'I have no brother,' replied Monks. 'You know I was an onlychild. Why do you
talk to me of brothers? You know that, aswell as I.'
'Attend to what I do know, and you may not,' said Mr. Brownlow. 'I shall interest
you by and by. I know that of the wretchedmarriage, into which family pride, and
the most sordid andnarrowest of all ambition, forced your unhappy father when a
mereboy, you were the sole and most unnatural issue.'
'I don't care for hard names,' interrupted Monks with a jeeringlaugh. 'You know
the fact, and that's enough for me.'
'But I also know,' pursued the old gentleman, 'the misery, theslow torture, the
protracted anguish of that ill-assorted union. I know how listlessly and wearily
each of that wretched pairdragged on their heavy chain through a world that was
poisoned tothem both. I know how cold formalities were succeeded by opentaunts;
how indifference gave place to dislike, dislike to hate,and hate to loathing, until
at last they wrenched the clankingbond asunder, and retiring a wide space apart,
carried each agalling fragment, of which nothing but death could break therivets,
to hide it in new society beneath the gayest looks theycould assume. Your mother
succeeded; she forgot it soon. But itrusted and cankered at your father's heart
'Well, they were separated,' said Monks, 'and what of that?'
'When they had been separated for some time,' returned Mr.Brownlow, 'and your
mother, wholly given up to continentalfrivolities, had utterly forgotten the young
husband ten goodyears her junior, who, with prospects blighted, lingered on athome,
he fell among new friends. This circumstance, at least,you know already.'
'Not I,' said Monks, turning away his eyes and beating his footupon the ground,
as a man who is determined to deny everything. 'Not I.'
'Your manner, no less than your actions, assures me that you havenever forgotten
it, or ceased to think of it with bitterness,'returned Mr. Brownlow. 'I speak of
fifteen years ago, when youwere not more than eleven years old, and your father
butone-and-thirty--for he was, I repeat, a boy, when HIS fatherordered him to marry.
Must I go back to events which cast a shadeupon the memory of your parent, or will
you spare it, anddisclose to me the truth?'
'I have nothing to disclose,' rejoined Monks. 'You must talk onif you will.'
'These new friends, then,' said Mr. Brownlow, 'were a navalofficer retired from
active service, whose wife had died somehalf-a-year before, and left him with two
children--there hadbeen more, but, of all their family, happily but two survived.
They were both daughters; one a beautiful creature of nineteen,and the other a mere
child of two or three years old.'
'What's this to me?' asked Monks.
'They resided,' said Mr. Brownlow, without seeming to hear theinterruption, 'in
a part of the country to which your father inhis wandering had repaired, and where
he had taken up his abode. Acquaintance, intimacy, friendship, fast followed on
each other. Your father was gifted as few men are. He had his sister's souland person.
As the old officer knew him more and more, he grewto love him. I would that it had
ended there. His daughter didthe same.
The old gentleman paused; Monks was biting his lips, with hiseyes fixed upon
the floor; seeing this, he immediately resumed:
'The end of a year found him contracted, solemnly contracted, tothat daughter;
the object of the first, true, ardent, onlypassion of a guileless girl.'
'Your tale is of the longest,' observed Monks, moving restlesslyin his chair.
'It is a true tale of grief and trial, and sorrow, young man,'returned Mr. Brownlow,
'and such tales usually are; if it wereone of unmixed joy and happiness, it would
be very brief. Atlength one of those rich relations to strengthen whose interestand
importance your father had been sacrificed, as others areoften--it is no uncommon
case--died, and to repair the misery hehad been instrumental in occasioning, left
him his panacea forall griefs--Money. It was necessary that he should immediatelyrepair
to Rome, whither this man had sped for health, and wherehe had died, leaving his
affairs in great confusion. He went;was seized with mortal illness there; was followed,
the momentthe intelligence reached Paris, by your mother who carried youwith her;
he died the day after her arrival, leaving no will--NOWILL--so that the whole property
fell to her and you.'
At this part of the recital Monks held his breath, and listenedwith a face of
intense eagerness, though his eyes were notdirected towards the speaker. As Mr.
Brownlow paused, he changedhis position with the air of one who has experienced
a suddenrelief, and wiped his hot face and hands.
'Before he went abroad, and as he passed through London on hisway,' said Mr.
Brownlow, slowly, and fixing his eyes upon theother's face, 'he came to me.'
'I never heard of that,' interrupted MOnks in a tone intended toappear incredulous,
but savouring more of disagreeable surprise.
'He came to me, and left with me, among some other things, apicture--a portrait
painted by himself--a likeness of this poorgirl--which he did not wish to leave
behind, and could not carryforward on his hasty journey. He was worn by anxiety
and remorsealmost to a shadow; talked in a wild, distracted way, of ruin anddishonour
worked by himself; confided to me his intention toconvert his whole property, at
any loss, into money, and, havingsettled on his wife and you a portion of his recent
acquisition,to fly the country--I guessed too well he would not flyalone--and never
see it more. Even from me, his old and earlyfriend, whose strong attachment had
taken root in the earth thatcovered one most dear to both--even from me he withheld
any moreparticular confession, promising to write and tell me all, andafter that
to see me once again, for the last time on earth.Alas! THAT was the last time. I
had no letter, and I never sawhim more.'
'I went,' said Mr. Brownlow, after a short pause, 'I went, whenall was over,
to the scene of his--I will use the term the worldwould freely use, for worldly
harshness or favour are now aliketo him--of his guilty love, resolved that if my
fears wererealised that erring child should find one heart and home toshelter and
compassionate her. The family had left that part aweek before; they had called in
such trifling debts as wereoutstanding, discharged them, and left the place by night.
Why,or whithter, none can tell.'
Monks drew his breath yet more freely, and looked round with asmile of triumph.
'When your brother,' said Mr. Brownlow, drawing nearer to theother's chair, 'When
your brother: a feeble, ragged, neglectedchild: was cast in my way by a stronger
hand than chance, andrescued by me from a life of vice and infamy--'
'What?' cried Monks.
'By me,' said Mr. Brownlow. 'I told you I should interest youbefore long. I say
by me--I see that your cunning associatesuppressed my name, although for ought he
knew, it would be quitestrange to your ears. When he was rescued by me, then, and
layrecovering from sickness in my house, his strong resemblance tothis picture I
have spoken of, struck me with astonishment. Evenwhen I first saw him in all his
dirt and misery, there was alingering expression in his face that came upon me like
a glimpseof some old friend flashing on one in a vivid dream. I need nottell you
he was snared away before I knew his history--'
'Why not?' asked Monks hastily.
'Because you know it well.'
'Denial to me is vain,' replied Mr. Brownlow. 'I shall show youthat I know more
'You--you--can't prove anything against me,' stammered Monks. 'Idefy you to do
'We shall see,' returned the old gentleman with a searchingglance. 'I lost the
boy, and no efforts of mine could recoverhim. Your mother being dead, I knew that
you alone could solvethe mystery if anybody could, and as when I had last heard
of youyou were on your own estate in the West Indies--whither, as youwell know,
you retired upon your mother's death to escape theconsequences of vicious courses
here--I made the voyage. You hadleft it, months before, and were supposed to be
in London, but noone could tell where. I returned. Your agents had no clue toyour
residence. You came and went, they said, as strangely asyou had ever done: sometimes
for days together and sometimes notfor months: keeping to all appearance the same
low haunts andmingling with the same infamous herd who had been your associateswhen
a fierce ungovernable boy. I wearied them with newapplications. I paced the streets
by night and day, but untiltwo hours ago, all my efforts were fruitless, and I never
saw youfor an instant.'
'And now you do see me,' said Monks, rising boldly, 'what then? Fraud and robbery
are high-sounding words--justified, you think,by a fancied resemblance in some young
imp to an idle daub of adead man's Brother! You don't even know that a child was
born ofthis maudlin pair; you don't even know that.'
'I DID NOT,' replied Mr. Brownlow, rising too; 'but within thelast fortnight
I have learnt it all. You have a brother; youknow it, and him. There was a will,
which your mother destroyed,leaving the secret and the gain to you at her own death.
Itcontained a reference to some child likely to be the result ofthis sad connection,
which child was born, and accidentallyencountered by you, when your suspicions were
first awakened byhis resemblance to your father. You repaired to the place of hisbirth.
There existed proofs--proofs long suppressed--of his birthand parentage. Those proofs
were destroyed by you, and now, inyour own words to your accomplice the Jew, "THE
ONLY PROOFS OFTHE BOY'S IDENTITY LIE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RIVER, AND THE OLDHAG
THAT RECEIVED THEM FORM THE MOTHER IS ROTTING IN HER COFFIN."
Unworthy son, coward, liar,--you, who hold your councils withthieves and murderers
in dark rooms at night,--you, whose plotsand wiles have brought a violent death
upon the head of one worthmillions such as you,--you, who from your cradle were
gall andbitterness to your own father's heart, and in whom all evilpassions, vice,
and profligacy, festered, till they found a ventin a hideous disease which had made
your face an index even toyour mind--you, Edward Leeford, do you still brave me!'
'No, no, no!' returned the coward, overwhelmed by theseaccumulated charges.
'Every word!' cried the gentleman, 'every word that has passedbetween you and
this detested villain, is known to me. Shadowson the wall have caught your whispers,
and brought them to myear; the sight of the persecuted child has turned vice itself,and
given it the courage and almost the attributes of virtue. Murder has been done,
to which you were morally if not really aparty.'
'No, no,' interposed Monks. 'I--I knew nothing of that; I wasgoing to inquire
the truth of the story when you overtook me. Ididn't know the cause. I thought it
was a common quarrel.'
'It was the partial disclosure of your secrets,' replied Mr.Brownlow. 'Will you
disclose the whole?'
'Yes, I will.'
'Set your hand to a statement of truth and facts, and repeat itbefore witnesses?'
'That I promise too.'
'Remain quietly here, until such a document is drawn up, andproceed with me to
such a place as I may deem most advisable, forthe purpose of attesting it?'
'If you insist upon that, I'll do that also,' replied Monks.
'You must do more than that,' said Mr. Brownlow. 'Makerestitution to an innocent
and unoffending child, for such he is,although the offspring of a guilty and most
miserable love. Youhave not forgotten the provisions of the will. Carry them intoexecution
so far as your brother is concerned, and then go whereyou please. In this world
you need meet no more.'
While Monks was pacing up and down, meditating with dark and evillooks on this
proposal and the possibilities of evading it: tornby his fears on the one hand and
his hatred on the other: thedoor was hurriedly unlocked, and a gentleman (Mr. Losberne)entered
the room in violent agitation.
'The man will be taken,' he cried. 'He will be taken to-night!'
'The murderer?' asked Mr. Brownlow.
'Yes, yes,' replied the other. 'His dog has been seen lurkingabout some old haunt,
and there seems little doubt hat his mastereither is, or will be, there, under cover
of the darkness. Spiesare hovering about in every direction. I have spoken to the
menwho are charged with his capture, and they tell me he cannotescape. A reward
of a hundred pounds is proclaimed by Governmentto-night.'
'I will give fifty more,' said Mr. Brownlow, 'and proclaim itwith my own lips
upon the spot, if I can reach it. Where is Mr.Maylie?'
'Harry? As soon as he had seen your friend here, safe in a coachwith you, he
hurried off to where he heard this,' replied thedoctor, 'and mounting his horse
sallied forth to join the firstparty at some place in the outskirts agreed upon
'Fagin,' said Mr. Brownlow; 'what of him?'
'When I last heard, he had not been taken, but he will be, or is,by this time.
They're sure of him.'
'Have you made up your mind?' asked Mr. Brownlow, in a low voice,of Monks.
'Yes,' he replied. 'You--you--will be secret with me?'
'I will. Remain here till I return. It is your only hope ofsafety.
They left the room, and the door was again locked.
'What have you done?' asked the doctor in a whisper.
'All that I could hope to do, and even more. Coupling the poorgirl's intelligence
with my previous knowledge, and the result ofour good friend's inquiries on the
spot, I left him no loopholeof escape, and laid bare the whole villainy which by
these lightsbecame plain as day. Write and appoint the evening afterto-morrow, at
seven, for the meeting. We shall be down there, afew hours before, but shall require
rest: especially the younglady, who MAY have greater need of firmness than either
you or Ican quite foresee just now. But my blood boils to avenge thispoor murdered
creature. Which way have they taken?'