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“You are right," interrupted Richard. “ Tarry here those six hours for my return."
" " Where would you go?”—“To the porch of St. Nicholas' church." «“What to do?”—“Keep my word.” «“When was it given ?”—“Fifty years ago—exactly fifty years ago." ""Must you go alone ?"_“ Yes."
will remain here another half hour, and I will not oppose your going.” «“Will not ?—you cannot. An angel could not pluck me from per
This you will see. You have already seen that you have no power over my life. I placed it in your hands ; besought you to rid me of it; tempted you with wealth ; entreated you with tears; implored you
agony ; and all your efforts failed.” ““ Yes," said my father ; “ I do acknowledge that none of the means I tried succeeded; but I have not exhausted my art—I did not wish to do so ; I clung to the hope that it might not be necessary, and I reserved for the last moment—if the necessity could no longer be doubted—a potion of such deadly quality, that a single drop is sufficient to destroy life.”
€“ Man!” exclaimed Richard, clutching my father fiercely by the arm, and looking at him with a countenance violently agitated, “ do not trifle with me now! I am past that. If you speak truth, I'll kneel and worship you. If false, may that hell which is gaping for me be your portion also. Have you this potion about you ?” 66 I have."
“Give it me!-give it me, I say !” and he grasped my father's throat with both his hands. “ Minutes are precious with me now.”
«“ It requires a little preparation,” said my father, evincing no alarm at Richard's violent manner. “ Sit down. Compose yourself. I will get it ready."
'In less than half a minute my father returned with a small phial in his hand, containing a transparent yellow fluid.
"“ I tremble to think what I am about,” said he. " Wait in this room until you hear St. Nicholas' clock strike twelve, and the evil spell that is upon you will be destroyed."
you think I would not do so if I could ?” he asked, in a tone of such utter misery and despair, that it went to my father's heart.
1 Have pity on me !" he continued, stretching out his hands for the phial, and bursting into tears.
"“ But twenty seconds more,” said my father, “and I yield.'
* As he uttered these words, with his eyes still upon the timepiece, he slowly drew the cork from the phial, which Richard, by a sudden spring, snatched from his hands, and draining its contents, broke out into a wild screaming laugh, as he flung the empty bottle from him.
6“ Rash man!” exclaimed my father, “what is it you have done ?”
""Traitor !" cried Richard, “ what is it you have done ? Betrayed me to the fiend! There he stands! There! With that devilish mock upon his countenance which he wore fifty years ago, when he clasped my hand, and by this token made me his. There goes the hour, too! Hark! St. Nicholas's strikes! How the deep booming of that bell crushes my brain ! One ! two! three !-I am on fire !-four ! five ! six !
--my sinews, arteries, veins, are all shrivelling up within me !-seven ! eight ! nine !—a sea of blood is heaving and swelling at my feet!-ten! eleven! TWELVE !—and now! now !-0 God !-O God! my bones are being ground-ground-ground-ground to very dust!"
• He fell into strong convulsions, uttered one terrific shriek, and expired !
A most extraordinary story, certainly,' said Mr. Carliel, and how to explain it I know not. I think you said,' he continued, addressing the Major, that the only knowledge your father possessed of Richard's supposed dealings with the Evil One he derived from himself??
'Entirely,' replied the Major.
Ay,' said Mr. Carliel, with a nod of self-satisfaction, there's the key to the whole mystery.
The poor man was crazed—that's clear; and your father formed a right judgment of the case from the first.'
‘Not quite so clear,' answered the Major, even to my father ; for, though he would never confess in so many words that it was not a case of mental delusion, there were two or three circumstances which he was utterly unable to account for upon that hypothesis.'
What were they ? inquired Mr. Carliel. • Why, believing until the very last that Richard's mind was diseased, he thought if he could any way get him over his hour of imaginary danger, all might be well. So, what did he do? In the first place, the phial contained nothing but coloured water; in the second, he spoke to the sexton, and had the bell of St. Nicholas', which tolled the hour, muffled, so that it could not be heard even in the churchyard ; and in the third, he put back the hand of the old timepiece a quarter of an hour. But what followed? Precisely at twelve o'clock, when the timepiece was pointing to a quarter to twelve, and when no human being could hear the church clock, he became violently agitated, began to count the hours, and raved-if raving it was—in the way you have heard. His whole frame was fearfully convulsed; his eyes seemed bursting from their sockets; his face grew livid; his writhings and contortions were those of a man suffering intense bodily pain ; and when the last hour struck he fell back on the sofa so doubled up that it was impossible afterwards to straighten his limbs.'
* Lord! how shocking! exclaimed Mary Falconer, and then, after a pause, turning to her aunt, she said, 'I suppose we must wait till evening now for your story of “ THE BLACK RIBAND ?"
“Yes, child,' replied Mrs. Dagleish, “I think my cousin Grooby's two stories are quite enough for this morning. Upon which, the little circle broke up, and each betook him or herself to whatever promised best for amusing the time till dinner.
BY ALBANY POYNTZ.
• The first Link in the scale of Creation.'-Occasional Sermon.
We are told that there is but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous. It may be observed, with equal truth, that between the mobs of the great world and the swell mob there is only a LINK! A Linkman is, bona fide, the beggar defined by Hamlet, as 'galling the courtier's kibe;'—a moral parody on the lady's page of the days of chivalry ;-in spite of his rags, the only favoured mortal permitted to approach so near the Lady Dulcibella as she steps into her carriage after a ball, that his begrimed face and tattered garments are fanned by the fragrant breath and oriental perfumes of the court-beauty!
Like the heralds of old, the Linkman is a privileged person ;-nay, he enjoys higher privileges than even the herald, whose office consisted in bearing the words of others, while the Linkman is allowed to give utterance to sentiments wholly his own. A court-jester or my Lord Mayor's fool is scarcely more sanctioned in the freedom of speech which tramples on all distinctions of rank and station, than the professional Link.
The Linkman may, in fact, be considered the public orator of the kennel. His knowledge of the men and manners that be, amounts almost to omniscience; and, saving my Lord Brougham, there scarcely exists a man, either in private or official life, who excels him in the manly frankness of telling people personal truths to their faces.- Not a dandy of Crockford's, -not a dowager of Grosvenor Square,—whose name is not familiar in the mouth of the Linkman as household words;—so much so, that he uses them as cavalierly as his goods and chattels, by superadding cognomens more appropriate than acceptable to the owners. Posterity might obtain considerable insight into the characters of many whom the Herald's Office styles “illustrious,' and history is preparing to call 'great,' were it to employ reporters to stenograph, during a single evening, the ex-official debates among
the henchmen of the Hambeau at the door of the House of Commons, the Opera, and Almacks.— The Linkmen of the day, or night, would throw considerable light upon the subject.
Unlike other popular representatives, the Linkman sees with unbiassed eyes, and declaims with unblushing enunciation. The Linkman is never inaudible in the gallery. He is not only initiated into the secrets of the prison-house, per privilege of place, as auditor of the few last words drawled between the Premier and the Home Secretary, as they separate at the door of their parliamentary den ; or the few last whispers interchanged between the young Duchess and the idol of her soul, as he hands her into her chariot, after a third waltz at some fête in Berkeley Square ; but he has not the slightest motive for rounding their periods or qualifying their expressions, after the fashion of the chartered fabricators of parliamentary eloquence or fashionable intelligence.
The Linkman nothing extenuates, and sets down naught in malice. • The old chap told the Markis that, for all his palaver, the Irish question
was all my eye!'-is his literal interpretation of a ministerial colloquy ;and “The Capp'n swore to my lady as 'ow her eyes had pitched it into 'im strong,'— is his equally faithful transcript of a declaration of love, couched in all the flowery generalities of Lalla Rookh or the Life Guards. -The Linkman is consequently an accusing angel, who inscribes in his black books all the aristocratic indiscretions of the season.
What a singular destiny! A very slight stretch of imagination might transform the ragged caitiff stationed with his link at the gates of some lordly palace, into a Spirit stationed with his flaming sword at the gates of Paradise! Celestial odours exhale upon him from those open portals. The music of a heavenly choir resounds in faint echoes from the distance. Emanations of ambrosial food deride his lips. He hears the flageolet of Collinet, -he savours the garnished chickens of Gunter,—he beholds the tripsome feet of Lady Wilhelmine or Lady Clementina Ait by him ;-and lo! he returns to the gnawing of his mutton bone and the twanging of his Jew's harp,—mocked by a Barmecide's feast of the imagination.
So far, however, from complaining of his destinies, he feels that it is something to have enjoyed even this bare imagination of a feast ;'--something to have fed on the crumbs falling from the table of beauty - something to have been sanctified by a touch from the hem of the garments of those superhuman creatures. His brethren of the puddle are divided by a vast abyss from such angelic company. It is only the filthy torch he carries in his hand that entitles him to accost the shrinking beauty with, " Take your time, my lady !-please to take your time!-Only your ladyship’s poor linkman! Rainy night, my lady; may I ask the servant for sixpence ??—so disposing his link during his apostrophe, that he is enabled to decide whether my lady's silken hose are laced or plain ; and whether her ladyship’s white slippers be of silk or satin!—Not one of her adorers have approached her more familiarly in the course of the evening, than her ladyship's poor linkman!'
It is astonishing the tact evinced by these fellows in ferreting out everything in the shape of an entertainment, from Pimlico to Whitechapel. Provided half-a-dozen carriages and hack cabs be gathered together, thither crowd the linkmen,-varying their oration from "Take your time, my lady,' to • Take your time, Mrs. Smith!' or 'Shall I call up your lordship's people ?'—to ‘Please to want a cab, sir??
At the more brilliant balls, they are as inevitable as the cornet à piston, or DM-! One knows them, like the cuckoo, by their most sweet voices,' rather than by their outward presentment, albeit revealed to view by the flaring of their links, as the ugliness of the imps of darkness in Don Juan, by the flashing of their torches. These winged voices' these
• Airy tongues that syllable men's names,'
connect themselves as intimately with the gaieties of Almacks’ as if the Linkman held his patent of office from the Patronesses' Bench. There is a peculiar hoarseness in their accents, as if the larynx, harassed by an eternal calling of carriages, had imbibed some mysterious distemper. They speak as through a speaking-trumpet; nay, sometimes, like Demosthenes, trying to outroar the surges of the chafing ocean!
Much discussion has arisen of late years concerning the origin of the slang phrases of the day. Nothing can exceed the universality of these axioms of street eloquence. But a commonplace cannot always have been a commonplace; and to originate a commonplace, is an effort of creative genius. The first man who said, 'Does your mother know you're out ?? uttered that which has been repeated by an enlightened population of at least a million of souls. If not witty himself, he has been the cause of wit in others, by inducing many an apt appropriation of a platitude. Some assert that these cant words and slang phrases have their origin in the police reports ; others, that they spring to light and life in the galleries of the minor theatres. It is my firm belief that they are the legitimate and indisputable offspring of the Linkmen of the West End! Ask the policemen,-inquire of the standard footmen, -and they will inform you that the first time they were ever pestered with interrogations concerning their mamma's mangle, or pianoforte, was by the Linkmen attending some fashionable assembly.
A few minutes attention to their notes explanatory and commentatorial upon the carriages, as they successively drive up to a door, would suffice to prove that their humour is worthy the illustration of Cruikshank or Leech. A few years ago, when the Church, if not in danger, was in disgrace with the street orators of the metropolis, it was a favourite jest with the Linkmen to go bawling round the Opera House, in the thick of the crush of carriages after the Opera, every Sunday morning, “ THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY's_carriage! "The BISHOP OF London's carriage stops the way!' "The BISHOP OF EXETER coming out !--thereby impressing the multitude with a firm conviction of the levity, if not demoralisation, of those eminent prelates. At the time of the Reform Bill, their vocabilities had a still more personal tendency; and to this day, all the biting truths inflicted upon the French ministers by the Charivari, are lavished vivâ voce on our English legislators, by the sarcasms of the linkboys.
In former times, before London was paved and lighted as becomes a civilized metropolis
, every footman was his owri linkman. The lackeys clustered behind a nobleman's carriage, or escorting a lady's sedan, carried each his torch, like pages on the stage in the old plays. Beside the entrance of many of the old-fashioned mansions in London may still be seen appended a huge iron funnel for extinguishing the flambeau or link.
But since the introduction of gas the Linkman's occupation's gone,' as regards the livery of London.--The flambeau is in desuetude; the link has retrograded to St. Giles's; nay, it now simply constitutes a badge to distinguish from the common herd the privileged callers-up of carriages. The noisy, officious, troublesome, roaring, boring rapscallions, who visit the pavement wherever a goodiy mansion is lighted up for the reception of company, would be severally consigned to the station-house and Penitentiary, as disturbers of the public peace, did they not bear in their hands an ensign of impunity. As the herald was protected by his wand,
-as the Chancellor by his mace, -as the Archbishop by his crosier,-as Majesty itself is dignified by its sceptre, the interjectional portion of the mobility who call the coaches of the nobility, are sanctified by their links; -thereby entitled to vex the dull ear of night with their
Linked sweetness long drawn out,