Nothing could be further from Mr. Tyrrel's intention than to suffer hi_roject to be thus terminated. No sooner was he freed from the fear of hi_ousekeeper's interference, than he changed the whole system of his conduct.
He ordered Miss Melville to be closely confined to her apartment, and deprive_f all means of communicating her situation to any one out of his own house.
He placed over her a female servant, in whose discretion he could confide, an_ho, having formerly been honoured with the amorous notices of the squire, considered the distinctions that were paid to Emily at Tyrrel Place as a_surpation upon her more reasonable claims. The squire himself did every thin_n his power to blast the young lady's reputation, and represented to hi_ttendants these precautions as necessary, to prevent her from eloping to hi_eighbour, and plunging herself in total ruin.
As soon as Miss Melville had been twenty-four hours in durance, and there wa_ome reason to suppose that her spirit might be subdued to the emergency o_er situation, Mr. Tyrrel thought proper to go to her, to explain the ground_f her present treatment, and acquaint her with the only means by which sh_ould hope for a change. Emily no sooner saw him, than she turned towards hi_ith an air of greater firmness than perhaps she had ever assumed in her life, and accosted him thus:—
"Well, sir, is it you? I wanted to see you. It seems I am shut up here by you_rders. What does this mean? What right have you to make a prisoner of me?
What do I owe you? Your mother left me a hundred pounds: have you ever offere_o make any addition to my fortune? But, if you had, I do not want it. I d_ot pretend to be better than the children of other poor parents; I ca_aintain myself as they do. I prefer liberty to wealth. I see you ar_urprised at the resolution I exert. But ought I not to turn again, when I a_rampled upon? I should have left you before now, if Mrs. Jakeman had no_ver-persuaded me, and if I had not thought better of you than by your presen_ehaviour I find you deserve. But now, sir, I intend to leave your house thi_oment, and insist upon it, that you do not endeavour to prevent me."
Thus saying, she rose, and went towards the door, while Mr. Tyrrel stoo_hunderstruck at her magnanimity. Seeing, however, that she was upon the poin_f being out of the reach of his power, he recovered himself and pulled he_ack.
"What is in the wind now? Do you think, strumpet; that you shall get th_etter of me by sheer impudence? Sit down! rest you satisfied!—So you want t_now by what right you are here, do you? By the right of possession. Thi_ouse is mine, and you are in my power. There is no Mrs. Jakeman now to spiri_ou away; no, nor no Falkland to bully for you. I have countermined you, dam_e! and blown up your schemes. Do you think I will be contradicted and oppose_or nothing? When did you ever know any body resist my will without being mad_o repent? And shall I now be browbeaten by a chitty-faced girl?—I have no_iven you a fortune! Damn you! who brought you up? I will make you a bill fo_lothing and lodging. Do not you know that every creditor has a right to sto_is runaway debtor. You may think as you please; but here you are till yo_arry Grimes. Heaven and earth shall not prevent but I will get the better o_our obstinacy!"
"Ungenerous, unmerciful man! and so it is enough for you that I have nobody t_efend me! But I am not so helpless as you may imagine. You may imprison m_ody, but you cannot conquer my mind. Marry Mr. Grimes! And is this the way t_ring me to your purpose? Every hardship I suffer puts still further distan_he end for which I am thus unjustly treated. You are not used to have you_ill contradicted! When did I ever contradict it? And, in a concern that is s_ompletely my own, shall my will go for nothing? Would you lay down this rul_or yourself, and suffer no other creature to take the benefit of it? I wan_othing of you: how dare you refuse me the privilege of a reasonable being, t_ive unmolested in poverty and innocence? What sort of a man do you sho_ourself, you that lay claim to the respect and applause of every one tha_nows you?"
The spirited reproaches of Emily had at first the effect to fill Mr. Tyrre_ith astonishment, and make him feel abashed and overawed in the presence o_his unprotected innocent. But his confusion was the result of surprise. Whe_he first emotion wore off, he cursed himself for being moved by he_xpostulations; and was ten times more exasperated against her, for daring t_efy his resentment at a time when she had every thing to fear. His despoti_nd unforgiving propensities stimulated him to a degree little short o_adness. At the same time his habits, which were pensive and gloomy, led hi_o meditate a variety of schemes to punish her obstinacy. He began to suspec_hat there was little hope of succeeding by open force, and therefor_etermined to have recourse to treachery.
He found in Grimes an instrument sufficiently adapted to his purpose. Thi_ellow, without an atom of intentional malice, was fitted, by the mer_oarseness of his perceptions, for the perpetration of the greatest injuries.
He regarded both injury and advantage merely as they related to th_ratifications of appetite; and considered it an essential in true wisdom, t_reat with insult the effeminacy of those who suffer themselves to b_ormented with ideal misfortunes. He believed that no happier destiny coul_efal a young woman than to be his wife; and he conceived that tha_ermination would amply compensate for any calamities she might suppos_erself to undergo in the interval. He was therefore easily prevailed upon, b_ertain temptations which Mr. Tyrrel knew how to employ, to take part in th_lot into which Miss Melville was meant to be betrayed.
Matters being thus prepared, Mr. Tyrrel proceeded, through the means of th_aoler (for the experience he already had of personal discussion did no_ncline him to repeat his visits), to play upon the fears of his prisoner.
This woman, sometimes under the pretence of friendship, and sometimes wit_pen malice, informed Emily, from time to time, of the preparations that wer_aking for her marriage. One day, "the squire had rode over to look at a nea_ittle farm which was destined for the habitation of the new-married couple;"
and at another, "a quantity of live stock and household furniture wa_rocured, that every thing might be ready for their reception." She then tol_er "of a licence that was bought, a parson in readiness, and a day fixed fo_he nuptials." When Emily endeavoured, though with increased misgivings, t_idicule these proceedings as absolutely nugatory without her consent, he_rtful gouvernante related several stories of forced marriages, and assure_er that neither protestations, nor silence, nor fainting, would be of an_vail, either to suspend the ceremony, or to set it aside when performed.
The situation of Miss Melville was in an eminent degree pitiable. She had n_ntercourse but with her persecutors. She had not a human being with whom t_onsult, who might afford her the smallest degree of consolation an_ncouragement. She had fortitude; but it was neither confirmed nor directed b_he dictates of experience. It could not therefore be expected to be s_nflexible, as with better information it would, no doubt, have been found.
She had a clear and noble spirit; but she had some of her sex's errors. He_ind sunk under the uniform terrors with which she was assailed, and he_ealth became visibly impaired.
Her firmness being thus far undermined, Grimes, in pursuance of hi_nstructions, took care, in his next interview, to throw out an insinuatio_hat, for his own part, he had never cared for the match, and since she was s_verse to it, would be better pleased that it should never take place. Betwee_ne and the other however, he was got into a scrape, and now he supposed h_ust marry, will he, nill he. The two squires would infallibly ruin him upo_he least appearance of backwardness on his part, as they were accustomed t_o every inferior that resisted their will. Emily was rejoiced to find he_dmirer in so favourable a disposition; and earnestly pressed him to giv_ffect to this humane declaration. Her representations were full of eloquenc_nd energy. Grimes appeared to be moved at the fervency of her manner; bu_bjected the resentment of Mr. Tyrrel and his landlord. At length, however, h_uggested a project, in consequence of which he might assist her in he_scape, without its ever coming to their knowledge, as, indeed, there was n_ikelihood that their suspicions would fix upon him. "To be sure," said he,
"you have refused me in a disdainful sort of a way, as a man may say. Mayha_ou thought I was no better 'an a brute: but I bear you no malice, and I wil_how you that I am more kind-hearted 'an you have been willing to think. It i_ strange sort of a vagary you have taken, to stand in your own light, an_isoblige all your friends. But if you are resolute, do you see? I scorn to b_he husband of a lass that is not every bit as willing as I; and so I wil_ven help to put you in a condition to follow your own inclinations."
Emily listened to these suggestions at first with eagerness and approbation.
But her fervency somewhat abated, when they came to discuss the minute part_f the undertaking. It was necessary, as Grimes informed her, that her escap_hould be effected in the dead of the night. He would conceal himself for tha_urpose in the garden, and be provided with false keys, by which to delive_er from her prison. These circumstances were by no means adapted to calm he_erturbed imagination. To throw herself into the arms of the man whos_ntercourse she was employing every method to avoid, and whom, under the ide_f a partner for life, she could least of all men endure, was, no doubt, a_xtraordinary proceeding. The attendant circumstances of darkness and solitud_ggravated the picture. The situation of Tyrrel Place was uncommonly lonely; it was three miles from the nearest village, and not less than seven from tha_n which Mrs. Jakeman's sister resided, under whose protection Miss Melvill_as desirous of placing herself. The ingenuous character of Emily did no_llow her once to suspect Grimes of intending to make an ungenerous and bruta_dvantage of these circumstances; but her mind involuntarily revolted agains_he idea of committing herself, alone, to the disposal of a man, whom she ha_ately been accustomed to consider as the instrument of her treacherou_elation.
After having for some time revolved these considerations, she thought of th_xpedient of desiring Grimes to engage Mrs. Jakeman's sister to wait for he_t the outside of the garden. But this Grimes peremptorily refused. He eve_lew into a passion at the proposal. It showed very little gratitude, t_esire him to disclose to other people his concern in this dangerous affair.
For his part, he was determined, in consideration of his own safety, never t_ppear in it to any living soul. If Miss did not believe him, when he mad_his proposal out of pure good-nature, and would not trust him a single inch, she might even see to the consequences herself. He was resolved to condescen_o further to the whims of a person who, in her treatment of him, had show_erself as proud as Lucifer himself.
Emily exerted herself to appease his resentment; but all the eloquence of he_ew confederate could not prevail upon her instantly to give up her objection.
She desired till the next day to consider of it. The day after was fixed b_r. Tyrrel for the marriage ceremony. In the mean time she was pestered wit_ntimations, in a thousand forms, of the fate that so nearly awaited her. Th_reparations were so continued, methodical, and regular, as to produce in he_he most painful and aching anxiety. If her heart attained a moment'_ntermission upon the subject, her female attendant was sure, by some sly hin_r sarcastical remark, to put a speedy termination to her tranquillity. Sh_elt herself, as she afterwards remarked, alone, uninstructed, just broke_oose, as it were, from the trammels of infancy, without one single creatur_o concern himself in her fate. She, who till then never knew an enemy, ha_ow, for three weeks, not seen the glimpse of a human countenance, that sh_ad not good reason to consider as wholly estranged to her at least, if no_nrelentingly bent on her destruction. She now, for the first time, experienced the anguish of never having known her parents, and being cast upo_he charity of people with whom she had too little equality, to hope t_eceive from them the offices of friendship.
The succeeding night was filled with the most anxious thoughts. When _omentary oblivion stole upon her senses, her distempered imagination conjure_p a thousand images of violence and falsehood; she saw herself in the hand_f her determined enemies, who did not hesitate by the most daring treacher_o complete her ruin. Her waking thoughts were not more consoling. Th_truggle was too great for her constitution. As morning approached, sh_esolved, at all hazards, to put herself into the hands of Grimes. Thi_etermination was no sooner made, than she felt her heart sensibly lightened.
She could not conceive any evil which could result from this proceeding, tha_eserved to be put in the balance against those which, under the roof of he_insman, appeared unavoidable.
When she communicated her determination to Grimes, it was not possible to sa_hether he received pleasure or pain from the intimation. He smiled indeed; but his smile was accompanied by a certain abrupt ruggedness of countenance, so that it might equally well be the smile of sarcasm or of congratulation.
He, however, renewed his assurances of fidelity to his engagements an_unctuality of execution. Meanwhile the day was interspersed with nuptia_resents and preparations, all indicating the firmness as well as security o_he directors of the scene. Emily had hoped that, as the crisis approached, they might have remitted something of their usual diligence. She was resolved, in that case, if a fair opportunity had offered, to give the slip both to he_ailors, and to her new and reluctantly chosen confederate. But, thoug_xtremely vigilant for that purpose, she found the execution of the ide_mpracticable.
At length the night, so critical to her happiness, approached. The mind o_mily could not fail, on this occasion, to be extremely agitated. She ha_irst exerted all her perspicacity to elude the vigilance of her attendant.
This insolent and unfeeling tyrant, instead of any relentings, had only sough_o make sport of her anxiety. Accordingly, in one instance she hid herself, and, suffering Emily to suppose that the coast was clear, met her at the en_f the gallery, near the top of the staircase. "How do you do, my dear?" sai_he, with an insulting tone. "And so the little dear thought itself cunnin_nough to outwit me, did it? Oh, it was a sly little gipsy! Go, go back, love; troop!" Emily felt deeply the trick that was played upon her. She sighed, bu_isdained to return any answer to this low vulgarity. Being once more in he_hamber, she sat down in a chair, and remained buried in reverie for more tha_wo hours. After this she went to her drawers, and turned over, in a hurryin_onfused way, her linen and clothes, having in her mind the provision it woul_e necessary to make for her elopement. Her jailor officiously followed he_rom place to place, and observed what she did for the present in silence. I_as now the hour of rest. "Good night, child," said this saucy girl, in th_ct of retiring. "It is time to lock up. For the few next hours, the time i_our own. Make the best use of it! Do'ee think ee can creep out at the key- hole, lovey? At eight o'clock you see me again. And then, and then," adde_he, clapping her hands, "it is all over. The sun is not surer to rise, tha_ou and your honest man to be made one."
There was something in the tone with which this slut uttered her farewell, that suggested the question to Emily, "What does she mean? Is it possible tha_he should know what has been planned for the few next hours?"—This was th_irst moment that suspicion had offered itself, and its continuance was short.
With an aching heart she folded up the few necessaries she intended to tak_ith her. She instinctively listened, with an anxiety that would almost hav_nabled her to hear the stirring of a leaf. From time to time she thought he_ar was struck with the sound of feet; but the treading, if treading it were, was so soft, that she could never ascertain whether it were a real sound, o_he mere creature of the fancy. Then all was still, as if the universal motio_ad been at rest. By and by she conceived she overheard a noise as of buzzin_nd low-muttered speech. Her heart palpitated; for a second time she began t_oubt the honesty of Grimes. The suggestion was now more anxious than before; but it was too late. Presently she heard the sound of a key in her chamber- door, and the rustic made his appearance. She started, and cried, "Are w_iscovered? did not I hear you speak?" Grimes advanced on tiptoe with hi_inger to his lip. "No, no," replied he, "all is safe!" He took her by th_and, led her in silence out of the house, and then across the garden. Emil_xamined with her eye the doors and passages as they proceeded, and looked o_ll sides with fearful suspicion; but every thing was as vacant and still a_he herself could have wished. Grimes opened a back-door of the garden alread_nlocked, that led into an unfrequented lane. There stood two horses read_quipped for the journey, and fastened by their bridles to a post not si_ards distant from the garden. Grimes pushed the door after them.
"By Gemini," said he, "my heart was in my mouth. As I comed along to you, _aw Mun, coachey, pop along from the back-door to the stables. He was within _op, step, and jump of me. But he had a lanthorn in his hand, and he did no_ee me, being as I was darkling." Saying this, he assisted Miss Melville t_ount. He troubled her little during the route; on the contrary, he wa_emarkably silent and contemplative, a circumstance by no means disagreeabl_o Emily, to whom his conversation had never been acceptable.
After having proceeded about two miles, they turned into a wood, through whic_he road led to the place of their destination. The night was extremely dark, at the same time that the air was soft and mild, it being now the middle o_ummer. Under pretence of exploring the way, Grimes contrived, when they ha_lready penetrated into the midst of this gloomy solitude, to get his hors_breast with that of Miss Melville, and then, suddenly reaching out his hand, seized hold of her bridle. "I think we may as well stop here a bit," said he.
"Stop!" exclaimed Emily with surprise; "why should we stop? Mr. Grimes, wha_o you mean?"
"Come, come," said he, "never trouble yourself to wonder. Did you think I wer_uch a goose, to take all this trouble merely to gratify your whim? I' faith, nobody shall find me a pack-horse, to go of other folks' errands, withou_nowing a reason why. I cannot say that I much minded to have you at first; but your ways are enough to stir the blood of my grand-dad. Far-fetched an_ear-bought is always relishing. Your consent was so hard to gain, that squir_hought it was surest asking in the dark. A' said however, a' would have n_uch doings in his house, and so, do ye see, we are comed here."
"For God's sake, Mr. Grimes, think what you are about! You cannot be bas_nough to ruin a poor creature who has put herself under your protection!
"Ruin! No, no, I will make an honest woman of you, when all is done. Nay, non_f your airs; no tricks upon travellers! I have you here as safe AS a horse i_ pound; there is not a house nor a shed within a mile of us; and, if I mis_he opportunity, call me spade. Faith, you are a delicate morsel, and there i_o time to be lost!"
Miss Melville had but an instant in which to collect her thoughts. She fel_hat there was little hope of softening the obstinate and insensible brute i_hose power she was placed. But the presence of mind and intrepidity annexe_o her character did not now desert her. Grimes had scarcely finished hi_arangue, when, with a strong and unexpected jerk, she disengaged the bridl_rom his grasp, and at the same time put her horse upon full speed. She ha_carcely advanced twice the length of her horse, when Grimes recovered fro_is surprise, and pursued her, inexpressibly mortified at being so easil_verreached. The sound of his horse behind served but to rouse more completel_he mettle of that of Emily; whether by accident or sagacity, the anima_ursued without a fault the narrow and winding way; and the chase continue_he whole length of the wood.
At the extremity of this wood there was a gate. The recollection of thi_oftened a little the cutting disappointment of Grimes, as he thought himsel_ecure of putting an end, by its assistance, to the career of Emily; nor wa_t very probable that any body would appear to interrupt his designs, in suc_ place, and in the dead and silence of the night. By the most extraordinar_ccident, however, they found a man on horseback in wait at this gate. "Help, help!" exclaimed the affrighted Emily; "thieves! murder! help!" The man wa_r. Falkland. Grimes knew his voice; and therefore, though he attempted a sor_f sullen resistance, it was feebly made. Two other men, whom, by reason o_he darkness, he had not at first seen, and who were Mr. Falkland's servants, hearing the bustle of the rencounter, and alarmed for the safety of thei_aster, rode up; and then Grimes, disappointed at the loss of hi_ratification, and admonished by conscious guilt, shrunk from farther parley, and rode off in silence.
It may seem strange that Mr. Falkland should thus a second time have been th_aviour of Miss Melville, and that under circumstances the most unexpected an_ingular. But in this instance it is easily to be accounted for. He had hear_f a man who lurked about this wood for robbery or some other bad design, an_hat it was conjectured this man was Hawkins, another of the victims of Mr.
Tyrrel's rural tyranny, whom I shall immediately have occasion to introduce.
Mr. Falkland's compassion had already been strongly excited in favour o_awkins; he had in vain endeavoured to find him, and do him good; and h_asily conceived that, if the conjecture which had been made in this instanc_roved true, he might have it in his power not only to do what he had alway_ntended, but further, to save from a perilous offence against the laws an_ociety a man who appeared to have strongly imbibed the principles of justic_nd virtue. He took with him two servants, because, going with the expres_esign of encountering robbers, if robbers should be found, he believed h_hould be inexcusable if he did not go provided against possible accidents.
But he had directed them, at the same time that they kept within call, to b_ut of the reach of being seen; and it was only the eagerness of their zea_hat had brought them up thus early in the present encounter.
This new adventure promised something extraordinary. Mr. Falkland did no_mmediately recognise Miss Melville; and the person of Grimes was that of _otal stranger, whom he did not recollect to have ever seen. But it was eas_o understand the merits of the case, and the propriety of interfering. Th_esolute manner of Mr. Falkland, conjoined with the dread which Grimes, oppressed with a sense of wrong, entertained of the opposition of so elevate_ personage, speedily put the ravisher to flight. Emily was left alone wit_er deliverer. He found her much more collected and calm, than coul_easonably have been expected from a person who had been, a moment before, i_he most alarming situation. She told him of the place to which she desired t_e conveyed, and he immediately undertook to escort her. As they went along, she recovered that state of mind which inclined her to make a person to who_he had such repeated obligations, and who was so eminently the object of he_dmiration, acquainted with the events that had recently befallen her. Mr.
Falkland listened with eagerness and surprise. Though he had already know_arious instances of Mr. Tyrrel's mean jealousy and unfeeling tyranny, thi_urpassed them all; and he could scarcely credit his ears while he heard th_ale. His brutal neighbour seemed to realise all that has been told of th_assions of fiends. Miss Melville was obliged to repeat, in the course of he_ale, her kinsman's rude accusation against her, of entertaining a passion fo_r. Falkland; and this she did with the most bewitching simplicity an_harming confusion. Though this part of the tale was a source of real pain t_er deliverer, yet it is not to be supposed but that the flattering partialit_f this unhappy girl increased the interest he felt in her welfare, and th_ndignation he conceived against her infernal kinsman.
They arrived without accident at the house of the good lady under whos_rotection Emily desired to place herself. Here Mr. Falkland willingly lef_er as in a place of security. Such conspiracies as that of which she wa_ntended to have been the victim, depend for their success upon the perso_gainst whom they are formed being out of the reach of help; and the momen_hey are detected, they are annihilated. Such reasoning will, no doubt, b_enerally found sufficiently solid; and it appeared to Mr. Falkland perfectl_pplicable to the present case. But he was mistaken.