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tleman who was most active in sifting every circumstance that could possibly lead to the discovery of the murderer.
The general suspicion pointed to poachers. It was supposed that Lord Orlesmere had in the course of a moonlight ramble come upon an enemy of his hares and pheasants, and had been shot, either accidentally in a scuffle, or purposely, under the supposition that he was one of the keepers. No one knew what other probable motive to assign for the murder of a man so popular and so beloved in the neighbourhood.
It is possible that no other solution of the mystery would ever have been suggested, had not a little shepherd-boy happened to lose his footing on a plank crossing a ditch, which was situated about two hundred yards from the spot where the body was found. The child fell to the bottom of the ditch, and in his struggles to regain his footing, amongst the dead leaves and black water, his hand struck against a metallic substance; feeling surprised at the touch of something which his country-bred fingers told him was very different from the roots of trees or embedded stones, he dug it up; and, running with his prize to his father, announced that he had " found this thing in the ditch!"
Mrs. Maurice was still seated at her window when she observed a labouring man walking hurriedly up to the back door, and noted that he held something in his hand which flashed in the sun as he passed. When he drew nearer, she saw what it was; and the cold grip on her heart seemed to tighten, as she whispered to herself—"It
tween George and the keeper?" the voice asked again.
Yes; or perhaps the person to whose care the keeper confided it when he sent it to the gunsmith's- -a great deal turns on that."
"A great deal!" said Mrs. Maurice to herself, with a deep-drawn sigh; "they are on the track now."
She looked round the room, and wondered to see how little changed it was since yesterday; a few more rose-leaves had dropped round the blue jug-the cat had put an end to the blue-bottle's drowsy existence by a succession of playful pats, and was purring out its content in the sunbut otherwise all was unaltered; and, catching sight of the locket dangling over the workbasket, Mrs. Maurice half-smiled to think how slight was the cause- - how insignificant the anger-which had disturbed yesterday's interview with her lover. She always liked to sit in this room for some days after it had been tenanted by Ambrose Hood. She revived in her day-dreams all the dead sweetness of his past visit; she would fill the air with his voice, until her heart bounded and her breath came quick; she would flush at the fancied touch of his lips, and wince at the memory of some unkind look in his eyes.
But to-night other thoughts occupied her
A few hours later she stole away unperceived from Orlesmere, under cover of the darkness, and walked rapidly towards the Home Farm, as Ambrose Hood's residence was called.
When she arrived at his door, she flung some gravel softly against the window.
A blanched face peered out from a casement above, and looked cautiously round to see if any one were observing the late visitor to the farm; then the door opened quickly, and Mrs. Maurice passed in.
She knelt down by the low-burning fire to warm her chilled frame, and then she turned her pale face towards her lover.
"Oh, Ambrose! why have you not gone?
It is impossible to describe the accent of despair that rang in her broken voice. But even now, tenderness for him shone through her terror-stricken eyes and beamed on her haggard face. No physical prostration, no mental distress, could ever dim the expression of love as supreme as hers.
How could I?" he said sullenly. "I
was too late for the mail-train- after· old happiness, and is wearing it new your after it was all over; and when it was in her breast. known, it wouldn't have been safe for me to go in such a hurry. I might have been stopped!"
Ambrose! they have found the pistol!" Hood leapt from his chair as though he himself had received the pistol's charge in his heart; but the woman put her arms round him, and drew him back to his seat. Then she thew herself on his bosom. “Oh, Ambrose !" she cried, “don't look so awful; I am going to save you, dear! No one will think of you no one will dare to touch you."
His lips clove to each other- he could not speak; but his scared eyes asked the question, "How ? "
She tightened her arms round him, and with her full eyes streaming on him all the glory of her sacrifice, cried:
Because, dear, if worse comes to the worst, I am going to take it all on myself! Love me a little, Ambrose - kiss me tonight, for by to-morrow there won't be a soul who would touch my hand, because of what my love for you will make me say! Kiss me again, Ambrose, as if you loved me; and, whatever comes to-morrow, I wouldn't change places to-night with the happiest queen in Christendom!"
MRS. MAURICE'S CONFESSION. "THERE had been love passages between my Lord and me, and my heart was very sore, when I heard he was to be married. When a man makes your heart all aflame with love for him, he cannot put it out again by cold looks-he only makes the fire the hotter, and the pain the sharper; and, even if he tramples out love, he leaves revenge amongst the ashes. When I heard my Lord was going to take another woman to his arms, I said to myself, I'd rather he were dead!' A mother wouldn't like to see her babe fondling another woman's breast -a husband wouldn't fancy that his wife should look love into another man's eyes. But none of these feel so bitter as she who can never think of the man she loves without remembering that his heart is turned from her! It is hard to love the very sound of a man's voice to thrill and tremble at a look from his eyes, or a chance touch from his hand - and yet to know that he don't think of you when he speaks doesn't see you when he looks is scarcely conscious when he touches you -all because another woman has stolen
'My Lord wrote to me on the afternoon before his death, asking me to meet him that night in the summer-house behind the limes. (I have given Mr. Hardware the note.) I went there at 11 o'clock P.M., taking with me a pistol which belonged to Lord Orlesmere. Hood, the steward, had given me the pistol that day, asking me to put it into the hands of the valet to take to his master's room. It was the pistol that had been sent to town to the gunsmith's, and Hood had brought it from the station. When Hood was gone I took the pistol myself up to Lord Orlesmere's sitting-room, and then I took it out of its case and loaded it. I knew how to load a pistol, because my Lord taught me in the days when I used to keep him company in the shooting-gallery. I loaded this one, and then went out to keep my appointment.
"I am not going to tell you all we talked about. It is enough for you to know that I tried to put him off his marriage. I begged and prayed him at least to postpone it; but he said he couldn't, and somehow or other, in an instant - I knew no more — - there was a flash and a bang, and my Lord fell back heavily amongst the branches. He cried out something as he fell; I couldn't quite hear what it was-the boughs made such a rustling-but it sounded like "Oh Godhelp! Then I knelt down by hin a moment, but he did not speak again. I felt sorry for him, and sat holding his hand until it grew cold, and then I got frightened and came home. This is all I have to say. I had not meant to confess; but, when I heard that the pistol was found, I knew that it would be traced to me, I knew that Hood's evidence would hang me."
Such was the substance of the document by which Jane Maurice swore away her character and her life. It is strange how much that was circumstantially correct she contrived to retain in a statement so utterly at variance with the truth.
When her confession was made known, popular feeling against her became so violent that it was with difficulty she was removed with safety to the county gaol; and even her stedfast heart would have failed her when she heard the shouts of execration which pursued her on her way, had she not remembered that it would have been far more terrible to her to see Hood endure this than to suffer it herself.
She had made but one request to her lover; he was to see her as often as the law would permit. Hood swore that he would come to her frequently; and the thought of
his vow, and the kiss which accompanied it, served to strengthen her in the dreary hours of her first night in prison.
It was night the last night Jane Maurice was ever to see close over the red rifts of cloud in the west. Involuntarily she listened to a bird singing on the window-ledge without, and to the babble of the children playing in the fields behind the prison. A strange awe filled her breast as she remembered that, before another evening's sun shone on bird and child, the blackness of night would have closed over her for ever. The poor sinner did not dare pray for the eternal light which awaits the pure in soul. She did not think she could be forgiven the foulness of her past life. Even if she had had faith in the large mercy of God, her thoughts were still so cumbered by earthly desires, her heart was beating so turbulently for love of Lord Orlesmere's murderer, that she felt she could not lay her soul open to Heaven as one anxious and fit to be shriven.
She was calm and composed, excepting when she heard any steps outside the door, and then her pale lips opened as if to enable her to breathe more quickly, until all was silent, and hope was again dull in her heart.
and her drawn lips relaxed in the soothing calm of sleep.
No shadow of the gallows, no vicious or impure memory, came to mar the divine peace of these her last earthly dreams.
She fancied she heard the patter of falling chestnuts, that she and a little sister were filling their purple aprons with the gold brown fruit, and then the patter of the fruit turned to the drip of rain amidst the leaves, and their father's voice called to them to run into the house. Presently she was lying in her little bed at home-she was looking at a familiar print of Red Riding Hood on the opposite wall, and felt a vague tremor of pleasure at seeing it again, then her mother's voice stirred her, calling, “Get up, dear! it's a lovely morning. Listen how the birds are singing. Wake up, Jenny!"
And Mrs. Maurice awoke-awoke to hear the birds' faint twitter ushering in the dawn of day-awoke to remember that twenty-five years lay between now and the time when she last heard her mother's voice, and that the crowd was already gathered thickly in the town to see Jenny die.
The attendants besought her to see the chaplain — to “let her last thoughts be with God"--but she shook her head.
My last thoughts will not be with God, and so I dare not pray to Him." They ceased urging her, and proceeded to prepare her for execution.
The clergyman himself made one more effort.
Hood had failed to keep his word, and hitherto no friend had visited the convictno kind look, no pitying tone, came to break the dumb horror of these prisoned hours. Every lapsing minute brought her nearer to the shadow of her impending "Think of your immortal soul," he said. doom. She did not suspect Hood of treach-"Reflect that you are going into eternity ery, her faith in him was so large. She felt without a prayer to mitigate the severity of certain he would have come, had it been what may be eternal punishment." possible.
But when this last night closed in, and the thought grew upon her that she must die without knowing the comfort of one more kiss from his lips, one last look from his eyes, she turned her face to her pillow and wept, as only the utterly desolate and forlorn of heart can weep. Nothing stood before her and the black horror of a shameful death save the few remaining hours of the night.
She fancied she could already see the rigid outline of the gallows looming against the grey sky-she thought that she could feel the rope tightening round her throat
she suffocated at it in idea, and fell into such a fit of shivering that she was forced to beg for a composing draught, saying she feared her strength would quite fail her on the morrow if she did not obtain rest now. They granted her request, and after awhile the fierce anguish died away from her eyes,
"If He inclines to mercy He will consider the frailty of his creature without the intervention of my weak words," Mrs. Maurice said. "It is of no use for me to trouble Him with lip-service when my heart never lets go of one thought."
"I hope that the thought is repentance and sorrow for the poor murdered man's untimely end," the chaplain said sternly.
Mrs. Maurice answered, "No, sir, it is the memory of a man whom I love!
He was about to speak again, but she stopped him.
"Do not disturb me," she said, impatiently; "I cannot hear while you speak.” She was still straining her ears in the vain endeavour to hear, above the confused noises of the preparation for her death, the sound of a well-known footstep.
Presently, with a heavy sigh, she dropped her handsome head on her breast, and said, “I am ready."
Beyond the walls she could hear her one whose soul is on the rack, and while name quivering through the lips of the those around her hesitated and conferred crowd, mixed with a sort of growl of exe-together, a murmur arose outside the prison cration. walls. In another instant the murmur deepened into uproar, and a multitude of voices rang out shouts of, "Reprieve! reprieve!"
Lord Orlesmere had been so popular that the destroyer of his fair young life was cursed with proportionate fervour.
Just as she was about to leave her cell there was heard a hurry of voices, and a scuffle in the passage outside, followed by a cry, "Give her this! For God's sake let her read this before you go any farther."
"It is a messenger from Orlesmere," some one said; and, after a short consultation, a letter was brought in and given into the prisoner's hands.
"It is from him," she thought, and her sunken eyes seemed to live again as she turned them on the document before her. She read as follows:
"This is from one who is your wellwisher, and who fancies you not to be so guilty as you make yourself out to be. If you can save yourself by confessing the whole truth, do not let your liking for Ambrose Hood stand between you and your life. He took his passage for New York the very day you went to gaol, and he and Margaret Saville, the housemaid, have sailed together. For your own sake, and for the sake of a man who is truly fond of you, and who writes you this warning, speak the truth before it is too late."
The prisoner looked at the faces round "What does this mean?" she asked
The chaplain approached her hurriedly. Woman," he cried, "can you bear what I have to tell you? I have news for yougood news. You "he paused, half choking from excess of agitation. The prisoner clutched hold of his outstretched hand.
Her voice had fallen into an inarticulate moan, and the chaplain guessed, rather than heard, the purport of her reiterated question, "What does it mean ?
"It means that you are free, that you are innocent, that you will live, I trust, for many years to come, that
She bowed her wasted face on her hands. "I cannot bear it," she whispered. "Life is loathsome to me; thought is death itself."
"Hold her hands, quick!" cried one of the gaolers, whose eyes were keener than those of his companions.
But his intervention came too late. Jane Maurice's naturally acute apprehensions had been sharpened by the agony of her sufferThe bystanders, who were watching anx-ings, and by the savage force of her deteriously to see the effect of the communica- mination to end them. tion on the prisoner, were haunted in after years by the remembrance of her face.
Human agony seemed to have reached its climax in the tortured expression of those famine-smitten eyes-the famine of a wasted heart. For an instant she was dumb dumb as one who has been stricken with such sore pain that he fears to move or breathe lest he should suffer more keenly.
Then she cried, "Now I will pray. I pray that you, whoever you be, who sent me this letter, may be cursed in this world and in the next. You have taken away the thought that made my last few minutes of life sweet to me. You have sent me to hell before my time. Oh, God! have pity on intolerable suffering, and let me die before I have time to think."
She spoke with terrible earnestness, as
The subtle hearts and slender hands of women sometimes plan and execute such deeds as this with the same delicate precision with which they design and fashion a dainty piece of embroidery, or a cunning simulation of flowers. Until now the prisoner had been so carefully watched that she had been unable to use her own hand against the remnant of her wretched life; but in this moment of confusion on the part of her gaolers, she contrived to put to her lips a few harmless-looking drops of fluid; and while the prison walls yet rang to the cheering that followed the announcement of Jane Maurice's liberation, she was lying at peace on the pallet in her cell-the sullen calm of death on her face- her broken heart comforted for ever.
From The Saturday Review. LORD BYRON.
BY THE COUNTESS GUICCIOLI.
WE doubt whether these long-expected volumes will answer the purpose of their authoress. We employ the feminine correlative of author, because, although the work is anonymous, there is little reason to doubt of its having been written by the widow of the Marquis de Boissy, far better known in Byronic annals as the Countess Guiccioli. There are, we believe, no grounds for thinking the authorship a secret, nor, although there is no direct evidence of the fact, do we think that our supposition will prove unfounded. Our doubt of the success of this vindication of Byron arises from several causes. It is a panegyric, and panegyrical compositions are rarely accepted with implicit faith. It is in large measure a compilation from well-known and easily accessible sources, and accordingly it adds very little to our former knowledge of its subject's eccentric and generally unhappy career. The narrative is almost devoid of method, and the readers of it are carried backward and forward from religion to the world, from mirth to melancholy, from society to solitude, from home scenes to foreign scenes, after a fashion which, to say the least of it, is bewildering and sometimes trying to the impatient; and, being unmethodical, it necessarily abounds in repetition. Having already said that Lord Byron, jugé par les Témoins de sa Vie, is for the most part panegyrical, it is needless to add that there is some suppression, and some colouring of facts and opinions, in the thousand pages of the volumes before us.
A Life of Byron, in whatever hands it may be placed, must always be a task of considerable difficulty. Andrew Fairservice said of Rob Roy that he was "o'er gude for bannin' and o'er bad for blessin'," and something of the kind may be said of Byron. To borrow an appropriate expression from Angus McDiarmid, "ground officer on the Earl of Breadalbane's estate of Edinample," he was a person of incoherent transactions." And, besides incoherency, he had a propensity to magnify his own faults and to make light of his own virtues. His confessions can no more be trusted than those of Rousseau, whom indeed in some respects Byron resembled. And in this one especially, that, although constantly professing their love for solitude and their contempt for public opinion, they were both anxious to keep themselves before the world and to know what the world was saying of them. Like Cardan also, Byron was very
communicative and indiscreet alike in what he told and in what he did not tell. Cicero was never weary of proclaiming himself the saviour of his country, and Byron is not less indefatigable in proclaiming his aversion for things that his native land held in respect. But as in the case of his unhappy marriage, so in that of his relations to English society, there were two parties to blame; and the larger share of censure has fallen upon his head. At the time when Byron "woke one morning and found himself famous," the national prejudices of England were much stronger than they are at the present hour. The old roast-beef and port-wine feeling was then far from extinct, although beginning to wane. None but lunatics saw in those days anything beyond absolute justice in the Game-laws. The Four-in-hand.Club and the Ring were national institutions. Bull-baiting and cock-fighting found a champion in the learned and refined William Windham. Lord Eldon was on the Woolsack, and George, Prince of Wales, was Regent. Our criminal laws were, accordingly, the best of all possible laws; the Test and Corporation Acts and restrictions on Roman Catholics were the bulwarks of the throne and the altar; the Quarterly Review preached four times in the year the duty of despising Americans and avoiding foreign manners and customs; and Whigs and Tories differed very little in their objection to Reform of Parliament. George III. indeed was invisible in Windsor Castle, but his spirit survived in the Cabinets of Perceval and Liverpool, in country halls and parsonages, in the writings of Southey and Hannah More. We were beating our old enemy France by land, as a few years before we had beaten her by sea, and so were justifying all that Dibdin and Captain Morris sang of us; and a carpet of loyalty and patriotism was spread over the land, in spite of the price of corn and the amount of the National Debt.
Athwart this orb of political, if not social, virtue - this region of the wisdom of our ancestors - Byron and Jeremy Bentham, opposites as they were in all other respects, struck like a brace of malignant comets, portending and bringing change. The influence of the reformer of law was indeed less swiftly felt than the influence of the innovator in poetry, and the sudden success of Byron is perhaps to be reckoned among his many misfortunes, since it led him to compose in haste, and to believe, what indeed was nearly true, that the public would take from his hand plots however fragmentary, and verses little removed from doggerel. He was not, indeed, the first of lit