It was a nice cozy place, that old counting-house room, with its smoky walls, its cheerful coal-fire burning in the
rusty grate, and its stained and blackened floor. A snug little room, illuminated by a gas-light, subdued to a
shadowy and sleepy brilliancy, with the Merchant's Almanac and four or five old pictures scattered along the
walls, an old oaken desk with immense legs, all carved and curled into a thousand shapes, standing in one
corner, and a massive door, whose glass window opened a mysterious view into the regions of the warehouse,
where casks of old cogniac lay, side by side, in lengthened rows, like jolly old fellows at a party, as they whisper
quietly to one another on the leading questions of the day.
Seated in front of the coal fire, his legs elevated above his head, resting on the mantel-piece, a gentleman, of
some twenty-five years, with his arms crossed and a pipe in his mouth, seemed engaged in an earnest endeavour
to wrap himself up in a cloak of tobacco smoke, in order to prepare for a journey into the land of Nod, while
the tumbler of punch standing on the small table at his elbow, showed that he was by no means opposed to that
orthodox principle which recognizes the triple marriage of brandy, lemon and sugar, as a highly necessary
addition to the creature comforts of the human being, in no way to be despised or neglected by thinking men.
You would not have called this gentleman well-proportioned, and yet his figure was long and slender, you could
not have styled his dress eminently fashionable, and yet his frock coat was shaped of the finest black cloth, you
would not have looked upon his face as the most handsome in the world, and yet it was a finely-marked
countenance, with a decided, if not highly intellectual, expression. If the truth must be told, his coat, though
fashioned of the finest cloth, was made a little too full in one place, a little too scant in another, and buttoned up
somewhat too high in the throat, for a gentleman whose ambition it was flourish on the southern side of Chesnut
street, amid the animated cloths and silks of a fashionable promenade. And then the large black stock,
encircling his neck, with the crumpled, though snow-white, shirt collar, gave a harsh relief to his countenance,
while the carelessly-disposed wristbands, crushed back over the upturned cuffs of his coat, designated the man
who went in for comfort, and flung fashion to the haberdashers and dry goods clerks.
As for his face, whenever the curtain of tobacco smoke rolled aside, you beheld, as I have said, a finely-marked
countenance, with rather lank cheeks, a sharp aquiline nose, thin lips, biting and sarcastic in expression, a square
chin, and eyes of the peculiar class, intensely dark and piercing in their glance, that remind you of a flame without
heat, cold, glittering and snake-like. His forehead was high and bold, with long and lanky black hair falling back
from its outlines, and resting, without love-lock or curl, in straight masses behind each ear.
"Queer world this!" began our comfortable friend, falling into one of those broken soliloquies, generated by the
pipe and the bowl, in which the stops are supplied by puffs of smoke, and the paragraph terminated by a sip of
the punch—"Don't know much about other worlds, but it strikes me that if a prize were offered somewhere by
somebody, for the queerest world a-going, this world of ours might be rigged up nice, and sent in like a bit of
show beef, as the premium queer world. No man smokes a cigar that ever tried a pipe, but an ass. I was a small
boy once—ragged little devil that Luke Harvey, who used to run about old Livingstone's importing warehouse.
Indelicate little fellow: wore his ruffles out behind. Kicked and cuffed because he was poor—served him right—
dammim. Old Liv. died—young Albert took the store—capital, cool one hundred thousand. Luke Harvey rose
to a clerkship. Began to be a fine fellow—well-dressed, and of course virtuous. D—d queer fellow, Luke. Last
year taken into partnership along with a young fellow whose daddy's worth at least one hun. thousand. Firm
now—Livingstone, Harvey, & Co. Clever punch, that. Little too much lemon—d—d it, the sugar's out.
"Queer thing, that! Some weeks ago respectable old gentleman in white cravat and hump-back, came to
counting house. Old fellow hailed from Charleston. Had rather a Jewish twang on his tongue. Presented
Livingstone a letter of credit drawn by a Charleston house on our firm. Letter from Grayson, Ballenger, & Co.,
for a cool hundred thousand. Old white cravat got it. D—n that rat in the partition—why can't he eat his victuals
in quiet? Two weeks since, news came that G. B. & Co. never gave such letter—a forgery, a complete swindle.
Comfortable, that. Hot coals on one's bare skull, quite pleasant in comparison. Livingstone in New York—been
trying for a week to track up the villain. Must get new pipe to-morrow. Mem. get one with Judas Iscariot
painted on the bowl. Honest rogue, that. Went and hanged himself after he sold his master. Wonder how full the
town would be if all who have sold their God for gold would hang themselves? Hooks in market house would
rise. Bear queer fruit—eh? D—d good tobacco. By the bye—must go home. Another sip of the punch and I'm
off. Ha—ha—good idea that of the handsome Colonel! Great buck, man of fashion and long-haired Apollo.
Called here this evening to see me—smelt like a civet cat. Must flourish his pocket-book before my eyes by
way of a genteel brag. Dropped a letter from a bundle of notes. Valuable letter that. Wouldn't part with it for a
cool thousand—rather think it will raise the devil—let me see—"
And laying down his pipe, Mr. Luke Harvey drew a neatly-folded billetdoux from an inside pocket of his coat,
and holding it in the glare of the light perused its direction, which was written in a fair and delicate woman's hand.
" 'Col. Fitz-Cowles—United States Hotel' "—he murmured—"good idea, Colonel, to drop such a letter out of
your pocket-book. Won't trouble you none? 'Spose not—ha, ha, ha—d—d good idea!"
The idea appeared to tickle him immensely, for he chuckled in a deep, self-satisfied tone as he drew on his
bearskin overcoat, and even while he extinguished the gas-light, and covered up the fire, his chuckle grew into a
laugh, which deepened into a hearty guffaw, as striding through the dark warehouse, he gained the front door,
and looked out into the deserted street.
"Ha-ha-ha—to drop such a dear creature's letter!"—he laughed, locking the door of the warehouse—"Wonder
if it won't raise h—l? I loved a woman once. Luke, you were a d—d fool that time. Jilted—yes jilted. That's the
word I believe? Maybe I won't have my revenge? Perhaps not—very likely not—"
With this momentous letter, so carelessly dropped by the insinuating millionaire, Colonel Fitz-Cowles resting on
his mind, and stirring his features with frequent spasmodic attacks of laughter, our friend, Mr. Harvey, pursued
his way along Front street, and turning up Chesnut street, arrived at the corner of Third, where he halted for a
few moments in order to ascertain the difference in time, between his gold-repeater and the State House clock,
which had just struck one.
While thus engaged, intently perusing the face of his watch by the light of the moon, a stout middle-aged
gentleman, wrapped up in a thick overcoat, with a carpet bag in his hand, came striding rapidly across the street,
and for a moment stood silent and unperceived at his shoulder.
"Well Luke—is the repeater right and the State House wrong?" said a hearty cheerful voice, and the middle-
aged gentleman laid his hand on Mr. Harvey's shoulder.
"Ah-ha! Mr. Livingstone! Is that you?" cried Luke, suddenly wheeling round, and gazing into the frank and
manly countenance of the new-comer—"When did you get back from New York?"
"Just this moment arrived. I did not expect to return within a week from this time, and therefore come upon you
by a little surprise. I wrote to Mrs. L. yesterday, telling her I would not be in town until the Christmas holidays
were over. She'll be rather surprised to see me, I suppose?"
"Rather!" echoed Luke, drily.
"Come Luke, take my arm, and let's walk up toward my house. I have much to say to you. In the first place
have you any thing new?"
While Mr. Harvey is imparting his budget of news to the senior partner of the firm of Livingstone, Harvey &
Co., as they stroll slowly along Chesnut street, we will make some few notes of his present appearance.
Stout, muscular, and large-boned, with a figure slightly inclining towards corpulence, Mr. Livingstone strode
along the pavement with a firm and measured step, that attested all the matured strength and vigor peculiar to
robust middle age. He was six feet high, with broad shoulders and muscular chest. His face was full, bold, and
massive, rather bronzed in hue, and bearing some slight traces of the ravages of small-pox. Once or twice as he
walked along, he lifted his hat from his face, and his forehead, rendered more conspicuous by some slight
baldness, was exposed to view. It was high, and wide, and massive, bulging outward prominently in the region
of the reflective organs, and faintly relieved by his short brown hair. His eyes, bold and large, of a calm clear
blue, were rendered strangely expressive by the contrast of the jet-black eyebrows. His nose was firm and
Roman in contour, his mouth marked by full and determined lips, his chin square and prominent, while the
lengthened outline of the lower jaw, from the chin to the ear, gave his countenance an expression of inflexible
resolution. In short, it was the face of a man, whose mind, great in resources, had only found room for the
display of its tamest powers, in enlarged mercantile operations, while its dark and desperate elements, from the
want of adversity, revenge or hate to rouse them into action, had lain still and dormant for some twenty long
years of active life. He never dreamed himself that he carried a hidden hell within his soul.
Had this man been born poor, it is probable that in his attempt to rise, the grim hand of want would have
dragged from their lurking-places, these dark and fearful elements of his being. But wealth had lapped him at his
birth, smiled on him in his youth, walked by him through life, and the moment for the trial of all his powers had
never happened. He was a fine man, a noble merchant, and a good citizen we but repeat the stereotyped
phrases of the town—and yet, quiet and close, near the heart of this cheerful-faced man, lay a sleeping devil,
who had been dozing away there all his life, and only waiting the call of destiny to spring into terrible action, and
rend that manly bosom with his fangs.
"Have you heard any news of the—forger?" asked Luke Harvey, when he had delivered his budget of news—
"Any intelligence of the respectable gentleman in the white cravat and hump-back?"
"He played the same game in New York that he played in our city. Wherever I went, I heard nothing but 'Mr.
Ellis Mortimer, of Charleston, bought goods to a large amount here, on the strength of a letter of credit, drawn
on your house by Grayson, Ballenger, & Co.,' or that 'Mr. Mortimer bought goods to a large amount in such-
and-such a-store, backed, by the same letter of credit—' No less than twelve wholesale houses gave him credit
to an almost unlimited extent. In all cases the goods were despatched to the various auctions and sold at half-
cost, while Mr. Ellis Mortimer pocketed the cash—"
"And you have no traces of this prince of swindlers?"
"None! all the police in New York have been raising heaven-and-earth to catch him for this week past, but
without success. At last I have come to the conclusion that he is lurking about this city, with the respectable sum
of two hundred thousand dollars in his possession. I am half-inclined to believe that he is not alone in this
business—there may be a combination of scoundrels concerned in the affair. To-morrow the police shall
ransack every hiding-hole and cranny in the city. My friend, Col. Fitz-Cowles gave me some valuable
suggestions before I left for New York—I will ask his advice, in regard to the matter, the first thing in the
"Very fine man, that Col. Fitz-Cowles—" observed Luke, as they turned down Fourth street—" Splendid
fellow. Dresses well—gives capital terrapin suppers at the United States—inoculates all the bucks about town
with his style of hat. Capital fellow— Son of an English Earl—ain't he, Mr. Livingstone ?"
"So I have understood—" replied Mr. Livingstone, not exactly liking the quiet sneer which lurked under the
innocent manner of his partner—"a least so it is rumored—"
"Got lots of money—a millionaire—no end to his wealth. By the bye, where the d—1 did he come from? isn't he
a Southern planter with acres of niggers and prairies of cotton?"
"Luke, that's a very strange question to ask me. You just now asked me, whether he was the son of an English
Earl—did'nt you ?"
"Believe I did. To tell the truth, I've heard both stories about him, and some dozen more. An heir-apparent to an
English Earldom, a rich planter from the South, the son of a Boston magnifique, the only child of a rich
Mexican—these things you will see, don't mix well. Who the devil is our long-haired friend, anyhow?"
"Tut-tut—Luke this is all folly. You know that Col. Fitz-Cowles is received in the best society, mingles with the
ton of the Quaker City, is 'squired about by our judges and lawyers, and can always find scores of friends to
help him spend his fortune—"
"Fine man, that Col. Fitz-Cowles. Very," said the other in his dry and biting tone.
"Do you know, Luke, that I think the married men the happiest in the world?" said Livingstone, drawing the arm
of his partner closely within his own—" Now look at my case for instance. A year ago I was a miserable
bachelor. The loss of one hundred thousand dollars then, would have driven me frantic. Now I have a sweet
young wife to cheer me, her smile welcomes me home; the first tone of her voice, and my loss is forgotten!"
The Merchant paused. His eye glistened with a tear, and he felt his heart grow warm in his bosom, as the vision
of his sweet young wife, now so calmly sleeping on her solitary bed rose before him. He imagined her smile of
welcome as she beheld him suddenly appear by her bedside; he felt her arms so full and round twining fondly
round his neck, and he tried to fancy—but the attempt was vain—the luxury of a kiss from her red ripe lips.
"You may think me uxorious, Luke—" he resumed in his deep manly voice—"But I do think that God never
made a nobler woman than my Dora! Look at the sacrifice she made for my sake? Young, blooming, and but
twenty summers old, she forgot the disparity of my years, and consented to share my bachelor's-home—"
"She is a noble woman—" observed Luke, and then he looked at the moon and whistled an air from the very
select operatic spectacle of 'Bone Squash.' "
Noble in heart and soul!" exclaimed Livingstone—"confess, Luke that we married men live more in an hour than
you dull bachelors in a year—"
"Oh—yes—certainly! You may well talk when you have such a handsome wife! Egad—if I was'nt afraid it
would make you jealous—I would say that Mrs. Livingstone has the most splendid form I ever beheld—"
There was a slight contortion of Mr. Harvey's upper lip as he spoke, which looked very much like a sneer.
"And then her heart, Luke, her heart! So noble, so good, so affectionate! I wish you could have seen her, where
first I beheld her—in a small and meanly furnished apartment, at the bed-side of a dying mother! They were in
reduced circumstances, for her father had died insolvent. He had been my father's friend, and I thought it my
duty to visit the widowed mother and the orphan daughter. By-the-bye, Luke, I now remember that I saw you
at their house in Wood street once—did you know the family?"
"Miss Dora's father had been kind to me—" said Luke in a quiet tone. There was a strange light in his dark eye
as he spoke, and a remarkable tremor on his lip.
"Well, well, Luke—here's my house—" exclaimed Mr. Livingstone, as they arrived in front of a lofty four storied
mansion, situated in the aristocratic square, as it is called, along south Fourth street. "It is lucky I have my dead-
latch key. I can enter without disturbing the servants. Come up stairs, into the front parlor with me, Luke; I want
to have a few more words with you about the forgery—"
They entered the door of the mansion, passed along a wide and roomy entry, ascended a richly carpeted
staircase, and, traversing the entry in the second story, in a moment stood in the centre of the spacious parlor,
fronting the street on the second floor. In another moment, Mr. Livingstone, by the aid of some Lucifer matches
which he found on the mantle, lighted a small bed-lamp, standing amid the glittering volumes that were piled on
the centre table. The dim light of the lamp flickering around the room, revealed the various characteristics of an
apartment furnished in a style of lavish magnificence. Above the mantle flashed an enormous mirror, on one side
of the parlor was an inviting sofa, on the other a piano; two splendid ottomans stood in front of the fireless
hearth, and, curtains of splendid silk hung drooping heavily along the three lofty windows that looked into the
street. In fine, the parlor was all that the upholsterer and cabinet maker combined could make it, a depository of
luxurious appointments and costly furniture.
"Draw your seat near the centre table, Luke—" cried Mr. Livingstone, as he flung himself into a comfortable
rocking chair, and gazed around the room with an expression of quiet satisfaction— "Don't speak too loud,
Luke, for Dora is sleeping in the next room. You know I want to take her by a little surprise—eh, Luke? She
doesn't expect me from New York for a week yet—I am the last person in the world she thinks to see to-night.
And the merchant chuckled gaily, rubbed his hands together, glanced at the folding doors that opened into the
bed-chamber, where slept his blooming wife, and then turning round, looked in the face of Luke Harvey with a
smile, that seemed to say— 'I can't help it if you bachelors are miserable—pity you, but can't help it.'
"It would be a pity to awaken Mrs. Livingstone—" said Luke fixing his brilliant dark eye on the face of the
senior partner, with a look so meaning and yet mysterious, that Mr. Living stone involuntarily averted his gaze—
"A very great pity. By the bye,
with regard to the forgery—"
"Let me recapitulate the facts. Some weeks ago we received a letter from the respectable house of Grayson,
Ballenger, & Co., Charleston, stating that they had made a large purchase in cotton from a rich planter—Mr.
Ellis Mortimer, who, in a week or so, would visit Philadelphia, with a letter of credit on our house for one
hundred thousand dollars. They gave us this intimation in order that we might be prepared to cash the letter of
credit at right. Well, in a week a gentleman of respectable exterior appeared, stated that he was Mr. Ellis
Mortimer, presented his letter of credit; it was cashed and we wrote to Grayson, Ballenger, & Co., announcing
"They returned the agreeable answer that Mr. Ellis Mortimer had not yet left Charleston for Philadelphia, but had
altered his intention and was about to sail for London. That the gentleman in the white cravat and hump-back
was an impostor, and the letter of credit a forgery. There was considerable mystery in the affair; for instance,
how did the impostor gain all the necessary information with regard to Mr. Mortimer's visit,
how did he acquire a knowledge of the signature of the Charleston house?"
"Listen and I will tell you. Last week, in New York, I received a letter from the Charleston house announcing
these additional facts. It appears that in the beginning of fall they received a letter from a Mr. Albert Hazelton
Munroe, representing himself as a rich planter in Wainbridge, South Carolina. He had a large amount of cotton
to sell, and would like to procure advances on it from the Charleston house. They wrote him an answer to his
letter, asking the quality of the cotton, and so forth, and soliciting an interview with Mr. Munroe when he visited
Charleston. In the beginning of November Mr. Munroe, a dark-complexioned man, dressed like a careless
country squire, entered their store for the first time, and commenced a series of negotiations about his cotton,
which had resulted in nothing, when another planter, Mr. Ellis Mortimer, appeared in the scene, sold his cotton,
and requested the letter of credit on our house. Mr. Munroe was in the store every day—was a jolly
unpretending fellow—familiar with all the clerks and on intimate terms with Messrs. Grayson, Ballenger, & Co.
The letter written to our house, intimating the intended visit of Mr. Mortimer to this city, had been very carelessly
left open for a few moments on the counting house desk, and Mr. Munroe was observed glancing over its
contents by one of the clerks. The day after that letter had been despatched to Philadelphia, Mr. Albert H.
Munroe suddenly disappeared, and had not been heard of since. The Charleston house suspect him of the whole
forgery in all its details—"
"Very likely. He saw the letter on the counter—forged the letter of credit—and despatched his accomplice to
Philadelphia without delay—"
"Now for the consequences of this forgery. On Monday morning next we have an engagement of one hundred
thousand dollars to meet, which, under present circumstances, may plunge our house into the vortex of
bankruptcy. Unless this impostor is discovered, unless his connection with this Munroe is clearly ascertained
before next Monday, I must look forward to that day as one of the greatest danger to our house. You see our
"Yes, yes—" answered Luke, as he arose, and, advancing, gazed fixedly into the face of Mr. Livingstone—"I
see our position, and I see your position in more respects than one—"
"Confound the thing, man, how you stare in my face. Do you see anything peculiar about my countenance, that
you peruse it so attentively?"
"Ha—ha—" cried Luke, with a hysterical laugh—"Ha—ha! Nothing but—horns. Horns, sir, I say—horns. A.
fine branching pair! Ha—ha—Why damn it, Livingstone, you won't be able to enter the church door, next
Sunday, without stooping—those horns are so d—d large!"
Livingstone looked at him with a face of blank wonder. He evidently supposed that Luke had been seized with
sudden madness. To see a man who is your familiar friend and partner, abruptly break off a conversation on
matters of the most importance, and stare vacantly in your face as he compliments you on some fancied
resemblance which you bear to a full-grown stag, is, it must be confessed, a spectacle somewhat unfrequent in
this world of ours, and rather adapted to excite a feeling of astonishment whenever it happens.
"Mr. Harvey—are—you—mad?" asked Livingstone, in a calm deliberate tone.
Harvey slowly leaned forward and brought his face so near Livingstone's that the latter could feel his breath on
his cheek. He applied his mouth to the ear of the senior partner, and whispered a single word.
When a soldier, in battle, receives a bullet directly in the heart, he springs in the air with one convulsive spasm,
flings his arms aloft and utters a groan that thrills the man who hears it with a horror never to be forgotten. With
that same convulsive movement, with that same deep groan of horror and anguish Livingstone, the merchant,
sprang to his feet, and confronted the utterer of that single word.
"Harvey—" he said, in a low tone, and with white and trembling lips, while his calm blue eye flashed with that
deep glance of excitement, most terrible when visible in a calm blue eye—"Harvey, you had better never been
born, than utter that word again. To trifle with a thing of this kind is worse than death. Harvey, I advise you to
leave me—I am losing all command of myself—there is a voice within me tempting me to murder you—for
God's sake quit my sight—"
Harvey looked in his face, fearless and undaunted, though his snake-like eye blazed like a coal of fire, and his
thin lips quivered as with the death spasm.
"Cuckold!" he shrieked in a hissing voice, with a wild hysterical laugh.
Livingstone started back aghast. The purple veins stood out like cords on his bronzed forehead, and his right
hand trembled like a leaf as it was thrust within the breast of his coat. His blue eye—great God! how glassy it
had grown—was fixed upon the form of Luke Harvey as if meditating where to strike.
"To the bedchamber—" shrieked Luke. "If she is there, I am a liar and a dog, and deserve to die. Cuckold, I
say, and will prove it—to the bedchamber!"
And to the bedchamber with an even stride, though his massive form quivered like an oak shaken by the
hurricane, strode the merchant. The folding door slid back—he had disappeared into the bedchamber.
There was silence for a single instant, like the silence in the graveyard, between the last word of the prayer, and
the first rattling sound of the clods upon the coffin.
In a moment Livingstone again strode into the parlor. His face was the hue of ashes. You could see that the
struggle at work within his heart was like the agony of the strong man wrestling with death. This struggle was
tenfold more terrible than death—death in its vilest form. It forced the big beaded drops of sweat out from the
corded veins on his brow, it drove the blood from his face, leaving a black and discolored streak beneath each
"She is not there—" he said, taking Luke by the hand, which he wrung with an iron grasp, and murmured again—
"She is not there—"
"False to her husband's bed and honor—" exclaimed Luke, the agitation which had convulsed his face, subsiding
into a look of heart-wrung compassion, as he looked upon the terrible results of his disclosure—"False as hell,
and vile as false!"
An object on the centre table, half concealed by the bed-lamp arrested the husband's attention. He thrust aside
the lamp and beheld a note, addressed to himself, in Mrs. Livingstone's hand.
With a trembling hand the merchant tore the note open, and while Luke stood fixedly regarding him, perused its
And as he read, the blood came back to his cheeks, the glance to his eyes, and his brow reddened over with
one burning flush of indignation.
"Liar and dog!" he shouted, in tones hoarse with rage, as he grasped Luke Harvey by the throat with a sudden
movement—"Your lie was well coined, but look here! Ha—ha—" and he shook Luke to and fro like a broken
reed—"Here is my wife's letter. Here, sir, look at it, and I'll force you to eat your own foul words. Here,
expecting that I might suddenly return from New York, my wife has written down that she would be absent from
home to-night. A sick friend, a school-day companion, now reduced to widowhood and penury, solicited her
company by her dying bed, and my wife could not refuse. Read, sir—oh read!"
"Take your hand from my throat or I'll do you a mischief—" murmured Luke, in a choaking voice as he grew
black in the face. "I will, by God—"
"Read—sir—oh read!" shouted Livingstone, as he forced Luke into a chair and thrust the letter into his hands—"
Read, sir, and then crawl from this room like a vile dog as you are. To-morrow I will settle with you
Luke sank in the chair, took the letter, and with a pale face, varied by a crimson spot on each cheek, he began
to read, while Livingstone, towering and erect, stood regarding him with a look of incarnate scorn.
It was observable that while Luke perused the letter, his head dropped slowly down as though in the endeavor
to see more clearly, and his unoccupied hand was suddenly thrust within the breast of his overcoat.
"That is a very good letter. Well written, and she minds her stops—" exclaimed Luke calmly, as he handed the
letter back to Mr. Livingstone—"Quite an effort of composition. I didn't think Dora had so much tact—"
The merchant was thunderstruck with the composure exhibited by the slanderer and the liar. He glanced over
Luke's features with a quick nervous glance, and then looked at the letter which he held in his hand.
"Ha! This is not the same letter!" he shouted, in tones of mingled rage and wonder—" This letter is addressed to
"It was dropped in the counting house by the Colonel this evening—" said Luke, with the air of a man who was
prepared for any hazard—"The Colonel is a very fine man. A favorite with the fair sex. Read it—Oh read
With a look of wonder Mr. Livingstone opened the letter. There was a quivering start in his whole frame, when
he first observed the handwriting.
But as he went on, drinking in word after word, his countenance, so full of meaning and expression, was like a
mirror, in which different faces are seen, one after another, by sudden transition. At first his face grew crimson,
then it was pale as death in an instant. Then his lips dropped apart, and his eyes were covered with a glassy film.
Then a deep wrinkle shot upward between his brows, and then, black and ghastly, the circles of discolored flesh
were visible beneath each eye. The quivering nostrils—the trembling hands—the heaving chest—did man ever
die with a struggle terrible as this?
He sank heavily into a chair, and crushing the letter between his fingers, buried his face in his hands.
"Oh my God—" he groaned—" Oh my God—and I loved her so!"
And then between the very fingers convulsively clutching the fatal letter, there fell large and scalding tears, drop
by drop, pouring heavily, like the first tokens of a coming thunderbolt, on a summer day.
Luke Harvey arose, and strode hurriedly along the floor. The sight was too much for him to bear. And yet as he
turned away he heard the groans of the strong man in his agony, and the heart-wrung words came, like the voice
of the dying, to his ear—
"Oh my God, oh my God, and I loved her so!"
When Luke again turned and gazed upon the betrayed husband, he beheld a sight that filled him with unutterable
There, as he sat, his face buried in his hands, his head bowed on his breast, his brow was partly exposed to the
glare of the lamp-beams, and all around that brow, amid the locks of his dark brown hair, were streaks of hoary
white. The hair of the merchant had withered at the root. The blow was so sudden, so blighting, and so terrible,
that even his strong mind reeled, his brain tottered, and in the effort to command his reason, his hair grew white
"Would to God I had not told him—" murmured Luke—"I knew not that he loved her so—I knew not—and
yet—ha, ha, I loved her once—"
"Luke—my friend—" said Livingstone in a tremulous voice as he raised his face—"Know you anything of the
place—named in—the letter?"
"I do—and will lead you there—" answered Luke, his face resuming its original expression of agitation—
"Come!" he cried, in a husky voice, as olden-time memories seemed striving at his heart—"Come!"
"Can you gain me access to the house—to the—the room ?"
"Did I not track them thither last night? Come!"
The merchant slowly rose and took a pair of pistols from his carpet bag. They were small and convenient
travelling pistols, mounted in silver, with those noiseless patent triggers that emit no clicking sound by way of
warning. He inspected the percussion caps, and sounded each pistol barrel.
"Silent and sure—" muttered Luke—"They are each loaded with a single ball."
"Which way do you lead? To the southern part of the city?"
"To Southwark—" answered Luke, leading the way from the parlor—"To the rookery, to the den, to the pest-
In a moment they stood upon the door step of the merchant's princely mansion, the vivid light of the December
moon, imparting a ghastly hue to Livingstone's face, with the glassy eyes, rendered more fearful by the
discolored circles of flesh beneath, the furrowed brow, and the white lips, all fixed in an expression stern and
resolute as death.
Luke flung his hand to the south, and his dark impenetrable eyes shone with meaning. The merchant placed his
partner's arm within his own, and they hurried down Fourth street with a single word from Luke—
* This is a fact,
established by the
evidence of a
of the first
|You have one week to prepare yourself for the arabesque horrors and depravities of next week's
two grim chapters . . .
The Monks of Monk Hall