chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
LONDON [Vol. II]
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evening was serene and beautiful.
A few thin vapours floated lazily through the blue arch,
the hue of which was deliciously mellowed by the golden light of the sun.
It was about seven o'clock; and the principal inmates of
Ravensworth Hall were collected in the drawing-room.
Adeline, pale, emaciated, and careworn, was reclining
upon the sofa; and near her sate Eliza Sydney.
The nurse was walking up and down the apartment, with
the infant heir in her arms.
Gilbert Vernon was standing outside the window, on a
spacious balcony, around which were placed green wooden boxes and garden-pots
containing shrubs and early flowers.
"The evening is very beautiful," said Eliza,
in a low tone, to Adeline: "will you not walk with me through the Park? The
nurse shall accompany us [-340-] and the child can
be well wrapped up. But, indeed, there are no dangers to fear — for
the earth is parched with the heat of the day."
"I feel incapable of any energy," answered
Adeline, mournfully — very mournfully. "Never have my spirits
been so depressed as they are this evening. Methinks that a presentiment of evil
near at hand, weighs upon my soul. Oh! when will this dread state of suspense
terminate! For five long weeks has it now lasted — "
"Hush! lady — speak lower!"
interrupted Eliza. "Mr. Vernon might suddenly enter from the balcony."
"Ah! my dear friend," returned Adeline;
"do I not suffer a fearful penalty for my crimes? But human nature cannot
endure this doubt — this appalling uncertainty any longer! What does
he mean? what can be his plans?"
"Would that we were indeed able to read them!"
said Eliza, earnestly. "But the term of this strange drama must speedily
arrive," she continued, sinking her voice to a scarcely audible whisper, as
she leant over the unhappy lady whom she thus addressed.
"Vernon does not remain here from motives of
pleasure: he has not abandoned his projects."
"Yet wherefore should he appear so affectionate
towards the child?" asked Adeline. "When he first took my sweet
Ferdinand in his arms, oh! how I trembled lest he should strangle him in his
embrace; and had not a look from you reassured me, I should have shrieked with
terror! But now I scarcely entertain a fear when I see my brother-in-law fondle
my child. Tell me, dear friend — how must I account for this altered
state of feelings?"
"Habit has taught you to subdue your alarms in this
respect," replied Eliza Sydney. "Your brother-in-law has gradually
devoted more and more of his attention to your dear Ferdinand; and as he never
seeks to take him — nor even to approach him — save with
your consent, you are to some extent thrown off your guard. Then, as a mother,
you are naturally inclined to think better of that man since he has thus seemed
to manifest an affection for his nephew. But, be not deceived, lady — his
soul is deep and designing! Think you that he cares for a babe not yet ten weeks
old? Oh! no — it is not probable! And when he talks in a
hypocritical tone of his lamented brother's child — and expresses
those apparently earnest hopes that the heir of Ravensworth may eventually prove
an honour to the noble house to which he belongs, and to the ancient name which
he bears, — Ah! be not deceived by him, lady — I implore
you: he means nothing that is good — he is playing a part, the true
object of which I cannot fathom!"
"Oh! think not that I am deceived by him, dear
friend," answered Lady Ravensworth: "think not that my suspicions
relative to him are hushed. No — no: else wherefore should I
complain of this cruel suspense? There are times, indeed, when I could throw
myself at his feet — implore him to quit these walls — and
beg upon my knees for mercy towards my child! Does this show that I have
forgotten all those circumstances which have led us to look upon him with an
abhorrence that we have alike had so much difficulty to conceal?"
"I am aware of all you must suffer," answered
Eliza, with a profound sigh; for she pitied — deeply pitied the
wretched but criminal woman: "still it is for your child's sake that I have
tutored you to play this game of hypocrisy, — that I have induced
you and compelled myself to endure the society of one who is loathsome to us
both, — and that we have even condescended to veil beneath smiles
our consciousness of his character and atrocious designs. This has been the sum
of our hypocrisy; — and how venial it is! And now that all my plans
are so nearly matured — with the exception of the return of my
messenger from Beyrout — "
"And on his return?" said Adeline, anxiously.
"Have I not assured you that the moment which
places in my hands the conclusive proofs of Vernon's guilt — the
only link wanting to complete the chain — "
Eliza Sydney was suddenly interrupted by an exclamation
which came from the lips of Gilbert Vernon.
She rose, and hastened to the window.
"Here is a troop of poor fellows who doubtless
endeavour to earn an honest penny by their agility and skill," said Vernon;
"and in a country where mendicity is a crime, even such a livelihood as
theirs is honourably gained."
Had not Eliza Sydney's curiosity been at the moment
attracted by the strange appearance of the corps of mountebanks to whom Vernon
alluded, and who were advancing towards the Hall, she would have been struck
with surprise at the emanation of such generous sentiments from so cold-hearted,
austere, and aristocratic a person as he.
But her attention was for the time directed towards six
persons, five of whom were clad in the light grotesque manner in which
mountebank8 appear at country-fairs, and even not unfrequently in the streets of
London. They wore flesh-coloured stockings, nankin breeches, and jackets of
variegated colours, as if, in respect to this latter article of their apparel,
they attempted to vie with the peculiar costume of world-renowned Harlequin. The
sixth was dressed in a common garb, and wore a hideous mask.
One of the jugglers carried an enormous drum slung
behind his back, and had a set of Pandean pipes tucked in his neckcloth beneath
his chin; and another was laden with a wicker-basket. The man who was dressed in
the common garb and wore the mask, bore a long rod wish a net twisted round it
upon his shoulder. A fourth carried two stout stakes; and the remaining two were
empty-handed, although it was evident by their dress that they took no small
share in the performances which itinerant mountebanks and conjurors of this kind
are in the habit of exhibiting.
We must observe, in respect to the man who wore the
mask, and who, as the reader already knows, was the gipsy Morcar, that beneath
his ample straw hat, and over the edges of the mask, projected huge bushes of
reddish-yellow hair, which seemed as if they had once belonged to a door-mat. He
walked, a little apart from the others, in company with the man who carried the
"These conjurors evidently contemplate an
exhibition upon the lawn before the windows," said Eliza Sydney, as the men
drew nearer to the house. "I will send them out some money and request them
to retire, as such performances are not suitable to a spot where mourning is
still worn for the deceased lord."
"That were a pity, Mrs. Beaufort," returned
Vernon. "These poor creatures have their little feel-[-341-]ings
as well as performers on the boards of our national theatres; and I am sure you
possess too good a heart to wound them. No — let them remain; and if
you can induce her ladyship to witness their sports from the balcony, she might
be cheered for the moment."
"I should be sorry to wound the feelings of any
living being who did not injure me," answered Eliza: "but — "
"Nay, my dear Mrs. Beaufort," interrupted
Vernon, "do not refuse me this request. You cannot think that I am boy
enough to care for the tricks of these jugglers; but I am well aware — setting
aside any consideration on their behalf — that the most trivial and
frivolous amusement will often produce a favourable impression upon the spirits.
Let Lady Ravensworth come to the window."
Eliza scarcely knew how to offer any farther objection:
she was, however, about to make some remark in answer to Mr. Vernon, when the
point at issue was settled by that gentleman beckoning the foremost mountebank
to advance under the window.
"Now, my good fellow," he exclaimed, looking
over the parapet of the balcony, and tossing the man a sovereign, "let us
see how well you can amuse us."
"Thank'ee, sir," cried the man, receiving the
money in his straw-hat "We'll do our best, you may depend upon it,
He then returned to his companions, who had stationed
themselves at a short distance on the lawn.
The mountebanks forthwith commenced their preparations.
The wicker-basket was placed upon the ground; and its
contents were speedily disposed in a manner to suit the performances. A long
rope was tied to two trees of about twenty yards' distance from each other: some
common blue plates and a wash-hand basin were laid upon the grass; and then a
number of small yellow balls were ranged in a line, and at short intervals
apart, across the lawn.
While some of the men were making these arrangements,
Morcar and his companion advanced to within a short distance of the balcony, and
drove the two stakes firmly into the ground. To the tops of these stakes they
fastened the ends of the iron rod, without however unrolling the net, but in
such a manner that the rod itself would revolve with ease, and the entire net
might be drawn out in a moment. They then took their posts each by one of the
stakes, and there remained motionless.
In the meantime the man with the drum and the
mouth-organ had commenced his instrumental harmony, such as it was; and, at the
sound, the servants of the Hall flocked from their offices to the steps of the
entrance, well pleased to observe that the monotony of their existence in a
dwelling where no company was now received, was about to be broken by even the
performances of a few wandering mountebanks.
In the drawing-room, Vernon was still stationed at the
balcony; and the nurse, holding the sleeping child in her arms, had approached
the open window outside of which Vernon was thus standing.
Eliza Sydney had returned to the side of Lady
Ravensworth, to whom she mentioned the presence of the mountebanks and the
encouragement which they had received from Mr. Vernon.
"Does he suppose that my spirits can possibly be
elevated by a buffoonery of this nature?" said Adeline, her lip curling
with contemptuous hauteur. "Besides, such a proceeding is most
indecent — most indelicate — on the very spot where a
funeral so lately passed!"
"And yet it suits not our present purpose to anger
him," returned Eliza.
Lady Ravensworth was about to reply, when Quentin
entered the room and placed a letter in Eliza's hands.
The valet then withdrew.
Eliza immediately recognised the writing of the faithful
Filippo, and opened it in haste.
Her countenance evinced signs of satisfaction as she
perused its contents; but ere she reached the end, she sighed deeply.
"You have evil tidings there," whispered Lady
Ravensworth, who had attentively watched her friend's countenance. "And
yet, methought you smiled at first."
"I smiled," answered Eliza, also in a low
tone, "because I was rejoiced to find that the only link wanting to
complete the chain of evidence against that villain" — glancing
towards the window as she thus spoke — "is now complete; — and
to-morrow — "
"Ah! your messenger is returned from Beyrout?"
said Adeline, joyfully. "Then wherefore seem sorrowful?"
"Because the tidings which I now receive confirms
the terrible suspicion that your husband was indeed murdered, — coldly — systematically — methodically
murdered, — by his own brother!" answered Eliza. "Alas!
for the honour of human nature that such things should be!"
Adeline became red as scarlet, and a profound sigh
escaped her bosom; — for was she not also a disgrace to human
Eliza forgot at the moment that her words were
calculated to wound the already deeply lacerated heart of Lady Ravensworth; — else
not for a moment — criminal as Adeline was — would those
words have escaped her tongue.
Neither did she perceive the acute emotions which she
had awakened; for she was intent upon the reflections excited by the arrival of
In the meantime the sports upon the lawn had commenced.
One of the mountebanks ascended to the tightrope, and
performed many curious evolutions, much to the amusement not only of the
servants assembled upon the steps at the entrance, but even of the nurse at the
When the dancing was over, a second juggler balanced
first a blue plate, and then the basin, on the point of a long stick — making
them spin rapidly round, to the especial delight of the female servants. The
nurse, too, was so very much amused that she crossed the threshold of the
window, and advanced a little upon the balcony, the better to view the
Vernon seemed intent upon the sports, and did not appear
to notice that the ladies were not spectators also. But perhaps he might have
thought that they were at another window.
And all this while Morcar, with his mask and bushy
yellow hair, and his assistant Mike, were stationed each by one of the stakes to
which the net was fixed.
From time to time Vernon had looked over the [-342-]
balcony at these two men, whose presence there seemed somewhat to annoy him: and
when the exhibition of the plates and basin was over, he leant forward,
exclaiming, "Well, my good fellow, when does your turn come? and what are
you going to do with that iron pole and net?"
"You shall see presently, sir," replied Morcar
"It will be the best trick of the whole — as I know you'll
"It is all right," thought Vernon to himself
"These fellows know not the motive for which they were hired; and therefore
the fact of their placing the net there can only be a coincidence. However it is
far enough away from the flag-stones to suit my purpose."
Such were the rapid reflections which passed through
And had searching eyes been fixed upon his countenance
now, they would have observed that although he seemed to watch the sports with a
zest passing strange in a man of his years, there were far more important
matters agitating in his brain; — for his face was pale — his
lips quivered from time to time — and, even while his head remained
stationary as if he were looking straight towards the lawn, his eyes were wild
Amidst the servants on the steps of the entrance stood
the Resurrection Man, apparently one of the most enthusiastic admirers of time
sport. But he — as well as his employer in the balcony — was
some what annoyed when he beheld the iron rod and the net which was rolled round
it, placed upon the stakes on the verge of the lawn almost beneath the open
window of the drawing-room. Another circumstance likewise engaged his attention.
This was that he had only seen five jugglers when he had first hired them for
the performances; whereas there were now six present. He, however, consoled
himself with the idea that the man in the mask and his companion had taken their
station so near the balcony, simply because their exhibition, whatever it was,
should be better viewed by the inmates of the drawing-room; and relative to the
presence of the sixth juggler, he said to himself upon second thoughts,
"Well, after all, the troop might have been joined by another comrade since
I saw them last night."
But to continue the thread of our narrative.
The last beams of the setting sun were flickering
faintly in the western horizon, when the jugglers commenced what may be termed
the third act of their performances — namely, the athletic
exercises. They had wrestling matches, took extraordinary leaps, and performed
various other feats of strength and skill. These being over, one of the band
threw himself back, supporting himself with his hands on the ground, and in this
position ran on all fours along the line of yellow balls, picking them up with
his mouth, one after the other, with astonishing rapidity.
This feat elicited a burst of applause from the servants
on the steps; and the nurse, still holding the child in her arms, advanced close
up to the parapet of the balcony.
The sun had already set when that last feat began: the
twilight was, however, sufficiently strong to permit the spectators to obtain a
good view of the performance. But the jugglers now paused for a few minutes to
rest themselves; and during that interval the duskiness sensibly increased.
"I wonder what these men are going to do with their
iron pole and net," observed Vernon. "Surely their turn must have come
The nurse looked over the parapet to see whether the man
in the mask and his companion were still stationed near their apparatus, the use
of which puzzled her amazingly.
At that moment two of the jugglers who had advanced from
the lawn towards the flag-stones that skirted the wall of the mansion, threw
each a detonating-ball upon the pavement.
The explosion was loud — abrupt — startling;
and a volume of dense smoke instantly burst as it were from the ground,
enveloping the balcony, and pouring even into the drawing-room through the open
And, almost at the same instant that the explosion took
place, a terrible scream pierced the air; and this was followed by agonising
shrieks, mingled with frantic cries of" The child! the child!"
"Merciful heavens!" ejaculated Eliza Sydney
rushing from her seat near Lady Adeline to the window.
But she was met by the nurse, who darted in from the
balcony, clasping her hands together, and still screaming wildly — "
The child! the child!"
"Holy God!" cried Vernon, also rushing into
the room: "the infant has fallen over! Oh! my nephew — my dear
And he sank upon a chair, as if overcome by his grief.
"Murderer! — vile — detestable
assassin!" exclaimed Eliza Sydney: "this was no accident!"
"Madam," cried Vernon, starting from his seat,
"recall those words — or I will not answer for my
"No — I dare you — monster,
murderer that you are!" ejaculated Eliza, as she forced the nurse, who was
raving violently, to a sofa.
At that moment shouts of delight were heard from below;
and loud cries of "Saved! saved!" reached all the inmates of the
drawing-room — save Lady Ravensworth, who had fainted the instant
the first wild scream of the nurse had struck her ears like a death-omen.
"Saved! saved!" repeated the nurse, catching
at the joyous sound, and now becoming hysterical with the effects of the
revulsion of emotions thereby produced.
"Oh! if it be indeed true!" cried Ehl.za
Sydney, darting towards the balcony; but it was now too dark to distinguish any
thing that was passing below.
Her suspense did not, however, endure many moments
longer; for the door of the drawing-room was suddenly thrown open, and the man
in the mask rushed in, crying "Saved! saved!"
Eliza Sydney hastened to meet him, and received the
child in her arms.
The little innocent was indeed unhurt, to all
appearance, but was crying bitterly.
"Thank God! thank God!" exclaimed Eliza,
fervently, as she pressed the child to her bosom.
Quentin now made his appearance with lights, and several
of the servants had followed him as far as the door of the room.
"Call the lady's-maid, Quentin, for your
mistress," said Eliza, hastily: "she has fainted! Bring water — vinegar — perfume;
I dare not part with the child"'
The lady's-maid was close by; and, hastening into [-343-]
the room, she devoted the necessary attentions to Adeline, who, soon recovering,
opened her eyes, gazed wildly around, and then exclaimed in a frantic tone,
"My child! my child!"
"He is safe — he is unharmed, dear
lady, said Eliza Sydney, advancing towards the sofa with the babe in her arms.
"Give him to me — to me only, — for
I am his mother — and I will protect him!" cried Adeline in a
shrieking tone then, receiving the infant from her friend, she clasped it with
frantic fondness to her bosom.
In the meantime- — although this scene
occupied but a few minutes — Gilbert Vernon had sunk upon a chair,
like one intoxicated. A film came over his eyes — his brain
reeled — and he could not accurately distinguish what was passing
around him. Amidst the sudden chaos into which his ideas were plunged, one
thought was alone clear — defined — and unobscured; and
this was that the child was saved!
The moment Eliza Sidney had consigned the heir of
Ravensworth to the arms of his mother, she said in a hasty whisper to Quentin,
"Secure Anthony Tidkins without delay, and order the carriage
The valet quitted the room; and Eliza then advanced
towards Gilbert Vernon, exclaiming in a loud tone, "Arrest this
villain — hold him — keep him safely, till the officers
of justice can be sent for. He murdered his brother; and ere now he has sought
to murder that innocent babe!"
As these words, uttered with terrible emphasis fell upon
the ears of the servants, a cry of horror and execration burst from their lips;
and Vernon starting up, exclaimed, "Who accuses me? Wretches — you
dare not say that I did such deeds?"
But the next moment he was pinioned by a pair of
powerful arms; for Morcar, who had hastily thrown off his mask and wig, was
prepared to secure the guilty man.
"Release me, villain!" cried Vernon,
struggling furiously — but without avail; for some of the male
domestics of the household now assisted the gipsy to retain him. "You shall
suffer, for this outrage — you shall pay dearly for your conduct!
Who dares accuse me of an attempt on that child's life?"
"I!" answered Eliza Sydney, boldly.
"And I also!" echoed Morcar.
"Yes — and I too, murderous
wretch!" exclaimed the nurse, stepping forward.
"This is absurd — ridiculous!"
cried Vernon ceasing to struggle, and sinking back into the chair "You all
know how I loved my nephew — how I fondled the dear infant; and you
cannot — no you cannot suppose — "
"I recollect it all now!" ejaculated the
nurse, vehemently. "The sudden explosion of those fireworks frightened me
dreadfully, and I loosened my hold upon the child: but — if I was
standing before my God, I could declare with truth that the babe was at that
very same moment pushed from my arms! — Oh! yes — I
remember it all now!"
A second burst of indignation on the part of the
servants struck terror to the heart of the guilty wretch, who writhed upon his
chair; while the workings of his ashy pale countenance — the
convulsive movements of his lips — and the wild rolling of his eyes,
were terrible — terrible!
Nevertheless he mustered up courage sufficient to
exclaim, "That woman speaks falsely! She dropped the child — and
she would throw the blame on me!"
"She speaks truly, — vile — black-hearted
man!" cried Eliza. "And now, learn that the sole object of my presence
in this mansion has been to frustrate your diabolical plots, which for weeks
have been known to me!"
"You!" said Vernon, quailing beneath the
indignant glance of abhorrence which the royal widow fixed upon him.
"Yes," she continued "not only have I
remained here to frustrate your plots — which, alas! would have
succeeded in destroying the child, had not some strange accident, as yet
unaccounted for, at least to me, saved the innocent babe from being dashed to
pieces against the stones beneath the balcony; — but I have also
adopted those measures which will bring all your guilt most terribly home to
you! Treacherous — infamous man, I denounce you as the murderer of
"'Tis false — false as hell!"
"It is, alas! too true," returned Eliza.
"I have damning proofs against you!"
"Again I declare it is false!" said Gilbert,
"Let us see," resumed Eliza. "You profess
to have arrived from the East a few weeks ago; and you have been in England
since December or January last! Lady Ravensworth heard your voice in the ruined
lodge — "
"Ridiculous! — a mere coincidence — a
false impression!" exclaimed Vernon.
"And your landlady in Stamford Street can prove
that you lodged with her for several months," added Eliza.
"Monster!" ejaculated one of the servants who
had hold upon him.
"All this proves nothing," cried Vernon,
"But the tobacco which you sent your brother was
poisoned," said Eliza, with bitter emphasis.
"'Tis false! It has been submitted to tests: the
surgeon who attended my brother had it analysed. All the inmates of the
household can speak to this fact."
"And I also have had it analysed," returned
Eliza; "and by a native of the East! Fire alone can develope its poisonous
qualities; and the ablest chemists in England shall shortly test it by means of
"Even were it the rankest poison known, you cannot
show that I sent it to my brother. I deny the charge — I scorn the
imputation!" cried Gilbert Vernon.
"You will speak in a tone of diminished
confidence," said Eliza, calmly, "when you hear that I despatched a
messenger to Beyrout — that the very place where you purchased the
tobacco in that town has been discovered — that the merchant who
shipped it for you has made an affidavit before the British Consul at Beyrout to
this effect — and that the precise time when you embarked from
Beyrout for England has also been ascertained. Nay, more — the
letters sent to your address in that town announcing the death of your brother,
reached their destination long after you had left, and were never opened — nor
even seen by you! Yet you affected to return to England in consequence of the
receipt of those letters."
"And who are you, madam, that have taken such pains
to collect these particulars, which you are [-344-]
pleased to call evidence against me!" demanded Vernon. "Is the scion
of a noble race to be maligned — outraged — accused of
atrocious crimes by an unknown but meddling woman!"
"Again you speak at random," answered Eliza;
"for did I choose to proclaim my title and my rank, you would admit that
not even the owners of the proud name of Ravensworth possess a dignity so
exalted as mine. Let me, however, return to the sad subject of my discourse: let
me convince you that the evidence of your crime is so overwhelming that
penitence and prayer would become you far more than obstinacy, and haughty but
vain denial! For if there be farther proofs of your guilt required, seek them
for yourself in those circumstances which induced you to take into your service
Anthony Tidkins, the Resurrection Man!"
Vernon shuddered fearfully as these words fell upon his
ears; for it seemed as if a sledge-hammer had been suddenly struck upon his
"And if farther proofs are really wanting,
lady," said Morcar, "it is for me to supply them. This morning I was
concealed in the ruins of a cottage at no great distance from the Hall; and
there my ears were astounded with the damnable plot which this man and his
accomplice had conceived against the life of the infant heir of Ravensworth. Why
I did not immediately betray them — why I resolved on counteracting
that plot, I will explain on a more fitting occasion. But let me inform you that
it was by my device the child was saved; for the instant that the arms of the
jugglers were raised to throw the detonating balls upon the ground, the net was
unrolled — rapid as lightning — by my companion and
myself; and the babe was caught in it as he fell!"
"Excellent man!" exclaimed Eliza Sydney, while
a murmur of applause passed amongst the assembled servants: "who are you?
what is your name?"
"I am one of that wandering tribe called Gipsies,
madam," was the answer: "and my name is Morcar."
"Morcar!" echoed Eliza. "Oh! I have heard
of you before — often — very often! The Prince of
Montoni speaks of you as a friend; and your services to him in the Castelcicalan
war have become a matter of history."
"Ah! is it possible!" cried Morcar, who for
some moments had been studying Eliza's features with attention — for
he had seen many portraits of her during his sojourn in Italy, and a light now
broke in upon his memory: "is it possible that I am in the presence of her
to whom that great Prince owes his life? Oh! madam, I also have to thank your
Serene Highness — humble as I am — for the safety and
freedom which I experienced after the defeat at Ossore."
And, as he spoke, Morcar abandoned his hold upon Gilbert
Vernon, and fell upon his knees before the royal widow.
"Rise, Morcar," she hastily exclaimed: "I
have renounced for ever the proud title of Grand-Duchess, and would henceforth
be known as Eliza Sydney. Moreover, this is no time for homage — even
were I disposed to receive it."
"The knee of Morcar bows not to princes because
they are princes," returned the gipsy, proudly and yet respectfully;
"but to men or women who by their virtues deserve such homage."
At that moment a cry of alarm burst from the servants
who had still retained their hold upon Vernon and at the same instant this
guilty man sprang furiously from their grasp — hurled them violently
aside — and, ere a single hand could stop his mad career, rushed to
Morcar bounded after him: but it was too late. Gilbert
Vernon had precipitated himself from the balcony!
The sound of his fall upon the pavement beneath, — and
the sound of a human being thus falling has none other like it in the
world, — struck upon every ear in that drawing-room.
Some of the servants hastened down stairs, and ran to
the spot where Vernon lay.
They raised him — they bore him into the
hall; but the moment the light of the lamps fell upon him, they perceived that
all human aid was unavailing.
His skull was literally beaten in, and his hair was
covered with his blood and brains!
Thus did he meet the fate which he had all along
intended for his infant nephew.
Terrible suicide — but just retribution!
Half an hour after this dread event a travelling
carriage rolled rapidly away from Ravensworth Hall.
In it were seated Adeline, with her child upon her lap,
her lady's-maid, and the nurse.
The faithful Quentin, who had been induced by the
persuasion of Eliza Sydney to remain in the service of Lady Ravensworth,
occupied the dickey behind the vehicle.
Adeline was now on her way to Dover, whence she purposed
to pass to the continent; her intention being, in pursuance of the advice of
Eliza, to seek some retired spot in the south of France, where she might at
least find tranquillity and repose, if not happiness, after the rude storms to
which she had lately been so fearfully exposed.
Not that this self-expatriation was compulsory on
account of Lady Ravensworth's one dread crime: it was nevertheless the
project to which we have before alluded, and by which means Eliza had planned
that Adeline should escape from the consequences of any revelation that might be
made by the Resurrection Man in respect to the murdered Lydia Hutchinson.
But no such revelation was made, inasmuch as Tidkins had
disappeared from the mansion ere Quentin received the order to secure him. For
the instant the cry of "Saved! saved!" fell upon the ears of the
Resurrection Man and conveyed to him the stunning fact that the scheme had
failed — that the child had escaped, in some marvellous manner, the
fate intended for it, — then did he know full well that Ravensworth
Hall was no longer the place for him. Reckless of what might become of Vernon,
and unnoticed by the servants amidst the confusion which prevailed immediately
after the fall of the child from the balcony, Tidkins slipped out of the mansion
by the back way, and was speedily beyond the reach of danger.
Thus terminated that terrible series of incidents which
constitute so strange an episode in the annals of the family of Ravensworth.
But ere Adeline took her departure from the mansion of
that noble race whose name she bore, she had learnt, with surprise and joy, that
the excellent friend whom heaven had sent her, and by whose touching language
and admirable example her own [-345-] heart had
been brought to a state of sincere and profound penitence, — she had
learnt, we say, that this noble-hearted woman was one whose brow a diadem had
We may also observe that Morcar refused the liberal
recompense which both Adeline and Eliza proffered him for the most important
service which he had rendered in defeating Vernon's man at a moment when, in
spite of all the precautions and the various measures adopted by Eliza, it
seemed to touch upon the verge of a success fatal to the existence of the infant
Satisfied with the approval of his own conscience, and
attended by the blessings of a mother whose child he had saved, Morcar returned
with the jugglers to the Three Kings, where he completely satisfied them
for the disappointment they had experienced in respect to the wondrous
properties of his net; and on the ensuing morning he parted from them, to pursue
his own way.
Eliza Sydney passed the night at Ravensworth Hall; and,
after the Coroner's Inquest had sate next day upon the body of the suicide
Vernon, she returned to her peaceful villa at Clapton.
chapter < | THE MYSTERIES OF
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