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LETTER FROM AN
comic, which find an unexpected conclusion at the who never fall into its hands. In the present state prefecture. There, shut up in an office with double, of morals, in the midst of a city so populous and even triple doors, guarded by vigilant watchers, turbulent as Paris, the mission of the police is the are heard stranger confidences than in all the con- most useful, and at the same time the most unthankfessionals in the churches of Paris. It is deplor- ful that can be given to men to fill. able fact that, in a thousand cases of this kind, more than eight hundred belong to moral failings, where the enemy sends a menace under certain A WOMAN'S VENGEANCE. conditions. The secrets of Paris may be said to be in the power of the prefecture, and they are well kept.
ACQUAINTANCE. It may be understood how well educated men, heads of the service, conceal the When the news of Jenny's accident had been indiscretion of these social miseries ; but there are brought to Arthur Tyndall, he had been sitting inferior agents which they are obliged to employ, with Allardyce in the smoking-room, into which who are poorly paid, and who have never abused the latter gentleman had lounged unasked: he did the secrets that have been intrusted to themsecrets sometimes terrible, the divulging of which not often inflict his company upon his host, and would have been worth a fortune. Among this Arthur had not the least expected the intrusion, great number, for the last ten years, one only has which had happened at a most inopportune betrayed the trust reposed in him, and it is scarcely moment-just as he held the great lid of the old necessary to say that he has been dismissed, taking cabinet in his hand (one-half of which was the with him the contempt of all his companions. bookcase of which we have already spoken), and
It has been said before that one great effort of was meditating which of the little drawers conthe police is to avoid all scandal as much as pos- tained in it he should choose for a hiding-place sible ; therefore, and unless they are constrained by for Jenny's packet. He would not trust it in his special circumstances, the police never arrest any one in a public place, ball, café, cabaret, or theatre"; dressing-room, where his wife would have an they follow the individual sought for until he goes excuse for coming ; for, though there was nothing out, and seize him at the corner of some deserted that he need be ashamed of in his own old lovestreet, or when he passes near a police station, into letters, they would, of course, annoy her, should which they can bring him immediately. It is a she chance to come across them; and he positirely point of honour to deliver up the delinquents possessed no private receptacle of any sort in unharmed : the inspectors themselves are never which he could place it. armed; they have such skill in seizing an individual Nothing was locked belonging to Arthur, erand paralysing his power of action, that it is very cept the cellar-door, and the key even of that rarely they are obliged to employ force. They was confided to the butler. Whatever his faults, carry neither a stick nor a truncheon ; each has in secretiveness or want of confidence could cerhis pocket a long cord, made particularly strong, tainly not be laid to his charge. We have seen of seven twists, furnished with three knots, and how the secret of his affection for Jenny (even at each extremity is fixed a piece of wood like the when he was resolute not to encourage it) weighed handle of a gimblet. They place this round the upon his mind, and now that he had something right wrist of the person arrested, and hold the material which it was necessary for him to conhandles so that it can be tightened at will if ceal, his perplexity was ludicrous to witness he should prove recalcitrant. They are generally Where the deuce was he to put it? Should he provided with another cord with which to tie the burn the letters, and keep the trinket? No; for if arms and legs of any man who resists violently. Helen should discover the latter without the
Devoted as they are, the secret service would not letters to explain its existence, it being plainly a be able to cope with criminals if they had not love-gift, matters would be even worse : she might among them obscure and unknown allies, who, in imagine, in her jealous frenzy, that he had reexchange for a certain degree of toleration, bring cently purchased the thing to give away. After their share of information ; persons whose pres- all, this old cabinet—the lid of which let down and ence in Paris is permitted on the condition that formed a desk, on which he had often written his they shall follow up the traces of crimes, and facili- holiday task in the vacations of his school-daystate in every way the arrest of the guilty ones. was as good a hiding-place as any other not under The expense is not great, as it does not amount lock and key ; indeed, in one of Édgar Poe's stories to more than five hundred francs a month ; fees he had read that a place that was not locked was being given in proportion to the affair; five francs even safer for such a purpose, as not being open to for a simple theft, fifty for a murder. The idea suspicion; and there was no possible chance of is a very false one that there is honour among any one's finding the thing by accident in one of thieves ; any of them are ready to give up the those old drawers or pigeon-holes.' name of an accomplice for some slight ameliora- He actually had the packet in his hand, and tion of their prison discipline. Above all others, was about to put it away, when that fellow Allar the Parisian thief has no scruple in denouncing his dyce came in, and had had but just time to thrust accomplices ; first, because, as one said, "he was it in his pocket, and slam down the lid with a bang, a Voltairian, and did not believe in virtue ;' and and 'look as if he was doing nothing particular. secondly, because they all desire most ardently to be He knew he had not quite succeeded in that last detained in the prisons of the city, where they can operation, but what did it matter? Old love hear its sounds, see its blue sky, and feel they are letters and a keepsake were not much in Lardy's still in Paris: 'to enjoy this felicity, they will tell way. Still, the circumstance annoyed him, and anything they know. In conclusion, it may be made the company of his guest more irksome eren said that the police are not loved, even by those than usual. He felt inclined to make himself
A WOMAN'S VENGEANCE.
565 disagreeable (which was very rare with him), and gladly have compounded for any annoyance or did so---which was rarer. But Lardy's temper, if mischance, if only Jenny should be safe; but on for this occasion only, was imperturbable, and not his return, though he left her convalescent, he to be ruffled. Even when Arthur asked him was filled with irritation and displeasure ; Helen's whether anything, had been heard of that conduct towards him had been not only cold but scoundrel Jones, whom you used to call “Pretty aggressive, and that, too, when he had done his Poll,"' he refused to take offence.
very best to conciliate her, and had really felt 'I know nothing about the little blackguard,' he towards her more warmly than he had ever done. replied ; and, in fact, I am the last man to know; He fully acknowledged the generosity with which he takes uncommon good care to keep out of my she had acted with respect to Jenny, 'though, after sight, and even hearing, you may be sure.' all, one surely would not-simply because one was At which Arthur grunted : 'Oh, indeed.' absurdly jealous of her-let å fellow-creature
It was abundantly evident to Mr Allardyce that drown if one could help it ;' but her subsehe had tired out his welcome at Swansdale Hall, quent behaviour had chilled him to the core. so far as his host was concerned ; but he did not Her icy face seemed to gaze on him through the mean to leave it just yet, or, when he did so, alone. mist, her bitter laugh still sounded in his ears. If he could only, get possession of that packet, He had not, of course, the least suspicion of what Helen would be his ; and he meant to have it. had actually occurred. In the agitation of his It was unfortunate that Arthur should have this thoughts, he did not even inquire of himself how disrelish for his society, as it was necessary to the Helen had come to be at the lock at all, and in object in view that he should just now favour him the company of a woman whom he knew she with it. He had watched his host go straight from detested ; but, even believing what he did, his the dining-room to the smoking-room, and it was wife stood less high in his affections than she had very unlikely that he should have deposited the done before. If she had saved Jenny, it was with packet in the former place. There was scarcely no willing hand, as she had taken pains to shew time for him to have put it elsewhere before he sat him; while, with that good deed to her credit, it down to lunch, for (as the other justly concluded) was only too probable that she would hold herself Tyndall would not have decided upon a hiding higher than ever, would be more defiant and place for so important a document and Allardyce exacting—and in a word intolerable. She had imagined it to be much more important than it already publicly refused to come home with him. was-in a hurry. At that bang of the lid of the Well, if a tête-à-tête was so distasteful to her, it cabinet, he pricked his ears like a horse who hears was at least equally so to him. She had the the corn-bin open, and said to himself: 'It is there.' advantage over him in being able to put up with And it was his plan to sit Arthur out, so that this continuous estrangement; but for his part he he might have the room alone, to convince him- could not stand it much longer. She should keep self of the fact. But, as though aware of his her money, and he would leave her, and make intention, his host sat on, pulling slowly at his his own way in the world, as he had intended to cigar, while the other puffed his cigarette, and do while he was yet a free man. A free man ! with his nimble fingers prepared its successor.
Yes. What an idiot he had been to sell himself Are you not due at the piano or the chess-table, into slavery! this afternoon ?' inquired Arthur, expressing in his Thus Arthur Tyndall pondered, on his way tone, by design, no little contempt for both those home, and afterwards up in the smoking-room, refined amusements.
alone, for hours, sitting moodily over the fire, and ‘No; I am off duty for to-day,' returned the ever and anon striking the burning logs with his other gaily. 'Are you not going to have another foot. He had locked the door, to prevent further turn at the birds ?'
intrusion, and when a knock was presently heard * How the deuce could I? replied Arthur at it, inquired angrily—Who it was, and what was peevishly. One couldn't see them in such a fog the matter. as this if they perched on the barrel of the gun.' 'It is me, sir,' returned the voice of Mrs Glyn,
“True, it is foggy,” said Allardyce with a glance the housekeeper. 'I want to have a word with at the window. And then the conversation would you, if you please! languish, only to be revived again by some brusque He rose in some astonishment, for meek Mrs remark of Arthur's, which the other would take in Glyn had never made such a request before in her more provokingly good part than ever. It was in life, and let her in. The old lady wore two one of these pauses that the footman, in answer to withered apples of a wholesome red in place of a summons for more logs for the wood-fire, made cheeks, and was consequently incapable of changing bold, with a smiling face (for catastrophes are colour, but she had an anxious worried look, and pleasant excitements to the country domestic), to it was in embarrassed tones that she addressed her acquaint his master that something had gone master. wrong down at the lock.
*O please, sir, if you would just step into Gone wrong? What do you mean? Are the missus' room and see her for a moment.' gates burst ?'
'Did she send you to ask me ?' inquired Arthur * No, sir; but they do say, as Miss Alice have coldly. fallen in
' No, sir ; I came upon my own responsibility ; · Fallen into the lock ? Great Heaven!'
but, the fact is, I don't think she well.' Arthur was up, and had reached the door before Not well? Why, I saw her only a few hours the domestic could explain : 'I don't think she 's ago at the lock cottage.” crowned, sir !' and without even waiting to put 'Ah, that was it, sir. I am afraid that what she on his greatcoat, snatched his hat from its peg in did there—the pulling that girl out of the river' the hall, and rushed off to Jacob's cottage, where [Jenny was no great favourite of the housekeeper's; we found him. On his way thither, he would the common report of her having at one time
aspired to be mistress of Swansdale Hall, offended for self-reproach ; but now that his wife was her sense of the fitness of things] was too much threatened with severe illness, this allusion to for her ; or perhaps the fog has settled on her poor Jenny was somehow inopportune and unwelcome. lungs ; but she's downright ill, and my belief is Supposing Helen was to be very ill, dangerously she 'll be worse.'
ill-how sorry he would be. Nay, if she were to “Send for the doctor instantly.'
die? That thought—though but half an hour ago 'I took the liberty of so doing, sir, though he had been eager for something that should unknown to Mrs Tyndall.'
separate them, and the more completely the better “Quite right. I'll go and see her at once.' -sent a shudder through his frame. He had half
The intelligence that his wife was ill, disarmed a mind to burn those records of affection for Arthur on the instant of all his indignation ; his another which he had about him at that moment moods were hasty and violent, but he had a very -to sacrifice them, as it were, on the altar of tender heart. What is this I hear, Helen?' said wedded love—so tender did he feel towards Helen, he kindly, as he entered her boudoir.
so solicitous to do away with the least ground of crouching over the fire, and shivering with cold, offence in her eyes. And yet, why should he ? though there was a burning spot on each of her Would not such a proceeding be a tacit confession cheeks. He had been often among sickness in his that there was still some feeling in his heart travels, when there was no doctor to help, and towards Jenny of which he was ashamed? No; he knew the signs of ordinary ailments well enough. would put them away in the old cabinet, as he
She did not answer, but suffered him to take had originally intended. her hand, which was dry and hot, and feel her This idea occurred to him in the smoking-room, pulse.
to which he had again retired, and he put it into “You are feverish, my dear Helen.'
effect at once. He went to the bookcase, raised ‘Am I ?' returned she carelessly. "What does it the lid, and, as before, was meditating into which matter?'
drawer he should deposit the packet, when his eye *It matters a great deal to me, your husband,' lit upon an open letter, lying on the flat part of said Arthur with tender gravity; he was too the desk, and, of course, within it. It began, My alarmed about her to be annoyed.
dear A., and was therefore apparently intended for Helen essayed to laugh her usual contemptuous himself. At first, his thoughts being so taken up laugh, but it died in her throat.
with Helen, he concluded that his wife herself had *You must go to bed at once, Helen. I, or at placed it there ; he had heard of some married least Mrs Glyn has sent for the doctor' [something couples who, not being upon speaking terms, had forbade him to take any credit to himself on her therefore written to one another, and perhaps account, where it was not his due]: 'I am afraid Helen might have adopted that unpleasant means you are going to have an attack of some kind.' of giving him a piece of her mind, and perhaps 'Indeed. Well
, I will go to bed ; it is just dinner- proposing the very separation which he had had in time; you will excuse me to Mr Allardyce.-0 his own thoughts; but the next moment he reflected dear, how the room goes round !'
that the letter had certainly not been there when You are giddy, my darling. Lean on me.' he had been to the desk before ; and whoever had ‘No; thank you.' (She tried to draw herself up opened it since, it could not have been Helen. with dignity.) 'I feel better already. Send Esther, Moreover, it was not in her handwriting, which or Mrs Glyn, please.'
was eminently ladylike-all the letters very much • You had rather have them about you, than me!' | alike, and slanting like a shower of rain ; whereas said Arthur with a reproachful sigh. Well, I will this was a man's hand. It ran thus : send them. You will give me one kiss, Helen, before I go ?'
MY DEAR A.-It seems to me that you are taking She hesitated a moment ; the red spots seemed the attraction that keeps you there, I confess I do not
up your residence at Swansdale ; and though I know to glow in her cheeks like burning coals. No,'
understand it. said she curtly; ‘else, if the fever be contagious, I of being born a swell that their loves are alway
It is one of the (few) misfortunci might give it to you.' He knew it was but an excuse to avoid kissing regretted he was not a Jew, in order that he might
dangerous. Like the man who liked ham, and him, but it was something that she had troubled sin in eating it, the piquancy of peril seems requisite herself to invent an excuse ; she might have denied him point-blank. While he still lingered however, you have revenge to gratify, and I need not
to engage your affections. In this particular case, in the room, the doctor came. At the first glance at his new patient, he put on a grave face enough, fortune. Never, never shall I forget that hour of
how heartily on this account I wish you bonne and murmured : "Ah, I feared this.' "Well, what is it, doctor?' asked Helen wearily, the dinners we gave him before play in London, I
disgorgement at Swansdale. Upon the whole, counting when he had asked his questions.
"Well, it's what comes of going out in fogs, when positively believe that I am out of pocket by the man we are not strong, and saving other people who who
, at one time, bade fair to be a small fortune to have fallen into lashers. You've got a feverish
I say I, because it is I who have suffered both cold on you; you must go to bed.'
in purse and reputation, while you have got off scotThen afterwards, in that conference outside the free. I don't complain of that, my dear Lardy — sick-room which takes place in such cases with a As Arthur read that word, the truth for the first husband: 'I don't like your wife's looks, Mr time broke in upon him.
This letter was from Tyndall. I shall have more trouble with her, I Paul Jones to Allardyce, and the allusions of galforesee, than with my other patient yonder.' And lantry it contained could point to but one objecthe pointed towards the lock.
Helen. It was fortunate perhaps for all concerned The comparison was not agreeable to Arthur; that at that moment she was on a bed of siekhe had (as he often observed to himself) no cause ness ; for even with those hateful words respecting
A WOMAN'S VENGEANCE.
her before his eyes, he could not think evil of Helen. If he should kill this man, what shame her now. Indeed, what reason culled from one would be laid to her charge! He had not a doubt scoundrel's letter to another, had he for thinking that she was free from all taint, nay, from the very eril of her? The intentions of Allardyce, indeed, thought of wrong. Notwithstanding his familiarity were made evident enough, but where was the with the coarser side of human life, he had a faith proof that Helen knew of them? Arthur passed in the purity of women such as is possessed by few his band across his forehead once or twice, then so-called men of the world; and his trust in his sat down to finish the letter.
wife was absolute. If she had really given this
scoundrel ground to hope for success, it must have I don't complain of that, but my great revenge, as been through her simplicity. And was it for him, Mr W. Shakspeare observes, has naturally a larger her husband, to afford other ground for suspicion of stomach than yours. From your last account, the her by gratifying his impulse for revenge? Doubtaffair appears to be progressing well. You shew your less the reflection that she was ill, made his thoughts usual sagacity in the remark that your best hope lies of her even more kindly and charitable than they in your catching him tripping—or appearing to would otherwise have been : if he felt a spark of catch him, all's one for that—with J.W. That would anger on account of her imprudence, pity blew it drive your game into the net. Your observation that out; and pity for her also prevented the gratificayour charmer is a perfect demon for jealousy, is only tion of his fury against Allardyce. It did not what I expected. She always was a demon for most mitigate the rage within him, however : on the things, and treated me very bad. I have made the contrary, the necessity for moderation condensed inquiries you requested, and find that H. S.'s fortune it; he felt dangerous even to himself; and if ill was settled unreservedly on herself and children; fate had at that moment brought Wynn Allardyce those unpleasant • post-nuptial articles have for- within his sight, it is more than probable he would tunately not supervened, but I warn you that in the have lost all self-command. As it was, he pulled case contemplated you will be by no means sure of out his watch, and seating himself at the old
I have taken advice and not gratis desk dashed off these words : either, but no matter) upon that point, and it I have read the inclosed letter. It is now six seems the Court' (of Chancery, I suppose) has power o'clock; if within one hour you have not left this to deal with the property of runaway wives in the house, or if I set eyes upon you in the meantime, interests of morality. A most abominable idea, is it as sure as my hand writes this, I will shoot you
like not? Still, it is more than possible that A. T.'s a dog. Then placing Paul Jones' note with this infernal pride would incline him to waive that. I in an envelope, he sealed it up
the bell. can fancy nothing pleasanter than to beggar him in " Take this to Mr Allardyce,' said he to the serthis way, and then to offer him fifty pounds a year vant, and immediately: out of his wife's money.
I can't write of him, I • He is dressing for dinner, sir.' can't think of him, without a thrill of hate; and yet No matter; put it into his own hand at once. there is one man in the world we have cause to hate And- Stay; bring back his answer to me in
When you have played out this little game, my dressing-room.' I trust you will give me your undivided aid in paying Arthur went in thither, and opened a drawer in off all scores with 'honest Jack. Gr-gr-gr-gr-gr- which he had always kept a pistol loaded since I growl like a dog to fly at his throat. Yours, his marriage, at his wife's request. She had been ever,
P.J. accustomed to live in town, and was nervous in the
country about thieves. If Allardyce should refuse
to go, or venture to come into his presence, his CHAPTER XXVIII.-UNRECONCILED.
blood' be on his own head. He would keep his The first impulse of Arthur Tyndall, upon reading word. Paul Jones' infamous epistle, was straightway to
He could hear the housekeeper talking softly seek out his treacherous guest and wring his neck. to Helen's maid in the next room, where Helen So far as Allardyce was concerned, he would not herself was lying ; their voices reminded him have had the slightest scruple in so doing, and in all of an illness he had once had at school, the only probability to attempt would have been to accom- severe one he had ever had, and when everyplish it ; for naturally a more powerful man than body about him had talked in a similar key—the his enemy, Tyndall's limbs and muscles were more tone of the sick-room when there is Danger. How exercised, and he was filled with the strength of frightful it would be to rouse the quiet of the hate. The idea of calling him out,' which would house by a pistol-shot, and how it would terrify have been the first to suggest itself to Uncle Magus, Helen! His wrath did not abate in the slightest if afterwards to be set aside by the reflection that degree, but he regretted having written so imperathis fellow was proved by the letter itself to tive a letter; he might at least have given this be the confederate of a blackleg, never entered scoundrel longer rope—a little more time to get into his mind. The instincts of the mere man away. Nevertheless, so help him Heaven ! he within him were too strong for that. With those would keep his word. He stood by the open among whom his lot had been cast in foreign drawer looking at the pistol for what seemed the climes, it had been common enough to right one's full hour, but which in reality was but a minute self by the strong hand ; and that experience had or two. Then steps came along the passage, and not been without its effect upon him. He had there was a knock at his door. at bottom a contempt for the niceties of civilisa- * Who is that ?' asked he. Suppose it should tion, and his passions, when once aroused, were have been Allardyce himself come to offer some fierce and headstrong. What saved him now from sort of explanation or denial! The perspiration the commission of some act of violence, the con- stood upon his forehead. sequences of which might have been fatal not only It's me, sir. Thank Heaven! it was the serto its object but to himself, was his tenderness for vant's voice.