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Page 236


“Sisters! weave the web of death:
Sisters! cease; the work is done.”

The Fatal Sisters.

The conversation overheard by the faithless
Jennet, and communicated with all its particulars
to Sir Philip Gardiner, was, as must have been
already conjectured by our readers, the contrivance
for Magawisca's liberation. It appeared
by her statement, that Hope and Magawisca unattended,
would, at a late hour of the evening,
pass through an uninhabited and unfrequented
part of the town near the water-side, and that
Everell, with assistants, would be in waiting for
them at a certain landing-place. Before they
reached there, Sir Philip knew there were many
points where they might be intercepted, without
the possibility of Everell's coming to their rescue.

Sir Philip was entangled in the meshes of his
own weaving; extrication was possible—nay, he
believed probable; but there was a fearful chance
against him. He had now to baffle well-founded
suspicions—to disprove facts—to double his
guard over his assumed and tiresome character—
and after all, human art could not secure him


Page 237
from accidents, which would bring in their train
immediate disgrace and defeat. His passion for
Miss Leslie had been stimulated by the obstacles
which opposed it. His hopes were certainly
abated by her indifference; but self-love, and its
minister vanity, are inexhaustible in their resources;
and Sir Philip trusted for better success in
future to his own powers, and to feminine weakness;
for he, like other profligates, believed that
there was no woman, however pure and lofty
her seeming, but she was commanded
“By such poor passion as the maid that milks,
And does the meanest chares;”
yet this process of winning the prize was slow,
and the result, alas! uncertain.

Jennet's information suggested a master-stroke
by which he could at once achieve his object; a
single coup de main by which he could carry the
citadel he had so long and painfully besieged. If an
evil spirit had been abroad on a corrupting mission,
he could not have selected a subject more eager to
grasp temptation than Sir Philip; nor a fitter
agent than Jennet, nor have contrived a more infernal
plot against an “innocent and aidless
lady,” than that which we must now disclose.

Chaddock (whose crew had occasioned such
danger and alarm to Miss Leslie) was stillriding in
the bay with his vessel. Sir Philip had formerly
some acquaintance with this man. He knew
him to be a desperate fellow—that he had once


Page 238
been in confederacy with the bucaniers of Tortuga—the
self-styled “brothers of the coast,” and
he believed that he might be persuaded to enter
upon any new and lawless enterprise.

Accordingly, from Governor Winthrop's he repaired
to Chaddock's vessel, and presented such
motives to him, and offered such rewards, as induced
the wretch to enter heartily into his designs.
Fortunately for their purposes, the vessel
was ready for sea, and they decided to commence
their voyage that very night. All Miss Leslie's
paternal connexions were on the royal side—her
fortune was still in their hands, and subject to
their control. “If the lady's reluctance to accept
his hand was not subdued before the end of
the voyage,” (a chance scarcely worth consideration)
Sir Philip said, “she must then submit to
stern necessity, which even a woman's will could
not oppose.” After their arrival in England, he
meant to abandon himself to the disposal of fortune;
but he promised Chaddock, that he, with
certain other cavaliers, whom he asserted had
already meditated such an enterprise, would, with
the remnant of their fortunes, embark with him,
and enrol themselves among the adventurers of

It may be remembered by our readers, that early
in our history, some glimmerings of a plot of this
nature appear, from a letter of Sir Philip's, even
then to have dawned on his mind; but other
purposes had intervened and put it off till now,


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when it was ripened by sudden and fit opportunity.

The detail of operations being all settled by
these worthy confederates, Sir Philip, at nightfall,
went once more to the town, secretly withdrew
his baggage from his lodgings, and bidding
Rosa, who, in sorrow and despair, mechanically
obeyed, to follow, he returned to the vessel,
humming, as he took his last look at the scene
where he had played so unworthy a part,

“Kind Boston, adieu! part we must, though 'tis pity,
But I'm made for mankind—all the world is my city.”

Sir Philip, in his arrangements with Chaddock,
excused himself from being one of the party who
were to effect the abduction of Miss Leslie.
Perhaps the external habits of a gentleman, and
it may be, some little remnant of human kindness,
(for we would not believe that man can become
quite a fiend,) rendered him reluctant to take a
personal part in the cruel outrage he had planned
and prepared. Chaddock himself commanded
the enterprise, and was to be accompanied by
four of the most daring of his crew.

The night was moonless, and not quite clear.
“It is becoming dark, extremely dark, Captain,”
Sir Philip said, in giving his last instructions,
“but it is impossible you should make a mistake.
Miss Leslie's companion, as I told you, may be
disguised—she may wear a man's or woman's
apparel, but you have an infallible guide in her


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height: she is at least a half head taller than Miss
Leslie. It may be well, when you get to the
wharf, to divide your party, agreeing on the signal
of a whistle. But I rely on your skill and discretion.”

“You may rely on it,” replied the hardy desperado.
“He who has boarded Spanish Galleons,
stormed castles, pillaged cities, violated
churches, and broken open monasteries, may be
entrusted with the capture of a single defenceless

Sir Philip recoiled from trusting his prey in the
clutches of this tiger; but there was no alternative.
“Have a care, Chaddock,” he said, “that
she is treated with all due and possible gentleness.”

“Ay, ay, Sir Philip—kill, but not wound”—a
smile of derision accompanied his words.

“You have pledged me the honour of a gentheman,”
said Sir Philip, in an alarmed tone.

“Ay—the only bond of free souls. Remember,
Sir Philip,” he added, for he perceived the
suspicion the knight would fain have hidden in his
inmost soul, “remember our motto, `Trusted, we
are true—suspected, we betray.' I have pledged
my honour, better than parchment and seal—if
you confide in it.”

“Oh, I do—entirely—implicitly—I have not
the shadow of a doubt, my dear fellow.”

Chaddock turned away, laughing contemptuously
at the ineffectual hypocrisy of Sir Philip,


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and ordered his men, who were to be left in charge
of the vessel, to have every thing in readiness to
sail at the moment of his return. “And whither
bound, Captain?” demanded one of his sailors.

“To hell,” was his ominous reply. This answer,
seemingly accidental, was long remembered
and repeated, as a proof that the unhappy
wretch was constrained, thus involuntarily, to pronounce
his approaching doom.

Once more, before he left the vessel, Sir Philip
addressed him: “Be in no haste to return,”
he said; “the lady was not to leave Governor
Winthrop's before half-past eight—she may meet
with unforeseen detentions—you will reach the
dock a few minutes before nine. Take your stations
as I have directed, and fortune cannot
thwart us, if you are patient—wait till ten—eleven—twelve,
or one, if need be. Again, I entreat
there may be no unnecessary haste; I shall
have no apprehensions—I repose on your fidelity.”

“D—n him,” muttered Chaddock, as he turnaway,
“he reposes on my fidelity!—while he has
my vessel in pledge.”

Sir Philip remained standing by the side of the
vessel, listening to the quick strokes of the oars,
till the sounds died away in the distance, then he
spoke aloud and exultingly, “shine out my good
star, and guide this prize to me.”

“Oh! rather,” exclaimed Rosa, who stood unobserved
beside him, “rather, merciful heaven,


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let thy lightnings blast her, or thy waves swallow
her. Oh, God!” she continued, sinking on her
knees, and clasping her hands, “shield the innocent—save
her from the hand of the destroyer.”

Sir Philip recoiled, it seemed to him there was
something prophetic in the piercing tones of the
unhappy girl, and, for a moment, he felt as if her
prayer must penetrate to heaven, but soon collecting
courage, “hush that mockery, Rosa,” he
said, “your words are scorpions to me.”

Rosa remained for a few moments on her
knees, but without again giving voice to her feelings,
then rising, and sobbing as she spoke, “I
thought,” she said, “no prayer of mine would
ever go upward again. I have tried to pray, and
the words fell back like stones upon my heart;
but now I pray for the innocent, and they part
from me winged for heaven.” She folded her
arms, looked upwards, and continued to speak as
if it were the involuntary utterance of her
thoughts: “How wildly the stars shoot their
beams through the parting clouds! I have sometimes
thought that good spirits come down on
those bright rays to do their messages of love.
They may even now be on their way to guard a
pure and helpless sister—God speed them!”

Sir Philip's superstitious fears were awakened:
“What do you mean, Rosa?” he exclaimed;
“what, are you talking of stars! I see nothing
but this cursed hazy atmosphere, that hangs like


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a pall over the water. Stars indeed! are you
mad, Rosa?”

Rosa replied, with a touching simplicity, as if
the inquiry were made in good faith, “Yes—betimes
I think I am mad. Thoughts rush so fast,
so wildly through my poor head—and then, again,
all is vacancy. Yes,” she continued, as if meditating
her case, “I think my brain is touched;
but this—this, Sir Philip, is not madness. Do
you not know that all the good have their ministering
spirits? Why, I remember reading in the
`Legends of the Saints,' which our good Abbess
gave me, of a chain, invisible to mortal senses,
that encompassed all the faithful, from the bright
spirits that wait around the throne of heaven, to
the lowliest that walk upon the earth. It is of
such exquisite temper that nought but sin can
harm it; but if that but touch it, it falls apart like
rust-eaten metal.”

“Away with these fantastic legends, inventions
of hypocritical priests and tiresome old women.
You must curb these foolish vagaries of your imagination,
Rosa. I have present and urgent work
for you; do but this good service for me, and I
will love you again, and make you as happy as
you were in your brightest days.”

“You make me happy, Sir Philip! Alas! alas!
there is no happiness without innocence; if that
be once lost, like the guilty Egyptian's pearl, you
told me of, melted in the bowl of pleasure, happiness
cannot be restored.”


Page 244

“As you please, girl—if you will not be happy,
you may play the penitent Magdalen the rest of
your life. You shall select your own convent,
and tell your beads, and say your prayers, and be
as demure and solemn as any seeming saint of
them all. I will give you a penance to begin
with,—nay, I am serious—hear me. In spite of
your prayers, and visions, and silly fancies, Miss
Leslie must soon be here; the snare is too well
prepared to be escaped. After this one violence,
to which she and cruel fate have driven me, I will
be a true knight, as humble and worshipful as any
hero of chivalry.”

“But she does not now love you, and do you
not fear she will hate you for this outrage?”

“Ay, but there is a potent alchymy at work for
us in the hearts of you women, that turns hate to
love. You shall yet hear her say, like the lady of
Sir Gawaine, `Oh! how it is befallen me, that
now I love him whom I before most hated of all
men living.' But you must aid me, Rosa—this
proud queen must have her maid of honour.”

“And I must be the poor slave to do her bidding!”
said Rosa, impatiently, interrupting
him, and all other feelings giving way to the rising
of womanly pride.

“Nay, not so, Rosa,” replied Sir Philip; and
added, in a voice which he hoped might soothe
her petulance, “render to her all maidenly service;
for a little while do the tasks of the bondwoman,
and you shall yet have her wages—nay,


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start not—you remember the good Patriarch's
affections manifestly leaned to the side of Hagar.”

“Yes, yes—and I remember too what her fate
was—the fate of all who followin her footsteps—to
be cast out to wander forth in a desert, where there
is not one sign of God's bounty left to them.”—
She burst into tears, and added, “I would give
my poor life, and a thousand more, if I had them,
to save Hope Leslie, but I will never do her menial

Sir Philip continued to offer arguments and entreaties,
but nothing that he said had the least
effect on Rosa; he could not extort a promise
from her, nor perceive the slightest indication of
conformity to his wishes. But trusting that when
the time came she would of necessity submit to
his authority, he relinquished his solicitations, and
quitting her side, he paced the deck with hurried
impatient footsteps.

There is no solitude to the good or bad. Nature
has her ministers that correspond with the
world within the breast of man. The words,
“my kingdom is within you,” are worth all the
metaphysical discoveries ever made by unassisted
human wisdom. If all is right in that “kingdom,”
beautiful forms and harmonious voices
surround us, discoursing music; but if the mind
is filled with guilty passions—recollections of sin
—and purposes of evil, the ministering angels
of nature are converted into demons, whose


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“monstrous rout are heard to howl like stable
wolves.” Man cannot live in tranquil disobedience
to the law of virtue, inscribed on his soul
by the finger of God. “Our torments” cannot
“become our elements.” To Sir Philip's disordered
imagination the heavy mist seemed like an
infolding shroud—there was a voice of sullen
menace in the dashing of the waves against the
vessel—the hooting of the night-bird was ominous—and
Rosa's low sobs, and the horrid oaths
of the misruled crew, rung in his ears like evil

Time wore away heavily enough till ten, the
earliest moment he had calculated on the return
of the boat, but after that it appeared to stand
stock-still. He ordered the signal lights attached
to the mast to be doubled—he strained his eyes
in the vain attempt to descry an approaching object,
and then cursed the fog that hemmed in his
sight. Suddenly a fresh breeze came off the
shore, the fog dispersed, and he could discern the
few lights that still glimmered from the habitations
of the town, but no boat was seen or heard.
“What folly,” he repeated to himself a hundred
times, “to be thus impatient; they certainly have
not failed in their object, or relinquished it, for in
that case they would have been here—it is scarcely
time to expect them yet;” but, as every one
must have experienced, when awaiting with intense
anxiety an expected event, the suggestions
of reason could not calm the perturbations of impatience.


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For another hour he continued to
stride the deck, approaching the light at every
turn to look at his watch. The sailors now began
to fret at the delay. “Every thing was
ready,” they said, “good luck had sent them a
fair breeze, and the tide had just turned in their
favor.” And in Sir Philip's favour too, it appeared,
for at this moment the longed-for boat was
both heard and seen rapidly nearing the vessel.
He gazed towards it, as if it contained for him a
sentence of life or death—and life it was, for he
soon perceived a female form wrapped in Chaddock's

The boat came to the side of the vessel.—
“Has the scoundrel dared to put his arm around
Hope Leslie?” thought the knight, as he saw the
captain's arm encircling the unfortunate girl;
but a second reflection told him that this, which
seemed even to him profanity, was but a necessary
precaution! “He dared not trust her—she
would have leaped into the waves rather than
have come to me—ungracious girl!”

“What hath kept you?” called out one of the

“The devil and Antonio,” replied the captain.
“We left him with the boat, and while we were
grappling the prize he ran away. I had to be
chains and fetters to the prisoner—we had not
hands to man our oars, so we waited for the fellow,
but he came not, and has, doubtless, ere
this, given the alarm. Weigh your anchor and


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spread your sails, boys—starting with this wind
and tide we'll give them a devil of a chace, and
bootless at last.”

While this was saying, the unhappy victim was
lifted up the side of the vessel, and received in
Sir Philip's arms. She threw back the hood that
had been drawn over her head, and attempted to
speak, but was prevented by her shawl, which
the ruffians had bound over her face to prevent
the emission of any sound. Sir Philip was shocked
at the violence and indignity she had suffered.
“Did I not order you, Chaddock,” he said, “to
treat the lady with all possible respect?”

“D—n your orders,” replied the captain, “was
I to let her scream like forty sea-mews, and raise
the town upon us.”

“A thousand—thousand pardons!” whispered
Sir Philip, in a low imploring voice, and then
aloud to Chaddock, “but after you left the town,
captain, you surely should have paid more respect
to my earnest and repeated injunctions.”

“D—n your injunctions. John Chaddock is
yet master of his vessel and boat too. I tell
you when the fishing-smacks hailed us, that even
with that close-reefed sail, she made a noise like
a creaking mast in a gale.”

“Oh forgive—forgive,” whispered Sir Philip,
“this horrible—necessary outrage. Lean on me,
I will conduct you away from these wretches—a
room is prepared for you—Rosa shall attend you
—you are queen here—you command us all. Forgive—forgive—and


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fear nothing. I will not remove
your skreen till you are beyond the lawless
gaze of these fellows—here, Roslin!” he called,
for he still kept up the farce of Rosa's disguise
in the presence of the ship's company, “here,
Roslin!—take the lamp, and follow me.”

Rosa obeyed, her bosom heaving with struggling
emotions, and her hand trembling so that
she could scarcely hold the lamp. “Bear the
light up, and more steadily, Roslin. Nay, my beloved—adored
mistress, do not falter; hasten
forward—in one minute more we shall be below,
in your own domain, where you may admit or
exclude me at pleasure. Do not struggle thus—
you have driven me to this violence—you must
forgive the madness you have caused. I am your
slave for life.”

They had just passed down the steps that served
as a companion way, when Sir Philip observed
on his right hand, an uncovered barrel of gun-powder.
It had been left in this exposed situation
by a careless fellow, entrusted with the preparation
of the fire arms for the expedition to
the town. “Have a care,” cried Sir Philip to
Rosa, who was just coming down the stairs; “stay
where you are—do not approach that gunpowder
with the light.” He heard a footstep above.
“Here, friend,” he called, “lend us a hand; come
down and cover this powder. We cannot discretely
move an inch.” The footsteps ceased,
but there was no reply to the call. “I cannot


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leave Miss Leslie,” continued Sir Philip, “she
leans on me as if she were fainting. Set down
your lamp, Rosa, and come yourself, and cover
the barrel.”

Rosa did not set down the lamp, but moved
forward one or two steps with it in her hand, and
then paused. She seemed revolving some dreadful
purpose in her mind. Her eyes glanced wildly
from Sir Philip to his helpless victim—then she
groaned aloud, and pressed her hand upon her
head as if it were bursting.

Sir Philip did not observe her—he was intent
upon his companion. “She is certainly fainting,”
he said, “it is the close air and this cursed
shawl.” He attempted to remove it, but the
knot by which it was tied baffled his skill, and he
again shouted to Rosa, “Why do you not obey
me? Miss Leslie is suffocating—set down the
lamp, I say, and call assistance. Damnation!”
he screamed, “what means the girl?” as Rosa
made one desperate leap forward, and shrieking,
“it cannot be worse for any of us!” threw the
lamp into the barrel.

The explosion was instantaneous—the hapless,
pitiable girl—her guilty destroyer—his victim—the
crew—the vessel, rent to fragments,
were hurled into the air, and soon engulfed in
the waves.