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WANLOCK of Manor looked had sneered at her pagan folly, with a puckered face at the but now the premonstration tiny jewel flaming in the hol- bore a different aspect; he was low of his hand, and, for the stunned with the news that his hour fors wearing piety, cursed law-plea with Paul Mellish of the lamented Lady Grace, his The Peel was lost, and that the sister, haut en bas, with all the bare expenses of that longfury of his bitter disappoint- protracted fight should cost ment. The harridan had her him all that was left of his revenge! last night he dreamt beggared fortunes. But that her envoys by their wailings was not the worst of it, for made the forest hideous; al- Mellish, as in pity of a helpless ready amongst the Shadows foe, had waived his admitted of the monstrous other world, claim to the swampy field she must be chuckling (if the which was the object of their Shades have laughter) through litigation. The first blow, her toothless gums at the surely, with a vengeance ! chagrin of her brother, for For a moment Wanlock, now the first of the seven shocks of assured of some uncanny esevil fortune had that moment sence in the jewel, thought to staggered him, and he was defend himself by its immediate smitten to the vitals in his destruction, and then he had a purse and pride.
craftier inspiration. He strode The brooch, so wretchedly across the room, threw up inadeqate as consolation for the window-sash, and bellowed the legacy he had long antici- upon Stephen, his idle son, pated, had seemed last night the spoiled monopolist of what as he peered at it with dubious love he had to spare. eyes a bauble wholly innocent, “You see this brooch ?” he and he had laughed at its said when the lad, with a grey sinister reputation, which in dog at his heels, came in with a last vagary of her spiteful a rakish swagger from his inhumour she had been at pains terrupted dalliance with the to apprise him of in a post- last maid (so to call her) left humous private letter. “Seven of Wanlock's retinue. shocks of dire disaster, and the They looked at it together last the worst,” he had read in as it lay in the father's hand the crabbed writing of the —& garnet, cut en cabochon, woman who, even in pros- smoothly rounded like a blob perity, could never pardon of claret by the lapidary, him his luckless speculation clasped by thin gold claws, with the money that was and the dog, with eyes askance, meant to be her dowry; he stood near them, wrapt in cogi
tations of a different world. evil genius dwelling in the Their heads went down upon jewel wrought its purpose with the gem : they stared in silence, appalling expedition. Somestrangely influenced by its eye- thing is in the air of our like shape and sullen glow, haunted North whose beaked that seemed to come less from sea promontories cleave the the polished surface than from wind and foam, that carries a cynic spirit inward, animate the hint of things impending It had the look of age: had to all who have boding fears glowed on the breasts of high- or hateful speculations, and scarfed dandies, pinned the Wanlock knew some blow had screens on girlish bosoms flat fallen on his enemy while yet now in the dust, known the were no human tidings. The dear privacies of love and pyots chattered garrulous as passion, lurked in the dusk women on the walls : the rooks of treasuries, kept itself un- that flew across the grey stormspotted, indifferent, unchanged bitten country were in clangthrough the flux of human ing bands, possessed of rumours generations. Lord! that men’s which they shared at first with lives should be so short and the the careering clouds alone, for objects of their fashioning so men are the last of all created permanent !
things to learn of their own “It may be braw, but it's disasters. no' very bonny,” at the last He went eagerly out and quo' Stephen Wanlock. came on other harbingers. A
“I want ye,” said his father, horseman galloped down the “to take it now with — with glen—"The Peel! The Peel!” my assurance of regard and- he cried, as he thundered past and gratitude to Mellish of The with his head across his shoulPeel. He has a craze for such der—“They have broken The gewgaws, with no small part Peel!” A running gipsy with of his money, they tell me, sunk a mountain of shining cans in their collection. You can a-clatter on his back skulked say it has the reputation of into the wood as
the wood as Wanlock a charm.”
came upon him, and harried Young Wanlock posted off forth by the dog, stood on the on this pleasant mission, with highway wildly protesting ina chuck below the chin for the nocence. maid in passing, and his father, “Who blamed ye?” queried walking in the afternoon be- Wanlock. “What has haptween the dishevelled shrub- pened?" beries of his neglected policies, “I declare to my God I know felt at times among the anguish nothing of it!" cried the man of his situation & soothing in an excess of apprehension,
a sense of other ills averted and but The Peel, they say, was transferred to one whom now broken into
the he hated worse than ever. night.”
so !” said It seemed next day as if the Wanlock, kindling. i. The
“ Ha ! say ye
wicked flee when
she asked him, breathing deeppursueth: ye run gey fast, I ly, with a wan and troubled think, for innocence,” and he aspect. fixed a piercing gaze upon the He held up an arresting wretch, who drew his hand hand, and “Hush !” he said, across his throat and held it “there is something curious in up to heaven.
the wood. . . . Did ye not hear “But it is none of my affair, it? Something curious in the begone!” said Wanlock, and wood. . . . In the wood. . . the gipsy clattered on his Did ye not did ye not way.
hear it?” and his head sank Wanlook leaned upon his down upon his shoulders ; his cane, with the grey dog at his eyes went questing through heels, and let the exultation of the columns of the trees. the tidings well through all his Again the cry rose, farther being. The woods were sombre in the distance, burdened with round about him : silent and a sense of desolation. sad, bereft of voices, for it was “A bittern,” said Mirren ; the summer's end, and birds “it can only be a bittern.” were grieving their departed “Do ye think I have not children. And yet not wholly thought of that?" asked Wanstill, the forest, for in its dark lock. “Have ye ever heard a
, recesses something unexpress- bittern boom at this time of ive moved and muttered. His the year, and in the middle joy ebbed out, his new mis- of the day?' trusts beset him ; with a wave “I ave heard it once or of the hand he sent the dog twice at night of late,” said among the undergrowth, and his daughter. “It can only be when it disappeared, there rose a bittern, or some other creature among the tangle of the wood may be wounded. Do you know an eerie call, indefinite, de- that The Peel has been plunspondent, like a dirge. Had dered ? Last night the strongthe land itself a voice and room was broken into.” memory of a golden age of “ And robbed of the Mellish sunshine and eternal Spring, jewels ?” broke in Wanlock, thus might it be lamenting with exultant intuition. But still—but still 'twas not a “Yes, and a great collection voice of nature, rather to the of antique gems entrusted to ear of Wanlock like the utter- Mellish for the purpose of a ance of a creature lost in some monograph he was writing,” strange country looking for said the daughter. home and love. So call the “A monograph ?” asked fallen angels in the interspace, Wanlook, still with eyes bent remembering joys evanished. on the wood from which the
A hand fell on the listener's dog returned indifferent. shoulder : he flinched and “It is a book on gems he has turned to look in the face of been busy writing. his daughter Mirren.
Wanlook sneered. “A book!" “Have you heard the news ?” said he. “I'm thinking he'd VOL. CLXXXVI. -NO. MCXXX.
be better at some other busi- nights unhappy, and sent her ness. I find, myself, but the fleeing like a wild thing to the one Book needful; all the hills, or roving with a rebel others are but vanity, and heart in all the solitary places lead but to confusion. And he of the valley. At any other was pillaged, was he? Well, hour this spirit would have there's this, it might have been made him furious; to-day he a man who could afford it less, was elated at her news, and for Mellish was the wealthiest let her go. in the shire."
" But now he is the poor- His joy, however, was but est,” said the girl with pity. transitory. Searching with a “I'm told it means his utter candle late thatevening through ruin.'
his wine cellar among dusty “There's the money of the bins whose empty niches gloomGlasfurd girl to patch his ily announced the ebbing tide broken fortune with; they're of that red sea of pleasure, or long enough engaged if the its fictitious wave, that had clash of the countryside be swept so high on ancient jovial true,” said Wanlock, and his nights to the lips of many daughter blenched, while the generations of the guests of wailing cry rose up again be- Manor, a yellow glint as from yond the fir-tops on the moor
a reptile's eye fastened upon land edge.
him from a cobwebbed corner. Wanlock stood confused a He stared at it in horror and moment, then seized her by unbelief, closed in upon it with the arm.
“ Would yo have his guttering candle, warily, me vexed for him?” said he. and found himself once more “Now I—with your permission the owner of the brooch ! -look upon it as a dispensa- In the chill of the vault he tion. If Mellish is ruined, felt, for a moment, the convulDreghorn is the richest man sion of a mind confronted with in the countryside and the some vast mysterious power better match for you
whose breath was loathsome, “Dreghorn !” cried the girl deathly, redolent of dust and with scorn. “He danced at fraught with retribution, and my mother's wedding-—a can- fearing an
actual presence, kered, friendless miser!” almost shrieked when the flame
“ And he'll dance at of his candle was extinguished yours! There have been men in the draught of a slowly more spendthrift I'll admit, opening door. He stood all but you're not a Wanlock if trembling, with the jewel in in that respeot ye could not his hand: a mocking chuckle teach him better. He was at rose in the outer night: all the
again for ye yester- old eerie tales of childhood day
then were true! He heard apMirren put her fingers in proaching cautious footsteps; her ears ; she was used to a light was struck: a taper these importunities; they had flared, and he faced the ne'erlately made her days and do-well, his son !
the wine again, protested Stephen sullenly. “I Stephen?” he said with un- was observed, whether by man speakable sadness, for indeed or woman, beast or bogle, I the lad had been the apple of cannot tell, but I heard the his eye, and he knew too well laugh at my elbow, and I ran. his failing
It pattered at my heels, and “Not this time, father!” would have caught me if I had said the son, with some ef- not dropped my burden in the frontery in spite of his per- old Peel well." turbation. “There's damned “And there let it lie and little left between us : we're at rot!” exclaimed his father. the dregs of the old Bordeaux. “But you—oh, Stephen you I dropped—I dropped some- to be the robber! and bring on thing last time I was here, I me the second blow !” and the fancy, and I'm come to seek wine-vault rang with the blame for it.”
and lamentation of a shattered His father's cheek in the man. daytime would have ashened : The son was packed off on in the taper light it merely the morrow lest a worse thing shook and crinkled colourlessly should befall in a suspicion of like a
He held the his part in the fall of Mellish : brooch out in his hand, and his father paid the last penny asked, “Is that it, Stephen?” of his available money for the in the simple phrase of a man journey to the south: the search with his last illusion shattered, for the spoiler passed into other and the son confessed.
parts of the country, and was He had been shown to the speedily abandoned. When the strong-room when he carried hue and cry had ceased, old the brooch to Mellish: the sight Wanlock, professing to have of its contents and all their found the brooch on the roadpossibilities of life and pleasure side, sent it back to Mellish, had fevered him with desire: and waited with savage he had returned in cover of expectation for another denight and plundered the monstration of its power. treasure of The Peel.
He had not long to wait. “Oh, Lord !” cried Wanlock, The very day on which the “must I now pay teind to talisman was sent, the match hell ? He that begetteth a of Mellish with the Glasfurd fool doeth it to his own sorrow, girl-as rich as she was proud, and the father of a fool hath haughty, and ambitious—was no joy.' And where, my rogue, broken off by one who could have ye put your plunder?” not bring herself to marry a
“That is the worst of it," beggared man, and the tale, said Stephen : "you have it all by gossip amplified and renthere in your hand ! It lay dered almost laughable, went apart from the rest, and I put round the parish like a song. it in my pocket.”
'Twas Dreghorn brought the “A liar, too!” wailed Wan- news to Manor — the ancient look.
Wanlock broke “It is nothing but the truth,” bottle of wine and made the