Open main menu

Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/246

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
214
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

extent of marrying (strange obstinacy on the part of the exile!) Ann Bradshaw, the daughter of a regicide: they were precise about the name. This lady had died, it was said, in giving birth to a boy. If these details should prove to be correct, this child would, of course, be the legitimate and rightful heir of Lord Clancharlie. These reports, however, were extremely vague in form, and were rumours rather than facts. Circumstances which happened in Switzerland in those days were as remote from the England of that period as those which take place in China from the England of to-day. Lord Clancharlie must have been fifty-nine at the time of his marriage, they said, and sixty at the birth of his son, and must have died shortly after, leaving his infant bereft both of father and mother. This was possible, perhaps, but improbable. They added that the child was beautiful as the day,—just as we read in all the fairy tales.

King James put an end to these rumours (which must have been entirely without foundation) by declaring, one fine morning, Lord David Dirry-Moir sole and positive heir in default of legitimate issue, and by his royal pleasure, of Lord Linnæus Clancharlie, his natural father, the absence of all other issue and descent being established; and patents of this grant were duly registered in the House of Lords. By these patents the king instated Lord David Dirry-Moir in all the titles, rights, and prerogatives of the late Lord Linnæus Clancharlie, on the sole condition that Lord David should wed, when she attained a marriageable age, a certain girl who was at that time a mere infant a few months old, and whom the king in her cradle had created a duchess, no one knew exactly why,—or, rather, every one knew why. This little infant was called the Duchess Josiana. Spanish names were then all the rage in England. One