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lights burnt at the head and feet, and fragrant perfumes diffused their odours from silver censers.
The entrance of Luke and his unwilling companion had been abrupt. The transition from darkness to the glare of light, was almost blinding, and they had advanced far into the room ere Lady Rookwood perceived a man, whom she took to be one of the mutes, leaning over the bier. The coffin-lid was entirely removed, and the person whose back was towards them appeared to be wrapt in mournful contemplation of the sad spectacle before him. Suddenly bursting from Luke's hold, Lady Rookwood rushed forward with a scream, and touched the man's shoulder. He started at the summons, and disclosed the features of her son!
Rapidly as her own act, Luke followed. He levelled a pistol at her head, but his hand dropped to his side, as he encountered the glance of Ranulph. All three seemed paralysed by surprise. Ranulph, in astonishment, extended his arm to his mother, who, placing one arm over his shoulder, pointed with the other to Luke; the latter stared sternly and inquiringly at both yet none spake.
We 're sorry
His violent act has e'en drawn blood of honour,
And stained our honours;
Thrown ink upon the forehead of our fame,
For that which would seem treason in our lives,
Is laughter when we 're dead. Who dares now whisper,
WITH that quickness of perception, which at once supplies information on such an emergency, Luke instantly conjectured who was before him. Startled as he was, he yet retained his composure, abiding the result, with his arms folded upon his breast.
"Seize him," cried Lady Rookwood, as soon as she could command her speech.
"He rushes on his death—if he stirs," exclaimed Luke, pointing his pistol.
"Bethink you where you are, villain ?" cried Ranulph: "you are entrapped in your own toils. Submit yourself to our mercy -resistance is vain, and I will not secure your safety, while it will aggravate your offence. Surrender yourself "Never," answered Luke: "know you whom you ask to yield?"
"How should I?" answered Ranulph.
By that instinct which tells me who you are. Ask Lady Rookwood she can inform you, if she will."
'Parley not with him
seize him," cried Lady Rookwood. "He is a robber, a murderer, who has assailed my life." "Beware," said Luke to Ranulph, who was preparing to
obey his mother's commands
"I am no robber
derer. Do not you make me a fratricide."
"Fratricide!" echoed Ranulph.
"Heed him not," ejaculated Lady Rookwood.
false he dares not harm thee, for his soul- I will call assistance."
"Hold, mother!" exclaimed Ranulph, detaining Lady Rookwood; "this man may be what he represents himself. Before we proceed to extremities I would question him. I would not have mentioned it in your hearing, could it have been avoided, but my father had another son."
Lady Rookwood frowned. She would have checked him, but Luke rejoined
"You have spoken the truth, he had a son I"
I am he
"Be silent, I command you," said Lady Rookwood. "Death!" cried Luke in a loud voice. 66 Why should I be silent at your bidding ·at yours· who regard no laws, human or divine; who pursue your own fell purposes, without fear of God or man? Waste not your frowns on me I heed them not. Do you think I am like a tame hound, to be cowed to silence? I will speak. Ranulph Rookwood, the name you bear is mine, and by a right as good as is your own. From his loins, who lies a corpse before us, I sprang. No brand of shame is I am your father's son
on my birth.
his first born
elder brother. Hear me !" cried he rushing to the bier. "By this body, I swear that I have avouched the truth - and though to me the dead Sir Piers Rookwood hath never been what a father should be to a son; though I have never known his smile, felt his caresses, or received his blessing, yet now be all forgiven, all forgotten." And he cast himself with frantic violence upon the coffin.
It is difficult to describe the feelings with which Ranulph heard Luke's avowal. Amazement and dread predominated. Unable to stir, he stood gazing on in silence. Not so, Lady Rookwood. The moment for action was arrived. Addressing her son in a low tone, she said, "Your prey is within your power. Secure him."
"Wherefore?" rejoined Ranulph; "if he be my brother, shall I raise my hand against him?"
"Wherefore not ?" returned Lady Rookwood. "'T were an accursed deed," replied Ranulph.
tery is resolved. 'T was for this that I was summoned home." "Ha! what say you? summoned ! by whom?"
66 My father!"
"Your father?" echoed Lady Rookwood, in great surprise. Ay, my dead father! He has appeared to me since his decease.'
Ranulph, you rave you are distracted with grief-with astonishment."
He is a
"No, mother; but I will not struggle against my destiny." "Pshaw! your destiny is Rookwood, itsmanors, its land, its rent-roll, and its title; nor shall you yield it to a base-born churl like this. Let him prove his rights. Let the law adjudge them to him, and we will yield but not till then. I tell thee he has not the right, nor can he maintain it. deluded dreamer, who, having heard some idle tale of his birth, believes it, because it chimes with his wishes. I treated him with the scorn he deserved. I would have driven him from my presence, but he was armed, as you see, and forced me hither, perhaps to murder me; a deed he might have accomplished, had it not been for your intervention. His life is already forfeit, for an attempt of the same sort last night. Why else came he hither? for what else did he drag me to this spot? Let him answer that!"
"I will answer it," replied Luke, raising himself from the
bier. His face was of an ashy paleness, and ghastly as the corpse over which he leaned. "I had a deed to do, which I wished you to witness. It was a wild conception. But the means by which I have acquired the information of my rights, were wild. Ranulph, we are both the slaves of fate. You have received your summons hither - I have had mine. Your father's ghost called you; my mother's spectral hand beckoned me. Both are arrived. One thing more remains, and my mission is completed." Saying which, he drew forth the skeleton hand; and having first taken the wedding ring from the finger, he placed the withered limb upon the left breast of his father's body. "Rest there," he cried, "for ever." "Will you suffer that?" said Lady Rookwood, tauntingly, to her son.
"No,” replied Ranulph; "such profanation of the dead shall not be endured, were he ten times my brother. Stand aside," added he, advancing towards the bier, and motioning Luke away. "Withdraw your hand from my father's body,
and remove what you have placed upon it."
"I will neither remove it, nor suffer it to be removed," returned Luke. "'Twas for that purpose I came hither. 'T was to that hand he was united in life, in death he shall not be divided from it."
"Such irreverence shall not be," exclaimed Ranulph, seizing Luke with one hand, and snatching at the sere-clothes with the other. "Remove it, or by Heaven
"Leave go your hold," said Luke, in a voice of thunder; 66 you strive in vain."
Ranulph ineffectually attempted to push him backwards; and shaking away the grasp that was fixed upon his collar, seized his brother's wrist, so as to prevent the accomplishment of his purpose. In this unnatural and indecorous strife, the corpse of their father was reft of its covering, and the hand discovered lying upon the pallid breast.
And as if the wanton impiety of their conduct called forth an immediate rebuke, even from the dead, a frown seemed to pass over Sir Piers's features, as their angry glances fell in that direction. This startling effect was occasioned by the approach of Lady Rookwood, whose shadow falling over the brow and visage of the deceased produced the appearance we have described. Simultaneously quitting each other, with a deep
sense of shame, mingled with remorse, both remained, their eyes fixed upon the dead, whose repose they had violated. Folding the grave-clothes decently over the body, Luke prepared to depart.
"Hold!” cried Lady Rookwood; you go not hence." My brother Ranulph will not oppose my departure," returned Luke, "who else shall prevent it?
"That will I," cried a sharp voice behind him; and, ere he could turn to ascertain from whom the exclamation proceeded, Luke felt himself grappled by two nervous assailants, who, snatching the pistol from his hold, fast pinioned his arms. This was scarcely the work of a moment, and he was a prisoner before he could offer any resistance. A strong smile of exultation evinced Lady Rookwood's satisfaction.
"Bravo, my lads, bravo!" cried Coates, stepping forward, for he it was under whose skilful superintendence the seizure had been effected: "famously managed; my father, the thieftaker's runners couldn't have done it better - hand me that pistol — loaded, I see slugs, no doubt oh, he's a precious rascal search him turn his pockets inside out, while I speak to her ladyship." Saying which, the brisk attorney, enchanted with the feat he had performed, approached Lady Rookwood with a profound bow, and an amazing smirk of self-satisfaction. "Just in time to prevent mischief," said he; "hope your ladyship does not suffer any inconvenience from the alarm beg pardon, annoyance I meant to say,which this horrible outrage must have occasioned; excessively disagreeable this sort of thing, to a lady at any time, but at a period like this more than usually provoking. However, we have the villain safe enough. Very lucky I happened to be in the way. Perhaps your ladyship would like to know how I discovered
"Not now," replied Lady Rookwood, checking the volubility of the man of law. I thank you, Mr. Coates, for the service you have rendered me; you will now add materially to the obligation by removing the prisoner with all convenient despatch."
Certainly, if your ladyship wishes it. Shall I detain him a close prisoner in the hall for the night, or remove him at once to the lock-up house in the village?"
"Where you please, so you do it quickly," replied Lady