The postilion did his best to rid them of the assailant. Perceiving a masked horseman behind him, approaching at a furious rate, he had little doubt as to his intentions, and Turpin, for it was our highwayman, scon made his doubts certainties. He lialloced to hiin to stop; but the fellow paid no attention to his command, and disregarded even the pistol which he saw, in a casual glimpse over his near side, presented at his person. Clapping spurs into his horse's flanks, ho sought succour in flight. Turpin was by his side in an instant. As the highwayman endeavoured to catch his reins, the lad suddenly wheeled the carriage right upon him, and but for the dexterity of Turpin, and the clever conduct of his mare, would inevitably have crushed him against the roadside. As it was, his left leg was slightly grazed. Irritated at this, Turpin fired over the man's head, and with the butt-end of the pistol felled him from his seat. Startled by the sound, and no longer under the governance of their rider, the horses rushed with frantic vio lence towards a ditch, that bounded the other side of the highway, down which the carriage was precipitated, and at once overturned. Turpin's first act, after he had ascertained that no mischief had been occasioned to those within, beyond the alarm incident to the shock, was to compel the postilion, who had by this time gained his legs, to release the horses from their traces. This done, with the best grace he could assume, and, adjusting his mask, he opened the carriage, and proceeded to liberate the captives.

“Beg pardon, ma'am,” said he, as soon as he had released Mrs. Mowbray; “excessively sorry, upon my soul, to have been the cause of so much unnecessary alarm to you—all the fault, I assure you, of that rascal of a postilion ; had the fellow only pulled up when I commanded him, this botheration might have been avoided. You will remember that, when you pay him-all his fault, I assure

you, ma'am.”

Receiving no reply, he proceeded to extricate Eleanor, with whose beauty the inflammable highwayman was instantly smitten. Leaving the father to shift for himself, he turned to address some observation of coarse gallantry to her: but she eluded !.is grasp, and flew to her mother's side.

“It is useless, sir," said Mrs. Mowbray, as Turpin drew near them, “ to affect ignorance of your intentions. You have already occasioned us serious alarm ; much delay and inconvenience. I trust, therefore, that beyond our purses, to which, though scantily supplicd, you are welcome, we shall sustain no molestation. You seem to have less of the ruffian about you than the rest of your lawless race, and are not, I should hope, destitute of common humanity:*

“Common humanity !” replied Turpin: “ bless you, ma'am, l'm the most humane creature breathing-would not hurt a fly, much less a lady. Incivility was never laid to my charge. This business may be managed in a few seconds; and as soon as we have settled the matter, I'll lend your stupid jack-boy a hand to put the horses to the carriage again, and get the wheels out of the ditch. You have a banker, ma'am, I suppose, in town—perhaps in the country; but I don't like country bankers; besides, I want a little ready cash in Rumville— beg pardon, ma'am, London I mean. My ears have been so stunned with those Romany pattcrers,

I almost think in flash. Just draw me a check; I've pen and ink always ready: a check for fifty pounds, ma'am-only fifty. What's your banker's name? I've blank checks of all the best houses in my pocket; that and a kiss from the pretty lips of that cherrycheek'd maid,” winking to Eleanor, “will fully content me. You see you have neither an exorbitant nor uncivil personage to deal with.”

Eleanor shrank closer towards her mother. Exhausted by previous agitation of the night, greatly frightened by the shock which she had just sustained, and still more alarmed by the words and gestures of the highwayman, she felt that she was momentarily in danger

of fainting, and with difficulty prevented herself from falling. The priest, who had succeeded in freeing himself from the carriage, now placed himself between Turpin and the ladies.

“Be satisfied, misguided man,” said the father, in a stern voice, offering a purse, which Mrs. Mowbray hastily extended towards him," with the crime you have already committed, and seek not to peril your soul by deeper guilt; be content with the plunder you now obtain, and depart; for, by my holy calling, I affirm to you, that if you advance one footstep towards the further molestation of these ladies, it shall be at the hazard of your life.”

“ Bravo!” exclaimed Turpin. .“Now this is what I like; who would have thought the old autem-bawler had so much pluck in him? Sir, I commend you for your courage,

but taken. I am the quietest man breathing, and never harm a human being; in proof of which, only look at your rascal of a postilion, whom any one of my friends would have sent post-hastc to the devil for half the trouble he gave me. Easy as I am, I never choose to be balked in my humours. I must have the fifty and the buss, and then I'm off, as soon as you like; and I have the kiss while the old lady signs the check, and then we shall have the seal as well as the signature. Poh-poh-no nonsense! Many a pretty lass has thought it an honour to be kissed by Turpin."

Eleanor recoiled with deepest disgust, as she saw the highwayman thrust aside the useless opposition of the priest, and approach her. He had removed his mask; his face, flushed with insolent triumph, was turned towards her. Despite the loathing, which curdled the blood within her veins, she could not avert her eyes. He drew near her; she uttered a shrill scream. At that moment : powerful grasp was laid upon Turpin's shoulder; he turned and beheld Luke.

you are mis

may as well


“ Save me ! save me!” cried Eleanor, addressing the new

“ Damnation!” said the highwayman, “what has brought you here? one would think you were turned assistant to all distressed damsels. Quit your hold, or, by the God above us, you will repent it."

“Fool!” exclaimed Luke, “talk thus to one who heeds you." And as he spoke he hurled Turpin backwards with so much force that, staggering a few yards, the highwayman sell to the ground.

The priest stood like one stunned with surprise at Luke's sudden appearance and subsequent daring action.

Luke, meanwhile, approached Eleanor. He gazed upon her with curiosity mixed with admiration, for his heart tolu him she was very fair. A deathlike paleness had spread over her cheeks; yet still, despite the want of colour, she looked exquisitely beautiful, and her large blue eyes eloquently thanked her deliverer for her rescue. The words she wanted were supplied by Mrs. Mowbray, who thanked him in appropriate terms, when they were interrupted by Turpin, who had by this time picked himself up, and was drawing near them. His countenance wore a fierce expression. "I tell

you what,” said he, "Luke Bradley, or Luke Rookwood, or whatever else you may call yourseli, you have taken a damned unfair advantage of me in this matter, and deserve nothing better at my hands than that I should call you to instant account for it-and curse me, if I don't too."

“Luke Bradley !” interrupted Mrs. Mowbray—“are you that individual?"

“I have been so called, madam," replied Luke.

“Father Ambrose, is this the person of whom you spoke?" cagerly asked the lady.

“So I conclude,” returned the priest, evasively.

“Did he not call you Luke Rookwood ?” eagerly deinanded Eleanor. “Is that also your name?”.

“Rookwood is my name, fair cousin,” replied Luke, "if I may venture to call

“And Ranulph Rookwood is” “My brother."

“I never heard he had a brother,” rejoined Eleanor, with some agitation. “How can that be?"

“I am his brother, nevertheless,” replied Luke, moodily—“his ELDER BROTHER!”

Elcanor turned to her mother and the priest with a look of imploring anguish ; she saw a confirmation of the truth of this staiement in their glances. No contradiction was offered by either 10 luis statement; both, indced, appeared in some mysterious

you so.'

[ocr errors]

manner prepared for it. This, then, was the dreaded secret. This was the cause of her brother's sudden departure. The truth flashed with lightning swiftness across her brain.

Chagrined and mortified, Luke remarked that glance of inquiry. His pride was hurt at the preference thus naturally shown towards his brother. He had been struck, deeply struck, with her beauty. He acknowledged the truth of Peter's words. Eleanor's loveliness was without parallel. He had seen nought so fair, and the instant hc beheld her, he felt that for her alone could he cancel his vows to Sybil. The spirit of rivalry and jealousy was instantly aroused by Eleanor's exclamations.

“His elder brother!" echoed Eleanor, dwelling upon his words, and addressing Luke—“then you must be—but no, you are not, you cannot be—it is Ranulph's title—it is not yours—you are not

“I am Sir Luke Rookwood,” replied Luke, proudly. Ere the words were uttered Eleanor had fainted.

“Assistance is at hand, madam, if you will accept it, and follow me," said Luke, raising the insensible girl in his arms, and bearing her down the hill towards the encampment, whither he was followed by Mrs. Mowbray and the priest, between whom, during the hurried dialogue we have detailed, very significant glances had been exchanged. Turpin, who, as it may be supposed, had not been an incurious observer of the scene passing, burst into his usual loud laugh on seeing Luke bear away his lovely burden.

“ Cousin! Ha, ha!” said he. “So the wench is his cousin. Damme, I half suspect he has fallen in love with his new-found cousin; and if so, Miss Sybil, or I'm mistaken, will look as yellow as a guinea. If 'that little Spanish devil gets it into her pretty jealous pate that he is about to bring home a new mistress, we shall have a tragedy-scene in the twinkling of a bed-post. However, I sha'n't lose sight of Sir Luke until I have settled my accounts with him. Hark ye, boy,” continued he, addressing the postilion; “remain where you are; you won't be wanted yet awhile, I imagine. There's a guinea for you, to drink Dick Turpin's health."

Upon which he mounted his mare, and walked her easily down the hiu.

“And so that be Dick Turpin, folks talk so much about," soliloquised the lad, looking curiously after him; “well, he's as civilspeaking a chap as need be, blow my boots if he ain't! and if I'd had a notion it were he, I'd have pulled up at first call, without more ado. Nothing like experience I shall know better another time,” added he, pocketing the douceur.

Rushing swiftly down the hill, Luke tarried at the river's brink, to sprinkle some of the cool element upon the pale brow of Eleanor'. As he held her in his arms, thoughts which he fain would have

stifled in their birth took possession of his heart. “Would she were mine!” murmured he: “Yet no! the wish is unworthy." But that wish returned unbidden.

Eleanor opened her eyes. She was still too weak to walk without support, and Luke, raising her once more in his arms, and motioning Mrs. Mowbray to follow, crossed the brook by means of stepping-stones, and conducted his charge along a bypath towards the priory, so as to avoid meeting with the crew assembled upon the green.

They had gained one of the roofless halls, when he encountered Balthazar. Astonished at the sight of the party, the patrico was about to address the priest as an acquaintance, when his more orthodox brother raised his finger to his lips, in token of caution. The action passed unobserved.

“ Hie thee to Sybil,” said Luke to the patrico. “ Bid her haste hither. Say that this maiden—that Miss Mowbray is here, and requires her aid. Fly! I will bear her to the refectory."

As Balthazar passed the priest, he pointed with a significant glance towards a chasm in the wall, which seemed to be an opening to soine subterraneous chamber. The father again made a gesture of silence, and Balthazar hastened upon his mission.

Luke led them to the refectory. He brought a chair for Eleanor's support; but so far from reviving, after such attention as could be afforded her, she appeared to become weaker. He was about to issue forth in search of Sybil, when to his surprise he found the door fastened.

“ You cannot pass this way,” said a voice, which Luke instantly recognised as that of the knight of Malta.

“Not pass !" echoed Luke. 66 What does this mean?”
“Our orders are from the queen,” returned the knight.
At this instant the low tone of a muffled bell was heard.
“Ha!” exclaimed Luke; "some danger is at hand.”

His heart smote him as he thought of Sybil, and he looked anxiously towards Eleanor.

Balthazar rushed into the room.
“Where is Sybil?” cried Luke. « Will she not come?"
“She will be here anon," answered the patrico.

“I will seek her myself, then,” said Luke. “The door by which you entered is free.”

“It is not free,” replied Balthazar. 6 Remain where “Who will prevent my going forth ?" demanded Luke, sternly.

“I will,” said Barbara Lovel, as she suddenly appeared in the doorway: “You stir not, excepting at my pleasure. Where is the maiden?” continued she, looking around with a grim smile of satisfaction at the consternation produced by her appearance. “Ha! I sce; she faints. Here is a cordial that shall revive her. Mrs. Mowbray, you are welcome to the gipsies' dwelling-you and your daughter. And you, Sir Luke Rookwood, I congratulate

you are.”

« 前へ次へ »