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had found the key in the great-coat left behind by the dwarf. With the landlord came the Sandman and Ginger, the latter of whom was attended by all his dogs, still barking furiously; while the rear of the party was brought up by the drowsy waiter, now wide awake with fright, and carrying a candle.
But though every nook and corner of the place was visited though the attics were searched, and all the windows examined -not a trace of the dwarf could be discovered, nor any clue to his mysterious disappearance detected. Astonishment and alarm sat on every countenance.
“ What the devil can have become of him?" cried the landlord, with a look of dismay.
“ Ay, that's the questin!” rejoined the Tinker. “I begin to be of Ginger's opinion, that the devil himself must have flown avay vith him. No von else could ha' taken a fancy to him."
"I only saw a hand and a black cloak," said the Sandman.
“I thought I seed a pair o' hoofs,” cried the waiter; “ and I'm quite sure I seed a pair o' great glitterin' eyes,” he added, opening his own lack-lustre orbs to their widest extent.
" It's a strange affair,” observed the landlord, gravely. “It's certain that no one has entered the house wearing a cloak such as you describe ; nor could any of the lodgers to my knowledge, get out of their rooms. It was Old Parr's business, as you know, to lock 'em up carefully for the night.”
“ Vell, all's over vith him now,” said the Tinker—" and vith our affair, too, I'm afeard."
“ Don't say die jist yet,” rejoined Ginger. “The wenerable's gone, to be sure; and the only thing he has left behind him, barrin' his top coat, is this here bit o' paper vich dropped out o' the pocket book as he wos a-takin' flight, and vich I picked from the floor. It may be o' some use to us. But come, let's go down stairs. There's no good in stayin' here any longer.”
Concurring in which sentiment, they all descended to the lower room.
THE IRON-MERCHANT'S DAUGHTER.
A WEEK had elapsed since Auriol Darcy was conveyed to the iron-merchant's dwelling, after the attack made upon him by the ruffians in the ruined house; and though almost recovered from the serious injuries he had received, he still remained the guest of his preserver.
It was a bright spring morning, when a door leading to the yard in front of the house opened, and a young girl, bright and fresh as the morning's self, issued from it.
A lovelier creature than Ebba Thornicroft cannot be imagined. Her figure was perfection-slight, tall, and ravishingly proportioned, with a slender waist, little limbs, and fairy feet that would have made the fortune of an opera-dancer. Her features were almost angelic in expression with an outline of the utmost delicacy and precision—not cold, classical regularity—but that softer and incomparably more lovely mould peculiar to our own clime. Ebba's countenance was a type of Saxon beauty. Her complexion was pure white, tinged with a slight bloom. Her eyes were of a serene summer blue, arched over by brows some shades darker than the radiant tresses that fell on either cheek, and were parted over a brow smoother than alabaster. Her attire was simple, but tasteful, and by its dark colour threw into relief the exceeding fairness of her skin.
Ebba's first care was to feed her favourite linnet, placed in a cage over the door. Having next patted the head of a huge bull-dog who came out of his kennel to greet her, and exchanged a few words with two men employed at a forge in the inner part of the building on the right, she advanced further into the yard.
This part of the premises, being strewn with iron-work of every possible shape, presented a very singular appearance, and may
merit some description. There were heaps of rusty iron chains flung together like fishermen's nets, old iron areaguards, iron kitchen-fenders, old grates, safes, piles of old iron bowls, a large assortment of old iron pans and dishes, a ditto of old ovens, kettles without number, sledge-hammers, anvils, braziers, chimney-cowls, and smoke-jacks.
Stout upright posts, supporting cross-beams on the top, were placed at intervals on either side of the yard, and these were decorated, in the most artistic style, with rat-traps, man-traps, iron lanterns, pullies, padlocks, chains, trivets, triangles, iron rods, disused street lamps, dismounted cannon and anchors.
Attached to hooks in the cross-beam nearest the house, hung a row of old horseshoes, while from the centre depended a large rusty bell. Near the dog's kennel was a tool-box, likewise garnished with horse-shoes, and containing pincers, files, hammers, and other implements proper to the smith. Beyond this, was an open doorway, leading to the workshop where the two men before mentioned were busy at the forge.
Though it was still early, the road was astir with passengers, and many wagons and carts, laden with hay, straw, and vegetables, were passing Ebba, however, had been solely drawn forth by the beauty of the morning, and she stopped for a moment at the street-gate, to breathe the balmy air. As she inhaled the gentle breeze, and felt the warm sunshine upon her cheek, her thoughts wandered away into the green meadows in which she had strayed as a child, and she longed to ramble amid them again. Perhaps she scarcely desired a solitary stroll; but however this might be, she was too much engrossed by the reverie to notice a tall man, wrapped in a long black cloak, who regarded her with the most fixed attention, as he passed on the opposite side of the road.
Proceeding to a short distance, this personage crossed over, and returned slowly towards the iron-merchant's dwelling. Ebba then, for the first time, remarked him, and was startled by his strange, sinister appearance. His features were handsome, but so malignant and fierce in expression, that they inspired only aversion. A sardonic grin curled his thin lips, and his short, crisply-curled hair, raven black in hue, contrasted forcibly and disagreeably with his cadaverous complexion. An attraction like that of the snake seemed to reside in his dark blazing eyes, for Ebba trembled like a bird beneath their influnce, and
could not remove her gaze from them. A vague presentiment of coming ill smote her, and she dreaded lest the mysterious being before her might be connected in some inexplicable way with her future destiny.
On his part, the stranger was not insensible to the impression he had produced, and suddenly halting, he kept his eyes riveted on those of the girl, who, after remaining spell-bound, as it were, for a few moments, precipitately retreated towards the house.
Just as she reached the door, and was about to pass through it, Auriol came forth. He was pale, as if from recent suffering, and bore his left arm in a sling.
“You look agitated," he said, noticing Ebba's uneasiness. “What has happened ?”
“ Not much,” she replied, a deep blush mantling her cheeks. “ But I have been somewhat alarmed by the person near the gate."
Indeed,” cried Auriol, darting forward. 6 Where is he? I see no one."
“ Not a tall man, wrapped in a long black cloak ?” rejoined Ebba, following him cautiously.