3. True Father Of Tamar
In the meantime the old man had drawn a huge bunch of keys from his pocket, and had deliberately opened the trunk before mentioned, at the top of which were sundry yellow canvass bags of specie; he next fitted a pair of spectacles on his nose, and then raising the cover of the table, he drew out a drawer containing a pair of scales, and began to weigh his guineas, as if to make a show of that of which he had none,--honesty; and the Laird having spent his indignation, was become quiet, and stood looking on, in a somewhat indolent and slouching attitude, making no question but that his honourable reasonings had prevailed, and that Mr. Salmon was about, without further hesitation, to pay him the five hundred and ninety-four pounds, ten shillings, and sixpence, which were his just due.
Whilst Salmon went on with this process of weighing, which he did with perfect sang-froid
, he began to mutter, "Five hundred and ninety-four pounds, ten shillings, and six-pence; too much, too much by half, for worm-eaten bed-steads and chairs, darned curtains and faded portraits; but Mr. Dymock, to show you that I am a man of honour, I will pay you at this moment four hundred pounds in the King's gold, and the remainder, that is, the one hundred and ninety-four pounds, ten shillings, and six-pence, shall be put to arbitration; we will go over each item, you and I, and a friend of each, and we will examine every article together, and if it is decided that the things are worth the moneys, well and good, it shall be so, and I will forthwith pay down the residue, though not compelled so to do by bond or signature."
Again the hot blood of the Dymocks rose to the brow of the Laird; by an amazing effort of prudence and presence of mind, however, he caught up Salmon's note from the table, a motion which made the old man start, look up, and turn yellow, and then whisking round on his heel, with an expression of sovereign contempt, the Laird turned out of the room, exclaiming, "I scorn to address another word to thee, old deceiver; I shake the dust of thy floor from my foot; I shall send those to talk with thee, whose business it is to deal with deceivers;" and thus he quitted the chamber, drawing the door after him with a force which made every chamber in the Tower reverberate.
In descending the spiral stairs, he came to a narrow window, which overlooked the moat, and from thence he saw Tamar lingering on the other side thereof. He stood a moment and she called to him; her words were these,--"Have you sped?" in reply to which, protruding his head through the narrow aperture, he said: "No! the man's a low and despicable deceiver," adding other terms which were by no means measured by the rules of prudence or even courtesy; these words were not, however, lost on Tamar, and by what she then heard, she was induced to take a measure which had she deliberated longer thereon, she might not have ventured upon.
Dymock having spent his breath and his indignation through the window, to the disturbance of sundry bats and daws, which resided in the roof of the Tower, was become so calm that he made the rest of his descent in his usually tranquil and sluggish style, and even before he had crossed the court towards the draw-bridge, he had made up his mind to get Shanty to settle this knotty business, feeling that the old blacksmith would have been the proper person to have done it from the first.
Jacob, the ugly, ill-conditioned serving-man, was waiting to turn the light bridge, and had Dymock looked upon him, he would have seen that there was triumph on the features of this deformed animal, for Jacob was in all his master's secrets; he knew that he meant to cheat the Laird, and he being Salmon's foster brother, already counted upon his master's riches as his own. Salmon's constitution was failing rapidly, and Jacob, therefore, soon hoped to gather in his golden harvest.
Jacob too, hated every creature about him, and his hatred being inherited from his parents, was likely to be coeval with his life. The cause of this hatred will be seen in the sequel; but Jacob had no sooner turned the bridge and fixed it against the opposite bank, than Tamar springing from behind a cluster of bushes, jumped lightly on the boards, and the next moment she was with Dymock and Jacob on the inner side of the moat, under the tower.
Jacob had started back, as if he had seen a spectre, at the appearance of the blooming, sparkling Tamar, who came forward without hat or other head dress, her raven tresses floating in the breeze.
"Why are you here, my daughter?" said Dymock.
"Do not restrain me, dear father," she answered, "you have not sped you say, only permit me to try my skill;" and then turning suddenly to Jacob, she drew herself up, as Dymock would have said, like a daughter of kings, and added, "show me to your master, I have business with him; go and tell him that I am here, and that I would see him."
"And who are you?" asked Jacob, not insolently as was his wont, but as if under the impression of some kind of awe; "who shall I say you are?"
Dymock was about to answer; but Tamar placed her hand playfully on his lips, and took no other notice of the question of the serving man, but by repeating her command.
"What are you doing,--what do you propose to do, Tamar?" said the Laird. Tamar was fully aware that she had power to cause her patron at any time, to yield to her caprices; and she now used this power, as women know so well how to effect these things--not by reason--or persuasion, but by those playful manoeuvrings, which used in an evil cause have wrought the ruin of many a more steadfast character than Dymock.
"I have a thought dear father," she said, "a wish, a fancy, a mere whim, and you shall not oppose me: only remain where you are; keep guard upon the bridge, I shall not be absent long, only tell me how it has happened that your errand here has failed, and you," she added, addressing Jacob, "go to your master and tell him I am here."
"Why do you stand?" she added, stamping her little foot with impatience; "why do you not obey me?" and her dark eyes flashed and sparkled, "go and tell your master that I wish to see him."
"And who must I tell him that you are?" he asked.
"My name has been mentioned in your presence," she replied, "and if you did not hear it the fault is your own; it will not be told again."
"Are you the daughter of this gentleman?" asked Jacob.
"You have heard what he called me," she answered, "go and deliver my message."
Whilst Jacob was gone, for go he did, at the young girl's bidding, Dymock told Tamar all that had taken place in Mr. Salmon's room, and Tamar confessed her wish to be permitted to speak to the old gentleman herself. Dymock was glad that any one should undertake this business, provided he could be relieved from it, and he promised Tamar that he would stand by the bridge and watch for her till her return.
"Then I will myself go up to the Tower and demand admission:" so saying, she ran from Dymock, coursed rapidly through the various courts, and swift as the wind ascended the stairs, meeting no one in her way. She found the door of Salmon's chamber ajar, and pushing it open, she entered, and stood before Salmon, Jacob, and Rebecca (the old woman before mentioned as having come with Mr. Salmon to the Tower;) these three were all deep in consultation, Mr. Salmon being still seated where the Laird had left him.
As Tamar burst upon them in all the light of youth; of beauty, and of conscious rectitude in the cause for which she came, the three remained fixed as statues, Jacob and Rebecca in shrinking attitudes, their eyes set fearfully upon her, their faces gathering paleness as they gazed; whilst Salmon flushed to the brow, his eyes distended and his mouth half open.
The young girl advanced near to the centre of the room and casting a glance around her, in which might be read an expression of contempt quite free from fear, she said, "I am come by authority to receive the just dues of the late possessor of this place, and I require the sum to be told into my hand, and this I require in the name of Him who rules on high, and who will assuredly take cognizance of any act of fraud used towards a good and honourable man."
"And who? and who?" said Salmon, his teeth actually chattering "who are you? and whence come you?"
"I come from the Laird of Dymock," she answered, "and in his name I demand his rights!"
"You, you," said Salmon, "you are his daughter?"
"That remains to be told," replied Tamar, "what or who I am, is nothing to you, nor to you, nor you," she added, looking at Jacob and Rebecca, her eye being arrested for a minute on each, by the singular expression which passed over their countenances. "Give me the Laird's dues and you shall hear no more from me," she said, "never again will I come to trouble your dulness; but, if you deny it to me, you shall never rest from me;--no, no, I will haunt you day and night," and getting hotter as she continued to speak, "you shall have no rest from me, neither moat nor stone walls shall keep me out." She was thinking at that moment of the secret passage by which she fancied she might get into the Tower, if at this time she did not succeed; it was a wild and girlish scheme, and whether practicable or not, she had no time to think. As she uttered these last words, Salmon rose slowly from his seat, pushed his chair from behind him and stepped back, a livid paleness covering his features whilst he exclaimed: "Are you in life? or are you a terrible vision of my fancy? Jacob,--Rebecca,--do you see it too--Ah! you look pale, as those who see the dead--is it not so?"
The terror now expressed in the three countenances, was rapidly extending to the heart of Tamar. What can all this mean, she thought, what is there about me that thus appals them: it is their own guilt that renders them fearful; but why should I fear? now is the moment for strength of heart, and may heaven grant it to me. Having strength given her; she again demanded the just due of her guardian.
"It would be better to give it," muttered Jacob; and Rebecca at the same time screached out, "In the name of our father Abraham, give her what she asks, master,--and let her go,--let her go to her father,--to him that has reared her, and yet disowns her,--let her go to him; or like the daughters of Moab she will bring a curse on our house."
"Hold your tongue, you old fool," said Jacob, "what do you know of her, and of him who was once Laird of Dymock? But, master," he added "pay the girl what she asks, and I will go down and get back your note, and once for all we will shut our doors upon these people."
"But I would know," said Salmon, "I would know whence that girl has those eyes, which are bright as the bride of Solomon,--as Rachel's," he added, "they are such as hers."
"Go to," said Jacob, "what folly is this, tell the money to the girl, and let her go."
"Jacob! Jacob!" exclaimed Salmon, "I am ruined, undone, I shall come to beggary,--five hundred and ninty-four pounds, ten shillings and sixpence," and the teeth of the old man began to chatter, terror and dotage and cunning, seeming to be striving within him for the mastery and altogether depriving him of the power of acting.
Jacob muttered one or two indistinct imprecations, then approaching the table himself, he told the gold from the bags with the facility of a money-changer, whilst Tamar stood calmly watching him; but the serving man finding the weight too great for her, he exchanged much of the gold, for Bank of England notes, which he took out of the same trunk, and then delivering the sum into Tamar's hands; "There young woman, go," he said, "and never again disturb my master with your presence."
Whilst this was going on, Salmon had kept his eyes fixed on Tamar, and once or twice had gasped as if for breath; at length he said, "And you are Dymock's daughter, damsel, but you are not like your father's people,--are they not Nazarenes; tell me what was she who bore you?"
"Beshrew you," exclaimed Jacob, "what is all this to you," and roughly seizing Tamar by the arm, he drew her out of the room, saying, "you have all you want, go down to your father, and let us see you no more."
The young girl almost doubted as she descended the stairs, but that still she was over-reached, and if so, that Dymock would not perhaps find it out till it might be too late; she therefore, hearing Jacob behind her, ran with all her might, and coming to the place where Dymock stood, she called to him to follow her, and ran directly to Shanty's shed; Dymock proceeded after her a few yards behind, and Jacob still farther in the rear, crying "Laird, stop! stop! Mr. Dymock! give us your release, here is a paper for you to sign."
Fortunately, Tamar found Shanty alone in his shed, and taking him into his inner room, she caused him to count and examine the money and thus was he occupied when Dymock and Jacob came in. Tamar went back to the outer room of the shed; but Shanty remained within, and when he found that all was right, Mr. Dymock gave his release. Jacob returned to the Tower, and old Shanty trotted off to Hexham, to put the money in a place of security; nor did he fail in his object, so that before he slept, the Laird had the satisfaction to think that this dirty work was all completed, and that without his having in the least soiled his own hands in the process. As to the mystery of Tamar's having been enabled to effect what he could not do, he soon settled that matter in his own mind, for, thought he, "if I the Laird of Dymock could never refuse a favour asked me by this maid of Judah, how could inferior minds be expected to withstand her influence?"--the poor Laird not considering that the very inferiority and coarseness of such minds as he attributed to Salmon and Jacob, would have prevented them from feeling that influence, which he had found so powerful. But they had felt something, which certainly belonged to Tamar, and had yielded to that something; nor could Tamar herself, when she reflected upon that scene in the Tower, at all comprehend how she had excited such emotions as she witnessed there; neither could Shanty, nor Mrs. Margaret help her out. Again for another month, all went on in its usual routine; all was quiet at Dymock's Tower, and darning, writing, and hammering, continued to be the order of the day with Mrs. Margaret, the Laird, and Shanty, whilst Tamar was all gay and happy in the fulfilment of many active duties, rising with the lark, and brushing the dew from the frequent herbs which encompassed her dwelling. It was all summer with her then, nor did she spoil the present by anticipation of the severities of a wintery day, for the work of grace was going on with her, and though her natural temper was lofty and violent, as appeared by her manner to Jacob on the occasion lately described, yet there was a higher principle imparted, which rendered these out-breakings every day more rare.
We have said before, that Mrs. Margaret had a favourite cow, named by her mistress, Brindle, from the colours of her coat. Tamar had learned to milk Brindle, and this was always her first work. One morning in the beginning of August, it happened, or rather, was so ordered by Providence, that the Laird was constrained through the extreme activity of his imagination, which had prevented him from sleeping after midnight, to arise and go down to his study in order to put these valuable suggestions on paper. It was, however, still so dark when he descended into his study, that he was compelled to sit down awhile in his great chair, to await the break of day; and there that happened to him, which might as well have happened in bed,--that is he fell asleep, and slept soundly for some hours. All this, however, had not been done so quietly, but that he had awakened his sister and Tamar, who slept in the adjoining room; the consequence of which was, that Tamar got up and dressed herself, and having ascertained the situation of the Laird, and informed Mrs. Margaret that all was well in that quarter, she descended again into the kitchen, and proceeded to open the house-door. The shades of night were as yet not dispersed, although the morning faintly dawned on the horizon; but the air was soft, fragrant, and elastic, and as it filled the chest of Tamar, it seemed to inspire her with that sort of feeling, which makes young things whirl, and prance, and run, and leap, and perform all those antics which seem to speak of naught but folly to all the sober and discreet elders, who have forgotten that they were ever young.
Almost intoxicated with this feeling inspired by the morning air, Tamar bounded from the step of the door, and ran a considerable way, first along the bottom of the glen, and then in a parallel line on the green side thereof; suddenly coming to a stand, she looked for Brindle, and could not at first discern her; a minute afterwards, however, she saw her at the higher end of the glen, just where it opened on the moor, and where it had hitherto been protected from the inroads of the sheep, or other creatures feeding on the common, by a rail and gate. This rail and gate had wanted a little repair for several weeks, the Laird having promised to give it that repair; and he was well able so to have done, having at one time of his life worked several months with the village carpenter. But the good man had not fulfilled his promise, and it had only been the evening before that Tamar had tied up the gate with what came nearest to her hand, namely, certain tendrils of a creeper which hung thereabouts from the rock that formed the chasm by which the valley was approached in that direction. These tendrils she had twisted together so as to form a band, never supposing that Brindle, though a young and female creature, could possibly be sufficiently capricious to leave her usual fragrant pasturage, in order to pull and nibble this withering band. But, however, so it was, as Tamar asserted, for there when she came up to the place, the band was broken, the gate forced open, and Brindle walking quietly forward through the narrow gully towards the moor.
Tamar being come to the gate, stopped there, and called Brindle, who knew Tamar as well as she knew her own calf. But the animal had snuffed the air of liberty which came pouring down the little pass, from the open moor, and she walked deliberately on with that air which seemed to say,--"I hear your voice, but I am not coming."
Tamar was provoked; had it been a human creature who was thus acting she might perhaps have recollected that it is not good to give way to anger; as it was, she made no such reflection, but exclaiming in strong terms against the creature, she began to run, knowing that if Brindle once got on the moor it would probably cost her many a weary step before she could get her back again. In measure however, as she quickened her pace, so did Brindle, and in a few minutes the truant animal had reached the open moor and began to career away in high style, as if rejoicing in the trouble she was giving.
But even on the open moor it was yet very dusk; the dawn was hardly visible on the summits of the distant hills, and where there were woods or valleys the blackness was unbroken.
Tamar stood almost in despair, when she found that the animal had reached the open ground; but whilst watching how she could get round her, so as to turn her back, the creature rather slackened her pace, and began to browze the short grass among the heather. Tamar now slowly advancing was taking a compass to come towards her head, when she, perceiving her, turned directly round, and trotted on straightforward to the knoll, which was at most not half a quarter of a mile from the dingle; Tamar followed her, but could not reach her till she had pushed her way in among the trees and bushes, and when Tamar reached the place, she found her quietly feeding in the green area, surrounded by the ruins. The light was still very imperfect, and Tamar was standing half hid by the bushes and huge blocks of granite, doubting whether she should not leave the cow there whilst she ran back to call the Laird to assist her, when suddenly she was startled by the sound of voices. She drew closer behind the block, and remained perfectly still, and ceased to think of the cow, so great was her amazement to find persons in a place, generally deserted by the country people, under the impression that things were there which should not be spoken of. She then also remembered her adventure with Sappho, and what Mrs. Margaret had told her of the concealed passage; and now recollecting that secret passage, she was aware that she stood not very far from the mysterious door-way.
All these thoughts crowded to her mind, but perfect quiet was needful at the moment. As the disk of the sun approached the horizon, the light was rapidly increasing; the dawn in those higher latitudes is however long, but those who knew the signs of the morning were aware that it would soon terminate, and that they whose deeds feared the light had no time to lose.
Tamar accordingly heard low voices, speaking, as it were in the mouth of the cavern, and then a voice of one without the cavern--of one as in the act of departing, saying distinctly, "twelve then at midnight!" The answer from within did not reach Tamar's ears, at least, she heard only an indistinct murmur, but the voice without again came clear to her, and the words were to this effect, "I will not fail; I will take care that he shall be in no condition to return;" the answer was again lost to Tamar, and probably some question, but the reply to this question was clear. "It is his day to go,--the garrison can't live without provision,--if he don't go to-day, we must skulk another twenty-four hours,--we must not venture with him, there will be murder!" then followed several sentences in such broad slang, as Tamar could not comprehend, though she thought she understood the tendency of these words, which were mixed with oaths and terms so brutal, that her blood ran cold in thinking of them; "Caught in his own snare,--he will sink in his own dyke,--we have him now, pelf and all." After this, Tamar heard parting steps, and various low rumbling noises as if proceeding from under ground; then all was still, and no farther sound was heard by her, but the rustling of leaves, the chirping of birds, and the cropping of the herb by the incisors of Brindle. In the mean time the morning broke, the light of day was restored, and Tamar creeping gently from her hiding-place, left Brindle, whilst she ran back to the cottage.
She had not gone far, before she met the labourer who was accustomed to assist her in the care of the garden. She told him that the cow had strayed to the knoll, and that she had seen her enter among the trees; and he undertook, with his dog, to drive her back to the glen, though, he said, he would on no account go up on the knoll, but his dog would drive her down, and he would see her home.
"And why not go on to the knoll?" said Tamar. The man replied, that the place was known to be uncanny, and that not only strange noises, but strange sights had been seen there.
"Lately?" asked Tamar, "have they been seen and heard lately?"
The poor man could not assert that they had, and Tamar was not going to tell him what she had seen and heard. No! this mystery was to be left for the consideration of Dymock and Shanty, and she was anxious to know if their thoughts agreed with hers.
When she arrived at the cottage, and the labourer had brought back Brindle, and fastened the gate, and Tamar had milked her cow, and done her usual services, she went to Dymock who was just awake, and brought him out to breakfast with Mrs. Margaret, "You shall not say any thing about posterity, and the benefits which you are doing to them by recording your thoughts, this morning, sir," she said, "but you shall hear what I have to tell you, and I will not tell you, but in the presence of Mrs. Margaret." When Dymock heard what Tamar had to say, he was at first quite amazed, for it seems, that if he had ever heard of the secret passage he had forgotten it, and Mrs. Margaret had had her reasons, for not stirring up his recollections; but when he was made acquainted with this fact, and had put together all that Tamar had related, he made the same reflections which she had done, and said that he had no doubt, but that these ruins had been the rendezvous of vagrants for years, and that there was now a plan to rob Mr. Salmon, through the means of the secret passage. He went further, for he had no lack of imagination, and proceeded to conjecture, that it was through the manoeuvreing of these very vagrants, that the old curmudgeon had been brought to Dymock's Tower, and following the connexion, he began to put together the appearance of the young blacksmith, the gipsy who had left Tamar at Shanty's, her second appearance and rapid disappearance, the coming of Mr. Salmon, his supposed riches, his strange whim of shutting himself up, and every other extraordinary circumstance, in a jumble even more inexplicable and confusing, than any of his previous speculations upon these events,--and when he had so done he put on his hat, and declared that he must go forthwith to Shanty.
"To see," said Tamar, "what he can hammer out of it all, but something must and ought to be done to put Mr. Salmon on his guard, for otherwise, assuredly he will be robbed this night."
"And perhaps murdered," exclaimed Mrs. Margaret; "but go, brother, be quick, and let us have Shanty's advice."
"And I," said Tamar, after the Laird was departed, "will go to the Tower, and if possible get admittance. I will stop the going off of Jacob."
Mrs. Margaret expostulated with her, but all her pleadings came to this,--that she should send a neighbour to watch for Tamar on the side of the moat, the young girl having assured her kind protectress, that she had nothing to fear for her, and that as the Laird was proverbially a procrastinator, he might let half the day pass, before he had settled what was to be done.
Poor Mrs. Margaret was all tremor and agitation; at the bottom of her heart, she did not like to be left in the cottage, so near a gang of thieves as she felt herself to be; she was not, however, a selfish character, and after some tears, she kissed Tamar and bade her go, watching her the whole way through the glen, as if she were parting with her for years.
The light step of the young girl, soon brought her to the edge of the moat, and she arrived, as it was ordered by Providence, at a very convenient time, for she met Rebecca on the moor, the old woman having just parted from Jacob, whose figure was still to be seen jogging along the heath. The first words of Tamar were to entreat Rebecca to call Jacob back, and when she found that she was speaking to one who chose to lend a deaf ear, she raised her own voice, but with equal ill success; turning then again to Rebecca, she saw that she was hastening to the bridge, on which she followed her, and was standing with her under the Tower, before the old woman could recollect herself.
The creature looked yellow with spite, as she addressed the young maiden with many bitter expressions, asking her what she did there, and bidding her to be gone.
"I am come," replied Tamar, "to see your master, and I will see him."
"It is what you never shall again," replied the dame; "he has never been himself since he last saw you."
"How is that?" said Tamar; "What did I do, but press him to act as an honourable man, but of this I am resolved," she added, "that I will now see him again," and as she spoke, she proceeded through the postern into the courts, still passing on towards the principal door of the Tower, Rebecca following her, and pouring upon her no measured abuse. Tamar, however, remarked, that the old woman lowered her voice as they advanced nearer the house, on which she raised her own tones, and said, "I must, and will see Mr. Salmon, it is a matter of life and death I come upon;--life and death I repeat, and if you or your master, have any thing on your minds or consciences, you will do well to hear what I have to tell you; a few hours hence and it will be too late."
"In that case," said Rebecca, looking at one angry and terrified, "come with me, and I will hear you."
"No," exclaimed Tamar, speaking loud, "I will see your master, my errand is to him," and at the same instant, the quick eye of the young girl, observed the face of Salmon peering through a loop-hole, fitted with a casement, which gave light to a closet near the entrance. Encouraged by this she spoke again, and still louder than before, saying, "See him I will, and from me alone, shall he hear the news I am come to tell." The next minute she heard the casement open, and saw the head of the old man obtruded from thence, and she heard a querulous, broken voice, asking what was the matter? Tamar stepped back a few paces, in order that she might have a clearer view of the speaker, and then looking up, she said, "I am come Mr. Salmon as a friend, and only as a friend, to warn you of a danger which threatens you,--hear me, and you may be saved,--but if you refuse to hear me, I tell you, that you may be a ghastly livid corpse before the morning."
"Rebecca, Rebecca!" cried the old man, "Rebecca, I say, speak to her," and his voice faltered, the accents becoming puling.
"Hear her not," said the dame, "she is a deceiver, she is come to get money out of you."
"And heaven knows," cried Mr. Salmon, "that she is then coming to gather fruit from a barren tree. Money, indeed! and where am I to find money, even for her,--though she come in such a guise, as would wring the last drop of the heart's blood?"
"Tush!" said Rebecca, "you are rambling and dreaming again;" but the old man heard her not, he had left the lattice, and in a few seconds he appeared within the passage. During this interval, Rebecca had not been quiet, for she had seized the arm of Tamar, and the young girl had shaken her off with some difficulty, and not without saying, "Your unwillingness to permit me to speak to your master, old woman, goes against you, but it shall not avail you, speak to him I will," and the contest between Tamar and the old woman was still proceeding, when Salmon appeared in the passage.
Tamar instantly sprang to meet him, and seeing that his step was feeble and tottering, she supported him to a chair, in a small parlour which opened into the passage, and there, standing in the midst of the floor between him and Rebecca, she told her errand; nor was she interrupted until she had told all, the old man looking as if her recital had turned him into stone, and the old woman expressing a degree of terror, which at least cleared her in Tamar's mind, of the guilt of being connected with the thieves of the secret passage.
As soon as the young girl had finished, the old miser broke out in the most bitter and helpless lamentations. "My jewels!--my silver!--my moneys!" he exclaimed, "Oh my moneys!--my moneys! Tell me, tell me damsel, what I can do? Call Jacob. Where is Jacob? Oh, my moneys!--my jewels!"
"Peace, good sir! peace!" said Tamar, "we will befriend you, we will assist you, we will protect you; the Laird is an honourable man, he will protect you. I have known him long, long,--since I was a baby; and he would perish before he would wrong any one, or see another wronged."
"The Laird did you say," asked Salmon, "your father; he is your father damsel is he not?"
"I have no other," replied Tamar, "I never knew another. Why do you ask me?"
"Because," said Rebecca, "he is doting, and thinks more of other people's concerns than his own."
"Has he ever lost a daughter?" asked Tamar.
"He lost a wife in her youth," answered the old woman, "and he was almost in his dotage when he married her, and he fancies because you have black hair, that you resemble her; but there is no more likeness between you two, than there is between a hooded crow and a raven."
"There is more though, there is much more though," muttered the old man, "and Jacob saw it too, and owned that he did."
"The fool!" repeated Rebecca, "the fool! did I not tell him that he was feeding your poor mind with follies; tell me, how should this poor girl be like your wife?"
The old man shook his head, and answered, "Because, he that made them both, fashioned them to be so; and Rebecca, I have been thinking that had my daughter lived, had Jessica lived till now, she would have been just such a one."
"Preserve you in your senses, master," exclaimed Rebecca, "such as they are, they are better than none; but had your daughter lived, she would have been as unlike this damsel as you ever were to your bright browed wife. Why you are short and shrivelled, so was your daughter; your features are sharp, and so were hers; she was ever a poor pining thing, and when I laid her in her grave beside her mother, it was a corpse to frighten one; it was well for you, as I ever told you, that she died as soon."
"Yet had she lived, I might have had a thing to love," replied the old man; and then, looking at Tamar, he added, "They tell me you are the Laird's daughter,--is it so, fair maid?"
Rebecca again interrupted him. "What folly is this," she said, raising her voice almost to a shriek, "how know you but that, whilst you are questioning the damsel, your chests and coffers are in the hands of robbers; your money, I tell you, is in danger: your gold, your oft-told gold. You were not wont to be so careless of your gold; up and look after it. You will be reduced to beg your bread from those you hate; arise, be strong. Where are your keys? Give them to the damsel; she is young and active; she will swiftly remove the treasure out of the way. Can you not trust her? See you not the fair guise in which she comes? Can you suspect a creature who looks like your wife, like Rachel? Is not her tale well framed; and are you, or are you not deceived by her fair seemings? She is the daughter of a beggar, and she knows herself to be such; and there is no doubt but that she has her ends to answer by giving this alarm."
The old man had arisen; he looked hither and thither; he felt for his keys, which were hanging at his girdle; and then, falling back into his chair, he uttered one deep groan and became insensible, his whole complexion turning to a livid paleness.
"He is dying!" exclaimed Tamar, holding him up in his chair, from which he would have otherwise fallen. "He is dying, the poor old man is dying; bring water, anything."
"He has often been in this way since he came here," replied Rebecca. "We have thought that he has had a stroke; he is not the man he was a few months since; and had I known how it would be, it is strange but I would have found means to hinder his coming."
"If he were ever so before," said Tamar "why did you work him up, and talk to him, as you did, about his daughter; but, fetch some water," she added.
"I shall not leave him with you," answered Rebecca.
"Nor shall I abandon him to your tender mercies," replied Tamar, "whilst he is in this condition. I am not his daughter, it is true,--but he is a feeble old man, and I will befriend him if I can."
The old gentleman at this moment fell forward with such weight, that Tamar ran from behind him, and dropping down on her knees, received his head on her shoulder, then, putting one arm round him, she was glad to hear a long, deep sigh, the prelude of his returning to partial consciousness; and as he opened his eyes, he said,--"Ah, Rachel, is it you? You have been gone a long time."
Tamar was at that moment alone with the old man. Rebecca had heard voices at a distance, and she had run to pull up the bridge.
"I am not your Rachel, venerable Sir," she said; "but the adopted daughter of the Laird of Dymock," and she gently laid his head back.
"Then why do you come to me like her?" said the old man. "That is wrong, it is very cruel; it is tormenting me before my time. I have not hurt you, and I will give you more gold if you will not do this again."
"You rave, Sir," said Tamar. "Who do you take me for?"
"A dream," he answered. "I have been dreaming again;" and he raised himself, shook his head, rubbed his hands across his eyes, and looked as usual; but before he could add another word, Dymock and Shanty entered the parlour.
Rebecca had been too late in preventing their crossing the bridge, and they with some difficulty made the old gentleman understand that if he had any valuables, they must ascertain whether the place in which they were kept was any way approachable by the cavern. They also told him that they had taken means to have the exterior mouth of the cavern upon the knoll, stopped up, after the gang were in it; that they had provided a considerable force for this purpose; and that they should bring in men within the Tower to seize the depredators. Dymock then requested Tamar to return to Mrs. Margaret, and remain quietly with her; and when she was gone, the bridge was drawn up, and she went back to the cottage.
She had much to tell Mrs. Margaret, and long, very long,--after they had discussed many times the singular scene between Salmon, Rebecca, and Tamar, and spoken of what might be the plans of Dymock and Shanty for securing the Tower,--did the remainder of the day appear to them. Several times they climbed to the edge of the glen, to observe if aught was stirring; but all was still as usual. There stood the old Tower in solemn, silent unconsciousness of what might soon pass within it; and there was the knoll, looking as green and fresh as it was ever wont to do.
At sun-set Tamar and Mrs. Margaret again visited this post of observation, and again after they had supped at eight o'clock. They then returned and shut their doors; they made up their fires; and whilst Tamar plied her needle, Mrs. Margaret told many ancient tales and dismal predictions of secret murders, corpse-candles, and visions of second-sight, after which, as midnight approached, they became more restless and anxious respecting their friends, wondering what they would do, and expressing their hopes, or their fears, in dark sentences, such as these:--"We trust no blood may be shed!--if there should be blood!--if Dymock or poor Shanty should be hurt!" Again, they turned to form many conjectures, and put many things together:--"Was Mr. Salmon connected with the gipsies who had brought Tamar to the moor?--Was it this gang that proposed robbing him?--Was the young blacksmith called Harefoot connected with the gipsy?--Had he persuaded Salmon to bring his treasures there, in order that he might pilfer them?--And lastly, wherefore was Mr. Salmon so affected both times he had seen Tamar?" Here, indeed, was a subject for conjecture, which lasted some hours, and beguiled the sense of anxiety. At length the morning began to dawn on that long night, and Tamar went out to milk Brindle, whose caprices had, in fact, the day before, been the first mover in all this confusion. Cows must be milked, even were the master of the family dying; and Tamar wished to have this task over before any message should come from the Tower; and scarcely had she returned to the cottage, when the lad who administered the wind to Shanty's forge, came running with such haste, that, to use his own words,--"he had no more breath left for speaking than a broken bellows."
"For the love of prince Charles," he said, "can you give us any provender, Mrs. Margaret? It is cold work watching all night, with neither food nor drink, save one bottle of whiskey among ten of us, and scarce a dry crust."
"But what have you done?" asked Tamar.
"We have nabbed them," replied the boy. "There were four of them, besides an old woman who was taken in the cave, and they are in the Tower till we can get the magistrates here, and proper hands to see them off. They came like rats from under ground. My master had made out where to expect them, in one of the cellars, behind the great hogshead which used to be filled at the birth of the heir, and emptied at his coming of age. So we were ready in the cellar, and nabbed three of them there, and the other, who was hindmost, and the woman, were taken as they ran out the other way; and there they are in the strong-hold, that is, the four men, but the woman is up above; and it is pitiful to hear how she howls and cries, and calls for the Laird; but he fell asleep as soon as he knew all was safe, and we have not the heart to disturb him."
"Well," said Mrs. Margaret, "I am most thankful that all is over without bloodshed, and my nephew asleep. No wonder, as he has not slept since twelve in the morning of yesterday."
"Excepting in his chair," said Tamar.
"But the provender, mistress," said the young man.
"Here," replied Tamar; "lift this pail on your head, and take this loaf, and I will follow with what else I can find."
"Nay, Tamar," said Mrs. Margaret, "You would not go where there is such a number of men and no woman, but that old witch Rebecca."
"I am not afraid of going where my father is," replied Tamar; "but I must see that woman. I should know her immediately. I am convinced that she is the very person who brought me to Shanty's shed. She hinted at some connexion with me. Oh, horrible! may it not be possible that I may have near relations among these miserable men who are shut up in the strong-hold of the Tower?"
As Tamar said these words, she burst into tears, and sunk upon the bosom of Mrs. Margaret, who, kissing her tenderly, said, "Child of my affections, of this be assured, that nothing shall separate you from me. My heart, methinks, clings more and more to you; and oh, my Tamar! that which I seem most to fear is that you should be claimed by any one who may have a right to take you from me."
This was a sort of assurance at that moment requisite to the poor girl; and such, indeed, was the interest which Mrs. Margaret felt in ascertaining if this really were the woman who had brought Tamar to Shanty's, that she put on her hood and cloak, and having filled a basket from the larder, she locked the cottage door, and went with Tamar to the Tower. It was barely light when they crossed the moat, for the bridge was not drawn; and when they entered the inner-court, they found many of the peasants seated in a circle, dipping portions of the loaf in Brindle's pail.
"Welcome! welcome! to your own place, Mrs. Margaret Dymock!" said one of them, "and here," he added, dipping a cup into the pail, "I drink to the restoration of the rightful heir and the good old family, and to your house-keeping, Mrs. Margaret; for things are done now in another style to what they were in your time."
A general shout seconded this sentiment, and Mrs. Margaret, curtseying, and then pluming herself, answered, "I thank you, my friends, and flatter myself, that had my power been equal to my will, no hungry person should ever have departed from Dymock's Tower."
The ladies were then obliged to stand and hear the whole history of the night's exploit,--told almost in as many ways as there were tongues to tell it; and whilst these relations were going forward, the sun had fairly risen above the horizon, and was gilding the jagged battlements of the Tower.
Shanty was not with the party in the court, but he suddenly appeared in the door-way of the Tower. He seemed in haste and high excitement, and was about to call to any one who would hear him first, when his eye fell on Tamar and Mrs. Margaret. "Oh, there you are," he said; "I was looking for one of swift foot to bring you here. Come up this moment; you are required to be present at the confession of the gipsy wife, who is now willing to tell all, on condition that we give her her liberty. Whether this can be allowed or not, we doubt; though she did not make herself busy with the rest, but was caught as she tried to escape by the knoll."
"Oh! spare her, if possible," said Tamar, "or let her escape, if you can do nothing else to save her; I beseech you spare her!" Shanty made no reply, but led the way to an upper room of the Tower, which had in old time, when there were any stores to keep, (a case which had not occurred for some years,) been occupied as a strong-hold for groceries, and other articles of the same description; and there, besides the prisoner, who stood sullenly leaning against the wall, with her arms folded, sat Dymock and Salmon,--the Laird looking all importance, his lips being compressed and his arms folded,--and old Salmon, being little better in appearance than a caput mortuum
, so entirely was the poor creature overpowered by the rapid changes in the scenes which were enacting before him.
Shanty had met Rebecca running down the stairs as he was bringing up Mrs. Margaret, and he had seized her and brought her in, saying, "Now old lady, as we are coming to a clearance, it might be just as well to burn out your dross among the rest; or may be," he added, "you may perhaps answer to the lumps of lime-stone in the furnace, not of much good in yourself, but of some service to help the smelting of that which is better,--so come along, old lady; my mind misgives me, that you have had more to do in making up this queer affair than you would have it supposed." The more Rebecca resisted, the more determined was Shanty; neither did he quit his hold of the old woman, until the whole party had entered the room, the door being shut, and his back set against it, where he kept his place, like a bar of iron in a stanchion.
Chairs had been set for Mrs. Margaret and Tamar, and when they were seated Dymock informed the prisoner that she might speak. Tamar had instantly recognized her; so had Shanty; and both were violently agitated, especially the former, when she began to speak. We will not give her story exactly in her own words; for she used many terms, which, from the mixture of gipsy slang and broad Border dialect, would not be generally understood; but, being translated, her narrative stood as follows:--
She was, it seems, of gipsy blood, and had no fixed habitation, but many hiding places, one of which was the cavern or passage connected with Dymock's Tower. Another of her haunts was Norwood Common, which, every one knows, is near London, and there was a sort of head-quarters of the gang, though, as was their custom, they seldom committed depredations near their quarters. She said, that, one day being on the common, she came in front of an old, black and white house, (which was taken down not many years afterwards;) in the front thereof was a garden, and a green lawn carefully trimmed, and in that garden on a seat sat an old lady, a tall and comely dame, she said, and she was playing with a little child, who might have been a year and-a-half old. The gipsy, it seems, had asked charity through the open iron railing of the garden; and the lady had risen and approached the railing, bringing the child with her, and putting the money into the infant's hand to pass it through the railing. The vagrant had then observed the dress and ornaments of the child, that she had a necklace of coral, clasped with some sparkling stone, golden clasps in her shoes, much rich lace about her cap, and above all, golden bracelets of curious workmanship on her wrists.
"She had not," said Rebecca; "she never wore those ornaments excepting on festival days."
The vagrant took no notice of this remark of Rebecca's; but Shanty gave the old servant a piercing look, whilst all others present, with the exception of Salmon, felt almost fainting with impatience; but Salmon's mind seemed for the moment in such a state of obtuseness, as disabled him from catching hold of the link which was leading to that which was to interest him as much as, or even more than, any one present. The gipsy went on to say, that her cupidity was so much excited by these ornaments, that she fixed her eye immediately on the family, and resolved, if possible, to get possession of the child. She first inquired respecting the family, and learned, that the house was occupied by a widow lady, who had with her an only daughter, a married woman; that the child she had seen belonged to that daughter; and that the husband was abroad, and was a Jew, supposed to be immensely rich.
"I knew it," said Dymock, turning round and snapping his fingers; "I hammered it out, Master Shanty, sooner than you did; I knew the physiognomy of a daughter of Zion at the very first glance; you, too, must never talk again of your penetration, Aunt Margaret," and the good man actually danced about the room; but Shanty on one side, and Aunt Margaret on the other, seized him by an arm, and forced him again upon his chair, entreating him to be still; whilst Salmon roused himself in his seat, shook off, or tried to shake off his confusion, and fixed his eyes stedfastly on the vagrant.
The woman then went on to describe the means by which she had got a sort of footing in this house; how she first discovered the back-door, and under what pretences she invited the servants to enter into a sort of concert with her for their mutual emolument, they bartering hare-skins, kitchen grease, cold meat, &c., for lace, tapes, thread, ballads, and other small matters.
"The thieves?" cried Salmon; but no one noticed him.
"There were only two servants in the house," said the gipsy; "there might be others, but I saw them not, and one of those now stands here;" and she fixed her eagle eye on Rebecca; "the other is Jacob."
"Jacob and Rebecca!" exclaimed Salmon; "it was my house, then, that you were robbing, and my servants whom you were tampering with."
"Go on," said Dymock to the vagrant, whose story then proceeded to this effect:--
She had visited the offices of this house several times; when, coming one evening by appointment of the servants, with some view to bartering the master's goods with her own wares, she found the family in terrible alarm, she had come as she said, just at the crisis in which a soul had parted, and it was the soul of that same old lady who had been playing with the infant on the grass-plot.
Rebecca was wailing and groaning in the kitchen, for she needed help to streak the corpse, and the family had lived so close and solitary, that she knew of no one at hand to whom to apply, and she feared that the dead would become stark and cold, before she could find help; Jacob was not within, he had gone to London, to fetch a Doctor of their own creed, and was not likely to be back for some time.
"And why? said I," continued the vagrant, "why, said I, should I not do for this service as well as another? for many and many had been the corpse which I had streaked; so she accepted my offer, and took me up to the chamber of death, and I streaked the body, and a noble corpse it was. The dame had been a comely one, as tall as that lady," pointing to Dymock's aunt, "and not unlike her."
"Ah!" exclaimed Mrs. Margaret, smiling, "I understand it now;" but Dymock bade her be silent, and the vagrant went on.
"So," said she, "when I had streaked the body, I said to Rebecca we must have a silver plate, for pewter will not answer the purpose."
"What for?" said she.
"'To fill with salt,' I answered, 'and set upon the breast.'
"So she fetched me a silver plate half filled with salt, and I laid it on the corpse; 'and now,' I said, 'we must have rue and marjoram, run down and get me some;' and then I frightened her, poor fool as she was, by telling her that by the limpness of the hand of the corpse, I augured another death very soon in the house."
"When I told this to Rebecca, the creature was so frightened, that away she ran, leaving me in the room with the body. Swift as thought," continued the woman, "I caught the silver dish, and was running down stairs,--it was gloaming--when I saw a door open opposite the chamber of death, and there, in the glimmering, I saw the child of the family asleep in a little crib. She had on her usual dress, with the ornaments I spoke of, and seemed to have fallen asleep before her time, as she was not undressed. I caught her up, asleep as she was, and the next moment I was out in the yard, and across the court, and through the back-door, and away over the common, and to where I knew that none would follow me, but they of my people, who would help my flight."
"And the child with you," said Salmon, "did you take the child?"
"More I will not tell," added the woman; "no, nor more shall any tortures force from me, unless you bind yourselves not to prosecute me,--unless you promise me my liberty."
"I have told you," said the Laird, "that if you tell every thing you shall be free,--do you question my truth?"
"No, Dymock," said the vagrant; "I know you to be a man of truth, and in that dependence you shall hear all."
"I stripped the child of her gaudery, I wrapped her in rags, and I slung her on my back; but I did her no harm, and many a weary mile I bore her, till I came to the moor; and then, because she was a burden, and because the brand on her shoulder would assuredly identify her, if suspicion fell on me for having stolen her, I left her in the old blacksmith's shed, and there she found a better father than you would have made her; for what are you but a wicked Jew, with a heart as hard as the gold you love."
The fixed, and almost stone-like attitude in which the old man stood for some moments after his understanding had admitted the information given by the vagrant, so drew the attention of all present, that there was not a sound heard in the room, every one apprehending that the next moment they should see him drop down dead, nor did any one know what was best to do next; but this moment of terror was terminated by the old man's sinking on his knees, clasping his hands, and lifting his eyes, and breaking out in a short but solemn act of thanksgiving, and then turning his head without rising, as it were looking for his daughter, she sprang toward him, and threw her arms about him, whilst he still knelt. It would be difficult to describe the scene which followed: Dymock began to caper and exult, Mrs. Margaret to weep, Rebecca to utter imprecations, and Shanty to sing and whistle, as he was wont to do when hammering in his shed, and the vagrant to dare the old Jewess to deny any thing which she had said. When Dymock had assisted Tamar to lift her father into the chair, and when the old man had wept plentifully, he was again anxious to examine the case more closely; and a discussion followed, in which many things were explained and cleared up on both sides, though it was found necessary for this end, to promise Rebecca that she should be forgiven, and no vengeance taken upon her, if she should confess her part of the history. This discussion lasted long, and the substance of what was then opened to Tamar and her paternal friends was this:--Mr. Salmon was, it seems, a Polish Jew, extremely rich, and evidently very parsimonious; he had had mercantile concerns in London, and had there married, when nearly fifty years of age, a beautiful young Jewess, whose mother he had greatly benefitted, when in the most deplorable circumstances. With this lady he had gone abroad, and it was very evident that he had been a severe and jealous husband. She had brought him a daughter soon after her marriage. This child was born in Poland, Rebecca was her nurse; but Mrs. Salmon, falling into bad health immediately after the birth of the child, she implored her husband to permit her to return to England, and to her mother. Salmon saw that she was not happy with him; and the strange suspicion seized him, as there was little tie between him and his wife, that in case his own child died, she might palm another upon him,--to prevent which, he branded the babe with the figure of a palm branch, and sent her home, with Rebecca and Jacob, who were both Jews, to watch her; though there was no need, as Rachel was a simple, harmless creature. She was also in very bad health when she reached England, and scarcely survived her mother three days, and during that time hardly asked for her child; and the artful servants had contrived to make their master believe that the baby had proved a sickly deformed creature, and had died, and been buried in the coffin with its mother.
Salmon was in Poland when all these horrors occurred, and there Jacob and Rebecca found him; and having now no other object, he devoted himself entirely to amassing riches, passing from one state of covetousness to another, till at length he began to fall into the dotage of avarice, which consists in laying up money for the sake of laying up, and delighting in the view of hoards of gold and precious things. With this madness in his mind, he turned much of his property into jewels, and returning to England, he began to look about for a safe place wherein he might deposit his treasures. But, as a Jew, he could not possess land; he therefore passed the form of naturalization, and whilst looking about for a situation in which he might dwell in safety, his character and circumstances became in part known to the gipsies, (who, amongst other thieves, always have their eyes on those who are supposed to carry valuables about them,) and the man called Harefoot, formed the plan of getting him and his treasures into Dymock's Tower. This Harefoot was the nephew of the woman who had brought Tamar to Shanty's; and the old miser, being tempted by the moat, and other circumstances of the place, fell into the snare which had been thus skillfully laid for him. It was not till after Salmon had come to the Tower, that the connection between Salmon and Tamar was discovered by the old woman; and it was at this time that she contrived to meet Tamar, and to convey the notion to her, that she was of a gipsy family; fearing lest she should, by any means, be led to an explanation with Salmon, before her nephew and his gang had made sure of the treasure. Harefoot had supposed that he and his gang were the only persons who knew of the secret passage; and the reason why they had not made the attempt of robbing Salmon by that passage sooner, was simply this, that Harefoot, having been detected in some small offence in some distant county, had been confined several weeks in a house of correction, from which he had not been set free many days before he came to the moor, and took upon himself the conduct of the plot for robbing Salmon.
What Jacob and Rebecca's plans were did not appear, or wherefore they had not only fallen in with, but promoted the settlement of their master in the Tower; but that their object was a selfish one cannot be doubted.
Had other confirmation been wanting, after the mark on Tamar's shoulder had been acknowledged, the vagrant added it, by producing a clasp of one armlet, which she had retained, and carried about with her in a leathern bag, amongst sundry other heterogeneous relics; and she accounted for having preserved it, from the fear she had of exposing a cypher wrought on a precious stone, which might, she thought, lead to detection.
A dreadful hue and cry in the court below, soon after this disturbed the conference. All seemed confusion and uproar; Dymock and Shanty rushed down stairs, and aunt Margaret and Tamar ran out to the window in the nearest passage; there they learnt that the prisoners had broken the bars of their dungeon, swam the moat, and fled; and the ladies could see the peasants in pursuit, scouring over the moor, whilst those they were pursuing were scarcely visible.
"I am glad of it," said Tamar, "I should rejoice in their escape, they will trouble us no more; and oh, my dear mother, I would not, that one sad heart, should now mix itself with our joyful ones!"
Mrs. Margaret and Tamar stood at the window till they saw the pursuers turning back to the castle, some of them not being sorry in their hearts, at the escape of the rogues, but the most remarkable part of the story was, that whilst they had all been thus engaged, the woman had also made off, and, though probably not in company with her, that most excellent and faithful creature Rebecca, neither of whom were ever heard of again.
And now none were left, but those who hoped to live and die in each other's company, but these were soon joined by the magistrates and legal powers, who had been summoned from the nearest town, together with people from all quarters, who flocked to hear and learn what was going forward; and here was an opportunity not to be lost by Dymock and Shanty, of telling the wonderful tale, and old Salmon having been recruited with some small nourishment, administered by Mrs. Margaret, presented his daughter to the whole assembly, and being admonished by Shanty, placed in her hands before them, the deed of transfer of the lands and castle of Dymock, which in fact to him, was but a drop in the ocean of his wealth.
As she received this deed, she fell on one knee, and kissed her venerable father's hand, after which he raised and embraced her, paternal affection and paternal pride acting like the genial warmth of the sun, in thawing the frost of his heart and frame. She had whispered something whilst he kissed her, and as his answer had been favourable, she turned to Dymock, and now bending on both knees, she placed the deed in his hands, her sweet face at the same time being all moist with gushing tears, falling upon her adopted father's hand.
Shanty in his apron and unshorn chin, explained to those about, what had been done; for they, that is the Laird, Aunt Margaret, Salmon, and Tamar, were standing on the elevated platform, at the door of the Tower: and then arose such shouts and acclamations from one and all, as made the whole castle ring again, and one voice in particular arose above the rest, crying, "Our Laird has got his own again, and blessing be on her who gave it him."
"Rather bless Him," cried Shanty, "who has thus brought order out of confussion, to Him be the glory given in every present happiness, as in all that we are assured of in the future."
As there were no means of regaling those present at that time, and as Mr. Salmon was then too confused to do that which he ought to have done, in rewarding those who had defended him, most of them being poor people, they were dismissed with an invitation to a future meeting at the Tower; two or three gentlemen, friends of Dymock, only being left. Much consultation then ensued, whilst Mrs. Margaret bestirred herself, to procure female assistance, and to provide the best meal, which could be had at a short notice.
During this conference with the Laird and his friends, all of whom were honourable men, Mr. Salmon was induced to consent to have his treasures, his bonds, his notes and bills, consigned to such keeping as was judged most safe; neither, could these matters be settled, without a journey to town, in which Dymock accompanied him, together with a legal friend of the latter of known respectability. We do not enter into the particulars of this journey, but merely say, that Mr. Salmon in the joy, and we may add, thankfulness of recovering his child, not only permitted himself to be advised, but whilst in town made his will, by which, he left all he possessed to his daughter, and this being concluded to the satisfaction of all concerned, he returned to Dymock's Tower, laden with presents for Mrs. Margaret.
Neither were Shanty's services overlooked; the cottage and land appertaining thereunto, were to be his for life, free from rent and dues, together with twenty pounds a year, in consideration of his never-varying kindness to Tamar.
The old man wept, when told of what was done for him, and himself went the next day to Morpeth, to bring from thence a sister, nearly as old as himself, who was living there in hard service.
And here the memorandum from which this story is derived, becomes less particular in the details.
It speaks of Mr. Salmon after the various exertions he had made, (these exertions having been as it was supposed succeeded by a stroke,) sinking almost immediately into a state nearly childish, during which, however, it was a very great delight to Tamar, to perceive in the very midst of this intellectual ruin an awakening to things spiritual; so that it would seem, as if the things hidden from him in the days of human prudence and wisdom, were now made manifest to him, in the period of almost second childishness.
Tamar had been enabled to imbibe the purest Christian principles, in her early youth, for which, humanly speaking, she owed much to Shanty, and she now with the assistance of the kind old man, laboured incessantly, to bring her father to the Messiah of the Christians, as the only hope and rest of his soul; and she had reason before her father died, to hope that her labours had not been without fruit. As to worldly pelf, she had it in rich abundance, but she could have little personal enjoyment of it whilst shut up with her aged father in Dymock's Tower, yet she had exquisite delight in humouring therewith, the fancies of Dymock, and administering to the more sober and benevolent plans of Mrs. Margaret; for this lady's principal delight was, to assist the needy, and her only earthly or worldly caprice, that of restoring the Tower and its environs, and furnishing, to what she conceived had been its state, in the, perhaps, imaginary days of the exaltation of the Dymocks.
A splendid feast in the halls of Dymock's Tower, is also spoken of, as having taken place, soon after the return of the Laird from London, from which, not a creature dwelling on the moor was absent, when Salmon directed Tamar to reward those persons who had assisted him in his greatest need, and when Mrs. Margaret added numbers of coats and garments to those that were destitute. Dymock in his joy of heart, caused the plough to be brought forward, and fixed upon a table in the hall, for every one to see that day, Mrs. Margaret having been obliged to acknowledge, that it was this same plough, which had turned up the vein of gold, in which all present were rejoicing.
With the notice of this feast the history terminates, and here the writer concludes with a single sentiment,--that although a work of kindness wrought in the fear of God, as imparted by the Lord, the Spirit--seldom produces such a manifest reward, as it did in the case of Mrs. Margaret and her nephew, for the race is not always to the swift, nor the burthen to the strong, yet, even under this present imperfect dispensation, there is a peace above all price, accompanying every act, which draws a creature out of self, to administer to the necessities of others, whenever these acts are performed in faith, and with a continual reference to the pleasure of God, and without view to heaping up merits, which is a principle entirely adverse to anything like a correct knowledge of salvation by the Lord the Saviour. (End)