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him that there existed suspicions as to the
treatment which the incarcerated lady
whether insane or only imbecilemet with.
After a vigorous resistance they forced an
entry into the chรขteau. The sight that
met them was heart-rending. The poor
creature lay dying upon her bed, and but
for this intervention would have been denied
the last consolations of religion. When
the pasteur knelt down, however, and questioned
her, she only shook her head and
moaned. Then, with an effort, she opened
her mouth wide, and, to their horror, they
perceived that she had no tongue.

They implored her to write down the
name of the perpetrator of this barbarous
crime. But either she had no strength, or
else she was praying, poor soul, for grace
to forgive her persecutors, rather than for
retribution. She listened devoutly to the
good pasteur's prayers, and a glorious smile
lighted up her tear-worn eyes as the death-
film gathered over them. So the unhappy
lady passed away. The woman Elspie was,
of course, seized, and subjected to a rigorous
cross-examination. She declared that
the lady who was just dead had been thus
mutilated by her husband one night when
goaded into a state of insane rage by his
wife's discovery of a secret, to which he
attached a superstitious importance, and
which she threatened to proclaim to all the
world. In the struggle to defend herself,
her right wrist was also severed. The
woman maintained that her mistress had
ever since been subject to violent fits of
delirium, necessitating restraint. This I
do not believe; there is no proof of it
whatever. How far the rest of her story
was true, it was impossible to say, and will
never now be known. There were probabilities
in favour of it; but, on the other
hand, might not this wretch herself have
been the instrument? I did not forget
that I had seen her (as I have now no sort
of doubt) on that fatal night stealing out
to throw something into the well. Of her
complicity, at all events, there was ample
proof, since from the first she was the
attendant upon her ill-fated mistress. But
the hand of justice, for all that, was stayed.

The very same day that I received the
letter containing the foregoing particulars,
and while Pilson and I were deliberating
what steps must now be taken, the news
of an appalling catastrophe, which had
happened thirty-six hours previously,
reached us. Lord Dunblane had been
burnt in his bed, and the greater part of the
castle destroyed. How the fire originated
was never known, but it broke out from
his lordship's room in the dead of night,
and three sides of the quadrangle were
burnt to the ground before the flames
could be got under. The lovers of coincidences
tried afterwards to make out that
Lord Dunblane and his wife died the same
night; the superstitious even fabricated a
theory that, struck with remorse, upon
learning, by second sight, of his wife's
death, he had himself fired the castle, and
resolutely perished in the flames. But
all this is purely imaginary. It is sufficiently
remarkable that these deaths should
have been so near one another; but Lady
Dunblane died at least five days before her
husband; and as to the supposition of his
lordship's self-destruction, the only ground
for it was his strange mental condition,
which was no worse than it had been for the
last four years.

The woman Elspie was set at large by
the authorities at Geneva, no one coming
forward as her accuser. Mr. Pilson
thought, and I believe he was right, that
now both Lord and Lady Dunblane were
dead it was better this terrible story should
not be made public. It oozed out, in the
course of time, as almost all such scandals
do, but not through me. It was only when
I found that all sorts of false or garbled
versions of the circumstances were current
in society that I ever mentioned what I
knew, and that was years afterwards, when,
in default of heirs, the title of Dunblane
had become extinct.

Now Ready, price 5s. 6s., bound in green cloth,
To be had of all Booksellers.


MESSRS. CHAPPELL AND CO. have great pleasure
in announcing that MR. CHARLES DICKENS will resume
and conclude his interrupted series of FAREWELL
READINGS at St. James's Hall, London, early in
the New Year.
The Readings will be TWELVE in NUMBER, and none
will take place out of London.
All communications to be addressed to Messrs.
CHAPPELL and Co., 50, New Bond-street, W.