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WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

VOL. III.



Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign



http://www.archive.org/details/wilfridcumbermed03macd



WILFRID CUMBEMEDE



GEORGE MAC DONALD, L.L.D.

AUTHOR OF

• k KOBERT FALCONER," " DAVID ELGINBROD,
"ALEC FORBES OF HOWGLEN,"
&c. &c.



IN THREE VOLUMES.
VOL. III.



LONDON:
HURST AND BLACKETT, PUBLISHERS,

13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
1872.

Tin right of Translation is rtstrved.



londoj* :

PRINTED BY MACDONAU) AND TUGWELL, BLENHKDM HOUSE,
BIJSNBETM STREET, OXFORD STREET.



%2S
v,3



CONTENTS



OF



THE THIRD VOLUME



UHAPTEE


PAGE


I. The Sword in the Scale .


1


II. I Part with my Sword


26


III. Umberden Church ....


43


IV. My Folio


56


V. The Letters and Their Story .


63


VI. Only a Link


73


VII. A Disclosure


81


VIII. The Dates .


97


IX. Charley and Clara ....


104


X. LlLITH MEETS WITH A MISFORTUNE


116


XI. Too Late


. 130


XII. Isolation


156


XIII. Attempts and Coincidences


. 163


XIV. The Last Vision ....


180


XV. Another Dream ....


195


XVI. The Darkest Hour ....


206



VI CONTENTS.

CHAPTER PAGE

XVII. The Dawn 217

XVIII. My Great-grandmother . . . .230
XIX. The Parish Register . . . .241

XX. A Foolish Triumph 251

XXI. A Collision 263

XXII. Yet Once 275

XXIII. Conclusion . . . . .284



WILFRID CUMBERMEDE,



CHAPTER I.

THE SWORD IN THE SCALE.

HpHE next morning Charley and I went as
A usual to the library, where, later in the
day, we were joined by the two ladies. It was
long before our eyes once met, but when at last
they did, Mary allowed hers to rest on mine for
just one moment with an expression of dove-
like beseeching, which I dared to interpret as
meaning — " Be just to me." If she read mine,
surely she read there that she was safe with my
thoughts as with those of her mother.

Charley and I worked late in the afternoon,
and went away in the last of the twilight. As
we approached the gate of the park, however, I

VOL. III. B



2 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

remembered I had left behind me a book I had
intended to carry home for comparison with a
copy in my possession, of which the title-page
was gone. I asked Charley, therefore, to walk
on and give my man some directions about
Lilith, seeing I had it in my mind to propose a
ride on the morrow, while I went back to fetch
it.

Finding the door at the foot of the stair
leading to the open gallery ajar, and knowing
that none of the rooms at either end of it were
occupied, I went the nearest way, and thus en-
tered the library at the point furthest from the
more public parts of the house. The book I
sought was, however, at the other end of the
suite, for I had laid it on the window-sill of the
room next the armoury.

As I entered that room, and while I crossed
it towards the glimmering window, I heard voices
in the armoury, and soon distinguished Clara's.
It never entered my mind that possibly I ought
not to hear what might be said. Just as I
reached the window I was arrested, and stood
stock still : the other voice was that of Geoffrev



THE SWORD IX THE SCALE. 6

Brotherton. Before my self-possession returned,
I had heard what follows.

M I am certain he took it," said Clara. " I
didn't see him, of course ; but if you call at the
Moat to-morrow, ten to one you will find it
hanging on the wall."

14 1 knew him for a sneak, but never took him
for a thief. I would have lost anything out of
the house rather than that sword !"

" Don't you mention my name in it. If you
do, I shall think you — well, I will never speak
to you again."

" And if I don't, what then ?"

Before I heard her answer, I had come to my-
self. I had no time for indignation yet. I must
meet Geoffrey at once. I would not, however,
have him know I had overheard any of their
talk. It would have been more straightforward
to allow the fact to be understood, but I shrunk
from giving him occasion for accusing me of an
eavesdropping of which I was innocent. Be-
sides, I had no wish to encounter Clara before
I understood her game, which I need not say
was a mystery to me. What end could she

B 2



4 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

have in such duplicity ? I had had unpleasant
suspicions of the truth of her nature before,
but could never have suspected her of base-
ness.

I stepped quietly into the further room,
whence I returned, making a noise with the
door-handle, and saying,

" Are yon there, Miss Coningham 1 Could
you help me to find a book I left here ?"

There was silence ; but after the briefest pause
I heard the sound of her dress as she swept
hurriedly out into the gallery. I advanced. On
the top of the steps, filling the doorway of the
armoury in the faint light from the window, ap-
peared the dim form of Brotherton.

"I beg your pardon," I said. "I heard a
lady's voice, and thought it was Miss Coning-
ham's."

" I cannot compliment your ear," he answered.
" It was one of the maids. I had just rung for
a light. I presume you are Mr. Cumber-
medef

" Yes," I answered. " I returned to fetch a
book I forgot to take with me. I suppose you



THE SWORD IN THE SCALE. 5

have heard what we've been about in the library
here t"

" I have been partially informed of it," he an-
swered, stiffly. " But I have heard also that
you contemplate a raid upon the armoury. I
beg you will let the weapons alone."

I had said something of the sort to Clara that
very morning.

" I have a special regard for them," he went
on; "and I don't want them meddled with.
It's not every one knows how to handle them.
Some amongst them I would not have injured
for their weight in diamonds. One in particular
I should like to give you the history of— just to
show you that I am right in being careful over
them. — Here comes the light."

I presume it had been hurriedly arranged be-
tween them as Clara left him that she should
send one of the maids, who in consequence now
made her appearance with a candle. Brother-
ton took it from her and approached the
wall.

" Why ! What the devil ! Some one has
been meddling already, I find ! The very



(3 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

sword I speak of is gone ! There's the sheath
hanging empty ! What can it mean % Do you
know anything of this, Mr. Cumbermede I"

" I do, Mr. Brotherton. The sword to which
that sheath belongs is mine. I have it."

" Yours l" he shouted; then restraining him-
self, added in a tone of utter contempt — " This
is rather too much. Pray, sir, on what grounds
do you lay claim to the smallest atom of pro-
perty within these walls % My father ought to
have known what he was about when he let
you have the run of the house ! And the old
books, too ! By heaven, it's too much ! I al-
ways thought "

" It matters little to me what you think, Mr.
Brotherton — so little that I do not care to take

any notice of your insolence "

" Insolence !" he roared, striding towards me,
as if he would have knocked me down.

I was not his match in strength, for he was
at least two inches taller than I, and of a coarse-
built, powerful frame. I caught a light rapier
from the wall, and stood on my defence.
" Coward !" he cried.



THE SWORD IN THE SCALE. 7

" There are more where this came from," I
answered, pointing to the wall.

He made no move towards arming himself,
but stood glaring at me in a white rage.

" I am prepared to prove," I answered as
calmly as I could, " that the sword to which
you allude is mine. But I will give you no
explanation. If you will oblige me by asking
your father to join us, I will tell him the whole
story."

" I will have a warrant out against you."

"As you please. I am obliged to you for
mentioning it. I shall be ready. I have the
sword, and intend to keep it. And by the way,
I had better secure the scabbard as well," I
added, as with a sudden spring I caught it
also from the wall, and again stood prepared.

He ground his teeth with rage. He was on
of those who, trusting to their superior strength,
are not much afraid of a row, but cannot face
cold steel : soldier as he had been, it made him
nervous.

" Insulted in my own house !" he snarled from
between his teeth.



8 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

"Your father's house," I corrected. "Call
him, and I will give explanations."

" Damn your explanations ! Get out of
the house, you puppy ; or I'll have the ser-
vants up, and have you ducked in the horse-
pond."

" Bah !" I said. " There's not one of them
would lay hands on me at your bidding. Call
your father, I say, or I will go and find him
myself."

He broke out in a succession of oaths, using
language I had heard in the streets of London,
but nowhere else. I stood perfectly still, and
watchful. All at once he turned and went
into the gallery, over the balustrade of which
he shouted,

" Martin ! Go and tell my father to come
here — to the armoury — at once. Tell him
there's a fellow here out of his mind."

I remained quiet, with my scabbard in one
hand, and the rapier in the other — a dangerous
weapon enough, for it was, though slight, as
sharp as a needle, and I knew it for a bit of ex-
cellent temper. Brotherton stood outside wait-



THE SWORD IN THE SCALE. 9

ing for his father. In a few moments I heard
the voice of the old man.

" Boys ! boys !" he cried ; " What is all this
to do?"

" Why, sir," answered Geoffrey, trying to be
calm, " here's that fellow Cumbermede confesses
to have stolen the most valuable of the swords
out of the armoury — one that's been in the
family for two hundred years, and says he means
to keep it."

I just caught the word liar ere it escaped
my lips : I would spare the son in his father's
presence.

" Tut ! tut !" said Sir Giles. " What does it
all mean? You're at your old quarrelsome
tricks, my boy ! Really you ought to be wiser
by this time !"

As he spoke, he entered panting, and with
the rubicund glow beginning to return upon a
face from which the message had evidently ban-
ished it.

" Tut ! tut !" he said again, half starting back
as he caught sight of me with the weapon in
my hand — " What is it all about, Mr. Cum-



10 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

berinede ? I thought you had more sense ! "

" Sir Giles," I said, " I have not confessed
to having stolen the sword — only to having
taken it."

" A very different thing," he returned, trying
to laugh. " But come now ; tell me all about
it. We can't have quarrelling like this, you
know. We can't have pot-house work here."

" That is just why I sent for you, Sir Giles,"
I answered, replacing the rapier on the wall.
" I want to tell you the whole story."

" Let's have it, then."

"Mind, I don't believe a word of it," said
Geoffrey.

" Hold your tongue, sir," said his father,
sharply.

" Mr. Brotherton," I said, " I offered to tell
the story to Sir Giles — not to you."

" You offered !" he sneered. " You may be
compelled — under different circumstances by-
and-by, if you don't mind what you're about."

" Come now — no more of this !" said Sir
Giles.

Thereupon I began at the beginning, and



THE SWORD IX THE SCALE. 11

told him the story of the sword, as I have
already given it to my reader. He fidgeted a
little, but Geoffrey kept himself stock-still during
the whole of the narrative. As soon as I had
ended, Sir Giles said,

" And you think poor old Close actually car-
ried off your sword ! — Well, he was an odd
creature, and had a passion for everything that
could kill. The poor little atomy used to carry
a poniard in the breast-pocket of his black coat
— as if anybody would ever have thought of
attacking his small carcass ! Ha ! ha ! ha !
He was simply a monomaniac in regard of
swords and daggers. There, Geoffrey ! The
sword is plainly his. He is the wronged party
in the matter, and we owe him an apology."

" I believe the whole to be a pure invention,"
said Geoffrey, who now appeared perfectly
calm.

"Mr. Brotherton!" I began, but Sir Giles
interposed.

" Hush ! hush !" he said, and turned to his
son. " My boy, you insult your father's guest."

"I will at once prove to you, sir, how un-



12 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

worthy he is of any forbearance, not to say pro-
tection from you. Excuse me for one moment."

He took up the candle, and opening the little
door at the foot of the winding stair, disap-
peared. Sir Giles and I sat in silence and
darkness until he returned, carrying in his hand
an old vellum-bound book.

" I daresay you don't know this manuscript,
sir," he said, turning to his father.

" I know nothing about it," answered Sir
Giles. " What is it 1 Or what has it to do
with the matter in hand ?"

" Mr. Close found it in some corner or other,
and used to read it to me when I was a little
fellow. It is a description, and in most cases a
history as well, of every weapon in the armoury.
They had been much neglected, and a great
many of the labels were gone, but those which
were left referred to numbers in the book head-
ing descriptions which corresponded exactly
to the weapons on which they were found.
With a little trouble he had succeeded in sup-
plying the numbers where they were missing,
for the descriptions are very minute."



THE SWORD IN THE SCALE. 13

He spoke in a tone of perfect self-posses-
sion.

" Well, Geoffrey, I ask again, what has all
this to do with it V said his father.

" If Mr. Cumberrnede will allow yon to look at
the label attached to the sheath in his hand — for
fortunately it was a rule with Mr. Close to put a
label on both sword and sheath — and if you will
read me the number, I will read you the de-
scription in the book."

I handed the sheath to Sir Giles, who began
to decipher the number on the ivory ticket.

" The label is quite a new one," I said.

"I have already accounted for that," said
Brotherton. " I will leave it to yourself to
decide whether the description corresponds."

Sir Giles read out the number figure by figure,
adding —

" But how are we to test the description ? I
don't know the thing, and it's not here."

" It is at the Moat," I replied : " but its future
place is at Sir Giles's decision."

"Part of the description belongs to the scab-
bard you have in your hand, sir," said Brother-



14 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

ton. " The description of the sword itself I
submit to Mr. Cumbermede."

" Till the other day I never saw the blade," I
said.

" Likely enough," he retorted dryly, and pro-
ceeding, read the description of the half-basket
hilt, inlaid with gold, and the broad blade,
channeled near the hilt, and inlaid with orna-
ments and initials in gold.

" There is nothing in all that about the scab-
bard," said his father.

" Stop till we come to the history," he re-
plied, and read on, as nearly as I can recall, to
the following effect. I have never had an op-
portunity of copying the words themselves.
" ' This sword seems to have been expressly

forged for Sir ,' " (He read it Sir So

and So.) " * whose initials are to be found on the
blade. According to tradition, it was worn by
him, for the first and only time, at the battle of
Naseby, where he fought in the cavalry led by
Sir Marmaduke Langdale. From some accident

or other, Sir found, just as the order

to charge was given, that he could not draw his



THE SWORD IN THE SCALE. 15

sword, and had to charge with only a pistol in
his hand. In the flight which followed he pulled
up, and unbuckled his sword, but while attempt-
ing to ease it, a rush of the enemy startled him,
and, looking about, he saw a Roundhead riding-
straight at Sir Marmaduke, who that moment
passed in the rear of his retiring troops — giving
some directions to an officer by his side, and un-
aware of the nearness of danger. Sir

put spurs to his charger, rode at the trooper,
and dealt him a downright blow on the pot-
helmet with his sheathed weapon. The fellow

tumbled from his horse, and Sir found

his scabbard split halfway up, but the edge of
his weapon unturned. It is said he vowed it
should remained sheathed for ever.' — The person
who has now unsheathed it has done a great
wrong to the memory of a loyal cavalier."

" The sheath halfway split was as familiar to
my eyes as the face of my uncle," I said, turn-
ing to Sir Giles. " And in the only reference
I ever heard my great-grandmother make to it,
she mentioned the name of Sir Marmaduke. I
recollect that much perfectly."



16 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

" But how could the sword be there and
here at one and the same time?" said Sir
Giles.

" That I do not pretend to explain," I said.

"Here at least is written testimony to our
possession of it," said Brotherton in a conclusive
tone.

" How, then, are we to explain Mr. Cumber-
mede's story 1" said Sir Giles, evidently in good
faith.

" With that I cannot consent to allow myself
concerned. — Mr. Cumbermede is, I am told, a
writer of fiction."

" Geoffrey," said Sir Giles, " behave yourself
like a gentleman."

" I endeavour to do so," he returned with a
sneer.

I kept silence.

" How can you suppose," the old man went
on, " that Mr. Cumbermede would invent such a
story ? What object could he have ?"

" He may have a mania for weapons, like old
Close — as well as for old books," he replied.

I thought of my precious folio. But I did not



THE SWORD IN THE SCALE. 17

yet know how much additional force his insinu-
ation with regard to the motive of my labours
in the library would gain if it should be dis-
covered that such a volume was in my posses-
sion.

" You may have remarked, sir," he went on,
" that I did not read the name of the owner of
the sword in any place where it occurred in the
manuscript."

" I did. And I beg to know why you kept it
back," answered Sir Giles.

" What do you think the name might be,
sir?"

" How should I know ? I am not an anti-
quarian."

" Sir Wilfrid Cumbermede. You will find the
initials on the blade. — Does that throw any
light on the matter, do you think, sir ?"

" Why, that is your very own name !" cried
Sir Giles, turning to me.

I bowed.

" It is a pity the sword shouldn't be yours."

" It is mine, Sir Giles — though, as I said, I
am prepared to abide by your decision."

VOL. III. C



18 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

" And now I remember" — the old man resum-
ed, after a moment's thought — " the other even-
ing Mr. Alderforge — a man of great learning,
Mr. Cumbermede — told us that the name of
Cumbermede had at one time belonged to our
family. It is all very strange. I confess I am
utterly bewildered."

"At least you can understand, sir, how a
man of imagination, like Mr. Cumbermede here,
might desire to possess himself of a weapon
which bears his initials, and belonged two hun-
dred years ago to a baronet of the same name
as himself — a circumstance which, notwithstand-
ing it is by no means a common name, is not
quite so strange as at first sight appears — that
is, if all reports are true."

I did not in the least understand his drift ;
neither did I care to inquire into it now.

" Were you aware of this, Mr. Cumbermede ?"
asked his father.

" No, Sir Giles," I answered.

" Mr. Cumbermede has had the run of the
place for weeks. I am sorry I was not at
home. This book was lying all the time on the



THE SWORD IN THE SCALE. 19

table in the room above, where poor old Close's
work-bench and polishing- wheel are still stand-
ing/'

" Mr. Brotherton, this gets beyond bearing,''
I cried. " Nothing but the presence of your
father, to whom I am indebted for much kind-
ness, protects you."

" Tut ! tut !" said Sir Giles.

" Protects me, indeed !" exclaimed Brother-
ton. " Do you dream I should be by any code
bound to accept a challenge from you ? — Not,
at least, I presume to think, before a jury had
decided on the merits of the case."

My blood was boiling, but what could I do
or say ? Sir Giles rose, and was about to leave
the room, remarking only —

" I don't know what to make of it."

"At all events, Sir Giles," I said hurriedly,
" you will allow me to prove the truth of what
I have asserted. I cannot, unfortunately, call
my uncle or aunt, for they are gone ; and I do
not know where the servant who was with us
when 1 took the sword away is now. But, if
you will allow me, I will call Mrs. Wilson — to

c 2



20 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

prove that I had the sword when I came to
visit her on that occasion, and that on the morn-
ing after sleeping here I complained of its loss
to her, and went away without it."

" It would but serve to show the hallucina-
tion was early developed. We should proba-
bly find that even then you were much attract-
ed by the armoury," said Brotherton, with a
judicial air, as if I were a culprit before a
magistrate.

I had begun to see that, although the old
man was desirous of being just, he was a little
afraid of his son. He rose as the latter spoke,
however, and going into the gallery, shouted
over the balustrade —

" Some one send Mrs. Wilson to the library !"

We removed to the reading-room, I carrying
the scabbard which Sir Giles had returned to
me as soon as he had read the label. Brotherton
followed, having first gone up the little turnpike
stair, doubtless to replace the manuscript.

Mrs. Wilson came, looking more pinched
than ever, and stood before Sir Giles with her
arms straight by her sides, like one of the ladies



THE SWORD IN THE SCALE. 21

of Noah's ark. I will not weary my reader with
a full report of the examination. She had seen
me witli a sword, but had taken no notice of its
appearance. I might have taken it from the
armoury, for I icas in the library all the after-
noon. She had left me there thinking I was a
" gentlemany " boy. I had said I had lost it,
but she was sure she did not know how that
could be. She was very sorry she had caused
any trouble by asking me to the house, but Sir
Giles would be pleased to remember that he
had himself introduced the boy to her notice.
Little she thought, &c, &c.

In fact the spiteful creature, propitiating her
natural sense of justice by hinting instead of
plainly suggesting injurious conclusions, was
paying me back for my imagined participation
in the impertinences of Clara. She had besides,
as I learned afterwards, greatly resented the
trouble I had caused of late.

Brotherton struck in as soon as his father
had ceased questioning her.

" At all events, if he believed the sword was
his, why did he not go and represent the case



22 WILFRID CUMBERMEDE.

to you, sir, and request justice from you ? Since
then he has had opportunity enough. His tale
has taken too long to hatch."

" This is all very paltry," I said.

" Not so paltry as your contriving to sleep in
the house in order to carry off your host's pro-
perty in the morning — after studying the place
to discover which room would suit your purpose
best !"

Here I lost my presence of mind. A horror
shook me lest something might come out to
injure Mary, and I shivered at the thought of
her name being once mentioned along with
mine. If I had taken a moment to reflect, I
must have seen that I should only add to the
danger by what I was about to say. But her
form was so inextricably associated in my mind
with all that had happened then, that it seemed
as if the slightest allusion to any event of
that night would inevitably betray her ; and
in the tremor which, like an electric shock,
passed through me from head to foot, I blurted
out words importing that I had never slept in
the house in my life.



THE SWORD IX THE SCALE. 23

" Your room was got ready for you, anyhow,
Master Cumbermede," said Mrs. Wilson.

" It does not follow that I occupied it," I re-
turned.

"I can prove that false," said Brotherton ;
but, probably lest he should be required to pro-
duce his witness, only added, — " At all events,
he was seen in the morning, carrying the sword
across the court before any one had been ad-
mitted."

I was silent ; for I now saw too clearly that I
had made a dreadful blunder, and that any at-
tempt to carry assertion further, or even to ex-
plain away my words, might be to challenge
the very discovery I would have given my life
to ward off.

As Icontinued silent, steeling myself to endure,
and saying to myself that disgrace was not
dishonour, Sir Giles again rose, and turned
to leave the room. Evidently he was now


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