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bear testimony to a contrary effect. I repeat again, I was not dead, any more than you are whose eyes are resting at this moment upon the page before you; no, I was a living, sentient being.
In a short while the procession moved on, and I followed, as it were, my own remains to the grave. Can anything be more preposterous, and yet what explanation did the circumstances admit of ? I am not prepared with any. The place of interment was at length reached—the service was read—my body was about to be consigned to the earth—when a slight motion in the coffin attracted the attention of those around : it was placed upon the earth, and the lid was opened. My body presented appearances which led to a proper examination, in consequence of which I ultimately recovered.
I have nothing to add myself—the reader must form his own conclusions. An ingenious gentleman, however, has suggested to me, and which suggestion I give the reader the benefit of, that my body must have been in a state of catalepsy, or trance, during the wanderings of the soul, which was, nevertheless, in constant rapport with it, and that it had again re-entered its former habitation, as my body, as I have shown, was on the point of being committed to the earth. My own opinion upon these points is quite in keeping with that of the gentleman to whom I refer.
The reader is requested to observe in this, the third and last, paper dedicated to the ill-fated town here called Riverton, that we are still speaking of the years following the opening of the British ports for foreign goods, and immediately subsequent to the death of Mr. Huskisson. The measure had now been in force more than the term of its proposed trial ; there appeared to be no prospect that the ports would be reclosed, and Riverton, far from giving hopes of any amendment, sunk into deeper misery day by day.
Not the least perplexed amongst its manufacturers was Mr. Arkell since his father's death we have left off calling him Mr. William. That the respected firm of George Arkell and Son had not “gone,” as so many of the other long-established firms had gone, was owing, as was observed previously, to the large property left to William by his father. Could that good father, that benevolent and just man, George Arkell, whose name, still retained in the firm, was its surest guarantee-could he have foreseen that his hardly-earned wealth, the competence he had acquired, not by oppressing those under him, but by steady diligence and perseverance--could he have foreseen that this would be torn from his son, and that son's children, nearly at one fell swoop, he would have grieved bitterly. William Arkell, now a man of fifty years, was wont to say that he was thankful his father did not live to witness the city's wreck.
A deplorable gloom hung over the brow of Mr. Arkell. His manufactory was still kept on, but little was being done, and that little he lost
by. But the delusive hope that times would mend, the hope that from year had buoyed up others in Riverton as well as himself
, was not even yet totally relinquished. It was likewise the business that Travice had been taught to follow, and how was he to break with it now, and turn to another, of which he knew nothing ? Nay, how was Mr. Arkell himself to set about anything else ? His time of life was past for it.
What had become of Peter Arkell ? He was now a confirmed invalid : his sufferings were great, and he had been obliged to give up his occupation of teaching. His good and gentle daughter, Lucy, was sorely puzzled when she asked herself how the future comforts of their home were to be provided ; she knew that for some of these comforts they had long been indebted to certain enclosures, contained in letters sent by her aunt Mildred. Lucy had all this care upon her own shoulders, for her mother had been dead some years.
How like Lucy had grown to her aunt Mildred! In figure she was shorter and slighter, but her colourless complexion and fair features, not handsome, but pleasant to look upon, were just what Miss Arkell's had been, ere the blight fell upon her feelings, in early womanhood. There was a sad, thoughtful look pervading both their countenances, telling of deep, inward sorrow, borne, or to be borne : it was implanted there by nature, and lay perhaps more in the expression of the eyes than in the other features. Has the reader ever remarked, in his passage through the world, that where this mournful expression exists, the heart's destiny is fated not to be a happy one ?
One evening, an old and confidential friend of Peter Arkell's dropped in to sit an hour with him.
It was Mr. Palmer, the manager and cashier of the Riverton bank. The two friends had entered the bank together, as clerks, in boyhood, and Mr. Palmer had gradually risen to his present post of eminence, whilst his less fortunate friend, Peter Arkell, had to retire altogether, through ill health-but I think this has been mentioned before. As the two talked confidentially together on this evening, deploring the ruin that was overwhelming the city, Mr. Palmer dropped a hint that the firm of George Arkell and Son had been effecting another mortgage on their property. Mr. Peter Arkell said nothing then ; his daughter remarked, after the departure of their guest, that he
1 remained buried in melancholy silence; but the next morning he announced his intention of proceeding to his cousin's house.
Lucy was astonished-he who had not been out for weeks. And she remonstrated, because the day was a most unfit one for him to venture out in.
“ I can get there with the help of your arm,” he said. “I want to speak to my cousin William. Fetch down my old cloak with the fur collar, child, and air it at the fire. I can wrap myself up in that.”
So they started together, through the snow, to the house of Mr. William Arkell. The dear old house! where Peter had spent so many pleasant evenings in his youthful days. After Mr. and Mrs. George Arkell's death, William, with his family, had returned to it. Lucy went into the house, but her father proceeded to the manufactory, which was near, and entered his cousin's private room.
“Why, Peter !” exclaimed Mr. Arkell, in amazement, rising from his desk and placing an arm-chair to the fire, “what can bring you out such a day as this ? Sit down.”
Before Peter did so, he closed the door, so that they should be quite alone. He then turned and clasped his cousin by the hand.
William,” he began, emotion mingling with his utterance, “I have come to you, a poor, unhappy man. Conscious of my want of power to do what I ought-fearing that there is less chance of my doing it, day by day."
“What do you mean ?" inquired Mr. Arkell.
“ Amidst the ruin that has almost universally fallen on the city, you have not escaped, I fear,” resumed Mr. Peter : “your property is being seriously drawn
?" “ And, unless things mend, it will soon be drawn to an end, Peter." “God help me!" uttered Peter.
" And to know that I am in your debt, and cannot liquidate it! It is to speak of this that I am come out to-day.” “ Nay, now you are foolish !" exclaimed Mr. Arkell.
“ What matters a hundred pounds or two, more or less, to me? The sum would cut but a poor figure, Peter, by the side of what I am now habituated to losing. Never think of it, Peter : I never shall. Besides, you had it from me in driblets, so that I did not miss it.”
“When I had used to come to you for assistance in my illnesses, for I was ashamed to draw too much upon Mildred,” proceeded the poor man, “I never thought but what I should, in time, regain permanent strength, and be able to return it. I never meant to cheat you, William."
“Don't talk like that, Peter!" interrupted Mr. Arkell. “ If the money were returned to me now, it would only go
that the rest is going. I have always felt glad that it was in my power to render you assistance in your necessities : and if I stood this moment without a shilling to turn to, I should not regret it any more than I do now.”
They continued to converse for some time, and Lucy, meanwhile, had proceeded to the general sitting-room, in search of her relatives. How different was the Mrs. William Arkell of the present day, from what the lively, talkative, agreeable Miss Travice had been in former ones! Few persons liked Mrs. William Arkell.
She was an imperious woman, sometimes gave way to violent temper, and swayed her husband and her household with an absolute sway. Her daughters--vain, indulged, handsome girls, both much what their mother had been in person six-and-twenty years ago, and like what she was now in temper, sometimes ventured, and successfully, to dispute and resist her authority. Did Mr. Arkell, after some outrageous domestic scene, in which his wife had borne a conspicuous part, ever think of her, whose heart he had rejected ? She would not have made a turmoil of his home.
Nothing could exceed the contempt in which Charlotte and Sophia Arkell held their cousin Lucy. And who wondered at it? Lucy's education, though a thoroughly solid and good one, had not embraced accomplishments: like her aunt Mildred, dancing was all of them that she had been taught. The daughters of Mrs. William Arkell had learnt everything, from the harp, and Oriental tinting, down to Spanish, and Chenille embroidery. They never soiled their guarded fingers with plain work, and had just as much idea of how anything useful was done, as of how the moon was made : whilst poor Lucy—though one of the most lady-like girls in appearance and manners that could well be seen-had
to perform nearly all the duties in her little household, and she made her father's shirts and her own clothes. So of course the two fine young ladies despised her : and if you, my reader, are another fine young lady, perhaps you will despise her too.
When Lucy entered the drawing-room that morning, Charlotte, the only occupant of it, was rattling the keys of the piano. She whirled herself round on the music-stool.
“What have you come for, Lucy? Anything particular ?"
“My father wanted to see your papa, and I walked here with him,” was Lucy's answer.
“What did he want?” asked Charlotte. “ I thought he was too ill to go out."
"He did not say. In my opinion it was very wrong for him to come, but he appeared extremely anxious, and insisted. Do not let me interrupt your practising,"continued Lucy. “I should like to hear it.”
“ Practising! I have no heart to practise !” exclaimed Charlotte. “ Papa is always talking in such a gloomy way. He was in here just now: I was deep in this sonata, and did not hear him enter, and he began saying it would be better if I and Sophy were to accustom ourselves to spend some of our time usefully, for that he did not know how soon we might be obliged to do it. He has laid down the carriage ; he has made fearful retrenchments in the household : I wonder what he would have! And as to our buying anything new, or subscribing to a concert, or anything of that sort, mamma says she cannot get the money from him. I wish I was married, and gone from Riverton! I am thankful
future home is to be far enough away from it!" “Things may brighten here,” was all the consolation Lucy could offer.
“I don't believe they ever will,” returned Charlotte. “I see no hope of it. Papa looks sometimes as if his heart were breaking."
As Miss Arkell spoke, her brother entered the room. His countenance lighted up with joy when he saw Lucy.
" What! are you here, Lucy, so early this morning! You have come to spend the day, I know, so take your bonnet off.”
Lucy laughed. “Do I come so often to stay a whole day that you think I can come for nothing else ? I am going back almost immediately.” “Oh, nonsense! Now you are here, you
shall stay." Lucy shook her head. My father is here, and I am waiting to walk back with him. I cannot remain to-day, Travice.”
Travice drew a chair forward, and sat down near to Lucy. Charlotte left the room, for she used little ceremony with her cousin. And did the two miss her departure ? No, nor care for it. The romance that had been enacted in the early life of William and Mildred, was being reenacted now.
But with a difference. For whereas William Arkell, as we have seen, forsook the companion of his boyhood, and cast his love upon another, Travice's whole hopes were centred upon Lucy. And Lucy loved him with all the impassioned ideality of a first and powerful passion, with all the fervor of an imaginative and reserved nature. It is probable that each detected, in a degree, the feeling of the other, but no allusion to it, or explanation, had been spoken between them.
Dec.--VOL. CII. NO. CCCCVIII.
Mrs. Arkell had long suspected that her son was attached to Lucy. If there was one being on earth that Mrs. Arkell idolised, it was Travice ; if there was one that she despised, it was Lucy; and the bare possibility that her son might one day raise Lucy, from her obscure poverty, to be his wife, was hateful to her. The idea haunted her like a nightmare. She would long ago have broken off all intercourse with their less fortunate relatives, had she dared; but the calm authority and straightforward good sense of Mr. Arkell were such, that even his wife cared not in some few points to dispute it. And, setting aside her dislike of Lucy, Mrs. Arkell had a grand match for Travice in her
eye. There was living in Riverton a family of the name of Fauntleroy; a lady and her two daughters; the widow and children of old Fauntleroy the lawyer. No connexion, mind you, of him who was hung, or said to have been hung, for forgery. The girls were co-heiresses. 'Ten thousand pounds were settled
upon each : and there was other money to divide between them, which was not settled. How Lawyer Fauntleroy, as he was styled in the town, had scraped together so much, was a mystery to every one; but he had never been over scrupulous. Strapping, vulgar, good-humoured damsels they were, these two; with as little refinement in looks, words, and manner, as their father had possessed before them. After the death of Mr. Fauntleroy, they became intimate with the Arkell family: and it soon began to be said, all over Riverton, that Mr. Arkell's son and heir might have either of them for the asking. Mrs. Arkell overlooked their want of refinement, and their many other wants of a similar nature—of refinement, she perhaps deemed that Travice possessed enough for himself and for a wife too-she thought of the golden hoard in the bank, and pertinaciously cherished the hope and the resolve that the elder of the two young ladies, Miss Barbara Fauntleroy, should become her daughter-in-law.
We may well say "pertinaciously.” For when the first hint of the matter was imparted to Mr. Travice, he had rapped out the ungallant assertion, garnished with not a few expletives, that he would " as soon marry the Devil.”
When Mr. Peter Arkell's interview with his cousin was at an end, they both came into the sitting-room, where the whole family had now assembled, and Travice renewed his petition that Lucy should remain for the day. Mr. Arkell cordially seconded his son's invitation.
“I cannot spare Lucy now," interposed Mr. Peter ; "she must walk home with me, and see to my dinner. But if she likes to come down after that is over, and stay the afternoon with you, she can.”
And Lucy acquiesced.
“I would come and fetch you, Lucy,” called out Travice to her, in the hearing of all, as they were leaving, “ only I have to go out with the governor.”
“Travice !” broke out his mother, looking thunder, as he was about to follow “the governor” to the manufactory, “just shut that door. I want to speak with you.”
Travice obeyed, and perched himself on a side-table, humming a tune. Perhaps he suspected what was coming.
“What possesses you to behave in this absurd way to that Lucy Arkell ?” cried the lady, with suppressed passion.
What have I done now ?" asked Travice.