It Is Never Too Late to Mend
Part 16 out of 17
She came to her father and told him what she had done, and kissed him,
and when he kissed her in return, that rare embrace seemed to her her
Meadows went home on wings--he was in a whirlwind of joy and triumph.
"Aha! what will not a strong will do?" He had no fears, no misgivings.
He saw she did not really like him even, but he would make her love
him! Let him once get her into his house and into his arms, by degrees
she should love him; ay, she should adore him! He held that a young
and virtuous woman cannot resist the husband who remains a lover,
unless he is a fool as well as a lover. She could resist a man, but
hardly the hearth, the marriage-bed, the sacred domestic ties, and a
man whose love should be always present, always ardent, yet his temper
always cool, and his determination to be loved unflinching.
With this conviction, Meadows had committed crimes of the deepest dye
to possess Susan. Villain as he was, it may be doubted whether he
would have committed these felonies had he doubted for an instant her
ultimate happiness. The unconquerable dog said to himself: "The day
will come that I will tell her how I have risked my soul for her; how
I have played the villain for her; and she shall throw her arms round
my neck, and bless me for committing all those crimes to make her so
happy against her will."
It remained to clinch the nail.
He came to Grassmere every day; and one night that the old man was
telling Susan and him how badly things were going with him, he said,
with a cheerful laugh: "I wonder at you, father-in-law, taking on that
way. Do you think Susan will let you be uncomfortable for want of a
thousand pounds or two?"
Now this remark was slyly made while Susan was at the other end of the
room, so that she could hear it, but was not supposed to. He did not
look at her for some time, and then her face was scarlet.
The next day he said privately to old Merton: "The day Susan and I go
to church together, you must let me take your engagements and do the
best I can with them."
"Ah, John, you are a friend! but it will take a pretty deal to set me
"How much? Two thousand?"
"More, I am afraid, and too much--"
"Too much for me to take out of my pocket for a stranger; but not for
my wife's father--not if it was ten times that."
From that hour Meadows had an ally at Grassmere, working heart and
soul to hasten the wedding-day.
Meadows longed for this day; for he could not hide from himself that
as a lover he made no advances. Susan's heart was like a globe of ice;
he could get no hold of it anywhere. He burned with rage when the
bitter truth was forced on him, that, with the topic of George
Fielding, he had lost those bright, animated looks of affection she
used to bestow on him, and now could only command her polite
attention, not always that. Once he ventured on a remonstrance--only
She answered coldly that she could not feign; indifferent she was to
everything on earth, indifferent she always should be. But for that
indifference she should never have consented to marry him. Let him
pause then, and think what he was doing, or, better still, give up
this folly, and not tie an icicle like her to an honest and warm heart
The deep Meadows never ventured on that ground again. He feared she
wanted to be off the marriage, and he determined to hurry it on. He
pressed her to name the day. She would not.
"Would she let him name it?"
Her father came to Meadows' assistance. "I'll name it," said he.
"Father! no! no!"
Old Merton then made a pretense of selecting a day. Rejected one day
for one reason, another for another, and pitched on a day only six
The next day Meadows bought the license. "I thought you would like
that better than being cried in church, Susan." Susan thanked him and
said, "Oh, yes."
That evening he had a note from her in which "she humbly asked his
pardon, but she could not marry him; he must excuse her. She trusted
to his generosity to let the matter drop, and forgive a poor
brokenhearted girl who had behaved ill from weakness of judgment, not
lightness of heart."
Two days after this, which remained unanswered, her father came to her
in great agitation and said to her: "Have you a mind to have a man's
death upon your conscience?"
"I have seen John Meadows, and he is going to kill himself. What sort
of a letter was that to write to the poor man? Says he, 'It has come
on me like a thunder-clap.' I saw a pistol on his table, and he told
me he wouldn't give a button to live. You ought to be ashamed of
yourself trifling with folks' hearts so."
"I trifle with folks' hearts! Oh! what shall I do!" cried Susan.
"Think of others as well as yourself," replied the old man in a rage.
"Think of me."
"Of you, dear father? Does not your Susan think of you?"
"No! what will become of me if the man kills himself? He is all I have
to look to, to save me from ruin."
"What, then?" cried Susan, coloring scarlet, "it is not his life you
care for, it is his means of being useful to us! Poor Mr. Meadows! He
has no friend but me. I will give you a line to him." The line
contained these words: "Forgive me."
Half an hour after receipt of it Meadows was at the farm. Susan was
going to make some faint apology. He stopped her and said: "I know you
like to make folk happy. I have got a job for you. A gentleman, a
friend of mine in Cheshire, wants a bailiff. He has written to me. A
word from me will do the business. Now is there any one you would like
to oblige? The place is worth five hundred a year." Susan was grateful
to him for waiving disagreeable topics. She reflected and said: "Ah!
but he is no friend of yours."
"What does that matter if he is yours?"
"With all my heart. Only my name must not be mentioned. You are right.
He can marry on this. They would both have starved in 'The Grove.'"
Thus he made the benevolent girl taste the sweets of power. "You will
be asked to do many a kind action like this when you are Mrs.
Meadows." So he bribed father and daughter each after their kind.
The offer came in form from the gentleman to Will Fielding. He and
Miss Holiday had already been cried in church. They were married, and
went off to Cheshire.
So Meadows got rid of Will Fielding at a crisis. When it suited his
strategy he made his enemy's fortune with as little compunction as he
would have ruined him. A man of iron! Cold iron, hot iron, whatever
iron was wanted.
Mr. and Mrs. Fielding gone off to Cheshire, and Mrs. Holiday after
them on a visit of domestic instruction, Meadows publicly announced
his approaching marriage with Miss Merton. The coast being clear, he
clinched the last nail. From this day there were gusts of repugnance,
but not a shadow of resistance on Susan's side. It was to be.
The weather was fine, and every evening this man and woman walked
together. The woman envied by all the women; the man by all the men.
Yet they walked side by side like the ghosts of lovers. And, since he
was her betrothed, one or two iron-gray hairs in the man's head had
turned white, and lines deepened in his face. The victim had
unwittingly revenged herself.
He had stabbed her heart again and again, and drained it. He had
battered this poor heart till it had become more like leather than
flesh and blood, and now he wanted to nestle in it and be warmed by
it. To kill the affections and revive them at will. No!!!!
She tried to give happiness and to avoid giving pain, but her heart of
hearts was inaccessible. The town had capitulated, but the citadel was
empty yet impregnable. And there were moments when flashes of hate
mingled with the steady flame of this unhappy man's love, and he was
tempted to kill her and himself.
But these weaknesses passed like air, the iron purpose stood firm.
This day week they were to be married. Meadows counted the days and
exulted; he had faith in the magic ring. It was on this Monday evening
then they walked arm in arm in the field, and it so happened that
Meadows was not speaking of love, but of a scheme for making all the
poor people in Grassmere comfortable, especially of keeping the rain
out of their roofs and the wind out of what they vulgarly, but not
unreasonably, called their windys, and Susan's color was rising and
her eyes brightening at this the one interesting side marriage
offered--to make people happy near her and round about her, and she
cast a look of gratitude upon her companion--a look that, coming from
so lovely a face, might very well pass for love. While thus pleasantly
employed the pair suddenly encountered a form in a long bristling
beard, who peered into their faces with a singular expression of
strange and wild curiosity and anxiety, but did not stop; he was
making toward Farnborough.
Susan was a little startled. "Who is that?"
"I don't know."
"He looked as if he knew us."
"A traveler, I think, dearest. The folk hereabouts have not got to
wear those long beards yet."
"Why did you start when he passed us?"
"Did I start, Susan?"
"Your arm twitched me."
"You must have fancied it," replied Meadows, with a sickly smile;
"but, come, Susan, the dew is falling, you had better make toward
He saw her safe home, then, instead of waiting to supper as usual, got
his horse out and rode to the town full gallop.
"Any one been here for me?"
"Yes! a stranger."
"With a long beard?"
"Why, yes, he had."
"He will come again?"
"In half an hour."
"Show him into my room when he comes, and admit no one else."
Meadows was hardly seated in his study and his candles lighted when
the servant ushered in his visitor.
"Shut both the doors, and you can go to bed. I will let Mr. Richards
"Well, we have done the trick between us, eh?"
"What made you come home without orders?" asked Meadows, somewhat
"Why, you know as well as me, sir; you have seen them?"
"George Fielding and his mate."
Meadows started. "How should I see them?"
"Sir! Why, they are come home. They gave me the slip, and got away
before me. I followed them. They are here. They must be here."
Crawley, not noticing Meadows' face, went on. "Sir, when I found they
had slipped out of the camp on horseback, and down to Sydney, and saw
them with my own eyes go out of the harbor for England, I thought I
should have died on the spot. I thought I should never have the
courage to face you, but when I met you arm in arm, her eye smiling on
you, I knew it was all right then. When did the event come off?"
"The marriage, sir--you and the lady. She is worth all the trouble she
has given us."
"You fool," roared Meadows, "we are not married. The wedding is to be
this day week!" Crawley started and gasped, "We are ruined, we are
"Hold your bawling," cried Meadows, fiercely, "and let me think." He
buried his face in his hands; when he removed them, he was gloomy but
self-possessed. "They are not in England, Crawley, or we should have
seen them. They are on the road. You sailed faster than they; passed
them at night, perhaps. They will soon be here. My own heart tells me
they will be here before Monday. Well, I will beat them still. I will
be married Thursday next." The iron man then turned to Crawley, and
sternly demanded how he had let the man slip.
Crawley related all, and as he told his tale the tone of Meadows
altered. He no longer doubted the zeal of his hireling. He laid his
hand on his brow and more than once he groaned and muttered
half-articulate expressions of repugnance. At the conclusion he said
moodily: "Crawley, you have served me well--too well! All the women
upon earth were not worth a murder, and we have been on the brink of
several. You went beyond your instructions."
"No, I did not," replied Crawley; "I have got them in my pocket. I
will read them to you. See! there is no discretion allowed me. I was
to bribe them to rob."
"Where do I countenance the use of deadly weapons?"
"Where is there a word against deadly weapons?" asked Crawley,
sharply. "Be just to me, sir," he added in a more whining tone. "You
know you are a man that must and will be obeyed. You sent me to
Australia to do a certain thing, and you would have flung me to
perdition if I had stuck at anything to do it. Well, sir, I tried
skill without force--look here," and he placed a small substance like
white sugar on the table.
"What is that?"
"Put that in a man's glass he will never taste it, and in half an hour
he will sleep you might take the clothes off his back. Three of us
watched months and months for a chance, but it was no go; those two
were teetotal or next door it."
"I wish I had never sent you out."
"Why," replied Crawley, "there is no harm done, no blood has been
spilled except on our own side. George Fielding is coming home all
right. Give him up the lady, and he will never know you were his
"What!" cried Meadows, "wade through all these crimes for nothing? Lie
and feign, and intercept letters, and rob and all but
assassinate---and fail? Wade in crime up to my middle, and then wade
back again without the prize! Do you see this pistol? it has two
barrels; if she and I are ever parted it shall be this way--I'll send
her to heaven with one barrel, and myself to hell with the other."
There was a dead silence! Crawley returned to their old relation, and
was cowed by the natural ascendency of the greater spirit.
"You need not look like a girl at me," said Meadows, "most likely it
won't come to that. It is not easy to beat me, and I shall try every
move man's wit can devise--this last," said he, in a voice of iron,
touching the pistol as it lay on the table.
There was another pause. Then Meadows rose and said calmly: "You look
tired, you shall have a bottle of my old port; and my own heart is
staggered, but it is only for a moment." He struck his hand upon his
breast, and walked slowly from the room. And Crawley heard his step
descend to the hall, and then to the cellar; and the indomitable
character of the man rang in his solid tread.
Crawley was uneasy. "Mr. Meadows is getting wildish; it frightens me
to see such a man as him burst out like that. He is not to be trusted
with a loaded pistol. Ah! and I am in his secrets, deep in his
secrets; great men sweep away little folk that know too much. I never
saw him with a pistol before." All this passing rapidly through his
head, Crawley pounced on the pistol, took off the caps, whipped out a
little bottle, and poured some strong stuff into the caps that
loosened the detonating powder directly; then with a steel pen he
picked it all out and replaced the caps, their virtue gone, before Mr.
Meadows returned with two bottles; and the confederates sat in close
conclave till the gray of morning broke into the room.
The great man gave but few orders to his subordinate, for this simple
reason, that the game had fallen into his own hands.
Still there was something for Crawley to do. He was to have an officer
watching to arrest Will Fielding on the old judgment should he, which
was hardly to be expected, come to kick up a row and interrupt the
wedding. And to-morrow he was to take out a writ against his
"father-in-law." Mr. Meadows played a close game. He knew that things
are not to be got when they are wanted. His plan was to have
everything ready that might be wanted long before it was wanted.
But most of the night passed in relation of what had already taken
place, and Crawley was the chief speaker, and magnified his services.
He related from his own point of view all that I have told, and
Meadows listened with all his soul and intelligence.
At the attack on Mr. Levi, Meadows chuckled. "The old heathen," said
he, contemptuously, "I have beat him anyway."
"By the way, sir, have you seen anything of him?" asked Crawley.
"He is not come home, then."
"Not that I know of; have you any reason to think he has?"
"No, only he left the mine directly after they pelted him; but he
would not leave the country any the more for that, and money to be
made in it by handfuls."
"Now, Crawley, go and get some sleep. A cold bath for me and then on
horseback. I must breakfast at Grassmere."
"Great man, sir! great man! You will beat them yet, sir. You have beat
Mr. Levi. Here we are in his house; and he driven away to lay his sly
old bones at the Antipodes. Ha! ha! ha!"
The sun came in at the window, and the long conference broke up, and,
strange to say, it broke into three. Crawley home to sleep. Meadows to
Grassmere. Isaac Levi to smoke an Eastern pipe, and so meditate with
more tranquil pulse how to strike with deadliest effect these two, his
_Siste viator_--and guess that riddle.
ISAAC LEVI, rescued by George Fielding, reached his tent smarting with
pain and bitter insult; he sat on the floor pale and dusty, and
anathematized his adversaries in the Hebrew tongue. Wrath still
boiling in his heart, he drew out his letters and read them. Then
grief mingled with his anger. Old Cohen, his friend and agent and
coeval, was dead. Another self dead.
Besides the hint that this gave him to set his house in order, a
distinct consideration drew Isaac now to England. He had trusted much
larger interests to old Cohen than he was at all disposed to leave in
the hands of Cohen's successors, men of another generation, "progeniem
vitiosiorem," he sincerely believed.
Another letter gave him some information about Meadows that added
another uneasiness to those he already felt on George's account. Hence
his bitter disappointment when he found George gone from the mine, the
date of his return uncertain. Hence, too, the purchase of Moore's
horses, and the imploring letter to George--measures that proved
invaluable to that young man, whose primitive simplicity and wise
humility led him not to question the advice of his elder, but obey it.
And so it was that, although the old Jew sailed home upon his own
interests, yet during the voyage George Fielding's assumed a great
importance, direct and incidental. Direct, because the old man was
warm with gratitude to him; indirect, because he boiled over with hate
of George's most dangerous enemy. And, as he neared the English coast,
the thought that though he was coming to Farnborough he could not come
home, grew bitterer and bitterer, and then that he should find his
enemy and his insulter in the very house sacred by the shadows of the
beloved and dead!!
Finding in Nathan a youth of no common fidelity and shrewdness, Isaac
confided in him; and Nathan, proud beyond description of the
confidence bestowed on him by one so honored in his tribe, enlisted in
his cause with all the ardor of youth tempered by Jewish address.
Often they sat together on the deck, and the young Jewish brain and
the old Jewish brain mingled and digested a course of conduct to meet
every imaginable contingency; for the facts they at present possessed
were only general and vague.
The first result of all this was that these two crept into the town of
Farnborough at three o'clock one morning; that Isaac took out a key
and unlocked the house that stood next to Meadows' on the left hand;
that Isaac took secret possession of the first floor, and Nathan open
but not ostentatious possession of the ground-floor, with a tale
skillfully concocted to excite no suspicion whatever that Isaac was in
any way connected with his presence in the town. Nathan, it is to be
observed, had never been in Farnborough before.
The next morning they worked. Nathan went out, locking the door after
him, to execute two commissions. He was to find out what the young
Cohens were doing, and how far they were likely to prove worthy of the
trust reposed in their father; and what Susan Merton was doing, and
whether Meadows was courting her or not. The latter part of Nathan's
task was terribly easy.
The young man came home late at night, locked the door, made a
concerted signal, and was admitted to the senior presence. He found
him smoking his Eastern pipe. Nathan with dejected air told him that
he had good news; that the Cohens not only thought themselves wiser
than their father, which was permissible, but openly declared it,
which he, though young, had observed to be a trait confined to very
"It is well said, my son," quoth Isaac, smoking calmly, "and the other
"Oh, master!" said Nathan, "I bring still worse tidings of her. She is
a true Nazarite, a creature without faith. She is betrothed to the man
you hate, and whom I, for your sake, hate even to death."
They spoke in an Eastern dialect, which I am paraphrasing here and
translating there, according to the measure of my humble abilities.
Isaac sucked his pipe very fast; this news was a double blow to his
feelings. "If she be indeed a Nazarite without faith, let her go; but
judge not the simple hastily. First, let me know how far woman's
frailty is to blame; how far man's guile--for not for nothing was
Crawley sent out to the mine by Meadows. Let me consider;" and he
smoked calmly again.
After a long silence, which Nathan was too respectful to break, the
old man gave him his commission for to-morrow. He was to try and
discover why Susan Merton had written no letters for many months to
George; and why she had betrothed herself to the foe. "But reveal
nothing in return," said Isaac, "neither ask more than three questions
of any one person, lest they say, 'Who is this that being a Jew asks
many questions about a Nazarite maiden, and why asks he them?'"
At night Nathan returned full of intelligence. She loved the young man
Fielding. She wrote letters to him and received letters from him,
until gold was found in Australia. But after this he wrote to her no
more letters, wherefore her heart was troubled.
"Ah! and did she write to him?"
"Yes! but received no answer, nor any letter for many months."
"Then came a rumor that he was dead, and she mourned for him after the
manner of her people many days. Verily, master, I am vexed for the
Nazarite maiden, for her tale is sad. Then came a letter from
Australia, that said he is not dead, but married to a stranger. Then
the maiden said: 'Behold now this twelve months he writes not to me,
this then is true'; and she bowed her head, and the color left her
cheek. Then this Meadows visited her, and consoled her day by day. And
there are those who confidently affirm that her father said often to
her, 'Behold now I am a man stricken in years, and the man Meadows is
rich'; so the maiden gave her hand to the man, but whether to please
the old man her father, or out of the folly and weakness of females,
thou, O Isaac, son of Shadrach, shalt determine; seeing that I am
young, and little versed in the ways of women, knowing this only by
universal report, that they are fair to the eye but often bitter to
"Aha!" cried Isaac, "but I am old, O Nathan, son of Eli, and with the
thorns of old age comes one good fruit, 'experience.' No letters came
to him, yet she wrote many. None came to her, yet he wrote many. All
this is transparent as glass--here has been fraud as well as guile."
Nathan's eye sparkled. "What is the fraud, master?"
"Nay, that I know not, but I will know!"
"But how, master?"
"By help of thine ears, or my own!"
Nathan looked puzzled. So long as Mr. Levi shut himself up a close
prisoner on the first floor what could he hear for himself?
Isaac read the look and smiled. He then rose, and, putting his finger
to his lips, led the way to his own apartments. At the staircase-door,
which even Nathan had not yet passed, he bade the young man take off
his shoes; he himself was in slippers. He took Nathan into a room, the
floor of which was entirely covered with mattresses. A staircase, the
steps of which were covered with horsehair, went by a tolerably easy
slope and spiral movement nearly up to the cornice. Of this cornice a
portion about a foot square swung back on a well-oiled hinge, and
Isaac drew out from the wall with the utmost caution a piece of
gutta-percha piping, to this he screwed on another piece open at the
end, and applied it to his ear.
Nathan comprehended it all in a moment. His master could overhear
every word uttered in Meadows' study. Levi explained to him that ere
he left his old house he had put a new cornice in the room he thought
Meadows would sit in, a cornice so deeply ornamented that no one could
see the ear he left in it, and had taken out bricks in the wall of the
adjoining house and made the other arrangements they were inspecting
together. Mr. Levi further explained that his object was simply to
overhear and counteract every scheme Meadows should form. He added
that he never intended to leave Farnborough for long. His intention
had been to establish certain relations in that country, buy some
land, and return immediately; but the gold discovery had detained him.
"But, master," said Nathan, "suppose the man had taken his business to
the other side of his house?"
"Foolish youth," replied Isaac, "am I not on both sides of him!!"
"Ah! What, is there another on the other?" Isaac nodded.
Thus, while Nathan was collecting facts, Isaac had been watching,
"patient as a cat, keen as a lynx," at his ear-hole, and
Now the next day Nathan came in hastily long before the usual hour.
"Master, another enemy is come--the man Crawley! I saw him from the
window; he saw not me. What shall I do?"
"Keep the house all day. I would not have him see you. He would say,
'Aha! the old Jew is here, too.'" Nathan's countenance fell. He was a
prisoner now as well as his master.
The next morning, rising early to prepare their food, he was surprised
to find the old man smoking his pipe down below.
"All is well, my son. My turn has come. I have had great patience, and
great is the reward." He then told him with natural exultation the
long conference he had been secretly present at between Crawley and
Meadows--a conference in which the enemy had laid bare, not his guilt
only, but the secret crevice in his coat of mail. "She loves him not!"
cried Levi, with exultation. "She is his dupe! With a word I can
separate them and confound him utterly."
"Oh, master!" cried the youth eagerly, "speak that word to-day, and
let me be there and hear it spoken if I have favor in your eyes."
"Speak it to-day!" cried Levi, with a look of intense surprise at
Nathan's simplicity. "Go to, foolish youth!" said he; "what, after I
have waited months and months for vengeance, would you have me fritter
it away for want of waiting a day or two longer? No, I will strike,
not the empty cup from his hand, but the full cup from his lips. Aha!
you have seen the Jew insulted and despised in many lands; have
patience now and you shall see how he can give blow for blow; ay! old,
and feeble, and without a weapon, can strike his adversary to the
Nathan's black eye flashed. "You are the master, I the scholar," said
he. "All I ask is to be permitted to share the watching for your
enemy's words, since I may not go abroad while it is day."
Thus the old and young lynx lay in ambush all day. And at night the
young lynx prowled, but warily, lest Crawley should see him; and every
night brought home some scrap of intelligence.
To change the metaphor, it was as though while the Western spider wove
his artful web round the innocent fly, the Oriental spider wove
another web round him, the threads of which were so subtle as to be
altogether invisible. Both East and West leaned with sublime faith on
their respective gossamers. nor remembered that "Dieu dispose."
MEADOWS rode to Grassmere, to try and prevail with Susan to be married
on Thursday next, instead of Monday. As he rode he revolved every
argument he could think of to gain her compliance. He felt sure she
was more inclined to postpone the day than to advance it, but
something told him his fate hung on this: "These two men will come
home on Monday. I am sure of it. Ay, Monday morning, before we can
wed. I will not throw a chance away; the game is too close." Then he
remembered with dismay that Susan had been irritable and snappish just
before parting yester eve--a trait she had never exhibited to him
before. When he arrived, his heart almost failed him, but after some
little circumlocution and excuse he revealed the favor, the great
favor, he was come to ask. He asked it. She granted it without the
shade of a demur. He was no less surprised than delighted, but the
truth is that very irritation and snappishness of yesterday was the
cause of her consenting; her conscience told her she had been unkind,
and he had been too wise to snap in return. So now he benefited by the
reaction and little bit of self-reproach. For do but abstain from
reproaching a good girl who has been unjust or unkind to you, and ten
to one if she does not make you the _amemde_ by word or deed--most
likely the latter, for so she can soothe her tender conscience without
grazing her equally sensitive pride. Poor Susan little knew the
importance of the concession she made so easily.
Meadows galloped home triumphant. But two whole days now between him
and his bliss! And that day passed and Tuesday passed. The man lived
three days and nights in a state of tension that would have killed
some of us or driven us mad; but his intrepid spirit rode the billows
of hope and fear like a petrel. And the day before the wedding it did
seem as if his adverse fate got suddenly alarmed and made a desperate
effort and hurled against him every assailant that could be found. In
the morning came his mother, and implored him ere it was too late to
give up this marriage. "I have kept silence, yea even from good
words," said the aged woman; "but at last I must speak. John, she does
not love you. I am a woman and can read a woman's heart; and you
fancied her long before George Fielding was false to her, if false he
ever was, John."
The old woman said the whole of this last sentence with so much
meaning that her son was stung to rage, and interrupted her fiercely:
"I looked to find all the world against me, but not my own mother. No
matter, so be it; the whole world shan't turn me, and those I don't
care to fight I'll fly."
And he turned savagely on his heel and left the old woman there
shocked and terrified by his vehemence. She did not stay there long.
Soon the scarlet cloak and black bonnet might have been seen wending
their way slowly back to the little cottage, the poor old tidy bonnet
drooping lower than it was wont. Meadows came back to dinner; he had a
mutton-chop in his study, for it was a busy day. While thus employed
there came almost bursting into the room a man struck with
remorse--Jefferies, the recreant postmaster.
"Mr. Meadows, I can carry on this game no longer, and I won't for any
man living!" He then in a wild, loud, and excited way went on to say
how the poor girl had come a hundred times for a letter, and looked in
his face so wistfully, and once she had said: "Oh, Mr. Jefferies, do
have a letter for me!" and how he saw her pale face in his dreams, and
little he thought when he became Meadows' tool the length the game was
to be carried.
Meadows heard him out; then simply reminded him of his theft, and
assured him with an oath that if he dared to confess his villainy--
"My villainy?" shrieked the astonished postmaster.
"Whose else? You have intercepted letters--not I. You have abused the
public confidence--not I. So if you are such a fool and sneak as to
cut your throat by peaching on yourself, I'll cry louder than you, and
I'll show you have emptied letters as well as stopped them. Go home to
your wife, and keep quiet, or I'll smash both you and her."
"Oh, I know you are without mercy, and I dare not open my heart while
I live; but I will beat you yet, you cruel monster. I will leave a
note for Miss Merton, confessing all, and blow out my brains to-night
in the office."
The man's manner was wild and despairing. Meadows eyed him sternly. He
said with affected coolness: "Jefferies, you are not game to take your
"Ain't I?" was the reply.
"At least I think not."
"To-night will show."
"I must know that before night," cried Meadows, and with the word he
sprang on Jefferies and seized him in a grasp of iron, and put a
pistol to his head.
"Ah! no! Mr. Meadows. Mercy! mercy!" shrieked the man, in an agony of
"All right," said Meadows, coolly putting up the pistol. "You half
imposed on me, and that is something for you to brag of. You won't
kill yourself, Jefferies; you are not the stuff. Give over shaking
like an aspen, and look and listen. You are in debt. I've bought up
two drafts of yours--here they are. Come to me to-morrow, after the
wedding, and I will give you them to light your pipe with."
"Oh, Mr. Meadows, that would be one load off my mind."
"You are short of cash, too; come to me--after the wedding, and I'll
give you fifty pounds cash."
"You are very liberal, sir. I wish it was in a better cause."
"Now go home, and don't be a sneak and a fool--till after the wedding,
or I will sell the bed from under your wife's back, and send you to
the stone-jug. Be off."
Jefferies crept away, paralyzed in heart, and Meadows, standing up,
called out in a rage: "Are there any more of you that hope to turn
John Meadows? then come on, come a thousand strong, with the devil at
your back--and then I'll beat you!" And for a moment the respectable
man was almost grand; a man-rock standing braving earth and heaven.
"Hist! Mr. Meadows." He turned, and there was Crawley. "A word, sir.
Will Fielding is in the town, in such a passion."
"Come to stop the wedding?"
"He was taking a glass of ale at the 'Toad and Pickax,' and you might
hear him all over the yard."
"What is he going to do?"
"Sir, he has bought an uncommon heavy whip; he was showing it in the
yard. 'This is for John Meadows' back,' said he, 'and I will give it
him before the girl he has stolen from my brother. If she takes a dog
instead of a man, it shall be a beaten dog,' says he."
Meadows rang the bell. "Harness the mare to the four-wheeled chaise.
You know what to do, Crawley."
"Well, I can guess."
"But first get him told that I am always at Grassmere at six o'clock."
"But you won't go there this evening, of course."
"Aren't you afraid he--"
"Afraid of Will Fielding? Why, you have never looked at me. I do
notice your eyes are always on the ground. Crawley, when I was
eighteen, one evening (it was harvest home, and all the folk had drunk
their wit and manners out) I found a farmer's wife in a lane, hemmed
in by three great ignorant brutes that were for kissing her, or some
nonsense, and she crying help and murder and ready to faint with
fright. It was a decent woman, and a neighbor, so I interfered as
thus: I knocked the first fellow senseless on his back with a blow
before they knew of me, and then the three were two. I fought the two,
giving and taking for full ten minutes, and then I got a chance and
one went down. I put my foot on his neck and kept him down for all he
could do, and over his body I fought the best man of the lot, and
thrashed him so that his whole mug was like a ball of beetroot. When
he was quite sick he ran one way, and t'other got up roaring and ran
another, and they had to send a hurdle for No. 1. Dame Fielding gave
me of her own accord what all the row was about, and more than one,
and hearty ones, too, I assure you, and had me in to supper, and told
her man, and he shook my hand a good one."
"Why, sir, you don't mean to say the woman you fought for was Mrs.
"But I tell you it was, and I had those two boys on my knee, two
chubby toads, pulling at my curly hair--! why do I talk of these
things? Oh, I remember, it was to show you I am not a man that can be
bullied. I am a much better man than I was at eighteen. I won't be
married in a black eye if I can help it. But, when I am once married,
here I stand against all comers, and if you hear them grumble or
threaten you, tell them that any Sunday afternoon, when there is
nothing better to be done, I'll throw my cap into the ring and fight
all the Fieldings that ever were pupped, one down another come on."
Then turning quite cool and contemptuous all in a moment, he said,
"These are words, and we have work on hand;" and, even as he spoke, he
strode from the room pattered after by Crawley.
At six o'clock Meadows and Susan were walking arm in arm in the
garden. Presently they saw a man advancing toward them, with his right
hand behind him. "Why, it is Will Fielding," cried Susan, "come to
"I think not, by the look of him," replied Meadows, coolly.
"Susan, will you be so good as to take your hand from that man's arm.
I have got a word to say to him."
Susan did more than requested, seeing at once that mischief was
coming. She clung to William's right arm, and while he ground his
teeth with ineffectual rage, for she was strong, as her sex are
strong, for half a minute, and to throw her off he must have been much
rougher with her than he chose to be, three men came behind unobserved
by all but Meadows, and captured him on the old judgment. And, Crawley
having represented him as a violent man, they literally laid the grasp
of the law on him.
"But I have got the money to pay it," remonstrated William.
"Pay it, then."
"But my money is at home, give me two days. I'll write to my wife and
she will send it me." The officers, with a coarse laugh, told him he
must come with them meantime.
Meadows whispered Susan: "I'll pay it for him to-morrow."
They took off William Fielding in Meadows' four-wheeled chaise.
"Where are they taking him, John?"
"To the county jail."
"Oh, don't let them take him there. Can you not trust him?"
"Then why not pay for him?"
"But I don't carry money in my pocket, and the bank is closed."
"Very! but I'll send it over to-morrow early, and we will have him
"Oh, yes, poor fellow! the very first thing in the morning."
"Yes! the first thing--after we are married."
Soon after this Meadows bade Susan affectionately farewell, and rode
off to Newborough to buy his gloves and some presents for his bride.
On the road he overtook William Fielding going to jail, leaned over
his saddle as he cantered by, and said, "Mrs. Meadows will send the
money in to free you in the morning," then on again as cool as a
cucumber and cantered into the town before sunset, put up black Rachel
at the King's Head, made his purchases, and back to the inn. As he sat
in the bar-parlor drinking a glass of ale and chatting with the
landlady, two travelers came into the passage. They did not stop in it
long, for one of them knew the house and led his companion into the
coffee-room. But in that moment, by a flash of recognition, spite of
their bronzed color and long beards, Meadows had seen who they
were--George Fielding and Thomas Robinson.
Words could not paint in many pages what Meadows passed through in a
few seconds. His very body was one moment cold as ice, the next
The coffee-room door was open--he dragged himself into the passage,
though each foot in turn seemed glued to the ground, and listened. He
came back and sat down in the bar.
"Are they going to stay?" said the mistress to the waiter.
"Yes, to be called at five o'clock."
The bell rang. The waiter went and immediately returned. "Hot with,"
demanded the waiter, in a sharp, mechanical tone.
"Here, take my keys for the lump sugar," said the landlady, and she
poured first the brandy and then the hot water into a tumbler, then
went upstairs to see about the travelers' beds.
Meadows was left alone a few moments with the liquor. A sudden flash
came to Meadows' eye, he put his hand hastily to his waistcoat-pocket,
and then his eye brightened still more. Yes, it was there, he thought
he had had the curiosity to keep it by him. He drew out the white lump
Crawley had left on his table that night, and flung it into the glass
just as the waiter returned with the sugar.
The waiter took the brandy and water into the coffee-room. Meadows sat
still as a mouse, his brain boiling and bubbling--awestruck at what he
had done, yet meditating worse.
The next time the waiter came in, "Waiter," said he, "one glass among
two, that is short allowance."
"Oh! the big one is teetotal," replied the waiter.
"Mrs. White," said Meadows, "if you have got a bed for me I'll sleep
here, for my nag is tired and the night is darkish."
"Always a bed for you, Mr. Meadows," was the gracious reply.
Soon the two friends rang for bed-candles. Robinson staggered with
drowsiness. Meadows eyed them from behind a newspaper.
Half an hour later Mr. Meadows went to bed, too--but not to sleep.
AT seven o'clock in the morning Crawley was at Meadows' house by
appointment. To his great surprise the servant told him master had not
slept at home. While he was talking to her Meadows galloped up to the
door, jumped off, and almost pulled Crawley upstairs with him. "Lock
the door, Crawley." Crawley obeyed, but with some reluctance, for
Meadows, the iron Meadows, was ghastly and shaken as he had never been
shaken before. He sank into a chair. "Perdition seize the hour I first
saw her!" As for Crawley, he was paralyzed by the terrible agitation
of a spirit so much greater than his own.
"Crawley," said Meadows, with a sudden unnatural calm, "when the devil
buys a soul for money how much does he give? a good lump, I hear. He
values our souls high--we don't, some of us."
"Mr. Meadows, sir!"
"Now count those," yelled Meadows, bursting out again, and he flung a
roll of notes furiously on the ground at Crawley's feet, "count and
tell me what my soul has gone for. Oh! oh!"
Crawley seized them and counted them as fast as his trembling fingers
would let him. So now an eye all remorse, and another eye all greed,
were bent upon the same thing.
"Why, they are all hundred-pound notes, bright as silver from the Bank
of England. Oh, dear! how new and crimp they are--where do they come
"Ah! Oh, impossible! No! nothing is impossible to such a man as you.
"They are at Newborough--slept at 'King's Head,'" whispered Meadows.
"Good Heavens! think of that. Thirty--"
"So did I."
"Ah! forty--four thousand pounds."
"The lump of stuff you left here hocussed one--it was a toss-up--luck
was on my side--that one carried them--slept like death--long while
hunting--found them under his pillow at last."
"Well done! and we fools were always beat at it.
Sixty--one--two--five--seven. Seven thousand pounds."
"Seven thousand pounds! Who would have thought it? This is a dear job
"Say a dear job to them and a glorious haul to you; but you deserve it
"Why, you fool," cried Meadows, "do you think I am going to keep the
"Keep it? why, of course!"
"What! am I a thief? I, John Meadows, that never wronged a man of a
penny? I take his sweetheart, I can't live without her; but I can live
without his money. I have crimes enough on my head, but not theft,
there I say halt."
"Then why in the name of Heaven did you take them at such a risk?"
Crawley put this question roughly, for he was losing his respect for
"You are as blind as a mole, Crawley," was the disdainful answer.
"Don't you see that I have made George Fielding penniless, and that
now old Merton won't let him have his daughter? Why should he? He
said, 'If you come back with one thousand pounds.' And don't you see
that, when the writ is served on old Merton, he will be as strong as
fire for me and against him. He can't marry her at all now. I shall
soon or late, and the day I marry Susan that same afternoon seven
thousand pounds will be put in George Fielding's hand, he won't know
by whom, but you and I shall know. I am a sinner, but not a villain."
Crawley gave a dissatisfied grunt. Meadows struck a lucifer match and
lighted a candle. He placed the candle in the grate--it was warm
weather. "Come, now," said he coolly, "burn them; then they will tell
Crawley gave a shriek like a mother whose child is falling out of
window, and threw himself on his knees, with the notes in his hand
behind his back. "No! no! sir! Oh, don't think of it. Talk of crime,
what are all the sins we have done together compared with this? You
would not burn a wheat-rick, no, not your greatest enemy's; I know you
would not, you, are too good a man. This is as bad; the good money
that the bountiful Heaven has given us for--for the good of man."
"Come," said Meadows sternly, "no more of this folly," and he laid his
iron grasp on Crawley.
"Mercy! mercy! think of me--of your faithful servant, who has risked
his life and stuck at nothing for you. How ungrateful great men are!"
"Ungrateful! Crawley! Can you look me in the face and say that?"
"Never till now, but now I can;" and Crawley rose to his feet and
faced the great man. The prize he was fighting for gave him
supernatural courage. "To whom do you owe them? To me. You could never
have had them but for my drug. And yet you would burn them before my
eyes. A fortune to poor me."
"Yes! What does it matter to you what becomes of them so that _he_
never sees them again? but it matters all to me. Give them to me and
in twelve hours I will be in France with them. You won't miss me, sir.
I have done my work. And it will be more prudent, for since I have
left you I can't help drinking, and I might talk, you know, sir, I
might, and let out what we should both be sorry for. Send me away to
foreign countries where I can keep traveling, and make it always
summer. I hate the long nights when it is dark. I see such cu-u-rious
things. Pray! pray let me go and take these with me, and never trouble
The words, though half nonsense, were the other half cunning, and the
tones and looks were piteous. Meadows hesitated. Crawley knew too
much; to get rid of him was a bait; and after all to annihilate the
thing he had been all his life accumulating went against his heart. He
rang the bell. "Hide the notes, Crawley. Bring me two shirts, a razor,
and a comb. Crawley, these are the terms. That you don't go near that
woman--" Crawley, with a brutal phrase, expressed his delight at the
idea of getting rid of her forever. "That you go at once to the
railway. Station opens to-day. First train starts in an hour. Up to
London, over to France this evening."
"I will, sir. Hurrah! hurrah!" Then Crawley burst into protestations
of gratitude which Meadows cut short. He rang for breakfast, fed his
accomplice, gave him a great-coat for his journey, and took the
precaution of going with him to the station. There he shook hands with
him and returned to the principal street and entered the bank.
Crawley kept faith, he hugged his treasure to his bosom and sat down
waiting for the train. "Luck is on our side," thought he; "if this had
been open yesterday those two would have come on from Newborough."
He watched the preparations, they were decorating the locomotive with
bouquets and branches. They did not start punctually, some
_soi-disant_ great people had not arrived. "I will have a dram,"
thought Crawley; he went and had three. Then he came back and as he
was standing inspecting the carriages a hand was laid on his shoulder.
He looked round, it was Mr. Wood, a functionary with whom he had often
"Ah, Wood! how d'ye do? Going to make the first trip?"
"No, sir! I have business detains me in town."
"What! a capias, eh?" chuckled Crawley.
"Something of the sort. There is a friend of yours hard by wants to
speak a word to you."
"Come along, then. Where is he?"
"This way, sir."
Crawley followed Wood to the waiting-room, and there on a bench sat
Isaac Levi. Crawley stopped dead short and would have drawn back, but
Levi beckoned to a seat near him. Crawley came walking like an
automaton from whose joints the oil had suddenly dried. With infinite
repugnance he took the seat, not liking to refuse before several
persons who saw the invitation. Mr. Wood sat on the other side of him.
"What does it all mean?" thought Crawley, but his cue was to seem
indifferent or flattered.
"You have shaved your beard, Mr. Crawley," said Isaac, in a low tone.
"My beard! I never had one," replied Crawley, in the same key.
"Yes, you had when last I saw you--in the gold mine; you set ruffians
to abuse me, sir."
"Don't you believe that, Mr. Levi."
"I saw it and felt it."
The peculiarity of this situation was, that, the room being full of
people, both parties wished, each for his own reason, not to excite
general attention, and therefore delivered scarce above a whisper the
sort of matter that is generally uttered very loud and excitedly.
"It is my turn now," whispered Levi; "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a
"You must look sharp then," whispered Crawley; "to-morrow perhaps you
may not have the chance."
"I never postpone vengeance--when it is ripe."
"Don't you, sir? dear me."
"You have seven thousand pounds about you, Mr. Crawley."
Crawley started and trembled. "Stolen!" whispered Isaac in his very
ear. "Give it up to the officer."
Crawley rose instinctively. A firm hand was laid on each of his arms;
he sat down again. "What--what---ever money I have is trusted to me by
the wealthiest and most respectable man in the cou--nty, and--"
"Stolen by him, received by you! Give it to Wood, unless you prefer a
"You can't search me without a warrant."
"Here is a warrant from the mayor. Take the notes out of your left
breast and give them to the officer, or we must do it by force and
"I won't without Mr. Meadows' authority. Send for Mr. Meadows if you
dare." Isaac reflected. "Well! we will take you to Mr. Meadows. Keep
the money till you see him, but we must secure you. Put his coat over
his hands first." The great-coat was put over his hands, and the next
moment under the coat was heard a little sharp click.
"Let us go to the carriage," said Levi, in a brisk, cheerful tone.
Those present heard the friendly invitation and saw a little string of
acquaintances, three in number, break up a conversation and go and get
into a fly; one carried a great-coat and bundle before him with both
MR. MEADOWS went to the bank--into the parlor--and said he must draw
seven thousand pounds of cash and securities. The partners look blank.
"I know," said Meadows, "I should cripple you. Well, I am not going
to, nor let any one else--it would not suit my book. Just hand me the
securities and let me make over that sum to George Fielding and Thomas
Robinson. There! now for some months to come those two men are not to
know how rich they are, in fact not till I tell them." A very ready
consent to this was given by both partners; I am afraid I might say an
"There! now I feel another man, that is off me anyway," and Meadows
strode home double the man. Soon his new top-boots were on, and his
new dark blue coat with flat double-gilt buttons, and his hat broadish
in the brim, and he looked the model of a British yeoman; he reached
Grassmere before eleven o'clock. It was to be a very quiet wedding,
but the bridesmaids, etc., were there, and Susan all in white, pale
but very lovely. Father-in-law cracking jokes, Susan writhing under
"Now, then, is it to be a wedding without bells, for I hear none?"
"That it shall not," cried one of the young men; and off they ran to
Meantime Meadows was the life and soul of the mirthful scene. He was
in a violent excitement that passed with the rustics for gayety
natural to the occasion. They did not notice his anxious glances up
the hill that led to Newborough; his eager and repeated looks at his
watch, the sigh of relief when the church-bells pealed out, the
tremors of impatience, the struggle to appear cool as he sent one to
hurry the clerk, another to tell the clergyman the bride was ready;
the stamp of the foot when one of the bridesmaids took ten minutes to
tie on a bonnet. He walked arm in arm, with Susan waiting for this
girl; at last she was ready. Then came one running to say that the
parson was not come home yet. What it cost him not to swear at the
parson with Susan on his arm and the church in sight!
While he was thus fuming inwardly, a handsome, dark-eyed youth came up
and inquired which was the bride. She was pointed out to him. "A
letter for you, Miss Merton."
"For me? Who from?"
She glanced at the handwriting, and Meadows looked keenly in the boy's
face. "A Jew," said he to himself. "Susan, you have got your gloves
on." And in a moment he took the letter from her, but quietly, and
opened it as if to return it to her to read. He glanced down it, saw
"Jefferies, postmaster," and at the bottom "Isaac Levi." With
wonderful presence of mind he tore it in pieces. "An insult, Susan,"
he cried. "A mean, malignant insult to set you against me--a wife
against her husband."
Ere the words were out of his mouth he seized the young Jew and
whirled him like a feather into the hands of his friends. "Duck him!"
cried he. And in a moment, spite of his remonstrances and attempts at
explanation, Nathan was flung into the horse-pond. He struggled out on
the other side, and stood on the bank in a stupor of rage and terror,
while the bridegroom menaced him with another dose, should he venture
to return. "I will tell you all about it to-morrow, Susan."
"Calm yourself," replied Susan. "I know you have enemies, but why
punish a messenger for the letter he only carries?"
"You are an angel, Susan. Boys, let him alone, do you hear?" N. B. He
had been ducked.
And now a loud hurrah was heard from behind the church. "The parson,
at last," cried Meadows, exultingly. Susan lowered her eyes, and hated
herself for the shiver that passed through her. To her the parson was
It was not the parson. The next moment two figures came round in
sight. Meadows turned away with a groan. "George Fielding!" said he.
The words dropped, as it were, out of his mouth.
Susan misunderstood this. She thought he read her heart, and ascribed
her repugnance to her lingering attachment to George. She was angry
with herself for letting this worthy man see her want of pride. "Why
do you mention that name to me? What do I care for him who has
deceived me? I wish he stood at the church door, that he might see how
I would look at him and pass him leaning on your faithful arm."
"Susan!" cried a well-known voice behind her. She trembled and almost
crouched ere she turned; but the moment she turned round she gave a
scream that brought all the company running, and the bride forgot
everything at the sight of George's handsome, honest face beaming
truth and love, and threw herself into his arms. George kissed the
"Oh!" cried the bridesmaids, awaking from their stupor, and
remembering this was her old lover. "Oh!" "Oh!!" "Oh!!!" on an
These exclamations brought Susan to her senses. She sprang from George
as though an adder had stung her; and, red as fire, her eyes like
basilisks', she turned on him at a safe distance. "How dare you
embrace me? How dare you come where I am? Father, ask this man why he
comes here now to make me expose myself, and insult the honest man who
honors me with his respect. Oh, father, come to me, and take me away
"Susan, what on earth is this? what have I done?"
"What have you done? You are false to me! you never wrote me a letter
for twelve months, and you are married to a lady in Bathurst! Oh,
"If he is," cried Robinson, "he must be slyer than I give him credit
for, for I have never left his side night nor day, and I never saw him
say three civil words to a woman."
"Yes, Mr. Robinson. Somebody has been making a fool of you, Miss
Merton. Why, all his cry night and day has been, 'Susan! Susan!' When
we found the great nugget he kisses it, and says he, 'There, that is
not because you are gold, but because you take me to Susan.'"
"Hold your tongue, Tom," said George, sternly. "Who puts me on my
defense? Is there any man here who has been telling her I have ever
had a thought of any girl but her? If there is, let him stand out now
and say it to my face if he dares." There was a dead silence. "There
is a lie without a backer, it seems;" and he looked round on all the
company with his calm superior eye. "And now, Susan, what were you
doing on that man's arm?"
"Miss Merton and I are to be married to-day," said Meadows, "that is
why I gave her my arm."
George gasped for breath, but he controlled himself by a mighty
effort. "She thought me false, and now she knows I am true. Susan,"
faltered he, "I say nothing about the promises that have passed
between us two, and the ring you gave. Here it is."
"He has kept my ring!"
"I was there before you, Mr. Meadows--but I won't stand upon that; I
don't believe there is a man in the world loves a woman in the world
better than I love Susan; but still I would not give a snap of the
finger to have her if her will was toward another. So please yourself,
my lass, and don't cry like that; only this must end. I won't live in
doubt a moment, no, nor half a moment. Speak your pleasure and nothing
else; choose between John Meadows and George Fielding."
"That is fair," cried one of the bridegrooms. The women secretly
admired George. This is a man, thought they--won't stand our nonsense.
Susan looked up in mute astonishment. "What choice can there be? The
moment I saw your face, and truth still shining in it, I forgot there
was a John Meadows in the world!"
With these words Susan cast a terrified look all round, and, losing
every other feeling in a paroxysm of shame, hid her burning face in
her hands, and made a sudden bolt into the house and upstairs to her
room, where she was followed and discovered by one of her bridesmaids
tearing off her wedding-clothes, and laughing and crying all in a
1st Bridegroom. "Well, Josh, what d'ye think?"
2d Bridegroom. "Why, I think there won't be a wedding to-day."
1st Bridegroom. "No, nor to-morrow neither. Sal, put on your bonnet
and let's you and I go home. I came to Meadows' wedding; mustn't stay
to anybody's else's."
These remarks were delivered openly, _pro bono,_ and dissolved the
wedding party. Four principal parties remained--Meadows, old Merton,
and the two friends.
"Well, uncle, Susan has spoken her mind, now you speak yours."
"George, I have been an imprudent fool, I am on the brink of ruin. I
owe more than two thousand pounds. We heard you had changed your mind,
and Meadows came forward like a man, and said he would--"
"Your word, uncle, your promise. I crossed the seas on the faith of
it." An upper window was gently opened, and a blushing face listened,
and the hand that they were all discussing and disposing of drew back
a little curtain, and clutched it convulsively.
"You did, George," said the old farmer.
"Says you, 'Bring back a thousand pounds to show me you are not a
fool, and you shall have my daughter,' and she was to have your
blessing. Am I right, Mr. Meadows? you were present."
"Those were the words," replied Meadows.
"Well! and have you brought back the thousand pounds?"
"John, I must stand to my word; and I will--it is justice. Take the
girl, and be as happy as you can with her, and her father in the
"I take her, and that is as much as to say that neither her father nor
any one she respects shall go to the workhouse. How much is my share,
"Four thousand pounds."
"No, not so much."
"Yes, it is. Jacky gave you his share of the great nugget, and you
gave him sheep in return. Here they are, lads and lasses, seventy of
them varying from one five six naught to one six two nine, and all as
crimp as a muslin gown new starched. Why? I never put this," and he
took pieces of newspaper out of his pocketbook, and looked stupidly at
each as it came out.
"Robbed! oh! I put the book under my pillow, and there I found it this
morning. Robbed! robbed! Kill me, George, I have ruined you."
"I can't speak," gasped George. "Oh, what is the meaning of this?"
"But I can speak! Don't tell me of a London thief being robbed!!!
George Fielding, if you are a man at all, go and leave me and my
daughter in peace. If you had come home with money to keep her, I was
ready to give you Susan to my own ruin. Now it is your turn to show
yourself the right stuff. My daughter has given her hand to a man who
can make a lady of her, and set me on my legs again. You can only
beggar us. Don't stand in the poor girl's light; for pity's sake,
George, leave us in peace."
"You are right, old man; my head is confused;" and George put his hand
feebly to his brow. "But I seem to see it is my duty to go, and I'll
go." George staggered. Robinson made toward him to support him.
"There, don't make a fuss with me. There is nothing the matter with
me--only my heart is dead. Let me sit on this bench and draw my breath
a minute--and then--I'll go. Give me your hand, Tom. Never heed their
jibes. I'd trust you with more gold than the best of them was ever
Robinson began to blubber the moment George took his hand, spite of
the money lost. "We worked hard for it, too, good folks, and risked
our lives as well as our toil;" and George and Robinson sat hand in
hand upon the bench, and turned their heads away--that it was pitiful
But still the pair held one another by the hand, and George said,
faltering: "I have got this left me still. Ay, I have heard say that
friendship was better than love, and I dare say so it is."
As if to plead against this verdict, Susan came timidly to her lover
in his sorrow, and sat on his other side, and laid her head gently on
his shoulder. "What signifies money to us two?" she murmured. "Oh, I
have been robbed of what was dearer than life this bitter year, and
now you are down-hearted at loss of money. How foolish to grieve for
such nonsense when I am so hap--hap--happy!" and again the lovely face
rested light as down on George's shoulder, weeping deliciously.
"It is hard, Tom," gasped George; "it is bitter hard; but I shall find
a little bit of manhood by and by to do my duty. Give me breath! only
give me breath! We will go back again where we came from, Tom; only I
shall have nothing to work for now. Where is William, if you please?
Has he forgotten me, too?"
"William is in prison for debt," said old Merton, gravely.
"No, he is not," put in Meadows, "for I sent the money to let him out
an hour ago."
"You sent the money to let my brother out of jail? That sounds queer
to me. I suppose I ought to thank you, but I can't."
"I don't ask your thanks, young man."
"You see, George," said old Merton, "ours is a poor family, and it
will be a great thing for us all to have such a man as Mr. Meadows in
it, if you will only let us."
"Oh, father, you make me blush," cried Susan, beginning to get her
first glimpse of his character.
"He doesn't make me blush," cried George; "but he makes me sick. This
old man would make me walk out of heaven if he was in it. Come, let us
go back to Australia."
"Ay, that is the best thing you can do," cried old Merton.
"If he does, I shall go with him," said Susan, with sudden calmness.
She added, dropping her voice, "If he thinks me worthy to go anywhere
"You are worthy of better than that, and better shall be your luck;"
and George sat down on the bench with one bitter sob that seemed to
tear his manly heart in two.
There was a time Meadows would have melted at this sad sight, but now
it enraged him. He whispered fiercely to old Merton: "Touch him on his
pride; get rid of him, and your debts shall be all paid that hour; if
not--" He then turned to that heart-stricken trio, touched his hat,
"Good-day, all the company," said he, and strode away with rage in his
heart to set the law in motion against old Merton, and so drive
matters to a point.
But before he had taken a dozen steps he was met by two men who
planted themselves right before him. "You can't pass, sir."
Meadows looked at them with humorous surprise. They had hooked noses.
He did not like that so well.
"Why not?" said he, quietly, but with a wicked look.
One of the men whistled, a man popped out of the churchyard and joined
the two; he had a hooked nose. Another came through the gate from the
lane; another from behind the house. The scene kept quietly filling
with hooked noses till it seemed as if the ten tribes were
reassembling from the four winds.
"Are they going to pitch into me?" thought Meadows; and he felt in his
pocket to see if his pistol was there.
Meantime, George and Susan and Tom rose to their feet in some
"There is a chentleman coming to put a question or two," said the
first speaker. And, in fact, an old acquaintance of ours, Mr.
Williams, came riding up, and, hooking his horse to the gate, came in,
saying, "Oh, here you are, Mr. Meadows. There is a ridiculous charge
brought against you, but I am obliged to hear it before dismissing it.
Give me a seat. Oh, here is a bench. It is very hot. I am informed
that two men belonging to this place have been robbed of seven
thousand pounds at the 'King's Head'--the 'King's Heads in
"It is true, sir," cried Robinson, "but how did you know?"
"I am here to _ask_ questions," was the sharp answer. "Who are
"Which is George Fielding?"
"I am George Fielding, sir.
"Have you been robbed?"
"We have, sir."
"Of how much?"
"Seven thousand pounds."
"Come, that tallies with the old gentleman's account. Hum! where did
you sleep last night, Mr. Meadows?"
"At the 'King's Head' in Newborough, sir," replied Meadows, without
any visible hesitation.
"Well, that is curious, but I need not say I don't believe it is more
than coincidence. Where is the old gentleman? Oh! give way there, and
let him come here."
Now all this was inexplicable to Meadows, but still it brought a
deadly chill of vague apprehension over him. He felt as if a huge
gossamer net was closing round him. Another moment the only spider
capable of spinning it stood in front of him. "I thought so," dropped
from his lips as Isaac Levi and he stood once more face to face.
"I accuse that man of the theft. Nathan and I heard him tell Crawley
that he had drugged the young man's liquor and stolen the notes. Then
we heard Crawley beg for the notes, and after much entreaty he gave
"It is true!" cried Robinson, in violent agitation; "it must be true.
You know what a light sleeper I am, and how often you had to shake me
this morning. I was hocussed and no mistake!"
"Yes, your worship."
"Where were you, Mr. Levi, to hear all this?"
"In the east room of my house."
"And where was he?"
"In the west room of his house."
"It is impossible."
"Say not so, sir. I will show you it is true. Meantime I will explain
He explained his contrivance at full. Meadows hung his head; he saw
how terribly the subtle Oriental had outwitted him; yet his presence
of mind never for a moment deserted him.
"Sir," said he, "I have had the misfortune to offend Mr. Levi, and he
is my sworn enemy. If you really mean to go into this ridiculous
affair, allow me to bring witnesses, and I will prove to you he has
been threatening vengeance against me these two years--and you know a
lie is not much to a Jew. Does this appear likely? I am worth sixty
thousand pounds--why should I steal?"
"Why, indeed?" said Mr. Williams. "I stole these notes to give them
away--that is your story, is it?"
"Nay, you stole them to beggar your rival, whose letters to the maiden
he loved you had intercepted by fraud at the post-office in
Farnborough." Susan and George uttered an exclamation at the same
moment. "But, having stole them, you gave them to Crawley."
"How generous!" sneered Meadows. "Well, when you find Crawley with
seven thousand pounds, and he says I gave them him, Mr. Williams will
take your word against mine, and not till then, I think."
"Certainly not--the most respectable man for miles round!"
"So be it," retorted Isaac, coolly; "Nathan, bring Crawley." At that
unexpected word, Meadows looked round for a way to escape. The
hooked-nosed ones hemmed him in. Crawley was brought out of the fly,
quaking with fear.
"Sir," said Levi, "if in that man's bosom, on the left-hand side, the
missing notes are not found, let me suffer scorn; but, if they be
found, give us justice on the evil-doer."
The constable searched Crawley amid the intense anxiety of all
present. He found a bundle of notes. There was a universal cry.
"Stop, sir!" said Robinson, "to make sure I will describe our
property--seventy notes of one hundred pounds each. Numbers one five
six naught to one six two nine."
Mr. Williams examined the bundle, and at once handed them over to
Robinson, who shoved them hastily into George's hands and danced for
Mr. Williams looked ruefully at Meadows, then he hesitated; then,
turning sharply to Crawley, he said, "Where did you get these?"
Meadows tried to catch his eye and prevail on him to say nothing; but
Crawley, who had not heard Levi's evidence, made sure of saving
himself by means of Meadows' reputation.
"I had them from Mr. Meadows," he cried; "and what about it? it is not
the first time he has trusted me with much larger sums than that."
"Oh! you had them from Mr. Meadows?"
"Yes, I had!"
"Mr. Meadows, I am sorry to say I must commit you; but I still hope
you will clear yourself elsewhere."
"I have not the least uneasiness about that, sir, thank you. You will
admit me to bail, of course?"
"Impossible! Wood, here is a warrant, I will sign it."
While the magistrate was signing the warrant, Meadows' head fell upon
his breast; he seemed to collapse standing.
Isaac Levi eyed him scornfully. "You had no mercy on the old Jew. You
took his house from him, not for your need but for hate. So he made
that house a trap and caught you in your villainy."
"Yes! you have caught me," cried Meadows, "but you will never cage
me!" and in a moment his pistol was at his own temple and he pulled
the trigger--the cap failed; he pulled the other trigger, the other
cap failed. He gave a yell like a wounded tiger, and stood at bay
gnashing his teeth with rage and despair. Half a dozen men threw
themselves upon him, and a struggle ensued that almost baffles
description. He dragged those six men about up and down, some clinging
to his legs, some to his body. He whirled nearly every one of them to
the ground in turn; and, when by pulling at his legs they got him
down, he fought like a badger on his back, seized two by the throat,
and putting his feet under another drove him into the air doubled up
like a ball, and he fell on Levi and sent the old man into Mr.
Williams' arms, who sat down with a Jew in his lap, to the derangement
of his magisterial dignity.
At last he was mastered, and his hands tied behind him with two
"Take the rascal to jail!" cried Williams, in a passion. Meadows
groaned. "Ay! take me," said he, "you can't make me live there. I've
lived respected all these years, and now I shall be called a felon.
Take me where I may hide my head and die!" and the wretched man moved
away with feeble steps, his strength and spirit crushed now his hands
Then Crawley followed him, abusing and reviling him. "So this is the
end of all your maneuvering! Oh, what a fool I was to side with such a
bungler as you against Mr. Levi. Here am I, an innocent man, ruined
through knowing a thief--ah! you don't like that word, but what else
are you but a thief?" and so he followed his late idol and heaped
reproaches and insults on him, till at last Meadows turned round and
cast a vague look of mute despair, as much as to say, "How am I
fallen, when this can trample me!"
One of the company saw this look and understood it. Yielding to an
impulse he took three steps, and laid his hand on Crawley. "Ye little
snake," said he, "let the man alone!" and he sent Crawley spinning
like a teetotum; then turned on his own heel and came away, looking a
little red and ashamed of what he had done. My reader shall guess
which of the company this was.
Half way to the county jail Meadows and Crawley met William Fielding
It took hours and hours to realize all the happiness that had fallen
on two loving hearts. First had to pass away many a spasm of terror at
the wrongs they had suffered, the danger they had escaped, the long
misery they had grazed. They remained rooted to the narrow spot of
ground where such great and strange events had passed in a few
minutes, and their destinies had fluctuated so violently, and all
ended in joy unspeakable. And everybody put questions to everybody,
and all compared notes, and the hours fled while they unraveled their
own strange story. And Susan and George almost worshipped Isaac Levi;
and Susan kissed him and called him her father, and hung upon his neck
all gratitude. And he passed his hand over her chestnut hair, and
said, "Go to, foolish child," but his deep rich voice trembled a
little, and wonderful tenderness and benevolence glistened in that
He would now have left them, but nobody there would part with him;
behooved him to stay and eat fish and pudding with them--the meat they
would excuse him if he would be good and not talk about going again.
And after dinner George and Tom must tell their whole story; and, as
they told their eventful lives, it was observed that the hearers were
far more agitated than the narrators. The latter had been in a gold
mine; had supped so full of adventures and crimes and horrors that
nothing astonished them, and they were made sensible of the tremendous
scenes they had been through by the loud ejaculations, the pallor, the
excitement of their hearers. As for Susan, again and again during the
men's narratives the tears streamed down her face, and once she was
taken faint at George's peril, and the story had to be interrupted and
water sprinkled on her, and the men in their innocence were for not
going on with their part, but she peremptorily insisted, and sneered
at them for being so foolish as to take any notice of her
foolishness--she would have every word. After all was he not there
alive and well, sent back to her safe after so many perils, never,
never to leave England again!
"Oh, giorno felice!" A day to be imagined; or described by a pen a
thousand times greater and subtler than mine, but of this be sure--it
was a day such as, neither to Susan nor George, nor to you nor me, nor
to any man or woman upon earth, has ever come twice between the cradle
and the grave.
A MONTH of Elysium. And then one day George asked Susan, plump, when
it would be agreeable to her to marry him.
"Marry you, George?" replied Susan, opening her eyes; "why, never! I
shall never marry any one after--you must be well aware of that."
Susan proceeded to inform George, that, though foolishness was a part
of her character, selfishness was not; recent events had destroyed an
agreeable delusion under which she had imagined herself worthy to be
Mrs. George Fielding; she therefore, though with some reluctance,
intended to resign that situation to some wiser and better woman than
she had turned out. In this agreeable resolution she persisted,
varying it occasionally with little showers of tears unaccompanied by
the slightest convulsion of the muscles of the face. But, as I am not,
like George Fielding, in love with Susan Merton, or with
self-deception (another's), I spare the reader all the pretty things
this young lady said and believed and did, to postpone her inevitable
happiness. Yes, inevitable, for this sort of thing never yet kept
lovers long apart since the world was, except in a novel worse than
common. I will but relate how that fine fellow, George, dried "these
foolish drops" on one occasion.
"Susan," said he, "if I had found you going to be married to another
man with the roses on your cheek, I should have turned on my heel and
back to Australia. But a look in your face was enough; you were
miserable, and any old fool could see your heart was dead against it;
look at you now blooming like a rose, so what is the use of us two
fighting against human nature? we can't be happy apart--let us come
"Ah! George, if I thought your happiness depended on having--a foolish
"Why, you know it does," replied the inadvertent Agricola.
"That alters the case; sooner than _you_ should be unhappy--I
"Name the day, then."
In short the bells rang a merry peal, and to reconcile Susan to her
unavoidable happiness, Mr. Eden came down and gave an additional
weight (in her way of viewing things) to the marriage ceremony by
officiating. It must be owned that this favorable circumstance cost
her a few tears, too.
How so, Mr. Reade?
Marry, sir, thus: Mr. Eden was what they call eccentric; among his
other deviations from usage he delivered the meaning of sentences in
church along with the words.
This was a thunder-clap to poor Susan. She had often heard a chanting
machine utter the marriage service all on one note, and heard it with
a certain smile of unintelligent complacency her sex wear out of
politeness; but when the man Eden told her at the altar with simple
earnestness what a high and deep and solemn contract she was making
then and there with God and man, she began to cry, and wept like April
through the ceremony.
I have not quite done with this pair, but leave them a few minutes,
for some words are due to other characters, and to none, I think, more
than to this very Mr. Eden, whose zeal and wisdom brought our hero and
unheroine happily together through the subtle sequence of causes I
have related, the prime thread a converted thief.
Mr. Eden's strength broke down under the prodigious effort to defeat
the effect of separate confinement on the bodies and souls of his
prisoners. Dr. Gulson ordered him abroad. Having now since the removal
of Hawes given the separate and silent system a long and impartial
trial, his last public act was to write at the foot of his report a
solemn protest against it, as an impious and mad attempt to defy God's
will as written on the face of man's nature--to crush too those very
instincts from which rise communities, cities, laws, prisons,
churches, civilization--and to wreck souls and bodies under pretense
of curing souls, not by knowledge, wisdom, patience, Christian love,
or any great moral effort, but by the easy and physical expedient of
turning one key on each prisoner instead of on a score.
"These," said Mr. Eden, "are the dreams of selfish, lazy, heartless
dunces and reckless bigots, dwarf Robespierres, with self-deceiving
hearts that dream philanthropy, fluent lips that cant philanthropy and
hands swift to shed blood--which is not blood to them--because they
are mere sensual brutes, so low in intelligence that, although men are
murdered and die before their eyes, they cannot see it was murder,
because there was no knocking on the head or cutting of throats."
The reverend gentleman then formally washed his hands of the bloodshed
and reason-shed of the separate system, and resigned his office,
earnestly requesting at the same time that, as soon as the government
should come round to his opinion, they would permit him to co-operate
in any enlightened experiment where God should no longer be defied by
a knot of worms as in ---- Jail.
Then he went abroad, but though professedly hunting health he visited
and inspected half the principal prisons in Europe. After many months
events justified his prediction. The government started a large prison
on common sense and humanity, and Mr. Lacy's interest procured Mr.
Eden the place of its chaplain.
This prison was what every prison in the English provinces will be in
five years' time--a well-ordered community, an epitome of the world at
large, for which a prison is to prepare men, not unfit them as
frenzied dunces would do; it was also a self-sustaining community,
like the world. The prisoners ate prisoner-grown corn and meat, wore
prisoner-made clothes and bedding, wire lighted by gas made in the
prison, etc., etc., etc., etc. The agricultural laborers had out-door
work suited to their future destiny, and mechanical trades were
zealously ransacked for the city rogues. Anti-theft reigned
triumphant. No idleness, no wicked waste of sweat.
The members of this community sleep in separate cells, as men do in
other well-ordered communities, but they do not pine and wither and
die in cells for offenses committee outside the prison walls. Here, if
you see a man caged like a wild beast all day, you may be sure he is
there, not so much for his own good as for that of the little
community in which he has proved himself unworthy to mix _pro tem._
Foul language and contamination are checkmated here, not by the lazy,
selfish, cruel expedient of universal solitude, but by Argus-like
surveillance. Officers, sufficient in number, listen with sharp ears,
and look with keen eyes. The contaminator is sure to be seized and
confined till prudence, if not virtue, ties his tongue. Thus he is
disarmed, and the better-disposed encourage one another. Compare this
legitimate and necessary use of that most terrible of tortures, the
cell, with the tigro-asinine use of it in seven English prisons out of
nine at the present date. It is just the difference between arsenic as
used by a good physician and by a poisoner. It is the difference
between a razor-bladed, needle-pointed knife in the hands of a
Christian, a philosopher, a skilled surgeon, and the same knife in the
hands of a savage, a brute, a scoundrel, or a fanatical idiot.
Mr. Eden had returned from abroad but a fortnight when he was called
on to unite George and Susan.
I have little more to add than that he was very hard worked and
supremely happy in his new situation, and that I have failed to do him
justice in these pages. But he shall have justice one day, when
pitiless asses will find themselves more foul in the eyes of the
All-pure than the thieves they crushed under four walls, and "The just
shall shine forth as the sun, and they that turn* many to
righteousness as the stars forever and ever."
* Not crush.
Thomas Robinson did not stay long at Grassmere. Things were said in
the village that wounded him. Ill-repute will not stop directly
ill-conduct does. He went to see Mr. Eden, sent his name in as Mr.
Sinclair, was received with open arms, and gave the good man a glow of
happiness such as most of us, I fear, go to the grave without
feeling--or earning. He presented him a massive gold ring he had
hammered out of a nugget. Mr. Eden had never worn a ring in his life,
but he wore this with an innocent pride, and showed it people, and
valued it more than he would the Pitt diamond, which a French king
bought of an English subject, and the price was so heavy he paid for
it by installments spread over many years.
Robinson very wisely went back to Australia, and, more wisely still,
married Jenny, with whom he had corresponded ever since he left her.
I have no fear he will ever break the Eighth Commandment again. His
heart was touched long ago, and ever since then his understanding had
received conviction upon conviction; for, oh, the blaze of light that
enters our souls when our fate puts us in his place--in her place--in
their place--whom we used to strike, never realizing how it hurt them!
He is respected for his intelligence and good-nature; he is sober,
industrious, pushing and punctilious in business. One trait of the
Bohemian remains. About every four months a restlessness comes over
him; then the wise Jenny of her own accord proposes a trip. Poor Tom's
eyes sparkle directly; off they go together. A foolish wife would have
made him go alone. They come back, and my lord goes to his duties with
fresh zest till the periodical fit comes again. No harm ever comes of
Servants are at a great premium, masters at a discount, in the colony;
hence a domestic phenomenon, which my English readers can hardly
conceive, but I am told my American friends have a faint glimpse of it
in the occasional deportment of their "helps" in out-of-the-way
Now Tom, and especially Jenny, had looked forward to reigning in their
own house, and it was therefore a disappointment when they found
themselves snubbed and treated with hauteur, and Jenny revolted
against servant after servant, who straightway abdicated and left her
forlorn. At last their advertisement was answered by a male candidate
for menial authority, who proved to be Mr. Miles, their late master.
Tom and Jenny colored up, and both agreed it was out of the
question--they should feel too ashamed. Mr. Miles answered by offering
to bet a crown he should make them the best servant in the street;
and, strange to say, the bargain was struck and he did turn out a
model servant. He was civil and respectful, especially in public, and
never abused his situation. Comparing his conduct with his
predecessors', it really appeared that a gentleman can beat snobs in
various relations of life. As Tom's master and Jenny's, he had never
descended to servility, nor was he betrayed into arrogance now that he
had risen to be their servant.
A word about Jacky. After the meal off the scented rabbit in the bush,
Robinson said slyly to George: "I thought you promised Jacky a
hiding--well, here he is."
"Now, Tom," replied the other, coloring up, "is it reasonable, and he
has just saved our two lives? but if you think that I won't take him
to task, you are much mistaken."
George then remonstrated with the chief for spoiling Abner with his
tomahawk. Jacky opened his eyes with astonishment and admiration. Here
was another instance of the white fellow's wonderful power of seeing
things a good way behind him. He half closed his eyes, and tried in
humble imitation to peer back into the past. Yes! he could just manage
to see himself very indistinctly giving Abner a crack; but stop! let
him see, it was impossible to be positive, but was not there also some
small trifle of insolence, ingratitude, and above all bungality, on
the part of this Abner? When the distance had become too great to see
the whole of a transaction, why strain the eyes looking at a part?
Finally Jacky submitted that these microscopic researches cost a good
deal of trouble, and on the whole his tribe were wiser than the white
fellows in this, that they reveled in the present, and looked on the
past as a period that never had been, and the future as one that never
would be. On this George resigned the moral culture of his friend.
"Soil is not altogether bad," said Agricola, "but, bless your heart,
it isn't a quarter of an inch deep."
On George's departure, Jacky, being under the temporary impression of
his words, collected together a mixed company of blacks, and marched
them to his possessions. Arrived, he harangued them on the cleverness
of the white fellows, and invited them to play at Europeans.
"Behold this ingenious structure," said he, in Australian; "this is
called a house; its use is to protect us from the weather at night;
all you have to do is to notice which way the wind blows, and go and
lie down on the opposite side of the house and there you are. Then
again, when you are cold, you will find a number of wooden articles in
the house. You go in, you bring them out and burn them and are warm."
He then produced what he had always considered the _chef d'oeuvre_
of the white races, a box of lucifer matches; this, too, was a present
from George. "See what clever fellows they are," said he, "they carry
about fire, which is fire or not fire at the fortunate possessor's
will;" and he let off a lucifer. These the tribe admired, but doubted
whether all those little sticks had the same marvelous property and
would become fire in the hour of need; Jacky sneered at their
incredulity, and let them all off one by one in a series of
preliminary experiments; this impaired their future usefulness. In
short, they settled there; one or two's heads had to be broken for
killing the breeders for dinner, and that practice stopped; but the
pot-bellied youngsters generally celebrated the birth of a lamb by
spearing it. They slept on the lee side of the house, warmed at night
by the chairs and tables, etc., which they lighted. They got on very
nicely, only one fine morning, without the slightest warning,
whir-r-r-r they all went off to the woods, Jacky and all, and never
returned. The remaining bullocks strayed devious, and the douce
McLaughlan blandly absorbed the sheep.
Hasty and imperfect as my sketch of this Jacky is, give it a place in
your notebook of sketches, for in a few years the Australian savage
will breathe only in these pages, and the Saxon plow will erase his
very grave, his milmeridien.
brutus lived; but the form and strength he had abused were gone--he is
the shape of a note of interrogation, and by a coincidence is now an
"asker," i.e., he begs, receives alms, and sets on a gang of burglars,
with whom he is in league, to rob the good Christians that show him
mephistopheles came suddenly to grief; when gold was found in Victoria
he crossed over to that port and robbed. One day he robbed the tent of
an old man, a native of the colony, who was digging there with his
son, a lad of fifteen. Now these currency lads are very sharp and
determined. The youngster caught a glimpse of the retiring thief and
followed him and saw him enter a tent. He watched at the entrance, and
when mephistopheles came out again, he put a pistol to the man's
breast and shot him dead without a word of remonstrance, accusation or
A few diggers ran out of their claims. "If our gold is not on him,"
says the youngster, "I have made a mistake."
The gold was found on the carcass, and the diggers went coolly back to
The youngster went directly to the commissioner and told him what he
had done. "I don't see that I am called on to interfere," replied that
functionary; "he was taken in the act; you have buried him, of
"Not I. I let him lie for whoever chose to own him."
"You let him lie? What, when there is a printed order from the
government stuck over the whole mine that nobody is to leave carrion
about! You go off directly and bury your carrion or you will get into
trouble, young man." And the official's manner became harsh and
If ever a man was "shot like a dog," surely the assassin of Carlo was.
Mr. Meadows in the prison refused his food, and fell into a deep
depression; but the third day he revived, and fell to scheming again.
He sent to Mr. Levi and offered to give him a long lease of his old
house if he would but be absent from the trial. This was a sore
temptation to the old man. But meantime stronger measures were taken
in his defense and without consulting him.
One evening that Susan and George were in the garden at Grassmere,
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