relations to keep her company here," exclaimed
Tidkins; "how will you act then?"
"She will not quit the Hall," replied Vernon.
"Decency compels her to live in retirement at the country-sat during the
first few months of her widowhood; and Lord and Lady Rossville, her parents, are
kept in London by the parliamentary duties of his lordship."
"I think I know a way to make her leave her
room," said Tidkins, with some little hesitation, and after a few moments'
"You!" cried Vernon, turning shortly round,
and surveying his ill-favoured accomplice with astonishment.
"Yes — me," answered the
Resurrection Man, coolly. "If I could only speak to her alone for a few
minutes, I'm very much mistaken if I can't do what I say."
"Impossible — ridiculous!"
"I say that it's neither impossible or
ridiculous," rejoined Tidkins, angrily.
"But how will you manage it? what will you say to
her?" demanded Vernon, more and more surprised; for he knew that the
Resurrection Man was not accustomed to boast without the power of performing.
"All that is my own secret," answered Tidkins.
"If you question me from now till the end of next month, I won't satisfy
you. That's my rule — and [-330-] I
always act on it. Now, all I have to say is that if you will procure me a
private meeting with your sister-in-law, I'll engage that she shall leave her
room — unless she really is very ill — and take her seat
at the dinner-table to-day."
"But this is so extraordinary," cried Vernon,
"that unless you know something wherewith to over-awe her — and
let me tell you that she is not a woman to be frightened by empty menace — "
"Leave all that to me, Mr. Vernon," said the
Resurrection Man, coolly. "Accept my proposal, or refuse it, as you
like; — but don't question me."
"You are really a wonderful man, Tidkins,"
observed Gilbert, slowly; "and you are not in the habit of talking for
talking's sake. If you feel convinced that you will succeed — if you
do not incur the risk of spoiling all — "
"I am not such a fool as that," interrupted
the other, gruffly.
"Then I will endeavour to bring about the interview
which you desire," said Vernon.
And, without farther hesitation — though not
entirely without misgiving — he sate down to pen a brief note to his
sister-in-law, requesting an interview at her leisure.
An hour afterwards Lady Ravensworth proceeded alone to one of the drawing-rooms.
Eliza Sydney had offered no objection to this interview
which Mr. Vernon had demanded with his sister-in-law: on the contrary, she was
afraid that his suspicions would be excited were it refused.
On her part, Adeline was far from feeling annoyed at the
request contained in Vernon's letter; for she had been a prey to the most acute
suspense ever since she had recognised the Resurrection Man in her
Her guilty conscience led her at one moment to believe
that Tidkins was certain to discover that Ravensworth Hall was the scene of the
mysterious murder in which he was her instrument; and at another time she
persuaded herself that her plans had been too prudently adopted to admit of such
"Oh! if that dreadful man should obtain a clue to
the real truth," she thought, as she repaired to the sewing-room, "how
completely should I be in his power! Nay, more — he might
communicate his discovery to Vernon; and then — but I cannot dwell
upon so terrible an idea! My God! in what torture do I exist! O Lydia
Hutchinson, thy vengeance pursues me even from the other world! And now I am
about to meet my brother-in-law again! Well — it is better that this
interview should take place at once. It must relieve me from much terrible
uncertainty — much agonising suspense. If Tidkins have already
discovered the dread secret, I shall know the worst now; — and
if he have not already discovered it, there is but little chance that he ever
will. Let me then summon all my courage to my aid: a few minutes more, and my
fate must be decided! Either I shall find myself in the power of Vernon and that
horrible man; or my secret is safe! And if it be still safe-safe it shall
remain; — for he could only recognise me by my voice — and
I will take care never to speak in his presence! No — no:
sooner than incur the risk of thus betraying my secret. I will shut myself up
for ever in my own apartment — or I will fly far away from this
house which has so many fearful recollections for me!"
Thus musing, Lady Ravensworth entered the drawing-room.
Her countenance was almost as white as marble; and this
pallor was enhanced by the widow's weeds which she wore.
We must here observe that there was, as is usual in the
well-furnished rooms of the mansions of the rich, a screen in one corner of the
apartment; and on the same side were large folding-doors opening into an
ante-chamber, which communicated with the passage and also with the suite of
saloons intended for grand occasions.
The moment Adeline entered the apartment, Gilbert
Vernon, who was already there, rose from a sofa and hastened to meet her.
"My dear sister," he said, taking her hand
with an air of great friendship, "I was truly sorry to hear that you wore
so indisposed yesterday as to be compelled to keep your chamber. May I hope that
you are better to-day?"
"I am very far from well, Mr. Vernon,"
answered Adeline coldly, as she withdrew her hand somewhat hastily; for, deeply
steeped in guilt as she herself was, she shrank from the touch of one whom she
looked upon as the murderer of her husband and the deadly foe of her infant
"You seem to avoid me purposely, Adeline,"
said Gilbert, fixing his large grey eyes upon her in a searching manner, though
she averted her looks from him: "have I offended you? or is my presence in
this house irksome to you?"
"I must candidly confess," replied Lady
Ravensworth, "that I remained at the Hall, after the sad loss which I
lately sustained, with a view to avoid society — to dwell in
retirement; — and neither decency nor my own inclination allow me to
receive company with any degree of pleasure."
"Your ladyship, then, looks upon the brother of
your late husband as a stranger — a mere guest?" said Vernon,
biting his lip. "And yet you have no relative who is more anxious to serve
you — more ready to become your true friend — "
"My lamented husband left his affairs in such
position as to preclude the necessity of any intervention save on the part of
the trustees," observed Adeline, gathering courage when she perceived that
her brother-in-law was rather inclined to conciliate than to menace.
"Then, if such be your sentiments, Adeline,"
said Gilbert, "I need intrude upon your presence no longer."
Thus speaking, he hastily retreated from the room
through the same door by which Lady Ravensworth had entered it.
"My secret is safe!" murmured Adeline,
clasping her hands joyfully together, the moment Vernon had disappeared; — and
she also was about to quit the apartment, when the screen was suddenly thrown
She cast a glance of apprehension towards the spot
whence the noise had emanated; and an ejaculation of horror escaped her lips.
The Resurrection Man stood before her!
"Don't be frightened, my lady," said Tidkins,
advancing towards her with a smirking smile on hit cadaverous countenance:
"I shan't eat you!"
"Wretch! what means this intrusion?" cried
Adeline, in a feigned voice, and endeavouring to [-331-]
subdue her terror so as ward off, if possible, the danger which now menaced her.
"Lord, ma'am, don't be angry with me for just
presenting my obscure self to your notice," said Tidkins, with a horrible
chuckle. "You can't pretend not to know me, after all that's taken place
"Know you! — I know only that you are
Mr. Vernon's valet, and that he shall chastise you for this insolence,"
cried Adeline, astonished at her own effrontery: but her case was so truly
"I always thought you was the cleverest woman I
ever came near," said the Resurrection Man; "but I also pride myself
on being as sharp a fellow as here and there one. If I was on the rack I could
swear to your voice although it is feigned, and though when you came to my crib
you kept your face out of sight. But your voice — your height — your
manner, — everything convinces me that I and Lady Ravensworth are
"You are mistaken, sir — grossly
mistaken," cried Adeline, almost wildly. "I do not know you — I
never saw you before you set foot in this house the other night."
"And then you recognised me so well that you
fainted on the stairs," returned Tidkins, maliciously. "But if you
think to put me off with denials like this, I can soon show you the contrary;
for, though I was blindfolded when you brought me to the Hall on a certain night
in the middle of February last, I am not quite such a fool as to have forgot the
gardens we passed through — the little door leading to the private
staircase at the south end of the building — and the very position
of the room where the mischief was done. Why, bless you, ma'am, I began to
suspect all about it the very first hear I was in this house, when the servants
got talking of a certain Lydia Hutchinson who disappeared just about that
"You are speaking of matters wholly
incomprehensible to me," said Lady Ravensworth, whose tone and countenance,
however, strangely belied the words which she uttered. "It is true that a
servant of mine, named Lydia Hutchinson, decamped in the month of February last;
and if you know any thing concerning her — "
"By Satan!" cried the Resurrection Man,
stamping his foot with impatience; "this is too much! Do you pretend that
it was not Lydia Hutchinson whom you hired me to throttle in your own
"Monster!" screamed Adeline, starting from her
seat, and speaking in her proper tone, being now completely thrown off her
guard: "of what would you accuse me?"
And her countenance, which expressed all the worst and
most furious passions of her soul, contrasted strangely with her garb of
"Of nothing more than I accuse myself,"
answered the Resurrection Man, brutally. "But if you want any other proof
of what I say, come along with me, and I'll show you the very pond in which the
body of Lydia Hutchinson is rotting. Ah! I found out that too, during my rambles
Adeline's cheeks were flushed with rage when he began to
answer her last question; but as he went on, all the colour forsook them; and,
pale — pale as a corpse, she fell back again upon the sofa.
"There! I knew I should bring it home to you,"
said the Resurrection Man, coolly surveying the condition to which he had
reduced the guilty woman. "But don't be frightened — I'm not
going to blab, for my own sake. I haven't even told your brother-in-law about
this business. Tony Tidkins never betrays his employers."
Lady Ravensworth cast a rapid glance at his countenance
as he uttered these words; and catching at the assurance which they conveyed,
she said in a low and hollow tone, "You have not really acquainted Mr.
Vernon with all this?"
"Not a syllable of it!" cried Tidkins.
"Why should I! he wouldn't pay me the more for betraying you!"
"Then how came you here during my interview with
him?" demanded Adeline, almost suffocated by painful emotions. "Was he
not privy to your presence?"
"He was, my lady," answered Tidkins, in a less
familiar tone than before: "but for all that, he doesn't know what business
I had with your ladyship."
"This is false-you are deceiving me!"
exclaimed Adeline, with hysterical impatience.
"Not a whit of it, ma'am: I'm too independent to
deceive any body," rejoined the Resurrection Man. "In plain terms,
your brother-in-law has taken a fancy to this place, and means to stay here for
a few weeks."
"He is very kind! " said Adeline, bitterly.
"But he doesn't like sitting down to breakfast and
dinner by himself, and to lounge about in the drawing-room without soul to speak
to," continued the Resurrection Man; "for a petticoat is the natural
ornament of a drawing-room. So what he wants is a little more of your society;
and as he didn't exactly know how to obtain his wishes in this respect, I
offered to use my interest with your ladyship."
"Your interest!" repeated Lady
"Yes, ma'am — and that can't be small
either," returned Tidkins, with a leer. "Now all you have to do is to
show yourself more in the drawing and dining-rooms — and on my part
I engage not to breathe a word of the Lydia Hutchinson affair to Mr.
"And can you for a moment think that I shall submit
to be dictated to in this manner?" cried Adeline, again becoming flushed
"I do indeed think it, ma'am," answered
Tidkins, coolly; "and what is more, I mean it, too — or, as
sure as you're there, I'll drag up the body of Lydia Hutchinson, as I did last
"O heavens!" shrieked Adeline: "what do
"I mean, my lady, that when I heard the servants
talking about the loss of your jewel-casket, I began to suspect that you had
sacrificed it to create an idea that Lydia Hutchinson had bolted with it,"
answered Tidkins: "and I thought it just probable that I should find it in
the pond. So last night I fished up the dead body — "
"Enough! enough! " cried Adeline, wildly:
"Oh! this is too much! — you will drive me mad!"
"Not a bit of it, ma'am," returned Tidkins.
"A clever and strong-minded lady like you shouldn't give way in this
manner. All I wanted was the casket and-"
what?" said Adeline, speaking in a tone as if she were suffocating.
"And I got it," was the answer. "But I
rolled the body back again into the pond; and there it'll stay — unless
you force me to drag it up once more, and bring it to the Hall."
"No: never — never!" screamed Lady
Ravensworth. "Were you to perpetrate such a horrible deed, I would die that
moment-I would stab myself to the heart — or I would leap from this
window on the stones beneath! Beware, dreadful man-or you will drive me mad! But
if you require gold — if you need money, speak: let me purchase your
immediate departure from this house."
"That does not suit my book, ma'am," answered
Tidkins. "Here I must remain while it suits the pleasure of my
master," he added, with a low chuckling laugh.
"And what business keeps your master here? what
wickedness does he meditate? why does he force his presence upon me?" cried
"I don't know any thing about that," answered
the Resurrection Man. "All I have to say can be summed up in a word: leave
your own chamber and act as becomes the mistress of the house. Preside at your
own table — this very day too; — or, by Satan! ma'am,
I'll take a stroll by the pond in the evening, and then run back to the Hall
with a cry that I have seen a human hand appear above the surface!"
Having thus expressed his appalling menaces, the
Resurrection Man hurried from the apartment.
Lady Ravensworth pressed her hands to her brow,
murmuring, "O heavens! I shall go mad — I shall go mad!"
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