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and the voice of Jerry could distinctly be heard, as he swore that he thought his skull was broken; while his discourse in other respects seemed to bespeak a disordered mind.
How the circumstance happened Colin never could distinctly ascertain; but scarcely were they congratulating themselves on the success of their stratagem, when a loud cry from Jerry Clink, accompanied by a wild rush upon them, announced their discovery. Mr. Woodruff had been seated against the bank, and before him the friends now stood, resolved to defend him to the last. A tremendous scuffle ensued, during which Calvert and Veriquear conducted themselves. gallantly, and severely drubbed three of the assailants. Jerry, half frantic, yelled like a savage, till, in the confusion, the old man received from some unrecognised hand, whether friend or opponent was never known, another blow, which completed the work the former had left undone. He was seen to stand a moment, as though stunned; he tried to utter a curse upon him who had struck the blow; but exhausted nature refused the promptings of that savage spirit; his tongue sunk for ever silenced, and old Jerry dropped suddenly upon his back,-dead! This event put a termination to the engagement. The body of Jerry was carried off by his associates, and those they had attacked were left to pursue their journey.
In due time the party arrived at the village, where the vehicle was provided, and they were driven off to the Hall.
As for old Jerry, a coroner's inquest was subsequently held over his body, when the facts of his having met his death in the manner above described being clearly established, the usual verdict was returned. His corpse was committed to the ground, and the matter gradually subsided until it became forgotten.
Mr. Lupton was at the hall when the party arrived. There was also awaiting Mr. Colin a letter from Miss Jenny, which went far to destroy that pleasure which else he could not have failed to experience from the success of the enterprise. But, before this be commented on, it is necessary to record certain other little matters.
The story of Woodruff's liberation soon became known; and as Rowel's imprisonment had created no little sensation, the presence of so important a character excited universal attention.
Colin caused a messenger to be despatched to Fanny Woodruff, for the purpose of informing her of the arrival of her father at the Squire's mansion, and to appoint an hour when her meeting with him should take place, it being deemed advisable to allow some time to elapse before that meeting was permitted.
To recapitulate the circumstances attendant on that meeting forms no part of my design. It is enough to state, that the feelings of each were wrought up to the extreme; and that night scarcely separated them without tears.
Some time after, when the condition of all parties would allow of it without pain, an entertainment upon a large scale was given at the Hall, at which every one of the individuals most interested were present, besides a number of the neighbouring gentry, whose sympathies had been aroused in that story of persecution of which Mr. Woodruff had been the victim.
On this occasion it was that the blunt and honest Roger Calvert first became acquainted with Fanny Woodruff. They were sufficiently near the same age to constitute, in that respect, a proper
match. Fanny was by no means deficient in personal attractions, which were rather heightened than depreciated, by the delicate character her features had assumed since she made the painful discovery that the affection she had felt for Colin would never be returned. Grief and anxiety had spiritualised her looks, and attached a degree of interest to her appearance which it did not possess before; while the devotedness with which she watched her father conspired to stamp both her person and character with those requisites which recommend to the love of the discerning.
While Roger tarried at the Hall, he had frequent opportunities of remarking her character. So favourably did these interviews affect his sensitive bosom, that it soon became evident he meditated liming his twigs to catch the pretty bird. And though at the outset Fanny exhibited a reluctance to be wooed, yet at length her heart relented; she found, perhaps, in the disposition of Roger a better substitute for Colin than the chance of a thousand might give her as those two gentlemen were by no means opposite to each other. A reason this for listening with more early favour to his suit than she could have done to that of another. At the same time she heard Colin express himself in such terms of his friend, as could not fail to have considerable influence in predisposing her in his favour. Then, too, there was that strongest tie, gratitude for the part he had taken in restoring a parent whom she had lost. This amour caused Mr. Cal. vert to prolong his stay considerably; combined as it was with the solicitations of Mr. Lupton, who would not think of permitting so early a departure to the son of one of his dearest friends.
Fanny, it is almost unnecessary to relate, had declined the duties of Sylvester's house. The leisure thus afforded was taken advantag of by Roger, whose attentions to his daughter were marked by Mi Woodruff with pleasure, that gentleman feeling that no reward in his power to bestow could ever return the service rendered him. Still the greatest in his power to give, had he possessed worlds, would in his estimation have been the hand of so dear a child, with such a portion as would place her in ease for life.
Thus sanctioned by the smiles of her father, it is no wonder that her estimation of Roger daily grew more favourable, until at length she fairly yielded to receive him as an accepted lover.
With respect to Colin's mother, our hero seized the earliest opportunity to wait upon her with the assurance of his present happi. ness, as well as to convey to her a present of two hundred pounds. Mrs. Clink expressed herself in terms of satisfaction, but informed him that, as she could never enjoy a mother's highest delight and be a witness of her child's prosperity, it would be more congenial to her feelings to carry into execution a design she had formed of retiring to a distant part of the country, where, out of sight of all who might be to her, as she to them, a cause of unpleasant reflection, she could quietly pass the remaining portion of her life in humble endeavours to atone for the great error of her existence.
Colin wept over his mother. He saw too much good sense in her remarks to attempt to controvert them, although he strove as much as lay in his power to soften the asperity of the self-accusation with which they were intermingled. All he could promise was, that she should be made as happy as in this world we can hope to be; and that he would omit nothing calculated to reconcile her to herself.
Not to return to this subject, it may here be stated that before those final adventures were gone through which placed Colin at the summit of his happiness, Mrs. Clink carried out her views. She retired with a respectable sufficiency to a village in Derbyshire, where she dwelt in peaceful seclusion.
Let us begin with that communication from Miss Jenny previously adverted to. It ran as follows
'Since Mr. Clink quitted our house my mother has had much to say to me. During your absence, it seems to have become fixed that I shall never be happy. She has expressed her desire that I would beg of you to forget me. I never slept, but cried, my dearest Colin, all night. I am very ill now, and can scarce do anything but weep. Were 1 of that religion which permits such things, I would go into a convent, where no eye could see how heart-broken a creature is so soon made of the wretched, but devotedly affectionate-J. C.'
I cannot better describe the effect produced upon Colin by this epistle, than by stating that within ten minutes he formed a dozen different determinations to rescue the lady. He laid Miss Calvert's letter before her brother, who at once declared that were it his case he would run away with her at once.
This suggestion wonderfully coincided with Colin's state of feel ing, and in all probability he would have done so within the shortest given space, had not an event occurred which for the present caused him to set his design aside. This was the arrival of Mrs. Lupton.
Colin chanced to be in the garden when the carriage drove up. When it stopped, he saw that some lady descended from it, attended by two females, whose assistance appeared needful to enable her to walk into the house.
The sun shone brilliantly; and as her face was turned upwards Colin saw her eyes were not tearless, nor her heart at peace.
Our hero felt no doubt that he saw Mrs. Lupton. Nor was he mistaken. As she entered the hall she regarded everything with that interest which any individual might be supposed to feel, who after many years should turn over anew some record, wherein was shown the past as now being; save that it was a now which looked upon no future of possible joy, unless in that world which is beyond man's reach to darken or make sad.
As early after Mrs. Lupton's arrival as was consistent with the fatigue she had undergone, Mr. Lupton obtained an interview with her alone. In it, communications of deep interest must have been made, as the services of Mrs. Lupton's attendants were required to save her from fainting, while the eyes of her husband betrayed that on his part their conversation had not been conducted without tears.
That same evening Mr. Lupton conducted Colin to his lady, and presented him with the remark, 'This, madam, is the young man of whom I have spoken.' A gentle inclination seemed to mark that she understood what was said, though her reply betrayed that the years which had elapsed since last we saw her had produced no permaneut restoration of the then partly overthrown mind. She looked at Colin without emotion; and though she had never seen him before, remarked—
'Yes; I remember that face as well -nay better than any other; though it is more than twenty years since I saw it.'
It has already been remarked that Colin bore a strong resemblance to the Squire.
'And when,' she continued, 'shall I see it again?-Never! It went from me soon after I was wed.'
'Pray be calm,' interposed Mr. Lupton, in a kind tone. 'We will talk these matters over some future time.'
'And this favour,' continued Mrs. Lupton, 'I beg particularly-I would have no one put me out of this house any more. I will endure every thing patiently, and soon get out of the way where no man's snares shall ravel me again.'
Under the painful circumstance of this temporary alienation Mr. Lupton and Colin retired, leaving the unfortunate lady in the hands of her attendants, one of whom was her old companion, Miss Shirley.
After a few days, when Colin was again introduced to her, Mrs. Lupton had recovered her self-possession, and comprehended certain arrangements which Mr. Lupton had mentioned to her touching that young man. In these she quietly acquiesced, not because she felt any interest in them, but simply because her husband had proposed them. At the same time, while his every wish was hers, personally she felt that indifference not unusual with individuals who regard themselves as hopeless here, and, consequently, contemplate the world to come as their only place of refuge.
Whether this feeling was accelerated by an event which shortly after happened, and which, happily perhaps, put an end to all Mrs. Lupton's earthly sorrows, I will not pretend to divine; although it has been asserted, that the nearness of death will often produce exhibitions of feeling, as regards this world, never so fully made under other circumstances. It is not for the compiler of this history to speculate on such a subject; and, therefore the reader must here be informed, that, now Mrs. Lupton's faculties had returned, she stre nuously opposed-notwithstanding what we have previously recorded-the marriage of her young friend, Miss Calvert, with the hero of this book. On that one question only did she evince the least interest; but no sooner was she aware that he was the object of that affection which had caused Miss Calvert so much trouble, than she retired to her room, and addressed a letter to her.
The same post which placed it in Miss Calvert's hands, conveyed to her two others :-one from Colin, and the other from her brother Roger. Colin's contained all those passionate appeals which might have been expected. Judging from this epistle, Colin was in a state of desperation; and it concluded by expressing his determination never to relinquish his suit, though even Jenny herself should be induced to resist his addresses.
This spirited production at first inspired poor Jenny with momentary hope; more especially as she found, on opening her brother's letter, that he also advised her by no means to sacrifice her own happiness.
His remarks in some degree counteracted the bitterness of those which made her weep over Mrs. Lupton's letter, although they served to assist her in drawing a correct conclusion as to the cause of objection that her father saw in the parentage of Mr. Clink the bar to their union.
How long Jenny grieved I need not say, but grieve she did, until some that had known her slightly knew her not again; and those
who had known her best became most certain that if this was suffered to continue, a light heart was for ever exchanged for a sad one, and the creature whose presence had diffused happiness was converted into one of those melancholy beings over whose mind seems to have settled an everlasting cloud. Then it was that the obstinate began to soften. Everybody loved Jenny, and grieved to see her grief. So at length they proceeded, from the exertion of counterinfluences upon her, to the tacitly understood holding out of hope that matters might yet be arranged
Meanwhile, as the Squire's object in introducing his son to Mrs. Lupton had been fulfilled, Colin took the earliest opportunity to re. turn to London. But before we follow him the reader will, perhaps, be pleased to hear something respecting certain other characters, to whose interest, be it hoped, he does not feel indifferent.
In order that the charge brought against Rowel, of having been guilty of the murder of Skinwell, might be substantiated, Mr. Lupton had not omitted any means likely to conduce to that end; not the least important of which was the disinterment of the deceased's coffin in the church-yard of Bramleigh. This was undertaken with quietness; and a careful examination would, doubtless, have taken place, had it not been discovered, to everybody's amazement, on opening the grave, that somebody had been there before, and the corpse was gone. This fact was no sooner ascertained than speculations innumerable started into existence; and strange stories were published of lights having been seen in the church-yard after dark; of the sound of a spade having been heard there in the dead of nightthough when heard, or what favoured mortal had heard it, could not be precisely made out.
These things, however, ended as such things usually do, where they began. The mystery was never positively cleared up; although, on the examination of Dr. Rowel's establishment some time after, a circumstance occurred which gave ground for suspicion, that as that gentleman had been considerably cut up by the lawyer when alive, he had seized his opportunity to return the compliment. Every other description of evidence was obtained and arranged for the anticipated trial.
While the Doctor soliloquized in the castle at York, whither he had been removed, information was conveyed to him of the rescue of Woodruff, and of old Jerry's death. His brother-in-law thus free, Rowel gave up everything as lost, and for some time after the receipt of the news remained in a state of stupor. Regarding himself as abandoned by fortune, he so far lost spirit as to sink into one of the most abject creatures that ever breathed. Dreading the course which Woodruff might adopt, he caused a formal communication to be made to that injured individual, in which he bound himself not only to restore the estate so long withheld, but to make every restitution in his power for the injuries sustained; injuries for which no compensation could atone, but which he yet trusted might be regarded with mercy.
'Unworthy,' remarked Woodruff, when this statement was made to him-' unworthy as that man is, whom I cannot ever again name as a relation, yet I do not feel disposed to gratify any feeling of revenge. No; all I wish that man to do is, to be left to the reflection, that the evil labours of so many years have produced only a harvest