210 TYLNEY HALL. judices, as the very queen of the wild vagrant tribe I am supposed to govern." " At least," said St. Kitts, who began to be touched by her devoted professions of attachment, "you will allow me to contribute to your personal comforts. My uncle's allowance is liberal, and, with my own small annuity, ena- bles me to lay by a sum that I would cheerfully appropriate to your service. It would at least provide a decent lodging." " I am lodged already," said the woman, " and have a home, such as befits my homely fare and my household habits. You shall have my secret, and I must know some of yours. We are met in the very spot for such divulgings where a ; change of the cheek from white to red, or from red to white, would be perfectly invisible. In this solitary lane there is a night-like shadow even at noonday, and the over-arching trees lay their heads together and tremble and whisper like state conspirators. You have heard of Hennessey's Hut ?" the Creole nodded assent " a temporary lodge, for the use of some gamekeeper who committed murder there, or was murdered, I rememb>?r not which. It is there that I dwell, a desolate woman within desolate walls, and in the solitude I covet; for the hut is haunted, and the vulgar take care not to intrude on my retreat for fear of encountering the duppy I mean to say the ghost. Some day you shall visit me there ; but mind, Walter Tyrrel, not without an invitation." " Your secret shall be as safe with me," said the Creole, as in the keeping of the dead. And now, under the same solemn pledge, what do you seek to know from me ?" " It concerns yourself," said the woman; " I have some foreknowledge of your fate, for, whatever man or woman wishes to be, they may generally become ; we are masters and mistresses of our own fortunes, more strictly than the weak and the timid are willing to admit. My questions refer therefore to the present, rather than to future contin- gencies : and, in the first place, for what profession does your uncle design you when you shall quit the University ? " "For my father's profession," said the Creole, "the army ; Sir Mark has promised to purchase me a commission in the Guards."
TYLNEY HALL. 211 " Aye," said the woman, " to carry the colours throughout the prime of your life, and be a captain at fifty, if not earlier slain in battle, or carried off by a duel : for your complexion will be apt to excite the raillery of the officers. They may some day think of tracing your pedi- gree to the black cymbal-player in the band of the regiment, aye there's a scowl, and your hand seeks for a sword ! But to be serious. Your main hope is your uncle : but fox- hunters sometimes die suddenly, a neck is broken in an instant, and after the death of Sir Mark, how would your prospects look if gilded with no more sunshine than would be shed on them by the new Baronet, Sir " Ringwood ? ' ' " Cloudy enough, heaven knows ! answered the Creole. "But again," said the woman, "if Sir Ringwood also should break his neck, for he too is a follower of Nimrod, and that pale-faced youth, his brother, should succeed to the title and the estates, would your hopes be brighter then ? " " Not a whit," said the Creole. " If the first of November were foggy and gloomy, I should hardly look for better weather on the second. My two cousins, with " respect to their love for me, are equal shareholders in a very small capital/' " And if Raby should die too," said the woman, " what would happen then ? " "The estates would go to the heir-at-law," said the l( Creole ; and Tylney Hall would have a new master." " Yourself, Walter Tyrrel ; your own self ; " said the woman. " Has it never entered your mind to inquire into the order of the succession ? " " Never," said the Creole. " As a natural son, the subject did not concern me ; nor does it much interest me now, when I am declared legitimate. It is such a remote chance as I would sell, this minute, for Esau's mess of pottage." "Nevertheless," said the woman, "it is such a chance as may happen. out a war. In I have known as rapid promotions with- the West Indies, the cassava-worm and a long thumbnail would make it certain j but to you that is a riddle. As I said before, hard riders get hard falls ; and p 2