Chapter Tenth
The Bridal
"I say Mutchy, my boy—" said Petriken, in a tone that indicated some lingering effects of his late debauch—
"How
do I do it? Clever—hey? D'ye like this face? Good—is it? If my magazine fails, I think I'll enter the
ministry for good. Why not start a Church of my own? When a man's fit for nothin' else, he can always find fools
enough to build him a church, and glorify him into a saint—"

"Do you think I
do the Uncle well?" whispered Mutchins, drawing his shirt collar up from the depths of his scarf,
into which it had fallen—"Devilish lucky you gave me the hint in time. 'Been the d——l to pay if we'd a-
disappointed Gus. What am I to say, Silly. 'Is
she not beautiful!' in a sort of an aside tone, and then fall on her
neck and kiss her? Eh, Silly?"

"That 'ill be coming it a little
too strong—" said Petriken, smoothing back his tow-colored hair—"You're merely
to take her by the finger-tips, and start as if her beauty overcame you, then exclaim 'God bless you my love,
God bless you—' as though your feelings were too strong for utterance—"

" 'God bless you, my love—' " echoed Mutchins—" 'God bless you'—that will do—hey, Silly? I feel quite an
interest in her already. Now Aunty, my dear and kind-hearted old relative, what in the d——l are
you to do?"

" Maybe I'll get up a convulsion or two—" said the dear old lady, as her colloped cheeks waggled heavily with
a smile—her enemies would have called it a hideous grin—"Maybe I'll do a hysteric or so. Maybe I won't? Dear
me, I'm in sich a fever to see my little pet of a grand-daughter! Ain't I?"

"Hist!" whispered Petriken—"There they are in the next room. I think I heard a kiss. Hush! Here they come—
d——n it, I can t find the marriage ceremony—"

No sooner had the words passed his lips, than Lorrimer appeared in the small doorway opening into the Rose
Chamber, and stepped softly along the floor of the Walnut Room. Mary in all her beauty hung on his arm. Her
robe of satin wound round her limbs, and trailed along the floor as she walked. At her side came Long-haired
Bess, glancing in the faces of the wedding guests with a meaning smile.

"Nephew, I forgive you. God bless you, my dear—I approve my nephew's choice—God bless you, my dear—"


And, as though his feelings over came him, Mutchins veiled his face in a large red handkerchief; beneath whose
capacious shelter he covertly supplied his mouth with a fresh morsel of tobacco.

"And is
this 'my grandchild?' Is this the dear pet? How I shall love her? Shan't I, grandson? Oh my precious,
how do you
do?"

The clergyman saluted the bride with a low bow.

A deep blush came mantling over Mary's face as she received these words of affection and tokens of kindness
from the Minister and the relatives of her husband, while a slight, yet meaning, expression of disgust flashed over
Lorrimer's features, as he observed the manner in which his minions and panders performed their parts.

With a glance of fire, Lorrimer motioned the clergyman to proceed with the ceremony.

This was the manner of the marriage.

Hand joined in hand, Lorrimer and Mary stood before the altar. The bridesmaid stood near the trembling bride,
whispering slight sentences of consolation in her ear. On the right hand of the clergyman, stood Mutchins, his red
round face, subdued into an expression of the deepest solemnity; on the other side, the vile hag of Monk-Hall,
with folded arms, and grinning lips, calmly surveyed the face of the fair young bride.

In a deep-toned voice, Petriken began the sublime marriage ceremony of the Protestant Episcopal Church.
There was no hope for the bride now. Trapped, decoyed, betrayed, she was about to be offered up, a terrible
sacrifice, on that unhallowed altar. Her trembling tones, joined with the deep voice of Lorrimer in every
response, and the marriage ceremony, drew near its completion. "There is no hope for her
now"—muttered
Bess, as her face shone with a glance of momentary compassion—"She is sold into the arms of shame!"

And at that moment, as the bride stood in all her beauty before the altar, her eyes downcast, her long hair
showering down over her shoulders, her face warming with blush after blush, while her voice in low tones
murmured each trembling response of the fatal ceremony, at the very moment when Lorrimer gazing upon her
face with a look of the deepest satisfaction, fancied the fulfilment of the maiden's dishonour, there shrieked from
the next chamber, a yell of such superhuman agony and horror, that the wedding guests were frozen with a
sudden awe, and transfixed like figures of marble to the floor.

The book fell from Petriken's trembling hands; Mutchins turned pale, and the old hag started backward with
sudden horror, while Bess stood as though stricken with the touch of death. Mary, poor Mary, grew white as
the grave-cloth, in the face; her hand dropped stiffly to her side, and she felt her heart grow icy within her bosom.

Lorrimer alone, fearless and undaunted, turned in the direction from whence that fearful yell had shrieked, and
as he turned he started back with evident surprise, mingled with some feelings of horror and alarm.


There, striding along the floor, came the figure of a young man, whose footsteps trembled as he walked, whose
face was livid as the face of a corpse, whose long black hair waved wild and tangled, back from his pale
forehead. His eye—Great God!—it shone as with a gleam from the flames of hell.

He moved his trembling lips, as he came striding on—for a moment the word, he essayed to speak, stuck in his
throat.

At last with a wild movement of his arms, he shouted in a voice whose tones of horror, mingled with heart
rending pathos, no man would like to hear twice in a life time, he shouted a single word—

"MARY!"

The bride turned slowly round. Her face was pale as death, and her blue eyes grew glassy as she turned. She
beheld the form of the intruder. One glance was enough.

"MY BROTHER!" she shrieked, and started forward as though about to spring in the stranger's arms; but
suddenly recoiling she fell heavily upon the breast of Lorrimer.

There was a moment of silence—all was hushed as the grave.

The stranger stood silent and motionless, regarding the awe-stricken bridal party, with one settled and burning
gaze. One and all, they shrank back as if blasted by his look. Even Lorrimer turned his head aside and held his
breath, for very awe.

The stranger advanced another step, and stood gazing in Lorrimer's face.

"
My Sister!" he cried in a husky voice, and then as if all further words died in his throat, his face was convulsed
by a spasmodic movement, and he shook his clenched hand madly in the seducer's face.

"Your name—" cried Lorrimer, as he laid the fainting form of the Bride in the arms of Long-haired Bess—
"Your name is Byrnewood. This lady is named Mary Arlington. There is some mistake here. The lady is no sister
of yours—"

"My name—" said the other, with a ghastly smile—"Ask this pale-faced craven what is my name! He
introduced me to you, this night by my full name. You at once forgot, all but my first name. My name, sir, is
Byrnewood Arlington. A name, sir, you will have cause to remember in this world and—devil that you are!—in
the next if you harm the slightest hair on the head of this innocent girl—"

Lorrimer started back aghast. The full horror of his mistake rushed upon him. And in that moment, while the
fainting girl lay insensible in Bessie's arms; while Petriken, and Mutchins, and the haggard old Abbess of the den,
stood stricken dumb with astonishment, quailing beneath the glance of the stranger; a long and bony arm was
thrust from behind the back of Byrnewood Arlington, the grim face Devil-Bug shone for a moment in the light,
and then a massive hand with talon-fingers, fell like a weight upon the wick of each candle, and the room was
wrapt in midnight blackness.

Then there was a trampling of feet to and fro, a gleam of light flashed for a moment, through the passage,
opening into the Rose Chamber, and then all was dark again.

"They are bearing my sister away!" was the thought that flashed over the mind of the Brother, as he rushed
toward the passage of the Rose Chamber—"I will rescue her from their grasp at the peril of my life!"

He rushed along, in the darkness, toward the curtain that concealed the entrance into the Rose Chamber. He
attempted to pass beyond the curtain, but he was received in the embrace of two muscular arms, that raised him
from his feet as though he had been a mere child, and then dashed him to the floor, with the impulse of a giant's
strength.

"Ha-ha-ha!—" laughed a hoarse voice—"You don't pass here, Mister. Not while 'Bijah's about! No you don't,
my feller—ha, ha, ha!"

"A light, Devil-Bug—" exclaimed a voice, that sounded from the centre of the darkened room.

In a moment a light, grasped in the talon-fingers of the Doorkeeper of Monk-Hall, flashed around the place.
Silent and alone Gus Lorrimer, stood in the centre of the room, his arms folded across his breast, while the dark
frown on his brow was the only outward manifestation of the violence of the struggle that had convulsed his very
soul, during that solitary moment of utter darkness. Calling all the resources of his mind to his aid, he had
resolved upon his course of action.

"
It is a fearful remedy, but a sure one—" he muttered as he again faced Byrnewood, who had just risen from
the floor, where he had been thrown by Mr. Abijah K. Jones—"Begone Devil-Bug—" he continued aloud—
"But wait without and see that Glow-worm and Musquito are at hand," he added in a meaning whisper. "Now
Sir, I have a word to say to
you—" And as he spoke he confronted the Brother of the girl, whose ruin he had
contrived with the ingenuity of an accomplished libertine, mingled with all the craft of an incarnate fiend.

Aching in every limb from his recent fall, Byrnewood stood pale and silent, regarding the libertine with a settled
gaze. In the effort to command his feelings, he pressed his teeth against his lower lip, until a thin line of blood
trickled down to his chin.

"You will allow that this, is a most peculiar case—" he exclaimed with a calm gaze, as he confronted
Byrnewood—"One in fact, that demands some painful thought. Will you favor me with ten minutes private
conversation?"

"You are very polite—" exclaimed Byrnewood with a withering sneer—"Here is a man, who commits a wrong
for which h——l itself has no name, and then—instead of shrinking from the sight of the man he has injured,
beyond the power of words to tell—he cooly demands ten minutes private conversation!"

"It is your interest to grant my request—" replied Lorrimer, with a manner as collected as though he had merely
said 'Pass the bottle, Byrnewood!'

"I presume I must submit—" replied Byrnewood—"But after the ten minutes are past—remember—that there is
not a fiend in hell whom I would not sooner hug to my bosom, than grant one moment's conversation to—a—
a—man—ha, ha—a
man like you. My sister's honor may be in your power. But remember—that as surely as
you wrong her, so surely you will pay for that wrong, with your life—"

"You then, grant me ten minutes conversation? You give me your word that during this period, you will keep
your seat, and listen patiently to all, that I may have to say? You nod assent. Follow me, then. A footstep or so
this way, will lead us to a pleasant room, the last of this range, where we can talk the matter over—"

He flung open the western door of the Walnut room, and led the way along a narrow entry, up a stairway with
some five steps, and in a moment stood before a small doorway, closing the passage at the head of the stairs. At
every footstep of the way, he held the light extended at arms length, and regarded Byrnewood with the cautious
glance of a man who is not certain at what moment, a concealed enemy may strike him in the back.

"My Library, Sir—" exclaimed Lorrimer as pushing open the door, he entered a small oblong room, some
twenty-feet in length and about half that extent in width. "A quiet little place where I sometimes amuse my self
with a book. There is a chair, Sir—please be seated—"

Seating himself upon a small stool, that stood near the wall of the room, furthest from the door, Byrnewood with
a single glance, took in all the details of the place, It was a small unpretending room, oblong in form, with rows
of shelves along its longest walls, facing each other, supplied with books of all classes, and of every description,
from the pondrous history to the trashy novel. The other walls at either end, were concealed by plain and neat
paper, of a modern pattern, which by no means harmonized with the ancient style of the carpet, whose half-
faded colors glowed dimly in the light. Along the wall of the chamber opposite Byrnewood, extended an old-
fashioned sofa, wide and roomy as a small sleeping couch; and from the centre of the place, arose a massive
table, fashioned like a chest, with substantial sides of carved oak, supply ing the place of legs. To all appearance
it was fixed and jointed, into the floor of the room.

Altogether the entire room, as its details were dimly revealed by the beams of the flickering lamp, wore a
cheerless and desolate look, increased by the absence of windows from the walls, and the ancient and worn-out
appearance which characterized the stool, the sofa and the table; the only furniture of the place. There was no
visible hearth, and no sign of fire, while the air cold and chilling had a musty and unwholesome taint, as though
the room had not been visited or opened for years.

Placing the lamp on the solitary table, Lorrimer flung himself carelessly on the sofa, and motioned Byrnewood,
to draw his seat nearer to the light. As Byrnewood seated himself beside the chest-like table, with his cheek
resting on his hand, the full details of his countenance, so pale, so colorless, so corpse-like, were disclosed to
the keen gaze of Lorrimer. The face of the Brother, was perfectly calm, although the large black eyes, dilated
with a glance that revealed the Soul, turning madly on itself and gnawing its own life, in very madness of thought,
while from the lips tightly compressed, there still trickled down, the same thin line of blood, rendered even more
crimson and distinct, by the extreme pallor of the countenance.

"You will at least admit, that
I have won the wager—" said Lorrimer, in a meaning tone, as he fixed his gaze
upon the death-like countenance of Byrnewood Arlington.

Byrnewood started, raised his hands suddenly, as if about to grasp the libertine by the throat, and then folding
his arms tightly over his chest, he exclaimed in a voice marked by unatural calmness—

"For ten minutes, sir, I have promised to listen to all—
all you may have to say. Go on, sir. But do not, I
beseech you, tempt me too far—"

"Exactly half-past three by my repeater—" cooly replied Lorrimer, looking at his watch—"At twenty minutes of
four, our conversations ends. Very good. Now, sir, listen to my proposition. Give me your word of honor, and
your oath, that when you leave this house, you will preserve the most positive secrecy with regard to—to—
everything—you may have witnessed within its walls; promise me this, under your word of honor and your
solemn oath, and I will give you my word of honor, my oath, that, in one hour from daybreak, your sister shall
be taken to her home, pure and stainless, as when first she left her father's threshold. Do you agree to this?"

"Do you see this hand?" answered Byrnewood, with a nervous tremour of- his lips, that imparted an almost
savage sneer to his countenance—"Do you see this flame? Sooner than agree to leave these walls, without—
my—my—without Mary, pure and stainless, mark ye, I would hold this good right hand in the blaze of this lamp,
until the flesh fell blackened and festering from the very bone. Are you answered?"

"Excuse me, sir—I was not speaking of any
anatomical experiments; however interesting such little efforts in
the surgical line, may be to you. I wished to make a compromise—"

"
A compromise!" echoed Byrnewood.

"Yes, a compromise. That melodramatic sneer becomes you well, but it would suit the pantomimist at the
Walnut street Theatre much better. What have I done with the girl, that you, or any other young blood about
town, would
not do, under similar circumstances. Who was it, that entered so heartily into the joke of the sham
marriage, when it was named in the Oyster Cellar? Who was it called the astrologer a knave—a fortuneteller—a
catch-penny cheat, when he—simple man!—advised me to give up the girl? I perceive, sir, you are touched. I
am glad to observe, that you appreciate the graphic truth of my remarks. You will not sneer at the word
'compromise' again, will you?"

"Oh, Mary! oh, Mary!"—whispered Byrnewood, drawing his arms yet more closely over his breast, as though
in the effort to command his agitation—"Mary! Was I placing your honor in the dice-box, when I made the
wager with yonder—
man? Was it your ruin the astrologer foretold, when he urged this devil—to turn back in
his career? Was it my
voice that cheered him onward in his work of infamy? Oh Mary, was it for this, for this,
that I loved you as brother never loved sister? Was it for this, that I wound you close to my inmost heart, since
first I could think or feel? Was it for
this, that in the holiest of all my memories, all my hopes, your name was
enshrined? Was it for this, that I pictured, again and again, every hour in the day, every moment of the night, the
unclouded prospects of your future life? Oh Mary, oh Mary, I may be wrong, I may be vile, I may be sunken as
low as the
man before me, yet my love for you, has been without spot, and without limit! And now Mary—oh
now—"

He paused. There was a husky sound in his throat, and the blood trickled faster from his tortured lip.

Lorrimer looked at him silently for a moment, and then, taking a small pen-knife from his pocket, began to pare
his nails, with a quiet and absent air, as though he did'nt exactly know what to do with himself. He wore the
careless and easy look of a gentleman, who having just dined, is wondering where in the deuce he shall spend
the afternoon.

"I say, Byrnie my boy—" he cried suddenly, with his eyes fixed on the operations of the knife—"Devilish odd,
ain't it? That little affair of yours, with
Annie? Wonder if she has any brother? Keen cut that—"

Had Mr. Lorrimer intended the allusion, about the keenness of the 'cut,' for Byrnewood instead of his nail-
paring knife, the remark would, perhaps, have been equally applicable. Byrnewood shivered at the name of
Annie, as though an ague-fit had passed suddenly over him. The 'cut' was rather keen, and somewhat deep. This
careless kind of intellectual surgery, sometimes makes ghastly wounds in the soul, which it so pleasantly dissects.

"May I ask what will be your course, in case you leave this place, without the lady? You are silent. I suppose
there will be a suit instituted for
'abduction,' and a thousand legal et ceteras? This place will be ransacked for
the girl, and your humble servant will be threatened with the Penitentiary? A pleasant prospect, truly. Why do
you look so earnestly at that hand?"

"You have your pleasant prospects—I have mine—" exclaimed Byrnewood with a convulsive smile—"You see
that right hand, do you? I was just thinking, how long it might be ere that hand would be reddened with your
heart's blood—"

"Poh! poh! Such talk is d——d boyish. D'ye agree to my proposition? Yes or no?"

"You have had my answer—"

"In case I surrender the girl to you, will you then promise unbroken secrecy, with regard to the events of this
night?"

"I will make no terms whatever with a
scoundrel and a coward!" hissed Byrnewood, between his clenched
teeth.

"Pshaw! It is high time this mask should be cast aside—" exclaimed Lorrimer, as his eye flashed with an
expression of triumph, mingled with anger and scorn—"And do you suppose that on any condition, or for any
consideration, I would leave this fair prize slip from my grasp? Why, innocent that you are, you might have piled
oath on oath, until your very breath grew husky in the effort, and still—still—despite of all your oaths, the girl
would remain mine!

"Know me as I am! Not the mere man-about-town, not the wine-drinking companion, not the fashionable
addle-head you think me, but the
Man of Pleasure! You will please observe, how much lies concealed in that
title. You have talents—these talents have been from childhood, devoted to books, or mercantile pursuits. I have
some talent—I flatter myself—and that talent, aided and strengthened in all its efforts, by wealth, from very
boyhood, has been devoted to Pleasure, which, in plain English, means—Woman.

"Woman—the means of securing her affection, of compassing her ruin, of enjoying her beauty, has been my
book, my study, my science, nay my
profession from boyhood. And am I, to be foiled in one of the most
intricate of all my adventures, by such a child—a mere boy like you? Are you to frighten me, to scare me back
in the path I have chosen; to wrest this flower, to obtain which I have perilled so much, are
you to wrest his
flower from
my grasp? You are so strong, so mighty, you talk of reddening your hand in my heart's blood—and
all such silly vaporing, that would be hissed by the pit-boys, if they but heard it, spouted forth by a fifth-rate hero
of the green-room and yet with all this—
you are my prisoner—"

"
Your prisoner?" echoed Byrnewood slowly rising to his feet.

"Keep cool, Sir—" cried Lorrimer with a glance of scorn—"Two minutes of the ten, yet remain. I have your
word of honor, you will remember. Yes—
my prisoner! Why do you suppose for a moment, that I would let
you go forth from this house, when you have it in your power to raise the whole city on my head? You know
that I have placed myself under the ban of the laws by this adventure. You know that the Penitentiary would
open its doors to enclose me, in case I was to be tried for this affair. You know that popular indignation, poverty
and disgrace, stare me in the very eyes, the moment this adventure is published to the world, and yet—ha, ha,
ha—you still think me, the egregious ass, to open the doors of Monk-Hall to you, and pleasantly bid you go
forth, and ruin me forever! Sir, you are my prisoner."

 "Ha—ha—ha! I will be even with you—" laughed Byrnewood—"You may murder me, in the act but I still
have the power to arouse the neighbourhood. I can shriek for help. I can yell out the cry of Murder, from this
foul den, until your doors are flung open by the police, and the secrets of your rookery laid bare to the public
gaze—"

"Scream, yell, cry out, until your throat cracks! Who will hear you? Do you know how many feet, you are
standing, above the level of the earth? Do you know the thickness of these walls? Do you know that you stand
in the Tower-Room of Monk-Hall? Try your voice—by all means—I should like to hear you cry Murder or
Fire, or even hurra for some political candidate, if the humor takes you—"

Byrnewood sank slowly in his seat, and rested his cheek upon his hand. His face was even paler than before—
the consciousness that he was in the power of this libertine, for life or death, or any act of outrage, came stealing
round his heart, like the probings of a surgeon's knife.

"Go on Sir—" he muttered biting his nether lip, until the blood once more came trickling down to his chin—"The
hour is yours.
Mine will come—"

"At my bidding; not a moment sooner—" laughed Lorrimer rising to his feet—"Why man, death surrounds you
in a thousand forms, and you know it not. You may walk on Death, you may breathe it, you may drink it, you
may draw it to you with a fingers-touch, and yet be as unconscious of its presence, as a blind man is of a
shadow in the night—"

Byrnewood slowly rose from his seat. He clasped his hands nervously together, and his lips muttered an
incoherent sound as he endeavoured to speak.

"Do what you will with me—" he cried, in a husky voice—"But oh, for the sake of God,
do not wrong my
sister!
"

"She is in
my power!" whispered Lorrimer, with a smile, as he gazed upon the agitated countenance of the
brother—"She is in
my power!"

"Then by the eternal God, you are in mine!" shrieked Byrnewood, as with one wild bound, he sprang at the tall
form of Lorrimer, and fixed both hands around his throat, with a grasp like that of the tigress when she fights for
her young—"You are in my power! You cannot unloose my grasp! Ha—ha—you grow black in the face!
Struggle!—struggle!—With all your strength you cannot tear my hands from your throat—you shall die like a
felon, by the eternal God!"

Lorrimer was taken by complete surprise. The wild bound of Byrnewood had been so sudden, the grasp of his
hands, was so much like the terrific clutch with which the drowning man makes a last struggle for life, that for a
single moment, the handsome Gus Lorrimer reeled to and fro like a drunken man, while his manly features
darkened over with a hue of livid blackness, as ghastly as it was instantaneous. The struggle lasted but a single
moment. With the convulsive grasp tightening around his throat, Lorrimer sank suddenly on one knee, dragging
his antagonist with him, and as he sank, extending his arm, with an effort as desperate as that which fixed the
clinched fingers around his throat, he struck Byrnewood a violent blow with his fist, directly behind the ear.
Byrnewood sank senseless to the floor, his fingers unclosing their grasp of Lorrimer's throat, as slowly and stiffly
as though they were seized with a sudden cramp.

"Pretty devilish and d——d hasty!" muttered Lorrimer, arranging his cravat and vest—"Left the marks of his
fingers on my throat, I'll be bound! Hallo—Musquito! Hallo, Glow-worm—here's work for you!"

The door of the room swung suddenly open, and the herculean negroes stood in the doorway, their sable faces,
agitated by the same hideous grin, while the sleeves of the red flannel shirts, which formed their common
costume, rolled up to the shoulders disclosed the iron-sinews of their jet-black arms.

"Mark this man, I say—"

"Yes—Massa—I doo-es—" chuckled Musquito, as his loathsome lips, inclining suddenly downward toward
the jaw, on either side of his face, were convulsed by a brutal grin—"Dis nigger nebber mark a man yet, but dat
somefin' cum ob it—"

"Massa Gusty no want de critter to go out ob dis 'ere door?" exclaimed Glow-worm, as the long rows of his
teeth, bristling from his thick lips, shone in the light like the fangs of some strange beast—" 'Spose he go out ob
dat door? 'Spose de nigger no mash him head,
bad? Ain't Glow-worm got fist? Hah-hah! 'Sketo did you ebber
see dis chile (child) knock an ox down? Hah-hah!"

"You are to watch outside the door all night—" exclaimed Lorrimer, as he stood upon the threshold—"Let him
not leave the room on the peril of your lives. D'ye mark me, fellows?"

And as he spoke, motioning the negroes from the room, he closed the door and disappeared.

He had not gone a moment when Byrnewood, recovering from the stunning effect of the blow which had saved
Lorrimer's life, slowly staggered to his feet, and gazed around with a bewildered glance.

"
'On Christmas Eve—'  " he murmured wildly, as though repeating words whispered to his ear in a dream—"
'On Christmas Eve, at the hour of sundown, one of ye will die by the other's hand—the winding sheet is
woven and the coffin made!'
"

Shall the astrologer's doom come to pass?
Will innocent Mary escape the clutches of these villains?
But who can escape from the monstrous talon-like hands of  
the Doorkeeper of Monk-Hall?
Next week's chapter:

Devil-Bug

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