Old London Bridge, A Romance of the Sixteenth Century

Rodwell, G Herbert





Behold my bloody woundes deep and wide. Chaucer.

HEWET, notwithstanding the alternate quarrels King Henry was always having, first with the King of France, then with the Emperor of Germany, then with the Pope, this day being their friend, the next their bitterest enemy, arrived safely in Italy. He wandered from place to place, inquiring wherever he had heard Sir Filbut Fussy had friend or relation, about the parties he was seeking; but he could learn nothing likely to throw a light upon the strange elopement. It is true, he heard in Milan that Sir Filbut had written to announce his intended journey; but he had not arrived, nor had any of his acquaintances lately heard from or of him. As Queen Jane was now ill, and the King having determined that no coronation should take place, the ostensible purpose for which the merchant had travelled so far, was useless, and Master Hewet received orders to return with all dispatch to England. The vessel arrived in the Channel, and landed him on the Sussex coast, for it was Master Hewet's wish to pay a mercantile visit to a town that lay hard by. Having accomplished the end he had in view, he started on his homeward journey, riding post, and attended by a country guide.

The guide proved a loquacious clown, whose tongue ran on much faster than his horses. "I make bold to guess your honour be from foreign parts ?" observed the guide.

Hewet nodded a slight assent.

" Ah! they be strange places, I have heered. The Frenchmen, they says, can live on nothin, and the Italians eats their wittles by the yard. Why don't they live on beef and puddin as we do ? It's our beef and puddin that makes us thrash 'em as we always does."

Master Hewet, finding he must listen to his guide, whether he wished it or not, endeavoured, by a leading question or two, to elicit, if possible, a little of the flying news of the day.

" News !" said the guide, " oh, holy ! there be plenty of news, only it's all old; that is, it's the same thing over and over again. We know that if we are told that Queen Anne's an angel to-day, we shall hear that she's a devil to-morrow; and if the King's got a new wife this week, he'll have a newerer one next. I wish he'd take a fancy to my old woman, for I'm plaguy tired on her!"

But," said Hewet, "is there nothing stirring in these parts ?"

"Stirrin !" replied the guide, "oh, holy ! there be plenty a stirrin hereabouts. There have been two chaps down here stirrin up the old nuns like new 'uns. One was called Master Spike, I thinks, and a sharp


chap he was; the other-but he was a precious bad 'un amongst the nuns, I heered-was called Master Harry Horton."

"Horton ?" said Hewet.

"Oh, hoiy! Horton, that was the worst 'uns name; but they're gone to Lunnun town, and a good riddance to bad rubbish, says I."

The road through which they journeyed being fully exposed to the burning sun, became intolerably oppressive. The guide, perceiving that the merchant could not bear the heat so well as he could, said, " If you'd take a fool's advice, just jump down here, get over that stile, and walk through the wood. I'll take the horses round to the other side, two miles off; you'll find it a lovely shady grove to stroll through, and you'll come out as cool and fresh as a daisy. I see that you are well armed, not that there's much to be afeared on. I hav'nt heered of a robbery there for a good many days past, and I don't think any one has beer killed there for these six months."

This off-hand manner of the country clown, in speaking of the danger from robbers or murderers, should not be regarded by the reader as far- fetched, or unlikely to be pretty near the usual way in which desperate acts were then spoken of; for so brutalized had all classes become by habit (we speak of their appreciation of the horrible), that to hear of a murder having been committed, was to listen to something scarcely worthy of a second thought; and as to robberies, we may easily imagine to what extent they were carried, when we find it on record, that during the reign of " Bluff King Hal," in the olden time of " Merrie England"-heigho! no less than upwards of SEVENTY TWO THOUSAND of " great thieves, of petty thieves, and rogues" were hanged! King Henry reigned thirty-eight years, so that there were, taking them at a round average, per year, one thousand nine hundred, or rather more than five executions for every day during the whole reign. If it were taken into account the executions (in many cases murders) for alleged treason, or heresy, the numbers would become more like seven for every twenty-four hours, during thirty-eight years.

When we reflect upon these things, strong doubts will obtrude on our mind, whether, notwithstanding all our boasted civilization, it be possible to discover in the annals of any Eastern, despotic, barbaric state, a more appalling disregard of human life; for, let it be remembered, that those executions did not form any part of martial retaliation in time of war, or of massacres in a time of revolt, but were cold-blooded, judicial, premeditated acts.

Having made this slight digression, the reader will, we trust, not feel surprised at the countryman appearing to think it very recommendatory of the locality, to assert that " he had not heard of a robbery there for a good many days past; and not of a murder, no, not for at least six months !"

Although this high praise regarding the safety of the road through the wood, might not be quite satisfactory to some, yet the merchant felt so oppressed and overcome by the heat, that he at once followed the guide's advice; and receiving very minute directions with respect to the way he was to go, and also a large whistle, that the guide declared could be heard at least five miles off (this was in case he should be attacked)


. Master Hewet crossed the stile and entered the wood; for some way he could hear the guide singing a country ditty, in an accent as broad as his own shoulders: the rustic's ditty ran something after this fashion:-

Tho' merry wag beards in the stately hall,

Yet merry wag tails on the rustic green;

Tho' maids of the green wear nor coif, nor caul,

And dames of the hall sport their silken sheen-

Pray which be the happier life of the two ?

Why, fool ! can't you tell I ?-then why should I you ?

Fol de rol, de rol, lol de rol, fol de rol lol !

In most of our olden ditties we find this style of ending a verse-we mean with " Fol de rol, de rol,"-greatly in vogue; and as poets gene, rally kept their most pungent witticisms to the last, we have no doubt there is some hidden meaning in these concluding syllables, well worthy the attention of our most recondite and laborious antiquarians; would that we had time and talent to discover it! But hark ! the voice of the rustic has not yet died away-

'Tis useless to try, mon, to mark out the best,

For God makes as happy, a dog as a cat.

'Tis like to him blessing-and him that is blest,

The pleasure's the same-depend upon that.

So which be the happier life of the two ?

Why, fool! can't you tell I ?-then why should I you ?

Fol de rol, de rol, lol de rol, fol de rol lol!

As their roads lay almost at right angles to each other, the distance between them at every step increasing, the sound of the countryman's voice in the same proportion diminished; it became fainter and fainter, and as Collins would have said, had he then lived, was " by distance made more sweet." The last sound had died away, and all was still as death. The merchant found the coolness of the shade refreshing in a powerful degree; not a leaf rustled in the air, not even a bird's sweet note was heard to change the monotony of the silence which reigned around. Now the trees closed in so thickly over the narrow path, that night appeared suddenly to have usurped the hours of day-sometimes a spot, sometimes a streak of light, would steal through here and there, and then a wide green open space appear, but still no sound. The merchant had again entered the pathway, on the other side of one of those open spaces, and was mending his pace, for the stillness became oppressively monotonous. He almost started at the sound of his own breathing, so loud did it seem to his ear, made doubly sensitive by straining to catch a sound that never came. He was just reflecting upon the truism, that how different are the same things under different circumstances-the jargon of the country clown he had just before thought almost unbearable, he would now have welcomed as sweetest music. He was half tempted to try the effect of the loud whistle he carried in his hand, but feared that they who heard it might think it cowardice that had prompted him to use it.

It now occurred to him, might not the guide be an accomplice of the very robbers he had mentioned as sometimes paying visits to these woods, and have given him that whistle, to call them to the spot to murder him ? The merchant, although no coward, had by degrees brought his mind into so nervous a state, that he had nearly sunk upon the earth, as a


sound resembling a groan suddenly struck upon his ear; he paused, and held his breath, until large drops of perspiration burst from his forehead; he had almost convinced himself that it was but the effect of imagination, when he heard the groan repeated, and now so audibly, that no longer doubt remained. He drew his sword, and standing on his guard, listened to discover the direction whence the sound proceeded. Ere long a deep-drawn sigh too plainly pointed out the spot; it was one he had just passed. He retraced his way for a few paces, which brought him again to the edge of the light open space. A faint voice now endeavoured to call for help, and pushing aside some underwood, the merchant discovered the body of a man; he drew it forth, and kneeling down, raised up the dying man's head upon his arm, when, what was his horror, to discover the features of the blighter of all his hopes. Sir Filbut's eyes met his; he uttered a low shriek and fainted.

A thousand feelings hurried across the mind of Hewet; at one moment he had raised his sword to take the little life that yet remained. Should he leave him there to rot like a dog, as ajust punishment for the wrongs he had inflicted? He knew not what to do; revenge, hate, pity, all contended at once within the merchant's breast; as he still gazed upon him, lost in doubt, the eyes of the wounded man again opened, and he strove to speak. So weak was he from loss of blood, that his lips moved several times without uttering a sound; at last he said, as a smile passed over his features, " She-she-is innocent !" and then sank back again exhausted.

The merchant for a moment felt his heart rise into his very throat- he seemed choking. " Oh, Heaven !" at last he exclaimed, " make but that appear, and I will willingly lay down my life where now you lie; speak-speak-for mercy sake speak those words once more."

Sir Filbut did not move, and Hewet believed that all was ended; yet, one effort might be made; he placed the whistle to his lips, the shrill sound of which had scarcely died away, when it was answered by another, and in a few minutes Hewet saw his country guide hurrying towards him, attended by three or four other country clowns.

They did not appear at all astonished at what they saw, their only surprise was, that their quarter-staves were not required to protect the merchant. A few branches were soon laid across each other, and a quantity of grass placed upon them, and then the wounded knight; in this manner he was soon borne out of the wood.

The merchant's anxiety was now so great, fearing that he would die ere he had made that clear, which was at present hid in the deepest mystery, that he tempted the men, by promises of high reward, to continue their road as quickly as possible towards London, where proper assistance could be obtained.

Edward Osborne had been apprised, that on that day he might probably see his good master return home, so he made up his mind that the merchant's coming would be the fulfilment of the witch's prophecy; but in this he was mistaken, for a very different visitor called upon him at the house upon the Bridge.

Flora and the Bridge-shooter being both at the front window, and seeing a splendid retinue approaching, put their heads still further forward, but 16


. the Bridge-shooter popped his own in, and drew Flora from the window too, for he recognised in the leader of the party, the handsome youth who had noticed Flora, and kissed his hand to her; they were watching at a distance from the window until the party should have passed, when what was the poor Bridge-shooter's consternation, to see the handsome youth draw up at the door, alight, and then enter his master's house.

The man in the shop, believing Edward Osborne to be in the first floor, shewed the stranger into the very room in which Flora and William were; to attempt escape was useless, so the Bridge-shooter stood looking vastly silly, and poor Flora blushed enormously.

"What !" said the youth, "is it indeed you, my pretty maid? Why, I have been dreaming about you all night; but it was not to seek you I am now here, but one Edward Osborne."

At this moment Edward entered: " That is Master Edward," said Flora, again blushing, and with William was about to retire.

" Nay, stay !" said the youth; " the more who hear what I now say to Edward Osborne, the more shall I be pleased." He then went towards Edward and frankly taking him by the hand, said, " Sir, I owe you a debt," Edward stared with surprise, " a debt that at this moment I am unable to pay, but one I wish to acknowledge: Edward Osborne, I owe you my life! Do you not remember saving a youth, who was drowning up by Chelsea ?-I am he. Do not think me ungrateful that I have not been to thank you before, but I knew not until yesterday the name of my preserver. Those who were with me, when they saw that I was safe, sought you, but in vain; you were gone, no one knew whither. After all other enquiries had failed, as a mere jest, we visited a certain cunning woman at Houndsditch, and would you, or any one believe it, by her magic art, she instantly told me your name, and where you could be found." To the three whom he addressed, this did not seem very wonderful; but he continued, "Henceforth I shall never doubt witch craft again. I come, not only in my own name, but in that of my father also, to tell you, that throughout your life, if either of us ever can be of service to you, command, and you shall not find us wanting. I am called George Talbot-my father is the Earl of Shrewsbury."

Edward Osborne said a hundred pretty things fitted to the occasion, and, as usual, whenever swimming was mentioned, he always gave the whole credit of his own accomplishment to his humble friend, the worthy Bridge-shooter. Upon this, William had a real Earl's son shake him by the hand, who repeated to him the same promise he had made to Osborne. He placed a very valuable ring upon the finger of Edward, as he once more took him by the hand at parting; then turning to the Bridge- shooter, he said, smiling, and glancing towards Flora, "The frown you gave me when last we met, told me pretty plainly in what quarter your heart lies; so, remember, when you two marry, I will give away the bride. Farewell, and believe me, the promises a Talbot makes he keeps !"

Osborne attended the youth to the door, and after another smile and another shake of the hand, George Talbot, with his gay companions, passed across the Bridge.

"Now is not this like all mother's witchcraft?" said William; "you


but to wait for four-and-twenty hours,and you find it's all moonshine. Why couldn't she have told us yesterday who was coming, and what he wanted, instead of making such a mystery about it? But then it wouldn't have appeared like magic. The spell is working, the spell is working," he said, imitating the manner and tone of the old woman. "Well, if it makes her happy, and doesn't do her any harm, perhaps, it's as well to let her have her way, poor old soul." "The Earl of Shrewsbury," said Osborne, musing; "he is high in the favour of the King, a great soldier, and of a most noble line. You see, William, what fine friends your instructions have brought me. But, hoping I may never stand in need of his favours, I am still glad to find that the great have memories for little services received. I have ever been taught the contrary."

"And what a handsome young man he is," said Flora; "and what a sweet smile he has; and -"

And he said he'd give you away; that's more than I'd do," said the Bridge-shooter, only let us once be married."

"Married, pooh !" said pretty Flora, tossing up her head; "you don't think I'd marry a boy that's still learning his letters."

" Never mind my letters," replied William; "I knows-I mean know-yes, I know the verb to love better than you do, with all your larning."

" Learning !" said Flora, with great gravity. "Correct speaking always proves gentility of connections."

'Are all things in readiness for our good master, if he return to-night ?" inquired Edward.

" Oh, yes, Master Edward," replied Flora. "Heigho, heigho! would that we had more comfort to give him when he comes; but his house is desolate. Hark ! what murmuring sound is that ?"

Flora and the Bridge-shooter ran to the window, and looking towards the entrance of the Bridge, they perceived a crowd approaching. As it came nearer, they were surprised to see in the midst of it the good merchant, Master Hewet. They all instantly hurried down to the front door, and surprised indeed they were, when the countrymen who carried the wounded knight, now hidden from the gaze of the crowd by a large cloak, brought their burden into the merchant's shop. The crowd, who had gathered a few particulars from the country-guide, were aware that the litt r bore a wounded man, but whom they knew not."

"I wonder not at your surprise," said Hewet to those in his house, at seeing me arrive thus accompanied; but your astonishment will be increased a hundred fold when you look upon the features of him who lies there, as I fear, dying. Wait not to ask questions, but prepare a couch whereon he may lie at ease."

" This way," said Osborne, opening the door of the room behind the shop, which, during the merchant's absence, he had made his sleeping-room, that he might the better guard his master's property. When the dying man was lifted upon the couch, and the clock removed, Osborne's astonishment was indeed extreme. The physician whom the merchant had summoned to attend, as they came along, now examined the wounds; they were five in number, and as he regarded them, he


. shook his head in a manner that augured but little hope. Having dressed the wounds, and administered a restorative, the physician retired, promising to come again, but at the same time whispering to the merchant that "he believed it would be merely to look upon a corse."

The merchant, as they sat watching the dying man, in a low voice acquainted Osborne with the manner in which he had discovered the knight, and the blessed words, the only ones he had yet uttered, which told of Alyce's innocence. This made Flora weep tears of joy, for she loved her mistress dearly.

Sir Filbut moved uneasily upon his couch; they ran to him, when looking around him, he said, "Am I indeed beneath this roof? It is but justice-justice-that I should die here. I have but a brief space left to render all the reparation now within my power: pray Heaven may grant me sufficient strength to say all I would have you know. But first, bear witness that here I swear, before Heaven and man, that Alyce is as an angel innocent. My vanity, and the plottings of a fiend, have wrought this misery. You remember the day that Alyce left this roof? I waited her coming with all the mad vanity of a fool; she came, but instead of her eyes beaming with love, as I had hoped, and indeed expected, they were red with weeping. A look of shame and indignation overspread her features as she said, ' I have taken a bold step, but one my heart tells me my injured pride will justify. Tell me, tell me,' she exclaimed, bursting into tears, ' what have I ever done to call from you this deadliest insult an honest wife can e'er receive-the words of love from any but her husband?' 'Alyce,' I said, astounded at what I heard, 'you cannot, Alyce, pretend to be ignorant, after the letters you have received.' ' Letters,' she replied, 'I have received no letters but the one I found in my room last night, and that I tore and burnt, after drowning it in tears of shame."

Here the merchant and Flora looked at each other, for they remembered the fragments of the letter they had found, and which had seemed so thoroughly to have proved her guilt.

"No letters!' I exclaimed, 'why, Flora has given you at least twenty."

"Oh, heavens!" exclaimed Flora.

" Do not interrupt me," said the knight. "I know now that you were faultless. I then explained to her how Horton, your apprentice, working upon my vanity, had first told me that she had confessed to Flora her love for me. I paid him heavily to buy up Flora's silence, and to tempt her to give my letters secretly to her mistress. He pretended to bring back messages of kindness and affection. All circumstances combined to lead me on in my madness. One night, during your absence, while singing beneath her window, I saw a female form watching at the casement-the window gently opened--"

" Oh, dear ! oh, dear !" exclaimed Flora; "some of the mischief, then, I did really cause. It was I who opened the casement, to listen to a serenade offered, as I thought, by her intended to Alice Vaughan, opposite."

" I thought it was your mistress. Horton had told me she would expect me on that night. Oh! how I blush, not only for my villany,


but for my weakness, in thus being made the dupe of such a wretch! But what had most confirmed me, was Alyce's reception of the costly diamond I sent her by him."

"He told us," interrupted the merchant, "he had found it, and prayed of my wife to wear it for that one day, and that no doubt the next he should discover the right owner. The next day he said he had done so, and received it back again, and we never saw it more."

" So Alyce told me," said the knight; "it was his scheme, the offer I made to teach her riding; he told me it was her own idea. The thing that surprised me most was, that believing as I did that I possessed the affection of Alyce, yet, whenever we were alone, no look, no word, ever escaped her that you might not have witnessed. He told me that was her whim; she would not allow a word of love but in my letters, and that I must put up with her fancies until we were safe abroad. Finding that I had indeed been duped, I fell upon my knees before Alyce, and sought her forgiveness. I told her that a vessel lay in the river, in which I had believed she was to fly with me to Italy; that on board that vessel Horton had conveyed all my wealth, and that I would hasten thither, and from that hour she should never more be insulted by my presence. I left her, my heart bursting with feelings of remorse for my conduct towards that angel and yourself, with vengeance against the villain Horton, and shame for my own weak folly. I was on my way to seek out Horton, and bring him to a dread account before I fled this land for ever. I had not gone far, when I was suddenly seized and dragged to a boat. I was conveyed on board the very vessel I had paid so much to purchase. I was kept close prisoner in the hold. The man who appeared to have command was a giant in form, with eyes unnaturally protruding. He returned to the shore, after giving orders to sail to the Continent, and when the cargo was delivered, to return to a certain part of the Sussex coast, and there await his coming. After we were well at sea, I was removed to a better prison. By what I could gather from words that reached me through the partition of my cabin, I learnt that the crew were smugglers, and that they believed my fate was to be a watery grave. At last we returned in sight of the Sussex coast. One dark night, despair giving me strength, I managed to force so much away from the sides of the little window of my prison, that at last I succeeded in making my way thence into the flood beneath. I swam to shore. The next day, I was on my way to denounce Horton, when, near the spot in which you found me, I saw two men in the distance, who perceiving me, muffled their faces in their cloaks, and receded again into the wood. I had only just entered the covered path, when I was suddenly stabbed. I saw not those who inflicted the wounds. I had fallen on my face-had fainted !"

Here Sir Filbut appeared completely exhausted, but after a violent effort, he said, " Ere I sink in death, let me be blessed by hearing from the lips of Alyce, that I die forgiven."

They now explained, that since the day he had seen her last, she had never again returned. This he seemed scarcely to comprehend, for his mind began to wander; they endeavoured to discover what he knew concerning the abduction of the child, but this was hopeless; he sank


. upon the pillow, and as in a dream he murmured, " and let-thine eyes --change-night to-day," he then drew one long deep breath, and he was dead.

"Bring yonder screen,' said the merchant, " and place it before the couch."

Flora and the Bridge-shooter in doing this, revealed to the eyes of Hewet, the portrait of his beloved Alyce, which Osborne had hid there, instead of destroying it. The moment the merchant saw that sweet face, he rushed towards it and kissed it madly. But now, instead of the revelation made by the murdered knight, clearing up the mystery concerning Alyce and the child, that mystery seemed to become more and more profound. In proportion as the heart of the merchant had been relieved by what he had just heard, the heavier grew the pain of his bereavement. She was innocent, but she was gone. What might not be her fate-her sufferings ? and his child too !-- They were lost in a sea of conjectures, when suddenly a messenger came hurrying in, from the mother of the Bridge-shooter to Edward Osborne, praying of him for his life to hasten to the Convent of the Minories-to take with him her son, or any trusty friend; but on his life not to neglect her bidding, for there was one who would require all his assistance.

The old woman had kept to herself, that it was the Cripple who stood in need of aid; so her son, thinking there might be something of real moment' hidden beneath her words, prayed of the merchant to accompany them-" For," as he said, " who knows, but mother at last may turn out a witch in reality; that cross, and the blind girl meant something, you may depend."

Hewet had other reasons for wishing to go to the Convent; his was a wish to make an offering of thanksgiving, in the shape of a rich present at the altar.

Flora, who wouldn't, no, not for a wedding-ring even, remain at home in the house of death now it had become night, seized hold of the Bridge- shooter's arm, and insisted upon going too.

Before they arrived there, a strange scene had been enacted. Horton, armed, as he thought, with full authority, had had the hardihood again to face the insulted Abbess; but here he found a head older, and more subtle than his own; she well knew the game that he would play, and therefore laid her plans to thwart him, and this she did in a way that at once should crush his pride, and satisfy her feelings of revenge. Had he conjured from the depths of the darkest regions an enemy, he could not have found one more to be feared than the Abbess of St. Clair. She knew that she could not shut her doors against the King's Commissioners, so she had shut the doors against his hopes.

Horton had come to take away the blind girl, Eoline :--" You take her hence, you !" said the Abbess; " and pray who may you be, possessing such mighty power ? A slave of the court, an oppressor of the weak, I know you to be; but strong as you think yourself, that poor blind child shall laugh your threats to scorn."

" You ask me who I am--you know it well !" said Horton. "You ask me my power over Eoline-you know that too! Who else has power, if I have it not ?"



" He's here !" replied the Abbess, as the Cripple entered.

" He !" said Horton with a sneer, "why, 'tis the Cripple of the Bridge-what power has he ?"

" The strongest of all I" replied the Abbess, " the power of a husband! Ha, ha ! you are foiled; Eoline is now the Cripple's wife. Take her, Cripple, take her and all she does, or may possess. You may frown and look big," she said, addressing Horton, " but what I do, I do strongly. You may as well endeavour to part the world in two, as part that man from his lawful wife."

How long this scene would have lasted, we know not, but it was suddenly put a stop to, by the nuns running in, shrieking in wild alarm: the Convent was on fire. All was now confusion and dismay, the bell was rung, the people from the farm came quickly to their aid; the night being dark, the flames told those far off the destruction that was going on. Horton, laughing at their distress, left them to their fates.

He had scarcely gone, when the merchant and those of his household arrived. Here were some carrying the rich furniture of the chapel, and placing it upon the grass; the nuns surrounded it, and falling upon their knees, sung a prayer to Heaven to befriend them: the scene was strange, but picturesque and awful, for the flames kept rapidly gaining strength. All the nuns, and indeed every inmate of the place was mustered, and their names called over, to see that none were left in the burning pile; they now remembered the two poor old bed-ridden sisters of St. Clair, who had hitherto been forgotten; they inhabited the upper story of the Convent, to which the flames were fast approaching. Who dared attempt to save them ? All stood aloof. No! the Cripple and the Bridge-shooter both rushed into the burning pile; it was a dreadful moment of suspense; the fire roared more fiercely; the timbers cracking, sent up showers or sparks high into the air.

Distant bells were now heard ringing at the various religious houses round about, and soon troops of monks and villagers came thronging in. Eoline, who was clinging to the merchant Hewet, suddenlyuttereda shriek, and said to him in accents made scarcely audible by horror-" There is one they have forgotten yet, the mad girl in the vaults beneath; in Heaven's name attempt to save her! The way is intricate and dark, but I can lead you there, for darkness has no power over the blind; come, for the love of Heaven, come !" She hurried along, holding the hand of the merchant, whose humanity would have prompted him to the bold attempt alone, and save her from the hazard of death, but he knew not how to find the spot without her help. As they entered the vaults, they heard loud shouts that the poor old nuns were rescued.

The Cripple now ran about frantic, for Eoline was nowhere to be found. So great had been the consternation and confusion, that both she and the merchant had not been perceived taking the way they had. The Cripple was obliged to be secured by force, or he had again rushed into the flames-he fancied he heard the voice of Eoline calling upon him for help.

While this scene was going on before the burning Convent, the merchant and the blind girl were threading their way through long passages


. beneath, in which the air now became intolerably oppressive, from the increasing heat. The merchant could not help feeling a thrill of horror at their situation; if he let go the poor girl's hand, or she were to faint, all hope must vanish; the place was dark as the grave, and they had wound first one way then another, so that to retrace his steps unguided were impossible.

" We are near the spot now," she said, as they reached a door, which, to her horror, she found was locked. " Oh, all is lost !" she said; "the door of this passage is fastened; unless you have strength to break it down, the poor mad creature must be burnt alive."

The merchant exerted again and again all his strength, but in vain; a last effort more violent from despair, and the shattered door flew in a hundred pieces before them. Eoline once more took his hand, and on they went anew. " 'Tis here!" she said, unbolting a door; " her's is a silent madness; she never speaks; feel for her where she lies; take her in your arms, she will not resist."

The merchant entered the cell, and feeling his way round by the walls, had nearly made the circuit of the place, when his foot was stayed by something lying on the ground; he stooped, and found it was a human being.

" Quick, quick, bring her forth !" said Eoline; "take her in your arms, and I will, byyour cloak, lead you hence: we must be quick ! on, on !"

Hope reanimated them, and they hurried forward, for the merchant now had confidence in the power of his guide. He had nearly dropped his precious load, and fallen headlong down, for he stumbled over the fragments of the shattered door. As they approached the longed-for egress from this dismal place, the noise and confusion without became more distinct; at last they saw the opening at the end of the passage: one moment more and they were safe.

The Cripple who thought at that time of no one but his Eoline, flew to her, and danced about as though he had been mad.

The merchant had gone forward to deposit his charge in safety, further from the burning Convent. Presently all turned to where he stood, for with a frantic cry he called to all around. " Oh, Heavens !" he exclaimed, " see, here! see, here ! it is an angel that I am pressing to my heart. It is my Alyce-it is my wife !"