Chapter 18

And hurry, hurry, off they rode,
    As fast as fast might be;
Hurra, hurra, the dead can ride,
    Dost fear to ride with me?


There is one advantage in an accumulation of evils, differing in cause and character, that the distraction which they afford by their contradictory operation prevents the patient from being overwhelmed under either. I was deeply grieved at my separation from Miss Vernon, yet not so much so as I should have been, had not my father’s apprehended distresses forced themselves on my attention; and I was distressed by the news of Mr. Tresham, yet less so than if they had fully occupied my mind. I was neither a false lover nor an unfeeling son; but man can give but a certain portion of distressful emotions to the causes which demand them, and if two operate at once, our sympathy, like the funds of a compounding bankrupt, can only be divided between them. Such were my reflections when I gained my apartment—it seems, from the illustration, they already began to have a twang of commerce in them.

I set myself seriously to consider your father’s letter. It was not very distinct, and referred for several particulars to Owen, whom I was entreated to meet with as soon as possible at a Scotch town, called Glasgow; being informed, moreover, that my old friend was to be heard of at Messrs. MacVittie, Macfin, and Company, merchants in the Gallow-gate of the said town. It likewise alluded to several letters, which, as it appeared to me, must have miscarried or have been intercepted, and complained of my obdurate silence in terms which would have been highly unjust, had my letters reached their purposed destination. I was amazed as I read. That the spirit of Rashleigh walked around me, and conjured up these doubts and difficulties by which I was surrounded, I could not doubt for one instant; yet it was frightful to conceive the extent of combined villainy and power which he must have employed in the perpetration of his designs. Let me do myself justice in one respect; the evil of parting from Miss Vernon, however distressing it might in other respects and at another time have appeared to me, sunk into a subordinate consideration when I thought of the dangers impending over my father. I did not myself set a high estimation on wealth, and had the affectation of most young men of lively imagination, who suppose that they can better dispense with the possession of money, than resign their time and faculties to the labour necessary to acquire it. But in my father’s case, I knew that bankruptcy would be considered as an utter and irretrievable disgrace, to which life would afford no comfort, and death the speediest and sole relief.

My mind, therefore, was bent on averting this catastrophe, with an intensity which the interest could not have produced had it referred to my own fortunes; and the result of my deliberation was a firm resolution to depart from Osbaldistone Hall the next day, and wend my way without loss of time to meet Owen at Glasgow. I did not hold it expedient to intimate my departure to my uncle, otherwise than by leaving a letter of thanks for his hospitality, assuring him that sudden and important business prevented my offering them in person. I knew the blunt old knight would readily excuse ceremony, and I had such a belief in the extent and decided character of Rashleigh’s machinations, that I had some apprehension of his having provided means to intercept a journey which was undertaken with a view to disconcert them, if my departure were publicly announced at Osbaldistone Hall.

I therefore determined to set off on my journey with daylight in the ensuing morning, and to gain the neighbouring kingdom of Scotland before any idea of my departure was entertained at the Hall; but one impediment of consequence was likely to prevent that speed which was the soul of my expedition. I did not know the shortest, nor indeed any road to Glasgow; and as, in the circumstances in which I stood, despatch was of the greatest consequence, I determined to consult Andrew Fairservice on the subject, as the nearest and most authentic authority within my reach. Late as it was, I set off with the intention of ascertaining this important point, and after a few minutes’ walk reached the dwelling of the gardener.

Andrew’s dwelling was situated at no great distance from the exterior wall of the garden, a snug, comfortable Northumbrian cottage, built of stones roughly dressed with the hammer, and having the windows and doors decorated with huge heavy architraves, or lintels, as they are called, of hewn stone, and its roof covered with broad grey flags, instead of slates, thatch, or tiles. A jargonelle pear-tree at one end of the

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