Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

t, and be


Thanks, dear lady, thanks," murmured Mrs Dogwood, in a Ned husky voice, while her eyes grew brimful of unshed tears. "Now, farewell! Our paths are separate, and I may not see you again; but I will account it a blessing to know that you are happy."

They warmly embraced each other, and Mrs Dogwood took her leave. Ned was now impatient to set out for the Mansion; and Diamond, getting her head encased in a bonnet which Mrs Oakham kindly forced upon her, intimated that she was ready to accompany him.


d, jous


[ocr errors]

he was

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

forgiveness, will you? My mind would be much easier if I knew that they had pardoned me."

"Doubt not that my best efforts will be made for this end," replied Diamond, kindly. "It was indeed wrong to yield to temptation as you did, and much sorrow must have been caused by the act; but you have now made all the atonement in your power, and, in the fulness of joy, which may be occasioned by my restoration to those whom you wounded, they may overlook, and forgive."


"But you will return, will you not?" asked Elizabeth, bending her mild, earnest eyes on the fair creature, whose face was at the moment flushed with excitement.

"I cannot say, as I mean to be guided by Mr Everly. But I will see you soon again. For the present, farewell; and Heaven bless you!"

In another moment, Diamond and her honest-hearted companion were walking side by side through the park. They were very silent, for the girl's mind was filled by thoughts of fast-coming experiences; and Ned, seeing her thus mentally occupied, had the good sense not to disturb her.

By-and-by they came in sight of the house, with its quaint old gables, pointed turrets, and massive masonry, and involuntarily Diamond paused; but after a quiet, steady look, went on as before, her breath coming quicker, and her heart beating faster.

"He will be able to tell me about Henry," she thought, "and Andrew, too, perhaps. Dear, good Andrew! I am sure my disappearance must have given him a sore blow."

"We had best go in by the kitchen door," said Ned, taking his companion round an angle of the building. She followed him closely, and they learned from one of the servants that Mr Everly was alone in the library.

"Tell him a lady wishes to see him," said Ned, with an assured air of importance.

"I-I would rather go to him unannounced," faltered Diamond to the girl. "If you would show me the door of the room, I would make bold to enter."

The servant looked at her in astonishment; but, by Ned's

direction, she obeyed this to her singular order; and having accompanied Diamond to the lobby, she left the latter standing at the library door.

Twice did the girl put out her hand to open it, but her courage failed, or rather her agitation grew so great as to prevent her entering. At length she timidly turned the handle, and pushed against the door. It yielded, swung slowly back, and she stood upon the threshold.

Richard was seated at a table reading, and naturally raised his head when he heard the noise. No sooner had he got a glimpse of the figure standing like a statue in the doorway, and gazing fixedly at him, than he became pale, and stared at her with horrified eyes. "Good Heaven!" he whispered, "do I dream? or is this a vision I see?"

"Mr Everly," said Diamond, in a timid voice, closing the door, and advancing to where he sat.

"What-what would you say?" faltered Richard, imagining that the spirit of the lost girl was before him.

"Do you not know me?" asked Diamond, puzzled by his singular look.

"Know you? yes, yes, I know you," answered Richard, shuddering. "But wherefore do you come to me?"

"For counsel and protection," pleaded the girl. "O, you do not suspect me, do you? My Edinburgh friends surely do not imagine that I am to blame for what has occurred? Oh! speak, and say that I am not deemed worthless or wicked!"

"Gracious powers! Miss Hunter !-Diamond! Is it you in flesh and blood?" cried Everly, starting half forward, and gazing at her with eager, inquiring eyes.

She smiled, for now she comprehended the cause of his horror. He likewise perceived that it was the girl herself who was before him; and, running forward, he took her joyfully by the hand. "Oh, what a surprise!" he exclaimed. "But where have you been? where have you come from? How are you here? Do unravel the mystery."

"First, pray tell me how is-I mean, how are all our Edinburgh friends?" inquired Diamond, with embarrassment.


They are all in an agony of doubt and apprehension on your account, but otherwise well. Henry, I need scarcely say, is distracted, and Andrew Pringle is equally distressed. But tell me all, and let us put an end to their agony as quickly as possible."

He tenderly led Diamond to a seat, took another by her side, and waited for her tale in breathless expectation. Diamond fluttered a good deal at first, for Mr Everly had ever appeared to her a person entitled to much respect. His griefs and sorrows rendered him an object of awe in her eyes; but the kindness and solicitude he now

[ocr errors][merged small][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

manifested, caused the feeling of diffidence to wear off; and while his dark eyes, brimful of eager interest, were bent upon her, she told with wonderful coherence the events of the past few days. She had resolved beforehand to let him have a full and minute statement of the circumstances; and these she unfolded exactly as we have given them to the reader.

She began at the moment when, returning from work, the strange woman had taken her aside at St Giles' Church, and by giving her to understand that she would lead her to her parents, induced her to promise to meet her in the Meadows at a later hour. She told how she went-of the carriage being there-how she was induced to enter it-the long night journey-the arrival at the Mansion-and her introduction to Sir Edward Rockhart.

[ocr errors]

At mention of that name, Richard nearly bounded from his chair, and a wild, frenzied light leapt into his eyes. "Go on," he exclaimed, eagerly, at the same time catching unconsciously at her arm.

She narrated the conversation which took place between her and the baronet; the proposal he made, and her indignant rejection; the mean bribes he offered, and the final threat he threw out. The wild look of excitement grew more intense on Richard's face as she proceeded. His eyes literally gleamed with a ferocious joy; and suddenly starting up, he exclaimed, vehemently, "At last, a way has opened up at last. O joy, joy! I shall now- -But I am forgetting myself. Miss Hunter, go on, go on." He sat down again, and listened, but not so attentively as before. He seemed to hear nothing but the facts which criminated the baronet. These he in a moment grasped. As she told of the adventures of the previous night, he smiled grimly. The rescue by Ned, the second attack, and the gamekeeper's unceremonious and ignominious treatment of Sir Edward, were the cause of unmixed satisfaction.

"Noble, faithful fellow!" he exclaimed. "I owe him an eternal debt of gratitude. And you, too, Miss Hunter. O, you do not know what a balm you have thrown upon my wounded heart. You have become the means of the fulfilment of my life-purpose. A glorious opportunity for revenge has come, and my soul runs madly out to meet it."

"I-I do not understand you, Mr Everly," said Diamond, looking wonderingly at him.

"No, of course you don't, my dear young lady. But this Sir Edward Rockhart is my bitterest foe. He blasted my life by his infernal cruelty; and ever since, I have only lived for vengeance. I have waited impatiently, fearing that a time for it would never but it has come-it has, and my oath shall yet be fulfilled. You still look puzzled. Has he not, by this outrage on you, committed the heaviest crime? The law will condemn him to the



most dreadful punishment it can inflict; he will be stript of his title and his wealth, and sent to the Hulks. O, to see his proud, haughty soul crushed out day by day among a horde of convicts! How I shall gloat on the spectacle! Heavens! how my seared heart shall rejoice over his degradation and his misery! I will watch his writhing countenance; I will listen to his groans; his agony will be increased tenfold by my laugh of triumph ever sounding in his ears. O, the prospect is sweet-sweet-sweet!"

Diamond shuddered. This revelation of a heart charged to the brim with nursed wrath startled, nay, appalled her. She knew that Richard had suffered, fearfully suffered, at the hands of his father. in-law; but she dreamed not that the sad, solitary man whom she had often seen at Mrs Ford's, and whom Henry spoke so highly of, cherished such bitterness in his nature, such vindictive, fiendish longings, such a deliberate and intense desire for revenge. Yet she must hasten to undeceive him-to tell him that the opportunity he seeks has not come yet, hoping, as she says so, in her secret, gentle soul, that it may never arrive.

She watched for a few moments the excited, almost maddened man, walking to and fro with eager strides, and, with pity, gentleness, and fear struggling in her heart, she timidly addressed him. "The baronet, after he was bound, sought an interview with me."


Ay, doubtless. He saw the game was up, and wished to play upon your pity. Poor baffled fool!"

"I consented to see him," said Diamond, quietly.

"To see him! why to see him? Ha, yes; that you might taunt him, and triumph over his ignominy. Good, good, very good. It was a brave resolution."

"You mistake, Mr Everly," continued Diamond, in the same quiet tone. "I cherished not the feelings you impute to me. I guessed his object, and was right. We came to terms, and he was released."

"You don't mean to

"Released!" shrieked Everly, furiously. say that he is at liberty?"


"We compromised the matter, and"Compromised!" again echoed the young man, in a paroxysm passion. "You do not mean it-that he has gone, and is at liberty to flee from justice?"

"He is free," answered Diamond, calmly-"free from all molestation as regards the wrong he did me."


"Never, never! He shall be pursued and taken, this very this very hour. I shall go at once, and send the officers of justice to apprehend him. At last, O my Mary, at last thou shalt be avenged!"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]



In his wild, ungovernable excitement, Mr Everly was about to rush from the room; but Diamond placed her hand gently on his arm, and restrained him. With a confidence and a firmness which she knew not how she had gained, she gazed steadily into his flashing eyes, and quailed not before their terrible glance. Hold, Mr Everly," she said. "You mistake, you forget. I have promised that no steps shall be taken against Sir Edward Rockhart.'


"But this was not a voluntary promise. He threatened you. It was fear that made you do it."

"It was not fear. It was my wish. I received an equivalent for forbearance."

"It matters not; his cunniug shall not avail him. He who showed no mercy, shall find none. Let me go; he may yet escape."

"You will not, Mr Everly-you will not do such a thing."

"What! you expect me to forego my vengeance, after waiting so long for it? I have sought this opportunity night and day sincesince- -no matter, it has come at last, and yet you ask me to forbear. Come, cease this foolishness, Let me go, I say. What, ho! my horse there, my horse


"Mr Everly, you have no right, sir, to sacrifice my honour in this
selfish way," exclaimed Diamond, firmly, at the same time placing
herself between him and the door. This is my affair. It concerns
my character and fair fame; and these you would wantonly trample
down, to gratify a sinful passion of your own.
Have you no
manhood, no generosity?"

"Away, away! I would sacrifice the world-you-myself-to
secure my vengeance. Let me go, I say, let me go."
"You will not," cried Diamond, clinging to him.
of your dead wife, I ask you to forbear."

"In the name

He started as if a dagger had entered his heart, and, staggering,
would have fallen, had not the weak, yet at the moment strong,
girl supported him to a chair which was near. A death-like pale-
ness came over his face, then a sob came struggling up from the
depths of his crushed heart, another, and another, till tears came in
torrents, and the strong man wept like a child.
He had not wept
so since the blight had fallen upon him, and his scorched soul
required this beneficent shower. Diamond gazed and hung over

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »