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   Chapter 12 THE ESCAPE.

The Twins By Martin Farquhar Tupper Characters: 8490

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

But the overruling hand of Him whose aid that victim had invoked, was now stretched forth to save! and the strong-flowing tide, that ran too rapidly for Charles to sink in it, was commissioned from on High to carry him into an angle of that tortuous stream, where he clung by instinct to the bushes. Silence was his wisdom, while the murderer was near: and so long as Julian's footsteps echoed on the banks, Charles stirred not, spoke not, but only silently thanked God for his wonderful deliverance. However, the footsteps quickly died away, though heard far off clattering amid the still and listening night; and Charles, thankfully, no less than cautiously, drew himself out of the stream, very little harmed beyond a drenching: for the waters had recovered him at once from the effects of that desperate blow.

It was with a sense of exultation, freedom, independence, that he now hastened scatheless on his way; dripping garments mattered nothing, nor mud, nor the loss of his demolished hat: the pocket-book was safe, and Emmy's portrait, (how he kissed it, then!) and luckily a travelling cap was in his great-coat pocket: so with a most buoyant feeling of animal delight, as well as of religious gratitude, he sped merrily once more upon his secret expedition. Thank Heaven! Emmy could not know the peril he had past: and wretched Julian would now have dreadful reason of his own for this mysterious absence: and it was a pleasant thing to trudge along so freely in the starlight, on the private embassy of love. Happy Charles! I know not if ever more exhilarated feelings blessed the youth; they made him trip along the silent road, in a gush of joyfulness, at the rate of some six miles an hour; I know not if ever such delicious thoughts of Emily's attachment, and those gorgeous mysteries in India, of adventure, enterprise, escape, had heretofore caused his heart to bound so lightsomely within him, like some elastic spring. I know not if ever strong reliance upon Providential care, more earnest prayers, praises, intercessions (for poor Julian, too,) were offered on the altar of his soul. Happy Charles!

So he went on and on-long past Oxton, and Eyemouth, and Surbiton, and over the ferry, and through the sleeping turnpikes, and past the bridge, and along the broad high-road, until gray of morning's dawn revealed the suburbs of Plymouth.

Of course he missed the mail by which he intended to have gone-for Julian's dread act delayed him.

Long before his journey's end, his clothes were thoroughly dried, and violent exercise had shaken off all possible rheumatic consequence of that fearful plunge beneath the waters: five-and-twenty miles in four hours and three-quarters, is a tolerable recipe for those who have tumbled into rivers. We must recollect that he had gone as quick as he could, for fear of being late, now the coach had passed. At a little country inn, he brushed, and washed, and made toilet as well as he was able, took a glass of good Cognac, both hot and strong; and felt more of a man than ever.

Then, having loitered awhile, and well-remembered Emily in his prayers, at about eight in the morning he presented himself among his luggage at the Europe in gentlemanly trim, and soon got all on board the pilot boat, to meet the Indiaman just outside the breakwater. We may safely leave him there, happy, hopeful Charles! Sanguine for the future, exulting in the present, and thankful for the past: already has he poured out all his joys before that Friend who loves her too, and invoked His blessing on a scheme so well designed, so providentially accomplished.

I had almost forgotten Julian: wretched, hardened man, and how fared he? The moment he had flung his brother into that dark stream, and the waters closed above him greedily that he was gone-gone for ever, he first threw in stones to make a noise like life upon the stream, but that cheatery was only for an instant: he was alone-a murderer, alone! the horrors of silence, solitude, and guilt, seized upon him like three furies: so his quick retreating walk became a running; and the running soon was wild and swift for fear; and ever as he ran, that piercing scream came upon the wind behind, and hooted him: his head swam, his e

yes saw terrible sights, his ears heard terrible sounds-and he scoured into quiet, sleeping Burleigh like a madman. However, by some strange good luck, not even did the slumbering watchman see him: so he got in-doors as usual with the latch-key (it was not the first time he had been out at night), crept up quietly, and hid himself in his own chamber.

And how did he spend those hours of guilty solitude? in terrors? in remorse? in misery? Not he: Julian was too wise to sit and think, and in the dark too; but he lit both reading lamps to keep away the gloom, and smoked and drank till morning's dawn to stupify his conscience.

Then, to make it seem all right, he went down to breakfast as usual, though any thing but sober, and met unflinchingly his mother's natural question-

"Good morning, Julian-where's Charles?"

"How should I know, mother; isn't he up yet?"

"No, my dear; and what is more, I doubt if he came home last night."

"Hollo, Master Charles! pretty doings these, Mr. Sabbath-teacher! so he slept out, eh, mother?"

"I don't know-but where did you leave him, Julian?"

"Who! I? did I go out with him? Oh! yes, now I recollect: let's see, we strolled together midway to Oxton, and, as he was going somewhat further, there I left him?"

How true the words, and yet how terribly false their meaning!

"Dear me, that's very odd-isn't it, general?"

"Not at all, ma'am-not at all; leave the lad alone, he'll be back by dinner-time: I didn't think the boy had so much spirit."

Emily, to whom the general's hint was Greek, looked up cheerfully and in her own glad mind chuckled at her Charles's bold adventure.

But the day passed, off, and they sent out men to seek for him: and another-and all Burleigh was a-stir: and another-and the coast-guards from Lyme to Plymouth Sound searched every hole and corner: and another-when his mother wept five minutes: and another-when the wonder was forgotten.

However, they did not put on mourning for the truant: he might turn up yet: perhaps he was at Oxford.

Emily had not much to do in comforting the general for his dear son's loss; it clearly was a gain to him, and he felt far freer than when wisdom's eye was on him. Charles had been too keen for father, mother, and brother; too good, too amiable: he saw their ill, condemned it by his life, and showed their dark too black against his brightness. The unnatural deficiency of mother's love had not been overrated: Julian had all her heart; and she felt only obliged to the decamping Charles for leaving Emily so free and clear to his delightful brother. She never thought him dead: death was a repulsive notion at all times to her: no doubt he would turn up again some day. And Julian joked with her about that musty proverb "a bad penny."

As to our dear heroine, she never felt so happy in all her life before as now, even when her Charles had been beside her; for within a day of his departure he had written her a note full of affection, hope, and gladness; assuring her of his health, and wealth, and safe arrival on board the Indiaman. The noble-hearted youth never said one single word about his brother's crime: but he did warn his Emmy to keep close beside the general. This note she got through Mrs. Sainsbury; that invalid lady at Oxton, who never troubled herself to ask or hear one word beyond her own little world-a certain physic-corner cupboard.

And thou-poor miserable man-thou fratricide in mind-and to thy best belief in act, how drags on now the burden of thy life? For a day or two, spirits and segars muddled his brain, and so kept thoughts away: but within a while they came on him too piercingly, and Julian writhed beneath those scorpion stings of hot and keen remorse: and when the coast-guards dragged the Mullet, how that caitiff trembled! and when nothing could be found, how he wondered fearingly! The only thing the wretched man could do, was to loiter, day after day, and all day long, upon the same high path which skirts the tortuous stream. Fascinated there by hideous recollections, he could not leave the spot for hours: and his soft-headed, romantic mother, noticing these deep abstractions, blessed him-for her Julian was now in love with Emily.

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