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   Chapter 14 No.14

Basil By Wilkie Collins Characters: 79185

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


On the fourth day from the morning when she had died, I stood alone in the churchyard by the grave of Margaret Sherwin.

It had been left for me to watch her dying moments; it was left for me to bestow on her remains the last human charity which the living can extend to the dead. If I could have looked into the future on our fatal marriage-day, and could have known that the only home of my giving which she would ever inhabit, would be the home of the grave!-

Her father had written me a letter, which I destroyed at the time; and which, if I had it now, I should forbear from copying into these pages. Let it be enough for me to relate here, that he never forgave the action by which she thwarted him in his mercenary designs upon me and upon my family; that he diverted from himself the suspicion and disgust of his wife's surviving relatives (whose hostility he had some pecuniary reasons to fear), by accusing his daughter, as he had declared he would accuse her, of having been the real cause of her mother's death; and that he took care to give the appearance of sincerity to the indignation which he professed to feel against her, by refusing to follow her remains to the place of burial.

Ralph had returned to London, as soon as he received the letter from Mr. Bernard which I had forwarded to him. He offered me his assistance in performing the last duties left to my care, with an affectionate earnestness that I had never seen him display towards me before. But Mr. Bernard had generously undertaken to relieve me of every responsibility which could be assumed by others; and on this occasion, therefore, I had no need to put my brother's ready kindness in helping me to the test.

I stood alone by the grave. Mr. Bernard had taken leave of me; the workers and the idlers in the churchyard had alike departed. There was no reason why I should not follow them; and yet I remained, with my eyes fixed upon the freshly-turned earth at my feet, thinking of the dead.

Some time had passed thus, when the sound of approaching footsteps attracted my attention. I looked up, and saw a man, clothed in a long cloak drawn loosely around his neck, and wearing a shade over his eyes, which hid the whole upper part of his face, advancing slowly towards me, walking with the help of a stick. He came on straight to the grave, and stopped at the foot of it-stopped opposite me, as I stood at the head.

"Do you know me again?" he said. "Do you know me for Robert Mannion?" As he pronounced his name, he raised the shade and looked at me.

The first sight of that appalling face, with its ghastly discolouration of sickness, its hideous deformity of feature, its fierce and changeless malignity of expression glaring full on me in the piercing noonday sunshine-glaring with the same unearthly look of fury and triumph which I had seen flashing through the flashing lightning, when I parted from him on the night of the storm-struck me speechless where I stood, and has never left me since. I must not, I dare not, describe that frightful sight; though it now rises before my imagination, vivid in its horror as on the first day when I saw it-though it moves hither and thither before me fearfully, while I write; though it lowers at my window, a noisome shadow on the radiant prospect of earth, and sea, and sky, whenever I look up from the page I am now writing towards the beauties of my cottage view.

"Do you know me for Robert Mannion?" he repeated. "Do you know the work of your own hands, now you see it? Or, am I changed to you past recognition, as your father might have found my father changed, if he had seen him on the morning of his execution, standing under the gallows, with the cap over his face?"

Still I could neither speak nor move. I could only look away from him in horror, and fix my eyes on the ground.

He lowered the shade to its former position on his face, then spoke again.

"Under this earth that we stand on," he said, setting his foot on the grave; "down here, where you are now looking, lies buried with the buried dead, the last influence which might one day have gained you respite and mercy at my hands. Did you think of the one, last chance that you were losing, when you came to see her die? I watched you, and I watched her. I heard as much as you heard; I saw as much as you saw; I know when she died, and how, as you know it; I shared her last moments with you, to the very end. It was my fancy not to give her up, as your sole possession, even on her death-bed: it is my fancy, now, not to let you stand alone-as if her corpse was your property-over her grave!"

While he uttered the last words, I felt my self-possession returning. I could not force myself to speak, as I would fain have spoken-I could only move away, to leave him.

"Stop," he said, "what I have still to say concerns you. I have to tell you, face to face, standing with you here, over her dead body, that what I wrote from the hospital, is what I will do; that I will make your whole life to come, one long expiation of this deformity;" (he pointed to his face), "and of that death" (he set his foot once more on the grave). "Go where you will, this face of mine shall never be turned away from you; this tongue, which you can never silence but by a crime, shall awaken against you the sleeping superstitions and cruelties of all mankind. The noisome secret of that night when you followed us, shall reek up like a pestilence in the nostrils of your fellow-beings, be they whom they may. You may shield yourself behind your family and your friends-I will strike at you through the dearest and the bravest of them! Now you have heard me, go! The next time we meet, you shall acknowledge with your own lips that I can act as I speak. Live the free life which Margaret Sherwin has restored to you by her death-you will know it soon for the life of Cain!"

He turned from the grave, and left me by the way that he had come; but the hideous image of him, and the remembrance of the words he had spoken, never left me. Never for a moment, while I lingered alone in the churchyard; never, when I quitted it, and walked through the crowded streets. The horror of the fiend-face was still before my eyes, the poison of the fiend-words was still in my ears, when I returned to my lodging, and found Ralph waiting to see me as soon as I entered my room.

"At last you have come back!" he said; "I was determined to stop till you did, if I stayed all day. Is anything the matter? Have you got into some worse difficulty than ever?"

"No, Ralph-no. What have you to tell me?"

"Something that will rather surprise you, Basil: I have to tell you to leave London at once! Leave it for your own interests and for everybody else's. My father has found out that Clara has been to see you."

"Good heavens! how?"

"He won't tell me. But he has found it out. You know how you stand in his opinion-I leave you to imagine what he thinks of Clara's conduct in coming here."

"No! no! tell me yourself, Ralph-tell me how she bears his displeasure!"

"As badly as possible. After having forbidden her ever to enter this house again, he now only shows how he is offended, by his silence; and it is exactly that, of course, which distresses her. Between her notions of implicit obedience to him, and her opposite notions, just as strong, of her sisterly duties to you, she is made miserable from morning to night. What she will end in, if things go on like this, I am really afraid to think; and I'm not easily frightened, as you know. Now, Basil, listen to me: it is your business to stop this, and my business to tell you how."

"I will do anything you wish-anything for Clara's sake!"

"Then leave London; and so cut short the struggle between her duty and her inclination. If you don't, my father is quite capable of taking her at once into the country, though I know he has important business to keep him in London. Write a letter to her, saying that you have gone away for your health, for change of scene and peace of mind-gone away, in short, to come back better some day. Don't say where you're going, and don't tell me, for she is sure to ask, and sure to get it out of me if I know. Then she might be writing to you, and that might be found out, too. She can't distress herself about your absence, if you account for it properly, as she distresses herself now-that is one consideration. And you will serve your own interests, as well as Clara's, by going away-that is another."

"Never mind my interests. Clara! I can only think of Clara!"

"But you have interests, and you must think of them. I told my father of the death of that unhappy woman, and of your noble behaviour when she was dying. Don't interrupt me, Basil-it was noble; I couldn't have done what you did, I can tell you! I saw he was more struck by it than he was willing to confess. An impression has been made on him by the turn circumstances have taken. Only leave that impression to strengthen, and you're safe. But if you destroy it by staying here, after what has happened, and keeping Clara in this new dilemma-my dear fellow, you destroy your best chance! There is a sort of defiance of him in stopping; there is a downright concession to him in going away."

"I will go, Ralph; you have more than convinced me that I ought! I will go to-morrow, though where-"

"You have the rest of the day to think where. I should go abroad and amuse myself; but your ideas of amusement are, most likely, not mine. At any rate, wherever you go, I can always supply you with money, when you want it; you can write to me, after you have been away some little time, and I can write back, as soon as I have good news to tell you. Only stick to your present determination, Basil, and, I'll answer for it, you will be back in your own study at home, before you are many months older!"

"I will put it out of my power to fail in my resolution, by writing to Clara at once, and giving you the letter to place in her hands to-morrow evening, when I shall have left London some hours."

"That's right, Basil! that's acting and speaking like a man!"

I wrote immediately, accounting for my sudden absence as Ralph had advised me-wrote, with a heavy heart, all that I thought would be most reassuring and cheering to Clara; and then, without allowing myself time to hesitate or to think, gave the letter to my brother.

"She shall have it to-morrow night," he said, "and my father shall know why you have left town, at the same time. Depend on me in this, as in everything else. And now, Basil, I must say good bye-unless you're in the humour for coming to look at my new house this evening. Ah! I see that won't suit you just now, so, good bye, old fellow! Write when you are in any necessity-get back your spirits and your health-and never doubt that the step you are now taking will be the best for Clara, and the best for yourself!"

He hurried out of the room, evidently feeling more at saying farewell than he was willing to let me discover. I was left alone for the rest of the day, to think whither I should turn my steps on the morrow.

I knew that it would be best that I should leave England; but there seemed to have grown within me, suddenly, a yearning towards my own country that I had never felt before-a home-sickness for the land in which my sister lived. Not once did my thoughts wander away to foreign places, while I now tried to consider calmly in what direction I should depart when I left London.

While I was still in doubt, my earliest impressions of childhood came back to my memory; and influenced by them, I thought of Cornwall. My nurse had been a Cornish woman; my first fancies and first feelings of curiosity had been excited by her Cornish stories, by the descriptions of the scenery, the customs, and the people of her native land, with which she was ever ready to amuse me. As I grew older, it had always been one of my favourite projects to go to Cornwall, to explore the wild western land, on foot, from hill to hill throughout. And now, when no motive of pleasure could influence my choice-now, when I was going forth homeless and alone, in uncertainty, in grief, in peril-the old fancy of long-past days still kept its influence, and pointed out my new path to me among the rocky boundaries of the Cornish shore.

My last night in London was a night made terrible by Mannion's fearful image in all my dreams-made mournful, in my waking moments, by thoughts of the morrow which was to separate me from Clara. But I never faltered in my resolution to leave London for her sake. When the morning came, I collected my few necessaries, added to them one or two books, and was ready to depart.

My way through the streets took me near my father's house. As I passed by the well-remembered neighbourhood, my self-control so far deserted me, that I stopped and turned aside into the Square, in the hope of seeing Clara once more before I went away. Cautiously and doubtfully, as if I was a trespasser even on the public pavement, I looked up at the house which was no more my home-at the windows, side by side, of my sister's sitting-room and bed-room. She was neither standing near them, nor passing accidentally from one room to another at that moment. Still I could not persuade myself to go on. I thought of many and many an act of kindness that she had done for me, which I seemed never to have appreciated until now-I thought of what she had suffered, and might yet suffer, for my sake-and the longing to see her once more, though only for an instant, still kept me lingering near the house and looking up vainly at the lonely windows.

It was a bright, cool, autumnal morning; perhaps she might have gone out into the garden of the square: it used often to be her habit, when I was at home, to go there and read at this hour. I walked round, outside the railings, searching for her between gaps in the foliage; and had nearly made the circuit of the garden thus, before the figure of a lady sitting alone under one of the trees, attracted my attention. I stopped-looked intently towards her-and saw that it was Clara.

Her face was almost entirely turned from me; but I knew her by her dress, by her figure-even by her position, simple as it was. She was sitting with her hands on a closed book which rested on her knee. A little spaniel that I had given her lay asleep at her feet: she seemed to be looking down at the animal, as far as I could tell by the position of her head. When I moved aside, to try if I could see her face, the trees hid her from sight. I was obliged to be satisfied with the little I could discern of her, through the one gap in the foliage which gave me a clear view of the place where she was sitting. To speak to her, to risk the misery to both of us of saying farewell, was more than I dared trust myself to do. I could only stand silent, and look at her-it might be for the last time!-until the tears gathered in my eyes, so that I could see nothing more. I resisted the temptation to dash them away. While they still hid her from me-while I could not see her again, if I would-I turned from the garden view, and left the Square.

Amid all the thoughts which thronged on me, as I walked farther and farther away from the neighbourhood of what was once my home; amid all the remembrances of past events-from the first day when I met Margaret Sherwin to the day when I stood by her grave-which were recalled by the mere act of leaving London, there now arose in my mind, for the first time, a doubt, which from that day to this has never left it; a doubt whether Mannion might not be tracking me in secret along every step of my way.

I stopped instinctively, and looked behind me. Many figures were moving in the distance; but the figure that I had seen in the churchyard was nowhere visible among them. A little further on, I looked back again, and still with the same result. After this, I let a longer interval elapse before I stopped; and then, for the third time, I turned round, and scanned the busy street-scene behind me, with eager, suspicious eyes. Some little distance back, on the opposite side of the way, I caught sight of a man who was standing still (as I was standing), amid the moving throng. His height was like Mannion's height; and he wore a cloak like the cloak I had seen on Mannion, when he approached me at Margaret's grave. More than this I could not detect, without crossing over. The passing vehicles and foot-passengers constantly intercepted my view, from the position in which I stood.

Was this figure, thus visible only by intervals, the figure of Mannion? and was he really tracking my steps? As the suspicion strengthened in my mind that it was so, the remembrance of his threat in the churchyard: "You may shield yourself behind your family and your friends: I will strike at you through the dearest and the bravest of them-" suddenly recurred to me; and brought with it a thought which urged me instantly to proceed on my way. I never looked behind me again, as I now walked on; for I said within myself:-"If he is following me, I must not, and will not avoid him: it will be the best result of my departure, that I shall draw after me that destroying presence; and thus at least remove it far and safely away from my family and my home!"

So, I neither turned aside from the straight direction, nor hurried my steps, nor looked back any more. At the time I had resolved on, I left London for Cornwall, without making any attempt to conceal my departure. And though I knew that he must surely be following me, still I never saw him again: never discovered how close or how far off he was on my track.

* * *

Two months have passed since that period; and I know no more about him now than I knew then.

JOURNAL.

October 19th-My retrospect is finished. I have traced the history of my errors and misfortunes, of the wrong I have done and the punishment I have suffered for it, from the past to the present time.

The pages of my manuscript (many more than I thought to write at first) lie piled together on the table before me. I dare not look them over: I dare not read the lines which my own hand has traced. There may be much in my manner of writing that wants alteration; but I have no heart to return to my task, and revise and reconsider as I might if I were intent on producing a book which was to be published during my lifetime. Others will be found, when I am no more, to carve, and smooth, and polish to the popular taste of the day this rugged material of Truth which I shall leave behind me.

But now, while I collect these leaves, and seal them up, never to be opened again by my hands, can I feel that I have related all which it is necessary to tell? No! While Mannion lives-while I am ignorant of the changes that may yet be wrought in the home from which I am exiled-there remains for me a future which must be recorded, as the necessary sequel to the narrative of the past. What may yet happen worthy of record, I know not: what sufferings I may yet undergo, which may unfit me for continuing the labour now terminated for a time, I cannot foresee. I have not hope enough in the future, or in myself; to believe that I shall have the time or the energy to write hereafter, as I have written already, from recollection. It is best, then, that I should note down events daily as they occur; and so ensure, as far as may be, a continuation of my narrative, fragment by fragment, to the very last.

But, first, as a fit beginning to the Journal I now propose to keep, let me briefly reveal something, in this place, of the life that I am leading in my retirement on the Cornish coast.

The fishing hamlet in which I have written the preceding pages, is on the southern shore of Cornwall, not more than a few miles distant from the Land's End. The cottage I inhabit is built of rough granite, rudely thatched, and has but two rooms. I possess no furniture but my bed, my table, and my chair; and some half-dozen fishermen and their families are my only neighbours. But I feel neither the want of luxuries, nor the want of society: all that I wished for in coming here, I have-the completest seclusion.

My arrival produced, at first, both astonishment and suspicion. The fishermen of Cornwall still preserve almost all the superstitions, even to the grossest, which were held dear by their humble ancestors, centuries back. My simple neighbours could not understand why I had no business to occupy me; could not reconcile my worn, melancholy face with my youthful years. Such loneliness as mine looked unnatural-especially to the women. They questioned me curiously; and the very simplicity of my answer, that I had only come to Cornwall to live in quiet, and regain my health, perplexed them afresh. They waited, day after day, when I was first installed in the cottage, to see letters sent to me-and no letters arrived: to see my friends join me-and no friends came. This deepened the mystery to their eyes. They began to recall to memory old Cornish legends of solitary, secret people who had lived, years and years ago, in certain parts of the county-coming, none knew whence; existing, none knew by what means; dying and disappearing, none knew when. They felt half inclined to identify me with these mysterious visitors-to consider me as some being, a stranger to the whole human family, who had come to waste away under a curse, and die ominously and secretly among them. Even the person to whom I first paid money for my necessaries, questioned, for a moment, the lawfulness and safety of receiving it!

But these doubts gradually died away; this superstitious curiosity insensibly wore off, among my poor neighbours. They became used to my solitary, thoughtful, and (to them) inexplicable mode of existence. One or two little services of kindness which I rendered, soon after my arrival, to their children, worked wonders in my favour; and I am pitied now, rather than distrusted. When the results of the fishing are abundant, a little present has been often made to me, out of the nets. Some weeks ago, after I had gone out in the morning, I found on my return, two or three gulls' eggs placed in a basket before my door. They had been left there by the children, as ornaments for my cottage window-the only ornaments they had to give; the only ornaments they had ever heard of.

I can now go out unnoticed, directing my steps up the ravine in which our hamlet is situated, towards the old grey stone church which stands solitary on the hill-top, surrounded by the lonesome moor. If any children happen to be playing among the scattered tombs, they do not start and run away, when they see me sitting on the coffin stone at the entrance of the churchyard, or wandering round the sturdy granite tower, reared by hands which have mouldered into dust centuries ago. My approach has ceased to be of evil omen for my little neighbours. They just look up at me, for a moment, with bright smiles, and then go on with their game.

From the churchyard, I look down the ravine, on fine days, towards the sea. Mighty piles of granite soar above the fishermen's cottages on each side; the little strip of white beach which the cliffs shut in, glows pure in the sunlight; the inland stream that trickles down the bed of the rocks, sparkles, at places, like a rivulet of silver-fire; the round white clouds, with their violet shadows and bright wavy edges, roll on majestically above me; the cries of the sea-birds, the endless, dirging murmur of the surf, and the far music of the wind among the ocean caverns, fall, now together, now separately on my ear. Nature's voice and Nature's beauty-God's soothing and purifying angels of the soul-speak to me most tenderly and most happily, at such times as these.

It is when the rain falls, and wind and sea arise together-when, sheltered among the caverns in the side of the precipice, I look out upon the dreary waves and the leaping spray-that I feel the unknown dangers which hang over my head in all the horror of their uncertainty. Then, the threats of my deadly enemy strengthen their hold fearfully on all my senses. I see the dim and ghastly personification of a fatality that is lying in wait for me, in the strange shapes of the mist which shrouds the sky, and moves, and whirls, and brightens, and darkens in a weird glory of its own over the heaving waters. Then, the crash of the breakers on the reef howls upon me with a sound of judgment; and the voice of the wind, growling and battling behind me in the hollows of the cave, is, ever and ever, the same thunder-voice of doom and warning in my ear.

Does this foreboding that Mannion's eye is always on me, that his footsteps are always secretly following mine, proceed only from the weakness of my worn-out energies? Could others in my situation restrain themselves from fearing, as I do, that he is still incessantly watching me in secret? It is possible. It may be, that his terrible connection with all my sufferings of the past, makes me attach credit too easily to the destroying power which he arrogates to himself in the future. Or it may be, that all resolution to resist him is paralysed in me, not so much by my fear of his appearance, as by my uncertainty of the time when it will take place-not so much by his menaces themselves, as by the delay in their execution. Still, though I can estimate fairly the value of these considerations, they exercise over me no lasting influence of tranquillity. I remember what this man has done; and in spite of all reasoning, I believe in what he has told me he will yet do. Madman though he may be, I have no hope of defence or escape from him in any direction, look where I will.

But for the occupation which the foregoing narrative has given to my mind; but for the relief which my heart can derive from its thoughts of Clara, I must have sunk under the torment of suspense and suspicion in which my life is now passed. My sister! Even in this self-imposed absence from her, I have still found a means of connecting myself remotely with something that she loves. I have taken, as the assumed name under which I live, and shall continue to live until my father has given me back his confidence and his affection, the name of a little estate that once belonged to my mother, and that now belongs to her daughter. Even the most wretched have their caprice, their last favourite fancy. I possess no memorial of Clara, not even a letter. The name that I have taken from the place which she was always fondest and proudest of, is, to me, what a lock of hair, a ring, any little loveable keepsake, is to others happier than I am.

I have wandered away from the simple details of my life in this place. Shall I now return to them? Not to-day; my head burns, my hand is weary. If the morrow should bring with it no event to write of, on the morrow I can resume the subject from which I now break off.

October 20th.-After laying aside my pen, I went out yesterday for the purpose of renewing that former friendly intercourse with my poor neighbours, which has been interrupted for the last three weeks by unintermitting labour at the latter portions of my narrative.

In the course of my walk among the cottages and up to the old church on the moor, I saw fewer of the people of the district than usual. The behaviour of those whom I did chance to meet, seemed unaccountably altered; perhaps it was mere fancy, but I thought they avoided me. One woman abruptly shut her cottage door as I approached. A fisherman, when I wished him good day, hardly answered; and walked on without stopping to gossip with me as usual. Some children, too, whom I overtook on the road to the church, ran away from me, making gestures to each other which I could not understand. Is the first superstitious distrust of me returning after I thought it had been entirely overcome? Or are my neighbours only showing their resentment at my involuntary neglect of them for the last three weeks? I must try to find out to-morrow.

21st-I have discovered all! The truth, which I was strangely slow to suspect yesterday, has forced itself on me to-day.

I went out this morning, as I had purposed, to discover whether my neighbours had really changed towards me, or not, since the interval of my three weeks' seclusion. At the cottage-door nearest to mine, two young children were playing, whom I knew I had succeeded in attaching to me soon after my arrival. I walked up to speak to them; but, as I approached, their mother came out, and snatched them from me with a look of anger and alarm. Before I could question her, she had taken them inside the cottage, and had closed the door.

Almost at the same moment, as if by a preconcerted signal, three or four other women came out from their abodes at a little distance, warned me in loud, angry voices not to come near them, or their children; and disappeared, shutting their doors. Still not suspecting the truth, I turned back, and walked towards the beach. The lad whom I employ to serve me with provisions, was lounging there against the side of an old boat. At seeing me, he started up, and walked away a few steps-then stopped, and called out-

"I'm not to bring you anything more; father says he won't sell to you again, whatever you pay him."

I asked the boy why his father had said that; but he ran back towards the village without answering me.

"You had best leave us," muttered a voice behind me. "If you don't go of your own accord, our people will starve you out of the place."

The man who said these words, had been one of the first to set the example of friendliness towards me, after my arrival; and to him I now turned for the explanation which no one else would give me.

"You know what we mean, and why we want you to go, well enough," was his reply.

I assured him that I did not; and begged him so earnestly to enlighten me, that he stopped as he was walking away.

"I'll tell you about it," he said; "but not now; I don't want to be seen with you." (As he spoke he looked back at the women, who were appearing once more in front of their cottages.) "Go home again, and shut yourself up; I'll come at dusk."

And he came as he had promised. But when I asked him to enter my cottage, he declined, and said he would talk to me outside, at my window. This disinclination to be under my roof, reminded me that my supplies of food had, for the last week, been left on the window-ledge, instead of being brought into my room as usual. I had been too constantly occupied to pay much attention to the circumstance at the time; but I thought it very strange now.

"Do you mean to tell me you don't suspect why we want to get you out of our place here?" said the man, looking in distrustfully at me through the window.

I repeated that I could not imagine why they had all changed towards me, or what wrong they thought I had done them.

"Then I'll soon let you know it," he continued. "We want you gone from here, because-"

"Because," interrupted another voice behind him, which I recognised as his wife's, "because you're bringing a blight on us, and our houses-because we want our children's faces left as God made them-"

"Because," interposed a second woman, who had joined her, "you're bringing devil's vengeances among Christian people! Come back, John! he's not safe for a true man to speak to."

They dragged the fisherman away with them before he could say another word. I had heard enough. The fatal truth burst at once on my mind. Mannion had followed me to Cornwall: his threats were executed to the very letter!

(10 o'clock.)-I have lit my candle for the last time in this cottage, to add a few lines to my journal. The hamlet is quiet; I hear no footstep outside-and yet, can I be certain that Mannion is not lurking near my door at this moment?

I must go when the morning comes; I must leave this quiet retreat, in which I have lived so calmly until now. There is no hope that I can reinstate myself in the opinions of my poor neighbours. He has arrayed against me the pitiless hostility of their superstition. He has found out the dormant cruelties, even in the hearts of these simple people; and has awakened them against me, as he said he would. The evil work must have been begun within the last three weeks, while I was much within doors, and there was little chance of meeting me in my usual walks. How that work was accomplished it is useless to inquire; my only object now, must be to prepare myself at once for departure.

(11 o'clock.)-While I was putting up my few books, a minute ago, a little embroidered marker fell out of one of them, which I had not observed in the pages before; and which I recognised as having been worked for me by Clara. I have a memorial of my sister in my possession, after all! Trifling as it is, I shall preserve it about me, as a messenger of consolation in the time of adversity and peril.

(1 o'clock.)-The wind sweeps down on us, from off the moorland, in fiercer and fiercer gusts; the waves dash heavily against our rock promontory; the rain drifts wildly past my windows; and the densest darkness overspreads the whole sky. The storm which has been threatening for some days, is gathering fast.

(Village of Treen, October 22nd.)-The events of this one day have changed the whole future of my life. I must force myself to write of them at once. Something warns me that if I delay, though only till to-morrow, I shall be incapable of relating them at all.

It was still early in the morning-I think about seven o'clock-when I closed my cottage door behind me, never to open it again. I met only one or two of my neighbours as I left the hamlet. They drew aside to let me advance, without saying a word. With a heavy heart, grieved more than I could have imagined possible at departing as an enemy from among the people with whom I had lived as a friend, I passed slowly by the last cottages, and ascended the cliff path which led to the moor.

The storm had raged at its fiercest some hours back. Soon after daylight the wind sank; but the majesty of the mighty sea had lost none of its terror and grandeur as yet. The huge Atlantic waves still hurled themselves, foaming and furious, against the massive granite of the Cornish cliffs. Overhead, the sky was hidden in a thick white mist, now hanging, still and dripping, down to the ground; now rolling in shapes like vast smoke-wreaths before the light wind which still blew at intervals. At a distance of more than a few yards, the largest objects were totally invisible. I had nothing to guide me, as I advanced, but the ceaseless roaring of the sea on my right hand.

It was my purpose to get to Penzance by night. Beyond that, I had no project, no thought of what refuge I should seek next. Any hope I might have formerly felt of escaping from Mannion, had now deserted me for ever. I could not discover by any outward indications, that he was still following my footsteps. The mist obscured all objects behind me from view; the ceaseless crashing of the shore-waves overwhelmed all landward sounds, but I never doubted for a moment that he was watching me, as I proceeded along my onward way.

I walked slowly, keeping from the edge of the precipices only by keeping the sound of the sea always at the same distance from my ear; knowing that I was advancing in the proper direction, though very circuitously, as long as I heard the waves on my right hand. To have ventured on the shorter way, by the moor and the cross-roads beyond it, would have been only to have lost myself past all chance of extrication, in the mist.

In this tedious manner I had gone on for some time, before it struck me that the noise of the sea was altering completely to my sense of hearing. It seemed to be sounding very strangely on each side of me-both on my right hand and on my left. I stopped and strained my eyes to look through the mist, but it was useless. Crags only a few yards off, seemed like shadows in the thick white vapour. Again, I went on a little; and, ere long, I heard rolling towards me, as it were, under my own feet, and under the roaring of the sea, a howling, hollow, intermittent sound-like thunder at a distance. I stopped again, and rested against a rock. After some time, the mist began to part to seaward, but remained still as thick as ever on each side of me. I went on towards the lighter sky in front-the thunder-sound booming louder and louder, in the very heart, as it seemed, of the great cliff.

The mist brightened yet a little more, and showed me a landmark to ships, standing on the highest point of the surrounding rocks. I climbed to it, recognised the glaring red and white pattern in which it was painted, and knew that I had wandered, in the mist, away from the regular line of coast, out on one of the great granite promontories which project into the sea, as natural breakwaters, on the southern shore of Cornwall.

I had twice penetrated as far as this place, at the earlier period of my sojourn in the fishing-hamlet, and while I now listened to the thunder-sound, I knew from what cause it proceeded.

Beyond the spot where I stood, the rocks descended suddenly, and almost perpendicularly, to the range below them. In one of the highest parts of the wall-side of granite thus formed, there opened a black, yawning hole that slanted nearly straight downwards, like a tunnel, to unknown and unfathomable depths below, into which the waves found entrance through some subterranean channel. Even at calm times the sea was never silent in this frightful abyss, but on stormy days its fury was terrific. The wild waves boiled and thundered in their imprisonment, till they seemed to convulse the solid cliff about them, like an earthquake. But, high as they leapt up in the rocky walls of the chasm, they never leapt into sight from above. Nothing but clouds of spray indicated to the eye, what must be the horrible tumult of the raging waters below.

With my recognition of the place to which I had now wandered, came remembrance of the dangers I had left behind me on the rock-track that led from the mainland to the promontory-dangers of narrow ledges and treacherous precipices, which I had passed safely, while unconscious of them in the mist, but which I shrank from tempting again, now that I recollected them, until the sky had cleared, and I could see my way well before me. The atmosphere was still brightening slowly over the tossing, distant waves: I determined to wait until it had lost all its obscurity, before I ventured to retrace my steps.

I moved down towards the lower range of rocks, to seek a less exposed position than that which I now occupied. As I neared the chasm, the terrific howling of the waves inside it was violent enough to drown, not only the crashing sound of the surf on the outward crags of the promontory, but even the shrill cries of the hundreds on hundreds of sea-birds that whirled around me, except when their flight was immediately over my head. At each side of the abyss, the rocks, though very precipitous, afforded firm hold for hand and foot. As I descended them, the morbid longing to look on danger, which has led many a man to the very brink of a precipice, even while he dreaded it, led me to advance as near as I durst to the side of the great hole, and to gaze down into it. I could see but little of its black, shining, interior walls, or of the fragm

ents of rock which here and there jutted out from them, crowned with patches of long, lank, sea-weed waving slowly to and fro in empty space-I could see but little of these things, for the spray from the bellowing water in the invisible depths below, steamed up almost incessantly, like smoke, and shot, hissing in clouds out of the mouth of the chasm, on to a huge flat rock, covered with sea-weed, that lay beneath and in front of it. The very sight of this smooth, slippery plane of granite, shelving steeply downward, right into the gaping depths of the hole, made my head swim; the thundering of the water bewildered and deafened me-I moved away while I had the power: away, some thirty or forty yards in a lateral direction, towards the edges of the promontory which looked down on the sea. Here, the rocks rose again in wild shapes, forming natural caverns and penthouses. Towards one of these I now advanced, to shelter myself till the sky had cleared.

I had just entered the place, close to the edge of the cliff, when a hand was laid suddenly and firmly on my arm; and, through the crashing of the waves below, the thundering of the water in the abyss behind, and the shrieking of the seabirds overhead, I heard these words, spoken close to my ear:-

"Take care of your life. It is not your's to throw away-it is mine!"

I turned, and saw Mannion standing by me. No shade concealed the hideous distortion of his face. His eye was on me, as he pointed significantly down to the surf foaming two hundred feet beneath us.

"Suicide!" he said slowly-"I suspected it, and, this time, I followed close: followed, to fight with death, which should have you."

As I moved back from the edge of the precipice, and shook him from me, I marked the vacancy that glared even through the glaring triumph of his eye, and remembered how I had been warned against him at the hospital.

The mist was thickening again, but thickening now in clouds that parted and changed minute by minute, under the influence of the light behind them. I had noticed these sudden transitions before, and knew them to be the signs which preceded the speedy clearing of the atmosphere.

When I looked up at the sky, Mannion stepped back a few paces, and pointed in the direction of the fishing-hamlet from which I had departed.

"Even in that remote place," he said, "and among those ignorant people, my deformed face has borne witness against you, and Margaret's death has been avenged, as I said it should. You have been expelled as a pest and a curse, by a community of poor fishermen; you have begun to live your life of excommunication, as I lived mine. Superstition!-barbarous, monstrous superstition, which I found ready made to my use, is the scourge with which I have driven you from that hiding-place. Look at me now! I have got back my strength; I am no longer the sick refuse of the hospital. Where you go, I have the limbs and the endurance to go too! I tell you again, we are linked together for life; I cannot leave you if I would. The horrible joy of hunting you through the world, leaps in my blood like fire! Look! look out on those tossing waves. There is no rest for them; there shall be no rest for you!"

The sight of him, standing close by me in that wild solitude; the hoarse sound of his voice, as he raised it almost to raving in his exultation over my helplessness; the incessant crashing of the sea on the outer rocks; the roaring of the tortured waters imprisoned in the depths of the abyss behind us; the obscurity of the mist, and the strange, wild shapes it began to take, as it now rolled almost over our heads--all that I saw, all that I heard, seemed suddenly to madden me, as Mannion uttered his last words. My brain felt turned to fire; my heart to ice. A horrible temptation to rid myself for ever of the wretch before me, by hurling him over the precipice at my feet, seized on me. I felt my hands stretching themselves out towards him without my willing it-if I had waited another instant, I should have dashed him or myself to destruction. But I turned back in time; and, reckless of all danger, fled from the sight of him, over the rugged and perilous surface of the cliff.

The shock of a fall among the rocks, before I had advanced more than a few yards, partly restored my self-possession. Still, I dared not look back to see if Mannion was following me, so long as the precipice behind him was within view.

I began to climb to the higher range of rocks almost at the same spot by which I had descended from them-judging by the close thunder of the water in the chasm. Halfway up, I stopped at a broad resting-place; and found that I must proceed a little, either to the right or to the left, in a horizontal direction, before I could easily get higher. At that moment, the mist was slowly brightening again. I looked first to the left, to see where I could get good foothold-then to the right, towards the outer sides of the riven rocks close at hand.

At the same instant, I caught sight dimly of the figure of Mannion, moving shadow-like below and beyond me, skirting the farther edge of the slippery plane of granite that shelved into the gaping mouth of the hole. The brightening atmosphere showed him that he had risked himself, in the mist, too near to a dangerous place. He stopped-looked up and saw me watching him-raised his hand-and shook it threateningly in the air. The ill-calculated violence of his action, in making that menacing gesture, destroyed his equilibrium-he staggered-tried to recover himself-swayed half round where he stood-then fell heavily backward, right on to the steep shelving rock.

The wet sea-weed slipped through his fingers, as they madly clutched at it. He struggled frantically to throw himself towards the side of the declivity; slipping further and further down it at every effort. Close to the mouth of the abyss, he sprang up as if he had been shot. A tremendous jet of spray hissed out upon him at the same moment. I heard a scream, so shrill, so horribly unlike any human cry, that it seemed to silence the very thundering of the water. The spray fell. For one instant, I saw two livid and bloody hands tossed up against the black walls of the hole, as he dropped into it. Then, the waves roared again fiercely in their hidden depths; the spray flew out once more; and when it cleared off; nothing was to be seen at the yawning mouth of the chasm-nothing moved over the shelving granite, but some torn particles of sea-weed sliding slowly downwards in the running ooze.

The shock of that sight must have paralysed within me the power of remembering what followed it; for I can recall nothing, after looking on the emptiness of the rock below, except that I crouched on the ledge under my feet, to save myself from falling off it-that there was an interval of oblivion-and that I seemed to awaken again, as it were, to the thundering of the water in the abyss. When I rose and looked around me, the seaward sky was lovely in its clearness; the foam of the leaping waves flashed gloriously in the sunlight: and all that remained of the mist was one great cloud of purple shadow, hanging afar off over the whole inland view.

I traced my way back along the promontory feebly and slowly. My weakness was so great, that I trembled in every limb. A strange uncertainty about directing myself in the simplest actions, overcame my mind. Sometimes, I stopped short, hesitating in spite of myself at the slightest obstacles in my path. Sometimes, I grew confused without any cause, about the direction in which I was proceeding, and fancied I was going back to the fishing village.. The sight that I had witnessed, seemed to be affecting me physically, far more than mentally. As I dragged myself on my weary way along the coast, there was always the same painful vacancy in my thoughts: there seemed to be no power in them yet, of realising Mannion's appalling death.

By the time I arrived at this village, my strength was so utterly exhausted, that the people at the inn were obliged to help me upstairs. Even now, after some hours' rest, the mere exertion of dipping my pen in the ink begins to be a labour and a pain to me. There is a strange fluttering at my heart; my recollections are growing confused again-I can write no more.

23rd.-The frightful scene that I witnessed yesterday still holds the same disastrous influence over me. I have vainly endeavoured to think, not of Mannion's death, but of the free prospect which that death has opened to my view. Waking or sleeping, it is as if some fatality kept all my faculties imprisoned within the black walls of the chasm. I saw the livid, bleeding hands flying past them again, in my dreams, last night. And now, while the morning is clear and the breeze is fresh, no repose, no change comes to my thoughts. Time bright beauty of unclouded daylight seems to have lost the happy influence over me which it used formerly to possess.

25th.-All yesterday I had not energy enough even to add a line to this journal. The strength to control myself seems to have gone from me. The slightest accidental noise in the house, throws me into a fit of trembling which I cannot subdue. Surely, if ever the death of one human being brought release and salvation to another, the death of Mannion has brought them to me; and yet, the effect left on my mind by the horror of having seen it, is still not lessened-not even by the knowledge of all that I have gained by being freed from the deadliest and most determined enemy that man ever had.

26th.-Visions-half waking, half dreaming-all through the night. Visions of my last lonely evening in the fishing-hamlet-of Mannion again-the livid hands whirling to and fro over my head in the darkness-then, glimpses of home; of Clara reading to me in my study-then, a change to the room where Margaret died-the sight of her again, with her long black hair streaming over her face-then, oblivion for a little while-then, Mannion once more; walking backwards and forwards by my bedside-his death, seeming like a dream; his watching me through the night like a reality to which I had just awakened-Clara walking opposite to him on the other side-Ralph between them, pointing at me.

27th.-I am afraid my mind is seriously affected; it must have been fatally weakened before I passed through the terrible scenes among the rocks of the promontory. My nerves must have suffered far more than I suspected at the time, under the constant suspense in which I have been living since I left London, and under the incessant strain and agitation of writing the narrative of all that has happened to me. Shall I send a letter to Ralph? No-not yet. It might look like impatience, like not being able to bear my necessary absence as calmly and resolutely as I ought.

28th.-A wakeful night-tormented by morbid apprehensions that the reports about me in the fishing-village may spread to this place; that inquiries may be made after Mannion; and that I may be suspected of having caused his death.

29th.-The people at the inn have sent to get me medical advice. The doctor came to-day. He was kindness itself; but I fell into a fit of trembling, the moment he entered the room-grew confused in attempting to tell him what was the matter with me-and, at last, could not articulate a single word distinctly. He looked very grave as he examined me and questioned the landlady. I thought I heard him say something about sending for my friends, but could not be certain.

31st.-Weaker and weaker. I tried in despair, to-day, to write to Ralph; but knew not how to word the letter. The simplest forms of expression confused themselves inextricably in my mind. I was obliged to give it up. It is a surprise to me to find that I can still add with my pencil to the entries in this Journal! When I am no longer able to continue, in some sort, the employment to which I have been used for so many weeks past, what will become of me? Shall I have lost the only safeguard that keeps me in my senses?

* * *

Worse! worse! I have forgotten what day of the month it is; and cannot remember it for a moment together, when they tell me-cannot even recollect how long I have been confined to my bed. I feel as if my heart was wasting away. Oh! if I could only see Clara again.

* * *

The doctor and a strange man have been looking among my papers.

My God! am I dying? dying at the very time when there is a chance of happiness for my future life?

* * *

Clara!-far from her-nothing but the little book-marker she worked for me-leave it round my neck when I-

I can't move, or breathe, or think-if I could only be taken back-if my father could see me as I am now! Night again-the dreams that will come-always of home; sometimes, the untried home in heaven, as well as the familiar home on earth-

* * *

Clara! I shall die out of my senses, unless Clara-break the news gently-it may kill her-

Her face so bright and calm! her watchful, weeping eyes always looking at me, with a light in them that shines steady through the quivering tears. While the light lasts, I shall live; when it begins to die out-*

NOTE BY THE EDITOR.

* There are some lines of writing beyond this point; but they are

illegible.

LETTERS IN CONCLUSION.

LETTER I.

FROM WILLIAM PENHALE, MINER, AT BARTALLOCK, IN CORNWALL, TO HIS WIFE IN LONDON.

MY DEAR MARY,

I received your letter yesterday, and was more glad than I can say, at hearing that our darling girl Susan has got such a good place in London, and likes her new mistress so well. My kind respects to your sister and her husband, and say I don't grumble about the money that's been spent in sending you with Susan to take care of her. She was too young, poor child, to be trusted to make the journey alone; and, as I was obliged to stop at home and work to keep the other children, and pay back what we borrowed for the trip, of course you were the proper person, after me, to go with Susan-whose welfare is a more precious possession to us than any money, I am sure. Besides, when I married you, and took you away to Cornwall, I always promised you a trip to London to see your friends again; and now that promise is performed. So, once again, don't fret about the money that's been spent: I shall soon pay it back.

I've got some very strange news for you, Mary. You know how bad work was getting at the mine, before you went away-so bad, that I thought to myself after you had gone, "Hadn't I better try what I can do in the fishing at Treen?" And I went there; and, thank God, have got on well by it. I can turn my hand to most things; and the fishing has been very good this year. So I have stuck to my work. And now I come to my news.

The landlady at the inn here, is, as you know, a sort of relation of mine. Well, the third afternoon after you had gone, I was stopping to say a word to her at her own door, on my way to the beach, when we saw a young gentleman, quite a stranger, coming up to us. He looked very pale and wild-like, I thought, when he asked for a bed; and then got faint all of a sudden-so faint and ill, that I was obliged to lend a hand in getting him upstairs. The next morning I heard he was worse: and it was just the same story the morning after. He quite frightened the landlady, he was so restless, and talked to himself in such a strange way; specially at night. He wouldn't say what was the matter with him, or who he was: we could only find out that he had been stopping among the fishing people further west: and that they had not behaved very well to him at last-more shame for them! I'm sure they could take no hurt from the poor young fellow, let him be whom he may. Well, the end of it was that I went and fetched the doctor for him myself, and when we got into his room, we found him all pale and trembling, and looking at us, poor soul, as if he thought we meant to murder him. The doctor gave his complaint some hard names which I don't know how to write down; but it seems there's more the matter with his mind than his body, and that he must have had some great fright which has shaken his nerves all to pieces. The only way to do him good, as the doctor said, was to have him carefully nursed by his relations, and kept quiet among people he knew; strange faces about him being likely to make him worse. The doctor asked where his friends lived; but he wouldn't say, and, lately, he's got so much worse that he can't speak clearly to us at all.

Yesterday evening, he gave us all a fright. The doctor hearing me below, asking after him, said I was to come up stairs and help to move him to have his bed made. As soon as I raised him up (though I'm sure I touched him as gently as I could), he fainted dead away. While he was being brought to, a little piece of something that looked like card-board, prettily embroidered with beads and silk, came away from a string that held it round his neck, and dropped off the bedside. I picked it up; for I remembered the time, Mary, when you and I were courting, and how precious the least thing was to me that belonged to you. So I took care of it for him, thinking it might be a keepsake from his sweetheart. And sure enough, when he came to, he put up his thin white hands to his neck, and looked so thankful at me when I tied the little thing again to the string! Just as I had done that, the doctor beckons me to the other end of the room.

"This won't do," says he to me in a whisper. "If he goes on like this, he'll lose his reason, if not his life. I must search his papers, to find out what friends he has; and you must be my witness."

So the doctor opens his little bag, and takes out a square sealed packet first; then two or three letters tied together; the poor soul looking all the while as if he longed to prevent us from touching them. Well, the doctor said there was no occasion to open the packet, for the direction was the same on all the letters, and the name corresponded with his initials marked on his linen.

"I'm next to certain this is where he lives, or did live; so this is where I'll write," says the doctor.

"Shall my wife take the letter, Sir?" says I. "She's in London with our girl, Susan; and, if his friends should be gone away from where you are writing to, she may be able to trace them."

"Quite right, Penhale!" says he; "we'll do that. Write to your wife, and put my letter inside yours."

I did as he told me, at once; and his letter is inside this, with the direction of the house and the street.

Now, Mary, dear, go at once, and see what you can find out. The direction on the doctor's letter may be his home; and if it isn't, there may be people there who can tell you where it is. So go at once, and let us know directly what luck you have had, for there is no time to be lost; and if you saw the young gentleman, you would pity him as much as we do.

This has got to be such a long letter, that I have no room left to write any more. God bless you, Mary, and God bless my darling Susan! Give her a kiss for father's sake, and believe me, Your loving husband,

WILLIAM PENHALE.

* * *

LETTER II. FROM MARY PENHALE TO HER HUSBAND DEAREST WILLIAM,

Susan sends a hundred kisses, and best loves to you and her brothers and sisters. She's getting on nicely; and her mistress is as kind and fond of her as can be. Best respects, too, from my sister Martha, and her husband. And now I've done giving you all my messages, I'll tell you some good news for the poor young gentleman who is so bad at Treen.

As soon as I had seen Susan, and read your letter to her, I went to the place where the doctor's letter directed me. Such a grand house, William! I was really afraid to knock at the door. So I plucked up courage, and gave a pull at the bell; and a very fat, big man, with his head all plastered over with powder, opened the door, almost before I had done ringing. "If you please, Sir," says I, showing him the name on the doctor's letter, "do any friends of this gentleman live here?" "To be sure they do," says he; "his father and sister live here: but what do you want to know for?" "I want them to read this letter," says I. "It's to tell them that the young gentleman is very bad in health down in our country." "You can't see my master," says he, "for he's confined to his bed by illness: and Miss Clara is very poorly too-you had better leave the letter with me." Just as he said this, an elderly lady crossed the hall (I found out she was the housekeeper, afterwards), and asked what I wanted. When I told her, she looked quite startled. "Step this way, ma'am," says she; "you will do Miss Clara more good than all the doctors put together. But you must break the news to her carefully, before she sees the letter. Please to make it out better news than it is, for the young lady is in very delicate health." We went upstairs-such stair-carpets! I was almost frightened to step on them, after walking through the dirty streets. The housekeeper opened a door, and said a few words inside, which I could not hear, and then let me in where the young lady was.

Oh, William! she had the sweetest, kindest face I ever saw in my life. But it was so pale, and there was such a sad look in her eyes when she asked me to sit down, that it went to my heart, when I thought of the news I had to tell her. I couldn't speak just at first; and I suppose she thought I was in some trouble-for she begged me not to tell her what I wanted, till I was better. She said it with such a voice and such a look, that, like a great fool, I burst out crying, instead of answering as I ought. But it did me good, though, and made me able to tell her about her brother (breaking it as gently as I could) before I gave her the doctor's letter. She never opened it; but stood up before me as if she was turned to stone-not able to cry, or speak, or move. It frightened me so, to see her in such a dreadful state, that I forgot all about the grand house, and the difference there was between us; and took her in my arms, making her sit down on the sofa by me-just as I should do, if I was consoling our own Susan under some great trouble. Well! I soon made her look more like herself, comforting her in every way I could think of: and she laid her poor head on my shoulder, and I took and kissed her, (not remembering a bit about its being a born lady and a stranger that I was kissing); and the tears came at last, and did her good. As soon as she could speak, she thanked God her brother was found, and had fallen into kind hands. She hadn't courage to read the doctor's letter herself, and asked me to do it. Though he gave a very bad account of the young gentleman, he said that care and nursing, and getting him away from a strange place to his own home and among his friends, might do wonders for him yet. When I came to this part of the letter, she started up, and asked me to give it to her. Then she inquired when I was going back to Cornwall; and I said, "as soon as possible," (for indeed, it's time I was home, William). "Wait; pray wait till I have shown this letter to my father!" says she. And she ran out of the room with it in her hand.

After some time, she came back with her face all of a flush, like; looking quite different to what she did before, and saying that I had done more to make the family happy by coming with that letter, than she could ever thank me for as she ought. A gentleman followed her in, who was her eldest brother (she said); the pleasantest, liveliest gentleman I ever saw. He shook hands as if he had known me all his life; and told me I was the first person he had ever met with who had done good in a family by bringing them bad news. Then he asked me whether I was ready to go to Cornwall the next morning with him, and the young lady, and a friend of his who was a doctor. I had thought already of getting the parting over with poor Susan, that very day: so I said, "Yes." After that, they wouldn't let me go away till I had had something to eat and drink; and the dear, kind young lady asked me all about Susan, and where she was living, and about you and the children, just as if she had known us like neighbours. Poor thing! she was so flurried, and so anxious for the next morning, that it was all the gentleman could do to keep her quiet, and prevent her falling into a sort of laughing and crying fit, which it seems she had been liable to lately. At last they let me go away: and I went and stayed with Susan as long as I could before I bid her good-bye. She bore the parting bravely-poor, dear child! God in heaven bless her; and I'm sure he will; for a better daughter no mother ever had.

My dear husband, I am afraid this letter is very badly written; but the tears are in my eyes, thinking of Susan; and I feel so wearied and flurried after what has happened. We are to go off very early to-morrow morning in a carriage, which is to be put on the railway. Only think of my riding home in a fine carriage, with gentlefolks!-how surprised Willie, and Nancy, and the other children will be! I shall get to Treen almost as soon as my letter; but I thought I would write, so that you might have the good news, the first moment it could get to you, to tell the poor young gentleman. I'm sure it must make him better, only to hear that his brother and sister are coming to fetch him home.

I can't write any more, dear William, I'm so very tired; except that I long to see you and the little ones again; and that I am,

Your loving and dutiful wife,

MARY PENHALE.

LETTER III.

TO MR. JOHN BERNARD, FROM THE WRITER OF THE FORE-GOING AUTOBIOGRAPHY.

[This letter is nearly nine years later in date than the letters which precede it.]

Lanreath Cottage, Breconshire.

MY DEAR FRIEND,

I find, by your last letter, that you doubt whether I still remember the circumstances under which I made a certain promise to you, more than eight years ago. You are mistaken: not one of those circumstances has escaped my memory. To satisfy you of this, I will now recapitulate them. You will own, I think, that I have forgotten nothing.

After my removal from Cornwall (shall I ever forget the first sight of Clara and Ralph at my bedside!), when the nervous malady from which I suffered so long, had yielded to the affectionate devotion of my family-aided by the untiring exercise of your skill-one of my first anxieties was to show that I could gratefully appreciate your exertions for my good, by reposing the same confidence in you, which I should place in my nearest and dearest relatives. From the time when we first met at the hospital, your services were devoted to me, through much misery of mind and body, with the delicacy and the self-denial of a true friend. I felt that it was only your due that you should know by what trials I had been reduced to the situation in which you found me, when you accompanied my brother and sister to Cornwall-I felt this; and placed in your hands, for your own private perusal, the narrative which I had written of my error and of its terrible consequences. To tell you all that had happened to me, with my own lips, was more than I could do then-and even after this lapse of years, would be more than I could do now.

After you had read the narrative, you urged me, on returning it into my possession, to permit its publication during my lifetime. I granted the justness of the reasons which led you to counsel me thus; but I told you, at the same time, that an obstacle, which I was bound to respect, would prevent me from following your advice. While my father lived, I could not suffer a manuscript in which he was represented (no matter under what excess of provocation) as separating himself in the bitterest hostility from his own son, to be made public property. I could not suffer events of which we never afterwards spoke ourselves, to be given to others in the form of a printed narrative which might perhaps fall under his own eye. You acknowledged, I remember, the justice of these considerations and promised, in case I died before him, to keep back my manuscript from publication as long as my father lived. In binding yourself to that engagement, however, you stipulated, and I agreed, that I should reconsider your arguments in case I outlived him. This was my promise, and these were the circumstances under which it was made. You will allow, I think, that my memory is more accurate than you had imagined it to be.

And now, you write to remind me of my part of our agreement-forbearing, with your accustomed delicacy, to introduce the subject, until more than six months have elapsed since my father's death. You have done well. I have had time to feel all the consolation afforded to me by the remembrance that, for years past, my life was of some use in sweetening my father's; that his death has occurred in the ordinary course of Nature; and that I never, to my own knowledge, gave him any cause to repent the full and loving reconciliation which took place between us, as soon as we could speak together freely after my return to home.

Still I am not answering your question:-Am I now willing to permit the publication of my narrative, provided all names and places mentioned in it remained concealed, and I am known to no one but yourself, Ralph, and Clara, as the writer of my own story? I reply that I am willing. In a few days, you will receive the manuscript by a safe hand. Neither my brother nor my sister object to its being made public on the terms I have mentioned; and I feel no hesitation in accepting the permission thus accorded to me. I have not glossed over the flightiness of Ralph's character; but the brotherly kindness and manly generosity which lie beneath it, are as apparent, I hope, in my narrative as they are in fact. And Clara, dear Clara!-all that I have said of her is only to be regretted as unworthy of the noblest subject that my pen, or any other pen, can have to write on.

One difficulty, however, still remains:-How are the pages which I am about to send you to be concluded? In the novel-reading sense of the word, my story has no real conclusion. The repose that comes to all of us after trouble-to me, a repose in life: to others, how often a repose only in the grave!-is the end which must close this autobiography: an end, calm, natural, and uneventful; yet not, perhaps, devoid of all lesson and value. Is it fit that I should set myself, for the sake of effect, to make a conclusion, and terminate by fiction what has begun, and thus far, has proceeded in truth? In the interests of Art, as well as in the interests of Reality, surely not!

Whatever remains to be related after the last entry in my journal, will be found expressed in the simplest, and therefore, the best form, by the letters from William and Mary Penhale, which I send you with this. When I revisited Cornwall, to see the good miner and his wife, I found, in the course of the inquiries which I made as to the past, that they still preserved the letters they had written about me, while I lay ill at Treen. I asked permission to take copies of these two documents, as containing materials, which I could but ill supply from my own resources, for filling up a gap in my story. They at once consented; telling me that they had always kept each other's letters after marriage, as carefully as they kept them before, in token that their first affection remained to the last unchanged. At the same time they entreated me, with the most earnest simplicity, to polish their own homely expressions; and turn them, as they phrased, it, into proper reading. You may easily imagine that I knew better than to do this; and you will, I am sure, agree with me that both the letters I send should be printed as literally as they were copied by my hand.

Having now provided for the continuation of my story to the period of my return home, I have a word or two to say on the subject of preparing the autobiography for press. Failing in the resolution, even now, to look over my manuscript again, I leave the corrections it requires to others-but on one condition. Let none of the passages in which I have related events, or described characters, be either softened or suppressed. I am well aware of the tendency, in some readers, to denounce truth itself as improbable, unless their own personal experience has borne witness to it; and it is on this very account that I am firm in my determination to allow of no cringing beforehand to anticipated incredulities. What I have written is Truth; and it shall go into the world as Truth should-entirely uncompromised. Let my style be corrected as completely as you will; but leave characters and events which are taken from realities, real as they are.

In regard to the surviving persons with whom this narrative associates me, I have little to say which it can concern the reader to know. The man whom I have presented in the preceding pages under the name of Sherwin is, I believe, still alive, and still residing in France-whither he retreated soon after the date of the last events mentioned in my autobiography. A new system had been introduced into his business by his assistant, which, when left to his own unaided resources, he failed to carry out. His affairs became involved; a commercial crisis occurred, which he was wholly unable to meet; and he was made a bankrupt, having first dishonestly secured to himself a subsistence for life, out of the wreck of his property. I accidentally heard of him, a few years since, as maintaining among the English residents of the town he then inhabited, the character of a man who had undeservedly suffered from severe family misfortunes, and who bore his afflictions with the most exemplary piety and resignation.

To those once connected with him, who are now no more, I need not and cannot refer again. That part of the dreary Past with which they are associated, is the part which I still shrink in terror from thinking on. There are two names which my lips have not uttered for years; which, in this life, I shall never pronounce again. The night of Death is over them: a night to look away from for evermore.

To look away from-but, towards what object? The Future? That way, I see but dimly even yet. It is on the Present that my thoughts are fixed, in the contentment which desires no change.

For the last five months I have lived here with Clara-here, on the little estate which was once her mother's, which is now hers. Long before my father's death we often talked, in the great country house, of future days which we might pass together, as we pass them now, in this place. Though we may often leave it for a time, we shall always look back to Lanreath Cottage as to our home. The years of retirement which I spent at the Hall, after my recovery, have not awakened in me a single longing to return to the busy world. Ralph-now the head of our family; now aroused by his new duties to a sense of his new position-Ralph, already emancipated from many of the habits which once enthralled and degraded him, has written, bidding me employ to the utmost the resources which his position enables him to offer me, if I decide on entering into public life. But I have no such purpose; I am still resolved to live on in obscurity, in retirement, in peace. I have suffered too much; I have been wounded too sadly, to range myself with the heroes of Ambition, and fight my way upward from the ranks. The glory and the glitter which I once longed to look on as my own, would dazzle and destroy me, now. Such shocks as I have endured, leave that behind them which changes the character and the purpose of a life. The mountain-path of Action is no longer a path for me; my future hope pauses with my present happiness in the shadowed valley of Repose.

Not a repose which owns no duty, and is good for no use; not a repose which Thought cannot ennoble, and Affection cannot sanctify. To serve the cause of the poor and the ignorant, in the little sphere which now surrounds me; to smooth the way for pleasure and plenty, where pain and want have made it rugged too long; to live more and more worthy, with every day, of the sisterly love which, never tiring, never changing, watches over me in this last retreat, this dearest home-these are the purposes, the only purposes left, which I may still cherish. Let me but live to fulfil them, and life will have given to me all that I can ask!

I may now close my letter. I have communicated to you all the materials I can supply for the conclusion of my autobiography, and have furnished you with the only directions I wish to give in reference to its publication. Present it to the reader in any form, and at any time, that you think fit. On its reception by the public I have no wish to speculate. It is enough for me to know that, with all its faults, it has been written in sincerity and in truth. I shall not feel false shame at its failure, or false pride at its success.

If there be any further information which you think it necessary to possess, and which I have forgotten to communicate, write to me on the subject-or, far better, come here yourself, and ask of me with your own lips all that you desire to know. Come, and judge of the life I am now leading, by seeing it as it really is. Though it be only for a few days, pause long enough in your career of activity and usefulness, of fame and honour, to find leisure time for a visit to the cottage where we live. This is as much Clara's invitation as mine. She will never forget (even if I could!) all that I have owed to your friendship-will never weary (even if I should tire!) of showing you that we are capable of deserving it. Come, then, and see her as well as me-see her, once more, my sister of old times! I remember what you said of Clara, when we last met, and last talked of her; and I believe you will be almost as happy to see her again in her old character as I am.

Till then, farewell! Do not judge hastily of my motives for persisting in the life of retirement which I have led for so many years past. Do not think that calamity has chilled my heart, or enervated my mind. Past suffering may have changed, but it has not deteriorated me. It has fortified my spirit with an abiding strength; it has told me plainly, much that was but dimly revealed to me before; it has shown me uses to which I may put my existence, that have their sanction from other voices than the voices of fame; it has taught me to feel that bravest ambition which is vigorous enough to overleap the little life here! Is there no aspiration in the purposes for which I would now live?-Bernard! whatever we can do of good, in this world, with our affections or our faculties, rises to the Eternal World above us, as a song of praise from Humanity to God. Amid the thousand, thousand tones ever joining to swell the music of that song, are those which sound loudest and grandest here, the tones which travel sweetest and purest to the Imperishable Throne; which mingle in the perfectest harmony with the anthem of the angel-choir! Ask your own heart that question-and then say, may not the obscurest life-even a life like mine-be dignified by a lasting aspiration, and dedicated to a noble aim?

I have done. The calm summer evening has stolen on me while I have been writing to you; and Clara's voice-now the happy voice of the happy old times-calls to me from our garden seat to come out and look at the sunset over the distant sea. Once more-farewell!

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