by Charles Reade
Vixere fortes ante Ortona.
As this story is historical, many real names figure in it. Should the same names still exist, please do not connect their present owners with my characters, who died a century ago. Example: The Earl of Anglesey, who plays so ill a part in these pages, was an Annesley, and no relation whatever to the chivalrous Pagets. The old earldom expired in 1771. In 1815 Parliament bestowed the title on one of the heroes of Waterloo, by whose direct descendant it is held.
ONE raw windy day in the spring of 1726, there was a strange buzzing by the side of a public road in the very heart of old Ireland. It came from a great many boys, seated by the roadside, plying their books and slates, with here and there a neighborly prod, followed by invectives, whispered--for the pedagogue was marching up and down the line with a keen eye, and an immensely long black ruler, well known to the back and limbs of the scholars, except three or four whose fathers asked him to dine on poultry or butcher's meat, whenever those rarities were at the fire. The schoolroom stood opposite, and still belched through its one window the peat smoke that had driven out the hive. There was a chimney, but so constructed that, on a windy day, the smoke pooh-poohed it, and sought the sky by vents more congenial to the habits of the nation.
The boys were mostly farmers' sons, in long frieze coats, breeches loose at the knee, clouted shoes tied with strips of raw neat-skin, and slovenly caubeens; but there was a sprinkling of broadcloth, plain three-cornered hats, and shoe-buckles; there were also five or six barefooted urchins, not the worst scholars there; for this strange anomalous people, with many traits of the pure savage, had been leaders in mediæval literature, had founded the University of Paris, and had still a noble reverence for learning. The humblest would struggle to pay a sharp boy's schooling, and so qualify him for business, perhaps for the priesthood itself-- pinnacle of an Irish peasant's ambition.
Aloof from this motley line stood a single, timid figure--a boy with delicate skin and exquisite golden hair, his face pale and anxious. He wore a straight-cut coat, scarlet once, but now a rusty-red, no hat, shoes with steel buckles--and holes. This decayed little gentleman peered anxiously round a corner of the building, and, as soon as ever the school broke up with horrid yells, ran and hid himself.
Too late. One quick young eye had seen him; and while the rest dispersed--two or three galloping off on rough ponies, neck or naught, in a style to set their unfortunate mothers screaming to the saints--a little party of five, eager for diversion on the spot where they had suffered study, chased that golden-haired boy, with an appalling whoop. Fear gave him wings; but numbers prevailed. They caught him, and plagued him, sore; jibed him, poked him, pinched him, got him by the head and legs, and flogged a tree with him, and, in the exuberance of their gay hearts, pumped on his head till he gasped, and cried for mercy--in vain.
"That is foul play--five to one," said a cheerful voice--crick, crack, crick, crack, crack--and in a moment Master Matthews, one of the superior scholars, made all five heads ring with a light shillelah, but not a grain of malice: only he-was a promising young cudgel-player, and must be diverted as well as the younger ones. The obstreperous mirth turned, with ludicrous swiftness, to yells of dismay; but the war-like spirit of the O'Tooles and the O'Shaughnessies soon revived; the pedagogue and his solitary servant Norah ran out staring, just in time to see battle arrayed with traditionary skill; here a crescent of five armed with stones, there Master Matthews, with a tree at his back, the lid of a slop-pail for shield, and a shillelah for sword, grinding his teeth, and looking dangerous, the fair-haired boy clasping his hands apart.
"Och, ye disperadoes! ye murtherin' villins: what is this at all?" cried Mr. Hoolaghan.
Then each side set to work to talk him over. "Masther avick," whined the army, "he broke our heads, and kilt us with his murtherin' shillelah, the maraudin' villin, intirely."
"Masther, dear, they were five to one, torminting the life out of this little boccawn. Why didn't ye catch up a flint and crack their skull like nuts at Hallowe'en?"
"Och! hear to the fungaleering ruffin!" And five hands were lifted high in a moment, each armed with a pebble.
Then the pedagogue grew warm, and gave them what he called his "tall English." "The first that rises a hand I'll poolverize um. Lay down your bellicose weapons, ye insurrectionary thaves, or Norah shall perforate ye--bring the spit out, wench--and transfix ye to the primises, while I flagellate ye by dozens, till the blood pours down yer heels; lay down yer sprig of homicide, and stand on it this minit, ye vagabone, or I'll baste you with the kitchen poker till your back is coorant jelly and your head is a mashed turnup."
Mrs. Malaprop observed, in the next generation, that "there is nothing so conciliating to young people as a little severity;" and so it proved even in this. The weapons were laid down; and then Matthew Hoolaghan, changing at once to the most affectionate and dulcet tones, said, "Now, honeys, we'll discoorse the matter, not like the barbarian voolgar, that can only ratiocinate with a bludgeon, but like good Chrischins and rale Piripatetic philosophers that I have insensed in polite larning, multiplication, and all the humanities, glory be to God! Spake first, ye omadhaun, ye causa titirrima belly; and revale your crime."
"Masther, sir," said the victim, "I never done no crime. They do be always torminting me. I never offinded them. Spake the truth, now: did iver I offind you?"
"Sowl, ye did, thin! Masther, dear, look at urn: he's got a Protestant face."
"Oh, fie! my father is a good Catholic; isn't he, then, sir?"
The pedagogue took fright at this turn. "Och, murther, murther!" he shrieked. "Ye conthrairy divils, would ye import the apple o' discord, an' set my two parishes cracking skulls and starving me? Would ye conflagrate the Timple of the Muses with ojum Theologicum? The first that divairges to controvarsial polimics in this Acadimy, I'll go to my brother, the priest, and have him exkimminicated alive. Face! it is a likely face enough, I'm thinkin'."
"It's the purtiest in the school, ony way," said Norah, the argument having now come within her scope, "and a dale the clanest." Whereupon one of these ready imps reminded her it was the oftenest pumped on.
Said another, "He shouldn't pretind to be a lord's son, then, the little glorigoteen."
"But I am a lord's son," said the boy stoutly. Then there was a roar of derision. But the boy persisted that he was Lord Altham's son, and half the county of Wexford belonged to his father. Both sides appealed to the master; but he only said, "Hum!" So Norah put in her word, and said the boy had been brought there by a great lord, in a coach and six; and the lord had kissed him tenderly, and called him his darling Jemmy in her sight and hearing.
Mr. Hoolaghan admitted all that, but said, "If he was my lord's real son, would my lord leave his board, lodging, and schooling unpaid these fourteen months?"
"Divil a one of him!" replied an urchin with the modest promptitude of his tribe.
Jemmy was himself struck by this argument. "Alas, then!" said he, "I fear he must be dead. He was always good to me before. I was never away from him in all my life till now. Norah, when we were at Kinna, I had a little horse and boots, and rode with him a-hunting. I went to a day school, then; and mine was the only laced hat in the school. I brought it here."
"Thrue for you, ma bouchal," said Norah; "and by the same token 'twas that thief o' the warld, Tim Doolan, that stripped it, and gave the lace to his cross-eyed wench, bad luck to the pair of 'em!"
"Oh, master!" cried James, all of a sudden, clasping his hands, "you that knows everything, tell me, is my father dead? The only friend I have. Ochoon! Ochoon!"
"Nay, nay," said Hoolaghan, touched by this cry of despair. "Jemmy avick, if Lord Altham is your father, ye needn't cry and wring your hands; for he is alive, bad cess to him: my cousin seen him in Dublin a sennight ago, spinding money like wather, and divil a tinpenny has he paid me this fourteen, months."
"Masther, sir," said Jemmy firmly, "how far is it to Dublin, av ye plase?"
"A hundre miles and more "
"Then I'll go to him there, sir."
There was an ironical shout.
"Give me one good male to start on, and I'll go; for I'm a lost boy here: and I'm ashamed to be in this place, an' him not paying for me, like the rest."
Now, this sudden resolution was quite agreeable to Hoolaghan. Norah took the boy into the kitchen to feed him for the journey. The cubs began to feel rather sorry; for they were thoughtless, not bad-hearted. They scraped together four-pence for his journey. Norah gave him an old hat, and kisses, and a word of feminine advice. "Mabouchal," said she, "wheniver you are in trouble, spake to the women; they will be your best friends; but keep clear of your own color--not intirely--only brown women and yellow women is more prifirabler, by raison you are fair, like an angel herself."
The boys set him on his road a mile; then stopped, and blessed him, and asked his forgiveness, being, to tell the truth, now quaking in the shoes of superstition, lest he should put "the hard word" on them at parting--and him "a piece of an orphan," as the biggest remarked. But his nature was too gentle for that. He forgave them, and blessed them; and they all kissed him, and he kissed them; and they went their way. But Matthews would go another mile with him. At parting, he said, "Tell me God's truth. Are ye that lord's son?"
"Indeed, then, I am, sir."
"I wish I had known before. Let me look at thee well. I wonder whether I shall ever meet thee again, purty Jemmy."
"Indeed, and I hope so, sir; for you are all the friend I iver found in this place."
"Jemmy, it seems hard to make friends one afternoon, and then to part forever," said the elder boy, philosophizing.
Jemmy's heart was swelling already; and at this the lonely boy began to cry piteously. Then Matthews blubbered right out; and so they cried together, and kissed one another many times: and James Annesley began his wanderings.
He walked on till dusk, and saw a small farm. He went by Norah's advice--made up straight to the farmer's wife, and asked her leave to sleep on the premises. She looked at him full before she answered; gave him some potatoes and buttermilk, and let him sleep in a little barn. He walked on the next day, and fared much the same; but by the third day he got footsore, and could only limp along; but he persevered. He sometimes got a lift in a cart; and sometimes, when a farmer's wife or daughter, on horseback, overtook him, he would appeal to her, especially if she was dark. And, true it was, the dark women, of whom there were plenty in Ireland, would generally take him up, and give him a ride before or behind, as might be most convenient.
Still creeping on, he got into a county where the people had faces unlike those he had left behind; and both men and women wore long frieze cloaks, and the women linen head-dresses, and sometimes a handkerchief over that. And he limped into a village where was a sort of fair; but he had no money left to spend, and he sat down on the shaft of a cart, disconsolate, and, seeing others so merry, began to weep with fatigue, hunger, and sorrow. By-and-by a man saw him, and asked him what ailed him; and he told his sad case. "Nay, then, sir," said the man, "you must come to the O'Brien." He took him to a little old man, exceedingly shabby, on a little white horse. He doffed his caubeen, and said, "An it plase your Honor's worship, this is a gintleman's son in throuble: he's hunting his own father. Glory be to God!"
"Who is your father, friend?" asked the O'Brien.
"An please your Worship, he is my Lord Altham."
The O'Brien made a wry face. "That is not Oirish," said he. "Some mushroom lord; maybe one of William's men."
"Nay, sir; he is a good Catholic. Glory be to the saints!"
By this time there was a bit of a crowd collected to hear; but the dialogue was interrupted by a simple fellow who had lost his wife. He burst in wildly, crying, "Arrah, people, people, did ye see Mary Sullivan--a tall woman, a tall yellow woman, not very yellow intirely--with a white pipe in her cheek?" They roared at him; but he just rushed on, repeating that strange formula. The fair rang with it. Well, the little old scarecrow, descended from Ireland's kings, took Jemmy home on his saddle-bow. Caubeens were lifted in the village, wherever this decayed noble passed.
He told the boy the whole county belonged to him and his ancestors; and he should sup and sleep where he liked. Finally, he showed him a large mansion and a cabin, not far apart; let him know that these houses were his; only, various families had lived in the mansion for the last few centuries. "Now, sir," said he, "will you slape in my large house, where other people live this five hundred years, by my lave, or in my small house, where I live--at prisent--for my convaynience?"
Says Jemmy, "Sir, the small house, if it please you; by reason I desire your company, as well as your house." The mighty scarecrow was pleased with this answer, and took him to his mud cabin. He sent his one servant, a bare-legged girl, to demand a rasher from a neighboring farmer. No doubt she said the O'Brien had company; for eggs and perch were sent directly, as well as a large piece of bacon. The two personages supped together, and slept on one heap of straw. In the morning, one peasant brought buttermilk, and another trout, and another oatmeal, and another a vehicle, the body of which was a square box, suspended on a strap; and the O'Brien's guest was taken five miles on his road, and his blessing sought by his conductor, a simple peasant, who discoursed on the grandeur of the O'Brien, and boasted that neither he nor his race had ever done a hand's turn of work--and would never be allowed to--in the country. James limped out of that county into another, and met with no adventure till he came to Dunnyshallan and was turned into a dice-box. The young men of the village had cut a gigantic back-gammon board on the green, very neat: it occupied the sixth part of an acre; and they had black and white flagstones to play with. Their dice-box was always a boy; and, catching sight of James, one sang out, "Hurrooh! here's a strange gossoon. We'll have luck all round."
So James was seated on high, with his back to the players, and ordered, on pain of death, to sing out sixes fours, quatre-ace, and all the combinations ad libitum. He complied, to avoid worse; and then it was he learned the literature of curses, in which this one small island was so fertile and ingenious that all the blasphemy in all the rest of Europe was poor and monotonous by comparison. The infinite maledictions would doubtless have instructed and amused him, had they been leveled at another; but, being fired at him whenever he called a number that did not suit the player, and uttered with every appearance of fury, they frightened him, and he began to tremble and snivel.
"Now, thin, ye vagabone, give me a good number, or may St. Anthony's sow trample out your intrails!"
"Oh, oh, oh! Sixes."
"Sixes! ye conthrary villin! Is it sixes I'm asking? The divil go a buck-hunting with ye!"
"Oh, oh, oh!"
"Never heed the bally-ragging ruffin. Cry for me now, honey."
"Oh! I'm afraid. Deuce-ace."
"Och! ye're a broth of a boy. May ye live till the skirts of your coat knock your brains out! Now cry for Barney."
"Oh! I am afraid to spake. The Virgin be good to me! Deuce-ace."
"Och! ye thafe o' the world. May you die with a caper in your heel, and give the crows a puddin'!"
And so on till dark, when a losing player threatened to murther the Dice. A winner objected. The two quarreled: shillelahs crossed; a ring was made; and there was much subtle play, and the whistling cudgels parried, or met with a clash, and bent over each other, till at last Jemmy's friend parried an excessive blow, and, rising nimbly, delivered such a crasher on the other's skull, that it literally shot him to the ground like a bullet, and he rolled over by the impetus after he landed.
Then Jemmy screamed with dismay; but the more experienced laughed at his notion of what the true old Irish skull would bear; and the victor took him home to supper and bed, i.e., stirabout and straw.
He came to a fall in a river, eight feet high, and saw salmon glittering prismatic in the sun, like rainbows, as they leaped; but they struck the descending column a foot too low, struggled in it a moment, then came down as stupid as tin fish. And here he saw a sight he might have traveled creation, and never seen elsewhere--a corpse-like man lying flat in a coffin, and towed gingerly up to the fall by his bare-armed wife straddling on a rock: the man caught the salmon on the ground, one after the other, by the belly, with a cart-rope and three barbed hooks that would have landed a whale. 'Twas his own coffin, ordered by his uneasy wife, with true Hibernian judgment, the moment he was expected to die. But the salmon came up from the sea, and began to leap like mad. Pat put off dying directly, and took to poaching. We are creatures of habit; and salmon-slaughtering was his custom at that time of year, not dying.
The woman being dark--partly with dirt--James besought her for a fish supper. She boiled him half a salmon, and threw the rest to the pig; but she told James that in the big towns there were fools who would give 4s. a hundred-weight for the trash. Within fifteen miles of the capital he witnessed two abductions--one real, one sham; both commonish customs. The imitation was the lineal descendant of the real; and the men halloed and galloped so much alike in both pageants, and the two brides screamed so much alike, that he never knew for certain which was the Pseudo-Sabine, which the real, and never will. His feet were bleeding; his clothes only just hung together; his little heart was faint; when at last he mounted a hill, and looked down on a city, which, by its buildings, its size, and its blue-slated roofs, far transcended all that he had ever imagined of a mortal city. The town did not then overflow into pretty villas. Mud cabins prevailed up to the city gates; and from them this weary, wondering child plunged into streets and mansions. At the very first street he stopped and asked a decent man where Lord Altham lived. The decent man met this question by another: "How was he to know?" The same answer was returned in the next street, and the next; and this poor little mite of humanity wandered up and down in vain. Then a great and new fear fell on him: this Dublin was not a town, like Ross; it was another world--a world of stone and slate, and hard hearts, not like the simple country folk. He might as well grope for his father in all Ireland as in this wilderness of labyrinths of stone. Snubbed, sneered at, rejected on all sides, he cried his sick heart and his hungry stomach to sleep in a church porch; and so he passed his first night in the capital.
Day after day the same, till at last he found a dark woman, a gentleman's cook, who listened to his tale, and gave him some broken victuals. She was an Englishwoman; her name was Martha. One day Jemmy came for his dinner, as usual, but was disappointed. Kathleen, the kitchen-maid, informed him, with a marked elevation of the nose, that Madam had gone out for the day, and locked up the safe, like a mane, miserly Sassenach as she was, bad cess to her and all her dhirty breed; but she'd be back again by five. Hungry Jemmy attended faithfully at five, in spite of the rain; and great was his surprise and awe when two chairmen brought up a chair, and there emerged from it--a duchess? No; but a fair imitation thereof; Mrs. Martha, with her income on her back, and two little black patches on her cheeks. She smiled at his adoration, paid the chairmen loftily, who retired with expressions of adulation, and sly satirical looks at each other; and she took James by the hand, and led him to her sanctum.
"Sir," said she, instead of "child," or "my dear," as heretofore, "I have been visiting my friends; and, from one to another, I have found ye my Lord Altham; as luck would have it, a countrywoman of mine, one Elizabeth Grainger, she lives in the house; but she tells me she shall give her notice." -- "Oh madam! dear, good madam!" began Jemmy.--"Nay, sir," said she, "but you must hear me out. I'm afeard you will not be so welcome as you ought to be. You are as sensible a little gentleman as e'er I saw; so I'll e'en tell you the truth; Mrs. Betty did let me know my lord is in ill hands; this Dame Gregory and her daughter have got him: the old woman goes about her own house like a servant; but miss, she is mistress, and games with the quality, and spends money like dirt; they are betrothed to each other, and his wife lying sick in the town, on her way back to England. Poor soul! She rues the day she ever saw this hole of a country, I'll go bail. They look for her to die--for their convenience. Well, if I was her, I'd spite 'em; I'd play the woman, and outlive the brute and the hussy both, saving your presence."
"Oh, madam, an' if it please you, where does my father live?"
"'Tis in Frapper Lane, the corner house. What, will you be going, and no supper? Nay, then, God speed you. Give me a kiss, sweetheart. So. Your breath is honey. Sir," said she, courtesying to him all of a sudden, "I do wish you well. When you come into your estate, sir, prithee remember Martha Knatchbull, that took your part when Fortune frowned."
"Ay, that I will, good, kind lady," said James, still overpowered by her glorious costume; and so he shuffled off, limping fast, and, in the hunger of his longing heart, forgot his hungry belly for a time.
To give the reader some idea of the house he was going to, I will sketch the domestic performances from nine, P.M., on the previous evening. Lord Altham and friends had a drinking bout, at the end of which he was assisted to bed and his friends sent home in chairs. But the ladies did not drink; they gamed their lives away. Mistress Anne Gregory received Lady Dace and Mistress Carmichael, and other ladies gloriously dressed, and, at first starting, most polite and ceremonious; they drank tea, and soon warmed into scandal--each accusing some other lady of her own especial vice--till at last they got upon politics. Inflamed by this topic, they soon boiled over: voices lose over voices; not a single tongue was mute a moment; and such was the babel, that at last the fat, lazy lapdog wriggled himself erect, and looked furiously at the disturbers of his peace. Then a Neptune arose to still the raging voices: in other words, Mrs. Betty set out the card-tables. Down they sat, and soon their eyes were gleaming, and their flesh trembling with excitement. Mistress Anne Gregory held bad cards; she had to pawn ring after ring--for these ladies, being well acquainted with each other, never played on parole--and she kept bemoaning her bad luck. "Betty, I knew how 'twould be. The parson called today-- This odious chair, why will you stick me in it? -- Stand further, girl. I always lose when you look on." Mrs. Betty tossed her head, and went behind another lady. Miss Gregory still lost, and had to pawn her snuff-box to Lady Dace. She consoled herself by an insinuation: "My lady, you touched your wedding-ring. That was a sign to your partner here."
"Nay, madam, 'twas but a sign my finger itched. But, if you go to that, you spoke a word which began with H. Then she knew you had the king of hearts."
"That is like miss, here," said another matron: "she rubs her chair when she hath Matadore in hand."
"Set a thief to catch a thief, madam," was miss's ingenious and polished reply.
"Hey-dey!" cries one. "Here's Spadillo got a mark on the back: a child might know it in the dark. Mistress Pigot, I wish you'd be pleased to pare your nails."
In short, they said things to each other all night, the slightest of which, among men, would have filled the Phoenix Park next morning with drawn swords: but it went for little here: they were all cheats, and knew it, and knew the others knew it, and didn't care. It was four o'clock before they broke up, huddled on their cloaks and hoods, and their chairs took them home with cold feet and aching heads.
At twelve next day, Miss Gregory was prematurely disturbed by her lapdog, barking like a demon for his breakfast. She stretched, gaped, unglued her eyes, and rang for Betty. No answer. She rang again, and beat the wall viciously with her slipper. Betty came in yawning.
"Here, child. Let in some light. Nay, not so much: wouldst blind me?--I'm dead of the vapors. Get me a dram of citron-water. So. --Now bring me a looking glass. I will lie abed. Alack! I look frightfully to-day. If ever I touch a card again. Didst ever see such luck as mine? Four Matadores, and lose Codille!"
"Nay, madam," said Mrs. Betty, who was infected with the tastes of her betters, "with submission, you played bad cards."
"Hoity toity, wench!" cried the lady: "was ever such assurance? What is the world coming to?" And she packed her off contemptuously, to get her tea and cream.
Betty turned pale with wrath, but retired. Once outside the door, she said, "I'll be even with the jade. I'm as good as she."
Miss Gregory was at her glass when Betty returned with the tea. "Madam," said she, with a sly sneer, "the goldsmith waits below, to know if you'll redeem the silver cup."
"There, give him that for interest."
"And my Lady Dace has sent her maid."
"That is for her winnings. Never was such a dun. Here, take these ten pistoles my lord left for the wine merchant. They are all light, thank Heaven!"
At two, being half-dressed, and the room tidied, but not a window opened, she received the visit of a fop. He paid her hyperbolical compliments, at which you should have seen Mrs. Betty's lip curl, and was consulted as to where she should put her patches; but was driven out, like chaff before the wind, by a creature more attractive, to wit, a mercer with silks, patterns, and laces, from Paris: so the toilet was not complete at four, when a footman knocked at the door with, "Madam, dinner stays."
"Then the cook must keep it back. I never can have time to dress; and I am sure no living woman takes less."
However, she soon came down, distended with an enormous hoop, glorious with brocaded skirt and quilted petticoat, and cocked up on red high-heeled shoes; bedizened, be-laced, powdered, pomatumed, pulvilloed, patched, perfumed, and everything else--except washed; yet less savage than the men in one respect; the commode and all the pyramidal, scaffolded heads had gone out: her hair was her own, and, though long, was compressed into a small compass, whereas the gentlemen had full-bottomed wigs that smothered their heads, contracted their cheeks, flowed over their shoulders, and beflowered their backs.
My Lord Altham and two or three other gentlemen were there, and three ladies. Lord Altham, a little dark man with a loud voice, received her with great respect, and told her they waited only for his brother, Capt. Richard Annesley.
"Nay, he will not come, methinks," said she. "He and I had words t'other day."
"Nay, then, let the churl hang. "Who waits?"
A flaring footman appeared, as if his string had been pulled.
"Bid them serve the dinner."
"I will, my lord."
For the conversation during dinner, see "Swift's Polite Conversation." You will be a gainer by the exchange; for the discourse at Lord Altham's board was half as coarse, and not half so witty.
Soon after dinner the host proposed "Church and State."
From that moment the ladies were evidently on their guard, and ready for flight.
"Parson," says my lord, "I'll tell you a merry story."
The ladies rose like one and retired. My lord, having achieved his end, for at this time of night the bottle was his mistress until it became his master, substituted a toast for his story:
"The finest sight beneath the moon,
Is to see the ladies quit the room."
He then ordered the present bottles and glasses to be exchanged for others that would not stand upright, the stems of the glasses having been knocked off, and the decanters being made like a soda-water bottle. This insured so brisk a circulation, that, although they were gentlemen who had all "made their heads" in early life, the claret began to tell, as was proved by the swift alternations of superfluous ire and hyperbolical affection and peals of idiotic laughter; when, in the midst of the din, an altercation was heard in the hall. The disputants were three, and each voice had its own key: first there was a sweet little quavering soprano, appealing to a flaming footman; then there was a flaming footman, objurgating the cherubic voice an octave lower; then came the commanding alto of Mrs. Betty.
"What is to do?" roared Lord Altham.
"Why," said Mrs. Betty, seizing this opportunity, "'tis a young gentleman that hath traveled an hundred miles to see my lord, and my lord's valet denied him, being stained with travel; but 'twas ill done, and him of kin to my lord."
"Of kin to my lord! Nay, then, Mistress Betty, he is welcome to all here."
Betty, who had her cue from the English cook, and who was already interested in the fair, sorrowful young face and golden hair, made no more ado, but led James into the room by the hand. The numerous lights in the candelabra dazzled him at first, and the fine clothes and perukes awed him; he hid against Betty's capacious apron, that descended from waist to ankle. Then he peered, and saw Lord Altham standing up, looking half-pleased, half-vexed; he gave a loud cry, as if his heart was flying out of his body, stretched out his arms, and flew to him. "Oh, father, father!" The sorrow he had endured, the joy and infinite trust that swallowed all sorrow up at sight of his father, both spoke in that one wild cry; it thrilled; it startled; it sent Mrs. Betty's apron to her eyes in a moment, and pierced the heart even of this silly, brutal lord.
"My boy! my sweet Jemmy!" he cried, and sat down, and folded him in his arm, and kissed him tenderly, with a mawkish tear or two.
The guests then stood up respectfully and drank welcome to the young gentleman. "Not forgetting Mrs. Betty, that brought him to us," said the chaplain, who had a sheep's eye to her and her savings: she was a Sassenach, and sure to have savings; Irish savings were not.
"Father," said Jemmy, "they used me very crule at that school: bad luck to it. They were always bating me; and the masther would not rise a hand for me bekase you sent him no money for my schoolin'. Why didn't you send him his money?"
This, which would have made a Sassenach father blush, did but divert my lord and his company. "I kept it for yourself, Jemmy," said he.
"My lord is a great saver, sir. Long life to him," said another.
"Father avick, does my mother live here?" said Jemmy.
Now, this question made the company very uncomfortable. It quite staggered Lord Altham for a minute. But he burst out furiously--
"Thou hast no mother."
"Nay, father; then what hath come of the gentlewoman that had red shoes, two pair, made for me in Ross; and the likely woman that brought me woolen hose she had made for me herself, and called me her child?" Then, seeing my lord silent, and much disturbed, he bethought himself, and said, "Well, if my mothers are both dead, I must love thee all the more."
Betty, who was watching Lord Altham's face very keenly all the time, now stepped forward, and took James away. She fed him, and then proceeded to ablutions. The cleanliness of his skin, dusty but not grimed, surprised her: but above all, his head. "Gramercy!" said she; "not one to be seen, and they swarm in my lady's. To be sure, that same powder is a convenient habitation."
She put him to bed; and, being a notable woman, sat up half the night, and made him a loose habit and a little hat. With this, and clean linen, and a cambric tie, she brought him to Lord Altham while Miss Gregory was abed. Lord Altham was surprised and pleased, and took him out in a chair, and had him shod on the spot, and measured for a fine suit from top to toe. He was petted by everybody, and especially by Miss Gregory. This was a very clever young lady: she was not going to risk Lord Altham's affections by snubbing his son, a pretty, amiable boy. Mrs. Betty's shot missed fire: Miss Gregory went with the stream, and had two riding suits made, one for James and one for herself, and she got him a pony, and he was her cavalier. They were the glory of Dublin and the Phoenix, and had often a crowd at their tails. Their accouterment was as follows: each had a beaver hat, gold laced, looped, and with a handsome feather; a coat and waistcoat blazing with gold lace and gold buttons: only the lady ended in a petticoat of the same stuff, clinging close to her as a blister. She had also a little powdered peruke, like a man; her object being to seem a smart cavalier by day and a finicking fine lady, hooped and furbelowed, at night. The only drawback was that this exquisite costume brought her mercer's bill to a climax; and he demanded payment of the following trifles, and threatened law: Fine Holland smock, one guinea; Marseilles quilted silk petticoat, three pound six; hooped petticoat, two pound five; Italian quilted ditto, ten pounds; mantua and petticoat of French brocade, seventy-eight pounds; English stays, three pounds; Italian fan, five pounds; a laced head, of Flanders point, sixty pounds; silk stockings, one pound; a black-laced hood, and a French silk à la mode hood, six pounds; French garters, one pound five; French bosom-knot, one pound twelve; beaver hat and feather, three pounds; ditto for James, two pounds; embroidered riding-suit of Lyons velvet and gold lace, forty-seven pounds; ditto for my young lord, nineteen pounds; sable muff, five pounds; red shoes (English), two guineas; tippet, seven guineas; French kid gloves, two shillings and sixpence; with innumerable other articles, all for outside wear, the body linen being in the proportion of the bread to the sack in Falstaff's tavern-bill. Many of these articles could have been had for half the price, if the lady would have listened to Dr. Swift, and bought Irish goods; but she would almost rather have gone bare. No, she was Irish to the core; so everything she wore must come from England or the Continent.
This bill, and the man's threats, brought on a fit of the vapors; another fashionable importation. She rode out with Jemmy one day, to shake them off, and they met a gentleman riding, in a scarlet coat, and a hat like a bishop's miter. He drew up, and saluted Miss Gregory stiffly, and cast a sour look at Jemmy. "Odzooks," said he; "have you got that boy in the house?"
"What matters it to you, sir," said the lady, firing up, "since you do never come there?"
The officer explained that he and his brother, Lord Altham, had been out for some time. "To tell the truth, we are like cat and dog. Naught but want of money brings us together. You will see me now everyday," said he, with a sneer: then, lowering his voice, "madam, I desire some private conference with you. Will it please you to be at home this afternoon?"
"Certainly, sir; in one hour."
When he was gone, she asked the boy if he knew the gentleman. James answered very gravely that it was his uncle, Richard Annesley, and no friend to him-- "Never gave me a good word nor a look in his life."
"Perhaps you are in his way," said she, with a laugh.
She gave Capt. Annesley the téte-à-téte he had asked for, and he came to the point in a moment. Lord Altham and himself were both in want of money, and, in order to get it, had patched up their quarrels: parading Jemmy about the streets of Dublin was unseasonable, and just the thing to stop the business, or at least retard it. The money-lenders might hesitate, and say there was another interest to be thought of.
"Nay," said Miss Gregory, "that would never do; for here I am threatened for £200 and more."
Capt. Annesley worked on her cupidity till she consented to part father and son; but she refused to do it with a high hand, or with brutal severity. She could never urge the father to turn his son out of the house. Richard Annesley, as artful as he was unscrupulous, offered her his house at Inchicore; and they settled that Lord Altham should be taken out there, and every means employed to separate him from James till the money was raised. This artful pair now put their heads together every day, and the first thing done was to discharge Mrs. Betty. She went back to England, leaving James in the house. Next all the servants were discharged, except two, who were sent on to Inchicore, and an old woman left in charge of the house and Jemmy.
Miss Gregory so worked on Lord Altham that he hid from James where he was going, stipulating only, like a sot as he was, that Richard should look to the boy, and see he wanted for nothing.
After all, the money-lenders hesitated, on account of the previous mortgages; and my lord remained in hiding with Mrs. Gregory and her daughter, and had to cut down his expenses and live upon his rents. James Annesley stayed in the house, hoping every day he should be sent for; till one day an execution was put in for rent, his riding-suit was seized, and he was turned out into the streets with nothing but what he carried on his back.
Then he began to wonder and fear. He ran to Mrs. Martha, whom he had neglected in his prosperity. She had left the town. He was amazed, confused, heart-sick. He wandered to and fro, wondering what this might mean. He had to sell his fine suit for a plain one and a very little money; and, when that was done, starvation stared him in the face. Deserted and penniless, he had hard work to live. At first a playmate, one Byrne, brought him morsels of food in secret and lodged him in a hay-loft. Then he got into the college, and used to run errands and black shoes. Vacation came, and even that resource failed; and then he held horses, for a halfpenny or a farthing, in Ormond Market, and was almost in rags: no other ragged boy so unhappy as he, since under those rags there beat the heart of a little gentleman, and rankled the deep sense of injustice and unnatural cruelty. Of late he had avoided speaking of his parentage; but one day insults dragged it out of him. A bigger boy was abusing him, because a gentleman, liking his face, had selected him to hold his horse: the boy called him a blackguard, a beggar, and other opprobrious terms. "You lie," said James, losing all patience: "I am come of better folk than thou. My father is a lord, and I am heir to great estates, and have been served by thy betters, and so should now, if the world was not so wicked." These words did not fall unheeded: henceforth he was the scoff of all the dirty boys in the place; and they cried "My lord" after him. One Farrell, that kept a shop on the quay, heard them at it, and said to his shopman, "Why, I see no hump on him! the boy is straight enough, and fair, if he were cleaned." He called James to him, and asked him why they called him "My lord." The boy hung his head, and would not say at first, he was so used to be jeered; but being pressed, and seeing a kindly face enough began to tell his tale. But Farrell interrupted him. "Lord Altham," said he, "I know him--to my cost. Well, I do remember one time I went to Dunmaine for my money, and got mulled claret instead on't, there was a child there with my lady and his nurse." James said eagerly, that was himself. "Nay, then," said Farrell, "why not seek thy mother, Lady Altham, if she be thy mother?"
"Oh, sir!" said James, "I thought my mother was gone back to England. Oh, dear, good sir! have pity on me, and take me to her, if she is in this wicked place."
"Child," said the man, "I know that my Lady Altham sojourned with her friend, Alderman King; but you are not fit to go there so. Come you home with me." So he took him home, and bade his wife clean him, and lend an old suit of his son that was away at school. The wife complied, with no great cordiality; and Farrell sent a line about him to Alderman King, and then called at the alderman's house, and asked for my "Lady Altham. "Nay," said the alderman, "my lady sailed for England a se'nnight ago. But, Master Farrell, what tale is this you bring me? Why, my lady never had a son."
"Oh!" cried James, as if he had been struck.
Farrell looked blank; but said, "Sure, your worship is mistook."
"I tell ye, Master Farrell, she was eight months in this house, and spoke of all her troubles, and she never breathed a word about a son of hers. Did she, Mistress Avice?" turning to his housekeeper.
"She did--to me, sir," said the woman coolly. "My lady was my countrywoman and opened her heart to me. She spoke once of her son, and said the greatest of her grief was she could never see him."
Here the alderman was called away, and Farrell took James home in tears. "Keep a stout heart, sir," said he: "your mother is gone; but I'll soon find your father, if he is above ground." Farrell wanted to keep him, but his wife would not hear of it. "We have lost above £50 by that Lord Altham already. I'll have none of his breed in this house, bad scran to the dirty clan of 'em."
Now, Farrell had a friend, a very honest fellow, one Purcell; so he told him the whole story one day, over a pipe. "Let me see him," said Purcell. "If I like his looks--why, we can afford to keep something young about us. But I must see him first."
So these two went to one likely place and another; and presently Farrell saw Jemmy in Smithfield riding a horse, and pointed him out to Purcell. "Stand you aside," said Purcell, "and be not seen." He took a good look at the boy and liked his face. "Child," said he, "what is your name?"
"James Annesley, sir."
"Whose son are you?"
"Alas, sir," said James, "prithee, do not ask me. It makes me cry so. I'm a lost boy."
Then the honest man's bowels were moved for the child; but he would not show it all at once. "Are you Lord Altham's son?" said he, a little roughly. "Indeed, then, I am, sir," said he, and looked him in the face. "Then," says Purcell, still a little roughly, "get you off that horse; for if you will be a good boy, I'll take you home with me; and," says he warmly, "you shall never want while I have it." Then Jemmy stared at him; and the next moment fell on his knees in the market-place, and gave him a thousand blessings: "for oh, sir!" said he, "I am almost lost;" and he trembled greatly.
"Have a good heart, sir," said Purcell, and took him by the hand, all shabby and dirty as he was, and brought him home to his wife that was busy cooking, being a right good housewife. "There," says he, "Mary, here's a little gentleman for thee." So she looked at him and smiled and asked who he was. "Thou'lt know anon," said he; "but take care of him as if he was thine own." Now, she was not like Farrell's wife, but one that had a good man, and knew it. "Go thy ways," said she, and gave him a merry push, "and come thou here no more till supper-time." Then he went away; and she soon had a great pot on the fire, and made the boy wash in a two-eared-tub, and put decent clothes on him, and drew all his history from him with her kind words and ways; and, when the honest man came home, he started at the door, for there sat his wife knitting, in her best apron; and there sat a lovely little gentleman with golden hair, leaning on her shoulder, and they were prattling together; and one was "My child," and the other was "Mammy," already. It was the happiest fireside in Ireland that night; and it deserved to be.
Here was a respite to all James Annesley's troubles. He grew, he fattened, he brightened; he loved his Mammy and stout John Purcell, and they loved him.
Unfortunately, Farrell found out Lord Altham at Inchicore, and went to dun him, and told him about Jemmy. Lord Altham was shocked and promised to remunerate both Farrell and Purcell as soon as he could raise money. Meantime he blustered to Miss Gregory, and she must have told Richard Annesley; for one September afternoon there walked into Purcell's shop a gentleman with a gun and a setter, and inquired, "Is there not one Purcell lives here?"
"Yes, sir," said Purcell, "I am the man."
Then the gentleman called for a pot of beer, and sat down by the fire, inviting Purcell to partake. When the gentleman had drunk a drop, he asked Purcell if he had not a boy called James Annesley. Purcell said yes; and the gentleman said he desired to see him. Now Jemmy had been ailing a little, and was in the parlor with Mrs. Purcell, in an armchair, by the fire; so Purcell went in to tell him, and found him in tears. "Why, what is the matter?" said Purcell. Says the boy, "It is that gentleman: the sight of him has put such a dread on me, I don't know what to do with myself."
"Nay," said Purcell, "the gentleman is civil enough. Come and speak to him." So he came very unwillingly. The gentleman said, "So, James, how do you do?" The boy answered, stiffly, "Sir, I thank you, I am pretty well." The gentleman said, "And I am glad you have fallen into such good hands." The boy said gravely, "Sir, I have reason to thank God for it. They are kinder to me than my own kin." The gentleman said he must not say so, and asked him if he knew him.
"I know you well," said he: "you are my uncle, Richard Annesley." And, at the first opportunity, slipped back to his "Mammy," as he called her. He was all trembling; and she asked him why he was so, and he said, "That's a wicked man; he hates me; he hates me. He never came near me but to hurt me. I'd liever meet the devil. Some day he will kill me."
While Dame Purcell was comforting him, and telling him nobody should harm him under her wing, Richard Annesley treated Purcell, and told him Lord Altham should recompense him; but Purcell declined that favor, and said rather contemptuously, "When he is man enough to take his own flesh and blood into the house, he knows where to find him; but I ask no pay: I can keep a lord's son, if his father can't, and I can love one, if his father can't; for there never was a better boy stood in the walls of a house."
Three months after this, Lord Altham had a short illness, and died. He was to be buried at Christ Church, and the sexton told Mrs. Purcell the afternoon before the funeral. They buried at night in those days. Mrs. Purcell had not the heart to keep it from the boy: he turned very pale, but he did not cry. Only he would go to the funeral. Purcell dissuaded him, and then he began to wring his hands. Mrs. Purcell had her way for once, and got him weepers, to attend.
It was a fine funeral, by torchlight--velvets, plumes, mutes, flambeaux. One thing only was wanting--mourners. The tenants of his vast estates, his numerous boon companions, his wife, his betrothed, his brothers, Lord Anglesey and Richard Annesley--all drinking, or gaming, or minding their own business. There stood by this wretched noble's open grave only two that cared--an old coachman, Weedon, and the poor boy he had so basely abandoned. The rest were strangers, brought there by hard curiosity.
When the coffin began to sink out of sight, the tender heart of the deserted one almost burst with grief and wasted love.
"OH, MY FATHER, MY FATHER!" Cried the desolate child; and that wild cry of woe rang in ears that remembered it, and spoke of it years after.
When he came back, all in tears, Purcell said, "There, dame, I knew how 'twould be;" and he was almost angry.
"But 'tis best so, John," said she: "dear heart, when he comes to be old would you have him remember he could not find a tear for his father, and him no more?"
"Oh, mammy, mammy!" said James, "only one old man and me to weep for him: those he loved before me never cared for him;" and then his tears burst out afresh.
A day or two after this, a message came to James Annesley that his uncle wanted to see him, at Mr. Jones's in the market. The boy refused to go. "It is not for any good, I know," said he. But he consented to accompany Mr. Purcell if he would go armed. Stout-hearted Purcell laughed at his fears, but yielded to his entreaties, and took a thick stick. James held him fast by the skirt all the way. In the entry to Jones's three fellows slouched against the wall. "Oho!" thought John Purcell.
Mr. Annesley met him, and Purcell took off his hat, and Mr. Annesley gave him good-morning, and then, without more ceremony, called to one of the fellows to seize that thieving rogue, and take him to the proper place.
"Who do you call a thief?" said Purcell sternly.
"Confound you," says the gentleman, " I am not speaking to you." Then he ordered the fellows again to take Jemmy away. But Purcell put the boy between his legs, and raised his stick high. "The first of you," said he, "lays a hand on him, I'll knock his brains out." Hearing him raise his voice in anger, one or two people came about the entry, and the bullies sneaked off. "You a gentleman!" said John Purcell, "and would go to destroy this poor creature you were never man enough to maintain."
"Go you and talk to his nurse," said Richard Annesley spitefully: "she knows more of him than you do."
"This is idle chat," said John Purcell. "He has neither father, mother, nor nurse left in this kingdom, but my dame and me. Let us go home, Jemmy. "We have fallen' in ill company."
But from that day there were always fellows lurking about John Purcell's house; sometimes bailiffs or constables, or sharks disguised as such; and the boy one day lost his nerve and ran away: he entered the service of a Mr. Tighe, and sent word to Purcell that his life was not safe so long as his uncle knew where to find him; and he also feared to bring him and his mammy into trouble.
For this cowardice he paid dear. He had been watched, and an opportunity was taken to seize him one day in the open street, by men disguised as bailiffs, on a charge of theft; and, instead of being taken to a court, he was brought to Richard Annesley's house. Richard Annesley charged him with stealing a silver spoon. The boy was quiet till he saw that fatal face, and then he began to scream, and to cry, "He will kill me, or transport me." Annesley's eyes glittered fiendishly. "Ay, thou knave," said he, "I have been insulted enough for thee, and my very title denied me, because of thy noise. Away with him!"
Then the men put him into a coach, and took him along by the quay, screaming and crying for help. "They will kill me; they will transport me, because I am Lord Altham's son;" and people followed the coach, and murmured loud. But the men were quick and resolute; and, while one told some lie or other to the people, the others got him into a boat, and pulled lustily out to a ship that lay ready to cross the bar, for all this had been timed beforehand; and, once on board that wooden hell, he had no chance. He was thrust into the hold.
The law protected Englishmen from this, in theory, but not in practice. Some agent of Richard Annesley's indented James Annesley as his nearest friend: acting at his request, and the sole record of this act of villainy read like an act of plain, unobjectionable business. He was kept in the hold, and his cries unregarded. The ship spread her pinions, and away. Then the boy was allowed to come on deck and take his last look of Ireland. He asked a sailor-boy where they were going. "Bound for Philadelphia," was the reply. At the bare word the poor little wretch uttered shriek upon shriek, and ran aft, to throw himself into the sea. The man at the wheel caught him by his skirt, and had much ado to hold him, till a sailor ran up, and they got him on board again, screaming and biting like a wild cat: the gentle boy was quite changed by desperation; for Philadelphia, though it means "Brotherly Love" in Greek, meant "White Slavery" to poor betrayed creatures from the mother country.
Finally, after superhuman struggles and shrieks of despair, so piteous that even the rugged sailors began to look blank, he went off into a dead swoon, and was white as ashes, and his lips blue. "He is dead," was the cry.
"Lord forbid!" said the captain. "Stand aloof, ye fools, and give him air."
"Oh, humane captain!" says my reader; but "Oh, good trader captain!" would be nearer the mark. This Richard Annesley, to save his purse, had given the captain an interest in the boy's life. The captain was to sell him over the water, and pocket the money. This fatal oversight elevated a human creature into merchandise. The worthy captain set himself in earnest to keep it alive. He fanned his merchandise, sprinkled his merchandise; and when his merchandise came to, and, with a stare and a loud scream, went off into heart-rending and distracting cries, he comforted his merchandise, and gave it a sup of rum and water, and hurried it down into a cabin, and set a guard on it night and day, with orders to be kind to it, but very watchful: this done, he gave his mind to sailing the good ship James of Dublin.
But next day he was informed that the merchandise would not eat, nor drink, but was resolved to die. "Die! Not a bit of it; drench him," said the stout-hearted captain. "Drench him yourself," said the mate. "I'm sick on't."
Then the captain bade the cook prepare a savory dish, and brought it down to James. "Eat this, sir," said he, as one used to be obeyed. The young gentleman made no reply, but his eyes gleamed. The captain drew his hanger with one hand, and stuck a two-pronged fork into a morsel with the other. "Eat that, ye contrary toad," said he, "or I'll make minced collops of thee." The boy took the morsel. "So" said the captain, sneering over his shoulder at the mate. The boy spat it furiously in his face. "May God sink thy ship, thou knave, that wouldst steal away a nobleman's son, and sell him for a slave!"
The captain drew back a moment, like a dog a hen has flown at, and had hard work not to cut him in two: but he forbore, and said, "Starve, then, and feed the fishes," and so left the cabin. The mate, at his back all the time, told the boatswain young master was a nobleman's son, and was being spirited away, and there was "foul play" in it. Some remarks were made which it was intended the captain should hear. He took them up directly. "A nobleman's son!" said he; "ay, but only a merry-begot, and so given to thieving he will do no good at home. Why, 'twas his own uncle shipped him, for his good." This quieted the men directly; and from that moment they made light of the matter.
When James was downright faint with hunger, the captain took quite another way with him--went to him and said he feared there was some mistake, and he was sorry he had been led to take him on board, but the matter should be set right on landing. "No, no," said James, "I shall be bound as a slave. May God revenge me on my wicked uncle! I see now why he has done this--to rob me of my estate and my title."
"Indeed, I begin to think he is to blame," said the captain. "But why take fright at a word, sir? None can make you a salve for life, as the negroes are, but only an apprentice for a time."
"I am beholden to you, sir," said James; "but, call it what you will, 'tis slavery, and I'd liever die. But promise to send me back by the first ship, and I will give you a hatful of money when I come to my rights, and pray for you all my days."
"Ay, but if I do so, will you eat and drink and be of good heart?"
"That will I, sir."
"Then 'tis a bargain."
They shook hands upon it; and, from that hour, were good friends. James was treated like a guest: he ate and drank so heartily that the captain began to wince at his appetite; and, in a word, what with the sea air, plentiful diet, and a mind relieved from fear of slavery, the young gentleman's cheeks plumped out, and became rosy; he grew an inch and a half in height, and landed at Philadelphia a picture of a little Briton.
The planters boarded the ship. The captain threw off the mask, and sold him directly for a high price to one Drummond.
James raged and cried, and demanded to be taken before a justice.
Then, for the first time, the captain produced papers, all prepared by Richard Annesley, under legal advice. The colony wanted labor, and was ill disposed to sift the evidence that furnished it: it all ended in Drummond carrying his white slave home to Newcastle County.
Next morning at five o'clock he found himself engaged, with other slaves, black and white, cutting pipe-staves, and an overseer standing by, provided with a whip of very superior construction to anything he ever saw in Ireland.
Being only a boy, and new at the work, he was first ridiculed, then threatened; and before the day ended the whip fell on his shoulders, stinging, branding, burning his back much, his heart more: for then this noble boy felt, with all his soul and all his body, what he was come to--an ox, an ass, a beast, a slave.
IN this miserable condition of servitude James Annesley remained nearly seven years, having been indented for an extreme period; and many a sigh he heaved, and many a tear he shed in solitude, thinking of what he had been, and what he had a right to be, and what he was. But, being now a full grown young man, tall, and very robust, he could do his work; and his misery was alleviated by caution, but, above all, by the blessed thought that his servitude was drawing to an end, since a white man could only be bound for a limited term.
But let all shallow statesmen and pedantic lawyers, who trifle with the equal rights of humanity, be warned that you cannot play fast and loose with things so sacred. The mother country, in its stupidity, allowed its citizens to be made slaves for a time: the Pilgrim Fathers and their grandchildren, though no men ever valued liberty more in their own persons, or talked more about it, had not that disinterested respect for it which marks their noble descendants; and so they, by a bylaw or custom, enlarged the term of servitude; this they contrived by ordering that if one of these temporary slaves misbehaved grossly, and, above all, attempted escape, his term of servitude could be enlarged in proportion by judges who were in the interest of the planters.
So the game was, when the white slave's term of servitude drew near, to make his life intolerable: then, in his despair, he rebelled, or ran for it, and was recaptured, and re-enslaved, by this by-law, passed in the colony.
"Where there's a multitude, there's a mixture," and not every planter played this heartless dodge; but too many did, and no man more barbarously than this Drummond. By the help of an unscrupulous overseer, who did and said whatever he was ordered, he starved, he insulted, he flogged, he made his slaves' life intolerable: and so, in a fit of desperation, James started one night for the Delaware River: he armed himself with a little billhook, for he was quite resolved not to be taken alive.
In the morning they found he was gone, and followed him horse and foot. But they did not catch him, for rather a curious reason: he had the ill-luck to miss his road, and got to the Susquehanna instead.
He found his mistake when too late; but he did not give up all hope; for he saw some ships, and a town, into which he resolved to penetrate at nightfall: it was then about ten o'clock. Meantime, he thought it best to hide; and coming to two roads, one of which turned to his right and passed through a wood, he turned off that way, and lay down in shelter, and unseen, though close to the roadside. Here fatigue overpowered him, and he went to sleep, fast as a church, and slept till four in the afternoon. Then he awoke, with voices in his ears; and, peeping through the leafy screen, he saw, with surprise, that there was company close to him: there was a man haltering a horse to a tree near him, and another already haltered; a gentlewoman in a riding-habit stood looking on, while another man drew provisions and wine from some saddlebags, and spread a cloth on the grass, and made every preparation for a repast.
Then they all three sat down and enjoyed themselves, so that poor hungry James sighed involuntarily, and peeped through the leaves. The lady heard him, turned, saw him, screamed, pointed at him, and in a moment the men were upon him with drawn swords, crying "Traitor! Spy!"
But James whipped behind a tree, and parleyed. "No traitor, sir, but a poor runaway slave, who never set eyes on you before." The men hesitated, and he soon convinced them of his innocence. One of them laughed, and said, "Why, then there's naught to fear from thee."
The lady, however, still anxious, cross-questioned him herself. His answers satisfied her, his appearance pleased her, and it ended to his advantage; they made him sit down with them, and eat and drink heartily.
At last the lady let out they were fugitives too, and could feel for him; and she said, "We are going on board a ship bound for Holland. She lies at anchor waiting for us; and, if you can run with us, we will e'en take you on board; but, in sooth, we must lose no time." They started. The gentleman had the lady behind him, and James ran with his hand on the other horse's mane; but, losing breath, the man, who was well mounted, took him up behind him. Night fell, and then they went more slowly; and James, to ease the good horse, walked by his side.
But presently there was a fierce galloping of horses behind them, and lights seemed flying at them from behind. The lady looked back, and screamed, "'Tis he, himself; we are lost!"
The men had only time to dismount and draw their swords, when the party was upon them with a score of blades flashing in the torchlight. The men defended themselves; and James, forgetting it was no quarrel of his, laid about him with his bill-hook; but the combat was too unequal. In three minutes the lady, in a dead swoon, was laid before one horseman, her lover and his servant were bound upon their own horses, and James was worse treated still, for his hands were tied together, and fastened to a horse's tail.
In this wretched plight they were carried to the nearest village and well guarded for the night in separate rooms.
At daybreak they were marched again; and James Annesley, in that horrible attitude of a captive felon, was drawn at a horse's tail through four hooting villages, and lodged in Chester jail.
Law did not halt here: they were all four put to the bar; and then first did be learn, by the evidence, who his companions were, and what he had been doing when he drew bill-hook in their favor. The lady was daughter of a trader in this very town of Chester. Her father, finding her in love with some one beneath her, had compelled her to marry a rich planter. She hated him, and, in evil hour, listened to her lover, who persuaded her to fly with all she could lay her hands on. The money and jewels were found in the saddlebags. The husband was vindictive, the crime twofold. The guilty pair, the servant, and James, who was taken fighting on their side, were condemned.
James made an effort to separate his fate from the others. He told the judge who he was, and what master he had run away from; declared it was a mere accident his being there; he had been surprised by the sudden attack on persons, who, whatever their faults, had been good to him. The judge took a note while he was pleading in arrest of judgment, but said nothing; and they were all four condemned to stand on the gallows for one hour with a rope round their necks, to be whipped on their bare backs with so many lashes well laid on, and then imprisoned for several years.
Two little rivers meet, and run to the sea as naturally as if they had always meant to unite: yet, go to their sources in the hills, how wide apart! How unlikely to come together, or even approach each other! Why, one rises south, and the other north-east, and they do not even look the same way, at starting! It is hard to believe they are doomed to trickle hither and thither, meander and curve, and meet at last, to part no more.
And so it is with many human lives: the facts of this story compel me to trace, from their tiny sources, two human currents, that I think will bear out my simile. The James Annesley river is set flowing; so now for the Joanna Philippa Chester, and old England.
She was the orphan daughter of two very superior people, who died too young. Her mother was a Spaniard, her father an Englishman, and a lawyer of great promise. They had but this child. She inherited her mother's jewels and thirteen thousand pounds: her father, impressed by some cruel experience in his own family, had an almost morbid fear lest she should be caught up by some fortune-hunter, and married for her money, she being a black-browed girl with no great promise of beauty at that time. During his last illness he thought much of this, and spoke of it earnestly to the two gentlemen he had appointed her trustees. These two, Mr. Hanway and Mr. Thomas Chester, hated each other decently, but sincerely. Mr. Chester knew that, and, with a lawyer's shrewdness, counted a little on it, as well as on their attachment to himself to get his views carried out. He made them promise him, in writing, that Joanna's fortune should be concealed from her until she should be twenty-four, or some worthy person, unacquainted with her means, should offer her a marriage of affection: she was to be brought up soberly, taught to read and write very well, and cast accounts, and do plain stitching, but never to sit at a harpsichord nor a sampler. She was to live with Mr. Hanway, at Colebrook, till she was seventeen, and then with Mr. Thomas Chester, her uncle, till her marriage. Each trustee, in turn, to receive £100 a year, for her board and instruction. Her fortune was all out at good mortgage, paying larger interest than is to be had on that security nowadays.
The £100 a year was of some importance to Mr. Hanway; and he was not at all sorry that Joanna Philippa was to be taught only what he and his housekeeper could teach her: that saved expense. He did teach her, an hour every day; and she was so quick that, at ten years old, she could read and write and sum better than a good many duchesses. But the rest of the day she was entirely neglected; so she was nearly always out of doors, acquiring more health and strength and freckles than a girl is entitled to, and playing pranks that ought to have been restrained. She was, at this time, a most daring girl; and she always played with the boys, and picked up their ways, and, by superior intelligence, became their leader. From them she learned to look down on her own sex; and the women, in return, called her a tomboy and a witch: indeed, there was something witch-like in her agility, her unbounded daring, and her great, keen, gray eyes, with thickish eyebrows, black as jet, that actually met, not on her brows, but--with a slight dip--on the bridge of her nose.
One summer afternoon, being then about eleven, she had just ridden one of Farmer Newton's horses into the water to drink, according to her custom, and driven the others in before her, when she became aware of a gentleman in black, with a pale, but noble face, looking thoughtfully at her. It was the new vicar, a learned clerk from Oxford. He smiled on her, and said, "My young madam, may I speak with you?" He knew who she was.
"Ay, sir," says she; and in a moment, from riding astride like a boy, she whipped one leg over and was seated like a woman, and brought the horse out, and slid off his fat ribs, and lighted like a bird down at the parson's feet, and took her hat off to him, instead of courtesying. "Here be I," said the imp. "My dear," says the vicar, "that is not a pastime for a young gentlewoman." Joanna hung her head.
"Not," said the parson, "that I would deprive you of amusement, at your age; that were cruel: but--have you no little horse of your own to ride?"
"Nay, not so much as a Jenny ass. Daddy Hanway is--I know what he is, but I won't say till we are better acquainted."
"Come, come, we are to be better acquainted, then."
"Ay, an' you will. Now may I go, sir?"
"Why, we have not half made acquaintance. Madam, I desire to show you my house."
"Alack! And I am dying to see it. So come on!" and she caught him by the hand with a fiery little grasp.
"Have with you, then!" cried the parson, affecting excitement, and proposed a race to the vicarage: so they sped across the meadow. His reverence was careful to pound the earth, and make a great fuss, but not to beat the imp, who, indeed, skimmed along like a swallow.
"There," said she, panting, "there's none can beat me at running, in this parish, except that Dick Caulfield. Od rabbit him." The vicar allowed that refined expression to pass, for the present, and took her into his study. "Oh, Jiminy!" she cried; "here's books. I ne'er thought there were as many in the world."
"What! you are fond of books?" said he, eagerly.
"I dote on 'em, especially voyages. I have read every book in our house twice over; there's the Bible, and 'Culpepper's Herbal,' and 'Pilgrim's Progress,' and the 'Ready Reckoner,' and the 'Prayer Book,' and a volume of the Spectator, and the book of receipts, and the 'Book of Thieves.'"
"And which do you like the best of all those?"
"Why, the 'Pilgrim's Progress,' to be sure; 'tis all travels!"
"Strange," said the clergyman, half to himself, "that a girl born in a country village should be so fond of travels."
"Country village!" said she. "Drat the country village. I ran away from it once; but they caught me at Hounslow. I was only eight; better luck next time, parson."
"Nay, Mistress Joanna--"
"An't please you, call me Philippa. I like that name best."
"Well, then, Mistress Philippa, I am of your mind about traveling., My studies, and a narrow income somewhat drawn upon by poor relations, have kept me at home; but my mind has traveled on the wings of books, as yours shall, Mistress Philippa, if you please. See, here's Purchase for you, and Dampier, Cowley, Sharpe, Woodes Rogers, where you shall find the cream of 'Robinson Crusoe,' 'Stout John Dunton,' and 'Montaigne's Travels,' short, but priceless. Here be 'Coryat's Crudities,' and 'Moryson's Itinerary,' two travelers of the good old school, that footed Europe, and told no lies. Ay, Philippa, often as I sat in my study, or meditated beneath the stars, have I longed to escape the narrow terms of this small island, and see the strange and beautiful world: first of all, the Holy Land, where still the vine, the olive-tree, and the cornfield grow side by side; where the Dead Sea rolls o'er those wicked cities, and Lot's wife, in salten pillar, still looks on: to see Rome, that immortal city where ancient and modern history meet and mingle in monuments of surpassing grandeur and beauty. Then would I run East again, and behold the mighty caves of Elephanta, monument of a race that is no more; the Pyramids of Egypt, and her temples approached by avenues of colossal sphinxes a mile long. Thence to the pole, and see its spectral glories, great temples and palaces of prismatic ice, of which this new poet, Mr. Pope, singeth well--
'As Atlas fixed, each hoary pile appears
The gathered winter of a thousand years.'
Then away to sunny lands, where forever the sky is blue and flowers spring spontaneous, and the earth poureth forth pines and melons and luscious fruits, without the hand of man--
'And universal Pan,
Knit with the graces and the hours in dance,
Leads on the eternal Spring.'
"Then I would see the famous mountains of the world--Ararat, where the ark rested, as the waters of the flood abated; Teneriffe's peak, shaped like a sugar-loaf, and by mariners seen often in the clear glassy sky one hundred miles at sea; and above all the mighty Andes, so high that no aspiring cloud may reach his bosom, and his great eye looks out ever calm, from the empyrean, upon half the world."
The scholar would have gone on, dreaming aloud, an hour more; but his words, that to him were only words, were fire to the aspiring girl, and set her pale and panting. "Oh, parson!" she cried, "for the love of God, take hat and come along to all those places;" and she crammed his hat into his hand, and tugged at him amain.
"My young mistress," said he gravely, "you do use that sacred name too lightly."
"Well, then, for the love of the Devil: I care not, so we do go this minute."
Then he held up his finger, and with kind and soothing words cooled this fiery creature down a little, and put Dampier's voyages into her hand. Down she flung herself --for it was erect as a dart, or flat as a pancake, with this young gentlewoman; no half measures--and sucked the book like an egg.
He gave her the right to come and read when she pleased; and from this beginning, by degrees, she became his pupil very willingly.
He played the viol da gamba himself; so he asked her did she like music?
"No," said she: "I hate it."
Would she like to draw, and color?
"Ay. But not to keep me from my travels."
It turned out that she had an excellent gift at drawing, and a fine eye for color; so, with instruction, she soon got to draw from nature, and to color very prettily; the only objection was, in less than six months from the first lesson, every roadside barn-door within five miles presented a gross caricature, in chalk, of the farmer who owned it, and often of his wife and family into the bargain. The number and distance of these "sculptures," as she was pleased to call them (why, I know not), revealed an active foot, a skillful hand, and a heart not to be daunted by moonlight.
The parson tried to break her spirit--with arithmetic. But no: she was all docility and goodness by his side--she would learn arithmetic, or anything else, with a rapidity that nothing but a precocious girl ever equaled--but a daring demon when he was not at her back.
In vain he begged! her to consider that she was now thirteen years old, and must begin to play the gentlewoman. "I cannot," said she; "gentlewomen are such mincing apes. The boys, they scorn them; and so do I; they make me sick. Parson," said she, "I love you;" and she made but one spring, and her arms were round his neck with the same movement. "Grant me a favor," said she, "because I love you. Have me made a boy; 'twill not cost much."
The parson looked at her, gazing imploringly right into him with her great eyes and was sore puzzled what she would be at now. However, the explanation followed in due course.
"Why," said she, "'tis but the price of a coat and waistcoat and breeches, instead of these things," slapping her petticoats contemptuously; "and then I am a boy. Oh, 'twill be sweet to have my freedom, and not to be checked at every word, because I am a she!"
"Why, what stuff is this, child?" said his reverence: "putting thee in boy's clothes will not make thee a boy."
"Yes, it will. You know it will; nay, to be sure, there's my hair; but I can soon cut that."
"Now, Philippa," said her preceptor, "I cannot have you cutting your beautiful hair, which is a woman's crown, and talking nonsense. Hum!--the truth is-- ahem! when once one has been christened Joanna Philippa in the church, one is a girl forever."
"Alas!" whined Philippa, "and is it so? Methought it was the clothes the old folk put us in that did our business." Then, going into a fury, "Oh! why did not I scratch their eyes out, when they came to christen me a girl? Why cried I not aloud, 'NO! NO! NO! --A BOY!--A BOY'?"
"Well, we must make the best of it, my dear. I will read you what Erasmus saith, in his 'Gunæco-Synedrion,' of the female estate, and its advantages. Then you will see that each condition of life hath its comforts and its drawbacks."
The compass of my tale does not permit me to deal largely in conversation; otherwise, the intercourse of this gentle scholar's mind and this sharp girl's was curious and interesting enough. It left Philippa, at fourteen years of age, very superior to the ladies of the period, in reading, writing, arithmetic, drawing, walking, leaping, and running; but far more innocent, in spite of her wildness, than if she had consorted with the women of that day, whose tongues were often too foul.
At this time the good parson fell ill, and, having friends in office, obtained leave to go on the Continent.
He returned in two years, and found his pupil transformed into a tall, beautiful girl; even her black brows became her now, and dazzled the beholder. But such a change! She was now extremely shy; avoided the boys, blushed whenever they spoke to her, and played the prude even with her late preceptor. She had a great many new ideas in her head: need I say that love was one of them? But as there was nobody in the parish that approached the being she had fixed on--young, beautiful, fair, brave, good, and that had made the grand tour--her favorite companion, after all was the good parson; only she now approached even him with a vast show of timidity. To tell the truth, she had just as much devil in her as ever; but, on the surface, was mighty guarded, demure, and bashful.
And now, all of a sudden, came a lover. Mr. Hanway, seeing the time draw near when he must surrender to the other trustee, could not resist the temptation of trying to get her for his son Silas. Silas was older than she, though he looked but a hob-badehoy. The old man, to carry out his scheme, indulged miss with a pony, and a moderately masculine riding-dress with a little purple velvet cap and white feather, very neat, and set Silas to ride with her.
She used to pace out of sight demurely, then dash out of the road into the fields and away, as the crow flies, over hedge and ditch, depositing Silas in the latter now and then. She treated his clumsy courtship with queenly-contempt, and once, when he went to kiss her, she fetched him a slap that made his ears ring famously.
One day, when Mr. Hanway was out, this young lady, who was now mighty curious, and always prying about the house, gave the old gentleman's desk a shake with both hands. She had often admired this desk. It was of enormous size and weight, and sculptured at the sides--an antique piece of furniture. When she shook it, something metallic seemed to ring at the bottom. She looked inside, and there was nothing but papers. "That is odd," thought Joanna Philippa. She shook it again. Same metallic sound. Then, with some difficulty, though she was a most sinewy girl, she turned it over, and saw a little button, scarcely perceptible. She pressed it, and lo! a drawer flew out at quite another part of the desk. That drawer dazzled her: it was literally full of sparkling jewels, some of them very beautiful and valuable. She screamed with surprise. She screamed again with delight. She knew, in a moment, they were her mother's jewels, which Mr. Hanway had told her were a few trifling things, not to be shown her till her twenty-first birthday, and then she was to have them for her own.
"Oh, thou old knave!" said she. She did not hesitate one moment. "I'll have them, and keep them, too, if I hang for it: for they are mine." So she swept them all into her apron, and flew upstairs with them and hid them; then back again, and put the desk straight.
That night she had them all on, one after another, before she went to bed, and marched about the room, like a peacock, surveying herself.
Next day she took fright, and carried them out of the house, and hid them in the thatch of an old carthouse that was never used nowadays, so not likely to be repaired.
On moonlight nights she would sometimes take a little hand glass out, and wear the diamond cross and brooch, and parade with them, sparkling in the moonlight. Her bedroom commanded a view of this sacred cartshed; and she always took a look at it the last thing before she went to sleep.
Silas was to go to London to be articled as a lawyer's clerk. His father thought now was the time to make a lasting impression; so he provided the youth with a ring to give her, and instructed him that he must kiss her at parting, say he loved her dearly, and get her to betroth herself to him, and so put the ring on her finger. When the time came, Miss was on the lawn hoeing weeds out of the gravel. Silas went to her with the ring. Mr. Hanway was dressing; but he managed to peep behind a curtain at the approaching ceremony.
It did not go smooth. The girl was ready to give Silas a civil good-by; but, at the very mention of love, she laughed him to scorn. That nettled him; and he told her she would be very lucky to get as good a husband. "Come, sweetheart," said he, "here's the ring. E'en let me put it on thy hand, and give us a buss at parting."
"I'll take no ring of thine," said the girl, beginning to pant at the double proposal. "I'd rather die than wed thee."
"And I'd rather die than not wed thee."
He threw his arms round her neck and dragged her to him.
"Let me go," she screamed. "You are a churl and a ruffian. I'll not be used so."
She struggled violently, and screamed; and, when nothing else would do, she tore herself clear, with a fierce cry, all on fire with outraged modesty and repugnance, and gave him a savage blow on the bridge of the nose with her little hoe; it brought him to one knee: and with that she was gone like the wind, and flung herself, sobbing, into a garden seat out of sight. Now this severe blow was not dangerous, but it made the lover's nose bleed profusely. It bled a great deal as he kneeled, half stupefied; and, when he got up a little way, it bled freely again: he thought it would never leave off. His love was cooled forever. All he cared about now was not spoiling his new clothes; so, after awhile, he walked away very slowly, with his nose projecting, like a gander's; and he was scarcely clear of the premises when Joanna
Philippa, who had peeped, and seen him off, came back to her occupation, looking as demure and innocent as any young lady you ever saw. She was rather dismayed, though, when she found the grass incarnadined, and the gardener's turf-cutter literally drenched with blood, both blade and handle.
"While she was contemplating this grim sight, and wishing she had not hit so hard, the old man came at her all of a sudden, white with rage. "Ay, look at your work, you monster!" he cried, "and the poor boy leaving us for good. You have killed him, or nearly, and I'll trounce you for it." He griped her by the arm and raised his cane over her head.
She was terrified and cried for mercy. "Oh, uncle! I did not mean. Oh, pray don't kill me! Don't kill me!"
He did not mean to kill her, nor even hurt her; but, in his paternal rage, he struck her a great many times about her petticoats, which made a great noise. She screamed all the time; only at first it was "Don't kill me!" and then "Don't degrade me!"
"There," said he, "let that teach thee not to be so ready with thy hands, thou barbarous, ungrateful jade!"
But now she confronted him in silence, with a face as white as death and eyes that glared, and her black brows that looked terrible by the contrast with her ashy cheek, a child no more, but a beautiful woman outraged. She said nothing, but gave him that one tremendous look, then fled, with a cry of shame and anguish. She flew to the carthouse, took out her jewels, and, in three minutes, she was out of the premises. She darted down one lane, and up another, till she got on the high road to London. She entered the city at ten o'clock that evening, and slept at an inn.
Next morning she lay in bed a while, thinking what she should do to avoid being captured, as in her childish days. She thought the best thing was to make a change in her costume; so she sold one of her rings, and took a modest lodging, and bought some stuffs, and set to work to make a suit such as she saw worn by tradesmen's daughters of the better sort. All her fear was to be captured, and her mother's jewels taken from her. They were all her fortune, she thought; and, besides, she loved them.
One day, just before the new clothes were ready, and being weary of confinement, she strolled abroad, and, seeing a chocolate house, whipped on her mask, and entered it. While she was sipping her chocolate, a spark handed her the Daily Post, with a low bow, by way of preliminary to making her acquaintance. She thanked him so modestly, he hesitated, and let her read the paper in peace. It was a miserable sheet, with very little in it; but there was a curious advertisement:
"April 26. Lost, or mislaid, one pair large brilliant ear-rings, with drops of the first water: one diamond cross; three large bars for the breast (diamonds of the first water): large pearl necklace; brooch of sapphire and brilliants; one large ruby ring; one emerald and brilliants; one locket, set with amethyst and rose diamonds. If offered to be sold, pawned, or valued, pray stop 'em (sic) and THE PARTY, especially if a young lady, and give notice to Mr. Drummond, goldsmith, at Charing Cross, and you shall receive 200 guineas reward."
The paper almost fell from her hands at first: yet, with the fine defensive cunning of her sex, she sipped her chocolate quite slowly, feeling very cold all the time; and then she went home.
The advertisement was very well worded for others; but falling, unluckily, into her hands, it disquieted as well as terrified her. "My jewels!" said she; "not me. He means to steal them. Well, he shall never see them, nor me again."
She carried her new dress to a shop that sold masquerade dresses, and she easily exchanged it for a seaman's holiday dress, a merchant captain's, or mate's. She brought it home in a bundle. She purchased a trunk, and paid her landlady, and then she had only a crown left and her jewels.
She took a coach, it being now dark, and had the hardihood to change her clothes in the coach. The seafaring man's dress fitted her so loosely she had no trouble. The moment she had got into it her native courage revived, and she was ready to dance for joy. "Now find your young gentlewoman and her jewels," said she. "Nay, but I'll put the sea between us rather." She had noticed some clean-looking lodgings; so she made the coachman stop there. When he let her out, he started at the metamorphosis; but she put her finger to her lips, and said, "Only a masquerading folly," and gave him her last shilling.
The landlady received the handsome young mate, all smiles; and they soon came to terms. In the morning she melted a jewel, and paid the landlady a week in advance. Then she took out her female costume, and pawned it. She purchased shirts and good stockings of wool and cotton, and marched about with a little hanger by her side, but was mighty civil, not feeling desirous to draw the said hanger. She always gave a fine gentleman the wall.
She now asked the prices of jewels at many places; and, hearing of a good ship bound for America, she sold a ring, called herself a merchant's son, dressed accordingly, and sailed a passenger to Boston, in the bay of Massachusetts.
Her first intention was to be a woman again, as soon as she got there. But there was what they called, in those days, a "Spirit" on board the ship, a gasconading agent, working for the planters; he told her such a tale about the American colonies, and how any man could dig a fortune there, that she agreed to indent as servant and book-keeper, and see whether it would suit her. She thought it was no use being idle in man's clothes: indeed, she had too much energy. She was easily led into signing an indenture, the full effect of which she did not comprehend: yet she was sharp enough to read the paper, and bargain that she was to do no work but keeping accounts and over-looking laborers; and this the agent wrote in, sooner than lose the prettiest young fellow he had ever seen; and, to make a long story short, a rich planter from Delaware acquired this prize, and carried her off to a first-rate farm near Willingtown. There she remained a year, affording perfect satisfaction to her employer, reading every book she could lay hold of, taking in knowledge at every pore, flattering, and so winning the women, and watching the men like a very cat, to know their minds. This study amused her greatly.
She left the seeds of trouble behind her. At seven o'clock that very evening she ran away, Mr. Hanway's gardener, whose cottage was on the premises, took in his turf-cutter and showed it to his wife all bloody. He laughed, and said, "Why, one would think they had been a pig-killing, with this here!"
His wife, instead of laughing, gave a scream, and then fell a trembling. "Oh, dear!" said she, "we shall hear more of this." Then she told him she had heard some poor creature crying for mercy, and saying, "Oh! don't kill me; don't kill me!" and, after that, she had heard heavy blows. "Oh, John!" said she, "put it away from me; for I do feel sick at sight on't." So he went and put the turf-cutter away in the tool-house, just as it was. When he came back, he asked her if she knew whose voice it was that had cried for mercy.
"How can I tell, all that way off?" said she. "'Twas a woman's voice, for certain: alack! ask me not, John; I'm afeard of my own thoughts."
"Well, keep them to thyself, then: we have got a good place. Least said is soonest mended,"
Next morning the news was that Joanna had run away. The gardener told his wife at breakfast. She shook her head. "Run away, poor thing! She'll never run no more: she'll never be seen no more, without you do find her, digging about."
"Hush!" said the man. "Hold thy tongue: we have eaten his bread a many years."
"I shall never bear the sight of him again, I tell thee."
"Well, keep out of his sight, then: he won't come after thee, I trow; but if ye go hanging of him, with your tongue, and losing me a good place, I shall twist thy neck, sweetheart; and then there will be a pair hung instead of one."
These dark suspicions smoldered for many months. Mr. Hanway went to Mr. Chester, and told him the girl was a thief and had run away with the jewels.
"A thief, Master Hanway!" said the other coldly. "The jewels were her mother's, and coming to her."
"Ay, but she knew not that," said the old man, who was bitterly incensed against her. Not a word did he say to Thomas Chester about either of the violent scenes in the garden. Mr. Chester advised him to advertise, and drew the advertisement for him.
Months rolled on; all hope of seeing Joanna oozed away: both trustees were unhappy about it and on ill terms; for Hanway thought his allowance ought to go on; but Chester ridiculed the idea; and so it stopped, since the money could only be drawn under both signatures.
Presently there arose in the village a vague, horrid whisper of "foul play." It reached Lawyer Chester. He tried to trace it: it was impalpable at first, like a sudden smell of carrion. But this keen lawyer tracked it and tracked it, and discovered that an old blind man, walking in his garden, which adjoined Mr. Hanway's, had heard a voice cry, "Oh, uncle! don't kill me! don't kill me!" and then several heavy blows. He learned, too, that the gardener's wife had lately thrown out mysterious hints as to what would become of some people, if she were to tell all she knew. Then Mr. Chester began to fear a crime had been committed: only he could see no motive. But murders are not always motived: the passions slay as well as the interests. Being a just man, and feeling that his dislike to Hanway might prejudice him, he carried his notes to a neighboring justice and left the matter in his hands.
This magistrate was young and zealous: he had seen Joanna riding across country, and admired her: he went into the matter a little too much like a crown solicitor.
Mr. Hanway was summoned to London to attend his son Silas, who had caught a violent fever. The magistrate in question heard of his absence, and took that opportunity to call on the gardener. He found the wife alone, and by coaxing and threatening soon got her story out of her. He took possession of the turf-cutter, which tool she and the gardener had avoided with horror ever since; and the sight of it, added to the other evidence, gave him a shock, and convinced him he saw before him the proofs of a bloody murder.
Everything was therefore prepared for the arrest of Mr. Hanway, on his return. But that return was delayed by a truly pitiable cause. Silas was insensible when his father came; and died a few hours after. The bereaved father had a shell made for the remains, and brought them down to Colebrook. The sad burden was but just taken into the hall, when the officers of justice, who had rigorous orders, arrested the bereaved father on a charge of murder.
He stared at them stupidly, and said, "Are ye mad?"
They told him no: the evidence was strong.
"Is it so?" said he languidly. "Well, let me bury my child; and I'll go to the gallows, or where you will: I have naught left to live for."
Then the officers of justice were puzzled what to do. However, as it happened, the magistrate himself came up; and, when he heard, he directed them to let the funeral proceed, but be careful the mourner did not escape.
The grave was already dug, and the clergyman waiting: so poor Silas was buried, attended by the whole parish, in strange silence; for their horror of the murderer was checked by their pity for the desolate father, to whom the charge of murder was, at that heavy hour, a feather-stroke compared with his bereavement.
He went home alone: the officers kept a little aloof from him, And so did the people. He was examined in his own house, and confronted with the witnesses. The turf-cutter was also produced.
He told the simple truth: not a soul believed it. He was committed for trial, and a reward of £50 offered to whoever should find the corpus delicte, which was the one link in the evidence wanting.
Months passed on, and no corpus delicte. At last some bones were found in a peat heath hard by, and brought to the justice, followed by a crowd.
"She is found! she is found!" was the cry. "The old rogue will be hanged now;" and all day folk dropped in to see the bones of poor Joanna. The parson and Mr. Chester, who were good friends, went together. Says the parson, "I know these bones well"--
"There! there!" was the cry: "Parson can swear to 'em: that is enow."
"--I know them," continued the parson calmly, "for the bones of the moose-deer, which ran in these parts four thousand years ago. I do bid against the crown for these. I will give five shillings, and ten for the horns."
That very evening two young men came to the vicarage, and told the maid, with a sheepish look, they had brought parson the gentlewoman's horns. They had dug a little farther.
But this did not shake the general impression that a foul murder had been done and artfully concealed. Mr. Chester, however, who had started the inquiry, now felt uneasy in his mind at what he had done. He called on Mr. Hanway in prison, and found him piteously depressed. Mr. Hanway asked his forgiveness, if ever he had offended him.
"Nay, sir," said Chester, "I did never affect you much, nor you me; but, in truth, you never wronged me, that I know of: and, seeing you in this plight, I blame myself, and would serve you. Come, courage, man. If she is alive, there is a way to find her."
"Would to God I knew that way!"
"Advertise for her. Let her know your trouble, and that she is an heiress. That will be against the letter of her father's wish, but not the spirit. Write the advertisement yourself, and I will see it sent abroad."
Then Hanway plucked up a little heart, and wrote a humble, touching advertisement, describing his peril. Mr. Chester took it, and, having read it, was fain to wipe a tear from his eye, and straightway dropped the judicial character, and shut his eyes to the evidence, and, resuming old habits, retained himself solicitor for the defendant. In that self-assumed character, he spared not his own purse, but scattered the advertisements far and wide, not in England only, but Scotland, Ireland, and every country that spoke the English tongue.
JAMES ANNESLEY remained in prison, awaiting his sentence. He was not without hope: but his fear was greater; and this fear soon rose to agony. For the unhappy pair, whose kindness had brought him to this, were led out to receive the first part of their sentence within sight of the grated windows of his cell. They had to sit under the gallows one hour, with a rope round their necks, and then received, the lover forty lashes, the woman thirty, and the servant twenty-one, all on their bare backs, and well laid on. Their groans and shrieks rent the air, and froze James Annesley to the bone; for he looked for his own turn to come next, and behind the cutting lash frowned the grim prison.
A week passed, and a spark of hope was reviving, when one morning the jailer and another officer came and told him he must go with them. His knees failed him. He groaned, and lay back almost insensible. They gave him a drop of brandy, and, seeing his mistake, told him to pluck up courage. "You are to be exposed every market-day, and not to be whipped, till somebody in Chester shall prove you were in the town before you came in a prisoner."
He was so exposed every market-day for a month. A large paper was pinned on his breast, inviting all good citizens to testify what they knew of him.
On the fourth market-day, casting his eyes wistfully round, who should he see but Drummond: he had come all that way to buy horses, and was so intent on business that he noticed nothing else. James made signs to him in vain. He called to him; he did everything to attract this cruel master's attention, whom he had run from. At last a man went for him to Drummond, and brought him up. Drummond started at first, then surveyed him with a cruel countenance. "What would you of me, young man?"
"Do but take me home and I will serve you faithfully."
Drummond, to torment him, turned on his heel without a word. However, he went to the justices, and claimed him; showed, by an entry in his pocketbook, when he ran away, and from what place, and knocked the indictment to atoms. In twenty-four hours James Annesley was riding home, at Drummond's back. When he got him home, Drummond sued him for penalties and damages: the penalty, five days for every day's absence, came to a year; but the damages, being paid in service, came to two years and a half.
Upon this decision, James Annesley began to fret, and pine away; and Drummond, who had lost one or two that way, sold him to Jedediah Surefoot, a flourishing planter, near Willingtown, in Delaware. This was a beautiful place, and had an extraordinary story, which was then fresh in men's minds. William Shipley, a Leicestershire man, was settled at Ridley, with his second wife, Elizabeth Levis, of Springfield, in the county Chester. She was a distinguished minister in the society of "Friends," and a remarkable woman. Soon after her marriage, she dreamed a dream. She was riding through a wild country, on what errand she knew not, and mounted a lofty hill. From this hill burst on her eyes a landscape of surpassing beauty--a wide valley, green with sloping lawns, studded with clumps of trees and settlers' cabins. The sun streamed golden through partial clearings made by the ax; even now it tinkled unseen; and broad rivers ran, and little brooks sparkled silver, and meandered to the extreme limits of vision. She sat entranced upon her horse, and was speechless a while with delight. Then she asked her guide what country this was.
"Elizabeth," said he, "it is thy home."
"Nay," said she, "my earthly home is Ridley."
"Not so," said he. "This sweet place cries out for thee, and for the Word. Submit thyself, then, to the will of Heaven, and come hither; so shalt thou do much good to the place and the people; and the blessing of God shall be on thy house, and on their labors in the Lord."
Elizabeth told this dream to her husband, with all the warmth and freshness in the world; and he made this sublime answer, "We are doing pretty well here;" and the subject dropped.
Full three years afterward, Elizabeth Shipley was invited to a meeting of Friends, between the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays.
She rode alone, and without fear, till she came to the Brandywine River; and then, though the water was low, she took a guide: he led her some distance to "the old ford," and she got through, and went up the hill, by "the king's road." At the top of the hill she checked her horse; and uttered a cry of amazement and delight; for lo! there was the paradise of her dream before her--ay, down to the minutest feature of the landscape, and the ax that tinkled unseen! She sat, like a statue, on her horse, just as she had done in her dream.
After this, she constantly entreated William Shipley to ride with her and see the lovely place. He thought it a waste of time: did not believe in dreams, though he durst not say so. So, at last, she said to him, "William, settle all thou hast in Ridley on thy children by thy first wife. I and mine will stand or fall by the place the Lord doth call me to."
The prophtess knew her lord and master: he came with her directly to see Willingtown, and it struck him all of a heat. He examined it nearer and found it was seated between the finger and thumb of two rivers --one impetuous, and admirable for turning mills, the other tidal, and navigable to the sea. "Why, Elizabeth," said he, "a man might grind his corn here with one hand and ship it with t'other!"
So, what with her faith in power divine, and his in water-power, the Shipleys settled at Willingtown, now called Wilmington, and gave that rising place a wonderful impulse. William Shipley bought land between the streams, and set up mill and factory. Elizabeth became a shining light, and drew the cream of the Quakers thither; and even poor James Annesley profited a little by her virtues; for she preached and practiced humanity to slaves: and Dame Surefoot, a simple motherly woman, was her pupil, though her senior; so there was no starving of slaves, nor frolicsome flagellation, on Surefoot's farm. Servitude was robbed of its fangs--though nothing could remove its sting--in the circle of which that pious woman was the center.
But the beauty of the place, and the milder servitude, came too late for poor James Annesley. The long persecution of fortune, the almost unintermittent sufferings of his soul and body, had broken his spirit and clouded his youth. He was worn out, dejected, hopeless. His mind might be compared to a ship, which has been so tossed, baffled and battered by storm upon storm that at last it leaks, and sinks quietly in the golden ripple and placid sunlight of a calm.
He did his work well enough, but in dogged silence; and nothing ever came from him but sighs: his face was handsome, but full of misery. Dame Surefoot noticed this, after a time, and asked him one day what was the matter. "Nothing, madam," said he, "thank you."--"Then why so sad? Most servants are glad to come to us from Drummond."
"And so ought I to be, madam. I will try to be more cheerful. But three years more!" And he groaned.
"What is three years!" said Mrs. Surefoot. "Alas! young man, 'twill pass like a shadow. You have got this new trouble, the vapors, with keeping too much alone. I shall find you a companion; for you are a civil-spoken young man."
So, that very evening she went to her favorite. When could any woman govern without one? "Philip," said she, "prithee, speak to this new servant, James, and be good to him. He is well to look at, and no idler, but so eaten up with sadness."
"Mayhap he is in love," said Philip, "I'll soon find what ails him, mother."
This Philip was a black-eyed youth, as sharp as a needle, who kept all the accounts, and sometimes rode on business. He flattered the mistress finely, and had got the length of her shoe, as the saying is. The master valued him on other grounds: he was saucy, but honest, and kept the books, though rather complicated, with marvelous precision and neatness. Thus, valued on both sides, Philip, who, by the by, was older than he looked, gave himself considerable airs; and it was in rather a condescending tone he danced up to James Annesley, and invited him to leave off sighing, and walk with him into the town of Willingtown.
"Thank you, sir," said James; "but I prefer to meditate."
"To mope, you mean. 'Tis the worst thing for you: and I hate to walk alone. So be not churlish now. Why, man, we are countrymen!"
"Sir, I shall be sorry company."
"But I shall be merry company. So come on."
"Well, if I must," said James, and went with him reluctantly.
Master Philip chattered away for both, and stole a glance at his companion now and then. Young Annesley's replies were civil, but reserved. "You are no mill-clack," said Philip ironically.
"I am not," said James humbly.
Philip carried an enormous basket. He had to bring groceries home, and salt, and medicinal herbs from Mrs. Dean, the Dutch widow, and coarse sugar, and a jar of vinegar. When all these were on board, the basket was very heavy; and James said, "I will carry that."
"Nay," said Philip, pretending to resist. "I carried it hither, and I will carry it home."
"That you shall not," said James, and laid hold of it, and fairly wrenched it from him.
"You are a rude bear," said Philip. "You have hurt my thumb."
"Where?" asked James, catching at it to see.
"Somewhere," said Philip, and whipped it behind his back.
"Well, I am sorry for that," replied James. "I am much older than you, and stronger; and the least I could do was to carry your burden, since you put up with my dull company."
"Speak not to me. I'll never speak to you again, bear."
"And what else am I good for, now, but to carry burdens?"
"Oh, say not that, James. Alas! why are you so sad? You are young, you are well-looking, rather. What beautiful hair you have got! I declare I did never see such hair: 'tis like silk. I'd never despond, if I had such hair as that, instead of my black stuff. You should flatter the women; that is the way to get forward. Look at me. I get my own way in everything, and that is my strategy. Tell me, James--I won't tell a soul--are you in love?"
"But you have been?"
"Never. I was but a boy when I was kidnapped, and sent over here; and my heart has always been too heavy for those idle fancies."
"What, you did not come here of your good will?"
"Consent to be a slave? Who would be so base?"
James said this with a certain majesty that quelled his merry companion for a moment. He drew instinctively a little farther off, and walked with thoughtful, downcast eyes. Nor did he say much more in fact, but brooded over what his companion had said. However, he chattered away fast enough to Mrs. Surefoot; and they agreed that James was not a sullen churl, but a fine, melancholy, interesting young man. Then they fell into speculations as to why he had been kidnapped and sent out. This wise conversation was uttered within hearing of Maria Surefoot, a demure, romantic girl of seventeen. She drank in every word, but said nothing; only, thenceforth, James became an object of vast curiosity and interest to her.
One day that some very heavy work in loading of timber was done near the house, James was very zealous and active, and so athletic that Philip drew Mrs. Surefoot's attention to his prowess.
"Yes, in truth," said the worthy dame. "Here, Maria, run you and get him a can of wine, and take it to him: he has earned it right well."
Maria soon appeared with the can, and went to James: he was now seated on a bank, in sight, and, the brief stimulus of labor over, had fallen into his usual pensive state.
The girl approached him timidly and softly, and stood looking at him a considerable time. "Is she afraid to speak to him?" said Philip pettishly.
"What should she be afraid of?" said Mrs. Surefoot.
The girl spoke to James, and he instantly rose and removed his cap. She held him out the wine, blushing like a rose, and said, "Prithee, drink, this: my mother sends it."
"I wish her every blessing," said James piously; "and the same to you, Mistress Maria."
"You cannot wish me better than I wish you, James," murmured the girl, all in a flutter. "I have heard about you; and, if there is anything in the world I can do--for I pity you with all' my heart." She turned and went away in a tremor and confusion which did not escape the keen gray eyes of Master Philip. Dame Surefoot was older; so perhaps her eye could not seize all the minuti&ligae; by which a girl's very body indicates when love has seized her.
The coast was no sooner clear than Philip ran out, and invited James into his office. "It is cooler there," said he.
As soon as ever he got James into his office, he said sharply, "What did Mistress Maria say to you?"
"I could not say: I paid no attention."
"I like not that young gentlewoman: she is a forward minx."
"Is she? You know best. You have been here longest. How cool it is here; and you have flowers in your window. What a luxurious boy! And what a many books!"
"Yes, I am the only one that reads much here. So our dame lets me have all the library. Are you fond of learning?"
"I love it, of all things. But, alas! I have been so ill brought up; and, whenever I got to my books, some cruelty or other came and took me from them. It is my grief and my shame that I, a gentleman's son, have the education of a porter?"
"What then," said Philip, "tell me, if I were to teach you, would that make you happier, and to leave off sighing so?"
"Indeed, I think it would. I burn with desire of instruction."
"Well, then, I will give you a lesson every evening. Then you will be out of the way of all these forward minxes."
"I trouble not my head about them. I would liever be at the books with you. Let us begin at once."
Then Philip gave James a book to read, and he read it, but badly: gave him a letter to write, and he wrote it vilely.
"Come," said Philip, with a curious air of satisfaction, " I have a year's work before me, with thee."'
He taught James, every evening, after work, with a patience and an untiring amiability that he had not shown in conversation; and James plowed at it with all his heart, and was pathetically docile and grateful. Out of this arose, by degrees, a tender friendship, and loyal partisanship, that belongs to youth; and so, one day, being now such friends, Philip urged him by their friendship to tell him his whole story. He hesitated. "Philip," said he, "I never told it yet but some ill luck did follow straight. No matter; sit by me, my one friend, and I'll tell it thee --ay, ever since I was four years old,"
Then he told his story, but broke down once or twice; then went manfully on, the more so that, while he was telling it, a brown but shapely hand stole into his, and was seldom idle, but ever speaking as variously as a voice, with its gentle pressure of sympathy and sudden grasps at danger; but when he came to his being kidnapped and swooning dead away in the ship, it trembled, and Philip turned his head away, and never looked toward him again, and by then he was flung into jail and cast for death the narrator discovered that Philip was crying.
"Oh, Philip!" said he, "do not you cry. Ah! how many a time I have cried over it all; but now my eyes are dry. Sweet Philip! how kind you are to cry for me. Ah, miserable me!" and all of a sudden Philip's tears drew forth his own once more, the first he had shed for years. They did him a world of good. "Oh, my dear Philip!" he cried, "you have saved me from despair: a cloud clears from my mind. While I have one friend who will shed a tear for me, it were ungrateful to despair;" and he took Philip in his arms, and was going to kiss him heartily; but the boy panted, and put up both his hands, and said, "No, no! I am choking. Prithee, go get me a cup of wine."
James went accordingly; and the first person he saw was Mistress Maria: he asked her to oblige him with a cup of wine.
"Ay, that I will, James," said she tenderly, and brought it him in a moment, and told him she must have the pleasure of seeing him drink
"I will taste it, madam," said he; "but, indeed, 'tis for Philip. He is not well."
"For Philip!" said she disdainfully. "I hope the next time 'twill be for yourself."
James ran with the cup to Philip. Philip was not to be found.
"Was ever such a boy?" said James. However, he left the cup of wine on a table: and the early negroes picked up that worm, as the saying is.
Next evening he went for his lesson, as usual. Philip was busy over a ledger, and only noticed him with a supercilious nod.
"Philip," said he, "I brought you the wine as fast as I could."
Philip never looked off his ledger. "You brought it so fast that I was gone to bed. You were too busy with Mistress Maria to think of me, I trow."
"Nay, I did stay not two minutes with her."
"There--there, there, I thought as much: you were with her."
"Foolish boy, have I the key of the cellar? I asked the first I met."
"Well, I guessed she was the butler; so I did not drink a drop--not a drop, sir."
"I am sorry for that."
"No, you are not."
"Yes, I am, Philip."
"Do not contradict me. I am very angry with you. You made me cry with your romance: that I do not believe a word of. Do not contradict me. And I am not so fond of crying as you are; it makes me ill: and so now I'll just give you a piece of advice; for I see everything from this window. My nose may be in my ledger, but my eye is on you all; so tremble! I tell thee, young women are the artfulest creatures; they are not like men, who get gray and cunning. Girls are born artful: and two or three of these girls are setting their caps at you, after their manner. There's that Indian girl, Turquoise, she makes no disguise, being a savage; she lets all the world see she is ready to eat you up. Then there's the master's niece--great fat thing--she comes here six times for once she is wanted, and sits watching you with her great gray eyes, like a cat watches for a mouse: she will catch you too, some day, if you take not the better heed; and then there's Mistress Maria that is the worst of them all, because she is always here, and has so many opportunities. She is ever throwing herself in your way."
"Nay, nay," said James.
"Do you not meet her in lonely places, whenever you take your walks without me?"
"Sometimes, by pure chance."
"Chance! foolish man; that shows how little you are fit to cope with them."
"Very well, Philip," said James: "since you give me the benefit of your age and experience, I'll give you a piece of advice. Do not you trouble about me; for I am not in love with any young woman, and never was. What I love is the liberty I have lost, and the country I have been banished from. Love is not for a slave. If ever I get home again, I may fall in love; but I think it will be a dark woman; they have always been my best friends. So never you mind me. 'Tis you that are in danger from these girls, not I."
"Me? ha! ha!"
"Ay! why, your head is full of them. I never knew a boy of your age talk so much about women, nor think so much about them."
"Do I talk as if I loved them?"
"No; but you do study them, and abuse them beyond reason: and those are the men that are caught the first, I've heard."
"Well, this is idle chat. Come sit down and I'll give you your lesson, James. Now, then. How dark is your sweetheart to be? Copper, like Turquoise; or lampblack, like Chloe?"
"Thank you, Philip. I prefer a white skin. But her hair, and her eyebrows, and her eyes, I care not if they are dark as--"
"The Devil's," suggested Philip.
"Nay, yours will be dark enough for me. They are the blackest ever I saw; long life to 'em."
Philip colored high with pleasure; and then said, with arrogance, "Come, sir, this is idle chat. Let us to something more profitable, if you please."
The snubbed scholar submitted with a smile. He was getting used to Master Philip's caprices: they amused him.
James Annesley's spirits improved; his fine eyes began to beam at times and color to come into his cheek.
Mistress Maria, on the contrary, began to sicken and pine; and the vigilant Philip determined to be her doctor and prescribe her change of air. One morning he asked an interview with the master and mistress: they were breakfasting in the parlor. Philip was admitted.
Now, Jedediah Surefoot was not like his wife, who treated her servants as her children: he was humane but very short with them. Philip stood in awe of him, and had prepared a little speech beforehand. "Master," said he," I think a good servant should tell his employer in time, if he sees anything going on that might take an ill turn: so I am come to tell you something."
"Then why not tell it at once?" said Jedediah.
"Nay, sir, only for fear you should be hasty, and blame him who is guiltless in the matter. The, truth is, master, and I hope you will forgive me, and set it down to my zeal and duty, if I do make so free, but it is about my young mistress."
"Ay," said Jedediah, frowning, "and what canst thou have to say about her?"
"She is sick, sir; and will be while she bides here."
"Why, the air is wholesome enough. I never was better in my life than I am here."
"'Tis not the air that is amiss, sir, saving your presence. 'Tis the mind."
"Speak plainer, thou jackanapes, if thou hast aught to say at all."
"Nay, then; Mistress Maria hath cast her eyes on James Annesley, and 'tis for him she is love sick. Would you cure her, 'tis but to send her elsewhere for a year. Change, and the sight of other men, will soon restore her."
Jedediah was taken all aback by this revelation. "Patience," said he, "can this be so?"
"Nay, Jedediah," said she, "I hope not; but Philip is not one that lies. Alas! what is to be done?"
"The first thing to be done is to know the truth."
He called a negro, and bade him clear the room, and bring an easy-chair into it. This done, he sent the negro to his daughter's room, and ordered her to come and sit in his armchair by the fire. When he heard her step on the stairs, he turned his wife and Philip out by another door (for the room had two), and left that door ajar.
"Now bide you there," said he, "and still as mice."
He then went and ordered James Annesley to bring in billets of wood and fill the great basket in the parlor. This done he stole back on tiptoe to his wife and Philip, and shook his fist at them, to keep their uneasy tongues quiet. They were on thorns, both of them--the mother for her daughter, and Philip for his friend. "Master," he whispered, "think what you do. James is a good young man. He will never be so unfaithful as to seek her out and offer love to her; but seeing her all alone, and sick for love of him, 'tis too much for flesh and blood. Why, 'tis like the Devil to tempt a weak mortal so."
"Hold thy tongue, jackanapes," was the stern reply.
"Nay, but I cannot. This goes against my conscience. Do as you will, sir; but I wash my hands on't." And he was walking off with dignity.
A rude hand was laid on his collar; and Jedediah, in a stern whisper, said, "Wouldst go and tell thy friend James and put him on guard? Budge but one inch, and I'll have thee whipped, and soundly, the first this three years."
Then Philip turned very pale, and began to shake like a leaf. His quick spirit saw the terrible mistake he had made; and all the possible consequences flashed on him at once. What more likely than that James should commit a folly in an unguarded moment; and then the stern old man would punish him; and, oh agony! he would have been the traitor to betray his unfortunate friend; ay, and that friend would know it. Such was the distress this cost him, that beads of perspiration rose on his brow, though his body was cold all over.
And the miserable suspense was so long!
It seemed an age before they heard James come into the room, and put down his heavy basket of wood; and then the time he was placing the billets in the large basket! and all passed in silence till the billets were placed.
At last a soft female voice said, "Thank you, James: you are very good."
"Nay, madam," James was heard to say, "'tis little to do for you, and you in sickness; but I hope you are better, Mistress Maria."
"No, James," sighed the young girl, "and never shall be till you are my doctor."
"I, madam!" said James, "why, I have no skill."
"Tis not the skill, but the will, that lacketh. You dull, insensible man, see you not 'tis your unkindness that is killing me? Nay, dissemble no more. Oh, that I could hate thee as I ought for slighting my affection! Alas! James, what is it in me that displeases you? I am young; they say I am fair: am I not better worth thy love than that Indian girl, that is forever hanging about thee, and so I hate her? Speak to me, James, for mercy's sake! do not make me woo thee in vain, and sue where I have a right to command. Oh, how I shall hate you now, if you are ungrateful! Hate you, alas! I cannot: thou hast bewitched me. I love thee to distraction. For pity's sake speak to me!"
James was much troubled and abashed. "Madam," said he, "for Heaven's sake bethink you. A slave is not a thing to love, nor to be loved. You are young, you are lovely: and I wonder that I can be so much your friend as to affront you. But you spoke of gratitude. Do I owe none to your good mother, who has softened my slavery? What would her feelings be, and your father's too, were I to be a traitor, and rob them of their only child? No, madam, I have not the excuse of passion; and I will not be a villain in cold blood."
"My parents! Hypocrite! You are a coward, and dare not love above you. Begone to your Indian maid! Wretch, I hate the sight of you!"
"I obey you, Mistress Maria."
"James, James, James! Come back. You might say you do not hate me. You might tell me you are sorry for me."
"I am, madam. I pity you from my soul."
"Pity me? I scorn your pity. You must choose between love or hate."
"I will never love you, madam, if I can help it; and I will never hate you, after what you have said to me--till, you give me cause."
So ended this strange interview. James retired with a sigh; and the young lady, as soon as he was gone, had a cruel fit of sobbing.
Philip's face was now radiant with unhoped-for triumph, and poor Mrs. Surefoot's red with maternal shame, and the tears streaming. As for Jedediah, he looked terribly disturbed and gloomy. "Not one word of this to any soul that breathes: that is my order," said he. "If you disobey me, look to it."
They obeyed him to the letter; but they indemnified themselves by long discussions among themselves. Philip urged the temporary retirement of Mistress Maria. The good woman who was like butter in Philip's hands, carried this advice to her husband; but he received it ill. "Banish my daughter for a servant!" said he. "Think of some other way."
"May I?" said she. "Then, sweetheart, if I might have my will, I'd part them as becomes us. 'Twas rare fidelity and modesty. Oh, Jedediah! I know what Mistress Shipley would say: Give the young man his liberty, that pines for it, and hath earned it of us by his good deed."
"Now you talk sense," said Jedediah: "I will think on't."
Then Mrs. Surefoot went, all in a hurry, and told Mrs. Shipley her trouble; and Mrs. Shipley gave her religious comfort and advice, and highly approved Jedediah's giving James his liberty. '"Tis the least he can do," said she, "and a new suit to boot. If the young man is willing to try his fortune in these parts, I will give him an ax and a hoe, and a meal a day for three months, and William shall let him a few acres of wood for nothing the first year, and thereafter for a payment in kind. We have planted many a poor man so, that now doth well enow." Mrs. Surefoot told Philip all this, and, to her surprise, Philip looked blank. His little project had always been to banish Maria, not James. But one day Mrs. Surefoot came into the office with a face full of pain and concern, and said, "Oh, Philip! I spoke too fast. The master will not give James his liberty."
"What a shame!" said Philip; "but no matter. He is happier now."
"Alas!" said Mrs. Surefoot, "you mistake me. James is to go for certain; but the master will not free him, but sell him to McCarthy, that is always willing to buy them."
Philip was struck dumb by this sudden blow. He was too much surprised and shocked to comment on Jedediah's conduct and character.
Mrs. Surefoot babbled on, unheeded almost. "What will Dame Shipley say? She will discourse on it till I shall wish I had ne'er been born. I am a miserable woman. The world is too hard for me. But, alas! I'm a wife, and sworn to obedience; and he is a good husband, and a good man; but what he hath bought for money that he never will give for naught. The Lord forgive him, and me for not knowing how to manage him as Elizabeth does her goodman, for all he is as hard as flint by nature."
Philip repaid her twaddle with a swift glance of scorn, then asked her, with affected composure, when McCarthy was to be expected. She told him the first of next month, without fail, and meantime Maria was to keep her chamber.
Soon after this Philip fell ill, and kept his bedroom. Mrs. Surefoot visited him often, and sent James to Katy Dean for simples. Philip got worse, and yet insisted on doing his work. At his request a couch was sent up to his little room, and he lay on his back and still kept the accounts, though groaning with pain. James became very anxious, and was always running up to see how he was, and sat gazing at his pale face piteously, and often implored him to say if there was anything he could do for him. Generally Philip answered rather pettishly, and told James not to come there wasting his time. But one day, seeing James gazing at him with the tear in his eye, and a look of wonderful affection and sorrow on his noble though simple face, the boy gave a great gulp, and whined out in rather a tearful way, "James, do not you be a fool. What is the man sniveling for?" James hid his face in both hands, and groaned aloud.
"Come near me," said the boy, "and I will tell you a secret. Will you keep it faithfully?"
"Ay, that I will."
"Then you must know I am not ill a bit: I am only feigning."
"What! Alas! thy poor white face."
"Chalk, stupid. I tell thee, when you are all abed, I rise and dance about the place, and shake my fist at you all, especially at that old knave Jedediah, and that dish of skim-milk, his wife, that has got a man, and lets him be her master, instead of making him her head slave, as I would."
Philip's laugh and sparkling eye amazed James Annesley; and he cried out, "Oh, thou dear, good, sweet wicked boy, for playing so with the hearts that love thee! let me kiss thee." And he rushed at him to embrace him; but Philip caught up the ink-stand in a moment, and threatened him. "Let me be," cried he: "I hate to be slobbered. Sit down, thou foolish, and talk sense."
"Nay," said James, "talk it thyself, and tell me why thou art such a dear, good, artful young fellow, to sport with the feelings of those that love thee; and, moreover, 'tis unlucky to feign sickness."
"Here's an ungrateful toad," said Philip; "why, 'tis for thee I do it."
"For me, Philip?"
"Ay, thou innocent--for thee. Oh, James! I could not bear to be parted from thee." Philip said this with a world of tenderness, and then hid his face in his hands, and blushed like a rose.
James's face showed he was sore puzzled. Philip, who could change his mood like lightning, darted off into his favorite tone of lofty assumption. "Why, thou coxcomb," said he, "dost thou really think thou art fit to go to a new master, without me at thy back? Come, James," added he patronizingly, "you are a good, worthy young man; but you know you are somewhat of a milksop. You are not fit to go alone. You cannot beat the men, nor flatter the women. I can do both, especially make fools of the women, and turn 'em to butter with my tongue. And I know not how it is," continued he, assuming now an air of philosophical meditation, "but custom governs us strangely: once get into the habit of taking care of a child, or a dog, or a James Annesley, or any foolish, helpless sort of a pet, and, in truth, you get so used to it, you can't let it go alone: you still come clucking after it, like a hen after her duckling. Is it not laughable?"
"No: for I am as fond of thee, Philip as thou art of me."
"That you may easily be; for I am not fond of you at all; but I am warmly and sincerely and truly accustomed to you, sir; and so I can't part. I won't, neither. I'll kill everybody dead first, and die myself. But there's no need of that. I've got the key to that hunks. Avarice, James, avarice! Come, no more idle talk, but be a good lad: obey thy friend and protector, and let's to work. Give me that piece of chalk. So. Now, go you to Jedediah, and ask him to see me alone, before I die. Tell him I have somewhat to say I would not trust even to our dame."
James did as he was bid; and Jedediah, in the course of a few hours, when he had nothing more remunerative to do, went to Philip's room. He found him lying pale and exhausted, with a little table by him. He sat down by him, and said he hoped that he was better.
"Master," said the boy, "I shall never be better. I have got the complaint my father died of, and in a few days I shall leave you. What vexes me is you will lose a faithful servant."
"It can't be helped. God's will be done."
"And you will have to bury me; and that is like flinging money away. Nothing comes of it."
"It cannot be helped," said Jedediah, with a little groan.
"Not by you; but I think I could help it. Why should you lose the money you paid for me, and the money for the coffin, and all?"
"It is a sore dispensation. But it cannot be helped."
"Yes, sir, it can. McCarthy comes here to-morrow to buy slaves." Jedediah nodded. "He got the better of you in that sale of wood." Jedediah groaned.
"It's your turn now. I'll seem well, or nearly, when he comes. You shall say, 'James Annesley will fret without his friend;' then McCarthy will buy us both; and I shall die on his premises, not yours."
Jedediah's little keen eye flashed. He subdued it, and said, "But I doubt me whether that would be fair trade. What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to spoil the Egyptians?"
"It is a Christian duty. And think of me, master. I shall die miserable if you have to bury me, and lose so much by me."
"Nay, I will not have thee die unhappy. That were cruel. Thou hast been indeed a faithful servant, and I'll humor thee in this thing."
"Good master, kind master! Then I pray you go at once to Mistress Maria's chamber, and fetch me her pot of red. Ask her not for it; or she'll deny you, and swear to't. 'Tis in the drawer of her table whereon stands her glass."
"My daughter paint her face?"
"Ay, and her lips and all, at odd times. Fetch it me, sir, privately; for without it McCarthy will see the trick, and never buy me."
Jedediah went straight for the cosmetic, looking black as thunder.
Philip chuckled with delight. "Aha!" said this sweet, harmless boy. "I have lent that minx a dig into the bargain."
Next day McCarthy came, and, at sight of James, offered a fair price. Jedediah appeared cool on it, and at last let out that there was such a close friendship between James and the bookkeeper, he did not care to part them.
"Bookkeeper?" said McCarthy.
"Ay," said Jedediah, and showed him the books.
At this juncture, the dialogue having purposely been carried on in sight of Philip's window, out ran the bookkeeper, looking the picture of health. McCarthy was astonished at his youth and his bookkeeping, and determined to purchase him: however, he concealed his enthusiasm, like a wary trader, and said he really only needed one servant, but would give the same price for Philip, if Jedediah would not part them.
The bargain was struck; and in less than an hour the two friends' bundles were in McCarthy's light wagon, and they were marching behind it.
With them, to their infinite surprise, walked Jedediah Surefoot, a short, thick riding-whip in his hand.
The fact is, his daughter had slipped out, taking advantage of her mother being at Willingtown; and he was afraid she had resolved to have a tender parting with James, or some worse folly; and who knows, exasperated at being sold, instead of rewarded, James's good faith might melt before a second temptation of the sort. So he said grimly to his late servants, "I'll set ye on your way." He stalked along with them in silence. They thought he would go a mile, and then give them his blessing; but no: mile after mile, this kill-joy stuck to them, and was irksome; for they both wanted to talk, and congratulate each other on being still together.
At last Philip lost all patience, and resolved to make the intruder smart. He whispered James to fall back a little, and suddenly putting on his saucy swagger, that was quite new to Jedediah, he said, "Come, old man, hand forth my veil."
"Thy veil, boy?"
"Ay. Do you think I shall let you bite my worthy master there, and not have my nibble? Two gold pieces I demand. Give them, or I'll reveal the bubble to McCarthy, and have thee trounced, thou dealer in man's flesh, thou hypocritical knave, that wouldst rob a church, and go to prayers before the deed and after."
Jedediah was stupefied at first by this sudden hailstorm of insolence; but amazement soon gave way to rage. He gave a roar and rushed at Philip. Philip screamed and tried to escape, but could not. He clutched him fiercely by the collar, and raised his whip on high; but it never came down; for, at Philip's first scream, James rushed on Jedediah with equal fury, and seized his arm, and caught him by the throat so felly that in a moment his face was purple. Then James seized his whip, and, mad with rage himself, whirled him round in a circle, and thrashed him furiously; you might have heard the blows a mile off; then put his foot to Jedediah's stomach, and, with one amazing thrust, spurned him head forward to the ground, that he rolled over and the dust rose round his helpless body like a cloud. This done, he flung his whip at him where he lay.
Philip clung, sobbing and trembling, to his arm.
James stood like a Colossus, his feet wide apart, his eyes glaring.
"Nay, be not alarmed, sweet Philip," said he. "He is no master of ours, but only a knave I have taught a lesson. None shall lay whip on thee while I am by."
He coaxed and encouraged him, and they walked slowly on; but Philip, in walking, still clung to James's strong arm, and trembled.
When he was a little better, he looked up and gazed on James with quite a new sentiment of admiration, and said, "Oh, how grand and strong and brave and beautiful you were! I did not think 'twas in you."
Having thus delivered himself, he lowered his head again suddenly, and clung to James's arm again.
"Nay," said James, "I am not a brave man: my want of courage was the first cause of all my misery. Child, 'twas only rage, not courage. No matter; I have but one friend: I'll not see him abused."
"Bless you, James!" He suddenly took James's hand and kissed it with a gentle devotion he had never exhibited before. "Dear James," he said, "I cannot bear a blow. 'Twas for a blow I left my home and all my friends."
"Ay, indeed! Pluck up heart now, and tell me all about that."
"Tell thee my story? Not for all the world."
"Why, I told thee mine."
"Ay: you have naught to blush for. I'd rather die than tell thee mine. What have I done? I have put a barrier between me and the man I--Nay, heed not what I say. I am ill. I am sick. I have been frightened. I shall faint. I shall die."
"Nay, nay," said James. "Take not on so, for naught. Is this he who called me a milksop?"
"Ay," said Philip, weeping. Then, with a piteous effort at his little hectoring way, "and will again, if I pee-pee-please."
"Meantime," said James, "I'll bestow thy valor in yon cart." Caught up the weeping Hector in a moment, and carried him in his strong arms, striding away, till he overtook the cart. "Master, poor Philip hath been ill of late, and he is aweary. May I put him in the cart?"
"And welcome. There is room for thee an' all."
"Nay, sir. I will not weight the good horse."
In a very few minutes there was a good deal of talking and laughing in the covered cart. Master Philip was amusing his new master, and taking the length of his foot.
"Dear heart!" thought Annesley, "what a strange boy 'tis! He changes like the wind. Sure, his mother's milk is scarce out of him."
Late at night they reached McCarthy's, a large farm, about sixty miles from Philadelphia.
McCARTHY was a widower; and the house was kept by his daughter--a lady of very striking appearance. She was very tall and commanding and fair. Some thought her beautiful: others were repelled by the extreme haughtiness of her features, with which her deportment and manners corresponded.
The two friends, of course, talked everybody over with whom they were likely to come in contact; and they differed about Mistress Christina McCarthy. James thought her the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Philip screamed, "What! a nose like a man's, foxy eyebrows, white eyelashes, and a cold cruel eye. She's not a woman," said this candid critic: "she is a cat."
"I never heard thee praise a woman yet," objected James.
"That is their fault, not mine," retorted Philip, who had long ago resumed the upper hand. "You will be pleased to avoid that cat, like poison," said Philip. "And if she runs after you--and I hear she has had a dozen beaux already--you will come to me for advice, or our friendship is at an end, sir. I shall have my eye on her."
The effect of Philip's espionage was this: he discovered that Christina McCarthy passed James and him as if they were dirt, her lofty affections being fixed on a big mulatto slave. Such an attachment was repugnant to the feelings of white men, and contrary to law. They kept it very close, in consequence; and nobody on the farm dreamed of such a thing, until this Argus-eyed Philip came, and found it out by their secret glances and signals, and a deal of subtle evidence.
He told James of it, and made merry over the lady's hauteur.
"That is so like the jades! Whenever one of them knows herself baser than all the rest she puts on a mask of transcendent pride to throw dust in folk's eyes; but they cannot throw dust in mine."
James hoped it was not true: "for 'tis disgraceful," said he, "and contrary to nature. And, poor man, she is his only child."
"Don't contradict me," said Philip. "I tell you 'tis so; and I'll show you the law."' He had picked out a copy of the State laws, on purpose to ascertain the probable fate of this haughty beauty, whose superb carriage had roused a most vindictive feeling in Master Philip.
James was not so curious in love affairs as Philip, and saw nothing to justify the libel. The lady passed often before his eyes, a model of cold dignity and feminine reserve. He scouted the notion, and almost scolded Philip for his uncharitableness toward women.
But one evening, having done his work, he took "Plutarch's Lives," which Philip had borrowed for him from the master, and lay down under a hedge of the prickly pear to read it. He was so absorbed in this book, and lay so still, that the little birds came about him and did not mind him. The dusk came on, and still, with his young eyes, he went on reading, till suddenly he heard footsteps on the other side of the hedge, and, after the footsteps, voices.
Now, James was outside the hedge; but these speakers were inside, and well hidden by the shadow of some lofty trees. This, in fact, was the favorite rendezvous of Christina and the mulatto Regulus. James knew the young lady's voice directly; and, though they spoke low and hurriedly, he heard enough to show him they were lovers, and that she was going to elope with the fellow as soon as she could lay her hands on a large sum of money her father was about to receive for the sale of another plantation. James listened with horror, and asked himself what on earth he should do. At last these ill-assorted lovers parted; that is to say, Regulus went off, leaving his young mistress to follow at such an interval of time as might lead to no suspicion. Then James thought he would not tell the old man, but would, at all events, try first to show the young woman her folly. He ran hastily to a gate, penetrated the wood, and came swiftly through the trees to her; for he saw her white dress still standing there. Seeing him come straight to her so fast, she took him for Regulus come back with news; and she was so unguarded as to say, "Why, what now, my dear Regulus?" A strange voice answered her, at whose first tone she uttered a faint cry of alarm. "'Tis not Regulus, madam, but one who has more real good wishes toward you than he has."
Christina trembled violently, but defended herself. She drew up haughtily, and said, "Why, 'tis James Annesley. How dare you speak to me? What are you doing here at this time? Have you been here long?"
"Long enough to learn something that astonishes and pains me; and I hope I may be in time to prevent it. Madam, I saw you and Regulus together."
"Wonderful! And now you see me and another of my slaves together. I was giving Regulus an order; and now I give you an order. Go home, and sleep the liquor off that hath made thee so bold as to speak to me. Begone, or dread the whip, thou malapert!" James stood his ground.
"Before I go, tell me what I ought to do. I am your father's servant, madam, not yours. Both you and I, we eat his bread. Ought I to let him be robbed of his daughter and his money, and never breathe a word?" Then she began to pant, and said, "What mean you?" Then he told her that he had overheard every word that had passed between her and Regulus.
"Indeed!" said she with an attempt at defiance belied by her short breath. "Repeat it, then," said she ironically.
"I will," said he gravely. And he did repeat it, and at such length, and with such exact fidelity, that, as he went on, shame and infinite terror crawled over her. Her knees smote each other, and her haughty frame cringed and writhed; and she sank half down upon a wood pile that was near, and her white hands fell helpless, one in front of her and the other by her side. Never was a proud creature so stricken down in a moment.
Then this good young man pitied her, and hoped to save her. He said, "Madam, for Heaven's sake, look at the consequences. What good can come of it? If you fly with Regulus, and take your father's money, you will be caught one day and set on the gallows, and be publicly whipped; for I have seen one as young and fair as you served so."
A moan from the crushed woman was the only comment.
"And if you steal naught, yet marry a mulatto, 'tis against the law, and your children will be illegitimate, and you will lose your father's estate, and break his heart."
Christina interrupted him. "Oh, say no more, James, for pity's sake! I have been mad. Oh! what a precipice! James, do not thrust me over! Do not tell my father, for mercy's sake!"
"Not if you will promise to forego this mad design. Sure, that mulatto must have bewitched you, that none so fair as you should cast an eye of love on anything so foul."
She caught at this directly. "Ay," she cried, "'twas witchcraft, and no other thing. But you have opened my eyes, good James--too late, too late!" and she burst into a flood of tears.
"That depends on yourself. If you will swear to hold no more converse with that mulatto, I shall not feel bound to utter one word of what I know."
"James," said the lady, "you are my guardian angel: you have saved me from a crime, and from an act of frenzy I now look back upon with horror. Do but continue your good work. Advise me at every step, and all will be well."
James was surprised into consenting to that; and she then begged him to conduct her home. "Alas!" said she, "I can scarce stand." She leaned on James's shoulder and went very slowly and feebly. This gave her time to say some of those vague things with which such women think to excuse their follies. "If you knew all, you would pity me even more than, you condemn me." And again, with her white hand leaning on his arm, she said, "How sorcery blinds us!" And what with this, and her gentle pressure of his hand at parting, she disturbed even this Joseph's mind a little, and set him thinking it would not be very hard to cure her of her insane caprice.
Next day she sent for him openly, and told him her plan. "I shall keep out of his way; I shall not move from my own apartments; or, if I do, you shall be with me. And now here is a letter I will beg you to take him. Read it first, before I seal it."
The letter ran thus:
"An accident has frustrated our design for the present. My father has not yet brought the money into the house. I hurt my foot last night, and shall not, I fear, be able to come to our rendezvous for some days. Burn this before the face of whatever person I may send it by, or I shall think you do not mean fair to
James highly disapproved this letter, and told her so. "Why," said he, "it cannot fail to keep hope alive in him."
"Exactly," said she; "and so he will not blab of my folly."
"No more he will if you break off all connection with him. And why write at all? Such a letter is worse than silence."
However, she talked him over, and convinced him that she was resolved, in a cowardly and artful way, to detach herself gradually from the deplorable connection; so that he half consented to take the letter. Then she took a slice of cake out of her closet, and a pint of rich wine, and sat close to him while he drank it, and showed him such signs of favor that he was the more inclined to believe she would readily detach herself from Regulus. So he consented to take the letter.
The mulatto eyed him keenly, took the letter, read it, burned it before his eyes, and said, "Tell her what you have seen me do: that is all."
Christina now showed James so many marks of favor, and so open, that Philip took him to task. "My poor mouse," said he scornfully, "are you going to let that cat catch you so easily?" When that produced no effect, he remonstrated, advised, scolded, and at last quarreled with him downright, and would not speak to him.
Now, James was really rather smitten with Christina. Her tenderness and cajoleries, following upon her haughty demeanor, had wonderfully tickled his vanity, and even grazed his heart; but he was not so far gone as to part with Philip's friendship. So one day he came to him, and said, "Dear Philip, do not you quarrel with me in a mistake. I will tell thee the truth about Mistress Christina; but first you must swear to me, on the big Bible, never to reveal one word of that I tell thee."
Philip turned pale at this, but took the oath; and then James told him all.
He was more alarmed than surprised. "I knew she was naught, the minute I clapped eyes on her. Look at her white lashes and her cold, cruel eye. The unnatural beast! that would rob her own father, and wed with a brown! And what sort of a man are you? Why went you not straight to her father, like an honest man? What had you to do to go to her, and get cozened, you silly oaf? Are you a match for that artful jade, think you?"
"Nay, she seems very penitent, and keeps away from him; and--whisper, Philip. If I chose, I could take the brown's place, as you call him, any day; and, really 'tis a temptation."
"You love the wretch?"
"Nay; not quite love. But she is fair: and she was so haughty, and now is so tender. I own I think more about her than I ever did of any woman yet. To be sure, I am very proud of saving her, and that makes the heart soft toward the fair creature I have rescued from a 'precipice.'"
Philip's face turned green and his lips pale. His face was distorted and discolored with the anguish these words cost him; and he sat mute as a statue.
James did not happen to look at him, and went maundering on: "The only thing I like not is that letter to Regulus. What think you of it, Philip?"
Philip, though sick at heart, made a great effort, and said faintly, "The letter was writ to show him he must temporize, but not despair. Prithee, James, leave me a while: I have work to do. Come in an hour; and we will see what all this really means."
He went; and then Philip began to sigh and moan at the confession James had made; and, for a long while, he could think only of his own misery at being supplanted in James's heart. But of course his hatred of this rival soon led him into a keen and hostile examination of her conduct; and the consequence was a new and more disinterested anxiety arose, which led him to put a very keen question to James the moment he entered the room. "Has the mulatto shown you any enmity?"
"Yet he sees his mistress bestow favors on you. Then all is clear. She has told him. You are their dupe. How that woman must hate you!"
"Nay," said James, smiling conceitedly, "that I'll be sworn she does not."
"What, not when you have come between her and her fancy, and do keep them apart? Think you, when once a woman hath loved a woolly mulatto, she can so come back to wholesome affections? She hates you, and spends her days and nights scheming to destroy you. Oh, those cunning lashes, and that cruel eye! They make me tremble for you. Let me think what she is about at this very minute."
He resumed, after a pause, "She will draw you on to offer her some innocent freedom; then fly out, and accuse you of wooing her. Who will believe you--a slave--when the young mistress swears?"
"I'll not give her the occasion."
"How can you tell? And, if you do not, why, then she will get rid of you some other way. You shall be stabbed in the back some dark night, and never know who struck you. But I shall know; and I shall kill her--before I die."
So strong were Philip's fears, that he armed James with an enormous knife, and made him promise never to go to any lonely place without it. James assented, to quiet him, but, in his heart, made light of these extravagant fears. On the other hand, he felt piqued by Philip's insinuation that the mulatto and his penitent were duping him; and so he used often to get up in the dead of the night, and make his rounds with stealthy foot, to watch. The effect of this vigilance was, that one moonlight night, coming softly round a corner, he found Regulus under the young mistress's bedroom window; which window was open, the weather being warm. James collared him directly. "What do you do here at this time of night?"
"I do what you do," said the mulatto.
"Not so," said James; "for I guard my master's goods against a knave."
"Knave thyself, and meddler and fool!" cried the mulatto, whose rage had been simmering this many a day.
From words they came to blows, and struck each other hard and fast, without much parrying; in the midst of which Christina put her head out of her window on the first floor, and looked steadily down at them. After a few moments of self-possessed observation, she said in a keen whisper, "Kill him!"
In this combat, the white struck at the face, and the black at the body: by this means the black's face was soon covered with blood; but the white man was most hurt, and felt instinctively that he should soon be overpowered: so he closed with his dark antagonist. They wrestled fiercely; but it ended in James throwing him, and falling on him. The ground was hard; and the fall of the two heavy bodies on it tremendous: it drove the wind out of Regulus for a moment; and James got him by the ears, and pounded his bullet head on the ground.
Christina now screamed loudly. A window or two were opened; nightcapped heads popped out; and the combatants separated by mutual consent, and retired, glaring at each other.
James had not gone far when he was seized with a violent sickness; and, after that, he crawled to his bed, bruised and seriously hurt by the body blows he had received. Next morning he was too stiff and ill to go to his work.
Philip heard a vague report that James and the mulatto had been fighting in the dead of night, and sent a message directly to James, desiring to speak to him. The servant came back, and said he was too ill to leave his bed. Philip was much concerned at this, and, after a slight hesitation, went and knocked at the door of James's room. He slept over the stables. A faint voice said, "Come in." Philip lifted the latch. He found James lying on the bed, just as he had come from the battle, and his face two or three colors. Philip had intended to scold him; but this was no time. He came softly to him, and said, "Alas! my poor James, how is it with thee?"
"But badly, in truth," said James, still in a faint voice.
"How came it about?"
He told him the truth.
"Ah!" said Philip sadly. "Jealousy. How men do love ill women! That old cat--thirty, if she is a day--to have two lovers and two nations, after a manner, fighting for her o' nights beneath her very window. Did she see you?"
"Indeed she did."
"And smiled, I'll be bound, at what would make a good woman scream to part the fools. Did she say naught?"
"She said, 'Kill him.'"
"The black, I do suppose."
"I am not so sure of that." And Philip fell into a reverie. It was broken by James going suddenly back on something Philip had said. "I do believe thou art right," said he, "and finding him under her window, I felt a sort of jealousy as well as wrath at his continuing to tempt her: if 'twas so, I am rightly served: but flout me not for 't, Philip, for I think I am sped."
"Now, Heaven forbid! Where is thy hurt?"
"All over me. I made a great mistake. I kept beating him about his bullet head; but he still belabored my ribs. Oh! I am all pains and aches: it hurts me e'en to speak."
"Alas, alas!" said Philip, and laid a cool, consoling hand on the hot brow: then he suddenly ground his teeth, and said, "Curses on them all! I will end this to-night; no later."
James asked him what he meant. He refused to say; but the fact is he was resolved to go that very night to McCarthy, who was then on a visit to his brother, five miles off, and tell him the whole story. Knowing that James would remonstrate, he kept his resolution to himself, and went off for the present to prepare a composing draught for his patient, after the receipt of Patience Surefoot. He made the decoction, in which, I believe, the flowers of the lime-tree were a principal ingredient; and, while it was simmering, he took up the Philadelphia Post, that had just been brought into the office. He always read every line of that journal. It was a single quarto sheet, and came out twice a week.
That journal contained an advertisement that set the paper shaking in Philip's hand and his eyes glowing:
"I, Jonas Hanway, now lying in jail, charged with the murder of my ward, Joanna Philippa Chester, take this way to let her know my evil plight, and beg her, for pity's sake, to come back, or write of her welfare. Poor Silas, that made the mischief, is in his grave, and naught awaits her here but my true repentance, and the kind affection of my co-trustee, Mr. Thomas Chester, under whose care she now is if only she could be found. And, for a further inducement to return, I do now, with my co-trustee's consent, inform her that she is heiress to a fortune of thirteen thousand pounds, or more, which knowledge was withheld from her by her father's express desire, lest any man should wed her for her dower, and not for true love of her: but now 'tis thought best to let her know the truth, lest she throw herself away. The said Joanna is now nineteen years of age, tall and active, and of singular beauty; hath eyebrows black as jet, and do meet so remarkably, as, in an Englishwoman, must needs draw notice. She hath been traced to London; and it is thought she hath crossed the seas. Whoever will give information respecting her shall receive a reward of
"She had her mother's jewels with her. But they are now her own.
"From my prison at Staines, January, 1739-40."
Advertisement! -- it was a cry from a prison, and a cry from home, that knocked at her very heart. She uttered a responsive cry herself, as if the prisoner's cry had sounded in her ears; and then she devoured the words once more, feeding on every syllable in great amazement. But presently the letters grew hazy; her filling eyes saw them no more, and in their place came the pleasant meads of Colebrook, the English landscape, humble but sweet, the gray old church, the parson's scholarly face, the white-headed children, and poor old England stretching out her hands to her lost daughter, with words of sorrow and love. Then her heart gushed to her eyes in a stream; and the wanderer lay softly back in her chair, quite motionless, and let the sweet tears flow.
Then came the desire to act--to fly home and save that poor bereaved father, and live among her folk. How should she manage it? She had jewels secreted about her, any one of which was worth more than a slave's ransom. Why not go to McCarthy, tell him who she was, and offer him a diamond ring for her liberty? Why not? Because he might have her seized for wearing man's clothes, and throw her into prison for life, so severe was this colony in that matter. No: she could not endure the shame, nor run the risk. She would take one of his horses, and ride by night to Philadelphia, and make terms with him through some other party. One thing alone she did resolve--not to lose an hour, but to be gone that very night. One day lost, and the prisoner's life might pay for it. Yes, she would go, and take James Annesley with her. She took up the sleeping draught, and went to his room. She made him drink it, and then covered him up warm and took his hand in hers. "James, dear," said she, "I am a happy--creature. I have news from England--sad news, after a manner, yet sweet; and I am going home."
"Going!--Ah, well! God's blessing and mine go with thee."
"Why, thou foolish man, I go not without thee. This very night we ride to Philadelphia, and thence to England."
James shook his head sorrowfully. "There is no escape for a slave. I have tried it."
"Ay, all alone, and on foot, without money or means. But 'tis different now. I shall command the expedition--I, who by your leave possess the two capital gifts of a commander, which are forecast and courage--forecast, by which I do foresee all possible accidents, and provide for them; and courage, whereby I overcome and trample under foot those petty dangers that scare a mere ordinary man like thee. What's this?"
"What is what?"'
"I smell a smell I never could abide. 'Tis a cat. I know 'tis a cat. There! there she is, coiled in the mouth of that sack. I shall faint, I shall die."
"Why, here's a coil about poor puss. 'Tis the stable-cat, and loves to come here."
"Well, she goes forth, or I."
"Open the door then, and fling thy cap at the poor harmless thing."
"I call not foul things harmless, especially when they are all claws. I like not your cats, even when they are called Christinas."
While Philip was driving out the "harmless, necessary cat," James criticised him. "Why, 'tis like a girl, to be afeard of a cat! But indeed you are more like a girl than a boy, in many things. You hate women more than is natural, and you turn your toes out in walking, and you carry your hand so oddly when you walk."
"Mercy on us, how?"
"Why, you turn it out sidewise, and show the fingers. I walk with my thumb straight down."
Philip turned very red, but said pertly.
"All which proves that I was born of a woman. Now, you were born of a goose. I'm man enough to be your master; and this very evening you shall ride with me to Philadelphia."
"You are my master, and I own it," said James -- "my master by superior learning, wit, and daring; only the courage comes and goes most strangely. But good my master, for all that, I cannot ride with thee to-night."
"Oh! say not so, James. Why not?"
"I could not sit a horse, for my life."
"Alas! how unfortunate we are! James, think me not unkind; but I must go to-night--with thee or without thee."
"You must go without me, then; for indeed I am not able."
"But perhaps you may be by nightfall. Have a good sweat and a good sleep; and I'll come again at dusk; for, oh, James! I must go; and I am loath to leave thee." Then Philippa retired, and went and made some slight preparation for the journey she had resolved to take; but, in the midst of it all, her hands fell helpless, and her heart revealed itself to her. She could not go. Love burst through all self-deception at last. She loved him; had loved him long; and now loved him to distraction. Leave him on his sick bed, and among enemies? No, not for a day! She had honestly intended--if he could not come --to fly to Philadelphia, sell her jewels, and buy him of McCarthy; but, now it came to the point, she burst out crying, and found she could not leave him in trouble--no, not for an hour. "Nay," said she to herself, "but I will come at night, and hector him, and taunt him, and coax him, and try all my wicked arts to get him to go with me; then, if he cannot, I will pretend to go without him; but I'll slip back softly, and lie on the mat at my darling's door. None shall come to hurt him but over my body."
Meantime, James received another unexpected visitor. There was a gentle tap at the door, and Mistress Christina glided in. He was surprised, and tried to rise and receive her; but she put up her white hand that he should not move. Then she sat down by him, and, with the most cajoling tenderness, expressed her regret at what had occurred. "Why," said she, "will you trouble about that man, whom you know I have discarded?"
"He was there to tempt you, madam."
"More likely through jealousy. Seeing me favor you, perhaps he suspected me of speaking to you at all hours. But once more, James, trouble not about him. Has he hurt you?"
"Nay, madam, not much," said James; "a few bruises, that I am to sleep away. He got as good as he gave, I know."
"That is true," said she gravely. "He is much cut about the face; and you have knocked out one of his front teeth."
"I will knock his head off next time."
"I will give you leave to kill him--next time," said the lady calmly. "Meantime, prithee get well--for my sake. I'll send you something to do you good." She then kissed her hand to him, and went softly out.
Before she had been long gone, Philip's potion began to work; and James fell into a fine sleep and a violent perspiration.
Presently there was another tap at the door; and, as the sleeper did not reply, Chloe entered with a large basin of strong soup prepared by the white hands of Christina herself. Chloe was followed by the late discarded cat, returning now with lofty tail, sniffing the savory mess. Chloe, finding the patient asleep and perspiring, had the sense not to awaken him; only, as she thought it a pity the soup should cool, she put it down by his bedside, calculating that the smell might waken him as it would her. To keep it warm, she put "Plutarch's Lives" over it, and then retired: it was about four o'clock.
Now if James was asleep, puss was not. He turned about the leg of the table, sniffing; and at last sprang boldly on to the bed, and from the bed to the table. Here he found an obstacle in Plutarch. Plutarch covered the soup not entirely, but too much for puss to get a nose in. He sat quiet a few minutes, then he applied his forepaw and nose, and made a sufficient aperture. Then he found the soup too hot. Then he sat on the table a whole hour, waiting. Then he arose, and gradually licked up nearly half the soup; then he retired quietly, and coiled himself up.
James still slept on his balmy sleep, till just before sunset. Then he was awakened by a violent knocking.
He looked up, and there was the poor cat in violent convulsions, springing up to an incredible height, and hammering the floor with his head when he came down.
James got up, unconscious of his late pains, and threw some water over him. He thought it a fit; but after a few violent convulsions came piteous cries; and the poor creature stretched his limbs and died foaming at the mouth.
James soon discovered the cause in the stolen soup.
His blood ran cold. He fell on his knees, and thanked God he was alive. But how long? What would not hate so diabolical as this attempt? He seized his knife, and prepared to sally forth.
At this moment he heard a whistle under his window.
"Ah!" thought he, "a signal of assassins." He instantly dragged his bed and other things to the door, to impede an attack from that quarter, and then went cautiously to the window. To his great relief it was Philip who had given that signal. He opened the window directly. "Oh, Philip! They have tried to poison me!!"
"Ah! who, who?"
"Christina herself. Sent me soup. The cat stole some while I slept, thanks to your medicine!--You are my preserver. And see, the poor cat is dead." He took the cat's body, and flung it out.
Philip recoiled with a cry of horror. "Come forth!" he cried. "Come forth! or they will murder thee yet. Oh, my love! come forth to me."
"I will, I will." And in a moment he tore away the bed and other things from the door and ran down to Philip. Philip had lost not a moment, but was getting the two best horses out. James helped him. Without a word more, they saddled and bridled them; and Philip sprang into the saddle: his black eyes were gleaming with a strange fire.
"Take that dead beast before thee," said he, "and I'll give thee liberty and vengeance."
They galloped off, over the soft ground, Philip leading, and took the road to Philadelphia.
They did not venture to speak till they got clear of McCarthy's premises; but then James told Philip of Christina's visit and cajoleries, followed by murder.
Philip said, "'Twas in her eye. Ah! thou foul cat; but I'll be even with thee." And Philip ground his teeth audibly; and his eye shot fire in the moonlight. "My poor James!" said he, "that would not harm a mouse."
About five miles from McCarthy's they passed his brother's farm. They passed it a hundred yards or so; and then Philip drew the rein, and haltered his horse to a gate, and made James do the same. "Now take that dead Christina in thy hand," said he bitterly, "and follow me." He marched up to the farm, and asked for William McCarthy.
"What want you?"
"We are two servants of his come with news of life and death."
"You shall find him at supper with the rest."
Philip walked boldly into the noisy supper-room, followed by James. "Silence all!" said he, with a voice like a clarion; and the room was still in a moment.
"Master, have you money in your house?" '
"Ay," cried McCarthy, half rising, and turning pale--more than I can bear to lose. But 'tis in the safe, boy. None knows of it but my daughter."
"Am I your daughter? Yet I know it. Your daughter has a mulatto to her lover; and they have planned to rob you of your money, and fly."
"The proof!" roared McCarthy.
"The proof is this: James there overheard Christina and Regulus plan the robbery. He taxed Christina with it; and she tried to cajole him; but failing in that, and knowing he would tell you, like a faithful servant, as he is, she this day essayed to poison him."
Here there were some exclamations.
"Ay, sir," continued he: "the cat, by God's mercy, stole a little of the soup while he slept. Now look at that cat's body, and judge for yourselves."
The cat was instantly examined.
Philip did not stop for that. "Now, master, take your weapons, and to horse this moment, and save your goods, if there be yet time." Mr. McCarthy, and his brother, and two or three men, ran out. Philip turned to the others, and folding his arms, said boldly, "Sirs, ye are Christian men, and white men like ourselves: is it your will that good servants of your own flesh and blood shall be poisoned like rats?" There was a roar of honest disclamation. "And all because Christina McCarthy is so lost to shame as to wed a black, and rob her own flesh and blood. Then, sirs, to your justice we commend our cause. There is the poisoned beast to prove our words, and half the poisoned soup in this good young man's room over the stable. Punish them with everything short of death. James and I will keep away a little while; for, if we testify, the judge might hang her. Give you good-e'en."
Having delivered this bold but artful speech, he retired with James, and, the moment he got outside the door, whispered him, "Now run for't, or they will keep us to testify in their courts." They ran off like the wind, untethered their horses, and, springing into their saddles, rode rapidly off, keeping the side of the road at first, to dull their horses' hoofs. They rode all night, and with the earliest streak of dawn entered the fair town of Philadelphia.
McCarthy and his party, twelve in all, caught the mulatto and Christina in the very act of levanting with McCarthy's money. They made short work of them; bound Regulus to a tree, and flogged him within an inch of his life, with Christina tied to a chair close by, and the dead cat in her lap. Then they drummed the mulatto out of the district, and sent Christina to a farm in Massachusetts, to clean pots and pans in the kitchen for a twelvemonth and a day.
PHILIP, being commander, sent James to one inn, and went to another himself. He said that was most prudent to avoid discovery; but his real motive was different.
He had a very difficult game to play. His wit, however, proved equal to it. Remembering that his father was a lawyer, he inquired for an old lawyer, a gray-headed one: he stipulated severely for gray hairs. When he had found his gray-headed lawyer, and liked his countenance, he did not make two bites of a cherry, but told him all, and showed him the advertisement.
The lawyer easily got her eighty gold pieces on the security of her diamond cross, and gave her a room on his own premises, where she could dress herself in any costume she liked, without being reported.
Meantime, James Annesley was not idle. He saw a notice up that Admiral Vernon's ship was short of hands; and he went and engaged himself to serve on board her: he promised to bring a much smarter fellow next day, meaning his mate Philip.
"When they met in the evening, he told Philip this; and Philip was much vexed at first. "Oh! why will you do things without asking me?"
However, on reflection, she acquiesced, and, with true feminine tact, altered all her plans to meet this unexpected move. She told James she would go on board the ship, but in another capacity. She had friends and money, and would work for both. Only, for a day or two, he must not expect to see much of her.
The lawyer sent the horses to McCarthy, and advised him not to trouble any more about the servants, as they were under his care; and he might have to go into the poisoning business, if they were molested. Soon after this a young lady in her mask called on Admiral Vernon at his lodgings, and asked him if he would take her home in his ship.
"Zounds, madam, no!" said the admiral; "no petticoats aboard the king's ship."
"Alas, sir, say not so! do but cast your eye over this advertisement. Indeed 'tis no common case: 'tis a matter of life and death, my going in your ship." The admiral read the advertisement, and cried out, "What! Accused of murder? Gad-zooks! what fools these landsmen be! And are you indeed the gentlewoman they seek?"
"Ay, noble admiral. Deign to regard my foul eyebrows, that are all published to the world so barbarously in this advertisement;" and the sly puss removed her mask and burst on the sailor in all her sunlike beauty. At this blaze he began to falter a little. "'Tis pity to deny you; but why not go in the first ship of burden?"
"Sir, none sail this week; and they are too slow for my need; and, in truth, I'm afeard to be drowned if I go in any other ship but the one you do command. Oh, admiral! you are too brave to deny the weak and helpless in their trouble."
"Madam!" said the admiral, "you mistake the matter. 'Tis of you I think. I am a father; and a ship of war is not the place for young gentlewomen."
"But, sir, I am discreet, and know the world; and I can wear my mask, and keep close. Oh, noble sir! have pity on me, and let me sail in your good ship." Then, with her lovely eyes, she turned on what I, laboring to be satirical, call the waters of the Nile. Then the admiral rapped out the usual oaths of the sea and century, and said she had done his business: "a sailor was never yet proof against salt water from a woman's eye."
He then told her where his ship lay in the bay of Delaware, and his day and hour of sailing. She must come out in a boat; and he would charge an officer beforehand to see her safe aboard.
Philippa returned to her lawyer in high spirits, and sent him to James, with a note in her own hand, directing him to go on board the English flag-ship next day at six in the evening, and she would follow the day after, before the ship sailed. James did as he was bid. At noon next day; a boat brought a lady in her mask alongside; and James, who was looking out anxiously for Philip, saw her taken on board, with her boxes--for she had found time to shop furiously--and handed respectfully to her cabin; but James did not recognize her, nor dream this tall gentlewoman was little Philip.
At two P.M. the admiral was seen coming out; the yards were manned directly, and he mounted the quarter-deck, with due honors; and the next minute the pipe was going, and the men's feet tramping to the capstan, while others hoisted a sail or two; and the anchor was secured; and the ship bowed and glided, and burst into canvas; and the busy seamen all bustled and shouldered poor James out of the way, with salt curses, as he ran about the ship asking wildly for Philip, and describing him to coarse fellows who only jeered him.
One faint hope remained--Philip might be down below; but the next day dissipated this. Philip never showed his face; and this puzzled and grieved James Annesley so, that even the prospect of liberty and home could not reconcile him to the loss and seeming desertion of this tender and faithful friend.
The officer in charge of the new hands now called on James to do some very simple act of seamanship. He bungled it; and there was a good deal of hoarse derision, to which he replied at last, a little sadly, but with good temper, "Men are not born sailors; are they?"
An officer at the other side of the deck heard this reply, and was struck with the voice, or the face, or perhaps with all three, and called to him. He came respectfully, and removed his cap.
"Sure, I have seen that face before," said the officer.
James started, and said, "I have seen yours, sir, but where?"
Said the officer, "I'll tell you that. Is not your name James?"
"Indeed, sir, it is."
"Son of Lord Altham that was."
"Yes, sir; but how-- Oh! 'tis my kind schoolfellow."
"Ah, I am Mat Matthews, that set you on your way to Dublin. I took a good look at you that day; and I seldom forget a face I look at so. But what means this disguise, in Heaven's name? You have been reported dead in Ireland this many a year. Where have you been? Is this a frolic, good sir, or hath fortune used you crossly?"
"Sir," said James, "I'll tell you in a word, but a word full of misery. My Uncle Richard kidnapped me, and sent me to the plantations; there have I been a slave this many a long year, and even now escaped by a miracle."
"A slave! You, a lord's son, a slave! Kidnapped; and by Richard Annesley, say you? Why, 'tis he now holds your father's lands and titles. Perdition! Here is foul play! The knave! 'Twas to steal your lands and titles he spirited you away."
"Indeed, sir, I always did suspect it. Such villainy was never yet done for love of God."
"Sir," said Captain Matthews, "sit you down; and not another rope shall you handle in this ship." He ran, with his heart in his mouth, to the admiral; and his warm-hearted Irish eloquence, burning with his schoolfellow's wrongs, soon fired the honest sailor. They agreed that this was the real earl, and his uncle a felon, whom the sight of the true heir would blast. "And, now I think on't," said Matthews, "Arthur Lord Anglesey is dead and Richard Annesley has succeeded to his lands and titles too; so that there is one of the greatest noblemen in England and Ireland a sailor on board this ship--and a very bad one."
"That may not be," said the admiral. "Overhaul the wardrobe straight, and rig him like a lord, as he is, and make us acquainted." He added, with a touch of delicacy one would hardly have expected, "I'll not see him in his sailor's jacket, nor seem to know he hath been brought so low."
IT was a beautiful moonlight night; the great ocean was calm, and the light airs so gentle that snow-white studding sails were set aloft to catch them.
The Honorable James Annesley, in a suit of blue velvet laced with silver, gold-laced hat, and jewel-hilted sword, paced the deck, and admired the solemn scene, the incredible sheen of the rippling ocean kissed by moonbeams, the ship's gigantic shadow, that ran trembling alongside, and the waves, like molten diamonds, that sparkled to the horizon.
His tide had turned: finery on his back; a hundred gold pieces in his pocket, that Matthews, a man of large fortune, had insisted on lending him; a popular admiral conveying him home an honored guest!
Yet it seemed there was something wanting; for, after he had enjoyed the scene a while, he sat down upon a gun, and meditated; and his meditation was not gay, for soon he heaved a sigh.
Now, this sigh caught the quick ear of a young lady who had not long emerged upon deck. It was Joanna Philippa Chester, who never showed herself by day, but took the air at night, and even then had always her little mask in hand, ready to whip on. Joanna was farther still from complete happiness than James was. Her breast was torn with doubts and fears and shames, for which my reader, who has only seen her fitful audacity in boy's clothes, may not be quite prepared. She was now all tremors and misgivings, and paid the penalty of her disguise. Under that disguise she had fallen deep in love with James Annesley, yet inspired him with no tenderer feeling than friendship for a boy. That knowledge of the heart which an inexperienced but thoughtful woman sometimes attains by constantly thinking on its mysteries told her that between love and friendship there is a gulf, and that gulf sometimes impassable.
Philip might stand forever between James and Philippa.
And, besides this, for a girl to wear boy's clothes was indelicate: it was condemned by law; it was scouted by public opinion. James Annesley, even in his humble condition, had shown a great sense of propriety; and she felt, with a cold chill running down her back, that he was not the man to overlook indelicacy in her sex, much less make an Amazon his wife; and now, as she had learned with her sharp ears, the story he had told her was confirmed, and he was the real Earl of Anglesey, and all the less likely to honor a tomboy with his hand. For three whole days she had longed and pined to speak to him; yet fear and modesty had held her back. She could not bear to be Philip any more; yet she dreaded to be Philippa, lest she should lose even Philip's place in his regard.
Even now, the moment she saw him seated, with the moon glittering on his silver lace and his jeweled sword, and his dear, shapely head lowered in pensive thought, her first impulse was to recoil, slip down into her cabin again, and torture herself with misgivings, as she had been doing all the voyage.
But love would not let her go without a single look. She turned her eyes on him, that soon began to swim with tenderness as she looked at him. She stole a long drink of ineffable love, and the next moment she would have been gone; but he sighed deeply, and she heard it. Then the habit of consoling him, and her yearning heart, were too much for her. By a sudden impulse she whipped on her mask and stole toward him. She trembled, she blushed; but all the woman was now in arms to defend that love which was her life.
He heard her coming, looked up, and saw a tall young lady close upon him, dressed in the fashion, with a little silk hood, and a mask that hid all but her mouth. He rose, removed his hat, and bowed ceremoniously. She courtesied in the same style.
"Forgive me, sir," said she, "I fear I interrupt your meditations."
"Most agreeably, madam."
"Methought I heard you sigh, sir."
"I dare say I did, madam."
"I was surprised, sir; for I hear you are a gentleman of quality, going home to high Fortune, after encountering her frowns. Sure, that should make her smiles the sweeter."
"Madam, it may be so; but my enemies are powerful. I may find it very hard to dispossess the wrongful owners."
"And 'twas for that you sighed?"
"Not at all, madam. I sighed for the loss of a dear friend."
"Now God forbid!"
"False, then, no doubt."
"I hope not. But I am sore perplexed; for he never failed me before."
"He? What, 'twas only a man, then, after all?"
"'Twas a boy, for that matter. But what a boy! You never saw his fellow, madam. His head was all wit, his heart all tenderness, his face all sunshine. He brightened my adversity; and now, when fortune seems to shine, he has deserted me. Oh, Philip, Philip!"
"Philip! was that his name?"
"Is he a very dark boy?"
"Yes, madam, yes."
"About my height?"
"Oh, no, madam; not by half a head."
Philippa smiled at that and said, "Then, sir, you shall sigh no more on his account; for I happen to know that same Philip is here in this very ship."
"Is it possible? God bless you for that good news, madam. Oh, madam! pray bring him to me; for my heart yearns for him. Why, why, has he hidden himself from me?"
"Nay, sir, you must have patience. The boy is not so much to blame. He is in trouble, and dare not show his face on deck. I wonder whether I may tell you the truth?"
"Yes, madam, for Heaven's sake!"
"Well, then, the truth is--ahem--he is here disguised as a woman."
"You amaze me, madam."
"And, if you were to accost him as Philip, 'twould be overheard, and might be his ruin. If you can be so much his friend as to fall into this disguise, and treat him with distant civility while he is on board the ship, I'll answer for him he will come to you--not to-night, but to-morrow night at this time."
James Annesley eagerly subscribed to these terms.
Next evening he paced the deck impatiently; and, in due course, a young gentlewoman came toward him, with Philip's very face, but blushing and beaming.
James ran to meet her; devoured her face; and then cried, "It is, it is!--oh, my sweet Philip!"
The young lady drew back instantly in alarm, and said, "Is this what you promised? Call me Philip again, or offer the slightest freedom, and you shall never see me again. My name is Philippa."
"So be it, thou capricious toad. I am too overjoyed at sight of thee to thwart thy humors. Thou wert never like any other he that breathes."
"I shall be more unlike them than ever now," said she. "Methinks my disposition is changed since I put off my boy's attire; and, the worst of it is, all my courage hath oozed away."
"It had always a trick of coming and going, Philip."
"Philippa, or I leave the ship."
"Well, Philippa, then,"
"What sort of a gentlewoman do I make?"
"Nay, if I knew not the trick, I should take you for the most beautiful woman I ever saw."
Philippa blushed with pleasure. "And you look beautiful too," said she. "Fine feathers make fine birds."
He then scolded her gently, and asked her why she had deserted him.
"Well, I'll tell you the truth," said she, and delivered him a whole string of fibs.
She met him next evening, and the next, and so mystified him by her beauty and her bashfulness, that he questioned Matthews and the admiral about the young lady; but Matthews knew nothing, and the admiral pretended to know nothing, she having sworn him to secrecy. "
Philippa was offended at his curiosity, and sent him word he had done very ill to ask other persons about her: she should not come on deck for ever so long.
She kept her word, though it cost her dear. Even when they touched at Jamaica, and everybody else landed, she kept her cabin. But, when they left Jamaica, she took another line. She came openly on deck now and then in the daytime, and removed her mask.
The effect may be divined. The officers of the ship treated her like a queen, and courted her with all possible attentions: these she received with singular modesty, politeness, and prudence; and, her heart being sincerely devoted to one, her head was not to be turned.
James Annesley looked on with wonder and a dash of satire to see men all but kneeling to a boy. But he soon got jealous, and the other men opened his eyes, and he began to ponder over many things. The truth flashed on him, and Philippa saw it in his face. Then she coquetted with her happiness; and, when he begged a private interview, she put him off.
But, when they passed Lizard Point, she came to her senses, and gave him his opportunity.
He was much agitated: she was more so, but hid it better. "Tell me the truth," he cried. "You were always Philippa, and I a blind fool." She hid her red face in her hands.
"Philippa," he cried, "you have killed the friend of my bosom. Will you give me nothing in exchange for him?"
"Alas, James!" she cried, "what can I give you that you will love as you did him? I hate that boy."
"Nay, do not hate him; but for him I had never know the greatest, truest, tenderest heart that ever beat in woman. Oh, Philippa! you saved me from despair, you saved me from servitude. I never could love another, now you are a woman. Be my bosom friend still, but by a dearer title; be my sweetheart, my darling, my wife."
"Ay, that or the grave," she cried; and the next moment he held her curling round his neck, and cooling her hot cheeks with tears of joy.
They landed at Portsmouth, took a kind leave of the admiral, to whom they owed so much, and, accompanied by Capt. Matthews, dashed up to Staines with post-horses, four at every relay.. When they came near to the town she bade the driver post to the prison. She demanded to see Jonas Hanway. He was called into the yard, and, at sight of her, gave a scream of joy, and they had a cry together, and forgave each other. She feed the jailer to send to the proper authorities, and take the necessary steps for his liberation. Then she went on to Thomas Chester, who lived outside the town by the riverside; but Matthews left them in the town, and went on to London, on his way to Ireland. He had inherited large estates, and was about to leave the king's service.
Thomas Chester, though a man not easily moved, gave a loud shout when his niece ran to him. He folded her in his arms, and thanked God aloud, in a broken voice, again and again.
When they were a little calmer, he said to his man, "Send abroad, and let them ring all the church bells for three miles about. I'll find the ale. And thou, Thomas, bring in our young lady's things. She is mistress of the house."
Then they went out, and found two boxes, and one James Annesley seated peaceable. "And who is this?" said the old man, staring not a little.
"'Tis only my--my James," said she, as if every young gentlewoman had a James; but the next moment her cheeks were dyed with blushes. "Dear uncle, he has been my friend and companion in servitude; and some do say he is the--"
"Whoever he is, he hath brought me thee, my sweet, long-lost niece, and must lie at my house this happy night." So he received James cordially, and put off all inquiries till the morrow. The next morning James told him, of his own accord, he loved Philippa, and was so happy as to have won her affections. He also spoke of his wrong, and said he was Lord Altham's son, and dispossessed by the uncle who had kidnapped him; and he should go into Ireland at once, and hoped to punish his uncle, and make Philippa Lady Anglesey. He proved himself in earnest by starting for Ireland this very day. The parting with Philippa was very tender and left her almost inconsolable, being their first real separation since they knew each other.
So the wise old lawyer let her have her cry out. Next day he told her what the young man had said.
"Alas!" said she, "he's gone on a wild-goose errand, I fear; and, as for me, I would not give one straw to be Lady Anglesey: to be Mrs. James is heaven enough for me. And, oh! if any ill befall him in that savage Ireland, I shall always think 'twas because I was not by him, as heretofore; and you will have but one more trouble with me--to bury me."
"Niece," said the old man, "craving your pardon, you are pretty far gone."
"Never was a woman farther," said she frankly. "I am fair sick with love. My James carries my heart and my life in his bosom, go where he will." And she leaned her head prettily on his shoulder.
"Hum!" said the lawyer, and dropped that subject, not possessing even its vocabulary.
He waited a reasonable time, and then cross-examined her. "My young mistress," said he, "have you told your sweetheart you have thirteen thousand pounds? and, now I think on't 'tis nearer fourteen thousand, by reason of your folly in going and getting your own living, instead of spending on't."
"Have I told James? No; not yet. I found out my father's will by that advertisement; and, since he wished it kept secret, I have held that wish sacred."
Mr. Chester told her she had done well. Lord Anglesey had been long in possession; and it was not likely he would be ousted, without a fearful litigation, in which her little fortune might easily be swamped. "No, Philippa," said he, "still go by your father's will and by my lights, and let us not risk one shilling of your fortune. Your husband can never be a pauper while that remains in your hands." She caught that idea in a moment, and gave her solemn promise.
The first letter from Ireland served to confirm her uncle's wisdom. James wrote to say that he had been to a dozen attorneys; and they all refused to take up his cause against a nobleman so powerful as Lord Anglesey, and who had been years in possession, without a voice raised against his title.
However, a day or two after writing this, James Annesley fell in with a long-headed attorney called McKercher, who listened to his story more thoughtfully than the others, and went so far as to ask him for a list of the people he thought could bear out his statements. Having got this, Mr. McKercher found Farrell and Purcell, and, by means of them, one or two more not known to James Annesley; and they established the kidnapping.
Then McKercher began to think more seriously of the case. He called on Mr. Annesley at his lodgings, and found him and Matthews taking a friendly glass and talking the matter over. McKercher made three, and said, over the said glass, that the kidnapping was certainly a fine point; but it would be worthless without direct evidence to Mr. Annesley's parentage: and money would be required to ransack the county of Meath for evidence, and for other purposes; for money would certainly be used against them freely.
The warm-hearted Matthews offered a thousand pounds directly to begin: thereupon McKercher's eyes glittered, and he hesitated no longer. All three went out to Mr. Matthews's house that day in ringsend cars; and next day rode on his own horses to ransack Meath and Wexford for evidence.
They found some little evidence, and McKercher secured it; but there were two enemies in the field before them. Death was one, Lord Anglesey the other. This nobleman had got a fortnight's start in rather a curious way. Admiral Vernon anchored off Jamaica a few days. It got wind that he was bringing home the real Lord Anglesey. The Daily Post announced it, and the Gentleman's Magazine copied, as indeed may be seen in the Gentleman's Magazine for February, 1841.
Death, the other antagonist, had been, unusually busy since James Annesley crossed over the bar of Dublin. Lady Altham, dead: Mrs. Avice, to whom she had spoken of her son, dead: the chaplain who he believed had christened him, dead: his sponsors, male and female, dead.
But McKercher was not to be baffled. He hunted up the old servants of Dunmaine House; and, from one to another, he began to create that pile of testimony which even now stands on record to prove this obscure man the Napoleon of all attorneys, living or dead. He and James and Matthews rode hundreds of miles after evidence; till one night Annesley was fired at from the edge of a wood; and two slugs whistled close by his head.
They all spurred away in great alarm. When they got to the town they were going to, tactful McKercher set to work that moment, and printed bills, describing the attempt, offering a thousand pounds' reward, and, by subtle insinuation, accused Lord Anglesey of the crime. He got up what we now call a demonstration; showed his handsome client to the public on a veranda stuck over with bills thus worded:
"THIS IS THE HEIR. COME, LET US KILL HIM; THAT THE INHERITANCE MAY BE OURS."
For all that, he sent Annesley back to England directly. "It is too pretty a suit to be abated by a bullet," said keen McKercher.
James Annesley returned to Staines, and found the roses leaving Philippa's cheek. Ere he had been back a week, they bloomed again.
McKercher circulated his bills in Dublin, with a guarded account of the attempted assassination, just keeping clear of an indictment for libel. One of the bills was sent over to Lord Anglesey by a friend.
That nobleman, at this period, began to lose heart. His estates were large, but encumbered. He had been for years amusing himself with trigamy; and trigamy had entailed its expenses. All the ladies had to be dressed as if there was but one Lady Anglesey; and you may see by Miss Gregory's bill that those noble brocades, though cheaper in the end than the trash we call silk, were dear at first. Then the three ladies had children; and one of the three was so ill bred as to indict my lord, and had to be bought off.
Then he had Charles Annesley and Frank Annesley on his back. Francis Annesley, an English barrister, claimed a large portion of the estates, and filed his bill in England. Charles Annesley had a large claim under Earl James's will, which claim Richard Lord Anglesey had lately compromised for a third, and then, with his usual perfidy, evaded the compromise, whereon Charles obtained a decree with costs and a sequestration, under the terms of which Charles now received all the Irish rents and paid himself his share. The earl, therefore, was in the power of Charles Annesley for his very subsistence.
On the top of all this came James Annesley, armed with McKercher, and hard cash, of which his lordship, like many other Irish proprietors, had mighty little, compared with the value of his estates.
Thus attacked on all sides, and influenced, probably, by some reasons not easy to penetrate so long after the event, he began to falter; and being at his house in Bolton Row, which house the writer of these lines (be it said in passing) occupied for some years, a century later, he sent for his London solicitor, Giffard, and directed him to try and effect a compromise with Jemmy, as he called him.
Giffard was too cautious to commit his client to writing in a matter so dangerous; but he intimated to McKercher that he had something important to say if McKercher would come to London. McKercher wrote back very courteously to say he was very busy collecting evidence, but would wait on Mr. Giffard in a fortnight. In anticipation of this conference, Lord Anglesey told Giffard on what terms he would resign his estates and live in France. He even went so far as to engage a French tutor.
Meantime James Annesley was a guest of Mr. Thomas Chester, and a favored suitor for his niece's hand. The old lawyer liked James, and, at this time, hardly doubted he was the real heir to the late Lord Altham; and he intimated plainly, that if Mr. Annesley would allow Philippa's dower, whatever it might be, to be settled on herself, they might marry as soon as they chose, for him.
Young Annesley smiled at this stipulation. "I hope to settle half the counties of Wexford and Meath on her, besides," said he. So one Sunday morning that the lovers were seated in a pew, with their heads over one prayer-book, her dear old tutor delivered certain ephemeral words that seemed to this happy pair to have a strange vitality, compared with the immortal part of the liturgy. Said he in a sonorous yet kindly voice, "I publish--the banns--of marriage--between the Honorable James Annesley, bachelor, of the parish of Dunmaine in Ireland, and Mistress Joanna Philippa Chester, spinster, of this parish. This is the first time of asking. If any of you know cause or just impediment why these two persons should not be joined together in holy wedlock, ye are now to declare it."
While these words were delivered, Philippa's face was a picture: her eyes lowered, her cheeks mantling with a gentle blush. The words rang strangely in those lovers' ears.
How tight custom holds civilized men and women, and flies them but with a string! Both had led adventurous lives, had been slaves in a distant colony; and this demure lass, with long black lashes lowered, had played a fine caper in boy's clothes. Yet there they must sit at last, over one prayer-book, in Staines Church, and hear their banns cried in one breath with two more couple that had never budged out of Middlesex.
Let the reader now contemplate this pretty picture, and James Annesley's prospects--a rose-colored panorama. In Ireland, his interest pushed by that rarest of all friends, an able and zealous attorney; in London, his arch enemy losing heart, and preparing to accept an income and retire from the disputed estates to Paris; in Staines, his hand in his sweet Philippa's; and holy wedlock, the sacred union of two pure and well-tried hearts, awaiting him in one little fortnight; even that fortnight to be spent in sight of paradise, and the gate ajar.
Even writers are human. And I feel myself linger here; for it grieves even hardened me to have to plunge again into the misfortunes of the good: but now are my wings of fancy clipped. Hard fact holds me with remorseless grasp; and I am constrained to show how all this bright picture was shivered in a day, and by the man's own hand.
MR. THOMAS CHESTER had retired from the law with a comfortable fortune. He was now a bit of a sportsman: rented of Sir John Dolben the right of fishing the Thames for some distance and of shooting over a part of the manor; and paid half Sir John's gamekeeper. He was a man that respected the rights of others, and stickled for his own. He did not mind a stray cockney fishing his perch, roach, and gudgeons with the hook, for that was fair sport; but he was bitter against all who poached on his water with nets: for he said, "They rob not me only of my fish, but my fish of their lives: 'tis not sport, 'tis larceny."
Annesley had often heard him say this. One day Annesley came out with his gun to Redding, the gamekeeper; and they were about to go out together shooting waterfowl. This was the only sport to be had; for it was the first of May.
As they were about to start, Redding cast his eyes round and saw one Thomas Eaglestone and his son casting a net from Sylvester's meadow. "There is that old rogue again!" said he. "Let us have his net." He set off to run; and Annesley ran after him to help. Redding came up first, and collared Eaglestone; but he, to save his net, threw it half into the river: then young Eaglestone seized the cord, cut it, and jumped into the river. Annesley snatched at the net, and his gun went off. Old Eaglestone cried--"Villain, you have slain me!" and fell scorched and bleeding, on the ground, and never spoke more. The boy swam away to the other bank; and the smoke of the gun drifting away revealed the man lying in the agonies of death, and Annesley and Redding so stupefied and appalled, that they did not move hand or foot, but gazed with terror at each other and at their bloody work.
They had but just realized that the man was shot, and in the agonies of death, when young Eaglestone was heard to cry across the water, "My father! They have murdered him."
Then Redding seized Annesley by the arm. "Heard you that? They will hang us," and set off instantly to run; which cowardly and imprudent course Annesley, who was quite unnerved, unhappily imitated, scarcely knowing what he did. They got to Redding's house; and Redding laid his hand on all the money he could, and fled the country. But Annesley would go no farther. He said, "I have slain an innocent man; and let me die for it." He sat a little while, with his head and his hands all of a heap, and then fell on the floor in a fainting fit. There were three women in the house. They raised him; and just then the constables were seen coming with young Eaglestone. What did these wise women do, but drag him upstairs, and hide him in a sort of partition between two floors; and there the constables, who had sure information he was in the house, found him without any trouble. This hiding told heavily against him both then and afterward. In such terrible cases courage is the better part of discretion.
They found him in a state so deplorable that they set him in a chair in the yard, and sprinkled his face with water; and he was some time before he could command his limbs and walk with them to the justice.
A number of people followed the officers; and, when they came upon the bridge, James stopped, and said, "Have I no friends here?" Then there was a cry of "Ay!" for indeed he was already respected in that part. "Then," said he, "I do implore you throw me over the bridge, and end me; for I have slain an innocent man and shall never more know peace."
The justice sent them to Sir Thomas Reynell; and he heard the evidence, and committed him.
They had five miles to go, and all drank together on the road; and things were said over the liquor that afterward affected the case.
As for James Annesley, he fell now into a dull resignation; and his regret was greater than his fear, except for Philippa. He gave one William Duffell a crown piece to go to Philippa, and beg her not to believe one word she should hear except from his own lips. "Speak comfortably to her, good William, or this will kill her too." And then, for the first time, he began to cry and bemoan himself.
Duffell sped on his errand; but others had been before him. Remorseless Rumor came open-mouthed to Mr. Chester's house, and told Philippa James Annesley had murdered a man.
She was white as a sheet in a moment, and trembled; but her faith supported her. "'Tis false!" said she. But tongue followed tongue; and, as the vulgar always exaggerate and add, a crop of lies was ingrafted into the little bit of truth; and threats and oaths were said to have preceded the firing of the gun. Even Philippa's faith was giving way under repeated attacks, when Duffell came in with that comfortable message.
She cried out, as if he could hear her, "Believe thee a willful murderer? That I never will! Unfortunate thou always wast, but guilty never." Then she said she would go to him on the instant. "Where is he?"
"IN THE CAGE AT HOUNSLOW."
She was with him in less than an hour; and, with the two pale faces close together, he told her how it had happened. She believed him; she consoled him; she treated it as a simple misfortune, for which he must grieve, but could never be punished; and she left him greatly encouraged. But her words were bolder than her heart; and, when she reached home, the great restraint she had put upon herself for love of him gave way. Her body overpowered her great spirit; and she had faintings one after another that laid her low. Though prostrated herself, this noble girl dictated words of comfort to her unfortunate lover every day; and Thomas Chester carried them. Mr. Chester exerted himself to bail James Annesley, and appeared likely to succeed, when suddenly one Giffard, a London solicitor, appeared for young Eaglestone and objected with such ability and weight that Sir Thomas Reynell said he must consider the matter and take advice. Then Mr. Chester saw that Annesley was to be prosecuted vindictively; and he conceived some grave suspicions, and began sadly to fear the final result of this unhappy business.
"What I have now to relate will show the reader his suspicions we're well founded.
IT was eleven o'clock on the 2d of May. The Earl of Anglesey lay in state receiving visits in bed. On the sheets beside him lay his peruke superbly powdered and adorned with a Ramilies tie. A servant held a small glass before him; and while he talked to his visitors, he tinged his cheeks with carmine, and put on his patches, as openly as if these things were essential parts of a toilet.
His conversation was mighty vapid, affected, and lisping, until his courier, Lawler, knocked loudly at the door, and said, "I must speak with my lord on the instant."
"Ask him where he comes from," said my lord, laying aside his affectation.
The man burst into the room, and answered, "From Staines, where you left me to watch James Annesley; and, my lord, I bring strange news."
"Fling a bottle of scent over him, and leave us in private," said Lord Anglesey.
This was done; and Lawler told him James Annesley had killed a man at Staines, and was now in the cage at Hounslow.
"What fool's tale is this? I can't be so fortunate."
"Nay, my lord, 'tis the truth: but some say 'twas accident; others say 'twas done of malice."
Lord Anglesey's eyes glittered fiendishly. "So say I; and I will prove it, if money can do't."
He gave the man a gold piece, and dismissed him; dressed himself in half an hour instead of two hours, as usual, and went at once to his attorney, Giffard; told him the good news, and that all thought of a compromise was at an end. "Go down to Staines on the instant," said he, "and tell me can we hang that knave."
Giffard went down, and saw young Eaglestone and others, and reported that John Eaglestone could hang or transport James Annesley. "Then," said Lord Anglesey, "you must be his lawyer; and I will find the money, if I pawn my diamond ring."
Giffard did not much like the business; but he undertook it, sooner than lose his noble client. He advised Lord Anglesey on no account to appear in the business, or he would prejudice the prosecution; and he himself saw young Eaglestone, and easily molded him to Lord Anglesey's purpose by rousing his cupidity and also his desire of vengeance for his father's slaughter.
Thus the crown was used as an instrument of private vengeance. Yet who could object? Only the son and his attorney were seen. The ruthless man who bribed the witnesses and spurred the law was in the dark.
But they were not to have it all their own way. James had written, post-haste, to McKercher. He handed over the other business to his clerk, Pat Higgins, and came at once to Hounslow; saw the prisoner; found Giffard was in it, whom he knew to be Lord Anglesey's attorney; saw Anglesey behind Giffard: and his very first move in the case was one that had never occurred to Thomas Chester, nor to any other friend of Annesley's; though many were coming about him now. He put Lord Anglesey under a system of espionage as complete and subtle as ever Fouché brought to bear on a man; and he told nobody but Philippa, and bound her to secrecy. This done, he proceeded to the legitimate defense, and left no stone unturned. But he could never get at the most dangerous witness, young Eaglestone. Giffard kept him too close.
He encountered Giffard once or twice, and always treated him with profound respect; separated him entirely from his client, and charmed him with his good temper and urbanity. "Ah, sir," said he, "if you knew Mr. Annesley, his goodness and his misfortunes, you would regret the severity you are compelled to show him."
"I regret it now," said Giffard.
Just before the trial, Philippa, who was all zeal and intelligence, secured a piece of evidence to prove that the boy Eaglestone had not been so confident the gun was fired purposely, until Giffard came on the scene. But, with all her efforts, that was all she could do for her lover now. How different from former times when she was a boy!
She spoke of her helplessness to McKercher, with tears in her eyes, and told him it had not been always so.
"Helpless, madam!" said McKercher: "by the hoky, beauty is never helpless. You have found him a witness that I'd never have heerd of maybe; and ye can do him a good turn at the trile, if you have the courage to come."
"The courage to come!" cried she. "I have the courage to die for him, or die with him. Of course, I will be there, with my hand in his all the time, to show them there's one who knows he is not a murderer."
"Ah! if they'd only let us," said McKercher, with a sigh. "But I'll have you on the bench, ony way; an' I'll find some way to let the jury know they'll have to strike at his head through your heart, alanna." And the warm-hearted sharper was very near crying.
The dreadful day of the trial came at last. Philippa was seated on the right hand of the judge's seat, but on a lower bench. She was dressed, by McKercher's advice, in black silk, with a small head-dress of white lace, and no ornament but a diamond cross on her bosom. There she sat in a frame of mind beyond the pen to paint. This was her first court of law, her first trial. The solemnity, the ancient usages, and all the panoply of justice, struck upon her young mind in one blow with the danger of him whose young life was bound up in hers; and for this reason I shall briefly describe this trial from her point of view; and the reader who has imagination will do well to co-operate with me by putting himself in her place, as well as in the place of the accused.
First there was the usual hardened buzz of lawyers, to whom this terrible scene was but an every-day business. Philippa heard with wonder and horror. What! could men chatter when a life, and such a life, was at stake?
Then came in the judge, in ermine and scarlet; and all stood up. Philippa eyed him as a divinity, on whom her darling's life depended.
Then the prisoners were brought to the bar; Redding having surrendered. Philippa uttered a faint cry, instantly suppressed; and her eye and her lover's met in a gaze that was beyond words.
But here the proceedings were disturbed for a moment by the entrance of a gorgeous gentleman, in scarlet and gold, powdered peruke, and Ramilies tie, who stalked in, and seated himself by the judge. This was Lord Anglesey, come to gloat over the criminal, and keep the witnesses for the prosecution up to the mark. He stared on the public as on so many dogs, and on James Annesley with a bitter sneer. James was all in black velvet, with weepers, as one who mourned the death he had caused.
Silence having been obtained, the prisoners were arraigned, and the indictment charged against James Annesley, laborer--that he, not having God before his eyes, but moved by the instigation of the Devil, on the 1st of May, with force and arms in and upon one Thomas Eaglestone, feloniously, willfully, and of malice aforethought, did make an assault; and that he, the said James Annesley, with a certain gun of the value of 5s., being charged with powder and leaden shot, did discharge and shoot out of the said gun, by force of the gunpowder as aforesaid; and him the said Thomas Eaglestone, in and upon the left side of the breast of the said Thomas, did strike and penetrate, giving to him, the said Thomas, on the said side of his said breast, one mortal wound, of the breadth of one inch, and of the depth of four inches, whereof the aforesaid Thomas then and there instantly died.
The indictment then repeated the nature of the act, describing it, in the usual terms, as willful murder, and against the peace of our lord the king, his crown and dignity.
The virulent terms of the indictment, being new to poor Philippa, made her blood run cold; for it seemed to her that the crown thirsted for his blood, and would not stick at any exaggeration to hang him.
The clerk of arraigns now put the usual question, in a loud voice: "How say you, James Annesley--are you guilty of this felony, or not guilty?" James Annesley, thus called upon before judge, jury, enemy, and sweetheart, showed unexpected qualities. Though a man of unsteady nerves when hurried, he lacked neither dignity nor courage, give him time; and what little bile he had in his nature was stirred by the sight of the man who had kidnapped him as a child, now hunting him down as a man. Instead of simply pleading not guilty, he objected to the terms of the indictment. "I observe, my lord," said he to the judge respectfully, but firmly, "that I am indicted as a laborer. This is malicious, and comes from those who are my personal enemies for the very reason that I claim to be Earl of Anglesey, and a peer of this realm. However, with this protest, I plead not guilty to this indictment, and will be tried by God and my country. But in respect of my quality, and to wipe out that impertinence in the indictment, I ask your lordship of your courtesy to let me be tried within the bar."
"Certainly, Mr. Annesley," said my lord.
But he thought to himself, "I shall have to hang you all the same."
Then both prisoners were allowed to sit within the bar.
Then the jury were sworn; and Sergeant Gupper opened the case in the close, dry way of a counsel who feels that the facts can be trusted to do the work. He stated that the Eaglestones were fishing in a meadow that belonged to one Sylvester; and that Annesley and Redding came on to the ground, and first threatened Thomas with foul language, and then shot him, and, even after that, threatened John; but he escaped across the river, and brought the constables after the prisoners, who, well knowing their guilt, had fled. But Annesley was found hidden in Redding's house, and dragged forth, and afterward offered the boy money not to come against him; but he said, "I will not sell my father's blood."
When this neat outline was delivered with perfect sobriety, everybody looked at the prisoners, and Annesley in particular, as dead men. But he maintained a calm though sad demeanor, and did not blench.
The counsel for the crown called John Eaglestone first. He swore to the preliminary matter, which was, indeed, undisputed, and declared, that, while Redding was collaring his father, Annesley threatened the old man's life, with a ruffian-like oath, if he did not give up his net; and then, not waiting for the old man's answer, shouldered his gun and shot him dead; and afterward threatened him with the butt-end of his piece: but he escaped by swimming, and ran instantly for the constables. He swore also to the hiding of Annesley, and his subsequent attempt at bribery.
Philippa at this stage felt all the bitterness of death, and could scarcely sit upright.
In cross-examination, John Eaglestone was asked whether he had not given a different account to three persons--Duffin and Dalton and Thomas Chester. He looked staggered a moment, but boldly swore he had not.
McKercher then showed his teeth. Counsel, carefully instructed by him, drew from the witness that he was now living with one Williams, whom he had not known before this trial; was called his servant, but dined at his table.
Counsel. "Of course you have seen my Lord Anglesey at Williams's?"
The Court here interrupted, and said the question was improper.
Counsel. "I bow to your lordship. But no nobleman who is worthy of the ' name need fear the truth."
A juryman, however, asked this boy a very pertinent question--whether there was no jostling or struggling for the net between Annesley and him. He said, "No."
Many other witnesses were called for the crown; but they were all at some distance, and only proved the killing. Fisher, indeed, one of these witnesses, said that he saw Annesley snatch at the net; and then the gun went off.
This rather contradicted Eaglestone, and gratified the juryman aforesaid.
This Fisher, though a witness for the crown, admitted under cross-examination that, within two hours of the event, young Eaglestone had told him he believed the act was not done designedly.
Counsel for the crown then commented on the evidence, dwelt upon the sanguinary threats that had been proved, and not disproved on cross-examination, and demanded a verdict.
This closed the case for the crown.
The Court then called on James Annesley in these terms: "Mr. Annesley, you are indicted in a very unhappy case. What have you to say?"
James Annesley then surprised his friends again. He rose like a tower, and spoke as follows: "My lord, I am quite unable to make a proper defense, having been kidnapped when a child by him who now seeks my life under the disguise of a public prosecutor; and so I lost the education I was entitled to by my birth."
He paused long on these words, and turned his eyes so full on Lord Anglesey that every soul in court turned too, and looked at him. A shiver ran through the Court. It was indeed a remarkable combination, a remarkable situation. In fact, considering that the defendant here was to be the plaintiff in a great civil suit, if he could save his neck, and that the nobleman who sat by the judge in England to see him hanged was to be defendant in that suit, should this indictment fail, the situation was, perhaps, without a parallel in all time.
James Annesley resumed, "My lord, you have heard a true and deplorable accident falsely and maliciously described in this court, with a view to stopping lawful proceedings in the Court of Exchequer in Ireland. The simple truth is, that neither I nor my most innocent fellow-prisoner were trespassers. He is gamer keeper to the lord of the manor. It was his duty to seize a poacher's net; and I ran with him to help him. The deceased threw the net half into the river. The boy jumped in to swim across with it. I stepped to seize one of the ropes that trailed on the ground; and the gun went off, to my great surprise and grief, and killed a poor man, whose name I did not then know; and he never wronged me; and I had no malice against him, nor ground of malice.
"My lord, and gentlemen, mine has been a life of strange misfortunes; but believe me, whatever your verdict may be, it must always be my greatest grief that I have caused the death of an innocent man."
These words, delivered with great decency and touching resignation, drew tears from many eyes besides Philippa's; and even the judge bowed his head slightly in sober but profound approval of the prisoner's concluding sentence.
Redding, called on for his defense, said that he had seized the net in discharge of his duty; that, when the man fell, Mr. Annesley did not know he had shot him, and would not believe him till he turned up the flap of the man's coat and found the wound; and then Mr. Annesley showed such grief and concern, that he felt sure it was as pure an accident as ever happened in this world.
The judge then retired for some refreshment, and there was a buzz of conversation; and, by the time the judge returned, everybody in court understood the relation of the parties--the lovers both in black; and that shameless peer, who would hang the young man in England to stop his lawsuit in Ireland; and the judge sitting in his place between the defendant's true lover and his enemy.
They proved, by documents and evidence, that Sir J. Dolben was lord of the manor, and Redding his gamekeeper, with full powers to seize nets, etc.; then by Dalton, who was Philippa's witness, that, on the day of the killing, young Eaglestone had said distinctly he believed it was done undesignedly; then, by two more respectable witnesses, that he had said the same thing next day.
Then they traced this change of mind to Giffard.
Then they went on, and connected Giffard with Anglesey.
Then they went further and proved that Anglesey was constantly with Williams, and that Williams was keeping young Eaglestone like a gentleman.
Thereupon Anglesey turned pale as ashes and fidgeted on his seat; and Philippa, looking like a woman at the jurymen's faces, turned red, and her eyes flashed, for she saw them cast looks of disgust and contempt at him.
Then they brought two medical men of high character, who had probed Eaglestone's wound, and declared the shot had gone not downward but upward, and, indeed, at a considerable angle, and that the blisters at the back of the body, caused by the shot, were several inches higher than the wound. This double proof was irresistible. It agreed with Annesley's account and Fisher's; and it destroyed Eaglestone's testimony that the gun had been shouldered.
This closed the defendant's case.
The judge summed up briefly. He said that the sting of the indictment lay in John Eaglestone's evidence. The other witnesses for the crown had proved nothing but the killing, which was superfluous, since the prisoners admitted it. That, as to Eaglestone's evidence, it was highly damnatory, but unsupported by any other witness, and contradicted in one vital part of it by the two surgeons: in another respect, viz., as to whether the act was intentional, the same witness was contradicted by himself, and in the worst possible way; for, while the act was fresh in his memory, he had said repeatedly that it was accidental; and it was only when his mind had been worked upon by some person or persons not present at the act that he had come to say it was intentional. Against Redding there was not the shadow of a case. Against Annesley, the charge of murder had failed; but they must consider whether it was manslaughter, or chance-medley. If they thought the gun went off accidentally, it was chance-medley.
The jury, being invited to retire and consider their verdict, said, through their foreman, there was no need for that, as they had made up their minds long ago; and thereupon brought it in chance-medley, which was, in fact, a verdict of acquittal.
The Court then discharged the prisoners on the spot; and in five minutes Philippa and James were rattling down to Staines in a chaise and four, which McKercher, who knew he had made the verdict safe, had provided, and ribboned the horses. He followed in a chaise and pair, with Redding.
James and Philippa sat hand in hand all the way, with hearts almost too full for words; and the church-bells rang for his escape, as they had for hers.
Philippa flung her arms round McKercher that night, and kissed him and blessed him so that the good-hearted sharper shed a tear. He told her all the blood in his heart was at her service; and what he had done for James that day in England was child's play compared with what he would do for him in Ireland.
He was off to Ireland next day; but he left a sting behind him. Ere he had been gone a month, out came a volume, called "Memoirs of an Unfortunate Young Nobleman," in which, under the thin disguise of "Anglia" for "Anglesey," "Altamont" for "Altham," and so on, a full and interesting account was given of James Annesley's wrongs and Lord Anglesey's vices, including his trigamy, and other matters not relevant to James Annesley's concerns.
Lord Anglesey, at this time, was in a stupid sullen state. He had left the Court disappointed, rebuked, and exposed. He stormed at Giffard for his defeat, and quarreled with him, and would only pay half his costs. Whereupon Giffard sued him. Anglesey employed a solicitor. He subjected Giffard to interrogatories. McKercher heard of them, and subpoenaed Giffard for the Irish trial. Anglesey, though he swore he would run his sword through McKercher at the first opportunity, dared not indict his publisher for the "Memoirs," though libelous. He lay quiet even when the Gentleman's Magazine came out with the whole substance of the book, and made him a by-word throughout the nation.
Nevertheless, this stirred him up an unexpected friend. Charles Annesley wrote to him and said, "This is a very serious matter. We had better lay aside all differences and make common cause against this upstart, James Annesley." Lord Anglesey replied that he did not know which way to turn; he had drained himself already in trying to unmask that impostor in Ireland and hang him in England.
Charles Annesley replied that he would find ten thousand pounds that year, sooner than see the estates and title transferred to this upstart by perjury and lying romances.
Thus encouraged, Lord Anglesey drew largely on Charles Annesley, and went into Ireland, and employed agents of all sorts, and poured out money like water.
His presence and influence were soon marked by a sinister event. Pat Higgins, McKercher's clerk, returning to Dublin with valuable notes of evidence, disappeared, together with his papers. McKercher, whose own corrupt practices were bloodless, vowed he had been bought by Lord Anglesey's men and sent out of the country. But he was never heard of again; and it is the general opinion in Ireland now that he was made away with by persons in the employ of Anglesey.
McKercher now got leases signed by James Annesley, and put his lessees into possession of several farms in Meath. Anglesey ousted them by force; and Campbell Craig, one of the tenants so ousted, who was a tool of McKercher's, served a writ of ejectment on Lord Anglesey in the Irish Court of Exchequer. This brought the matter to an issue; and the cause was set down for trial. Though the actual property in litigation was small, all the Irish estates of Lord Anglesey depended on the verdict in Craig vs. Anglesey: of that the parties were agreed.
But meantime James Annesley had fallen into deep dejection of spirits. The malicious prosecution had done him good: it had stirred up his resistance; but, now a jury had acquitted him, he could not forgive himself for having killed a man.
McKercher comforted him, rallied him, but all in vain. He actually wanted to drop the proceedings against Lord Anglesey. "He will beat me," said he. "I shall never thrive. I have shed innocent blood."
McKercher was first sorry, then angry, then alarmed. He wrote seriously to Philippa about him, and she wrote back directly, "Send him to me."
In anticipation of his arrival, Philippa made Mr. Chester buy James a horse; and she had a riding-dress made so masculine that she could speak her mind more freely in it. She had also a country dress for walking made; and, when he came, she encountered his melancholy point blank with hilarity. "Your spirits want a Philip, sir," said she, "and I must give them one." She rode with him, she walked huge walks with him, she would not let him mope or pine. She was Philip one moment, all vivacity and cheerfulness; Philippa the next, all tenderness; and neither out of place. Her resolution, with her wit and her tenderness, attacked his despondency with so many weapons, and such minute pertinacity, that at last she drove the dark cloud away; and the man plucked up heart again to fight his enemies, and love his sweetheart as she deserved. And here I cannot help observing, that if this man's misfortunes were almost unparalleled, so his good fortune in finding so rare a woman as this to love him was almost as singular. I believe that, at this juncture, she saved him from the madhouse. Well, she had her reward; she saw the color creep back to the beloved cheek, the brilliancy to the dull eye; she saw the shapely head held up again, and at last she heard the beloved tongue bless her for what she had done.
And now I really think they would have been married, but for Thomas Chester. He had been for some time growing rather cold to young Annesley, but seeing him so downhearted, had not spoken his mind; but he now took an opportunity, and had it out with him. He said, "Mr. Annesley, if you had come to me as a poor gentleman, of no pretensions, I think I should have said to you, 'Show yourself willing to make a livelihood, and you shall have my niece, since matters have gone so far between you.' But you call yourself the son of Lord and Lady Altham, and others say you are not so, for my lady never had a son."
"I assure you, sir, on my honor--"
"And I assure you, on my honor, that you do not remember the circumstances of your birth any more than I do mine. Therefore, sir, by the kindness that is between us, I beg of you not to abuse your influence with my niece by urging her to marry you, unless you can make good your pretensions. I could show you it would be unwise to take any other course on account of the singular powers Mr. Hanway and myself possess under her father's will; but I prefer to appeal first to your honor and delicacy."
James Annesley replied with perfect dignity, "Mr. Chester, after the stain that has fallen on me, I have never asked my dear Philippa to marry me; but, since you offer her to me on condition that I can prove my birth before a jury of my countrymen, I take you at your word; and so be it. And, sir, I bear you no ill-will for this. You are an honest man, and Philippa's true friend; and to be her friend is to be mine."
"That is very handsomely said, young man," said Mr. Chester.
Annesley thought over this for an hour or two; and after dinner he burst out before Philippa, "Sir, you have roused me from my lethargy. I value Philippa's hand more than I do the lands and title I have been robbed of. I shall start for Ireland to-morrow."
"So soon?" said Philippa.
"Ay, sweet one," said he; "and, if I am not the true Earl of Anglesey, I will never trouble you again, nor your good uncle."
Philippa turned pale and knit her black brows at Mr. Chester. "Uncle," said she, "you have been saying something to him."
"No more than my own conscience says to me," replied Annesley before the old lawyer could speak a word.
James Annesley stood firm, and parted from Philippa tenderly, but hopefully, next day. Philippa was inconsolable and kept her room. When she did reappear, her uncle saw, with regret, that he had lost her affection.
She scarcely spoke to him, never volunteered a remark, and treated him with a bitter coldness that distressed him. However, he felt sure he had done his duty, and his niece would see that, too, some day. So he remained firm. But he was uncomfortable, to say the least. She went about the house pale and gloomy, knitting her magnificent brows, and never speaking nor smiling, except when she got a letter from James; and then it was as if the dead had come to life; ardent kisses on the paper, eager devouring of the contents, eyes streaming; and then away to some secret place to read it again all alone.
At last he made an appeal to her one day. He said, gently, "Philippa, let me ask thee a question. Dost thou really think Thomas Chester is thine enemy?"
The girl hesitated, and then said, "Why, n-n-no."
"Thou knowest he is not, but loved thy father dearly, and loveth thee. Then would it not become thine years to say, 'This is an old experienced man, who loves me. Let me not condemn him hastily, lest I fight against my own good."
The sullen eyes began to fill at that, but never a word.
However, he said no more; for he saw the shaft had gone home.
But two days after this came a letter, to say that the trial, after several postponements, was to be that day month, by special appointment; and that McKercher was hopeful, though not confident. The assassination, or spiriting away, of Higgins, with his notes, the fruit of two months' research, was very unfortunate.
The letter had been a week coming.
Philippa brought it to Mr. Chester, and coolly putting her arm round his neck, as if their attachment had never been interrupted, she said, "Uncle dear, please you read that."
So he smiled, well pleased at being "Uncle deared" again all of a sudden; and he read the letter. "Well," said he, "at all events it will end his suspense and yours."
"Uncle dear," said the young lady, "you asked me, Did I doubt your affection? Well, of course you cannot love as he doth; but I do think you love me a little in your way. But that I shall soon know; for I shall put it to the proof. Uncle dear, if you love me, go with me straightway to Dublin."
He started, and then said, "That is as if you should say, 'Sweet uncle--I know you love me--take me into the pit of destruction.' "
"Oh, fie, fie!"
"What else is litigation? If I take you to Dublin, you will be every day in court, as you were at the Old Bailey, sore against my wish: and here 'twill be ten times worse; for you will hear him taunted by counsel, and exposed by a score of witnesses, and defeated in the end."
The young lady smiled superbly. "Uncle," said she, "you are learned in the law, no doubt, but most unlearned in women's hearts. Each word you have spoken, it is a chain of steel, and draws me to Dublin by the heart. Had you but said, 'He will surely win, and can be happy without thee for a time,' I had yielded; but when you tell me he shall be defeated and shamed over there, then am I here on hot coals, and cannot bide. Know that I love him, as men, methinks, cannot love. I grudge him no triumph all to himself, no solitary joy. But trouble--and I not have my part! shame--and I not blush with him! Nay, but I tell you, not one sup of grief, sorrow, shame, or any mortal ill, shall ever reach his lips but I will have my share on't, by the God that made me--ay, made me for no other use that I know of, but to console my darling, that is the very pearl of goodness, and the butt of misfortune from his birth."
She clasped her hands with angelic fervor, and was gone, with the words.
The old lawyer looked after her admiringly, but sadly. "She is too good to last," thought he. "I fear she is like her father, and will ne'er make old bones." Then he fell into one of the long reveries a thoughtful old man is subject to, since the past offers a larger landscape to him than to the young.
He had been thus an hour or more, when in came a swift foot. He looked up, and there stood--Philip, in the very clothes he had last worn at Wilmington. He had put on with them his old audacity, with which, however, a hot blush was doing battle.
"Now, uncle," said he sharply, "how is it to be? Will you go to Dublin with Philippa, that is a poor timid creature, afraid of men and mice, and everything? or shall Philip go alone?--Philip, that fears naught, and feels like Alexander the Great at this moment. The Lord be praised for doublet and hose!"
Mr. Chester interrupted her. "Thou brazen toad, come hither, and let me look at thee. What, is this indeed the disguise thou didst prank thyself in out there?"
"Ay, uncle, and will again if you are unkind. Come now, old man. Time flies. How is't to be?"
Mr. Chester uttered a groan of resignation. "Needs must, when such as you drive," said he. "Go you upstairs this minute, and doff that masquerade. To-morrow we will set forth, and be in Dublin this day week, God willing."
PHILIPPA was welcomed with surprise and rapture by James Annesley. McKercher wore a blank look, that did not escape Philippa; but he recovered himself, and was rather violent in his expressions of satisfaction. Nevertheless, his original face of utter dismay imprinted itself on her memory, and puzzled her for some time. She told him she should be present at the trial. He assented, with a great show of warmth, and, having assented, began to raise one objection after another.
"It will be the longest trial ever known."
"No longer for me than for him."
"The court will be crowded to suffocation."
"What strangers can bear I can."
"'Twill be a bitter fight this time." She did not deign a reply. "'Tis pity you should hear him taunted by their counsel and their witnesses."
"I have borne to hear him charged with murder."
"There will be hard swearing: they have forty witnesses."
"When I know all that malice can say against him, then I shall be the better able to comfort him."
Her face, with its native power and indomitable resolution, lent double effect to her words. McKercher gave in, and said with a sort of admiring sigh, "Och, sure thin, go which way it will, he's a lucky man!"
She was too lofty to affect to misunderstand him. She said, simply, "It is the one piece of good fortune in his hard, his cruel lot;" and then a gentle tear stole down the lovely cheek, and McKercher was subdued entirely, and, keeping his misgivings to himself, made it his business to get her and Thomas Chester excellent seats at the trial. It was one of great expectation. When Philippa entered the court, a very large and commodious one, the floor was already crowded with the public; and, before she had been there ten minutes--for she went early--all the seats about the bench, and below the bench, were filled with Irish peers and peeresses, gorgeously dressed, and the gallery crowded with citizens and their wives.
Presently the claimant entered with his friends; not dressed in black, as at the last trial, but in a rich suit of purple velvet, and a gold sword-hilt. He wore an air of composure; but Philippa could see that he was flushed with excitement.
A sort of doubtful murmur ran round the court when he took his seat; but several of the ladies whispered in favor of his personal appearance, which, indeed, was captivating.
Lord Anglesey and his friends came in soon after; and he took his seat; but first he looked round the court and exchanged bows with all the most distinguished persons present.
His eyes and James Annesley's met; and James turned a little pale at the sight of this implacable foe. He remembered the day he was kidnapped. The earl, more self-possessed, stared at him with a sort of overlooking air, and after that ignored him utterly--the general feeling was in favor of Lord Anglesey. They were great worshipers of rank in Ireland, and his lordship's rank was established: the chances were, this claimant was an upstart.
Everything betokened an extraordinary battle--the prodigious number and various dresses of the witnesses on both sides, and the number of counsel engaged, thirteen for the claimant, led by Mr. Marshall, second sergeant, and fifteen for the defendant, led by prime Sergeant Malone, the ablest counselor of that day, either in Ireland or England.
And now the judges were announced.
Hooped dresses rustled as that brilliant assembly rose; and no less than three judges entered, in their scarlet and ermine, to sit on this important trial.
The jury was called. They were all gentlemen of good position. There was a baronet and a right honorable among them; and the only objection to any of them was that a couple had unexpired leases under Lord Anglesey. McKercher, however, declined to object to them on that score. Their swords were girded on them in court, and the trial began.
Mr. Sergeant Marshall opened the case of the plaintiff's lessor, which I shall ask leave to call the claimant's case.
It was one that lent itself to a rhetorical opening; but the learned sergeant took the other great line. In a speech which is worth study as a model of condensation and strong sobriety, he articulated his topics, and marshaled an army of facts to prove, first, that James Annesley was the son of Lord and Lady Altham; second, that the defendant had kidnapped him, and sent him out of the country, and, failing in that attempt to get rid of him, compassed his death in London by a prosecution, the character of which he should not describe, but leave it to the witnesses.
But able speeches of counsel are no rarity; and this trial offered something not only rare, but marvelous--two piles of evidence, each as high as a tower, and each contradicting the other in nearly all the particulars directly affecting the issue.
They proved by Mrs. Cole and by two servants, that, in 1714, Lady Altham had expectation of offspring, and Mrs. Heath, her gentlewoman, knew it.
They then advanced a step, and proved by John Turner, seneschal to successive Earls of Anglesey, that, in the spring of 1715, Lady Altham was manifestly expecting her confinement; and a year or so after he saw her teaching a child to walk. By Bartholomew Furlong, a peasant farmer, that in 1715 her condition was notorious; that, as ladies of rank never nursed their own children, he applied personally to Lord and Lady Altham for his wife to be the nurse, and came to terms with them, subject to Dr. Brown's approval. But Dr. Brown did not approve of Mrs. Furlong. This was confirmed by Denis Redmond, a groom at Dunmaine 1714-16, who said the doctor selected for wet-nurse Joan Landy, a cleanly, bright girl that lived on Lord Altham's land.
By Denis Redmond.--That early in the summer of 1715, Mrs. Heath sent him to Ross--three miles from Dunmaine--to fetch Mrs. Shiel, a professional person, since dead; and he brought Mrs. Shiel to Dunmaine on a pillion, and that same day a son was born.
By Joan Laffan, chambermaid.--That she was in the house when this son was born.
By Mary Doyle and Elinor Murphy.--That they were in the room when this son was born.
By Capt. Fitzgerald.--That he, being quartered at Ross, Lord Altham asked him to dinner, and to tap the groaning drink. (What we call caudle.) That he came to Dunmaine house, saw the baby in the nurse's arms, and gave her half a guinea. Had seen the same nurse in court that day. "I took notice of her, sir, because she was very handsome, if you will have the truth of it."
By Alderman Barnes of Ross.--That Lord Altham dined with him in Ross on the alderman's return from a visit, and said over the bottle, "Tom, I'll tell you good news. I've a son by Moll Sheffield." Whereupon he shook his head in disapproval. "Zoons, man!" says my lord. "Why, she's my wife!" "Then I begged his lordship's pardon; for I remembered my Lady Altham was daughter to Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham."
Redmond, Doyle, Murphy, and Laffan, servants in the house at the time, and Christopher Brown, servant to Anthony Cliff, at Ross, swore to the subsequent christening, accompanied with a bonfire, and such carousing that some of them were "drunk in the ditches to the next morning." They all named as the sponsers three persons who were since dead--Anthony Colclough, Counselor Cliff, Madame Pigot, and the clergyman, dead too.
To cure this excess of death in part, they proved by Southweil Pigot, Esq., it was always received in the Pigot family that Lady Altham had a child.
They proved by Joan Laffan that this child was nursed by Joan Landy at her own house, a cabin; and that the said cabin was embellished on this occasion, and a coach road made to it by which Lady Altham went daily to see the child. That in due time Master James was weaned, and then came into Dunmaine House; and there she, Laffan, was his dry-nurse and sole attendant. That in February, 1716, Lord and Lady Altham parted in an angry manner about Tom Palliser, "whose ear," said she coolly, "I saw cut off," and Master James pointed to the blood on the floor. Laffan and Redmond both swore that they saw the actual parting; and Lady Altham cried, and begged to have James. But Lord Altham would not let her.
This witness went on and swore that Lady Altham retired to Ross, and the Dunmaine servants took James to her clandestinely, which was confirmed by Lutwyche, a shoemaker at Ross, who swore Lady Altham ordered child's shoes of him, and bemoaned herself. "I had better be the wife of the poorest tradesman in Ross, for then I could see my child every day; but now I can only see him by stealth."
To conclude their evidence about the deceased Lady Altham they followed her to Dublin; and John Walsh, Esq., swore she had cried to him over her husband's cruelty, but had thanked God "for an indulgent father and a promising young son, who would be a prop to her old age;" and Mrs. Hodgers, who let lodgings in Dublin, deposed to a solitary conversation, in which Lady Altham, finding her to be English, gossiped with her, and told her she had a son.
They followed James from Dunmaine to Kinna, Carrickduffe, and other places where Lord Altham had resided, and proved by several witnesses he had been always dressed, powdered, booted, and horsed like a nobleman's son till he was more than ten years of age. Then they proved Lord Altham's entanglement with Miss Gregory, and also his poverty, to account in some degree for the boy being deserted at that time. In proof of his poverty, one witness swore that when he kept hounds one hound would eat another.
They then opened a vein of indirect evidence founded on the words and deeds of Lord Anglesey, the defendant. They grafted this into the case very neatly, thus:--
They proved by several witnesses that Lord Anglesey was constantly in communication with Lord Altham, and often at Dunmaine and other places; and they made it clear that Lord Anglesey knew for certain whether James Armesley was or was not his brother Altham's lawful son. This done, they proved by Laffan that she knew the defendant well, and that he came home to Dunmaine a few months after the parting, and asked after Jemmy; and she told him my lady had begged hard for him, but my lord would not let her have him. Then the defendant swore an oath, which she repeated verbatim when questioned, and attested that blessed name to which all Christians bow, that he would have let Lady Altham have the boy, and take him to the devil; "for," said he, "I would keep none of the breed of her."
Having grafted this branch, they grew it high.
They called Dominick Farrell and John Purcell, the latter lamish, and with a staff, but sturdy still. Foreseeing the terrible difficulty under which I now labor, I stuck close to Purcell's sworn evidence in those earlier scenes he figures in. So please turn back to those scenes, and imagine every word you find there sworn to in open court before the principal actors in the scene; the child, now grown to man's estate, and the barbarous uncle, both glaring at each other, also before Philippa and her eyes that poured black lightning at her lover's treacherous enemy, and before the excitable Irish crowd, that roared and raged like wild beasts at Purcell's every other sentence. He told how he had taken the claimant off a horse in Smithfield, and carried him to his wife, etc.; the first visit of Capt. Annesley to his house, when the boy was all terror, but Richard Annesley all politeness; Lord Altham's death; Richard Annesley's changed behavior, and attempt to kidnap him. He told his tale simply, yet well. Anybody could see by his emotion and earnestness, he was not inventing, but living a real romance over again. Once or twice, in relating his sturdy answers to Lord Anglesey, he involuntarily struck his stick down upon the table, and so pointed his speech; but, when he came to the first attempt at kidnapping, and told how he put the boy between his legs, and dared that craven lord and his three bullies with his single cudgel, he suddenly waved his staff round his head with a gesture so impulsive that a roar of admiration and sympathy burst from the crowd, followed by a buzz that interrupted the proceedings for some minutes.
Tenderer feelings were aroused among the tenderer; for, upon this, all the scene came back to James Annesley, and he made an eloquent motion of his hand toward the champion of his childhood, and then buried his face in his handkerchief. Many tears were shed all round.
Asked to identify poor little Jemmy, if he could, John Purcell pointed at once to James Annesley, and said with manly emotion, "That is the gentleman. I know him as well as I know the hand now upon my heart."
This witness's cross-examination only led to fresh triumphs. He was asked with a sneer whether all those persons could not have taken the child from him had they really meditated violence. He replied, "No, sir," and struck the table with his staff. "I'd have lost my life before I'd have lost the child."
At this there was a loud huzza; and the very peeresses about the bench waved their handkerchiefs to the honest fellow; and Philippa could have hugged them for that.
Having admitted he had afterward seen him in a livery, he was asked if he still thought he was Lord Altham: he replied frankly that it had staggered him, "but still I thought so in my conscience; for might may overcome right."
This line rang in Dublin that day, and a century after rang round the world; for the Wizard of the North wove stout John Purcell's very line, and one more out of this marvelous trial, into his immortal romance.
Andrew Connor, proprietor of the ship James of Dublin, proved by the ship's books that James Annesley sailed in her for Pennsylvania at a certain date.
James Reilly and Mark Byrne, two rakehelly fellows, swore they were bribed by Anglesey to kidnap him at that date. They added to my account some particulars of the boy's cries and tears, and the impotent curses of the crowd as they hurried him on board the ship James of Dublin.
Being now the sixth day of the trial, they closed this vein of evidence and the claimant's case, by calling the defendant's own English attorney, Giffard. He deposed that he had been, for a long time, Lord Anglesey's man of business in England, and knew his affairs. Having suits with Lord Haversham and the Annesleys, and being now menaced by the claimant, defendant said to Giffard he would be glad to compound for two or three thousand a year, and surrender title and estates to James Annesley, for it was his right; and, for his part, he would rather his brother's son should have all than Frank and Charles Annesley; and, in that case, he would live in France. Accordingly, he sent for Mr. Stephen Hayes to teach him the French tongue.
Q.--"And pray what altered his resolution?"
Giffard, in reply, told the truth, as you see it in my narrative, about the homicide at Staines, with this addition: "He said he did not care if it cost him ten thousand pounds, if he could get James Annesley hanged." He also described the clandestine way in which it was managed, the money wanted in the prosecution coming to him through Jans, Lord Anglesey's factotum.
The plaintiff's case closed, leaving Lord Anglesey an object of immense horror and disgust, and James Annesley the darling of the public.
Said Philippa, "After this, why do they not give him his rights, and have done with it? That miserable old man might have spared himself this exposure by merely giving his title and estates to the rightful owner."
Says Chester, "It is odd, how people cling to these trifles when they have held them undisturbed for a few years." Then, more gravely, "Niece, do not deceive yourself. We know nothing of the other party's case as yet; and our own is prejudiced by this conduct of McKercher. He has done a monstrous thing: he has published a libel of the defendant."
"A libel of the defendant! Who can libel that old villain? Who can paint him half as black as Nature has made him?"
"The blacker he is, the less need to write a novel about him. Why, in England the defendant would have attached him for contempt of court. A pretty attorney!"
"He is a lawyer with a heart: that is all his fault: My James had been kidnapped by the old villain, and all but hanged; and he tried to assassinate him here in Ireland: and you cry out because poor, good, kind McKercher replies to bullets, halters and ten years' slavery with a book, a few words that break no bones, a few home truths that the villain himself hath made to be so. This is your justice! This is how you coldblooded lawyers hold the balance. Oh! if my eyes could kill the caitiffs, body and soul, I'd give you something more to cry for! Prithee speak to me no more. Men with hearts are a sealed book to you. There --I would not forget the respect I owe you. I have done it once. For pity's sake, uncle-- That prince of villains hath fifteen counsel to gloze his crimes for him; why need you make the sixteenth, and drive me mad?" She trembled, and her hands worked, and her eyes flashed fire.
The old man looked at her, thought of her father, and said softly: "That is true; and I am silenced, completely silenced."
"Better so than for us to quarrel. Forgive me, uncle; but I do not love my James by halves; and indeed I am but a woman, and so strung up by this terrible trial, as I should quarrel with my own father, if he said one word against my James."
"Nay," said the old man: "I never said a word against thy James, and never will. He is an honest man, and hath been cruelly used; and he is not to blame that his attorney writes novels pendente lite."
The defendant now opened his case, and called a cloud of witnesses.
Aaron Lambert, Esq.-- Lived near Dunmaine; never heard of nor saw a child of Lord and Lady Altham's. He impeached Joan Laffan's credit. Unshaken by her cross-examination. He said, "Nobody would believe her, in my opinion, if she swore all the oaths in the universe."
Thomas Palliser, Esq., a squireen.-- Lived but three miles from Dunmaine, and visited there. Never heard of a son and heir; but had understood there was a boy about, whose mother was one Joan Landy.
William Napper swore that Lord Altham was not succeeded in his estates by the present defendant, but by Arthur, the then Lord Anglesey; that he, the witness, acted for Earl Arthur, and took possession of the Ross estate, on which were near a hundred tenants, and not one made any scruple, nor mentioned a child of Lord Altham's.
Thomas Palliser, Jr., delivered a romance illustrative of the time. He was young, and intimate with Lord and Lady Altham. Lord Altham told him one day he was determined to part with her, because he had no child by her; subsequently, by a "principle of selection" that looks rather odd to us English, my lord made his confidant the handle. He asked him to breakfast on mulled claret in a little room of Dunmaine House, called "Sot's hole" (a name that would have been more correctly applied to the mansion in general), and after breakfast made what the French dramatists call a fausse sortie; pretended to go to church, of all places. Palliser, having no other company, went to my lady's room and sat on a stool. Presently there was a whistle. My lord and his servants burst in, cudgeled him, and, while he was insensible, "Cut off this ear; and they might as well have killed me as done that." He then swore there was no child in the house at that time, contradicting Laffan.
William Elms confirmed Palliser, Jr., that the child came into the house after Lady Altham's departure. He swore Joan Landy had a child that lived with her, and was miserably dressed till Lady Altham left. Then it was taken into the house, and clothed. After that he came to Dunmaine one day, and saw the child playing at Lord Altham's feet, and Joan Landy came to the gate, and peeped in; and my lord swore, and told the man to let the hounds out, and set them at her. He then said he would not, for £500, the child should know that jade was his mother.
Thomas Rolph swore he was butler at Dunmaine until Michaelmas, 1715; between Michaelmas and Christmas, 1715, was discharged, by letter from Dublin, for beating the gardener very heartily. Now, this covered the period of the birth; and all the plaintiff's witnesses but one had sworn Charles Magher was the butler at this period. Rolph could name more servants than any of the claimant's witnesses could. There was no Joan Laffan there in all his time. Juggy Lundy, as he called her, was discharged, and her child was born soon after; and he went to her hut to see her. "She lay upon straw covered with a caddow, and a hurdle at her head to keep the air of the door from her. There was a place at the feet of the bed, where her brother lay, and on the other side her father and mother; and there stakes drove into the ground and wattled to keep the straw together." When he first visited her, her child was but a few days old; and he asked her whom she called the father, and she told him. He deposed that he had often seen the child after that, and given the mother broken victuals at the stables; and before he left in Michaelmas, 1715, the child could go alone, and ran about with a sort of blanket on its shoulders, and nothing else. This child was christened at Nash by Father Michael Downes. Lady Altham never visited Joan's cabin, that he knew of. She was as proud a woman as any in Ireland. She had heard a scandal, and forbade the woman the house.
This closed that day's proceedings; and poor Philippa's throat was very dry, and her heart sick, and her mind amazed, to hear people swear such contrary things.
"Ah, my child," said Thomas Chester, "why would you come here?"
Mrs. Anne Giffard lived near Dunmaine. Was familiar with Lady Altham. Never knew her to have a child. Undertook to prove an "ALIBI" for her at the time assigned for the birth. She went in a coach with Lady Altham to the spring assizes at Wexford, 1715. Lord Altham and Mrs. Heath rode with them on horseback. Jack Walsh of Moniseed, Masterton, his nephew, and one Doyle, an English clergyman, all Pretender's men, were tried. She and Lady Altham were in Court; and Cæsar Colclough, Esq., sat by them all day.
This "ALIBI" was sworn to by Rolph also, and Mrs. Heath.
Now came a pictorial figure of another class; for, if all the costumes in this single trial could be faithfully produced, the miserable meagerness of our authorities on that head would be very striking. It was a priest, with his cassock, his huge shoes with iron buckles, and his cockle hat--Father Michael Downes. Had now lived forty-two years one mile from Dunmaine House. Dunmaine is in his parish. "No one could have a child in that parish and I not know it." Lady Altham never had one; and Joan Landy had: it was in the year 1714. He was asked to christen it, but was rather shy of doing that. Finally, he bethought himself there could be no harm done to him for making a Christian: so he christened him. He deposed, further, that Lord Altham afterward asked him, had he christened Joan Landy's child. "I said, 'I have; but I have got no retribution,' meaning christening money. 'Well, well,' says he, 'I'll requite you hereafter.'"
He deposed, further, that some years after he saw the boy at Dunmaine House, and Lord Altham swore at the child, and said, "Why don't you get up and make a bow to him that made you a Christian?"
He kept a registry, and, by his own account, kept it vilely. Thought he would have registered a legitimate child by Lord Altham, if my lord had desired him. "Was not used to register illegitimate children, and gave his "exquisite reasons," as Shakespeare hath it.
There now stepped upon the table one of the main pillars of the defense--a tall, elderly Englishwoman, a glance at whom showed her condition. There was an air of decency about her. Her clothes were well made, though they were not rich, her full apron from waist to ankle, her snowy cap, puckered, and some lawn about her bosom, were very fine, and beautifully clean, and showed she had lived with gentlefolks. This was Mrs. Mary Heath, referred to by so many of the plaintiff's and defendant's witnesses. She swore that she was Lady Altham's woman, and came over from England with her in October, 1713, and lived with her till the day of her death. Remembered going down to Dunmaine. Remembered some of the servants--Setwright, the housekeeper; Rolph, the butler, Anthony Dyer; Michael, the cook; and his scullery girl, Juggy Landy, who left soon after, and had a child. Hearing some scandal, she was curious to see who this child was like: so asked the coachman's wife to have it brought to the gate for her to see. She did see it: it was about six weeks old then, and had nothing but a clean blanket. She gave it several things, among the rest a fine cambric neckcloth she had brought from England among her own things.
Her mistress never had a child, nor any expectation of one. She often confided to the witness her regret; and once, in particular, she came upstairs after dinner, crying, and said that brute below (meaning the defendant) had said he wished she might never have a child. And my lady said she wished she might but have a child, to inherit; and she did not care if she was to die the next hour. Was at Ross, with her lady, after the separation, and had no knowledge of Lutwyche, a shoemaker. Her lady wore braided shoes, but white damask never, all the time she knew her. No child ever visited her at Ross.
Q.--"Was there any child brought to my lady as her child?"
A.--"No, never was. She had no child; I can say no more, if they rack me to death."
She swore that McKercher had called at her home in Holborn, and she had said to him, inter alia, "Think you, if a child had been born to such an estate, they would not have had his birth registered?"
This witness was violent, and argued the case too much; yet, under cross-examination, she gave, unconsciously, a picture of her fidelity and affection that made it hard to believe she could be the woman to lie her unhappy lady's son out of his estate, if she believed he was her son. Counsel was cross-examining her to prove that Lady Altham's memory was impaired long before she died in 1729--in fact, when she came from Ross to Dublin.
"Was not she troubled with a dead palsy?"
"I cannot call it a dead palsy, sir."
"Did not that disorder deprive her of the use of her limbs?"
"She lost her limbs by that disorder; but it came by degrees. When she came from Ross, she could go about with holding by one hand. When we first went to London, with one hand I could lead her about the rooms and then with both hands; and then not at all. I was forced to put her in a chair and wheel her about. But her mind was clear. She kept her own accounts."
That touching though incidental picture of fidelity did not appear to strike the court; but it did Philippa Chester, and she felt sorely staggered and sick at heart. She was silent this evening, while James and Chester and McKercher discussed the evidence.
Mr. Chester said her evidence was crushing, if true; but her manner was rather against her. "I think you may perhaps get over her," said he. "Are there many more?"
"Plenty," said McKercher; "but Heath is the only one I fear. She is an English woman and a Protestant. Bad luck to her!"
Martin Neif had seen Joan Landy with a child of her own at Dunmaine. Saw the same child afterward at Dunmaine House; saw him afterward with my lord, at Kinna. Has heard my lord say he would not for any money, the boy should know Juggy Landy was his mother.
Arthur Herd was a barber's apprentice and went out to shave Lord Altham at Carrickduffe. When he had shaved him, Lord Altham said, "Come and live with me: you shall never want a piece of money in your pocket, a gun to shoot with, a horse to ride on, nor a lass to walk with." On this picture of domestic service he ran away from his master without scruple. He found a boy in my lord's house called Jemmy Annesley. He had a scarlet coat and a laced hat. Knew my lord to correct him once, and say, "He has the thieving blood of the Landys in him. His grandfather used to steal the cauls out of his sheep, and half thresh his corn, and make the sheaves up."
Witness used to go sometimes and see his friends at Ross. On these occasions Master Annesley would send his duty to his mother: she was then in the service of a baker at Ross. Since Mr. Annesley's return, had seen him and Mr. McKercher. Mr. McKercher asked him who was James Annesley's mother; and he told him it was Joan, or Juggy, Landy. He then reminded Mr. Annesley he had taken several duties from him to his mother, and brought several blessings from his mother to him, and reminded him of a pair of stockings he brought him of his mother's knitting; and Mr. Annesley trembled and turned pale at this discourse.
The claimant's case was now considered desperate. He himself seemed like a man awaking from a dream.
Philippa was sick at heart, "Oh!" she moaned, "will these dreadful witnesses never leave off?"
As for McKercher, he disappeared that night.
Philippa went to the court next morning, pale and disturbed, all her alacrity gone. She went like one to execution. Yet no entreaties could keep her away: no, she would know the worst.
This day came a new costume, Alderman King in his robes, out of respect for the court. He deposed that Lady Altham lived in his house nine months as his guest a little before she left Ireland. She used to converse freely of her affairs, but never mentioned to him that she had a son.
This closed the defendant's evidence.
What now remained but the speeches of counsel and a verdict for the defendant? Not much, only to conquer the Napoleon of all attorneys, living or dead. McKercher re-appeared, and claimed, through his counsel, to prove PERJURY on the part of certain witnesses for the defense. The Court allowed this, with the usual limitation--he must state his points first, and keep strictly within them.
Claimant's counsel stated four points, and then called to defeat the "alibi" aforesaid.
Cæsar Colclough, Esq.-- He swore that he was at Wexford spring assizes, 1715. Was in court all day at Masterton's trial; did not sit by Lady Altham and Mrs. Giffard; did not believe they were in court; and Parson Doyle was not tried that day, but just one twelvemonth after, and he, Colclough, was a juryman.
On the same line Thomas Higginson, collector of rents, swore Lord Altham went to those very assizes alone; and he called at Dunmaine with money due, and Lady Altham gave to him two glasses of white wine, and at the second he wished her a happy delivery.
Against Mrs. Heath they called an acquaintance of hers, one John Hussy, who swore that when the news of Mr. Annesley coming to claim his rights first reached London from Jamaica, and before the defendant's agents could get to her, she spoke of him to deponent as Lady Altham's son and a much wronged man. William Stephens and William Houghton, persons intimate with Arthur Herd, swore that this formidable witness for the defendant had told quite a different tale to them before the trial. Houghton gave some particulars of gossip. One Mrs. Symons had come into his place, and told him Herd had turned tail to Mr. Annesley, and the trial was going against him. "Why, madam;" said I, "I heard Arthur Herd express himself that Mr. Annesley was the heir." Pressed for the exact words of Herd, he said, "Upon my oath, and upon my salvation, and upon everything, he said he did believe him to be the true heir of the estate the Earl of Anglesey now possesses." Both opponents swore that a remarkable saying which was now ringing through every street in Dublin came first out of Herd's mouth, viz., Annesley is the right heir, if right might take place.
Father John Ryan swore that Father Michael Downes had told him he was to get £200 for his evidence, and if he made a mistake he must get absolution.
This closed the plaintiff's evidence in reply.
Then came an incident without a parallel. The judges had now before them the greatest mass of perjury ever delivered in Great Britain; and, not being clear on which side the perjury predominated, they took unusual means to test the witnesses. They confronted them on the same table, and took the examination into their own hands. Thus, whereas in an ordinary case there are two battles of evidence, in this immortal trial there were four; and the last deserves a distinct heading.
William Elms, who had said Joan Laffan was a person not to be believed on her oath, was put on the table, and then Joan Laffan was ordered up. When she came on the table she courtesied, and said, "Your servant, Mr. Elms."
The Court.--"Woman, do you know that gentleman?"
Joan.--"Yes; since I know anybody."
Court.--"Did you tell him at Dunmaine you were nursing Lady Altham's child?"
A.--"I don't know, my lord; I never saw him to speak to at Dunmaine but once."
Elms.--"I was high constable, and I spoke to her several times at Dunmaine, when I went to collect the public money. Don't you remember that? Can you deny it?"
Joan.--"I protest I know nothing of it."
The Court.--"What was the nature of your service?"
Joan.--"I was chambermaid."
Elms.--"She was laundry-maid."
Joan (ironically). -- "Very well, Mr. Elms."
The Court, having brought them to this issue, looked into the matter, and found, by the evidence of Heath and others, she was chambermaid, and not laundry-maid.
About Joan Landy's cabin, Joan said she only knew it while the child was there. It was then a handsome house, with handsome things in it.
The Court (to Elms).--"Pray was there any such fine room as she describes?"
Elms.--"I never saw it, without it was underground. I saw no furniture at all: there was a wall made up of sods and stones."
Joan Laffan.--"Oh, fie, Mr. Elms! I wonder you'll say so." Then she clasped her hands. "By the Holy Evangelists there was never a sod in the house."
They continued again about the coach-road ; and this much-abused witness, Laffan, distinctly proved that the respectable Mr. Elms and Rolph had lied and prevaricated about the coach road; and that it did not go where they said it did, but only to Joan Landy's cabin.
The Court (to Joan Laffan).--"Was it known by the neighbors that my lady had a son, and that the child you nursed was that son?"
Joan (composedly).--"My lord, it is known by two thousand people; and everybody knows it if they will please to speak truth."
Elms.--"I never heard of it for one.
The two priests were now put on the table cheek by jowl.
Father Downes denied that he ever rode and conversed with Father Byan on any Sunday morning; but, on Byan reminding him of a circumstance, he conceded the riding, but denied that he had ever conversed about this trial on a Sunday morning.
Then the Court made Byan repeat to his face about the £200, etc.
Downes.--"Does this man swear this?"
Downes.--"Well, then, I'll tell you, by virtue of my oath--I never was promised a farthing; and, if you believe this gentleman, you may hang me; for he is a vile, drunken, licentious dog in the country."
The next duel was between John Hussy and Mary Heath. They were put on the table together; and the Court asked Mrs. Heath if Hussy had drank tea with her since the account came from abroad about Mr. Annesley.
Mrs. Heath.--"Several times."
Court.--"Had you any conversation with him thereupon?"
Mrs. Heath.--"I have often said to him what a vile thing it was to take away the earl's right. My lady never had a child. And I can't say no more if you rack me to death."
Court.--"What is Mr. Hussy's character?"
Mrs. Heath.--"I can say no more than that some said he was a gentleman's servant, and some said he lived by gaming."
The Court.--"Repeat the words you say she said before you."
Hussy.--"She told me the Duchess of Buckingham sent for her; and then she said, 'Poor gentleman, I'm sorry for him from my heart, for no one has reason to know his affairs better than I do; for I lived long with Lady Altham, his mother."
Mrs. Heath.--"By all that's good and great I never said any such word." Then, turning on Hussy, "I never thought you were such a man. I've heard people say you were a gamester, and lived in an odd way; but I would never believe it till now. I took your part, and always said you behaved like a gentleman."
Hussy.--"I am a gentleman, and a man of family. Indeed, I heard you say it, and with all the regret and concern imaginable."
Thus ended the greatest conflict of direct and heterogeneous evidence ever known in this country before or since; and, if it does not interest my readers more than the rest of this story, let us have no more of the miserable cant about truth being superior to fiction; for truth has very few pearls to offer comparable to this great trial.
The Court adjourned; and Philippa and James Annesley both thanked God it was over, and agreed they would never have gone through it, had they known what they were to endure.
"Sweetheart," said she to him, "I have much need to see you gain your estates; for I have lost my youth. I was so young before this dreadful trial: now they have made me old. They have shown me mankind too near. What! is it really so, that Christian men and women can stand up side by side, and take the Gospels of their Redeemer in hand, and one swear black and t'other white, of things they both do know? and all we, looking on amazed, can see naught in either face but truth and honesty. Land and titles, quotha! What are they that men and women should fling away their souls? Why, if each of these false witnesses were to be Ireland's richest landowner, and England's highest earl, still 'tis the Devil that hath the best of the bargain. Oh! I am sick, sick. Shall England ever come to this? Then, methinks, 'twere time for honest men and women to run into the sea, and so to another world for truth."
Having relieved her swelling soul, the noble girl laid her hand on James's shoulder, and said pathetically, "I have but one comfort in this wicked world--that he I love is an honest man."
"Yes, I am an honest man; too honest to trouble you any more if the jury shall say I am that woman's son."
"Oh, James! what words are these? Think you I care whose son men say you are?"
She made light of it, not knowing at the time the gloomy resolution James had come to.
Yet, after all, now I think of it, she may have had some vague misgiving; for she said to Thomas Chester, almost crying, "Uncle dear, if it goes against him, you will be very kind to him for my sake?"
"I will. Why should I not? But if you mean give him my niece and her fortune all the same, why, no--not till he resigns litigation, that is a curse, and takes to some honest trade."
Next day Philippa had a terrible headache; but nothing would keep her out of court.
Four counsel for the defendant spoke in turn: of these Malone was one; and he spoke four hours, with all the zeal and cogency of a great forensic reasoner. Often during his speech, poor Philippa said, "Oh! will he never leave off?" and, when he did leave off, the claimant's case seemed prostrate.
Nevertheless, next day Counselor Marshall for the plaintiff spoke one hour only, but with such lucid order, such neatness, cogency, and power of condensation, that he set the claimant's case on its legs again. He was followed by three more.
I shall give one point of the many on which they countered; but I give it only because the judges, by some strange delusion unaccountable in men so able, actually omitted to say one word upon the point, though, to my mind, the case lay there.
Prime Sergeant Malone cited, "It is a rule well known, that every case ought to be proved by the best testimony the nature of the thing will admit; and surely this Joan Landy was the very best witness that could have been produced on the side of the plaintiff. It is sworn for her, by others, that she took this child from its mother, and nursed it for fifteen months. Why, then, is not she produced? She is named on their list of witnesses; and the gentlemen on the other side did, very early in the case, promise we should see her. But by-and-by they told us she was a weak woman, and might be put off the thread of her story. But this was plainly not the real reason. The weakest man or woman can speak truth, and will probably, on their oath, say no other. It is a hardship for a weak mind, that knows a fact not to be true, to color it, or make it appear true. Their consciousness that Joan Landy was unwilling or unable to do this must have been their only reason for not producing her. Good will to the plaintiff she could not lack: she is, by their account, his wet-nurse; and an Irish nurse, as Mr. McKercher told those who suspected this woman of being something more to the claimant, has a maternal affection and is willing, by all honest means, to promote her nursling's welfare. Joan Landy knows better than any one whether she had a son by Lord Altham, or not. Yet she is not called; and so, because Joan Landy knew too much about the sham to stand an examination, Joan Laffan, the pretended dry-nurse, is put forward to give Joan Landy's evidence.
Sergeant Marshall cited, in reply to the above:
"What we said to the gentlemen was 'that Joan Landy had been tampered with;' and we repeat it. On that account we did not examine her; but we offered her to the gentlemen on the other side, if they pleased to examine her; and they declined. Yet she is their witness. She plays in their case the part Lady Altham plays in ours. Their refusing to examine her is as if we should refuse to examine Lady Altham, were she alive; yet we had Joan Landy in court for them, and they declined her."
The last conflict was over: the three judges summed up. Baron Dawson flimsily: the chief Baron and Baron Mountney with great pains, closeness, method, and impartiality on every point but the conduct of the counsel in not calling Joan Landy. This, by some the Celtic intellect, they all ignored.
The jury retired.
James Annesley waited a few minutes, and then, unable to bear it any longer cast a look of agony at Philippa, and left the court. McKercher followed him.
Philippa sat in all the tortures of suspense.
"While she sat twisting her hands, a line from McKercher was brought her. "My dear young lady, keep your eye on him. He has bespoke a passage to Pennsylvania."
She handed it to her uncle and clasped her hands.
"No," said Thomas Chester, "there is no need for that. We must think of something. What! the jury come back so soon? Well, they are agreed then. I was afraid they never would. Better so, my child, than to go through this all again."
Then the usual question was put to the jury; and their foreman delivered
There was loud "Huzza" from the crowded court. Ladies waved their handkerchiefs; and Philippa gave a cry, and was carried almost fainting from the court.
She had not been at home many minutes when in rushed her lover, exalted in proportion to his recent despondence, and demanded her hand in marriage that very minute. What woman, however much in love, could put up with such conduct? She coquetted with her happiness directly, like any other daughter of Eve. "Marriage! time enough for that." At present she preferred to revel in her lover's triumph, and "not talk nonsense"--so she said, however. Her lover then informed her that the Irish estates and the title in perspective would not compensate him for what he had endured. McKercher had been fighting for land and honors; but he for her. Mr. Chester put in his word. "Come, niece, a bargain is a bargain. Prithee make me not a liar. I ne'er broke faith when I was young; and shall I begin in my old age?"
"I would do much to oblige you, uncle," says the young lady, smiling, and coloring high at what she saw coming.
In ran McKercher, boiling over, to say he had arranged bonfires, bells, and a torchlight procession.
"The marriage first," said Annesley, "or none of your public shows for me."
Finding him as obstinate as a mule, the pliable McKercher shifted his helm; got a parson and distinguished witnesses all in an hour; and the deed of settlement was produced by Chester, and signed, sealed and witnessed, and the marriage solemnized in private, as usual among the great; and Matthews rode home to prepare his house to receive the bride and bridegroom.
At night McKercher, all in his glory, arranged the torchlight procession, with all the bells a-ringing, and bonfires blazing on the neighboring heights. It was a splendid cavalcade, both of men and women. For the young lord, as they called him now, was the darling of the hour; and all the quality clustered round him. Then James must show his darling Philippa all the places where he had suffered privation and misery. They made a progress. They went in triumph to Frapper Lane, and other of the places; to Smithfield, where he had held horses, and to Ormond Quay.
One incident occurred worth mentioning. They passed John Purcell's door; and the old man stood in his doorway to see the show, as all the neighbors did. Annesley caught sight of him, instantly dismounted, and fairly flung his arms round the old man's neck, and kissed him on both cheeks. The old man kissed him in turn, and sobbed a word or two; but, when James looked for his mammy, he shook his head. She was gone from the joys and troubles of the world: and this is the sorest wound to gentle hearts, that those who have been kindest to us in adversity cannot stay below to share our prosperity.
The crowd huzzaed louder than ever when the young lord kissed the humble, sturdy benefactor of his youth; and then the bright cavalcade resumed its march. They took that sore-tried but now triumphant pair a mile out of Dublin; then they broke into two companies: the larger rode back to drink their healths in Dublin; the smaller rode with them to Captain Matthews's, waving torches, and hurrahing lustily at times. He kept them all and their horses, that night, with Irish hospitality.
How sweet is pleasure after pain! Such a day as this comes to few, and to the happiest but once in a life; and all the past trouble, mortification, doubt, and suspense made it sweeter still, indeed, scarcely credible, it was such rapture.
I could tell more about the "Wandering Heir"; but fiction is not history, and I claim my rights. Even the "Iliad" is but a slice out of Troy's siege: so, surely, I may take these marvelous passages of an eventful life, then drop the curtain on the doubtful future.
Whether or not he holds his estates, and gets his title from the peers, he has been poor, and now is well-to-do; a slave, and now is free; alone in the world, and now blessed with Philippa: there lies his best chance of enduring happiness when all is done; for few things in this world keep their high flavor, custom blunts them so. Wealth palls by habit; titles cease to ring in sated ears; French dishes pall the appetite in time; power and reputation have no spells against satiety. Only pure conjugal love seems never old nor stale, but ever sweet: if it declines in passion, it gains in affection; it multiplieth joy; it divideth sorrow, and here in this sorry world is the thing likest heaven.
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