East Lynne, by Ellen Wood

Chapter 35.

A Mishap to the Blue Spectacles.

Mr. Carlyle and Barbara were seated at breakfast, when, somewhat to their surprise, Mr. Dill was shown in. Following close upon his heels came Justice Hare; and close upon his heels came Squire Pinner; while bringing up the rear was Colonel Bethel. All the four had come up separately, not together, and all four were out of breath, as if it had been a race which should arrive soonest.

Quite impossible was it for Mr. Carlyle, at first, to understand the news they brought. All were talking at once, in the utmost excitement; and the fury of Justice Hare alone was sufficient to produce temporary deafness. Mr. Carlyle caught a word of the case presently.

“A second man? Opposition? Well, let him come on,” he good-humoredly cried. “We shall have the satisfaction of ascertaining who wins in the end.”

“But you have not heard who it is, Mr. Archibald,” cried Old Dill, “It —”

“Stand a contest with him?” raved Justice Hare. “He —”

“The fellow wants hanging,” interjected Colonel Bethel.

“Couldn’t he be ducked?” suggested Squire Pinner.

Now all these sentences were ranted out together, and their respective utterers were fain to stop till the noise subsided a little. Barbara could only look from one to the other in astonishment.

“Who is this formidable opponent?” asked Mr. Carlyle.

There was a pause. Not one of them but had the delicacy to shrink from naming that man to Mr. Carlyle. The information came at last from Old Dill, who dropped his voice while he spoke it.

“Mr. Archibald, the candidate who has come forward, is that man Levison.”

“Of course, Carlyle, you’ll go into it now, neck and crop,” cried Justice Hare.

Mr. Carlyle was silent.

“You won’t let the beast frighten you from the contest!” uttered Colonel Bethel in a loud tone.

“There’s a meeting at the Buck’s Head at ten,” said Mr. Carlyle, not replying to the immediate question. “I will be with you there.”

“Did you not say, Mr. Dill, that was where the scoundrel Levison is — at the Buck’s Head?”

“He was there,” answered Mr. Dill. “I expect he is ousted by this time. I asked the landlord what he thought of himself, for taking in such a character, and what he supposed the justice would say to him. He vowed with tears in his eyes that the fellow should not be there another hour, and that he should never have entered it, had he known who he was.”

A little more conversation, and the visitors filed off. Mr. Carlyle sat down calmly to finish his breakfast. Barbara approached him.

“Archibald, you will not suffer this man’s insolent doings to deter you from your plans — you will not withdraw?” she whispered.

“I think not, Barbara. He has thrust himself offensively upon me in this measure; I believe my better plan will be to take no more heed of him than I should of the dirt under my feet.”

“Right — right,” she answered, a proud flush deepening the rose on her cheeks.

Mr. Carlyle was walking into West Lynne. There were the placards, sure enough, side by side with his own, bearing the name of that wicked coward who had done him the greatest injury one man can do to another. Verily, he must possess a face of brass to venture there.

“Archibald, have you heard the disgraceful news?”

The speaker was Miss Carlyle, who had come down upon her brother like a ship with all sails set. Her cheeks wore a flush; her eyes glistened; her tall form was drawn up to its most haughty height.

“I have heard it, Cornelia, and, had I not, the walls would have enlightened me.”

“Is he out of his mind?”

“Out of his reckoning, I fancy,” replied Mr. Carlyle.

“You will carry on the contest now,” she continued, her countenance flashing. “I was averse to it before, but I now withdraw all my objection. You will be no brother of mine if you yield the field to him.”

“I do not intend to yield it.”

“Good. You bear on upon your course, and let him crawl on upon his. Take no more heed of him than if he were a viper. Archibald, you must canvass now.”

“No,” said Mr. Carlyle, “I shall be elected without canvass. You’ll see, Cornelia.”

“There will be plenty canvassing for you, if you don’t condescend to take the trouble, my indifferent brother. I’ll give a thousand pounds myself, for ale, to the electors.”

“Take care,” laughed Mr. Carlyle. “Keep your thousand pounds in your pocket, Cornelia. I have no mind to be unseated, on the plea of ‘bribery and corruption.’ Here’s Sir John Dobede galloping in, with a face as red as the sun in a fog.”

“Well, it may be he has heard the news. I can tell you, Archibald, West Lynne is in a state of excitement that has not been its lot for many a day.”

Miss Carlyle was right. Excitement and indignation had taken possession of West Lynne. How the people rallied around Mr. Carlyle! Town and country were alike up in arms. But government interest was rife at West Lynne, and, whatever the private and public feeling might be, collectively or individually, many votes should be recorded for Sir Francis Levison.

One of the first to become cognizant of the affair was Lord Mount Severn. He was at his club one evening in London, poring over an evening paper, when the names “Carlyle,” “West Lynne,” caught his view. Knowing that Mr. Carlyle had been named as the probable member, and heartily wishing that he might become such, the earl naturally read the paragraph.

He read it, and read it again; he rubbed his eyes, he rubbed his glasses, he pinched himself, to see whether he was awake or dreaming. For believe what that paper asserted — that Sir Francis Levison had entered the lists in opposition to Mr. Carlyle, and was at West Lynne, busily canvassing — he could not.

“Do you know anything of this infamous assertion?” he inquired of an intimate friend —“infamous, whether true or false.”

“It’s true, I heard of it an hour ago. Plenty of cheek that Levison must have.”

Cheek!” repeated the dismayed earl, feeling as if every part of him, body and mind, were outraged by the news, “don’t speak of it in that way. The hound deserves to be gibbeted.”

He threw aside the paper, quitted the club, returned home for a carpet bag, and went shrieking and whistling down to West Lynne, taking his son with him. Or, if he did not whistle and shriek the engine did. Fully determined was the earl of Mount Severn to show his opinion of the affair.

On these fine spring mornings, their breakfast over, Lady Isabel was in the habit of going into the grounds with the children. They were on the lawn before the house, when two gentlemen came walking up the avenue; or, rather, one gentleman, and a handsome young stripling growing into another. Lady Isabel thought she should have dropped, for she stood face to face with Lord Mount Severn. The earl stopped to salute the children, and raised his hat to the strange lady.

“It is my governess, Madame Vine,” said Lucy.

A silent courtesy from Madame Vine. She turned away her head and gasped for breath.

“Is your papa at home, Lucy?” cried the earl.

“Yes; I think he is at breakfast. I’m so glad you are come!”

Lord Mount Severn walked on, holding William by the hand, who had eagerly offered to “take him” to papa. Lord Vane bent over Lucy to kiss her. A little while, a very few more years, and my young lady would not hold up her rosy lips so boldly.

“You have grown a dearer girl than ever, Lucy. Have you forgotten our compact?”

“No,” laughed she.

“And you will not forget it?”

“Never,” said the child, shaking her head. “You shall see if I do.”

“Lucy is to be my wife,” cried he, turning to Madame Vine. “It is a bargain, and we have both promised. I mean to wait for her till she is old enough. I like her better than anybody else in the world.”

“And I like him,” spoke up Miss Lucy. “And it’s all true.”

Lucy was a child — it may almost be said an infant — and the viscount was not of an age to render important such avowed passions. Nevertheless, the words did thrill through the veins of the hearer. She spoke, she thought, not as Madame Vine would have spoken and thought, but as the unhappy mother, the ill-fated Lady Isabel.

“You must not say these things to Lucy. It could never be.”

Lord Vane laughed.

“Why?” asked he.

“Your father and mother would not approve.”

“My father would — I know he would. He likes Lucy. As to my mother — oh, well, she can’t expect to be master and mistress too. You be off for a minute, Lucy; I want to say some thing to Madame Vine. Has Carlyle shot that fellow?” he continued, as Lucy sprung away. “My father is so stiff, especially when he’s put up, that he would not sully his lips with the name, or make a single inquiry when we arrived; neither would he let me, and I walked up here with my tongue burning.”

She would have responded, what fellow? But she suspected too well, and the words died away on her unwilling lips.

“That brute, Levison. If Carlyle riddled his body with shots for this move, and then kicked him till he died, he’d only get his deserts, and the world would applaud. He oppose Carlyle! I wish I had been a man a few years ago, he’d have got a shot through his heart then. I say,” dropping his voice, “did you know Lady Isabel?”

“Yes — no — yes.”

She was at a loss what to say — almost as unconscious what she did say.

“She was Lucy’s mother, you know, and I loved her. I think that’s why I love Lucy, for she is the very image of her. Where did you know her? Here?”

“I knew her by hearsay,” murmured Lady Isabel, arousing to recollection.

“Oh, hearsay! Has Carlyle shot the beast, or is he on his legs yet? By Jove! To think that he should sneak himself up, in this way, at West Lynne!”

“You must apply elsewhere for information,” she gasped. “I know nothing of these things.”

She turned away with a beating heart, and took Lucy’s hand, and departed. Lord Vane set off on a run toward the house, his heels flying behind him.

And now the contest began in earnest — that is, the canvass. Sir Francis Levison, his agent, and a friend from town, who, as it turned out, instead of being some great gun of the government, was a private chum of the baronet’s by name Drake, sneaked about the town like dogs with their tails burnt, for they were entirely alive to the color in which they were held, their only attendants being a few young gentlemen and ladies in rags, who commonly brought up the rear. The other party presented a stately crowd — county gentry, magistrates, Lord Mount Severn. Sometimes Mr. Carlyle would be with them, arm-and-arm with the latter. If the contesting groups came within view of each other, and were likely to meet, the brave Sir Francis would disappear down an entry, behind a hedge, any place convenient; with all his “face of brass,” he could not meet Mr. Carlyle and that condemning jury around him.

One afternoon it pleased Mrs. Carlyle to summon Lucy and the governess to accompany her into West Lynne. She was going shopping. Lady Isabel had a dread and horror of appearing in there while that man was in town, but she could not help herself. There was no pleading illness, for she was quite well; there must be no saying, “I will not go,” for she was only a dependant. They started, and had walked as far as Mrs. Hare’s gate, when Miss Carlyle turned out of it.

“Your mamma’s not well, Barbara.”

“Is she not?” cried Barbara, with quick concern. “I must go and see her.”

“She has had one of those ridiculous dreams again,” pursued Miss Carlyle, ignoring the presence of the governess and Lucy. “I was sure of it by her very look when I got in, shivering and shaking, and glancing fearfully around, as if she feared a dozen spectres were about to burst out of the walls. So I taxed her with it, and she could make no denial. Richard is in some jeopardy, she protests, or will be. And there she is, shaking still, although I told her that people who put faith in dreams were only fit for a lunatic asylum.”

Barbara looked distressed. She did not believe in dreams any more than Miss Carlyle, but she could not forget how strangely peril to Richard had supervened upon some of these dreams.

“I will go in now and see mamma,” she said. “If you are returning home, Cornelia, Madame Vine can walk with you, and wait for me there.”

“Let me go in with you, mamma!” pleaded Lucy.

Barbara mechanically took the child’s hand. The gates closed on them, and Miss Carlyle and Lady Isabel proceeded in the direction of the town. But not far had they gone when, in turning a corner, the wind, which was high, blew away with the veil of Lady Isabel, and, in raising her hand in trepidation to save it before it was finally gone, she contrived to knock off her blue spectacles. They fell to the ground, and were broken.

“How did you manage that?” uttered Miss Carlyle.

How, indeed? She bent her face on the ground, looking at the damage. What should she do? The veil was over the hedge, the spectacles were broken — how could she dare show her naked face? That face was rosy just then, as in former days, the eyes were bright, and Miss Carlyle caught their expression, and stared in very amazement.

“Good heavens above,” she uttered, “what an extraordinary likeness!” And Lady Isabel’s heart turned faint and sick within her.

Well it might. And, to make matters worse, bearing down right upon them, but a few paces distant, came Sir Francis Levison.

Would he recognize her?

Standing blowing in the wind at the turning of the road were Miss Carlyle and Lady Isabel Vane. The latter, confused and perplexed, was picking up the remnant of her damaged spectacles; the former, little less perplexed, gazed at the face which struck upon her memory as being so familiar. Her attention, however, was called off the face to the apparition of Sir Francis Levison.

He was close upon them, Mr. Drake and the other comrade being with him, and some tagrag in attendance, as usual. It was the first time he and Miss Carlyle had met face to face. She bent her condemning brow, haughty in its bitter scorn, full upon him, for it was not in the nature of Miss Carlyle to conceal her sentiments, especially when they were rather of the strongest. Sir Francis, when he arrived opposite, raised his hat to her. Whether it was done in courtesy, in confused unconsciousness, or in mockery, cannot be told. Miss Carlyle assumed it to have been the latter, and her lips, in their anger grew almost as pale as those of the unhappy woman who was cowering behind her.

“Did you intend that insult for me, Francis Levison?”

“As you please to take it,” returned he, calling up insolence to his aid.

You dare to lift off your hat to me! Have you forgotten that I am Miss Carlyle?”

“It would be difficult for you to be forgotten, once seen.”

Now this answer was given in mockery; his tone and manner were redolent of it, insolently so. The two gentlemen looked on in discomfort, wondering what it meant; Lady Isabel hid her face as best she could, terrified to death lest his eyes should fall on it: while the spectators, several of whom had collected now, listened with interest, especially some farm laborers of Squire Pinner’s who had happened to be passing.

“You contemptible worm!” cried Miss Carlyle, “do you think you can outrage me with impunity as you, by your presence in it, are outraging West Lynne? Out upon you for a bold, bad man!”

Now Miss Corny, in so speaking, had certainly no thought of present and immediate punishment for the gentleman; but it appeared that the mob around had. The motion was commented by those stout-shouldered laborers. Whether excited thereto by the words of Miss Carlyle — who, whatever may have been her faults of manner, held the respect of the neighborhood, and was looked up to only in a less degree than her brother; whether Squire Pinner, their master, had let drop, in their hearing, a word of the ducking he had hinted at, when at East Lynne, or whether their own feelings alone spurred them on, was best known to the men themselves. Certain it is, that the ominous sound of “Duck him,” was breathed forth by a voice, and it was caught up and echoed around.

“Duck him! Duck him! The pond be close at hand. Let’s give him a taste of his deservings! What do he the scum, turn himself up at West Lynne for, bearding Mr. Carlyle? What have he done with Lady Isabel? Him put up for others at West Lynne! West Lynne’s respectable, it don’t want him; it have got a better man; it won’t have a villain. Now, lads!”

His face turned white, and he trembled in his shoes — worthless men are frequently cowards. Lady Isabel trembled in hers; and well she might, hearing that one allusion. They set upon him, twenty pairs of hands at least, strong, rough, determined hands; not to speak of the tagrag’s help, who went in with cuffs, and kicks, and pokes, and taunts, and cheers, and a demoniac dance.

They dragged him through a gap in the hedge, a gap that no baby could have got through in a cool moment; but most of us know the difference between coolness and excitement. The hedge was extensively damaged, but Justice Hare, to whom it belonged, would forgive that. Mr. Drake and the lawyer — for the other was a lawyer — were utterly powerless to stop the catastrophe. “If they didn’t mind their own business, and keep themselves clear, they’d get served the same,” was the promise held out in reply to their remonstrances; and the lawyer, who was short and fat, and could not have knocked a man down, had it been to save his life, backed out of the melee, and contented himself with issuing forth confused threatenings of the terrors of the law. Miss Carlyle stood her ground majestically, and looked on with a grim countenance. Had she interfered for his protection, she could not have been heard; and if she could have been, there’s no knowing whether she would have done it.

On, to the brink of the pond — a green, dank, dark, slimy sour, stinking pond. His coat-tails were gone by this time, and sundry rents and damages appeared in-in another useful garment. One pulled him, another pushed him, a third shook him by the collar, half a dozen buffeted him, and all abused him.

“In with him, boys!”

“Mercy! Mercy!” shrieked the victim, his knees bending and his teeth chattering —“a little mercy for the love of Heaven!”

“Heaven! Much he knows of Heaven!”

A souse, a splash, a wild cry, a gurgle, and Sir Francis Levison was floundering in the water, its green poison, not to mention its adders and thads and frogs, going down his throat by bucketfuls. A hoarse, derisive laugh, and a hip, hip, hurrah! broke from the actors; while the juvenile ragtag, in wild delight, joined their hands round the pool, and danced the demon’s dance, like so many red Indians. They had never had such a play acted for them before.

Out of the pea-soup before he was quite dead, quite senseless. Of all drowned rats, he looked the worst, as he stood there with his white, rueful face, his shivery limbs, and his dilapidated garments, shaking the wet off him. The laborers, their duty done, walked coolly away; the tagrag withdrew to a safe distance, waiting for what might come next; and Miss Carlyle moved away also. Not more shivery was that wretched man than Lady Isabel, as she walked by her side. A sorry figure to cut, that, for her once chosen cavalier. What did she think of his beauty now? I know what she thought of her past folly.

Miss Carlyle never spoke a word. She sailed on, with her head up, though it was turned occasionally to look at the face of Madame Vine, at the deep distressing blush which this gaze called into her cheeks. “It’s very odd,” thought Miss Corny. “The likeness, especially in the eyes, is — Where are you going, madame?”

They were passing a spectacle shop, and Madame Vine had halted at the door, one foot on its step. “I must have my glasses to be mended, if you please.”

Miss Carlyle followed her in. She pointed out what she wanted done to the old glasses, and said she would buy a pair of new ones to wear while the job was about. The man had no blue ones, no green; plenty of white. One ugly, old pair of green things he had, with tortoise-shell rims, left by some stranger, ages and ages ago, to be mended, and never called for again. This very pair of ugly old green things was chosen by Lady Isabel. She put them on, there and then, Miss Carlyle’s eyes searching her face inquisitively all the time.

“Why do you wear glasses?” began Miss Corny, abruptly as soon as they were indoors.

Another deep flush, and an imperceptible hesitation.

“My eyes are not strong.”

“They look as strong as eyes can look. But why wear colored glasses? White ones would answer every purpose, I should suppose.”

“I am accustomed to colored ones. I should not like white ones now.”

Miss Corny paused.

“What is your Christian name, madame?” began she, again.

“Jane,” replied madame, popping out an unflinching story in her alarm.

“Here! Here! What’s up? What’s this?”

It was a crowd in the street, and rather a noisy one. Miss Corny flew to the window, Lady Isabel in her wake. Two crowds, it may almost be said; for, from the opposite way, the scarlet-and-purple party — as Mr. Carlyle’s was called, in allusion to his colors — came in view. Quite a collection of gentlemen — Mr. Carlyle and Lord Mount Severn heading them.

What could it mean, the mob they were encountering? The yellow party, doubtless, but in a disreputable condition. Who or what was that object in advance of it, supported between Drake and the lawyer, and looking like a drowned rat, hair hanging, legs tottering, cheeks shaking, and clothes in tatters, while the mob, behind, had swollen to the length of the street, and was keeping up a perpetual fire of derisive shouts, groans, and hisses. The scarlet-and-purple halted in consternation, and Lord Mount Severn, whose sight was not as good as it had been twenty years back, stuck his pendent eye glasses astride on the bridge of his nose.

Sir Francis Levison? Could it be? Yes, it actually was! What on earth had put him into that state? Mr. Carlyle’s lip curled; he continued his way and drew the peer with him.

“What the deuce is a-gate now?” called out the followers of Mr. Carlyle. “That’s Levison! Has he been in a railway smash, and got drenched by the engine?”

“He has been ducked!” grinned the yellows, in answer. “They have been and ducked him in the rush pool on Mr. Justice Hare’s land.”

The soaked and miserable man increased his speed as much as his cold and trembling legs would allow him; he would have borne on without legs at all, rather than remain under the enemy’s gaze. The enemy loftily continued their way, their heads in the air, and scorning further notice, all, save young Lord Vane. He hovered round the ranks of the unwashed, and looked vastly inclined to enter upon an Indian jig, on his own account.

“What a thundering ass I was to try it on at West Lynne!” was the enraged comment of the sufferer.

Miss Carlyle laid her hand upon the shrinking arm of her pale companion.

“You see him — my brother Archibald?”

“I see him,” faltered Lady Isabel.

“And you see him, that pitiful outcast, who is too contemptible to live? Look at the two, and contrast them. Look well.”

“Yes!” was the gaping answer.

“The woman who called him, that noble man, husband, quitted him for the other! Did she come to repentance, think you?”

You may wonder that the submerged gentleman should be walking through the streets, on his way to his quarters, the Raven Inn — for he had been ejected from the Buck’s Head — but he could not help himself. As he was dripping and swearing on the brink of the pond, wondering how he should get to the Raven, an empty fly drove past, and Mr. Drake immediately stopped it; but when the driver saw that he was expected to convey not only a passenger, but a tolerable quantity of water as well, and that the passenger, moreover, was Sir Francis Levison, he refused the job. His fly was fresh lined with red velvet, and he “weren’t a going to have it spoilt,” he called out, as he whipped his horse and drove away, leaving the three in wrathful despair. Sir Francis wanted another conveyance procured; his friends urged that if he waited for that he might catch his death, and that the shortest way would be to hasten to the inn on foot. He objected. But his jaws were chattering, his limbs were quaking, so they seized him between them, and made off, but never bargained for the meeting of Mr. Carlyle and his party. Francis Levison would have stopped in the pond, of his own accord, head downward, rather than faced them.

Miss Carlyle went that day to dine at East Lynne, walking back with Mrs. Carlyle, Madame Vine and Lucy. Lord Vane found them out, and returned at the same time; of course East Lynne was the headquarters of himself and his father. He was in the seventh heaven, and had been ever since the encounter with the yellows.

“You’d have gone into laughing convulsions, Lucy had you seen the drowned cur. I’d give all my tin for six months to come to have a photograph of him as he looked then!”

Lucy laughed in glee; she was unconscious, poor child, how deeply the “drowned cur” had injured her.

When Miss Carlyle was in her dressing-room taking her things off — the room where once had slept Richard Hare — she rang for Joyce. These two rooms were still kept for Miss Carlyle — for she did sometimes visit them for a few days — and were distinguished by her name —“Miss Carlyle’s rooms.”

“A fine row we have had in the town, Joyce, this afternoon.”

“I have heard of it, ma’am. Served him right, if they had let him drown! Bill White, Squire Pinner’s plowman, called in here and told us the news. He’d have burst with it, if he hadn’t, I expect; I never saw a chap so excited. Peter cried.”

“Cried?” echoed Miss Carlyle.

“Well, ma’am, you know he was very fond of Lady Isabel, was Peter, and somehow his feelings overcame him. He said he had not heard anything to please him so much for many a day; and with that he burst out crying, and gave Bill White half a crown out of his pocket. Bill White said it was he who held one leg when they soused him in. Afy saw it — if you’ll excuse me mentioning her name to you, ma’am, for I know you don’t think well of her — and when she got in here, she fell into hysterics.”

“How did she see it?” snapped Miss Carlyle, her equanimity upset by the sound of the name. “I didn’t see her, and I was present.”

“She was coming here with a message from Mrs. Latimer to the governess.”

“What did she go into hysterics for?” again snapped Miss Carlyle.

“It upset her so, she said,” returned Joyce.

“It wouldn’t have done her harm had they ducked her too,” was the angry response.

Joyce was silent. To contradict Miss Corny brought triumph to nobody. And she was conscious, in her innermost heart, that Afy merited a little wholesome correction, not perhaps to the extent of a ducking.

“Joyce,” resumed Miss Carlyle, abruptly changing the subject, “who does the governess put you in mind of?”

“Ma’am?” repeated Joyce, in some surprise, as it appeared. “The governess? Do you mean Madame Vine?”

“Do I mean you, or do I mean me? Are we governesses?” irascibly cried Miss Corny. “Who should I mean, but Madame Vine?”

She turned herself round from the looking-glass, and gazed full in Joyce’s face, waiting for the answer. Joyce lowered her voice as she gave it.

“There are times when she puts me in mind of my late lady both in her face and manner. But I have never said so, ma’am; for you know Lady Isabel’s name must be an interdicted one in this house.”

“Have you seen her without her glasses?”

“No; never,” said Joyce.

“I did today,” returned Miss Carlyle. “And I can tell you, Joyce, that I was confounded at the likeness. It is an extraordinary likeness. One would think it was a ghost of Lady Isabel Vane come into the world again.”

That evening after dinner, Miss Carlyle and Lord Mount Severn sat side by side on the same sofa, coffee cups in hand. Miss Carlyle turned to the earl.

“Was it a positively ascertained fact that Lady Isabel died?”

The earl stared with all his might; he thought it the strangest question that ever was asked him. “I scarcely understand you, Miss Carlyle. Died? Certainly she died.”

“When the result of the accident was communicated to you, you made inquiry yourself into its truth, its details, I believe?”

“It was my duty to do so. There was no one else to undertake it.”

“Did you ascertain positively, beyond all doubt, that she did die?”

“Of a surety I did. She died in the course of the same night. Terribly injured she was.”

A pause. Miss Carlyle was ruminating. But she returned to the charge, as if difficult to be convinced.

“You deem that there could be no possibility of an error? You are sure that she is dead?”

“I am as sure that she is dead as that we are living,” decisively replied the earl: and he spoke but according to his belief. “Wherefore should you be inquiring this?”

“A thought came over me — only today — to wonder whether she was really dead.”

“Had any error occurred at that time, any false report of her death, I should soon have found it out by her drawing the annuity I settled upon her. It has never been drawn since. Besides, she would have written to me, as agreed upon. No, poor thing, she is gone beyond all doubt, and has taken her sins with her.”

Convincing proofs; and Miss Carlyle lent her ear to them.

The following morning while Madame Vine was at breakfast, Mr. Carlyle entered.

“Do you admit intruders here Madame Vine?” cried he, with his sweet smile, and attractive manner.

She arose; her face burning, her heart throbbing.

“Keep your seat, pray; I have but a moment to stay,” said Mr. Carlyle. “I have come to ask you how William seems?”

“There was no difference,” she murmured, and then she took courage and spoke more openly. “I understood you to say the other night, sir, that he should have further advice.”

“Ay; I wish him to go over to Lynneborough, to Dr. Martin; the drive, I think, will do him good,” replied Mr. Carlyle. “And I would like you to accompany him, if you do not mind the trouble. You can have the pony carriage, it will be better to go in that than boxed up in the railway carriage. You can remind Dr. Martin that the child’s constitution is precisely what his mother’s was,” continued Mr. Carlyle, a tinge lightening his face. “It may be a guide to his treatment; he said himself it was, when he attended him for an illness a year or two ago.”

“Yes, sir.”

He crossed the hall on his entrance to the breakfast-room. She tore upstairs to her chamber, and sank down in an agony of tears and despair. Oh, to love him as she did now! To yearn after his affection with this passionate, jealous longing, and to know that they were separated for ever and ever; that she was worse to him than nothing!

Softly, my lady. This is not bearing your cross.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01