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ooks, if there was good sense; and, indeed, a woman of some experience in the world would answer his pur
Honest Isbel began in a little while to turn all these matters in her mind. She one day took a steady look at Fordyne, and discovered that he had a good upright carriage of body, and that, though his mouth was of the largest, yet his teeth were among the best she had
Next time she visited his shop, she took a glance at the room behind, and found that it had a nice out-look upon Salisbury Crags. Fordyne, observing that she glanced into his back-shop, invited her to come in and see what a fine house he had, for such in reality it was, though unfurnished. Isbel very quickly saw that there was one capital bed-room, a parlour, a kitchen, and a vast variety of closets, where things could be "put off one's hand.” One press, Mr. Fordyne showed, was already furnished, being tenanted by a huge dram-bottle, and a server full of shortbread, which, he said, had been lately required to treat his customers, on account of the New Year. Of this he made Isbel a partaker, drinking in his turn to her good health, and a good man to her before the next recurrence of the season. This exchange of compliments did not take place without some effect. Isbel ascended the stair in a kind of revery, and found herself entering the next door above, instead of her own, before she was aware. In a month thereafter, the two were married.
Three days after the nuptials, Mrs. Fordyne was
sitting in her little parlour, waiting supper for her husband, and reflecting on the step she was about to take next day-namely, the transference of her household furniture to the apartments behind Fordyne’s shop, and the surrender of her little fortune into his hands. Her eye happened, in the course of her cogitations, to wander to a portrait of her father, which hung opposite; and as she gazed on it, she could hardly help thinking that its naturally stern and even sour features assumed an expression still sterner and sourer. No doubt, this was the mere effect of some inward pleading of conscience, for she could not but acknowledge secretly to herself, that the step she had taken was not of that kind which her parent would have approved. She withdrew her eyes with a disturbed mind, and again looked musingly towards the fire, when she thought she heard the outer door open, and a person come in. At first, she supposed that this must be her husband, and she began, therefore, to transfer the supper from the fire to the table. On listening, however, she heard that the footsteps were accompanied by the sound of a walking-cane, which assured her that it could not be Fordyne. She stood for a minute motionless and silent, and distinctly heard the sound as of an old man walking along the passage with a stick—sounds which at once brought to her recollection her departed father. She sank into her chair, the sounds died away in the distance, and almost at that minute her husband came in to cheer her, calling to the servant as he passed, in his loud and
boisterous way, that she had stupidly left the outer
Though Isbel Lucas had committed a very imprudent action in marrying a man who was a perfect stranger to her, nevertheless the predominating feature of her mind was prudence. The impressions just made upon her senses were of a very agitating nature, yet knowing that it was too late to act upon them, she concealed her emotions. There could be no doubt that she had received what in her native country is called a “warning;" yet, conceiving that her best course was to go on and betray no suspicions, she never faltered in any of her promises to her husband. She was next day installed in Mr. Fordyne's own house, to whom, in return, she committed a sum rather above £400; for to that extent had she increased her stock in the course of her late employment.
For some time matters proceeded very well. Her husband professed to lay out part of her money upon those goods which he had formerly represented himself as unable to buy. His habits of application were rather increased than diminished, and a few customers of a more respectable kind than any he had hitherto had, began to frequent the shop, being drawn thither in consideration of his wife. Among the new articles he dealt in was whiskey, which he bought in large quantities from the distillers, and sold wholesale to a number of the neighbouring dealers. By and by, this branch of his trade seemed to outgrow all the rest, and he found himself occasionally obliged to pay visits to the places where the liquor was manufactured, in order to purchase it at the highest advantage. His wife in a little while became accustomed to his absence for a day or two at a time, and having every reason to believe that his affairs were in a very prosperous state, began to forget all her former misgivings.
On one occasion, he left her on what he described as a circuit of the Highland distilleries, intending, he said, to be absent for at least a week, and carrying with him money to the amount of nearly £1000, which he said he would probably spend upon whiskey before he came back. Nothing that could awaken the least suspicion occurred at their parting; but next day, while his wife superintended matters in the shop, she was surprised when a large bill was presented, for which he had made no provision. On inspecting it, she was still further surprised to find that it referred to a transaction which she understood at the time to be a ready-money one. Having dismissed the presenter of the bill, she lost no time in repairing to the counting-house of a large commission house in Leith, with which she knew her husband to have had large transactions. There, on making some indirect inquiries, she found that his purchases, instead of being entirely for ready money, as he had represented to her, were mostly paid by bills, some of which were on the point of becoining due. It was now but too apparent that the unprincipled man had taken his final leave of her and his creditors, bearing with him all the spoil that his ingenuity could collect.
Isbel Lucus was not a person to sit down in idle despair on such an event. She was a steady Scotchwoman, with a stout heart for a difficulty; and her resolution was soon taken. She instantly proceeded to the Glasgow coach-offices, and ascertained, as she expected, that a man answering to the description of her husband had taken a place for that city the day before. The small quantity of money that had been collected in the shop since his departure, she put into her pocket; the shop she committed to the porter and her old servant Jenny; and, having made up a small bundle of extra clothes, she set off by the coach to Glasgow. On alighting in the Trongate, the first person she saw was a female friend from Edinburgh, who asked, with surprise, how she and her husband happened to be travelling at the same time? “Why do you ask that question ?" inquired Isbel. “Because,' replied the other, “I shook hands with Mr. Fordyne yesterday, as he was going on board the Isle of Man steamboat at the Broomielaw.” This was enough for Isbel. She immediately ascertained the time when the Isle of Man steamboat would next sail, and, to her great joy, found that she would not be two days later than her husband in reaching the island. On landing in proper time at Douglas, in Man, she found her purse almost empty; but her desperate circumstances made her resolve to prosecute the search, though she should have to beg her way back.
It was morning when she landed at Douglas. The whole forenoon she spent in wandering about the