But the walls shake again, and this time the vibration is more fearful than before. There is a tremendous uproar above him—the roof yields to some superincumbent pressure—there is one shriek, and Marchdale lies crushed beneath a mass of masonry that it would take men and machinery days to remove from off him.
All is over now. That bold, bad man—that accomplished hypocrite—that mendacious, would-be murderer was no more. He lies but a mangled, crushed, and festering corpse.
May his soul find mercy with his God!
The storm, from this moment, seemed to relax in its violence, as if it had accomplished a great purpose, and, consequently, now, need no longer “vex the air with its boisterous presence.” Gradually the thunder died away in the distance. The wind no longer blew in blustrous gusts, but, with a gentle murmuring, swept around the ancient pile, as if singing the requiem of the dead that lay beneath—that dead which mortal eyes were never to look upon.
THE MEETING OF CHARLES AND FLORA.
Charles Holland followed Jack Pringle for some time in silence from Bannerworth Hall; his mind was too full of thought concerning the past to allow him to indulge in much of that kind of conversation in which Jack Pringle might be fully considered to be a proficient.
As for Jack, somehow or another, he had felt his dignity offended in the garden of Bannerworth Hall, and he had made up his mind, as he afterwards stated in his own phraseology, not to speak to nobody till somebody spoke to him.
A growing anxiety, however, to ascertain from one who had seen her lately, how Flora had borne his absence, at length induced Charles Holland to break his self-imposed silence.
“Jack,” he said, “you have had the happiness of seeing her lately, tell me, does Flora Bannerworth look as she was wont to look, or have all the roses faded from her cheeks?”
“Why, as for the roses,” said Jack, “I’m blowed if I can tell, and seeing as how she don’t look at me much, I doesn’t know nothing about her; I can tell you something, though, about the old admiral that will make you open your eyes.”
“Indeed, Jack, and what may that be?”
“Why, he’s took to drink, and gets groggy about every day of his life, and the most singular thing is, that when that’s the case with the old man, he says it’s me.”
“Indeed, Jack! taken to drinking has my poor old uncle, from grief, I suppose, Jack, at my disappearance.”
“No, I don’t think it’s grief,” said Jack; “it strikes me it’s rum-and-water.”
“Alas, alas, I never could have imagined he could have fallen into that habit of yours; he always seemed so far from anything of this kind.”
“Ay, ay, sir,” said Jack, “I know’d you’d be astonished. It will be the death of him, that’s my opinion; and the idea, you know, Master Charles, of accusing me when he gets drunk himself.”