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RESURRECTION MAN'S LAST FEAT AT RAVENSWORTH HALL.
God protect me!" shrieked Adeline, staggering to a sofa, on which she fell.
But her senses did not leave her: a profound conviction
of the terrible position in which she was again placed, suddenly nerved her with
a courage and a strength that astonished even herself; and starting from the
sofa, she confronted the Resurrection Man, saying, "What do you here?"
"That's my business," answered Tidkins,
gruffly. "You see that I am here: — here I have been for a long
time-and here I shall remain as much longer as it suits my purpose. That
is," he added, with a significant leer, "unless you make it worth my
while to take myself off."
"Detestable extortioner!" ejaculated Adeline:
"am I never to know peace again?"
"Well — now that's your
business, my lady," replied the Resurrection Man. "The fact is, I find
this place so much to my liking, and it answers my views as well as my safety so
well, that I am in no hurry to quit it. You may look as black as you please: but
you ought to know by this time that Tony Tidkins is not the man to be frightened
by a lady's frown."
"The law will protect me," said Adeline, now
labouring under the most painful excitement.
"Yes — and punish you too," added
the Resurrection Man, coolly.
"Now listen to me," continued Lady Ravensworth,
speaking with hysterical volubility: "human forbearance has limits — human
patience has bounds. My forbearance is exhausted — my patience is
worn out. Sooner than submit to your persecutions — [-389-]
sooner than be at the mercy of your extortions, — I will seek
redress at the hands of justice — aye, even though I draw down its
vengeance upon my own head at the same time!"
And she flew towards the bell-pull.
But the Resurrection Man caught her ere her hand could
reach the rope; and dragging her back, he pushed her brutally upon the sofa.
Then, drawing a pistol from his pocket, he said in a terribly ominous tone,
"If you attempt that dodge again, I'll shoot you through the head as sure
as you're now a living woman."
Adeline contemplated him with eyes expressive of the
"You see that it's no use to play tricks with me,
young lady," continued the Resurrection Man, as he replaced the pistol in
"What is it that you require?" asked Adeline,
in a faint and supplicating tone: "what can I do to induce you to depart
and never molest me more? Oh! have mercy upon me, I implore you-have mercy upon
me! I have no friends to protect me. I am widowed and childless. My poor boy has
been snatched from me — my sole earthly solace is gone! But why do
you persecute me thus? Have I ever injured you? If you hate me — if
you look upon me as an enemy, kill me outright: — do not do not take
my life by inches. Your presence is slow torture!"
"Will you listen to reason?" demanded Tidkins
"can you speak calmly for a few minutes?"
"I will — I can," returned
Adeline, shuddering dreadfully as the Resurrection Man drew nearer to her.
"Well, then — if you keep your word,
our business will soon be brought to an end," he said, planting himself
coolly in a chair opposite to her. "You must know that I've been living in
this house almost ever since you left it."
"Living here!" cried Adeline, indignation
mastering a considerable portion of her terror.
"Yes — living here as snug as a bug in
a rug," returned Tidkins, chuckling as if he considered the fact to be an
excellent joke. "The truth is I had certain reasons of my own for being
either in or near London: and I looked about for a safe place. Happening to pass
this way a few weeks after that business about Vernon, you know — "
"Proceed — proceed!" said Adeline,
"I'm in no hurry," replied Tidkins.
"But my servant may come — Quentin will
be here shortly — I expect him every minute — "
"He won't hurt me, my lady," said Tidkins,
calmly. "If he attempted to lay a hand on me, I'd shoot him on the spot.
However, I will go on quicker — since you wish it. Well, as I was
saying, I passed by this way and saw the house all shut up. Inquiries at the
village down yonder let me know that you was gone, and that there was no one but
an old man and his wife about the premises. Nothing could suit me better: I
resolved to take up my quarters here directly; — and I pitched upon
the very room where Vernon threw himself out of the window. One day I heard the
two old people talking in the next apartment, which they were dusting out; and I
found, by their discourse, that they believed in ghosts. That was a glorious
discovery for me: I soon saw that certain little devices which I practised made
them think that Vernon's spirit haunted the place — and so I boldly
opened the shutters and made myself comfortable, when I took it into my head.
They weren't at the house, it seems, when I was staying here two years ago; and
so they didn't know who I really was. Thus, when they saw me standing in the
balcony — which I often did just to amuse myself by frightening them
a little — they firmly believed it was Gilbert Vernon's spirit that
haunted the place. Lord! how I have laughed sometimes at the poor old
"It is you, then," cried Adeline, a sudden
idea striking her, "who have been plundering the Hall during my
"Well — you may call it by that name,
if you like," said Tidkins, with the most provoking calmness. "I don't
hesitate to admit that I have now and then walked off with a small picture — or
a time-piece — -or a mantel ornament — or what not — just
to raise supplies for the time being. But you ought to be very much obliged to
me that I've left any thing at all in the whole place. Such forbearance isn't
quite in keeping with my usual disposition."
"Villain! this to me-and said so coolly!"
cried Lady Ravensworth, again starting from her seat.
"Pray keep where you are, ma'am," observed
Tidkins, pushing her back again upon the sofa; "you promised to listen to
"Reason!" exclaimed Adeline: "and do you
call it reason when I am compelled to hear the narrative of your villanies — the
history of your depredations on my property?"
"You knew what I was when you sought my
acquaintance," said the Resurrection Man; "and after all, I've only
just been taking the little liberties which one friend may use with
"Friend!" repeated Adeline, in a tone
expressive of deep disgust, as she retreated as far back upon the sofa as
"Come-we're only wasting time by all this
disputing," said the Resurrection Man. "The whole thing lies in a
nut-shell. You've come home again — and you want to enjoy undisputed
possession of your own house. Well — that is reasonable enough. But,
by so doing, you turn me out of doors; and I don't exactly know where I shall
find a crib so safe and convenient as this. I must have an indemnity, then: and
that is also reasonable on my part."
"Until you told me that you had robbed the
house," exclaimed Adeline, in a tone of almost ungovernable
indignation, — such as she had not experienced for a long, long
time, — "I was prepared to purchase your departure with a sum
of money: but now, — now that I have the most convincing proofs of
your utter profligacy — even if such proofs were wanting, — now
that I see the folly of reposing the slightest trust in one who studies nothing
save his own wants and interests, — I will think of a compromise no
"You will repent your obstinacy," said Tidkins.
Remember how you have dared me on a former occasion, and how I reduced you to
"True!" ejaculated Adeline, in a calmer and
more collected tone than she had yet assumed during this painful interview:
"but at that time I was crushed by the weight of difficulties — overwhelmed
with embarrassments and perils of the most formidable nature. I would then have
committed any new crime to screen the former ones: I would have effected any
compromise in order to avert danger. But now — what is there to bind
me [-390-] to existence? Nothing — unless
it be the enjoyment of seclusion and tranquillity. These are menaced by your
prosecutions: and I will put an end to this intolerable tyranny — or
perish in the attempt. This is my decision. Let us be at open war, if you will:
and 'tis thus I commence hostilities!"
Rapid as thought, she darted towards the bell-rope: but
Tidkins, who had divined her intention, intercepted her as before.
Placing his iron hand on the nape of her neck, he thrust
her violently back upon the sofa: then, ere he withdrew his hold, he said in a
low, hoarse, and ferocious tone:
"This is the last time I will be trifled with. By
Satan! young woman, I'll strangle you, if this game continues — just
as I strangled your Lydia Hutchinson!"
And pushing her with contemptuous rudeness from him, he
released her from his grasp.
For a few moments Adeline's breath came with so much
difficulty, and her bosom heaved so convulsively, that the Resurrection Man
feared he had gone too far, and had done her some grievous injury; but when he
saw her recover from the semi-strangulation and the dreadful alarm which she had
experienced in consequence of his treatment, his eyes glistened with ferocious
"Let us make a long business short," he said,
in a coarse and imperious tone. "If I told you just now that I had helped
myself to a few of the things in this house, it was only to convince you that I
am not likely to stick at trifles in respect to you or yours. You have
money — and I want some. Give me my price — and you
shall never see me again."
"No — you may murder me if you
will" cried Adeline, hysterically: "but I will not submit to your
tyranny any more. Oh! you are a terrible man-and I would sooner die than live in
the constant terror of your persecution!"
"Foolish woman, give up this screeching — or,
by hell! I'll settle you, and then help myself to all I want," cried
And at the same moment Adeline, whose face was buried in
her hands, felt his iron grasp again upon the nape of her neck.
She started up with a half-stifled scream, and
endeavoured to reach the bell-rope a third time. But once more was she
anticipated in her design; and the Resurrection Man now held her firmly round
the waist by his left arm.
Then drawing forth the pistol with his right hand, he
placed the muzzle against Adeline's marble forehead.
"I must put an end to this nonsense at once,"
he said, in a ferocious tone. "There is something now in the house, proud
and obstinate woman as you are — that will make you fall on your
knees and beseech me to remove it from your sight. But we will try that test:
and remember, this pistol that touches your forehead is loaded. Attempt to raise
an alarm — and I blow your brains out."
"Release me-let me go-I implore you!" murmured
Adeline, who experienced greater loathing at that contiguity with the
Resurrection Man, than fear at the weapon which menaced her with instantaneous
"No — you shall come," returned
Tidkins, brutally: "I am sick of this reasoning, and must bring you to the
point at once."
"Let me go — and I swear to follow
whither you may choose to lead," said Adeline.
"Well — now I release you on that
condition," was the reply: and the horrible man withdrew his arm and the
But still keeping the weapon levelled at the wretched
lady, and taking a candle in his left hand, he made a sign for her to accompany
She was now reduced to that state of physical
nervousness and mental bewilderness, that she obeyed mechanically, without
attempting to remonstrate — without even remembering to ask whither
they were going.
They left the room, and proceeded along the passage
towards the southern extremity of the building, — Adeline walking on
one side of the corridor, and Tidkins on the other — the latter
still keeping the pistol levelled to over-awe the miserable woman.
But she saw it not: she went on, because she
mechanically obeyed one in whose power she felt herself to be, and whose
loathsome contiguity she trembled to dare again.
At length they stopped at a door: and then Adeline's
memory seemed to recover all its powers — her ideas instantly
appeared to concentrate themselves in one focus.
"Oh! no — not here! not here!" she
said, with a cold shudder, as she suddenly awoke as it were from a confused
dream, and recognised the door of her boudoir — the boudoir!
"Then give me a thousand pounds — and I
will leave the house this minute," returned Mr. Tidkins.
"No — you shall kill me first!"
ejaculated Adeline, again recovering courage and strength, as if by instinct she
knew herself to be standing upon some fearful precipice. "I will resist you
to the death; you have driven me to desperation!"
And, springing towards the Resurrection Man, she made a
snatch at the pistol which he held in his hand.
But, eluding her attack, he thrust the weapon into his
pocket: then, clasping her with iron vigour in his right arm, and still
retaining the light in his left hand, he burst open the door of the boudoir with
Adeline uttered a faint scream, as he dragged her into
the room, the door of which he closed violently behind him.
Then, holding the light in such a manner that its beams
fell upon the floor, and withdrawing his arm from Adeline's waist, he exclaimed
in a tone of ferocious triumph:
"Behold the remains of the murdered Lydia
Lady Ravensworth threw one horrified glance upon the
putrid corpse; and uttering a terrific scream expressive of the most intense
agony, she fell flat upon the floor-her face touching the feet of the dead body.
Tidkins raised her: but the blood gushed out of her
"Perdition! I have gone too far," cried the
Resurrection Man. "She is dead — and I have done as good as cut
my own throat!"
It was indeed true: Adeline had burst a blood. vessel,
and died upon the spot.
Tidkins let her fall heavily upon the floor, and
throwing down the candle, fled from the mansion, reckless whether the light were
extinguished or not.
an hour afterwards Quentin was on his return to the Hall, in a hackney-coach
containing, besides the baggage which he had cleared at the Custom-House,
several hampers filled with the purchases he had been making in the City.
[-391-] As he was thus
proceeding through the park, he suddenly observed a strong and flickering light
appearing through the windows at the southern extremity of the building; and in
a few moments the whole of that part of the Hall was enveloped in flames.
Leaping from the coach, which, being heavily laden,
dragged slowly along, the valet rushed to the mansion, where the presence of the
fire had already alarmed the gardener and his wife, and the French servant.
But of what avail were their poor exertions against the
fury of the raging and devouring element?
A search was immediately instituted for Lady Ravensworth:
but she was not to be found in either of the drawing-rooms. Nor was she in any
of the chambers in the northern part of the building; and it was impossible to
enter the southern wing, which seemed to be one vast body of flame.
The domestics, finding their search to be useless, were
compelled to form the dreadful conclusion that their mistress had perished in
For six hours did the fire rage with appalling fury; and
though the inhabitants of the adjacent village and the immediate neighbourhood
flocked to the scene of desolation and rendered all the assistance in their
power, the splendid mansion was very speedily reduced to a heap of charred and
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