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'.If- ■hrd:u].:y /aithoTSJif the cf'V. 

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James ^.^RAFF, 

Baltimore . 


'es Lever. 
r- •; 

!f J Lever. 
p. Le-uer. 


4/ ivir. a.ia ivirs. /i^sneton 

*• Margaret and Her Bridesmaids.^* 

48 Sir Jasper Carew Cbar' 

49 Mrs. Mathews T.L.. 

50 Marian WitherE . 




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riff) L_»^T2ftj i iil>tf-Wj uJ » tr^ * 



51 Gertrude J or, Family Pride 

, . /kC-i. TroUope. 

5* Young Heiress Mi^-J. Trofhpe* 

53 A Da)'s Ri ' Lever, 

54 Maurice. Ti, r.vT/^r, 

55 Const 

58 Mafter ofjJie Hounds" ^frwr^for." 

60 Cardinal Pole }V. H. Amivortb. 

61 Jealous Wife Mm Par doe. 
6z Rival Beauties Miss Pardoe, 

65 Lord Mayor of London 

IV H. Alnswortb. 
- - ** ■ Venner 

Oli'ver, PF. Holmes. 

67 Charlie Thornhill Charles Clark. 

68 House ofEImore'F. IV. Robinson. 
']% Country Gentleman** Scrutator.^'* 
-" ^"""-ata T. AdolphusTrolhpe. 

ta T. Adolphus Trollope. 

75 ^rrington Charles Lever. 

76 Beppo the Conscript 

T. Jdolpbus Trollope. 

7$ Deep Waters jinm H. Drury. 

~' "' presentation ^«ffdri/,Z>rffry. 

:y Nogo TVliyte Melville. 

Queen of the Seas 

Captain A'tttstrong. 

82 He Would Be a Gentleman 

Samuel Lover. 

«il3 Mr. Stewart's Intentions 

^* F. V/. Robinson. 

%^ Mattie : a Stray 

Author of " Carry s Confession^"* 

8-5 Doctor Thome Anthony Trollope. 

oc rri , Ti-iacdermots -^. TroZ/o/f. 

"sm Chase T. -^. Trollope. 

88 Rachel Ray , ./Anthony TroUcpc. 

89 Luttrell of Arran Ck<3r:cs Lever. 

90 Giulio Malatesta T. A. Trollope 

91 WiI<Wower - F. fV. Robinson. 

92 Irish Stories Samuel Lover. 
53 Ti.e K:i:y3 Z''y Trollope. 

94 Married Beneat 

^«^/5er ofi^Lost i ^ :rd.'* 

95 Tales of aU Countries;cny Trtikpg. 

96 Castle Richmond A. Trollope. 

97 MouHt Sorel 

Mrs. Mcrsk-CaldwelL 

98 John Law, the Pi jector 

W. II. Ainnoorth. 
100 The Bertrams 

Anthoriy ^folhpe. 

loi Faces for Fort 

A. hew. 

102 Father Darcy 

IL ill. 

103 Time the Ave 

Mrs. . :vdl. 

104 Under tjie Spell 

F. W. Robinson. 

105 Market Harborough 

Whyte Melville, 

106 Slaves of the Ring 

F m Robintoa, 

no Emilia Wyndham 

Mrs, Marsh Caldioell. 

111 One and Twenty 

F. W. Robinson 

112 Douglas's Vow 

Mrs. £:'■■■ "-f -■"-■-gs. 

113 Woodleigh 

ii6.0i: 33. 

. I-ithony Trollope. 



117 Flying Scud C. 

118 Denis Donne ^nnie lixmas. 

119 Forlorn Hope Edmund Yates. 

120 Can You Forgive Her ? 3s. 

Anthony Trolhte. 

121 Ned Locksley, the Etonian 


122 Miss Mackenzie A. Trollope. 

123 Carry's Confession 

By Author of"Mattle: a Stray" 

124- Griflith Gaunt Charles Reade. 

125 Belton Estate Anthony Trollcpe. 

126 Land at Last Edmund Tates. 

127 Dumbletoo Common 

Hon. Eleanor Eden. 

128 Crumbs from a Sportman's 

Table By Charles Clarke. 

129 Bella Donna Percy Fitzgerald. 

130 Captain Jack J. A. Maitland. 

131 Christie's Faith 

By Author cf-^Mattit : a Stray. ''^ 


132 Polly : a Village PoiL ' ^ 

By a Popular Writer, 

133 75 Brooke Street 

By Percy Fit%gcr 

r34. Called to Account 

By Ant 

.\ Heart 

By Toin ^- 

136 Second Mrs. Tillotson 

By Percy Fitxgerald, 

137 Never Forgotten 

By Percy Fitzgerald, 

138 ClyfFardsofClyfie 
Author of.*^ Married Bei: 

139 Which is the Winner 

By Charles -CU 
1-40 Archie Lo;»ell 

By Mrs, Edwc 

141 Lizzie Lorton 

By E. Lynn Li: 

142 Milly's Hero 

By F, W. Robinson. 

1.1.3 Leo By Button Cook. 

London: CHAPMAI^ ' 


ARNE & CO.} W. H. SMITH & SC: 
iouigh: JOHN MENZIES. Glasgow: *MURRAY . .^v^. 
Dublin: W. H. SMITH & SON. 
Melbourne: GEORGE ROBI"^^'^" 


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in 2009 with funding from 
Duke University Libraries 







VIII. "noblesse oblige" 

TX. LUCIA ... 
X. "my LIFE IS weary" 
XII. "you have REJECTED ME " 


XXI. Archie's confession 

























XXV. DEAD rose-leaves! 
XXVII. " G. S. D." 





XXXVII. "here !" 
XXXVIII. Archie's ovation 


XL. "advienne que pourra!" 





It wav3 a biiglit moonlight niglit, in the last week of July, 
186 — , and half the population of Morteville-sur-Mer had turned 
out, as the fashion of Morteville-sur-Mer is, to walk upon the pier. 

Among the crowds of men and women thus occupied, and even 
at a time of year when Morteville is most thronged with sea- 
bathers from all parts of France, the preponderance of Enghsh 
people was unmistakahle. Can you mistake for a moment the 
dress, the walk, the laugh, the voice of our compatriots? — esj)e- 
cially of that class of our compatriots who find it convenient to 
reside out of England and in such places as Morteville-sur-Mer? 
A few Britons of a different type there may have been there, — 
quiet, plainly-dressed people, — passing through Morte\alle on their 
way to Paris, and walking on the pier after dinner simply because 
better air was to be got there than in the stifling over-crowded 
hotels within the town. But these you would have passed without 
notice in the crowd. The mass of Britons, the mass who arrested 
your eye and your ear as they passed, were the English residents 
in the place — ^the actual Anglo population of Morteville-sur-Mer : 
some of them flashy and over-dressed ; others poor-looking, subdued, 
out-at-elbows ; but none wholly devoid of interest to the careful 
observer of his kind. Eor every one who lives in Morteville has a 
reason for doing so. And in the history of every one who has a 


reason for living out of liis country, there must, I think, be some- 
thing — some [misfortune, some debt, some imbecility, oftentimes 
some crime — that may well make us, Tvho sit by our own firesides 
still, pause and meditate. 

"I don't believe their name is Wilson, at all," remarked !Mrs 
Dionysius O'Eourke; ''and if you recollect right, my dear Mrs 
Maloney, I said so to you from the first. I believe he's a Trant — 
one of Lord Mortemaine's sons — away in hiding from his creditors ; 
indeed O'Eourke says he can swear to having seen the man's face 
in Homburg three years ago, and then his name was Smithett. 
He, he, he ! " and Mrs O'Eourke, being the possessor of six hundred 
a-year, and so a magnate in Morteville, her laugh was instantly 
echoed among the little knot of familiar and congenial spirits by 
whom she was at tliis moment surrounded. 

" I've nothing to say against the poor unfortunate man liimself," 
chimed in the shrill voice of old Mrs Maloney, the IMrs Candour 
of the community. " Indeed, I think every one must pity him, 
poor creature, with the life he leads at home between those dread- 
ful women. But as to his daughter ! — as to Miss Archie Wilson ! " 

And Candour threw up her eyes, and clasped her aged hands, 
as one might do who possessed all the details — but would not— 
no, no, no ! for worlds would not reveal them — of an erring fellow- 
creature's sins. 

" ]\Iiss Wilson is really growing very pretty," said another voice ; 
a man's this time. " Who would have thought a year ago she 
would turn out such a fine-looking girl 1 " 

" Oh, I think her lovely, lovely ! " exclaimed an enthusiastic 
impulsive young being of about four-and-thirty. '' Such beautiful 
eyes, and such a sweet mouth and teeth, Captain Waters ! Poor, 
2)oor little Archie ! " 

" The speaker was Miss Augusta Marks, — Gussy Marks, as she 
•was commonly called among her friends ; at once the professional 
toad-eater general, and the literary or intellectual element of 
Morteville. On what ground this young creature founded her 
relationsliip with the literature of her country was never clearly 
made out. She referred vaguely herself, it was understood, to the 
Saturday Review ; but her more intimate friends professed them- 
selves to be in possession of data regarding a romance once contri- 


buted by her to tbe Brompton Herald^ or Penny Household^ Guide, 
under th^ title of " Lucile, or the Duke's Victim : a Eevelation 
from Life." Whether this was true or false ; whether the revelation 
was printed or allowed to remain in manuscript, Gussy Marks an- 
nounced ^herself, and all Morteville spoke of her, as a literary 
character. If she had written Fa?ZiY?/ i^azV, could she have done 
more ? If you can attain a reputation without work, who is the 
gainer ? Only in one respect the somewhat impalpable nature of 
her profession made itself disagreeably felt. Gussy remained poor ; 
and had to work hard for her daily dinner by fetching and carry- 
ing news about from house to house, and generally flattering all 
such persons — there were not very many in Morteville — as would 
not only receive poor Gussy's attentions, but let her take their 
value out afterwards in sohd eating and drinking. 
, Amusing Miss Gussy Marks undoubtedly was. She was bitterly 
spiteful ; and to strangers, 'when they first'settle in a dull place like 
Morteville, bitter inveterate spite, even when it is unseasoned by 
a grain of wit, is better than no entertainment at all. But she 
was not capable, as in their different fashions were Mesdames 
O'Eourke and Maloney, of boldly killing any man's reputation 
outright. Some of Mrs O'Eourke's falsehoods were sudden, almost 
justifiable homicides. Gussy's carefully-worded equivocations were 
deliberate, cold-blooded murders'; murders with malice afore- 
thought. She belonged to the class who whisper about versions, 
more or less blackened, of other people's vilifications j who supply 
all missing hnks in other people's evidence ; who are " sure they 
heard so somewhere — not from you, dearest Mrs Blank? Then 
from some one else, for I know 1 never thought so." The vilest, 
the most cowardly class of all, in short. The assassin runs some 
risk ; the wretch who hovers round till the deed is done, and then 
warily begins to mangle the helpless corpse of the slain, none. 

''Such an agreeable companion! such unfailing spirits!" all 
new-comers to Morteville pronounced as Miss Marks prostrated 
herself in turn at their feet. Then, as the months passed, the new- 
comer's door would gradually open less freely to Gussy ; and the 
women of the family would speak of her as "a very amusing 
person for a time ; but — ; " and' the men make short cuts down 
the nearest street whenever they met her; and poor Gussy have to 

B 2 


fall back for intimacy on her old patronesses — tlic O'liourke-and- 
Maloney coalition— and any such, stray birds as slie might chance 
occasionally to pick n]) at their houses. 

On this especial evening, and at this moment, ^vhen Archie 
"Wilson's ill-doings are being brought forward for the purpose of 
moral animadversion, a whole group of the notabilities or tyi-'ical 
people of Morteville are assembled beneath the lighthouse at the 
extreme end of the pier : inter alia, Mrs Dionysius OTiourke, ^Ir 
Montacute and his daughters, the literary element, Captain ^\''aters, 
and old Mrs Maloney — a majority of ladies, as is generally the 
case, the EngKshmen in Morteville not affecting much appearance 
LQ public. They play cards of a morning, play them of an after- 
noon, play them of an evening (very well they play too : don't sit 
down here at loo or ecarte unless you are tolerably sure of your 
game) ; and the two or three men, who happen at the present 
moment to be absent from the club, puff away helplessly at their 
cigars, and listen, without offering any observations of their own, 
while the women talk. 

Let me take a rapid sketch of one or two of these people before 
Miss Archie Wilson's character is submitted to the scalpel. A 
Bieu ne lolaise that they should hold any place save in this first or 
introductory scene of my story ! a Dieu ne ^^/a/^e that I should 
essay to paint a finished picture of one of them ! But a few brief 
outlines my pen must with repugnance trace : first, to make you 
understand what manner of people these are who speak ; secondly, 
to show you in what kind of social atmosphere Archie Wilson 
herself — the unconscious subject of their moral vivisection — had 
spent the last two years of her child's life. 

Mrs Dionysius O'Eourke — on account of her great size as well 
as her high position in society, I feel that I must give her pre- 
cedence over her friends — was a lady of about, say, fifty-five, and 
of considerable social experience; had been thrice married — ("Let 
us say married ! Ah, yes — married ! " Mrs Maloney would remark 
with bitter irony during the half-yearly period when these two 
potentates invariably passed each other without bowing in the 
street) — and had resided in every place of easy resort on the Con- 
tinent, In all that Mrs O'Rourke ever told respecting the past, 
the first husband was dropped altogether; the second, Colonel 


iNioiiof, Ox' as slie, in her vain attempts to lisp down the native 
Tijiperary, called it, ^' jMawj'er," brought into extraordinary 
preeminence, save on one occasion, well remembered by the 
Maloney, when a family called IMorier really came to Morteville, 
and when Mrs O'Eonrke never mentioned their name nor came 
outside her door during the six weeks of their stay. The third 
and present one, Mr Dionysius O'Eourke, seemed to be viewed 
both by his wife and by her friends in the light of a butler — an 
hypothesis that O'Eourke himself supported by the assumption of 
all those broad and generous views in regard to the consumption 
of liquor which butlers generally hold. 

To judge by the number of dukes and duchesses she talked of, 
Mrs O'Eourke had mixed in excellent society all her life ; and 
barring the adventitious circumstances of seventeen stone of solid 
flesh, the ineradicable Tipperary, and an undue tendency to gor- 
geous yellow satin and birds of strange plumage in the matter of 
dress, she was really an entertaining, and, on the theory of Joe 
Gargery, a fine figure of a woman. She took away everybody's 
character, certainly; but who should know better than Mis 
O'Eourke how easy it is for people to live and be happy without 
that? And she gave and enjoyed good dinners, and not worse 
wine than was commonly current in Morteville. How could any 
one say that Mrs Maloney's infamous stories of bygone days were 
correct? Would not an open house, a real butler (as well as 
O'Eoiu'ke), and six-hundred a-year, insure po]3ularity in other 
places as well as Morteville-sur-Mer ? 

Mrs Maloney, Mrs O'Eourke's closest ally and most implacable 
enemy, was of a totally different build j for whereas Mrs O'Eourke 
had been wicked and prosperous, and gone into a comfortable mass 
of human flesh and blood, Mrs Maloney] had been wicked and 
grown lean upon it ; and in that one fact of being in a Banting or 
anti-Banting state lies much philosoph}^ Indeed it is not certain 
that, for moral classification, the whole of humanity might not 
broadly be divided into these two sections, — the fat, the lean ; the 
jovial, the ascetic. There were softening moments, weaknesses of 
the flesh, in Mrs O'Eourke, as in all fat, food-loving creatures. At 
a certain tempered stage of fulness, one point short of surfeit or 
inebiiety — in the interval, for instance, between dinner and the 


last glass of hot brandy-and-water before bed-time — she would as 
soon have called you a good fellow as a bad one ; but no eating or 
drinking ever mollified Mrs Maloney's flinty soul or softened a line 
upon her bird-Hke hatchet-face. She could never overcome her 
sickening spite against the' human race for persisting still in being 
young and handsome and happy, as she had once been. She de- 
tested people for being wicked, because she had no longer the 
temptation to be wicked herself ; she detested them for being good, 
because she had never known the meaning of good while she lived. 

When Mrs Dionysius O'Eourke went to the Morteville balls, all 
the little Frenchmen would run about her, in sheer amazement at 
her undraped bulk. 

" Hold, Alphonse ! hast thou seen the English mamma ! But 
'tis rather an exhibition for a museum than a ball-room. Une liip- 
jpopotame qui se decollete comme ga ! " 

From old Mrs Maloney's corpse-like face and anatomical neck 
and arms, bared as only utter fleshlessness can ever bare itself, 
men of all nations turned away with horror. She was not even 
curious. Occasionally, indeed, she would drag into her meshes 
some unfledged boy who thought it savoured of manliness to ape 
precocious cynicism, or some hoary-headed roue who would fain 
hear the vices imputed to others which he no longer had it in his 
power to commit. And then was Mrs Maloney in her glory. 
Then she almost felt that in the possession of a tongue like hers 
resides compensation for being old and loveless and unbeautiful. 
Then was youth vilified and age dishonoured ; then were beauty 
and love and faith, and all the fairness and the nobleness of our 
common humanity, disfigured by the vitriol flung from that black 
heart, until her listener — however foolish, however world-hardened 
— would turn away with a shudder from the blasphemies of those 
lips that had once been fresh and young, and that children's kisses 
had blest. 

Look at the pictured impersonations in which the old pamters' 
fancies used to embody aU that men conceive of when they use tho 
word fiend — the malignant, the impious, the hopeless — and you 
will see Maloney ; she who thhty years before had been, if fame 
vspoke true, the beauty and the toast of one of the most brilliant, 
the most genial-hearted cities in the kingdom. 


If priest or parson would have let lier mount into his pulpit, 
show her withered face, and vent her impotent rage against the 
life she liad made vile use of, there had been a sermon to keep 
women pure and men honomable. The Spartans turned their 
drunken slaves to some account. Can we, with all our science, 
find no use for the scum, the dregs of our society ? Is our chil- 
dren's love of honour, of virtue, of truth, of courage — of the crown 
of all these, charity — to he taught by written books alone 1 

Seated between these two women — I pass over Mr O'Rourke, a 
poor little man weighing about as ihuch as any one of his wife's 
limbs, and at this particular moment, as usual, not by any means 
more pleasant company for all the brandy he had taken since his 
dinner — seated between Mesdames O'Eourke and Maloney was 
Captain Waters, one of the head dandies or clothes-wearing men 
of Morteville. 

Captain Waters was perhaps eight-and-twenty, perhaps eight- 
and-forty. Certain effete and obliterated human faces seem of 
texture too putty-like for time's finger to mark them with any last- 
ing iu dentation. Captain Waters had one of these faces. He had 
pale hair, pale eyes, pale cheeks, pale girlish hands, a pale coat, a 
pale hat, and an eye-glass ; the last the most distinctive feature 
about him. Who was Captain Waters ? No one knew. What 
service had he been in ? What were his means of living ? No one 
knew. It was faintly believed that he was a married man -, one of 
those stray atoms of matrimony that do float about on the surface 
of Anglo-Continental life. It was believed also that some one 
thought they had once seen him in Italy robbing a church mth 
the Garibaldians. It was generally admitted that he played the 
best game of ecarte in MorteviUe. As far as voice and manner 
went, Captain Waters was a gentleman ; only an occasional rest- 
lessness of manner, a proneness to change any conversation as soon 
as il} trenched too nearly on his own personal history, betraying the 
class of professional adventurers to which he belonged. He said he 
was related — very possibly it was true — to more than one great 
English family, and that nothing but a change in the Cabinet was 
needed for him to obtain one of the foreign diplomatic appoint- 
ments for which his perfect command of Continental languages 
fitted liim. In the mean time, he was economizing abroad, that is 


to say, wearing good clothes, living at one of the best hotels in 
the place ; flirting desperately with young ladies ; getting dinners 
out of old ones ; and generally winning the money of any men 
who were well-born enough to become Captain Waters's com- 
panions — he detested vulgar people — and to walk arm-in-arm with 
him on the Morteville Pier. 

Captain Waters was spiteful; as spiteful to the full as Mes- 
dames O'Eourke and IMaloney. But while theirs was heartfelt, 
malignant spite— the work of artists who put their hearts into 
what they fabricated — Captain Waters's was dilettanteism. Every- 
thing, even the trouble of pulling characters to pieces, bored or 
seemed to bore him. Nothing, including every possible moral de- 
pravity or deformity, surprised him. Raising liis eye-glass up a 
quarter of an inch, taking his cigarette languidly in his little blue- 
veined hand, and smiling barely enough to show his even teeth, he 
would just throw in a word, a delicate finishing touch, when the 
other common assassins had done their work. You may imagine 
what the word would be to appreciative hearers. A plat, dressed by 
the hand of a cordon hieu, crowning some repast of high-seasoned 
coarser dishes — savoury and tasteful perhaps in their way, but 
lacking that quintessence of flavour which only education and re- 
finement knows how to prepare for the palate of civilized man. 

The last noticeable person in the group was Miss Gu&sy Marks, 
a few of whose moral characteristics we have already considered. 
The personnel of this young person, had she flourished thirty years 
ago, might have justified her claims in the matter of hterature ; for 
tliirty years ago, women who wrote were, we learn, considered in 
this country somewhat in the light of monsters — women only in 
theh invincible inferiority of brain ; but otherwise unsexed by tlie 
mere attempt to raise themselves above their samplers. Miss IMarks 
had a high bare forehead, a flat head, beetling eyebrows, great bird- 
like eyes and nose, a sj^lendid development of animalism about the 
lower part of the face, and a moustache ! Yes, a moustache ! Why 
should I euphemize? A moustache such as many a fledgling 
ensign would incur his year's debts in advance to possess. 

The last new-comers to Morteville — consequently the last new 
chance of dinner that Miss Marks was seeking to propitiate — were 
Mr and the two Miss Montacutes, by whose side she now stood. 


Eegarding tiiem there is little to say. The Miss Montacutes were 
pretty girls, Avho talked a good deal of grand married sisters, and 
their regret at having to come to such a slow place as Morteville 
for poor mamma's health. And Mr Montacute was a man who had 
formerly been rich and now was poor, and who had spent a great 
deal of his time in Continental jails, and already was meditating 
as to how much was likely to be garnered out of the Morteville shop- 
keepers before he should run away. Yet once Mr Montacute had 
kept open house and given money with a free hand to those who 
asked for it, and had brought up his lads to call dishonour by its 
right name. Look at his face now, — the set hard mouth, the eyes 
that won't meet yours ; listen to the bullying tone in wliich he 
talks to his wife and daughters, and say if professional insolvency 
can be pleasant work to a man who was bred a gentleman 1 Say 
if he too might not add some comments to that unwritten sermon 
of which I spoke just now 1 

" Poor little Archie Wilson ! " repeated Miss Marks, with 
unction; ''if some one would only take the child up, something 
might be made of her yet." 

"I should think somebody would be quite sure to take her up,'' 
suggested Captain AYaters, in the intervals of making a fresh 
cigarette. "You need not be uneasy on that score, Miss Marks." 

"Captain Waters, you are too bad," cried Mrs Maloney, while 
Mrs O'Eourke chuckled, and the Miss ]\Iontacutes remarked 
demurely how plainly you could see the light-house on the opposite 
coast. " Of course it's all very amusing for you^gentlemen, but 
for the ladies in the place — and young ladies especially — I say it's 
most embarrassing. Why, really now. Miss Montacute, you 
mustn't be shocked, but I do think it right to put you on your 
guard" — only Mrs IMaloney called it 'gu'iard.' "What do you 
suppose I saw last night from my window 1 " 

ISTo one's imagination was equal to the emergency. Captain 
Waters looked up at the sky and smiled. 

" Well, then, you must know, Mr Montacute, my lodgings is 
just opposite to the Wilsons', Eoo d'Artois — and 'twas a moonlight 
night, as this may be, and everything as distinct as possible — and 
about eleven, or half-past, I sat down by my window to think a 
little" — she sighed piously, — "before retiring to rest, when what 


Bhould come out from tlie Wilsons' parlour-window but a man's 
figure ! " 

The whole company repeated, as one man, the word " "wdndow ! " 

"Yes, window!" exulted Mrs Maloney, warming to her work. 
" If it had been by the door no one Avould have been more willing 
than myself to give her the benefit of the doubt, for of course the 
Dormers live on the first, and the old Countess d'Eu on the second ; 
and it is possible, though extremely unlikely, that this person 
might have been unconnected with the Wilsons. But no, it was 
from their window it appeared. They live on the rez-de-chausse, 
Mr Montacute. Not that I blame them for that, poor creatures ; 
but with Mrs Wilson wearing a silk-velvet cloak, and Archie, to 
my own knowledge, seven pairs of boots since Christmas, economy 
it is not. A man's figure, dressed in a short paletot, a wideawake 
hat, and smoking a cigar! Xow comes the point of the story. 
That figure was Miss Archie Wilson herself ! " 

Horror on all sides ; even Captain Waters languidly interested. 

"And dressed — hke a man?" ejaculated Gussy Marks plain- 
tively ; dressed quite like a man, my dear Mrs Maloney ? " 

" Well, no," explained Maloney, " the miserable girl wore some 
kind of dark skirt, which indeed betrayed her to me — that and 
her hair, which, although it was tucked up, I could see the bright 
red in the moonlight ; but for the rest of her figure dressed as I 
tell you — a man's paletot, a wideawake hat, and smoking a cigar. 
She paraded up and down the pavement for some time, her hands 
in her pockets, her hat stuck on one side, and no more ashamed of 
herself, my dear, than any of us are now ! Indeed, the way she 
stared up at me was so offensive that I rose at last and shut down 
my window, and saw no more of the disgusting spectacle. We 
may form our own conclusions," sniff'ed Mrs Maloney, virtuously, 
— "we may form our own conclusions as to what should make a 
young girl assume such a disguise, and steal away from her father's 
house at midnight. Whatever Christian charity has bid me do 
hitherto, I feel my duty to society leaves me only one course no^v 
' — I shall treat Miss Archie Wilson with the hotomhar at once ; 
and I think every other well-conducted woman " — Captain Watei's's 
cigarette made him cough — " should do the same." 

Though Mrs Maloney had lived much abroad, her mastery of 


Frencli idiom was still precarious ; hence one of her favourite ex- 
pressions was that of treating people with the Jwtomhar, Avhich 
foncifal compound she einphasized much as she might have done 
the word tomahawk, or any other deadly weapon of attack. 

" But perhaps it was all done as a joke," hazarded the prettiest 
Miss Montacute, who was too young and innocent to be shocked. 
" When Tom's at home, Lizzie and I often dress up in his hat and 
coat — don't we, Lizzie ? " 

" Yes, but you don't go out into the streets in male dress, dear 
IMiss Montacute," put in old Gussy Marks persuasively. " Of that 
I am quite sure. This poor neglected child, Archie, possibly — 
possibly does these things in ignorance ; but still "—Gussy mused 
or pretended to muse— ''it is confirmatoiy of what I told you I 
had seen, Mrs O'Eourke, is it not 1 " 

"And what have you seen, Miss Marks?" inquired Captain 
Waters, when Mrs O'Eourke had croaked forth her Httle contri- 
bution of venom. " Don't let us lose one scrap of evidence against 
this unhappy and misguided young person." 

"My scrap of evidence, then," answered Gussy, growing sud- 
denly tart,—" my scrap of evidence, Captam Waters, is, that Archie 
goes out on these moonlight expeditions to meet Mr Durant, — 
nothing more." 

"To meet Mr Diu^ant?" repeated Waters, really opening his 
eyes now, and flinging the end of his cigarette into the sea — "the 
man who is stajdng at my hotel ? " 

There was something to be interested in at last. Kot a wretched 
little girl's reputation, but the possibility of detaining in Morteville 
a young man so excessively fond of staking high, and so excess- 
ively ignorant of all the finer intricacies of ecarte, as Mr Durant. 
They had played together now for five nights ; and after deducting 
the necessary loss incurred by Waters on the first night of the 
match, Mr Durant was about one hundred and twenty poimds to 
the bad. What a deics ex onacliind it would be if any little flirt- 
ation should turn up and make the young man linger about this 
place ! As the vision of Archie's fair girlish face rose before him, 
Captain Waters felt himself quite soften. Poor pretty little thing ! 
If these old women's stupid scandals were to get about and reach 
the father's ears, the whole thing might be stopped at once. 


"I happen to know that Diu^ant has been quietly at home every 
midnight since he has been in the place, Miss Marks. I don't 
know whether ^Miss Archie Wilson went out to meet him or not." 

iN'ov/, Gussy Marks hated Captain Waters from her soul : first, 
because, following a fixed rule he had in regard of ugly (penniless) 
women, he never looked in her face when he spoke to her ; se- 
condly, because his superior powers of pleasing had been the means 
of ousting her from more than one Morteville house, where before 
his advent she had been wont to'^drop in, as of right, at dinner- 

"You may have any opinions you like, Captain Waters, but 
you will not prevent me, and others with -me, from haying oiu's- 
If Archie Wilson talks to IMr Durant for an hour together over 
the back-garden wall of a morning, as I have seen with my own 
eyes, it is not very scandalous, I think, to assume that she attires 
herself as Mrs Maloney saw her do, to meet Mr Diu^ant at night." 

" Over the back-garden Avail ? Miss Wilson talks to this jNIr 
WTiat-d'ye-call-him over the back-garden wall 1 Well, really now 
we may call it a Providence that the whole thing has come to 
light ; and just before this public ball, where we shall all meet her 
too ! In these foreign places I say one can't be too careful as to 
the women one associates with." And Mrs Maloney cast up her 
eyes to heaven, as though rendering a mental thanksgiving for the 
•providential escape she had had in the way of moral contamination. 
" I don't 'say that I'd go so far as to cut Mr Wilson, as he calls 
himself ; but as to "the girl Archie, I do say that it's a duty we 
owe to society and to each other 'to — " 

" Good-night, Mrs Maloney," cried a girl's voice close beside her 
ear. " I hope, now, you're none the worse for sitting up so late 
last night. It was lovely in the moonlight, wasn't it 1 " 

A child's face, — bright, saucy, unfearing, — looked back at Mrs 
Maloney for a moment ; then the girl broke into a laugh, — a clear 
merry laTigh, — that startled more than one group of foreigners out 
of their conventional decormn, and Miss Archie Wilson disap- 
peared in the crowd. 

Eor one minute the people who had been tallying of her did 
show sufficient humanity to be guiltily silent. Then, " She has 
gone down to the sands, — she has gone alone to the sands ! " cried 


old Giissy Marks, who was the first to rally. ^' And a gentleman 
with her, — yes, a gentleman with her ! " 

All the group of friends turned their heads eagerly in the direc- 
tion Gussy pointed out, and by the aid of the brilliant moonlight 
detected a slight childish figure running down one of the flights of 
steps that connects the Morte^ille pier with the sands. A minute 
later, another— and a man's figure was at her side ; and all the 
heads were bent eagerly forward in anticipation of the dreadful 
and notorious scene they were about to witness. But Morteville 
to-night was destined to be disappointed of a scandal ; and a sort 
of groan passed through the group of friends as they discovered 
their mistake.- The mian proved to be no other than Archie Wil- 
son's father. 

"A blind!" cried Mrs Maloney, mth the resolute tone of a 
Christian determined not to be done out of her righteous indigna- 
tion. " Archie Wilson put on her new hat to walk on the sands 
with her father! Wait till midnight, and look through my win- 
dow, if you want to judge of Miss Wilson's innocence ! To remind 
me to my very face of what I'd seen ! Dark as it^is, she must 
have seen that I treated her with the Jiotomhar that she deserved. 
Little wretch ! " 

And then the company breaking up into couples, as' they re- 
sumed their walk, the characters of each other, as well as of Miss 
Archie Wilson, began to be demolished. 

Let us leave them here, and for ever, to their work ! 



Will no one write for us the Lives of Unsuccessful ^len ? The 
brothers of the poets, the first cousins of the painters, the god- 
mothers and godfathers of the novelists,— enterprising writers of 
biography have shown us these and all other relations of great men 


from their cradles to their ^graves. And still the human beings 
nearer to greatness still, — tlie men who have not succeeded, — find 
no historian. 

''He started with eighteen-pence in his pocket," we are ac- 
customed to read of the one successful man out of ten thousand. 
" Eighteen-pence in his pocket, a habit of early rising, strict re- 
ligious principles, and a taste for arithmetic ; and died worth half 
a million." All right for him, — the one sheep garnered into the 
great fold of success ; but what accoimt have we of the rest of the 
shadowy host for whose prudence, whose patience, whose religious 
principles, whose arithmetic even, no market ever came 1 If there 
is any law that governs the secret of human success, we have 
signally failed as yet in discovering its mode of operation. Patience 
certainly goes a very short way towards attaining it — the great 
majority of men and women seem to be intensely patient at failure 
during all their wasted sixty or seventy years of life ; and as to 
great ability, look at some of the best-paid, and yet the shallowest 
charlatans in the world's history ! 

Some years ago a Frenchman wrote a book, showing that unsuc- 
cessful men of ability are destined by every law, moral and phy- 
siological, to become the progenitors of successfid. ones. Given a 
father whose life has been spent in a series of intellectual failures, 
and you will most likely see a son in whom these inchoate tendencies 
shall assume the shape men worship as success. All the arguments 
of the book I have forgotten, but I must confess the Frenchman's 
theory, true or false, struck me at the time as a pleasant one. It 
assigns to us some use, — to us who have invested our little capital 
to our best, who Jiave striven as manfully as the most successful 
among them aU, and yet have made no mark upon the age. We 
represent the sterile year when nature is readjusting her forces, the 
field which next spring shall be green with corn, the orchard which 
next autumn shall be bowed down with fruit. More consolatory, 
at least, to view our failure so, — as the result of physical laws out 
of our reach at present ; more consolatory, I say, to believe there is 
an average of successful men to each fifty years, and that it is ac- 
cident whether our fathers' failures are stepping-stones for us, or 
our own stepping-stones for our sons. Looking over our chest of 
unpublished MSS., or our gallery of unsold pictures, or our scheme 


for national defence (that the government was mad enoiif>-h to 
reject), or our electric-telegraph im^^rovement, \yhich broke down 
only through one error (rectified next week by Smith, who made 
twenty-five thousand pounds), — shall we not face these our past 
failures with better temper if we take the Frenchman's view of the 
subject, than if, as all biographies of successful Britons seem- to bid 
us do, we believe that w^e have failed because we deserved to fail] 
We have had our dreams of greatness, — we have thought of inven- 
tions that should benefit mankind, have kno"wn bitter wintry morn- 
ings and sidtry noons, have sacrificed and suffered and come to 
grief. But that we have missed the palm is no absolute reason 
why the saints who do wear it should deny that our feet once 
stood, even as theirs did, beside the stake. 

The Honourable Frederick Lovell, at present known in Morte- 
ville under the name of "Wilson, was an instance of thorough 
painstaking, patient, and absolute failure. In an age when one 
hundred and nine thousand copies of the second Solomon's poems 
have been sold, why, I ask myself, did Frederick Lovell's never 
meet with success? They were commonplace, verbose, afi'ected, 
strained, moral, and enormously bulky. And still the second 
Solomon was taken, and poor Frederick Lovell left. 

" To be a poet," says INfr Carlyle, " a man must have an insight 
into the eternal veracities." Frederick Lovell for years had never 
wearied of repeating this axiom and applying it to himself Do 
you understand its meaning, reader ? Do I understand it ? We 
think we do, perhaps ; and Frederick Lovell thought he did. Wlio 
shall say what mysterious flaw in his power of judgment made him 
to err so egregiously? Where are we to draw the border-line that 
confined him, as it confines hundreds of painstaking men like him, 
to such intolerable mediocrity? Until Macaulay told the world 
that Eobert Montgomery's writings bore the same relation to poetry 
which a Turkish carpet bears to a picture, the world looked upon 
that arch-impostor as one of the master-spirits of the age. But the 
wildly-inverted metaphors, the quivering fire-clouds, the racing 
hurricanes, the galloping white waves, the earth dashing into 
eternity, of Frederick Lovell scarcely found a critic who would 
condemn them. And here and there in his writings were thoughts 
— unstolen ones too— to which all the Montgomerys, all the second 


Solomons, could never have given utterance. The man way not a 
poet ; yet on rare occasions you felt that he came painfully, pathe- 
tically near to one. Fools and wise men are not two separate 
nations, with a sea rolling between them, but neighbours each of a 
common border-land ; and in this border-land are many whose 
nationality it is sometimes hard to decide upon. Frederick Lovell 
possessed many gifts that certainly put him far away from the 
category of fools. He was laborious to a degree ; he loved his art, 
or what to him stood for art : he honestly strove to study nature 
and .reproduce her, both with his pen and brush — for the poor 
fellow painted pictures as bulky as his poems. He was as im- 
measurably remote from being a fool as he was from being an artist 
— nay, further, I would fondly like to think. And still, looking at 
his pictures and reading his verses, the human heart that loved 
him most — a child's — knew that they were not, and never would 
be, works of art. All the ingredients were there, like the colours 
in the Turkey carpet; the glow of genius, that should fuse and 
moidd them into one harmonious whole, was utterly and for ever 

In his social relations IMr Lovell had failed as much as in his 
artistic ambition. He started in life, as there seemed every pro- 
bability of his ending it, with an invincible repugnance to accept 
that belief which most men, wise or fools, have mastered by the 
age of nine, namely, that two and two make four. Money, or the 
saving or the utilizing of money, nay, the enjoyment of money, 
seemed a subject altogether beyond Frederick Lovell's grasp. On 
his twenty-first birthday he came into twenty thousand pound sj on 
his twenty-fifth, five thousand out of this sum remained. He had 
not been very vicious or very extravagant, he thought. He bad 
travelled about, and bought pictures, and enjoyed artistic society, 
and seen his friends at his table ; and it was a very great pity that 
so little could be done upon a moderate income. AVhat would it 
be best to do mth the five thousand poimds that yet remained ? 
Marry, perhaps. 

"When any excessively poor man desires to multiply his poverty 
by two, there is always some excessively poor young woman ready 
to assist him in working out this little sum of social arithmetic. Just 
at this juncture Frederick Lovell might, if he had possessed oidi- 


nary sense, have settled himself with bread to his mouth for life ; his 
first cousin, the Lady Olivia Carstairs, with fifteen thousand pounds 
of her own, and only five years older than liimself, being willing 
to become Iris wife. He told his family he would do everything 
they all thought right; and promised the following Monday to 
make Lady Olivia a formal offer of marriage. But on the Sunday that 
intervened, a girl with long eye-lashes sat two pews before him in 
church, and Frederick Lovell thought how pleasant it would be to 
go and Kve in Eome and study and become an artist in earnest, 
with such a face as that to haunt his painting-room and inspire 
his dreams. 

He married her ; went to Eome and studied ; and at the end 
of a year found himself a widower, in the jDossession of a little 
daughter, three thousand pounds capital, and a great many art 
studies, that no one but himself thought much of, in his painting- 

The marriage — what there was of it — had turned out more 
happily than most marriages in which the first foundations are 
long eye-lashes. Both of them had off'ended the whole of their 
relations by marrying each other ; and no letters, save Mr Lovell's 
old bills, had ever followed them from England; and they had 
had no society ; and had spent a great deal more money than they 
could afford. But they had been happy. Happy for twelve 
months, — fifty-two weeks, — three-hundred and sixty -five days! 
Had Frederick Lovell done so very badly with his life, I wonder ? 

^' And I would run away with you, just the same again, Fred," 
the girl said on her death-bed, with her arms round his neck, and 
the child, a fortnight old, lying beside her. "Yes, I would, if I 
knew this was to be the end of it. We should have grown more 
economical in time, and you would have been a great artist, dear, 
— I know it. "Will you be so -udthout me, I wonder, Fred 1 " 

1^0 ; that he never could be. But if he had had in him the 
materials of a greater man, perhaps he would not have wept for 
her loss so grievously and so long. Grief, in the true artistic 
nature, embodies itself, perforce, like every other emotion, in art ; 
and, depend upon it, as soon as Goethe began to seek for con- 
solation in " Egmont," the composition of that marvellous poem 
worked off some at least of the edge of his passion for Lili. Fred' 



crick Lovell had sufficient concentrativeiiess to suffer more pro- 
foundly than common men, but not force of vnll enough to raise 
himself, as men following a genuine vocation do, above his miseiy. 
He wandered about in Italy with the child, spending his money 
and doing no work, for a great many months j then came back to 
England, and thought he might as well read for orders and be a 

It was the best resolution he ever made in his life ; for there 
were several nice little Kvings in the Lovell family, and Lady 
Olivia, unappropriated still, had an immense love for clergymen 
and parish domination. As a priest he could have worked what 
stood to him for poetry into very good sermons, and have painted 
altar-pieces, and stained glass for windows — the poor fellow was 
very High Church, and quite earnest and sincere in his religious 
beliefs — and possibly have succeeded in imposing all his labours as 
works of high art ujDon an agricultural population. But when do 
the round men fall into the round grooves of life 1 Essayists and 
reviewers hold livings; and men like Frederick Lovell paint 
pictiu-es and aspire to understand the Eternal Veracities. On the 
very eve of respectability, his ordination over, and an encouraging 
letter from Lady Olivia lying on his table, some wandering artist 
he had kno^vn abroad came to \dsit Mr Lovell in his London lodg- 
ings : and two days later he was a Bohemian on the face of the 
earth again. His friend had described Dresden and the com- 
munity of artists there, and the facilities for study and the cheap- 
ness of living, in terms too glowing for Frederick Lovell's heart to 
withstand; and in a fortnight he was installed, with his little 
daughter, on a third story in the Dresden Market-place, really for 
once living cheap, and happier than he had yet felt since liis mfe's 

He could not ^vrite poetry ; but I think Mr Lovell's life at this 
period was almost an unwritten poem. It was an absurdity for the 
man to devote himself to an ambition he could never attain, to 
spend his days in making copies which any student of eighteen in 
the Government schools could have done better, and his nights in 
-writing tomes of verses that no publisher would ever accept. Still 
over aU one intense, imselfish, never-wearying love shone, and made 
the life noble. N"o woman ever tended her first-born child more 


tenderly than did Mr Lovell his little motherless daughter. She 
was two years old now, — a sturdy, forward .child j already walking 
and tallying in her fasliion, and perfectly cognisant that the great 
awkward male creature she lived vatli was, at once, her *' Josh" 
and her humble slave. When she hurt herself in any way, she 
beat him. Mr Lovell was an immense angTdar man, over six feet 
high. ^Yhen he refused her anything, she drooped her head im- 
mediately, and pretended to be sick ; an appeal that never failed 
to bring him to abject and instant submission to her wishes. 
It was Miss Lovell's habit to wake between five and six in the 
morning ; and Mr Lovell, who sat up habitually late at night 
writing or drawing, was constantly roused from his bed by a pair 
of tiny, but neither irresolute nor weak, hands at this hour, be- 
cause "Artie de Mark sehen -will," as the child in her broken 
jpatois worded it. He never rebelled after a certain morning when 
the child had cried herseK white and sick at being refused ; and 
the good German, mves, early abroad at their own marketings, 
would look with wet eyes after the English widower with his 
black clothes and solemn face, and Archie in his arms, all aflush 
with delight, and maldng her slave stop before every fresh basket 
of fruit that they passed. 

One day, when the child was nearly three years old, her hands 
and face were fever-parched, and for the first time in her life she 
refused to eat. The solitary German servant of the household 
threw up her apron over her face, and said the worthy Lord was 
going to take the child back to HimseK. She had seen two chil- 
dren of her sister's in brain-fever, and, at first, they too had flushed 
faces, and refused food like the Fraulein, and both of them died. 

In an agony of mute horror Mr Lovell rushed away to the 
English physician then living in Dresden, and conveyed to him by 
looks, rather than words, that his child was dying. 

"Hangs her head — won't eat — skin hof?" said the doctor. 
"Mr Lovell, the child is sickening for the measles. HaK the 
children in Dresden have got measles in its mildest form. Couldn't 
have it at a better time of the year. Ko Englishwoman to be with 
her 1 Yf eU, let us see now whom you could have, — Miss Curtis 1 
You don't know her ? — no matter. Miss Curtis is always ready to 
nurso anybody. I'll get her to go to you before night." 



By night ]\Iiss Curtis was at Archie's hedside, where she re- 
mained for a fortnight. The child was very ill indeed, and wilful, 
as all strong impetuous children are, under her sufferings j and 
when Mr Lovell, helpless in his tortures of fear, watched Miss 
Curtis hathing his idol's hot eyes, or sponging her hot- hands, and 
soothing her in those thousand ways with which only a woman's 
hand can soothe a suffering child, he felt that he could have fallen 
down and kissed the very hem of her dingy old black-silk gown. 

As Archie got better, she cluug tenaciously to her new friend. 
Miss Curtis knew lots of things that Arcliie did not know. Miss 
Curtis could deftly create a bird, enclosed within bars and sitting 
on a perch, out of a sheet of paper. Miss Curtis could paint a boy 
on one side of a card and a gate on the other, and when you 
twisted the card round by means of a piece of silk, the boy was 
sitting astride on the gate — whistling, Miss Curtis averred, and 
Archie believed; could make life-hke sweeps out of one of Mr 
Lovell's old waistcoats, with teeth stitched in white silk, and real 
brushes, cut off the cat's back, in their hands. 

" What shall I ever do without Miss Cui^tis ? " Mr Lovell thought 
one day, as he watched her sitting beside Archie darning through 
a great basket of the child's socks — a branch of domestic economy 
much neglected by the servant-girl — and keeping her amused with 
stories at the same time. " There's scarlatina, chicken-pox, whoop- 
ing-cough, and God knows what besides that the baby may have ; 
how am I to bring her through it all alone 1 Would she ever 
have struggled through these dreadful measles without Miss Cur- 
tis to nurse her 1 " 

Youth, beauty, money would, I verily believe, not have made 
Frederick Lovell unfaithful to his buried love. He was not un- 
faithful to her now. For her child's sake he married j\Iiss Curtis. 
She was a plain little dowdy woman, a good many years older 
than himself, a lady by birth and education, -^dth eighty pounds a- 
year to hve on ; and when Mr Lovell asked her to be his wife, 
she could really scarcely gasp out " yes," in her bewilderment and 

"You will find her a treasure — a treasure, my dear sir," re- 
marked her relative the English chaplam, with whom till now she 
had been living, and who was naturally joyful at transferring her 


to otlier hands. "A good wife cometli of the Lord. Would it 
be requiring too mucli that my dear cousin's little money should 
be strictly settled upon herself?" 

It was a long time before Mr Lovell could become accustomed 
to the sj)ecial seal of Divine approbation that had been set upon 
him. He loved beauty in women, and Elizabeth his wife was 
plain and wizened ; he loved silence, and she babbled, chiefly of 
duchesses, from morning till night ; he loved solitude, and he was 
never alone. Only, as years wore on, and as Archie did take all 
manner of childish complaints — through all of which her step- 
mother niu'sed her faithfully, and as Archie grew to be a great 
girl, and Mrs Lovell, to the best that was in her, educated her 
and made her work at her needle and attended her in her walks 
abroad, and saw to the lengthening of her frocks, and told her 
what was right and what was wrong for young girls to do, Mr 
Lovell ceased to ask himself if he had done wrong in marrying 
again. He could not have brought up the girl without a woman 
of some kind to help him ; and companions or governesses would 
have required a salary, and very likely have struck for marriage just 
as Archie was beginning to like them. And besides these consider- 
ations — love, and all pertaining to love, wholly and for ever gone 
— Mr Lovell, in his mania for art, possessed a triple armour 
against all the small annoyances of life, even a second wife like 
his wife Elizabeth. 

A mania is a pleasure raised within the sacred regions of the 
ideal, and so put beyond the reach of common loss or disappoint- 
ment. Powerless to create himself, the faculty of admiration — the 
faculty, nay, let me say the rare genius of comprehension, the sole 
gift which can enable an inferior man to stand at the side of great 
artists — was Mr Lo veil's. 

As years wore on, and as the fact of his own want of success 
became just a part of liis every-day life, he only grew more and more 
confirmed in his admiration for the success of others, and gradually, 
a transition not uncommon in men of this character, into a dealer 
on a small scale in different works of art. 

On leaving Dresden, when Archie was about six or seven years 
of age, he returned once more to Rome ; and here he had his head- 
quarters until about two years before the present time. He believed 


himself all tliis time to be an unliappy man. He knew that the 
blue Eoman sky shone over the six feet of earth where all the best 
part of himself lay buried. He knew that the present Mrs Lovell 
was feebly irritating to him ; that he had alienated himseK utterly 
from every tie at home ; that the age was passing on, while he 
neither with pen nor brush had made the faintest indentation upon 
it ; finally, that year by year he seemed to grow more hopelessly 
foolish in regard of money, both in the getting and the spending. 
But still in that soft climate, and ever pursuing his own art-studies 
or his beloved hricbracquerie, living a Bohemian life among the 
Bohemians of all the Italian cities in turn, his temperament was 
too essentially an artistic one to allow him to be a very miserable 

''Third son of Lord Lovell," his wife would say, when deploring 
her husband's evil ways T\ath any sympathizing Englishwoman 
who came across her path— ''third son of Lord Lovell, and con- 
nected on his mother's side with the Carstairs ; and several de- 
lightful livings in the family, if he had only chosen to keep to his 
profession. And here we live, my dear madam, wandering like 
felons among Papists and foreigners, and all his beautiful literary 
talents, that might have won him a name in the pulpit, thrown 
away. If Archie had only been a boy, as they christened her, one 
of these livings might be kept in the family yet." 

" Yes, if I had only been a boy," Archie would chime in at tliis 
point of her stepmother's lamentations, — " if I were only a boy, I'd 
be an artist, like what papa meant to be ; or an actor, or musician, 
or something of that land ; and make a name for us all yet." 

The poor child had been brought up among artists and musicians, 
and things of that kind ; and her ideas of reputation, as of a great 
many other subjects, were much more artistic than conventional 




Just as the Morteville gossips were returning from their evening 
anjusement on the j)ier, two young men, Englishmen, issued forth 
arm-in-arm from the Couronne cV Argent' the principal hotel of 
the place. 

The yoimger of these men was Gerald Durant, Captain Waters's 
"good tiling" at ecarte, the admirer that Morteville tongues had 
ascribed to Miss Archie Wilson ; the elder was Mr Eobert Den- 
nison, his first cousin, now on his way back to London after a 
fortnight in Paris, and at the present moment trying, or seeming 
to try, to persuade Gerald Durant to start with him to-morrow 
morning by the first boat for Eolkestone. 

'' If there was anything to make you stop in this disgusting hole 
I woidd not ask you, Gerald. But as by your own account you 
don't know a creature to speak to, and are losing twenty poimds 
regularly to that scoundrel Waters at ecarte, I can't see why you 
should be obstinate in spoiling my party for me." 

Gerald Durant hesitated. " I believe I should do better to go," 
he said, after a minute or two; "but as to my absence spoiling 
your party, the thing's absurd. Markliam or Drury would come 
in a moment, and are as ready, either or both of them, to lose 
their money at loo as I am ; anybody in the world you like to 
ask, in short— except Sholto." 

"Markham is out of town; and Lady Lavinia, as you know, 
never lets that wretched little Drury for a second out of her sight ; 
for Sholto I have no taste — I never had a taste for children. As 
to losing your money, my dear boy" — Dennison's manner grew 
genially warm and pleasant — "I don't exactly see the point of the 
remark. The last time we played loo at my chambers you may 
remember you landed more than seventy pounds of my money." 

" Well, weU, I'll go then," said Gerald, in the tone of a man 
who would rather do anything than be bored to explain why he 
didn't do it. ^' It will be better so, I daresay ; but I think if you 


had seen the face which has been the cause of my lingering on 
here, you would better ajDiDreciate my intention of going away." 

" Cause ! There is a pretty face in it then, after all 1 " 

" Do you think I should poison myself daily at a Morteville table- 
d'hote for the pleasure of losing twenty pounds a night to Captain 
Waters at ecarte 1 " replied G-erald. " Of course there is a pretty 
face in it ; and of course if I stayed I should come to grief, as I 
always do." 

: "As you always doj" remarked Dennison with a laugh. 
" Gerald, by the way that reminds me — although it really is get- 
ting no laughing matter — what is Maggie Hall doing ? I have been 
wanting to ask you this long time. Sir John and all of them are 
beginning to feel their position awkward." 


''Maggie Hall, the pretty dairy-maid from Heathcotes. My 
dear boy, why should you try to have secrets with me ? " but his 
tone was not thoroughly collected as he spoke. 

'' I think you have asked me about Maggie HaU before, Eobert," 
answered Gerald, coldly; "and I told you then that I knew no- 
thing whatever of her. I never had anything to say to Maggie 
save in the way of friendshij) ; and you, better than any other 
man, ought to know it." 

And he dropped his friend's arm — they were at the entrance to 
the pier now, — and walking a step or two aside, gazed intently 
away across the moonlit sands. In the far distance the shadows 
of two figui'es~a man and a girl — cut the path of rippling light 
that fell across the water and Gerald Durant's face. He knew 
them to be Archie and her father in a second, and began to vacil- 
late again. How fair the pure girlish face must be looking now ! 
If he waited he could easily contrive to meet her somewhere on 
their way home, steal a word half in play with her as he had done 
before, and ask her to meet him once more (every mistake in 
Gerald's life was prefaced by those fatal words, " once more ") at 
that broken garden-wall to-morrow. '\Yhy should he give way 
always to Dennison ? He knew very well that he was wanted as 
a fifth and as a loser at loo ; that Dennison cared no more for his 
society than he did for the society of any stranger lie might see for 
the fiiat time, who would btake his money imcalciolatingly. He 


had taken Dennison's advice times enoiigli iii his life, and when- 
ever he had done so had repented it. Besides, the easy assump- 
tion of superiority in his cousin's last remark had nettled Gerald 
excessively. Clever as Eobert Dennison was, he overshot his 
mark sometimes. Gerald Durant was his inferior in will and in 
brain ; but Gerald was the last man living to like to have the 
sense of his oami inferiority thrust upon him. Show the hand of 
iron for a moment, and these weak natures rebel from the touch 
that they woidd be unconscious of under the silken glove. 

'' The steamer starts at eleven sharp," remarked Dennison pre- 
sently ; "you will be able for once to get up early, Gerald, eh?" 

" Well, yes, I daresay I shall — if I go," answered Gerald ; and 
then he took out his cigar-case, struck a light, and leaning lazily 
against the parapet of the pier, began to smoke. 

Dennison came beside him and laid his hand kindly on his 
shoulder. " I see how it all is, Gerald," he remarked carelessly, 
" and I shall say no more about it. Come or stay just as suits 
yoiu' fancy in the morning. Sir John 'vvill be glad enough to see 
you when you do come, you may be very sure, The poor old man 

is hotter than ever about your standing for L j and there is no 

doubt now as to the nearness of the coming election. Parliament 
has already got nearer to the end of its prescribed term than 
usual ; and if through any extraordinary vitality, or to serve any 
special policy of the premier, it should survive the autumn, next 
May for certain must see it legally terminated. "What a career is 
before you, Gerald," he added, affectionately, "if you could only 
bring youi'self to care about it in earnest ! — an heiress as devoted 
as Lucia destined for yoil from her cradle ; an ujicle as lenient as 
Sir John, bent, whether you will or no, upon bringing you into 
public life." And while he talked thus Mr Dennison laid his 
hand within his companion's arm, and gradually led him back into 
good-temper — no very difficult matter vdth. a man so facile as 
Gerald — as they strolled slowly onward down the pier. 

Let me speak to you of these two men's appearance as they walk 
together thus. Of Eobert Dennison's first. A stranger seeing 
them in any position side by side would say that Mr Dennison 
must take precedence in all things, even to the chronicling of the 
colour of his eyes and the length of his whiskei-s. His whiskers 


were, I believe, what struck you most when you looked at him. 
They were irreproachable whiskers, — ^jet black, without one brown 
or red hair among them ; mathematically corrrect in growth ; long 
glossy, thick. Men of weak, frivolous character are prone to vacil- 
lation in the fasliion of their wliiskers or beards. Six months in 
Egypt, a year in Vienna, will upset all the foregone conclusions of 
these purposeless creatures' lives, and send them back to London 
regenerate. But fi'om the time when Mr Dennison first attained 
man's estate till now — and he was past thu^ty — the cut and length 
of his whiskers had remained inviolate. All young women in the 
housemaid line of life who looked at Robert Dennison pronounced 
him a very fine gentleman indeed. Such critics are not always 
bad judges. He was a very fine gentleman; over six feet in his 
stockings, broad-shouldered, deep-voiced, large-limbed. His head 
■was of the bullet-shape, more often seen in Frenchmen than our- 
selves ; his complexion sallow-olive, liis nose small, his teeth short, 
square, and white almost to singularity. So far the catalogue reads 
favourably. I^Tow for the features which really constitute a human 
face (the rest are but adjuncts), — the lips and eyes. Mr Dennison 
had lips that made some fastidious natures shrink away with name- 
less repugnance only to look at them : full lips, dark in colour, set 
as granite; the under one sKghtly projecting, and supported by a 
heavy coarse-hewn chin. And his eyes were of the worst hue 
a man's eyes can ever be — black. Through all the infinite grada- 
tions of other colours, — through brown, or gray, or green, or (the 
colour for the gods) blue, — the human soul, whatever there may be 
of it, shows forth. Only with these black inscrutable orbs does a 
man look at his fellow-creatures as through a mask. Eobert Den- 
nison's eyes were incapacitated, simply by their colour, from gi\'ing 
any softer exjDression. The broadest sunlight could scarcely evoke 
a tawny ray from their sombre depths. If you looked at them 
with closest scrutiny, you could never discern the pupil from the 
iris; and 'tis precisely in this, — in the shifting colour, in the 
quick reflection of light, in the sudden dilatation or contraction of 
tlie pupn, — that all expression of passion exists. Those who. had 
seen Dennison under the influence of rage — a rare occurrence with 
him — asserted that his eyes could take a red liuid light, the 
reveis© ©f agreeable to look at. At all other times they served 


him, as he was wout in his genial manner to confess, better than 
any other pair of eyes in the world could have done — they told 
no secrets of their master. To an arclibisliop or an orange-girl, to 
a judge upon the bench or a beggar, those eyes {occM neri, fieri e 
muti) would have looked "vvith precisely the same hard unflinching 
expression. And Mr Dennison was quite right : they suited liim. 
Gerald Durant was a slight, boyish-looking man of five-and- 
twenty, with hair of the bright chestnut colour you see surround- 
ing Raphael's softest faces ; a fair complexion, that flushed like a 
girl's as he spoke ; and long silky flaxen moustache and whiskers. 
When he was without his hat (he had taken it off just now, as ho 
stood watching Archie and her father upon the distant sands), the 
first thing you noticed in him was his beautiful brow. For a 
moment — until you saw it was a woman's beauty, not a man's — 
you would have called that forehead, with its low-growing hair, its 
delicate mouldings, its marble whiteness, intellectual. For a 
moment, then, you saw the absence of all the ruggedness, aU the 
force that in a man is intellect. In his youth, a man with a head 
like tliis will give promise of great things, and at five-and-thirty 
he will be living in a villa at Eichmond stiU. His eyes were 
gray ; great speaking eyes, that softened and changed colour if a 
woman took his hand, or a burst of music smote his ear. His nose 
and mouth were of the cast Vandyke has taught us to identify with 
our weakest race of kings ; and his chin — at once the characteristic, 
the index of every face — was characterless. For the rest, his 
make, although sHght, was far from effeminate. Intense desire of 
excitement was Gerald Durant's master-passion ; and he was wise 
enough to know that field-sports, alternating with the life of cities, 
are the most epicurean sort of excitement that a civilized man can 
take. As a boy, he had been stroke-oar of one of the boats and 
captain of the eleven at Eton : in later years he had been openly 
called the boldest rider to hounds in her Majesty's Guards. And 
any man who is a good rider, and who can handle an oar well, v^l 
have his chest well developed. His graceful hands were far' too 
brown and manly-looking to allow a suspicion of dandyism, and his 
dress was plain and English almost to affectation. At the present 
moment (and while Eobert Dennison, with a high hat, lavender 
gloves, swell boots^ and ixock-coat,- looked ready for a wedding) 


Gerald was in a brown velveteen morning suit, a spun-silk shirt, 
a Tyrolean hat, and gloveless. " The Guards only dress when they 
are on duty," he had answered, when Dennison had chaffed him 
as to his style of costume. "In Bond Street I do what you are 
doing now ; at all other times I suit myself." 

And noting what the undress really was, — how becoming in its 
picturesque Bohemianism, how studied in every detail of its seem- 
ing carelessness, — ]\Ir Dennison had smiled, but not with his lips, 
at the answer. All the weakness of Gerald Durant's character lay 
in it j and nothing yielded Mr Dennison more intense satisfaction 
than analyzing any new trait of weakness in the men he called his 

Towards the middle of the pier they were joined by Waters, who 
had freed himself from his Morteville associates the moment he saw 
the two Englishmen approaching. Dennison had already made 
his acquaintance that day at the table-d'hote, and began talking to 
him at once with the kindly tone of encoui'agement which for some 
years past it had been his habit to show to all the men or women 
who preyed upon his cousin Gerald. 

" For a few weeks this must be an amusing life to lead, Captain 
Waters, especially to any one who makes cosmopolitan human* 
nature his study, as I have no doubt you do. I have been on the 
pier twenty minutes, and have already seen queerer specimens of 
Britons — male and female — than I ever did during the last fort- 
night on the Boulevards ; and that is saying a good deal." 

*'Well, they certainly are a tolerably shady lot," answered 
Waters, with a shrug of his shoulders ; " the residents in the place 
especially. People a shade too bad in character for the Channel 
Islands — and without ready-money enough to take them to Flor- 
ence — settle down in Morteville ; ^nd a pretty subsidiary stratum 
they make. The fun is to see them pulling each other to pieces. 
Women without a shi^ed of reputation between them sitting in 
judgment on a little girl like this Archie Wilson, as I have heard 
old O'Rourke, Maloney, and Company doing during the last half 

At the name of Archie, Gerald Durant turned his face quickly 
towards Waters, and Robert Dennison noted the gesture. 

" Who is O'Rourke, and what is Archie, Captain Waters ? " he 


asted. " I have rather a fancy when I travel of picking up little 
everyday bits of watering-place scandal." 

" O'Eourke is a decently-successful fifth-class adventuress, who 
manages to keep herseK at the head of the Morteville society. 
Archie is the daughter of an uncommonly shady Englishman, 
called Wilson, who has been living here for the last year ; she is 
the prettiest girl in the place ; and divides her time equally be- 
tween running about on the trottoir and smoking cigarettes at an 
open window late of an evening ; a very nice little girl, in short. 
Nothing but laziness has made me neglect her up to the present 

And Captain "Waters smiled significantly. He was implying 
even a blacker falsehood than he told. Archie Wilson's time was 
not divided between the trottoir and the consumption of tobacco, 
although the girl did occasionally walk about the Morteville streets, 
and in the course of her life had pretended to smoke about half-a- 
dozen of her OAvn father's cigarettes. On Captain Waters she would 
have looked (as he knew) with about as much favour as on one of 
the waiters at the Couronne d' Argent. But what is a trifling state- 
ment involving a yoimg girl's fame to a gentleman of his profession 
in the prosecution of business 1 Gerald Durant must be detained 
at Morteville, and according to his lights he (Waters) was doing 
his best to detain him there. 

" And what opitiion does the Morteville world pass upon this 
young person 1 " Durant asked, after a moment or two. " Do they 
hit her harder than you do. Waters j or are the trottoir and the 
tobacco-smoke the worst things that can be brought against her 1 " 

" Oh, as to that," cried Waters, jauntily, but he did not 
thoroughly understand Durant's tone, " if you come to facts, I 
daresay the little girl is about the honestest of the whole lot. She 
runs about alone all day long, and makes eyes at all the men she 
meets ; but what can you expect from a child brought up in such 
a way as she is, and in such places as these ? " 

" And she is handsome, doubtless ! " suggested Dennison ; *^ as 
all the other women fall foul of her." 

" Handsome '? Well, no. She'll be a very well-made woman — 
good hands and feet, and a fine waist, and all that ; but lanky at 
present, and sunburnt." 


" I differ ' from you entirely, Captain Waters," interrupted 
Gerald Durant. '^ I know Miss Wilson slightly ; and I think she's 
very handsome j one of the most handsome girls I ever saw in my 
life." • 

" Oh, I beg your pardon, Durant," cried Waters, laughing. He 
had a trick of calling men by their names at once, however stu- 
diously they gave him his title of " Captain " in return. " If I 
had known that you were an acquaintance of Mademoiselle Archie, 
I would have been more discreet. Well, she is a very pretty little 
girl, and not a bit faster, I daresay, although less careful, than her 
neighbours. Of course, as you have the pleasure of knowing Miss 
Wilson, you will stop for the public ball to-morrow night ? If you 
do, you should tell me now, and I wiU get you a ticket. JS'one by 
strict right are issued after to-day. — That is the time," he added 
carelessly to Dennison, " to see all our Morteville world at its best. 
If you care for seeing shady British nature in its full-dress, you 
ought to stay yourself and go to it." 

The hint was carelessly enough thrown out ; but it worked aa 
Waters hoped and intended it should work upon Gerald Durant. 
The fancy rose before him in a moment of Archie ; not a little 
girl running wild as he had seen her hitherto, but flushed, and 
radiant, and coquettish, in a light baU-dress— a woman, not a 
child. He felt the slight lithe figure yielding in his arms as he 
danced with her. He saw the mocking face turned up again with 
its bewitcliing nameless charm to his. What did it matter whether 
his cousin Lucia fretted a Kttle at his absence or not '? AVhat did 
it matter if, for a short time longer, he let things take their course 
as best they might, without let or hindrance of his? The in- 
toxication of a new fancy was in fact upon him. And it was no 
custom of Gerald Durant's to cast away the chance of any new 
emotion for the sake of graver and less pleasant interests. 

" You are sure about this ball on Tuesday, I suppose ? " he said 
to Waters when, half-an-hour later, they were separating at the 
entrance to the hotel. *'I mean, you are sure that all the English 
will be going to it." 

" I know that all the O'Rourke set will go," answered Waters ; 
" also Miss Wilson and her mother ; for I heard it discussed this 


*' Oh; well, you may get me a ticket for it, then. I believe I 
will stop and see the shady Britons in the full-dress that you 
speak of." 

" And I am to hear your excuses to Sir John and Lucia ? " re- 
marked Dennison, when Waters left them. '' Gerald, when will 
you cease, I wonder, to run about after every pair of foolish eyes 
that chance to meet you in the street ? " 

Durant looked up quickly at his cousin's face ; but its express- 
ion was more calmly unmoved than ever in the brilliant moonlight. 

" With so much at stake, my dear boy," he went on persua- 
sively, '* how can you allow another week to pass without show- 
ing yourself at home? I can assure you the time has past for 
looking upon Sir John's suspicions as a laughing matter. I had 
a letter from him the day before I left Paris, and really his fierce 
messages to you are — " 

" Matters that concern me, and me alone," interrupted Gerald, 
with his boyish laugh. " I can understand Sir John being savage 
under the combined influences of gout and of his own most 
ridiculous mistake ; but why should you be so careful about me, inon 
cousin? I can't hurt you, whatever I doj indeed, I've often 
thought what a pity it is I don't go utterly to the bad at once, and 
leave you to a quiet walk over. You're a much better man than 
I am in business ; and you've got settled political views, which 
constituents like ; and altogether you'd make a vastly steadier heir 
for Sir John than I ever shall. How about trying it on 1 I am 
going to stop here. Most probably I'll get into some mess or other 
with Mdlle Archie. How about your taking the initiative, and 
suggesting to the home-powers that Mr Eobert Dennison would 
be a much more fitting person to receive the intended honours 
than his scapegrace cousin, Gerald Durant ? It's worth thinking 
of, eh?" 

To have our own cherished intentions suddenly put into words 
by the man one purposes to wrong is not a pleasant experience. 
Eobert Dennison was neither weak nor sensitive, nor a conscien- 
tious man in the ordinary sense of the word ; but he was (like 
most men off" the boards of transpontine theatres) human ; and an 
answer came by no means fluently from his lips. 

" I — I am the last man living , my dear Gerald, — the last man 


living to supplant you with Sir John ; and as to Lucia, I believe 
our dislike for each other is tolerably mutual. What could put 
such a preposterous idea into your head 1 " 

..." Brune aux yeux bleus ! Why, I do believe it is Archie 
again," was Gerald's answer. '' Yes, there she goes, following the 
old man up from the pier. If the child hasn't a walk ! Eobert, 
tell me if you ever saw a better one among the handsomest women 
in Seville 1 ^Vh-J, from here you could swear to the foot she must 
have. 1^0 woman ever walks like that who hasn't a foot arched, 
small, and firm withal, like a Spanish woman's — 

* Si je vous le disais, pourtant, que je yous aime, 
Qui salt, brune aux yeux bleus, ee que vous en diriez ? ' 

I shall rim the risk at all events ; " and in another moment, but 
with an innocent, indolent air, not at all that of a human creature 
in pursuit of anything, Gerald Durant was following the steps, at 
about twenty yards* distance, of the two figures he had pointed 
out to Dennison. 

When he had progressed a few steps, he turned and saw that 
his cousin was still watching him. " Good-night, Eobert," he 
cried, cheerily ; " good-bye, if I don't see you again ; give my love 
to Lucia j and say I shall certainly be back at the end of the 

' Si je vous le disais qu'une douce folie 
A fait de moi votre ombre et m' attache a vos pieds ? ' " 

And he went on singing half-aloud De Musset's immortal song, 
— Lucia, his constituency, Sir Jolin, his debts, his hopes — everj^- 
tliing else forgotten — until he had followed Archie to within 
twenty yards of her own house. 



She was a tall slip of a girl, with a waist that you could span ; 
long-limbed, and with enough of childishness about her still to 
give her that nameless grace that never quite comes back to any 


woman in her full matiuity. In her hest black silk — the second 
dress she had had of .Tegulation length — and a bonnet, walking 
demurely by her father's side to church, Archie Lovell looked a 
grown-up young lady ; in her sailor-hat and gingham suit, running 
w^ild about the Morteville beach of a morning, she looked a child, 
and a very wicked child too. Her hair (that Mrs Maloney called 
red) was always, save under the Sunday bonnet, left to hang upon 
her shoulders, as girls of twelve wear it in England — Mr Lovell 
averring that it was a sin to let paddings, or pins, or artifice of 
any kind come near it ; and I think he was right. Now that lime- 
and lemon-juice blanche om^ women's hair, and that auricomus 
and other fluids bring it back to yellow or red, one gets sceptical 
on the subject of gold-tinted locks ; but Archie's were of a hue 
tliat all the artistes in London could never so much as imitate : 
nut-brown in shade, red-gold in sunshine, supple, plenteous, ex- 
qitisitely soft, rich, and "kiss-worthy," to use the word of some 
old poet, always. Her face was a charming one — sunburnt almost 
to the darkness of her hair, with coal-black pencilled brows, small 
nose, rather more inclining to retrousse than the girl herself liked ; 
a mouth too large for a heroine, but excellent for a woman — having 
white short teeth ; the perfection of colouring ; and that square 
cut about the corners of the lips that renders any mouth at once 
passionate and intellectual — the mouth of a poet. Her hands were 
browner ever than her face, but small, strong, and dehcately 
modelled ; and her eyes 1 — ah, here was the crowning fascination 
of the whole. With dark eyes Archie would have been a pretty 
sparkling brunette, probably — such a woman as you admire for an 
evening, and then lose among all the other women of the same 
colour in your memory ; but once see Archie Lovell's blue eyes 
shining from that brown face, and eyes and face sunk in on your 
remembrance for ever. They were blue to singularity, like some 
of those Italian eyes that occasionally startle you just on this side 
of the Apennines : sapphire-blue to their very depths, with crystal- 
clear iris ; and thick lashes — rich, black, and ending up, as you 
see sometimes on a young child. Could those eyes soften or fill 
with passion, or were exquisite form and colour all their beauty ? 
No one knew. Archie was a child till last Thin?sday ; and all the 
expressions her face had worn as yet had been intensely childish 


ones : rage, when anything vexed herself or her father ; pleasure 
over a new frock ; mischievous delight at "^ taking rises " out of 
her simple stepmother ; and saucy devil-may-carishness — (I have 
searched in vain for a loftier expression, but everything heroic is 
so out of place in speaking of Archie), — saucy devil-may-carish- 
ness towards the whole of the Anglo-lMorteville population — the 
female portion of it especially — at all times and seasons when she 
came across their path. 

Till last Thursday. Last Thursday she made the acquaintance 
of Gerald Durant. He was walking — bored, and trying to kill 
the hours that hung wearily before the boat sailed — along one of 
the back-streets of the to^vn, when suddenly he came upon the 
vision of Archie's face, — a vision destined to haunt his memory 
through many an after year. She was perched up, not in a wholly 
lady-like position, on a villanous broken wall that bounded the 
garden of their landlady's house ; no hat on, the wonderful hair 
hanging loose down her shoulders ; a striped blue-and- white shirt, 
confined round the waist by a strap like a boy's ; and a parapher- 
nalia of oiL-paints beside her on the wall ; for, in her wa}^, Archie 
had painted ever since she could stand alone. For some minutes 
she was unconscious of Durant's approach, and worked quietly on 
at the dead colouring of her sketch, while he stood and fell in love 
with her. Then he came nearer ; and she saw and nodded to him. 
He was dressed in the same velveteen suit and mountaineer's hat 
that you have seen him in on the pier ; and Archie, unversed in 
Guardsmen, took him in fuU faith for a Wanderbursch, and wished 
him good day in patois German, — a language that she had learnt 
beautifully three years before among the mountains of Tyrol. He 
answered in excellent Anglo-Hanoverian, and the girl's cosmopolitan 
ear told her in a second he was an Englishman. She looked at 
his hands next ; saw he was no Wanderbursch — and blushed 
crimson 1 No, reader. In the course of this story I will not once 
write conventionalities respecting Archie. She blushed not one 
shade, but began to laugh at the pronunciation, excellent though 
it was, of the stranger^s German ; and tliree minutes later Gerald 
had seen her sketch, and was standing chatting to her as freely as 
if they had just been introduced and waltzed together for the first 


tfme at a ball, or imdergone any other formal introduction, witliin 
the sacred precincts of propriety and social decornm. 

They talked on for an hour or more, Archie ever and anon put- 
ting, in a stroke or two at her unfinished sketch (it was dming this 
time, no doubt, that Gussy Marks espied them) ; then a French 
honne appeared at the back-door of the house, who shouted out to 
mademoiselle across the length of the garden that dinner was 
served ; and Durant bowed himself away. 

He was as much epris as he had ever been in liis life. His 
nature had become a good deal French by frequent residences in 
Paris and other Gallican influences, and French words best describe 
many of his moods, ^ot really in love of course — do Guardsmen 
ever fall in love ? — not flattered, not struck with the desire of hunt- 
ing down a credit-giving quarry, as was generally the case in Mr 
Durant's flirtations — but epris. Those blue eyes, that lithe and 
graceful form, had won his sense of beauty. That unabashed 
tongjie — so childish, yet so keenly shrewd — had stimulated as 
much intellectual zest as it was in him to feel about a woman. 
Who and what was this girl, dressed like a boy, painting like an 
artist, talking like a well-born woman of five-and-twenty, and look- 
ing like a lovely child of sixteen ? — this young person whose speech 
would not have discredited a duchess, but who sat perched on the 
wall of a Morteville back-street, and who nodded and talked to 
the first stranger who passed her in the road 1 

He went back to his hotel, told his valet to unpack his things, 
and in the evening amused himself by losing his money at ecai-te 
to Captain Waters. The next morning early he was on the sands ; 
and Miss Lovell was there also, with her father. 

She looked at him as she passed, and he raised his hat — Mr 
Lovell doing the same mechanically, and without as much as 
looking at him ; and Durant's vanity was wounded on the spot. 
The girl did not look conscious, nor the father distrustful. What 
a fool he had been to think for ten minutes of the stupid Httle 
bourgeoise, — a blue-eyed pert young woman, who doubtless planted 
herself daily on that wall with the express purpose of flirting with 
any barber or bagman who might chance to pass along the street ! 

He walked back to his hotel ; told his valet to repack his port- 

D 2 


inanteau at once, and then — then on his way to the pier met 
Archie (on her road home for a forgotten sketch-book), and stopped 
and talked to her once more. 

She was looking her best — better than she had done the day 
before — in a fresh white dress, skirt and jacket alike, a sailor-hat 
bound with a bit of blue ribbon, neat peau-de-Suede gloves, perfect 
little laced boots, and a bunch of honeysuckle in her breast. Gerald 
got leave to carry her book for her (told his long-suffering valet, 
whom he passed upon the pier, hot ^yiih indignation, to take back 
his things to the hotel), and when he left Miss Lovell within 
fifty yards of her father on the beach, had made up his mind, as 
much as he ever made up his mind, to look upon it as a settled 
affair that he should lose his head about her. This was two days 
ago. He had seen her and walked -with, her on the sands more 
than once since ; and Archie was a child no longer. She was not 
a whit in love "with Mr Durant, — ^her heart was as unstirred really 
as a moorland pool, upon whose surface the imaged flitting clouds 
give a semblance of agitation ; but she had received the deference 
— had listened to the imphed flatteries of a man learned in the 
science of woman-pleasing, and her imagination, her vanity, her 
zest in life, her life itself, had got a new and delicious stimulus. 
She was a child no longer ! 

The Eue d'Artois was dead silent as Mr Lovell and his daugh- 
ter entered their house ; and when a few minutes later Gerald, his 
cigar in his mouth, passed carelessly up the street under the 
shadow of the opposite houses, he could hear IMiss Archie's voice, 
clear and ringing on the silent night-air. 

Mr Lovell's apartment was on the rez-de-chaussee. The windows 
and shutters were wide open, and the light of a lamp upon the 
supper-table showed the family-group with perfect distinctness to 
any passer-by who chose to look at them from the street. — Mrs 
Lovell prim and upright at one end of the table; Mr Lovell's 
stooping form and pre-occupied face at the other. Close beside 
him, radiant in her white dress and with her shining hair, Archie ; 
and walking familiarly about, attending on them, Jeanneton, the 
great good-humoured French peasant woman, who formed the 
cook, housemaid, and butler of the Honourable Frederick Lovell's 
present establishment. 


*' Fifteen francs is certainly an enormous price," said Miss Lovell, 
addressing her stepmother with that air of intense indignation 
seldom seen in women, save where apparel is concerned, — " but 
they would be the making of the whole dress. A plain white 
tarlatan is the best taste in the world for me, — I want nothin^j 
better ; but then the adjuncts should be perfect. My gloves I'm 
sure of, for I tried them on early this morning, when my hands 
were cold ; and my wreath will do. But my — no ; I don't like 
to think of it even, — they icould make such an addition." 

" "When I was a girl black slippers were very much worn with 
white dresses," said Mrs Lovell ; " and very nice they used to look. 
I was at a ball given by the Honourable Mr Eawston, of Eaby 
Castle ; and the three ladies Vernon were there in white gauze — " 

" And black shoes ! " interrupted Archie, pertly. " Yes, Bet- 
tina, that is all very well, but I'm not one of the ladies Yernon — 
I'm Archie "Wilson j and all the old Morteville ladies hate me j 
and I wish — yes, I do — to be the prettiest girl at the ball. And 
if I could have these — well, it's no use talldng of it — but if I 
could, it would just make the difference in my whole cbess. I 
wonder whether M. Joubert would take fourteen francs if I offered 
it to him — money do^vn % " 

" Money doA\Ti, my dear ! " cried Mr Lovell, waking uj) sud- 
denly. " What is it that you are talking of? Money down ! My 
dear Archie, whatever you do, never fall into any of these horrible 
innovations. Money down ! " 

" It would be a great innovation if we were to put it into prac- 
tice," cried Archie, who evidently was accustomed to make her 
opinions known in the household. '^But for once in my life, 
father, I do wish I could pay ready-cash. That cruel wretch of 
an old Joubert, why should he refuse credit any more than any 
other tradesman 1 And the only ones that fit me in the place ! — 
I declare I've half a mind to pa-^vn my ear-rings, and have them. 
Better be without trinkets of any kind than wear black shoes and 
a white dress. I hate the thought of it ! " and turning up her 
animated face across her shoulder, — all of which pantomime Gerald 
was watching, — Miss Lovell here communicated her grief in French 
to Jeanneton, who immediately broke forth in a loud chorus of 
indignation and sympathy. "VYliy, even at a ball at the Marie she 


( Jeanneton) had -worn white shoes. Black shoes and a white dress 
for mademoiselle at mademoiselle's first ball, monsieur ! And 
Jeanneton extended her clasped hands deprecatingly towards mon- 
sieur, as though he were a monster of domestic tjTanny about to force 
his innocent child into a convent, or a marriage of convenience. 
" Mademoiselle's first ball ! " reiterated Jeanneton, imploringly. 

*'But why? — but what do you all mean? Why should not the 
child have these black boots ? " 

" White ! white ! white ! " cried Archie, immensely excited. 

" "Well, then, white boots, if she wishes them. Are not white 
boots the correct thing for young women to wear at balls ? " he 
continued, addressing Mrs Lovell : "if they are, let her have them 
by all means. Poor little Archie ! " And he stretched his arm 
out and stroked her hair caressingly. 

If Archie had expressed a wish for a set of diamonds and a 
white satin dress, Mr Lovell would have said," let her have them j " 
and the girl shot a quick look of sapient intelligence towards her 
stepmother. "Don't enlighten him," the look said: "don't tell 
him our reputation is so bad M. Joubert won't let me have a pair 
of white satin slipjDers on credit — don't tell liim we have only just 
francs enough to last out next week, and that by dint of some- 
what short dinners towards the close of it." Then aloud, "Ah, 
dear papa, you never deny me an}i:hing," she said ; " and you'll 
see if I won't do you credit to-morrow evening — shoes and all. I 
do hope the young men will pay me attention," she added, quit- 
ting the subject of money now that her father had roused himself 
enough to take part in it. "I only know three ; and that's not 
many to look to for twenty-one dances, is it 1 - Even if they all ask 
me twice — which one can't be sure of — there's six, and fifteen to 
sit out. Bettina, I hope I sha'n't sit out fifteen dances." 

"Well, my dear, I hope not; but there's never any sa3dng, — 
men are so capricious. I remember once when I was young — " 

"Ah, but that was very difi'erent. The Marquis of Tweedle 
never asked jom at all after dancing nine times running with you 
the night before ; but people like M. Gounod are not likely to be 
capricious. Do you think I could calcidate with certainty on M. 
Gounod asking me three times now ? " 

M. Gounod was a little French doctor — a bachelor of forty — 


greatly sought after by all the female population of Morteville ; 
and Mrs Lovell answered that she thought Archie might certainly 
rely on a dance with him — a dance perhaps at the end of the 
evening. As to thinking he could dance "^^dth little girls before 
midnight, with the JMaire's two daughters, and the Sous-prefet's 
wife, and all his influential patients, in the room, it was absurd ; 
unless, indeed, they went very early, and he gave her a quadrille 
before the other ladies had arrived. 

''A pleasant prospect for me ! " cried Archie, with a real tremor 
in her voice, and real tears rising in her eyes ; " and after lying 
awake for nights and nights thinking of this ball, and how jealous 
I would make old Gussy Marks and all of them by my successes ! 

If — if " but the supposition lapsed into silence ; " if Mr Durant 

would only stay and go to it," was what she thought ; but for 
about the first time in her life she felt a shyness at puttiug her 
thought into words. 

" If little Willy Montacute asks me, I'll dance away half the 
night with him, at all events," she finished, — after a minute or 
two. " Anything would be better than sittiug by and seeing other 
people enjoy themselves." And then Miss Lovell took a vigorous 
heap oifricandeau of veal, a goodly pile of salad, an addition of 
cherry compote (she was quite cosmopohtan iu.her taste for sauces), 
a gigantic slice of the loaf, and began her supper. 

Gerald watched her robust appetite with admiration. The young 
person he could least love on the earth — her he was engaged to 
marry — had, before men, a trick of dallying with her food, which 
exasperated him singularly. What did girls go iu for when they 
abstaiaed from food "l Intellectual charms 1 — the cleverest people 
eat the most. Physical ones % — to be handsome, the frame of any 
animal must be well nourished. ISTo such illogical human creature 
was before him now ; but a young woman eating her supper as 
heartily as a man — ay, and helping herself ever and anon to fresh 
condiments, and finally to more veal and another trench of bread ; 
and, as I have said, Mr Durant's admiration increased enormously 
as he watched her. 

When the supper-table was at length cleared by Jeanneton, Mrs 
Lovell reminded her step-daughter in a very serious tone what day 
of the week it was. 


"Sunday evening, Archie, my dear, — Sunday evening, you 

" Well, Bettina, what of it ! Jeanneton may clear the tilings 
away on Sunday evening, mayn't she, without sin 1 " 

'' Archie dear, for shame ! A young girl should never use words 
of that sort. You know on Sunday evening I always like to 
attend to our services. We shall have just time for a good quiet 
reading now before bed-time." 

"JSTot to-night, Bettina, — not to-night," said the girl, gravely, 
and coming so abruptly to the window that Durant half thought 
she must have caught a glimpse of his figure before he drew away 
quickly into deej^er shadow. " It isn't that I dislike the readiugs," 
she added, in a voice that utterly disarmed poor little foolish 
Bettina ; " when I'm in the mood, I like them better than any- 
thing else, I do ; but I'm not in the mood to-night ; and I won't 
pretend to read David's grand old words, and all the time be 
thinking of white-satin shoes and M. Joubert, and my chances of 
partners at the ball. A cigarette and a walk by moonlight would 
be much more suitable to my present state of mind." 

"Not a cigarette, Archie, — not a cig — " 

"Bettina, child, please go to bed, and don't mind me. K I 
think a cigarette would do me good, I shall smoke one, you may 
be sure. Now, good night." 

"Well, then, Archie, don't put on — you laiow what I mean. 
It was very well for once, but you are getting too old for these tricks 
now ; and let Jeanneton sit at the window, at all events." And 
then, having apologized away her lecture into simple acquiescence, 
as usual, Mrs Lovell lit her bed-candle and went away j and Archie 
and her father were left alone. 

He came up and put his arm roimd her shoulder. A great gaunt 
man Durant could see he was, in the moonlight, with narrow 
stooping shoulders, white delicate hands, and a j^ale absent-looking, 
intellectual face. 

" Archie, my love, Bettina is right — don't go out agam as you 
did last night." 

" 0, papa, it was such fun ! — and knowmg all the stories the old 
ladies would make up ; and it was only your coat and hat, papa, 
after aU." 


*' But still it pained me, Archie, — it pained me wlien you told 
us of it." 

'' I won't do it then. I'll never do it again." Very quick and 
decided she said this. "Poor little papa, you have quite enough 
to trouble you without me." 

And ]\rr Gerald Durant, who was not over-burdened with house- 
hold affections, felt oddly at seeing her take her father's hand and 
hold it tenderly up against her cheek. 

" If you like, I'll go up at once and help Bettina with the read- 
ing," she added, after a minute or two. 

" Well, well — that's quite another tlinig," answered Mr Lovell. 
" Bettina is a most admirable woman. I'm sure you and I owe 
her everything, Archie ; but her theology is — well, let us say her 
weakest point — a thing to be accepted, not argued about. To per- 
sist in Dissenting manuals, as she does, when all the noblest works 
of our Church are open to her ! No, Archie, I must say I do not 
care how often you miss poor Bettina's readings." 

The theological difference between her father and his wife had 
been long patent to Archie ; and from the time she was six years 
old she had known how to make discreet use of them on occasion. 
' "And you'll make me a cigarette or two before you go?" (Mr 
Lovell had a sanctum in which he always spent the early hours of 
the night.) "Ah, do, papa ; it's so jolly to sit here and smoke in 
the moonlight." 

" But you don't like it, Archie 1 " said Mr Lovell, as he took 
out his tobacco and prepared mechanically to obey her. " I can 
tell by your face, miss, you don't really like your cigarettes a bit." 

" Well — like ? " answered Archie, reflectively ; " like ?— no. I 
don't suppose I do hke the taste, any more than I like the feel of 
a bonnet ; but still I'm quite ready to wear a bonnet on Sunday. 
It's the ideas of things, I believe, not the things themselves, that 
are nice — don't you think so, papa? " 

"Yes, Archie," he answered, quietly. "And 'tis in the pursuit 
of the ' ideas of things,' not of things themselves, that men's lives 
waste away — like mine." 

" 0, father ! — waste away ? " 

" Waste away, child — and leave no trace, either for bad or good, 
as they waste." 


Archie was silent ; and gave a long and wistful look at her 
father's face. Vaguely it came into her head to speculate whether 
this was truth indeed that he had spoken ; whether a life spent in 
dreams does not, in the very things left undone, leave as palpable 
a record of itself — more palpable oftentimes — than a life of acti^dty 
and work 1 But she made no answer, A sort of instinct told her 
that it was better Mr Lovell should believe his failures to be harm- 
less ones at least. And, with their money frittered away, herself 
and her education neglected, their position — ay, and at- times the 
common comforts of life — gone too, the poor child, with prematiu-e 
womanly tact, had long since learnt to be silent whenever Mr 
Lovell sentimentalized about himself and liis failures. 

** You will have finished ' Troy ' in a few weeks, papa ; and then 
there will be no more talk of failure. I am certain, quite certain, 
you will get a good price for it in London." 

" Troy " was an enormous and very ambitious landscape, that 
Mr Lovell had been working at for years. It was a wonderful 
combination of such red, purple, and green, as nature never 
painted yet upon the face of creation ; but dear to ]\Ir Lovell's 
heart as ever "Carthage" was to Turner, or, perhaps a juster 
simile, as " The Banishment of Aristides " to poor Haydon. 

To Archie this picture was like a brother or sister. It had 
grown with her growth — every great event of her life, since she 
was a child of seven, seemed, in one way or another, to be con- 
nected with " Troy ; " and now that it was witliin a few weeks of 
completion, when the artist himself said that more thought, more 
finish, could not be given to this masterpiece of his hfe, his 
daughter's heart fevered tumultuously over its prospects of success 
or of failure. Childish though the girl was in most ether things, 
in everything pertaining to money her life had already forced her 
to be wise. Mr Lovell estimated (who shall say by what tariff 1) 
that " Troy " must fetch five hundred guineas at least. Five hun- 
dred guineas would enable them to pay ofi' the creditors from whom 
they had run away — for Mr Lovell in his heart was honest still — 
to cast aside this incognito that Archie detested so cordially, and 
to start afresh. (Starting afresh was a process they had passed 
through — ^hitherto by the sacrifice of capital — about every year 
since her birth.) Yes j and suppose " Troy " did not sell 1 Sup- 


pose the picture-buyers in London did not think those marvellous 
ruby piu'ples more like to nature than Archie in her inmost heart 
did here in Morteville-sur-Mer ? Long after her father had left 
her, Miss Lovell stood pondering these things; the cigarettes still 
lying upon the ^vindow-sill, the ball, the white satin shoes, Mr 
Durant himself, forgotten ; and when suddenly a figure emerged 
into the light close before her, for a second or two she did not even 
recognize him. 

" Miss Lovell, I am afraid I have startled you," he remarked, 
as she drew instinctively away from the window, and haK hid 
herself behind the curtain. 

" Ah, ]\L? Durant ! is it you 1 Well, for a moment I certainly 
did not know you. I was far away from Morteville — just then — 
day-di-eaming, as I've a dreadful habit of doing." And then she 
held out her hand — that little bit of a sunburnt hand, whose 
modelled proportions were already so graven upon Gerald's me- 
mory — and gave it him. 

Affairs were progressing, 'thought Mr Durant j'j the girl had 
never shaken hands with him before. The papa and mamma re- 
tire, and mademoiselle, surprised in a pretty pose in the moonlight, 
gave her hand to him, and returned his pressure heartily, l^ow 
was the time to begin serious love-making at once. 

"Which conclusion shows that a Guardsman, weighted even with 
seven seasons' experience, may make desj^erate mistakes occasion- 
ally about matters wherein his own vanity is concerned. 



Archie Lovell seated herself Hke a child upon the sill of the 
open window, leant forth her face full where Maloney, had she 
been there, could have seen it, and told Mr Dui'ant at once, and 
without any reserve, that he might go on with his cigar while he 
talked to her. Mind it? — ^not a bit. Her father smoked all day 
and aU night long. She had been brought up since she was a 


baby among people who smoked. Why Bettina, who looked upon 
a cigar as a capital crime once, had got actually to feel lonely 
without the smell of smoke now. 

" And who is Bettina r' asked Gerald, thinking that domestic 
confidences would be the kind of conversation most calculated to 
put the girl at her ease -svith him. 

" Bettma is my father's second wife," answered Archie promptly 
— " Elizabeth, really ; but he disliked the name so much, that a 
German friend thought of Bettina for him — and the most ill-used, 
long-suffering step-mother in the world. I was three when she 
came to us, — I am seventeen now ; and during these fourteen 
years I have turned every hair of her head from black to wliite. 
Poor little Bettina ! " 

" Are you so very wicked, then. Miss Wilson 1 " Gerald asked ; 
*' I should not have thought so, I am sure." 

" 0, I was an awfully wicked child, I think," answered Archie ; 
*' and then I believe I really did take every disease under the sun 
— ^Bettina says so, at all events — also that I got into more accidents 
than any other child extant. N'ow, of course, it's different. There 
are no more diseases, as she says, that I can take, and I am too 
careful and a great deal too fond of myseK to get into accidents ; 
so really a good deal of the poor little woman's responsibility is 
-taken away." 

The balls had broken in Durant's favour. He could open the 
first battery of flii'tation in an easy orthodox fasliion, and without 
the wearisome necessity of any more of those dreary family his- 

" l!^o other disorder that you can possibly take 1 I should 
hardly think that, Miss Wilson, at your age." 

"Well, of course, I don't mean cholera or the plague," ("You 
matter-of-fact young Briton ! " interpolated Ai'chie mentally), '' but 
childish ailments — hooping-cough, measles, scarlet-fever, and all 
the rest of it. Do you understand now 1 " 

" And you don't admit the possibility of any but bodily ailments, 
then 1 You don't recognize the existence of mental sufferings 1 — 
disappointed hopes, broken hearts — " 

" Oh, I've much too good a digestion for any nervous affection 
of that kind," she interrupted with a laugh. *' Papa says I shall 


never know anything about the usual griefs of civilized young 
women, as long as my magnificent appetite and digestion remain 
to me." 

If the fence was unconscious, it was none the less effective. 
Gerald saw that he was a great deal farther than he had thought 
from sentiment still, and resolved for the present to follow rather 
than lead. 

'^ Ci^olized young women ! Don't you consider yourself as he- 
longing to civilization, then 1 " 

"Hardly, Mr Durant; or only in the same sort of way that 
gipsies do. Xow, look;" she just touched his sleeve with her 
hand, and leant her face forward confidentially to his ; '' look here ; 
as long as I can remember anything, we've been living about in 
Italy, but never longer in any place than a year or so at a time. 
We have always been much too poor for any English people to 
want to know us, and my father's friends everywhere have been 
artists — artists, and actors, and musicians, and republicans, and all 
those sorts of men, you know. For the rest, we generally know 
our butcher and our baker — till our credit gets too bad for us to 
want to keep up the acquaintance — and occasionally the English 
parson, but not his "wife or daughters, to bow to ; sometimes the 
doctor; and that's about the extent of our dealings with the 
Philistines. I've never been to school ; I haven't an accomplish- 
ment belonging to me, except dancing (which I learnt by instinct, 
I suppose) ; and I've scarcely known an English child to speak to 
since I was born. i!^ow, am I civilized or not ? " 

"Very," answered Gerald laconically, and looking long at the 
refined high-bred face so close to liim there, alone at this hour and 
by this light ; yet fenced round, divinely shielded, by its own un- 
consciousness of evil as few faces had ever seemed to him in 
London ball-rooms. " You have been in Eome, of course, among 
all the other Italian cities 1 " he remarked, as the girl returned his 
look with a thorough want of embarrassment, that to him was 
more singularly embarrassing than any shyness would have been. 

" Yes, we actually lived in Eome for nearly two years once ; and 
we looked upon it as head-quarters, or home, all the time we were 
in Italy. It is home to papa, I think ; or more home than any- 
where else could ever be." 


"The Eoman artist-life suited liim, I suppose ?" 
"All, no, Mr Durant. His heart is in Eome — ^just that ! " 
The colour ebhed up into Archie Lovell's face ; her breast 
heaved. " Mamma is buried there, you know," she whispered, in 
a suddenly softened tone. "She was quite a girl when papa 
married her, and she died a year after their marriage. He has 
really never lifted up his head since. All liis pictures and his 
poems — poor papa ! — even I myself, are nothing compared to her 
and that one year they lived together. I used to feel miserably 
jealous, Mr Durant, at the number of hours he would spend sit- 
ting beside her grave in Eome ; and I hope I shall never go back 
there to be made jealous any more. All the years he has had me 
ought to be more to him than that one little year with her. And 
yet," she added in a minute, and with another subtle change of 
voice, "I can imderstand it all. I should feel the same myself. 
Mamma was everything to him." 

Here, then, was the subject of love fairly brought upon the 
carpet — the girl's own capacity, not for love only, but for passion- 
ate overwhelming love, openly acknowledged; and still Gerald 
Durant felt that he was as remote from intimacy with her as 
though the Alps divided them. 'No woman, learned or Unlearned, 
ever paved the way to facile flirtation by making such a declaration 
as this. The siege, if siege it were to be, must be a long one, end- 
ing possibly — already he estimated Archie truly enough to know 
this — not as his flirtations had ended hitherto, but in his own 
utter defeat and subjugation. If this girl's changeful wooing voice 
had once got fairly round his heart, — if those little hands once held 
him in absolute thrall, he knew himself, in some mad hour, to be 
quite capable of marrying her. And to marry any woman save 
the one destined for him would be, in his fettered position, simply 
to throw life up of his own free will. Lucia Durant he must take 
for his wife, no matter whether other faces were fairer to his sight, 
other voices sweeter to his ear. 

Marry ! Heaven, where was his imagination leading him ? and 
what was this girl but a pretty precocious child, whom it was plea- 
sant to play at love-making -with here in the moonlight, possibly 
dance half the night with at the Morteville ball to-morrow, and 
then go away and forget ? And he looked at her again, and saw 


that the child was prettier far than he had ever given her credit 
for, with her great blue eyes softening, half in tears, and the full- 
cut mouth trembling : thought, feeling — yes, dormant passion even 
— stirring over all the flower-like childish face. 

" Your father is a happy man, Miss Archie, whatever else he 
has lost." 

'^^Vhy, pleased' 

''He has got you." 

'' He has ; and a precious trouble and anxiety I have been to 
him," she answered, going back abruptly to her usual manner. 
" How in the world did you know I was called Archie ? " 

"I — I — well, really I don't know. Did you never tell. me so 
yourself ? " He could not for his life have brought his lips to say 
that Waters had spoken of her. 

" Perhaps. I don't remember. But however you heard it, once 
would be enough, I'm sure, to impress it on your mind. Did you 
ever hear, such a name for a girl in your life before 1 « Archie ! ' 
And it's not a diminutive, not a pet name ; I was christened it. 
Shall I tell you how ? When I was five or six weeks old, my 
mother dead, and poor papa in his worst grief, some English ladies 
who lived in the house took it into their heads I ought to be 
christened, and teased him as to what my name was to be. He 
says he remembers he pushed a book of my mother's across the 
table, and said ' her name,' and left them. It had been a gift of 
her brother's, and had these words written in it : ' Pauline, from 
Archie.' Well, of course I don't know what these excellent women 
thought, or how they managed it, but at all events they chose the 
most English of the two, and I was christened Archie instead of 
Pauline, as papa meant. Do you hate it '? " 

"On the contrary," answered Gerald, "I like the name in- 
finitely, because no woman I have known before has bor;ie it." 

'' I am glad of that. I think sometimes my name alone would 
set people against me, even if I didn't look so much like a boy, 
and smoke cigarettes, and — " 

" Miss Wilson ! you don't mean to teU me you smoke — actually 
smoke 1 'No, no. Impossible." 

"I assure you I do. Here are two cigarettes papa made for me 
just now. Are you shocked ? " 



''"What ! did you never see a yoimg lady smoke in your life be- 
fore?" cried the girl, looking intensely amused. 

" Never," answered Gerald, with the air of a Quaker. " I have 
lived among good, demure, quiet young ladies, I can assure you — 
young ladies who have never seen a cigar, save by accident, and 
don't know the meaning of the word pipe." 

"Oh, dear, how good they must be, and not at all tiring to live 
with ! Is it one of their portraits you wear in that locket ^^r 
hasard ? " making this unexpected home-thrust with the thorough 
audacity of a child; "if it is, show it me. I should like to see 
how good, demure, quiet young ladies look who never saw a cigar, 
except by accident." 

Without a word, Gerald disengaged the locket from his chain, 
and Archie seized hold of it and ran off eagerly to the lamp. A 
strong magnifier of Mr Lovell's was lying on the table ; and after 
opening the locket and finding that it did contain a photograph, 
and a photograph of a giii's face, Archie examined it through the 
glass with eager attention. For a moment something in the ex- 
pression of the portrait repulsed her strongly ; then her artistic eye 
discerned the accurate statuesque proportions of the features, the 
classic cut of the small head, the soft moulding of the fair and 
stately neck j and finally, with a sinking of the heart utterly be- 
yond her own power of analyzation, she felt herself bound to ac- 
knowledge that this woman, whose portrait Gerald Durant wore on 
his breast, was beautiful. 

All Archie's foregone beliefs in herself seemed revolutionized at 
this moment. Accustomed to hear the open opmions of her father 
and his friends as to her looks, she had simply and gladly beKeved 
herself to be handsome — an hour ago had spoken with assurance 
of being ^the prettiest girl at the Morteville ball to-morrow, ■\^^lat 
did she seem in her own sight now? A wild gipsy child — a 
picturesque model perhaps, with bright tawny hair, a pair of blue 
eyes, and not another good feature in her face. Pretty ? "Why> 
this girl she was loo^cing at was simply exquisitely faultless. The 
line of face a delicate oval ; a small irreproachable nose ; a small 
irreproachable mouth ; hair so fair as to look fair even in a photo- 
graph, brought down low and with mathematical accuracy upon 


the foreliead ; a slender throat, gracefully turned aside ; soft eye- 
lids, modestly downcast (perhaps because Miss Durant thought it 
decorous for her eyes to evince no expression in a portrait taken 
for her cousin, perhaps because the photographer knew that their 
want of colour would tell if he attempted them upraised) ; every 
line exquisitely faultless, in short. 

But it was not the beauty of the featin:es alone — not the irre- 
proachable nose and mouth, and Madonna-like downcast eyes ; it 
was the indefinable propriety—I search for and can find no other 
word — of the whole picture, even to the narrow bit of velvet, from 
which a black cross depended precisely in the centre of the slender 
throat, that struck Archie with such a sense of pain. She had her- 
self been photographed by half the artists in Italy, but always in 
a wild unstudied attitude, with careless drapery, with hair unbound 
— as " Undine," as " GrazieUa," as a peasant child, a nymph, a con- 
tadina ; but ever, as she felt now, with new and bitter shame, as a 
"model." This was how an English girl of her age and of her 
birth ought to look in a picture. This was what a man like Gerald 
Durant meant when he spoke of good, demure, quiet young ladies ; 
and with a stiff, altered manner, that he was not slow to notice, 
she went back to the window and returned him his locket. 

" Your friend is very beautiful, Mr Durant. There is not a fault in 
her face, and I should stifle if I lived in the same house with her. 
I thank you for showing me her picture." 

"Well, I suppose she is beautiful," answered Gerald, refastening 
the likeness coolly to his chain ; " beautiful as a statue, and as 
cold ! I always fancy my cousin Lucia — did I tell you she was 
my cousin 1 — must be like Eowena. You have read Ivanhoe ? " 

Yes, Archie had read Ivanhoe, and Paul and Virginia, and The 
Newcomes. They found them in some lodgings they had in Padua 
once ; and she remembered all about Eowena very well. 

" The same kind of blonde, gentle, negative, unimpeachable 
woman," went on Gerald, looking away from Archie as he spoke. 
" Don't you remember feeling how much better poor Ivanhoe must 
have loved Eebecca in his heart 1 " 

"I remember that Ivanhoe married Eowena," answered Archie 
laconically. "It didn't matter much to Eebecca, after that, which 
he loved." 


And tlien there was a silence, — the first silence there had ever 
been yet between them ; broken at length by Miss Lovell trying 
to say something cold and formal about its being past eleven, and 
how she had promised Bettina not to stay up late to-night. 

'' And I shaU meet you at the baU to-morrow ? " asked Gerald, 
throwing away the end of his cigar, and moving slightly nearer to 
his companion. 

'* The ball ! Mr Durant, will you really be there 1 I am so 
glad : I thought you were going away to-morrow morning." And 
her face flushed all over with pleasure, like a child's unexpectedly 
entranced by the advent of a new toy. 

*' Perhaps you will not be so glad to-morrow evening," Mr 
Durant remarked. " I rely upon your giving me a great many 
dances, Miss "Wilson." 

"I — give you dances'? dance "with you, do you mean? 0, 
thank you ! " Archie's eyes sparkled anew with delight. " "Willy 
Montacute and M. Gounod are the only other dancers I can really 
depend upon," she added with her usual sincerity ; " and I don't 
want to sit out a single dance. I wiU dance with you as often as 
you ask me ; and I'll make Bettina go early, so that you won't be 
able to get engaged before you see me." 

And she let her hand rest in his at parting, and leant her head 
out, smiling, to look after him in the moonlight, and gave him a 
last salutation, full of meaning and friendliness, as he stopped and 
looked back at her before turning out of the Eue d'Artois. 

" Poor little girl ! " thought Gerald magnanimously, when, five 
minutes later, he was standing smoking his last pipe outside the 
door of the hotel. "Eouse her jealousy, give her vanity a chance 
of gratifying itself, and she would be a woman, and as disappoint- 
ingly easy to ^vin as all other women ! As lucky for her as for the 
duration of my own fancy for her, perhaps, that I am going away 
so soon." 

" Give him dances ! " thought Miss Lovell, as she laid her head 
upon her pillow. ''"Why, of course I will — every dance on the 
list if he chooses. I Hkc him. When you see him close, his 
dress is cleaner than most men's " (Ai'chie had been brought up 
among foreign artists, remember). " Not too much brains in his 
head perhaps, but a handsome malerisch face, — and just the height 


for a partner. I must have those white shoes of old Jouhert's 
now. Mr Diirant shall never tell Ms cousin that he danced with 
a girl in France who wore black shoes and a wliite dress at a 
public ball. Fourteen francs ! If the old wretch would only take 
off one, I've got five francs in my purse already, and perhaps 
Bettina — " And then Miss Lovell was asleep. 

If her vanity was touched, her heart up to the present moment 
was most entirely unscathed j more unscathed than the Guards* 
man's, if the truth must be told. 



" Maggie Hall ! Tell my nephew Gerald that I will no longer 
allow the mystery about this woman to rest. Tell him, also, that 
I desire to see him at once, and that this is the last opportunity 
of explanation he will be likely to have with me." 

Maggie Hall. As Eobert Dennison walked up and do^vn the 
breakfast sdlJe next morning, waiting for Gerald to appear, and 
with his uncle's open letter in his hand, the name of Maggie Hall 
would force itself with horrible obstinacy upon his mind. Already 
he felt that this woman, whom six months ago he had loved 
with blind unreasonable passion, was a barrier in his path, a blot 
upon his name, an incubus upon his whole future hfe : and every 
time he thought of her thus, an unspoken ciu:se rose in Mr Den- 
nison's heart. Give this message to Gerald ; go home, and with 
well-varnished face assure Gerald's uncle and affianced wife, as he 
had done before, that he hoped — nay, was siu'e^ — they did his 
cousin wrong, — that matters yet would not turn out so badly as 
they supposed ; keep Gerald, if possible, apart from them still on 
his return to London, — ay, and how long could all this wretched 
farce continue to be acted out ? "Would any woman, would Maggie 
least of all, with her uneducated mind, her suspicious wilful 
temper, consent to be kept out of sight alone, and with a 

E 2 


"blackened character for ever 1 In one of the bursts of passion 
that had "become so frequent of late, might she not any day pro- 
claim to the world how low he, Mr Eobert Dennison, had 
stooped? Low in that he had made her, an ignorant peasant-girl, 
his wife ; dou"bly, trebly low in that he had not rescued Gerald 
from the first suspicion of the dishonour (for dishonour he had 
now begun to think it) that was indeed liis own 1 

Every man, I suppose, who ever did a bad deed has felt, on 
looking back to that deed, that he drifted into it originally by im- 
perce^Dtible currents ; that, however it might have been later, the 
first beginnings of the qyU. were ■\^T:ought by influences beyond 
and out of himself. Eobert Dennison felt this now. He was 
entangled in a labyrinth of present falsehood. His worldly pro- 
spects, his ambition, the things dearest to him in life, were in 
jeopardy; everything as bad with him as it could be. And why 
— and how? Because a beautiful peasant-gul had been thrown 
across his path; because this girl's passionate regard for him 
had won, first his pity, afterwards his love, and then, in a mo- 
ment of weakness, but of honour — this he never wearied of re- 
minding himself — he had made her his wife ! Could he help it if 
scandalous country tongues had fastened upon a wrong man with 
whom to associate this girl's disappearance 1 "Weighted as he was 
with the horrible reality, was it any very great guilt to allow his 
cousin to bear, for a few weeks or months, the imputation, only, 
of the mesalliance? Could he help it if, in the mean time, 
Gerald's own people should look coldly on him ? — if Gerald's pro- 
spects should really suffer a little through the imputation 1 AYhy, 
the fellow was sure to be ruined some day. He had been walk- 
ing straight to ruin ever since he left school, years ago. A scandal 
more or less about such a man mattered nothing ; while an im- 
putation against a white immaculate repute like his, Eobert 
Dennison's, would be death. And if only a few short years could 
be lived through quietly — if Gerald were once faii'ly where fools 
and spendthrifts ought to be — might not he be taken into Sir John's 
favour, come into Parliament, become his heir in the sight of the 
world? I^ay, with Maggie educated, and the first fresh scandal 
as to her lowly birth forgotten, might not even this wretched 
marriage of his be " got over ? " 


He was deep in the speciilation still, liis eyes gloomily bent 
upon the floor as he paced mechanically up and down the room, 
when Gerald himself, clebo?inaire, merry, careless, the snatch of a 
French love-song on his lips, sauntered in at the door. And then 
Mr Dennison, after hastily putting his uncle's letter out of sight, 
walked straightway up to his cousin's side, and laying his hand 
heartily on his shoulder, hade him good-day. He had always had 
a kind of elder-brother manner with Gerald, and this duty that 
he was going to perform now made it more than ever necessary for 
him to assume it. 

From this point on, the story will, I hope, tell itself, without 
further need of retrogression; but, for clearness, I should here 
describe with more detail than I have done the exact worldly 
position in which these two men — Eobert Dennison and Gerald 
Durant— stood to each other. They were first cousins — Eleanor 
Dennison, Eobert Dennison's mother, having been a Miss Durant, 
and consequently equally near, as far as blood went, to old Sir John 
Durant, of Durant's Court, the present head of the family, and 
the relation to whom both of the yoimg men had been taught to 
look for their advancement in the world. 

Equally near in blood, but, as Eobert Dennison in bitterness of 
spirit was forced to confess, widely remote in their place within 
the old man's heart. Married to a woman who suited him, rich, 
the possessor of health and all other prosperity, the death of his 
only son in infancy had been the one bitter drop in Sir John 
Durant's cup. He had not felt the loss at the time more than 
other men feel such bereavements; but every future year as it 
passed by, leaving liim without prospect of another heir, made 
him feel how wide a blank that little baby's death had, indeed, 
left in his life ! At length, twelve years later, another child was 
born to liim ; and in his intense joy at the sight of the little face 
—come, as he said, to gladden his old age — the unwelcome fact 
that this second child was only a girl was almost forgotten. His 
favourite brother had in those intervening years married and died, 
leaving a motherless boy, who at the time of Lucia's birth was five 
years of age, the inmate of Sir John Durant's childless house, and 
as near liis heart as anything not actually belonging to himself 
could be. This boy was Gerald; and long before Lucia could 


walk alone, her father had finally made up his mind as to the fit- 
ness of marrying her to her cousin. 

''Failing this boy, I will make Eobert my heir," he would say 
to his wife, and ignoring the possibility of his daughter's, not of 
the boy's, death. " Yes ; Eobert should take the name of Durant, 
of coui'se, and we would marry her to him. Any way, my chil- 
dren's children shall bear the name of Durant, although Heaven 
has willed that our own son should be taken from us." 

Instead of failing, Gerald grew up strong and hearty; and 
Lucia Durant, a poor, deUcate, over-physicked little gkl, struggled 
up also to maturity. It was just as settled a thing about their 
marriage still as it had been when one was two years of age and 
the other seven. ISTot a word of love had certainly ever passed 
between them. In the first place, probably, because they did not 
love each other ; and in the second, because Lucia's mother was 
not a woman to countenance love-making, however legitimate, 
within her walls. 

" I never thought of such a thing until after I married your 
father," was what Lady Durant would say to her daughter. " De- 
monstrations of feeling during engagement are, in my opinion, 
perfectly unnecessary. Any well-feeling woman must grow to like 
her husband after marriage." 

And Lucia was quite of a nature to receive her mother's opinions 
on the subject of love as final. She was to be Gerald's -wife when 
she was twenty-one ; Gerald was nicer than Eobert j and she was 
quite content that her papa had decided upon him. She was glad 
when Gerald was at the Court, but not broken-hearted in his ab- 
sence ; and this was about as much feeling as INIiss Durant had 
hitherto entertained in the matter. 

By hitherto I mean until within six months of the present time. 
Then occurred the disappearance of Maggie Hall, one of the 
dairy servants at the home farm of Durant Court; and Gerald 
Durant, vaguely at first, but gradually TNdth more and more fre- 
quency, was named about the county as having in some way been 
cognisant of her flight. The very suspicion was a horrible blow 
to the quiet family at the Court. Old Sir John had looked with 
leniency upon all Gerald's shortcomings heretofore, seldom speak- 
ing of them even to his wife, and when he was forced to do so, 


using euphemisms whicli of necessity disarmed Lady Durant's in- 
dignation against her scapegrace nephew — no difficult matter, if 
truth must be told ; for, in spite of all her skin-deep prudery, of 
all her theological orthodoxy, Lady Durant was a very woman in 
matters of affection, and held the prodigal son in her heart dearer 
immeasurably than Eobert Dennison, with all his prudence and 
all his vu'tue. But here was no young man's wildness, no thought- 
less extravagance, no evil that a few hundreds or thousands of 
pounds could, as in all former instances, set right. If Gerald had 
done this thing that was imputed to him, the old man felt that 
now, indeed, were his gray hahs to be brought mth sorrow to the 
grave. And bitter and hard words did he use as he enjoined his 
daughter to hold no commimication, save as a friend, -syith her 
cousin; to banish from her breast the recollection that he had 
ever been her lover, until such time as he chose to prove his inno- 
cence before the world. 

And then Lucia Dm^ant first began to feel, in spite of all the 
excellent education of nearly twenty-one years, that her heart did 
throb with some feelings of natiu'al indecorous regard towards the 
man they had destined her to spend her life mth. There was no 
passion, little outward energy in the girl's temperament ; but she 
possessed the quiet sort of obstinacy not unfrequent in very gentle, 
very seemingly submissive women ; and in those dull winter days, 
when the blow first fell, and while the old people mom^ned aloud, 
Lucia Diu'ant used to sit, her eyes calmly bent over her em- 
broidery, steadfastly resolving that now her cousin Gerald had 
fallen into ill repute she would hold by him till death. She 
never really believed him to have played any part in Maggie's 
disappearance ; but, whatever she had believed, I fancy she would 
still have pleaded for him with her father. Her world of men 
consisted solely of Robert Dennison and Gerald. One of these 
two she knew was to be master of herself and of her money. And 
in the deep-rooted, stifling repugnance that Eobert's superhuman 
virtues had ever inspired her with, she almost felt as though she 
could have forgiven any earthly sin in the prodigal Gerald. 
Children brought up on admirable but artificial systems, as Lucia 
Durant had been, not unfrequently break out into this kind of 
instinctive rebellion when the time for action comes. 


''And why don't we susjDect Eobert?" the poor child had once 
mustered courage to say, when her father had been summing up, 
fearfully hard, against his absent nephew. " Robert was a great 
deal more attentive to Maggie Hall than Gerald. Robert went 
abroad too at that time. Robert can only give his word, as Gerald 
does, to prove his innocence." 

" But Robert is not a man to commit such an action," answered 
her father testily. He would have given half he possessed to know 
at that moment that Maggie Hall was Robert's wife. " Robert 
may not have the soft manners that please foolish girls like you, 
Lucia. He does not read Tennyson in a murmuring voice, and 
quote Burke about the days of chivalry, and spend his life holding 
silk for young ladies to wind. But he is a plain upright man of 
honour ; he is more, he is a man of the world, and possesses the 
ambition that makes a man true to himself and to his family. 
Robert Dennison throw away his prospects for the sake of a dairy- 
girl's pretty face ! " the old man had added, in a tone which ex- 
pressed tolerably clearly what sort of affection he had for the plain 
upright man of honour who would risk neither his o-^^ti prospects 
nor the fair name of his family. 

And Lucia was dutifully silent ; and, two days later, sent 
Gerald the photograph of herself that he now wore — and showed to 
other young ladies when requested — upon his watch-chain. 

" If she had loved me, she had certainly been less just," he re- 
marked lightly to Robert Dennison. "The most convincing proof 
you can possibly have of a woman's indifference is, when she be- 
haves to you with generosity." The two young men were seated 
together at breakfast now ; and Robert Dennison with little 
difficulty had brought the subject round to Gerald's difficulties 
with the family at the Court. " Imagine any girl really loviug a 
man — do the scoundrels pretend to say this is Lafitte? — really 
loving a man, and yet listening to reason, where another woman is 
in the case ! Not that I am sorry. Poor little Lucia ! the best 
thing for her, and for me too, is that she should not care for me 

" But you still adhere to the old idea of making her your wife 1 " 
asked Dennison, with a (xuick scrutiny of his cousin's careless 


" Adhere to the old idea ! Why, what are you talking of, 
Eohert 1 Of course I adhere to it. How can I do anything hut 
marry Lucia? Three thousand a-year (and Lucia herself, poor 
child!) will he pleasant adjuncts to the old place and the old 
name ; neither of which could Mr Gerald Diu'ant keep up for one 
week, if he came into them Avithout any other help than his own 

"And you don't look upon Sir John's present temper as of con- 
sequence, then?" said Eohert Dennison. ''You feel c|uite as sure 
of his consent to the marriage now as you did a year ago, hefore 
all this took place 1 " 

" Quite," answered Gerald calmly. "If the old man had taken 
umhrage at any of the manifold sins of my youth, I might feel 
differently ; hut I don't even trouhle myself to think of a sin I 
have not committed. Heroines never finally disappear, except 
through trap-doors at the Adelphi, now-a-days. 1 am as certain 
of j\Iaggie Hall turning up and acquitting me with her own lips 
as I am of eating this piece of really excellent pie now." And as 
he spoke, Gerald conveyed a goodly portion of the j^clte de foie 
gras in question into his mouth. 

" I'm glad you take it all so quietly," remarked Dennison, with 
an uncomfortahle smile. Was that last remark -with respect to 
Maggie Hall a likely one to make him comfortahle 1 " But still I 
must tell you, that if you were less indifferent in the matter, I 
think it might he hetter for you hereafter. I am an older man 
than you, Gerald ; and this I will say, I think appearances are 
deucedly against you with regard to Maggie HaU." 

Gerald laid down his knife and fork, and the hlood rose up 
angrily into his fair thin-skinned temples. " Yery well, Eohert. 
You said something like this to me on the pier last night, and 
now I'll tell you ^^'hat I think. I think appearances are deucedly 
against you with regard to Maggie Hall." 

Eohert Dennison laughed genially. Once hrought into the ter- 
ritory of hold falsehood, and this man felt himself more at home 
than in the delicate horder-ground that separates falsehood from 

" Appearances against me ! Well, I like that. I certainly 
never expected to hear myself accused of a foUy of this kind. 


Without pretending to transcendental virtue, eloping with a milk- 
maid is decidedly not one of the pleasant vices into which I 
should be likely to fall." 

"^0, I don't think it is, under any ordinary circumstances," 
answered Gerald laconically. "It is, 1 confess, one of the last 
things I should have accused you of j but unfortunately facts are 
stubborner things than theories. You said appearances were deucedly 
against me with regard to Maggie Hall, and I answered that I 
thought they were deucedly against you. I think so still, Eobert ; 
indeed, if we are going to speak the truth to each other, I may 
as well tell you I thought so from the first. You know as well 
as I do that I never admired Maggie except as a man must admire 
every pretty woinan, empress or milkmaid, that he comes across j 
and I Imow as well as you do that you admired her very differ- 
ently. Admired! come, I may as well say the word out — that 
you were as head-over-ears in love with Maggie Hall as she was 
with you. I can say notliing stronger." 

" Gerald, reaUy— " 

"Now, my dear fellow," cried Gerald, resuming his knife and 
fork, and his anger vanishing, as all his emotions had a trick of 
doing, in a moment, " don't let us spoil our breakfast by entering 
into any absurd discussion on the subject. You were in love 
with this young woman, and probably know pretty well where 
she is at this moment. I was not in love with her, and do not 
knoAV where she is. Voild ! There is no more merit on one side 
than on the other. The whole thing resolves itself into a simple 
question of taste. Only don't let us go through the trouble of 
any useless mystifications when we are without an audience, as 

"I tliink, when you talk in this airy way, you forget one 
slightly important point of which I spoke just now," remarked 
Eobert Bennison ; but he kept his eyes on his plate as he said 
this. "Maggie Hall is reported to be married. Even with your 
catholic ideas in all things, you must allow that to be accused of 
having married her is serious." 

" Serious to him whom it concerns," answered Gerald, " but to 
me of most supreme unimportance. Maggie Hall is certain to 
turn up again; if she is married, as report says, so much the 


better for the man who has the happiness of possessing her. Any 
way, I shall be clear. "It's no use arguing with me/' — he went 
on, as Eobert Dennison was about to speak, — " I'm just as great a 
fatalist as ever, and just as much convinced of the utter folly of 
attempting to hinder or forward any event of one's life. If 1 am 
to marry Lucia, I shall marry her. If I am to be disinherited, I 
shall be disinherited. The gods alone know which would be the 
happiest lot, but I can look forward equally cheerfully to either." ' 
And having now finished an admirable breakfast, Gerald Durant 
took out his cigar-case, and, retiring to an American lounging-chair 
beside the open window, prepared for his morning's smoke. 
*' Don't tell Lucia that I stopped to dance with a little gui at a 
Morteville ball," he remarked, when the first few puffs of his 
regaha had borne away his thoughts again to Archie. " Great as 
my faith in Lucia is, I think that is a trial to which no woman's 
constancy, no woman's long-suffering, should be exposed." 

Eobert Dennison was still lingering over the breakfast-table — 
it was one of his " principles " never to smoke in the forenoon — 
and at this moment had taken out, unremarked by Gerald, and 
was reading again his uncle's letter. 

"Tell Gerald that I will no longer allow the mystery about 
this woman to rest. Tell him also that I desire to see him at 
once, and that this is the last opportunity of explanation he will 
be likely to have with me." 

Should he deKver that message of his uncle's in its strict 
integrity ? Mr Dennison pondered. Honour bade him deliver it, 
certainly. When he saw the old man next he would have to 
pledge his word that he had done so. But was it matter of cer- 
tainty that it was politic to himself to play thus with the cards 
upon the table 1 He had hinted at the substance of his message, 
and Gerald had scoffed, in his usual fatalistic w^ay, at its import- 
ance. "Was there really need to do more 1 If Gerald heard the 
message itself, ten chances to one that, roused by its tone, he 
would obey Sir John's wishes on the spur of the moment ; and 
once face to face, in the present temper of both, Dennison knew 
enough of human nature to be sure that Gerald and Sir John 
Durant would be likely to come fatally near the truth in their 
suspicion:^. As his cousin seemed so happy running after this last 


fancy of his in Morteville, why hnrry him away against his will ? 
He confessed that he held it folly for any man to attempt to 
liinder or forward a single event of his life. Well, let liim have 
the benefit of his own creed, and chase after butterflies when 
every serious interest of his life was trembling in the balance. 
He, Eobert Dennison, had done his duty in hinting to him that 
he ought to be in England. Did Sir John actually bind him to 
show the message in black and white ? and might not the delay 
even of a few more days possibly bring some good tm^n to him- 
self, if in the mean time the guilt only remained safely lodged upon 
the shoulders where it already lay 1 

At this point of his meditation Eobert Dennison retui'ned the 
letter to his pocket, rose from the table, and came up to his cousin's 
side. "What were you saying about dancing at a ball, Gerald? 
You don't mean to say, with the thermometer at eighty, that you 
are really going to a Morteville ball to-night 1 " 

" I mean not only to go, but to dance lilvc a student at Mabille." 

" With the little girl you ran after in the moonlight last night ? " 

" With the little girl I ran after in the moonlight last night." 

" Her name is — " 

" Her name is Wilson, Eobert. Are you arranging in your 
mind how to break these dreadful tidings to Lucia 1 " 

" I was envying you your delightful freshness of heart, Gerald. 
After eight — nine years — whatever it is — of such a life as yours, 
to find zest still in pretty nttle flirtations with good young ladies 
of seventeen ! " 

" I don't marry them, whatever else I do," said Gerald lightly, 
but looking up full and suddenly into his cousin's face. " Eobert, 
I've been thinking as well as you during the last five minutes, and 
I'll tell you the conclusion I've come to." 

"About — about what?" cried Dennison, with an affectation of 
indifference — "about the cut of your next coat, or whether you 
will wear white gloves or lavender at the Morte\411e ball to-night 1 " 

" No ; about neither, my friend. I have been thinking about 
Maggie Hall ; and that it would be a vast deal better for aU of us, 
for me in particidar, that the truth should be spoken at once. 
Maggie is your -wife." 

]Mr Dennison's dark face changed colour by the faintest shade ; 


but neither his eyes nor mouth betrayed token of emotion 'or sur- 

" We spoke of this just now, Gerald, and finished with the sub- 
ject, I thought. Don't re-open it, if you please." 

And he took out his watch, and added something about the 
punctual starting of the steamer. 

" Tlie steamer goes at eleven," said Gerald. " You have lialf- 
an-hour still, and what I have to say won't take five minutes. 
Maggie is your -wife, Eobert. She wrote to me, a week after your 
marriage, and told me all." 

" She — she never dared do it ! " cried Dennison. " Show me 
the letter — she never dared write to you, and make such a state- 
ment," he added quickly. 

"I cannot only show it you, but give it you," said Gerald 
quietly. " God knows I don't want to be in possession of it, or 
any other evidence of your secret. ' As to daring," he added, " I 
think she .acted pretty much as most women would have done. 
You were taken suddenly ill in Paris, you may recollect; and 
knowing me better, or being less afraid of me than the rest of us, 
she wrote this letter. ^ATiat would you have her do, Eobert? 
Write and say that she was with you, but not your ^vife 1 Spartan 
generosity that ; not to be expected from any woman in the pre- 
sent age of the world." 

" And you obeyed the summons?" asked Dennison; but more 
to gain time than because he cared to hear the question answered. 

" 1^0. Before I had time to start I got another note — ^you shall 
have them both — telling me that you were better, and imploring 
me never to tell you — poor child ! — that she had written. Hero 
they are, Eobert ; and I can tell you I shall feel a great deal more 
comfortable when I have got rid of them, and of the secret too. 
Keeping things dark is not, and never has been, a forte of mine." 

And taldng a porte-monnaie from his breast-pocket, Gerald 
opened it, and took out two little notes, which he handed over to 
his cousin. 

Yes: they were hers. Xo mistake about that cramped, un- 
educated hand — those complicated, ill-worded sentences. And the 
first of them was signed, large and distinct, " Margaret Dennison." 
It was the first time Eobert had ever read that name — for in 


writing to liimself she knew too well to sign it in full — and a flush 
of mingled anger and shame rose up over his dark face. 

" Now, mind, I don't want to know anything more than you 
choose to tell in the matter," cried Gerald. " The only thing I 
care about is, that I shouldn't be incriminated too deep ; and per- 
haps the time has come when something ought to be said. You're 
the man to say it, Eobert. You . must set me right — ^but in any 
way you like — ^^vith Sir John and the rest of them." 

" And — and you've never said a word about it before, then 1 " 
exclaimed Dennison, stung horribly by this generosity from a man 
whose frivolous nature he had always, both to liimself and to 
others, pretended to despise. 

" Can you ask mel Of course I have not. Of course you are 
the first and only person to whom I should think of opening my 
lips about it. I was awfully sorry, Eobert — awfully sorry ; I don't 
mind confessing it; for, after all, birth — —however, there's no 
good talking now. And when first I heard that I was accused in 
the matter, I thought it might be all for the best to remain quiescent 
for a time — I mean until Sir John had at least accustomed himself 
to the idea of one of his nephews being j\Iiss Hall's husband. It 
really isn't the same thing after all," he added, ignorant how cruel 
a blow his words inflicted upon Demiison ; " I mean as you were 
never meant to marry Lucia, or anything, there is not half such a 
weight of guilt on your shoulders as there would have been on 
mine ; indeed, I don't see what Sir John Durant or any other man 
has got to say at all on the subject of your marriage." 

" Assuming the marriage to be a fact," said Dennison quietly ; 
but taking very good care to put the letters safely into his pocket 
as he spoke. 

"Assuming the marriage to be a fact !" repeated Gerald with 
emphasis. " You don't mean to tell me I am wrong in that as- 
sumption V 

" I mean to thank you heartily for the way you have acted," 
was Eobert Dennison's answer. " Whether Miss Hall's statement 
had truth in it or not," he half laughed, " is a question that the 
future will decide. You believed it j and you have behaved like 
the good generous fellow you always were, Gerald, and I shall 
never forget it, come what may. For the rest, rely on my doing 


all that ought to be done — all that perhaps I ought to have done 
long ago — as far as you are concerned. You will not bear me any 
ill-will for having tacitly joined in. your condemnation hitherto?" 

" lU-will, Eobert 1 . JSTot 1. I only know that you or any man 
must have been deucedly hard-placed before taking the trouble of 
trying to keep the thing secret at all." 

''And if — if I find that the only way to turn Sir John's sus- 
picions away from you is to compromise the girl herself, I may 
leave the matter as it is for a few days more, then 1 — till you re- 
turn, at all events ! You can understand, my dear Gerald, that — 
without for a moment admitting the truth of what these letters 
state — I may be in a position in which a single hasty step might 
do me an incalculable injury. 

" I think, as I said before, Eobert, that you are in a position 
where plain-speaking would be the best for us all," answered 
Gerald. " But on one point you may feel thoroughly at yoiu' ease : 
I give you my honour to say no word of all this to Sir John, under 
whatever circumstances I may find myself, until you choose that it 
shall be known." 

And then, considerably to the relief of both, a servant came in 
with Monsieur's bill, and to announce that time was up ; and a 
few minutes later the cousins had shaken hands and parted. 
Eobert Dennison's grasp was more affectionately tight than usual 
as he said good-bye ; but his hand was as cold as death ; his voice 
had not its usual sound as he expressed some commonplace hope 
that Gerald might still return in time for his dinner-party to-morrow. 

A month later Gerald Durant looked back to this parting, and 
remembered bitterly the cold touch and altered voice ; remembered 
too the set expression of Eobert's face when, a minute or two 
afterwards, he had watched him drive away from the hotel. 

A month later ! What he did now was to congratulate himself 
heartily on.being no longer bored by the possession of other people's 
secrets. Eobert was a scheming long-headed fellow, always worry- 
ing liimself with some mystification or other for social ends, which 
to Gerald seemed simply valueless when attained. Possibly he 
was married to Maggie Hall ; possibly not. Whichever way it 
was, there were evidently tedious schemes afoot for keeping every- 
thing dark, and telling one set of people one thing and one another j 


and lie liimself had made an excellent escape by giving np his 
secret, and so wasliing his hands of all further trouble or responsi- 

Si vous croyex que jc vais dire 

Qui j'ose aimer, 
Je ne saurais, poui* un empire, 

Yous la nommcr." 

There was a piano in the room ; and the sweet vibrating melody 
of Fortunio's song having suddenly come into his head, Gerald 
went over to the instrument, struck a chord or two, and on the 
spot forgot Margaret Hall and Robert Dennison, and everything 
in the world belonging to them. He had an exquisitely musical 
voice; and when he finished the little ballad his handsome delicate 
features were all a-giow under the influence of that imaginary love 
of which he had been singing. Then he lit another cigar, threw 
himself upon a sofa, and read the beginning and end of a new novel ; 
then went back to the piano, and whistled through a couple of sets 
of waltzes of his own composition, accompamang liimself charm- 
ingly by ear, as his way was, without seeming to know what he 
was playing; finally remembered it was eleven o'clock, jumped up, 
seized his hat, and ran out just in time to meet Miss Wilson 
coming back from her morning's wallv on the sands. 

He was over head and ears in debt ; was at variance with the 
relation to whom he owed everything and looked for everything, — 
on the eve, for aught he knew, of ruin of all kinds ; and he had 
just played the strongest card he possessed into the hands of an un- 
scrupulous adversary. And a little French song could send the 
tears into his eyes, and a novel amuse him, and looking into a 
j^etty face make his pulse beat as pleasantly as if no such thing as 
death or falsehood or treachery existed in the world. 

Are such natures to be called wicked or weak, or only philoso- 
phical ? While Rome burnt, IS^'ero distracted liis thouglils with his 
violin. Perhaps when his turn for rehabilitation comes we shall 
be taught to see how blithe and gentle and cUhonnaire poor iN'ero 
really was, and mako a hero of liim. 




At the window of a dingy lodging-house in one of the smaller 
streets leading from the Strand to the Eiver a girl stood eagerly 
awaiting Robert Dennison on the day of his return from France. 
This girl was his wife. She was a strikingly heantifiil woman, 
with great velvet-brown eyes, a colourless skin, but fine of texture 
and pure as marble ; jet-black hair, a throat upright and modelled 
like a statue's, and lips and teeth that alone would have made any 
woman lovely. Her figure, moulded on a large scale, and possibly 
promising over-stoutness for the future, was perfect at present in 
its full, free, youthfid symmetry ; and her hands — well, many a 
duchess has not really small and well-formed hands: and time 
and cessation from work, and much wearing of gloves, might yet 
bring poor Maggie's up to respectable mediocrity. Looking at her 
altogether as she was now — yes, even after she spoke j and you 
could detect the north-country burr upon her fresh well-pitched 
voice — she was a woman whose hand, with all its look of labour, 
a man might well take without shame and lead forward to the 
world as his wife. Beauty, youth, health, so perfect as in itself to 
be a loveliness, and as loyal a heart as ever beat within a woman's 
breast,— these made up Maggie's dower. And Eobert Dennison 
put them in the balance against her one default of lowly birth, 
and cursed the hour in which he committed the exceeding, the ir- 
reparable mistake of ha^dng made her his wife. 

She was dressed in a clear white dress, as he liked best to see 
her ; with plain bands of black velvet roimd her throat and wrists ; 
her hair drawn straight from her broad forehead, and gathered in 
one large knot low on the neck ; a little bunch of country-flowers, 
the first extravagance she had committed during her husband's 
absence, in her breast. :N"ever had she looked more fair, more re- 
mote from vulgarity ; never had she thrown her arms around his 
neck with more delighted love than when, after hours of patient 
watching for him, Mr Dennison at length arrived. 

" Eobert ! ah, Eobert ! I've been so lonely mthout you ; and 


you've never "\vritten to me, except that one line yesterday, for a 
week ! Wliat have you been doing all this time away 1 " with the 
slight half-querulous tremour in her voice that when a man still 
loves a woman he thinks so charming, and when he has ceased to 
love her, so intensely boring. 

^'Well, I've been doing a good many things," answered Mr 
Dennison, suffering her for a moment to pull his face down to her 
level and cover it with kisses ; then breaking away and throwing 
himself into the only comfortable chair the room possessed, — a 
chair purchased expressly, in fact, for Mr Dennison's comfort, — 
" spending a few days with a friend of yours, Mrs Dennison, for 

"A friend of mine, Robert?" She" was too excited by his 
coming to notice the fearfully bad omen of his calling her "Mrs 
Dennison." "La, now, who could that hav^e been? Some one 
from home 1 " — the blood rushing up into her face at the thought. 

" yes, some one from home, in one sense ; however, we'll 
speak of that by and by. How have you been spending your time 
while I was away?" He scrutinized her closely. "You have 
taken to a very swell style of dress in my absence, at all events." 

" Swell 1 Me swell in my dress ! Why, it's only one of my old 
grenadines done up and trimmed afresh. I have not had a single 
new dress this summer, and I'm wearing my black-velvet hat still, 
Sundays and all, Eobert." 

" What a dreadful hardship ! ^o wonder you wanted me to 
retiun. Why don't you ask me, as you're longing to do, Maggie, 
whether I have brought you a new bonnet, or what I have brought 
you from Paris ? " 

Before answering, she came close to him, knelt herself on a stool 
at his feet, and leant her cheek fondly against his knee as she 
looked up in his face. Instinct told her now that her husband 
was in one of his bad days ; and, like a dog who reads punishment 
in his master's eyes, she sought by caresses to turn aside the hand 
in whose power it lay to smite her. 

" Much I think of bonnets and fine clothes when you're not 
here, my darling. If you had seen how I've been the last fort- 
night, you wouldn't have said my head was running on the like 
of them." 


'' Ah ! And on ' the like ' of what has your head heen running, 
may I inquire ? " 

''On you, Eobert, you, — and nothing else, — and wishing you 
back, and longing for the time when you'll not have to go away 
from me any more. 0, my dear," she broke out passionately, and 
catching one of his hands tight up against her heart, " if you knew 
how I hated this life I have to lead ! Moving from lodging to 
lodging, as if I'd done some shame I didn't want to have tracked ; 
and never speaking to a soul from week's end to vreek's end, and 
knowing what the people at home must think of me ; and all when 
I ought to be at your side, Eobert, and known to your friends as 
your wife. I believe another month or two like this would drive 
me mad — indeed I do. I can't bear it." 

In the early rose-coloured time of their marriage, Dennison had 
hired a pretty little furnished house in St John's Wood for poor 
Maggie. Then, as his love cooled, he began to remember expense, 
and moved her into a lodging at Kensington ; then Mr Dennison 
fancying, or saying he fancied, that some one had seen and recog- 
nized her at the window, into a smaller lodging ; and so on — 
love cooling more and more — until she lived now in two rooms 
on the second floor of one of the meanest houses in Cecil Street, 

" If you don't like London lodgings, you should do as I've often 
wanted you — go into the country. It can't be any particular 
pleasure to me, you know, to see you in such a place as this." 

Something in his tone — something in the dead feel of the hand 
she cherished within her own — roused all the poor girl's miserable, 
never-d}ing suspicions in a moment. 

" There now ! " she cried. " A minute ago I longed for your 
coming more than I longed for you when you w^ere my lover, 
Eobert ; and now I swear to God I only wish I was lying dead at 
your feet ! It's no pleasure for you to see me here ! It will 
never be any pleasure to you to see me anywhere ; for you're tired 
of me ; I know it all. I'm not a fine lady, with fine feelings like 
yours ; but I know how a man, if he was a prince, ought to treat 
his wife, and you don't treat me so. Why, here you've been back 
all this time" (five minutes it was really), "and you've not kissed 
me of your own will j you've not looked at me, hardly, yet. O 

F 2 


Robert, Eoberfc, love me cagain! I didn't mean to complain; I 
only want you to love me better and come and see me more." 

And then she burst into tears ; not silent pearly tears, just 
staining lier cheek, as you may read of some Lady Gwendoline in 
her silken boudoir, but good, honest, demonstrative tears, such as 
these uneducated women do shed when the passions of their kind 
call aloud for utterance. 

; " Lord ! " groaned Dennison, taking his hand away from her, 
and putting it tight over his eyes — ■" scenes and tears — scenes and 
tears — before I have been here ten minutes, as usual ! " 

''You used to be so kind and good to me always when you 
came," she sobbed. 

" And you used to be so cheerful and good-tempered," retorted 
Dennison j '' not ahvays crying and making these everlasting com- 
plaints as you do now. There's no good going on any longer 
with it at all. This kind of thing has been acted out millions of 
times by other men and women before us, and always with the 
same results. Why should we be an exception? Mad passion 
for six weeks, cooling passion for a fortnight, general weariness 
on both sides, a little neglect on one, a great many reproaches on 
the other. There -you have the story of the master-madness of 
most human beings' lives." . 

Then Maggie rose from her place at her husband's feet, and 
struggled hard to keep her tears back from her eyes. "Eobert," 
she remarked, tolerably calmly, ''it seems to me that talk like tliis 
might suit very well where a man had the power to get out of 
'this kind of thing;' and a girl would be a sorry fool indeed 
who would want to stay mth liim if she was free to go. But I 
am not free, you know ; I am your wife. Yon seem to forget that 
a little, when you run on about being tired of me." 
. *'No, by Heaven, I don't forget it!" cried Dennison, Avitli 
rising passion; "I don't forget it at all; and you've taken pretty 
good care other people sha'n't be in a position to do so. My 
cousin, Mr Gerald Durant, has told me all : how you sold me — 
betrayed me to ray f miily in the first fortnight of my mamage. 
JS"ot very likely that I sliould come here and be moved by your 
soft words and your deceitful kisses, when I had just been hearing 
such a sweet story as that." 


She blenched to the colour of ashes. Her limbs seemed to 
tremble under her weight. " I — I never meant to do you a harm, 
Eobert. You "u^ere ill ; and I didn't know who to go to in my 
fright, and so I wrote to Mr Gerald, and — " 

But she stopped, sick with terror, at the new expression that 
she read upon her husband's face. His black eyes were fixed 
upon her full ; the red light, that could at times illumine them, 
giving them a meaning such as they had never expressed to her 
before ; his lips were set into what by courtesy may be termed a 
smile ; and while he watched her he was keeping time gently 
upon the arm of the chair with the white jewelled fingers of his 
right hand. A sickening, a physical fear overcame her. She read 
she knew not what resolve upon that iron face ; and felt about as 
much power in herself to resist him as a dove might feel with the 
kite's talons already pressing upon her heart. 

" It's my only ofi'ence against you," she stammered at length ; 
the first, and I swear to you the last." 

"Of course," said Dennison, with quiet meaning; "every 
ofi'ence a woman like you commits is the last, until a new tempta- 
tion comes. I'm quite aware of that, and also of how great a 
reliance can be played upon your oath, Maggie. Still, to prevent 
anything so disagreeable happening again, I've been thinking over 
a fresh plan with regard to your future life. Before I married you, 
I remember you saying you had a fancy to go to America — " 


"Hear me out, please; and do try not to get up any more 
scenes," But he shifted away from the gaze of the large horror- 
struck eyes that were staring miserably at him from that white 
face. " I am not going to poison you, or shut you ujd in a mad- 
house ; so you needn't go in for any of the tears and shiieks of 
your favourite penny-Herald heroines. What I am going to pro- 
pose will be for your haj)piness and mine. I know of some excel- 
lent people just going out to Canada, and willing to take you with 
them, for a couple of years or so. You would lead a cheerful 
country life, instead of being moped up here in London lodgings ; 
you should hear from me constantly; you should never have a 
hand's turn of work to do unless you chose it ; and — " 

"I will not go." 


" All ! I loisfi you would have the civility to hear me patiently 
till I have finished." 

" I mil not go. "Why should I stand here and listen to more 
of your insults ? " 

He shrugged his shoulders quietly. 

" When you take to that sort of language you, of course, have 
the advantage of me, Maggie. Still, it would be better, for your 
own sake, perhaps, if you'would keepTyourself a little more com- 

"I'm quite composed enough to know what you want, and 
what I mean to do." 

" And that is — ? I should really like to hear what your views 
for the future are." 

"Well, they vary, Eobert, they vary. Sometimes, when the 
blackest times are on me, you know, I think I'll just walk away 
to the river and throw myseK in, and be at rest." 

" Indeed ! That resolution, I am quite sure, passes away very 
quickly. Apres ? I beg your pardon — ^^vhat next ? " 

" Well, next, when I think how it would please you to be rid of 
me, and how then you would be able to work free, as you'd like to, 
at getting Mr Gerald out of his uncle's favoiu' " (for a moment Mr 
Dennison's fingers did not keep perfect time to that imaginary air 
he was playing), " then, I say, I think of quite a different way to 
act. You want to hear % " 

He nodded assent, the red glow becoming more visible in his 

"Then I think I'll just go straight down to the Court, and 
take my marriage-lines out and show them, and ask them to be 
my friends. The ladies would, I'll answer for it ; for they are too 
real ladies to feel that I shamed them, as common rich people 
would. And so would Sir John, in time. He doesn't love you 
enough to take your marriage to heart as he might have done if it 
had been Mr Gerald." 

If Maggie had known the world for fifty, instead of for one- 
and-twenty years, she could not have struck home with surer aim 
to the hard worldly heart of Eobert Dennison than her simple 
peasant instincts had enabled her to do. Every word told. Her 
knowledge of his designs, scarcely whispered to his own conscience, 


agaiust Gerald; the term "common rich people" (Dennison's 
father had been a manufacturer) ; last, and sharpest, the bitter truth 
that Sir John would, with very little pain, get over his mesalliance 
— all stung him more acutely than any reproaches, however unjust, 
however passionate, of his wife's had ever done before. 

"You had better have a care before you speak to me like this," 
he exclaimed under his breath, as he always spoke when he was 
really moved. " For your coarse suspicions of myself I don't 
care, except in as far as they remind me of my degradation in 
being married to a woman who could even admit them to her 
mind. For the rest, Maggie, take my advice; don't you go to 
Diurant's Court without me." 

"I may do that, and worse, if you say anything about sending 
me off to America again," she^answered sullenly, but with a piteous 
quiver of the lips. 

" May I inquire what you mean by ' and worse ' 1 It would be 
a pity for us in the least to misunderstand each other." 

"I mean that I may just walk straight to your chambers any 
day, and demand to stay there ; — you hear, Eobert, — demand to 
stay there. I mean that I may go to a lawyer, and tell him all 
my case, and see whether I haven't a^^ right to live under your 
roof. iN'ow you know all." 

He watched her slowly and calmly while she said tliis ; then he 
remarked, without any further sign of passion in his voice, ''Yes ; 
now I know all. I felt long ago that I had been an idiot for 
marrying a peasant woman with a handsome face like yours ; but 
I credited you — on my soul I did, Maggie ! — with loving me at 
least. Now I see you as you are, — the worst kind of woman, I 
believe, that lives. You acted virtue to make me marry you ; you 
acted love as long as you thought love would pay. ISTow that you 
find yourself in poor lodgings, and with boimets running short, 
you come out in your true colours ; threaten me to go_ to law 
sooner than be robbed of a shilling that you think your own. As 
you rightly remark, now I know all." 

She was an ignorant jDeasant woman ; he was quite correct 
there. But in her peasant heart were truth and justice, and in 
her peasant brain was sharp, honest common-sense. And his in- 
justice was too transparent to wound her. 


"You say all that, but you don't mean it, Eobeit. My virtue, 
as you call it, was not play-acting — as I'm your -wife, I %Yonder 
you like to think so ; — and my love wasn't ; and it is not money 
I want now. I want justice, and I'll have it." 

''0, you wiU?" 

" Yes, I will ! if not from you, from others. I swear that." 

''Very well. Now listen to me, and to something else I'm 
going to swear." He got up and stood close to her, looking 
steadily down into her face. "I am not a weak man, as you 
know ; not at all likely to be turned from anything I once made 
up my mind to do ; and now I will tell you how I'm going to act 
about you. This proposal of going abroad you may or may not 
accept — " 

"I will not accept it." 

"Very well; then you will live elsewhere. That is a matter 
about which I can merely offer an opinion. You can, if j^ou 
choose, stay here in London, or you can go into the country ; and 
as long as you remain quiet, and act as I tell you to act, I shall 
come and see you constantly, and try to make your life as little 
lonely as I can." 

The blood rushed to her foolish heart at the first approach to a 
kind word from his lips. Poor fellow ! had she not been too hard 
upon him a minute ago ? 

" I'm no blackguard, Maggie ; and in spite of your temper and 
reproaches, I do remember — remember, is it ever away from my 
mind? — that you are my mfe. In a few years, possibly much 
sooner, I hope to have got on in my profession ; very likely, 
through my uncle's interest, to be in Parliament — you see I teU 
you everything openly and above-board — and then, having educated 
yourself in the interval, my jDOor Maggie, we will acknowledge our 
marriage before the world. This, mind, is tlie future / look for- 
ward to, if you continue to obey me. Kow for the other side. If 
you, directly or indirectly, make known our marriage to my uncle, 
I swear to you this : from that moment you will be iny wife no 
longer, save in name. You may be acknowledged by my family ; 
you may by law obtain the right of living under my roof — to- 
morrow, I've no doubt, if you set about it properly — and if you 
do, I swear — do you hear? — I swear that I will never take your 


hand in mine, never look upon you, except as a stranger, again 
while I live. Xow we understand each other thoroughly, I think, 
and the happiness or the misery of our lives is in your hands." 
And ]\Ir Dennison took up his hat as if to go. 

For a minute she stood irresolute ; then she turned, faltered to 
him, and fell upon his breast. 

"I'll say nothing ; I'll never go near the Court, or near any of 
them ; I'll never wish to disobey you again, Eobert. If I see Mr 
Gerald, and you tell me to, I'll say that it was a falsehood I wrote 
about my marriage. Only never look at me as you did then. 
IS'ever think the thought even of giving me up. Eobert, I'd 
bear any shame with you sooner than to be called your wife be- 
fore men, and that you should look at me again as you did then ! " 

He had hit upon the right way of managing her at last. 
Eobert Dennison felt that, and prided himself on his skill in 
diagnosis, as he sat, with limbs outstretched, comfortably smoking 
in a coupe of the express train some hours later, on his road to 
Staffordshire. The question was now, how to utilize his slave's 
new subjugation to the uttermost 1 Was it quite impossible that, 
instead of hindering, she might be brought to lend herself to the 
furtherance of his ambition 1 One thing was certain ; the letters 
she had written Gerald Durant lay in his, Eobert Dennison's, 
desk. With his wife working for, not against him, Avhat was to 
prove the marriage, even if Gerald, not a likely occurrence, should 
betray him to his uncle 1 

It was a soft summer evening, the first evening in August ; and 
as the train bore Eobert Dennison through the rich harvest-tinted 
fields, he was sensible of great enjoyment in the deKcious country 
air, the golden landscape, the excellent flavour of his first-rate 
havannah. j^To man of his stamp seems bad to himself while his 
jDlans look prosperous. Eemorse, or what stands to such men for 
remorse, sets in with the first dark days of threatening discovery ; 
and no discovery at all seemed impending now. Maggie had been 
suddenly brought, by a little kind harshness, to a proper state of 
mind. Gerald Durant, in a fit of Quixotic generosity, had made 
over the game, for the present at least, into his own hands. What 
was there in either of these circumstances to disturb Mr. Eobert 
Dennison's conscience^ 


He enjoyed the fair evening landscape, the country air, the 
motion even of the train, with a keener rehsh than he had enjoyed 
anything for months ; and his dark face looked handsomer than 
usual, so genial and well-pleased was the expression it wore, 
when, just in time to obey the first dressing-bell, he arrived at 
Diu-ant's Court. 


'noblesse oblige." 

" Well, and what of Gerald '? " asked Sir John Durant, when at 
length a somewhat silent dinner was finished, and Lady Durant 
and Lucia had left the uncle and nephew alone over their wine. 
"You found him out and gave him my message, as I desired, 

"Yes, sir. I gave him your message," answered Dennison. 
" Indeed, I returned from Paris by Morteville instead of Havre, to 
do so." 

" MorteviUe ! Is Gerald there ? " 

" He has been there for the last week or more, I believe." 

"Doing what, pray? 

"Well, sir — " and Mr Dennison had the grace to hesitate. 

"Eobert," cried the old man, "I desire that you will speak the 
honest truth to me. The time has past for you, or for any of us, 
to show any consideration in speaking of Gerald's actions. For 
Lucia's sake alone, I have a right to put these questions, and to 
require very plain speaking from you in reply." 

" Oh, don't think there's anything "wrong going on," said Eobert, 
looking up with sudden animation. " Poor Gerald merely seems 
to be killing his time as usual. He has been travelling for a 
month in the Tyrol, I believe, and is now — well, if I must speak 
plainly, is now losing a good deal of money to some table d'hote 
acquaintance at 6<iart6, every evening, and running about during 
the day-time after the last pretty face that has taken his fancy. 
Kg thing more than that, sii", on my word." 


" Oil ! And what answer did lie give to my message 1" It never 
wanted more than one word of Eobert Dennison's dispraise to make 
the old man secretly warm towards the absent prodigal. "You 
gave it liim exactly in my w^ords, I hope ? " 

" I did. I had your letter in my hand when I spoke to liim." 


" Wellj^sir. I really don't think there are any grounds whatever 
for supposing Gerald is guilty of what you have suspected him— 
on my word, I do not. 'No man can look so happy, as he does, 
who was entangled in the miserable way you have feared." 

" Happy — looks happy, does he 1 That shows, at least, how much 
he cares for his alienation from Lucia! Eobert, give me his 
answer, if you please. I want the precise message that Gerald 
returns to mine." 

" He told me that he is innocent, sir," said Dennison, shifting 
his eyes from his uncle's face as he spoke. "That he knows 
nothing of Maggie Hall, that he never saw her from the day of her 
disappearance till this." 

" And you believe this, on your honour, to be true, Eobert ? " 

"I do. I see no proof whatever against Gerald, more than 
against any other man." Mr Dennison helped himself to a bunch 
of grapes, carefully selecting the muscatel, of which he was particu- 
larly fond, from the black Hamburg. "I see no positive proof 
against Gerald, and I don't know why we should disbelieve his 

"And why has he taken no pains to come forward to prove this 
to me ? You are a lawyer, Eobert. Is it not commonly thought 
in law that, if a man makes no attempt to prove his innocence, it 
is tolerably strong presumptive e-\ddence of his guilt *? " 

"Certainly," answered Dennison; "and there could be very 
little doubt as to the justice of the presumption, with regard to 
any ordinary man. But Gerald, in some things, is not at all an 
ordinary man. He is indolent by temperament, and is thoroughly 
and consistently a fatalist. If he is to be cleared, he is without 
any exertion or trouble of his own ; if he is not — " 

" If he is not, and soon, too, he Avill be a beggar ! " cried Sir 
John Durant, angrily. "If Gerald, i with a suspicion like this 
hanging over him, chooses to philander away his time with worth- 


less men and women at Morteville, as -all liis life before has been 
spent, he may do so ; but when he wearies of them he shall not 
find Lucia's hand ready for his reward ! Of that I have quite made 
up my mind. That he has married this ^^Tetched girl I do not, in 
my heart, beheve. Ko, Eobert, I do not. "With all liis faults, 
Gerald is not a boy to bring such shame as that upon us. Whether 
he had any share in her flight, I decline even to think. What 
I have to do with is this, that he has been accused — he, my 
daughter's promised husband — of having made a shameful marriage, 
and that he has allowed near upon seven months to pass without 
coming here openly, and telling me all. Yes, all, Eobert. Gerald 
knows what I have been to him, what I could forgive at this 
moment — ay, till seventy times seven — if he would come honestly 
forward and acquit himself of so foul a charge." 

''And — and if he could not thus acquit himself? " asked Den- 
nison, in a somewhat compressed voice. "As regards Lucia, I 
need not ask what your feelings must be towards him ; but would 
this marriage, supposing the worst to be true, be sufficient to make 
you cast the poor fellow off entirely? A lowly alliance is not 
necessarily a shameful one, sir." 

" Indeed. I am soriy to hear such an opinion from you, although 
I am willing to believe you actuated by good feeling towards Gerald 
in expressing it. If a nephew of mine, Eobert, was to marry Mar- 
garet Hall, or any woman in her class, I would from that day 
banish him from my heart, my house, and, which I dare say he 
would care much more for, from my will too. jSTo one is more 
lenient to folly — ay, even to error, in a young man than myself. 
Dishonour I would never either forget or condone. Our family 
lias not liitherto had blood like Margaret Hall's in its veins." 

" The worse for our family," thought Eobert, mentally compar- 
ing Lucia's sickly prettiness and the magnificent face and form he 
had parted from four or five hours ago ; then aloud : "I suppose 
you are right, sir," he said. " I suppose a mesalHance is about the 
worst action, for himself and for others, that a man can commit. 
However," he went on, " I am glad to find that, like myself, you 
don't believe Gerald to be so deeply committed. Give him the 
benefit of the doubt still. Pride, delicacy, a hundred feelings we 
may not understand " (how unconsciously men utter epigrams about 

^'^^OBLI:ssE oblige." 77 

themselves !) " may prevent him from coming forward to prove any- 
thing in such a matter. We don't even know what his relations 
may really have been with Maggie Hall." 

But Eobert Dennison had humanity enough in him to feel that 
these words, this implied calumny against this man and woman 
who Avere truest to him in the world, rather choked him in the 

" Eobert," answered Sir John, after a minute or two of silence, 
*' I'm in no humour now to talk about Gerald's pride, and Gerald's 
delicac}^ How low has not my pride been sunk during all these 
months ? You are the nearest relation after Gerald that I have. 
I don't know why, save that he grew up here, I shoidd say ' after ' 
him at all. You are as near to me as he is, and I'm now going to 
tell you the simple truth about all this. It has been my dream, 
you know, for that boy to marry Lucia. He must have the title, 
he must have the old house when I am gone, and it has been the 
hope of my Life that Lucia should share them with him, and that 
her children should be born here, as my son's children would have 
been had he lived. WeU, I begin to see that my dream has been 
a foolish one. Xot for this one misunderstanding — a misunder- 
standing that another month, another week, may heal. For this last 
misunderstanding itself, no ; but because this indifference of Gerald 
shows me in reality what the character of the man is whom I look 
upon as a son. 'Tis no use glozing it over, Eobert. For more 
than six months now Gerald has known himself to rest under this 
imputation, yet never has he come forward in an open, manly way 
either to refute or acknowledge the charge. Married to her, I do 
not believe he is, but every man and woman in the county be- 
lieves Gerald Durant, in some way, to have been cognizant of 
Margaret HaU's flight. And still Gerald Durant is the promised 
husband of my daughter. It shan't go on any more so ; my God, 
it shan't ! " he repeated, passionately. " I wrote him one letter, 
and he sent me, — well, he sent me what I felt to be a cursed 
flippant answer, affecting to treat the whole thing as a joke, and 
even sapng — mark this, Eobert, even saying that if a member of 
the family had married Maggie, he thought it a disgrace that 
could be very easily got over. To have sacrificed worldly pros- 
pects for the woman one loves would be honour — ^hear that! 


rather than disgrace, ^vith more high-flown rubbish about the 
girl's goodness and beauty and virtue than I care to think of j" 
and the old man's face flushed over with passion. "Kow, in 
reply to this last message sent through you, he coolly sends me 
word that he is innocent. Innocent ! when he ought to be here 
at Lucia's side, here sitting at my table proving his innocence ! 
And you tell me he is losing his money — my money would be 
nearer the mark — and running after disreputable acquaintances at 
Morteville. "I'll have done with the lad — I'll have done w^ith 
him ! " he exclaimed, now fairly worked up to white heat. 
" Thank God, he is not my only nephew, Eobert. I have you to 
look to yet to keep our family from utter disgrace and ruin. My 
poor little Lucia." 

In all his life Eobert Dennison had never seen Sir John Durant 
so moved. He was a well-preserved, handsome old man, with 
grey eyes that once had been soft and passionate, like Gerald's ; a 
fair receding forehead, but beautiful rather than intellectual in its 
contour ; refined patrician features ; and with only the fatal here- 
ditary weakness of mouth and chin to mar the face. A hot flush 
had risen over his cheek ; his lips trembled as he spoke. Now, if 
ever, Eobert felt was the time for him to strike ; now, with the 
metal hot, Gerald away, and his own superior virtue aud abihty 
in such conspicuous pre-eminence. 

" As regards Margaret Hall, I can only repeat I believe Gerald 
to be innocent. As regards his' behaviour to Lucia, I can't trust 
myseK to speak. That is a subject on which Gerald and I have 
not agreed for a good many years. But there is another point on 
which I may, without disingenuousness to my cousin, speak 
openly. I should do so if Gerald were sitting here at table with 
us. It does grieve me bitterly to see him so utterly indiiferent to 
the public career which, through your interest, sir, he might enter 
upon, if he chose." 

The tone in which he said this was unmistakeably sincere; 
much more so than the tone in wliich he had been speaking 
hitherto. Sir John Durant looked steadfastly at his strong, 
resolute brow and face, and the thought crossed him that he had 
hitherto done this other nephew of his injustice. The son of an 
unloved sister, and of a man whom he secretly despised for his 


want of birth, Eobert Dennison had never awakened any but the 
most lukewarm interest in his heart. Every hope, every ambition, 
the promise of every good thing, had been lavished on Gerald ; 
and now Gerald was a spendthrift and a prodigal, and this other 
lad was prudent, self-denying, steady ; a poor, albeit a rising 
barrister, living in his frugal Temple chambers, and trusting only 
to his own industry and his own brain for success. 

" It needs but for you to bring him forward," repeated Denni- 
son, after a minute or two, during which he had felt rather than 
seen his uncle's steadfast scrutiny of his face; "it needs but for 

you to bring him forward, and Gerald must be returned for L . 

I was speaking to Conyers about it only to-day, and he said the 
contest would be a nominal one. You and Lord Sandford together 
can bring in any man you choose to propose ; and if Gerald. . . 
But what is the use of talking about it ? " he interrupted himself, 
with unassumed bitterness. " Gerald has no more ambition now 
than he had when he was eleven, and retired — do you remember, 
sir? — ^from competing for a prize he was certain of, because he 
wished some other boy — his Damon of the minute ! — to get it. 
He never had ambition ; he never will have it. Ambition ! It is 
not in his nature to desire anything strongly." 

Sir John winced under the remark, then lapsed into silence — 
the little reminiscence of Gerald's childish folly not, perhaps, 
affecting his weaker nature quite in the way that it affected Mr 
Dennison — and, after a few minutes, rose from his chair, and 
proposed that they should join the ladies in the drawing-room. 

" But you are not angry, sir 1 " cried Dennison, anxiously, as 
he jumped up, with the deferential promptness he always showed 
in obeying his uncle's smallest wishes. ''You are not annoyed, I 
hope, at my having alluded to all this 1 " he repeated in a low tone, 
as they were on their way to the drawing-room. " You know it's 
an old ambition of mine to see our family represented in Parlia- 
ment, and I can't help feeling strongly about it at such a time as 

''Annoyed with you! No, no," answered Sir John; but he 
turned from his admirable, high-principled nephew as he spoke, 
and, looking through the open door of his daughter's morning- 
room, his eyes fell on a beautiful full-length portrait of the 


prodigal ; the prodigal at nine years of age, with little Lucia by his 
side. "I was only wishing he was somewhat more like yon, 
Robert," added the old man with a sigh. " With your ambition 
and your standing, Gerald might have become anything he chose." 

" Say rather, with Gerald's personal qualities I might have be- 
come anything I chose, sir," Dennison answered quickly. "Am- 
bition and perseverance are very well, but brilliant natural gifts — 
a face and a manner like Gerald's — are worth all of them in the race 
of life. For one man or one woman who likes me, fifty like him. 
It has been so always, and it is just. I have only to be with him 
an hour myself to feel the fascination of his presence as much as 
any one." 

The real strength of Eobert Dennison's character lay in his 
capacity for saying things like this. A common, coarse slanderer 
slanders indiscriminately. Dennison knew not only where to stop 
from reviling, but where to begin to be generous. And then he 
possessed the rare gift of seeming to feel what he said ! At this 
moment his voice shook, his face softened, and Sir John Durant 
felt that he had never cared for his sister's son so much in his life 
before. "You're a good lad, Robert, and a generous one, and some 
day I'll prove to the world the high opinion I have of you ! '' 
And as he entered the drawing-room, one of his hands rested kindly 
on his nephew's shoulder. 

With a quick, upraised glance from her embroidery, Lucia 
Durant noticed the unwonted familiarity, and knew that Gerald 
must be further off than ever from her father's heart. 



The drawing-room at Du-rant's Court was a long low room, wJth 
muUioned windows, glazed still in the ancient style, with small 
diamond-formed quarries, a heavily-carved ceiHng, panelled walls, 
and tapestry-covered furniture that had served the Durants during 

LUCIA. 81 

the last hundred years at least. Surrounded in the county by 
pottery lords far richer than themselves, pottery lords who con- 
verted their houses into amateur hazaars or show-rooms of every- 
thing costly and elaborate in modern upholstery, it was Lady 
Durant's vanity to keep the Court furnished simply as it was when 
she first came to it a bride, and when none of their rich neigh- 
bours had as yet risen above their native clay. No ornament in 
the hall save its dark groined roof, the shields of arms upon its 
walls, and one huge suit of til ting-armour — not bought in "Wardour 
Street, but that had been worn by a Durant of old, and had de- 
scended from father to son in the family since the time of Elizabeth. 
In the dining-room plain mahogany furniture, of a fashion to recall 
the parlour in which Squire "Western used to sit and listen to his 
Sophia's harpsichord. In the bedchambers the faded blue or 
green or damask hangings, which had given, to each its name for 
generations ; and in the drawing-room, as I have said, the same 
tapestry-covered chairs and couches as had been the mode when 
George the Third first became king. 

"No better fimiished than a parsonage," the manufacturers' 
ladies thought, when by rare chance any of them came to be ad- 
mitted on a morning visit to Lady Durant. But then what a 
strange, what a potent atmosphere of home seemed, by virtue of 
its A'-ery plainness, to hang over all the silent, grave old house ! 
The manufacturers' wives were sensible of tJiat, and for the life of 
them could not make out why the crimson-and-gold stained Avin- 
dows, the cast-iron balustrades, the velvets and silks and or-moulu, 
of their own Italian stucco palaces would always keep their show- 
room gloss, and steadfastly refuse to be invested with the look of 
home. The look which only a house wherein men have been born, 
and have loved and died, can ever wear. The one unpurchaseable 
quality that makes these quiet, unchanged old country houses dear, 
as are the faces of tried friends, to those who inherit and live in 

f The angle of Durant's Court faced south and west. At every 
season of the year sun and light were in all its rooms. Close 
without, two giant cedars sent up their immemorial fragrance from 
the smooth-shorn lawn. All through the summer, roses and 
honeysuckles clustered at every open bedroom window. In winter, 


the old-fasMoned smell of dried rose-leaves and lavender made you 
think of summer still. The house lay somewhat low, and on no 
side commanded a view beyond its own densely-wooded grounds. 
Ifc was shut out from all sounds save those of its own small world ; 
the very cawing of the crows was exclusive — the Court Eookery ! 
All the changes, all the noise of the outer world touched it not. 
Year by year the same quiet servants went about the same routine 
of quiet duties, the same furniture stood in the rooms, the same 
smell of the roses mingled v>ith the cedars in June, the same old 
portraits were lit up by the blazing wood-fires at Christmas. 'Ko- 
thing altered, nothing progressed there, save, within the last twenty 
years, one young girl's life. And even this had been so gentle a 
growth as scarce to bring about any vital change in the habits or 
customs of the house. At twenty, Lucia was a grown-up young 
woman, of course ; but save that she no longer had a governess, 
and that she wore long dresses instead of short ones, and sat up as 
late as her papa and mamma at night, her life, and the lives of all 
about her, went on very much the same as they had done when 
she was ten. 

It was an old joke of Gerald's, when he v»\is a small boy, to say 
the Court was an enchanted palace sleeping for a hundred years, 
and that he would be the fairy prince bringing ''love and pleasure, 
hope and pain," when he married Lucia. And little Lucia, with 
her doll in her arms, had laughed at the joke then. Latterly, the 
mention of their marriage had become much too solemn a thing to 
be spoken of in jest ; nay, even to be openly spoken of at all. 
Lady Durant willed it so. It was very weU when they were 
children ; but no grown-up girl should listen to any talli of l-ove 
or marriage until such time as the trousseau must be got ready. 
And Lucia, quite calm on the subject, had answered, ''All right, 
mamma, not tiU the trousseau must be got ready ; " while Gerald 
— ^well, Gerald, if truth is spoken, had acquiesced only too gladly 
in any abrogation of the duties of liis courtship. 

As part and parcel of the dear old place, he liked Lucia. Liked 
her as he liked the house, the cedars, the good old wines, tlie slow 
old carriage-horses, and everything else enclosed within the 
boundaries of the Court. Love he never had felt, never could 
feel, towards her : no, nor the feeling which, in the world he fre- 

LUCIA. 83 

quented, amongst the men lie associated with, is dignified by the 
name of love. Women of many grades and many nations had in- 
spired his quickly-fired imagination long before he first saw Archie 
Lovell : Lucia never — Lucia, poor little Lucia— ^could awaken in 
him either sentiment or passion. She held something the place 
a man's favourite sister holds in his regard : scarcely that. A 
sister, to be a favourite one, must make herseK your companion ; 
and this, up to the present time, Lucia had never done ; Lady 
Durant not holding favourable opinions of allowing a young girl 
to be the companion of any one save of her governess or her 

j^o woman of forty is thoroughly suited to begin, for the first 
time, to bring up a child's life. Lady Durant was more than forty 
when Lucia was born ; her husband was fifteen years older than 
herseK ; and so the girl had gro"svn up unnaturally staid and good, 
as the only child of elderly parents is almost sure to be. Lady 
Durant loved her devotedly, — more devotedly, perhaps, than some 
younger women love their daughters — but living so long in this 
shut-out existence, without childi-en, save him whose few weeks of 
life had made her own so much more lonely, without companion- 
ship except her husband's, she had forgotten, too completely, the 
feelings of youth to become, in any wise, the companion of her 
child. When she was a girl, she had been brought up according 
to the doctrine of Mrs Hannah More, and according to these doc- 
trines, a very little modified, she brought up her daughter. The 
genuine British idea of gravity being a virtue, per se, was rooted 
deep in Lady Durant's heart. As a baby, Lucia had been duly 
impressed with the notion that she must never laugh out of season, 
must repeat solemn words solemnly, ef cetera ; and as her high- 
pressure governesses made solemn teachings the main part of her 
education, the poor child, as time wore on, not only repeated 
solemn words, but all words in an unnaturally subdued tone, and 
with an unnaturally lengthy face. There was nothing stern, no- 
thing unwomanly in Lady Durant's character. She simply held 
that prosaic, rigid, coldly-methodical theory of human life, in 
which a recognition of our capacity either for keen pleasure, or of 
the sense of the ludicrous, has no place. The mother of sons, her 
character might have become tenderer, more catholic— for girls 

G 2 


slie lield mediocrity to be the beau-ideal of perfection ; and her 
daughter had certainly grown up the very incarnation of the prim, 
rigid, unimaginative system in wliich she had been reared. 

Her face, as her photograph had told Archie Lovell, was sin- 
gularly correct, as far as mere feature went. Colour, life, \igour, 
were all that was wanting to make her beautiful. Of these she was 
bereft. The development of children, after all, depends as much 
upon physical as upon moral causes. If the Court had stood upon 
a breezy upland, the old parents and the want of companions, and 
the excellent training of Lady Durant even, would not have sufficed 
to quench the buoyancy out of Lucia's childhood. But the Court 
lay low — sheltered from every wind of heaven — hemmed in by 
those glorious old trees, so favourable to the haunted peace of aris- 
tocracy, so antagonistic to the circulation of oxygen, which aris- 
tocratic and plebeian lungs appear to stand in need of alike ! And 
so, after many years' indecision whether she would grow up at all, 
Miss Durant, of Durant, grew up a weed, much after the pattern 
of the pale, scentless flowers that grew under the shadow of the 
cedars on the lawn. You could look at her now and feel logically 
certain as to what she could be at thirty, or forty, or sixty. A 
man marrying her might feel assured that he took to himself as 
spotless a heart as any English household could produce ; for the 
very ignorance of childhood was on Lucia still. But he must feel, 
also, that he could prophesy with accm-acy concerning all the 
future years of Ms domestic life, and this to some men — to a man 
like Gerald especially — is a singularly depressing thought. Men 
of Ms temperament crave for amusement more, perhaps, than for 
any other possession. Lucia never could amuse any one. ISTone 
of the little aberrations from the beaten track, which make a 
young, imtutored girl so charming, were possible to her. Ko- 
tMng that she said, nothing that she did, was ever unexpected. 
On mild platitudes she had beeii reared up ; uttering and 
enacting mild platitudes she would live and rear up her children 
after her. 

"Honest, fair, womanly," Gerald had often thought, when he 
watched his cousin's face, and looked onward to the life he would 
have to spend with her ; fair, gentle, feminine, everything he ad- 
mired most in women, and a bore, And about the strongest 

LUCIA. 85 

aversion of Mr Durant's easy, epicurean nature was summed up in 
that one word. 

Eobert Dennison liad mentally compared Miss Durant with his 
wife, awhile since, when Sir John spoke of no blood like Margaret 
Hall's running in the Durant veins. The comparison returned to 
him with double force when he came into the drawing-room and 
saw Lucia sitting there : her delicate face bent down beside the 
lamp, her]jWax-like hands buried in her embroidery, the whole, 
still figure in its'dead- white dress, looking very much like one of 
Mr Sandys' beautiful rose-and-alabaster heroines (just ready to 
have "snowdrop," or ''pearl," or "lily," emblazoned in gold let- 
ters at her feet). Aud Mr Dennison, whose taste inclined towards 
robust, Juno-like beauty, rather than towards ethereal heroines, 
felt in his heart that his low-born wife was handsomer, yes, and 
nobler-lookmg too, than ]\Iiss Durant, of Durant, with all her pale 
refinement — all her studied grace ! 

She turned her head at his entrance, smiling the pretty smile 
that she had been taught from her babyhood to accord to people, 
whether she liked them or not, and Eobert came and seated him- 
self by her side. 

"Busy, as usual, Lucia. What elaborate *piece of work are you 
employed upon now ? " 

"I^othing very elaborate, Eobert ; only a crest and initials. Do 
you like them ? " and she put her work into his hands. 

" G. S. D." and the Durant crest. Then, all this elaboration of 
delicate stitching, these fine interpolations of lilliputian lace-work, 
were for Gerald ; and it was being worked under Lady Durant's 
own eyes. Eobert Dennison returned the handkerchief to his 
cousin in a second. 

" I admire yoiu' skiU, Lucia, but I do not admire embroidery 
and lace-work for men. I always think a man who wears em- 
broidery on his handkerchief ought to wear long, scented love- 
locks, and lace-ruffles at his wrists and throat, Kke one of the 
courtiers of Charles the Second." 


"To be thoroughly in keeping, Lucia." 

" But long hair and lace-ruffles are not the fashion novv^, and 
embroidered crests on handkerchiefs are." 


*'The fasliion ! A man need not follow fashion, like a girl, you 

"Why not?" 

" Because his aim is not to please by his pretty face and hands 
as hers is, and ought to be." 

" Not by his pretty face, of course — pretty is never said of gen- 
tlemen — ^but by being handsome and well dressed. If I was a 
boy I would have well-made clothes, and good gloves and em- 
broidered handkerchiefs, as Gerald does." 

" And sit before the glass studying the fashion-books and the 
set of your ties, and whether lavender gloves or straw-colour be- 
came you most, I hope, Lucia 1 " said Eobert, with a laugh. 

" Oh, dear no, not if I was really a boy," answered Miss Diu'ant, 
looking up into his face. " If I was reaUy a boy, I suppose I 
should ride to hounds, and row, and play cricket, and be brave 
like Gerald is." 

Of aU persons in the world Robert Demiison found his cousin 
Lucia the most difficult to get on with. To a man whose forte lies 
in half statements, implied detraction, delicate innuendo, no human 
creature is so embarrassing as one of these matter-of-fact people who 
say " why ? " to everything, and receive every statement made to 
them in its formal and literal meaning. If he had said, " Gerald 
is an empty-headed fop, Gerald spends his time before the glass 
trying on neckties and deliberating as to the colour of kid gloves," 
Lucia, after some consideration, might have admitted the new idea 
to her mind. His covert allusions to cavaliers and lace-ruffles and 
fashion-books, reached her apprehension very much as they would 
have reached the apprehension of a child of six. And this un- 
compromising simplicity, this invincible slowness of comprehension, 
really served Lucia as largeness of heart serves wiser people. ^Yant 
of imagination kept her true ; want of imagination made her just ; 
up to the mark of a child's truth and of a child's justice. 

"You should not be spoiling your eyes by lamp-light, Lucia, 
with such a moon as that telling you to go out in the fresh air," 
Mr Dennison remarked, after watching her quiet face for a minute 
or two. " Would it hurt you, do you think, to have a walk in 
the garden 1 A night like this is rather a treat, you know, to a 
poor smoke-dried Londoner like me." Robert Dennison had 

LUCIA. 87 

reasons for "wishing to talk to Lucia confidentially ; and as he was 
to leave the Court before any of them would be up next morning, 
he knew that this would be his only opportunity of seeing her 

" Mamma, Eobert wishes me to go out with him — may I ? " 

•'Wliat, at nine o'clock? Well, Lucia never does go out so 
late, Eobert, on account of her throat ; but if there is no dew, and 
you keep on the gravel — " 

Dennison ran out through the window, and resting his hand 
down on the turf declared it to be as dry as the carpet ; and then 
Miss Durant, with a shawl pinned round her head, as though she 
had been a very rheumatic old woman, was allowed to go out for 
ten minutes, with strict injunctions to walk fast all the time, and 
Dennison, resolving to make the most of his time, drew her hand 
mthin his arm and marched her far away at once from out of 
hearing of the old people. 

" Eobert has improved," remarked Sir John, when the soimd of 
their footsteps had died away ; '' very much improved. Don't you 
tliink so, Jane 1 " 

" Eobert Dennison looks in good health," answered Lady Du- 
rant's measured voice ; " but that I think he always did. Whaft 
does he say of Gerald 1 " 

"I don't mean improved in health," said Sir John, pettishly; 
'' I mean improved in manners, in bearing, in every way. Eobert 
is a young man who will make his way yet in the world, Lady 
Durant. You will see that." 

" I always thought he would make his way, Sir John, in his 
own walk of life. His father was a person, I believe, who made 
his way in the world — was he not 1 " 

" His father ! Where is the good of talking in that way nov/. 
Lady Durant ? You know very well I disliked this lad's father, 
and I don't tliink it's generous — no, by God ! I don't tliink it's 
generous in you, Jane, to bring up the poor fellow's want of birth 
so constantly ! " 

"My dear Sir John— " 

" Oh, it's all very fine, and of course you said nothing really 
against him ; but I know your tone, and I know how you have 
felt all yoiu' life about Eobert. It would be well for us both, 


Jane, if we had thought more of him, and a little less of that 
scapegrace, Gerald j well for ourselves, and the honour of our 
family too." 

"\\nien Sir John Diu'ant took up an obstinate fit, you might as 
well have sought to move him by argument as to transjilant one 
of his own cedars by a touch of your hand. He had worked him- 
self into real anger towards Gerald this evening ; and Lady Du- 
rant saw that very little was needed to push him into real amity 
towards Dennison. 

" I don't know why you should say we have imdervalued Eo- 
bert," she remarked, very quietly. "I, for one, have ever been 
alive to his good, steady, hard-working qualities." 

" And have made him your favourite ? taken him to youi' heart 
as a son 1 promised him your daughter's hand 1 You have done 
all this for Eobert Dennison, have you not, Jane?" 

" 'No, Sir John, I have not," answered Lady Durant, firmly ; 
"neither have you. Eobert never has been, never can be, as near 
my heart as Gerald is. Gerald took the j)lace to me of my own 
son, and whether he marries Lucia or not, he will hold it." And 
Lady Durant rose, and coming up close beside her husband's arm- 
chair, rested her hand down on his shoulder. 

She was a handsome woman, looking ten years younger than 
her age ; tall, upright, mtli the same pure cut features as Lucia, 
soft grey hair, braided low upon her forehead, and teeth and hands 
that still were beautiful. "With all her sectarian, narrow-minded 
foibles there was a certain old-fashioned honesty, a certain womanly 
refined grace about Lady Durant (rare, perhaps, to meet among 
some of the more liberal-minded London matrons of the present 
day), that invested her with a charm still in the eyes of the hus- 
band of her youth. The calm stagnant atmosphere that had failed 
to develop "the young girl's nature seemed to have preserved that 
of the mature woman in more than ordinary freshness : and as Sir 
John Durant looked up into his wife's face now, something about 
its unwonted emotion, the unwonted sight of tears within her 
eyes, touched hiui stron^^Ij- — these good simple coimtry people, 
who in their old age could still be moved by the expression of 
each other's facGg ! ''I don't ask you to love Eobert Dennison, 

LUCIA. 89 

Oane. I know, keenly enough, how dear Gerald still is to us 
both. All I want is, that we should be just." 

" In what way just, Sir John ? " 

" In not lavishing every good thing upon one lad to the exclu- 
sion of the other. "We have given this house to be Gerald's home, 
we have promised to receive him as a son. That is enough. 
Enough, God knows ! when we consider the gratitude he shows 
us in return." 

" And what is this that you propose to do for Eobert, then ^ 
Tell me. I would rather you told me. I will oppose you in 
nothing that you decide to be wise and just, even if all our happi- 
ness — Lucia's most — has to be sacrificed to what you feel to be 

Wise words — words which showed that, whatever Lady Durant's 
•errors might be regarding the training of daughters, she thoroughly 
understood those smaller tactics of domination which make a 
•clever woman a good wife. In five minutes she was mistress of 
•all the vague projects respecting Eobert's advancement that had 
as yet vacillated across her husband's mind ; and in a quarter of 
an hour Sir John Durant had had his biscuit and half-tumbler of 
'Weak brandy-and-water, and was walking up to his bed, not over 
sorry to take his wife's advice, and defer further conversation with 
" poor Eobert " until his next visit to the Court — until Gerald, at 
least, had returned to England, and had been allowed one more 
chance of vindicating himself. 

" But tell Eobert from me that I shall not forget our conversa- 
tion, Jane." The old man said this as his wife stood and duti- 
fully looked after him from the drawing-room door. " And say 
that I hope to see him again before long — he may bring Conyers 
down with him, if he can — and then we'll talk matters over more 
seriously. And just tell him, too, I have never stayed up later 
than nine since my last attack. It looks unkind to the lad to go 
away without wishing him good-bye." 

All of which Lady Durant very readily promised to do, and 
did, only with a shade less of cordiality in her manner than Eobert 
Dennison could have desired. 

Gain ascendency over his uncJ'^ he might, of that he felt 


assured ; over Lady Durant possibly, in time and with unflagging 
tact and perseverance ; over Lucia never. With her hand resting 
on his arm, the moonlight shining on her face through the dark 
cloister of the overshadowing trees, here, in the old garden, where 
he had played with her any time ever since she could wallc alone, 
Eobert Dennison felt more embarrassed by this simple girl than 
he had ever felt by brow-beating judge or bullying brother bar- 
rister in his life. 

"You — you don't inquire after Gerald," he remarked, when 
they had walked to the farthest terrace in the garden — Lucia's 
terrace, as it was called — and w^hen several commonplace remarks 
had met with nothing but the girl's accustomed quiet " yes " or 
"no." ''But perhaps you don't know that I have seen him?" — 
pressing the hand, ever so gently and compassionately, that rested 
on his arm. 

" Yes, I know it. I heard from Gerald this morning." 
f " Oh ! I did not know. Lucia, dear child, I must be candid 
I did not know that you and Gerald still kept up any correspond- 

Lucia was silent. 

" In the present state of things between Sir John and Gerald, I 
must say, Lucia, that this sui-prises me." 

"Did papa tell you to say this, Eobert ? Don't say it, please, 
unless he did. She dropped her hold of his arm, and looked up 
full at him as she spo]>:e. 

" Your father did not tell me to speak to' you, Lucia. It is my 
own interest in you and in Gerald that makes me do so ; however, 
I will say nothing unless you wish to hear it." 

" I don't wish to hear anything against Gerald, Eobert ; that's 
all. I don't like you to tell tales of him now, any more than I 
used, years ago,, when you were boys." 

" And when you were — what, Lucia ? — a wise little old lady of 
ten or eleven, but just the same, as Gerald says, just the same 
dear little model of good sense and i^ropriety that you are now at 

If he thought to pique her into anger, he was wholly unsuccess- 
ful. Gerald's opinion of her seemed to Lady Duiant's daughter 
rather a compliment than otherwise. 

LUCIA. 91 

"But I shall not be twenty-one till December the 16tli. 
Gerald's birthday is in the same month, you know, ten days later. 

"Ah, yes, and he "will be twenty-six. That is the time at 
which the marriage was to have taken place, if it had taken place 
at all, was it not ? " 

" Of course, Robert. Why do you ask 1 " 

'• I wanted to see if one of you, at least, bore any remembrance 
of the old engagement in mind." 

" Do you mean to tell me that Gerald does nof?" 

Dennison was silent. 

" Do you mean to say that Gerald pretends to forget the old 
engagement, as you call it 1 " 

But now Miss Durant's voice did tremble a little. Pride was 
the strongest feeling by far that she possessed ; and Robert Den- 
nison had at last succeeded in awakening it. 

"I mean this, Lucia," he answered, in a soothing voice, ''that 
Gerald's whole way of living shows him not to be a marrying man. 
Would any one, any man of common sense, who intended to be 
married in six months' time, rest quietly under such an imputation 
as lies on poor Gerald now 1 " 

''I don't believe the imputation. I don't believe a word about 
Gerald and Maggie Hall." 

"And your trust in him does you honour, Lucia, infinite 
honour! I did not question your good faith, remember, for a 
moment" (the girl's hand returned to his arm again), "but his. 
Has Gerald ever come forward and honestly sought to establish 
his innocence to your father and to you ? If he has not, I repeat 
that he has not acted as any man with speedy intention of mar- 
riage in his heart must act." 

In the morning Robert Dennison had first formed the idea of 
some day utilizing Gerald Durant's generosity to himself; had 
formed it ; then put it away from his mind with a feeling of self- 
abasement at having thought so vile a thing. And now, seven or 
eight hours later — so c^uickly do a man's steps acquire impetus 
upon the downward road, he was putting it into practice with 
scarce a qualm. Miss Durant's heart swelled bitterly as she list- 
ened to him. She knew, only too well, that Gerald had not 
openly come forward as he might have done ; that there had been 


evident evasion on his part whenever Lady Burant had pressed 
him for prox)fs of his innocence ; that he had acted, in short, not 
as a man would act in a case upon which the vital happiness of 
his life was at stake. 

"I don't suppose Gerald is what is called in love with me, 
Eobert," and she turned her pale face far away in the moonlight ; 
".not in love as people are in novels and poetry, and all that. He 
knows w^e are to be married, and that every one looks upon it as 
settled, and so he just hasn't taken any trouble, I suppose, to set 
himself formally right with papa. I don't like it, mind," she 
added, " and I don't think Grerald has acted quite as he ought to 
have done, for my sake, but that's all the anger, all the malice, I 
shall ever feel against him. I knoio Gerald has had no part at all 
in the disappearance of Maggie Hall." 

"Ah! If I ever have a wife, Lucia, may she be possessed of a 
heart and of a faith like yours. Gerald's tardiness in asserting his 
innocence is, you think, no presumptive proof even of his guilt." 

'' Please don't argue with me, Eobert, or say anything legal. I 
know Gerald has had nothing to do with Maggie Hall's disappear- 

" May I ask why ? " 

*' Because — Eobert, I don't know that mamma would like me to 
talk about this to you." 

'' I am very sure she would, Lucia. I am very sure Lady Du- 
rant would judge my motives aright in having brought this subject 

"Yery well, then, if you make me speak, I must. Gerald 
never once thought of Maggie in the way of admii'ation, because 
you — yes, you, Eobert — were so in love with her yourself." 
• The unexpectedness of the blow made Eobert Dennison literally 
stagger. "Was it possible — this was his first thought — that Gerald 
or that Maggie had betrayed him after all ? 

'^ It is not a very flattering reason as far as I am concerned," 
went on Lucia, in her childish way ; " but then Gerald never has 
pretended ever not to flirt because he was engaged, and if that had 
been all I might have believed this story, as other people have 
done. But Gerald would never have tried to rival you, never ! I 
don't know why, but I feel it's a thing he would not have (ione." 

LUCIA. 93 

'' And may I ask if Lady Durant shares this idea of yours, my 
little wise Lucia ? " asked Dennison, with a very sorry attempt at 
a laugh, as he spoke. 

" Mamma 1 Oh, no ! At least, I should think not. But then 
mamma never speaks of anything of the kind. The wise idea is 
mine, and mine alone, Eobert ; but I am not a bit less sure tliat 
I am right, for all that." 

- Dennison breathed freer again. The speech, after all, had been 
only one of those terrible guesses at truth which Lucia's stupid, 
unimaginative mind seemed to have the mysterious knack of 
making ; a guess unfounded upon reason, and which the next idea 
that gained ingress into her small brain would dispossess." 

''I wish it were as you think, my dear little cousin ; but, glad 
as I should be to clear Gerald, I really must disclaim the honour 
you assign to me. I never even admired this Susan — no, Mary 
—Maggie Hall." 

" Susan — Mary — Maggie ! Why, Eobert, you lived down at 
Heathcotes ! You were always running after Maggie at one time. 
You had not a word to say but about Maggie's figure and Maggie's 
eyes ; and now you pretend you don't even remember her name ! " 
The dark blood rose up on Dennison's face. 
" I did not know you listened to this sort of scandal, Lucia. I 
should have thought you, of all girls, were beyond the village on 
dits and the gossip of the servants' hall," he exclaimed, angrily. 

" I never heard anything from the servants, or in the village 
either. All that I heard was from you, and from poor Maggie 

Now Eobert Dennison knew well that Lucia, as a little girl, 
had been familiar with Maggie Hall. Lady Durant, who would 
let her associate with none of the children of their rich manufac- 
turing neighboiu's, having encouraged the child to be friendly, in 
a certain aristocratic, affable little way with all the tenants' chil- 
dren on her father's land. As Miss Durant, of Durant, grew to 
be a woman, her intimacy with the pretty dairy-maid had, of 
course, gradually subsided into a few kind words on one side, a 
humble curtsy and deferential answer on the other, when they 
chanced to meet. Still, much of the old feeling of companionship 
had doubtless survived the days of outward familiarity; and 


Dennison trembled to think what confidence respecting himself 
might not, in some moment of unwonted condescension on Lucia's 
part, have been exchanged. 

" Maggie was a vain, foolish girl," he remarked, coldly. " Wo- 
men of that class are always thinking every man above them in 
rank must be in love with them." 

''Maggie did not," answered Lucia. "And as to vanity, I 
wonder she was so little vain, considering how you all admired 
her. Why, I remember — let me see, it must be about a year ago 
— a few weeks before she went away, there were you and Mr 
Luttrell and Sir Greorge Chester, all wild about Maggie's good 
looks at once ! It's absurd for you to deny it, Eobert, or to say 
that you were not for ever runniug down on some excuse or other 
to Heathcotes — all of you." 

" All of us ; yes, Lucia. All of us — Luttrell, Chester, Gerald, 
and myself — but chiefly Gerald ! " 

" 1^0, Robert j no, no, no," said Lucia, more firmly than he had 
ever known her to say anything in her life. " Gerald least of all. 
Gerald, in the way of attention or admiration, never." 

" I can only repeat, Lucia, that when I marry, I hope my wife 
will be possessed of a simple trusting heart like yours. The sub- 
ject is not one I can discuss more freely with you," added Eobert 
Dennison, loftily, " and so we will leave it where it is." He most 
heartily w'ished, at that moment, that he had never gone near it at 
all. " I spoke to you in entire good faith, and with no thought 
but of your happiness, Lucia," he added, reproachfully; "and you 
certainly have turned the tables upon me in a way I had no right 
to expect." 

" I have said what I think true, Eobert, and I shall keep to it. 
Maggie Hall never thought of Gerald, never cared for him, except 
as she might have cared for papa or for any of us, and she did care 
for you. Why, I used to watch her face as she sat in the gallery 
at church, and when you only walked up the aisle, she would turn 
white and red by turns ; and once when I met her in the park, 
not a week before she left, and I happened to mention you, she 
looked as if she could have fallen to the ground with confusion. 
Nothing on earth -will change me : Gerald knows no more about 
Maggie Hall's disappearance than I do." 

LUCIA. 95 

Just at this moment, Lady Durant's tall figure appeared in the 
moonlight a few paces from where they stood; and in another 
minute, much to her cousin's relief, Lucia was reminded of the 
falling dew and of her delicate throat, and sent off, like a little 
girl of six, to the house. Eobert Dennison was in no mood to re- 
commence the jMaggie Hall controversy with another member of 
the family, but on their way back to the house he did vaguely at- 
tempt to sound Lady Durant on electioneering matters, and on Sir 
John's intentions respecting the candidate he meant to support in 
the coming struggle. 

'^ I know no more about it all than you do, dear Eobert," was 
Lady Durant's answer. "Your uncle is far, very far from strong 
at present, and it would not surprise me if, after all, he should 
take no part whatever in the election. Politics have .never been his 
vocation, as you know ; and, in spite of all the talk there has been 
about making Gerald stand, I have very much doubt, when it comes 
to the point, if your uncle or Gerald either will muster courage 
enough to go through the trouble of canvassing." 

" Trouble ! " repeated Dennison, bitterly. *' Imagine any man 
thinking of trouble when the interests of all his future life are at 
stake. Indifferent as Gerald is, you surely do not hold so low an 
estimate of him as that." 

''Well," answered Lady Durant, evasively ; "my own opinion is 
that Gerald is a great deal too young, a great deal too unsettled in his 
beliefs, to think of public life at present. In another five years, 
when he has come^to your age, and I hope to your steadiness, 
Eobert, there may be some reason in talking of all this ; but I 
reaUy don't see how a boy who cannot yet legislate for himself, is 
to do any good to his country by attempting to legislate for others. 
Come in, Eobert " (they had reached the drawing-room window 
now), " unless you wish to smoke your cigar, and hear Lucia sing. 
I want you to tell me what you think of her voice, and what songs 
there are in tliis new opera you spoke of at dinner that would be 
likely to suit her." 

Eobert Dennison spent another hour in friendly chat with Lady 
Durant ; listened patiently to Lucia's songs ; gave grave opinions 
as to the disorders of Sesame the parrot ; drew a pretty little design 
for a new Sunday-school out of his own head j and wrote down 


with infinite attention the different commissions in china and "svool- 
work that he was to execute for his dear aunt before his next visit 
to the Court. 

And still, in spite of all these amenities, and even of Lady 
Durant, a very rare event, tendering a cold cheek for him to kiss 
at parting, when Mr Dennison was on his road back to London 
next morning, it did not seem to him as though his journey into 
Staffordshire had been a thorouglily successful one. 



Eeader, have jow ever known wdiat it was to be brought to bay 
"with fortune, when you were living alone in a common London 
lodging ? It is a condition of human . wretchedness the hke of 
wliich cannot, I tliink, exist in the country. A new-ploughed 
field, a leafless forest, a snow-spread common, every dreariest country 
sight, could never surely equal the dreariness of this great sea of 
human faces, the solitude of these Bable-tongued streets, the utter 
homelessness of these rooms, with their dingy furniture, their airless 
atmosphere, then' inhuman landlady. Had that last interview of 
Robert Dennison and his wife taken place anywhere else in the 
world, ISIaggie might possibly have ralKed after it. She was a girl, 
with all a girl's fresh springs of life in her heart still ; and who 
shall say that a sight of blue sky, a waft of garden-flowers, a word 
from a hearty country tongue, might not just then have been her 
salvation? But she got none of these, and she went straight to 
despair, as I shall show you. 

" If you betray me I swear I -will never touch your hand, never 
look upon your face save as a stranger, again." 

The words rang in her tender heart as the burthen of an un- 
hallowed song will ring through and torture some pure soul in the 
delirium of brain-fever. The mask was off at last, and she saw her 
life bared before her ; her life, not as she wanted it to be, but as it 
was. Her occupation was gone. She would never, or not for 


years, which at her age is the same as never, live with Eobert 
openly before men as his wife. In winter evenings she. would not 
share liis fireside ; in winter nights her head would rest on a lonely 
pillow; in long summer days like this she would have to drag 
tlirough the hours "without husband, or home, or work (the last, 
although she did not know it, the direst privation to her). She 
had no high ambition. She had married Eobert for love ; not 
because he was a gentleman. A nice little cottage with a garden, 
the household to look after, Eobert to love, children some day to 
niu-se and v/ork for, these, with perhaps the natural adjuncts of a 
very bright dress and bonnet for Sunday, had been the limits of 
her wildest dreams. They were over now. Eobert was not going 
to live with her. Eobert, of his own free will, had proposed that 
she should go away from England ; had threatened that if she be- 
trayed him, he would never look upon her face again. Her life, 
her hope, her desire had died by a solitary cruel blow; as yours 
and as mine have done perhaps, ere now, reader ! and no kindly 
accident befell her, as in your case and in mine it may have done, 
to save her body from following the death of the soul. 

She sat in the place where he had left her all the evening, the 
evening during which he was eating his excellent dinner, drinking 
his excellent wine at the Court, blankly staring at the pattern of 
the paper on the opposite wall, and at one wretched daub of a 
picture that hmig there, and seemed in some sort to force itself as 
a human companion upon her. This picture was a portrait in oils 
of a fair, fuU-blo^vn woman of middle age, dressed in black satin, 
with a grand lace-collar, a brooch, watch-chain, and rings upon the 
fat fingers, that were crossed blandly in front of her ample waist, 
an aunt or mother of the landlady's probably. Was she happy ? 
Maggie wondered vaguely. Had this woman had a husband who 
loved her and let her live under his roof? Had children kissed 
her face, children's arms clung around her neck 1 With a sicken- 
ing jealousy she felt sure, somehow, that these things had been 
so. Content was written on all that smooth face and corpulent 
figure. The woman had possessed what made her life good, or 
she would never, at forty-five, have had the heart to dress out in 
her best, and sit do^vn and smirk and fold her hands before a por- 


' *' Fancy me, five-and-twenty years on, wanting my faded face 
to be put in a picture ! " the girl thought. " And noAv that I am 
twenty, there's no one that wants it — no one that wouldn't be 
glad over me the day I was put into my coffin and hid away. 
And I am handsomer than ever that woman could have been when 
she was young ! " And then she got up, for the first time since 
her husband had left, and went and examined herself in the two 
feet of looking-glass that hung over the fire-place. 

It was a glass that, like others of its kind, lengthened and flat- 
tened the features, and gave a sickly green hue to the skin ; but 
when she had looked in it, in the white dress and with the flower 
in her breast, before Eobert came, Maggie had thought, in spite of 
all defects, what a pretty girl she was. She made no allowances 
for the glass now. She saw a pale hard-lined face, without beauty, 
without grace, without youth. This face was hers ; and the 
thought that she was not even handsome any longer, gave a sharp 
finishing blow to her heart — the sharpest blow, perhaps, that, in 
her present state, she could have received. 

Late in the evening the lodging-servant brought in her tea as 
usual. She was a slip-shod, gaunt-eyed child of sixteen, with a 
brain confused by constant bells and scoldings, and limbs pre- 
maturely exhausted by excessive work ; a poor, stealing, falsehood- 
telling little London slavey, but attached to Maggie because she 
was lenient as to cold meat, and had given her a faded Paris 
bonnet or two, and an old smart parasol. 

" Law, Miss, how duU you must be, sitting alone here ! If I'd 
a' known the gentleman were gone I'd a brought the tea-things up 
before. Wouldn't you like a slice of 'am Avith your tea now, miss ? 
I can run over the ways in a minute and get a plate for you. 
Fourpence-halfpenny the quarter of a pound." 

The offer was not a disinterested one. Maggie, in her attempts 
to get away from the loathsome lodging cooking, had had plates of 
cut ham before ; on each of which occasions the half-starv^ed girl, 
knowing that the second-floor never "troubled" about her cut 
meat, had had what to her was a saturnalia of animal food on her 
way down to the kitchen. But the hoarse voice that spoke, the 
eyes that looked at her from that dirty face, were human, and a 
choking sensation rose in Maggie's throat. Here was one person 

"my life is weary." 99 

at least on tlie earth — this poor forlorn lodging-house drudge — 
who would not stand by hard-eyed, as every one else in London, in 
the world, would, and see her misery ! 

"I'm not hungry, Mary, thank you. I made a pretty good 
dinner. Just bring my bedroom candle up at once and" — she 
hesitated strangely as she said this — " you can eat the cold lamb 
for your o^vn supper if yoa like. I shan't want it any more." 

"When she was alone she drank a cup of tea, and then tried to 
put some bread between her lips. She could no more have 
swallowed it than have swallowed a stone ; it seemed hard and 
tasteless^ quite unlike any food she had ever eaten in her life, and 
something in this new sensation frightened her. Was she going 
to be ill, alone, here 1 — to be ill and to die, perhaps, without seeing 
Eobert again; without letting the people "down home" know 
that she never had been a wicked girl, or disgraced them while she 
lived ! 

She went across to her window, seated herself, and looked 
wearily from behind the blind at such life as at this time of an 
August evening was to be seen in Cecil Street. If she could only 
tire herself she would sleep, she thought; and, after she had slept, 
things might look different. And so she stayed on and on, until 
the city clocks chimed midnight, and till the aching heaviness of 
her eyes and brain made her hope that forgetfulness indeed was at 

But it was not. When she had undressed herself — for the first 
time in her life not folding her clothes neat and trim, but leaving 
them lying on the floor, just as they fell from her — when she had 
undressed herself and laid her head down on her pillow, instead 
of sleep her sorrow came back to her with redoubled strength. 
This fact of no longer caring for herself made her realize how 
utterly she was uncared for by Eobert. Till to-night she had 
always liked the labour of brushing her hair ; did not he admire 
it 1 — telling her that its silky smoothness, its glossy black, were 
lovelier than aU the red-dyed, frizzled locks of fashionable ladies ; 
had liked to hang up her dress and speculate as to whether she 
could wear it one more day to " look fresh " or not ; had sat often 
half an hour or more trying this little bit of finery or that before the 
glass, and feeling a zest and pleasure in her good looks as she noted 


tlie effect of each. All this was over. He had ceased to love 
her. What good was her youth or her l^eauty ? "What interest 
had she in her hair or dress, in anything, for the matter of 
that ? A gui without a girl's vanities ; a wife without a vrife's 
honour. This was to be her future life. Xo use glozing it over. 
She was not to live with Eobert. Unless she forfeited the last 
possibility of his love, she was never to tell the people down home 
that she was not living a life of shame. And then the burthen of 
all her misery, Robert Dennison's last cruel threat, rang again and 
again through her heart. 

One, two, three o'clock struck ; and still her eyes had not 
closed. She was unused to sleeplessness, and, like the bitter taste 
of the bread, it frightened her. Could she do nothing to get sleep 
— one blessed hour of sleep — ten minutes — any sleep to stand 
between her and yesterday'- ? In the cupboard of her sitting-room, 
she remembered, there was a little bottle of laudanum that the 
landlady had once persuaded her to send for when she had face- 
ache. Perhaps if she drank some of it it might send her off, or 
make her forget herself, or ease her heart in some way. She got 
up, struck a light, and went and fetched the bottle from the ad- 
joining-room. " Laudanum — Poison," was all the information the 
label conveyed. People who buy laudanum general!}" understand 
the quantity of it that will suit their purpose. At all events the 
law of England does not require chemists to give them any more 
special information than that of " Poison." Maggie held the 
bottle up to the candle and wondered what was the quantity she 
ought to take. She had a profoimd instinctive horror, like all 
country people, against medicine, and was resolved not to take an 
over-dose. The rector's wife down home used to take a table- 
spoonful of some mixture of this coloiu' for palpitation, she re- 
membered; but she wouldn't take as much as a table -spoonful 
herself. She would try a tea-spoonful first, and if she didn't feel 
better, take more in half an hour. And so she measured out a 
tea-spoonfid, she who had never had opium in any shape, never 
taken a narcotic or a stimulant stronger than elder wine, and put 
it to her lips. 

Had she swallowed it, the story of Mr Dennison's future life 
might have been a very different one : but the bitter vapid flavour 


of the laudanum made lier leave more than a third in the spoon. 
She took in reality between thirty and forty drops perhaps ; a 
powerful dose for her with her overwrought brain and exhausted 
frame ; then put out the light, laid her head down tight upon her 
pillow, and resolved to force herself to sleep. 

And the mockery of sleep did, for a time, overcome her. When 
she had been still about a quarter of an hour a sort of stupor, 
for the first time that night, stole over her brain; a delicious feel- 
ing of relaxation accompanied by ever so faint a sense of numb- 
ness, made her tightly-clasped hands fall asunder from her breast ; 
and she began to think, with an indescribable ecstatic joy, of the 
fresh green fields and shady lanes of Heathcotes. This lasted — 
who shall say how long ? she could not have told herself, when 
next morning she looked back upon the night, whether it was for 
a moment or for an hour : then, suddenly, a loud rumbling noise, 
some hea^dly-laden waggon going down the Strand already, though 
day was not yet breaking, brought her back with a start of con- 
sciousness to where she was, a semi-consciousness more horrible 
by far than all the hours before, when she had lain wide awake, 
and thinking with clear vision of her trouble. Bodily pain of the 
acutest form was added to her suffering now. Her mouth was 
parched and poison-tainted ; an iron hand seemed to clench her 
head ; every limb felt tortured by its position, and yet unable to 
move from it. It was a waking nightmare ; for awake she was : 
the light from the street-lamps, mixing abeady with some greyish 
oncoming of morning, fell upon the furniture around the room, 
and she saw it all distinctly. She was here in Cecil Street, and 
Robert had been cruel to her — the eternal burthen here still ! and 
her life was spoilt, and she was not to have home or joeace or 
honour for weary years, j^ot one sharp point blunted of her 
actual grief! And then again, close follomng upon this, and 
horribly mingling with Cecil Street and the dingy furniture of her 
rooms, she saw the fields at Heathcotes, no longer green and fresh ; 
but parched, desert, stony. And she toiled through these fields 
long, seeking her herd in vain, and when at length she came upon 
them, they took fright and rushed away from her a space, and then 
turned and looked at her. And Daisy, and Star, and Flower, the 
dainty gentle beasts she had tended as if they had been her sisters, 


were gentle no longer. They had hard ferocious eyes ; they had 
human faces ; they changed into a crowd of men and women, a 
noisome crowd on a London pavement, and she was among them, 
fainting, and alone, and crying for Eobert ! And Robert did not 
come. The hoarse din from the now-awakening streets, not the 
voice that should have soothed her, broke in on her dream again ; 
and then with a start she sprang from her pillow, and found that 
day — God! another fresh, happy, summer day — was shining in 
upon her face. 

The very thought of sleep had become too hideous for her to 
attempt to court it again. She got up, and with stiffened, aching 
limbs, tottered across the room to the window, opened it, and 
looked out. Five o'clock struck at this minute — the hour at 
which, summer and mnter, she had left her bed at Heathcotes ; 
and suddenly all the scene upon which her little chamber window 
looked, rose up with vivid distinctness upon her memory. She 
saw it as it must be looking now on this fair August morning. 
The sycamore that brushed her pane, and shaded half the trim- 
kept flower-garden in front of the farm-house ; the laurel hedge 
and wicket-gate that bounded the garden from the road; the 
village-green and the horse-pond ; the town- tree and the foot-worn 
space where the children plaj'-ed beneath its shade, — in fancy she 
could see it all ; could hear the carving of the rooks in the distant 
woods of the Court ; the hearty voices of the harvesters as they 
started, their sickles slung across their shoulders, to their work. 
Her fancy showed her this : what did her senses show her in the 
flesh ? Houses black Avith smoke, with gas, with all the nameless 
exhalations of London, barring the sky away not thirty feet from 
her window. In the street beneath, the following human beings : 
— A youngish-looking man, his face half deadly pale, half fever- 
flushed, walking along with slouching steps, and with no great- 
coat to hide his embroidered wine-stained linen, the remnant of a 
dandy's bouquet in his button-hole j his well-cut but disordered 
evening clothes ; a man about whom it was safe to assert that his 
night had been spent in losing money — perchance higher things 
than money — and who was now carrying away with him the time- 
honoured fruit of such pleasure. Two wan-faced girls, with holes 
in their boots and mock roses in their hats, the elder of whom 


looked about seventeen. A man or woman, a Imman being at 
least, huddled in rags, drunk or asleep on the doorstep of an 
opposite house. Finally, and approaching the last-named object, 
doubtless to move it on from unconsciousness back to despair — a 

The morning, of course, had broken upon thousands of pure and 
happy lives in London on that second day of August. These were 
the lives on which Maggie chanced to see it dawn : the servants 
of sin : the waif and stray of the street : the mechanical wooden- 
faced representative of the law. Of each of the two first classes 
she had only such acquaintance as an honest-nurtured country girl 
could have ; but scanty as was her real knowledge of life, one thing 
about these people was as distinctly patent to her at that moment 
as it was ever to the statesman or philanthropist who makes such 
subjects his study — their misery. Was the man in his evening 
dress a sensualist, a gambler, reaping only the rightful harvest he 
himself had sowed ? Maggie neither knew nor reckoned. She had 
had one look of his bloodless face as he went along, and it was 
miserable. Were those young girls — the age of Miss Lucia's 
eldest Sunday scholars at home — to be accounted sinners, or sinned 
against 1 She never thought about it. They were hollow-eyed 
and hoarse-voiced ; for she heard a sorry word from one of them 
as they passed : they were miserable. And the human animal 
crouched in rags that the policeman was already attempting, not 
too gently, to dislodge from its brutal sleep 1 Miserable, miserable. 
Where was providence ? Where was God's mercy ? Had He for- 
gotten all these people 1 Was she to know for certain that He had 
not forgotten her 1 Down home there was the little church still, 
and the minister's pitying voice to call back to rest all those who 
laboured and were heavy laden ; down home there were Miss Lucia 
and Lady Durant to speak to on Sundays, and Sir John himself 
to be the friend of every one who hungered, or who sinned. But 
home was shut against her : lost for ever, imless she regained it 
at the horrible price of losing Eobert. And salvation out of 
Heathcotes, happiness without Eobert, seemed aKke impossible to 
her — nay, the very idea of alien consolation never even crossed her 
mind. All her nature was love. Common sense, hope, religion 
itself, had gone down in the crash that love had newly sustained. ] 


During the day that followed food pavssed Maggie's lips twice. 
A mouthful of bread loathingly swallowed for breakfast ; another 
smaller quantity with a cup of tea in the afternoon. She was no 
longer frightened at its bitter taste now. She had grown apathetic 
to the wan image, with lustreless eyes and bloodless cheeks, that 
looked at her from the glass as she moved about the room. If 
she was going to be ill, did it matter much? She would see 
Eobert once first ; of that she was resolved ; then lay her head 
down on the first stone she came to, and die. Death couldn't be 
very much worse than her sleep had been after she took the 
''stuff" last night. She hadn't been a bad girl ; she was not much 
afraid of death. Only — only she must see Eobert, kiss his lips 
again, and make him swear to tell them down in Staffordshire that 
she had been his wife, and had not brought disgrace on them while 
she lived. 

At about six o'clock she went to her bedroom, packed up all her 
clothes and trinkets, carefully labelling her boxes " Miss JSTeville," 
the name she went under, and then sent for the landlady and paid 
her her bill. She was going to leave England — this was the story 
she always told when she left her different lodgings — ^but was to 
spend a couple of days with a friend in another part of London 
first. Her boxes should be sent for, either to-night or to-morrow 

This done she put on her shabby walking-things ; said good-bye 
to the servant, pressing her dirty hand lightly as she deposited 
in it a parting gift, and then left the house and walked slowly 
away towards the Temple. 

Her white forlorn face met with scanty notice in the streets : an 
occasional rude stare or jostle, perhaps, amidst the crowd of men 
hurrying westward from the city : but nothing so marked as to 
frighten her until she had nearly reached Temple Bar, when the 
following incident befell her: an incident almost laughable to 
write or read about, but that was fraught witli intensest agony to 
her, coming at the time it did. 

In her hurry of going out she had taken small notice of how she 
dressed ; had put on her shawl awry perhaps ; or folded it so as 
to trail on the dusty pavement as she walked. Something, at all 
events, there was in her appearance — the dingy velvet hat in 


August, possibly — wliicli attracted the notice of a small errand- 
boy of about eleven, ^vllo, an empty basket over his shoulder, vras 
loitering at an eating-house window whistling the last street tune 
vehemently as she went by. Her eyes chanced to meet his ; and 
in a second he had twisted his features into a grimace, diabolically 
expressive of amusement and contempt : the- genuine gamin's 
weapon of aggression all over the world. The blood rushed into 
Maggie's face, and her tormentor with delight saw that he had got 
hold of a bit of amusement. The girl had "risen," an accident 
that not once in a thousand times occurs to these mcliins among a 
London crowd. What followed I hate to write of. He pursued, 
or more truly preceded, her by about two steps ; looking back into 
her face ; and ever and anon giving whoops or unearthly whistles, 
in that sort of ventriloquistic tone which long warfare mth the 
police teaches to the whole gamin race. He asked slang questions 
about the poor black velvet hat, he put her through the whole 
IJeine forte et dure with which his education had acquainted him. 

In happier days Maggie would have been as callous as any 
woman living to the child's persecution — if indeed it amounted to 
jDersecution ; he was but indulging his instinct for sport, a? anglers 
or hunstmen do, unmindful of his -vdctim's pain. She was no 
carefull^^-nurtm-ed lady, but a robust country peasant girl, ac- 
customed to keep a dozen rough farm-servants as much in their 
place as she liked ; but in her present state of bodily and mental 
abandonment, tliis child's conduct seemed like the last indignity 
that fortime coidd offer her. She had sunk so low that children 
mocked at her as she walked abroad in the streets ! Writhing 
under his jokes and grimaces, ever hoping that she had lost her 
tormentor in the crowd, and ever seeing his mocking face again 
just ahead of her, again she went on until she had passed Temple 
Bar. Then, suddenly, the thought struck her that she must be 
close to where Robert lived. What would he think of her arriving 
on foot and with soiled dress ; perhaps mth this dreadful com- 
panion jibing at her even at his door. With an abrupt impulse 
she tm-ned and spoke to him : 

"Where is the Temple, please? I'm quite a stranger here." 
Her voice was hoarse and weak, and the words came falteringly 
from her dry lips. 


" The Temple 1 Tvhy this be the Temple, in here to the right.** 
With the first word his victim spoke the gamin had become 
human. He looked at the woman with a sort of pity. A human 
creature who could walk along the Strand and ask the way to the 
Temple was something removed from liis experiences altogether. 
She wasn't drunk, he saw, nor an idiot; the two phases of 
humanity most exquisitely ludicrous to a street-boy's perceptions ; 
perhaps, in spite of her shabby hat, she was a lady too grand to 
know her way, and ready and able to present halfpence to persons 
who should point it out. 

This last wild imagination was confirmed on the spot by the 
woman drawing out a purse from her pocket. She took a shilling 
from its scanty contents, and held it to him. " Get me a cab, 
child," she said, faintly. " I can go no farther." 

" It isn't thirty yards," said the boy, " nor twenty neither. I'll 
show you the way — ^just where you see the Bobby a-standing." 

He gazed at her in a sort of rapture. It was the first time in 
his life he had possessed a shilling of his own ; and the vague fear 
struck him that if a cabman even were called upon the scene his 
unlawfid gains might be wrested from him. 

" It ain't worth while to call a cab, it's only as fur as that there 
Bobby," he repeated. " You come alonger me, and I'll show you 
the way, miss." 

The voice even of this child, who had hunted her down in her 
misery, had power to touch Maggie yet. It was a good sign that 
he spoke civilly to her, she thought. Could Eobert spurn her 
when even this little outcast of the street behaved humanely to 
her at last 1 — forgetting, poor heart, that the humanity had been 
purchased by a shilling *? 

The foolish thought gave her failing limbs strength to totter 
on anew. The child, hiding his shilling cunningly in his brown 
hand, guided her past the " Bobby " to her destination, and in 
another five minutes Maggie stood, her breath coming in sobs, the 
cold dews standing thick around her whitened lips, at the door 
of her husband's chambers. 




There were few tilings Eobert Dennison undertook which he 
did not do well, but, perhaps, the giving of small dinner-parties 
was the one thing in life he did best. No man better understood, 
than he, how to introduce his wines at exactly the proper moment; 
no man better understood — the ulterior object of the evening being 
loo — how to promote conviviality among his guests, and yet keep 
his own brain cool and collected, as a host's should be. His little 
dinner on the 2nd of August, his last party this season, promised 
to be an unusually successful one. Gerald Durant's place was to 
be filled up by another guileless Guardsman, young Sholto Mclver 
(a blue-eyed boy, to whose somewhat vacuous face Mr Dennison 
had taken one of his sudden kindly fancies), and the other three 
guests were all of them young men, and of the cheerful, open dis- 
position he best liked in his companions. 

" I don't care a bit about whether I win or lose," he was accus- 
tomed to say, with charming frankness, when play was discussed. 
" In fact, I care very little really about cards, as cards ; but when 
thi-ee or four men dine together, a game of loo serves to pass away 
the evening, and what I do like is to have fellows who will play 
pleasantly; one ill-tempered man spoils the enjoyment of the 

So on the present occasion there was not one ill-tempered man 
invited. AH were delightfully fresh in the belief that to take 
" miss," when first in hand, is a winning system of playing loo; also 
that Robert Dennison was one of the best-hearted, most genial 
fellows living. And, in very good temper, Mr Dennison had seen 
to the arrangement of the table and the wines ; and now, just at the 
moment w^hen his wife rang at the bell, was finishing dressing in 
the adjoining room ; whistKng low to himself an air from Fidelio, 
but incorrectly — an ear for music was the one gift Robert Dennison 
did not possess — as he gave the last finishing touch to his incom- 
parable whiskers, before putting on his coat. 

Maggie was announced to him vaguely, by his boy, as " a young 



person ;" and expecting to see the lad from the confectioner's with 
the ice, or the girl from Covent Garden with the peaches for 
dessert, Mr Dennison, after a minute or two, w\alked good-humour- 
edly into the dining-room, admiring the newly-shaped nails of his 
white hands, as he walked, and whistling, still out of tune, that air 
from Fidelio. 

■ Maggie had turned with her face away from the bright evening 
light, and for one moment after he entered he saw only the gilded 
outline of a woman's figure, standing with her back to the window, 
and did not recognize her. She was about the height of the girl 
who brought his fruit and flowers from CoA^ent Garden. 

" Half an hour late, again," he cried, in his kindly, condescend- 
ing way ; "half an hour late, again. I suppose I must excuse you 
this time, but — Maggie ! " 

She had lifted her veil, and with a sudden inovement was at his 

"Don't be angry, Eobert ! please don't be angry — I shan't do it 
again, but I wearied so to see you ! " And she caught his hand, 
his cool, newly-washed hand, smelling of almond soap, and set oif 
by stud and ring, and faultless linen, and held it tight between her 
own poor shabbily-gloved ones, then lifted it to her lips. "Don't 
be angry with me, Robert, now don't ! It is for the last time." 

Robert Dennison's face grew dark with passion. 

A man not at all a villain might well be enraged at such a visit, 
when any moment might bring three or foiu* open-eyed bachelor 
friends into his chambers. But he kept his presence of mind and, 
instead of speaking at once, thought. "What would be the quick- 
est way of getting rid of her ? To take care that no such visit 
should ever, by possibility, occur again woidd be to-morrow's work. 
In the first moment that he recognized her he decided about that. 
His task now was to get rid of her : noiselessly, good-humouredly, 
quickly ; above all, quickly. 

"I don't want to be angry with you, Maggie, but really you ought 
not to have come here. Some men are coming to dine with me, 
and if you were to be seen, you know, it — " 

" It wouldn't matter much," she interrupted him, in a voice 
curiously unlike her own, and with a short, bitter laugh. "They 
don't know you are married, and you could easily explain my being 


here. They'd none of them be much struck by my beauty, for 
certain ! The worst they could do would be to joke you a bit for 
your want of taste. Look at me, Eobert," turning her face sud- 
denly round to the light. '' I'm not looking handsome to-day, am I'?" 

Her pure, marble skin was saffron-hued ; her bloodshot eyes 
had lost their brilliancy and their colour ; a strange drawn look 
about the mouth had oldened her by ten years from what she was 
when Dennison had seen her last. 

'' You are looking very ill, Maggie — awfully ill ! Tbis kind of 
thing won't do at all. You are fretting yourself to death, child, 
about nothing. Now, just let me send for a cab at once, and do 
you go home, like a good girl, and to-morrow — " 

He moved his hand out towards the bell, but she caught tight 
hold of it again. " If you send for a cab for me I won't go in it. 
Where am I to go to ? What do you mean by ' home ^ ' I've 
paid off the lodgings and left them. You may send for my things 
to-morrow, if you like ; and there is nowhere for me to stop but 
here. Eobert, Avill you let me stop here 1 It's my rightful place, 
you know." 

Then Eobert Dennison scrutinized his wife's face and way of 
speaking more closely, and a new suspicion overcame him— a 
horrible, a gross suspicion ; but remember, his mind was gross, 
unimaginative, unsympathetic, ever putting the coarsest, most 
common-place interpretation on the action of every man or woman 
with whom he had to deal. That sallow skin, this thick utter- 
ance, those lustreless eyes, those trembling hands ! How could be 
have been so blind as not to see the true state of the case at once 1 
It was not a matter for argument or gentle treatment at all. This 
miserable girl had sought the usual refuge women of her birth do 
seek under their vulgar troubles ; this girl whom he had been 
madly in love with, his wife, whom in another five minutes three 
or four of his friends would find in such a state as this in his 

" You will get into a cab in one minute's time, and you will go 
to your lodgings. Tell the people you have changed your mind, 
and must stop there another night, and to-morrow, to-morrow 
early, I shall see you." And with no very gentle force he took 
her hand from his, and rung the bell. 


Maggie stood passive while he ordered the boy to get a cab, " a 
four-wheeled cab immediately for this lady." Then, when they 
were alone, she came close to him again, and put her arm up 
round his neck. "I'm glad I've been here, dear," she whispered, 
unconscious of the repulsion of his face, " I'm glad I've seen you 
looking like this." She passed her hand half-frightened, half-ad- 
miring, over the silk facings of his dress-coat. " You were dressed 
so the first evening I ever began to think of you, Kobert ; the 
evening that you walked down to the farm with the other gentle- 
men after dinner. You were the handsomest of them all; and 
you joked me and asked me if I'd got a sweetheart ; and then, 
when the rest were gone — do you mind 1 — you stopped and talked 
to me over the laurel hedge ; and when you went away you asked 
me to walk next night by the plantation, and I went. Ah, I'm 
glad I've seen you, dear ! It has made me soft again. Eobert, I 
have always loved you. Mind that when I am gone." 

He shifted uncomfortably from her clasp. The pure warm arm 
around his neck, the satin head upon his breast, her words, her 
gentleness, recalled to him Maggie in the days of his short-lived 
passion for her, and shamed him out of his base suspicion of a 
minute ago. But his eyes fell at this very moment upon the 
time-piece, and he saw that it wanted five minutes only to eight 
o'clock, and at eight o'clock his friends he knew would be in his 

*' I don't know what you mean by *gone,' Maggie. You are no 
more likely to die than ; and as to leaving in any other way, 
you told me pretty plainly yesterday your intentions about that." 

"And I'm of the same mind still, Eobert. Are you? Are you 
determined still you will not have me to live with you?" 

" My dear girl, what is the use of discussing all this now 1 We 
settled everything yesterday, very amicably indeed, as it seemed 
to me." 

" I see. I won't keep you any longer. I'll go away quietly at 
once, for fear your friends should come. How comfortably you 
live here, Eobert ! " for the first time looking about her and ex- 
amining all the luxury of that bachelor room, its pictures, its 
velvet hangings, its divans, the perfect dinner equipage upon the 
table. " It all looks so nice after — well, that don't matter now— 


I shan't go back there any more. Is this your bedroom in here 1 
Let me see it. I won't be a moment. I'd like to see every room 
you live in before I go." 

Eobert Dennison hesitated. Then it occurred to him that he 
had best humour her awhile, if only to keep her in her present 
temper, and he pushed open the door of his bedroom for his wife 
to enter. The chambers were small, in accordance with Mr Den- 
nison's present modest means, and there was no room that he could 
use as a dressing-room ; so all his toilet appliances were, per force, 
in his bed-chamber. They were costly in the extreme, and neatly 
arranged, although he had just finished dressing, as if they came 
from a valet's hands. Maggie walked up to the table and ex- 
amined them curiously. 

" I remember this little bottle, Eobert ; you bought it for me in 
Paris. These ivory-handled brushes, and this, and this," and she 
pointed out one or two little trinkets, " you had upon our wedding 
tour. All the rest are new. I mean, I never saw them before. 
You have everything so nice — and lace, too, real lace, on your 
toilet-cover. Eobert, I'm glad I've seen how you live. I know 
now you could never have been happy in the poor way that would 
have been enough for me. I don't wonder so much that you 
didn't care to come and see me in the lodgings. I know now 
how ugly and dingy everything must have seemed to you. That 
dreadful room, with its bare floor, and the dark, dull paper." And 
indeed she shuddered at the thought of that mean garret in which 
her last miserable night had been passed. 

" I am a poor man, Maggie/' said Eobert, suUenly ; for he be- 
gan to think that kindness was not the way to make her hurry 
her visit, " and I can keep you no better than I have done. The 
things you are so bitter about are things I had before my marriage. 
God knows there has not been much money for spending on use- 
less trumpery since." 

"No, of course there has not," she answered, quickly; "and I 
don't want any of them. I want nothing any more. Eobert, 
dear, won't you say good-bye to me kindly ? " 

" Of course I will ; there, there, that will do. N'ow, be sensible, 
Maggie, and go back to your lodgings ; they are not at all bad 
lodgings in their way, and I'll come to-morrow, if I can, and — " 


" You'll not find me there, Eobert. I am going away. I am 
telling you no untruth." 

"How do you mean going away? I don't know what you 
mean, child." 

Mr Dennison's lips trembled nervously. In that moment a 
glimmering, a horrible suspicion of the truth flashed across him, 
and his heart leaped. She had threatened him before in her fits 
of passion to make away with herself. How, if the threat he had 
so often sneered at had meaning in it after all. He did not dwell 
upon the thought. In the dark days to come he strove to say to 
himself that he had never really for one moment entertained it. 
Eut his heart leaped. This he knew right well. This haunted 
him— haunts his pillow still. His heart leaped. And he spoke 
no one tender word, gave no one kindly look of returning love, 
when a word or look of his might have brought Maggie back in a 
moment from the shadow of the dark vaUey to hope and to life ! 

"What I mean? Xo, Eobert, you needn't know; you will 
know soon enough, perhaps. At all events, I shan't trouble you 
any more. After I have gone away you'll think of me kindly, 
dear, won't you ? And if ever a day should come when you can 
say a word for me to them at home, you'll tell them I was an 
honest girl always, Robert ? Promise me that ! " 

'•' Of course, of course, Maggie. Everything vdll be set right 
some day. I told you so yesterday ; " and he took his watch out 
uneasily, and held open the door for her to go out. 

She stood silent for a moment, a bright flush rising up over her 
white face; then she walked quickly across the room, laid her 
head down on Mr Dennison's fine lawn-covered pillow, and kissed 
it. "Eobert" — she had come to him again, and was looking 
straight into his eyes — " I'd have been a good wife to you. If 
ever you are free and marry a lady born, she'll not love you better 
than I did. If — if" — she was uttering her last hope, and it 
almost choked her in the utterance— "I don't ask you; but, 
Eobert, if you Avould let me live with you, I think I could learn 
to be a lady yet." 

At this moment the time-piece in the next room struck eight. 

" Will you go, or will you not ? " exclaimed Mr Dennison, with 


savage emphasis. '' I want you to leave tlie place quickly. Don't 
oblige me to make the servant a witness of this lovely scene." 

She shrank away instantly from him, like a beaten child ; never 
touched his hand, never sought his lips again, but walked across 
the sitting-room and out upon the stairs, and away from the house, 
without so much as turning back her head. Some dim hope, some 
human longing, at least, for life, had haunted her heart to the 
last. When she laid her head upon the pillow — that was its 
place by right — a flood of tears had been ready to flow forth and 
heal the over-^^vrought brain. A kiss from Robert's lips then, and 
she had cast herself at his feet, ready to be his slave for evermore, 
but instead of the kiss had come words crueller than a blow — and 
she had obeyed them! And life was over; she knew it now. 
She had not another hope, not the shadow of a hope, left. Life 
was over. 

The cabman held open the door of his cab as he watched her 
come out ; but she passed on without even seeing him — on out of 
the Temple into Fleet Street again. The world had got quieter, 
it seemed to her, during the half-hour that she had been with 
Eobert. The light had faded somewhat; the crowd upon the 
pavement grown less dense. It would be easier to die now than 
when the world seemed so marvellously full of life — the sunshine 
gilding every human face that met her in the crowd ! easier still 
in another hour or two, when the light should have died away 
altogether, and the streets be more at rest, and the river flowing 
on dark and silent as she had so often watched it of a night from 
that bay-window of her lonely lodging in Cecil Street. 

She walked on, without feeling very tired now, and at last 
found herself standing among two or three hungry-looking wretches 
before the window of a pastry-cook's shop. There were some 
little three-cornered tarts upon a plate on the counter, and she 
thought she could eat one, and went in and bought it ; but the 
woman who gave her change stared at her, or Maggie thought so, 
and she felt too ashamed to sit do^vn, and went out again. 

''You have left the tart," called out the woman; but £'he went 
on out of the shop without turning. The smell of food had made 
her deadly sick, and she did not care to meet the woman's eyeg 


again. If she could have a glass of Avater, she thought, she could 
drink it ; but she had not courage to go into another shop. Peo- 
ple looked at her suspiciously, she began to feel. The last pohce- 
man she met turned his head after her, she was sure, when she had 
passed. She must get away into a quiet street, some street, if she 
could find it, near the river ; or upon a bridge — London Bridge, 
surely, could not be very far away — and crouch into a corner wliere 
no one would see her, and wait. "Wait for night and peace and 
rest, eternal rest, and forgetfulness of Eobert. 

She went on and on along Fleet Street, on up Ludgate Hill, 
and past St Paul's ; then, directed by a little girl of whom she 
took courage to ask the shortest way to the river, through a laby- 
rinth of the small streets or lanes intersecting that part of the city 
between Thames Street and the water — lanes made up of ware- 
houses and granaries, with a narrow track of road just wide 
enough for one waggon to pass, and with weird-looking galleries 
or gangways stretching across overhead. London, in these 
regions, is wonderfully quiet at eight o'clock of a summer even- 
ing. Sometimes a whole lane, or block of warehouses and offices, 
would be closed, with scarce a single passer-by to break the 
silence ; and at last, in a certain narrow passage, more deserted 
even than the rest, the loneliness seemed so profound that Maggie 
took courage to creep inside a portico before an office and sit 
down. The river was quite close here; she could hear the 
occasional dull splash of the tide; could see the masts of the 
barges and funnels of the river-steamers passing up and down ; 
and she turned her head from the sight and bent it dovvii on her 
lap. She wanted, she hungered to die ; and yet the sound of the 
river, the sight of the vessels, made her afraid. To die, in theory, 
had been easy enough ; but these brought before her the actual 
physical terrors of death. She took off her gloves, and held her 
bare hands before her face with a sort of feeling of comfort from 
their warm touch. She turned her head, as 1 have said, from the 
river. She felt that life — any life, life without Eobert even — was 
sweet. If, at that moment, she coidd be back in her lodgings, 
she thought, how good it would be to see the servant-girl's face, 
and to have her supper, and go to her bed and sleep. The close, 
dull rooms, the noisome food, the ceaseless din from the streets 


Tvithoiit, were unutterably better tban what sbe had before her 
now. They were life. 

And if at this hour Maggie had sunk insensible, and a police- 
man had borne her to the nearest station-house, and the common- 
est bodily attention had been sho^vTi her, probably by next morn- 
ing all the darker dream of suicide w^ould have passed away for 
ever. Instead of that good fortune I will tell you what befell her. 
A young girl threw up a ground-floor window, not many yards 
from where she sat, and then put herself at a piano, just where 
Maggie could catch a glimpse of her figure, and sang. It was not 
a region in which you would, ordinarily, expect to hear operatic 
airs ; but here, as in all dull, airless city thoroughfares, some 
human beings were obliged to spend their lives, both winter and 
summer. This girl was the daughter of some poor clerk, or ware- 
house-keeper, perhaps ; whose one vanity had been in the child's 
boarding-school education, whose one extravagance was the child's 
piano. At all events, she sang ; and sang prettily ; with a tune- 
ful, touching voice, and modest grace ; and the melody she chose 
was the one dear to the school-girl heart in every country of 
Europe — ^^ Bohert, c^est toi que f aime.''^ 

That song, so trite to the ear of civilization, was like a key-note 
to the one golden period of Maggie's life. In Paris, IVIr Dennison 
had taken her, a three days' bride, to the opera j and Patti's voice 
had embodied for the Enghsh girl's ignorant heart all her yearning, 
voiceless passion for her own Robert. She never heard the song 
before or since, but its melody had at once sunk deep into her re- 
membrance ; and after the first few bars she knew it now. ^^ Robert , 
c'est toi que faime." Her husband had told her the meaning of 
the words, with tenderest looks, with furtive hand-pressure, then, 
and here — a forlorn outcast in the London streets — they came 
back to her. 

" Rohert, Robert ! " She waited until the girl had sung the first 
verse of her song ; then started up as if some living thing had 
stung her, and hurried on her road again. 

Weak though she was, she had strength to get away quick from 
the exquisite pain that tune had the power to inflict upon her, and, 
in a minute or two, found herself by the water-side. She made 
her way down a long liae of wharf, ever and anon stoppiug and 

I 2 


looking, mth fascination /ather than with horror, down into the 
river beneath ; then suddenly raising her head, she saw that she 
was close beneath the dark, massive arches of a bridge — London 
Bridge she thought it must be, for Eobert had taken her once to 
see the city, and she remembered that London Bridge lay in the 
position this did from St Paul's. It was now between nine and 
ten o'clock, and such wajrfarers as darlaiess brings forth down by 
the river, were congregating thickly upon the pavement. But 
Maggie heeded none of them. Women stared at her, but she felt 
no shame ; men spoke to her, and their words never reached her 
ears. She was insensible of the foul, tobacco-laden, spirit-charged 
atmosphere through which she had to struggle on. " Boherf, 
Robert ! " this was all she heard ; this echo of the dead past was 
all from which she wanted to get away. She kept in the direction 
she had chosen as steadily as her fast-flagging strength would 
allow ; in a few more minutes had nearly climbed the steps that 
lead from the water-side up to the bridge, and then felt that a 
fresher, colder, purer air was blowing upon her face. 

The pavement on both sides of London Brido^e was thi'onged 
with foot-passengers. One forlorn ^vretch like herself would never 
here, she felt, arrest the attention of any one : and so, after walk- 
ing along a few paces irresolutely, she crept into the shadow of one 
of the recesses, and cowering down there, her head leaning against 
the wall, set herself to wait. Wait until she knew not what ! 
until the crowd had lessened, or the lamps paled, or the last 
brightness of evening had died out of the sky ! She suffered less 
now that she was quiet than she had done all day. Her head felt 
light and wandering, but not as it had done after she took the 
laudanum the night before. -N'ow past things came back to her 
unmixed with any consciousness of the present. The house at 
Heathcotes, the plantation where she had first met " Mr Eobert," 
her place in the -village choir, where he could see her from the 
squire's pew: then her three weeks of Paris, and carriages and 
theatres: lastly, Eobert's bachelor rooms, with the beautiful din- 
ner-service, and the lace upon the toilet-table, and the fine lawn- 
covered pillow, and the perfumed cold hand that she had kissed ! 
All came back to her, and painlesslj^ INIisery, after a certain 
point, becomes its own anaesthetic. The recollections of life, the 



prospects of death, were no longer more poignant to Maggie 
than they would be to a man under the influence of chloroform. 
Eobert wanted her no longer ; and she had come here to die ; and 
it was good to rest in this dark corner, where no one could stare 
at her and guess her secret. . . . 

This was about as much human emotion as it was now left to 
her to feel. 



The Morteville public ball was advertised in the Morteville 
Courant du Jour for nine o'clock. It was an understood thing, 
however, that no persons of fashion appeared in the rooms imtil 
half-past nine at the earhest, and Mrs Lovell, ever a slave to con- 
ventionahty, determined, too, not to look as if they wanted to get 
all they coidd for their money, had ordered the carriage — a crazy 
fiacre, bespoken a fortnight beforehand, so scarce were even crazy 
fiacres in Morteville — to be at their door at twenty-five minutes 
precisely before ten. Ten minutes going to the Etabhssement 
would bring it to the quarter ; they would then have five minutes 
to attend to their dresses in the cloak-room \ and at ten minutes 
before ten would enter the baU-room. They could not be wrong, 
for the Sous-prefet's carriage was ordered at exactly the same hour, 
and the Maire's also. 

But long before seven o'clock Archie LoveU was in her bed- 
room, not actually dressing — the putting on of her frock and 
%vreath could scarcely by possibility be made to last out two hours 
— ^but lingering over all the fresh dehcious details of this, her first 
ball toilet. Taking up her shoes (Mrs Lovell, by dint of heaven 
knows what household parsimony, had managed to j^urchase 
them for her), and making sure for the twentieth time that the 
rosettes were firmly sewed on ; gazing at her gloves — she was afraid 
to do more than gaze at them, they were so delicate and white ; 
hovering round the diaphanous cloud of white drapery that lay 


upon her little bed ; occasionally trying on her wreath with cautious 
fingers, and wondering whether it would look well a hair's-breadth 
higher or lower on her forehead; and finally leaning over and 
smeUing a magnificent bouquet of white flowers that had been left 
for her by " un monsieur, mais un petit monsieur tres tres comme 
il faut," as Jeanneton said, in the course of the afternoon. 

Most English girls have had the edge of enjoyment taken off 
their first real ball, by all the children's parties, and half grown-up 
parties, to which they have gone since they were babies. But no 
such premature dissipation had blunted Archie Lovell's keen in- 
stinct for pleasure. Dancing had come to her, as she told ]Mr 
Durant, by nature. All foreign servant-girls can dance ; and from 
the time she could walk alone she had danced, after a fashion of 
her own, with her bonnes ; also with the peasants, or ^ith her 
father's artist-friends, at the out-of-door fetes in Italy which it was 
Mr Lovell's special pleasure to attend. Inside a ball-room she 
had never been. She had never worn white gloves and shoes; 
had never had on a low dress ; never seen an artificial flower closer 
than on the altar of the Catholic churches till now. And she stood 
and gazed at them all — all this paraphernalia of the order of wo- 
manhood with which she was about to be invested ! Avith the same 
sort of reverence that a maiden knight of old roight have felt wliile 
he watched his armour on the night before the accolade. When 
she looked down at the short linen dress and shabby shoes she 
had on, she almost pitied herself. How had she been happy so 
long while jasmine Avreaths and white grenadines, satm shoes and 
snowy kid gloves, were worn by other girls and not by her] 
Would it be possible — the thought chilled her — to put on the 
linen dress and shabby shoes to-morrow morning, and go on Avith 
the old daily dull routine as usual ? A strange sense of the mys- 
tery, the inequality of life, smote her as it had never done before. 
The white shoes and gloves would be dirty to-morrow, the dress 
soiled, the flowers withered, and Mr Durant gone. On this first 
night of August she was to taste the fulness of earthly enjoyment ; 
to be dressed in a white dress six yards and a half in circumfer- 
ence ; to go to a ball ; to dance twenty-one dances, most of them 
with Mr Durant ; not to return perhaps till daybreak ; and then 
afterwards, for the rest of her existence — 


" Archie, cliild, you ^tlU never enjoy the ball if you think of it 
so much beforehand," broke in her stepmother's voice at tliis point 
of her reverie. " Balls are doubtful pleasures at the best, and even 
if you move in the highest society — and it's likely indeed — you 
won't leave your seat twice. More than an hour you have been 
here, and now I find you looking at your dress still." 

" But if I am not to enjoy the ball, Bettina, how lucky I can 
enjoy looking forward to it ! " answered Archie, with unconscious 
philosophy. " If I don't leave my place once, nothing can take 
away the pleasure I have had in my imaginary successes. Now 
you, who are hopeless beforehand, and mean to be bored, accord- 
ing to your own account, when you get there, have not a single 
moment of compensation throughout the whole affair." 

" Except when it is over," murmured Bettina, meekly. " At 
my age, and in our position, gaiety can never be anything to me 
but a cross, selfishly speaking. When I was your age, Archie, and 
in the very highest county society, perhaps I used to look forward 
to a ball as eagerly as you do, but now — Jeanneton, foUe fille, 
que fais-tu avec ma robe 1 " she interrupted herself abruptly, as 
Jeanneton, bearing away her mistress's best dress from the kitchen, 
where it had been hangiug by the fire, passed before Archie's door. 
" Prenez garde de ces grosses pieds de votre ! " — Mrs Lovell's 
French was still imperfect — " and tenez the chandelle droit. 
Archie, tell that idiotic woman in French to miud the grease. I 
wouldn't have a spot on my mauve moire for all I'm worth." 

This mauve moire was the dress Miss Curtis had worn on the 
day she led Mr Lovell to the altar. At that date it was termed 
violet ; but when the word mauve came into fashion Mrs Lovell 
called it mauve : and almost made Archie, who was simple then, 
believe, on the strength of the change, that it was a new dress. 
To bring it down to an approximate fashionable length, velvet of a 
suitable colour had been added from time to time round the skirt ; 
but for the bodice alteration was impossible, dresses having been 
cut at the time of Miss Curtis' s wedding with considerably tighter 
bodies and sleeves than a modern riding-habit. On all great 
festivities Mrs Lovell wore the mauve moire, hanging it for a day 
beforehand by the fire, with faith in this process taking out creases 
and maldng it equal to new. She wore, in addition, on the pre- 


sent occasion a white lace shawl and a pair of black satin shoes, all 
descended from the wedding ; a garnet necklace and earrings, and 
lapjDBts of real point on her head. Archie had often been accorded 
glances at these treasures one by one and vnth. solemn mystery, by 
her stepmother. She had never so much as imagined the possi- 
bilit}' of their being brought out before the eyes of men all at 
once ; and when, after a lengthened absence, the two women met, 
di'essed, in the little salon, her admiration for Bettina knew no 

" In our different styles we shall be the two best-dressed women 
in the room, Bettina, depend upon it ! " she cried, with all a child's 
belief in everything and every one belonging to herself. " Your 
dress is perfect, now, perfect — and I don't mind saying so ! Papa," 
appealingly to Mr Lovell, who had come in, and was literally 
feasting his eyes on her — on his child, I mean, not his wife. " Isn't 
Bettina looking nice 1 Isn't the effect of the white lace over the 
mauve really beautiful ] " 

" Beautiful ! " echoed Mr Lovell, absently, and never taking his 
eyes from the girl's face, "beautiful! and so like. I never knew 
how like till now. You see it, Bettina ? " after a moment's pause. 
''Xay, nay — how should joul Your gown looks very well, my 
dear," — he had not called her *^'my dear" three times since their 
marriage — "and you have dressed the child admirably. I wish 
little Taroni were here to make a sketch of her." 

"Indeed, I think little Taroni made quite sketches enough of 
me," cried Archie, petulantly, and dancing away to take another 
look at herself in the glass. "For once, papa, don't think of me 
as a model. To-night I am neither peasant, nymph, contadina, nor 
any other atelier lay-figure, but a human being; and, which is 
more, a young lady. I can hardly believe it of myself though, 


But although she disclaimed her father's compliment. Miss 
Lovell might in good truth have stood for a model at that moment 
— a model of Diana, of Hebe, of any impersonation in whose 
beauty youth, health, and freshness are supreme. Her evening 
dress revealed a neck and arms not dazzlingly white, but of a fresh 
wax-like texture, and exceedingly shapely ; a neck and arms with 
no Juno-like proportions, for plumpness and dimples are not ex- 


actly what the mind connects with the imperial goddess, hut -girl- 
ish and graceful. Her hair, unhound, fell in silken plenty over 
her shoulders and far heneath her slender waist. A little round 
jasmine wreath was set coquettishly on one side of her head, and 
admirahly suited her mignonne, sparkling face. No necklace 
round her throat j no bracelets on her arms. The white dress — 
the little wreath — the natural flowers in her hand — were her solo 
adornments. She looked like what she was — a child playing for 
the first time at being grown up ; and a certain something not iin- 
feminine, bat unconventional, in her brusque way of jumping 
about in her fashionable skirts, heightened the suspicion that to be 
ii'on-clad and trained was a discipline to which time as yet had 
not accustomed her. 

''Enjoy yourself, child," said Mr Lovell, as at twenty minutes 
to ten he put her and Eettina into the carriage. " Show me your 
silk shoes quite worn oui to-morrow morning." And then he 
stood, and by the dim light from the solitary lamp of the Eue 
d'Artois, watched the fiacre that bore her from his sight. "Watched 
with the first vague jealousy of Arcliie he had ever known; the 
jealousy every father living, however generous, however manly, 
must, I tliink, have felt at times for the child who is a child no 
more ; the jealousy which makes the last chapters of Jean 
Valj can's life so touching a poem. Archie was his little one no 
longer. He thought of the old Dresden days, when he used to 
walk with her in his arms about the market in the early summer 
mornings. He thought of the broken patois of her baby voice, of 
the determined clasp of her baby hands ; and with a choking feel- 
ing at his breast went back to his study — to -write something about 
Archie, or about the feelings of some other father at first seeing his 
girl a woman 1 'No. If Frederick Lovell had ever described any 
of the common things he himself felt or did, he might have been 
a poet. He went to pile up scores of inflated images about florid 
sunsets over meridian plains — ^the like of which he had never ex- 
perienced, and which, consequently, could never interest any other 
mortal being to read of. 

Meanwhile, Archie and Mrs Lovell arrived safely at the Etab- 
lissement, and after an interval — a breathless interval to Archie — 
of disrobing, made their way to the dancing-room. Was the Maire 


there? the Sous-prefet ? Mr Durant himself? For a good many 
minutes Archie knew and saw nothing. A mist gathered before 
her eyes ; her limbs felt heavy ; in spite of all her efforts, she knew 
that her lips trembled as she walked along. 

"Don't be shy, child. ISTo one is looking at us or thinking of 
us," Bettina whispered to reassure her, and Archie answered, quite 
sincerely, that she was never less shy in her life. All she felt was 
delight, "and — and anxiety for a partner, Bettina," she added. 
*'I shall never get over the shame if I sit out the first dance." 

She was for walking up and dowTi the room, and so giving any 
male acquaintance who might be there a chance of coming up and 
inviting her to dance ; but Mrs Lovell, better versed in propriety, 
insisted ujDon sitting down at once. All the seats in the best 
position of the room were already filled, and so they had to take 
their places not far from the door, and somewhat hidden from 
general view by one of the pillars of the colonnade that ran round 
the room. Archie could have cried as she sat down. Once 
planted in this odious place, probably none of the young men 
would think of asking her to dance at all. The band struck up 
a waltz, and she watched men asking other girls to dance, and 
then, tra-la-la, tra-la-la, ofi" they floated in a delicious melodious 
whirl that made her heart positively ache as she sat there, ex- 
cluded from its mazes. Just at that moment little Monsieur 
Gounod, one of the partners upon whom she had depended, ap- 
peared through the doorway, resplendent ; his boots shining hke 
looking-glass, his fierce moustache waxed and twisted up nearly 
to his eyes, a turned-down collar to show his throat, and a gor- 
geous expanse of open-work shirt, with pink silk gleaming under- 
neath : very nice, indeed, Archie thought Monsieur Gounod 
looked. And, instead of coming up to her, he went off straight 
to IMadame the Maire — horrid little time-serving, fawning man — 
and madame, in spite of her forty years and her stalwart waist, 
smiled and bowed and attitudiniz;ed her assent, and then these 
two went off, tra-la-la, tra-la-la, like the rest ; and Archie Lovell 
remained sitting still. 

Would she have a better chance by standing up ? When the 
interminable waltz was ended, and people were beginning to en- 
gage their partners for the next dance, a quadrille, Archie made 


this suggestion to Bettina, wlio, a great deal happier than her 
stepdaughter, was just then counting, with intense interest, the 
number of gores in Madame the Sous-prefet's skirt. " Stand up 1 " 
yes, certainly ; there would be no impropriety in standing up for a 
minute or two. As to talking of a " better chance," it was absurd 
even to expect to dance yet. Not until all the ladies of conse- 
quence had danced, ought Archie to dream of a partner. And 
then Bettina fell, with vital eagerness, again to the measurement 
of Madame the Sous-prefet. If, as she believed, there were ten 
gores in her dress, it could have been made with fourteen yards ; 
and that arch-traitress Annette, the work-girl, had declared that, 
to her own certain knowledge, Madame the Sous-prefet always had 
sixteen yards in every dress she wore. Women like Mrs Lovell, 
I verily believe, enjoy a ball-room most. To young women it is 
an arena ; they are the actors, the matadors and the picadors in 
the fight. The vicissitudes of success and defeat have all to be 
borne by them — and with smiling faces ! The women who neither 
hope nor fear for themselves are the calm spectators ; and they 
derive edification — unintelligible to women under thirty, and to 
men of all ages, as the raptures of Spaniards at a bullfight are to 
the people of other countries — from every minute detail of the 
conflict before their eyes. Ten gores in the skirt 1 Yes, Annette 
must be an impostor ; for she^said no dress could be made mth an 
even number. And the front width just touching the ground ; 
not ridiculously short, half way up to the knees, as Annette de- 
clared vvas the last Paris fashion ! When Madame waltzed again, 
she would be able to see if the dress was lined — another point on 
which she had the gravest suspicions as regarded Annette. And all 
this time Archie's heart was beating so loud she thought it must 
be heard, and her cheeks were flushing, and her poor little teeth 
were set hard, to keep her mouth from trembling at the thought 
that another dance would begin and find her without a partner. 

However, standing up brought about better fortune after all. 
Just as the sets were forming, and as Bettina whispered that it 
was undignified to keep any longer on her feet, up came young 
Willy Montacute — the third string of Archie's bow — and asked 
her to dance. Young Montacute was very young indeed, and 
very shy, and very plain to look upon — never mind, he was a 


partner, and Arcliie went away with liini joyously. Slie was the 
more delighted to have secured him when, a minute later, there 
resounded that peculiar ostentatious rustling of silk, which only 
the movements of very under-bred English persons seem capable 
of creating, and the great Mrs O'Rourke, with old Maloney and 
suite, bridled and languished into the room. For worlds Miss 
Lovell would not have been found sitting out, partnerless, by her 
enemies ; and she felt quite grateful to Willy Montacute for 
having asked her, and smiled at him, and chattered to him, and 
danced pretty little steps of her own to the quadrille-music ; and 
only now and then looked eagerly to the door, whenever any new 
face appeared there, in the hope that it might be Mr Durant him- 
self come at last to dance with her ! 

When the quadrille was over, her partner asked her if she 
would take any refreshment. She was a great deal too much excited 
to require bodily sustenance, and was desperately afraid of touch- 
ing an}i;hing that could take the freshness from her gloves before 
Mr Durant had seen them. However, any risk would be better, 
she thought, than going back to her place by Bettina ; so she said 
"yes," and w^ent with Master IMontacute to the refreshment or 
ante-room, where they pretended to flirt, as they regaled them- 
selves on two glasses of sugar-and-water. Then they came back 
to the ball-room, and Willy Montacute inquired if he should take 
her to her place. "I'd like to ask you to dance this galop with 
me," he remarked, as Archie rather faintly assented, " only I dance 
so vilely, I don't like to try with any one but my sisters." 

" Oh, I dare say we should get on very well," said the girl, 
readily. " I'm not much of a dancer myself — I mean not much 
of a ball-room dancer — but I used to waltz a great deal out of 
doors, with different people in Italy, and I generally managed to 
get on pretty well with all of them." 

Thus encouraged, young Master Montacute put his arm round 
her waist, and after one or two false starts, they got off. The 
youth had underrated his own powers ; he was by no means the 
worst style of bad dancer — having good wind, a tall figure, and 
just address enough to tread on the feet of other people, not of his 
partner. What he really wanted were nerve, firmness, and pluck ; 
and conscious of these deficiencies, he went at a pace, when once 


off, that defied honest competition. If he slackened, he felt he 
might break down j if he stopped, that he might not make so good 
a start again. 

''You are not tired? You don't want to stop?" he gasped 
occasionally, as they fled along ; and Archie, too breathless to 
speak, told him each time, by a nod or shake of her head, that 
the pace pleased her. JS'ot till the music ceased did they stox) ; 
and by this time Miss Lovell's cheeks were like damask roses, and 
her blue eyes were full of light, and her long hair was all tossed 
about — some of it clinging, indeed, around young Montacute's 
arm — and her jasmine -v^Tcath, which had fallen off in the course 
of one of their false starts, was hanging over her arm. 

" Just like a Bacchante," Mrs Maloney, who was standing near, 
pronounced her to be ; hiding away her own modest old eyes be- 
hind her fan the while, for fear of contamination. 

The rooms were now filling fast ; and as Archie Lovell walked 
along, her singular beauty began to attract universal attention. 
She knew it, and mth delicious flutter, said to her heart that she 
would not have to sit out many more dances that night ; and she 
was right. 

Just as young Montacute was leading her back to the corner 
where Bettina sat, a gentleman came up, his opera-hat under his 
arm, and with a profound bow, asked Miss Lovell, in excellent 
English, to allow him to put down his name upon her card. He 
was a young Eussian prince at present staying in Morteville (and 
coveted as a partner by every woman in the room), and Archie's 
face flushed up with delight. 

" I shall be very glad, indeed, to dance mth you, but I have no 
card. There have only been two dances yet, and I danced both 
"s^uth the same partner." 

Willy Montacute volunteered at once, proud even of this vica- 
rious relation ^ith aristocracy, to get her a card ; and while he was 
gone Miss Lovell stood and chatted with great unconcern to the 
young Eussian. If she had gone through half-a-dozen London 
seasons, she could not have looked and felt more entirely at her 
ease than she did at this moment ; the boldness of a child taking, 
in her, the place of acquired and conventional courage. Shaking 
her hair back across her shoulders, with her face upturned, her 


head, as her trick was, a little on one side, she stood quietly talk- 
ing to the prince, as if she had been used to talk to princes all her 
life; isolated, as it chanced, for the moment, from any other 
group ; with no fan to flutter — women's usual stay on such emer- 
gencies — and her bouquet calmly held and never raised, as an em- 
barrassed woman must have raised it, for one instant to her face. 

As she stood thus, Gerald Durant entered the ball-room. He 
had expected to see Miss Lovell looking pretty — in a somewhat 
school-girl style of prettiness ; ill-dressed probably, as women in 
the provinces invariably are, dancing violently with some young 
member of the Morteville bourgeoisie. He saw her a vision, with 
bright falling hair, with radiant eyes ; dressed in as faidtless taste 
as though EKse had been her milliner ; and with the handsomest 
and best-born man in the room at her side. How well pleased she 
looked at this miserable little foreign nobleman's attentions ! How 
she showed her white teeth, and shook back her ta^vny locks, and 
turned her head aside, or shot glances at him from her blue eyes, 
just as she had done the day before at Mr Durant himself ! "When 
young ]\Iontacute brought the card, the Prince took it from 
Archie's hand and wi'ote his name down for several dances — and 
as he asked for each, Miss Lovell smiled and gave a pleased nod of 
her head. If Gerald had only played at being in love with her 
before, he felt strongly that it would be play no longer now. They 
had met on equal ground at length. Archie was a woman to be 
won, not a child to be played with ; and there was a rival worthy 
of the effort to be distanced. The fairest woman living would 
scarcely have been worthy the trouble of winning to Mr Durant 
without that. 

He moved away among the crowd, so that Archie did not see 
him ; and when she had returned to Mrs Lovell, he stood close 
beside her chair before she knew that he was in the room. 

''Miss Wilson, I suppose there is no use in my asking you to 
dance 1 " 

Archie, in the seventh heaven of delight, was just showing Bet- 
tina her card mth the Prince's hieroglyph Amtten no less than 
four times upon it. " I don't know how to pronounce his name, 
Bettina ! There are two zz's, you see, and a double f, and a capi- 
tal C, and no vowels to speak of ; however, that doesn't matter — 


he is a prince. I don't care wliat else happens how Yes, 

Bettina, my wreath fell oJBF, and you may keep it," throwing it 
down in her stepmother's lap. " I was without a wreath when he 
asked me to dance, and I am content ! " She was just in the 
middle of her triumph, and of this somewhat heartless speech, 
when Gerald's soft caressing voice — so unlike the Prince's little 
piping falsetto — interrupted her. 

"]\Ir Durant, I never knew you were here ! I shall be delight- 
ed." And she jumped up, not doubting for a moment that he 
meant to ask her for the next dance, and took his arm. 

"I hardly thought I had a chance," he remarked, as he led her 
away through the crowd. "When I came in and saw you giving 
all those dances to that Eussian fellow, I never expected that I 
should get a single waltz. Confess you had forgotten me, and the 
dances we were to have had, until I came up and asked you." 

*' Indeed I had not," answered Miss Lovell, feeling, guiltily, at 
the same time, how nearly he had guessed the truth ; "I had been 
wondering — oh, wondering whether you would ever come all the 
evening ! I mean ever since I have been here." 
" You have danced every time, of course ? " 
" Yes." How thankful she felt he had not seen her whirling 
■with Willy Montacute ! With her hand on Gerald Durant's arm, 
and with the Prince's name written four times over on her card, 
how miserable seemed her little triumph with poor Willy ! — how 
resolved she was to ignore him for the remainder of the night, and 
of her life! "I have danced, but I did not enjoy the dances 
much," she added, demurely. 

" They were not with the Eussian, then ? " 
*' No. His are all to come." 

** I see. Miss Wilson, you have the rare virtue of sincerity." 
They had now reached the inner or dancing space of the room, 
and Archie, a great deal more keen for waltzing than for senti- 
mental flirtation, quitted Mr Durant's arm at once, and gathered 
her muslin skirts a little together with her right hand. She had 
come to the ball to dance twenty-one dances, and had no idea of 
losing unnecessary time. 

" Shall we really go through it ? " suggested Gerald, who had 
' the natural prejudices of a bored Guardsman of five-and -twenty 


against round dances. '' I see a room looking deligMfully cool 
and empty away- to the right. I mean, don't you think by-and-by 
we shall find it less crowded for dancing V he added, in answer 
to the blank surprise of Archie's face. 

" By-and-by ? Yes, I dare say we shall ; but why lose a waltz 
now ? Surely in London you dance in greater crowds than this 1 " 

The disappointment of her look and tone was unmistakable. 
Mr Durant saw that any ]nan who aspired to Miss Lovell's favour 
must make up his mind to dance himself thereinto; and he 
heroically resolved to waltz, as he had said to Dennison, like a 
student, for the remainder of the night. 

"I'm so fond of dancing, and it's such a treat to me," she 
pleaded, as she rested her little hand upon his arm. "You must 
remember this is the first ball I have ever been at in my life, and 
you are my second partner. It's very difi'erent for you who have 
been having nothing but balls and pleasure all your life." 

She need not have apologized. Before they had gone half 
round the room, Gerald felt that he was enjoying this waltz as he 
had not enjoyed any dance for years. The floor was first-rate, the 
room not over-crowded, and his partner — perfection ! He had 
danced in his time with excellent dancers of all nations and of all 
classes ; but this little girl suited him better than all. There was 
something contagious in her own irrepressible enjoyment ; in the 
verve, the buoyancy mth which she moved. In London draw- 
ing-rooms, and at Mabille, at the Tuileries, and the Staffordshire 
county balls, the same feeling of non-amusement had been ever 
wont to oppress him. Young women might be beautiful, or ex- 
cellent dancers, or sought in vain by other people; G-erald had 
invariably had the same feeling while he danced with them — ^that 
a quiet flirtation in some dim-lighted conservatory would be 
better. But Archie's was the very poetry of waltzing ; her flow- 
ing hair, her happy parted lips, her grace, her abandon, di^dded 
her from every other woman with whom he had danced in all his 
life before. In a waltz, as in everything else, the girl's most 
potent charm for Gerald Durant was in this — her individuality. 
He had known women in classes hitherto, and each class, in turn, 
had bored him. In Archie, for the first time, he saw a girl who 
could divert him for any number of hours with her merry tongue ; 


who would let him smoke ns he tallied to her in the moonlight ; 
who would dance as she was dancing now, answering with a merry 
smile every little bit of nonsense he whispered, and still who was 
as removed as Lucia herself from the very detestation of his heart 
— fastness. iJlo grisette could he more amusing than this child ; 
no countess more refined. And then her heart was as pure as her 
face ! Gerald Durant held no more exalted opinions of human 
nature than most men hold, to whom a plentifid supply of money 
and a commission in the Guards have heen given at nineteen ; but 
this virtue may be put to his credit — ^he believed in women when- 
ever he met with one worthy of belief. And Archie's charm for 
liim — the charm that was the key-stone to the rest, and without 
which she would not have been Archie, but one of a class — was 
her innocence. Smoking beside her in the moonlight, or here 
with his arm around her waist in a crowded ball-room, it was the 
same. There was always something cold in those blue eyes ; some 
girlish mocking ring in the httle laugh ; some lingering bloom of 
childhood on the red lips, that held him, as it were, very far away 
from her. Charm without a name ! Charm that if Rachel or 
Breidenbach could only distil, and label "Dew of the morning," 
or "Maiden Blush," and sell at five guineas a packet, would fill 
their shops with fashionable ladies, I imagine, from morning till 

AYhen the ^valtz was over, Archie had the honour of dancing a 
c[uadrille with the Prince, and very insipid she found him after 
Gerald. jS'o well-bred Eussian or Frenchman is ever anything but 
insipid to an unmarried girl. Still, he was a prince, and Miss 
Lovell, for vanity's sake, enjoyed this quadrille exceedingly. Were 
not Mrs O'Eourke, and the Maloney, and poor Miss Marks, 
partnerless, looking on with wide-open eyes? Was not little 
Monsieur Gounod, from his distant bourgeois set, trying hard to 
attract her attention ? Was not Bettina standing on tiptoe, and 
nodding encouragement to her from afar 1 Was not Gerald Durant 
— here lay the gist of the whole triumph — standing near in a door- 
way, speaking to no one, and watching her intently ? When the 
dance was over, and she had walked round the rooms on the 
Prince's arm, then stood in a conspicuous position eating an ice, 
while he waited deferentially upon her and held her bouquet, 


ArcMe wondered in her heart whether life could ever bring 
back any happiness so intense as this 1 Every one who passed 
glancing at her with admiration — Monsieur the Prince humbly 
holding her flowers — Mr Duranb still watching her from the door- 
■way — Mr Durant's name Avritten, too many times to count, upon 
her card ! Could happiness like this be repeated often, and was 
— sudden as light flashed this thought upon her — was the feeling 
she had toward Mr Durant, or the Prince, anything resembling 
love '? If so, love was a very charming thing. If this fairy -scene 
of light and flowers ; these attentive, handsome partners, in their 
primrose gloves and silk-faced coats ; if this new, intoxicating sense 
of her own beauty were all, indeed, the inauguration of the great 
romance of life, how much better that romance was than she had 
imagined ! Ivanhoe at the feet of Eowena, Clive Newcome claim- 
inc' Ethel at last, were situations that had hitherto touched her 
deeply. But how pale and prosaic were they compared with this ! 
She was certain Eowena never felt to Ivanhoe as she did to Mr 
Durant — ^no, the Prince — ^Mr Durant — which in the world was it] 
Ethel ^ewcome's love was very well in its way, but Ethel isTew- 
come went through duU, long years, away from Clive, and gave up 
the world, and took to school-teaching and district-visiting — while 
she — she would never give up the world or take to anything but 
baUs, and pleasure, and beautiful di-esses. She would marry one 
of her slaves, the Prince probably — and have a white silk and 
diamonds, and a pink silk and pearls, and she would give tlu'ee 
balls a week, and go out to three, and let poor Mr Durant be the 
first on her list of partners sometimes, and— 

"Mademoiselle, mil you accord me a dance?" said little Mon- 
sieur Gounod, obsequiously, at her elbow, just as the Prince was 
putting down her plate. "Mademoiselle has been so surrounded, I 
could not approach her sooner." 

Dancing Avith Monsieur Gounod was rather a descent from being 
a princess, and entertaining in silks and diamonds three times a 
week ; but remembering that there might be future Morteville balls 
without princes, and ^rithout INIr Durant, Archie graciously gave 
him a dance very low down on her card (she smiled at the notion 
of Monsieur Adolpho Gounod's petitioning her for dances, and her 
condescending to give him cne) ; and then Monsieur the Prince 


handt3d her back, throagli the discomfited, neglected host of 
O'Eoiirke and Alaloney, to Bettina's side. 

That enchanting evening waned at last ; alike for Archie as for 
the plainest, most unnoticed woman there, or for poor Bettina— ■ 
every gore in every dress •in the room exhausted — asleep in her 
chair. Miss LoA^ell had danced her four dances with the Prince, 
and knew now that she would never marry him ; also that his 
well-cut coat, and perfect gloves, and high-bred manner, were his 
greatest charms. And she had danced with other young and well- 
looking partners, and knew that she cared for none of them as she 
did for Mr Durant. How much was it that she cared for him? 
She asked herself this quite late in the evening, as they stood to- 
gether, her hand resting on his arm, and a sudden, odd, choked 
feeling in her throat was her answer. She liked him, for certain, 
more than she ha d ever liked any man, save one ; and that was 
years ago — a child's liking merely. Liked him, as in this wan- 
dering, vagabond life of theu's, it was scarcely possible she would 
like any one again. With a sudden revulsion of feeling she felt 
that she hated all foreigners, princes included ; hated artists ; hated 
the men her lot would and must lie among. What she should like 
would be an English home among English people ; the world that 
was Gerald's world ; the country that was his country. Was this 
love, or approaching love? She knew not. But Gerald knew 
there was a softer look than he had ever seen in her blue eyes ; a 
tremble in her voice whenever she spoke of the coming day — nay, 
the day that had already come and must di^dde them. 

"Let us leave off dancing now," he whispered to her. '^ We 
will return and have the last dance of all together ; but let us 
rest a little now. There are people walking outside on the ter- 
race ; and the moon makes it as light as day. Let us go too." 

They went out together on the broad gravel promenade, a 
plateau that divides the Etablissement at Morteville from the 
shore, and walked at once to the end furthest from the ball-room. 
It was high tide ; and the calm glassy sea broke in monotonous 
cadence on the sands. In the extreme west the waning yellow 
moon lay close to the horizon j the sky was white with stars above 
their head. 

K 2 


" "What a glorious sky!" cried Arcliic ; and, all involuntarily, 
her hand rested hea\der on his arm. " Mr Durant, when you are 
in London, I wonder whether you will look back, and think of to- 

From any woman but Arcliie the speech would have been a 
leading one ; and Gerald forgot that it was Archie who spoke, and 
in a second had carried her little gloved hand to his lips. " I 
shall never forget to-night, ]\Iiss Wilson — never while I live. As 
to my return to England," he added, tenderly, " there is no occa- 
sion for me to go there at all, unless you bid me do so." 

She caught her hand away from him ; her heart beat violently ; 
a scorching blush rose into her face. A minute ago she liked 
Gerald so that she could have cried to say good-bye to him ; now 
she very nearly hated him. What right had he to kiss her hand 
— her hand that no man's lips but her father's had ever touched 1 
What right had he to bend his head down so close to her? " I — 
I don't know what you mean, Mr Durant. How can it depend upon 
me whether you go or stay ? " And as she spoke she took off her 
glove — the glove Gerald had kissed — and laid it down upon the 
little stone wall that formed the boundary of the terrace. 

At this moment she might have been an excuse for any folly, 
any madness — with the moonlight turning her mass of waving 
hair to bronze, and whitening into snow the soft outline of her 
girlish throat and arms. A wild desire came upon Gerald to 
snatch her to his breast, then and there to give up Lucia, and con- 
tent himself, beggared, for the rest of his life with being the mas- 
ter and ruler of that face and of those blue eyes that were gleam- 
ing at him with so very little of subjection in their expression 

" I have offended you," he exclaimed, quickly. " Miss Wilson, 
tell me at least that I have not offended you hopelessly 1 " 

" Offended ! I^o, Mr Durant ; that is not the word." But she 
kept well away from him as she answered. " You have only sur- 
prised me. If it had been that Eussian Prince or Monsieur 
Gounod I should have cared less. All foreigners make ridiculous 
speeches, I believe, and kiss ladies' hands, and perform such 
antics. But you — an EngHshman ! ISTo ; I did not expect it." 

"Antics? A man carried away by an impulse too strong for 


liim kisses a hand — a gloved hand ! — like yours ; and yon call his 
impulse an antic 1 " 

" I do," with a burst of sudden passion, " unless — unless, of 
course, he cares about her ! " her voice changing as Gerald had 
once before heard it change, when she approached the subject of 

"And if he did care for her 1 " 

" Ah ! I know nothing about that. I mean — I mean — " and 
then she turned her face quite away from him, and was silent. 

Gerald was at her side in a moment. "Archie," he cried, "I 
do care for you ! I would give my life for you ! Will you ac- 
cept it ? " 

He stood for a minute, not trying even to take her hand again. 
Then Archie turned. Mr Durant could see her face full in the 
moonlight, and he knew that it looked less like a child's face than 
it had ever looked before. Her eyes were downcast ; a little 
nervous tremble was about her lips. 

" Mr Durant, how am I to take this ? " she asked. 

A dozen Belgravian mothers in conclave could not have decided 
upon a better question than this, which Archie's untutored in- 
stinct taught her. 

'' To — to take it ! " repeated Gerald, but not without hesitation. 
" Miss Wilson — Archie — can there be any way but one in which 
to interpret my admiration — my devotion 1 " 

Admiration, devotion, fine words, but that fell with a blank 
sound on Archie Lovell's ear. She was very young, she was 
thoroughly unhackneyed ; but every warm affection, every strong, 
honest, natural feeling lay dormant in that childish heart. 
Gerald's kiss shocked her by its abruptness, and for a moment she 
had felt outraged, frightened ; then, when he pleaded with her, 
when he said, tenderly, " I do care for you ; I would give my life 
for you," her heart seemed all at once to stir with a violent pulsa- 
tion, and she had stood irresolute (that was when he watched her 
lips tremble), simply waiting with a sort of fear for his next 
words, and for whatever new emotion should master her. 

"How am I to take this?" she asked mechanically, as she 
waited thus ; and then !Mr Dm-ant broke forth about admiration 
and devotion, and for him Archie Lovell's heart never beat as it 


had "beat in that one loud stroke again. By a hair's breadth only 
had she escaped loving him. But she had escaped it. The first 
false ring of his voice, the first stereotyped words of flattery, had 
saved her; and she was unconscious, both now and hereafter, 
what danger this was that she had run. 

" I interpret your admii-ation and devotion thus, Mr Durant. 
Here, in Morteville, an uncivilized sort of girl, called Archie Wil- 
son, has made your time pass pleasantly to you. I know very 
well I have done that ; and when you get back to England you 
will think of her — well, kindly always, I hope ; but with about 
as much pain as Archie will think of you. Voila ! Let us be 
friends. You wanted to see how much my head was really turned 
by all it has had put in it to-night. Have you a cigar ^ You 
may smoke it if you have." And with a little spring she perched 
herself on the wall, in the careless attitude in which Grerald had 
seen her on the day of their first meeting. 

" And your glove. Miss Wilson ? Is it to remain here 1 You 
don't want to touch it again, I suppose." 

'' I don't want to put it on," said Archie, carelessly. " I can 
dance the last waltz very well without it, can't I % " 

" Oh, quite well," said Gerald, bitterly ; " or, if you choose, the 
dance can be given up. Anj^thing rather than that you should be 
reminded of my folly." And he took up the glove (warm still, 
and bearing the print of her little hand) and tossed it into the 
next wave that broke upon the sand. He, Gerald Durant, the 
courteous, the debonnaire, had actually lost his temper, for almost 
the only time in his life, with a woman. 

The first thought that crossed Archie's mind was regret for the 
glove. Bettina had given four francs the pair for them, saying 
that if you got the best they would wear for two balls at least, 
and clean afterwards. She had meant to be cold, dignified, when 
she took the glove off and laid it down, to purify it as it were 
from Mr Durant's kiss ; but she had never meant ultimately to 
abandon a piece of property worth two francs. This was hoM^ the 
ball she had enjoyed so intensely was to end ! She and Gerald 
were fast becoming enemies. She could hear the notes of the last 
waltz already, and instead of dancing it, they were quarrelling 


here ; and then, as a pleasant finish to it all, she aVouM have to 
drive home and he scolded by Bettina for having lost her glove. 

" And so you don't even care to dance with me again 1 " she 
said, after a minnte, and turning her face to Gerald. She was too 
proud directly to allude to the loss of her glove. " So much for 
youi' devotion, Mr Durant ; it has not lasted long." 

"You have rejected me, Miss Wilson." 

'' I rejected your fine speeches, not you. You know it." 

He did ; he knew that they had only "been fine speeches ; that 
he had meant to flirt desperately with poor little Archie ; not to 
marry her ; and that her delicate woman's instinct, not any worldly 
knowledge whatever, had made her value his declaration at its 
exact worth. Could he be angry with, her long ? Was she not, 
in truth, too good to be trifled with ? Should he mar the remem- 
brance of their brief acquaintance by parting from her in bitter- 
ness 1 And did not the tears that glistened in the poor child's 
eyes even now tell him that at her heart, and in her simple way, 
she cared for him still ? 

" In spite of your cruelty to me, I shall always feel the same 
towards you, Miss Wilson. You may be very sure of that." 

"And we will dance the last dance together, then, after alH" 

" Of course we will, if you will only forgive me first. I shall 
be too utterly miserable, Archie, unless you forgive me ! " 

She not only forgave him, but held her hand to him in token 
of forgiveness ; and then they returned slowly along the terrace to* 
the ball-room. Just as they got to the entrance-door, Miss Lovell 
drew back, and hesitated. "It looks strange, does it not, to 
dance with only one glove on ? How would it be, do you think, 
to take off the other too 1 Better, eh. ? " 

"Yes, certainly better," said Gerald, "and as it will be quite 
useless to you, you may make it a present to me. I shaU. like to 
have something that was worn by you to-night." 

She took off her glove, touched in her inmost heart by his -wish 
to possess it, and gave it him without a word. Gerald folded it 
reverently, put it in his breast-pocket (he has that little faded 
glove still — ^the only love relic kept from his youth), and then they 
went into tbe ball-room. It was almost cleared now, the band 


was plaj^ing the '^ Faust Waltzes " deliciously — tlie bright moon- 
light, streaming in through the open doors and -windows, made 
the lamps pale as though it had been broad day. 

"It was too good to last," said Gerald, as the last notes died 
away, and while Archie's hand still rested on his shoulder, " For 
the first time in my life, I have found a ball too short." 

"And I, too," said Archie, "I think I shoidd have liked that 
waltz to last for ever — except for Bettina." 

On their way home Bettina made inquiries as to her satin 

"In ribbons," answered Archie, laconically, and holding up a 
tiny ragged foot for her stepmother's inspection. " So much for 
Monsieur Joubert and his fifteen francs." 

" And your gloves 1 " 


" Archie — lost ! " 

" One of them fell in the sea, and one of my partners has the 
other. Oh, Bettina, don't scold," she cried, as Mrs Lovell was 
about to exclaim. '^ Better one ball like this, and my shoes in 
rags, and my gloves gone, than fifty stupid ones, and all my 
clothes in correct order. It was a heavenly ball, Bettina." 

" It has been a very expensive one," said Mrs Lovell, reckon- 
ing up on her fingers ; " fifteen francs the shoes ; four the gloves ; 
three the carriage — twenty-two francs, not counting the dress and 
wreath, which, of course, will come in again. It's no good talk- 
ing of expense, certainl}^, now that the folly has been committed ; 
but there's one thing, Archie, I must say to you to-night, sleepy 
though I am." 

" What is it ? " cried the girl, tiu-ning hot and then cold in a 
minute, and not knowing which of her own shortcomings was to 
be brought to light. 

" Well, Archie, it isn't perhaps a moral delinquency ; but after 
reposLQg confidence for eighteen months in a young woman, to 
find out that she is an impostor is not pleasant. Annette has told 
me a tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end. Fourteen yards 
of silk would make as handsome a dress as any in that room — and 
the Sous-prefet's wife had ten gores in her skirt. I said so from 
the first." 




When Ai-chie woke the next morning it seemed to her that she 
had aged by twenty years since yesterday. She had been a child 
then — she was a woman now ; had worn a ball-dress and white 
satin shoes ; and danced vrith. a prince, and with Mr Durant, and 
had had Monsieur Grounod, and a dozen other little Frenchmen, 
at her feet. Was she better for the change ? For the first five 
minutes of waking, certainly not. There was a heavy weight above 
her eyes, and her mouth felt parched, and a listless, weary sensa- 
tion in all her frame, for the first time in her life, made her disin- 
clined to move. She lay quiet for a few minutes, tliinking over 
every detail of the ball — wondering a little, too, whether she was 
so very much happier for having gone to it ; then suddenly recol- 
lected that she must get up and dress at once if she wished to be 
in time to see her father, who was going oif with Bettina to Amiens 
by the eleven o'clock train. And half an hour later, fresh from 
her cold bath, and with her wet hair hanging over her shoulders, 
and her linen frock and her sailor's hat on, Archie, running from 
room to room, singing and laughing, and calling to Jeanneton for a 
" tartine" to' eat by way of breakfast on her road to the station, 
was Archie again. 

The Lovells' visit to Amiens had been planned for some weeks 
past. Mr Lovell, wanting to attend a sale of hric-a-hrac that was 
to take place on this and the following day, and poor Bettina, for 
very economy's sake, determining to attend him. To prevent his 
bidding hundreds of francs for things that looked to her like rub- 
bish was beyond her power; indeed, experience had taught her 
recently that these were the sohtary transactions in life wherein 
Mr Lovell did not fail, several of his later purchases of the kind 
having fetched double and treble their cost afterwards in Paris. 
But she could keep him straight in his domestic expenses. With- 
out her he would go to the dearest hotel in the place (this morn- 
ing's post had unfortunately brought him a quarter's remittance), 
ask any horrible Jew, or artist, or creature who took his fancy at 


the sale, back to dinner, and regale him T\'ith as mncli chablis or 
champagne as he chose to swallow. "With her he would be con- 
ducted to the mildly hospitable and rigidly dull roof of a certain 
Madame Bonnechose, wife of the Protestant pastor of Amiens, to 
whom Mrs Lovell had once shown attention in Mortcville. And 
•poor INIr Lovell, as biddable and sweet-tempered as a child in any- 
thing that merely involved his own personal discomfort, had meek- 
ly succumbed to the arrangement. 

"But I wish you were coming too, Archie," he said to his 
daughter, as she was standing on the platform waiting to see the 
train bear them out of the Morteville station. Mr and Mrs Bon- 
nechose are admirable people, Bettina says, but I should enjoy 
their society much more if you were with me. Take care of your- 
self without us, little one." 

" And look a'fter Jeanneton," cried Bettina, putting her head 
out of the window after the train had moved. "Mind about the 
keys — and be sure to lock up everything by eight, and, Archie, if 
she wants to go out—" But here her voice was lost in a pro- 
longed and deafening shriek from the engine, and Archie could 
only nod and look ferociously determined, and otherwise express 
by pantomime, her determination to keep jealous watch and ward 
over Jeanneton till Bettina's return. 

She strolled back to the Rue d'Artois, thinking how slowly the 
time would pass till two o'clock, when she had promised — no, 
when she had told — Mr Durant she might possibly be walking on 
the pier just at the time the steamer he was going by should start. 
For she had confided to him all about the old people's Amiens ex- 
pedition, and Gerald, instead of crossing to Folkestone by the 
mail, had at once decided on waiting for an exciu^sion-boat that 
was to go direct from Morteville to London that afternoon. When 
she got into the house, the . first thhig she saw was Jeanneton 
clearing away the breakfast things, and crying in sho^vy theatrical 
manner, as French servants do cry when they intend that you 
should notice their crrief. Miss Lovell laudied aloud at once. Jean- 

o o 

neton's sorrows were well known to the household ; they all arose 
from the ill-conduct of a certain Pierre, real or fabulous, with 
Avhom this young woman asserted herself to be sentimentally in 


" "What have you the matter with you now, Jeanneton 1 What 
new perfidy has Pierre heen committing 1 " 

"Ah, mademoiselle," wiping her eyes unceremoniously on the 
breakfast-cloth, " it's very well for mademoiselle to laugh. Made- 
moiselle has her balls, and her toilets, and her pleasures for her- 
self, while a poor girl like me — and it would have made no differ- 
ence to madame ; and to-day is his fete, and only two leagues from 
Morteville, and the tante is as active as a sparrow, and clean, but 
of a cleanness ! " 

"Which, being interpreted, signified that Jeanneton had wanted 
fouu-and -twenty hours of leave to attend her lover's fete in her 
native village ; that she had an aunt, active as a sparrow, willing 
to come and take her place in the kitchen, and that Bettina had 
thrown cold water on the whole scheme. As she wept and argued, 
and grew eloquent about " Pierre," Archie really began to believe 
in his existence, and to think that Bettina had been cruel. What 
harm would there be in her letting the girl go*? ''If you wonld 
be sure to be back before papa and madame, Jeanneton, I don't 
see why you mightn't go. There's food enough in the larder for 
me till to-morrow, I suppose." 

" Ah, and if there is not the tante would go to market," Jean- 
neton broke forth ; " the tante would get mademoiselle a delicious 
chicken, the tante — " 

" Shall do nothing at all for me, Jeanneton, you may be sure," 
interrupted Archie, imperatively. "You may go, if you choose, 
but I'll have no horrible old tantes, chattering till I'm wild, and 
breaking every cup and saucer we possess. And whatever you do, 
make up your mind about it quickly," she added. " I'm going for 
a walk myself at two o'clock, and if joii choose to go I can take 
the door-key in my pocket." 

Jeanneton made a feeble show of regret at leaving her young 
mistress all night aloue ; then consoled herself with the remem- 
brance that the porter's wife was close at band, and could be 
called whenever mademoiselle wished ; and finally, half an hour 
later walked off out of the house, in the very liighest spirits, and 
in her holiday clothes. The pretty Morteville cap jauntily set on 
her smooth jet hair, a pair of silver rings, nearly as large as fine 
ladies wear them now in London, in her ears, a crucifix on her 


tlu'oat, and her prayer-book neatly folded in a checked handker- 
chief in her hand. JS"©! that she was going to attend the offices, 
but because a prayer-book was her insignia of full dress, without 
which she would have been no more complete than a young lady, 
even on clays when there is neither rain nor sun, Avithout her 
white parasol. 

It was a quarter to one now ; the excursion-steamer was adver- 
tised to leave the Morteville Eoads at two ; and Miss LoveU 
thought that, if she walked slowly, she would not be much too 
early if she got ready at once. How should she dress 1 She did 
not like to put on her very best things to walk about alone in. 
Her enemies woidd say that dancing with a prince had turned her 
head outright, if she put on her best black silk merely to walk 
down to the pier. Still, she would like Gerald to see her looking 
her best — her very best — before he returned to England and to 
Lucia ! She looked over her wardrobe A\ith a melancholy sense 
of its deficiencies, such as she had never felt before. The black 
gilk — that was too good ; a gingham or two, very much washed 
out, and very short in the skirt ; and one checked muslin, hope- 
lessly dirty and tumbled : this was all. Her two white piques, 
the best frocks she possessed, she had worn, with recldess extra- 
vagance, during the past happy, prodigal week, and they were 
both at the wash. And Gerald had said he always liked best to 
see her in white. As she remembered this, a sudden bald inspira- 
tion came across Miss LoveU's brain. She would wear the muslin 
skirt that had served as a slip to her ball-dress the night before. 
The audacity of the project almost daunted her at first. Bettina 
had declared that slip to be fine enough for a dress ; that it would 
wear clean four more balls at least ; and here was she going to put 
it on — clear Swiss muslin by daylight — and drag it through the 
dust and defilement of the MorteviUe streets. Dire necessities 
demand stringent measures. Archie vacillated and trembled be- 
fore she could bring herself to commit the desperate act ; once 
even took down the dirty checked muslin and half put it over her 
head ; then the thought of how she would look in that other skirt 
— fresh, wliite, long — a regular grown-up woman's dress — over- 
came her again. Should IMr Durant take away a last impression 
of Archie the tawny-haired child, the little model — the gipsy ; or 


of Arcliie as he had danced with her at the ball — a yoimg lady in 
fair white mnslin, " dressed like other people ? " 

The magic of those four fatal words (which annually, statisti- 
cians tell us, are the ruin of thousands of people in all ranks) was 
too potent for Archie to withstand. She succumbed to the 
strongest temptation her life as yet had known ; put on the white 
skirt ; a high white jacket to match ; a little white scarf on her 
shoulders ; her sailor's hat, with a blue veil, the colour of her 
eyes, twisted round it ; and a pair of lemon-coloured gloves which 
Bettina had cleaned up a day or two before, vainly hoping they 
might be fresh enough to wear at the ball. When she was dressed 
she ran into the salon, and stood up on a chair to see herself in 
the great glass. "What a pretty girl she was ! How well white 
muslin suited her clear dark skin by daylight ! How she hoped 
every Englishwoman in the place would meet her on her way to 
the pier ! Would anything improve her appearance still ? Yes, 
certainly; Bettina's best French grey parasol (a gift from dear 
Madame Bonnechose, who had it from her mamma in Paris, and 
thought it too worldly for her own use) ; and a flower, to make a 
spot of colour, in her waist-belt. The first dereliction from the 
narrow path seemed to have made any further enormity perfectly 
easy to Archie. She walked off to Bettina's room, coolly ab- 
stracted the parasol from its silver-paper wrappings ; then out into 
the garden, where she picked the last bright red Geant des 
Batailles that remained ; the standard rose-trees being the special 
property of the old Countess d'Eu on the second floor, and ever 
regarded, till this hour, with fear and trembling, by all the other 
inmates of the house. Then, having collected her spoils, she 
went back to the salon, perched herself on the chair to arrange 
the rose, and to pronounce herself a pretty girl again ; and two 
minutes later started forth, putting the door-key of the apartment 
in her pocket, for her walk. 

The Maloney was watching her, cat-like, from behind her cur- 
tain, and Archie looked up and nodded at the mzened face with 
her sweetest smile ; and a little further down the street she met 
Mrs O'Eourke, suff'ering visibly from the heat, and nodded to her 
likewise with j^erfectly good temper (with that muslin dress on 
she could have forgiven all her enemies at once) ; and coming 


near the pier, she saAV the Prince, and tried to throw down her 
eyelids demurely — as she had watched the great Paris ladies do — 
when he saluted her; and then, twenty yards further, Gerald 
Durant met her. He had been waiting for her for an hour, he 
said; and his eyes told Miss Lovell pretty plainly what he 
thought of her looks, now that she had come. • 

They walked to the end of the pier, and Archie felt very melan- 
choly at the sight of the excursion-boat, which, with steam up, 
was moored ab some distance out in the Eoads. 

'' You will start soon, Mr Durant. The people are abeady be- 
ginning to go off in boats." 

. . Gerald took out his watch. '* I shall go in a quarter of an hour 
— that is, if the vessel starts at the time advertised. I see my 
servant has taken the luggage off already. He is determined that 
I shall not change my mind this time. Miss Wilson." 

" There is not much temptation to make you change it," cried 
Archie, trying to S23eak gaily. "The heat and dust, and crowds 
of excursionists and porters, are not likely to give you a favour- 
able last impression of Morteville." For they w^ere trying to talk 
polite commonplaces, as people who like each other invariably do 
on the eve of separation. 

" And you will have to walk back alone through it all," said 
Gerald. " Miss "Wilson, let me see you back, at least to the other 
end of the pier. I shall have quite time enough to do that." 

" JSTo, thank you ; I prefer being here. I like seeing the people 
go off in the boats, and — and I mean to stop and see the very last 
of the steamer," added Archie, with sudden sincerity. 

At that moment a boat pulled round under the pier head, across 
which they were leaning, and the boatman stood up, his scarlet 
cap in his hand, and asked Gerald, in such English as the Morte- 
ville boatmen use, if he was going to the steamer. It was a 
clean, trim little boat, unlike most of the luggage-boats used for 
carrying passengers to the steamers ; and Archie looked down at 
it with, wistful eyes. 

" What a nice boat, Mr Durant ! You had better engage it at 
once to take you on board." 

"There is plenty of time still, unless you wish to get rid of 
me," Gerald answered, his eyes fixed upon her face. 


" But you could row about a little first. I aui sure it would be 
a great deal pleasanter than waiting here in the sun." 

In after days, Gerald often soothed his conscience with the 
recollection of this remark of Archie's. But for it — but for the 
childish whim that prompted it — he had never brought deeper 
pain than that of saying " Good-bye " to him into her life. He 
would no more have thought of asking her to accompany him to 
the steamer than of asking her to accompany him to England. 
But all through Gerald Durant's life, as through the lives of 
all weak men, there seemed to run a mysterious chain of accident 
that bound him, whether he willed or no, to the commission of 
every sort of foolish and imfortunate action. A fresh link in the 
chain had been supplied by Archie's last words ; and in a minute 
Gerald turned the new temptation to the very best account, as 
he always did. 

''It really would be much pleasanter. The sea is like glass, 
and I dare say the air is cool outside the harbour. You never go 
out in a small boat like this, I suppose 1 " 

" Oh yes, I do, very often," said the girl, promptly. " I row 
about often with papa; row with my hands, you understand; 
perhaps that is what makes them so brown." 

" But you would not care to go now ? You would not go with- 
out your papa ? You would be afraid ? " 
" Afraid ! What of ? Being drowned ? " 

*' Oh no, Miss Wilson, of— of— " Gerald's eyes feU ; he did 
not like to say, "of what people might think of you if you went." 
" Of hurting my dress, do you mean ? Good gracious, no ! I 
should enjoy it of all things, and if you didn't mind I should like 
just to run up into the steamer for a moment. I never was in a 
steamer but once, from Livorno to Civita Yecchia, and that's so 
long ago I scarcely recollect it now." 

In another minute the boat was hailed, and Miss Lovell, in 
high glee, ran down the slippery, weed-grown steps at the end of 
the pier, took the boatman's sun-burnt hand, jumped into the boat, 
Mr Durant following ; and then— then she found herself out alone 
with him on the transparent glassy sea, with Morteville, like a 
place in a dream, lying behind her ! 




"How tliorouglily I enjoy this!" Archie cried, lajing down 
Bettina's grand parasol in a pool of salt-water on one of the seats, 
and pushing her hat back a little from her forehead. " The ball 
was very well, but this is better. I think boating is better than 
anything else in the world, Mr Durant." 

Whatever Archie did was, while she did it, better than any- 
thing else in the world. Gerald looked at the girl, and actually 
sighed to think that these were his last ten minutes with her. 
How blank all would be without the bright face, the joyous voice, 
this evening ! How rosy life might be with this sweet contagion 
of enjoyment ever present ! How hard, in short, it would be to 
return to Lucia and to the Court after Archie Wilson and Morte- 

"I can enjoy nothing heartily to-day, Miss Wilson. I am say- 
ing good-bye to you, you must remember." 

"And going back to London and all your London friends," 
she returned, quickly. " I shall miss you more to-morrow than 
you will miss me." 

To-morrow ! The word had a strange sort of knell in it just 
now. Was this happy intimacy, this bright interchange of youth- 
ful jests, fancies, hopes — all but love — to be indeed cold and dead 
for ever to-morrow ? They remained silent, both of tliem ; Archie's 
eyes fixed yearningly upon the dim white cliffs of England across 
the channel, and Gerald's upon her face. The boatman, mean- 
while, thinking, in perfect good faith, that they were fellow-pas- 
sengers bound for the Lord of the Isles, and hoping perhaps to be 
in time to pick up a second fare, pulled on straight for the steamer 
out in the Koads. 

" Nous voila ! " he remarked aloud, almost, it seemed to Archie, 
before the measured fall of the sculls had sounded a score of times. 
"Monsieur and madame ought already to be on board." 

Gerald took out his watch and declared that there were still ten 
minutes to spare. " Would you really like to go on board, or 

AT SEA. 145 

sliall we remain as we are ? " he added, to Archie. " I thiuk this 
is much the pleasantest." 

" Xo," said Miss LoTell, dreading, she scarcely knew why, to 
go through any more lonely farewells. "I should really like to 
go on board with you for a minnte or two, unless you mind it. It 
will seem almost as if I had seen you part of the way." 

The boat was now alongside of the steamer, and a couple of 
stout EngHsh arms were already outstretched to help Archie up 
the companion-ladder. As Gerald was about to follow her the 
boatman took off his cap and demanded his fare, one franc each. 
" Oh, very well," said Gerald, "perhaps I may as well pay you at 
once. Two francs, and how much for mademoiselle's return ? " 

He spoke in excellent French, as far as grammar went, but his 
accent, I suppose, had something alien about it ; something, at 
all events, that was alien to the ear of a Morteville boatman. To 
return ? but nothing — nothing. There was nothing to pay for re- 
turning ; he meant with his empty boat. 

Gerald, however, tossed another franc into his hand. " Wait 
on this side," he cried, when he had run up on deck, and was 
looking down at the boatman's perplexed face, " we shall be off in 
five minutes." 

"Mais oui, monsieur, vous partirez dans cinq minutes. Merci, 
monsieur, merci ma petite dame." And then, with a heightened 
opinion of Englishmen as regards their generosity rather than 
their sense, he C|uietly pulled off towards shore, and Gerald led 
Archie to the after part of the vessel. 

She was as much amused as a child with everything she saw 
on deck, and asked Gerald presently if she might go do\rn and see 
the cabin, 

'' Well, if we have time," he answered, " although I don't think 
there is much you would care to see there. How long before we 
leave ? " he called after the steward, who was passing at the mo- 
ment. ''Five minutes, still. Well, then, we may run down and 
up again, Miss Wilson, but there will not be time for more," 

They went down, and the atmosphere of the cabin, with ranges 
of human beings on all sides already preparing themselves for sea- 
sickness, did not make Archie wish to linger there. As they 
came up the cabin-stairs the last bell rang. 


"And you will only have just time to leave the vessel," said 
Gerald, taking her hand. " Miss Wilson, the moment for saying 
good-bye has come." 

" Good-bye, Mr Durant," she answered, in rather a choked 
voice. " Good-bye, and I hope some day we shall see each other 

He whispered another word or two of tender regi-et at parting, 
as he hurried her across to the gangway by which they had come 
on board ; then — Mr Durant stood aghast ! No boat was to be 
seen, lie rushed across to the other side of the vessel, thinking 
that the boatman had mistaken his orders ; but nothing was to 
be discovered of him. The boat that had brought the last pas- 
sengers was already half-way back to the harbour ; the steam up ; 
the captain in his place of command upon the bridge. 

" Good heavens, this will never do ! " cried Gerald, the whole 
seriousness of the situation breaking upon him far more vividly 
than it did on Archie, who stood quiet, and a little pale at saying 
good-bye, but without any misgiving as to her own return. 
" Stop here for one moment, Miss Wilson, while I see what can 
be doDe." 

He would have made his way, had it been possible, to speak to 
the captain at once ; but a tide of second-class excursionists, who 
were being driven forward by the steward, well-nigh pinned him 
to his place. He breasted the crowd manfully, and after two or 
three minutes' hard fighting had gained the point he strove for ; 
but these three minutes had been the loss of everything. The 
vessel was already in motion. He was lavish in his offers of 
money ; but the captain was inflexible. 

Cases of this kind were constantly occurring among excursion- 
ists, he said ; it might be as much as his command was worth to 
stop the vessel. If they had spoken sooner it might have been 
possible to lower one of the ship's boats, but nothing could be done 
now. They would stop in an hour or so at Calais, and the lady 
might disembark there if she chose. The Calais fetes were going 
on, and she would be able to get back by another excursion-steamer 
to Morteville that afternoon. And this was the consolation Gerald 
had to bear back to Archie. 

For an instant after he had told her in what position she stood, 

AT SEA. 147 

ISkfiss Lovell laughed aloud ; thinking to herself what excellent fun 
this mistake was. Then, to. Gerald's horror, her lips trembled, 
and the great tears rushed up into her eyes. 

"Away! I'll not go away to Calais!" she cried, passionately. 
"That wicked boatman, to dare to leave me here. Oh, papa, 
papa ! " And she stretched out imploring hands towards Morte- 
ville, already growing indistinct in the distance, while the tears 
not only gathered in her eyes, but rained down her cheeks. " I 
never meant it — you know I never meant it ! " she sobbed. " Oh, 
I wish papa was here. I wish I had never left papa." 

In his heart Gerald at this moment most devoutly wished it too. 
The society of the prettiest woman in the world would have been 
dearly purchased to him by scenes or tears or trouble of any kind. 
"It's an awful bore, Miss Wilson; I would have given anything 
for it not to have happened. But — well, crpng can do no good, 
can it? and the boat stops at Calais, after all." 

" And, after all, I shall be a hundred miles from home still," 
cried Archie, not without temper. " "What good Tvill Calais be to 
me? I won't go to Calais." 

She looked so pretty as she made this assertion, her cheeks 
flushed up with childish passion, and the tears standing on her 
long eyelashes, that Gerald could not but be touched. If women 
will cry, it is a great thing when they know how to do it with- 
out getting ugly ; and, if the worst came to the worst, it would 
indisputably be pleasant to have IMiss Wilson's company — scenes 
and tears apart — as far as London. " You shall not go to Calais 
or anywhere else, Miss Wilson, unless you like it ; that is to say, 
if you don't land at Calais you must come on to London, for the 
boat stops nowhere else, and I will see you off, or come with you, 
if you'll let me, by the Folkestone mail, and you will be home 
again early to-morrow morning." 

" In time to meet the twelve o'clock train from Amiens ? " 

" Certainly ; long before that." Gerald in reality knew nothing 
whatever about the hours of trains or steamers; but he spoke 
authoritatively, as men generally do in default of accurate know- 
ledge, and Archie's face brightened. It was consolation, at least, 
to know that she might be home in time to meet her father — for 
the thought of him, far more than of herself, troubled her ; con- 

T, 9, 


solation that, wlietlier she landed at Calais or went on to London, 
she yrould certainly have time to get the silver-grey parasol back 
into its paper before Bettina's return. And so, recovering her 
common sense, IMiss Loyell dried away her tears, and even rallied 
her spirits, so far as to be very much amused, standing by Gerald's 
side, and looking at the different objects along the coast all the 
■way from Morteville to Calais. 

Her adventures, however, were not destined to end yet. As 
they neared the Calais pier, and when again they were talking of 
saying good-bye, Archie, to her horror, descried a whole crowd of 
Morte\illeites assembled there — Miss Marks, Captain "Waters, all 
the Montacutes and others — Mortevilleites who had gone over for 
the morning to the Calais fetes, and who were now waiting for the 
steamer to take them home. It had been her glory hitherto to 
shock these people by her childish escapades; but that was at 
Morteville, at her father's side. All her courage, all her sauciness, 
were gone with the sense of his protection ; and as the Lord of the 
Isles steamed up slowly alongside, she clung close to Gerald's side, 
her veil pulled down over her face, and her heart beating too 
tliickly for her to say a word. The tide had risen sufficiently for 
them to come close in; and Captain Waters recognised Gerald 
Diu?ant, and called out a few friendly remarks to him from the 
pier. "What a vile boat to have chosen for his return to London. 
He (Waters) wished, whatever the boat, that he was going there 
too. Had been boring himself aU the morning at this atrocious 
fete, and was waiting now for some disgusting little French 
steamer to take him back to Morteville, et cetera. 

At the sound of Waters's voice, Archie Lovell's heart beat thicker 
and thicker. " Mr Durant, what must I do ? " she whispered. 
''Decide for me, please. TeU. me how you think my father would 
wish me to act. If I land here, every one of these people will see 
me ; if I go on, and come back by Folkestone, as you said, there 
will be a chance, at least, of their knowing nothing about it, won't 
there ?" And she clung with frightened, imploring eagerness to his 

And Gerald Durant hesitated-- the passengers already coming 
on board ; every moment worth a year of common life to Archie — 
hesitated ; pressed her trembling hand closer ; thought how charm- 

AT SEA. 149 

ing it Avoiild loe to have lier Avitli liiin still ; liow strangely fate 
seemed ever to bring Mm into temptation and mischance of every 
kind ; how — Kay, but I need not record his thoughts in full. 
He was simply true to his irresponsible, vacillating nature : sen- 
timentalized when he should have acted ; thought of the pleasant 
spending of a summer's day, not of the child's life whose marring 
might depend so utterly upon his decision j and in another five 
minutes the Lord of the Isles was on her course again — the 
possibility of Archie Lovell's retiKn gone. 

She stood silent until they were wholly out of sight of the peo- 
ple on the pier, then threw up her veil, and told Gerald, with a 
smile, liliat she felt quite brave now, and he need not be afraid of 
any more tears or tempers. For her father's sake, she added, she 
thought that she had done right to go on. It would have tortured 
him if the Morteville gossips had got up any stories about her 
going to Calais, and no doubt now she would be able to retm?n 
home quietly before any of them were up to-morrow morning. 
How lucky that Jeanneton was safe away, and that she had the 
door-key in her own pocket ; and how pleasant it really was out 
here at sea ! "As I must go to London whether I like it or not, 
I may as well enjoy going to London— may I not, Mr Durante 
Kow that everything is inevitable, and that I am sui'e I'll be 
home before papa, I feel what fun it really is to run away. (I 
tried to run away once in :N"apoli when 1 was little, but a fisher- 
man caught me, and gave me up to Bettina for two scudi.) And 
you—you look as miserable, Mr Durant, as if you were a con- 
spirator going to be caught and hung in chains the moment we 
arrive in London ! " 

''I am not at all miserable, Miss Wilson," answered Gerald, a 
little confusedly; for the gii-l's desperate ignorance of evil did, 
now that it was too late, begin to awaken self-reproach in his heart 
— '' I was only envying you your rare happiness of disposition. A 
Morteville ball, or a Morteville luggage boat, or a Morteville ex- 
cursion steamer — you can enjoy them all alike ! It is enough to . 
make a man sad, you know, when he looks on at a child's amuse- 
ment, and remembers that he, alas ! is a child no longer." 

But although his conscience stung him sharply for a moment, 
before half an hour was over Gerald had ceased to think whether 


lie was to blame or not, and had returned to all his old delight in 
Archie's societ}^ His temperament always made him imperatively 
crave to he amused ; and Archie alwa3's amused him ! Their fel- 
low-passengers, French and English ; the different faces, as they 
grew white and grim, under the throes of on-coming sea-sickness ; 
every little ludicrous incident of the voyage, her quick perception 
seized upon, and put, for his benefit, into quaint and graphic 
language. She was excellent company always ; but, above all, in 
travelling ; for, from the time she was a baby, her father had 
always encouraged her havard tongue at such times, and Archie had 
not been slow to profit by his leave to talk. How charming a 
winter's yachting in the Mediterranean, or a summer's sport in 
jSTorway, would be with such a companion, Gerald thought, as she 
chatted on : it was about the thousandth time that he had thought 
how charming some particular position of life would be with her ; 
what a pity it was that all this fine sense of the ludicrous that 
made a woman so companionable was a missing sense in Lucia. Poor 
Lucia ! He had gone yachting with her once, he remembered, and 
she looked very green and plain, and cried because he would not 
attend on her when she was sea-sick, and wanted mnbrellas and 
parasols and cloaks to be brought to her continually, under every 
fresh vicissitude of the complaint. Archie was not sick a bit. The 
healthy blood shone as bright through her clear skin on sea as on 
shore ; the sun was not too hot for her, or the wind too cold ; in 
fine, she enjoyed herself and made him do the same, just as she 
had done through all the happy hours that they had spent together 
during the past week. "Was it possible that the whole aftair might 
be a serious one ? that destiny, not accident, had brought about 
this strange voyage'? that in spite of Lucia — of every hope— of 
every promise of his life, this blue-eyed child was to be his fate 
after all? 

It was no time or place to talk sentiment now. A fresh breeze 
from the west began to blow as they neared the Foreland, and soon 
sea-sickness in all its Promethean forms was around them. " Could 
we get anywhere out of the way?" Archie asked, as victim after 
victim fell before the rising breeze. " I don't feel ill a bit, but it 
certainly would be pleasanter if we could get away from all these 

AT SEA. 151 

*' We could go upon one of tlie iDaddle-boxes," answered Gerald, 
*' only that you are much too thinly clad, Miss Wilson. But if 
you would not miud wearing one of my coats upon your shoulders, 
I'll tell Bennett to get you one, and then — " 

Just at this moment a stout motherly-looking old lady, who 
had been sitting near them all the voyage, tottered abruptly to her 
feet, and with the choking terseness characteristic of sea-sickness, 
entreated Gerald to help her to the cabin-stairs. '' If you'd like 
my cloak, take it," she added, turning to Archie, as Gerald, with 
his prompt good-nature, steadied one leviathan arm between both 
his hands; "the cloak — on the seat there" — and the inmates of 
the cabin and the steward, fortunately ascending the stairs at the 
moment, heard the rest. 

" Good old lady," cried Miss Lovell. " The very thing I wanted ! 
See, Mr Durant, a scarlet cloak with a hood to it — home-made, 
evidently — and with the old lady's initials neatly marked on a bit 
of tape at the back." And then she put the cloak on — very pic- 
turesque and gipsy-like she looked in it — and ran up lightly, at 
Gerald's side, to the top of the nearest paddle-box. " I call this 
delicious," she cried, as the fresh air blew upon her face. " If my 
hat did not come off every minute, I should want nothing in .the 
world. Mr Dimant, you couldn't lend me a handkerchief to tie it 
on with, could you 1 " 

Gerald called to his valet, who happened to be close at hand — 
wonderful to say of a valet, not ill — and five minutes later the 
superb Mv Bennett handed to Miss Lovell an exquisitely em- 
broidered piece of cambric that he had taken from his master's 
valise for her use. 

" You don't mean to say that this is a handkerchief for your- 
self?" said Archie, as she examined it. "Why, it's fitter for a 
girl, much, than for a man. Such fine batiste, and so beautifully 
stitched in lilac, and this fine embroidered monogram in the 
corner ! Mr Durant, what a dandy you are ! " 

"A dandy without intending it," said Gerald, carelessly. He 
rather liked Lucia to call him a dandy, but hated the word from 
Archie's mocking lips. " I leave all such matters to Bennett. He 
filled a portmanteau full of these trumperies for me before we left 
Paris, but I have not looked at them v^^^ Take your hat off, Miss 


Wilson, I -will hold it for you, and tie the handkerchief round 
your head — so. l^ovr, do you feel that you have everything in 
the world you want? You ought, I am sure." And Mr Durant 
looked long and admiringly at the mignonne, brown face so well 
set off by the coquettish head-dress and scarlet cloak, and back- 
ground of blue sky. 

"As far as dress is concerned, yes," answered Miss Lovell ; 
" but " — she hesitated, and wondered whether she w^as committing 
an impropriety ; then nature was too strong for her, and out the 
truth came, "but I wonder whether they give one dinner on board 
excursion-steamers. I am so hungry." 

Mr Bennett was called again in a moment, and a quarter of an 
hour later an excellent little impromptu pic-nic, consisting of 
chicken, ham, rolls, peaches, and champagne, was brought up on 
the paddle-box. Miss Lovell j)artook of it with hearty appetite 
that no accident could check, and which on the present occasion 
was sharpened by the sea air ; and Gerald ate too, but by snatches ; 
and waited on x\rchie, steadying her plate and holding her tumbler, 
and laughing and jesting with her on her awkwardness every time 
that a lurch of the vessel made her clutch with her little brown 
hands at her chicken or her bread to prevent them rolling from 
her lap. And so the time fled by. When they had finished their 
meal they were already past the Foreland j an advancing tide helped 
them quickly along up the river; and at a few minutes after seven 
the distant chimneys and spires of the great city first rose before 
Archie Lovell's excited eyes. 

It was a glorious August evening, and as the vessel steamed 
slowly up to London Bridge, the city, under the magic touch of 
sunset, seemed transfigured from its accustomed smoke and black- 
ness into a veritable city of the saints; a city of prophyry, 
amethyst, and gold. Eank above rank, far away over the west, 
lay serried hosts of crystalline, vermilion clouds, gradually dpng 
into ether as they neared the delicate opal-green of the horizon. 
The Thames, not a volume of yellowish-grey mud, but the Thames 
of Turner, broke under the arches of the bridge into a thousand 
burning, diamond- coloured flakes of light. Every barge-sail or 
steamer-funnel on the river glowed rosy-red ; every squalid house 
and wall along the quays had received some subtle hue of violet 

AT SEA. 153 

or of amber to transmute its ugliness. Mast and cupola, dome and 
spire, river and "wharf — the alchemy of sunset touched them all 
alike into beauty. And high above, for once not a hea\y mass 
of smoke-coloured lead, rose St Paul's ; in Archie's sight a heaven- 
tinted dome bearing aloft the cross, a golden promise, a light, a 
hojDe to all the toiling restless city at its foot. 

Her heart beat as though with a new life. She had heard from 
Bettma that London was hideous, foggy, wicked ; she saw it a 
majestic city, a dream of golden sky and river, grand bridge, and 
stately wharf, and heaven-tinted dome. What must existence be 
here ! What noble lives must not men and women lead in such 
a place, compared to the lives they led in poor little towns like 
Morteville ! How she hoped there would be time for her to see 
one London street — ah, yes, one would suffice ; with its brilliancy, 
and riches, and crowds of city-dressed people — before she had to 
start upon her journey home. In a sort of ecstasy she pressed her 
hand on Gerald's arm as they were standing on the deck, and 
made kno"\Aai this desire to him in a whisper. Cheapside, or 
Piccadilly, or Oxford Street, she said ; mentioning the few London 
names she knew. Any^vhere would do ; but she would give all 
she possessed (two francs and a half — poor Archie I — and the door- 
key) to see one street, with the shops gas-lit, before she left. 

The request, and the hand-pressure, and the up-turned glance from 
the mignonne face, sent the blood to Gerald's heart. A stronger 
man than he was, might, perhaps, have lost his coolness a little at 
such an hour, and alone with such a companion as Archie ; and he 
stooped and whispered a few very sweet, very mad, words into the 
girl's ear; words not absolutely disloyal- as yet, not more disloyal 
than those he had already spoken when they stood together on the 
terrace by the sea at Morteville ; but words such as Lucia Durant, 
could ■ she ' have heard them, would for very certain not have 

Before Archie could answer, before she could even think how 
much or how little Gerald's answer meant, the steamer had 
stopped. At once a hoarse Babel of sounds — foreign sounds they 
seemed to her — greeted them from the wharf ; the j^ent-up tide of 
excursionists, all eager to land, and untroubled by luggage, bore 
them resistlessly on towards the crowded narrow gangway, and in 


another minute Archie Lovell's feet, for the first time in her life, 
rested upon English ground. 


MR DURANT's generosity. 

"And I have got the old lady's cloak on still, Mr Durant ! 
"\yhat, in heaven's name, am I to do with it V Gerald and Miss 
Lovell had been driven from the Thames pier to the London 
Bridge station, and were now waiting until a sublimely-indifferent 
clerk would condescend to give them information about the tidal 
train to Folkestone. " She told me, as we came up the river, I 
might wear it till we got to London j and then in the hurry of 
landing I forgot all about her and her cloak and ever}i:hing else. 
What ought I to do with it 1 " 

" Keep it, if it is worth anything ; leave it in the waiting-room 
if it is not," said Gerald, unhesitatingly. " I wonder, Miss Lovell, 
that you should ask any questions on such a point." 

" Well, it really is old — old ! and washed and mended," said 
Archie, falling at once into Gerald's easy morality, " so it can't 
matter much to the o^vner whether it's lost or not. I'll just keep 
it on for the present, and then, if I find it too warm, leave it be- 
hind me somewhere. I would never like the prince, or M. Gounod, 
or any of my partners, to see me land on the Morteville pier in 
it." Only this last part of the remark Miss Lovell made to her- 
self, not aloud. 

The sublimely-indifferent clerk now imparted to them that the 
tidal train for Folkestone left at half-past ten; in rather more 
than two hours, that was to say, from the present time. " And I 
can wait very well alone here at the station," said Archie, a little 
shyly ; " and it is really time for us to say good-bye. ]\Ir Durant, 
I have given you so much trouble, and I am so much obliged to 
you for your kindness ! " They had only talked common-places 
since that last whisper of Gerald's on board the steamer, and the 
girl turned her eyes away from him as she spoke. 


" Would you rather "be without me, Miss Wilson 1 Say so, and 
I will go away at once." 

'' I don't want' to trouble you, Mr Durant. I think you must 
have had quite enough of me without waiting any longer here." 

'•' And if I have not had enough of you 1 If I want exceedingly 
to stay and he of some use to you to the last 1 " 

She smiled, holding do^vn her face still, and Gerald, instead of 
going away, told his valet, who, observant and mystified, was 
waiting a few yards from where they stood, to get a/ cab and take 
his luggage home at once. 

"Without you, sirV' 

'' Without me. I shan't be home till late. I am going to spend 
the evening at Mr Dennison's in the Temple, most likely." 

After which Mr Bennett went off, thankful, whatever happened, 
that he had at length got the luggage fairly in his own hands, and 
so could not by possibility be taken back to Morteville — a con- 
tingency he had several times speculated on as quite in the power 
of his master's companion to effect — and Mr Durant and Archie 
were alone. 

"Do I look mad, or foreign, or what?" she whispered, coming 
up close to Gerald's side. '• These English people all stare at me 
so strangely as they go by." 

Her face was flushed with excitement ; her sailor's hat, as the 
^\'ind had left it, a little on one side ; her long hair hanging over 
her neck and shoulders ; and this disarray, and her singular beauty, 
added perhaps to the fact of her being dressed in white muslin and 
a scarlet cloak, imdoubtedly made her look different to the female 
British traveller ordinarily to be met with at this hour of the night 
at London stations. 

" Perhaps if we were to go to the waiting-room," suggested 
Gerald, " you would like to have tea or coffee, or something, and 
while they are getting it, you might — " 

" Make myself look human," interrupted Archie. " All right, 
only you need not have hesitated. The faces of the people as they 
go by tell me plainly enough the kind of monster they think me." 
And then she took Gerald's arm and tripped off with him down 
the long echoing passage that they were told led to the refreshment- 
room. Tripped with feet that seemed to tread on air, so happy 


was she. The voyage had been delightful enough, but these 
breathless after-adventures were better still ; these crowds of 
strangers, this foreign tongue — for to hear English spoken about 
her was foreign to Archie ; above all, the sense of being in Lou- 
don, and alone, without Bettina, without her father ! Once, years 
ago, in Florence, she had got out upon the roof of the six-storied 
house where they lodged, and gazed with intoxicated, wondrous 
dehght u^Don the altered world at her feet. Something of the same 
dehcious giddiness, the same sense of "v\T:ong-doing and danger, and 
intense excitement, all blent into one, was upon her now. Of 
coming to positive harm — harm from which all her future life 
should never thoroughly free her — she had no more fear than she 
had, as a child, of falling down and being killed upon the Florence 

In the refreshment-room a young person with an eighteen-inch 
waist, and shining black hair, a Vrinperafricey received A^ith su- 
preme composure Gerald's modest command of tea for two, and 
then, more than ever ashamed of herself from a certain expression 
she had read in the superb young person's eyes, ^liss Lovell found 
her way to the ladies' waiting-room. The typical occupants of 
ladies' waiting-rooms were there. A fierce old maid, sitting bolt 
upright by the table, guarding eleven packages and a bu'd-cage, all 
of which she tried with a glare to clutch every time any one looked 
at her ; a farmer's daughter, on her way from Somerset to a situa- 
tion in Kent, who asked imbecile questions, and jumped up, with 
her face on fire, every time she heard a door open or a bell ring ; a 
stout lady, maternally occupied with a stout infant in a corner j 
and a thin lady with six children, out of temper, two nurses, a 
baby, bottles, food, toys, and children's luggage of all kinds, filling 
up the remaining portions of the room. Every woman and child 
present stared up with open eyes at Archie ; the old maid by the 
table clutched her parcels tight, and shook her head meaningly at 
the thm lady, as much as to say, " You see I was right, madam. 
Ko knowing what sort of characters you may meet when you 

"Dressing-room to the right," cried an austere personage, the 
presiding official of the place, who was sitting, with her hands be< 
fore her, on the only comfortable chair the room afforded j and 

MR, durant's generosity. 157 

into the dressing-room Miss Lovell, more and more ashamed of 

herself, fled for refuge. There was a light from a gas-burner about 

[ twenty feet liigh, and a tall, dim looking-glass, and some very 

I dark-complexioned water ; no towels, no soap : can railway com- 

jDanies be expected to care how ladies wash their earnal hands 1 — 

but provision for the spirit in the shape of large printed texts on 

I placards round the walls ; a Bible and Prayer-book on a little deal 

! table ; also a missionary box. Miss Lovell dipped her face into 

I water, and dried it on ]\Ir Durant's fine lawn handkerchief, which 

j she happened to have left in the pocket of the cloak ; pinned all 

' her rebellious locks as tight and smooth as they would lie aroimd 

her head ; put her sailor's hat on straight, arranged the old red 

1 cloak decorously, and pulled down her blue gauze veil close over 

her face. 

As she walked demurely back in this improved condition, she 
had the satisfaction of finding that the people stared at her some- 
what less. " AVliich shows that it was nothing but my hair that 
made me look odd ! " she remarked, seating herself opposite to 
Gerald, after ridding herself of her cloak and hat like a child, and 
tossing them down on a chair. " It's all very well to follow papa's 
picturesque tastes in Morteville, but directly I come to England — 
I mean, if I ever come here — I shall take very good care to look 
like other people. J^oav, I wonder," abruptly, " what your cousin 
Lucia would have thought if she had seen me a few minutes ago 1 " 
The mere suggestion made Gerald evince. What would Lucia — 
what would any one who knew Lucia — think of his companion at 
this moment ? She was looking prettier than ever ; her face aglow 
from its recent bath ; her bright wet hair negligently coiled round 
her head ; her little brown hands clasped together on the table, as 
she leaned forward to speak to him ; her blue eyes all alight with 
animation as they looked full into his. Born and bred in Italy, 
this girl had in her very nature something of the joyous, careless 
ibandonment of the women of the south. Her voice was musical 
ilways, but she spoke out — I will not say loud — as Englishwomen 
>f pure race do not ; she gesticulated, ever so little, as she talked ; 
ivhen she laughed, she laughed with free expansion of the chest, 
vith f idlest showing of the white teeth. In the drawing-room of 
4 duchess Archie in an instant might have taken her stand as what 


she was ; an English girl, gentle Ly birtli, but with some subtle 
inoculation of southern eagerness and passion in her veins, and a . 
want of manner so thorough as to be the very perfection of that 
which all artificial manner aims at— simplicity. But the waiting- 
room of the Soiith-Eastern terminus is not the drawing-room of a 
duchess ; and .whether her hair hung down loosely over her 
shoulders, or was coiled in tliis bright broad coronet above her 
face, looks of admiration, a great deal too coarse for Gerald's taste 
to brook, continued to be cast on poor Archie from every pair of 
male eyes that approached her. 

"The English people are the worst-bred in the world," he re- 
marked ; so pointedly that a good old papa of fifty at a neighbour- 
ing table, who had been staring at them unintenuptedly for five 
minutes, immediately sank his head abashed into his newspaper. 
'' Foreigners live in public, and are accustomed to it from the time 
they are six years old. The true Briton, when he does leave his 
den, stares about him as if he was at a wild-beast show. I^ow 
that we are going to eat," he added, laughing, for the girl began to 
look distressed in earnest, ''we shall probably be found more in- 
teresting still. There is something peculiarly grateful to the citizen 
mind in watching curious animals feed. You will have something to 
eat with your coffee 1 " Doubtfully this, for it was not three hours 
since they had dined, and Gerald was ignorant as to how many 
meals a school-girl's appetite could require a day. 

" Please. JSTothing solid, though. Bread and butter, or brioche, 
or some fruit." 

The superb young person signified, with dignity, that bread and 
butter, brioche, and fruit, were things unknown to her. There 
were the refreshments that they saw upon the counter ; fossilized 
sausage-rolls, batteredrold sandwiches, lava-hued buns strewn over 
with a cinderish deposit of currants, and packages of Wother- 
spoon's lozenges ; and from these refreshments they could choose. 

" Bring some buns, then," said Gerald, pointing out what ap- 
peared to him the least horrible object present ; and buns were 
brought, and eaten ly Archie — Mr Durant looking on in silent 
wonder and admiration ; and then the tea — very hot and very un- 
like tea — was drunk; and Archie began to put on her gloves; 

MR durant's generosity. 159 

and their talk went round again to what they would do with the 
hour and a quarter they still had to spare. 

'' There would be no time, of course, to see anything 1 " said the 
girl ; but her voice made it a question. *' I mean anything of the 
London streets and shops 1 " 

" Well, I don't see why not," Gerald answered, taking out his 
watch, either because he wanted really to know the time, or be- 
cause he did not care just then to meet the full gaze of Archie's 
eyes. " These hansom fellows go so cj^uick, I think, if we were to 
take one, we might have time to get to the West End and back. 
Piccadilly, was it not. Miss Wilson, that you wished to see 1 " 

'^ Oh yes ; Piccadilly, or anywhere else," said Archie, to whom 
the words West End, Piccadilly, or hansom, all conveyed about 
the same meaning. "You know, of course, how much time we 
shall have. I'll do just as you think best." 

"You will. Miss AVilson?" 

"Yes, of course." 

" Then let us go." And they rose ; and while Gerald went to 
pay for the tea, Archie remained before a glass that hung close 
beside the table, putting on her hat and arranging her collar, and 
smoothing back her hair — with all the little well-contented gestures 
that come so naturally to a pretty girl before a looking-glass — and 
thinking how pleasant this drive by gaslight would be, and how 
sorry — with a great pang this ! — how sorry she would be to part 
from Gerald at the end of it all. To part : to return to Morteville ; 
and for him to go away and marry his cousin Lucia, and never 
think of her again while he lived ! 

When she got as far as this in her reflections, a mist swam be- 
fore Miss Lovell's eyes. She brushed her hand before them hastily, 
for she had a child's shame of tears yet, as well as a child's facility 
in shedding them ; and then, looking up into the glass again, she 
saw not only her own face reflected there, but a man's — and a man's 
she knew. 

The vision came upon her so quickly that instead of turning 
round at once, she continued for a full minute to gaze, spell-bound 
like one in a dream, into the glass. Where had she known that 
face ? In what country, at what time of her life, had those rough 


features, that gentle kindly expression, been so familiar to her 1 K 
her father's face had suddenly appeared above her shoulder, it 
coidd scarce have seemed more home-like than did this one ; and 
still she could recall no name to which it belonged. It was an 
En<^lish face*; and what Englishman had she ever kno'^^ii inti- 
mately in her life 1 She was on the point of turning round when 
the stranger, whoever he was, moved away abruptly ; and when 
she did turn, three or four men were walkmg near her in different 
directions. "Which of these could have been he who stood and 
looked at her ] She had not the slightest clue by which to divine. 
One of the men was in a grey overcoat, the rest were in dark 
clothes. This was all she could tell about -them; all probably 
that she would ever know about her vision. It must have been a 
chance likeness only that had startled her, she thought ; a likeness 
most probably to some German or Italian friend of her father's, 
w^ho had held her on his knee when she was a child, and the re- 
membrance of whose face had slumbered in her memory till now. 
What a coward she must be that her heart should beat so quickly, 
the colour all die out of her cheek — she had watched it do so in 
the glass — for such an accident ! 

Eut accident or coincidence, whichever it was, the vision had 
wrought a singular and utter revulsion in Archie's feelings. The 
expression of that face she had seen was grave and pitying ; and in- 
stinctively the thought of it brought her father before her, and 
made her stop short, and reflect upon what all this was that she was 
doing. For the first time since she got clear of the Calais pier, 
she felt frightened, and wished she was at home. Eettina had 
often told her that men were wicked and designing — good-looldng, 
fashionable men the worst of all. How could she know that Mr 
Durant was not desperately Nvicked, in spite of his handsome face 
and pleading voice ? Suppose she went away for this drive with 
him, and he did not bring her back in time, and she missed the 
train, and never reached MorteviLle next morning, and when her 
father and Eettina came back they would find Jeanneton crying 
imder the jDortecocher, and the door locked, and herself, Archie, 
gone. At this dreadful picture her lips quivered, a choking feeling 
rose in her throat, and when Gerald came back and offered her 
his arm, she was too agitated and too afraid to trust her own voice 

MR durant's generosity. 161 

to speak. So, interpreting her altered manner in the way most 
flattering to himself, he led her away through the station, wliisper- 
ing a few encouraging words as they went, and pressing ever so 
slightly the little hand that he could feel was trembling nervously 
as it rested on his arm. 

When they were outside he bade her wait one moment while he 
ran to hail a cab from the stand, about twenty or thirty yards dis- 
tant, and then Miss Lovell spoke. '' Please don't get a cab for me, 
Mr Durant, I would rather not go, if you don't mind. I would 
rather wait here." 

From any other woman Grerald would have expected this change 
of mind, and have argued the point. From Arcliie he knew that 
it was earnest, not a feint ; and he remained dead silent. *' I hope 
you won't think me silly to turn about so," she entreated him 
softly, " but when you were gone I began to recollect — about papa, 
you understand, and getting home — and I thought how dreadful 
it would be if I missed the train. IsTow, you are not cross with 

" Miss Wilson," he remarked, drily, " tell the whole truth. You 
are afraid to trust yourself with me." 

Her hand shifted uneasily on his arm. " I'm not afraid, Mr 
Durant, but — I don't know whether I ought. IsTow, I just ask 
you — supposing it wasn't you and me at all, do you think I 
ought?" • 

"To do what?" 

" To drive about with you, and — and run the chance of losing 
the train." 

" There need be no chance of losing it," he answered, promptly. 
'' The question is, would you rather have an hour's drive through 
the cool streets, or remain in a suffocating waiting-room here?". 

" Well, then, you decide for me, please ! " She wanted 
desperately to see the shop-windows, and she felt how ungrateful 
it was, after all his kindness, to put so little trust in him. " If 
you promise me to be back in good time for the train — " 

"If I promise to do all that you wish, now and for ever, Miss 
Wilson, will you come ? " 

An imwonted tremour was in his voice, and Archie Lovell's 
heart vibrated to it. ^ In love with him she was not, had never 


been ; save, perhaps, for that second's 'space upon the terrace at 
Morteville; but she liked him, she admired him — shall I be 
understood if I say that she pitied him? She felt for liim, in 
spite of his eight years' seniority, something as an elder sister 
might feel for a brother whom she loves, but cannot thoroughly 
believe in; and standing here, alone with him now, her cheeks 
flushed crimson vnth. shame, to feel — even while her heart thrilled 
to his words — how scanty was the trust she put in him, or in his 
promises. And this very distrust had well-nigh hurried Archie 
into trusting him ! It seemed so cruel to hold back from him 
now ; during the last short hour they would be together, to deny 
him in anything he asked of her. 

"I don't know about obeying me for ever, Mr Durant," and 
Gerald detected in a moment that her voice was not thoroughly 
steady. " There won't be much opportunity after to-night for you 
to obey or disobey me ; but now, if you really are sure — " 

The words died on Archie Lovell's lips; she drew her hand 
^vith a start from Grerald's arm. So close that he almost touched 
her as he passed, a man went quickly by them in the gaslight ; a 
tall, large-built man, in a grey overcoat, and with a certain square- 
set about the head and shoulders that convinced Archie, although 
she saw no feature of his face, it was the same man who had looked 
across her shoulder into the glass. The same mysterious influence 
he had exercised upon her then, returned, only -^vith double, treble 
strength, across her mind. She would 7iot go away with Mr 
Durant : she would wait here for the train that should take her 
back safely to her father and Bettina. 

" Are you frightened, Miss Wilson 1 Did that fellow touch you 
as he passed 1 or do you know him, or what 1 " 

Archie's eyes, wide open, continued to follow the stranger untU 
he was out of sight, and then, and not tUl tlien, she spoke. " I'm 
not frightened, Mr Durant, but startled. That man is some one I 
have known — I am certain of it — and I can't help fancying that 
he recognized me — " 

" Oh, not at aU likdy," inteiTupted Gerald, lightly, " and if it 
were so, what matter ? Xow stay one moment here, while I cross 
the road and hail a cab." 

Instead of arguing any more, Archie diplomatically stole her 

MR DUE ant's generosity, 163 

iiand again witliiii his arm. " Mr Durant," she said, softly, " why- 
should we waste the time by driving, after all ? It's the last time 
we shall ever be together. Yes, the truth must be spoken at 
length, and we shall be far better able to talk here than rattling 
over the streets of London in a fiacre. Take me for a walk over 
the great bridge there, and I shall like it better alone with you, 
than being shown all the fine streets and shops in the world." 

She held her face beseechingly up to his ; her voice came 
trembling, as it always did when she was moved j and with some 
faint accent, some intonation rather, of Italian clinging to its 
sound. And then this change of mind was, by her Machiavellian 
instinctive art, rendered in itseK so gracious, so sweet, to Gerald's 
vanity ! He felt he could not bat concede to her all she wished ; 
nay, he could not but acknowledge that she was too generous, too 
true, to be led into further folly. Corrupt Gerald Durant was not, 
nor cynical — although his easy nature led him into actions savour- 
ing of corruption, and of cynicism on occasions. What he most 
admired — consequently what he was himself good enough to 
recognize — in Archie, was her exceeding honesty, her untaught 
loyal frankness. And, call it epicureanism or virtue, he did at 
this moment feel that it was well that she should leave him thus ; 
well that he should be able to hang one unsullied portrait among 
the gallery of the women he had loved ! 

On the brink of every action — high or low, base or noble — 
Gerald Durant could be ever swerved aside by some sudden turn 
of sentiment like this. Sentimental, in reality, rather than 
passionate in love, it was in love-affairs, above all, that he was 
most prone to waver. A coarse selfish nature, like Eobert Den- 
nison's, walks straight to its immediate gratification ; a refined 
selfish nature, like Gerald's, hesitates, stops short; speculates 
whether occasionally a higher pleasure may not be found in 
abnegation! And though such men have not the materials in 
them for great heroes or for good lovers, their very weakness, 
somehow, makes them intensely lovable to people stronger than 
themselves ; and when, now and then, they do come to grief (and 
bring you to grief with them), you feel the whole guilt must, of 
necessity, belong to you, not them ; which, for the sake of their 
consciences, is charming. 

M 2 


An accident, or Archie's uncompromising honesty, had saved 
them both ; and already Gerald's imagination Tvas moved by the 
thought of liis own generosity ; by the thought, too, that Archie 
would be always Archie — fair, pure, unsullied — ^in his recollection. 
Ten jninutes ago, with the girl's blue eyes upraised to his, he had 
desired, as strongly as he ever desired anything in his life, to take 
her with him for that drive through London. The picturesqueness 
of the situation fired his fancy! — driving mth this little half- 
foreign gM, in her sailor's hat and white dress, along the streets 
of London in a hansom ; listening to her childish talk about all 
she saw ; holding her hand furtively in his, probably ; and watch- 
ing the changed look on her face when he began to tell her at last 
how much he cared for her. l^o ; at this point the picturesque 
situation became commonplace, and he had not fully thought it 

Only, if a darkened life, if ruin, if despair, had chanced to 
ensue in after-times, Gerald would have looked back, and firmly 
believed, and made every one else belieA^e with him, that he meant 
no wrong ! 

Circumstances, picturesque circumstances, had been too strong 
for hiTTi : just that. 



Archie put her hand within his arm and drew him a step 
towards her, or, as she meant it to be, towards London Bridge. 
That step was the first one in the direction of salvation. 

" It "svill be better than seeing shop-wiudows and streets," she 
said, repeating her last words. ''I can imagme the London 
streets — I have driven through Amiens by gaslight — but I can't 
imagine what it is to stand at night upon a mighty bridge like 
that. Thank you," for he was walking obediently by her side 
now. " Mr Durant, hoM^ shall I ever thank you for all the kind- 
ness you have shown to me to-day 1 " 


" You won't thank me in the only way I want, Miss Wilson. 
I don't care for any other." 

" In what way shall I thank you, then ? Tell me — I will do it." 

''1^0, you will not. You cannot. The thing is over, impossi- 
ble. You will go back to Morteville, marry yoiu' Eussian prince, 
perhaps, and I — Miss Wilson," he interrupted himself, "I hope 
that you will write to me sometimes ? Write and tell me you got 
to the end of your journey safely, at all events." 

" I will send you a newspaper, Mr Durant " — Gerald had already 
found some excuse for giving her his address — "just to let you 
know I am safe ; but as to writing — " 

''As to writing?" 

*'!N"o ; it would be better not. When we have said ' Good-bye," 
we have said it. Our lives lie apart." 

" Miss Wilson — Archie, what a cruel speech ! " 

"A true one," she answered, quietly. "My father is a poor 
man, Mr Durant. A man-— why should I mind telling you ? — 
living a little under a cloud, poor papa ! and we "svrite to no one. 
I don't know whether we shall live in Morteville any longer, or 
where we shall go even when we leave ; and papa and Bettina 
might not find it convenient that I should be writing about, giving 
our address. N'ow, you are not angry with me for refusing 1 " 

" No, Miss Wilson ; I succumb to it as a necessity. It would 
be against every natural law that I should hear from you. Law- 
yers, duns, cousins, are the human beings who always remember to 
write. The people "one cares for, never! You ^vill remember me 
a month, if you are not amused, Archie ; two days, if you are." 

The word "Archie" had fallen from his lips so naturally that 
Miss Lovell felt it would have been absurd, affected, for him not 
to use it. " Amused or not amused, I shall remember you," she 
said, simply. " I shall remember you while I live." 

"And some day come to remember me with contempt probably," 
said Gerald. " I fancy most people do that when they think my 
character over." 

Archie was silent. 

"You don't contradict me?" he persisted." ''Some day, when 
you look back on all this as a thing of the past, you will remember 
me with contempt." 


" With contempt, never ! " 

"With what feeling, then?" 

" I don't know, Mr Durant. "What is the use of my trying to 
look forward to what I shall tliink when I am old and wise ? I 
am foolish now, and — and I don't think of you with contempt. 
Where is the good of looking forward 1 " 

Now the preceding little questions and answers had not been 
spoken uninterruptedly, as I have written them, but -with such 
hiatuses and dislocations as must be inevitable in the speech of 
any two persons who should attempt to whisper soft nothings 
amidst a crowd of some thousands of London excursionists. One 
of those cheap trains to which by bitter irony the name of pleasure 
is prefixed, had just disgorged itseK at the South-Eastern terminus, 
and a stream of human beings, the men beer-sustained but dread- 
fidly depressed Avitli baby-carrying, the women loudly miserable, 
the children wailing from overmuch gingerbread and want of 
sleep, were jostling Ai'chie and Mr Durant at every step they took. 
At the moment they were about to cross the britlge three or four 
young men, not drunk exactly, but nearer drunk than sober, 
pressed up behind them with some of the remarks that to persons 
of their class pass current for humour respecting Ai'chie's scarlet 
cloak and Gerald's hat. He had travelled in that same Tyroleso 
hat that he wore on the day when Archie first met him, and which 
was certainly not of a shape you see in London streets^ save in 
connection with monkeys and white mice. ^liss Lovell, her pre- 
sence of mind forsaking her, di^opped Gerald's arm, and in a second 
she felt herself lost ! Lost in a coarse hot mob, and with three or 
four insolent faces — for the young men kept their attention on her 
still — peering under her hat and making remarks (happily lost 
upon her, being in slang) as to her dress and her pretty face, and 
** the Frenchman's " — Gerald's — want of pluck in not taking better 
care of her. 

She was intensely, sickeningly frightened ; and gave a sort of 
little cry — holding her hands up, as if to beg her assailants to 
spare her — ^with a word or two of Italian bursting from her in hex 
terror. At the sound of the foreign tongue their amusement re- 
doubled, and one, the biggest and most insolent-looking of the 
group, w^as just pushing his face into horrible closeness with Ar- 


cMe's, when lie received the most summary check to his admiration 
conceivable; a blow straight between the eyes, that sent him 
staggering back into one of his companions' arms ; also, from the 
circumstance of Gerald wearing a signet ring upon the little finger 
of his right hand, giving him a mark for b'fe just above the bridge 
of his short nose. In a second, at this unexpected show of fight 
from '^ the Frenchman," every sign of a regular street-row arose. 

Before Gerald could strike out again, two stout mechanics' 
wives, who had seen nothing whatever of the affair, were clinging 
on, shrieking, to each of his arms ; his hat, which had fallen off" in 
the rush he made to save Archie, was being pitched hither and 
thither, with shouts of derision in the crowd, and cries of " Shame, 
shame ! " began to make themselves heard as his antagonist's face, 
deadly white, and covered with blood, rose up and glared venge- 
fully about in the gaslight. 

At this moment, luckily for the patricians in the affray, a couple 
of policemen appeared on the scene, with three or four more fol- 
lowing rapidly, within thirty yards. As a matter of course, the 
man with a broken nose was collared first ; for policemen, being 
only human, have more faith in their own eyes than in any other 
kind of evidence. 

" It wasn't me at all ! " he cried, as well as he could speak. 
" It was the other fellow struck me, savage, in the face." 

The policeman asked who ? One man, who had seen, answered 
"The Frenchman;" and immediately the crowd — who had not 
seen — vociferated " The Frenchman, the Frenchman ! " 

" Where is he 1 Point him out." 

But now the crowd was a little at fault. Gerald, in a Tyrolese 
hat, might look unlike an Englishman ; but Gerald's smooth face, 
without a hat at all, looked less like a Frenchman's than any 
man's in the crowd. 

"There's the yoimg woman as was with him !" cried a voice. 
*' Her in the scarlet cloak and round hat." 

The poor young woman in the scarlet cloak, upon this, found 
herself the object of attention to himdreds of eager, dirty faces, 
and with both of the policemen asking her for information. 
TVliich was the Frenchman ? 

Much too frightened to say she did not know, Archie pointed 


vaguely to one of lier late tormentors, a young man who happened 
to wear a tuft of black hair upon his chin, and gasped out : — 

" He began it all — indeed, he did ! This one," showing the 
man with the broken nose, " was not as bad. The other began it." 

This was something tangible and conclusive, and gave the clue 
at once as to what every one had seen. The stout females who 
had been clinging to Gerald dropped him now, as an obscure per- 
son of no interest, and pressed forward to furnish each her quota of 

" I seen the blow struck myself, sir, by this here young man 
with the beard, and the other man fell back, and — " 

'^ Move on," cried one of the policemen authoritatively, as soon 
as he saw which two out of the mob were his men, and the rest of 
the force having now come up • and on the crowd was moved ; the 
injured man in front, the supposed Frenchman tightly collared in 
the rear, and vainly protesting against the illegality of his capture. 
i^ Gerald, with a sign of his hand, made Archie comprehend that 
she should stand passively where she was and wait for him. She 
did so, and not until the crowd had thoroughly broken and dis- 
persed did he return to her side. 

"I'm not a bit frightened!" she cried, seizing hold of him, 
half-crying, half-laughing, and trembling in every limb. ''K'ot a 
bit. Mr Durant, how you saved me, and how brave you were ! " 

"Tn letting another fellov/ be taken up for my work ? " he asked. 

" ISTo, no ; in coming as you did to my help. That horrible man 
was putting liis face close — close to mine ! and I felt myself getting 
sick and blind with fright, and then your arm struck out before 
me, and I was saved ! " 

And she clung to him. 

"And, but for you, would have finished the evening at a police- 
station," said Gerald. " In spite of my reason I still retain the 
instincts of an English schoolboy, and never can help hitting out 
on these sorts of occasions ; but it is the instinct of a fool ! Only 
for your presence of mind I should have been carried off to the 
nearest lock-up house, and you would have been left here, among 
a London crowd, alone." 

Archie trembled more than ever at the thought. 


" But I don't know what presence of mind I showed, ^Mr Du- 
rant. How did I save you being carried o£f by the poHce 1 " 

Gerald explained to her ; and Archie felt a Quixotic impulse to 
rush after the crowd, tell the policeman the truth, and cause the 
wrong man to be freed. Then she wondered whether Gerald was 
right in letting the mistake go on ; even to this miserable, unknown 
shop-boy, was it upright, loyal ? and then she remembered he had 
done it for her sake, and clung to him again. Every question was 
solved by Archie at this time of her life by impulse, not principle j 
and the first intuitions of that fine nature were ever right. Only, 
like a child, when she saw that the people she liked felt difi^erently 
to herself, she went over, without a struggle, to their side. 

" I did not tell a story intentionally, at all events," she remarked, 
after a few minutes' thought. *' And the man with the beard did 
begin — teasing me, I mean, and I hope he will be well frightened, 
but not put in prison, for his punishment. Mr Durant, look at 
your coat ! " One of the sides of Gerald's coat was torn across from 
the collar to the arm. "And your hat — where is it? Great 
heavens, what can we look like 1 " 

Unlike other people, most incontestably : Archie in the costume 
you know of j Gerald with his torn coat, and hatless. A police- 
man, one of those who had come up at the conclusion of the row, 
walked by just at this moment, turned, and scrutinized them nar- 
rowly. They were standing close under a lamp, and he could see 
both of their faces as clear as if it had been noonday. 

" Luckily for me. Miss "Wilson, that the night is so hot," said 
Gerald, speaking with intentional distinctness. He had a mortal 
dread, for Archie's sake, of being implicated still in the affray. 
^' When those people were killing each other, some ruffian knocked 
my hat ofi", and the last I saw of it was making a somersault in the 
air over the bridge. If you really want to go further we must be 
making haste," he added, taking out his watch. " Oiu' train starts 
at half-past ten, and it is nearly ten already." 

And then X 22 moved on — whatever suspicions he might have 
entertained of these *' foreign-looking customers " set at rest ; and 
with the face, and voice, and trick of manner of one of them, at 
least, graven upon his professional memory for life. 


They walked slowly on to the middle of the bridge, and soon, 
in her wonder and delight at what she saw, the excitement of the 
adventure faded from Arcliie Lovell's mind. She was keenly sus- 
ceptible, as few girls of her age — as few women of any age — are, 
to emotions derived simply from mthout, and unconnected with 
personal or petty interests. Lucia would have talked for hours 
about the torn coat and lost hat, and all that she had gone through, 
and all that everybody would say when they heard of her courage. 
Archie forgot the adventure, and her companion, and herself, in 
the bewilderment of new and vivid feelings which the sight of 
London awakened in her. Some dim sense of the pathos, the mys- 
tery, of this " mighty heart," broke, child as she was, across her in- 
telligence, and held her lips silent, and suffused her eyes with 
tears. It was starlight now, and dome, and spire, and distant 
minster, lifted their shadowy shapes of delicate silver-grey against 
the purple arch of sky ; along the river-side the quiver of innumer- 
able lamps showed forth in fitful relief the gloomy outlines of the 
whar\^es and houses ; a chaos of reflection was painted blood-red 
and kiminous upon the inky "highway of the world" beneath. 
As Archie stood and gazed around her she felt a sudden realization 
of what life is ; life with all its limitless powers of suffering and of 
happiness. Ah, what sorrow, she felt, what sorrow, what love, 
what patient endurance, what tragic passions of all kinds, must be 
stirring in these millions of human hearts amidst which she stood, 
a foolish girl v/ho had never suffered, never loved, never lived, save 
in play ! Her breath came quickly ; she dropped her companion's 
arm, leant her breast against the cold stone parapet of the bridge, 
and sighed ; a vague yearning for life, and all that life unfolds, 
even its misery, stirring her heart as with an actual pain. 

*' You sigh. Miss Wilson," said Gerald. '' You are tired out at 
last. Take my arm and let us tm^n back to the station. Thei>e 
isn't very much to be seen here after all, is there 1 " 

"I beg your pardon," she cried, with a start. ''I — I don't 
think I could have heard you right." 

He repeated his words, and Archie was shocked at their com- 
mon-place sound. " Not much to see ! How can there be more ? 
I never saw anything so great before in my life." 


"N"©? Did you never see any large cities by gaslight in 

" Yes ; but I was a child then, and English people did not live 
in them. I feel here " — her voice faltering with one of its subtle, 
wonderful inflections — *'as if I had brothers and sisters for the 
first time in my life." 

Mr Durant smiled at her eagerness. " You should see Paris on 
a fete-day if you are so fond of lamplight effects. You wouldn't 
think much of London, if you had seen the Champs Elysees and 
the Tuileries illuminated." 

After which Archie spoke no more to him of what she felt. 
With her father she could have lingered here, she felt, for hours ; 
interchanging ever and anon a quaint fancy, or hazarding a wild 
suggestion, as their custom was together. From Gerald she felt 
that she was very far apart. He could dance with her, laugh with 
her, sentimentalize with her. At this moment, when noble long- 
ings, fresh enthusiasm, stirred her heart, Mr Durant stood in a dif- 
ferent world to hers. 

She took his arm as he told her, and they went on, at her wish, 
to the farther end of the bridge, then crossed, so as to have a dif- 
ferent view of the city on their way back. The pavement was 
not so densely crowded here ; and as they walked slowly along, 
Archie happened to notice a woman's figure crouched away in a 
corner of one of the recesses, and with her hand sunk down 
against the wall at her side. "Look, Mr Durant," she whispered, 
" is that woman ill 1 See the way she crouches there, in that thin 
dress, and with nothing round her. Let me speak to her." 

"Good God, no. Miss Wilson!" exclaimed Gerald, quickly. 
" We are not in Morteville, remember. !N'o one ever speaks to 
people in London." 

":N"otif they are ill?" 

"Oh, she is not ill. No one ever is ill. Let us come on, 

But Archie held obstinately back. " I am sure that woman is 
ill— I Ivnow it from the look of her hands — do you think I've seen 
no sick people abroad, ever? Ill, and in that dress, poor soul! 
Mr Durant, do you think it would be dishonest for me to give her 


this cloak ? I really want to get rid of it — it's so hot, and it would 
never do for me to land in Morteville in things that don't belong 
to me." 

" Then please leave it at the station, or throw it, if you prefer, ' 
into the Thames. You cannot, really, speak to people of this kind." 
And he drew her on, sorely against her will, for four or five 

But then Archie made a resolate stop, and with a quick move- 
ment unhooked her cloak and transferred it from her shoulder to 
her arm. " Mr Durant, please, I would rather give it to her. Is it 
"because you think it dishonest you won't let me 1 " 

" Certainly not. The cloak, to begin with, is worth nothing, 
and you can never get it back to its rightful o^vner. It is — Miss 
Wilson, I cannot tell you why you must not do these charitable 
things in London. Pray be guided by me. It would never do 
for you to speak to people of that sort." 

" People of what sort ? " 

He hesitated. "People who go to sleep in the recesses on Lon- 
don Bridge." 

" Miserable people, in short ? " 

" Yes, that is one way of putting it. The woman — well, not to 
sjDeak sentimentally, the woman is most probably ' overtaken ' — 
only you don't know what that is — and will no doubt be in the 
kindly charge of the police before very long." 

" But my speaking to her wouldn't make me be ' overtaken,* " 
persisted Archie ; bringing out this unconscious condensation of all 
Christian charity, -with the quiet pertinacity that was peculiar to 
her. " Come, Mr Durant, you are not very much in earnest about 
it. I can tell by your face you don't mind letting me have my 
o^vn way ! " 

Any persistent human being, right or wrong, could have liis way 
with Gerald ; and Archie in another minute had turned, and was 
bending over the sunken figure in tlie recess. Gerald stood three 
or four yards from her, no nearer. His nature slirank from every- 
thing sick or miserable or repulsive. He Avould give other people, 
who asked it of him, money for such objects, if he happened to 
have money in his pocket. To go near them, to look, voluntarily, 
at ugliness ; to touch a squalid hand ; feel the impure breath of 


lost lips like these, were duties that did not at all lie within tho 
scope of his philosophy. 

j\Iiss Lovell bent over the poor unconscious wretch, and spoke 
to her ; spoke with the honeyed sweetness of true womanly com- 
2:)assion ; and the girl raised her head a little and silently stared at 
her. Her figure was turned away from the pavement, so that 
Gerald could only catch an outline of her face in profile, but Miss 
Lovell could see it full. It was a fine face, she thought ; haggard 
and full of misery, but with a pale pure skin, and handsome, clear- 
cut features. What horrible accident, she marvelled, could have 
brought a girl, scarce older than herself, to be abroad alone at this 
hour, and in such a place ! 

" You must be chill, sitting here. Will you take this cloak, 
please 1 I don't want it — I should be glad for you to take it, dear." 

Still no answer ; only when Archie had put the cloak round her 
shoulders — herself stooping to fasten it — the girl's lips parted, and 
in a strange, hoarse voice, a voice from whence the very ghost of 
youth and womanhood seemed flown, tried to thank her. 

Archie cbew ever so little away at the sound. " Can I do any- 
thing more for you 1 " she said. " You'll be warmer now, I think, 
but I would like to do something more for you before I go." 

But the woman made no answer ; only with a sort of groan 
sank her head down low between her hands : perhaps the two or 
three mechanical syllables she had uttered had exhausted the last 
of human speech, of human consciousness, that was left to her : 
and Archie, with a disappointed conviction that Mr Durant's way 
of viewing the matter had been, at least, a practical one, returned 
to his side. 

She saw to her surprise that there was a troubled, softened ex- 
pression upon his face. *' !Mr Durant, how grave you look," she 
wliispered. " Are you really annoyed mth me still for my ob- 
stinacy 1 I don't think I have done either harm or good. The 
poor creature seems to be beyond feeling want or hunger, or any 
other pain now." 

Instead of rei)lying at once, Gerald stood and contiimed to gaze 
with a sort of fascination at the crouching figure, whose face was 
now entirely hid from him again. He had seen one turn of the 
profile, and Maggie Hall's face in a moment had come before him. 


Maggie ! why the very thought of her being there was monstrous. 
Eohert's wife, wherever she was, must be living at least in common 
comfort ; and this was a miserable outcast of the London streets ! 
He did not walk up to the woman's side, bid her raise her face, 
and so put doubt at an end at once, because want, and disease, and 
squahd vice, were, as you know, intensely repugnant to him ; and 
Gerald Durant never voluntarily made a movement in the direction 
of any distasteful duty. He continued to watch her only ; vaguely 
remembering the fresh-faced girl he used to meet among the lanes 
at Heathcotes ; and a pitying, sentimental regi'et crossed his heart 
as he marvelled how this lost wretch could, in the depths to which 
she had fallen, wear the print of beautj^ like poor Maggie's still ! 
And then — then he did what was much more congenial to him 
than thinking of impleasant subjects, or unhappy people of any 
kind : felt the touch of Archie's hand upon his arm again, and 
turned away with a laugh — a laugh, and one of the childish jests 
they were accustomed to have together, in the direction of the station. 

God knows if the wanderer heard and recognized his voice ! To 
tliis hour Gerald Durant looks back with a feeling of remorse to 
the possibility. JSTot that the responsibility of anything that hap- 
pened that night burthens his conscience. Because he saw, or 
fancied he saw, a chance likeness to Maggie in this stranger's 
face was no reason he shoidd have gone up and spoken to her. He 
made it a rule "never to interfere in any painful circumstances 
whatsoever; and really the whole affair, from first to last, con- 
cerned him not. It is not this. It is the cruelty — let me use the 
right word — it is the ill-breeding of having jested in the hearing 
of a dying woman that haunts him ! 

Just as they were starting on their way again, the city clocks 
struck the quarter past ten ; and Gerald told Miss Lovell that 
they must walk on quick. " We have been trying to say good- 
bye for nine hours ! " he remarked ; " but it is none the less hard 
to say now that the time for parting has come in earnest. In ten 
minutes more I shall be standing alone, looking after the train 
that takes you from me. I deserved nothing better, Archie," he 
added, tenderly. " I don't complain. I'm not selfish enough to 
wish your life to be mixed up, in any way, with such a life as 


At which confession the tears rushed hotly into Miss Lovell's 
eyes, and her hand rested more heavily than it had done before, 
upon his arm. A woman never knows, perhaps, how much she 
might have liked a man, until she hears definitely that he is nobly 
prepared to relinquish her. 

They had not much more opportunity for conversation of any 
kind now. The station was one dense crowd of night-mail pas- 
sengers, porters, and luggage, on their arrival, and Gerald had only 
just time to get Miss Lovell's ticket and hurry her away into the 
train before the second bell rang. 

" You are all right, now," he said, standing upon the step of the 
carriage as he spoke, and holding her hand in his. " You won't 
forget to "write — no, to send the newspaper — telling me that you 
got home safe 1 " 

''And — and, MrDurant," she whispered, "how much money do 
I owe you, please ? Forty-two shillings and a sixpence, is it not ? 
Yes, I am sure it is. I have counted every time you paid any- 
thing for me. I will send it as soon as I know of any one going 
to London." 

"And make me feel you never want to have anything more to 
do mth me," said Gerald. " Wait for all reckoning up of accounts 
until we meet again, Archie, and then, if the balance is in my 
favour, pay me." 

"Till we meet again — " So far she repeated his words : then her 
voice broke down, and Gerald Durant felt the greatest difficulty in 
the world to let her hand go coldly. But the eyes of two grim old 
ladies, the other occupants of the carriage, were upon them, and 
the guard was standing, his key already in the lock of the door, 
and so, perforce, he had to step down on the platform and leave 
her without more demonstration. 

Another hand-pressure, another " Good-bye, Archie," from him. 
A little broAvn face, wet with tears, held out to take a last silent 
look at him as the train moved — 

And then the fairest episode of all Gerald Durant's life was 
over. Archie had left him. 



"play, or take miss?" 

It was eleven o'clock, and the little dinner-party in the Temple 
was going off in the cordial pleasant manner Eobert Dennison 
loved. Loo was being plaj^ed with spirit ; young Sholto Mclvor 
had already lost to a very considerable amount, the other guests 
were still much in the same position as when they started, and the 
host was in better spirits than his friends remembered to have seen 
liim in for months. There were two reasons for his being so ; first, 
a vague sensation, a sensation he would not have cared perhaps to 
define, that he was not going to have very much annoyance with 
regard to Maggie; secondly, the laiowledge that he was in the 
society of four very young men, all able to pay their losings, and 
all ready to play nntil daylight next morning : the kind of men, 
in short, destined by a benign providence to replenish the purses 
of poor clever fellows like himself when they chanced to be empty, 
as was the case with his own at present. 

JS'ow, in saying this, I neither say nor infer that Eobert Den- 
nison ever played unfairly. It was, on the contrary, his habit to 
show a punctilious, occasionally a chivalrous, adherence to every 
written rule of honour in his dealings with his adversaries. The 
way in which he made cards pay was by selecting fools for his 
companions : and the only sleight-of-hand, the only sorcery he 
employed, was that which vrms in many other games as weU as 
the game of loo — ^brains. 

It is a fact not invariably recognized, a fact that if recognized 
might save a good many persons from ruin, that at games of 
chance, as much as at any other human employment, intellect 
carries the day against stupidity ; science against ignorance. And 
I do not here speak of the recognized rules of play which any man 
save a Sholto Mclvor may learn by rote, — I speak simply of the 
power of observation and of memory, wliich in a clever and con- 
stant player become, after due apprenticeship, a species of intuition 
or second-sight. Any man who can remember sequences, who can 

"play, or take miss?" 177 

recollect the juxtaposition of tlie cards lie takes up to shuffle, and 
can guess with tolerable certainty where they are placed after the 
cut, can give an ordinary adversary five points out of twenty, at 
least. Eobert Dennison had a lightning-quick eye, an adroit hand, 
an almost unerring memory, an adamant face, and an admirable 
faculty for reading the faces of other people. Sholto Mclvor and 
lads of his stamp stood about as much chance of winning from 
him, in the long run, as infants of six would have if they played 
with a very knowing old schoolboy of twelve or thirteen for mar- 
bles. And yet such men, when their money was gone, would 
steadfastly assert that luck had been against them, or that their 
heads had been heated by wine while his was cool, et cetera. Xo 
man believed Eobert Dennison to play unfairly, and no man said 
it of him. They only failed to perceive that, while he did not aid 
chance by dishonesty, he governed it — a much more fatal antagon^ 
ism as far as they vvere concerned — by science. 

The party was going off admirably. Clouds of the excellent 
tobacco, for which Dennison was famed, made the room fragrant, 
but not close, for all the windows were wide open, and a freshness 
that scarcely seemed of the city came in across the Temple Gardens 
from the river. Every one was in pleasant temper, and Eobert 
Dennison himself had just been loo'd (for an inconsiderable 
amount) for showing a card, when a loud knock and ring came at 
liis chambers' door. 

Mr Dennison's face changed colour as he got up hastily from the 
table ; a vision rising before him of his wife, no longer gentle but 
desperate, coming in straight among them and denoimcing him 
before his friends. "Excuse me a moment," he said, addressing 
them generally j " we won't be bored by any interruption, and this 
can't be any one I want to see. I'll tell Andrew to say no one is 
here, and — " 

The handle of the door turned, and his cousin Gerald walked 
in. At any other time Dennison would have been intensely an- 
noyed by the interruption ; for no man coming in with a cool im- 
heated brain can be said to be an addition to a party of men 
already excited by wine and play. Eut, in his intense relief at 
not seeing Maggie, he almost felt that he was glad to see any one 
else •' Here in time, old fellow, after all ! " he cried, wringing his 


cousin's liand heartily. " In time for everything hut dinner, that's 
to say. Charteris, Drury, Broughton — you know everyhody here, 
I think?" 

" I don't see them at present," said Gerald. " I daresay I shall 
know them when I do. Hallo, Sholto," he added, as his eyes got 
gradually accustomed to the mingled light and smoke; "you 
here ? " and coming across the room he shook hands and exchanged 
greetings with young Mclvor, mth a warmth not thoroughly 
pleasant to Eobert Dennison to contemplate. 

" If I had thought there was really a chance of your returning," 
he remarked, coming up with a certahi fidgetiness of manner to 
the table, — as Gerald, after shaking hands with the other men, 
continued talking to Sholto — " if I had thought there was a chance 
of your returning, I would have ordered dinner later. As it is — " 

"As it is, he's only in time to be in our way, and do no good to 
himself," interrupted young Sholto. " Come, Durant, and take a 
hand," he added, making room for Gerald at the table. "Take a 
hand, and change the luck. I'm beginning to lose most con- 
foundedly already." 

"J^otforme, thanks," answered Gerald, laconically. "Loo is 
one of the heavy businesses of life, Sholto, and I'm tired to death 
— only came off a steamer an hour ago, as you may perceive. Go 
on with your game as if I was not here, and I'll look on or fall 
asleep, according to my fancy." Saying which he drew a lounging- 
chair from the window, and seated himself, not exactly close to 
Sholto Mclvor, but where he could have an easy view of the lad's 
cards and of his play. 

" And what will you take, Gerald ? " asked Dennison, who had 
been narrowly examining his cousin's face and dress. " Claret, 
hock and seltzer, or what ? Brandy, I should sa}^, would be the 
liquor best suited to your state at present." Taking a decanter 
from the side-board, and standing it on a little table at Gerald's 
side : " Cold water, or seltzer, do you think ? Seltzer is the best 
thing in the world, you know, after sea-sickness. I'm really con- 
cerned to see you lookiug so ill, my poor fellow," he added, with 
the half-pitying, half-chaffing tone in his voice that it generally 
pleased him to adopt when he was speaking to his cousin. " I 
hope sea-sickness alone is the cause of your looking so pale 1 !N"one 

'^PLAY, OR TAKE MISS?'' 179 

of the usual heart-aches, Gerald 1 or, at all events, nothing worse 
than one of the usual ones 1 " 

Instead of answering, Gerald poured out about a third of a 
tumbler of brandy, to which he added a very inconsiderable quan- 
tity of water, and drank it off. 

"A cure for heart-ache!" cried out young Mclvor, with his 
boyish laugh. 

"Sholto, my infant," said Gerald, gravely, "never give opinions 
on the actions of your elders. Confine your attention to whip-top, 
loo, and the things you really understand ; and in everything else 
look at us and learn." 

Sholto took the remark, as he took everything that occurred in 
the world around him, with wide-open eyes, a loud laugh, and a 
total want of understanding. Robert Dennison went back silently 
to his place. " If any one cares to go on, that is to say," he ob- 
served, glancing round the table as he re-seated himself. *' As the 
game is broken up there is not much use, perhaps, in beginning it 
again. Gerald, you prefer conviviality to cards, I know. Shall 
we give up loo for this evening ? I am quite ready, if the rest 
are ; and you shall sing us the ' TTine-Cup ' to cheer our fainting 
spirits for the night." 

' When the wine-cup is sparkling before us,' was the after-din- 
ner song for which Gerald was famous among his friends (as I 
WT?ite I hear his sweet voice lending itself to that brightest of all 
Moore's melodies ! I see his fair boyish face flushing as it used to 
flush when he sang !) : and every man present seconded in earnest 
the proposal that Mr Dennison, who detested singing as much as 
he detested conviviality, had made in banter. 

'' Break up your game or not, Eobert," Gerald answered, quickly ; 
*' but don't ask me to sing. I'm not in a mood for conviviality of 
any sort to-night." 

" Well, if you don't mean to be convivial, I don't see why we 
should break up our game," cried Sholto Mclvor, upon whom the 
first fever of loo was at its height : and some one. else echoing the 
opinion, Mr Dennison, very indifferently it seemed, took up the cards. 

"I forget whose deal it was, and everything," he remarked. 
" Some one had just been loo'd for doing something extraordinarily 
stupid, I believe. "Who was it ? " 

N 2 


After exerting his brain a little, Mr Dennison could be brought 
to recollect that it was himself who had been loo'd for this extra- 
ordinary stupidity ; also that it was now his deal ; and then the 
game went on — Gerald Durant sitting silently smokijig in a posi- 
tion from whence, as I have said, he could see Sholto Mclvor's 
hand and form his own conclusions as to the stylo of game that 
young gentleman played. 

After two or three deals, he saw, as he had expected to see, that 
Sholto played like a baby — the more utterly recklessly the more 
he lost ; also that his money, with some occasional deviations, was 
steadily flowing into Eobert Dennison's hands. And Gerald's 
blood rose at the sight ! 

" I^ot Sholto Mclvor," he had said to Dennison when the finding 
of a man to fill his place had been discussed between them at 
Morteville ; " any one but Sholto." And although Dennison had 
answered, carelessly, that he had no taste for Sholto, " or for any 
children," an uneasy foreboding that poor Sholto would, in the end, 
be asked, had haunted him ever since, and was the cause, mainly, 
of his being in his cousin's chambers now. 
Any one but Sholto ! 

Breaking Quixotic lances on behalf of people unable to defend 
themselves was, ordinarily, not at all one of Gerald Durant's 
foibles. If young persons, in general, chose to ruin themselves 
through cards, or any other short and pleasant j^rocess, why they 
were doing very much as he had done ; and, considering what a 
bore life is on the whole, who should say they were not gainers 
by getting a year or so of real amusement before they came to 
grief? But as regarded Sholto, his usual easy philosophy shifted 
singularly. Incapable though Gerald Durant was of very exalted 
or passionate love, he was capable, on rare occasion, of very true 
and very strong friendship : a feeling more common, perhaps, than 
love among all men of his class. "Wlien he left Eton, Fergus 
Mclvor, Sholto' s elder brother, left it A^nth him. They got their 
commissions in the Guards in the same week, started their new 
bright life as emancipated schoolboys— fledgling Guardsmen — to- 
gether, and loved each other unlike the way most brothers love. 

The taint of gambling ran through every member of the Mclvor 
family. In Fergus the hereditary latent germ developed itself into 

"play, or take miss?" 181 

active disease. At the end of four years he had run through every 
shilHng of liis patrimony, and had put his hand to bills for some 
thousands which he knew right well it would never be possible for 
him to meet ; was ruined, in short, irretrievably. Then he shot 
himself. About an hour before his death he was with Gerald, and 
took leave of him, telling him he was going abroad. " And take 
care of Sholto," he added, his hand clasped in his friend's ; " and, 
if you can, see that the boy doesn't make such a mull of it all as I 

Sholto had then newly joined the regiment, and from that time 
till the present, more than a year a.nd a half, Gerald had watched 
him faithfidly. The lad's fortune was a limited one, with no 
fature prospect of increase, and, unfortunately, was in his own 
possession now. There was thus every likelihood of his running 
the same course as his brother, only perhaps a somewhat shorter 
one, inasmuch as he possessed a smaller amount of money to get 
rid of. But Gerald was the most unwearying, the most vigilant 
of mentors. Sholto was the one sole charge of his life, he was 
accustomed to say, and into that charge he threw all the weight o£' 
energy that would have been frittered away into nothing if he had 
fulfilled the ordinary duties of a citizen. And, jesting apart, it 
was really no slight responsibility this watching of a baby guards- 
man of twenty-one. With a heart as open as his blue eyes, a 
temper impossible to ruffle, and a character for truthfulness not 
always found iu very simple people, Sholto was yet one of the 
most difficult human creatures conceivable to manage. "Whatever 
his mentor in plain language told liim, he would believe and act 
upon : when it was requisite to get him through any delicate or 
complex position, hints, susjDicions, innuendoes, were as much thrown 
away upon poor Sholto, as a blow from a lady's gloved hand would 
be upon a very boisterous, very stupid JN'ewfoundland puppy. 

If Gerald, before he left town, had said to him, " My cousin, 
Robert Dennison, is not a safe man to play at cards with ; don't 
go if he asks you," Sholto would have obeyed unquestioningly, and 
probably would have imparted his own suspicions of Dennison'a 
honour to five or six intimate friends the next time he had taken 
a point more of wiae than was good for him. What Gerald had 
said was : '^ Don't lose your money faster than you can help while 


I am gone, Sholto j and, whatever you do, don't play at loo. 
IVe seen a good deal of it — at Dennison's chiefly — and it isn't a 
mnning game for youngsters, take my word for it." And this 
warning being much too delicately worded to sink into poor 
Sholto's brain, he had accepted the first invitation given him by Mr 
Dennison, and was now playing loo in as "pleasant" a spirit as 
any man could possibly show under the circumstances. 

And Gerald's blood rose at the sight ! 

Eobert Dennison had made a good thing often before out of 
men to whom he had himself introduced him, as he had done to 
Sholto. But those for the most part were Philistines, caKco young 
men, or usurers' sons, or something of that kind — the people one 
meets among the Guards now ; and Gerald could never divest his 
mind of the idea that their spoliation to a certain extent was 
rightful. But with Sholto Mclvor it was far otherwise. Sholto 
was the son of a poor Scottish widow — the brother of his own 
dead friend ! And sitting there, watching the lad's flushed face as 
he pushed one " I.O.U." after another across the table to Dennison, 
Gerald Durant resolved within himself that the little game should 

He was loth exceedingly to risk a quarrel with Dennison — the 
more so at this time, when he believed liim to be in trouble about 
that secret maniage of his ; but he would rather have made 
Dennison his enemy for life than have quietly watched Fergus 
Mclvor's brother losing money that he could in no legitimate 
manner pay. And he did it. 

Sholto was seated on his host's left hand, and the deal was at 
the present moment again with Dennison ; Sholto, consequently, 
was eldest hand. He had lost with little variation during the hour 
or so that Gerald had watched the game ; and a quiver of irre- 
pressible excitement was on his lips as Dennison finished dealing 
and looked at him. There was a very heavy loo in the pool, an 
amount which, if he won it, would go a good way towards pulling 
him round again, and if he lost it — ^but the young simpleton did 
not ask himself what the consequences would be of that. 

" Well, Mclvor, what do you do ? " said Dennison, holding 
*' miss " out carelessly, and with liis usual half-smile at the corners 
of his mouth, but with no smile in his eyes. J* Play, or take miss ] " 

"play, or take MISS?^' 183 

]N"ow in using these four words tliere is, as everybody knows, 
not the faintest deviation from fair dealing ; " play, or take miss? " 
being as much a formula at loo as "cards" or "how manyl" at 
ecarte. But in the tone in which Eobert Dennison uttered them 
to this boy there was, and Gerald felt there was, a tangible, an in- 
finite unfairness. The science of loo more than of any other game 
resides in caution. Only in the brightest vein of luck, and scarcely 
then, would a good player take "miss " with four undeclared hands 
against him. And Sholto scarcely knew the rules of the game ! 
And the tone of Dennison's voice conveyed to his weak brain that 
one of these two courses was incumbent upon him : that the pos- 
sible alternative of throwing up his hand and risking nothing did 
not exist ! 

He seized his cards up tremblingly, and Gerald pushed his chair 
an inch or so nearer to see them clearly. Ten of trumps ; knave 
of clubs j two of clubs : not cards to keep if they had been playing 
for halfpence. Sholto's lips quivered more and more, as he looked 
hesitatingly at Dennison's face, and he half moved his hand out 
across the table. 

" Play, or take miss ? " repeated Mr Dennison, suavely. " 'Now, 
Mclvor, which is it ? " 

" PFliat is it, you mean," remarked Gerald, speaking for the first 
time since he had been watching them, and in a slow, distinct 
manner, impossible to misconstrue : " ' which ' implies a choice 
between playing or taking miss only. Mclvor need do neither." 

A dead silence on the remark ; then Robert Dennison spoke in 
an unruffled voice, and with perfect courtesy of manner : — 

"What do you do, Mclvor, as my cousin insists upon such ac- 
curate gTammar ? Do you take miss or not 1 " 

"N"o," said poor Sholto, throwing up his cards desperately, "I 
don't. I don't play." 

Neither did the next man, nor the next : sudden caution seemed 
to have gro^\^l contagious : the last player, Broughton, took " miss," 
and finding that it contained king of trimips, and ace, queen of 
spades, felt extremely cheerful for a minute, towards Gerald. 

For a minute : then, knowing that the dealer was but defending 
the pool, and flushed by the excellence of his hand, he played, as 
young players will; for every trick instead of insuring one, and put 


down his king of trumps. Eobert Dennison took up his cards and 
cahnly produced the ace ; then the two and three of hearts, and 
Mr Broughton was loo'd to the amount of tlu-ee hundred and seventy 
odd pounds. 

Up to the present moment the pleasant temper Mr Dennison 
loved had prevailed ; but now vdih an oath Broughton struck his 
hand down on the table. Such luck, he cried, as his was never 
seen before ! king of trumps, ace, queen of spades, and to be loo'd 
by such beggarly cards as those ! 

" If you had played a spade you would have made two tricks," 
remarked Dennison, quietly. "You had a magnificent playing 

"Yes," returned the other, "that's all very well now you see 
the cards, but what man living would not have played as I did 1 
You Charteris, you Durant," appealing excitedly round the table, 
" what would you have done 1 " 

Thereupon arose a Babel of opinions : every man stating what 
lie considered to be right, and the majority siding vdth Broughton 
as to the correctness of his play. 

" And you, Mclvor," said Dennison, turning to Sholto. " What 
is your opinion about it 1 " 

Sholto was sitting silent, his eyes and mouth wide open, gazing 
at the cards upon the table. A fresh world had suddenly opened 
before the young man's intelligence. Here in plain fact was 
demonstrated to him that which Gerald had so often and so vainly 
striven to prove, namely, that luck is not ever}i;hing at loo ; tliat 
a man with a hand like Broughton's may lose every trick by play- 
ing the card which four men out of five called it right to play ! I 
say a fresh world had suddenly opened before Sholto's sight ; and, 
under the embarrassing influence of something like an idea of his 
OAvn, utterance, for about the sole time in his life, failed him. 

"What do you think, Mclvor?" repeated Dennison. "Let us 
have all your opinions as to which is the right play." 

And then the first wise speech Sholto Mclvor had ever yet 
made left his lips. "I don't know, Dennison. I know nothing 
at all about it ! " windmg up after a minute of profoimd thought, 
"but I see there's a great deal more play and — and that — than I 
ever knew of before in loo." 

" PLAY^ OR TAKE MISS ? " 185 

After wliich he rose from the table, feeling his body no doubt 
exhausted by this unwonted pressiu'e of intellect, and going to the 
sideboard helped himself to brandy and soda and a fresh cigar. 

'^And your deal," ciied Dennison, cheerfidly. "When you're 
ready ; we're waiting for you, Mclvor," 

"1^0, thanks," said Sholto, "I've done; I've lost as much as is 
good for me. I shan't play any more — that is to say — " but here 
he looked at Gerald's face, and reading approbation of his words, 
gi'ew bolder again. "I'm on duty to-morrow, you see, Demiison, 
and it's late already. I must ask you to excuse me this time ; 
and — I've lost as much as is good for me." 

" As you like, as you like," said Dennison, indifferently ; " don't 
play a minute longer than you choose. Our game does not break 
up, of course 1 " addressing the other men. " Four is as good a 
number as five any day." 

Broughton was sitting, his face as white as a sheet, thinking of 
what he had lost. He was quite a yoimg fellow, hardly older than 
Mclvor, a clerk in the Treasiu*y, with a salary of one hundred and 
fifty pounds a year, and an allowance of about as much more from 
his father, an old general ofiicer, living at Exeter with five un- 
married daughters, and with neither means nor inclination to help 
his sons out of their gambling debts. 

" If you'll excuse me, Dennison, I believe I ought to follow 
Mclvor's example. As it is," he leaned across and whispered into 
Dennison' s ear, " I must ask you to take a bill. That last loo 
was a heavy one, and just at present — " 

"To be sure, to be sure, my dear fellow," interi'upted Denni- 
son ; " 3'ou need not speak of it. Manage it just as it suits you 
best. But of course we do not leave off" plapng," he added, aloud. 
" Xothing I dislike so much as leaving off a winner in my own 
house, and the luck never goes long in one direction at loo." 

The two men who had as yet neither won nor lost to any great 
extent were ready to go on ; and young Broughton, desperately 
recollecting that he had no more means of paying three hundred 
pounds than seven, and that the present, at all events, was the 
worst possible time for him to leave off, said : " Yes, let the game 
go on." And so it was decided. 

"And we may as well be off, Sholto," said Gerald, "if you have 


decided to go. The same cab can take us both to Clarges 

" Like two good little boys, told to be back in proper time," 
added Dennison, looking into Grerald's face for the first time since 
that interruption of his with regard to grammar. " How delight- 
ful it is, Gerald, to see you in your new character of Mentor ! 
The moral and mental guide of youth ; it suits you so exactly ! " 

There was a marked emphasis on the word " mental," but Gerald 
kept his temper admhably. 

"A case of the blind leading the blind, certainly," he an- 
swered ; " but 'tis the way of human nature. There was a time 
when you tried to put me through moral training once, Eobert." 

"Long ago, I am sure!" retorted Dennison. "Yours are all 
very safe kind of sins, Gerald. I^ot sins to alarm the most scru- 
pulous cousin or maiden aunt living ! " 

"They are not the errors of burning my fingers with things 
I know nothing about," said Gerald, calmly. " That is the in- 
discretion from which I try to keep Sholto, poor infant ! when 
I can." 

Every man at once exchanged a half-look with his neighbour, 
and Eobert Dennison saw it, and the evil red glow came into his 
dark eyes. 

"Burning your fingers, eh, Gerald! "Well, that's a figure of 
speech, you see, and I am too common-place to follow you high- 
flown, sentimental people. If you had said getting your coat torn 
to pieces, and running about, minus a hat, at midnight, I might 
have understood you better." 

The altercation had now taken a practical turn, which placed it 
Avithin the grasp -of Sholto Mclvor's intellect. 

" Your coat torn, Durant 1 By George, so it is ! " he exclaimed ; 
" and your hat gone, eh 1 or did you leave it outside ? " 

" i^o," answered Gerald, quietly still ; " I came here mthout it. 
I lost my hat on London Bridge, where I also had my coat torn in 
a row. Does any man want to ask me any more questions ] " 

" Well," said Dennison, with a sneer, " it woidd be too much, 
I suppose, to inquire who your companion was while these re- 
markable events transpired? " 

Gerald remained silent, but his temper was rising fast, and he 

"play, or take miss?" 187 

looked steadily, and with a singularly set expression, into his 
cousin's face. 

"Not Miss — Miss — what was it?" went on Dennison. *'The 
little red-headed woman you and your friend "Waters were running 
about after at Morteville 1 Wilton — ^Willis — what was it "? " 

Gerald Durant had taken a cigar from his case while Dennison 
was speaking; he bit the end off with mathematical exactness, 
and lighted it ; took two or three calmly critical inhalations as if 
to test the flavour, then he spoke. For a minute the angry blood 
had dyed liis fair face scarlet : he was pale now, and his words 
came from him slow and distinct, as the manner of some men is 
when they are under the influence of passion. 

*' I don't think you know any ladies of my acquaintance well 
enough to be familiar with their names, Eobert, so no wonder you 
are rather inaccurate at times. What friend of yours — a lady, too 
— do you suppose I saw, or fancied I saw, upon London Bridge 

"Oh, I — I have nothing to do with ladies," exclaimed Denni- 
son, shuffling about the cards, and for an iustant horribly discon- 
certed by this unexpected blow. " I've nothing to do with run- 
ning after young ladies. I leave that to men like you — and 
Waters ! " 

" Well, the face I saw was a Staffordshire face," said Gerald. 
"A Staffordshire face (very wan and white now) that you and I 
knew well, or one so like it as to be its ghost, crouching away from 
men's eyes in a recess on London Bridge. Of course it couldn't 
be the one we knew, Eobert ; it could be nothing but a chance 
resemblance ; but for a moment the sight of that face sickened me, 
I can assure you." 

" A — a Staffordshire face ! " said Eobert, keeping his own with 
marvellous self-command : but the cards dropped from his hands. 
"I don't know what you are talking of." 

"All right," returned Gerald, coldly. "Perhaps when you 
think matters over, you may chance to light upon some clue to the 
enigma. Good-night , Drury ; good-night, Charteris — Broughton. 
JSTow, Sholto, are you ready? " 

And, without stopping to shake hands with any one, Gerald 
Durant walked away out of the room, followed by Sholto, who was 


dijiily conscious that he had been the cause of something disagree- 
ahle, and was vacillating within himself as to whether he ought to 
offer apologies to his host or demand them. 

It Avas the last time but one that Gerald Durant ever crossed 
his cousin's threshold. 

During all the remainder of that night, from the first deal after 
the departure of Gerald and Sholto until they left off with the 
bright summer morning shining in upon them, the cards went 
steadily against Eobert Dennison. He was not a loser on the 
whole ; twenty or thii'ty pounds of his winnings still remained to 
him. But twenty or thirty pounds, after sitting up all night with 
men like these, was not the kind of sum Mr Dennison proposed 
winning : and long after his guests were gone, he stood, with 
folded arms, beside his ojDen window, gazing out into the Temple 
Gardens, and moodily thinking over all that the last twelve hours 
had brought to him : his wife's visit ; Gerald's inopportune return 
and altered manner ; young Sholto Mclvor's abrupt departure ; 
his own failing luck. 

He had not a grain of su^^erstition in his nature. iN'o belief did 
he hold save in himself: liis own quick brain, his own strong 
arm. Life to him was like loo ; a game to be turned aside, cer- 
tainly, by the temporary accumulation of accidents men call luck, 
but in which perseverance and ability must, in the long run, win 
perforce. So now, no foreboding of the spirit, no sinking of the 
heart, overcame him. He simply thought. Sholto Mclvor — he 
dismissed the least important subject first — was lost : but other 
Sholto Mclvors might easily be found. Gerald, he could see, would 
never be present at another card party in his house. Well, 
Gerald, in his time, had bled pretty freely, and had introduced 
him to a great many good things in Guardsmen, and the like. 
You can expect no mine to last for ever : Gerald, as regarded 
cards, had been worked well. I^Tow came the thought of Maggie, 
and of those words of his cousin's that fitted in with such dread 
significance concerning her. Eobert Dennison thought of her as 
he saw her last night: the marble lips laid down to press his 
pillow ; the cold hands clinging round his neck ; the good-bye of 
the clammy lips ; the half-threats that she was going where she 
would trouble him no more ! All these he accurately remembered : 

"play, or take miss?" 189 

and then, in weird juxtaposition, Grerald Durant's words sounded 
in his ears. A wan woman's face — a Staffordshire face they both 
knew well, crouching in one of the recesses of London Bridge. 
They had been intended, possibly, as an idle taunt : might they 
not, in reality, prove to be the first whisper of an awful truth ? — 
the first news of a burthen taken away from him? — darkly, 
horribly taken away : but taken ! 

Every appliance of bachelor comfort was to be found in Eobert 
Demiison's rooms : an admirable apparatus for making coffee 
among them of course. It stood ready on the sideboard now : the 
coffee and water measured ready for the one inordinately-strong 
cup that it was Mr Demiison's habit to take at hours like these. 

He was a man who habitually, and on principle, did with little 
sleep — the spending of needless hours in inanition seeming a 
stupidity to him; and, after sitting up at cards all night, was 
accustomed to take a cup of strong coffee, then get out his books 
and papers and work, instead of going to bed, when daylight 

He was not fit for work on this particular morning ; but he was 
less fit still for sleep. So he made his coffee, took out his narghili 
and tobacco — more excellent even than he gave his friends — and 
exchanged his evening attire for a dressing-gown and slippers. 
Then he drew his most luxurious arm-chair beside the window ; 
put his feet up on another ; and vdth the fragrant coffee and his 
tobacco-pouch on the table by his side, set himself to think again. 

The morning sun shone in upon him thus : shone red on his 
pale, keen, untired face ; on his white, ringed hand, as it rested on 
his cashmere dressing-gown ; on his embroidered velvet slippers 
(Maggie's work) ; on the debris of cards and expensive wines 
still standing on the table. Shone red, too, on the river — afresh 
and transparent as even the London Thames can look in the light 
of an August morning like this. 

It was low tide now j and numbers of men and boys — dredger- 
men, rat-catchers, sewer-gropers, and the like human creatures that 
extract a living, God kno^vs how ! out of the mud and refuse of 
the river — were already at their work, Eobert Dennison noticed. 
He watched them and thought of what their work was : thought 
how secrets of shame, and sin, and despair must come to light 


occasionally in these early summer mornings ! How, at tliis very 
hour, the red sun might be resting on some ghastly burden of the 
river — ^here, close at hand among the London shipping, or far 
away among the silent marshes ; in the pleasant freshness of the 
country, with the birds singing, and the sedges waving on the 

Mr Dennison did not philosophize ; he did not sentimentalize ; 
neither did he regret or feel afraid in aught. He thought as a 
lawj^er thinks over the bare facts that were in his possession ; and 
the few speculations he entered upon were wholly practical ones. 
If anything had happened (I write with more circumlocution than 
he thought) it would most likely be made known first in the even- 
ing papers. And they were published at four — more than ten 
hours, that is to say, from the present time. 

He was not sentimental ; he was not cowardly ; and as to con- 
science — well, conscience he viewed in the light of a custom or 
superstition, which, varying in detail among different nations, is 
mainly of use in subordinating weak men to strong ones. 

But in spite of this, in spite of all his callousness and all his 
scepticism, Eobert Dennison shuddered as he pictured to himself 
how this intervening time, the eternity of these next ten hours, 
would pass ! 



As soon as the train was fairly in motion, and Gerald Durant 
irrevocably parted from her, Miss Lovell burst into tears. No 
woman looks beautiful wdien she cries, but Archie's face was so 
soft and dimpled and childish, that she did not look very ugly, 
even with a red nose ; and the two old maiden ladies, who were 
sitting at the other end of the carriage, regarded her kindly in her 
grief, and made up their minds that she was a school-girl, weeping 
innocently at parting from her brother after the holidays. What 


would they have felt — how would they have looked — could they 
have known the atrocious truth? "What anathemas would not 
their hearts have fulminated, could they have guessed that this 
fair-seeming, baby-faced young person had been running away from 
home, and that the man to whose hand she clung so tenderly at 
23arting was a stranger? Happily, we none of us walk tlirough 
the world with the story of our iniquities written upon our fore- 
heads. Archie cried and rubbed her eyes till they were scarlet ; 
then choked back her tears j then found that they would burst 
forth again, with a sob instead of silently ; and the two old ladies 
looked at her with ever-increasing pity, and even exchanged 
speculations as to whether or not the girl was too old to have 
peppermint lozenges offered as an alleviation of her sorrow. 

As long as they were surrounded by dingy London suburbs, 
Archie's eyes continued blind j but by the time the train reached 
Croydon she began to feel better; and then, remembering that 
there was no use in crying any longer, she wiped away the last 
tears resolutely from her eyes, and leaned her flushed face out in 
the fresh, cool country air. It was a brilliant night ; one of those 
rare nights which, four or five times a year, bathe our English 
harvest-fields in light as lustrous as ever quivers upon the shores 
of the Adriatic. The air was so transparent that every object, for 
miles and miles around, could be seen distinctly in the ebon and 
silver pencilling of moonlight : the sky was as wonderful a blue as 
Arcliie had ever seen in Italy. Italy ! the country about Croydon, 
in no wise, save in its flatness, resembles the Campagna ; but just 
at that moment, — evoked by I know not what subtle train of 
associations — Eome, and the Eoman days of long ago, flashed 
suddenly before the girl's vision. She was a little child again, 
walking home from the Prostestant burial-ground, her hand in her 
father's, through the ghostly Eoman streets at night— often stop- 
ping as they walked for him to note some new effect of light or 
shade, or to polish aloud some grandiloquent lay of ancient Eome 
— ^never destined, ala^, to eclipse Macaulay's ! Then, even as she 
strove to recall its details more clearly, this picture faded and 
changed into another ; of a summer night in Genoa, and she was 
in the gaiUen of the Acqua Sola, looking across the sleeping city 
to where one glorious planet cast a broad white track upon the 


tirleless waters of the bay. This time it was not ter father's hand 
she held. Her father was sitting apart from her, not speaking, 
she and Bettina and a third person, an Englishman, 'svere together. 
Then she grew sleepy, she remembered, in the warm lemon-scented 
air, and her head sank down upon the Enghshman's shoulder, and 
when she opened her eyes again, she found herself in his strong 
arms, being borne slowly away, in a delicious half-dream, through 
starlit thickets of oleander and vine to the "vdlla Andreo, outside 
the city walls, where her father lived. The villa Andreo — as clear 
as if she had left it yesterday, the familiar old place, half palace, 
half farmhouse, seemed to rise before her in the moonlight. The 
mildewed inlaid stairs, the echoing rooms, where firewood was 
piled against the frescoed walls, and Indian corn was laid out to 
dry on marble floors, the broken fountain, the garden choked with 
weeds and red vnth roses, where she and Tino played ! Vividly, 
with a mysterious sense of its being bound up mth something she 
had done or seen to-day, Archie recalled it all : then, with a start, 
and a quick glance at her companions, to see if they were watching 
her face, her thoughts came suddenly back to the present, and all 
the adventures — adventures with no delightful gloss of excitement 
on them now — that lay before her. The crossing alone at night ; 
the landing at Morteville ; the chance of being seen by early 
loiterers on the pier ; the return home, last, but by no means least, 
the suspicions and inquiries that, as a natural consequence, must 
follow when the dilapidated condition of Mrs Lovell's best parasol 
should be discovered. She never for one moment .meant to hide 
from her father and Bettina the history of her journey ; but to 
confess that she had, of malice aforethought, taken the French 
grey parasol — the lovely gift of Madame Bonnechose — with her, 
was, she felt, virtue superhuman, virtue beyond her strength. To 
have run away to London with Mr Durant seemed light compared 
with such guilt ! and through many a long mile of her moonlit 
journey, Miss Lo veil's face was set and overcast as she pondered 
over the possibility of cleaning silk with ecm de henzine ; of 
wrapping up the silver papers fold by fold, as Bettina Avrapped 
them; finally, of bearing with cold unmoved face the horrible 
esclandre that must one day descend upon the household when 
this, her secret sin, should be dragged to light ! 


, Her knowledge of the world may be more justly estimated by 
tliinking of her thus, perhaps, than by any long description of her 
ignorance. Pondering over the soiled parasol when all the best 
part of her life, her childhood, her girlhood, her crown of fresh and 
pnre repute had been tarnished — put away from her for ever by 
the mad escapade of the last ten hours ! 

The train stopped at Ashford for five minutes, and several of the 
passengers, with the usual restlessness of Englishmen, got out and 
paced up and down the platform. Archie put her head through 
the window — all traces of tears passed away — to look about her ; 
and was much struck by the tempting aspect of the fruit on a re- 
freshment stall nearly opposite her carriage. Great ripe plums — 
and she adored plums — apricots, rosy and golden, and other minor 
temptations. Would there be time before the train started for her 
to buy some 1 She put the question to her fellow-passengers and 
they answered yes ; whereupon Miss Lovell got the door opened 
by the guard and ran across to make her purchases. A dozen 
plums ? yes, for she must gi^^e some to the old ladies : and 
cherries 1 yes : and six apricots 1 and how much to pay i — gather- 
ing the fruit in her scarf, and already biting deep with her little 
white teeth into an apricot — how much to pay 1 

"■ Twelve plums, two shillings ; six apricots, one shilling and 
sixpence ; cherries, sixpence — four shillings altogether." 

Four shillings : five francs : for about as much fruit as she could 
have bought in Morteville for twenty sous ! Archie's face turned 
burning hot with shame. ^' I have bought more than I can pay 
for," she cried aloud, in Italian — a sure index, always, to the in- 
tensity of her emotions — and pulled out her poor little purse nerv- 
ously. The coins it contained were two francs and a half; for 
Gerald had bought her through ticket to IMorteville, and she had 
steadfastly refused to borrow more of him. These she tendered ; 
and these the refreshment woman, after scornfully subjecting them 
to the light, returned. She never took foreign money of any kind. 

" Now, gentlemen, take your places ! " cried the guard's voice at 
this moment ; and Archie's agony of mind reached its culminating 
point. She had four shillings' worth of fruit in her scarf, and had 
eaten one apricot, she had no available money, a stern English 
woman looking implacably impertinent in her face, and the train 



was just about to start without her. Her heart had not heat with 
pain so intense at the moment when she had found herself going 
away from Morteville -with Gerald. She had a companion, a pro- 
tector, with her then. She stood alone at midnight, a miserable 
detected impostor in a foreign country, and among hard foreign 
faces, now. 

" Take your places, gentlemen," reiterated the guard's voice im- 

Archie turned her face round in despair, and the man in the 
grey overcoat — the man who had brushed by her as she stood vnth. 
G-erald outside the station in London — was at her side. 

"The lady has no English money," he said, quite quietly, and 
as if it was the most natural commonplace thing that he should 
interfere. How much do you want? four shillings." And in a 
minute, before Archie could think sujGficiently to say yes or no, the 
money was paid ; and then, half through the agency of the guard, 
half through that of the man who had befriended her, she found 
herself in her place, the train once more in motion, and the two old 
ladies, her fellow-passengers, staring stonily at her and at the four 
shillings' worth of fruit that she was holding in her scarf 

She offered them each an apricot, the most odorous and ripe she 
could select, but they declined "udth pinched shakes of the head, 
with acid pursed-up lips. They had watched the whole scene at 
the refreshment stall ; and had formed dark conclusions primaiily 
from the young woman's want of money (that safest gi'ound where- 
upon human beings may always found their belief in each other's 
worth) ; and secondly, from her allowing a stranger of the opposite 
sex to pay for her. Were they to condone such impropriety by 
partaking of these fruits ? 

A blank sensation fell on the child's heart at their rejection of 
her. "The people in England are Philistines, all of them," sbe 
thought bitterly. " First, all those men who stared at me in the 
London station, and now these cruel-eyed women refusing my fruit 
because I have not been introduced to them, or some such rubbish. 
I hate England — except when I am with Gerald ! I hate all the 
people who live in it. Oh, the happiness of being in the Morte- 
ville steamer, and knowing that I'm going back to papa, and that 
I have done with England and the English for ever ! " 


Aiid then, thongli she was in reality all but crying, Miss 
LoTcll began to sing aloud : French songs, Italian songs, anything 
that came into her head ; and she ate more fruit than was good 
for her, throwing the stones away with reckless rapidity through 
the window : then she put her feet up on the opposite seat, leaned 
back her head, and looked at her fellow-travellers with something 
of the expression she had been wont to assume towards Mesdames 
O'Eourke and Maloney at home. 

The instincts of Bohemianism were deep-rooted, almost like re- 
ligious convictions, in Archie's heart. Ever since she could think 
at all she had had a vague sense that respectability, Phihstines, 
"grocers," and her father, were on opposite sides; consequently, 
that it was for her to do battle with respectability. Chemists tell 
us that between the basest substances and the most refined odours 
exist relationships near and subtle almost beyond their powers of 
analyzation. With slight transmutation the vile-smelling potato- 
spirit becomes possessed of delicious pine-apple fragrance; the 
horrible oil of gas tar is changed into the delicious " Essence de 
Mirbane," Is it only so in the material world that we can grossly 
test? Are not the moral, like the physical forces, so finely, so 
mysteriously poised, that circumstance alone can decide whether 
their affinity be for things good or evil, for pestilence and death, or 
for exquisite aroma and freshness? It was so at all events in 
Arcliie's case at this immature period of her life. Side by side 
with the germ of everything best and noblest — with hatred of 
shams, love of freedom, courage to uphold the principles or person 
she loved against the world — were the germs of obstinate rebel- 
lion, the possibility of utter alienation from right in the poor little 
girl's heart. 

" Capable of anything, in short ! " the two old ladies whispered 
to each other, as a final verdict upon her when the train was slack- 
ening speed outside Folkestone ; and they were not far from the 
truth. Arcliie Lovell was capable of anything : if she had possessed 
a cigarette would at that moment have smoked it under their 
noses, regardless of them, and of the guard, and of the railway 
regulations alike. Capable of anj^hing ! It was for the future to 
decide what direction the good and the evil of her nature should 
take. As she sat now, with flushed face and careless attitude, and 


defiant parted lijDS, slio^nng licr wliite teeth as slie sang, I believe 
a great many persons of her own sex would have joined with the 
two old female Philistines in labelling her " Dangerous." 

The crimson sunrise shone ujDon the amphitheatre of hills around 
Morteville when tlie mail packet arrived there, and early as it was 
the whole French population of the place seemed already astir ; 
bouquet-sellers, slmmj)-sellers, water-carriers, and not a few of the 
great Parisian ladies, going do"vvn in wonderful amphibious cos- 
tumes to bathe. Miss Lovell cared for none of these j)eople. AThat 
she mortally feared was being seen by any of her own countr}-- 
women on her road home. The story of her flight must, she 
thought, be written — so plainly that an Englishwoman who ran 
might read it — upon her tumbled white dress, her grand parasol 
at this unearthly hour of the morning, her dishevelled hair, her 
wearied, travel-worn face ! JSTo Enghsh person, however, did she 
meet save Captain Waters, tliirty or forty yards away from the 
end of the pier, and quite too far off, she fervently hoped, to have 
noticed her among the other passengers landing from the mail 
boat. Waters touched his hat as usual wdien they passed, giving 
her dress and herself no more apparent attention than if she had 
been walking with her father at noonday, and with a lightened 
heart, her first terrible fear of being seen over, Miss Lovell ran 
lightly on towards the Eue d'Artois. The porte-cochere of the 
house was already open, the portress not to be seen, the shutters 
of old Mrs INIaloney's lodgings opposite were closed : ever5'i:hing 
was in her favoui*. With a cj^uick and noiseless hand Archie un- 
locked and reclosed the outer door of their apartment, and in an- 
other minute, after stealing breathless and on tip-toe along the 
silent corridor, found herself once more safe in the little salon : her 
secret, thus far at all events, still in her own keeping. 

The chair was standing where she had left it when she fastened 
the rose into her waist-belt yesterday ; and mechanically Archie 
crossed the room and took her place before the glass. When she 
saw her o^ra disordered image looking at her, a shocked, ashamed 
feeling made the blood rush up into her face. >She felt as though 
months, years, rather than hours, must have passed by since she 
stood there last ; smiling and neat and fresh, and saying to herself 


wliat a pretty girl she was ! She was no longer neat and fresli. 
Her face was tired and jaded, her hat was battered, her muslin 
scarf and di-ess bore the unmistakable crush and soil of steamers 
and London smoke and London pavements. AYas the fresliness 
gone from more than scarf and cbess 1 Had that "^^old escapade, 
those long hours alone mth Gerald Durant, taken the first ineffable 
bloom away from a heart that was a child's yesterday 1 Archie did 
not ask herself (no really innocent people ever enter upon specula- 
tions as to their own innocence) ; but she did wonder whether it 
would be possible for her to look so changed and old and for all 
the world not to find out her secret from her face 1 For Bettina 
and her father she cared little : the bare thought that Jeanneton, 
or the milkwoman, or the porter's 's^dfe, might suspect her of aught 
amiss, made her blood run hot and cold by turns : and recollecting 
that it was now broad day, and time for all the household to he 
astir, she ran to her own room to change her dress, and bathe 
some coloiu' back to her tii-ed face. 

The porter's wife was the first person whom she saw. Madame 
Brun, a fat good-humoured old woman of fifty, the typical French 
portress, rang the bell of the rez de chaussee between seven and 
eight, and was quickly answered by mademoiselle in person ; made- 
moiselle in her neat morning frock as usual, her face fresh and 
smiling, her wet hair hanging round her shoulders, a paint-brush 
and palette — Archie's first hypocrisy — in her hand ; and immedi- 
ately, ^\dth the unfailing readiness of her class and nation, Madame 
Brun took all further trouble in story-telling off Archie's hands. 
She had taken in mademoiselle's milk herself : was mademoiselle 
to be roused from her bed at six because Jeanneton, lazy good-for- 
nothing, chose to go hoHday-making and leaving the poor little 
mademoiselle alone? She, Madame Brun, would have come in 
and offered her services yesterday, but just after she heard made- 
moiselle return in the afternoon — six o'clock it was, for she hap- 
pened to remark the town clock strike at the time — some p»eople 
came to look at the apartments on the fourth, and after that 
et cetera, et cetera. And when Jeanneton came back it was the 
same scene re-enacted. The women knew they had neglected the 
girl in her parents' absence ; and in their anxiety to screen them- 
selves screened her. Madame Brim had heard mademoiselle enter 


the house yesterday at six by the town clock ; Jeanneton was de- 
lighted to find from the state of the larder that mademoiselle had 
eaten well while she was alone. And mademoiselle's painting ! 
Great heavens, how it had progressed since yesterday ! How 
mademoiselle must have worked ! There was the cock on the top 
of St Etienne's spire, and two ladies going in at the door to the 
ofifices, as natural as life. 

And so when Mr and Mrs LoveU returned, such a Bahel of 
falsehood greeted them before they crossed their threshold, as 
made Archie's part for the present an easy one to play. All that 
mademoiselle had felt, and thought, and eaten, and drunk — every 
unnecessary and circumstantial falsehood that could enter even into 
the heart of a French servant to conceive — did Jeanneton unhesi- 
tatingly tell. How mademoiselle had been a little lonely at first, but 
cheered up towards evening, and made an excellent supper (off the 
beautiful cold fiUet, madame knew), and how they had gone to 
bed early to make the day seem shorter, and this morning made- 
moiselle rose with the sun and had been painting — but painting, 
so that monsieur would scarcely recognize her picture. All of 
which Archie, in inward hot indignation, had to condone, perforce, 
by her silence. It was the first time in her life that she had told 
her father a falsehood; and coming from Jeanneton's lips the 
falsehood seemed to lower her more in her own sight than it would 
have done had she told it boldly herself. She was too thoroughly 
honest, poor little sturdy Bohemian, to employ moral casuistry of 
any kind on behalf of her own conscience. A falsehood was a 
falsehood, and to act one was to tell one. Had she not spoken 
well when she told Gerald Durant that she was only half-civilized 
as yet 1 

On ordinary occasions, even after an absence of a day, Mr 
Lovell, the moment he returned, would bear his daughter off to 
his painting-room, and spend an hour at least in looking at her 
face, and listening greedily to all her little chatter concerning what 
had happened in his absence. And had he done so now, Archie's 
secret Avould infallibly have been told. But Mr Lovell had made 
unusually large and valuable purchases at the Amiens sale, and 
his bric-a-brac, the most fragile of all merchandise, Avas being now 
brought up by porters from the Morteville station. With a 


newly-acquired honheur dujour of Madame de Pompadour and a 
veritable Boule clock in perilous transition, even Archie, after liis 
first kiss from her, was forgotten ; and Bettina of course was far 
too eager to rush off to the kitchen and the larder on the scent of 
Jeanneton's possible knaveries, to bestow attention on Archie's 
heavy eyes and pale face. And so the first opportunity for con- 
fession passed by. ''The honlieur du jour cost me six hundred 
francs, and will sell for three thousand," cried Mr Lovell, with 
kindling eyes. '' If I could meet with bargains like this every 
day, child, our fortune would be made." 

"Tea is six francs a pound, Archie, and you and Jeaiineton 
have drunk a quarter of a pound since yesterday," said Bettina, 
putting her head in at the door ; "I made a little mark on the 
caddy, to be sure. A franc and a half a day is ten francs and a 
half a week ; forty-two francs a month — forty-two francs a month 
for tea alone ! So much for your housekeeping, Archie." 

Poor Archie after this stole away to her own bedroom, and 
there, seated at her window and gazing out into the street, she 
passed two or tlu-ee of the first really desolate hours she had ever 
known. No one came to interrupt her : her father, without his 
coat, and covered all over with fragments of bass and straw like a 
gigantic Guy Pawkes, stood unswathing his cabinets and his 
clocks, tenderly as a nurse would unswathe a baby, in the court- 
yard ; while Bettina was in the full fury of incoherent Anglo-Gallic 
battles with Jeanneton — ^who, to keep up the fable of made- 
moiselle's excellent appetite, and not unmindful of " son Pierre," 
had privately secreted goodly portions of all the eatables in the 

''Old cabinets, and Madame de Pompadour, Jeanneton's sins, 
and my bad housekeeping ! " said Archie, bitterly to herself. 
*' These are the subjects of real vital importance in our household. 
Such a little affair as my having run away to London and back is 
nothing compared to them. Why, even the horrible man in grey 
took more interest in my concerns than they do." 

She rose and leant her face out through the window just as she 
was giving utterance aloud to this small piece of childish injustice, 
and as she did so a sight met her which made the words die on 
her lips — the blood rush with suffocating oppression to her heart. 


There, exactly opposite her window, and looking iij) over the door, 
evidently to find out the number of their house, stood the man 
himself ! the well-known grey overcoat hanging upon his arm, his 
face, every line of which was impressed with distinctness upon her 
memory, upturned, so that Miss Lovell could see it plainly. 

She drew back in an instant, and sank with trembling limbs 
-upon a chair. This man had tracked her then, and had come to 
denounce her to her father. The story was to be told, softened 
by no explanation of hers, but by the cruel, imsjonpathizing lips of 
a stranger ; of a man who had watched her alone with Gerald 
Dui-ant in London, who had seen her fill her scarf with fruit that 
she had no money to pay for on her journey home ! Ko sense of 
the improbability of a stranger taking such extraordinary interest 
in her or in her misdeeds struck her. A boy who has been rob- 
bing a cherry-orchard believes that every ploughman, every urchin 
he meets, must be on the road to denounce him to the farmer, and 
Archie had a similar overwhelming consciousness of her guilt and 
impending detection. She started back from the window, sank 
down trembling in her chaii', and then, with bloodless cheeks and 
beating heart, awaited her doom: heard the porter's bell ring; 
heard Jeanneton's shriU tones in j)ai'lance ^\ith a stranger — a 
moment later heard the sound of a man's deep voice alternating 
Avith Bettina's and with her father's in the salon. The cold 
damps gathered thick on the poor little thing's forehead ; her 
clasped hands turned to ice as they lay heavily on her lap. It 
seemed to her as though she lived through all her life anew during 
the agony of the next ten minutes. It was no new thing this 
"Waiting to be summoned into the presence of her awful enemy : it 
had happened all before, not once, but a score of times. A score 1 
Was there any moment of her whole past life which had not been 
coloured with a ghastly prophetic on-coming of her present pain ? 
In ten minutes the door of the salon opened, and .the dead calm- 
ness of despair fell upon the girl's heart. She knew that her 
hour had come. A minute later, and Bettina entered the room, a 
strange flush on her faded face, her cap awry, a light that was not 
that of anger in her eyes. 

" Archie, Archie, child," she cried, stammering with excitement, 


and never noticing the whiteness of her step-daughter's face. " It 
has come at last." 

" What has come 1 " said Archie, rising bravely to meet her 
fate, and never doubting that " it " must be the news of her own 
guilt. "Tell me at once, please. I can bear it." 

" We have got a living at last — he was seventy-seven years of 
age, and read without spectacles till a fortnight ago, and your 
grandfather — time, I am sure — has awakened at length to his 
duty and given it us. Oh, Archie," melting into tears, "to think 
of his coming here at once to tell us ! met Lord Lovell by accident 
in Piccadilly, and only back from India three days ! and he says the 
rectory at Hatton isn't more than a mile from his own house." 

'• Who is he, and what is Hatton, Bettina 1 and has grandpapa 
or the man without spectacles come to tell us ! " 

"Hatton is your father's living, Archie; and heaven knows 
this is no time for levity ! Four hundred a year, without the 
glebe, and Major Seton himself has come to tell us. He's going 
to leave the army, and we shall be near neighbours, and — " 

• "Major Seton ! " In a second the past was all unlocked before 
Archie's sight — the clue given to her imperfect recollections of the 
stranger's face in London — to the confused dreams of Italy that 
had haunted her upon her moonlit journey. " Ealph, dear Ealph ! " 

Without waiting to hear another word, she rushed past Bettina 
out of the room ; and a minute later her enemy, her denouncer, 
the mysterious man in grey himself, had seized her vehemently in 
his arms and was covering her face ^vith kisses. 



" Ahem ! She is not a little girl now. Major Seton," remarked 
Bettina, who had followed in time to watch the meeting, and who, 
even in the first blissful intoxication of being a rector's Avife, could 
remember the proprieties. " Archie is seventeen, a grown-up girl, 


and has "been introduced into society abeady." An hour ago Bet- 
tina would have said " introduced at a ^lorteville ball," but with 
returning position had awakened the old instinctive euphemisms of 
the world. 

"Seventeen — ^is it possible V said the stranger. "AYliy, it 
seems only yesterday since she was a little girl — a little girl I 
could carry very conveniently in my arms about the garden at 

" But I am not a little girl now," cried Miss Lovell, hot and 
scarlet still after Major Seton's greeting of her. '' I was seventeen 
the twelfth of last October." 

" But very unlike a qualified, grown-up young lady still," Mr 
Lovell remarked, drawing the girl to his side, and giving her a 
look which plainly told how much better than any qualified yoimg 
lady he thought her, " Archie has had strange comiDanionship at 
times, and I am afraid will not be very much like a rector's daugh- 
ter for awhile. Imagine, Ralph, the cliild has never been in Eng- 
land yet." 

" Indeed " Major Seton stroked down his moustache thought- 
fully at this information, and gave a side-long inquuing look at 
Archie's face. The blue eyes met his unflinchingly ; the girlish 
figure stood up bravely, though every nerve was trembling with 
excitement, at Mr Lovell's side. 

" He says nothing ! " she thought at last, drawing a freer breath 
as Major Seton, to her intense surprise and relief, remained silent. 
" Is he shy, or stupid, or is it possible that he doesn't remember 
me 1 Perhaps he is as foolish about me as ever — jDOor dear old 
Ralph ! and if he is, I can soon make him believe anytliing I 

And then she turned away, and artfully cpiitting the subject of 
her own foreign bringing-up, began to heap pretty congratulations 
upon her father : wondering what England would be like, and 
what his duties would be, and how many sermons he would have 
to write a week — holding her soft cheek against his forehead, and 
caressing the hair back from his temples just as, years ago, she 
used to caress Ralph himself when she was a child playing among 
the roses in the ruined garden at Genoa •\nth Major Seton, her 
adorer, her vassal, her slave, at her feet. 


Her slave : ay, ho was tliat, she recollected well. Her slave, 
physically, carrying her iu his arms, under the broiling sim, or 
crushing his great shoulders under impossible places at hide-and- 
seek ; her inexorable master, the only one she had ever really 
owned, in matters of conscience. Once, when she was about eleven 
3'ears old, she had told a deliberate story, though not a very black 
one, about the breaking of a china cup on which Bettina set great 
store ; and Ealph, cognizant of the sin and of the falsehood alike, 
had given her his mute support throughout j had even allowed 
Mrs Lovell to throw the blame upon a certain little Tino, Archie's 
Italian sweetheart for the time being. "If you don't like to tell 
the truth, don't tell it," he said to her in secret. "I shall not 
betray you to Bettina, and I will play mtli you just as usual ; 
only — don't Idss me ; I will never let you kiss me until you are 
brave enough to take the blame off Tino." And with this awful 
pressure brought to bear upon her, Archie had confessed, and been 
punished, had given her white goat to Tino, and then loved Ealph 
Seton a hundred times better than ever for his severity. 

The who],e story came back upon her recollection at this mo- 
ment ; and even while she felt assured as to " poor old Ealph's" 
outward allegiance, the wonder crossed her whether in a matter of 
morals he would be as implacably severe as ever. " If he is, I can 
bear it," she thought, throwing a glance at him from beneath her 
lojig lashes. " If he did recognize me in London, and is only pre- 
tending before papa, I am not afraid. The punishment I thought 
so dreadful in Genoa, eight years ago, would not be much of a 
punishment in Morteville now." And Miss Lovell gave a little 
impertinent shudder at the thought of poor old Ealph's ugly face, 
and how his rough moustache had rasped her cheeks when he 
kissed her a minute ago. 

Major Seton was certainly not a man to charm the fancy of any 
very young girl who had just parted from the handsome face and 
refined courtly presence of Gerald Durant. He was tall — weU over 
six feet — deep-chested, and thin-flanked : a very model of manly 
strength, but built too much after the square solid fashion due to 
his Scottish descent to have a vestige of grace about him. His 
head, of the type that a friend would call good honest Saxon — an 
enemy, cocoa-nut shaped — was set somewhat stifily on his broad 



soldier-like shoulders. His feet were large ; his hands were large, 
and excessively brown ; and in his face there was not a handsome 
feature! Ordinary dark-grey eyes; a short, but by no means 
Grecian nose ; a huge reddish-blonde moustache entirely covering 
his mouth, and the true Scottish height of cheek-bone. His chin, 
prominent and firmly cut, was the solitary point that could be 
called good in all that rugged exterior ; for the effect of a row of 
white even teeth Avas marred by one of the front ones being 
broken short in two, a defect that it had never entered into Major 
Seton's brain to have remedied by art. His complexion, which 
had been fair as a boy, was tanned by exposure of all kinds, by 
Indian sim last of all, to a brown several shades darker than his 
hair ; and its darkness was rendered still more conspicuous by a 
white jagged cicatrice, the mark of a sabre-cut he had received in 
his youth, wliich cleft just above the left eyebrow, and showed 
again, deep and irregularly traced, ujDon the bronze cheek beneath. 
This ancient Avound, perliaps, joined to the weather-beaten skin 
and the broken front tooth, gave Major Seton that indescribable 
look which can be justly conveyed by no other word than battered. 
Jeanneton, when she let him in, summed him up briefly in her 
mind as a '' vieux moustache." To Archie, in five minutes, be was 
"poor old Ralph." ISTot perhaps quite so advanced in years as 
her father or Bettina, but old, ver}- old ; thoroughly out of the 
world of Gerald and herself: an antediluvian creatm^e A^ith hm 

■' o 

hands and feet, a weather-beaten face, and a huge rough moustache 
tliat grated when he kissed you ! 

And yet this ^deux moustache, this antediluvian creature, was 
a man j^ounger in heart and spirit than Gerald Durant, and under 
thirty yet in actual age. Major Seton had lived much — though 
not in the sense which makes a Guardsman old at five-and-twenty ! 
Poverty, self-denial, the sacrifice of every small and paltry pleasure 
to one great principle, had been necessities early thrust upon him 
in his boyhood; and what he had accepted perforce then had 
simply become an ingrained part of his nature now. Scotch, as 
their name implies, by descent, the Setons for two generations had 
been settled on a small estate in Stafi'ordshire, which had entered 
the family by the marriage of Ralph's grandfather with an English 
heiress — or a lady whose fortune, compared with that of the 


Setons, entitled her to be so called. The only son of this marriage, 
James Seton, lived long enough to spend every shilling he could 
touch of his inheritance ; to involve his estate in debt ; to marry ' 
a girl without a farthing, and leave an orphan heir to his debts in 
the person of Ealph. 

The boy was sixteen years of age, and at Eton still, when his 
father died. He had always been brought up, by tutors and serv- 
ants, to look upon himself as possessing considerably better pros- 
pects than most boys. There was money forthcoming, he knew, 
whenever he liked to ask for it. There were generally a couple of 
hunters ready for his use, and all kinds of conviviality and dissi- 
pation going on at home during the vacation.- His father had 
avowedly sent him to Eton to play cricket, and keep up the habits 
and opinions of an English gentleman — and this the boy had done. 
His ideas of duty and of life in general were, to play cricket 
twenty -seven hours a week and read a little, but very little, for the 
classics at school ; and to ride, shoot, play billiards, dine and drink 
with his elders, during the holidays. And so, while Gerald Durant 
was receiving all good and motherly advice from Lady Durant in 
the pious shelter of the Court, Ealph Seton at Ludbrooke Hall, 
five miles away from them, was, with his ruined father and liis 
father's associates, leading a life during each vacation that already 
made the boy talked of as a baby-prodigal, a hopeful chip of the 
old block, throughout the country. 

But at sixteen, the age when Gerald's emancipation from virtue 
was hereafter to begin, came yoimg Seton' s emancipation from vice 
— such skin-deep, schoolboy vice, of drinking and betting and 
biUiard playing as it was ! His father died : and on the day of 
the fimeral the trustees told the boy the exact amount of debts to 
which he was heir. So many thousands of pounds from wdiich the 
estate must legally clear itself ; so many other thousands which, 
being personal debts, or debts of honour, a son might lawfully dis- 
claim on coming of age. 

Ralph had loved his father with the kind of passionate affection 
which open-handed, jovial, devil-may-care men like James Seton 
not unfrequently inspire in the children they are ruining ; and not 
one bitter thought rose in his heart as the prospect of his own 
beggared life was laid before him. " My father never denied me 



anything — my father never said a harsh ^Yord to me in my life." 
These -were the only -svords lie could stammer out ; these were the 
recollections which made the tears run, like a girl's, down his face, 
when relations and lawyer spoke to him, "wdth solemn looks and 
big words, of liis father's extravagance, and the awful warnings 
that all these squandered thousands ought to prove to him. And 
the relations and lawyer exchanged opinions during their journey 
back to London after the funeral, as to whether the boy was a 
milksop or stupid, or only reckless like poor James. 

He was not a milksop, or stupid, neither was he at sixteen a 
hero or a philosopher. In uitellect Ealph was then, as now, a 
very ordiuary fellow indeed ; but somethiug better than intellect 
' — a large loving heart, and strength of wiQ, derived possibly from 
remote Scottish ancestors, not certainly from the training of his 
early years — made him take up and hold to a noble purpose in life. 
^N'ot a shilling of his dead father's debts but should eventually be 
paid : not a staiu should rest upon his dead father's name if the 
work of his own right arm, the sacrifice of his whole life if need be, 
could cleanse it away. If Ludbrooke were let at once, the estate 
would clear itself in five years, the trustees had told him. lu 
another five or six years, he calculated for himself, the debts of 
"honour" of James Seton might also be paid. What was to be- 
come of the heir of Ludbrooke during this time ? — for the foregoing 
little exercise in arithmetic included no payments whatever save 
those to creditors. The poor boy on the evening of the funeral 
went round to the stables, the least desolate j^lace it seemed to 
him, and standing there alone, looking wistfully at his favourite 
horse, a hunter James Seton had given two hundred guineas for 
some months before, asked himself this question : What was to be- 
come, during the next ten or twelve years, of the heir of Lud- 
brooke 1 

Most men in whom lies the germ of solid success can early test 
their own capacities pretty accurately. Standing alone with tear- 
stained cheek on this miserable day, when he stepped abruptly 
from childhood to man's estate, Ralph Seton examined, one by 
one, his abilities, such as they were, and decided that as far as books 
and study went he could do — nothing. He did not for a moment 
doubt his own strength in aught save books. An Eton boy of six- 


teen knows tolerably well the sort of place he has held, and is 
likely to hold, among his peers. Young Seton was bold of spirit, 
strong in body ; and possessed no small portion of that robust 
common sense and tact combined for which the Scotch word 
'' canny " has not an English equivalent. In the world of boys he 
had held his ground, and he had no doubt of holding it in the 
world of men. Only, in what capacity 1 On this forlorn evening 
he thought over everj^ employment by which money, traditionally, 
can be made — the bar, or East India service, or literature, for none 
of which he had capacity ; commerce, for which he had neither 
capacity nor capital — then decided that, as he could choose no 
profession by which to make money, he must accept one by which 
at least he could avoid spending it. 

" I have brains enough to wear a red coat and be shot at," he 
thought at last ; ''and, if I am not killed at once, I can exchange 
to India, and live lipon my pay there." L^pon which such visions 
of brave deeds and glory, elephant-hunting and pig-sticking, rose 
before the lad's imagination, as made him after a while go back to 
the house with a someAvhat brightened face. And that night he 
wrote a letter to his guardian and next of kin setting forth his de- 
termination, and begging that the family interest might be used to 
get him a commission in some regiment on, or bound for, active 
service without delay. 

Now the words " active service," or " wearing a red coat to be 
shot at," bore a very different significance at a time when the battle 
of the Alma had been newly fought to what they bear now ; and 
Ealph's guardian, a good practical man of business, at once decided 
to grant the boy his wish. The army ivas about the best provision 
that could be made for poor James Seton's son ; and 'v\ithout un- 
necessary delay the family interest set itself to work, to get young 
Ealph his commission. Not very much interest at that time was 
wanted : no need of studjdng for examinations : no difficulties 
raised even as to age. On the evening of his father's funeral 
Ealph first thought of the red coat — six weeks later he wore one, 
and was on his way to the Crimea ; Ludbrooke was let to a pottery- 
manufacturer, and the furniture, hunters, pictures, all the holy 
things of Ealph's childhood, were in the hands ©f the Jews. 

He went through all the Crimean campaign, and, to the comfort 


of his relatives, was not killed; only at Inkerman lie got that 
sabre-cut that marked him for life from a Cossack cuirassier, and 
his share of ague, rheumatism, and ferver in the trenches. He had 
no opportunity of performing extraordinary deeds of valour, nor 
was the circumstance of Ensign Seton's face being cut open to the 
bone mentioned in any of the dispatches sent home to a grateful 
nation save as a '' scratch." By virtue of other men's deaths he 
got tolerably rapid promotion ; his good constitution carried hun 
through his ague and fever ; his wound would certainly disfigure 
him frightfully for years to come, the surgeons said, but it healed 
as it ought. At the end of the war he was in possession of his 
medals, a captain's pay, and the knowledge, so well did fate obey 
his wishes, that his regiment was spoken of by those high in 
authority as " safe for India." At the attack of the Eedan — the in- 
glorious ninety minutes, during which as many heroes fell as at 
Inkerman — Ealph Seton, and every other officer on the field, had 
behaved to the full as bravely, poor fellows, as though it had been 
another charge of the Six Hundred. But the men of his regiment 
had wavered, or were thought to have wavered ; they were young 
boys, raw recruits, arrived from England a week before, and had 
many of them never fired a rifle in their lives ; at all events a court 
of inquiry was held in consequence of their alleged misconduct, and 
although no official stigma was actually affixed to its name, it was 
perfectly well known in the army that the — th, or such of the — th 
as should remain, would, after the"peace, be " safe for India." 

To India they went, and had continued there ever since ; the 
regimental plate and the colours, that is to say ; the colonel, Major 
Seton, the quarter-master, and a few of the men — the mutiny, and 
two or three of the unhealthiest stations in Bengal, not having left 
much more of what originally sailed from England under the name 
of the — th. During these years Ralph Seton had returned once, 
for health's sake, to Europe, during which time he made the ac- 
quaintance of Mr Loveli in Italy. With the exception of those 
solitary eighteen months, his life, from the day he joined until 
now, more than thirteeu years, had been, plainly and literally, a 
life spent on duty. He liked his profession as most men after 
five-and-twenty do like the army ; tolerated it as an evil, one de- 
gree better than the poverty and idleness combined which would 


have awaited liini liad lie left it. Until every farthing of his 
father's debts were clear, he had sworn to himself not to touch a 
shilling of his income, and to this oath he kept — living on his pay 
from first to last, and holding, with stubborn fidelity, by his old 
regiment into whatever station it was ordered, and when all his 
brother ofiicers in turn went home invalided, or exchanged, or sold. 
For amusement he shot tigers and stuck pigs, yearly feeling rather 
less excitement, perhaps, in the pursuit of these animals ; and for 
society confined himself exclusively to men, among whom, from 
the tough colonel dov^n to the rawest griff in the regiment, " old 
Seton " was popular. 

To women — to the ladies, that is to say, of Indian stations — 
Major Seton was an enigma. In spite of his scarred and sun- 
burnt face he ndght, had he chosen, have been a favourite with 
them, fbr he possessed that nameless charm of thorough simple 
manliness, which even tie most frivolous women in their hearts 
find more irresistible than all Adonis forms and Grecian profiles. 
But he did not choose it. If, accidentally, he was thrown with 
the wives or sisters of bis brother ofiicers, he was deferential, 
almost tenderly courteous, in his manner towards them, but there 
it ended. When he met them at the band or at their drives next 
day, he retiKned their smiles with his usual grave salute — horrible 
old moustache as he was — and neither saw, nor attempted to see, 
more of them until some new accident forced him into their 

"Was he afraid of them, or of himself, or was he only a common- 
place woman-hater 1 How should they tell 1 What shoidd these 
gay Indian ladies know of the purposes of that lonely life, of the 
fair unsullied ideal, which, after long years of a soldier's life, 
Major Seton yet held to in his heart, of women and of love? 
Eound the bungalows of other men hung pictures of fair faces by 
the score— operatic celebrities, women of the east and of the west, 
beauties of all nations and all climates : round Major Seton's hung a 
series of Landseer's proofs, a dozen or so of men's photographs, and 
of late years one oil-painting of a girl — a girl of about eleven, with 
blue eyes and a mignonne dark face, standing bareheaded imder 
an Italian sky, and -^ith a panorama of the bay of Genoa out- 
stretched at her feet. Before his visit to Europe there had, it was re- 



ineml)ered, been two or three "women's portraits on liis wall; but up- 
on his return to India he cleared these scrupulously away before hang- 
ing up his new possession. '' I just prefer seeing the child alcne," 
he remarked, quietly, wlien one of liis friends attempted to joke 
with him on the dethronement of old favourites ; and after this 
no one asked him any further questions on the subject. There 
were few men who chose to question Major Seton on any subject 
respecting which he had once sho"mi a disposition to be reticent. 

" And you find her a great deal changed, Ealph 1 " said Mr 
Lovell, while Ealph still continued to stroke down his moustache, 
and look silently at Archie. *''You would not have recognized 
the little Italian giii you used to play with in this tall, statelj'-, 
full-grown young person 1 " 

"I should have recognized her anywhere," answered Ealph, " or 
at least I believe I should," he added, promptly. " Kno^ving that 
you lived at Morteville, and suspecting this to be your house, I 
certainly remembered Archie's face the first moment that I had a 
glimpse of it at the window." 

'* And if any other young woman mth red hair and a bro'wai 
face had been looking out you would have recognized her just the 
same," cried Archie, carelessly. " One finds what one expects to 
find! IS'ow that I am told you are Major Seton, I remember 
Major Seton. If I had met you anywhere else — " she hesitated, 
and her eyes sank under his. 

"If you had met Major Seton any\vhere else," put in Bettina, 
opportunely, "J should have been Avith you of course, Archie, and 
should have helped you to recoUect your papa's friend." The poor 
little woman was quite bristling with her new sense of wanting 
everybody belonging to her to be decorous. " Archie needs the 
society of a few young girls of her own age, Major Seton," 
she added, apologetically. " Travelling about in the ^vild way we 
have done, I have thought it best never to let her mix with 
any other young people ; but li\nng settled in an English coimty 
of course it will be very different." 

And then Bettina— Mr Lovell having gone away to store his 
cabinets safe out of reach of Jeanneton's hands — put Major Seton 
through a long coiu'so of questions as to the social capabilities of 
Hatton. Plenty of rich manufactming people ? ah yes, very well 

OLD LUVi: AMJ -NL.v ! ;/il 

in tlieir way, but not what she had been accustomed to in her 
youth, and the neighbouring clergy of course, and Major Seton 
himself. But what immediate neighbours ? — nice people ? — people 
they would be likely to get on with? and with any girl of 
Archie's age in the family ? 

"Well," said Major Seton, "the people to whom you will be 
nearest are the Durants. Durant's Court is about two miles from 
the rectory, and Lucia is, I should think, about the same age as 
Archie." " 

" Durant — Durant ! " chirped Bettina. " Dear me, how familiar 
it sounds ! Archie, where can I have heard the name of Durant 
lately r' 

But Archie had bent her head over a French railway-guide that 
lay upon the table, and was intently studying the advertisement 
of a company for reclaiming waste lands near Bordeaux. " I — I 
beg your pardon, Bettina ! What did you say 1 Davenant ? 
Douro? oh, Durant — wh}^, Durant Avas the name of that young 
Englishman I danced with at the ball the other night — don't you 
remember 1 " 

" Of course it was. A nice little man. Major Seton, with yellow 
whiskers and a neat figure. Could it have been one of the Staf- 
fordshire family, should you think ? " 

A nice little man, with yellow whiskers and a neat figTire ! At 
any other time Archie would have fired up indignantly at such a 
hideous caricature of Gerald's handsome person, but she remained 
mute and still now, reading on without noting a word — though 
months afterwards she could remember it accurately — of that pros- 
pectus for reclaiming the waste lands near Bordeaux, while she 
waited breathlessly for Major Seton's reply. 

"A small man with yellow whiskers — that sounds like G-erald. 
You don't know his Christian name, I suppose?" But he ad- 
dressed the question pointedly to Bettina, not Archie. 

Mrs Lovell answered no ; she had, indeed, not been introduced 
herself to Mr Durant ; could Archie remember if the name of the 
little man she danced with was Gerald 1 

"It was," answered Miss Lovell, laconically. "I know it be- 
cause he wrote his name down on my card, Gerald Sidnev 
Durant." After which she went on diligently with her study of 

p 2 


tlie waste lands. Liability of shareholders to he limited in accord- 
ance with the international treaty of 1862 : capital already sub- 
scribed, 300,000 francs : and then on through a list of directors, 
bankers, brokers, auditors, and secretaries, do^^m to the solicitors 
and temporary offices of the company. 

" Well, Gerald Sidney Durant will before very long be one of 
yonr closest neighbours," went on Major Seton, in his quiet voice. 
" He is engaged to be married to Ms cousin Lucia, the heiress of 
Durant's Court." 

Archie Lovell's heart turned to ice : Bettina, always fired into 
intense excitement by the barest mention of a marriage, began im- 
mediately to ply Major Seton with cjuestions. When would it 
take place 1 Where would the young people live ? How much a 
year would they have to start with 1 Had he not mterrupted her 
she would before long have got, no doubt, to the materials of the 
bride's dress, and what Archie would wear if she should be invited 
to be bridesmaid. 

''It has been a very long engagement indeed, Mrs Lovell;" 
and something in the distinct tone of his voice, in the scrupulous 
way in which he continued to address himself to Bettina, made 
Archie feel that every word he uttered was designedly, and of 
malice aforethought, addressed to herself. "An engagement com- 
mencing when Miss Durant was about two years of age and Gerald 
nine. There have been rumours of late, I hear, of a misunder- 
standing between them," he added ; "but the idea of the engage- 
ment being really broken off is ridiculous. Sir John and Lady 
Durant are just as much in love mtli Gerald as Lucia is — " 

"And Gerald himseK?" cried Archie, as Major Seton hesitated, 
forgetting the waste lands and the part she was acting and every- 
thing else in her intense eagerness to hear what Gerald felt. 

"Gerald himself must marry Lucia Durant," replied ^Major 
Seton, looking round, for the first time, at the girl's fiuslimg face. 
" He has no choice at all in the matter." 

" Oh, I thought a man always had some choice as to tlie woman 
he marries." 

" Xot when he is tied hand and foot, like poor Gerald. The 
lad is over head and ears in debt ; his cousin Lucia on her mar- 
riage will have a clear fifteen hundred a year, and eventually every 


shilling lier father has to leave. T should say, with what his wife 
brought liim," added the Major, in his accurate Scotch way, "very 
close upon fifty thousand pounds." 

Eifty thousand pounds ! Archie felt the same sort of profound 
crushing conviction as to her own worthlessness as she had done 
when G-erald first showed her the photograph of Lucia's faultless 
features. Fifty thousand pounds ! and she, a pauper, had dared to 
tliink it possible that he liked her ! 

" I see," she murmured, half to herself, and dropping her face 
down over the book again ; " I suppose there is no choice left when 
a man once decides to sell himself for money." 

" Sell, my dear Archie ! " cried Bettina. ^' Do leave off those 
silly, indeed indelicate, expressions. This Mr Gerald Durant is a 
very lucky man indeed, and it will be a great privilege to you 
having a nice young married woman living so near us. The young 
people ^411 continue to live at the Court, I suppose, Major Seton?" 
And straightway visions of wedding-parties, dinner-parties, morn- 
ing calls, and the dresses that she, the rector's wife, would wear on 
all these occasions, presented themselves with delicious breadth 
and fulness of detail before Bettina's mind. 

" When you condemn a man for marrying for money, you should 
remember what the man is," remarked Ralph, who already had 
fallen into the habit common to all human creatures who knew 
her, of answering about one in fifteen, of Bettina's questions. *'If 
you knew Gerald as I do, Archie, you would feel it impossible to 
apply any harsh terms to him, whatever he does." 


" Yes, I am quite sure you would. My own practical experience 
of Gerald's character has been confined to the years when we were 
boys together — or rather when I was an old boy, he a child ; for 
there are a good many years between us — and to the few weeks I 
spent mth him when I was home on leave seven years ago ; but 
yet I believe I know him as w^ell as if I had never lost sight of 
him in all the intervening time. What Gerald was at twelve I 
found him as a Guardsman of nineteen, and shall find him again 
now at twenty-six. Characters like his develop, of course, but 
they don't change." 

Just at this juncture Bettina — even in her new dreams of great- 


ness not unmindful of the present honour of the house — remem- 
bered that there was ouly the remains of the cold fillet and a salad 
for supper, and jumping up, with a string of apologies to Major 
Seton, prepared to leave the room. 

"I shan't be away from you five minutes, Major Seton, but 
Frederick will be impatient unless I help him with his cabinets." 
Mr Lovell would not have let her touch one of them for the uni- 
verse. '• Archie, my love, amuse Major Seton by showing him 
your photographs while I am gone." And then she rushed off to 
the kitchen to send Jeanneton to the Couronne d'Argent (the back 
way, on account of Mrs Maloney) for a roti and sweets ; and Archie 
and Major Seton were left alone. 

For the first time in her life Miss Lovell experienced the sens- 
ation of shyness. Her hands trembled ; the colour rose and fell 
in her face. When Bettina left the room it was as much as she 
could do not to get up and follow her. But Major Seton saw, or 
pretended that he saw, no symptom of her embarrassment. 

"You have heard of your father's new prospects, of course, 
Archie "i " he remarked, but without having the aiy of seeking to 
change their conversation. " I need scarcely ask you if you are 
glad at his good fortune. I suppose England is a sort of El 
Dorado to your mind at present 1 " 

Then Archie raised her eyes, and looked at Ealph Seton full. 
He was scrutinizing her face, she felt, line by line, and she fancied 
there was an anxious, half-pained look upon his own, as though he 
would fain have bid her speak the truth, and trust in him, and 
take him to be her friend. Should she do so 1 Her heart said 
yes ; and she stammered out liis name — " Ealph ! " 

He was at her side in a moment ; stooping over her low, and 
holding both her little cold hands in one of his own large ones. 
Archie's heart beat horribly thick — thicker far than when she stood 
alone on London Bridge by night with Gerald Durant. Gerald 
was young and handsome, and boyish ; so much nearer her own 
si^e in every way than this great soldier, with his staid manner 
and his enormous height, and his rough old, scarred, and weather- 
beaten face — more scarred and weatherbeaten than she had known, 
now that she saw it close ! A mortal terror overcame her that he 


iiiiglit "be going to kiss her again, and she jumped up nervously, 
and snatched her hands away from him. 

'■I — T think I must go after Bettina, Major Seton — that is," 
stammering and looking more and more frightened, " I mean, papa 
may want me." 

''Directly; when you have answered my question. Are you 
glad of this prospect of seeing England for the &st time 1 " 

" Why do you ask me ] " she cried, the first instinctive impulse 
towards confession growing weaker every moment. "■ Of course I 
am glad. Of course it will be better to live respectably in a par- 
sonage than to knock about the world as we have done." And 
she drew herself up to her full height, and tossing her hair back 
over her shoulders, looked steadily, almost defiantly, into Major 
Seton's face. 

''And it really is the first time that you will see England?" he 
repeated, slowly and distinctly. "I understood your father right. 
You have never been in England since you were born 1 

" JJ^ever ! " cried Archie, with a sort of gasp. " Or, at least, 
papa and Bettina say so, and of course they ought to know." 

After which she felt better ; her dread of Ealph, her shyness, 
her hesitation gone. She was in a new world ; and yet it seemed 
to her as though she had been accustomed to it all her life j as 
though falsehoods were very easy to tell when the time came ; 
nay, more, as though, after the first cold shock was over, there was 
a kind of pleasant pungency or zest in telling them ! 

Major Seton walked away to the window, plunged his hands 
into his coat-pockets, and put his lips into the set compressed 
position which for him meant whistling. " He knows nothing," 
thought Archie, as she watched him. "He is not sure, or he 
would have asked me more questions, and I was right to put him 
off. Am I to go about telling wild stories of myseK to everybody, 
now that poor papa is a rector 1 " 

And forgetting that she wanted to foUow Bettina, she sat doAvn 
and returned to the study of the waste lands, while Ealph Seton 
stood for five minutes or more in the same attitude, his lips going 
through the same pantomime of whistling as he gazed out steadily 
into the street. 


He suffered — strong man as he \vas — an intense, a fearful loss 
during these five minutes : he lost the one pure belief of the last 
six years of his life. The women he had taken down from his 
walls when he first hung Archie there, might be put back again, 
he felt ; the picture of the fresh unsullied child, for whose sake he 
had dethroned them, was the picture of something that had no 
existence now. Arcliie Lovell was a woman, just as well worth 
loving and marrying as other women perhaps, but his ideal of 
truth and innocence and unstained loyalty no longer. 

He came back, and looked at her very long and kindly. " Miss 
Lovell," he said at last, for the first time not calling her iVrchie, 
*' you are a grown-up young lady, as your father reminded me now, 
and I — well, there is more difference between us by far than there 
was in Genoa, when you were a little child and I was your play- 
fellow — your tame bear rather, as you used to call* me. I can't 
expect you will give me your confidence now as you used, but " — 
his voice shook shghtly — " I hope we shall be very good neigh- 
bours indeed when you come to England, and that if ever 'you 
should by possibility need me you will look upon me as your 

! But though he was quite close to where she sat, he made no 
attempt to approach any nearer to her now ; and with a quick 
contraction of the heart, the giii felt that she need not be afraid of 
the pressiu-e of the huge hands, of the contact of the rough 
moustache again. Half child, half woman as she was, Arcliie 
Lovell's real liking for Major Seton dated from that moment. For 
in that moment she aclaiowledged him to be, not her slave, not 
her equal, but her master ! 

''If you don't like to teU the truth, don't teU it. I shaU not 
betray you, and I wiU play with you just as usual. Only — don't 
kiss me. I will never let you kiss me until you are brave enough 
to take the blame ofi" Tino." She recalled again that threat of 
years ago ; recalled the night she had cried so bitterly because he 
held so staunchly to his word ; and how at length he had kissed 
her again; kissed and loved, and trusted her more than ever! 
What would he think if he knew the truth now 1 Would he ever 
take her back to his regard if he discovered the falsehood she had 
this moment told him 1 


As she bent her face low down over her book, Major Seton stood 
and watched her still. He watched the outhne of the graceful 
head ; the bend of the girlish throat, the delicately -modelled arm 
that lay upon the table, the dark lashes resting on the soft flushed 
cheek — every outward charm developed into sweet perfection of 
this child he had made an idol of! And as he stood, he put her 
resolutely away out of his heart. The thought of coming back and 
finding her thus '. the cliild's face changed into a woman's — but 
the child's lo}'al heart matured into a woman's integrity — the hope 
of one day ^^^uning her for his wife, had been, during more than 
six years, the poetry, the brightness of Ealph Seton's lonely life. 
And now with the material part of his destiny accomplished, his 
father's debts paid, Ludbrooke his own again, and Archie before 
him — fairer than he had seen her in his dreams — he stood, even in 
this first hour of their meeting, and put her resolutely away out of 
his heart. 

He was no enthusiast, with romantic visions of women being 
angels ; he was a very plain and cautious man, fresh enough, 
certainly, to desire to possess a beautiful face by his own fireside, 
but who had seen sufficient of the world, and of the worst part of 
the world, to know when prudence bade him subordinate inclina- 
tion to reason. For common conventionalities, for what are termed 
the opinions of society, he cared nothing. If Archie had boldly 
confessed that she had gone to London with Gerald, nay, had she 
confessed that she went of set purpose, not by accident, he might 
have liked her rather the better for the pluck such an escapade 
showed — experience having told him that in extreme youth the 
best women are sometimes those who incur the maddest risks. 
But a girl who, at seventeen, could raise her blue eyes innocently, 
and toss her curls back like a child, and, looldng fidl into a man's 
face, tell a deliberate falsehood, as she had done a minute ago, was 
no wife for him. He loved her : would love her with passion if 
he married her ; would put his life, and what was dearer than his 
life, into her hands, and then — some day wake to find that the 
blue eyes were traitors, the red lips forsworn! He had seen not 
a few such endings to man's happiness in India, and was too great 
a coward (this was his own thought) to run the risk himself. A 
girl who could deceive without a blush at seventeen, might make 


a good wife still for some young follow who should so command her 
heart as to put all temptation to deceit out of her way. An old 
soldier like him must marry a truer or a plainer woman if he 
married at all — ^hut never this one ! 

And so, with tender pity for the little girl, with chivalrous 
resolve to he her friend all the more hecause from hencefoi-th he 
would never be her lover. Major Seton put Archie away out of his 
heart as he stood and looked at her. 



Major Seton returned again to England that evening. He 
had not been able, he said, to deny himself the pleasure of bearmg 
good news to his old friends, but it was impossible for him to do 
more than pay them a flying visit now. His papers must be sent 
in to the Horse Guards at once ; he had a visit to pay in Scotland j 
hosts of lawyers' business to get through in London. And when 
Archie and Mr Lovell went down to the pier to see him off by the 
last steamer, they never knew that among the luggage from the 
Couronne d' Argent was a portmanteau bearing the name of Major 
Seton, — th Eegiment ; never knew that, in spite of his business, 
he had made preparations for staying with them a week, and had 
remained five hours. 

Before leaving home Miss Lovell stole out into the courtyard of 
the house, and gathered a branch of myrtle in full flower that 
grew against its southern wall. She wore it in her belt till the 
minute came for saying good-bye ; then took it out and began to 
trifle "vvith its leaves irresolutely. If Major Seton would only ask 
her for it, she thought ! If she could only see her flower in his 
button-hole when he went away, she should feel as if there was a 
sort of friendly compact between them still. She remembered the 
jealous care with which she used to pin a flower into his coat every 
morning at Genoa, and how, withered or not withered, he always 


left it there tlu?o-ugli the remainder of the clay. But Major Setoii 
held his hand out and said " Good-bye, Miss Lowell," very much 
in the same tone as he said good-bye to her father ; then went 
quietly away down the steps to the boat that was waiting to take 
him to the steamer. A choking feeling came in Archie's throat as 
she leant across the bulwark of the pier and watched him. Hovv- 
dififerent Gerald's handsome animated face had looked when he 
bade her good-bye — horrible grim old soldier that Major Seton was ! 
And partly through temper, partly by accident, partly on purpose — 
who shall divine the motives of a girl of seventeen? — she flung 
away her myrtle-branch, and it fell into the boat, almost between 
Major Seton's hands. 

" "Well aimed, child," said her father, putting his arm round her 
shoulder. "You and Ealph are just as fierce lovers as ever, I 
see, Archie." 

" Lovers ! " cried Ai'chie, "vvith a quick toss of the head. '^ You 
forget, I think, papa, that I'm not eleven years old now. Poor 
old Ealph, a lover for me, indeed ! " But she watched very nar- 
rowly to see what poor old Ealph would do, and she kissed her 
hand to him with one of her brightest smiles, as soon as she saw 
with what tender care he picked her myrtle up ; and how reli- 
giously he stored it away within the breast of his grey great-coat. 

And this was the picture of her that Ealph took away with 
him ; her face flushing in the setting sun ; her blue eyes smiling ; 
her lips parted as she kissed her little hand to him ; her father's 
arm around her shoulder. Major Seton betook himself to one of 
the paddle-boxes, from whence he watched the two figures on the 
pier, and afterwards Morteville, till all were out of sight. Then 
he got out his pocket-book and, turning still in the direction of 
Prance, looked long and closely at a photograph that Mr Lovell 
had given him before he left j a photograph of a girl, with long 
fair hair unbound, dressed in a loose blouse, with a palette and 
brushes in her hand : and finally, he took from his breast the piece 
of myrtle that Archie had thrown to him, and held it (no one for- 
tunately being near to witness the utterly ridiculous action) to his 

These were the first steps by which the old moustache carried 
out his resolve of putting Miss Lovell away out of his heart ! 


Meanwliile, Mr Lovell and his daughter strolled slowly home- 
■\vard in the pleasant evening sunlight. The last twenty-four hours 
seemed to have alienated Archie strangely from all her former 
happy childish life ; and she clung now with a welcome sense of 
peace to the dear arm which had been her stay always ; looked up 
with a remorseful yearning of love to the dear face which she knew 
no folly, no guilt of hers, could ever cause to look upon her coldly. 
What was Gerald Durant, what was Major Seton, comjDared to 
him ? A pang smote her heart as she felt how quickly she liad 
been able to forget him for these strangers ; the consciousness that 
she had forgotten him made her manner to him tenderer, her smile 
more loving than usual, as they walked along. 

"That cabinet you have bought is a beauty, papa. I shall 
hardly like it to ever go away again. You never picked up such a 
lonlieur dujour before." 

" Archie," answered Mr Lovell, in the calm voice of a man 
announcing some excellence too patent to need enlarging upon, 
" it is a Eeisener, the design by Boucher, and executed in marque- 
terie with an art, a delicacy, that makes it a perfect cabinet picture 
in wood. If it is worth a sou it is worth four thousand francs. 
Perhaps now that I am a rich man," added the poor fellow, look- 
ing as radiant as a child, "a, rich country parson, Archie, with four 
hundred pounds a year, I may feel myself justified in keeping that 
cabinet for my own enjo}Tnent." 

" I wish you could, papa, and the clock too — that beautifid 
Boule clock. Ah, if we had only more money ! Money enough 
to pay off all our debts and start in England clear." 

" Oh, as to money, I have arranged that very easily," said Mr 
Lovell, lightly. ''But don't mistake about the clock, Archie. As 
a speculation I did well to buy it, but I would not care to possess 
it as a gift. Boule, as you know, had two styles. In his first and 
glorious one, he worked in plain, honest brass and ebony. In his 
second — in his decadence, his shame ! he sacrificed art to the 
miserable fashion of the day, of which this tawdry toy I bought at 
Amiens is a specimen. Lowered himself and his splendid talent 
to mother-of-pearl. Don't forget this again, cliild — 'tis a most 
important distinction." < 


" And the money, papa ? The money to pay off all om- creditors 
and start us afresh in England ? " 

"Oh, yes — the money ! A mere trifle — six or eight himdred 
pounds at most." 

" And how shall we raise it ? Would the bishop advance your 
salary, do you think, if you were to explain everything to him?" 
Miss Lovell's knowledge of chinch matters was sketchy in the 

" The bishop advance my salary ! " said Mr Lovell, laughing. 
" !N'o, you little goose. Some one much better than a bishop has 
advanced me what I want already." 

Archie's cheeks .fired in a moment. She knew too well her 
father's fatal habit of borrowing from whomsoever he came across 
to doubt the meaning of his words. This explained the long con- 
versation which her father and Major Seton had had together in 
the studio : this explained the cause of liis joyous light-heartedness 
as they walked down to see Ealph off by the steamer. 

" Oh, papa, I hope poor Major Seton has not — " 

"xlrchie, my love," interrupted Mr Lovell, ciuickly, ''poor 
Major Seton is a man with a clear twelve or fifteen hundred a 
year, and — thanks to his own honourable exertions and economy — 
a very handsome balance at his banker's. I explained to him the 
exact position in which I stand, and how my new poem, or ' Troy/ 
or both, must be sacrificed to pay my debts, and he saw instantly, 
as a matter of business — a matter of business, my dear, that you 
can't understand, how much wiser it would be to bide a fitting 
time instead of trying to force works of art or literature upon the 
market. In six weeks ' Troy ' will be finished. I shall exhibit it 
at the Eoyal Academy next spring, and if it only brings me five or 
six hundred pounds (the half of its real value) it will go a great 
way towards setting us straight." 

"And meanwhile, Major Seton has helped us? Tell me, papa, 
I would rather know." 

" Certainly, Archie, you shall know. I like you to hear everj^- 
thing that is in our good old friend's favour. In the mean while 
Seton advances me one thousand pounds, to be repaid him with 
the interest of fifty pounds this day year. "We shall thus be 


enabled to pay off every farthing of our foreign debts, to sacrifice 
neither * Troy ' nor my book, and to surround ourselves in our 
poor little parsonage with objects o:^ art and grace instead of the 
mere bodily necessities, the bare walls and chairs and tables, with 
which most country parsons are I fancy content ! Ealph is a 
shrewd fellow," he added ; '' no doubt of that. The Scotch blood 
shows in his aptness for business if in nothing else. Five per 
cent, without risk is an investment one does not meet with every 
day. He told me so himself." 

Archie was silent. To argue with her father on money matters 
was, she well knew, fruitless. He believed, simply, that he 
was acting with the nicest honour in paying his foreign debtors 
out of another man's money ; believed, implicitly, that ' Troy ' 
would sell for five hundred guineas. Her quick imagination 
l^ictured liim already, dreaming and poetizing, and living beyond 
his means (that was inevitable) in the new rectory ; the house filled 
•with f)ictures and cabinets. ' Troy ' unsold, and the interest even 
of that thousand pounds of Ealpb's never paid. " You know best, 
papa," with a quiet little reproach in her voice ; "and when it is 
a question of selling your pictures or poems, I don't like to speak 
a word. But I do wish we could have started in England without 
being under obKgation to any one." 

" You make me feel my want of success, Archie, when you say 
that," was his answer. Whenever money affairs were talked of 
Mr LoA^ell had a trick of falling back plaintively upon his hard 
work and his evil luck, as though to turn aside his listener from 
the unwelcome subject. "I have not — ^^God knows I have not 
failed, as far as labour goes, one year since you were bom. Only 
the reward has been tardy of coming ! If I had had the luck of 
other men, vTiters and painters, inferior to me in ability, you would 
not have to reproach me now, child, ■\nth my want of independ- 

A flush passed OA^er his pale face, and in a moment Archie re- 
pented of what she had said, and fell to comforting him — the wise 
head of seventeen comforting the baby of forty-live — as she had 
done all her life whenever the word " failure " passed his lips. 
" They will not go on misunderstanding you for ever, dear. When 
we live in England you'll be able to know the Eoyal Academy 


people personally, and when tliey know you tliey will be sure to 
like you, and to accept your picture. I dare say it's a great deal 
more favour tlian merit, if we really knew, that gets pictures and 
poems accepted in London — and your new poem must be liked, I 
am sure of it. There is only a quarter of a canto to finish still, is 
there, papa 1 " 

And having now started her father upon the subject, which to 
him embraced all other interests of life, Archie felt, with intense 
relief, that this at least would be no time for her own confession. 
She had meant faithfully to tell him everything during her walk 
hon^e. Every word she had spoken had been, in reality, a prelude 
to the confession she was seeking to make. Yet now that chance 
seemed to have turned the opportunity for confession aside, she was 
thankful exceedingly for the reprieve. Let him be at peace to-day 
at all events, x^oor fellow ! Let him be happy in the discussion of 
his new and brightened prospects, and to-morrow when she had 
had a night to think over it all, and frame her story into the words 
that should pain him least, she would tell him and Bettina together 
what she had done. 

Just as they reached their house in the Eue d'Artois they were 
met by Captain Waters, dressed in the height of French watering- 
place fashion, and smoking his twelfth, or final cigarette before 
dinner. As Archie and her father approached he put himself so 
resolutely, hat in hand, in their path, that Mr Lovell, who ordin- 
arily shimned all the English world of Morteville, felt himself 
constrained to stop. 

"A fine evening, Miss Wilson. You have been taking your 
usual stroll on the sands, I suppose ? " 

" Xo, Captain Waters, we have been on the pier seeing a friend 
of ours away by the steamer." 

It was new for the Lovell family to possess a friend in Morteville, 
and Archie felt a little proud of announcing the fact. 

" Your friend will have a fine passage, then. It was very calm 
at sea last night, was it not 1 " 

"I — I believe so," she answered, her face flushing scarlet at the 
suddenness of the question. "But I was told you went over to 
the Calais fetes yesterday. Captain Waters. You ought to know.'' 

*' My wife and myself spent yesterday in Amiens," remarked Mr 


Lovell, innocently. '^ We were at the sale of tlie Chateau Floriac, 
and only returned this morning. It was one of the most extra- 
ordinary sales of old and valuable wood-carvings that I remember 
to have seen in Trance, Captain Waters. I purchased myself a 
hoiiheiir diojour that is known, historically, to have been carved 
for Madame de Pompadour, and a clock — but I don't know whether 
you are a connoisseur in the artifice of that particular period, 

''I believe I am a connoisseur in the artifices of all periods and 
all nations," answered Waters, with an imperceptible smile, and a 
glance at Archie, whose mm^Qdi finesse and insolence it would be 
hard to describe. ^'But my knowledge," he added, addressing 
himself deferentially to !Mr Lovell, " or what passes to myself for 
Imowledge in such matters, would be contemptible compared to 
yours. I have long heard that in all matters of antiquarian art 
your judgment is simply unrivalled." 

" Well — yes — I believe it is the one subject I know something 
about," replied IMr Lovell, for whose easily-pleased vanity no flat- 
tery was too palpable. " In such rare intervals of leisure as I have 
been able to snatch from my own work, I have dabbled for years 
in bricbracquerie aD. over Europe, and with tolerable success." 

"xVnd by this time must have quite a collection of art trea- 
sures % " said Waters, who seemed determined to prolong the con- 
versation. " You have not got them with you here in Morteville, 
of course ? " 

'' Xo, no," answered Mr LoveU. " My poor art treasures, as you 
are pleased to call them, are in Paris, and will remain there till I 
take them with me to England — I hope, in two or three weeks 
from the present time." 

Captain Waters was politely interested at once in Mr Wilson's 
departure ; had no idea that Morteville was so soon to lose them ; 
and poor Mr Lovell in his simplicity began forthwith to expatiate 
on his plans, while Archie, her heart swelling with indignant dis- 
gust, stood silently by and listened. She knew her father's 
peculiarity on this point of old. Shy to the most painful degree, 
shy to such an extent that he would walk any number of miles 
sooner than have to stop and speak to an acquaintance in the 
street, Mr Lovell, in the hands of a man like Waters, could, with 


one or two well-timed compliments, be drawn into the foolisli con- 
fidence of a cliild. 

"We have been living very quietly indeed, here in Morteville, 
Captain Waters," he said at last, "which must explain the want 
of hospitality I have sho^vTi to my friends, yourself among others ; " 
r.e had spoken to Waters about twice in his life before ; "friends 
whom under different circumstances it would have given me real 
pleasure to entertain ; but if you ever come to our part of the 
country I shall be ha^Dpy, very happy indeed, to see you." He 
was meditating a sidelong escape to the house as he said this ; and 
thought that a hazy offer of distant hospitality might -be the easiest 
way of covering his retreat. 

Captain Waters raised his hat, in his courteous foreign fasliion, 
and expressed the pleasure it would give him to renew Mr Wilson's 
acquaintance. "In — in Leicestershire, I think you saidi" he 
added, carelessly. "A county I know remarkably well, and often 
visit." " 

"1^0, in Staffordshire; Hatton, in Staffordshire," said Mr 
Lovell ; " stay, I w411 give you the address." And he took out a 
card and wrote upon it in pencil his address, "The Honourable 
and Eev. Frederick Lovell, Hatton, Staffordshire ; " then shaking 
his friend's hand, with warmth prompted by his intense nervous 
desire to get quit of him, ran away into the house. 

Captain Waters examined the card curiously for a minute. 
"The Honourable and Eev. Frederick Lovell, Miss Wilson T' he 
remarked, raising Ms eyes to Archie's face. " I must really ask 
you to decipher this mystery for me. Who is the Honourable and 
Eeverend Frederick Lovell ] and why has Mr Wilson been kind 
enough to give me his address 1 " 

'■ The Eeverend Frederick Lovell is my father," answered Archie, 
stiffly ; "I am sure I cannot tell why he gave you his address." 

She moved, as though to follow her father into the house, but 
Captain Waters had placed himself in such a position that she 
could not pass mthout actually requesting him to move. " And 
— my question may seem indiscreet," he continued ; " but why 
have we here in Morteville not known the honourable and reverend 
character of the gentleman who was living among us 1 " 

" Because, living in such a place, and among sucJt people, my 



father found it convenient to pass under an assumed name," cried 
Arcliie, "with, a superb toss of her head. " Are you satisfied, Cap- 
tain Waters?" 

" Oh, entirely," answered Waters, with a half -smile. " Living 
in such a place, and among such peoj^le, the Honourable Frederick 
Lovell has showed great wisdom, I think, in concealing his name. 
How long has your papa been rector of Hatton, Miss Wilson 1 — 
Miss Lovell, I really beg your pardon for falling back into old bad 

"There is no need to apologize — indeed I hardly see why you 
should talk of old habits ; did we ever speak to each other in our 
lives before, Captain Waters 1 My father has been rector of Hat- 
ton about four days. The old rector died a week or so ago, and 
Lord Lovell, my grandfather, has given the living to papa. I 
must really ask you to let me pass, please." 

She swept past him with the manner of a little queen, and tui'n- 
ing slightly as soon as she found herself within the shelter of their 
own door, gave him a freezing inclination of her head, as much as 
to say, " Go ! I have dismissed you ! " 

Captain Waters admired Archie Lovell warmly at this minute. 
That she suspected his possession of her secret he was certain ; 
that she dared to brave him, answer his impertinent questions with 
impertinent answers, and stand looking at him now with this 
air of regal dismissal, pleased' him infinitely. To have pos- 
sessed the secret of any ordinary English school-girl of her age 
would have ofi'ered poor chance either of profit or amusement to 
himself. An ordinary school-girl who would have blushed and 
cried, and supplicated to liim to spare her, and then probably have 
gone, straightway, and betrayed herself to her mamma ! To 
possess the secret of a girl like this, a girl who, at her age, had a 
woman's courage as well as a woman's duplicity, might, well worked, 
be really a little mine of diversion and of profit to him. For a 
secret that escapade evidently was : Mr Lo veil's innocent account 
of liis journey to Amiens had betrayed so much to him, and how- 
ever fool-hardy the girl had been when she was Miss Wilson, it 
was almost mathematically clear to Captain Waters' perception 
that Miss Lovell, the daughter of the Honourable and Reverend 
rector of Hatton, would be sage! 


It was the habit of this man's life, a necessity forced upon him 
by his profession, perhaps, to assign to every human creature with 
whom he was tlirown the worst, the most selfish motives possible. 
*'My lot has been cast among bad specimens of humanity," he 
would say, candidly, in speaking of his own cynicism. ''Eor more 
years than I can count the worst people in the worst continental 
towns have been my study, and when by accident I have to deal 
with the really good and virtuous, I mechanically apply the same 
low standard to them as to the rest. And it is really curious to 
remark," he would add, putting up his eye-glass, and looking 
languidly in his listener's face, *^ curious, very, to remark how 
nicely the same measure seems to fit everybody after all ! " 

" And you will leave Morteville soon, then, I fear. Miss Lovell, 
from what your papa said ? " 

''Very soon, I hope, Captain Waters. I am heartily glad to 
get away from the place, and from everything connected with it." 

" Everything, Miss Lovell ? Can you really say so 1 Will you 
have no one pleasant recollection of poor little Morteville 1 N'o 
walk, no ball, at which you have enjoyed yourself?" 

''ISTo; there is not one circumstance, and certainly not one 
person here, that I want to remember." But still she did not go 
away. Something in the expression of Waters' face seemed to 
constrain her, in spite of her repugnance for the man, to hear all 
that he had to say. 

" I understand. The past and all belonging to it, pleasant or 
the reverse, is to be buried. Miss Lovell " — abruptly — " is Hatton, 
in Staffordshire, anywhere in the neighbourhood of Durant's Court, 
do you know ? " 

Her heart beat so violently that for a moment she could not 
trust herself to speak ; then, with a supreme effort of self-command, 
she answered, as indifferently as she could, yes. The rectory 
at Hatton was, she had heard, about two miles distant from 
Durant's Court. 

" Ah ! that will be charming for all parties," said Waters, pleas- 
antly. "No wonder. Miss Lovell, that you are glad to leave 
Morteville. I should like very much myself to meet Gerald Durant 
again," he added. ''He was an uncommonly pleasant fellow in 
his way, capital companion, and all that, but not quite the stamp 

Q 2 


of man, perhaps, one could make a friend of. Shifty, rather ; a 
new caprice every five minutes ; no sooner winning a thing than 
he was sure to tire of it. You agree with me, Miss Lovell 1 " 

''I don't know, I'm sure," cried Ai'chie, desperately. "What 
should I know of Mr Durant 1 Why do you ask me "? " 

Waters advanced a step within the open doorway, and put his 
head quite close to Archie's. " Miss Lovell," he whispered, '• I 
am sorry that you treat me with so little confidence. You are 
wrong, I think ; for I wish — upon my soul I wish — to stand your 
friend ; and I have it in my power to do so. Do you believe me 1 " 

A look of frightened disgust was all her answer ; but Captain 
Waters did not appear in the slightest degree discountenanced. 
" This is not the time to tell you what I mean," he went on, still 
in a half -whisper, and in the same odious closeness of position. 
" What I have got to say will take time, and should be said in a 
place" — and as he spoke he glanced at Madame Brun's open 
window — "where there is no possibility of eaves-droppers. Now, 
if I might hope to meet you on the Greve of a morning 1 To- 
morrow morning, for example ? " 

" I don't know, I'm sure. What can you have to tell me 1 " 
she stammered. " If you want to say anything, say it now. When 
I walk on the Greve it is mth papa." 

Just at this moment Jeanneton — ^hot and indignant still, from 
her recent encounters with Bettina — came forth ; laden mth straw, 
Dass dust, and deposit of all kinds from the cases of bric-a-brac, on 
ner way to the court. At the sight of mademoiselle in conversation 
with another gentleman (and a very pretty little gentleman, 
Jeanneton decided, as she mentally compared Waters with Major 
Seton), she stopped short, opened her mouth wide, and prepared 
to listen or join in the conversation, according to the custom of 
French servants of her class. 

AYaters was not slow at turning her opportune appearance to 
account. " You see this is not a place to talk in. Miss Lovell," he 
urged, but in a coldly-deferential manner, now that the servant's 
eyes were upon them. " Tell me, please, if I can see you on the 
Greve to-morrow, or not? There is a very impleasant story going 
the round of the place to-day, which makes it my duty to com- 
municate with some member of your family. Can you meet me, 


or," he added this with marked emphasis, '^ shall my coramimica- 
tion be made in writing to Mr Lovell himseK?" 

He had found out the way to subjugate her at last. At the 
mention of her father, at the thought of what this story must be 
tliat Waters threatened to write to him about, every tinge of colour 
forsook Archie's face. She clasped her hands together as if a 
sharp bodily pain had smitten her. " ]N'o, no, Captain Waters ! 
^mte nothing, say nothing to papa, and I will meet you, whenever 
you choose. On the Greve, if you will, to-morrow morning. 
Only, if he is with me, say nothing please till I can manage to see 
you alone ! We always like to spare poor papa any trouble that 
we can," she added half apologetically, and lifting her eyes with an 
expression of mute entreaty to Captain Waters' impassive face. 

" Don't be afraid, Miss Lovell ; I shall behave with the most 
perfect discretion in every way, you may rest assured. To-morrow 
morning on the Greve then ; between ten and eleven will not be 
too early ? And in the mean time, mademoiselle, au plaisir de vous 

He took his hat off to the ground, then sauntered jaimtily away 
down the Rue d'Artois, twirKng his diminutive cane in one little 
well-gloved hand, with the other alternately earessing his pointed, 
flaxen moustache, and putting up his eye-glass, but with dilettante 
cariosity rather than impertinence, at every woman who chanced 
to pass him on the trottoir. 

"And this is respectabihty," thought Archie, bitterly. "This 
is Philistinism, and the kind of price one has to pay for it ! Oh ! 
that the rector of Hatton hadn't died, and that I might have dared 
tell Ealph the truth, and bade this man and every one else in 
Morteville do their worst ! " 

And with a hard sullen look, such as in all her happy Bohemian 
life her face had never worn before ; her teeth set, her eyes fixed 
and dilated till all their blue seemed gone ; she stood and watched 
Captain Waters' retreating figure till it was out of sight. 



Archie's confession. 

In all the grecit and solemn crises of licr earthly pilgrmiage — 
creditors pressing them more sorely than their wont ; old Lord 
LoveH returning inhuman answers to appeals for money ; poor 
Frederick's pictures making their periodical journeys home, unsold, 
from London — the instant devastation, or, as- she termed it herself, 
" setting to rights " of the entire clothing of the household, had 
been, for years past, an unfailing source of comfort to Bettina's 
troubled spirit. 

This devastation, a kind of sacrifice laid upon the altar of the 
Dil innates — and having its origin, doubtless, in that mysterious 
instinct which has made man from the earliest ages believe in some 
occult power of propitiatory offerings to avert impending grief — 
had, indeed, by force of habit become incorporated at length as a 
vital, or integral, part of Bettina's religion. And so to-day, 
although the news of coming into four hundred a year, besides the 
glebe, was an occasion rather for thanksgiving than humiliation, 
her heart, staunch to its traditions, had flown (after due preliminary 
torture of the acolyte, Jeanneton) to the formal celebration of the 
rites or services of her creed for relief. 

iN'ow the first feature in these rites was to take out everybody's 
clothes from their difi'erent drawers and cupboards, and to pile them 
in heaps on beds, chairs, and all other available pieces of furnitiu'e 
round the rooms : the second, to sort them over, or subdivide them 
indefinitely over the floors until there was no place left on which 
to plant the sole of the foot : the third, to sit do'wn and cry over 
every one's extravagance, Archie's growth, and the ravages of 
moth : and the last, to make long lists, never looked at again by 
human eye, of every article of clothing the family possessed, and 
then return them, meekly, and with no discernible result whatever 
of her labours, to their place. The moment that Archie and her 
father left the house mth Major Seton, Bettina prepared herself 
for action ; and rushing away to Mr LoveU's room, threw herself, 
with true fanatical ardour, upon the first initiatory task of turning 


every piece of furniture it possessed inside out. This done, she 
had devoted haK an horn? or so to the dismemberment of her own 
bureaus ; then returned, meted out and subdivided her husband's 
wardrobe until tall p}T:amids of cloth (looking each of them not 
very unlike Mr Lovell himself) were dotted at random all over his 
floor ; and finally, faithful to her principle of making every part of 
the habitation untenable at the same moment, had betaken herself, 
after a discursive but thorough routing of two presses of house 
linen on her road, to Archie's room. 

The usual shortcomings with regard to hooks and buttons ; the 
usual chaos of gloves that wouldn't match ; unmended stockings ; 
boots spoilt with salt water, and frocks grown too short in the 
skirt ; " and every one of her white dresses in the wash at once," 
thought Eettina, shaking her head despondently, as with paper and 
pencil in her hand she sought in vain for any coherent article 
Avherewith to head her list. " I'd better begin with the ball-dress 
after all. That at least must be in a condition to describe." And 
with honourable pride she unpinned the white linen wrapper in 
which she had encased all the paraphernalia of Arcliie's one night 
of dissipation, and prepared herself to take a leisurely inventory of 
its contents. 

" Upper skirt of white grenadine : item, puffed under skirt of 
ditto : item, wdiite silk body and trimmings : item, clear Swiss 
muslin skirt." The upper skirt, the puffed skirt, the white silk 
body and trimmings, all there to cry "adsum." But where was 
the clear Swiss muslin skirt 1 

With the tightening of the heart that is said to prelude the on- 
coming of any dread discovery, Bettina made a convulsive dash at 
a tower of half-clean skirts resting on poor Arcliie's little bed, and 
found it. It ! The skirt for which she had paid two francs fifty 
centimes the metre, which her own hands had folded and left fair 
and unsullied vdih. the rest, now a blackened tumbled rag ! (I 
record what Bettina thought) trodden out in the hem ; torn away 
from the gathers ; and with a good half-yard of mingled dust and 
mud as a trimming round the bottom of the skirt. 

I\Irs Lovell staggered back against the washstand — the only 
thing untenanted by clothes in the room — and one solitary word 
rose to her lips-— Jeanneton ! As a clever detective by a single, 



seemingly mmnportaiit fact — tlie impress of a foot, the wadding 
out of a pistol — first gets hold of a clue that shall enable him to 
follow the tortuous windings of crime, and ultimately discover its 
guilty author, so did Bettina, on the spot, evolve a whole labyrinth 
of mystery and of crime from the condition of those nine yards of 
torn and blackened muslin. And the key-note to that crime, the 
solution to that mystery was — Jeanneton. 

Mrs Lovell had long held opinions from Avhich no argument 
could move her, as to the fatal results of allowing foreign servant- 
girls their liberty with regard to processions, fetes, balls, and the 
like diversions. " We know w^hat such things would lead to in 
England," she used to say, when Mr Lovell would try to put in a 
■word about the allowance to be made for varying custom, tempera- 
ment, rehgions, in different countries ; " the depraved inclinations 
of the lower classes mtcst be the same everywhere." Here was 
blackest confirmation of her opinions ! Here was refutation direct 
of all fine sentimental theories about the necessity of giving these 
light-hearted peasants their innocent amusements ! Here was 
proof incontestable of what such amusement and such theories led 
to ! In the absence of her master and mistress — doubtless when 
Archie, poor child, was asleep — this creature had dressed herself 
up in all the finery she could collect ; gone off to some guingette, 
vsome Godless place of unliallowed out-of-door revelry, and waltzed 
there (in muslin that cost two francs fifty centimes the metre) till 

""Well for me if my trinkets are right," thought Bettina. 
""Well for me if the light-hearted peasant did not make herself up 
a cap out of my best point-lace ! " And actually bristling with 
rage, so vividly did this revolting image rise before her imagination, 
she stalked off, bearing on her arm the muslin skirt, the direct and 
positive proof of the corpus delicti, into her o^vn apartment. 

A moment's glance told her that her point d'Alen9on was intact, 
and her jewel-box also. "The woman would not risk a felony," 
she thought, with crusliing bitterness. " Point-lace and trinkets 
would have set the secret police upon her track at once." The 
secret police was one of Bettina's strongest beliefs ; was, indeed, 
the only portion of the French nation for wliom she had the 


faintest resi^ect. '' Pocket-handkerchiefs, silk stockings, the nice 
etceteras of the toilet, would he nearer her mark." 

However, not a handkerchief, not a stocking, not an etcetera of 
any kind was missing ; and Bettina was about to give up further 
search, half satisfied, half in disappointment — so inscrutable is 
woman's nature ! — when her eyes fell upon a minute portion of 
silver-paper, sticking out from one corner of the lid of her best 
parasol case; the grey silk that dear Madame Bonnechose of 
Amiens had presented to her on l^ew Year's day. To open the 
case, to unfold the paper ^vrappings, and put up the parasol, was 
the work of a second : and now — now a sight did meet Mrs LoveU's 
gaze which made the blood turn to fire witliin her veins. The 
parasol which she had last worn on Easter Sunday, had last gazed 
at in pristine immaculate purity, was ridged, engrained, covered 
with marks of black ; a certain wavy appearance' round the edge 
of these defilements showed that a guilty hand had tried in vain 
to rub them out, and a faint smell of benzine, extracted doubtless 
from her own bottle on the chimney-piece, told how the commission 
of the whole crime must have been of recent date. 

"She could not have worn a parasol at night ;" this was Mrs 
Lovell's first thought. " Then Archie must have given her leave 
to go out in the day-time," her second. And resolved to bring the 
offender to instant and condign punishment, she went forth that 
moment into the corridor and called aloud, and in no sweet or 
conciliatory tone, to her stepdaughter to come to her. 

Archie had been in the house about five minutes, and was sitting 
alone in the salon in her walking dress, thinking still of the bless- 
ings of Philistinism, when she heard the sharp metallic ring of Mrs 
LoveU's voice. 

" Oh, now for the old story," thought the girl ; " so many but- 
tons wanting, so many boots spoilt, so many dresses at the wash. 
What a pleasant preface to all that I have got to say ! " And she 
sauntered slowly off to Bettina's room, stopping to look out of every 
window she passed on the way, and singing aloud little Italian 
snatches about republicanism and liberty, as it was her habit to 
do whenever she felt that one of her stepmother's sermons vras in 
store for her. 


" Well, Bettina, child, what is it ? " she cried, as she entered the 
room, throwing up her sailor's hat in the air and catching it as she 
walked. "Fourteen hooks and eyes, twenty-two buttons, a 
dozen — " 

And then Miss Lovell stopped short — stopped short; and as 
long as she lived, I fancy, never played at ball with her hat again ! 
Ostentatiously outspread upon two chairs before her was the white 
muslin skirt ; the grey parasol open on the floor ; the whole air of 
the room faintly redolent of benzine ; and Bettina, like an angry 
spirit, standing, pointing, with heated face and vengeful eyes, to 
these mute evidences of her guilt. 

" You — you want me, Bettina 1 " she stammered. 

!Mrs Lovell for answer walked straight up to the door, shut and 
locked it, and then returned to her stepdaughter's side. " Archie," 
she said, "I don't say to you tell me the truth. That, I believe, 
you always do. I ask you a plain question, and knoAv that you 
will answer it on your honour. "Why did you let Jeanneton go 
out after all I said to you ? " 

'^Because she wanted to go," said Archie, her eyes sinking on 
the floor. "She wanted a holiday, and I thought it hard she 
should keep in, only me to wait on, and I let her go." 

"At what time?" 

"At about two or three — I really did not look at the clock." 

" And when did she return 1 " 

"When did she return*?" faltered the girl, her heart beating so 
loud that she thought Bettina must have heard its throbs. 

"Yes: when did she return? Speak out, child. I am not 
going to be angry with you." 

" She came back — oh, Bettina, don't send her away — don't do 
anything to prevent other people taking her when we're gone. She 
came back this morning about eight. You know her village is a 
good two leagues away. I know she wanted to go and see her 
grandfather — " 

" Her grandfather ! " cried Bettina, in the tone which among 
women of her stamp so admirably takes the place of the strong 
words current among wicked men ; " her grandfather, indeed. 
Yes, I suppose so. Light-hearted foreign peasants must have 
their amusements, your papa says, and their family affections too : 


their grandfather's! and must visit them in tlieir mistress's 
clothes : clear muslin slips at two-fifty the metre, and French-grey 
parasols. Oh, certainly ! " 

Mrs Lovell seated herself in a position of acrid discomfort upon 
about three inches of a heavily-piled chair ; and tapped one of her 
feet viciously upon the floor for a minute or so. ''I don't know 
that I was ever so insulted by a servant in my life before," she 
burst forth at last. " And it's not for the worth of the things 
alone — not for the worth of the things she has destroyed — but for 
her insolence in wearing them, and her cruelty in leaving you. 
Away all night, and you, child as you are, here alone ! You 
might have been murdered ! we might have lost every ounce of 
plate we are worth ! but she shall go this day. Don't speak a 
word, Archie, don't speak a word." Bettina's eyes were in a 
blaze. " I'm not angry with you now, but I shall be if you speak 
a word. She shall go this day. A parasol that would have lasted 
me for years, and worked in to the very grain of the silk with 
this filthy benzine. Let no one ever tell me French servants are 
not depraved again — depraved to the very core ! " 

Then Archie raised her eyes to her stepmother's face : " Eettina," 
she cried, with desperate courage; *'you are wrong. It was not 
Jeanneton who took the parasol, but me. I wanted to look nice, 
and I put on my new slip for a dress, and took your parasol, and 
I tried to clean it this morning, so that you shouldn't know, and 
— and somehow the stuff made it run, and I'll save all my money, 
and buy you another when we go to England ! " she added, pite- 
ously. " Indeed, indeed I will, Bettina." 

Mrs Lovell rose ; and without saying a word, re-examined the 
muslin skirt, breadth by breadth, the torn hem, the disorganized 
gathers, the half-yard of black mud for trimming. *' Archie," she 
said, when her examination was over; "you are not telling me 
the truth. You are trying to screen Jeanneton, but it will not do. 
Where do you mean to tell me that you wore these things 1 " 

" On the pier first," began Archie, with thickening breath. 

"But on the pier there is no black mud at all," interrupted 
Bettina ; and on the pier you would not have had your clothes 
torn off your back ; and on the pier the parasol would not have 
got grimed in dirt. Dirt! dirt is no word for it. 'Tis simply 

S36 AncaiE LOVELL. 

black — London black ! and what beats my comprehension to 
understand is how the woman, vicious as she is, could have con- 
trived to get it into such a state." 

And now Archie, with hands tight clasped over her beating 
heart, felt that the time had come when she must speak. " Lon- 
don black. You are quite right. That's what it is, Bettina, 
and I tell you I did it, and Jeanneton is no more to blame 
than you." 

Bettina stared at her in blank stupefaction. " I don't know 
what you mean, child," she cried, feeling frightened, she knew not 
why. " I don't know what nonsense this is that you are trying 
to tell me. You ! you have never been in London since you were 

"And if I was to tell you that I Jiave!^' exclaimed Arcliie, 
with sudden energy ; '' that I walked down to the pier to see Mr 
Durant off, and then the sea looked so nice that I went out ^nth 
him in a boat, and then — only to see it, you know — I went on 
board the steamer, and it started before I knew what I was about, 
and I went on to London, and stayed there two hours or more, and 
came back in the middle of the night by myself — if I was to tell 
you all this, and declare it to be true, what should you say to me, 

The parasol, the skirt, clrojDped out of Mrs Lovell's hands : a 
sickly greenish hue overspread her face. 

''Does anybody know?" she gasped. The strongest instinct 
of her nature holding her true, even in an exigence like this, to 
the sacred cause of conventionality rather than of abstract right. 

''JSTo one," answered Archie, boldly ; ''or to the best of my be- 
lief no one. Jeanneton had left before I started, and there was 
no one on the pier when I came back this morning — except 
Captain Waters, and I don't believe it possible that he could have 
seen me." 

" And you — were in London — alone — with Mr Durant 1 " but 
no words, no punctuation, can express the series of little spasms 
mth which Bettina jerked out these questions. " Alone, you sa}^, 
and they live close to your father's rectory. Archie, miserable 
child, do you know what this is that you have done 1 " 

*' Certainly, I know," cried Miss Lovell, not without a half-smile 

Archie's confession. 237 

at the ludicrous stony terror of Bettina's face. " I went on board 
the steamer, foolishly I'll allow, and off it started, and — " 

''And you have ruined us ! Just that. Euined your father and 
me and yourself ! ^N'ow laugh if you like ! " Mrs Lovell ^yept. 
" After the religious way I've brought yon up," she sobbed, " and 
to choose the very time when your papa is made a dignitary of the 
church to disgrace yourself — " 

And she rocked herself in a manner highly suggestive of 
hysterics from side to side as she sat. 

Archie watched her stepmother with a curious set look about 
her handsome lips ; a curious hard expression in her blue eyes. 
*' You are thoroughly unjust to me, Bettina," she said at last. *' I 
am as sorry about the parasol as you can be, and about the expense 
too, for we shall have to send Mr Durant forty-two shillings and 
a sixpence that he lent me on the journey, and I know now 
I was foolish to go on board the steamer, or even to see him off at 
all if you like. But when you use such words as disgrace and 
ruin, I say you are unjust. I have done nothing wrong. I have 
disgraced nobody." 

And she walked across the room and seated herself sullenly by 
the window ; the window from whence she had watched Ealph 
Seton arrive that morning. " If I had told papa first, as I ought 
to have done, I shouldn't have been judged so harshly!" she 
cried, after a silence, broken only by occasional rushing sobs on 
the part of Bettina. '' Papa will never call me disgraced as long 
as I do nothing that is really wrong." 

*'No, your papa will not see disgrace when all other people 
would see it!" answered Bettina. "His simplicity, his trust, 
should have kept you straight." Ah, how well do women know 
where to pierce through the weakest part of each other's armour ! 
" Your papa lives in his clocks and his cabinets, and knows about 
as much of the world of men and women as a baby. He would 
think nothing of it, poor fellow ; but when all the world, when 
his parishioners, when the family at the Court, know of it, it's not 
very difficult to foretell what they will say of him ! " 

"And what, pray?" exclaimed Archie, aflush with indignation 
at the bare mention of her father being lightly spoken of. " Sup- 
posing everything known — supposing people should call me foolish 


or wicked or anything they choose, what has that got to do with 
papa 1 " 

" Everything," answered Mrs Lovell, curtly. " It has got every- 
thing to do with him, and his good name, and his reputation, and 
liis prospects in life. If you were a hoy, Archie — and if it wasn't 
like disputing with Providence, I wish from my heart you were one 
— you might be as wild as wild can be. You might commit any 
crime — forgery even — for I remember there was the Earl of Some- 
body's eldest son, only I'm too agitated to remember names — and 
still pull round, and everything be forgotten. But a girl ! ^o 
false step a girl makes caji be got over, unless perhaps in the very 
highest circles, which we are not. Oh, it's very well to say there 
is no real difference ! " This, as Archie, with quivering lips, was 
about to speak. ''And I know the Scripture makes none ; and, 
indeed, I always myself have thought it hard. . . . However " — 
and Bettina rescued herself ^dth a start from the dreadful depths 
of heresy to which she was falling — " what we've got to think of 
is what the world says. You have done one of the things no 
woman can ever recover from if it becomes known. You have 
been away — ^that I should sit here and say it calmly — for hours 
and hours in the company of a young man, and your good name is 
as much gone— but I'm too agitated, too miserable, to go into de- 
tails. ^0 honest young girl knowing this would associate with 
you. jSTo man knowing it would marry you. And as to the coimty 
famihes noticing us — •" 

Mrs Lovell covered up her face in her pocket-handkerchief, and 
for a minute or two there was dead silence between them. Then 
Archie left her place by the window, crossed the room, and stood 
erect and tearless, but white to her very lips, by her step-mother's 
side. " Bettina," she said, in a voice from which all the old fresh 
childish ring seemed to have suddenly died, " is this true that you 
are telling me ? "Would papa be so badly spoken of if this thing 
that I have done got known?" 

"He would be bli— bli — blighted," sobbed Bettina, fiercely. 
"For another man it would be bad enough, but for a clergyman 
such disgrace — " 

''That will do," interrupted Archie. "You need not repeat 
that word so often, I think. And no one would marry me ! " with 

Archie's confession. 239 

a little hard attempt at a laugh, at this ; ''and the families in the 
county Avouldn't know us ! "Would they continue to be on terms 
^Yiih. Mr Gerald Durant, do you suppose?" 

" Archie, don't drive me wild by asking such absurd c|uestions ! 
You, a girl of seventeen, to talk like a child of seven ! Mr Gerald 
Durant ! Why, of course, people would look upon the affair as 
something rather in liis favour than otherwise. Who ever thinks 
worse of a young man for such an escapade as this 1 " 

'•But Mr Durant is eight years older than me, Bettina. If 
going to London with him was a thing to disgrace me so fearfully, 
he must have known it, and I would have landed at Calais, when 
the steamer stopped, if he had only spoken a word of all this. I 
went on, as I told him, because a number of the Morteville people 
were there, and I thought papa would be hurt if they got up a 
story about my landing so far away from home alone. Why didn't 
Mr Durant save me when he might have done it ? " 

" Because no one ever saves anybody," said Bettina, bringing 
out this clinching truth with stinging emphasis. " Any one on 
earth hearing the story would say that you were to blame through- 
out, and that Mr Durant just acted as any other young man would 
have done under the circumstances. Save you ! If you had at- 
tended more to yom^ religious exercises, Archie, to the books, the 
evening readings you have made • so light of, you wouldn't have 
looked to anything but yourself, and your own self-respect, to save 
you when the time of temptation came." 

"Ah, unfortunately I was not remembering myself at all just 
then — only papa." And then she turned away, and pacing hur- 
riedly up and down the room, began to think — not of her own 
folly; of her own threatened shame; of the share Gerald had 
really had in her guilt ; of Bettina's, of the world's injustice : these 
thoughts were for the future — but of her father. Her father on 
the threshold of a new Hfe, and with all the honour and peace that 
would have made that life sweet to him, darkened by he7\ 

"Bettina," she exclaimed, stopping at last in her walk, "I don't 
see the absolute necessity of this story of mine ever being known ; 
do you?" 

"That entirely depends," said Mrs Lovell, drearily, her mind at 
once taking hold of the practical, not the moral, difficulty of the 


case. " In the first place, this Mr Gerakl Durant "will be quite 
sure some day to talk about it all himseK — " 

*' INo," interrupted Ai'chie, " I am sure he won't — weak and 
vain though he may be ! " she added, with a suppressed bitterness 
very new to hear in her voice. 

" Well, perhaps not," answered Bettina, " though I woidd never 
trust any man long with a secret that was flattering to his own 
vanity. The next thing is, did any one see you when you landed 
here ? You may think not, but, depend upon it, some one did. 
I've remarked all my life that if you have got on a new dress, or 
are walking with a good acquaintance, or successful in any way, 
people seem to keep indoors on purpose rather than see you ; but 
the moment you're looking shabb}^ or poor, or walking with some- 
body you are ashamed of, you seem to meet everybody you know 
in the world in flocks. Of course, some one saw you. Why, you 
said just now that Captain Waters met you on the pier when you 

"But if — if I could be sure no one else saw me, or of not being 
betrayed by him, would you think it right, for papa's sake, I mean, 
Bettina, that we should try to hush the story of all this up ? " 

"I think," said Bettina, with solemn energy, "that we should 
be wicked and ungrateful to Providence if we did . not do every- 
thing in our power to hush it up ! I think that if, by extraordinary 
good fortune, you did go and return unseen (which I cannot be- 
lierve), we ought never, even among ourselves, to let this thing be 
spoken of again. You are young, child," — and for the first time 
Bettina's face began to soften at the sight of the girl's rigid, tight- 
clasped hands and wide-open tearless eyes — "and I'm not harsh 
on you in my heart, only I know it is just one of the things there 
is no getting over, and Mr Durant engaged to his cousin, too — 
Avhich of course would make all the family harder upon you — and 
after the way I have brought you up ! and just when your papa 
has been made a dignitary of the church and everything . . . how- 
ever, we'll talk over what can be done, and in the right frame, 
Archie, the right and humble frame upon which alone, poor worms 
of an hour as we are ! we can expect a blessing." 

After which curious confusion of entomological and other 
metaphors, Mrs Lovell, mth the peculiar tottering gait which 

Archie's confessiox. 241 

women of her way of thinking invariably assiinie under trouble, 
went off to her own apartment for her smelling-salts, a clean 
pocket-handkerchief, and a pile of good books, with Avhich 
armoury of affliction she presently returned, evidently determined 
to make a night of it in her step-daughter*s room. 

But her step-daughter had no such intention for her. Her first 
horror over at hearing the position in which she stood put into 
words, Archie Lovell's courage, determination, stout rebellious 
spirit, all returned to her. " Bettina," she said, catching hold of 
her step-mother's arm with a suddenness that in her present weak 
state flattened her up, smelling-salts, good books, and all, against 
the door, and, wearing to Mrs Lovell's horror, something of the 
old devil-may-care expression on her face, ''it's a settled thing, is 
it ? I must do my best first to get Captain Waters to be silent, 
and for ourselves we are going, if we can, to tell a falsehood, any 
number of falsehoods, you and I, about this journey of mine to 
London 1 " 

" Tell — oh, Archie ! I hope we shall never have to speak of it 
even while we live." 

" Very well, Bettina, we'll put it as prettily as we can. l^ot 
tell, but act falsehoods. First to papa, of course, for if he knew a 
thing — poor papa ! " her voice faltering, " every one else in the 
world would know it too ; next to the whole of the parishioners, 
churchwardens, whatever the people are called that belong to 
rectors, when I stand by and hear how I have never been in Eng- 
land before, et cetera ; to the family at the Court, above all ; and 
to Major Seton ; and to, or rather with, Mr Durant when I see 
hun; and some day," with the little hard laugh again, 'Ho any 
happy man whom we can deceive into wanting to marry me 1 
This we have decided upon doing — haven't we 1 " 

" Oh, Archie, don't look so hardened ! don't laugh, child, when 
you ought to be on your bended knees, praying that your heart of 
stone might be changed into a heart of flesh ! It's very wicked of 
you to use such a word as falsehood at all. There are circum- 
stances in which even on the highest authority we know that con- 
cealment is permitted. At chapter ten — " 

'' Bettina," interrupted Archie, with the blood mounting crimson 
to her forehead, and stamping one little foot angrily on the floor, 


" for mercy's sake let us have none of this, please ! I have done 
a foolish thing that lasted one day, and now I am going to do a 
mean one that will last all the days of my life ! And of my OAvn 
free will, mind, and not for papa's sake alone. I don't want to he 
disgraced. I don't want not to he noticed. I don't want to think 
that no one would marry me — hut I won't have any goody talk 
ahout it ! I won't hear of texts that bear us out in our meanness 
— as if you couldn't distort some text for everything TNdcked that 
was ever done ! and ahove all, I won't have tears and lamentations 
and smelling-bottles. If we can hush it all up there is no great 
harm done ; and if we cannot, we cannot. In either case there is 
no use crying and bemoaning and pretending to pray to heaven 
when we are only hoping we shan't be found out on earth. You've 
been piling up all papa's clothes into j)yramids as usual, I see, 
Bettina ; and now the best thing you can do is to go and Avrite 
your hst out, aud put them in their places again." 

And Miss Lovell burst into a fit of laughter that if not 
thoroughly real was loud enough to reach Mr Lovell in his paint- 
ing room at the other side of the house, and made him think, and 
rejoice to think, how happy his little girl was at the good fortune 
that had befallen them ! 

Archie laughed on as she watched Bettina obediently bear back 
the books and smelling-bottle to her own room ; and she sang 
aloud — the same kind of songs she sang to the two old English 
ladies in the train — as long as she knew her step-mother's door 
was open, and that she coidd be heard. Only when Mrs Lovell 
had shut herself in, and when all the house was silent, and the 
girl felt that she was alone at last, did the songs die on her lips 
and the laughter too. And then she walked up to her glass, and 
looking hard into her own face for companionship, asked herself, 
blankly, what manner of shame this was that she had incurred. 

Disgrace! Euin! No young girl, if this story was known, 
would associate with her : no man would seek to marry her. 
jBettina said this ; and Bettina understood the world ; and higher 
authority than Bettina had she none. Never in her life before, 
she thought, had she looked so pretty as at this minute. The 
bright blood was burning clear through her dark cheeks. A light 

Archie's confession. 243 

sucli as she never knew that they could wear was in her eyes. Her 
hair, with the evening light its changing hues shone, like an 
aureole of pure gold, around her face. 

An intense pity for herself, an intense regTet for all that she had 
newly thrown away, came into her childish heart. " I will not be 
disgraced, I will not ! " she thought, passionately. " I am too 
good for disgrace and ruin ! Major Seton thought I was pretty — 
didn't his face change when I threw him my myrtle 1 and Gerald 
Durant thought so, and liked me better than Lucia, with all her 
classic lines ! I am pretty ; too pretty not to be liked and admired 
and loved. If I was old, four or five and twenty, and plain, it 
would be different. I think I could be honourable and tell the 
truth then, but not now. I'm only seventeen, and I want people 
to fall in love -svith me, and pay me attention, and tliink me hand- 
some (piquante, mignonne, belle aux yeux bleus— those were 
Gerald's words for me !). I want all the county people to make 
much of papa and to have me at their parties. . . If I look then 
as I do now, Gerald will be sure to ask me to dance oftener than 
Miss Durant the heiress. . . . And Major Seton — ah, how Ralph 
would despise me if he knew to what I have sunk ! what a false- 
hood I have told liim — what a falsehood all my future life is going 
to be ! " 

And at the thought of Ealph the mobile nature softened in a 
moment ; the heart of stone, as Bettina would have said, was 
changed into a heart of flesh. Archie's head sank upon her breast 
for a minute or two ; her lips quivered piteously ; and then a flood 
of the hottest tears that she had ever shed was the unheroic term- 
ination of aU her fortitude and all her courage. 

Quite late in the evening, as Mr Lovell was standing before 
" Tro}^," his pipe in his mouth, and dreaming dreams of greatness 
as was his wont, his daughter came in, neither singing nor chatter- 
ing, but pale, subdued, and silent, and crept up to his side. The 
daylight had well-nigh faded ; but Mr Lovell could see that her 
face was pinched and white ; and that all the glorious tawny hair 
was pinned up tightly, giving her a strange altered look of woman- 
hood, around her head, 

''Archie, my little girl, you are pale," holding her face up be- 

B 2 


tween his liancis, and scrutinizing it closely, ''and all your hair 
pinned and twisted up like an old woman's I Is this some whim 
of Bettina's, or what 1 " 

'' It's my oAvn fancy, papa," she answered, " and you must let 
me keep it so, please. Now that we are going to England, you 
know, it wouldi/t do for me, at my age, to wear my hair hanging 
about like a child's." 

" "Why not "i " said Mr Lovell, " and what are you but a child ] 
If I like to see you so, why should you care for fashion, Archie ? " 

She had to turn her face away before she could answer : it 
caused her such new, such poignant pain to say or look otherwise 
than as she felt to him : then, after a minute, " I care for what 
you think of me more than for all the fashion in the world," she 
said. "You believe thaf? But I know that there are a great 
many things I must alter about myself now. Eunrdng about here 
in MorteviLle, as Archie Wilson, and with you only a poor artist, 
you know, dear, I may have been very well " — (" Very well, in- 
deed," Mr LoveU interpolates) — " but living among English people 
and the daughter of a rector, I should he thought wild and unlike 
other people, and so I'm going to reform myself at once by braid- 
ing up my red hair round my head, and leaving off my sailor's hat, 
and tTjing if I can to look like a lady, not a boy." 

"You will not be as good-lookiug, child. But of course you 
and Bettina will do as you choose ! " 

" And 3^ou will like me just the same, papa 1 " a mstful tremor 
in her voice. " A\niatever I was, plain or pretty, or wicked or 
good, you would like me just the same ! " 

" My little one." This was all Mr Lovell answered : but with 
what a world of tenderness ! every note in the diapason of love 
softly swept by those three words : " My little one ! " 

She took one of liis hands into hers, and so they stood together, 
as their way was at this hour, saying little and both gazing at the 
indistinct glories of " Troy," less unlike nature now than at any 
other hour in the twenty-four, until the canvas insensibly melted 
into the grey waUs of the paintmg-room, and Jeanneton's voice 
was heard generally announcing from the kitchen-door, after the 
manner of a gong or dinner-bell, that supper was on the table, 

" So ends our last look at Troy," remarked Mr Lovell, as they 


turnod to go away ; " or our last look at it in Morteville-sur-mer. 
Seton tells me I am wanted in tlie parish at once, and to-morrow 
morning I shall set about packing up my pictures the first thing." 

'' So ends the last evening of the poor old life," added Arcliie, 
lingering at the threshold of the room where so many peaceful 
hom's of her child's existence had been passed. '' Shall we ever be 
as haj)py now that we are Philistines as we have been here, I 
wonder ? " 

" We shall have four hundred a year, instead of being beggars ! " 
cried Eettina, who had been reading good books and pondering 
over the chances of discovery, until her temper was anything but 
sweet. '^ And I tliink it quite time for you, for you, Archie, to 
have done with that profane talk about Philistines. Pour vous 
Jeanneton," and she turned round with sudden animosity upon 
the servant : " je vous dismisse. Ce jour semaine vous allez ; and, 
sang charadere, vous souvenez, sung charactered 

If their o^vn reputation was to be damaged it was something, 
Bettina felt, to be able to send forth this worthless creature also, 
sang cJiaracfere, to the world. Something. N'ot a satisfaction, of 
course. She was too Christian a woman to take any delight in 
the misfortunes of others. But a duty which, at this season of 
trial, she had an excessively righteous relish in performing. 


A VAMPIRE ''at home.' 

It was getting on for ten o'clock that night when Captain 
Waters, in a full suit of black, and with every nice adjunct of 
dandy evening-dress— primrose gloves, bouquet for the button-hole, 
lilliputian tie, embroidered shirt— faultlessly complete, saimtered 
away from the door of the Coui'onne d'Ai-gent. Dm-ing the last 
few days invitations for a high tea to be held by Miss Marks 
on this thhd evening of August had been cim-ent among the 
English society of MortevHle, and to Miss Marks' house Captain 


Waters, sorely against the conYictions of his life mth regard to 
tea in general, was now going. 

IVIiss Gussy inhabited with her papa a modest lodging in one of 
the least airy parts of Morteville. Of Mr Marks it is needless to 
say more than that he was a frightened-looking, dilapidated old 
person, consuming a good deal of snuff and very little soap (one of 
the poor, broken down old men, redolent in France of absinthe, 
and in England of gin and water, who do possess daughters like 
Gussy, and live in shady suburbs of shady watering-places); to 
whom on all festive occasions Miss Gussy said briefly, " Go to 
bed, pa," and hje went. Of the lodging, that it was entre cour et 
jardin^ surrounded, that is, by high damp walls, take it on which- 
ever side you liked, and pervaded by a nameless flavour of bygone 
meals, mould, and snuff : the ghosts perhaps of generations of old 
lodgers all of the stamp of Mr Marks : the walls covered with dis- 
located chalk-drawings — carved frames and all the work of ISIiss 
jMarks' own fab hand — and the fm-niture generally belonging to 
that type of squalid tawdriness, threadbare finery, gilding, decay, 
and dirt combined, which ordinarily characterizes the third or 
fourth class French lodging-houses of towns like Morteville. A 
type which the pen that drew the boarding-house Yauquer in the 
Pere Goriot alone could reproduce in its integrity. 

Miss Marks you have already seen ; and I have only to record 
that on this special evening she wore, in her capacity of hostess, a 
white muslin frock, with a sash carelessly knotted behind, sleeves 
tied up on the shoulder, like an infant going to be christened, and 
a simple bit of blue ribbon in her hair, "As if she was fifteen, not 
five and thirty," whispered Mrs Maloney to one of her friends the 
minute she entered. ^^ A. waist a yard and a quarter round, and 
a sash. Dear Gussy. how well you are looking ! " and they kiss. 
"The madoima style of braiding back the hair suits your face so 

Mrs Maloney herseK was in a green silk : in the green silk, 
rather — the Maloney silk was a case in speaking of whicli the 
definite article is admissible. Fearfully and wonderfully full- 
dressed — to use the favourite irony of the fashion-books — though 
this ancient beauty loved to be in a ball-room, she held it correct 
taste to appear in what she termed " demmy toilets " at small 


parties. Hence the green silk, chastely trimmed mth imitation 
Cluny lace, was cut high upon the shoulders, but beautifully less, 
as one sees in Sir Peter Lely's portraits, beneath the throat : a style 
admirably suited to the plump Dolly Varden figure -which Mrs 
Maloney in her heart beheved herself to possess. Kows of inex- 
pensive pearl beads were twisted, repeatedly but in vain, around 
the yellow shrivelled neck ; and imder one poor withered ear, play- 
fully nestling amidst hair which " Eatchelor's World-famed Fluid " 
had converted into lustrous purple, shot in side-lights with rainbow 
hues of pink and green, was a single moss rose-bud : emblem of 
love, and youth, and innocent freshness, like its wearer. 

As Waters entered the room, his opera-hat under his arm, his 
eyes fell upon these two young creatures, who both looked up at 
him with a coy little start as he approached ; and intent upon get- 
ting over the work before him as quickly as possible, he at once 
walked across the room in his c[uiet well-bred way, and after 
saluting Miss Marks and receiving her playful reproaches for being 
so late, seated himself on a pile of music-books — the safest resting- 
place in the room Captain Waters thought — at Mrs Maloney's 

"Not playing whist, Mrs Maloney?" he remarked, glancing 
towards a pair of quivering shoulders, and one mammoth elbow, 
on his right, and forming inductive guesses — as a comparative 
anatomist from the shin-bone of a megatherium might infer the 
history of an epoch — as to the probable existence of jMrs O'Eourke's 
partner, adversaries, and a whist-table. " How is it that you and 
Miss Marks are both sitting out to-night 1 " 

" Me 1 " cried the girl Gussy, giddily, if not with the grammar 
one would have expected from an author of her repute. " Me play 
whist ? Why, you have to remember all the horrid cards, and sit 
ever so long without opening yoiu* lips ! Fancy me being silent 
and remembering anything for two minutes together." Archly 
this, and with a toss of her head and a little scream such as 
children do unconsciously break forth with in the bib-and-tucker 
stage of existence. '' We have been playing Beggar-my-neighbour 
for bonbons, Captain Waters," she added with pretty simplicity, 
''and ]\Ir Montacute, dreadful creature ! has already beaten me out 
of two games." 


At the mention of Mr Montacute, Waters looked more closely 
behind the screen of Miss Gussy's volimiinous muslin draperies, 
and at last perceived, very blushing and frightened, little Willie 
Montacute, well secured in a corner, and helplessly gi'asping a time- 
honoui'ed and adhesive pack of cards in his hand. Miss Marks, 
when she did run a victim to earth, had a plan of stopping him by 
thus outstretching herself, bodily as it were, before the path to 
freedom; and with very young boys, or very feeble old men, 
generally found the feint, for one evening, a successful one. 

''Ah, Willie, my boy, how are youV said Waters. '' On your 
feet again, then, after your sea-sickness ? Would you believe it, 
Mrs Maloney, though the sea was as smooth as glass, that fellow 
managed to be ill last night on our way from Calais here 1 " 

" There was a deuced heavj swell," said Master Montacute, 
*'and it wasn't really the sea at all, but the poisonous dinner we 
got at Calais — " 

" Of course," interrupted Waters, good-humouredly ; he is in 
high good hiunour mth every one this evening. "It is never the 
sea that makes people ill. You ought to have come with us," he 
added, turning carelessly to ]\Irs Maloney. "We had a very 
pleasant day, barring the heat, and saw a good deal, really, that 
was worth seeing." 

*' Ahem, so I hear ! " answered the Maloney, drawing down her 
thin upper lip with unction ; " a great deal that, in one deplorable 
sense, Acas very well worth seeing. Captain Waters." 

Waters raised his eyes for half a second to her face, and knew 
that his suspicions were correct j that he had done right in coming 
to this atrocious tea-party after all. " The peasants 1 " he sug- 
gested innocently. '' Well, in masses they did look picturesque, 
didn't they, Miss Marks 1 Just when Monseigneur was blessing 
them, and with flags waving and incense s-winging — but when you 
see them close, the ugliness of the women in this part of France is 
something, really — " 

"Oh, peasants!" interrupted Mrs Maloney, tapping Waters 
upon the arm with her fan vdth. shrivelled playfuhiess. " Sure you 
know as well as I do, Captain Waters, that it's not peasants I'm 
thinking of." 

"What, then?" asked Waters, putting up his cyc-giass and 


looking about him witli tlic dazed, look that liis ■\vliite inanimate 
face was so well fitted to express. " Miss Marks, you were there. 
"Wliat was this interesting sight that I had the stupidity to miss 
at Calais?" 

" Are you siu'e you [did IVIiss it 1 " said Gussy, lowering her 
voice, and bringing her great bird-like eyes to bear upon Waters 
in a way that, it is only just to state, he never would have allowed 
save in the execution of business. "You certainly were in the 
best position on the pier for seeing everything when it occurred." 

Waters was silent : then a faint smile just parted his lips, and 
for a minute or two he examined curiously the bunch of charms 
which hung from his watch-chain. "Ladies are terribly sharp 
observers," he remarked, at length; "but I positively do not 
know what you mean on this particular occasion. My friend Du- 
rant was on board an exclusion steamer boimd for London, and I 
spoke to him. Had this anything to do with the cu'cumstances 
you are speaking of '? " 

" Oh, Captain Waters, how ridiculous you are to pretend such 
innocence ! " cried Gussy, warming. " When you must have seen 
just as plain as I did." 

" Seen what ] I give you my honour I am as utterly in the 
dark as ever." 

But even this valuable offer did not change Miss Marks in her 
opinions. " I can tell by your face that you know everj^hing. 
Captain Waters. Mr Durant had a companion with him, and that 
companion was — Archie Wilson ! " 

Captain Waters literally started two inches from the music- 
books ; his eye-glass fell down mth a crash against the admirable 
counterfeits of diamonds that he wore as shirt studs. " Miss Wil- 
son ? Oh ! " with a change of countenance that, as a bit of finished 
dra"\ving-room comedy, would not have discredited Charles Mathews 
himself. " That is excellent ! Durant run away with IMiss Wil- 
son ! I must tell him about this the first letter I ^vrite. 'S^^ij, 
Archie Wilson is in Morteville at this minute," he added, keenly 
noting all the time the effect that his abilities were producing on 
his audience. " I was talking to her and her father not three 
hours ago at the door of their own house." 

"Oh, so we hear! " cried the Maloney, bridling; "so we hear. 


Miss Wilson is back in Morteville already, and in my liiimTDle 
opinion this shows pretty clearly what kind of person she is. 
After an esclandre of this land to dare to face us all again ! Only 
that — really," casting down her eyes timidly, " I don't know the 
subject is one fit for ns to discuss, I should say that Archie Wilson 
would have shown herself to be a shade — a shade less hardened if 
she had stopped away from Morteville altogether ! " 

Whereupon Captain Waters laughed — smiled, I mean. The 
man had not laughed for years. " I never heard a better thing 
than this in my life!" he exclaimed; ''never. What, in the 
name of everything that is ridiculous, Mrs Maloney, makes you 
fix upon Archie Lovell as Durant's companion ] " 

" Oh, my autliority is Miss Marks ? " answered Maloney, prompt- 
ly. " Let Miss Marks speak for herself. I know nothing what- 
ever about it, except what Miss Marks has told me." 

"Well, then. Miss Marks, will you tell me, please? I shoidd 
not like to lose a word of this new and horrible scandal about 
Archie Wilson." 

And thus adjured, Gussy spoke. She was not as near as Cap- 
tain Waters, of course, but she saw Archie Wilson distinctly at 
Mr Durant's side. Eecognized the sailor's hat and blue veil ; the 
Avhite dress ; recognized the whole figure of the girl herself. Xot 
her face, certainly, for her veil was down ; and the Miss Monta- 
cutes and Mr Moutacute — ^here Willie, with vehement blushes, 
begged that he might not be brought forward in any way — recog- 
nized her, too. By what steamer Miss Wilson might have returned 
she knew not. That Miss Wilson was Mr Durant's companion on 
board the steamer that stopped at the Calais Pier she would 
declare on oath. 

" And I," said Waters, rising quietly from his place, and speak- 
ing in an intentionally clear and distinct voice, " I will declare, on 
oath, that the whole story is impossible ! I went down this 
morning to see the fii'st steamer arrive from Folkestone, and Archie 
Wilson was on the pier before me. I stood not twenty paces from 
her as I waited to see the steamer come in." 

A general hush: even the whist-players interested — for every 
one in the room, every English person in Morteville, had already 
heard Miss Marks' whispered story of Archie's flight. " I happen," 


continued Waters, "luckily for my friend's daughter, to be able 
to swear to her being on the pier before the arrival of the steamer 
this morning, and if you like it, Miss Marks, I can do more. I 
can tell you who the young person you saw on board the Lord of 
the Isles really was." 

" Oh, I'm sure I want to hear no more about it ! " cried Grussy, 
growing scarlet as every pair of eyes in the room turned upon her. 
" If it was not Archie Wilson, and of course you have proved to 
us it was not, Captain Waters, I will say no more about it — and 
■^vill never trust the evidence of my eyes again while I live ! " she 
added, under her breath. 

"Well," said Waters, deliberately, and stroking his floss-silk 
moustache into infinitesimal points while he looked at Gussy's 
face, " as for saying no more about it, Miss Marks, I don't know. 
When an accusation as serious as this has been openly brought 
against a lady, I conceive it to be the duty of the accusers to con- 
tradict what they have stated as soon as they are themselves con- 
vinced of their mistake." 

The voice of Mrs O'Eourke, with the sound it ever assumed after 
dinner — a hollow rumbling sound, as of a volcano deadened by the 
weight of much superincumbent strata — ^here remarked, "There 
were some persons whom no scandal could damage. An accusation 
more or less against Archie Wilson would really matter little." 

"The remark is just," said Waters, with cold impertinence ; he 
knew himself to be on the eve of leaving IMorteville, and able 
therefore to be indifferent about Mrs O'Eourke's dinners — "the 
application faulty. There are persons, Mrs O'Eourke — whose 
authority, but yours, should one accept on such a point 1 — whom 
no scandal could damage, but Archie Wilson is not one of them. 
Archie Wilson ! " he interrupted himself, suddenly, and as if he 
had not been gradually working up to this climax from the first 
moment he entered the room, "no, I will speak of her so no longer. 
The necessity for the incognito is over. Archie Lovell is the 
daughter of a man of position and birth. Her father is the rectoi 
of Hatton, in Staffordshire, her grandfather is Lord Lovell, and it 
is unfit that the ribald talk of Morteville tongues should even go 
near her. Ladies, of course, have their own prerogative ! " added 
Waters, looking with a sneer at Mrs Maloney and Miss Marks. 

252 AUClilE LOVELL. 

'' They may talk as tliey choose Avithout peril. If any man still 
tliinks that Miss Lovell accompanied Durant a^vay from Morte- 
ville, I should he very happy to talk over the matter with him in 
any spirit or at any time that he chooses." 

And Waters glanced round him with the warlike aspect he had 
learnt in Italian cafes, and twirled up his weU-waxed moustaches 
tiU little Willie Montacute thanked his stars he, for one, had not 
been fool enough to give an opinion in the matter. Eeckless 
bravery, never terminating in bloodshed, was one of Waters' lead- 
ing characteristics ; and the present moment, with a room full of 
women, one little boy, and three trembling old gentlemen, all 
rather deaf, and mildly playing at tlireepenny w^hist, was, he felt, 
just an occasion to display it. 

"Eector of Hatton — Lord Lovell!" gasped Gussy; no one 
sho-v\dng any eagerness in the picking up of Captain Waters' 
gauntlet. " Well, it's very strange, but I always did think Mr — 
Mr Lovell had a look of birth about him, and Archie, if you recoUect, 
Mrs Maloney ? " ^Maloney looks stonily forgetful of everything. 
*' I've often said to you, I thought there was something distingue 
about her face. Poor little girl, I'm siu'e I'm very glad this last 
story has all turned out to be a mistake ! " 

" And will do your best, I am convinced," said Waters, mtli 
emphasis, *' to see that the story is contradicted. Ladies, I have 
the honour of wishing you good-night." 

:• After which — regardless of convi^nality in the form of rin- 
ordinaire negus, four brioches on one plate, and three ^;«fe5 on 
another, that a hired old waiter, mouldy, like ever^ihing else about 
the house, was bearing in upon a tea-tray — Captain Waters bowed 
himself out of the presence ; and the ladies were left alone. 
Alone, to digest the news as best they might : to affect to doubt : 
to trust Captain Waters was not deceived : and to form immediate 
plans, each one of them in her heart, for letting the Lovells know- 
that it was never her, oh, never ! who said any of the unkind 
things that certainly had been said in Mortevillc about dear little 

Can worse be recorded of these women ? When all they knew 
of Archie Lovell was that she was fresh, fau', and young, they 
reviled her, When they were assured of her social superiority to 

A VAMPIRE "at home." 253 

themselves (''her father an honom-able," thought Giissy, ''her 
grandfather a lord ! oh, if I can only get her to write to me ! ") 
they were ready in an instant to grovel at her feet. Can human 
meanness go further ? 

As "Waters was walking hack to his hotel, he thought with a 
feeling of positive sickness over that last hour's work he had gone 
through. In men like him — men from Avliose hearts the very last 
traditions of honour have fled— the hereditary finer instincts of 
gentlemen do occasionally linger still. Of all this Morteville 
vampire brood, 'Waters was, in fact, perhaps the most morally 
worthless ; ten minutes ago had declared himself ready to take his 
oath to a falsehood ; was organizing a scheme to make the secret 
of a child of seventeen " a property ; " had defended her to-night 
only to get the whole speculation more securely into his own hands 
— not actually with any idea of immediate gain, but as a lien, a 
possible hold, upon her through every year of her future life. 
And still to himself he seemed a prince among them all. He 
might, for money, have to' do queer things, to put up with queer 
acquaintance now and then ; but to the lowest dregs of all, to the 
standard of the O'Rourke and Maloney, he felt that he could never 
sink. He might be a scoundrel ; a good many well-born men have 
been that ; one of a canaille like this, never ! 

Noblesse oblige. As a lad— with keen vividness old memories 
throng upon him as he walks slowly home to his hotel now : as a 
lad — one false step about money had cast him down, certainly, 
from the level of his peers. But no false step, no number of false 
steps, can ever thoroughly drain out the blue blood from a man's 
veins. "Was he, in truth, so very dishonom-able, then, he won- 
ders ? He doesn't know now ; he knows only that he was very 
foolish, and that he got found out ; and was banished from his 
father's house, and from his club, and from society generally. 
Banished from every respectable employment that he was fitted for, 
and, as he was too well-born and nurtured to work, forced in some 
measure to take up a profession that he was fitted for, but which 
was not respectable. The profession of living about in places like 
Homburg, Florence, Morteville-siu'-mer, and making money out of 
every man, woman, or child he comes aoross. 

Standing in the pure summer night — he feels he wants a great 


deal of fresh air to renew the oxygen that Miss Marks' rooms have 
exhausted from liis delicate limgs — Waters looks hack upon the 
bygone years and thinks sorrowfidly (a man is never so callous hut 
that, at times, he can he tender over himself) upon the hard lines 
on which his life has fallen ! the ill-luck that now, in his middle 
age, makes him a As^aif among such people as these in Morteville, 
instead of a country gentleman, like his elder brother ; or a guards- 
man, like his younger one, the fool Dolly; or a man deep in red 
tape, like his cousin — whose sums he used to do at school ; or a 
foreign diplomatist, high in honour and repute, like the other 
cousin — who used to steal his marbles when he was asleep. He 
was a cleverer and a better boy than any of them, he remembers ; 
and they are — where they are ! and he is here — a card-sharper, a 
lonely wretch whose solace is in brandy and tobacco, and whose 
associates are such people as these he has just left. And every- 
tliing's a fluke ! falling to work resignedly at cigarette-making ; 
and it's a great thing for a man to feel, however unfortunate he is, 
that he is a gentleman by birth ; that there are depths of mean 
and paltry degradation to which he can never sink ! 

And then he chalks out with greater precision to himself the 
exact words in which he shall conduct his interview to-mon-ow 
with Miss Lovell. 



He kept to his appointment at eleven, punctually ; and found 
Archie already waiting for him on the plateau. The plateau, as 
every one knows, is the name given to the portion of the sea-walk 
immediately in front of the Morteville etablissement ; and as 
eleven o'clock is here, as in other French watering-places, the hour 
when the promenades and beach are most crowded, the meeting of 
Captain Waters and Miss Lovell was not likely, even among the 
English residents of the place, to attract observation. As for the 


Frencli, never mucli prone to scandal, they were at the present time 
engaged to a man. One section dancing about in the sea in the 
fantastic serge suits that a paternal imperial government imposes 
upon its children ; another ranged on tiers of chairs upon the beach, 
watching them, with the intense interest an English mind can 
never thoroughly understand ; a third, still by the aid of opera- 
glasses well within view of their friends in the sea, drinking con- 
sommes, smoking, reading the papers, and plajdng dominoes be- 
neath the canvas awning outside the etablissement. 

Waters came up, liis hat in his hand, to Archie, who was walk- 
ing slowly up and down the plateau in one of the least crowded 
parts, evidently and without concealment waiting for him. She 
was paler than usual, and her hair, plainly braided back in the 
new fashion she had adopted, gave an aged and worn look to her 
face that Waters was not slow to notice. 

" What a different scene all this is to the kind of thing one 
meets with in our English watering-places," he remarked, as a 
matter of course tiu-ning round and walking by her side ; " I am 
not quite sure after all, though, that the advantage is on our side." 

'' I don't know," said Archie, coldly ; '^ I have never been in 
England, — I mean never at an English watering-place." 

*' Then you have been spared witnessing as much human dull- 
ness as can be collected together at one time and in one place," 
Captain Waters answered, without noticing her abrupt, almost 
sullen manner. " We go to the sea expressly to bore ourselves, 
the Erench to escape from being bored ; and I must say I think 
they are right, although I can't join in the raptures Frenchmen go 
into about some of their seaside fashions, — the marine costume of 
the Parisiennes, for example, — with regard to beauty. Do you 
read French novels. Miss Lovell ? " 

''1 do not." 

'' A very good thing for you " — the shorter her answers the 
pleasanter grew the tone of Waters' voice — "a very good thing 
indeed. English people in general taboo French novels, because 
they are supposed to be wrong, but the fact is they are only 
horribly stupid, as stupid very nearly as English ones. However 
— what was I going to say 1 — oh, the other day I read in a French 
novel, and a very excellent one, a description of how a lovely 


Parisienne looks in her black serge dress in the water. *Une 
clivinite des eaux ! ' " Waters speaks French like a Frenchman. 
"'Voiis auriez dit une statue de marbre noir a tete blanche. 
Depuis la pointe de ses jolis pieds jusciu' a ses grands cheveux elle 
defiait la criticjue la -plus malveillante, II n'y avait -qu' a tombre 
a genoux devant cet admirable corps !' Now, Miss Lovell, witli- 
out being the most spiteful critic in the world, I must confess that 
French women in the water look to me -very much more like half- 
drowned brown rats than like marble statues or divinities. You 
agree with me ? " 

She made him no answer whatever ; only walked along by his 
side, her head turned away from him, -without the ghost of a smile 
or of response from her lips ; and "Waters began to see that what- 
ever he wanted to say he must say without preamble, mthout 
assistance of any kind from his companion. " It is the same in 
everything," he remarked presently; "five hundred people in 
France sit on the burning sand to watch five hundred other peo- 
ple, ridiculously dressed, but whom they think marble divinities, 
jump up and down in the water, and the English call the whole 
scene by very hard names indeed. We, on the other hand, do 
many things, or rather our young ladies do, which French con- 
vention looks upon -mill absolute horror. You don't mind a 
cigarette 1 — thanks." And he made and lit one, while Miss Lovell 
stiU walked on silent, and with averted scornful face, by his 

And then Captain Waters spoke out. " I am very glad, Miss 
Lovell, that I happened to be on the pier when the steamer 
arrived from England yesterday morning — glad for every reason. 
Do you know — but I need not ask ; how should you ? — that a 
most absurd, a most malicious story is being circulated in Morte- 
ville at the present moment — " 

"About— about me?" she interrupted, with quivering lips, and 
still keeping her face turned aside from him. 

"Well, yes ; I am sorry to say, about you. I don't know that 
I should say it is being circulated at this present moment, for I 
have done my best to stop it ; but up to a very late hour yesterday 
it was the talk of all the Enejlish here that — forgive me even for 


repeating ifc — that you had gone away to London in the same 
steamer with Durant." 

Miss Lovell acted no surprise ; made no attempt at denial. 
"Go on, if you jDlease," she said, abruptly. "This is not all, I 
suppose. Tell me everything you have got to say." 

" Well, Miss Lovell, judging from a word that fell from your 
father's lips when I was speaking to him yesterday, I felt sure that 
— that this Morteville story ought to be looked upon as an 
invention. Mr Lovell hinted, I think, that you were at home 
alone yesterday, and (as it is physically impossible for any person 
to be in two places at once) I have taken upon myself to con- 
tradict the story as a pure and mahgnant invention." 

"And they believed you?" she cried quickly; and looking 
roimd at his face for the first time. " Captain Waters, I hope you 
vnll be good enough to tell me plainly. Have you made these 
people believe that what was stated was — false ? " But her voice 
shook with the effort it cost her to bring out these words. 

"Yes," he answered, with slow intentional deliberation that 
tortured her to the utmost. "I beKeve I may say now that the 
story is crushed — trodden under foot. It was no easy matter to 
do, I can assure you," he added. "There were several people 
besides myself on the Calais pier, and it became simply and 
literally a matter of hard swearing as to whether Mr Durant's 
companion was or was not yourself." 

" And you swore it was not me 1 " 

" I did. I declared also that I saw you on the pier this morn- 
ing before the arrival of the first steamer from England." 

As Waters said this, Miss Lovell, the daughter of the Eector of 
Hatton, drew a long breath of relief. Archie Wilson, the unfear^ 
ing, uncompromising little Bohemian of old days, felt that never 
in all her seventeen years of life had she had such cause to blush 
for herself before. A degradation for which she knew no name, a 
shame from which her child's heart shrank, even while reason bid 
her play h3r part out, dyed her face scarlet as she walked by 
Captain Waters' side, and heard him recount the falsehoods that 
he had told to save her. 

" I am much obliged to you ; " after a pause she said this, and 


in a stiff, measured tone, as if she was repeating something that 
she had paiafully learnt by rote, and felt herself forced to say : 
"I don't know why you took my part at all. I don't ask why; 
but I thank you for papa and myself." 

" And you will feel assured of my silence, Miss Lovell 1 You 
mil feel assured that anything that I may accidentally happen to 
have witnessed will be a secret that I shall keep sacred while I 

"You are very good," was all poor Archie's answer, "and I am 
much obliged to you." Tor indeed, she could see no reason either 
why he had befriended her now, or why her secret, or anything 
belonging to her, should be a sacred possession to Captain Waters 
for the future. 

" And if. Miss Lovell, at any future time we meet agaiu, you 
will let me regard myself in some measure as your friend ? " The 
girl only looked a very faint assent. " I am going to leave Morte- 
ville, probably within the next twenty-four hours," he went on, 
talking in a quick, restless way, as he always did when he was 
forced to speak of his own affairs ; " and perhaps — indeed I think 
it most likely — my business will detain me for the simimer in 
England. Well, Miss Lovell, you must know that I am — I don't 
hesitate in saying it — a man with whom life has gone somewhat 
hard, and at times (horribly frequently such times succeed each 
other) I don't know where to put my hand on a shilling. It is 
so at this minute, I swear to you ; and — " 

She turned round : she looked at him so full, that Captain 
Waters' eyes shifted, in spite of all his assurance, from her gaze. 
"Do you mean, sir" — very distinct and clear her question fell 
upon liis ear — "that you want me to imij you? that this "SATctched 
secret of mine has a price ? "' 

He smiled, and put up his eye-glass at a group of Parisian 
divinites des eaux, who happened to pass before them at this 
moment. "Well, no. Miss Lovell, I must confess that no such 
idea crossed my mind. IN'o such idea, at all events, as that which 
your very melodramatic and picturesque language has placed be- 
fore me ! The facts, as we have come to such charmingly plain 
speaking, are briefly these. A young lady, granddaughter of a 
peer, daughter of a rector, everything of the highest respectability, 


leaves lier liome in the company of a stranger, and sixteen or 
eighteen hoTirs later returns — her father and mother, who happen 
to be away from home, continuing ignorant of the escapade she has 
indulged in during their absence. Well, this escapade is — wo 
won't use harsh words — a strong measure for a young lady to take, 
and this one of whom I speak has quite sense enough to keep her 
own coimsel. Unfortunately the secret is not altogether hers. A 
third person, towards whom the heroine of. the story feels rather 
unreasonably indignant, happens to see the two young people 
when they are already on their journey to London ; also, as luck 
vnll have it, watches the young lady when next day she returns, 
alo7ie to France, and — " 

" And asks a price for keeping what he saw a secret ! " inter- 
rupted Archie, undauntedly. " I quite understand }'ou, sir, and 
all I have to say to you is — you must do your worst !• - Go, if you 
choose, and swear to the people here that what you swore to yester- 
day was false ! I would do an}i;hing to screen papa, but it's no 
use ; " the tears rising in her' eyes as she made the confession. " I 
have not a ten-franc piece in the world that I can call my own ! " 

Her mixture of courage and childishness so overcame Captain 
"Waters' sense of humour that, as nearly as he could ever be said to 
laugh, he laughed. "I am "not quite so poor^as you think me, 
Miss Lovell. You needn't tell me you have no sous in your pocket 
exactly in the tone you would use to a too-persistent beggar in the 
street ! When I asked you to meet me here to-day, I wished 
simply to put you on your guard with respect to Miss Marks and 
some other of the Morteville gossips. When I defended you last 
night I did what I — or any man," cried Waters, chivalrously, 
"must feel compelled by instinct to do when one young, pretty, 
and helpless woman is attacked by haK a dozen others, who are 
neither young nor pretty, nor helpless for the matter of that. You 
have no particular cause, I think, to be angry with me. I really 
could not help recognizing you with Durant on board the Lord of 
the Isles at Calais — now, could 1 1 " 

She answered nothing ; but stood still waiting for hiTn to finish, 
and looking at him with flushed face, and with tears still standing 
in the beautifully-indignant eyes. 

" When I spoke of ever meeting you again I thought it right 

s 2 


and lionourable to explain to you my position — my want of posi- 
tion would be nearer the mark ! Pride made me do so, Miss 
Lovell. When I thought of accepting your father's kind invita- 
tion pride made me explain to you the sort of visitor you would 
have in me, and then, you know, you interrupted me with a little 
hurst of melodrama about payment and five-franc pieces. A some- 
what cruel taunt perhaps to a poor threadbare fellow like me ! " 
"Waters looks sentimentally at his coat-sleeve, which is not in the 
least threadbare; " but you are too young to know the bitterness 
of your own words. Miss Lovell," and he took his hat off with 
mock deference to the ground, '^ good-bye, and set your mind at 
rest. I am not at all likely to turn traitor : onJy, when we meet 
next in the pleasant retirement of Staffordshire, speak to me with 
a little more kindness — shall I say gratitude? — than you have 
done this morning ! " And he tm-ned from her, and with his 
accustomed air of dandy indifference, strolled away in an opposite 
direction across the sands. 

Her secret, so far, was safe, then. And yet, with a sinking 
heart, Archie felt that it had been better e\eTy other tongue in 
Morteville had spoken of her at once than that Captain Waters 
should track her out in her new English life ; that Captain Waters, 
alone, should have it in his power to betray her ! 



At about four o'clock on the day succeeding his dinner-party 
Mr Dennison left his chambers in the Temple and walked forth, 
■with quiet composed demeanour, along the Strand in the direction 
of the west. He was admirably got up, as usual : frock-coat, well- 
fitting boots, lavender gloves stitched with black, walking-stick- 
umbrella : his tie, liis linen, his whiskers, all irreproachable. Poor 
Maggie would want to see him, he said — nay, he thought this, to 
himself : after the cold parting at his chambers the night before, 


it was only riglit that lie should go and hold out the olive-h ranch 
of peace. He would take her away for one of those country 
dinners she so loved to Richmond : there would be just time to get 
off by the five o'clock train if he hurried her in her dressing : and 
if there was half an hour to spare he would take her round to 
Eegent Street and give her a new bonnet to go in. It teas hard 
to a woman's heart, doubtless, to have to wear an old velvet hat in 
August, poor girl ! A French bonnet and a new dress would be 
the best means of setting everything right between them ! And still 
Mr Dennison's eyes glanced quickly, nervously, at the placards of 
every neAvs-shop he passed : liis ear greedily drank in every word 
of dislocated, mispronounced intelligence that the hoarse voices of 
the news-boys, now issuing forth from the different offices with the 
evening papers, Avere shouting around him as he Avalked along. 

"When he had got within about thirty or forty yards from the 
opening to Cecil Street he was forced to stop ; so dense a crowd 
had gathered round a red-and-orange placard placed outside an 
office door close upon his right. 

"Earliest intelHgence — Clerk suspected of embezzlement — Horrid 
case of poisoning in Leeds — Found drowned," yelped out a boy in 
accents that might have been Chaldee or Sanscrit ; and running 
each ghastly announcement into the other, so as to render them 
wholly unintelligible to any save the preternaturally sharpened 
sense of one of liis hearers. " Clerk suspected of embezzlement — 
Poisoning in Leeds — Found drowned." 

The cold dew started upon Eobert Dennison's forehead ; another 
voice besides the news-boy's shrill treble made itself heard to him 
amidst all the uproar of the London streets, '• Foimd drowned." 
Why, what nervous fancies were these he had upon liun ? AVhat 
interest had he in these vulgar horrors of the pennj^ papers ? He 
wanted quiet and rest ; the rest he would get in the green Rich- 
mond shades with Maggie. Cecil Street was here close at hand ; 
he would call for her at once, take her to the milliner's, poor child ! 
and be happy, looking at her pleasure, as in the old days of their 
love — 

And he laid his hand heavily on the news-boy's shoulder j took 
and paid for a paper, and walked on with it folded in his hand — 
keeping his eyes steadily away from the flaming placard, yet see- 


iiig, witli Aveird clairvoyance, t\yo words written there, larger, more 
blood-coloured tlian tlie rest ! — in the direction of his wife's lodg- 

^N'early opposite to Cecil Street he came to a small chop-house or 
coffee-room ; not the sort of place Mr Dennison would generally 
have condescended to enter; however, when he had half passed 
the window, he suddenly said to himself that he would never be 
able to keep up in this stifling heat unless he got some iced soda- 
water, water, fluid of any kind to allay his thirst, and after hesi- 
tating irresolutely for a minute, he turned back, and stepped inside 
the door. 

*' Iced soda-and-brandy ? Yes, sir. Will you take a table, sir 1 " 
said the mistress of the establishment, obsequiously, and looking 
instantly, as all women of her class did look, upon Dennison as a 
tremendous aristocrat. So Mr Dennison took a table, one of the tliree 
little rounds of marble the room possessed, and turning his face in 
such a position that no one in the room could witness its expres- 
sion, opened out Ms paper and searched it over for the day's news. 

"Found drowned. At about ten o'clock last night two men oc- 
cupied in a vessel just below London Bridge, heard a sound like 
the cry of a woman in distress, and immediately afterwards the 
splash of some heavy body struck the water a few yards, as it 
seemed, from where the barge was moored. They raised an im- 
mediate alarm, and the river police with drags were on the spot at 
once; but for a long time their search was fruitless. At three 
o'clock this morning, however, the body of a girl was found, di'ifted 
in among some shipping, three or four hundred yards down the 
river, and bearing evident signs of having been dead some hours. 
The unfortunate deceased was respectably dressed, and wore a plain 
gold or marriage ring tied by a piece of ribbon roimd her tlu'oat. 
The police are already actively engaged in investigating this mys- 
terious tragedy ; and from the fact of a handkerchief that deceased 
had on her person being marked with a monogram, we shall, no 
doubt, before long, be enabled to present our readers with further 
and important details." 

For a moment Eobert Dennison was stunned : felt neither 
remorse, nor grief, nor pain, nor was sensible of fear ; only stared 
vacantly at the pattern of the gaudy paper on the opposite wall — 


a filigree trellis-work, with tier above tier of aljsurd Swiss 
shepherdesses looking out from between arsenic green leaves. 
Will he ever forget that treUis-work, those shepherdesses 1 In 
every illness, in every lonely sleepless night, will they not pursue 
him, the phantom background to all terrible nightmares, while he 
lives ?) What he saw next was, that they had brought him his 
soda-and-brandy : and with a physical effort, so gTeat as to cause 
him actual pain, he put out his hand and raised the glass to his 
lips. Something prevented him from swallowing a droj). The 
brandy must be bad, he thought. He never could swallow bad 
brandy. He w^ould go on at once to Maggie, take her away to the 

country, and And then, abruptly, with sharp, with awful 

distinctness, all the meaning, all the danger of his position took 
palpable shape before liis mind. A handkerchief marked with a 
monogram. The police actively engaged already. "What if they 
tracked out Maggie's lodgings — for he felt as if heaven's voice had 
spoken that it was she — among her things were notes of his; 
photographs of his ; her marriage lines : everything. What if 
they found how last night she had been to him, to her husband, 
for shelter, and how he had turned her out — (his own servant, 
some chance listen^er on the stairs, might be brought to witness 
this against bim) — turned her out, in her forlorn despah, to die 
upon the London streets ! 

He was a lawyer by nature as well as by profession ; and every 
detail of the situation arranged itself with mechanical clearness, 
without an effort of volition, almost, before his intelligence. 
Eobert Dennison, this man who had thrust his wife brutally from 
her rightful place, and who stood in dhect extremity of exposure 
and downfall, seemed, in these first minutes, scarcely more 
intimately connected with himself than any cHent would have 
done whose case had happened to be placed in his hands, and 
whose sufferings or Avhose guilt concerned him only in as far as 
they heightened or lessened the chances of discovery. " Margaret 
Dennison," said his brain, while his heart kept cold and still, 
" left her lodgings yesterday evening j went to her husband and 
was repulsed by him ; and to-day is dead. Everything that can 
mutely identify Robert Dennison as her husband is to be found 
among the things that she left beliind her at her lodgings ; and 


these, unless active measures be taken at once, will be, in all 
human probability, at the end of a few more hours in the hands of 
the police — the placards with which the town must soon be 
covered scarcely failing to arrest the attention of the master or 
mistress, or servants, of the lodging-house." 

Unless active measures be taken at once. What measures ? A 
remark that his wife had made to him last night came back, word 
for word, before his memory, as if in answer. " I've paid off the 
lodgings and left them. You may send for my things to-morrow, 
if you like." This simply was what he had to do. He got up, 
put the paper in his pocket, paid for the untasted soda-and-brandy, 
then went out and walked back along the Strand, till he came to 
a stationer's shop. This he entered, bought a sheet of note-paper 
and envelope ; and leaning on the counter to write, addressed a 
few lines to the landlady of the house in Cecil Street, begging that 
Miss ISTe^ille's luggage might be sent to her by the bearer. One 
of Dennison's accomplishments from the time he was a boy had 
been a trick of imitating admirably the handwriting of any person 
he chose ; and this note was ■\vritten in the precise half-flourish, 
half-scrawl of poor Maggie. He signed it "Lucy JSfeville," the 
name by which she had passed, sealed it, paid for the paper and 
envelope — carefully counting the change out of sixpence ; then 
walked on. Cityward still, and with no more hurried step, no more 
sign of perturbation on his face, than usual. Before the archway 
of a coach or parcel office, close by the Olympic Theatre, he 
stopped, looked at liis watch, and stepping inside the archway, 
inquired from a group of three or foui' men who were standing 
there if he could get a porter to fetch some luggage for him from 
Cecil Street ? One of the men, a licensed porter, volunteered for 
the job on the spot ; and twenty minutes later, Robert Dennison, 
who disappeared in the interval — oh, the cycle, the eternity of 
those twenty minutes ! — saw the well-known new portmanteau and 
bonnet-box that had been the companions of his wedding-toui', 
driven up before the office door on the roof of a cab. 

Maggie had not retm-ned to her lodgings, then : for, up to the 
present moment, this had been a moral, not an actual certainty 
with him ! " You haven't been long, my man," he said, address- 
ing the porter, *' They had the things all ready for you, I suppose." 


*'Well, yes," the jwrter answered, "the boxes were standing 
ready in the hall, and for the matter of that, the landlady 
wasn't over civil in saying they ought to have been taken before 
noon, when the week was up. And here are the lady's keys, sir," 
he added, taking something wrapped in a very dirty bit of paper, 
and giving them to Dennison. "The lady left them on the 
chimney, and I was to say from Mary, which she ars't me — after 
the landlady were gone — that she'd never let 'em out of her own 
pocket, and the lady needn't fear but that her things was safe." 

"All right," said Dennison, carelessly, but with a strange sense 
of the way in which chance now, as throughout his life, seemed to 
be with him. " All right. : AYliat do you want for the job ? Two 
shillings — what, for less than half an hour's work ? no." 

He paid the porter the exact sum that was due to him — nothing 
more likely, he thought, to awaken suspicion than ever paying 
any man a farthing more than his due — and jumping into the cab, 
ordered the driver to go to the Shoreditch Station. When he had 
got some way along Fleet Street, however, something seemed to 
make him change his mind; and getting out, he paid and dis 
missed the cab, deliberately waited with his luggage for three or 
four minutes just by the open space or foot-passage which leads up 
to Saint Bride's Church, then hailed another cab and drove back 
quietly to his own chambers in the Temple. Had his servant 
been at home, a different and a more involved plan might, per- 
haps, have been forced upon him. But the boy, by his permission, 
had gone out for the remainder of the day ; and judging with calm 
dispassionate coolness — the lack of which drives the majority of 
guilty men into acts of rash self-betrayal — Dennison decided that 
the safest place in England for him to go to now would be his own 
chambers. A better or a weaker man, circumstanced as he was, 
w^ould have striven, perhaps, to make away with every evidence of 
hi.s connection with Maggie : all that Dennison felt it imperatively 
necessary for him to destroy were the proofs of his marriage. He 
was bold through temperament and through education alike : and 
on principle ever chose the most open game that could be played. 
By taking away these things of hers out of London, by attempting 
to destroy them with every device that the "' crooked wisdom " of 
cunning could suggest, there had been, he knew, a thousand times 


more risk than in driving "with them straight to his own rooms, and, 
if need be, conducting the first detective officer who should come 
to question him to the closet where they la}'". 

The one-armed old pensioner who generally acted as Mr Denni- 
son's porter, happened at the moment of his arrival to have. gone 
round to his home in the nearest court to tea ; so the cabman, 
helped by Eobert himself, carried up the luggage, without being 
met by any one, to the second floor ; where Mr Dennison paid and 
discharged him. The placard " gone out of to^^Ti " which the boy 
had hung outside the door of the chambers he took down, as soon 
as he had unlocked the door and canied the luggage inside. A 
weaker man would, probably, again have erred on the side of pru- 
dence by leaving the placard where he found it ; but Dennison, 
rapidly summing up every possibility of suspicion that could arise 
against him, had decided in an instant upon removing it. He pos- 
sessed the true inborn genius of cimning ; not mere skin-deep apt- 
ness for cunning when occasion arises ; and had the most thorough 
mistrust at all times as to the evidence of his own senses. He saw 
no one, certainly, as he came up the stairs, but how slioidd he say 
that no one saw hiTii ■? H any human eye had watched him in, and 
then saw the placard " not at home " still on his door, this circum- 
stance alone might give birth to inquirj^ In the hundreds of crim- 
inal cases that he had studied — not that he, Eobert Dennison, was 
a cruninal, this struck him only as a general fact — he had remarked 
how invariably men themselves help on the discovery of the real 
truth by the very means they employ to prevent suspicion. To 
have allowed the legal evidence of Ms marriage to remain in Cecil 
Street would have been the hardiness of a fool. To act, now that 
he held them in possession, as near as possible with the quiet 
straightforwardness of an innocent man, was what his temperament 
and his reason alike bade him do. 

The Venetians of his windows were all pulled down tight ; shut- 
ting out whatever air stirred on the river or in the Temple 
Gardens, but letting in that strange baked atmosphere, void of 
oxygen, and charged with all nameless evU compounds, peculiar 
probably to London more than to any other city in the world 
during July and August. Dennison felt as though the closeness 
would stifle liim ; and crossing over to the window, hastily pulled 


lip one of tlie blinds above bis head. The cords gave a creaking 
sound as he drew them ; and a group of two or three little children 
at play in the gardens beneath with their nurse, a tall dark girl, 
about the growth and age of Maggie, looked up at him, nurse and 
all, and laughed. 

Bold as he was, and crafty, and alert against surprise, some 
weaker element there was, some lingering human association yet, 
in Eobert Dennison's heart ; and it stirred — ay, for an instant 
palsied every fibre of his stout frame at this moment. 

Palsied by the sound of children's unconscious voices ! by a 
girl's face that happened to have something the complexion or the 
smile of Maggie's ! Why, what folly, what contemptible cowardice 
was this that was falling upon him 1 

He sniiled to himself to think what tricks a man's nerves, the 
miserable material tramways of his intelligence ! can in some dis- 
ordered conditions of the system or the weather play upon him. 
But he let down the blind again with singular haste notwithstand- 
ing. The sun shone in that way, he remembered ; the room after 
all must be cooler if he kept it darkened 

. . . And then he carried the boxes into his bedroom, took the 
keys out from his pocket, and kneeling down upon the floor, set 
himself with a supreme effort of will, and ^Yith hands as trembling 
and as cold as hers had been when she left him last, to the accom- 
plishment of his task. 



Six or eight French railway labels were on the boxes still ; re- 
minding Dennison, with the pathos these commonplace things can 
take at times, of every halting-place in his wedding tour. Calais, 
Amiens, Paris, Eouen, Dieppe — all the span of Maggie's short-lived 
dream of Elysian happiness ! These, not ^^ithout a sharp con- 
traction of the heart, he tore off sufficiently to render them 
illegible, before attempting to open the boxes. 


"If — if ^u this turns out nothing," he thought, as with trem- 
bling, awkward hands, he fitted one key after another into the lock 
of the portmanteau, and striving to address the other honourable, 
God-fearing Eobert Dermison, not his very inmost self, as I suppose 
most of us do strive to the last, to blind something out of, and yet 
within, our own souls. "If Maggie is all right, and has only been 
getting up a little theatre to frighten me, I shan't have done much 
harm by destro}dng a love-letter or two, and a dozen photographs, 
and we shall laugh some day over the thought of my imaginary 
widowhood together — poor Maggie ! " 

But though he could address his honourable, God-fearing friend 
with such glib innocence, and although the portmanteau lay open 
now beneath his hand, Eobert Dennison recoiled, as one Avould do 
at the touch of death, from handling anything it contained. 
Afraid ? Of course not. "What was there for him to fear 1 He 
was out of sorts to-day — upset, naturally, at the bare possibility 
of this thing he dreaded; and, rising abruptly to his feet, he 
walked back to his sitting-room, and poured out and drank a glass 
of water from a carafe that stood upon the sideboard. 

The heat was really stifling, and he had not been in bed since 
yesterday. "What wonder if his throat felt fever-parched? What 
wonder if he shrank from making even the slightest bodily ex- 
ertion? He took off his coat, and loosened his necktie — anything 
to keep his hands another minute from the contact of those things 
of hers ! — "Wondered if a cigar would do him good ; lit one, put it 
to his lips, laid it down on the mantelpiece a minute after ; took 
a turn or two up and down his room ; then, with a convulsive sort 
of resolution, went back to his work, and, without giving himself 
another moment to thinlv, drew out a whole armfid of the contents 
of the portmanteau, and tossed them down, beside liim on the 

All the little possessions she had had in^the world were there. 
Her linen, fine and white, but Avithout lace or embroidery ; her 
best black silk, carefully folded the wrong side out ; her velvet 
jacket, pinned up (for next winter) in paper ; her prayer-book ; her 
work-case j a song or two, *' Eobert " among them, that Dennison 
had bought for her at the time when he thought drilling her unapt 
fingers into striking five or six notes of accompaniment the most 


"blissful employment in existence; the play-bills of the French 
theatres, and of one or two London ones, to which he had taken her ; 
her marriage lines ; a packet of his love-letters ; her few trinkets ; 
her watch and chain. All she had possessed ; all the record of 
that short '* lady's" life she had known since she exchanged 
Heathcotes and work, and peace of mind, for Mr Dennison's love. 
The lodging-house servant had been faithful ; everything was right ; 
and Dennison held all the evidence most precious for him to 
possess, here, alone, between his o^vn hands. 

He collected every letter, every piece of paper containing a name, 
every photograph — there were about a dozen of himself, and one 
or two of her ; then, having carefully looked over the linen, and 
found no letters or mark of any kind upon it, put back 
everything, with as neat a touch as he could command, into its 
place. It was horribly hard work. The air must be growing hot- 
ter and hotter, or his last night's vigil have made him really ill, for 
great cold drops — a strange effect for sultry weather to have- 
stood thick upon his forehead ; the weight of these light woman's 
things— yes, even to the little linen cuffs and collars, the poor bit 
of embroidery, with the needle and thread still as she had left it 
— seemed to oppress his arms with an intolerable leaden weariness. 
But still, with unflagging strength of will, he kept himself to his 
work : never stopping until the last thing had been replaced, the 
newspaper folded, as her neat hands had folded it, over the top. 
The worst was over now, he thought. He had only to take a 
glance, for precaution, through the other box ; only carefully to 
burn the photographs and letters one by one in his grate ; and 
with somewhat restored nerve he was just preparing himself to 
look over the different papers that he held in his hand, when a 
long loud ring came suddenly at his chambers door. 

For an iustant his face turned to ashes ; for an instant the com- 
mon animal instincts of guilt — flight, concealment — did cross his 
brain. An instant only. Then Robert Dennison rallied thorough- 
ly ; the stout spirit, that had forsaken him when he was alone 
with a few senseless bits of cambric and silk, reitwrning the moment 
that any positive danger — a man, a detective for aught he knew, 
was to be confronted. Anything, he reasoned promptly — the 
boxes, the torn labels still upon the floor, the letters in his posses- 


sion — would be better than the risk of incurring suspicion by- 
keeping his visitor waiting. And pushing the papers away, out of 
sight but not locked up: — if search icere made what mattered lock 
and key ? — he took up his coat across his arm, passed his hand- 
kerchief over his face, then whistling out of tune — Robert Denni- 
son never, under any circumstances, sang or whistled true — walked 
on calmly to the outer door and opened it. 

1^0 lynx-eyed detective officer stood there, but a young brother 
Templar, not exactly a friend of Dennison's, but a man whose 
money he was in the habit of taking at cards, and who con- 
sequently held himself entitled to come and bore him whenever 
and for whatever length of time he chose. His name matters not : 
he has no further connection with this history : enough that, 
although he was young, he was a bore of the first magnitude (and, 
on occasion, a young man may bore you quite as intensely as an 
old one) ; a bore who talked on and on of things without the 
remotest human interest, careless whether he received an answer 
or no j a bore who, when he had talked himself hoarse, smoked, 
boring you still by the mere expression of his face, and when he 
had smoked himseK dry, drank ; and bored you more than ever by 
the interminable way in which he made his liquor hold out ! 
Dennison went through torture inexpressible during the hour and 
a half that this man sat with him in his chambers. !N"egative 
torture, perhaps, but none the less poignant still. Here was in- 
valuable time — time on the employment of which his whole futiu'e 
life might hang ; and he had to sit quietly and listen to v/hat 
Judge This said in such a Court, on such a case ; and what Ser- 
jeant That, very mistakenly, replied; and what he, the bore, 
would have said had he been in either or both of their places ! 
"When seven o'clock came he felt that he coidd bear it no longer. 
After being tolerated for an hour and a half, could even a bore 
complain of being turned out, or draw suspicious conclusions from 
your wishing to be left alone ? So, looking at his watch, he got 
up hurriedly ; exclaimed, as though he had just remembered it, 
that he had an engagement for dinner, and managed to get his 
visitor to the threshold, where the unconscious bore stayed talldng 
for ten minutes longer at least, one arm well within the door-way, 
as experience doubtless had taught him to do when talking to 


wearied and desperate men on the door-step of their own houses. 
And then Eobert Dennison was alone again. 

Seven o'clock. Three hours only since he first heard the news- 
boys calling along the Strand ! He seemed to have lived a dozen 
common days in these three hours ! Blankly staring at the trellis- 
work and shepherdesses on the coffee-room wall ; walking alone 
with his guilty heart, in the sight of men and in the sunshine, 
along the streets ; waiting for the porter's return from Cecil Street ; 
getting back to his chambers ; the work that he had done there ; 
the torture of sitting powerless with his visitor, listening for every 
sound upon the stairs, every heavy footstep that it seemed to him 
imist stop, pause stealthily, and then be followed by a ring at his 
door. . . . Why, each of these seemed a distinct ghastly epoch ; 
an epoch almost as remote from the present moment as were the 
happy innocent days when he was a boy at school. And six, seven 
hours remained still before the day would be done. God, were 
they to pass as these had passed 1 Was this how men live when 
they are in dread of discovery ? Was there more meaning, after 
all, in that old-fashioned word " remorse " than any wliich he had 
before assigned to it in his philosophy '? 

He went back ; he finished his task. Looked through the other 
box ; handled more cambric and ribbons and bits of lace, round all 
of which the faint scent of the rose-leaves and lavender the country- 
girl had brought with her from Heathcotes — well he remembered 
it — seemed clinging yet ; burnt, one by one, his letters . . . how 
she had kept every line, every word that ever came from his hand ! 
his photographs and hers ; her marriage lines ; the torn railway 
labels ; everything. Then he stood free. The boxes he stowed 
out of sight, yet not with any ostentatious secrecy, in a closet 
among his own ; the ashes from the papers he collected to the last 
fragment out of the grate, and shook away through the window. 
He stood free. The wife, whose existence had been his stumbling- 
block, gone j every paper that could prove him to have been her 
husband destroyed. Free ! In a position at length to fulfil all 
his ambition, ay, to marry his cousin Lucia, perhaps, if he chose. 
Free ! And still with that livid sweat upon his forehead, that 
leaden weight about his limbs. Still listening for every footstep 
that approached his door ; starting irritably at every child's voice 


that pealed up, sweet and merry, from the Temple G-ardens with- 

He would be better abroad, he thought, when another miserable 
half-hour had passed by : better with men's eyes upon him ; better 
anywhere than here. It was being shut up in the same room with 
these things of his poor Maggie's that overcame him ; and no 
wonder ! addressing the other honest, virtuous Robert Dennison 
again. She was a good girl, one who loved him well ! It might 
be to his worldly advantage that she should be gone ; but he 
would never find a woman love him as she had done — never ! and 
it was horrible to have to bear up and keep an iron face when in 
his heart he was yearning for freedom to weep over her ; yearning 
to find her out, rescue her from sacrilegious touch or sight, and 
bestow the last poor amends he could make for all the bitter 
wrongs he had done her ! 

Eobert Dennison said this : probably he thought it in his very 
heart. The hardest, the guiltiest man among us all, never, I 
imagine, stands utterly bare, face to face with his own conscience. 
And when, an hour later, he found himseK sitting in his accus- 
tomed dining-place, but physically unable to swallow food, and 
with a choking sensation at his throat whenever he thought of 
those poor things of hers that he had touched (the things whose 
faint rose-leaf scent loould cling about him still), he felt satisfied, 
not alone that he was in no way guilty of her death — that, of 
course, was self-evident — ^but that he must really have been a great 
deal fonder of her than he knew, and that her loss, if indeed he 
had lost her, would be a life-long burthen for him to bear. 

After his scarce-tasted dinner came dessert, and with dessert the 
third edition of one of the evening papers was laid before him. 

''The police continue actively engaged upon the mysterious case 
of drowning from London Bridge." In an instant his eyes lighted 
on this paragraph : and still — as on the placard in the Strand — the 
prophecy of his own shame seemed to stand out luridly distinct, as 
if printed in red ink, from all the other ones. " It is believed 
now that death took place before the body reached the water, and 
grave suspicions of foul play are entertained. An inquest will be 
held to-morrow morning, when it is fully expected that further 
and most important circumstances will be brought to light ; indeed, 


we believe we shall not hinder the ends of justice by hinting that 
a clue to the solution of the tragedy has been already traced. Two 
facts at least may be stated as certain : first, that a handkerchief, 
evidently the property of a gentleman, and finely embroidered with 
three initial letters, was found in the breast of the unfortunate 
deceased ; secondly, that the person of a man with whom she was 
seen in conversation on the night of her death is known to an 
officer of the City Police." 

And there were five hours more before Robert Dennison could, 
even hope to find forgetfulness in sleep ! 



Three o'clock in the afternoon again ; the sky a livid copper- 
colour ; the pavements broiling hot ; the air quivering, dense, and 
furnace-like. London at white heat. London at that soft hour 
of an August day when, far aAvay in the country, lengthening 
shades begin to cross the yellow fields, and when the robin, re- 
minding one already of autumn evenings, pipes from the hedge- 
rows, and voices of men and girls at harvest-work ring pleasantly 
through the leafy lanes. 

"LIr Wickham, Lilac Court," exclaimed a sun-burnt country- 
woman, as she descended from an omnibus in Fleet Street, about 
fifty yards east of Chancery Lane, •and gazing about her "uith the 
stunned, bewildered air that men and women more accustomed to 
a bovine than a human world are apt to wear when they find 
themselves upon a city pavement. ''And however in the world 
am I to find where Lilac Court is ? " 

The question, vaguely addressed to the general intelligence of 
London, having received no answer, she went into a law stationer's 
close at hand and repeated it. Would any of the gentlemen, with 
a curtsey, have the goodness to direct her to Lilac Court *? Which 
the omnibus set her down here as. her nearest point, but being a 



stranger in London on important business, and in search of a gentle 
man by the name of Wickliam — 

"First turn to the right, six doors up, second floor," cried an 
automaton-like little old man, without raising his e3^es from an 
enormous ledger, on which he was occupied. *'Bell on tlie left as 
you enter. 'Now then, Charlie, you look alive ! " still without 
raising his eyes, and addressing a furiously hot boy who, with arms 
full of blue ruled paper, was issuing, in liis shii't sleeves, through 
a hole in the floor ; " and as you go up to Atkins's show this party 
the way to IMr AVickham's oflice." 

An order which the bo}^ at once obeyed ; turning round with a 
noiseless whistle and staring full in the face of the country-woman, 
who followed him, in a way that discountenanced her extremely. 
Mr Wickham, whoever he might be, seemed tolerably well known, 
she thought ; and in London, too, where she had always heard no 
man laiew the name of his next-door neighbour ; but that was no 
reason why those that wanted !MJ? Wickham should be stared at 
like beasts in a caravan. London manners, as far as she coidd 
see, were pretty much of a piece mth their milk ; and instead of 
giving the boy t\vopence for his pains, as her heart prompted her, 
the good woman strode indignantly past him up the stairs con- 
ducting to Mr Wicldiam's office, never pausing, although her face 
gi'ew ominously redder, her breath shorter, at every step, until she 
found herself upon the second floor, to which she had been directed 
to go. 

A brass plate, bearing the name of *' Mr Wickham," was on a 
door straight before her, a little white-handled bell on the left — a 
bell which when pulled gave, not a hearty human peal, as country 
bells do, but one muffled stroke, like the ghost of the squire's stable 
gong, she thought ; or the first cracked " dong " of the old village 
church-bell sounding for a funeral. 

In a second, and without any mortal agency that the country- 
woman could discern, the door opened, and she found herself, too 
agitated to speak, inside a small, very neat oflice, and in the pre- 
sence of a middle-aged gentleman, dressed in a plain suit of dark 
clothes : a gentleman who was sitting, a letter in his hand, beside 
the open window which admitted whatever air there was to be had 
from Lilac Court. He looked round ; took one glance at his visit- 


or's appearance and demeanour — the country face, the country 
clothes, the little country curtsey — then gave her a good-humoured 
nod and a smile that set her at her ease in a moment. 

" Good afternoon to you, ma'am. Tolerably hot here in London, 
isn't it ? " And without waiting for her to answer, the gentleman 
in plain clothes came across the room, gave her a chair, and taking 
one himself, sat down, as though they had known each other since 
childhood, and had met for the express purpose of talking over the 
familiar events of by-gone years together. " You've had a good 
deal of trouble to find my place out, no doubt 1 " he went on, see- 
ing that she Avanted breath still. " Country folk have a trouble in 
finding their Avay about at first, until they get a little used like to 
the town." 

The visitor upon this took out her handkerchief ; first wiped her 
forehead, then her eyes, and observed, in a fluttered way, that 
toAvn for certain was one thing and the country another, and there 
was a deal of wickedness about everywhere— an apothegm at which 
her companion shook his head corroboratively — and she was stay- 
ing with her cousin at Stoke Nemngton, and if she might be so 
bold — cutting short her private history with a nervous jerk — ^was 
she speaking to Mr Wickham 1 

"Well, yes — my name certainly is Wickham," answered the 
gentleman in plain clothes; but with a sort of reluctance, as though 
good-breeding struggled with truth in thus speaking of himseK at 
all. ''And yours, ma'am, I think — " 

She replied, all in strong, midland-county accent, and with utter 
absence of stops, and ever-growing agitation, that her name was 
Sherborne. Susan Sherborne, wife of Thomas Sherborne, of the 
parish of Heathcotes, Stafi'ordshire ; and holding a dairy-farm, as 
his father had done before him, of Sir John Durant, of Durant's 
Court. Mr AVickham had heard of the family at the Court, of 
course 1 Mr Wickham's face interpolates that he is familiar with 
them— and seven months ago come the 10th, a trouble fell on her, 
and on the family too, for the matter of that, and she had never 
been herself since. Not to say ill, but a kind of weakness all over 
and no sleep o' nights — a shake of Mr AVickham's head shows that 
this kind of nervous afl'ection is well known to him personally — 
and so for change of air, though air it isn't (in parenthesis), from 

T 2 


air to no air would be nearer the mark— she came up to spend a 
few days with her cousin, married to a greengrocer at Stoke !N'ew- 
ington, and the mother of five as beautifid children as you'd see 
anywhere. Here she stopped, and put her handkerchief to her 
eyes again. 

""Well, ma'am, nothing happened to any of 'em, I hope?" said 
Mr Wickham, taking out his watch and looking hard at her. 
" ]\Iy time is rather short to-day, and although I'm particularly 
fond of children — " 

" Oh, sir ! " cried the woman eagerly, " it isn't the children at 
all, and I won't keep you five minutes. It was all in the papers 
yesterday, about the girl that was found drowned, you know, and 
my cousin's husband, which a better man and a kinder, out of 
drinli, doesn't live, read it out to us after supper, and if you'll 
believe me, sir, I never timed my eyes all night, thinking from the 
description it might be our Maggie ; and this morning my cousin 
said to me, ' Susan,' she said, * you take a 'bus and go off and try 
whether you can get to see her for yourself or not, for an}i:hing,' 
she said, ' is better than thinking one thing and thinking another 
and fretting yourself, which is here for health, off your rest and 
\dctuals.' And so, sir, by her and her husband's advice, I came, 
as you see." 

"And to me!" exclaimed Mr "Wickham, with innocent per- 
turbation. "Why, my dear soul, whatever on the face of the 
earth made you come to me 1 " 

"Oh, sir! I hope you'll excuse the liberty if I've done wrong, 
but I Avent "^to a police station, somewhere about Dewry Lane, I 
believe, was the name — " 

"Well, there is a police station — there is a police station near 
DeA\Ty Lane, certainly," Mr Wickham admitted ; adhering to Ms 
visitor's pronunciation with the fine breeding that seemed an 
instinct in him. 

"And the people there were very civil, and I Avcntinand spoke 
to him as seemed the chiof, and told him what I came about and 
what I wanted, and says ho, ' Mr Wickham is the person for you 
to see in this : Mr Wickham, Lilac Court,' which I knew no more 
than the babe unborn, and wrote it on an envelope, as I can show 


And she took out an envelope, on wliicli was va^itten, " Mr 
AYickliam, Lilac Court, Fleet Street," with a hieroglyphic of some 
kind or other — a monogram, probably, of the Drury Lane establish- 
ment — scrawled in the corner. 

Mr AVickham took the envelope ; looked at it carefully ; folded 
it down with his broad thumb-nail ; tore it up with an absent air 
into small pieces ; and finally took out and consulted his watch 
again. '' Half-past three ! Well, well, my dear, we must see what 
can be done for you, and we'll hope — for your sake and the young 
woman's sake equal — ^that everything will turn out comfortable. 
Turn out comfortable," he repeated, rubbing his hands slowly to- 
gether, " as most things do, you know, when taken in time. Staf- 
fordshire's a fine county to live in, isn't it ? Clayey ? Ah, so I've 
been told, but fine pastui'e in your neighbourhood. Yes, yes j just 
so. And you've held your land under Sir John Durant aU your 
life, as you may say. And your husband's father before him. To 
be sure. Well, now then I'll teU you what I can do for you in 
this affair. You know who I am, of course ? Mr Wickham — yes, 
that's my name for certain ; but I mean, you know who I am, and 
what my profession is ? " 

Mrs Sherborne suggested, vaguely, " In the law, she supposed ? " 
Her ideas of the constabulary were exclusively confined to blue 
coats, white gloves, and helmets ; and she would have been less 
surprised at hearing that her new friend was Lord Chancellor than 
a policeman. 

"In the law! ha, ha!" Mr Wickham laughed pleasantly. 
'' WeU, that's not so bad. In the law ! and so I am in the law, 
and I'm going to help you with a little of my legal advice. You've 
taken a fancy that this young woman who was found in the river 
is some friend of yours ; and although it's rather late in the day — 
such matters being generally got over quick," adds IMr Wickham, 
with ghastly meaning, '' in this murky sort of thundery weather — 
I'U do what I can for you to have a look at the poor creature. 
Only, first — first, you see, ma'am, for form's sake, I must ask you 
this : Why do you suppose the young woman found drowned in 
the river and your friend are one and the same % " 

j\Irs Sherborne hesitated, and glanced nervously about the room, 
with a haunting recollection still, probably, of the supernatural 


way in which the door had opened to her. "I don't want to get 
any one into trouble, sir " — bringing out her handkerchief again — 
/'and unless I was certain — " 

f " Just so," interrupted Mr "Wickham, reassuringly. " That's it. 
TJnless you were certain, you wouldn't T\ish to mention names, or 
' do anything to bring other people into trouble. That's quite right, 
Mrs Sherborne, and I respect you for the sentiment ; only, you see, 
icliy should you imagine that your friend and the young woman 
found in the river should be one and the same ? That's the ques- 
tion we've got to do 'wiih. now." 

i' " "Well, sir, then, as I must speak, it was the description of the 
person that struck me ; and a finer-grown girl, and a handsomer, 
than Maggie, there was not in the country round, nor a better ; and 
being an orphan, and had lived under my roof since she were 
twelve, I know just as well as if she were my own — and when 
first she went away, seven months ago come the 10th, I never 
would believe, for all one might say and another might say, that she 
had come to harm, nor never would. Only, you see, sir, and you'll 
excuse me for saving it, that where there's a gentleman born in a 
case like this, there's no saying what a girl may be drove to as soon 
as that gentleman born gets tired of her — married or not married." 
And Mrs Sherborne sobbed aloud. 

Mr Wickham got up, took his hat and stick, and called, with- 
out raising his voice, "!N'icholson." AVhereupon a younger man, 
dressed also in plain clothes, appeared through a panelled door, 
which Mrs Sherborne had not noticed, close to the chief's right 
hand. '' I'm going a little way in the City with this good lady, 
Nicholson. !N"o thing particular," giving a single look into the other's 
face, "and nothing that will keep me long. If I am not back at 
five, and Barton calls, tell him I believe I've news of the vessel he 
was wanting to hear about. !N'ow, ma'am, I am at your service." 
And with many gallant apologies for going first, INIr "Wickham pre- 
ceded Mrs Sherborne down the dark and narrow staircase ; then 
out through Lilac Court, and into Fleet Street again. 

"ISTo objection to a two-wheel, ma'am 1" he asked, putting his 
nose close to Mrs Sherborne's ear, in order to make himself heard 
amidst the thimders of the Fleet. ''I thought not;" as Mrs 
Sherborne, in helpless pantomime, expressed that two-wheels and 


four-wheels were the same to her. " The ladies all partrcnize the 
two- wheels now-a-day;" and, waiting a minute or two first, to 
select an extra good horse, Mr "Wickham hailed a hansom ; then 
after handing Mrs Sherborne into it — a work of some trouble, 
for she had never been in such a conveyance before, and required 
minute instructions as to which side she should sit, and what she 
should do "v^dth her basket and her umbrella, an excessively bulky 
one, apparently holding other articles inside — told the cabman to 
drive to some address the country-w^oman could not hear, and jump- 
ing in alertly, took his place beside her. 

They had a long distance to go ; but Mr Wickham made the 
road seem short by the pleasant way in which he lionized the City 
to liis companion. Up that street, to the left, Avas the Old Bailey, 
of which, of course, she had heard tell ; and here was Ludgate Hill 
and Saint Paul's Cathedral ; and the Monument, from which, in 
years gone by, the people used to pitch themselves. And there, 
away to the right, was London Bridge, and this — when they had 
passed into the region of narrow lanes, and water-side avenues 
which lie beside Lower Thames Street and the river — this was the 
way down to the Tower, where the kings and queens used to be 
beheaded, and the docks, the pride and glory of Great Britain, 
before all the nations of the earth. 

IsTot a very pleasant part of the toAvn, Mr Wickham acknow- 
ledges — and as he looks into the wholesome rosy face at his side, 
the contrast between it and the soddened, yellow, miserable faces 
on the pavement strikes even him — but worth seeing too, in its 
way. Folks from the country ought to be able to tell their friends 
they had seen everything, the good and the bad together, — " and 
you must keep your spirits up, my dear," he adds, " and look about 
you, and hope that everything will turn out comfortable yet." 

They drove along through more labyrinths of lanes and avenues ; 
each so dark on this bright summer day, so fetid, so sunless, that 
even with the pleasant gentleman who was protecting her by her 
side, Mrs Sherborne's spirits sank within her at every minute. 
"Keep a good heart, ma'am," whispered Mr Wickham, "keep a 
good heart. We're at our joiu-ney's end now, and you shall have 
your mind set at rest and everything put straight in less than a 
quarter of an hour." And then, opening the lid in the roof, he 


bade the diiver stop at the first turn to the left, when they got to 
the river-side, 

" You'll have to walk a few steps, Mrs Sherborne," he said, turn- 
ing cheerily, as soon as they had alighted, to the poor scared 
woman, from whose honest face every vestige of its natural colour 
had now flown. 

''Just take my arm, and we'll soon know the worst of every- 
thing." Saying which, Mr Wickham turned down a narrow pas- 
sage or foot-road between two ruinous blocks of houses, and after 
walking twenty or thirty steps, stopped before the door of a small 
tavern, squalid and black with dirt, like everything else in the 
neighbourhood, and with a female, apparently a Eed Indian, 
grasping a toasting fork, as she sat upon a particoloured ball, an 
eel writhing under her feet, and ''Britannia" written in yellow 
and green letters above, for a sign-board. 

"Is — is she here, sir V cried Mrs Sherborne, drawing back on 
the threshold of the house. " For the Lord's sake, tell me ! " 

"You come along with me," was Mr Wickham's answer, in a 
somewhat more authoritative tone than the mild and easy one he 
had hitherto employed. " You come along with me, ma'am, and 
keep yourself cool and quiet. "We may be very interested, as is 
natural, in our own little business, you know, but that's no reason 
why we should set other people up to be interested in it too." 

He led her through the passage, or rather through the series of 
crooked passages — do"\^ai one stej), up two, down three again — that 
intersected the house ; speaking a word or two to some person or 
persons behind the red curtain of the bar as he passed ; then out 
into a small strip of land, that might in those regions be called a 
garden, at the back — a garden thickly covered with a deposit of 
oyster, crab, and lobster-shells, but without a trace of flower, tree, 
or plant of any kind. At the bottom of this garden, and on a dead 
level with it. lay the Thames ; golden now in the slanting summer 
sun, and with its stately outward-bound ships floating slowly down 
to the sea. On one side was a nest of dark, broken-down, one-storied 
houses ; on the other a plain stone building, soot-grimed, like cverj^- 
thing else in the district, but comparatively decent ; whole-paned 
at least, and with a look " less like being murdered and quick-limed 
than any of the other places about," as Mrs Sherborne used after- 


wards to say, when narrating all this terrible day's experience to 
her gossips by the comfortable hearth at home. 

To a side-door of this building Mr Wickham, passing out through 
a shattered gate in the ale-house garden, now conducted his com- 
j)anion. His knock was answered in a moment by a policeman in 
uniform — for the first time giving Mrs Sherborne the comforting 
assurance that she was really imder the protection of the law. 

" jVIrs Matthews here ? " inquired Mr Wickham, curtly. 

" Yes, sir," was the answer, given in the same tone, and with 
no look of recognition passing between the officer and the visitor. 

" Send her to me." 

They waited a minute or so ; Mrs Sherborne beyond the power 
of asking questions now, but holding on trembling — stout-nerved 
countrywoman as she was — to Mr "Wickham's arm; then Mrs 
Matthews appeared — a short, stout, hard-featured old woman with 
a smile destined to haunt Mrs Sherborne's rest while she lived : 
such a smile as you might imagine a woman would wear who united 
in herself the offices of searcher and layer-out at a river-side police 
station ; and Mr "Wickham, after a whispered word or two in her 
ear, handed his companion over to her charge. 

" You're only just in time," she croaked, after conducting Mrs 
Sherborne along a dark stone-vaulted passage, and stopping as she 
selected a key from a bunch at her waist. " In half an hour more 
she'd 'a been screwed down. "Walk in, my dear, don't be afeard ! 
and if I was you — not being accustomed — I'd hold my handker- 
chief up over my mouth. La, la ! " as Mrs Sherborne stood faintly 
irresolute before obeying her, ''it's what we must all come to — all 
come to ? " 

And then Mrs Matthews stood placidly thinking of her tea, and 
consoling herself for being interruj)ted in it by some perimnkles 
which she happened to have in her pocket, while the country- 
woman went in alone to look upon the face of the dead. 



"G. S. D." 

Mr WidKHAM had followed the two women closely, and stood 
ready to meet Mrs Sherborne when, at the end of a silent two 
minutes, she tottered back out of the room to which they had 
conducted her. 

A glance, less than a glance, into her face told him all that he 
sought to know ; and in a moment he was at her side, and had 
drawn her hand fast within his arm again. "You keep yourself 
quiet, Mrs Sherborne," he whispered, leading her out of ear-shot 
of the old woman at once. " Don't you say a word — not one ! and 
never fear but that justice will be done to all. I told you things 
would end comfortable, and so they will. Take my word for it." 

And then back the way they had come, too quick to give Mrs 
Sherborne time to cry or break down, he led her through the 
oyster-shell beds, and along the naiTow up-and-down passages of 
the public-house till they reached the bar. Here Mr AVickham 
stopped, and addressed a word or two to a man dressed in a jersey 
and a fur cap, and of a countenance that bespoke a closer acquaint- 
ance with the practices of the ring than with any Christian virtues 
— the landlord, half waterman, half prize-fighter, wholly black- 
guard, of the *' Britannia." 

"Surely, Mr Wickham, surely," he answered, obsequiously. 
"Sarah Ann," opening a door at the back, or river-side of the 
house, "come out a little to me, my dear. Here's a gentleman 
and a lady would like the parlour to have a cup of tea in. Tliis 
way, ma'am," to Mrs Sherborne; "one step down, if you please. 
Sarah Ann, wheel the sofa round to the windoAV. As fine a view 
of the river, though I say it, ma'am, as any in London." 

Sarah Ann was a dark-haired, rather pretty child of fourteen, 
with the unmistakeable look of decent girlhood about her clean 
summer dress and shining hair and modest face : the look that so 
mysteriously meets you sometimes, in these places, and on the 
children of ruffians like this man. She put down her work — very 
smart wool-work it was, Mrs Sherborne noted, as women do note 

"G. s. d/' 283 

the small matters of their world, whatever then' own state of mind 
— with silver paper carefully pinned over it to keep all, save the 
square inch where she was working, clean ; then followed her 
father out of the room at once, smiling shyly at Mr "Wickham, 
who remarked that she really grew out of knowledge every time 
she came home from boarding-school, and IMrs Sherborne and her 
new friend were left alone. 

Mr Wickham came across the room, put a chair for himself 
opposite the rickety horse-hair sofa that the girl had wheeled be- 
side the bay-window, and looked Mrs Sherborne steadily in the 

" ISTow, my good lady," said he, " don't you go to flurry yourself 
unnecessarily. I needn't put any questions, for I see by your face 
that your friend and this young woman that was found in the 
river are one and the same, and, as I told you before, you needn't 
fear but that justice will be done to all. You know, I suppose, 
Mrs Sherborne, that the inquest on the body was held this morn- 

K'o, she sobbed, she knew nothing. Only she was sure — and 
she told Eliza, her cousin at Stoke i!^ewington, the same — that she 
should be too late, however it was. 

*' And were not too late," put in Mr Wickham, quietly. " So 
far from being too late, were just in time, it appears, to establish 
your friend's identity, l^ow, Mrs Sherborne, may I further ask if 
you know what conclusion was arrived at by the jury ? You don't, 
I see ; and I'll tell you. l^o conclusion at all. There was evi- 
dence to prove that a heavy body was heard to fall into the water 
close to the bridge about ten o'clock the night before last, and that 
this woman was discovered dead — drifted in among some vessels not 
a couple of hundred yards from where we are sitting " — ^JMrs Sher- 
borne shuddered — " by an early hoiu' next morning. And there 
was medical evidence from two surgeons, holding different opinions 
as to the direct cause of death (as surgeons mostly do on inquests), 
and that was all. jSTo identification of the body ; no clue to the 
young woman's history in any way. So the jury, directed by the 
coroner, brought in a verdict ' that deceased was found dead in the 
waters of the river Thames, but how she came into the said waters 
there was no evidence to show.' The further management of the 


case was put — now don't you be surprised — into my hands. I am 
Inspector Wickham of the detective force, and the people in the 
office near Drury Lane knew what they were about when they 
advised you to come to me for assistance." 

Mrs Sherborne started up to her feet ; her horror at the sicken- 
ing sight she had been newly forced to look upon ; her grief — and 
very real grief it was — at the confirmation of her fears — every con- 
flicting emotion of her heart swallowed up in the oiie overwhelming 
terror of being in the presence of a detective ! This mild, middle- 
aged gentleman to whom she had talked so freely, and who had 
lionized the City, and given her his arm so pleasantly, a detective ! 
One of that dread force who with a lightning glance, a seemingly- 
careless question, can worm out all secrets from the human breast, 
and deliver men up, whether dukes or beggars, to the dread retribu- 
tion of justice. A detective! and to realize what Mrs Sherborne 
felt, it must be recollected that her belief in the infallible, almost 
omniscient, sharpness of the corps was the pui-ely popular one, 
derived principally from weekly serials, and holding as much 
resemblance to the real detective officer of e very-day life as the 
popular Jesuit, the malignant fanatical fiend of Protestant stories, 
does to the pleasant ^;oco ciirante gentlemen of the Society of Jesus, 
who sit beside you at a dinner-party. 

"If I had only known, sir!" she gasped; ''if I had only 
known," dropping him a curtsey, "I would have s]Doken very dif- 

" Not a doubt of it," interru^Dted Mr AVickham, laymg his hand 
good-humouredly on her arm, and making her sit down again. 
*' If you had known who I was, and Avhat I was about, you'd have 
been so flustered — I've seen it scores of times among your sex, 
ma'am — as scarcely to know whether the deceased was your friend 
or was not. And for that very reason, you see, I kejDt dark until 
you had identified her, and took you quiet and comfortable by a 
side-door to the station, so that you should not be upset by the 
crowd outside (which there mostly is in these parts) nor anything. 
And now, Mrs Sherborne, you take a cup of tea" — this as the 
tawdry slipshod barmaid of the Britaimia opened the door and 
came in with a tea-tray ; *' you take a cup of tea, and give me one, 
and then we'll start off homewards. Push the table over by the win- 

"G. s. D." 285 

dow, Poll}^ and let's see what we've got here. Buttered toast, 
creases, ham, and a plate of s'riinps." Mr "VVickham's tastes were 
evidently understood in the Britannia. ''That will do first-rate, 
and if we want more hot water we'll ring. Now, Mrs Sherborne, 
will you pour out the tea 1 Well, the sofa is low ; suppose you have 
a chair over here ? I can't say I ever fancy a cup of tea unless it 
has been poured out by a lady's hand ! " adds jSIr Wickham, per- 

Upon which, Mrs Sherborne having, with some difficulty, taken 
off her silk gloves, or rather peeled them back after the manner of 
a snake shedding its skin, untied her bonnet-strings, and spread 
out her pocket-handkerchief over the lap of her black silk dress, 
these two singularly-matched companions began their meal toge- 

Lengthened study of our common natui'e had taught Mr Wick- 
ham, among other important psychological truths, that the con- 
science of any fasting human creature is much austerer, much more 
difficult to draw on into confidence, than that of a feasting one. 
It had also taught him practical wisdom concerning the exact 
description of food or drink with which the conscience of persons 
of different ages and sexes may be best propitiated. Thus, with a 
broken-down swell, he would infallibly, at five o'clock of an after- 
noon, order sherry and bitters ; mth the young of either sex, tarts 
and ginger-beer ; mth a ragged outcast of the streets, a " quartern " ; 
with a woman of Mrs Sherborne's age and habits, tea, buttered 
toast, and a relish. And a striking trait of character, a beautiful 
instance of professional zeal, was to be found in the fact that, 
whatever conscience had to be thus propitiated, high or low, male 
or female, Mr Wickham's own digestive powers were ever equal 
to the task of bearing that conscience company during the process 
of propitiation. 

" Another cup of tea, ma'am ? Well, I don't know but what I 
will take another, if you'll keep me in coimtenance — and a bit 
more ham'? Come now, you must." The poor woman, who had 
been traversing London since morning, was really taking her food 
with relish, bnit felt, as many people do, that it was a sort of crime, 
requiring apolog}^, to eat under affliction. " You must keep your 
strength up, you know. jSTow, just a little bit— as thin as a wafer. 


That's it. And so," after a silence, ''this Miss Hall, poor thing, 
had more than one admirer, ehl Ah ! it's generally the case with 
pretty young women — as I am sure you must have known, ma'am. 
And mostly above her in rank. All of them, indeed, I think you 
mentioned 1 " 

" Well, Mr Wickham," answered Mrs Sherborne, confidentially ; 
for, alas for human nature ! two plates of ham, two cups of tea, 
and a few of the detective's artful questions, had made her heart so 
warm towards him, that the names of Gerald Durant and ^liss 
Lucia and Mr Dennison were already as household words to Mr 
Wickham. "I don't say all were above her, for there was young 
Frank Simmons of the mill, as good a lad as ever walked, has 
been ready to marry her any time this two years ; but bless you, 
these young girls '11 never look at an honest lad of their own con- 
dition when once a gentleman have turned their heads with soft 
words and flatteries ! And for certain Mr Gerald is a gentleman 
that any woman, high or low, might be proud to be chosen by— or 
Mr Dennison either — and as fine a made man and perfect a gentle- 
man in his ways, as I ever see ! " 

" And the general opinion, at first, of the country round was 
that Mr Gerald Durant — thank you, Mrs Sherborne, I don't know 
but what I will take a crease or two — that Mr Gerald Durant — 
Gerald Sidney, I think you said ? " — and, mentally, Mr Wickham 
twists the letters G. S. D. into a monogram lilve one he holds in 
his possession — "was the companion of the guTs flight?" 

''Well, it certainly was said by some," answered Mrs Sherborne, 
shaking her head with melancholy emphasis ; " but for my part I 
never s"ee why there should be more suspicion of ]\Ir Gerald than 
of another. Old Sir John took up cruelly hard against him for 
certain, and for the last six months Mr Gerald has not been near 
the Court." 

"And you yourself believe the girl to have been really married, 
Mrs Sherborne, you say 1 " 

"I do, Mr Wickham," she answered, decisively. "I got a 
letter from her, as I told you, a few days after she left, and in that 
letter she spoke of herself and her happiness in a way that I would 
take my oath she wasn't a girl to do unless she had been a lawful 
wedded wife. Why, wasn't she found with a marriage ring tied 

" G. s. D." 287 

on tlie ribbon round her neck, sir ? " cried Mrs Sherborne, eagerly 
and with a trembling voice again. 

" Y — es," answered "Mi Wickham, with deliberation, " that she 
certainly was, and that taken by itself says notliing — less than 
nothing, ma'am. If you'd seen as much of this kind of thing as I 
have, you'd know that people who are going to make away with 
themselves will act a lie — pay money sometimes to carry that lie 
out — as deliberate — as deliberate," repeated Mr Wickham, pausing 
for a simile, " as you or I might do that mean to live. She may 
have been married and she may not, and this Mr Durant may or 
may not have been her lover. Time alone ^7ill bring it all to light, 
and silence. You imderstand my meaning, I hope, Mrs Sherborne, 
when I say, and silence 1 " 

Mrs Sherborne opened her eyes very wide, but made no answer. 

" I don't mean, of course," explained Mr Wickham, " that you 
are not to tell your friends at home of the girl's death, and of your 
having identified her. You say you're going back to Staffordshire 
to-morrow morning, and it's only natural, and indeed "right, that 
you should speak when you get there' of what you have seen. My 
meaning is, that you should in no way seek to throw blame on this 
young gentleman, Mr Durant, or even mention anything about the 
conversation that you have had with me. As far as 1 can make 
out, Mr Durant has suffered a great deal in his reputation, as 
respects a certain party, already, and if, now that that party has 
met with a sudden death, one was to begin saying one thing and 
one another, the young gentleman might be brought into very bad 
trouble indeed. You take my meaning right, Mrs Sherborne ! I'm 
an officer of justice, and the business of my life is to bring the 
guilty to justice, but my maxim always is — shield the innocent, 
and believe every man innocent until he is proved to be guilty ! " 

At the enunciation of these beautiful sentiments from the lips 
of a detective, IMrs Sherborne's honest eyes filled with tears. Mr 
Wickham need have no fear of her, she sobbed. The family at 
the Court were the best friends she and her husband had got" in 
the world. She had known Mr Gerald since he was a baby, and 
had always loved him for his fair face and his winning ways — that 
she had ! and Miss Lucia too ; and in spite of all that was past 
and gone, the best day in her Life would be when she should hear 


the church-bells rmgiiig for their wedding. Hadn't she mentioned 
that they "were lovers 1 — in answer to the keen flash of intelligence 
that passed across "Wickham's face — why, it had been a settled 
thing when Mr Gerald was still in frocks. !N'o one need fear that 
her tongue would do an injury to him, or any of the family, bless 
them ! and she only hoped Mr Wickham would kindly take no 
advantage of anything she might have let fall already — making 
him her country curtsey, and looking imploringly and with tearful 
eyes in his face. 

"Take advantage !" he repeated, almost indignantly. "Why, 
of course not. I only want to see justice done, to you and your 
friends too, and don't you fear but if I can bring anything to light 
in this affair you shall hear from me again. Mrs Sherborne, 
Heathcotes, Staffordshire, I think you said 1 " taking out a small 
pocket-book and a pencil from his pocket. " ]*^ear Hatton — ah, 
yes, near Hatton, Staffordshire. And Heathcotes is on Sir John 
Durant's estate? — to be sure. Now, Mrs Sherborne, do you 
happen to laiow Mr Gerald Diu'ant's address 1 Somewhere West- 
end way, you beheve, and in the Guards. Well, well, that'll do ; 
I don't suppose I am at all likely to want it. And the other 
cousin — the gentleman who was also an admirer of Miss Hall's — 
Mr Eobert Dennison, barrister, lives in a place called the Temple, 
if you remember right ? Just so. Now, ma'am, if you have quite 
done, perhaps you will get ready to start" — Mr W^ickham, whose 
jyetits soins for the fail* sex seemed unbounded, pointed out a small 
dingy looking-glass covered round with pink and green crimped 
paper above th« mantelpiece — " and I'll see you part of the way on 
your journey home. If we look sharp we can walk up to East- 
cheap just in time to catch a six o'clock 'bus direct for Stoke 

A\^h-ich they did. Mr Wickham saw Mrs Sherborne, umbrella 
and all, safely embedded away among fourteen other Stoke Xew- 
ington passengers ; shook hands with her heartily ; hoped they 
would soon meet again; desired his compliments to Mr S. at 
home ; and kissed the tips of his fingers with gallantry as he stood 
carelessly watching the departure of the omnibus from the East- 
cheap office. Then in a second his attitude, his manner, the whole 
expression of his face, seemed to change. 


"Five minutes past six," lie thought, taking out his watch. 
''Time still to look up one or both of these men to-day. The 
lawyer is the least important ; but he comes first upon the road j 
' G. S. D.' can be seen to afterwards." 

And he hailed a cab, jumped into it, and told the man to drive, 
and lose no time upon the way, to the Temple. 



Another long day was wearing towards its close mth Robert 
Dennison. The evening papers had afforded him the scanty in- 
formation that the verdict returned had, by the coroner's direction, 
been an open one. No details of the inquest itself had as yet been 
published, and in a fever of doubt and suspense he was standing 
by his oj)en window, gazing vacantly out upon the gardens and the 
river, and speculating as to what kind of evidence might at this 
moment be in the hands of the police, when a discreet ring — 
neither the loud ring of a friend nor the deprecating ring of a modest 
dun — came at his chambers' door. A minute later, the card of 
Inspector Wickham, of the Metropolitan Police — ^for this time it 
was the policy of Mr Wickham to affect no mystery — was handed 
to him. 

I have already said that once in the broad region of absolute 
falsehood, and Mr Dennison felt himself more at home than in the 
delicate border-land Avhich separates falsehood from truth. It was 
the same with danger. Once face to face with positive peril, in a 
position where his own strong will and keen brain were all he had 
to look to for help, and his nerves felt calmer, his heart freer, his 
face wore more its natural colour and expression than it had worn 
yet during the blank dread of the last twenty- four hours. With 
steady self-possession, overdone in no way, he turned round as 
Inspector Wickham — closely following his card — was announced ; 
gave him the kind of nod a man would naturally give to a gentle- 



man of Mr "Wickham's appearance and profession ; then stood, his 
eyes quietly fixed upon his visitor's face, as though waiting to hear 
•what he had got to say. 

Mr Wickham gave a little cough, and looked down for a second 
at the pattern of the carpet. " I beg your pardon, 'Mr Dennison, 
for calling upon you so late in the afternoon, but the fact is I 
have some rather imjportant business on hand ; and if you are dis- 
engaged — " 

Eobert Dennison glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece, and 
answered that he did not dine till seven — it was five-and-twenty 
minutes past six now — and that he should be happy to give his 
attention to what Mr Wickham had to say. Then he seated him- 
self beside the table in the centre of the room, signing to his visit- 
or to take a chair opposite him, and laid his arm upon it in a sort 
of professional attitude of attention. What could Inspector Wick- 
ham of the police have to say to Mr Dennison, barrister-at-law, 
that was not of a purely abstract or professional character ? 

" It shall not trouble you long," remarked Wickham, upon whom 
none of these indications of calmness were lost ; " and what I have 
got to say I shall say in as plain a manner as possible. I am an 
ofificer of the detective police, Mv Dennison, as you are aware. I 
am employed in the case of the woman who lost her life from 
London Bridge two days ago, and I have come in search of some 
important information which I believe it may be in your power to 
render me concerning her." 

Still not a quiver of the lip ; not a change of hue ; not a second's 
abatement of the black eyes that were fixed on AVickham's face. 
" I shall be happy to hear what you have to say, Mr Wickham ; 
but I need hardly tell you that this is a case wholly different to 
any with which I am ever concerned." 

" You mean in a professional way, Mr Dennison ? " 

Dennison nodded. 

" I am not addressing you in your professional capacity, sir. 
The details I am seeking for, the inquiries I am about to make, are 
strictly private ones. Can you enlighten me in any way as to 
what Margaret Hall's movements have been since she left Heath- 
cotes on the lOth of January last, or who Margaret HaU's com- 


panion was on the night of the 2nd instant— the night of her 

"Margaret Hall!" cried Dennison, starting up eageriy, and 
■with a flush dyeing his dark face. " You don't mean to tell me — " 
His agitation made the words die upon his lips. 

" I mean to say that the hody of the girl who met her death 
from London Bridge two nights ago has been identified, since the 
inquest, as that of Margaret Hall, late of Heathcotes, Stafford- 
shire," answered Wickham, coldly. " I am in a delicate position, 
Mr Dennison, and you are in a delicate position ; but it may save 
a great deal of trouble and vexation to all parties hereafter if you 
answer me one or two plain questions now — although, of course, 
no one knows better than you do, sir, that it rests entirely with 
yourself to do so or not." 

Eobert Dennison sank down into his chair, and passed his hand 
hastily across his eyes. " I am ready to answer any question you 
choose," he said, in an altered voice, after a minute's dead silence ; 
" but there are circumstances connected with the name of Mar- 
garet Hall which make this news a terrible blow to me— a terrible 
blow," he repeated ; and drawing across a decanter of wine that 
stood upon the table, he poured some out into a tumbler, and 
swallowed it at a single gulp. " "Who identified her 1 " he cried, 
as Wickham, silent and impassive, sat and watched his face. 
"Good God! — there may be some mistake still! Margaret Hall 
was a simple country girl— a girl whom I, whom all of our family, 
knew and respected. Who identified her 1 Who knows that she 
was ever in London ? All this must be seen into at once/' 

" The person who identified her was a farmer's wife of the name 
of Sherborne," answered Wickham, quietly. "You know her? 
I thought so. The girl's late mistress at Heathcotes. She is 
staying up here in London, it seems ; and when she read the de- 
scription of deceased in the paper, thought, not unnaturally per- 
haps, Mr Dennison, mider the circumstances, that it might be the 
girl who left her ser\dce seven months ago, as it has proved to 
be. As to the matter being seen into," added Mr Wickham, with 
an expression that on another face might have been a half-smile, 
"you may rest quite easy about that. There is no doubt what- 

o 2 


ever about the identification ; and Avliat I hope and expect to make 
equally clear is this : "What company was Margaret Hall in on 
the night of August the 2nd, the last night of her life 1 Now, 
Mr Dennison, remembering always that it rests entirely with 
yourself to answer or not, may I ask if there is any information 
you can afford me on the subject ? August the 2nd — two nights 

" And I answer that I have not the faintest clue to what you 
seek," answered Dennison, with deliberation. " August the 2nd 
— Tuesday — I was dining at home on that night, I remember, 
with a party of friends. AVhatever question you have to ask, IMr 
Wickham, you must have the kindness to put into plainer lan- 
guage. We shall never come to understand each other by enig- 

" Certainly not. iN'ow, do you object in any way, Mr Dennison 
— as you have a perfect right to do — to tell me the names of the 
gentlemen who formed your party ! " 

*']S^ot the very slightest; although I am wholly at a loss to 
understand the drift of your inquiries. There were," after a 
moment's thought, "Mr Drury, Mr Charteris, Mr Mclvor, and 
Mr Broughton." 

" 1^0 one else 1 " 

" No one. Stay : quite late in the evening my cousin, Mr 
Gerald Durant, came in for a short time." 

" Late in the evening. I suppose by that, sir, you mean a little 
late for dinner 1 " 

" I do not. My cousin was not expected for dinner ; indeed, 
he only returned from the Continent late that evening." 

" And at what time do you suppose he came here to your cham- 
bers ?" 

* ' AVell, I really don't recollect. Eleven — twelve o'clock, per- 
haps. Yes, it must have been about twelve, I should say." 

"And you did not yourself leave home at all that night?" 

"Most certainly not. I was with the friends who dined with 
me, as I told you." 

" I see. Woidd you mind stating, Mr Dennison, if yon remarked 
anything at all nnnsual about your cousin's manner or appearance 
-on that evening when he visited you 1 " 


Dennison's eyes, when the question was asked, were hent 
gloomily on the carpet, as though he was still pondering over the 
death of that ''simple country girl, whom he and his family had 
kno"\vn and respected." He raised them now, with a sudden flash, 
a sudden glow, rather, of red light within their sombre depths, to 
Wickham's face, and for the first time during the interview a 
guilty look of confusion, of hesitation, crossed his own. If that 
look had been acted, Kobert Dennison must have possessed the 
genius of a Kemble or a Kean ? But it was genuine : and Mr 
Wickham, tolerably versed in histrionic display, recognized its 
genuineness, and, being only human, built up a theory in his ovm 
mind on the instant. 

Mr Dennison was cool and collected in accounting for himself 
on that fatal evening of the 2nd ; was betrayed into an admission 
of Mr Durant's untimely visit to him; and then, at the first 
question resjoecting Mr Durant's demeanour, hesitated and grew 
confused, "What, unless he had grounds for suspecting his cousin's 
implication in the girl's fate, should cause this change in him 1 
If he was positive of Durant's innocence, what made the last a 
more embaiTassing question to answer than any of the former ones ? 

" I have no right to expect a reply, Mr Dennison, but it rests 
with you to refuse to give me one, and I repeat my question again. 
Did you see anything unusual in your cousin's manner or appear- 
ance on that evening of the 2nd when he -visited you 1 " 

Under certain conditions of extreme nervous tension most men 
must have experienced the sudden enlargement of grasp and vision 
with which the brain seems to become endowed. Before the mind 
of the huntsman whose horse is galloping towards a precipice, of 
the prisoner at the bar waiting for the first word of the foreman's 
lips, the concentrated perceptions of a dozen ordinary years seem 
to crowd in those few moments of agonized surprise. It was thus 
with Eobert Dennison now. As AYickham questioned hhn about 
Gerald, and as he looked up with that expression of doubt, of 
guilt beyond even his subtlety to hide, upon his face, a train of 
reasoning, a summing-up of possibilities that it would take me 
pages to elaborate, had passed — mechanically, it seemed to him ; 
he was in no condition just then for any sensible exercise of will 
— across his brain. He remembered all the country rimiours, 


never fully set at rest, with respect to Gerald and Maggie Hall ; 
the strong motive for being rid of her which his relations with 
Lucia might be supposed to supply ; remembered Gerald's strange 
manner and significant remark of having seen "a Staffordshire 
face " upon the evening of the dinner-party ; remembered, finally, 
that the only proofs which had ever existed of his own marriage 
were ashes since yesterday ! So much for the past, j^ow for the 

If Gerald were publicly accused of havuig had any share, dii-ect 
or indirect, in Maggie , Hall's death, he was, unless he could posi- 
tively establish his innocence, irrevocably ruined. And on 
Gerald's ruin — the ruin of the man who had stood to him and to 
his secret so staunchly — might rest his own strongest hope of sal- 
vation. At this moment the die was probably being cast on 
which the lives of one, or both, of them should hang. This mo- 
ment, if ever, was the time for him to speak. Should he not 
speak 1 He had committed no crime. He had only made a fool- 
ish marriage : only neglected a low-born wife of whom death had 
ridded him. (Ay, but a shameful death — such a death as would 
make true men shrink from him, true women keep him from their 
houses : a death that, if known, would be a blot upon his name, a 
barrier in his path, such as her life, had she lived, could never hav€ 
been !) And if the worst came to the worst, that only could be 
discovered. His presence at home on the night of her death was 
a fact to be proved by half a dozen witnesses. He could but come, 
eventually, to the shame of having concealed his marriage, and — 
and the cowardice of having left another man, an honest man and 
a generous, to bear the burthen of his guilt ! 

Eobert Dennison's face blanched to an awful grey ; the dark, 
massive-hewn lips trembled, almost for the first time in his life. 
" I — I must have time ! " he stammered. " How can I undertake 
to remember whether there was anything unusual in my cousin's 
manner or not 1 " 

"In other words, Mr Dennison, you decline giving any answer 
to the question." 

Dennison covered his face with his hands, and felt with a start 
the cold thick dew that was standing upon his forehead. To what 
dark suspicions against himself might not this vacillation, this 


womanisli sentimental weakness, give birth 1 What had he to do 
with Quixotic remorse about Gerald's possible danger 1 Gerald's 
unstained innocence of course would be his shield. Of what good 
is unstained innocence if it requires alien assistance in time of need ? 
" You are perfectly right, Mr Wickham. I decline answering 
any question except upon matters that concern me alone. Of those 
I will answer as many as it pleases you to ask." And he rose 
from his chair, and folding his arms, turned round and confronted 
Wickham with a look that told him plainly he considered it time 
for their interview to be at an end. 

Mr Wickham got up in a moment and took his hat and stick 
from the chair where he had deposited them. " T fully appreciate 
your motives, Mr Dennison," he remarked, " and know that you 
act as one gentleman should do towards another, particularly a re- 
lation. The case is a very painful one — it seems likely to me will 
become more painful still — but I hope you don't think I have ex- 
ceeded my duty, sir, in the questions that I have asked ? " 

No, answered Mr Dennison, stiffly, he did not. In such a call- 
ing as Mr Wickham's, no doubt it was a duty to go through many 
interviews as fruitless and as painful to the feelings of the people 
concerned in them as this one had been to him. And then he 
consulted his watch, and after comparing it carefully — for his 
nerve had thoroughly returned to him now — with the clock above 
the mantelpiece, remarked that it was already past his dinner-hour. 
"And you will have no objection, Mr Dennison, I suppose, to 
give me the addresses of the different gentlemen who dined with 
you on the 2nd 1 " said Wickham, taking out a well-worn note- 
book from his pocket. *' This is the last question with which at 
present I am obliged to trouble you." 

Robert Dennison hesitated for a second, then determined that, 
at the pass to which he had now come, truth, literal, uncompro- 
mising truth, was the safest path for him to tread in. He had told 
no falsehood yet, had not compromised his cousin in aught. If a 
train of unforeseen coincidences shoidd hereafter draw down false 
suspicion upon Gerald, it would be for Gerald to clear himself. 
His own safest course — ^nay, his own duty now — was to act as 
straightforwardly as honour consistently would allow him to act, 
and leave the future to shape itself as it might. 


"I am perfectly ready, sir, to tell you where any friend of mine 
lives. ]\Ir Charteris, Mr Drury, Mr Broiighton, Mr Mclvorj ' 
and he gave him the address of each in full. 

"And your cousin, Mr Gerald Durante" asked Wickham, 
pausing after he had carefidly written down the different addresses 
that Dcmiison gave him. 

"My cousin, Mr Durant, lives in the same house with Mr 
Mclvor, 102, Clarges Street." 

" Thank you, Mr Dennison. I am very much obliged for the 
way in wliich you have answered my questions. Good evening to 
you, sir. In a few more days I shall prohably find it necessary to 
call upon you again." With which comforting assurance, Denni- 
son having answered that he should of coiu-se be willing to see him 
on business whenever he chose to call, Mr "Wickham took his leave. 

It was within a few seconds of a quarter past seven when he 
tm'ned out of the Temple into Fleet Street, and for a moment Mr 
Wickliam stood and pondered irresolute. These young West-end 
swells, he thought, generally dined about eight. He might have 
time yet to get a look at Mr Durant on his way to his club, for Mr 
AVickham was quite intimate with the habits of Guardsmen, as in- 
deed he was intimate with the habits of every class of men in Lon- 
don. At all events, there could be no harm done by looking him 
up; seeing the house he lived in; speaking, perhaps, to his 
servant ; getting hold, as it were, of the first end of the thread, 
which would serve as a clue hereafter to Mr Durant's ways of life. 
He had broken in already upon all his other business by the 
number of hours he had devoted to Mrs Sherborne ; the remainder 
of the day might as well be given over to the same case ; the case 
which Mr Wickham's professional acumen alread}^ made him feel 
was likely to turn out a very different one to the common-place 
"street accident" which this morning he and his confreres had be- 
lieved it to be. To ^have traced out the old trite story of poverty 
and of misery to its old trite source had been but a sorry triumph for 
a man of Wickham's standing. To bring home abduction, cruelty, 
desertion, if nothing worse, against a man in the position of this 
Mr Durant, was a prospect that stimulated the keenest emotions, 
the highest ambitions, of his breast. Yes, he decided he woidd 
lose no unnecessary time ; he would, at least, call at the house 


wTiere the young Guardsman lived, at least put sometliing in train 
ready for to-morroAv's work. And hailing another hansom as he 
reached the Strand, he jumped in ; a quarter of an hour later dis- . 
charged it with his accustomed discreetness in Piccadilly ; and 
then proceeded leisui'ely and on foot to No. 102, Clarges Street. 

His ring was answered, as it chanced, 'not hy the servants of the 
house, but by Gerald's own gentleman, Mr Bennett; who, ele- 
gantly but jilainly dressed, was just starting on his own pleasure — 
possibly to dine at his own club — and who held his nose very high 
in the air on perceiving " the sort of person " who was making in- 
quiries for his master. 

" The vally," thought "Wickham, taking poor Mr Bennett's ac- 
curate measure with half a glance. "Ah, ah, young man! you 
and I will have a good deal to say to each other before we've done, 
I dare say ! " Then aloud, " Mr Durant gone out of town, has he] 
"VYell, and when do you expect him back to town, my friend 1 " 
resting one of his strong arms within the door, carelessly, as it 
seemed, but just sufficient to hinder Mr Bennett from slamming 
it in liis face, as he appeared to have every intention of doing. 

The term "my friend," the outstretched arm, and a certain 
latent expression in Wickham's eyes, brought down the nose of 
the gentleman's gentleman by some inches. Mr Gerald Durant, 
he knew, was as much in debt as any man keeping above water at 
all can be ; and it suddenly struck Mr Bennett's intelligence that 
the visitor, as likely as not, was a sheriff's officer, with whom it 
might be prudent for him to hold civil parlance during his master's 

" "Well, I don't suppose Mr Diu:ant will be away more than 
three or four days. We generally stay about that when we go to 
the Court. If there's any message I can take, I shall be very 
happy." Mr Bennett, out of his master's presence, had quite the 
proper drawl of high life. " I rather believe I'm going down there 
myself to-morrow." Languidly tliis, and as if travelling was an 
intense bore to a London man of his far niente habits. 

"No, no. I don't want to send any message," said Wickham, 
and as he spoke he stepped quietly inside the passage. " You are 
Mr Durant's vally, I suppose? I thought so. Then we're all 
among friends. The fact is, you see "—lowering his voice, and 


pushing to, but not shutting the door, "your master owes a pretty 
round sum of money to a certain friend of mine " — the broad facts 
of human nature told Mr "VVickham that this was a hypothesis likely 
to savour of reality in the case of any young Guardsman, *' and 
I've just called round to see if things could not be arranged quiet 
and agreeable for all parties. Now, my friend has no more wish 
than I have to press matters too hard ; and of course it's to his 
advantage and the young gentleman's advantage — to all our ad- 
vantages, I may say — that your master should keep on terms with 
his uncle, Sir John Durant. I understood you right ] he has gone 
to his uncle's house in Staffordshire now ? Yes. Well, then, give 
us your opinion — between friends, of course — is Mr Durant all 
square with the old gentleman, do you think 1 and his daughter ] 
for you see I know the whole family history by heart. If ho is, 
and if eveiy thing's Likely to come off pleasant and soon, my friend's 
the last man — the last man living," said Mr Wickham, warmly, 
" to be down on any young gentleman of good prospects." 

And led away by the visitor's genial manner, feeling thoroughly 
convinced, too, that his own first view of his vocation was a cor- 
rect one, Mr Bennett spoke. Right ] Why, lord love you ! — for 
being in earnest he forgot to be elegant — nothing could be more 
right. A coolness 1 Well, he had never heard an}i:hing of it, or 
never seen anything of it himself. Mr Durant corresponded fi-e- 
quently with all the family, and the marriage for certain would 
not be delayed beyond next autumn. They had not been home 
three days from the Contineut now, and IMr Durant was off to the 
Court abeady — one of the finest seats and oldest families in Staf- 
fordshire, that and Lord Sandford's, which was the most intimate 
friend old Sir John had ; and it icas said meant between them to 
put Mr Gerald Durant into parliament at the " disillusion," which 
he, Mr Bennett, believed to be on the eve of taking place. 

" So I'm told, so I'm told," said Mr Wickham, after pausing a 
moment and tapping his chin reflectively with the head of his 
stick; **but, not being a political character myself, can't say. At 
all events, Mr Bennett, it's a great matter for a young gentleman to 
keep on terms with elderly relatives — especially when those elderly 
relatives have money and only daughters ! and the advice I mean 
to give to my friend is to have patience for a bit. I might look 


round here again in the course of a week or so, and I might not," 
added Mr Wickham, candidly, as he pushed open the door and 
went out into the street again. '' But if I did, it woidd be as be- 
tween friends, you understand, Mr Bennett 1 Just to pick up a 
word or two from you as to how things are going on." 

]Mr Bennett nodded intelligently ; congratulating himself mean- 
while upon the success of his o'vvn admirable diplomacy. 

" jS'o where near here where I should be likely to see you with- 
out coming to the house 1 " hazarded Mr "Wickham ; and turning 
round as though the thought had struck him suddenly when he 
was already moving away from the door. " If there's one thing I 
hate more than another in these matters, it is formality. Patience 
and a friendly spirit, I say to my clients, is a great deal more likely 
to get money out of a young gentleman in difficulties than dun- 
ning and tormenting and bothering his life out ! and if there was 
any place, Mr Bennett, any place that you frequent, as one may 
say, at odd hours ? " 

Thus pressed, Mr Bennett admitted that there was a retreat in 
which a good many of his leisure hours, of an evening especially, 
were passed : the Star and Eaffle, a public on your right as you 
turned down the adjoining mews towards HaK-Moon Street. 
Hearing which, Mr Wickham, with a friendly nod and a remark 
that if he had occasion again to see Mr Bennett, the Star and 
Raffle would be the place where he should seek him, started forth 
in excellent spirits upon his homeward road. 

He had gained no direct evidence certainly by his visit to 
Clarges Street ; but he had heard enough collectively, during his 
afternoon's work, to convince him that suspicion, sinister and thick, 
was gathering fast around G-erald Durant. And a light shone in 
Mr Wickham' s keen eyes as he walked. No more human emotion 
stirred in him at hunting down the evidence that should destroy a 
man's life than stirs in an etymologist as he unravels the knotty 
derivations of a Greek verb j or in a geologist as he searches for 
tidings of the Stone Age among the implements of the drift. The 
" London Bridge Case " had been made over into his hands ; and he 
was simply performing his day's duty conscientiously before going 
home to his cottage garden and his little children at Kentish 
Town. If Mr Durant was innocent, so much the better for Mr 


Durant : if guilty, so much the "better for his own professional le 
putation. And reviewing all that he had gathered to-day — Mrs 
Sherborne's story of the old county scandal ; Eobert Dennison's 
hardly-wrung admission of his cousin's visit on the evening of the 
2nd ; the confession of the valet that his master was in difficulties, 
and looked to a wealthy marriage for his rehabilitation — reviewing 
all this evidence, line by line, almost word for word, and adding 
it to certain other facts already in his possession, Mr Wickham 
felt as sure as he had ever felt of anything in his life that he held 
the first links of a successfid. chain of evidence within his hands. 

As he passed out of Clarges Street into Bolton How he stopped 
— following an old constabulary habit of early days, rather than 
for any particular reason — and took a look down each of the four 
openings for a few^ seconds. Then, as he twisted round with the 
peculiar pivot-action of the profession, found Imuself nose to nose, 
almost in the arms of a gentleman who at that moment was in the 
act of tui-ning into Clarges Street. The gentleman was dressed in 
very well-cut evening clothes, partially concealed by a gossamer 
over-coat of the same -pole colour as his face and hair ; and in his 
button-hole was a dandy bouquet, and in his eye an eye-glass. 

" Deuce take you ! " he drawled ; as the sudden turn of Mr 
"Wickham's robust person sent him, with a shock, about six inches 
from his sphere, and the dandy bouquet flying across the pavement. 
" I must really beg, sir — " 

And then their eyes met, and the sequel of the bellicose com 
mand remained for ever unspoken. 

" Why, Jemmy ! " cried 'Wickham, laying his hand familiarly 
on the other's shoulder, and looking carefully up and down every 
item of his dress, from the exquisite boots up to tlie single pearl 
(Palais Eoyal, I fear) of his necktie — "Jemmy ! w^hatever lay are 
you on nowl" 

" "Well," said Jemmy, perfectly calmly, the first momentary sur 
prise over, "I'm on what I fancy, in yoiu? profession, is termed 
the swell lay, Mr Wicliham, so it's annoying, isn't it, to have my 
bouquet smashed ? You haven't half-a-crowTi you could lend me, 
I suppose, to buy another? I'm just going to dine with a friend 
of mine down here, and come out as usual without a farthing of 
change about me." 


The request, or the tone in which it was made, had evidently 
the effect of a very excellent joke upon Mr Wickham. " It's a 
most singular fact, Mr Harcourt," he answered, with great honhomie, 
" Harcourt — ^Vavasor— Yere de Vere ! whatever the alias is now— 
but I was just going to ask a similar favour of you. I haven't a 
farthing's worth of change about me, as luck will have it. How- 
ever, you're quite swell enough," he added, looking admiiingiy at 
him anew. " Swell enough to dine at the Carlton, or the Guards' 
Club either, I'm sm^e." 

" Ah, that's just where I happen to be going," responded Jemmy, 
pleasantly. " Odd, is it not, that you should have guessed'? I'm 
just going to call on my friend Durant, here in Clarges Street, and 
walk round with him to his club to dmner." 

"Mr Gerald Durant, 102, Clarges Street 1" 

Jemmy nodded ; not in the least surprised, apparently, at Wick- 
ham's knowing any number of particulars on any given subject. 

" Are you going to dine mth him by invitation 1 " 

" No, not exactly by invitation. I made acquaintance with him 
over the other side of the water, and he asked me to look him up 
when I came to town, so knowing his hours — " 

''You thought you would do him the honour of dining at his 
club, and if by a fluke you could get iuto the card-room, teach him 
to play ecarte afterwards 1 " 

"I've taught him that already," interpolated Jemmy, with a 
little innocent smile. 

"Then, my friend, you won't repeat the lesson to-day. Mr 
Gerald Dui-ant is in Staffordshire." , 


" In Staffordshire, and not likely to be back for some time. You 
made a pretty good lunch to-day, I hope. Jemmy 1 " 

" Well, no ; I made a very bad one. I meant to dine mth 
Durant. The fact is, I've only been in town a few hours, and the 
dust one swallows here is food enough at first to a man imaccus- 
tomed for some years to his native air. Wonderful, really, how 
people contrive to live in London ! " 

" Ah, it is — it is wonderful how some people contrive to live 
anywhere," answered Wickham j not in the least intending to be 
ironical, and again looking with highly complimentary approval at 


his friend's appearance. "I suppose now, Mr Randall" — for a 
moment Jemmy did change countenance at that word — "you 
would not condescend to come and have a bit of dinner with me ? 
I know of a tidy place or two Oxford Street way, and — " 

*'Ifothing would suit me better, I assure you," interrupted 
Jemmy, easily. "While we live we must dine, and if not at the 
Guards' Club, why in Oxford Street ; provided always it is at the 
expense of another man." 

And a few minutes later the pair, arm in arm, and deep in con- 
versation, were making their way northward through Berkeley 
Square. N'o play for Mr Wickham with the children in the 
little Kentish Town garden to-night. As a random shot, hoping 
only to pick up stray hints as to Gerald Durant's comings and 
goings abroad, he had invited his newly -found friend to accompany 
him. With the first answer given by "Jemmy" on the subject, 
he saw that chance had thrown him across another and most im- 
portant -witness regarding the last day of Margaret Hall's life : and 
on the spot, Mr Wickham decided that the " bit of dinner " should 
change into an affair of courses and champagne. 

Tea and toast had been sufficient to appease the honest bucolic 
scruples of Mrs Sherborne. A conscience of a highly sensitive 
(and expensive) order had to be set at rest now. 


durant's court. 

The light of a cloudless August morning was shining upon the 
old house and garden down in Staffordshire. Shining with ruddy 
warmth upon the glistening vari-coloured tiles in which the " rose 
and crampette," the family badge, was worked upon the pinnacled 
gables : flecking with shafts of quivering brightness the grey stone 
mullions of the narrow windows ; illuminating in amber and gold 
the mouldering cartouche shield upon the eastern front which 
told, as well as you could decipher for ivy, how the house was 

durant's court. 303 

built by a certain Hugh Durant, in the year of grace 1570, and 
where the Durant arms, lichen-grown, and stained mth the weather 
of three hundred winters were sculptured. 

August was the month of the year when the Court garden was 
at its zenith. Geraniums-, calceolarias, verbenas, all were in their 
fullest blaze of colour now ; nor was the sight the only sense 
gratified, as in too many modem gardens is the case. Far and 
wide across the lawns was blown the subtle, cinnamon fragrance 
of the cedars ; clove carnations and scented pinks were plentiful in 
the borders; the magnolia in the sheltered south angle of the 
Court was covered with blossoms that filled the air with their in- 
toxicating sweetness — a sweetness to which the odour from peaches 
and nectarines in the pleached alleys close at hand was married 
most deliciously. 

It was a garden that, once seen upon a summer morning like 
this, was apt to haunt, not your memory only, but your heart ; as 
a sweet old tune does, or a fair and noble face out of one of Van- 
dyck's pictures. Every part of it was laid out strictly in accord- 
ance with the fashion of the times in which the house was built. 
There were images cut in jumper or " other garden stuffe ; " little 
stiff 3''ew-hedges, with occasional pyramids, statues, and fountains ; 
spacious turf-walks, set as in the days when Bacon wrote, with 
burnet, wild thyme, and water-mints to perfume the air when 
trodden upon and crushed, and in disregardance of all those rules 
of modem horticulture which keep fruit and flowers distinct, fruit- 
trees, espaliered, were ranged on either side of most of the bordered 

And in its quaint antiquity, in its defiance of science and of 
fashion, alike, lay the potency, the human element, of its charm. 
Just as within the walls of Durant's Court you were o^^ercome by 
inseparable associations of the men who had been bom and rejoiced 
over, who had sorrowed and died there, so under the cedars, and 
in the shaded walks and alleys of the garden, you were haunted 
by mute memories of the youthful vows that must have been ex- 
changed, the youthful lips that must have kissed here in the lapse 
of time between Elizabeth and Victoria. The love-whispers of a 
dozen buried generations, the roses of three hundred or so dead 
Junes seemed to have left some lingerkig echo, some intangible 


pathetic fragrance in every nook and corner of the unchanged old 
place. Love ^\SiS in its atmosphere ! And with the August sun 
shining over all as it did now, the warm air rich with odours, alive 
Avitli the hum of bees and voices of birds, it looked as fitting a 
scene as could have been found anywhere for the enactment of the 
first brightest act in the play of life. A fitting background to the 
two figures, a young man's and a girl's, who were standing together 
on the lawn beneath the cedars ; the sun flickering down on the 
gui's white dress and delicate cheek as she looked up with quiet 
happiness, with the perfect assurance of acknowledged and re- 
quited love, into her companion's face. 

For Gerald and Lucia were once more openly affianced lovers ; 
and Lady Durant, too happy in her heart to see them so, no longer 
gave lectures against undue demonstrations of feehng before mar- 
riage. Ten days had passed on now since the prodigal had first 
returned and been forgiven ; and — while Mr Wickham, with un- 
slacked ardour, was pusliiug forward inquiries in London, and 
daily gaining fresh evidence in support of the case that he was 
working — no faintest rumour of the position in which he stood 
had as yet reached Gerald's own ears or to the Court. His first 
interview with Sir John Durant had been a characteristic one ; 
the old man for the first five minutes vehemently declaring that 
unless his nephew could prove his innocence regarding !^Laggie 
Hall, he would never receive him back to his fireside or to liis 
aff'ection ; and Gerald, with perfect firmuess, but admirable courtesy 
and temper, declaring that he neither could nor would seek to 
prove one circumstance that should exonerate liimself ! "I have 
already told you, on my honour, that I am guiltless," he said, 
simply. " I have told you that I have had reasons impossible to 
explain for bearing the imputation silent hitherto, and it rests with 
you now, I think, to take the stigma away from me or not. Say 
one word, sir, and I will leave your house in five minutes and re- 
turn to it if you choose no more." And Sir John, looking into his 
handsome face, the face that had never lied to him during all the 
bygone years, had not only held out his hand to Gerald on the 
spot, but asked him with tears in his eyes to forgive them all for 
the wrong that they had done to him by their suspicions. 

This was immediately after Gerald's arrival at the Court. On 


the very day following, Mrs Sherborne, with her dark news of 
Maggie Hall's death, returned to Heathcotes j and while Lucia in* 
the first happiness of reconciliation was wandering, her hand on 
Gerald's arm, through the woods and gardens of the Court, many 
were the whispered asides of the county world as to the oppor- 
tuneness of Mr Durant's return at this particular season, the 
heartlessness of Lady Durant in allowing him with such hot haste 
to be again the suitor of her daughter. 

A woman who, at the best of times, barely tolerates the people 
she lives amongst, is sure of receiving pretty stringent criticism 
upon her actions when occasion arises. All the pottery ladies who 
had been snubbed — ignored, perhaps, is the juster word — by Lady 
Durant, felt it their duty now to express what they, as mothers, 
thought with regard to her conduct. As long as Maggie Hall 
lived, Mr Durant — married, or unmarried, who should say? — had 
been banished from the Court : on the day succeeding her death — 
let it be hoped a death that was fairly come by ! — he appeared 
openly among them again, as Miss Durant's future husband. Of 
course, every one trusted sincerely that Mr Durant had had no 
share in the unhappy girl's betrayal ; still it must be confessed 
that things looked most suspicious against him, and that it would 
have been more delicate — not to say human — of Lady Durant had 
she allowed a little longer time to elapse before bringing him for- 
ward again in the eyes of the world at her daughter's side. 

This'was the outside, or neighbourly, view of the position ; Lady 
Durant meanwhile leading her accustomed untroubled life, in 
happy ignorance of what was being whispered by the people who 
courted her bow as she drove abroad, or flocked round her carriage 
whenever it stopped in the village, to offer congratulations on the 
now openly-acknowledged engagement of her daughter. Led by 
the instinct which, in a true woman's heart so seldom errs. Lady 
Durant had never, from the first, shared her husband's suspicions 
against Gerald, and the only really strong feeling she had with re- 
gard to Mrs Sherborne's story w^as — its indecorum. It was, of 
course, impossible actually to keep from Lucia the fact of her old 
playmate's death : the news told, and Lady Durant made an ex- 
press request that no allusion should ever again be made to the 
subject in her hearing. It was about the first time in her calm. 


sequestered, selfish existence, that any of the grosser accidents of 
every-day life — passion, abandonment, despair : possibilities unre- 
cognized by Mrs Hannah INIorc as ever likely to compromise the 
sensibility of a woman of refinement — had been thrust upon her 
own personal experience ; and the easiest way of getting rid of the 
unpleasant sensations they occasioned was, obviously, not to talk 
about them. Poor, common, erring human nature being the one 
element which Lady Durant had never taken into consideration in 
her otherwise admirable scheme of human life ; she was about as 
well fitted to cope with any of its ordinary manifestations as were 
the pious cloistered nuns fitted to cope with common storm and 
common sunshine, when the French Eevolution first opened the 
convent doors and sent them adrift upon the world. 

On one point only, kindly and charitable as she was, did the 
mistress of Durant's Coiu't entertain any decided opinion in the 
matter, namely, that it was a very merciful thing it had pleased 
providence the poor creature Maggie should have been taken. It 
was an awful judgment, upon herself, of course, and a solemn warn- 
ing to all other young women in that condition of life ; still, if a 
member of any good family had been implicated, as was supposed, 
in the unhappy girl's flight, it was a mercy for which that family, 
and, indeed, all right-thinking persons, could not be too thankful 
that she was " released." And when Mrs Sherborne went away, 
with tear-stained face and acliing heart, after the first dreaded or- 
deal of breaking the news at the Court, the honest woman felt 
duly cast down at the benignity of Providence mth respect to the 
gentry (as contradistinguished from the lower classes) which Lady 
Durant, in a lecture of an hour and a half, had pointed out to her. 

" My lady spoke up beautifid," she told her husband that night ; 
''all 'about the ^vicked cease from troubling,' and other texty's, 
Thomas ; but Sir John, he cares most at heart for our poor girl's 
death. The tears were in Sir John's eyes, mark you, and when my 
lady had gone away he says to me, ' Mrs Sherborne, bo satisfied 
the right shall be done yet, and whoever did this thing, or caused 
the girl to do this, shall be brought to justice if I've any power to 
bring him there.' My lady's very kind and very good, but she 
lias her feeling, you see, Thomas, as a lady, and Sir John he has 
his feelings as a gentleman ; and nothing can be more difi'erent than 


the feelings of a lady and of a gentleman," added Mrs Sherborne, 
" where a handsome girl like poor Maggie is concerned." 

And she was right. In small domestic matters the kindly weak 
old man was, happily for himself, entirely under his wife's domina- 
tion. In any position where he felt his honour, however remotely, 
to he touched he consulted no one. And honour and justice alike 
called upon him to be in some sort the champion of the dead girl ; 
every plough-boy, every dairy-servant on his estate, being, according 
to the old man's stately feudal ideas, a rightful claimant upon his 
protection. That Gerald had been wholly innocent of taking 
Margaret Hall from her home he believed now upon his soul. On 
whose head the guilt of her death lay, God only knew ! but had 
his own son lived and Sir John Durant suspected him of being tha 
man, he would have felt it his plain duty as a gentleman to help to 
bring him to justice. 

It was a case simply in which every chivalrous instinct of his 
nature bade him take up the side of the weak against the strong. 
Towards the follies which men, collectively, have agreed to con- 
done, or call by no worse name than follies. Sir John Durant's 
conscience was as passively elastic as are the consciences of most 
men who have lived their threescore years and ten on the earth. 
He was no Don Quixote to espouse the cause of a dairy-girl who 
of her own free-will had forsaken her duty, and then — following 
the natural law of such matters — been forsaken in her turn. But 
Mrs Sherborne's story, the vague insinuations of the newspapers, 
had hinted to him a far darker suspicion than that of abandoned 
love or broken trust; the suspicion that Margaret Hall, a law- 
fully-married wife, had come by her death unfairly. And quietly, 
and -without speaking to any one in the house of what he had 
done, the old man ^vrote off at once to his London lawyer, desiring 
him to inquire into the circumstances of the ''London Bridge 
case " at once, and, if need be, offer a reward in his name for the 
discovery of any person or persons concerned in the girl's death. 
''She had been accidentally identified as a farm-servant of one of 
his oldest tenants," he -wrote, "and some suspicion seeming to rest 
upon the manner of her death, he felt it a kind of personal duty 
to encourage the fullest investigation in the matter." And the 
reward of £100 had been duly offered and posted ; and Mr Wick- 

X 2 


ham — knowing the quarter from whence it came — had prosecuted 
his researches mth redouhled energy, duly informing Sir John 
Durant's lawyer how the case was heing successfully "worked," 
and how quiet and patience were, he believed, all that was requi- 
site to bring home guilt to the rightful party in this mysterious 
affair. Ever^^ word of which intelligence was read morning after 
morning by Sir John at the breakfast table, with Gerald sitting 
at Lucia's side, and Gerald's face and laugh making the old room 
bright as it had never been during the last bitter months of his 
estrangement from the Court. 

Eobert Dennison's name, as if by tacit consent, was seldom 
mentioned among them during this time. Once or twice old Sir 
John had said something about writing and making Eobert come 
down, with Conyers, to talk over electioneering matters, and 
Gerald each time had remarked, in a joking tone, but with a 
serious face, that he should certainly go back to London for the 
occasion ; old Conyers and Eobert Dennison discussing business 
being something altogether out of his sphere. The days, how- 
ever, passed on without Dennison either writing or making his 
appearance; and as it was now near the middle of August, Sir 
John began to say that Eobert must certainly have gone out of 
toAvn — probably out of England, as usual, for the rest of the 
vacation — a belief which Gerald, who shranlv from meeting his 
cousin as though he had himself been the guilty one of the two, 
w^as not slow to encourage. 

As much as it was in his easy nature to despise any one, he 
despised Eobert Dennison now. A man might be cynical, selfish, 
facile-principled, and so long as he was a gentleman, so long as 
his failings Avere decently glossed over by refinement, Gerald 
Durant could like him still. What were the majority of the men 
he lived amongst, and called by the name of friends ? Wliether 
Eobert Dennison had or had not been legally married to Maggie 
Hall, there were no present means — setting aside the evidence of 
those two letters he had returned to him in Morteville — of telling. 
Married, or not married, there could of course be little doul^t as 
to his wearying in six weeks of the poor creature's society ; and 
Gerald was the last man to blame another for the inconstancy of 
feeling which in his own case he regarded as a happy natural in- 

durant's court. 309 

firmity, rather than an error. But would not a man of common 
manliness, a man possessing one of the instincts of a gentleman, 
have shielded all the more scrupulously from evil the helpless girl 
to whom love bound him no more 1 To win a woman from her 
duty was, according to Gerald's light, what many a good fellow 
would do under strong temptation : to tire of her- —well, to tire of 
everything is an inseparable condition of human existence ! but to 
refuse a woman, so won, protection while she lived ; to put her 
away from her rightful place, if indeed he had been unfortunate 
enough to marry her — was the conduct of a blackguard. (A fine 
distinction, perhaps, but none the less real to a man educated as 
Gerald Durant had been.) Maggie Hall had died a forlorn 
wanderer upon the London streets — for with bitterest seK-reproach 
Gerald's memory recalled to liim the woman of whose face he had 
caught a glimpse upon the bridge, and whom, in his Sybarite 
shrinking from misery, he had left to perish : the woman whom 
Archie Lovell sought to save ! He remembered how that wan 
face haunted him : remembered how he had spoken of it, '^ the 
ghost of a Staffordshire face," in Dennison's chambers ; remem- 
bered the tone of Dennison's voice, the cold sneer that rose upon 
his lips as he answered. And yet at that moment as he sat there 
■with his friends, in his well-appointed rooms, after his excellent 
dinner and wines, he must have known what dark shame was in 
truth possible . . . the fresh face he had wooed bared to the dis- 
grace of London gaslight ! the woman who had been his love ex- 
j^osed to horrors of which a violent and self-sought death was the 
lightest ! 

In his own way, Gerald Durant was capable of actions that — 
viewed altogether from the heights — were as intrinsically Avrong, 
perhaps, as any of Eobert Dennison's ; and yet, in a higher and 
very different degree, he felt himself as removed from the level of 
his cousin now as AVaters bad felt himself removed from the level 
of his Morteville associates. For Gerald, whatever his faults, had 
always been, always must be, a gentleman, ^' sans peur et sans 
rex>roclie." He had been brought up to think that the unstained 
honour of a dozen generations, at least, of Durants had descended 
to him ; and that every good thing of life, nay, life itseK, should 
always be held ready for sacrifice in his hand, sooner than that 

310 ARCHIE L0^T5LL. 

one jot or one tittle of that briglit inheritance should be allowed 
to pass away. And any man who believes himself to be a heritor 
by birth of what the world calls honour (or dishonour) is akeady 
far upon the road towards meriting the title by his actions. The 
code on which the Durant principles were framed was not by any 
means a transcendental or a perfect one. It was simply the very 
common-place, faulty, narrow code, which men of the world un- 
questioningly hold to embody honour. But, whatever its leniency 
on some points, it branded falsehood and cowardice with the 
brand of shame irretrievable : and in his heart, Gerald felt him- 
self forced to acknowledge that Eobert Dennison was capable of 
both ! He had no more thought of betraying liim now than he 
had had during all the bygone months, when his own ruin had so 
nearly been the price of his generosity. Eobert was a poor man ; 
and a single breath of such a story as this might be enough to 
blight his professional prospects for life. Eobert was Lucia's first 
cousin, Sir John Durant's nephew ; and to sully his fair fame was 
in some measure to sully the fair fame of the family. He would 
keep his counsel ; stand by him, outwardly, with the same staunch- 
ness still ; only — and this Gerald felt with daily, hourly-increasing 
repugnance — he could never again make Dennison his companion, 
could never again bear to see his smooth face here at the Court, 
or at Lucia's side. Here, in the quiet old garden, under the dear 
old trees where falsehood, cowardice, dishonour, were words un- 
known : the trees under whose shade Eobert first wooed as his 
wife the girl who now lay in a nameless London grave, and with 
only darkest disgrace and shame written over her for her 

Such thoughts, joined to other personal ones by no means void 
of pain — for Archie Lovell was neither forgotten nor unavenged in 
his heart — had made Gerald a somewhat silent and spiritless lover 
during these early days of his renewed engagement with Lucia. 
At the present moment, however, standing after an excellent 
breakfast in the pleasant morning air ; his admirable liavanna be- 
tween his lips ; the sunlight, the smell of flowers, the song of 
birds, the sight of Lucia herself — fresh, pure, simple as the white 
dress she wore — all ministering to the gratification of his keen- 
stiung, pleasure-craving natm-e, every dark thought seemed very 


far indeed from Gerald Durant. The singularly false platitude 
about the inability of money to purchase enjojnnent is never more 
false than when applied to a man like Gerald. Good horses, good 
wines, a good cook ; a place like the Court to live in during the 
shooting season j were precisely, now that his youth was waning 
— at six-and-twenty ! — the things which he knew himself to need. 
In another five years, when he should have done for ever with 
balls, and every other lingering folly of his youth, a favourite arm- 
chair at the club when he was in town ; horses that were some- 
what heavier weight-carriers in the country; and a better chef 
and better ^^dnes than ever, constantly. And all this lay before 
him in the common course of things if he married Lucia ; and she 
was a very nice girl, poor little thing ! fau', gentle, and feminine ; 
and really looking her best, looking as only English girls can look 
now, with the morning light searching ont her uncovered face and 
discovering no flaw thereon ; and the golden sun giving her smooth 
dust-coloured hair a tinge of red which made it almost — almost 
for one passing moment — look like Archie's. 

"^And what sort of people are these — Lovells, did you say? 
these new people at the Eectory ? " Gerald had been in town the 
last two days and had only returned to the Court late last night. 
''What is this Miss Lovell like who is coming here? Pretty, I 

" Oh, dear no," answered Miss Durant, decisively. Not in the 
least. I called at the Eectory yesterday, and mamma and I both 
thought her quite plain. A freckled brown skin and red hair, 
and large mouth, and so odd-mannered. I hoj)e you won't mind 
her coming, Gerald ? but you know we did not expect you till this 
evening, and mamma is anxious I should be friendly to the poor 
girl. You won't mind her now, will you ? " 

" Well, xf she is plain, Lucia, I certainly shall not ; neither mind 
her nor look at her. AYhatever she was," he added, in answer 
to a certain look that he read in Miss Durant's eyes, " I should 
not be likely to think much of her or any one else when you 
are by, Lucia ! " And throwing away the end of his cigar, Mr 
Durant put his arm round liis cousin's waist and drew her to his 

" Oh Gerald, please, hov^^ can you ! only think if mamma — " 


"Mamma's jurisdiction is ovcr,"he interrupted her. "If mam- 
ma was looking through the -vvindo-sv, as I dare say she is, I should 
make a point of — " 

'•'Oh Gerald, oh please, don't !" cried Miss Durant, her fair face 
crimson. " Miss Lovell may be here any minute. Just think if 
tlie new rector's daughter was to see me like this ! " 

"Well, I suppose rectors' daughters are sometimes engaged to 
their fii'st cousins, and even have dim glimmerings of the fearfid 
results of such a position," said Gerald. " Don't be a baby, Lucia ! 
for mercy's sake don't be a baby any longer — I shall like you so 
much better if you are not — and now come in, and let's have some 
music, child. I heard you mur — practising something out of 
Binorah this morning, and I want to give you a lesson. If you 
leave off being a baby and learn to sing well — and you have really 
a very nice voice — I shall be so fond of you, Lucia." 

And, his arm around her still, they went through the open 
French window into the drawing-room together ; and then Gerald 
seated himself at the piano, and while Lucia looked for her music, 
began rambling, as his way was, from one air to another till he 
reached Fortimio's song which brought his thoughts back ab- 
ruptly, and with singular distinctness, to Archie LoveU. 

" You are always singing that thing," said Miss Durant, as she 
returned, her arms full of music, to his side. I can't think why 
you are so fond of it. I see nothing in it at all." 

"No? Perhaps you don't understand it, Lucia," answered 
Gerald, taking his hands away from the keys, and sighing inwardly 
as he glanced at the goodly pile of songs that his beloved had 

" Not understand 1 Why I understand French as weU as Eng- 
lish. Si vans croyez " — Lucia's accent was very British indeed — 
"queje vais dire. If you beheve that I am going to say whom I 
dare to love, I should not know for an empire — " 

" All, Lucia, for pity ! " interrupted Gerald, jumping up, and 
clasping a hand on each side of his head. " Sing, my cliild, sing 
' Beautiful Star,' or ' Ever of Thee,' or any other of your favourites, 
but for heaven's sake don't meddle with mine. Never translate 
French again, there's a good girl. I shall be so much fonder of 
you, Lucia, if you don't try to translate French again." 


" But did I not translate it accurately, Gerald ? "Was I \vrong 
in one word ? Si votis croyez — " 

" Sing," interrupted Gerald, peremptorily — and making her sit 
down before the piano — " "What 1 Ob, an}i:liing in the world that 
you like — this." And taking up the first song from the heap she 
had deposited on the top of the instrument, he opened it before her, 
and Lucia sang. 

She had a tolerably correct ear, and a really nice voice ; and she 
had been taught as well as English masters in the country do 
teach, and when it was marked piano in the score she sang soft, 
and when forte, loud : and she played her accompaniments cor- 
rectly ; and altogether irritated Gerald more thoroughly than any 
singer he had ever listened to in his life. 

He had many tastes — love, pictures, books, good horses, good 
wines — but only one passion : and that passion was music. He 
could sit through the longest classical concerts — the first English 
guardsman, I believe, of whom the fact has been recorded — with 
acute unmixed enjoyment : could pass any number of hours listen- 
ing to the choruses of Greek or Italian sailors, when he was 
yachting in the Mediterranean : could hear with a certain plea- 
sure even the "belle voix fausse," of Theresa herself. Xo music 
in which music was, from the highest rendering of Beethoven 
down to the rude choruses of half a dozen sailors, or, lower far, the 
songs of a cafe chantant, came amiss to him. He said of himself 
that he would rather have bad music than no music ; and, with 
the exception of Lucia's singing, this was true. But Lucia's sing- 
ing was a thing apart : perhaps because he knew he was going to 
listen to it all his life. He got actually hot and irritable, when 
he listened to her — it was so correctly irreproachable, so utterly, 
inexplicably void of nature, feeling, sympathy. 

^'Brava, brava, Lucia!" This when four consecutive modem 
English songs had been sung to him, without the omission of a 
verse, without the wrong playing of a bar ; -vvith only that subtle 
want in every note that caused him such intolerable suffering as he 
listened. "Of the songs themselves I don't think much, but you really 
sing them most — correctly. iN'ow, shall we try something of a differ- 
ent kind — that air from Dinorah I heard you singing this morning'?" 

"Just as you like, but I have not near done my English songs 


yet. However, I can go back to them afterwards, if the rector's 
daughter is not hero. ' Sci vendicati assai ; ' " the Italian accent, 
if possible, more loyally British than the French one ; "it's rather 
low, but Mr Bligh thinks my lower notes quite as good as my liigh 
ones." And then dolce and xnano, and gradually crescendo, ac- 
cording to the printed directions, Miss Durant went on duly with 
the execution of the song. 

Gerald heard her out in patient martyrdom through one verse, 
and into the middle of the second ; then he made a sudden swoop 
down upon her hands, and before Miss Durant had had time to 
recover herself, had dispossessed her from her place at the piano 
and seated himself there instead. 

"My dear Gerald, what is the matter V she cried, in her little 
prim old-maidish way, and smoothing down the ruffled bows of 
blue ribbon at her wrists. '' Do you really mean that I don't 
know that song perfect % "Why, Mr Eligh said — " 

" You know it — perfectly perfect, Lucia ! You sing it like a 
bird ! only, do you see, the circumstances under which the young 
man in the opera sings that song are not cheerful ones, and a little 
— just a little more expression — is demanded than you give to the 
words. If you remark now, at this particular point, we are told 
that the voice is to be ^ mffocato dalle lagrime.^ He is calling 
upon the woman he has lost, you know — " 

"1 know;" Miss Durant always knew everything; *'Mr Bligh 
told me, and said I attended to all the marks very carefully, indeed. 
It's quite absurd to take things literally in songs," added Lucia, 
wisely. " I am no more choked with tears than I am ready to 
expire at any one's feet, and as Mr Bligh says — " 

" Shall I sing it to you, Lucia ? " interrupted Gerald, who felt 
himself going mad every time Mr Bligh's name was mentioned ; 
"I can't play the accompaniment right, because, as you know, I 
play more than half by ear ; but I really can, Lucia, if you would 
only believe me, show you the kind of feeling that should be 
tliroAvn into the song." 

"Oh,y^e3, Gerald, I shaU be very glad to hear you. Still I 
assure you, Mr — " 

But, before that horrible name could sound again, began a low, 
plaintive prelude — at which Miss Durant smiled pityingly, inas- 


much as it was not the accompaniment written and printed, and 
taught to her by Mr Bligh — a minute later and Gerald's voice was 
filling the room mth its rich flood of true and natural music. As 
he sang he forgot his little irritation against Lucia ; remembered 
only the part into which, with all the fervour of his happy 
temperament, he had thrown himseK in a moment ; and when^ he 
reached the point at which he had interrupted her, 

" Eispondia a cM t'implora, 
Eispondi' o cara a me ! " 

Mr Durant put his right arm round Lucia's waist, and turned 
his face caressingly up to hers as the soft Italian words of tender- 
ness and despair floated from his lips. 

JSTo pictui'e of mutual and happy love could be prettier than the 
one they formed at this moment : Lucia in her white dress, and 
Avith her slight figure and fair young head half bending over, haK 
turning away from her cousin ; Gerald with one hand lightly 
touching the keys, the other clasped round the girl's slender waist 
as — his lips parted, his handsome e^-es softening with the passionate 
meaning of the music — he looked up, full and imploringly, into 
her face. 

And the picture was not unseen. A step, unheard, had come 
up to the open -vvindow ; a figure, unnoticed, had stood and 
watched aU that little love scene : and fiien and there — and while 
in very truth his imagination was addressing Archie Wilson, not 
Lucia Durant — died by sudden death, whatever fancy for Gerald 
had once existed in the heart of the woman he loved, or believed 
he could have loved, best on earth. 

" Miss — Miss Lovell ! " cried Lucia, starting away from Gerald's 
arm as the figure moved at last, and a shadow falling across the 
pages of the song told her that they were not alone. " I beg your 
pardon, but v\"e were singing, and the time went so quickly — " 

"Lady Durant told me to come this way," said a voice quietly; 
a voice that seemed to send eveiy drop of blood in his body to 
Gerald's heart. " Don't let me interrupt you, please, unless your 
song is finished." 

And then, with calm and stately self-possession, the new rector's 
daughter walked into the room. 


Gerald had prepared himself, from Lucia's descriptioD, for a ivd- 
haired, repulsive young person of six-and-twenty ; a young person 
carrying a basket, and requesting subscriptions, and generally 
speaking through her nose, and talking of the parish and Sunday- 
schools. He turned round, startled by the voice, and full before 
him, fresher, brighter than he had ever seen her yet, stood Archie. 

" Rispondia a chi t'implora, 
Rispondi' o cara a me !" 

His prayer was answered already ; but Mr Durant did not feel 
near as comfortable as he had done when dying musically of de- 
spair', his arm round Lucia's waist, a minute ago. 



She was cold as ice, and received the profound bow under which 
Gerald sought to cover his confusion as Lucia introduced them 
with a dignified little bend of the neck that to ^liss Durant seemed 
impertinent. The rector's daughter to assume a manner like this 
when she was being introduced to the future husband of Miss 
Durant of Durant ! 

'^ We had not expected Mr Durant imtil this evening," she ex- 
plained, as though to let the poor young person know that her being 
in Mr Durant's society at all arose solely from mistake. " Would 
you like to take your hat off. Miss Lovell, or shall we go out a 
little first? You have not seen the gardens yet, I think." 

"I will do whatever you like," answered Miss Lovell, still 
standing by the window where she had entered, and still with the 
self-possession upon her face that in Lucia's sight was so unbefit- 
ting. "I shall not be able to stay more than an hoiu' or two, so 
don't make any difference for me at all, please." 

'^ Oh, but. Miss Lovell, mamma invited you to spend the day. 
I hope—" 

" Thanks. I can only stay an hour or two. My father wants 


me this afternoon." And Archie half turned away from the lovers, 
and leaning her arm — more with the gesture of a boy than of a 
young lady, Lucia thought — against the window -frame, looked out 
into the garden. 

Miss Durant glanced at Gerald, as though to say " Was I not 
right 1 Are we not going to be bored with this awkward, plain 
young woman T told you of? " and saw that a crimson flush was 
dyeing Mr Durant's fair face, and that his eyes were intently fixed 
upon a song that, in his first bewilderment, he had caught up and 
was holding in his hand. Evidently he was annoyed by the girl's 
curt, indiff'erent reception of him ; evidently, too, he thought her 
ugly and repulsive, and wanted to be rid of her. 

The latter consideration lent a great deal more kindness to Miss 
Durant's feelings towards her visitor. The poor thing had been 
invited to spend the day with them ; came shyly, no doubt, at 
paying a first visit alone to the Court — and the Court to Lucia 
seemed much the same as the Imperial Court of St Petersburg 
would seem to the Emperor of all the Eussias — and now, finding 
herself de trop, ofi'ered humbly to go away again in an hour or two. 

" We shall not hear of you leaving us till after luncheon. Miss 
Lovell, and then, if you really must go, you shall give me a pro- 
mise to come and spend another day, a real long day, with me 
soon. Perhaps for the next hour it would be cooler in the garden 
than here. What do you think, Gerald ? If we were to take out 
a book to the Pleasaunce, and you were to read to us. You are 
fond of poetry, Miss Lovell 1 " 

Yes, Miss Lovell answered ; not without a half-smile, for the 
sense of the ludicrous was never far absent from Archie, and there 
was something in the idea of Gerald's sitting between them and 
reading — ^tender love-scenes perhaps — that, indignant as she was, 
struck her irresistibly. Then Gerald having stammered out some- 
thing incoherent about heat and shade, and very pleasant he was 
sure, if — ^if Miss Lovell liked it — Lucia ran away to get her garden- 
hat and parasol, and Miss Lovell and Gerald Durant found them- 
selves alone. 

Without hesitating a moment, Archie took a purse from her 
pocket j drew out something neatly ^vrapped up in paper from 
amongst its contents, and walked up to Gerald's side. " Here is 


•wliat I owe you, IVIr Durant. It is correct, I tliink — forty-two 
shillings and sixpence. I had it with me ready, thinking that pos- 
sibly I might meet you here to-day." 

Gerald started back from the little outstretched hand as if he 
had received a blow. " ]\liss Wilson ! is it possible that you can 
wish to hurt me so deeply 1 " he exclaimed. 

" I am Miss "Wilson no longer, Mr Durant," she answered, not 
without a ring of mournfulness in her voice. " I've never been 
Miss Wilson since the day I went with you to London. Papa's 
poverty and his debts made us Hve under a false name abroad, the 
name you knew me by. All that is over — not to be re-called, 
please. Papa is rector of Hatton, and I am Miss Lovell — a very 
different person in everything to Archie Wilson ! Forty-two shil- 
lings and sixpence — you will find it quite right, I think 1 My 
travelling expenses from Morteville-sur-Mer to London and back, 
you remember." 

And as Gerald stiU did not hold out his hand to receive it, she 
laid the money down on a little work-table that stood beside her, 
then walked back composedly to her place beside the window. 

Gerald was cut to the very quick ; but he was too much a man 
of the world to allow liimseK to remain in a ridicidous position. 
Whatever l>ecame of the forty-two shillings and sixpence, Miss 
Durant's curiosity on the subject must certainly not be awakened 
by finding them there among her embroidery ; and so, with the 
best grace he coidd, he forced himself to take the money up and 
put it in his pocket. 

Archie's eyes triumphed as she watched him, and something so 
like the days of old (of a fortnight ago) was in theu' expression 
that Gerald in a moment found himself at her side, and with her 
hand, whether she would or no, clasped firm in liis. " Miss Lovell 
— Archie, forgive me ! " he exclaimed in his eager impulsive way. 
" You don't know what my life is — you don't Imow how hardly I 
am placed — bow everything is forced upon me. To have to meet 
you as a stranger — to be treated as you have treated me now ! can 
any punishment, can the worst punishment I deserve, be more than 

His face was flushed with emotion ; his hps quivered ; his eyes 
softened and filled with passionate eagerness as he looked at her. 


*' Say one word — tell me you forgive me, and let everything "be- 
tween us be as it once was ! " he pleaded, clasping her unwilling 
hand closer in his. 

"Everything as it once was!" and Archie laughed: a hard 
little laugh that jarred on Gerald's heart. " What do you mean by 
' as it once was,' Mr Durant ? Before I went with you to London, 
or — but that would be going back a very long time indeed — before 
the time when you were engaged to marry Miss Durant 1 " 

" I am not talking of her at all," he exclaimed. " I am talking 
only of you — asking only for your forgiveness. Will you give it 
me ? " 

"I don't know what you mean by forgiveness," said Archie. 
" I can never feel to you as I used, if you mean that. You told 
me when I said good-bye to you last I must leave all reckoning 
up of accounts imtil we met again, and then, if the balance was 
in your favour, pay you. I have paid you. Has anything more 
got to be said between us 1 " 

Gerald di'opped her hand in a moment, and stood silent : in- 
tently watching her face. " You will never feel for me as you 
used. Miss Lovell 1 " he said at last. " I am to take that as your 
final decision." 

"You may take it as you like," she answered, quickly. "With 
me it is not a question of will. I could not care for you again if 
I tried, and I do not try." 

" Speak candidly. You detest me." 

"No, Mr Durant, I do not." 

"What then r' 

" I think you acted badly to me— badly, badly ! " she broke 
forth, her eyes lighting up, as only blue eyes can light, with sudden 
passion. " When you could have saved me you did not ! When 
a word of advice from you would have made me leave you and go 
home, you did not speak it ! If I was placed so now," she went 
on, bitterly, " I could save myself, I would want advice from no 
man ; but then I was a Httle girl, a child, and I saw less hann in 
going on with you to London than in landing alone at Calais. 
Tell me if what I say is true, Mr Durant '? Had I any save a 
child's ideas, a child's knowledge of the world, before that day I 
went with you to London ? And now " — her voice changing with 


one of the sudden pathetic modulations Gerald Durant knew so 
■well — " what am I now 1 " 

"Your position is changed," stammered Gerald, ■vWth a rising, a 
guilty sense of her meaning : for until this instant his own in- 
fidelity had been the worst offence with which his conscience, or 
his vanity, had charged him. " Your father being a clerg}TQan, 
of course I mean — " 

" And I mean nothing of all that!" she interrupted him, the 
light kindling more and more in the blue eyes that looked so un- 
flinchingly into his. " I mean what am /, Archie, to myself, to papa, 
to every one else who cares for me ? An impostor, Mr Durant — ■ 
just that. I was lucky enough to keep that journey of mine a 
secret, or nearly so, and as long as it remains a secret, every day, 
every hour of my life, is an acted falsehood. On the day when it 
becomes known — will you tell me, please, what I shall be then 1 " 

" You will be always fairer and truer in my sight than any other 
woman li\ang," said Gerald : but he faltered somewhat as he spoke, 
and his eyes sank. The situation was rapidly assuming dimensions 
now that placed it beyond the pleasant regions of covert, regretful, 
inconsequential love-making ; and whatever he felt, and however 
sorry he might be, for the poor little girl, it was simply impossible 
for him, under the same roof with Lucia, to offer to marry her. 
*'I think, upon my word I do, that you exaggerate the importance 
of a mere accident. Miss Lovell. No one was to blame — there is 
nothing that I can see to conceal — " 

And Gerald Durant stopped with a start as the drawing-room 
door opened, and Miss Durant, equipped in a garden hat, a blue 
veil, and a parasol for her complexion, came up to his side. 

" What book shall we take ? " she asked, a great deal too taken 
up with the painful contrast that she felt existed between her own 
appearance and Miss Lovell's, to remark the expression of her 
lover's face. "Do you like Tennyson, Miss Lovell? Never read 
any of it ? Fancy, Gerald, Miss Lovell has never read any of 
Tennyson. Then let us have something of his by all means. The 
'Idylls of the King' is the most improving metre for reading 
aloud, Miss Barlow used to say." 

And, neither Gerald nor Archie offering any opinion on the sub- 
ject of metres, Miss Durant took up a book from her mother's 


writiiig-tal)le ; then with, a condescending, encouraging little smile 
to the rector's daugliter, put her hand on her arm and led her out 
into the garden ; Mr Durant, who fervently wished himself, or one 
at least of his companions, at the remotest corner of the earth just 
then, meekly following. 

"You have not seen the Court before, Miss Lovell, I think]" 
said Lucia, stopping under the shade of the cedars, and turning 
Archie round to have the lions pointed out to her. " As you have 
lived so much abroad, I suppose you have never seen a house like 
this in your life. It was built in 1570 by one of Queen Elizabeth's 
courtiers, Hugh Durant. His arms, you see, together with those 
of his wife, Brune of Plumber, are sculptured in a cartouche shield 
on the pediment of the eastern front. 

" Indeed 1 " answered Archie, patting on a look of great interest, 
for the expression of Gerald's face had told her already what it 
cost him to listen to his poor pedantic little betrothed, and she 
was not insensible to a certain feeling of satisfaction in his pain. 
''What an old family the Durants must be, if you count back as 
far as Queen Elizabeth." 

" Queen Elizabeth ! " cried Lucia, with immense animation for 
her. " Do you call that old ? Gerald, Miss Lovell says we must 
be an old family, because we can go back to the days of Queen 
Elizabeth. Why, an ancestor of ours, Geraldine de Durant, ac- 
companied "William the Conqueror to England, and in the reign of 
Edward I. we find that the family were already settled in this 

" Edward 1. 1 But I thought Sir Hugh Durant built the house 
in 1570 r' said Archie, with the air of one humbly seeking for 

'' Certainly," answered Lucia, " certainly. You are quite right 
as to date. This house was first built in 1570, but we have 
records to show that our family lived in the parish as early as the 
reign of Edward I. I must caution, you, however, Miss Lovell," 
she added, " about using the title of ' Sir.' It -^as not until the 
year 1611, that my ancestor, Erancis Durant, was made a baronet. 
He was the seventh gentleman on whom this honour was bestowed. 
During the civil wars of Charles I., Sir Erancis Durant was dis- 
tinguished by his loyalty, which he showed by giving nearly aU 


his money and also his two sons' lives to the king. After the 
death of Charles, they say he was so mortified that he clothed 
himself in sackcloth, and, causing his grave to be dug some time 
before liis death, laid himself there every Friday morning, exercis- 
ing himself in divine meditation and prayer." 

And then Archie took another look at Gerald's face, and her 
heart softened towards him as it had never done since the moment 
when she first made the confession of her flight to Bettina. He 
had behaved cruelly to her ; no doubt whatever about that ; had 
all but won her heart — such a heart as she could have given ! to 
pin upon his sleeve for a day ; and through him and his selfish 
weakness the worst folly of her life, a folly whose consequences 
might darken all her future years, had been brought about. But 
he was to marry Miss Durant of Durant's Court. He was to 
spend the remainder of his days with a woman who talked of 
cartouche shields, and "William the Conqueror, and ancestors in 
sackcloth ; a woman who put on a blue veil for her complexion 
when she walked in her own garden ; a woman, ten minutes of 
whose society seemed to weigh on Archie as no ten hours of her 
life had ever done before. And her heart softened to him. Bitter, 
hard, relentless as she had felt when she first heard his voice, 
first saw his arm around Lucia's waist, she softened to him now 
that she began to know Lucia herself. Whatever Gerald Durant's 
sins had been, his punishment, at least, would be an ample one. 

" I wish I had your memory. Miss Durant. I never could re- 
member anything, in prose, as long as what you have been tell- 
ing me." 

"It depends "upon how one has been brought up," answered 
Lucia, complacently. " Travelling about, as you have, I dare say 
your studies have been interrupted ; now, I had the same governess 
— ]\Iiss Barlow — for eleven years. From the very first Miss Bar- 
low made me learn the epistle, gospel, and collect every week, and 
as to the kings of England — " 

" Oh, Lucia, do let us go on," interrupted Gerald, impatiently, 
and with a horrible dread that all the kings since the Conqueror, 
with a dozen or so collects and epistles, would be repeated for 
Archie's amusement, and his own torture, on the spot. ^'It's all 
very well for you, with a hat and veil and parasol, to stand in the 


broiling sun, but as I happen to have nothing on my head, and 
have no ^dsh to experience a sun-stroke, I must really ask you to 
hurry — interesting though of course your descriptions are, Lucia 
dear," he added, demurely. 

And IMiss Durant, who took every word in its most direct sense, 
and who was indeed too encased in the triple armour of seK-esteem 
ever to suspect the existence of irony, smiled placidly at the com- 
pliment. Then, still affording historical and antiquarian inform- 
ation as they walked, led the way to the Pleasaunce or heath, an 
inclosure, which lay at the extreme verge of the Court gardens, 
and to which a vine-covered alley, cool even at noonday, led 
tlirough the side grounds the entire disffcance from the house. 

The Pleasaunce occupied about an acre of land — not the six 
acres which Bacon, with his royal disregard of space, directs. 
Saving in size, however, all the rules that the great philosopher 
laid down had been adhered to by its original constructor, and 
strictly followed by all succeeding owners of Durant's Court. 
There were the thickets of sweetbriar and honeysuckle, and wild 
vine amongst ; and the ground was set with periwinkles, violets, 
primroses, and other such plants as prosper in the shade. There 
was " that good flower to the eye, germander ; " and sweetwilliam 
and red roses, and many other of the like low flowers, '' that are, 
withal, sweet and sightly ; " while further away from the garden, 
where the ground rose and fell with natural undulations, and 
where the neighbouring giants of the Chase gave densest shade, 
were thickets of holly and larch, of juniper, arbutus, and haw- 

Miss Durant after a good deal of deliberation — in one place 
suspecting a sunbeam, in another detecting an ants' nest, in 
another a cbaught — succeeded at last in finding a spot sheltered 
enough for her partially to raise her veil and dispense with the 
shade of her parasol; and seating herself here beneath a low- 
spreading, many-branched old hawthorn on the mossy turf, she 
signified graciously to the rector's daughter that she might take a 
place at her side. 

''You are not as much afraid of the sun as I am, I see. Miss 
Lovell, but Miss Barlow always insisted on my taking great care 
of my complexion, and fair people really tan so dreadfuUv." 

t 2 


•• *' They do," said Archie, taking off lier hat and tossing it on the 
ground beside her, then running her fingers up through her bright 
untidy hair in what Miss Durant felt was a most reprehensibly 
boyish manner. "I was fair myself once. Yes, Miss Durant, 
nearly as fair as you, and see what I have tanned to ! Burnt- 
sienna ; neither more nor less." 

"I dare say you are a little sunburnt," remarked Lucia, looking 
down pityingly at the girl's brown shapely hands ; " but fair ? I 
should hardly have thought, Miss Lovell, that you were ever very 

" Look above my wrists," said Archie, pushing back the sleeve 
of her linen dress so as to show a modelled arm, absurdly white 
compared to the brown hands and sunburnt face. " Don't you 
think if I took great care, and wore a veil and gloves for two or 
tliree summers, I might be fair in time. Miss Durant ? " 

"You might grow fairer," said Lucia, cii'cumspectly. "No 
doubt you might grow faire?- ; but I think never fair, ^fiss Bar- 
low used to say that a skin once thoroughly deteriorated can never 
be restored to its pristine condition." 

"That's bad for me," said Archie, shaking her head. "Mr 
Durant," vnth. a mocking look at Gerald, " what do you think 1 
Would anything ever bring my copper-coloured hands and face to 
what they should be 1 " 

Miss Dui'ant actually opened her eyes at the audacity of the 
question. A young girl at her first introduction to a gentleman 
to mention such a subject as the skin of her own hands and face ! 
It was indelicate : positively indelicate. " I think we had better 
get on with the reading, Gerald," she remarked primly, and while 
Gerald was looking, not speaking, his answer to Archie. "That 
is, if Miss Lovell cares to hear it. We shall not have time to get 
through one of the Idylls before luncheon unless you begin at 

" As you like," said Gerald, reluctantly ; for it seemed to him 
just now that to sit and watcli Archie in this golden shade — yes, 
even with Lucia there too — was poetry sufficient. "Tlie heat 
really makes one feel so lazy." 

" Oh, please read," cried jNTiss Lovell, with well-acted eager- 
ness ; " please do not disaj^point us. I am so very anxious to 


hear the Idylls." And she took the book from Lucia, handed it 
over to Gerald, then composed herself with folded hands and pre- 
ternatural gravity of face, to listen. 

'' The Idylls of the King " were about as unknown to this little 
outer barbarian as the tragedies of JEschylus would have been. 
An Idyll she imagined was probably a good deal like an elegy ; as 
Miss Durant had selected the book, it was sure at all events to be 
improving and horribly duU ; and, in the pass to which they had 
all come now, the best amusement going, perhaps, would be slyly 
to watch Gerald's face as he read, listen to Miss Durant's annota- 
tions, and occasionally offer ignorant remarks of her o"\vn the 
better to draw out the superior wisdom of her companions. 

" You have no work with you, I see," remarked Lucia, as Gerald 
turned over the pages of the book, hesitating which of the four 
Idylls would be best suited to his audience ; and as she spoke she 
drew out a neatly-pinned roU of embroidery from her pocket. " I 
always think it is such a waste of time to sit out of doors or listen 
to reading without working." 

" But I can't work," said Archie, " except mending, and that I 
detest, and besides I'm not clever enough to do so many things at 
once. To be out of doors in such a place as this, and to listen to 
poetry at the same time, would be quite enough for me, particu- 
larly if the poetry was very well read and the subject very appro- 
priate ! " 

And she gave a half-sigh and a little significant smile towards 

Loth sigh and smile, as it chanced, were intercepted by Lucia, 
who on the instant scrutinized, with other eyes than she had yet 
done, her visitor's personal appearance. Fresh, delicate, refined, 
the girl looked, with some quivering reflected hght brightening 
into gold her waving chestnut hair, and with her blue eyes laugh- 
ing under their black lashes, and the white teeth gleaming from 
the sunburnt face. And a prompt decision rose in Miss Durant's 
ndnd that Archie LoveU's visits should be very few and stately so 
long as Gerald was at the Court ! Pretty she was not, nor grace- 
ful, nor well educated ; but she had the sort of brusque manners, 
the sort of gipsy good-looks, that might attract, by their mere 
oddity, a man so prone to be bored with eveiy thing to which he 


was accustomed as Gerald. And Lucia had no wish that he 
should be so attracted. The days of her- generosity towards him 
were quite over, now that in her heart, and in her chilly little 
way, she was beginning to love him. The rector's daughter was 
not in the least prettier than she had thought ; nay, there was 
something almost repellent in the juxtaposition of those blue eyes 
an(l that brown face now that you saw them close, only, only — 
instinctively, Lucia Durant already was afraid of her. How could 
she know what sort of ideas a girl brought wp among foreigners 
might not have ? how tell that these were not the manners of that 
horribly outer-artist world which, it is said in novels, young men 
do in their hearts prefer to all the accomplishments, all the graces, 
of refined female society '? 

" Eead Elaine, Gerald, if you please. That is the Idyll I know 
that mamma would approve of most. Miss Lovell, don't you 
think you would hear better if you were to come and sit on this 
side of me ? You cannot catch the meaning if you are too near to 
the reader." 

" 1^0, thanks, I like to be where I am," answered Archie — 
Gerald had thrown himself almost at her feet on the turf — " I 
have just a little view through the trees of the Court, Miss Durant, 
and if I don't understand the reading I can look at that and think 
of all the histories you were so good as to tell me. Now, Mr 
Durant, please. We are all attention." 

"Elaine the fair, Elaine the loveahle." 

Gerald read, as he sang, with taste, with feeling ; mth an ab- 
sence of artifice or seeking for effect that gave his reading the 
simple happy charm of the very highest art. After the first six 
lines, Arcliie's imagination had taken fire : at the end of two pages 
she was leaning forward, her eyes fixed on Gerald, her lips parted 
and tremulous ; aU the beauty of that marvellous poetry lighting 
up her childish face with rapt and eager attention. 

'* Arc you so wi«G ? — you were not once so wise." 

Gerald's voice trembled ever so slightly as he read these first 
words of Launcelot's to the Queen ; and for an instant he raised 
his eyes to Archie's face. 

" I have lost my needle," said Miss Durant, with cold distinct- 


ness ; " be kind enough, Gerald, to leave off reading till I have 
found it. Listen without working 1 jSTo, indeed ; " as Gerald, not 
without temper, suggested the alternative. "I should be very- 
sorry to waste my morning in such a fashion, and as I've heard all 
the story before, I am really not so interested but that I can bear 
to leave off for a little. Miss Lovell, may I trouble you to rise 1 " 

And as the searching for a needle among moss is an affair de- 
manding time and patience, it was ten minutes, at least, before the 
reading proceeded. 

"You seem quite excited, Miss Lovell," Lucia remarked, glancing 
at Archie's animated face as Gerald took up the book again. 
" You must be a great admirer of poetry, I should say." 

" Of that poetry, yes," said Archie. " I never heard anything 
like it before. It touches me like music ! " — clasping her hands 
with the un-English gesture, that to her was nature — " I could sit 
here and listen for hours." 

A remark that naturally lent fresh tenderness to Gerald's voice 
(and filled ^liss Durant's mind with renewed and stern determina- 
tions respecting the degree of intimacy to be observed with the 
rector's daughter) throughout all the remainder of the reading of 

When it was over, Lucia Avondered what o'clock it was; then, 
having satisfied her curiosity by looking at her watch, asked Gerald 
if his throat felt dry ; and finally remarked that she had em- 
broidered a spray and a half while he read. These were Miss 
Durant's commentaries after hearing the noblest poetry, read by 
the voice she loved, in such a scene as this. But then, as she said, 
she had heard the story before. 

"And you. Miss Lovell?" said Gerald, turning from Lucia to 
Archie; "what do you think of Elaine? She deserved a happier 
fate, did she not 1 " 

" I don't know," answered Archie, with a sort of shyness on her 
face that Gerald had not been accustomed to see there. " I think, 
perhaps, to have loved Launcelot — and to die — was "better than 
any common living for her. Would you mind, please, reading 
again the description of where she sees him first ? I mean, after 
that line ; — 

" Won by the mellow voice before she looked.** 



" I thought you had a bad memory, Miss Lovell," Lucia inter- 
polated ; but Grerald, the blue eyes flattering him so pleasantly, 
turned back to the page and read the passage through without a 
word. "What feeling but one could have called forth that shy, 
sweet blush, on the girlish face ^ For whom, save himself, could 
that feeling as yet have stirred in Archie Lovell's heart '? He 
read it through to the concluding lines : — 

" HoweTer marr'd, of more than twice her years, 
" Seam'd with an ancient sword-cut on the cheek, 
And bruised and bronzed, she Hfted up her eyes 
And loved him with that love which was her doom." 

" Bruised, and bronzed, and seamed," remarked Miss Durant, 
pinning up her embroidery, then carefully picking off every tiny 
morsel of dead moss or leaf from her dress, as she rose from the 
ground. " Well, I cannot say that Sir Launcelot would have been 
one of m}^ heroes. It seems to me he only wants a broken front 
tooth, and a pair of high shoulders, to be exactly like old 3Iajor 
Seton of Ludbrooke." 

"And it seems to me," said Gerald, somewhat indignantly, 
*' that the story of that broken front tooth alone ought to make 
every woman in her heart think Major Seton a hero ! A radical 
defect in your character, Lucia, is your incapacity for hero-wor- 

" Oh, so you have told me before," said Miss Durant, placidly ; 
*' but really I never have been taught to see anything admirable in 
the mere bulldog sort of courage men possess in common witl; the 
lower animals. Fancy, Miss Lovell, once when the boys were at 
Eton together, Ralph Seton, a near neighbour of yours, and my two 
cousins — as they were all going through the town they saw some 
people, dreadful common people you know, fighting, and Ealj-)!! 
Seton would insist upon taking part, and got a fall that nearly 
killed him, and one of his front teeth broken. IS[ow is there any- 
thing wonderfully heroic in the story 1 " 

" Not told as you have told it, Lucia, certainly," said Gerald, 
curiously watching Archie's i\ice meanwhile ; " when you consider, 
however, that the ' dreadful common people ' were a huge coster- 
monger very nearly killing a woman, and that Ealph, a little lad 
of fourteen, rushed in single-handed to the rescue, it rather alters 


the case. I liave often thought," added Gerald, with the easy gen- 
erosity that sat so gracefully upon him, "that the characters of 
all three of us were well brought out upon that occasion. I showed 
an extraordinary amount of indignant emotion — amounting even to 
tears, I believe — but no more. Eobert Dennison remarked, coolly, 
that every one probably was serving every one else richly right. 
Ealph, without a word, went straight to the front — " 

" And got knocked to pieces for his pains," interruj^ted Lucia. 
*' Well, I never did, and never shall, see the beauty of that sort 
of thing — except of course in poetry. If people have to go through 
the world (where, as Miss Barlow used to say, two-thirds at least 
of success depend on appearance), what object is there in getting 
yourself disfigured by fighting for dirty wicked people you don't 
care about ? What do you think, Miss Lovell ? " 

*'I — I?" cried Archie; but with an effort that Gerald noticed 
keenly ; " I think you are quite right, Miss Durant. The de- 
scription of Sir Launcelot might be E^lph Seton's word for word, 
and I know that Ealph always was, and always will be, a hero to 
me. What you and Mr Durant have been saying now makes me 
like him a hundred times better — if that is possible — than I ever 
did before." And she raised her face bravely, but blushing 
furiously still, full up to Gerald's. 

Their eyes met ; and a new light broke suddenly upon the heart 
of each. On Archie flashed the truth that Ealph Seton ever since 
that first day in IMorteville had been present in her thoughts ; that 
she liked him, not indeed with a love to be her doom — for the 
passion of love was still a terra incognita to this heart of seventeen 
— but with a lilting second only to the love she bore her father ; 
a liking dindy akin to Elaine's for Launcelot j a liking that put 
her fancy to Gerald and for the Eussian prince and Willy Monta- 
cute very much upon the same level. On Mr Durant was forced 
the conviction that the heart he had been playing fast and loose 
with, the only woman in whose society he had ever thought he would 
like to spend his life, was lost ! His memory went back to every 
little scene in which Archie had ever seemed the nearest to loving 
him : the time when they stood upon the moonlit terrace by the 
sea, the time when she found herself alone with him on London 
Bridge, and he knew that her face, her voice, had never softened 


as tliey did now. Had they softened for the imaginary Launcelot 
only, or for Ealph Seton? Seton, whom, with all his fine qualities, 
Gerald had ever looked upon as a man altogether out of the world 
of love or youth ? This was a detail over which, in the first angry 
flush of disappointment, he did not trouble himself to think. 
They had not softened for him. He might marry Lucia ; listen 
to her songs ; read aloud improving metres to her for the remainder 
of his days; and Archie — with horrible sharpness the thought 
etung him — would be entirely unmoved by anything he did or 
thought or suffered. And up to a minute ago those blue eyes, 
those parted lips, those little clasped soft hands had befooled him 
still ! He had seen love hidden imder the coldness of her manner 
— love under the passionate reproaches with which she had met 
him — had read to her with veiled tenderness in every word, with 
furtive glances at her face — believing liimself Sir Launcelot and 
she Elaine or Guinevere, or both, as regarded the intensity, the 
hopelessness, of the regard she bore to him. 

He very nearly hated Archie on the spot. Yanity was by far 
the strongest feeling Gerald Durant ever carried into any love 
affair; and when vanity, as now, received a death-stroke, there 
needed very little more for his love to give one fierce blaze of dis- 
gust, then smoulder (three days generally saw the whole process 
out) into indifference. I spoke before of French procliWties in his 
nature : this was one of them. The best friend living to men — 
the least touchy, the least paltrily vain — it was next to impossible 
to him to act or feel very generously towards any woman who had 
omitted to be in love with him. It is not quite pleasant to record 
in black and white; but Gerald had such a charming way of 
making you see everything in his light, that you really thought 
none the worse of him for this or any other weakness when you 
were with him ; and then how much must always be laid to the 
account of the school in which a man has been brought up ! To 
Gerald, as to his compeers, a woman's heart was a stake to be won ; 
the more up-hill the game, the greater nimiber of odds against him, 
the more exciting the contest. Lost, his own special amusement 
in the game over, and the bits of red and white bone with which 
a successful adversary has scored his tricks at ecarte were scarcely, 
according to his creed, more fitting objects for a wise man's regret. 


You will nearly always observe this kind of optimist philosophy to 
prevail among the class of men who at once cultivate love as a 
pastime and study it as a science. 

"Dear old Ealpli!" he cried, rising hastily from the ground, 
and not deigning to give another glance at Archie Lovell's face. 
" I can imagine any woman thinking him a hero, if he is like what 
he used to be in the days of old. Still, Lucia," his voice growing 
soft and tender as he turned to her, "I don't know that I wish 
to have you changed in anything." 

" "What ! not in my incapacity for hero-worship, Gerald "? " 

Gerald's answer was a whisper that brought the colour to Miss 
Durant's cheeks ; and then, with more little fond murmurs passing 
between them, he folded her muslin scarf round her shoulders, 
handed her her parasol, arranged her veil round her face, and 
offered to carry her work-basket to the house with most lover-like 
and demonstrative devotion. 

'•And how. is it that you know Major Seton, Miss Lovell"?" 
asked Lucia, as they -were walking slowly back through the garden, 
and grooving very much pleasanter in her tone now that Gerald's 
undivided attention had retiuiied to herself. " I should not have 
thought you had had time yet to get acquainted even with any of 
your neighbours." 

" Oh, we have not seen much of Major Seton here," answered 
Archie, turning aside her face j *' he only returned from Scotland 
the day before yesterday, and — and — has been round to see us 
three or four times since — but we knew him, years ago, when I 
was a child in Naples. He is more than a brother to me — he is 
papa's best friend," she added quickly, and with an intuitive feel- 
ing that Ealph Avas one of the people Miss Durant would be likely 
to disparage. 

"Ah ! that will be very pleasant for you, then, to live so near 
him. Major Seton is an excellent sort of person, I dare say, when 
you know him. We have only seen him once since liis retm^n 
from India, and mamma and I both thought his manners rough, 

" You did not understand him, I should think," broke in Archie 
bluntly. ''Ealph Seton rough! Why he is the kindest — the 
gentlest-—" but here, chancing to meet Gerald's eyes again, she 


interrupted herself abruptly, stopped a moment, buried her hot face 
in a great branch of jessamine that hung down low across the path, 
and did not open her lips again till they reached the house. 

"A strange unmannercd kind of girl, Gerald," said Miss Durant, 
when some minutes later they had said good-bye to Archie at the 
park-gates ; for no persuasion could induce her to remain longer 
with the lovers. " But I don't know that tlierc is anything really 
to dislilie in her. How excited she got about the reading and old 
Major Seton ! There must be something serious there, I should 
say, shouldn't you 1 " 

" Really, Lucia, I don't know. I cannot say that I feel any 
special interest in the state of Miss Lovell's feehngs." 

" Ah ! did you think her pretty then, Gerald, or was she like 
some one you have known, or what ? for I am sure you looked at 
her enough all the time you were in the Pleasaunce." 

" She is like some one I have known," answered Gerald, " and 
I do not think the term ' pretty ' is one I should apply to her. 
Wm that do, Lucia r' 

" I — I was afraid you did not care about her ! " cried ISIiss 
Durant, looking radiant. " I mean I thought most likely you were 
a little bored by the poor thing — but I'm half afraid mamma will 
be vexed that we let her go so soon. Don't you think, now, we 
might ask her and Major Seton to spend the afternoon here to- 
morrow 1 If there is an attachment between them we ought to do 
our best to bring it about, and you know you want to see* Major 
Seton. Croquet and high-tea upon the lawn wo\ild be pleasant, 
Gerald, eh?" 

"Remarkably pleasant," answered Gerald, laconically, and 
watching the last flutter of Archie's summer dress behind the trees. 
" You are beginning to understand my tastes beautifully, Lucia." 

"And" — after a minute's silence — "is the person Miss LovcU 
reminds you of some one you care about, Gerald 1 I won't ask you 
any more." 

*' Some one I care about 1 Well, my dear Lucia, I should think 
you could answer that question for yourself. Is [Miss Lovell in 
the very slightest degree like you 1 " 

!Miss Durant, with pretty consciousness of the absurdity of the 
question, answered no, and was satisfied. 




A SOLITARY first-class passenger had alighted from the midday 
express that stopped by signal at Hatton ; and, directed by the 
one porter the station possessed, was starting across the fields to 
Durant's Court just as Archie Lovell bade good-bye to Gerald and 
Miss Durant at the park-gates. 

The sultry morning had softened into one of those silent mellow 
days in which English fields and woods and hedge-rows wear a 
pathos and a beauty all their own. A yellow sunshine, a smalt- 
blue heaven, seem ever somewhat of an anachronism in England. 
To-day, mid- August though it was, there was just that foreshadow- 
ing of change — that pallor in the sky, that haze across the reddening 
woods that fitful freshness on the western wind — which gives our 
northern summers their peculiar charm; one which the glaring 
splendour of the south for ever lacks ; the charm of evanescence 
and of frailty. The coarsest, the least sympathetic man could 
scarcely have walked untouched among the golden fields to-day ; 
the fields that in another month — the sky paler, the distant woods 
more hectic — should be shorn and crisped by early frost — brief 
summer already in its grave ! Even the stranger, ordinarily a much 
more interested observer of green cloth than of green fields, was 
moved into something near akin to genuine feeling, tender me- 
mories, as he went slowly and lingeringly upon his way. 

How familiar and how strange the sights and smells of English 
fields, the babble even of the little meadow stream beside the path, 
seemed to him after all these dreary years of disuse ! Years in 
which he had dissipated health, strength, energy — everything save 
the intolerable weight and tediousness of living : years in which 
he had played without excitement, drank without solace, roamed 
over the world without making a friend, and worked harder than 
many an honest man at his miserable vocation without at any time 
seeing more than a month's dinners ahead. What a ludicrous lot- 
tery it all was ! — that ever-present burthen to the thoughts of un- 
successfid men — manipulating a cigarette absently, then holding it 


unlit between the fingers of his dehcately-gloved hand. His 
"brother, "without any capacity whatever for enjoy ment^, but simply 
because there chanced to be eighteen month's difference in their 
ages, the possessor of two or tliree estates of pleasant English land 
like this ; and ho, a man who could have taken intense pleasure in 
his shooting and his fishing and his farming, an adventurer, a fre- 
quenter of foreign cafes, a picker-up of napoleons at cards, an inti- 
mate acquaintance of the police. Everything for which his nature 
did not fit him ! How easy it was, he thought, for elder sons to 
keep right ! ■ If a nice little allotment — say, even, of eighty or a 
hundred acres of land like this — with a good house to live in, and 
an income to keep it up upon, were to be assigned to him now, 
how honourable and straight-walking a fellow he would be to the 
end of his days ! Faduig this — weU, failing this, he must just re- 
main what he was : the outcast younger son of an old race, Edward 
Eandall, alias Colonel Yavasour, alias Captain De Yere, alias 
Jemmy Waters; obliged by the fact of being human, to eat — by 
the fact of being disgraced, to earn his food as he could ; and at 
the present moment employed on the kind of business which men 
even with no special pretensions to delicacy or honour would 
shrink from as from the last disgrace. The business of exacting 
hush-money out of a girl's fears, or of selhng her secret to the 
highest bidder — her o^vn father, or the Durants : tliis was simply 
a matter of detail — that he could find. 

Captain Waters lit up liis cigarette, and with a slow slouching 
step, very difi'erent to that airy one which he was wont to wear 
before watering-place spectators, walked on, miserably meditating, 
a little perhaps on the ignominy of his own position, but a great 
deal more upon the injustice of the laws of primogeniture, in the 
direction of Durant's Court. At a sudden turn in the path, just 
where the stream to which he was mechanically listening still 
wound out of sight beneath a climip of alder bushes on the bank, 
he suddenly perceived a girl's figure approaching through a field 
of standing corn, not twenty yards ahead of him to the right. 
He stopped instantly, drew himself behind the shelter of the 
bushes, and watched her. It was Archie Lovell ; dressed in a 
fresh linen suit, just as she used to be upon tlie IMorteville sands, 
a bright flush upon her face, a great heap of wild flowers — field 


poppies, clematis, briony, dog-roses — in her arms. Prettier and 
more like a child than ever she looked, and altogether a picture, 
Captain AYaters thought admiringly as she approached, breast-high 
among the waves of barley, and with the misty woods for back- 
ground, and the pallid, golden-grey sky above her head ! 

He waited until she was within five or six yards from the trees 
under whose shade he stood, then stepped quietly into the path, 
taking off liis hat, as he pretended, with a start of surprise, first to 
recognize her. The blood rushed in a moment over the girl's face 
and neck. She gave a hurried look on all sides, as if for escape 
or help — a look whose significance was by no means lost upon 
Captain Waters. 

"You are surprised to see me, Miss Lovell," he remarked, as in 
her very terror she stopped and offered him her hand; "and the 
surprise is mutual." He had had a letter three or four days before 
telling him of Mr Lovell's departure from Morteville. "I had 
no idea that you were coming to England yet." 

"We have been in England a week," stammered Archie, mor- 
tally terrified, yet with a half-hope now that Captain Waters' ap- 
pearance here might be unconnected with herself. " We had not 
meant to come so soon, but as the Rectory was standing empty and 
there was nothing to keep us in Morteville — " 

" Ah yes, very wise, I am sure," interrupted Waters, jauntily. 
" Yery wise in any one not to stay a day longer than there was 
necessity for in that gottverlassen place. I got away earlier myself 
than I expected, and have been spending the last few days very 
pleasantly, very pleasantly indeed, with some of my people in toAvn. 
I suppose you don't know if Gerald Durant is at the Court still, 
Miss Lovell? I could not find him in London, so came down 
here on the chance of seeing him." 

"Yes, he is here," answered Archie, taking renewed heart of 
grace at the thorough unconcern of Captain Waters' tone. " I have 
been spending the morning with Miss Durant," she added, " and 
am on my way home from the Court now." 

" The Rectory is some distance off, is it not % " asked Waters, 
rather to gain time than because he had any interest in the parish 
topography. " About two miles from the Court — just a good walk 
— and you like Miss Durant 1 That is pleasant for you both ; you 


will be nice neighbours for eacb other. No talk still of her being 
engaged to her cousin Gerald, I suppose 1 " 

" Every talk of it, I should think," said Arcliie, stooping doAvn 
and examining the petals of one of her wild roses. '' It is all quite 
settled ; indeed, Lady Durant has already invited us to the wedding 
in the autumn." 

"And you believe that wedding will take place. Miss Lovell ? " 

*'I — I — of course I beheve it will," blushing hotly, at she 
scarcely knew what meaning in "Waters' voice. " Why should it 
be broken olf ? " she asked, trying very unsuccessfully to smile and 
look unconcerned. 

'' Because — Miss Lovell, have you ever heard of Margaret Hall 1 " 

She raised her eyes up with a sense of intense relief to Captain 
Waters' face. It was not to herself, then, not to her miserable 
secret — the secret that night and day never ceased to haunt ber — 
that he was alluding ! " I have heard the name, Captain Waters, 
and something of the story since we came here. But every one 
looks upon it as a thing of the past now. You know, of course, 
that Margaret Hall is dead? " 

- " Yes, Miss Lovell, I do. I know a good deal more than I care 
to know in the matter ; indeed, it is on business directly connected 
with it that I have come dow^n to see Gerald Durant to-day. He 
is — well, I don't know that I need hesitate about telling you ! 
If you had remained abroad I had hoped, sincerely hoped," said 
Waters, compassionately, *' that nothing of all this would have 
reached your ears ; but as you are here, so close to Gerald and to 
his people, you ynnst hear of it before very long, and by warning 
you now, it seems to me that I shall be acting fairest by you both. 
Gerald Durant (unknown, I verily believe, to himself) is at present 
in a position of the most extreme danger with regard to this girl 
Margaret Hall's death, and perhaps — mind, I only say perhaps — 
it may be in your power to be his salvation." 

The flowers fell in a heap at Archie's feet: she clasped her 
hands together eagerly. '' Mr Durant in danger, Captain Waters, 
and I be of service to him ? I save him 1 " 

" Well, I believe so, Miss Lovell. I may be wrong, of course, 
but I believe so ! " He rested his forehead an instant on his hand, 
and an admirably weU-acted expression, half of pain, half bewilder- 


ment; came over his face. " The question is," he went on, after a 
minute, but looking away from her as he spoke, "would you 

"Would 11 "Why, of course I would!" she cried, with a 
hearty readiness that, had Captain "Waters heen learned in any 
subject so delicate as the intricacies of a girl's heart, might have 
told him what kind of regard she really bore towards Gerald. 
" Tell me what I can do to help him, and I mil do it in a mo- 
ment, gladly." 

" AVell, that is generous of you, Miss Lovell, very : but women 
are, I believe, extraordinarily generous always in these matters. 
Gerald Durant — really it's not an easy thing to speak about — is 
supposed, for reasons which you may perhaps guess, to have had 
an interest in the death of Margaret Hall. It took place on the 
night of the 2nd you know, and unless he can prove with extreme 
minuteness what he was doing at that time, I fancy things are 
likely to go pretty hard with him. 'No^y, of course, any one who 
happened to be in his company on that night, might, if they chose, 
come forward and be of service to him. Do you understand me 1 " 

"]^o, I do not," she answered, hoarsely, leaning her arm heavily 
against a stem of the overhanging alder, and with every tinge of 
colour dying on her face and lips. "I do not understand you. 
"What do I know of this Margaret Hall, or of her death 1 " 

"JSTothing whatever, Miss Lovell. The question rather is, do 
you know anything of Mr Durant and his actions on the night 
when her death took place 1 " 

" Of course I do not. What right have you to question me 1 
You are trying to frighten me still as you did in Morteville, and 
you will not succeed, sir ! I will tell papa and— and another 
friend I have the whole truth, and they will protect me from you. 
I think you should be ashamed to persecute me so. What have I 
ever done to harm you 1 " 

Captain Waters shrugged his shoulders, then calmly took out a 
folded newspaper from his pocket. "You spoke to me in this— 
well, I won't use harsh words, in this very impetuous spirit once 
before, Miss Lovell, and I bore you no ill mil for it. I shall bear 
you none now. The whole affair, as I am going to show you, is 
already in stronger hands than mine, and if you will take my 



advice you will keep your nerve, and above all your temper cool. 
As to consulting your friends," he added, " I should think it would 
he about the very best thing you could do. Eead this, please." And 
he opened the paper, a copy of The Times, and pointing out an 
advertisement in the second column of the first sheet, put it 
pleasantly into her hands. 

" Information Wanted. — The lady who lent a scarlet travelling cloak to 
another lady on board the excursion steamer Lord of the Isles, somewhere be- 
tween ]\Iorteville-sm--Mer and London, on the 2nd instant, is earnestly requested 
to send her name and address immediately to the undersigned.— S. Wickham, 
Lilac Court, Inspector of the City district of Police." 

As Archie Lovell read the advertisement — painfully, slowly read 
it, with burning eyes, with a brain that seemed incapable of taking 
in its meaning — Waters stood silent and scanned her face narrowly. 
His knowledge of the case, and of Archie Lovell's possible impli- 
cation in it, was necessarily confined as yet to the most meagre 
outHnes, Mr Wickham being far too astute a general to betray the 
plan of his attack to an auxiliary save on that particular point at 
wdiicli his assistance was required. But long experience in the 
lower grades of human nature, long experience in the lower Avalks 
of intrigue — if only the intrigue brought into action in hunting 
down victims for the pharo or billiard table — had developed not 
a little quasi-professional acuteness in Captain Waters himself. 
During his first interview with Wickham, in spite of all his 
friend's flowery circumlocution, he had felt certain that legal 
evidence of some kind was wanted respecting Gerald Durant's 
actions on that second day of August when he spoke to him from 
the Calais pier : certain, also, that the cause for which ]\Ir Wick- 
ham gave him a dinner and (for Oxford Street) excellent cham- 
pagne, must be an urgent one. His story, such as it was, told ; 
and Wickham had affected to treat the whole aff'air as a joke, 
dexterously changing the conversation to completely foreign sub- 
jects before they parted. But Captain Waters perfectly well knew 
that the eyes of IMr Wickham and of his satellites had watched 
his comings and his goings ever since ; and by dint of all kind of 
underhand research, joined to the vague hints thrown out by tlie 
newspapers, had succeeded in constructing a theory tolerably near 


the truth, as to the perilous position in which Gerald Durant 
stood ; the kind of price that his own evidence, or opportune dis- 
appearance out of England, might hereafter command. Theories, 
unfortunately, however, not possessing any particular market 
value, the only course open to Captain "Waters had, till yesterday, 
been to hold himself in readiness and play a waiting game. Then, 
suddenly the advertisement that he had read in The Times had 
given form and coherence to the whole shadowy ch5,in of suspicion, 
which up to that moment his own brain alone had put together j 
had supplied him, too, with light as to the precise link in the 
evidence of which Wickham was at present in search. And on 
the instant Captain "Waters decided to risk a first-class return-ticket 
to Staffordshire without delay. Into what market the knowledge 
of which he had to dispose should be brought — whether his price 
should be paid by Mr Durant, in some Quixotic desire to save Miss 
Lovell, or by Miss Lovell, in some praiseworthy desire to save her- 
self — Captain AYaters, as I have said, cared little. Only as 
selfishness was, he held, a sounder general basis to proceed upon 
than generosity ; and as experience had shown him that women 
are more amenable to reason than men in all cases of converting 
fear into money ; it was as well, perhaps — this he thought now, 
as he stood watching the girl's terror-stricken face — that chance 
had thrown her, not Gerald Durant, first across his path. 

" You look pale. Miss Lovell — take courage. The word ' police ' 
is a formidable one, no doubt, to a young lady, but take courage. 
Everything may be hushed up yet." 

"Do they know?" asked Archie, looking at him with frighten- 
ed, dilated eyes, '' do these people — does the man who wrote this 
— ^laiow where I am now % " 

The simplicity of the question made a half-smile stir under Cap- 
tain Waters' little blonde moustache. '' Know where you are ! 
certainly not, my dear Miss Lovell. Do you think I should be 
talking to you in this informal way if anjdihing was definitely 
known] I see that you are bewildered and shocked — now sit down 
on the bank — here in the shade " — she obeyed him mechanically 
— " and I will put it all before you as plainly and as briefly as I 
can : Mr Gerald Durant some months ago was accused — wrongly, 
we will assume — of being Margaret Hall's lover, some have said 


her husband, and is now supposed to he implicated in some mys- 
terious way in her death. Very "vvell. A reward having been offer- 
ed which has stimulated to tlio utmost the zeal of the police, in- 
quiries have already gone so far that the whole matter is, I fear, 
certain to become public." She gave a start of terror at the word. 
" Mr Gerald Durant will, in fact, be brought before a magistrate 
to give some account of himself and of his actions on the night of 
the 2nd. And now you will understand what I meant by sajing 
that any one who was with him at that time might possibly come 
forward and save him. If it could be proved that he was in another 
place and in other society at ten o'clock" — he paused a moment 
and looked steadily in her face — "the time Avhen this young 
person (so unhappily for every one connected mth her) ended her 
life, what, in law, is called an alibi would be established, and IMr 
Diu\ant would be free." 

" And what have I to do with it ! " she cried, passionately. 
" Why must I suffer ? "Why must I—" 

"Miss Lovell," interrupted Waters, gravely, "these are not 
words that I ought to allow you to speak ; these are not consider- 
ations for you to discuss with me. How you will act will be for 
your own futui'e consideration. The duty which, meeting you sud- 
denly now, it has seemed thrust upon me to fulfil is simply to 
warn you of the position in which you are likely to be placed, and 
I have done it ! I have done more, Miss Lovell. My evidence 
has already been sought — well — by a detective officer ; it would 
be false kindness to make too light of an}i:hing now — respecting 
the way in which Mr Durant left Morteville, the companion with 
whom I saw him at the Calais pier ; and remembering the promise 
that I made to you in Morteville, I have managed so far to screen 
you. When I saw this advertisement in last night's paper, I cer- 
tainly thought it right to come do^vn here, see Gerald, poor fellow ! 
and offer such help as I could give him at once. Eut meeting i/ou, 
Miss Lovell, has given another direction to my thoughts. Unless me speak, I will remain sUent still ; and then, as far as I 
can at present see, only your own free wUl — or — or Mr Durant's 
— can bring you into the trial or before the public at all." 

Into the trial — before the public ! She, Archie Lovell, wlio 
yesterday, it seamed, took her doll to her pillow with her, brought 


forward to tell her own sliameful story before men id a public 
court (sbe had been in the courts of law in Italy, and she remem- 
bered how the lawyers jibed and how the crowd hooted the wit- 
nesses) j her father disgraced ; Ealph Seton's love forfeited ; every 
happiness of her life over — -and for what 1 Because she must save 
Gerald, ^Miss Durant's promised husband, the man whose selfish 
weakness had alone led her into all this labyrinth of falsehood and 
of \^T?ong. 

The poor little girl was far at this moment from grasping any- 
thing like the true proportions of the danger that menaced her. 
Vaguely she remembered how, standing by Gerald's side, she had put 
her cloak around the miserable woman upon the bridge j vaguely 
realized that to save Gerald Durant from some mistaken suspicions 
that rested upon him, she would be brought forward and have to 
tell the story of her journey with him to London, and disgrace her 
father, and estrange Ealph and all good men and women from her 
for ever. 

" I thank you for what you have done, Captain "Waters. Try 
to screen me still. Don't go to the Court — don't tell the Durants 
of this. Mr Durant would not injure me, I think, even to help 
himself; but Lucia — Lady Diu:ant — what would they care if he 
could be saved by our disgrace ? Help me still. I have no one 
to help me but you." And the childish white face that looked up 
to him imploringly touched CA^en Captain "Waters' heart "with a 
sensation of pity. 

" I will stand by you to the last. Miss Lovell. As far as a man 
of honour can " — the word came trippingly from his lips — ^' I will 
stand by you even when I am upon my oath. If you still wish 
to tell your father, I will come with you to him at once and — " 

"1^0, no!" she interrupted, "not to him. He shall know 
nothing of all this as long as I am. able to bear it alone." And 
then the thought of him, happy with his pictures and his poems 
at the Eectory, looking forward to fair years of peace and honour 
in his new home, overcame her, and vdth. a convulsive sob she 
buried her face down between her hands. 

Waters watched this outburst of emotion narrowly. Was'^she 
foolish, and vacillating, and a coward, like other women? he 
wondered, just as he had ^londered that day upon the Morteville 


sands. A weak girl, wlio would say one thing to liim and another- 
to the next person who addressed her, and incapable alike of 
coming boldly forward to Gerald's rescue, or of dogged resolve in 
standing staunch to herself and leaving him to his fate. If she 
were made of materials like this, "Waters thought, the sooner he 
gave her up and saw what was to be made out of Gerald Durant 
himself the better. 

He was quickly re-assui-ed of the kind of character this girl of 
seventeen possessed. That one convulsive sob was the first and 
last sign of her weakness. She kept her tears back bravely; 
steadied her brain resolutely to think ; went through a moment's 
fierce combat with every impulse of her nobler natiu'e ; then 
succumbed and spoke. " I don't, of coarse, understand all this 
yet " — looking up to Waters "with a face of marble, with tearless 
eyes, and hard-set lips — ''but, whatever happens, I am deter- 
mined in one thing. I will not hurt my father. I will not tell 
that story of my going to London to save any one. Mr Durant 
must help himself, as I should have to do if I was in danger. 
Now you understand me. What return do you expect for be- 
friending me, Captain Waters 1 Money 1 I can get it — tell me 
how much — and I can get it." 

He shifted about somewhat uneasily, then, '4t pained him in- 
expressibly," he said, "to accept any assistance whatever from 
her, but he was horribly hard up just now, aU this business might 
X)ut him to a great deal of expense — travelling expenses, inter- 
views, if requisite, with lawyers, and so on — and if, say, fifty 
pounds or so, could be forthcoming — % " 

" You shall have what I can get," she interrupted him, sullenly. 
*'I will beg from a friend I have, and what he gives me I shall 
send : no more. What is yoiu^ address ? " 

He took out a card and gave it to her ; remarking, delicately, 
that the sooner any little assistance she could render him was sent 
the better ; then asked if he might attend her part of the way back 
to her father's house. "For," he added, taking out his watch, *'I 
have cj[uite decided now not to see Gerald Dimant. INIy allegi- 
ance is to you, and to you alone, and if I return at once to the 
station I shall be just in time to catch the next fast train to Lon- 


"Go, then," said Arcliie, without offering to leave her place, "I 
shall not return yet. I want to be alone." * 

" And you will have no ill-feeling towards me, Miss Lovell, be- 
cause chance has made me the bearer of this disagreeable news ] " 

•' Why shoidd I ? You are doing what you think best for your- 
self, I suppose, as I do — as all the world does ! " And, just touch- 
ing his out-stretched hand with her death-cold fingers, she burst 
into a laugh : a hollow, old-sounding laugh that even Captain 
Waters did not find it pleasant to listen to. 

When he had walked away about half the length of the field he 
turned and saw her sitting still — the pale face blankly upturned, 
the motionless hands lying on her lap, just as he had left her. 
Captain Waters never more heartily wished that he was an elder 
son and free from the necessity of bread-winning than at this 
moment. Only, as money was to be made, and as he was obliged 
to make it, he was glad that he was able to do the girl a benefit, 
not an injury, by his work. She was a woman worth working for 
and with, he thought ; for — so unconquerably averse to the sense 
of our moral degradation are we — even this man strove to whiten 
himself by saying that his victim's motives were very little higher 
than his own ! Let her good name, her worldly reputation, be at 
stake, and, with all her soft girlishness of manner, she woidd save 
herself — even if the ruin of the man she loved yesterday were tc 
be the price. 

" And quite right too," Captain Waters decided, as he turned 
and went away. "What has this fellow, Gerald Durant, done to 
merit her generosity ] " 

Little did he think where, and under what circumstances, he 
would see the face of Archie Lovell next. 




LuDBROOKE, Major Seton's place, was about three-quarters of a 
mile distant from the Lo veils' cottage, and before Ealph had been 
twenty-four hours at home, it seemed just as much a matter of 
course that his time should be passed with them as in the happy 
days of seven years ago at the Villa Andreo, in Genoa. The days 
when every morning Archie used to wait for him, a flower ready 
in her hand, all a child's delicious prodigality of love upon her 
lips, at the broken doorway of the old Italian garden : days when 
his only rival was Tino ! when looking forward to the years to 
come, he was wont to feel the impossibility of Archie LoveU, 
among all the children of the world, ever deteriorating to the 
common standard of commonplace humanity as she grew up. She 
might not bloom for his wearing, of course ; what was there in him 
to deserve a different fate to other men's ? But, whether for him 
or for another, the frank nature must keep its frankness ; the sweet 
lips then- candour; the honest eyes their truth. All were for- 
sworn now — and he was haunting her steps still : thrilling if only 
a fold of the girl's dress touched him as she passed ; his pidse beat- 
ing like a boy's whenever the blue eyes stole up to his ; a spasm 
of hot jealousy contracting his heart every time that Gerald 
Durant's name passed her lips. And still steadfastly saying to 
himself that the passionate folly of his life was cured ; that, 
following the voice of honour and of prudence alike, he had put 
Archie Lovell away out of his heart ! 

He came to the Eectory soon after noon on the day succeeding 
Archie's visit to the Court, and foimd her alone in the garden that 
lay in front of the cottage, working with her own hands, and witli 
a feverish sort of energy, at cutting up the turf of the little grass- 
plot for future flower-beds. She tlu-ew down the spade the 
moment she saw ]\Iajor Scton, and running up to his side, said 
that she was tired and sick of work ; then stole her hand under 
his arm and led him in, almost, he thought, with the unconscious 
warmth of old Italian days, to the house. The Eectory was a low- 


roofed, irregular cottage, all on the groimcl floor ; one of those often 
added to country parsonages wherein more space is occupied by use- 
less closets and passages leading nowhere, than by actual living 
rooms ; but which, standing in its o^vn upland garden and orchard, 
exposed to every wind that blew, seemed to Archie's gipsy in- 
stincts a far more congenial place to live in than Durant's Court 
— sequestered shade, stately cedars, and cartouche shields included. 
At the present moment every room, every passage of the cottage, 
was strewed with Mr Lo veil's newly-unpacked bric-a-brac — the 
thousand pounds' worth of toys that Ealph Seton's money had 
saved from the hammer. Dresden and Sevres, Marqueterie and 
Euhl, met you whichever way you turned; and it was only by dint of 
much careful steerage that Archie brought Major Seton safely 
through to the little parlour, w^here the table was already spread 
for the Lovells' early dinner — luncheon, as Bettina, on the strength 
of new ecclesiastical dignities, insisted it should now be called. 

" I have an invitation for this evening for you. Miss Lovell," 
said Ealph, taking a tiny note from his pocket after he had stood 
and watched the girl for tlii'ee or four minutes, as his custom was, 
in silence. "It came enclosed in one to me, and I thought I 
might as well walk over at once and see what your answer would 
be. I called late last night to see you — to smoke a pipe, I mean, 
with your father — and Mrs Lovell told me that she had sent you 
to yoiu' room, ill." 

"Ill ! " cried Archie, throwing off her hat with a laugh, and dis- 
playing cheeks like damask-roses, eyes that an unwonted light 
made brilliant. ''I came back from my walk flushed, as I am 
now, and nothing would do for Bettina, but I must go off to my 
bed at once. If I look a shade more sunburnt than usual, papa 
and Bettina, or both, are sui'e to tliink I am dying. What is this 
invitation about ? I didn't think that any one in Staffordshire, 
but you, knew our name as yet." And she took the note from 
Major Seton's hand, and standing close enough for him to look 
over with her if he chose, broke the seal, and read it thi'ough. 

It was a prettily-worded invitation from Lucia DiKant ; every 
line mathematically equi-distanced, and with neat httle commas 
and semicolons exactly where they ought to be, expressing Lady 
Durant's sorrow that Miss LoveU had not stayed to luncheon 


yesterday, and asking her to come over to croquet and high tea 
that evening. If Mr and Mrs Lovell would accompany her, Lady 
Diirant Avould be chaiTQed ; if not, perhaps Major Seton would be 
JMiss Lo veil's escort, as they had ^vritten and asked him to join 
the party. 

" "Well," said Ralph, who had been reading, not the note, but 
Archie's face, " do you care to go, or would the long walk be too 
much for you ? " 

*'The long walk would not, for certain," she answered; "but 
— well, Major Seton, honestly, I don't think I am very fond of 
Durant's Court. Something seems to stifle me there, and then, 
you know, lovers are not amusing, are they ? Gerald Durant was 
very well by himself, as a partner at a Morteville ball ; mth Miss 
Durant alone, I could find something to say perhaps about her 
trousseau, or the bridesmaids' dresses, but together — no ! How 
can they want me 1 How can Mr Durant want any other society 
than his cousin's ? " 

" Because he does not happen to care about her, I suppose," said 
Ralph, drily. " Theirs is an engagement without any pretence of 
sentiment, as I dare say you had occasion to guess, Archie, even 
during your short experience of Gerald Durant in jMorte^dlle. 
Miss Durant likes her cousin because she has never seen any one 
else in her life. Gerald marries her — " 

"Because she is rich," interrupted Archie, quickly. *^I know, 
and I repeat, I don't see why they ask me to be with them so 
much. If they are in love with each other, they cannot want 
strangers. If they are not — " 

" If they are not, Archie ? " 

"Well, they certainly won't become so through having me in 
their company .... besides, it's much pleasanter at home, and 
there is plenty to be done in the garden, if you'll help me. I don't 
at all see why you and I should trouble ourselves to make society 
for the Durants, when we have the choice of remaining here alone 
by ourselves 1 " 

But Bettina, who entered the room just then, on poor Mr 
Lovell's arm, stately as if she had been a bishop's wife, for the one 
o'clock dinner, saw the matter in a very different light. An in- 
vitation, a first invitation to Durant's Court to bo refused ! The 


best neiglibours they had : and showing such a friendly spirit- 
asking them already to the wedding— and everything! Some 
member of the family at all events should accept ; and she had a 
very great mind to put on her mauve moire and start, herself, as 
soon as luncheon was over : a threat that brought Archie, who 
shrank with nervous terror from the thought of Bettina and Gerald 
meeting, to instant, almost eager, submission. She would go ; she 
would be agreeable to Lucia ; would try, if she could, to behave 
like a young lady — not a boy ; would accept any invitations they 
gave her : everything that Bettina wished — only, let her and 
Major Seton go alone. And then Mrs Lovell happily remembering 
that the doctor's wife had promised to call and talk over parish 
business that afternoon, the matter was settled; and at three 
o'clock Archie stood ready by Major Seton's side at the Eectory- 
gate, with Bettina still calling out to her through the parlour- 
T\indow, to be pleasant to everybody, and to accept all overtures 
of intimacy that Lady Durant and her daughter might be good 
enough to make. 

The coolest summer path from the Eectory to Dm^ant's Court 
was a footway that led through a corner of the Ludbrooke woods, 
then, after half a mile or so of steep and sheltered lane, fell into 
one of the side alleys of the old Chase : and this was the path 
Major Seton chose for Archie now. She was in a tumult of wild 
spirits as soon as she got away out of Bettina's sight, and made 
the woods echo with her jokes and bursts of laughter as they 
walked along. But Ealph knew her well enough to detect a false 
ring in her voice, a bitterness very unlike her old self, under all 
her little jests, and his heart was pained for her exceedingly. 
More than ever the girl's beauty and gTace, and fitful winning 
ways, had touched his fancy to-day : more than ever his reason 
bade him note how thorough, how consistent was her capacity for 
dissimulation : and more than ever he loved her ! Loved her — so 
he strove to believe — with a love from which every selfish hope, 
every smaller jealousy, was absent. Whatever the nature of her 
feelings towards Gerald Durant : whether the last act in this part 
that she was playing should be comedy or tragedy : he, at least, 
would hold by her — blindly, uuquestioningly ! l^ot, perhaps, as 
a man would hold by the woman into whose hands he meant to 


intrust his own honour, but rather as a father would hold faithful 
to an erring child, a child whom no fault, no guilt, could CTcr 
estrange from his affection. 

" You laugh too much, Archie ; it pains me to hear it. I don't 
think there is quite a true sound in your voice or in your laugh 

They had just reached the point where Durant's Court was first 
visible among the distant trees, and Archie, in the njiddle of some 
wild childish jest or other, was laughing, a stranger would have 
said, with her whole heart, when Ealph spoke. She turned to 
him, and the laugh died in a moment : her lips began to quiver. 

"I — I don't know what you mean, Major Seton. 1 never used 
to tire you by my nonsense once, I tliink ! " 

" It was all real then, Archie. If your voice had got its old 
sound I could listen to your laugh for ever." 

"The old sound! How can one's voice remain the same 
always? Doesn't life change ? isn't one changed oneself ? I shall 
be eighteen in October. How can you expect me to be a child in 
anything 1 " Saying all this quickly, passionately, and with the 
same quiver yet about her lips, 

" Well, you are not quite a child, of course, Archie," said Ealph, 
kindly ; " but you are of an age to have a cliild's sphits — certainly 
not to need to force them as you do to-day." 

"You think sol Major Seton, what do you know of my life 
and of my troubles — the things I have to make my heart heavy 1 
Is our age measured by years 1 Bettina and papa are ten times 
lighter-hearted, both of them, than I." 

*' Poor little Archie ! If I could help you I would, child — help 
you wdtli my life — but you won't let me, you know. I am nothing 
to you now. Do you remember the old motto that I taught you, 
and made you hold to when you were little — the motto that you 
acted upon when you saved Tino from being pimished for your 
sins ? Of course you don't, though. How should you remember 
anything that happened all those years ago ? " 

" I remember it distinctly," said Archie ; " a very nice motto it 
was — for me and Tino ! but it would never fit into the lives of 
gro^\^l-up men and women — women especially : * Fais ce que dois : 
advienne que poiirra.'' A beautiful maxim ! * Fais ce que dois : ' 


easy to follow if other people did the same ; but they don't ; and 
one's life is mixed up with other lives, and what we do comes 
from other people, not from ourselves. If each of us lived in a 
desert, your motto would he an admirable one ; but we don't live 
in deserts — I don't, at least — and I can't do what is right, and I 
care a great deal — sometimes I am told my first duty is to care — 
for what follows. AlJez ! " 

She snatched off a great head of foxglove from the hedge, and 
began plucking it to pieces as she walked ; throwing away flower 
after flower with a certain restless gesture of the hand that Ealph 
remembered was always the sign of some unusual emotion in her 
when she was a child. 

" And I can't even advise you, Archie, then ? " Xever had he 
admired her more than at this moment : her fresh lips playing at 
scepticism and sophistry ; the scoffing, defiant look upon her soft 
child's face. Never had she more recalled to him the days when 
he believed that the germ of every fair and noble equality was 
latent in Archie Lovell's heart. " There is nothing you will let 
me do for you 1 " 

"In the way of advice, nothing. Advice never did me any 
good : it never will. ISTow, if — if—" she hesitated an instant ; 
then shot a quick glance up into Ealph's face, " I hate to say this, 
Major Seton, when I think of aU you have done for us, but I 
have no one to go to but you — I asked Bettina in a roundabout 
way this morning, and she told me we had not five pounds in the 
house — if you could lend me some money, fifty pounds say, you 
would help me infinitely ! help me, ah, so that I could never repay 
you while I live ! " And she came close to him, and suddenly 
put up her hand, all in a tremble, on his arm. 

The touch thrilled through every fibre of Ealph Seton's heart. 
" I wish you had asked me for anything else, Archie, by Heaven, 
I do ! "What do you want money for 1 Tell me everything you 
desire in the world, and let me — oh, cliild, let me have the foolish 
pleasiKC of giving it you — but money ! You, at your age, to want 
money ! " And for an instant the sickening suspicion that her 
father must have tutored her into asking this overcame him. 

" Well, you have only to refuse me," said Archie, quietly ; but 
her face blanched at the thought of his refusal. " It is not to 


spend upon myself; it is not for anything I can tell papa a"bout. 
I am in a great trouble — a trouble where only money can help me, 
and I thought perhaps you would have lent me some. I mil speak 
of it no more. Ealph, dear Ralph ! " half repentant, half cajoling, 
and looking up at him with eyes unused to denial, "you hay o 
sacrificed enough for us already, I am sure 1 " 

And upon this INIajor Seton straightway did what many another 
stern, high-principled man would have done, perhaps, with a soft 
hand weighting his arm, blue eyes imploring to him through un- 
shed tears — succumbed utterly ; promised to write out a cheque 
for fifty pounds — a hundred pounds — whenever Archie wished ; 
to ask her no question, direct or indirect, about the way in which 
it pleased her to spend it ; but to stand — for this she pleaded to 
him wistfully — to stand by her and aid her in every difficulty of 
her life, now and always. Then he took her hand, and, raising it 
reverently, held it long — poor little trembling hand that it was — 
to his lips. This was part of his system, doubtless, for his folly's 
cure : part of his system for putting the girl away out of his heart. 

They found Lucia and Gerald already out on the lawn, pretend- 
ing, in a lover-like fashion, to play croquet, when they arrived. 
Miss Durant, in her little affable way, assigned Archie and Major 
Seton to be partners at once ; and the match was soon going on as 
gaily as though no heart out of the four were burthen ed by fear or 
jealousy — as calmly as though no storm, which might for ever 
wreck the lives of all, were already dark upon the horizon ! Won 
by the irresistible frankness of Gerald's manner, the hearty grasp 
of his hand when they met, Ealph Seton found it impossible, after 
the first five minutes were over, to treat him either with coldness 
or distrust. Indeed, as the day wore on, and as he marked 
Gerald's thoroughly unconcerned manner towards Archie, his de- 
A^otion to Lucia ; marked too — could he fail to mark ? — the con- 
scious blush that ever and anon rose upon Archie LovelFs fiice 
when, by chance, her eyes met his own ; it began to daAvn upon 
the mind of the old Moustache that a good many of his severest 
foregone resolutions were somewhat transcendental ones. Through 
folly or tlu^ough accident, this gul and tliis man had once spent 
eight or ten hours of a summer's day — scarcely more than in- 
different acquaintance spend at a pic-nic or a yachting party — to- 


getter ; and neither caring for the other, and the world happily 
knomng nothing of that foolish chance, each with honour would 
marry and he happy apart, some day look back and speak with 
calmness of that accidental half-liking of the past. Archie had 
spoken falsely to him in Morteville, certainly ; ay — but how fair 
she looked, bare-headed beneath the cedar shade, the cool light 
playing on her white dress, her bright hair clustering round her 
neck, her slender figure girlishly, innocently free in every new at- 
titude, as she flitted across the grass. She had been false — was 
false still. But something must ever be forgiven in what we love ; 
and marvellously easy it would be, he thought, to forgive her 
anything ! And with an instinctive, a growing consciousness of 
Avhy Major Seton watched her so steadfastly, Archie, all her forced 
spirits gone, v\'a3 soft, quiet, womanly, as she had never been till 
to-day : soft and womanly to an extent that occasionally gave 
Gerald's heart a very sore pang yet : and even made Lucia confess 
to him, aside, that, "vvith training and attention, and care of her 
complexion, the rector's daughter might possibly yet become " nice- 
looking than otherwise." 

When their match was over, Major Seton and Archie shame- 
fully defeated, high tea — as dinner, if eaten cold or at an earher 
hour than usual, must now be called — was served to them upon 
the lawn. Archie sat by Sir John Durant, charming him, as that 
sunny face and laugh of hers always charmed old people, and long 
before the meal was over had begun to confess to herself that the 
air of Durant's Court, the presence even of the lovers themselves, 
no longer stifled her. A welcome sense of peace and protection 
came over her as she looked at Sir John and Lady Durant, at the 
stately old house, the hemmed-in gardens, the grave grey-headed 
butler standing erect and impassive behind his master's chair. 
Impossible, she thought, that vulgar, noisy trouble, the scandal of 
a public exposure, could be coming near a place so sheltered, near 
people so separated from the outer world as these. What was 
there to prove that Captain Waters' story had a word of truth in 
it! Might he not himself have put that notice in the paper? 
Would such a man hesitate as to means where money was to be 
extorted ? And she had been weak, cowardly enough to take all 
his threats at their full worth ! Lucky that it had been out of 


her poTver to send him off the money at once. She would make 
fullest confession, she thought, as she walked home with Ealph 
to-night ; would throw herself upon his pity ; ask him to save her 
from the possibility of Captain AVaters' further persecution ; and 
then — then bright vistas of a peaceful future floated, rose-coloured, 
before Archie's mind! Her father happy with his pictures, 
Bettina with the parish, and she and Ealph fast friends, not a 
shadow of distrust between them, and in time, perhaps, long after 
Gerald and Lucia were married — 

At this point of her meditation — Ealph was watching her down- 
cast face just then, thinking how pure, how childlike, how un- 
tainted by a touch of falsehood, that face was— one of the under- 
servants of the Court came across the lawn from the house, and, 
beckoning the butler mysteriously aside, said a few words in his 
ear. The old man at first shook his head, as though protesting 
against the indecorum of the message, whatever it was, that had 
been delivered to liim; then, after a minute's consultation, 
returned behind his master's chair, and bending low, told him, in 
a whisper, that a person from London desired to see him without 
delay — a person on most important business, of the name of 

The word, whispered though it was, fell full on Archie Lovell's 
ear. Another instant, and her face — that innocent face that Ealph 
was watching so tenderly — had grown white as ashes. 



Mr WiCKnAM stood quietly waiting for tlie servant's return in 
the great hall of the Court ; and as he waited he took a In-ief 
mental inventory of all the different objects by which he was 
surrounded. The dark groined roof — not used to shelter men of 
his particular class — the armour in which tlie Uurants of old had 
tilted, and sometimes bled to death for honour ; the coats of arms 


upon tlie painted windows • tlie glimpse through the open door of 
the garden, lying peaceful in the rosy evening flush, and of the 
little party heneath the cedars, Mr Wickhani took note of all : 
professionally, mechanically, with a view to possible contingencies, 
without any sense of triumph or of pity ; simply as he would have 
taken note of the squalid furniture in that waterside tavern to 
which he had conducted Mrs Sherborne on the day succeeding 
Margaret Hall's death. 

Sir John Durant would see him in a few minutes, the servant 
brouc^ht in word ; Sir John was at present finishing dinner with 
some friends on the lawn, if the gentleman would walk into the 
library 1 So into the library, with his peculiar, stealthy, noise- 
less tread, the gentleman walked (taking more notes on liis way) ; 
and there, upright, unmoved, just as it chanced under the mourn- 
ful-eyed portrait of Sir Francis Durant — the cavalier who was 
wont to lay himseK in his coffin in memory of the martyred king 

stood and waited for the present master of the Court : the old 

man whose pride, whose name, it w^as his mission to bring lower 
than the pride, the name, of any Durant since the Conquest had 
ever yet been brought ! 

Sir John came in with his accustomed courteous, blandly-con- 
descending air ; seated himseK by the open window, from whence 
he could still see Gerald at Lucia's side, and signed graciously to 
Mr Wickham that he might take a chair. 

'^ You have come to see me on business, Mr ?" 

" Wickham, Sir John Durant. Inspector Wickham," put in 
the visitor, deferentially, and remaining standing still. 

"^fr Wickham — ah, yes, I did not quite catch the name. 
Some communication from Conyers Brothers, of Lincoln's Inn, I 
suppose ] " 

]\Ir Wickham gave an apologetic half-cough, and raised the 
back of his hand to his mouth. '^Mr Conyers was the party, I 
understand, Sir John Durant, who first opened your offer to our 
people, but my business is not connected with that in any way 
— payment of course never being made in these cases until the 
information sought for has been brought to proof. I have come 
down to-da}^ on a mission of a remarkably grave nature, and — the 
circumstances being unusually delicate ones — it seems to mo a 

2 a 


duty"— on the strength of addressing a baronet, jNIr "Wickham 
made his sentences as long and as inverted as he could — "a pain- 
ful duty, Sir John Durant, to put you in possession of some of the 
leading f\\cts my inquiries have brought to light before proceeding 
to execute it." 

"Ah, yes, I'm much obliged to you for your attention, I am 
sure." And Sir John, always sleepy after dinner, gave a half-yawn 
as he spoke. " If you really don't think Conyers would have done 
as well 1 I have a great dislike to business, and — and all painful 
subjects, and I am sure I shall gladly pay the hundred pounds 
(something has been discovered yoii say T) to know that the thing 
is set at rest. It has been a very harassing occurrence to me, Mr 
"Wickham, very." And Sir John drew out his spectacles, T\iped 
them, adjusted thom on his nose, and looked imploringly at his 
visitor, as much as to say. Pray be brief, my good Mr Wickham ; 
you are an excellent person, no doubt, and have done everything 
that excellent persons of your class are usually paid to do in these 
matters, and I'm ready to glance at any distressing documents you 
may have with you, or sign you a cheque : anything to get 
rid of you, and of aU other unpleasant subjects, as briefly as pos- 
sible ! " And Mr Wickham, no bad interpreter of expression, saw 
at a glance with what kind of human creature he had to deal. 
Durant's Court was not the only old house with an unsuUied name 
and an ancestry dating back to William the Conqueror into which 
his professional duties had been the means of bringing him. 

" I am sorry. Sir John Durant — ahem ! very sorry — to say that 
my communication cannot be told in six words. This is a matter 
of no common importance, sir, and I think perhaps it would be as 
well to have a third party present during our conversation." 

Sir John bowed resignedly. " Whatever you think necessary 
— only, reaUy, if Conyers could have done it all — and another 
person present, you say ! Xow is that necessary, Mr Wickham *? 
It was my duty of course to see that these inquiries were made — 
a very good girl, poor thing ! the Sherbornes most respected 
tenants of ours for generations past — and it has been your duty 
to make them — but why should we pain another person by com- 
pelling him to listen to auy of tlic harrowing details you have 
collected ] Why shoidd we, Mr Wickham ] " 


" 'Well, Sir John Durant," answered Mr "Wickliam, mtli a little 
abrupt shift from his upright posture. " You being, as I hear, a 
magistrate, don't need to be told that there's a form in all these 
things — a form that it's just as well to attend to. I'm placed by 
my duty in a position where it's best for all parties to be plain 
spoken, and I hope you'll say hereafter I conducted everything 
honourable and above-board. Mr Gerald Durant is, I believe, 
staying in this house ? "Well, I understood so — I understood so — 
and if I may make so free as to offer an opinion, I should say that 
Mr Gerald Durant is the gentleman who ought to be present at 
our conversation." 

"Dear me — well, now, I cannot see that!" cried Sir John. 
*' What earthly difference can it make whether two people or one 
has to bore himself— I beg your pardon, to go through all this 
very distressing business? — however, of course you know best. 
May I ask you to have the goodness to touch that bell ?— thank 
you, I have been rather helpless, Mr "VVickham, since my last 
attack of gout, and I feel every change in the weather. We are 
going to have rain now, I'm afraid. The harvest has been getting 
on very well hitherto." Making these little remarks in the affably 
famihar tone he always employed towards his inferiors. " A great 
deal is in round us already, and we are not generally an early 

Mr Wickham was deferentially interested. Being a Londoner 
himself, he was not much of a hand at such tilings, but seemed to 
think the crops looked forward, certainly, as he came down by the 
train. After this, a servant having meanwhile entered and been 
told to request Mr Gerald Durant's presence in the library, there 
was a pause. Sir John helped himself to a pinch of snuff from 
his gold snuff-box, and tmmed his face again towards the wirdow 
(very handsome the kindly weak old face looked in the sinking 
light) ; Ih Wickham stood respectfully in the background still : 
the hard features immovable, expressionless as ever : the keen eyes 
adding more and more items to that professional inventory which 
his unresting brain was never wearied of drawing out. In five or 
six minutes' time Gerald Durant entered the room. 

"Here is my nephew, Mr Gerald Durant," said Sir John. 
" Gerald, this is Mr Wickham— Inspector Wickham, you know, 

2 A 2 


whom Conyers got to inquire about jDOor Maggie Hall, and -we 
thought you might as well be present to hear how it is all settled. 
I wrote to Conyers a week or two hack — didn't I tell you"? — 
offering a reward if anything could he discovered about the way 
she came by her death, poor soul, and — " 

But the old man's hazy talk was brought to a sudden stop before 
the look of Gerald's face. He had, I have said before, a com- 
plexion which flushed and faded like a girl's under any strong 
emotion; at this moment the blood rushed violently to his 
temples, then ebbed away and left him a pale ashen hue, very 
painful to witness. " You — you offered a reward, sir ! " he 
exclaimed, his voice shaken with agitation; for now that the 
police had been at work, could he doubt icliat story he had been 
summoned here to listen to 1 could he doubt that the shame of 
Eobert Dennison's marriage — the treble shame of his having 
deserted his wife, was to become public'? "jS'o, you did not tell 
me of this before. I wish to heaven you had ! " he added 

Up to this moment he had scarcely noticed "Wickham, who was 
still keeping respectfully aloof in the background ; as he turned 
imj^atiently from liis uncle now, his eyes fell full upon the 
detective's face, and then Mr Wickham came half a step forward, 
and after giving another of his small coughs of apology spoke : 

" My duty is a painful one, Mr Gerald Durant, but I wish to 
discharge it as delicately and as fairly as possible, and I warn you, 
sir, that anji^hing you say now may hereafter be brought up to 
your detriment. I have no wish — there is no necessity," he added 
with emphasis, " for me to employ subterfuge of any kind. I am 
an officer of detective police. I have been employed by the 
authorities to investigate the circumstances connected with ^Afar- 
garet Hall's death, on the second instant, and I warn you again, 
Mr Durant, that anything you now say may hereafter be made use 
of to your disadvantage." 

" And why the deuce, sir, should we require this, or any otlier 
warning of yours?" cried Gerald, hotly. ''Sir John Durant lias 
offered a sum of money for the discovery of certain circumstances. 
You, it appears, have discovered them, and have come to claim 
your reward. AVhat can wo possibly have to say at all in such a 


matter ? You have to speak, and we to listen, I think, sir." And 
drawing up a chair, Gerald took his place at Sir John Durant's 
side. Only too clearly he foresaw the cruel blow the chivalrous 
old man Avas about to receive ; and his blood rose at the thought 
that already a man like this was treating them half Avith pity ; 
warning them to say nothing that could hereafter be used against 
themselves ! They, the Durants of Durant, warned not to betray 
their complicity with the guilty husband and betrayer — their OAvn 
flesh and blood — of Margaret Hall the dairy-maid ! 

*' I made use of a form only," said Wickham, suavely — accurately 
calculating, meanwhile, the precise angle which Gerald occupied 
between the window and the spot where he himself stood. 
"There is, as Mr Gerald Durant says, no necessity for the warn- 
ing in this particular instance, but there are formulas that we are 
instructed to follow in every case of ar — of criminal procedure, and 
I adhered to duty in giving it. I have now, Sii' John Durant, to 
lay before you briefly the results of my search in this matter. If 
they lead to a most unlooked-for conclusion, if they fix the guilt 
upon parties the least suspected by yourself, you will, I hope, be 
in some measure prepared for the shock. I have been placed in 
positions of this kind before — often before," said Mr Wickham, 
with honourable joride ; " and I have always found, if I may be 
excused the remark, that the higher born a gentleman is the better 
he bears any painful or unexpected disclosure ; even a disclosure," 
lowering and concentrating his voice, and moving a stealthy step 
or two in advance, "that may darkly afi'ect his honour and the 
honour of his family." 

Gerald passed his hand with irrepressible impatience across his 
face : old Sir John gave a puzzled benign look of inquiry at 

"This extreme delicacy does you credit, Mr Wickham, still I 
cannot but think you over-estimate our interest in the case. The 
girl was a good girl, poor thing ! the servant of one of my tenant- 
farmers, you understand — nothing more." 

!Mr Wickham bowed; and looking down, traced out, for a 
second or two, one of the patterns on the carpet with his foot. 
He felt as assured now of the old man's utter ignorance as of 
Gerald's guilt, and it seemed to him that the shortest way of 


finishing what he had come to accomplish would be the most 
merciful ; he also wanted to return by the seven-forty train to 

" On the night of the second instant, Sir John Durant " — taking 
a note-book from his pocket, and occasionally glancing at it, but 
more for form's sake than because his memory required artificial 
aid as he spoke — " the body of a woman was, as you know, found 
in the Thames, a little below London Bridge. From the first, and 
although nothing material was brought to light at the inquest, 
some suspicions of foul play were entertained among our people, 
and I was intrusted with the further management of the case. It 
has proved as difficult a one, sir, as was ever worked ; but no stone 
has been left unturned — although I say so — in working it ; and 
bit by bit, as I am about to show, every portion of the requisite 
evidence has come into my hands. The story, shortly put, comes 
to this : Margaret Hall, seven months ago, eloped from her 
employer's house, here in Staffordshire, with a gentleman (whom 
at present I need not name), and, to the best of my belief, though 
of this I have no absolute proof, became liis wife." Gerald gave 
a sigh of relief. Discovery had not, after all, gone so far, perhaps, 
as he had dreaded. " On the second of August, Sir John Durant, 
this gentleman returned from France, accompanied by a lady — we 
may say, for shortness, by his "wife — and arrived with her in town^ 
as I have evidence to show, at about eight o'clock in the evening. 
They came direct from Morteville-sur-Mer to London, and the 
name of the excursion steamer that brought them was the Lord of 
the Isles. A man called Eandall, better known among our people 
by the name of AVaters, saw them on board together from the 
Calais pier ; the gentleman's own servant, reluctantly, as is natural, 
is witness to the same ; and, lastly, a lady Avho was one of their 
fellow-passengers swears to a travelling cloak she lent the young 
woman in the course of the voyage, and which, in the huriy of 
landing, or some other cause, was not returned to it^s o"\^Tier. 
Well, sir, the gentleman (whom at present I need not call by 
name) was next seen with his companion by one of our officers on 
London Bridge, at a few minutes before ten o'clock that night ; 
and here, as throughout, not a shadow of doubt rests upon the 
cccuracv of the evidence, the officer, under my directions, having 

fare^\t:lls to lucia. 359 

watched the gentleman at his town lodgings, not three days ago, 
and sworn positively to his identity. The girl was at this time 
dressed, it is remembered, in a scarlet travelling cloak ; the gentle- 
man was standing, no hat on, and his coat torn, by her side. 
Whether a quarrel had taken place between them already is a 
matter of surmise. There had been a disturbance shortly before 
on the bridge, which, it is suggested, may account for the state of 
the gentleman's dress. Something unusual, at all events, about 
their appearance and manner made the officer watch them narrowly 
before proceeding on his beat. It was now, you will remark, near 
upon ten o'clock ; a quarter of an hour only before the time when 
a woman's sliriek was heard, and a body seen to fall from the 
bridge. An hour or so later, the gentleman went alone to the 
house of a relation, excited in, and disordered in his dress, 
and when joked with about his appearance, volunteered the 
singular statement that he had seen the ghost of an old friend's 
face — Hhe ghost of a Staifordshire face' — on London Bridge that 
night. Some hours afterwards the body of a female was found 
drowned in the river, dressed in the scarlet cloak since identified, > 
a handkerchief marked with initials corresponding to the name of 
the suspected party in her breast. The body was recognized and 
sworn to by Martha Sherborne, on the afternoon of the inquest, as 
that of her late dairy servant, Margaret Hall." And here Mr 
"Wickham paused. 

"And what does all this proved' cried Sh John, a neiTous 
tremor in his voice. " I am a magistrate, Mr "Wickham, I imder- 
stand law myself, and I don't see that these facts, supposing them 
all to be estabhshed, go to prove that the girl came by her death 
unfairly. If they point to anything, it is to what we have sus- 
pected from the first — suicide." 

"That is a question for the lawyers," answered Wickham, "with 
excessive gravity. " I make no accusation, I seek to estabhsh no- 
thing. My duty has been to search for facts alone. These facts 
having been considered conclusive, a warrant has been granted for 
the apprehension of the person who was Margaret Hall's companion 
on the night of her death, and my duty here is to carry that war- 
rant into effect." 

" Here ! " exclaimed old Sir John, a deep red flushing over his 

360 Archie lovelL. 

face as he got up slowly from his chair. "You are misinformed, 
Mr Wickham, or you are carrying some mistaken sense of duty 
too far. What apprehension can you possibly have to execute in 
my house ? " 

" I have to arrest the person of Margaret Hall's companion," 
said AVickham, Avith increasing firmness, and producing a paper 
from his pocket. " You are a magistrate, Sir John Durant, and 
I look to you to help rather than hinder me in my duty — painful 
though it may be ? " 

" And that person ? " faltered Sir John, with whitening lips, as 
a new and awfid suspicion overcame him. 

"That person," answered Wickham, "is now, I regret to say, 
before you. ]Mr Durant," coming across the room in a second, 
and laying a heavy hand on Gerald's shoulder, "I arrest you on 
the charge of having caused, or been party to, the death of Mar- 
garet Hall, on the night of August the second. You must consider 
yourself my prisoner, sii', and you will be pleased to accompany 
me back to London by the seven-forty train to-night." 

Gerald had been sitting till this minute with his hands tightly 
pressed across his eyes. He started to his feet in a second at 
Wickhani's touch, and as his hand dropped from liis face, both 
of the men who were watching him felt literally startled by the 
calmness of its expression. I imagine most innocent men or 
women woidd look to the fidl as guilty as really criminal ones in 
the first stimned moment of an unjust accusation; guilty or in- 
nocent, the majority of human cheeks would certainly blanch — 
the majority of human nerve^ falter at such a moment as this ! 
But Gerald Durant's face kept just as calm as it had been half an 
hour before, when he was whispering soft nothings to Lucia under 
the cedar-trees on the lawn. "Blood tells," thought AVickham, 
proud of the verification of his theor}^ " Evidence enough against 
him to hang a bishop, and he nps after his arrest, as cool as a cu- 
■ cumber, and with a face like this. Fine family — fine spirit ! 
Pleasure to a man to have his duty lie with real gentlemen who 
can act as such ! " And possibly INIr AVickham was right. Pos- 
sibly it toas his blood, the inherited instincts of a gentle race, that 
upheld Gerald at this moment. Robert Dennison, the manufac- 
turer's son, could confront personal danger witli the strength, the 


sheer animal courage, of a lion. Gerald could do more : lie could 
confront disgrace sooner than betray a trust : could confront it with 
the carelessness of a cavalier dying for his Avorthless king, the grace 
of a French marquis arranging his necktie, and smiling adieux to 
his friends., upon his way to the tumbril ! As Wickham told his 
story — from the moment when the word Morteville first turned 
suspicion aside from Eobert to the last — Gerald had followed liim 
calmly and minutely, his quick imagination supplying a hundred 
links that in Wickham's purposely short accoimt were wanting ; 
and, long before the heavy hand was laid upon his shoulder, had 
realized the position in which he stood, the very plain and straight- 
forward path that lay before him. To whatever pass this extra- 
ordinary chain of accidents might lead, a double trust must, he 
felt, seal his lips from speaking one solitary word of self-defence. 
By disclosing what he knew of Robert's marriage, he might pos- 
sibly clear himself — and present to the world the chivalrous 
spectacle of a Durant striving to shift danger from his own 
shoulders to that of another member of his family. By bringing 
forward Archie Lovell he could, for very certain, reduce the whole 
accusation to an absurdity : save his own at the price of a woman's 
reputation. And the temptation, the conflict, that might have as- 
sailed many a man, equally honest, but of different race, never 
really for a moment came near Gerald Durant. He was placed 
awkwardly — simply that : and before his uncle, and before this 
man whose heavy hand was on his shoidder alike, must give not 
a sign, say not a word, that could by possibility criminate the two 
persons his honour bade him shield: How things would probably 
end as regarded himself was a speculation he did not enter upon. 
To be the hero of a melodrama might yield him, if the play did not 
last too long, a new emotion or two at all events ; and as to coming 
to definite grief — well, as he had told Eobert, no one ever finally 
does that in these days off the boards of the Adelphi. 

" Seven-forty j " taking out his watch, quietly. ''I think it 
would be rather a mistake to go by that, Mr Wickham. The 
seven-forty is a slow train. If we go by the mail, which leaves 
Hatton at eight, we shall get to town an hour earlier, and I shall 
be able to have a cup of coffee and a cigar — you want something 
too, perhaps, after your journey? — before we start." 


For about the first time in his long official experience Mr Wick- 
ham felt actually taken aback by his prisoner's unconcerned and 
courteous manner. He required no refreshment for himself, but 
Mr Dm^ant was doubtless right ; the mail would be the best train 
for them to go by, and he wished .to make everything comfortable, 
and let Mr Durant take leave of his friends — though generally 
best avoided — before they left. 

Then Gerald tui-ned to his uncle who was standing by, too stun- 
ned as yet to speak, and with his fine old face white to the very 
lips with agitation. "A ridiculous mistake, sir, is it not? but 
four-and-twenty hours will set it all to rights. You can come up 
to-morrow and we'll see Conyers together, and for to-night I think 
it would be wise to keep silence about it in the house. Say I have 
had to go up to to'\\ai on business, nothing more." 

" But — the thing is monstrous ! " exclaimed Sir John, recovering 
his breath at last. "You — Gerald accused of . . . why, good 
God ! " he broke out passionately, the very suspicion is a disgrace ! 
Explain it away at once — explain at once to this officer how he is 
mistaken — say what you were doing at the time when the woman 
came by her death. The thing is a joke, of course it will prove to 
be a joke — you take it in the right way, Gerald — but don't let it 
be carried any further. If tliis officer's duty is to take you to 
London, you must of coiu'se go ; but show at once before him, and 
before me, the ludicrous impossibility of your even being mixed 
up in such a charge." And with very poor success the old man 
tried to laugh, then turned abruptly aside and hid away his face 
between his hands. 

" K I was to give an opinion," put in Mr Wickham with ex- 
treme politeness, " I should say that the less Mr Gerald Durant 
states about himself before me just now the better. If a gentle- 
man, circumstanced as Mr Durant is, was as innocent as the babe 
unborn, and as able to prove an alibi as I am to prove I aui 
standing here, Sir John Durant, I should observe to a gentleman 
so circumstanced, ' the less you say before me, except in the ways 
of general conversation, the better.' These things are forms, cer- 
tainly," added Mr Wickham, " l)ut forms are forms — and justice is 
justice— and what I say to Mr Gerald Durant is that every word 


he makes use of now it will be my duty to bring up againfet him 
ill the course of examination hereafter." 

" And you are quite right, Mr Wickham," said Gerald quickly. 
''I see now why you warned me before not to speak. The arrest 
itself is palpably absurd, but you have performed your part in it 
with honesty. You will have no objection, I suppose, to my 
speaking a few words in private to my uncle l " 

'' ISTone in life, Mr Dui^ant, none in life. I wish to put you 
and all the family to no more illconvenience than necessary." 
And having previously satisfied himself as to the height of the 
window from the ground, Mr Wickham" retired to the door, turned 
aside, and took out his note-book ; and Gerald was left to whisper 
whatever counsel or consolation he could find to give to his uncle. 

He said very few words, and all with a smile upon his face, all 
with a manner of calm, of thorough assurance as to the whole 
thing being an absurd and insignificant kind of practical joke. 
"You will come up to-morrow morning, sir, bring Seton with you 
if he will come, and see Conyers at once, though I hardly think it 
likely we shall want a lawyer's help at all. For the present the 
best way is for you to return cjuietly to the party in the garden, 
and let nothing whatever be known in the house about my arrest. 
If Lucia and her mother insist upon having suspicions, let them 
think I am in one of my usual difficulties about money. Women are 
not generally very difiicult to blind in such matters. I won't even 
see Lucia before I go, sir ; I couldn't, poor child ! I'll see that 
little friend of hers. Miss Lovell — girls are the best ambassadors 
in each other's affairs — and intrust her with my farewells, if you 
can contrive to let me speak to her here alone 1 Lucky I left that 
rascal, Bennett, in town; he can bring my things from my 
lodgings to-morrow, supposing, which is very unlikely, that I am 
to be kept in durance over another day." 

"And you won't see Lucia before you go, Gerald? Isn't this 
an over-delicacy of feeling; won't the child herself think it 

" I could not see her," said Gerald, hastily, and turning his face 
away from his uncle's eyes. " Can't you understand, sir, that I 
would not have her, of all others, look upon me in such company 


as this ? " glancing for a second towards Mr "Wickham's immov- 
able figure. " When everything is over, Lucia and I will laugh 
at it all together, but now — no, I could not see my poor little 
cousin now ! I'll send my farewells to her, as I said, by the 
parson's daughter, if you can manage for me to speak to her here 
alone, — afterwards, when I have had a cup of coffee, I can just 
get quietly away with my friend here, and later in the evening you 
will tell them all that I am gone." 

He stretched out his hand, and poor Sir John, too stupified by 
the suddenness of all that had happened to do more than obey, 
took and held it silently within his own : then, with a heavy 
heart (Mr Wickham oj)ening the door for him as he passed) the 
old man stole out into the garden, and after parrying the questions 
of Lady Durant and Lucia as to the cause of Gerald's absence, 
made some excuse for asking the rector's daughter to walk with 
him towards the house. Five minutes later, with sinking limbs, 
wath her breath coming awfully, guiltily fast, Archie Lovell entered 
the library, where Gerald, a cup of coffee in his hand, stood wait- 
ing for her in the embrasure of the farthest window ; INIr Wickham 
upright and motionless, but keeping stealthy watch over every 
movement his prisoner made, at his post still beside the door. 

The poor little girl began to cross the room with faltering un- 
certain steps, and Gerald, seeing her hesitation, came forward 
kindly, took her hand in his, and led her to the window, w^here 
he had been standing. All coldness, all small animosity towards 
Archie had died in his heart during the moment when he first 
realized the new position in wliich they stood to each other, the 
danger into which through his agency she was about to be brought. 
!Miss Lovell, the coquette, whose blue eyes, whose clasped hands, 
had cost liis vanity so dear, was gone : and in her place stood 
Archie Wilson — the child who had chattered to him in the moon- 
light, the bright-haired little queen of the Morteville ball, the girl 
whose fair fame, unless he stood staimch to her now, might, 
through his fault and for ever, be forfeited. For the first time in 
his life he felt as simply, frankly generous towards a woman as he 
would have felt had she been a man. !N"either a prey to be run 
down nor a toy to be forgotten (Gerald's broad classification 
generally), did Archie seem to him noAV ; but a friend, a comrade 


■ — the ton gargon participator in a madcap freak, of wMcli lie, as 
tiie guiltier of the two, must bear the punishment. 

" Archie, how kind of you ! but I thought you would come. 
You were always kind to me — kinder far than I deserved ! " 

He spoke to her just in the tone of their happy ]\Iorteville 
intimacy ; as though their last cold meeting, as though his engage- 
ment to Lucia, had never been ; and every pulse of Archie's heart 
vibrated at his voice. ''I don't know what great kindness there 
is in walking a hundred yards, Mr Durant. Your uncle told me 
you were called away on business and wanted to speak to mo 
about Lucia, and I came." 

'' Well, it is not of Lucia that I want to speak, but of myself, 
^ould you have come to me as quickly, I wonder, if you had 
known tbat?" 

" Of course I would. I am more interested a hundred times in 
you than I am, or ever shall be, in Lucia. You ought to know 
that, I think. What — what is this that you are going to say to 
me, Mr Durant?" ' - 

Dim though the light was, Gerald could note the ebbing colour 
on Archie Lovell's face ; could note the quick-drawn breath, the 
quiver of that sensitive fine-cut mouth j and, as if by inspiration, 
there flashed a suspicion singularly near the truth across his mind. 
'' You have no idea abeady of what I am going to say, Archie 1 
The time has come, you know, when you and I must keep no 
more secrets from each other." 

" I — ^how should I ? I don't understand you ! " But the 
words came indistinct and broken from her lips. "How is it 
possible that I can tell what you are going to say to me 1 " 

''Archie," said Gerald, earnestly, ''take my advice, and speak 
to me more openly. We shall not have ten minutes' conversation 
together at most, and on these ten minutes a great deal of my life 
and of yours may hang, I fancy. Look upon me as a friend — a 
brother, if you like the wokI better — and be frank ! In short, be 
Archie Wilson again — Archie Wilson in the days before she had 
learnt to be wise ! " 

She stood for a minute or more speechless, motionless, and the 
little hand that Gerald till now had forg(^ten to rehnquish seemed 
to turn to ice within his own : at last, with a sort of sob — a sob 


that made Mr Wickham in his distant corner look up one instant 
from his note-hook, the truth came out. " I know everything, Mr 
Durant," she whispered. "I was too great a coward to speak 
when I might have warned you, hut I know everything ! Captain 
Waters told me, and I have promised to pay him to he silent. I 
am an impostor, everything that is vilest, hut it was for papa's 
sake and . . . Ah, Mr Durant, I think the shame would kill me if 
I had to come forward, as Captain "Waters said, and tell hefore a 
judge and a court full of men how I went ^vith you to London ! " 
And then, in broken whispers — the sweet face wet with tears not 
six inches from Gerald's — she made fullest confession of all that 
Waters had told her, and of her own vileness, so she called it, in 
determioing to keep her own counsel at whatever cost. 

Gerald's lips had grown set and stem long before she finished. 
''The scoundrel! " he muttered between his teeth; "the double- 
dyed infernal scoundrel ! Archie, my poor little friend, how glad 
I am that you have had courage to tell me all this. You shall 
never be troubled with Captain Waters any more. He frightened 
you for nothing, Archie, believe me. I am in a difficult position, 
the victim rather of a most ridiculous mistake, but there is no 
more chance of your name being brought forward in any way than 
of Lucia's. Keep perfectly quiet — it was this I sent for you to 
say ; keep quiet whatever you are told or may fear, and no harm 
can possibly come near you, I swear it." 

" And if — if my evidence is all that can prove you to be inno- 
*cent 1 " she faltered, looking at him with dilated, frightened eyes, 
as Captain Waters' words came back to her recollection. 

"Your evidence !" Gerald laughed, lightly. " Why, one would 
think you were a Lord Chancellor at least, to hear all the fine 
le^al words you use ! It wUl not be a question of giving evidence 
at all. I have to go up to London to-night mth the gentleman 
you see standing there, and to-morrow or next day the whole mis- 
take will be cleared up." 

" And if it is nof? if nothing can clear you unless I do come 
forward and speak ? I am not a child, Mr Durant ; I have grown 
old and wise during the last few weeks," she added, with uncon- 
scious sadness, "and if they accuse you of having been present 
when this woman died, of coui'se I could help you by telling how 


we gave her tlie cloak, for I am beginning to connect all these 
things clearly now, and how Captain Waters saw us together at 
Calais on board the steamer, and — " 

''Archie," interrupted Gerald, gravely, ''if the mistake is harder 
to prove than I think now, if I am brought into a position of ab- 
solute danger — the most improbable occurrence in the world — and 
want you to speak, I will send word to you to come. Seton will be 
with me in town most likely, and I will send him down to you — 
nay, don't misunderstand me," for at the mention of Ealph she 
had turned from him with a start, " neither Seton nor any other 
human being shall ever know what at present is a secret between 
ourselves. If I want you, Seton will bring you this simple mes- 
sage, ' Come.' If I do not, you will have no message from me at 
all. Now, I think we understand each other." 

"And Captain Waters? " she asked. "I must keep my word, 
and send him the money." 

"You must do notliing of the kind," interrupted Gerald, 
promptly. " You must hold no written communication whatsoever 
with Captain Waters. I will arrange mth the gentleman— pay 
him the price he asks, and undertake that you, at least, shall never 
be troubled with him again. You have not forgotten his address, 
I hope?" 

No, she had not forgotten it : forgotten ? had one word he told 
her been ever really absent from her thoughts since yesterday? 
" Captain Waters, 50, Cranbourne Street, Leicester Square." Gerald 
took out a card and wrote this address down, leaning forward 
through the open window to catch whatever light still lingered as 
he did so, and Mr Wickham, looking round quickly, remarked — 
in a voice which seemed, although he stood twenty feet at least 
away, to whisper awfally, mysteriously close to Archie's ear — that 
he believed the time was getting on. 

"I am ready for you," said Gerald, cheerily; then in a lower 
tone, "Good-bye, Archie," turning so that he sheltered Hhe girl's 
shrinking figure from Wickham's sight. " Let me have your hand 
— so ! " and he carried it to his lips, for the second, the last time 
in his life. "If things had gone differently, I -think you might 
have gTown to like me in time, and I — well, I could have loved 
you better than I have ever loved or shall love any woman while 


I live. The injury I did you was unintentional, you believe that, 
Archie ? and the temptation great ! Don't you recollect how blue 
the sea was that day, and how one accident after another seemed 
fated to fall upon us, and how pleasant it was to be together ? You 
forgive me ? " 

She could only clasp his hand closely for answer. 

"Very well, then. "We shall be fast friends still, whatever 
happens. Eecollect all I have told you about keeping quiet and 
not troubling yourself on my account, and— let me see, is there 
anything more for us to say ? Well, I've got your glove, and, 
don't be angry, but I shall kiss it sometimes still, Archie, and 
think of the night I stole it from you. Do you remember our 
quarrel, and how bright the moon shone in as we danced that last 
waltz, and made friends again? You mustn't quite forget the 
Morteville days, you know ; and however things turn out, Archie, 
you must try to tliink of me kindly ! And now," with one long 
last look into her face, '' God bless yon, dear ! " 

This was how Mr Durant sent his farewells to Lucia. 


In painful, visible constraint, not trusting herself to speak of 
Gerald or of the interview that she had had with him, Archie 
Lovell walked home that night by Ralph's side. Early next 
morning Major Seton, "without calling at the Rectory, left home 
for London ; and by evening of the same day Bettina had already 
obtained information, from the most authentic village sources, as 
to the cause of Mr Durant's departure ; the profession of the mys- 
terious man in plain clothes who had been seen to accompany him 
into a first-class railway carriage at the Hatton station. 

These rumours, whispered at first, and contradicted as soon as 
wliispered, were spoken next day above the breath, and allowed 
to pass. On the following morning a short paragraph in the 

■ 369 

London i^apers told the Staffordshire world how Mr Durant had 
already appeared before the magistrate on the charge of being ac- 
cessory to the death of Margaret Hall ; and then every one rushed 
away to leave cards and inquiries for poor dear Lady Durant ; and 
remembered, how they always thought Gerald had a vile trick of 
contracting his eyebrows, and a most sinister expression at times 
about the corners of his mouth ! 

And up to the evening of the fourth day from that of his arrest, 
Archie Lovell heard no more than the vague contradictory reports 
of the village gossips as to how the case was going on. She called 
with her stepmother at the Court, ostensibly to inquire for Sir 
John, who had been seized with an attack of gout on the morning 
he was to have accompanied Seton to London, and had not left 
liis room since. She listened while Bettina talked by the hour 
together of Gerald; the likelihood, considering his character, of 
his guilt ; the disgrace to the Durants that must ensae ; and the 
number of fine old families that she, Bettina, had seen Providence 
— wisely, perhaps — consign to ruin during her life. She helped 
her father to arrange liis cabinets and hang his pictures ; went on 
working at her garden ; ate her meals ; rose in the morning, and 
went to bed as usual. Did she suffer ? She hardly knew herself. 
The time went awfully, deathfully slow ; her heart beat thick and 
fast at every chance sound, every strange voice she heard ; a dull, 
heavy weight was never absent from her brain. This was as 
much as Archie could have told of her own condition. Poor Mr 
Lovell, observing her heavy eyes and pallid cheeks, hoped,' measles 
being about in the village, that the child was not going to take 
that disorder a second time : and Bettina — well, Bettina, knowing 
all she did concerning the past, was not without a suspicion that 
Archie "fretted" about Gerald still, and in her own innermost 
soul felt not unreasonably grieved over the young man's misfor- 
tunes. It was a terrible blow for the Durants, of course, but very 
lucky it all came out before the marriage instead of after ; and 
really if he had had anything to do with the young woman's 
death, it would be impious to wish him to escape altogether from 
justice. The Durants of Durant would be just as much their 
neighbours without him as with him ; and Archie's secret of a 
vast deal less consequence. ISTot, poor young man, that she 

2 B 


wished the very worst to come to him : but an eye for an eye and 
a tootli for a tooth were the words of Scripture ; and Bettina had 
never seen any particuhir good come of your Colensos and other 
softeners-away of Holy Writ, as yet. 

On the evening of August the 20th, four days after that of 
Gerald's arrest, Major Seton suddenly made his Appearance at the 
Eectory. The Lovells were just at tea in their pleasant myrtle- 
scented little parlour, the amher sunset streaming in cheerfully 
through the open casement, when he was ushered in : jNfr Lovell 
with a manuscript book beside him on the table ; Bettma chatter- 
ing in high spirits as she poinded out the tea ; Archie in a pale 
muslin dress, her hair shining, a flower in her waist-belt, a goodly 
pile of seed-cake and fruit upon her plate. Ealph Seton's heart 
swelled with a feeling that was almost disgust as he looked at 
her. Her tear-stained cheeks, her silence, her constraint upon the 
night of Gerald's arrest, had made him feel — all too keenly then ! 
— that a matter of no common interest had been discussed between 
them during their parting interview. The fact of her never re- 
minding him again of the money she had wished to borrow, 
showed, he thought, some serious preoccuj^ation of mind, some re- 
morse, some sympathy at least, with Gerald in his danger ; and 
during his journey down Ealph had pictured to himself continu- 
ally the sorrowful face, the eyes haunted by self-reproach, that 
would greet him when he reached the Rectory. He saw, instead, 
a peaceful family group ; a girl, even in such a pass as this, too 
frivolous (and frivolity in a woman was, to Ralph, the one unpar- 
donable sin) to forget so much as the flower at her own dainty 
waist! her blue eyes as untroubled, her facile smile as sweet, as 
on that day when — Gerald out of sight and out of mind — she 
Avaved her adieux to himself at the Morteville pier : the day when 
he had the excessive wisdom first to resolve upon putting her 
away out of his heart ! 

Very grim and stern, the old Moustache took a chair on the 
side of the table next to Mr Lovell, and away from Archie, and 
curtly declining Bettina's offer of tea, brought the conversation 
round, without an attempt at softening or preamble, to Gerald 
Durant. " You have all of you heard the truth by this time," 
he said, addressing himself ostensibly to Mrs Lovell, " and notliing 

" FAIS CE QUE DOIS ! " 371 

can be gained by treating the thing as a secret any longer. Gerald 
Durant conies up for his final examination to-morrow. They have 
brought the poor fellow twice before the magistrate already, and 
each time he has been remanded. To-morrow will settle it." 

*'And you think he vnll be found guilty 1" cried Bettina, 
opening her eyes wide. *'Dear, dear, now, Major Seton, do you 
think he will be really condemned 1 " 

^' Condemned to as much as a magistrate can condemn, most 
certainly," was Ealph's answer. "Condemned to an imprison- 
ment which, however it may hereafter end, -svill effectually blacken 
his hopes, his prospects, his whole future life. By this time to- 
morrow Gerald Durant will, in all human probability, be com- 
mitted to take his trial for the wilful murder of Margaret Hall. 
He has the best lawyers in London to help him, and as far as the 
preliminary examination goes, they all confess that the evidence 
against him is simply overwhelming. It is circumstantial, all of 
it," he went on, turning to Mr Lovell, ^' but none the less crushing 
for that. Nothing but the unexpected proving of an alibi at the 
eleventh hour can save Gerald Durant now." 

"And how does he take if?" asked INIr Lovell, whose calm 
interest in other persons' concerns always savoured rather of 
aesthetic than of common-place human curiosity. " The situation 
of an innocent man awaiting an unjust doom is one of the deepest 
dramatic interest, yet I suspect most writers^ in treating it take 
their stand on a somewhat too transcendental ground. N'ow this 
Mr — Durant, to be sare, the same name as the people at the Court 
— is, I dare say, not at all in the inflamed heroic state of mind 
that the majority of dramatists and poets would, under such cir- 
cumstances, paint?" 

" He is," answered Ealph, purposely speaking slow and distinct 
so as to give his words a chance of sinking even on the " frivolous " 
heart of Archie Lovell, "more frankly, unaffectedly cheerful than 
I ever thought to see any man in such a position. Not indifferent 
to what to-morrow may bring — poor lad ! for he thinks of those 
who Avill suffer by his disgrace — but as calmly ready to meet it 
as the men of his race have always been to meet danger. Until I 
looked at Gerald Durant's face in prison I don't think I ever 
rightly understood the meaning of the word * loyalty.' " 

'2 B 2 


Bettina sighed heavily as she raised her tea-cup to her lips. 
" Let us hope all things," she murmured, " even while we fear the 
worst. Let us hope that, as in the case of Jerohoam, hardened 
impenitence is not being added to the weight of the yomig man's 

" I think not, Mrs Lovell," said Ealph, with cold emphasis ; 
" Gerald Durant is, I hioiv, as innocent of the monstrous charge 
brought against him as I am. He had not seen Margaret Hall for 
months ; he had no interest in her death ; he was not on London 
Eridge at the moment when her death took place. A chain of un- 
happy accidents has, I believe, so woven itself around him, that 
he is not able to bring forward evidence in his own favour without 
betraying the confidence of another person ; and this poor Gerald 
would no more do than one of his Jacobite ancestors would have 
saved liimself by wishing life to King George upon the scaffold." 

''Well, then, he is a fine fellow," exclaimed INIr Lovell, with 
animation; "and I should like to shake his hand. It is not 
often now that one comes across a trait of the Bayard-like, 
chivalrous feeling of old days. What manner of man can he be, 
though, who will accept his safety at such a price 1 Archie, are 
you listening 1 ,This friend of Seton's is ready, like one of the 
knights of old, to brave his own disgrace, sooner than betray a 
trust reposed in him . . . nay, but the story is too much for you, 
little one ! Look at her face, Ealph — she is always so— any story 
of high resolve, or courage, is always too much for Archie's heart." 

She was of an a-wi^ul, greyish pallor, a pallor that extended to 
her lips and throat, and her eyes were fixed with a yearning, eager 
expression, on her father's face. " It is not too much for me at 
all, papa," bringing out each syllable with a painful, visible effort. 
" I know I am pale— I can't help it— I turn so always when I 
hear of things that move me. Papa, you would like to shake 
Gerald Durant's hand, you say 1 Would you like to shake the 
hand of the person he is seeking to screen ? I mean if — if that 
person voluntarily accepts his safety." 

":N'o, Archie," said INIr Lovell, half-smiling at her eagerness. 
" I would no more care to shake his hand or to hold fellowship 
with him than you would. Cowardice is the one thing (strange 
that it should be so, Seton ! 'tis the most natui-al of our vices) 

^' FAIS CE QUE DOiS ! '^ 373 

that puts a man — or woman, either, for the matter of that — for 
ever out of the reach of my sympathy." 

Then, after an aside from Bettina as to '' cowardice being one 
thing, my poor Frederick, and common worldly prudence another," 
Major Seton suffered the conversation to go into a fresh channel : and 
in a few minutes Arc^hie rose and stole out alone, her father stopping 
her to kiss her cheek and her hand as she passed, to the garden. 

Cool, sweet, silent almost to mournfulness, was the August 
evening at that half-hour after sunset : the sky of opal paleness, 
save where one mighty rose-flush stained the west; a solitary 
planet shining faint above the pure horizon ; the light on russet 
woods and yellow cornfields slowly dying, through a thousand 
gradations of fleeting coloiu^, into the exquisite sombre purple of 
the night. With a feeling almost of loathing at the sight of all 
that smiling golden calm, Archie walked away to the part of the 
garden farthest from the house ; and there seating herself wearily 
upon the low stone wall that formed the boundary of the little 
orchard, strove to steady the beatings of her feverish heart; to 
collect her thoughts ; to reason ; to resolve. 

Earnestly, with her very might, she strove; and, instead of 
obeying her, her heart throbbed on more hotly, her thoughts re- 
fused to concentrate themselves, her senses took note, with intense, 
with sickening acuteness, of every outward object by which she 
was surrounded : the sweet smell of a neighbouring bed of kitchen- 
herbs ; the ridiculous timiult the grasshoppers were making in the 
orchard ; the redness of the apples on one particular bough that 
overhung the wall. AYhen she had remained thus five minutes, 
or an hour, she knew not which— there are conditions of the body 
under which all these arbitrary divisions of time exist for us no 
more than time itself exists for a man who dreams — a measured 
step she knew came along the gravel path. She started up nerv- 
ously, and turning roimd, found Ealph Seton standing close beside 
her. Oldened and worn her face seemed to him now that he saw 
it in the broad evening light ; the fair yoimg forehead lined and 
heavy ; the cheeks sunken ; a deep shade round the eyes, giving 
their blue an almost unnatural lustre. *' Major Seton," she ex- 
claimed, abruptly, " explain the meaning of the word alibi to me. 
I have been told once, but I forget." 


"An alibi consists in proving the presence of an accused man 
in some other place than that where his supposed crime "svas com- 
mitted, Archie. An alibi, as I told your father, is all we can look 
to now for saving Gerald Durant to-morrow." 

" Have you seen him to-day 1 " 

" I have. I saw him not an hour before I left London this 

" And he told you that there was some person whose evidence 
could yet save him 1 He told you there was some person whose 
secret he was determined never to betray ? " 

"Is'o, Archie, he did not. I believe, nay, I know, that this is 
the case ; and I urged upon him — I speak to you frankly — I urged 
upon him that it was his duty to neglect no means of pro^-ing his 
own innocence — " 

" Go on," she exclaimed, breathlessly. " Why'do you hesitate? 
He answered — " 

" By laughing at the very idea of the generosity I imputed to 
him," replied Halph, "Said that I might be quite sure he would 
take better care of himself than of anybody else ; that — while he 
trusted implicitly in his innocence making itself felt in the end — 
an alibi was the one thing it was not in his power to prove. At 
the very time when it was necessary to account for liimself he was 
driving about London in a hansom, the number of which he had 
not even looked at, and — " 

"And at what hour does his trial take place?" interrupted 
Ai'chie, shortly, and in a hard, unmodulated voice. " The trial 
to-morrow, I mean 1 " 

"The examination — it is not a trial yet — is to begin at ten 
o'clock," answered Major Seton. " It will last over a good many 
hours, possibly will not be finished in one day. Sir John Durant 
is coming up, if he is well enough, by the first express, and ^vill 
be in time, poor old man ! to hear all that concerns him most — 
the evidence, such as it is, that will be brought forward in Gerald's 

" And yoU' — when do you return 1 " 

"By the mail-train to-night. I came down for a few hours 
only, principally, Archie, to see you." 

"Did Mr Durant send me any message?" 


'' He bade me tell you that every tiling was right ; and he hoped 
you would go over often and see his cousin Lucia." 

" And what does a return-ticket cost from Hatton to London 1 " 

" A return-ticket costs exactly two sovereigns, Archie. Do you 
want to go to London 1 " 

"I wish you would lend me two sovereigns, Major Seton. I 
asked you for money before, and did not want it after all — 
most likely I shan't want this— still I wish that you would lend 
it to me." 

He took out his purse and, without speaking a word, put two 
sovereigns into Archie's hand : burning with fever he felt her hand 
was as it came into contact with his own. 

"You have nothing else to say to me, Archie, before I go? for 
my time is up ; I must say good-bye to you directly. There is no 
other way in which I can be of use to you ? " 

'' I — I don't know that there is," she faltered. " Tell Mr Dui'ant 
you saw me and gave me his message, and — oh EaljDh ! " ^Yith. a 
sudden impulse, and moving a step nearer to his side, "how I 
wish that I dared ask you one question before you go ! " 

"Ask it, Archie," said Ealph. "I will give you a very truth- 
ful answer if I can." 

" Well, if — mind, this is all that I mean to tell you — if any one, 
a girl of my age, was placed . . . placed, how shall I say it 1 — so 
that to save another person she must run the risk of forfeiting her 
own good name, the good name of all the people she cared for 
most, what ought she to do ? If I asked Bettina she would talk 
about pride and self-respect and family honour ! and papa I cannot 
— I will not ask. jS^ow what do you say ] " 

" Fais ce que clois,'^ answered Major Seton, instantly. " Truth, 
uncompromising, unwavering, is the only rule of life that I have 
evjer known to answer either for man or for woman. If pride and 
self-respect and family honour had to be maintained by sacrificing 
it, they would not, I should imagine, be worth holding — any of 

"And the good opinion of the people who love one," faltered 
the girl, with pitiful earnestness, '• Ealph — dear Ealph ! — is that 
to be sacrificed as nothing too ? " 

" Most unc|uestionably," said Ealph, without a softening in- 


flection in liis staid Scotcli voice. " Love that had to be bought 
by falsehood would be a dear bargain in the end, depend upon it, 

" Ah ! I am glad I had the courage to ask you this ; there is 
only one more thing I have to trouble you about now. If, Ealph, 
at any time it should happen that you grow to despise or hate me 
— don't let it make any difference between you and papa. Every- 
thing bad that I have done has been by my own free will — no 
one ought to suffer for it but me — and pajDa — poor papa would 
want your friendship all the more if anything happened to turn 
him a little from me. Will you promise me this ? " 

''I don't think it requires a promise, Archie," he answered. 
" I endeavour when I can to be just. My regard for your father 
would be strengthened rather than lessened by any ill-doing of 

*' Thank you, Ealph" — ^her heart dying within her at his cold- 
ness — " you have been very good to me, and I . . . . have been 
false to you from the first hour I saw you in Morteville till now ! 
It's all past, and I don't know, if I had to go tlu'ough it again, 
that I should act differently— however, it's no use talking about 
that now. You'll remember your word, I think ] you'll be good 
to papa whatever happens — " 

And then her voice broke into a sob : she turned ; v.'alked ab- 
ruptly away from his side, and Ealph Seton saw her face no more. 

Despise ! hate ! IS'ever had he so passionately lovefl her as in 
tliis moment of her humiliation, this crowning hour of sorrow in 
her child's life ! The truth was told : the " frivolous " lieart of 
Archie Lovell laid bare before him at last. 



luE evening that had closed in with such fair promise for the 
morrow was already changing by the time that the moon rose, pale 


and watery, above the distant woods. As night wore on, the wind 
swept up in fitful gusts from the south-west, bearing before it thick 
wreaths of serried lead- white cloud, and when the morning dawned 
it was in rain : fine driving rain, that fell with a persistent wintry 
sound against the exposed windows of Hatton Rectory, and laid 
low whatever summer flowers still lingered in the borders of its 
little upland garden. 

And throughout all the dreary hours, from that chill moonrise to 
tlie chiller morning, Archie Lovell never slept. Men and women 
meet their troubles more sharply face to face upon their pillows 
than at any other time : a child sobs his to rest there in five 
minutes : and Archie till to-night had been a child, even in her 
fashion of suffering. This was past. The first real conflict of 
reason and passion which her life had known was stirring in her 
now : and sleep, the blessed immunity of una wakened conscience, 
was over. For a short space after her head was laid upon its pil- 
low, the giii was her old seK — the old childish mixture of frivolity 
and earnestness — still : speculating, through her tears, as to what 
Ealph had thought of her after her half-confession; wondering (if she 
went) what frock and ribbons she would look well in to-morrow ; 
and if the magistrate would speak to her " out aloud " before all 
the lawyers and people in the court ; and if her name, Archie 
Lovell, would really be put in print in the papers next day, and 
if, supposing she stayed away, some other witness would not be 
sure to come forward and save poor Mv Durant at the last ! Then, 
when her faculties were more than half-way along the accustomed 
quick sweet road to sleep, every detail of her position and of her 
duty seemed suddenly to start out before her in a new light — a 
harsh, pitiless, concentrated light ; such as she had never seen any 
position or any duty in before. It was not a question, a voice be- 
side her pillow seemed to say, of whether her father might or might 
not sufi'er by her exposure ; not a question of whether Gerald Durant 
had or had not deserved her gratitude, of whether she might or 
might not forfeit Ralph Seton's love. It was a question of abstract 
right or wrong ; truth or falsehood ; life or death as regarded 
her own soul, which her resolutions of to-night must solve. If she 
decided unrighteously : shielded her father, won Ralph's love, won 
the whole world, and perjured that, how much would she have 


gained 1 This was what she had to answer. And starting back to 
fullest consciousness, with a trembling sense of some other presence 
than hers in the little room, the poor child sat up in her bed, and 
there — the cold dew standing on her face and hand^,, strove through 
the dark hours of the night to Nvrestle with the unseen awful mon- 
itor who had arisen to question her. 

It is' only, perhaps, by a strong effort of imagination that we 
who have fought many such battles, gained the victory sometimes, 
and more often succumbed, can picture to ourselves the first pas- 
sionate conflict of so very white a soul as this. "With all the sud- 
denly awakened woman's conscience, Archie had still a child's 
narrow vision, a child's distorted fear of the punishment that 
would fall upon herself as the price of her truth-telling ; and the 
greater part of her thoughts would be to the full as ludicrous as 
pathetic, if faithfully recorded. Of the truths originally laid down 
by Bettina, she never for an instant doubted. A girl who had 
passed a day and a night away from home, as she had done, must, 
if her story became known, be disgraced. No honest w^oman 
would associate wdth her ; no honest man would ever make her 
his wife. Up to a certain hour to-moiTow she would be Archie 
Lovell, a girl with all bright j)ossibilities of life open before her 
still : after that — a blank. Kever another ball, or croquet party, 
or happy walk with Ealph ! No more pleasure in her good looks, or 
her dress : no more of the vague golden dreams which of late had 
made her like to be alone, looking up at the clouds, or across the 
woods to Ludbrooke, in the twilight ! She would live on, year 
after year, in this dull Eectory-house ; and her father would love 
her always — with a saddened, pitying love ; and Bettina be justi- 
fied in requiring her to be religious ; and the servants whisper to- 
gether, and look at her as something apart from the rest of the 
household ; bitterest of all. Lady Durant and Lucia would know 
her, in a distant way, still, her father being the clergyman of their 
parish ; Sir John, perhaps, his wife and daughter not by, stop and 
speak a kind word occasionally, when he met her in his walks. 
This would be her life. And in time, she would see Gerald happy, 
■with his fair young wife ; and Ealph would marry too . . . were 
her friends to abstain from happiness l)ecause hers happened to be 
spoiled ! and she would just continue to stagnate on, alone, un- 


loved, till she was old and graceless, and bitter, like Mrs Maloney ! 
This was to be her portion and re.ward for doing the thing that 
was right : and still towards the right (not towards Mr Gerald 
Durant, personally; inasmuch as he was young, and handsome, 
and fond of her : the foundation, hitherto, of whatever heroic re- 
solves Archie had formed), she felt herself irresistibly drawn. To- 
wards right, simply as right. Nothing to do with inlierited tra- 
ditions, as in G-erald's case : or -with fears of heaven on one hand, 
and hopes of the world on the other, as in Bettina's. Eight simply 
as right : a stern inflexible reality, to which, whether her cowardly 
will shrank from its fulfilment or no, she was forced, by some 
sympathy, some instinct stronger than herself, to cling. 

She tossed feverishly on her pillow till dawn, then got up, went 
across to the casement-window, drew" back the curtain, and looked 
out. Standing there in her long white dress, her feet bare, her 
hands clasped across her breast, poor Archie, who a week ago could 
have represented nothing higher in art than Greuze or Watteau, 
might at this moment have been taken as a living picture of one of 
Raphael's Marys : a giii still in the undeveloped form and childish 
attitude, a woman in the unutterable sadness, the wistful prophecy 
of suffering upon her quivering lips, and tear-stained, dead-white 
cheeks. It was barely daybreak yet. She could just discern the 
line of distant woods, wan and spectre-like, through the driving 
mists ; could just see the geraniums and mignonette — the flowers 
that in her southern ignorance she had thought would last till 
Christmas — Ipng, sodden and defaced, beneath her window. What 
a miserable, altered world it looked ! What an admirably fit- 
ted world for right and duty, and the life that she was going to 
lead in it ! She stood, chill and shivering, yet with a sort of sul- 
len satisfaction, watching the rain as it beat against the window ; 
and while she watched it her heart — poor, unheroic child's heart ! 
— went back to irresolution again. How would it be possible 
for her to walk to the station in weather like this^ They 
had no, and there was no way of hiring one, and her 
father and Bettina would never let her start alone on foot. She 
had meant, had meant faithfully, to go. Had she not borrowed 
money from Ealph for her journey last night 1 Could she help it 
if accidents beyond her own cojitrol held her back 1 If it had 



been fine, and her father had given her leave, she would have 
gone ; and now, if this storm lasted and her father forbade her to 
leave home, slie must stay. It would no longer be a question of 
choice, it woiUd be a decision made by fate, not herself, as to 
which i^ath she took, and by that decision she must abide. 

AVhen dawn had become broad day she crept back to her bed, 
and in two or three minutes, the rain still driving against the 
window, was asleep. At seven o'clock Bettina knocked as usual 
at her door, calling out to her cheerfully that it was a beautiful 
morning after the rain, and, waking with a start from a hea^y, 
di'eamless sleep, Archie saw — with guilty disappointment even in 
that first instant of consciousness — a room full of light and sun- 
shine. The storm was over. So far the path towards this miser- 
able, self-imposed, inexorable duty of hers lay clear. 

She got up ; rhessed herself in a clean white frock ; then laid 
out ready on her drawers her muslin scarf, sailor's hat, and blue 
veil, and, for the first time since the day after her return from 
London, went do'wn to breakfast with her hair hanging loose ujDon 
her shoulders. 

"As I like to see you once more," said Mr Lovell, as he put 
his arms round her. " If you knew what was becoming, Archie, 
you woidd never torture your hair into fashionable braids and 
tAvists again. But how ill you look, my child ! " anxiously scru- 
tinizing the hard lines about her mouth, the worn, dark hollows 
under her eyes. "Bettina, don't you think her looking really ill? 
"Wouldn't it be as wise for her to keep to her bed for a day, just 
to see whether it can be measles coming on again or not ] " 

If Bettina had thought enough about the question to say "Yes," 
Archie would probably have succumbed to her decision as final : 
the interposition of some will stronger than her own, and against 
which it woidd be idle for her to struggle. But all Mrs Lo veil's 
energies happened to be directed at this particular moment to 
parish matters of the most vital and urgent interest. In the vestry 
of the church was to be held to-day the great annual meeting of 
the Hatton soup and flannel club, in which, the deceased rector 
being an old bachelor, the Avifc of the village doctor had for years 
held absolute and tyrannical sway. A secret cabal had long ex- 
isted, it appeared, for the detlu'onement of this potentate ; and in 


Bettina — versed already in every detail of the village civil vrars ; 
convinced, too, that to be the head of soup and flannel was hers 
by anointed right — the cabal had at length found a leader. A 
large, an overwhelming, majority of voters were, she believed, safe 
on the side of herself and the new coalition. Still, at the very 
last, a designing, ambitious woman like the doctor's wife might be 
capable of anything — bribing the voters to stay away ; incapaci- 
tating them pro tern, out of her husband's bottles ; anything. And 
in fierce haste, her bonnet akeady on her head, Bettina, eager to 
be off to the field, was swallowing scalding tea, standing, and 
learning by heart an extempore speech with which she meant to 
adcbess the meeting, when her husband spoke. 

'' Measles 1 ISTonsense, Frederick ! Not one person in a hundred 
has measles a second time. Let Archie be in the air all day, the 
heat makes her pale. ' It being the opinion of this meeting, and 
of the parish generally, that too much power has hitherto been 
usurped by certain parties . . .' That will be the yerj thing. 
Cutting, but not too personal. You are sure, Frederick, you will 
not look in upon us in the course of the meeting 1 "Well, then, I 
must express your opinions for you. You shall not be a cipher 
in your own parish, as long as I can prevent it. Don't wait din- 
ner for me — I may be away all day." And then, still learning her 
speech aloud as she walked, Mrs Lovell vanished ; and another 
obstacle in the path of Archie's going to London was removed. 

It was now nearly nine o'clock ; the express train by which Sir 
John Diu?ant was to go left Hatton station at ten. She went up 
to her room, put on her sailor's hat and white scarf, took the 
French grey parasol from Bettina's room, and came down again 
to her father. She had not the smallest idea of what she would 
have to do or say when she found herself in that London police 
court, but she thought vaguely that she had better appear there 
dressed exactly as she had been on the day of her flight from 
Morte^olle. It might help to prove that her story was true ; the 
woman who lent her the cloak would be present, perhaps, to con- 
front her ; and she had no wish to hide one iota of the truth now. 
The magistrate, the lawyers, aU the world should see her as she 
was on that day, the last day of her innocence — in her white frock, 
and sailor's hat, and with her hair hanging on her shoulders. 


Perhaps (the hope half crossed her) they -svoukl not judge her so 
very hard when they saw how pretty and how cliildish she had 
looked at that fatal time of her wrong-doing ! 

jNIr Lovell was in the room that was to be his stud}'', standing 
before ''Troy," a little disquieted in his heart as to that chef 
dceuvre not being in the best possible light, when Archie returned 
to him. She thought of the night in Morteville when she had 
stood at his side in the little painting-room, and mourned with 
him for the old Lohemian life that was over for ever. Over — 
everything was over now ! She crept up softly, and touched his 

'' Papa, I have a favour to ask of you, please. Some of the 
Durants are going up to London and back to-day — Major Seton 
told me so last night — and I want you to let me go too. They 
will be quite ready to take care of me, I know." 

Mr Lovell turned round and looked at her with open eyes. 

"To London and back? Why, Archie, this will never do! 
No, no, no, child ; don't take such fancies. The Durants are 
going up, of course, about this difficulty the young man — Gerald, 
is he called 1 — has got into, and won't want you. I couldn't hear of 
it. I shall be ha^^ng you laid up in earnest. Ask me anything else." 

*'I want nothing else, papa. It shall be as you choose — only, 
I thought I would just ask you, you know." And she took off 
her liat, and seated herself down resignedly by the open window. 
Could she help it if her father insisted on withholding his con- 
sent? Had she not done as much as lay within her power to do 
by asking him ? 

"The weather, certainly, is not so hot after the rain as it was," 
said Mr Lovell, coming up to hen side, and pretending to look out 
at the clouds. He had never been able to deny Arcliie anything 
since that morning fourteen years ago when he had refused to get 
up at five o'clock, and carry her round the Dresden market. " The 
weather is not as hot, and if I was quite sui'e we should have no 
more storms — only, unfortunately, my love, I have not a farthing 
of change in the house. I don't know how it happened, but 
Bettina took off my last shilling with her to tliis dreadful meeting." 

" I have the money, papa, I have two sovereigns of my own, 
l)ut I don't want to go unless you choose." 


" And are you quite sure the Durants are going and want you 1 
— not that I wonder at that — Miss Durant must be too glad, poor 
thing, to have you for her companion now. Well .then, Archie, 
I don't know really that I ought to forbid it. It is like you, my 
little one, to wish to be with your friends at a season of trouble 
like this!" 

And in a quarter of an hour's time Archie was walking across 
the meadow path that led the shortest way from the Eectory to 
the station. She was not going to be saved by accidental help, 
she felt now. Of her own free will she had taken the first step in 
the direction of right, but every obstacle that might have hindered 
its fulfilment had been removed by alien means, not by any 
endeavours of her own. Unless Sir John Durant were at the last 
too ill to travel, nothing could save her now from the accomplish- 
ment of her work. Unless ! How tumultuously her heart throb- 
bed at the thought ! It would be impossible, utterly, for her to go 
alone — she, who knew nothing of London, not even the name of 
the court at which Gerald was to be tried. If Sir John Durant 
did not go, her whole self-constructed scheme of duty must, of 
necessity, fall to the ground. It would be a question of will no 
longer. She would have tried her best to carry out the moral 
suicide which she conceived to be right, and have failed in it 
perforce, not through any fault or weakness of her o^vn. 

The Durants' carriage stood at the door of Hatton station, and 
the first persons Archie saw as she entered the office were Sir 
John and Lucia standing together outside upon the platform. 
She bought a first-class return ticket for London — with a con- 
sciousness that the clerk stared strangely at her as he put it in her 
liand — went out and joined them. 

" Going up to London and back alone 1 " cried Miss Durant, 
aghast, when Archie had declared her intentions. " AYhy, I should 
be frightened to death ! I should think every one I met was a 
madman in disguise, or something more dreadful still ! And — 
and in that dress ! " drawing her aside. " Do you know, Miss 
Lovell 1 — you won't mind my telling you I am sure, but no one 
wears white dresses and sailor hats in London ! " 

" Don't they, indeed ! " said Archie, brusquely ; " well, I'm 
going on business, very painful business, and I shan't be tliinking 


whether people look at my dress or not. Who can think of dress 
at such a time as this, Lucia 1 " calling the heiress of Durant's 
Court by her Christian name for the first time — " you don't knmv 
how miserable 1 am about all this trouble that has fallen upon 

From her infancy upwards, Lucia had always been equal to 
any emergency requiring pretty pious sentiments, and a nice little 
lady-like way of expressuig them ; and what she answered was 
very well chosen and well said, and utterly devoid, to Archie's 
heart, of anything like the ring of deep or passionate feeling. It 
had been terribly sudden, and her mamma at first had broken 
down, but was calmer now — their old governess and friend, ^Miss 
Barlow, having come to sjoend a few days with them — and it was 
very painful to think of its being in everybody's mouth, but there 
was much to be thankful for, especially that it should have occurred 
now, not later, and Miss Barlow's presence was a great solace to 
them ; Miss Barlow having a mind beautifully schooled by afflic- 

" I'd rather be alone," said Arcliie, turning from her abruptly. 
" I should decline solace from Miss Barlow, or Miss Anybody in 
the world, if mij heart was full ! " 

After this she stood silent — thinking over the character of the 
woman for whose happiness she was about to surrender her own — 
until the train came up. Then, in spite of renewed warnings from 
Miss Durant as to madmen, got into a carriage away from old Sir 
John, and as it chanced remained alone the entire way to London. 
What an Eternity that journey seemed ! how slow the pace — fifty 
miles an hour — to her feverish heart ! how she hoped, with blent 
terror and imj)atience, that every large town they came near would 
be London at last ! Xow that the excitement of action had set 
in, all she wanted was to be at her journey's end, and before Ealph 
Seton — ^before the whole world — ^to tell her story in the court. 
The bravery which is not so much courage as a desperate desire to 
get through the worst quickly, had come to her at last: and the 
moment the train reached Euston Square she jumped out on the 
platform. ; then, without giving herself time to think or hesitate, 
walked straight up to Sir John Durant as he was getting down 
slowly and -with tliflicidty from his carriage. 


" I have a favour to ask of yon, Sir John," bringing out each 
word with mechanical distinctness, as if she was repeating some 
lesson that she had learnt by heart. " Take me with you to the 
court where Mr Gerald Durant is to be tried to-day." 

Poor old Sir John looked at her in blank surprise. " To the 
court ^ my dear Miss Lovell, impossible ; you don't know what 
you ask — a London police-court is no place for you. At any other 
time, in any other way, you may command my services, but now 
you must really excuse me if I am obliged to refuse you." And 
he bowed to her, with his courteous old-fashioned air of deference, 
and walked on a few steps alone down the platform. 

But Archie followed him pertinaciously. "^ Sir John, it is im- 
possible for you to deny me in this ! " she said, touching his arm 
T^'lth her hand. " I must be at Mr Durant's trial ! I — I have 
important evidence to give there, and if you refuse to take me with 
you I must go alone. Surely, for your nephew's sake, you will 
give me your protection as far as the court % " 

At the word " evidence " Sir John Durant stopped ; and as he 
looked down into Archie Lovell's face, something in its intense, 
its painful eagerness, touched him with an irresistible conviction 
of her sincerity at least. That her presence could be of any service 
to Gerald was of course out of the question : but it was impossible 
to doubt that her request was made in good faith ; not for the 
gratification of a girlish caprice, as he had thought at fijst. 

" You will take me with you % " she repeated, as she saw him 
hesitate. " You will help me, for Gerald's sake, in what I have 
to do when we reach the court ] " 

" You put it out of my power to refuse you, Miss Lovell," 
answered the old man, gravely. ''If you insist upon exposing 
yourself — uselessly, I fear — to a scene of such a nature, I will cer- 
tainly take you with me to the court, and when we arrive there I 
will arrange, if it is not too late, for you to speak with one of my 
nephew's lawyers, if I am satisfied, that is to say — ^" 

" Yon will — you must be satisfied ! " interrupted Archie, im- 
petuously. " Do you think I am asking you this without reason, 
or for my own pleasure % You talk of being too late. . . . Why do 
we waste a moment standing here if there is a chance of it V 
And putting her hand within Sir John Durant's arm, she walked 



iDGside him mth. a finn unshrinkiiig step through the crowded 
station: a minute later knew that she was being borne along 
through the mocking 'glare and life and tumult of the London 
streets to her doom. 

Too late ! Oh, Heaven, too late ! But the guilty cry found 
utterance in her heart alone. All was not over then — ^there was a 
chance of her own salvation even yet J 



Some of the best lawyers in England had been retained for 
Gerald : the great Mr Slight to watch his case during the prelimin- 
ary examination : the greater Serjeant Adams to defend him in 
the event of his being tried hereafter before a judge. Some of the 
best lawyers in England were engaged, likemse, on the side of the 
Crown : and amongst the whole high legal phalanx, amongst the 
lawyers for the prosecution and the lawyers for the defence alike, 
one opinion was fast becoming universal : namely, that the 
prisoner's committal for trial was inevitable. 

Whether Gerald Durant happened to be guilty or innocent in 
the matter was, of course, a very secondary detail in the sight of 
the profession. The vital question was : would the evidence 
acrainst him be too much even for Slight — now- that the Crown 
had recalled old Sleek from Italy to conduct the prosecution? 
And the unanimous answer was. Yes. Not a link seemed want- 
ino- in the chain of circumstantial evidence that Mr Wickhanv-^ 
fertile genius had evoked. The motive for committing the crii: 
with which the prisoner stood charged : his presence at the fatal 
hour upon the scene of guilt : the identity of the girl who was 
seen in his company on London Bridge: his suspicious mam: 
immediately after her death was known to have taken place : 
these, as of a dozen other minor facts, there was, it was affirm ^ 
proof incontestable. And still, as far even as an attempt at liis 

"where is she?" 387 

own justification went, Gerald Durant's lips, to friends and coun- 
sellors alike, continued obstinately sealed ! He was innocent, he 
said, and had not the slightest fear of anything so ridiculous as 
the law finding him guilty. No innocent men were ever con- 
demned now-a-days, and very few guilty ones. Circumstances 
connected with other people withheld him from explaining one or 
two things that at present, perhaps, did look rather suspicious in 
the case. It was folly to think that everything would not come 
right in the end. And so when the final day of his examination 
came, and while his approaching committal was looked upon as a 
certainty among the lawyers, even those who cared for Gerald 
most, dared hope no more than that he might escape the charge of 
actual criminality as regarded Margaret Hall's death. That he 
was with her up to the last there seemed scarcely a possibility of 
disproving ; that he was the cause of her death there could be, it 
was hoped, no direct evidence to show. What more likely than 
that, immediately after leaving her lover, or, as it was now 
whispered pretty loudly, her husband, the unhappy girl, mad- 
dened by his neglect or his coldness, had made away with her own 
life? ISTot a defence calculated, certainly, to restore Gerald Durant 
with unsullied name to the world ; but when it becomes a ques- 
tion, like this, of life and death, what the friends of an accused 
man begin to think about, I imagine, is his safety — the life that 
is worth so little, rather than the good name, without which, to 
most men, life itself is intolerable. This, at all events, was the 
desperate view of his case to which, with one exception, Gerald's 
friends (men who a fortnight ago would have staked their lives 
upon the certainty of his innocence) were now reduced. 

The exception was Ealph. Of the promise which sealed 
Gerald's lips with respect to Dennison's marriage, he of course 
knew nothing; of his silence concerning that fatal night when 
Archie Lovell had been his companion in London, Major Seton 
understood the cause as well as Gerald understood it himself. 
And placed in the same position — yes, even with Archie to be 
saved, Ralph, in his inmost, modest heart, believed that he would 
have acted far less chivalrously than his friend. 

''A man's first duty is to his God — his second to himself," he 
said to Gerald on the morning of the final examination j tlie last 

2 c 2 


time lie ever visited Gerald Durant in his prison. ^' I know, just 
as well as if you had told me, that you are silent to shelter some 
other person's reputation, and I believe, on my soul, that you are 
wrong ! If I was in your place, and knew that my truth-telling 
would cover with mere conventional shame the name — well, the 
name of the woman I loved best on earth," said Ealph, the blood 
rising over his rough old face, " and save my own from blackest, 
unmerited dishonour, I believe that I would tell it. I don't see 
that you owe a stronger duty to any man or woman living than 
you owe to yourself. The thing is, to do simply what is right." 

" Eight ! " said Gerald, with a smile ; that careless smile of his 
which was the real beauty of his face. ''But, my dear fellow, 
what is right? Monsieur Set on me le reponds, mais qui me 
reponds de Monsieur Seton ? The world, according to Siguier, I 
never went deeper, was in twilight during a few thousand years — 
Cambrian or Silurian epoch, I forget which — with the sun just 
strong enough to allow the graptolites and trilobites to see a yard 
or two before their noses. I suppose we are morally in the same 
kind of t^vilight now. "N'ague lights break in upon us of something 
higher than mere eating, drinking, and sleeping, and in our different 
ways, and under different names, we try to follow them. Defin- 
itely, we don't see much farther, I fancy, than the trilobites did ; 
not so far, perhaps, for as their eyes had about five hundred facets 
that enabled them to look about them in all directions at once, 
they were better adapted to their situation most likely than we 
are to ours." 

This was talk entirely out of the range of the old Moustache. 
^Yh.o was Figuier 1 and what were graptolites and trilobites 1 The 
earth at the beginning was without form and void, and in six days 
was covered with life as we see it now. And truth was truth, 
and falsehood falsehood ; and neither deep thinking nor fine talk- 
ing had ever smoothened down the path between them in his 

"You follow your own idea of honour, Durant," laying his 
arm affectionately on Gerald's shoulder, "and— while you talk of 
not distinguishing right from wrong — 'tis a nobler one, I feel, 
than mine; just that. You have the edge on all your finer 
emotions yet"— poor simple Ealph!— "and mine is blunted. 

"WHERE IS SHE?'' 889 

When yon have lived to my age perhaps you will not think any 
woman worth the sacrifice of yonr OAvn honour, the risk of your 
o^AHi life." 

*' I should think this one worth it always," said Gerald, simply ; 
*' for there can he no harm now in my confessing this much to 
you, Seton — there is a good name, a name worth a vast deal more 
than mine, that my silence shields. If it had been a love-affair, 
which it never was" — even at this moment what a thiill of 
dehght shot through Major Seton's heart ! — " I might feel very 
differently. Love, between a man and woman of the world, I 
have always held to be a stand-up light, in which a fair field and 
no favour is all that can be reasonably required on either side. 
Each risks something ; each must abide by the issue of the con- 
test. But this was nothmg of the kind. An honest, true-hearted 
little girl through me was very nearly brought to grief once. I 
don't say whether I was in love with her ; for certain she was not 
in love with me, and — well, everything turned out as it should 
have done, and is forgotten." 

" And this is the woman with whom you were seen on that 
night 1 " [said Ealph in an altered voice, as Gerald hesitated. 
'' This is—" 

" This is one of the causes for which I am and ever shall be 
silent," answered Gerald, gravely. " To betray such a trust would 
be a woi-se betrayal than that of friend or mistress — the betrayal 
of a child. If the honour of every Durant wdio ever lived could 
be saved by her disgrace, the honour of the Durants should go ! " 
And then he turned the conversation pointedly aside, and during 
the short remainder of time they w^ere together, spoke only of the 
business matters that he wished Ealph to fulfil for him in the 
event of his committal ; an event which, in spite of all his out- 
ward calmness. Major Seton could see he had now thoroughly pre- 
pared himself to meet. 

The time at which the examination w^as to take place was ten 
o'clock. From an early hour in the morning, however, every ap- 
proach to the court was besieged by such people — many of them, 
although London was " empty " of the better class — as were pos- 
sessed of cards giving them a right of entrance to this charming 
little sensation drama of real life about to be played. Without 


such cards no admission save by sheer physical strength could be 
obtained ; and even the fortunate men and women who held them 
found they had plenty of hard work- to go through, many a severe 
struggle with the experienced roughs to encounter, before an en- 
trance to the scene of their morning's amusement could be won. 

At ten o'clock precisely the prisoner, or principal actor in the 
entertainment, was brought into the dock ; and a breathless hush 
passed through the entire mass of spectators at the sight of him. 
He was a little pale and worn, as any man might well be after a 
week spent in a London prison in August, but looked in good 
spirits and smiled and nodded to his different friends, Ralph 
among the rest, as one after another he recognized them amidst 
the crowd. Mr Slight, who " watched " the case for the prisoner, 
now applied for a copy of the information on which the warrant 
was granted, with a view, he said, to see what were the statements 
laid down, and also who was nominally the prosecutor in the case. 
This, after some discussion, was granted ; and then the warrant 
having been read over to the prisoner, and the witnesses ordered 
out of court, the well-known short, rubicund figure of j\Ir Sleek 
rose, on behalf of the Crown, to address the bench. 

He appeared before them, he said, in his soft, well-modulated 
voice, for the purpose of preferring and bringing home, as he 
trusted he would do, the charge against the prisoner at the bar 
which had just been read from the warrant. The offence they 
were about to inquire into was one of a most heinous character. 
He did not think that he should be putting it too strongly if he 
said it was one of the most heinous, the most cowardly, the most 
repugnant to every natural and di\dne law, that it was in the 
power of man to commit. Such observations however (having 
made them) were, Mr Sleek continued, out of place here. They had 
met for the purpose only of instituting a preliminary examination ; 
and if he should adduce facts to justify the bench in committing 
the prisoner for trial, it would of course be the duty of the prose- 
cution to elaborate those facts, and produce them hereafter in a 
more complete form tlian he had an opportunity of doing in this 
court. The offence with which Mr Durant stood charged was 
that of murder ; the victim was a young and beautiful girl — a girl, 
it was scarcely possible to doubt, bound to the prisoner by all those 

"where is she?" 391 

ties wliicli constitute a "woman's dearest and most sacred claim to 
man's love and protection. Mr Sleek and the court generally show- 
ed emotion; an irrepressible smile passed for an instant over 
Gerald's face. It appeared that at about a quarter-past ten on the 
night of the second instant, a dark body was heard to fall or to be 
thrown with violence into the Thames from London Bridge ; an 
alarm was instantly raised, and by three o'clock next morning the 
body of deceased was found, some three or four hundred yards 
down the river, with life extinct. An inquest was held on the 
folloAving day, but was unfortunately conducted with the deplorable 
looseness that Mr Sleek had observed to be the general rule of 
coroners' inquests, and nothing of material importance was brought 
to light. Circumstances arising, however, immediately afterwards 
wliich aroused the suspicions of the police, to Inspector 'Wickham 
of the detective force was intrusted the duty of making further 
inquiry into this darkly mysterious tragedy ; and — thanks to the 
skill and unremitting attention of that excellent officer — the prose- 
cution was now in a position to present to the bench the follow- 
ing facts : facts which Mr Sleek believed coidd leave them no 
alternative whatever but the committal of the prisoner for trial 
before another court. It seemed that as long ago as the tenth of 
January, the deceased girl left .her employer's house in Stafford- 
shire, and although rumours as to the supposed companion of her 
flight were rife at the time about the county, nothing definite had 
since transpired on the subject. On the night of the second instant, 
a girl dressed in the clothes in which the body of ^largaret Hall 
was afterwards 'found was seen, at a few minutes before ten, walking 
across London Bridge from the Surrey side upon a man's arm ; at 
a quarter-past ten a woman's shriek was heard, a dark body seen 
to fall into the water; and by an early hour next morning a 
woman's body was found drifted in among some shipping at a little 
distance down the river. That the woman who thus crossed the 
bridge was Margaret Hall there was, as he should hereafter show, 
no reasonable cause to doubt. The man upon whose arm she lean- 
ed was, it would be proved by incontestable evidence, the prisoner 
— Mr Gerald Durant. 

Profound sensation through the court. A smile, unconcealed 
this time, passed across the prisoner's face. 


Medical testimony, proceeded Mr Sleek, would be called to 
sliow tlie condition in which the body was found. They would be 
told of a wedding-ring tied by a ribbon around the unhappy girl's 
neck ; of a handkerchief embroidered with INIr Durant's monogram 
in her breast ; and they would also hear evidence as to a man's 
hat, which was found floating in the river ; and which it would be 
proved was the projDcrty of the prisoner. The next points that it 
would be his duty to bring before their consideration were the 
acts and conduct of Mr Durant himself. On that second day of 
August he was proved to have crossed from MortcAille to London 
in the company of a young girl, answering to the description of 
the deceased, Margaret Hall. On the passage across, one of their 
fellow-travellers lent the girl a cloak, which in the hurry of land- 
ing was not returned to its OT\Tier, and in this cloak the body of 
Margaret Hall was found. At about ten o'clock, as he had stated, 
Mr Durant, with the girl upon his arm, was seen walking upon 
London Bridge, and it was remarked at the time that there was 
something strange and excited about the appearance of them both. 
A^Hiat was the prisoner's subsequent conduct? Between eleven 
and twelve, minus a hat, and with his dress disordered and torn, 
Mr Durant went to the chambers of a Mr Eobert Dennison, a re- 
lation of his, in the Temple ; ga\^ curt and contradictory answers 
when questioned by his friends as to the strangeness of his appear- 
ance ; and finally let fall a remark about having just seen the 
ghost of an old friend's face — " a Staffordshire face " — on London 
Bridge, as though to account for his pallor and depression. Every 
portion of this e\'idence was, Mr Sleek allowed, circumstantial ; 
but it was not necessary, neither was it his place to observe, that a 
concurrence of suspicious circumstances was of all human evidence 
the one least liable to bias or error, more particularly when the 
silence of the accused and of his comisellors tacitly admitted such 
circumstances to be authentic. It was a melancholy satisfaction 
of course to know that Mr Durant was in a position to command 
the best services of the profession. Her Majesty's government 
wished to press a conviction upon no man ; and it was a satisfac- 
tion to laiow that everytliing that could be said on behalf of the 
prisoner would be said, and with the greatest force and eloquence. 
Still, what would really tell far more in Mr Durant's favour, what 

"WHERE IS SHE?'' 393 

it would yield himself, ]\Ir Sleek, the most unmixed personal satis- 
faction to hear, would be — not eloquence at all, but a plain 
straightforward counter-statement of facts as regarded Mr Durant's 
proceedings on the night of August the second ! It was an axiom 
of Enghsh law that no man should be called upon to offer ex- 
planations of his conduct or of any circumstances of suspicion 
which might attach to him. It was his duty, however, to remark 
that if an accused person refused such explanation, where a strong 
2?rimd facie .case had been made out against him, it must neces- 
sarily raise a presumption that his silence arose from guilty or 
sinister motives. Could common sense do otherwise than adopt 
this conclusion, especially when, as in the present case, it was 
manifest that facts inaccessible to the prosecution were in the 
power of the accused? Mr Durant, it was proved, did on the 
second day of August cross from Morteville to London in the 
company of a lady. By the testimony of his own valet it ap- 
peared that he was left alone with this lady between eight and 
nine o'clock at the South-Eastern Terminus ; and at ten o'clock, a 
quarter of an hour only before Margaret Hall's death took place, 
it would be sho^Ti that he was once more seen standing by her 
side on London Bridge. 

" And now, with respect to this lady," exclaimed Mr Sleek, 
with sudden fervour, "I have a question to ask which I am cer- 
tain must address itself with irresistible force to every person in 
this court. Where is she ? . If this lady, as it will doubtless be 
alleged, was not Margaret Hall, but some other person still living 
and well, is her e^ddence to be adduced or not on the prisoner's 
behalf? It may, and doubtless will, be hinted to us that there 
may be cases in which a man would risk the unmerited punish- 
ment of guilt sooner than bring forward a woman's name before 
the world ; but I put it to you, whether the Hps of a man charged 
with the most heiaous and cowardly of all crimes could remain so 
sealed ] 'Kaj more, I ask does the woman live who would see an 
innocent man incur even the imputation of a crime like this 
sooner than allow the record of her ovm indiscretion, of her own 
frailty, to be made public 1 " 

They might be told, he proceeded, that the lady who accom- 
panied Mr Durant from France did certainly wear this scarlet 


travelling cloak when slie arrived in London, but miglit yet liave 
transferred it to the deceased during the few minutes that elapsed 
hetAveen the time when she was last seen at Mr Durant's side and 
that of Margaret Hall's death. K they accepted this startling 
assumption, if they for once presumed that any given fact was due, 
not to cruninality, but to untoward accident, they would, certainly, 
be less inclined towards such a merciful supposition a second time. 
But, alas ! this unhappy victim to adverse coincidences would call 
upon them immediately afterwards to give another violent mental 
wrench favourable to his innocence. A handkerchief embroidered 
with Gerald Sydney Durant's initials was found in the woman's 
breast. It had been well said that the die which is orderly in its 
sequences may be rightly supposed to be loaded. Every successive 
circumstance that bore against the prisoner was, it must be 
remembered, cumulative proof — proof multiplied by hundreds. 
And when to the foregoing facts was added that of Mr Durant's 
hat being found floating near the body of the deceased, it 
seemed folly to ask them again to receive an arbitrary and 
separate conclusion instead of the j)lain cause which could alone 
account for this overpowering accumulation of dark facts — the 
prisoner's guilt. With regard, he said, to Mi Durant's manner 
at his cousin's chambers, it was not his province now to speak. 
This conduct might possibly be compatible with innocence if it 
stood alone, but it must be recollected that it was one of a series 
of facts which, though small, perhaps, in their individual capacity, 
did, when grouped together, lead to the irresistible conclusion that 
the prisoner had secret and guilty knowledge of the gui's death. 
"What motive could have prompted the crime it was imneedfid 
also for him to suggest. A dark drama, an old story of passion, 
satiety, and neglect, of which this was the closing scene, had 
doubtless been enacted. He had to do with facts alone ; and 
these were the facts which he was able to present to the bench. 
They saw in the prisoner a young man overwhelmed with debts 
which he was utterly powerless to meet unaided. His uncle, Sir 
John Durant, was the only person to whom he could look for 
assistance; and his uncle, it was known, not three weeks ago, had 
threatened to disinherit him if his reported connection with 
Margaret Hall proved to be a fact. They next found him alone 

"where is she?'' 395 

with the unhappy girl on London Bridge upon the night of her 
death. They had then the mute and touching evidence of the 
body itseK — the -wedding-ring tied around her neck ; the hand- 
kerchief of Gerald Durant in her breast ; and lastly, they had the 
fact that the prisoner already realized to the full those advantages 
for which, it might be surmised, the death was accomplished. 
Whatever benefit of doubt Mr Durant might be entitled to would, 
for certain, be amply accorded to him hereafter. He believed 
himself that the magistrates could come to no other conclusion 
DOW than that the case was fraught with suspicions of the gravest 
character, and that the interests of public justice imperatively 
demanded that the prisoner should be sent for trial before another 
and a higher tribunal. 

And then Mr Sleek "sviped his crimson face, and sat down. 
His address had been, intentionally, a short one, for the thermo- 
meter stood at ninety-six in the shade ; and, in common with 
every other lawyer present, Mr Sleek fervently hoped to get the 
examination over to-day. A great surgeon, recalled by enormous 
fees, to cut off the limb of an illustrious patient, knows that he 
will be forced to wait and watch over the result of the operation. 
"With a lawyer, what is done is done. "Whether Mr Sleek or Mr 
SKght got the best of it, their work would be finished, their fees 
paid, the moment the bench had pronounced its judgment upon 
the prisoner ; and a pardonable preference for mountain oxygen 
to city carbonic acid in August made both of them disposed to be 
concise. Mr Sleek's address had not lasted two hours j Mr Slight's 
for certain would not occupy more j and it was now only twelve 
o'clock. By employing a little happy brevity in cross-examination 
they might yet be able to have a comfortable dinner together, and 
start off on their respective journeys — one for the Highlands, the 
other for the Italian lakes — to-night. 

The first witness called was Mrs Sherborne of Heathcotes, and 
as she came into the witness-box, making her village curtsey to 
the usher, whom in her agitation she took for the magistrate at 
least, her country carriage and open sunbm^nt face seemed almost 
to bring a breath of wholesome meadow freshness into the noisome 
human atmosphere of the court. Her first movement was to look 
towards the prisoner and cry ; her second, upon a mild opening 


question from the bench, to plunge into wildly irrelevant state- 
ments about Sir John's goodness to her husband, and her regret at 
having to appear against Mr Gerald, and the love she had always 
borne to the family at the Court. But a little judicious treatment 
at the hands of Mr Sleek soon reduced these symptoms of con- 
timiacy, and brought the poor woman to a due sense of the position 
in which she stood, as an important and accredited witness on the 
side of the Crown. After giving her evidence as to the identifica- 
tion of i\Iargaret Hall after death, Mrs Sherborne was desired to 
tell what she knew about her disaj^pearance in January last, and 
she had just faltered out a few tearful words as to the note the 
poor girl had written home, and how it was thought about in the 
county at the time, when Mr Slight jumped up and, with a stony 
face and peremptory voice, interrupted her. They had nothing to 
do in this court with what was " thought about " by anybody any- 
where. They had to do with Mrs Sherborne's personal evidence, 
of which he should be glad to hear rather more than she had at 
present given them. And then, putting up his double eyeglass 
and looking at her with a certain expression of disbelief and 
insolence, that made the modest countrywoman almost ready to 
drop with shame, Mr Slight proceeded to cross-question her a little. 

"Flighty? strange? No, never ! — never saw anything imusual, 
in any way, in poor Maggie's manner. She was a handsome girl 
— a skin like snow, gentleman " (with an apologetic curtsey to the 
bench), " and eyes and hair like the raven's wing, and a bit set up 
about it, perhaps, at times ; but as honest a girl, and as cool a 
hand for butter as ever churned. Suitors ? AVell, for the matter 
of that, she'd as many suitors as most. In her own class of life ? 
Certainly ; whose else class should they be in 1 " For, in spite of 
her terror, Mrs Sherborne had her keen country wits about her 
still. She was in that witness-box to speak the truth — if truth- 
telling could do it, to get poor iMr Gerald out of his trouble. But 
she was equally there to shield the honour of the girl that was 
dead and gone, and a subtle woman's instinct had interpreted to 
her aright the object of Mr Slight's last question. 

" And Margaret Hall accepted none of these suitors of her own 
class of life, it appears, Mrs Sherborne ! "What did she say to the 
suitors of a class above her own 1 '*' 

"where is she?'' 397 

"I can't tell, sir." 

''You can't tell. "Were gentlemen — unmarried ones — accus- 
tomed to come about tlie farm at Heathcotes during the time that 
Margaret Hall was in your emyloyment 1 " 

"Yes, certainly. A many gentleman used to come to see my 
husband and me." 

" Name those who came oftenest." 

Mrs Sherborne hesitated, and shot a quick appealing glance 
across towards Gerald. " Sir George Chester used to come when 
he were down at the Court, sir ; and Mr Eobert Dennison, and 
sometimes Mr Gerald Durant himself, and — " 

" Mrs Sherborne," exclaimed Mr Sligjit, suddenly exchanging 
his air of bantering encouragement for one of scowling ferocity, 
" have the goodness to , weigh your answers more carefully, and 
remember this is not a time or place for levity." The poor 
woman's mouth was contorted, through nervousness, into the 
ghastly semblance of a smile. " Have you, or have you not, 
knov7n Mr Kobert Dennison to be frequently alone in the com- 
pany of Margaret Hall 1 " 

Gerald's lips had continued inviolably sealed as respected his 
personal knowledge of Eobert's marriage -with Maggie ; but he had 
never hidden, or sought to hide, from his counsel any of the well- 
known facts relative to their extreme intimacy. His promise to 
Eobert, his faith with Archie Lovell, were all that he felt himself 
bound l^to keep. Quixotic enough to lay aside any legitimate 
weapon of self-defence, he was not — and Mr Slight, without any 
positive knowledge of the truth, suspected enough to be sure that 
his client had neither been the sole nor the first claimant upon 
poor Maggie's affection. 

'' Have you, or have you not, frequently seen Mr Dennison alone 
in the girl's company 1 " he repeated. 

"Well, I have seen him, sir; but not oftener — " 

"Keep to what I ask you, Mrs Sherborne," interrupted Mr 
Slight, in a cruel voice, " and leave every other subject alone. 
You have seen Mr Dennison in the girl's company. How 

" I don't reniember, sir," answered Mrs Sherborne piteously. 

" Try to think, if you please. Six times ? Ten times 1 " 


" Oh dear, yes," she cried, brightening at having something 
definite to go upon. " The young gentlemen used to walk down 
Heathcotes way after their dinner, one one time, perhaps, and one 
another, and then Maggie she'd walk a bit with them in the 
garden or round the orchard while they smoked their cigars. I'd 
kno^m both of them from boys, gentlemen," she added, turnino 
towards the magistrate, with her good, brown face softening all 
over, " and never gave a thought — me or my husband either— 
that harm would come of it." 

^'^0 more with one than with the other, I suppose, Mrs Sher- 
borne 1 " put in Mr Slight, blandly. 

" iSTo, sir." 

" Exactly ! " and Mr Slight sat dovm. The evidence for the 
prosecution had assuredly not done much damage to his client's 
cause as yet. 

At the appearance of the next mtness who entered the box 
Gerald half rose, and leaned forward with an expression of greater 
eagerness than his face had worn before. The witness was Captaui 
Waters, and as his eyes met the prisoner's a certain veiled look of 
intelligence passed for a second between them. 

The man had got his hush-money, but — was he safe? was 
Gerald's uneasy thought, for at his direction a goodly sum had 
been j^aid anonymously to Waters, with sternest injunctions never 
to molest Miss Lovell, or seek in any way to bring her name for- 
ward while he lived. The scoundrel had received his bribe, but 
how was he to know that another man had not meanwliile bid a 
higher price over his head 1 

" You may be perfectly at your ease, my infatuated but chival- 
rous young friend," was Waters' reflection, as he caught sight of 
Gerald's eager face. " No fear of my killing the goose that lays 
such very golden eggs ! If you are committed for your trial, as 
you certainly mil be, I shall have an income safe without work 
or trouble for the next six months — a small annuity perhaps for 
life ! " 

And then, in his accustomed bored languid tone, Captain 
Waters, or Edward Eandall, as his name was written in the police- 
sheet, gave his evidence. Had stayed in the same hotel with iSli 
Durant about three weeks ago, at Morteville. Eemembered seeing 

^-^ WHERE IS SHE?" 399 

him on "board a steamer bound for England from the Calais pier. 
Had no conception wliat the name of the steamer was ; never re- 
membered the names of steamers — wouldn't Bradshaw tell 1 It 
seemed a small vessel, chiefly occupied by persons of the lower 
class. Beheved he spoke to ISIr Durant from the pier — was sure 
he did, now he thought of it — congratulated him, if he recollected 
right, on having got away from MorteviUe. A lady was certainly 
at Mr Durant's side — might have had his arm — seldom felt sure 
of anything to take a positive oath to it. If obliged to bet 1 Well, 
would rather say she had not got his arm^couldn't see the object 
of people going about arm-in-arm on board steamers. The lady 
was too closely veiled for him to see her face — did not, to the best 
of his remembrance, wear a red cloak j believed she was in white, 
but positively declined swearing about articles of female dress. 
Certainly had seen Mr Durant in the society of ladies at Morte- 
viUe. What ladies ? Lots of ladies — could it really be expected 
of him to know their names ^ ISTever thought Mr Durant seemed 
harder up for money than other men — paid, at all events, what he 
lost to hiTTi at cards. How much 1 WeU, a very trifling sum ; 
between a hundred and a hundred and fifty pounds, he should say. 
This was Captain Waters' evidence ; and it was to be remarked 
that he was not cross-questioned or meddled with in any way by 
Mr Slight while he gave it. The next name called was that of 
Sophia Dawson. A rumour had got abroad that the evidence of 
this witness was to be of the most fatal importance as regarded 
Gerald ; and a silence, such as hushes the opera house when some 
great actress plays the Bridge scene in Somnamlula, prevailed 
through the court during her examination. She was, she stated, 
the Avife of Mr Alfred Dawson, merchant, of the city of London, 
and on the second of the present -month returned to England from 
a visit that she had been papng to her sister in Paris. She hap- 
pened to miss the mail in the morning, and crossed by the Lord of 
the Isles, an excursion steamer that left MorteviUe at two in the 
afternoon. Soon after getting clear of Calais the wind rose fresh, 
and as she, witness, felt iU, and was going down to the cabin, she 
offered her cloak to a young girl whom she saw sitting in a thin 
summer dress upon the deck. Yes ; the cloak produced (a thrill 
of satisfaction seemed to run through the expectant crowd at sight 


of it !) was hers. The colour was stained and altered, but she was 
positive as to its being the cloak she lent to the girl on board the 
steamer. Her initials were marked on a piece of tape stitched 
inside the collar. She would know it, even without these initials, 
among a hundred cloaks. It was home made, and she had cut out 
the hood and put it together herself. Saw no more of the girl till 
they came up the river, and then found her sitting on deck in the 
company of the same gentleman with whom she had at first no- 
ticed her off the coast of France. That gentleman was, she could 
swear, the prisoner at the bar — but the woman's kindly face here 
paled visibly as Gerald turned and looked at her full. Knew at 
the time that his name was Durant ; read it on a valise that his 
servant carried in his hand. Told the girl [she might keep the 
cloak on still, as the air was fresh coming up the river, and when 
they reached London Bridge forgot all about it in the hurry of 
landing, and did not see the lady or gentleman again. The cloak 
was of no great value, and she had never made any inquiries about 
its loss. Had forgotten all about it until a few days ago, when an 
advertisement in The Times was pointed out to her by a friend. 
This advertisement was addressed to the lady who lost a scarlet 
cloak on board the Lord of the Isles on such a date ; and her hus- 
band thought it right to communicate at once with the police. 

This was her evidence. In cross-examination, very suavely and 
cautiously conducted by Mr Slight, Mrs Dawson stated, with con- 
fidence, that she could swear to the person of the girl to whom she 
lent her cloak. It was an uncommon face, and she remembered it 
perfectly. The girl's veil was not over her face when she first 
spoke to her. 

The photographs of Margaret Hall, and of one or two other in- 
different persons, were now handed to the ^vitness. She examined 
them as she was directed to do, under a strong microscope, but 
would not swear as to whether- the portrait of the girl who was 
■s^dth the prisoner was among them or not. Did not tliink much 
of photographs herself : never had. Would she swear none of 
them was the portrait of the girl ? No, she would not. Declined 
giving any opinion on the subject. "Would swear to her own 
cloak : would swear to the gentleman. Was positive she could 

*^ ^VHEKB IS SHE ? '* 401 

swear to tlie young lady if she saw her. She had bright bkie eyes, 
long fair hair, and a brown complexion. 

The prisoner at this point leaned anxiously forward, and evi- 
dently tried to arrest Mr SHght's attention. But Mr Slight either 
did not, or would not, understand the glance. His client's case 
was just as weak as it was possible to be already ; but Avhatever 
could be done to strengthen it, Mr Slight was determined to do : 
and this last voluntary statement of Mrs Dawson's was, he knew, 
the brightest ray of light that had dawned as yet for the defence. 

''Blue eyes and fair hair. You state upon your oath, that the 
young person to whom you lent your cloak had blue eyes ? " 

"I do." But here, re-examined by the bench, IMrs Dawson 
confessed to having been sea-sick at the time she lent the girl her 
cloak. Her head was swimming round ; and she saw nothing dis- 
tinctly. When they got into the river, the girl had put down her 
veil, and she could not, for certain, say that she had remarked the 
colour of her eyes then. 

" And yet, two minutes ago, you positively stated that the young 
woman's eyes were blue?" exclaimed Mr Slight, indignantly. 
" I must really request, madam, that you will recollect the import- 
ance of your words. You are not, you know, deciding as to the 
colour of a new dress, but answering a question ujDon which a 
man's life may depend. We have nothing to do in this court 
with your sea-sickness, or any condition of your bodily frame 
whatsoever. Do you swear that the young woman to whom you 
lent your cloak on board the Lord of the Isles had blue eyes? 
Yes, or no ? " 

'' I swear that she had blue eyes." 

'' Good. Now, Mrs Dawson, what was the manner, may I ask, 
of Mr Durant to the young person during the voyage 1 Sea-sick, 
or not sea-sick, this is a point to which no young married lady " — • 
Mrs Dawson was forty-five at least — " can ever be blind. Was it 
your opinion at the time, now, that Mr Durant and this young 
person were man and wife ] " 

But to this question, Mr Sleek positively objected. The 
private opinions or deductions of any individual — as his friend, 
Mr Slight, with admirable clearness, had reminded them — not 

2 D 


iDeing evidence; and the bench confirming this objection, Mr 
Sliglit had to repeat his question in its first form — What was the 
manner of jNIr Durant to the young person with whom he travelled 1 

A very polite manner. That, of course. He never doubted for 
a moment, that the manner of any gentleman to any lady would 
be a polite one. Was it a marked manner ? the manner of a 
lover, in short? 

Well, no ; Mrs Dawson could not say it was. She thought, at 
the time, they looked like brother and sister, or, jDcrhaps, two 
young people gone off for a freak. The girl's manner seemed very 
good-natured and off-hand with her companion — certainly not the 
manner of a wife to a husband. And now, ha"vdng worked round 
after all to the exact admission that he required, Mr Slight allowed 
the -sntness to leave the box. 

The evidence of constable X 22, of the City division of police, 
was next taken. He was on his beat, he said, on the night of 
August the second, and remembered seeing a girl and a gentleman 
standing together on London Bridge, a few minutes before ten 
o'clock. Saw the gentleman's face as distinct as if it had been 
broad day, for they were standing talking immediately under a 
lamp, when he came up, and he stopped a minute to look at them. 
The prisoner at the bar was the gentleman : identified him about 
a week ago, when, under Mr AVickham's directions, he watched 
him from an opposite window at his lodgings at Clarges Street. 
Thought on the night of the second they must be foreigners, from 
their queer appearance — the lady was, he described, in a scarlet 
travelling-cloak; the gentleman without a hat. Thought there 
seemed some kind of discussion going on between them. There 
had been a disturbance (this in cross-examination) on the bridge 
just before ; but couldn't say if the prisoner had been mixed up 
in it or not. 

One of the lightermen who first raised the alarm on the night 
of the second was now brought forward. The clocks had gone 
the quarter, he said, about four or five minutes before. Could 
take his Bible oath he was right as to time. It was his turn to 
go ashore at half -past ten ; and he had been counting the different 
quarters as they struck. It was a clear night, and he was sitting 
smoking his pipe on deck, when he heard a woman's shriek, and 

^'^ WHERE IS SHE?'' 403 

immediately afterwards saw the splash of some heavy object, close 
alongside, it seemed, of wdiere the barge was moored. "Was not 
present when the body was found. He and his mate gave the 
alarm at once ; and went ashore as usual at the half-hour. 

Lengthened medical evidence came next from the doctors who 
had before appeared at the inquest, and who still held conflicting 
opinions as to what had been the immediate cause of death, and 
whether death had or had not taken place before the body reached 
the water. After tliis — science having been apathetically listened 
to by the experienced trial-goers as a sort of interlude, or by-play, 
not bearing upon the general interest of the plot — the testimony 
of the river police, with its accustomed burthen of dark horrors, 
was recorded ; and then- 
Then, every man and woman in that dense crowd pressing 
breathlessly forward to catch a sight of him, Mr Eobert Dennison 
was summoned to take his place in the witness-box. 

His face wore a cadaverous yellow hue — the hue of a man who 
has newly passed through some sharp bodily pain or sickness ; but 
still the dark eyes kept their counsel inviolate as ever : still not a 
quiver of the lips betrayed either fear or weakness to any who 
were watching him. As soon as he appeared, Gerald Durant leant 
forward, upon his clasped arms, over the ledge of the dock, fixing 
his eyes steadfastly upon his cousin's face : and so,_ for a few silent 
moments, they stood — the guilty man and the innocent one — con- 
fronting each other. This was perhaps the strongest situation in 
the whole morning's performance ; and a good many of the ladies 
present raised their handkerchiefs to their eyes. The sympathies 
of the common people were, here as throughout, upon Gerald 
Durant's side. The educated and refined few were naturally alive 
to the pathos oi poor Mr Dennison's position ; the intense suffering 
with which this duty of giving evidence against one so near akin 
to him as the prisoner must be performed. 

He was examined by Mr Sleek, and stated that he was first 
cousin to Gerald Durant, and had been on terms of intimacy and 
affection with him all his life. On the first of the present month 
he parted from his cousin at Morteville. Did not know that he 
was in particular money difficulties at the time ; was about the 

same in that resp'ect as most young men of his profession and age. 

2 D 2 


An estrangement had certainly existed between Gerald and his 
uncle, Sir John Durant. Saw his coasin next on the night of the 
following day, August the second. On that occasion witness had 
a party of friends dining Avith him in liis chambers, and towards 
midnight Gerald Durant unexpectedly came in. He was dressed 
in a morning suit, and explained that he had only arrived in Lon- 
don that evening by a steamer from France. Did not recollect 
anything unusual in his appearance : was unable to say whether 
he had a hat with him or not. Admitted — and that the admission 
cost him dear no one looking at Eobert Dennison's face, his blood- 
less lips, the great drops standing upon his livid forehead, could 
doubt — that the prisoner had made some allusion to having been 
on London Bridge that night : did not remember the exact words 
the prisoner used. 

Mr Sleek : " I must beg of you to recollect them, Mr Dennison. 
The prosecution has every wish to spare the feelings of you and 
of your family to the uttermost, but this is a most important part 
of the evidence, and cannot be slurred over." 

And thus abjured — and with Gerald's eyes upon him still ! — Mr 
Dennison spoke. As the evening progressed, and as some of the 
guests were preparing to leave, Gerald Durant asked him what 
old friend he imagined he had seen that night on London Bridge. 
"Witness answered that he did not know ; and Gerald Durant then 
went on to say that he had seen a Staftbrdshire face they both 
knew, or one so like it as to be its ghost, crouching out of sight in 
one of the recesses of London Bridge. Witness treated the remark 
lightly at the time, not knowing any Staffordshire person who 
would be likely to be seen in such a position. Thought, and still 
believed, it to be meant as a joke. Parted that night on friendty 
terms with his cousin, and had not seen him since. Had held 
no communication with Mr Durant since his arrest. 

All this portion of Eobert Dennison's deposition could be 
scarcely more than guessed at in the court, for he spoke in an ex- 
cessively low key, and Avith a voice that trembled either with 
feigned or unfeigned agitation. But as soon as Mr Slight com- 
menced his cross-examination, Mr Dennison was forced, agitated 
or not, to be audible. No one knew better how to affect occasional 
deafness than Mr Slight. 'No one knew better than Mr Slight 

" WHERE IS SHE ? " 405 

the effect upon some witnesses of being forced to speak out in a 
tone that the whole court could hear. 

"You parted from the prisoner at Morteville on August the 
first. Will you inform the Court, Mr Dennison, as to the nature 
of yoiu' business in Morteville at that particular time ? " 

" I had no business there at all. I was on my way back from 
Paris to London." 

'' Ah ! And what had been your business in Paris, Mr Denni- 
son? Be careful." 

" I decline answering the question." 

""Were you in the company of the same lady with whom you 
visited Paris in January or February last 1 " 

''I decline entering into my private affairs at all." 

" Very well, sir," cried out Mr Slight, w^ith sudden deadly ani- 
mosity, "then there is one question w-hich this Court will oblige 
you to answer, whether it suits your convenience or not. What 
was the nature of your conversation with Mr Gerald Durant on 
the morning you left Morteville 1 — the conversation you held to- 
gether on the subject of Margaret Hall'?" 

Robert Dennison's face grew, if possible, a shade more livid. 
" I — I do not understand you," he stammered ; bat the moment's 
hesitation gave his brain time to work. . Either Gerald had be- 
trayed him, and fullest exposure was coming on, or Mr Slight was 
fencing with such weapons only as his client's haK-confidence had 
supplied to him. In either case his quick presence of mind coun- 
selled him to answer with honesty. Could a lie have saved him 
he woidd have told it — yes, in the face of a hundred newly-uttered 
oaths ; but the time, he knew, was gone for denial of any kind. 
Truth, plain and literal, was what he was reduced to now ; and, 
boldly-faithful as he was boldly-false, Robert Dennison stood, the 
first momentary irresolution over, prepared to tell it. 

As he stood thus — no abasement in his eyes, no tremble on his 
lips, no token of fear on all the iron face — Gerald felt that he 
admired Dennison as he had never admired him in his life before. 
Talk of pluck ! why his own was nothing, for he was innocent. 
But here was a man guilty of actions which in every class of 
society are branded as infamous — betrayal of the woman w^ho bore 
his name, darkest dishonour in allowing another man to abide the 


consequences of liis act ; and, in a moment, for aught that he 
could know, the fair reputation he set such store upon might be 
spotted — fame, money, position, every dearest hope of his life, 
attainted. And he stood and waited for the blow thus! I 
repeat, Gerald in his heart admired him, as one admires the 
brutal heroes of the ring, for his sheer blind animal strength, un- 
leavened though it was by any of the moral qualities which raise 
a nobler man's courage above the courage of a bull-dog. The 
stamina of the Durants was there, he thought. The poor fellow's 
inadequate sense of finer honour was to be credited more perhaps 
to the base admixture of Dennison blood than to any fault of his. 
Bon sang ne pent pas mentir. There was no virtue in his ever 
acting like a gentleman ; but how can you expect a man without 
a grandfather to know how to conduct himself decently? When 
they were boys together, nice delicacy, even with respect to half- 
crowns, was, he remembered, the one thing he had never looked 
for in his roturier cousin. It was the same now. But the good 
blood showed in the fellow's face and attitude at this moment ; 
and Gerald's heart, his fancy — what was it that fired so easily in 
that facile organization '? warmed towards him. 

"You don't understand me," said Mr Slight, "yet the question 
is a simple one. Can you remember the substance of the convers- 
ation that took place between you and your cousin on the morn- 
ing of your leaving Morteville ? " 

" I can remember the general tenour of it, certainly," said 
Dennison, firmly. "The subject of Margaret Hall's continued 
disappearance was talked of, and I advised Mr Durant to return 
to England at once, and endeavour to prove his innocence in the 
matter. Suspicions had arisen as to his being the companion of 
the girl's flight, and I wished him to set himself right with his 
friends at once." 

"And what was your cousin's answer to this excellent advice?" 

" My cousin's answer was, that he had perfect confidence in his 
innocence eventually asserting itself. As for suspicions, he be- 
lieved they had been very much stronger against myself than 
against him." 

"To Avhich you replied — " 

" In words tliat I cannot consider it necessary to repeat here," 


? '^ 407 

said Dennisoii, Avitli admirable audacity. " I decline, as I liave 
observed, to enter at all upon my own personal affairs." 

i\Ir Sliglit's eye-glass fell ; and he shifted his ground a little. 

"Have you ever stated your conviction to be that Gerald 
Durant was Margaret Hall's lover, and that you had good reasons 
for saying so ? " 

" 'Not in those words, certainly." 

'•Did you state once to Mr Sholto Mclvor that you believed 
Gerald Durant had got into a mess mth his uncle about Margaret 

''I may have said so. I don't recollect it." 

" Have you endeavoured to set right the misunderstanding that 
you say existed between the prisoner and his uncle 1 " 

"I have." 

''Mr Dennison," with an abrupt emphasis that took every one 
in the court aback, " are you — failing the prisoner at the bar — Sir 
John Durant's next male heir ? " 

The inflection of Mr Slight's voice as he said this was something 
wonderful. Eobert Dennison's heart stood still at the terse em- 
bodiment of his own guilty hopes which those few words, spoken 
in that tone, put before him. But rallying instantly, with 
thorough self-command, with a face of marble to the last, he 
answered coldly that he was not and never could be Sir John 
Durant's heir. And then — a sound, not exactly a hiss, but a 
soimd decidedly the reverse of applause following him from the 
com-t — Mr Dennison was allowed to leave the witness-box, and 
poor little Sholto Mclvor was called to take his place there. 

At no time wise or eloquent, Sholto was, on this most memor- 
able day of his life, a very monument of helpless, well-meaning, 
total imbecility. He contradicted himself; he made statements 
cl tort et a travers ; he remembered what he ought to have for- 
gotten ; forgot what he ought to have remembered ; and was al- 
ternately browbeaten by the defence, reprimanded for contempt of 
court by the magistrate, and reminded of the stringency of the law 
against perjury by the prosecution. But bullied by the lawyers, 
and laughed at by the whole court, Gerald included, he succeeded 
in creatiug a stronger impression against the prisoner than any 
witness had yet done. (" Did your Ibest to hang m.e," Gerald tells 


him to this day.) He -was so wholly, so palpahly guileless, it was 
so evident that his sympathies were on the prisoner's side, that 
every admission \ATung from him seemed to cany the kind of 
weight with it that men are prone to accord to the evidence of a 
child. The description of Gerald's manner and appearance when 
he entered his cousin's chamhers ; his altercation with Dennison ; 
the ''cliaff" ahoiit some lady at Morteville ; G-erald's voluntary- 
admission that he had seen " the ghost of a Staffordshire face " 
on London Bridge ; his unusual taciturnity as they drove home 
together to their lodgings in Charges Street — every word that 
Sholto uttered told. And immense was the success of this part 
of the entertainment among the higher class of spectators. With 
a thermometer at ninety-six, and such air to breathe as a London 
police-coiu-t generates, the nerves require relaxation after three or 
four hours' heavy business, even with the prospect of seeing a 
guardsman committed to ISTewgate, to carry one's interest on. 

When he had said his worst on the subject of the dinner-party, 
Sholto was questioned as to Gerald's money difficulties, and again 
did him simply as much damage as was possible. Hard up ? Of 
course, Durant had always been deucedly hard up, like everybody 
else. First heard of his coolness -Nnth his uncle from Mr Dennison 
What was it about ] . . . Would like to know whose businesB that 
was. AYell, then — the bench having sternly interfered — it was 
about a woman, this wretched, ridiculous milkwoman, Margaret 
Hall. What did Sir John Durant threaten 1 AYhy, to disinherit 
him, he supposed. Thought that was what '' uncles and governors 
and that " always threatened. During the last three weeks Durant 
had come right with his people again. Knew it because he had 
written and asked him, Sholto, to be his best man at his approach- 
ing marriage with his cousin. Did they want any better proof 
than that ? 

After Sholto, appeared Mr Bennett; all liis elegant language 
taken out of him, and covered with shame and contrition at 
having to appear against his master. He had very little to tell, 
and that little was terribly in favour of the prosecution. He re- 
tiu-ned with Mr Durant, on August the second, from a tour they 
had been making abroad ; stopped a few days in Paris, and no 
lady was with his master then. Saw his master two or three 

"here!" 409 

times in a lady's society at Morteville ; she crossed to London in 
the Lord of the Isles with them. Saw that she wore a scarlet 
cloak during the latter part of the voyage ; took up lunch to her 
and Mr Dui^ant on the paddle-box, and got out one of his master's 
cambric handkerchiefs for the lady to tie round her head. Yes ; 
the handkerchief shown him was the same; knew it by his 
master's monogram — called by Mr Bennett monograph. The hat 
produced was the kind of hat Mr Durant travelled in, but de- 
clined swearing to it. At the London Bridge station his master 
dismissed him with the luggage, and he left them standing there 
together, Mr Durant and the lady. His master returned home 
between one and two o'clock ; one of the sides of his coat was 
much torn ; he did not bring any hat home with him. Did not 
know the lady's name (this was in answer to Mr Slight). Had 
only lived with Mr Dui'ant four months, and to the best of his 
belief never saw Margaret Hall in his life. 

Then — the formal, official evidence of Mr Wickham having oc- 
cupied a very few minutes only — it was announced that there 
would be a brief adjournment of the court, and that the case for 
the prosecution was closed. 



Every one present detected a marked and signiiicant change 
upon Mr Slight's face when the court reassembled, and whispers 
of good augur for the coming defence were at once passed about 
among the la^vyers. It was already kno^vvn how, immediately 
after the adjournment, Sir John Durant, accompanied by a young 
girl, had arrived and had an interview with Mr Slight ; and how, 
on re-entering the court, Mr Slight had crossed at once to the 
dock and held an earnest whispered conversation with his client. 
It was remarked, how Gerald Durant's face flushed and paled as 
they spoke ; how at first he had appeared eagerly to oppose some 


proposition tliat was being made to him, afterwards — Mr Slight's 
expression brightening every moment — how an unwilling assent 
had evidently been wrung from his hps. And putting all these 
things together, an opinion of good omen for the prisoner was, as 
I have said, fast gaining ground in the court. Old Slight would 
not look so ridiculously pleased without solid cause. Some new 
and important evidence was probably coming to light, at the 
eleventh hour, for the defence. 

The face of the lawyer for the Crown grew ominously long at 
the thought. As the case already stood, they had calculated 
upon getting it over, with half an hour or so to spare, before 
dinner-time. One witness more, on either side, might just make 
the difference of an adjournment till next day ; above all, a Apt- 
ness of sufficient importance to make Slight look so foolishly ex- 
cited. And, with a pathetic yearning for the twenty-four hours of 
blue Italian lake and pure Italian sky that he would be called 
upon to resign, Mr Sleek, like every person present in a state 
bordering on asphyxia, loosened his cravat, leant back Avith half- 
closed eyes in liis seat, and prepared himself for the worst. 

The first welcome sound that fell on his ear was an announce- 
ment that the address made on the prisoner's behalf would be a 
very brief one. It had never, of course, Mr Slight remarked, been 
his intention to assert that his client was innocent of the horrible 
crime laid to his charge. He had not been summoned to his 
present position to assert Mr Durant's innocence ; innocence, ac- 
cording to all civilized laws, being a thing to be presumed — crim- 
inality never ; and the burthen of proof, as it was unnecessary for 
him to say, resting always with the prosecution. In a case of 
purely circumstantial evidence like this, if the facts adduced were 
capable of solution upon any other hypothesis than the guilt of 
tiie accused, they must be discarded : nay, although the matter 
remained so wholly mysterious that no supposition save the 
prisoner's guilt could account for it, that supposition would not 
be basis sufficient on whieh to rest a judgment against him. Be- 
fore committing Gerald Durant for trial for the murder of Mar- 
garet Hall, the bench must be as morally convinced, by the chain 
of evidence brought forward, that he was guilty, as though they 

" HERE ! '' 411 

had seen him commit the act under their oAvn eyes. That chain 
of evidence, he positively affirmed, had never existed ; indeed, he 
did not hesitate to say that the counsel for the Crown were re- 
versing every legal and customary mode of proceeding. Instead 
of proving a murderfirst and discovering the murderer afterwards, 
they were seeking first to prove the murderer and thence to de- 
duce a murder ! It had never, he repeated, been his intention to 
assert his client's innocence ; but, until a quarter of an hour ago, 
he had certainly intended to point out, link by link, the palpable 
weakness of the attempt to prove his guilt : had meant to show 
how revolting to probability, how surrounded at every step with 
contradiction, was the presumption of a murder; while, on the 
other hand, if they yielded to the supposition of suicide, how 
every fact could at once be explained, naturally, and without 

''The necessity for my doing this, however," cried Mr Slight, 
"is now happily removed. I have no longer to allude to the 
paucity of proof that a murder was ever committed at all ; to the 
diffici-dty, I may say impossibility, of such an act of violence 
having taken place imobserved in one of the most crowded 
thoroughfares of London ; to the discrepancy between the person 
of Mr Durant's companion and the person of the deceased; to 
mysterious circumstances respecting which a feeling of honour 
may have caused the prisoner's lips to be sealed. My esteemed 
friend who conducts the prosecution " — here he put up his eye- 
glass and took a glance at Mr Sleek's hot face^^'has proved to us 
that a lady dressed in a scarlet travelling cloak did, on the second 
night of August, cross London Bridge with Mr Gerald Durant. 
This fact it is impossible for me to deny. But my esteemed friend 
also added that, with regard to this lady, he had a question to 
ask; a question which he knew must address itself with irre- 
sistible force to every person in the court — * Where is she 1 ' And 
to this question," went on Mr Slight, speaking in a voice so dis- 
tinct that not a syllable was lost throughout the whole silent 
crowd, " I have one brief and simple answer to make — Here ! 
Here — waiting to be brought into the witness-box and to prove to 
the bench, with certainty unimpeachable, the innocence of the 


accused ! At twenty minutes past ten on the night of August tLa 
second, the death of IMargaret Hall, according to the evidence uf 
-witnesses for the prosecution, took i^lacc. At twenty minutes pas! 
ten, Gerald Durant stood beside the lady whom I am now goinf 
to bring before you, on the platform of the South Eastern Eail-] 
way, at London Bridge." 

A smothered exclamation, half of approval, half of sheer stupe 
fied surprise, burst from the crowd. Perhaps it would not be toe 
much to say that an unacknowledged sense of disappointment did, 
for a moment, cross the minds of most of the spectators of the 
play : the kind of feeling people have when a fire is put out sooner" 
than was expected, or when an impending fight ends unexpectedly 
in the combatants seeing their error and shaking hands. No one 
wanted Gerald Durant to be hung, or even committed, as far as 
he, poor fellow, was individually concerned. But every one who 
had fought his or her way into the court, every one who had gone 
through the heat and burthen of the day, did expect some good 
strong sensation as the reward of their sulferings. And tlie 
proving of an alibi — even with a young and pretty woman in the 
witness-box — coidd never be one half so sensational an incident 
as to see a handsome guardsman, the heir of an old unsidlied 
name, committed for trial, and borne away to Newgate like any 
common felon. 

• This was the fii'st feeling of the coarser crowd ; but in one breast 
in that court a feeling, almost tragic in its intensity of disappoint- 
ment, had arisen at Mr Slight's last words. Mr Wickham, his face 
unmoved as ever, was standing edgeways in one of the crowded 
entrances to the court, listening with the indifference engendered 
by long habit to the little stereotyped preamble about the certainty 
of the prisoner's innocence, when that one awfully distinct 
monosyllable, "Here," broke in upon his senses; and in a mo- 
ment, mechanical though his attention had been, he recalled the 
drift of Mr Slight's whole address, and understood its meaning. 
The defence was going to prove an alibi. Mr Wickham in his 
inmost sold staggered as if he had got a deathstroke. An alibi ! 
He was like a man to whom a flaw in his noblest belief, his dear- 
est affection, has been imexpectedly discovered; like the chef 

"here!" 413 

whose Avoimded spiiit could not survive tlie disgrace of tliat one 
spoilt salmi ! The London Bridge case had been the culminating 
triumph of Mr Wickham's life. He had received the compliments 
of those high in office, had awakened the jealousy of his peers, by 
the way in which he had worked that case up. The remembrance 
of it was to have been the solace of his superannuated years, an 
honourable heirloom to leave to his children after him. And here, 
in a moment, through some paltry miscalculation, some miserable 
law^^er's sleight-of-hand, his crown was to be wrested from him by 
an alibi. Any other defeat he thought he might have borne 
better, but — an alibi ! An alibi, cooked up at the last ; an alibi 
which, if established — and something on Mr Slight's face left little 
ground for hope that the defence was a sham — would turn the 
whole prosecution into a ridiculous mistake, and reduce the very 
name of Wickham into a reproach and a byword in the profession. 

Circiunstances unnecessary to dilate upon, proceeded Mr Slight's 
cheerful voice, had conspired together to hinder this most im- 
portant witness for the defence from appearing until the last mo- 
ment ; and it was doubtless a painful reflection for the officers of 
the Crown "to feel that, had a longer delay occurred, a committal 
condemning an innocent man to imprisonment, and casting a 
stigma upon a loyal and unspotted name, would have been the 
result of the spirit in which the prosecution has been conducted. 
Happily, providentially, all danger of this fearful injustice was 
past ; and the welcome duty that now lay before the bench was 
the restoration of an honourable man, without suspicion, without 
the faintest stain of any kind upon his character, to his position 
and his friends. 

A long low murmur, a murmur of intense, irrepressible excite- 
ment, passed for a minute or two through the court, then slowly 
the door of the witness-box opened, and a girl appeared there ; a 
girl dressed in white, with long hair falling round her neck, with 
a child's freshness on her lips and in her eyes ; the fairest appari- 
tion that had brightened those unlovely walls any time duriug the 
last five-and-twenty years at least. She moved a step or two for- 
ward, with the uncertain reeling movement of one who walks in 
his sleep, then shrank away against the ^de of the witness-box. 


and — a frightful pallor gathering round her lips — looked -with be-j 
wildered eyes about her. 

"Your name?" said Mr Slight, unconsciously modulating his^ 
voice to the tone he would have used had he been seeking to re-j 
assure a very frightened child. "What is your name? !Now| 
take time to recover yourself." 

She started and clasped her hands together, with the little 
foreign gesture so painfully familiar to the eyes of two men whc 
were watching her in that court ; but though her lips parted, n( 
sound as yet reached the impatient ears of the crowd ; and for the] 
third time, with ever-increasing gentleness and encouragement, Mrj 
Shght repeated his question. 

Just at this moment a ray of sunshine struggled in through one 
of the high barred windows of the court, and falling, as it chanced, 
straight across the prisoner's dock, brought out, in fidlest golden 
relief, the pale and eager face of Gerald Durant. At the sight of 
him a wonderful, sudden light rose in the girl's eyes. She stood 
a second or more motionless ; a scarlet flood rusliing across her 
cheeks and forehead ; then stepped forward, and in a clear vibrat- 
ing voice — a voice which for an instant touched the heart even of 
that police-court crowd — gave her answer : 

"Archie Lovell." 


Archie's ovation. 


From the moment that she left the Euston Square Station until 
now, Archie Lovell had realized nothing of what was going on 
around her. The drive along the noisy city streets ; the crowded 
entrance of the court : the room where she had had her interview 
^vith Mr Slight ; the passages along which they had led her next ; 
the door through which some voice had bade her pass ; the moment 
when she found herself in that sickening atmosphere, before that 

Archie's ovation. 415 

pale and surging mass of hiunan faces : — of all this slie had taken 
note accurately, as far as external detail went, but witli no more 
vivid sense of its connection with, herself than if it had been the 
shifting, unreal background of a dream. Until the moment when 
she saw Gerald, it seemed as though some one else were really- 
acting out for her the final scene of her sacrifice, and as though" 
she were being carried blindly along in it, a mere passive, stupe- 
fied spectator. Then in one sudden, mighty wave, swept back 
across her brain the meaning, the purpose, the present shame, the 
future penalty, of all this that she was doing. She was neither 
dreaming nor at play — the two states that had compassed every 
act of her little life till now. An innocent man was standing 
before her, charged with a crime from which, no matter at what 
price, her duty was to save him ; and she had got to speak the 
truth — this Mr Slight had told her— nothing but the truth, and 
to fear no one, not even the magistrate upon the bench, but answer 
soberly and faithfully whatever questions were put to her. She 
clenched her fingers firmly upon the palms of her hands ; held her 
breath tight ; felt herself blinded by a dark red mist that for a 
second swam before her sight ; then rallied every faculty she pos- 
sessed in one desperate effort, and told her name. After this Mr 
Slight at once began her examination^ and throughout it all she 
kept her head erect and spoke out clear, cool, and undaunted, just 
as she had spoken when she was eleven years old, saving Tino 
from Bettina's wrath. The sea of faces before which she had 
shrunk mth the mere animal terror that overcomes any one for 
the first time confronting a crowd, seemed to lessen and fade away, 
and in its place she saw two faces only j Mr Slight's, who ques- 
tioned her, and Gerald's — his whom she was here to save. What 
was there to make her fear or falter now 1 

She was seventeen on the twelfth of last October. Her father 
was the Honourable Frederick Lovell, Eector of Hatton, in Staf- 
fordshire. First knew Mr Durant about four weeks ago, in 
Morteville-sur-Mer. " I met him a few times on the Greve, and 
went to a ball, and danced ■svith him ; I think I knew him very 
well. On the second of August Mr Durant left Morteville, and 
I went doAvn on the pier to see him off. Papa and Bettina were 


away from home, and the servant too, and no one knew I went. 
I wanted to see a steamer, and asked ]\Ir Durant to take me on 
board Avith him. He took me, and the boatman was stupid and 
left me there, and before we knew where we were the steamer had 
started, and the captain woiddn't stop. Mr Durant was very 
sorry about it, and said I should land at Calais, and get back by 
another boat to !Morteville ; but when we reached Calais, there 
were a number of people I knew standing on the pier, and I was 
ashamed to land among them — so we came on to London. It 
wasn't ]\Ir Durant's fault more than mine. I ought to have 
landed at Calais, but I was ashamed ... at all events, we went 
on ! I liked being at sea. I liked being with Mr Durant — ccco ! 
The wind was fresh going across, and a lady on deck lent me her 
cloak. It was a scarlet cloak ; I should know it if I saw it again. 
Yes," after examining the cloak which was handed to her, *' this: 
is the same. It is changed in colour, I think ; it looks as if it had 
been in the water. "When we got to London I was confused in 
the great crowd, and forgot to return the cloak — I meant no rob- 
bery, I only forgot it. We went to a station, Mr Durant and I, 
and had some tea ; then he took me for a walk on London Bridge. 
Mr Durant asked me to drive with him and see the streets, but I 
was afraid there wouldn't be time before the train left, so we 
walked instead. I was to go back, to Folkestone by the half-past 
ten train. When we were on the bridge, a crowd got round us, 
and in the z^iffa I lost Mr Durant's arm. Some men molested 
me because I spoke Italian, I think, and Mr Durant knocked one 
of them down. The man bled and looked hurt, and then JMr 
Durant's coat got torn, and his hat w^as lost. It was a peaked 
hat, such as I have seen the peasants wear in the Tyrol. The hat 
you show me is like it — how can I swear it is the same ? — it is 
like it. Then came the polizia — police, you say — and sent the 
crowd away. One of the police stopped and looked at Mr Durant 
and me. He said nothing, but he looked at us hard. Am I to 
know if he saw my face 1 We walked on over the bridge and 
crossed, so as to see the other side of London, on our way back. 
As we came, I saw a woman in one of the little angoU on the 
bridge. Eecesses ? weU, tlien, in one of the recesses. She was 

Archie's ovation. 417 

tliinly dressed, and was sitting ^vitll lier head leaning against the 
wall. I thought she was ill, and asked Mr Durant to let me give 
her the cloak. I don't say that it was out of kindness, it was, 
chiefly, I think because I wanted to get rid of the cloak — I should 
have been ashamed to land in it at Morteville. Mr Durant said 
no, I shouldn't give it her, but I had my way, and went up and 
spoke to the woman. I saw her face, plain. Mr Durant stood 
a few steps awsij. I can't tell whether he saw her — I should 
think not — he may have had a glimpse of her ... I would rather 
you asked me questions about myself ! She was young, and good 
looking — about twenty, perhaps, with pale skin, and black hair 
and eyebrows. I remember her quite well. I saw her hands : 
they did not look like a lady's hands. I asked her if she would 
talce the cloak, and when she didn't speak, I put it round her and 
fastened it at the throat. She tried to answer then, but there was 
something thick and strange about the way she spoke, and I did 
not understand her. I don't know what was the matter mth her 
— how should I ? I believe I left a handkerchief of Mr Durant's 
in the pocket of the cloak. The handkerchief you show me is 
exactly like it : I tell by the batiste, and the lilac stitching round the 
letters. I can't swear that it is the same : a whole set of hand- 
kerchiefs might be marked the same. Just after we were walk- 
ing on again, the clocks in London struck one — that was a quarter- 
past ten, Mr Durant told me, and we must get on quick. The 
train I went by left at half -past ten, and Mr Durant stayed by 
the carriage where I was till the last. I heard no clocks strike : 
I heard the conductor say we were five minutes behind our time. 
Then I went away home. I got to Morteville very early in the 
morning, and no one I knew, except Captain Waters, saw me land 
on the pier. Papa did not return home till the middle of the day. 
I have never told him anything about my going to London. I 
told my stepmother about it the same afternoon, and she said I 
must never talk of it to any one. I never should have told, but 
for this : when Mr Durant was first taken up, I did not mean to 
tell. I don't know whether I thought he would get clear without 
me : I know I did not mean to tell. I was at Durant's Court 
when some one came to take him to London, and Mr Durant told 

2 E 


me then to keep silent, whatever happened, and he would never 
betray me. I had not made up my mind to tell till last night. 
I don't know what decided me. I never spoke to Eettina, or to 
papa about coming. Mr Gerald Durant is engaged to marry liis 
cousin Lucia. He was never engaged to me. No ; it is certainly 
not for Miss Durant's sake that I have told the truth : I care very- 
little about her ... I cannot answer you. I don't know why I 
have told it." 

And here Mr Slight stopped ; and, by order of the .magistrate, 
Mrs Dawson was recalled into the witness-box. 

At the sight of the girl who stood there — the resurrection, as it 
seemed to her, of the dead — dressed exactly as she had seen her 
that day, on the deck of the Lord of the Isles, Mrs Dawson gave 
a start and a half-scream that, before she had uttered a word, bore 
incontestable evidence to the truth of all Archie Lovell had said. 
Did she know the young lady at her side "? Ay, indeed she did : 
could not be surer if it was her own daughter she had to answer 
to. This was Mr Durant's companion — the girl to whom she lent 
the cloak on board the steamer. Would swear most positively to 
it on oath. It was not a face likely to be forgotten. Told the 
Court in her evidence — with a look of triumph at both la^vyers — 
that the young lady had light brown hair and blue eyes. Could 
not help it if she had been " that cross-questioned and mortified " 
at the time, as to make her hardly know herself wliich way she 
was swearing. Mr Slight now wrote something on a slip of paper, 
which was handed by one of the officers of the court to the magis- 
trate ; and a minute or two later — Archie standing there still — 
*'Mr Edward Eandall" was re-summoned to take his place in the 

If ever a man on earth was placed in a position likely to end in a 
committal for perjury, it was Captain Waters at this moment : 
and he read his danger at a glance. His threats to Archie, the 
anonymous bribe to silence that he had accepted, the truths which 
two hours before he had in this court suppressed — every detail of 
his situation came clear before his mind with his first hurried look 
at Archie Lovell's face. Some melodramatic outburst of generosity 
had brought the girl forward after all ; and (following the law 
by which innocence and virtue are ever trampled upon in this 


world) he was to "be the sufferer. And he put np his eye-glass 
calmly; stroked down his blonde moustache with his delicate, 
paste-decked fingers, and looked round at the magistrate, lawj^ers, 
and the rest, just in the same quiet, unmoved way with which he 
Avas accustomed to read the faces of the adversary, and the 
adversary's gallery at ecarte. He had not much to lose — even in 
such a moment as this the thought crossed Waters' mind. • To 
some men, a conviction for perjury might be the loss of friends, 
reputation, ambition, money : to him it would be — what ? Not 
even the loss which, to his judgment, seemed immeasurably the 
most important in the scale, money. Imprisonment cost one 
nothing, and was no greater bore than liberty ; nay, as he knew 
from experience, it sent a man back, sometimes, with nerves 
strengthened by early hours and abstinence from tobacco, to the 
accustomed duties of his life. If the worst came to the worst, he 
would still, at the end of a few months, more or less, be the exact 
amount of money which he had received from Gerald Durant to 
the good. The game had been well played ; and, whether the last 
deal went against him or not, he had the calm assurance of his 
own conscience to tell him that he had reckoned up the odds with 

And he came admirably through it all ! Came through it as it 
is very doubtful that a better man would have done. Perhaps the 
season of the year, and the unparalleled heat of this particular 
day, may have been the chosen instruments by which the gods of 
Captain Waters' faith saw fit to deliver him. With a city court- 
house at ninety-six, in August, few magistrates or lawyers would 
seek to protract their own suffering by probing the exactitude of 
a comparatively unimportant witness too narrowly. Sldmming 
lightly, and with delicate adroitness, over the Calais episode, Mr 
Slight extracted an admission from the witness, that he had seen 
Miss Lovell, the young lady who stood beside him now, land 
alone at Morteville, on the morning of August the third. And 
after this, without a word of cross-examination. Captain Waters 
passed away out of the witness-box, passed away, too, for ever out 
of the record of Archie Lovell's life. 

[That I may not have to stain the last and fairest chapter of my 

2 E 2 


story by the mention of him, I will say here that he was seen last 
autumn at Hombui'g ; a jewelled chevalier of industry no longer, 
but one of the scantily-paid servants of the public tables ; in which 
capacity — unless ill-health shoidd chance to bring him lower still — 
his life "\^all probably be passed. Paralysis, the !N'emesis of such 
men, seized Waters within a few months of the day of Gerald's 
trial ; and taking from liim nerve, memory, power of combination 
— the mental stock-in-trade of his craft — left him just bodily 
strength enough to fidfil the duties of a croupier. Ralph Seton 
was the man who saw him thus at Homburg ; and at the pitying 
request of a soft voice at his side, managed to slip a napoleon or 
two into the sickly attenuated hand, not engaged at the moment 
with the professional rateau : a kindness Avhich, coming from the 
source it did, made something very like tears rise into the poor 
wretch's eyes. " And which shows he is not altogether worth- 
less," the soft voice said to Ralph, when they came out from the 
crowded Kur Saal into the blue German night. " 'No man, unless 
he had some good left in him, would be touched by a kindness ! " 
A purely womanly inference, which Ralph would not for worlds 
have shattered by remarking how a scoundtal brought, by smoking 
and alcohol, to the state of "Waters, will shed tears of maudlm 
gratitude over your charity at one moment, and betray or revile 
the hand that has assisted him at the next ! ] 

The examination was virtually over. Already the crowd was 
beginning to move ; already the lawyers for the crown, and for the 
defence, indifferently, were congratulating each other, with bright- 
ened faces, upon the termination in one day of the inquiry. In a 
few emphatic words, the magistrate then pronounced the discharge 
of the prisoner, ''without a blot, or the suspicion of a blot, upon 
his honour : " and almost before Archie Lovell, confused and fiiint, 
had left the witness-box, a prolonged irrepressible outburst of 
applause from the court, told her that the work she had set herself 
to do was accomplished — Gerald Durant free. 

In performing any act heroic to ourselves we are apt to gauge 
the effect it will produce on others by the effect that it produces 
on our own imagination beforehard. That her future life was to 
be irrevocably darkened, Archie had never doubted ; but that, in 

Archie's ovation. 421 

the first hour of her victory over self, men would appreciate her 
heroism she had felt equally sure. In what form this hero-worship 
would be laid at her feet she had not speculated ; she had felt only 
that it must be accorded to her. What was the triumph that she 
met with in reality 1 Flushed, weary, bewildered, she found her- 
self, after traversing a dark noisome room or two, with the other 
discharged witnesses, among the crowd — such a crowd as only a 
disgorging London court can show ; a crowd of sallow-faced men 
and women, whose jokes defiled her ears, Avhose touch was 
abhorrent to her ; men and women bandying vile police-court jests 
together, and to whose lips her o"wii name — with what a shudder 
she heard it there ! — was already familiar. Her heart died within 
her j she shrank back against tho black, polluted wall nearest to 
which she stood, and pulled her veil down over her face. This 
was her reward, she felt. She had sacrificed the happiness of her 
whole life freely, and even in this first moment after the accom- 
plishment of the sacrifice, was forgotten. Gerald, Sir John 
Durant, Ealph Seton, were thinking, joyfully no doubt, of the 
cause that had been won ; and she who had won it was standing 
here alone — a thousand times worse than alone : was standing 
among a coarse and cruel crowd, in her shame ! 

Just at this moment a kind voice whispered in her ear, a 
friendly hand took hold of hers, and drew it within the shelter of 
a stalwart, untrembling arm. 

" Keep along with me, my dear, and you'll be all right. There's 
my cousin 'Melia's husband waiting for me down by the steps — 
the little man with the black hatband— and he'll get us into a cab, 
and see us to the station comfortable, if so be that you don't mind 
riding with us under the circumstances." 

It was not Gerald, it was not Ealph, but the homely farmer's 
wife from Heathcotes who had been the first to come to her 
succour. With the timely aid of 'Melia's husband they struggled 
their way at last through the crowd ; and just as Gerald was 
leaving the court, his friends pressing round to shake his hand 
and congratulate him, the poor little heroine of the day, more dead 
than living, was being driven from its door, with the yells and 
laughter and brutal jokes of the mob for her ovation. 




Of all the conflicting emotions called into play by the unex- 
pected ending of Gerald Durant's examination — ^from the childish, 
tearful delight of poor old Sir John, down to the blank profes- 
sional disappointment of Inspector Wickham, the emotions of 
Eobert Dennison would be, perhaps, the hardest of analysis. 

Paradoxical though it may sound, his first sensation was one of 
positive relief. "Was a lurking, human remorse towards Gerald tlie 
cause of this 1 had his quick brain foreseen fresh combinations of 
possible danger to himself in the event of his cousin's committal 1 
or was it simply the physical reaction which good and bad human 
creatures alike are sensible of when, after acute mental tension, 
the end comes, and suspense, at least, is over ? Eobert Dennison 
himself could scarcely have answered this as he left the police- 
court, leaning back out of men's sight in the corner of his cab, and 
screening away with his hand the bright evening sunshine from 
his eyes. All he knew was that he felt relieved ! that he had ex- 
changed the pestilential air of the court and witness-room for the 
purer one of the streets, and was returning home now to change 
his dress, and take his bath before dinner. And then it first 
occurred to him that he had not swallowed food to-day ; had 
scarcely eaten, had never slept an hour of wholesome sleep during 
the past week ; and with a childish interest, very unlike himself, 
Mr Dennison fell to wondering whether he would dine weU this 
evening, and on what dishes? and whether, if he went to bed 
early — -by eleven or twelve o'clock, say — there would be a chance 
of his getting a good night's rest at last 1 A worn-out brain and 
empty stomach seldom admit of much grandiloquence in our 
thoughts or in our sufferings just at first. 

He got home, took a couple of glasses of sherry, dressed, went 
out, and dined ; and by eight o'clock had returned to his chambers, 
and was sitting by that window where he had sat and watched 
the river on the morning after Maggie's death ; the window from 
whence he had heard the children's voices at the moment when 


he was nerving himself to look over and destroy the last mute 
mementos of his dead love for her. Had his love been ever utterly 
and indeed dead? he asked himself; for now that mere animal 
exhaustion was passed, memory and remorse had arisen, like giants 
refreshed, to torture him again. His passionate fancy for her had 
cooled, of course, as all fancies for beautiful toys cool in posses- 
sion; and he had wronged her cruelly, and her death, however 
men might think, lay (and his heart knew it !) at his door. But 
love — ^had he not in truth loved her 1 "Would he not at this mo- 
ment give up years of life could he but feel the warm hand still 
in his, but see the faithful womanly face looking, as it used to 
look, in perfect, blissful, slavish contcDtment up to his? Some- 
thing within his heart cried yes. Loss of friends and reputation 
here in England ; alienation from his uncle and his uncle's money ; 
the uphill prospect of making liimseK another name elsewhere, all 
these seemed as nothing to him now. In this hour, this first hour 
of what he knew was to be in some measure a new life — the com- 
mon human nature of the man, the weakness on aU exemption 
from which he w^as wont to pride himself, sheer craving desire for 
sympathy in his desolation, overcame him. The dark heart, as in 
Herod of old, bled for what it had destroyed ; cried out, with 
vain and passionate regret, for the love that it had murdered. 

He had a cigar between his lips when he first placed himself at 
the window, but it burnt out, and it did not seem to occur to him 
to light it, or to take another. His servant, as usual, had placed 
some wine and brandy on the table at his master's side ; but 
Dennison drank nothing. Stimulants, taken even in a quantity 
that would have set most men's brains perforce to rest, would but 
have stimulated his to keener thought ; and he had the wisdom 
to abstain from them. God knows he needed no sharpening of 
his faculties ! needed no whetstone for his remorse — no new vivid- 
ness added to the pictured face that, white and haggard, and 
with wan, beseeching eyes, seemed to stand before him every- 
where — everywhere, in the waning twilight ! 

It was liis first hour of pure, concentra.ted suflering since 
iSIaggie's death, for dread of suspicion resting on himseK at first, 
anxiety later in the result of Gerald's trial, had until now held 
every other motive in abeyance ; and he suffered, as he did most 

424 Archie lovell. 

things, ^vith liis might, with brains ! Good, diffuse, kindl}^ 
natures, prone to bleed a dozen times a week, can, perhaps, hardly 
estimate to what extent an intensely selfish man like this softens 
when three or four times in a life the flinty heart is smitten, and 
the floodgates of the soul are loosed. 

A little after nine came a ring at his chambers door. The boy, 
in obedience to his master's commands, told the visitor, whose face 
he did not by this light distinguish, that [Mr Dennison had busi- 
ness, and could not be disturbed. 

" Mr Dennison will see me, Andrew," answered a voice, cheer- 
fully, a voice that Eobert Dennison, even through the closed doors, 
had heard and recognized in a moment. Immediately afterwards a 
well-known step — with triumph, hope, light-heartedness, Dennison 
felt bitterly, in its tread — came along the j^assage, and Gerald 
Durant, unannounced, walked into his room, and up to his side. 

" Congratulate me, Eobert ! " he said, taking hold of his 
cousin's hand, and grasping it heartily, whether Dennison willed it 
or not. '' Things have gone better than could have been hoped for 
with every one, after all." 

" Well, that depends upon whom you mean by ' every one,' " 
said Dennison, in his coldest voice, and freeing his hand abruptly 
from Gerald's warm grasp. " Does ' every one ' mean you, or the 
little girl who came forward to save you 1 Scarcely her, I suppose? " 

"I did not mean her, certainly, Eobert, but even with Miss 
Lovell things have, in one sense, gone well. To a noble nature 
like hers the exposure of to-day is, I verily believe, better than 
living through a life of hypocrisy, as the poor little thing must 
have done if she hadn't had the courage to come forward, and 
speak the truth." 

Eobert Dennison laughed : the old cynical laugh with which 
he was accustomed to receive any of what he called Gerald's 
heroics. " ^sToble nature, hypocrisy, courage! What fine words you 
always have at command, Gerald ! How charmingly clear it always 
is to you that every woman must be right in sacrificing herself for 
the beaux yeux of IMr Gerald Durant ! I need scarcely ask," he 
added, " how Miss Lo veil's heroism, nobility, and courage will be 
rewarded 1 With her name compromised as it is, I need scarcely 


ask if you mean to give up Lucia — fifty thousand pounds and all — 
and make Miss LoveU your wife 1 "' 

At the tone of Eobert Dennison's voice, at tho cold reception 
that it was evident he intentionally gave him, Gerald moved a step 
or two away from his side ; and leaning his arm up against the 
wall beside the window, tiu'ned his face slightly from his cousin. 
As he stood thus, the gracefid profile of his head and face showed, 
in clear silhouette, against the pure grey of the evening sky ; and 
Dennison felt how he hated, how he abhorred, its beauty ! He 
had never loved Gerald from the moment of his birth. As a child, 
a boy, a man, he had been jealous of every good thing which had 
been accorded to this easy, careless, unambitious nature, and denied 
to himself; but he had never positively loathed him until this 
moment. For now Gerald had committed the one offence which, 
to a heart like Dennison's, is beyond forgiveness : had treated him 
with generosity ! 

" You don't answer, Gerald. I suppose my question about Miss 
Lovell was an indiscreet one for me to ask, eh 1 " 

'' It certainly is not the subject which I came here to speak 
about," answered Gerald ; " but if you really care to have an 
answer, I'll give it you in two words. Miss Lovell " — with a sort 
of effort he brought this out — '• will never be my wife ! " 

" Ah, so I thought. The honour of having saved you must be 
her reward ! We ^^nll speak no more of her. And what is the 
subject, then, as love matters are too sacred for us to handle, to 
which I am indebted for the pleasure of seeing you 1 " 

Dennison's tone and manner were unmistakably those of a man 
determined to quarrel ; but Gerald kept his temper admirably. 
Incapable though he was of thoroughly fathoming the depths of 
that sombre nature, he knew enough of it to sympathize with the 
miserable position of humiliated pride in which Dennison at this 
hour must feel himseK to stand ; and pitied him from his heart. 

"There is much to be said between us, Eobert, and — and I 
thought it might be as well got over to-night. K you don't care 
to be disturbed, though, I can go away, and come another time." 

"N'o, no," interrupted Dennison, brusquely. "I^^o other time 
for me, thank you. I know pretty well what you've come here 


about, and I'd rather have it out at once. * After the late painful 
circumstances, the honour of the Durants, of Mr Gerald Durant 
esi^ecially, requires a more complete vindication. Sooner than sidly 
the honour of his family, and the sacredness of his own word, he 
did not betray the secret of a certain ill-born cousin of his, when 
by betraying it he could have insured his o^v^l safety. A^Tiat he 
now demands is that this plebeian connection shall betray liimself, 
and, having named his price for doing so, engage to go quietly out 
of the country, and disturb the peace and honour of his family no 
more. V .Cm-se it — speak out, can't you ! " he exclaimed, mth sul- 
len passion, as Gerald continued silent. " You know yoiu? lesson, 
and I'm sure I've made it easy enough for you to say." 

Then Gerald turned round, and faced Dennison full. " I don't 
think that I deserve this tone from you, Robert ; upon my soul, I 
don't ! I've kept pretty staunch to you throughout, as you know, 
and what I want now is, that everything that must be said be- 
tween us should be said in a friendly spirit : said as it ought to 
be," he added, kindly, " between two men brought up, as we were, 
to look upon each other as brothers." 

" Afterwards ! You can suppose all tliis sort of preamble said, 
please. Afterwards ! What is it that you want from me ] "What 
has brought you here now % " 

And thus forced to use plain language ; seeing, too, the temper 
of the man he had to deal with — but still with hesitation, still in 
the softest, most generous, words that he could choose — Gerald 
spoke. Up to this moment he had not mentioned to any living 
man one word of his cousin's marriage ; but the time had come 
when, for other interests as well as his own, it was simply just 
that the truth should be made known : not publicly, of necessity, 
but among themselves — to Sir John and Lady Durant, and to 
Lucia. He thought he had a right to demand this ; and in return 
imdertook to promise that no estrangement between Dennison and 
any member of the family should be the result. " You've suffered 
bitterly enough abeady, Eobert," he finished, his voice trembling 
with earnestness; "and among all of us who care for you, the 
past shall be as much dead as though it had never been. The 
only braius we have among us are in your head, and if you want 
anything that Sir John's interest could do, I know right well — " 


"If anytMng that Sir Joka's interest could do," interrupted 
Dennison, slowly and distinctly; " if — if anything that the interest 
of every Durant who ever lived could do, was put before me at 
this instant, I should refuse it. Family interest, family name, 
honour, money, are for you. I wish you joy of them. Do you 
think I can't foresee all your delightful future life ? " he added, 
with cutting irony. " Married to Lucia, and bored to death by 
her ; taking a row of Lucia's children to church, to set a good ex- 
ample in yoiu' jjarish ; cringing to constituents ; yawning through 
debates in the House, about which you know nothing, and for 
which you care less ; increasing domination of your wife, port 
wine, gout, and a place in the family vault ! This, my poor 
Gerald, ^vill be your life, and it will suit you. Only don't think I 
wish to encroach upon any of the prerogatives that are yoiu's by 

But still no sarcasm rose to Gerald's lips ; no taunt as to how 
Eobert Dennison had once desired these things, and had failed in 
the attainment of them. Men speak strongly about the things for 
which they care in earnest. Money, respectability, a seat in Par- 
liament, would (could he have possessed them) have been Den- 
nison's gods ; and their forfeiture fired him into passion. The 
prospect of inheriting them all touched Gerald Diu'ant with no 
thrill of pleasure whatsoever. A dinner in good company at the 
Maison Dorm ; a hard run, well mounted ; a voice like Patti's ; a 
pair of blue eyes like Archie Lovell's : these were the only tilings 
in life that his pleasure-loving nature ever coveted, and in his 
heart there was not one feeling of exultation over his approaching 
good fortune or of anger against Robert for his depreciation of it. 
IN'ay, in his heart, were the very truth told, he half envied his 
roturier cousin at this moment — for he was free, still ! 

'' And what are your prospects then, Robert % After the delight- 
ful sketch you have given of my life — for which I am so well 
suited — it is fair, I think, that you should give me a fellow-picture 
of your own. You are not going to marry your first cousin, cer- 
tainly, but in what other respects will your life be so very much 
freer from the common bore and weariness of living than mine % " 

" Simply in this — and to you, perhaps, the words contain less 
meaning than they do to me : I shall be my own master ! The 


bread that my own right hand earns for me 1 shall eat, unem- 
bittered by the thought that I have sold my life and manhood to 
buy it. You understand ? " 

" I hear you," 

" As to my prospects, they can be told in a few words — ^joyful 
words for you to bear to Durant's Court to-morrow, or whenevor 1 
you go there next ! In a fortnight I shall have left England, anl 
all of you, for ever." 

"Left England? Eobert, this is madness — the mere over- 
wrought feeling of the moment." 

"It is nothing of the kind," interrupted Dennison, curtly. 
"jMonths ago I knew that there was an opening for me in Mel- 
bourne, and it suits my convenience now to accept it. 'Tis no 
place of honour, Gerald," he added, with a bitterness of tone 
impossible to dissemble. "Xo post that any of the family will 
care to boast a relation, unhappily near to them in blood, fills ! 
One of the contributors to the principal Melbourne paper was 
killed in a street-quarrel a few months ago, and the editor sent an 
offer to the writer of certain articles in one of the London reviews 
to replace him. That writer was myself. JSTow you know my 
prospects, and also how very unprofitable even the highest county 
interest would be to me for the future ! jSTo, thank you," for 
Gerald w^as about, eagerly, to speak ; " I don't even want money. 
A couple of flannel shirts, a coat, revolver, and bowie-knife, are 
about as much as a Melbourne penny-a-liner need possess ! If I'm 
not stabbed, like my predecessor, I haven't much doubt about 
earning money enough to live upon, and if I am — at least I slian't 
lie under the weight of family marble