THE SHADOW OF ASI1LYDYAT
Pierce was opening the street-door.
" Mamma, you have not read me a
Bible story !" Meta could not re-
member when that customary after-
breakfast routine had been dispensed
with before, and was surprised.
" No, darling. Perhaps I can read
you one to-night."
" As if Bible stories did any good
to children so young as Meta !" remark-
ed Charlotte, tossing up the scarlet
tuft. "It's quite waste of time, Mrs.
George Godolphin. I'd rather amuse
a child of mine with half a column of
Be IPs Life."
Maria made no answering reply.
She kissed again the little face held
up to her, and they finally departed.
Maria rang for the breakfast-things to
be removed. It was soon done, and
then she sat on with her load of care,
and her new apprehensions. These
agreeable visitors that Charlotte warn-
ed her of ā she wondered that Thomas
had not mentioned it. Would they
take all the clothes she had up-stairs,
leaving her only what she stood up-
right in? Would they take Meta's?
Would they take her husband's out of
his drawers and places ? Would they
take the keeper off her finger ? It
was studded with diamonds. Char-
lotte had said they would only leave
her her wedding-ring. These thoughts
were troubling and perplexing her ;
but only in a degree. Compared to
that other terrible thought, they were
as nothing, ā the uncertain fear re-
garding her husband which had been
whispered to her by the careless sailor,
BEARING THE BRUNT.
Thomas Godolphin sat in the bank-
parlor, bearing the brunt of the shock.
With his pain upon him, mental and
bodily, he was facing all the trouble
that George ought to have faced :
the murmurs, the questions, the re-
All was known. All was known to
Thomas Godolphin. Not alone to him.
Could Thomas have kept the terrible
facts within his own breast, have
shielded his brother's reputation still,
he would have done it : but that was
impossible. In becoming known to
Mr. Godolphin, it had become known
to others. The discovery had been
made jointly, by Thomas and by cer-
tain business gentlemen, when he was
in London on the Saturday afternoon.
Treachery upon treachery ! The long
course of deceit on George Godolphin's
part had come out. Falsified books,
wrongly rendered accounts, good se-
curities replaced by false, false bal-
ance-sheets. Had Thomas Godolphin
been less blindly trustful in George's
honor and integrity, it could never
have been so effectually accomplished.
George Godolphin was the acting
manager : and Thomas, in his perfect
trust, combined with his failing
health, had left things latterly almost
entirely in George's hands. " What
business had he so to leave them V
people were asking now. Perhaps
Thomas's own conscience was asking
the same. But why should he not
have left things to him, considering
that he /laced in him the most im-
plicit confidence ? Surely, no unpre-
judiced man would say Thomas Go-
dolphin had been guilty of impru-
dence. George was fully equal to the
business confided to him, in point of
power, of capacity; and it could not
certainly matter which of the brothers,
equal partners, equal heads of the firm,
took its practical management. It
would seem not : and yet they were
blaming Thomas Godolphin now.
Failures of this nature have been
recorded before, where fraud has
played its part. We have only to
look to the records of our law courts
ā criminal, bankruptcy, and civil ā for
examples. To transcribe the precise
means by which George Godolphin
had contrived to bear on in a course
of deceit, to elude the suspicion of the
THE SHADOW OF ASHLYDYAT
world in general, and the vigilance
of his own house, would only be to
recapitulate what has often been told
In the public papers ; and told to so
much more purpose than I could tell
it. It is rather with what may be
called the domestic phrase of these
tragedies that I would deal : the pri-
vate, home details, the awful wreck
of peace, of happiness caused there.
The world knows enough (rather too
much, sometimes) of the public part
of these affairs ; but what does it know
of the part behind the curtain ? ā the,
if it may be so said, inner aspect ?
I knew a gentleman years ago who
was a partner in a country banking-
house, ā a sleeping partner ; and the
bank failed, ā failed ^hrough a long-
continued course of treachery on the
part of one connected with it, ā some-
thing like that described to you as
pursued by Mr. George Godolphin.
This gentleman (of whom I tell you)
was to be held responsible for the
losses, creditors and others decided,
the real delinquent having disap-
peared, ā escaped beyond their reach.
They lavished upon him harsh names :
rogue, thief, swindler ! while, in point
of fact, he was as innocent and un-
conscious of what had happened as
they were. He gave up all he had ;
the bulk of his means had gone with
the bank ; and he went out of the hear-
ing of his abusers for a while, until
things should be smoother, ā perhaps
the bad man caught. A short time,
and he became ill, and a medical man
was called in to him. Another short
time, and he was dead ; and the doc-
tors said ā I heard them say it ā that
his malady had been brought on by
grief; that he had, in fact, died of a
broken heart. He was a kindly gen-
tleman ; a good husband, a good father,
a good neighbor ; a single-hearted,
honest man ; the very soul of kind-
ness and honor : but he was misjudged
by those who ought to have known
him better ; and he died for it. I
wonder what the real rogue felt when
he heard of the death ? He was a
relative. There are many such cases
in the world ; where reproachful abuse
is levelled at one whose heart is
There appeared to be little doubt
that George Godolphin's embarrass-
ments had commenced years ago. It
is more than probable that the money
borrowed from Terrall during that
short sojourn in Homberg had been
its precursor. Once in the hands of
the clever charlatan, the crafty, un-
scrupulous bill-discounter, who grew
fat on the folly of others, his down-
ward course was perhaps not easy or
swift, but at all events sure. If
George Godolphin had but been a lit-
tle more clear-sighted, the evil might
never have come. Could he but have
seen Terrall at the first onset, as he
was, ā not the gentleman, the good-
hearted man, as George credulously
believed, but the low fellow who
traded on the needs of others, the de-
signing sharper, looking ever after
his prey, ā George would have flung
him far away, with no other feeling
than contempt. George Godolphin
was not born a rogue. George was
by nature a gentleman, and an open-
handed one, too ; but, once in the
clutches of Terrall, he was no more
able to escape than are the unhappy
flies who go buzzing against the shi-
ning papers placed to catch them, and
there stick. Bit by bit, step by step,
gradually, imperceptibly, George found
himself stuck. He awoke to the fact
that he could neither stir upwards nor
downwards. He could not. extricate
himself; he could not go on without
exposure ; Terrall, or Te mill's agents,
those working in concert with him,
though not ostensibly, stopped the
supplies, and George was in a fix.
Then began the frauds upon the bank.
Slightly at first. It was only a choice
between that and exposure. Between
that and ruin, it may be said, for
George's liabilities were so great, that,
if brought to a climax, they must then
have caused the bank to stop, involving
Thomas in ruin as well as himself. In
his sanguine temperament, too, he was
always hoping that some lucky turn
would redeem the bad and bring all to
rights again. It was Terrall who
THE SHADOW OF ASIILYDYAT.
urged him on. It was Yerrall who,
with Machiavellian craft, made the
wrong appear the right ; it was Yer-
rall who had filled his pockets with
the emptiness of George's. That Yer-
rall had been the arch-tempter, and
George the arch-dupe, was clear as
the sun at noonday to those who were
behind the scenes. Unfortunately,
but very few were behind the scenes
so far ā they might be counted by
units ā and Yerrall and Co. could still
blazon it before the world.
The wonder was, where the money
had gone. It very often is the wonder
in these cases, ā a wonder too often
never solved. An awful amount of
money had gone in some way ; the
mystery was, how. George Godol-
phin had kept up a large establish-
ment; bad been personally extrava-
gant, privately as well as publicly ;
but that did not serve to account for
the half of the money missing ; not
for a quarter of it ; nay, scarcely for
a tithe. Had it been to save himself
from hanging, George himself could
not have told how or where it had
gone. When the awful sum total
came to be added up, to stare him in
the face, he looked at it in blank
amazement. And he had no good to
show for it ā none ; the money had
melted, and he could not tell how.
Of course, it had gone to the dis-
counters. The tide of discounting
once set in, it was something like the
nails in the horse-shoe, doubling, and
doubling, and doubling. The money
went, and there was nothing to show
for it : little marvel that George Go-
dolphin stood aghast at the sum total
of the whole, when the amount was
raked up, ā or as near the amount as
could be guessed at. When George
could no longer furnish legitimate
funds on his own account, the bank
was laid under contribution to supply
them, and George had to enter upon
a system of ingenuity to hide the out-
goings. When those contributions
had been levied to the very utmost
extent compatible with safety, with
the avoidance of sudden and imme-
diate non-discovery, and George was
at his wits' end for money, which he
must have, then Yerrall whispered
of a way which George at first re-
volted from, but which resulted in the
taking of the deeds of Lord Averil.
Had the crash not come as it did,
other deeds might have been taken.
It is impossible to say. Such a course
once entered on is always down hill.
Like some other downward courses,
the only safety lies in not yielding to
it at the first temptation.
Strange to say, George Godolphin
could not see the rogue's part played
by Yerrall ; or at best, he saw it but
very imperfectly. And yet, not strange,
for there are many of these cases in
the world. George had been on inti-
mate terms of friendship with Yer-
rall ; had been lie, it may be said,
with him and Lady Godolphin's Folly.
Mrs. Yerrall was pretty. Charlotte had
her attractions. Altogether, George
believed yet in Yerrall. Let the dag-
ger's point be but decked tastefully
with flowers, and men will rush blindly
on to it.
Thomas Godolphin sat, some books
before him, pondering the one weighty
question ā where could all the money
have gone ? Lentil the present mo-
ment, this morning, when he had the
books before him and his thoughts
were more practically directed to busi-
ness details, he had been pondering
another weighty question, ā where had
George's integrity gone ? Whither
had flown his pride in his fair, good
name, the honor of the Godolphins ?
From the Saturday afternoon when
the dreadful truth came to light, Thom-
as had had little else in his thoughts.
It was his companion through the
Sunday, through the night journey
afterwards down to Prior's Ash. He
was more fit to be in his bed than to
take that journey ; but he must face
the exasperated men from whom
George had flown.
He was facing them now. People
had been coming in since nine o'clock
with their reproaches, and Thomas
Godolphin bore them patiently and
answered them meekly, ā the tones of
his voice low, subdued, as if they came
THE SHADOW OF AS II L YD Y AT.
from the sadness of a stricken heart.
He felt their wrongs keenly. Could
he have paid these injured men by
cutting himself to pieces, and satisfied
them with the " pound of flesh," he
Avould have done so, oh, how willingly !
He would have sacrificed his life and
his happiness (his happiness 1), and
done it cheerfully, if by that means
they could have been paid.
" It's nothing but a downright
swindle. I'll say it sir, to your face,
and I can't help saying it. Here I
bring the two thousand pound in my
hand, and I say to Mr. George Godol-
phin, 'Will it be safe?' 'Yes,' he
answers me, 'it will be safe.' And
now the bank has shut itself up, and
Where's my money ?"
The speaker was Barnaby, the corn-
dealer. What was Thomas Godolphin
to answer ?
" You told me, sir, on Saturday,
that the bank would open again to-
day for business, ā that the customers
would be paid in full."
" I told you but what I believed,"
rose the quiet voice of Thomas Go-
dolphin in answer. " Mr. Barnaby,
believe me, this blow has come upon
no one more unexpectedly than it has
" Well, sir, I don't know what may
be your mode of carrying on business,
but I should be ashamed to conduct
mine so as to let ruin come slap upon
me and not to have seen it coming."
Again, what was Thomas Godol-
phin to answer ? Generous to the end,
he would not say, "My brother has
played us both, alike, false." " If I
find that any care or caution of mine
could have averted this, Mr. Barnaby,
) shall carry the remorse to my grave,"
was all he said.
" What sort of a dividend will there
be ?" went on the dealer.
" I really cannot tell you yet, Mr.
Barnaby. I have no idea. We must
have time to go through the books."
" Where is Mr. George Godolphin ?"
resumed the applicant ; and it was a
very natural question. "Mr. Hurde
says he is away, but it is strange he
should be away at such a time as this.
I should like to ask him a question or
" He is in London," replied Thomas
" But what's he gone to London
for now ? And when is he coming
More puzzling questions. Thomas
had to bear the pain of many such
that day. He did not say, "My
brother is gone we know not why ; in
point of fact, he has run away." He
spoke aloud the faint hopes that rose
within his own breast, ā that some
train, ere the day was over, would
bring him back to Prior's Ash.
" Don't you care, Mr. Godolphin,"
came the next wailing plaint, " for the
ruin that the loss of this money will
bring upon me ? I have a wife and
" I do care," Thomas answered, his
throat husky and a mist in his eyes.
"For every pang that this calamity
will inflict on others, it inflicts two on
Mr. Hurde, who was busy with
more books in his own department, in
conjunction with some clerks, came in
to ask a question, his pen behind his
ear ; and Mr. Barnaby, seeing no
good to be derived from stopping,
went out. Little respite had Thomas
Godolphin. The next to come in was
Rector of All Souls'.
" What is to become of me ?" was
his saluting question, spoken in his
clear, decisive tone. " How am I
to refund this money to the little Chis-
Thomas Godolphin had no satisfac-
tory reply to make. He missed the
friendly hand held out hitherto in
greeting. Mr. Hastings did not take
a chair, but stood up near the table,
firm, stern, uncompromising.
" I hear George is off," he con-
" He is gone to London, Maria
informs me," replied Thomas Godol-
" Mr. Godolphin, can you sit there
and tell me that you had no suspicion
THE SHADOW OF ASHLYDYAT.
of the way things were turning ?
That this ruin has come on, and you
" I had no suspicion ; none what-
ever. None can be more utterly sur-
prised than I. There are moments
when a feeling comes over me that it
cannot be true."
" Could you live in intimate associa-
tion with your brother, and not see
that he was turning out a rogue and
vagabond ?" went on the rector, in his
keenest and most cynical tone.
" I knew nothing, I suspected noth-
ing," was the quiet reply of Thomas.
" How dared he take that money from
me the other night, when he knew that
he was on the verge of ruin ?" asked Mr.
Hastings. " He took it from me ; he
never entered it in the books ; he ap-
plied it, there's no doubt, to his own
infamous purposes. When a suspicion
was whispered to me afterwards that
the bank was wrong, I came here to
him. I candidly spoke of what I had
heard, and asked him to return me
the money, as a friend, a relative.
Did he return it ? No ; his answer
was a false, plausible assurance that
the money and the bank were alike
safe. What does he call it ? Rob-
bery ? It is worse ; it is deceit, fraud,
vile swindling. In the old days,
luanv a man has swung for less, Mr.
Thomas Godolphin could not gain-
" Nine thousand and forty-five
pounds !" continued the rector. " How
am I to make it good ? How am I
to fmd money only for the education
of Chishohn's children ? He confided
them and their money to me ; and how
have I repaid the trust ?"
Every word he spoke was as a dag-
ger entering the heart of Thomas Go-
dolphin. He could only sit still and
bear. Had the malady that was car-
rying him to the grave never before
shown itself, the days of anguish he
had now entered on would have been
sufficient to induce it.
" If I find that Maria knew of this,
that she was in league with her hus-
band to deceive me, I shall feel in-
clined to discard her from my affec-
tions from henceforth," resumed the
indignant rector. " It was an unlucky
day when I gave my consent to her
marrying George Godolphin. I never
liked his addressing her. It must
have been instinct warned me against
" I am convinced that Maria has
known nothing," said Thomas Godol-
phin. Ā« She "
Mr. Godolphin stopped. Angry
sounds had arisen outside, and pres-
ently the door was violently opened,
and quite a crowd of clamorous people
came in, ready to abuse Thomas Go-
dolphin, George not being there to re-
ceive the abuse. There was no ques-
tion but that day's work took weeks
from his short span of remaining life.
Could a man's heart break summarily,
Thomas Godolphin's would have
broken then. Many men would have
retaliated : he felt their griefs, their
wrongs, as keenly as they did. They
told him of their ruin, of the desola-
tion, the misery it would bring to
them, to their wives and families ;
some spoke in a respectful tone of
quiet plaint, some were loud, unrea-
sonable, half-insulting. They demand-
ed to know what dividend there would
be ; some asked in a covert tone to
have their bit of money returned in
full ; some gave vent to most unortho-
dox language touching George Godol-
phin ; they openly expressed their
opinion that Thomas was conniving
at his absence ; they hinted that he
was as culpable as the other.
None of them appeared to glance at
the great fact ā that Thomas Godol-
phin was the greatest sufferer of all.
If they had lost part of their means,
he had lost all of his. Did they re-
member that this terrible misfortune,
which they were blaming him for,
would leave him a beggar upon the
face of the earth ? He, a gentleman
born to wealth, to Ashlydyat, to a po-
sition of standing in the county, to
honor, to respect ? It had all been
rent away by the blow, leaving him
homeless and penniless, sick with an
incurable malady. Had they but re-
THE SHADOW OF ASHLYDYAT.
fleeted, they might have found that
Thomas Godolphin deserved their con-
dolence rather than their abuse.
But they were in no mood to reflect,
or to spare him in their angry feelings.
They gave vent to all the soreness
within them, ā and perhaps it was ex-
The rector of All Souls' had had his
say, and he strode forth. Making his
way to the dining-room, he knocked
sharply with his stick on the door,
and then entered. Maria rose up and
came forward, something very like
terror on her face. The knock had
frightened her: it had conjured up
visions of the visitors suggested by
Mrs. Charlotte Pain.
" Where is George Godolphin ?"
" He is in London, papa," she an-
swered, her heart sinking at the stern
tone, the abrupt greeting.
" When do you expect him home ?"
" I do not know. He did not tell
me when he went, except that he
should be home soon. Will you not
sit down, papa ?"
" Xo. When I brought that money
here the other night, the nine thousand
and forty-five pounds," he continued,
touching her shoulder to command her
full attention, " could you not have
opened your lips to tell me that it
would be safer in my own house than
in this ?"
Maria was seized with an inward
trembling. She could not bear to be
spoken to in that stern tone by her
father. " Papa, I could not tell you.
1 did not know it."
" Do you wish to tell mo that you
knew nothing ā nothing ā of the state
of your husband's affairs, of the ruin
that was impending?"
"I knew nothing," she answered.
" Until the bank closed on Saturday,
I was in total ignorance that any thing
was wrong. I never had the remotest
suspicion of it."
" Then, I think, Maria, you ought
to have had it. Humor says that you
are owing a great deal of money in
the town for your personal necessaries,
housekeeping and the like."
" There is a good deal owing, I
fear," she answered. " George has
not given me the money to pay regu-
larly of late, as he used to do."
"And did that not serve to open
your eyes ?"
" No," she faintly said. " I never
cast a thought to any thing being
She spoke meekly, softly, something
like Thomas Godolphin had spoken.
The rector looked at her pale, sad
face, and perhaps a feeling of pity for
his daughter came over him, however
bitter he may have felt towards her
"Well, it is a terrible thing for us
all," he said, in a kinder voice, as he
turned to move away.
"Will you not wait, and sit down,
" I have not the time now. Good-
As he went out, there stood, gathered
against the wall, waiting to go in, Mrs.
Bond. Her face was rather red this
morning, and a perfume ā certainly
not of plain water ā might be detected
in her vicinity. Her snuffy-black
gown went down in a reverence as he
passed. The rector of All Souls'
strode on. Care was too great at his
heart to allow of his paying attention
to extraneous things, even though they
appeared in the shape of attractive
A FIERY TRIAL.
Maria GoDOLrnm, her face buried
on the sofa cushions, where she had
sunk on the departure of the Reverend
Mr. Hastings, was giving way to tho
full tide of unhappy thought induced
by that gentleman's words, when she
became aware that she was not alone.
A sound, half a grunt, half a sob,
coming from near the door, aroused
her. There stood a lady, in a crushed
bonnet and unwholesome stuff gown
that had once been black, with a red
THE SHADOW OP ASHLYDYAT.
face, and a perfume of strong waters
Maria rose from the sofa, her heart
sinking. How should she meet this
woman ? how find an excuse for the
money which she had not to give ?
"Good-morning, Mrs. Bond."
Mrs. Bond took a few steps for-
ward, and held on by the table. Not
that she was past the power of hold-
ing herself; her face must be redder
than it was, by some degrees, ere she
lost that ; but she had a knack of
holding on to things.
" I have come for my ten-pound
note, if you please, ma'am."
Few can imagine what this moment
was to Maria Godolphin ; for few
are endowed with the sensitiveness
of temperament, the refined considera-
tion for the feelings of others, the
acute sense of justice, which charac-
terized her. Maria would willingly
have given a hundred pounds to have
had ten then. How she made the
revelation, she scarcely knew, ā that
she had not the money that morning
Mrs. Bond's face turned rather
defiant. " You told me to come down
for it, ma'am."
"I thought I could have given it to
you. I am very sorry. I must trou-
ble you to come when Mr. George
Godolphin shall have returned home."
" Is he going to return ?" asked
Mrs. Bond, in a quick, hard tone.
" Folks is saying that he isn't."
Maria's heart beat painfully at the
words. Was he going to return ?
She could only say aloud that she
hoped he would very soon be home.
" But I want my money," resumed
Mrs. Bond, standing her gound. " I
must have it, ma'am, if you please."
" I have not got it," said Maria.
" The very instant I have it it shall
be returned to you."
" I'd make bold to ask, ma'am,
what right you had to spend it.
Warn't there enough money in the
bank of other folks's as you might
have took, without taking mine ā
which 3-0U had promised to keep