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THB sTHANGE CLAIMANT; OR, TWICE WED. CHAPTER X. t WOOED AND WON. Xs^? is a wonderful transformer—mighty in power. tiujjj1" lta influence the proud man ia humble, the becomes strong he who falters habitually in grows eloquent, and the one who has prided maybe, on his acquirements, becomes sud- ^J nuite. Even the fiercest natureo can be at times f0t • to singular gentleness, which is otherwise most to their tempers. Car unscruplous wrecker—the man who, in a long lawleg8 crime, had become familiar with pi variety of hardship, cruelty, and danger— y0n his cause with all the warmth and energy of a cio an^ true-hearted lover, approaching the pre- iL8 object of his first pure attachment. tVi Wa3 no hyProcite *n this. Men are not wholly scarcely the very worst are without some atom goOd in their nature, and it ia a blessed consolation „ Reflect how hard it seems to drive entirely from re human heart the love of divine Nature and her teøh, pure truths. Saul Meghorn felt all he uttered in that impas- » •led stream of fervid eloquence he poured forth, by the side of the miserable widow, who, her u 1 d quietly put to rest, had bound up the wounded *ef ,^er preserver; her kind nature could not Wif0 muc^ 8UCb a moment. Alas she saw, Pain not to be told, that her outburst of grati- « Qe» her tearful exclamation, had finally unlocked emotions of the man, and doomed her to r what she had with dread so long avoided. And hear me, Nelly," he went on, as she, with srted face and streaming eyes, in vain tried to draw jj, ay the hand he held. Though I love you as my felt* ^ough, from the moment I first beheld you, I that you had the power to make me a better man, turn me from the careless life I have hitherto led >o though I would hazard life and soul to do 11 service—believe me, it is not all selfishness—not v for my own happiness, I speak. Dear girl, heve me, your happiness and comfort shall be my thought; your life shall be one scene of child shall be dear to me as yourself siaothing that money can purchase or love procure tin wanting. Ah dear Nelly, do but hear me not hate me for loving you." te She turned her head slowly, and in a broken voice Phed- Bate you I hate no one. God knows I am but Poor broken, sinful woman. Oh Saul Meghorn! o not talk so. You have been a friend you have f?*Ved U9 as none of the rest couid, though they had e will good to do it. You have just saved my ^arling child's life for the love of God, don't talk of bating; but—but .She trembled, broke down in her speech, and sank uack upon the settle behind her. He rose slowly, still holding her hand, and drew Closer to her side. "Nelly, you are alone you lAad a life of hardship Dd grief it cannot last, dear—the end will be your Iness, and perhaps worse. Think of her—what will become of her ? He pointed in the direction of the bed, where the Boft breathing of the little sleeper made itself heard. "For her sake, dearest girl—for her sake, let me 6 all tayou both. Nelly, as I said, forget the old titnes, if you dislike to think of them; let me be only t Wend you know, since you are alone in the world; 'Grget How can I ever forget ? Oh! Meghorn!" she in- tetru.pted; how can I forget what drove him from Ar'n't the words fixed in my brain ?—cut on l:t1y heart they might be. Night and day, night and j*y« I say them to myself, over and over again. ^Ven't I laid awake, through such weary haurs, "nd thought, and thought, until they have risen like of the o'ark before me—'Nelly, I know your Wickedness and deceit'; and my head has burnt and l:t1y lips have dried up, and I've risen and paced to and fro, te and fro, and cried, 'Oh, if I had not! oh, 1f I had net My God, forget, forget! The smuggler's dark visage paled as in a frenzied *°ice she poured forth her agony, and her tear- 8*ollen eyes flashed with the fire of delirium; but he jjever let go the hand she would have wrenched from ^DI, till, exhausted, she dropped her head, and again *1rned away. He paused awhile, then went on in a low but determined tone— Nelly, I have not always been as I am. Time "8.8 when I could have chosen from beautiful and Wealthy women a bride, who would have thought herself honoured, too, by my choice. But of them 1 never felt as of you, that there was a power to Bave me from evil. By the most lovely and most "ought I have again and again seen men tempted to their own ruin, or led into follies that lowered them beneath the contempt of their fellows. I had learned, I thought, experience, and yet I fell into e snare. "By a woman I was betrayed into folly, wrong. "Ud wretchedness, then worse, until there was no faith bar hope—nothing hut despair, and defiance, and ^recklessness. Oh, Nelly! if you knew, if you could Jj^t see what a sudden light was shown me when I first met you! I felt then there was a chance, there "as some hope. I felt born again to belief and happi- ness. I was seized with a loathing for the life I led "nd for your sake, for you, dear, beautiful, good Woman, Iucrificed more than I tell you. I laved Jpu; I believed you loved me. Surely I was not to blame ? tt I don't blame, I don't blame," she said, hastily. X curse my own wicked and vain folly and deceit." T "J0*" one' awee' Nelly, if you knew the misery ■t have suffered, the horrible disappointment and despair that came over all my hopes when you told :tUa-" Hastily she motioned for him to stay the terrible Reminder. She had ceased to strive now; her hand tested passively in his, her tears were flowing quietly 1rith pity. He, of stronger purpose, knew and pur- sued his advantage— I have haunted the place that held you. I have loaded tor this moment; yet I have feared your and respected your grief. Oh! Nelly, hear 11101 la ok on me! Pity a man that you now could Sa.ve, or send him out upon a world where there is Neither hope, nor comfort, nor life without you." And, aga in kneeling at her feet, he ceased, and let Ro, for the first time, the hand of the widow. There was silence for Bome minutes her tears were r'ied, and the old, steadfast look had come npon her *ace again, wbtNn she spoke— Saul Meghorn, 1" tell you my heart and love are In his grave. I shaH <aever, never crre for living *an again. It's the truth—how can I be what you ^tof me?" Nolly, I said it was not for self; let me be your Protector, and friend, and all. I have sufficient to well and ploasantlv on. If' shall tje as you will, or elsewhere. You pitied me just now you y^^nd up the cut and bleeding hands—so you can my heart, that has been aching and wounded ^s many a day. I will never, be sure, ask more than can bestow; nor ask you to forget the past—ex- PJ-1 cian make you happier than it j °he shook her head slowly, still her face turned r°tu him but, ere a minute had passed, she fixed her eyes on his— Saul Meghorn, I am but a sinful and unhappy I tell you truth, I shall never leave off keying and sorrowing for my own dreadful error, an*] ^°r that's gone. But I wronged you, too, Pained yon. you say. God knows, I'd do much taped^k0 am and my child-" her voice fal- "II ,t so deal with me as I with her and you," S Sau 1, in deep and earnest tones. W h PI, It her cold hand voluntarily into his. But 6a^' was again averted—she shuddered, as he caught her to his^breast; and the cheek that met his burning lips touched them like ice. In a toneless whisper, she bade him go now, and promised to see him on the morrow. Exulting, the smuggler strode down the path to Deepgang. He had gained the one desire on which the whole force of his unyielding will had long been bent. Alone, she knelt at the bedside of her sleeping child. It was not to petition for strength, neither was it in prayer, she strove till dawn, but a vague feeling lay heavy at her soul, that, in some sort, she needed forgiveness for the compact she had entered into; that of him whom she had lost she would fain crave pardon —though for what, she could not have said. Heavier her burden-could not be, she had thought twenty-four hours ago. She bad learnt, now, how much weightier it could be made; and death, she felt, could alone release her now. Yet, for pity's sake, and for hers," she repeated to herself, again and again, as she wept over her little Ida, and tried to think only that he had saved her life. So she listened, as the innocent prattled of her ad- venture, and extolled, in childish gratitude, her pre- server, Hund, and his master, an old acquaintance of little Ida, who had many experiences of childish treasures and dainties conveyed in surreptitious mementoes before the cottage door, and which poor Nelly had endeavoured, but in vain, to guard against, instinctively dreading that which had at length come to pass. Both Hund and his master were, however, free of the quiet little home now, and availed themselves of the privilege to the full. The neighbours—nay, the wbole village—wondered and talked some were scandalised, some approved. But it was all one to the widow. She had passed her word, moved by emotions which even she herself would have found a difficulty in explaining, and she would keep it. The times of coquetry and pretty tribulation were past now. Her heart might bleed, but it was uncom- plainingly. The sacrifice would be made without a sigh. She went about the old duties in the old way, only when, at evening, little Ida made the usual re- quest of— Sin', mover, pease—a ittle sonn' Mother can't sing, dear pet; Ida must sing to herself now mother will never sing any more." Even the Boothing hymn of prayerful hope was hushed henceforth, and her sweet voice woke the echoes by its pleasant strains no more. On a dull, autumn day the young wid«w Franklen became S vul Meghorn's wife. A dreary contrast to the first wedding! The wind howled dismally along the shore; the waves came in with a pitiful sobbing not in boisterous shock, nor playful leaping over obstacles, and scattering of diamond spray: grey clouds hung low upon the horizon; and the regular, sharp blows of the workmen employed at the lighthouse on the Point sounded like the nailing down of some coffined giant, for whose obsequies all Nature put on mourning. Oalm, white, passive, the wretched woman passed to the church—not the old, ivy-covered edifice at Bontryst; a newer and more accessible sanctuary had arisen in the land close to Sandcombe and thither, hand in hand with her little girl, Saul led his strangely-won bride. The persistence of passion and tyranny of will which could seek as a wife one who had laid her heart so bare before him, is far from being an isolated case in the history of man. Nothing se blind, nothing so self-sufficient as love. Once the object won—once sole possessor of the being it craves, the rest must follow. So the passion wills it, and incongruity, aversion, or disinclination be overcome. In his innermost heart, we must give Saul credit for believing much of that he said. He had set up the girl as his idol, had woven in with her idea those longings for reform and better life, which still haunted him at times. Besides that, his baulked will and fiery passions craved their recompense. Hence his deter- mined pursuit; hence his triumph, and hence his settled conviction that, once his wife, Nelly would be all he intended, and appreciate the life he designed she should lead. Poor elements out of which to raise the edifice of conjugal bliss! I don't know but the share she brought to the common stock was more valuable. Unquestioning obedience, passive kindness, docility, patience- But, no! these even are net more promising. Pure cold water, it's true, is a necessary and heath- ful ele.nent, but even that works direful mischief mis- applied. The heated cauldron is harmless as it stands, but pour in the same pure, cold element, and the contact —eh! here is an explosion!—shocks and wounds, and sudden death. Full of fierce joy, and ardent love, and proud triumph, Meghorn led home his pale bride to Deep- gang. The house had been put in trim array within, a considerable quantity of new furniture added, and a younger maid hired in place of old Dorcas, who was pensioned off, wisely. Bachelors' housekeepers are scarcely advisable retainers in a married establish- ment. May I sin', mover ? was the request of the child, full of joy at the novelties around her. Not now, dear pet, not now," said the mother, as they crossed hand in hand the threshold of Saul Meg- horn's dwelling. CHAPTER XI. THE CARDS DEALT. I WISH I could assert with truth that no envy mingled with the very decided manifestations of opinion rela- tive to the widow's marriage among her rustic neigh- bours. Good Dame Bullocks certainly formed an excep- tion, as did kind-hearted Meg, her daughter-in-law; though naturally they felt the implied slight to their own relative, As for the dame's daughter Patty, she made no secret of her sentiments; but, with uplifted hands and eyes, wondered what on earth Mrs. Franklen could have seen in that black-browed man, to set him above our Dan; who, if he was short and fair, was as good-hearted a lad as ever stepped in shoe leather. But there it was the money, of course; and perhaps she'd make a better wife this time." Once more the good dame checked her impetuous child "Stay thy tongue, Patty dear, or the'll just be vexed in a bit, I know," said the kind old woman. "None of us sees what's in the heart of his next neighbour. It's the Lord only in His goodness does that. And we ;can't tell, my child, what may have moved in the poor lass to make her take up wi' Saul Meghorn." He wur always for following har at a distance, and eyeing her and the child that I do know," said Meg. Ay,ay, and maybe he d done her a good turn, and the poor thing felt grateful like, and he'll ha' pestered her, maybe." Such a doleful face as she always carried," said Patty, indignantly; though, with the consistency of her sex, Patty had always loudly exclaimed against the tacit rejection of consolation by poor Nelly. II Ay, well! maybe she's done the best for the child that could be," said the dame. God help 'em both! I do hope she'll be happy." She does not look it," said Meg, compassionately; I met her and little Ida down by the Ohine last evening, and I think she looted more worn, and spoke fainter like, than ever." Ay, my lasses, I don't think Nelly married for comfort, poor wench! I mind me too well of that night, and that she's never forgot it I well believe." It's a mighty change for her from that poor place of her's," said Patty; and what a fancy, too, to kefp the cottage shut up down yonder, as you say!" It was what she wished," said Meg; she goes there now and again, when her husband's away, and sits with little Ida at work; and she dusts and cleans it up, all like she used to." It's as if she half believed he wasn't dead," said Patty. "Ay, she can't forget, poor lass; well, well, I wish I could think she wur happy," said Dame Bullocks. There were few joined in the wish, however they may have doubted the fact; for change of fortune too often alienates the symoathy of friends from us; when, Heaven knows, the want for it may be even greatest. The surmise of her kind old acquaintance, one time bridesmaid, was not far from truth. Ere Nelly had been six months married, she had learned that even the bitterness of the sacrifice might be deepened. Lavish in expenditure, warm and eager in his de- monstrations of affection, her impetuous and unprin- cipled lord certainly did his utmost, in his own fashion, to win her to him. He had yielded to her request, that all at the I cottage sbould remain untouched, that she should have the key and use the place occasionally, as we have heard mentioned. During his periodical absences, few and far between, she came hither with her child, and returned, with apparently a mel- ancholy plea&ure, to a few hours' reminiscence of the old time. Here were her bridal bea, her simple clothes, her homely furniture — his gifts, and the chest containing those dreary relics of her ship- wrecked hopes. It was indeed a change, the life she had now en- tered upon. She had few household duties to engage her; the care of little Ida formed her chief employ- ment, with such particular offices as her lord and master (taired at her Wids—pleasant and accept- able, when voluntarily rendered; but, ah me! how hard of performance, -how barren in acceptance, when performed by order. Yet she did her duty truthfully, and to the letter; never gainsayed word or desire of his; never mur- mured at the smallest of his decisions, tyrannical as —even in love—they could be. Little Ida took wonderfully to the huffe man, and would sit on his shoulder, play with his massy beard, or fondle the shaggy head, much as she did with faithful Hund, who was her shadow whenever she strolled out into the Ohine, or down the winding p1\ths of rocky Deepgang. The mother scarcely accepted tbeee demonstrations of the child as might have been expected—letting them do duty, as it were, for her own inveterate indifference—she rather seemed to regard with jealousy the affection of her daughter, though never in any way displayed in pre- ference to herself; and indeed, alas! every day seemed to increase her coldness, her austerity, and the methodical obedience of her avery act, to the will of the man who owned her. Better he could have borne complaint, denial, open rebellion, than this automaton-like resignation presenting so dire a contrast to the girl who had charmed him from himself in earlier times — the Nelly Hartsom ho had wooed, but failed to win. Not slow was he to interpret this perseverance in indifference to aversion. His was not the nature to brook rejection. He could persevere, endure, plan, and await the moment of triumph; but this invete- rate and chilling frost, this fixed immobility, it was not given him to overcome. He lest hope, he gave up endeavour, he slackened in attentions and endearments; but she changed nothing of her sepulchral mood. The man's mighty will was baffled; he was not to be victor even in the victory he had gained. But the birth of a son promised some change in the prospects of the ill-starred couple. Nellie's loving heart yearned to the poor infant, inauspicious as was its existence. She nursed it with all care, and little Ida was in raptures with the strange, new wonder. Saul, if he ever wor- shipped, did so at that tiny shrine. Day and night the huge man looked in upon his offspring—watched it, listened for its voice, found resemblances in its half-formed features to those of the mother; besought her care and attention for it in a manner that must have been touching to any but a heart so prematurely wrung as hers had been. Heaven forgive her, that while even she acted on his request, and answered him meekly, she turned coldly .way, nor by look or word showed sign of that illimitable love which, at such seasons, wells up in the heart of man and woman, to fulfil the highest concep- tion ef earthly bliss. Who knows how hard she found even the mother's duty, or how even its own helpless appeal to her maternal sympathies scarce overcame the terrible, though too natural, results of such a union! For Nature is imperative, though we toe often neglect her signs, or give them other names. If we consulted her requirements more, we should be nearer universal love and peace than we are. But, alas! for all the hopes of the newly-made father. The babe, strong and hearty to all appearance, fell sick suddenly; and, deBpitA all possible care and assistance, died the same day it was but five weeks old. Nelly grieved over the poor little corpse, but she shed no tears. One might have thought the agony of the strong man, so terrible to see, would have moved her; f>ut, no. Little Ida wept more for the pretty, live doll she would insist on singing to, whenever she was per- mitted. As for Saul, his grief was overwhelming, and par- took of the fierce impetuosity of all he did. He refused to credit that the child was dead, and and kept it by him longer than prudence or custom allowed. When it became necessary to part with it, the scene was terrible, and long remembered when subsequent events made recollections of the strange man valuable to the gossips. He absented himself from the house the whole of the day on which the boy's funeral took place, and night was far spent when he returned. His wife was up—she always awaited him. He came in, advanced to the hearth, and sat down facing her, in moody silence, without even removing his hat, or taking the slightest notice of the supper which was spread for him. (7b be continued.)


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