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frustrated! It is not enough that my life shall be sought by some remorseless assassin, but it would seem that the curse, the hatred, and the malice with which I myself am pursued must be extended to all those on whom I bestow my love. Thus only can I account for the withering canker that tainted the first object of my affections; thus only can I explain the base and slanderous attack levelled against the immaculate Miss Norberry. What have I done to entail this persecution, this wretchedness upon myself and others? to be as a second Jonah, carrying with me storm and danger withersoever I go? But why should I be exempted from the common lot of man? Guilt and sorrow in this world, perdition and torment in the next, such is his dark doom. O miserable race of mortals! O world of bitterness and wo! O revolting present! O still more frightful future!"

In this strain did he continue for some time to ejaculate and to bewail himself. The hope that had latterly given sweetness to his life, was suddenly changed to gloominess and gall; a dark and disfiguring cloud seemed to have spread itself, like a pall over the whole face of creation; he retired to his room, and, refusing for several days to admit even the visits of Hargrave, abandoned himself to the blackest melancholy.

*

CHAPTER VI.

Put not yourself into amazement how these things should be; all difficulties are but easy when they are known. Measure for Measure.

PANTING for breath, trembling with agitation, and rendered still more pale from the transport of rage into which he had thrown himself, the gaunt cadaverous-looking stranger, whose sudden outrage upon Sir Dennis Lifford, in the very body of the church, had struck aghast the whole nuptial assemblage, advanced towards them, after having committed the bridegroom to the custody of the Bow Street officers, and, with a courteous demeanour, singularly at variance with the violence he had just been perpetrating, began to apologize for the alarm and disturbance he had inevitably occasioned. "What the devil!-hey!-hick!-apology!" interposed Sir Matthew, almost crimson with wrath, "knock me down, and ask pardon-pull my nose, and make me a bow-humbug! Fine words butter no parsnips. Tell 'ee what, sirrah! if'ee baint mad and just broke out o' Bedlam, I shall trouble 'ee for that horsewhip, and when we get out o' church, if I don't give 'ee a proper taste on't, my name's not Matt. Middleton."

Suiting the action to the word, he seized the right hand of the stranger, and was about to wrench the whip from his grasp, when Lord Arthur Pintown exclaimed, "Nay, Sir Matthew, you are an alderman and a man of peace, and had better leave the settlement of this affair to me. If this person be a gentleman, as his appearance really betokens, he will either give such an explanation of his conduct as may justify it, though that seems hardly possible, or he will do

me the honour of affording me satisfaction in the usual way for the gross insult offered to our whole party."

"Most willingly do I accept the alternative," said the stranger, politely bowing, "but surely this is no place for an éclaircissement, nor need the public be parties to it."

He glanced at the crowd that was pouring into the church, making all sorts of absurd inquiries; and as Sir Matthew and Lord Arthur immediately saw the force of this objection, they proposed an adjournment to the vestry-room, the former ejaculating, "Ay, we must look to dear Ciss: poor girl! frightened out of her wits, I dare say. Enough to make her: great scarecrow of a fellow; looks like the ghost of Magog: hey-what!-come along."

On their reaching the vestry, the inquisitive strangers who had intruded were ejected, the door was fastened: Cecilia, sitting beside an open window, and smelling to salts, had recovered from her faintness, though she was still mucli agitated, and the rest of the marriage-party were gathered together in the narrow apartment every eye bent eagerly upon the stranger, and every countenance expressing either surprise and curiosity, or indignation and alarm. "Ladies and gentlemen!" said the unknown, who had by this time recovered his breath and some portion of his self-possession, while his wild and haggard looks were now tempered by much suavity of manner, "I ought to begin by apologizing for the confusion and terror of which I have been the occasion, but really I feel so delighted, so overjoyed at the thought of my having reached the church in time to prevent the completion of this fellow's infamous design, that I can only congratulate you, as I do from the very bottom of my heart, on your escape from a calamity which would have plunged you all into the deepest distress. You, sir, I presume, are Sir Matthew Middleton. I give you joy that your daughter has been snatched from a treacherous and cruel snare, and I flatter myself when you know who and what I am, you will be spared the trouble of attempting to apply my horsewhip in the way you meditated." A slight tinge of his pallid cheek and an air of dignified pride accompanied these words."

"Fegs! I don't know that," cried the Baronet, "that's hereafter as may be-like to pay as I go-shan't let you slip in a hurry-don't throw away clean water till I get dirty-fair speak and nose tweak won't do for me— -tell 'ee that plump-hey!-what!-hick !”

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Come, sir," said Lord Arthur, with the air of a man

who would not be denied, "we require neither preamble nor congratulation, but insist upon knowing, before we proceed to farther measures, who and what you are."

"You shall be satisfied," was the reply; "I am Sir Dennis Lifford, Baronet, of Castle Moila, in the county of Galway." "You Sir Dennis Lifford !" exclaimed every voice, in various tones of surprise and incredulity.

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Humbug!" cried Sir Matthew, again reddening with choler. "Old birds not caught with chaff.—This cockand-a-bull story is too ridiculous to be believed."

"You will find it a truth, nevertheless, which I have abundant means of establishing, as well as the farther and more startling fact, that the scoundrel who has lately been presuming to figure in my character, and whose audacity, aggravated by the basest ingratitude, I could not, in the passion of the moment, refrain from chastising with my own hand, though I ought to have left so vile a culprit to the vengeance of the law, was lately my valet!"

A scream of horror from several of the ladies thrilled through the narrow apartment; the word "Impossible!" was ejaculated by others, with an indignant shake of the head; while poor Cecilia, leaning upon her mother for support, and bursting into tears, seemed utterly overcome by her feelings.

"Let me explain," resumed the real Sir Dennis, "the unfortunate combination of circumstances that enabled this fellow to personate me for such a length of time without contradiction or discovery, and your doubts-for some of you, I perceive, are not yet satisfied as to my identity-will be immediately dispelled. His nefarious project was not so wild and desperate as it might seem, for as his name is really Dennis Lifford, no uncommon one in the county of Galway, his marriage, had it been completed, might have been held valid, and he would, at all events, have possessed the means of obtaining his wife's portion, which was doubtless the rascal's object, or of extorting money for consenting to a divorce or separation. In point of fact, he is the son of an obscure pork-butcher at Tuam."

Lady Middleton, blushing with mingled anger and confusion, and unable to lift up her eyes from the ground, reiterated the hideous word with a shudder of ineffable disgust; Cecilia groaned audibly; the elder Miss Gauntley covertly withdrew her bouquet of orange-flower blossoms, but not so adroitly as to be unobserved by her sister, who immediately followed her example; Mrs. Borroughs slipped out of the

room unobserved, and hurried home to consult Dominick! the rest of the females, most of them smelling to their vinaigrettes, gazed at one another with a very sheepish and lackadaisical expression of nausea; while Sir Matthew exclaimed, "Curse the fellow's impudence! was it the son, then, of an obscure pork-butcher who always affected such a contempt for the rabble, and the mob, and all vulgarians of the lower orders, and gave himself the airs of a dandy, and an exquisite, and a man of birth ?—Ay, ay, set a beggar on horseback ride to the devil. Why, Meg, you always said he had the manners of a complete man of fashion-no judge myself-thought him always a fool and a fop-not the less fashionable for that; had 'em there.-If this all true, we shall look like a precious set of asses! But don't understand yet. How could the fellow make such an appearance, and carry off his imposture so cunningly? Strange affair-hey!-what!-hick!"

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"I believe I can render it more intelligible to you," resumed the genuine Sir Dennis. Having received a decent education at Tuam, and being immeasurably vain of his supposed talents and good looks, he determined on seeking his fortune in Dublin, where, however, he would have starved, but that a distant relative took compassion on him, received him into his shop, and taught him his own business of a hair-dresser, which he practised for several years."

Lady Middleton, biting her lip till the blood was ready to start, but without raising her abashed eyes, echoed the hateful word, "Hair-dresser!" Cecilia gave a second groan; Miss Curzon Chilvers plucked off her white favour with a most distasteful look, and threw it scornfully upon the ground; the other bridesmaids did the same; Lady Selina Silverthorpe, decamping without beat of drum, slipped out of the room and into her carriage, anxious to obtain some compensation for her offended feelings by being the first to spread the strange tidings through the town; while Sir Matthew cried, "Damn the fellow! I might have suspected as much. That was the reason, then, why the rascal was always flourishing his little comb, and twiddling his locks and whiskers in the glass, and noticing every body's headdress. Ah! what's bred in bone never out o' the flesh. Sheep in wolf's clothing after all. Ha! thrown off mask, and shown cloven foot-scoundrel!"

"How intolerably provoking!" said Lord Arthur, "that the creature should be absolutely too contemptible to fight, kick, or horsewhip. Never was so galled and bamboozled

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