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RICHARD AND ISABELLA.
RICHARD MARKHAM had determined to lose no
time in revealing to Count Alteroni those adventures which had rendered him an inmate of the Giltspur
for two years.
And yet it was hard to dare the destruction of the bright visions which had
dawned upon him in respect to the Signora Isabella it was cruel to dash away from his
lips the only cup of enjoyment which he had tasted for a long time.
He knew not how the count would receive such a narrative as he had to tell.
Doubtless it would alarm him: "for society," thought Richard, "was
too apt to judge rashly by outward appearances. Should the count nobly and
generously rise above the prejudices of the world, and believe the statement
of Markham's innocence, corroborated as it was by the document signed by Talbot,
alias Pocock, much would have been gained by a candid and honourable
confession. But if the reverse ensued, and the count banished Richard from his
friendship, the young man felt that he himself would only have performed a
melancholy duty, and broken asunder of his own accord those bonds which, were he
to remain silent, an accident might one day snap abruptly and rudely.
"I feel happy," said Markham to himself, as he arose in the
morning after the day on which the fruitless search mentioned in the preceding
chapter took place,- "I feel happy even while about to consummate a sacrifice
which may destroy the most golden of my dreams! The Infinite Being has
declared that the days of our life shall be marked with sorrow; and they are -
I can well testify! But the afflictions to which we are subject are attended with blessed antidotes
;- moral sources of enjoyment are given to us, as fruits
and flowers for the soul; and the teachings of interest, as well as the
impulses of gratitude, should lead us to consider with attention those duties we
owe each other, for the sake at the bounties the Almighty showers upon us."
reasoned Richard Markham.
That evening he arrived at the count's abode near Richmond, a few minutes
A kind welcome awaited him on the part of the count and countess; and the
eyes of Signora Isabella expressed the satisfaction she experienced at his
When Markham was seated with the count after dinner, he determined to
commence the explanation which he had resolved to give.
He was just about to broach the subject, when the count observed, "By
the bye, I am happy to inform you that I received letters from Greenwood this
morning; and he assures me that the speculation looks admirably."
"I am delighted to hear it," returned Richard.
"But the chief object of my present visit "
"Was to speak about
this Steam Packet business, no doubt," interrupted the count. " Well, if you
like to take shares in it, it is not too late. But what do you think? I am
going to tell you a secret. You know that I look upon you as a friend of the
family; besides, I am well aware that you respect Isabel and love her like a
"What did you say, count?" stammered Markham.
" I was going to tell you that Mr. Greenwood - who is immensely
rich-has taken a liking to Isabella "
" Yes - and I gave him some little encouragement."
"What! without previously ascertaining whether the Signora's feelings
are reciprocal?" cried Richard.
"As for that, my dear Markham, remember that a dutiful daughter knows no
will and no inclination save those of her parents."
"This is not an English doctrine," said Markham. " so far as the
principle applies to affairs of the heart."
[-132-] "It is nevertheless an Italian doctrine,"
exclaimed the count, somewhat
haughtily; "and I have no doubt that Isabella will ever recognise the authority of her parents in this as in all other matters."
As the count uttered these words, he rose and led the way to the
drawing-room; and thus deprived Markham of that opportunity of making the
confession he had intended.
Richard was unhappy and dispirited. He perceived that the
count was inclined to favour Mr. Greenwood's suit; and he now felt how dear
Isabella was to him - how profoundly seated was his love for the beauteous
Misfortunes never come alone. Richard was destined to receive a crushing
blow, although innocently inflicted, the moment he entered the drawing-room.
The countess was conversing with her daughter upon her own family
"Do not let us interrupt your conversation," said the count, as he took
his seat upon the sofa near his wife.
"We were only talking about the Chevalier Guilderstein, whose death
was mentioned in yesterday's newspaper," observed the countess. " I was
saying that I remembered how delighted I was when I discovered a few years ago
that the chevalier was not related to our family, as he had always pretended to
"And why so?" inquired the count.
"Because the father of the chevalier was put to death in Austria for
coining - or rather upon a charge of coining," answered the countess; "and
although his innocence was discovered and proclaimed a few years after his
death, I should not like to have amongst my ancestors a man who had been
criminally convicted, however innocent he may in reality have been."
"Certainly not," said the count. "I should be very sorry for any one
whose character had ever been tainted with suspicion, to have the slightest
connection with our family."
"I cannot say that I agree with you," observed Isabel. "There can
be no disgrace attached to one who has suffered under a false accusation: on
the contrary - such a person is rather deserving of our deepest sympathy and "
"Heavens, Mr. Markham!" ejaculated the Countess; "are you ill? Bella,
dear - ring the bell - get Mr. Markham a glass of water "
"It is nothing - nothing, I can assure you," stammered Richard, whose
countenance was as pale as that of a corpse. "Miss Isabella, do not give yourself any trouble! It was only a sudden
faintness - a spasm: but it is over
With these words Markham hurried to the bed-chamber which was always
allotted to him when he visited the count's residence.
All the horrible tortures which man can conceive, harassed him at that
moment. He threw himself upon his couch - he writhed - he struggled, as if
against a serpent which held him in its embraces. His eyes seemed as if they
were about to start from their sockets; his teeth were fast closed - he wrung
his hair - he beat his breast - and low moans escaped from his bosom. The fiat of
the count had gone forth. He who would claim or aspire to connection with his
family must be like the wife of Caesar - beyond all suspicion. It was not
enough that such an one should be innocent of any crime: he must - never have
even been accused of one. Such was the disposition of the count - elicited by an
accident and unexpectedly; and Markham could now divine the nature of the
treatment which he would be likely to experience, were he to reveal his misfortunes to a nobleman who
entertained such punctilious and extremely scrupulous notions!
"But I was mad to imagine that Isabella would ever become mine;" thought
Markham within himself, as soon as be became somewhat more tranquil. - used.
was folly - supreme folly - rank, idiotic, inconceivable folly, in me to have
cherished a hope which could never be realised! All that now remains for me to
do, is to abandon myself to my adverse fate - to attempt no more struggles against
the destinies that await me, - to leave this house without delay - to return home,
and bury myself in a solitude from which no persuasions nor attractions shall henceforth induce me to emerge! Would that I could leave this house this very
evening ;- but appearances compel me to remain at least until tomorrow! I must
endeavour to assume that ease of manner - that friendly confidence, which is
reciprocal here :- for a few hours I must consent to act the hypocrite; and
to-morrow - to-morrow, I shall be relieved from that dread necessity.- I shall be
compelled to bid adieu to Isabella for ever! No avowal of my past sufferings is
now required - since I shall to-morrow leave this hospitable mansion, never
A flood of tears relieved the unfortunate young man; and he descended once
more to the drawing- room - very pale, but as calm and tranquil as usual. Isabella
glanced towards him from time to time with evident anxiety; and, in spite of all
his endeavours to appear cheerful and at his ease, he was embarrassed, cool, and
reserved. Isabella was wounded and mortified by his conduct :- she attempted
to rally him, and to ascertain whether he was really chilling in his manners on
purpose, or only melancholy against his will: but she received frigid and
laconic replies, which annoyed and disheartened the poor girl to such an extent
that she could scarcely refrain from tears. Markham felt that, as an
honourable man, he could no longer aspire to the hand of the signora, after the
expression of opinion accidentally conveyed to him by the count and countess;
and he therefore forbore from any attempt to render himself agreeable, or to
afford the slightest testimony of his passion. Acting with these views, and
endeavouring to seem only properly polite, he fell into the opposite extreme,
and grew cold and reserved. The count and countess imagined that he was unwell,
and were not therefore annoyed by his conduct ;- but poor Isabella, who was
deeply attached to him, set down his behaviour to indifference. This idea on her
part was confirmed, when Markham, in the course of conversation, intimated his
intention of returning home on the following day.
" Return home! and what for?" ejaculated the count. "You have no
society there, and here you have some - unamusing and tedious though it may be."
"Never did I pass a happier period of my existence than that which I
have spent in your hospitable abode," said Richard.
"Then remain with us at least ten days or a fortnight," cried the count.
"We shall then be visiting London ourselves, for we have promised to pass a
few weeks with Lord and Lady Tremordyn."
"Lord Tremordyn! " exclaimed Richard.
"Yes - do you know him?"
"Only by name. But did not his daughter marry Sir Rupert
Harborough?" said Markham, shuddering as he pronounced the abhorred name.
"The same. Sir Robert treats her shamefully - neglects her in every way,
and passes whole months [-133-] away from his home. He has, moreover, expended all the fortune she brought
him, and is again, I understand, deeply involved in debt."
"Poor Lady Cecilia! " ejaculated Isabella. "She
is deeply to be
"But to return to this sudden resolution of yours to depart
said the count.
"Which resolution is very suddenly taken," added the signora, affecting
to be engaged in contemplating a book of prints which lay upon the table before
her, while her beautiful countenance was suffused with a deep blush.
" My resolution is sudden, certainly," observed Richard.
"Circumstances over which I have no control, and which it would be useless
to communicate to you, frequently compel me to adopt sudden resolutions, and act
up to them. Be assured, however, that the memory of your kindness will always be
dear to me."
"You speak as if we were never to meet again," exclaimed the count.
"We cannot dispose of events in this world according to our own will,"
said Markham, emphatically. "Would to God we could!"
"But there are certain circumstances in which we seem to be free agents," said
Isabella, still holding down her head; "and remaining in one place, or
going to another, appears to be amongst those actions which depend upon our own
At this moment a servant entered the room and informed the count that
the private secretary of the envoy of the Grand Duke of Castelcicala to the
English court desired to speak with him in another apartment.
"Oh! I am interested in this," exclaimed the Countess; and, upon a signal
of approval on the part of her husband, she accompanied him to the room where
the secretary was waiting.
Markham was now alone with Isabella.
This was a probable occurrence which he had dreaded all that evening. He felt
himself cruelly embarrassed in her presence; and the silence which prevailed
between them was awkward to a degree.
At length the signora herself spoke.
"It appears that you are determined to leave us, Mr. Markham ?" she
said, without glancing towards him, and in a tone which she endeavoured to
render as cool and indifferent as possible.
"I feel that I have been too long here already signora," answered Richard, scarcely knowing what reply to make.
"Do you mean to tax us with inattention to your comfort, Mr. Markham?"
"God forbid, signora! In the name of heaven do not entertain such an
"Mr. Markham has been treated as well as our humble means would admit;
and he leaves us with an abruptness which justifies us in entertaining fears
that he is not comfortable."
"How can I convince you of the injustice of your suspicions ?"
ejaculated Markham. "You would not wantonly wound my feelings, Miss
Isabella, by a belief which is totally unfounded? No! that is not the cause of
my departure. My own happiness - my own honour - every thing commands me to quit a spot
where - where I shall,
nevertheless, leave so many reminiscences of joy and tranquil felicity behind
me! I dare not explain myself farther at present; perhaps never will you know
the cause - but, pardon me, signora - I am wandering - I know not what I say!"
"Pray compose yourself, Mr. Markham," said Isabella. now raising her head from
the book, and glancing towards him.
"Compose myself. Isabella - signora, I mean," he exclaimed:
"that is impossible! Oh! if you knew all, you would pity met But I dare not now
you what I wish. A word which this day dropped from your father's lips has banished all hope from my
mind. Now I am wandering again! In the name of heaven, take no notice of what I
say; I am mad - I am raving !"
"And what was it that my father said to annoy you?"
inquired Isabella timidly.
"Oh! nothing - nothing purposely," answered Markham.
"He himself was unaware that he fired the arrow from his bow."
"Am I unworthy of your confidence in this instance?" asked
Isabella; "and may I not be made acquainted with the nature of the
annoyance which my father has thus unintentionally caused you to experience?"
"Oh I why should I repeat words which would only lead to
a revelation of what It is now useless to reveal. Your father and mother bath
delivered the same sentiment - a sentiment that destroys all hope. But, oh I you
cannot understand the cause of my anxiety - my grief - my disappointment!"
"And why not entrust me with that cause? I could
sympathise with you as a friend."
"As a friend! Alas, Isabella, is it useless for me now
to deplore the visions which I had conjured up, and which have been so cruelly
destroyed? You yourself know not what is in store for you - what plans your father
may have formed concerning you!"
"And are you acquainted with those plans?" asked the beauteous Italian, in a tone of voice rendered
almost inaudible by a variety of emotions - for the heart of that innocent and
charming being fluttered like a bird in the net of the fowler.
"Do not question me on that head, Isabella! Let me speak of
myself - for
it is sweet to be commiserated by such as you ! My life for some time past has
been a scene of almost unceasing misery. When I came of age I found my vast
property dissipated by him to whom it was entrusted. And other circumstances
gave a new and unpleasant aspect to those places which were dear to me in my
childhood. What wild hopes, in early life, had I there indulged, - what dreams for
the future had there visited my mind in its boyhoo! - what vain wishes, what
strong yearnings, what ambitious aspirations had there first found existence!
When I returned to those spots, after an absence of two years, and thought of
the feelings that there once agitated my bosom, and contrasted them with those
which had displaced them, - when I traced the history of each hope from its
inception there, and followed it through the vista of years until its final
extinction, - when I thought how differently my course in life had been shaped
from that career which I had there marked out, and how vain and futile were
all the efforts and strivings which I exerted against the tide of events and the
force of circumstances,- I awoke, as it were from a long dream, - I opened my eyes
upon the path which I should thenceforth have to pursue, and judged of it by the
one I had been pursuing ;- I saw the nothingness of men's lives in general, and
the utter vanity of the main pursuits which engross their mind,, and waste their
energies ;- and I then felt convinced that I was indeed but an instrument in the
hands of another, and that the ends which I had obtained had not been those
for which I bad striven, but which the Almighty willed! - So is it with me now,
Isabella. I had planned a dream - a dream of Elysium, with which to cheer and
bless the remainder of my [-134-] existence; and, behold! like all the former hopes and
aspirations of my life, this one is also suddenly destroyed!"
"How know you that it is destroyed?"
casting down her eyes.
"Oh! I am unworthy of you, Isabella - I do not deserve
you; and yet it was to your hand that I aspired ;- you were the star that was to
irradiate the remainder of my existence! Oh! I could weep - I could weep,
Isabella, when I think of what I might have been, and what I am!"
"You say that you aspired to my hand," murmured the
lovely Italian maiden, casting down her large dark eyes and blushing deeply;
"you did me honour!"
"Silence, Isabella - silence!" interrupted Richard.
"I dare not now hear the words of hope from your lips! But I love
thee - I love thee - God only knows how sincerely I love thee!"
"And shall I conceal my own feelings with regard to you, Richard?" said Isabella, approaching him
her delicate and beautifully modelled hand lightly upon his wrist.
"She loves me in return - she loves me!"
ejaculated Markham, half wild with mingled joy and apprehensions ;- and, yielding to an
impulse which no mortal under such circumstances could have conquered, he
caught her in his arms.
He kissed her pure and chaste brow - he felt her fragrant
breath upon his cheek - her hair commingled with his own - and he murmured the
words, "You love me?"
A gentle voice breathed an affirmative in his ear; and he
pressed his lips to hers to ratify that covenant of two fond hearts.
Suddenly he recollected that Count Alteroni had declared that
no one against whom there was even a suspicion of crime should ever forum a
connection with his family. Markham's high sense of honour told him in a moment
that he had no right to secure the affections of a confiding and gentle girl
whose father would never yield an assent to their union: - his
brain, already excited, now became inflamed almost to madness ;-he abruptly turned aside from her who had just avowed
her attachment to him, he muttered some incoherent words which she did not
comprehend, and rushed out of the room.
He hurried to the garden at the back of the house, and walked
rapidly up and down a shady avenue of trees which ran along the wall that
bounded the enclosure on the side of the public road.
By degrees he grew calm and relaxed the speed of his pace. He
then fell into a long and profound meditation upon the occurrences of the last
He was beloved by Isabella, it was true;- but never might
he aspire to her hand ;- never could it be accorded to him to lead her to the altar where
attachment might be ratified and his happiness confirmed! An inseparable barrier
seemed to oppose itself to his wishes;
and he felt that no alternative remained to him but to put his former resolution
into force, and take his departure homewards on the ensuing morning.
Thus was it that be now reasoned.
The moon shone brightly; and the heavens were studded with
As Markham was about to turn for the twentieth time at that
end of the avenue which was the more remote from the house, the beams of the moon
disclosed to him a human face peering over the wall at him.
He started, and was about to utter an exclamation of
when a well-known voice fell upon his ears.
"Hush!" was the word first spoken; "I have
just one question to ask you, and then one thing to tell you; and the last
will just depend upon the first."
"Wretch - miscreant - murderer!" exclaimed Richard; "nothing
shall now prevent me from securing you on the behalf of justice."
"Fool!" coolly returned the Resurrection Man - for it was he; "who
can catch me in the darkness and the open
"True!" cried Markham, stamping his foot with vexation. "But God
grant that the day of retribution may come!"
"Come, come - none of this nonsense, my dear boy," said the Resurrection Man,
with diabolical irony. " Now, answer me - will you give me a cool hundred
and fifty? If not, then I will get the swag in spite
"Why do you thus molest and persecute
me? I would sooner handle the most venomous serpent, than enter into a compromise
with a fiend like you!"
"Then beware of the consequences!"
The moon shone full upon the cadaverous and unearthly countenance
Resurrection Maim, and revealed the expression of ferocious rage which it wore
as he uttered these words. That vile and foreboding face then suddenly
disappeared behind the wall.
"Who are you talking to, Markham?" cried the voice of the count,
who was now advancing down the avenue.
"Talking to?" repeated Richard, alarmed and confused.
"Yes - I heard your voice, and another answering you," said the
"It was a man in the road," answered Markham.
"I missed you from the drawing-room on my return; and
Bella said she
thought you were unwell, and had gone to walk in the garden for the fresh air.
The news I have received from Castelcicala, through the Envoy's secretary, are
by no means favourable to my hopes of a speedy return to my native land. You
therefore see that I have done well to lay out my capital in this. But we will
not discuss matters of business now; for there is company up stairs, and we must
join them. Who do you think have just made their appearance?"
"Mr. Armstrong and other friends?" said Markham inquiringly.
"No - Armstrong is on the Continent. The visitors are Sir Cherry Bounce
and Captain Smilax Dapper; and I am by no means pleased with their company.
However, my house will always remain open to them in consequence of the services
rendered to me by their deceased relative."
Markham accompanied the count back to the drawing-room, where Captain
Smilax Dapper had seated himself next to the signora; and Sir Cherry Bounce was
endeavouring to divert the countess with an account, of their journey that
evening from London. They both coloured deeply and bowed very politely when
Richard entered the apartment.
"Well, ath I wath thaying," continued Sir Cherry,
"one of the twatheth
bwoke at the bottom of the hill, and the hortheth took to fwight. Thmilakth
thwore like a twooper; but nothing could thwop the thaithe till it wolled thlap
down into a dwy dith. Dapper then woared like a bull; and I "
"And Cherry began to cry, strike me if he didn't!" ejaculated the
gallant hussar, caressing his moustache. "A countryman who passed by asked
him if his mamma knew he was out: Cherry thought that the fellow was in earnest,
and assured him that he had her permission to undertake the journey. I never
laughed so much in my life !"
"Oh! naughty Dapper to thay that I cwied! That really ith too cwuel.
Well, we got the thaithe lifted out of the dith, and the twathe mended."
"You are the heroes of an adventure," said the
"I intend to put it into verse, strike me ugly if I
don't!" cried the
young officer; "and perhaps the signora will allow me to copy it into her
"Oh! I must read it first," said Isabella,
laughing. "But since
you speak of my Album, I must show you the additions I have received to its
"This is really a beautiful landscape," observed Captain
Dapper, as he turned over the leaves of the book which the beautiful Italian
presented to him. "The water flowing over the wheel of the mill is quite
natural, strike me! And - may I never know what fair woman's smiles are again, if
those trees don't seem actually to be growing out of the paper!"
"Thuperb? ejaculated Sir Cherry Bounce. "The wiver
litewally wollth along in the picthure. The cowth and the
theepe are walking in the gween fieldth. Pway who might have been the artitht of
thith mathleth producthion?"
"That is a secret," said the signora. "And now read these lines."
"Read them yourself, Bella," said the count. "No one can do justice
to them but you."
Isabella accordingly read the following stanzas in a tone of voice that added
a new charm to the words themselves:-
Twas midnight - and the beam of Cynthia shone
In company with many a lovely star,
Steeping in silver the huge Babylon
Whose countless habitations stretch afar,
valley, hill, and river's bank upon,
And in whose mighty heart all interests jar!-
O sovereign city of a thousand towers,
vice is cradled in thy princely bowers!
thou would'st view fair London-town aright.
her from the bridge of Waterloo;
And let the hour be at the morning's
the sun's earliest rays have struggled through
The star-bespangled curtain of the night.
And when Aurora's locks are moist with dew
Then take thy stand upon that
bridge, and see
London awake in all her majesty!
Then do her greatest features seem to crowd
Down to the river's brink :- then does she raise
From off her brow the
(Thus with her veil the coquette archly plays)
And for a moment shows her features, proud
To catch the Rembrandt light of the sun's rays:-
Then may the eye of the
steeple, column, dome, and pinnacle.
Yes - he may reckon temple, mart, and tower-
The old historic sites - the halls of kings -
The seats of art - the fortalice of
The ships that waft our commerce on their wings;-
these commingle in that dawning;
each into one common focus brings
Some separate moral of life's scenes so true,
As all those objects form
one point of view!
ceaseless hum of the huge Babylon
Has known no silence for a thousand years;
Still does her tide of human life flow on,
Still is she racked with sorrows,
hopes, and fears;
Still the sun sets, still morning dawns upon
Hearts full of anguish, eye-balls dimmed with tears;-
Still do the
millions toil to bless the few-
And hideous Want stalks all her pathways
"Beautiful - very beautiful!" exclaimed Captain
Dapper. "Strike me
if I ever heard more beautiful poetry!"
"Almotht ath good ath your lineth on the Thea therpent. Wath the poem
witten by the thame perthon that painted the landthcape?"
"The very same," answered Isabella. "His initials are in the corner."
"R. M. Who can that be?" exclaimed Dapper.
"Robert Montgomery, perhaps?" said Isabella, smiling with
charmingly arch expression of countenance.
"No - Wichard Markham!" cried Sir Cherry; and then be and
his friend the hussar captain were excessively annoyed to think that they had
been extolling to the skies the performance of an individual who had frightened
the one out of his wits, and boxed the ears of the other.
Thus passed the evening; but Markham was reserved and
melancholy. It was in vain that Isabella exerted herself to instil confidence
into his mind, by means of those thousand little attentions and manifestations
of preference which lovers know so well how to exhibit, but which those around
perceive not. Richard was firm in those resolutions which he deemed consistent
with propriety and honour; and he deeply regretted the explanation and its
consequences into which the enthusiasm of the moment had that evening led
At length the hour for retiring to rest arrived.
Richard repaired to his chamber - but not to sleep. His mind
was too much harassed by the events of the evening - the plans which he had
pursued, and those which be intended to pursue - the love which he bore to Isabel,
and the stern opposition which might be anticipated from her father - the
persecution to which he was subject at the hands of the Resurrection Man - and the
train of evil fortune which appeared constantly to attend upon him ;- of all
these he thought; and his painful meditations defied the advance of slumber.
The window of his bed-chamber overlooked the garden at the
back of the house; from which direction a strange and alarming noise suddenly
broke in upon his reflections. He listened - and all was quiet: he therefore felt
convinced that his terror was unfounded. A few moments elapsed; and he was again alarmed by a sound
which seemed like the jarring of an
unfastened shutter. A certain uneasiness now took possession of him; and he
was determined to ascertain whether all was safe about the premises. He leapt
from his bed, raised the window, and looked forth. The night was now pitch
dark; and he could distinguish nothing. Not even were the outlines of the
trees in the garden discernible amidst that profound and dense obscurity.
Markham held his breath; and the whispering of voices met his ears. He could
not, however, distinguish a word they uttered :-a low hissing continuous murmur,
the nature of which it was impossible to mistake, convinced him that some
persons were talking together immediately beneath his window. In a few moments
the jarring of a door or shutter, which he had before heard, was repeated; and
then the whispering ceased.
By this time his eyes had become accustomed to the darkness;
and he could now faintly discern the outlines of three human forms standing
together at the back door of the house. He could not, however, distinguish the precise nature of their present
employment. It was, nevertheless, evident to him that they were not there with
any honest intention in view; and he resolved to adopt immediate measures to
defeat their burglarious schemes. He hastily threw on his clothes, struck a
light, and issued from his room.
Cautiously advancing along a passage was the count, only
half-dressed, with a pistol in each hand, and a cutlass under his arm.
[-136-] "This is
fortunate!" whispered the count I was coming to
alarm you: there are thieves breaking in. You and I can manage them; it is of no use to
or Dapper. Take this cutlass and let us descend gently. Here come the men-servants."
The count hurried down stairs, followed by Markham, and the
three male domestics of the household.
A noise was beard in the pantry, which was situate at the
back of the house on the same level with the hall.
"Douse the darkey, blow the glim, and mizzle," cried a hoarse gruff
voice, as the count, Richard, and the servants approached the pantry:
"there a five on 'em - it's no use "
The count rushed forward, and burst open
the door of the pantry, closely followed by Markham, holding the candle.
Two of the burglars made a desperate push down the kitchen
stairs and escaped: the third was captured in an attempt to follow his
The light of the candle fell upon the villain a countenance,
which was literally ghastly with a mingled expression of rage and alarm.
Richard shuddered: for the captured burglar was no other than
the Resurrection Man.
"Wretch! " exclaimed Markham, recovering his
: "the law will at length reach you."
"What! do you know this fellow?" demanded the count,
somewhat surprised by the observation.
"Know me!" cried the Resurrection Man: - "of course
he does. But supposing some one was to tell you a piece of valuable
information, count - about a matter closely concerning yourself and family -
you be inclined to be merciful?"
"Of what nature is that information? It must be very
valuable indeed, if you think that I will enter into any compromise with such as
"Pledge me your word that you will let me go scot free,
and I will tell you something that concerns the peace and happiness - perhaps the
honour of your daughter."
"Miscreant!" cried Markham: " profane not that lady by
even alluding to her!"
"Stay - curse the fellow's impudence," said the count:
"perhaps he may really have somewhat worth communicating. At all events, I
will try him. Now, then, my man, what is it that you have to say? If your
statement be worth hearing I swear that I will neither molest you, nor suffer
you to be molested."
"Hold count," exclaimed Markham: "make no rash
vow - you
know not what a wretch "
"Silence, my dear friend," said the count authoritatively: " I will hear the man, let him be who or what he may!"
"And you will do well to hear me, sir," continued the
Resurrection Man. " You harbour a villain in your house; and that villain
is now before you. He boasts of having secured the affections of your daughter,
and hopes to gull you into allowing him to marry her."
"Miscreant - murderer!" exclaimed Markham, no longer able to
contain his indignation: "pollute not innocence itself by these allusions to a
lady whose spotless mind "
"Hush! said the count. "Let us hear patiently
all this man has to say. I can soon judge whether he be speaking the truth; and
if he deceives me, I will show him no mercy."
"But, count - allow me one word - I myself will unfold
"Excuse me, Markham,'' interrupted the Italian noble,
dignified firmness " I will hear this man first. Proceed!"
"The villain I allude to is of course that Markham,"
continued the Resurrection Man. "It was him, too, that induced me and my pals,
the Cracksman and the Buffer, to make this attempt upon your house to-night."
"What foul - what hideous calumny is this?" almost screamed the
distracted Markham, as this totally unexpected and unfounded accusation met his
The count himself was shocked at this announcement; for
he suddenly recollected Richard's moody, embarrassed, and thoughtful manner the
whole evening, and his sudden intention of departing the next day.
"Go on," said the count.
"I met that man," continued the body-snatcher pointing
contemptuously towards Markham, "a little more than a fortnight ago in this
neighbourhood: he was walking with your daughter, and it was in consequence of
certain little arrangements with me that he went back to London next day Oh! I
am well acquainted with all his movements."
"And you sought my life in a manner the most base
began Markham, unable to restrain his feelings.
"Silence, Markham!" exclaimed the count, still more
authoritatively than before. "Your time to speak will come."
"We planned this work while he was in London,"
continued the Resurrection Man; "and this very evening he told me over the
garden wall that all was right."
"Merciful God! " cried the count: "this is
but too true!"
"Yes, sir - I certainly spoke to him," said Richard,
- "and from
the garden too "
"Mr. Markham, this continued interruption is indecent,"
exclaimed the count emphatically, while a cold perspiration burst out upon his
forehead, for he had recalled to mind the incident respecting the garden.
"I have little more to add, count," said the Resurrection
Man. "This Markham told me that you had plenty of plate and money always in
the house, and as he had lost nearly all his property, he should not be
displeased at an opportunity of getting hold of a little swag. It was agreed
that we should meet in London to arrange the business; and so we did meet at the
Dark House in Brick Lane, where we settled the affair along with the Cracksman
and the Buffer, who have just made off. This is all I have to say
- unless it is that me and your friend Markham first got
acquainted in Newgate "
"Newgate!" ejaculated the count, with a thrill of
"Yes - Newgate; where he was waiting to be tried for
forgery, for which he got two years in the Compter. And that's all. Let him
deny it if he can."
Scarcely were these terrible words uttered by the
Resurrection Man, when a loud - long - and piercing scream was heard, coming from
the direction of the staircase; and then some object instantly fell with violence
upon the marble floor of the hall.
"Isabella! Isabella!" ejaculated Markham, turning
hastily round to hurry to her assistance.
"Stop, sir - seek not my daughter," cried the count, in a
stern voice, as he caught Richard's arm, and held him back. "Let not a soul stir
until my return!"
There was a noble and dignified air of command [-137-]
about Count Alteroni, as
he uttered these words which could
not escape the notice of Richard Markham, even amidst the crushing and
overwhelming circumstances that surrounded him.
The count took the candle from Markham a hand, and hastened
to the aid of his daughter, who, half-dressed, was lying upon the cold marble of
the hall. He hastened to raise her; and at that moment the countess appeared
upon the stairs, followed by a lady's-maid bearing a lamp.
The count reassured her in respect to the safety of the
house, consigned Isabella to her care, and then returned to the pantry, where
his presence was awaited in silence.
"Have you any thing more to say?" demanded the count of
the Resurrection Man.
"Nothing. Have not I said enough?"- and he glanced
with fiendish triumph towards Markham.
"Now, sir," said the count, turning to Richard; "is
the statement of this man easy to be refuted?"
"Alas! I am compelled to admit that, the victim of the
most extraordinary circumstantial evidence ever known to fix guilt upon an
innocent man, I was a prisoner in Newgate and the Compter; but "
"No more! say no more! God forgive me that I should have
allowed such a man to become the friend of my wife and daughter!"
The count uttered these words in a tone of intense agony.
"Count Alteroni, allow me one word of
Richard. "Only cast your eyes over this paper, and you will be convinced of
Markham handed the document signed by Talbot, alias Pocock,
to the count; but the nobleman tossed it indignantly on the floor.
"You have confessed that you have been an inmate of
the felons' gaols: what explanation can you give that will wipe away so foul a
stain? Depart - begone! defile not my house longer with your presence!"
Vainly did Markham endeavour to obtain a hearing. The count
silenced him with an air of command and an imposing dignity of manner that
struck him with awe. Never did the Italian nobleman appear more really noble
than when he was thus performing that which he considered to be an imperious duty. His fine form was
drawn up to its full height [-138-] - his
chest expanded - his cheeks were flushed - and his eyes
flashed fire. Yes - even beneath his dark complexion was the rich Italian blood
seen mantling his countenance.
"Go, sir - hasten your departure - stay not another minute
here! A man accused of forgery - condemned to an infamous punishment, - a liberated
felon - a freed convict in my family dwelling- Holy God! I can scarcely restrain
myself within the bounds of common patience when I think of the indignity that
myself, my wife, and my innocent daughter have endured."
With these words the colonel pushed Markham rudely from the
pantry, and ordered a servant to conduct him to the front door.
The blood of the young man boiled in his veins at this
ignominious treatment ;- and yet he dared not rebel against it!
The Resurrection Man took his departure at the same time by
the garden at the back of the house.
As Markham turned down the shrubbery, a window on the third
floor of the count's dwelling was thrown open; and the voices of Sir Cherry
Bounce and the Honourable Captain Dapper were heard loading him with abuse.
Bowed down to the earth by the weight of the misfortune which
had just fallen upon his head,- crushed by unjust and unfounded suspicions, -
sinking beneath a sense of shame and degradation, which all his innocence did
not deprive of a single pang, - Markham dragged himself away from the house in
which he had passed so many happy hours, and where he left behind him all that
he held dear in this life.
He seated himself upon a mile-stone at a little distance from
the Count's mansion, to which he turned his eyes to take a last farewell of the
place where Isabella resided.
Lights were moving about in several rooms ;- perhaps she was
Most assuredly she had heard the dread accusations which
had issued from the lips of the Resurrection Man against her lover ;- and she
would haply believe them all?
So thought Richard. Human language cannot convey an adequate
idea of the heart-rending misery which the poor oppressed young man endured as
he sate by the road-side, and pondered upon all that had just occurred.
Shame upon shame - degradation upon degradation -
mountain rolled on his breast, an if he were a modern Titan, to crush him and
keep him down - never more to rise ;- this was now his fate!
At length, afraid of being left alone with his own thoughts,
which seemed to urge him to end his earthly woes in the blood of a suicide, he
rose from the cold stone, turned one last sorrowful and lingering glance towards
the mansion in the distance, and then hurried along the road to Richmond as if
he were pursued by bloodhounds.
And not more fearful nor more appalling would those
bloodhounds have been than the horrible and excruciating thoughts which haunted
him upon his way, and of which he could not divest himself; so that at length a
species of delirium seized upon him as he ran furiously onward, the mark of Cain
appearing to burn like red-hot iron upon his brow, and a terrible voice
thundering in his ear- "FREED CONVICT!"
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