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The Black Dwarf

Chapter 15
The darksome cave they enter, where they found
The woful man, low sitting on the ground,
Musing full sadly in his sullen mind. --- FAERY QUEEN.
The intruder on Miss Vere's sorrows was Ratcliffe. Ellieslaw had, in the agitation
of his mind, forgotten to countermand the order he had given to call him thither,
so that he opened the door with the words, "You sent for me, Mr. Vere." Then
looking around--"Miss Vere, alone! on the ground! and in tears!"
"Leave me--leave me, Mr. Ratcliffe," said the unhappy young lady.
"I must not leave you," said Ratcliffe; "I have been repeatedly requesting
admittance to take my leave of you, and have been refused, until your father
himself sent for me. Blame me not, if I am bold and intrusive; I have a duty to
discharge which makes me so."
"I cannot listen to you--I cannot speak to you, Mr. Ratcliffe; take my best wishes,
and for God's sake leave me."
"Tell me only," said Ratcliffe, "is it true that this monstrous match is to go forward,
and this very night? I heard the servants proclaim it as I was on the great
staircase--I heard the directions given to clear out the chapel."
"Spare me, Mr. Ratcliffe," replied the luckless bride; "and from the state in which
you see me, judge of the cruelty of these questions."
"Married? to Sir Frederick Langley? and this night? It must not cannot--shall not
be."
"It MUST be, Mr. Ratcliff, or my father is ruined."
"Ah! I understand," answered Ratcliffe; "and you have sacrificed yourself to save
him who--But let the virtue of the child atone for the faults of the father it is no
time to rake them up.--What CAN be done? Time presses--I know but one
remedy--with four-and- twenty hours I might find many--Miss Vere, you must
implore the protection of the only human being who has it in his power to control
the course of events which threatens to hurry you before it."
"And what human being," answered Miss Vere, "has such power?"
"Start not when I name him," said Ratcliffe, coming near her, and speaking in a
low but distinct voice. "It is he who is called Elshender the Recluse of
Mucklestane-Moor."
"You are mad, Mr. Ratcliffe, or you mean to insult my misery by an ill-timed jest!"
"I am as much in my senses, young lady," answered her adviser, "as you are;
and I am no idle jester, far less with misery, least of all with your misery. I swear
to you that this being (who is other far than what he seems) actually possesses
the means of redeeming you from this hateful union."
"And of insuring my father's safety?"
"Yes! even that," said Ratcliffe, "if you plead his cause with him--yet how to
obtain admittance to the Recluse!"
"Fear not that," said Miss Vere, suddenly recollecting the incident of the rose; "I
remember he desired me to call upon him for aid in my extremity, and gave me
this flower as a token. Ere it faded away entirely, I would need, he said, his
 
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