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hastily if there was any constabulary queer, that's what they are,” said the force in the neighbourhood-soldiers, woman, answering me eagerly, while county police, protectors of the peace. her husband hung back, and made
The woman uttered a faint excla no response. “It comes strange to mation of terror; but the landlord, the likes of you ; for it takes a deal with a certain stupid adroitness, of studyin' to larn Witcherley ways." which I could not help remarking, “ Witcherley ways in the family took up my question. “Polis ! Lord --a delusion-a monomania,” said I a' mercy! the gentleman's been rob to myself. Certainly this looked the bed. I'se a constable mysel'." most reasonable explanation. Yes,
"I have not been robbed; but I to be sure ; everybody had heard of suspect you know more than I do," such. I received the idea eagerly, cried I, impatiently. Your old and calmed down at once. After all, Squire is in some mysterious danger. the wonder was, that it had never If you're a constable, rouse half-a- struck me before ; and then the confudozen men in the neighbourhood, and sion of the young man—the anxiety of come up with me to the manor house Joseph, No doubt, they trembled -if you're a constable! I should say, for the exhibition of this incipient if you're a man, make haste and fol madness-no doubt, they were afraid low me. Do you hear? At this very of the narrative with which the unmoment the old man may be in peril fortunate old gentleman was sure to of his life.”
horrify a new listener. I became “What's wrong, sir? what's wrong? quite" easy in my mind” as I reIt cannot be rubbers, for rubbers volved all this. Monomaniacs, too, could ne'er reach to the manor-house," are so, gravely reasonable in most said the wife, interposing. “Bless cases, and have so much method in and preserve us! is't the Russians or their madness. I returned to the the French, or the pitmen, or what's dull public-room with restored comwrong? and if he's off and away to posure, and thinking it all over, in the manor, who'll mind his own the lifeless silence, in this place where house?”
it seemed impossible that anything “I am sure you know what I mean," could happen, could almost have cried I. “ Your old master is in dan- laughed at myself for my own fears. ger. I cannot tell you what danger. By-and-by the house was shut up, You know better than I do. Can you and I transferred my quarters to the look on quietly, and see the Squire gable-room, which I was to occupy lose his life?"
for the night. It was a well-sized "I know nought about the Squire's apartment, somewhat bare, but very life," said Giles sullenly, after a pause; clean, and sufficiently comfortable, “and no more do you, sir, that's a very much like the best bedroom of stranger to Witcherley ways. The a humble country inn, which it was. Squire's got his own about him that The bow-window-the only window won't see wrong to him. It's no ado in the room-looked out into sheer o' mine, and it's no ado o'yours; and darkness, a heavy visible gloom; the I'm not agoing on a fool's errand for night was somewhat wild, and dismal any man, let alone a strange gentle with wind and rain, and, in spite of man I never set eyes on afore. Do the homely comfort of my surroundyou think I'd go and anger the Squire ings, I have seldom spent a more in his own house, because summat miserable night. Dreary old stories skeared a traveller ? I'm not agoing revived out of the oblivion of childto do no such foolishness. If the hood ; tales of the creeping stream of Squire takes notions, what's that to a blood from some closed door, the apstranger like you, that'll maybe never palling pistol-shot, the horror of the see him again ?"
death-gasp and cry, forced themselves “ Takes notions ?” I caught at on my memory; and when I slept, it this new idea with infinite relief.' was only to see visions of the Squire, “ What do you mean? Does the or of some one better known to me Squire take notions? Is it all a delu- in his place, standing in ghastly solision of his? Is that what you mean ?” tude with the knife or the poison,
“Sir, it's in the family; they're struggling with assassins, or stretched
upon a horrible deathbed, red with money vehemently on the ground murder. Through these feverish fan- with an expression of disgust, and cies came the rounds of the night; shook his clenched hand after the the creeping silence, which, like the disappearing figure ; but thinking darkness, was not negative, but posi- better of it by-and-by, and relenting tive; the dismal creaking of the sign towards the honest coin, picked it among the great boughs of the elm- up deliberately, piece by piece, and tree; the rush of rain against the hastily disappeared within the house. window; the moaning and sobbing My toilette did not occupy me much echoes of the wind. These terrors, after this incident, and as soon as I however, waking and sleeping, did had hastily completed it, I hurried not make me watch for and start up down stairs. Giles was in the pasto meet the earliest dawn, as might sage, giving directions, intermixed have been supposed ; on the contrary, with a low growl of half-spoken I fell into a heavy slumber as the curses. When he saw me, he sudmorning broke, and slept late and denly stopped, and retreated within long, undisturbed by the early sounds his little bar. I followed him anxof rustical awakening. When I iously. “ What has happened ? roused myself at last, it was ten what of the Squire?” o'clock -a pale, wet, melancholy “The Squire ?-it's none o' my busimorning, the very ghost and shadow ness-nor yours neither. Mind your of the more dismal night.
breakfast and your train, young genI cannot tell whether the story of tleman, and don't you bother about the evening was the first thing which Witcherley-Missus, you're wanted ! occurred to my mind when I awoke. I've enow on my own hands." Indeed, I rather think not, but that Saying which Giles fled, and left me a more everyday and familiar appre- unanswered and unsatisfied. Turning hension, the dread of once more los- to his wife, who appeared immeing the train, was the earliest thought diately with my breakfast, I found which occupied me, despite all the her equally impracticable. She, poor horrors of the night. But my mind woman, seemed able for nothing but immediately rebounded with excite- to wring her hands, wipe her eyes ment and eagerness into the former with an apron, and answer to my channel, when I looked out from my eager inquiries, “ Don't you meddle window. Immediately under it, in in it-don't you, then! O Lord! it's the pale drizzle of rain, stood the Witcherley ways.” Squire's son, dressed as his father had It was impossible to bear this tanbeen, in a blue coat with gilt buttons, talising bewilderment. I took my hat, but new, and of the latest fashion, and rushed out, equally indifferent to and with a white favour on the train and breakfast. The same bumpbreast. His face was flushed with kins stood still loitering in the highrude half-concealed exultation; his road, in the rain; and, scared and manner seemed arrogant and autho- awe-stricken as they seemed, were ritative, but still he had not lost the still able to divert the main subject of downlooking, sullen, resentful shame their slow thoughts, with some dull of the previous night. He was put observation of myself, as I rushed ting money in the hand of Giles, who past. I did not pause, however, to stood by with a scowl upon his face, ask any fruitless questions of this and touched his hat with a still more mazed chorus of spectators, but hursullen unwillingness. Several other ried along the road to the little posternmen, a heaving little rustic crowd, lin- gate. To my surprise, I found the gered around, eyeing the young man great gates open, and another little askance with looks of scared and circle of bystanders, children and unfriendly curiosity. “Let them women, standing by. I hastened up drink our health, and see that the the dark avenue, when the rain patbells are runy." I heari only these tered and the leaves rustled in the words distinctly, and the young pallid daylight, as they had done squire strode away towards the ma- in the blank night. Everything renor-house. When he was out of sight, mained exactly as it was yesterday, my phlegmatic landloni threw his when I passed up this same tortuous
road with the Squire. I rushed on “No,” cried I, raising my voice, with growing excitement, unable to and shaking the old man off-“No, restrain myself. The hall-door stood I'll ascertain the truth before I move slightly ajar. I pushed it open, and a step. I will not leave the house. entered with a hasty step, which Here, go call your new master; I'll echoed upon the paved hall as though wait for him where I sate with his the house were vacant. Roused from father yesterday. His father, poor a corner by the sound, Joseph rose old man, what have you done with and came forward to meet me. The him? I will not move a step till I poor fellow looked very grave and search this mystery out." solemn, and had been sitting in for- I pushed my way as I spoke into lorn solitude, reading in this chilly the dining-room, Joseph following uninhabited hall. But at sight of and opposing me feebly. The apmne the cautiousness of suspicion pearance of the silent untenanted seemed to inspire Joseph. He quick- room moved me with a new and ened his pace, and came forward re mysterious thrill of horror. There solutely, keeping himself between me it lay unaltered, undisturbed, in the and the dining-room door.
very same formal arrangement as “I want to see your master-your when I left it last night; the pormaster-beg him to see me for a mo- traits looking darkly from the walls, ment; I will not detain him," said I. the tender lime - leaves flickering
“My master?" Joseph paused and round the oriel, the long vacant dinlooked at me earnestly, as if to ascer- ing-table shining dully in the subtain how much or how little I knew. dued light. Every chair stood as it “My master, sir, was married this had stood yesterday-the very newsmorning. I couldn't make so bold paper lay upon the table. But where as to disturb him; perhaps you could was the old Squire ? call another day.”
I turned round upon Joseph sud"Married! Now, Joseph,” said I, denly-" He sat there, just there, trying what an appeal would do, last night. You are as conscious of "you know it is in vain to attempt it as I am. I want to know where deceiving me ; your master's son is he is now.” married, but I do not want him; I. A kind of hysteric sob of terror want to see the old Squire."
escaped from the old servant's breast. “ There's no old Squire, sir," said He retreated hastily, covering his Joseph, with a husky voice," there eyes with his hand, yet casting looks ain't. I tell you true ; you're dream- of horror at the vacant elbow-chair. ing. My master's a young gentle- “I'll go, sir-I'll go I'll call my man, and married this morning. It's master,” he said, with a cracked unno good coming here," cried the old steady voice; and he went out of servant, growing excited,“ to make the room, not daring, as I fancied, trouble, and disturb a quiet house. to turn his back upon the ghostly My master's a young gentleman- empty seat. I, in my excitement, younger than yourself; there can be paced up and down the room, with but one Squire.”
all my private sense of wrong and "Joseph, what do you mean?” horror, and all my public sentiment cried I. “Do you forget what I saw of justice, giving authority to my and heard-do you forget that I was step. It did not occur to me that I here and dined with your old master had no right to enter another man's last night? Where is he? What have house after this fashion, or that I you done with him ? I'll rouse the ran any risk in doing so. I was country. I'll have you all indicted excited beyond the reach of all perfor murder, every soul in the house. sonal considerations. I thought of Where is the old Squire ?"
nothing but the old Squire ; here He laid his hand upon my shoulder only last night I had sat at his table, fiercely, trembling himself, however, joined him in conversation, and listas he did so, with the tremor of ened to his story, and where—where weakness. “Will you hold your ghastly confirmation to that tale tongue-will you be quiet-will you of horror-where was he now? leave this house ?"
I had heard Joseph's step, timid
with vend Aasty, shuffle up the great suspicious uncertain hand tries the
staircase ; but as I stood door doubtfully-now it creaks upon will be listen, now the silence crept its hinges-nowHind stagnated around me without a My dearest friend! you cannot be human sound to break it. Nothing half or a hundredth part so much but the rain outside, the wet leaves disappointed as I was ; for as the against the window, not even the door creaked, and the guilty step familiar pulse of a clock to soften advanced, and my heart beat with the painful stillness. My thoughts wild expectation, I awokewere of the blackest. I concluded I am ashamed to confess the no better than that murder, cowardly humiliating truth — awoke to find and base, was in this house, which I, myself in my own crimson easy-chair, alone and unsupported, had come to after dinner, with the fire glowing beard, accuse, and defy in its own into the cosy twilight, and no dark stronghold. But, fired with excite- avenue or lonely manor house within ment, I feared nothing—thought of a score of miles. Under the circumnothing but a possible spectacle of stances, I am grieved to add that the horror concealed within one of these deepest mystery, a gloom which I unknown rooms, and of the question fear I may never be able to peneperpetually on my lips, Where is the trate, still hangs darkly over the Squire ?
: ways of Witcherley and the fate of At length, as I listened, a foot the old Squire. sounded upon the stair, heavy, some- Had Joseph's young master come times rapid, sometimes hesitating, only five minutes sooner-but fate is the true step of guilt. I felt assured inexorable ; and though I have made it was the son, the parricide! My investigations through a primitive heart beat with choking rapidity, a nook of country, and missed a train cold dew rose upon my forehead, and with resignation in the pursuit of I turned to the door to face the new knowledge, I have never fallen upon comer with the fervour and zeal of an that rainy pathway across the field, avenger. Now for the solution of nor come to the Witcherley Arms this horrible mystery! And now a again.
PERIODS occur in British history when he sees them in the dishes when there is no public grievance. with his beef and pudding. These Weary times these are when Bull are likewise bad times for agitators. lies on his back greatly disordered The business is so brisk that the because nothing particular disagrees intervention of brokers or middlewith him, and repels all attempts to men is impossible. Every man does rouse him with wrathful suspicion, his own grievance-work, and a dreadas Mr Weller, in his second widow- ful Babel there is. They are glorihood, refused the proffered consola- ous times nevertheless. Besides the tion of his handmaiden. The most great trunk grievances, there are temptingly bedizened wrong cannot ramifications and sidings to suit entice him from his torpor. Agi- all tastes and capacities. A man tators rack their brains in vain, and may not only feast at the great pubcontemplate the horrid prospect of lic ordinaries of grievances, but he being driven to honest courses. O may discuss select grievances at his for a good, palpable, working griev- symposium, or pick his own morsel ance ! It were worth more than a grievance in his chamber, if he be of new pleasure was to the Persian. unsocial temperament. The air is
Other periods happen when griev- thick with grievances ; they fly about ances are as plentiful as blackberries; like bats. Anon, they begin to arwhen a man finds them out without range themselves in sections, each leaving his fireside ; when he stum- section being still independent and bles over them as he walks abroad; erratic. The big grievance attracts and absorbs the smaller fry within the store-ships topsy-turvy; it made its influence, and is itself absorbed the medical officers negligent at Scuinto a grievance still greater. At tari ; it left our position before Selength three or four swollen and bastopol unfortified; and it caused mighty grievances contend for em- us to be surprised at Inkermann. pire. Death or proscription disposes Whatever evil was done, whatever of the unsuccessful, and a victorious, good was left undone, Routine had despotic grievance reigns autocrat of to answer for. It was a target for the minds and acts of Britons. Pri- all sorts of missiles. Charity boys vate grievances are no longer toler- fleshed their pens on it ; penny-aated. The poor man's grievance, liners grew fat on it; it was a godwhich lay in his bosom, and was to send to stump-orators, and an object him as a daughter, is torn from him, of vituperation for everybody. Bull that the monster grievance may be was unmistakably aroused, and dean atom inore monstrous. All minor termined to be down on something. grievances fly to attach themselves Had his wrath descended on those to the leviathan grievance, as did the whom we take to have been the real nails of the royal Calender's ship to culprits, it is probable that they the exigeant mountain.
would have received a souvenir that This is not an everyday pbeno would have hung round their necks menon. It is rare as a grand epic, to the last day of their lives. But as the bloom of an aloe, or as when the red cloak was shown to him in Mrs Fruitful, mindful of the short the form of Routine : he rushed at ness of existence, compresses the the rag, while his cunning tormenwork of a lifetime into a few months, tors slunk away unscathed. and presents the enviable Fruitful It is well for a denounced object with four scions at a birth.
when it consists of many members, In 1854 and 1855, however, things or when, under the name of a scheme were much in this case. Every writer or system, all who are in any degree in a provincial paper, every toper on answerable for it are made to divide an alehouse bench, every beggar un- the odium. Like the corporations der a hedge, set forth his view of our felicitated by Lord Thurlow, collecwrongs, and his remedy for the evils tive bodies may outlive a degree of that afflicted us. The cries, discor- popular displeasure which would dant at first, began soon to sound overwhelm an individual. And it more and more in unison, till at last was well for all connected with Routhey were all modulated to a com- tine that when the general fury demon note, and syllabled their sounds scended on it their name was Legion. into the name of Routine. Voracious Some were prostrated by the storm ; as the rod of Aaron, Routine devoured some bent before it ; but a large small abominations, and monopolised majority repudiated the thing--dethe public odium. Routine, as we clared that they had exercised it only used to say in Persia, was the father under pressure and under protest; and grandfather of mismanagement. and, to evince their zeal in its supRoutine thwarted the design of Smith pression, initiated and boasted of of Birmingham for the early reduc- a wild disorder which would have tion of Sebastopol, the excellence of turned any system into a chaos. which is attested in letters from the Whether any practical improvement Duke of Newcastle to this day in took place in the working of the Smith's possession. Routine pre- public departments is more than we vented that great contract calculated can answer for. Another Secretary at two plums to Brown, not to of State has been called to office and mention the inestimable benefit to pay; the Ordnance has ceased to Brown's beloved country. Routine exist; dozens of new offices have acdebarred Ensign Robinson, of the quired a being, and dozens of others Chronicle, from proceeding to the are called by new names. But let East, taking command of the army, any man having a claim, project, or and at once gloriously terminating complaint to submit to the authothe campaign. Routine brought the rities, despatch his foolscap to Downcholera to Varna. Routine freighted ing Street, Pall-Mall, or Whitehall,