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Full text of "All in the dark"

ALL IN THE DARK 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 



GUY DEVERELL 
ALL IN THE DARK 
THE WYVERN MYSTERY 
THE COCK AND ANCHOR 
WYLDER'S HAND 
THE WATCHER 
CHECKMATE 

THE ROSE AND THE KEY 
TENANTS OF MALORY 
WILLING TO DIE 
GOLDEN FRIARS 
THE EVIL GUEST 
TORLOGH O'BRIEN 



ALL IN THE 
DARK 




638658 

16.7 





ALL IN THE DARK. 

CHAPTER I. 

GILROYD HALL AND ITS MISTRESS. 

[EAR the ancient and pretty village of Saxton, 
with its gabled side to the road, stands an 
old red-brick house of moderate dimensions, 
called Gilroyd Hall, with some tall elms of very old 
date about it ; and an ancient, brick walled garden, 
overtopping the road with standard fruit-trees, that have 
quite outgrown the common stature of such timber, and 
have acquired a sylvan and venerable appearance. 

Here dwelt my aunt, an old maid, Miss Dinah Perfect 
by name ; and here my Cousin William Maubray, the 
nephew whom she had in effect adopted, used to spend 
his holidays. 

I shall have a good deal to say of her by-and-by, 
though my story chiefly concerns William Maubray, who 
was an orphan, and very nearly absolutely dependent 
upon the kindness of his aunt. Her love was true, but 
crossed and ruffled now and then by temper and caprice. 
Not an ill temper was hers, but whimsical and despotic, 
and excited oftenest upon the absurdities which she liked 
Utting into her active and perverse little head, which 



3 411 in the Dark. 

must have been the proper nidus of all odd fancies, they 
so prospered and multiplied there. 

On the whole, Gilroyd Hall and the village of Sax I on 
were rather slow quarters for the holidays. Besides his 
aunt, William had but one companion under that steep 
and hospitable roof. This was little Violet Dark well, a 
child of about eleven years, when he had attained to 
the matured importance of seventeen, and was in the 
first eleven at Rugby, had his cap, and was, in fact, a 
person with a career to look back upon, and who had 
long left childish things behind him. 

This little girl was in some roundabout way, which, 
as a lazy man, I had rather take for granted than investi- 
gate a kinswoman ; and Miss Dinah Perfect had made 
her in some sort her property, and had her at least eight 
months out of the twelve down at Gilroyd Hall. Little 
Violet was lonely at home an only daughter, with a 
lather working sternly at the bar, not every day seen by 
her, and who seemed like a visitor in his own house- 
hurried, reserved, unobtrusive, and a little awful. 

To the slim, prettily-formed little girl, with the large 
dark eyes, brown hair and delicate bright tints, the 
country was delightful the air, the flowers, the liberty ; 
and old Aunt Dinah, though with a will and a temper, 
still so much kindlier and pleasanter than Miss Placey, 
her governess, in town ; and good old Winnie Dobbs was 
so cosy and good-natured. 

To this little maid, in her pleasant solitude, the arrival 
of William Maubray for the holidays was an event full of 
interest and even of excitement. Shy as he was, and 
much in awe of all young lady-kind, she was far too 
young to be in his way. Her sparkling fuss and silvery 
prattle were even pleasant to him. There was life and 
something of comicality in her interruptions and un- 



Gilroyd Hall and its Mistress. 3 

reasonableness. She made him visit her kittens and kiss 
them all round, and learn and recite their names ; whistle 
after tea for her bullfinch, dig in her garden, mend and 
even nurse her doll, and perform many such tasks, quite 
beneath his dignity as a " swell " at Rugby, which, how- 
ever, the gentle fellow did very merrily and industriously 
for the imperious little woman, with scant thanks, but 
some liking for his guerdon. 

So, in his fancy, she grew to be mixed up with the 
pleasant influences of Gilroyd Hall, with the flowers and 
the birds, with the freaks of the little dog Pixie, with the 
stories he read there, and with his kindly welcomes and 
good-byes. 

Sitting, after breakfast, deep in his novel in the 
"study," with his white flannel cricket trousers on, for 
he was to play against Winderbroke for the town of 
Saxton that day, he received a smart tweak by the hair, 
at the back of his head, and, looking round, saw little 
Vi, perched on the rung of his old-fashioned chair, and 
dimly recollected having received several gentler tweaks 
in succession, without evincing the due attention. 

"Pert little Vi ! what's all this?" said the stalwart 
Rugby boy, turning round with a little shake of his head, 
and his sweet smile, and leaning on his elbow. The 
sunny landscape from the window, which was clustered 
round with roses, and a slanting sunbeam that just 
touched her hair, helped to make the picture very pretty. 

" Great, big, old bear ! you never listen to one word I 
say." 

" Don't you call names, Miss," said Aunt Dinah, who 
had just glided into the room. 

" What was little silver-hair saying ? What does she 
want?" he replied, laughing at the child's indignation, 
and pursuing the nomenclature of Southey's pleasant 



4 All in the Dark. 

little nursery tale. "Golden-hair, I must call you, 
though," he said, looking on her sun-lit head ; " and not 
quite golden either ; it is brown, and very pretty brown, 
too Who called you Violet ? " He was holding the tip 
of her pretty chin between his fingers, and looking in 
her large deep eyes. " Who called you Violet ? " 

"How should I know, Willie?" she replied, disengaging 
her chin with a little toss. 

" Why, your poor mamma called you Violet. I told 
you so fifty times," said Aunt Dinah sharply. 

" You said it was my godfathers and godmothers in my 
baptism, grannie ! " said Miss Vi, not really meaning to 
be pert. 

" Don't answer me, Miss that's of course, your cate- 
chism we're speaking of your poor mamma. 'Twas 
her mamma who called her Violet. What about it ? " 

"Nothing," answered William, gently looking up at 
his aunt, " only it is such a pretty name ;" and glancing 
again at the child, " it goes so well with her eyes. She is 
a jolly little creature." 

"She has some good features, I suppose, like every 
other child, and you should not try to turn her head. 
Nothing extraordinary. There's vanity enough in the 
world, and I insist, William, you don't try to spoil her." 

"And what do you want of me, little woman ? " asked 
William. 

" You come out and sow my lupins for me." 

" Why, foolish little woman, it isn't the season ; they 
would not grow." 

" Yes, they would though you say that just oecaus<s 
you don't like ; you story ! " 

"Viokt!" exclaimed Aunt Dinah, tapping the table 
with the seal end of her silver pencil-case. 

" Well, but he is, grannie, very disobliging. You do 



Gilroyd Hall and its Mistress. 5 

nothing now but read your tiresome old books, and 
never do anything I bid you." 

"Really! Well, that's very bad; I really must do 
better," said William, getting up with a smile ; " I will 
sow the lupins." 

"What folly /" murmured Aunt Dinah, grimly. 

" We'll get the hoe and trowel. But what's to be 
done ? I forgot I'm to play for the town to-day ; and I 
don't think I have time no, certainly no time to-day 
for the lupins ; " and William shook his head, smiling dis- 
consolately. 

" Then I'll never ask you to do anything for me again 
as long as I live never never never ! " she vowed 
with a tiny stamp. 

" Yes you shall you shall, indeed, and I'll do ever so 
much j and may she come and look at the cricket ? " 

So, leave granted, she did, under old Winnie's care ; 
and when she returned, and for days after, she boasted of 
Willie's long score, and how he caught the ball. 

When he returned at the end of next " half" he found 
old Miss Dinah Perfect with her spectacles on, in her 
comfortable old drawing-room, in the cheer of a Christ- 
mas fire, with her head full of the fancies and terrors of 
a certain American tome, now laid with its face down- 
wards upon the table as she jumped up full of glee and 
affection, to greet him at the threshold. 

It was about this period, as we all remember, that hats 
began to turn and heads with them, and tables approved 
themselves the most intelligent of quadrupeds ; chests of 
drawers and other grave pieces of furniture babbled of 
family secrets, and houses resounded with those creaks 
and O'acks with which Bacon, Shakespeare, and Lord 
Byron communicated their several inspirations in detest- 
able grammar, to all who pleased to consult them. 



6 All in the Dark. 

Aunt Dinah was charmed. Her rapid genius loved a 
short-cut, and here was, by something better than a post- 
office, a direct gossiping intimacy opened between her 
and the people on t'other side of the Styx. 

She ran into this as into her other whimsies might and 
main, with all her heart and soul. She spent money 
very wildly, for her, upon the gospels of the new religion, 
with which the transatlantic press was teeming ; and in 
her little green-papered dressing-room was accumulating 
a library upon her favourite craze, which might have 
grown to the dimensions of Don Quixote's. 

She had been practising for a year, however, and all 
the minor tables in her house had repeatedly prophesied 
before she disclosed her conversion to her nephew, or to 
anyone else except old Winnie. 

It was no particular business of his if his aunt chose to 
converse with ghosts and angels by the mediation of her 
furniture. So, except that he now and then assisted at a 
seance, the phenomena of which were not very clear to 
him, though perfectly so to his aunt, and acquiesced in 
dimly and submissively by good old Winnie, things went 
on in their old course ; and so, for some three or four 
years more, during which William Maubray read a great 
deal of all sorts of lore, and acquired an erudite smatter- 
ing of old English authors, dramatists, divines, poets, 
and essayists, and time was tracing fine wrinkles about 
Aunt Dinah's kind eyes and candid forehead, and adding 
graceful inches to the lithe figure of Violet Darkwell ; 
and the great law of decay and renewal was asserting 
itself everywhere, and snows shrouding the dead world 
in winter, and summer fragrance, and glow of many 
hues in the gardens and fields succeeding, and births 
and deaths in all the newspapers every morning, 




CHAPTER IL 

A LETTER. 

HE following letter, posted at Saxton, reached a 
rather solitary student in St. John's College. 
Cambridge. 

" DEAR WILLIAM, 

" You will be sorry I know you will to hear 
that poor old auntie is not long for this world ; I don't 
know exactly what is wrong, but something I am certain 
very bad. As for Doctor Drake, I have no faith in him, 
or, indeed, in medicine, and don't mean to trouble him 
except as a friend. I am quite happy in the expecta- 
tion of the coming change, and have had within the last 
week, with the assistance of good old Winnie Dobbs, some 
very delightful communications y you know, I dare say, 
what I mean. Bring with you for you must come im- 
mediately, if you care to see poor Aunt Dinah before she 
departs a basket-bottle of eau de Cologne, like the 
former, you know the kind I mean, and buy it at the 
same place. You need not get the cameo ring for 
Doctor Drake ; I shan't make him a present in fact, we 
are not now on terms. I had heard from many people 
of his incivility and want of temper ; God forgive him 
his ingratitude, however, as I do. The basket-bottle 



8 Attin the Dark. 

bolds about a pint, remember. I want to tell you 
exactly what I can do for you by my will ; I always told 
you, dear William, it was very small; still, as the people 
used to say, ' every little makes a muckle,' and though 
little, it will be a help. I cannot rest till you come ; I 
know and am sure you love poor old auntie, and would 
like to close her eyes when the hour comes ; therefore, 
dear Willie, come without delay. Also bring with you 
half a pound of the snuff, the same mixture as before ; 
they make it up at Figgs's get it there not in paper, 
observe ; in a canister, and rolled in lead, as will be poor 
aititie before long ! Old Dobbs will have your room and 
bed comfortable, as usual ; come by the cross coach, at 
eight o'clock. Tea, and anything else you like, will 
await you. 

" Ever your fond old 

" AUNTIE. 

"P.S. I send you, to guard against mistakes, the 
exact proportions of the mixture the snuff I mean, of 
course. I quite forgot a new collar for Psyche, plated. 
Make them engrave 'Mrs. Perfect, Gilroyd Hall,' upon 
it. Heaven bless you. We are all progressing upward. 
Amen ! says your poor old Aunt Dinah, who loves you." 

It was in his quiet college room by candlelight that 
William Maubray read this letter from his kind, wild, 
preposterous old aunt, who had been to him as a mother 
from his early days. 

Aunt Dinah ! was it possible that he was about lo lose 
that familiar friend and face, the only person on earth 
who cared about him ? 

He read the letter over agaiii. A person who did not 
fcnow Aunt Dinah so well as he, would have argued from 



A Letter. 9 

the commissions about scents, dog-collars, and snuff, that 
the old lady had no honest intention of dying. But he 
knew that incongruous and volatile soul too well to infer 
reliable consolation from those levities. 

"Yes, yes I shall lose her she's gone," said the 
young man in great distress, laying the letter, with the 
gentleness of despair, upon the table, and looking down 
upon it in pain and rumination. 

It would certainly make a change possibly a fatal one 
in his prospects. A sudden change. He read the 
letter through again, and then, with a sinking heart, he 
opened the window and looked out upon the moonlight 
prospect. There are times when in her sweetest moods 
nature seems unkind. Why all this smiling light this 
cheer and serenity of sky and earth when he was 
stricken only five minutes since, perhaps undone, by the 
message of that letter that sorrow-laden burlesque ? 

This sort of suggestion, in such a moment, comes des- 
pairingly. The vastness of creation the inflexibility of 
its laws, and " What is man, and what am I among men, 
that the great Projector of all this should look after 
ephemeral me and my concerns ? The human sympathy 
chat I could rely upon, and human power frail and 
fleeting but still enough is gone, and in this solitary 
hour, as in the coming one of death, experience fails me, 
and I must rest all upon that which, according to my 
light, is faith, or theory, or chance ! " 

With a great sigh, and a heavy heart, William Maubray 
turned away from the window, and a gush of very true 
affection flooded his heart as he thought of kind old Aunt 
Dinah. He read the letter once more, to make out what 
gleams of comfort he could. 

A handsome fellow was William Maubray nearly 
three-and-twenty by this time good at cricket grecit at 



io Alt in the Dark. 

football : three years ago, in the school days, now, so 
old, tall, and lithe. A studious man in his own way a 
little pale, with a broad forehead, good blue eyes, and 
delicately formed, but somewhat sad features. 

He looked round his room. He had grown very fond 
of that homely apartment His eyes wandered over his 
few shelves of beloved old books, in all manner of dingy 
and decayed bindings some of them two centuries and 
a half old, very few of later birth than a hundred years 
ago. Delightful companions ready at a moment's call 
ready to open their minds, and say their best sayings 
on any subject he might choose resenting no neglect, 
obtruding no counsel, always the same serene, cheerful 
inalienable friends. 

The idea of parting with them was insupportable, 
nearly. But if the break-up came, they must part com- 
pany, and the world be a new one for him. The young 
man spent much of that night in dismal reveries and 
speculations over his future schemes and chances, all of 
which I spare the reader. 

Good Dr. Sprague, whom he saw next day, heard the 
news with much concern. He had known Miss Perfect 
long ago, and was decorously sorry on her account. But 
his real regrets were for the young man. 

" Well, you go, of course, and see your aunt, and I do 
trust it mayn't be quite so bad. Stay, you know, as long 
as she wants you, and don't despond. I could wish your 
reading had been in a more available direction . but rely 
on it, you'll find a way to make a start and get into a 
profession, and with your abilities, I've no doubt you'll 
make your way in the world." 

And the doctor, who was a shrewd as well as a kindly 
little gentleman, having buttoned the last button of his 
gaiter, stood, cap in hand, erect, and smiling confidently, 



A Letter. \\ 

he shook his hand with a " God bless you, Maubray," 
and a few minutes later William Maubray, with all 
his commissions stowed away in his portmanteau, had 
commenced his journey to Gilroyd Hall. 

The moon was up, and the little town of Saxton very 
quiet, as Her Majesty's mail, dropping a bag at the post 
office, whirled through it, and pulled up at the further end, 
at the gate of Gilroyd Hall, there to drop our friend, an 
outside passenger. 

The tall, florid iron gate was already locked. William 
tugged at the bell, and drew back a little to reconnoitre 
the premises. One of the old brick gables overhangs the 
road, with only a couple of windows high up, and he saw 
that his summons had put a light in motion within them. 
So he rejoined his hat-case, and his portmanteau, await- 
ing him on its end, in front of the white iron gate that 
looked like lace-work in the moonlight. 

" Ha ! Tom ; glad to see you." 

" Welcome, Mr. William, Sir ; she a wearyin' to see ye, 
and scarce thought you'd a come to-night." 

The wicket beside the great gate was now open, and 
William shook hands with the old retainer, and glancing 
anxiously up at the stone-faced windows, as it were to 
read the countenance of the old house, he asked, " And 
how is she, Tom, to-night ? " 

" Complainin' an' down-hearted a bit for her, that is 
now and again. She cried a good bout to-day wi' old 
Winnie, in the little parlour." 

" She's up, then?" 

" Ooh, ay ; she's not a body to lay down while she's a 
leg to stan' on. But I do think she's nigh her endin'. 
Gie't to me," this referred to the portmanteau. " I do, 
poor old girl ; and we's all be sorry, Master Willie." 

William's heart sank. 



if All in the Dark. 

" Where is she ? " he inquired. 

" In the drawing-room, I think." 

By this time they were standing in the oak-paneiied 
hall, and some one looked over the banister from the 
lobby, upon them. It was old Winnie ; the light of her 
candle was shining pleasantly on her ruddy and kindly 
face. 

"Oh! Master Willie. Thank God, you're come at 
last Glad she'll be to see you." 

Old Winnie ambled down the stairs with the corner of 
her apron to her eye, and shook him by both hands, and 
greeted him again very kindly, and ever Kissed him ac- 
cording to the tradition of a score of years. 

" Is she very ill, Dobbs ? " whispered he, looking pale. 

" Well, not to say very to look at, you'd say, but she's 
had a warnin', her and me sittin' in the bed-room, an' 
she's bin an' made a new will ; the lawyer's bin up from 
Saxton. Don't ye say I said nothing, mind ; 'twould only 
fret hsr, maybe." 





CHAPTER III. 

MISS DINAH PERFECT AND HER GUESTS. 

JS she alone ? " he asked, postponing the try- 
ing moment of seeing her. 

"No, the doctor's with her still Dr. 
Drake, and Miss Letty, his sister, you remember ; they're 
drinkin' a cup o' tea, and some crumpets, and they'll all 
be right glad you're come." 

" They ought to go away, don't you think ? " mildly 
suggested William Maubray, a good deal shocked. 
"However, let me get to my room for two or three 
minutes, and I shall be ready then." 

They passed the drawing-room door, and Miss Letty 
Drake's deliberate tones were audible from within. When 
Ae had got to his room he asked Dobbs 

"What was the warning you spoke of? " 

" Well, dear me ! It was the table ; she and me, she 
makes me sit before her, poor thing, and we well, there 
is cracks, sure, on and off! And she puts this an' that 
together ; and so one way or other it puzzles my poor 
head, how she does make out a deal." 

William Maubray was an odd, rather solitary young 
man, and more given to reading and thinking than is 
usual at his years, and he detested these incantations to 
which his aunt, Miss Perfect, had addicted herself, of 



14 All in tht Dark. 

late years, with her usual capricious impetuosity ; and he 
was very uncomfortable on hearing that she was occupy- 
ing her last days with these questionable divinations. 

When, in a few minutes, William ran down to the 
drawing-room, and with a chill of anticipation opened 
the door of that comfortable rather than imposing cham- 
ber, the tall slim figure of his aunt rose up from her arm- 
chair beside the fire, for though it was early autumn, the 
fire was pleasant, and the night-air was frosty, and with 
light and wiry tread, stepped across the carpet to meet 
him. Her kind, energetic face was pale, and the smile 
she used to greet him with was nowhere, and she was 
arrayed from head to foot in deep mourning, in which, 
particularly as she abhorred the modern embellishment 
of crinoline, she looked more slim and tall even than she 
was. 

The presence of her guests in nowise affected the 
greeting of the aunt and nephew, which was very affec- 
tionate, and even agitated, though silent. 

" Good Willie, to come so quickly I knew you would.' 1 
Miss Perfect never wept, but she was very near tears at 
that moment, and there was a little silence, during which 
she held his hands, and then recollecting herself, dropt 
them, and continued more like herself. 

"You did not expect to see me up and here; every- 
thing happens oddly with me. Here I am, you see, ap- 
parently, I dare say, much as usual. By half-past twelve 
o'clock to-morrow night I shall be dead ! There, don't 
mind now I'll tell you all by-and-bye. This is my friend, 
Miss Drake, you know her." 

They shook hands, Miss Drake smiling as brisk a 
smile as in a scene so awful she could hazard. 

" And this, my kind friend Dr. Drake." 

William had occasionally seen Dr. Drake in the streets 



Miss Dinah Perfect and Her Guests. 1 5 

of Saxton, and on the surrounding high roads at a dis- 
tance, but he had never before had the honour of an in- 
terview. 

The doctor was short and fat. a little bald, and rather 
dusty, and somehow, William enough t, resembled a jolly 
old sexton a good deal more than a physician. He rose 
up, with his hands in his trowsers pockets, and some snuff 
in the wrinkles of his black cloth waistcoat, and bowed, 
with raised eyebrows and pursed mouth, gravely to his 
plate of crumpet. 

William Maubray looked again on his aunt, who was 
adjusting her black draperies in her chair, and then once 
more at the doctor, whose little eye he caught for a 
second, with a curious and even cunning expression in it ; 
but it was averted with a sudden accession of melancholy 
once more and William asked 

"I hope, Sir, there is nothing very imminent?" 

The doctor cleared his voice, uneasily, and Aunt Dinah 
interposed with a nod, a little dryly 

" It is not quite in his department." 

And whose department is it in ? the student thought. 

" I dare say Doctor Drake would tell you I'm very well 
so, perhaps, in a sense, I am ; but Doctor Drake has 
kindly come here as a friend." 

Doctor Drake bowed, looking steadfastly into his cup. 

" As a friend, dear Willie, just as you have come an 
old friend." Miss Perfect spoke low, with a little tremor 
in her voice, and was, I believe, near crying, but braced 
her resolution. William drew near gently and sat down 
beside her, and placing her hand upon his, she proceeded. 

" My dear friend Miss Drake, there, does not agree 
with me, I'm aware; but Doctor Drake who has read 
more, and perhaps, thought more, thinks otherwise at 
least, so I'm led to suppose." 



16 AH mthe Dark. 

The doctor coughed a little ; Miss Drake raised her 
long chin, and with raised eyebrows, looked down on her 
fmger tips which were drumming on the table, and my 
Cousin William glanced from one to the other, not quite 
understanding her drift. 

"But," she continued, "I've apprised them already, 
and I tell you of course ; it is you'll remember the name 
an intimation from Henbane." 

" Poison ! " said William, under his breath, with a look 
of pale inquiry at Doctor Drake, who at the moment was 
swallowing his tea very fast, and was seized on a sudden 
with an explosion of coughing, sneezing, and strangling, 
which compelled him to jump to his feet, and stagger 
about the room with his face in his pocket-handkerchief 
and his back to the tea-table. 

" When Dr. Henbane," said my aunt with severity, " I 
mean a Doctor Drake has quite done coughing, I'll 
go on." 

There was a little pause. 

" Confound it," thought William, who was half beside 
himself, " it's a very odd dying scene ! " 

The doctor, blowing his nose, returned very red and 
solemn, and explained, still coughing at intervals, that it 
was a little tea in the trachea ; it invariably occurred to 
him when he drank tea in the evening ; he must give it 
up ; "you know, Letty." 

Miss Drake did not deign to assist him. 

" She does not seem to know so much about it as you 
do," observed Aunt Dinah with an irony. 

" Owing to my not thinking so much," replied Miss 
Letty, sarcastically. 

"Henbane?" murmured William again, in a puzzled 
horror. 

" H'm ! yes ! Henbane ? you seem to have forgotten ; 



Miss Dinah Perfect and Her Guests. i 7 

one of those one of the spirits who have attached them* 
selves to me," and Aunt Dinah shot a quick glance at 
the doctor, who, though looking again at his crumpet, 
seemed to cower awfully under it. 

" Oh ay Henbane ? " exclaimed William in a tone 
of familiarity, which indicated anything but respect for 
that supernatural acquaintance. " Henbane, to be sure" 

And he looked on his aunt with a half amused recogni- 
tion, which seemed to say, " Well and what about that 
humbug ? " 

But Aunt Dinah said decisively 

"So much for the present; you shall hear more 
everything, by-and-by." 

And there followed a silence. 

" Did you remember the snuff, dear William ? " in- 
quired the doomed lady, with rather an abrupt transition. 

" Certainly ; shall I fetch it?" said William, half rising. 

Miss Perfect nodded, and away he went, somehow 
vastly relieved, and with his bed-room candle in his hand, 
mounted the oak stairs, which were broad and handsome 
in proportion to the other dimensions of that snug old 
house. 




CHAPTER IV. 

VIOLET DARKWELL. 

|T the head of the stairs, the topmost step of 
which had been their bench, there rose to him 
two female figures. He did not instantly re- 
cognise them, for one candle only was burning, and it 
was on the little table nearly behind them. One was old 
Winnie Dobbs, the other Violet Darkwell ; she stood up 
slight and girlish still, but looking taller than he had ex- 
pected, with an old faded silk quilted shawl of Aunt 
Dinah's about her shoulders, and hood-wise over her 
head, for the night was frosty. 

" Ha ! Vi little Vi, I was going to say ; dear me 1 
how you have grown ! So glad to see you." 

He had the girl's slim hand in his, and was speaking as 
he felt, very kindly. 

" We've been waiting here, Winnie and I, to hear what 
you thought of dear grannie," (grannie was merely a 
pet name in this case, denning no relationship) " and 
what do you think, William ? " 

" I really don't understand it," he answered. " I I 
hope it's all nonsense ; I really think so. She says she 
is very well ; and the doctor Drake, you know I really 
think he was laughing, and one thing I'm quite certain of 
it is connected in her mind with that foolish spirit- 
rapping." 



Violet DarkivelL 19 

"And you don't believe in it?" inquired the young 
lady. 

"All bosh and nonsense. Not a bit of it," he re- 
plied. 

" Oh, William, I am so delighted to hear you say so ! * 
the exclaimed, much relieved by the promulgation of so 
valuable an opinion. " And you're quite right, I know, 
about grannie. It is, really is not it, Winnie ? all, all 
about that awful spirit-rapping. Grannie never speaks of 
it to me ; I believe she's afraid of frightening me ; but 
old Winnie, here you must not tell of her she tells me 
all about it everything ; and I am so afraid of it ; and 
it is entirely that. Grannie thinks she has got a message ! 
fancy ! How awful ! And Winnie does not know what 
the words were ; for grannie writes down the letters with 
a pencil, and tells her only what she thinks fit ; and I am 
so delighted you can't think." 

" You good little Vi, I'm so glad to see you ! " She 
laughed a low little laugh the first for several days as 
he shook her hand again ; and he said 

Winnie, do, like a dear old thing, open my pormanteau 
here's the key and fetch me a canister you'll see at 
the top, with a great paper label, blue and red, on it." 

Away went Winnie Dobbs, with his key and candle, 
and he said to the pretty girl who stood leaning lightly 
against the banister 

" My old friend, Vi ! When I went into the drawing- 
room just now, I looked all round for you, and could not 
think what had become of you, and was really afraid you 
had gone away to London. I don't think I should ever 
care to come to Gilroyd Hall again ; I should prefer see- 
ing my aunt anywhere else it would not be like itself if 
you were gone." 

" So you really missed me, William ! " she laughed 



ao All in the Dark. 

" I should think so. And another thing you are not 
to call me William. Why don't you call me Willie, or old 
bear, as you used to do ? If you change old names, I'll 
begin and call you Miss Darkwell." 

"How awful!" 

" Indeed I will, and be as formal as you please, and 
treat you like a young lady, and you'll never be ' wicked 
little Vi ' any more." 

She was laughing as she leaned back, and he could see 
her small teeth, and he bethought him that she was 
looking really quite lovely ; so with two fingers he picked 
up her little hand again, as it lay at her side, and he 
said 

" And we are always to be good friends, you know 
great friends ; and although you've no more dolls to mend, 
I'll still be of use. I'm going to the bar, and I'll manage 
all your law suits, if you let me ; and when you are going 
to be married, I'll draw your settlements, and you are to 
have me always for your counsel." 

She was still smiling, but said nothing, and looked 
wonderfully pretty, with the old gray silk hood wrapped all 
about her, so that sober old William was on the very point 
of kissing the slender hand he held in his. But a new 
feeling of shyness prevented, and he only shook her hand 
gently once more, and laid it by her side again, as you 
replace some precious thing you have been admiring 
where you found it. 

" And you really think we may be happy about dear old 
grannie again ? " she said. 

The sound of Winnie's footsteps was heard approaching. 

" Yes ; certainly. I'll try to get a word with Doctor 
Drake. I can't imagine anything serious. Won't you 
comt to the drawing-room now? " 

" No j not to-night ; not while those people are there. 



Violet Darkwett. 21 

I was so wretched about dear grannie, I could not bear 
to go in at first ; and now it would be odd, I think, going 
down when tea is over." 

" As if I had brought you down from the nursery, as I 
often did, Vi, on my back. Well, old Winnie, have you 
got it ? " 

" Here, I think, Master William," answered Winnie. 

" Yes ; all right. So you won't come, Vi ? " 

* No." 

" Quite made up your mind ? " 

" Quite, Willie." 

" That's right Willie? said he, with a smile, and a 
nod of approbation. " I should so like to stay here a 
little longer, as you won't come, and hear all the news, 
and tell you mine ; but Aunt Dinah would lose patience 
I'm afraid she has" 

"Yes, indeed; you had better go. Good-night, bear." 

" Good-night, wicked little Vi. Remember we meet 
at breakfast shan't we ? " 

"Oh, certainly. Good-night." 

" Good-night." 

And so the gray silk hood vanished, with a smile, 
prettily, round the corner, and William Maubray de- 
scended with his snuff to the drawing-room, with the 
pretty oval portrait of that young face still hovering before 
him in the air. 

Miss Letty Drake, whose countenance was unplea- 
santly long in proportion to her height, and pallid, and 
her small figure bony, and who was dressed on this sad 
occasion in her silk " half-mourning," a sad and, it was 
thought, a dyed garment, which had done duty during 
many periods of affliction, as William entered the room, 
was concluding a sentence with a low and pointed 
asperity, thus " which seems to me hardly compatible 



*2 All in the Dark. 

with Saint Paul's description of Christian charity," and a 
short silence followed these words. 

"I was going to ring the bell, William," said the 
doomed lady of the house. " One would have thought 
you were making that snuff. Let me see it h'm. See, 
get off this cover. Ho ! what is this ? A lead wrap- 
per ! " 

" You said, Aunt Dinah, you wished it." 

" Did I ? Well, no matter. Get it open. Thanks. 
Yes; that's it. Yes; very good. You take snuff, 
doctor, don't you ? " 

"Aw yes, certainly, nothing like it, I do believe where 
a man is obliged to work his head aw haw a stimulus 
and a sedative." 

The doctor, it was averred, " worked " his occasionally 
with brandy and water, and not a great deal otherwise. 

" No, many thanks ; don't care for perfumes ; high 
toast is my snuff." And Doctor Drake illustrated the fact 
by a huge pinch, which shed another brown shower over 
the wrinkles of his waistcoat 

" Letty, dear," said Aunt Dinah, turning suddenly to 
Miss Drake, " we won't quarrel ; we can't agree, but I 
won't quarrel." 

" Well, dear, I'm glad to hear you say so. I'm sure, 
for my part, I never quarrel. * Be ye angry, and let not 
the sun go down on your wrath.' w 




CHAPTER V. 

AUNT DINAH IS IN THE HORRORS, AND DOCTOR DRAK1 
PUTS HIS NIGHTCAP IN HIS POCKET. 

WISH to say good-bye to you very kindly," 
said Aunt Dinah, quite sadly and gently, 
and somehow not like herself, " and and 
I've tried to keep up ; I know it must happen, and I'm 
sure it is for the best, but " 

" I hope and expect, my dear Dinah," interposed Miss 
Letty, sharply she was pulling on her worsted " wrists " 
" to see you in the enjoyment of many years of your 
accustomed health and spirits, and I have no doubt, 
humanly speaking, that I shall." 

Miss Letty was quiet and peremptory, but also a little 
excited. And the doctor, for want of something better to 
do, cleared his voice, in a grand abstraction, and wound 
up his watch slowly, and held it to his ear, nobody knew 
exactly why. 

" You won't believe me, but I know it, and so will you 
too late ; to-morrow night at twelve o'clock I shall be 
dead. I've tried to keep up I have ; I've tried it ; but 
oh ! Ho, ho, hoo, ooh," and poor Aunt Dinah quite 
broke down, and cried and hooted hysterically. 

Dr. Drake had now before him an intelligible case, 
and took the command accordingly with decision. Up 



24 All in the Dark. 

went the window ; cold water was there, and spirit of 
hartshorn. And when she had a little recovered, the 
doctor, who was a good-natured fellow, said 

" Now, Miss Perfect, Ma'am, it won't do, I tell you ; it's 
only right ; you may want some assistance ; and if, as an 
old friend, you'll allow me to return and remain here for 
the night, a sofa, or an arm-chair, anything, I'll be most 
happy, I do assure you." 

But Aunt Dinah, with many thanks, said, "No," 
peremptorily, and wilful man or woman, who will contend 
with? 

So, like the awful banquet in Macbeth, Miss Dinah 
Perfect's tea-party broke down and up, and the guests, 
somewat scared, got into their walking wrappers, rather 
silently, and their entertainer remained behind unstrung 
and melancholic. 

But William Maubray, who came down to assist in the 
rummage for cloaks and umbrellas, asked leave, in his 
blunt modest way, to accompany Miss Letty and her 
brother, the doctor, to Saxton. 

Now there seemed something real and grisly in Aunt 
Dinah's terror, which a little infected William Maubray ; 
and the little party marched in silence along the frost- 
hardened road, white in moonlight, with the bare switch- 
like shadows of the trees across it, on their way to the 
pretty old town of Saxton. 

At last the doctor said 

" She won't miss you, do you think ? " 

" She told me she'd like to be quiet for half an hour, 
and I should be so much obliged if you could tell me, 
whether you really, that is, still think that she ought to 
have a medical man in attendance to-night." 

" Why, you know what hysteria is. Well, she is in a 
highly hysterical state. She's a woman who resisfs ifc 



Aunt Dinah in the Horrors. 25 

would be safer, you see, if she gave way and cried a bit 
now and then, when nature prompts, but she won't, ex- 
cept under awful high pressure, and then it might be 
serious ; those things sometimes run oft' into fits." 

And so the doctor lectured William upon his aunt's 
nerves, until they had arrived at the door of his snug 
house in the High Street. 

Here they shook hands ; but William Maubray, who 
was unhappy about Aunt Dinah, after Miss Letty had 
mounted to her chamber, very urgently entreated the 
doctor to return and see how it might end. 

With a bottle of valerian, his slippers, and a nightcap in 
his pocket, Doctor Drake did consent to return, and be 
smuggled into Gilroyd Hall. 

11 1 don't know what to make of that spirit-rapping 
quite," said the doctor, as side by side they approached 
the Hall. " There's a quantity of books published on it 
very unaccountable if half what they say is true. I sup- 
pose you've read it all. You read a lot, Miss Perfect tells 
me." 

" I've read very little about it, except in the papers. 
She fancies she has had a message, telling her she is to 
die sometime to-morrow. I can't believe there's really 
anything more than self-deception ; but is there not a 
danger ? " 

" How ?" asked the doctor. 

" I mean, being so nervous as you suppose, and quite 
convinced that she is to die at a particular time ; might 
not her own mind you know Lord Lyttelton died in con- 
sequence of such a persuasion." 

William paused, Doctor Drake lowered, between his 
fingers, the cigar he was smoking, and they came to a 
halt, with a little wheel to the left, and the doctor, with 
his head aside, blowing the smoke up in a thin stream, 



*6 All in the Dark. 

looked with a thoughtful scrutiny up at the clear bright 
moon; perhaps a not unsuitable source of inspiration 
upon their crazy theme. 

" I forget which Lord Lyttelton tnat was," said the 
doctor, wisely. " Isn't it Lyttelton^ you say? But the 
thing is quite possible. There's a spirit you know she's 
always talking about. She calls him Henbane. Egad, 
Sir, I was devilish near laughing at tea when she named 
him so suddenly that time ; I'd have been up a tree if I 
had, you know. You did not see what she was at, but I 
did. That Henbane's her gospel, egad, and she thinks it 
was he who told her d'ye see ? Come along. She'll be 
wondering where you are." 

So on they went towards Gilroyd Hall, whose outline, 
black and sharp, against the luminous sky, was relieved 
at one point by the dull glow of candle-light through the 
red curtains of what William Maubray knew to be Aunt 
Dinah's bed-chamber window. 

"She is in her room, I think there's light in her 
window," said William. The doctor nodded, chucking 
his cigar stump far away, for he knew Aunt Dinah's anti- 
pathy to tobacco, and they were now on the door-step. 
He was thinking, if the case were to end tragically, what 
a capital paper he would make of it, beside the interest- 
ing letter he would send to the editor of the Spatula. 

" Winnie's bin a callin' over the stairs for you, Master 
Willie. Missis wants ye to her room," said Tom, who 
awaited them on the door-steps. 

" I'll sit by the fire in the study," whispered the doctor. 

"I don't mind sitting up a night now and then. 
Give me a cloak or something. There's a sofa, and I'll 
do very well." 

The principle of life was strong in Aunt Dinah, and 
three hours later that active-minded lady was lying wide 



Aunt Dinah in the Horrors. 2 7 

awake on her bed, with a variety of topics, not all con 
sisting with the assumed shortness of her hours, drifting 
in succession through her head. The last idea that 
struck her was the most congruous, and up she jumped, 
made a wild toilet, whose sole principle was warmth, tied 
a faded silk handkerchief over her nightcap, across her 
ears, and with her long white flannel dressing-gown 
about her, and a taper in her hand, issued, like the ap- 
parition of the Bleeding Nun, upon the gallery, and 
tapped sharply on William Maubray's door. 

"William, William!" she called as she tapped, and 
from within William answered drowsily to the summons. 

" Wait a moment," said the lady, and 

"In glided Margaret's grimly ghost, 
And stood at William's feet." 

" We must have a stance, my dear boy ; I'm going to 
wake up old Winnie. It certainly has a connexion with 
your arrival ; but anything like the cracking, knocking, 
and creaking of everything, I've never yet heard. I 
have no doubt so sure as you sit there " (William was 
sitting up in his bed with glazed eyes, and senses only 
half awake) " that your poor dear mother is here to- 
night. We're sure of Henbane; and just get your 
clothes on I'm going for "Winnie, and we meet in the 
study, mind, in five minutes." 

And Aunt Dinah, having lighted William's candle, 
disappeared, leaving him with a fund of cheerful ideas to 
make his yawning and bewildered toilet 




CHAPTER VI. 

IN WHICH THE WITCHES ASSEMBLE. 

FEW minutes later she glided into the study, 
overthrowing a small table, round which her 
little seances were accustomed to be made, and 
which the doctor had providently placed against the 
door. 

Aunt Dinah held under her arm the 8vo " Revelations 
of Elihu Bung, the Pennsylvanian Prophet," a contribu- 
tion to spiritual science which distanced all contemporary 
competition ; and the chapter which shows that a table 
of a light, smart build, after having served a proper ap- 
prenticeship to ' rapping,' may acquire the faculty of lo- 
comotion and self-direction, flashed on her recollection 
as she recognised prostrate at her feet, in the glimmer 
of her taper, the altar of their mysteries, which she had 
with reverent hands herself placed that evening in its 
wonted corner, at the opposite end of the room. 

Such a manifestation was new to her. She looked on 
it, a little paler than usual, and bethought her of that 
other terrible chapter in which Elihu Bung avers that 
spirits, grown intimate by a long familiarity, will, in a 
properly regulated twilight and her light at the moment 
was no more make themselves visible to those whom 
they habitually favour with their advices* 



In which the Witches Assemble. 29 

Therefore she was strangely thrilled at sight of the in- 
distinct and shadowy doctor, who, awakened by the 
noise, rose at the opposite end of the room from the 
sofa on which he had fallen asleep. Tall and thin, and 
quite unrecognisable by him, was the white figure at the 
door, with a taper elevated above its head, and which 
whispered with a horrid distinctness the word "Hen- 
bane ! " the first heard on his awakening, the last in his 
fancy as he dropped asleep, and which sounded to him 
like the apparition's considerate announcement of its 
name on entering the room \ he echoed " Henbane " in 
a suppressed diapason, and Aunt Dinah, with an awful 
ejaculation, repeated the word from the distance, and 
sank into a chair. 

" Henbane ! " cried the doctor briskly, having no other 
exclamation ready and reassured by these evidences of 
timidity in the spectre, he exclaimed, " Hey, by Jove ! 
what the plague ! " and for some seconds he did not know 
distinctly where he was. 

"Merciful goodness! Doctor Drake, why will you 
try to frighten people in this manner ? Do you want to 
&7/me, Sir?" 

" I ? Ho ! Ha, ha ! Ma'am," replied the learned gen- 
tleman, incoherently. 

"What are you doing here, Sir ? I think you're mad I " 
exclaimed Aunt Dinah, fiercely. 

The doctor cleared his voice, and addressed himself 
to explain, and before his first period was reached, 
William and old Winnie, wofully sleepy, had arrived. 

Luckily the person who approaches such oracles as 
" Henbane," it is well known, must do so with a peaceful 
and charitable soul. So Miss Perfect was appeasable, 
and apologies being made and accepted, she thus 
her mind to the doctor- 



30 All in the Dark. 

" I don't complain, Doctor Drake William, light the 
candles over the chimney-piece although you terrifietl 
me a great deal more than in my circumstances I ought 
to have been capable of." 

The candles were now lighted, and shone cheerfully 
upon the short, fat figure, and ruddy, roguish face cl 
Doctor Drake, and as he was taking one of his huge 
pinches of snuff, she added 

" And I won't deny that I did fancy for a moment 
you might be a spirit-form, and possibly that of Hen- 
bane." 

William Maubray, who was looking at the doctor, as 
Miss Perfect reverently lowered her voice at these words, 
exploded into something so like a laugh, though he tried 
to pass it off for a cough, that his aunt looked sharply on 
him in silence for a moment. 

"And I'm blowed but I was a bit frightened too, 
Ma'am, when I saw you at the door there," said the 
doctor. 

"Well, let us try," said Miss Perfect. "Come, we 
are four ; let us try who are present what spirits, 
and seek to communicate. You don't object, Dr. 
Drake ? " 

" I ? Ho ! oh ! dear no. I should not desire better 
aw-haw instruction. Ma'am," answered the doctor. 

I am afraid he was near saying " fun." 

" Winnie, place the table as usual. There, yes. Now 
let us arrange ourselves." 

The doctor sat down, still blinking, and with a great 
yawn inquired 

" Do we waw haw wa w want any particular in- 
formation ? " 

" Let us first try whether they will communicate. We 
always want information," said Miss Perfect. " William, 



In which the Witches Assemble. 31 

sit you there ; Winnie, there. I'll take pencil and papei 
and record." 

All being prepared, fingers extended, company intent, 
Aunt Dinah propounded the first question 
" Is there any spirit present ? " 
There was a long wait and no rejoinder. 
" Didn't you hear something ? " inquired the doctor. 
William shook his head. 

" I thought I felt it," persisted the doctor. " What 
do you say, Ma'am ? " addressing himself to Winnie, who 
looked, after her wont, towards her mistress for help. 

"Did you feel anything?" demanded Miss Perfect, 
sharply. 

" Nothing but a little wind like on the back of my 
head, as I think," replied Winnie, driven to the wall. 

" Wind on her head ! That's odd," said Miss Perfect, 
looking in the air as if she possessed the porcine gift of 
seeing it, " very odd ! " she continued, with her small hand 
expanded in the air. " Not a breath stirring, and Winnie 
has no more imagination than that sofa pillow. You 
never fancy anything, Winnie ? " 

" Do I, Ma'am ? " inquired Winnie Dobbs, mildly. 
" Well, do you, I say ? No, you don't ; of course you 
don't. You know you don't as well as I do." 

" Well, I did think so, sure, Ma'am," answered Winnie. 
" Pity we can't get an answer," remarked the doctor, 
and at the same moment William felt the pressure 
of a large foot in a slipper under the table. It had 
the air of an intentional squeeze, and he looked inno- 
cently at the doctor, who was, however, so entirely un- 
conscious, that it must have been an accident. 

"I say it is a pity, Mr. Maubray, isn't it? for we 
w^/hear something that might interest Miss Perfect 
very much, possibly, I say ? " 



32 All In the Darl, 

"I don't know; I can't say. IVe never heard any- 
thing," answered William, who would have liked to kicfr 
the table up to the ceiling and go off to bed. 

"Suppose Ma'am, we try again," inquired Doctor 
Drake. 

"Certainly," replied Aunt Dinah; "we must have 
patience." 

" Will you ask, Ma'am, please, again if there's a spirit 
in the room ? " solicited the doctor ; and the question 
being put, there came an upward heave of the table. 

"Well!" exclaimed the doctor, looking at Winnie, 
"did you feel that?" 

"Tilt, Ma'am," said Winnie^ who knew the intelligence 
would be welcome. 

" What do you say ? " inquired Miss Perfect trium- 
phantly of William. 

" Doctor Drake was changing his position just at the mo- 
ment, and I perceived no other motion in the table no- 
thing but the little push he gave it," answered William. 

" Oh, pooh ! yes, of course, there was that," said the 
doctor a little crossly ; " but I meant a sort of a start a 
crack like, in the leaf of the table." 

" I felt nothing of the kind," said William Maubray. 
The doctor looked disgusted, and leaning back took a 
large pinch of snuff. There was a silence. Aunt Dinah's 
lips were closed with a thoughtful frown as she looked 
down upon the top of the table. 

"It is very strange. I certainly never witnessed in 
this house more unequivocal evidences -preliminary evi- 
dences, of course of spiritual activity." 

" I think, Ma'am, I havs read," said the doctor, with 
his hands in his pockets, "I think, somewhere, that if 
anyone of the manipulator happens to be an unbeliever 



In which the Witches Assemmt. 33 

"An unbeliever in the manifestations, of course the 
spirits won't communicate," interrupted Miss Perfect, 
volubij laying down the law. " Winnie is a believer as 
much as I. We all know that. Nephew, how are you ? 
Do you bdievel You shake your head. Speak out 
Yes or no ? " 

" Well, I don't," said he, a little sheepishly. 

"You don't? And, not believing, you sit here with 
your lingers on the table, keeping Doctor Drake out of 
his his " 

She could not say bed, and the doctor relieved her by 
saying, " Oh, as to me, Ma'am, I'm only too happy ; but 
you know it's a pity, all the same." 

"Very true, doctor. Much obliged. We shall set it 
to rights. My dear William, you might have told us at 
starting ; but we'll commence again. Sit by the fire, "Wil% 
iiarru and I trust in a little time you may be convinced." 





CHAPTER VII. 

THE FAMILIAR SPEAKS. 

JO the excommunicated William, with his feet 
upon the fender, leaning upon his elbow in the 
great chair, made himself comfortable by the 
fire, and heard his aunt propound the questions, and the 
answers by the previously appointed manifestations, duly 
noted down. 

" Is there a spirit present ? " 

"Yes." 

"Are there more than one?" 

" No." 

" Is it a male or female spirit ? n 

No answer. 

" Is it Henbane ? " 

"Yes" (emphatically). 

William was surprised. All was now going smoothly, 
and he could not for a moment suspect a gentleman of 
Dr. Drake's respectability of participating in a trick. But 
there was a monotony in the matter of a quieting kind, 
and William grew too drowsy to keep his eyes long open. 

" Did you give Miss Dinah Perfect a message on Mon- 
day last?" 

"Yes." 

" Did it concern her death ? M 



The Familiar Speaks. 35 

Yes." 

"Is her death to take place at the time then ap- 
pointed ? " 

Here the table made a positive jump, and in spite of a 
grasp made at it by the doctor's fingers, it fell flat on the 
floor, and it must have been a very violent impulse, for 
Dr. Drake's slipper was off, and he, very red, no doubt 
from his effort to prevent the wilful fall of the table. 

" Very extraordinary ! " exclaimed he, standing up. 

" Most wonderful ! " said my aunt. 

Good old fat Winnie sat with her fingers raised in the 
air, looking at the prostrate table with placid astonishment 

"That's a tilt," said the doctor, "that means no a 
very emphatic tilt." 

" I think it was &jump? said my aunt, sadly. 

" No, Ma'am, no a tilt, a tilt, I'll take my oath. Be- 
sides &jump has no meaning," urged he with energy. 

" Pardon me : when a question is received with marked 
impatience a jump is no unfrequent consequence." 

" Oh, ho ! " groaned the doctor reflectively. " Then it 
counts for nothing." 

" Nothing," said Miss Perfect in a low tone. "Winnie, 
get the table up again." 

" Suppose, Ma'am, to avoid mistakes," said the doctor, 
after reflection, " suppose we put it upon it to express it- 
self in language. Just ask it what about Miss Dinah 
Perfect's death." 

"I've no objection," said Miss Perfect; and in the 
terms prescribed by Dr. Drake the momentous question 
was put. 

Hereupon the spelling commenced 

" A-D-J-O-U-R-N-E-D." 

"Postponed, put off, Ma'am!" said the doctor, ex- 
pounding eagerly. 



$6 All in the Dark. 

" I know ; good Heaven ! I understand/' answered 
Aunt Dinah faintly. 

" Give her some water. Here, Ma'am," said he, pre- 
senting a glass of water at her pale lips. She sipped a 
little. 

"Now we'll ask, Ma'am, please, for how long?" sug- 
gested the doctor. 

And this question likewise having been propounded 
the table proceeded once more to spell 
"S-I-N-E D-I-E." 

' It ends with die? said my poor aunt, faintly. 

" Sine die, Ma'am. It means indefinitely, Ma'am ; your 
death is postponed without a day named for ever, 
Ma'am ! It's all over; and I'm very happy it has ended 
so. What a marvellous thing, Ma'am give her some 
more water, please those manifestations are. I hope, 
Ma'am, your mind is quite relieved perfectly, Ma'am/' 

Miss Dinah Perfect was taken with a violent shivering, 
in which her very teeth chattered. Then she cried, and 
then she laughed ; and finally Doctor Drake administered 
some of his ammonia and valerian, and she became, at 
last, composed. 

With audible thanksgivings old Winnie accompanied 
her mistress up stairs to her room, where Aunt Dinah her- 
self, who, notwithstanding her necromancy, was a well- 
intending, pious Churchwoman, descended to her knees at 
her bedside, and poured forth her gratitude for the re- 
prieve, and then in a loud and distinct voice read to old 
Winnie Dobbs the twentieth chapter of the Second Book 
of Kings, in which we read how the good king Hezekiah 
obtained by prayer ten years more of the light of life. 

Then old Winnie persuaded her to have a glass of very 
hot port wine-negus, which agreed with her so well that 
she quickly fell asleep ; and never did poor lady need re- 



The Familiar Speak*. 37 

pose more, or drink deeper and more tranquil draughts of 
that Lethe. 

William Maubray was now wide awake, and he and 
the doctor, being a little chilly, sat before the study fire. 

"It's jolly, isn't it?" exclaimed William for the seventh 
time. " But isn't it all very odd, Sir, and very unaccount- 
able I -I think?" 

" Very, very odd, to be sure," said the doctor, poking 
the corner of a lump of coal " very, no doubt." 

" I wish I had been awake. I should like to see one 
of those things those seances. I had no idea there really 
was anything so coherent.'' 

"Very lucky for her," replied the doctor, with a sly 
little wink to William. 

William looked inquiringly at the doctor, who smiled 
on the poker's end, and pushed the embers gently with it. 

" You don't believe in it, Sir do you ? " inquired Wil- 
liam, puzzled. 

"I? Well, I don't know exactly what to say, you 
know. I put my foot in it on Sunday last, when I told 
her I did not believe a bit of it ; nor more I did. Egad, 
you never saw a woman so angry, when I called it all 
bosh. You'd better not vex her that way, my boy d'ye 
see ? She lent me one of those wonderful queer books 
from America very odd they are and I read it to please 
her. So, you see, that's how we stand ; very good friends 
again." 

"And you are convinced it's true?" urged William, 
who, like other young men who sit up late, and read wild 
books, and drink strong coffee, was, under the rose, ad- 
dicted to the supernatural. 

"Why, you see, as Shakespeaie says, there are more 
bubbles between heaven and earth than are dreamt of by 
the philosophers," observed the doctor with a little para- 



38 All in the Dark. 

phrase. " I wish to live at peace with my neighbours ; 
and I'd advise you to think over this subject, old fellow, 
and not to tease the old lady up stairs about it that's all." 

" I wish he'd speak out, and tell me what happened to- 
night, and tell me his real opinion," thought William 
Maubray. " I've read in some old medical book," he 
continued aloud, " that the vital electricity escapes and 
diffuses itself at the finger-tips." 

" Oh, to be sure ! All sorts of theories. The hand's a 
very mysterious organ. The hand of glory, you may be 
certain, was not altogether a story. The electric light 
has been seen at the finger-tips in consumptive cases in 
the dark ; and a patient convulsed, or in a state of ex- 
treme nervous exhaustion, will clench the hand so as to 
prevent the escape of this influence at the finger-points, 
and then joining hands, in love, you know, or friendship 
and in fact it is, Sir, a very mysterious organ ; and I'm 
prepared to believe a great deal that's curious about its 
occult powers. Your aunt told you about the toad she 
saw climb over her coverlet one night, and turn into a 
hand and grasp her wrist" 

" No," said William. 

" Egad, she's ready to swear to it. Last winter she 
was so frightened, she was not fit to stand for a week 
after. She reads too much of those books. Egad, Sir, 
she'll turn her head, and that will be the end of it. How- 
ever, we've pulled her through this, and I hope she'lLgive 
it up, true or false. You see, there's no good in it ; and 
if she goes on, sooner or later she'll frighten herself out of 
her wits." 

" But that toad was a very curious idea," said William. 
" What does she make of it ? Does she think it was a 
fency only, or a real thing ? " 

" Pooh ! A spirit of course. She calls it the key- 



The Familiar Speaks. 39 

spirit that unlocks the spirit-world, you see; and from 
the time it touches you, you are in rapport with the in- 
visible world, and subject, as she says she is, to their 
visitations, you see ha, ha, ha ! " 
William laughed too. 

" Last winter ? " he said. " She never told me." 
" Pooh ! All fancies," observed the doctor. " Better 
she should not talk of them. Those American people are 
all going mad. She'll get touched in the upper story if 
she does not mind." 





CHAPTER VIII. 

WILLIAM MAVflRAY'S VISION. 

|FTER some more talk of this kind, they parted, 
and William Maubray, as he lay down again 
in his bed, wondered whether the doctor, whom 
he had heard described as a shrewd man, believed in the 
revelations at which he had assisted ; or, was it possible 
could he have been accessory to Oh, no, it could 
not be ! 

The student, as I have said, had a sort of liking for the 
supernatural, and although now and then he had experi- 
enced a qualm in his solitary college chamber at dead of 
night, when, as he read a well-authenticated horror, the 
old press creaked suddenly, or the door of the inner-room 
swung slcwly open of itself, it yet was "a pleasing terror" 
that thrilled him ; and now as he lay this night awake, 
with a patch of moonlight spread askance on the floor 
for Aunt Dinah insisted on a curfew, and ne, " preferring 
the light that heaven sheds" to no lamp at all, left the 
window-shutter a little open, and for a while allowed his 
eyes to wander over the old-fashioned and faded furniture 
of the apartment, and his fancy to wander among those 
dreams of superstition with which he rather liked to try 
has courage. 
He conned over his aunt's story of the toad, recounted 



WiUiam Maubrafs Vision. 41 

to him by Doctor Drake, and which he had never heard 
before, until the nodding shadow ot the sprig of jessamine 
on the floor took the shape of the sprawling reptile, and 
seemed to swagger clumsily towards his bed, and every 
noise in the curtains suggested its slimy clamberings. 

Youth, fatigue, pure country air, in a little while over- 
powered these whimsies, and William Maubray fell into a 
deep sleep. 

I am now going to relate a very extraordinary incident; 
but upon my honour the narrative is true. William Mau- 
bray dreamed that he was in the room in which he ac- 
tually lay ; that he was in bed, and that the moonlight 
entered the room, just as he had seen it before going to 
sleep. He thought that he heard a heavy tread travel se 
the room over his head; he heard the same slow and 
ponderous step descend the narrow back stair, that was 
separated from him only by the wall at the back of his 
bed. He knew intuitively that the person thus approach- 
ing came in quest of him, and he lay expecting, in a state 
of unaccountable terror. The handle of his door turned, 
and it seemed that his intending visitor paused, having 
opened the door about a hand's breadth, and William 
knew that he had only suspended, not abandoned his 
purpose, be it what it might. Then the door swung 
slowly open, and in the deep shadow, a figure of gigantic 
stature entered, paused beside his bed, and seized his 
wrist with a tremendous gripe. 

For a time, unable to stir, he remained passive under 
its pressure. Then with a horrified struggle he awoke. 
There was no figure visible, but his wrist was actually 
compressed in a cold grasp, and, with a ghastly ejacula- 
tion, he sprang from his bed, and was released. 

He had no means of lighting a candle ; he had nothing 
fa? it but to bounce to the window, fling curtains and 



42 All in the Dark. 

shutters wide, and admit the full flood of moonlight, which 
revealed the contents of the room, and showed that no 
figure but his own was there. But there were the marks 
of the grasp that had held him still visible. He secured 
his door, and made search, in a state of horror, but was 
convinced. There was no visible intruder in the chamber. 

Now William got back into his bed. For the first time 
in his life he had experienced a paroxysm of that wild 
fear with which it had been so often his delight to trifle. 
He heard the clock at the stair-head strike hour after 
hour, and at last, after having experienced every stage in 
the subsidence of such horrors, fairly overcome by fatigue, 
he sunk to sleep. 

How welcome and how beautiful shone the morning ! 
Slanting by his window, the sunbeam touched the quiver- 
ing jessamine leaves, and the clustering roses, and in the 
dewy air he heard the chirp and whistle of the happy 
birds. He threw up his window and breathed the per- 
fumed air, and welcomed all the pleasant sounds of morn- 
ing in that pleasant season. 

"The cock he crew, 
Away then flew 
The fiends from the church-door." 

And so the uncomfortable and odious shadows of the 
night winged their foul flight before these cheerful influ- 
ences, and William Maubray, though he felt the want of 
his accustomed sleep, ran down the well-known stairs, and 
heard with a happy heart from Winnie Dobbs that his 
kind old aunt was ever so much better. 

Doctor Drake had withdrawn from his uncomfortable 
bivouac, carrying with him his nightcap and slippers, and 
hastening to his toilet in the pleasant town of Saxton, 
where, no doubt, Miss Letty cross-questioned him mi- 
nutely uDon the occurrences of the night 



William Maulray ? s Vision. 43 

I have said before that the resources of Gilroyd were 
nothing very remarkable ; still there was the Saxton 
Cricket Club, who practised zealously, and always wel- 
comed William, whose hit to leg was famous, and even 
recorded as commendable in the annual volume of the 
great Mr. Lillywhite ; where he was noted, in terms that 
perplexed Aunt Dinah, as a promising young bat, with a 
good defence. He fished a little; and he played at 
fives with young Trevor of Revington, whom nobody very 
much liked the squire of Saxton, who assumed territorial 
and other airs that were oppressive, although Revington 
was only two thousand five hundred pounds a year ; but 
in that modest neighbourhood, he was a very important 
person, and knew that fact very well. 

He had of late distinguished Violet with a slight admi- 
ration, that ought to have been gratifying. Once or twice 
he paid old Miss Perfect a little neighbourly, condescend- 
ing visit, and loitered a good deal about the garden, and 
that acre and a half of shrubbery, which she called " the 
grounds." He sometimes joined in the walk home from 
church, and sometimes in other walks ; and Aunt Perfect 
was pleased and favourable, and many of the Saxton 
mothers and daughters were moved to envy and malice. 

" I played to-day," said William, giving an account of 
his hours at tea to the ladies, " two rubbers of fives ; with 
whom do you think ? " 

He stopped, smiling slily on Violet, who was steadfastly 
looking down on Miss Perfect's crest on her tea-spoon. 

"Well, I'm sure you know by that unerring instinct 
which poets speak of," said William, " but it is hardly fair 
to ask you to name him." 

Violet looked up, having blushed very prettily, but not 
very well pleased. 

" Of course I mean Trevor Vane Trevor of Reving- 



44 AllintheDatk. 

ton. It sounds very well. Trevor was two years my 
senior at school ; he left at the end of the third half aftei 
I came ; that makes him nearly twenty-five now. How 
old are you, Vi ? you'd make a very pretty mistress of 
Revington; yes, indeed, Vi, or anywhere else. Don't 
be vexed, but tell me exactly how old you are." 

He tapped with his pencil on the table to hasten her 
answer, as he looked at her, smiling a little sadly. 

" How old ? " she repeated. 

"Well?" 

" Past seventeen. Why do you want to know ? " she 
added laughing. 

" Well, he's not quite five-and-twenty yet ; only twenty- 
four to your seventeen. Seven years is a very pretty 
difference." 

" What are you talking about, William ? This kind of 
thing is thought very funny : it is very disagreeable. If 
people will talk nonsense, do let it be amusing. You 
used to be sometimes amusing." 

"That was long ago, when I told you 'Sinbad the 
Sailor/ and 'The Romance of the Forest;' before tlie 
romance of the shrubbery commenced," 

" Folly ! " exclaimed Violet 







CHAPTER IX. 

IN WHICH MISS VIOLET SAYS WHAT SHE THINKS OF MR. 
VANE TREVOR, AND IS VIOLET NO LONGER, 

]OW, I tell you," continued William Maubray, 
and he glanced at Aunt Dinah ; but she was 
reading, with her gold spectacles on, the 
second of a series of old letters, which she had in an old 
stamped leather box beside her, and had forgotten all 
else. " You really must tell me what you think of Vane 
Trevor ? " 

Miss Vi fixed her glowing eyes full upon his for a mo- 
ment, and then dropped them suddenly. His were full 
of their old, gentle, good-natured mirth. 

There was a little pause, and, suddenly looking up, 
she said rather petulantly : 

" Think of him ? Why, I suppose I think what every- 
one else does. I think him handsome; I think him 
agreeable; I think he has an estate; I think he looks 
like a gentleman ; and I think he is the only man who 
appears in this neighbourhood that is not in one way or 
other a bore. Shall I sing you a song?." 

And with heightened colour and bright eyes, this hand- 
some girl sat down to the piano, which had a cracked and 
ancient voice, like the reedy thrum of a hurdy-gurdy, con- 
trasting quaintly with her own mellow tones, and she 
sang nothing to the purpose, nothing with a sly, allego- 



46 All in the Dark. 

ric satire in it, but the first thing that came into her head 
sweet and sad as a song of old times ; and ancient Miss 
Perfect, for a verse or so, lowered her letter, and lis- 
tened, smiling, with a little sigh ; and William, listening 
also, fell into a brown study, as he looked on the 
pretty songstress, and her warblings mingled with his 
dreams. 

" Thank you, little Vi," said he, rising with a sudden 
smile, and standing beside her as the music ceased. 
" Very pretty very sweet." 

" I am glad you like it, William," she said, kindly. 

" William, again ! " he repeated. 

"Well yes." 

"And why not Willie, as it used to be?" he persisted. 

" Because it sounds foolish, somehow. I'm sure you 
think so. I do." 

It seemed to him as, with a sad smile, he looked at her, 
thinking over the words that sounded so like a farewell, 
so light and cruel, too, that there yet was wisdom that 
precocious wisdom with which nature accomplishes the 
weaker sex in her decision ; and something of approval 
lighted up his sad smile, and he said, with a little nod : 

" I believe the young lady says wisely ; yes, you are a 
wise little woman, and I submit." 

Perhaps she was a little disappointed at his ready ac- 
quiescence ; at all events she wound up with a loud chord 
on the piano, and, standing up, said : 

" Yes, it sounds foolish, and so, indeed, I think does 
William; and people can't go on being children always, 
and talking nonsense ; and you know we are no relations 
at least that I know of and I'll call you yes I will 
Mr. Maubray. People may be just as friendly, ard yet 
and yet call one another by their right names. And 
now, Mr. Maubray, will you have some tea ? " 



Miss Violet Says what She Thinks. 47 

" No, thanks ; no more tea to-night. I'm sure it has 
lost its flavour. It would not taste like tea." 

"What's the matter with the tea?" asked Miss Perfect, 
over the edge of her letter. " You don't like your tea, 
William ? Is not it strong enough ? " 

" Quite \ too much ; almost bitter, and a little cold." 

" Fancy, child," said Aunt Dinah, who apprehended a 
new attack on her tea-chest, and hated waste. " I think 
it particularly good this evening," and she sipped a little 
in evidence of her liking, and once more relapsed into 
reading. 

"I can add water," said Violet, touching the little 
ivory handle of the tea-urn with the tip of her finger, and 
not choosing to apprehend William's allegory. 

"No, thank you, Vi Violet, I mean Miss Darkwell; 
indeed, I forgot. What shall I read to-night ? " and he 
strode listlessly to the little bookcase, whose polished 
surface flashed pleasantly to the flicker of the wood fire. 
" ' Boswell's Johnson,' < Sir Charles Grandison,' ' Bishop 
Ilorsley's Sermons,' 'Trimmer's Works/ 'A Simple 
Story,' 'Watts' Sacred Songs,' 'Rasselas,' 'Poems, by 
Alfred Tennyson.' " 

His quiet voice as he read the names on the backs of 
Aunt Dinah's miscellaneous collection, sounded changed 
and older, ever so much, in Violet's ear. All on a sud- 
den for both, a part of their lives had been cut off, and 
a very pleasant time changed irrevocably to a retro- 
spect 

"I think 'Tennyson.' What do you?" he asked, 
turning a smile that seemed faded now, but kindly as 
ever, upon her. 

As the old name was gone, and the new intolerable, 
he compounded by calling her by none ; and she, like- 
wise, in her answer 



48 All in the Dark. 

" Oh ! yes, Tennyson, Tennyson, by all means ; that 

is, if Miss Perfect wishes." 

" Yes oh ! to be sure ; but haven't you read it be* 
fore ? " acquiesced Miss Perfect. 

William smiled at Violet, and said to Miss Dinah, " I 
think and don't you ? " this was to Vi, parenthetically, 
" that poetry is never heard fairly on a first reading. It 
resembles music you must know it a little to enjoy it." 

"That's just what I think," said Violet, eagerly. 

"Very good, young people," said my aunt, with a 
little toss of her head. " For my part, I think there's 
but one Book will bear repeated reading, and that is 
the Bible." 

"Not even 'Elihu Bung?'" suggested William. 

"There read your poetry," said Mils Perfect. "I 
shan't interrupt ; I'm reading these, looking back for the 
date of a family event." 

This was an exercise not unfrequently imposed on her 
by Henbane, who now and then made a slip in such 
matters, and thus perplexed and troubled Aunt Dinah, 
who had sometimes ber secret misgivings about his ac- 
curacy and morality. 

" What shall I read ? " asked William in a lower tone, 

"Anything, 'Mariana,'" she answered. 

" The ' Moated Grange,' " repeated William, and 
smiled. " ' The poetry of monotony.' I could fancy, 
if a few pleasant faces were gone, this Gilroyd Hall, 
much as I like it, very like the Moated Grange." 

And without more preface he read that exquisite little 
poem through, and then leaned back in his chair, the 
book open upon the table ; pretty Violet sat opposite, 
working at her crochet, in a reverie, as was he as he 
gazed on her. 

" Where did she learn ail that ? How much wiser they 



Miss Violet Says what She Thinks. 4$ 

are Irian we What a jolly ass / was at seventeen, and 
all the fellows. What fools weren't they ? in -.hings 
like that ; and by Jove ! she's quite right, I could not go 
on F/-ing her all my days, just because when she was a 
child she used to be here. They are certainly awfully 
wise in that sort of thing. Pretty head she has busy, 
busy quite a little world within it now, I dare say. 
What a wonder of wonders, that little casket ! Pretty 
hair, awfully pretty; and the shape of her head, so 
pretty ; yet the oval reminds me, right or wrong, of a 
serpent's head ; but she has nothing of that in her, only 
the wisdom ; yes, the wisdom, and, perhaps, the fascina- 
tion. She'll make some fellow's heart sore yet; she'll 
make some great match, I dare say; but that's a long 
way off, eight years; yes, she'll be twenty-four then; 
time enough before her." 

" Is there any cricket for to-morrow ? " asked Vi on a 
sudden. 

"No match. I'm going up to look at Revington. 
Trevor said he'd call for me early eleven o'clock for 
me, mind ; and you know I begin to feel an interest in 
Revington." 

" Oh ! it's very pretty, great old timber," she said, 
" and a handsome place, and a good estate thre^ thou- 
sand a year, only it owes some money. What an ambi- 
tious, audacious person I must be. I'm certain you 
think so, because it is quite plain I covet my neighbour's 
house, and his ox, and his ass, and everything that is 
his ; and coveting, Dr. Mainwaring tells us, is the foun- 
tain-head of all iniquity, for how could a person so poor 
as I ever obtain all these fine things without fraud and 
chicanery ? " 

Miss Violet was talking a little recklessly and angrily, 
but she looked unusually handsome, her colour was so 



50 All in the Dark. 

beautiful, and there was so strange a nre in her vexed 
eyes. What was the meaning of this half-suppressed 
scorn, and who its real object ? How enigmatical they 
grow so soon as the summer hours of fascination, and of 
passion with its disguises and sorrows, in all their tran- 
sient glow and beauty, approach the season of hope, of 
triumph, and of aching hearts. 





CHAPTER X. 

VANE TREVOR IS DISCUSSED AND APPEARS. 

|T was in this mysterious turbulent frame of mind 
that old Winnie Dobbs, bearing the Bible and 
book of family prayers, surprised Miss Violet 
Darkwell, and recalled Aunt Dinah from the sound and 
fury of forty years ago, now signifying no more than the 
discoloured paper on which they were recorded. 

" Dear me ! can it be a quarter to ten already ? " ex- 
claimed Miss Perfect, plucking her watch from her side 
and inspecting it. " So it is ; come in." 

And fat Mrs. Podgers, the cook, and Tom, with his 
grimmest countenance, and the little girl with a cap on, 
looking mild and frightened. 

So, according to the ancient usage of Gilroyd Hall, to 
William's lot fell the reading of the Bible, and to Aunt 
Dinah's that of the prayers, and then the little congrega- 
tion broke up, and away went Vi to her bed-room, with 
old Winnie. 

William was not worse, nor, I dare say, much better 
than other young Cambridge men of his day and college; 
but he liked these little "services" in which he officiated, 
and they entered into his serene and pleasant recollections 
of that sequestered habitation. 

" Well, William dear, I thank God I am spared to be 
with you a little longer." 



52 All in the Dark. 

"Amen," he said, "you dear aunt, dear, ^ar old 
Aunt Dinah." 

And they kissed very lovingly, and there war A silence, 
which Aunt Dinah in a few minutes broke by mentioning 
the very subject at that moment in his mind. 

"You saw Violet a good deal grown very pretty 
figure in fact, I think her lovely ; but we must not tell 
her so, you know. She has been very much admired, 
and a good, affectionate, amiable little soul she is. 
There's young Mr. Trevor. I can tell you people are 
beginning to talk about it. What do you think ? " 

William set down his bed-room candle on the tea table, 
rubbed the apex of its extinguisher with the tip of his 
finger, and returned an answer answerless. 

" He's very good-looking ; isn't he ? But he thinks a 
lot of himself; and don't you think it would be an awful 
pity little Vi should be married so soon ? " 

" Then you think he means to ask her ? " said Miss 
Perfect, her silver pencil-case to her chin, her head a 
little aside, and looking very curiously into her nephew's 
eyes. 

" I don't know ; I haven't a notion. He said yester- 
day he thought her very pretty ; but Trevor always talks 
like no end of a swell, and I really think he fancies a 
princess, or something of the sort, would hardly be good 
enough for him." 

" It would, of course, be a very good match for Vi," 
said Miss Perfect, dropping her eyes, perhaps a little dis- 
appointed, and running her pencil-case back and forward 
slowly on the edge of William's plated candlestick, from 
which they both seemed to look for inspiration ; " but a 
girl so pretty as she may look higher than Mr. Trevor 
without presumption," 

"Yes, indeed, and there's no hurry, Heaven knows. 



Va?ie Trevor is Discussed and Appears. f j 

I don't think Trevor half good enough for her," said 
William 

" Oh, I don't say thai , but but more unlikely things 
have happened." 

" Doe* li? aoes he make love to her ? " said William, 
who drew altogether upon the circulating library for his 
wisdom in those matters. 

" He certainly admires her very much ; he has been 
very attentive. I'm sure he likes her, and I can't hear 
that he is anything but a straightforward, honourable 
young man." 

" I suppose he is," said William ; " I'm sure he's that. 
And what does Violet Miss Darkwell say ? " 

" Say ! Why, of course I can't ask her to say anything 
till he speaks. I dare say she likes him, as why should 
she not? But that's only conjecture, you know; and 
you are not to hint it to him, mind, if he should question 
or poke you on the subject." 

" Oh, no, certainly," answered William, and there 
came a long pause. " But indeed, aunt, I don't think 
Vane Trevor half good enough for her." 

u Oh ! that's for them, my dear, to settle. There's no- 
thing, in point of prudence, against it." 

"No oh, no. Everything very well. Lucky fellow 
to be able to marry when he likes." 

"And but I forgot you don't mind. You think 
there's nothing in it. Still I ma> tell you I have had 
old Winnie and I some answers." 

" Table-rapping ? " said William. 

" A little seance. We sit down together, Winnie and 
I ; and some responses, in my mind, can hardly refer to 
anything else, and most sweet and comforting they have 
been." 

Once on this subject, my aunt was soon deep in it, am* 



54 All in the Dark. 

told her story of the toad which turned into a hand ; 
whereupon William related his dream, and the evidences 
afforded by his waking senses of the reality of the visita- 
tion. My aunt was at once awe-struck and delighted. 

"Now, William, you'll read, I've no doubt, the wonder- 
ful experiences of others, having had such remarkable 
ones of your own. Since my hand was held in that 
spirit-hand no doubt the same which seized yours 
I have become accessible to impressions from the in- 
visible world, such as I had no idea of before. You need 
not be uncomfortable or nervous. It is all benevolent 
or, at worst, just. I've never seen or felt that hand but 
once; the relation is established for ever by a single 
pressure. I have satisfied Dr. Drake a very intelligent 
man, and reasonable convinced him, he admits. And 
now, dear William, there is another link between us ; and 
if in the mysterious ways of Providence, you should after 
all be taken first, I shall have the happiness of com- 
munion with you. Good-night, dear, and God bless you, 
and be careful to put out your candle." 

So William departed, and notwithstanding Miss Per- 
fect's grisly conversation, he slept soundly, and did not 
dream of the shadowy giant, nor even of Trevor and 
Violet. 

Pleasant, listless Gilroyd Hall ! thought William, as, 
after breakfast, he loitered up and down before the rich 
red-brick front of the old gabled house, with its profusion 
of small windows, with such thick, white sashes, and 
casings of white stone ; and the pointed gabies, with 
stone cornice and glittering weather-vane on the summit. 
That house, somehow, bore a rude resemblance to the 
old world dandyism which reigned in its younger days, 
and reminded William of the crimson coats, the bars of 
lace and quaint, gable-like cocked hats, which had, no 



Vane Trevor is Discussed ana Appears. 55 

doubt, for many a year passed in and out at its deep- 
porched door; where I could fancy lovers loitering 
in a charmed murmur, in summer shade, for an enchanted 
hour, till old Sir Harry's voice and whistle, and the 
pound of his crutch-handled cane, and the scamper and 
yelp of the dogs, were heard in the oak hall approaching. 

Under the old chestnuts, clustered with ivy, Violet 
joined him. 

" Well, how are we to-day ? I think we were a little 
cross last night, weren't we ? " said William, with his old 
trick of lecturing little Vi. 

" We ! One of us may have been, but it was not I," 
she answered. 

" I think my watch is wrong. Did you happen to look 
at the clock as you passed ? " 

" Half-past eleven." 

" Ah ! so I thought. How many hours long, Miss " 
(Vi he was going to say) " Darkwell, are contained in 
half an hour's waiting ? The spirit of Mariana has come 
upon me : 

* She only said, " My life is dreary," 

" He cometh not,'' she said j 

She said, " I am a-weary, a-weary, 

I would that I were dead ! " * 

Can't you a little understand it, too ? not, of course, 
quite like me, but a little ? " 

Vi was not going to answer, but suddenly she changed 
Her mind and said 

" I don't know, but I think you were a great deal more 
agreeable when you were a schoolboy. I assure you, 
I'm serious. I think you've grown so tiresome and 
conceited. I suppose all young men in the universities 
are. ' A little learning is a dangerous thing,' you used to 



56 All in the Dark. 

tell me, and I think I can now agree with you at least 
it seems to make people vain and disagreeable." 

Maubray answered looking on her gently, but speaking 
as if in a pensive soliloquy, and wondering as he went 
along whether he had really turned into a coxcomb ; fur 
he was one of those sensitive, because diffident souls on 
whom the lightest reproof tells, and induces self-examina- 
tion. 

"I don't know," he said, "that I've even got the little 
learning that qualifies for danger. I don't think I am 
vain that is, not a bit vainer than I used to be ; but 
I'm sure I'm more disagreeable that is, to you. My 
babble and dull jokes are very well for a child, but the 
child has grown up, and left childish things behind : and 
a young lady in her teens is more fastidious, and and, 
in fact, is a sort of an angel whom I am not formed to talk 
to with a chance of being anything but a bore. Very un- 
learned, and yet a book-worm ; very young and yet not 
very merry; not a bad fellow, I think, and yet, with 
hardly a friend on earth, and by Jove ! here comes 
Trevor at last." 

And Trevor entered the gate, and approached then.. 





CHAPTER XL 

UNDER THE CHESTNUTS. 

|ANE TREVOR was rather good-looking; ayoimg 
gentleman of the slender and delicate type \ 
his dark hair curled, and on his small forehead 
one of those tresses, twisted, barber-fashion, into a neat 
little Ionic volute, and his glossy whiskers were curled on 
each cheek into little rolls like pistol barrels. There was 
in his toilet something of elaboration and precision which 
was uncomfortable, and made one fear to shake hands 
with him, and wish him safely back again in his band- 
box. 

He approached simpering. There was a general air 
of May Fair cameo studs, varnished boots, and lavender 
gloves that had nothing of the rough and careless 
country in it. 

" How do, Miss Darkwell charming day, is not it ? 
Everything really so fresh ; you can't imagine as I came 
along, and a this, now really this little a place, it 
looks quite charming quite, really, now a as you turn 
off the road, there's everything you know to make it 
charming." 

This latter period was delivered in a low tone, and 
with a gracious significance. 

"How d'ye do, Maubray?" 



58 All in the Dark. 

"Quite well, thank you," said William, with a smile 
that had a flicker of unconscious amusement in it. Per- 
haps without knowing it, he was envying him at thai 
moment. " He's a worse fool, by Jove ! than I thought 
he was," was his mental criticism ; but he felt more con- 
scious of his clumsy shoes, and careless get-up. " That's 
the sort of thing they admire why should a fellow be 
vexed they can't help it it's pure instinct." 

"What delicious grojund for croquet; positively I 
never saw anything so beautiful in my life. Do you play, 
MissDarkwell?" 

"Sometimes, at the Rectory not here. The Miss 
Mainwarings play, and once or twice I've joined their 
party.'* 

" But they have no ground theie," insisted Mr. Trevor ; 
" it's all on a slope. I happen to know it very well, 
because, in fact, it belongs to me. Old Mainwaring pays 
me a pretty smart rent for it, at least he thinks so. Ha ! 
ha ! ha ! " and Vane Trevor cackled gaily over his joke, 
such as it was. 

" Do you play ? " demanded Violet of William. 

"Croquet? no, not much just a little once or 
twice I'll do to fill a place if you want a very bad 
player." 

" Oh, never mind, we'll pull you through, or push you 
ha, ha, ha ! we will, indeed. You'll learn it a in no 
time, it's so simple isn't it, Miss Darkwell ? And then 
if you can get up one of those Miss Mainwarings awfully 
slow girls, I'm told, but they will do to play with you, 
Maubray, just by way of ballast, he's such a fast fellow 
ha, ha, ha ! You'll want a a slow partner, eh f " 

" Yes, and you'll want a clever one, so I surrender 
Miss Darkwell, just to balance the game," answered 
William, who was a little combative that morning. 



Under the Chestnuts. 59 

" Egad, 1 should like uncommonly to be balanced that 
way, I can tell you ; much better, I assure you, Miss 
Darkwell, than the sort of balancing I've been at the last 
two days, with my steward's books ha, ha, ha ! Awful 
slow work, figures. A regular dose of arithmetic. Upon 
my honour you'd pity me if you knew; you really 
would." 

"You really would," echoed William, "if you knew 
how little he knows of it." 

" Come, now, old fellow, none of your chaff, but get 
the balls and hoops, if Miss Darkwell will allow you, and 
we will choose the ground." 

" Lots of ground I'll choose that if you like only 
you'll just run and get the hoops and balls, for we have 
none here," answered Maubray. 

" No croquet ! " ejaculated Mr. Trevor, expanding his 
lavender kid fingers, and elevating his eyebrows. " I 
thought everyone had croquet now I mean, you know, 
the mallet-things, and hoops and balls, and and those 
little painted sticks, you know and what are we to do, 
Miss Darkwell ? " 

" I really don't know. It's quite true ; and besides we 
have not got Miss Mainwaring, you forget." 

" Oh \ you'll send Maubray, won't you, to fetch her ? " 

" Yes," said Maubray, " I'll go with great pleasure, if 
Miss Darkwell wishes ; but as I never saw the young 
lady before, I'm not quite sure that she'll come away with 
me." 

" Well no ha, ha, ha ! I don't think she'd run away 
with Maubray at first sight'? 

" Particularly to come to you" replied Maubray. 

" There now, let's be serioas there's a little fellow I 
saw at your gate yes, there he is, Miss Darkwell. Sup- 
pose you let me send him to Revington. I've no end of 



60 All in tht. Dark. 

those things there ; and I'll give him a note to Sparks, 
and we shall have them in no time." 

"A long time, I'm afraid," objected Violet. 

" No, I assure you ; a mere nothing ; not twenty 
minutes. Do, pray, allow me." 

And he wrote with a pencil, on the back of a card, an 
order to Sparks for the croquet apparatus, and away 
trotted the messenger. 

" Three can play, you know, or two for that matter, as 
well as twenty, and so we can do quite well without 
troubling Miss Main waring." 

There was now a knocking at the drawing-room wir/ 
dow, where William had seen dimly through the glass, 
the form of Aunt Dinah at her knitting, with Psyche in 
her new collar, seated by her. All looked towards the 
signal, and Miss Perfect threw up the window and said : 

" How do you do, Mr. Trevor ? what a sweet morn- 
ing." 

" Perfectly charming," responded the master of Rev- 
ington, with a tender emphasis and smiling toward Miss 
Perfect with his hat in his hand ; and Aunt Dinah smiled 
and nodded again in return. 

" William, I want you for a moment here, dear, you 
need not come in." 

The instinct which makes old ladies afford a dole now 
and then of a few minutes to lovers, is in harmony with 
the general rule of mercy and mitigation which alleviates 
every human situation. 

As soon as Miss Dinah raised the window, William 
saw standing in the chiaro-oscuro of the apartment, a tall 
and rather handsome old clergyman. A little rusty was 
his black suit a little dust was on his gaiters. It must 
have been he whom William had mistaken for the at- 
torney who was to have visited his aunt that morning. 



Under the Chestnuts. 61 

He had seen him walk his nag up to the (loot about an 
hour ago, and dismount. 

The old clergyman was looking observantly and kindly 
on William ; and, nodding to him, and with her thin hand 
extended toward her nephew, she said, " This is he ! " 
with a proud smile in her old eyes, for she thought Wil- 
liam the handsomest fellow alive. 

"Happy to make your acquaintance, Sir," said the 
cleric stepping forward and shaking William's hand. " I 
knew your father, and grandfather, and your aunt and I 
are very old friends ; and I've just been telling her how 
happy I shall be " 

" This is Doctor Wagget, my very good and kind old 
friend ; you may have heard me speak of him often, I 
dare say," interposed my aunt 

"And your reading, Sir, has been rather desultory, 
your aunt tells me, like my own, Sir ha, ha, ha ! We 
had rather give our time than pay it ; read what is not 
exacted of us than what is. But I don't know, Miss 
Perfect," continued the doctor, turning to that lady, as if 
they were in consultation upon William's case, "reading 
that is in the case of a man who thinks and I am 
sure our young friend here thinks for himself resem- 
bles the browsing of cattle: they choose their own 
herbage, and the particular flowers and grasses that 
answer their special conditions best, eh? and so they 
thrive. Instinct directs us creatures, in the one as in the 
other ; and so we read, he and I ha, ha ! what best 
nourishes, you see what we can assimilate and enjoy. 
For plodding fellows, that devour the curriculum set 
before them neither more nor less are, you see, stall- 
fed, bulkier fellows \ higher priced in the market ; but 
they haven't our flavour and texture. Oh, no ha, ha ! 



62 Allin the Dark. 

The ecclesiastic was cheery and kindly, and in hif 
manner was a curious mixture of energy and simplicity 
which William Maubray liked. 

The conclusion of this little harangue he had addressed 
to William Maubray ; and I am afraid that Miss Perfect 
was more interested by the picture on the lawn ; for with- 
out reference to the doctor's subject, she desired to know 
looking with a pleased inquisitiveness at the young people 
whether they were going to take a walk, or what ? And 
prolonged her little tte-&-tte with William over the win- 
dow-stool. 

When William Maubray looked up again at Doctor 
Wagget, that divine had picked up a book, a trick of his, 
like that of the cattle from whom his illustration was 
borrowed, and who employ every moment's pause at the 
wayside, in a pluck at the nearest foliage or turf of grass ; 
and with the intimation, " you may as well join them,* 
Miss Perfect dismissed her nephew. 




CHAPTER Xll. 

CROQUET. 

|HILE William Maubray was thus employed, Mr. 
Trevor agreeably accosted Miss Violet. 

"Now we are to choose the ground, you 
know, Miss Darkwell you are to choose it, in fact. I 
think, don't you, it looks particularly smooth just there. 
By Jove it does ! really, now, just like a billiard-table, 
behind those a those a what-d'ye-callem's the ever- 
greens there." 

" I think it does, really," said Miss Vi, gliding very 
contentedly into his ambuscade. " There's a little shade 
too." 

" Yes, lots of shade ; I hate the sun. I'm afraid my 
deeds are darkness, as Dr. Mainwaring says. There's 
only one sort of light I really like, now, upon my honour 
the light the light you you know, the light that 
comes from Miss Darkwell's eyes ha, ha ! upon my 
honour." 

The idea was not quite original, perhaps, but Miss 
Darkwell blushed a little, and smiled, as it were, on the 
leaves, and wondered how soon the messenger with the 
Croquet things would return. And Mr. Trevor consulted 
his watch, and said he would allow him a quarter of an 
hour more, and added that he would willingly allow the 
poor little beggar an hour, or any time ; for his part, the 
the time, in fact, went only too fast for him. 



64 All in the Dark. 

Miss Perfect, looking over her spectacles, and then 
with elevated chin through them, said : 

tf Where have they gone to? can you see ? " 

"I don't know I suppose sauntering about they 
can't be very far," answered William, looking a little un- 
easily. And somehow forgetting that he was in the midst 
of a dialogue with Aunt Dinah, he strode away, whistling 
a little air, anxiously, hi the direction in which he had 
left them. 

"We have such a charming piece of ground here," 
exclaimed Violet, on whose cheeks was a flush, and 
in whose beautiful eyes a light which Maubray did no* 
like. 

" First rate ; capital, by Jove ! it is," exclaimed Trevc- 
in corroboration. 

" I don't see anything very wonderful about it. I think 
the ground on the other side of these trees better, de- 
cidedly ; and this is out of sight of the windows," said 
William, a little drily. 

"We don't want a view of the windows do we?" 
asked Mr. Trevor, with an agreeable simplicity, of Miss 
Darkwell. " The windows ? I really did not think of 
them j but, perhaps, Mr. Maubray wishes to be within 
call for lunch." 

Mr. Trevor laughed pleasantly at this cruel sally. 

" Well, yes, that, of course," said William, " and, beside, 
my aunt might want to speak to me again, as she did 
just now ; and I don't want to be out of sight, in case she 
should." 

This was very bitter of William ; and, perhaps, Miss 
Violet was a little put out, as she certainly was a little 
more flushed, and a short silence followed, during which, 
looking and walking slowly toward the gate, she asked, 
"Is that the boy with the croquet?" 



Croquet. 65 

Yes no yes, by Jove, it is / What wonderful eyes 
yours are, Miss Darkwell ! " 

The latter remark was in a tender undertone, the music 
of which was accompanied by the long-drawn screak of 
the iron gate, as the boy entered with a holland bag, 
mallets, and hoops. 

The hoops were hardly placed, when Miss Perfect once 
nnore knocked at the window and beckoned. 

" Aunt Dinah wants me again," said William, and he 
an to the window, mallet in hand. 

The old clergyman had gone away, and I think Aunt 
Dinah only wanted to give the lovers a few minutes. 

" Villikens and his Dinah," said Mr. Trevor, and ex- 
ploded in repeated cachinations over his joke. "I vote 
we call him Villikens capital name, isn't it ? I really do. 
But, by Jove, I hope the old lady won't go on calling 
him up from his game every minute. We'd have been a 
great deal better at the other side of the trees, where we 
were going to play, don't you think ? " 

" He is coming at last," said Miss Violet. 

" Shall we be partners, you and I ? Do let us, and 
give him two balls," urged Mr. Trevor, graciously, and a 
little archly. 

" Well, I think that's dull, rather, isn't it ? one playing 
with two balls," remonstrated Miss Darkwell. 

And before the debate could proceed William Maubray 
had arrived. 

"Everyone for himself, eh?" said Trevor; and so the 
game set in, Trevor and William Maubray playing rather 
acrimoniously, and making savage roquets upon one an- 
other; and Miss Darkwell though William dealt ten- 
derly with her was hard upon him, and, so far as her 
slender force would go, knocked him about inconven- 
iently. 



64 All in the Dark. 

" Capital roquet, Miss Darkwell," Trevor would cry, as 
William's ball bounded away into perspective, and his 
heart felt sore, as if her ungrateful mallet had smitten it j 
and his reprisals on Trevor were terrific. 

Thus, amid laughter, a little hypocritical, and honest 
hard knocks, the game proceeded, and Miss Darkwell, at 
its close, was the winner. 

William Maubray could lose as good-humouredly as 
any fellow at other games, but he was somehow sore and 
angry here. He was spited by Violet's partial dealing. 
Violet, how unnatural ! Little Vi ! his bird ! his property, 
it seemed, leagued with that coxcomb to whack him 
about to make a butt and a fool of him. 

" I'm not going to play any more. I'll sit down here, 
if you like, and do " gooseberry, he was on the point of 
saying, for he was very angry, and young enough, in his 
wrath, to talk away like a schoolboy " and do audience, 
or rather spectator ; or, if you choose, Trevor, to take 
that walk over the Warren you promised me, I'm ready. 
I'll do exactly whatever Miss Darkwell prefers. If she 
wishes to play on with you, I'll remain, and if she has 
had enough of us, I'll go." 

" I can't play there is not time for another game," 
said Miss Vi, peeping at her watch. " My aunt will want 
me in a few minutes about that old woman old Widow 
Grey. I I'm afraid I must go. Good-bye." 

" Awfully sorry ! But, perhaps you can ? Well, I sup- 
pose, no help for it," said Trevor. 

And they walked slowly to the door, where Miss Vi 
pronounced the conventional invitation to enter, which 
was, however, wistfully declined, and Trevor and William 
Maubray set out upon their walk, and Miss Vi, in the draw- 
ing room, sat down on the old-fashioned window-seat, and 
looked out, silent, and a little sulkily after them. 



Croquet. 67 

Miss Perfect glanced over her spectacles, with a 
itealthy and grave inquisitiveness, at the pretty girl. 

"Well, dear, they went away?" she said, after a 
silence. 

" Oh ! yes ; I was tired playing, and, I think, William 
wanted to go for a walk." 

"There seemed to be a great deal of fun over the 
game," said Aunt Dinah, who wanted to hear everything. 

" Yes, I believe so ; but one tires of it. I do, I 
know : " and saying this, Violet took up her novel, and 
Aunt Dinah scrutinised her, from time to time, obliquely, 
over her crochet needles, and silence reigned in the 
drawing-room. 

"Very pretty Miss Darkwell is. I quite envy you. 
Your cousin, isn't she?" said Trevor, graciously. He 
felt that William would be flattered by the envy, even 
playful, of Vane Trevor, Esq., of Revington. 

"Cousin, or something, someway or other connected 
or related, I don't know exactly. Yes, I believe she is 
very well. She was prettier as a child, though. Isn't 
there a short way to the Warren ? " 

" Yes, I'll take you right. She looks, I'd say, about 
seventeen." 

" Yes, I dare say," answered William. " Do you 
know those Miss Mainwarings Doctor Mainwaring's 
daughters ? " 

But it would not do. Vane Trevor would go on talk- 
ing of Violet Darkwell, in spite of William's dry answers 
and repeated divergences, unaccountably to that philoso- 
phical young gentleman's annoyance. 




CHAPTER XIII. 

UNSOCIABLE. 

JT dinner, in the parlour of Gilroyd Hall, thets 
was silence for some time. William looked a 
little gloomy, Violet rather fierce and stately, 
and Aunt Dinah eyed her two guests covertly, without 
remark, but curiously. At last she said to William 

" You took a walk with Mr. Trevor ?" 

" Yes, a tiresome one," he answered. 

"Where?" 

"All about and round that stupid Warren six or 
seven miles," answered William. 

" How very fatiguing ! " exclaimed Violet, compassion- 
ately, as if to herself. 

" No, not the exercise ; that was the only thing that 
made it endurable," answered William, a little crossly. 
" But the place is uglier than I fancied, and Trevor is 
such a donkey." 

Aunt Dinah, with her eyes fixed on William's, made a 
nod and a frown, to arrest that line of remark, which, 
she felt, might possibly prejudice Vi, and could do no 
possible good. And Miss Vi, looking all the time on 
the wing of the chicken on her plate, said, " The salt, 
please," and nothing more. 

" Vi, my dear," said Miss Perfect, endeavouring to b 



Unsociable. 69 

cheery, " he asked my leave last Sunday to send you an 
Italian greyhound. He has two, he says, at Revington. 
Did he mention it to-day ? " 

" Perhaps he did. I really forget," said Miss Vi, care- 
lessly, laying down her fork, and leaning back, with a 
languid defiance, for as she raised her eyes, she perceived 
that William was smiling. 

"I know what you mean," she said, with a sudden 
directness to William. " You want me that is, I think 
you want me to think you think " 

" Oh ! do stop one moment. There are so many 
'thinks' there. I'm quite bewildered among them all. 
Let's breathe an instant. You think I want to make you 
think that I think. Yes, now I have it, I think. Pray 
go on." 

'" Polite ! " said Miss Vi, and turned toward Aunt 
Dinah. 

" Well, no," said William, for the first time laughing a 
little like himself; "it was not polite, but very rude and 
ill-bred, and I'm very sorry ; and I assure you," he con- 
tinued more earnestly, " I should be very angry, if any 
one else had made the stupid speech that I have just 
made : and, really, I believe it is just this you have 
been too patient with me, and allowed me to go on 
lecturing you like an old tutor and and really, I'm 
certain I've been a horrid bore." 

Vi made no reply, but looked, and, no doubt, thought 
herself more ill-used for his apologies. 

After tea she played industriously, having avowed a 
little cold, which prevented her singing. William had 
asked her. He turned ^& the leaves of a book, as he 
sat back in an elbow-cnair, and Aunt Dinah was once 
more deep in her old box of letters, with her gold spec- 
tacles on. 



70 All in the Dark. 

They were as silent a party as could be fancied ; more 
silent than at dinner. Still, the pleasant light of fire 
and candle the handsome young faces and the kindly 
old one and the general air of old-fashioned comfort 
that pervaded the apartment, made the picture pleasant ; 
and the valses and the nigger ditties, with snatches of 
Verdi, and who knows what composer beside, made the 
air ring with a merry medley, which supplied the lack of 
conversation. 

To William, with nothing but his book to amuse him, 
time moved slowly enough. But Violet had many things 
to think of; and one could see that her eyes saw other 
scenes and shapes far away, perhaps, from the music, 
and that she was reading to herself the romance that was 
unrolled within her pretty girlish head. 

So prayers came, and William read the chapter ; and I 
am afraid his thoughts wandered, and he felt a little sore 
and affronted, he could not tell why, for no one had ill- 
used him ; and, when their devotions were over, Miss Vi 
took her candle, and bid grannie good-night, with an 
embrace and a kiss, and William with a nod and a cold 
little smile, as he stood beside the door, having opened 
it for her. 

He was growing formal in spite of himself, and she 
quite changed. What heartless, cruel creatures these 
pretty girls are! 

She had quite vanished up the stairs, and he still held 
the door-handle in his fingers, and stood looking up the 
vacant steps, and, as it were, listening to distant music. 
Then, with a little sigh, he suddenly closed the door, 
and sat down drowsily before the fire, and began t* 
think that he ought to return to his Cambridge chambers, 
his books, and monastic life : and he thought how for- 
tunate those fellows were, who, like Trevor what a 



Unsociable. 71 

goose that fellow is ! were born to idleness, respect, 
and admiration. 

" Money ! d n money curse it ! I wish I had a 
lot of it ! " and William clutched the poker, but the fire 
did not want poking, and he gave it a rather vicious 
knock upon the bar, which startled Miss Perfect, and re- 
called his own thoughts from unprofitable speculations, 
upon the preposterous injustice of Fate, and some ulti- 
mate state of poetical compensation, in which scholars 
and men of mind, who played all sorts of games excel- 
lently, and noodles, who never did anything decently 
in fact, he and Trevor would be dealt with discrimin- 
ately, and with common fairness. 

" Don't, dear William, pray, make such a clatter. I'm 
so nervous." 

" I beg a thousand pardons. I'm so stupid." 

"Well, it does not signify an accident but don't 
mind touching the fire-irons," said Miss Perfect; "and 
how did your walk with Mr. Trevor proceed ? Did he 
talk of anything ? " 

"Oh! didn't he? Fifty things. He's a wonderful 
fellow to talk, is Trevor," said William, looking with 
half-closed eyes into the fire. 

" Oh, yes," persisted Aunt Dinah ; " but was there 
anything anything particular anything that could 
interest us ? " 

"Next to nothing that could interest anyone," said 
William, uncommunicatively. 

" Well, it would interest me, if he talked of Violet," 
said Aunt Dinah, coming directly to the point. "ZfcV/he?" 

"Of Violet? Yes, I believe he did," answered Williarr, 
rather reluctantly. 

" Well, and why did not you say so ? Of course, you 
knew that's what I meant," said Miss Perfect, 



72 All in tJu Dark. 

" How could I know, auntie ? " 

" I think, William Maubray, you are a little disagree- 
able to-night." 

William, at these words, recollected that there was 
truth in the reproof. His mood was disagreeable to him- 
self, and, therefore, to others. 

" My dear auntie, I'm very sorry. I'm sure I have 
been not a little, but very and I beg your pardon. 
What was it ? Yes about Violet. He did, a great 
deal. In fact he talked about her till he quite tired me." 

" He admires her, evidently. Did he talk of her good 
looks ? She ts, you know, extremely pretty," said Aunt 
Dinah. 

"Yes, he thinks her very pretty. She is very pretty. 
In fact, I don't think judging by the women who come 
to church there is a good-looking girl, except herself, in 
this part of the world j and she would be considered 
pretty anywhere very pretty." 

" Revington is a very nice place, and the Trevors a 
good old family. The connection would be a very 
desirable one : and I though, of course, not knowing, 
in the least, whether the young man had any serious in- 
tentions I never alluded to the possibility to Vi herself. 
Yet, I do think she likes him." 

" I should not wonder," said William. 

"And he talked pretty frankly?" continued Aunt 
Dinah. 

" I suppose so. He did not seem to have anything to 
conceal ; and he always talks a great deal, an enormous 
quantity ;" and William yawned, as it seemed, over tiic 
recollection. 







CHAPTER XIV. 

A SUNNY MORNING. 

SUPPOSE, if he likes her, there's nothing 
to conceal in that?" challenged Miss 
Perfect. 

"No, of course," replied William, spiritedly; "I 
think she's a thousand times too good for him, every 
way that's what I think ; and I wonder, young as she 
is, Vi can be such a fool. What can she see in him ? 
He has got two thousand a-year, and that's all you can 
say for him." 

" I don't know that in fact, he strikes me as a very 
pretty young man, quite apart from his property," said 
Aunt Dinah, resolutely ; " and I could quite understand 
a young girl's falling in love with him." 

William, leaning with his elbow on the chimney-piece, 
smiled a little bitterly, and said, quietly, 

" I dare say." 

" I don't say, mind, that she is. I don't know the least, 
whether she cares twopence about him," said Aunt 
Dinah. 

"I hope she doesn't," rejoined William. 

" And why so ? " asked Aunt Dinah. 

M Because, I'm perfectly certain he has not the least 



74 All in the Dark, 

notion, of ever asking her to marry him. He's not 
thinking seriously about her, and never will" replied 
he. 

"Well, it's nothing to vaunt of. You need not 
talk as if you wished her to be mortified," said Aunt 
Dinah. 

"// I wish no such thing, I assure you; but, even if 
she admires and adores the fellow all you say, still I can't 
wish her his wife because I'm sure he's not the least 
worthy of her. I assure you he's no better than a goose. 
You don't know him you can't as the fellows in the 
same school did and Violet ought to do fifty times 
better." 

"You said he does not think seriously about her," 
said Miss Perfect. " Remember, we are only talking, 
you and I together, and I assure you I never asked 
her whether she liked him or not, nor hinted a possi- 
bility of anything, as you say, serious coming of it ; but 
what makes you think the young man disposed to 
trifle?" 

" I didn't say to trifle," answered William ; "but every 
fellow will go on like that where there's a pretty girl, and 
no one supposes they mean anything. And from what 
he said to-day, I would gather that he's thinking of some 
swell, whenever he marries, which he talks of like a thing 
so far away as to be nearly out of sight ; in fact, nothing 
could be more contrary to any sign of there being any 
such notion in his head and there isn't. I assure you 
he has no more idea, at present, of marrying than I 
have." 

" H'm ! " was the only sign of attention which Avut 
Dinah emitted, with closed lips, as she looked gloomily 
into her work-basket, I believe for nothing. 

William whistled " .Rule Britannia," in a low k;y, tc 






A Sunny Morning. 75 

the little oval portrait of the Very Rev. Simeon Lewis 
Feifect, Dean of Crutch Friars, the sainted and ascetic 
parent of the eccentric old lady, who was poking in ner 
work-basket, his own maternal grandfather ; and a silence 
ensued, and the conversation expired. 

Next morning, William, returning from his early saunter 
in the fields, saw the graceful head of Violet peeping 
through the open window of the parlour, through the 
jessamine and roses that clustered round it Her eyes 
glanced on him, and she smiled and nodded. 

" Uncertain as the weather ! " thought he, as he smiled 
and kissed his hand, approaching, " a lowering evening 
yesterday, and now so sunny a morning." 

" How do you do, Miss Violet ? you said you wanted 
a water-lily, so I found two in my morning's ramble, and 
here they are." 

" How beautiful. Thank you very much. Where did 
you find them ? " said Vi, quite glowing. 

" In the Miller's Tarn," he answered. " I'm so glad 
you like them." 

" Quite beautiful ! The Miller's Tarn ? " 

She remembered that she had mentioned it yesterday 
as a likely place, but it was two miles away ; four miles 
there and back, for a flower. It deserved her thanks, 
and she did thank him ; and reminded him in tone and 
look of that little Vi of other years, very pleasantly yet 
somehow sadly. 

" I mean to return to Cambridge to-morrow," said 
William, a little regretfully ; he had glanced round 
at the familiar scene; "and I am sorry to leave so 
soon." 

" And must you go ? " asked Violet 

" Not quite must, but I think I ought. If I had brought 
\vlth me some papers I have been transcribing for Doctor 

v 



76 All in the Dark. 

Sprague, I might have stayed a little longer, but they are 
locked up and he wants the copy on Tuesday, and so I 
can't help It." 

" It was hardly worth while coming, x oor grannie 
will miss you very much." 

"And you, not at all." 

" 1 ? Oh, yes, of course we shall all miss you." 

" Some, but not you, Vi." 

The old " Vi " passed quite unnoticed. 

" I, and why not I ? " 

" Because your time is so pleasantly occupied." 

" I don't know what you mean, said the young lady 
coldly, with a little toss of her head. " More riddles, I 
suppose." 

" Mine are poor riddles ; very easily found out. Are 
we to have croquet to-day ? " 

" I'm sure I can't tell," replied she. 

" Did not Trevor tell you he was coming here at 
eleven ? " asked William. 

" I don't recollect that he said anything about coming 
to-day," she answered carelessly. 

" I did not say to-day" said William provokingly. 

" You did. I'm nearly certain. At all events 
I understood it, and really it does not the least 
signify." 

" Don't be vexed but he told me he had settled with 
you to come here to-day, at eleven, to play as he did 
yesterday," said William. 

" Ho ! then I suppose I have been telling fibs as 
usual ? I remark I never do anything right when you 
are here. You can't think how pleasant it is to have some 
one by you always insinuating that you are about some- 
tluig shabby." 

41 You put it in a very inexcusable light," said William, 



A Sunfiy Morning. 77 

laughing. " It may have been a vaunt of Trevor's, for I 
think he's addicted to boasting a little ; or a misappre- 
hension, or or an indistinctness ; there are fibs logical 
and fibs ethical, and fibs logical and ethical ; but you 
don't read logic, nor care for metaphysics." 
" Nor metaphysicians," she acquiesced. 
"Well," said William, "he says he's coming at 
eleven." 

" I think we are going to have prayers," interrupted 
Violet, turning coldly from the window, through which 
William saw the little congregation of Gilroyd Hall as- 
sembling at the row of chairs by 'the parlour door, and 
Aunt Dinah's slight figure gliding to the corner of the 
chimney-piece, to the right of the Very Rev. Simeon 
Lewis Perfect, sometime Dean of Crutch Friars, where 
the Bible and Prayer-book lay, and in the shadow 
her golden spectacles glimmered like a saintly glory 
round her chaste head. 

So William hastened to do his office of deacon, and 
read the appointed chapter ; and their serene devotions 
over, the little party of three, with the windows open, and 
the fragrance and twitterings of that summer-like morn- 
ing entering through those leafy apertures, sat down 
to breakfast, and William did his best to entertain 
the ladies with recollections lively and awful of his col- 
lege life. 

"Half-past nine, Miss Violet; don't forget eleven," 
said William, leaning by the window-frame, and looking 
out upon the bright and beautiful landscape. " I'll go 
out just now and put down the hoops." 

" Going to play again to-day," enquired Miss Perfect 
briskly ; " charming morning for a game is he coming, 
William?" 
r " Yes, at eleven." 



78 All in the Dark. 

" H'm ! " murmured Aunt Dinah, in satisfactory ru- 
mination. 

And William, not caring to be drawn into another dis- 
cussion of this interesting situation, jumped from the 
window upot> the sward, and strolled away toward the 
river. 





CHAPTER XV. 

DINNER AT REVINGTON 

|REVOR did appear, and was received smilingly ; 
and Aunt Dinah came out and sat a little apart 
on the rustic seat, and looked on cheerfully, 
the day was so very charming. Perhaps she fancied it a 
case for a chaperone, and being a little more in evidence, 
than a seat in the drawing-room window would make her, 
and with her work, and with Psyche at her feet, she pre 
sided very cheerily. 

Whe% after two or three games, Trevor was taking his 
leave, Miss Violet Darkwell having, notwithstanding 
various nods and small frowns from grannie, persisted in 
announcing that she was tired, and had beside a long 
letter to write before Tom left for the town, the master of 
Revington said (he and Maubray were knocking the 
balls about at random) 

" I say, Maubray, you must come over to Revington 
and have a mutton chop, or something. You really must ; 
an old schoolfellow, you know ; and I want to talk to you 
a bit, upon my honour I do. I'm totally alone-, you 
know, at present, and you must come." 

" But I'm going to-morrow, and this is my last evening 
here," said William, who felt unaccountably queer and 
reluctant. 



8o All in the Dark. 

What could Trevor want to talk to him about ? There 
was something in Trevor's look and manner a little odd 
and serious he fancied even embarrassed. Perhaps it is 
some nonsense about Vi ! 

" 1 want him to come and dine with me, Miss Perfect, 
and he says you can't spare him," said Trevor, addressing 
that lady. " I really do. I've no one to talk to. Do 
tell him to come." 

" Certainly," said Aunt Dinah, with an imperious little 
nod to William Maubray. " G0, William, my dear, we 
shall see you to-night, and to-morrow morning. He'll be 
very happy I'm sure," said Aunt Dinah, who, like William 
Maubray possibly, anticipated a revelation. 

So William, having no excuses, did walk over to Rev- 
ington to dine. There was almost a pain at his heart as 
he paused for a moment at the stile, only one field away, 
and saw pretty Vi on the dark green grass, looking at the 
flowers, with little Psyche frisking beside her, and the 
kindly old front of Gilroyd Hall, and its lofty chestnuts 
in the sad evening light, and he sighed, thinking " Why 
won't things stay as they are, as they were ? What is the 
drift of this perpetual mutation ? Is it really progress ? 
Do we improve ? Don't we " (he would have said Violet?) 
" grow more selfish and less high-minded ? It is all a 
beautiful decay, and the end is death." 

Violet was plainly intent on her flowers j she had her 
hoe and her rake, and her movements somehow were so 
pretty that, unseen, he paused for another moment. 

" It is a blessed thing to have so little affection as that 
pretty creature j old times are nothing for her, and I, like 
a fool, yearn after them. The future for her no doubt 
looks all brilliant; for me it is a story, to the end of 
which I dare not look, and the pleasant past is a volume 
shut up and over ; she is little Vi and Violet no longer, 



Dinner at Revington. 3 1 

and even Miss Darkwell will very soon be like the song 
of a dead bird a note only remembered ; and I suppose 
I shall bring back the news to-night, a message from Mr. 
Vane Trevor, of Revington, to say that he lays his heart 
and his title-deeds at her feet. It's all over : I look on it 
as all settled." 

Just at these words the edge of the red sun sank be- 
hind the hills, and the last level beams of sunset gave 
place to the tender gray of twilight, except on the up- 
lands of Revington, where they lingered for a few seconds. 

" Ay," said William allegorising ; " the shade for Wil- 
liam Maubray ; the golden light of life for Vane Trevor ! 

Vane Trevor of Revington ! William Maubray of 

nothing at all ! charming contrast." 

And looking still on Gilroyd Hall, and the fading 
image of Violet Darkwell and Psyche frisking about, no 
longer white, but a moving gray spot on the sloping grass, 
he said, touching his finger-tips to his lip, and waving 
them lightly towards her, " Good-bye, little Vi ; good-bye, 
wicked little Vi; good-bye, dear, wicked little Vi, and 
may God bless you, you darling ! " 

So with a sigh he turned and walked up to Revington. 
It is a good ancestral looking place, only a little too large 
for the estate as it now is. The Trevors had parted from 
time to time with many acres, and a house upon a scale 
which would have corresponded with three times their 
income, was rather a tax upon what remained. 

"I never liked this place," thought William as the 
iron gate clanged behind him; "I always thought it 
gloomy, and stingy, and pompous. I wish he had let 
this dinner alone, I'd have been pleasanter at home, 
though it's as well, perhaps, to hear what he has to say. 
I think he has something to say ; but, hang it, why could 
not he tell it as well at Gilroyd, and to the people it con- 



82 All in the Dark. 

cerns? why need he bring me this stupid walk up his 
hill?" And William as he talked was switching the 
laurel leaves at his side with his cane, and leaving here 
and there half a leaf or a whole one on the gravel, and 
sometimes half a dozen not quite unconsciously ; there 
was something of defiance, I am afraid, in this trespass. 

William came in ; , the hall was not lighted ; he was re- 
ceived in the dusk by a serious and rather broad gentle- 
man in black, who took his hat and cane with a bow, led 
him through an anteroom, illuminated dismally by a 
single lamp, and announced his name at the drawing- 
room, where Vane Trevor received him, advancing from 
the hearthrug to the middle of the room, in an unex- 
ceptionable evening toilet, and in French boots, and 
shook hands with just a little inclination which implied 
something of state, though smilingly performed. 

Mr. Trevor was very conscious of the extent of the 
mansion of Revington, of the scale cf the rooms, of the 
pictures, and in short of everything that was grand about 
him. 

William was a little disgusted and rather uncomfortable, 
and ate his soup, and cutlets, and kickshaws, gloomily, 
while Trevor, leaning upon his elbow, talked away with a 
conscious superiority that was at once depressing and ir- 
ritating. 

They had a jug of claret not the best even in Trevor's 
cellar, I am afraid after dinner, and sat facing the fire, 
and sipping that nectar. 

" Snug little room this," said Trevor, looking along the 
ceiling with his napkin over his knee, and his claret glass 
in his fingers. " It isn't the parlour, only a sort of break- 
fast-room. The parlour, you know, is a it's considered 
a handsome room. Thirty-five feet by twenty." 

" Yes, I know," said William, with a dry carelessness. 



Dinner at Revington. 83 

" Ah ! well, yes I dare say. A good many people 
it's an old place, rather do know something about Rev- 
ington." 

" Especially those who have lived the greater part of 
their lives within half a mile of it," rejoined William. 

" Ah, ha ! yes ; to be sure ; I forgot you have been so 
constantly at Gilroyd. What a nice little bit of a thing it 
is. I could fancy growing quite in love with it isn't it ? " 

" Yes," said William, shortly, and filled his glass, and 
drank it in a hurry. He fancied that Trevor was about 
to come to the point. 





CHAPTER XVI. 

OVER THEIR CLARET. 

|REAT fun, croquet, isn't it ? Awful fun with 
pretty girls," exclaimed Vane Trevor, rising, 
and standing on the hearthrug, with his back 
to the fire, and his glass in his hand, and simpering agree- 
ably with his chin in the air. "7 think it capital fun, I 
know. There's so much cheating ha, ha ! isn't there ? 
and such lots of of whispering and conspiring and 
and all that sort of thing, you know ; and the girls 
like it awfully. At Torhampton we had capital games, 
and such glorious ground. Do you know the Torhamp- 
tons?" 

" The Marquess ? no, of course I don't ; how should 
I ? " said William with a little laugh of disgust. 

" Oh ! well, I thought a but Lady Louisa, she is so 
sweetly pretty ; I was told oif pretty often to play with 
her and we had such fun knocking the fellows about. 
Capital player and awfully clever they're all clever one 
of the cleverest families in England they're thought ; the 
old lady is so witty you can't imagine and such a 
pleasant party staying there. I was almost the only fellow 
not a swell, by Jove, among them," and he ran his eye 
along his handsome cornices, with a sort of smile that 
seemed to say something different. " I fancy they wish 
to be civil, however, from something Lady Fanny said I 
rather fancy they have an idea of putting up Lord 



Over their Claret. 85 

Edward you know, for the county, but don't let that go 
further, and I suppose they thought I might be of use. 
Won't you have some more claret ? " 

" I don't know them I don't understand these things j 
I don't care if all the Marquesses in England were up the 
chimney," said William, cynically, throwing himself back 
in his chair, with his hands in his pockets, and looking 
sulkily into the fire. 

" Well ha, ha ! that need not prevent your filling 
your glass, eh?" laughed Trevor, graciously and in 
dulgently, as though he belonged himself to that order of 
Marquesses of whom Maubray spoke so slightly, and 
forgave him. 

" Thanks ; I will," and so he did, and sipped a little j 
and after a little silence he asked with a surly quietude, 
" And why don't you marry that lady what's her name 
Louisa if she liked you ? " 

" It doesn't follow that she likes me, and you know 
there are difficulties ; and even if she did, it does not 
follow that I like her; don't you see ? " and he cackled in 
gay self-complacency \ " that is, of course, I mean liking 
in the way you mean." 

Again this desultory conversation flagged for a little 
time, and Trevor, leaning on the chimney-piece, and 
looking down on William, remarked profoundly 

" It's odd isn't it ? when you come to think of it, 
how few things follow from one another ; I've observed 
it in conversation almost nothing, by Jove ! " 

" Nothing from nothing, and nothing remains," said 
William drowsily, to the fire, repeating his old arithme- 
tical formula. 

" And about marrying and that sort of thing ; seriously, 
you know your glass is empty again ;- do have some 
more." 



86 All in the Dark. 

So William poured a little into his glass and his heart 
seemed to stop and listen, although he looked as if he 
only half heard, and was weary of the subject. 

"And as we were saying, about marrying and, by-the- 
bye, Maubray, it's the sort of thing would just answer 
you, a quiet fellow why don't you think about it, old 
fellow, eh?" 

It was a way Trevor had of always forgetting those 
.ittle differences of circumstance which, in contrast, re- 
dounded to his importance, and he asked such questions. 
of course, quite innocently. 

"You know very well I couldn't," said William, poking 
the fire, unbidden, with a few angry stabs. " How the 
devil can a fellow marry in college, and without a shil- 
ling?" 

"Ah, ah, it isn't quite so bad; come! But of course 
there is a difference, and, as you say, there's lots of time 
to look about only if a fellow is really spooney on a girl 
I mean awfully spooney, the big wigs say, don't they ? 
the best thing a fellow going to the bar can do is to 
marry, and have a wife and lots of babbies it makes 
them work so hard doesn't it ? You're going to the bar, 
you say, and that is the way to get on, eh ? " 

"I'm glad there's any way, but I don't mean to try 
that," murmured William, a little bitterly, and after a 
pause, during which who knows what a dance his fancy 
led him ? " I know that sort of talk very well ; but I never 
could see what right a fellow has to carry off a poor girl 
to his den merely that her hunger, and misery, and cries 
may stimulate him to get on at the bar ; and the fact is, 
some fellows are slaves, and some can do just as they 
please; and life is damnably bitter for some, and very 
pleasant for others, and that's the whole story ; you can 
marry whenever you please, and I can't." 






Over their Claret. 87 

" I'm afraid it's a true bill," said Trevor, complacently; 
whereupon there issued a silence, and twice and again 
was William Maubray moved to break it with a question, 
and as often his voice seemed to fail him. At last, how- 
ever, he did say, quite quietly 

" And why don't you marry, if you think it so good a 
thing ? " 

Was it something in William's tone and air, although 
he was trying his best to seem quite unconcerned, that 
elicited the quick, and somewhat cunning glance that 
Trevor shot on him ? 

At all events Trevor's manner became a little diploma- 
tic and reserved. 

" Why don't I ? Oh ! fifty reasons a hundred. There 
art all sorts of difficulties ; I don't mean, of course, any- 
thing mysterious or that sort of bosh : this house and 
the property, everyone knows, are very well. I've been 
four years in possession, and I've no fault to find with 
Revmgton either tenants or this" and he nodded 
towards the ceiling, indicating that he meant the house. 

" But you know for a fellow like me ; we've been 
here, you know, a long time : there was a Trevor here 
in Henry the Fifth's time but you know more history 
than I do." 

Trevor considered his family and his domicile as a 
part of English history, and William, who was in an un- 
pleasant mood just then, said 

" And the estate was larger, wasn't it ? " 

"Ah, ha yes certainly that is, there was another 
estate," acquiesced Trevor, eagerly, but looking a little 
put out. "The Torhamptons, by-the-bye, have got it 
rr,w ; a marriage, or something." 

" A purchase, I thought," insisted Maubray. 

M A purchase / very likely. It does not signify sixpence 



88 All in the Dark. 

if the thing's gone, and gone it is. But you see, having 
been here for a longer time, I'm afraid, than you and I 
are likely to live ; and having a sort of place among the 
people you understand a kind of a quite undeserved 
only because we have been here so long that sort of 
an influence or whatever it is a fellow isn't as free as 
you'd fancy. By Jove ! he's tied up, I can tell you ; 
horribly tied up. A poor devil like me. Egad, he's not 
like a man with an income out of the funds there's that 
sort of thing, I suppose it is the shadow don't you see 
of the old feudal thing, but so it is. There's a sort of 
rural opinion, a kind of loyalty, in a very small way, of 
course ; but it is that sort of feeling and there's no use, 
you know, in blinking it ; and a fellow has to consider, 
you know, how his tenants and people would receive it ; 
and ask anyone you can't conceive how a fellow's 
hampered, really hampered, now." 

"Do you really think they care a farthing?" asked 
Maubray. 

" Care ! You've no idea," exclaimed his friend. 

" Well, when I make my fortune, I'll keep it in the 
funds," said Maubray. 

" I strongly advise you," said Trevor, with admirable 
solemnity. " Have some coffee ? And here's curacoa." 

"When will he talk about Vi?" thought William, as he 
set down his coffee cup; "he can't have brought me here 
to dinner merely to hear that pompous lecture." 

And indeed, it seemed to William that Trevor had 
something more to say, but did not know how to begin it 




CHAPTER XVII. 

MOONSHINE. 

IND ROW, for they kept early hours at Gilroyd, 
William, with a peep at his watch, declared 
he must go, and Trevor popped on his fez 
and produced his cigars, and he set out with Maubray, 
in the moonlight, to see his friend out of the grounds. 

As they walked down the slope, with the thick chest- 
nuts of Gilroyd Hall and two of its chimneys full in 
view the misty lights and -impenetrable shadows of 
moonlight and all the familiar distances translated into 
such soft and airy outline the landscape threw them, I 
dare say, somewhat into musing, and that sort of sym- 
pathy with the pensive moods of nature which has, time 
out of mind, made moonlight the lamp of lovers. And 
some special associations of the scenery induced them 
to smoke on in silence for some time, insensibly slacken- 
ing their pace, the night scene was so well worth linger- 
ing over. 

" And your cousin isn't she ? down there, how 
awfully pretty she is," said Trevor, at last, lowering his 
cigar between his fingers. 

" Cousin ? I suppose we're all cousins in some round- 
about way related I don't know how, Yes, she is 
she's very pretty," 



90 All in the Dark. 

" Darkwell : connected, are they, with the Darkwells of 
Shropshire ? " asked Trevor. 

" Perhaps I really don't know I never knew there 
were Darkwells in Shropshire," said William. 

" Oh, dear, yes ! I thought everyone knew that. 
Darkwell's the name of the place, too. A very old 
family," said Trevor. 

" I did not know ; but her father is a barrister, and 
lives in London, and has some sons, but I never saw 
them," answered William. 

Trevor sighed. He was thinking what low fellows 
f liese sons might possibly be. A barrister. He remem- 
bered "young Boles V father visiting Rugby once, a barris 
ter, making fifteen hundred a year, a shabby, lean-looking 
fellow, with a stoop, and a seedy black frock coat, and 
grizzled whiskers, who talked in a sharp, dry way, with 
sometimes a little brow-beating tendency not a bit like , 
a gentleman. On the other hand, to be sure, there were 
lots of swells among them ; but still there was the image oJ 
old Boles's father intruding into the moonlight, and pok- 
ing about the old trees of Gilroyd. They had come to 
a halt under the mighty clump of beech trees that yoc 
can see against the sky from the distant road to Aud 
minton, and, after a silence, Trevor said 

" I remember a thing I saw in a play in London, about 
a fellow that married a mermaid, or something of the 
sort; and, egad, they got on capitally till their family 
began to appear, and and the situation began to grow 
too, too fishy, in fact for him ; so, by Jove, he cut and 
run, and I forget how the play ends ; but it was aw- 
fully funny." 

" Yes," said William, " they ought to come to us like 
Aphrodite, from the foam of the sea, and have no kindred 
in utter isolation." 



Moonshine. gi 

" \Vho ? " asked Trevor. 

" Our beautiful brides ! " exclaimed Maubray, a little 
mockingly. 

" It's a confounded world we live in," resumed Trevor, 
after a little silence. "Look at me, now, for instance, 
how we are, and all this belongs to me, and has been 
ours for goodness knows how many centuries and I 
assure you I sometimes feel I'd rather be a simple 
fellow with a few hundreds a-year, and my way to 
make in the world, and my liberty along with it, than all 
this." 

" Suppose we exchange," said William, " I'll take the 
estate off your hands, and allow you three hundred a- 
year, and your liberty, and wish you joy of the pleasant 
excitement of making your way in the world, and applaud 
when you get on a bit, and condole when you're in the 
mud." 

Trevor only smiled grandly, and shook his head at 
William's waggery. 

"But seriously, just consider. You know I'm telling 
you things, old fellow, that I wouldn t say to everyone, 
and this won't, I know, go further." He resumed after a 
little interval spent in smoking, " But just think now . 
here's everything, as you see ; but the estate owes some 
money ; and I give you my honour, it does not bring me 
in, net, when everything's paid, three thousand a-year." 

" Oh, no ! " said William, in a tone which uncon- 
sciously implied, "a great deal less, as we all know." 

"No, not three thousand I wish it was," said Trevor $ 
with an eager frankness, tnat savoured of annoyance. He 
had not intended to be quite believed. " And there's 
the position. You're expected to take a lead in things, 
you see, as if you had your six thousand a-year, egad, or 
whatever it is ; and how the devil are you to manage it ? 



92 All in the Dark. 

Don't you see ? And you tumble in love with a girl j and 
you find yourself encumbered with a pedigree a con- 
founded family tree, by Jove ! and everyone expects you 
to marry accordingly. And I don't say they're not right, 
mind, for, by Jove ! on the whole, I believe they are. 
So here I am with all this about me, and not a soul on 
earth to bully me, and yet I can't do as I like. I don't 
say, by Jove, that I do want to marry. I dare say it 
would not answer at all, at least for a jolly good number 
of years, and then I suppose, I must do as the rest of the 
world does. I must, you see, have some money, and I 
must have something of, you know, a a.famify; and 
that's how I stand. Come along, it's growing awfully 
late, and it's very likely ha ha ha ! I may die an 
old bachelor." 

"Well, you know," said William, who thought that 
Trevor had spoken with extraordinary good sense, 
" there's no such huriy. Fellows wait, as you say, and 
look about them : and it's a very serious thing, by Jove ! 
here we are at the gate ; and I've had a very pleasant 
evening -jolly / I did not think two fellows, by them 
selves, could be so jolly, and that capital claret ! " Poor 
William was no great judge, nor, for that matter, indeed, 
was his great friend, Mr. Trevor, who, however, knew 
its price, and laying his hand on William's arm, said 

"Well, old fellow, I'm glad I really am you en- 
joyed yourself; and I hope when next you come, you'l 
have another glass or two with me. There's one thing I 
sa'y about wine, be it what it may hang it, let it b< 
real, and get it from a good house ; and give my respect 
to the ladies don't forget ; and when you come agah 
we must have more croquet. Let the balls and mallet 
stay where they are, you know, till then ; and God bl< 
you, Maubray, old boy, and if I can give you a lift 



Moonshine. 93 

you know, any way, tell me, and I dare say my solicitor 
can give you a lift when you get to the bar. Sends out a 
lot of briefs, you know. I'll speak to him, if you 
wish." 

" A good time before that," laughed William. " Many 
thanks, though ; I suppose I shall turn up in a few weeks 
again, and I'm beginning to take to the croquet rather, 
and we can have lots of play ; but, by Jove ! I'm keep- 
ing you all night good-bye." 

So they shook hands, each thinking more highly of the 
other. I'm afraid our mutual estimates are seldom meta- 
physically justifiable. 

"Well," thought Trevor, as he smoked his way up hill 
to the house, "no one can say I have not spoken plain 
enough. I should not like to have to give up that little 
acquaintance. It's an awfully slow part of the world. 
And now they know everything. If the old woman was 
thinking about anything, this will put it quite out of her 
head ; and I can be careful, poor little thing ! It would 
be a devil of a thing if she did grow to like me." 

And with a lazy smile he let himself in, and had a 
little sherry and water, and Bell's Life in the drawing- 
room. 

William Maubray experienced an unaccountable ex- 
pansion of spirits and sympathies, as he strode along the 
pathway that debouches close upon the gate of Gilroyd 
Hall. Everything looked so beautiful, and so interest- 
ing, and so serene. He loitered for a moment to gaze 
on the moon : and ^collecting how late it was he rang 
at the bell fiercely, hoping to find Violet Darkwell still 
in the drawing-room. 

"Well, Tom, my aunt in the drawing-room?" said 
William, as he confided his coat and hat to that ir\ithful 
domestic. 



94 



All in the Dark. 



"Ay, Sir, she be." 

" And Miss Darkwell?'' 

" Gone up wi' Mrs. Winnie some time." 

"Oh, that's all right, nothing like early sleep for young 
heads, Tom : it's rather late," said William Maubray, 
disappointed, in a cheerful tone. 

So he opened the door, and found Aunt Dinah in the 
drawing-room. 





CHAPTER XVIII. 

SUPPER. 

|LIHU BUNG" was open upon the table, 
also the Bible; and in the latter volume, it is 
but fair to say, she had been reading as 
William rang the bell. With her pleasant smile of wel- 
come Miss Perfect greeted him. 

" Now, sit down, William, and warm yourself at the 
fire you are very cold, I dare say." 

" Oh, no : it's quite a summer night." 

" And, Thomas, tell Mrs. Podgers to send up some- 
thing for Master William's supper." 

Vainly William protested he could eat nothing; but 
Mrs. Podgers had been kept out of her bed an allusion 
which was meant to make him feel, too, his late return 
for the express purpose of broiling the bones with which 
he was to refresh himself; and Aunt Dinah, who had the 
military qualities strong within her, ordered Tom to obey 
her promptly. 

" Well, dear William, how did you like your dinner ? 
Everything very nice, I dare say. Had he anyone to 
meet you ? " 

"No, quite alone; everything very good and very 
pleasant a very jolly evening, ar,d Trevor very chatty 
chiefly about himself, of course." 



96 All in the Dark. 

Aunt Dinah looked at him with expectation, and Wil- 
liam, who understood her, was not one of those agreeable 
persons who love to tantalise their neighbours, and force 
them to put their questions broadly. 

"Violet has gone to bed ?" said William. 

" Oh, yes, some time." 

"Yes, 'so Tom said," pursued William. "Well, I've 
no great news about Trevor's suit ; in fact, I'm quite cer- 
tain there's nothing in it." 

Aunt Dinah's countenance fell. 

" And why ? " she enquired. 

" He mentioned her. He admires her he thinks her 
very pretty, and all that," said William. 

" I should think so," interposed Miss Perfect, with the 
scorn of one who hears that Queen Anne is dead. 

" But he made quite a long speech, at the same time I 
mean in continuation and there's nothing nothing sermis 
nothing whatever nothing on earth in it," concluded he. 

" But what did he say ? Come, try and remember. 
You are young, and don't know how reserved, and how 
hypocritical all lovers are ; they affect indifference often 
merely to conceal their feelings." 

" I hope she does not like him," began William. 

" I'm very sure she doesn't," interpolated Aunt Dinah 
rapidly; "no girl likes a man till she first knows that he 
likes her." 

" Because he took care to make it perfectly clear that 
he could not think of marrying her," added William. 

" Upon my life," exclaimed the old lady briskly, " re- 
markably civil ! To invite her cousin to dinner in order 
to entertain him with such an uncalled-for impertinence. 
And what did you say, pray ? " 

" He did not mention her, you see, in connection with 
all this," said William. 



97 

" Oh ! pooh ! then I dare say there's nothing in it," 
exclaimed Aunt Dinah, vigorously grasping at this straw. 

" Oh ! But there is, I assure you. He made a long 
speech about his circumstances," commenced William. 

" Well, surely he can afford to keep a wife," interrupted 
Dinah, again. 

"And the upshot of it was just this that he could not 
afford to marry without money a lot of money and rank." 

" Money and rank ! Pretty well for a young coxcomb 
like Mr. Vane Trevor, upon my word." 

This was perhaps a little inconsistent, for Aunt Dinah 
had of late been in the habit of speaking very highly of 
the young gentleman. 

" Yes, I assure you, and he said it all in a very pointed 
way. It was, you see, a kind of explanation of his posi- 
tion, and although there was nothing no actual connect- 
ing of it at all with Violet's name, you know he couldn't 
do that ; yet there was no mistaking what he meant." 

Aunt Dinah looked with compressed lips on a verse of 
the Bible which lay open before her. 

" Well, and what did he mean ? " she resumed defiantly. 
" That he can't marry Violet ! And pray who ever asked 
him ? I, for one, never encouraged him, and I can an- 
swer for Violet. And you always thought it would be a very 
disadvantageous thing for her, so young, and so extremely 
beautiful, as she unquestionably is ; and I really don't 
know anyone here who has the smallest reason to look 
foolish on the occasion." 

" Well, I thought I'd tell you," said William, tell you 
what he said, I mean." 

" Of course quite right ! " exclaimed she. 

" And there could be no mistake as to his intention. 
I know there isn't, and really, as it is so, I thought it rather 
honourable his being so explicit. Don't you?" said William. 



98 All in the Dark. 

"That's as it may be," said Aunt Dinah, oracularly 
shutting the Bible, and " Elihu Bung," and putting that 
volume on the top of the other; "young people nowa- 
days are fuller a great deal of duplicity and worldliness, 
than old people used to be in my time. That's my opin- 
ion, and home goes his croquet in the morning. I've no 
notion of his coming about here, with his simpering airs 
and graces, getting my child, I may call her, talked about 
and sneered at." 

" But," said William, who instinctively saw humiliation 
in anything that savoured of resentment, "don't you 
think any haste like that might connect in his view with 
what he said to me this evening ? " 

" At seven o'clock to-morrow morning, that's precisely 
what I wish," exclaimed Aunt Dinah. 

At this moment Tom entered with the bones and other 
good things, and William, with the accommodating ap- 
petite of youth, on second thoughts accepted and honoured 
the repast. 

"And, Thomas, mind at seven o'clock to-morrow 
morning, let Billy Willocks bring over those great ham- 
mers, and wooden balls, and iron things ; they're horribly 
in the way in the hall, with my compliments, to Reving- 
ton, to Mr. Trevor, and don't fail. He'll say Billy 
Willocks that they were forgotten at Gilroyd. At seven 
o'clock, mind, with Miss Perfect's compliments." 

" I'm very glad, on the whole," said Miss Perfect, after 
about a minute had elapsed, " that that matter is quite off 
my mind." 

William, who was eating his broiled drumstick, with 
diligence and in a genial mood, was agreeably abstracted, 
and made no effort to keep the conversation alive. 

" He talks very grandly, no doubt, of his family. But 
he'll hardly venture his high and mighty airs with you or 



Supper. 99 

me. The Maubrays are older than the Trevors; and, 
for my part, I would not change the name of Perfect 
with any in England. We are Athelstanes, and took the 
name of Perfect in the civil wars, as I've told you. As 
to family, William, you could not stand higher. You 
have, thank God, splendid talents, and, as I am satisfied, 
excellent indeed, magnificent prospects. Do you see 
much of your Cousin Winston at Cambridge ? " 

"Nothing," said William, who was, it must be con- 
fessed, a little surprised at his aunt's glowing testimony to 
his genius, and particularly to "his prospects," which he 
knew to be of a dismal character, and he conjectured that a 
supernatural light had been thrown upon both by Henbane. 
" Do you mean to say that Winston Maubray has not 
sought you out or showed you any kindness ? " 

" 1 don't need his kindness, thank goodness. He could 
not be, in fact, of the least use to me ; and I think he's 
ashamed of me rather." 

" Ha ! " ejaculated Aunt Dinah, with scorn. 
" I spoke to him but once in my life when Sir Richard 
came to Cambridge, and he and Winston called on Dr. 
Sprague, who presented me to my uncle," and William 
laughed. 
" Well ? " 

" Well, he gave me two fingers to shake, and that sort 
of thing, and he said, ' Winston, here's your cousin,' and 
just took my hand, with a sort of slight bow." 
" A bow ! Well a first cousin, and a bow I" 
" Yes, and he pretended not to know me next day at 
cricket. I wish he was anywhere else, or that no one 
knew we were connected." 

"Well, never mind. They'll be of use of immense 
use to you. I'll tell you how," said Aunt Dinah, nod- 
ding resolutely to William. 







CHAPTER XIX. 

DEBATE. 

|'D rather work my own way, auntie. It would 
be intolerable to owe them anything," said 
William Maubray. 

" I don't say Winston, but Sir Richard he can be of 
the most immense use to you, and without placing you 01 
me under the slightest obligation." 

This seemed one of Aunt Dinah's paradoxes, or of her 
scampish table's promises, and made a commensurate 
impression on William's mind. 

" You saw Doctor Wagget here yesterday ? " 

" I know yes the old clergyman, isn't he, who paid 
you a visit ? " 

" Just so : he is a very old friend very and thinks it 
a most desirable arrangement." 

11 What arrangement ? " 

" You shall see," interrupted Aunt Dinah. " One mo- 
ment's patience. I must first show you a paper to 
read." She walked over to a little japanned cabinet, and 
as she fumbled at the lock, continued, " And when you 
when you have read it you ah ! that's it when you 
have read it, I'll tell you exactly what I mean." 

So saying she presented a large official-looking envelope 
to William, who found that it contained a letter and a 



Debate. 101 

paper, headed " Extract from the will and testament of 
the late Sir Nathaniel Maubray, of Queen's Maubray ^ 
bearing date , and proved. &c., on , 1831." 

The letter was simply a courteous attorney's intimation 
that he enclosed herewith a copy, extract of the will, &c., 
as requested, together with a note of the expenses. 

The extract was to the following effect : 

" And I bequeath to my said son Richard the advowson 
of, and right of perpetual presentation to the living and 
vicarage of St. Maudlen of Caudley, otherwise Maudlin, 
in the diocese of Shovel-on-Headley, now absolutely 
vested in me, and to his heirs for ever, but upon the fol- 
lowing conditions namely, that if there be a kinsman, 
not being a son or stepson, of my said son or of his heir, 
&c., in possession, then, provided the said kinsman shall 
bear the name of Maubray, his father's name having been 
Maubray, and provided the said kinsman shall be in holy 
orders at the time of the said living becoming vacant, and 
shall be a good and religious man, and a proper person 
to be the incumbent of the said living, he shall appoint 
and nominate the said kinsman ; and if there be two or 
more kinsmen so qualified, then him that is nearest of 
kin ; and if there be two of equal consanguinity, then the 
elder of them ; and if they be of the same age, then either, 
at the election of the bishop." 

Then there was a provision that in case there were no 
such kinsman, the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral of 
Dawdle-cum- Drone should elect a cleric, being of the said 
diocese, but not of the said chapter, or of kin to anyone 
of the said chapter ; and that the said Richard or his 
heir, should nominate the person so elected. And it was 
also conditioned that his son Richard should procure, if 
practicable, a private Act of Parliament to make these 
conditions permanent. 



103 All in the Dark. 

" He must have been a precious odd old fellow, my 
grand-uncle, observed William, as he sheathed the docu- 
ment again in the envelope. 

"A conscientious man, anxious with due regard to 
his family to secure a good incumbent, and to prevent 
simony. The living is fifteen hundred a year, and there 
is this fact about it, that out of the seven last incumbents, 
three were made bishops. Three/" 

" That's a great many," said William, with a yawn. 

"And you'll make the fourth," said Aunt Dinah, 
spiritedly, and took a pinch of her famous snuff. 

"/?" repeated William, not quite believing his ears. 
" I am going to the bar." 

" Into the Church you mean, dear William." 

"But," remonstrated William, "but, I assure you, I, 
without a feeling of fitness in fact, I could not think 
of it." 

" Into the Church, Sir." Aunt Dinah rose up, and as 
it were, mounted guard over him, as she sternly spoke 
these words. 

William looked rather puzzled, and very much an- 
noyed. 

"Into the Church!" she repeated, with a terrible 
deliberation. 

" My dear aunt," William began. 

" Yes, the Church. Listen to me. I have reason to 
know you'll be a bishop. Now mind, William, I'll hear 
no nonsense on this subject. Hetibanel Is that what 
you mutter ? " 

"Well, speak out. What of Henbane? Suppose I 
have been favoured with a communication ; suppose I 
have tried to learn by that most beautiful and innocent 
communion, something of the expediency of the course I 
proposed, and have succeeded. What then ? " 



Debate. 103 

William did not answer the challenge, and after a brie* 
pause she continued 

" Come, come, my dear William, you know your poor 
old aunt loves you ; you have been her first, and very 
nearly her only object, and you won't begin to vex her 
now, and after all to break her heart about nothing." 

" But I assure you," William began. 

"A moment's patience," broke in Aunt Dinah, "you 
won't let me speak. Of course you may argue till dooms- 
day, if you keep all the talk to yourself. I say, William, 
there are not six peers in England can show as good 
blood as you, and I'll not hear of your being shut 
up in a beggarly garret in Westminster Hall, or the 
Temple, or wherever it is they put the the paltry 
young barristers, when you might and must have a 
bishopric if you choose it, and marry a peer's daughter. 
And choose what you will, / choose that, and into the 
Church you go; yes, into the Church, the Church, Sir, 
the Church ! and that's enough, I hope." 

William was stunned and looked helplessly at his aunt, 
whom he loved very much. But the idea of going into 
the Church, the image of his old friend Dykes, turned 
into a demure curate as he had seen him three weeks 
ago. The form of stout Doctor Dalrymple, with his 
pimples and shovel hat, and a general sense of simony 
and blasphemy came sickenly over him ; his likings, his 
conscience, his fears, his whole nature rose up against it 
in one abhorrent protest, and he said, very pale and in 
the voice of a sick man, gently placing his hand upon his 
aunt's arm, and looking with entreating eyes into hers : 

" My dear aunt, to go into the Church without any kind 
of suitability, is a tremendous thing, for mere gain, a 
dreadful kind of sin. I know I'm quite unfit. I could 
not." 



104 AM in tfa Dark. 

William did not know for how many years his aunt 
had been brooding over this one idea, how she had lived 
in this air-built castle, and what a crash of hopes and 
darkness of despair was in its downfall. But if he had, 
he could not help it. Down it must go. Orders were 
not for him. Deacon, priest, or bishop, William Maubray 
never could be. 

Miss Perfect stared at him with pallid face. 

" I tell you what, William," she exclaimed, " you had 
better think twice you had better " 

" I have thought indeed I have for Doctor Sprague 
suggested the Church as a profession long ago; but I 
can't. I'm not fit." 

" You had better grow fit, then, and give up your sins, 
Sir, and save both your soul and your prospects. It can 
be nothing but wickedness that prevents your taking 
orders holy orders. Mercy on us ! A blasphemy and 
a sin to take holy orders ! What sort of state can you 
be in?" 

" I wish to Heaven I were good enough, but I'm not. 
I may not be worse than a good many who go into the 
Church. Others may, but I couldn't." 

" You couldn't ! You conceited, young, provoking 
coxcomb ! As if the world were looking for miracles of 
piety from you ? Who on earth expects you to be one 
bit more pious than other curates who do their best? 
Who are you, pray, that anything more should be ex- 
pected from you ? Do your duty in that state of life to 
yhich it shall please God to call you. Thafs simple. 
We expect no more." 

" But that's everything," said William, with a hopeless 
shake of his head. 

" What's everything? I can't see. I don't com- 
prehend you. Of course there's a pleasure in crossing 



Debate. 105 

and thwarting me. But of let or hindrance to your enter- 
ing the Church, there is and can be none, except your 
secret resolution to lead a wicked life." 

" I'm not worse than other fellows. I'm better, I be- 
lieve, than many who do get ordained ; but I do assure 
you, I have thought of it before now, often, and it is 
quite out of the question." 

" You loorit ? " said Aunt Dinah, aghast, in a low tone, 
and she gaped at him with flashing eyes, her gold spec- 
tacles shut up, and tightly grasped like a weapon in her 
hand. He had never seen her, or anyone, look so 
pallid. And after a pause, she said slowly, in a very low 
tone 

" Once more, William yes or no." 

"My dear aunt, forgive me; don't be vexed, but I 
must say no," moaned poor William Maubray thus sorely 
pressed. 

Aunt Dinah Perfect looked at him in silence ; the same 
white, bright stare. William was afraid that she was on 
the point of having a fit. Who could have imagined the 
discussion of his profession so convulsive and frightful 
an ordeal ? 




CHAPTER XX. 

FAREWELL. 

|OR a minute or two, I think she could not speak; 
she closed her lips tightly, and pressed two of 
her ringers on them, perhaps to hide some 
tremor there; and she went and placed one of her 
slender feet on the fender, and looked steadfastly on the 
macerated countenance of the Very Rev. the Dean of 
Crutch Friars, who in his oval frame, over the chimney- 
piece, seemed to hear and endure William's perversities 
with the meekness of a good, sad, suffering Christian. 

Aunt Dinah sighed twice, two deep, long, laborious 
sighs, and tapped the steel of her stays ferociously with 
her finger tips. In his distress and confusion, William 
rose irresolutely. He would have approached her, but 
he feared that his doing so would but precipitate an ex- 
plosion, and he remained standing, with his fingers ey 
tended on the table as if on the keys of a piano, and 
looking wan and sad over his shoulder on the back of 
Aunt Dinah's natty old-fashioned cap. 

" Well, young gentleman, you have made up your 
mind, and so have I," said Aunt Dinah, abruptly return- 
ing to the table. "You go your own way. I shall not 
interfere in your concerns. I shall see your face no more 
never ! I have done with you, and depend upon it I 



Farewell. 107 

shan't change. I never change. I put you away fronr 
me. I wash my hands of you. I have done with you. 
I shall send a hundred pounds to Dr. Sprague, when you 
leave to-morrow, first to pay college expenses, and the 
balance you may take, and that ends all between us. I 
hate the world, ungrateful, stiff-necked, rebellious, heart- 
less. All I have been to you, you know. What you 
would have been without me, you also know, a beggar 
simply a beggar. I shall now find other objects. You 
are free, Sir, henceforward. I hope you may enjoy your 
liberty, and that you may never have reason to repent 
your perversity and ingratitude as bitterly as I now see 
my folly. Go, Sir, good-night, and let me see your face 
no more." 

William stood looking on his transformed aun'. ; he felt 
jis ears tingle with the insult of her speech, and a great 
ball seemed rising in his throat 

Her face was darkened by a dismal anger ; her look 
was hard and cold, and it seemed to him that the gates 
of reconciliation were closed against him for ever, and 
that he had come into that place of exclusion at whose 
entrance hope is left behind. 

William was proud, too, and sensitive. It was no 
equal battle. His obligations had never before been 
weighed against his claims, and he felt the cruel truth of 
Aunt Dinah's words beating him down into the dust. 

With her chin in the air, and averted gaze, she sat stiff 
and upright in her accustomed chair by the fire. William 
stood looking at her for a time, his thoughts not very 
clear, and a great vague pain throbbing at his heart. 
There was that in her countenance which indicated some- 
thing different from anger a cold alienation. 

William Maubray silently and softly left the room. 

" He thinks it will be all over in the morning but ne 



roS All in the Dark. 

does not know me" So thought Aunt Dinah, folding her 
cold hands together. " Gone to bed ; his last night at 
Gilroyd." 

Holding her mind stiffly in this attitude with a corre- 
sponding pose and look she sate, and in a minute more 
William Maubray entered the room very pale, his outside 
coat was on, and his hat in his hand. His lip trembled 
a little, and he walked very quickly to the side of her 
chair, laid his hand softly on her shoulder, and stooping 
down kissed her cheek, and without a word left the 
room. 

She heard the hall door open, and Tom's voice talking 
with him as their steps traversed the gravel, and the jar- 
ring sound of the iron gate on its hinges. " Good-night," 
said the well-known voice, so long beloved ; and " Good- 
night, Mr. William, good-night, Sir," in Tom's gruff voice, 
and a little more time the gate clanged, and Tom's lonely 
step came back. 

"He had no business to open the gate without my 
order," said Miss Perfect. 

She was thinking of blowing Tom up, but her pride 
prevented ; and, as Tom entered in reply to her bell, she 
asked as nearly as she could in her usual way 

" My nephew did not take away his trunk ? " 

"No, Mum." 

" He gave directions about his things, of course ? * 

" Yes, they're to follow, Mum, by the mornin' coach to 
Cambridge." 

" H'm ! very good ; that's all You had better get to 
your bed now. Good-night." 

And thus, with a dry and stately air, dismissed, he 
withdrew, and Aunt Dinah said, " I'm glad that's off my 
mind ; I've done right ; I know I have. Who'd have 
"But tiaere'i PO help, and I'm glad it's over." 



Farewell. 109 

Aunt Dinah sat for a long time in the drawing-room, 
uttering short sentences like these, from time to time. 
Then she read some verses in the Bible ; and I don't 
think she could have told you, when she closed the book, 
what they were about. She had thoughts of a seana 
with old Winnie Dobbs, but somehow she was not exactly 
in the mood. 

'' Master William is not in his room yet," observed that 
ancient domestic. 

"Marter William has gone to Cambridge to-night," 
said Miss Perfect, drily and coldly, "and his luggage 
follows in the morning. I can't find my nightcap." 

So old Winnie, though surprised, was nothing wiser 
that night respecting the real character of the movement. 
And Aunt Dinah said her prayers stiffly ; and, bidding 
old Winnie a peremptory good-night, put out her candle, 
and restated to herself the fact she had already frequently 
mentioned : " I have acted rightly ; I have nothing to 
regret. William will, I dare say, come to his senses, and 
recollect all he owes me." 

In the mean time, William, with no very distinct ideas, 
and only his huge pain and humiliation at his heart, 
trudged along the solitary road to Saxton. He sat down 
on the stile, under the great ash tree by the roadside, to 
gather up his thoughts. Little more than half an hour 
before, he had been so unusually happy ; and now, here 
he sat shipwrecked, wounded, and forlorn. 

He looked at his watch again. A dreadful three- 
quarters of an hour must elapse before the Cambridge 
coach would draw up at the Golden Posts, in High 
Street. Had he not better go on, and await its arrival 
there ? Yet what need he care ? What was it to him 
whether he were late or not ? In his outcast desperation 
he fancied he would rather like to wear out his shoes and 



no 



Att in the Dark, 



his strength in a long march to Cambridge. He would 
have like<? to lift his dusty hat grimly to Violet, as he 
strode footsore and cheerless on his way. But alas ! he 
was leaving Violet there, among those dark-tufted out- 
lines, and under the high steep roof whose edge he could 
just discern. There could be no chance meeting. Fare- 
well ! Back to Cambridge he was going, and through 
Cambridge into space, where by those who once liked 
him he should be found no more ; on that he was re- 
solved. 

So up he get again, without a plan, without a reason, 
as he had sat down ; and he lifted his hat, and, with ex- 
tended arm, waved his farewell toward Gilroyd. And the 
old ash tree looked down sadly, murmuring, in the fickle 
night breeze, over his folly. 




CHAPTER XXI. 

WILLIAM CONSULTS A SAGE. 

JTARTING afresh, at a pace wholly uncalled 
for by time or distance, William Maubray was 
soon in the silent street of Saxton, with the 
bright moonlight on one side of it, and the houses and 
half the road black in shadow on the other. 

There was a light in Doctor Drake's front parlour, 
which he called his study. The doctor himself was in 
evidence, leaning upon the sash of the window, which 
he had lowered, and smoking dreamily from a ''church- 
warden " toward the brilliant moon. It was plain that 
Miss Letty had retired, and, in his desolation, human 
sympathy, some one to talk to, ever so little, on his 
sudden calamity a friendly soul, who knew Aunt Dinah 
long and well, and was even half as wise as Doctor Drake 
was reputed to be, would be a God-send. He yearned 
to shake the honest fellow's hand, and his haste was tess, 
and subsided to a loitering pace, as he approached the 
window, from which he was hailed, but not in a way to 
make it quite clear what the learned physician exactly 
wanted. 

" I shay shizzy shizhte shizh-shizh-shizhte V V 
Viator, I shay," said the doctor playfully meaning, I 
believe, Siste Viator. 

And Doctor Drake's long pipe, like a shepherd's crook 



1*2 All in tfit Dark. 

was hospitably extended, so that the embers fell out on 
the highway, to arrest the wayfarer. So William stopped 
and said : 

" What a sweet night how beautiful, I'm so glad to 
find you still up, Doctor Drake." 

" Alwayzh all alwayzh up," said the Doctor, oracu* 
larly, smiling rather at one side of his cheek, and with 
his eyes pretty nearly closed, and his long pipe swaying 
gently, horizontally, over the trottoir; "you'll look 
insh'r pleashure acquaintensh." 

By this time the doctor, with his disengaged hand, had 
seized William's, and his pipe had dropped on the pave- 
ment, and was smashed. 

" Bl bloke bl boke ! " murmured the doctor, smil- 
ing celestially, with a little vague wave of his fingers to- 
ward the fragments of his churchwarden, from the bowl 
of which the sparks were flitting lightly along High Street. 
" Bio boke my p p phife ! " 

" I shay, ole boy, you come in," and he beckoned 
William, grandly, through the window. 

William glanced at the door, and the doctor, compre- 
hending, said, with awful solemnity : 

"All thingsh deeshenly in an in or or orrer, I 
shay. Come ole fellow wone ye ? toothe th' th' door 
sh'r an' you'll norr regresh no never." 

William, though not very sharp on such points, per- 
ceived that Doctor Drake had been making merry in his 
study; and the learned gentleman received him at the 
hall-door, laying his hand lovingly and grandly on his 
arm. 

" Howzhe th' th' ladle th' admir'bl' womr, over there, 
MishPerfek?" 

"My aunt is very well perfectly well, thanks," an- 
swered William. 



William Consults a Sage. 

"No lhangs I thang you sh'r I thang Prover'l!" 
and the doctor sank with a comfortable sigh, and his 
back against the wall, shaking William's hand slowly, and 
looking piously up at the cornice. 

" She's quite well, but I've something to tell you," said 
William. 

" Comic comle ong ! " said the doctor, encouraging- 
ly, and led the way unsteadily into his study. 

There was a jug of cold water, a " tumbler," and a 
large black bottle on the table, to which the doctor waved 
a gracious introduction. 

"Ole Tom, ole Tom, an' w wawr hizh dring the 
chryshle brook ! " 

The doctor was given to quotation in his cups, and 
this was his paraphrase of " The Hermit." 

"Thanks, no," said William; "I have had my glass 
long ago. I'm going back to Cambridge, Sir ; I'm going 
to make a push in life. I've been too long a burden on 
my aunt." 

" Admiral wom'le sh'r ! Wurle worry no wurrier 
ladle ! " (worthier lady ! I believe he meant) exclaimed 
the doctor, with growing enthusiasm. 

Contented with these evidences of mental vigour, Wil- 
liam, who must have spoken to the roadside trees, rather 
than refrain himself, proceeded to tell his woeful story 
to which Doctor Drake listened, clinging rather to the 
chimneypiece with his right hand, and in his left sustain- 
ing a large glass of his favourite " Old Tom " and water, 
a little of which occasionally poured upon the hearth- 
rug. 

"And, Doctor Drake, you won't mention what I'm 
going to say ? " 

The doctor intended to say, " silent as the sepulchre," 
but broke down, and merely nodded, funereally pointing 



r 14 All in the Dark. 

his finger perpendicularly toward the hearthstone ; and 
having let go his hold on the chimney, he made an in- 
voluntary wheel backward, and sat down quite unex- 
pectedly, and rather violently, in an elbow-chair. 

" You promise, really and truly, Sir ? " pressed Wil- 
liam. 

" Reel-reel-reelan'-#wtf/," repeated the doctor as nearly 
as he could. 

And upon this assurance William Maubray proceeded 
to state his case, and feeling relieved as he poured forth 
his wrongs, waxed voluble ; and the doctor sat and heard, 
looking like Solomon, and refreshing his lips now and 
again, as if William's oration paiched them. 

" And what, Sir, do you think I had best do ? " said 
William, not very wisely it must be owned, applying to 
Philip, certainly not sober for judgment. 

" Return to my duty ? " repeated William, interpreting 
as well as he could the doctor's somewhat vague articu- 
lation. "Why, I am certain I never left it. I have 
done all I could to please her; but this you know is 
what no one on earth could be expected to do what no 
one ought to do." 

" Wrong, sh'r ! " exclaimed the doctor with decision. 
" Thersh r r right, and th'rsh wrong r ry an' 
fyrong moshe admira'l ladle, Mish Perfeck ! moshe 
amiable ; we all appresheay sheniorib bush pie ri 
pie oribush ole Latt'n, you know. I 'preshiay an* 
twc Mish Perfey." 

Senioribus prioribus. There was a want of clearness, 
William felt, in the doctor's views ; still it weighed on 
dm that such as they were they were against him. 

u The principle on which I have acted, Sir, can't be 
shaken. If I were, at my aunt's desire, now to enter the 
Church, I should do so entirely from worldly motives, 



William Consults a Sage. IT$ 

which I know would be an impiety such as I could not 
endure to practise." 

" Conn'ry toop toop prinsh'p'l flwtfr'j conn'ry," 
murmured the doctor, with an awful shake to his head. 

The coach was now seen to pass the windows, with a 
couple of outside passengers, and a pile of luggage on 
top, and pulled up some sixty yards lower down the 
street, at the Golden Posts. With a hasty shake of the 
hand, William Maubray took his leave, and mounted to 
his elevated seat, as the horses, with their looped traces 
hanging by them, emerged from the inn-yard gate, like 
shadows, by the rapid sleight-of-hand of groom and 
hostler to replace the wayworn team, now snorting and 
shaking their flanks, with drooping necks, and emitting a 
white steam in the moonlight, as they waited to be led 
off to rest and comfort in the stables o f the Golden 
Posts. 





CHAPTER XXIL 

AN ADVERTISEMENT. 

|HILL was the night. The slight motion of the 
air was against them, and made a cutting 
breeze as they drove on. The gentleman who 
sat beside him in a huge cloak and fur cap, with several 
yards of cashmere swathing his throat and chin and 
chops, was taciturn, except when he offered William a 
cigar. 

The cold, dark, and solitude helped his depression 
and longing to see Dr. Sprague, to whom, in his help 
lessness, he looked for practical counsel. The way 
seemed more than usually long. There was one conclu- 
sion clearly fixed in the chaos of his thoughts. He had 
done with dependence. No matter to what level it 
might reduce him, he would earn his own bread. He was 
leaving Gilroyd Hall behind him, and all its dreams, to be 
dreamed no more. Perhaps there was in the surrounding 
gloom that romantic vista, which youth in its irrepressible 
hopefulness will open for itself. And William Maubray 
in the filmy perspective saw a shadow of himself as he 
would be a few years hence wealthy, famous, the out- 
cast restored, with the lawn and the chestnuts about him, 
and pretty old Gilroyd spreading its faint crimson gables 
and glittering window-frames behind, and old Aunt 



An Advertisement. 117 

Dinah, and another form in the foreground, all smiles 
and tears, and welcome. 

Poor fellow ! He knows not how few succeed how 
long it takes to make a fortune how the process trans- 
forms, and how seldom that kind of gilding touches any 
but white heads, and when the sun is near its setting, 
and all the old things past or passing away. 

In the morning William Maubray presented himself 
before Dr. Sprague, who asked him briskly " How is 
Miss Perfect?" 

" Quite well, Sir, thank you ; but but something very 
serious has happened very serious Sir, and I am very 
anxious to ask your advice." 

" Eh ! " said the doctor ; " wait a moment," and he 
quaffed what remained of his cup of tea, for William had 
surprised him at breakfast. "Hey? nothing very bad, 
I hope?" and the doctor put on his spectacles and 
looked in William's face, as a physician does into that of 
a patient, to read something of his case in his counten- 
ance. 

So William reported the great debate, and alas ! the 
division on the question of holy orders, to all which the 
good little man listened, leaning back in his chair, with 
leg crossed and his chin raised. 

" You're in the right, Sir/' he said, so soon as he had 
heard the young man out "perfectly. What do you 
wish me to do,? I'll write to Miss Perfect if you 
wish it." 

" Very kind of you, Sir ; but I'd ratner not, on that 
subject, at least till I'm quite out of the way. I should 
not wish her to suppose that I could seek to return to 
my old position of obligation I must never cost her a 
farthing more." 

So William explained his feelings fully and very can- 



n8 Allin the Dark. 

didly, and Doctor Sprague listened, and looked pleased 
'Jiough grave ; and, said he 

" You haven't been writing for any of the magazines, 
or that sort of thing ? " 

" No, he had no resource of that kind. He had a 
good deal of loose manuscript, he confessed with a blush, 
but he had no introduction. 

"Well, no," said Doctor Sprague, "you'd probably 
have a long wait, too long for your purpose. You have, 
you know, a trifle of your own, about twenty-three 
pounds a year, isn't it? " and he looked in the direction 
of his desk, where the memorandum was ; " something 
thereabout, that I received for you. There's a money 
order for eleven pounds and something in my desk 
since yesterday." 

" Don't you think, Sir, that I should apply that little 
annuity to pay back all I can to my aunt, who has been 
so good to me ? " 

" Tut-tut, your aunt would not accept a guinea, and 
would mistake your motive ; don't talk of any such 
thing. Her past affection is a matter of kindly recollec- 
tion. You could not reduce it to money no, no ; but 
on the whole I think you have resolved wisely. You 
must undertake, for a little, somethicg in the way of 
tuition ; I don't mean here. You're hardly well enough 
up in the business for that ; but we'll find out something 
here" and he tapped the Time>> vhich lay open on the 
table beside him, " I dare say, to suit you not a 
school, that would not do either a tutor in a country 
house. You need not stay away more than six months, 
and you'll have something to go on with then ; and in 
the meantime you can send your manuscripts round, and 
try if you can't get into some of the periodicals. 

y Jt is very odd, Sir, but some months since I spoke 



An Advertisement* 119 

/>f such a plan when I was at Gilroyd, and ir?y aunt 
was positively horrified ; she is full of fancies, you know 
and she told me that none of my family had ever done 
anything of the kind." 

" I don't know about that; but I've done it, I can teil 
you, and better men than I," said the doctor. 

" I only mean that she made such a point of it j she 
\vould think I had done it expressly to vex her, or 
she might come wherever I was, and try to make me 
leave it." 

" So she might," said the cleric, and laughed a little to 
himself, for he knew her, and fancied a scene, " but what 
can you do ? I think you must, in fact, and the best way 
will be to tell her nothing about it. She has cut you, 
you know, for the present, and you need not, if you 
think it would vex her, go in your own name, do you 
see? We'll call you Mr. Herbert, you're descended 
maternally, you know, from Herberts ; now not for a 
moment, now, just hear me out : there shall be no decep- 
tion, of course. I'll tell them that for certain family 
reasons I have advised you to take that measure. I'll 
take it all on myself, and say all I think of you, and 
know of you, and I saw, just now, in this very paper, 
something that I think would answer very nicely. Yes, 
yes, I'll make it all quite straight and easy. But you 
must do as I say." 

The kind little gentleman was thinking that eccentric 
and fierce Miss Perfect might never forgive his engaging 
himself as a tutor, without at least that disguise, and he 
looked forward as he murmured varium et mutabile 
semper, to a much earlier redintegratio amoris than 
William dreamed of. 

" It's unlucky her having made a point of it. But 
what is the poor fellow to do ? She must not, however, 



I2O All in the Dark. 

be offended more than we can help and that will show a 
wish, as far as was practicable, to consult her feelings." 

Doctor Sprague looked along a column in the Times > 
and said he, after his scrutiny 

" I think there's just one of these you'll like say 
which you prefer, and I'll tell you if it's the one I 
think." 

So William conned over the advertisements, and, in 
Aunt Dinah's phrase, put on his considering cap, and 
having pondered a good while, " This one, I think ? " he 
half decided and half inquired. 

" The very thing ! " said Dr. Sprague, cheerily. " One 
boy country-house just the thing ; he'll be in his bed 
early, you know, and you can take your books and write 
away till twelve at night; and now you had better drop 
them a line or stay, I'll do it; you can't sign your 
name, you know." 

So, communications being opened, in a day or two it 
turned out that Doctor Sprague knew the gentleman who 
advertised. It was a very old and long interrupted 
acquaintance. 

"He's a quiet, kind fellow, and Kincton Hall, they 
say, a pretty place and old. I'll write to Knox." 

The Knoxes of Kincton Hall William had heard 
Trevor occasionally mention, but tried in vain to re- 
collect what he used to say of them ; six months, how- 
ever, was no great venture, and the experiment could 
hardly break down very badly in that time. 

" Maubray, your cousin, has quarrelled with his father, 
you heard ? " 

" No." 

" Oh, yes, just about the time when you left this a 
few days ago. Young Maubray has some little property 
from his mother, and chooses to take his own way ; a 



. 



An Advertisement. 121 

Sir Richard was here with me yesterday, very angry and 
violent, poor man, and vows (the doctor would not say 
" swears " which would have described the procedure 
more accurately) he'll cut him off with a shilling ; but 
that's all moonshine. The estates are under settlement! 
and the young fellow knows it, and that's at the bottom 
of his independence ; and he's gone abroad, I believe, 
to amuse himself: and he has been no credit to hia 
college, from all I hear." 





CHAPTER XXJII. 

KINCTON HALL. 

|N th^ parlour of Kincton Hall the family were 
assembled at breakfast; Mrs. Kincton Knox 
du pensed tea and coffee in a queenlike way 
hardly called for, seeing that her husband, daughter, and 
little son, formed the entire party. 

Mrs. Kincton Knox was what some people call a clever 
woman that is^she did nearly everything with an object, 
but somehow she had not succeeded. Mr. Kincton Knox 
was not deputy lieutenant or a member for his county. 
Her daughter Clara with blue eyes and golden hair a 
handsome girl, now leaning back in her chair and looking 
listlessly through the window across the table was ad- 
mitted confidentially to be near five-and-twenty, and was 
in fact past eight-and-twenty, and unmarried still. There 
was not that intimacy between the Croydon family and 
the Kincton Knoxes for which she had laboured so 
cleverly and industriously. She was not among the 
patronesses, and only one of the committee, of the great 
county ball, at which the Prince figured, and which, on 
the plea of illness, she had with proper dignity declined 
attending. She blamed her daughter, she blamed her 
husband, she blamed the envy and combination of neigl 
bours, for her failures. There was nothing that the 
and industry of women could dc she had not done. Sh< 



Kincton Hall. 123 

was the best bred and most far-seeing woman in the 
country round, radiant with a grave sort of fascination, 
always in supreme command, never for a moment losing 
sight of her object, yet, great or small, somehow never 
compassing it a Vanderdecken, thwarted invisibly, and 
her crew growing old around her. Was ever admirable 
woman so persecuted by fortune ? 

Perhaps if the accomplished Mrs. Kincton Knox had 
been some twenty years before bereft of her brilliant in- 
tellect and shut up in a remote madhouse, or consigned 
under an unexceptionable epitaph to the family vault in 
Smolderton Church, the afflicted family might have pros- 
pered ; for Miss Clara was really pretty, and could draw 
and sing better than most well-married young ladies of 
her rank in life. And, though he was not very bright, no 
man was more inoffensive and genial than portly old 
Kincton Knox, if only she had permitted his popularity 
to grow, and had left him and his belongings a little to 
nature. 

" Hollo ! What are those fellows doing ? " exclaimed 
Kincton Knox, attracted by a sound of chopping frorr, 
without. " Hollo ! ho ! " and with his arms extended, 
he made a rush at the window, which he threw up, shout- 
ing, " Hollo there ! stop that." 

A man stood erect with an axe in his hand, by the 
trunk of one of the great walnut trees. 

" What the devil are you doing, Sir, cutting down my 
trees ! " cried the old gentleman, his handsome face 
flushed with wrath, and his silver fork, with a bit of ham 
on the end of it, grasped fiercely in his left hand. " Who 
the devil ordered you, Sir, to to how pow cut down 
my trees, Sir ? " 

" I've spoken to you till I'm tired, Kincton, abouJ 
that tree ; it bur e* us in perfect damp and darkness," 



124 All in the Dart. 

began the dignified lady in purple silk, and lace 
coif. 

" Don't you presume, Sir, to cut down a tree of mine 
without my orders ; don't you dare Sir ; don't don't at- 
tempt it, Sir, or it will be worse for you j take that hatchet 
away, Sir, and send Wall the gardener here this moment, 
Sir, to see what can be done, and I've a mind to send 
you about your business, and egad if I find you've injured 
the tree, I will too, Sir ; send him this moment ; get out 
of my sight, Sir." 

It was not more than once in two years that Mr. 
Kincton Knox broke out in this way, and only on ex- 
traordinary and sudden provocation. He returned to 
the table and sat down in his chair, having shut the 
windows with an unnecessary display of physical force. 
His countenance was red and lowering, and his eyes still 
staring and blinking rapidly, and his white waistcoat 
heaving, and even the brass buttons of his blue coat 
uneasy. You might have observed the tremulous shuffle 
of his fingers as his fist rested on the tablecloth, while he 
gazed through the window and muttered and puffed 
the agitation of his chops. 

Upon such unusual occasions Mrs. Kincton Knox was 
a little alarmed and even crestfallen. It was a sudden 
accession of mania in an animal usually perfectly docil< 
and therefore it was startling, :-ird called not for chasth 
ment so much as management 

" I may be permitted to mention, now that there's 
little quiet, that it was I who ordered that tree to be n 
moved of course if it makes you violent to take it down, 
let it stand ; let the house be darkened and the inhabitanl 
take the ague. I've simply endeavoured to do what 
thought right. I'm never thanked ; I don't expect thanks; 
I hope I know my duty, and do it from higher motives 



Kincton Hall. 125 

But this 1 know, and you'll see it when I'm in my grave, 
that if it were not for me, every single individual thing 
connected with you and yours would be in a state of the 
most inextricable neglect and confusion, and I may say 
ruin." 

" I object to the place being denuded. There is not 
much in that," blustered Mr. Kincton Knox, plaintively. 

He was now subsiding ; and she, availing herself of 
this frame of mind, proceeded with even more force, and 
dignity, till interrupted by Miss Clara, who observed 
serenely 

" Mamma, that greedy little pig will choke himself with 
apricot-stones, if you allow him." 

Master Howard Seymour Knox a stunted and bilious 
boy scowled at Miss Clara, with muddy eyes, his mouth 
being too full for convenient articulation, and clutched 
his plate with both hands. 

" My precious rosebud, be careful," remonstrated his 
mamma with gentle fervour. 

Stooping over his plate, a clatter of fruit-stones was 
heard upon it, and Master Howard ejaculated 

" You lie, you do, you tell-tale tit ! " 

" Oh ! my love," remonstrated Mrs. Kincton. 

" Briggs shall box your ears for that, my fine fellow," 
said Miss Clara. 

" There's another cram ! I'd like to see her," retorted 
the youth. 

" Greedy little beast ! " observed Clara. 

" Clara, my love ! " suggested her mamma. 

" Not half so greedy as you. Who took the woodcock 
pie up to her bed-room ? Ah-ha ! " vociferated the young 
gentleman. 

"Now I'll do it myself! " exclaimed the languid young 
lady, rising with sudden energy. 



126 All in the Dark. 

" I'll fling these in your ugly face, if you come near me," 
cried he, jumping up, and behind his mamma's chair, 
with a knife and fork in his right hand covered with 
Savory pie. 

" I won't have this ; I won't have it," said Mrs, Kincton 
Knox with peremptory dignity. " Howard, be quiet, my 
love ; Clara, sit down." 

" The imp ! he'll never stop till he murders some one," 
exclaimed Miss Clara, with intense feeling, as she sat 
down with brilliant cheeks and flashing eyes. " Look at 
him, mamma ; he's saying ha-ha, and shaking his knife 
he struck at me, the little murderer ; and the liar ! " 

" Clara, I insist," interposed Mrs. Kincton Knox. 

" Yes, I do believe he's an actual devil," persisted the 
young lady. 

" I won't have this," continued the mater familias, 
peremptorily. 

" Ha, ha ! " whispered the imp obliquely, from the othc 
side, wagging his head, and clutching his knife and fork, 
while he touched the points of the fork, with a horrk 
significance, with the finger-tip of his disengaged hand. 

Miss Clara raised her hand, and opened her mouth tc 
exclaim ; but at this moment the servant entered with 
letters, and the current of conversation was diverted. 




CHAPTER XXIV. 

WILLIAM IS SUMMONED. 

|RS. KINCTON KNOX had no less than seven 
notes and letters, her husband one, and Miss 
Clara two crossed manuscripts, which engrossed 
her speedily ; and, possibly, these figures would have in- 
dicated pretty accurately their relative influence in the 
household. 

The matron deigned no account of her letters to mortal 
and exacted from all others an habitual candour in this 
respect ; and so much had it grown to be a matter of con- 
science with her husband, that I don't think he could 
have slept in his bed if he had failed to submit any one 
such communication to her inspection. 

Her own were now neatly arranged, one over the other, 
like the discarded cards in piquet, beside her plate. 

" Well, my dear, what is it ? " she said to her husband, 
accompanying the inquiry with a little motion, like a 
miniature beckoning, of her fore-finger. 

" Something about the Times the tutor," he began. 

" Oh ! " said Mrs. Kincton Knox, interrupting, with a 
warning nod and an awful look, and a glance at Master 
Howard, who was fortunately so busy in tying bits of 
paper, in imitation of a kite-tail, on the string of the 
window-blind, that he had heard nothing. 



128 All in the Dark. 

" Oh 1 " murmured Mr. Kincton Knox, prolonging the 
interjection softly he was accustomed, with a guilty and 
abject submission, every now and then, to receive that 
sort of awful signal " I did not know." And he 
whistled a little through his round mouth, and looked a 
little frightened, and ashamed of his clumsiness, though 
he seldom knew in what exactly the danger consisted. 

" Howard, my precious rosebud, I've told Rogers he 
may fire the pistol for you three times this morning ; he 
says he has powder, and you may go now." 

So away ran Master Howard to plague Rogers 
the footman; and Mrs. Kincton Knox said with a 
nod, 



" Here," said he mildly, pushing the letter towards her, 
"yottll understand it better ; " and she read aloud 

" MY DEAR SIR, I venture to renew an old acquaint- 
ance at the instance of a young friend of mine, who has 
seen your advertisement in the Times for a tutor, and 
desires to accept that office. He is capitally qualified, as 
your advertisement says, ' to prepare a boy of twelve for 
school.' He is a fair scholar, and a gentleman, and for 
his character, I can undertake to answer almost as for my 
own. I feel pretty certain that you will like him. There 
is but one condition, to which I am sure you will not 
object." 

" He shan't smoke or sit up all night, if that's it," said 
the lady loftily, by way of gloss. 

" He and I agree," she read on, " that he should be 
received under the name of William Herbert." This 
paragraph she read twice over very deliberately. " As I 
have pressed upon him, for reasons which, you will readily 
believe, are not dishonourable what strikes me as a 



William is Summoned. 129 

strong objection to his accepting the position you offer 
under his own name." 

"That's very odd, it strikes me. Why shouldn't he tell 
his name?" observed Mrs. Kincton Knox, with grim 
curiosity. 

" I dare say he's a low person, and his name is not 
pretty," sneered Miss Clara, carelessly. 

"Who is that Mr. Edmund? Edward Sprague?" in- 
quired the matron. 

Mr. Kincton Knox testified to his character. 

" But, just stop a moment it is very odd. Why should 
he be, if he is a fit person to be received at Kincton 
why should he be ashamed of his name ? " repeated Mrs. 
Kincton Knox, grandly. 

" Perhaps it may be as well to let it drop," suggested 
Kincton Knox, in the hope that he was anticipating 
his wife's wishes. But that grave lady raised her nose 
at his remark, and turned away, not vouchsafing an 
answer. 

" Of course ; I don't say it is not all quite proper ; but 
say what you may, and take it how you please, it is a very 
odd condition." 

There was a pause here. Clara did not care enough 
to engage in the discussion, and old Kincton Knox rum- 
pled his Times uneasily, not knowing whether he was 
called on for a solution, and not caring to hazard one, for 
he was seldom lucky. 

" Well, and what do you propose to do ? " demanded 
his wife, who thus sometimes cruelly forced the peaceable 
old gentleman into debate. 

" Why," said he, cautiously, " whatever you think best, 
my dear." 

" I'm not likely to receive much assistance from you, Mr, 



130 All in the Dark. 

Kincton Knox. However, provided I'm not blamed fot 
doing my best, and my servants stormed at for obeying 
me " 

Mr. Kincton Knox glanced unconsciously and peni- 
tently at the walnut tree. 

I suppose, as something must be done, and nothing 
will be done otherwise, I may as well take this trouble 
and responsibility upon myself." 

" And what am I to say to Sprague ? " murmured Mr. 
Kincton Knox. 

"I suppose the young man had better come. Mr. 
Sprague, you say, is a proper person, and I suppose we 
may rely upon what he says; I hope so, I'm sure, and, 
if he does not answer, why he can go about his busi- 
ness." 

In due course, therefore, Mr. Kincton Knox's reply, 
which he had previously read aloud to his wife, was de- 
spatched. 

So Fate had resolved that William Maubray should 
visit Kincton Hall, while Aunt Dinah was daily expect- 
ing the return of her prodigal to Gilroyd. 

" If I don't hear from William Maubray before Sunday, 
I shall write on Monday morning to Doctor Sprague," 
said she, after a long silence at breakfast. 

She looked at Violet, but the young lady was looking 
on the cloth, and with her finger-tips stirring hither and 
thither some flowers that lay there not her eyes, only 
her long eyelashes were visible and the invitation to 
say something conveyed in Aunt Dinah's glance, mis- 
carried 

" And I think it very strange not what I should have 
expected from William that he has not written. I don'l 
mean an apology, that's a matter between his own con- 
science and his Maker I mean some little inquiry. 



William is Summoned. 131 

Affection, of course we cannot command, but respect and 
courtesy we may." 

"I had thought better of William. I think Doctor 
Sprague will be surprised," she resumed. "I did not 
think he could have parted on the terms he did, and 
never written a line after for nearly a week. He seems 
to me quite a changed person." 

" Just at that age," said Miss Violet, in a low tone, 
looking nearer to her flowers, and growing interested in a 
rose whose rumpled leaves she was adjusting with her 
finger-tips, " some one says I read it lately somewhere 
I forget who they grow weary of home and home 
faces, and want change and adventure, that is action and 
danger, of one kind or another, what they are sent into 
the world for, I suppose that and liberty." She spoke 
very low, as if to her flowers, and when she ceased Miss 
Perfect, rinding she had no more to say, added 

" And a wise business they make of it fifty blunders 
in as many days, and begin looking out for wives before 
they know how to earn a guinea." 

Violet looked up and smiled, and popped her rose 
gently into the water glass beside her, and went on ad- 
justing her flowers. 

" Wives, indeed ! Yes just what his poor father did 
before him, and his grandfather, old Sir Everard, he was 
married, privately, at twenty ! It runs in the blood, my 
dear, like gaming or drinking : and the next I shall hear 
of William, I dare say, will be a note to ask my blessing 
on his marriage ! " 

Again Miss Violet laughed softly, and smiling fora 
moment, with a pretty slip of verbena in her fingers, she 
added it to the growing bouquet in the glass. 

" You may laugh, my dear, but it is what I'm afraid o 
I assure you I am serious." 



132 All in the Dark. 

u But it may turn out very happy, or very splendid, you 
know ; he may meet with a young lady more foolish than 
himself, and with a great dot." 

" No, my dear, he's a soft, romantic goose, and I really 
think if it were not imprudent, the romance would lose all 
*ts attraction. I tell you, it runs in the family, and he's 
not a bit wiser than his father, or his grandfather before 
him." 

" This will never do without a bit of blue. May I run 
out to the flowers ? " 

"Certainly, dear;" and Aunt Dinah peered through 
her spectacles at the half made-up bouquet in the glass. 

" Yes, it does it wants blue. Isn't there blue ver- 
bena?" 

And away ran Violet, and her pretty figure and gay 
face flitted before the windows in the early sun among the 
flowers. And Aunt Dinah looked for a moment with a 
smile and a sigh. Perhaps she was thinking of the time 
when it was morning sun and opening flowers for her, and 
young fellows one of whom, long dead in India, was 
still a dream for her used to talk their foolish flatteries, 
that sounded like muffled music in the distant air ; and 
she looked down dreamily on the back of her slim 
wrinkled hand that lay on the table. 




CHAPTER XXV. 

W. MAUBRAY ARRIVES. 

| HEN, a few days later, Maubray, who was a shy 
man, stepped down from his fly, as the vehicle 
which conveyed him from the neighbouring 
railway station, though it more resembled a snail, was 
called, and found himself under the cold, gray, Ionic 
colonnade which received people at Kincton, with a dis- 
mal and exclusive hospitality, his heart sank, a chilly 
shadow descended upon him, and in the silent panic of 
the moment he felt tempted to re-enter the vehicle, return 
to Dr. Sprague, and confess that he wanted nerve to fulfil 
his engagement. 

William was conducted through the hall, up the great 
stairs, over a sombre lobby and up a second and narrower 
stair, to a gallery cold and dim, from which his room dooi 
opened. Upon this floor the quietude of desertion 
reigned. He looked from his low window into a small 
courtyard, formed on three sides by the house itself, and 
on the fourth by a rear of the offices, behind which a thick 
mass of autumnal foliage showed itself in the distance 
The circumscribed view was dreary and formal. Ho\* 
different from homely, genial old Gilroyd ! But that was 
a dream, and this reality; and so his toilet proceeded 
aapidly, and he descended, looking by no means like a 



j 5 4 AM in the Dark. 

threadbare dominie, but handsome and presentable, and 
with the refinement of his good birth and breeding in his 
features. 

"Can I see Mr. Kincton Knox?" inquired William of 
the servant in the hall. 

" I'll inquire, Sir," and William was left in that tesse- 
lated and pillared apartment, while the servant entered 
his master's study, and speedily returning, informed him 
with a superciliousness which was new to William, and 
decidedly uncomfortable, that he might enter. 

It was a handsome study, stored with handsome books 
and sundry busts, one of the deceased Horace Kincton 
Knox, in porphyry, received William on a pedestal near 
the door, and looked alarmingly like a case of small-pox. 

The present master of Kincton, portly, handsome, 
though threescore years had not passed over him in vain, 
with a bald forehead, and a sort of simple dignity, as 
William fancied, rose smiling, and came to meet him with 
his hand extended, and with a cordial glow about him, as 
jiough he had known him for years. 

" You are very welcome, Sir very happy to see you 
\ ery happy to make your acquaintance ; and how is my 
good friend, Sprague ? a very old friend of mine, though 
we have dropped out of sight a good deal; and I corre- 
spond very little, so we lose sight of one another ; but he's 
well, and doing well too ? I'm very happy to see you." 

There was something homely and reassuring in this 
kind old man, which was very pleasant to William. 

" Doctor Sprague was very well when I left him, and 
gave me this note, Sir, for you," replied William, present- 
ing it to his host, who took it, and glanced at it as they 
stood on the hearthrug together j and as he read it, he 
observed : 

" Very cold the weather is, very cold at this time of 



W. Maubray Arrives. 135 

year. You've had a cold drive. Not had luncheon yet ? 
Two o'clock, you know : yes, about a quarter to two now, 
in a quarter of an hour." 

He had by this time laid Doctor Sprague's note on the 
table. 

" And the little boy, Sir, where is he ? " suggested Wil- 
liam. 

" Oh, oh ! little Howard ! I suppose we shall see him 
at lunch." 

" I should wish very much to hear any directions or 
suggestions, and to know something as to what he has 
been doing," said William. 

" Very true very right, Mr. Mr.," and old Kincton 
Knox groped towards the note, intending to refresh his 
memory. 

"Herbert" interposed William, colouring a little. 
"Doctor Sprague made a point of the name, and I 
believe, Sir, wrote particularly about it." 

"Quite so very right, Sir. It is Herbert. I quite 
approve quite, Sir ; and about the boy. The fact is, Mr. 
Herbert, I leave him very much to his mother. She can 
tell you much more what he has been doing very young, 
you know, still and and she'll tell you all about him ; 
and I hope you will be happy, I'm sure ; and don't fail 
to tell the people whatever you want, you know ; I live 
very much to myself quiet room this fond of books, I 
suppose ? Well, I shall be always very happy to see you 
here ; in fact it will be a great pleasure. We may as 
well sit down, do, pray ; for you know ladies don't care 
very much for this sort of reading ; " and he waved his 
short white hand towards the bookcases; "and some- 
times one feels a little lonely ; and Sprague tells me you 
have a turn for reading." 

The door opened, and a servant announced that Mrs, 



136 Attin the Dark. 

Kincton Knox wished to see Mr. Herbert in the school- 
room. 

" Ho ! " exclaimed the master of Kincton, with a grave 
countenance and a promptitude which savoured of dis- 
cipline. " Well, at lunch I shall see you, Mr. Herbert ; 
we'll meet in ten minutes or so ; and, Edward, you'll show 
Mr. a Herbert to the school-room." 

Acioss the hall was he conducted, to a room in which 
were some sporting prints and two dingy oil paintings of 
"sometime," favourite hunters who sniffed and heard 
their last of field and bugle a century ago. There were 
also some guns and fishing rods ; and, through this to the 
school-room, where Mrs. Kincton Knox, in purple silk, 
witli a turban on her head, loomed awfully before him as 
he entered, and made him a slight and rustling courtesy, 
which rather warned him off than greeted him. 

" Mr. a a Herbert ? " said the lady of the promi- 
nent black eyes, with a lofty inquiry. 

" I a Doctor Sprague told me he had written very 
fully about the the," stammered William, who began to 
feel like a concealed ticket-of-leave man. 

"The name, yes" said Mrs. Kincton Knox, looking 
steadily on him, and then ensued a silence. 

" He informed me that having explained the circum- 
stances fully, and also that it was his not my particular 
wish, you had seen no difficulty in it," said William. 

"Difficulty none there can be no difficulty when 
there's no constraint," replied Mrs. Kincton Knox, laying 
down a metaphysical axiom, as she sometimes did, which 
William could not quite clearly understand; "and al- 
though I have always maintained the position that 
where there's mystery there is guilt; yet feeling a con- 
fidence in Doctor Sprague's character and profession 
of both of which Mr. Kincton Knox happened to know 



W. Maubray Arrives. 137 

something we have endeavoured to overcome our ob- 
jection." 

"I understood there was no objection," interposed 
William, flushing. 

" Pray allow me. An objection satisfied is not neces- 
sarily an objection foregone ; in this case, however, you 
are at liberty to treat it in that light. We waive our ob- 
jection, and we have every reasonable confidence that we 
shall not have occasion to repent having done so." 

This was spoken graciously and condescendingly, for 
she thought that a person who looked so decidedly like a 
gentleman would rather conduce to the dignity of the 
Kincton " household." But it did not seem to strike the 
young man at all in that light. 

" You are about, Mr. a Sir, to undertake the charge 
of my precious child sensitive, delicate too delicate 
and too impressionable to have permitted his making all 
the progress I could have wished in the rudiments you 
understand of future education and accomplishment ; a 
little wild, but full of affection, and of natural docility 
but still unused from the causes I have mentioned to 
restraint or coercion. Your duty will therefore be a deli- 
cate one. I need not say that nothing of the nature of 
punishment will be permitted or endured. You will bear 
in mind the illustration of the sacred writer the sun and 
the tempest, and the traveller's cloak." At this point 
William coughed slightly into his handkerchief. " Mild 
influences, in my mind, effect more than ever was accom- 
plished by harshness ; and such is the system under 
which our precious Howard must learn. Am I under- 
stood?" 

" Quite," said William. " I should not myself under- 
take the task of punishing any child ; but I am afraid, 
unless the parents are prepared to pull him up now and 



138 All in the Dark. 

thei ior idleness or inattention, you will find his progress 
far from satisfactory." 

x That is a question quite for them" said Mrs. Kincton 
Knox, in her queenlike way. 

William bowed. 

" What I want chiefly in a person in a gentleman in 
your capacity is that he shall begin to my precious 
child shall begin to associate with a superior mind, and 
imbibe rather by contact than task-work. Do I make 
myself clear? The a the you know, of course, the 
kind of thing." 

William did not apprehend quite so clearly the nature 
of his duties as he would have wished, but said nothing. 

"You and he will breakfast with us at half-past nine. 
I regret I cannot ask you to lunch. But you and Howard 
will dine at three o'clock in this room, and have tea and 
any little thing that Mrs. Ridgeway, the housekeeper, 
may send you at six. The boy goes to his bed at half- 
past nine, and I conclude you already know your own 
room." 

" And where is my pupil ? " inquired William. 

Mrs. Kincton Knox rang the bell. " He shall be with 
you presently, Mr. Herbert, and you will please to bear in 
mind that the dear boy's health is just at present our first 
object, and that he must not be pressed to study more 
than he wishes." 

Master Howard Seymour Knox entered, eyeing the 
tutor suspiciously and loweringly. He had, perhaps, 
heard" confidently of possible canir.gs, and viewed. Wil- 
liam Maubray with a sheepish kind of malevolence. 




CHAPTER XXVI. 

WILLIAM MAUBRAY BEGINS TO EXCITE AN INTEREST. 

1HERE was positively nothing to interest William 
Maubray in his pupil, and a great deal to irri- 
tate and disgust him. What can be more 
sterile than the nature of a selfish child spoiled by in- 
dulgence. It was one comfort, however, that he was not 
expected to accomplish a miracle, that is, to teach a boy 
who had the option of learning nothing, and often for 
two hours or more at a time he was relieved altogether 
of his company, when he went out to drive with Mrs. 
Kincton Knox, or to have a ride on his pony with the 
groom. 

But the monotony and solitude grew dreadful. At 
breakfast he sat with, but not of, the party. Except, 
indeed, the kindly old gentleman, who lived in a monas- 
tic seclusion among his books and trees and flowers, and 
to whom William's occasional company was a cheer and 
a happiness, no one at the breakfast table seemed, after 
the first slight and silent salutation was over, conscious of 
his presence. 

Miss Clara and her mamma talked of matters that in- 
terested them their neighbours, and the fashions and 
the peerage, and even the furniture, as if William were a 
picture, or nothing at all. 



I4C All in tJie Dark. 

He could not fail, notwithstanding his exclusion, to 
perceive that Clara was handsome very handsome, in- 
deed quite a brilliant blonde, and with that confident 
and haughty air of was it fashion was it blood was it 
the habit of being adored with incense and all sorts of 
worship he could not tell. He only knew that it be- 
came her, and helped to overpower him. 

We are not to suppose that all this time female curio- 
sity at Kincton slumbered and slept over such a problem 
as William Maubray. Treat him how they might in his 
presence, he was a topic both of interest and inquiry in 
his absence. The few letters that reached him afforded 
no clue ; they were addressed with uniform exactitude to 
" W. Herbert, Esq." The books he had brought with 
him to Kincton contributed no light; for William had 
not inscribed his name in his books. Miss Clara's maid ? 
who was intensely interested in the investigation, brought 
a pocket-handkerchief of the tutor's to her young mis- 
tress's room, where both she and her mamma conned 
over the initials " W.M." in a small but florid arabesque 
in the corner. It was, no doubt, a condescension such as 
William ought to have been proud of. 

" There's five on 'em so, Miss the rest unmarked, and 
nothing else marked, except three old shirts." 

" Why, you goose, what can I care ? " laughed Miss 
Clara. " I'm not his nurse, or his seamstress. Take it 
away this moment. What a pretty discussion ! " 

This "W.M.," however, was not without its interest, 
and two days later the maid exhibited an old copy of 
Feltham's "Resolves," abstracted from William's littl( 
file of books, with " William Martin " neatly inscribed on 
the fly-leaf, but in a hand so quaint and anciem, and 
with ink so brown, that even Miss Clara " pooh-poohed * 
the discovery. 



William Begins to Excite an Interest. 141 

Now, the young lady could not help in some sort re- 
quiting William's secret estimate of her good looks. She 
thought the young tutor decidedly handsome; in fact, 
there could be no question about it. He was well 
formed too ; and with that undefinable grace which peo- 
ple are apt to refer to gentle blood. There was, more- 
over, a certain refinement and sensitiveness in his coun- 
tenance utterly incompatible with the idea of vulgarity of 
any kind. Now, a tutor might be anything a decayed 
nobleman or a chandler's soa Was not Louis Philippe 
an usher in a school? All you were to assume was 
that he could teach Latin grammar, and was in want 
of money. 

There were some little signs of superfluity, too, in 
William's valuables. The butler, who was a native of 
Geneva, presuming on William's tutorship, had, on a fit- 
ting opportunity, begged leave to inspect his watch, and 
appraised it at twenty guineas among his fellow-servants. 
This and the massive gold chain, which also excited his 
admiration, were gifts from Miss Perfect, as was also that 
glorious dressing-case, presented on his attaining his 
twenty-first year, resplendent with gold and mother-o'- 
pearl, and which the same competent authority valued 
at seventy guineas at least. Now, those things, though 
little, and some not at all seen outside the walls of his 
own little bed-room, emitted, like the concealed relics of 
a saint, so to speak, a glory and a fragrance which per- 
meated the house. It was quite impossible, then, that 
want of money had driven this Mr. Herbert, or whoever 
he was, into his present position. 

On the plate on top of this resplendent dressing-case the 
maid, who, fired by Monsieur Drouet's report, had visited 
the treasure clandestinely, were inscribed, as she reported 
to Miss Clare, the same mysterious characters " W. M." 



342 J*% in the Dark. 

"I like the old gentleman kind old man. What 
wonderful things books are ; nourishment for all sorts 
and sizes of minds poor old Mr. Kincton Knox. How 
he reads and positively enjoys them. Yet the best things 
in them might just as well never have been written or 
thought, for any real perception he has of them! A 
kind man ; I like him so much ; I feel so obliged to 
iiim. And what ill-bred, insupportable persons the 
ladies are ; that pompous, strong-willed, stupid old 
woman ; her magnificence positively stifles me ; and the 
voung lady, how disagreeably handsome she is, and how 
uiipertinent. It must be a love of inflicting pain and 
degradation how cruel, how shabby, how low ! " 

Such was William's review of the adult members of the 
family among whom he had come to reside, as he lay 
down with his fair hair on the pillow, and his sad eyes 
long open in the dark, looking at scenes and forms of 
the past, crossed and troubled by coming sorrows and 
apprehensions. 

The ice and snow spread crisp and hard, and the frosty 
sun has little heat, but yet the thaw will come. And the 
radiance emitted by William's dressing-case, watch and 
other glories, began imperceptibly to tell upon the frozen 
rigour of his first reception. There was a word now and 
then about the weather, he was asked more graciously to 
take some more tea. The ladies sometimes smiled when 
they thus invited him, and Miss Clara began to take an 
interest in her brother, and even one day in her riding 
habit, in which she looked particularly well, looked into 
the school-room for a moment, just to give Howard a 
little box of bon-bons she had promised him before sh* 
went out. 

' May I, Mr. Herbert ? " asked Miss Clara, with that 
smile which no one could resist. 



William Begins to Excite an Interest. 143 

" Certainly," said William, bowing very low, and she 
thought there was something haughty in his grave 
humility. 

So she thanked him, smiling more, and made her pre- 
sent to Howard, who broke out with 

" This aint the one you said. You've been and eat 
it, you greedy ! " 

"Now!" pleaded Miss Clara, whose fingers tingled to 
box his ears, though she prolonged the word in her most 
coaxing tone, " Howard ! Howard ! could you ? your 
own poor Clara ! You shall come up and have any two 
others you like best, when I come back, if Mr. Herbert 
allows it," and with a smile, and a light kiss on the boy's 
forehead, who plunged away from her muttering, that 
brilliant vision vanished, leaving William standing for a 
moment wondering, and thinking how graceful and pretty 
she looked in that becoming get-up. 

"Well," thought William, that night compunctiously 
and pleased, " I believe I have done them an injustice. 
I forgot that I was a total stranger, and expected a re- 
ception different perhaps from what I was entitled to. 
But this perhaps is better; people whose liking and 
confidence move slowly, and whose friendship, bestowed 
gradually, is not suddenly withdrawn." 

And so he went to sleep more happily. 




CHAPTER XXVII. 

FROM KINCTON TO GILROYD. 

MONTH passed away with little change. 
Thanks to the very explicit injunction, con- 
stantly repeated, to teach his pupil no more 
than his pupil wished to learn, William Maubray got on 
wonderfully well with that ill-conditioned brat, who was 
" the hope of the house of Kincton Knox." Still, not- 
withstanding this, and all those flattering evidences of 
growing favour vouchsafed by the ladies of the mansion, 
the weeks were very long. Miss Clara, although now 
and then she beamed on him with a transient light, yet 
never actually conversed; and magnificent and dreary 
Mrs. Kincton Knox, whether gracious or repellent, was 
nearly equally insupportable. 

Every time he walked out, and, pausing on the upland, 
looked long and mournfully in the direction in which he 
fancied lay Gilroyd, with its sunset blush of old red 
brick, its roses, deep green-sward and chestnut shadows, a 
sort of home sickness overcame him. Beyond that hori- 
zon there was affection, and in old times the never-failing 
welcome, the smile, the cordial sympathy, and tSie liberty 
that knew not Kincton. And with a pain and swell- 
ing at his heart came the scene of his expulsion a mute, 
hurried leave-taking ; the clang of the iron gate, never to 



From Kincton to Gilroyd. 145 

open more for him ; and Aunt Dinah's fierce and cruel 
gaze, like the sword of fire in the way, forbidding his 
return. 

How was it with fierce and cruel Aunt Dinah all this 
time ? " The boy will come to his senses," she was con- 
stantly repeating to herself, is she closed her book from 
which her thoughts had tut-u straying, upon her finger, 
with a short sigh and a proud look. Or when she looked 
up from her work, with the same little sigh, on the pretty 
flower landscape, with its background of foliage, seen 
so sunnily through the jessamine and rose clusters, 
"Time will bring him to reason; .a little time, a very 
little time." t 

But when a little time passed away, and no signs came 
with the next week of returning reason, Aunt Dinah 
grew fiercer and more warlike. " Sulky and obstinate ! 
Ungrateful young man ! Well, so be it. We'll see who 
can maintain silence longest. Let him cool; let him 
take his own time, /won't hurry him, I promise him, n 
and so forth. 

But another week passed, still in silence, and Miss 
Perfect " presented her compliments to Dr. Sprague, and 
begged to inquire whether her nephew, William Maubray, 
had returned to Cambridge a little more than a fortnight 
since. Not that she had the least right or wish to in- 
quire minutely henceforward into his plans, place of re- 
sidence, pursuits, or associates ; but simply that having 
for so long a time taken an interest in him, and, as she 
hoped, been of some little use to him if supporting and 
educating him entirely might so be deemed she thought 
she had a claim to be informed how he was, whether well 
or ill. Beyond that she begged to be excused from ask- 
ing, and requested that Doctor Sprague would be so 
good as to confine himself to answering that simple iu 



146 All in the Dark. 

quiry, and abstain from mentioning anything further abouA 
William Maubray." 

In reply to this, Doctor Sprague " begged to inform 
Miss Perfect that when he last saw him, about ten days 
since, when he left Cambridge, her nephew, William 
Maubray, was very well. On his return from his recent 
visit to Gilroyd, he had remained but a week in his 
i ooms, and had then left to prosecute a plan by which he 
tioped to succeed in laying a foundation for future 
efforts and success. Doctor Sprague was not very well, 
and had been ordered to take a little exceptional holi- 
day abroad, and Miss Perfect's letter had reached him 
just on the eve of his departure for the continent." 

Unobserved, almost to herself, there had been before 
Aunt Dinah's eyes, as she read her book, or worked at 
her crochet, or looked out wearied on the lawn, a little 
vignette representing a college tutor's chamber, Gothic 
in character, and a high-backed oaken chair, anti- 
quated and carved, in which, like Faust philosophising to 
the respectful Vagner, sat Doctor Sprague, with his finger 
on the open letter she had sent him, exhorting and re- 
proving the contumacious William Maubray, and in the 
act of despatching him, in a suit of sackcloth, with peas 
in his shoes, on a penitential pilgrimage to Gilroyd. 

This pleasing shadow, like an illusion of the magic 
lantern, vanished in pitch darkness, as Miss Perfect read 
the good doctor's answer. With a pallid, patient smile, 
and feeling suddenly cold from her head to her feet, she 
continued to gaze in sore distress upon the letter. Had 
William enlisted, or had he embarked as steward on 
board an American steamer? Was he about working 
his passage to New Zealand, or had he turned billiard 
marker ? 

Neighbours dropped in now and then to pay a visit, a/id 



Fiom Kincton to Gilroyd. 147 

Violet had such conversation as the vicinity afforded, and 
chatted and laughed all she could. But Miss Perfect 
was very silent for some days after the arrival of Dr. 
Sprague's letter. She was more gentle, and smiled a 
good deal, but was wan, and sighed from time to time, 
and her dinner was a mere make-belief. And looking 
out of her bed-room window in the evening, toward 
Saxton, she did not hear old Winnie Dobbs, who had 
thrice accosted her. But after a little she turned to the 
patient old handmaid, and said 

" Pretty the old church looks in the sun; I sometimes 
wish I were there." 

Old Winnie followed the direction of her eyes, and 
gazed also, saying mildly 

" Good sermons, indeed, Ma'am, and a good parson, 
kind to the poor; and very comfortable it is, sure, if 
they did not raise the stove so high. I think 'twas 
warmer before they raised it." 

" For a hundred and fifty years the Gilroyd people 
have been all buried there," continued Aunt Dinah, talk- 
ing more to the old church than to Winnie. 

"Well, I should not wonder," said Winnie, " there is 
a deal o' them lies there. My grandmother minded the 
time old Lady Maubray was buried yonder, with that 
fine marble thing outside o' the church. The rails is 
gone very rusty now, and that coat of aims, and the 
writing, it's wearing out it is worn, the rain or some- 
thing; and indeed I sometimes do think where is the 
good of grandeur; when we die it's all equal, the time 
being so short as it is. Master Willie asked me to show 
it him last Sunday three weeks coming out o' church, 
and even his young eyes " 

"Don't name him, don't mention him," said Aunt 
Dinah suddenly in a tone of cold decision. 



148 All in tht Dark. 

Winnie's guileless light blue eyes looked up in helpless 
wonder in her mistress's face. 

" Don't name his name, Winnie Dobbs. He's gone? 
said she in the same severe tone. 

"Gone!" repeated Winnie. "Yes, sure! but he'll 
come back." 

"No, he shan't, Winnie; he'll darken my doors no 
more. Come what may, that shan't be. Perhaps, I may 
assist him occasionally still, but see him, never ! He has 
renounced me, and I wash my hands of him." She was 
answering Winnie's look of consternation. " Let him go 
his own way as he chooses it I've done with him." 

There was a long pause here, during which ancient 
Winnie Dobbs stared with an imbecile incredulity at her 
mistress, who was looking still at the old church. Then 
old Winnie sighed. Then she shook her head, touching 
the tip of her tongue with a piteous little " tick, tick, 
tick," to the back of her teeth. 

And Aunt Dinah continued drearily 

" And Miss Violet must find this very dull I've no 
right to keep her here. She would be happier in some 
other home, poor child. I'm but a dismal companion, 
and how long is it since young Mr. Trevor was here? 
You don't remember there, don't try, but it must be 
three weeks or more, and and I do think he was 
very attentive. I mean, Winnie, but you are to say no- 
thing below stairs, you know I mean, I really think he 
was in love with Miss Vi." 

"Well, indeed, they did talk about it the neighbours; 
there was talk, a deal o' talk, and I don't know, but I 
often thought she liked him." 

" Well, thafs off too, quite, I think ; you know it is 
very rude, impertinent, in fact, his never having called 
here once, or done more than just raise his hat to us in 



From Kincton to Gilroyd. 149 

the church door on Sundays, ever since William Maubray 
went away. I look upon his conduct as altogether out- 
rageous, and being the kind of person he is, I'm very 
glad he disclosed himself so early, and certainly k would 
have been a thousand pities the girl should have ever 
thought of him. So that's over too, and all the better it 
is, and I begin to grow tired of the whole thing very 
tired, Winnie ; and I believe the people over there," and 
she nodded toward the churchyard, " are best provided 
for, and it's time, Winnie, I should be thinking of joining 
them where the wicked cease from troubling, and the 
weary are at rest." 

" God forbid, Ma'am ! " remonstrated old Winnie, 
mildly, and they turned together from the window to 
accomplish Aunt Dinah's toilet. 





CHAPTP:R XXVIIL 

THE PIPING BULLFINCH. 

|EXT Sunday Mr. Vane Trevor, after church, 
happened to be carried in one of the converg- 
ing currents of decently-dressed Christianity 
into the main channel through the porch, almost side by 
side with the two Gilroyd ladies then emerging. 

Mr. Vane Trevor, in pursuance of his prudent resolve, 
would have avoided this meeting. But so it was. In 
the crowded church porch, out of which the congregation 
emerges so slowly, with a sort of decent crush, almost 
pressed inconveniently against good Miss Perfect, the 
young gentleman found himself, and in a becoming 
manner, with a chastened simper, inquiring after their 
health, and making the proper remarks about tne 
weather. 

Aunt Dinah received these attentions very drily ; but 
Miss Vi, in such an arch, becoming little shell-like bon- 
net, looked perfectly lovely ; and to do her justice, was 
just as friendly as usual. 

It was no contrivance of his, the meeting with this be- 
witching little bonnet where he did. How could he help 
the strange little thrill with which he found himself so 
near and was it in human nature, or even in good 



The Piping Bullfinch. 151 

manners, to deny himself a very little walk, perhaps 
only to the church-yard gate, beside Miss Violet Dark- 
well ? 

"How is my friend Maubray?" inquired Trevor of 
Miss Perfect, whom he found himself next. 

" I really don't know I have not heard I suppose 
he is very well," she answered, with an icy severity that 
rather surprised the young man, who had heard nothing 
of the quarrel. 

" I must write. I ought to have asked him when he 
meant to return. I am so anxious for an excuse to renew 
our croquet on the lawn at Gilroyd." 

This little speech was accompanied with a look which 
Violet could hardly mistake. 

" I don't think it likely," said Miss Perfect, in the 
same dry tone. 

" Any time within the next three weeks, the weather 
will answer charmingly," continued Trevor, addressing 
Miss Darkwell. 

" But I rather think Miss Darkwell will have to make 
her papa a little visit. He's to return on the eighteenth, 
you remember, my dear; and he says, you know, you 
are to meet him at Richmond." 

So said Aunt Dinah, who had no notion of this kind 
of trifling. 

Trevor again saw the vision of a lean, vulgar, hard- 
voiced barrister, trudging beside him with a stoop, and a 
seedy black frock-coat ; and for a minute was silent. But 
he looked across at pretty Miss Vi, so naturally elegant, 
and in another moment the barrister had melted into air, 
and he saw only that beautiful nymph. 

"I want to look at old Lady Maubray's monument 
round the east end, here, of the church. You would not 
dislike, dear, to corue only a step. I must have any 



152 All in the Dark. 

repairs done that may be needed. Good-morning, Mr, 
Trevor." 

But Mr. Trevor begged leave to be of the party, know- 
ing exactly where the monument stood. 

There is a vein of love-making with which a country 
church-yard somehow harmonises very tenderly. Among 
the grass-grown graves the pretty small feet, stepping 
lightly and reverently, the hues and outlines of beauty 
and young life ; the gay faces shadowed with a passing 
sadness nothing ghastly, nothing desolate only a 
sentiment of the solemn and the melancholy, and under- 
lying that tender sadness, the trembling fountains of life 
and gladness, the pulses of youth and hope. 

" Yes ; very, very much neglected," said Miss Perfect. 
" We can do nothing with that marble, of course," sfa 
observed, nodding toward the arched cornice at top, 
which time and weather had sadly worn and furrowed. 
" It was her wish, my dear father often told me ; sh< 
would have it outside, not in the church ; but the rail 
and this masonry we must have that set to right 
-yti." 

And so, stepping lightly among weeds and long 
and by humble headstones and time-worn tombs, th( 
came forth under the shadow of the tall elms by th( 
church-yard gate, and again Miss Perfect intimated 
farewell to Trevor, who, however, said he would go hoi 
by the stile a path which would lead him by the gate 
Gilroyd ; and before he had quite reached that, he h< 
begun to make quite 3, favourable impression once more 
on the old lady ; insomuch that, in her forge tfulness, sh( 
asked him at the gate of Gilroyd to come in, which ve] 
readily he did ; and the little party sat down together ii 
the drawing-room of Gilroyd, and chatted in a vc 
kindly and agreeable wav : and Vane Trevor, who, lil 



The Piling Bullfinch. . 153 

Aunt Dinah, was a connoisseur in birds, persuaded her 
to accept a bullfinch, which he would send her next 
morning in a new sort of cage, which had just come out 
He waited in vain, however, for one of those little mo- 
mentary absences, which, at other times, had left him and 
Violet alone. Miss Perfect, though mollified, sat him 
out very determinedly. So, at last, having paid a very 
long visit, Mr. Vane Trevor could decently prolong it no 
further, and he went away with an unsatisfactory and dis- 
appointed feeling, not quite reasonable, considering the 
inflexible rule he had imposed upon himself in the mat- 
ter of Gilroyd Hall and its inhabitants. 

" Maubray has told her all I said," thought Vane 
Trevor, as he pursued the solitary path along the up- 
lands of Revington. " The old woman what a bore 
she is was quite plainly vexed at first ; but that jolly 
little creature Violet Violet, it is a pretty name she 
was exactly as usual. By Jove ! I thought shfd have 
been a bit vexed j but she's an angel," he dreamed on, 
disappointed. " I don't think she can have even begun 
to care for me the least bit in the world I really dorit? 
He was looking down on the path, his hands in his 
pockets, and his cane under his arm ; and he kicked a 
little stone out of his way at the emphatic word, rather 
fiercely. " And so much the better ; there's no need of 
all that caution. Stuff ! they know quite well I've no 
idea of marrying; and what more? And there's no 
danger of her, for she is plainly quite content with those 
terms, and does not care for me now, that's all right." 

It is not always easy to analyse one's own motives ; 
but, beneath that satisfaction, there was very consider- 
able soreness, and something like a resolution to make 
tor like him, in spite of her coldness. The pretty, little, 
impertinent, cold, bewitching gipsy. It was so absurd. 



154 All in the Dark. 

She did not seem the least flattered by the distinction of 
his admiration, 

Next morning, after breakfast, he drove down in his 
dog-cart, instead of sending the bird as he had proposed 
There were some ingenious contrivances in this model 
cage which required explanation. The oddest thing 
about the present was that the piping bullfinch sang two 
of Violet's favourite airs. Trevor had no small difficulty, 
and a diffuse correspondence, in his search for one so 
particularly accomplished. 

When in the drawing-room at Gilroyd, he waved a 
feather before its eyes, and the little songster displayed 
his acquirements. Trevor stole a glance at Miss Vi j but 
she looked perfectly innocent, and smiled with a provok- 
ing simplicity on the bird. Miss Perfect was, however, 
charmed, and fancied she knew the airs, but was, 
honestly, a little uncertain. 

"It is really too good of you, Mr. Trevor," she ex- 
claimed. 

" On the contrary, I'm much obliged by your accepting 
the charge. I'm a sort of wandering Arab, you know, and 
I shall be making the tour of my friends' country houses ; 
so poor little Pipe would have been very lonely, perhaps 
neglected; and I should very likely have had a letter 
some day announcing his death, and that, for fifty reasons, 
would have half broken my heart ; " whereat he laughed 
a little, for Aunt Dinah, and glanced one very meaning 
and tender ogle on Miss Violet. 

" Well, Mr. Trevor, disguise it how you may. you are 
very good-natured," said Miss Perfect, much pleased with 
her new pet; " and I'm very much obliged." 




CHAPTER XXIX. 

A MESSAGE IN THE "TIMES." 

|ITH this little speech, Aunt Dinah, thinking for 
the moment of nothing but her oird, and very 
much pleased with Mr. Trevor, carried the 
little songster away to her room, leaving the young 
people together at the open parlour window. 

" I hope you like him ? " Trevor said, in a low tone. 

" Oh, charming /" replied Miss Vi. 

" I should not for all the world you'll never know the 
reason why, perhaps have let him go to any place else, 
but here upon my honour," said Mr. Vane Trevor, 
speaking very much in earnest. 

" Miss Perfect, I can see, is charmed," said Violet. 

" Ah, yes you think so very happy, I'm sure ; but I 
shall miss him very much. I you've no idea what com- 
pany he has been to me : and what a lot of trouble I had 
in finding one to in fact, the sort of one I wanted." 

" They are very pretty, very s\veet ; but after all don't 
you think the natural song the best ? I should be afraid 
of the repetition ; I should tire of the same airs," said 
Miss Darkwell. 

" Of others yes, perhaps, I should, but of those, nwer" 
said Mr. Vane Trevor, eloquently. 

No romantic younj gentleman who means to walk in 

* 



156 All in the Dark. 

the straight and narrow path of prudence, does well in 
falling into such a dialogue of covert-meanings with so 
very pretty a girl as Miss Violet Darkwell. It is like 
going up in a balloon, among invisible and irresistible 
currents, and the prince of the powers of the air alone 
can tell how long a voyage you are in for, and in what 
direction you may come down. 

The flattering tongues of men ! sweet airy music at- 
tuned to love and vanity, to woman's pride and weakness, 
half despised, half cherished. Long after a phrase a 
fragment of a sentence, like a broken bar, or half re- 
membered cadence of some sweet old air, that sounded 
in your young ears, in dances and merry-makings, now 
far and filmy as bygone dreams, turns up unbidden 
comes back upon remembrance, and is told, with a sad- 
dened smile, to another generation. Drink in the sweet 
music at your pretty ears ; it will not last always. There 
is a day for enjoyment, and a day for remembrance, and 
then the days of darkness. 

A little blush the glory, too, of ever so faint a smile ! 
the beautiful flush of beauty's happy triumph was on the 
fair face of the girl, as she listened for a moment, with 
downcast eyes ; and Vane Trevor, conceited young man 
as he was, had never felt so elated as when he saw that 
transient, but beautiful glow, answering to his folly. 

I may look on her with different eyes, like the Choragus 
of an old play, and wonder and speculate which it is she 
likes the flattery or the lover or each for the sake of 
the other j or the flattery only, caring not that bullfinch's 
feather on the carpet for him ? There is not much in her 
face to guide me ; I can only see, for certain, that she is 
pleased. 

" I shall never forget those airs j you sang them the 
first time I heard you sing j and I'm afraid I have been 



A Message in the " Times" 157 

awfully unreasonable about them, asking you to sing them 
for me every time nearly I had an opportunity ; and I 
I assure you I don't know what I shall do without my 

poor bird ; and " 

Exactly at this point Aunt Dinah returned, and Mr. 
Vane Trevor, with admirable presence of mind, said : 

" I was just saying to Miss Darkwell, I am sure I have 
heard her sing those little songs the bird whistles." 

" So she does," interrupted Miss Perfect. " I could 
not think where I heard them. You know those airs, 
Vi?" 

" Yes I think they are among my songs," answered 
Violet, carelessly. 

"It would be very good of you, Miss Perfect now 
that I've parted with my musician, you know if you 
would allow mejust perhaps once before I leave Rev- 
ington I shall be away probably some months to look 
in some evening, when Miss Darkwell is at her music it 
is very impertinent, I'm afraid, to ask but knowing those 
airs so well, I should like so much to hear them sung, if 
you happened to be able to find them." The concluding 
words were to Violet. 

" Oh, dear yes won't you, Vi ? certainly, any evening, 
we shall be very happy ; but you know we are very early 
people, and our tea hour seven o'clock." 

" Oh, quite delightful," exclaimed the accommodating 
Vane Trevor. " I have no hours at all at Revington 
when I'm alone there, I just eat when I'm hungry and 
sleep when I'm sleepy." 

" The certain way to lose your health ! " exclaimed 
Miss Perfect. 

" Very much obliged I'll certainly turn up, you know, 
seven o'clock some evening." 
And so he took his leave, and was haunted day and 



158 All in the Dark. 

night by Violet Darkwell's beautiful downcast face, as he 
had seen it that morning. 

" I knew I'd make her like me by Jove, I knew 1 
should she does, I'm quite sure of it, she's beginning to 
like me, and if I choose I'll make her like me awfully." 

Now, all the rest of that day, Trevor thought a great 
deal less than he had ever done before, of the pomps 
and vanities of Revington, and the vain glories of the 
Trevors of that ilk. Wrestling with love is sometimes 
like wrestling with an angel, and when the struggle seems 
\vell nigh over, and the athlete sure of his victory, one 
unexpected touch of the angelic hand sets him limping 
again for many a day. Little did he fancy that the 
chance meeting in the shadowy porch of Saxton Church 
would rivet again the sightless chains which it had taken 
some time and trouble to unclasp, and send him maun- 
dering and spiritless in his fetters among the woods and 
lonely paths of Revington ; not yet, indeed, bewailing in 
vain his captivity, but still conscious of the invisible 
influence in which he was again entangled, and with no 
very clear analysis of the present, or thoughts for the 
future. 

Time had brought no tidings of William Maubray, 
and, except on occasions, Aunt Dinah's fits of silence 
were growing longer, and her old face more wan and sad. 

" Ungrateful creature ! " said she, unconsciously aloud. 

"Who, Ma'am?" asked old Winnie, mildly. Hei 
mistress was disrobing for bed. 

"Eh, who?" repeated Miss Perfect. "My nephew 
William Maubray, to think of his never once sending me 
a line, or a message ! we might all be dead here and he 
never know. Not that I care for his indifference and 
heartless ingratitude, for as I told you before, I shall 
pever see his face again. You need not stare, you need 



A Attssage in the " Times" 159 

not say a word, Winnie ; it is quite fixed. You may go 
to see him at Cambridge if he's there, or wherever he is, 
but the door of Gilroyd he shall never enter more while I 
live, and he and his concerns shall trouble me just as 
little as I and mine do him." 

It was about this time that William Maubray, who was 
permitted regularly to look into the Times, saw the fol- 
lowing notification among its advertisements : 

"If the young gentleman who abruptly left his old 

relative's house, under displeasure, on the night of , 

is willing to enter the Church, a path to reconciliation 
may be opened ; but none otherwise. If he needs pe- 
cuniary assistance it will be supplied to the extent of 

^50, on his applying through his tutor, Doctor S , 

but not directly." 

" How insulting how severe and unforgiving," mur- 
mured William. " How could she fancy it possible that 
I could accept the insult of her gift ? " 

With a swelling heart he turned to another part of the 
paper, and tried to read. But the odious serpent coiled 
and hissing at him from its little tabulated compartment, 
was too near, and he could think of nothing else, 




CHAPTER XXX. 

THE LORD OF BURLEIGH, 

|NE morning at breakfast, the Kincton letters 
having arrived, Miss Clara, who had only one, 
tossed it carelessly to her mamma, who, having 
just closed one of her own, asked 

"Who is it?" 

" Vane ; he's coming here he says on Thursday, instead 
of Wednesday," answered the young lady. 

" Cool young gentleman ! " observed Mrs. Kincton 
Knox. " He ought to know that people don't invite 
themselves to Kincton any news?" 

"Yes; there has been an- awful battle, and young 
Maubray has gone off, no one knows where, and every- 
one's curious to find out quite irreconcilable, they say." 

"Does he say what about?" inquired the old lady, 
taking up the letter. 

" No, nothing ; only that," answered Clara. 

" Mamma, Mr. Herbert's blushing all over, like fun," 
cried Master Howard from the other side of the table, 
with a great grin on his jam-bedaubed mouth, and his 
spoon pointed at poor William's countenance. 

The ladies involuntarily glanced at William, who 
blushed more fiercely than ever, and began to fiddle with 
his knife and fork. Miss Clara's glance only, as it were, 
touched him, and was instantly fixed on the view through 



The Lord of Burkigh. . 161 

the window, in apparent abstraction. Mrs. Kincton 
Knox's prominent dark eyes rested gravely a little longer 
on poor William's face, and the boy waving his spoon, 
and kicking his chair, cried, " Ha, ha ! " 

"Don't Sir, that's extremely rude lay down your 
spoon ; you're never to point at anyone, Sir. Mr. Her- 
bert's quite ashamed of you, and so am I." 

" Come here," said William. 

" Oh, no ! you all want me to hold my tongue. It's 
always so, and that great beast of a Clara," bawled " the 
hope of the house," as his mamma was wont to call him. 

" Come to me," said poor William, mildly. 

" Or, if you permit me, Mr. Herbert," said Mrs. Kincton 
Knox. "Howard! I can't tolerate this. You are to 
sit quiet, and eat your breakfast do you hear and do 
you like sardines ? Mr. Herbert, may I trouble you 
thanks; and no personalities, mind never; Mr. Her- 
bert, a little more tea ? " 

The ladies fell into earnest conference that morning 
after breakfast, so soon as William and his pupil had 
withdrawn. 

" W. M. ! Everything marked with W. M. Winston 
Maubray. Don't you see ? " said the old lady, with a 
nod, and her dark and prominent eyes fixed suddenly on 
her daughter. 

" Yes, of course ; and did you look at his face when I 
mentioned the quarrel with Sir Richard ? " said the young 
lady. 

"Did you ever see anything like it?" exclaimed her 
mother. 

Miss Clara smiled mysteriously, and nodded her ac- 
quiescence. 

" Why, my dear, it was the colour of that," continued 
Mrs. Kincton Knox, pointing her finger fiercely at the 



162 All in the Dark. 

red leather back of the chair that stood by them. " I 
don't think there can be a doubt. I know there's none 
in my mind." 

" It is very curious very romantic. I only hope that 
we have not been using him very ill," said Miss Clara, 
and she laughed more heartily than was her wont. 

" 111 ! I don't know what you mean. I trust, Clara, 
no one is ever ill-used at Kincton. It certainly would 
rather surprise me to hear anything of the kind," retorted 
the lady of Kincton, loftily. 

" Well, I did not mean ill, exactly. I ought to have 
said rudely. I hope we have not been treating him like 
a a what shall I say? all this time," and the young 
lady laughed again. 

" We have shown him, Clara, all the kindness and con- 
sideration which a person entering this house in the capa- 
city he chose to assume could possibly have expected. I 
don't suppose he expected us to divine by witchcraft who 
and what he was ; and I am very certain that he would 
not have thought as as highly of us, if we had acted in 
the slightest degree differently." 

But though she spoke so confidently, Mrs. Kincton 
Knox, that perfect woman, was secretly troubled with 
misgivings of the same uncomfortable kind, and would 
have given a good deal to be able to modify the past, or 
even distinctly to call its incidents to mind. 

" Of course, Clara, I shan't observe upon those odd 
coincidences to Mr. Mr. Herbert himself. It is his 
wish to be private for the present. We have no right to 
pry. But there is certainly justifiable I may say, even 
called for some little modification of our own demeanour 
toward him, in short ; and knowing now as I feel con- 
fident we do who he is, there is no need of the same 
degree of reserve and and distance; and I am very 






Tnt Lord of Burleigh. 1 63 

glad, if for this reason only, that you may more frequently, 
my dear Clara, look in and see your little brother, who is 
so much shut up; it would be only kind." 

In fact this old warrior, with the Roman nose and 
eagle eye, surveying the position, felt, in Cromwell's 
phrase, that the " Lord had delivered him into her hand." 
There he was domesticated, in what she might regard as 
a romantic incognito, without parental authority to im- 
pede or suspicion to alarm him ! Could a more favour- 
able conjuncture be fancied ? How a little real kindness 
would tell just now upon his young heart ! and he would 
have such an opportunity in his disguise of estimating 
and being touched by the real amiability of the Kincton 
Knoxes ; and the Maubray estates and an old baronetage 
would close Miss Clara's campaigning with eclat. 

The young lady did look into the school-room. 

" I'm afraid, Mr. Herbert, you'll think me very tire- 
some," she said. 

William had risen as she entered, with a bow. 

" But mamma is thinking of taking Howard a drive, if 
you approve, and Howard, we are going to Bolton Prior}-. 
Mamma wishes so much to know whether you will allow 
him to come." 

"I can have no objection. He's not now at his les- 
sons. I'm sure it will do him a great deal of good.'"* 

Miss Clara, in a pretty attitude, leaning with one hand 
on the table, was smiling down on Master Howard, and 
caressingly running her taper fingers through his curls. 

" Let my head be will you ! " he bawled, disengaging 
himself, with a bounce and a thump at her hand. 

The young lady smiled and shrugged plaintively at 
William, who said, " Howard, I shall tell your mamma, 
if you are rude to Miss Knox, and I'll ask her not to take 
you out to-day." 



1 64 All in the Dark. 

"That's just it," retorted Master Howard. "That's 
the way you men always take her part against me, be- 
cause you think she's young and pretty. Ah-ha ! I wish 
you'd ask her maid Winter." 

" Be quiet, Sir," said William, in so stern a tone, and 
with so angry a flash of his blue eyes, that the young 
gentleman was actually overawed, and returned lowering 
and muttering to the ship he had been rigging, only 
making an ugly grimace over his shoulder, and uttering 
the word "crocodile!" 

Though Miss Clara smiled plaintively down upon the 
copy of Tennyson which lay open on the table, and 
turned over a page or two with her finger-tip, serenely, 
she inwardly quaked while Howard declaimed, and in her 
soul wished him the fate of Cicero ; and when she got to 
her room planted her chair before the cheval glass with a 
crash, and exclaimed, "I do believe that the fiendish 
imp is raised up expressly to torture me ! Other parents 
would beat such a brat into a mummy, and knock his head 
off rather than their daughter should be degraded by him ; 
but mine seem to like it positively. I wish oh ! don't I, 
just ! " And the aposiopesis and the look were eloquent. 

But she had not yet left the school-room, and as she 
looked down on the open pages, she murmured, sadly, 
" The Lord of Burleigh ! " And looking up she said to 
William, " I see you read my poet and my favourite 
poem, too, only I think it too heart-rending. I can't 
read it. I lose my spirits for the whole day after, and I 
wonder whether the story is really true," she paused with 
a look of sad inquiry, and William answered that he had 
read it was so. 

And she said, with a little sigh, " That only makes it 
sadder," and she seemed to have something more to say, 
but did not - 3 and after a moment, with a little smile and 



TJie Lord of Bur high. 1 6 5 

a nod, she went from the room. And William thought 
he had never seen her look so handsome, and had not 
before suspected her of so much mind and so much feel- 
ing, and he took the book up and read the poem through, 
and dreamed over it till the servant came with a knock 
at the door, and his mistress's compliments, to know if 
Master Howard might go now. 





CHAPTER XXXL 

A FRIEND APPEARS. 

1ILLIAM MAUBRAY'S harmless self love was 
flattered by the growing consideration with 
which he was treated. The more they saw of 
him plainly the better they liked him, and William began, 
too, dimly to fancy that there must be something very en- 
gaging about him. 

A night or two later, his pupil having just gone to bed, 
a footman came with a little scrap of pink paper, pencilled 
over, in Mrs. Kincton Knox's hand, on a salver, for Wil- 
liam, who found these words : 

" It has just struck me that I might possibly prevail 
upon your good-nature, to look in upon our solitude for 
half an hour ; though we don't like abridging your hours 
of liberty, it would really be quite a kindness to indulge 
me ; and if you can lay your hand upon your volume of 
Tennyson, pray bring it with you." 

Up got William, and with his book in his hand 
followed the servant, who announced Mr. Herbert at the 
drawing-room door, and William found himself in that 
vast apartment, the lights of which were crowded about 
the fire, and the rest comparatively dim. 

" So good of you, Mr. Herbert," said Mrs. Kincton 
Knox, with a superb smile, and even extending her 



A Friend Appears. 167 

fingers in the solemn exuberance of her welcome. " It 
is so very kind of you to come ; so unreasonable, I fear : 
we had a debate, I assure you," and she smiled with 
awful archness toward Miss Clara, "but my audacity 
carried it you've brought the book too he has brought 
the book, Clara ; how very kind, is not it ? " 

Miss Clara answered by a glance at their visitor, 
almost grateful, and a smile at her mother, who con- 
tinued 

" You have no idea, Mr. Herbert pray sit where we 
can both hear and see you how very lonely we are in 
these great rooms, when we are tete-a-tete, as you see." 

William's remarks in reply were not very original or 
very many, but such as they were nothing could be more 
successful, and the ladies exchanged smiles of appro- 
bation over the timid little joke, which had all but 
broken down. 

So William read aloud, and the ladies, each in her way, 
were charmed, and next night he was invited again, and 
there was more conversation and rather less reading, and 
so he grew much more easy and intimate, and began to 
look forward to these little reunions with a very pleasant 
interest : and Miss Clara's brilliant beauty and some 
little indications of a penchant very flattering began to 
visit his fancy oftener than I should have supposed 
likely ; although it is hard to say when the way-side 
flowers on the longest journey quite lose their interest; 
or how much care and fatigue are needed to make a 
man cease to smile now and then, or whistle a stave on 
his way. 

William and his pupil were walking down the thick 
fir wood that lies on the slope between Kincton and the 
Old London road, when just at a curve in the path, 
within twenty yards, whom should he come upon 



1 68 All in the Dark. 

suddenly in this darksome by-way but Mr. Vane Trevor. 
They both stopped short. 

"By Jove! Maubray?" exclaimed Trevor, after a 
pause, and he cackled one of his agreeable laughs. 

"Did not expect to see you here, Trevor," replied 
William, looking on the whole rather dismally surp'Ised. 

" Why, what are you afraid of, old Maubray ? I'm not 
going to do you any harm, upon my honour," and he 
laughed again, approaching his friend, who likewise 
advanced to meet him smiling, with rather an effort. 
"Very glad to see you, and I've a lot to tell you," 
said he. " I don't mean any nonsense, but really serious 
things." 

"All well at home? " asked William, eagerly. 

" Oh, dear, yes, quite well all flourishing. It is n< 
it's nothing unpleasant, you know, only I mean som< 
thing it's of importance to me, by Jove ! and to, I fancy, 
other people also ; and I see you're puzzled. Can we 
get rid of that little wretch for a minute or two ? " am 
he glanced at Howard Seymour Knox, to whom, he jt 
remembered, he had not yet spoken. 

" And how do you do, Howard, my boy ? Flourisl 
ing, I see. Would you like to have a shot with my 
volver? I left it at the gamekeeper's down th( 
Weil, give them this card, and they'll give it to you am 
we'll try and shoot a rabbit eh ? " 

Away went Master Howard, and Trevor said 

"And do tell me, what are you doing here, of 
places in the world ? " 

" I'm a resident tutor neither more nor less," sak 
William Maubray, with a bitter gaiety. 

"You mean you've come here to Kincton to teacl 
that little cur I hope you lick him a trifle ? " inqirii 
Trevor, 



A Friend Appears. 169 

"Yes; but I don't lick him, and in fact the situation 
that's the right word, isn't it? is very, whafs the 
word ? We get on quietly, and they're all very civil to 
me, and it's very good of a swell like you to talk so to a 
poor devil of a pedagogue." 

"Come Maubray, none of your chaff. I knew by 
your aunt's manner there was a screw loose somewhere 
something about a living, wasn't there ? " 

It was plain, however, that Trevor was thinking of 
something that concerned him more nearly than William 
Maubray's squabble with his aunt. 

" It's a long story," said William \ " she wants me to 
go into the Church, and I won't, and so there's a quarrel, 
and that's all." 

"And the supplies stopped?" exclaimed Trevor. 

" Well, I think she would not stop them ; she is very' 
generous but I could not, you know, it's time I should 
do something : and I'm here Doctor Sprague thought 
it right under the name of Herbert. They know it's 
an assumed name we took care to tell them that so 
there's no trick, you know, and please don't say my 
name's Maubray, it would half break my aunt's heart." 

" Secret as the tomb, Herbert, I'll remember, and 
and I hope that nasty little dog won't be coming back in 
a minute it's a good way though and, by Jove ! it's 
very comical, though, and almost providential this, meet- 
ing you here, for I did want a friend to talk a bit to, 
awfully, and you know, Maubray, I really have always 
looked on you in the light of a friend." 

There was a consciousness of the honour which such 
a distinction conferred in the tone in which this was 
spoken, and William, in the cynical irony winch, in 
this interview, he had used with Trevor, interjjosccl 
with 



170 



All in the Dark. 



" A humble friend, and very much flattered." 

" You're no such thing, upon my honour, and I think 
you're joking. But I really do regard you as a friend, 
and I want to tell you no end of things, that I really 
think will surprise you." 

William Maubray looked in Trevor's face, gravely and 
dubiously, and said he, with the air of a man of the 
world, " Well, I should like to hear and any advice I 
can offer, it is not of any great value I fear, is quite at 
your service." 

" Let's sit down here," said Trevor, and side by side 
they seated themselves on a rustic seat, and in the 
golden shade of the firs and pines, Vane Trevor began \& 
Open his case to William. 




CHAPTER XXXIL 

A CONFIDENCE. 




know what y u>11 thlnk of fc aftcr 

all I've said, but I'm going to marry your 
cousin, Violet Darkwell," said Vane Tre- 
vor, after a little pause, and with a kind of effort, and a 
rather deprecatory smile. 

"Oh?" exclaimed William Maubray, cheerily, and 
with a smile. But the smile was wan, and the voice 
sounded ever so far away. 

" There's no use, Maubray, in a fellow's resisting his 
destiny; and there's an old saying, you know, about 
marriages being made in heaven. By Jove ! when it 
comes to a certain point with a fellow, it's all over ; no 
good struggling, and he may as well accomplish his his 
destiny by Jove, with a good grace. And and I know, 
Maubray, you'll be glad to hear, and and I really be- 
lieve it's the best, and wisest thing I could have done- 
don't you think so ? " 

" I'm sure of that," said William, in the same tone, 
with the same smile. Everyone says it's better to marry, 
when a fellow can afford it ; but I did not think you had 
a notion ; that is for ever so long ; and then some great 
lady." 

"No more I had," answered Trevor. "By Jove! a 

M 



172 s<ll in the Dark. 

month ago you weren't a more unlikely man ; but bow 
can /help it ? You never were spooney on a girl in all 
your life, and of course you can't tell; but you've no 
idea how impossible it is for a fellow, when once he 
comes to be really in in love to to make himself 
happy, and be content to lose her. / can't, I know." 

"No, of course," answered William, with the same 
smile and an involuntary sigh. 

"And then, you know, money and that sort of thing, 
it's all very fine, all very good in a wife ; but by Jove ! 
there's more than you think in in fascination and beauty 
and manner, and that sort of thing. There's Sir John 
Sludgeleigh old family, capital fellow he chose U 
marry a woman from some of those cotton mill places, 
with no end of money, and by Jove, I think he has been 
ashamed to show 9 ever since ; you never saw such a 
brute. He's ashamed of her, and they say he'd give his 
right hand had he never set eyes on her. I can quite 
understand, of course, a fellow that has not a guinea left : 
but, by Jove, if you saw her, you could not conceive such 
a thing. And there's old Lord Ricketts, he married quite 
a nobody. Sweetly pretty, to be sure, but out of a board- 
ing school, and so clever, you know, but no money, and 
no family, and he so awfully dipt; and she set herself to 
work and looked after everything, awfully clever, and at 
this moment the estate does not owe a guinea, and she 
found it with a hundred and twenty thousand pounds 
mortgage over it ; and when he married her everyone 
said it was all up, and his ruin certain, and by Jove it 
was that marriage that saved him." 

"Very curious !" said William, dismally. 

"To be sure it is ; there's no subject, I tell you, there's 
feo much nonsense talked about as marriage : if a wo- 
tnan brings you a fortune or connexion, by Jove, 



A Confidence. 173 

make you pay for it. I could tell you half a dozen who 
have been simply ruined by making what all the world 
thought wonderfully good marriages." 

" I dare say," said William, in a dream. 

"And then about family and connexion, really the 
thing, when you examine it, there's wonderfully little in 
it ; the good blood of England isn't in the peerage at all, 
it is really, as a rule, all in the landed gentry. Now, looV 
at us, for example ; I give you leave to search the peerage 
through, and you'll not find four houses I don't speak of 
titles, but families older than we. Except four, there is 
not one as old. And really, if people are nice, and quite 
well bred, what more do you want ? " 

" Oh, nothing," sighed William. 

" And do you know, I've rather a prejudice against 
barristers, I mean as being generally an awfully low, 
vulgar set ; and I assure you, I know I may say whatever 
I think to you ; but I, when I was thinking about all this 
thing, you know, I could not get the idea out of my head. 
I knew her father was a barrister, and he was always 
turning up in my mind ; you know the sort of thing, as 
as a sort of fellow one could not like." 

" But he's a particularly gentlemanlike man," broke in 
William, to whom Sergeant Darkwell had always been 
very kind. 

" Oh ! you need not tell me, for I walked with him 
home to Gilroyd, last Sunday, from church. I did not 
know who he was stupid of me not to guess and 
you can't think what an agreeable really nice fel- 
low." 

" I know him ; he has been always very kind to me, 
and very encouraging about the bar," said Maubray. 

"Yes," interrupted Trevor, "and they say, certain to 
rise> and very high, too. Chancery, vow V^ow, and 



174 Ah in the Dark. 

and -and such a really gentlemanlike fellow, might be 
anything, and so and so clever, I'm sure." 

"Come down to draw the settlements," thought 
William, with a pang. But he could not somehow say it 
There are events to which you can submit, but the details 
of which you shrink from. Here was for William, in some 
sort, a death. A familiar face gone. The rest was the 
undertaker's business. The stretching and shrouding, 
and screwing down, he had rather not hear of. 

" You are going to tell the people here ? " said Willian 
Maubray, not knowing well what to say. 

" Tell them here, at Kincton ! Not if I know it 
Why, I know pretty well, for fifty reasons, how they'll re- 
ceive it. Oh ! no, I'll just send them the prettiest little 
bit of a note in a week or two, when everything is quite 
settled, and I'll not mind seeing them again for some 
time, I can tell you. Here's this little wretch coming 
again. Well, Howard, have you got the revolver ? " 

Master Howard's face was swollen with tears and 
fury. 

" No, they wouldn't give it me. You knew right well 
they would not, without mamma told 'em. I wish 
mamma was hanged ; I do ; she's always a plaguing every 
one ; her and that great brute, Clara." 

This explosion seemed to divert Mr. Trevor extremely ; 
but William was, of course, obliged to rebuke his pupil. 

" If you say that again, Master Howard, I'll tell your 
mamma." 

"I don't care." 

"Very well, Sir." 

" I say, come with me," said Trevor. " We'll ask 
mamma about the pistol, and I shall be here again in half 
an hour." 

"Very well, do so, and just remember, though I don't 



4 Confidence. 175 

much care," said Maubray, in an tnder tone, " they don't 
know my name here." 

" All right," said Trevor ; " I shan't forget," and he and 
his interesting companion took their departure, leaving 
William to his meditations. 

11 So ! going to be married little Vi pretty little Vi 
little Vi, that used to climb up at the back of my chair. 
I'll try and remember her always the same little wayward, 
beautiful darling. I've seen my last of her, at least for a 
long time, a very long time, and Gilroyd I'll never see 
it again." 

And thoughts, vague and sad, came swelling up the 
stormy channels of his heart, breaking wildly and mourn- 
fully one over the other, and poor William Maubray, in 
his solitude, wept some bitter tears. 





CHAPTER XXXIII. 

THE LADIES MAKE INQUISITION. 

|N the steps Vane Trevor was encountered by Mr. 
Kincton Knox, in his drab gaiters and portly 
white waistcoat, and white hat, and smiling in 
guileless hospitality, with both hands extended. "Very 
good, Vane, my dear boy very happy now we've got 
you, we'll keep you three weeks at least. You must not 
be running away as usual. We'll not let you off this time, 
mind." 

Vane knew that the hospitable exuberances of the 
worthy gentleman were liable to be overruled by another 
power, and did not combat the hospitable seizure, as 
vigorously as if there had been no appeal. But he chatted 
a while with the old gentleman, and promised to walk 
down and see the plantations, and the new road with him. 
By a sort of silent compromise, this out-door department 
was abandoned to Mr. Kincton Kno > who seldom in- 
vaded the interior administration of the empire, and in 
justice, it must be alleged that the empress seldom inter- 
fered directly with the " woods and forests," and contented 
herself with now and then lifting up hi c fine eyes, and 
mittened hands, as she surveyed his operations from the 
window in a resigned horror, and wondered how Mr, 



The Ladies Make Itiquisition. 177 

Kincton Knox could satisfy his conscience in wasting 
money the way he did ! 

She had learned, however, that his walks, trees, and 
roads, were points on which he might be raised to battle ; 
and as she knew there was little harm in the pursuit, and 
really little, if anything done, more than was needed, and 
as some one must look after it, she conceded the point 
without any systematic resistance, and confined herself to 
the sort of silent protest I have mentioned. 

While Vane Trevor lingered for a few minutes with the 
old gentleman, Master Howard Seymour Knox, who was 
as little accustomed to wait as Louis XIV., stumped into 
the drawing-room, to demand an order upon the game- 
keeper's wife for Vane Trevor's revolver. 

" Vane Trevor come ? " exclaimed Clara. 

" I want a note," cried Howard. 

" We shall hear all about the quarrel," observed the old 
lady emphatically, and with a mysterious nod, to her 
daughter. 

" I won't be kept here all day," cried Master Howard, 
with a stamp. 

" Well, wait a moment," cried Clara, "and you shall 
have the other box of bonbons. I'll ring and send Brooks ; 
but you've to tell me where Vane Trevor is." 

" No I won't, till I get the bonbons." 

Miss Clara was on the point of bursting forth into in- 
vective, but being curious, she did not choose a rupture, 
and only said, 

" And why not, pray ? " 

" Because you cheated me of the shilling you promised 
me the same way, and I told all the servants, and they all 
said you were a beast" 

" I don't know what you mean, Sir." 

"You*/.?, r'veht well," he replied; "you asked me to 



178 All in the Dark. 

tell you all about the tutor, and when I did you said it 
was not worth a farthing, and you would not give 
the shilling you promised; that was cheating; you 
cheat ! " 

" Do you hear him, mamma ? " 

" Howard, my dear ! what's all this ? Tut, tut ! " ex- 
claimed Mrs Kincton Knox. 

The arrival of the bonbons, however, did more to re- 
establish peaceful relations ; and the boy, who was 
anxious to get away, delivered his news as rapidly as 
he could. 

" Yes, Vane Trevor's come. When I and Herbert were 
in the long larch walk he met us, and they seemed very 
glad to meet." 

" Ah ! Like people who knew one another before ? M 
asked Miss Clara, eagerly, in tones little above a 
whisper. 

" Yes, and Vane called Herbert, Maubray yes he 
did." 

" Maubray ? Are you quite sure of that ? " demanded 
the elder lady, peering into his face and forgetting her 
dignity in the intensity of her curiosity. 

"Yes, that I am, quite sure," replied the boy wagging 
his head, and then spinning himself round on his heel. 

" Be quiet) Sir," hissed Miss Clara, clutching him by 
the arm ; " answer me, now do be a good boy and we'll 
let you away in a minute. How do you remember the 
name was Maubray, and not some other name like 
Maubray?" 

" Because I remember Sir Richard Maubray that you 
and mamma's always talking about" 

" We're not always talking about him," said Clara. 

"No, Sir, we're not? repeated the matron, severely. 

"I'll tell you no more, if your both so cross. I 



The Ladies Make Inquisition. 179 

won't" retorted Master Howard, as distinctly as the 
bonbons would allow him. 

" Well, well, will you have done, and answer my 
question? Did he call him Maubray often?" repeated 
Clara. 

| " Yes no. He did, though he called him Maubray 
twice. I'm sure of that." 

Mother and daughter exchanged glances at this point, 
and Mrs. Kincton made a very slow little bow with com- 
pressed lips, and her dark eyes steadily fixed on her 
daughter, and then there was a little " h'm ! " 

"And they seemed to know one another before?" 
said Mrs. Kincton Knox. 

"Yes, I told you that before." 

" And glad to meet ? " she continued. 

" Yes, that is, Vane. I don't think Herbert was." 

Again the ladies interchanged a meaning glance. 

" Where is Vane Trevor now ? " inquired the elder lady, 
gathering up her majestic manner again. 

" He was talking to the governor at the hall-door." 

" Oh ! then we shall see him in a moment," said Mrs. 
Kincton Knox. 

" Mind now, Howard, you're not to say one word to 
Mr. Herbert or to Vane Trevor about your telling us 
anything," added Miss Clara. 

" Aint I though? I just will, both of them, my man, 
unless you pay me my shilling," replied Master 
Howard. 

" Mamma, do you hear him ? " exclaimed Miss Clara 
in a piteous fury. 

"What do you mean, Sir?" interposed his mamma 
vigorously, for she was nearly as much frightened as the 
young lady. 

" I mean I'll tell them ; yes I will, I'm going," and he 



i8o All in the Dark. 

skipped with a horrid grimace, and his thumb to his nose, 
toward the door. 

"Come back, Sir; how dare you?" almost screamed 
Miss Clara. 

"Here, Sir, take your shilling," cried Mrs. Kincton 
Knox, with a stamp on the floor and flashing eye, fumb- 
ling hurriedly at her purse to produce the coin in question 
" There it is, Sir, and remember" 

Whether the oracular "remember" was a menace o- an 
entreaty I know not ; but the young gentleman fixed L e 
coin in his eye after the manner of an eye-glass, and with 
some horrid skips and a grin of triumph at Miss Clara, 
he made his exit. 

" Where can he learn those vile, low tricks ? " exclaimed 
Miss Clara. " I don't believe there is another such boy 
in England. He'll disgrace us, you'll find, and he'll kill 
me, I know." 

" He has been extremely troublesome ; and I'll speak 
to him by-and-by," said the matron. 

" Speak, indeed ; much he cares ! " 

" I'll make him care, though." 

There was a little silence, and the ladies mentally re- 
turned to the more momentous topic from which the extor- 
tion of Howard Seymour had for a moment diverted them. 

" What do you think of it ? " murmured Mrs. Kincton 
Knox. 

<{ Oh ! I think there's but one thing to think," answered 
Miss Clara. 

" I look upon it as perfectly conclusive; and, in fact, his 
appearance tallies so exactly with the descriptions we 
have heard that we hardly needed all this corroboration. 
As it is, I am satisfied." 

At this moment the door opened, and Vane Trevor 
was announced. 




CHAPTER XXXI\. 

TREVOR AND MAUBRAY IN THE DRAWING-ROOM. 

ANE TREVOR was a remote cousin, and so 
received as a kinsman ; he entered and was 
greeted smilingly. 

" We have secured such a treasure since we saw you a 
tutor for my precious Howard; and such a young man 
I can't tell you >fo//what I think of him." (That, perhaps, 
was true). " He's so accomplished." 

" Accomplished is he ? " said Trevor. 

" Well, not, perhaps, in the common acceptation of the 
term, that I know of, but I referred particularly to that 
charming accomplishment of reading aloud with feeling 
and point t you know, so sadly neglected, and yet so con 
ducive to real enjoyment and one's appreciation of good 
authors when cultivated. You would hardly believe what 
a resource it is to us poor solitaries. I am quite in love 
with Mr. Herbert ; and I will answer for Clara there ; 
she is as nearly so as a young lady ought to be." 

Playfulness was not Mrs. Kincton Knox's happiest 
vein. She was tall, tragic, and ungainly; and her con- 
scious graciousness made one uncomfortable, and her 
smile was intimidating. 

" He certainly does read charmingly," threw in Miss 
Clara, 



1 82 All in the Dark. 

"We have grown, I fear," continued Mrs. Kincton 
Knox, "almost too dependent on him for the enjoyment 
of our evenings ; and I sometimes say, quite seriously to 
my girl there, Clara, I do trust we are not spoiling Mr. 
Herbert." 

"He does not look like a spoiled child rather sad 
and seedy, doesn't he ? " replied Vane Trevor. 

" Does he ?" said Miss Clara. 

" You've seen him, then ? " supplemented her mother. 

" Yes ; had that honour as I mounted the steep walk 
how charming that walk is among the fir-trees. But I 
did not see anything very unusual about him." 

" I can only say I like him extremely" observed Mrs. 
Kincton Knox, in a tone which concluded debate. 

" And what do you say, Miss Knox ? " inquired Vane 
Trevor, with one of his- arch cackles. 

" No ; young ladies are not to say all they think, like 
us old people," interposed Mrs. Knox ; " but he's a very 
agreeable young man." 

" Is he ? " said Vane Trevor, with irrepressible amaze- 
ment "That's the first time, by Jove! I ever heard 
poor Maubray " and hereupon he stopped, remembering 
that Maubray's identity was a secret, and he looked, per- 
haps, a little foolish. 

Mrs. Kincton Knox coughed a little, though she was 
glad to be quite sure that Mr. Winston Maubray was safe 
under her roof, and did not want him or Vane Trevor to 
know that she knew it. She therefore coughed a little 
grandly, and also looked a little put out. But Miss Clara, 
with admirable coolness, said quite innocently 

"What of Mr. Maubray? What have you heard of 
him? do tell us. How is poor Sir Richard? We never 
saw his son, you know, here ; and is the quarrel made 
up?" 



Trevor and Maubray in the Drawing-Room. 183 

"That's just what I was going to tell you about," said 
Vane Trevor, scrambling rather clumsily on his legs again 
after his tumble. "Not the least chance none in the 
world of a reconciliation. And the poor old fellow, in 
one of his fits of passion, got a fit, by Jove, and old 
Sprague at Cambridge told me one half his body is per- 
fectly dead, paralytic, you know, and he can't last; so 
Winston, you see, is more eligible than ever." 

" Poor old man ! you ought not to speak with so much 
levity," said Mrs. Kincton Knox. "I did not hear a 
word of it how horrible ! And when had poor Sir 
Richard his paralytic stroke ? " 

"About a week ago. He knew some people yester- 
day ; but they say he's awfully shaken, and his face all 
you know pulled up on one side, and hanging down at 
the other; old Sprague says, a horrible object; by Jove, 
you can't help pitying him, though he was a fearful old 
screw." 

"Melancholy! and he was such a handsome man! 
Dear me! Is his son like him?" said Mrs. Kincton 
Knox ruefully. 

"Why, not particularly just now. They say the two 
sides of his face are pretty much alike; and his right 
limbs are about as lively as his left ; " and Vane Trevor 
cackled very agreeably over this sally. 

"So I should hope, Mr. Trevor," said the matron of 
the high nose and dark brows with a gloomy superiority, 
"and if there is any objection to answering my question, 
I should rather not hear it jested upon, especially with so 
shocking a reference to Sir Richard's calamity whom I 
knew, poor man ! when he was as strong and as good 
looking as you are." 

" But seriously," said Miss Clara, who saw that her 
mother had not left herself room to repeat ner question* 



1 84 All in the Dark. 

" what is he like ? is he light or dark, or tall or short- 
er what ? " 

" Well, he's dark at night, you know, when he's put out 
his candle, and light enough in the daytime, when the 
sun's shining, and he's decidedly short sometimes in his 
temper, I mean he, he, he ! and tall in his talk always," 
replied Vane Trevor, and he enjoyed a very exhilirating 
kugh at his witty conceits. 

"You used to be capable of a little conversation," said 
the matron grandly. "You seem to have abandoned 
yourself to to " 

"To chaff) you were going to say," suggested Vane, 
waggishly. 

" No, certainly not, that's a slang phrase such as is not 
usual among ladies, nor ever spoken at Kincton," retorte \ 
the old lady. 

"Well, it is though, whenever I'm here," he replied 
agreeably. " But I'll' really tell you all I can : there's no- 
thing very remarkable in his appearance ; he's rather tall, 
very light : he has light hair, blue eyes, pretty good bat." 

" What's that ? " demanded the elder lady. 

" He handles the willow pretty well, and would treat 
you to a tolerably straight, well pitched, slow underhand.' 

" I think you intimated that you were about making 
yourself intelligible ? " interposed Mrs. Kincton Knox. 

"And don't you understand me?" inquired Van< 
Trevor of Miss Clara. 

" Yes, I think it's cricket, aint it ? " she replied. 

" Well, you see I was intelligible ; yes, cricket, 
course," replied Vane. 

" I can't say, I'm sure, where Miss Kincton Kno: 
learned those phrases ; it certainly was not in this draw- 
ing-room," observed her mamma, with a gloomy severity, 

" Well, I mean he's a tolerably good cricketer^ and he 



Trevor and Maubray in the. Drawing-Room. 185 

reads poetry, and quarrels with his father, and he's just 
going to step into the poor old fellow's shoes, for,, jesting 
apart, he really is in an awful state from all I can hear." 

" Is it thought he may linger long ? " inquired Mrs. 
Kincton Knox ; " though, indeed, poor man, it is hardly 
desirable he should, from all you say." 

" Any thing but desirable. I fancy he's very shaky in- 
deed, not safe for a week may go any day that's what 
Sprague says, and he's awfully anxious his son should 
come and see him j don't you think he ought ? " said Mr. 
Vane Trevor. 

" That depends," said the old lady thoughtfully, for the 
idea of her bird in the hand flitting suddenly away at old 
Sprague's whistle, to the bush of uncertainty, was uncom- 
fortable and alarming. " I have always understood that 
in a case like poor Sir Richard's nothing can be more un- 
wise, and, humanly speaking, more certain to precipitate 
a fatal catastrophe than a a adopting any step likely to 
be attended with agitation. Nothing of the kind, at least, 
ought to be hazarded for at least six weeks or so, / should 
say, and not even then unless the patient has rallied very 
decidedly, and in such a state as the miserable man now 
Is, a reconciliation would be a mere delusion. 1 should 
srtainly say no to any such proposition, and I can't think 
how Dr. Sprague could contemplate such an experiment 
in any other light than as a possible murder." 

At this moment the drawing-room door opened, and 
William Maubray's pale and sad face appeared at it. 

" Howard says you wished to see me ? " said he. 

"We are very happy, indeed, to see you," replied the 

old lady, graciously. " Pray come in and join us, Mr. 

Herbert. Mr. Herbert, allow me to introduce my cousin, 

Mr. Trevor, You have heard us speak of Mr, Vans 

Revington ? " 



186 All in the Dark. 

" I had the pleasure I met him on his way here, and 
we talked and and I know him quite well/' said 
William, blushing, but coming out with his concluding 
sentence quite stoutly, for before Vane Trevor's sly gaze 
he would have felt like a trickster if he had not. 

But the ladies were determined to suspect nothing, and 
Mrs. Knox observed 

" We make acquaintance very quickly in the country 
a ten minutes' walk together. Mr. Herbert, would you 
object to poor Howard's having a holiday? and, pray, 
join us at lunch, and you really must not leave us now." 

"I oh! very happy yes a holiday certainly," re- 
plied he, like a man whose thoughts were a little scattered, 
and he stood leaning on the back of a chair, and showing, 
as both ladies agreed, by his absent manner and pale and 
saddened countenance, that Vane Trevor had been de- 
livering Doctor Sprague's message, desiring his presence 
it the death-bed of the departing baronet. 





CHAPTER XXXV. 

THEY CONVERSE. 

|E were discussing a knotty point, Mr. Her* 
bert, when you arrived," said Mrs. Kincton 
Knox. " I say that nothing can warrant an 
agitating intrusion upon a sick bed. Mr. Trevor here 
was mentioning a case^-a patient in a most critical state 
who had an unhappy quarrel with his son. The old 
gentleman, a baronet, is now in a most precarious state." 
Miss Clara stole a glance at William, who was bearing it 
like a brick. "A paralytic stroke; and they talked of 
sending for his son ! Was ever such madness heard of? 
If they want to kill the old man outright they could not 
go more direct to their object. I happen to know some- 
thing of that awful complaint. My darling Clara's grand- 
father, my beloved father, was taken in that way a severe 
paralytic attack, from which he was slowly recovering, and 
a servant stupidly dropped a china cup containing my 
dear father's gruel, and broke it a kind of thing which 
always a little excited him and not being able to articu- 
late distinctly, or in any way adequately to express his 
irritation, he had, in about twenty minutes after the occur- 
rence, a second seizure, which quite prostrated him, and 
in fact he never spoke intelligibly after, nor were we cer- 
tain that he recognised one of his immediate family. So 



1 88 All in the Dark. 

trifling are the ways, so mysterious h hem ! and ap- 
parently inadequate the causes, which of course, under 
Divine regulation, in paralytic affections, invariably over- 
power the patient. Now, what I say is this, don't you 
think a son, in such a case, instead of obtruding himself 
at the sick man's bedside, ought to wait quietly for a 
month or two quietly, I would say, in France, or where- 
ever he is, and to allow his father just to rally ? 

William had been looking rather dreamily on the car- 
pet during this long statement, and I am afraid he had 
hardly listened to it as closely as he ought, and on being 
appealed to on the subject he did the best he could, and 
answered 

" It's an awful pity these quarrels." 

"He knows something of the case, too," interposed 
Vane Trevor. 

The ladies looked, one upon the flowers in the vase, 
and the other out of the window, in painful expectation 
of an immediate eclaircissement. But William only nodded 
a little frown at Trevor, to warn him off the dangerous 
ground he was treading, and he went on. 

" The blame is always thrown on the young fellows ; * 
isn't fair." William spoke a little warmly. "It's the 
fault of the old ones a great deal oftener, they are so dic- 
tatorial and unreasonable, and expect you to have no will 
or conscience, or body^or soul, except as they please. 
They forget that they were young themselves once, and 
would not have submitted to it ; and then they talk of 
you as a rebel, by Jove ! and a a parricide almost, for 

presuming to have either a thought or a scruple, or " 

On a sudden William perceived that, fired with his sub- 
ject, he was declaiming a little more vehemently than 
was usual in drawing-rooms, and his inspiration failed 
him. 



They Converse. 189 

" Hear, hear, hear ! " cried Trevor, with a tiny clapping 
Df his hands, and a laugh. 

Miss Clara looked all aglow with his eloquence, and her 
mamma said grandly 

"There's truth, I'm sorry to say, in your remarks. 
Heaven knows I've suffered enough from unreasonable- 
ness, if ever mortal has. Here we sit in shadow of 
that great ugly, positively ugly tree there, and there it 
seems it must stand ! / daren't remove it j " and Mrs. 
Kincton Knox lifted her head and her chin, and looked 
round like a queen shorn of her regalities, and inviting 
the indignant sympathy of the well affected. "There is, 
no question of it, a vast deal of unreasonableness and 
Selfishness among the old. We all feel it," and she hap- 
pened to glance upon Miss Clara, who was smiling a 
little cynically on the snowy ringlets of her little white 
dog, Bijou. She continued fiercely, "And to return to 
the subject, /should think no son, who did not wish to 
kill his father, and to have the world believe so, would 
think of such a thing." 

" Killing's a serious business," observed Trevor. 

" A man killed," observed Mrs. Kincton Knox, " is a 
man lost to society. His place knows him no more. 
All his thoughts perish." 

" And they're not often any great loss," moralised Trevor. 

" Very true ! " acquiesced Mrs. Kincton Knox, with 
alacrity, recollecting how little rational matter her spouse 
ever contributed to the council board of Kincton. " Still, 
I maintain, a son would not like to be supposed to have 
caused the death of his father. That is, unless my views 
of human nature are much too favourable. What do you 
think, Mr. Herbert ? " and the lady turned her prominent 
dark eyes with their whites so curiously veined, encourag- 
ingly upon the young man. 



190 All in the Dark. 

"I think if/ were that fellow," he replied, and Mrs. 
Kincton Knox admired his diplomacy, "I should not 
run the risk." 

" Quite right ! " approved the lady radiantly. 

Trevor looked at his watch and stood up. 

"Your trunk and things, gone up to your room, 
Vane ? " inquired Mrs. Kincton Knox. 

" I've no trunk ; ha, ha ! and no things he, he, he ! 
no, upon my honour. I can't stay, really ; I'm awfully 
sorry ; but my plans were all upset, and I'm going back 
to the station, and must walk at an awful pace too ; only 
half an hour a very short visit ; well, yes, but I could 
not deny myself short as it is and I hope to look in 
upon you again soon." 

" It's very ill-natured, I think," said Miss Clara. 

"Very," said Mrs. Kincton Knox, yet both ladies 
were very well pleased to be relieved of Vane Trevor's 
agreeable society. He would have been in the way un- 
utterably de trop. His eye upon their operations would 
have been disconcerting ; he would have been taking the 
the tutor long walks, or trying, perhaps, to flirt with 
Clara, as he did two years ago, and never leaving her to 
herself. So the regrets and upbraidings with which they 
followed Vane Trevor, who had unconsciously been help* 
ing to mystify them, were mild and a little hypocritical. 




CHAPTER XXXVI. 

THE EVENING. 

IILLIAM MAUBRAY was bidden to luncheon, 
and was sad and abstemious at that pleasant 
refection, and when it was over Mrs. Kincton 
Knox said 

" My dear Clara, it's quite out of the question my going 
with you to-day, I'm suffering so that horrid neuralgia." 

" Oh ! darling ! how sony I am ! " exclaimed Miss 
Clara, with a look of such beautiful pity and affection as 
must have moved William Maubray if he had the slightest 
liking for ministering angels. " What can I do for you ? 
You must, you know, try something." 

" No, love, no ; nature nature and rest. I shall lie 
down for a little ; but you must have your ride all the 
same to Coverdale, and I am certain Mr. Herbert will be 
so kind as to accompany you." 

William Maubray would have given a great deal for a 
solitary ramble ; but of course, he was only too happy, 
and the happy pair scampered off on their ponies side by 
side, and two hours after Miss Clara walked into her 
mamma's room, looking cross and tired, and sat down 
silently in a chair before the cheval glass. 

" Well, dear ? " inquired her mother inquisitively. 

" Nothing, mamma. I hope your head's better ? " 



192 All in the Dark. 

" My head ? Oh ! yes, better, thanks. But how did 
you like your ride ? " 

" Very stupid," answered the young lady. 
" I suppose you've been in one of your tempers, and 
never spoke a word and you know he's so shy ? Will 
you ever learn, Miss Kincton Knox, to command your 
miserable temper ? " exclaimed her mother very grimly, 
but the young lady only flapped the folds of her skirt 
lazily with her whip. 

" You quite mistake, mamma, I'm not cross ; I'm cmy 
tired. I'm sorry you did not let him go oft to the sic* 
old man. He's plainly pining to go and give him Ms 
gruel and his medicine." 

" Did he speak of him ? " asked the old lady. 
" No, nor of anything else : but he's plainly thinking of 
him, and thinks he has murdered him at least he looks 
as if he was going to be hanged, and I don't care if he 
was," answered Miss Clara. 

"You must make allowances, my dear Clara," said 
she. " You forget that the circumstances are very dis- 
tressing." 

" Very cheerful, I should say. Why he hates his 
father, I dare say. Did not you hear the picture he drew 
of him? and it's all hypocrisy, and I don't believe his 
father has really anything to do with his moping." 

"And what do you suppose is the cause of it?" in- 
quired Mrs. Kincton Knox. 

" I really can't tell ; perhaps he's privately married, or in 
love with a milliner perhaps, and that has been the cause 
of this quarrel," she said with an indolent mockery that 
might be serious, and, at all events, puzzled the elder 
lady. 

Ho I stuff, my dear child ! " exclaimed her mother, 
with an uneasy score. " You had better call Brookes 



! 



The Evening. 193 

and get your habit off. And where did you leave 
him?" 

" At the hall door," replied Miss Clara, as she walked 
out of the room. 

" H'm stuff ! " repeated Mrs. Kincton Knox, still more 
uneasily, for she knew that Clara had her wits about her. 

" Married, indeed ! It's probably just this Vane 
Trevor has come here with a long foolish exhortation 
from Doctor what's his name? Sprague and upset 
the young man a little, and perhaps agitated him. He'll 
be quite a different person to-morrow." 

And so indeed it proved. Whatever his secret feelings, 
William Maubray was externally a great deal more like 
himself. In the state which follows such a shock as Wil- 
liam had experienced before the monotony of sadness sets 
in, there is sometimes an oscillation of spirits from ex- 
treme depression to an equally morbid hilarity, the sym- 
bol of excitement only. So in a long ride, which William 
took with the young lady to-day, accompanied by his 
pupil, who, on his pony, entertained himself by pursuing 
the sheep on the hill side, Miss Clara found him very 
agreeable, and also ready at times to philosophise, elo 
quently and sadly, in the sort of Byronic vein into whicl 
bitter young lovers will break. So the sky was brighten 
ing, and William, who suspected nothing of the peculiar 
interest with which his varying moods were observed, wa? 
yet flattered by the gradual but striking improvement of 
his relations, accepted the interest displayed by the ladies 
as a feminine indication of compassion and appreciation, 
and expressed a growing confidence and gratitude, the in- 
direct expressions of which they, perhaps, a little misap- 
prehended. 

In the evening Mrs. Kincton Knox called again for the 
" Lord of Burleigh," not being fertile in resource Miss 



194 AM in the Dark. 

Clara turned her chair toward the fire, and with her feet 
on a boss, near the fender, leaned back, with a handscreen 
in her fingers, and listened. 

" That is what I call poetry ! " exclaimed the matron 
with the decision of a brigadier, and a nod of intimidating 
approbation, toward William, " and so charmingly read \ '* 

" I'm afraid Miss Knox must have grown a little tired 
of it," suggested William. 

" One can never tire of poetry so true to nature," an- 
swered Miss Clara. 

" She's all romance, that creature," confidentially mur- 
mured her mamma, with a compassionating smile. 

" What is it ? " inquired Miss Clara. 

" You're not to hear, but we were saying, weren't we, 
Mr. Herbert ? that she has not a particle of romance in 
her nature," replied her mamma with her gloomy plea 
santry. 

" No romance certainly, and I'm afraid no common 
sense either," replied the young lady naively. 

" Do you write poetry ? " asked the old lady of 
William, 

" You need not ask him, he could not read as he did, 
if he did not write," said Miss Clara turning round in an 
eager glow, which momentary enthusiasm some other 
feeling overpowered, and she turned away again a little 
bashfully. 

"You do write, I see it confessed in your eyes," ex- 
claimed Mrs. Kincton Knox. " He does, Clara, you're 
right. I really think sometimes she's a a fairy." 

"Ask him, mamma, to read us some of his verses," 
pleaded Clara, just a little timidly. 

" You really must, Mr. Herbert no, no, I'll hear of 
no excuses ; our sex has its privileges, you know, ami 
where we say must, opposition vanishes," 



The Evening. 195 

" Really," urged William, " any little attempts of mine 
are so unworthy " 

"We must and will have them to-morrow evening; 
dear me, how the hours do fly. You have no idea, Clara 
dear, how late it is, quite dreadful. I'm really angry 
with you, Mr. Herbert, for beguiling us into such late 
hours." 

So the party broke up, and when Mrs. Kincton Knox 
entered her daughter's room where she was in a dis- 
hevelled stage of preparation for bed, she said, her maid 
being just despatched on a message 

" I really wish, mamma, you'd stop about that Lord of 
Burleigh ; I saw him look quite oddly when you asked 
for it a^ain to-night, and he must know, unless he's a 
fool, that you don't care two pence about poetry, and 
you'll just make him think we know who he is." 

" Pooh ! nonsense, Clara ! don't be ridiculous," said 
her mother, a little awkwardly, for she had a secret sense 
of Clara's superiority. " I don't want you to teach me 
what I'm to do, I hope, and who brought him here, pray, 
and investigated, and, in fact here's Brookes back again 

- and you know we are to have his own verses to-nior 
row night, so we don't want that, nor any more, if you'd 
rather not, and you can't possibly be more sick of it than 
I am." 

So, on the whole well pleased, the ladies betook them- 
selves to their beds, and Mrs. Kincton Knox lay long 
awake, constructing her clumsy castles in the air. 




CHAPTER XXXVII. 

VANE TREVOR AT THE GATE OF GILROYD, 

|EXT morning, at breakfast, as usual, the post- 
bag brought its store of letters and news, and 
Mrs. Kincton Knox dispensed its contents in 
her usual magisterial manner. There were two addressed 
in Vane Trevor's handwriting; one to the tutor, which 
the matron recognised as she sent it round to him in 
Howard's hand, the other to herself. 

" Pray, no ceremony with us," said the lady of tlia 
house, with a gorgeous complacency; "read your letter 
here, Mr. Herbert : we are all opening ours, you see." 

So William Maubray, with an odd little flutter at his 
heart, opened the letter, which he knew would speak of 
those of whom it agitated him to think. 

It was dated from Revington, whither, with a sort of 
home sickness new to him, Trevor had returned almost 
directly after his visit to Kincton. 

Vane Trevor had,* without intending it, left, perhaps, 
on Maubray's mind an impression, that a little more had 
occurred than the progress of the drama could actually 
show. He had not yet committed himself irrevocably ; 
but he had quite made up his mind to take the decisive 
Step, and only awaited the opportunity. 

The day after his arrival he joined the Gilroyd ladies 
as they left the Rector)', where- for the great law 



Vane Trevor at the Gate of Gilroyd. 197 

change and succession is at work continually and evcry- 
wnere the Mainwarings were no more, and good old 
Doctor Wagget was now installed, and beginning to un- 
pack and get his books into their shelves, and he and 
old Miss Wagget were still nodding, and kissing their 
bands, and smiling genially on the door-steps on their 
departing visitors. 

Just here Vane Trevor lighted upon them. How 
lovely Miss Violet Darkwell looked ! Was not that a 
blush, or only the rosy shadow under her bonnet ? 

" A blush, by Jove ! " thought Vane Trevor, and he 
felt as elated as, a few weeks before, he would have been 
had he got a peerage. 

So they stopped in a little groi^p on the road under 
the parsonage trees; and, the usual greeting accom- 
plished, the young man accompanied them on their way 
toward Gilroyd, and said he 

"I looked in the other day, on my way back fron f 
Lowton, on my cousins, the Kincton Knoxes, at Kincton, 
you know, and, by Jove ! I met who do you think ? " 

" I haven't an idea," replied Miss Darkwell, to whom 
he had chiefly addressed himself. 

" Anne Dowlass, I dare say, my roguish, runaway little 
girl," suggested Miss Perfect, inquisitively. 

" Oh, no ! not a girl," answered Trevor. 

" Well, it was the Bishop of Shovel-on-Headley," said 
she firmly. 

" No ; by Jove ! I don't think you'd guess in half an 
hour. Upon my honour ! He ! he ! he ! Well, what do 
you think of Maubray ? " 

"William?" repeated Miss Perfect, faintly, and in a 
tone such as would indicate sudden pain. 

" Yes, by Jove ! the very man, upon my honour as 
large as life. He's " 



198 All in the Dark. 

Suddenly, Vane Trevor recollected that he was not to 
divulge the secret of his being there in the office of 
tutor. 

"Well, he's what is he doing?" urged Aunt Dinah. 

" He's he's staying there ; and, upon my honour 
you won't tell, I know, but, upon my honour the old 
lady, and he ! he ! he ! the young one are both I 
give you my honour in love with him ! " 

And Trevor laughed shrilly. 

"But, I really aint joking I'm quite serious, I do as- 
sure you. The old woman told me, in so many words 
almost, that Clara's in love with him awfully in love, by 
Jove ! " 

Trevor's narrative was told in screams of laughter. 

" And, you know, she's really, awfully pretty : a stun- 
ning girl she was a year or two ago ; and you know that 
kind of thing could not be both in the same house 
and the girl in love with him and nothing come of it. 
It's a case, I assure you ; and it will be a match, as sure 
as I'm walking beside you." 

" H'm ! " ejaculated Aunt Dinah, with a quick little 
nod and closed lips, looking straight before her. 

" How pretty that light is, breaking on the woods ; 
how splendid the colours ; " said Miss Darkwell. 

"Yes well ! It really is now,/0//y/" responded Vane 
Trevor ; and he would have made a pretty little speech 
on that text ; but the presence of Miss Perfect, of course, 
put that out of the question. 

Miss Perfect was silent during nearly all the rest of 
the walk ; and the conversation remained to the young 
people, and Vane Trevor was as tenderly outspoken as 
a lunatic in his case dare be under restraint and observa- 
tion. 

They had reached the poplars, only a stone's throw 






Vane Trevor at the Gate of Gilroyd. 199 

from the gate of Gilroyd, when Miss Perfect asked 
abruptly, " How was the young man looking ? " 

Vane Trevor had just ended a description of old 
Putties, the keeper of the " Garter," whom he had seen 
removed in a drunken apoplexy to the hospital yester- 
day ; and Aunt Dinah's question for a moment puzzled 
him, but he quickly recovered the thread of the by-gone 
allusion. 

" Oh ! Maubray ? I beg pardon. Maubray was look- 
ing very well, I think: a little like a hero in love, of 
course, you know, but very well. He was just going to 
lunch with the ladies when I left, and looked precious 
hungry, I can tell you. I don't think you need trouble 
yourself about Maubray, Miss Perfect, I assure you you 
needn't, for he's taking very good care of himself every 
way, by Jove." 

"I don't trouble myself," said Aunt Dinah, rather 
sternly, interrupting Trevor's agreeable cackle. " He 
has quite broken with me, as I already informed you 
quite, and I don't care who knows it. I shall never in- 
terfere with him or his concerns more. He shall never 
enter that gate, or see my face more ; that's no great 
privation, of course ; but I don't wish his death or de- 
struction, little as he deserves of me, and that's the rea- 
son I asked how he looked ; and, having heard, I don't 
desire to hear more about him, or to mention his name 
again." 

And Miss Perfect stared on Vane Trevor with a grim 
decision, which the young man was a little puzzled how 
to receive, and, with the gold head of his cane to his lip, 
looked up at a cloud, with a rueful and rather vacant 
countenance, intended to express something of a tragic 
sympathy. 

He walked with them to the pretty porch ; but Auat 



2oo All in the Dark. 

Dinah was still absent and grim, and bid him good -bye, 
and shook hands at the door, without asking him inj 
and though he seemed to linger a little, there was no- 
thing for it, but to take his departure, rather vexed. 

That evening was silent and listless at Gilroyd, and 
though Miss Perfect left the parlour early, I think there 
was a seance, for, as she lay in her bed, Violet heard signs 
of life in the study beneath her, and Miss Perfect was 
very thoughtful, and old Winnie Dobbs very sleepy, aii 
next day. 

It was odd, now that Vane Trevor had come to set his 
heart upon marrying Violet Darkwell, that his confi- 
dence in his claims, which he would have thought it 
simple lunacy to question a few weeks ago, began to 
waver. He began to think how that gentlemanlike M*. 
Sergeant Darkwell, with the bright and thoughtful face, 
who was, no doubt, ambitious, would regard the renta 1 
and estate of Revington with those onerous charges upcru 
it ; how Miss Perfect, with her whims and fancies, and 
positive temper, might view the whole thing ; and, lastly, 
whether he was quite so certain of the young lady's " in- 
clinations," as the old novels have it, as he felt ^ little 
time before : and so he lay awake in an agitation of 
modesty, quite new to him. 








CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

VANE TREVOR WALKS DOWN TO SEE MISS VIOLET. 

JOOKING at himself in his glass next morning, 
Vane Trevor pronounced the coup cCtzil " aw- 
fully seedy. This sort of thing, by Jove, it 
will never do, it would wear out any fellow ; where's the 
good in putting off? there's no screw loose, there's nothing 
against me ; I hope I stand pretty well here hang it 
I'll walk down to-day," and he looked over the slopes 
to sunny Gilroyd, " and if a good opportunity turns up, 
I'll speak to Miss Darkwell." 

And though he had taken care, in secret mercy to his 
nerves, to state his resolve hypothetically, his heart made 
two or three strange throbs and experienced a kind of 
sinking like that said to attend, on the eve of battle, an 
order to prepare for action. 

Accordingly, before twelve o'clock Vane Trevor walked 
into the porch of Gilroyd, and rang the bell beside the 
open door, and stood with the gold head of his cane to 
his chin, looking on the woodlands toward Revington, 
and feeling as he might have felt in an ominous dream. 

"Miss Perfect at home?" he inquired of the maid, 
with a haggard simper. 

" She was in the drawing-room," into which room, for- 
getting the preliminary of announcement, he pushed hia 



207 All in the Dark. 

way. She was not there, but he heard her talking to 
Winnie Dobbs in the gallery. 

"Just passing by; afraid I'm very troublesome, but I 
could not resist," pleaded Vane Trevor, as he glanced 
over Miss Perfect's gray silk shoulder, and somewhat old 
fashioned collar, :oward the door, expecting, perhaps, 
another apparition. 

" I'm very glad you've come, Mr. Trevor. Shall we 
sit down ? for I want to ask you to satisfy me upon a 
point." 

This was a day of agitations for Trevor, and his heait 
made an odd little dance, and a sudden drop, and though 
he smiled, he felt his cheek grow a little pale. 

" By Jove ! " thought Trevor as he placed himself near 
Aunt Dinah, " she'll save me a lot of trouble, and open 
the subject all in a sentence." 

He was leaning against the window case, and the 
damask curtains, though somewhat the worse of the sun, 
made a gorgeous drapery about him, as with folded arms, 
and trying to look perfectly serene, he looked down on 
Miss Perfect's face. The lady seemed to have some 
little difficulty about speaking, and cleared her voice, 
and looked out of the window for help, and all the time 
the young man felt very oddly. At last she said 

" I had made up my mind not to allude to the subject, 
but last night, something occurred which has induced me 
just to ask a question or two." Aunt Dinah paused ; and 
with rather pale lips, Vane Trevor smiled an assurance 
that he would be too happy to answer any question which 
Miss Perfect might please to ask. 

Again a little silence again the odd sensation in 
Vane's heart, and the same sickening sense of suspense, 
and he felt he could not stand it much longer. 

" I said I would not allude again to William Maubray, 



1 



Trevor Goes to See Miss Violet. 103 

but I have altered that resolution. I mean, however, to 
ask but a question or two." 

" Oh ? " was all that Trevor uttered, but he felt that 
he could have wished the old woman and William Mau- 
bray in a sack at the bottom of his best pond at Reving- 
ton. 

" I wish to know, the Kincton Knoxes, aren't they a 
leading people rather, in their part of the world ? " 

" Oh, dear, yes. Kincton is one of the best places in 
the county," ejaculated Trevor, who being a kinsman, 
bore a handsome testimony. 

" And and the young lady, Miss Clara Knox, she, 
I suppose, is is admired ? " 

" So she is, by Jove I know, /admired her awfully 
so admired that the fellows won't let one another marry 
her, by Jove ! he, he, he ! Very fine girl, though, and 
I believe her father, or rather her mother, will give her a 
lot of money." 

Miss Perfect looked on the table, not pleased, very 
thoughtfully, and Vane Trevor looked down at her fore- 
shortened countenance listlessly. 

"And you spoke, you remember, of an idea that 
that in fact it would end in a marriage? resumed Miss 
Perfect. 

" Did I really say ? well, but you won't mention what 
I say, upon my honour, and quite seriously, I should not 
wonder a bit. It is not altogether what she said, you 
know, Mrs. Kincton Knox, I mean, though that was as 
strong as you could well imagine but her manner ; I 
know her perfectly, and when she wishes you to under- 
stand a thing and I assure you that's what she wished 
me to suppose and I, really I can't understand it ; it 
seems to me perfectly incomprehensible, like a sort of in- 
Situation, for she's one of the sharpest women alive, Mrs. 



204 All in the Dark. 

Kinclon Knox; but, by Jove, both she and Clara, they 
seem to have quite lost their heads about Maubiay. I 
never heard anything like it, upon my honour." 

And Trevor, who had by this time quite shaken off the 
chill of his suspense, laughed very hilariously, till Aunt 
Dinah said, with some displeasure 

" For the life of me, I can't see anything ridiculous in 
it. William Maubray is better connected than they, and 
he's the handsomest young man I ever beheld in my life ; 
and if she has money enough of her own, for both, I can't 
see what objection or difficulty there can be." 

" Oh ! certainly certainly not on those grounds ; only 
what amused me was, there's a disparity ; you know 
she's, by Jove ! she is she's five years older, and that's 
something." 

" And and if it is to be, how soon do you suppose it 
likely ? " asked Miss Perfect, fixing her eyes anxiously on 
him. 

" Well, you know, I know no more than the man in the 
moon ; but if they really mean it, I don't see wnat's to 
delay it," answered Trevor. 

" Because " hesitated Aunt Dinah, " I have reason to 
know that if that unfortunate young man not that I have 
any reason to care more than anyone else, should marry 
before the lapse of five years, he will be utterly ruined, 
and undone by so doing." 

Vane Trevor stood expecting an astounding revelation, 
but Aunt D : nah proceeded 

" And tnerefore as you are his friend of course it's 
nothing to me I thought you might as well hear it, and 
if you chose to take that trouble, let him know," said 
Miss Perfect. 

He looked a little hard at Miss Perfect, and she as 
steadily on him. 






Trevor Goes to See Miss Violet. *t>3 

" I will, certainly that is, if you think I ought. But 
I hope it won't get me into a scrape with the people 
there." 

" I do think you ought," said Miss Perfect. 

" I I suppose he'll understand the reason ? " suggested 
Vav\e Trevor, half interrogatively. 

" If you say I think, if you say that I said I had 
reason to knoiv " and Aunt Dinah paused. 

Vane Trevor, looking a little amazed, repeated 
I'm to say, you said you had reason to know ? " 

" Yes, and and I think he'll understand and if he 
should not, you may say a -yes, you may, it has reached 
me through Henbane." 

" I beg pardon through what ? " said Vane Trevor, in- 
clining his ear. 

" Henbane," said Miss Perfect very sharply. 

"Henbane?" 

" Yes." 

" By Jove ! " exclaimed Trevor. 

A considerable silence ensued, during which a variety 
of uncomfortable misgivings respecting the state of Miss 
Perfect's mind floated through his own. He concluded, 
however, that there was some language of symbols esta- 
blished between Miss Perfect and her nephew, in which 
Henbane stood for some refractory trustee, or rich old 
uncle. 

So he said, more like himself-^- 

" Well, I shan't forget. I'll take care to Jet him know, 
and you may depend upon ro a " 




CHAPTER XXXIX. 

VANE TREVOR OPENS HIS MIND. 

JFTER a silence, Mr. Vane Trevor, whose 
thoughts were not quite abandoned to Hen- 
bane and his friend William Maubray, but 
had begun to flow in a more selfish channel, said 

" Miss Darkwell, I suppose, in the garden ? " 

" Violet's gone for a few days to our friends, the Main- 
warings, at their new Rectory ; they seem to like it ex- 
tremely." 

" Oh, do they ? That's delightful," said Trevor, who 
looked very dismal. " And so Miss Darkwell is there ? " 

Miss Perfect nodded. 

" I'm I'm very unlucky. I I thought such a fine 
day, I I might have induced you both to to there's 
such a pretty drive to Wilton." 

" Yes I know I'm sure she'd have liked it of all 
things." 

" Do you really think so ? " exclaimed the young man, 
inquiringly. " I wish I wish very much I could I 
could flatter myself." 

Aunt Dinah looked up, and at him earnestly but kindly, 
and said nothing, and so looked down again. There was 
encouragement in that look, and Trevor waxed eloquent. 

" I I wish I could I wish I dare I I think her so 



Vane Trevor Opens His Mind. 207 

beautiful. I I can't express all I think, and I there's 
nothing I would not do to make her friends approve a 
a in fact I should be so much obliged if I thought 

you would wish me well, and be my friend and and 


And Vane Trevor, for want of anything distinct to add 
to all this, came to a pause. 

And Miss Perfect, with a very honest surprise in her 
face, said : 

" Am I to understand, Mr. Vane Trevor ? " and she 
too came to a stop. 

But with those magical words the floodgates of his 
eloquence were opened once more. 

" Yes, I do. I do indeed. I mean to to pro- 
pose for Miss Darkwell, if if I were sure that her 
friends liked the idea, and that I could think she really 
liked me. I came to-day with the intention of speaking 
to her." 

He was now standing erect, no longer leaning against 
the window shutter, and holding his walking-cane very 
hard in both hands, and impressing Miss Perfect with a 
conviction of his being thoroughly in earnest. 

" I tell you frankly, Mr. Trevor," said Aunt Dinah, a 
little flushed with a sympathetic excitement, and evidently 
much pleased, "I did not expect this. I had fancied 
that you were not a likely person to marry, and to say 
truth, I sometimes doubted whether I ought to have 
allowed your visits here so frequently, at least as you 
have made them for the last few weeks. Of course I can 
see nothing that is not desirable, in fact highly advan- 
tageous in the proposal you make. Am I at liberty to 
write to Sergeant Darkwell on the subject?" 

" Oh ! certainly exactly what I should wish." 

"I'm very sure he will see it in the same light that I 



2c8 

do. We all know the Trevors of Ee\ ington, the position 
they have always held ; and though I detest the line they 
took in the great civil war, and think your poor father 
had no business helping to introduce machinery into this 
part of the world as he did, and I always said so, I yet 
can see the many amiable qualities of his son, and I have 
no doubt that you will make a kind and affectionate hus- 
band. I must, however, tell you candidly, that I have 
never spoken of you to Violet Darkwell as a in fact, in 
any other light than that of an acquaintance, and I can- 
not throw any light upon her feelings. You can ascer- 
tain them best for yourself. My belief is, that a girl 
should be left quite free to accept or decline in such 
a case, and I know that her father thinks exactly as 
I do." 

" I may write to Miss Darkwell, do you think ? I sup- 
pose I had better ? " 

"No" said Miss Perfect, with decision ; " were I you I 
_nould much prefer speaking. Depend upon it, there's 
more to be done by speaking. But as you are acquainted 
with her father, don't you think you might write to him ? 
Violet may return in three days, but will not, I think, 
quite so soon ; and meanwhile you will have heard from 
him." 

" I think so. I'll do it, certainly ; and I I feel that 
you're my friend, Miss Perfect ; " and he took her hand, 
and she took his very kindly. 

" I've said my say ; I highly approve, and I'm quite 
certain her father will also ; he agrees with me on most 
points ; he's a very superior man." 

Vane Trevor, there and then, with Aunt Dinah's con- 
currence, wrote his letter to Mr. Sergeant Darkwell ; and 
then he walked with Aunt Dinah in the garden, talking 
incessantly of Violet, and it must be added, very much 






Vam Trevor Opens His Mind. 209 

pleased with Miss Perfect's evident satisfaction and 
tlation ; and he remained to dinner, a situation which 
two months ago would have appeared the most ludicrous 
and dismal in nature, and he gabbled of his lady love, 
asking questions and starting plans of all sorts. 

And time flew so in this tete-a-tete, that they were sur- 
prised by the entrance of the household with the Bible and 
Prayer-book ; and Mr. Vane Trevor, though not a par- 
ticularly sober-minded youth, could not avoid accepting 
the role of the absent William Maubray, and officiated, 
much to the edification of the maids, in whose eyes the 
owner of Revington was a very high personage indeed ; 
and " the chapter " for that evening delighted and over- 
awed them, and they could hardly believe their eyes 
that the great squire of Revington was ^ent up with them 
in that small drawing-room, and kneeling and saying 
"amen," and repeating the Lord's Prayer after Miss 
Perfect, " as mild and humble " as one of themselves. 

When he got home to Revington, not being able to 
tranquillise his mind, he vented his excitement upon the 
two letters which I have mentioned as having reached 
the family of Kincton, at the breakfast-table. 

" Read that, Clara, my dear," said Mrs. Kincton Knox, 
with a funereal nod and in a cautious under-tone. 

Miss Clara read the letter, and when she came to the 
passage which related that poor old Sir Richard Maubray 
had had a second and much severer paralytic stroke, 
and was now in articulo, she raised her eyes for a 
moment to her mother's and both for a moment looked 
with a solemn shrewdness into the other's ; Miss Clara 
dropped hers again to the letter, and then stole a mo- 
mentary glance at William, who looked as if he were 
very ill. 

As a man who receives a- letter announping that judg- 



210 



All in the Dark. 



ment is marked, and bailiffs on his track, will hide away 
the awful crumpled note in his pocket, and try to beguile 
his friends by a pallid smile, and a vague and incoherent 
attempt to join in the conversation, so William strove to 
seem quite unconcerned, and the more he tried the more 
".onscious was he of his failure. 





CHAPTER XL. 

.IRS. KINCTON KNOX PROPOSES A WALK WITH WILLIAM. 

|N fact William Maubray had received a conceited 
and exulting letter from Trevor, written in the 
expansion of his triumph once more as the 
Lord of Revington, the representative of the historic 
Trevors, the man of traditions and prestige, before whom 
the world bowed down and displayed its treasures, and 
who being restored to reason and self-estimation by his 
conversation with Miss Perfect, knew well what a prize 
he was what a sacrifice he was making, and yet bore 
and gave away all with a splendid magnanimity. 

So, as he says, " It is all virtually settled. I have talked 
fully with Miss Perfect, a very intelligent and superior 
woman, who looks upon the situation just as I could 
wish; and I have written announcing my intentions to 
her father, and under such auspices, and with the 
evidence I hope I have, of not being quite indifferent 
where I most wished to please, I almost venture to ask 
for your congratulations," &c. 

"He is quite right, it is all over ; she likes him, I saw 
that long ago ; I fancied she would have been a little 
harder to please ; they fall in love with any fellow that's 
tall, and pink, and white, and dresses absurdly, and talks 



212 Ail in the Ddrk. 

like a fool, provided he has money money d- - 
money 1" 

Such were the mutterings of William Maubray, as he 
leaned dismally on the window of the school-room, and 
looked out upon the sear and thinning foliage of tiie late 
autumn. 

" This is very important this about unfortunate Sir 
Richard ; his son will succeed immediately ; but he 
seems a good deal, indeed very much agitated ; however, 
it's a great point in his favour <?///<?rwise." So said Mrs. 
Kincton Knox to her daughter, so soon as being alone 
together they could safely talk over the missives of the 
breakfast table. 

" I rather think he has been summoned to the dying 
man, and he'll go he must and we shall never see 
more of him," said Miss Clara, with superb indifference. 

" Yes, of course, it may have been, I was going to say 
sc," said her mother, who, however, had not seen that 
view. " I'll make him come out and walk up and down 
the terrace with me a little, poor young man." 

" You'll do him no good by that," said the young lady, 
with a sneer. 

" We'll see that, Miss Kincton Knox ; at all events, it 
will do no good sitting here, and sneering into the fire ; 
please sit a little away and raise the hand screen, unless 
you really wish to ruin your complexion." 

" It can't be of the least importance to anyone whether 
I do or not, certainly not to me? said the young lady, 
who, however, took her advice peevishly. 

" You are one of those conceited young persons ; 
pray allow me to speak, I'm your mother, and have 
a right I hope to speak in this house who fancy 
that no one can see anything but they I'm not 
disposed to flatter you \ I never did flatter you \ but 



Mrs. Knox Proposes a Walk with William. 213 

I think the young man (her voice was lowered here) 
likes you I do. I'm sure he does. It can't possibly be 
for my sake that he likes coming every evening to read 
all that stuff for us. You make no allowance for the 
position he is in, his father dying, in the very crisis of a 
painful domestic quarrel; it must be most uncomfortable ; 
and then he's here in a position which precludes his 
littering any sentiments except such as should be found 
on the lips of a resident teacher. I've frequently ob- 
served him on the point of speaking in his real character, 
and chilled in a moment by the recollection of the ap- 
parent distance between us ; but I think I know some- 
thing of countenance, and tones, and those indications 
of feeling, which are more and more significant than 
words." 

Miss Clara made no sign by look, word or motion ; and 
after a little pause her mamma went on sturdily. 

" Yes, I ought, at my time of life, and having been I 
may say a good deal admired in my day, and married, 
and not quite as I might have been perhaps, but still 
pretty well. I ought to know something more of such 
matters than my daughter, I think, and I can't be mis- 
taken. I don't say passion, I say a liking a fancy, and 
that there is I'll stake my life. If you only take the 
trouble to think you'll see. I hold it quite impossible 
that a young man should be as he is, alone for several 
weeks in a country-house with a person, I will say, of 
your advantages and attractions without some such feel- 
ing, im -possible? 

Miss Kincton Knox looked indolently on her fair 
image in the mirror at the further end of the room. 

" In those rides he and Howard have taken with you, 
I venture to say he has said thing? which / should 
understood had I been by," 



Ji4 All in the Dark. 

' I told you he never said anything anything parti* 
cular anything he might not have said to anyone else,'* 1 
taid the young lady, wearily. "He is evidently very 
shy, I allow." 

" Very ! extremely shy," acquiesced her mamma, ea- 
gerly; "and when all these things are considered, I 
don't think in the time you could possibly have expected 
more." 

" I never expected anything," said Miss Clara, with 
another weary sneer. 

" Didn't you ? then I did," answered the matron. 

Miss Clara simply yawned. 

" You are in one of your unfortunate tempers. Don't 
you think, Miss Kincton Knox, even on the supposition 
that he is about leaving our house, that you may as well 
command your spirit of opposition and ill temper, which 
has uniformly defeated every endeavour of mine to be 
of use to you, and here you are at eight-and-twenty." 
The young lady looked round alarmed, but there 
was no listener, "and you seem to have learned no- 
thing." 

" I'll write all round the country, and tell the people 
I'm eight-and-twenty or thirty, for anything I know, if 
you have no objection. I don't see any harm it can do ; 
telling truth perhaps mayn't do one much good : but if 
I've learned nothing else, I've learned this at all events, 
that there's absolutely no good in the other course." 

" I don't know what you mean by courses. No one I 
hope has been committing any fraud in this house. If 
you please to tell people you are thirty, which is perfectly 
contrary to fact, you must only take the consequences. 
Your miserable temper, Clara, has been the ruin of you, 
and when I'm in my grave you'll repent it." 

So saying she left the room, and coming down in a 



Mrs. Knox Proposes a Walk with William. 215 

few minutes in a black velvet garment, trimmed with 
ermine, and with a rnuff of the same judicial fur, she 
repaired to the school-room, where, much to William's 
telief, she graciously begged a holiday for Howard, and 
then asked William with, at the end of her invitation, a 
great smile, which plainly said, " I know you can hardly 
believe your ears but it's true notwithstanding," to lend an 
old woman his arm in a walk up and down the terrace. 

William was of course at her service, though the 
honour was one which at that moment was almost 
oppressive. 





CHAPTER XLI. 

HOW THEY TALKED. 

|FTER a few turns, and some little talk, Mrs. 
Kincton Knox said : 

" I'm afraid, Mr. Herbert, like most of us, 
young as you are, you have your troubles. You will 
excuse an old woman, old enough to be your mother, 
and who likes you, who really feels a very deep interest 
*n you, for saying so. I wish I wish, in fact, there was 
A little more confidence, but all in good time. I said 
you were you were it's perhaps impertinent of me to 
say I observed it, but my motive is not curiosity, nor, 
you will believe, unkind. I did see you were distressed 
this morning by the letter that reached you. I trust 
there was no illness, nor " 

" No, nothing that is which I had not which was 
not," he replied. " Nothing very unexpected." 

" For if there was any necessity, any wish to leave 
Kincton for a little, I should offer my poor services as 
a substitute with your pupil, if you would trust him to 
me." 

Although her graciousness was oppressive, and her 
playfulness awful, there were welcome signs of sympathy 
in this speech, and William Maubray greeted them with 
Something like confidence, and, said he ; 



How they Talked. 217 

"It's awfully kind of you, Mrs. Kincton Knox, co 
think about me. i I don't know exactly what to say, 
except that I am very grateful, and and it's quite true, 
I've had a gre?.t deal of vexation and suffering a kind 
of quarrel a * ery bad quarrel, indeed, at home, as I call 
it, and and some other things." 

" Other things ! no doubt. There is one trouble to 
which the young are exposed, and from which old people 
are quite exempt. The course of true love, you know, 
as our great moralist says, never did run smooth." 

Hf r prominent eyes were fixed with an awful archness 
upon Maubray, and conscious as he was, he blushed and 
paled under her gaze, and was dumb. 

'* My maxim in all such cases is, never despair. When 
a young man is endowed, like you, with good looks, 
and refinement. You see I am talking to you almost as 
I would to a son, that darling boy of mine is such a link, 
and one grows so soon to know a guest, and those 
delightful evenings, and I think I think, Mr. Herbert, 
I can see a little with my old eyes, and I've divined 
your secret." 

" I may that is, I think it may have been a 
fancy, just. I don't know," said William, very much 
put out 

"But 1 know. You may be perfectly certain you 
are in love, if you aint quite certain that you are not. 
Trust an old woman who has seen something of life 
that is, of human nature," insisted Mrs. Kincton 
Knox. 

" I I don't know, I did not know it myself until, I 
think, within the last few days. I dare say I'm a great 
fool. I'm sure I am, in fact, and I ought not to have 
allowed but I really did not know." 

fie suspected that Trevor had told all he knew of life 



2i8 All in the Dark. 

story, and that the women, with the sagacity of their 
had divined the rest. 

" You see, Mr. Herbert, I have not guessed amiss. 
When I see a young person very much dejected and dis- 
trait, I at; once suspect a romajice ; and now let me say 
a word of comfort, derived from observation. As I said 
before I've known such things happen never despair 
There is a spark of romance in our sex as well as in 
yours. I think I may be of use to you. I dare say 
things are not quite so desperate as they appear. But do 
trust me do be frank." 

" I will. I'll tell you everything. I I don't know 
where to begin. But I'm so much obliged. I've no 
one to speak to, and " 

At this moment the "darling boy" Howard bounced 
from behind a thick shrub, with a shriek which was 
echoed by his fond mother, who, if anything so dignified 
could jump, did jump, and even William's manly heart 
made an uncomfortable bounce in his breast. At the 
same time Master Howard Seymour turned his ankle, 
and tumbled with a second horrid roar on the walk, from 
which his mother and his instructor lifted him, not much 
hurt, but bellowing in a fury, and requiring to be con- 
ducted for comfort to the house. 

" I shall call upon you again, Mr. Herbert, when my 
poor darling is better, and we can there, there ! my 
rosebud," began Mrs. Kincton Knox, distracted between 
her curiosity and her compassion. 

"Shall I take him on my back? Get up. And so, 
he took the urchin, who was hopping round them in 
circles with hideous uproar, in his arms, and bore him 
away beside his anxious parent towards the house, where 
having ministered to the sufferer, Mrs. Kincton Knox 
looked into the drawing-room, and found Miss Clara 



How they Talked. 219 

seated by the fire, with her slender feet as usual, on a 
boss, reading her novel. 

Mrs. Kincton Knox, stooping over her, kissed her, 
and Miss Clara, knowing that the unusual caress indicated 
something extraordinary, looked up with a dreary curi- 
osity into her mother's face. When they were tete-ci-tete^ 
these ladies did not trouble one another much with 
smiles or caresses. Still her mother was smiling with 
a mysterious triumph, and nodded encouragingly upon 
her. 

"Well?" asked Miss Clara. 

" I think you'll find that I was right, and that some- 
body will ask you a question before long," answered her 
mother, with an oracular smile. 

Miss Clara certainly did look a little interested at this 
intimation, and sat up with comparative energy, looking 
rather earnestly into her mother's prominent, hard brown 
eyes. 

" He's been talking very, I may say, frankly to me, 
and although we were interrupted by an accident, 
yet there was no mistaking him. At least that's my 
opinion." 

And Mrs. Kincton Knox sat down, and with her 
imposing coiffure nodding over her daughter's ear, re- 
counted, with perhaps some little colouring, her interest- 
ing conversation with William Maubray. While this 
conference was proceeding, the door opened, and Mr. 
Kincton Knox, his gloves, white hat, and stick in his 
hand, walked in. 

It was one of Mrs. Kincton Knox's unpublished 
theories that her husband's presence in the drawing-room 
was a trespass, as that of a cow among the flower-beds 
under the window. 

As that portly figure in the gray woollen suit and white 

p 



220 All in the Dark. 

waistcoat entered mildly, the matron sat erect, and eyed 
him with a gaze of astonishment, which, however, was 
quite lost upon him, as he had not his spectacles on. 

"I hope, Mr. Kincton Knox, your shoes are not 
covered with mud? unless you are prepared to buy 
another carpet," she said, glancing at the clumsy articles 
in question. 

" Oh, dear ! no I haven't been out just going but 
I want you and Clara to look over there," and he pointed 
with his stick, at which Mrs. Kincton Knox winced with 
the ejaculation, " The China ! " 

"You see those three trees," he continued, approach- 
ing the window with his stick extended. 

" Yes, you needn't go on ; perfectly" she answered. 

" Well, the one to the right is, in fact, I think it's an 
ugly tree ; I've been for a long time considering it. You 
see it there, Clara, on the rising ground, near the 
paling ? " . 

She did. 

" Well, I'm thinking of taking him down ; what do you 
say ? " 

" Do lower your stick, Mr. Kincton Knox, pray, we 
can see perfectly without breaking anything," expostulated 
his wife. 

" Well, what do you say ? " he repeated, pointing with 
his hand instead. 

" Do you want my opinion as to what trees should 
come down ? " said Mrs. Knox, with admirable 
verance. " I shall be happy to give it with respect to all- 
as to that particular tree it is so far away, I really don' 
think the question worth debating." 

41 Take it down, papa," said Miss Clara, who rath< 
liked her father, and encouraged him when too much 
down. " I really think you're always right about trees, 



How they Talked. 221 

think you've such wonderful taste, I do indeed, and judg- 
ment about all those things." 

The old man gave her a hearty kiss on the cheek, and 
smiling ruddily, said 

"Well, I think I ought; I've read something, and 
thought something on the subject, and as you don't dis- 
sent, my dear, and Clara says it's to come down down it 
comes. She's looking very pretty ; egad she is wonder- 
fully pretty, she is, to-day," 

" Folly ! " exclaimed Miss Clara, pleased notwithstand- 
ing. 

" Other people think her good-looking too, I can tell 
you," exclaimed her mother, whose thoughts were all in 
that channel, and who could not forbear saying something 
on the subject. " I think, even you, Mr. Kincton Knox, 
will see that I have done my duty by our child, and have 
been the means under Providence of promoting her hap- 
piness." 

" And what is it ? " said Mr. Kincton Knox, looking 
solemnly on his daughter. 

" I don't know that there is anything at all," replied 
she quietly. 

Mrs. Kincton Knox beckoned him imperiously, and 
they drew near the window, while the young lady resumed 
her novel. 

" He's in love with her," she murmured. 

"Who, my dear?" 

" Mr. Maubray." 

" Oh ! is he twhat Mr. Maubray ? " inquired the old 
gentleman. 

"Winston Maubray probably Sir Winston Maubray, 
at this moment ; his father, you know, is dying, if not 
dead." 

" Sir Richard, you mean ? " 



222 All in the Dark. 

"Of course, I mean Sir Richard." 

" Yes, he is ; he wasn't a bad fellow, poor Maubray. 
But it's a long time thirty thirty-*^/ years yes since 
we were at Oxford." 

" And his son's in the house." 

"Here?" 

" Yes, this house, here" 

" Very happy to see him, I'm sure, very happy we'll 
do all in our power," said Mr. Kincton Knox, very much 
at sea as to the cause of his arrival. 

"You know Mr. Herbert? " 

"Yes." 

" Well, that's he Mr. Herbert is Mr. Winston Maubray. 
If you were to stare till Doomsday it won't change the 
fact ; here he is, and has been and has confessed to me 
that he likes Clara. He's very modest, almost shy, and 
without any kind of management on my part; had I 
stooped to that as other mothers do, she'd have been 
married, no doubt, long ago simply placing them under 
the same roof, perceiving that he was a gentleman ; ascer- 
taining who he was, I left the rest to to you see, and 
the consequence is as I've told you, and and humanly 
speaking she'll be Lady Maubray." 

"Oh!" said Mr. Kincton Knox. 

" Perhaps you don't like it ? " 

" Oh ! like it ? very well ; but she's very young 
there's no great hurry ; I would not hurry her." 

" Pooh ! " exclaimed Mrs. Kincton Knox, turning 
abruptly away from her husband, one of whose teasing 
hallucinations was that Clara had hardly emerged from 
tne nursery. 




CHAFFER XLIL 

CONFIDENCES. 

KINCTON KNOX, still in walking costume, 
entered the school-room, intending to invite 
the pseudo-tutor to continue his walk with her ; 
and with one of her awful smiles she began : 

" I've come to claim your promise, Mr. Maubray." 

The name had escaped her. It reverberated in her 
ear like a cannon-shot. Hardly less astounded stood our 
friend William before her. For a full minute she could 
not think of a presentable fib, and stared at him a good 
deal flushed, and dropped her huge, goggle eyes upon a 
" copy book " of Master Howard's, which she raised and 
inspected with a sudden interest, and having read 

" Necessity is the mo " 

" Necessity is the moth " 

"Necessity is the moth" 5 ' 

" Necessity is the mo" 

upon its successive lines, she replaced it frrmly, raised her 
head and said 

" I have addressed you by the name of Maubray, which 
I've learned, just five minutes since, is your real name; 
but, should you prefer my employing that of Herbert 
my using the other, indeed, was simply an accident ; and, 



224 Att in the JJark. 

perhaps, it is better I shall certainly do so. Youi rrttle 
confidence has interested me unaffectedly very much, 
indeed deeply interested me; the more particularly as 
Mr. Kincton Knox was once acquainted with a family of 
your name. Sir Richard Maubray, possibly a relation." 

William, who was still a little confused, assented, and 
the lady, with growing confidence, proceeded : 

" You mentioned some unhappy family discord ; and 
it struck me Mr. Kincton Knox, you know, and I in 
fact, we have a good many friends, that possibly some a 
intervention " 

" Oh ! thanks ; very kind of you; but I don't know any- 
one likely to have much influence except, perhaps, Mr. 
Wagget ; and I was thinking of writing to him, although 
I hardly know riim sufficiently." 

" And, may I ask who Mr. Wagget is ? " inquired the 
lady, who had intentions of taking the carriage of the 
affair. 

" The clergyman a very good man, I believe." 

" Oh ! in attendance at the sick bed ? " inquired the 
matron, with proper awe. 

" No no ; not that I know of; but a very old friend 
of my aunt's." 

" I see I understand and he and your aunt would 
unite their influence to reconcile you." 

" Oh, my quarrel, as we've been calling it, is with my 
aunt." 

" Oh ! oh ! I see, and your father has taken it up ? " 
suggested Mrs. Kincton Knox, promptly. 

" My father's dead," said William, with the gravity be- 
coming such an announcement. 

" Oh ! dear me ! I'm shocked to think I should I 
beg your pardon. I ought to have anticipated. You 
have, I assure you, my deep sympathy all our syrapa- 



Confidences, 225 

thies. I do recollect now having heard something of his 
illness; but, dear! oh, dear ! What a world it is." 

William could only bow, with his former seriousness. 
It was more than twenty years since his excellent father 
had deceased ; and though he could not remember, Mrs. 
Kincton Knox very well might, an event of that date. 
Still the fervour of her surprise and her sympathy were, 
considering all things, a little uncalled for. 

"The rupture, then, is with your aunt dear me ! you 
must have wonderful self-command, admirable admira- 
ble, in so young a person." A brief pause followed this 
oracular speech. 

" And your aunt is married ? " inquired Mrs. Kincton 
Knox. 

" No, unmarried in fact an old maid," he replied. 

"Oh! yes, quite so. Then she's Miss Maubray?" 
said the lady. 

" No, Miss Perfect? said he. 

" Miss Perfect, maternal aunt, it must be," and Mrs. 
Kincton Knox paused, a little perplexed, for she did not 
recollect that name in that interesting page in the Peerage, 
which she had looked into more than once. She con- 
cluded, however, it must be so, and said, slowly, " I see 
I see." 

" And what you'll do me the justice to believe, it aint 
curiosity but a higher motive that actuates me what is 
the ground of this unhappy dispute ? " 

"She has set her heart on my going into the Church," 
said William sadly, " and I'm not fit for it." 

" Certainly? exclaimed Mrs. Kincton Knox, " nothing, 
begging the old lady's pardon, could be more absurd 
you're not fit of course, nor is it fit for you there is no 
fitness whatei'er. There's the Very Rev. the Earl of 
Epsom, and the Rev. Sir James St. Leger, and many 



220 All in the Dark. 

others I could name. Can anything be more ridiculous r 
They both have their estates and position to look after : 
and their ordination vow pledges them to give their en- 
tire thoughts to their holy calling. I and Mr. Kincton 
Knox have had many arguments upon the subject ; as 
you see, I'm quite with you. Mr. Mr. Herbert, you 
must allow me still to call you by that name that dear 
old name. I was going to say " 

William could only acquiesce a little puzzled at her 
general exuberance ; she seemed, in fact, quite tipsy with 
good nature. How little one can judge of character at 
frst sight ! 

" And, of course, it is not for me to say but your re- 
serve about your name I suppose that is at an end. 
Since the melancholy termination of your hopes and 
fears I mean there can hardly be now that you apprise 
me of your domestic loss." 

" It was entirely in deference to my aunfs prejudices, 
that Doctor Sprague, in fact," began William. 

" I know, an old friend of poor Sir Richard's ; but 
whatever else you do, I suppose we must make up our 
minds to lose you for a week or so ; your absence would 
be of course remarked upon, in fact, those feelings never 
frarvive the grave, and there are sacrifices to decorum. 
Your friends, and you know there are those here who 
feel an interest ; no one could advise your staying away.' 

" My aunt is not ill ? " said William with a sudden and 
horrible misgiving, for the lady's manner was unmistak- 
ably funereal. 

"111? I haven't heard. I have not the honour of 
knowing Miss Purity," said Mrs. Kincton Knox. 

"Perfect? interrupted William " thank God ! I mean 
that she's not ill." 

" I was thinking not of your aunt, but of your poor 



Confidences. 227 

father; there are things to be looked after; you are of 
age." 

" Yes, three-and-twenty," said William, with a coolness 
that under so sudden a bereavement was admirable. 

"Not quite that, ta/0-and-twenty last May," said the 
student of the Peerage. 

William knew he was right, but the point, an odd 
one for Mrs. Kincton Knox to raise was not worth 
disputing. 

"And, considering the circumstances under which, 
although you will not admit the estrangement, poor Sir 
Richard Maubray has been taken " 

" Sir Richard ! Is Sir Richard dead ? " exclaimed 
Wil'iam. 

" Dead ! of course he is dead. Why you told me so 
yourself, this moment." 

" I I couldn't; I I didn't know I if I said any- 
thing like that, it was the merest slip/'' 

" He's either dead or alive, Sir, I suppose; and, whether 
intentionally or by a slip, it is for you to determine ; but 
I'm positive you did tell me that he's dead; and if he be 
so, pray, as between friends, let there an end of con- 
cealments, which can have no object or effect but a few 
hours' delay in making known a fact which must imme- 
diately appear in all the newspapers," expostulated Mrs. 
Kincton Knox, as nearly offended as it was possible to be 
with so very eligible a young man, so opportunely placed, 
and in so docile a mood. 

" He's dying, at all events," she added. 

" That I know," said William, with that coolness which 
had before struck Mrs. Kincton Knox, during this inter- 
view, as a new filial phenomenon. 

" And although we shall miss you, some of us very 
much, yet, of course, knowing all, we have no claim no 



*28 All in the Dark. 

right only you must pledge me your honour you really 
must." She was holding his hand and pressed it impres- 
sively between both hers, "that you won't forget your 
Kincton friends that so soon as you can, you will return, 
and give us at least those weeks on which we reckon." 

" It is very kind it's very good of you. It is very 
odd, but I had such a wish to go, just for a day or two 
only to see Dr. Sprague and to consult him about writ- 
ing to Gilroyd before finally determining on a course of 
life. I was thinking of in fact going away and leaving 
England altogether." 

Mrs. Kincton Knox stared, and at last asked 

" Who is Gilroyd ? " 

" My aunt's house, a small place, Gilroyd Hall." 

"I was merely thinking of your attending poor Sir 
Richard's obsequies." 

"The funeral? I I should not like to attend it un- 
invited," answered William. " I don't know that I should 
be a welcome guest ; in fact, I know I should not young 
Maubray " 

" Your brother ?" inquired the lady, who did not re- 
member any such incumbrance in the record she had 
consulted. 

" No, my cousin." 

" Cousin ? And what right could a cousin pretend to 
exclude you from your father's funeral ? " exclaimed Mrs. 
Kincton Knox, unfeignedly amazed. 

"I'm speaking of Sir Richard Maubray, my uncle. 
My father has been a long time dead when I was a mere 
child." 

" Oh, yes, of course dead a long time," repeated Mrs. 
Kincton Knox, slowly, as the horrible bewilderment in 
which she had been lost began to clear away. " Oh, yes, 
your uncle, Sir Richard Maubray; of course of course 






Confidences. 229 

that would alter I / was speaking of your father I 
did not know you had lost him so long ago it, of course, 
it's quite another thing, and a and you wish to go to 
Mrs. Purity ? " 

"No Perfect not to go there not to Gilroyd, 

only to Cambridge, to see Doctor Sprague." 

"Very well a very well I don't see I shall mention 
it to Mr. Kincton Knox ; have you anything more to say 
to me, Mr. Mr. pray what am I to call you ? Herbert, 
I suppose?" 

" Nothing, but to thank you you've been so good, so 
very kind to me." 

" I I make it a rule to be kind to a to everybody. 
I endeavour to be so I believe I have" said the majestic 
lady with a dignity indescribably dry. " I shall mention 
your wish to Mr. Kincton Knox. Good-evening, Mr. 
Mr. Herbert." 

It seemed to our friend William, that the lady was 
very much offended with him ; but what he had done to 
provoke her resentment he could not divine. He re- 
proached himself after the door had closed, for not hav- 
ing asked her ; but perhaps an opportunity would offer, 
or he might make one, he could not bear the idea of hav- 
ing wounded a heart which had shown such friendly lean- 
ings towards him. 




CHAPTER XLIII. 

MR. KINCTON KNOX RECEIVES A SUMMONS. 

JR. KINCTON KNOX, with a couple of dogs 
at his heels, was tranquilly consulting his chief 
commissioner of woods and forests, when he 
was summoned from his sylvan discourses by a loud tap- 
ping on his study window, within whose frame he saw, 
like a full-length portrait of Mrs. Siddons, on a sign- 
board, if such a thing exists, the commanding figure of 
his wife, who was beckoning him imperiously. 

The window at which she stood was in fact a glass 
door opening upon two steps, to which the peaceable old 
gentleman of sixty-two wonderingly drew near. 

"Come in," she exclaimed, beckoning again grimly, 
and superadding a fierce nod. 

So up went the sash, and the little hatch which sim- 
ulated a window-sill was pulled open by the old gentle 
man, who was vexed somewhat at the interruption. 

She read this in his honest countenance, and said, as 
he entered 

" I don't mean to detain you, Mr. Kincton Knox, I 
shan't keep you more than five minutes away from your 
timber ; but I think, for once, you may give that time to 
yawt family. It's becoming a little too much for me, 
perfectly unaided as I've always been." 



Mr. Kincton Knox Receives a Summons. 231 

"Well, I'm sorry you're annoyed. Something has 
happened, I suppose. What do you wish me to do ? " 
said that accommodating gentleman in the gray tweed 
and copious white waistcoat. 

" I told you, Mr. Kincton Knox, if you remember, 
when your friend, Doctor Sprague, of whose character, 
recollect, 2 know nothing, except from your representa- 
tions I told you distinctly my impression when that gen- 
tleman was persuading you to accept the person who's 
here in the capacity of tutor, under a feigned name. I 
then stated my conviction that there was danger in dis- 
guise. I declared myself unable to assign any creditable 
reason for such a step. Wiser people, however, thought 
differently my scruples were overruled by you and your 
friend Doctor Doctor what's his name ? " 

" Sprague eh ? " said her husband. 

" Yes Sprague. It is not the first time that my warn- 
ing voice has been disregarded. It does not in this 
case signify much fortunately very little ; but it is not 
pleasant to have one's house made a scene of duplicity to 
please Dr. Sprague, or to convenience some low young 
puppy." 

" I thought you said he was the son of my friend Mau- 
bray Sir Richard, you know ? " 

"It signifies very little whose son he is; but he's not 
I simply conjectured he might, and certainly every- 
thing was, artfully or not I can't say, laid in train to in- 
duce that belief on my part ; but he's not I thought it 
best to clear it up. He says he's some relation good- 
ness knows ; but in point of everything else he's a mere 
pretender the merest adventurer, and the sooner we 
part with him the better." 

"And what do you wish me to do?" said Mr. Kincton 
Knox, with some little vehemence. 



232 All in the Dark. 

"I've given you my views," replied the lady. 

" Yes, but you like to do everything yourself, and you 
always say I'm wrong whatever I say or do" said the old 
gentleman, sonorously, flushing a little, and prodding the 
point of his stick on the floor. 

" See the young man and dismiss him," said his wife, 
peremptorily. 

" Well, that's easily done, of course. But what has he 
done ? there ought to be a raz-son." 

" The reason is that I'm tired of disguises. We can't 
go on in that absurd manner. It never was known at 
Kincton, and I " 

Suddenly Mrs. Kincton Knox paused in her sentence, 
and with a great rustling hurried to the study window, 
where she began to knock with a vehemence which 
alarmed her husband for the safety of his panes. 

The object of the summons was Miss Clara in thai 
exquisitely becoming black velvet cloak and little bonnet 
which was so nearly irresistible, all grace and radian C6j 
and smiling upon whom ? Why, upon that odious 
tutor, to whom she was pointing out some of those 
flowers which she claimed to have planted and tended 
with her own fingers. 

Her mother beckoned fiercely. 

" Assist me, if you please, Mr. Kincton Knox ; open 
this horrid window, no one else can." 

So it was opened, and she called rather huskily to 
Clara to come in. 

" I want to say a word to you, please." 

And without condescending to perceive William Mau- 
bray, who had raised his hat, she said, with an appear- 
ance of excitement not of a pleasant kind, and in pre- 
sence of which somehow the young lady's heart sunk 
with a sudden misgiving 






Mr. Kincton Knox Receives a Summons. 233 

" We'll go up, my dear, to my room, I've a, word to 
say, and I think Mr. Kincton Knox, as you ask me what 
you shall do, you may as well, in this instance, as usual, 
do 0thing. I'll write. I'll do it myself. Come, Clara." 

So, suspending questions until the apartment up stairs 
was reached, the young lady, in silence and with a very 
grave face, accompanied her mother. 

"Charming day sweet day we shall soon have the 
storms, though they must come ; we had them ten days 
earlier last year. Will you come with me to the Farm- 
road plantation, and give me your ideas about what I'm 
going to do ? " 

And the old gentleman came down the two steps from 
the glass door upon the closely-shorn grass, looking a 
little red, but smiling kindly, for he saw no reason for 
what his wife intended, and thought the young man was 
about to be treated unfairly, and felt a liking for him. 

" No ; she can't come down again ; I know her mother 
wants her, so you may as well come with me." 

So off they set together, and I dare say William liked 
that ramble better than he would have done the other. 
The old man was sociable, genial, and modest, and had 
taken rather late in life, tempted thereto, no doubt, by 
solitude, to his books, some of which, such as " Captain 
Lemuel Gulliver's Travels," were enigmatical, and Wil- 
liam was able to throw some lights which were new to 
the elderly student, who conceived a large and honest 
admiration for his young friend, and would have liked to 
see a great deal more of him than he was quite sure Mrs. 
Kincton Knox would allow. 

In the course of their walk, William Maubray observed 
that he seemed even more than usually kindly, and once 
or twice talked a little mysteriously of women's caprices, 
and told him not to mind them ; and told him also when 



All in the Dark. 

he was at Oxford he had got once or twice a little dipped 
young fellows always do and he wanted to know he 
was not, of course, to say a word about it if fifty pounds 
would be of any use to him he'd be so happy, and he 
could pay him any time, in ten years or twenty for that 
matter, for the old gentleman dimly intended to live on 
indefinitely. 

But William did not need this kindly help, and when 
his pleasant ramble with the old man and his dogs was 
over, and he returned to the "school-room," William 
found a note awaiting him on the table, in the large-hanc! 
of Mrs. Kincton Knox. 





CHAPTER XLIV. 

BACK TO CAMBRIDGE. 

HE letter upon the table was thus : 

" October, 1860. 

" Mrs. Kincton Knox understanding from Mr. Herbert 
that he wishes to visit Cambridge upon business, begs 
to say that she will oppose no difficulty to his departing 
on to-morrow morning with that view ; she begs also to 
mention that Mr. Kincton Knox will write by an early 
post to the Rev. Dr. Sprague upon the subject of Mr. 
Herbert's engagement. A carriage will be at the door at 
eight o'clock, A.M., to convey Mr. Herbert to the railway 
station." 

" What have I done ? I've certainly offended her she 
who wrote all those friendly little notes ; I can't think of 
anything, unless that boy Howard has been telling lies. 
She'll give me an opportunity of explaining, I suppose 
and it will all be right ; it can't be much." 

Glad he was to get away even for two or three days 
to his old haunts, and to something like his old life. 
He made his preparations early for his next morning's 
journey, and sate in the evening with his ingenious 
pupil, wondering whether a change of mood might not 



236 All in the Dark* 

bring him a relenting note on the usual pink paper in- 
viting him to visit them in the drawing-room, and de- 
bating whether it might not be a wholesome lesson to 
the capricious old lady to excuse himself, and so impose 
on her the onus of explanation. 

"I say, old chap, listen. What do you think?" said 
Master Howard, who had been whistling, and on a sud- 
den, being prompted to speak, poked the point of his 
pen uncomfortably into the back of William's hand. 

" Stop that, young un. I told you before you're not to 
do that. What have you got to say ? Come." 

"I say, I heard mamma, say to Clara this afternoon, 
that you aint to be trusted; and I told Clara I'd tell 
you, because she teased me ; and mamma said you de- 
ceived papa. I heard every word." 

"She could not have said that, because I never did 
anything of the kind," said William, flushing a little. 

"Yes, but she did. I heard her, I'd swear; and Clara 
said, he's a low person. I told her I'd tell you. She did, 
upon my word a low person, and I said I'd tell you ; 
and I'll tell you ever so much more." 

" Not now, please, nor ever.- I don't want to hear that 
sort of thing, even if it was said. I'd rather not, unless 
it was said to myself." 

" And I heard Clara say, let him go about his business. 
I did, upon my honour." 

" I say, young un, this is one of your fibs to vex Miss 
Knox." 

Master Howard began to vociferate. 

" Quiet, Sir 1 If your mamma had any complaint to 
make, she'd make it to me, I suppose ; and if you say a 
word more on the subject, I'll go in and mention the' 
matter to your mamma," said William, growing angry. 

" Catch me telling you anything ever again, as long as 



Back to Cambridge. 237 

I live, that's all," said Master Howard, and broke into 
mutterings; and then whistled a tune as loud as he could, 
with his hands in his pockets, and his heels on the table. 
But he did not succeed in disturbing William. Thoughts 
that are thoroughly unpleasant hold fast like bull-dogs. 
It is only the pleasant ones that take wing at noise, like 
a flight of birds. 

Away in due time went Master Howard no sign ap- 
Deared from the drawing-room and William Maubray, 
who in his elevation and his fall had experienced for 
the second time something of the uncertainty of human 
affairs, went to his bed mortified and dismal, and feel- 
ing that, go where he would, repulse and insult awaited 
him. 

His early breakfast despatched William mounted the 
dog cart, which, in her official letter, Mrs. Kincton Knox 
had dignified with the title of carriage, and drove at a 
rapid pace away from Kincton, with a sense of relief and 
hope as the distance increased, and a rising confidence 
that somehow he was to see that abode of formality and 
c?.price no more. 

Doctor Sprague was now at Cambridge, and greeted 
him very kindly. He had not much news to tell. It 
was true Sir Richard Maubray was actually dead at 
Giiston, whence the body was to be removed that day 
to Wyndelston, where in about a week would be the 
funeral. 

" No, William would not go he was not recognised, 
it would not do Sir Winston, as he now was, would 
take care to let him know he was not wanted." 

So said William in reply to the doctor's question, and 
having related his experience of Kincton, Doctor Sprague 
iold him frankly, that although Kincton Knox was a very 
good fellow, and very kind, though a little weak, you 



All in the Dark. 

know, that he had always heard his wife was a parties 
larly odious woman. 

"Well, and what of Miss Perfect; any conciliatory 
symptoms in that quarter?" asked Doctor Sprague. 

"Oh, none; she is very inflexible, Sir; her dislikes 
never change." 

While they were talking some letters arrived, one of 
which was actually from Kincton, and in the hand of its 
mistress. 

"Hey? Haw ! ha ha ! I protest, Maburay, the lady 
has cut you read," and he threw the letter across the 
table to William. 





CHAPTER XLV. 

VIOLET DARKWELL AT GILROYD AGAIN, 

IRS. KINCTON KNOX" it said, " presents 
her compliments to the Rev. W. II. 
Sprague, and as Mr. Kincton Knox is 
suffering from gout in his hand, which though slight, 
prevents his writing, she is deputed to apprise him that 
the gentleman calling himself Mr. Herbert, who has 
been acting as tutor at Kincton, need not return to 
complete his engagement. Mr. Kincton Knox desires 
to remit to him, through your hands, the enclosed 
cheque, payable to you, and for the full amount of the 
term he was to have completed. Should the young man 
feel that, under the circumstances, he can have no right 
to retain the entire amount, he will be so good as to 
return that portion of the sum to which he feels himself 
unentitled. We wish to mention that we part with him 
not in consequence of any specific fault, so much as 
from a feeling, upon consideration, that we could no 
longer tolerate the practice of a concealment at Kincton, 
the character and nature of which although we impute 
nothing might not consist with our own ideas upon the 
subject" 

" She begins in the third person and ends in the 
first.," said Doctor Sprague, "otherwise it is a very 
fine performance. What am I to do about the check ? " 



240 All in the Dark. 

" I will not touch a farthing," said William. 
"Tut, tut; I think you've a right to it all, out if 
you object, we'll send them back all that represents the 
unexpired part of. your engagement, but I'll have no 
Quixotism, I'm half sorry, Maubray, we ever thougnt of 
tuitions : we must think of some other way. You're quite 
right in resolving not to vex Miss Perfect more than you 
can help, I'm clear upon that ; but I've been thinkiiig of 
quite another thing I have not time now to ten you 
all." He glanced at his watch. " But you can speak 
French, and you would have to reside in Paris. I mink 
it would answer you very nicely, and I think you ought 
to let Miss Perfect know something of your plans, con- 
sidering all she has done. I'll see you here again in an 
hour." 

And William took his leave. 

That evening Miss Violet Darkwell arrived at Giiroyd. 
She did not think old " grannie " looking well was it a 
sadness or a feebleness there was something unusual 
in her look that troubled her. She thought her Violet 
looking quite beautiful more so than ever so perhaps 
she was. And she asked her all sorts of questions 
about all sorts of things, and how the Mainwarings had 
arranged the rooms, for Aunt Dinah had known the 
house long ago, and whether the paint had ever been 
taken off that covered the old oak wainscot in the 
parlour, and ever so many other particulars besides. 
And at last she said 

" Great news Mr. Trevor tells me of William." She 
had already resolved against opening the Trevor budget 
to its more interesting recesses. " William Maubray 
he's going to marry to make a great match in some re- 
spects money, beauty " 

11 Oh ! " said Violet with a smile. 



Violet Darkwell at Gilroyd again. 24 J 

" Yes ; a Miss Kincton Knox. He has been resid- 
ing in the house ; an only daughter. Kincton is the place." 

Something of this Violet had heard before she left 
Gilroyd, but not all ; and Aunt Dinah went on 

" They are connected somehow with Mr. Trevor, whom 
I've grown to like extremely, and he saw William there ; 
and from what he told me / look upon it as settled, and 
so in fact does he." 

" It's very cold, isn't it, to-night ? " said Miss Violet 
"That's all very nice very well for William Maubray." 

" Very well ; better, perhaps, than he deserves. Had 
I been, however, as we used to be, I should have 
endeavoured to postpone it, to induce the parties to 
defer it for a little in fact for five years. I may say, 
indeed, I should have made a point of it; because I 
I happen to know that his marrying within that time 
will be attended with the worst consequences." 

There was a silence. 

" Very cold," repeated Miss Violet, drawing a little 
nearer to the fire. 

" It seems odd, as a mere matter of respect that's all, 
of course he should not have written me a single line 
upon the subject," said Miss Perfect grimly. 

"Well, perhaps not very odd," answered Miss Dark- 
well carelessly, yet somehow, ever so little, sadly. " I'm 
beginning to think it a worse world than I used to think 
it, and so hard to know anyone in it, except dear old 
grannie." 

And up got the girl, and threw her pretty arms round 
old Aunt Dinah's neck, and kissed her. 

" Little Vi, little Vi ! " said Aunt Dinah, with a tender 
tremor in her voice, and she laughed a little. 

<; I think you are tired, darling. Your long drive," 
she added. 



242 All in the Dark. 

" I believe I am, grannie. Shall I run away to my bed ? " 
" God bless you, darling ! " said grannie, and rang the 
bell for old Winnie Dobbs, who appeared ; and away, 
with a second good-night, they went. 

"Well, old Winnie Dobbs, great doings, I hear. 
Grannie says Mr. William's to be married a great lady, 
Miss Kincton Knox, she says and very pretty quite a 
beauty, quite a belle." 

She was looking with a faint little smile down upon 
the trinkets she was laying upon the dressing-table, and 
she spoke in the tOP.es in which people recall a very far- 
oif remembrance. 

" Well, she did tell me so, Miss Vi : and very glad I 
was, poor fellow; but very young. I that knew him 
when he was only the length o' my arm to think of him 
now. But very sensible always was ; a good head 
wiser than many an older body." 

" You've never seen the lady ? " said Vi. 

"No ; but Mr. Trevor's groom was stopping there last 
summer for a week with Mr. Trevor, you know, and he 
did not much like the family that's the old lady no 
one has a good word of her ; and the young one, Miss 
Clara do you like the name Clara, Miss ? " 

" Yes ; a pretty name,. I think." 

"Well, they don't say much about her; only she's 
very distant like." 

" And she's the lady?" asked Violet. 

" Ah ! that she is, Miss the only daughter," 

"She's tall?" 

" Well, yes ; he says she is." 

" Taller than I, I dare say?" 

" Well, he did not say that ; you're a good height, you 
know yourself, Miss a nice figure, yes indeed." 

" And what colour is her hair ? " asked Vi. 



Violet Darkwell at Gilroyd again. 243 

" Light light hair, he said." 

" Yes ; he always liked light hair, I think," she said, 
still with the same faint smile and in the same soft and 
saddened tones. Vi was arranging her own rich dark 
brown tresses at the glass. 

"And blue eyes large something the colour o' yours, 
he said, Miss ; he used to take great notice to her, the 
groom everything. She used to go out a ridin'. A 
hair-pin, Miss ? " 

" No, Winnie, thanks." 

" He says she's a fine rider \ showy, handsome, that 
sort, you know." 

" And when is it all to be ? " 

" Well, they don't know; but once it's settled, I do 
suppose it won't be long delayed. Why should it ? " 

" No why, once it's settled, as you say." 

" And is it not well for him, poor fellow, he should 
have some one to love him, and look after him ? Wkat's 
the good o' life without kindness ? Both o' them hand- 
some, and young, and loving. What more need they 
ask ? " said old Winnie. " And if they aren't happy, who 
will?" 

"Yes, old Winnie, they will, very happy, I'm sure; 
and now I'll bid you good-night, I'm so tired^ very tired j 
it's a long tedious way, and I'm always wishing to come 
back to you, and dear old grannie, and poor old Gilroyd, 
where we were all so happy, where I always feel so safe 
but I believe we always fancy the old times the plea- 
santest when I was a child. Good-night, old Winnie." 




CHAPTER XLVL 

VANE TREVOR AT THE WINDOW. 

|ILLIAM MAUBRAY liked the appointment 
which his kind friend, Doctor Sprague, nad 
virtually secured for him. It was not a great 
deal in salary, but opening abundant opportunities fen 
that kind of employment which he most coveted, and 
for which, in fact, a very little training would now suffice 
to accomplish him. Literary work, the ambition of so 
many, not a wise one perhaps for those who have any 
other path before them, but to which men will devote 
themselves, as to a perverse marriage, contrary to other 
men's warnings, and even to their own legible experiences 
of life in a dream. 

For three years he would sojourn in Paris. He pre- 
ferred that distant exile to one at the gates of the earl/ 
paradise from which he had been excluded. From 
thence he would send to his good friend, Doctor Sprague, 
those little intimations of his doings and his prosperings, 
which he, according to his wisdom, mignt transmit, for 
inspection to the old lady at Gilroyd, who might, if she 
pleased, re-open a distant correspondence with the out- 
cast. 

Doctor Sprague, at William's desire, had written to 
accept and arrange, and would hear by the return of 



Vane Trevor at the Window. 245 

post, or nearly, and then William might have to leave at 
a day's notice. Three years ! It was a long time, and 
Aunt Dinah old ! He might never see her or Gilroyd 
more, and a kind of home sickness fell upon him. 

At Gilroyd that morning, Aunt Dinah and Vi sat at 
breakfast tete-a-tete. The spirits of the old lady were not 
altogether so bright, the alacrity was gone, and though 
she smiled there was a sadness and a subsidence. Wil- 
liam was banished. The pang of that sharp decision was 
over. Some little help he should have circuitously 
through Doctor Sprague ; but meet again on earth they 
never should. So that care was over : and now her 
other tie, pretty Violet Darkwell, she, too, was going : 
and although she sat beside her at the little breakfast- 
table, prattling pleasantly, and, telling her all the news of 
her friends, the Mainwarings and their new neighbours, 
yet her voice sounded already faint in distance, and the 
old lady's cares were pretty well over. Our business 
here is work of some sort, and not for ourselves j and 
when that is ended it is time, as Fuller says, to put out 
the candle and go to bed. 

"I'm going to see old Mrs. Wagget to-day. I pro- 
mised her the day before I went to the Mainwarings," 
said Vi, recalling this engagement. 

" But, my dear, some one may call here. Your friends 
and mine will be looking in," said Aunt Dinah, who knew 
that Trevor would arrive at about twelve o'clock. 

" Well, I can return their visits all the same, and see 
them in their own houses," said Vi, "just as well." 

" And what need to go to Mrs. Wagget to-day to- 
morrow I fancy would answer," said Miss Perfect. 

"But I promised, you know, and she wrote to remind me." 

"Promised to leave your old granny alone again the 
day after your return ! " she exclaimed, a little huffed. 



246 All in the Dark. 

"Why, darling, it was you who made me promise, 
don't you recollect ? " pleaded Miss Violet, " the day we 
paid them our last visit." 

" H'm did I ? Well, if there really was a promise, and 
I suppose you remember, we must keep it, I suppose." 
Aunt Dinah had made that kind of scrupulousness an 
emphatic point in Violet's simple education, and of course 
it could not now be trifled with. And now she did recol- 
lect the appointment, and something about walking to 
the school-house together at twelve o'clock could any- 
thing be more unlucky ? Aunt Dinah looked up at the 
sky; but no, it was not threatening clear blue, with a 
pleasant white cloud or two, and a sea of sunshine. 

" I'm so sorry, granny, we settled, it would have been 
so much pleasanter to have staid with you to-day, and I'm 
afraid it's very wicked ; but that school, except to very 
good people, it is really insupportable," said Miss Vi, 
whose inflexible estimate of such appointments rather 
vexed Aunt Dinah, and not the less that she could not 
deny that it was her own work. 

" It's right in the main," thought she. " But there are 
distinctions there's danger, however, in casuistry, and so 
let it be." There was an odd little sense of relief too in 
the postponement of the crisis. 

At about half-past eleven, Vane Trevor arrived. He 
^ame by the path, and from the drawing-room window 
Miss Perfect, sitting there at her work, saw him, and 
knocked and beckoned with her slender mittened hand. 

' He looks pale, poor young man," he was smiling as 
he approached, " and haggard too," she pronounced, not- 
withstanding. " He's anxious, I dare say," and she 
pushed up the window as he approached. "What a 
s\veet morning," she said, taking off her gold spectacles, 
and smiling with that soft look of sympathy which in 



Vane Trevor at the Window. 247 

such cases makes even old women's faces so pretty 
again. 

" Charming morning really quite charming." 
She saw him pej>ing into the shadow of the room for 
a second figure. Aunt Dinah's hand was now within 
reach, and they exchanged a friendly greeting. 

" My little Violet has returned," she said, still holding 
Trevor's hand kindly, " quite well looking so well and 
most unluckily I quite forgot ; but I had made an ap- 
pointment for her this morning with Mrs. Wagget, and 
I have always made the keeping of appointments so much 
a moral duty with her, that unless I had opened the subject 
on which you talked with me, and told her plainly that 
I expected your call, and that she must wait which 
would have been not a favourable way of proceeding; 
and in fact I should have been obliged to say very badly 
what you would say, probably, very well ; and indeed it 
is a thing that makes me nervous always did. When 
my dear sister was proposed for, I refused to take the 
message, in fact I could not and he spoke for him- 
self poor Charles Maubray like a man and and a very 

happy " Suddenly she stopped, and Trevor saw that 

tears were trickling slowly down her cheeks ; and her lips 
were resolutely closed ; and she fumbled for a minute or 
two among her silks and worsteds ; and the young man 
felt that he liked her better than ever he did before ; and 
he sat on the window-stone outside, and they chatted 
kindly for a long time. Then they took a little walk td 
gether among the flowers, and under the chestnuts, fill i: 
grew to be near two o'clock, and Aunt Dinah began to 
look for Violet's return ; and if the great Duke of Wel- 
lington on the field of Waterloo consulted his watch half 
so often as Mr. Vane Trevor did his on the cjreen 
sward of Gilrovd- that afternoon, I'm not surprised at it 



248 All in the Dark. 

having excited all the observation it did, and being noted 
in the history of that great day of thunder and suspense. 

Not the Iron Duke, however, but his Imperial rival on 
the field, when lowering his glass, he muttered, " C'est les 
Prussien," is the fitter representative of our friend Vane 
Trevor, when, not Miss Violet Darkwell, but old Mrs. 
Wagget's page, a thick and stunted "buttons," in rifle 
green regimentals, moved down upon his flank, with a 
note in his hand for Miss Perfect, who was entreated by 
the writer to allow Miss Violet to stay dinner, with a 
promise that she should arrive safe at Gilroyd in the 
brougham that evening at nine ! 

There was nothing for it but submission. It would not 
do, in presence of that dwarfish page, who was eyeing 
Vane with the curiosity of a youthful gossip, to order the 
young lady home, detain the young gentleman where he 
stood, and thus by a feat of discipline compel a meeting. 

So Miss Perfect despatched her reply, thanking I 
hope it was sincerely Felicia Honoria Wagget, and ac- 
cepting the arrangement with the best grace she might. 

" You must come in and take some luncheon," said 
Aunt Dinah. 

Gilroyd was somehow so charming a spot, its resources 
had grown so inexhaustible, and old Miss Perfect so sen- 
sible and altogether interesting that Trevor was glad to 
linger a little, and postpone the evil hour of departure. 
It came at last, however, and Aunt Dinah called old Win- 
nie Dobbs, and went listlessly to her room to make her 
toilet for her solitary dinner. 




CHAPTER XLVIL 

MISS PERFECT'S TOILET. 

]HORT the evenings growing," said Aunt 
Dinah, looking out upon the slanting amber 
sunlight, that made the landscape all so 
golden. " Long shadows already ! " and she glanced at 
her broad old gold watch. " How the years go over us 
Winnie, you've been a long time with me now ha, ha, a 
Long time. When first you came to me, you thought me such 
i shrew, and I thought you such a fool, that we both thought 
a parting must very soon come of it an old termagant 
and an old goose," continued Miss Perfect, nodding her 
head at her image in the glass. " We were not altogether 
wrong in that, perhaps, old Dobbs don't interrupt me 
but, though we were neither lambs nor Solomons, we an- 
swered one another. We never parted, and we'll live on 
so, don't you think, to the end of the chapter, and a 
pretty long chapter it has been, and pretty near the end, 
Winnie Dobbs, it must be for both of us. * Here endeth 
the first lesson,' ana theu comes the judgment, Winnie 
' here endeth the second lesson,' our two great lessons, 
death and judgment : think of that, my good old Winnie, 
when you hear Doctor Mainwaring or Doctor Wagget, it 
is now, saying, 'here endeth the first lesson,' and 'here 
endeth the second lesson/ and much good may it do 
you." 



250 All in the Dark. 

Aunt Dinah's lectures on such themes were generally 
very odd, and her manner sometimes a little flighty- 
people who did not know her would have almost said wag- 
gish. But her handmaiden received them always with a 
reverent acquiescence, having as full a faith in her mistress 
as honest Sancho, in his most trusting moods, ever le- 
posed in the wisdom of the Knight of La Mancha. 

"Death and judgment, sure enough. Death, at any 
rate, that's certain," maundered old Dobbs. 

"And judgment, too, I hope," said Aunt Dinah, sharply, 

" And judgment, too," supplemented Winnie. 

" What do you mean, old Dobbs, as if one was more 
certain than the other ? " 

"Ay, indeed. What is there certain? nothing 
nothing," she continued, not exactly apprehending her 
mistress. 

" Tut, tut ! Dobbs. Give me a pin you don't intend 
but you sometimes say things that make my flesh creep 
yes you don't know it but you do." 

"Dear me, Ma'am/' ejaculated old Winnie, who was 
never very much startled by Aunt Dinah's violent 
remarks. 

" So, I think, old Dobbs, we shall soon have a wedding 
here," said Miss Perfect, after a silence, changing the sub- 
ject. 

" Well, well, I should not wonder, Ma'am," answered 
she. 

" But you're not to say one word about it to Miss Vio- 
let until she speaks to you do you mind not a word 
and that will be, I think, to-morrow." 

" To-morrow ! " exclaimed Winnie. 

" Not the wedding, old goose, but the talk of it I 
think it will be all settled to-morrow, and I'm glad, and 
Ira sorry. Give me my snuff-box thanks. She has 



Miss Perfect 's Toilet. 251 

never spoken to you on the subject?" said Aunt 
Dinah. 

" No, no, Ma'am ; never," answered Winnie. 
" Nor to me. But I know all about it from another 
quarter, and I hope she'll not be a fool. She'll never 
have so good an offer again. I like him extremely. I 
have the best opinion of him, and the sergeant is very 
much pleased ; indeed, it's quite unexceptionable, and I 
do expect, Winnie Dobbs, if she should talk to you, you'll 
not try to frighten her. You and I are old maids, and I 
believe we chose wisely; but we are not to frighten 
nervous girls by drawing terrific pictures of matrimony, 
and maundering about bad husbands and unprovided 
children ; young girls are so easily frightened away from 
anything that's prudent : and, though we are old maids, 
there's a good deal to be said on the other side of the 
question so, do you mind ? " 

"Dear me, Ma'am, I'd be sorry she wasn't to get a 
good husband, I would." 

"And you remember the last evening, Friday last, 
when we were in the study, at the table, you know, where 
the word ' eminently ' came. Do you remember ? " 

" Well, I ought to, I'm sure ; but my old head is not 
as good at bringing a thing to mind as it used to be," 
hesitated Winnie. 

" No more it is ; but the word eminently was all we 
got that night, and you didn't know what the question 
was. Well, I'll tell you. I asked simply, will Violet 
Darkwell's marriage hook my body, please will Violet 
Darkwell's marriage prove happy ? and the answer was 
eminently" 

" Ay, so it was, I'll be bound, though I can't bring it 
to mind ; but it's a hard word for the like o' me to come 
round," 



252 



Att in the Dark, 



"You are provoking, Winnie Dobbs," exclaimed her 
mistress, looking at herself defiantly in the glass. 

" Well, dear me ! I often think I am," acquiesced 
Winnie. 

" Well, Winnie, we are too old to change much now 
the leopard his spots, and the Ethiopian his skin. There's 
no good in trying to teach an old dog tricks. They must 
make the best of us now, Winnie, such as we are j and if 
this wedding does happen, I'll trick you out in a new 
dress, silk every inch, for the occasion, and the hand- 
somest cap I can find in Saxton. I'll make you such a 
dandy, you'll not know yourself in the looking-glass. 
You'll come to the church as her own maid, you know -, 
but you're not to go away with her. You'll stay with me, 
Winnie. I don't think you'd like to leave Gilroyd." 

Old Winnie hereupon witnessed a good and kind 7 / 
confession. 




CHAPTER XLVIII. 

THE PRODIGAL. 

JHEN cam* one of those little silences, during 
which thoughts glide on with the stroke, as it 
were, of the last sentence or two ; and old 
Winnie Dobbs said at last : 

"But I don't think it would be like a wedding if 
Master Willie wasn't here." 

" Stop that," said Miss Perfect, grimly, and placing the 
end of the comb, with which she had been adjusting her 
gray locks, that lay smoothly over her resolute forehead, 
on a sudden upon old Winnie's wrist. "I never change 
my mind when once I've made it up. You don't know, 
and you cartt know, for your wits are always wool-gather- 
ing, all I've done for that boy young man, indeed, I 
ought to call him nor the measure of his perversity and 
ingratitude. I've supported him I've educated Lim-^ 
I've been everything to him and at the first opportunity 
he has turned on me. If I were a total stranger, a Cam 
bridge doctor, or anything else that had never cared or 
thought about him, he'd have listened to what I had to 
say, and been influenced by it. He has refused me for 
his friend renounced me chosen other advisers he'll 
soon be married," 



*54 Att in ^e Da/k. 

" Dearie me ! " interpolated old Winnie, in honesl 
sympathy. 

" And although Mr. Trevor wrote to him yesterday to 
mention my view and conviction, that his marriage ought 
to be postponed for some little time, I know perfectly it 
won't have the slightest effect, no more than those birds 
twittering." 

The sparrows in the glittering ivy were gossiping 
merrily in the beams of the setting sun. 

" I simply told his friend, Mr. Trevor, and left it to 
him to acquaint him, not as having any claim whatever 
on my particular regard any longer, but as a a human 
being just that ; and you know, Winnie Dobbs, when I 
make a resolution I can keep it ; you remember " 

Miss Perfect had reached this point in her cration 
when old Winnie, who had been looking out of the 
window with unusual scrutiny, on a sudden exclaimed 

" I'm blest if here baint Master William a comin' ! " 

Aunt Dinah uttered a little exclamation, with her shut 
hand pressing on her breast, as she looked over her old 
servant's shoulder. 

I don't know how it was, but as William Maubray 
entered the old iron gate, he heard the swift tread of a 
light foot, and Aunt Dinah, hurrying from the red brick 
porch, ran, towards him with a little cry, and "My 
darling ! " and threw her thin arms round his neck, and 
they both stood still. 

" Oh ! Willie, you've come back." 

William did not answer, he was looking down in 
ner face, pale, with his hands very gently on her 
bhoulders. 

" Come in, darling," she said at last. 

"Am I to come in?" said William, wistfully and 
SOitly. 



'27ie Prodigal. 255 

And she looked at him, pleadingly with tears in her 
eyes, and said 

" Poor old Aunt Dinah." 

And he leant down and kissed her. 

" Come in, my boy my Willie man my only precious 
boy that I was so proud of." 

And William kissed her again, and cried over her thin 
shoulder, and she, close laid to his breast, sobbed also j 
each felt the tremble in the other's kindly arms. 

Thank God it was made up now the two loving 
hearts so near again sweet and bitter the angelic love 
and mortal sadness the sense of uncertainty and part- 
ing mingling with the great affection that welled up from 
the eternal fountain of love. Improve the hours of 
light. 

The time is near when the poor heart will tremble no 
more, and all the world of loving thoughts lie in dust 
and silence. 

" I am going to give you the silver tobacco-box that 
was on Marston Moor it is the most valuable tfiing I 
have it has the inscription on the inside of the cover. 
It was in my foolish old head to send it to Doctor 
Sprague for you. It was your ancestor's. The 'War- 
wickshire Knight,' we called him Sir Edwin. He 
joined the Parliament, you know, and took the name 
of Perfect. I always intended the tobacco-box for vou, 
Willie, even when I was offended come in come, 
my darling." 

And she drew in the prodigal with her arm in his, and 
her hand on his ringers, liking to feel as well as to see 
and to hear him to be quite sure of him ! 

" Dinner, Tom, this minute," said she to old Tom, 
who, grinning, spoke his hearty word of welcome in 
the hall, " Master William is very hungry he has come 



256 All in the Dark. 

ever so far tell Mrs. Podgers come Willie are you 
cold ? rj 

So before the bright fire, which was pleasant that cleat 
red, frosty evening, they sat and looking fondly on him, 
her hand on his, she said 

" A little thin certainly a little thin have you been 
quite well, Willie quite well ? " 

" Yes, quite well all right and how have you been ? * 
he answered and asked. 

" Very well that is, pretty well indeed I can't say 1 
have I've not been well but time enough about that 
And tell me and tell me about this news about Mis* 
Kincton Knox is it true is there really an engage- 
ment ? " 

" I've left them I came from Cambridge. Engage- 
ment ! by Jove ! I I don ? t know exactly what you 
mean." 

So said William, who was struck by something more 
in Aunt Dinah's look and tone than could possibly arise 
from the contemplation merely of that engagement he 
had been fulfilling at Kincton. 

" I I heard I thought was not there isn't there " 
Aunt Dinah paused, gazing dubiously on William " I 
mean something of of she's very handsome I'm 
told." 

"Going to be married to Miss Kincton Knox! I 
assure you, if you knew her, such an idea would strike 
you as the most absurdly incredible thing the people who 
invented it could possibly have told you " and William 
actually laughed. 

"Ha!" exclaimed she, rather dismally "that's very 
odd that is really very odd it must have been a mis- 
take people do make such mistakes it must and you 
have heard of Vi it seems so odd little Vi ! There's 






The Prodigal. 257 

no mistake there, for Mr. Trevor has had a long conversa- 
tion with me, and has written to her father, and we botn 
approve highly. But but about Miss Kincton Knox 
it was an odd mistake, though I can't say I'm sorry, be- 
cause but it does not signify now; you would never 
have waited, and so sure as you sit there, if you had not, 
you'd have regretted your precipitation all the days of 
your life." 

And thrice she nodded darkly on William, in such a 
way as to assure him that Henbane had been looking 
after his interests. 

After dinner she ordered Tom to call Winnie Dobbs, 
who had already had her chat with William. 

" Winnie," said she, producing a large key from her 
bag, " you must go to the store-room and fetch one of the 
three bottles on the shelf." 

" We dust them every week, old Winnie and I," sairt 
she as soon as Dobbs had gone. " They have been there 
fifteen years Frontignac the doctor ordered it silla- 
bubs in the morning, when I was recovering, and I don't 
think they did me a bit of good ; and we must open one 
of them now." 

William protested in vain. 

" Yes, it's the kind of wine young people like they 
like it sweet wine you must. I hear her coming. What 
are you dawdling there for, Winnie ? Come in bring it 
in why don't you ? " 

So, sitting side by side, her hand on his, and looking 
often in his face as they talked, they sipped their wine ; 
and old Winnie, standing by, had her glass, and drank 
their healths, and declared it was " a beautiful sight to 
see them." And Aunt Dinah sent Tom to Saxton for 
some muffins for tea. Mr. William liked muffins " Be 
quiet you know you do." 



258 All in the Dark. 

" I'm so sorry Violet should have been out, drinking 
tea at the Rectory ; but you're to stay to-night ; you say 
you'll be in time at Mr. Cleaver's chambers at five to- 
morrow evening ; and you have a London up train at 
half-past eleven at our station ; and you must sleep at 
Gilroyd; it would not be like the old times if you 
didn't." 





CHAPTER XLIX 

AFTER DEATH MY GHOST SHALL HAUNT YOU." 

JT was a clear, frosty, moonlight night, and the stars 
blinking and staring fiercely in the dark sky, as 
William Maubray peeped between the drawing- 
room shutters, and listened in vain for the ring of the 
wheels of the promised brougham ; and Aunt Dinah re- 
turned just as he let the curtains fall together, having in 
her hand a little cardboard box tied round with a little 
blue ribbon. 

"Blue, you see, for loyalty not to princes, but to 
right I tied it with blue ribbon," said Aunt Dinah, sit- 
ting down beside him, and untying the knot, and taking 
out the silver box, with embossed windmills, trees, dogs, 
and Dutchmen upon it. " Here it is the tobacco-box ; 
it is yours, mind, and your eldest boy's to have it an 
neirloom," said she, with a gentle smile, looking into that 
dim but sunny vista, and among the golden-haired and 
blue-eyed group, painted in fancy, where she would have 
no place ; " and it's never to go out of the family, and 
who knows what it may inspire. It was a brave man's 
tobacco-box my hero. The courtiers, I believe, did not 
smoke, and he did not like tobacco ; indeed I can't abide 
the smell, except in snuff the kind you know you bring 
me sometimes ; but he would not be different from the 



260 



All in the Dark. 



other officers about him, and so he did smoke ; though, 
my dear father told me, always sparingly ; and so, dear 
William, here it is, and I have had your name placed 
underneath, and you can take it with you." 

Hereupon the tea and muffins entered, and after a time 
the conversation took another turn. 

"And I'm not sorry, William, about that Kincton 
Knox business ; indeed I'm very glad ; I never knew 
before I never knew intimations and you know I im- 
plicitly believe in them so peremptory upon any point 
as on that ; and you're not to marry mind, you shall 
promise me you will not till after the expiration of five 
years." 

" I think I might promise you safely enough, I'll never 
marry," said William, with a little laugh. 

"Don't be rash no don't promise more than I ask; 
but tfwt you must" replied the old lady. 

"You'll not ask me to make promises, I'm sure?" 
said William ; " I hate them so." 

"For five years," said Miss Perfect, holding up her 
head a little sternly. 

" For five years, dear aunt ? " replied William, with a 
smile, and shaking his head. 

"It is not much," said Aunt Dinah, looking sadly 
down on her muffin, and chopping it lightly with the 
edge of her knife, as if she cut off the head of a minia- 
ture argument at every stroke. " I don't think it's very 
much for a person, that is, who says he'll never marry." 

" I'll never marry I'm sure I shall never marry and 
yet I can't promise anything. I hate vows ; they are sure 
to make you do the very thing you promise not to do," 
said William, half provoked, half laughing, "and if I 
were to promise, I really can't tell what the consequence 
might be/' 



" After Death My Ghost shall Haunt You." 261 

" Ha ! " said Miss Perfect. " Well ! It is odd ! " 
and up she got and stood very erect and grim on thu 
hearthrug. 

" Now, don't, dear aunt, don't be vexed with me ; bt 
I assure you I could not. I can't make vows about tne 
future ; but I really and honestly think I shall never be a 
married man ; it's all all odious." 

"Well," said she with an effort, "I won't quarrel. 
It was not much five years." A little pause here 
she allowed for William to reflect upon its reasonable- 
ness, but he made no sign. " Not a great deal ; 
but I won't quarrel there I won't," and she exten- 
ded her hand to him in amity, and he clasped it very 
affectionately. 

" But I'll speak to you seriously. I'm not fanciful, I 
think ; I don't believe things without evidence, and I don't 
much care what very young, or very prejudiced people 
may think about me ; that which I know I declare, and I 
don't shrink an atom no, not at the stake.* 

William looked at her with respectful amazement. 

" No truth first truth always in the face of ridicule 
and bigotry. Never abandon the truth. I say I know 
perfectly well we are surrounded by spirits disprove 
it if you can and unequivocally have they declared 
themselves to me, and from that one among them, 
who is always near me, who is present at this mo- 
ment, a friendly spirit Henbane ! Why should I 
hesitate to name him? I have learned the condition^ 
I may say, of your fate, and / won't hide it, nor suffer 
you, if I can help it, to disregard it. Marry for five 
years you shan't. If I be alive I'll leave no stone 
unturned to prevent it; and if I'm dead, there's no- 
thing that spirit can do, if you so much as harbour 
the thought, I'll not do to prevent it. I'll be about 



262 



All in the Dark. 



you; be 1 good or evil, or mocking, I'll trouble you, 
I'll torment you, I'll pick her eyes out, but I won't 
suffer you to ruin yourself." 

Preposterous as was this harangue, Aunt Dinah de- 
livered it like a Pythoness, with a vehemence that half 
awed her nephew. 

" I'll speak of this no more," she said, more like her- 
self, after two or three minutes' silence. " I'll not men- 
tion it I'll let it rest in your mind it's nothing to me, 
but for your sake, my mind's made up though, and if I've 
power in this world or the next, you'll hear of me, re- 
member that, William Maubray." 

William was bound to listen to this flighty rigmarole 
with respect as coming from his aunt, but her spiritual 
thunders rather amused than alarmsd him, and of Hen- 
bane he entertained. I must confess, the meanest possible 
opinion. 

Connected with all this diablerie, indeed, there was 
but one phenomenon which had unpleasantly fastened 
upon his imagination, and that was the mysterious 
adventure which had befallen him in this old house 
of Gilroyd; when in his bed, his wrist was seized 
and held fast in the grasp of an unseen hand, and 
the intensely disagreeable sensations of that night re- 
curred to his memory oftener than he would have 
cared to admit. 

" I wonder you have so little curiosity, sometimes," 
said Aunt Dinah, speaking now, though gravely, much 
more in her usual way ; " you young people think you 
are so far away from the world of spirits, material and 
sceptical. You've never once cared to ask me for Elihu 
Bung. I'll lend it to you with pleasure, while you are 
here. But that portion of the Almighty's empire has co 
interest is dead for you." 



"After Death My Ghost shall Haunt You." 

There was abundant truth in this reproach, for 
William indeed could not without great offence have 
told his aunt what rubbish he thought it all But 
said he : 

" I dare say it is very curious." 

" Not a bit curious ; that's not the word ; it is serious 
and it's certain ; bread and butter is not very curious ; 
your foot is not very curious, nor your hat ; but there 
they are, facts ! that's all. I'm glad you say you have no 
present intention of marrying ; in fact, dear William, the 
idea has caused me the most extreme anxiety, having the 
warning I have; as for me, however, my course is taken. 
I expect to be what we call a mocking spirit yes, a 
mocking spirit and I'll play you such tricks as will make 
you think twice, if such an idea should be in your head. 
Mind, I told you, though I be dead you shan't escape 
me," and she smiled oddly, and nodded her head, and 
then frowned a little bit. 

"But I dare say it won't happen. Now that this 
Kincton Knox business has turned out a mistake thank 
God a canard. There's no hurry ; you are too young. 
Remember it was on the 28th of September the warning 
came, five years, and you count from that ; but goodness 
knows you have time enough. I think I hear the 
brougham." 

William was already at the window and the gate-bell 
ringing. 

" And William, remember, not a word to Violet about 
Mr. Trevor not a hint." 

" Oh ! certainly," cried he, and he was at the hall 
door in time to open the carriage door, and take little 
Violet's hand 

" Oh ! you come ? " said she smiling, and descending 
lightly with a bouquet of old Miss Wagget's best flowers 



26 4 



All in the Dark. 



in her fingers. " I had not an idea only just come, I 

suppose ? " 

" Yes, this evening : and you quite well, Violet ? " 

" Quite well, flourishing. Grannie is in the drawing' 

room ? And I'm glad you've come to Gilroyd ; poor old 

grannie, I think she has been in very low spirits ; let us 

go to her." 








CHAPTER L. 

VIOLET AND WILLIAM IN THE DRAWING-ROOM. 

JIOLET seemed merry and good-natured, William 
thought, but somewhat cold. No one else 
would have perceived it ; but this little chill, 
hardly measurable by the moral thermometer, was for 
him an Icelandic frost, in which his very heart ached. 

This pretty girl kissed Aunt Dinah, and put off her 
bonnet, and out gushed her beautiful dark brown hair, 
but kept her other mufflers on, and said smilingly towards 
William, 

" I was so surprised to see him at the door, I could 
scarcely believe my eyes." 

" And looking very well a little thin perhaps, but very 
well," added Aunt Dinah. 

" And how is Mr. Wagget? " asked William, who did 
not care to come formally under critical discussion. 

" Oh, very well, and Miss Wagget too ; but I don't 
know that you've made her acquaintance. She's quite 
charming, and I doubt very much whether so susceptible 
a person as you would do wisely in putting himself in her 
way." 

" She has been hearing that nonsense about Miss Kinc- 
ton Knox," thought William, and he said rather drily, 

" I'm not a bit susceptible. How did I ever show it ? 



266 All in the Dark. 

I'd like to know who I ever was in love with in my life 
Susceptible, by Jove ! but I see you're laughing." 

Miss Vi looked curiously at him for a moment, and 
then she said, 

" We heard quite another account of him, didn't we, 
grannie ? " 

"It was all a mistake though, it seems," said Aunt 
Dinah. 

" I should like to know who the kind person is who 
cares enough about me to invent all these lies." 

" The ladies there liked you extremely, we have the 
best authority for believing that," said Miss Perfect. 

" I don't know ; I'm sure they detest me now, and I 
really don't know any reason they ever had for doing 
either." 

" Detest you, my dear ! " exclaimed Aunt Dinah. 

" Mrs. Kincton Knox is awfully offended with me, I 
don't know for what. I've nothing on earth to charge 
myself with, and I really don't care two pence, and I 
hate to think about them," said William testily ; " and 
I'd rather talk about anything else." 

Miss Vi looked at William, and glanced at Aunt Dinah, 
and then laughed, with a pleasant little silvery cadence. 

" Dear me ! Grannie, what a disappointment. We 
simple people in this part of the world have been lost for 
weeks in wonder and respect we heard such stories of 
your prowess, and here comes the lady-killer home, harm- 
less William Maubray, as he went." 

" Just so," said he. " Not William the Conqueror- 
nothing of the kind ; and I don't think it likely I shall 
ever try to kill a lady, nor a lady ever kill me. Weapons 
of iron won't do nowadays, and a knight-errant of that 
sort must arm himself with the precious metals, and know 
how to talk the modern euphuism, and be a much finer 



Violet and William in the Drawing-Room. 267 

man than ever I can hope to be ; and even so, when all's 
done, it's a poor profession enough. By Jove ! I don't 
envy them their adventures, and their exploits, and their 
drubbings, and their Dulcineas the best among them is 
often laid on his back ; and I'm not ashamed to say I 
have more of Sancho Panza than of the Don in my 
nature." 

" He rails like a wounded knight doesn't he, grannie ? " 
laughed Violet. 

" I'd like to know who wounded me," said he. 

" We'll take your own account, William," said Aunt 
Dinah, who saw that he was vexed and sore, " and who- 
ever is to blame, I'm very glad. Oh ! prayers," and the 
little household of Gilroyd trooped solemnly into the 
room, and the family devotions were performed, William 
officiating in his old capacity. 

" William leaves us early to-morrow," said Aunt Dinah, 
glancing regretfully at him. 

"Oh?" said Miss Violet. 

" Yes, to London ; and from London perhaps to Paris, 
there to remain for some time," said William, spiritedly. 

" Charming excursion," exclaimed the young lady. 

"Why London is not particularly lively at this moment, 
and I hope to be pretty hard worked in Paris. There's 
nothing very charming about it, but I'm glad to go ; " 
and thinking this a little strong, he added, "because it is 
time I should begin, if ever I am to do any good for my- 
self or anyone else." 

" He's like the good boy in a story-book, he makes such 
wise reflections; and I'm certain he'll grow rich and 
prosper," said Miss Vi to Aunt Dinah. " My only wise 
saw is ' Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man 
aealthy, wealthy, and wise.' I learned it from Winnie, 
and I'm going to act on it now. Good-night, dear old 



268 All in the Dark. 

grannie," and she kissed her in a fond little embrace. 
" All this wise talk makes one sleepy, I think ; and I've 
been walking about with Miss Wagget all day. Good- 
night." This was to William, with a smile. 

" Good-night," he answered quietly, and a little bitterly, 
as without smiling he took her hand. Then he lighted 
her candle, and gave it to her, and stood at the door 
while she ran up the broad stair, humming an air. 

He came back, looking sulky, and sat down with his 
hands in his pocket, looking at the fire-irons that rested 
on the fender. 

" How do you think she's looking ? " asked Aunt Dinah. 

"Very well; much as usual," said William, with a 
dreary carelessness. 

" I think she's looking particularly beautiful," said Miss 
Perfect. 

"Perhaps so very likely; but I've plenty of work 
before me, thank God, the sort of work I like ; and I'm 
in no admiring mood, like Trevor and other fellows who 
have nothing better to do. I like work. ' Man delights 
not me, nor woman neither.' And, dear Aunt, I'm a 
little bit sleepy, too ; but I'll see you early, shan't I ? " 

And William yawned dismally. 

" Good-night, dear, it is better," said Aunt Dinah ; 
" but I don't know, it strikes me that you and Vi are not 
as friendly together as you used to be, and I think it is a 
pity." 

"Not so friendly," exclaimed William. "Ha, ha! 
That did not strike me; but I assure you there's no 
change, at least that I know of none on my part, I'm 
sure. I suppose it's just that our heads are full of 
other things ; we have each got our business to think of 
don't you see ? and hers, you know, is very serious," 
and William Maubray laughed again a little bitterly. 



Violet and William in the Drawing-Room. 269 

"Well, she is a dear little creature, an affectionate little 
soul. I've always found her quite the same," said Aunt 
Dinah. 

"I'm sure she is I dare say I don't see why she 
shouldn't, that is, as affectionate as other young ladies. 
You know it isn't I who say she's changed." 

"I did not say she's changed more than you. I think 
you don't seem so kindly as you used, and more disposed 
to be disagreeable ; and I think, considering you have been 
so long together, and are so soon to part, and life is so 
uncertain, I think it a pity ; and you can't see even how 
pretty she is looking." 

" I must have been thinking of something else, for she 
is in particularly good looks ; " and he added, quite like 
himself, " Yes, indeed, I think she improves every time I 
see her, but that may be the old partiality, you know. 
Good-night, Aunt Dinah." 

Aunt Dinah took both his hands to hers, and kissed 
him. 

"Good-night, my dear William my dear boy. You 
will never know, dear William, all the pain you have cost 
me. Pray, my dear child, for a reasonable spirit, and 
that you may have power to conquer the demon of pride 
the besetting sin of youth, and, my d?ar William, you 
must reconsider the question of ordination, and pray for 
light. God bless you, and don't forget to put out your 
candle. There 11 another kiss " Good-night" 



CHAPTER LL 

A DREAM. 




indeed!" said William, 
"I do believe they have no other idea 
but to mortify and wound everyone that 
seems to like them cats and monkeys." 

William had closed the door ; he poked his fire, and 
sat before it, eyeing it scornfully. 

" I can't think why anyone likes them why we go on 
liking them they are so odious. I suppose they used 
not to be so. There's Aunt Dinah kind, true old Aunt 
Dinah she never could have been a heartless, insolent 
creature, like that never. We are all growing worse ; 
the world will soon be ripe for judgment." 

And William pulled off his coat as savagely as if he 
was going to fight "Old Crump" again, behind the 
chapel at Rugby. 

" I hate myself for liking her. No, I don't like her 
for admiring her ; but she is pretty. She is there's no 
good in denying it she's awfully pretty lovely! and 
till that great goose, Trevor, came and turned her head 
with his boots, and his gloves, and his house, and his 
trumpery, she was the nicest little creature in the world. 
Yes, there was no one like her; not one on earth, I'll 
maintain." 



A Dream. 271 

And he knocked his hand so hard on the back of the 
chair beside him, that he thought his knuckles were 
bleeding. 

" I wish they were, by Jove ! " he said. " I don't care 
what happens, I don't care if I was knocked to smash, to 
think of that great gawky goose. What on earth can 
she see in him ? Such rot ! " 

" Yes, she w there's no use in disputing it she's the 
prettiest girl I ever saw, in all my life? he went on, 
putting himself down and overbearing his affected in- 
difference with honest vehemence. "Aunt Dinah has 
promised me her carte de visite. I'll have it copied in 
large the first money I have, in Paris, at that great fellow's 
there and tinted ; and I'll make old Winnie get me a 
lock of her hair ; I have the one safe when she was nine 
years old so bright who would have thought it would 
ever have grown so dark ? Winnie will get it for me. If 
1 asked her, she'd only refuse, or put me off some way. 
I'll hang up her picture and the little drawing of Gilroyd 
in my garret in Paris, and I'll be a jolly old bachelor. 
Marry in five years, indeed ? My poor aunt might easily 
find something more likely to fret about. Yes, I'll be the 
most tremendous, dry old quiz of a bachelor ; and when 
she and her precious husband come to Paris, as they will 
some day, I'll get a peep at her, perhaps, in the theatres 
and places, from some dark corner, and I'll wonder what 
she will be like then always handsome, those eyes, and 
her lips so scarlet, and her beautiful hair ; and I'll com- 
pare her with little Vi of Gilroyd. She may be hand- 
somer and more showy, but the little Vi of Gilroyd will 
always be the brightest and best." 

In this mood William rambled over many old recollec- 
tions of the place and people he was leaving, and he 
laid his waistcoat on the chair much more gently than 



272 All in tJie Dark. 

his ccat ; and he thought how Aunt Dinah had taught 
him to say his prayers long ago, under that friendly roof, 
and so down he kneeled and said them with a sadder 
heart, and rose up with a great sigh, and a sense of leave- 
taking that made his heart ache. 

And now his candle was out, and he soon fast asleep ; 
and again he had a dream so strange that I must 
relate it. 

The scenery of his dream, as before, presented simply 
the room in which he lay, with the flickering fire-light in 
which he had gone to sleep. He lay, in his vision, in 
his bed, just as he really did, with his back to the 
fire and looking towards the curtains, which were closed 
on the side between him and the door, when he heard a 
sound of naked feet running up to his chamber door, 
which was flung open with a precipitation which made 
the windows rattle, and his bed-curtain was drawn aside, 
and Miss Perfect, with only a sheet, as it seemed, wrapt 
over her night dress, and with a face white, and fixed 
with horror, said, " Oh, my God ! William, I'm dead 
don't let me go ! " and under the clothes she clasped 
his wrist with a hand that felt like cold metal. The 
figure crouched, with its features advanced towards his, 
and William Maubray could neither speak nor move, and 
lay so for some time, till with a " Ho ! " he suddenly 
recovered the power of motion, and sprang out of bed at 
the side farthest from the visionary Aunt Dinah ; and as 
he did so, he distinctly felt the grasp of a cold hand 
upon his wrist, which, just as before, vanished as he re- 
covered the full possession of his waking faculties, leav- 
ing, however, its impression there. 

William lighted his candle at the fire, and listened for 
a long time before he could find courage to look to the 
other side of the bed. When he did, however, no sign 



A Dream. 273 

of Aunt Dinah, sane or mad, was there. The door was 
shut, and the old fashioned furniture stood there prim 
and faded as usual, and everything maintained its old 
serenity. On his wrist, however, were the marks of a 
recent violent pressure, and William was seized with an 
uncontrollable anxiety about Aunt Dinah which quite 
overcame his panic; and getting on his clothes, and 
making a preliminary survey of the gallery, which was 
still and empty, he hurried to Aunt Dinah's door and 
knocked. 

" It's I William. How are you, aunt ? are you quite 
well ? " asked he, in reply to her. 

" Who's there ? what's all that ? " 

"I, William." 

"Come in, child: you may. I'm in my bed: what 
takes you out of yours ? " 

" I had a dream, and fancied you were in my room, 
and and ill." 

"Pooh, pooh, my dear William, get back to your 
room. It is all a fancy. I've been here in bed for an 
hour or more, reading my dear father's sermon on the 
Woman of Endor." 

There she was, sitting up in a flannel dressing gown, 
with the sometime dean's large and legible manuscript 
before her, and no doubt investigating, with the lights 
thrown by Elihu Bung, the phenomena in which the witch 
of those remote times dealt. 

" I heard you talk a little time ago," said Aunt Dinah, 
after a short and curious stare at William's pallid coun- 
tenance. 

"No," said William, "I didn't; I heard it too. It 
was that in fact that partly alarmed me. It is very 
odd." 

" Were there knockings ? " inquired she. 



All in the Dark. 

" No, no knocking," said William ; " it opened with 
a push." 

"What, my dear?" demanded Aunt Dinah, sitting 
very erect as she gazed with a dark curiosity in Wil- 
liam's face, and abandoned the dean's manuscript on 
the coverlet 

" The door," he answered. " It is very odd. It's the 
most horrid thing I ever heard of. I'm sorry I slept in 
that room." 








CHAPfER LIL 

NEXT MORNING. 

|UNT DINAH leaned on her thin hand, looking 
with something like fear at William fixed and 
silently. 

"What o'clock is it, aunt?" asked he. 

" Three minutes to four," she replied, consulting her 
broad old gold watch, and then holding it to her ear. 
"Yes; three minutes to four. I thought it was later. 
You saw something, William Maubray you did. You 
have seen something : haven't you ? " 

So William, bit by bit, scared and very uncomfortable, 
recounted his adventure, to which Miss Perfect listened 
attentively, and she said 

" Yes it is remarkable very wonderful if anything 
can be said to be particularly so, where all is marvellous. 
I understand it, quite." 

" And what is it ? " asked he. 

"The spirit key again my name and image don't 
you see ? and ' don't let me go,' and the other intimation 
take it all together, it's quite plain." 

" Do tell me, dear aunt, what you mean ? " 

" It all connects, dear William, with what I told you ; 
the grasp of that hand links you with the spirit world ; 
the image was mine my double, I do suppose. Hand 



276 All in the Dark. 

me that snuff-box. It spoke as if after my death; it 
urged upon you to maintain your correspondence with 
me ' don't let me go' and it plainly intimates that I 
shall have the power of doing as I promised and cer- 
tainly shall, in case you should meditate disregarding my 
solemn warning about your marriage, and think of 
uniting yourself, William dear, to anyone, before the 
expiration of five years there's the whole thing in a 
nutshell." 

"May I sit here for a little?" asked William, who 
from childish years had been accustomed to visit his 
aunt's room often, and when she was ill used to sit 
there and read for her. 

" Certainly, my dear : but don't go to sleep and fall 
into the fire." 

Aunt Dinah resumed her sermon, with now and then 
a furtive reference to Elihu Bung, concealed under her 
pillow, and William Maubray sat near the bed with his 
feet on the fender : and thus for nearly five minutes he 
looking on the bars, and she on her sermon and he 
volume of reference at the end of that time she laid il 
again on the coverlet, and looked for some time thought 
fully on the back of William's head ; and she said 
suddenly as to make him start 

" Five years is nothing : it's quite ridiculous making 
fuss about it. I've known girls engaged that time, am 
longer, too : for ten and even twelve years." 

" Pretty girls they must have been by that time,' 
thought William, who was recovering from the panic < 
his vision. 

" And I think they made fonder couples than people 
that are married three weeks after their engagement,' 
added Aunt Dinah. "Therefore do have a little 
tience." 



. Next Morning. 277 

" But I'm in no hurry about anything," said William ; 
"least of all about marriage. I have not an idea; and 
if I had I couldrtt ; and my honest belief is I shall 
die an old bachelor." 

" H'm ! I never mind what people say on that subject," 
said Miss Perfect ; " but I hope what you've experienced 
to-night will be a warning. Yes, dear William, I'm very 
glad it has happened ; it is always well to know the 
truth it may affright, but when it comes in the shape 
of warning it is always welcome that is it ought to be. 
I needed nothing more to convince me, but you did, and 
you've got it. Depend upon it, if you disobey you are 
a ruined man all your days ; and if I die before the 
time, I'll watch you as an old gray cat watches a 
mouse ha, ha, ha ! and if you so much as think of it, I'll 
plague you I will. Yes, William, I'll save you in spite 
of yourself, and mortal was never haunted and tormented 
as you'll be, till you give it up." 

William could not have forborne a joke, though a 
kindly one, upon such a speech at another time ; but 
somehow now he could not. The spectre of Aunt 
Dinah cowering at his bedside was present with him, 
and when she bid him good-night, although he was 
ashamed to confess his trepidation, he hated a return 
to that old-fashioned room where he had twice experi- 
enced the same kind of visitation. 

When he returned he made up his fire, drew his 
window curtains wide open to admit the earliest streak 
j of sunrise, pulled his bed-curtains back to the posts, 
and placed his candle on the table in the centre of the 
room, resolved that Aunt Dinah's double should not at 
all events steal on him unaware-'. 

At last the pleasant October morning came. The 
wind that had blown wildly in the night was quiet now, 



All in the Dark. 

having left its spoil of yellow leaves strewn upon tha 
lawn or rustling over the gravel walks. 

The cheerful yellow light cleared the room of all 
unearthly shadows, and the song of birds refreshed his 
ears, as he made his early toilet. 

The joyous bark of little Psyche scampering before 
the windows, the call of the driver to his team, the 
whistling of birds, the voices of the inmates of the 
house, and at last the laugh of Violet Darkwell from 
the porch. 

Beautiful music! like merry spirits in the air de- 
parting, soon to be heard no more. He stood with 
his hand on his half open door smiling scarcely 
breathing listening, as never did Fanatico per la 
musica, to the favourite roulade of prima donna, 
ceased he listened still, and then sighed in the silem 
And seemed to himself to waken. 

In his ear that music sounded sadly, and his he 
was full as he ran down the stairs smiling. And pret 
Violet's slender figure was leaning at the side of the 
porch; and she looked up, knowing his step, with a 
smile, the old kindly smile, for a moment, and th< 
its character a little changed, something of the insci 
able but beautiful reserves of girlhood, which baffle 
and interested, and pained William so. He would 
liked to have called her Vi. The name was at his lij 
but there was something of pride, which even thus, wl 
his boat is on the shore and his bark is on the 
restrained him. 

" Miss mind I'm calling you rightly Miss Vi( 
Darkwell, I'm so glad I've found you so early," he 
said, smiling, "my hours I ought to say minutes 
are so precious. I go at half-past ten, and I hardly saw 
or heard you last night, you were so anxious to be off." 



Next Morning. 279 

" You forget how wise we all were, and wisdom, though 
"t's a very good thing, is not lively ; and its chief use, I 
suppose, is that a sort of lullaby, for I'm sure nobody 
ever minds it. You don't nor /, nor darling grannie : 
and I think if you wanted to be put to sleep there would 
be nothing like having a tranquil old sage, like Winnie 
Dobbs, at your bedside to repeat a string of her sayings, 
like * Early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, 
wealthy, and wise ; ' and besides being very wise, I 
think you were just, if it is not very disrespectful to say 
so, ever so little cross, so that altogether I thought it 
best to go to bed and to sleep as fast as I could." 

" I quite forget. Was I cross ? I dare say I was. I 
think ill-temper is one expression of suffering; and I have 
not been very happy lately," said William. 

" You have been strangely misrepresented, then," said 
the young lady, slily. 

" So I have ; and I do so wish you'd stop about that 
nonsense. You can't conceive unless you knew the 
people " 

"I thought she was very protty," interrupted Miss 
Darkwell, innocently. 

"So she is perhaps I dare say; but pretty or 
plain, as I said before, I'm not in love with her. Pm not 
in love, thank Heaven, with anyone, and I " 

"Come in to prayers, William, dear," Aunt Dinah 
called aloud from the parlour door, " I've had breakfast 
earlv. expressly for you, and you must not delay it" 




CHAPTER LIII, 

THE FLOWER. 

|T breakfast the little party had a great deal to talk 
about, topics of hope, and topics of regret, 
glanced at in all sorts of spirits, sad and cheer- 
ful, black spirits and white, blue spirits and gray ; but on 
the whole one would have said, looking on and a stranger 
to all that was possibly passing within, that it was a diet 
ful meal. 

" Five miles and a half to the station, and the up 
at eleven forty-five." The cab, or whatever it is, will 
here at half-past ten, and then good-bye. Farewell, p< 
haps, for three years to Gilroyd," so said William, as 
and Violet Darkwell stood side by side, looking out 
the window, upon the glowing autumnal landscape. 

" Three years ! you don't mean to say you'd stay a 
all that time, without ever coming to see grannie ? " 

" Of course if she wants me I'll come ; but should 
not, and should she at the same time continue, as I ho] 
she will, quite well, and should / be kept close to 
work, as I expect, it's sure to turn out as I say. 
years yes, it is a long time room for plenty of change 
and changes enough, great ones, there will be, no doubt 

The uplands of Revington formed the background 
the pretty prospect before him, and it needed the remei 
brance of the promise he had made to Aunt Dinah 



The Flower. 281 

prevent his speaking with less disguise, for he always felt 
of late an impetuous longing almost fierce to break through 
conventional hypocrisies, and lay bare his wounded heart, 
and upbraid, and implore, in the wildest passion before 
Violet Darkwell. To be alone with her, and yet say 
nothing of all that was swelling and rolling at his heart 
was pain. And yet to be alone with her, even in this 
longing and vain anguish, and near her, was a strange 
despairing delight. 

" Oh, yes, everyone changes, every day almost, except 
dear grannie and old Winnie Dobbs. I'm sure / change, 
and so do you, and what won't three years do ? You've 
changed very much, and not for the better," and saying this 
Miss Violet laughed. 

" My changes, be they what they may, don't seem to 
trouble you much," replied William. 

" Trouble ? not at all. I dare say they are improve- 
ments, though I don't like them," laughed she. 

" I don't think I'm a bit changed. I Jznow I'm not, in 
fact. Tell me any one thing in which I'm changed." 

"Well, it is generally; you have grown so disagreeable, 
that's all it is not much to me, but I dare say it will be 
to other people," said she. 

" I'm disagreeable }es, of course because I have my 
opinion about men and things, and fools and nonsense. 
I don't know anything IVe said to you, at least since I 
came yesterday, that could annoy you. I have not men- 
tioned a single subject that could possibly even interest 
yon. I dare say it is tiresome my talking so much as 
Aunt Dinah makes me, about myself. But I could?-> 7 t 
help it." 

"It won't do, William; you know very well how cross 
you always are now, at least with me, not that I mind it 
much, but there's no denying." 



282 All in tfo Dark. 

" You accused me of that before, and I said I was sorry 
I perhaps I am. I'm going away, and everything break- 
ing up, you know, and you must make allowances. I used 
not to be cross long ago, and I'm not changed. No I'm 
the same I never said an unkind word to you, Vi, all the 
time when you were a little thing, and if ever I speak 
differently now, it is not from unkindness, only that things 
have gone wrong with me, and I've seen something of the 
world; and things happen to sour one, and I don't 
know but I'm not changed. You mustn't think it 
now that I'm going away. I'm such a fool, I'm such a 
beast, I can't help talking bitterly sometimes, and some- 
times I think I am a a fiend almost, but I hope I am 
not as bad as I seem." 

So spoke this Penruddock, who fancied himself soured 
for life, and soliloquised at times in the vein of Elshender 
of Muckle-stane Muir, but still cherished at the age of 
three-and-twenty some sparks of his original humanity. 

" There goes Tom with my things to the gate. Yes, it 
ought to be here now," said William looking at his watch. 
" I'll send you something pretty from Paris if you let me ; 
nothing very splendid you know, only a little reminder 
such as a poor beggar like me, can offer," and he laughed, 
not very merrily. "And I shall hear all the news from 
Aunt Dinah, and send her all mine ; and I like flowers. 
I always remember the Gilroyd flowers along with you. 
You were always among them, you know, and will you 
give me that little violet a namesake ? No one ever re- 
fuses a flower, it is the keepsake everyone gets for the 
asking." 

" Here it is," said Violet, with a little laugh, but look- 
ing not mockingly, but a little downward and oddly, and 
William placed it very carefully in a recess of his compli- 
cated purse, that was a cardcase also, and I know not 



The Flower. 283 

what else beside. He was on the point of saying some- 
thing very romantic and foolish, but suddenly recollected 
himself, and pulled up at the verge just before he went 
over. 

" This is a souvenir of very old days, you know," said 
William, remembering Trevor, and how humiliating be- 
cause vain any love-making of his own must prove, " of a 
very early friend one of your earliest. Wasn't I?" 

" Yes, so you were, a very good-natured friend, and 
very useful. Sometimes a little bit prosy, you know, 
always giving me excellent advice ; and I think I always, 
often at least, listened to your lectures with respect But 
why is it, will you tell me who know everything, that 
gentlemen always ask for a rose or a violet, or a flower 
of some sort, as a keepsake ? Nothing so perishable. 
Would not a thimble or even a slipper be better? I 
suppose you have us all in what you used to call a hortus 
siccus, brown roses, and yellow violets, and venerable 
polyanthuses, thoroughly dried up and stiff as chips, and 
now and then with a sort of triumph review your prisoners, 
and please yourselves with these awful images of old maid- 
hood. How can we tell what witchcrafts go on over our 
withering types and emblems. Give me back my violet 
and you shall have a hair-pin instead." 

" Many thanks ; I'll keep my violet, however. It may 
grow dry and brown to other eyes, to mine it will never 
change. Just because it is an enchanted violet, and there 
is a spell upon my eyes as often as I look on it, and the 
glow and fragrance will never pass away." 

" Very good song, and very well sung ! only / suspect 
that's the usual speech, and you asked for the violet for 
an opportunity of making it." 

At this moment Aunt Dinah entered the room accom- 
panied by old Winnie Dobbs, supporting a small hamper 



2*4 



All in the Dark. 



tray fashion. William recognised the old commissariat of 
Gilroyd in this nutritious incumbrance, against which he 
had often and vainly protested, as he now did more 
faintly by a smile and lifting his hands. 

" Now there's really very little in this ; just a fowl cut 
up, half a ham, one of the Saxton plumcakes, and a pint 
bottle with a little sherry. You'll find bread by itself, and 
some salt in white paper, and a few Ripston pippins, and 
it is really no weight at all ; is it, Winnie ? " 

" No, nothing to them porter fellows. What else be 
they paid for, if it baint to carry loads ? what's a hamper 
like this here to one of them ? and he'll want something 
on the way. You'll be hungry, you will, Master 
William." 

" And whatever's left will be of use to you when you 
reach your destination," said Aunt Dinah, repeating hei 
ancient formula on similar occasions. " Now, William, 
you promise me you'll not leave this behind. Surely you 
can't be such a fool as to be ashamed to take a little re- 
freshment before the passengers. Well-bred people won't 
stare at you, and I know you won't vex me by refusing 
the little provision." 

So William laughed and promised, and Miss Vi looked 
as if she could have quizzed him, but at this moment the 
Saxton vehicle from the Golden Posts pulled up at the iron 
gate of Gilroyd, and William glanced at his watch, and 
though he smiled, it was with the pale smile of a man 
going to execution, and trying to cheer his friends rathex 
than being of good comfort himself. 




CHAPTER LIV. 

DOCTOR DRAKE GOES TO GILROYD. 

|ND now I must say farewell, and if I can, or 
if you want me, I'll come soon and see you 
again ; and God bless you, Violet ; and 
good-bye, my darling aunt. I'll write from London this 
evening, and let you know what my Paris address will 
be." 

" God Almighty bless you, my precious Willie ; and 
I'm very glad " and here Aunt Dinah's sentence broke 
short, -and tears were in her eyes, and she bit her lip. 
" I am, my darling Willie, that we met ; and you'll really 
come soon, if I write for you ; and you won't forget your 
Bible and your prayers ; and, oh ! goodness gracious ! 
have you forgot the tobacco-box ? " 

It was safe in his dressing-case. So another hurried 
farewell, and a smiling and kissing of hands. " Good- 
bye, good-bye ! " from the cab window ; and away it 
rattled, and William was gone ; and the two ladies and 
old Winnie in the rear, stood silently looking for a 
minute or so where the carriage had been, and then they 
turned, with the faded smile of farewell still on their 
faces, and slowly re-entered old Gilroyd Hall, which all 
in a moment had grown so lonely. 

In the drawing-room they were silcn*. Violet 



286 All in Ifa Dark. 

looking through the window, but not, I think, taking 
much note of the view, pretty as it is. 

"I'm going away, and everything breaking up, and you 
must make allowances" William's words were in hei 
lonely ears now. A breaking-up had partly come, and a 
greater was coming. William's words sounded like a 
prophecy. " Breaking-up." Poor Gilroyd ! Many a plea- 
sant summer day and winter evening had she known in 
that serene old place. 

Pleasant times, no doubt, were before her a more 
splendid home, perhaps. Still memory would always 
look back regretfully on those early times, and the 
familiar view of Gilroyd; its mellow pink-tinted brick, 
and window-panes, flashing in the setting sun, half seen 
through the stooping branches of the old chestnuts, would 
rise kindly and quaint before her, better beloved than the 
new and colder glories that might await her. Had the 
break-up indeed come? There was a foreboding of 
change, a presage as of death at her heart. When she 
looked at Miss Perfect she saw that she had been crying, 
and it made her heart heavier. 

" Remember, he said he'd come to you whenever you 
write. You can bring him back whenever you please; 
and really Paris is no distance at all." 

"I don't know, little Violet, I'm very low. It's all 
very true, what you say, but I've a misgiving. I've looked 
my last on my fine fellow my boy. If I did as I am 
prompted, I think I should follow him to London, just to 
have one look more." 

" You're tired, grannie, darling, and you look pale ; 
you must have a little wine." 

" Pooh, child no nothing," said Aunt Dinah, with a 
flicker of her usual manner; but there was a fatigue and 
feebleness in her look which Violet did not like. 



Doctor Drake Goes to Gilroyd. 287 

" Give me my desk, like a darling," said Miss Perfect ; 
ind she wrote a note, pondering a good while over it: 
and she leaned back, tired, when she had completed it, 
" I did my duty by him, I hope. I think he does me 
credit a handsome fellow ! I don't see anywhere " 

There was a pause here, and a kind of groan, and, 
coming near, Violet Darkwell saw that she had fainted. 

Gteat commotion was there in Gilroyd Hall. Miss 
Perfect's seizure did not pass away like a common swoon. 
Away went Tom for Doctor Drake, and Vi and the ser- 
vants got poor Aunt Dinah, cold, and breathing heavily, 
and still insensible, to her bed. 

Doctor Drake arrived quickly, and came up to her 
room, with his great coat buttoned up to his chin, looking 
rather stern, in a reserved but friendly sort of fuss. 

" Hey yes, yes there it is. How long ago did this 
happen, my dear ? " 

" Not quite half an hour in the drawing-room. Oh, 
Doctor Drake, is it anything very bad ? " answered Violet. 

" Well, my dear, it's serious but I hope it will be all 
right; it's a smart little attack of apoplexy upon my 
word it is. There was no convulsion that's right. It 
was very well he came when he did just caught me at 
the door. Open the window and door. Mrs. Dobbs, 
give me cold water. Have you a scissors ? We'll cut 
tne strings of her dress and staylace. One of you run 
down and bring up a kettleful of hot water. Her feet are 
a little cold. Get up her head a little more. We'll get 
her sitting up, if you please, in this armchair here. We'll 
bathe her feet, and you'll see she'll do very well, pre- 
sently. It's not a case for bleeding; and bring up mus- 
tard. I think you'll see she'll come round in a little 
time." 

And so on the doctor talked and directed, and actively 



288 All in the Dark. 

treated his patient; and in a little time consciousness 
returned, and there was time at last, to think of William 
Maubray. 

"Shall we telegraph a message to London?" asked 
Violet. 

" Not a bit ; she's going on as nicely as possible. He'd 
only be in the way here, and it would frighten her. She's 
doing capitally ; and she may never have a return, if she 
just takes care. She must take care, you know, and I'll 
give you full directions how to treat her." 

And so he did. Miss Vi being accurate and intelli- 
gent, and rising with the occasion, so that Doctor Drake 
that evening celebrated Miss Darkwell to his friend Dig- 
num, of the Golden Posts, as a trump and a brick, and 
the nicest little creature he ever saw. 

Mr. Vane Trevor, who had called at Gilroyd that morn- 
ing, but found all things in confusion and panic, called 
again in the evening, and had the pleasure of an interview 
with Winnie Dobbs; but he could not see Miss Dark- 
well. The young lady had given peremptory directions 
respecting all visitors, and would not leave Miss Per- 
fect's room. 

Doctor Drake was honoured that evening by a call from 
the proprietor of Revington, and gave him a history of the 
case ; and Trevor accompanied him back again to Gil- 
royd, where he was about to make his evening visit, and 
awaited his report in the little gravel courtyard, stealing 
now and then a wistful glance up to the old-fashioned 
atone-faced windows. But Violet did not appear. It 
might have been different I can't say had she known 
all that had passed between " Miss Perfect and Vane Tre- 
ror respecting her. As it was, the young gentleman's 
long wait was rewarded only by the return of Doctor 
Drake, and a saunter n r ith him back again to Saxton. 



Doctor Drake Goes to Gilroyd. 289 

Pretty nearly the same was the routine of several sub- 
sequent days. Fruits and vegetables, too, with messages 
came down from Revington ; and in his interviews with 
old Winnie Dobbs he betrayed a great solicitude that the 
young lady should not wear herself out with watching and 
attendance. 

On Sunday he was in the church-yard almost as early 
as the doors opened, and loitered there till the bell ceased 
ringing; and sat in his pew so as to command an easy 
view of the church door, and not a late arrival escaped 
his observation. But Violet Darkwell did not appear; 
and Vane Trevor walked home with little comfort from 
the Rev. Dr. Wagget's learned sermon; and made his 
usual calls at Gilroyd and at Doctor Drake's, and began 
to think seriously of writing to Violet, and begging an in- 
terview, or even penning the promptings of his ardent 
passion in the most intelligible terms. And I have little 
doubt that had he had a friend by him, to counsel him 
little in that direction, he would have done so. 





CHAPTER LV. 

SUSPENSE. 

|NE day Trevor actually made up his mind to 
bring about the crisis ; and pale as a man about 
to be hanged, and with the phantom of a smile 
uoon his lips, after his accustomed inquiries, he told Mrs. 
hodgers, the cook, who, in the absence of Winnie Dobbs, 
officiated as hall-porter, to ask Miss Violet Darkwell if 
she would be so good as to give him just a moment. 
And on getting through his message his heart made two 
or three such odd jumps and rolls, that he was almost re- 
lieved when she told him that old Doctor Wagget had 
come by appointment, and that Miss Violet and Winnie 
* r ere receiving the sacrament with the mistress, who, thank 
God, was getting on better every day. 

"It's wiser for me to wait," thought Trevor, as he 
walked away, determined to take a long ride through the 
Warren, and over Calston Moor, and to tire himself 
effectually. " They never think what they're doing, girls 
are so hand-over-head by Jove, if she had not Miss Per- 
fect to talk to she might refuse me, and be awfully sorry 
for it in a day or two. I must only have patience, and 
wait till the old woman is better. I forget how the 
wompii said she is to-day. No matter old Drake will 
tell me. It's hanged unlucky, I know. I suppose she eat 



Suspetuc. 291 

too much dinner with that great fellow, Maubray; or 
some nonsense however, I'll think it over in my ride ; 
or, by Jove, I'll take my gun and have a shot at the 
rabbits." 

Miss Perfect was, indeed, better, and Doctor Drake, 
though a. little reserved, spoke, on the whole, cheerily 
about her. And she saw a good deal of her kind old 
friend, Parson Wagget ; and also, was pronounced well 
enough to see her lawyer, Mr. Jones, not that Doctor 
Drake quite approved of business yet, but he thought that 
so eager a patient as Miss Perfect might suffer more from 
delay and disappointment. So there were a few quiet 
interviews on temporal matters. 

William was a little disquieted at receiving no letter 
from Gilroyd for some days after his arrival. But there 
came at last a short one from Doctor Drake, which men- 
tioned that he had seen the ladies at Gilroyd that morn- 
ing both as well as he could desire ; and that Miss Per 
feet had got into a troublesome dispute with some tenants, 
which might delay her letter a little longer, and then it 
passed to shooting anecdotes and village news. Such as 
it was, he welcomed it fondly enclosing as it did the 
air of Gilroyd passing, as it must have done, in its town 
ward flight from Saxton, the tall gate of Gilroyd penned 
by the hand which had touched Violet Darkwell's that 
very day, and conned over by eyes on whose retinas her 
graceful image lingered still. Even tipsy Dr. Drake's let- 
ter was inexpressibly interesting, and kept all the poetry 
of his soul in play for that entire evening. 

Miss Violet consulted with Miss Wagget, and agreed 
that in a day or two they might write a full account 
of Miss Perfect's attack and recovery to William, whom 
it had been judged best, while there was still any anxiety, 
to spare the suspense of a distant and doubtful illness. 



89? AH in the Dark. 

But this is an uncertain world. The message, when it 
did go, went not by post but by telegraph, and was not 
of the cheery kind they contemplated. 

When William returned to his lodgings that evening, 
oddly enough projecting a letter to Aunt Dinah, in the 
vein of the agreeable Baron de Grirnm, whose correspond- 
ence he had been studying, he found upon his table a 
telegram, only half an hour arrived. 

It was sent " From the Rev. J. Wagget, Saxton Rectory, 
to M. William Maubray," &c., &c., and said simply 

"Miss Perfect is dangerously ill. Come to Gilroyd 
immediately." 

A few hours later William was speeding northward in 
the dark, for a long time the only occupant of his carriage, 
looking out from time to time from the window, and won- 
dering whether train had ever dragged so tediously before 
thinking every moment of Gilroyd and dear old Aunt 
Dinah reading the telegram over and over, and making 
for it sometimes a cheery, and sometimes the most por- 
tentous interpretation ; then leaning back with closed 
eyes, and picturing a funereal group receiving him with 
tears, on the door-steps at home. Then again looking 
out on the gliding landscape, and in his despairing impa- 
tience pressing his foot upon the opposite seat as if to im- 
pel the lagging train. 

When William reached London he found at his old 
lodgings two letters, one from Doctor Sprague, the other 
from Miss Perfect, which had been lying there for some 
days. 

Having a wait of two hours for his train he was glad 
to find even this obsolete intelligence. That which, of 
course, interested him most was written with a very aged 
tremble in the hand, and was very short, but bore the 
signature of " poor old auntie." It was as follows- < 



Suspense. 293 

"Mv DEAR WILLIE, 

" I suppose they given you some account if my 
indisposition not much, and need not not you be dis- 
quieted. My old head is a little confused, some medi- 
cine I dare say, but shall well again in a day or two 
two. This note is under the rose. The doctor says I 
must not write, so you need not it. I have eaten a 
morsel for three days so the pen a little. Do remem- 
ber, dear boy, all told you, dear, about the five years. I 
dreamed much since. If you think of such a thing, I 
must do it. Willie, sorry I should be you shoul fear or 
dislike me. I should haunt torment Willie. But you 
will do right. When you go go to France, I will send 
4 to amuse yourself with sights, &c. And Heaven bless 
and guard my precious Willie by every and influence, 
says his fond 

" poor old AUNTIE. 

" Better." 

William Maubray's trouble increased on reading this 
letter. The slips and oddities of style instinctively 
alarmed him. There was something very bad the matter, 
he was sure. The letter was eight days old, the telegram 
scarce four-and-twenty hours. But however ill she might 
be, it was certain she was living when the message was 
despatched. So he went on assuring himself, although 
there lay on his mind a dreadful misgiving that he was 
summoned not to a sick bed, nor even to a death-bed, 
but to a funeral. 

Early that evening William drove from the station to- 
ward Gilroyd. The people at Dolworth had heard no- 
thing of Miss Perfect's illness. How should they, living 
so far away, and hardly ever seeing a Saxton face, and 
not caring enough ab.out her to be very likely to inquire. 



r 94 AM in the Dark. 

At last, at the sudden turn in the road, as it crosses 
the brow of Drindle Hill, the pretty little place, the 
ruddy brick and tall chestnuts, touched with the golden 
smile of sunset, and throwing long gray shadows over the 
undulating grass, revealed themselves. The small birds 
were singing their pleasant vespers, and the crows sailing 
home to the woods of Wyndleford, mottled the faint 
green sky, and filled the upper air with their mellowed 
cawings. The very spirit of peace seemed dreaming 
there. Pretty Gilroyd ! 

Now he was looking on the lawn, and could see the 
hall-door. Were the blinds down ? He was gazing at 
Aunt Dinah's windows, but a cross-shadow prevented hi? 
feeing distinctly. There was no one on the steps, no 
one at the drawing-room window, not a living thing on 
the lawn. And now that view of Gilroyd was hidden 
from his eyes, and they were driving round the slope of 
the pretty road to the old iron gate, where, under the 
long shadow of the giant ash tree opposite, they pulled 
up. The driver had already run at the gateway. 

Pushing his way through the wicket, William Maubray 
had reached the porch before any sign of life encountered 
him. There he was met by honest Tom. He looked 
awfully dismal and changed, as if he had not eaten, or 
elept, or spoken for ever so long. Aunt Dinah was dead. 
Yes, she was dead. And three or four dark shadows, 
deeper and deeper, seemed to fall on all around him, and 
William Maubray went into the parlour, and leaning 
on the chimney-piece, wept bitterly, with his face to the 
waii. 



\ 




CHAPTER LVI, 

SOME PARTICULARS. 

| HE air is forlorn the house is vocal no more 
love is gone. 

"When was it, Tom? at what hour?" askea he. 

" Late cock-crow, just the gray of the morning. She 
was always early, poor little thing somewhere betwixt 
five and six it must 'a' bin. Will you please have some- 
thing a'ter your ride ? " 

."Nothing, Tom, nothing, thanks, but I'd like very 
much to see Winnie. Call her, Tom, and I'll wait here 
or no I'll be in the drawing-room, tell her." 

And to that room he went, standing for a while at the 
threshold, and making his desolate survey ; and tnen to 
the window, and then from place to place. 

The small table at which she used to sit in the even- 
ings stood in its old place by the sofa. Her little basket 
of coloured worsted balls, the unfinished work with the 
ivory crotchet-needles stuck through it, were tnere await- 
ing the return that was not to be. There lay tne old 
piano open. 

How well he knew that little oval landscape over 
the notes mellow by time, the lake and ruined tower, 
and solitary fisherman poor enough, I dare say, as 
a work of art; but to William's mind always the 



296 All in the Dark. 

sweetest and saddest little painting the world container 
Under that roofless tower that lonely fisherman there haa 
heard all Violet's pretty music, and before it poor Aunt 
Dinah's grand and plaintive minuets, until, years ago, 
she had abdicated the music-stool in favour of the lighter 
finger and the rich young voice. 

He remembered dear Aunt Dinah's face as she, sitting 
by that little table there- would lower her book or letter 
and listen to the pretty girl's song, sadly, in some untold 
poetry of memory. Oh, Aunt Dinah I He did not know 
till now how much you were to him how much of Gil- 
royd itself was in your kindly old face. The walls of 
Gilroyd speak and smile no more. 

He heard old Winnie Dobbs talking to Tom in the 
passage, and her slow foot approaching. Poor Aunt 
Dinah's light step and pleasant tones would come no 
more on stair or lobby. 

Such a welcome at Gilroyd, or anywhere, as the old 
one, for him would be no more no, nowhere never. 

In came old Winnie. Could old Winnie be quite old 
Winnie, and Aunt Dinah gone ? The yearnings of love 
were strong within him, and he hugged good old Dobbs 
on the threshold, and her fat arms were round him, and 
her fat fingers were grotesquely patting his back, and the 
sounds of sobbing were heard by the servants in the 
kitchen through the silent house. At last Winnie, drying 
her eyes, related all she had to tell. 

" It happened early this morning, a little before sun- 

ise, she went very quiet like a child. She talked a deal 

\bout Master William, when she was well enough, an' 

:nore loving-like than ever. She did not wish to live : 

but she thought she would though ay, she thought siicd 

do well, poor thing. Miss Vi was with her all the time 

-she was oieaking her he^art like about it; and Miss 



Sbme Particulars. 297 

V/agget came down in the carriage, and took her away 
wi' her and better, sure it was. This was no place for 
ner poor Miss Vi. Doctor Drake was very kind, and 
sat up all the night wi' her. And sure was Winnie, if 
doctors could a' saved her she would a' bin on her feet 
still ; but everyone has their lime. It's right, of course, 
to have the doctors in ; but, dear me, we all know 'tis no 
more use than nothink there's a time, you know, and, all 
is one, first or last. . I have mine, and you yours, and 
she had hers the dear mistress; and time and tide waits 
for no man ; and as the tree falleth so it lieth ; and man 
is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward and, in 
deed, that's true, dear knows. Would you like to see 
her, Master William ? " 

"Does she look happy does she look like herself?" 
inquired William. 

"Ah! that she does asleep like, you'd say. You 
never saw quieter just her own face. She is a very 
pretty corpse poor little thing, she is." 

" Perhaps, by-and-by not yet. I could not now. 
You'll come with me to her room, in a little while, // 
haps. But oh ! Winnie, I don't think I could bear it." 

" It is not in her room," said Winnie Dobbs. " She 
was very particular, you know, poor little thing, and 
would have her way; and she left a note in the looking, 
glass drawer for the rector Mr. Wagget, you know 
that now is ; and she made him promise it should be 
done as ordered, and so he did only a scrap of a note, 
no bigger than a playing card ; and I don't think you 
knew, unless she told you, but she had her coffin in the 
house this seven years nigh eight a'most upright in the 
little press by the left of the bed, in her room the cup- 
board like in the wall. Dearie me ! 'twas an odd fancy, 
poor little thing, and she'd dust it, and take it out, O l>e 



298 All in the Dark. 

would, wi' the door locked, her and me, once a month. 
She had a deal o' them queer fancies, she had ; but she 
was very good, she was very good to everyone, and a 
great many will miss her." 

And Winnie cried again. 

" I knew it must a' happened some time for certain 
her or me must go but who'd a' thought 'twas to be so 
soon ? who'd a' thought it ever ? There's a great plate, 
silvered over, wi' her name on't, as Doctor Wagget took 
away to get her years and date put on ; 'twill be back 
again to-morrow poor thing and she's not in her room 
out in the gardener's house." 

This was a disused outbuilding ; for it was many a 
year since Gilroyd had boasted a gardener among its 
officers. 

" Do you mean to say she has been carried out there? " 
inquired William, in unfeigned astonishment. 

" Them was her directions the little note as I told 
y OU and Doctor Wagget went by her orders strict, as 
he said he would \ and sure 'twas right he should, for she 
would not be denied." 

So this odd conversation proceeded, and, indeed, with 
this strange direction of poor Aunt Dinah's, whose coffin 
lay on tressels in the little tiled room in the small two 
storied cubical brick domicile, which stood even with the 
garden wall, old Winnie's revelations ended. 

William walked down to Saxton, and had a long talk 
with Doctor Drake, who was always sober up to nine 
o'clock, about poor Aunt Dinah's case ; and he wrote to 
Doctor Wagget, not caring to present himself at the 
Rectory so late, to report his arrival. And in the morn- 
ing Doctor Wagget came down and saw him at Gilroyd, 
when a conversation ensued, which I am about to relate. 




CHAPTER LVII. 

DOCTOR WAGGET: FURTHER PARTICULARS. 

JOCTOR WAGGET found William in the study 
at Gilroyd; he met him without the conven- 
tional long face, and with a kindly look, an 
a little sad, and shaking his hand warmly, he said, 

" Ah, Sir, your good aunt, my old friend, Miss Perfect, 
we've lost her; my loss is small compared with yours, 
but I can grieve with you." 

The doctor laid his hat, and gloves, and cane upon 
the table, and fixing his earnest eyes on William, he 
went on 

" We had a great deal of conversation in her last ill- 
ness which will interest you. On religious subjects I 
found her views poor lady all very sound ; indeed, if 
it had not been for that foolish spirit-rapping, which a 
little led her away that is, confused her I don't think 
there was anything in her opinions to which exception 
could have been taken. She had the sacrament twice, 
and I visited and prayed with her constantly, and very 
devout and earnest she was, and indeed her mind was in 
a very happy state very serene and hopeful." 

" Thank you, Sir, it is a great comfort." 

"And about that spiritualism, mind you, I don't jay 
there's nothing in it," continued the rector, " there w*y 

u 



300 All in the Dark. 

be a great deal in fact, a great deal too much but 
ake it what way we may, to my mind, it is too like what 
Scripture deals with as witchcraft to be tampered with. 
If there be no familiar spirit, it's nothing, and if there be, 
what is it ? I talked very fully with the poor lady the 
last day but one I saw her on this subject, to which in- 
deed she led me. I hope you don't practise it no 
that's right ; nothing would induce me to sit at a seance^ 
I should as soon think of praying to the devil. I don't 
say, of course, that everyone who does is as bad as I 
should be ; it depends in some measure on the view you 
take. The spirit world is veiled from us, no doubt in 
mercy in mercy, Sir, and we have no right to lift that 
veil; few do with impunity; but of that another time. 
She made a will, you know ? " 

" No, I did not hear." 

" Oh, yes ; Jones drew it ; it's in my custody j it leaves 
you everything. It is not a very great deal, you know ; 
two annuities die with her ; but it's somewhere about four 
hundred a year, Jones says, and this house. So it makes 
you quite easy, you see." 

To William, who had never paid taxes, and knew no- 
thing of servants' wages, four hundred a year and a house 
was Aladdin's lamp. The pale image of poor Aunt Dinah 
came with a plaintive smile, making him this splendid 
gift, and he burst into tears. 

" I wish, Sir, I had been better to her. She was always 
so good to me. Oh, Sir, I'd give anything, I would, for 
a few minutes to tell her how much I really loved her ; 
I'm afraid, Sir, she did not know." 

" Pooh ! she knew very well. You need not tiouble 
yourself on that point. You were better to her than a 
son to "- rr other. You are not to trouble yourself about 
that little a a difference of opinion about taking 



Further Particulars. 301 

orders ; for I tell you plainly, she was wrong, and you 
were right ; one of her fancies, poor little thing. But 
that's not a matter to be trifled with, it's a very awful 
step ; I doubt whether we make quite solemnity enough 
about it ; there are so few things in life irrevocable ; but 
however that may be, you are better as you are, and 
there's nothing to reproach yourself with on that head. 
When I said, by-the-bye, that she had left you every 
thing, I ought to have excepted that little jewellery, 
which was left to Miss Darkwell, and a few books to me, 
that mad fellow, Bung, you know, among them, and an 
old silver salver to Saxton Church, which there was a 
tradition was stolen by a Puritan tenant of Sir what's- 
his-name that had the tobacco-box, you know, from 
some church, she did not know what, in this county, 
when his troop was quartered at Hentley Towers. And 
and she had a fancy it was that spirit, Henbane, you 
know, that told her to restore it to the Church any 
church and there are a few trifling legacies, you know, 
and that's all." 

Then their conference diverged into the repulsive 
details of the undertaker, where we need not follow, and 
this over, the rector said : 

"You must come down and see us at the Rectory; 
Miss Darkwell, you know, is with us at present ; some- 
thing likely to be in that quarter very soon, you are 
aware," he added, significantly; "very advantageous, 
everything, but all this, you know, delays it for a time ; 
you'll come over and see us, as often as you like ; a very 
pretty walk across the fields nothing to a young athlete 
like you, Sir, and we shall always be delighted to see 
you." 

Well, this dreadful week passed over, and another, 
and William Maubray resigned his appointment at Paris, 



302 All in the Dark, 

and resolved on the bar ; and with Mr. Sergeant Dark- 
well's advice, ordered about twenty pounds' worth of 
law-books, to begin with, and made arrangements to 
enter his name at Lincoln's Inn, which was the learned 
Sergeant's, and to follow in the steps of that, the most 
interesting of all the sages of the law, past or present. 

Vane Trevor looked in upon William very often. 
Gilroyd, William Maubray, even the servants, interested 
him ; for there it was, and thus surrounded, he had seen 
Miss Violet Darkwell. There, too, he might talk of her; 
and William, too, with a bitter sort of interest, would 
listen, an angry contempt of Vane rising at his heart ; 
yet he did not quite hate him, though he would often 
have been glad to break his head. 

Trevor, too, had his grounds for vexation. 

" I thought she'd have gone to church last Sunday,' 1 ' 
he observed to Maubray, and I must allow that he had 
made the same statement in various forms of language 
no less than five times in the course of their conversa- 
tion. " I think she might ; don't you ? I can't see why 
she should not ; can you ? The relationship between her 
and poor Miss Perfect was a very roundabout affair ; 
wasn't it ? " 

" Yes, so it was ; but it isn't that I told you before it 
couldn't be that ; it's just that she was so fond of her ; 
and really, here, I don't see any great temptation to come 
out; do you?" 

" No perhaps no, of course, there may not ; but I 
don't see any great temptation to shut one's self up 
either. I called at the Rectory yesterday, and did not 
see her. I have not seen her since poor Miss Perfect's 
death, in fact." 

"So did I ; I've called very often," answered William; 
x as often as you, I dare say, and I have not seen her ; 



Furtfw Particulars. 303 

and that's odder, don't you think ? and I gather from it, 
I suppose, pretty much what you do." 

" Very likely ; what is it ? " said Vane. 

" I mean that she doesn't expect much comfort or 
pleasure from our society." 

William had a fierce and ill-natured pleasure in placing 
his friend Trevor in the same boat with himself, and then 
scuttling it. 

Vane remarked that the rain was awfully tiresome, 
ind then looking from the window, whistled an air from 
" I Puritani " abstractedly, and he said suddenly 

" There's a lot of affectation, I think, about grief 
particularly among women they like making a fuss 
about it." 

"To be sure they do," replied William ; " when any- 
one dies they make such a row and lock themselves up 
and all but take the veil; but, by Jove, they don't 
waste much compassion on the living. There are you, 
for instance, talking and thinking all day, and night- 
mared all night about her, and for anything you know 
she never troubles her head about you. It's awfully 
ridiculous, the whole thing." 

" I thought you said she was very fond of your poor 
aunt ? " said Vane, a little nettled. 

" So I did so she was I was speaking of us you 
and me you know. I'm an old friend the earliest she 
has almost and you a lover no one's listening you 
need not be afraid and you see how much she distin- 
guishes us by Jove, she likes old Wagget better ! " and 
William laughed with dismal disgust, and proposed a 
walk to which Vane, with a rueful impression that he 
wss a particularly disagreeable fellow, acceded. 




CHAPTER LVIIL 

REVINGTON FLOWERS, 

|HAT very afternoon William did see Violet 
Darkwell; and he fancied he never saw her 
look so pretty as in her black silk dress. 
There was no crying no scene she met him gravely 
and sadly in the old-fashioned drawing-room of the 
Rectory, and was frankly glad to see him, and her way- 
ward spirit seemed quite laid. His heart smote him for 
having acquiesced in Trevor's fancy that there could be 
affectation in her grief. 

Good Miss Wagget being in a fuss with the school- 
mistress of the Saxton Ragged School (why will benevo- 
lent people go on leavening the bread of knowledge 
which they offer with the bitterness of that insulting 
epithet?) counting out copy-books, and primers, and 
slate-pencils, and rustling to and fro from the press to the 
hall-table, where they were getting those treasures into 
order was little in the way of their conversation, except 
for an interjectional word now and then, or a smile or a 
nod, as she bustled in and out of the room, talking still to 
the matron in the hall. 

Violet had a great deal to ask about old Winnie 
Pobbs, and the servants, and even little Psyche, and the 



Revington Flowers. 305 

bird, which latter inmate William did not somehow love, 
and regarded him in the light of an intruder who had 
established himself under false pretences, and was there 
with a design. 

" I think papa means to take me with him to London," 
said Violet, in reply to William's question. " Mr. and 
Mrs. Wagget they are so kind I think they would 
make me stay here a long time, if he would let me ; but 
he says he will have a day in about three weeks, and will 
run down and see us, and I think he intends taking me 
away." 

" What can the meaning of that be ? " thought William. 
" More likely he comes to see Trevor, and bring matters 
to a decisive issue of some sort," and his heart sank at 
the thought ; but why should William suffer these foolish 
agitations had he not bid her farewell in his silent soul 
long ago? 

What of this business of Trevor of Revington ! Was 
it not the same to him in a day, or three weeks, or a 
year, since be 't must! And thus stoically armed, he 
looked up and saw Violet Darkwell's large eyes and oval 
face, and felt the pang again. 

" In three weeks ? Oh ! I'm sorry, if he's to take you 
away but I was thinking of going up to town to see 
him about the bar he has been so kind and there 
are two or three things I want advice about I'm going 
to the bar, you know." 

" Papa seems always doubtful whether it is a good 
profession," said Miss Violet, wisely, "though he 
has succeeded very well; but it's sad, don't you 
think, being so shut away from one's friends as 
he is?" 

" Well, for him I'm sure it is in his case, I mean. I 
miss him I know, and so do you, I'm sure^, But my case 



306 All in the Dark. 

would be very different. I've hardly a friend on earth to 
be cut off from. There's he, and Doctor Sprague, and 
Doctor Wagget here, and there's poor Winnie, and Tom 
I can count them up you see, on the fingers of one 
hand and I really don't think I've another friend on 
earth ; and some of these I could see still, and none I 
think would miss me, very much and the best friends I 
believe, as Doctor Wagget says, are books, they never 
die, or what's worse change ; they are always the same, 
and won't go away, and they speak to you as they used 
to do, and always show you the same faces as long as 
you have sight to look at them." 

" How sensible and amiable of Doctor Wagget to like 
his Johnson's Dictionary so much better than his sister," 
exclaimed Miss Vi, with a momentary flash of her old 
mood. " There's certainly one thing about books, as you 
say, they NEVER ' b r '*w disagreeable ; and if there " she 
was growing to be sarcastic, but she reined in her fancy, 
and said sadly, instead, " About books I know very little 
nothing; and about friends you and I have lost the 
best friend we'll ever know." 

And as she spoke "tears glimmered under her lashes, 
and she looked out of the window over the wooded slope 
towards Gilroyd, and after a little pause said in a gentle 
cheerful voice, with perhaps a little effort 

" How pretty it all looks to-day, the slanting sun poor 
grannie used to like it so and it is the sweetest light in 
the world, look ! " 

And William did look on the familiar landscape, 
faintly gilded in that aerial light, and looking still he 
said 

" You ought to come over some day with Miss Wagget, 
to see old Winnie." 

' I should like very much in a little time, but not 



Revington Flowers. 307 

now; it would be very sad. I was looking at it from 
a. distance, yesterday, from where you see the ash tree 
there ; you know that view ; Gilroyd looks so pretty 
from it ; but I could not go in yet. I feel as if I nevei 
could go into the house again." 

" And about friends," she resumed, " I sometimes 
fbink one has more than one suspects. Of course you 
fike them differently in degree and differently even in the 
the kind of liking. I reckon little Psyche among my 
friends." 

" And the bird ? " said William, 

" Yes, the bullfinch," said Miss Vi, firmly ; and at this 
moment Miss Wagget entered the room with a great 
bouquet in her hand, and exclaimed 

" Isn't this perfectly beautiful ; it's positively wonderful 
for this time of year ; look at it, my dear, all from the 
conservatory. It's a very nice taste. I wonder how he 
keeps it so beautifully, and very kind, I'm sure, to think 
of us ; these are Revington flowers, Mr. Maubray. It is 
very kind of Mr. Trevor ; you'll arrange them, won't you, 
dear?" 

This was addressed to the young lady, and at the same 
time she held the bouquet towards William, to gaze on, 
and he stooped over and smelled at the flowers which 
were really odourless, in some confusion, and then 
turned his eyes on Violet, who blushed first a little, 
and then in a brilliant glow all over her face, and 
William looked down and smelled at the flowers again, 
and then he recollected it was time for him to go ; so he 
bid Miss Wagget good-bye, and took his leave of Violet, 
whose large eyes, he thought, looked vexed, and on 
whose cheeks the fading scarlet still hovered ; had he 
ever beheld her so handsome before, or with a sadder 
gaze? and he took her hand extended to him rather 



308 



All in the Dark. 



coldly, he fancied, and with a pale smile left the room, 
feeling as if he had just heard his sentence read. So he 
stood on the steps for a moment, bewildered, and 
answered good Doctor Wagget's cheery salutation and 
pleasantry that issued from the study window, rather 
confusedly. 





CHAPTER LIX 

VANE TREVOR SEES MISS VIOLET-, 

|EXT morning William was surprised by a visit 
from Vane Trevor. 

"Just dropped in to see how you are, old 
fellow, this morning." 

"Very good of you," rejoined William with ironical 
gravity. 

" Well, but are you well is there anything wrong ? " 
inquired Vane, who was struck by his friend's savage and 
distracted looks. 

" Nothing I'm quite well ; what could go wrong with 
a fellow so magnificently provided for? The Lord of 
Gilroyd, with such lots of small talk, and fine friends, and 
lavender gloves, and clothes cut so exquisitely in the 
fashion," and William laughed rather horribly. 

" Well, I admit you might get better traps, and if you 
like decent clothes why the devil don't you ? " 

Trevor could perceive that the whole of William's 
ironical sally was inspired by envy of him, and was 
gratified accordingly ; and thought within himself, " Your 
shy, gawky, ill-dressed men always hate a jolly fellow 
with a good coat to his back just because the women 
know the difference, and I wonder where poor Maubray 



310 AH in the Dark. 

has been trying his arts and fascinations ; he has been 
awfully shut up, that's clear," so thought Vane Trevo^ as 
he added aloud 

"If you're going to London, as you say, I'll give you a 
note with pleasure to my man, if you like the sort of 
things he makes," said Trevor ; " but I give you notice he 
won't do his best unless you seem to take an interest, you 
know." 

" Thanks no," laughed William, a little fiercely, " the 
Bailor might do his office, but I should still want too 
many essentials. Where would be the good of that sort 
of thing without the rest, and I never could go the whole 
animal the whole brute, and if I could I would not 
You may smile " 

" I am not smiling." 

" But I swear to you I wouldn't." 

" Oh, you're very well," said Trevor, encouragingly. 
" Quiet man. What good could that sort of thing do you 
at the bar, for instance ? And when you're Lord Chan- 
cellor with your peerage and your fortune up in London, 
I shall be still plain Trevor of Revington down here. 
vegetating, by Jove ! " 

" I'll never be that, but I may do some good a little 
perhaps. Enough to interest me in life, and that's all 
I want," said William, who was fiercely resolved on 
celibacy. 

" I am going over to see the people at the Rectory 
jolly old fellow old Wagget is ; and I thought I'd just 
look in on you. You're not for a walk, are you ? *' 

"JVo, thanks," said William very shortly, and ad led. 
" I'm sorry I can't, but I've letters this morning, an/* 
must be ready for the post." 

"Well, good-bye then," said Trevor, and shook nands 
I'Ike a man going a long journey ; and William glanced 



Vane Trevor Sees Miss Violet. 311 

in his eyes, and saw what he was about, and thought, 
* He'll be sure to see her this morning." 

So William took leave of him, and stood for a while in 
a troubled brown study on the steps, with a great weight 
at his heart, and after a while recollecting himself he 
said, " Pish ! Pshaw ! " and lifting his head defiantly, he 
strode into the parlour, and sat himself down grimly to 
write, but could not get on ; and took a walk instead in 
the direction of the London railway, with his back to the 
Rectory and to Revington. 

Our friend Vane Trevor had made up his mind to see 
Miss Darkwell this day, and speak, and in fact arrange 
everything ; and as usual the crisis being upon him his 
confidence in himself and his surroundings began to 
wane and he experienced the qualms of doubt, and the 
shiver of suspense. So, as there was usually between the 
prison and the gallows-tree a point at which the gentle- 
man on the hurdle drew up and partook of a glass of 
something comfortable, Mr. Vane Trevor halted on his 
way at Gilroyd and had his word or two, and shake of the 
hand with William Maubray, and went on. 

On he went looking much as usual, except for a little 
paiior, but feeling strange sensations at his heart, and 
now and then rehearsing his speech, and more and more 
agitated inwardly as he drew near the door of the 
Rectory. 

It WAS early, but Miss Wagget and Miss Darkwell were 
at home, and Vane Trevor, wondering whether an op- 
portunity would occur, crossed the hall and was an- 
nouixced. 

Miss Darkwell was sitting near a window copying 
music and he went over and shook hands, and felt very 
oddiv \ and after a word or two, she looked down again 
and resumed her work. Old Miss Wagget led the con- 



312 Allin the Dark. 

versation, and begun with a speech on her flowery and 
was eloquent in admiration and acknowledgment^ . * T ow, 
poor Miss Perfect had told Miss Wagget the who 12 stoiy 
of the Revington courtship, and the rector's sister had 
quite taken Aunt Dinah's view of the case, and agreed 
that it was better the subject should be opened by the 
suitor himself; and, willing to make the opportunity 
desired at once, and dreaded, she recollected, on a sud- 
den, that she had a word to say to her brother before he 
went out, and, with apologies, left the room and shut the 
door. 

Miss Violet raised her eyes and looked after her a little 
anxiously, as if she would have liked to stop her. I 
think the young lady guessed pretty well what was in 
Vane Trevor's mind ; but there was no averting the scene 
now, and she went on writing in a bar of crotchets in the 
treble, but placed the minim wrong in the bass. 

There was a silence, during which the little French 
clock over the chimneypiece ticked very loud, and Miss 
Wagget's lapdog yawned and chose a new place on the 
hearthrug, and the young lady was looking more closely 
at her music, and, though with a little blush, very gravely 
industrious. Trevor looked through the window, and 
down at the dog, and round the room, and up at the clock, 
but for the life of him he could not think of anything to 
say. The silence was growing insupportable, and at last 
he stood up smiling the best he could, and drew near 
the window A Here Violet was sitting, and tapped his chin 
with his cane, and said : 

" Music a ha ! copying music ! I I a I used 
*j copy music pretty well ; they said I did it uncommonly 
well ; but I used to make those pops round like the cop- 
perplate, you know ; you make them oval. They have a 
oookful of my copying at Kincton. They said Clara 



Vane Trwcr Sees Miss Violet. 313 

did they could read it just like print and and 1 wish 
von could give me some employment that way I really 
wish you would, I'm afraid you find it awfully slow 
don't you ? " 

" No thanks ; no, indeed I'm very much obliged 
though, but I rather like it ; I don't think it tiresome 
work at all." 

" I I should so like and I was so glad to hear from 
Miss Wagget that you thought the flowers pretty yester- 
day, I mean. These are beginning to look a little seedy 
aren't they ? I'll send over more to-day I only wish, 
Miss Darkwell, I knew your pet flowers, that I might 
send a lot of them I I assure you I do." 

Miss Darkwell here looked closer at her work, and 
drew two parallel lines connecting the stems of her semi- 
quavers very nicely. 




CHAPTER LX. 




THE MOMENTOUS QUESTION. 

I REALLY would be so very much obliged 
if you would," resumed Trevor. "Do 
now, pray tell me anyone you like par- 
ticularly ! " 

" I like all flowers so well," said Miss Violet, compelled 
to speak, " that I could hardly choose a favourite at 
least, without thinking a great deal ; and I should feel 
then as if I had slighted the rest." 

"And awfully jealous I'm sure they'd be /should T 
know I should, indeed I should, indeed. If I if you 
if I were a flower I mean, the the ugliest flower in 
the garden, by Jove, and that you preferred a a any- 
thing I I think I'd almost wither away I I swear to 
you I do I'd tear my leaves out I would, indeed and 
and I'm in earnest, I assure you I am indeed, Miss 
Darkwell I'm I'm awfully in love with you I'm I'si 
I've been waiting this long time to tell you. I wrote to 
your father for leave to speak to you and poor Mirs 
Perfect also I she was very kind ; and I've come to 
to say that that I hope you can like me enough 
that if a life of the greatest devotion to your happiness 
and and the greatest devotion to your happiness," he 
was trying here a bit of the speech he had prepared, b-it 
it would rot come back, and so he shook himself free of 



The Momentous Question. 315 

it, and went on : " I'll I'll try always to make you 
happy I will, indeed and you shall do just as you 
please and there's no one I don't care what her birth 
or rank, I should be prouder to see in the the as as 
mistress of Revington than you; and I I hope I I 
hope very much you can like me enough to give me some 
encouragement to to hope." 

And Miss Darkwell answered very low : 

" I I'm so sorry, Mr. Trevor I'm very sorry ; but 
I couldn't I can't, indeed, say anything but but just 
how sorry I am, and how much obliged for your liking 
me and it could not be." And Miss Violet Darkwell, 
with a very beautiful and bright colour, and eyes that 
looked darker than ever, stood up to go. 

" I pray don't I I'm sure you misunderstood me 
I ihink I could I do pray just a minute," said Vane 
Tievor, awfully confounded. 

Miss Darkwell waited where she stood, looking down 
upon the carpet. 

*' I I don't want you to answer me now ; I I'd 
rather you didn't. I I you'll not answer me for a 
week. I I'd rather you thought it over just a little 
fray" 

" It would make no difference, I assure you, Mr. 
Trevor. It would merely prolong what is very painful to 
me. It is very kind of you to think so well of me, and 
I'm very much obliged; but I think I'll go." And she 
extended her hand to take leave, and was on the point of 
going. 

" But really, Miss Darkwell," said Mr. Trevor, who 
began to feel a little insulted, and to remember the 
Trevois, the Vanes, and the historic fame of Revington, 
* I I don't quite see I think I I I do think I have 
1 right to to some explanation." 



316 All in the Dark. 

if There's nothing to explain ; I've said everything,* 
said Miss Vi very quietly. 

" That's very easy, of course, to say ; but I 1 don't 

think it's using a fellow quite " 

" Did I ever lead you to think I thought otherwise ? " 
exclaimed Miss Violet with a grave but fearless glance. 

There was a pause. Trevor was angry, and looked it. 
At last he said 

" I did not say that but but I know I know Fro 
not a mere nobody here. The Trevors of Revington are 
pretty well known, and they have always married in in a 
certain rank ; and I think when I've spoken to you as I 
have done, I might have expected something more than 
a simple no, and and I think, if you did not appear to 
like me at all events there was nothing to mak. me 
think you didrit, and that's why I say I think I've a right 
to ask for an explanation ? " 

" You can have no right to make me say one word 
more than I please. I've said all I mean to say more 
than I need have said and I won't say more," said Miss 
Violet Darkwell, with eyes that glowed indignantly, for 
there was an implied contrast in the lordly marriages of 
the Trevors with his own tender of his hand to the young 
lady which fired her pride. 

Before he recovered she had reached the door, and 
with her fingers upon the handle she paused, and returned 
just a step or two, and said, extending her hand 

" And I think we might part a little more kindly, for 
you have no cause to blame me, and when you think a 
little you'll say so yourself. Good-bye." 

Trevor did not well know how he shook hands with 
her. But she was gone. It was all over. 

Grief rage disappointment something like insult 
He could not say that he had been insulted. But Rev- 



The Momentous Question. 317 

ington was. The Trevors were. What a resource in 
such states of mind denied to us men are tears. Good 
furious weeping the thunder and the rain and then the 
air refreshed and the sky serene. 

Mr. Vane Trevor felt as if he had been drinking too 
much brandy and water, and had been beaten heavily 
about the head ; he was confounded and heated, and half 
blind. He walked very fast, and did not think where he 
was going until he stopped close to the gate of Gilroyd. 

He went in, and rang the bell at the hall-door, which 
stood open. William came into the hall. 

" Come in, Trevor," said he. He had taken his walk 
of a couple of miles, and was more serene. 

" No. Come out and have a walk with me, will you ? * 
answered Vane. 

"Where? "asked William. 

Anywhere. Wherever you like here among the 
tr.es." 

" I don't care if I do," said William, who saw that in 
Trevor's countenance which excited his curiosity; and 
out he came with his wideawake on, and Trevor walked 
beside him, looking very luridly on the ground, and 
marching very fast. William walked beside him, quietly 
waiting till the oracle should speak. 

At last, wheeling round by the trunk of a huge old 
chestnut, he came suddenly to a full stop, and confronted 
his companion. 

" Well, that's off my mind ; all over ; the best thing I 
dare say could happen to me, and I think she's a bit of a 

i think she has a temper of her own. I didn't like 
any more shilly-shally, you know, in that undecided way, 
and I thought I might as well tell you that it's all oft', and 
that I'm very pleased it is. She's very pretty, and all that ; 
but hang it, there are other things, and it never would 



318 Allin the Dark. 

have done. I have not much of a temper of my own, I 
believe " (Trevor was really a good-humoured fellow, but 
chose to charge himself with this little failing for the occa- 
sion), " and I could not get on with that kind of thing. 
It wouldn't have done it couldrit I thought I'd just 
come and tell you ; and I think I'll run up to town ; they 
want me to go to Kincton, but it's too slow ; and and 
Revington's such a wilderness. I wish some one would 
take it. I don't want to marry for ever so long. I don't 
know what put it in my head." 

Mr. Vane Trevor resumed his walk at a slower pace, 
and he whistled a low and contemplative air, looking 
down on the grass with his hands in his pocket, and tlveo 
he said again 

"I thought I'd just come down and tell you; and 
you're not to mention it, you know not to that feiiow 
Drake, or anyone, mind not that I much care, but it 
would not do to be talked about, and you won't I know, 
thanks, and the Waggets are honourable people, they 
won't talk either, I suppose ; and and I depend on you ; 
and and you know you and I are friends all the same." 

" Certainly no worse" said William, very truly, shaking 
his hand cordially. 

" And I'll be off to-day. I'll go to the opera, or some- 
thing to-night. I've been too long shut up; a fellow 
grows rusty, you know, in this tiresome corner. I wish 
some fool of a fellow would take a lease of it. Good-bye, 
old fellow ; you must come up to town and see me wnen 
I'm settled, mind." 

And so the} parted. 




CHAPTER LXI. 

A DOUBT TROUBLES MAUBRAY. 

COME now to some incidents, the relation of 
which partakes, I can't deny, of the marvellous. 
I can, however, vouch for the literal truth of 
the narrative ; so can William Maubray ; so can my ex- 
cellent friend Doctor Wagget; so also can my friend 
Doctor Drake, a shrewd and sceptical physician, all 
thoroughly cognizant of the facts. If, therefore, anything 
related in the course of the next two or three chapters 
should appear to you wholly incredible, I beg that you 
will not ascribe the prodigious character of the narrative 
to any moral laxities on the part of the writer. 

I believe William Maubray liked Vane Trevor very 
honestly, and that he was as capable of friendship as any 
man I have ever met with ; but this I will aver, that he 
had not been so cheerful since poor Aunt Dinah's death 
as for the remainder of the day on which he had heard 
the authentic report of his friend's overthrow. 

Down to the town of Saxton, that evening, walked Wil- 
liam, for in his comfortable moods he required human 
society, as he yearned for sympathy in his afflictions. He 
visited his hospitable friend, Doctor Drake, now in his 
pardonable elation on the occasion of his friend's down- 
fall, as he had done when writhing under the thunderbolts 
of poor Aunt Dinah. 



320 All in the Dark. 

In this case, however, he could not disclose what lay 
nearest to his heart. It would not have done to commit 
poor Trevor's little secret to Doctor Drake, nor yet to 
tell him how wildly in love he was, and how the events of 
this day had lighted up his hopes. In fact, Doctor Drake 
had long ceased to be the sort of doctor whom a gay fel- 
low suffering from one of Cupid's bow-shot wounds would 
have cared to consult, and William visited him on this 
occasion simply because he was elated, excited, and could 
not do without company of some sort. 

At about half-past nine o'clock Doctor Drake was called 
away to visit Mr. Thomas, the draper. 

" Gouty pain in the duodenum therms a man, now, 
wansh a kill himself. He is killing himself. Advice ! 
You might as well advise that ub bottle. You might, a 
bilious fellow lithic acid gouty 'sgouty a fellow, by 
Jove, Sir, as you'd like to see, and all I can do he wone 
rink his his little whatever it is, anyway but hot ho 4 . 
Sir, and with sugar sugar, and you know that's poison. 
simple p poison. You see me, any liT thing I take 
sometimes a liddle she'y, sometimes a liT ole Tom, or 
branle ; I take it cole, without quite innocent rather use- 
fle shlight impulse all the organs never affec' the heaa 
never touch the liver that's the way, Sir ; that's how 
you come to live long lots o' waw'r cole waw'r, and just 
sprinkle over, that's your sort, Sir, stick a' that, Sir j cole, 
cole waw'r lots o' waw'r, Sir ; never make too stiff, you 
know, an' you may go on all nigh 1 don' go, you know, I 
mayn be half 'n hour all nigh, Sir, an' no harm done no 
harm, Sir, rather usefie" 

By this time the doctor had got himself into his sur- 
tout, and selecting Mr. Thomas's gouty cordials, ether and 
other bottles from his drawer, he set forth on his sanitaiy 
expedition, and the symposium ended. 



A Doubt Troubles Maubray. 321 

So William walked musingly homeward. What a ten- 
der melancholy over everything ! What a heavenly night ! 
What a good, honest, clever fellow, Doctor Drake was ! 
By Jove, he had forgotten to ask for Miss Drake, who 
was no doubt in the drawing-room a jolly old creature 
was Miss Drake ! Should he go back and drink some of 
her tea? He halted and turned, not right about, but 
right face, and hesitated in the moonlight. No, it was 
too late he forgot how late it was. But he'd go down 
specially to drink tea with Miss Drake another even- 
ing. And so, he resumed that delicious walk home- 
wards. 

There was no use in denying it any longer to himself 
none he knew it he felt it he was in love with Violet 
J Xorkwell awfully in love ! And as every lover is an 
egotist, and is disposed on the whole to think pretty well 
of himself; the hypothesis did cross his fancy frequently 
that the downfall of his friend Trevor was somehow con- 
nected with the fortunes of William Maubray. Was there 
might there not be did he not remember signs and 
tokens, such as none but lovers' eyes can read or see, that 
seemed to indicate a preference; might there not be a 
preoccupation ? 

What a charm in the enigmatic conditions of a lover's 
happiness ! How beautiful the castles in the air in which 
his habitation is ! How she stands at the open portal, or 
leans from the casement in beautiful shadow, or golden 
lisjht divine ! How he reads his fate in air-drawn charac- 
ters, in faintest signs, remembered looks, light words, a 
tone ! How latent meanings hover in all she says, or 
sings, or looks, or does ; and how imagination is enthralled 
by the mystery, and he never tires of exploring, and guess- 
ing 2Jid wondering, and sighing. Those deep reserves 
and natural wiles of girls are given to interest us others, 



322 All m the Dark. 

with those sweet doubts and trembling hopes that consti- 
tute the suspense and excitement of romance. 

William Maubray sat himself down in a delightful me- 
lancholy, in his great chair by the drawing-room fire, and 
ordered tea, and told old Winnie that she must come and 
have a cup, and keep him company ; and so she did very 
gladly, and William made her talk a great deal about poor 
Aunt Dinah, and this retrospect went on with a stream of 
marginal anecdote about Miss Violet, to every syllable of 
which, though maundered over in honest Winnie's harum- 
scarum prose, he listened breathlessly, as to the far-off 
music of angels. And when all was told oat, led her back 
artfully, and heard the story bit by bit again, and listened 
to her topsy-turvy praises of Violet in a delightful dream, 
and would have kept her up all night narrating, but 
honest Homer nodded at last, and William was fain to let 
the muse take flight to her crib. 

Then, leaning back in his chair, he mused alone, re- 
volving sweet and bitter fancies, thinking how well Ser- 
geant Darkwell thought of him, how near Violet still was, 
what easy access to the Rectory, how sure he was of the 
old people's good word, how miserable he should be, 
what a failure his life without her. How she had refused 
Vane Trevor refused Revington. Was that a mere mo- 
tiveless freak ? Was there no special augury in his favour 
discernible in it? He had the Bar before him now 
could not Sergeant Darkwell bring him forward, put him 
in the way of business? He was not afraid of his work 
he liked it. Anything everything, for sake of her. 
Besides, he was no longer penniless. He could make 
a settlement now. Thanks to poor dear Aunt Dinah, 
Gilroyd was his. Aunt Dinah ! 

And here the thought of her odd threatenings and pro- 
hibition crossed his brain. Five years 1 Nonsense 1 



A Doubt Troubles Maubray. 3 23 

Madness ! That would never do. Five yeais before so 
young a man, looks like fifty. In a lover's chronicle it is 
an age. Quite impracticable. He would lay this case 
before Sergeant Darkwell and Doctor Wagget. He well 
knew how they, conscientious, good, clear-headed men, 
would treat it. But, alas ! it troubled him it vexed him. 
The menace A'as in his ear a shadow stood by him. 
There were memoranda in his desk, and poor Aunt 
Dinah's last letter. He would read them over. He had 
fancied very likely that she meant more and more 
seriously, than a reperusal would support. So eagerly he 
his desk, and got out these momentous papers. 





CHAPTER LXI1. 

THE FURNITURE BEGINS TO TALK. 

]E read Aunt Dinah's letters over again, *od 
marked the passage with his pencil, and read 
again, 

"Do remember, dear boy, all told you, dear, about 
the five years. I dreamed much since. If you think of 
such a thing I must do it." 

This last sentence he underlined, " If you think of such 
a thing, I must do it. Sorry I shoul" (she means 
should) "fear or dislike me. I should haunt, torment 
Willie. But you will do right." Do right. She meant 
wait for five years, of course. My po r darling aunt ! 
I wish you had never seen one of those odious books of 
American bosh Elihu Bung ! I wish Elihu Bung was 
sunk in a barrel at the bottom of the sea. 

Then William looked to his diary, for about that 
period of his life he kept one for two years and seven 
months, and he read these entries : 

" Dear Aunt Dinah pressed me very much to 

give her a distinct promise not to marry for five years 
marry indeed ! I poor, penniless William Maubray 
I shall never marry yet I can't make this vow and she 
threatened me saying, ' If I'm dead there's nothing that 
spirit can do, if you so much as harbour the thought, be 



The Furniture Begins to Talk. 325 

I good, or evil, or mocking, I'll not do to prevent it. I'll 
trouble you, I'll torment you, I'll pick your eyes out, but 
I won't suffer you to ruin yourself.' And she said very 
often that she expected to be a mocking spirit ; and said 
again, ' Mind I told you, though I be dead, you sha'n't 
escape me.' That night I had an odious nightmare. 
An apparition like my aunt came to my bedside, and 
caught my arm with its hand, and said quite distinctly, 
' Oh ! my God ! William, I am dead ; don't let me go.' 
I fancied I saw the impression of ringers on my arm ; and 
think I never was so horrified in my life. And afterwards 
in her own bed-room, my aunt having heard my dream, 
returned to the subject of her warning and said, 'If I 
die before the time, I'll watch you as an old gray 
cat watches a mouse, if you so much as think of it 
I'll plague you; I'll save you in spite of yourself, 
and mortal was never haunted and tormented as you 
will be, till you give it up/ And saying this she 
laughed. 

"The whole of this new fancy turns out to be one 
of the Henbane delusions. How I wish all those 
cursed books of spiritualism were with Don Quixote's 
library." 

William had now the facts pretty well before him. He 
had moreover a very distinct remembrance of that which 
no oiher person had imagined or seen the face of the 
apparition of Aunt Dinah, and the dark and pallid stare 
she had actually turned upon him, as he recounted the 
particulars of his vision. It had grown very late, and 
he was quite alone, communing in these odd notes, and 
with these strange remembrances with the dead. Per- 
haps all the strong tea he had drunk with old Winnie 
that night helped to make him nervous. One of his 
candles had burnt gut by this time, and as he raised his 



326 All in the Dark. 

eyes from these curious records, the room looked dark 
and indistinct, and the slim, black cabinet that stood 
against the wall at the further end of the room startled 
him, it looked so like a big muffled man. 

I dare say he began to wish that he had postponed 
his scrutiny of his papers until the morning. At all 
events he began to experience those sensations, which in 
morbid moods of this kind, dispose us to change of 
scene. What was it that made that confounded cabinet, 
and its shadow, again look so queer, as he raised his 
eyes and the candle ; just like a great fellow in a loose 
coat extending his arm to strike ? 

That was the cabinet which once, in a confidential 
mood, poor Aunt Dinah had described as the spiritual 
tympanum on which above all other sympathetic pieces 
of furniture in the house she placed her trust. Such a 
spirit-gauge was in no other room of Gilroyd. It 
thrummed so oracularly ; it cracked with such a signifi- 
cant emphasis. 

" Oh ! I see ; nothing but the shadow, as 1 move 
the candle. Yes, only that and nothing more. I wish it 
was out of that, it is such an ugly black beast of a 
box." 

Now William put poor Aunt Dinah's letter carefully 
back in its place, as also his diary, and locked his desk ; 
and just then the cabinet uttered one of those cracks 
which poor Aunt Dinah so much respected. In the 
supernatural silence it actually made him bounce. It 
was the first time in his life he had ever fancied such 
things could have a meaning. 

" The fire's gone out ; the room is cooling, and the 
wood of that ridiculous cabinet is contracting. What 
can it do but crack ? I think I'm growing as mad as 
he was on the point of saying as poor Aunt Dinah, but 



The Fumitiwe Begins to Talk. 327 

something restrained him, and he respectfully substituted 
as a March hare." 

Here the cabinet uttered a fainter crack, which seemed 
to say, " I hear you ; " and William paused, expecting 
almost to see something sitting on the top of it, or 
emerging through its doors, and he exclaimed, " Such 
disgusting nonsense ! " and he looked round the room, 
and over his shoulder, as he placed his keys in his 
pocket. 

His strong tea, and his solitude, and the chan- 
nel into which he had turned his thoughts; the utter 
silence, the recent death, and the lateness of the hour, 
made the disgusted philosopher rise to take the candle 
which had not a great deal of life left in it, and shutting 
the door on the cabinet, whose loquacity he detested, 
he got to his bed-room in a suspicious and vigilant state ; 
and he was glad wl.r\: he got into his room. William 
locked his door on the inside. He lighted his candles, 
poked his fire, violen^y wrested his thoughts from 
uncomfortable themes, sat hi.n:s?If down by the fire and 
thought of Violet Darkwell. " Oh that I dare think it 
was for my sake she refused Vane Trevor ! " and so 
on, building many airy castles, and declaiming eloquently 
over his work. The old wardrobe in the room made 
two or three warning starts and cracks, but its ejacula- 
tions were disrespectfully received. 

" Fire away, old fool, much I mind you ! A gentle- 
manlike cabinet may be permitted, but a vulgar cup- 
board, impudence." 

So William got to his bed, and fell asleep : in no 
mood I think to submit to a five years' wait, if a 
chance of acceptance opened ; and in the morning he 
was astonished. 

Again, my reader's incredulity compels me to aver 



32* 



All in the Dark. 



in the most solemn n.inner that the particulars I now 
relate of Vv 7 illiam Maubray's history are strictly true. He 
is living to depose to all. My excellent friend Doctor 
Frake can certify to others, and as I said, the rector of 
tJ e parish, to some of the oddest. Upon ihis evidence, 
set doubting, I found my narrative. 











CHAPTER LXII1. 

WILLIAM MAUBRAY IS TORMENTED. 

the little table at his bedside, where his candle 
stood, to his surprise, on awakening, he saw 
one of the boots which he had put off in the 
passage on the previous night. There it was, no possible 
mistake about it; and what was more it was placed like 
one of his ornamental bronze weights; one of those 
indeed was fashioned like a buskin upon some papers. 

What were these papers? With growing amazement 
he saw that they were precisely those which he had been 
reading the night before, and had carefully locked up in 
his desk poor Aunt Dinah's warning letter and his own 
notes of her threatening words ! 

It was little past seven now ; he had left his shutters 
open as usual. Had he really locked his door? No 
doubt upon that point. The key was inside, and the 
door locked. The keys of his desk, what of them ? 
There they were precisely where he had left them, 
on the chimney piece. This certainly was very odd. 
Who was there in the house to play him such a trick ? 
No one could have opened his door ; his key stuck in 
the lock on the inside ; and how else could anyone have 
entered ? Who was there to conceive such a plot ? 
and by what ingenuity could any merry devil play it off? 



330 All in the Dark. 

And who could know what was passing in his mind ? 
Here was a symbol such as he could not fail to interpret , 
The heel of his boot on the warnings and entreaties of 
his poor dead aunt ! could anything be more express- 
ive? 

William began to feel very oddly. He got on his 
clothes quickly, and went down to the drawing-room. 
His desk was just ? h*. had placed it ; he unlocked it ; 
his papers were not disturbed ; nothing apparently had 
been moved but the letter and his diary. 

William sat down utterly puzzled, and looked at the 
black japanned cabinet, with its straggling bass-reliefs of 
golden Chinamen, pagodas, and dragons glimmering in 
the cold morning light, with more real suspicion than he 
had ever eyed it before. 

Old Winnie thought that day that Mr. William was 
unusually " dull." The fact is. that he was beginning to 
acquire, not a hatred, but a fear of Gilroyd, and to re- 
volve in his mind thoughts of selling the old house and 
place, or letting it, and getting out of reach of its am- 
biguous influences. He was constantly thinking over 
these things, puzzling his brain over an inscrutable pro- 
blem, still brooding over the strange words of Aunt 
Dinah, " A mocking spirit ; I'll trouble ; I'll torment 
you. You shan't escape me. Though I be dead, I'll 
watch you as an old gray cat watches a mouse. If you 
so much as think of it, I'll plague you ! " and so forth. 

William walked over to the Rectory. He asked first 
for Miss Wagget she was out ; then for the rector so 
was he. 

"Are you quite sure the ladies are out both!" he 
inquired, lingering. 

" Yes, Sir. Miss Darkwell drove down with the mis- 
tress to the church, about the new cushions, I think." 



William Maubray is Tormented. 331 

"Oh! then I'll call another time;" and William's 
countenance brightened as he looked down on the 
pretty spire, and away he went on the wings of hope. 

The church door was open, and sexton and clerk were 
there, and William, looking round the empty pews and 
up to the galleries, inquired for Miss Wagget. He was 
not lucky. The sexton mistook the inquiry for Mr. 
Wagget, and directed William to the vestry-room, at 
whose door he knocked with a beating heart, and enter- 
ing, found the rector examining the register for the 
year '48. 

" Ha! found me out? Tracked to my lair," said he, 
saluting William with a wave of his hand, and a kindly 
smiling. " Not a word, though, till this is done just a 
minute or two. Sit down." 

" I'll wait in the church, Sir," said William, and slip- 
ped out to renew his search. But his news was disap- 
pointing. The ladies had driven away, neither clerk nor 
sexton could tell whither, except that it was through 
High Street ; and William mounted the elevated ground 
about the yew tree, and gazed along the High Street, 
but all in vain, and along the upward road to Treworth, 
but equally without result : and the voice of the rector, 
who thought he was admiring the landscape, recalled him. 

Mr. Wagget was not only an honourable and a religious 
man he was kindly and gay; he enjoyed everything 
his trees and his flowers, his dinner, his friends, even his 
business, but, above all things, his books ; and herein 
was a powerful sympathy with the younger student, who 
was won besides to confidence by the genial spirits of 
the good man. 

The loneliness of Gilroyd, too insupportable, had it 
not been for the vicinity of Violet made his company 
very welcome. So, falling into discourse, it naturally be- 



332 All in the Dark. 

fell that William came to talk of that which lay nearest 
his heart at that moment his unaccountable adventure of 
the night before. 

" Very curious, and, as it seems to me, quite inexplic- 
able," said Doctor Wagget, very much interested. " The 
best authenticated thing I've heard much the best of 
the kind. You must tell it all over again. It's the best 
and most satisfactory case I know." 

Thus oddly encouraged, William again recounted his 
strange story, and unfolded something of the horror with 
which his doubts were fraught. 

" You said nothing ? " asked the parson. 

' Nothing." 

" Ha ! It is the very best case I ever heard of or read. 
Everyone knows, in fact, there have been such things. 
believe in apparitions. I don't put them in my sermons, 
though, because so many people don't, and it weakens 
one's influence to run unnecessarily into disputed subjects, 
and it is time enough to talk of such things when people 
are visited, as you have been. You must not be frightened, 
though ; you've no need. If these things be* they form 
part of the great scheme of nature, and any evil that may 
befall you in consequence is as much a subject for legiti- 
mate prayer as sickness or any other affliction indeed, 
more obviously so, because we are furnished with no other 
imaginable means than prayer alone, and a life conform- 
able to God's will to resist them. Poor little thing ! She 
talked very flightily. I had a great deal of conversation, 
and latterly she listened, and I had hoped with some 
effect. Especially I urged her to clear her mind of all 
idea of spiritual action, except such as is presented for our 
comfort and warning in the Holy Scriptures. But here, 
you see, she, poor little thing, is restless, and you troubled. 
It's the oddest case I ever heard of." 



William Maubray is Tormented. 333 

" Pray don't mention what I've told you, Sir, to any- 
one." 

" Certainly not, for the world not a human being, not 
even my sister. By-the-bye, couldn't you come over and 
dine with us, and sleep? you must sleep to-night by way 
of experiment." 

So William promised, well pleased, and went ; but, 
alas ! this was a day of disappointments. Violet had 
gone again to make a short stay at the Mainwarings. 

"What can the Mainwarings want of her? She's 
always going there ; what is there about them so charm- 
ing?" demanded William of himself; and an outline of 
the military son of the family, Captain Mainwaring, 
possibly on leave and at home, disturbed him. 

Now, to the further wonderment, and even delight of 
Doctor Wagget, a very curious result followed from the 
"experiment" of William's one night sojourn at the 
Rectory. At his host's request, he had locked his bed- 
room door, just as he had done at Gilroyd, and in the 
morning he found his stick, which he had left in the hall, 
tied fast in the loops in which in the daytime the curtains 
were gathered. There it hung across the bed over his 
head, an image, as it seemed to him, of suspended casti- 
gation. 

The doctor was early at William's door, and found his 
guest's toilet half completed. In real panic, Maubray 
pointed out the evidence of this last freak. 

" What an absurd ghost ! " thought Mr. Wagget, in a 
pleasing terror, as he examined and pondered over the 
arrangement. 

" It only shows that change of place won't do," said 
the rector. " Consider this, however," he resumed, after 
an interval consumed in search of consolation, " these 
manifestations, and very characteristic they are, if we ai- 



334 All in the Dark. 

sume they come from my poor friend, are made in further- 
ance of what she conceives your interests, in the spirit of 
that love which she manifested for you all her life, and 
you may be well assured they will never be pushed to 
such a point as to hurt you." 

William got on the bed, and untied his stick, which on 
his way home he broke to pieces, as a thing bewitched, 
in a nervous paroxysm, and flung into the little brook that 
runs by Revington. 

At breakfast, Miss Wagget asked of her brother, 

" Did you hear the noise at the hat-stand in the hall 
last night ? Your hat was knocked down, and rolled all 
across the hall." (The parson and William glanced at 
one another here.) " It was certainly that horrid gray 
cat that comes in at the lobby window." 

At mention of the gray cat the remembrance of poor 
Aunt Dinah's simile struck William. 

" By Jove ! my stick was at the hat-stand," exclaimed 
he. 

" Your stick ? but this was a hat," replied Miss Wagget, 
who did not see why he should be so floored by the re- 
collection of his stick. 

" Ha ! your stick ? so it was was it ? " exclaimed Doctor 
Wagget, with a sudden awe, equally puzzling. 

And staring at her brother, and then again at William, 
Miss Wagget suffered the water from the tea-urn to over- 
flow her cup and her saucer in succession. 




CHAPTER LXIV. 

AN AMBUSCADE. 

JILROYD was awfully slow, and even the town 
of Saxton dull. Cricket was quite over. There 
was no football there. William Maubray used 
to play at the ancient game of quoits with Arthur Jones, 
Esq., the Saxton attorney, who was a little huffy when he 
lost, and very positive on points of play ; but on the 
whole a good fellow. Sometimes in the smoking-room, 
under the reading-room, he and Doctor Draks played 
clattering games of backgammon, with sixpenny stakes, 
and called their throws loudly, and crowed ungenerously 
when they won. 

But these gaieties and dissipations failed to restore 
William altogether to his pristine serenity. Althxjugh 
he had been now for four nights quite unmolested, 
he could not trust Gilroyd. It was a haunted house, 
and he the sport of a spirit. The place was be- 
witched, but so, unhappily, was the man. His visit to 
the Rectory proved that change of place could not de- 
liver him. He was watched, and made to feel that hi? 
liberty was gone. 

Violet Darkwell was not to return to the Rectory for 2 
week or more, and William called on Doctor Wagget, 
looking ill, and unquestionably in miserable suirits. To 



336 All in the Dark. 

the rector he had confessed something .vaguely of his 
being in love, and cherishing hopes contrary to the terms 
which poor Aunt Dinah had sought to impose upon 
him. 

A few nights later, emboldened by his long respite, he 
had written some stanzas, addressed to the young lady's 
carte de visite, expressive of his hopes, and in the morning 
he had found his desk in his bed-room, though he had 
left it in the drawing-room, and his bed-room door was as 
usual locked. His desk was not open, nor was there any 
sign of the papers having been disturbed, but the verses 
he had that night written had been taken out and torn 
into small pieces, which were strewn on top of the 
desk. 

Since then he had not had a single quiet night, 
and the last night was the oddest, and in this respect 
the most unpleasant, that they had set the servants 
talking. 

" Tom, he's a very steady old fellow, you know," re- 
lated William, " waked me up last night at about two 
o'clock. I called through the door not knowing but that 
it might be something." 

" I know" said the rector, with a mysterious nod. 

"Yes, Sir; and he told me he had been awake and 
heard a loud knocking in the drawing-room, like the 
hammering of a nail, as indeed it proved to be ; and he 
ran up to the drawing-room, and saw nothing unusual 
there, and then to the lobby, and there he saw a tall 
figure in a white dress run up the stairs, with a tread that 
sounded like bare feet, and as it reached the top it threw 
a hammer backward which hopped down the steps to his 
fee*. It W3>s the kitchen hammer, unhung from the nail 
tnere which we found had been pulled out of the wall 
Without waiting to get my clothes on, down I went with 



An Ambuscade. 337 

him, but our search showed nothing but one very curious 
discovery." 

" Ha ! Go on, Sir." 

"I must tell you, Sir, there was a print, a German 
coloured thing. I had forgotten it it was in my poor 
aunt's portfolio in a drawer there, of a great tabby cat 
pretending to doze, and in reality slyly watching a mouse 
that half emerges from its hole, approaching a bit of 
biscuit, and this we found nailed to the middle of the 
door." 

"The inside?" 

" Yes." 

" You did not see anything of the apparition yourself?" 
asked Doctor Wagget. 

" No, I was asleep. I've seen nothing whatever 
but such things as I've described; and the fact is I'm 
worried to death, and I don't in the least know what 
to do." 

" I'll tell you what," said the clergyman, after a pause. 
" I'll go down and spend the night at Gilroyd, if you 
allow me, and we'll get Doctor Drake to come also, 
if you approve, and we'll watch, Sir we'll spy it out 
we'll get at the heart of the mystery. Drake's afraid 
of nothing, no more am I and what do you say, may 
we go?" 

So the bargain was concluded, and at nine o'clock that 
evening the parson and Doctor Drake in friendly chat 
together walked up to the door of Gilroyd, and were wel- 
comed by William, who led these learned witch-finders 
into his study, which commanded easy access to both 
drawing room and parlour, and to the back and the great 
staircase. 

The study looked bright and pleasant a cheery fire 
flashed on the silver teapot and cream-ewer, and old 



33$ All in the Dark. 

China tea things, and glimmered warmly over the faded 
gilded backs of the books. This and the candles lighted 
up the room so brightly that it needed an effort not- 
withstanding the dark wainscot to admit a thought of a 
ghost. 

I don't know whether the parson had really any faith 
in ghosts or not. He thought he had, and cultivated in 
private a taste for that curious luxury, though he was re- 
served on the subject among his parishioners. I don't 
think, however, if his nerves had been as much engaged 
as they might, he could have turned over the old tomes 
of the late Dean of Crutched Friars with so much interest 
as he did, or commented so energetically upon the authors 
and editions. 

Doctor Drake was utterly sceptical, and being " threat- 
ened with one of his ugly colds," preferred brandy and 
water to tea a little stimulus seasonably applied, often 
routing the enemy before he had time to make an im- 
pression. So, very snugly they sat round their table. 
The conversation was chiefly between the rector and 
the doctor, William being plainly out of spirits and a 
good deal in the clouds. The Churchman sipped his tea, 
and the physician his strong drink, and there was adjusted 
a plan for the operations of the night. 

" Now, Mr. Maubray, you must do as we order ; when 
we bid you, you go to bed do you see ? everything must 
proceed precisely as usual, and Doctor Drake and I will 
sit up and watch here you go, at your accustomed hour, 
and lock your door mind, as usual and we'll be on the 
alert, and ready to to " 

" To arrest the cabinet egad ! and garrotte the 
clock, if either so much as cracks while we are on duty," 
interposed Doctor Drake, poking William's flagging spirits 
with a joke, in vain. 



An Ambuscade. 



339 



"I dare say," was William's parting observation; "just 
because you are both here there will be nothing whatever 
to-night I'm quite certain ; but I'm awfully obliged to 
you all the same." 

He was quite wrong, however, as all who please may 
learn from the sequel. 





CHAPTER LXV. 

PURSUIT. 

JILLIAM MAUBRAY, in obedience to orders, 
went to his bed, having locked his chamber 
door. He grew tired of listening for sound or 
signal from the picket in the parlour ; as he lay in his bed 
reading, his eyes failed him. He had walked fifteen 
miles that day, aid in spite of his determination to re- 
main awake, perhaps partly in consequence of it he fell 
into a profound slumber, from which he was awakened in 
a way that surprised him. 

The sages in the study &ad drawn their armchairs 
about the fire. The servants had gone to bed all was 
quiet, and it was now past one o'clock. The conversa- 
tion was hardly so vigorous as at first there were long 
pauses, during which the interlocutors yawned furtively 
into their hands, and I am sorry to add, that while Mr. 
Wagget was, at the physician's request, expounding to 
him the precise point on which two early heresies dif- 
fered, Docter Drake actually sank into a deep slumber, 
and snored so loud as to interrupt the speaker, who 
smiled, shrugged, shook his head, and being a charitable 
man, made excuses for his drowsiness, and almost im- 
mediately fell fast asleep himself. 

The clergyman was wakened by some noise. He must 



Pursuit. 34 i 

havt been asleep a long time, for the fire had subsided 
and he felt cold, and was so stiff from long sitting in the 
same posture that he could hardly get up one of the 
candles had burned out in the socket, and the other was 
very low. 

On turning in the direction of the noise, the clergyman 
saw a gaunt figure in white gliding from the room. On 
seeing this form I am bound to confess the clergyman 
was so transported with horror, that he seized the sleep- 
ing doctor by the head, and shook it violently. 

Up started the doctor, and also saw in the shadow the 
spectre which had paused in the hall, looking awfully 
tall. 

The doctor's hand was on the candlestick, and utter- 
ing a prayer, he flung it, in a paroxysm of horror ; but 
it was a wild shot, and hit the sofa near the study door, 
and rebounded under the table. The study was now 
dark, but not so the hall. One tall window admitted a 
wide sheet of moonlight. The clatter of the doctor's pro- 
jectile seemed to affect the apparition, for it suddenly 
began to run round and round the hall, in wide circles, 
regularly crossing the broad strip of moonlight, and dis- 
playing its white draperies every time for half a second ; 
the philosophers in the stuvly could not tell whether each 
new revolution might not bring it into the room, to deal 
with them in some unknown way. One word they did 
not utter, but groped and pulled one another fiercely, 
and groaned, and panted, and snorted, like two men 
wrestling, and I am afraid that each would have liked to 
get his fnend between himself and the object, which, after 
whirling some half dozen times round the hall, passed off 
as it seemed in the direction of the kitchen or the back- 
stair. 

The gentlemen in the study, still holding one another, 



34 2 dtf in the Dark. 

though with a relaxed grasp, were now leaning with their 
backs to the chimneypiece. 

" Ha, ha, ha, ha ! " panted Doctor Drake nervously, 
and the rector sighed two or three times in great ex- 
haustion. The physician was first to speak. 

" Well ! Hey ! Where's your scepticism now ? " said 
he. 

"My friend my good friend," replied the parson, 
" don't be alarmed. Where's your faith ? " 

"Was there a noise?" whispered the doctor; and 
they both listened. 

"No," said the parson. "Pray shut the door. We 
must not be so so unmanned, and we'll light the candle, 
if you can find it." 

" Come along then," said the physician, who preferred 
the cleric's company just then. 

"To the door," said the clergyman, gently pushing 
him before him. 

When the candle was found and relighted, the gentle- 
men were much more cheerful. They looked about 
tnem. They stole into the hall and listened. They 
looked like Christian and Hopeful making their escape 
trom Doubting Castle. 

They hastened toward the back stair and the kitchen, 
and were satisfied without exploring. Then side by side 
tney mounted the great stair, and reached William's door* 
They had to knock loudly before he awaked. 

" Hollo ! I say !" shouted William from his bed. 

.Let us in ; Doctor Drake and I ; we've a word to 
sav p said the clergyman mildly. 

Will you open the door, Sir ? " wildly shouted Doctor 
Drake, who hated the whole affair. 

And they heard the bound of William's feet on the 
floor as he got out of bed, and in another moment the 



Pursuit. 343 

key turned, and William, candle in hand, stood at the 
open door. 

" Well, any news anything ? " asked William. 

" Get some clothes on and come down with us. Yet. 
We have seen something odd," said the clergyman. 

" Could it have been Rebecca ? " inquired William. 

" Hoo ! no, Sir two feet taller," said the rector. 

" Four feet taller," said Doctor Drake. 

" Did you see its face ? " asked William, using, awfully, 
the neuter gender. 

" No," said the parson. 

" But I did," said Drake "as long as my arm." 

The learned gentlemen stood very close together on 
the lobby, and looked over their shoulders. 

" Come into my room, Sir won't you ? You may as 
well " (the " Sir " applying to both gentlemen), said 
William, doing the honours in his night-shirt. 

" I don't see any great good," observed Doctor Drake, 
turning the key again in the door, as he followed the 
clergyman in, "we can do by going down again. It 
there was a chance si finding anything, but whatever it is 
it's gone by this time, and and going down would be a 
mere flourish, don't you think ? " 

" I wish we had the bottle of Old Tom that's in the 
locker," said William, who, behind the curtain, was 
making an imperfect toilet ; <: but I suppose it's too iar " 
and they all looked a little uneasy. 

" No, no," said the clergyman, morally, " we've had 
enough quite enough." 

" Unless we all went down together for it," said Doctor 
Drake. 

"No, no, pray no more to-night," said the rector, 
peremptorily. 

" I've p;;>es and a lot of latachia here," said William 



444 All in the Dark. 

emerging in trowsers and dressing-gown. "I've been 
trying it for the last ten days. Suppose we smoke a little.' 

"Very good idea," said the rector, who had no ob- 
jection to an occasional pipe under the rose. 

So they poked up the fire, and laid a block of coal on, 
and found that it was half-past four o'clock, and they 
chatted, thoughtfully, but no more upon the subject of 
the apparition ; and when daylight appeared they made a 
hasty toilet, had an early breakfast in the parlour ; and 
the good Doctor Wagget, with his eyes very red, and 
looking as rakish as so respectable a clergyman could, 
appointed William an hour to meet him at the Rectory 
that day and the party broke up. 





CHAPTER LXVI. 

THE GHOST REAPPEARS. 

JO soon as he was alone the real horror of his 
situation overpowered William Maubray. 

"They won't say so, but the rector and 
Doctor Drake, from totally different points with minds 
constituted as dissimilarly as minds can be have both 
come to the conclusion that these persecutions are 
supernatural. No jury on their oaths, having all the 
facts before them, could find otherwise. I see and know 
that they are unaccountable, except in this way ; and go 
where I will, I am dogged by the same cruel influence. 
Five years' bondage ! Where shall I be at the end of 
that time? What will have become of Violet Darkwell? 
I must abandon all my hopes honestly abandon them 
it is the price I must pay for the removal of this curse, 
which otherwise will extend itself, if there be meaning in 
the threat, to the unconscious object of my hopes." 

So raved William, " pacing up and walking down " in 
his despair. 

That night he had his old nightmare again, and was 
visited by what poor Miss Perfect used to call "the spirit 
key." In a horror he awaked, and found his wrist 
grasped by a cold hand precisely as before. This time 
the gripe was maintained for a longer time than usual, 



34<5 All in the Dark. 

and William traced the hand to its real owner of flesh 
and blooa. Thus was there a gleam of light; but it 
served Mm no further. 

fn ths evening, still agitated by his discovery, he 
visited Doctor Drake, who listened first with surprise, 
and then with downcast thoughtful look, and a grim 
smile. 

" I'll think it over," said he. " I must be off now," 
and he poked his finger toward the window, through 
which were visible his cob and gig ; " they don't leave 
me much time ; but I'll manage to be with you by nine 
this evening, and and I don't care if we try that old 
Tom," and the doctor winked comfortably at William. 
" We'll be more to ourselves, you know ; our rector's all 
for tea. Good-bye, and I'll turn it over carefully in my 
mind. I have an idea, but but I'll consider it and 
nine o'clock to-night, mind." 

Thus said the doctor as he climbed into his gig, and 
nodding over his shoulder to William Maubray, away he 
drove. 

Like a restless soul as Le was, William toiled hither 
and thither through the little town of Saxton with his 
hands in his pockets, and his looks on the pavement, 
more like an unfortunate gentleman taking his walk in a 
prison yard, than the proprietor of Gilroyd pacing the 
High Street of Saxton, where he ranked second only to 
Trevor, Prince of Revington. 

Repose is pleasant, but that of Saxton is sometimes 
too much for the most contemplative man who is even 
half awake. There are in the town eleven shops, small 
and great, and you may often look down the length of 
tne High Street, for ten minutes at a time, and see no- 
thing in motion but the motes in the sunshine. 

William walked back to Gilroyd, and paid himself as 



The G/wst Rea?pe.at . 347 

it were a visit there, and was vexed to and he had 
missed the rector, who had called only haif an hour 
before. The loss of this little diversion was serious. 
The day dragged heavily. Reader, if you repine at the 
supposed shortness of the allotted measure of your days, 
reside at Saxton for a year or two, and your discontent 
will be healed. 

Even Doctor Drake was half an hour late for his ap- 
pointment, and William was very glad to see that pillar 
of Saxton society at last. 

When they had made themselves comfortable by the 
fire, and the physician had adjusted his grog, and William 
had got his cup of tea by him, after a little silence the 
doctor began to ask him all sorts of questions about his 
health and sensations. 

" I don't think," said William, " except perhaps my 
spirits a little, and my appetite perhaps, this thing has 
affected my health at all." 

" No matter, answer my questions," said the doctor, 
who after a while fell into a mysterious silence, and 
seemed amused, and after a little time further, he ex- 
pressed a great wish to remain and watch as on the 
former occasion. 

"But," said William, very glad of the offer, "the 
rector is not coming, and you would wish some one 
with you." 

" No no one I don't mind," said the doctor, 
smiling with half-closed eyes into his tumbler. "Or, 
yes, we'll have your man up when you go to bed : that 
will do/' 

" I missed Dr. Wagget to-day ; he called here," said 
William. 

" Not after nightfall, though," said the physician, with 
a screw of his lips and eyebrows. " I saw him early to- 



34$ All in the Dark, 

day; he's awfully frightened, and spoke like a sermon 
about it" 

William looked sorely disquieted at this confirmation 
of his estimate of Dr. Wagget's A pinion of the case. He 
and Drake exchanged a solemn gi-ince, and the doctor 
lowering his eyes sipped some grog, and bursting into a 
mysterious fit of laughter which rather frightened William, 
who helplessly stood at the tea-table, and gazed on the 
spectacle. Everything began to puzzle him now; the 
doctor was like an awful grotesque in a dream. How 
could a good-natured and shrewd man laugh thus, amid 
suffering and horrors such as he had witnessed ? 

" I beg your pardon, but I could not help laughing 
when I thought of the rector's long face to-day, and his 
long words, by Jove," and in a minute or two more, the 
doctor exploded suddenly again, with the old apology 
on recovering his gravity, and William's bewilderment 
increased. 

The doctor insisted on William's adhering strictly to 
his tea and his hours, precisely as if he were alone. 

And Tom came in, and the doctor, who was in nowise 
ceremonious, made him sit down by the fire, and furnished 
him with a glass of the grog he so recommended. 

He then delivered to Tom a brief popular lecture on 
the subject he desired him to comprehend, and, having 
thus charged him, silence reigned ; and then the doctor, 
after an interval, smoked half a dozen pipes, and by the 
time the last was out it was past three o'clock. 

The doctor had left the study door open. The moon 
was shining through the great hall window. 

'* Put off your shoes, make no noise, and follow me 
close, with the candle, wherever I go. Don't stir till I 
do," whispered the doctor, repeating the directions he 
had already given " Hish 1 " 



The Ghost 



349 



The doctor had seen a tall, white figure in the hall in 
the shade beyond the window. 

" Hish 1" said the doctor again, seizing Tom by the 
arm, and pointing, with a mysterious nod or two, towards 
the figure, 

" Lawk ! Oh ! oh ! Law bless us I w murmured the 
man ; and the doctor with another " Hish," pushed him 
gently backward a little. 





CHAPTER LXVII. 

THE PHANTOM IS TRACKED. 

|S the doctor made this motion, the figure in 
white crossed the hall swiftly, and stood at the 
study door. It looked potentiously tall, and 
was covered with a white drapery, a corner of which 
hung over its face. It entered the room, unlocked 
William Maubray's desk from which it took some papers; 
then locked the desk, carrying away which, it left the 
room. 

" Follow, with the light," whispered the doctor, himself 
pursuing on tiptoe. 

Barefoot, the figure walked towards the kitchen, then 
turning to the left, it mounted the back stair ; the doctor 
following pretty closely, and Tom with his candle in the 
rear. 

On a peg in the gallery opposite to the door of William 
Maubray's bed-room, hung an old dressing-gown of his, 
into the pocket of which the apparition slipped the papers 
it had taken from his desk. Then it opened William's 
door, as easily as if he had not locked it upon the inside. 
The doctor and Tom followed, and saw the figure ap 
proach the bed and place the desk very neatly under the 
bolster, then return to the door, and shut and lock it or, 
the inside. Then the figure marched in a stately way to 



Tfie Phantom is TYacked. 351 

the far side of the bed, drew both curtains, and stood at 
the bedside, like a ghost, for about a minute ; after which 
it walked in the same stately way to the door, unlocked 
it, and walked forth again upon the gallery ; the doctor 
still following, and Tom behind, bearing the light. Down 
the stairs it glided, and halted on the lobby, where it 
seemed to look from the window fixedly. 

" Come along," said the doctor to Tom; and down the 
stairs he went, followed by the torch-bearer, and, on 
reaching th3 lobby, he clapped the apparition on the 
back, and shook it lustily by the arm. 

With the sort of gasp and sob which accompany sud- 
den immersion in cold water, William Maubray, for the 
ghost was he, awakened, dropped the coverlet, which 
formed his drapery, on the floor, and stood the picture of 
bewilderment and horror, in his night-shirt, staring at his 
friends and repeating " Lord have mercy on us ! " 

" It's only Tom and I. Shake yourself up a bit, man 
Doctor Drake here we are all old friends." 

And the doctor spoke very cheerily, and all sorts of 
encouraging speeches ; but it was long before William 
got out of his horror, and even then he seemed for a 
good while on the point of fainting. 

" I'll never be myself again," groaned William, in his 
night-shirt, seating himself, half dead, upon the lobby 
table. 

Tom stood by, holding the candle aloft, and staring in 
his face and praying in short sentences, with awful 
unction ; while the doctor kept all the time laughing and 
patting William on the shoulder and repeating, " Non- 
sense ! nonsense ! nonsense ! " 

When William had got again into his room, and had 
some clothes on, he broke again into talk : 

" Somnambulism ! walk in my sleep. I could not 



352 An in the Dark. 

have believed it possible. I 1 never perceived the 
slightest tendency I the only thing was that catching 
my own wrist in my sleep and thinking it was another 
person who held me ; but but actually walking in my 
sleep, isn't it frightiui ? " 

" I don't think you'll ever do it again ha, ha, ha ! 
said the doctor. 

u And why not ? " asked William. 

" The fright of being wakened as you were, cures it 
That's the reason I shook you out of your doldrum," 
chuckled the doctor. 

" I'm frightened frightened out of my wits." 

" Glad of it," said the doctor. " Be the less likely to 
do it again.' 1 ' 

" Do you think I I'm really cured? " asked William. 

" Yes, I do j but you must change your habits a bit 
You've let yourself get into a dyspeptic, nervous state, 
and keep working your brain over things too much. 
You'll be quite well in a week or two ; and I really do 
thi/jk you're cured of this trick. They seldom do it 
again hardly ever after the shock of being wakened. 
I've met half a dozen cases always cured." 

The doctor stayed with him the greater part of that 
night, which they spent so cheerfully that Drake's arti- 
culation became indistinct, though his learning and 
philosophy, as usual, shone resplendent. 

It was not till he was alone, and the bright mominc- 
sun shone round him, that William Maubray quite appre- 
hended the relief his spirits had experienced. For several 
days he had lived in an odious dream. It was now ail 
cleared up, and his awful suspicions gone. 

As he turned from the parlour window to the breakfast 
table, the old Bible lying on the little book-shelf caught 
lug eye. He took it down, and laid it beside him on the 



ThcPJiantom ?V Tracked. 353 

table. Poor Aunt Dinah had kept it by her during ner 
illness, preferring it to any other. 

" Til read a chapter every day by Jove, I will," re- 
solved William, in the grateful sense of his deliverance. 
" It's only decent it's only the old custom. It may 
make me good some day, and hit or miss, it never did 
any man harm." 

So he turned over the leaves, and lighted on an open 
sheet of note paper. It was written over in poor Miss 
Perfect's hand, with a perceptible tremble ; and he read 
the following lines, bearing date only titfo days before her 
death : 

" DEAR WILLIE, 

" To-day I am not quite so, but trust to be better ; and 
wish you to know, that having convers much with doctor, 
my friend, the rector, I make for future the Bible my 
only guide, and you are not to mind what I said about 
waiting five only do all things things with prayer, and 
marry whenever you see goo, seeking first God's blessing 
by pra . 

" So, lest anything should 'happen, to remove from your 
mind ai/ anxiet, writes 

"Your poor old fond 

" A.UNTIE." 

Thus ended the note, which William, with a strange 
mixture of feelings, kissed again and again, with a heart 
at once saddened and immensely relieved* 



CHAPTER LXVIIT. 

SOME SMALL EVENTS AND PLANS. 




MAUBRAY heard from Trevor, who 
affected boisterous spirits and the intensest 
enjoyment of his town life, though there was 
not a great deal doing just then to amuse anybody. He 
had been thinking of running over to Paris to the Sour- 
burys, who had asked him to join their party, but thought 
he must go first to Kincton for a week or two, as the 
ladies insisted on a sort of promise he had made, and 
would not let him off. He hinted, moreover, that there- 
was a perfectly charming Lady Louisa Sourbury, of whom 
he spoke in a rapture ; and possibly all this, and a great 
deal more in the same vein, was intended to reach the 
ear of Miss Violet Darkwell, who was to learn that " there 
are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far, who would 
gladly," &c., &c., and also, that young Lochinvar was 
treading his measures and drinking his cups of wine with 
remarkable hilarity, notwithstanding the little scene which 
had taken place. 

But Vane Trevor was not a topic which William would 

have cared to introduce, and it was in relation to quite 

other subjects that he was always thinking of Violet 

Darkwell. 

"So," said the old rector, walking into the hall at 



Some Small Events and Plans. 355 

Gilroyd, shaking his head, and smiling as he spoke, 
" We've found you out the merry devil of Edmonton 
hey? I don't know when I was so puzzled. It was 
really a-ha ! a most perplexing problem and and 
Doctor Drake has been our Matthew Hopkins, our witch- 
finder, and a capital one he has proved. I dare say, 
between ourselves," continued the rector, in a low tone, 
like a man making a concession, " that several cases of 
apparently well authenticated apparitions are explicable 
eh? upon that supposition ; " and, indeed, good Doctor 
Wagget devoted time and research to this inquiry, and 
has written already to two publishers on the subject of 
his volume, called "The Debatable Land;" and when, 
last summer, I passed a week at the Rectory, my admira- 
ble friend read to me his introduction, in which he says, 
" If apparitions be permitted, they are no more super- 
natural than water-spouts and other phenomena of rare 
occurrence, but, ipso facto, natural. In any case a 
Christian man, in presence of a disembodied spirit, 
should be no more disquieted than in that of an em- 
bodied one, />., a human being under its mortal con- 
ditions." 

And the only subject on which I ever heard of his 
showing any real impatience is that of his night-watch in 
the study at Gilroyd, as slily described by Doctor Drake, 
who does not deny that he was himself confoundedly 
frightened by William Maubray's first appearance, and 
insinuates a good deal about the rector, which the 
rector, with a dignified emphasis, declares to be "un- 
meaning travesty." 

In the meantime, Mr. Sergeant Darkwell made a flying 
visit to the Rectory, and Maubray had a long walk and a 
talk with him. I do not think that a certain shyness, very 
hard to get over where ages differ so considerably, per- 



35$ All in tht Park. 

mitted the young man to say that which most pressed foi 
utterance ; but he certainly did talk very fully about the 
" bar," and its chances, and William quite made up his 
mind to make his bow before the world in the picturesque 
long robe and whalebone wig, which everyone of taste 
admires. 

But the sergeant, who remained in that part of the 
world but for a day, when he donned his coif, and spread 
his sable winks for flight towards the great forensic rookery, 
whither instinct and necessity called him, carried away his 
beautiful daughter with him, and the sun of Saxton, 
Gilroyd, and all the world around was darkened. 

In a matter like love, affording so illimitable a supply 
of that beautiful vaporous material of which the finest 
castles in the air are built, and upon which every match- 
maker and and what person worthy to live is not 
a match-maker? speculates in a spirit of the most agree- 
able suspense and the most harmless gambling, it would 
be hard if the architects of such chateaux, and the 
"backers" of such and such events, were never in their 
incessant labours to light up a prophetic combination. 
Miss Wagget was a freemason of the order of the " Castle 
in the Air." 

Her magical trowel was always glittering in the 
sun, and her busy square never done adjusting this 
or that block of sunset cloud. She had, some little time 
since, laid the foundations in the firmament of such a 
structure for the use and occupation of William Maubray 
and Violet Darkwell ; and she was now running it up at 
a rate which might have made sober architects stare. The 
structure was even solidifying, according to the nebulous 
theory of astronomers. 

And this good lady used, in her charity, to read for 
William in his almost daily visits to the Rectory, all such 






Some Small Events and Plans. 357 

passages in Violet's letters as she fancied would specially 
interest him, 

Her love for the old scenes spoke very clearly in all 
these letters. But and young ladies can perhaps say 
whether this was a good sign or a bad one she never 
once mentioned William Maubray ; no, no more than if 
such a person did not exist, although certainly she asked 
vaguely after the neighbours, and I venture to think that 
in her replies, Miss Wagget selected those whom she 
thought most likely to interest her correspondent 

All this time good Miss Wagget wrote constantly to 
remind the barrister in London of his promise to allow 
Violet to return to the Rectory for another little visit. It 
was so long delayed that William grew not only melan- 
choly, but anxious. What might not be going on in 
London ? 

Were there no richer fellows than he, none more more 
what should he say ? more that style of man who 
is acceptable in feminine eyes ? 

Was not Violet peerless, go where she might ? Could 
such a treasure remain long unsought? and if sought, 
alas ! who could foresee the event ? 

And here he was alone, at Gilroyd, well knowing 
that distance, silence, absence, are sure at last to 
kill the most vigorous passion; and how could a 
mere fancy, of the flimsiest texture such as his 
best hopes could only claim, by way of interest in her 
heart or in her head survive these agencies of decay and 
death? 

" Next week I think I shall run up to town. I must 
arrange about attending an equity draughtsman's. I'm 
determined, Sir, to learn my business thoroughly," said 
William. 

"Right, Sir! I applaud you," replied the rector, to 



35$ All in the Dark. 

whom this was addressed. " I see you mean worr, anu 
are resolved to master your craft. It's a noble profession. 
I had an uncle at it who, everybody said, would have 
done wonders, but he died of small-pox in the Temple, 
before he had held a brief, I believe, though he had been 
some years called ; but it would have rome. Mactt 
Virtute. I may live to see you chsrge a jury. Sir." 




CHAPTER LXIX. 

WILLIAM MAUBRAY IN LONDON. 




DARKWELL/S stay in London length- 
ened. Saxton was growing intolerable. William 
began to despond. He ran up to town, and 
stayed there a few weeks. He eat his dinner in Lincoln's 
Inn Hall for two terms, and dined every Sunday, and 
twice beside, at the Darkwells'. 

The sergeant was so busy that, on these occasions, he 
appeared like a guest an unexpected presence, and was 
still evidently haunted by briefs fatigued and thoughtful ; 
but very kind to William. In their short after-dinner 
sittings I do not think that William ever opened the sub* 
ject that was nearest his heart. He had, I think, and 
with a great deal better reason than poor Vane Trevoi 
of Revington, whose pale phantom sometimes flitted 
warningly before his imagination horrible qualms about 
his money qualification. 

After one of these Sunday dinners William and Sergeant 
Darkwell tete-ct-tete, the barrister, in his quiet cheery way, 
had been counselling the student on some points, and re- 
lating bar stories, always pleasant to hear when told by 
bright and accurate men like him ; and said he, as they 
rose, " and the first term you make a hundred pounds I 
give you leave to marry." 



360 Allin tht Dark. 

William looked hard at his host, But his countenance 
was thoughtful, he had wandered away already to som 
other matter. In fact he looked quite innocent, and 1 
believe he was, of thought of Violet* 

" I give you leave to marry." Of course it was quite 
out of the question that he could have meant what the 
young man fancied he might mean. Still he thought he 
might lay down this general rule, and leave it to him to 
make the particular inference. 

" I see," said William, in conference with himself as he 
trudged home that night, dejectedly. " He wishes me 
to understand that I shan't have his consent till then. A 
hundred pounds in a term ! He had been seven years 
called before he made that. Could William hope to 
succeed so well ? Not quite, he rather thought." And 
then grasping his stick hard he swore it was like Jacob's 
service for Rachel a seven years' business ; and all for a 
Rachel, who had no thought of waiting. 

On all these occasions he saw Violet. But was there 
not a change, a sense of distance, and above all, was 
there not that awful old " she-cousin " (to borrow Sam 
Papy's convenient phrase), of Sergeant Darkwell, silent, 
vigilant, in stiff silk, whose thin face smiled not, and 
whose cold gray eyes followed him steadily everywhere, 
and who exercised an authority over Violet more tiian 
aunt-like ? 

William called again and again, but never saw pretty 
Violet without this prudent and dreadful old lady. Hei 
indeed he twice saw alone. In a tete-h-tete she was not more 
agreeable. She listened to what few things, with a piteous 
ransacking of his invention and his memory he could 
bring up, and looked upon him with a silent suspicion 
and secret aversion under which his spirit gradually des- 
paired and died within him. Glimpses of Violet, under 



William Maubray in London. 3^1 

the condition of this presence, were tantalising, even 
agonising sometimes. The liberty of speech so dear to 
Englishmen was denied him, life was gliding away in this 
speechless dream, the spell of that lean and silent old lady 
was upon him. How he yearned for the easy country life 
with its kindly chaperons and endless opportunities. 
Love, as we all know, is a madness, and it is the property 
of madmen to imagine conspiracies, and William began 
to think that there was an understanding between Ser- 
geant Darkwell and the " she-cousin," and that she was 
there to prevent his ever having an opportunity of saying 
one confidential word in Violet's ear. It seemed to him, 
moreover, that this was unspeakably worse, that Violet 
was quite happy in this state of things. He began to 
suspect that he had been a fool, that his egotism had 
made him, in a measure, mad, and that it was time for 
him to awake and look the sad truth in the face. 

William left London. He wavered in his allegiance to 
the bar. He doubted his fitness for it. Had he not 
money enough for all his wants ? Why should he live a 
town life, and grieve his soul over contingent remainders, 
and follow after leading cases in objectless pursuit, and 
lose himself in Bacon's interminable Abridgment, all for 
nothing ? 

He returned to keep his next term, and suffer a like 
penance. It seemed to him there was a kind of coldness 
and reserve in Violet that was hardly tangible, and yet it 
was half breaking his heart She was further away than 
ever, and he could not win her back. He sate there 
under the eye of silent Miss Janet Smedley the inexora- 
ble she-cousin. There was no whispering in her presence. 
She was so silent you might hear a pin drop. Not a 
syllable escaped her observant ear. There was no speak- 
ing in her presence, and that presence never failed 



362 All in the Dark. 

though Violet's sometimes did. The situation was in- 
supportable. Away went William again and this time 
he made a portion of that charming tour of Brown, Jones, 
and Robinson, which for any comfort it gave his spirit, 
he might as well or better have made within the covers of 
Mr. Doyle's famous quarto. 

Back to England with the home sickness of love came 
William. He had still a week before his term com- 
menced. 

" I can't stand it any longer," said he, as he paced the 
platform of the " railway " by which he had taken not an 
" up " but a " down " ticket. " I know I'm right. I 
must go down and see Miss Wagget. I'd rather talk to 
her than to the doctor. I know very well she sees how 
it is, and she'll tell me what she thinks, and if she advises 
I'll speak to the sergeant when I go to town, and so I 
shall soon know one way or other," and he sighed pro- 
foundly, and with a yearning look townwards he took his 
pla e, and flew away toward Gilroyd 





CHAPTER LXX. 

VIOLET DARKWELL TELLS MISS WAGGET THAT QUEEN 
ANNE IS DEAD. 

|HE sun was near the western horizon, and sky 
and clouds were already flooded with the sun- 
set glow, as William Maubray drove up to the 
high and formal piers of Gilroyd, with their tall urns at 
top decorations which belong to old-world fancy a 
little formal, like the stately dress of by-gone beauties and 
beaux, but with a sentiment and a prettiness of their own. 
Sad looked to him the smile of the old building and 
lordly trees in the fading sunlight ; the windows sparkled 
redly in it, the ivy rustled in the light air, and the spar- 
rows twittered and fluttered up and down among its 
glittering leaves the time, the sights, and sounds re- 
calling many an arrival at the same pleasant hour, and 
many a welcome look and tone gone now faint and far 
away in memory, and ever to grow more and more 
distant. 

The hall door was opened in went William without 
a summons and in the hall he heard voices issuing from 
the drawing-room. Old Miss Wagget's kindly and cheer- 
ing tones were distinctly audible, and Winnie Dobbs was 
making answer as he entered. From the two old women. 

2A 



164 All in the Dark 

as he stepped in, there was a simultaneous ejaculation , 
dud Winnie's two hands were lifted in amaze, and she 
beamed on him with a ruddy smile of welcome, crying 
aloud, " Well, law ! Tis him, sure enough ! " and 
" There you are ; what a charming surprise ! " exclaimed 
Miss Wagget, trotting up to him with her hands extended, 
and shaking both his with a jolly little laugh. 

" We walked over to pay our respects to good Winnie 
Dobbs here, little expecting to meet the lord of the 
castle. Ha, ha, hal why we thought you were at 
Hamburg, and lo and behold ! Here we have you ! 
And I ventured to bring a friend, will you allow me to 
introduce ? " 

But Violet Darkwell for she was the friend-^not wait- 
ing for Miss Wagget's mock ceremony, came a step or 
two to meet him, and again, in Gilroyd, he held that 
prettiest of slender hands in his. 

" Oh ! pretty Vi, who could forget you ? How I wish 
you liked me ever so little ! Oh ! that you were the mis- 
tress of Gilroyd ! " These were his thoughts as with a 
smile and a quiet word or two of greeting he took her 
hand. 

"Did you come through London ?" asked Miss 
Wagget 

" No ; direct here," he answered. 

" Surprised to find us, I dare say?" and she glanced 
at Violet. " Our friend here like a good little creature, 
as she is came down to keep me company for a week, 
and as much longer as I can make her stay, while my 
brother is at Westthorpe, and you must come over with 
us to tea." 

William acquiesced. 

"And, Winnie Dobbs, you must tell me all you knoT? 
of that Tummins family at the mill are the)' really tie- 



What Violet Darkwell tells Miss Wagget. 365 

serving people ? there was a rumour, you know young 
people, do you go out and take a ramble in the lawn, 
and I'll join you. Winnie and I must talk for a minute 
or two." 

So Violet and William did go out, and stood for a 
minute in the old familiar porch. 

" How pretty it looks always in the setting sun it's 
the light that suits Gilroyd. There's something a little 
melancholy in this place, though cheery along with it I 
don't know how," said William. 

" So do I I always thought that like those minuets 
I used to play, that dear old grannie liked so well some- 
thing brilliant and old-fashioned, and plaintive," replied 
the sweet voice of Violet Darkwell. 

" Come out into the sunlight," said William. " Oh ! 
how pretty ! isn't it ? " 

Violet looked round with a sad smile that was beautiful 
on her girlish face. 

"And the chestnut trees I wonder how old they 
are," said William. " I must see you once more, Violet, 
among the chestnut trees ; " and he led her towards them, 
she going willingly, with a little laugh that sounded low 
and sadly. 

Among their stems, he stopped before that of a solitary 
beech tree. 

" Do you remember that tree ? " said William, speaking 
very low. 

" I do indeed," said Violet, with the faintest little laugh 
in the world. 

" It's more than three years ago it's four years ago 
since I carved them." He was pointing to two tinea of 
letters, already beginning to spread and close in as such 
memorials on the living bark will do but still legible 
enough. They were 



366 All in the Dark. 

Vi Darkwell. 
William Maubray. 

" These are going," he said with a sigh, " like the old 
inscriptions in Saxton Church-yard ; I believe it is im- 
possible to make any lasting memorial; even memory 
fails as we grow old ; God only remembers always ; and 
this little carving here seems to me like an epitaph, times 
are so changed, and we Vi Darkwell William Mau- 
bray " (he read slowly). " Little Vi is gonedead and 
buried and William Maubray he did not know a great 
many things that he has found out since. He is dead 
and gone too, and I am here. He did not know himself; 
he thought the old things were to go on always ; he did 
not know, Vi, how much he loved you how desperately 
he loved you. You don't know it you can't know it 
or how much rather I'd die than lose you." 

She was looking down, the point of her little foot was 
smoothing this way and that the moss on the old roots 
that overlaced the ground. 

" If I thought you could like me ! Oh ! Violet, can 
you ever so little ? " He took her hand in both his, 
and his handsome young face was as that of a man in 
some dreadful hour pleading for his life. There were 
the glow of hope, the rapture of entreaty, the lines of 
agony. 

" I like you, William. I do like you," she said, so low 
that no other ears but his, I think, could have heard it, 
and the little wood anemones nodded their pretty heads, 
and the groups of wood-sorrel round trembled, it seemed 
with joy; and William said, in a wild whisper 

" My darling oh ! Vi my darling. My only love 
dearer and dearer, every year. Oh ! darling, my love is 
everlasting ! " and he kissed her hand again and again, 



What Violet Darkwell tells Mi* Wagget. 367 

and he kissed her lips, and the leaves and flowers were 
hushed, nature was listening, pleased, and, I think, the 
angels looking down smiled on those fair young mortals, 
and those blessed moments that come with the glory of 
paradise, and being gone are remembered for ever. 

" Why, young people, what has become of ycu ? " cried 
the well known voice of Miss Wagget. " Ho ! here you 
are. I guessed I should find you among the trees ; grand 
old timber, Mr. Maubray." The guilty pair approached 
Miss Wagget side by side, looking as unconcerned as they 
could, and she talked on. " I sometimes think, Mr. Mau- 
bray, that Gilroyd must be a much older place than most 
people fancy. That house, now, what style is it in? My 
brother says there were such houses built in Charles the 
Second's time, but the timber you know is particularly the 
oaks down there the trees are enormously old, and there 
are traces of a moat. I don't understand these things, but 
my brother says, at the side of the house toward the 
road," and so on kind Miss Wagget laboured, little as- 
sisted by William, upon topics about which none of them 
were thinking. 

That evening Miss Wagget was seized with a sort of 
musical frenzy, and sat down and played through ever so 
many old books of such pieces as were current in her youth, 
and very odd and quaint they sound now more changed 
the fashion of our music even than of our language. 

I'm afraid that the young people were not so attentive 
as they might, and William whispered incessantly, sitting 
beside Violet on the sofa. 

It was rather late when that little musical party broke 
up. 

To Gilroyd, William walked in a dream, in the air, all 
tne world at his feet, a demi-god. And that night when 
Vi, throwing her arms about Miss Wagget's neck, con- 



36$ 



All in the Dark. 



fided in her ear the momentous secret, the old lady ex- 
claimed gaily 

" Thank you for nothing ! a pinch for stale news ! 
Why I knew it the moment I saw your face under the 
trees there, and I'm very happy. I'm delighted. I've 
oeen planning it, and hoping for it this ever so long 
and poor fellow 1 He was so miserable." 





CHAPTER LXXI. 

THE CHIMES OF SAXTON. 

|EXT morning Miss Wagget was busy, in a great 
fuss, writing the news to her brother and the 
sergeant, and for the benefit of the latter she 
drew such a picture of William Maubray's virtues and 
perfections in general as must have made that sagacious 
man long to possess such a son-in-law. The good lady 
enclosed a dutiful little note to him from Violet, and 
wound up with an eloquent lecture, in which she de- 
monstrated that if the sergeant were to oppose this 
palpable adjustment of Providence, he should be found 
to fight against Heaven, the consequences of which enter 
prise she left him to conjecture. 

William also spent the entire forenoon over a letter to 
the same supreme authority ; and the letters despatched, 
there intervened a few days of suspense and wonderful 
happiness, notwithstanding. 

William was waiting in the little post-office of Saxton 
when the answering letters came. Mrs. Beggs having 
sorted the contents of the mail with an anxious eye, 
delivered his letters, and at his desire, those for the Rec- 
tory, to William. There was a letter from the sergeant 
for him. There was no miFtaking the tall and peculiar 



370 All in the Dark. 

hand. There were two others addressed severally to the 
ladies at the Rectory. William did not care to read his 
in Mrs. Beggs's littleparlour, sohe took his leave cheerfully, 
even gaily, with an awful load at his heart. 

In his pocket lay his fate sealed. Hardly a soul was 
stirring in the drowsy little street. Here and there a 
listless pair of eyes peeped through the miniature panes 
of a shop window. He could not read the letter where 
any eye could see him. He hurried round the corner of 
Garden Row, got on the road leading to Gilroyd, crossed 
the style that places you upon the path to the Rectory, 
and in the pretty field, with only half a dozen quiet cows 
for witnesses, opened and read his London letter. 

It told him how well Mr. Sergeant Darkwell liked him, 
that he believed wedded happiness depended a great 
deal more on affection, honour, and kindness, than upon 
wealth. It said that he had aptitudes for the bar, and 
would no doubt do very well with exertion. It then 
mentioned what the sergeant could do for his daughter, 
which William thought quite splendid, and was more, 
Miss Wagget afterwards said, than she had reckoned 
upon. 

For some years at least they were to live with the 
sergeant, " putting by your income, my dears, and fund- 
ing at least five or six hundred a year," interposed Miss 
Wagget, who was in a wonderful fuss. " You'll be rich 
before you know where you are you will, indeed ! He's 
an admirable man your father's an admirable man, my 
dear ! I don't know such a man, except my brother, 
who's a man by himself, you know. But next after him 
your papa, my dear, is the very best man I ever heard of. 
And you'll be married here, at Saxton you shall, indeed. 
You must remain with us, and be married from this, and 
I wonder my brother stays so long away, he'll be as glad 



The Chimes of Saxton. 371 

&s I. The sergeant shall come down to us for the 
wedding, and give you away at Saxton, and there's that 
beautiful spot Wyndel Abbey, so romantic and charming, 
the very place for a honeymoon, and only fifteen miles 
away." 

And so, on and on, ran good Miss Wagget, arranging 
everything for the young people, and as it were, counting 
the turnpikes, and packing their trunks for the happy ex- 
cursionists, and making tnem comfortable in the pretty 
little inn at Wyndel Abbey, where she had once spent a 
week. 

Well would it be for castle-builders in general if their 
dreams proved all as true as those of fanciful and kindly 
Miss Wagget did, on this occasion. 

It was agreed it was to be a very quiet wedding. At 
secluded Saxton, indeed, it would not have been easy 
to make it anything else. Sergeant Darkwell of course 
gave pretty Violet away. 

Honest Dr. Drake was there, in an unprofessional blue 
coat and buff waistcoat, and with a bouquet in his button- 
hole, in which not a single camomile flower figured. 
Miss Drake, too, in a lavender silk; and wishing the 
gay couple every good from her heart, notwithstanding 
her surprise that Sergeant Darkwell should have per- 
mitted his child to marry at so early an age as eighteen 
nineteen? Well, one year here or there doesn't sig- 
nify a great deal, she fancied. Good old Winnie Dobbs, 
too, in a purple silk and new bonnet, which must have 
been quite in the fashion, for all Saxton admired it 
honestly. A little way from the communion rails, be- 
hind the gentlefolks, she stood or kneeled, edified, only 
half credulous, smiling sometimes, and crying a great 
deal thinking, I am sure, of kind old Aunt Dinah, who 
was not to see that hour Winnie, I mention parenthe- 



372 



All in the Dark. 



tically, is still housekeeper at Gilroyd, and very happy, 
with nothing but a little rheumatism to trouble her. 

Here every year William and Violet pass some time, 
and the happiest month of all the twelve, though the 
estates and title have come to him, and he is Sir William 
and she Lady Maubray. But the change has not spoiled 
either. 

The honest affections and friendly nature delight in 
the old scenes and associates ; and in summer sunsets, 
under the ancient chestnuts, they ramble sometimes, her 
hand locked in his ; and often, I dare say, he runs over 
those delightful remembrances, still low still in a lover's 
tone, she looking down on the grass and wild flowers, as 
she walks beside him and listens as she might to a sweet 
air, always welcome, the more welcome that she knows 
it so well ; and they read the inscription on the beech 
tree, time has not effaced it yet, they read it smiling, in 
their happy dream, with that something of regret that 
belongs to the past, and all the tenderness that tones the 
uncertain mortal future. 

Sometimes William says a word of Trevor, and she 
laughs, perhaps a little flattered at the remembrance of a 
conquest. Vane Trevor is very well, not married yet, 
they say, grown a little stout, not often at Revington. 
He does not put himself much in the way of Sir William, 
but is very friendly when they correspond on Saxton 
matters, workhouse, and others. He has not renewed 
his attentions at Kincton. Clara has grown "awfully 
old," he has been heard to remark. She has latterly 
declined gaieties, has got to the very topmost platform 
of High-churchism, from which a mere step-ladder may 
carry her still higher. Dean Sancroft, who fought the 
Rev. John Blastus in the great controversy, you must 
remember, on credence tables, candles, and superaltars, 



The Chimes of Saxton. 373 

is not uufrequentiy an inmate of Kincton, and people 
begin to canvass probabilities. 

But whither have I drifted? Let us come back to 
quiet old Saxton Church, and the marriage service. The 
Miss Mainwarings and a pretty Miss Darkwell; a cousin 
of the bride's, attended as bridesmaids. Arid with Ser 
geant Darkwell had arrived the " silent woman." She 
could not help her taciturnity any more than her steady 
gray eyes, which used to terrify William so, while he 
haunted the drawing-room in town. She attended, in 
very handsome and appropriate costume, and made 
Vi a very pretty present of old-fashioned jewellery, 
and was seen to dry her gray eyes during the beauti- 
ful "solemnisation of matrimony," as good Doctor 
Wagget, in the old church, under the oak-roof which 
had looked down for so many centuries on so many 
young kneeling couples, in the soft glow of the old 
stained windows whose saints looked smiling on with 
arms crossed over their breasts, read the irrevocable 
words aloud, and the village congregation reverently 
listening, heard how these two young mortals, like the 
rest, had "given and pledged their troth, either to other, 
and declared the same by giving and receiving ot a ring, 
and by joining of hands," and how the good rector pro- 
nounced that " they be man and wife together," in ths 
name of the glorious Trinity. 

As we walk to the village church, through the church- 
yard, among the gray, discoloured headstones that seem 
to troop slowly by us as we pass, the lesson of change 
and mortality is hardly told so sublimely as in the simple 
order of our services. The pages that follow the " Com- 
munion " open on the view like the stations in a pilgrim- 
age. The "Baptism of Infants" "A Catechism" 
"The Order of Confirmation " " The Solemnisation of 



374 All in tto. Dark. 

Matrimony"" The Visitation of the Sick " " The Burial 
of the Dead." So, the spiritual events of life are noted and 
provided for, and the journey marked from the first); 
question " Hath this child been already baptised or no ? 
down to the summing up of life's story " Man that is; 
bora of a woman, hath but a short time to live, and is 
full of misery. He cometh up and is cut down as a 
flower ; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never con- 
tinueth in one stay." 

And so Doctor Wagget, after the blessing invoked, 
and his beautiful office ended, smilingly bids William 
" Kiss your wife," and there is a fluttering of gay rib- 
bons, and many smiling faces, and a murmuring of 
pleased voices, and greetings and good wishes, as they 
go to the vestry-room to sign Dr. Wagget's ancient ledge 
of all such doings. 

And now while the sun is shining and the bells ot 
Saxton trembling in the air, I end my story. 



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