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Wilson's Border Tales
The Smuggler
Chapter 3

Many days passed, and during a part of each, Fanny sat beside him to beguile his solitude. She read to him; they conversed together; and the words which fell from her lips surprised and delighted him. She also taught him the use of the harp, and he was enabled to play a few tunes. He regarded her as a veiled angel, and his desire to look upon her features each day became more difficult to control. He argued, that it was impossible to love one whose face he had never seen—yet, when she was absent from his side, he was unhappy until her return; she had become the one idea of his thoughts—the spirit of his fancies; he watched her fair fingers as they glided on the harp—his hand shook when he touched them, and more than once he half raised it to untie the thick veil which hid her features from him.

But while such feelings passed through his mind, others of a kindred character had crept into the bosom of Fanny, and she sighed when she thought that, in a few weeks, she would see him no more, that even her face he might not see, and that her name he must never know; and fears for her father’s safety mingled with the feelings which the stranger had awakened in her bosom. She had beheld the anxiety that glowed in his dark eyes—she had listened to his impassioned words—she felt their influence; but duty forbade her to acknowledge that she felt it.

Eight weeks had passed; the wounds of Augustus were nearly healed; his health was restored, and his strength returned, and Harry said that in another week he might depart; but the announcement gave no joy to him to whom it was addressed. His confinement had been robbed of its solitariness, it had become as a dream in which he delighted, and he could have asked but permission to gaze upon the face of his companion to endure it for ever. About an hour after he received this intelligence, Fanny entered the apartment. He rose to meet her—he took her hand, and they sat down together. But her harp lay untouched—she spoke little—he thought she sighed, and he, too, was silent.

"Lady," said he, anxiously, still holding her hand in his, "I know not where I am, nor by whom I am surrounded—this only I know, that you, with an angel’s care, have watched over me, that you have restored me to health, and rendered confinement more grateful than liberty; but, in a few days, we must part—part, perhaps, for ever; then, before I go, grant me but one request—let me look upon the face of her whose remembrance will dwell in my heart as its dearest thoughts while the pulse of life throbs within it."

"I must not, I dare not," said Fanny, and she paused and sighed—"‘tis not worth looking on," she added.

"Nay, dearest," continued he, "deny me not—it is a small request. Fear nothing—never shall danger fall upon any connected with you through me. I will swear to you."

"Swear not!" interrupted Fanny—"I dare not!—no!— no!" and she again sighed.

He pressed her hand more closely within his. A breathless silence followed, and a tear glistened in his eyes. Her bosom heaved—her countenance bespoke the struggle that warred in her breast.

"Do I look like one who would betray your friends—if they be your friends?" said he, with emotion.

"No," she faltered, and her head fell on her bosom.

He placed his hand across her shoulders—he touched the ribbon by which the deep folds of the veil were fastened over her head—it was the impulse of a moment—he unloosed it, the veil fell upon the floor, and the flaxen locks and the lovely features of Fanny Teasdale were revealed. Augustus started in admiration; for weeks he had conjured up phantoms of ideal beauty, but the fair face before him exceeded them all. She blushed—her countenance bespoke anxiety rather than anger—tears fell down her cheeks, and he kissed them away. He sat, silently gazing on her features, drawing happiness from her eyes.

Again ten days had passed, and, during each of them, Fanny, in the absence of her father, sat unveiled by his side. Still he knew not her name, and, when he entreated her to pronounce it, she wept, and replied, "I dare not."

He had told her his. "Call me your Augustus," said he, "and tell me by what name I shall call you, my own. Come dearest, do you doubt me still? Do you still think me capable of the part of an informer?"

But she wept the more, for she knew that to tell her name was to make known her father’s also—to betray him, and to place his life in jeopardy. He urged her yet more earnestly, and he had sunk upon his knee, and was pressing her hand to his lips, when Harry, in the disguise in which he had always seen him, entered the room. The smuggler started back.

"What!" cried he sternly, "what hast thou done, girl?—shown thy face and betrayed me?—and told thy name, and mine too, I suppose?"

"O no! no! dear father!" she exclaimed, flinging her arms around him; "I have not--indeed I have not. Do not be angry with your Fanny."

"Fanny! hastily exclaimed Augustus," Fanny!—bless thee for that word!"

"That thou mayest make it a clew to destroy her father!" returned the smuggler.

"No, Sir," answered Augustus, proudly, "but that I may treasure it up in my heart, as the name of one who is dearer to me than the life which thou hast preserved."

"Ay! ay!" replied Harry, "thou talkest like every hot-headed youth; but it was an ungrateful return in thee, for preserving thy life, to destroy my peace. Get thee ben to the other room, Fanny, for thou’st been a silly girl."

She arose weeping, and withdrew.

"Now, Sir," continued Harry, "thou must remain nae langer under this roof. This very hour will I get a horse ready, and conduct thee to where ye can go to your friends, or wherever ye like; and as ye were brocht blindfolded here, ye maun consent to be taken blindfolded away."

"Nay, trust to my honour, Sir," said Augustus—"I am incapable of betraying you."

"I’m no sae sure about that," returned the smuggler, "and it’s best to be sure. I trusted to your honour that ye wad ask nae questions while here—and how have you kept your honour? Na, lad, na!—what ye dinna see ye winna be able to swear to. So make ready." Thus saying, Harry left the apartment, locking the door behind him.

It was about an hour after nightfall, and within ten minutes the smuggler again entered the room. He carried a pistol in one hand, and a silk handkerchief in the other. He placed the pistol upon the table, and said—"I have no time to argue—allow me to tie thy eyes up, lest worse follow."

Augustus requested that he might see Fanny but for a few minutes, and he would comply without a murmur.

"No!" said Harry, sternly; "wouldst tamper with my child’s heart, when her trusting in thee would place my life in thy power? Say no more—I won’t hear thee," he continued, again raising the pistol in his hand.

Augustus, finding expostulation vain, submitted to have his eyes bound up; and as the smuggler was leading him from the house, the bitter sobs of Fanny reached his ear; he was almost tempted to burst from the grasp of his conductor and rush towards her; but endeavouring to suppress the tumult of his feelings, he exclaimed aloud—

"Forget me not, dear Fanny!—we shall meet again."

"Never!" whispered Harry in his ear.

The smuggler’s horse stood ready at the door. In a moment he sprang upon the saddle—(if saddle it could be called)—and taking Augustus by the hand, placed him behind him, and, at a word spoken, the well-trained animal started off, as though spurs had been dashed into its sides. For several hours they galloped on, but in what direction Augustus knew not, nor wist he from whence he had been brought. At length, the smuggler suddenly drew up his horse, and exclaimed—"Dismount!"

Augustus obeyed, but scarce had his feet touched the ground, when Harry, crying "Farewell!" dashed away as an arrow shot from a bow; and before the other could unfasten the handkerchief with which his eyes were bound up, the horse and its rider were invisible.

It was drawing towards grey dawn, and he knew neither where he was nor in what direction to proceed. He remembered also that he was without money—but there was something heavy tied in a corner of the handkerchief, which he yet held in his hand. He examined it, and found ten guineas, wrapt in a scrap of paper, on which some words seemed to be written. He longed for day that he might be enabled to read them, and, as the light increased, he deciphered, written with a trembling hand—

"You may need money.—Think sometimes of me!"

"Heaven bless thee, my unknown Fanny!" cried he, "whoever thou art—never will I think of any but thee."

I need not tell about his discovering in what part of the country the smuggler had left him, of his journey to his father’s house in Devonshire, or his relation of what had befallen him; nor how he dwelt upon the remembrance of Fanny, and vainly endeavoured to trace where her residence was, or to discover what was her name beyond Fanny.

He was appointed to the command of a cutter, and four years passed from the period of the scenes that had been described, when, following in pursuit of a smuggling vessel, he again arrived upon the coast of Northumberland. Some of his crew, who had been on shore, brought him information that the vessel was delivering her cargo near Embleton, and, ordering two boats to be manned, he instantly proceeded to the land. They came upon the smuggler—a scuffle ensued, and one of Captain Hartley’s men was stabbed by his side with a clasp-knife, and fell dead at his feet; and he wrenched the knife from the hand of the murderer, who, with his companions, effected his escape without being discovered.

But day had not yet broken when two constables knocked at the door of Harry Teasdale, and demanded admission. The servant-girl opened the door—they rushed into the house, and to the side of the bed where he slept.

They grasped him by the shoulder, and exclaimed—

"You are our prisoner!"

"Your prisoner!" replied Harry; "for what, neighbours?"

"Well dow ye knaw for what," was the answer. Harry sprang upon the floor, and, in the excitement of the moment, he raised his hand to strike the officers of the law.

"Ye are only making things worse," said one of them; and he submitted to have handcuffs placed upon his wrists.

Fanny sprang into the room, exclaiming—

"My father! my father!" and flinging her arms around his neck—"Oh! what is it?—what is it?" she continued breathless, and her voice choked with sobbing—"what do they say that you have done?"

"Nothing, love, nothing," said he, endeavouring to be calm—"it is some mistake, but some one shall answer for it."

His daughter’s arms were forcibly torn from around his neck; and he was taken before a neighbouring magistrate, by whom the deposition of Captain Hartley had been received. Harry was that morning committed to the county prison on a charge of murder. I shall neither attempt to describe his feelings, nor will I dwell upon the agony which was worse than death to his poor daughter. She knew her father innocent; but she knew not his accusers, nor the nature of the evidence which they would bring forward to prove him guilty of the crime which they imputed to him.

But the fearful day of trial came. Harry Teasdale was placed at the bar. The principal witness against him was Captain Hartley. The colour came and went upon the prisoner’s cheeks as his eye fell upon the face of his accuser. He seemed struggling with sudden emotion; and many who observed it, took it as a testimony of guilt. In his evidence Captain Hartley deposed that he and a part of his crew came upon the smugglers on the beach, while in the act of concealing their goods; that he and the seaman, who was murdered by his side, having attacked three of the smugglers, the tallest of the three, whom he believed to be the prisoner, with a knife, gave the mortal stab to the deceased—that he raised the weapon also against him, and that he only escaped the fate of his companion by striking down the arm of the smuggler, and wrenching the knife from his hands, who then escaped. He also stated that on examining the knife, which was of great length, he read the words, "HARRY TEASDALE," which were deeply burned into its bone handle, and which led to the apprehension of the prisoner. The knife was then produced in court, and a murmur of horror ran through the multitude.

Other witnesses were examined, who proved that, on the day of the murder, they had seen the knife in the hands of the prisoner; and the counsel for the prosecution, in remarking on the evidence, pronounced it to be

"Confirmation strong as holy writ."

The judge inquired of the prisoner if he had anything to say, or aught to bring forward in his defence.

"I have only this to say, my Lord," said Harry, firmly, "that I am as innocent o’ the crime laid to my charge as the child unborn. My poor daughter and my servant can prove that on the night when the deed was committed, I never was across my own door. And," added he, firmly, and in a louder tone, and pointing to Captain Hartley as he spoke, "I can only say, that he whose life I saved at the peril o’ my own, has, through some mistake, endeavoured to take away mine; and his conscience will carry its punishment when he discovers his error."

Captain Hartley started to his feet—his cheeks became pale—he inquired in an eager tone—"Have you seen me before?" The prisoner returned no answer; and at that moment the officer of the court called the name of

"Fanny Teasdale!"

"Ha!" exclaimed the captain, convulsively, and suddenly striking his hand upon his breast—"Is it so!"

The prisoner bowed his head and wept. The court were stricken with astonishment.

Fanny was led towards the witness-box—there was a buzz of admiration and of pity as she passed along. Captain Hartley beheld her—he clasped his hands together—"Gracious Heavens! my own Fanny!" he exclaimed aloud.

He sprang forward—he stood by her side—her head fell on his bosom. "My lord!—O my lord!" he cried, wildly, addressing the judge, "I doubt--I disbelieve my own evidence! There must be some mistake. I cannot be the murderer of the man who saved me—of my Fanny’s father!"

The most anxious excitement prevailed through the Court, every individual was moved, and, on the bench, faces were turned aside to conceal a tear.

The judge endeavoured to restore order.

The shock of meeting with Augustus, in such a place, and in such an hour, though she knew not that he was her father’s accuser, added to her agony, was too much for Fanny, and, in a state of insensibility, she was carried out of the court.

Harry’s servant girl was examined; and, although she swore that, on the night on which the murder was committed, he had not been out of his own house, yet, in her cross-examination, she admitted that he frequently was out during the night without her knowledge, that he might have been so on the night in question. Other witnesses were called, who spoke to the excellent character of the prisoner, and to his often-proved courage and humanity; but they could not prove that he had not been engaged in the affray in which the murder had been committed.

Captain Hartley strove anxiously to undo the impresssion which his evidence had already produced; but it was too late.

The judge addressed the jury, and began to sum up the evidence. He remarked upon the knife with which the deed was perpetrated, being proved and acknowleged to be the property of the prisoner—of its being seen in his hand on the same day, and of his admitting the fact—on the resemblance of the figure to that of the individual who was seen to strike the blow, and on his inability to prove that he was not that individual. He was proceeding to notice the singular scene that had occurred, with regard to the principal witness and the prisoner, when a shout was heard from the court door, and a gentleman, dressed as a clergyman, pressed through the crowd, and reaching the side of the prisoner, he exclaimed—"My lord, and gentlemen of the jury, the prisoner, Harry Teasdale, is innocent!"

"Thank Heaven" exclaimed Captain Hartley.

The spectators burst into a shout, which the judge instantly suppressed, and desired the clergyman to be sworn, and to produce his evidence. "We are here to give it," said two others who had followed behind them.

The clergyman briefly stated that he had been sent for on the previous evening to attend the deathbed of an individual whom he named, and who had been wounded in the affray with Captain Hartley’s crew, and that, in his presence, and in the presence of the other witnesses who then stood by his side, a deposition had been taken down from his lips an hour before his death. The deposition, or confession, was handed into court; and it set forth that his hand struck the fatal blow, and with Harry Teasdale’s knife, which he had found lying upon the stern of his boat on the afternoon of the day on which the deed was committed—and, farther, that Harry was not upon the beach that night.

The jury looked for a moment at each other—they instantly rose, and their foreman pronounced the prisoner, "Not Guilty." A loud and spontaneous shout burst from the multitude. Captain Hartley sprang forward—he grasped his hand.

"I forgive thee, lad," said Harry.

Hartley led him from the dock—he conducted him to Fanny, whom he had taken to an adjoining inn.

"Here is your father!—he is safe!—he is safe, my love!" cried Augustus, as he entered the room where she was.

Fanny wept on her father’s bosom, and he kissed her brow, and said, "Bless thee."

"And canst thou bless me, too," said Augustus, "after all that I have done?" "Well, well, I see how it is to be," said Harry; and he took their hands and placed them in each other. I need only add, that Fanny Teasdale became the happy wife of Augustus Hartley; and Harry, having acquired a competency, gave up the trade of a smuggler.

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