Jack Sheppard eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 444 pages of information about Jack Sheppard.

Her companion was a person of no inferior condition.  Indeed it was apparent, from the likeness between them, that they were nearly related.  He had the same dark eyes, though lighted by a fierce flame; the same sallow complexion; the same tall, thin figure, and majestic demeanour; the same proud cast of features.  But here the resemblance stopped.  The expression was wholly different.  He looked melancholy enough, it is true.  But his gloom appeared to be occasioned by remorse, rather than sorrow.  No sterner head was ever beheld beneath the cowl of a monk, or the bonnet of an inquisitor.  He seemed inexorable, and inscrutable as fate itself.

“Well, Lady Trafford,” he said, fixing a severe look upon her.  “You depart for Lancashire to-morrow.  Have I your final answer?”

“You have, Sir Rowland,” she answered, in a feeble tone, but firmly.  “You shall have the sum you require, but——­”

“But what, Madam!”

“Do not misunderstand me,” she proceeded.  “I give it to King James—­not so you:  for the furtherance of a great and holy cause, not for the prosecution of wild and unprofitable schemes.”

Sir Rowland bit his lips to repress the answer that rose to them.

“And the will?” he said, with forced calmness.  “Do you still refuse to make one!”

“I have made one,” replied Lady Trafford.

“How?” cried her brother, starting.

“Rowland,” she rejoined, “you strive in vain to terrify me into compliance with your wishes.  Nothing shall induce me to act contrary to the dictates of my conscience.  My will is executed, and placed in safe custody.”

“In whose favour is it made?” he inquired, sternly.

“In favour of my son.”

“You have no son,” rejoined Sir Rowland, moodily.

“I had one,” answered his sister, in a mournful voice; “and, perhaps, I have one still.”

“If I thought so—­” cried the knight fiercely; “but this is idle,” he added, suddenly checking himself.  “Aliva, your child perished with its father.”

“And by whom were they both destroyed?” demanded his sister, raising herself by a painful effort, and regarding him with a searching glance.

“By the avenger of his family’s dishonour—­by your brother,” he replied, coolly.

“Brother,” cried Lady Trafford, her eye blazing with unnatural light, and her cheek suffused with a crimson stain:  “Brother,” she cried, lifting her thin fingers towards Heaven, “as God shall judge me, I was wedded to that murdered man!”

“A lie!” ejaculated Sir Rowland, furiously; “a black, and damning lie!”

“It is the truth,” replied his sister, falling backwards upon the couch.  “I will swear it upon the cross!”

“His name, then?” demanded the knight.  “Tell me that, and I will believe you.”

“Not now—­not now!” she returned, with a shudder.  “When I am dead you will learn it.  Do not disquiet yourself.  You will not have to wait long for the information.  Rowland,” she added, in an altered tone, “I am certain I shall not live many days.  And if you treat me in this way, you will have my death to answer for, as well as the deaths of my husband and child.  Let us part in peace.  We shall take an eternal farewell of each other.”

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Jack Sheppard from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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