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THE MINIATURE.

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fAIX RIGHTS RESERVED. J THE MINIATURE. By the Author of Sydney Fielding CHAPTER II-(Continued.) In pursuance of his new resolution, we made arrangements te leave B- the first thi lg the next morning, if we could find a vacant place in or upon one of the coaches. As we were on our way to the coach-office, however, we became conscious that there was news in the city. People were asking ea^h other questions, with serious faces and low voices and numbers seemed to be bending their eager steps in the same direction. The people that we passed, standing at doorways and corners, seemed all to be occupied with the same solemn theme; and when we got to the coach-office, the busy grooms were passing words to each other about it, as they moved to and fro. They bad words when they came from the theatre," said one. He'd been a-scolding of her about her acting," said another. "But she did act a sight better than be," remarked a third. "But he mightn't think so," returned the second. No, no," said a fourth 'twern't about her act- ing, nor nothing of the sort. 'Twere about an old sweetheart as she'd a s5en." "What—a old sweetheart—and she a married 'oman? Come, then, that were aggravation." Yes, a old sweetheart, as had ought to have had her," rejoined the fourth; only he was done out of her by him as is her husband. Mary Ann Baker heard every word as they spoke." "That's the young 'Oman as he do keep company with," said one to another, sotto voce. Mary Anne Baker's one of the sarvent-gals in the very house. Here, Jim, let's hear all as she've told 'e." As may be imagined, we soon felt a most powerful interest in these boding scraps of talk. Coleraine became painfully agitated, and as he was abslutely too timorous to ask any questions, I made inquiries of one and another myself. The gossip concerned Houghton and his wife. The general account was, that they had quarrelled vehemenently on returning from the theatre-that the lady declared "she would leave her husband, and dared him ever to come into her presence-that a struggle took place between them, resulting in the lady being precipitated to the bottom of a steep flight of stairs. Some stated that she was dead, others that she was dying. It was said that, when the jinmates of the house, hearing the crash, rushed from their rooms, Houghton had stood in the midst of them, raving that it was her own deed —that she bad so excited herself that she knew not what she was doing-that he tried to hold her, but could not. It was her own deed, he had repeated many times but when the alarm had spread, and the police made their appearance on the scene, he had become silent, and, presently, when they thought of him again amidst the excitement of tending the poor lady, he was not to be seen, and it was speedily discovered that he had got away from the bouse—none knew how, when, or whither. Guided by the concourse, we wended [our way towards the scene of this dreadful occurrence. A very dense crowd had gathered before the house, which was a superior lodging-house in a good quarter of the city. The lady was not dead, but was not expected to live, they said. Nothing could withold Coleraine and being myself intensely, terribly interested, I kept behind him, or by his side, according to the swaying of the crowd. We pushed our way to the top of the door- steps, and, stating that we were friends of the injured actress, gained admission to the house. The landlady informed us that Mrs. Houghton bad received concussion of the brain—had been un- able to speak since the occurrence—and, in fact, had been perfectly insensible all the while. The doctor had declared that she would die, the moment he ex- amined her she might linger for a day or two, or ¡ she might go off in an hour-but all thought of saving her life was, alas out of the qwestion. The doctor bad seen her three times during the night, and, in fact,, he was with her now. Hearing this, Coleraine entreated to be allowed to see her in the presence of the physician, saying that he had long Known her, and that she had been dearer to him than a sister. The landlady crept into the apartment to which the patient had been carried, and presently returned, bearing the required permission from the physician. She was stretched upon a bed all the upper part of her beautiful head was concealed by an ugly band- age—her features were greatly flushed—her eyes were half-open, but were vacant, and void of speculation —her lips moved at times, and she uttered now and then a low, sad wail, but never a single word. The silent doctor put his finger on his lip, and shook his head. Coleraine's frame heaved and trembled, as his rended heart forced forth its grief in sobs. Kneeling by the bedside, he took her hand, that soon was wet with his falling tears. Presently it opened, limp and flaccid, and something fell from its grasp into his own. I observed him start with sudden excitement, and then go quickly and noise- lessly to the other side of the bed. He seemed to make some discovery there also, for he came immedi- ately towards me and the doctor, and in an agitated whisper bid us bear witness what he had found. Her hands were closed," he said. "This was in her right and this in her left." The first object to which he drew our attention was a portion of a fine and handsomely-wrought gold chain the second a piece of a shirt-ruffle or breast frill. Do you see," he said, particularly engaging my attention to the ten or twelve linke of chain; it has been severed on this side at the exact place where 1 once mended it with thread, as I have told you and here, in fact, are fragments of that thread." There were, indeed, fragments of thread still hold- ing on to the last link-the black thread wherewith my unhappy friend had mended ti ihain in the dressing room at the If- Theatre, as he had so often narrated to me. "This chain he wore round hir reek," pursued Coleraine; and I observed, when I saw him last night, that he had a frill at his breast. This shows how it happened. Depend upon it that he pushed her down, and she, striving to save herself, caught hold of him, but still falling, carried away that which her hands happened to grasp. I say, she is a mur- dered woman!" Hupb, hush murmured the physician, placing his fingers on his lip again. We must not hurry to such conclusions. There are strong suspicions- and the piece of evidence you have discovered may be valuable but the matter is in the hands of the police and the authorities, and we must leave the question of guilt to be ^determined by the searching operations of the law. In the course of the second night after the inflic- tion of her injuries, the once beautiful and gifted Beatrice Jervan breathed her last, without a single interval of sensibility. The excitement in the city was immense she bad been a favourite and a cele- brity with the public and, up to a late hour on the night of her death, hundreds made anxious inquiries in all quarters, as to how she was progressing. This excitement was greatly increased when a coroner's jury returned a verdict of Manslaughter against Edward Houghton, the husband of the de- ceaaed-when the coroner's and the magistrates warrants were issued for his apprehension to answer for that crime—and when, that end not being speedily accomplished, the government offered a re- ward of two hundred pounds to whomsoever would discover and secure him. The remarkable circumstances of the case attracted an unusual amount of interest and excitement; and the evidence of Coleraine, who, in order that the exact relations existing betwixt the deceased and her alleged destroyer should be made duly manifest, re- lated the whole history of his acquaintance with the former, and his experience of the latter, invested it with the thrilling fascination of a dark romance of love, deception, and crime. The police of those days did not possess the powers and organisation which .render them so terrible to evil-doers in these. The railroad was only in an uncertain infancy; the electric telegraph was not dreamed of, save, perhaps, by the many savants who have since laid claim to its invention. In spite of every effort that could be made, the arrest of Hough- ton could not be effected. All the exertions of the police, and the temptations of the government re- ward, were in vain. The man-probably favoured by the actor's talent at personal disguises—managed to defeat the efforts of justice, to maintain himself and his whereabouts in inscrutable mystery. Four years passed away. The tragedy had gradu- ally faded out of the public mind, and become for- gotten, save by the still watchful police, and a knot of still more* watchful reward-hunters, by the wit- nesses still upon their recognisances, and, above all, by Charles Coleraine. Apart from Coleraine himself, the most important witness before the coroner and magistrates had been one of the servants at the lodging-house, named Mary Ann Baker, already alluded to in passing. She, it appeared was the only person who distinctly heard the altercation betwixt the deceased and her husband just previous to the fatal event-an altercation in which she had bitterly upbraided him for perfidy, and declared that she could remain by his side and bear his name no longer, and to which he had mockingly retorted, that she could not help herself, and so had better resolve to make herself agreeable, and make the best of it, and finally had proceeded to furiously bidding her bold her tongue, and to threats that if she said anothw word it; might be the worse for her. The words re. ported by this witbess dearly established the fad that H?«ghton had, after obtaining possession of the miniature, discovered the retreat of the deceased, tnd pursued her with his addresses, showing her the portrait, and assuring her that Coleraine had pre- sented it to him, as'4he wished to banish the remem- brance of her from his mind and that it was whilt bhe anger and disappointment were fresh in her hearc from this supposed treachery of her lover, that she listened to the assiduous addresses of the new suitor, and shortly consented to return to the stage as hia wife. For this witness Coleraine procured a situa- tion in his father's household, for the express pur- pose of holding her within sight and call, should anything be discovered of the accused. As those four years passed quietly by, it happened that I saw less of Coleraine than during any period since we had first become acquaintances and friends. I had been admitted a junior partner in our banking- house, and had become more and more anxiously en- grossed in business; while Coleraine himself had joined his father in his large and profitable mercan- tile pursuits, but had become a complete solitaire as far as society was concerned, shunning company, paying no visits, and receiving none. When that, period had elapsed, he suddenly pre- sented himself before me one autumn day, and begged chat I would accompany him in a continental tour of a month or six weeks. As it happened, I had been for some dvys contemplating seeking relaxation in some quarter or other, and so, without much diffi- culty or persuasion, I agreed to accompany him into Belgium and France. Before he left me, he said h. had no really personal wish to travel; that he did not want, did not care for, change of air or scene, 01 anything of that sort; but that he bad a special ob- ject in view, which object he would reveal to me if ] wouid betake myself to his chamber the following evening, and bring my meerschaum and my patience with me. Almost the first thing he did, after I had entered his apartment at the appointed hour, was to unlock a little cabinet, and, from one of its drawers, to pro- duce a memorable object, which I recognised with a painful start. It was the miniature. "When did you find it?" I asked, with strong curiosity. Only four days ago." "And where?"—how? Pray let me hear." You shall. Light your pipe, and sit down." I He handed me his tobacco-pouch, his own pipe being already lit, and we sat down over against each other at one corner of the table, the fatal miniature betwixt us. "Four days ago," he began, "our ship, the Black Swan, with a cargo from Callao and Lima, was put into the docks, and I went on board to give instauc- tions. The captain, a very intelligent seaman, showed me the log-book, and gave me a long, and I suppose accurate, account of all the fortunes and misfortunesof the voyage. I am always interested in traveller's talk, weak enough, in fact, to believe nearly as they tell me, so I lit a cigar, sat down upon a barrel, and con- sented to drink the glass of grog he pressed upon me. I listened to him a long while, until he proposed to go ashore, tying uphis neckerchief afresh, and chang- ing his waistcoat and coat. As he was performing this operation, a piece of this chain caught my eye, and at a glance I saw that it was either a chain which had once been mine, or a fac-simile of it. What's that ?' I halloed so loudly that the fellow was startled. Where did you get that chain, and what is at the end of it?' More startled still, our captain blushed, and looked at me with amazement. Jet: me see it, I beg let me see it this instant!' For you may guess how excited I became, Ned, after all that has happened. Why,' said he, with a hesi- tating manner and a bashful smile that irritated me considerably, I can assure you it's nothing in the world but a bit of a likeness.' A bit of a likeness! Ah let me see it.' Oh, to be sure, if you wish so.' He passed the chain over his head, drew the object it was attached to from his breast, and lo! my long- lost miniature was before my eyes. Come, you must not go ashore yet!' said 1. Sit down here, and tell me how you came by this -tell me everything about about it. By this time the poor fellow was perfectly astounded at my eagerness and excitement: and seemed also to be a little bit offended. I didn't steal it, at any rate!' said he. 'No, no; who dreamed of such a thing !'J and then, as I knew my man, that he was intelligent, sympathetic, and honest, I recounted to him in a few words the whole history of 'the bit of a likeness,' and of my ac- quaintance with the original of it, in order that he might comprehend matters, and see the necessity of affording me all the information lie could. When he was sufficiently brought round, he told me his story-such as it was. Four years ago, he said, he was in England for a month or two betwixt his homeward and outward voyages, and roamed to B which was some twelve miles from his port of debarkation. There he went to the theatre, and being greatly charmed by the beautiful acting of a young lady named Houghton, he repeated the visit several times. She was the very lady I had been speaking of, of course. He saw her, and admired her more than ever, on the very last night on which she per- formed. Then immediately followed the dreadful affair of her death, and it had made such an im- pression on him, that he had never been able to banish the image of her from his mind. Well, this being the case, what was his surprise when some twelve months after-on the other side of the world, at Callao-he perceived, in a jeweller's shop, a minia- ture bearing an exact resemblance to the ill-fated lady The man was chained to the spot by surprise and emotion he assured me, and could not take him- self away until he had made a proposal to the jeweller for the purchase of the article, and some inquiries as to how he became possessed of it. The jeweller stated thathe had just returned from Europe, whither he had been to select an assortment of watches, trinkets, and jewellery, from various places on the Continent; and the miniature had been in- cluded in a lot purchased from a tradesman at Brussels, a man named Politton a fact, as our friend saw by the invoice that was shown him in the course of the chaffering that ensued as to what price it would be fair for him to pay for it; forthoughnot impelled by any considerations as to circumstantial evidence. he was very eager to become the possessor of it-on purely reminiscent and sentimental reasons of his own. Well to come to the end of the story, I proved to him that he was bound to let me have the trinket, for the sake of justice—and a tolerably handsome sum in hard cash. He was very unwilling for a long time, but finally I got the better of him and now, the next thing to be done is to go over to Brussels, search out this Politton, and find out in what manner he obtained it." » If In a few days we found ourselves in the boutique of M. Politton at Brussels, a Jew dealer in an enormous variety of articles, from diamonds of the finestwater, to such unconsidered trifles as meerschaum pipes and silk pocket-handkerchiefs. Somehow or other we found it very difficult to obtain any information from him. Doubtless he had deemed it politic to cultivate a habit of reserve as to the manner in which any- thing came into his possession. But at length Cole- raine's eagerness and persistence, and the munificence with which he made purchases, vanquished him and then we learned that the miniature had been sold to him by an Englishman who had come to Brussels as a teacher of the English language, but who was in very poor circumstances at the time. He did not know his name, nor had he seen him since, but he referred us to a Professor Wienkel, in whose academy the individual had been engaged as English teacher, From M. Politton's we repaired straightway to Professor Wienkel-a German by birth, but a Belgian by naturalisation. The Professor did not seem well pleased to be re- minded of his former assistant (Mr. Crawford, he supposed we were alluding to); looking at us suspici- ously and sternly, and asking us if we were his friends. Crawford ?" it was the first time we had heard that name; and consequently there was an interchange of personal descriptions, which, how- ever, speedily established,^ t,o a tolerable degree of assurance, the identity of Crawford with Craven, or Houghton. We were both eager to disclaim any degree of friendship for the object of our in- quiries; but assured the Professor significajjtjy that we had very powerful reasons for desiring to discover him. The Professor then told us, with wrathful in- dignation, all he knew about Crawford. The man had come to him offering his services as English teacher, and pleading the position of cruel necessity to which he, a gentleman of education and attain- ments, had been reduced, entreated employment, if only for a short time. His manner was very plausible and insinuating— such as the manner of the vilest scounrels most fre- quently is," continued the Professor, with a crescendo j of wrath; "and I conselted to try him. He entered i upon his duties in the academy, and certainly seemed to be an accomplished master of his language his elocution was particularly good-had quite a pro- fessional air—so much so that I should imagine him to have been an actor at one time. Yes? Ah! I thought so. He went on well enough for a few weeks, but soon began to exhibit certain intolerable peculiarities. He had, fits of excitement fits of despondence, fits of laughing, fits of crying; nightmare fits, sleep-walking fits; and I don't know what: keeping the whole establishment on the rack day and night. In fact, had I not discovered him to be a villain, I should have charitably supposed that his misfortunes had driven him mad. But he was A scoundrel, a thief, a swindler, gentleman-no mad- man. Iwasjustthinking of the best means ofgtting rid of him, in consequence of his unendurable infirmi- ties, when the fellow saved me the trouble by taking French leave in the middle of the night; and after that I speedily discovered that he had been most in- dustriously improving his time—swindling some dozen tradespeople in the city—obtaining goods and money in my name 1 ghat's the gentleman jou are inquiring for, sirs I If I only had the time and the means,:I would go.apretty)ong distance, and through any amount of trouble, sirs, to see the lellow punished!" "And since," interposed Coleraine, h,-Lt,e you discovered-have you heard nothing of him since?" "Nothing! I only wish I had." And have you no clue'whatever to the direction he took ?" "None! He completely baffled our police." Have you any reason to imagine that he returr ed to England ?" "Well, I am disposed to think he remained on the Continent. At all events, some months after his departure, I received a most wild and insolent, letter from him, written, it would seem, sirs, for the mere pleasure of abusing and irritating me; but he was careful enough not to supply any date or address." "But the post-mark It had the Paris post-mark but nothing was to be gained by that! he might have sent it there from any other place." Such was the information we could gain from Pro- fessor Wienkel. It would take too much time and space to record all the endeavours Coleraine made to find some further due before we left Brussels. Suffice it to state that, in a few days, we proceeded to Paris. There Coleraine immediately put himself in com- munication with the police but though those accom- plished espioneurs knew every English resident, and especially every teacher of English, in Paris, the minutest description failed to recall to their memo- ries either the name or person of Craven, Houghton, or Crawford. They, however, on being given to understand that the person in question was a fugitive from justice, indicated to us three or four especial places where such undesirable residents had been frequently known to take refuge. Assuming various disguises, but generally the blouse and,cap of the ote?,,i-icr, we made various perilous pilgrimages to these places, passing through many wild and hideous scenes and experiences, which I shall never be able to forget. All were in vain, but the excursion that we had determined should be the last. Between four and five o'clock, the early dawn of a Parisian autumn morning found us issuing from a large, but wretched house in a very narrow street in the neighbourhood of the Barriere du Trone, where we had stationed ourselves through the whole of the night, watching the skulking or blustering comers and goers. Despairing of our object, we little dreamed how near we had been to it all the time. At the door of the house next but one to that in which we had stationed ourselves, a number of men and women, of dandyish but wretched and dissipated appearance, were lounging, notwithstanding the unseasonable hour. They were laughing, jeering, and passing re- marks one to the other, seeming to be commenting, as far as we could gather, upon some performance that was going on within. We were hardly past them, when the loud tones of a high-pitched voice saluted our ears, causing us both to stop short, and Coleraine to tremble violently. "Give me another horse! Bind up my wounds Have mercy, Jesu!" Without exchanging a word, we turned back, made our way through the group, entered the house, and proceeded to a room, sufficiently indicated for our guidance, in which the performance was going on. As soon as we could see or breathe in the vile atmosphere, we made out that we were in the presence of as unprepossessing and dangerous an audience as one could possibly find collected in the "sinks and stews of a large capital; and that on a small stage at the end of the apartment an excited individual was giving specimens of the Shaksperian drama, for the amusement of his Gallic company. The actor was Houghton! But how changed! What wonder our descriptions failed It seemed as if in the four years that had passed since we had seen him, he had lived forty of vice and misery. His face was wrinkled, his hair grey, his step uncertain, bis glance like that of one on the verge of lunacy and as he went round with a pewter salver to collect the contributions of the company, his hand trembled so violently, that the coins rattled aloud. We had seen enough. From that fearful haunt, we proceeded direct ta the bureau of the Prefect of Police. Within two hours Houghton was arrested, and placed in custody, to await the result of a communication with the police authorities of London. Before a week was over, two detectives arrived from one of the London police courts, and the prisoner was conveyed to England; ourselves accompanying the officers. As it happened, the Gloucester Assizes were just about to commence, and the venue of the indictment necessitated the trial of the case thereat; so that, after a preliminary committal by the magistrates, the trial followed almost immediately, and amidst such a degree of public excitement as only the most remark- able cases can arouse. But it was fated that the justice of this world should be defeated. It appeared that the wretched prisoner had, during his expatriation, resorted to stimulants with desperate extravagance. For some days previous to his arrest, he had lived almost on brandy alone. Delirium tremens ensued. In the midst of the trial, a, violent and appalling fit seized him and while screaming his denunciations of Coleraine, as the murderer both of his wife and himself, he fell to the ground in a swoon, which was only terminated by his death, some few hours after. i Such is the strange story of my friend's Minature. re. [THE END.]

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