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their own agony.
Mas Ford did not expect her company back so soon, though she welcomed them with much pleasure; for she longed to know the particulars of the reunion. These were briefly told her, as well as the substance and issue of Henry's interview with Diamond. Like Andrew, she was inclined to be angry at the young man; for, good, bonest woman, she could not comprehend the nature of the difficulty, and thought the lovers had been doing nothing but creating
“It's doonricht foolishness," she said, looking seriously at Henry. “I daursay the like never happened afore. I'm shure, Mr Everly, ye dinna think Henry richt in this matter?”
“Well, really, Mrs Ford, I approve of it more than you would think. Taking former occurrences into consideration, I do not well see how Henry could honourably do otherwise. But this, of course, makes me only the more anxious and earnest to find out Henry's parents. Possibly, he is just as honourably born as any of us; and if this is the case, every barrier is removed, and the young people may be made happy. Now, our purpose in returning so soon is, to enter on this very interesting inquiry; and you must help us.” “Wi' a' my heart; but hoo can I?" asked Mrs Ford.
so I've telt ye baith
every thing that happened in this hoose.” " True; but we have not followed up your statements as we might have done,” rejoined Mr Everly. The bureau which was the lady's may contain a secret drawer, which may be able to throw light on the mystery, and it is in it that we intend to begin our search. Come to the room with us, we may need your assistance.”
They adjourned to the room where stood the bureau. Richard paused in front of it, and, gazing steadily upon it, ran back into the depths of memory, to shape out distinctly the dim associations which had ever been connected in his mind with the antique piece of furniture. But, as before, he was unsuccessful. The mental shadow, as he pursued it, grew not more distinct, and assumed no more definite form. It refused to come into the light, and submit to positive scrutiny.
“ This is most curious," he murmured. “I am certain that there is something connected with that bureau in my mind; but the thread of that connection, or its nature, I cannot find.”
By this time Henry had opened the drawer in which the more melancholy relics of his mother lay, particularly the newspaper, which evidently conveyed to her the intelligence which caused her sudden death.
“ That paper must be our first care,” said Richard, as Henry took it out and unfolded it.
A dark red stain ran across one of the pages. It was the mark of blood--the channel which the young mother's life-blood made for itself, when it leapt gushing from its fountain, to waste itself in the desert. The crimson stain was regarded with a silent, melancholy sadness, but no one spoke a word in reference to it.
“Let us look at the list of marriages," said Richard, and they turned to that part of the paper. It recorded, however, no name of note, and nothing here was suggestive of a clue. Paragraph after paragraph was next scanned attentively, but with a similar result, and they began to despair of gleaning any intelligence from this source,
“ Now for the bureau itself,” said Richard, who bad thrown his whole soul into the search, and was determined to carry
it thoroughly out. “Can you point out to us, Mrs Ford, to what part of the bureau the lady tossed the letter, when you heard the click of a spring, and saw it disappear?"
Mrs Ford pointed to the centre, where, towards the back, was a slight recess, but no joint or crevice to indicate that it was hollow. This spot they felt long and carefully; but, to all appearance it was solid, and formed a support to the back of the bureau. Everly was the last to give up the hope that a drawer was there, and continued to run his hand over every point of the surface, pressing his fingers in every conceivable way, after Henry and the landlady had ceased to expect anything. He, likewise, was on the point of reluctantly leaving off, when the chair on which his knee was resting slid a little on the carpet, and, to prevent himself from falling, he grasped with one hand a ledge which ran along the under part of the recess. In a moment, a sharp click was heard, and a square piece of wood shot back with the rapidity of lightning, revealing a cavity behind, in which lay something white. An exclamation issued from every mouth, and Henry, darting forward his hand, seized the paper.
• It's the very letter I saw!” cried Mrs Ford, in great excitement. " See, there's writin' on the back.”
There was writing on the back, but very little—nothing but “ Mr Rim in a fine, delicate, female hand. It seemed as if the writer had been suddenly interrupted when in the act of penning the address, and, owing to the interruption, had broken off. The letter was sealed, but at once opened by the flushed and impatient youth; and, while hastily unfolding it, the others pressed forward to read over his shoulder. The first words caused a thrill of joy to
pass through all hearts; for they were these--"My dear Husband."
Henry saw no more. With trembling hands he resigned the paper to Richard, and rushing to the bed, threw himself upon it, and shook with intense emotion.
“ That point, at least, is settled," said Richard, significantly. "Suppose we can glean nothing further, you cannot doubt your mother's word."
"Never," whispered Henry, with a sigh of satisfaction. “I am satisfied, quite satisfied.”
“But read awa, Mr Everly," exclaimed Mrs Ford; “read awa, and let us ken wha her husband is."
This information was not to be so easily gathered, however. letter was a long one, beautifully written, and full of the fondest and most 'endearing expressions. It abundantly showed that the writer was a happy, trusting wife and mother; and, from a natural interpretation of sentences, the readers learned that the marriage had been a private one, on account of anticipated opposition from his father--that the husband was heir to a title and estate, and the presumptive representative of an ancient, honourable house, One passage ran as follows:
"You tell me, dearest, that you expect soon to reveal all to your father, and secure his forgiveness. I will not say this prospect is not a joyful one to me; for, 0, I deeply feel our separation. You and my boy are all the wuuld to me; and it we could be together, I would ask nothing more to make my happiness complete. Yet, my dear husband, do not look upon this as a complaining murmur,
and be incited to make a premature discovery. It would make me for ever miserable to kuow that I had darkened or ruined your worldly prospects; and to avoid this, I would cheerfully remain here ten times longer. Thougli lonely enough, because you are absent, I am not friendless and alone. Mis Ford is very, very kind, and I have come to love her as a sister. Then I have my boy always with me, and he is a very fountain of joy and delight. What a noble, beautiful boy he is, dearest! and promises to be, in time, the image of his father. He has got your eyes already, as you know; and day by day do I see a new feature of him I love shining out from his face. o, methinks if you could put him into grandpa's arms when you tell him of your young wife, he would win a pardon for us both. No one, not even the most stern and hard-hearted, could resist his open countenance and winding way; and you have told me that Sir Henry is not in the main, a relentless or unforgiving man.
"Eh! isn't that bonny?" ejaculated Mrs Ford, with tearful eyes, as Richard read this portion. “It's just like her. I think it's her I hear speakin'enow. Puir, sweet angel! guid furgie me for
thochts! I thocht aye ye wasna marriet, but that Wis fause."
This was the only portion of the letter which threw light on the relation between writer and intended receiver; but this liglit was vague and dim en sugh, and all parties felt so when the paper was
read out. They ran over it again, thinking the second time to detect a word to lead them in some direction, but in vain. The only word likely to afford a detinite clue was in the passage just quoted-viz., šir Henry. Here Richard paused and reflected.
• That is our only hold,” he said. “Your father, Henry-your mother's husband-was, at the time the letter was penned, the son and heir of a baronet named Sir Henry. But Sir Henry what? Here lies the difficulty. Was the gentleman you saw a Scotchman, Mrs Ford ?”
“Rank Scotch, I'll be sworn," replied the landlady. “He didna speak broad, like Andrew and me, but just like yoursel'."
“ This narrows the ground, then, and lessens the difficulty," rejoined Everly. “We can easily find out all the Scotch baronets who at that time were named Sir Henry.”
Ay, and that spelt the beginnin' o' his last name wi' Riadded Mrs Ford.
* True, that is an important help,” observed Richard.
“Stay, I have an almanac containing the peerage," cried the excited Henry, taking down a volume from his little shelf of books, and eagerly turning over the leaves.
“ Look at the R's,” suggested Richard, breathlessly. Henry ran his eye quickly over them.
“ I can see nothing at all like the name, but Sir Henry Rockhart,” said the youth, glancing at Everly.
A quick, deep flush mounted to Richard's brow, and he turned to the back of the letter,
" That can't be it," he said. “This is unmistakably Ri, not Ro."
“But maybe the leddy meant that to be the first name,” suggested Mrs Ford.
6 In that case, it would have been Edward,” said Richard, in a bitter tone.
“Diamond surely said something of Sir Edward's elder brother having been killed,” observed Henry, reflectively.
“Ah! true; I forgot--that was Ringald," cried Richard, starting violently. “By Heavens! it is the very thing. Ri- -Gracious powers! if it should be so."
And he strode rapidly to and fro, his eyes flashing with wild fire, and his whole frame heaving with frenzied anticipation. Henry understood the cause of his excitement, and wished, as much for his friend's sake as his own, that it were true; for, on various accounts, he longed to see the humiliation of Sir Edward Rockhart.
“Quick, Henry, quick! Look at the newspaper again," he cried. “ Look at the deaths.”
Henry snatched up the Courant, and looked wildly over its
:lumns. The red blood-mark guided him to the place, for the
“MELANCHOLY AND FATAL ACCIDENT.-It has seldom been our lot to
“ It is, it must be so. There can be no mistake now; all, all is explained,” exclaimed Everly, in a state burdering on distraction.
Ringald Rockhart was the lady's husband; Henry, he was your father. You-great Heaven! you are the rightful owner of Rockhart Hull, and that man is a usurper! Ruined! ha, ruined! I can ruin him now. Henry, do you hear me! I shall ruin him-reduce him tu poverty, to beggary, to want, to starvation! You, the lawful huir, the defrauded one, shall cast him from his high position, shall demand of him every penny he has appropriated from the estate you shall relentlessly pursue him. Henry, you will, you will--tell me that
“Guid guide us! bairns, dinna gang sae fast," put in Mrs Ford, alarmed by their awful compact. “He's a villain, nae doot, that deserves the warst that can befa' him; but maybe he's uo in yer poor sue far as ye think, Ye hae nae proof yet chat Henry is this Maister Ringald's son.
“There can be no doubt about it,” said Richard, impetuously. “ That letter and paper put it beyond all question. Ha! I remember now about that bureau. Yes; I knew it had an association in my mind with something long past.
There is one exactly the same at Ruckhart Hall, and I knew that it belonged to Ringald."
“Ah! and another thing which Diamond told me this morning," exclaimed Henry.
** In the room she occupied, there hung a portrait wlsich strungly reminded her of me. That must have been the likeness of my father.”
“ Yes, yes; 'tis past conjecture-all things rise in proof,” said Richard, with wild exultation. “ That may a' be, and yet Sir Edward no in yer poor," contended