« VorigeDoorgaan »
and corner of the house, fully expecting to find the sandy-haired mechanic in some place of concealment; but after a very scrutinizing search, during which every chimney in the house was examined, and and no trace whatever of the mechanic could be found, the landlord began to think his guest must have worn a wig and carpenter's attire, for the sake of disguise. The ostler, however, could not be convinced but that the gem'n was endowed with some supernatural power, and could as easily change himself to a horse or à cow, as a sandy-haired carpenter,
Arrived at the church about twenty minutes before eight, there were the poor curate and the church clerk, both in readiness to do their duty: the one with more money in his pocket than he ever had before at any one time in his life; and the other, revelling in smiles, at the deluded idea that he had two wedding ceremonies to attend that day : a circumstance he did not fail to communicate to Charley Scupper, whilst waiting for the bride-elect.
Charley very seriously inquired, for the sake of conversation, at what hour the other wedding party was expected.
“Not before ten o'clock, I dare say, sir,” replied the clerk. see the Baron-knight has a long way to come.”
Precisely at five minutes to eight, a lady in plain and simple attire, but with a very thick veil, entered the church ; and Charley immediately called on the poor curate to perform the marriage ceremony between that lady and himself ; which he did, though with much self-concern when he saw who the parties were. Before leaving the church, Charley paid the poor curate the remainder of the gold promised ; and made the clerk a liberal present, on condition that he made no stir in the village, or revealed the circumstance of the marriage for one full hour from that time. To which request the clerk promised implicit obedience ; and Charley Scupper stepped into the carriage with his new wife, Clara ! And two lighter or more joyous hearts were never united in the holy bonds of matrimony.
The new-married couple had but a short distance to travel by the carriage ; for Charley had taken the wise precaution of guarding against annoyance, and cutting off all hopes of pursuit, (which in rage and disappointment Sir Reginald or others might rashly undertake), by embarking with his lovely bride in the “ Sooloo,” the captain of which had been
specially directed to have that yacht in perfect readiness to receive them. It was the first occasion of that famous little clipper being used since the thorough repair she had undergone at Poole.
Arrived aboard the yacht with his bride, Charley found his own luggage, and also that of his wife, had been already carefully taken aboard ; and everything being in readiness, the little bark glided triumphantly out of the harbour—that harbour in which she had so often before distinguished herself-on this her last enterprising expedition, and with the most valued prize she had ever won. peared to bless the happy pair ; the sun shone brightly upon them ; and the wind, which freely filled the sails, was exactly as they wished it-fair as fair could be !
“By heaven ! it was a glorious sight,
And in the vivid morning light
But little time had they to gaze
Or mark the breakers in the bay
For other thoughts were theirs that day." It must have been a fast vessel indeed, to have overtaken the Sooloo, even had pursuit been attempted ; but, after a very fine passage of a few hours, the happy couple landed at a small but favourite sea-side retreat, where they spent their honeymoon in undisturbed tranquillity. From this place Clara addressed her mother in the following strain :MY DEAREST MOTHER,—Long before this comes to your hands
you will have heard of my clandestine marriage with my ever-loved and affectionate Charley; and I thank God for his merciful goodness in saving me at the eleventh hour from a marriage which, not only threatened me with unhappiness, but the very bells which would have rung peals of joy on the occasion, from our village steeple, would also have tolled my funeral knell within three months of that marriage-day. Some guardian angel, however, whose name I have yet to learn, directed my wandering Charley to my bosom ; and I am married to the only man I ever loved. I am deeply sorry for the injury and wrong I have done Sir Reginald. I accepted his suit under peculiar circumstances, and out of the great l'espect you entertained for him, and with a view of dutiful obedience to your wishes ; but from the moment I did so, I was a miserable girl. For what has since happened I take upon niyself the entire responsibility; at the same time, I am sure you will admit that I have only exercised a natural and undoubted right, in consulting my own heart and inclination on this critical occasion. I ask your forgiveness for these my past transgressions, not only in my own name, but in that of my beloved husband ; trusting that our future conduct may prove the affectionate and dutiful regard we nevertheless entertain towards you, and our high appreciation of your maternal countenance.
“For ever, dearest Mother,
Up to this stage, Charley had not revealed to his wife the secret of the great addition to his fortune acquired on the death of his late uncle. The pleasure he felt on announcing that circumstance to her may be easily imagined ; and he also felt (though he did not express it) that such reverse of fortune might operate as a soothing influence on his previous misconduct towards her. Clara listened with pleasing surprise to her husband's description of the mansion and grounds destined to be their home; and then inquired, with tender feeling, in whose charge was left his little son. Indeed, she expressed so much anxiety to foster the little orphan, that anyone, unacquainted with Clara's true character, might have doubted her sincerity.
The scene of alarm and wild confusion which prevailed at Littleborough, within an hour of the time of Clara's departure from that village, may be better imagined than described. Mrs. Littleborough, after rushing about the house in fearful anxiety, and despatching messengers in all directions, at last gave herself up to weeping. Sir Reginald Runwall arrived in a state of violent frenzy, swearing shocking
oaths at every one in the house, and threatening a great deal more than he dared put in execution. Tom Littleborough was calmest of all; for, soon as ever he heard of Clara's disappearance, he coolly made personal inquiries in the village, where he learnt the true state of affairs, and that a knot had been tied between his sister and Charley Scupper, which the combined skill of all the lawyers in England could not sever. Tom knew that his sister had consulted her heart on the occasion; and the scales appearing to fall from his eyes, he heheld her noble mind triumphing over the artifices of the boastful knight, who had been wooing her with golden promises, when she turned her back upon his glittering vanities, which found no place in her heart, and embraced the more valued and lasting promises of natural and unbiassed happiness.
After the excitement and turmoil of this scene had subsided, and Clara and her husband had returned to their home, with every hope and prospect of unclouded happiness before them, an event occurred which vexed Clara to the heart, and was the cause of much sorrow both to herself and husband for a long, long time. The faithful Lucy, whom, as we have before stated, had been her bosom friend from childhood, was now no longer numbered with the living. She had been seized with inflammation of the chest and throat, brought on by not changing her clothes after getting so thoroughly wet on the occasion of her ride a-horseback (which circumstance will be fresh in the memory of our readers). On hearing of Lucy's dangerous attack, Clara imme. diately flew to Littleborough ; when, to her bitter grief, she found her most faithful and amiable domestic, to whom she owed her own existence as it were, in an entirely hopeless state. Poor Lucy! she had just sufficient strength left to put out her hand and welcome her beloved mistress with a smile. But, oh! so full of meaning was that smile, that Clara speaks of it as the most heavenly greeting that ever lighted upon her. It had all the influence of a dying blessing. Lucy could only articulate in a faint whisper, and the substance of her inquiries were as to Clara's happiness. Lucy confided to her the trusts of an executrix ; asking her to endeavour to find her brother, who was a second mate aboard the “ Iris” East Indian merchant ship: and to whom (being her nearest and dearest relative) she had bequeathed the greater portion of her little all. Clara undertook the trusts with excessive grief ; but with faithful promises to fulfil to the letter her dying maid's request. A heavier trial than this scene could not possibly have been laid upon
the once-more-miserable Clara, whose heart's desire, at that moment, was, that she might die with her, rather than be parted from so good a soul. None knew the inestimable qualities of this woman so well as Clara ; and on learning that she had apparently sacrificed her own life for the purpose of securing her mistress's happiness, Clara's troubles were greater than she could bear; and she sunk down exhausted with grief. But, reproaching herself for her weakness at a time when courage of heart was required, she felt that it was now her turn to show attention and regard; and, be it ever said to her credit, nothing could induce Clara to leave the bedside of her maid until death closed for ever, in this life, the eyes of her whose last prayer was softly breathed in concert with Clara ; and, with peaceful resignation, two sincere Christians bade farewell—one a traveller to the regions of
departed souls; the other, to perform the duties of a wife and a motherboth in the firm hope of meeting again in the world to come.
Lucy left behind her nearly £300, the savings of her wages and presents during the long period of her faithful servitude. Clara immediately proceeded to carry out the dying wishes of the departed ; but it was not until nearly two years afterwards that she was able to receive any tidings of poor Lucy's sailor-brother, notwithstanding the many letters she had written and inquiries instituted. However, one morning in the month of April, Clara was informed that a sailor man, named “Saville,” wished to see her. Clara knew directly the severe trial which lay before her ; and with a nobleness of mind, for which she was amiably pre-eminent, summoned all her courage to perform that task as a duty she owed to her deceased attendant. Clara was much pleased with the appearance of the sailor, who was a fine powerful man, with a handsome though weather-beaten faco; and a kind expression, very much like his late sister. Clara then related every circumstance she could remember respecting the death of poor Lucy, and many happy and pleasing events connected with her life during the time she was in her service. Often, and again during the sad, sad tale, the hardy sailor could not control his feelings, and gushes of tears, from time to time, rolled down his brawny cheeks. But it is with the bravest men we sometimes find the tenderest hearts : and yet who is there, with human feelings, who could suppress a tear when thinking of poor Lucy?
Charley Scupper having been called into the room to assist his wife in handing over the probate of Lucy's will, with the scrip for the money which had been invested in the Funds since her death, he fancied he recognized in the sailor's features a face slightly familiar to him.
“Sir,” said the sailor, “I perceive that you have some remembrance of my face, though probably you cannot call to mind the occasion on which we once met.'
“ I am certain I have seen you before; but when and where I cannot at this moment remember.”
“Well then I'll tell you, sir,” said the sailor. " It is about four years ago since I tapped you on the shoulder on the night of a sailingmatch in the Thames, and told you you had been cheated and deceived."
“My good fellow !” said Charley, seizing him by the hand, " I have never forgotten you, and have ever since wished you had confided your name to me. You did a great public good by that kind hint. I had indeed been cheated and deceived, as I discovered to my astonishment. Now, tell me, what can I do for you? I would do anything in my power to serve so worthy a man.
The sailor, however, would accept nothing but a silver spuff-box, which Charley insisted on giving him. And here, want of space commands us to abruptly take leave of Richard Saville.
The report of Sir Reginald Runwall's disappointment having reached the ears of Mrs. Crawler, the widow lady with four marriageable daughters, whom Sir Reginald met on one occasion at a public ball at Scarborough ; that kind and sympathizing mamma now wrote to Sir Reginald, expressing her “ sincere condolence" with him on the annoyance he had been subject to by the "ruthless treatment” of Miss Littleborough ; and further expressing an earnest hope that he would honour their humble, but hospitable abode, with an early visit ; which might
serve to divert his thoughts from dwelling too much upon past events; and would at the same time afford Mrs. Crawler much pleasure, and her daughters inexpressible delight; they having never forgotten him, and often speaking of him since the Scarborough ball. The bait, though well directed, failed to lure the wealthy Baronet; who saw at a glance it was but artificial; and, indeed, if it had been otherwise, we question if the united charms of the mamma and her four marriageable daughters would have been successful in averting his passion for the pretty bar-maid at Aldborough; and he now determined on reeking his revenge upon society by asking the hand of Annie Barton. After a very short renewal of his former acquaintance with that young woman; and having obtained the sanction of her parents, he led her to the altar, and made her "Lady Runwall, of Doningale Park."
It now only remains to add, that Mrs. Littleborough lived to see her daughter as happy as her heart could desire; and at times, when by herself, she would reflect with bitter reproach on the means she had used to endeavour to bring about a marriage with her child, which she now saw would have been attended with most disastrous consequences; and with a party who had been through life repulsive to her daughter's feelings, happiness would have been quite out of the question.
Tom Littleborough, and his merry little wife, appeared the happiest couple under the sun; notwithstanding that lady had twice presented her husband with twins; and thus contributed further to the no small fund of gossip for the "distinguished Aunts" Lavinia and Florazetta ; who were so completely taken aback on referring to their precise memoranda of dates of days and hours, that they really, after all, began to think seriously of making deep researches in science and natural philosophy.
The yacht Sooloo" was latterly used by Charley Scupper as a fishing yacht, and finally, on being replaced by a larger vessel, was sold to a dredgerman, and is to this day employed in that vocation off the eastern coast and in the English Channel.
Mrs. Scupper's first-born was a son, and at her special desire was named "Charley," though such was the name of his little stepbrother. Of the two, of course the elder is legally and rightfully heir to the estate of the late Richard Scupper, Esq., though in after years we may some day be startled at the announcement in the Court of Chancery, of a disputed title to the Scupper estates, by a cause being thrown into the labyrinths of that tardy but equitable jurisdiction, under the significant denomination-" Scupper versus Scupper."