Chapter Fifteenth
The Dishonor
Quaker City
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All was silent within the Rose Chamber. For a single moment that pale visage glared from the crimson
hangings, concealing the entrance to the Walnut Room, and then with a measured footstep, Byrnewood
Arlington advanced along the floor, his countenance ghastly as the face of Lazarus, at the very instant, when in
obedience to the words of the Incarnate, life struggled with corruption and death, over his cheek and brow.

    Bring home to your mind the scene, when Lazarus lay prostrate in the grave, a stiffened corse, his face all
clammy with corruption, the closed eyes surrounded by loathsome circles of decay, the cheeks sunken, and the
lips fallen in: let the words of Jesus ring in your ears, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And then as the blue eyelids slowly
unclose, as the gleam of life shoots forth from the glassy eye, as the flush of health struggles with the yellowish
hue of decay along each cheek, as life and death mingling in that face for a single moment, maintain a fearful
combat for the mastery; then I pray you, gaze upon the visage of Byrnewood Arlington, and mark how like it is
to the face of one arisen from the dead; a ghastly face, on whose fixed outline the finger-traces of corruption are
yet visible, from whose eyes the film of the grave is not yet passed away.

    The gaze of Byrnewood, as he strode from the entrance of the Walnut Chamber, was riveted to the floor.
Had the eyes of the rattlesnake gleamed from the carpet, slowly drawing its victim to his ruin, Byrnewood could
not have fixed his gaze upon the object in the centre of the floor, with a more fearful and absorbing intensity.

    There, thrown prostrate on the gaudy carpet, insensible and motionless, the form of Mary Arlington lay at the
brother’s feet.

    He sank silently on his knees.

    He took her small white hand—now cold as marble—within his own, he swept the unbound tresses back
from her palid brow. Her eyes were closed as in death, her lips hung apart, the lower one trembling with a
scarcely perceptible movement, her cheek was pale as ashes, with a deep red tint in the centre.

    Byrnewood uttered no sound, nor shrieked forth any wild exclamation of revenge, or wo, or despair. He
silently drew the folds of the night-robe round her form, and veiled her bosom—but a moment agone warmed
into a glow by the heart’s fires, now paled by the fingers of the ravisher—he veiled her fair young bosom from
the light.

    It was a sad sight to look upon. That face, so fair and blooming, but a moment past, now pale as death, with
spot of burning red on the centre of each cheek: that bosom, a moment since, heaving with passion, now still and
motionless; those delicate hands with tiny fingers, which had bravely fought for honor, for virtue, for purity, an
instant ago, now resting cold and stiffened by her side.

    Thick tresses of dark brown hair, hung round her neck. With that same careful movement of his hand,
Byrnewood swept them aside. Along the smooth surface of that fair neck like some noisome reptile, trailing over
a lovely flower, a large vein, black and distorted, shot upward, darkening the glossy skin, while it told the story
of the maiden’s dishonor and shame.

    "My sister!" was the solitary exclamation that broke from Byrnewood’s lips as he gazed upon the form of the
unconscious girl, and his large dark eye, dilating as he spoke, glanced around with an expression of strange
meaning.

    He raised her form in his arms, and kissed her cold lips again and again. No tear trickled from his eyelids; no
sigh heaved his bosom; no deep muttered execration manifested the agitation of his soul.

    "My sister!" he again whispered, and gathered her more close to his heart.

    A slight flush deepening over her cheek, even while he spoke, gave signs of returning consciousness.

    Mary slowly unclosed her eyes, and gazed with a wandering glance around the room. An instant passed ere
she discovered that she lay in Byrnewood’s arms.

    "Oh, brother—" she exclaimed, not with a wild shriek, but in a low-toned voice, whose slightest accent
quivered with an emphasis of despair—"Oh, brother! Leave me—leave me. I am not worthy of your touch. I am
vile, brother, oh, most vile! Leave me—leave me, for I am lost!"

    "Mary!" whispered Byrnewood, resisting her attempt to unwind his arms from her form, while the blood,
filling the veins of his throat, produced an effect like strangulation—" Mary! Do not—do not speak thus—I—
I—"

    He could say no more, but his face dropped on her cold bosom, and the tears, which he had silently prayed
for, came at last.

    He wept, while that low choaking noise, sounding in his throat, that involuntary heaving of the chest, that
nervous quivering of the lip, all betokened the strong man wrestling with his agony.

    "Do not weep for me, brother—" she said, in the same low-toned voice—"I am polluted, brother, and am
not worthy of the slightest tear you shed for me. Unwind your arms—brother, do not resist me—for the strength
of despair is in these hands—unwind your arms, and let me no longer pollute you by my touch—"

    There was something fearful in the expression of her face as she spoke. She was no longer the trembling child
whose young face, marked the inexperience of her stainless heart. A new world had broken upon her soul, not a
world of green trees, silver streams and pleasant flowers, but a chaos of ashes, and mouldering flame; a lurid sky
above, a blasted soil below, and one immense horizon of leaden clouds, hemming in the universe of desolation.

    She had sprung from the maiden into the woman, but a blight was on her soul forever. The crime had not
only stained her person with dishonor, but, like the sickening warmth of the hot-house, it had forced the flower
of her soul, into sudden and unnatural maturity. It was the maturity of precocious experience. In her inmost soul,
she felt that she was a dishonored thing, whose very touch was pollution, whose presence, among the pure and
stainless, would be a bitter mockery and foul reproach. The guilt was not hers, but the Ruin blasted her purity
forever.

    "Unwind your arms, my brother—" she exclaimed, tearing herself from his embrace, with all a maniac’s
strength—"I am polluted. You are pure. Oh do not touch me—do not touch me. Leave me to my shame—oh,
leave me—"

    She unwound her form from his embrace, and sank crouching into a corner of the Rose Chamber, extending
her hands with a frightened gesture, as though she feared his slightest touch.

    "Mary—" shrieked Byrnewood, flinging his arms on high, with a movement of sudden agitation—"Oh, do not
look upon me thus! Come to me—oh, Mary—come to me, for I am your brother."

    The words, the look and the trembling movement of his outspread arms, all combined, acted like a spell upon
the intellect of the ruined girl. She rose wildly to her feet, as though impelled by some invisible influence, and fell
tremblingly into her brother’s arms.

    While one dark and horrible thought, was working its way through the avenues of his soul, he gathered her to
his breast again and again.

    And in that moment of silence and unutterable thought, the curtains leading into the Painted Chamber were
slowly thrust aside, and Lorrimer again appeared upon the scene. Stricken with remorse, he had fled with a
madman’s haste from the scene of his crime, and while his bosom was torn by a thousand opposing thoughts, he
had endeavored to drown the voice within him, and crush the memory of the nameless wrong. It was all in vain.
Impelled by an irresistible desire, to look again upon the victim of his crime, he re-entered the Rose Chamber. It
was a strange sight, to see the Brother kneeling on the floor, as he gathered his sister’s form in his arms, and yet
the Seducer, gave no sign nor indication of surprise.

    A fearful agitation was passing over the Libertine’s soul, as unobserved by the brother or sister, he stood
gazing upon them with a wandering glance. His face, so lately flushed with passion, in its vilest hues, was now
palest and livid. His white lips, trembled with a nervous moment, and his hands, extended on either side,
clutched vacantly at the air, as though he wrestled with an unseen foe.

    While the thought of horror, was slowly darkening over Byrnewood’s soul, a thought as dark and horrible
gathered like a Phantom over the mind of Lorrimer.

    A single word of explanation, will make the subsequent scene, clear and intelligible to the reader.

    From generation to generation, the family of the Lorrimer’s, had been subject to an aberration of intellect, as
sudden as it was terrible; always resulting from any peculiar agitation of mind, which might convulse the soul,
with an emotion remarkable for its power or energy. It was a hallucination, a temporary madness, a sudden
derangement of intellect. It always succeeded an uncontrollable outburst of anger, or grief, or joy. From father to
son, since the family had first come over to Pennsylvania, with the Proprietor and Peace-Maker William Penn,
this temporary derangement of intellect, had descended as a fearful heritage.

    Lorrimer had been subject to this madness, but once in his life, when his father’s corse lay stiffened before his
eyes. And now, as he stood gazing upon the form of the brother and sister, Lorrimer, felt this temporary
madness stealing over his soul, in the form of a strange hallucination, while he became conscious, that in a single
moment, the horror which shook his frame, would rise to his lips in words of agony and fear.

    "Raise your hands with mine, to Heaven, Mary—" exclaimed Byrnewood as the Thought which had been
working over his soul, manifested its intensity in words—"Raise your hands with mine, and curse the author of
your ruin! Lift your voice with mine, up to the God, who beheld the wrong—who will visit the wronger with a
doom meet, for his crime—lift your voice with mine, and curse him—"

    "Oh Byrnewood, do not, do not curse
him. The wrong has been done but do not, I beseech you, visit his
head with a curse—"

    "Hear me, oh God, before whom, I now raise my hands, in the vow of justice! In life I will be to this wretch,
as a Fate, a Doom, a Curse!

    "I am vile—oh God—steeped in the same vices, which blacken the heart of this man, cankered by the same
corruption. But the office, which I now take on myself, raising this right hand to thee, in witness of my fixed
purpose, would sanctify the darkest fiend in hell! I am the avenger of my sister’s wrong! She was innocent, she
was pure, she trusted and was betrayed! I will avenge her. Before thee, I swear to visit her wrong, upon the
head of her betrayer, with a doom never to be forgotten in the memory of man. This right hand I dedicate to this
solemn purpose—come what will, come what may, let danger threaten or death stand in my path, through
sickness and health, through riches or poverty, I now swear, to hold my steady pathway onward, my only object
in life—the avengement of my sister’s wrong! He
shall die by this hand—oh God—I swear it by thy name—I
swear it by my soul—I swear it by the Fiend who impelled the villain to this deed of crime—"

    As he whispered forth this oath, in a voice which speaking from the depths of his chest, had a hollow and
sepulchral sound, the fair girl flung herself on his breast, and with a wild shriek essayed to delay the utterance of
the curse, by gathering his face, to her bosom.

    For a moment her efforts were successful. Lorrimer had stood silent and pale, while the deep-toned voice of
Byrnewood Arlington, breaking in accents of doom upon his ear, had aided and strengthened the strange
hallucination which was slowly gathering over his brain like a mighty spell.

    "There is a wide river before me, its broad waves tinged with the last red rays of a winter sunset—" such
were the words he murmured, extending his hand, as though pointing to the scene, which dawned upon his
soul—"A wide river with its waves surging against the wharves of a mighty city. Afar I behold steeples and roofs
and towers, all glowing in the beams of the setting sun. And as I gaze, the waves turn to blood, red and ghastly
blood—and now the sky is a-flame, and the clouds sweep slowly past, bathed in the same crimson hue. All is
blood—the river rushes before me, and the sky and the city—all pictured in colors of blood.

    "An invisible hand is leading me to my doom. There is Death for me, in yonder river, and I know it, yet
down, down to the rivers banks, down, down into the red waters, I must go. Ha! ha! ‘Tis a merry death! The
blood-red waves rise above me—higher, higher, higher! Yonder is the city, yonder the last rays of the setting
sun, glitter on the roof and steeple, yonder is the blood-red sky—and ah! I tell ye I will not die—you shall not
sink me beneath these gory waves! Devil! Is not your vengeance satisfied—must you feast your eyes with the
sight of my closing agonies—must your hand grasp me by the throat, and your foot trample me beneath the
waves? I tell you I will not, will not die—"

    "Ha—ha—ha! Here’s purty going’s on—" laughed the hoarse voice of Devil-Bug, as his hideous form
appeared in the doorway of the Walnut Chamber, with his attendant negroes at his back—"Seems the gal
helped him off. There he sits—the ornery feller, with his sister in his arms—while Gusty, is a-doin’ some ravin’s
on his own indivdooal hook. Come here Glow-worm—here Musquito—come here my pets, and ‘tend to this
leetle family party—"

    In another instant the Rose Chamber became the scene of a strange picture.

    Byrnewood had arisen to his feet, while Lorrimer stood spell-bound by the hallucination which possessed his
brain. The handsome Libertine stood in the centre of the room, his form dilating to its full stature, his face the hue
of ashes, while with his hazel eyes, glaring on vacancy, he clutched wildly at the air, starting backward at the
same moment, as though some invisible hand, was silently impelling him to the brink of the blood -red river,
which rolled tumultuously at his feet, which slowly gathered around him, which began to heave upward to his
very lips.

    On one side, in a half-kneeling position, crouched Mary Arlington, her large blue eyes, from her pallid face,
as with her upraised hands, crossed over her bosom, she gazed upon the agitated countenance of the seducer,
with a glance of mingled awe and wonder; while, on the other side, stern and erect, Byrnewood, with his pale
visage darkening in a settled frown, with one foot advanced and his hand upraised, seemed about to strike the
libertine to the floor.

    In the background, rendered yet more hideous by the dimness of the scene, Devil-Bug stood grinning in
derisive triumph as he motioned his attendants, the Herculean negroes, to advance and secure their prey.

    There was silence for a single moment. Lorrimer still stood clutching at the vacant air, Mary still gazed upon
his face in awe, Byrnewood yet paused in his meditated blow, while Devil-Bug, with Musquito and Glow-worm
at his back, seemed quietly enjoying the entire scene, as he glanced from side to side with his solitary eye.

    "Unhand me—I will not die—" shrieked Lorrimer, as he fancied that phantom hand, gathering tightly round
his throat, while the red waters swept surging to his very lips—"I will not die—I defy—ah! ah! You strangle
me—"

    "The hour of your death has come! You have said it—and it shall be so!" whispered Byrnewood, advancing
a single step, as his dark eye was fixed upon the face of Lorrimer—"While your own guilty heart spreads a
blood-red river before your eyes, this hand—no phantom hand—shall work your death!"

    He sprang forward, while a shriek arose from Mary’s lips, he sprang forward with his eye blazing with
excitement, and his outspread hand ready for the work of vengeance, but as he sprang, the laugh of Devil-Bug
echoed at his back, and the sinewy arms of the negroes gathered suddenly round his form and flung him as
suddenly to the floor.

    "Here’s fine goin’s on—" exclaimed Devil-Bug, as he glanced from face to face—"A feller who’s been a
leetle too kind to a gal, stands a-makin’ speeches at nothin’.  The gal kneels on the carpet as though she were a
getting’ up a leetle prayer on her own account; and this ‘ere onery feller—git a good grip o’ him, you bull-
dogs—sets up a small shop o’ cussin’ and sells his cusses for nothin’! Here’s a tea party for ye—"

    "What does all this mean, Devil-Bug—" exclaimed Lorrimer, in his usual voice, as the hallucination passed
from him like a dream, leaving him utterly unconscious of the strange vision which had a moment since absorbed
his very soul—"What does all this mean? Ha! Byrnewood and Mary—I remember?
You are her brother—are
you not?"

    "I am her avenger—" said Byrnewood, with a ghastly smile, as he endeavoured to free himself from the grasp
of the negroes—"And your executioner! Within three days you shall die by this hand!"

    "Ha-ha-ha!" laughed Devil-Bug—"There’s more than one genelman as has got a say in that leetle matter!
How d’ye feel, young man? Did you ever take opium afore? You won’t go to sleep nor nothin’? We can’t do
what we like with you? Kin we? Ho-ho-ho!
I vonders how that’ill vork!"

Next week we begin
Book the Second
The Day after the First Night
The Forger

and in Chapter First
we discover the secrets of Dora Livingstone's lover

Fitz-Cowles at Home

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