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-----------FROM DARKNESS iO…


FROM DARKNESS iO DAWN. --0-- A STORY OF SOUTH WALES. By WM. BRETT PLUMMER. A UTIIOR OF The Vicars Son*' Boron a Coalmine, Another Man's Money," Jtoclcs Ahead," 4-c. [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY THE AUTHOR.] CHAPTER VIII.-I,LA, I)YI-rjtyT. book in hand, determined, at toe iisii 01 nis I neck, to get a view of the breakers as they dash themselves frantically against the huge I boulders stretching out into the sea. It is a magnificent spot to witness the fury of a storm; it lies by the side of a headland oppo- site to Strumble Head, where the waters meet and lash themselves into a white, creamy foam, and where the wild fowl and I guns gather to make their homes in the thousand and one niches of the tall, black, sombre-looking rocks encircling the bay. Llandyffryn in itself is composed of a few small fishermen's huts and a little churob, huddled together on the pebbly yellow beach lying at the base of the cliffs. Running down from Cardigan into the valley there is a roughish bit of road, which finds an exit on the other side, and winds its way up the hill in the direction of St. David's, but in the winter time this is practi- I Don't, tell me," sail Nat, "Don't tell Mi thai My old friend, the Mayor, is no more" cally deserted, except for the weekly carrier's cart and the mounted postman, who find their way along it when the weather allows and the passage is not blocked with snow. But it is a dreamy place at all times, and but few visitors, comparatively (with the ex- ception of straggling artists), ever intrude into its picturesque wildness. High away up at the top of the cliff on the right of the valley stands a sort of farm-house surrounded bv a gloomy-looking patch of partly cultivated ground, in which every summer a thin crop of various serials may be seen straggling for existence on the ooarse, sandy soil. There are a few outhouses and farming implements scattered around, one or two pigs wander listlessly about, and a dozen fowls quarrel in the yard over the scarcity of the worms that fall to their lot. The whole place I is styled Monad-twr." The house itself is an old-fashioned tall, forbidding-looking building with white walls that appear to have bleached in the sun or washed colourless by the salineness of the rising ozone. It is a spot seldom intruded upon except by those whose business positively forces them to go there, and among the Welsh fishermen and their wives down below there is some sort of superstition prevailing with regard to the whole place. The postman, who may occasionally (say five or six times a year) find his way to Monad-twr," breathes a sigh of relief when bis task is ended, and whips up his rough Welsh cob with a smart lash for the home- ward journey, as much as to say, Well, I'm not sorry that's over, and I hope it will be a very long time before I have to come again." Now for the inmates. Monad-twr" was originally in the posses- sion of an eccentric old fellow who was popu- larly regarded by the local peasantry to have had illicit communications with the Evil One. For a matter of forty or fifty years after his decease the house, with its tall, forbidding tower, stood empty, the grounds became choked with weeds, the roads approaching from Cardigan Town covered with furze, and everything connected with the place fell into decay. Stories were rife concerning any number of ghostly visitors that were nightly seen on the craggs facing the sea, and men and women and children unanimously believed in them from Cardigan Town covered with furze, and everything connected with the place fell into decay. Stories were rife concerning any number of ghostly visitors that were nightly seen on the craggs facing the sea, and men and women and children unanimously believed in them and shunned the place. At length a man unknown in the district was daring enough to make his home there. No one knew where he came from. No one wanted to know anything about him. He looked like a rough farmer, and tilled the ground and sold his corn, reared a few sheep, said nothing to his neighbours^nd went on m this way for years. this way for years. He was supposed to be a married man, by th fV Toma'i wa" ",y seen llh him, and his wife, if wife she was, wa.% as uncommunicative as hft. fn the course of time the man died and his wife kept on the farm, that is to say, she lived there, but how she lived was a mystery,, for she troubled but little about the land, seldom went to Cardigan market, reared but little stook, and yet seemed to find soffieierrt for her wants. Eventually, from being m. mteriam she became even more in the mindi of the simple fishermen who lived in the valley, and the term, "gwrach," or witch, was fre- quently used when describing the mistress of I. Monad-twr." What little produce she raised evidently found a purchaser, or purchasers, in London, and her solitary farm labourer, a blear-eyed, sheepish-looking, red-headed man, used every three or four weeks to take it over to the town and despatch it thence by rail. Now, MiW-gfttet Wormtey knew the reputa- tion -she possessed, and, as a matter of fact, did not tnindit in the least; indeed, like her late husband, she preferred to live in seclu- sion, for the simple reason that the presumed farming was not and never had been genuine it was a blind, a delusion, and a cloak to hide the darker but more profitable side of her calling. This was the secret of it: her late husband, Patrick Wormley, was, as his name might imply, an Irishman, and, what was more, a patriot. From the commencement of the Home Rule agitation be had been closely connected with moat of the leading secret societies that had so proli- fically sprung up in both Ireland and America. He was a man of reserve, backed up by courage, and what be recognised or imagined (whichever the reader pleases) as the cause of his country he was ready to uphold to the best of his ability, even if the dangers he encountered might incur the risk of his life. He was, therefore, a useful m?mber of such an order or society as the National Social Federation, and from the moment of his taking the oath to be loyal and true to his country's liberation, he rapidly rose in the opinion of those of his associates who meant perhaps quite as well as he did but lacked the necessary determination to face the possible dangers. Now, at the time of which I write, by the co-operation of several Irish-American societies, the proposed arm ing of Irish Separa- tists and Loyalists was nearly brought to a bead, and to avoid detection small quantities of arms and ammunition were, when opportu- nity presented, sent to various head-quarters [along the- British coasts with a view to ulti- mately landing them at a secluded spot near Wicklow. So it came about that Patrick Wormley was deputed to visit the Welsh coast, and hearing that "Monad-twr'' was deserted and supposed to be haunted, with apparently no owner to claim it, and standing as it did quite adjacent to sundry well-concealed caves and disused quarries, and knowing also that it was but a comparatively short run across the bay to Wicklow Harbour, it naturally:struck a sharp man like Wormley that a better place could not possibly exist for his purpose. After inspecting it, both in daylight and at dark, be made some sort of inquiry for the owners, and finding that no one seemed to know anything at all about them, he put his broad shoulder to a door at the back of the yard, and, braving all ghostly visitants, took formal possession. Many a winter's night during the time he was alive (and many a [night sinoe) had one of the large rooms in "Monad-twr" been the scene of an orderly, deliberate, and well-planned meeting of j enthusiastic men who assembled because they had their nation's cause at heart. It was an excellently ohoaen spot for such'i a purpose, from the fact alone that very few out of Cardigan itself could speak a word of English. Consequently, there was no chance of curious inquiries, even had people been so disposed. But it is of Margaret Wormley that I have to deal now. There she is just coming out uf the old tumble-down stable with the light streaming upon her through the thatch. The chickens race round as she throws out the grain from her basket, and give us time to look at her. She is a bard- set-faced woman, of perhaps forty, with a clever, intelligent expression, and yet with something in her countenance that is for- bidding in the extreme. It is easy to see that she has at one time been certainly not devoid of good looks, and at the present moment even her features, though hardened, are regular and well chased. But it is her large black, deep-looking eyes and overhanging brows that make her appear almost a fiend, and as she looks at you she appears to pene- trate -your very soul. She is of medium height and well proportioned, dressed eare- lessly, with an old brown holland bonnet covering her slightly grey hair, a Scotch plaid shawl over her shoulders, which falls down in front of her somewhat dilapidated brown stuff dress. A huge black dog comes from the other side of the yard aud rubs his head in a friendly way against her. The action causes her to arouse from her reverie, and throwing down the basket she moves off in the direction of the house, which abuts on the cliff, followed by her canine com- panion, and, shading her eyes with her hand, gtares out across the bay. As she does so the clattering of hoofs on the hard stony road approaching the farm arrests her attention. The next instant the old gate creaks on its hinges, the youthful post- man dismounts, and muttering some incohe- rent expression in Welsh, almost tremblingly hands her a letter. Like a shot he is astride his cob, once more the gate has swung to with a clang, and the pony and its rider are rattling along the road in the distance. She laughs grimly and silently at the hastily retreating figure, and glances at the envelope. The colour in her face has gone her lips are white—her breast heaves with emotion. Tearing open the envelope she dashes one hand across her eyes, as if to clear her vision, and anxiously reads the contents. Her hand, with the letter grasped in it, falls helplessly by her side. II So, when he wants me to help him, he can come. Well, Nat Nicholson, we will see if you are as true to the promises of yonr youth as I have And placing the crumpled missive in her bosom, she walks, as if in a dream1 to the housei CHAPTES IX—In inn SjprDBii's Wuu. The cab oontaining- Miss Pentland: rolled aTong towards Kensington-, and finally draw: up in front of the Brunswick Hotel, which is In fashionable: West-end resort, patronised principally by retired half-pay officers (military a.nd aaval) and their familioe; A free and eaay air pervades the lower portion: of the house, inasmuch, as there is a smolie- room. a bar, and a billiard saloon; but in other respects the- hotel is almost ultra-aristo- cratic in its general bearing". Here Alice Pentland stopped, and engaged two private rooms. She was tired and sick at heart, wanting rest and solitude; and so, after a slight dinner, she retired to her bed- chamber, and in spite of her agony of mind, her tears, and her troubles, was soon calmly and peacefully enjoying a pure and refreshing rest. Her eyes were closed, and a sweet smile lighted up her fair face, around which her long hair nestled picturesquely. Now and then her hands would move convulsively and interlock, almost as if in prayer, and then she would turn slightly on her side and give a heart-drawn sigh; but the shadow would each time pass away, and the smile would again lighten up her face. Finally, wearied out, she sank into a heavy, lethargic slumber, and her regular breathing soon told the tale that she was at rest and oblivious of all the world. Tired and jaded though she was on her arrival, Alice had written a letter before she even partook of her dinner. To her it meant life and comfort; to her it was a ray of hope in the dark wilderness of her life to be able to pen a few lines to one whom she knew and trusted as a friend, if not even as something more. When her father's regiment was stationed at Madras Alice Pentland had met on various occasions at civilian balls, soirees, and garden parties a gentleman by the name of Blanchard. He was only a very young man, being, in fact, a year younger than she was; but he was manly and straightforward, and before long a firm attachment had sprung up between them. This attachment took root and grew, and Tom Blanchard and Alice Pentland had plighted their troth in spite of the stringent opposition of the major, who, from selfish motives alone, scarcely relished the idea of losing his only girl. Alice, who in all things was obedient to her father's slightest wish, had not the faintest intention of opposing him, and Tom Blanchard, though he loved Alice dearly, was also averse to possessing her hand unless the major was pleased to give it him. And the major wasn't soft-hearted or soft-headed enough to give way to either. It happened, therefore, that the two embryo lovers continued their innocent courtship, happy if only in one another's society, with- out the slightest or faintest hope of ever being able, singly or collectively, to break down the major's oast-iron ultimatum. It may appear absurd to many of my readers, but still the fact remains. Tom Blanchard was a gentleman, acd that word in in its true sense expresses more than any pen can ever convey. He loved, and was honour- able in his love, and was consequently happy, if only fate did not step in to separate him entirely from the object of his ohoice. A word about this Tom Blanchard will not I be out or place nere. He was the son of an Englishman who had, early in life, settled in Madras, and realised in a comparatively few years a hand- some and almost princely fortune. At his death he owned about a sixth of the principal buildings in the township, besides many miles of landaround. He traded profitably between England, America, and the British Colonies, and when he died Tom Blanchard, his only son, suoceeded to his enormous fortune, and was popularly styled the merchant prince." So when Major Pentland intimated his in- tention of ending his life in his mother country, Tom Blanchard intimated his inten- tion to Alice of following them by the suc- ceeding mail, and gave her a postal address in London that would find him. Alice promised to write him on her arrival, and, now that she was friendless and alone in the world (except for her brother, of whose whereabouts she was utterly ignorant), she was glad enough to keep her word and seek t the assistance of one whom she knew loved her as devotedly as she loved him, This letter was written and plaoed ready on her dressing table to be posted with a number of other missives relating to her business affairs with her lste father's solicitors and bankers. t < < < I Ah, good evening I'll take a glass of sherry—dry. Thank you. By the bye, have you a lady staying here by the name of Miss Pentland?" The inquirer was a florid-faced, good- humoured looking gentleman, with slight side whiskers, a polished silk hat, high military collar, a rather loudly-patterned check suit, yellow kid gloves, and a short silver-mounted cane. The clerk at the bar looked down the list; following each arrival carefully with his fore- finger. Miss Pentland, air "Eh? Yes, that's the name." Yet, air; she arrived about three hoars ago." By Jove, I thought so. I was sure I wasn't mistaken. The likeness—egad—the likeness is surprising. What a most remark- able coincidence to be sure." Would you like to see the lady, sir See her ? See her ? I should think so. See her? 1 intend seeing her—considering— ah but never mind. There—give me a sheet of notepaper, will you f" And the gentleman excitedly puffed away at a cigar he held between his teeth, at the same time muttering, See her ? Damme, 1 should think I would." Would you like to write the note in the coffee-room, sir, and I will send it up ?" in- quired the clerk. "Eh f Um-ah-yes. All right. God bless mv soul. Wonders will never cease, to be sure. Yes. Send the—a—waiter in with it, and -a (draining his glass) I'll take another glass of pale sherry, dry-mind- dry," and Nat Nicholson, for it was he, strutted in approved military fashion, with well- squared shoulders, to the room in question. lie seated himself at a small table, and, with his head perched sideways, penned the following lines :— My Dear ikliss Pent a really marvellous coincidence I have discovered you are etaying at this hotel. I am overjoyed, and should much like to see yoti-for I knew you as a child-alld have some news of the major, whom I trust is in town. it is years since we met, and he will, I know, b@ delighted to renew my acquaintance.—I have the honour to be, A LIFK-LOKG FRIKNQ OF YOUR FATHEH'S. There," said Nat, take that upstairs and tell Miss Pentland I shall not detain her Jong." The waiter returned in a short time with the request that the gentleman would walk upstairs. The orphan girl was seated faoing the door in an armchair at the farthest side of the fireplaoe, as Nat, with bis hat under his arm, entered effusively. She ro se and Nat. seizing her hand, shook it cordially, at the same time exolainiing, Pardon Miss Pentlaniw,-Alicep. as I used to oall 1T onoa:-but the eery sight of you brings ft9* suck old recollections.. Why, blfcss mt, Y.00 are in mourning.. Don't tell me—— Alice, bursting into tears, sank back in ohair with- her- handkerchief covering b* f'aae;. Dbn?b tell iiiL-il," said Nat; feigning th deepest anxiety, "dbn't tell me that my olj friend; the Major- Yes, sir,sobbed the girl in an agoni#^ voice)." my father is no mere; He died the niglit before last." Bear;, dear; God bless my soul ej lated the wily 5iat,. in well-assumed surpri^ you don't say so and to tftink tllat 1 ahouW be- just too late to see himi And youl brother, that I remember as st. batty. witeo ia he u Alive, I trust; but where I know not. do "Ther, tltere-calm yourself, my bill In this deep trouble you need a friend aJJ4 guardian. I am thankful that chance ha' sø mercifully directed my steps this way. lot the sake of your poor father I respected ? well I feel it my duty to stand by you in tbif moment of grief—this time of mourning^ and rest assured I shall do so." Alice was too distracted to take moo) notice of Nat's personal appearance ;ø4 bloated-looking countenance. She felt it relief to have found someone who would help her, and, murmuring her thanks, asked bito to be seated. II Now, my dear child, just let me tell yof who I am and how I came across you in this"" this providential way," Nat went on with 80 occasional tremor in his voice that was meallt to convey his deep emotion. My name ? I"ercival Ilugh J. Percival, an old captalo of the 24th. No doubt you have heard yr father speak of me. I knew him in Ind* years ago, and have held you in ull arms as a little one more than once, so yoø can feel free from any restraint in presence; for, though I am rough and an Bohemian, my heart, child, inwardly bleed? for you—yes, bleeds for you, Alice, and* shall try and fill your father's place now, as' know too well he would wish and expect IUO to do." Nat gave a slight choke and continued" Sinoe I came to England I have never Ille my poor friend, the Major, although Many letters have naturally passed between us; and, etrange to say, it was only yesterday saw in the Times of India, which paper if taken in regularly at my—at my-club, notice of the Major's intended departure fot the old country. Well, of course, 1 knew b6 would look me up immediately on his arrival but judge of my surprise last night wheo passing this hotel I saw your lugg arrive with the name of Pentland on I$. Wonders will never cease, I thought, and SO made inquiries, found I was right in my cow jeotures, and here I am ready and willing be of any service I may to one I respect shall cherish as the daughter of my dear, dead friend." And Nat, having delivered himself of hil well-directed lie, blew his nose violently, vigorously applied his handkerchief to bíØ eyes. While Alice Pentland felt that, rough as N* was in appearance, inwardly he was gentis as a woman, and that Providence had ia itO goodness directed him to her, to be a rook lean on in this hour of her affliction, (To be continued.)





! THE GREAT mill-street ?…