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GEORGE BARTRAM TO MISS GARTH.
CRUX, May 15.
"DEAR MISS GARTH,—I trouble you
with another letter, partly to thank you for your kind expression of sympathy
with me under the loss that I have sustained, and partly to tell you of an
extraordinary application made to my uncle's executors in which you and Miss
Vanstone may both feel interested, as Mrs. Noel Vanstone is directly concerned
"Knowing my own ignorance of
legal technicalities, I inclose a copy of the application instead of trying to
describe it. You will notice as suspicious that no explanation is given of the
manner in which the alleged discovery of one of my uncle's secrets was made by
persons who are total strangers to him.
On being made acquainted with the
circumstances, the executors at once applied to me, I could give them no
positive information—for my uncle never consulted me on matters of business. But
I felt bound in honor to tell them, that, during the last six months of his
life, the admiral had occasionally let fall expressions of impatience in my
hearing, which led to the conclusion that he was annoyed by a private
responsibility of some kind. I also mentioned that he had imposed a very strange
condition on me—a condition which, in spite of his own assurances to the
contrary, I was persuaded could not have emanated from himself of marrying
within a given time (which time has now expired), or of not receiving from him a
certain sum of money which I believed to be the same in amount as the sum
bequeathed to him in my cousin's will. The executors agreed with me that these
circumstances gave a color of probability to an otherwise incredible story ; and
they decided that a search should be instituted for the Secret Trust —nothing in
the slightest degree resembling this same trust having been discovered up to
that time among the admiral's papers.
"The search (no trifle in such a
house as this) has now been in full progress for a week. It is superintended by
both the executors and by my uncle's lawyer—who is personally, as well as
professionally, known to Mr. Loscombe (Mrs. Noel Vanstone's solicitor), and who
has been included in the proceedings at the express request of Mr. Loscombe
himself. Up to this time nothing whatever has been found. Thousands and
thousands of letters have been examined—and not one of them bears the remotest
resemblance to the letter we are looking for.
"Another week will bring the
search to an end. It is only at my express request that it will be persevered
with so long. But as the admiral's generosity has made me sole heir to every
thing he possessed, I feel bound to do the fullest justice to the interests of
others, however hostile to myself those interests may be.
"With this view I have not
hesitated to reveal to the lawyer a constitutional peculiarity of my poor
uncle's, which was always kept a secret among us at his own request—I mean his
tendency to somnambulism. I mentioned that he had been discovered (by the
housekeeper and his old servant) walking in his sleep about three weeks before
his death, and that the part of the house in which he had been seen, and the
basket of keys which he was carrying in his hand, suggested the inference that
he had come from one of the rooms in the east wing, and that he might have
opened some of the pieces of furniture in one of them. I surprised the lawyer
(who seemed to be quite ignorant of the extraordinary actions constantly
performed by somnambulists), by informing him that my uncle could find his way
about the house, lock and unlock doors, and remove objects of all kinds from one
place to another as easily in his sleep as in his waking hours. And I declared
that, while I felt the faintest doubt in my own mind whether he might not have
been dreaming of the Trust on the night in question—and putting the dream in
action in his sleep—I should not feel satisfied unless the rooms in the east
wing were searched again.
"It is only right to add that
there is not the least foundation in fact for this idea of mine. During the
latter part of his fatal illness my poor uncle was quite incapable of speaking
on any subject whatever. From the time of my arrival at St. Crux, in the middle
of last month, to the time of his death, not a word dropped from him which
referred in the remotest way to the Secret Trust.
"Here then, for the present, the
matter rests. If you think it right to communicate the contents of this letter
to Miss Vanstone, pray tell her that it will not be my fault if her sister's
assertion (however preposterous it may seem to my uncle's executors) is not
fairly put to the proof.
"Believe me, dear Miss Garth,
always truly yours, GEORGE BARTRAM."
"P.S.—As soon as all business
matters are settled I am going abroad for some months, to try the relief of
change of scene. The house will be shut up, and left under the charge of Mrs.
Drake. I have not forgotten your once telling me that you should like to see St.
Crux, if you ever found yourself in this neighborhood. If you are at all likely
to be in Essex during the time when I am abroad, I have provided against the
chance of your being disappointed, by leaving instructions with Mrs. Drake to
give you, and any friends of yours, the freest admission to the house and
FROM MR. LOSCOMBE TO MRS. NOEL VANSTONE.
"LINCOLN'S INN-FIELDS, May 24.
"DEAR MADAM,—After a whole
fortnight's search—conducted, I am bound to admit, with the most conscientious
and unrelaxing care—no such document as the Secret Trust has been
found among the papers left at
St. Crux by the late Admiral Bartram.
"Under these circumstances the
executors have decided on acting under the only recognizable authority which
they have to guide them—the admiral's own will. This document (executed some
years since) bequeaths the whole of his estate, both real and personal (that is
to say, all the lands he possesses and all the money he possesses at the time of
his death), to his nephew. The will is plain, and the result is inevitable. Your
husband's fortune is lost to you from this moment. Mr. George Bartram legally
inherits it, as he legally inherits the house and estate of St. Crux.
"I make no comment upon this
extraordinary close to the proceedings. The Trust may have been destroyed, or
the Trust may be hidden in some place of concealment inaccessible to discovery
after the most patient and prolonged search for it. It is useless for either of
us to speculate on the subject now. I will not add to your disappointment by any
references to the time and money which I have lost in the unfortunate attempt to
assert your interests. I will merely say that my connection (both personal and
professional) with the matter must, from this moment, be considered at an end.
"Your obedient servant,
FROM MRS. RUDDOCK (LODGING-HOUSE KEEPER) TO MR. LOSCOMBE.
"PARK TERRACE, ST. JOHN'S WOOD,
"SIR,—Having, by Mrs. Noel
Vanstone's directions, taken letters for her to the post addressed to you, and
knowing no one else to apply to, I beg to inquire whether you are acquainted
with any of her friends, for I think it right that they should be stirred up to
take some steps about her.
"Mrs. Vanstone first came to me
in November last, when she and her maid occupied my apartments. On that
occasion, and again on this, she has given me no cause to complain of her. She
has behaved like a lady, and paid me my due. I am writing, as a mother of a
family, under a sense of responsibility—I am not writing with an interested
"After proper warning given, Mrs,
Vanstone (who is now quite alone) leaves me to-morrow. She has not concealed
from me that her circumstances are fallen very low, and that she can not afford
to remain in my house. This is all she has told me—I know nothing of where she
is going, or what she means to do next. But I have every reason to believe she
desires to destroy all traces by which she might be found after leaving this
place; for I discovered her in tears yesterday, burning letters which were
doubtless letters from her friends. In looks and conduct she has altered most
shockingly in the last week. I believe there is some dreadful trouble on her
mind; and I am afraid, from what I see of her, that she is on the eve of a
serious illness. It is very sad to see such a young woman so utterly deserted
and friendless as she is now.
"Excuse my troubling you with
this letter; it is on my conscience to write it. If you know any of her
relations, please warn them that time is not to be wasted. If they lose
to-morrow, they may lose the last chance of finding her.
"Your humble servant,
MR. LOSCOMBE TO MRS. RUDDOCK.
"LINCOLN'S INN-FIELDS, June 2.
"MADAM,—My only connection with
Mrs. Noel Vanstone was a professional one, and that connection is now at an end.
I am not acquainted with any of her friends; and I can not undertake to
interfere personally either with her present or future proceedings.
"Regretting my inability to
afford you any assistance, I remain, your obedient servant,
THE LAST SCENE.
ON the seventh of June the owners
of the merchantman Deliverance received news that the ship had touched at
Plymouth to land passengers, and had then continued her homeward voyage to the
Port of London. Five days later the vessel was in the river, and was towed into
the East India Docks.
Having transacted the business on
shore for which he was personally responsible, Captain Kirke made the necessary
arrangements by letter for visiting his brother-in-law's parsonage in
on the seventeenth of the month. As usual, in such cases, he received a list of
commissions to execute for his sister on the day before he left London. One of
these commissions took him into the neighborhood of Camden Town. He drove to his
destination from the Docks, and then dismissing the vehicle, set forth to walk
back southward toward the New Road.
He was not well acquainted with
the district, and his attention wandered further and further away from the scene
around him as he went on. His thoughts, roused by the prospect of seeing his
sister again, had led his memory back to the night when he had parted from her,
leaving the house on foot. The spell so strangely laid on him in that past time
had kept its hold through all after events. The face that had haunted him on the
lonely road had haunted him again on the lonely sea. The woman who had followed
him, as in a dream, to his sister's door, had followed him—thought of his
thought, and spirit of his spirit—to the deck of his ship.
Through storm and calm on the
voyage out, through storm and calm on the voyage home, she had been with him. In
the ceaseless turmoil of the London streets she was with him now. He knew what
the first question on his lips would be, when he had seen his sister and her
boys. "I shall try to talk of something else," he thought; "but when Lizzie and
I are alone, it will come out in spite of me."
The necessity of waiting to let a
string of carts pass at a turning before he crossed, awakened him to present
things. He looked about in a momentary confusion. The street was strange to him;
he had lost his way.
The first foot-passenger of whom
he inquired appeared to have no time to waste in giving information. Hurriedly
directing him to cross to the other side of the road, to turn down the first
street he came to on his right hand, and then to ask again, the stranger
unceremoniously hastened on without waiting to be thanked.
Kirke followed his directions,
and took the turning on his right. The street was short and narrow, and the
houses on either side were of the poorer order. He looked up as he passed the
corner to see what the name of the place might be. It was called "Aaron's
Low down on the side of the
"Buildings" along which he was walking a little crowd of idlers was assembled
round two cabs, both drawn up before the door of the same house. Kirke advanced
to the crowd to ask his way of any civil stranger among them who might not be in
a hurry this time. On approaching the cabs he found a woman disputing with the
drivers, and heard enough to inform him that two vehicles had been sent for by
mistake where only one was wanted.
The house door was open; and when
he turned that way next, he looked easily into the passage, over the heads of
the people in front of him.
The sight that met his eyes
should have been shielded in pity from the observation of the street. He saw a
slatternly girl, with a frightened face, standing by an old chair placed in the
middle of the passage, and holding a woman on the chair, too weak and helpless
to support herself—a woman apparently in the last stage of illness, who was
about to be removed, when the dispute outside was ended, in one of the cabs. Her
head was drooping when he first saw her, and an old shawl which covered it had
fallen forward so as to hide the upper part of her face.
Before he could look away again
the girl in charge of her raised her head and restored the shawl to its place.
The action disclosed her face to view, for an instant only, before her head
drooped back on her bosom. In that instant he saw the woman whose beauty was the
haunting remembrance of his life—whose image had been vivid in his mind not five
The shock of the double
recognition—the recognition, at the same moment, of the face, and of the
dreadful change in it—struck him speechless and helpless. The steady presence of
mind in all emergencies, which had become a habit of his life, failed him for
the first time. The poverty-stricken street, the squalid mob round the door,
swam before his eyes. He staggered back and caught at the iron railings of the
house behind him.
"Where are they taking her to?"
he heard a woman ask, close at his side.
"To the hospital, if they will
have her," was the reply. "And to the work-house, if they won't."
That horrible answer roused him.
He instantly pushed his way through the crowd and entered the house.
The misunderstanding on the
pavement had been set right, and one of the cabs had driven off. As he crossed
the threshold of the door he confronted the people of the house at the moment
when they were moving her. The cabman who had remained was on one side of the
chair, and the woman who had been disputing with the two drivers was on the
other. They were just lifting her when Kirke's tall figure darkened the door.
"What are you doing with that
lady?" he asked.
The cabman looked up with the
insolence of his reply visible in his eyes before his lips could utter it. But
the woman, quicker than he, saw the suppressed agitation in Kirke's face, and
dropped her hold of the chair in an instant.
"Do you know her, Sir?" asked the
woman, eagerly. "Are you one of her friends?"
"Yes," said Kirke, without
"It's not my fault, Sir," pleaded
the woman, shrinking under the look he fixed on her. "I would have waited
patiently till her friends found her—I would indeed!"
Kirke made no reply. He turned
and spoke to the cabman.
"Go out," he said, "and close the
door after you. I'll send you down your money directly. What room in the house
did you take her from when you brought her down here?" he resumed, addressing
himself to the woman again.
"The first floor back, Sir."
"Show me the way to it."
He stooped and lifted Magdalen in
his arms. Her head rested gently on the sailor's breast; her eyes looked up
wonderingly into the sailor's face. She smiled and whispered to him vacantly.
Her mind had wandered back to old days at home, and her few broken words showed
that she fancied herself a child again in her father's arms. "Poor papa!" she
said, softly. "Why do you look so sorry? Poor papa!"
The woman led the way into the
back room on the first floor. It was very small; it was miserably furnished. But
the little bed was clean, and the few things in the room were neatly kept. Kirke
laid her tenderly on the bed.
She caught one of his hands in
her burning fingers. "Don't distress mamma about me," she said. "Send for
Norah." Kirke tried gently to release his hand; but she only clasped it the more
eagerly. He sat down by the bedside to wait until it pleased her to release him.
The woman stood looking at them, and crying in a corner of the room. Kirke
observed her attentively. "Speak," he said, after an interval, in low, quiet
tones. "Speak in her presence, and tell me the truth."
With many words, with many tears,
the woman spoke.
She had let her first floor to
the lady a fortnight since. The lady had paid a week's rent, and had given the
name of Gray. She had been out from morning till night, for the first three
days, and had come home again, on every occasion, with a wretchedly weary,
disappointed look. The woman of the house had suspected that she was in hiding
from her friends, under a false name; and that she had been vainly trying to
raise money, or to get some employment, on the three days when she was out for
so long, and when she looked so disappointed on coming home. However that might
be, on the fourth day she had fallen ill with shivering fits and hot fits, turn
and turn about. On the fifth day she was worse; and on the sixth she was too
sleepy at one time, and too light-headed at another, to be spoken to. The
chemist (who did the doctoring in those parts) had come and looked at her, and
had said he thought it was a bad fever. He had left a "saline draught," which
the woman of the house had paid for out of her own pocket, and had administered
without effect. She had ventured on searching the only box which the lady had
brought with her, and had found nothing in it but a few necessary articles of
linen—no dresses, no ornaments, not so much as the fragment of a letter which
might help in discovering her friends. Between the risks of keeping her under
these circumstances, and the barbarity of turning a sick woman into the street,
the landlady herself had not hesitated. She would willingly have kept her
tenant, on the chance of the lady's recovery, and on the chance of friends
turning up. But not half an hour since her husband—who never came near the house
except to take her money —had come to rob her of her little earnings, as usual.
She had been obliged to tell him that no rent was in hand for the first floor,
and that none was likely to be in hand until the lady recovered, or her friends
found her. On hearing this he had mercilessly insisted—well or ill—that the lady
should go. There was the hospital to take her to; and if the hospital shut its
doors, there was the work-house to try next. If she was not out of the place in
an hour's time he threatened to come back and take her out himself. His wife
knew but too well that he was brute enough to be as good as his word; and no
other choice had been left her but to do as she had done, for the sake of the
The woman told her shocking story
with every appearance of being honestly ashamed of it. Toward the end Kirke felt
the clasp of the burning fingers slackening round his hand. He looked back at
the bed again. Her weary eyes were closing, and, with her face still turned
toward the sailor, she was sinking into sleep.
THE light is slowly fading,
The moon is in the sky,
It is the hour for parting
My only love, good-by!
Hide not those rosy blushes,
Droop not that dark blue eye,
One kiss, and one last blessing—
My only love, good-by!
Dark as the heaven above us,
So doth my future lie;
Thy memory like the moon shall
My only love, good-by!
WE publish on
page 29 three
illustrations of HOLLY SPRINGS, Mississippi, lately occupied by our troops. This
little town, one of the prettiest and most salubrious in the State of
Mississippi, was for a long time occupied by the rebel army of the Southwest.
They were driven out of it early last month by General Grant, who pushed through
it and on to Oxford. Since then the rebels, or rather some guerrilla band
claiming to act on behalf of the rebels, fell upon a couple of companies of
infantry whom General Grant had left at Holly Springs, captured and paroled
them; so that, to the best of our knowledge, at present Holly Springs is in the
hands of the insurgents. It is situate on the line of the Mobile and Ohio
railway, and is about twenty miles south of Grand Junction, and twenty-eight
miles north of Oxford.
WE publish on
page 21 an
engraving, from a sketch by our special artist, Mr. Hamilton, of the LANDING OF
GENERAL BANKS AND STAFF from the steamer North Star at the
levee at New Orleans,
on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 14. This solves the mystery which has so long
overhung the destination of the Banks flotilla.
General Banks has gone to
New Orleans to supersede
General Butler, and take command of the
Department of the Southwest, including the States of Louisiana, Texas, Alabama,
and Mississippi. He assumed command on the day after his arrival, and on the
following day dispatched an expedition which retook