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stream of the tenantry, thronging down the avenue, mixed with an occasional horseman, once or twice intercepted by a large lumbering carriage, bringing friends of the deceased, some really anxious to pay the last tribute of regard, but the majority attracted by the anticipated spectacle of a funeral by torchlight. There were others, indeed, to whom it was not matter of choice; who were compelled, by a vassal tenure of their lands, held of the house of Rookwood, to lend a shoulder to the coffin, and a hand to the torch, on the burial of its lord. Of these there was a plentiful muster collected in the hall; they were to be marshalled by Peter Bradley, who was deemed to be well skilled in the proceedings, having been present at two solemnities of the kind. That mysterious personage, however, had not made his appearance — to the great dismay of the assemblage. Scouts were sent in search of him, but they returned with the intelligence, that the door of his habitation was fastened, and its inmate apparently absent. N8 other tidings of the truant sexton could be obtained.
It was a sultry August evening. No breeze was stirring in the garden ; no cool dews refreshed the parched and heated earth; yet from the languishing flowers rich sweets exhaled. The plash of a fountain fell pleasantly upon the ear, conveying in its sound a sense of freshness to the fervid air ; — while deep and drowsy murmurs hummed heavily beneath the trees, making the twilight slumberously musical.
The westering sun, which had filled the atmosphere with flame throughout the day, was now wildly setting ; and, as he sank behind the hall, its varied and picturesque tracery became each instant more darkly and distinctly defined, against the crimson sky.
At this juncture a little gate, communicating with the chase, was thrown open, and a young man entered the garden, passing through the shrubbery, and hurrying rapidly forward till he arrived at a vista opening upon the house. The spot at which the stranger halted was marked by a little basin, scantily supplied with water, streaming from a lion's kingly jaws. His dress was travel-soiled, and dusty; and his whole appearance betokened great exhaustion, from heat and fatigue. Seating himself upon an adjoining bench, he threw off his riding-cap, and unclasped his collar, displaying a finely-turned head and neck; and a countenance which, besides its beauty, had that rare nobility of feature, which seldom falls to the lot of the aristocrat, but is never seen in one of an inferior order. A restless disquietude of manner showed that he was suffering from over-excitement of mind, as well as from bodily exertion. His look was wild and hurried ; his black ringlets were dashed heedlessly over a pallid, lofty brow, upon which care was prematurely written ; while his large melancholy eyes were bent, with a look almost of agony, upon the house before him.
After a short pause, and as if struggling against violent emotions, and some overwhelming remembrance, the youth arose, and plunged his hand into the basin, applying the moist element to his burning brow. Apparently becoming more calm, he bent his steps towards the hall, when two figures suddenly issuing from an adjoining copse, arrested his progress ; neither saw him. Muttering a hurried farewell, one of the figures disappeared within the shrubbery, and the other, confronting the stranger, displayed the harsh features and gaunt form of Peter Bradley. Had Peter encountered the dead Sir Piers in corporeal form, he could not have manifested more surprise than he exhibited, for an instant or two, as he shrunk back from the stranger's path.
AN IRISH ADVENTURER.
Scapin. A most outrageous, roaring fellow, with a swelled red face inflamed with brandy.-Cheats of Scapin. An hour or two prior to the incident just narrated, in a small cosy apartment of the hall, nominally devoted to justiciary business by its late owner, but, in reality, used as sanctum, snuggery, or smoking room, a singular trio were assembled, fraught with the ulterior purpose of attending the obsequies of their deceased patron and friend, though immediately occupied in the discussion of a magnum of excellent claret, the bouquet of which perfumed the air, like the fragrance of a bed of violets.
This little room had been poor Sir Piers's favourite retreat. It was, in fact, the only room in the house that he could call his own; and thither would he often, with pipe and punch, beguile the flagging hours, secure from interruption. A snug, old-fashioned apartment it was ; wainscotted with rich black oak; with a fine old cabinet of the same material, and a line or two of crazy, worm-eaten book-shelves, laden with sundry dusty, unconsulted law tomes, and a slight sprinkling of the elder divines, equally neglected. The only book, indeed, Sir Piers ever read, was the “ Anatomie of Melancholy," and he merely studied Burton because the quaint, racy style of the learned old hypochondriac suited his humour at seasons, and gave a zest to his sorrows, such as the olives lent to his wine.
Four portraits adorned the walls ; those of Sir Reginald Rookwood and his wives. The ladies were attired in the flowing drapery of Charles the Second's day, the snow of their radiant bosoms being somewhat sullied by over exposure, and the vermeil tinting of their cheeks darkened by the fumes of tobacco. There was
a shepherdess, with her taper crook, whose large, languishing eyes, ripe pouting lips, ready to melt into kisses, and air of voluptuous abandonment, scarcely suited the innocent simplicity of her costume. She was portrayed tending a flock of downy sheep, with azure ribands round their necks, accompanied by one of those invaluable little dogs, whose length of ear, and silkiness of skin, evinced him perfect in his breeding ; but whose large-eyed indifference to his charge, proved him to be as much out of character with his situation, as the refined and luxuriant charms of his mistress were out of keeping with her artless attire. This was Sir Piers's mother, the third wife, a beautiful woman, answering to the notion of one who had been somewhat of a flirt in her day. Next to her was a magnificent dame, with the throat and arm of a Juno, and a superb bust (the bust was, then, what the bustle is now—a paramount attraction—whether the modification be an improvement, we leave to the consideration of the lovers of the beautiful) - this was the dowager. Lastly, there was the lovely, and ill-fated Eleanor. Every gentle grace belonging to this unfortunate lady had been stamped in undying beauty on the canvass by the hand of Lely, breathing a spell on the picture, almost as powerful as that which had dwelt around the exquisite original. Over the high carved mantel-piece was suspended the portrait of Sir Reginald. It had been painted in early youth; the features were beautiful, disdainful, — with a fierceness breaking through the courtly air. The eyes were very fine, black as midnight, and piercing as those of Cæsar Borgia, in Raphael's wonderful picture of the fratricide duke, in the Borghese Palace at Rome. They seemed to fascinate the gazer to rivet his glances
to follow him whithersoever he went — and to search into his soul, as did the dark orbs of Sir Reginald in his lifetime. It was the work likewise of Lely, and had all the fidelity and graceful refinement of that great master; nor was the haughty countenance of Sir Reginald unworthy the patrician painter.
No portrait of Sir Piers was to be met with. But in lieu thereof, depending from a pair of buck's horns, hung the worthy knight's stained scarlet coat, (the same in which he had ridden forth, with the intent to hunt, on the eventful occasion detailed by Peter Bradley,) his velvet cap, his buck-handled whip, and the residue of his equipment for the chase. This attire was reviewed with melancholy interest and unaffected emotion by the company, as reminding them forcibly of the departed, of which it seemed a portion.
The party consisted of the vicar of Rookwood, Dr. Polyphemus Polycarp Small, Dr. Titus Tyrconnel, an emigrant, and empirical professor of medicine, from the sister isle, whose convivial habits had first introduced him to the hall, and afterwards retained him there, and Mr. Codicil Coates, clerk of the peace, attorney-at-law, bailiff, and receiver. We were wrong in saying that Tyrconnel was retained. He was an impudent, intrusive fellow, whom, having once gained a footing in the house, it was impossible to dislodge. He cared for no insult; perceived no slight; and professed, in her presence, the profoundest respect for Lady Rookwood : in short, he was ever ready to do any thing but depart.
Sir Piers was one of those people who cannot dine alone. He disliked a solitary repast almost as much as a tête-à-tête with his lady. He would have been recognised at once as the true Amphitryon, had any one been hardy enough to play the part of Jupiter. Ever ready to give a dinner, he found a difficulty arise, not usually experienced on such occasions there was no one upon whom to bestow it. He had the best of wine ; kept an excellent table ; was himself no niggard host; but his own merits, and those of his cuisine were forgotten in the invariable pendant to the feast ; and the best of wine lost
its flavour when the last bottle found its way to the guest's head. Dine alone Sir Piers would not. And as his old friends forsook him, he plunged lower in his search of society; collecting within his house a class of persons whom no one would have expected to meet at the Hall, nor even its owner have chosen for his companions, had any choice remained to him. He did not endure this state of things without much outward show of discontent. “ Any thing for a quiet life,” was his constant saying ; and, like the generality of people with whom those words form a favourite maxim, he led the most uneasy life imaginable. Endurance, to excite commiser. ation, must be uncomplaining an axiom the aggrieved of the gentle sex should remember. Sir Piers endured, but he grumbled lustily, and was on all hands voted a bore; domestic grievances, especially if the husband be the plaintiff, being the most intolerable of all mentionable miseries. No wonder that his friends deserted him ; still there was Titus Tyrconnel ; his ears and lips were ever open to pathos and to punch ; so Titus kept his station. Immediately after her husband's demise, it had been Lady Rookwood's intention to clear the house of all the “ vermin,” so she expressed herself, that had so long infested it; and forcibly to eject Titus, and one or two other intruders of the same class. But in consequence of certain hints received from Mr. Coates, who represented the absolute necessity of complying with Sir Piers's testamentary instructions, which were particular in that respect, she thought proper to defer her intentions until after the ceremonial of interment should be completed, and, in the mean time, strange to say, committed its arrangement to Titus Tyrconnel ; who, ever ready to accommodate, accepted, nothing loth, the charge, and acquitted himself admirably well in his undertaking : especially, as he said, “ in the aiting and drinking department - the most essential part of it all.” He kept open house — open dining-room open cellar ; resolved that his patron's funeral should emulate as much as possible an Irish burial on a grand scale, “ the finest sight," in his opinion, “ in the whole world.”
Inflated with the importance of his office, inflamed with heat, sat Titus, like a “robustious periwig-pated” alderman after a civic feast. The natural rubicundity of his countenance was darkened to a deep purple tint, like that of a full blown