Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 Next page
chamber was opened now; for she loved to feel the rich summer air
stream in, and revive her with its freshness; but there always
stood in water, just inside the lattice, one particular little
bunch, which was made up with great care, every morning. Oliver
could not help noticing that the withered flowers were never
thrown away, although the little vase was regularly replenished;
nor, could he help observing, that whenever the doctor came into
the garden, he invariably cast his eyes up to that particular
corner, and nodded his head most expressively, as he set forth on
his morning's walk. Pending these observations, the days were
flying by; and Rose was rapidly recovering.
Nor did Oliver's time hang heavy on his hands, although the young
lady had not yet left her chamber, and there were no evening
walks, save now and then, for a short distance, with Mrs. Maylie.
He applied himself, with redoubled assiduity, to the instructions
of the white-headed old gentleman, and laboured so hard that his
quick progress surprised even himself. It was while he was
engaged in this pursuit, that he was greatly startled and
distressed by a most unexpected occurence.
The little room in which he was accustomed to sit, when busy at
his books, was on the ground-floor, at the back of the house. It
was quite a cottage-room, with a lattice-window: around which
were clusters of jessamine and honeysuckle, that crept over the
casement, and filled the place with their delicious perfume. It
looked into a garden, whence a wicket-gate opened into a small
paddock; all beyond, was fine meadow-land and wood. There was no
other dwelling near, in that direction; and the prospect it
commanded was very extensive.
One beautiful evening, when the first shades of twilight were
beginning to settle upon the earth, Oliver sat at this window,
intent upon his books. He had been poring over them for some
time; and, as the day had been uncommonly sultry, and he had
exerted himself a great deal, it it no disparagement to the
authors, whoever they may have been, to say, that gradually and
by slow degrees, he fell asleep.
There is a kind of sleep that steals upon us sometimes, which,
while it holds the body prisoner, does not free the mind from a
sense of things about it, and enable it to ramble at its
pleasure. So far as an overpowering heaviness, a prostration of
strength, and an utter inability to control our thoughts or power
of motion, can be called sleep, this is it; and yet, we have a
consciousness of all that is going on about us, and, if we dream
at such a time, words which are really spoken, or sounds which
really exist at the moment, accommodate themselves with
surprising readiness to our visions, until reality and
imagination become so strangely blended that it is afterwards
almost matter of impossibility to separate the two. Nor is this,
the most striking phenomenon indcidental to such a state. It is
an undoubted fact, that although our senses of touch and sight be
for the time dead, yet our sleeping thoughts, and the visionary
scenes that pass before us, will be influenced and materially
influenced, by the MERE SILENT PRESENCE of some external object;
which may not have been near us when we closed our eyes: and of
whose vicinity we have had no waking consciousness.
Oliver knew, perfectly well, that he was in his own little room;
that his books were lying on the table before him; that the sweet
air was stirring among the creeping plants outside. And yet he
was asleep. Suddenly, the scene changed; the air became close
and confined; and he thought, with a glow of terror, that he was
in the Jew's house again. There sat the hideous old man, in his
accustomed corner, pointing at him, and whispering to another
man, with his face averted, who sat beside him.
'Hush, my dear!' he thought he heard the Jew say; 'it is he, sure
enough. Come away.'
'He!' the other man seemed to answer; 'could I mistake him, think
you? If a crowd of ghosts were to put themselves into his exact
shape, and he stood amongst them, there is something that would
tell me how to point him out. If you buried him fifty feet deep,
and took me across his grave, I fancy I should know, if there
wasn't a mark above it, that he lay buried there?'
The man seemed to say this, with such dreadful hatred, that
Oliver awoke with the fear, and started up.
Good Heaven! what was that, which sent the blood tingling to his
heart, and deprived him of his voice, and of power to move!
There--there--at the window--close before him--so close, that he
could have almost touched him before he started back: with his
eyes peering into the room, and meeting his: there stood the
Jew! And beside him, white with rage or fear, or both, were the
scowling features of the man who had accosted him in the
It was but an instant, a glance, a flash, before his eyes; and
they were gone. But they had recognised him, and he them; and
their look was as firmly impressed upon his memory, as if it had
been deeply carved in stone, and set before him from his birth.
He stood transfixed for a moment; then, leaping from the window
into the garden, called loudly for help.
CONTAINING THE UNSATISFACTORY RESULT OF OLIVER'S ADVENTURE; AND A
CONVERSATION OF SOME IMPORTANCE BETWEEN HARRY MAYLIE AND ROSE
When the inmates of the house, attracted by Oliver's cries,
hurried to the spot from which they proceeded, they found him,
pale and agitated, pointing in the direction of the meadows
behind the house, and scarcely able to articulate the words, 'The
Jew! the Jew!'
Mr. Giles was at a loss to comprehend what this outcry meant; but
Harry Maylie, whose perceptions were something quicker, and who
had heard Oliver's history from his mother, understood it at
'What direction did he take?' he asked, catching up a heavy stick
which was standing in a corner.
'That,' replied Oliver, pointing out the course the man had
taken; 'I missed them in an instant.'
'Then, they are in the ditch!' said Harry. 'Follow! And keep as
near me, as you can.' So saying, he sprang over the hedge, and
darted off with a speed which rendered it matter of exceeding
difficulty for the others to keep near him.
Giles followed as well as he could; and Oliver followed too; and
in the course of a minute or two, Mr. Losberne, who had been out
walking, and just then returned, tumbled over the hedge after
them, and picking himself up with more agility than he could have
been supposed to possess, struck into the same course at no
contemptible speed, shouting all the while, most prodigiously, to
know what was the matter.
On they all went; nor stopped they once to breathe, until the
leader, striking off into an angle of the field indicated by
Oliver, began to search, narrowly, the ditch and hedge adjoining;
which afforded time for the remainder of the party to come up;
and for Oliver to communicate to Mr. Losberne the circumstances
that had led to so vigorous a pursuit.
The search was all in vain. There were not even the traces of
recent footsteps, to be seen. They stood now, on the summit of a
little hill, commanding the open fields in every direction for
three or four miles. There was the village in the hollow on the
left; but, in order to gain that, after pursuing the track Oliver
had pointed out, the men must have made a circuit of open ground,
which it was impossible they could have accomplished in so short
a time. A thick wood skirted the meadow-land in another
direction; but they could not have gained that covert for the
'It must have been a dream, Oliver,' said Harry Maylie.
'Oh no, indeed, sir,' replied Oliver, shuddering at the very
recollection of the old wretch's countenance; 'I saw him too
plainly for that. I saw them both, as plainly as I see you now.'
'Who was the other?' inquired Harry and Mr. Losberne, together.
'The very same man I told you of, who came so suddenly upon me at
the inn,' said Oliver. 'We had our eyes fixed full upon each
other; and I could swear to him.'
'They took this way?' demanded Harry: 'are you sure?'
'As I am that the men were at the window,' replied Oliver,
pointing down, as he spoke, to the hedge which divided the
cottage-garden from the meadow. 'The tall man leaped over, just
there; and the Jew, running a few paces to the right, crept
through that gap.'
The two gentlemen watched Oliver's earnest face, as he spoke, and
looking from him to each other, seemed to fell satisfied of the
accuracy of what he said. Still, in no direction were there any
appearances of the trampling of men in hurried flight. The grass
was long; but it was trodden down nowhere, save where their own
feet had crushed it. The sides and brinks of the ditches were of
damp clay; but in no one place could they discern the print of
men's shoes, or the slightest mark which would indicate that any
feet had pressed the ground for hours before.
'This is strange!' said Harry.
'Strange?' echoed the doctor. 'Blathers and Duff, themselves,
could make nothing of it.'
Notwithstanding the evidently useless nature of their search,
they did not desist until the coming on of night rendered its
further prosecution hopeless; and even then, they gave it up with
reluctance. Giles was dispatched to the different ale-houses in
the village, furnished with the best description Oliver could
give of the appearance and dress of the strangers. Of these, the
Jew was, at all events, sufficiently remarkable to be remembered,
supposing he had been seen drinking, or loitering about; but
Giles returned without any intelligence, calculated to dispel or
lessen the mystery.
On the next day, fresh search was made, and the inquiries
renewed; but with no better success. On the day following,
Oliver and Mr. Maylie repaired to the market-town, in the hope of