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“No, no !” sobbed Silvia.

“Whisper, then. Because he thought you liked poor Charley best, and that you were only sorry for him.”

“Oh, Roger, it was just the other way!" and the bright tears fell faster than ever.

“Shall I tell him so ?”

Silvia did not speak, but she put her arms round her brother's neck, and he knew what she meant.

“Gerald will not go to the East, mother,” whispered Roger, when he got back to the drawing-room; and his mother, pressing his hand, told him "he was a good boy."

When the parson said good-night the clock was on the stroke of twelve, so a general parting took place, and Lady Wimborne went to bed.

In the lodge were assembled two of the beaters and a groom, besides Richards and his son.

“You've mustered pretty strong," said Mr. Topley, with a smile, perfectly understanding the calibre of the men, who would each, and singlehanded, have faced half-a-dozen poachers rather than have joined the work on hand.

The night was cloudy, and from between the clouds the moon now and then burst out with a clear gleam of light, and then hid her face gain before your dazzled eyes could distinguish any object clearly.

Richards posted the men two and two at the entrances to the lanes cut through the copse, bidding them hide carefully, and follow any object they might see, taking precaution to remain unseen, or, if seen, to give a prolonged whistle, and follow up the chase openly.

Harry, Roger, and the rector chose the post close to the stone.

Half an hour passed, then the wind began to rise, and the clouds to disperse a little ; the gleams of moonlight were prolonged, and the long green path leading from the cross towards the further side of the cover lay clear and whitened in the moon's rays.

Harry's eyes were fixed upon the white cross; he was thinking of the scene that cross had been raised to commemorate, and trying to recal the exact work he himself had been at during the time, when Roger grasped his arm, and pointed down the walk-up which was advancing a living creature.

A crawling, ungainly, unsightly-looking thing, it came on slowly and with a lumbering heavy action, stopping now and then, and half rising upon its hind legs, as it drew nearer; the moonlight disappeared and only the faint dark outline of the mystery remained, just strong enough to allow the watchers to keep it in view.

When the cloud passed off the moon again, the figure was close by the cross-sitting up ; an exclamation of horror hissed through Harry's clenched teeth, as the bright beams fell upon a horribly distorted and frenzied human face, half covered with matted white hair, from out which gleamed a pair of wild eyes ; a confused mass of clothing, huddled rather than put on, covered his body, and a pair of long naked arms were raised, as if menacing the cross.

Presently the madman-for there seemed no doubt of what he was now—went down upon all fours again, and began turning over the grass and leaves, peering into the earth, and muttering under his breath.

“Don't hurry," whispered Mr. Topley, “let us try and judge what he wants, first ;" so they lay still, and, for nearly an hour, kept a close and horrified watch upon the man, trying to catch some intelligible expression as a clue; nothing, however, but disjointed words reached their ears.

Another quarter of an hour, and still no explanation. “I cannot stand this longer," igroaned Harry, wiping the big drops of sweat from his forehead, “it's driving me mad.”

The rector touched the rope that lay beside him, and, rising stealthily, had his hand upon the shoulder of the man before his presence was known. There was a yell, a frantic spring, and then a desperate struggle. The madman, old as he was, had the strength of a maniac; the parson was no match for him, and would very soon have had an end put to his good works, but for the help that was at hand.

Powerful and frantic as the man was, there were three to one, and the pre-arranged signal soon brought the wondering keepers.

“By Gad ! it's cracky Wilson," was Richards' first exclamation, as he stared into the man's face, now working horribly.

“I didn't clo it, I tell you,” the madman screamed. “I didn't do it, I only touched him and he knocked me down like a dog. Let me go the devil wants me; he's given me work, and, if I do it well, you know, I'll have plenty more to do, and it's better than hell-fire-burning, burning, burning ! the fire that's never quenched, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Ha! ha! that's true, though the parsons cannot get folks to believe them. I've seen hell, and I knowyou may think it's all bosh, but it ain't, my fine fellows. You cannot help it-you may have your fling on earth, you may; I had, but I paid for it; I am paying for it now. I didn't get caught while I was living, but now I'm dead, and the devil has got me ; I've to come here,” his voice sank into a shuddering whisper, “here where I shot him, and dig, dig, dig! for the witness that would have hanged me when I was alive, but they can't hang me now I am dead, ay, and damned too. What's that ?” he yelled, struggling violently in the hands of the men who were carrying him to the lodge, “what's that twisting about in the sky ?”

Then another yell, a wrench that cracked the cords from his lacerated and bleeding wrists, and the man was free. He stood for a minute or

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two, glaring upwards with fear-distended eyes, then there came from his lips a prolonged howl of terror, and, covering his face, he cowered down to the earth, moaning and sobbing.

“I cannot stand it," cried Harry, his face livid, and the tears raining down his cheeks, "it's too horrible, Topley; for God's sake make him hold his tongue."

"Go home, dear boy; Roger, you go too, I'll stay and see to this. No, no! don't think of me. I am used to such scenes, it's part of my trade ; you know, the man is raving mad, and must not be let loose, but, mad as he is, he may say much I'd like to hear. Go home, boys. I was your father's friend, let me do a friend's part, I loved him almost as much as you did. Send up to town for Guest, Roger; a man can ride over and catch the six o'clock train; the telegraph office don't open till eight, I think, and a letter will explain best ; tell him what we've done, and that he must come down directly, and bring the best medical authority on madness he can persuade to come. I don't know much of the faculty, so cannot name anyone in particular, but we will find out; don't lose time, and tell him not."

About two o'clock, Gerald Guest arrived, accompanied by Doctor Mavis. He pronounced the patient hopelessly insane, there was no doubt about that. It was equally possible that his ravings might throw reliable light upon the occurrences of his past life. So the doctor questioned him, but nothing likely to explain matters was elicited, and the consultation being over, the man was left in charge of a couple of keepers until he could be removed to the county asylum.

And meanwhile, an examination of the boxes left in the garret was instituted; they were filled with clothing, some of very old date, some rotting with age and mildew, and down at the bottom of one lay a velveteen waistcoat, matted together with blood, and found to bear buttons corresponding to that picked up by Harry; and sure enough, upon the waistcoat was a rent where the identical button had been tom off.

There was a long and careful investigation, which was at length brought to certainty by the discovery of the ring worn by Sir John Wimborne, and which was found hidden away with a letter, under the boards of the sitting-room in Wilson's old house. The letter, which was addressed to Sir John by Wilson, afforded the only missing link; it had been posted, and received by Sir John upon the morning of his death; it contained an insolent demand for money, upon the strength of Roger having seduced Rhoda, and obliged her to leave home; it went on to say that the writer had positive proof that the girl was living under Roger's protection, although part of the paper had been torn in two, and the remainder was so saturated by blood and earth that the characters were illegible.

But the key to the sad story was given plainly enough ; Wilson had come back to try and get money from Sir John; he had concocted and dispatched the lying accusations contained in the shameful letter ; he had followed Sir John to the copse, and there, reiterating his threats and demands, had been struck down, and, maddened by rage and desperation, had managed to get hold of and discharge the gun. How he had hidden the waistcoat and letter must be only conjecture; probably, the house being uninhabited, he had as at present taken up his abode there, hiding away in the garret, and only venturing out at night. That the place had been inhabited for some time, was evidenced by the traces of food and ashes piled up in one corner. But what the wretched maniac's life had been, and what the acting cause of the madness, which impelled him back to the scene, and the expiation of his crime, none ever knew.

The knowledge thrust upon him by the perusal of the letter, and from which he accused himself as being the cause of his father's death, cured Roger of any remaining passion for Rhoda; he could not hear her name without a thrill of horror. The sin of the past had left an unsatisfied conscience, and its ghost dogged his footsteps for many a year, taking the blush off his pleasures, and urging him on to deeds of rash daring and self-abnegation—deeds which have been written in letters of fire and blood, on the pages of that history wherein are recorded the story of the Indian mutiny, and the men who quelled it.

CHAPTER XLIII.

LAST WORDS.

We are drawing near the end, now, dear reader; near the point where the dividing path shows two roads, one yours, one mine, and where we are to clasp hands, and bid farewell" It may be for years, and it may be for ever—" that depends more upon you than me.

Our friends at Thornhill have got through the troubles which came upon them so thickly. Some of those who have been good enough to listen to me, have taken umbrage at these same troubles, asserting that they were too many. But you know that it has been said many years ago, and repeated any number of times by sadly experienced lips, that "misfortunes never come singly." I might add, what is equally true, and equally the evidence to be given by the experienced, that “ Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour, so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour."

But you know all things have an end, and we see that, however many and deep were the crosses that followed the lot of the Thornhill people dụring the period depicted in my story, those clouds and trials have passed away ; I do not say that they have not left a trace, no one could wish

; that such should be the case-forgotten sorrow is sorrow blasphemed, and the eyes that forget wept tears, had better never have wept at all.

A common sorrow generally draws those of a family together, generally, I say, for there are exceptions in all things—the fiery trials they had gone through did this for the Wimbornes. Roger had proved what a brother's love can be, and Harry knew how to appreciate it. And Lilly, too, when after a great preparation of trousseaux, and reception of cartloads of presents, she consented to take up her abode at Thornhill, so completely identified herself with her new family, that Mr. Morgan was wont to declare, that she'd been born to be Sir Harry's wife ;” and if we believe in Mr. Martin Tupper's proverbial philosophy, we can have no doubt that Morgan was right.

The wedding was talked of in the county for many a day, two such brides having seldom been seen. Lilly you all know, and have no doubt pictured to yourselves; but Silvia, of whom I have said less, shall I describe her now at the eleventh hour? I think I shall do nothing of the kind. I know one person there thought her perfection, and that another-sitting unbraced and disconsolate in a barrack room, watching the hands of a little clock come slowly round, and listening to the ticking as if it was his death-knell-suddenly threw his head forward upon the sofa pillow, and, crying as he had not done since he was a little child, sobbed

"It's all over now; and, though I daren't love you, you cannot help my worshipping you; for if ever there was an angel on earth, you are one."

And I believe Charley was right. And though “there are two kinds of angels," as old Lord Steyne said to Becky Sharp, Silvia was one of the right kind.

For the madman nothing could be done more than secure him a home in the county asylum ; and there Rhoda saw him, when, after a few years, she came to Sussex, not to stay, however; she had found occupation for her energy in the duties of a Sister of Mercy. Lilly had learnt to think kindly of her long before she had an opportunity of expressing that kindness in words; and, you may be sure, that the sight of the once lovely face-paled, worn, and aged-did not diminish the feeling, or lessen the interest young Lady Wimborne so openly expressed in the “Sister.” Roger was in India when Rhoda came once again under the old roof at Thornhill ; but he received a full account of her stay, of her looks, and of her works from Lilly, who had no notion of the bitter dose she was administering, Harry having kept his brother's secret even from his wife.

Lady Wimborne never rightly recovered the new shock of the discovery touching her husband's death ; or, perhaps, that was the last

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