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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 17, 1862

This site features the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This research resource will yield new insights into this important part of American History.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)

 

Rebel Soldiers

Rebel Soldiers

Censorship

Censorship

New Orleans

Surrender of New Orleans

David Farragut

David Farragut

Virginia Map

Map of Virginia

Faragut's Fleet

Farragut's Fleet

Fort Macon

Capture of Fort Macon

Belle Reynolds

Belle Reynolds

Cavalry Charge

Cavalry Charge

Fort Macon

Battle of Fort Macon

Farragut's Ships

Commodore Farragut's Ships

Secession Cartoon

Secession Cartoon

 

 

 

MAY 17, 1862.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

317

[Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1862, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.]

NO NAME.

BY WILKIE COLLINS,

AUTHOR OF "THE WOMAN IN WHITE," "DEAD
SECRET," ETC., ETC.

CHAPTER XV.

Ox the next morning but one news was received from Mr. Pendril. The place of Michael Vanstone's residence on the Continent had been discovered. He was living at Zurich, and a letter had been dispatched to him at that place on the day when the information was obtained. In the course of the coming week an answer might be expected, and the purport of it should be communicated forthwith to the ladies at Combe-Raven.

Short as it was the interval of delay passed wearily. Ten days elapsed before the expected answer was received; and when it came at last it proved to be, strictly speaking, no answer at all. Mr. Pendril had been merely referred to an agent in London who was in possession of Michael Vanstone's instructions. Certain difficulties had been discovered in connection with those instructions, which had produced the necessity of once more writing to Zurich. And there "the negotiations" rested again for the present.

A second paragraph in Mr. Pendril's letter contained another piece of intelligence entirely new. Mr. Michael Vanstone's son (and only child), Mr. Noel Vanstone, had recently arrived in London, and was then staying in lodgings occupied by his cousin, Mr. George Bartram. Professional considerations had induced Mr. Pendril to pay a visit to the lodgings. He had been very kindly received by Mr. Bartram, but had been informed by that gentleman that his cousin was not then in a condition to see visitors. Mr. Noel Vanstone had been suffering for some years past from a wearing and obstinate malady; he had come to England expressly to obtain the best medical advice, and he still felt the fatigue of the journey so severely as to be confined to his bed. Under these circumstances, Mr. Pendril had no alternative but to take his leave. An interview with Mr. Noel Vanstone might have cleared up some of the difficulties in connection with his father's instructions. As events had turned out there was no help for it but to wait for a few days more.

The days passed, the empty days of solitude and suspense. At last a third letter from the lawyer announced the long-delayed conclusion of the correspondence. The final answer had been

received from Zurich, and Mr. Pendril would personally communicate it, at Combe-Raven, on the afternoon of the next day.

That next day was Wednesday, the twelfth of August. The weather had changed in the night, and the sun rose watery through mist and cloud. By noon the sky was overcast at all points; the temperature was sensibly colder; and the rain poured down, straight and soft and steady, on the thirsty earth. Toward three o'clock Miss Garth and Norah entered the morning-room to await Mr. Pendril's arrival. They were joined shortly afterward by Magdalen. In half an hour more the familiar fall of the iron latch in

the socket reached their ears from the fence beyond the shrubbery. Mr. Pendril and Mr. Clare advanced into view along the garden path, walking arm in arm through the rain, sheltered by the same umbrella. The lawyer bowed as they passed the windows: Mr. Clare walked straight on, deep in his own thoughts, noticing nothing.

After a delay which seemed interminable; after a weary scraping of wet feet on the hall mat; after a mysterious, muttered interchange of question and answer outside the door, the two came in—Mr. Clare leading the way. The old man walked straight up to the table without any preliminary greeting, and looked across it at the three women with a stern pity for them in his rugged, wrinkled face.

"Bad news," he said. "I am an enemy to all unnecessary suspense. Plainness is kindness in such a case as this. I mean to be kind; and I tell you plainly—bad news."

Mr. Pendril followed him. He shook hands, in silence, with Miss Garth and the two sisters, and took a seat near them. Mr. Clare placed himself apart on a chair by the window. The gray rainy light fell soft and sad on the faces of Norah and Magdalen, who sat together opposite to him. Miss Garth had placed herself a little behind them, in partial shadow; and the lawyer's quiet face was seen in profile, close beside her. So the four occupants of the room appeared to Mr. Clare, as he sat apart in his corner; his long claw-like fingers interlaced on his knee; his dark vigilant eyes fixed searchingly now on one face, now on another. The dripping rustle of the rain among the leaves, and the clear, ceaseless tick of the clock on the mantle-piece, made the minute of silence which followed the settling of the persons present in their places indescribably oppressive. It was a relief to everyone when Mr. Pendril spoke.

"Mr. Clare has told you already," he began, "that I am the bearer of bad news. I am grieved to say, Miss Garth, that your doubts, when I last saw you, were better founded than my hopes. What that heartless elder brother was in his youth he is still in his old age. In all my unhappy experience of the worst side of human nature, I have never met with a man so utterly dead to every consideration of mercy as Michael Vanstone."

"Do you mean that he takes the whole of his brother's fortune, and makes no provision whatever for his brother's children?" asked Miss Garth.

"He offers a sum of money for present emergencies," replied Mr. Pendril, "so meanly and disgracefully insufficient that I am ashamed to mention it."

"And nothing for the future?"

"Absolutely nothing."

As that answer was given the same thought passed, at the same moment, through Miss Garth's mind and through Norah's. The decision which deprived both the sisters alike of the resources of fortune did not end there for the younger of the two. Michael Vanstone's merciless resolution had virtually pronounced the sentence which dismissed Frank to China, and which destroyed all present hope of Magdalen's marriage. As the words passed the lawyer's lips Miss Garth and Norah looked at Magdelen

anxiously. Her face turned a shade paler, but not a feature of it moved; not a word escaped her. Norah, who held her sister's hand in her own, felt it tremble for a moment, and then turn cold—and that was all. "Let me mention plainly what I have done," resumed Mr. Pendril; "I am very desirous you should not think that I have left any effort untried. When I wrote to Michael Vanstone, in the first instance, I did not confine myself to the usual formal statement. I put before him, plainly and earnestly, every one of the circumstances under which he has become possessed of his brother's fortune. When I received the answer, referring me to his written instructions to his lawyer in London—and when a copy of those instructions was placed in my hands—I positively declined, on becoming acquainted with them, to receive the writer's decision as final. I induced the solicitor on the other side to accord us a further term of delay; I attempted to see Mr. Noel Vanstone in London for the purpose of obtaining his intercession; and, failing in that, I myself wrote to his father for the second time. The answer referred me, in insolently curt terms, to the instructions already communicated; declared those instructions to be final; and declined any further correspondence with me. There is the beginning and the end of the negotiation. If I have overlooked any means of touching this heartless man, tell me, and those means shall be tried." He looked at Norah. She pressed her sister's hand encouragingly, and answered for both of them. "I speak for my sister as well as for myself," she said, with her color a little heightened, with her natural gentleness of manner just touched by a quiet, uncomplaining sadness. "You have done all that could be done, Mr. Pendril. We have tried to restrain ourselves from hoping too confidently; and we are deeply grateful for your kindness, at a time when kindness is sorely needed by both of us." Magdalen's hand returned the pressure of her sister's—withdrew itself—trifled for a moment impatiently with the arrangement of her dress—then suddenly moved the chair closer to the table. Leaning one arm on it (with the hand fast clenched), she looked across at Mr. Pendril. Her face, always remarkable for its want of color, was now startling to contemplate in its blank, bloodless pallor. But the light in her large gray eyes was bright and steady as ever; and her voice, though low in tone, was clear and resolute in accent as she addressed the lawyer in these terms: "I understood you to say, Mr. Pendril, that now father's brother had sent his written orders to London, and that you had a copy. Have you preserved it?"

"Certainly."

"Have you got it about you?"

"I have."

"May I see it?"

Mr. Pendril hesitated and looked uneasily from Magdalen to Miss Garth, and from Miss Garth back again to Magdalen.

"Pray oblige use by not pressing your request," he said. "It is surely enough that you know the result of the instructions. Why should you agitate yourself to no purpose by reading them? They are expressed so cruelly; they show such abominable want of feeling, that I

MRS. MAJOR BELLE REYNOLDS.—PHOTOGRAPHED BY COLE, OF PEORIA, ILLINOIS.—[SEE PAGE 306.]

"'READY?' HE ASKED, STOPPING SHORT AFTER A WHILE."

Picture
Picture
Picture

 

 

  

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