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a tale




Page 82


“There was racing and chacing o'er Cannobie Lee.”

Walter Scott.

When Edward Walcott awoke, the next morning,
from his deep slumber, his first consciousness was, of
a heavy weight upon his mind, the cause of which, he
was unable, immediately, to recollect. One by one, however,
by means of the association of ideas, the events
of the preceding night came back to his memory;
though those of latest occurrence were dim as dreams.
But one circumstance was only too well remembered—
the discovery of Ellen Langton. By a strong effort, he
next attained to an uncertain recollection, of a scene of
madness and violence, followed, as he at first thought,
by a duel. A little farther reflection, however, informed
him that this event was yet among the things of futurity;
but he could by no means recall the appointed
time or place. As he had not the slightest intention
(praiseworthy and prudent as it would unquestionably
have been) to give up the chance of avenging Ellen's
wrongs, and his own. He immediately arose and began
to dress, meaning to learn from Hugh Crombie those
particulars which his own memory had not retained.
His chief apprehension was, that the appointed time
had already elapsed; for the early sun-beams of a glorious
morning were now peeping into his chamber.


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More than once, during the progress of dressing, he
was inclined to believe, that the duel had actually taken
place, and been fatal to him, and that he was now in
those regions, to which, his conscience told him, such
an event would be likely to send him. This idea resulted
from his bodily sensations, which were in the
highest degree uncomfortable. He was tormented by
a raging thirst, that seemed to have absorbed all the
moisture of his throat and stomach; and in his present
agitation, a cup of icy water would have been his first
wish, had all the treasures of earth and sea been at his
command. His head, too, throbbed almost to bursting,
and the whirl of his brain, at every movement, promised
little accuracy in the aim of his pistol when he should
meet the angler. These feelings, together with the deep
degradation of his mind, made him resolve that no circumstances
should again, draw him into an excess of
wine. In the meantime, his head was perhaps still too
much confused to allow him fully to realize his unpleasant

Before Edward was prepared to leave his chamber,
the door was opened by one of the College bed-makers,
who, perceiving that he was nearly dressed, entered
and began to set the apartment in order. There were
two of these officials pertaining to Harley College; each
of them being, and for obvious reasons this was an indispensable
qualification, a model of perfect ugliness in
her own way. One was a tall, raw-boned, huge-jointed,
double-fisted giantess, admirably fitted to sustain the
part of Gleardallen, in the tragedy of Tom Thumb. Her
features were as excellent as her form, appearing to
have been rough hewn with a broad axe, and left unpolished.
The other was a short, squat figure, about
two thirds the height and three times the circumference


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of ordinary females. Her hair was gray, her complexion
of a deep yellow, and her most remarkable feature
was a short snub nose, just discernible amid the
broad immensity of her face. This latter lady was she
who now entered Edward's chamber. Notwithstanding
her deficiency in personal attractions, she was rather a
favorite of the students, being good natured, anxious
for their comfort, and, when duly encouraged, very
communicative. Edward perceived, as soon as she appeared,
that she only waited his assistance in order to
disburden herself of some extraordinary information;
and more from compassion than curiosity, he began to
question her.

`Well, Dolly, what news this morning?'

`Why, let me see,—oh, yes. It had almost slipped
my memory,' replied the bed-maker. `Poor widow
Butler died last night, after her long sickness. Poor
woman! I remember her forty years ago, or so, as rosy
a lass as you could set eyes on.'

`Ah! Has she gone?' said Edward, recollecting the
sick woman of the cottage, which he had entered with
Ellen and Fanshawe. `Was she not out of her right
mind, Dolly?'

`Yes; this seven years,' she answered. `They say
she came to her senses, a bit, when Doctor Melmoth
visited her yesterday, but was raving mad when she
died. Ah! That son of hers, if he is yet alive.—Well

`She had a son, then?' inquired Edward.

`Yes, such as he was. The Lord preserve me from
such a one,' said Dolly. `It was thought he went off
with Hugh Crombie, that keeps the tavern now. That
was fifteen years ago.'

`And have they heard nothing of him since?' asked


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`Nothing good, nothing good,' said the bed-maker.
`Stories did travel up the valley, now and then; but for
five years there has been no word of him. They say
Merchant Langton, Ellen's father, met him in foreign
parts and would have made a man of him; but there
was too much of the wicked one in him for that. Well,
poor woman! I wonder who'll preach her funeral sermon.'

`Doctor Melmoth, probably,' observed the student.

`No, no; the Doctor will never finish his journey in
time. And who knows but his own funeral will be the
end of it,' said Dolly with a sagacious shake of her head.

`Doctor Melmoth gone a journey!' repeated Edward,
`What do you mean? For what purpose?'

`For a good purpose enough, I may say,' replied she.
`To search out Miss Ellen, that was run away with, last

`In the devil's name, woman, of what are you speaking?'
shouted Edward, seizing the affrighted bed-maker
forcibly by the arm.

Poor Dolly had chosen this circuitous method of communicating
her intelligence, because she was well aware,
that, if she first told of Ellen's flight, she should find no
ear for her account of the widow Butler's death. She
had not calculated, however, that the news would produce
so violent an effect upon her auditor; and her
voice faltered as she recounted what she knew of the
affair. She had hardly concluded, before Edward, who
as she proceeded, had been making hasty preparations,
rushed from his chamber, and took the way towards
Hugh Crombie's Inn. He had no difficulty in finding
the Landlord; who had already occupied his accustomed
seat, and was smoking his accustomed pipe, under
the elm tree.


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`Well, Master Walcott, you have come to take a
stomach reliever, this morning, I suppose,' said Hugh,
taking the pipe from his mouth. `What shall it be? a
bumper of wine with an egg?—or a glass of smooth,
old, oily brandy, such as dame Crombie and I keep for
our own drinking? Come, that will do it, I know.'

`No, no;—neither;' replied Edward, shuddering, involuntarily,
at the bare mention of wine and strong
drink. `You know well, Hugh Crombie, the errand
on which I come.'

`Well, perhaps I do,' said the landlord. You come to
order me to saddle my best horse. You are for a ride,
this fine morning.'

`True, and I must learn of you in what direction to
turn my horse's head,' replied Edward Walcott.

`I understand you,' said Hugh, nodding and smiling.
`And now, Master Edward, I really have taken a strong
liking to you; and if you please to hearken to it, you
shall have some of my best advice.'

`Speak,' said the young man, expecting to be told
in what direction to pursue the chase.

`I advise you, then,' continued Hugh Crombie, in a
tone, in which some real feeling mingled with assumed
carelessness,—`I advise you to forget that you have ever
known this girl,—that she has ever existed; for she is
as much lost to you, as if she never had been born, or
as if the grave had covered her. Come, come, man;
—toss off a quart of my old wine, and keep up a merry
heart. This has been my way, in many a heavier sorrow
than ever you have felt; and you see I am alive
and merry yet.' But Hugh's merriment had failed him
just as he was making his boast of it; for Edward saw
a tear in the corner of his eye.

`Forget her? Never, never!' said the student,
while his heart sank within him, at the hopelessness of


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pursuit, which Hugh's words implied. `I will follow
her to the ends of the earth.'

`Then so much the worse for you, and for my poor
nag,—on whose back you shall be in three minutes,'
rejoined the landlord. `I have spoken to you as I
would to my own son, if I had such an incumbrance.
Here you ragamuffin, saddle the gray and lead him
round to the door.'

`The gray? I will ride the black,' said Edward, `I
know your best horse, as well as you do yourself, Hugh.'

There is no black horse in my stable, I have parted
with him to an old comrade of mine,' answered the landlord,
with a wink of acknowledgment to what he saw
were Edward's suspicions. `The gray is a stout nag,
and will carry you a round pace, though not so fast as
to bring you up with them you seek. I reserved him
for you, and put Mr. Fanshawe off with the old white,
on which I travelled hitherward, a year or two since.'

`Fanshawe? Has he then the start of me?' asked

`He rode off about twenty minutes ago,' replied
Hugh; but you will overtake him within ten miles, at
farthest. But if mortal man could recover the girl, that
fellow would do it,—even if he had no better nag than
a broomstick, like the witches of old times.'

`Did he obtain any information from you as to the
course?' inquired the student.

`I could give him only this much,' said Hugh, pointing
down the road, in the direction of the town. My
old comrade, trust no man farther than is needful, and
I ask no unnecessary questions.

The ostler now led up to the door the horse which
Edward was to ride. The young man mounted with
all expedition; but as he was about to apply the spurs,


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his thirst, which the bed-maker's intelligence had caused
him to forget, returned most powerfully upon him.

`For Heaven's sake, Hugh, a mug of your sharpest
cider,—and let it be a large one,' he exclaimed. `My
tongue rattles in my mouth like,—

`Like the bones in a dice-box,' said the landlord,
finishing the comparison and hastening to obey Edward's
directions. Indeed, he rather exceeded them, by mingling
with the juice of the apple, a jill of his old brandy,
which, his own experience told him, would at that time
have a most desirable effect upon the young man's internal

`It is powerful stuff, mine host, and I feel like a new
man already,' observed Edward, after draining the mug
to the bottom.

`He is a fine lad, and sits his horse most gallantly,'
said Hugh Crombie to himself, as the student rode off,
`I heartily wish him success. I wish to Heaven my
conscience had suffered me to betray the plot before it
was too late. Well, well,—a man must keep his mite of

The morning was now one of the most bright and glorious,
that ever shone for mortals; and, under other circumstances,
Edward's bosom would have been as light,
and his spirit would have sung as cheerfully, as one of
the many birds that warbled around him. The rain-drops
of the preceding night hung like glittering diamonds on
every leaf of every tree, shaken and rendered more brilliant
by occasional sighs of wind, that removed from the
traveller the superfluous heat of an unclouded sun. In
spite of the adventure, so mysterious and vexatious,
in which he was engaged, Edward's elastic spirit
(assisted perhaps by the brandy he had unwittingly
swallowed) rose higher as he rode on, and he soon


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found himself endeavoring to accommodate the tune
of one of Hugh Crombie's ballads to the motion
of the horse. Nor did this reviving cheerfulness argue
anything against his unwavering faith, and pure and fervent
love for Ellen Langton. A sorrowful and repining
disposition is not the necessary accompaniment of a
`leal and loving heart;' and Edward's spirits were cheered,
not by forgetfulness, but by hope, which would not
permit him to doubt of the ultimate success of his pursuit.
The uncertainty itself, and the probable danger of the
expedition, were not without their charm to a youthful
and adventurous spirit. In fact, Edward would not have
been altogether satisfied to recover the errant damsel,
without first doing battle in her behalf.

He had proceeded but a few miles, before he came in
sight of Fanshawe, who had been accommodated by the
landlord with a horse much inferior to his own. The
speed to which he had been put, had almost exhausted
the poor animal, whose best pace was now but little beyond
a walk. Edward drew his bridle, as he came up
with Fanshawe.

`I have been anxious to apologize,' he said to him,
`for the hasty and unjust expressions of which I made
use, last evening. May I hope, that, in consideration of
my mental distraction, and the causes of it, you will forget
what has past?'

`I had already forgotten it,' replied Fanshawe, freely
offering his hand. `I saw your disturbed state of feeling,
and it would have been unjust, both to you and to
myself, to remember the errors it occasioned.'

`A wild expedition this,' observed Edward, after
shaking warmly the offered hand. `Unless we obtain
some farther information at the town, we shall hardly
know which way to continue the pursuit.'


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`We can scarcely fail, I think, of lighting upon some
trace of them,' said Fanshawe. `Their flight must have
commenced after the storm subsided, which would
give them but a few hours the start of us. May I beg,'
he continued, noticing the superior condition of his rival's
horse, `that you will not attempt to accommodate your
pace to mine?'

Edward bowed and rode on, wondering at the change
which a few months had wrought in Fanshawe's character.
On this occasion, especially, the energy of his
mind had communicated itself to his frame. The color
was strong and high in his cheek, and his whole appearance
was that of a gallant and manly youth, whom a
lady might love, or a fool might fear. Edward had not
been so slow as his mistress in discovering the student's
affection, and he could not but acknowledge in his heart
that he was a rival not to be despised, and might yet be
a successful one, if by his means Ellen Langton were
restored to her friends. This consideration caused him
to spur forward with increased ardour; but all his speed
could not divest him of the idea, that Fanshawe would
finally overtake him, and attain the object of their mutual
pursuit. There was certainly no apparent ground for
this imagination; for every step of his horse increased
the advantage which Edward had gained, and he soon
lost sight of his rival.

Shortly after overtaking Fanshawe, the young man
passed the lonely cottage, formerly the residence of the
Widow Butler, who now lay dead within. He was at
first inclined to alight and make inquiries respecting the
fugitives; for he observed, through the windows, the
faces of several persons, whom curiosity or some better
feeling had led to the house of mourning. Recollecting,
however, that this portion of the road must have been


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passed by the angler and Ellen at too early an hour to
attract notice, he forbore to waste time by a fruitless

Edward proceeded on his journey, meeting with no
other noticeable event, till, arriving at the summit of a
hill, he beheld, a few hundred yards before him, the Rev.
Doctor Melmoth. The worthy President was toiling onward,
at a rate unexampled in the history either of himself
or his steed, the excellence of the latter consisting
in sure-footedness, rather than rapidity. The rider looked
round, seemingly in some apprehension, at the sound
of hoof-tramps behind him, but was unable to conceal
his satisfaction on recognising Edward Walcott.

In the whole course of his life, Doctor Melmoth had
never been placed in circumstances so embarrassing as
the present. He was altogether a child in the ways of
the world, having spent his youth and early manhood in
abstracted study, and his maturity in the solitude of these
hills. The expedition, therefore, on which fate had now
thrust him, was an entire deviation from the quiet pathway
of all his former years, and he felt like one who sets
forth over the broad ocean, without chart or compass.
The affair would undoubtedly have been perplexing to a
man of far more experience than he; but the Doctor
pictured to himself a thousand difficulties and dangers,
which, except in his imagination, had no existence. The
perturbation of his spirit had compelled him, more than
once since his departure, to regret that he had not invited
Mrs. Melmoth to a share in the adventure; this being
an occasion where her firmness, decision, and confident
sagacity—which made her a sort of domestic hedgehog—would
have been peculiarly appropriate. In the
absence of such a counsellor, even Edward Walcott—
young as he was, and indiscreet as the Doctor thought


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him—was a substitute not to be despised; and it was
singular and rather ludicrous to observe how the grey-haired
man unconsciously became as a child to the
beardless youth. He addressed Edward with an assumption
of dignity, through which his pleasure at the
meeting was very obvious.

`Young gentleman, this is not well,' he said. `By
what authority have you absented yourself from the walls
of Alma Mater, during term-time?'

`I conceived that it was unnecessary to ask leave, at
such a conjuncture, and when the head of the institution
was himself in the saddle,' replied Edward.

`It was a fault, it was a fault,' said Doctor Melmoth,
shaking his head; `but, in consideration of the motive, I
may pass it over. And now, my dear Edward, I advise
that we continue our journey together, as your youth
and inexperience will stand in need of the wisdom of my
grey head. Nay, I pray you, lay not the lash to your
steed. You have ridden fast and far, and a slower pace
is requisite for a season.'

And, in order to keep up with his young companion,
the Doctor smote his own grey nag; which unhappy
beast, wondering what strange concatenation of events
had procured him such treatment, endeavoured to obey
his master's wishes. Edward had sufficient compassion
for Doctor Melmoth (especially as his own horse now
exhibited signs of weariness) to moderate his pace to
one attainable by the former.

`Alas, youth! These are strange times,' observed the
President, `when a Doctor of Divinity and an under
graduate set forth, like a knight-errant and his squire,
in search of a stray damsel. Methinks I am an epitome
of the church militant, or a new species of polemical divinity.
Pray Heaven, however, there be no encounter


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in store for us: for I utterly forgot to provide myself
with weapons.'

`I took some thought for that matter, reverend knight,'
replied Edward, whose imagination was highly tickled
by Dr. Melmoth's chivalrous comparison.

`Ay, I see that you have girded on a sword,' said
the Divine. `But wherewith shall I defend myself?—
My hand being empty, except of this golden-headed staff,
the gift of Mr. Langton.'

`One of these, if you will accept it,' answered Edward,
exhibiting a brace of pistols, `will serve to begin
the conflict, before you join the battle hand to hand.'

`Nay, I shall find little safety in meddling with that
deadly instrument, since I know not accurately from
which end proceeds the bullet,' said Doctor Melmoth.
`But were it not better, seeing we are so well provided
with artillery, to betake ourselves, in the event of an encounter,
to some stone wall or other place of strength?'

`If I may presume to advise,' said the squire, `you,
as being most valiant and experienced, should ride forward,
lance in hand, (your long staff serving for a lance)
while I annoy the enemy from afar.'

`Like Teucer behind the shield of Ajax,' interrupted
Doctor Melmoth, `or David with his stone and sling.
No, no, young man; I have left unfinished in my study
a learned treatise, important not only to the present age,
but to posterity, for whose sakes I must take heed to
my safety. But, lo! who ride yonder?' he exclaimed,
in manifest alarm, pointing to some horsemen upon the
brow of a hill, at a short distance before them.

`Fear not, gallant leader,' said Edward Walcott, who
had already discovered the objects of the Doctor's terror.
`They are men of peace, as we shall shortly see. The
foremost is somewhere near your own years, and rides like


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a grave, substantial citizen,—though what he does here,
I know not. Behind come two servants, men likewise of
sober age and pacific appearance.'

`Truly, your eyes are better than mine own. Of a
verity, you are in the right,' acquiesced Doctor Melmoth,
recovering his usual quantum of intrepidity. `We will
ride forward courageously, as those who, in a just cause,
fear neither death nor bonds.'

The reverend knight-errant and his squire, at the
time of discovering the three horsemen, were within a
very short distance of the town, which was, however,
concealed from their view by the bill, that the strangers
were descending. The road from Harley College,
through almost its whole extent, had been rough and
wild, and the country thin of population; but now, standing
frequent amid fertile fields on each side of the way,
were neat little cottages, from which groups of white-headed
children rushed forth to gaze upon the travellers.
The three strangers, as well as the Doctor and Edward,
were surrounded, as they approached each other, by a
crowd of this kind, plying their little bare legs most pertinaciously,
in order to keep pace with the horses.

As Edward gained a nearer view of the foremost rider,
his grave aspect and stately demeanour struck him with
involuntary respect. There were deep lines of thought
across his brow, and his calm, yet bright grey eye, betokened
a steadfast soul. There was also an air of conscious
importance, even in the manner in which the
stranger sat his horse, which a man's good opinion of
himself, unassisted by the concurrence of the world in
general, seldom bestows. The two servants rode at a
respectable distance in the rear; and the heavy portmanteaus
at their backs intimated that the party had journeyed
from afar. Doctor Melmoth endeavored to assume


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the dignity that became him, as the head of Harley College;
and with a gentle stroke of his staff upon his
wearied steed, and a grave nod to the principal stranger,
was about to commence the ascent of the hill, at the foot
of which they were. The gentleman, however, made a

`Doctor Melmoth, am I so fortunate as to meet you?'
he exclaimed, in accents expressive of as much surprise
and pleasure, as were consistent with his staid demeanour.
`Have you then forgotten your old friend?'

`Mr. Langton! Can it be?' said the Doctor, after
looking him in the face a moment. `Yes, it is my old
friend, indeed! Welcome, welcome! Though you come
at an unfortunate time.'

`What say you? How is my child? Ellen, I trust, is
well?' cried Mr. Langton; a father's anxiety overcoming
the coldness and reserve that were natural to him, or
that long habit had made a second nature.

`She is well in health. She was so, at least, last
night,' replied Doctor Melmoth, unable to meet the eye
of his friend. `But,—but I have been a careless shepherd,
and the lamb has strayed from the fold while I

Edward Walcott, who was a deeply interested observer
of this scene, had anticipated that a burst of passionate
grief would follow the disclosure. He was, however,
altogether mistaken. There was a momentary convulsion
of Mr. Langton's strong features, as quick to come
and go as a flash of lightning; and then his countenance
was as composed—though perhaps a little sterner—as
before. He seemed about to inquire into the particulars
of what so nearly concerned him; but changed his purpose
on observing the crowd of children, who, with one
or two of their parents, were endeavouring to catch the
words that passed between the Doctor and himself.


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`I will turn back with you to the village,' he said, in
a steady voice; `and, at your leisure, I shall desire to
hear the particulars of this unfortunate affair.'

He wheeled his horse accordingly, and, side by side
with Doctor Melmoth, began to ascend the hill. On
reaching the summit, the little country town lay before
them, presenting a cheerful and busy spectacle. It consisted
of one long, regular street, extending parallel to,
and at a short distance from the river; which here, enlarged
by a junction with another stream, became navigable,
not indeed for vessels of burthen, but for rafts of
lumber and boats of considerable size. The houses,
with peaked roofs and pitting stories, stood at wide intervals
along the street; and the commercial character
of the place was manifested by the shop door and windows,
that occupied the front of almost every dwelling.
One or two mansions, however, surrounded by trees and
standing back at a haughty distance from the road, were
evidently the abodes of the aristocracy of the village.
It was not difficult to distinguish the owners of these,—
self-important personages, with canes and well-powdered
periwigs,—among the crowd of meaner men, who bestowed
their attention upon Doctor Melmoth and his
friend, as they rode by. The town being the nearest
mart of a large extent of back country, there were many
rough farmers and woodsmen, to whom the cavalcade
was an object of curiosity and admiration. The former
feeling, indeed, was general throughout the village.
The shop-keepers left their customers and looked forth
from the doors,—the female portion of the community
thrust their heads from the windows,—and the people in
the street formed a lane, through which, with all eyes
concentrated upon them, the party rode onward to the
tavern. The general aptitude that pervades the populace


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of a small country town, to meddle with affairs not
legitimately concerning them, was increased on this occasion
by the sudden return of Mr. Langton, after passing
through the village. Many conjectures were afloat
respecting the cause of this retrograde movement; and,
by degrees, something like the truth, though much distorted,
spread generally among the crowd,—communicated,
probably, from Mr. Langton's servants. Edward
Walcott, incensed at the uncourteous curiosity of which
he, as well as his companions, was the object, felt a frequent
impulse, (though fortunately for himself, resisted,)
to make use of his riding switch in clearing a passage.

On arriving at the tavern, doctor Melmoth recounted
to his friend the little he knew beyond the bare fact of
Ellen's disappearance. Had Edward Walcott been called
to their conference, he might, by disclosing the adventure
of the angler, have thrown a portion of light upon
the affair; but, since his first introduction, the cold
and stately merchant had honoured him with no sort of

Edward, on his part, was not well pleased at the sudden
appearance of Ellen's father, and was little inclined
to co-operate in any measures that he might adopt for
her recovery. It was his wish to pursue the chase on
his own responsibility, and as his own wisdom dictated;
he chose to be an independent ally, rather than a subordinate
assistant. But, as a step preliminary to his proceedings
of every other kind, he found it absolutely necessary,
having journeyed far and fasting, to call upon the
landlord for a supply of food. The viands that were set
before him, were homely, but abundant; nor were Edward's
griefs and perplexities so absorbing, as to overcome
the appetite of youth and health.


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Doctor Melmoth, and Mr. Langton, after a short private
conversation, had summoned the landlord, in the
hope of obtaining some clue to the developement of the
mystery. But no young lady, nor any stranger answering
to the description the doctor had received from Hugh
Crombie (which was indeed a false one) had been seen
to pass through the village since day-break. Here,
therefore, the friends were entirely at a loss in what direction
to continue the pursuit. The village was the
focus of several roads, diverging to widely distant portions
of the country; and which of these the fugitives
had taken, it was impossible to determine. One point,
however, might be considered certain,—that the village
was the first stage of their flight; for it commanded the
only outlet from the valley, except a rugged path among
the hills, utterly impassable by horse. In this dilemma,
expresses were sent by each of the different roads; and
poor Ellen's imprudence, the tale no wise decreasing as
it rolled along, became known to a wide extent of country.
Having thus done every thing in his power to recover
his daughter, the merchant exhibited a composure which
doctor Melmoth admired, but could not equal. His own
mind, however, was in a far more comfortable state,
than when the responsibility of the pursuit had rested
upon himself.

Edward Walcott, in the meantime, had employed but
a very few moments in satisfying his hunger; after
which his active intellect alternately formed and relinquished
a thousand plans for the recovery of Ellen.—
Fanshawe's observation, that her flight must have commenced
after the subsiding of the storm, recurred to him.
On inquiry, he was informed that the violence of the
rain had continued, with a few momentary intermissions,
till near day light. The fugitives must, therefore, have


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passed through the village, long after its inhabitants
were abroad; and how, without the gift of invisibility,
they had contrived to elude notice, Edward could not

`Fifty years ago,' thought Edward, `my sweet Ellen
would have been deemed a witch, for this trackless journey.
Truly, I could wish I were a wizard, that I might
bestride a broom-stick, and follow her.'

While the young man, involved in these perplexing
thoughts, looked forth from the open window of the
apartment, his attention was drawn to an individual, evidently
of a different, though not of a higher class, than
the countrymen among whom he stood. Edward now
recollected that he had noticed his rough, dark face,
among the most earnest of those who had watched the
arrival of the party. He had then taken him for one of the
boatmen, of whom there were many in the village, and
who had much of a sailor-like dress and appearance. A
second, and more attentive observation, however, convinced
Edward that this man's life had not been spent
upon fresh water; and had any stronger evidence, than
the nameless marks which the ocean impresses upon its
sons, been necessary, it would have been found in his
mode of locomotion. While Edward was observing him,
he beat slowly up to one of Mr. Langton's servants, who
was standing near the door of the inn. He seemed
to question the man with affected carelessness; but
his countenance was dark and perplexed, when he
turned to mingle again with the crowd. Edward lost no
time in ascertaining from the servant the nature of his
inquiries. They had related to the elopement of Mr.
Langton's daughter; which was, indeed, the prevailing,
if not the sole subject of conversation in the village.


Page 100

The grounds for supposing that this man was in any
way connected with the angler, were, perhaps, very
slight; yet, in the perplexity of the whole affair, they
induced Edward to resolve to get at the heart of his
mystery. To attain this end, he took the most direct
method,—by applying to the man himself.

He had now retired apart from the throng and bustle of
the village, and was seated upon a condemned boat that
was drawn up to rot upon the banks of the river. His
arms were folded, and his hat drawn over his brows.
The lower part of his face, which alone was visible,
evinced gloom and depression, as did also the deep sighs,
which, because he thought no one was near him, he did
not attempt to restrain.

`Friend, I must speak with you,' said Edward Walcott,
laying his hand upon his shoulder, after contemplating
the man a moment, himself unseen.

He started at once from his abstraction and his seat,
apparently expecting violence, and prepared to resist it;
but perceiving the youthful and solitary intruder upon
his privacy, he composed his features with much quickness.

`What would you with me?' he asked.

`They tarry long,—or you have kept a careless
watch,' said Edward, speaking at a venture.

For a moment there seemed a probability of obtaining
such a reply to this observation, as the youth had intended
to elicit. If any trust could be put in the language of
the stranger's countenance, a set of words, different from
those to which he subsequently gave utterance, had
risen to his lips. But he seemed naturally slow of
speech; and this defect was now, as is frequently the
case, advantageous, in giving him space for reflection.


Page 101

`Look you, youngster;—crack no jokes on me,' he
at length said, contemptuously. `Away!—back whence
you came, or—' and he slightly waved a small rattan,
that he held in his right hand.

Edward's eyes sparkled, and his color rose. `You
must change this tone, fellow, and that speedily,' he observed.
`I order you to lower your hand, and answer
the questions that I shall put to you.'

The man gazed dubiously at him; but finally adopted
a more conciliatory mode of speech

`Well, master, and what is your business with me?' he
inquired. `I am a boatman out of employ. Any commands
in my line?'

`Pshaw! I know you, my good friend, and you cannot
deceive me,' replied Edward Walcott. `We are
private here,' he continued, looking around. `I have
no desire or intention to do you harm; and, if you act
according to my directions, you shall have no cause to
repent it.'

`And what if I refuse to put myself under your orders?'
inquired the man. `You are but a young captain, for
such an old hulk as mine.'

`The ill consequences of a refusal would all be on
your own side,' replied Edward. `I shall, in that case,
deliver you up to justice; if I have not the means of capturing
you myself,' he continued, observing the seaman's
eye to wander rather scornfully over his youthful
and slender figure, `there are hundreds within call
whom it will be in vain to resist. Besides, it requires
little strength to use this,' he added, laying his hand on
a pistol.

`If that were all, I could suit you there, my lad,' muttered
the stranger. He continued aloud, `well, what is
your will with me? D—d ungenteel treatment, this!—


Page 102
But put your questions; and to oblige you, I may answer
them;—if so be that I know any thing of the matter.'

`You will do wisely,' observed the young man. `And
now to business. What reason have you to suppose
that the persons for whom you watch are not already beyond
the village?'

The seaman paused long before he answered, and
gazed earnestly at Edward, apparently endeavoring to
ascertain from his countenance, the amount of his knowledge.
This he probably overrated, but, nevertheless,
hazarded a falsehood.

`I doubt not they passed before midnight,' he said.
`I warrant you they are many a league towards the seacoast,
ere this.'

`You have kept watch, then, since midnight?' asked

`Ay, that have I. And a dark and rough one it was,'
answered the stranger.

`And you are certain that if they passed at all, it must
have been before that hour?'

`I kept my walk across the road, till the village was
all astir,' said the seaman. `They could not have missed
me. So, you see, your best way is to give chase; for
they have a long start of you, and you have no time to

`Your information is sufficient, my good friend,' said
Edward, with a smile. `I have reason to know that
they did not commence their flight before midnight.
You have made it evident that they have not passed
since. Ergo, they have not passed at all. An indisputable
syllogism. And now will I retrace my footsteps.'


Page 103

`Stay, young man,' said the stranger, placing himself
full in Edward's way, as he was about to hasten to the
inn—` you have drawn me in to betray my comrade; but
before you leave this place, you must answer a question
or two of mine. Do you mean to take the law with you?
—or will you right your wrongs, if you have any, with
your own right hand?'

`It is my intention to take the latter method. But if
I choose the former, what then?' demanded Edward.

`Nay, nothing;—only, you or I might not have gone
hence alive,' replied the stranger. `But as you say he
shall have fair play—'

`On my word, friend,' interrupted the young man. `I
fear your intelligence has come too late to do either good
or harm. Look towards the inn; my companions are
getting to horse, and my life on it, they know whither to

So saying, he hastened away, followed by the stranger.
It was indeed evident that news, of some kind or other, had
reached the village. The people were gathered in
groups, conversing eagerly; and the pale cheeks, uplifted
eye-brows, and outspread hands of some of the female
sex, filled Edward's mind with undefined, but intolerable
apprehensions. He forced his way to doctor
Melmoth, who had just mounted, and seizing his bridle,
peremptorily demanded if he knew aught of Ellen Langton.