Aurora Floyd, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Chapter 13

The Spring Meeting.

The early spring brought Lucy Floyd on a visit to her cousin, a wondering witness of the happiness that reigned at Mellish Park.

Poor Lucy had expected to find Aurora held as something better than the dogs, and a little higher than the horses in that Yorkshire household, and was considerably surprised to find her dark-eyed cousin a despotic and capricious sovereign, reigning with undisputed sway over every creature, biped or quadruped, upon the estate. She was surprised to see the bright glow in her cheeks, the merry sparkle in her eyes — surprised to hear the light tread of her footstep, the gushing music of her laugh — surprised, in fact, to discover that, instead of weeping over the dry bones of her dead love for Talbot Bulstrode, Aurora had learned to love her husband.

Have I any need to be ashamed of my heroine in that she had forgotten her straight-nosed, gray-eyed Cornish lover, who had set his pride and his pedigree between himself and his affection, and had loved her at best with a reservation, although Heaven only knows how dearly he had loved her? Have I any cause to blush for this poor, impetuous girl if, turning in the sickness of her sorrowful heart with a sense of relief and gratitude to the honest shelter of John’s love, she had quickly learned to feel for him an affection which repaid him a thousand-fold for his long-suffering devotion? Surely it would have been impossible for any true-hearted woman to withhold some such repayment for such love as that which in every word, and look, and thought, and deed John Mellish bestowed upon his wife. How could she be for ever his creditor for such a boundless debt? Are hearts like his common among our clay? Is it a small thing to be beloved with this loyal and pure affection? Is it laid so often at the feet of any mortal woman that she should spurn and trample upon the holy offering?

He had loved, and, more, he had trusted her — he had trusted her, when the man who passionately loved her had left her in an agony of doubt and despair. The cause of this lay in the difference between the two men. John Mellish had as high and stern a sense of honor as Talbot Bulstrode; but while the Cornishman’s strength of brain lay in the reflective faculties, the Yorkshireman’s acute intellect was strongest in its power of perception. Talbot drove himself half mad with imagining what might be; John saw what was, and he saw, or fancied he saw, that the woman he loved was worthy of all love, and he gave his peace and honor freely into her keeping.

He had his reward. He had his reward in her frank, womanly affection, and in the delight of seeing that she was happy; no cloud upon her face, no shadow on her life, but ever-beaming joy in her eyes, ever-changing smiles upon her lips. She was happy in the calm security of her home, happy in that pleasant strong-hold in which she was so fenced about and guarded by love and devotion. I do not know that she ever felt any romantic or enthusiastic love for this big Yorkshireman; but I do know that from the first hour in which she laid her head upon his broad breast she was true to him — true as a wife should be; true in every thought, true in the merest shadow of a thought. A wide gulf yawned around the altar of her home, separating her from every other man in the universe, and leaving her alone with that one man whom she had accepted as her husband. She had accepted him in the truest and purest sense of the word. She had accepted him from the hand of God as the protector and shelterer of her life; and, morning and night, upon her knees she thanked the gracious Creator who had made this man for her helpmeet.

But, after duly setting down all this, I have to confess that poor John Mellish was cruelly hen-pecked. Such big, blustering fellows are created to be the much-enduring subjects of petticoat government; and they carry the rosy garlands until their dying hour with a sublime consciousness that those floral chains are not very easy to be broken. Your little man is self-assertive, and for ever on his guard against womanly domination. All tyrannical husbands on record have been little men, from Mr. Daniel Quilp upward; but who could ever convince a fellow of six feet two in his stockings that he was afraid of his wife? He submits to the petty tyrant with a quiet smile of resignation. What does it matter? She is so little, so fragile; he could break that tiny wrist with one twist of his big thumb and finger; and, in the meantime, till affairs get desperate, and such measures become necessary, it’s as well to let her have her own way.

John Mellish did not even debate the point. He loved her, and he laid himself down to be trampled upon by her gracious feet. Whatever she did or said was charming, bewitching, and wonderful to him. If she ridiculed or laughed at him, her laughter was the sweetest harmony in creation; and it pleased him to think that his absurdities could give birth to such music. If she lectured him, she arose to the sublimity of a priestess, and he listened to her and worshipped her as the most noble of living creatures. And, with all this, his innate manliness of character preserved him from any taint of that quality our argot has christened spooneyism. It was only those who knew him well and watched him closely who could fathom the full depths of his tender weakness. The noblest sentiments approach most nearly to the universal, and this love of John’s was in a manner universal. It was the love of husband, father, mother, brother, melted into one comprehensive affection. He had a mother’s weak pride in Aurora, a mother’s foolish vanity in the wonderful creature, the rara avis he had won from her nest to be his wife.

If Mrs. Mellish was complimented while John stood by, he simpered like a school-girl who blushes at a handsome man’s first flatteries. I’m afraid he bored his male acquaintance about “my wife;” her marvellous leap over the bullfinch; the plan she drew for the new stables, “which the architect said was a better plan than he could have drawn himself, sir, by gad” (a clever man, that Doncaster architect); the surprising manner she had discovered the fault of the chestnut colt’s off fore leg; the pencil sketch she had made of her dog Bow-wow (“Sir Edwin Landseer might have been proud of such spirit and dash, sir”)— all these things did the country gentlemen hear, until, perhaps, they grew a shade weary of John’s talk of “my wife.” But they were never weary of Aurora herself. She took her place at once among them, and they bowed down to her and worshipped her, envying John Mellish the ownership of such a high-bred filly, as I fear they were but likely, unconsciously, to designate my black-eyed heroine.

The domain over which Aurora found herself empress was no inconsiderable one. John Mellish had inherited an estate which brought him an income of something between £16,000 and £17,000 a year. Far-away farms, upon wide Yorkshire wolds and fenny Lincolnshire flats, owned him master; and the intricate secrets of his possessions were scarcely known to himself — known, perhaps, to none but his land-steward and solicitor, a grave gentleman who lived in Doncaster, and drove about once a fortnight down to Mellish Park, much to the horror of his light-hearted master, to whom “business” was a terrible bugbear. Not that I would have the reader for a moment imagine John Mellish an empty-headed blockhead, with no comprehension save for his own daily pleasures. He was not a reading man, nor a business man, nor a politician, nor a student of the natural sciences.

There was an observatory in the park, but John had fitted it up as a smoking-room, the revolving openings in the roof being very convenient for letting out the effluvia of his guests’ cheroots and Havanas, Mr. Mellish caring for the stars very much after the fashion of that Assyrian monarch who was content to see them shine, and thank their Maker for their beauty. He was not a spiritualist, and, unless one of the tables at Mellish could have given him “a tip” for the “Sellinger” or Great Ebor, he would have cared very little if every inch of walnut and rose-wood in his house had grown oracular. But, for all this, he was no fool; he had that brightly clear intellect which very often accompanies perfect honesty of purpose, and which is the very intellect of all others most successful in the discomfiture of all knavery. He was not a creature to despise, for his very weaknesses were manly. Perhaps Aurora felt this, and that it was something to rule over such a man. Sometimes, in an outburst of loving gratitude, she would nestle her handsome head upon his breast — tall as she was, she was only tall enough to take shelter under his wing — and tell him that he was the dearest and the best of men, and that, although she might love him to her dying day, she could never, never, never love him half as much as he deserved. After which, half ashamed of herself for the sentimental declaration, she would alternately ridicule, lecture, and tyrannize over him for the rest of the day.

Lucy beheld this state of things with silent bewilderment. Could the woman who had once been loved by Talbot Bulstrode sink to this — the happy wife of a fair-haired Yorkshireman, with her fondest wishes concentred in her namesake, the bay filly, which was to run in a weight-for-age race at the York Spring, and was entered for the ensuing Derby; interested in a tan-gallop, a new stable; talking of mysterious but evidently all-important creatures, called by such names as Scott, and Fobert, and Challoner; and, to all appearance, utterly forgetful of the fact that there existed upon the earth a divinity with fathomless gray eyes, known as the heir of Bulstrode? Poor Lucy was like to have been driven wellnigh demented by the talk about this bay filly Aurora as the spring meeting drew near. She was taken to see it every morning by Aurora and John, who, in their anxiety for the improvement of their favorite, looked at the animal upon each visit as if they expected some wonderful physical transformation to have occurred in the stillness of the night. The loose box in which the filly was lodged was watched night and day by an amateur detective force of stable-boys and hangers-on; and John Mellish once went so far as to dip a tumbler into the pail of water provided for the bay filly Aurora, to ascertain, of his own experience, that the crystal fluid was innocuous; for he grew nervous as the eventful day drew nigh, and was afraid of lurking danger to the filly from dark-minded touts who might have heard of her in London. I fear the touts troubled their heads very little about this graceful two-year old, though she had the blood of Old Melbourne and West Australian in her veins, to say nothing of other aristocracy upon the maternal side.

The suspicious gentlemen hanging about York and Doncaster in those early April days were a great deal too much occupied with Lord Glasgow’s lot, and John Scott’s lot, and Lord Zetland’s, and Mr. Merry’s lot, and other lots of equal distinction, to have much time to prowl about Mellish Park, or peer into that meadow which the young man had caused to be surrounded by an eight-foot fence for the privacy of the Derby winner in futuro.

Lucy declared the filly to be the loveliest of creatures, and safe to win any number of cups and plates that might be offered for equine competition; but she was always glad, when the daily visit was over, to find herself safely out of reach of those high-bred hind legs, which seemed to possess a faculty for being in all four corners of the loose box at one and the same moment.

The first day of the meeting came, and found half the Mellish household established at York; John and his family at a hotel near the betting-rooms; and the trainer, his satellites, and the filly, at a little inn close to the Knavesmire.

Archibald Floyd did his best to be interested in the event which was so interesting to his children; but he freely confessed to his grand-niece Lucy that he heartily wished the meeting over, and the merits of the bay filly decided. She had stood her trial nobly, John said; not winning with a rush, it is true; in point of fact, being in a manner beaten; but evincing a power to stay, which promised better for the future than any two-year-old velocity. When the saddling-bell rang, Aurora, her father, and Lucy were stationed in the balcony, a crowd of friends about them; Mrs. Mellish, with a pencil in her hand, putting down all manner of impossible bets in her excitement, and making such a book as might have been preserved as a curiosity in sporting annals. John was pushing in and out of the ring below, tumbling over small bookmen in his agitation, dashing from the ring to the weighing-house, and hanging about the small, pale-faced boy who was to ride the filly as anxiously as if the jockey had been a prime minister, and John a family man with half a dozen sons in need of government appointments. I tremble to think how many bonuses, in the way of five-pound notes, John promised the pale-faced lad on condition that the stakes (some small matter amounting to about £60) were pulled off — pulled off where, I wonder — by the bay filly Aurora. If the youth had not been of that preternatural order of being who seem born of an emotionless character to wear silk for the good of their fellow-men, his brain must certainly have been dazed by the variety of conflicting directions which John Mellish gave him within the critical last quarter of an hour; but, having received his orders early that morning from the trainer, accompanied with a warning not to suffer himself to be tewed (Yorkshire patois for worried) by anything Mr. Mellish might say, the sallow-complexioned lad walked about in the calm serenity of innocence — there are honest jockeys in the world, thank Heaven! and took his seat in the saddle with as even a pulse as if he had been about to ride in an omnibus.

There were some people upon the stand that morning who thought the face of Aurora Mellish as pleasant a sight as the smooth green sward of the Knavesmire, or the best horse-flesh in the county of York. All forgetful of herself in her excitement, with her natural vivacity multiplied by the animation of the scene before her, she was more than usually lovely; and Archibald Floyd looked at her with a fond emotion, so intermingled with gratitude to Heaven for the happiness of his daughter’s destiny as to be almost akin to pain. She was happy — she was thoroughly happy at last — the child of his dead Eliza, this sacred charge left to him by the woman he had loved; she was happy, and she was safe; he could go to his grave resignedly tomorrow, if it pleased God, knowing this. Strange thoughts, perhaps, for a crowded race-course; but our most solemn fancies do not come always in solemn places. Nay, it is often in the midst of crowds and confusion that our souls wing their loftiest flights, and the saddest memories return to us. You see a man sitting at some theatrical entertainment with a grave, abstracted face, over which no change of those around him has any influence. He may be thinking of his dead wife, dead ten years ago; he may be acting over well-remembered scenes of joy and sorrow; he may be recalling cruel words, never to be atoned for upon earth — angry looks, gone to be registered against him in the skies, while his children are laughing at the clown on the stage below him. He may be moodily meditating inevitable bankruptcy or coming ruin, holding imaginary meetings with his creditors, and contemplating prussic acid upon the refusal of his certificate, while his eldest daughter is crying with Pauline Deschapelles. So Archibald Floyd, while the numbers were going up, and the jockeys being weighed, and the bookmen clamoring below him, leaned over the broad ledge of the stone balcony, and, looking far away across the grassy amphitheatre, thought of his dead wife who had bequeathed to him this precious daughter.

The bay filly Aurora was beaten ignominiously. Mrs. Mellish turned white with despair, as she saw the amber jacket, black belt, and blue cap crawling in at the heels of the ruck, the jockey looking pale defiance at the by-standers; as who should say that the filly had never been meant to win, and that the defeat of to-day was but an artfully-concocted ruse whereby fortunes were to be made in the future? John Mellish, something used to such disappointments, crept away to hide his discomfiture outside the ring; but Aurora dropped her card and pencil, and, stamping her foot upon the stone flooring of the balcony, told Lucy and the banker that it was a shame, and that the boy must have sold the race, as it was impossible that the filly could have been fairly beaten. As she turned to say this, her cheeks flushed with passion, and her eyes flashing bright indignation on any one who might stand in the way to receive the angry electric light, she became aware of a pale face and a pair of gray eyes earnestly regarding her from the threshold of an open window two or three paces off, and in another moment both she and her father had recognized Talbot Bulstrode.

The young man saw that he was recognized, and approached them, hat in hand — very, very pale, as Lucy always remembered — and, with a voice that trembled as he spoke, wished the banker and the two ladies “Good-day.”

And it was thus that they met, these two who had “parted in silence and tears,” more than “half broken-hearted,” to sever, as they thought, for eternity; it was thus, upon this commonplace, prosaic, half-guinea grand stand — that Destiny brought them once more face to face.

A year ago, and how often in the spring twilight Aurora Floyd had pictured her possible meeting with Talbot Bulstrode! He would come upon her suddenly, perhaps, in the still moonlight, and she would swoon away and die at his feet of the unendurable emotion; or they would meet in some crowded assembly, she dancing, laughing with hollow, simulated mirth, and the shock of one glance of those eyes would slay her in her painted glory of jewels and grandeur. How often, ah! how often she had acted the scene and felt the anguish! only a year ago, less than a year ago, ay! even so lately as on that balmy September day when she had laid on the rustic couch at the Chateau d’Arques, looking down at the fair Normandy landscape, with faithful John at watch by her side, the tame goats browsing upon the grassy platform behind her, and preternaturally ancient French children teasing the mild, long-suffering animals; and to-day she met him with her thoughts so full of the horse that had just been beaten that she scarcely knew what she said to her sometime lover. Aurora Floyd was dead and buried, and Aurora Mellish, looking critically at Talbot Bulstrode, wondered how any one could have ever gone near to the gates of death for the love of him.

It was Talbot who grew pale at this unlooked-for encounter; it was Talbot whose voice was shaken in the utterance of those few every-day syllables which common courtesy demanded of him. The captain had not so easily learned to forget. He was older than Aurora, and he had reached the age of two-and-thirty without having ever loved woman, only to be more desperately attacked by the fatal disease when his time came. He suffered acutely at that sudden meeting. — Wounded in his pride by her serene indifference, dazzled afresh by her beauty, mad with jealous fury at the thought that he had lost her, Captain Bulstrode’s feelings were of no very enviable nature; and, if Aurora had ever wished to avenge that cruel scene at Felden Woods, her hour of vengeance had most certainly come. But she was too generous a creature to have harbored such a thought. She had submitted in all humility to Talbot’s decree; she had accepted his decision, and had believed in its justice; and, seeing his agitation to-day, she was sorry for him. She pitied him with a tender, matronly compassion, such as she, in the safe harbor of a happy home, might be privileged to feel for this poor wanderer still at sea on life’s troubled ocean. Love, and the memory of love, must indeed have died before we can feel like this. The terrible passion must have died that slow and certain death from the grave of which no haunting ghost ever returns to torment the survivors. It was, and it is not. Aurora might have been shipwrecked and cast on a desert island with Talbot Bulstrode, and might have lived ten years in his company without ever feeling for ten seconds as she had felt for him once. With these impetuous and impressionable people, who live quickly, a year is sometimes as twenty years; so Aurora looked back at Talbot Bulstrode across a gulf which stretched for weary miles between them, and wondered if they had really ever stood side by side, allied by hope and love, in the days that were gone.

While Aurora was thinking of these things, as well as a little of the bay filly, and while Talbot, half choked by a thousand confused emotions, tried to appear preternaturally at his ease, John Mellish, having refreshed his spirits with bottled beer, came suddenly upon the party, and slapped the captain on the back.

He was not jealous, this happy John. Secure in his wife’s love and truth, he was ready to face a regiment of her old admirers; indeed, he rather delighted in the idea of avenging Aurora upon this cowardly lover. Talbot glanced involuntarily at the members of the York constabulary on the course below, wondering how they would act if he were to fling John Mellish over the stone balcony, and do a murder then and there. He was thinking this while John was nearly wringing off his hand in cordial salutation, and asking what the deuce had brought him to the York Spring.

Talbot explained rather lamely that, being knocked up by his Parliamentary work, he had come down to spend a few days with an old brother-officer, Captain Hunter, who had a place between York and Leeds.

Mr. Mellish declared that nothing could be more lucky than this. He knew Hunter well; the two men must join them at dinner that day! and Talbot must give them a week at the Park after he left the captain’s place.

Talbot murmured some vague protestation of the impossibility of this, to which John paid no attention whatever, hustling his sometime rival away from the ladies in his eagerness to get back to the ring, where he had to complete his book for the next race.

So Captain Bulstrode was gone once more, and throughout the brief interview no one had cared to notice Lucy Floyd, who had been pale and red by turns half a dozen times within the last ten minutes.

John and Talbot returned after the start, with Captain Hunter, who was brought on to the stand to be presented to Aurora, and who immediately entered into a very animated discussion upon the day’s racing. How Captain Bulstrode abhorred this idle babble of horse-flesh, this perpetual jargon, alike in every mouth, from Aurora’s rosy Cupid’s bow to the tobacco-tainted lips of the bookmen in the ring! Thank Heaven, this was not his wife, who knew all the slang of the course, and, with lorgnette in hand, was craning her swan-like throat to catch sight of a wind in the Knavesmire and the horse that had a lead of half a mile.

Why had he ever consented to come into this accursed horse-racing county? Why had he deserted the Cornish miners even for a week? Better to be wearing out his brains over Dryasdust pamphlets and Parliamentary minutes than to be here, desolate among this shallow-minded, clamorous multitude, who have nothing to do but to throw up caps and cry huzza for any winner of any race. Talbot, as a by-stander, could not but remark this, and draw from this something of a philosophical lesson on life. He saw that there was always the same clamor and the same rejoicing in the crowd, whether the winning jockey wore blue and black belt, yellow and black cap, white with scarlet spots, or any other variety of color, even to dismal sable; and he could but wonder how this was. Did the unlucky speculators run away and hide themselves while the uplifted voices were rejoicing? When the welkin was rent with the name of Kettledrum, where were the men who had backed Dundee unflinchingly up to the dropping of the flag and the ringing of the bell? When Thormanby came in with a rush, where were the wretched creatures whose fortunes hung on Umpire or Wizard? They were voiceless, these poor unlucky ones, crawling away with sick white faces, to gather in groups and explain to each other, with stable jargon intermingled with oaths, how it ought not to have been, and never could have been, but for some unlooked-for and preposterous combination of events never before witnessed upon any mortal course. How little is ever seen of the losers in any of the great races run upon this earth? For years and years the name of Louis Napoleon is an empty sound, signifying nothing; when, lo! a few master-strokes of policy and finesse, a little juggling with those pieces of pasteboard out of which are built the shaky card-palaces men call empires, and creation rings with the same name; the outsider emerges from the ruck, and the purple jacket, spotted with golden bees, is foremost in the mighty race.

Talbot Bulstrode leaned with folded arms upon the stone balustrade, looking down at the busy life below him, and thinking of these things. Pardon him for his indulgence in dreary platitudes and wornout sentimentalities. He was a desolate, purposeless man; entered for no race himself; scratched for the matrimonial stakes; embittered by disappointment; soured by doubt and suspicion. He had spent the dull winter months upon the Continent, having no mind to go down to Bulstrode to encounter his mother’s sympathy and his cousin Constance Trevyllian’s chatter. He was unjust enough to nourish a secret dislike to that young lady for the good service she had done him by revealing Aurora’s flight.

Are we ever really grateful to the people who tell us of the iniquity of those we love? Are we ever really just to the kindly creatures who give us friendly warning of our danger? No, never. We hate them; always involuntarily reverting to them as the first cause of our anguish; always repeating to ourselves that, had they been silent, that anguish need never have been; always ready to burst forth in one wild rage with the mad cry that “it is better to be much abused than but to know ‘t a little.” When the friendly Ancient drops his poisoned hints into poor Othello’s ear, it is not Mrs. Desdemona, but Iago himself, whom the noble Moor first has a mind to strangle. If poor, innocent Constance Treyvellian had been born the veriest cur in the county of Cornwall, she would have had a better chance of winning Talbot’s regard than she had now.

Why had he come into Yorkshire? I left that question unanswered just now, for I am ashamed to tell the reasons which actuated this unhappy man. He came, in a paroxysm of curiosity, to learn what kind of life Aurora led with her husband, John Mellish. He had suffered horrible distractions of mind upon this subject, one moment imagining her the most despicable of coquettes, ready to marry any man who had a fair estate and a good position to offer her, and by and by depicting her as some white-robed Iphigenia, led a passive victim to the sacrificial shrine. So, when happening to meet this good-natured brother-officer at the United Service Club, he had consented to run down to Captain Hunter’s country place for a brief respite from Parliamentary minutes and red tape, the artful hypocrite had never owned to himself that he was burning to hear tidings of his false and fickle love, and that it was some lingering fumes of the old intoxication that carried him down to Yorkshire. But now — now that he met her — met her, the heartless, abominable creature, radiant and happy — mere simulated happiness and feverish mock radiance, no doubt, but too well put on to be quite pleasing to him — now he knew her. He knew her at last, the wicked enchantress, the soulless siren. He knew that she had never loved him; that she was, of course, powerless to love; good for nothing but to wreathe her white arms and flash the dark splendor of her eyes for weak man’s destruction; fit for nothing but to float in her beauty above the waves that concealed the bleached bones of her victims. Poor John Mellish! Talbot reproached himself for his hardness of heart in nourishing one spiteful feeling toward a man who was so deeply to be pitied.

When the race was done Captain Bulstrode turned and beheld the black-eyed sorceress in the midst of a group gathered about a grave patriarch, with gray hair, and the look of one accustomed to command.

This grave patriarch was John Pastern.

I write his name with respect, even as it was reverentially whispered there, till, travelling from lip to lip, every one present knew that a great man was among them. A very quiet, unassuming veteran, sitting with his womankind about him — his wife and daughter, as I think — self-possessed and grave, while men were busy with his name in the crowd below, and while tens of thousands were staked in trusting dependence on his acumen. What golden syllables might have fallen from those oracular lips had the veteran been so pleased! What hundreds would have been freely bidden for a word, a look, a nod, a wink, a mere significant pursing-up of the lips from that great man! What is the fable of the young lady who discoursed pearls and diamonds to a truth such as this! Pearls and diamonds must be of a large size which would be worth the secrets of those Richmond stables, the secrets which Mr. Pastern might tell if he chose. Perhaps it is the knowledge of this which gives him a calm, almost clerical gravity of manner. People come to him, and fawn upon him, and tell him that such and such a horse from his stable has won, or looks safe to win; and he nods pleasantly, thanking them for the kind information, while perhaps his thoughts are far away on Epsom Downs or Newmarket Flats, winning future Derbys and two thousands with colts that are as yet unfoaled.

John Mellish is on intimate terms with the great man, to whom he presents Aurora, and of whom he asks advice upon a matter that has been troubling him for some time. His trainer’s health is failing him, and he wants assistance in the stables — a younger man, honest and clever. Does Mr. Pastern know such a one?

The veteran tells him, after due consideration, that he does know of a young man — honest, he believes, as times go — who was once employed in the Richmond stables, and who had written to him only a few days before, asking for his influence in getting him a situation. “But the lad’s name has slipped my memory,” added Mr. Pastern; “he was but a lad when he was with me; but, bless my soul, that’s ten years ago! I’ll look up his letter when I go home, and write to you about him. I know he’s clever, and I believe he’s honest; and I shall be only too happy,” concluded the old gentleman, gallantly, “to do anything to oblige Mrs. Mellish.”

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31