Fanshawe, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Chapter 5

“A naughty night to swim in.”— SHAKESPEARE.

The evening of the day succeeding the adventure of the angler was dark and tempestuous. The rain descended almost in a continuous sheet; and occasional powerful gusts of wind drove it hard against the northeastern windows of Hugh Crombie’s inn. But at least one apartment of the interior presented a scene of comfort and of apparent enjoyment, the more delightful from its contrast with the elemental fury that raged without. A fire, which the dullness of the evening, though a summer one, made necessary, was burning brightly on the hearth; and in front was placed a small round table, sustaining wine and glasses. One of the guests for whom these preparations had been made was Edward Walcott; the other was a shy, awkward young man, distinguished, by the union of classic and rural dress, as having but lately become a student of Harley College. He seemed little at his ease, probably from a consciousness that he was on forbidden ground, and that the wine, of which he nevertheless swallowed a larger share than his companion, was an unlawful draught.

In the catalogue of crimes provided against by the laws of Harley College, that of tavern-haunting was one of the principal. The secluded situation of the seminary, indeed, gave its scholars but a very limited choice of vices; and this was, therefore, the usual channel by which the wildness of youth discharged itself. Edward Walcott, though naturally temperate, had been not an unfrequent offender in this respect, for which a superfluity both of time and money might plead some excuse. But, since his acquaintance with Ellen Langton, he had rarely entered Hugh Crombie’s doors; and an interruption in that acquaintance was the cause of his present appearance there.

Edward’s jealous pride had been considerably touched on Ellen’s compliance with the request of the angler. He had, by degrees, imperceptible perhaps to himself, assumed the right of feeling displeased with her conduct; and she had, as imperceptibly, accustomed herself to consider what would be his wishes, and to act accordingly. He would, indeed, in no contingency have ventured an open remonstrance; and such a proceeding would have been attended by a result the reverse of what he desired. But there existed between them a silent compact (acknowledged perhaps by neither, but felt by both), according to which they had regulated the latter part of their intercourse. Their lips had yet spoken no word of love; but some of love’s rights and privileges had been assumed on the one side, and at least not disallowed on the other.

Edward’s penetration had been sufficiently quick to discover that there was a mystery about the angler, that there must have been a cause for the blush that rose so proudly on Ellen’s cheek; and his Quixotism had been not a little mortified, because she did not immediately appeal to his protection. He had, however, paid his usual visit the next day at Dr. Melmoth’s, expecting that, by a smile of more than common brightness, she would make amends to his wounded feelings; such having been her usual mode of reparation in the few instances of disagreement that had occurred between them. But he was disappointed. He found her cold, silent, and abstracted, inattentive when he spoke, and indisposed to speak herself. Her eye was sedulously averted from his; and the casual meeting of their glances only proved that there were feelings in her bosom which he did not share. He was unable to account for this change in her deportment; and, added to his previous conceptions of his wrongs, it produced an effect upon his rather hasty temper, that might have manifested itself violently, but for the presence of Mrs. Melmoth. He took his leave in very evident displeasure; but, just as he closed the door, he noticed an expression in Ellen’s countenance, that, had they been alone, and had not he been quite so proud, would have drawn him down to her feet. Their eyes met, when, suddenly, there was a gush of tears into those of Ellen; and a deep sadness, almost despair, spread itself over her features. He paused a moment, and then went his way, equally unable to account for her coldness, or for her grief. He was well aware, however, that his situation in respect to her was unaccountably changed — a conviction so disagreeable, that, but for a hope that is latent even in the despair of youthful hearts, he would have been sorely tempted to shoot himself.

The gloom of his thoughts — a mood of mind the more intolerable to him, because so unusual — had driven him to Hugh Crombie’s inn in search of artificial excitement. But even the wine had no attractions; and his first glass stood now almost untouched before him, while he gazed in heavy thought into the glowing embers of the fire. His companion perceived his melancholy, and essayed to dispel it by a choice of such topics of conversation as he conceived would be most agreeable.

“There is a lady in the house,” he observed. “I caught a glimpse of her in the passage as we came in. Did you see her, Edward?”

“A lady!” repeated Edward, carelessly. “What know you of ladies? No, I did not see her; but I will venture to say that it was Dame Crombie’s self, and no other.”

“Well, perhaps it might,” said the other, doubtingly. “Her head was turned from me, and she was gone like a shadow.”

“Dame Crombie is no shadow, and never vanishes like one,” resumed Edward. “You have mistaken the slipshod servant-girl for a lady.”

“Ay; but she had a white hand, a small white hand,” said the student, piqued at Edward’s contemptuous opinion of his powers of observation; “as white as Ellen Langton’s.” He paused; for the lover was offended by the profanity of the comparison, as was made evident by the blood that rushed to his brow.

“We will appeal to the landlord,” said Edward, recovering his equanimity, and turning to Hugh, who just then entered the room. “Who is this angel, mine host, that has taken up her abode in the Hand and Bottle?”

Hugh cast a quick glance from one to another before he answered, “I keep no angels here, gentlemen. Dame Crombie would make the house anything but heaven for them and me.”

“And yet Glover has seen a vision in the passage-way — a lady with a small white hand.”

“Ah, I understand! A slight mistake of the young gentleman’s,” said Hugh, with the air of one who could perfectly account for the mystery. “Our passageway is dark; or perhaps the light had dazzled his eyes. It was the Widow Fowler’s daughter, that came to borrow a pipe of tobacco for her mother. By the same token, she put it into her own sweet mouth, and puffed as she went along.”

“But the white hand,” said Glover, only half convinced.

“Nay, I know not,” answered Hugh. “But her hand was at least as white as her face: that I can swear. Well, gentlemen, I trust you find everything in my house to your satisfaction. When the fire needs renewing, or the wine runs low, be pleased to tap on the table. I shall appear with the speed of a sunbeam.”

After the departure of the landlord, the conversation of the young men amounted to little more than monosyllables. Edward Walcott was wrapped in his own contemplations; and his companion was in a half-slumberous state, from which he started every quarter of an hour, at the chiming of the clock that stood in a corner. The fire died gradually away; the lamps began to burn dim; and Glover, rousing himself from one of his periodical slumbers, was about to propose a return to their chambers. He was prevented, however, by the approach of footsteps along the passageway; and Hugh Crombie, opening the door, ushered a person into the room, and retired.

The new-comer was Fanshawe. The water that poured plentifully from his cloak evinced that he had but just arrived at the inn; but, whatever was his object, he seemed not to have attained it in meeting with the young men. He paused near the door, as if meditating whether to retire.

“My intrusion is altogether owing to a mistake, either of the landlord’s or mine,” he said. “I came hither to seek another person; but, as I could not mention his name, my inquiries were rather vague.”

“I thank Heaven for the chance that sent you to us,” replied Edward, rousing himself. “Glover is wretched company; and a duller evening have I never spent. We will renew our fire and our wine, and you must sit down with us. And for the man you seek,” he continued in a whisper, “he left the inn within a half-hour after we encountered him. I inquired of Hugh Crombie last night.”

Fanshawe did not express his doubts of the correctness of the information on which Edward seemed to rely. Laying aside his cloak, he accepted his invitation to make one of the party, and sat down by the fireside.

The aspect of the evening now gradually changed. A strange wild glee spread from one to another of the party, which, much to the surprise of his companions, began with and was communicated from, Fanshawe. He seemed to overflow with conceptions inimitably ludicrous, but so singular, that, till his hearers had imbibed a portion of his own spirit, they could only wonder at, instead of enjoying them. His applications to the wine were very unfrequent; yet his conversation was such as one might expect from a bottle of champagne endowed by a fairy with the gift of speech. The secret of this strange mirth lay in the troubled state of his spirits, which, like the vexed ocean at midnight (if the simile be not too magnificent), tossed forth a mysterious brightness. The undefined apprehensions that had drawn him to the inn still distracted his mind; but, mixed with them, there was a sort of joy not easily to be described. By degrees, and by the assistance of the wine, the inspiration spread, each one contributing such a quantity, and such quality of wit and whim, as was proportioned to his genius; but each one, and all, displaying a greater share of both than they had ever been suspected of possessing.

At length, however, there was a pause — the deep pause of flagging spirits, that always follows mirth and wine. No one would have believed, on beholding the pensive faces, and hearing the involuntary sighs of the party, that from these, but a moment before, had arisen so loud and wild a laugh. During this interval Edward Walcott (who was the poet of his class) volunteered the following song, which, from its want of polish, and from its application to his present feelings, might charitably be taken for an extemporaneous production:—

The wine is bright, the wine is bright;
And gay the drinkers be:
Of all that drain the bowl to-night,
Most jollily drain we.
Oh, could one search the weary earth —
The earth from sea to sea —
He’d turn and mingle in our mirth;
For we’re the merriest three.

Yet there are cares, oh, heavy cares!
We know that they are nigh:
When forth each lonely drinker fares,
Mark then his altered eye.
Care comes upon us when the jest
And frantic laughter die;
And care will watch the parting guest —
Oh late, then let us fly!

Hugh Crombie, whose early love of song and minstrelsy was still alive, had entered the room at the sound of Edward’s voice, in sufficient time to accompany the second stanza on the violin. He now, with the air of one who was entitled to judge in these matters, expressed his opinion of the performance.

“Really, Master Walcott, I was not prepared for this,” he said in the tone of condescending praise that a great man uses to his inferior when he chooses to overwhelm him with excess of joy. “Very well, indeed, young gentleman! Some of the lines, it is true, seem to have been dragged in by the head and shoulders; but I could scarcely have done much better myself at your age. With practice, and with such instruction as I might afford you, I should have little doubt of your becoming a distinguished poet. A great defect in your seminary, gentlemen — the want of due cultivation in this heavenly art.”

“Perhaps, sir,” said Edward, with much gravity, “you might yourself be prevailed upon to accept the professorship of poetry?”

“Why, such an offer would require consideration,” replied the landlord. “Professor Hugh Crombie of Harley College: it has a good sound, assuredly. But I am a public man, Master Walcott; and the public would be loath to spare me from my present office.”

“Will Professor Crombie favor us with a specimen of his productions?” inquired Edward.

“Ahem, I shall be happy to gratify you, young gentleman,” answered Hugh. “It is seldom, in this rude country, Master Walcott, that we meet with kindred genius; and the opportunity should never be thrown away.”

Thus saying, he took a heavy draught of the liquor by which he was usually inspired, and the praises of which were the prevailing subject of his song; then, after much hemming, thrumming, and prelusion, and with many queer gestures and gesticulations, he began to effuse a lyric in the following fashion:—

I’ve been a jolly drinker this five-and-twenty year,
And still a jolly drinker, my friends, you see me here:
I sing the joys of drinking; bear a chorus, every man,
With pint pot and quart pot and clattering of can.

The sense of the professor’s first stanza was not in exact proportion to the sound; but, being executed with great spirit, it attracted universal applause. This Hugh appropriated with a condescending bow and smile; and, making a signal for silence, he went on —

King Solomon of old, boys (a jolly king was he) —

But here he was interrupted by a clapping of hands, that seemed a continuance of the applause bestowed on his former stanza. Hugh Crombie, who, as is the custom of many great performers, usually sang with his eyes shut, now opened them, intending gently to rebuke his auditors for their unseasonable expression of delight. He immediately perceived, however, that the fault was to be attributed to neither of the three young men; and, following the direction of their eyes, he saw near the door, in the dim background of the apartment, a figure in a cloak. The hat was flapped forward, the cloak muffled round the lower part of the face; and only the eyes were visible.

The party gazed a moment in silence, and then rushed en masse upon the intruder, the landlord bringing up the rear, and sounding a charge upon his fiddle. But, as they drew nigh, the black cloak began to assume a familiar look; the hat, also, was an old acquaintance; and, these being removed, from beneath them shone forth the reverend face and form of Dr. Melmoth.

The president, in his quality of clergyman, had, late in the preceding afternoon, been called to visit an aged female who was supposed to be at the point of death. Her habitation was at the distance of several miles from Harley College; so that it was nightfall before Dr. Melmoth stood at her bedside. His stay had been lengthened beyond his anticipation, on account of the frame of mind in which he found the dying woman; and, after essaying to impart the comforts of religion to her disturbed intellect, he had waited for the abatement of the storm that had arisen while he was thus engaged. As the evening advanced, however, the rain poured down in undiminished cataracts; and the doctor, trusting to the prudence and sure-footedness of his steed, had at length set forth on his return. The darkness of the night, and the roughness of the road, might have appalled him, even had his horsemanship and his courage been more considerable than they were; but by the special protection of Providence, as he reasonably supposed (for he was a good man, and on a good errand), he arrived safely as far as Hugh Crombie’s inn. Dr. Melmoth had no intention of making a stay there; but, as the road passed within a very short distance, he saw lights in the windows, and heard the sound of song and revelry. It immediately occurred to him, that these midnight rioters were, probably, some of the young men of his charge; and he was impelled, by a sense of duty, to enter and disperse them. Directed by the voices, he found his way, with some difficulty, to the apartment, just as Hugh concluded his first stanza; and, amidst the subsequent applause, his entrance had been unperceived.

There was a silence of a moment’s continuance after the discovery of Dr. Melmoth, during which he attempted to clothe his round, good-natured face in a look of awful dignity. But, in spite of himself, there was a little twisting of the corners of his mouth, and a smothered gleam in his eye.

“This has, apparently, been a very merry meeting, young gentlemen,” he at length said; “but I fear my presence has cast a damp upon it.”

“Oh yes! your reverence’s cloak is wet enough to cast a damp upon anything,” exclaimed Hugh Crombie, assuming a look of tender anxiety. “The young gentlemen are affrighted for your valuable life. Fear deprives them of utterance: permit me to relieve you of these dangerous garments.”

“Trouble not yourself, honest man,” replied the doctor, who was one of the most gullible of mortals. “I trust I am in no danger; my dwelling being near at hand. But for these young men”—

“Would your reverence but honor my Sunday suit — the gray broadcloth coat, and the black velvet smallclothes, that have covered my unworthy legs but once? Dame Crombie shall have them ready in a moment,” continued Hugh, beginning to divest the doctor of his garments.

“I pray you to appease your anxiety,” cried Dr. Melmoth, retaining a firm hold on such parts of his dress as yet remained to him. “Fear not for my health. I will but speak a word to those misguided youth, and be gone.”

“Misguided youth, did your reverence say?” echoed Hugh, in a tone of utter astonishment. “Never were they better guided than when they entered my poor house. Oh, had your reverence but seen them, when I heard their cries, and rushed forth to their assistance. Dripping with wet were they, like three drowned men at the resurrec — Ahem!” interrupted Hugh, recollecting that the comparison he meditated might not suit the doctor’s ideas of propriety.

“But why were they abroad on such a night?” inquired the president.

“Ah! doctor, you little know the love these good young gentlemen bear for you,” replied the landlord. “Your absence, your long absence, had alarmed them; and they rushed forth through the rain and darkness to seek you.”

“And was this indeed so?” asked the doctor, in a softened tone, and casting a tender and grateful look upon the three students. They, it is but justice to mention, had simultaneously made a step forward in order to contradict the egregious falsehoods of which Hugh’s fancy was so fertile; but he assumed an expression of such ludicrous entreaty, that it was irresistible.

“But methinks their anxiety was not of long continuance,” observed Dr. Melmoth, looking at the wine, and remembering the song that his entrance had interrupted.

“Ah! your reverence disapproves of the wine, I see,” answered Hugh Crombie. “I did but offer them a drop to keep the life in their poor young hearts. My dame advised strong waters; ‘But, Dame Crombie,’ says I, ‘would ye corrupt their youth?’ And in my zeal for their good, doctor, I was delighting them, just at your entrance, with a pious little melody of my own against the sin of drunkenness.”

“Truly, I remember something of the kind,” observed Dr. Melmoth. “And, as I think, it seemed to meet with good acceptance.”

“Ay, that it did!” said the landlord. “Will it please your reverence to hear it? —

King Solomon of old, boys (a wise man I’m thinking),
Has warned you to beware of the horrid vice of drinking —

“But why talk I of drinking, foolish man that I am! And all this time, doctor, you have not sipped a drop of my wine. Now I entreat your reverence, as you value your health and the peace and quiet of these youth.”

Dr. Melmoth drank a glass of wine, with the benevolent intention of allaying the anxiety of Hugh Crombie and the students. He then prepared to depart; for a strong wind had partially dispersed the clouds, and occasioned an interval in the cataract of rain. There was, perhaps, a little suspicion yet remaining in the good man’s mind respecting the truth of the landlord’s story: at least, it was his evident intention to see the students fairly out of the inn before he quitted it himself. They therefore proceeded along the passageway in a body. The lamp that Hugh Crombie held but dimly enlightened them; and the number and contiguity of the doors caused Dr. Melmoth to lay his hand upon the wrong one.

“Not there, not there, doctor! It is Dame Crombie’s bedchamber,” shouted Hugh, most energetically. “Now Beelzebub defend me!” he muttered to himself, perceiving that his exclamation had been a moment too late.

“Heavens! what do I see?” ejaculated Dr. Melmoth, lifting his hands, and starting back from the entrance of the room. The three students pressed forward; Mrs. Crombie and the servant-girl had been drawn to the spot by the sound of Hugh’s voice; and all their wondering eyes were fixed on poor Ellen Langton.

The apartment in the midst of which she stood was dimly lighted by a solitary candle at the farther extremity; but Ellen was exposed to the glare of the three lamps, held by Hugh, his wife, and the servant-girl. Their combined rays seemed to form a focus exactly at the point where they reached her; and the beholders, had any been sufficiently calm, might have watched her features in their agitated workings and frequent change of expression, as perfectly as by the broad light of day. Terror had at first blanched her as white as a lily, or as a marble statue, which for a moment she resembled, as she stood motionless in the centre of the room. Shame next bore sway; and her blushing countenance, covered by her slender white fingers, might fantastically be compared to a variegated rose with its alternate stripes of white and red. The next instant, a sense of her pure and innocent intentions gave her strength and courage; and her attitude and look had now something of pride and dignity. These, however, in their turn, gave way; for Edward Walcott pressed forward, and attempted to address her.

“Ellen, Ellen!” he said, in an agitated and quivering whisper; but what was to follow cannot be known; for his emotion checked his utterance. His tone and look, however, again overcame Ellen Langton, and she burst into tears. Fanshawe advanced, and took Edward’s arm. “She has been deceived,” he whispered. “She is innocent: you are unworthy of her if you doubt it.”

“Why do you interfere, sir?” demanded Edward, whose passions, thoroughly excited, would willingly have wreaked themselves on any one. “What right have you to speak of her innocence? Perhaps,” he continued, an undefined and ridiculous suspicion arising in his mind — “perhaps you are acquainted with her intentions. Perhaps you are the deceiver.”

Fanshawe’s temper was not naturally of the meekest character; and having had a thousand bitter feelings of his own to overcome, before he could attempt to console Edward, this rude repulse had almost aroused him to fierceness. But his pride, of which a more moderate degree would have had a less peaceable effect, came to his assistance; and he turned calmly and contemptuously away.

Ellen, in the mean time, had been restored to some degree of composure. To this effect, a feeling of pique against Edward Walcott had contributed. She had distinguished his voice in the neighboring apartment, had heard his mirth and wild laughter, without being aware of the state of feeling that produced them. She had supposed that the terms on which they parted in the morning (which had been very grievous to herself) would have produced a corresponding sadness in him. But while she sat in loneliness and in tears, her bosom distracted by a thousand anxieties and sorrows, of many of which Edward was the object, his reckless gayety had seemed to prove the slight regard in which he held her. After the first outbreak of emotion, therefore, she called up her pride (of which, on proper occasions, she had a reasonable share), and sustained his upbraiding glance with a passive composure, which women have more readily at command than men.

Dr. Melmoth’s surprise had during this time kept him silent and inactive. He gazed alternately from one to another of those who stood around him, as if to seek some explanation of so strange an event. But the faces of all were as perplexed as his own; even Hugh Crombie had assumed a look of speechless wonder — speechless, because his imagination, prolific as it was, could not supply a plausible falsehood.

“Ellen, dearest child,” at length said the doctor, “what is the meaning of this?”

Ellen endeavored to reply; but, as her composure was merely external, she was unable to render her words audible. Fanshawe spoke in a low voice to Dr. Melmoth, who appeared grateful for his advice.

“True, it will be the better way,” he replied. “My wits are utterly confounded, or I should not have remained thus long. Come, my dear child,” he continued, advancing to Ellen, and taking her hand, “let us return home, and defer the explanation till the morrow. There, there: only dry your eyes, and we will say no more about it.”

“And that will be your wisest way, old gentleman,” muttered Hugh Crombie.

Ellen at first exhibited but little desire, or, rather, an evident reluctance, to accompany her guardian. She hung back, while her glance passed almost imperceptibly over the faces that gazed so eagerly at her; but the one she sought was not visible among them. She had no alternative, and suffered herself to be led from the inn.

Edward Walcott alone remained behind, the most wretched being (at least such was his own opinion) that breathed the vital air. He felt a sinking and sickness of the heart, and alternately a feverish frenzy, neither of which his short and cloudless existence had heretofore occasioned him to experience. He was jealous of, he knew not whom, and he knew not what. He was ungenerous enough to believe that Ellen — his pure and lovely Ellen — had degraded herself; though from what motive, or by whose agency, he could not conjecture. When Dr. Melmoth had taken her in charge, Edward returned to the apartment where he had spent the evening. The wine was still upon the table; and, in the desperate hope of stupefying his faculties, he unwisely swallowed huge successive draughts. The effect of his imprudence was not long in manifesting itself; though insensibility, which at another time would have been the result, did not now follow. Acting upon his previous agitation, the wine seemed to set his blood in a flame; and, for the time being, he was a perfect madman.

A phrenologist would probably have found the organ of destructiveness in strong development, just then, upon Edward’s cranium; for he certainly manifested an impulse to break and destroy whatever chanced to be within his reach. He commenced his operations by upsetting the table, and breaking the bottles and glasses. Then, seizing a tall heavy chair in each hand, he hurled them with prodigious force — one through the window, and the other against a large looking-glass, the most valuable article of furniture in Hugh Crombie’s inn. The crash and clatter of these outrageous proceedings soon brought the master, mistress, and maid-servant to the scene of action; but the two latter, at the first sight of Edward’s wild demeanor and gleaming eyes, retreated with all imaginable expedition. Hugh chose a position behind the door, from whence, protruding his head, he endeavored to mollify his inebriated guest. His interference, however, had nearly been productive of most unfortunate consequences; for a massive andiron, with round brazen head, whizzed past him, within a hair’s-breadth of his ear.

“I might as safely take my chance in a battle,” exclaimed Hugh, withdrawing his head, and speaking to a man who stood in the passageway. “A little twist of his hand to the left would have served my turn as well as if I stood in the path of a forty-two pound ball. And here comes another broadside,” he added, as some other article of furniture rattled against the door.

“Let us return his fire, Hugh,” said the person whom he addressed, composedly lifting the andiron. “He is in want of ammunition: let us send him back his own.”

The sound of this man’s voice produced a most singular effect upon Edward. The moment before, his actions had been those of a raving maniac; but, when the words struck his ear, he paused, put his hand to his forehead, seemed to recollect himself, and finally advanced with a firm and steady step. His countenance was dark and angry, but no longer wild.

“I have found you, villain!” he said to the angler. “It is you who have done this.”

“And, having done it, the wrath of a boy — his drunken wrath — will not induce me to deny it,” replied the other, scornfully.

“The boy will require a man’s satisfaction,” returned Edward, “and that speedily.”

“Will you take it now?” inquired the angler, with a cool, derisive smile, and almost in a whisper. At the same time he produced a brace of pistols, and held them towards the young man.

“Willingly,” answered Edward, taking one of the weapons. “Choose your distance.”

The angler stepped back a pace; but before their deadly intentions, so suddenly conceived, could be executed, Hugh Crombie interposed himself between them.

“Do you take my best parlor for the cabin of the Black Andrew, where a pistol-shot was a nightly pastime?” he inquired of his comrade. “And you, Master Edward, with what sort of a face will you walk into the chapel to morning prayers, after putting a ball through this man’s head, or receiving one through your own? Though, in this last case, you will be past praying for, or praying either.”

“Stand aside: I will take the risk. Make way, or I will put the ball through your own head,” exclaimed Edward, fiercely: for the interval of rationality that circumstances had produced was again giving way to intoxication.

“You see how it is,” said Hugh to his companion, unheard by Edward. “You shall take a shot at me, sooner than at the poor lad in his present state. You have done him harm enough already, and intend him more. I propose,” he continued aloud, and with a peculiar glance towards the angler, “that this affair be decided tomorrow, at nine o’clock, under the old oak, on the bank of the stream. In the mean time, I will take charge of these popguns, for fear of accidents.”

“Well, mine host, be it as you wish,” said his comrade. “A shot more or less is of little consequence to me.” He accordingly delivered his weapon to Hugh Crombie and walked carelessly away.

“Come, Master Walcott, the enemy has retreated. Victoria! And now, I see, the sooner I get you to your chamber, the better,” added he aside; for the wine was at last beginning to produce its legitimate effect, in stupefying the young man’s mental and bodily faculties.

Hugh Crombie’s assistance, though not, perhaps, quite indispensable, was certainly very convenient to our unfortunate hero, in the course of the short walk that brought him to his chamber. When arrived there, and in bed, he was soon locked in a sleep scarcely less deep than that of death.

The weather, during the last hour, had appeared to be on the point of changing: indeed, there were, every few minutes, most rapid changes. A strong breeze sometimes drove the clouds from the brow of heaven, so as to disclose a few of the stars; but, immediately after, the darkness would again become Egyptian, and the rain rush like a torrent from the sky.

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38