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The Twins By Martin Farquhar Tupper Characters: 9354

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

Charles's pocket-book was full of clean bank notes, fifteen hundred pounds' worth: it contained also a diamond ring, and a lock of silvery hair; the latter a proof of affectionate sentiment in the kind old soul, that touched him at the heart.

"And now, my Emmy, the way is clear to us; Providence has sent me this, that I may right you, dearest: and it will be wise in us to say nothing of our plans. Avoid inquiries-for I did not say conceal or falsify facts: but, while none but you, love, heed of my departure, and while I go for our sakes alone, we need not invite disappointment by open-mouthed publicity. To those who love me, Emmy, I am frank and free; but with those who love us not, there is a wisdom and a justice in concealment. They do not deserve confidence, who will not extend to us their sympathy. None but yourself must know whither I am bound; and, after some little search for curiosity's sake, when a week is past and gone, no soul will care for me of those at home. With you, I will manage to communicate by post, directing my letters to Mrs. Sainsbury, at Oxton: I will prepare her for it. She knows my love for you, and how they try to thwart us; but even she, however trustworthy, need not be told my destination yet awhile, until 'India' appears upon the post-mark. How glad will you be, dearest one, how happy in our secret-to read my heart's own thoughts, when I am far away-far away, clearing up mine Emmy's cares, and telling her how blessed I feel in ministering to her happiness!"

Such was the substance of their talk, while counting out the pocket-book.

Charles's remaining preparations were simple enough, now his purse was flush of money: he resolved upon taking from his home no luggage whatever: preferring to order down, from an outfitting house in London, a regular kit of cadet's necessaries, to wait for him at the Europe Hotel, Plymouth, on a certain day in the ensuing week. So that, burdened only with his Emmy's miniature, and his pocket-book of bank notes, he might depart quietly some evening, get to Plymouth in a pr?concerted way, by chaise or coach, before the morrow morning; thence, a boat to meet the ship off-shore, and then-hey, for the Indies!

It was as well-devised a scheme as could possibly be planned; though its secresy, especially with a mother in the case, may be a moot point as to the abstract moral thereof: nevertheless, concretely, the only heart his so mysterious absence would have pained, was made aware of all: then, again, secresy had been the atmosphere of his daily life, the breath of his education; and he too sorely knew his mother would rejoice at the departure, and Julian, too-all the more certainly, as both brothers were now rivals professed for the hand of Emily Warren: as to the general, he might, or he might not, smoke an extra cheroot in the excitement of his wonder; and if he cared about it anyways more tragically than tobacco might betray, Emily knew how to comfort him.

With respect to other arrangements, Emmy furnished Charles with letters to certain useful people at Madras, and in particular to the "somebody" who looked after Mrs. Mackie: so, the mystery was easy of access, and he doubted not of overcoming, on the spot, every unseen difficulty. The plan of leaving all luggage behind, a capital idea, would enable him to go forth freely and unshackled, with an ordinary air, in hat and great-coat, as for an evening's walk; and was quite in keeping with the natural reserve of his whole character-a bad habit of secresy, which he probably inherited from his father, the lieutenant of old times. And yet, for all the wisdom, and mystery, and shrewd settling of the plan, its accomplishment was as nearly as possible most fatally defeated.

The important evening arrived; for the Indiaman-it was our old friend Sir William Elphinston-would be off Plymouth, next morning: the goods had been, for a day or two, safely deposited at the Europe, as per invoice, all paid: the lovers, in this last, this happiest, yet by far the saddest of their stolen interviews, had exchanged vows and kisses, and upon the beach, beneath those friendly cliffs, had commended one another to their Father in heaven. They had returned to the unsocial circle of home; all was fixed; the clock struck nine: and Charles, accidentally squeezing Emily's hand, rose to leave the tea-table.

"Where are you going, Mr. Charles?"

"I am going out, Julian."

"Thank you, sir! I knew that, but whither? General, I say, here's Charles going to serenade somebody by moonlight."

The brandy-sodden parent, scarcely conscious, said something about his infernal majesty; and, "What then?-let h

im go, can't you?"

"Well, Julian dear, perhaps your brother will not mind your going with him; particularly as Emily stays at home with me."

This Mrs. Tracy spoke archly, intended as a hint to induce Julian to remain: but he had other thoughts-and simply said, in an ill-tempered tone of voice, "Done, Charles."

It was a dilemma for our escaping hero; but glancing a last look at Emily, he departed, and walked on some way as quietly as might be with Julian by his side: thinking, perhaps, he would soon be tired; and suffering him to fancy, if he would, that Charles was bound either on some amorous pilgrimage, or some charitable mission. But they left Burleigh behind them-and got upon the common-and passed it by, far out of sight and out of hearing-and were skirting the high banks of the darkly-flowing Mullet-and still there was Julian sullenly beside him. In vain Charles had tried, by many gentle words, to draw him into common conversation: Julian would not speak, or only gave utterance to some hinted phrase of insult: his brow was even darker than usual, and night was coming on apace, and he still tramped steadily along beside his brother, digging his sturdy stick into the clay, for very spite's sake. At length, as they yet walked along the river's side in that unfrequented place, Julian said, on a sudden, in a low strange tone, as if keeping down some rising rage within him,

"Mr. Charles, you love Emily Warren."

"Well, Julian, and who can help loving her?"

It was innocently said; but still a maddening answer, for he loved her too.

"And, sirrah," the brother hoarsely added, "she-she does not-does not-hate you, sir, as I do."

"My good Julian, pray do not be so violent; I cannot help it if the dear girl loves me."

"But I can, though!" roared Julian, with an oath, and lifted up his stick-it was nearer like a club-to strike his brother.

"Julian, Julian, what are you about? Good Heavens! you would not-you dare not-give over-unhand me, brother; what have I done, that you should strike me? Oh! leave me-leave me-pray."

"Leave you? I will leave you!" the villain almost shouted, and smote him to the ground with his lead-loaded stick. It was a blow that must have killed him, but for the interposing hat, now battered down upon his bleeding head. Charles, at length thoroughly aroused, though his foe must be a brother, struggled with unusual strength in self-preserving instinct, wrested the club from Julian's hand, and stood on the defensive.

Julian was staggered: and, after a moment's irresolution, drawing a pistol from his pocket, said, in a terribly calm voice,

"Now, sir! I have looked for such a meeting many days-alone, by night, with you! I would not willingly draw trigger, for the noise might bring down other folks upon us, out of Oxton yonder: but, drop that stick, or I fire."

Charles was noble enough, without another word, to fling the club into the river: it was not fear of harm, but fear of sin, that made him trust himself defenceless to a brother, a twin-brother, in the dark: he could not be so base, a murderer, a fratricide! Oh! most unhallowed thought! Save him from this crime, good God! Then, instantaneously reflecting, and believing he decided for the best, when he saw the ruffian glaring on him with exulting looks, as upon an unarmed rival at his mercy, with no man near to stay the deed, and none but God to see it, Charles resolved to seek safety from so terrible a death in flight.

Oxton was within one mile; and, clearly, this was not like flying from danger as a coward, but fleeing from attempted crime, as a brother and a Christian. Julian snatched at him to catch him as he passed: and, failing in this, rushed after him. It was a race for life! and they went like the wind, for two hundred yards, along that muddy high-banked walk.

Suddenly, Charles slipped upon the clay, that he fell; and Julian, with a savage howl, leapt upon him heavily.

Poor youth, he knew that death was nigh, and only uttered, "God forgive you, brother! oh, spare me-or, if not me, spare yourself-Julian, Julian!"

But the monster was determined. Exerting the whole force of his herculean frame, he seized his scarce-resisting victim as he lay, and, lifting him up like a child, flung his own twin-brother head foremost into that darkly-flowing current!

There was one piercing cry-a splash-a struggle; and again nothing broke upon the silent night, but the murmur of that swingeing tide, as the Mullet hurried eddying to the sea.

Julian listened a minute or two, flung some stones at random into the river, and then hastily ran back to Burleigh, feeling like a Cain.

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