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that, in the event of my subsequently requiring
a copy of the original, I should make
application to Mr. Wansborough's oflice to
furnish me with the document.

After this explanation, no objection was made
to producing the copy. A clerk was sent to the
strong-room, and, after some delay, returned
with the volume. It was of exactly the same size
as the volume in the vestry; the only difference
being that the copy was more smartly
bound. I took it with me to an unoccupied
desk. My hands trembledmy head was
burning hotI felt the necessity of concealing my
agitation from the persons about me in the room,
before I ventured to open the book.

On the blank page at the beginning, to which
I first turned, were traced some lines, in faded
ink. They contained these words;

"Copy of the Marriage Register of Welmingham
Parish Church. Executed under my orders;
and afterwards compared, entry by entry, with
the original, by myself. (Signed) Robert
Wansborough, vestry-clerk." Below this note, there
was a line added, in another handwriting, as
follows: "Extending from the first of January,
1800, to the thirtieth of June, 1815."

I turned to the month of September, eighteen
hundred and three. I found the marriage of the
man whose Christian name was the same as my
own. I found the double register of the
marriages of the two brothers. And between these
entries at the bottom of the page——?

Nothing! Not a vestige of the entry which
recorded the marriage of Sir Felix Clyde and
Cecilia Jane Elster, in the register of the

My heart gave a great, bound, and throbbed
as if it would stifle me. I looked againI was
afraid to believe the evidence of my own eyes.
No! not a doubt. The marriage was not there.
The entries on the copy occupied exactly the
same places on the page as the entries in the
original. The last entry on one page recorded
the marriage of the man with my Christian
name. Below it, there was a blank spacea
space evidently left because it was too narrow
to contain the entry of the marriages of the
two brothers, which in the copy, as in the
original, occupied the top of the next page.
That space told the whole story! There it must
have remained, in the church register, from
eighteen hundred and three (when the marriages
had been solemnised and the copy had been
made) to eighteen hundred and twenty-seven,
when Sir Percival appeared at Old Welmingham.
Here, at Knowlesbury, was the chance
of committing the forgery, shown to me in the
copyand there, at Old Welmingham, was the
forgery committed, in the register of the

My head turned giddy; I held by the desk to
keep myself from falling. Of all the suspicions
which had struck me, in relation to that
desperate man, not one had been near the truth.
The idea that he was not Sir Percival Glyde
at all, that he had no more claim to the
baronetcy and to Blackwater Park than the poorest
labourer who worked on the estate, had never
once occurred to my mind. At one time, I
had thought he might be Anne Catherick's
father; at another time, I had thought he
might have been Anne Catherick's husband
the offence of which he was really guilty had
been, from first to last, beyond the widest reach
of my imagination. The paltry means by which
the fraud had been effected, the magnitude and
daring of the crime that it represented, the
horror of the consequences involved in its
discovery, overwhelmed me. Who could wonder,
now, at the brute-restlessness of the wretch's
life; at, his desperate alternations between abject
duplicity and reckless violence; at the madness
of guilty distrust which had made him imprison
Anne Catherick in the Asylum, and had given
him over to the vile conspiracy against his wife,
on the bare suspicion that the one and the other
knew his terrible secret? The disclosure of that
secret might, in past years, have hanged him
might now transport him for life. The disclosure
of that secret, even if the sufferers by his
deception spared him the penalties of the law,
would deprive him, at one blow, of the name, the
rank, the estate, the whole social existence that
he had usurped. This was the Secret, and it was
mine! A word from me; and house, lands,
baronetcy, were gone from him. for evera word
from me, and he was driven out into the world
a nameless, penniless, friendless outcast! The
man's whole future hung on my lipsand he
knew it, by this time, as certainly as I did!

That last thought steadied me. Interests far
more precious than my own depended on the
caution which must now guide my slightest
actions. There was no possible treachery which
Sir Percival might not attempt against me. In
the danger and desperation of his position, he
would be staggered by no risks, he would recoil
at no crimehe would, literally, hesitate at
nothing to save himself.

I considered for a minute. My first necessity
was to secure positive evidence, in writing, of
the discovery that I had just made, and, in the
event of any personal misadventure happening
to me, to place that evidence beyond Sir
Percival's reach. The copy of the register was sure
to be safe in Mr. Wansborough's strong-room.
But the position of the original, in the vestry,
was, as I had seen, anything but secure.

In this emergency, I resolved to return to
the church, to apply again to the clerk, and
to take the necessary extract from the register,
before I slept that night. I was not then
aware that a legally-certified copy was necessary,
and that no document merely drawn
out by myself could claim the proper importance,
as a proof. I was not aware of this; and
my determination to keep my present proceedings
a secret, prevented me from asking any
questions which might have procured the necessary
information. My one anxiety was the
anxiety to get back to Old Welmingham. I
made the best excuses I could for the discomposure
in my face and manner, which Mr. Wansorough
had already noticed; laid the necessary