428 TYLNEY HALL. out upon his forehead. But one chance remained, and he seized it with the desperation of a ruined man. " I adopt your alternative give me a pistol." " Take your choice," said Ned " all right loaded an " hour ! ago and he tendered the weapons with the enviable serenity of a good conscience. He was as cool, and his hand as steady, as if he had been only going to shoot at a target, instead of a living antagonist. The enormous guilt of the latter made the act the Squire contemplated seem a righteous one, in which he was but the instrument of the divine judgment on a murderer. Sir Walter, in the mean time, had selected a weapon, and stood irresolute, as if revolving what should be the nature of his next step. His pistol once rose a little upward, but it instantly dropped again by his side. " Long shot or short ?" said the Squire, "name your own distance." " Twelve paces," said Sir Walter ; " or fifteen," he added, unconsciously acknowledging the deadly skill of his opponent. The Squire made no reply, but proceeded to measure off the required distance, the double click of the Creole's wea- pon, as he put it upon full cock, striking upon his ear as he completed the third stride ; the sixth had hardly been taken, when the report rang, and the bullet whistled close by the Squire's head. Ned stopped short and wheeled round. His eye glanced the fatal barrel rose fiercely for an instant at the assassin ; to its unerring level a slight touch of the forefinger did the rest, and, after a convulsive leap, Sir Walter Tyrrel fell on his back on the grass, with a ball through his body. In a moment Ned was bending over him, but not in remorse or " pity. One word, villain, for your soul's sake," he said " did you see HIM in the fern ?" " " I did God forgive me ! said the dying man, rolling himself over as he completed the confession, so as to lie with his face downwards. " Then die! the sooner the better," and a blow from the butt end of the Squire's pistol sped the parting spirit in its exit. The savage act spoke terribly the awful amount
TYLNEY HALL. 429 of misery and anguish to be avenged the complicated deht that even death was insufficient to expiate ; one life for three, for the fate of Sir Mark was implicated in that of his sons. The avenger was influenced by this dreadful reckoning when he gave way to an impulse of which he repented the next moment. He rose up, and was standing musing intently over the shocking spectacle before him, when a rustling made him aware of the approach of the foot passenger, who, it will be remembered, had been seen at a distance crossing the heath. He came up out of breath.