(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Duke's secret"



\ 



^ 




1» 




% 



f 



li 



Digitized by tine Internet Archive 

in 2007 witii funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



0- 



littp://www.arcln ive.org/details/dukessecretOObramiala 



The Duke's Secret 



BY 



CHARLOTTE M. BRAEME 

Author of "Dora Thorne," "Thrown on the World," "His 
Mother's Sin," Etc. 



NEW YORK 
HURST & COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



THE DUKE'S SECRET. 



PROLOGUR 

I^T Mni7.\, Duchess of Castlemayne, sat alone in hei 
boudoir at Rood Castle, and few women in England were 
more proud, more handsome and stately than her grace; 
she had not met even with the traditional rose-leaf; her 
life had been one of uninterrupted prosperity and bril- 
liancy; she was born a beauty and an heiress. From the 
time she lay in her cradle a bab}-, with a face like a rose- 
bud, until now — a woman, in all the plentitude of her 
charms — she had known no sorrow, no care, no want 
The daughter and heiress of the grand old race of Motmt 
Severns, the last of a long and illustrious line, its proud 
spirit seemed to be concentrated in her. As a girl she 
was beautiful to a wonder, with the dark, imperial love- 
liness that one gives to an empress; with her beauty, title, 
rank and wealth, she was entitled to marry more than 
well, and she made the best match of the day. From a 
host of lovers she chose the young Duke of Castlemayne. 
He was singularly handsome in person and immensely 
rich. Besides an enormous rent-roll, he had the vast 
accumulations of a long minority; and when he came of 
age his was a fortune a king might have envied. Then, 
from being the most lovely girl in the kingdom, she be- 
came the most beautiful and popular woman. Always 
proud, haughty and stately, there was a grace and fasci- 
nation in her manner which no one could resist. Wealth, 
honors, favors, homage, jvimiration were lavished on her. 
She was for many years the queen of society. Her hus- 
band worshiped her, and she governed him completely. 
She had ouq son, who b^lieyed in her as h9 did in HeavAik 

2134484 '■ 



4 THE DUKE'S SECRET. 

and stood almost as much in awe of her. The world lay 
at her f^et; her every wish was law; her every caprice, 
whim and desire gratified; her every thought and word 
accepted as the Medes and Persians accepted their laws. 
No one had ever contradicted or thwarted her. She had 
never heard a rough or unkind word; and now, on this 
beautiful July morning, she sits in the midst of her mag- 
nificence, face to face with the first trouble of her life. 

Her first trouble; and the duchess does not bear it 
well She looks troubled and anxious. It had always 
been a very easy matter for her to manage her husband, 
but this trouble concerned her son, and he was not quite 
so easy to manage. She looks hke a picture just stepped 
from its frame; her dress of black velvet falls in royal 
folds, the lace on her head is costly enough for a queen, 
her white hands shine with gems. She is surroimded by 
magnificence of every kind. Yet on the white, impassive 
brow there are lines never seen before. 

" My only son," she said to herself, " the only hope of 
bis race. My handsome, noble boy." 

There was passionate pain and passionate love in the 
voice as she uttered the words, for the proud, beautiful 
duchess loved her son with a force and intensity that 
love seldom reaches. She took up a book, scanned the 
pages, then replaced it 

" I must do it," she said to herself, " uetter now than 
later in the day, when Herbert is about. He is so weak 
and so impressionable that if the girl cries he would not 
have the nerve to act so promptly. Oh, my son, my son 1" 

She touched a Httle silver gong that stood on the table 
by her side, and the next minute the footman entered the 
room. 

" Tell Miss Wynter I wish to see her here, and at once," 
said her grace, and the messenger hastened to obey. 
Prompt obedience was part of that well-trained household. 

The duchess resumed her seat, and the frown on her 
fine face deepened. 

" To think that I should have to speak on the matter," 
she said to herself. " It is abhorrent to me." 

On the table by her side lay a fine white handkerchief 
deUcately perfumed with violets, a knot of ribbon of a 
peculiar mauve tint, and the duchess looked at them witk 
imcoucealed scorn. 



THE DtrKE'S SEOEET. 5 

" It is her fault, I am sure," she said to herself, " and 
not Bertrand's. I believe the women are always to blame." 

Then she heard the sound of approaching footsteps. 
Her face flushed, and her eyes filled with angry light. 

" Come in," she said, in answer to a low, timid knock. 

A girl entered — beautiful as ever was painter's fancy 
or poet's dream — a tall, slender girl, in whose graceful fig- 
ure and lovely face there was a promise of magnificent 
womanhood; tier eyes of deepest azure, her mouth deli- 
cate, proud and sensitive, with a beauty half divine ; her 
white brow was full of ideality and poetry; her hair, mag- 
nificent in its waving splendor, was of rich, dark brown, 
that looked like gold in the sun. She wore a plain black 
dress, which showed eveiy graceful hne and curve of her 
beautiful figure. There was something of hesitation — half 
shy, whoUy graceful — in her manner, as she advanced to 
the table near which the duchess sat. 

" Your grace wished to see me," she said, and her voice 
was one of the sweetest ever heard — sweet and low as the 
Bong of the nightingale among the lilies, clear, dehcate, 
silvery. The face of the duchess flushed again as the re- 
fined, melodious accents reached her ear. 

"You are right, Miss Wynter, I wish to see you,'* 
haughtily. As she looked at the lovely face of the girl, her 
face grew more haughty. She pointed with a proud ges- 
ture, to the handkerchief and the knot of ribbon. "Be 
good enough to look at those," she said. 

Miss Wynter came to the table and raised the two ar- 
ticles in her hand ; there was nothing but blank wonder 
in her face ; neither fear nor dread, but simply wonder. 
The odor of violets from the handkerchief drew her atten- 
tion. 

" Can you tell me," said her grace, " to whom these be- 
long?" 

" They are mine," she repUed ; "they are mine, your 
grace." 

" You are quite sure; there is no mistake ?" 

"I am quite sure, your grace; my name is on the hand- 
kerchief, and I always use the essence of violets." 

Poor child ! all the rest of her life the odor of violets 
turned her faint and ill — it was so associated with the hor« 
ror of this hour. 



6 THE DUEE'S SEOBET. 

" When,** asked the duchess, with proud severity, "when 
did you wear this knot of ribbon last ?" 

"When?" she repeated. "I am not quite sure, your 
grace ; it was the day before yesterday, I beUeve." 

Then came a sudden gleam of anxiety in the blue eyes, 
«nd something of startled fear. 

"They are yours," said the duchess. "You acknowl- 
edge it, and you wore that knot of ribbon two days since. 

" Yes, I beUeve so," was the faint reply. 

*' And where do you imagine. Miss Wynter, these things 
were found ?" 

" I do not know. I can not tell, your grace." 

" Listen ! I blush to tell you ; the shame you can not 
feel I feel for you. They were found in my son's room, 
in Lord St Albans's room — absolutely found there ! and 
you must know what that impHes — it imphes your pres- 
ence there. Miss Wynter." 

Pale, scared, her lips white, her eyes all troubled and 
frightened, the girl looked up. It was as though a 
blast of hot wind passed over a dehcate flower and 
withered it. 

" I — I do not understand, your grace," she said, her 
white lips trembling, while she seemed to gasp for breath. 

" I wish I could believe you ', I wish, indeed, that you 
did not understand me. I am afraid that you know only 
too well aU that I mean. I repeat that these things were 
found in my son's room, and that their presence implies 
your presence." 

It would be impossible to describe the proud scorn and 
loathing contempt with which the duchess spoke those 
words. 

The white lips opened again. 

" What room ? I— I—" 

Then the soimd died away. 

" Do not waste time or talent in inventing excuses," said 
the duchess. " You admit, I presume, that your room 
and Lady Nell's are in the eastern wing; you will admit 
also that Lord St. Albans's rooms are at the other end of 
the Castle, in the queen's wing." 

" Yes, I admit that. Why ? " 

"That is sufficient," said the duchess. "Now explain 
to me why articles belonging to you are found in Lord 
Si Albans's stu(^r' 



THE duke's secret. 7 

She could hardly hear the murmured ansTver. What 
was the girl saying? — the wind, the servants, Lady Nell 
roaming all over the Castle. 

"Nothing of the kind," said the duchess. "What 
utter nonsense! Speak the truth. How came these 
things in my son's room ?" 

But the fright and panic seemed to have grown 
on her ; her whole figure trembled like a leaf in a strong 
wind. 

" You have one chance," said the duchess, slowly, " I do 
not say of redeeming yourself, for nothing can change 
my opinion of you now, but the best atonement you can 
make to me is to tell me the exact truth." 

"I have nothing to tell," she said, in a low, proud 
voice. " I have nothing, not one word to say. I can not 
understand. May I go, your grace ?" 

"No," said the duchess, "you may not go ; "and since 
you will not speak yourseK, I will speak for you. My 
son's suite of rooms are in the queen's wing ; his study, 
dressing-room and bath-room are near them, and Sidonie, 
my maid, occasionally enters them when commissioned 
by myself. If you are going to faint, you had better 
take a chair. 

For the sweet face had grown white as with a pallor of 
death, and one trembhng hand clung to the chair. 

" Last week," continued the duchess, quite regardless 
of the pain and suffering on that fair young face, " I had 
occasion to send Sidonie to my son's study quite early 
in the morning. She brought back to me this handker- 
chief marked with your name. She found it in thft 
middle of the floor, and listen — I was there myself the 
last thing at night, and I am quite certain it was not 
there then ; it would not have escaped my observation. 
I ask how, in the dead of night, your handkerchief finds 
its way to my son's room ?" 

There was no reply, only a moan from the white lips. 

" You have no answer to give," said the duchess. " List- 
en again. Two days since, and again early in the morn- 
ing, my maid had to go to my son's study, and there she 
found this knot of ribbon, which you recognize as your 
own, and which she recognized as having seen on you. 
Again I had been in this room the night before, and I can 
certify it was not there. It is easy to draw a certain df- 



8 THE duke's SEOBET, 

duction from that. I ask you, can you explain why this 
knot of ribbon, worn by you two days since, was found 
on the floor of my son's room on the night of the same 
day you wore it ? Have you any answer to make ? " 

The only answer was a moan. 

" I have more to say," continued the duchess, haughtily. 
" I, myself, would not for the world have condescended to 
do that which my maid did. Can you guess what it is ? " 

No answer, only a more deadly pallor round the young 
face. 

"She was determined to test for herself the truth of 
her suspicions, and she, well, I am a woman, and such, 
words come strange to me — she watched you last night, 
you yourself, perhaps, know best what she saw." 

The girl clasped her hands, and a look that the duchesa 
could not understand came into her face. 

" I must ask you now, and I insist on an answer, how 
long have you been in the habit of meeting my son, Lord 
St. Albans, in his study, alone, and when all the rest of the 
household slept ? How long — answer me ? " 

There came no answer, but with a bitter cry, the girl 
held out her hands. 

"Hiive pity on me," she cried, "I have not one word 
to say." 

" I insist upon an answer," said the duchess, sternly. 
" I wiU have one 1 " 

But again the girl threw up her hands with a bitter 
cry. 

" I have nothing to say," she said. " Oh, your grace, 
believe me, I have not one word to say." 

The Duchess of Castlemayne once more touched the 
silver gong that stood on the table, 

" Send Sidonie to me at once," said she. 

And after a few minutes had elapsed the Frenchwoman 
entered the room. She looked quickly from the tall, 
commanding figure of her grace, to the slender, trembliag 
form of the young girL 

" Close the door, Sidonie," said her grace, and the maid 
complied " I wish you," said the duchess, " to repeat 
before Miss Wynter what you told me this morning and 
what you saw." 

An expression of almost gratified malice came over the 
dench maid's faoe. It was just possible that she, who 



THE duke's BECRET. 9 

prideu iier8elf on her good looks, had felt some pique 
that the handsome young marquis had never noticed her. 
A swift, terrible light came into her eyes, a flash of te-i- 
lunph brightened her face. She hated with an intensity 
of hatred the pale, beautiful girl who stood trembling 
there. 

" Let us have no additions, no exaggerations, but the 
plain unvarnished truth," said the duchess. 

Sidonie was nothing loth to begin. 

" I will obey, your grace," said the maid, " though it 
i&— " 

The duchess held up her hand. 

" I want no comments. The affair has nothing to do 
with you, does not concern you. State simply what you 
know." 

The maid spoke to the duchess, but her eyes, full of 
baleful, subtle triumph were fixed on the beautiful, color- 
less face of the young girl. 

" I told your grace a week since that I was sent into 
my lord's study, quite early in the morning, and there 
lying in the middle of the floor where it was quite im- 
possible not to see it, I found this handkerchief worked 
with Miss "Wynter's name; wondering how it came there 
I picked it up and brought it to your grace ; that is it 
lying on the table. Two mornings since I went again 
into my lord's study, and found this knot of ribbon. I 
had seen it fastened on Miss Wynter's dress the evening 
previous, when I took your grace's message to Lady Nell. 
That I also brought to your grace and it lies there now." 

"The rest," said her grace, hating the woman in her heart 
for her triumphant look, yet compelled to take her evidence. 

" The rest," said Sidonie, with affected bashfulness. "I 
—I— really— " 

The duchess looked at her sternly. 

** Will you keep to the point," she said, or I will dispense 
with your information." 

Sidonie wore a most coquettish little apron, and as the 
duchess spoke, she took up the hem and began to examine 
it minutely. 

" Would your grace forgive me, if I say just this — that 
in what I did I was actuated by good nature and not hj 
•uriogitj." 



10 THE BTTEE^S SECBBT. 

" It is quite immaterial," said the duchess, loftily. 'Tout 
information, not your motives, interests me." 

" I had some little reason for thinking, your grace, that 
all was not quite as it should be. I could not understand 
■why I found Miss Wynter's belongings in my lord's study, 
and I resolved to watch. Last night every one retired 
early, but I remained in the small anteroom that leads to 
the queen's wing. Soon after midnight I heard sounds of 
very quick, gentle footsteps; they passed the door and went 
on to the queen's wing. Then I followed and saw Miss 
Wynter walking slowly down the corridor where my lord's 
study is; she stopped at the door and gave a peculiar tap, 
which I knew to be a signal. It was opened and she went 
in. For two hours and more, yoiir grace, I heard the sound 
of two voices talking incessantly; I was quite determined 
to see the result of it, and I waited until Miss Wynter came 
from the study and went to her own room; it was after two 
o'clock and she was carrying a thin, white taper. She 
seemed frightened and uneasy while she was in the queen's 
wing, but when she came to the east wing, she was quite 
at her ease, and did not take any precautions to conceal 
herself. She went to her own room, your grace, and I 
heard her draw the bolt of her door. The first thing this 
morning I came to tell your grace what I had seen and 
heard." 

" You hear, Miss Wynter, what Sidonie says. Have you 
anything to say?" 

The white lips parted and the word that came from them 
sounded like " pity." 

"It is a case for justice, not pity," said the duchess. 
" Now, in the presence of the person who has brought the 
charge against you, I ask you is it true, or is it not ? One 
word from you will suffice. ' Yes,' or 'No.' Is it true or 
not?" 

The duchess stood with haughty, upraised head; the 
maid with the subtle light of triumph in her ©yes; and 
the girl sank slowly to her knees. 

" I have not one word to say, your grace, not one word." 

But there was no pity in the heart of the proud lady 
who had been wounded where she trusted most; bitter, 
scathing contempt was in her look and manner. 

"I have told you, Naomi Wynter, that I will have the 
troth from your own lips, yes or no. I have liked and 



THE duke's SECBET. U 

trusted you so much that if you deny this I shall deem 
your denial as worthy of credit as the word of your 
accuser, or even with the evidence against you. If you 
can clear yourself, do; but the truth, whatever it may be, 
I will have. My son has always been distinguished for 
his honorable, sensitive, delicate conduct, for purity and 
goodness of hie life. When I find that he has been hold- 
ing secret meetings with you, I, his mother, insist upon 
knowing how and why. Once more, in the presence of 
the person who has accused you, I ask, can you deny or 
explain what she says?" 

"I have nothing to say, your grace," she sobbed, not 
one word." 

" You can go, Sidonie," said the duchess. " Tou have 
acquitted yourself of your duty ; take care that no word 
of what you know escapes your lips." 

" Your grace can be assured of my fidelity," replied 
Sidonie, who flattered herself that she had made one great 
stroke of her life that day. 

She quitted the room, and the duchess was left with 
the weeping girl alone. 

" 5fou are young," said her grace, "so young, that lam 
will/ng, nay, anxious, to believe that you have been 
merely imprudent. You cannot have been so mad or so 
blind as to believe that Lord St. Albans had any intention 
of marrying you; that would be the only reason, wild and 
improbable as it seems, the only reason that would at all 
excuse your conduct. Have you been trying to allure 
my son? Answer me." 

But there was no answer, and the duchess seemed more 
and more incensed. 

" Unless you make a free and frank acknowledgment to 
me, I shall confront you with my son. I will know whether 
it is he who has sought you or you who have sougbt him. 
I promise you this, that if you will trust me and tell me, I 
Will be your friend — I will give you the best advice I can, 
and I will help you to get away from here. Now tell me 
the best or the worst." 

'• I have neither to tell, your grace," she replied. 
"You have been seen to enter my son's study when you 
ought to have been asleep. Will you tell jne what took 
you there?" 
*1~I cMi not," slie eQbb«4* 



12 THE DUEE^S SEOBEf. 

"Tou do not attempt after Sidonie's evidence to deny 
it. A denial, out of her presence, would be nothing unless 
you repeated it while she was here. Is there any one thing 
you can say which will in any way exculpate you, clear 
you, explain yoiir conduct? I shall be glad to hear any- 
thing." 

There was still the same answer; she had not one word 
to say — not one. 

"You are obstinate and obdurate," said the duchess. "I 
had hoped better things of you. I can make no appeals 
to your reason. Have you any feeling? If so, I will ap- 
peal to that. Do you know how I have loved my son, how 
proud I have been of him? He has been the very joy of 
my heart. In his hands are vested the interests of the 
noblest race of England. Have you no pity, no sorrow, 
no feeling for the mother of such a son? Have you no 
compassion for the wound you are inflicting on me? 
Because you have a fair face, are you trying to allure and 
cajole my son into marrying you? If so, you will fail. I 
Bay it in all the bittemes of heart, but it is the perfect 
truth, I would sooner see my son dead than married to 
you — dead, you hear — and yet I love him better than my 
life. Think, then, how great my horror and aversion to 
8uch a marriage is." 

From tho pale lips of the desolate girl came a cry that 
would have touched any heart less proud and cold than 
bers. 

"Ah," said the duchess, with a deep-drawn breath; 
•*it is then as I feared — or rather expected ; it is no ques- 
tion of marriage, but of an imprudent acquaintance. You 
are both young and have probably fancied it was very 
sentimental and romantic to get up this flirtation together. 
I am willing to give you credit for most perfect inno- 
cence, and nothing worse than a foolish disregard for 
appearance — ^is it so ? Set my mind at ease — tell me the 
worst or the best." 

"I have nothing — 1 can tell nothing," said the girL 
*' Oh, your grace, have pity on me, I am so lonely and so 
young," 

" Old enough," said the duchess, " to set a trap for my 
eon. I coiild sooner bear that than your obstinate silence. 
If you are guilty, tell me — it will be better than defying 
me. If you are iimQce&t, tell uxq, wd I will be youi: beet 



mS DIjKH'B SSOBX& Ifi 

feiencL Oil, my son, thp.!. I should be brought thus lo^ 

by your ioliy." 

The pain and passion of the words touched the heart 
of her listener. The girl sobbed aioud. 

" "Will you do this much for me t' said the duchess — 
""Will you set my mind at ease, and tell me if I have any- 
thing to dread?" 

Still no answer and the silence angered the duchess. 

"Tou are obdui-ate," she repeated, "but I will find 
means to make you speak. I will see what power the law 
gives me over you." 

The white face grew even more ghastly as the duchess 
once more touched the silver gong. When it was answered 
she asked that the duke should be told at once that she 
wanted to see him. 

A few minutes of terrible suspense, and then the foot- 
man returned. 

The girl shrunk as the door opened But it was the 
servant, not the d'lke, who entered. His grace had gone 
out, and could not be found. 

" I wiU not be baffled," cried the duchess; " I will know 
the truth; I will force it from you. Are you so hard of 
heart, so obstinate, so fooHsh as to compel me to force it 
from my own son ? If there be any sense of girlish mod* 
-ssty left in you, let me hear it from you," 

She saw tibiis young gui raise her pale, bewildered face; 
ehe heard her cry 

'.' What shall I do — what shall I do or say ? " 

"Tell me the truth;" said the duchess; "I want no 
more. Will you, or will you not ? " 

" I have nothing to tell," she cried; " I have nothing to 
say." 

"Then I shall send for my son," said the duchess, "and 
the truth you will not teU me, he shall." 

She started, for the girl was kneeling at her feet, pray- 
ing as she had never prayed, imploring, pleading as 
though for dear life. 

'* Send me away, your grace — send me to death, if you 
will, but don't let me see him," she cried. 

" That is my decision," said the duchess. " If you will 
tell me the truth, you shall go away at once and no harm 
shall come of it, but if you refuse you shall b^ confronted 
with my son. Take your choice." 



14 mE DITKE^S SECItlSf. 

She fell VFith her face on the ground, crying oat: 

"I have no choice — Heaven help me — no choico. I 
have nothing to say." 

The duchess stood for one minute, her white hands 
hovering over the bell ; the minute passed, she touched 
it ; and this time it was to send for her son. 

Lord St. Albans looked up with an air of lively impa- 
tience when he was told that her grace awaited him in 
her boudoir, where she wished to see him at once. If 
the young lord disliked one place more than another, it 
was that boudoir where his stately mother was accustomed 
to dehver all her lectures — he could remember hundreds 
of scoldings administered there. A summons to the bou- 
doir meant always a lecture of some kind or other, and 
was always received by him with the greatest dissatis- 
faction. 

He was a bright, handsome, clever young man, but, 
strange to say, he was still afraid of his stately, handsome 
mother. He had always managed the duke ; in fact, 
these two had entered upon an alliance against the ruling 
spirit of the household. They never openly rebelled 
against her grace, but when she was what the duke called 
more active than usual, they enjoyed a comfortable groan 
together. 

In all his childish escapades his kind-hearted, indulgent 
father was his confidant and helper : the duke had never 
taken on himself the serious responsibility of scolding his 
son; it was her grace — always her grace — and the young 
marquis had a constitutional dislike to scolding. He was 
brave enough; he would always have turned his face to 
the foe; he would not avoid danger, for he loved it. He 
was a bold rider and a fearlesss shot, an excellent hunter 
— ^he mounted horses that brave men shrunk from — ^ho 
tad the courage of his race, grand, bold, fearless — and it 
never failed him but once in his life. Yet, despite all his 
courage, his high, mettlesome spirit, his reckless courting 
of danger, he still retained a fear and awe of his mother. 
The sword of a foe, the mouth of a cannon, the roar of an 
on-coming army would never have dismayed him; but be- 
fore the fK)wn of the duchess he fled ignominiously. 

History tells us how the bravest generals, the highest 
kings, the greatest warriors, who have feared nothing else 
In ti^eir lives, have been afraid of their own wives. Th« 



THE duke's secret. ' IS 

young Lord St. Albans was afraid of his mother — he wouLl 
haved faced a foe with his sword drawn with a thousantt 
times more courage than he faced his mother when aim 
was angry with Lim. 

" The boudoir, Simmons ?" he cried, impatiently to the 
servant; " you are quite sure her grace said the boudoir?" 

" Quite, my lord," repHed the man, calmly, with an ap- 
preciative inkling of what was wrong; " her grace is wait- 
ing there now." 

" I must go then," he said ruefully to himself. " Now I 
wonder what is wrong— what have I done? Have 1 
smoked in the wrong rooms — have I used language of too 
expressive a kind — have I failed in something, or have I 
exceeded in anything ? It is not that — ah, thank Heaven, 
it is not that." 

He did not hurry, although the servant told him thai 
her grace was .waiting. 

There was profound silence when he reached the 
boudoir; he fancied, but it must be fancy, that he heard 
the sound of some one weeping as if in bitter pain. 

He stood quite still when he entered the room and saw 
the tableau before him — the duchess in an attitude of 
haughty grace — indignant pride, scorn, contempt, loath- 
ing, all in her face. 

" What is the matter ?" was his first thought, when ha 
saw her. Then his eyes went on to the second figure in 
the group, and he saw the young girl, with her beautiful, 
colorless face bent to the ground. Then he knew, and the 
shock made him stop abruptly, and blanched his handsome 
young face, on which stood all the proud, defiant beauty 
of his race. 

" I have sent for you, Bertrand," said her grace, " on the 
most unpleasant business I have ever known in my life." 
The young lord groaned aloud — how well he knew the 
preamble, but this time it was more terrible than ever. 
" Not only the most unpleasant, but the most heart-rend- 
ing." 

" What is it, mother ? Let us get at it at once if you 
will be so kind. What is the matter, the preliminaries 
are very dreadful." 

" This is the matter," she replied, pointing with a 
haughty gesture to the articles on the table. " These 
things belong to this — this young person," said Hm 



16 THE DUEE'S SEOBET. 

duchess, iaener lost for a term, "and I regret- —I grieTe to 
Bay, they have been found in your study." 

He was brave, but when his mother uttered those words 
in her hardest voice, with her coldest looks, he was afraid; 
his lips grew pale, and the defiant Hght died out of his face. 

" How do you account for their presence there ? " asked 
the duchess. " It is a most bitter aud cruel shame for 
any mother to have to conduct such an investigation; 
above all for the mother of a son who should be a noble 
man in more than name. Bertrand, I never thought thai 
I should blush for you." 

He was ill at ease, but he tried to assume a carelessness 
he was far from feeling. 

" My dearest mother," he said, " you must not waste 
blushes; you must wait first to see if I have provoked any.** 

He never forgot the air of dignity and command with 
which she turned to him. 

" The matter on which I have to speak to you," she 
said, "is so serious that I would rather see you dead 
than know you guilty, and the most terrible, the most 
guilty part of it s^ would be to me that you should laugh 
at it. I repeat my question, but beg you vdll answer H 
seriously. How came these things in your room ? " 

He looked anxiously at the girl's face ; it was so whiter 
so stni, she might have been dead. 

" I really can't tell, mother," he continued. " I am noi 
accountable for things found in my room." 

"Would you insinuate that this young giii entered 
your room in your absence ?" she asked. 

" I insinuate nothing, mother," he replied, " nothing 
at alL It is simply impossible that I can answer your 
question. I can say no more." 

" I am sorry to say that I know more. If I could have 
spared you the humiliation of this scene, I would have 
done so. I asked this unfortunate girl to save herself 
and me the shame of it, but she refused ; and had she 
complied with my wish I should have been spared the 
anguish of having to speak to my only son on a subject 
that humiliates both of us. You refuse, then, to tell me 
how those came in joxir room?" 

She did not see the look of gratitude and relief that h« 
sent to the girl crouching befora her. She could not teU 
how in his heart he blessed her. 



^ THE duke's SEOBET. 17 

! 

"All evasions," said the duchess, "are quite nselesa 
TTnf ortunately, this unhappy and most imprudent girl has 
been seen going to your study after midnight ; she was 
heard speaking to you for more than two hours, and she 
was seen returning to her own room. Can you denj 
that, Bertrand?" 

" I neither deny nor affirm," he replied. 

" The one thing I insist upon is perfect truth," said the 
duchess. " If you will either of you tell me that, I will 
be content. I must know what has passed between you, 
the young girl under my charge, and my only son, on 
whose shoulders lie the burden of the honors of my race." 

It is impossible to describe the bitterness with which 
she uttered these words. Lord St. Albans winced under 
the scornful look and voice. 

" I am not hard of heart," she continued. " If you trust 
me, I will befriend you both, and help you out of this 
dilemma; but if you conceal the truth from me, I shall 
have Httle mercy on either. Tell me the truth — is it a 
foolish, harmless, absurd flirtation which you have both 
been mad and bHnd enough to think romantic, or is it 
worse than that ? Has my son taken advantage of his 
position and rank as a so-called gentleman to lead astray 
ahelpless,fooHsh, senseless girl, or are either of you so 
mad as to have dreamed that a marriage would ever be per- 
mitted between you ? I express myself moderately when I 
say that 1 would rather see Rood Castle burned to the 
ground than so cruelly, wickedly, horribly profaned by 
the one who should keep its honor intact. Speak, my 
son, clear not only yourself but the fair fame of this young 
girl; it rests in your hands to do so." 

She had risen at the last words, and turned her fair, 
0ad face to him. 

It was the saddest and most pitiful sight, the beautiful 
loving eyes filled with tears, the sweet mouth quivering. 
When he saw her, the young lord made one hasty step as 
though he would have taken her in his arms, then the ex- 
pression of his mother's face made him pause abruptly. 

" Bertrand, on the obedience you owe me, I insist upon 
the truth I " said the duchess. 

The fair, pleading face turned to him with an agonizec* 
gleam of mute appeal ; his fell before it, and then a kind 
of supernatural strength and courage c£ane to her. H» 



18 THE duke's SECEET. 

stood, irresolute, hesitating with half determiiiati&n, half 
weakness on his face. She went up to the angry duchess. 

"Do not blame him, your grace ; do not «ay one angry 
word to him. It is I alone who am to blame." 

He raised his hand with a deprecating gesture, but the 
girl went on with renewed courage : 

"It is not his fault, your grace ; it is mine — all mine." 

** What is your fault ? " she asked, sharply. 

"It was I, your grace, who volunteered last night to 
go to his study. I declare to you that he did not ask 
me." 

" Is that true, Bertrand ? " asked the duchess. 

He shrugged his shoulders in a very uneasy, shfune- 
faced manner. 

" If the lady says so, mother, it would ill become me to 
contradict her." But he did not look at the lady as he 
spoke. 

" You shameless girl," cried the duchess. The vials of 
her wrath were emptied now on the girl's defenseless 
head. " You shameless, wicked girl ! " she cried. " You 
thought, because your face was fair, you could allure my 
son to destruction. You sought him — you confess it — 
you glory in it. I thank God that you have been un- 
masked in time before my son is ruined." 

He stood by, uneasily moving first one foot and then 
the other. 

" Come, mother," he said, " be a little more merciful 
You do not know, after all, whether this is true or not. 
Do you not think it very generous of her to take the 
whole burden on herself ? " 

"I think," said the duchess, terribly angry at the 
thought that he was taking her part, " I think she is a 
shameless girl, and she quits the Castle this hour in black, 
bitter disgrace. Every man is more or less weak in a 
woman's hands ; but if I thought you had encoui'aged her 
folly and her wickedness, I would see that your fault was 
severely punished. So far as I am concerned, I would make 
an example of you^ Bertrand. You, who ought to be a 
nobleman, why did you not tell me of the girl's forward- 
ness and folly?" 

The sweet face was looking into his. There was no 
reproach in it but simple wondering pain ; the eyes 
naked mm a (question, the Hps were dumb> 



THE DUKE*S SECRET. 19 

•* I#et it be a warning to you, Bertrand. Only think, if 
this girl's folly were known, of the cruel blow to your 
character and reputation. To think that the duke's heir 
and only son should have been imperiled by the mad, 
bold folly of a love-sick girl." 

Naomi started as though stung oy the lash of a whip ; 
the color rushed in a burning flood over her face and 
neck ; her lips parted, as though she would fain speak ; 
then suddenly she grew quiet and calm — quiet, but with 
those sweet, sad eyes fixed on his face. 

"You know what I think of you, Naomi "Wynter," said 
the duchess, and the girl turned with clasped hands to the 
young lord. They said, more clearly than words could do: 

"I api)eal, in this my last extremity, to you !" 

liord St. Albans looked entreatingly at his mother. 

"I think you are too hard," he said. 

But the duchess interrupted him. 

"Do not speak on the matter, Bertrand ; I will not have 
it. I am not too hard. If, when people see wrong, they 
wovdd speak out plainly, as I have done now, the world 
would not be one half so wicked as it is — not one half. I 
have no sympathy with the mad folly of a love sick girl — 
a girl bold and forward enough to visit, as I understand, 
unasked and unsolicited, the study of a young man like 
you. If this be the girl, what will the woman be like ?" 

Again he tried to stop her, to say that she was too hard, 
too angry, unjust, severe. But the anger of the duchess 
was roused now, and who should keep it under control? 

" I can not understand," she continued, "how Miss Gra- 
ham could send such a person to me ; it is more than enough 
to ruin her forever. I shall write and tell her what I 
think about it." 

The pleading, weeping eyes were still fixed on Lord St. 
Albans' face, the white hands clasped in trembling suppli- 
cation that he understood, and no other. 

" You leave my house to-day — nay, this very hour. Miss 
Wynter, and you do as you can. Do not send to me for 
any character, for I should speak the truth of you, and 
declare you to be what I know — a shameless, forward, dan- 
gerous girl. I should warn the mother of every son about 
you, therefore you will have the good sense not to appeal 
to me, or apply to me; and I shall warn Miss Graham 
against jovu" 



90 THE DUKES SECRET. 

Then the fair face, with a faint flush, was tumea to 
her. 

" Supposing that I was the most wicked, do you think 
it womanly or Christianlike to turn me adrift into the wide 
world, and take from me my only chance of employment — 
take from me the only fortune I have in the world — my 
good character?" 

"I deny," said the duchess, "that you have a good char- 
acter.' To speak quite plainly — and it seems to me that 
you understand the plainest language — after what my maid 
saw last evening, I do not think you have any character at 
aU." 

If she had struck that fair, sweet face, the girl could not 
have winced more than she did. 

"That, after deliberately doing that which you must 
know would take away any girl's character, to speak as 
though I were doing you an injury or injustice, is the most 
absiird thing I have heard in my hfe," said the duchess, 
scornfully. " You have lost your character, so I can not 
be said to have taken it from you." 

With a wild cry — a cry that, proud as she was, the 
duchess never forgot — the girl looked up at Lord St. 
Albans. 

"I appeal to you," slie siifd; " I appeal to 3'ou!" 

But the appeal was all in vain. He looked very uncom- 
fortable, very uneasy; but if he knew that which could 
exculpate her, or explain away the appearances which were 
BO much against her, he kept it to himself. 

"My dearest mother," he said, "be a little more gentle, 
a little more moderate." Then, turning with an embar- 
rassed face to Naomi 'VVynier, he said : " It will come all 
right — ^you know it "will all come right." 

Those words angered the duchess greatly. 

"The right issue of it remains with me, and not with 
you," she said, haughtily. '■ It will be right thus far — 
that from this hour Naomi Wynter takes her place with 
one of two classes, the wicked or the fooHsh." 

And again the girl, with a wild cry, raised her hands in 
supplication. 

"You hear this," she said; "you hear these cruel words. 
I appeal to you, Lord St. Albans, I appeal to you !" 
And again it was utterly in vain. 

**! am dreadfully sorry that all thig has happcaad," lUh 



THE DUKE'S SECRET, Si 

said; "I could not feel more sorry than I do; but you 
know it will bo all right." 

The repetition of these words seemed to not only irri- 
tate the duchess, but to cause her most serious annoyance 
and anxiety. 

" I should like to know, Bertrand," she said, " what you 
mean by all being right. I can not say that I see much 
cause for believing that. What do you mean ?" 

"Miss "Wynter knows what I mean," he repHed, looking 
significantly at the young girl. Her only answer was: 

" Is my appeal in vain ?" 

And then his face darkened. The girl ttimed away with 
an expression of utter black despair. 

She went nearer to the duchess, and a certain girlish 
dignity came to her. She stood erect before her. 

" Your grace quite understands," she said. " Tour son 
is free from all blame. It is quite true that I went to his 
study last evening on my own responsibility, and without 
the least invitation or suggestion from him — that is per- 
fectly true of last night. You will be good enough to 
remember always, that I — whom you have accused so 
bitterly — I acquit him, freely, entirely, and that whatever 
blame or shame or disgrace there is, I charge myself with 
it, and free him; I take the burden of it all." 

"As is only just and right," said the duchess. " If girla 
will make themselves light of worth — if they will, in plain 
English, run after men, they must put up with the conse- 
quences to themselves. ' 

The girl bowed her head; her fear and timidity had 
forsaken her; there was a greater dignity about her, that, 
even in the inidst of her anger, struck the duchess forcibly. 

" There is no more to be said," she continued. " You 
have accused yourself, Naomi Wynter, and I am glad to 
find my son guiltless." 

Yet, as she spoke, she was full of wonder at the sight of 
his face. He did not look particularly guiltless or happy, 
but dreadfully confused and ashamed; more than once he 
seemed on the point of speaking, of saying something, 
then stopped abruptly. 

He looked very much more hke a picture of guilt than 
did the fair-faced girl who stood now in all the calmness 
of despair. There was hesitation, confusion, ab<>iae oo 
bis iacei plaiiilj writeu there. 



SI THE DUKE^S SEGBET. 

* Naomi Wynter," said the duchess, and neither in tone 
or manner was there the least vestige of pity, " I do not 
know what has passed between my son and you; if you 
have been blind enough and mad enough to care for him, 
your punishment will be quite sufficient. Look your last 
upon his face now, for you will never see him again. Say 
good-bye in my presence, for you shall meet on earth no 
more." 

Once again she raised her face in mute agonized sup- 
plication to his, but there was no response. He held oui 
his hand to her with a shamefaced, embarrassed manner; 
he did not say good-bye, nor did he keep his hand in hers. 

No word came from her lips but this one: 

" Forever," she said, then she turned from him. 

" Tou can go now, Bertrand," said the duchess. " Miss 
Wynter leaves at once, and there is no further occasion 
for your presence." 

Still he lingered, not looking now at his angry, indig- 
nant mother; his eyes fixed on the fair face to be raised 
to his in supplication never more. He went a step nearer 
to her, then turned back, opened his lips to speak to her, 
and then closed them, for no sound came. 

" You can go," repeated the duchess. 

Their eyes met once ; into his came a flame of anger 
into hers came a shadow like death; then, with a low bow 
to his mother. Lord St. Albans quitted the room. 

" You have reproached me," said the duchess, *' with 
sending you adrift into the wide world. You shall not have 
cause to complain. I will give you a year's salai'y, and 
you must do the best you can." 

The girl bowed her head in silence. The duchess went 
to the writing-table, and taking out a roll of bank-notes 
placed five in her hands. 

"There are fifty poiinds," she SEdd; "now sign a receipt 
for it" 

But the trembling hands could shape no letters; the ef- 
fort was in vain; the receipt was never signed. Once more 
and for the last time during that interview, the duchess 
touched the silver gong. 

" Send Sidonie to me," she said, " at once," and again 
the Frenchwoman entered with the subtle, cruel, victori- 
ous smile. 

**Si4p»ie»'* said the duchess, "you do not leave Misi 



THE duke's seceet. 23 

Wynter again while she is in the house. Ton go to her 
room with her, help her to pack up, send for the pony- 
carriage, see her safely in it, and take her to the station. 
Do not lose sight of her for one moment while she remains 
in the Castle." 

" I will not, your grace," said the maid, delighted with 
the task. 

" Good-bye, Naomi "Wynter," said the duchess ; " and 
I hope your first step, if it really be your first step on the 
Wroug road, may be your last. Go with Sidonie." 

Without a word, or even a glance, in the direction of 
that proud face and figure, Naomi went away. 

The duchess flung herself down into her chair. 

" What a scene ! " she said to herself ; " and to think 
that I should have had to speak in this fashion to my own 
son ! I shall never get over it." 

Not a thought of hers went to the girl whose heart she 
had just broken ; she hardly remembered her existence, 
except so far as her son was concerned ; she never 
wondered what would become of her ; Naomi Wynter was 
less than nothing in the eyes of Adeliza, Duchess of Cas- 
tlemayne. 

The duke came hastily to her boudoir. 

Herbert, twelfth Duke of Castlemayne, was a tall, fine- 
looking man, sixty years of age. In his youth he must 
have been very handsome ; even now he had a fine open 
countenance ; a broad, frank brow, keen eyes, finely 
formed features ; the one defect of his face, which was 
the weakness of his mouth, was hidden by a thick beard 
and mustache. 

" You want me, Adeliza ? " he said. 

But the duchess was a woman of quick resource ; she 
had already decided that it would be better to keep the 
matter entirely hidden from the duke. She looked up 
carelessly. 

" Yes, I sent for you, Herbert ; but it was on a matter 
of no moment ; now that you are here I may as well teU 
you ; I have sent Miss Naomi Wynter away to-day." 

Herbert, tweKth Duke of Castlemayne, was wise in this 
respect; he had learned already that the virtue for him 
was submissive silence. In the beginning of his married 
life he had occasionally objected or murmured when he 
was not quite pleased; he had demurred against the dia- 



Si THE DUEE'S SEOBET. 

missal of oid servants, against the turning out of an old 
tenant; he did none of tiiese things now — he was a wiser 
man. When the duchess in her stately fashion told him 
she had done anything, if he did not quite approve, he 
was silent; for this reason he said nothing when ho heard 
that the young governess, whom he really hked, h>d been 
abruptly dismissed. 

" What shall you do about Lady Nell ? " he asked. 

Lady Helen Vaughan was the orphan niece of the 
duchess, who had adopted her, and for whom she had en- 
gaged a governess. 

*' She must go to school," was the reply. " I wiH have 
no more governesses; they are more trouble thj»n the 
children they are supposed to teach," said thedpchess, 
decidedly; and her lord knew from that decision there 
was no appeaL 

" You can make inquiries, Herbert, when you go over 
to Mansfield Hall ; Lady Gregory spoke very highly of 
that school at Torquay, where she sent her httle daugh- 
ter; the same school would do well for Nell." 

" Just as you like, Adeliza," he said, resignedly. 

"You will inquire about it, Herbert; I cannotha^ethe 
child going wild about the house." 

It did occur to the duke that his imperious wife might 
have given that matter a thought before she had suddenly 
sent away the young governess. He was too wise to com- 
mit himself to any opinion of the kind, and the du 'shess 
rested content with the result of her labors. 

Lord St. Albans left that room in the nearest approacli 
to a terrible rage that he had ever been in his life. He 
passed up and down the broad corridor, eating his very 
heart away with anger and dismay. 

"What can she think of me?" he cried. "What can 
she think ? I can not get to see her ; that dragon, 
Sidonie, will never leave her ; will take her even to the 
station. I know; and what will she think of me? I 
w ust try to see her. I do not care what the old dragon 
says. I must say a few words to her. She will tell the 
duchess, of course ; but I must manage." 

He went to the western wing, where the school-room 
was, and opened the door. Lady Nell was alone, with a 
small regiment of dolls about her. She looked up at hiio 
with a smile and a nod* 



TEE DUEE'S SECBET. 25 

**I have a holiday to-day," she said, " a whole holiday. 
Miss Wynter is going away." 

" Are you sorry, Lady Nell ?" he asked. 

** Yes, I am soaTy ; but I am glad I have my doUs." 

He smiled as he bent over her. 

" Do you not think that is a httle selfish," he said. 

Suddenly the smile left his face, and he turned away ; 
the word selfish had struck him with fresh meaning. 

" Lady Nell," he said, " will you go to Miss Wynter and 
ask her if she will come here to speak to me ?" 

"Yes," rephed the child, « I will." 

She was absent for some minutes, during which that 
word selfish seemed to have some strange attraction for 
him ; it never left his thoughts. 

Lady Nell returned. 

" Sidonie says ' No,' Lord St. Albans. Miss Wynter is 
going, and is to see no one unless the duchess consents." 

" All right. Lady Nell." 

Then another idea occurred to him; he took from his 
pocket a jeweled pencil-case; he took out a leaf from his 
pocket-book, and hastily wrote a few hnes on it. 

" WiU you take this to l^Iiss Wynter? " he asked- 

"Yes," said the child; but, with the precocity of her 
age, she added, " Sidonie will not let her have it." 

" Yes, she will, if you ask her prettily. Lady NelL" 

Again the child ran off, but with the same result. She 
returned, saying that Sidonie would not allow her to see 
Miss Wynter, but said that if any more messages came 
she would send to the duchess." 

" The impertinent — " and Lord St. Albans muttered the 
next word between his teeth. " I will pay her for this 
some day," he said to himself. 

" Lady Nell," he asked, " did you see Miss Wynter? Is 
she dressed for traveling T' 

" I saw her face the time before when I went, but it 
was white — ah, so white I — Lord St. Albans, and hard, not 
at all like her face, and she was crying so." 

Without another word he dashed from the room and 
called for his valet, a sharp, witty, quick, brilliant yoxmg 
Frenchman, by name Gaston Leduc. He was devoted to 
his master's interests, having, at the same time, keen eyet 
to his own. 

** Gaston," cried the young lord, " I want you here aft 



26 THE duke's secret. 

once ; quick, you have not a moment to lose. MIbs Wynter 
is leaving. I want you to go to Lanceton Station. Find 
out for what place she takes her ticket, follow her, and do 
not lose sight of her until you can telegraph to me where 
she goes. Here is money; now be particular, be exact." 

"I will, my lord," was the servant's answer. 

" Tou must be careful of one thing, do not let Sidonie 
see you — you understand?" 

" Quite, my lord. She shall not suspect me, I promise 
you." 

•' And if there are any inquiries made," said the young 
lord, " you have been home to see your friends." 

The valet bowed, many words are not needed by that 
quick nation. And with this. Lord St. Albans was com- 
pelled to remain content. He understood now that his 
mother had put Sidonie on guard to prevent his seeing 
Naomi, and that any attempt at doing so would simply 
end in greater misery and disgrace for her. He was 
wretched and miserable. For the first time in his Hfe he 
had lost his self-respect, and had shown himself a coward 
— a coward — he said the word over and over again, and 
he hated the sound of it. Such hours as fell to his lot 
after that scene would have made a young man old. 

Gaston followed out the instructions given to him 
exactly. The result was that early on the following morn- 
ing the young lord had a telegram to this effect: 

"The person in question went this evening to Grimes's 
Hotel, London Bridge, and is there still. I will be home 
at noon." 

When Lord St. Albans received that, he went to his 
father at once. 

" I shall be away from home for a few days, sir," he 
Sgaid ; " did you see the man ride up with a telegram ?" 

"Yes,"rephed the duke; "it was for you, was it? I 
wondered what it was about." 

"A friend sent it and wants me for a few days. I shall 
run up to town to see him; you wiU tell my mother; she 
is out driving, and I shall go up on the eleven train. Give 
my love to her." 

And the duke, without intending any exaggeration or 
misrepresentation, told his wife that Bertrand had just 
received a message from a friend of his, and had gone tQ 
town to meet him. 



THE duke's SECBET. 17 

"Who is it ?" asked the duchess. 

And the duke remembered that he had quite forgotten 
to ask the question. It would never do to let his wife 
know it. 

" Charlton or Andrews," he replied, " I do not know 
which." 

Nor did the duchess care; anything or any one who 
would distract his thoughts and his mind was welcome. 
The idea that he had gone after Miss "Wynter never even 
occurred to her; she was too noble and loyal to suspect 
others. She occupied herself in sending the little Lady 
Nell to Torquay, where Lady Gregory's little daughter 
Was. After that expose, no more young governesses for 
her. 

Lord St. Albans made the greatest haste to the hotel, 
fast as steam and horses could take him. It was but a 
third-rate hotel, and they looked up at the tall, aristocratic 
young gentleman who dashed up in such impetuous hast* 
to the door. 

A IVIiss "Wynter staying there ? No ; they had no ladles 
in the house; it was more frequented by commercial trav- 
elers than any other kind of people. 

" But surely," he cried, " Miss "Wynter was here last 
evening. I had a telegram from here." 

Then the landlady said: 

" Yes. She did not know the lady's name, but certaialy 
a lady had slept there last evening, but she left at ten 
o'clock in the morning. They did not know her name, nor 
had they any idea where she had gone, or anything else 
about her; she had no cab, but had gone away on foot." 

" Had she brought any luggage with her ?" he asked, 
and the answer was " No." Then he bethought himself 
that she had left her luggage at London Bridge Station ; 
if he rode quickly enough he might catch her even now. 
He drove off again, and reached London Bridge in less 
time than any cabman had ever driven before. He went 
to the office for left baggage end found that he was quite 
correct in his surmise. She called that morning soon after 
ten for her luggage and had gone away with it. 

The officials at this office were very kind and very pa- 
tient with him; they recognized his description of her 
dress and of her face. Beautiful, and quite white, as though 
she had been very ilL 



SIS TEE DUKE'S SEGBXT. 

But they could not do impossibilities. They could not 
tell him where she had gone; whether she had taken a cab 
or a train or what. One porter thought he remembered 
her taking a box for a young lady of that description, but 
he could not be sure; who could, in that crowded station? 

" I will tell you frankly," said the young lord, " it is a 
matter of life and death to me. I would pay any sum — 1 
would give any reward to the man who can bring me news 
of her." 

Very soon the intelligence was aU over the station ; one 
by one ^Yai carefully interrogated; the man who had not 
dared to speak in his mother's presence examined the 
ranks of cabmen, the army of railway porters, the clerks 
in the ticket-office, the only traces of her at all was thai 
some one had seen, or perhaps fancied they had seen, a 
young lady answering the same description standing on 
the platform by the side of a traveling-trunk. 

And thus he lost her; from that time he heard and saw 
no more of her. He was half mad when the real truth 
broke upon him that she was lost beyond all recall He 
did not return to Rood Castle for a long time, and his 
mother thought he had done wisely in seeking change of 
scene; she was even glad that he should stay away, lest 
the old recollections might be too much for him. She 
wanted him to forget all the disagreeable incidents. She 
had her own views for him for the future. She herself 
wrote and told him that if he was enjoying his stay in 
town not on any account to hurry or hasten his return. 
She sent her letter to Rood House where she supposed 
him to be staying. The young lord was very Uttle in his 
house; his time was spent in looking for Naomi Wynter; 
when, after patient investigation in London ho found it 
quite impossible to ^ace her, he went to Scotland Yard, 
and placed the case in the hands of the best detective 
there. 

He offered a reward — a very handsome one — he gave 
the most minute description of the lady, and he left word 
that if anything should transpire, he was to be telegraphed 
for at once. 

Then he had done all he could, but there was a sorrow- 
ful impression on his mind that it was in vain, and that 
the effects of one hour's cowardice would last him for 
life. 



;THE DUKE'S SEOEET. 29 

It was three weeks before he returned to Rood Castle, 
and then he was so changed that the duchess was 
startled. 

" My dearest son," she said, " you look as though you 
had never slept or rested since you left home. You must 
have been quite dissipated." 

He looked steadily at her, and she was careful to say 
no more. 

The duchess was very kind and indulgent to him ; she 
went out of her way to give him every indulgence, and 
to make him happy. She invited the friends he pre- 
ferred, she made all kinds of parties for him ; but the 
smile that had once shown in his eyes never came back 
again. He was a changed man ; the laughter and music 
died from the voice that had always been bhthe and 
gay. 

At first the duchess thought this would pass as his 
fancy did, even had it been a fancy. Never a word had 
passed between them on the matter — from the day 
Naomi was dismissed from Rood Castle no mention was 
ever made of her name. 

The duchess wrote to Miss Graham, stating that she 
had very serious grounds for great displeasure over Miss 
Graham sending to her a person of whose character she 
was not sure, and that she (the duchess) had very certain 
grounds for knowing that Miss Wynter was far from 
being what she ought to be. 

To which, considering that she was writing to the first 
ducbess in England, Miss Graham replied indignantly, 
refusing to believe anything against Miss "Wynter's char- 
acter unless it was really proved. 

" I shall not trouble to reply," said the duchess. " It 
matters but little ; the girl is gone, and there is an end 
of it." 

But as time passed on, she grew more and more anxious 
over her son ; he was like a man living under the shadow 
of a funeral pall, and as the months passed he became 
worse. 

It struck her at last, as it did every one else, that he 
had some secret ■weight, some secret sorrow on his mind 
— that he was miserable, and would never be the same 
again. All this dawned upon her slowly, as she heard 
people say how different her son was ; but in her heari 



90 THE duke's SECBBT. 

she never repented, even for one moment, of what she hxA 
done. 

At Brightsea, the queen of "watering-places, stands a 
building known all over England — a scandal to some, a 
triumph to others, and a wonder to all, being neither 
more nor less than the Anglican Convent, where some of 
the best and kindest women in England spend their hves. 
It was built by ^he munificence of the Reverend Peter 
Mackay, and his name is known all over the land. 

Some love, some hate him; some praise, others blame 
him; some ridicule, some respect him; some say he seeks 
notoriety, others that he serves Heaven. A civil warfare 
rages round him and about him, but he never heeds it; 
his worst and bitterest enemies say that he is mistaken — • 
they wiU not say worse than that — and his friends say that 
"La is a saint. Which is right and which is wrong does 
not concern our story, but the fact that his name was 
known all over England as being one of the most just, 
humane, and charitable men in it, does. It is said of him 
that he never turned a deaf ear to one in distress; that he 
never failed to help when his help was asked; that he has 
rescued more lost sheep and saved more erring creatures 
than any other. He was not married — he had neither 
time nor inclination for wooing — and it was one of the 
peculiarities of his belief that he thought no clergyman 
ought to marry. 

" There was no time for it," he was accustomed to say 
to those who remonstrated with him. " If I had a wife 
and children to look after, I must neglect either the sick 
or the poor, and I do not intend to neglect either." 

That was his way of thinking; right or wrong it does 
not bear upon the story, except that it had brought his 
name into such prominence that the heai'ts of those in 
trouble or distress tiirned to him involuntarily. 

His mission, as he liked to call it, was one of the best 
managed in England. He was Rector of St. George's, 
Brightsea ; his curates were all men of the same way of think- 
ing — to be qmte exact, when they ceased to think as he did, 
they ceased to be his curates. When he was asked why he 
had founded an Anglican Sisterhood, his answer was that 
among the poor and the sorrowful he found work that none 
but a woman's hands could do. No one could answer that— 
sneers did not make an argument, laughter did not affect it 



THE duke's secret?. 81 

The Keverend Peter Mackay had had two or three large 
fortunes left to him ; one he had expended in the erection 
of a convent, one in building churches after his own mind; 
the rest he had reserved for the wants of his mission; they 
were so great — the children to be rescued, the young 
girls to be saved, the sick to be nursed, the sad and sor- 
rowful to be comforted; he Uved in a plain poorly furnished 
rectory; his own sitting room wore the aspect of a study; 
there was a praying-desk, a large bible, religious pictures, 
one or two bronzes of great artistic merit, some fine 
wood carvings, and some very plain furniture. 

He himself was a handsome man, with a face full of sad- 
ness and sweetness; some said he was like the Apostle St. 
John; he had a voice of singular sweetness, a kind man- 
ner, a charm of persuasion that was seldom equalled. Those 
who went to him in distress always came back comforted, 
even if it were only by a sight of a face that was more 
like an angel's than a man's. The perfection of human 
tenderness was reached when he went to see a dying sin- 
Tier; the hardest hearts melted under the influence of his 
words. 

The Eeverend Peter Mackay sat alone one warm night 
in July. He had had a terrible day; the great heat had 
brought about among the very poor a great epidemic, and 
he had been for ten hours at least going from one to an- 
other, breathing terrible odors, seeing horrible sights, 
bearing foul words and bad language, until his heart had 
grown sick and sad within him. He had seen children 
left orphanB, find what was worse, he had seen them with 
parents so vue that it was almost impossible to believe 
they were human; he had seen poverty, destitution and 
vice in their worst form, until, in sheer despair he had 
raised his head and cried: 
,^ "How long — oh. Lord, how long — " 

Now faint, tired, weary, and sick at heart, he sat down 
to rest ; he was tired out, and a certain feeling of depres- 
sion came to him. 

For one man to try to contend with that avalanche of sin 
and iniquity was like a soHtary swimmer trying to breast 
the ocean. As he sat pondering over these things, he 
heard a ring at the bell. It was one of the rules of St 
George's that no one should be turned from the door; no 
matter how tired the rector was the poorest tramp was 



32 THE duke's secret. 

never sent away without help for body or mind; but this hot 
night, when no breath of air was stirring, when his body 
was racked with fatigue and his soul with anguish, a wish 
stirred in his breast that it might not be for him. The 
door opened, and his little page (the worse than orphaned 
child of convict parents) came in. 

" Am I wanted ? " he asked, in the gentle voice that 
never deserted him. 

" A lady, sir," was the reply, " particularly wishes to see 
you." 

" Have you her card or name ? " asked the rector. 

" She says that she is quite a stranger; you do not know 
Her at all; but she would be grateful if you would see her." 

" Does she seem to be in trouble ? " asked the rector, 
giving one thought to the untasted dinner and his long 
fast. 

" Yes, in great distress," was the prompt reply. Fatigue, 
dinner, past pain, were all forgotten — there was a sovd to 
help. 

A young girl came into the room; he saw a slender 
figure full of girlish grace; he saw shining masses of hair 
that fell from underneath the dark traveling hat. She 
stood just before him where the dying light from the 
western sky fell full upon her; the sound of the waves 
beating on the shore came in through the open window; 
and ever afterward, in his mind, the western sunlight, the 
voice of the waves, and the girl's face were associated. It 
was a face so young, so fair, so pathetic, so full of misery 
and pain, so utterly woe-begone, so white, that he looked 
at her for some minutes quite unable to speak. Then she 
Baid to him: 

"Forgive me for coming to you; I have read of you 
that you are always kind to those in distress. I have a 
sorrow upon me greater than I can bear; I have come to 
aak you how I am to bear it. They say, that is, I read — 
that you carry out the doctrine of Christ In all this wide 
world, so full of sorrow, of truth, and wrong, there is no 
one so lonely, so friendless, so desolate as L" 

" Poor child," he said, pityingly — " my poor child." 

" I have sorrow," she said, " that is unlike any other 
any one has ever had, it is more bitter, more sharp, worse 
than death — ah, ten thousand times worse than death. 
Ah, Heaven^ if I could have died threo dwjs &qo. Yoq 



TEE DU^QC'S SEGKXT. 93 

wonder why I come to yCu. Some weeks since I read 
how you had rescued a girl from drowning, and had saved 
her, body and soul. I thought of it this morning when 
I went into a druggist's shop to get poison to kill myself, 
and I thought in my despair I would come to you, to see 
if you would do for me what you have done for that poor 
girL I, too, am sorely tempted to die." 

" My poor child," he said again, and this time the 
music of divine tenderness was in his voice. 

" It would be well for me," she said, if I could weep, 
but my heart is stone ; my brain seems clasped with a 
band of iron ; my eyes are balls of fire. I have tried to 
pity myself, to think of the time when I had father, 
mother, and home ; but my heart beats and my brain 
bums. Can you save me from death — you who teach the 
doctrine of Christ ? " 

" I will try, my dear child," he said. And by this time 
his face, with its angelic sweetness and sadness, had pro- 
duced upon her the impression it produced on all others. 

"First of all, my child, sit down," he said ; " you are 
tired and over excited. Great sorrow tries one eve* anoxe 
than great pain." 

He was in his element now. A soul needed him; he 
forgot his ten hours fast, and the hot dinner awaiting 
him. 

" Yes," she replied, " that is it — that is exactly true." 

She saw him raise his eyes, and hers followed. The 
western sun shone on the picture of a most beautiful face, 
divine in its pathetic grief, the head crowned with thorns, 
and for one moment she was startled. There had per- 
haps been grief and desolation more bitter than hers. 
Her eyes rested there for some minutes; perhaps the cur-» 
tent of her thoughts were a little changed. 

" I have been afraid — I am afraid," she said, " that if I 
ftm left alone I shaU kill myself; I want strong, kindhanda 
to help me and keep me from that sin. Will you, for the 
sake of Him whom you serve, will you do this for me ? " 

"I win, ' he answered. " I promise to befriend you, to 
help you in every way. Will you tell me what your 
trouble is?" 

She looked at him with a scared, frightened face. 

** I can not," she said. " That is what makes me afraid. 
Z oannot tell any one; mj lips are sealed. I have a secr«(| 



34 THE duke's segbet. 

but I took an oath to keep tliis secret. Already, becausa 
I could not break it, I have lost all I had in this world. 
Do you believe me ? " 

The pity and patience of his face deepened as he list- 
ened. 

"Does your trouble concern yourself or other people?* 
he asked. 

"Both," she replied. "If it were known, the con«= 
sequences would be more terrible for others than for 
myself. If I could tell it to any one on earth, it would 
be to you," she said. 

"Does your secret hold either sin or folly? tell me 
which." 

" I can not tell, I am no judge ; I can only tell you 
this, that I am the most desolate creature on this earth. 
Let me say all I can. I am an orphan ; my father and 
mother are both dead ; I never had sister or brother ; 1 
have neither kith nor kin. My mother had a brother, 
who left England years ago, but she believed him to be 
dead before she died herself. My father died first ; my 
mother lived for some years after him, long enough for 
me to love and miss her. I will not tell you about it ; 
you see those every day who lose well-loved fathers and 
mothers — that sorrow is not new to you." 

" Still I think no less of it because it is not new," said 
the rector, kindly. 

The girl continued : 

" My mother, before she di®d, left me with a school- 
mistress, whose name I can not tell you. She left with 
her a sufl&cient sum of money to pay for my education 
and find my clothes, with the understanding that when I 
was sixteen I should try to get into some situation, but 
the governess was always to be my friend and guardian. 

" When I had passed my sixteenth year she found me 
an excellent situation in the house of a great lady, and 
there for a time I was happy enough. Something hap- 
pened then — oh, Heaven, if I dared but to tell you what — 
something which angered the lady, and she dismissed me 
without character. I am alone in the world; lam without 
kith, kin, or friend. I have fifty pounds in my pocket and 
when that is spent I have no means of living — no charac- 
ter. I can get no situation. My strength has left me, mj 



THE DUKE'S SECRET. 86 

heart is broken. Oh, Heaven, was sorrow ever like unto 
my sorrow, grief unto my grief ?" 

Her face fell on her hands, and she wept so bitterly that 
the good rector at last grew alarmed. 

'• I see the difficulty," said the rector, kindly, " and it is 
undoubtedly a difficulty. There must always be this secret 
which you can never explain away, but it is one that af- 
fects your position very seriously — will it interfere witii 
your life ?" 

" It has marred it," she answered — "blighted and spoiled 
it. I want you to tell me if there is any comfort, any 
hope for me ?" 

" I hope so," he replied. " You see it is difficult to ad- 
vise when one knows nothing of the case. Can you tell 
me, for instance, whether it has to do with the two most 
fruitful sources of sorrow in this world — love or death ?" 

" No," she repHed, " I can not tell you anything about 
^. I have said that it shall never pass my hps, not even 
an allusion to it. I am powerless." 

" Can I help you without knowing it ?" asked the rector. 

" I think so. It is the help of a friend I want. At this 
moment as I stand before you, I am alone in the world. 
As I have told you, when my money is gone, I know not 
where to turn, either to get a living or anything else. 
But that is not all ; that ib the least. I want ease for my 
pain. I want to know how to bear the most cruel sorrow 
that a woman ever had." 

" I will tell you thftt," said the rector. " I can not of 
course tell of what nature your trouble may be, but I 
know that trouble should do to the soul it possesses that 
which fire does to the gold it purifies. You are very 
young, you must not let thoughts of despair or death 
come to you. I will tell you how we who believe in the 
efficacy of it, treat sorrow." 

He talked to her for an hour, forgetting his fatigue, his 
weakness, his long fast — talked until she sunk sobbing at 
his feet, but with the fiery longing for death and the 
ghastly despair gone from her tieai't — saddened and con- 
trite, but oh ! so much easier for the rehef of scalding 
tears. 

" You see," said the rector, " what sorrow will do for a 
•oul You gay you would like to die, that the life of tbif 



Z$ TEB DXJEE's SICKET. 

world is ended for jou, you can live for Heaven, and tKal 
is the true life." 

She could see it as through a glass dimly — the beauty 
and holiness, the grace and the purity of a life that was 
dawning upon her. 

" And now," said the rector, kindly, " what shall I do 
for you ? You want rest, you want time to think over all 
I have been saying. I can find you such a home ; but I 
iftust ask you one question. Do not let it pain you. You 
see that I respect your secret. I ask no question about 
your life, or the mystery that surrounds it I take for 
granted all that you tell me. I trust you, but I must ask 
you one question. Is there anything in your life that 
would unfit you for the companionship of good and 
noble women — or rather, I should say, for good and pure 
women ? Is there anything which, if made known they 
could blame you for ? " 

She looked at him thoughtfully. Through the clear 
eyes he could see the beauty of the soul. She was silent 
for a few minutes, but he saw that hesitation came from 
innocence, not from guilt. Then she looked at him again. 

" I believe not," she said. " I am conscious of much 
folly and imprudence, but not of wrong. I think — ^I am 
sure — not of wrong." 

" I am glad to hear it," said the rector ; *" and now vnll 
you come with me ? Stay, I had perhaps b^tJer tell you 
where I propose taking you. You have heard of the An- 
glican Convent of St. George ? " 

" Yes, I have read of it," she said, 

" I should like to take you there. You will find gentle 
and humane treatment; you will find the best and kindest 
of frienda They will be kind to you for Heaven's sake, 
my child, and not for any other. If your heart is crushed 
and bruised, you will find rest and comfort there. Will 
you go ?" 

" Yes," she replied, unhesitatingly. " I will g*:) anywhere 
you wish, and do as you wish." 

" That is good," he said. " Now come with me." 

He went into the hall and took down his hat. 

" We shall reach there before the supper bell rings," ht 
said. 

They walked together through the warm streets, where 
the light of the July day was fast wauug* audtlM 



THE duke's secbet. 37 

••und of the waves beating the Bhores mixed curiously 
•Hough with the noise of the traffic in the streets. It wa« 
not far away, and Noami Wynter looked up with some in- 
terest at the bare stone walls. It was a square building, 
with many windows, and surmounted by a large cross. 
Iron railings were in the front, a small flight of steps led 
to the entrance, in the door was a small aperture, through 
which the person who desired entrance could be seen. 
The Rev. Peter Mackay rang, and the door was opened by 
a sister with a long black vail. 

" I wish to see the superioress," he said. 

With a low, graceful obeisance the black-veiled sister led 
the way to a little, plainly furnished anteroom. 

" I will take the message at once," she said; and she 
left theru together. 

Then the rector turned with somehttle air of embarrass- 
ment to her. 

" I never thought to ask your name," he said. " We have 
many here whose name we hardly hear; but you must tell 
me your own name." 

" I can not do that," she said. "I can not tell you my 
own name. I will use my mother's; she was called Hester 
Leyburn. I will call myself Naomi Leyburn." 

"That will do," he said, nervously. "I wish, of course, 
it had been your own name." 

'\It is better than my own; it is my mother's," she replied. 

Then the door opened and the reverend mother entered 
the room — a tall, graceful-looking woman, with a pure, 
gentle face on which there was always a gentle smile. She 
bowed low to the Rev. Peter Mackay, and looked with 
interest at the beautiful, colorless face by his side. 

" Sister I have brought you one in sore distress," said 
the rector; " she will want all your good offices, both for 
body and souL She is tired; she wants food and comfort, 
and all that you know so kindly how to give." 

"We will do our best for her," said the superioress. " I 
hope, dear child, you will be happy with us. What is your 
name ?" 

"Naomi Leybtim," she replied; and the sweet, faint 
voice drew the superioress's attention to her. She looked 
Vfith. interest at the face so fair, so singularly beautiful, so 
colorless, so strange, with its fixed expression of pain aod 
Basel/, 



38 THE duke's secset. 

'* This young lady," said the rector, " has been in gre*t 
trouble, in great distress, and I wish her, sister, to remain 
here until she has recovered in body and mind. I must 
be her sole reference, and I am quite sure that will satisfy 
you." 

" Yes," said the superioress; " that is all I require. I 
m&j say that it is a fortunate thing. Miss Leyburn, you 
have come to us; when you feel recovered we shall be glad 
to have some assistance in the schools. Two of our sisters 
are very ill, and we need help. You will be most useful to 
us; but you must find rest, and get quite well." 

The young girl thanked her in a low, sweet voice. 

The rector said: 

" You will have no difficulty, I hope, in finding room 
for Miss Leyburn. The room that Clara Stewart had is 
empty, is it not ? " 

" Yes, and in any case we would make room, as it is 
your wish." 

" Then," said the rector, "IwiU leave you now; and, 
Miss Leyburn, I will call again to-morrow to see what 
more I can do for you. I leave you in safe and good 
hands, my dear child. When you say your prayers to- 
night ask Heaven to keep you fiom despair." 

"I wiU," she sobbed; "and I will thank you when I find 
Words strong enough and good enough." 

It seemed very strange and novel to her that first night 
in an Anglican convent — the black-veiled figures of the 
nuns, the ringing of the beUs, the strange sweet silence 
and calm. The sister superioress herself took her to her 
little room, which might have been called a cell. It was 
small, beautiful clean, plainly furnished with a little white 
bed, a small praying-desk and a httle stand, a few books, 
and a desk for writing. 

" If you want rest, dear child," said the superioress, 
" you wDl find it here. You take possession of your little 
room to-day; you remain there until you are well enough 
and strong enough to help in the schools. You wiU find 
that work alone gives happiness ; you wiU forget all your 
troubles when your mind is engaged, and you look as if 
you had seen enough." 

She kissed her kindly on the brow, with the sweet and 
tender smile of a loving mother on her face. 

** I shall send you up some tea and you must try to eat,** 



'■^ THE duke's seceet. 86 

said the superioress. " Good-night, and Heavea bless you, 
dear child." 

It was all so novel, so strange. "When the door closed 
upon the kindly face of the superioress, it seemed to her 
as if she was alone in the world, the strange, solemn hush 
and calm were so great and beautiful. 

Then, after a time, the door opened, and a pretty, bright- 
eyed little sister came in, bringing with her a tray, on 
which was set out a little tea, very plain and homely, but 
clean and comfortable. The bright-eyed little sister, 
whom they called Agatha, smiled in her face. 

" Sister superioress says you must eat all the bread and 
butter, dear child ; also drink all the tea." 

" I wiU. try," said Naomi. 

" Then you will succeed," said Sister Agatha. " One 
generally does succeed when one tries very hard indeed. 
Is it not so ?" 

The bright face and cheery voice did her good uncon- 
sciously. She took the tea that the kindly little sister 
poured out for her ; it was the first she had touched since 
the day she left Kood Castle — that which was brought to 
her at the hotel she turned from with loathing. It re- 
freshed her and did her good ; the deadly pallor left her 
face, a faint color returned to it, and Sister Agatha looked 
at her with delight. 

" You are better now, dear child," she said " How 
pleased sister superioress will be to hear it. 

It was so pleasant to hear the constant repetition of 
those words, "my dear child." It seemed toNaomi as though 
once again she belonged to some one, and that some one 
took an interest in her. Sleep came to her eyeHds, rest 
to her heart; once again she laid her head on the piUow, 
and slept the sleep of an innocent child. This was some- 
thing like home — every one so busy, so active, so kind, 
BO cheerful; and as she grew better and able to talk to 
tliem, they aU grew very fond of the delicate, lovely, gentle 
girl. She was ill for sometime; the good rector and 
mother superioress were very anxious about her. 

" She gives me the impression," said the reverend 
mother, " of a girl whose very heart has been crushed." 

"I believe it has," said the rector, "she bag sufered 
t9me terrible sorrow." 



49 ThA JfCKSi'H SiSOBZ^ 

But after a time youth and a strong constiuitioB helptiL 
her, and she began to recover. 

When she was quite well, she went into the school, and 
\rorked there with all her heart. She seemed well and 
contented; a certain air of patience was over her — patience 
and strength, but not happiness. 

There was a dreadful shock in store for the rector and 
the sisters. 

For some weeks she had seemed to be ailing, and at 
last, by the rector's advice, the doctor was sent for. 

The result of the interview was most unforeseen. 

The sister superior sent for the rector in great haste. 

Naomi Leyburn had disappeared ; no one knew where 
she had gone. 

She left the convent while all the sisters were engaged. 

"I don't know how to tell you, or what to say," said the 
sister superior. "You brought the young lady here as 
Miss Leyburn." 

" Well ? " said the rector, seeing that she hesitated — 
«weU?" 

" As Miss Leyburn ; and the doctor says that in a short 
time, young as she is, she will be a mother herself." 

The rector looked in amaze at the sister, and for some 
few minutes they were silent. At last he said : 

*' You can not mean it, sister superioress ; there must 
be some mistake. I can not believe it." 

" Lideed, I fear it is true. Doctor Sleigh is a man of 
too great eminence to make any mistake about it. I sent 
for Doctor Sleigh because several of our sisters thought 
the unfortunate young lady must be consumptive, she 
seemed always so weak and ill ; she fainted after school 
hours, and they were all greatly concerned about her. 
Doctor Sleigh is considered very clever in consumptive 
cases." 

" He made a mistake probably in this," said the rector. 

He was accustomed to open vice and open sin, but he 
had never had to deal with a case of this kind before, and 
he was quite at a loss. 

Besides which, there was a look in the eyes of the supe- 
rioress — not quite of reproach, but something like it, and 
he felt that he had, perhaps, been imprudent, and wanting 
is di«ieretioxu Yet after all, what could he have done? 



THE DUKE'S SEOBET. 41 

It waa not ia human nature to turn a deaf ear U> her 
appeal 

" I am very sorry," he said. " I am sure it has been a 
great anxiety to you, reverend mother." 

" It has made me very unhappy," she replied : " but I 
am gkd to say our sisters knew nothing about it. Unfortun- 
ately, the inlirmarian, Sister Martha, was with her at the 
time while the doctor spoke to her; but I have placed her 
under obedience not to mention it, so that the secret re- 
mains between the doctor. Sister Martha, yourself and 
myself. I know the doctor will respect the confidence placed 
in him; but even though never a syllable of it should be 
known, it is a most unpleasant thing." 

" I am deeply grieved," said the rector, and indeed he 
was. If deceit could hide behind a face so young and 
lovely, so delicate and fair, where look for truth? and she 
must have deceived him. 

" Do you think," asked the superioress, " that she was 
married? I do not Hke to ask you the question — you 
brought her to us as Miss Leyburn." 

" And even that," thought the rector, "was not her own 
name. What shall I do. 

Evidently, the best way out of it was to tell the whole 
truth to the superioress ; »t was of no use hiding anything 
from her, not in the least. 

" I am afraid I did an imprudent thing in bringing her 
here," he said, " but I was quite at my wits' end ; and she 
seemed so highly respectable, so really good and inno- 
cent; besides which, she appealed to me in such a man- 
ner, I really could not help doing it." 

And then he told her all that had passed on that warm 
July evening when she had found him seated in his study. 
He repeated her words. 

" I did wonder," he said, " whether she had been un- 
fortunate, as so many young girls are; but that which re- 
assured me was her extreme youth, her natural goodness 
of character, her extreme innocence and simplicity. It 
struck me, sjso, that she must be good and true or she 
would not have sought for a clergyman in her sorrow. I 
thought that the mark of a naturally rehgious mind." 

" So it was," said the superioress, " undoubtedly." 

" I asked her," continued the rector, " one question, and 
it was this: whether there was anything in her life that 



4s? THE DITKe's SECMJT. 

unfitted her for the companionship of good and innoccoft 
women. She looked Hke a simple child when she said 
* no.' Yet I can not think that she was mai'ried. She 
spoke of no husband, only of a trouble always the same, 
the greatest trouble in the world: there was none other, 
she assured me, like it — none. I came to the conclusioa 
that her sorrow was the unkindness of relatives; it did 
not seem to me to be caused by the nonsense and follj 
that young people call love." 

" No ; I agree with you in that, she was so sad, so re- 
signed in every way. She was not in the least like a 
love-sick girl — not in the least." 

" You have no idea where she has gone ? " asked the 
rector. 

"Not in the least. She has taken some things with 
her, most of the contents of her box, but not the box 
itself. We have no idea when she went. She attended 
the afternoon class, and said her head ached. Sister 
Agatha took some tea into her room, and she was there 
then. Directly afterward the doctor came, and we had 
this most unpleasant interview, and she went back to hex 
room." 

" Were you angry with her ? " asked the rector. 

"'No ; I was horrified, of course, but it was not for me 
to judge or condemn her. I simply said that I would 
speak to her on the morrow. I knew that it was quite 
impossible for her to remain here another day, but I in- 
tended to send for you, and still to befriend her ; but 
this morning when the sister, missing her, went to her 
room she was not to be found. Of course every one in 
the convent knows now that she has disappeared from 
among us, but only three people know the reason why.'* 

" It must have been most distressing for all of you," 
said the rector. 

" It was, indeed ; Sister Martha was dreadfully dis- 
tressed. The worst of it was that the girl herself would 
not believe it — she cried, she insisted that could not be 
true ; she would not hear one word of it, until he grew an- 
gry at last and made her listen. Then she was in despair 
— that makes me so frightened for her. I have never 
seen such despair. She lay weeping on the ground, and 
we could do nothing with her." 



THE duke's secbet. 4S 

"Was the doctor angry — did lie speak sharply to her?" 
■eked the rector. 

" No. When Sister Martha carried her off, he said it 
was the saddest case he had ever come across in all his 
professional career, she was so very young and fragile, so 
rarely beautiful, too. He seemed to think it quite im- 
possible that she should Hve. My great fear is that she 
Las already made away with herself, she seemed to feel 
quite miserable enough for it — quite." 

" I hope not," ci'ied the rector, starting to his feet and 
pacing with rapid steps the little audience room. " I hope 
to Heaven she has not. I thought I had brought her to 
a haven of rest in bringing her here. And you say you 
have no single trace of her ? " 

** No, that we have not," said the superioress. " You see 
it is a case in which we can really take no active steps at 
all; we can not go out to look for her; we can not do any* 
thing that would attract attention," 

" I must do something," said the rector. " I must go 
and look for her; after all our trouble and prayers it is 
hard to think that the precious soul should be lost. I 
must find her. When I think of her face I can not believe 
that she is guilty." 

Said the superioress, quietly: 

" That is quite a man's way of judging; I do not judge 
by her face, but by her actions. She was one of the most 
modest, gentle, well-bred girls I have ever seen; and I 
have had some experience, as you know. I have never 
Been a fault in her except that she was always sad, always 
with a far-off look in her eyes as though her thought? 
were not here. To my mind she was one of the most per- 
fect of girls." 

" It seems hard to think, then, that she can have gone 
completely wrong, as we have reason to fear. If she has 
deceived me I shall never have faith in human nature 
•gain." 

" Yes, you will," said the superioress, with a faint smile. 
** It will' take more than that to wither your beUef in human 
goodness." 

"I must go and look for her, said the. rector. "I am 
iJure of one thing, j'ou have done jour best for her in 
every way — if I find her, as I pray Heaven I may do, you 
wiU du your best for her stilL And sister," h% added, 



4A I'HE DUKS^S SECBXr. 

•* human help is good — help from HeaT«n is b«tt«r; pray 
for her and tell all your sisters to do the same." 

"From that night, when the western sim fell on the 
stained glass windows, whenever the sisters knelt in church 
for even song, they prayed for the unhappy wanderer ; and 
the kindly superioress, whose heart had been touched by 
the girl's quiet, graceful character, shed tears when she 
prayed for the wanderer, and the homeless, the lost, and the 
friendless for many a bitter day. But from the day she 
left them they never saw her again. 

The rector went out to begin a search that was utterly 
■useless; he went to the different hotels, the railway sta- 
tions, lodging-houses, coffee-houses, but he heard nothing 
of her: he went to all the piers, to see if in her despair 
she had flung herseK from either; but there was no report 
of any accident or suicide; he examined the coast-guard 
and tiie boatmen, but they had seen nothing; the mo- 
ment he heard — as at Brightsea one hears so often — that 
a body had been found, he hastened to indentify it, 
always fearing to see the beautiful young face fixed in 
death. 

And for years the good curate continued that search; he 
never forgot her; in all his dreams and memories she 
occupied a prominent place; he never knelt down to pray 
but that her name was fixed on his hps; for years he 
thought of her, prayed for her, looked for her, but never 
saw her again. 

XHD OF PKOLOaVS. 



CHAPTER I 

•^WHV DOES HE NOT MAEBY T* 

John Rubktn, so every one said, had succeeded to th« 
finest practice in London. One of the best known legal 
firms was that of Ruskyn Brothers. Originally there had 
been three brothers ; two of them died immarried, and 
the third married, lived to a good old age, enjoyed hia 
life, and died, leaving one son behind him. 

That son, John, was the envy of half the legal world. 
B« racc«eded to a magnificent pracUoe; but the chief 



THE duee's seobst. 4b 

floiiree of his revenue was derived from the management 
of the grand ducal estates of Castlemayne. 

For long generations past the Ruskyns had managed 
the affairs of the Castlemaynes. They knew everything 
connected with the estates, the length of the leases, the 
histories of the tenants; they knew the dowry each lady 
of the house had brought with them. 

No Duke of Castle maine had ever troubled himself about 
his rents or his revenues; they were in the hands of faith- 
ful stewards. It had been a remarkable fact through all 
their history that the elder of each house died, and the 
younger succeeded at the same time. For instance, old 
Richard Ruskyn was dead, and his son John succeeded 
him; so the late Duke of Castlemaine, the genial, kindly, 
hospitable duke, who had never spoken an angry word in 
his life, and had been good to every one, was dead, and 
his son Bertrand, the thirteenth duke, reigned in his 
Btead. The duchess had felt her husband's loss very se- 
verely, but she was one of those who never yield to feeling 
or emotion when there was duty to be done. She con- 
sidered her duties were now doubled, that she must look 
after her son with more care and dihgence than she had 
ever done, that she must have a firmer hand than ever in 
the ruling of affairs. She felt herself to be both duke and 
duchess; her son, to her, was still a child to be managed 
and guided; that he should ever be quite independent 
of her was a thing that she never contemplated at all 
and would have laughed at The duke was dead and the 
duke reigned in his stead. Duke Bertrand had succeeded 
to numerous estates — ^to Rood Castle in Derbyshire, to 
Rood House in Belgravia, to Craig Castle, a stately old 
fortress in Northumberland, to Hatton Hall in Kent, and 
to Cumber House, in the Isle of Wight — succeeded to a 
rent roll that was almost unequaled; to a fortune in 
pictures, statues, works of art, magnificent furniture, jew- 
els that might have formed a queen's dowry; but they 
were in the possession of the duchess. She would give 
them up to Bertrand's wife, she said; but no wife was ex- 
pected yet One of the troubles that she kept shut up in 
that proud heart of hers was this — ^that her son showed 
no desire to find a wife for himself, none whatever : on the 
eontrary, he was never well disposed for the society of 
Mdiec; he preferred that of his own gez; of all flirtatioa hi 



46 THE duke's SECBini 

was as innocent as a child. His utter indifference to th« 
fair sex was unpardonable. The duchess never wearied 
of bringing first one beauty, then another; she talked te 
him continually of the necessity of marrying. 

" You must have a wife, Bertrand," she said to him 
almost every day of his life. " A bachelor duke is a thing 
quite unheard of. You must marry well so as to add to 
the dignity and honor of your house, and you must marry 
some one well fitted to fill the position. After the royal 
family the Castlemaynes hold the first place in England — 
of that I am quite sure — and you must bear it in mind 
when you marry." 

He never made hor any answer; he naver said that he 
should or should not, that he was wiUiug or not wiUing. 
At times he smiled or sighed as the humor took him, but 
never a word said he. Again she would allude to tb« 
famous Castlemayne diamonds, said by connoisseurs to be 
the finest in England. 

"I am only keeping these diamonds until your wife 
comes, Bertrand." 

His answer was always: 

" No one will look so well in them as youself, mother," 
and that she quite believed. 

Again her grace would feel uneasy about him and say: 

" Bertrand, I wish you were a little liko other men. I 
do not want to see you, fast, foohsli, dissipated or extrava- 
gant, or anytliing of that kind; but I wish you were like 
other young men, and devoted some little time or atten- 
tion to the ladies. How can you choose a wife if you avoid 
them ? There is Ludy Cassandra Lnrville, the prettiest, 
wealthiest girl in England, why not try to care for her? " 

He laughed. 

" That is no answer," said the stately duchess, " nona 
at all," and her son turned away. 

So ten years passed, and yet she had made no impres- 
sion on him. The twelfth Duke of Castlemayne had been 
ten years in his grave; the thirteenth duke had been ten 
years the reigning head of the house. Ten years had but 
added to the stately beauty of the duchess, and had taken 
no charm from her — neither that of bright eyes, flowing 
hair, nor grace of figure. 

Ten years and at last the duke was oompletel/ ai baj. 



r.- — - 'iTHE duke's secbet. 47 

/ 

Her grace gave him no peace. He must marry — ^why 
could he not do as other people did ? 

That which distressed Adeliza, Duchess of Castlemayne 
most, was this — the family she detested most was the one 
that, unless her son married, must succeed her — the Erer- 
leighs of Leigh Major. Laura, Lady Everleigh, and the 
Duchess of Castlemayne had been rivals since they were 
babies. The duchess was a magnificent brunette. Lady 
Everleigh the queen of blondes; they had been rivals in 
every way. Even Herbert, the twelfth duke, had wavered 
at first between the two girls, uncertain which he admired 
the most; ultimately he decided in favor of the duchess. 

Many people thought it a strange coincidence that the 
beautiful Adeliza should marry the duke and her equally 
beautiful rival should marry his next of kin — she married 
Lord Everleigh, Baron of Leigh ; she had two daughters 
and one son. The daughters, Hilda and Blanche, had 
lately been presented, and theii- rare loveliness had created 
quite a furor. Lord Everleigh had been dead for some 
years, and Arthur had succeeded him. That which made 
the duchess so angry was that in the " Peerage," and 
every other book which told of the Enghsh nobility, she 
read always that Arthur, Lord Everleigh, was heir pre- 
sumptive to his Grace the Duke of Castlemayne. 

" How absurd this is, Bertrand," she would cry to her 
son, "how more than foolish; every time that ridiculous 
Lady Laura reads this it is a fresh triiimph to her." 

" Why do you call Lady Laura ridiculous ? " asked the 
duke. " She seems to be a very nice woman." 

" My dear, I detest her, and I know that she triumphs 
over me. I know that she is always speculating on the 
horrible chance of her son succeeding you. She is the 
most insolent of women. I met her at the Embassy last 
evening; she laughed — positively laughed at me — and 
said, ' Your son seems determined to make my son a duke. ' 

Imagine that insolence. * My son does nothing of the 
kind,' I said. ' Then why does he not marry ? ' she said. 
'I assure you that my son is gaining additional favor every 
day that sees his grace unmarried.* Now, Bertrand, you 
must know that this is utterly odious to me. Why do 
you not begin in real earnest ? ** 

" My deaiest mother, be patient I will see Mr. Rue- 
kpx. to-i iorrow." 



48 THE DUKE'S SECRET. 

She looked up in utmost wonder. 

" You will see Mr. Kuskyn ! What on earth has your 
lawyer to do with your getting married ?" 

He perceived that he had made a most terri*ble mistake, 
but thought to get out of it as best he could. 

" I was not thinking in the least of what I said. I hava 
to see Mr. Ruskyn to-morrow on some very important 
business, and I will think of what you say, mother, about 
the other matter." 

The duchess raised her hands in despair. 

" My dear Bertrand, what hope is there for any man 
who calls love and marriage the other matter? I am 
afraid it is utterly helpless; but I shall never rest in my 
grave if Laura Everleigh's son is master of Rood Castle. 
I would almost sooner see it burned and the title destroyed 
'JMUi that time should come." 

" How you hate that poor woman, mother," he said. 

*' It is not a question of my hating Lady Laura, but of 
your getting married," she replied. " There are at this 
moment three of the nicest girls in England waiting for 
you, and you let every chance pass by. It is a cruel dis- 
appointment to me, my son." 

" I am sorry, mother. I do not like to disappoint you 
in any one thing." 

" You ha^e said so ever since you were of age, yet you 
never take one step in the right direction — never. I shall 
never have the happiness that other mothers have; and it 
seems hard, for you are my only chUd. I shall never live 
as other mothers do to rejoice in my grandchildren, to 
grow young again in their youth, to see sturdy, noble lads 
and graceful girls, who can carry on the honors of a fine 
old race. I am desolate and lonely, because you will not 
marry, will not bring a yoimg wife home to lighten the 
old castle. I am growing older and would fain rest at 
times, but I never can." 

He looked very thoughtful; his mother went on: 

" I am so anxious about it, Bertrand. You will never 
know how much I think of this fact of your showing no 
inchnation to get married. It is my one trouble in life. 
I say to myself that if your father had lived it would have 
been so different; he would have impressed you more than 
I ieem able to do." 

" I »m sure that I am always most anxious to pletUM 



r THE duke's SICBST. 40 

rva, mother. I do not remember one instanee in which 
have nm counter to yotir wishes in any way." 

" Except in this, Bertrand. You will laugh when I tell 
you that even when I saw you a little baby in your cradle 
I speculated as to whom you would marry, and I decided 
in my own mind that a royal duchess might be proud to 
accept you. Think, then, what a disappointment it has 
been to me that you should, of aU men in the world, never 
think of marrying. I am so anxious over it, so full of 
dread lest Lady Laura's son should succeed, that I would 
be willing for you to marry any one rather than liv« 
single." 

" Ah, mother," he said, with a d^ep sigh, " if you had 
but thought that years ago." 

The duchess looked up in stately surprise. 

"Tears ago, Bertrand! Why, did you ever car* fo* 
any one years ago ? " 

" I might have cared for some one, but I knew that it 
"Would be of no use whatever." 

She never thought of the little episode of the handker- 
chief and the knots of ribbon ; she had forgotten the 
white face upraised to her son's ; she had forgotten the 
Bweet, girlish voice that cried, " I appeal to you. Lord 
St. Albans ! " In her own mind she thought over those ol 
her own class with whom she had associated, and she 
could remember no one in whom he had ever seemed 
interested. 

" Talking the matter over is of no use," said the duchess. 
*' I certainly never dreamed that my life wotild close in a 
cloud of mortification and regret. It will unless you 
think more seriously of marriage than you have yet done. 
I was positively told last week that Lady Laura said her 
heart had always been fixed on Rood Castle ! I can not 
endure to think of her hving in my rooms, sneering, as 1 
know she would, at everything I held most sacred." 

And the duchess wiped tears of real mortification from 
her eyes. 

The duke was really distressed. 

" My dearest mother, I did not indeed think you had 
the matter so completely at heart. I wiU do my best; I 
will see — I mean that I will look round me. Gh««r ufl 
lady Laura shall never have Bood Castle." 



60 THX duke's secret. 

She did what was a very rare action with h«r — ske 
bent forward and kissed her son. 

"Do think it well over, my s@n; I shall rest my hopes 
on joxl" 

CHAPTEE iX 

** THIS WBETCHEJ) SECRET HAUNTS ME." 

Long after his mother had left him the diike sat buried 
In deep thought. Over his handsome face came an ex- 
pression of weariness and unhappiness; once or twice a 
smothered groan came from his lips. 

•' If I could have foreseen it, if I could have but known!" 
he said to himself. "My poor mother I " Once or twice 
he rose from his chair and paced up and do-vn the long 
room. " I can see no way out of it," he said, "nor do I 
believe any one else can find one. What shall I do ? " He 
looked miserable, wretched, dissatisfied. 

He was the wealthiest duke in England ; he had more 
money than he could possibly spend ; he had estates all 
over the country, he had houses and lands, he had every 
order that could be conferred upon him ; his position and 
influence were unequaled and unbounded ; he had every 
gift of nature and of fortune which could make a man's 
heart glad and happy ; and yet he was perhaps one of the 
most wretched men in the world. There were times 
when he envied the poorest laborer on his estate. He 
had been known to stand at a cottage door watching hus- 
band, wife, and children, and then turn away with tears in 
his eyes; he had been known to stand and watch a group 
of children at play, mothers with children aroimd them, 
and turn away with a moan on his lips. 

As the years passed the simple people who lived on hig 
estate became more and more sure that he had had a great 
trouble in his life. They talked about the young duke in 
a kindly, sympathetic fashion, but they always ended by 
saying that he looked like one who had something on his 
mind; what that something could be they never made the 
faintest attempt at guessing. 

The duchess had never seemed quite human in the eyes 
of these good people; her beanty, her tall, commanding 
figure, her handsome face, her magnificence raised her 
ia, their eyes far beyond the every-day world. They under- 



tms duke's secbsi^ H 

stood the duke better. Every one wondered why he did 
not maiTy — all the matrons and maidens of the fashionable 
world were anxious over it. Tiiere were hundi'eds of 
pretty girls in the marriage market — only one of them 
would be Duchess of Castlemayne, and the question was 
which should be it ? They were only just beginning to 
realize that it was just possible he nerer intended to 
marry at all. 

" What am I to do ?" said the duke to himself. " I do 
aot beUeve that in all the wide world there is a man in 
guch a predicament as I am at this present moment." 

The result of his long meditation and dehberation was 
that he wrote a note to his lawyer, asking him to meet him 
the jioming following at his office; and the next day 
found him there punctual to a moment. 

Th-^ common idea of a lawyer — above all of the lawyer 
in novels — is that of a bald-headed, wrinkled, money-lov- 
ing man; but John Ruskyn was very different to this. 
He was a fine, tall man, with a frank, genial face; and apart 
from money-making he had a true liking for his profes- 
sion; he enjoyed an intricate law case; he enjoyed the ins 
and outs of law, always so uncertain; he enjoyed control 
over land and money, and he did his best in a thoroughly 
honest fashion for his clients; he was keen and bright of 
intellect, and he brought it all to bear on each case in- 
trusted to him. But his great delight and pleasure wat 
the agency of the large Castlemayne estates; he had care- 
fully mastered the details; he knew far better than the 
duke what he had — what stocks, what securities, what 
farm-leases — everything connected with the estate was in 
his mind, all quite straight, distinct, and clear; he was in- 
terested in his work; he was proud of the duke's confi- 
dence in him. 

He wondered a little what this imperative summons 
was for — why the duke must see him so particularly this 
morning. There was no especial business that he remem- 
bered, but the duke's note was so worded as to give him 
the impression that he wanted to see him on very impor- 
tant business. It was the middle of a very brilliant sea- 
son, when the duke's time must be fully occupied; and 
John Ruskyn wondered why he had not sent for him to 
Rood House instead of driving down to Lincoln's Inn to 
806 him. Then h% smiled to himself as the picture of tho 



ft TBB DUEE*S SEOBXT. 

duchess came before him, and he felt pretty sure that the 
duke did not want his mother to know the purport of this 
interview. 

He sat before 'his writing-table, waiting anxiously for 
the Duke of Gastlemajne's appearance, and when at last 
his grace entered John Euskyn was struck with the anx- 
iety of his face and the nervousness of his manner. He 
saw that he turned to the door as though anxious to sea 
that it was secure, then he came up to the table and the 
two shook hands. 

The lawyer made some passing remark, as a matter of 
course, about the weather; the duke threw himself lan- 
guidly into a chair, and sighed deeply. A profound silence 
followed, broken only by the buzzing of a blue-bottle fly 
in the window. 

" I wish he would speak," said the lawyer to himself. 
He broke the ice at last by saying he understood that his 
grace wished to see him on very particular business, so 
that he had given orders that he should not be disturbed. 

Then the duke roused himself. 

" That is right, Buskyn; I have very much to say to you. 
I hope we will be uninterrupted. I have a secret to tell 
you. I know it is of no more use to ask a lawyer's advice 
vnthout telling him the whole of one's affairs, than it is to 
take a physician's counsel, and conceal from him all the 
symptoms of the disease." 

"Tour grace is perfectly right," said JohnRuskyn; "no 
lawyer can give good advice unless he can see the case, 
as our American friends phrase it, 'all around' " 

" Certainly not. I have often wished to tell you this» 
but it seemed useless; now, however, things have come to 
such a pass that I must take some steps. My mother, the 
duchess, urges me so continually to get married." 

" I think that every true friend your grace has in the 
world would do the same thing," said the lawyer, frankly. 

** Do you ever hear people talking about Lord Arthur 
Everleigh as my heir and next of kin ?" asked the duke. 

"Frankly, yes, your grace, I have — often, too. Lady 
Laura Everleigh is by no means a reticent woman; and 
she talks quite openly as to the chance of her son's succes- 
sion. Your grace speaks openly to me, I will do the same 
to you. I hear from every one interested in you what a 
•Ml thing it ig.you do fiot murj, Th« Sverleighs ar» 



THE duke's SECBET. fS 

▼ery much liked, very popular, but they are extravagant, 
and wholly without thought. If ever Lord Arthur Ever- 
leigh becomes Duke of Castlemayne he will make ducka 
and drakes of the finest property in England." 

" I do not like him," said the duke, quietly. "I am in 
the greatest dilemma in which a man was ever placed, I 
see no way out of it. I can not marry — I can do nothing. 
The knowledge of it eats my heart away. I dread to look 
at my mother's face; and when she begins to urge these 
things on me, I am the most miserable man in the 
■world." 

" Your grace ought not to be miserable," said the law- 
yer gravely. 

" Not only am I completely wretched," he said, "but 
my life is completely paralyzed. I have no interest what- 
ever in any single thing ; my life is a burden instead of a 
pleasure; this wretched secret of mine haunts me; it is like 
a grim specter always looming over me. It will ease my 
heart and mind to tell it to you. I need not ask for in- 
violable secrecy — that is a matter of course ; but I do ask 
you this — you are a man of keen intellect, of quick 
resource, of great knowledge and will — I want you to put 
all these powers into activity for me. Listen to my story, 
think of it, try how you can best help me." 

" My secret is the story of a folly committed when I 
was quite a young man, and it was a folly that has 
pfiralyzed my whole life. I will tell you the details. 

" The duchess, my mother, had an orphan niece. Lady 
Helen Yaughan — Lady NeU, we called her always — left to 
her care. The child had, I beheve, a large fortune, but 
she was delicate when she came to Rood Castle — so deli- 
cate that my father, who was goodness itself to every one, 
would not hear of her going to school, but said there 
must be a governess found for her. One was found ; an 
elderly, stern-looking woman, who had not a smile in her 
whole composition. The child drooped and pined ; she 
was always crying ; and the elderly governess pursued a 
rigorous course of punishment for every tear shed. 

"At last my father interfered — as a rule he was easily 
managed, submissive to my mother ; but when he really 
did exert his authority, even my mother had to obey — 
and he said the child was young, and she wanted a young 
gOTomess who could laugh, and sing, and play tfith he^ 



6i THE duke's secret. 

when her lessons were ended. For a wonder my mother 
did not object, because she loved the child. I was away 
from home — and I may as well add that I returned from 
my European tour one year earlier than had been ar- 
ranged — I was to travel with the Reverend Eric Beech ; 
but at the end of two years I asked him to return. I had 
had enough of it. 

" Perhaps had the duchess known that I should spenc" 
the next year at home she would have been more pruden^! 
and would have thought twice before she brought a youn^ 
and most lovely girl into the house. I came back quite 
unexpectedly. I remember that I brought home boxes 
filled with toys for Lady NelL I loved her very dearly ; 
she was like a favorite little sister to me. She was delighted 
to see me. I never thought about the governess, never 
heard her name mentioned, or any allusion made to her." 

"One morning — ^you must pardon me, Ruskyn, if in my 
secret there is the very madness of love and romance — a 
love story above all, a tragedy that is quite out of keeping 
with a lawyer's office — one morning, a beautiful tender 
morning in May, when the hawthorn was building on the 
hedges, and the laburnum blossoms shining like gold, I 
went out into the park. I had nothing to do, and I re- 
merabered how I had always loved the May mornings. As 
I strolled along quite unconscious that fate had begun to 
weave a spell I could never break, I heard the sound of 
Lady Nell's sweet laugh in the distance. Longing to 
see the child I went in that direction — while my life 
lasts I shall never forget the sight I saw there. 

" Do you know how the lime-trees look in the early 
May? there light is half golden, half green, so dehcato 
and dainty that there is nothing in nature like it. There 
was a cluster of them, and the sunlight streaming through 
them showed every delicate, feathery, graceful leaf; the 
wind stirred them, and they looked like a tremulous mass 
of green and gold. And underneath ? Ah, me, the years 
have fled, the sun rises and sets; but it will never again 
shine on anything one-half so fair; of course you will 
think it the old story. I wish the years could go back 
and I could show you the girl as I saw her sitting imder 
the lime blossoms. 

"I can not, nor can any words, paint her; the sun- 
l^ams fell on a gr^Q^fui head, turning ijie ricli brown htit 



THE duke's secret. S5 

into a perfect gold, the upturned face was liKs r flower; 
eyes deep blue, deep as the blue of heaven, the loveliest 
eyes that ever drew a man's heart from his breast; the 
lovehest mouth, red lips, and little white teeth; a face that 
looks at you from the canvas of Greuze but is seldom seen 
in real life. I wonder now, as I recall it, that young, 
romantic, and foolish as I was, I wonder I did not f^ 
^ore and then on my knees and worship it." 

CHAPTEB UL 

bebtrand's love stobt. 

" The child saw me and came running to me full cf de- 
light; the beautiful head was raised to look after her, and 
the eyes met mine. It was all over with me, Ruskyn. 
Some men take years to love; others do as I did, plunge 
into it at once. I had not looked into her beautiful, shy 
eyes one minute before I loved her with the maddest love. 
Lady Nell broke the ice. 

" * Lord St. Albans, this is my governess,' she said. 'Is 
she not a nice one ? The other was old and cross; her 
face was Hke a withered apple; this one is so different. 
Come and speak to her.' 

"With the child clinging to my hand and dancing 
round me I went to her. She rose — ah, Ruskyn, the 
sweetest, fairest vision of girlish youth and beauty — fair 
as the May morning itself. She reminded me of Brown- 
ing's 'Beautiful Evelyn Rosse,' with 'the red young 
mouth, and the hair of gold.' How my mother could have 
so forgotten her prudence as to admit a girl so young 
and so marvelously beautiful as an inmate of the house- 
hold, I can not tell; the bear idea of any danger to me 
through it never seemed to occur to them. I imagine 
that they thought I should be abroad for some time, and 
even under the same roof we were not likely to meet — 
that is, if they thought at all about it. I spoke to her 
some commonplace words, and she answered me; then I 
hardly remember what passed, except that I stood there 
rooted to the spot, my eyes fixed on the lovely face. The 
whole world in these few minutes changed for me; a 
thousand thoughts and hopes woke suddenly in my 
heart, a thousand desires ; a brighter blue came over the 
■kjT. a brighter green to the grass; the meaning of tht 



56 THE duke's seosit. 

sunslimt^, and th« birds' song, and the tremulous b«aufy 
of the lun© blossoms, came to me quite suddenly. I 
seemed to understand life -with aU its mysteries, its 
beauties, its tragedies, as I had never done before ; and 
this because I hac; looked at a girl's fair face, and had 
left my heart under iier feet. You must remember that 
i was only just twenty-one; as you know in our family 
the leg^l coming of age is twenty-three — Heaven only 
knows why, unless it is the steadier age of the two. 

" I was just twenty-one, and I thought very little about 
love — nothing at all about lovers, except that there waa 
something very silly about the whole business. I had 
been quite indifferent to the whole race of girls; cricket, 
swimming, shooting, hunting, fencing, anything seemed 
better to me than hovering about drawing-rooms. I won- 
dered often how men could waste their time in such fashion; 
but now, if this girl with one glance from her beautiful 
eyes had bidden me stay I would have stood by her side 
forever. I know now that each Castlemayne has had in 
his life one mad, hot, jealous love like this. It has been 
a curse or a blessing to the race; but be it which it may, 
it has fallen on each one." 

** I know," said the lawyer, " I have heard father talk 
about it. " 

" The loves of the Castlemaynes would make a long his- 
tory," said the duke; "most of them have married sen- 
sibly and well when the love fit was passed. I have been 
the most foolish, the weakest, the most cowardly of them 
all; and perhaps I paid the most severe penalty; but I 
must not wander from my story. Lady Nell, as I said, 
broke the ice, and we were soon talking as though we had 
known each other for years. I asked her name, and she 
told me ,Naomi Wynter. I thought there was no music 
like it. 

" * How strange,' I said, * that is quite a coincidence. I 
have always thought Naomi the most melodious and 
beautiful of names, and have wondered much why it is 
not more used; and in some strange fashion the music of 
the name seemed to enter into and become at once the 
music of my life. 

" We spent perhaps an hour together; you have seen 
men maddened with wine, or spirits, or drugs — that was 
JBDj case exactly. I came away irom her; it M«iaed to 



THE buee's segsex^ 57 

me that the whole world was going round. I could not 
■peak or hear. I was dazed and bewildered. Her beau- 
tiful face went everywhere with me. I saw it in my 
dreams, and in my waking hours it was never from me. 
It was the first, unreasoning, mad, earnest love of a boy, 
and you may know what that is. 

" I wrote her a little note, which Lady NeU gave her, 
telhng her I must see her again, and that I would be in 
the same place on the following morning. 

"We met again and again; each time I loved her more 
and more, \mtil, in the height of my foUy and madness I 
thought that I could not live any longer without her. I 
grew bolder — how it was that we were never foiuid out I 
can not imagine. I became afraid lest Lady Nell shoidd 
mention our meetings, though I always gave it the ap- 
pearance of an accident. She never did mention it in any 
way, although we did not ask her to keep it secret — her 
own keen, kind, childish instinct seemed to teach her 
that it would be better untold. 

" I asked her to find time to meet me when the little 
Lady NeU had gone to bed. I had always been accus- 
tomed to go out into the grounds with my cigar — the 
duchess never tolerated smoking except in lie smoking- 
room — so we fell into the habit of meeting every evening. 
There was a pretty, quaint old summer-house in the park, 
where no one ever came, and we spent an hour or two 
there every evening. 

" I am growing older now, and I have learned much of 
the world since then; but a breath of the old sweetness 
comes over me as I remember those sweet hours. I won- 
der if love is as sweet to every one as it was to me; I 
wonder if any man so thoroughly worshipped a woman 
as I worshipped her. To be near her, to touch a fold 
of her dress, to look into her blue eyes, to touch her 
fragrant hair, to steal a flower that she had worn! ah, 
well, I can not talk of it. It was the mad Castlemayne 
that dooms the lover or loved to misery ; it was a sum- 
mer idyl, for the beautiftd summer months passed on, 
and to us they were nothing but a vision of golden 
sunlight and fragrant flowers. 

" Ah, Ruskyn, my heart is seared and old ; but if I 
•ould tell you how I loved her or how fair and sweet ah* 
kersdlf was I She had the most simple, innooent heturV— 



58 THE duke's secret. 

■he was in many tliiugs quite as much a child as Lady 
Nell — the sweetest, most transparent soul, you could read 
her every thought ; she always reminded me of one of 
those white lihes with a golden heart. At first she was 
very shy with me, and listened without speaking much ; 
but after a time she was bright and blithe, and talked to 
me as the other half of her own soul, and then she learned 
to love me. 

"Perhaps she loved me all the more that she had no one 
else to love ; no parents, no kith or kin ; she seemed to 
be quite alone in the world. Her mother, in dying had 
left a sum of money for her to be educated, and it was 
from this same school my mother had taken her ; she was 
so lonely, so lovely, so innocent, so tender, a man must 
have been a brute or a fiend who could have been unkind 
to her. 

"They come back to me now and I could weep tears of 
blood over them — those happy evening hours when the 
sunlight was dying in the western skies, and the birds 
singing their vesper hymn, when my beautiful child-love 
pat beside me, telling me, in her own sweet fashion, how 
she loved me. Life has held brilliant hours for me, but 
none so happy as those — not one. 

" We speculated sometimes, in an idle fashion, what we 
should do if the duchess found out our love secret. It 
was strange that we never seemed to dread my father; 
but happy as we were in our love, the thought of the 
duchess finding us out made both our faces grow pale, 
and our hearts beat; we never decided what we should 
do, but looked upon it as a remote and dreadful possi- 
bility. I think we were too happy in our love ever to 
think much of the future, or that we were doing wrong, 
or anything of the kind; the glamour of love's young 
dream was full upon us; I am quite certain thntshe would 
have died a hundred times over rather than have parted 
from me, and I would liave done the same." 

" So on through the beautiful summer. How we 
escaped detection is to me a miracle, for when the dew 
lay on the grass, and the flowers were waking up, I went 
out to meet her, I could not bear to be away from her; 
when prudence compelled me to leave her, I counted the 
hours and the minutes until I should see her again. 
^_ "Mj* father often ralhed me, and said that I must har^ 



THE duke's secret. 69 

ft sharp attack of love fever, but my mother, I remember, 
did not see any change. Yet all this time I lived only for 
her and in my love for her; at first we had been quite 
content to know that we loved each other, but after a time 
other thoughts crept in. We speculated what we should 
do if I were sent away from home." 

" I could not Uve without you, Naomi,'" I said. 

" Nor I," she whispered," without you." 

"That seemed to be quite settled; we could not exist 
without each other, nor, so far as I remember, did we ever 
think of trying. Another thing was what we should do 
when Lady NeU was too old for Naomi to teach; we could 
not see or believe in or imagine a time when we could live 
without seeing each other — that was no longer possible. 
I had until then only spoken to her of love. I remember, 
ah, my beautiful girhsh love, the first time I spoke to her 
of marriage ; in her innocence and simplicitj^ I do not be- 
heve she had thought of it. She had been so happy in the 
present, she had not looked to the future at alL I asked 
her one day if she would be my wife. 

"You know, my darhng, that the end of love is mar^ 
riage !" I said. 

"I remember the surprised, beautiful, innocent face 
raised to mine. 

"'Marriage!' she said; 'oh, Bertrand, we must not 
think of that for many years, it — it is only old people — I 
mean people more than twenty years of age — who get 
married.' 

" How I laughed at her sweet simplicity ! She had the 
greatest dread of the word marriage. 

" 'But you must be married,' I said, ' and yours will be 
the youngest, fairest head that orange-blossoms have ever 
crowned. You will be Lady St. Albans or there will nevei 
be one. 

" ' But what will the duchess say ?* she said ; ' she expects 
you to marry a princess royal. I have heard them say 
that there is no one on earth that she thinks good enough 
for you. What would she say to me ?' 

" And for the first time since the glamour of that fierce 
mad love fell on me, I realized my true position, and how 
more than hopeless it was to expect that my mother could 
©ver be induced to look upon such a marriage. 

"I remember how the conviction struck me to the 



60 THE duke's secret. 

quick, and gave me the first real pain I had ever known ia 
my life." 

CHAPTER IV. 

A SECRET MABBIAQE. 

" I THINK for some few days after that conversation we 
were neither of us quite so happy. The certainty grew 
upon me that if ever the least inkling of our love were 
known we should be parted at once, and probably so effec- 
tually that it would be forever. It was not to be endured. 
We talked about it, we spent long houi's in deciding how 
to meet such an emergency. Our fate was to be to us the 
tragedy of the universe. There was nothing else like it. 
Youth and love are sometimes sweetest egotism. 

"An idea occured to me one day, and it was this: why 
not make everything right and secure by marrying her 
now. The marriage could be kept a profound secret, as 
so many others had been. We coiild be very happy. No one 
would be hurt or injured, and when we thought everything 
propitious, it could be broken to the duke and duchess. 

" Foolish, boyish, hot-headed, bhnded by the mad force 
of my own passion, it seemed to me the most desirable 
thing in the world. If we were once safely married, the 
greatest dread, that of being parted, would be removed from 
us forever. We talked it over by the hour, my beautiful 
girlish love and I; she had but one answer to all my 
vehement passionate prayers, one answer, and it was this: 

" ' It would not be right to keep such a thing from your 
parents, and they would be sure to find it out.' 

" That was her invariable fear and answer. You can 
imagine how a hot-headed, impetuous young lover made 
light of such an argument. Once married we were quite 
safe — we could not be parted. Was not that true ? My 
girhsh, beautiful love could never deny it. Why should 
we not be happy together? I continued: why should we 
wait to be married until we were old, and the brightness 
of life all vanished — why not be married now ? I remem- 
ber the sweet, wondering face raised to mine. 

" * Married now, Bertrand — how awful ! ' she said. 

"But I told her how delightful would be life; I made 
the most beautiful future for her. The picture Claude 
Mfeinotte made was nothing to mine, I sketched for her 
the prett/ little villa that should be the brightest and sun- 



THE duee's SECBBT. 61 

aiest home in the wide world; there was to be a cheerful, 
beautiful green lawn, a cedar-tree, a river near gardens 
filled with choicest flowers. The villa was to be fitted 
with all needful luxury worthy of Lady St. Albans, the 
future Duchess of Castlemayne. I remember that she 
held up her sweet, white hands in utter dismay. 

" ' A duchess — Duchess of Castlemayne 1 Oh, Bertrand, 
you know that I could never be that. I was not born to 
be a duchess. I should not know how.' 

" I laughed at her answer. 

" • See,' ehe said to me, * how your mother the duchess, 
sweeps in and out of the rooms — how natural it seems to 
her to wear diamonds and command everybody. She is 
like a queen. I could never be like she is.' 

" * You never know what you can be until you try,* I 
said, ' and I think that you would make the most graceful 
duchess in the wide world. Indeed I will have no other 
duchess but you, Naomi.' 

" ' It does not seem in the fitness of things,' she replied, 
' not at all. I am only a poor governess. My father and 
mother were not rich people. I belong to no particular 
family, and it does not seem right that I should be a duch- 
ess.' 

" * Do you not think it right that I should enjoy my life 
in my own position, and have the one I love best always 
by my side ?' I asked her. 

" 'Yes, that I do,' she replied; 'most certainly.' 

" ' Then you must do what I wish — let us be married. 
Once married, I care for nothing, because nothing can part 
us; everything will come right in time.* 

" She made one answer that struck me very much. 

" ' Bertrand,' she said, one evening, when I was press- 
ing her to consent to a private marriage, ' tell me one 
thing. If you have not the courage to tell your parents 
now that you love me, how will you find that courage in 
the years to come?' 

" It was a conclusive objection, if I could have bift be- 
lieved so. I answered that if I told them now, they could 
prevent the marriage, but if I told them afterward they 
could not part us. 

" Still I must say that she never seemed quite to share 
iuy enthusiasm. As is the nature of man, the more shyly 
and coyly she determined upon not being marri«d, tb/| 



62 THE duke's SECBET. ' 

more resolute I became that she should. We talked, we 
quarreled, we parted, with kisses and tears. We made 
up our quarrels. I threatened time after time to kill my- 
self ; I went for days without feod until my mother grew 
alarmed. I played upon her feelings, in every kind of 
way ; I prayed, persuaded, importuned and pleaded, un- 
til at last I won her consent. 

" She laid her fair, girlish arms round my neck, and 
suid she would marry me when I pleased and where I 
pleased. She took my hand — I remember how the action 
struck me — and she laid it on her head, in token of low- 
liest submission ; and I think tJiat no man was ever so 
madly, blindly, foolishly happy. 

" Once having won her consent, I was not long in ar- 
ranging for the rest of the affair. I told my mother that 
I was going up to town for a few weeks, and might 
probably go to Scotland. I made every arrangement for 
the marriage, and Naomi easily managed to come to town 
for a few days ; she asked my mother's permission and it 
was readily accorded. She joined me in town, and we 
were married by special license in the old Church of St. 
Mary's, on Quay, Southwark. 

" You will find the register there all duly signed. I set 
myself to work that there should be no flaw in the mar- 
riage, but that it should be as legal as possible — my 
beautiful Naomi should never have any stigma attached 
to her name — you can see the entry there any time you 
like — ' Bertrand St Albans and Naomi Wynter.' I have 
been to look at it several times. We went down to the 
sea-side for two days. I dare not either thiuk of them or 
speak of them ; the tears rise hotly to my eyes when I do 
so. Two such days, and my beautiful girl-wife was as 
happy as — as they say the angels are. It was not much, 
Buskyn, was it ? two days out of a life, and all the rest of 
the life to suffer for it — not much. 

"I am so overwhelmed and astonished," said John Bus- 
kyn, " that I can not find words." 

" And I am afraid you will be more astonished still," 
said the duke. " I am quite sure of one thing — that when 
you have heard all I have to tell you, you wUl have lost 
much, if not all, of your respect for the last of the Caetl^- 
Bftyn^i." 



THE duke's secret. 68 

" That is impossible, your grace," said the laTryer, and 
the duke continued his story. 

" Two short days out of a life-time, and then yre came 
back from our dream-land of bhss to stem reality. We 
had to part and travel separately — we dare not be seen 
together ; that was the first great break in our happiness, 
and strange to say, that httle circumstance of being com- 
pelled to part brought to my mind more forcibly than 
anything else the real consequence of my marriage. 

"Unto, my beautiful young wife had left me— she was 
to return first — I had never realized the gravity of what I 
had done; when I stood on the platform of the station 
and realized that my wife had gone to my home, I began 
to see dimly. We had made all our plans and arrange- 
ments. We were to meet as usual in the old summer- 
house, and for some months Naomi would remain at Rood 
Castle. Then she was to give notice, under some pretext 
or another, either that she preferred going abroad or 
wanted to travel — any excuse that presented itself to us. 
I was to find the villa and to furnish it, make a beautiful 
home for her, and she would live there until I saw my 
way clear to make my marriage known. When that 
would be I did not know. Strange to say — and at the 
same time I am ashamed to say it — no sooner was my 
marriage an accompUshed fact, than a thousand fears and 
doubts beset me. 

" I coidd see no way out of a labyrinth of difficulties 
and danger ; my own uneasy conscience told me that I 
had done a foolish and almost wicked thing. Probably 
had I remained with my young wife, the witchery of her 
beauty and the glamour of love would have kept my 
conscience sleeping. Awake! it cried loudly. I knew 
that I had done cruel wrong — the only son of a grand old 
race, I ought to have consulted the feelings of my parents. 
I knew that if ever they knew or suspected my marriage, 
it would be a death-blow to them. My stately mother's 
ptide, and my father's fond affection, would be stricken 
dead by the blow. Still I did not love my girl-wife one 
whit the less ; but the serious step of marriage had 
brought cool reason and calmness into my life again. I 
felt hke a man who had been mad, and who had suddenly 
return pid to his senses ; yet, as I said, I did not love my 
sweet young wife one whit less. 



$i THX DUEl's SSCBKP. 

•*! followed her home in t\TO days, and once more mtli 
her my conscience slept and my heart was glad. Ah, 
that loving welcome — that tender, passionate welcome. 
I asked myself, as the tender arms stole round my neck 
and the fair face nestled on my heart, was any bliss in the 
world to be compared to this ? 

" It happened that the evening I reached home was 
wet; there was a violent thiinder-storm, and I was at my 
wit's end to know how I should see my beautiful, loving 
wife. It was quite impossible for her to go out-of-doors, 
but I thought she might venture to my study — my rooms 
were in the queen's wing, hers and Lady Nell's in the 
western wing — to reach mine she had to cross the picture- 
gallery, and I knew that at midnight there would never 
be anyone there; the servants would all be in their part 
of the estabhshment, the duchess in hers, and if my dar- 
ling had courage to cross the gallery I should be there to 
meet her; but to my chagrin and annoyance she wrote a 
Uttle note to me saving that she dare not do it; she would 
be afraid, she would dread meeting my mother, and it 
would be much better for her not to run the risk — so 
much better. 

" Her instincts were always right. If I had had the 
sense to attend to them. "What do you imagine I did ? J 
wrote back to remind her that the duty of a wife was obe-- 
dience to her husband, and by that obedience I com-' 
manded her to come. She would have walked over red-' 
hot plow-shares to do my bidding. She came — ah, me, I 
shall never forget her standing at the door of my study 
all pale with fear and trembling. 

"I drew her inside and closed the door; her heart was 
beating madly with fright. I made her sit down and 
take some vmie, and when she recovered slie began in hei 
simple, child-like fashion to admire my room, my pictures, 
my pipes, bronzes, books. 

" ' We shall never have a room as beautiful as this in 
the villa,' she said. 

" * There is no room in Rood Castle one haK so beau- 
tiful as the room in the villa which will hold you,* I 
cried. 

" Ah, Ruskyn, I never enter that study now but I see 
her there ; the tall, slender, girlish figure in the dark 
4r«B8; the fair fa«e and bright head rising from tht 



THE duke's secret. 66 

white neck, like a flower from its stem. I see the beau- 
tiful figure going slowly round the room, touching with 
delicate, taper fingers the different little things that at- 
tracted her notice ; talking to me in her sweet artless 
fashion ; every now and then stopping to consider what 
she could do if any one should come in, and shuddering 
with fear at the thought. 

"I think of it, and my heart is like stone, my eyes 
would shed tears of blood. I cry to Heaven to spare me, 
to the eaxth to hide me, but I cry in vaiji." 

CHAPTEK V. 

A SLIGHTED WOMAH. 

"We went on happily enough and safely for some 
veeks," said the duke; "the great mistake that we made 
Was that we repeated the visit to my study too often. It 
was such an easy way of seeing her; it presented no diffi- 
Tjulties; we could talk at our ease, and remain undisturbed 
together. Meeting in that fashion presented far less dif- 
fictdties than meeting out-of-doors. So we became impru- 
dent, and every night my beautiful girl-wife found her 
way through the long corridor, and across the picture 
gaUery to me. Every evening I waited there for her, and 
drew her in my room, loving her each day better than 
before. 

"Yet, strange to say, the deeper grew my love, the 
deeper grew my dread and fear of being found out. 1 
began to grow more cautious. I can not teU what I 
thought my mother had power to do, but I must have had 
A vague and terrible idea of her influence. I had always 
lived more or less in dread of her, and certainly felt great 
awe of her. I can not tell how it was — I am quite sure 
that I have never been a coward by natvire; I have had as 
much fire, spirit, and energy as any one of my race, but at 
that time of my life it most certainly ceased to animate me. 

" One evening, I remember, we had a great fright j 
Naomi was sitting in my lounging-chair, and I was lean- 
ing over her, talking, when we heard the sound of foot- 
steps drawing nearer and nearer; some one touched th© 
handle ot ray door, and my mother's voice said: 

" ' Bertrand, are you here ? I want you.' 

" We both stood still as death under the shock of tbt 



06 THE DtJKE'S SEORBl'. 

surprise. 1 was afraid she would cry out, or faint, but sk* 
stood, poor child, with her hand clinging to me, almost 
breathless, almost dead. The duchess remained for half 
a minute, then went to my bedroom door, that she opened 
and entered. Evidently something attracted her attention 
there, for she entered the room and remained there. 

" * This is our only chance,' I whispered. ' You must go 
quietly, but quick as lightning, down the corridor; and I 
will go to my mother and engage her attention.' 

" All the love of my heart went into the kiss I gave her. 

" Then with the speed of a lapwing she fled down the 
corridor, and I went into my room. The duchess was 
merely looking at a photograph I had recently purchased, 

" ' How beautiful that is, Bertrand,' said my mother, 
calmly, little dreaming how my heart was beating with 
tumult and fear, little knowing how my ears were strained 
to catch the last echo of those flying footsteps ; it 
vanished, and then I couid turn to my mother with a 
smiling face, and ask her to what I was indebted for the 
great honor of a visit at that time of night. It was 
merely some little commission that she wanted from the 
neighboring town of Lanceham. She was in an un- 
usually amiable frame of mind, kissed me, and told me 
not to sit up late reading. We went down the corridor 
together; she stood for one minute against my study 
door. 

"'Do you keep this room locked,' she said, carelessly; 
and I answered : 

" ' Yes, when I have not time to put my papers away.* 

She laughed again as she said : 

*' ' They can not be of any vital consequence, Bertrand.* 

" She went on to her room, and the first thing I saw 
lying on the ground was a pretty little slipper, with a 
tiny blue rosette. I thought to myself what "would have 
happened had my mother entered and found it there. 
The little incident made me very careful, and I gave my 
darling child-wife much ofience by it. I smile and sigh 
as I tell you, that I slept with the shoe under my piEow 
all night. For some days afterward I did not meeti her 
out-of-doors, and when in the evening I saw her, the 
beautiful blue eyes would fill with tears. 

'"Are you learning to love me less, Bertrand t^" sht 
irould say, and my answer was always: " ' 



THE duke's secret. ff 

** *No; but a thousand times more.' 

" * Why are you so much more careful ? Tou never 
speak to me when you meet me,' she would say. * How is 
it?' 

" ' Because the more I love yo-j, the more I dread any- 
thing that could part us.' 

" I began to think that I must soon keep my promise, 
and look out for a suitable villa for my young wife. I 
could always get away from home when I liked, and I be- 
gan to think it would be much happier and less irksome 
to be able to spend three or four days with her at a time, 
than to be where I saw her every day, yet was never one 
moment at ease with her. It would be much better, I 
decided, and we should run less risk of discovery. 

" I determined to mention it to her, to ask her where 
she would like to go. She had said once : * To the banks 
of the Thames ' — and that would have suited me well ; I 
could see her very much oftener if she lived somesvhere 
near town than if she lived further away. I talked to her 
about it and she was delighted. * It will have its pleasures 
and its pains, Bertrand,' she said. ' Now I enjoy living at 
Rood Castle ; because you are here, it seems like heaven 
to me. I say to myself that I am within hearing of the 
same sounds, that at times I am near you; I see you cross 
the gardens and the parks, I hear the sound of your 
horse's feet, sometimes you sing or you whistle as you go 
down the hall and then my heart goes out to you. Then 
there are the pains ; I see you and you can not speak to 
me ; I see others talking to you, and I — your own wife — 
can not get near you nor dare utter a word or even look 
at your face.' 

" ' It is an equal pain to me,' I replied. ' I am STire we 
shall be much happier in a home of our own,* 

" * And when ? ' she asked me, with unlimited trust and 
confidence on her child-Hke face, ' when shall you tell the 
duke and duchess about our marriage ? ' I told her that 
I did not know, for that as I loved her more, I grew more 
alarmed at having to part from her. 

" ' But,' she said, 'you told me that when we were mar- 
ried nothing on eai'th could part us.' 

"'Nor can it,' I replied. 'Nor shall it— ^but I alway« 
have a dread of my mother's influence.' 

♦• I went up to London and found just wfeat I wanted— 



68 THE duke's secret. 

on the banks of the river — a beautiful, poetical looking 
villa, with large, light rooms full of sunshine and glorious 
views from all the windows, a perfect bower of trees, the 
gardens full of flower, the prettiest of fountains, a good 
conservatory — everything most delightful and charming. 
I at once decided upon having it. It was called River- 
view, and I knew that my darling would be delighted with 
it. I was full of spirits and high glee as I traveled home 
again; I busied myself in thinking how she should have 
the delight of furnishing it for herself and to suit her own 
taste. I could imagine the blue eyes filled with delight, 
the beautiful face full of love and happiness; my whole 
heart went out to her. I longed to see her, to tell her all 
my plans for our happiness. No train had surely ever 
gone so slowly as this. 

" As I traveled home I remember, too, that I said to 
myself there was no happiness on earth equal to that of 
having a beautiful, loving wife. I decided in my own 
mind that neither fortune, title, position, nor any worldly 
honors could be put into comparison with the one great 
gift of a true heart. I reached Rood Castle at the close 
of a bright day, and the very sight of the grand old 
towers rising in the distance stirred my heart with an 
emotion I had never felt before. There dwelt my wife — 
my beautifid girl- wife — and in a few hours I should 
clasp her to my heart while I told her all about her new 
and beautiful home. 

" It seemed to me that midnight would never come, 
that the time would never pass, that I should never kiss 
my young wife's face, or hear her voice again. I was 
consumed with impatience. 

" My mother thought I was ill, and would insist on be- 
ing kind to me ; my father wanted to know all the news 
from town — if I had met any one, what they were talking 
about at the clubs — until, well, I saw the only thing was 
to assume a perfectly calm and quiet demeanor. When 
I did that they ceased talking, and I was soon at liberty 
to go to my study. I had pleased myself in purchasing 
BO many pretty httle things for her. I dare not bring 
anything either expensive or elaborate, but I had brought 
her everything good, and it delighted me so to 
spread out all these presents on the table — cuffs and 
soUftrs of real costly lace, handkerchiefs fine as finest 



THE dttke's secbet. C9 

lace, fans, parasols — everything quiet and simple, such as 
svould not be out of keeping with her position as mistress 
of Riverview. Then I listened, waiting at the door for 
her. I must break my narrative just to teU you that my 
mother had a waiting maid, a Frenchwoman, Sidonie by 
name, who was always quite willing to give me a smile, 
and gave me to understand, in one or two little ways, 
that she was not a prude. 

" I am no coxcomb, no flirt — I do not mean to say that 
the Frenchwoman was in love with me, but she liked me 
sufficiently to be jealous and watchful. This night as I 
stood there watching for Naomi, to my great astonish- 
ment Sidonie came to the door of my study. True, my 
mother had sent her to ask me a simple question; I re^ 
membei now that it was the loan of a new book that I 
had brought from London. I know that if she entered 
the room she would see all that I had bought for my dar- 
hng; the only plan was to shut the door. She looked aa 
though she were not altogether disinclined for a little bad- 
inage, but my great anxiety was to get rid of her. What if 
Naomi should cross the picture-galley while she waa 
there ? I closed the door, leaving her standing outside, 
hastily found the book, and took it to her. She looked 
at me, and I felt quite sure that I read suspicion in her 
face; there was a cruel, subtle flash of light in her dark 
eyes — a satirical, demure smile on her lips. 

" ' I thank you, my lord,' said she; ' I am sorry to have 
disturbed you. Her grace wished me sometime smce to 
fetch the book, but I had forgotten it.' 

" I had closed the door and was standing outside it, lest 
even through the least opening she should see what was 
inside. She gave a peculiar look at the closed door, and 
with a low coxirtesy went away. I was thankful to see her 
gone before Naomi crossed the picture-gallery, but I had 
a curious kind of instinct that it was a misfortune that 
henceforth she would be my enemy. A woman of that 
class, I beheve most honestly, never forgives a man who 
slights or refuses the advances she makes. 

" A few minutes later on, I saw the shining of the taper 
my darling held; it was but just in time — Sidonie had but 
just gone, and then I hastened to meet her. One such 
moment atoned for all. I can remember the rapture of 
delieht as I kissed the sweet, upturned face, and heard 



70 THE DUKF'^ secret. 

her say how she had longed to see me again. Then t 
showed her all my pretty presents, and I shall never for- 
get her innocent pleasiire and delight — she could not be- 
lieve all these were hers. 

" ' They are too good for me, Bertrand,' she would say, 
* I never had anything like them in my life.* 

" ' You forget, my dear,' I said, * that nothing could be 
good enough for you. You are Lady St. Albans, and 
worthy of the most costly gifts a king could offer you.' 

" That which pleased her most was a small silver chain, 
with a silver locket containing my portrait. I would fain 
have bought it for her of gold and diamonds, but that 
would have attracted attention ; the plain pretty silver 
was what thousands of girls in her position wore. I 
clasped it round her snow-white neck, and she kissed it 
with such dehght. I persuaded her to try on all the pretty 
things I had bought for her, but nothing was like the 
locket. 

" ' That is just what I have longed for,* she said, ' now 
I can see your face whenever I will; if you had brought 
me home a sea of pearls, it would not have pleased me as 
this does.' 

"So we spent the happiest hours of our lives together. 
She was delighted about the villa. I remember that as 
she bade me good-night she held a white handkerchief in 
her hand. 

" ' I wiU come to-morrow evening, Bertrand,' she said, 
'and hear all about Riverview.' 

"Ah, Heaven 1 if I could have foreseen what the morrow 
would bring 1 " 
i 

CHAPTER 7L 

THB niBCOVBRT. 

" TmBRB is one thing that I must tell you, because it 
explains much of what follows. I suppose that all lovers 
are more or less foolish. In fact, it is part and parcel of 
the happiest, but least wise portions of one's life. To be 
fooUsh, then, is to be natural, and our folly consisted in 
always making and repeating vows now, to love each 
other, to be faithful to each other, to love each other until 
after death and beyond the grave, and one evening a 
foioautio notion of love and secrecy came over me. X 



' THE duke's SECEET. 71 

wanted to feel sure nothing would ever make Naomi break 
her vow of silence to me. It was one of those beautiful, 
pure evenings when the very breath of the woods was 
sweet as heaven itself. I had bought her a beautiful 
little saiDphire ring ; it shone on her white hand that 
tiight, but I never saw it there again. 

" ' Sapphire means truth and constancy,' I said to her, 
fcs I slipped it on the beautiful hand ; ' I want to test 
jrour truth and constancy to me ; I want you take an 
oath.' 

" ' There can be no test I cannot stand,' she said, and I 
believed her. It was all lover's nonsense, you know, 
Euskyn ; I could not help it. It was more sweet and 
toore foolish than anything I have ever done since. 

" * I want you,' I said, ' to take a solemn oath to me that 
toothing shall induce you ever to reveal the secret of oux 
toarriage, and I place the sapphire ring, the seal of truth, 
to your finger, to keep in pledge of your vow.' 

" ' I will do as you wish,' she said; ' I swear to you most 
Solemnly, in the presence of Heaven, that I will never, 
under any circumstances whatever, break the silence I 
have sworn, unless I have your wish and permission.' 

" * Swear to me, Naomi, that neither torture nor death 
will ever make you break it.' 

" * I swear ! ' she said. But yet I was not satisfied. 

" ' Suppose,' I said, 'that it were possible for any com- 
bination of circumstances to happen by which we were 
suspected, would you tell the secret of our love and mar- 
riage even to save yourself from suspicion ? ' 

"She was quite silent for a few minutes; then she said: 

"'No; I would sacrifice even my fair name, if it 
pleased you that I should keep my secret a secret stilL' 

" ' You would really do that, Naomi ? ' I said — * you 
love me enough for that ? You would sacrifice your fair 
name rather than tell that which I wish you to conceal ? ' 

" ' You know that I wovdd, Bertrand, a thousand times 
over ! ' she replied; and, though I never anticipated it, the 
time came when she stood the test more nobly and gen- 
erously than any other woman could have done. 

" I have often wondered since if the fatal catastrophe 
which happened was caused by the jealous watchfidness 
imd scrutiny of Sidonie, or whether it was cai-elessness on 



72 THE duke's secret. 

the part of my girl- wife. I have never known whether it 
was one or both of these causes. 

"The next night when Naomi came, I thought she 
looked very lovely ; round her white neck and arms she 
wore some of the lace I had brought her, and I remem- 
ber — ah I so well — that she wore, too, a beautiful breast- 
knot of richly tinted mauve ribbon. I complimented her 
on looking so well, Httle dreaming where I should seo 
that breast-knot again. 

" We talked a long time that evening about the villa, 
and the home which was to be hers, little dreaming that 
we should never talk there again. I remember particu- 
larly that among other things she said I did not look as 
well as usual, and I answered that I was tired. Laugh- 
ingly she said that was a hint for her to go, adding — and 
the words came home to me afterward like a sharp sword 
— that it was her own faxdt she was there that evening. 

"You did not ask me," she said ; 'I have volunteered 
to come.* And I replied how dearly I wished she sat in 
my room all day long. 

" You will see afterward why I mention this. She was 
with me more than two hours that evening, and I remem- 
ber feeling that I could never part from her — that I must 
hold her in my arms there until I died ; I could not let 
her go. I saw that she grew nervous as it grew later, 
and I said : 

" ' You are growing tired of me, Naomi.' 

" * Indeed, I am not, Bertrand, ; I could never tire of 
you. I am just a Httle nervous about getting back again.' 

" • Why should you be that?' I asked. * You never have 
been nervous.' 

" She laughed, my sweet, simple darling. Ah 1 though 
it is so long since, I can not tell you without tears. She 
laughed, and told me that she had dreamed so often, 
as she was making her way back, she met a tall female 
figure shrouded in black, that at la«t she had grown 
nervous and afraid to go back. 

'"It is nothing but a dream, Naomi/ I fiaid ; 'and 
what is a dream?' 

" I remember being so struck by her answer. 

" * A dream,* she replied, ' is the shadow of fire.* 

"I remember how we stood together, looking across 
the picture-gallery, where the dead and gone Castlemajnes 



THE duke's secbet. 73 

looked at us from the walls — how I held her in my arms, 
feeHn^ that I could not let her go. 

" ' You will remember, then/ I said, * that Riyerview 
is taken. You must tell my mother, in the course of a 
few days, that you intend to leave. And now good-night, 
my darling,' I said. 

" Ah, Heaven, it was not only good-night, but good-bye. 

" I watched her as she crossed the long gallery, little 
dreaming that I should watch her so no more. She car- 
ried a candle in her hand, and the light fell on her most 
beautiful young face, and I remember that she looked 
pale, and that the brilliance of it was dimmed; and then 
I went to the rest that was mine for the last time that 
night for many years to come." 

The dxike paused, and the lawyer saw great drops ol 
perspiration standing on his face. 

" I could sooner almost die, Kuskyn, than tell you the 
rest," he said. " I loathe myself; I hate myself when I 
think of it. I can not beheve that I did it. I know that 
if I had to judge another for the same conduct, I should 
put him down as the most contemptible coward that ever 
lived. I can not explain. I do not even know why I did 
as I did." 

He stopped again, and again the lawyer saw him wipe 
the great drops of perspiration from his brow. Again he 
paced with hurried footsteps the little room. 

" I can hardly bring myself to tell it," he said. " I feel 
as though the finger of shame was pointing at me, and 
her breath flashing hot on my face. I must tell you, and 
you must despise me as you will. 

" That morning I was engaged in some pursuit of my 
own, when my mother sent for me to her boudoir. Now, 
to those who knew the duchess, a summons to her boudoir is 
not a very pleasant thing; it meant mischief always in one 
shape or another. The duke dreaded it, and I disliked it. 
The riot act was always read to us there. The moment 
I heard where I was wanted, my heart misgave me; but I 
consoled myself by saying that of the only secret I had in 
the world she could not possibly know anything — as for 
anything else it coiold not matter. 

"I did not hurry, but the laws of the Medes and Per- 
sians were as nothing compared to the wishes of the 
Duchess of Castlemayne. I knew sooner or later I must 



t4 TRS DtTKE^S 8201BT. 

go, and sooner or later I must bear ^laai ak& had to say; 
I went, trying to make myself sure it could be noth- 
ing of any consequence — certainly nothing I need fear. 

" It was strange, grown man as I was, I dreaded my 
mother. Her least frown or angry word had a great effect 
upon me. I do not offer that as any excuse for what I 
did; nothing can excuse that. 

" You can imagine my horror. At first when I opened 
the door I saw only my mother, standing with an angry, 
indignant face that startled me. Can you imagine my 
horror when, looking a little further on, I saw my beauti- 
ful girl- wife kneeling on the ground ? Her face all wet 
with tears, her beautiful blue eyes all drowned and sad — • 
our eyes met. Looking further on to the table, I saw a 
little white handkerchief and a little knot of ribbons that 
she had worn the night before. 

"In one moment I guessed what had happened. Peo- 
pie say that when a man is drowning all the events of hia 
life pass in review before his eyes in a few seconds. I 
can only say for my part, that during the moment that J 
stood looking at that knot of ribbon, the whole case came 
before me. I saw that my mother was so angry that any 
attempt at telling her the truth must end disastrously for 
both of us, and that our only chance in the future was to 
keep our secret for the present. I saw that at once ; yet 
I might have done differently — I am quite sure that I 
could. 

"Of course the first question was, had I seen these 
things before, and could I tell how it was that they had 
been found in my room. I shall never forget the pain that 
it gave me — not for myself, but lest we should be parted. 

" I tried to laugh it off carelessly, and said I did not 
know. My mother pressed the question home. I saw 
my darling's face growing whiter and whiter, and her 
eyes had a mute appealing look that broke my heart in 
twain. I said to myself that I must steel my heart 
against it, that discovery meant death by separation to 
both of us. What my proud mother could do I did not 
know, but I felt sure that she would part us. 

"It was not all cowardice that made me do as I did; if 
by braving my mother's anger I could have made sure of 
my young wife, I would have braved it, but I knew that 
her anger meant separation — there was no doubt of it. X 



''^ THE duke's SECBET. 7$ 

tried to answer her carelessly, until she turned from me 
with impatient contempt, and said I was screening a love- 
sick girl. Have you ever heard a proud, angry woman 
scold ? It is well for you if you have not. 

"My mother's anger reached a great length; she said 
cruel, shameful things to Naomi. Ah, Heaven, my sweet, 
patient, innocent darling! My mother's wrath waxed 
higher. I must tell you that horrible Frenchwoman had 
foiind Naomi's handkerchief in my room, and then had 
set herself to watch; she had seen Naomi go to my room 
and had seen her come out again, so there was no deny- / 
ing the evidence against us, none in the world ; nor 
could we explain it. 

" When my mother said that she was shameless, and 
that she had forfeited her character, my darling looked 
up at me ; she said nothing for some time, but when the 
proud, cruel words stung her to the heart she folded her 
hands like one praying, and raised them to me : 

*" I appeal to you. Lord St. Albans,' she said. That 
was all — there were no entreaties, no prayers — those 
simple words — ' I appeal to you.' 

" I felt them ; they flashed into the most sacred depths 
of my soul, but I steeled my heart against them. If I 
told all now we shoidd be parted, and I could not bear 
to be parted from her — I could not bear it. 

" I said to myself that my darhng would understand — 
that she would know all would be right — that she loved 
me enough to bear all judgment and suspicion for my 
sake, as I would have done — ah, so fully, so freely, for 
hers. I knew that in her heart she must know that to 
tell my mother the truth would be to part us for ever and 
ever. 

" I believed that she understood it, but in the presence 
of the duchess, my mother, I could say nothing to her — 
only say to her that all would be right—hoping she would 
understand." 

CHAPTER YU. 

A. BURNING LETTER. 

"I KNOW what I ought to have done; there can be but j 
one opinion about that. I ought then and there, in my l 
mother's presence, to have declared the truth, and owned 1 
•h« wsM my wife. After the strong evidence brought ' 



76 THE duke's seceet. 

against her, it was the only thing to be done; it was the 
only thing that could clear her and vindicate her charac- 
ter. But will you believe that I was mean enough to feci 
a certain pride in the beautiful and unsel&sh affection she 
showed for me ? I saw that she would suffer anything — 
loss of fair name, of character, of honor, ay, even of life — 
rather than betray me or break the vow she had made. I 
read her faith and resolve — her generous constancy in the 
iook of her eyes — in the light that shone in her face, clear, 
high, noble resolve. Then I had no more fear; all woidd 
be right; she would never betray me; all would go welL 
But my mother's anger grew and increased. 

" She declared that Naomi Wynter should leave the 
Castle at once, that she should dismiss her without char- 
acter, and that if she dared to appeal to her she would 
denounce her everywhere as trying to allure her son. 
I knew my face went burning hot, then deadly pale, my 
hands trembled, my fingers clinched themselves. I 
would have given the world to have stood forward and 
said: 

" ' Mother, this is my wife ; speak kindly to her, and 
do her justice.' 

"But the fear of losing her and the dread of my 
mother restrained me. What matter, after all, if she did 
send her away, I should soon have a beautiful home for 
her, and my wife woidd want no character. 

" It was but a momentary ordeal ! If she were sent 
away I would install her in her new home to-morrow 
without fail. I would see her before she went ; one word 
with her would make all right again ; that word I could 
speak the moment I left my mother's presence. 

" I would go to her, teU her where to go, and follow 
her to-morrow — then take her home to Riverview. So 
sure was I of doing this that the interview, painful as it 
was, seemed only to me like the prologue before the play. 

"But, as I have told you, my mother became more and 
more angry ; her words were like hot lashes that stung, 
and after the worst of them my wife turned to me once 
again, with upraised face and folded hands. 

" 'Lord St. Albans,' she said, *I appeal to you.* 

" And once more I stood mute and dumb under her ap- 
peal; onc« more — ph, Seaven, f org^ivo m^-^l said to hex 



THE dtjke's secbet. 77 

with a confused and embarrassed air that it would be all 
right, hoping she would understand. 

" The look she gave me will never leave me while I live. 
It was not reproachful, not angry, but fuU of sweet, wist- 
ful wonder. One word would have set her straight be- 
fore that proud, haughty woman who was trampling her 
under foot; one word would have smitten my mother si- 
lent and dumb, would have humiliated her, and com- 
pelled her, in justice, to ask pardon of my beautiful, in- 
nocent young wife ; that word might also have parted us 
forever. If I left it unspoken, I could go on the morrow 
and spend a week with her. I could heal all her wounds 
and make her happier than she had ever been in her life 
before. If I spoke it, my mother had the power to part 
us, and I knew not how or when we should meet again; 
it was the most cowardly, but, to my thinking, the safest 
plan. So I made no answer, and then — Ah, me, shall I 
ever forget the change that came over my wife. 

"A certain sad and mournful dignity seemed to in- 
fold her. The tears still lay on her face, hke clear pearls. 
She came forward a step or two to meet my mother, as it 
were. I shall never again hear in any voice the sad, un- 
uttered reproach there was in hers — never again I 

" * Madame,' she said to the duchess, ' your son is not 
to blame. I take the whole blame upon myself. I own 
that I went to his study last evening to talk to him, and 
I distinctly assert that he did not ask me, that I went by 
my own suggestion and not by his.' 

" You will remember that we had laughed at her having 
invited herself that evening instead of my having done it. 
I wonder my mother was not struck by her calm, digni- 
fied attitude, her gracefiil, girlish simplicity ; but she 
was not. Her clear, sweet "V'oice with its plaintive melan- 
choly, thrilled me. 

" * I take the whole blame upon myself, your grace/ 
she said ; * I am in fault.* 

" ' I thought so,' said my mother, in a satirical accent. 
* I am almost glad to know it.' 

" I know what you think, Buskyn — a lash across the 
face would be the just reward of my conduct. Heaven 
knows what bitter lashes of scorn have been curled round 
my heart — Heaven knows ! 

I ought, there and then, at all risk, to have declared th« 



7ft TftE duke's SICMW. 

truth; but the tragedy was fast approaching its cliMal 
now. My mother told us to say farewell, for we should 
never meet on earth again. I laughed to myself as I said 
that to-morrow I should be with her, never to leave her 
again. I was proud of her courage, her fidelity, and her 
truth — proud of her devotion to me, and her self-sacrifice 
— proud, ah, miserable wretch that I was ! I had better 
have hidden myself under the earth — miserable coward I 
— to take advantage of a woman's self-sacrifice 1 

"I said good-bye to her, trying to make her under- 
stand that it would only be until to-morrow — whether she 
understood me or not I can not tell. 

" Then my mother, with more pride, hauteur, and disdain 
than she had ever shown to me in her life before, pointed 
to the door and said : 

« 'Go !' 

"I went. It did not occur to me that Naomi would be 
sent away that very hour, yet I thought it better not to 
lose one moment. I went to the school-room — the room 
she always used — and found Lady Neil there. I sent her 
to ask Naomi to come to me, but I know now the message 
was never delivered to her. 

" Sidonie was on guard, so that you may imagine I had 
little chance. Then I wrote to her, and sent the letter by 
Lady Nell, and the insolent French maid returned it, say- 
ing that if I sent again she would appeal to the duchesa 

" I went myself, but even the door of the corrider was 
locked this time; I could not get near the room. I would 
have gone after her to the station, but I knew that would 
bring fresh misery upon her. I did what seemed to me 
best. I called for my valet, Gaston Leduc, the shrewdest, 
sharpest man I know. I told him quickly to follow her, 
and, never leave sight of her until she was settled in some 
place or other; then to telegraph me. 

" He obeyed me implicitly, but he made a great mistake. 
She went, poor child, to Grimes's Hotel, London Bridge; 
why she went there, for what reason or purpose, I have 
never been able to imagine. Leduc sent me a telegram 
from there, saying where she was; then, after skillfully 
carrying out my idea, made the one great blunder which 
has marred my life. Instead of remaining there until I 
reached the hotel, thinking she was sure to remain, h« 
made a fatal mistake, and came home. 



y TEE duke's secret. 7f 

" To that one single mistake may be attributed the 
whole misfortune of my life; if he had rejoined her, I 
must in the common course of things have found out 
■where she was, and have followed her. As it was, I lost 
sight of her then, and I have never seen her since. I was 
almost mad when I reached the hotel and found her gone 
— almost mad ! I traced her as far as the London Bridge 
railway station, but I could not hear more of her. I 
oflfered any and every kind of reward. I do not hesitate 
to say that I have left no one thing undone to find her, 
but quite in vain; from the time she was last seen on the 
platform of the railway station, she seems to haye vau- 
iahed entirely from the face of the earth. 

" But — and this is the most awful thing of all — I have 
heard from her once; the letter was sent to me at Bood 
Castle, and the post-mark was London. It was well de- 
served, but the most cruel letter. I have brought it here 
for you to see." 

The lawyer took it from the duke's hand ; the hand- 
writing was clear and delicate, the paper was worn at the 
edges, as though it had often been read and reread. 
'There was neither address, date, nor commencement ; the 
words were cold and brief : 

" When you stood silent while your mother defamed 
me — when you stood mute when I was sent like the vilest 
of the vile, from your roof, and you never spoke the word 
that would have cleared me, you died to me. I write 
from no wish to renew even the faintest memory of my- 
self in your heart. I have debated with myself long 
enough whether I should write or not. Honor, and I 
believe justice, say yes. I write to tell you that the wife 
whose reputation you allow to be ruined, without raising 
your voice to save her, is now the mother of your son and 
heir. My son was bom two months since, and in order 
that there should never be any mistake or error about 
the fact of his birth, I went back to lodgings near the 
church where we were married, St. Mary's on Quay, 
Southwark. The same minister who married us baptised 
my son, and you will find the baptismal register quite cor- 
rect. I have given him one of your old family names — ' Ai- 
red, son of Bertrand St. Albans and Naomi St. Albans, net 
Wynter, bom February 16th, 18 — , baptised March 9th. 
Wlt»es§ed by the nurse, Mary Higgs.' The clergymai^, 



80 IBX duke's tJSOllT. 

the Rev. Stepnen Duncan, reinembered our wedding, and 
asked after you. I told hiin you were dead, but I did not 
add — to me. Aired lives and thrives, but I have taken 
him where you will never see him. You, whose coward- 
ice ruined me, cannot complain if you have lost youi 
child ; it is the just and righteous retribution of Heaven 
that the man who spoke no word to save his wife should 
never see his child." 

There the letter ended, and the lawyer laid it down 
with a perplexed face, and looked at the fire. 

" It transcends all that I have heard of in my life," he 
said. " I know of nothing like it." 

" I went mad again," said the duke. " I went at once 
to London, to Southwark, and such a search as I made 
then has never been made before or since. I went to the 
register of births for Southwark, and there sure enough 
I found an entry which corresponded with the church 
register. 

"There I found the address — ^Naomi Si Albans, 39 
Broom Street, Soutuwark. 

" I went there, but, Ruskyn, I can tell you no more, my 
brain burns ; give me some water — I am ill." 

And the lawyer, as he poured out a glass of choice old 
madeira, thought that his client, his story, and altogether 
were the queerest he had ever known. 

" A romance of the peerage, indeed," he thought, " and 
one, unless I am much mistaken, that wiU end badly." 

CHAPTER Yin. 
MBS. Stanley's nabbative. 
" I MffiD not tell you, Ruskyn, that the first thing J 
did after reading the register was to drive like mad to 39 
Broom Street, Southwark. I could not teU what my 
feelings were like as I drove through the streets; I was 
mad with impatience. If I might but find her there still, 
if for one moment I might look on the beloved face, hold 
her in my arms and look at my child ? Ah, Heaven, if I 
could but find her there. Never a man prayed in such 
desperation before. I would have given my life and all 
it contained to have found her. If she were there, I 
would kneel at her feet, and never leave her until she had 
iorgiven me; notjbing should part us again; I would take 



r- - THE duke's segbet. 81 

her straight away at once, with her child in her arms, to 
my father and mother; let fate do its worst. The courage, 
that at one time I had either lost or had not possessed, 
was mine now. I felt that my heart was on fire, yet, when 
the cab stopped at the number in Broom Street, I could 
not articulate, and the woman who held open the door 
looked at me in wonder. 

" ' You are ill, sir,' she said, before I had time to t^ 
her what I wanted. 

" * I am in great trouble,' I replied. * I want to see you. 
Are you Mrs. Stanley, the mistress of the house ? If so, 
I wish to speak to you.' 

" ' I am Mrs. Stanley,' she replied, * will you come into 
the parlor, sir ?' 

" You know what the type of the London lodging- 
house parlor is, Ruskyn, a small, square room, with horse- 
hair chairs, a small table, a few faded pictures. It made 
me shudder to think that my dainty, delicate darling had 
lired in this miserable place. 

" The landlady motioned me to take a seat on the sofa, 
and sat down herself on one of the square hard chairs. 

" * I want to ask you,' I said, ' if you have had a young 
lady boarding here — a Mrs. St. Albans ?* 

** Her face brightened at the name. 

" * Yes, we had, sir,' she answered. 

" My heart stood still, and my lips refused to open. I 
wanted to ask if she were there still, but the sound of the 
words would not come. The woman went on: 

" * She was here with me for some weeks; her little son 
was born here, and she left me three months since.' 

" * Where did she go ?' I asked, and the answer slew 
every hope that had risen in my heart 

" ' That I can not teU you, sir, I have never seen or 
heard anything from her since she left me. I did hear 
her once say she would go to America.' 

'"America," I repeated; 'why, what would take her 
there?' 

" 'That I do not know, sir; it was one day when we 
were talking about the little boy. I can not at all remem- 
ber how it came about; but I came to the conclusion that 
she would ultimately go to America. I suppose we mean 
the same lady, sir. She was a widow; she wore deep crape 



88 THE duke's SECBET. i 

aad a widow's cap; her husband died, she told me, a week 
after their marriage.* 

" Ruskyn, I swear to you that those few calm words al^ 
most killed me. I trembled beneath them as under a vio^ 
lent blow. 

" ' She was so young, poor thing, to have been a wife 
and a widow, that my heart ached for her. I think she 
must have loved her husband very dearly, for I never saw 
her that she was not in tears. I have heard her cry through 
the longest nights; his death has been a terrible blow for 
her, poor child. She was just like a child in every way, so 
simple, and sweet, and loving of heart.' 

" * Tell me all about her,* I said. * I am a relation oi 
hers, there is a great future in store for her.' 

" * I knew she was a lady, sir, although she had little 
money, but there was a manner and distinction about her. 
I have not much to tell you, sir; only that one morning I 
was busy about my work, as usual, and the card, " Apart- 
ment to Let," was in the window. My little maid came to 
tell me that a lady wanted to see the rooms. 

" ' This room, sir," she added, with an air of simple 
pride in its possession, ' and one up-stairs. 

" ' I went to her, and found a most beautiful young 
lady; she had a lovely face, but sadder than any I had 
ever seen before. 

" ' She was dressed in deepest mourning, and while she 
talked to me her eyes filled with tears. She told me that 
she was a widow — her husband had died a few weeks af- 
ter her marriage — and that she had no friend or relative 
whatever in the wide world. She expected a Uttle child 
very soon, and wanted to be at St. Mary's on Quay, when 
it was born. 

" ' My rooms would just suit her, she said, if slue could 
have them on reasonable terms. 

" * I liked her at once for her fair, sorrowful young 
face. I knew and understood what she suffered, my hus- 
band died when we had been two years married, and I 
never got over the loss. I let her have the two rooms 
for as little as I could, and I made her as comfortable as 
possible. She asked me to find her a nurse, and I did 
80 — Mary Higgs. I had known her many years, and she 
was a good and competent nurse. 

'^ ' I eng;a^ed a doctor— ^ne thought very rnucl^ qI ia 



fWE DtlKE's SECRET. 83 

this neighborhood — Doctor Fildene, of No. 9 Anchor 
Square. She was here three or four weeks before the 
little one was bom.' 

" * Tell me all about her,' I cried ; ' all that she did 
during that time.' 

"'She did little else than cry, sir; and whenever she 
went out, it was to the old church of St. Mary's on Quay. 
Some repairs were going on in the transept, and the door 
was open all day. I have found her there after seven at 
night, and I have known her spend whole hours there. 
What she did I can not tell — whether it was prayer or 
thought, or whether she had some association with the 
beautiful old church, which made her love it so. All, or at 
at least quite half of her time was spent there. Very 
often she would say to me ; "I wish I might be buried 
here ; I should like to die at St. Mary's on Quay." I told 
her often that it was wrong for her to be so despondent. 
She had but one answer for me, and it was that the best 
part of her was dead. 

" ' You must know, sir,' continued the woman, * that I 
never enter this room without thinking that I see her 
here. She sat in that little chair by the window ; she 
never read, she never sewed, she never took the least 
interest in anything. I believe that if the queen and all 
the royal court had passed through the streets she would 
not have gone to look at her. I said often to Jane — that 
is my little servant — I did not believe that if the houses 
opposite to her were on fire, she would raise her head to 
look at them. It was nothing but tears, tears, tears, until 
I cried myself when I looked at her. When I told her 
that such constant grief was most injurious to her, she 
would shake her beautiful young head, as though to say 
Aere was no grief like hers. I remember one day that I 
said to her she must cheer up, we had many of us lost 
husbands. 

" ' She had beautiful blue eyes, so fine and dark, large 
and bright, but always so sad ; she raised them to my face 
with a look I have never forgotten. 

" ' No one ever lost a husband in the same cruel way 
as I lost mine." 

" ' I dared not ask her how or why; there was a certain 
dignity about her which she never lost. 
^ " * She was gentle and amiable, but she never spoke of 



W THE DUKE^S SECRET. 

herself in any \fay, neither of her past, present, nor fa- 
ture.' 

"'But,' I said, anxiously, 'her money; how did she 
manage over money, had she plenty ? Did she get all she 
wanted ? Had she all that she needed ?' 

" ' I hope so. I do not know what money she had or 
anything at all about it. She paid her way and bought 
what she wanted. I can not tell you any more than that' 

" ' Do you think she had every comfort ? ' I asked again. 

" ' Sho had comforts, but no luxuries,' she answered. 
* When she was ill I wanted her to have wine, grapes, or 
jelly, but she would not. I do not think she had much 
money, poor young thing.' 

" ' Can you tell u«3 anything about her daily life ? ' I 
asked, and the answer was * No.' That, although she had 
^ved in the eame house with her, sha had really seen but 
little of hei ; .fud all that she could tell me was that the 
greater part of her time was spent, either in the old church 
of St. Mary's on Quay, or in her own room where she 
wept always.' 

" How my heart ached. I suffered in hearing of her suf- 
fering far more than any pain of my own could hurt me. 
Then I took courage and asked about the little one. The 
good woman went into raptures ; there never had been, 
never could be; such another baby — it was absolute per- 
fection. The only thing she had never been able to bear 
was the sight of the mother's tears dropping on its face. 

" ' I always told her,' she continued, ' that it would bring 
bad luck to the baby when I saw her tears lying aU wet on 
its face." 

" * No such ill luck can ever come to the child as came 
to me,' she would say. 

'"But how she loved that baby — it was pitiful to see 
her, quite pitiful. Then she took the little one to the 
church of St. Mary's on Quay, and it was baptized there — 
a curious name, sir — Aired. I never heard the name be* 
fore ; but she said it belonged to her husband's family — 
her husband who had died in this strange, cruel fasluoD 
Boon after their marriage." 

*' ' How long did she stay with you after the birth of 
the child ?' I asked. 

" 'Not more than six weeks,' she answered., 

•* * What happened then ? I 4ak«d. 



THE DUKE'S SECREl. 8^ 

" * She sent for me one morning; she had just paid and 
dismissed the nurse, and a cab was at the door. " I am 
going, Mrs. Stanley," she said; "thank you for your care 
and kindness to me, and good-bye." I cried and wept bit- 
terly over her and the little one. She said no word of 
where she was going, nor do I remember the exact date.' 

" ' Should you know the cabman again, do you think? ' 
I asked. 

" ' No,' she replied, ' I did not see him; he was not sent 
for from the stand near our house. I know that — 1 was 
curious enough to ask, for I should have liked to have 
known where she went^but it was no use my trying to 
find out, not the least in the world. The only place I 
heard her mention was America — whether she went there 
or not I can not tell; I should say th. ^. she did. 

" And that was all I could learn, Ruskyn. I rewarded 
the woman handsomely, and left the hour? where my 
beautiful young wife had suffered such bitter desolation. 
I wish to verify beyond all fear of mistake the birth of my 
son and heir, and I have more evidence than even the 
most incredulous would have required. I went to see Dr. 
Fildene, and he told me the boy was strong and healthy 
and likely to live. I introduced myself to him as a near 
relative of the lady's, and one most anxious to discover her 
whereabouts; of course, he knew nothing. He sent for 
the nurse, Mrs. Higgs, and from her I heard many a 
detail of my lost dailing, which brought the tears into my 
eyes. 

" I heard no more of her. If my son be living he is 
Lord St. Albans now, and his mother is Duchess of Cas- 
tlemayne." 

" Have you any reason to believe that he is living ? " 
asked the lawyer. 

'* No. I have told you the truth. I know no more — I wish 
I did. Since then, nearly twelve years since, I have 
heard nothing of either of them — nothing in the world.'* 

" Twelve years is a long time," said the lawyer; "much 
may happen in that time — twelve long years. Yes, it is 
all that — how much may happen ? " 

" When I think of it," said the duke, " I leel as though 
I should go mad. When my mother talks to me it makes 
matters worse. I— in fact, I don't know what to f^o." 

A»d the duke leaned back with a hopeless, uugerablf 



86 THi duke's secekt. 

expression of face that made the la^er look ewx mort 
grave. 

CHAPTER IX. 

"WHKRll IS EB NOW — THIS SOW OP MIHE? ** 

Fob some minutes there was silence in the room, then 
the duke raised his handsome, haggard face to his lawyer. 

" What do you think I ought to do? "he asked; but 
John Buskyn had not his usual answer ready. He looked 
perplexed and thoughtful 

"I am quite at a loss," he said; " I have never been so 
utterly at a loss before. I must have time to decide. I 
do not know what to say. It is the strangest case I ever 
heard." 

" Not only strange, but true," said the duke. " Here I 
am, one of the wealthiest peers in England. I am young; 
I should like a wife to love me, to make me happy. I 
should like children to grow up aroimd me, and I have 
neither. I am the last of a good old race, and the man 
who must succeed me is one whom my mother hates. I 
am married, yet I have no wife. I have a son, but no heir; 
there has never been such a position. On one side, my 
mother urges me every day to get married, and I can not 
tell her the reason why I dare not even think o^ it; on the 
other side, I know myself that I am married, bvt that the 
chances are a thousand to one I shall never see my wife 
again, that I may never even hear of her. I shall never 
dare to marry, thinking always that she may be living, 
and may return. Yet I can not bear to do as i am doing 
now, distress my mother, leaving my name and estate to a 
man whom I cordially dislike." 

" What if we try advertisements ? " said the lawyer. " If 
anything can answer, they will, they generally do." 

" I have tried them," said the duke; " diiring all these 
years I have been continually advertising.'* 

"You worded the advertisements so that she would 
understand them ? " said the lawyer. 

" I am afraid not; when I first lost her I sent there 
myself, and I had some of the finest detective skill in 
Englund at my disposal, but beyond tracing her to Liver- 
pool, there was nothing done." 

"Do you imagine," asked John RuskjTi, '*that she if 
living or 4©ad?" 



THE duke's SECREl'. 87 

" I can not tell. It seems to me, even tiiough I "behaved 
BO badly to her, though I failed her just at the moment 
when I should have stood her friend, yet, if she were 
living, she would surely have sent me some sign of her 
existence; she must understand, for instance, what a 
dilemma I am placed in over the estate." 

" Perhaps," said John Ruskyn, she has never given it 
one thought. I should like to ask your grace one more 
question." 

" Ask anything you like," he replied, with a wearied 
air; " anything on earth you will. I am only too anxious 
to get really good advice." 

" It will seem like an impertinance," said the lawyer;" 
but even a physician can not treat a disease unless he 
knows the full details and symptoms, so I can not see my 
way unless I know exactly all that is passing in your 
mind. Tell me just the truth — do you wish to find her 
living and well ? — do you love her still, or is there any 
one else you would like to marry. 

The Duke was silent for a few minutes. 

" You have asked me a question," he said, " which I 
hardly know how to answer to my own mind; it is now so 
long since I have seen her I hardly know what to say. I did 
love her — I loved her with the whole passion of my heart. 
I can not see, looking back through my life, that I have ever 
•cared or even felt interested in any one else; yet I hesi- 
■tate when you ask me what I feel for her now. I did love 
her passionately, but — I injured her — and, when you in- 
jure any one as I did her, I think you seldom feel the same 
ior them. I can not tell you, Ruskyn, what I should do, 
for instance, if I saw her now this moment — whether I 
should rush to embrace her and cry out to her for pardon, 
or whether I should turn from her with shame, not daring 
to address her. I can not tell whether my heart would 
turn to her with its old passionate love, or whether I 
should shrink from her as one whom I had injured be- 
yond recall. I can hardly tell you what my own personal 
feelings are." 

" I can well imagine that you are bewildered," said 
John Ruskyn, quietly, " but it must be looked fairly in the 
face." 

" It may be," said the duke, "that if I saw her again, all 
toy old love for her would revive. She was so beautiful 



88 rHE dttke's secret. 

and gracious — so noble. You can imagine how she passed 
through that scene without betraying me by one word ; 
noble by nature and by instinct, she would have laid hei 
head on the block with the same calm, quiet courage foi 
me. 

" She must certainly have been a noble woman," said 
the lawyer. 

" I think," said the duke, slowly, " that it has become 
less a matter of what I may call personal afifection with me 
than anxiety over my mother and the estate. You see it is 
cruel to her, and in her sight, makes me not only obstinate 
but foolish. I have no valid excuse to give her as to why 
I can not marry, and she expects it from me naturally." 

" I should tell her the truth," said the lawyer ; " it 
woidd be the best ; then she would understand the matter." 

" No," replied the duke, " it would kill her, I believe. 
She is so proud, so sensitive, I dare not tell her. After 
keeping my secret all these years, it will not do to betray 
it at last." 

" I must tell you quite honestly," he said, " that although 
I will do my very best, I have not much hope of succeed- 
ing. I am half afraid that Lady Everleigh will have cause 
to rejoice yet." 

" Is there no legal way out of it ?" asked the duke, after 
a pause. 

" Yes ; but one you will hardly care to adopt. You 
could probably obtain a divorce on the score of her long 
silence and desertion ; then, of course, the whole thing 
would be made public, and everyone would talk about 
it — a proceeding very obnoxious, I am sure, to her Grace 
of Castlemayne." 

The duke sighed heavily. 

" If ever a man did suffer from one moment of coward- 
ice it is I," he said ; " and yet you must know it was not 
so much cowardice as the fear of hurting my mother. 
Now I look back upon those years, I find that I worshipped 
my mother as few sons have ever done. I cannot think 
that I was ever, even for one moment, a coward. I loathe 
the word. Now, Ruskyn, I have told you every thought 
of my heart, what can you advise ?" 

" You have no wish to be freed from the enain hhak 
binds you and her?" asked the lawyer, cautiously. 

** No, I have not," was the brief reply. 



*" THE duke's secret. 89 

** Let me ask this one question more," he said ; " have 
you seen any one since she left you, -whom you like as 
much or better ?" 

" No," replied the duke, " indeed I have not ; and, as a 
matter of principle and conscience, I do not approve of 
divorce. I do not believe in it. I cannot see how the 
decree of man can effect the decree of God. I cannot 
tell to what I may be driven, if my mother continues to 
importune me, and Lady Everleigh to show such un- 
warrantable triumph over me. I may some day have 
recourse to that which I hold in most righteous wrath 
and abhorrence." 

" I should not advise you," said Mr. Ruskyn, " to spend 
another fortvme in advertisements ; it strikes me that the 
best plan will be to place it in the hand of one of those 
intelligent men who are like bloodhounds. I know such 
a one now ; he is in no office, but is in business for him- 
seK ; and they say he has made a fortune ; that he never 
(ails when he once undertakes an affair, but holds on 
iike grim death. That would be the man to employ." 

" Yes," said the dvike. '• Where does he live ? " 

" I have his address here. He is of Russian parentage, 
but was bom in England. He is keen as a ferret, with 
the eyes of a hawk. To tell you the truth, some of my most 
Successful cases have been won through his keen research. 
Bis name is ]Michael Droski ; his address, Belton Cottage, 
Finchley. He has no office, there is no parade, no fuss, 
no ceremony ; but if there is a desperate case to be 
handled, a desperate mystery to be unraveled, Michael 
Droski is the man for it." 

" I should like to see him," said his Grace of Castle- 
may ne. 

" You can do so. I need not tell you that his terms are 
Very high ; he brings talent, skill, wit, the experience of 
many years to the task, and he insists upon ample means 
for carrying it through." 

" He can have what he wants," replied his grace. " To 
speak candidly, Ruskyn, I would cheerfully give ten 
thousand pounds to the man who would bring me certain 
hews of Naomi — whether she be living or dead, no mat- 
ter what her state or what her fate. Only think of the 
relief to me ; think if I could say to myself, ' My wife is 
living in such a place ;' if it were twenty thousand milei 



90 THE DUKE'S SECRET. 

awaj, I would see that her grave was an honored on»— 
she could sleep in no unknown land, in no obscure grave. 
And then there is one more thing that strikes me with 
horror ; it is this, that somewhere in this wide world I 
have a son, Aired St. Albans, who ought now to be grow- 
ing up under my own eye, heir to my estate, the very 
pride and joy of my life. Where is he now, this hand- 
some young son of mine ? and, Ruskyn, suppose that the 
worst comes to the worst, and I marry again, I can not 
have two eldest sons or two heirs. If I were to marry 
some innocent, high-born girl, and then my true heir 
appeared, it would be a most terrible thing, and cause far 
greater scandal than anything else." 

" It would be most terribly awkward," said Mr. Rus- 
kyn, reflectively. 

" It seems to me almost a more awkward matter than 
the wife," continued his grace. " No one can read the 
papers without seeing that every day new compUcations 
arise in matrimonial affairs, and in some way or other 
there is generally a loop-hole ; but in the matter of a soij 
there is no such loop-hole, nor do I see any wa/ out di 
the difficulty." 

" Only by telling your second wife, if you ever have one, 
the plain truth, " said John Ruskyn. " If your grace can 
wait for half an hour I will send you in a cab to Finchley 
Road for Michael Droski. I know he is at home to-daj, 
hunting up evidence and arranging it for me." 

His Grace of Castlemayne decided to wait, and filled up 
his time by trying some of the lawyer's famous golden 
sherry. If he could but have got rid of his heari-acbe, 
as well as of his time 1 

CHAPTER X. 

MIOHAKL DBOSKI, Tfll DSTKCTIVS. 

Ah hour later the duke was engrossed with Michael 
Droski. The detective was a tall, fine-looking man, with 
a dark, half-Tartar cast of face, small, shrewd eyes, thin com- 
pressed lips ; a man who could not only find out a secret, 
but keep one; a caution highly developed; a man, the 
duke avowed to himself, who was most decidedly to be 
trusted. 
^ ''It is a difficult case," said his grace, looking up with 



THE duke's secret. 9l 

his handsome high-bred face, " I can say that much for 
myself ; yet they tell me that your skill is unriyaled. 
You see I have no clear trace. I can help you in no pos- 
sible way. It is as though I said to you, * Here is the 
great, wide world, and there is one woman lost in it — go 
and find her.' " 

"Yes," said the detective, "in plain English, your 
grace, that is it. But even then I do not despair. I be- 
lieve I could find a child who had been left in the desert 
of Sahara. I take no credit to myself, but the fact is I 
am a man with the keen scent of a bloodhound." 

His Grace of Castlemayne shuddered a little ; to him 
the mention of a bloodhound was not pleasant. 

" I never boast," said Michael Droski. " I do not like 
boasting; every man has his gifts; but I must say tbig — 
I have iDrought to light more mysteries than any one 
would believe in. One I shall never forget. I was sent 
for in great haste to a very old-fashioned house in York- 
shire. It had been empty some ten or twelve years, and 
as a matter of course every one pronounced it to be haunted. 
The family who took it found the dead body of a child, 
seemingly young — about eleven was the neare'at guess 
ever made. The body of a child buried in the c^;llar. Of 
course suspicion fell upon the last inhabitants. The land-" 
lord was a wealthy nobleman who, being deeply agrieved 
at the scandal that had fallen on the hous<i, under- 
took the expense of finding and prosecuting them. He 
sent for me. There was no clue as to where the last in- 
habitants had gone; the house was let furnished; they 
had left by the old stage-coach which is now replaced by 
the railroad, and the old coachman had been at rest for 
many years. They had had no friends, no neighbors; 
their names even were forgotten. Yet, do not think me 
vain, your grace, I found them — found out the mystery. 
The murderess was the wife, a beautiful, elegant woman; 
and the child she had killed was not hers but her hus- 
band's, you understand — she had been mad with jealousy. 
She told me that she had always felt sure that she should be 
found out. The case never came to trial, for she poisoned 
herself during the few moments given to dress in. Talk 
of romance, your grace, that woman had worn a ring with 
poison in it for years, always dreading the fate that c&iaf 
»t last" 



98 THE duke's bbosbt. 

" A. miserable case," cried the duke. 

"Not a very uncommon one," said the detective. 
" People little dream of what passes in the world; just as 
a fair-looking green meadow may be undermined by a 
black, dangerous coal mine, so the life that seems fairest 
in the eyes of men may really be hideous with crime. I 
have seen a great deal in my Hfe. You shake hands with 
a charming woman, whose smile is like sunsbme, little 
dreaming that those hands so white and beautiful, have 
dropped poison in the cup of some one who loved her. You 
admire a man for his frank honest bravery, little dreaming 
that he has sent his wife to heaven to secure her life in- 
surance money. If the mask were suddenly withdrawn 
from all lives, I do not think that any one living could 
bear the horror of it." 

" You do not seem to have very cheerful views of life," 
said his Grace of Castlemayne. 

" Mine is not the profession in which men are inclined 
to cheerful views, your grace. When I am not unraveling 
mystery I am trying to find out sin and crime ; and I re- 
peat that few people know how much goes on of either. 
I remember another case where the gentleman, a wealthy 
country squire, was almost driven mad by continual rob- 
beries — gold, silver, bank-notes, forged checks. There was 
hardly a week in which he did not lose, by some means or 
other, a large sum of money. He had tried all the detec- 
tives* skill, but it was in vain; they could make nothing of 
it, and at last they sent for me. I found that he was a 
widower with three daughters; the eldest of whom, a beau- 
tiful girl of eighteen, whom he worshipped, kept house for 
him, I need not trouble you with the details; for some 
few days I began to think that I was baffled at last, but I 
found it out. The daughter he loved and trusted was the 
thief. She had a lover who made her believe right was 
wrong and wrong was right; but he made her believe that 
stealing from her father to pay his gambling debts was a 
piece of heroism. This discovery broke the old squire's 
heart. I never like to think of it. The poor girl found 
out afterward that her lover was a married man; and she 
is in a lunatic asylum. There is no phase of human life 
unknown to a detective officer." 

The duke glanced at him with some curiosity. 



THE duee'b secbzt. 93 

" Will you tell me," he said, " if you hare e^er known 
a case quite like mine ?" 

" I have looked for many lost wives," he replied, " but 
it has always been in a much lower class. It is not so 
easy for a duchess to be lost." 

" My wife never was a duchess," said his grace; "she 
never even used her title of Lady St. Albans." 

" She may never have used it," replied Michael Droski, 
"but rely upon it she has not forgotten it I think 
myself there is nothing pleases any woman so much as 
a title." 

" It did not please her very much, poor child," sighed 
the duke. " What do you think now of one's chance of 
finding her, Mr. Droski?" 

He was silent for some minutes, then he said gently: 

" I tbiuk I shall find her; there are great difficulties, 
but I have beaten down even greater. There are cases 
on which I say at once, ' I shall do this.' I hesitate to 
affirm it, yet I believe I shall do it." 

" I hope to Heaven you will," said the duke. " All I 
can say is this, that if you succeed I will make you a rich 
man for life ; spare nothing — neither money, time, trouble, 
nor anythiug else." 

" I wiU not," replied Michael Droski, "I hope your 
grace will not be offended if I ask one more question. It 
is this. This lady of whom I am in search, is she likely to 
have married again or anything of that kind ? " 

"No," baid the duke ; "just as she left me, so, if she be 
living, you will find her." 

" And find her I will," added the man, full of enthu- 
siasm for what in his own mind he called his " art" 
" Your grace must not expect any immediate news," he 
continued, "seeing that I have all the world to look 
through. I can not hurry or expedite matters. It may 
be years," he continued, slowly ; " but I think I can safely 
swear, sooner or later, I will see your grace either with 
the certificate of her death in my hands or with the ad- 
dress of the place in which you will find her living. I 
pledge myself and I shall not faU you." 

"Well," said the duke, meditatively, "if you do this 
much for me you may consider your fortune made. I am 
not an ungrateful man ; and at this moment I am, X 
should say, ike most thoroughly miserable man is 



94 THE duke's segbet. 

England. I am in a dilemma so terrible that I can find 
no way out of it. If you can find a way for me you will 
merit my eternal gratitude and thanks ; as for money, 
you have carte blanche ; spend what you will, but keep 
your promise." 

So they parted on the very best of terms. The detec- 
tive full of zeal, the duke with more hope in his heart than 
had lived there for many a long day. It was, as he had 
said, one of the most difficult positions in which a man 
could be placed. His immense estate and time-honored 
title, his vast wealth, the honors that had accumulated for 
so many generations, all to fall into the hands of a family 
which he disliked, was in itself a severe disappointment ; 
but to know that somewhere in the world he had a beau- 
tiful wife and a son was a greater anxiety still. 

There was hiindreds of ladies who would gladly have 
married him ; hardly a mother in England who would not 
have given her youngest and fairest daughter to him. To 
be Duchess of Castlemayne was the end and aim of many 
A bright young life. There was no man in England so 
feted and flattered. Mothers argued with themselves in 
this fashion — that although he might for many years to 
come shun matrimony, he would be compelled in the end 
to embrace it. It was well known that his mother, the 
Duchess of Castlemayne, wished with her whole heart for 
bis marriage, and that she did all in her power to hasten 
it. She never tired of introducing him to the most beau- 
tiful women and the most charming of girls. She had 
planned and managed, time after time, that she should 
have the first introduction to the most lovely of debxUarUes. 
Her anxiety that he should marry was well known. It had 
been whispered that she would not be very particular as 
to whom he married, provided that he would only take 
to himself a wife. Time had been when she had not thought 
a royal princess good enough for him ; but those times 
were changed now. It had almost become part of the 
fashionable education of a young lady that she should know 
the Castlemayne coronet was to be won. 

Surely never had duke before such a chance. Such 
fair eyes, smiling faces to greet him wherever he went; 
such bright to grow brighter for his coming; but he wa« 
harder than stone and colder than marble. 
^ Tlie ^irls said thftt wh«n he talked to them, ^yett oa 



Va& DTTKE^S SECBET. 95 

the most interestmg of subjects, even wlien he listened to 
4iieir singing of the finest love-songs, even when he 
dfuiced with them to the sweetest music, he looked as 
though with heart and eyes he was looking for some one 
«lse — they little knew, either, how true it was. He never 
«vent into a room filled with beautiful women without 
tvondering if Naomi, by some strange chance, were among 
tihem. He never read of a woman found drowned, killed . 
t)n a railroad, slain in a great fire, without wondering if' 
Naomi were the victim. He never passed a group of 
boys playing in the street without one thought as to 
Whether among them was his son. 

So that it was no wonder he walked through the world 
like one who was in search of something he could never 
find. 

CHAPTER XL 

"THB only woman I DETKST.** 

A OAKDET-PiLBTY at Richmond, given by the Duchess of 
Tehay at her charming villa, and the elite of London so- 
ciety are expected. The Duchess of Tehay knew how to 
tnake her parties popular. She invited the prettiest and 
hiost brilliant of women; she did not underrate the true 
Value of professional beauties, either — they were always a 
chief feature at her parties. No gentleman ever declined 
an invitation, knowing that at the ducal villa he could see 
the most beautiful faces in London. The grounds were 
very extensive, sloping down to the very banks of the 
river; a large boat-house stood there, and several beauti- 
ful little pleasure-boats were at the disposal of the duch- 
ess's visitors. 

The invitations to this, the last garden-party of tho 
season, had been sent far and wide. The Duke of Castle- 
mayne and the duchess, decidedly the most stately and 
noble of the matrons, came second. Mother and son dis- 
cussed the invitations over their most comfortable and 
luxurious breakfast table. 

"I like the Richmond garden-parties," said her grace; 
*' but if I thought we phould meet that brainless woman 
With her two impertinent daughters, and that detestable 
A)n, I would not go. " 

" What a sweeping accusation, mother. Do you meas 
XiadyEverleighr 



y 

96 THE ditee's secret. 

" She is certainly the only woman I detest," replied the 
duchess. If I thought she were going I would not go." 

"I should hardly think that she is on the duchess's 
visiting list," said the duke. 

"She ought not to be; but I have noticed lately, since 
BO much has been said about her son succeeding you, 
that they mix in quite a different set," and the duchess 
sighed deeply as she spoke. 

"That may be; and if you look at it in the right light 
it is a compliment to us." 

" My dear Bertrand," said her grace with calm pride, 
" where we stand, comphments do not affect us. I have 
noticed another thing, and it is this — that lately Lady 
Everleigh has been bringing forward those two daughters 
of hers as beauties. Can you imagine that ?" 

" They are nice looking girls," said the duke, who was 
very tolerant. 

" I have never seen a nice looking Everleigh yet," said 
the duchess, hastily. " I shall certainly not go to Bich- 
mond if she is going." 

" I have not heard," said the duke, " of any one who 
has either accepted or dechned at present. The Prin- 
cess of L is going, and you like to meet her." 

" There is not a more amiable or accompUshed princess 
in the world," cried her grace. " She is really attached 
to me ; and I would go anywhere to meet her." 

" I know she is going ; one of the equerries told me 
last evening," said Sie duke. " My dear mother, forget 
all about Lady Everleigh, and think about the princess." 

The Duchess of Castlemayne wrung her hands. 

" If I could," she cried. " If I might but forget Lady 
Everleigh. Unfortunately for mysefi, I never can — never. 
Oh, Bertrand, how well I remember the day on which you 
were bom. I thought all my troubles and annoyances 
had ended forever. I held you in my arms and felt as 
though I had a sheet anchor. I was sorry for every one 
who had not a son as beautiful and as noble as mine. 
And now I must hve to see the son of the woman who 
hates me and triumphs over me take the place I thought 
my son would occupy. I can see for myself that people 
look upon Arthur Everleigh as your heir." 

He rose hastily from his seat. 

« My dearest mother, you are morVid on that soore," Im 



THE DUEE^S SECSKP. 97 

■aid ; " it is nothing of the kind. You speak as though 
I were an old man, or past the prime of life. You forget 
my age — I am not much more than thirty. Thirty, why, 
a man is young at thirty." 

The beautiful, stately face looked greatly reUeved. 

"That is true, Bertrand. It is not your years that 
alarm me so much as yoiu: decided avoidance of mar- 
riage." 

"Give me time, mother. Some day or other I will 
make up for all this anxiety." 

" If I could but think so," said the duchesa " You have 
promised so often, and every day that passes you seem 
further from it." 

" Be patient, mother, just one year longer," he said ; 
" only one year, and then you shall see what I shall do. 
I promise you if you will give me another year's perfect 
peace and quiet, that at the end of that time I will take 
some decisive step that will please you very much. Will 
you be content ? " 

" I will try, my son," she said, gently ; " I think we will 
go to Richmond ; it is just possible that you might meet 
some one whom you like there." 

" The beautiful, high-bred face looked so anxious and 
grieved that the duke could not find it in his heart to say 
even one word which would dampen her hopes. 

" I will go with pleasure," he said ; " and I will look 
out for the prettiest girl there." 

" If Lady Everleigh shoidd be there, Bertrand," she 
said, "you could not do better than to let her see that you 
ve not really afraid of talking to a nice girl; she says you 
are." 

" Then she says what is not true, mother. I will never 
what the world calls flirt with anyjgirl. I|do not care to say 
a word more than I mGSn, or to make any girl think I Uke 
her more than I really do. You, I am quite sure, will never 
blame me for that." 

" No; that is simply the behavior of a man of honor," 
said the duchess. 

She felt somewhat happier. After all what her son said 
was most perfectly true. He was still young — not yet in 
the prime of life. Why despair and despond ? There waar 
plenty of time for him to marry yet. She looked at him 
AS he opened the papers; in all the land there could he ao 



OS f&E D¥K£'S SEGB£». 

finer, handsomer, more noble looking man. There was 
not the faintest symptoms of age ; his face was clear-cut, 
without line or wrinkle; his hair was thick and clustering, 
his eyes undimned; it seemed folly to look on him as a 
bachelor. It was in great measure his own fault; she 
remembered it was he who had shunned and avoided the 
fair sex; and Lady Everleigh, for the advancement of her 
own family had been only too eager to spread all kinds of 
reports of his confirmed bachelor habits. When she cam© 
to look more calmly at it what madness it seemed. 

They would go to Richmond together, and if her foe 
was present, perhaps this time the victory would be on 
her side. 

They went ; and it seemed as though Providence had 
given the day expressly for pleasure ; it was so bright, so 
beautiful, the sun so warm, the air lull of perfume. The 
river was perfection, just stirred by the faintest of breaths 
— so calm at times that in the great quiet one could see 
the shadows of the clouds and trees. The birds sung 
their sweetest songs, the butterflies showed their brightest 
colors. 

The groimds were most beautiful in themselves ; but 
on this day it was easy to imagine that it was Arcadia. 
The whole scene — the blue sky, the clear rolling river, the 
ripple of the green foUage, the graceful figures and beau- 
tifid faces of the ladies — ^made it a scene of enchant- 
ment. 

The Princess of L was there, as royal, genial, kind 

as ever, delighted to meet her Grace of Castlemayne, and 
even more delighted to meet the duke, who was a great 
favorite with all the royal family. 

" I hear very sad accounts of you," said the princess, 
■with her most charming smile. "I wonder if they are 
true." 

" I will tell your highness honestly," he replied. 

" I hear," she continued, " that in a land of beautiful 
maidens, you are charmed by none." 

"It is not true," he replied. 

" I am glad to hear it. Nothing will please me better 
than to know that you have a wife, good and charming, 
aa you have a mother." 

** Do not think, your highness, that it will be possible/ 



THE DUKE'S SEOBBT. 99 

he said, kissing his mother's hand. "Mj mother has 
always seemed to be the perfection of womanhood." 

" I am glad to hear you say so," replied the princess, 
with one of her kindest smiles. " It is too much the fashion 
now to aflfect a want of love for parents. I like the old- 
fashioned respect;" and then the kindly princess walked 
on with the handsome duke by her side. 

That was the first group which attracted Lady Ever- 
leigh's attention. She had brought both her daughters, 
and was anxious that they should be acknowledged as 
belles and beauties. 

"One word of caution, my dears," she said. "Do you 
see how very intimate her Grace of Castlemayne is with 
the princess? Pay attention to her; and do not forget that 
the best match in England, at this present time, is the 
Duke of Castlemayne." 

The young ladies smiled acquiescence. To know a duch- 
ess who, in her turn, was liked and trusted by » princesi^ 
was a position not to be despised. Certainly tho two girls 
looked their best. They were fine, tall, handsome girls, 
with dark eyes, dark hair, and plenty of color, dressed 
with great care and elegance in costume of rich, creamy 
silk, picturesquely touched with pink. 

Lady Everleigh watched them, and saw the duke look- 
ing a little more interested in them, and Hilda, who had 
certainly a weakness for her handsome kinsman,, blushed 
most beautifully when he addressed her. This g»v« Lady 
Everleigh quite a new idea. 

What if the duke gave up his ideas of celibacy, and 
could be persuaded into marrying Hilda. Which would 
be the best; she wondered, to see her son Duke of Castle- 
mayne, or her daughter duchess ? 

Still more to her surprise, she saw that when the -duke 
left the side of the royal lady who was pleased to honor 
him, he went back to Hilda, who was sitting witL her 
sister under the chestnut trees. Could it be possible that 
he who had been sought by the fairest of women, should 
be attracted by her daughter? She did not know tha* he 
thought, by some little friendly advances to the family, 
he could save his mother annoyance. 

Lady Everleigh was radiant. She drew the attention 
of every 0119 present to the duke's t$te-a-t^ with he? 
daug^htei:. 



100 £HS duke's sbcbxt. 

"Marble softened, ice warmed," and yarious otbef 
"Would-be pretty phrases she employed to attract attention; 
and it was somewhat unusual to see his Grace of Castle- 
mayne so engaged. 

It was as dramatic and comic as a play to see Lady 
Everleigh and the duchess together. My lady joined her 
as she was walking across the lawn, and in her most 
ingratiating style began conversation on the beauty of 
the day and the fete. The duchess received every gush- 
ing remark with calm, cold surprise, untU Lady Ever- 
leigh, indicating with a bland, graceful gesture tiie little 
group on the lawn, said: 

" That is a step in the right direction. I am glad to 
see it." 

" I have not the honor of understanding you," replied 
the duchess, drawing her lace shawl round her, and turn- 
ing away with more hauteur than she had ever yet 
shown. 

My lady laughed to herself. This pleased her. 

'* One or the other," she said; " I do not care which." 

CHAPTER Xn. 

AX UKOOIOION CHARACTKR. 

"MoBB odious than ever," was the decision or the 
Duchess of Castlemayne when she came to reconsider 
Lady Everleigh's conduct. 

*' My dear Bertrand, how could you talk to that girl ?" 

" She is a simple, inoffensive girl, mother, and really 
rather a nice girl than otherwise." 

" You must know how much your notice distinguished 
her. Lady Everleigh was drawing unusual attention to 
it." 

" I did it for your sake entirely, mother. I thought if 
I were agreeable and kind to her they would be less tire- 
some to you." 

" It was very good of you," she replied coldly, " but I 
prefer bearing the annoyance to that method of reheving 
it. Lady Everleigh's eyes said as plainly as eyes could 
speak, ' See, if my son be not a duke, my daughter will be 
a duchess.' " 

"All fancy, mother," he replied. 

•♦ JJo, it's ref4 enough. J had all the insolence ojt het 



THE DUKES SECBET. 101 

triumph. I am anxious enough, Heaven knows, that you 
should marry one of those girls; but it was not of Lady 
Everleigh or her daughters I came to speak to you; I 
have had a letter this morning which has puzzled me very 
much." 

The duchess had gone to her son's study, a beautiful, 
light, lofty room that overlooked the park, a room much 
affected by the duke in his studious moods. It was not 
often that her grace sought him there, but this morning 
with a look of anxiety on her handsome face and an open 
letter in her hand, she presented herself to him. 

" Is it anything in which I can help you, mother ?" he 
asked. 

" It all depends on you, Bertrand. My decision is 
made; I await yours. The letter is from the Earl of 
Arden." 

The duke repeated the name after her. 

" The Earl of Arden ! Why, he has been so long out 
of England one has forgotten his existence almost." 

" You know, of course, that he is distantly related to 
me," said the duchess, " The Ardens and the Mount 
Severns are akin. This present earl when I was quite a 
girl was one of my most fervent admirers," 

" I am not surprised at it, mother," he said, and in his 
own heart he thought to himself that in her youth she 
must have been the most magnificently beautiful of women. 

The duchess smiled at her son's compliments ; and she 
was always well pleased with them. 

" He was many years older than I was, and even then a 
confirmed invalid. Some short time afterward he married 
Theresa Everton, a plain woman, but a wealthy heiress. 
They went abroad at once, and never returned to England 
—his health will not allow him to live in England." 

"It is very unfortunate for him," said the duke; "j 
should not like to live out of England." 

" Nor should I," said the duchess. "You will remem- 
ber, perhaps, that the Countess of Arden died some fivf 
or six years ago — I told you at the time." 

"Yes, I remember it perfectly," replied the duke, won- 
dering to what all this would lead. 

"She left one daughter," continued the duchess, " Lady 
Valentine Arden, and the earl has written to me ab^ut 
hex." 



102 THE DUKE^S SEOBST. 

She watched her son's face narrowly to see if any sign 
of interest came there, but none appeared. 

"A letter," she continued, "which has puzzled me 
very much, and the answer to which must depend en- 
tirely on you. The earl tells me she is a most beautiful 
girl, innocent and simple as a child ; she knows less than 
nothing of life, for her ideas are all Utopian. She has 
never been away from her father for one day — he tells 
me they have been inseparable, and that she is as simple 
as a child of ten." 

" Rather an uncommon character in these degenerate 
days," said the duke. 

" Yes, indeed ; and that is one reason why I am so diffi- 
dent about the matter. A worldly minded girl, or one of 
experience — one who has seen something of life — I 
Bhovdd not mind, but a girl simple as a child of ten, 
beautifvd and a great heiress is an undertaking, Ber- 
trand." 

" Certainly., mother, and a very hazardous undertaking, 
too." 

" The earl wishes me to take charge of his daughter 
for two or three years ; she is eighteen years of age, and, 
as I said before, has seen nothing of life. He wishes her 
to see something of English society, and is kind enough 
to add that she cannot see it under better auspices than 
mine." 

" That is quite true," answered the duke. 

** The earl himself must remain at Nice — he says that 
he could not live in any other place, and he would like 
Lady Valentine to be with me for two or three years at 
least ; she will have what I call a magnificent allowance ; 
she is heiress of Fairlight Park, and, altogether, I should 
say, she is one of the most fortunate girls in the world. 
She would be like a daughter of my own ; I should have 
to introduce her and chaperon her, to take her mother's 
place, in fact. I myself shotdd like it very much. The 
question is, should you ? " 

" What difference could it make to me ? " he asked. 

" A great deal, my dear Bertrand ; some gentlemen 
would not like the introduction of a young and beautifvd 
girl in the household. But you have always seemed so 
adverse to anything of this kind ; you have lived alone 
with me for so many years I am afraid you would hardl/ 



THE DUEE*S SECBST. 103 

like Buch a companion as a young girl of this Juud would 
be. It would certainly make a difference ; we should 
have to go out more ; we must give more balls and par- 
ties ; lead altogether a gayer life than we do now ; be- 
sides which, if I take a mother's place to Lady Valentine, 
you must of course in some kind of way take the place of 
a brother. You are so wedded to your bachelor habits I 
am afraid you will find it troublesome, Bertrand. You 
must think it over to-day, and let me know your decision 
before post-time this evening." 

" I need not take so long a time, mother ; we can very 
well discuss this question now." 

An idea had suddenly occurred to him that if his 
mother had some one else to look after she would have 
much less time for anxiety over him, and that altogether 
it might, perhaps, be the best possible way out of taking 
attention from him. 

*' I do not, in fact, think that there need be any discus- 
sion about the matter. I do not wish to live for myself. 
My habits, as you call them, are not of much consequence ; 
I can adapt myself to any others. I am only sorry that 
yon have no daughter that could comfort you. Let her 
come, by all means. The more I think of it, the better I 
like it." 

The duchess looked not only immensely pleased but 
very much relieved. She did what was unusual with her 
— she bent down and kissed him. 

" I am dehghted, Bertrand," she said ; " nothing could 
have pleased me more. It is but the commencement of 
the season now ; she will be here by the beginning of 
next week, I should imagine." 

" Yes ; if you write to-day," said the duke ; he laughed, 
as he continued : " Why, mother, it wiU make quite a sen- 
sation. I believe this is the first young lady you have 
inti educed to the world." 

" It is. I have not had many of the cares of a chap- 
eron," said the duchess. " I must say that it wiU cheer 
me. I would far rather, though, that it had been a wife 
of yours." 

" All comes in time," he replied. " For some reasons, I 
am sorry that Lady Nell married so young, she was a 
nicB companion for you." 

" I am happy enough, Bertrand, in the promises you 



104 THE duke's secbst. 

have given me," said her grace. " Now I will answer «Bjr 
letter and give my orders. I must have a suite of rooms 
furnished for Lady Valentine — something girlish and 
pretty. At her age chintz and lace are better than silk 
and velvet. She must have nice rooms. I will ask Sido- 
nie to find a nice, bright maid for her. She will want a 
horse, too ; but I will leave you to see to that, Bertrand." 

" I will attend to it with pleasure, mother," he replied. 

"For some things," sa'i the d hess, plaintively, " i 
would far rather she had ^oined us . irst at Rood Castl'^ 
I should have liked to havi > trained lior a little before she 
went much into society , tis it is, I rai st keep her quiet 
for some little time. I am afraid, from what the earl says, 
that she has very littl oducatic n ; the chances are that 
she will neither dance, sing, nlay, ride, nor anything 
else." 

" She can soon be taught, my dear mother," said the 
duke ; " a girl of eighteen will quickly adapt herself to 
all the habits, forms and customs of the world — make 
yourself quite happy. It amuses me to think what peo- 
ple will say when they hear that the stately Duchess of 
Cast^omayne has undertaken to chaperon a young lady. 
Lady Everleigh will not like it" 

The lea made the duchess even more content. Look 
a^ ' any light, it must be disagreeable to her. If Lady 
Valentine were beautiful, as her father represented her to 
be, «he would prove a formidable rival for the Misses 
Everleigh, hom their lady mother had forced into the 
front ranks. So her Grace of Castlemayne was happier 
than she had been since the rumors of Lady Everleigh'a 
imprudent speeches had reached her ear. The duke con- 
soled himself with the thought that during the next year 
he should, at least, have breathing time; his mother would 
have the love affairs of a young lady — always peiplexing 
— to look aftvr. He sat for some time in his study, think- 
ing of what had been and what might have been. He 
might have uad his wife and son here — the wife whose 
face he had forgotten; the son whom he had never seen. 

He could hardly remember Naomi's face; he had no 
picture or photograph of her, and during these twelve 
years his memory of her had grown indistinct and dim. 
It was strange that he remembered her hands better than 
lier face; he could recall them; white, soft, with the dain- 



THE DUEE'b SEGBET. 105 

tiest pink, with the most tender, delicate touch; she had 
had a fashion of laying them on his head at times, and he 
always declared it was like the touch of a butterfly's wing. 
He would have given his life for one touch of that hand 
now. Ah, if he could but have hved his life over again, 
neither father, mother nor anything else should come 
between him and the one he loved. 

He tried to think what this beautiful room of his would 
be like if Naomi, his wife, sat smiling there — if the son 
whom he had never seen was here to help or to amuse him. 

And then he began to wonder, in a most helpless, aim- 
less fashion, what Lady Valentine would be like. He could 
only picture two types of girls — one a romp and a hoiden, 
the other shy, frightened and helpless — yet, no matter what 
she was like, it would be a good thing for him, because it 
would distract his mother's attention. 

CHAPTER XHL 

LADY VALENTINE. 

A BEAUTIFUL evening, one of the first in June, and even 
in the great metropohs its chai*m is felt; the air is sweet 
and balmy, the sky clear and blue, the trees are green in 
the parks. In the heart of the city this evening the shops, 
warehouses, magazines, store-houses and places of business 
are closed; in the fashionable quarters there is a dead 
calm, the roll of carriages was stopped, and the evening 
engagements are held in abeyance. 

At Kood House there is nothing on the tapis — no din- 
ner, no party, no ball. The duchess had dechned all en- 
gagements, because she was expecting Lady Valentine; 
everything had been arranged in the most amicable and 
suitable fashion. The young girl was coming to England 
under the charge of Lord and Lady Heathcote, who had 
been abroad for some time and were now returning home. 
Lady Heathcote had Uked her very much, and had been 
dehghted to take the charge of so beautiful and charming 
a girl. The earl's letters had touched the proud, am- 
bitious heart of the duchess; he loved this, his only child, 
so dearly; he was so anxious that she should be happy. 
Well cared for — that she should at last taste some of the 
gayeties of youth, and see something of the pleasures of 
life; he was so anxious that, having no mother to sxa* 



106 rSE dttee's secret. 

round her with most tender love and care, she should not 
give her love and heart in vain. The most beautiful part 
of the last letter which the duchess had received from him 
was this: 

" I have never known," wrote the earl, " how much we 
both lost when my wife died uatU now — now that my 
beloved child must go out into the world and meet her 
fate as other women do. I see that the greatest safe- 
guard, the greatest refuge a girl can have, is the love of 
a mother. There will be no mother by her side to warn 
her, to counsel and guide her; but you, my dear duchess, 
will do your best for her — I know you will. Men are al- 
ways awkward when it is a question of feeling or senti- 
ment. You will find Valentine very beautiful — far above 
the average — with a most loving heart; she has seen so 
little of the world that she will be most likely to admire 
the first handsome or amiable man that shows her atten- 
tion. I need not say to you, be particular — you will be. 
With beauty, grace and wealth, she ought to marry weli; 
above all, let her marry the man she loves. My own de- 
sire is to see her happy; my own desire is that she shall 
marry happy, for I have not many years to Uve." 

That letter made the duchess very thoughtful. It is 
one thing to chaperon a beautiful girl, but it is quite 
another thing to see that she falls in love with the right 
man. 

" I shall be quite as anxious over her as though she 
had been my own daughter — perhaps much more so. 
Perhaps no daughter of mine would ever make any mis- 
take in marriage — it would be most unlikely ; but Lady 
Valentine will, after the fashion of her kind, most prob- 
ably do so." 

She was pondering over the probable and possible love 
affairs of the young heiress when the carriage drove up 
to the door. 

The duke, at her grace's solicitation, had received the 
stranger. Lord and Lady Heathcote had arranged to 
leave her at Rood House as they drove to the station. 
They had not time to alight, but sent messages to the 
duchess, with a promise to call very soon. 

For once in her life, the Duchess of Castlemayne feli 



THE DUKE'S SECRET. 10? 

some little emotion — there was a flusli on her handsome 
face and a hght in her grand eyes. 

" What will she be hke, Bertrand? " she cried. 

" We shall soon see, mother," he answered. 

Then the door opened, and Lady Valentine Arden was 
announced. 

A tall, slender girl entered, who, although the night 
was warm, was wrapped in a dark traveling cloak. The 
duchess went forward to meet her. The loveliest face in 
the wide world smiled at her from under the shade of a 
travehng hat — a face so lovely that for some moments she 
was silent from sheer wonder, then the sweetest voice in 
the world said: 

" Are you the Duchess of Castlemayne ?" 

"Yes; and you are Lady Valentine. How pleased I 
am to see you. I bid you welcome to England. This is 
your first visit to your native land, is it not ?" 

•' Yes, my first; and I have been longing to come here 
aU my hfe." 

"There was the most delicious foreign accent, just 
enough to charm — a piquant, beautifiil intonation whiok 
gave greater sweetness to the English tongue than eithei 
mother or son ever heard before. Then the duchess be- 
thought herself of her son, and in a few words introduced 
him to her charge. 

" I did not know," she said, " that you were grown up; 
my father spoke of you as though you were a boy." 

" Would you hke me better if I were a boy ?" asked the 
duke, laughingly. "If so, I shall feel inclined to take 
some of my years away." 

"You could not — no — I think it is best — but how sur- 
prised papa will be!" 

The dark, clear eyes looked admiringly at him ; it was 
plainly seen that the young girl was impressed in his favor, 
he had never seen admiration more plainly expressed. 
Suddenly, too, those words returned to him, that she was 
simple as a child of ten, and he realized for the first time 
what true simplicity meant. 

" She wiU say anything she thinks," and he stood aghast 
at the prospect. Her eyes were upon him. 

" How difi:erent Englishmen are from foreigners," she 
said. " I have grown tired of dark faces, and longed to 
pep one that was fair." 



108 THE dtjke's secret. 

The duchess laughed. 

" You have all the instincts of an Englishwoman," she 
said. " I am like you in that respect ; I prefer English 
faces. You will like to go to your room now, Lady Val- 
entine ; you must feel tired after your long journey." 

" It was too pleasant and too full of novelty for me to 
tire of it ; and all the way I was thinking of you, wonder- 
ing what you would be like, and if I should be happy with 
you." 

" A terrible child for saying what she thinks," thought 
the duchess ; but the duke began to feel a certain pleas- 
ure in her freshness. 

•■ I hope you will be happy," said her grace ; " we will 
do all in our power to make you so." 

'•I did not like the idea at all at first," said Lady Val- 
entine. " I had never been away from papa for many 
hours, and I thought I must die if I had to leave him." 

•* You have been his constant companion, then ? " said 
the duke. 

" Yes ; no father and daughter could have spent more 
time together than we have. 

"But how have you managed about your education ? " 
asked the duchess. " The usual thing is for a young lady 
to spend her time in study." 

" I am not educated," said Lady Valentine. " Papa 
says there is plenty of time to make up for deficiencies." 

"Not educated! " repeated the duchess, in a tone of 
horror. " My dear child, there must be some mistake." 

" I mean not properly educated. I can speak French, 
Italian and German just as well as English — better than 
English, in fact." 

" Do you play ? " asked the duchess. 

*' Yes ; the piano and the harp. I had masters fo* 
both.' 

" But, my dear child, you said you were not educated/ 
cried the duchess. 

" I am not ; I have never had a lesson in my hfe." 

" It seems to me," said her grace, " that you are highly 
accompHshed." 

" That was what papa said. I am accomplished, but 
not educated." 

"A common state of things, but seldom so frankl/ 
pwned," thought the duchess. 



THE DUKE'S SECBET. 109 

*' We are putting you quite through a catechism," she 
said. " You shall teU us more when you have rested. "We 
dine at seven. I thought you would like an hour's rest. 
You must have a nice cup of tea — Enghsh tea, in the 
English fashion — that is the best restorative after a jour^* 
ney." 

The young heiress was taken then to the suite of rooms 
provided for her, where she found her new maid in at^ 
tendance — a pretty, bright-eyed Parisian, by name Laura 
Despines — to whom Lady Valentine, in her quick, impul- 
sive fashion, took a great liking at once. 

She was dehghted with the magnificent apartments. 

"I am very fortunate," she said to herself, " to have a 
duchess for a kinswoman." 

There were no rooms like these at Nice. The outlook 
from the windows pleased her most; to be able to watch 
the birds as they flew from tree to tree; to watch the 
herds of graceful deer in the park; to watch the tall trees, 
and the free tossing of the great branches in the wind. 

" It was better," she said to herself, " than all the 
mountain scenery. Nothing could be so sweet, so soft, so 
quiet, as this beautiful English green." 

She drank the cup of tea, and then, before she would 
even look at the beautiful dresses awaiting her inspection 
she wrote to her father. Her letter was amusing in its 
frankness. 

" The duchess is very handsome," she wrote, " and does 
not look at all old, but very proud. I should not think 
that there is a queen or empress who looks more proud 
or more royal. She is verj' kind, but when I look at her 
I think of Semiramis, Boadicea, Cleopatra, and ah the 
queens of history. I thought her son was a boy, but in- 
stead of that he is a very handsome man — I Hke him very 
much indeed. I can not help thinking that I shall like 
him better than his mother. He has beautiful eyes ; they 
look so kind and true. I was struck with him the mo- 
ment I saw him. Do you remember, at the Countess de 
Sarguin's in the large salon, there is a picture of San Se- 
bastian ? Do you remember how often you and I have 
looked at that face, and said that it was the most beauti- 
ful, and yet the saddest, we had ever seen ? Our duke 
resembles it exactly ; his face has just the samo sad, 



110 THE duke's sbobst. 

clear look upon it. One thing I did notice— his eyes and 
his lips never smiled at the same time. I am quite sure 
that I shall like him very much indeed. He seemed 
amused at me, as though I were a child, and the duchess 
asked many questions about my education. I shall write 
to you every day, papa, and tell you everything that 
passes, and I shall send my letters — which will be like a 
diary — each week. 

" I shall tell you all about the duke, and all that he 
does." 

When the Lord of Arden read that letter, he was for a 
short time quite dismayed. What if, in risking to intro- 
duce his beautiful daughter into the world, he had brought 
her to her doom ? But then he consoled himself by think- 
ing that she was but a child. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

ON DANGEEOUS GROUND. 

The duke would hardly own to himself that he was 
cvMiious to see Lady Valentine again. She was so wrapped 
up in her traveling-cloak, hat and veil that be had hardly 
seen ^er face, only just enough of it to know that it was 
remarkably beautiful. He longed to see more of it, yet 
he would not own to himself that he longed to see it. It 
was courtesy to bis mother's guest, he believed, that 
made him wait patiently for dinner and spend the even- 
ing at heme, instead of going off to his dearly loved 
club. 

He had s*^ nn that her face was beautiful, but he was not 
prepared for the vision of loveliness that dazzled his eyes 
like bright sunshine. 

Lady Valentine came down dressed for dinner, and it 
was many a long day since the duke had seen such fault- 
less, high-bred lot'eliness. She had chosen her most be- 
coming dress — a pale-blue velvet, richly trimmed with 
pearls — and it fitteoi her to perfection ; her figure was all 
grace and harmony, overy line and every curve in it was 
perfect, supple, roundsd, graceful, with free and exquisite 
grace of gesture and motion. He thought of a descrip- 
tion he had read of a heroine in some story, " whose every 
movement seemed to bo in harmony with some hidden 



THE duke's secret. Ill 

music." Many women are beautiful, but their Deauty is of 
jittle value unless accompanied with grace. A graceful 
woman without beauty is far more attractive than a beau- 
tiful woman without grace. The peculiar and greatest gift 
— grace of gesture, of movement— was the first thing that 
struck him in Lady Valentine; whatever attitude she 
assumed was always natural and picturesque. His eyes 
followed her with delight; every fold of her dress had a 
grace of its own. Her hands and arms were perfect— round, 
white, superbly shaped arms, bare to the dimpled, pea^'^y 
shoulders; hands that were dainty and beautiful; she used 
them more in conversation than is ueua! with gentle- 
women in England. Those marvelous white hands said »t 
times even more than her words did. 

He never tired of looking at her face. It was not so 
much the beauty of feature which attracted him as the 
glorious expression — the fire, the eloquence, the poetry, 
the passion — it was that, changed twenty times in an hour, 
from gay to grave, from pathos to fun, from poetry t^ 
comedy; he had seen nothing like it. 

The features were very beautiful — faultless in outline, ok 
delicate oval — a white dimpled chin, and a lovely fresh 
mouth that was the very home of love and grace ; every 
play of it, every line round it beautiful ; dainty curves 
and dainty dimples that would have driven one distracted 
who dwelt upon them. Her eyes were as blue as the 
lovely violet hue that one sees in the depths of a heart's- 
ease ; she had the dark, straight brows that the Greeks 
of old gave to their goddesses : a white brow and a mass 
of fine golden-brown hair, golden in the sunshine, brown 
in the shade. She was tall, and the grace almost of child- 
hood lingered about her. Lady Valentine could do and 
say things no one else would ; that which in her was fair, 
child-like candor, in another would have been almost in- 
tolerable. The duke would not have believed it, if any 
one had told him he was watching the young girl with 
more pleasure and delight than he had felt for years. 

It seemed so curious to take her in to dinner, to remem- 
ber that every day the beautiful, fresh young face would 
be opposite to him, to remember that every hour in the 
day he could hear the fresh, sweet voice, with its piquant, 
dainty accent. Looking from the fair young face of the 
girl to the handsome face of his stately mother, he said tP 



112 THE DUKE'S SECEET. 

himself that no where in all England could one find two 
such exquisite women. 

" I can hai'dly realize," he said to her, " that you will be 
here every day ; the duchess and I have been so long 
alone." 

** You have visitors, have you not I" she asked. 

" Yes, very often. We give more balls than dinner- 
parties. Do you like dancing, Lady Valentine ?" 

" I never tire of it; but then I have never danced with 
a gentleman yet. Papa never allowed me to go to a 
ball or dancing-party. I knew some nice girls at Nice; 
our drawing-room was large, and Avhen the band played 
we waltzed for hours together." 

" A mild form of dissipation." said the duke, with a 
smile. 

"We were a mild form of people," she replied; and 
the duchess thought to herself that, child as she was, 
the young lady had a very good idea of giving an answer. 

They watched her with critical eyes, but her grace and 
good-breeding were perfect; every moment the duchees 
grew fonder of her. 

" A girl really after my own heart," she said to herself 
more than once. 

The dinner passed off most pleasantly; the duchess 
and her young charge went into the drawing-room, while 
the duke finished his wine. As a rule when he had no 
engagements, he spent his evenings at the club; but to- 
night he never thought of going out; he wanted to amuse 
his mother's guest. When he went into the drawing- 
room he thought he had never seen a more beautiful pic- 
ture. The lamps were lighted, and a flood of soft golden 
light filled the room-; soft, subdued, and mellow, it fell on 
the fresh radiant face of the young girl and on the hand- 
some, stately figure of the duchess; the windows were 
wide open, and the sweet night wind stirred the hang- 
ings. The duchess reclined in an easy-chair; Lady Val- 
entine had taken a book and sat quite at her ease, and in 
the most graceful of attitudes, on a couch. 

The duke went up to her at once. 

" What are you reading, Lady Valentine ? " he asked. 

" A very nice story," she replied. " Papa told me tliat 
the thing I should enjoy most in England would be the 
lK)oksi we had not many books at Nice. This story i« 



THE duke's secret. 113 

called 'Patricia Tremhalt' ; it is written by Mrs. E. Lynn 
Linton, and I like it exceedingly. Patricia is a noble 
character, but the other is untrue. I detest untruth. 

" I should imagine that you do," said the duke; "still 
the want of truth is a very common failing, do you not 
think so?" 

" I hope not," she replied. " I have seen very little of 
people; but if I knew any one who had told me a real un- 
truth with the deliberate intention of deceiving me, I 
should never like him. I often wonder how people have 
fallen into the habit of being insincere ; it seems to me 
always so much easier to be quite straightforward and 
truthful." 

"It is not the way of the world," said the duke, 
thoughtfully. 

" Is it not ? It will always be my way," she answered; 
and he began to wonder what she would say if she knew 
the secret of his life, and how utterly he had failed in 
truth and honor once. That reflection made him sad and 
grave ; she saw the change that came over his face, and 
wondered at it. She looked at him with her clear violet 
eyes. " You are so much like a picture that I love very 
much at Nice," she said suddenly. 

" I wish I were the picture if I might share the same 
happy fate," he said, laughingly. 

She did not seem to understand even the meaning of 
his words. 

"Papa and I went every day to look at it," she con- 
tinued. 

"It is so strange; but the face might have been copied 
from yours." 

She was so earnest herself that those who spoke to her 
were compelled to be earnest themselves. 

" What is the picture ?" asked the duke; " tell me about 
it" 

" It is the martyrdom of San Sebastian," she replied. 
"Do you not know it? San Sebastian is tied to a tree, and 
the soldiers are preparing to let fly their arrows at him; 
he looks so divine, his face has the light of heaven in it; 
yet there is something so sad about the face, the eyes, and 
the mouth; when you speak the likeness is not so strong, 
but when you are silent you look sad and then your face 
has just the same lines as San Sebastian's" 



114 THE duke's SSCBXT. 

"You are a keen observer," said the duke. "No one 
ever told me before that I looked sad when I. was silent." 

" You do," she replied, with a little nod of her charming 
head; " you look like some one who has imhappy thoughts, 
really unhappy onea" 

He was slightly confused, not knowing whether his 
mother would hear the conversation or not. 

" Every one has sad thoughts at times," he said, gently. 
"I am no exception to the rule." 

"I should have thought," she said, "that you were the 
happiest man in the wide world." 

The happiest! Alasl it was not so very long since he 
had declared himself the most miserable of men. 

He looked at the beautiful young face. 

"I have everything to make me happy," he replied; 
but he knew that even as the arrows had found their home 
in the heart of San Sebastian, so the one great trouble of 
his life was the sharpest of all arrows to him. 

" I have often had sad thoughts," said Lady Valentine ; 
but they have been about my father's health of late, 
though I am sure he has never been better ; yet he will 
never be able to live in England again." 

" Do you think that you shall like England ? " he asked. 

" I am sure I shalL I feel more at home here now than 
I did at Nice." 

To his mind there came something like a wish that she 
"was never to leave them again ; her fair presence bright- 
ened that magnificent room, made it more cheerful and 
home-like ; even the duchess felt the charm of the sweet, 
graceful presence, of the clear sunny laughter. She left 
her chair and crossed the room to where they were sitting; 
with a gentleness quite unusual to her, she bent over thf 
girl and kissed her fair cheek. 

" I can feel how much Lord Arden misses you by tho 
happiness I feel at seeing you. The longing of my heart 
has always been to have a daughter. I have often thought 
of adopting one. No house ever seems to me complete 
unless there is a young girl about it." 

" Papa often deplored the fact that he had no son," 
Sfaid Lady Valentine. " You would not change your son 
for me, would you." 

What a sweet voice it was ! True and clear as a bird'i, 
with the most beautiful trilla. 



THE duke's secret. 115 

•• No," laughed the duchess. " I could not even if I 
Would." 

" You will have a daughter when your son marries," 
said Lady Valentine. 

"Yes," repeated the duchess, with a sigh, "that is 
quite true." 

They were on dangerous ground ; the duke thought it 
would be much better to change the conversation. 

"I should like much to hear you sing. Lady Valen- 
tine," he said. " Will you ? " 

" Yes, with pleasure. Nay, I want no lights, I play 
and sing without notes ; they are only in the way," and 
she went to the piano, the duke following her and taking 
his place by her side. 

CHAPTER XV. 

A BEMINISCENOB. 

** What kind of music do you like best ? " asked Lady 
Valentine, turning her face to the duke. " Music was 
papa's one recreation ; he never tired of it ; it is the only 
thing that I studied with all my heart. I can sing what 
you like — English ballads, French chansons, Spanish 
songs, Italian scivas, German melodies — anything you 
like ! " 

"Give me an English ballad," he said; and the next 
moment the room was filled with a flood of the sweetest 
melody he had ever heard. 

The words were as simple as they were sweet 

"When twiliglit dews are falling soft 

Upon the rosy sea, love, 
I watch the star whose beams so oft 

Has lighted me to thee, love. 
And thou, too, on that orb so cleur, 

Ah, dost thou gaze at even. 
And think, though lo t forever here, 

Thou'll yet be mine in heaven? 

" There's not a garden walk I tread. 

There's not a flower I see, love, 
But brings to mind some hope that's fle4. 

Some joy I've lost with thee, love. 
Aad still I wish that hour was near 

When, friends and foes forgiven. 
The pains, the ills we've wept through beci^ 

May turn to smiles in heaven." 



116 THE duke's secret. 

The duke understood what her father meant by saying 
that she sung as the birds lilted. It was true, he thought, 
all he had read of the golden-throated daughters of the 
South, whose voices lure the hearts of men from their 
breast. He thought of the German Lorelie, who, singing 
as she combs her golden hair, drew the souls of men in 
her deadly embrace, drew the highest and most honored 
under the cold waters, and never let them escape again. 

The girl turned her bright face to him. 

** Do you Kke that ? " she asked. 

*• Yes, I think it is very sweet and very sad," he replied. 

"Do you beUeve itto be true," she continued, "that 
what we lose on earth we shall find in heaven ? " 

" I do not know. I have never thought of it at all," he 
replied. 

It was an unusual style of conversation for him. 

" I think of it very often," she continued. " That is one 
of papa's favorite songs; and I have sung it so often that 
the words are impressed on my heart." 

" They are very beautiful words," said the duke, rather 
at a loss how to carry on the conversation, heaven not be- 
ing the theme that the generality of young ladies chose 
for conversing with him. 

Her white fingers moved slowly over the keys. 

"Yes," she continued, **I have thought a great deal 
about it, and I have drawn my own conclusions." 

" What are they ? " asked the duke, wondering what 
her thoughts and ideas really were. 

" I am sure," she replied, " that it is better for one to 
have the best love in heaven, instead of on earth. I look 
at it in this way — the life on earth lasts but a short time, 
while the life in heaven never ends. Is it not better to 
have the unending life with the one you love than this 
which ends so quickly." 

" Yes, if you can believe it yourself and make others 
believe it," said the duke. 

" Who would not believe it? " she asked, with the rap- 
t«rou8 faith of youth. 

" Many people have no faith in heaven at all," said the 
duke ; " others have a kind of indistinct belief that it 
exists ; but they are so little sure of it, they would make 
no sacrifice in this world to win it. To all such, the idea 
of love in hoaven would present but few attractiong,'* 



THE duke's SECEET. 11? 

The beautiful face grew graye and serious as he 
spoke. 

" I can only say what I think myself," she said, slowly. 
•'If I loved any one very much, and it were possible that I 
could choose whether I would live forty years on earth 
with the one beloved, or whether I would love him for- 
ever in heaven, I shoidd choose the latter." 

Looking at her bright, spiritual face, with its poetry 
and its ideality, there was not the least idea but that she 
would really make that choice. 

" I ha^e never thought about such things," said the 
duke, " but I do not think I should agree with you; I 
should be far more incUned to take the earthly love." 

She looked at him with grave consideration. 

"Perhaps," she said, "you have never cared very 
much about any one in that kind of way." 

He wondered what she would say if she knew how much 
he had cared for some one — with how mad a love, and 
how cruelly he had treated her. With the clear gaze of 
those superb eyes upon him, the duke felt sure that if 
she knew anything of his secret there would be no friend- 
ship, no liking for him. 

" People differ,' she said. " Papa has been so ill, he has 
suffered so much, he has been so often near death that it 
seems to me we have been in the habit of looking at 
things more in the light of heaven than of earth." 

He wondered still more, and he liked her so much the 
better for it. She was so unlike other girls; but then 
who but Lady Valentine would have tried to have 
amused a young duke about talking about heaven ? 

"I do not think," she said, suddenly, "that people 
often express their best thoughts and highest desires — I 
have often wondered if words could be foimd for them. 
I think there are many thoughts, many wishes, many 
desires we have which could be brought to measure. Do 
you know a beautiful song called ' Lnperfectus,' vrritten 
by an American poet ?" 

" No," said the duke, " I do not remember it." 

" Then, if you are willing, I will sing it for you," she re- 
plied. " It sajs what X mean so much better th. Ji I can 
pay it mysetf 



118 iiHi) puke's secbet. 

She began, in the Yoice that he thought sweeter than 
anj other : 

*' I wonder if ever a Bong was Biing 

Bntthe singer's heart song sweeter ; 
I wonder if ever a rhyme was rung 

But the thoughts surpassed the meter ; 
I wonder if ever a sculptor wrought 
Till the cold stone echoed his ardent thought ; 
Or if ever a painter with light and shade 
The dream of his innermost heart portrayed. 

** I wonder if ever a rose wa« found, 

And there might not be a fairer ; 
Or if ever a glittering gem was ground 

And we dreamed not of a rarer. 
Ah, never on earth shall we find the best. 
But it waits for us in the land of rest ; 
And a perfect thing we shall never behold 
Till we pass the portals of shining gold." 

She turned to him when she had finished. 

" Now," she said, " Do you understand what I mean?" 

" Yes, better than I did. You mean that the highest, 
the holiest, the best thoughts, desires, and wishes of men 
are not so easy to put into words as their lowest." 

" That is it. What do you think of my song ?" 

" I like it. Strange to say I have often thought of that 
same thing — that no matter what we possess, there seems 
something better worth possessing." 

" A grand old writer says, * That the soul is infinite, 
and can only be satisfied with an infinite love,' " added 
Lady Valentine. " Are you tired of my singing, or would 
you like more of it ?" 

" I should never tire of your singing, or of your conver- 
sation," he replied. 

And she never dreamed of doubting his words. She 
turned again to the notes, and for a few minutes her fin- 
gers wandered over the keys, and then she sung an old- 
fashioned Scotch ballad so sweetly and with such pathos, 
that the tears came to the eyes of the duchess. She went 
over to her. 

" My dear Lady Valentine," she said, "you have done 
what no other singer has done ; you have brought the 
tears to my eyes, and happiness that is almost pain to my 
heart. I hav« npt bewd * Ye Banks ftnd Praes ' for many 
yews." 



THE duke's secret. 119 

Stately peeress, a matron of proudest fame, the beloved, 
honored, trusted widow of one of England's greatest 
nobles, the mother of the most ehgible man of the day. 
She had a love story in her far-off days, when she was 
heiress of Mount Severn, and went with her father to 
Scotland. The shooting party at Glenlie Lodge was joined 
by Captain Gordon Stewart, the most honest, handsome, 
and chivalrous man in her majesty's army. He had the 
beauty of a Greek god, the courage and chivalry of a Bay- 
ard, the bearing of a king ; and he loved this beautiful 
Lady Mount Severn with all his heart. He knew that he 
might as well have tried to win a star from heaven — she 
was not for him ; the young heiress loved him, too, if love 
be told in looks — but of what use was that ? The heiress 
of Mount Severn had to contract an alliance, not to marry ; 
she owned silways afterward to herself that she had done 
wrong. Love was so beautiful ; she had daUied with it 
for a few days before slaying it, and those few days were 
fatal to the young soldier. He presumed to tell her of his 
love, and swore that he would make for himself a fame 
greater than Napoleon's if she would give him the promise 
of her hand. She smiled very sweetly and sadly when she 
told him it coiild never be ; she kissed his lips for the first 
and last time and sent him away broken-hearted. 

That last evening he spent at Glenlie Lodge he sung 
that beautiful old song, always so sweet and always so 
sad; sung it with his eyes fixed on her and the thorn so 
sore and sharp in his side. He went away the day fol- 
lowing, and the next she heard of him was that he had 
died at the head of his regiment with his face to the foe. 
From that day to this the duchess had never heard "Ye 
Banks and Braes;" if she were in a room and heard the 
opening notes, she left it; but to-night the old spell 
seemed to have been laid upon her; she Hstened, even to 
the last word, and then for the first time in many years 
tears came to her eyes; she recalled the whole scene so 
vividly, the sun setting over the Scottish moors, the 
beautiful face, so full of love for her, which she was never 
to see again. Ah, me ! that love stories should be so sad 
while they are so sweet. 

Her heart was softened, some of the romance which 
had once made life so sweet to her came back like a breath 
of the heather from the Scotch hills. The Duchess o| 



120 THE DUEE'S SECBIT. 

Castlemayne — certainly the proudest and most stately 
woman in England — had not dreamed that so much 
capacity for emotion was still left in her, and strange to 
say, a deep affection for the girl who aroused it woke up 
within her. It was such a picture of domestic happiness; 
and as she watched the two a sudden idea occuiTed to 
the duchess. 

She had often urged her son to marry; who in the wide 
world could suit him one-half so well as this beautiful 
young girl, to whom he had already given more time than 
she had ever seen him devote to any woman ? 

With such a daughter as that how unutterably happy 
she would be, and as she feU asleep that evening the beau- 
tiful face of the young soldier and the sweet voice of Lady 
Valentine went with her in her dreams. 



CHAPTER XVL 

TEE QUSXM OF BXkUTT. 

The Duchess of Castlemayne resolved this time upon 
being very prudent; that the duke should fall in love 
with and marry Lady Valentine seemed to her the very 
length of her ambition, her most darling wish. The 
more she saw of Lord Arden's beautiful daughter the bet- 
ter she liked her, so lovely, so bright, so graceful. Even 
the least social untruth never escaped her hps; her sovd 
was clear as crystal; she did not know how to be anything 
but truthfuL 

The duchess found her an apt pupil ; she advised her 
to study the ways and habits of English society for a few 
days before she went out much. The first thing of course 
was her presentation, and fortunately her most gracious 
majesty held a Drawing-room in a few days. The duchess 
did her best to impress upon the mind of her charge all 
the grandeur and importance of this occasion. She never 
wearied of discussing her costume, the length of her 
train, the ueight of her feathers, the manner in which 
her obeisance to the queen must be made ; how careful 
she must be to courtesy to every member of the royal 
family ; how she must contrive to leave the royal pres- 
ence side wise, an idea which delighted Lady Valentine ; 
how merrily she discussed it ; but the evening of this 



THE duke's secret. 121 

4ay, while they were speaking of it, she turned her 
bright face to the duke. 

" Are you not going ? " she asked. 

" No," he replied, " my mother goes with you." 

"And not you I" she cried. "I quite thought you 
were going." 

Her face fell, and some of the light died out of her 
eyes. 

" I shall not care about it half so much if you do not 
go," she repeated. 

" But why not, my dear child ? " he asked. 

"I like to go out with you," she said; "you see the 
humor of everything just as I do myself, and there are few 
people who understand real humor ; very often when I 
laugh most heartily people wonder what I am laughing 
at; they are quite solemn and quiet while the most absurd 
scenes pass before their eyes. Papa says my sense of the 
comic is almost too great; but I believe in laughter." 

"So do I," said the duke. 

"You stop at the 'theory,* she said, "for you seldom put 
it into practice; I do not often see j^ou laugh. Were you 
always melancholy as you are now?" 

" I am not melancholy," he replied. 

"No, perhaps that is not quite the right word; you do 
not brighten up when any one speaks to you — absorbed is 
the word I mean. You are always absorbed in deep thought 
I wonder what it is you think so deeply about." 

If she knew she would not look up at him with those 
clear, lustrous eyes. What, indeed, would any one say, 
who knew that he, one of the proudest peers in England, 
was always thinking how he could find the wife whom his 
cowardice had lost? 

He shuddered when he thought of it; but the sweet, 
plaintive voice called him to himself. 

" I have lost quite half my interest," she said, " in my 
presentation. " 

He could not help feeling touched ; it was so long 
since any one had spoken to him in that fashion ; never 
since he had lost Naomi. He had kept aloof from every 
one since then. 

"It will not last very long," he said. " I have no pre- 
text for going, or, as you wish it so much, I would go. I 



122 THB DUKB'S SEOEET. 

shall be at home to dinner, and then you will tell me all 
about it " 

"Yes, I will do that; but it will not be as nice as 
having you there. The duchess says the best ball of the 
season is to be given to-morrow at Lady Balfour's. Shall 
you be there ? " 

" Certainly. I shall escort you both, and we shall find 
ample store of amusement, Lady Valentine. " 

" I shall enjoy the ball better than the Drawing-room." 

Her words were so frank and freely spoken that he 
never dreamed of anything beneath them. That she 
should like best to go out with him, because he was 
gifted with a sense of humor akin to her own, seemed 
very reasonable. If any one had told him that in her 
girlish heart a passionate love for himself was dawning, 
he would not have believed it. Home seemed brighter 
than ever with the beautiful face and musical voice. 
There were times when he could have fancied that a fairy 
had taken up its abode in the mansion; every wish of his 
was so instantaneously gratified. Was it by magic that 
just when he felt thirsty claret cup or iced lemonade 
stood ready for him ? The duchess had always looked 
well after her son, but some one else did it better. Who 
stood ready to greet him every morning with a face like a 
beautiful blushing rose, holding a flower for his button- 
hole, which was always inserted with great state and cere- 
mony ? Whose white hands, shining with gems, poured 
out his tea, knowing to a nicety how much cream and 
sugar he liked ? Who knew exactly what daily papers he 
preferred, and how he liked them open ? Who worked all 
those dainty cigar-cases and slippers which he found in 
his room ? Evidently some one cared for him very much 
indeed — some one studied his least wish, his daintiest 
tastes — some one must listen and attend to every word. 

Because he was so like the picture she loved she had a 
fashion of calling him "San Sebastian." The duchess 
was amused at it—the duke liked it, anything was better 
than a formal title from those beautiful lips. He, too, 
very often forgot her title and called her Valentine, all of 
which the duchess remarked with quiet pleasure, but 
said nothing; so many of her dreams had been destroyed 
the moment she mentioned them that she had resolved 
not to speak of this, the dearest hope of all. 



THE duke's secret. 123 

Lacfy ualfour's grand ball of tiie season always followed 
fihe Drawing-room; there one met again the beautiful 
Saces of the iair young debutantes who on that day began 
.heir social life. 

liady Valentine Arden had been much spoken of- -he>' 
bright radiant beauty had made a great impression or 
all who saw her. The gentlemen were one and all de&'r- 
ous of seeing her again — even the ladies, the most crit- 
ical of them, had nothing to say against her. When it 
was known that she would be at Lady Balfour's ball with 
her Grace of Castlemayne, there were few who did not 
try to get there; a new beauty is always so great a sensa- 
tion. 

"Have you seen her? What is she like? Blonde or 
brunette? They say she has a finer figure than the 
Chandos ! Beautifiil as a houri, and rich ! A wealthy 
heiress, with a lovely face! Poor Arden's daughter!" 
said one of his friends; " we must bid her heartily wel- 
come for his sake." 

The chief topic of conversation that night in London 
was the beautiful Lady Arden. Just at that time all 
iVIammon bent in worship before a beautiful woman who 
had quite suddenly, and for her beauty's sake, become 
most popular. She ruled the day — the papers were filled 
with raptures of her — her words, her deeds, her ban mots, 
her dresses, the fashion in which she walked, danced, and 
rode were all criticised. 

One society journal swore by her, and in a manney 
made itself by its attractive description of her. A rival 
journal exalted a rival beauty, and week after week they 
fought gallantly over these fair women. As no ball was 
complete without them, they were both invited to Lady 
Balfour's. The leading beauty, the queen of the day, 
Mrs. Trelawney, although petted, flattered and feted as 
few women have been, was generous and large hearted. 
Mrs. Dulwich, on the contrary, felt something like cor- 
dial hatred to any girl fairer or even as fair as herself. 
The rival beauties were friends, they had agreed to reign 
together, but they did not care to admit a third. A 
Frenchman, watching how people completely mobbed 
Mrs. Trelawney in order to look at her, said : 

"Mafoi, but pretty faces must be rare in Eng^land w"***!! 
BO much fuss is made over one." 



124: THE duke's seobet. 

These two beautiful queens of society took counsel to- 
gether when they met at Lady Balfour's, and it was 
amusing to watch the distracted looks of the gentlemen 
while the two lovely heads were bent together. 

Suddenly there was a slight commotion in the room, a 
slight murmur ; and the rival beauties, still standing side 
by side, turned to look at the cause. 

Ah, me, for the crown and scepter! from that moment 
each felt it fall from her grasp. A group entered that it 
would take both painter and poet to describe. Eirst the 
Duchess of Castlemayne, certainly the most stately, the 
handsomest, the proudest matron in England, resplendent 
in superb diamonds — every one knows the Castlemayne 
diamonds are among the finest gems in the world ; with 
her came a girl, beautiful as a vision, her dress of white 
and gold falling like sunbeams ; pearls and rubies on the 
white breast and fair round arms ; her golden brown hair 
arranged after the Grecian fashion, and crowned with a 
toiara of pearls. 

Men lost their hearts and women their courage, as they 
looked at her. 

By her side, evidently engrossed with her, was the 
handsome woman-hating duke, who had never entered a 
ball-room quite in this fashion before. 



CHAPTER XVIL 

LADY valentine's CHOIOI. 

A MUBMUR, sUght and silvery, followed the group. Lora 
Carlton was quite right, there was nothing like her. Mrs. 
Trelawney turned pale, and Mrs. Dulwich picked the 
lovehest flower in her bouquet leaf from leaf. It was cer- 
tainly all over with them and everybody else, if this most 
fair and graceful young queen intended to reign. But 
did she ? that was the point. Lady Balfour received her 
guests with unconcealed deUght. The Duchess of Castle- 
mayne honored those whom she visited. Lady Balfour 
knew of a hundred fair and stately dames who had this 
season urged the duke to visit them, but who had invari- 
ably received some apology, and she ; knowing the maids 
and matrons of Great Britain, understood that in the 
duke she had even a greater prize than in the duchess ot 



THE DTJKE'S SECBET. 125 

the new beauty. Lady Balfour, although one of the 
queens of society, was not above boasting her social 
success. 

" I am so glad to see the duke here to-night," she said 
to her confidential friend, the Countess of Boscobel. " The 
duchess tells me he does not go out half so much as he 
should do. There is always a shade of melancholy 
about him." 

" My dear Lady Balfour, with all your experience, are 
you really so fooHsh as to believe that it is your ball 
which has induced the Duke of Castlemayne to break 
through what I must call his absurd notion of not visit- 
ing?" 

" No — I thought so," said the embarrassed lady. 

"Nothing of the kind. Do j'ou not see he is in love 
with the beautiful ward of his mother's ? I do not think 
ha has taken his eyes from her face yet. See he haa 
passed the beauties in deep converse, and has not even 
seen them. Mrs. Dulwich will never forgive him. Rely 
upon it Lady Valentine will be the beauty of this season 
and next." 

" I do not think so," said Lady Balfour, critically ; "she 
does not look like the girl who would care even to be- 
come a beauty; unless I am mistaken, she wiU go in for 
love; those eloquent eyes and perfect lips mean some- 
thing more than love of admiration ; it strikes me that 
one of two things will happen to her, either she will love 
happily and marry soon, or she will love unhappily and 
not marry at alL" 

"I do not think she will love unhappily, if the duke be 
her choice," said the countess. 

Lady Valentine was quite unconscious of the /wror she 
was creating. It was the first grand ball she had ever at- 
tended, and her deHght was hardly to be imagined. 

She grew a little pale and grave when she found her- 
self the very center of observation, when the highest 
personages in England crowded round her, anxious to 
know her, to compliment her, to look at her peerless face. 
Something akin to distress came over her. What did it 
mean? All these courtly gentlemen with diamond stars 
bending so low before her. Then she quickly gained her 
natural dignity, and the duke, who never left her sidc^ 
%dmired her errace and beautilui manner, 



126 THE duke's secret. 

" You will remember," she said to him with the frank, 
free grace of a child, " that my first dance is to be with 

you." 

" Do you think I could forget it," he replied. 

'♦HI am awkward at first you wiU not mind, and if I 
make any mistake you will forgive me," she whispered, 
as they walked across the ball-room. 

"You could not be awkward, my dear Lady Valentine, 
if you tried," he said; " it is an impossibility; nature has 
made you aU grace." 

The Duke of Castlemayne, who hated balls, who laughed 
at dancing, who had never been seen to pay the least at- 
tention to any lady, was really dancing — more than that- 
waltzing with the youngest and loveliest girl in the room. 

" My ball will be remembered if it were only for this," 
said Lady Balfour, with a sigh of unutterable content. 

The duke, too, had cause to remember that ball. The 
white arms, the dehcate, dainty hands, that seemed to 
touch him with Ungering affection. 

" My first dance with a gentleman," she said, " and I 
have enjoyed it. It is much nicer than dancing with 
girls." 

" Most probably," said the duke, dryly. 

" And now," she continued, looking up at him with her 
lovely, appealing eyes, " tell me, do I make any great mis- 
takes. " 

" Mistakes, no ; your dancing is perfect," he said. " I 
was going to say you danced like an angel, but angels do 
not dance. I must say this, that you waltz as beautifully 
and correctly as though you had been to balls every night 
of your life." 

" You really mean that ?" she questioned, anxiously. 

" I should not say it unless I did," replied the duke, 
gently. 

" Then I am quite happy. Prince G has asked me 

to dance with him ; you think I may venture ?" 

" I think the prince is a very fortunate man," was the 
envious reply. 

The girl's lovely face was pale and earnest as she looked 
at him. 

" I would rather dance with you, San Sebastian," she 
saia, " neither prince, king, nor emperor can danc« lik« 
yoii, I am sure." 



THE duke's SECEEgp. 1:27 

He smiled at the naive, simple words. 

" The dear child," he said to himself; " how simple she 
is to tell me so." 

" Show me your tablet," he said. 

She obeyed him in one moment. He looked down the 
pretty piece of ivory, jeweled and engraved, and there saw 
the best names in England. 

* You have three waltzes to spsure," he said; "may I 
have them?" 

" You may have just what you like," she said, simply. 
*' I would rather dance with you than any one else in the 
world through." 

"But you can not break your engagements. Lady Val- 
entine," he said. 

" Can I not ? You know best. I hardly call it an 
engagement, when a prince with hardly a word, writes 
down his name as though one ought to be pleased with 
the honor." 

" Most people would be very pleased," he said. 

She only repeated. 

" I would far rather dance with you." 

But in a few minutes the prince came to claim his own* 

The success of Lady Valentine Arden could be told 
best by the faces of the rival beauties; meeting again in 
the supper-room they exchanged confidences. 

"I told you," said Mrs. Dulwich, "I knew exactly how 
it would be. I foresaw it the moment she entered the 
room." 

"There is nothing in it. I have not the least fear," 
said Mrs. Trelawney: "I have been dancing with Prince 

G , and I assure you that he is far from being charmed 

with her." 

" He danced with her three times," said Mrs. Dulwich. 

"Yes; but he told me that during his last waltz he 
spoke to her three times and she never answered him. 
Then he found that she was watching the Duke of Castle- 
may ne and that her sole anxiety was not for him, but for 
the lady with whom the duke was dancing. Then- -I am 
almost afraid to repeat it, lest it should not be true — but 
she told some one else that she thought stout people 
should not dance. The loveliest face in the wide world 
oould not get over such gaucherie as that." 



128 THE duke's sbgbbt. 

Mrs. Dulwich looked much relieved. 

" There is nothing to fear if she be really in love," bIm 
said, " and it seems to me that she is in love with his 
grace. I have never known any girl really in love to 
make any success," 

" Nor I," said Mrs. Trelawney. " I can answer for the 
prince, and he leads many others. He will never rave 
about her." 

Yet, in spite of the prince's opinion, in spite of the few 
unfortunate truths she had uttered, which would have 
been much better left unspoken, she won golden opinions. 
She woke the next morning to find herself famous, to find 
all the fashionable journals in raptures, to find the duchess 
with a pleasant smile on her handsome face ready to con- 
gratulate her. 

The duke never forgot the ball. It was almost ended 
when he saw that the beautiful young face looked tired. 
He went to her at once. 

" Would you like the carriage, Lady Valentine ? " he 
asked. 

" Yes, very much," she repHed ; and when they were 
driving home she seemed so bright, so happy, so full ot 
spirits, he said to her: 

" I thought you were tired." 

" Tired!" she repeated. *' Oh, no, not in the least 1" 

"Then what made you look so?" he asked. 

" Did I look tired ? I was not. You were talking to a lady 
with dark hair, who wore an amber dress, who is she ?" 

" An amber dress ? You mean Lady Saldore ; she is half 
Spaniard, as you would know bv the rose in her hair." 

" Is she married ?" asked Lady Valentine, 

" Yes, married, and has several children," he replied. 

"It was a most delightful ball," she said, with a sigh 
of unutterable content, "and I was not in the least tired; 
but I thought you had a great deal to say to that lady. 
How bright the stars are ! I wonder how often they have 
looked down on a girl with her heart full of happiness 
driving home from her first ball." 

" I hope your heart will be full of happiness whenever 
they look down on you," he said. 

Her words rang strangely in his ears all night. Was 
it true, after all, tibat what we miss in earth we shall find 
in heaven ? 



THE duke's secbet. 129 

j&jad where was Naomi — his lost wife, and Mb son ? 

CHAPTEE XVnL 

"you must come with MJt" 

The Duchess of Castlemayne was lookiag through the 
list of amusements, and to her delight found that ever- 
yormg and ever-beautiful Patti was to appear that even- 
ing in her favorite character of . She looked up 

hastily. 

" Lp^dy Valentine you have often expressed a wish to 
hear Patti; she is singing to-night—will you go to the 
opera ? " 

Lady Valentine, without one moment's hesitation turned 
to the dvike : 

" Shall you go ?" she said, simply. 

" I am afraid not; I have an engagement this evening," 
he repUed. 

Quite serenely, calmly, and as though it was a matter 
of course, she said: 

" Then I shall wait until you can go.* 

!iL'he duchess looked up qiuckly. 

" I will go with you, of course. Do you think I would 
let you go alone, Lady Valentine ?" 

" But we shall not enjoy it without the duke," she re- 
peated; " if he is engaged to-night, let us go to-morrow 
evening." 

" To-morrow night Patti does not sing," said the duch- 
ess, briefly. 

This state of things slightly embarrassed her. If Lady 
Valentine wanted the duke to go anywhere with her, she 
would find out his unwillingness to do so, and his distastes 
for the society of ladies in general. Indeed she had mar- 
veled greatly that he had been so amiable, so completely 
at ease, and so much at home with their young guest. 
She was amused now when Lady Valentine turned to him 
with an air of persuasion on her charming face. 

" San Sebastian, where are you going this evening ? 
What is your engagement? How deep is it, and is it 
possible to give up?" 

He laughed. 

" I promised Lord Hursthelm to see him at the dub iO" 
night," he repHed. 



180 *HE duke's SEOREir. 

" For any ^special reason ? " she asked. 

" Yes, to play billiards with him. I have always been 
proud of my own style, but they say he surpasses me, and 
I want to know if it is true." 

" That is not what you would call a very important en- 
gagement, is it ? " 

" No, not very," he rephed. 

" I will tell you what you must do ; write to him a very 
nice, kind note, and say that, owing to unf orseen circum- 
etances, you can not conveniently keep your engagement 
for to-night, but will defer it till to-morrow." 

" Do you really wish me to do that ? " he asked, bend- 
ing down so as to read clearly the expression of the beau- 
tiful face. 

" Certainly I do. I long to go to the opera, I long 
■with all my heart to hear Patti, but I can not say that I 
should really enjoy either unless you were there." 

The duke looked at his mother. She looked at him. 
No child could have spoken more frankly, more candidly, 
more simply ; yet, for a young lady to speak in such a 
fashion, to oHe who was the most eligible man in England, 
was certainly embarrassing. 

" I should feel inclined to break any engagement in the 
world after that," said the duke. " Most certainly I shall 
go with you." 

The duchess laughed, but there was some little embar- 
rassment in her laugh. 

" It is a very good thing," continued Lady Valentine, 
naively, "that I did not find you a little boy, San Sebas- 
tian, or you would not have been able to take me out 
anywhere. I can not think why papa always spoke of you 
as the duchess's boy." 

" Probably because when I wrote to him I used the same 
term," interrupted the duchess; "and oeicg always ill, 
he has in some measure forgot the lapse of time." 

" I am very glad it was otherwise," said Lady Valentine; 
"I am glad also that you are going with us — I do not see 
how it is possible to enjoy anything alone." 

"But, my dear Valentine," interrupted the duchess, 
"you forget that I should in any case be there." 

"No," said Lady Valentine, naively, "T do not forget." 

The duchess was very thoughtful for some little time 
Itfter that conversation. It was evident to her that Ladj 



THE DTTKE's SECBET. lU 

Valentine liked the diike very much — that she was, after 
her own particular fashion, growing attached to him — 
that she did not like to be parted from him even for a 
few hours. It did not occur to the duchess that the bril- 
liant young beauty was in love with her son ; she thought 
it the plainly expressed, frank liking of a girl for the 
society of the most pleasant and handsomest man in 
England. If she had known that it was anything like 
love she would been more alarmed. 

Every one knows what a " Patti " night is like at the 
Eoyal Italian Opera ; this one was even more brilliant 
than usual. 

Looking round at the galaxy of beauty, at the blaze of 
magnificence and splendor. Lady Valentine was startled 
out of her usual calm. She was quite unconscious that a 
thrill of admiration went through the house when she 
took her place ; she was not thinking of herself at all ; 
aU her thoughts and interests were given to the duke by 
her side ; that among all these beautiful women sh« 
should be considered the most beautiful never occurred 
to her. 

" How beautiful Patti is ! " cried Lady Valentine, when 
the star of the evening made her appearance ; " what a 
bright, sparkling, animated face — and what a voice I " 

It was the first time in her life that she had any chance 
of hearing real music, and she was simply entranced. 
The duke watched her. How the color came and went 
on her face, how her beautiful eyes seemed to drink in 
the whole scene. She little knew, and would have cared 
less to know, that by this time dozens of jeweled opera- 
glasses were leveled at her, and the question that went 
from one to another was : 

" Who is that beautiful girl in the Duchess of Castle- 
majjie's box ? " and the answer, " Lady Valentine Arden," 
always brought the same remark. " She will be the belle 
of the season." 

The duke was both charmed and amused when she said 
suddenly : 

" Why are so many people looking at this box ?" 

"I should imagine it is a compliment to the duchess's 
diamonds," he replied; and she quite believed him. 

' ' Now I know what sweet sounds mean," she said. " I 
should like to com© very often to the opera, but you must 



132 THE duke's secret. 

come with me; although I love music, I should not like 
this alone. The most beautiful thing in this world is 
doubly beautiful when it is shared by one we like." 

" I quite agree with you there," he repHed. 

The situation was growing piquant. It was quite new 
for him to hear such frank outspoken words of liking. 

CHAPTER XIX. 

THE duke's first PRESENT. 

" What book is that I hear you asking about?" said the 
Duke of Castlemayne to Lady Valentine. 

" One I have heard of, read of, but have never seen," she 
replied. " The four German stories written by Fougue. 
and bound up together. One of them — the one I wish so 
much to read — is called 'Undine.' You must know the 
story," she continued. " Undine is a water spirit whose 
soul does not come to her until she falls in love, and then 
a beautiful poet's soul is born within her. Before that tima 
she had never suffered, neither had she enjoj'ed; now the 
suffering and happiness come together." 

" What becomes of your beautiful Undine ? " he asked, 
watching the play of her lovely face with unconcealed 
deUght. " She marries her hero, and he grows cold to 
her after a time. Then her relations, the water spirits, 
begin to punish him, and to save him from their persecu- 
tions she goes back to him. This is only the merest 
sketch of the beautiful story that I am giving to you. Af- 
ter a time, finding that he loves her no more, she goes 
back to the water spirits, and he marries again. Then 
comes the most beautiful and pathetic part of the story. 
By the laws of spirit-land she is compelled to punish him 
for that. There is a beautiful fountain in the old court- 
yard, which Undine ordered to be closed, but which her 
rival. Bertha, has opened." 

" It seems to me," interrupted the duke, " that you have, 
read this book." 

" No; I have only heard the story told, and I saw a pic- 
ture — ah, me I I shall never forgfet it — a picture of the 
beautiful fountain in the old court-yard. Such a picture! 1 
have stood breathless before it. The Gothic arches and 
superb carvings of the court, the tall, white fountain in the 
loiddle, m^ the group of serrauts and workn^eu watching 



THE duke's secret. ' IBS 

in wonder. At first when the fountain is imsealed, and 
the stone raised from it, the silver spray rises high in the 
air; then gradually, to the wonder and teiTor of the 
beholders, this spray assumes the figure of a woman, and 
they know her at last for the lost mistress for whom they 
all mourn, She walks through the long corridors, weep- 
ing and wringing her hands, she goes to the door of the 
room where her husband sleeps and calls for him; with 
her ice-cold fingers she touches his heart; and the last 
seen of her she goes back to the fountain, and all that is 
heard is the falling spray, which, as it falls, seems to sigh 
like a dying woman ! Is it not a beautiful legend?" 

"Most beautiful," says the duke. " You shall have the 
book to-morrow. Your legend reminds me of my favorite 
'Pygmalion and Galatea.' Have you seen it? But of 
course not — you have had no opportunity of going to 
English theaters. The most mournful cry that I have heard 
in my life was that of Galatea when she returns to her 
marble life. She calls Pygmalion, but it is in a tone so 
mournful that it made my blood run cold. The voice dies 
and dies, until the last faint sound on the marble lips 
seems to freeze on them." 

" I shouW like to see it," 

" I must ask my mother if she can arrange it — it will be 
played next week." 

" You will go ?" she cried, with her usual impetuosity 

" Certainly, if you wish it," he repUed, laughingly. The 
words had become quite a formula with him now. 

So, day by day, they were di-awn together by a hundred 
similar conversations ; so much was new to Lady Valentine 
in this fresh life, there were so many things she could not 
understand, there was so much that puzzled her and ex- 
cited not only her wonder but her contempt, and in all 
these social difficulties it was her dainty will and pleasure 
to consult him ; she seldom went to the duchess with any 
questions. So it came to pass that when she had been at 
Rood House for a short time, she was quite as much at 
home as either the duke or duchess ; she was never afraid 
to make her way to the boudoir of the duchess, or to the 
study of the duke, and she was equally welcome in hnih 
places. Had she been a daughter of the house she could 
not have been more completely at home. 

The duke was amused vf hen on the day after theix 



134 THE duke's secbxt. 

conversation he took Fougue's "Book of Stories" to 
her. 

" Here is ' Undine/ " he said, and her lovely face flushed 
with pleasure. 

" How shall I thank you ? she said. " How kind of you 
to give me this happiness." 

He had been fortunate enough to find a superbly illusv 
trated edition, and her genuine deUght in it — just the 
delight of a child with a new book — amused him very 
much. She raised her fair head from the pages, and said : 

" You have given it to me then ? It is my own ?" 

"Certainly," he said. " You will honor me very much 
by accepting it," 

The color rose to her face when she bent down and 
kissed the pretty cover. For a moment he seemed hali 
incUned to lay his hand on the fair-haired head; then, re^ 
membering, he drew back suddenly. She kissed the 
pretty binding. 

"I shall always love this book," she said, "because it is 
your first present to me. I will never part with it. Now, 
come here to my desk, and write my name inside it. I 
am curious to see what you will write. You must say — 
why, what is your Christian name ? I have never thought 
to ask you." 

" My name is Bertrand," he replied, " not Bertrond — 
my mother is very particular about the spelling of it." 

He took the book, and opening it, dipped his pen in the 
ink-stand to write something. She leaned over his 
shoulder. 

" I wonder what you will write," she cried, laughingly; 
** in every book meanifc as a present that I have seen, it is 

written, ' From , to his sincere friend,' or something 

of that kind; it will be very stifif and formal if you write. 
From his Grace the Duke of Castlemayne to the Lady 
Valentine Arden.' " 

"I wiU do something bolder than that," he cried; "J 
wiU write simply, * From Bertrand to Valentine.' Will 
that displease-you? " 

" No," she answered, laughingly; "I think they are 
very nice names, and I like the look of them together." 

It was some days afterward that the duchess said : 

" How fond you are of that green and gold book, Lady 
Valentine I" 



THE duke's secret. 135 

•*!!: was the duke's first present to me," she replied. 

" And is that the reason why you like it so well ? " 

" Certainly, I should like anything that the duke gave 
me, because I Hke him," was the candid reply ; and then 
her Grace of Castlemayne began to look into matters. It 
seemed to her that matters were growing serious. Hero 
was this beautiful young ward of hers openly professing 
the most fervent liking for her son — surely she was not 
in love with him. The duchess felt that would be a 
combination of circumstances she could not control. But 
surely the effect was too honestly expressed to be love. 

" I should have much more to trouble about," she said 
to herself, reassuringly, "if she shut herself up in her 
room to dream about him, was shy when he spoke to her, 
if she avoided him, or blushed when near him. She is 
frank, as though she were his own sister, seeks his opin- 
ions and society, embraces his ideas just as though she 
had lived with him all her life. I need not feel uneasy 
about her." 

Yet she could not feel quite happy. If such a misfor- 
tune should happen as that this girl confided to her care 
should love her son, and love him hopelessly, she would 
never forgive herself. There was certainly a more cheer- 
ful way of looking at it, and that was the duke might 
love her in return ; but she could hardly hope for that ; 
that he who had resisted the fascinations and charms of 
the finest and most beautiful and popular women in Eng- 
land, for twelve long years, should in a few weeks fall 
hopelessly captive before a young girl seemed quite im- 
possible. She would have been only too delighted, had 
she thought the duke should share the girl's sentiments ; 
but watching him narrowly, she could detect no sign of 
love in him. He was charmed, delighted, frankly pleased, 
happy in her society ; but " in love," said the stately 
duchess to herself, with a shake of her head, " in love my 
son will never be." 

If she had but known of that love of his long years ago, 
•which her imperious pride had trampled under foot ; if 
she could have seen him then, haunted by one fair face, 
following Naomi like a shadow, waiting whole hoTirs for 
one glimpse of her, loving her so passionately that ha 
forgot everything on earth save her ; if she had known 
tlu9 — how he had clasped that beautiful young wife in his 



186 J^HE liuiiJfi'S SEGBET. 

arms and had sworn that nothing should ever part them 
— how madly, wildly, passionately he had loved her, she 
would have been astonished. 

And he had lost this beautiful, loving wife, simply be- 
cause he had not liked to face his mother's anger or out^ 
rage her sensitive pride. 

Where is the duke ? Will he be long ? Has he been 
long away ? Will he go out with us ? Will he stay at 
home with us ? This kind of questions were on her hpa 
a hundred times a day. 

Once the duchess did venture a very slight remoBM 
strance. 

" My dear Lady Valentine," she said, ** we must, I 
think, make our arrangements quite independent of the 
duke. Gentlemen have so many •ngagements of their 
own that we must depend more upon ourselves. 

" But," she cried, eagerly, " he likes to go with us — ^he 
is happiest with us." 

" I know that — I am quite sure of that, yet I think we 
must be more independent. He can not go with us 
always, y o u know. Yesterday you lost your drive through 
waiting for him." 

"Yes, I know; but, duchess, I would far rather wait 
for him and still lose it than go without him." 

" My dear Lady Valentine !" cried her Grace of Castle- 
mayne. 

" It is quite true. When the duke goes with us the 
sun shines more bright and the air is sweeter, everything 
looks brighter, the world hardly seems to be the same 
place. Do you not find it so ?" 

" No," rephed the duchess, dryly, " I can not say that I 
do." But a sword seems to pierce her heart as she re- 
membered the time when the presence of one made earth 
fairer and heaven brighter. 

CHAPTER XX. 

LADY VALENTINE WAKNED. 

So matters went on for the next few days, the duches8 
growing more and more uneasy, yet hoping against hope 
that she was wrong in her fancies, or that her son would 
imitate Lady Valentine. In the meantime no news came 
for the duke. He heard constantly from Mr. Buskyn, b<| 



THE DCXE S SEOKEl'. 137 

heard from the detective, but they had nothing to tell 
him; the hope of hearing anything about Naomi must 
have forsaken them, for even he began to look upon it as 
a chimera. 

But for this tie that he had so lightly contracted in his 
youth, and even more lightly flung aside, but for this he 
might now win and woo the beautiful young girl who 
was not in the least degree shy of showing her liking 
for his society. It so happened that the rival families 
met at a ball given by the French embassador. Lady 
Everleigh, with her two daughters and son was present. 
They were in high glee, for Lady Everleigh had suc- 
ceeded in one of the great desires of her life. Blanche was 
engaged, and considering that she had no great fortune, 
she had secured one of the best partis of the day, Lord 
Beaucan, a handsome and wealthy young nobleman, who 
might, so the world said, have ** done much better." He 
was seriously and gravely in love with the fair Miss 
Blanche ; and as all true lovers should do, he believed 
her to be the most beautiful of women, and he was very 
anxious that the marriage should take place as soon as 
possible. 

It was very delightful for Lady Everleigh to be able to 
tell all her friends how very anxious she was, " for really 
dear Lord Beaucan was so impatient, and wanted such 
impossible things done, that she had a really mad time of 
it," and with the usual sinceiity of the world, her thou- 
sand and one friends listened with kindly, sympathizing 
smiles, and went away, saying how very absurd Lady 
Everleigh made herself, as though no one had had a 
daughter married before. 

At the embassador's ball Lady Everleigh was in great 
triumph ; Blanche, with her young lord lover, attracted 
great notice ; and Hilda, as the sister of the future Lady 
Beaucan, was very popular. So many eUgible men sur- 
rounded her that her mother foresaw a series of triumphs 
for her, ending in a suitable marriage. She had abandoned 
all idea of having the duke for a son-in-law ; he had not 
followed up his short phase of attention to her daughter, 
and she heard that he was to be seen everywhere with 
Lady Valentine. If her daughters married well, the suc- 
cession of her son to the dukedom of Castlemayne was 
Act of such vital importance. She felt just easy enough 



138 TflE duke's secbbt. 

about it to enable her to be more at ease than e^ef With 
her stately rival, the Duchess of Castlemayne. 

The duke was dancing with Lady Valentine when the 
two ladies met, and in the great world, no matter how 
much people dislike or even hate each other, they meet 
with smiles and bows, and extended hands, each hating 
the other in her heart. 

"I have to congratulate you," says the duchess, in her 
most stately and gracious fashion ; " Miss Blanche Ever- 
leigh is most fortunate." 

There was a veiled sneer in the words ; whether she 
meant them or not, Lady Everleigh was quick enough to 
feel them. 

" You are very kind, duchess. I think Lord Beaucan a 
very fortunate man, and so the world in general evidently 
thinks him. Pray may I offer my congratulations?" 
and she looked with a brighter smUe at the handsome 
duke and his partner. 

The Duchess of Castlemayne would have given her title, , 
her fortune, and everything that she held most dear, for ■ 
the power to say, " Yes," and so crushing forever the pre- • 
sumptuous hopes of the two women she detested. But; 
truth compelled her to speak plainly. 

" I am not aware of any cause for congratulation," shen 
said, " unless you mean in the beauty of my ward." 

Lady Everleigh laughed. 

" No, I do not mean that," she said, " but there is » 
rumor going about that at last the duke has f oimd hia 
ideal." 

"I never listen to rumor " 3aid her grace. 

She had not patience *x» Day more. In the brilliant eyes 
of her rival she r.ecegnized a fresh security that the duke 
would never marry — come what might. 

The ball was a very successful one. The great rival 
beauties, Mrs. Trelawney and Mrs. Dulwich, with a host 
of admirers, were there. During one of his unoccupied 
moments, the duke amused himself by contrasting the 
rival beauties with Lady Valentine. There could be no 
comparison, he said to himself, even so far as natural 
beauty went. She excelled them, whUe her simple, grace- 
ful, earnest manner surpassed theirs as a natural woman 
always surpasses an artificial one. 

If Lady Valentine could have condescended to try to 



THE duke's SICBIT 139 

eharm, to try to fascinate, if she had taken the least pride 
in a legion of admirers, she would have far surpassed all 
the beautiea As it was, she cared but to please one — and 
in that she thoroughly succeeded. 

His heart warmed to her as he looked at her. But for 
this tie which bound him, as it were, to a shadow, but for 
this the sweet eyes should not brighten, nor the sweet face 
flush in vain for him. 

It was late in the evening when the duchess went to 
Jjady Valentine, and under the pretense of wishing to in- 
troduce her to some one, said: 

" Give me five minutes, Lady Valentine, that is, if your 
partner will allow it" 

" My partner must do as I please," was the reply, " and 
I please to be with you." 

They walked through the baU-room to one of the pretty 
drawing-rooms set apart for tete-a-tetes of different kinds. 

"I want to say something to you. Lady Valentine. Of 
course I should never dream of interfering with you in the 
matter of making friends; you have so much good sense 
titat I may safely leave it with you; but I do not wish you 
to associate with Lady Everleigh or any of her family." 

ijady Valentine raised her beautiful eyes in wonder. 
It was the first time the duchess had adopted that tone 
with her. 

" Slie seemed a very nice, bright woman," she replied, 
half hesitating as to whether she should rebel against both 
the wordd and the tone of the voice. 

" I say nothing against her," said the duchess, coolly; 
" I do not *;ven dictate ; I say simply that I have cause to 
dislike her, aijd I should be best pleased if you avoided 
her. Neither my son or myself see her when we can 
•void it" 

The whole expression of the girls face changed when the 
duchess uttered that magical name. 

"Does not he lik«9 her?" she cried. 

There was but one " He " in the world for Lady Val- 
entine. 

"My son like her," said the duchess. " Oh, no; and I 
will teU you why — it will be best for you to know all about 
it If my son dies unmarried, Lady Everleigli's son 
Arthur, the fair young man over there; talking tp the Qior 



140 THB DUKB^S SECBBT. 

bassador, will succeed him — will be Duke of Castlemayne 
in his place." 

Lady Valentine was quite silent for some minutes, and 
the duchess looked in wonder at the many expressions 
which came over her face — wonder, bewilderment — while 
the beautiful lips parted and the violet eyes filled with sur- 
prise. 

" But your son, the duke, will marry," she said. " Why 
are you afraid of that ?" 

" Ah, my dear Valentine," said her grace, "if I could 
but hope that I should be quite happy." 

"Why not?" she asked, with some surprise. "Why 
should you think that your son should not marry; there is 
nothing to prevent him, is there ?" 

"Nothing but his own obstinacy," said the duchess. 
" That has been my trouble for many years ; he would 
never hear of marrying. I have talked about it time after 
time; it ends always in the same way — he listens, seems 
to be impressed, and promises that he will see his lawyer. 
Now what can seeing his lawyer do ; it would be much 
more to the purpose if he would see some nice girl and 
love her." 

Lady Valentine laughed. 

" You are quite right. What an idea to see his lawyer, 
the last person on earth I can imagine any one wanting to 
see. Yet, duchess, I can not see why this should make you 
dislike Lady Everleigh." 

" It is not from the fact that I dislike, but because she 
triumphs over me," said the duchess. She can not wait 
imtil the time comes when she may reasonably triumph ; 
she takes all kinds of airs and graces on herself, she talks 
quite freely of the time when the Castlemayne title and 
estate will be her son's." 

" Then she is a very wicked woman," cried Lady Valen- 
tine. " Why, what nonsense it is ; that son of hers must 
be the same age as the duke, is he not ?" 

" There is but six years difference between them," re- 
plied her grace. 

" What nonsense ; why, the duke may 'outlive him by 
fifty years — I hope he will." 

" Still, if he will not marry, his living so long will avail 
but little," said the duchess, with a sigh. " If Arthur Ever- 
leigh does »ot succeed him. some one else will, although J 



THE duke's secret. l4i 

grant that no other man could be so distasteful to me as 
this woman's son." 

" But, duchess, your son will marry. Why not 7" 

" Ah, me, that is just the question — why not ? but he 
will not. For twelve years — in fact ever since he reached 
his twenty-first year — I am urging him to think of it. I 
am sure," continued her grace, " that I have introduced 
some of the lovehest women in England to him ; but it is 
all in vain." 

The beautiful young face grew somewhat pale and 
scared. 

" But why ? " she persisted. " Does he not like 
ladies ? " 

" One would think not," said his mother. " I may say 
that he has spent twelve years in avoiding them." 

" He has been very kind to me," said the girl, thought- 
fuUy. 

" Yes ; he has spent more time with you than aU the 
other ladies he kiiows put together," and the duchess 
looked wistfully ia the young face. 

" It seems very strange," said Lady Valentine, after a 
time ; " he has everything that life can give him. I am 
sure it must be easy for him to win love. Why does he 
not marry ? " 

" Alas ! " cried the duchess, " for twelve long years, 
morning, noon and night, I have asked myself the ques- 
tion — ' ^\Tiy does he not marry ? " But you will under- 
stand how very distasteful the sight of Lady Everleigh 
must be." 

" I shall talk to her no more," said Lady Valentine, and 
the duchess knew that in the young girl she had found a 
firm and true ally. 



CHAPTEB "g'^T. 
LOVE Ain> Musia 
Lady Valektinx could not forget that conversation- It 

seemed to her that the proud, haughty mother had bared 
the secret wound of her heart to her. Why should he 
not marry — why should he not marry? she would ask her- 
self. In the whole wide world there was no one so hand- 
some, so noble. He was like a king, his every action was 



1^ tBSt DVtE^B SECBtr. 

noble and grand, generous and princely. Why should bt 
not love and marry as other men did ? 

No wonder that one so young, so pure in heart and 
mind, so utterly unconventional, so inexperienced and 
ignorant of all life — no wonder that she should, without 
in the least knowing it, give her heart and her love unre- 
servedly to one like the duke. No wonder that the heart 
of the beautiful child went out to him, to be her own no 
more. It was quite unconsciously done ; she had not the 
faintest idea of it ; if any one had told her abruptly, she 
would either have laughed or have grown angry ; yet 
with all the truth, earnestness, and ardor of her soul, she 
loved him. 

She did not know it was love which made her long for 
his presence as the flowers longed for the sun; that made 
everything in his absence seem dark and dreary; that 
made the sound of his voice sweeter than any music to 
her ears; that made her tremble even if he touched her 
dress in passing by; that made her linger in the cerridor 
and galleries for one look at him, only one glimpse as he 
passed by; that made anything laelonging to him most 
dear to her; that caused her thoughts to concentrate 
themselves upon him so that the world outside him was 
nothing. She never dreamed that it was love. She was 
very fond of him, of the duchess, of her father, but that 
she was fonder of him in a different way, and far more 
than of any one else in the world, she never thought. 

She never dared to go anywhere without him; but 
that she explained to herself was because he was so kind, 
80 amusing; he knew everything and everybody. She 
was in perfect ignorance of her own state of mind, and 
she would never have found it out but for the conver- 
sation of the duchess. 

"Why should he not marry?" From that momentous 
question her thoughts went to another. " Suppose he did 
marry and brought his wife home to Rood House, as he 
must do, how would she like that?" Her face flushed 
hotly. "I hope he will not marry," she cried, impetu- 
ously. " I am sure I should not like to see a young duch- 
ess here." As yet her thoughts did not reach so far as 
that he should marry her. She was anxious for the first 
time since she had been at Rood House. She could un- 
derstand and sympathize with the duchess's great wisb 



VHB duke's secret. 143 

that her son should marry. She could understand how 
distasteful it was to her to hear the comments of Lady 
Everleigh, but she did not like to think of the duke as a 
married man. He could not go out with her then, he 
would have to take his wife, and she would be left with 
the duchess. Was it the prospect of being left with the 
duchess that made her beautiful lips quiver and her eyea 
fill with tears ? She was standing at the drawing-room 
window, from where she could see the park. Suddenly a 
kindly hand was laid on her shoulder. 

"Lady Valentine," said the duke, "that is the first sad 
look I have seen on your face since you came to us; now 
you must tell me what has brought it there." 

He had a charm of manner that was quite irresistable*, 
if fie said must, the person spoken to seemed to have no 
chance save to do just what be said — a charm that fascin- 
ated every one — the true, kindly eyes looked l^rough in- 
to the heart and soul, the beautiful mouth had a genial, 
kindly smile. 

" You must tell me what has brought it there, so that I 
may send it away," 

She was truth itself, but the maidenly instincts in her 
■could not let her say, " I was wondering what I should do 
if you were to marry." She turned from him abruptly, 
although the caressing touch of his hand filled her witii 
happiness. 

" I can not tell you," she replied; " if I could, I should 
ai once. Come to the piano, and let us have some music." 

"Wondering at her manner, for she had always seemed 
8o pleased to talk to him, he followed her. She took up 
some new^ songs at random. 

" Sing this to me," she said, quickly. 

She might have paused, perhaps, had she read the 
beautiful words first — words written by a true singer — t 
pretty, pathetic baUad, called " Recompense." 

** One flower alone, of &11 the flowers, 

Sweet with the summer sunlit showers ; 

One fair queen-blossom on the tree 

Was more than all the rest to me. 

\ 
*• And one proud face was passing fair. 

One face alone beyond compare. 

It was, alas ! as lovers know 

Ifj heart of hearts that told me bo. 



i 



144 THE duke's secket. 

*' The wind crept down the garden walk 
And stole my blossom from the stalk. 
My passion met with her disdain, 
I loyed her, and I loved in vain. 

" And so I gave — the world was wide— 
Scorn for her scorn, and pride for pride. 
And still, alas ! I found that she 
Was more than all the world to me." 

** Do you like that ? " he asked, as he watched the white 
lingers moving over the keys. 

She did not turn to him as usual with gay, bright com- 
ments on his singing. Her eyes were bent upon the 
keys. 

"Yes, I like it; it is both sweet and sad. I suppose 
that in this life every one mourns over a stolen rose. 
Sing another." 

He took up the music. 

"Perhaps," he said, "you will Hke this better. It ia 
«alled 'Final Faith.'" 

** *0h, sweet and bitter, sad and tru^ 
I love you still and only you. 
Betrayed, forsaken, it is strange 
Love is love and can not ohanga. 

** * Oh, fond and fickle, false and fair. 
Do you recall the days that were ? 
And think of these without a thrill 
Of pain, for one who loves you still f 

•* *0h, last and first, the song of love 
Are full of faith on lips above. 
And having loved you is it strange 
I love you still and cannot change ? "* 

He asked no question when he had finished, but looked 
into the beautiful drooping face. The silence confused 
her; she would have said anything rather than it should 
have lasted. 

" I wonder why so many songs are written about love ? " 
she said ; and then she bethought herself that this was 
the last topic she ought to have chosen. He smiled at the 
naive remark. 

"Love, poetry, and music are closely allied," he re- 
plied ; " still I do not know why so many songs are 



THE DUKE D SEOBBT. 145 

about love. It is perhaps the most beautiful and musi- 
cal topic in itself." 

" I like sea-songs, like Dibdin's, or grand old martial 
ballads best," she said, dreamingly. 

" Do you ? I like the fine old baUads too. Shall I sing 
one for you ? I perceive that to-day you are far more 
inclined to listen than to sing." 

" It is quite true, but how do you know it ? " she 
asked. 

" By the expression of your face. Lady Valentine," he 
answered. 

'* I did not know that you could read my face so well," 
she said. 

And then he sang for her one of those grand old border 
ballads full of fire and pathos. She listened until the tears 
filled her eyes, then she laughed at her own dilemma. She 
was playing the accompaniment. What should she do if 
tears fell with a great splash on the ivory keys? Why 
were tears there at all ? 

"That is better than singing all about love," she said. 
" I like a little of love and plenty of war. That is the best 
mixture for a song. Martial music makes my heart beat" 

The duke looked at her with a kindly smile. 

" Your heart will beat with something else besides war 
▼ery soon," he said. 

But she turned from him, and would hear no more. 

CHAPTER XXn. 

THB DUOHESS PBA7S. 

Nature had been very good to Lady Valentine; besides 
giving her a beautiful face and figure, she had given her 
one of the sweetest voices ever heard. The duke, who was 
passionately fond of music, was delighted with it; his favo- 
rite method of passing time was to persuade Lady Valen- 
tine to play and sing while he listened. She had a grand 
voice; her whole soul and being seemed possessed of great 
dramatic force and power. The duchess, who was a pretty 
good judge of human nature, often said to herself that ii 
Lady Valentine Arden had not been a peer's daughter, she 
would have been the finest lyric singer of the day ; her 
whole soul went into her songs, and some of them were 
very sweet. 



146 THE duke's SECBET. 

The young duke liked to lie back with closed eyes, and 
listen to this sweet flood of melody as it floated round 
him. 

" Have I sung you to sleep ?" she asked one day, when 
she had finished the most beautiful of her songs, " "Will 
he Come?" 

But when he opened his eyes to look at her she saw 
that they were full of tears. What vision had come before 
him as the sweet, sad words fell on his ear, of the fair 
young face, so bright with love and happiness — of that 
same face the day after, when she had turned to him with 
that agonized cry: "Lord St. Albans, I appeal to you." 
Ah, if he had but answered her — if he had but stretched 
out his hands to hold the hands he should touch no more. 
But he had not spoken, and she was lost to him for ever- 
more. 

If he could see her for five minutes — if he might only 
tell her that he had not meant it, that it was a mistake; 
he had intended to take care of her. But never more in 
this world should he be able to explain to her. No 
wonder that his eyes filled with tears, and that when 
Lady Valentine saw his emotion she thought it was her 
singing which had brought it there. 

She laid her kindly hand in his, 

" You have tears in your eyes, duke," she said, " and I 
do not hke to see them there. What brings them there ?" 

She thought to herself as she looked at him how hand- 
some he was, and she wondered why he was so sad ; what 
was it that shadowed the laughing eyes and had deepened 
the lines of the beautiful mouth ? He was unlike other 
men ; he seemed to have a secret in his life ; his thoughts 
were always absorbed in something. Had he a secret ? 
He was young, handsome, wealthy ; she could not think 
of a flaw in the gem of his life ; but as she had seen the 
tears in his eyes, some cause or other must have brought 
them there. 

She was so artless, so frank, so innocent ; know it or 
not, she loved the young duke with all her heart She 
laid her hand on his, and said : 

" I wish you would tell me what brought those tears to 
your eyes." 

"Tell you?" he repeated, looking at her in wonder— 
** Jell you, Valentine?" 



tn DTTKE*S SECBST. 147 

" Yes — no — ^Valentine. I want to know what is wrong 
with you, and what it is you think about when you look 
so sad. Who is in your mind ? Ah, I wish you would 
trust me ! Tell me all about yourself ; then I should 
know ; I should understand." 

He looked at her in wonder ; until now be had thought 
of her as a child, placed under her mother's care ; now it 
dawned across him that she was a beautiful, charming girl. 
How her eyes brightened and her fair face flushed as she 
looked at him ! 

He looked confused, agitated, and answered quickly : 

" I would trust you with anything. You are like a 
sister to me." 

"A sister," she repeated, in a tone of voice that showed 
very plainly she did not like the word. " A sister, duke ? 
And if you had had one, should you have loved her 
very much?" 

"Very much, indeed, Valentine," he replied. 

" As much as you love me ?" she asked, with that pretty 
charming manner no one covdd resist. " Better than me, 
perhaps," she added. 

He was just a httle puzzled to answer the question. 

" I do not think," he said, " that I could love any sister 
more than you," yet he was half frightened as he said it. 

The sweet bright face laughed into his. 

"I am so glad," she said; "for I have seen no one I like 
as well as you." 

She sat down by his chair, and began to talk to him. 
In another it would have looked like coquetry or like 
forwardness; in her it looked just as it was — simple, 
girlish, natural affection ; from that time she would 
always sing to him in the gloaming; she chose the sweetest 
and saddest of songs, and when they were ended she 
would go and sit by him with all the artless affection and 
vivacity of a child. It happened more than once that the 
duchess, seeing them, had smiled significantly, and the 
duke had seen the smile. 

It roused him ; a smile like that on his mother's face 
meant something now. If she thought there was any 
nonsense or flirtation between him and this child she was 
tnistaken. 

So, for a day or two, he stood on more ceremony with 
her, and when the fresh, sweet voice asked ; " Duke, ar« 



148 THE duke's secrst. 

you coining?" "Are you going with me?" "Will 
you read to me ? " he had always some excuse, some en- 
gagement, some appointment, until the fair face gr©^ 
sad. She went to him one day, and said : 

" Have I vexed or displeased you ? You are so changed 
in your manner to me. " 

" You have done neither," he replied. 

"You are quite sure — honor bright," as the children 
were wont to say. 

'' Honor bright," he answered, with a laugh. " Why 
should I be vexed or angry with you, who are always 
kind and sweet to me ? " 

" That is just what I could not understand," she replied. 
" Then, if neither vexed nor angry, why should you be so 
cold and distant ? " 

" I do not think that I have been either," he said. 

" You have been both, duke ; and when you are in 
those moods I feel as the world must feel when the sun- 
light has gone from it. If you are neither vexed, angry, 
cold nor distant, why have you not been out with me as 
usual?" 

"I have been busy," he said. 

" Then, to prove that it is all right, will you take us to 
Lady Prescott's to-night — she has a large daucing-party ? 
We went to Craig House last evening, but without you 
it was too duU." 

" Without me. Why, Lady Valentine, what difference 
in the world should I make ?" 

" Just all the difference in the world to me," she said, 
simply. "There are only two places to me in this world 
— where you are and where you are not." She spoke so 
calmly and so simply that he could not misunderstand 
her words. " You know," she continues, with the same 
kind, frank, girlish mauner, " how much I enjoy waltz- 
ing ; but I almost made up my mind yesterday that I 
would never waltz again except with you. I did not cara 
for it ; but if you will come to the ball to-night, I shall 
enjoy every waltz." 

" But, my dear Valentine, I could not dance every 
waltz with you," he said, wonderingly, 

" Well, perhaps not every one," she said ; " but you will 
go and — I am so pleased that there is not any foundation 
for all that I feared over you." ^ 



^ THE duke's secbkt. 149 

" If I had known that you had such fears, I -would have 
discussed them with you before," he said. 

He thought a great deal about that conversation ; how 
frank and fair she was ! He thought to himself if he had 
known no other love, if he had never seen Naonii, he 
could have taken this young girl to his heart and never 
let her go ; she was herself so loving, it was impossible 
not to love. j 

They went to the ball together, and it was a fact tha 
she did not seem to hear or see any one but the young 
duke. The duchess saw it plain enough; there -vsas no 
mistake about it; the girl loved her son. How her eyes 
followed him — how her face brightened at his approach 
— how evident it was to every one near that her girl- 
ish heart had gone out to Lim. The duchess did not 
know whether to feel pleased or displeased. Lady Val- 
entine loved her son, of that she did not feel the least 
doubt in the world; but what of the d\ike? She watched 
him quietly, and without saying one word. It was true 
that she had never seen him so devoted to any one before. 
His handsome head was bent over the fair face; he talked, 
laughed, and seemed lighter of heart than he had done 
lor many years. A sigh that was almost a prayer rose to 
his mother's hps. If Heaven would but grant her this 
favor — if her son would but fall in love with this girl — 
who, above all other girls, seemed so well suited to him 
— she felt that then indeed her Hfe would be crowned 
with success. 

She watched keenly and closely, but she could not de- 
cide. That Lady Valentine had a great attraction for him 
no one covdd deny, but whether it was love or not she 
could not determine. She saw that when the ball was 
over, the girl's beautiful face was fresh as a flower, her 
eyes full of light, and her lips all smiles. 

" I have been so happy," she said, as the duke drew the 
white wrapper round her shoulders. " This has been the 
very best ball of the season— the very best I thought 
that it was the dullest ever given." 

The Duchess of Castlemayne thought to herself that if 
the duke did not see through and understand this he 
would never understand anything. It was so plain, so 
palpable to her. The girl evidently loved him nth all 
{ler he^rt »iid had m ide» ol concealing it, perhaps WM 



160 THE bitke's secret. *^ 

quite unconscious of it. Could it be possible that he had 
never noticed, that he had not seen the warmth of manner, 
frank, kindly affection, the tenderness that shone in her 
face and eyes ? The duchess was a worldly woman. She 
had thought much of another life, but if ever she prayed 
fervently it was on that night as she drove home with her 
son and the beautiful young girl whom she longed to 
welcome as her daughter. She prayed that Heaven 
would incline the heart of her son to fulfill her wishes. 



CHAPTER XXm. 

A FROZEN HEART. 

NoTHiNO happened to show the duchess that Tier wishes 
were to meet with any fulfillment. The duke continued 
most kind and attentive to Lady Valentine; she to evince 
the same frank, open affection for him; but her grace did 
not hear that which she longed to hear. She dreamed 
every day of the time when h* should come suddenly be- 
fore her and say: "Mother, this is my wife; I have 
chosen; wish us happiness." But that never came. The 
far-off look deepened; the eyes were always seeking that 
which he never found. Still, she would never have taken 
any step in the matter but for this fact, that she saw one 
slight change in the girl herself; she found her once or 
twice alone, her face buried in her hands; she grew more 
thoughtful, something was gone of the glad ring of her 
voice; when she sung the tears would fill her eyes and 
the lips tremble as the sweet words came over them. 

She debated long within herself what she should do. 
The girl was so young, and had been entrusted to her; 
she could not see her made unhappy, yet she did not like 
to interfere. One word spoke to either , might be fatal; 
BO she allowed some days to pass without interference; 
then conscience spoke — the girl's happiness must not be 
trifled with. If the duke was not likely to fall in love 
with her, either he must go away for a time, or the duch- 
ess herself must go and take Lady Valentine. It was but 
a fair thing to do. 

Matters came to a crisis one lovely morning when the 
three met at breakfast, and the lovely laughing sunshine 
was so temptiag that Lady Valentine begged they mighti 
|[^ ou^ 9^ soon as possible. 



Knt dtjke's sicot. 151 

•• The park will be beautiful this morning," she said. 
** You will come with us, duke, will you not ?" 

Some glimmering idea that it would not be wise to be 
seen always with her occurred to him, as it had often done 
before. 

"I am afraid," he said, " that I have made an engage- 
ment for this morning." 

"Do try," she said; her face and manner were so earnest 
that he flushed crimson, and the duchess bent her head 
over her plate to conceal a smile. 

" I do not see how I can break my promise," he replied. 
*' I said that I would drive over with Lord Clipton to 
Richmond- He is giving a dinner at the Star and 
Garter." 

•* Then you would be away — not only all day, but all 
the evening," she said. 

" Yes. We should not get back much before midnight," 
he replied. 

It was impossible to help seeing that every gleam of 
brightness fell from the girl's face. 

" A day and evening!" she said. "I do not like Bich- 
mond." 

" Have you been there ?" asked the duke. 

*' No ; but I am sure all the same I do not like it." 

" I should be pleased to take you there some day. We 
will dine at the hotel and drive home by moonlight." 

" That will be pleasant," she said. " I shall enjoy it; 
but I wish — ah, how I wish you were not going to-day." 

There was silence for afew minutes then the duchess said: 

" Now, my dear, if you want a long drive, it is time to 
get ready for it." But the glory had gone from the sun- 
shine — Lady Valentine no longer desired a drive. 

" I should not wonder if it rains; the sky is not so blue 
as it was half an hour since. I do not care — " 

But the duchess interrupted her with a laugh. 

" Bun away, my dear," she said, " and look your bright- 
est; the park will be full to-day." 

When she had left the room, the duke rose hastily to 
follow her. He had some kind of dread of what her grace 
might say. She merely looked at him. " Bertrand," she 
said, "will you spare me five minutes to-morrow? I 
have something very particular to say to you— only five 
Oiiuutes." 



152 THI duke's SECllT. 

"Shall itlD6 now, mother?"* he asked, with reBignation, 

"No; I am going out with Lady Valentine. I shall be 
at your leisure before dinner to-morrow, if you can spare 
a few minutes then." 

He knew it was equivalent to a royal command. Man 
as he was, he stiU felt something like fear of his mother 
and dread of long interviews with her. 

He seemed to ha^e almost an instinct of what was 
coming. When the duchess sent for him to her boudoir, 
he thought of the time when she had sent for him to her 
boudoir at Rood Castle. Ah, if he had spoken then. For 
that time to come over again, he would have given his 
dukedom and aU that it held. He thought of the fair 
young face he had first seen under the lime-trees, and he 
could have cursed his own folly and stupidity. 

The duchess rose to receive him ; the time had gone by 
when she could caU him to her side and place him before 
her to lecture him at ease. The young duke saw from 
her face that what she had to say was of au anxious 
nature. 

" Bertrand," she began, "I would have avoided this 
interview if I could, but it is no longer possible. I must 
speak ; my conscience will not allow me to be silent any 
longer. It is some time since I have spoken to you of 
love or marriage, because I have reUed impUcitly on your 
word that y ou would always keep my wishes in mind." 

" I have done so," he repUed, briefly. 

"But with little result until the present time," said the 
duchess. " I have thought much before speaking to you, 
Bertrand. It seems to be almost Hke a betrayal of inno- 
cence ; yet, I can not help it. Lady Valentine was en- 
trusted to me, as you know — placed under my care." 

" I know," he replied. 

" If any harm happened to her I shoidd hold myself 
responsible for it," she continued ; " and, Bertrand, I 
fear that harm will come to her — from you." 

"From me?" he cried, looking at her earnestly. 
"Why, mother, how can that be? I would not harm 
even one hair of her head. I like the child exceedingly." 

" She is not a child," said the duchess, gravely. 

"Well, the young lady, then. I like her very much, 
indeed." 

" That is just the evil of it«" said the duchess. "I woulcl 



THE DFEE'S SECBET. 153 

be the last in the world to speak of it — to betray the girl's 
secret ; to speak of that which I have discovered — but my 
heart aches for her — and — ^I can not see her happiness 
wrecked." 

" Speak plainly, then, mother, if I have anything to do 
with it," he said, feeling horribly certain that something 
was coming he should not care to heai\ 

The duchess, with her white jeweled hand, languidly 
moved her fan. 

*' I do not like the task, Bertrand, honestly ; but I must 
fulfill it. I fear very much for her peace of mind." 

" I hope not, mother," he said gravely. 

"She is very young," said the duchess, eager in the 
defense of her favorite ; "not only that, but she is even 
childish for her age — she has seen so little of life, and you 
are the first Englishman of any prestige she has seen, and 
will not think it flattery if I add that I do not wonder at 
her liking you." 

He looked greatly distressed. 

"Do you really think this is true, mother?" he asked. 
" I would rather give all I have in the world than believe 
it" 

" Why ? " asked the duchess, quickly. 

" Because she is such a sweet, loveable, sensitive girL" 
he answered. 

" Well? " said the duchess, dryly. 

Again the handsome face grew crimson. 

" It would be a sad pity to see so much love wasted,** 
he said, slowly. 

"That is the question," said the duchess. "Need it ba 
in vain — must it be in vain? I have asked you often 
enough to find a wife. Could you anywhere in this wide 
world find one more beautiful, more eligible in any way, 
than Lady Valentine ? Answer me, Bertrand." 

"No," he said, "I do not think I could." 

" I love her. I have seen no girl whom I could so love 
as a daughter. Hove her, she loves you; now why not 
make the circle complete by loving her." 

" I hope you are mistaken, mother," he cried. " I hope 
she does not love me; if she does I am a greater coward 
than I thought I was." 

" I am sure of it, and I will tell you no half truths, 
Bertrand — she loves you better than any one else will 



164 THE duke's SEOBBt. ^ 

ever do, with all her heart. I do not believe she has a 
thought v?^hich does not begin and end with you." 

" I wish you had told me before," he said, and she saw 
that he was in great distresb. 

" I am grieved to have to teU you now," she replied. 
" You ought to have seen it before. I feel humiliatedf 
for the girl's sake, to have to mention it ; but now, Ber- 
trand, answer me one question, you admit that Lady Val- 
entine is lovely and lovable — why not marry her ? " 

The very question he had feared, and for which he had 
no answer. 

" Why not make her happy — make me happy, and win 
what is a priceless treasure — a loving wife for yourself at 
the same time ? " 

" I have not thought of it in that light, mother," he Baid> 
slowly. 

Her Grace of Castlemayne was so carried away by im- 
patience that she positively, for the first and only time in 
her hfe, stamped her foot on the floor. 

" Heaven give me patience ! " she said. " I do think, 
Bertrand, that you would disturb the serenity of a saint 
or angel. I talk to you of a girl for whom half London 
is dying, and you talk about not seeing things in that 
light. Where is your sense of poetry and romance? 
Why are you not like other young men ? I know not 
one, but many, who would give all they have for one such 
look even as Valentine continually gives you. Is your 
heart a stone ? I do not understand you. Has no woman's 
face a charm for you ? Do you never long for the sound 
of a woman's voice ? You are a riddle to me, Bertrand. 
Have you one sensible reason to give me why you should 
not ask Lady Valentine to be your wife ?" 

"Yes; one that embraces all others. I have never once 
given the thing such a thought," he repHed. 

" Will you think of it now ?" she asked. 

He turned to her, with an expression of resigned de- 
spair. 

" I can make no promises, mother," he said. '• Mother, 
you mean well, but you make my Hfe harder to bear. I have 
often said that if you leave it to me, all will be well." 

" I must do sopiething at once over Lady Valentine. 
She must not be sacrificed. If I thought that in time you 
would leam to love her, I would not interfere, but woul4 



THE DITKE*S 8ICBST. 155 

let matters take their course; but if I thought the poor 
girl was losing her heart to you — and in vain — I would 
take her away at once." 

"Give me a few days in which to think it over, mother," 
he said. "I can not bear any more just now ; " and by 
his face as he quitted the room, she knew that she had 
said enough. 

CHAPTER XXIV. 

GOnca TO HEB DOOM. 

Long and anxiously did the duke think of all that his 
mother had said; he had every reason to beHeve that it 
was true; when he came to reflect on all that the girl had 
said and done, he became quite anxious and miserable. 
He had not thought of winning her heart; he had not even 
thought of trifling with her. He liked her extremely, 
thought her graceful, beautiful and gifted, but the only 
woman he had ever loved, was his wife, Naomi, whom he 
had lost through cowardice. What was he to do? The 
temptation to bury the past and marry her was greater 
than any temptation he had ever known before. The life 
before him looked fair enough; she was young, lovely and 
loving. He would have the sweetest wife in England, his 
mother would be happy beyond words. After all, it was 
most probable that Noami was dead. Surely, if living, she 
would have sent him one line or one message before now; 
must he sacrifice his whole life to what seemed to be a 
shadow ? 

And that sweet buried romance — ^that sweet, far-off love 
— no other could be like it; this face, though fair, was not 
so fair as his lost wife's. 

"What should he do ? He was in a far greater dilemma, 
it seemed now, than he had ever been. Again, the one 
clear, straightforward path was to go in to the duchess and 
tell her the truth ; yet it was more impossible, after all 
these years of concealment, than it had been before. He 
Would rather have faced death ; no matter what complica- 
tions arose, it was impossible for him now to do that. He 
could not help admitting to himself that if it had not been 
for this early romance of his, Lady Valentine, above all 
others, was the one he should have chosen ; he could have 
loved her with all Ids heart, if his heart had not been 
given to another. 



156 THE duke's secbst. 

Even HOW, if he were sure that he was free, he could 
have passed his life happily enough with her, but thia 
sense of not being free kept him from saying anything to 
her. 

The crisis had come at last ; he must either tell Lady- 
Valentine the truth, or leave home not to return till she 
Was gone. Delay would be dangerous and useless ; she 
must be told, and she must know the truth. 

But for that tragical past he could have taken her into 
his arms now and have loved her and gladly have made 
her his wife. 

He had the feeling usual to a man who knows he is 
loved, and is not quite sure whether it is in his power to 
love again or not; half content that he should be loved, 
half sorry that any girl should give her heart in vain. He 
saw now that he had unconsciously encouraged her 
girlish preference; that he ought to have left home or told 
her he was married. He had not been fair to her. 

" How is it," he thought, " that my life is such a fail- 
ure ? Where women are concerned I am always wrong, 
never right." 

Lady Valentine had taken deeper hold of his heart than 
even he knew himself. Love must win love of some kind 
or another, and her girlish, passionate liking for him had 
won from him the return of a great affection. He would 
have liked just then to enjoy his freedom, to have made 
her happy and loved her; he was in a sea of doubt 
Naomi had been away from him so long; he half won-* 
dered at times if there could be much wrong in marrying 
Lady Valentine. 

How many people believed that seven years' absence 
and desertion form a legitimate pretext for divorce. He 
could not. In some things he had been weak, and had 
failed woefully, but he was a firm believer in the 
sanctity of marriage, and in the holiness of its bonds. 
However strongly the temptation was urged upon him, he 
knew what a marriage would be in the presence of God, 
and what name his children would bear before right* 
thinking and wise-judging men. 

There was nothing for it but to tell her his fatal secret. 
He knew how deeply she loved him when he thought 
over all that had passed between them. 

Se had thought of her as a child with childieh frank* 



TBDE duke's secret. 167 

ness and candor; behold, she was a woman in her pas- 
sionate love. In what words was he to tell her his ter- 
rible story ? Must he seem anxious for her love, or must 
he ignore it? He would seem vain, presumptuous and 
conceited, if he even alluded to her love for himself ; he 
must trust to inspiration. He had time on the following 
day to note the truth of what the duchess had said. If 
ever love shone in a human face it was in hers ; if ever 
eyes told a sweet love story hers did, and he wondered 
much at his own bhndness in not having seen it before. 

How young and fair and fresh she was ; how graceful 
and winning; the very kind of life for whom one might 
lay down his life. 

There was a flower show at Kew, and the duke had 
agreed to drive the two ladies down. There would be 
an excellent chance, he thought, among the roses; the 
duchess was sure to be surrounded by friends, and he 
wovild take Lady Valentine away from the crowd, take 
her down to the banks of the beautiful river and tell her 
his story. His heart touched him a httle when she went 
up to him with a great Hght shining on her face. 

"You are really going with us, duke?' she asked, 
eagerly. 

" Yes, I hope so," he replied. 

" Then it will be a real gala day. How I love roses j 
and I have a Parisian hat, the equal of which will not be 
Been at Kew or elsewhere." 

"A Parisian hat?" he repeated. "I do not think it 
can improve you." 

The very glow of health and of the fresh sweet morn- 
ing was on her face. He said to himself that he had seen 
no one so exquisite. 

A few minutes later and she stood before him, looking 
more beautiful than he had ever seen her. Nothing 
beautifies like happiness; going out with him was the 
greatest of all happiness to her. She wore a beautiful 
costume of pale -cream color, artistically arranged; and 
the Parisian hat seemed to crown the fairest head. 

" You are pleased with me," she said; "I can always 
tell when you are pleased." 

"Can you," he asked, laughingly; "how?" 

'•There are lines round your lips that never relax uulei* 
you are pleas^^— ^uite pleased, I mewL" 



158 THB DUES'S SEOBKF. 

" Ton must Iiave studied my face well," he said, car^ 
lessly. 

" I have," was the naive reply, " I know it almost by 
heart." 

And then the duchess came in, ready for the excursion, 
and looked magnificently and superbly dressed. It was 
said in London that to see the Duchess of Castlemayne 
and Lady Valentine Arden together was a rare treai 
They were the very types of the different orders of 
womanhood — the one in the fairest spring-time of youth, 
slender and graceful as a young fawn; the other in the 
full magnificence of womanhood. 

The duke looked from one to the other with pleased,, 
proud eyea 

The day was beautiful ; warm, without being sultry 
with a blue sky and fair wind. The drive down to Kich^ 
mond was most enjoyable, and Lady Valentine was in the* 
highest of spirits. To be with him at any time was a 
source of perfect happiness to her; but to have the pros- 
pect of a whole beautiful day in the brightest of sunshine* 
was mor« delightful than ever; the sweet face was ra«. 
diant, the eyes eloquent with laughter and happiness. 

She did not look much beyond the present, this happy,, 
girlish creature; she did not analyze her heart, she did 
not try to find out how much she loved him, or why; all 
ehe knew was that, being with him was her nearest idea 
of paradise, and without him the whole world was deso- 
late. It is not often that a girl falls so completely and so 
unconsciously in love; as a rule, they know some little 
about it. 

She never bethought herself that he was a duke, or that 
his wife would be the Duchess of Castlemayne, and one 
of the wealthiest peeresses in England; she never thought of 
the glories of Rood Castle, of the dignities that would be 
lavished on his wife; she thought only of him — it was 
neither his wealth, rank, nor position she cared for, noth- 
ing but himself. How easily ner secret was read in those 
shining, lovely eyea 

They found the flower show one of the finest ever held; 
the flowery were magnificent, the music fine, the toilets 
of the ladies most exquisite. There was an unusual 
number of beautiftd women present; and the duke did 
Bot find it quite so easy to get her away from the crowd 



THE duke's secret. 159 

fts he expected to do. The brilliant sunshine lingered ok 
a fairy -like scene. 

Lady Valentine was certainly the most beautiful girl 
present. He realized perhaps for the fii'st time how pop- 
ular she was; how the gentlemen gathered roimd her, all 
anxious for one look at her beautiful face, for one smiloj 
for one gleam of recognition; he saw that if he quitted 
her side for one moment there were a dozen ready to 
take his place. The duchess had joined the royal party; 
and he Imew that she would not be at hberty for some 
little time. 

They stopped for a few moments to look at some 
wonderful geraniums, and then he whispered to her: 

"Valentine, can you get away from these people? I 
want to talk to you." 

Ah me ! The happy eyes raised to his, a lovely flush 
rose to the white brow. 

"You want to speak to me, duke? Certainly, I will 
get away. Let us go to the lake." 

More than one glance followed them. Was it possible 
that the duke was caught at last ? 

More than one matron thought to herself that the 
Duchess of Castlemayne had done a very clever thing in 
bringing this beautiful young girl into her household. 

Lady Everleigh laughed. 

"I shall not take alarm yet," she said ; "after my ex- 
perience of the young duke's vagaries it will take more 
than one walk to convince me that he is serious." 

So, without warning, with sunshine, laughter, music 
and fragrance all around her, Lady Valentine went to her 
doom. 

CHAPTER XXV. 

A. Sm AND ITS PENALTY. 

Pkbhaps no young heart ever beat with greater emotion 
than that of Lady Valentine as she walked away with the 
duke, leaving the crowd of fair women and gallant men 
and sweet music far behind. 

" Let us walk down to the river's bank," said the duke; 
" I want to talk to you." 

There was but one thing he could want to talk to her 
about, one thing alone filled her heart and mind ; it must 
be of that he wanted to speak. 



t6D THE DUKE'S SE02ET. 

Throughout the lovely flower grounds, through the 
long avenue of chestnuts, past the sweeping lawn, down 
to the banks of the fair river. The odor from the haw- 
thorn hedges and the lilacs reached them ; the grass was 
studded with wild flowers. It was the very hour for love 
and lovers ; but while one heart beat with passionate 
delight, the other was heavy with sorrow and despair. 

The duke made a comfortable seat for his beautiful 
companion by the river's brink. Until the end of her life 
the sight of a clear, deep river became in her mind asso- 
ciated with misery beyond words. There was no doubt 
in her heart, not the faintest, not the least shadow. 
The blue sky and the sun were not more bright than the 
shore she believed herself to have reached. She looked 
up into his face as he sat down by her side, the handsome 
face with the far-off look in the eyes, and the dreamy 
half-sad expression. 

He would look brighter than that very soon, she thought. 
Near her, where the water touches the green leaves, lay a 
brilliant mass of blue forget-me-nots; she gathered some 
of them and held them in her hands. She never looked 
upon the little flower again without tears. 

Then the Duke of Castlemayne turned his face again to 
her; it was pale with emotion; his voice was low, but to 
her unutterably sweet. 

" Lady Valentine," he said, " I have brought you here to 
tell you a secret and a story that I have told to no one ; a 
secret that, like vitrol thrown on a face, has burned its way 
into my life, branded my heart and my soul, and ruined 
my whole existence." 

It touched him to see how the color faded from the 
sweet face, and how a look of terror came into the blue 
eyes. This was not what she had expected ; this was no 
sweet love story. " They say," he continued, " that every 
sin brings its own punishment ; then, indeed, is mine 
heavy, heavier than I can bear. I tell the story of my 
sin and its penalty, as a preventive against myself and to 
save you. I can only do it in this fashion." 

She was silent ; all the happiness that had made earth 
heaven to her had suddenly died. Wliat was this that 
she was brought face to face with ? "What had stolen into 
that bright, peaceful paradise — what had he to tell her ? 

J^ nr®uld not be as she had thought — ^he would not clasp 



THE DUEE's SEGBET. 1^ 

lier in tm uxim and tell her how dearly he loved her. It 

was pain, sot love that she read on his face. 

" I am ashamed to tell," he continued. "HI were to 
listen to such a story told by the lips of another man, I 
*hould have hard words in speaking of him — I should 
call him a coward ! You like me, Lady Valentine, you 
think well of me now ; but when you have heard my 
Btory you will never like me again." 

She raised her fair face, with its shadowed eyes and 
quivering lips, to his. 

"Do not say that," she cried; "nothing in the wide 
world could do that; nothing could make me like you less. 
Whatever you do, whatever you have done, it is all the 
same to me. I could Uke you more, never less." 

The words fell so clearly from her lips, she did not hesi- 
tate over them. He looked at her gratefully. 

" My dear," he said, " you can form no idea, you have 
no notion of my story; if, after hearing it, you look at me 
with horror, rise up and leave me with anger and scorn, 
it will not surprise me, I deserve it; but on the contrary 
when you have heard all that I have to say, if you can 
still be my friend, I shall think myself decidedly the most 
fortunate man on earth." 

"You may think that now, San Sebastian," she said, 
with her old child-like naivete, " for nothing that you can 
say will ever change me. I believe, so great is my faith 
in you, that if I saw you do wrong the very f«Nct that you 
did would make it seem right to me." 

" That is faith indeed," said the dube; *" would to Heaven 
that I deserved it. BeHeve me. Lady Valentine, that of 
all the evil and punishment ift.at have followed my sin, 
none is so great a penalty as this — telling it to you." 

" You call it a sin," Sue said ; " but I am sure there is 
no sin in it. "^^ben I look at your face, I am quito sure 
of it. Sin or no sin, right or wrong, nothing can make 
any aifference to me ; my belief can never change." 

"Thank you," he said, "you make it more easy for 
me." 

Ht never forgot the fair face of the earl's daughter, 
with its look of lofty pride and most tender love. 

" Give me your hands," he said ; "if, as I go on they 
keep with me I shaU understand ; if you take them from 
fiat it will only be what I deserve." ^ 



162 TSE duke's secret. 

"They will not te withdrawn, from you, San Sebas- 
tian," she said, " and — wait one minute — if it pains you 
go m h to tell me this story, why tell it ? " 

" You will understand when you have heard it," he 
replied. 

Only Heaven knew how he was to begin, and what it 
cost him to tell the story, of the mad folly of his youth, of 
the act of cowardice for which he had suffered. 

The sun shone on, the wind whispered to the tall green 
trees, the great boughs stirred, the swift river ran on, 
the waters washed the gre en roots of the forget-me-nots, 
the birds sung their sweetest song while he told her the 
story which seemed to him aU shame. She Ustened at 
first in utter silence. Once or twice a low moan came 
from her lips, then they turned deadly pale, and she said 
no more. 

As he went on it seemed to her that her heart was 
crushed — crushed and broken; she could have fallen on 
her face and died. In the after years she never knew 
how she had lived through the anguish of that hour. He 
did not spare himself, he made no excuses for his weak- 
ness and cowardice, but told the story just as it hap- 
pened. 

Her face was white, her lips pale, her hands trembling 
— the blue forget-me-nots had fallen from them; one 
bitter sigh came from the depths of a crushed heart — 
while the river rolled on and the birds sung. 

A whole volume could not have held the pathos that lay 
in the few words she uttered: 

" Oh, San Sebastian !" 

There was .1 world of traffic despair in them. Still the 
white hands were not taken from his clasp; they lay cold 
and quiet in his. 

" That is the story of my life, Valentine," he said. 
** Tell me what you think of it." 

Then as the little whii^e hands stirred in his, just as the 
faithful loving heart l»^at with renewed tenderness for 
him: 

" I am so g^eved tcr yoa," she said, gently^ and the 
^ords fell slowly from her white lipa " My first 
thought is for your sorrow and pain." 

He saw the change in the sweet young face, the I ue of 
death that had overspread it the despondent tonia o^ the 



THE DUKE'S SECEET. 163 

itear voice. Oh, what a treasure he was casting from him, 
the love of this most loving heart I 

It was piteous to see how her lips quivered, as she tried in 
vain to keep the big tears from falling. She was so untried 
in the ways of sorrow. At last, with a deep, breathless sob, 
she said: 

" Oh, San Sebastian, I never dreamed that you were 
married I" All the bitterness of her heart, all the bitterness 
of her disappointment came out in that cry. *' I did not 
know that you were married I" It went to his heart; and 
still the loving hands were not taken from hia 

"Tell me," he said, lurgently, "what you think of my 
■tory?" 

The pale face smiled into his. 

" I understand it," she said; "I know exactly what yoa 
thought, where you failed. I see why you call yourself a 
coward. It is because you did not speak at the right mo- 
ment; it would certainly have been much better if you had 
done so; but I can understand, judging you quite justly, 
why you did not. You took, I should imagine, a hvuried 
view of the situation, and decided that you could set every- 
thing straight afterward, with far less trouble and annoy- 
ance than you could do it just at that moment. Is that it T' 

He wondered how she should understand him so 
thoroughly when the young wife whom he had loved so 
fondly had failed. 

"You are right," he said, "it was just in that way. I 
thought I had but to see her again and tell her why I 
had acted in that fashion. I have never seen her since. 
It was cowardice, moral cowardice, Valentine." 

" I will not call it so," she rephed; " I will never own 
^hat you could do wrong! You may make mistakes, but 
that is all" 

" Then you neither hate nor despise me ? " he said. 

The true woman's heart awoke vdthinher; the love that 
is all sacrifice and no self came to her. 

"No," she replied. "You have siiffered and you are 
unhappy, therefore I love you more,'* 

" My true, dear—" 

Then he paused abruptly. What right had he to use 
those words to her? "What had he lost in this treasure 
that might have been his. 

*'l uaderstA»d uow/' she said, "all that has eTsr puz< 



l$i THE DUS£*S SEGBET. 

xled me. Tou look like a man who has lost something — 
I always thought so — now I see what you have lost Your 
eyes are always seeking something you never find. Oh, 
San Sebastian, tell me, tell me, did you love her very 
much ? Tell me all about her; was she fair ? did she love 
you ? How coidd she, having loved you once, stay away 
from you all this time ? " 

CHAPTER XXYL 

TBUX LOVB NBVEE FALTEES. 

The beautiful violet eyes were riveted on his face. She 
was quite unconscious of the love and pain that she her- 
self expressed in every tone of voice. San Sebastian had 
always been her ideal of aU that was perfect in man; she 
could not so soon change her ideas of him ; she could not 
judge him as she woidd another man ; she could not see 
faults or wrong in him. 

So she sat looking at him vnth bewildered eyes, and 
wondering why this horrible cloud had faUen over her 
life — wondering what this horrible pain at her heart 
meant — wondering why life should hold such grief. 

" Did she love you very much ?" That was the burden 
of her thoughts and her questions; that was the main 
point. Had he, this man whom she loved with her whole 
heart, had he known what it was to love and to receive 
the sweet love of a tender-hearted woman ? 

She had learned to think that he belonged to her; that 
he was in some vague way her own property and posses- 
sion. It had been to her like a little world, guarded by 
her own heart: and lol here, aU at once, she finds it has 
been in possession of another long before she knew even 
of its existence. Had he been merely a friend or ao- 
quaintance, his story would have been a shock to her; 
but being what he was, her hero and her ideal, it was like 
a death-blow. 

She was like a fair, young child, who had been playing 
in the grass and flowers, and coming suddenly upon the 
edge of a precipice, and gazing down into its depths, sees 
the darkness and flames of helL Life had been a fair 
poem to her ; she knew less than nothing of its darker 
side. She knew that there was a fair passion called love, 
which began on earth and ended in heaven, but she wai 



THE duke's SEuikxiC, 165 

quite igBoraat of all bad loves — of all wrong, sinful loves ; 
«he knew nothing of its tragedies and its despairs, nothing 
of its shame and degradation. 

This story of his was a terrible puzzle to her, but she 
took it all in good faith ; there were reasons for aJl that lie 
had done. She knew how great was the pride of the 
duchess ; how entirely her son loved and submitted to 
her. How averse he was at all times and on all occasions 
from doing anything which would grieve or vex her; 
therefore she could understand, in some measure, why he 
had acted as he had done ; and in her own heart — per- 
haps because she had loved him so — she was inclined to 
blame the young wife who had left him for so long with- 
out one word, and whose absence had placed him in such 
a dilemma. She laid her hand on her heart as though 
she were in pain, when she asked him for the third time : 

" Duke, did she love you very much ?" 

"Yes," he replied, "very much indeed. It seems so 
long ago I can hardly remember it all. I have had no 
portrait of her to keep my memory alive, and I have 
great difficulty in recollecting her face clearly. When I 
try to think of it, it always seems to be blotted out by a 
mist of tears. Ah, yes, she loved me very dearly I Even 
now I feel the clasp of her warm hands." 

He did not notice how instantaneously she withdrew 
hers — the white, wistful pain in her face was lost on him. 

He went on. 

"I remember her voice; I remember the ecstacy of her 
happiness when we did meet; I remember how she hated 
to leave me. My poor Naomi! She must have loved 
me very much." 

" Did she want to go out with you and be with you 
always ?" she asked, knowing well tiie form her affection 
took. •'* Did she want to be with you all day long, and 
"when you left her do nothing but long for your re- 
turn r 

« Yes," he repUed, "she did aH that." 

" And you — did you love her as much ?" Jhe asked. 

" Yes," he replied, quickly. " She was my first love. I 
worshipped her; but it is all confused now, and 'A is long 
since. I forget much; although she was my wife, after 
that one week we saw so little of each other, even my 
memoiies pf her are all dazed, it seeiua to sue. If sL9 



166 THE DUXES SECEET. 

came back to me to-morrow in the same guise she left 
me I shotild recognize her; but if I met her anywhere, I 
doubt—" 

"And yet she is your wife," said Lady Valentine, 
reproachfully. 

" Yes, my wife, and I love her ; but I see clearly now ; 
my eyes were blinded with the glamour of love ; I see 
clearly, and I know that in marrying her I did a wrong, 
foohsh thing ; a senseless, selfisli action ; it seemed to 
me, then, very heroic ; now I know that it was only the 
mad folly of my mad youth. I did a worse action still 
when I let her go out of my mother's presence without 
having told the truth. You will never think of me as a 
hero again, Valentine." 

" Indeed I shall ; you will always be the same to me. 
Love is not love if anything can change it," The words 
escaped her without thought ; but when she had uttered 
them her face flushed crimson. "I mean," she added, 
" that true friendship can never change." 

He turned eagerly to her. 

" Lady Valentine," he asked, "may I be frank, unworldly, 
and sincere ? May I say exactly what is on my mind — 
what fills my heart and soul ? " 

" Yes," she replied, " say anything you will ; the more 
you tell me the more I shall understand." 

Her eyes were fixed on the swift rushing river, and the 
sunlight that lay on its waters. Oh, Heaven, how the 
bright sun of her life had set I 

" Yes," she replied, " say anything you like." 

" Half a confidence is worse than none," he said. " I 
will tell you every thought of my heart. If I speak 

?lainly, brusquely, forgive me; I mean only to be honest, 
'ou can quite understand how terrible my dilemma is; 
my mother urging me to marry — her happiness, almost 
her life depending on it; and I can not marry, for I do 
not know whether my wife is living or dead. No day 
passes on which she fails to appeal to me, to urge me. 
She has introduced me to the sweetest and best of women; 
I have hardly looked at them. The world calls me a 
woman-hater; I am simply a man who once loved a 
woman so dearly that I flung away my Hfe for her. You 
will naturally ask me, '"WTiy do I not tell my mother?' 
My answer is this, 'She is unhappy enough now; but i| 



THE duke's secret. 167 

I told her this secret of mine, I beUeve it would kill her. 
She would suffer so terribly from the mortificatiori and 
humihation, it would, I beheve, break her heart.' That is 
why I do not tell her." 

"I am sure it would," said Lady Valentine; and she re- 
membered what the duchess had said to her about Lady 
Eveileigh. She understood it now. 

" I have never Hked to tell her. I may say plainly I 
never dared ; and each year, as it rolls on, has made the 
task more difficult. I believe now that I could do any- 
thing in the world other than tell her ; she would never 
have another happy moment in her hfe. I know she 
suffers from suspense — that same suspense would be- 
come unendurable anguish if she knew all." 

" I agree with you," said Lady Valentine, gravely. 

He continued : 

" I have made every effort, every human and possible 
effort ; but it has been in vain, I can discover no trace 
of her, not the least or the faintest. It has spoiled my 
Hfe ; but I deserved it." 

The little hand stole back into his when he said that. 

"No," she replied, "you shall not say that. I will 
never have even you, yourself, say one word against your- 
self." 

" It has spoiled my life. I have had no such life as 
falls to the lot of other men. My home has not been 
brightened by love ; my days and my heart have been 
empty , but I never felt this until I knew — You will 
forgive me for what I am going to say ? " 

" Yes," she said ; and her heart seemed to thrill with 
the pain of what was coming. 

" I knew all I had lost from my life when I saw you. I 
am not going to confess that I have a lover's love for you, 
you would but despise me the more; but when you come 
to our home, so young, so fresh, so beautif ill, so loving, and 
my mother so utterly devoted to you, I realize how 
happy I could have been if I might have asked you to be 
my wife. I felt my heart going to you, and I have told 
you now the truth, so that between us there shall be no 
shadow, no untruth, no false position. You know the 
truth now, Lady Valentine, the simple truth that if I 
had been free to woo you and win you, I sbould have 
been the happiest man on earth. That which I have tol4 



168 THE duke's secret. 

you is the strongest baxrier that can be placed betweeB 
us." 

* ' I know it," she answered, in a low voice. 

" Perhaps," he continued, " I have not been so guarded, 
under the circumstances, as I ought to have been. I 
have been perhaps, too — what shall I say ? how shall I 
express it ? — too familiar. I have shown such liking for 
you, for your society, that I may have misled you." 

" No," she said, faintly. " The first moment I saw you I 
liked you. I can not tell how or why, but I did Vke you — • 
in a way that is quite different to the way in which I have 
liked anybody else. That was not, because you had sought 
my society, for I had never seen you before ; yet I liked 
vou, your face was just the picture of the San Sebastian I 
had seen and loved all my life. I remember how my heart 
went out to you, and I said to myself that it was my San 
Sebastian come to life. It could not be because it sought 
me; from the moment I saw you, in some strange way, 
you seemed to fill the world for me, you became the center 
of everything to me — how could that be your fault ?" 

She was perfectly sure that in those few words she made 
a complete confession of love to him. She had not thought 
of that; all she thought of was that he should not have the 
additional pain of thinking he had misled her. She was 
eager to impress him with the belief that her great liking 
for him was natural and came at first, and had not been 
brought abont by any seeking of his; and she forgot — in 
her anxiety to assure him of this — that she was betraying 
her love for him. 

He saw it, and the grave, simple words pierced his heart. 
If he had been free, all that world of love shovdd not have 
been lavished on him in vain. He saw and heard it with 
the deep sorrow of a naturally noble soul — that the girl 
had unconsciously given to him the deepest trust, the mosfc 
passionate, the most earnest love of her life. 

CHAPTER XXVn. 

THE DUCHESS PUZZLED. 

They were silent for a few minutes. For Lady Valen- 
tine, the whole world had changed, the music had gone 
from the bird's song, a funeral pall lay over the blue sky 
aad the laughing earth; her youth, her love and hope 



THE dcke's secbet. 169 

teemed suddenly to have sliriveleu up and left her. It 
was like going from a land of laughing sunlight to one of 
gray, leaden fog and utter darkness. The river still ran 
on, the birds still sung, but the melody which filled her 
heart when she first went there, was never to be heard in 
that same heart again. 

" I have not asked you for a promise of secrecy," said 
the duke, " for I know that nothing would ever induce you 
to utter one word of what I have told you." 

" No," she said; " I would rather die." 

" I know it, and. Lady Valentine, if by keeping my 
secret too closely, if by seeking you constantly, if in any 
way I have misled you, caused you pain, will you forgive 
me?" 

" I have nothing to forgive, San Sebastian," she said. 
*' Tour friendship has been the happiest event of my life. 
I would rather be your friend than the dearest love of 
another. I have nothing to forgive ; if I had not known 
you I should never have known how beautiful life could 
be." 

" You make me hate myself when you speak in that 
strain," the duke said, hurriedly. " If I thought you would 
ever suffer one moment's pain through me I should 
despair." 

And she, with an effort that was heroic, said : 

" We will not talk of suffering ; my greatest happiness 
is to have known you." 

He kissed the white hand that, despite the wound he 
had given her, lay so trustingly in his. 

" It was quite natural," he said, " that, seeing so much 
of each other, we should like, and even learn, perhaps, to 
love each other ; but now we shall be the dearest friends." 

"Yes," she said, quietly, "the dearest of friends." 

But only Heaven knew the pain that filled her heart as 
she uttered the word. She had awakened suddenly to 
the knowledge that she loved him as she would never love 
any one else, and that he could never be anything to her 
because he belonged to another. 

"I am so glad I have told you; the weight of a secret 
is intolerable; now you will share it with me. I know 
it seems absurd for a man who may be called a man of 
the world to ask advice of a j'oung girl like you, but 
/our instinct will reach a point where reason will nevAK 



17C THE duke's SECWnf. 

take me. Tou can be the most useful to me; you can 
be my comrade and ally — I want one. I would not 
bind your sweet life and sweet youth to me; it would 
be selfish, wicked and cruel." 

She understood what he meant, although he said no 
word, and it was that if ever he found himself free he 
would fly to her. 

" I will help you in every way I can," she replied. 

" Help me to find Naomi," he cried. " On earth, living 
or dead, somewhere there must be a trace of her; help 
me to find her." 

" I will ; I will be your true friend, helper, sister, com- 
rade — all that you require; I will devote myself to you, 
to doing all that I can for you. I know that in many 
little ways I can help you, and I will. But it seems to me 
a desperate hope, indeed, to look for one woman in such 
a vast world — above all, if she does not want to be found. 
Do you think so yourself ? " 

"I do. I have thought so for many years past," he re- 
plied. " I am quite sure of one thing, and it is this, that 
if on the habitable globe there is any trace of her, Michael 
Droski will discover it. I could not have placed it in 
better hands; he will find her if she is to be found. It 
will be so great a comfort to me to know that you share 
my secret and my sorrow," he continued. " When you 
hear people call me a woman-hater you will know why, 
you will remember it is not true, that my fault has been 
loving one woman too much. If people talk because you 
and I are much together, because we ride, drive, dance, 
sing, or talk together; we, ourselves, shall know the truth, 
and our friendship will hurt no one." 

" If I can help or comfort you," she said, " I care little 
^hat any one may say — it will be a matter of perfect in- 
difference to me." 

"Tou can and will be the greatest comfort in the world 
to me," he replied. " As I have said, I would not in this 
state of things bind your sweet hfe to mine, but I have 
been thinking very seriously I must do something. If 
Michael Droski assures me that there is no chance of ever 
finding her, the law has a certain loop-hole of escape for 
me; after all these years of desertion I could recover my 
freedom, but it would be at the expense of publicity—* 
thing from which I shrink more than from death." 



THE duke's segbet. 171 

**Tell me one thing," she said, wistfully, do not think 
it an impertinent question, but do you wish with all your 
heart to find her ? " 

" I oannot tell," he replied. " Would to Heaven I 
could. I do not know my own heart or mind. I am con- 
fused, I can not tell whether if she appeared before me 
this moment I should be most glad or sorry. It is not 
want of truth or loyalty. I have suffered so much, and I 
have forgotten so much. Did she bring me most happi- 
ness? that is the question I often asked myself, apd I can 
not answer it. The girl who pleased me then woidd 
probably displease now. Another idea that often occurs 
to me is this : She was a wonder of grace and good 
breeding. In all my life I have met no one whose 
manner was so perfect ; but, poor child, whan she left 
her only home she had no money. I can not think how 
she has lived all these years. And I have often won- 
dered if she had to mix with a common class of people — 
if in the struggle to gain her bread she has lost grace. 
Ah, me, Valentine, I have a thousand thoughts of her, all 
puzzling ; all unhappy. I can not tell whether I dread or 
long to find her most. I do not know." 

" It is a strange story," she said, slowly, trampling ner 
own pain and anguish under foot. "A strange story. Who 
would have thought you had such a secret in your life. 
Who would have imagined that you, the wealthiest duke 
in England, young, handsome, with every gift that Heaven 
can give you — who would imagine that your life was a trag- 
edy ! Yet, I always thought there must be some reason 
why your face was so sad. Naturally speaking, sadness 
had little to do with you. I might have known there was 
something terribly wrong. It is worse than I thought." 

" It is hard enough in all conscience," he said. "Oh, 
child, do not waste your beautiful life on me. I am not 
worthy of it. There are men in this world, loyal, and true, 
who wovdd give their lives for one kind look from you. 
Think of them; find some one worthy of the purest, sweet- 
est love that could ever be given." 

"It is too late," she answered, with a slow smile. " Do 
not preach to me, San Sebastian. I shall find my life happy 
enough if I may be your friend. We must go, duke; we 
have been here a long time. See how the shadows of thq 
tr«e» have changed, and the gold has gone troga the xiYer." 



172 THE DXJKkti ZTXTXT. 

She made a brare fight; she was determined that in> 
should not see what she suffered and felt. She would gc 
back with smiles on her lips; he should not know that 
she loved him with all her heart, and love him in vaiE^ 
She would go back with smile and laughter; she would 
meet her friends with gay words; no one should know 
that she had been to the banks of the river to have her 
heart broken. 

" We must go," she repeated, hastily, with a look at 
her watch; "we have been here more than an hour." 

She continued to talk with him on different subjects — • 
no word could tell what it cost her to do so. The 
duchess by this had left the royal party, and was wait- 
ing for them — waiting impatiently too, for they had 
several engagements for the evening, including an invi- 
tation to a ball at one of the royal houses; yet she waited 
patiently enough. 

Her quick eye had detected the withdrawal of her son 
and Lady Valentine, even when she talked with her usual 
brilhancy and wit to the royal party; she had watched 
them out of sight, and she said to herself that the happiest 
moment of her life had arrived — that her son was cer- 
tainly wooing for himself this beautiful girl whom she 
loved like a daughter. She saw that, although Lady 
Valentine was talking and laughing gayly enough, she 
looked very pale — so pale that the duchess resolved to 
call her carriage at once. 

"I am right," she said to herself, " he has told her that 
he loves her, and she is agitated. We will get home 
quickly; they are sure to tell me on the way." 

The pallor did not leave the beautiful young face, though 
Lady Valentine laughed and talked as gayly as ever; 
neither did she say one word of that which the duchesa 
expected to hear — not one word. 

"Come to my dressing-room," said her grace to the 
young girl, " and we w'll talk over the party." 

She went; but even t^en there was not one syllable, and 
hu Chrace of Gastlema' ne was more puzzled than over. 



«EE dttke's secbet. 179 



CHAPTEB XXYHL 

A NIW BEAUTY IN THE FIELD. 

•*I SHOULD say," thought the duchess to herself, "that 
no woman living has ever had so much anxiety over 4 
good son as I have had." 

She was quite out of spirits and out of heart; and had 
most implicitly believed that when the duke took Lady 
Valentine away from the crowd, it was to ask her to be hia 
wife. What could they have been talking about all that 
time? She had never been so surprised or so disap- 
pointed. 

When Lady Valentine reached her dressing-room the 
duchess said to her : 

" Sit down and join me ; I shall have a cup of coffee ; 
it is more refreshing than anything else after such a hard 
day." 

The girl did, listlessly, just as she was told. 

" You look tired, Valentine," said her grace. 

" Yes, I am tired," was the brief answer ; then, think- 
ing that perhaps she had failed in courtesy, she added, 
" I think flower shows the prettiest, but decidedly the 
most fatiguing form of entertainment you have in Eng- 
land. It is, I should imagine, the constant strain of 
attention in looking at so many brilliant colors." 

" I always find picture galleries very fatiguing, " said 
her grace. " But, my dear Valentine, I do not think you 
fatigued yourself much with the flowers to-day. I fancied 
you were with Bertrand by the river for a long time." 

" Now," she thought to herself, " if there be anything 
in it here is an opening, and she will tell me." 

But Lady Valentine was silent ; the duchess took 
courage. 

" You must have been there quite an hour and a half," 
said the duchess. " What where you talking about, 
Valentine?" 

No flush crimsoned her face ; the duchess would have 
taken courage had it been so ; but the pale, quiet fac» 
told no story. 

" We talked about many things," she replied, quietly. 
*' The duke was tellii\g me of his early l£te, and abotti 
Bood Castl«.* 



174 ' THE duke's secret. 

She did not know all the ring had gone from her Toice, 
nor how dispirited and melancholy it was. The duchess 
looked up quietly. 

" He had said nothing to her, and she is disappointed," 
was the idea that occurred to her. She had but faint 
hope now, and her next question showed her that *11 
further inquiry was vain. 

"And among all the nice things he has said about 
Kood Castle, or anything else, is there nothing to tell 
me ?" she asked, half laughingly, but with every sense on 
the alert. 

" I think not," said the girl, slowly. " What a lovely 
river the Thames is. I should like to go from one end 
to the other of it, and have time to note all the different 
scenery on its banks." 

From which abrupt change of subject the duchess very 
naturally inferred that her ward did not care to continue 
the conversation. 

From that day a change came over Lady Valentine. 
The duchess noticed it. 

She did not grow thin and pale, but she lost a little of 
the brilliant bloom that had been so vivid. She lost 
some of the sweet sunny laughter that had made music 
in the house; she never now asked the duke to go out 
with her, lamented his absence, or longed for his presence 
in words. At times the beautiful violet eyes wooed him 
to her side, and the Duchess of Castlemayne began to 
wonder if she could by any possibility have been mis- 
taken. They were together very often; they seemed to 
have endless conversations, but she saw no signs that 
they were lovers. She resolved to say no more; words 
were quite useless. 

One morning, when the duke came down to breakfast, 
his mother seemed unusually interested. She was read- 
ing one of the society journals, and said to him, as he 
took his seat : 

"Have you heard of this American beauty, Ber- 
trand?" 

" No," he replied. " I do not remember " 

"Listen to what the 'Planet' sa3S." 

The "Planet" was her grace's favorite paper, its go»- 
sip was of the right kind of people, its criticisms refined, 
its reports were always corr«ct, il contained news that 



THE DUKE'S SECKET. 175 

»o other paper could get, from sources no other paper 
had. The " Planet " was the favorite journal of the upper 
classes, and no one like it better than the Duchess of 
Castlemayne. She read the following paragraph, to 
•which the duke and Lady Valentine paid great atten- 
tion : 

"Debut op a Great Americas Heibess. 

*' At the drawing-room, yesterday, the great American 
heiress. Miss Glynton, made her debut. She was pre- 
sented by the Marchioness of "Weedale ; her wonderfid 
beauty, her elegant and exquisite toilet, and her superb 
parure of diamonds, attracted much attention." 

" That speaks weU for America," said the duchess, " now 
see what else they have to say." She read on: 

" That the Duchess of Xorthshire had given a ball after 
the drawing-room, and there was quite a crush. Miss 
Glynton, the great American heiress, was the great attrac- 
tion, her marvelous beauty had taken the world by sur- 
prise. She was not at aU the American type, rather Eng- 
Hsh than otherwise, but a gem rarely seen. The ' Planet' 
predicts for this wonderfully beautiful woman a grand 
•areer." 

In another part of the same journal was a short biog- 
raphy of Mr, Hardress Glynton, the American millionaire, 
•ho was also of quite a different type from the ordinary 
ene. He had been most wonderfully successful in life, but 
he had not begun with the proverbial pick and hammer; 
he was evidently an educated man, and there was some 
Blight Tumor that he was by birth an EngHshman. He 
had not, as American millionaires so often do, ' struck ile;' 
his vast fortune was supposed to come from a silver mine. 
He had purchased a vast tract of land in America which 
he intended to make into cattle farms, but it proved of far 
greater value than that. A sUver mine was discovered 
upon it, and the working of that mine made him one of 
the richest men in the world. He was a widower — " a 
fortunate thing for him," interrupted the duchess — and 
had brought his only daughter to spend a few years in 
Europe. 

Of the wonderful beauty of this only daughter enough 
could not be said. Mr. Glynton was still in the prime of 
life, and it was just possible that he might marry; but vt 



17S THE duke's SECEET. 

any case, Miss Glynton \fouldbo one of the richest heiresses 
in the world. 

The " Planet " had more than that \,o tell ; the million- 
aii'e bad purchased the magnificent mansion in St. Jamea 
Park, built by a rich foreigner, a house so large, so mag- 
nificent in its style and decoration that royal palaces paled 
before it. There was a massive staircase made of silver, 
the marble and jasper were of the finest; money had been 
as dross in the building of that superb mansion— was as 
dross to the man who purchased it. Why he called it 
Brook House no one felt quite sure, nor did he ever say, 
but he had made it one of the most magnificent mansions 
in England. It seemed as though the whole world had 
been searched for treasures; they came from India, Japan, 
China — from America, from east, west, north, south. A 
visit to Brook House was worth going to England for, it 
contained so many treasures. Mr. Glynton hud been stay- 
ing in Paris while this superb establishment was prepared 
for him, and had only occupied it for a few weeks. 

" It reads like a romance," said Lady Valentine. 

Another paragraph was devoted to the statues at Brook 
House ; such horses and,carriages had never been equaled ; 
no money and no trouble had been spared. 

Then the " Planet" gave one of its most amusing chap- 
ters on the subject of millionaires in general, and this one 
in particular, with many speculations as to why, in the 
order of providence, it was appointed that one man should 
have so much money he could not spend one-twentieth 
part of it — let him Hve as he would — while others died for 
want of food. Then it went on in the pleasant discussive 
■way common to it to describe what generally happened to 
millionaires, how their daughters married the oldest titles, 
ending by a description of Miss Glynton, and a prophecy 
that she would reign as the most beautiful woman in Eng- 
land, 

" I should Uke to see her," said the duchess. " I must 
say that I admire really beautiful women, but there are so 
few." 

" My dear mother," laughed the duke, " that is not a 
very gallant speech. I hope it is not very true." 

"My dear son, it is true enough," said the duchess. 
Long as I have been in the world, I have not really seen 
tnore than three or four perfectly beautiful women. There 



THE duke's secret. 177 

are hundreds and thousands of pretty, comely, pleasant 
women, but perfect beauty of face, figure and manner, is 
difficult to meet with. If this Glynton is what the ' Planet' 
says, I should like to see her. " 

" You must look to your laurels. Lady Valentine," said 
the duke. 

"I am willing enough to share them," she replied. "I 
never had any ambition for being a beauty." 

" Then you are a beauty without ambition," he retorted. 

" Valentine has nothing to fear," said the duchess. 
** Her style of beauty is her own, and I venture to say 
that it is unequaled. Miss Glynton will be no rival of 
hers. Valentme has all the freshness of a girl. Miss 
Glynton seems to have the charm of a magnificent woman- 
hood. Most people prefer the brilliant beauty of youth." 

" I should not care to have the beauty of all lovely 
women put together," said Valentine, with a deep sigh ; 
" I should not know what to do with it." 

The Duchess answered : 

"Do with it, my dear child ! You maybe quite sure of 
one thing — beauty is one of the great leading powers of 
the world. The ' Planet ' would not have devoted three 
whole pages to Miss Glynton if she had not had a beau- 
tiful face as well as a heavy purse." 

"Are we going to LadyHurdall's ball to-night?" asked 
the duke ; " if so, we shall see this famous beauty. The 
* Age ' says that she will be there, and that the whole 
fashionable world are wild to behold her." 

"Yes, we will go," said the duchess. I must say that I 
feel some degree of ciiriosity. The * Planet ' would not 
say all this for nothing." 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

WHAT THE "PLAHET" SAID. 

Bbooe House was one of the wonders of London. Ther« 
is no other place in the wide world where so much 
luxury and magnificence is displayed in private houses as 
in London — even where the exterior looks dark and unin- 
viting the interior is splendid. Brook House stood quit© 
by itself ; it was unique — there was nothing like it even 
in London. One millionaire had built it, another had 
furnished and decorated it; the pictures, statues, bronzei^ 



178 THE duke's SEORIT. 

the buhl and marquetry, the priceless chma, the gol<3 
and silver, and thick, soft carpet, the luxurious furniture, 
the exquisite flowers made it an earthly paradise. 

In the smallest of the superb suite of drawing-rooms — 
a beautiful apartment known as the rose room — sat the 
mistress of that superb establishment, the most beautiful 
woman in Europe, the wearer of the purest diamonds in 
England, one of the wealthiest heiresses in the world. 
She had been reading the "Planet," and was much 
amused at the description of herself. 

" It could not have been more minute," she said to her- 
self, " if I had been photographed. 1 do not think there 
is anything in America that ran equal this." 

The more she read the more she laughed. 

"If I am not famous throughout England it will not 
be the 'Planet's ' fault " said Miss Glynton. 

No words could have exaggerated her beauty. It was 
almost divine, it was rather the beauty of a goddess th*tn 
of a coquette — grand, serene, calm. Words are powerless 
to describe it ; she was tall and slender, her figure so 
perfect in its grace and symmetry, so gracious in its lines 
and curves, so faultless that the eye followed in amaze- 
ment. 

A slender, proud throat, a beautiful head, proudly set, 
sloping shoidders, hands and arms that were perfect ; 
she had golden hair, fine, soft and abundant, with eyes 
blue and clear as the water of an Italian lake, the dark, 
straight brows of a Greek goddess. And the loveliest 
red mouth that ever smiled or sighed ; gorgeous beauty, 
such as the old masters loved to immortalize, the com- 
plexion fair and pure, the sure sign of grand physical 
health ; the bright, clear eyes, the fresh, sweet lips, the 
lovely bloom on her face, were all signs of magnificent 
health, that in itself was the greatest of all blessings. 

Yet that was, as it were, only the beginning of the won- 
drous beauty that had set all Europe talking. In Bome, 
Florence, Vienna, Paris and London, she had been pro- 
claimed queen by right of her beauty. 

It was when one came to study that perfect face that 
its strange, haunting loveliness became apparent — the 
tenderness, the passion that was in it. Something 
brooded In the blue eyes. Was n pain or pleasure, hate 
or ioY« ? Tkej told a story that no one quite understood. 



THE duke's secret. Vt^ 

The CTirres of her lips -when she smiled were full of some 
sweet mystery. They said she had aU the warmth of ten- 
derness and passion in her flower-like face. 

When she was reading the " Planet," a smile of amuse- 
ment curving her proud, sweet lips, a gentleman entered 
the room. She looked at him smilingly. 

"Uacle Hardress, would you read your destiny and 
mine ? See what becomes of millionaires and their 
daughters. See what a brilliant lot is prophesied for me; 
positively, if I behave well, I may be promoted to marry 
a British peer." 

" I wonder, pet," he said^ " why you dislike British 
peers so much ? " 

"I have more respect, I believe, for British geese," she 
replied. " Read this, uncle; I must have been quite mis- 
taken. I really thought America was the only country 
where peopl were interviewed and described in this 
fashion at full length." 

"My dear," said the gentleman, solemnly, "that is not 
the only way in which you have misjudged America." 

He sat down and took the journal from her hands. 

" Ah, so rumor kindly whispers that I am an English- 
man," he said, " and that you are more of the English than 
the American type. Rumor is good at guessing. My dear 
pet " — that was his name for her — " I must first remind you 
of one thing; you expressed a desire to pass as my daughter 
here in Europe, did you not ?" 

"Yes, certainly I did; I have a reason for it." 

"Then you must not call me Uncle Hardress; it will not 
do at all. Even one servant or one person hearing it, 
would at once spread a rumor of something wrong, and 
you know what a suspicious world we hve in. You must 
be careful " 

"I will; I must always say papa — and indeed no father 
oould be so kind to his child as you are to me." 

"No daughter could be more loving or more attentive 
than you are to me," he replied. 

" I will practice all to-day," she said. " I will make a 
point of calling you papa every time I speak to you." 

"I have often wondered," he said, "why you choose 
rather to be thought my daughter than knowL -o be my 
niece." 

**Ii IM better in <)Tezy way/' she replied, eTaahre]|7. 



180 THE DUKE'S SECRBt. 

"Now read what the 'Planet' says about us, and let ni 
compare notes." 

He read on: 

"He was a fine-looking man, this fortunate being who 
owned a silver mine ; he did not in the least degree re- 
semble the typical millionaire. He was neither short nor 
vulgar; he had no very decided American accent; he spoke 
well, made no mistake in his grammar. He was gentlemanly, 
refined, and inteUigent ; he was even more than that— - 
he was generous, benevolent, and kind; he did an im- 
mense deal of good with his vast fortune. How many 
people had to thank him for tho timely aid which, when 
rightly given, lead? to forturx * how many orphan children 
had he saved from the street..; how many poor children 
had he rescued from poverty and educated; how many 
voices were raised to bless him whom his country now 
called Hardress B. Glynton. 

" In his face there is a faint resemblance to that of Miss 
Glynton — a family likeness that is yet no likeness. He had 
dark, keen eyes, a dark beard, and dark hair. No one 
could be in the same room with him for five minutes with- 
out seeing that his very life was vnrapped up in that of the 
beautiful woman who called him papa." 

" What do you think of it, papa ?" she asked; " are yon 
amused, angry, surprised, indifferent, or what ?" 

" A little of all," he repHed; " we all know how fierce is 
the light that beats upon a throne, so that the penalty a 
man like myself pays is publicity. We have come to Lon- 
don for society, pet, and we must bear what society has 
to say of us. I never imagined that you would make so 
great a sensation in this select and exclusive court, 
although I believe you to be the most beautiful woman of 
your time, my love." 

She was looking through the window at the blue sky ; 
there was a world of romance and poetry in those lovely 
eyes — of mystery silent and sweet that no one could 
understand. 

"Have you thought," she said "whether you shall 
remain in England, or whether you will return to the 
land of the ' Stars and Stripes '? " 

"All my future will depend on yoiirs," he replied. 
" Bitherto our little bark has floated on steadily, and Wf 



THB duke's SE<3RET. 181* 

kaive aroided all shoals and rocks, but there is the great 
IrooK of matrimony ahead of us yet." 

She went over to him and laid her fair arms around his 
neck, and kissed him. 

"There will be no such rock for me," she said; "you 
know that I shall never marry." 

"Nonsense, my dear," he replied, with a hearty laugh; 
" the handsomest woman in Europe — so the papers say, 
and I swear the most lovable one, to talk of never mar- 
rying. I guarantee that you make the best match of 
the day yet." 

" No; I shall live vpith you always, and take care of you 
when you are iU, and together we will make such mag- 
nificent plans for disposing of your money, that the whole 
world shall bless your name." 

He laughed again. 

"You amuse me always, pet, when you talk in that 
fashion. You will marry, and I should not wonder at all 
if you marry your favorite aversion — a British peer." 

"I am quite sure that I shall not," she answered, 
quickly, with a hot flush on her fair face. " We will not 
quarrel, papa; time will show which is right." 

" Quarrel, my beautiful darling," cried the millionaire, 
" nay, that we shall never do ; but I wonder often what 
gives you this tinge of melancholy, this strange idea about 
not marrying." 

" I am not one of those who think that the only happy 
life is the married life," she repKed. 

" But that is unnatural," he cried, " every girl wants, or 
ought to want, to get married." 

" Yes," she replied, gently, " that is just the mistake. I 
am not a girl, you know, papa, with an untried life before 
me. I am a woman with most bitter experience: to me 
the haven of rest is — not marriage." 

The clear hght glowed in her beautiful eyes, and over 
her face an expression that always bewildered him. He 
bent down and kissed the beautiful face raised to 
him. 

" You shall be married or single," he said, " or jual 
what you will ; the only thing I want is to see you happy, 
pet. I have not another wish on earth. If a British peer 
should take your fancy and you marry him, you vill make 
tiCa tht wsalthiest and happiest of peers, li yoa wish t<> 



182 THE duke's secret. 

Bpend the rest of jour life with me, I will l»e father, 
mother, and everything else to you. Be happy; that is all 
I wish. They say you are the best- dressed woman in 
London, and that you wear the finest diamonds ; is there 
anything else you want ? " 

" No," she answered ; " you have been so liberal, so 
generous, so munificent to me, I do not believe that I have 
a wish unfulfilled in the wide world — not one." 

" That is right, pet ; now let us leave the future for 
the present Have you looked through your invitation 
cards ? Where are you going ? " 

"I shall go first to Mrs. Grey's ; she made me promise. 
Then I thought of going to Lady Hurdale's. I like her ; 
she is a nice, unafiected woman." 

" That is well," said Mr. Glynton. " I shall arrange my 
day accordingly. Pet, order some dozen copies of the 
* Planet.' We will send them to our American friends. 
I wonder what John B. Hutton will say ?'* 

CHAPTER XXX. 

THX BXLIiB or THB BALL. 

There was not a more luxuriously furnished room in 
England than the dressing-room of the great heiress, 
Miss Glynton. She stood there now herself, the most 
beautiful object where all was beautiful. The wealth of 
a nation seemed to have been lavished there; the carpet 
was of velvet pile, so thick and soft, it was a luxury even 
to walk over it; the hangings were all of white silk, re- 
lieved by golden fringe; the few pictures that hung on 
the walls were of inestimable value. A marble Flora 
stood encircled by crimson flowers; the toilet table was 
one mass of costly glass and silver. A few flowers per- 
fumed the air. One caught glimpses of velvet from 
Genoa, of silk from Lyons, of laces worth a king's ransom, 
of jewels fitted for an empress. No luxury that women 
love was absent from the room. She was ready dressed 
for the ball; and some caprice had induced her to dress 
with imusual elegance. Mr, Glynton was right when he 
called her the best-dressed woman in London; she would 
have made any dress beautiful. To-night she wore & 
pQBtume of wlwte y«lyet and whit« filS, traa»«scl witfc 



THE duke's SECBIT. 183 

beautiful sprays of hawthorn, and with it she wor« a 
par lire of diamonds. 

The beautiful head with its hawthorn crown, in which 
diamonds were skillfully interwoven, the rich brown hair, 
with its gleam of gold ; the grand face, the blue eyes, with 
iheir slumbering passion and mystery ; the whole neck 
and shoulders shining like white satin, the hands and arms 
fair as a sculptor's dream, made up a picture not to be for- 
gotten. The exquisite dress fell in the most graceful folds 
around her. A woman to drive men mad with her superb, 
passionate beauty, yet never looking hke a woman who was 
to be wooed and won. 

" You have forgotten nothing, Lucy ?" said Miss Glyn- 
ton, and the maid took from the toilet table two tiny, 
dainty rosettes — a twist of hawthorn with a diamond in 
each. Miss Glynton held out a beautiful foot, perfect in 
shape, with dainty slippers that matched her dress. 

" I have forgotten to stitch on these rosettes," she said. 

While Lucy was busy over it. Miss Glynton stood quite 
still, a fire burning in the silver grate, and she was watch- 
ing the flame ; suddenly the grand calm of her beautiful 
statuesque face was broken, a sudden flame Ut up the 
splendor of her eyes, her red mouth quivered. 

" It might be to-night," she said to herself — " and if it 
be, will the Heavens faU ?" 

There was something half of impatience, half of scorn in 
the gesture with which she turned from the fire and took 
the dainty wrapper that the maid held. 

•" To-night or to-morrow, this year or next, what will it 
matter ?" 

She stood for a few minutes before the great mirror 
and looked earnestly at her beautiful reflection. It was 
the gaze of a woman measuring her own power. She 
looked long and earnestly, and the smile that came over 
her face was one of security. 

Mr. Glynton was waiting for her. 

He gave one keen, comprehensive glance at her toilet. 

"It is perfect," he said. "No one has your taste ic 
dressing, pet, ' and then they went off to the ball. 

It was wonderful to see the zest with which the mil- 
lionaire entered the gayeties of the great world — balls, 
dinner parties, concerts, all came alike to him } he ea- 



184 THB DUKX'S SIOSIT. 

joyed them all with the zest of youth ; it was for iliifl 
that he came to Europe — why not enjoy it ? 

He had not decidedly said to himself that he would not 
marry ; he left the matter to chance ; if some high-born, 
beautiful woman fell in love with him, or insisted on mar- 
rying him, why, of course he must yield, and it was very 
pleasant — so he told himself — to be sought after and ad- 
mired. He understood why grand ladies with marriageable 
daughters sent him such urgent invitations, and were so 
eager to accept his. He was not an old man — hardly in the 
prime of life — and he knew that he would be considered 
one of the best matches in the land; and that these patri- 
cian matrons would give the fairest and youngest of their 
daughters to him, the famous millionaire. Therefore he 
enjoyed balls and parties with the zest of a young man. 

" If ever I marry," he would say at times, to Miss Glyn- 
ton, "it will make no difference to you; you shall always 
have a fortune that a duke might envy." 

She was quite willing; the fact of his marriage could 
not in the least degree have displeased her. She loved 
him well enough to think of his happiness before anything 
else. 

" I believe," she said, with a charming smile, " that you 
enjoy these things better than I do." 

"It is quite possible," he said, with a quiet smile. 
" When the Duchess of Queenom began to tell me yester- 
day, that her daughter Lady Almira adored America and 
the Americans, I enjoyed it. I have never been in the 
great world before, but it seems to me I have a perfect 
imderstanding of the ways of these fine ladies, and they 
tunuse me. I see through them so plainly. Then I really 
enjoy all the gayeties; they are new to me — at least with 
this class of people." 

Then the carriage stopped, and after some minutes of 
patient waiting Mr. and Miss Glynton found themselves 
bowing to Lady Teesdale, who, magnificently attired, 
stood in the large drawing-room to receive her guests. 
She was most courteous and bland to the great luillionaire 
— so dehghted to see him — thought it was so kind of him 
to attend her ball; he must be so besieged with invita- 
tions. She was the more delighted as she had promised 
■o many introductions to him. 
^ She w«0 equally delighted to see Miss Glynton. Th0 



THB duke's SHOBIT. 185 

three talked for some few minutes, and then they passed 
on to make room for other distinguished guests. In the 
crowded ball-room, where that night the most beautiful 
of women were gathered, Miss Grlynton was the belle. 
People were raving about her; it was not the ordinary 
style of ball-room beauty, dashing or fast ; the woman 
was a goddess or queen of beauty, and men worshipped 
her as such. The mystery and fashion of her beauty 
attracted them; the calm of the grand face, contrasting 
with the eloquence and passion of the blue eyes, be- 
wildered them. 

There was the usual class of people present — a royal 
duke who seldom missed one of Lady Teesdale's balls, an 
Austrian prince on his travels, ttn Austrian arch-duke, 
German princes, French seigneurs, British peers, from 
his grace the Duke of Buckland to the baronet whose 
title died with him. The " Guards " were well represented 
and every celebrity of London of a certain class was 
there. The beautiful heiress made a great sensation. 
Over a young girl they would have spoken out their 
thoughts, called her beautiful or not its suited their tastes; 
but of this woman they said little; she seemed above 
ordinary criticism, above the ordinary rules by which the 
fairest women are judged. 

They admired her, but it was not in a familiar fashion; 
there was something in her grand calm beauty that awed 
and impressed even while it attracted; every one con- 
trived to see her, the ladies admired her as much as the 
gentlemen. No one had a word against her; she was 
neither vain, coquettish or given to flirting; she received 
all the homage offered to her with grand, serene calm, 
yet there was something'in her eyes that made the hearts 
of men beat faster as they looked at her — something more 
than beauty. 

She became at once the center of attraction. 

The English royal duke asked for an introduction and a 
dance; the Austrian the same; and many, who knew of 
the lady's vast wealth, thought it not at all unlikely that 
the American heiress might become a princess herself. 

But no homage flattered her; peers and princes could 
gay what they would. 

As she stood up for the second dance, every eye in the 
room was upon h«r; the great chaadelier above her head 



18$ THE duke's secret. 

poured down a flood of golden light, whicli fell full on 
the fair, grand face, the costly white dress and priceless 
gems. Hor beauty was startling as she stood there, the 
duke talking to her, she listening with a half smile on 
her face. 

Then Uarry Bellairs, son and heir of Sir Tracy Bellairs, 
known as the "Handsome Guardsman," came to remind 
her that the next dance was hia 

They walked through the ball-room, the long suite of 
reception rooms were thrown open and brilliantly lighted; 
they went into the large drawing-room where one of Gor- 
goni's finest pictures hung; Handsome Harry considered 
that he was a fine judge of paintings, and had taken Miss 
Glynton to see this, which was considered the gem of the 
collection. 

Miss Glynton had more than the average taste for fine 
arts. She had seen some of the finest galleries in Europe, 
and could discourse most entei-tainingly on the subject of 
pictures. 

While they stood before it, Miss Glynton knew that a 
fresh party of guests had arrived. The sweet silvery 
sound of a girl's voice reached her ear; at the same 
moment Handsome Harry turned suddenly and looked 
through the long suite of rooms. Miss Glynton saw the 
enijy of two ladies, accompanied by a gentleman. Then 
came a sigh of relief from the handsome guardsman. 

"You are a judge of pictures, Mis3 Glynton," he said; 
"so you should be of the beauty of the human face; here 
is ouo I think perfection." 

She looked down the room and saw a tall, beautiful girl 
in a white dress trimmed with leaves. She smiled as her 
eyes fell on the fair face. 

" Who is it?" she asked, kindly. 

" The Lady Valentine Arden," he replied. 

"You forget that I am a novice in London society,** she 
said. " Who is Lady "Valentine Arden ? She is exqrds- 
itely lovely, but who is she?" 

" The only daughter and heiress of the Earl of Arden," 
he answered ; " her father has been an invalid for many 
years, and lives at Nice — he sent bis daughter to Eng- 
land ; she has soon become one of the idols of the fash- 
ionable world. Look at her face. Have you seen aB.T« 
thing more b«autif ul ? " 



THE duee's segbet. 187 

CHAPTEE XXXL 

MISS aLYNTON INTEBESTED. 

** Shb is very beautiful," said Miss Glyton thoughtfully, 
and then she smiled to herself as she thought that cer- 
tainly handsome Harry Bellairs wore his heart on his 
sleeve. If he had told her a thousand times over that he 
was deeply in love with Lady Valentine Arden, it would 
not have been plainer to her than it was now. 

" How fresh and young she looks," said Miss Glynton. 
"' I think you are quite right. Captain Bellairs, I have 
seen nothing like her in Londo*'. 

" That is what I like, but selr'om hear," he cried, " one 
beautiful woman praising ano+her. Our rival beauties 
are — or have been — Mrs. Trelawney and Mrs. Dulwich ; 
they are very gushing to each other ; they never meet 
without embraces and very loving words, yet they never 
admire each other. Mrs. Dulwich finds a hundred faults 
with Mrs. Trelawney, which no one else ever sees, and 
vice versa." 

" It is a difficult matter," said Miss Glynton, smiHng ; 
" these two ladies are rival beauties ; Lady Valentino 
Arden and myself could never be rivals." 

"Why not?" he asked. 

" She must be some years younger than I am," was the 
answer, " and I do not suppose the same kind of peopl* 
would ever like us." 

" I am not so sure of that," he replied. 

Then Miss Glynton startled him by turning to him 
quite suddenly. 

" Who are that lady and gentleman with Lady Valen- 
tine?" 

"The Duke and Duchess of Castlemayne," he repHed. 

Then he looked up again in utmost wonder, for a sud- 
den and terrible shock seemed to have passefl over the 
beautiful woman at his side. For one half moment he 
thought she would fall dead at his feet ; her face became 
very white, the jeweled fan fell from her hands, and it 
seemed to him that her whole frame trembled from head 
to foot, swayed for a moment as though she would falii 
iad then became rigidly erect 



188 THE duke's secret. 

He saw that she clutched the back of a chair that stood 
near to save herself from falling. 

He looked at her in the utmost alarm; but in one minute 
she had recovered herself — before he had time io note 
what had happened, she was herself again. 

" Are you ill, Miss Glynton ? " he cried, faintly. " Pray 
let me get you a chair, while I go for a glass of wine." 

" No," she said in a quiet, low voice, " I am well now, 
do not leave me." 

But she spoke with white, quivering lips. She was her- 
self again — upright, dignified, and graceful; but the color 
did not return to her face, and he looked anxiously at her. 
In reply to his look, for he said no words, she said : 

" I assure you that I do not even need a glass of water." 

" I would beHeve you. Miss Glynton," he said ; " if 
there was any color in your face ; but while you look so 
white, I really can not." 

She tried to smile, but he saw that her lips quivered. 

"I have had the same pain before," she said; " it is like 
a sharp, sudden stab through the heart, and dies away 
slowly. I should imagine that many people, even the 
strongest, have it." 

"Are you strong?" he asked. 

And his manner was so gentle and so kind it pleased 
her. 

" Yas," she replied, "perfectly strong." 

By that time he had picked up the fan and she had 
taken it. She laid the feathers against her white breast, 
and no stir of the rich plumage told of the emotion 
within. 

" I was asking you who were Lady Valentine's compan- 
ions ?" she said. 

And again his longing, lingering glance went to the 
fair young face. 

" The Duke and the Duchess of Castlemayne," he re- 
peated. 

And at this time, though a cold shudder seemed to pass 
over the beautiful figure, she neither trembled nor shrunk. 

" Lady Valentine is the ward or protegee of the duch- 
ess," be continued; "or rather, if I would express myself 
in the language of tociety, I should say that the duchesi 
chaperons her." 



THE dues' S SEGBET. 189 

•* Does she live with them ?" asked Misa Glynton, in a 
somewhat disconnected fashion. 

" Yes ; the family are staying at Mayne House now. 
She is to remain with them, I beheve, some years. I, for 
one, hope it is so." 

There was no mistaking the fervor of his voice. Miss 
Glynton smiled lightly as she thought to herself how 
plainly his secret was read. 

" And the duke," she said, " is he married ?" 

There was a hush in her voice, a solemnity, as though 
she was speaking in the shadow of a cathedral aisle. 

" Married ? Oh, no," he replied. " People call him a 
woman-hater. I do not know why." 

" Because he hates women, I should imagine," she re- 
pHed; but the light in her eyes, their troubled, passion- 
ate beauty belied the lightness of her words. 

" Why he should hate them, I do not know. A man had 
far better hate the flowers and the sunlight than hate 
women. The world would be a lonely desert without 
them." 

" Has some woman been cruel to him do you think ? " 
she asked, and there was still the same solemn hush about 
her voice. 

" I have never heard it. On the contrary, I have always 
heard that he disliked and avoided the society of ladies." 

" There must be some reason for it," she repeated. 

" There may be, but, if so, he keeps it entirely to him- 
self. I am quite sure no one knows it." 

" Is he nked ? " she asked, abruptly; " is he popular ? " 

" The Duke of Castlemayne ? Yes, I should say one of 
the most popular men in England. I have never met 
man, woman or child who did not like him. He is a mag- 
nificent man, but every one is puzzled that he neither 
flirts, falls in love nor marries like other men." 

" It is strange," she says, with the light deepening in 
those splendid eyes. 

Handsome Harry, finding that the topic pleased her, 
went on: 

*' The Duchess of Castlemayne is considered the hand- 
somest, proudest, most haughty, and altogether the most 
magnificent matron in England. You see what a superb 
woman she is." 

Again that singular shudder came over Miss Glynton, 



190 THE duke's secret. 

as though a cold wind had rushed by. She looked in th« 
direction he had indicated, and her eyes fell on the grand 
beauty which, for a quarter of a century, had been the 
admiration of aU England. Again the light deepened in 
her eyes. 

"Yes," she said, slowly; " she is very grand, very beauti- 
ful and stately, but she looks hard and cold." 

" She is that; no one harder, or colder, or more ambi- 
tious. You may imagine. Miss Glynton, what a mortifica- 
tion it must be to her that her son does not marry." 

"It may be a sorrow," said Miss Glynton; " but why 
should it be a mortification ?" 

" I am afraid you will think me a gossip," he said; " but 
i Bee the subject interests you, and all London society 
knows what I am telHng you. To the Ducheea of Castle- 
mayne her son's dislike to ladies and aversion to marriage 
are the most terrible troubles in the world." 

" But why ?" persisted IVIiss Glynton. " Why ?" 

" I will tell you. Most beautiful women are rivals, and 
when she was quite young the duchess had a great rival in 
the present Lady Everleigh ; they married distant kins- 
men, and it so happens that if the duke dies without a son 
and heir to succeed him, that the son of Lady Everleigh 
win take his place, and the knowledge of this is gall and 
wormwood to the proud duchess. She detests Lady Ever- 
leigh, but — you are ill again." 

She stirred the perfumed air with her fan. 

" No ; I am not ; this room is much cooler than tha 
drawing-room. I am quite well." 

Yet she averted her face lest he should see its trembling 
and pallor. 

"For many years past," he continued, "the whole fash- 
ionable world lias been interested in this matter. Lately 
the interest has deepened because the duchess has seemed 
so bitter against Lady Everleigh, and because the duke 
has been more attentive to Lady Arden than he has ever 
been to any one else. 

Society watches the struggle with very interested and 
Tery amused eyes." 

She drew a deep breath that died on her lips like a sigh. 

"I understand," she said, slowly. "I see, and the 
duehess fears that Lady Everleigh will lie the wijuier ix 
i^ rae«," 



*HE duke's secret. 191 

There was something iu her voice that startled him ; 
ke did not know whether it was triumph, or simple 
wonder, but it made him look at her more attentively 
than he had done before. What passion lay under that 
grand calm, shone in the blue eyes, and quivered in the 
musical voice. 

" Yes, she has evidently feared that for some time," 
said Handsome Harry. Why does not the duke marry 
as aU other dukes do ? But I fancy there is .more chance 
of it now than there ever has been." 

Her blue eyes sought his, and it seemed to him that 
her very glance was a command. 

" Why now ? " she asked. 

"He has seemed lately to pay so much attention to 
Lady Valentine. I knew that lately the duchess was in 
very high spirits, and seemed under the impression that 
there was something between the duke and her ward. 
But I do not think so. He is very kind and attentive to 
her, naturally enough; she is his mother's ward. I have 
seen nothing like love on his side. He is a very handsome 
man. Any girl might like him. 

She was watching the little group with a curious, in- 
tent gaze, so silently that he could have imagined she 
had ceased to breathe — a long, steady, unfaltering gaze. 
His eyes following hers, admitted that it was a brilliant 
group to watch. The duchess and Lady Teesdale were 
talking. Lady Valentine and the duke stood together 
before a magnificent jardiniere, and she was evidently 
admiring the superb hyacinths it contained. 

"What do you think of the duke ?" asked the handsome 
guardsman, for he saw that her eyes lingered longest and 
most earnestly on him. 

She paused for a few minutes, evidently afraid to trust 
herself; th«en she said, with that strange thrill of passion 
in her voice : 

" What should I think of him ? He is very handsome 
and very aristocratic; but I should say that he stands in 
awe of her grace, the duchess." 

Captain Bellairs laughed. 

" Burnor says so, and adds that he has been ia leading" 
Btrings all his life" 

She turned awt^. 



192 THE duke's SEOBEX. 

" We Lave given time enough to them," she continued. 
"Show me some more pictures, Captain Bellairs." 

Nor would she renew the conversation. It was to be 
observed after that, that when people talked of the great 
American beauty and heiress, the handsome guardsman 
'#08 wonderfully silent. 

CHAPTER XXXn. 

A FAMILIAB FACB. 

The Duchess of Castlemayne was always seen at her best 
at one of these grand balls; her very presence gave an air 
of distinction to the rooms; then her courtly grace and dis- 
tinguished manner completed the charms. Every ball- 
giving lady made an eifort to get the duchess to her ball, 
but few succeeded, but those few made a great success. 
No member of the royal family was more populai-, more 
sougnt after, or more honored than the Duchess of Castle- 
mayne. 

Lady Teesdale had a few minutes leisure ; most of her 
guests had arrived, most of them were happily engaged, 
and she enthroned herself with the duchess on a sofa of 
crimson velvet. The duke, to the wonder of all beholderi, 
had tuken Lady Valentine to join the quadrille. 

The duchess opened the conversation by asking: 

" Have you the Americans here to-night?" 

" You mean Mr. and Miss Glynton ? Yes; they are hart. 
I may think myself honored by their coming; I have been 
told their invitations are so numerous that it takes their 
secretary many hours each day to answer them." 

" Probably," said her grace, with a quiet smile. " I 
suppose there are few men in Enj^^land with more money." 

" I should think," said Lady Teesdale, " that he stands 
alone ! " 

" What is the lady like ? " asked the duchess. ". li 
the 'Planet' may be believed, she is something quite 
above ordinary beauties." 

" You will see for yourself," said Lady Teesdale. " She 
is here this evening, and I must confess that in all my life 
I have seen no creature one-half so beautiful. Would you 
like me to introduce her to you ? " 

" I will see what she is like ^si/' said her grace, ea«- 
tioualj. 



THE DUEE*S SECRET. 193 

Presently, among the fair and glittering throng, she 
«aw one lady somewhat taller and more stately than the 
rest, with a magnificent face and figure, and a superb 
dress of white velvet and silk, exquisitely trimmed with 
hawthorn and a parure of diamonds that were priceless. 
She moved with such grace and elegance, she was so per- 
fect in harmony and beauty, that the Duchess of Castle- 
mayne looked after her in wonder. 

" Who is that magnificent woman in the white velvet." 
she said, " with Captain Bellairs ? " 

'* That is the American beauty," repHed Lady Teesdale 
— ^just a little delighted that anything at her balls should 
attract the duchess — " Miss Glynton. She looks like an 
empress, does she not ? " 

" There are few empresses, I think, who have had a 
face or fortune like that. Will you introduce her to me ?** 

Lady Teesdale looked delighted. 

"Certainly; and I assure jon that you will admire her 
much more when you know her than you do now — her 
mind is as charming as her face." 

"The duchess looked thoughtfully at the brilliant 
American. 

"I must have seen her before," she said; "her face is 
quite familiar to me, yet I can not remember where." 

" It is more than probable," said Lady Teesdale, " that 
you have seen her in the Kow or at £he opera." 

" No ; I can not remember that. Now I look longer at 
her I fancy that I am mistaken. I have seen a face like 
hers, but where I can not recall. But I am much inter- 
ested in your new beauty, and I should like to know her." 

One more faint hope crossed her mind. Her son was, 
ehe believed, the most fastidious of men; even with the 
fresh, fair young loveliness of Lady Valentine he had 
failed to love, perhaps with the magnificent beauty of 
this grand woman he might be charmed. It would suit 
him, perhaps because it was rather of a goddess than of 
a woman. It was only a solitary hope — still it entered 
her heart. 

It was nearly half an hour after that expressed wish 
of her grace before Lady Teesdale could find her way 
to the LGa.ity's side. Then she found Miss Glynton sur- 
roui;ded by admirers^ and she had some difficulty i& 
speaking; to her. 



Id4 THE DtTK£'s nmaxt, 

" The Duchess of Castlemayne is very anxious for atk 
introduction to you, Miss Glynton," she said. 

The beautiful woman flung back her fair head with a 
gesture that made the light quiver in her diamonds ; then 
she paused for a moment to recover herself. 

" The Duchess of Castlemayne," she repeated. " Yes ; 
certainly ; it will be a great pleasure to me to know 
her," she repUed, hastily. " What a success your ball is, 
Lady Teesdalej" 

" Thanks to you," said the hostess, gracefully. " You 
make every place brilliant." 

Lady Teesdale was gifted with that bland, quiet cour- 
tesy which makes life all grace. As she led the beautiful 
American through the long suite of rooms to where the 
duchess sat enthroned, she talked in her brightest style 
to her ; but if she had looked more closely she would 
have seen that the brilliant face had lost some of its 
bloom, and that there was a troubled look in the dark 
blue eyes as when the waters of an Italian lake are 
stirred. 

The Duchess of Castlemayne — in her magnificent dress 
of rich mauve velvet, pointed lace and pearls — looked 
like an empress; the years had passed hghtly over her 
head; she was handsome, erect and stately, with the royal 
manner and grace of a queen. She smiled as Lady Tees- 
dale led the beautiful heiress to her — smiled with corte- 
ous grace and sweetness. 

" I am delighted to meet you," she said, in her most 
charming manner. " I have many American friends, and 
I shall be happy to number you among them." 

Then her Grace of Castlemayne looked with a little 
surprise, for the brilliant face had grown paler, and for 
some few seconds the troubled light of the blue eyes be- 
wildered her. Then Miss Glynton became at once a 
model of grace and elegance; answered her grace in the 
same way in which she spoke; accepted an invitation to 
the ball at Mayne House, and delighted the duchess by 
her courtesy, grace and refinement. 

"You like England, Miss Glynton," she said. "Should 
you like to live here always, or have you a great affection 
for America ?'* 

"I love England best," she replied, " I think aU Ameri- 
cans have a great love for the little island home." 



VIS l>t7EE*8 SECBIf. 195 

r 

"I have always heard so," said the duchess. "Mr. 
Glynton — your father — is here with you, is he not. I 
should like au introduction to him before the evening is 
over." 

" He will be only too delighted," said Miss Glynton; but 
in her manner the duchess saw a glimpse of something 
that belied her word. 

" She is republican and proud," thought the duchess ; 
'< and does not care to be patronized by Enghsh aris- 
tocrats." 

It was the only way in which she could account for the 
subtile shadow she saw creeping over the lady's manner. 
She was resolved to conquer, and would show the Amer- 
ican belle that English ladies know how to appreciate ex- 
cellence wherever they see it, and that there was no taint 
of patronage in the kindness shown to her. She laid her- 
self out to be all that was charming; and when she did so, 
no one could rival the Duchess of Castlemayne. 

" I shoiild like to introduce my son to you," she said > 
" he is here, and my ward, Lady Valentine Arden. I am 
sure that you will be delighted with her, and I hope. Miss 
Glynton, that we shall see a great deal of you while you 
remain in town. " 

A dim idea floated across her mind that at the close of 
the season, if her favorable opinion of Miss Glynton con- 
tinued, she would invite both father and daughter to Rood 
Castle, and there they would do ibtless learn more of the 
real ways of EngMsh nobihty than elsewhere. 

Then impatient partners claimed Miss Glynton, and she 
went away. 

"What do you think of her?" asked Lady Teesdale, 
most anxious to know. 

" She is perfectly refined and well-bred ; she has a very 
beautiful manner," said the duchess ; " but moat decidedly 
she gives me the impression of having an immense deal of 
repressed power and energy. I admire her, but I do not 
think I quite understand her. How the light in her eyes 
changes — how many varied expressions pass over her face ! 
Is she like her father ?" 

" After a fashion. There is a family likeness, but her 
face is more regular than his. He is a handsome man, 
trOQ. Hq om could mistake th§ ]:elationshi|>," 



196 THE duke's secret. 

" I should like to know him," said her Grace of Castle* 
mayne. 

Half an hour later the duke came to his mother, and 
they stood for a few minutes watching Lady Valentine. 

"Have you seen all?" asked the duchess, quietly. 
" Hardly possible in such a crowd, perhaps." 

" I have seen and spoken to most of what people call 
*the beauties,'" he replied. 

" There is one here," said the duchess, " who surpasses 
our beautiful Valentine as the moon outshines the stars." 

" Is there ?" he answered, languidly, beautiful women 
not being of such vital interest to him. " And who is she, 
mother?" 

"The American heiress. Miss Glynton, I have been 
talking to her; she is a most charming woman. Some- 
thing in her face puzzled me — it was so famihar; I must 
have met some one like her. I think, Bertrand, I should 
like to ask both father and daughter to Rood Castle 
among our first visitors." 

" I hope, my dearest mother, you will always do just as 
you please at Hood Castle, and everywhere else," he re« 
plied. 

"You are very good to me, my son," said the duchess; 
and her heart beat with pride as she remembered how 
kind and obedient this beloved son of hers had always 
been to her; how different — ah, thank Heaven ! — from 
other sona 

"It is some time since I have met any one who has 
pleased me so much, and I should like Valentine to know 
her. I am not usually very enthusiastic over my own sex, 
but I have been just carried away with her. I should like 
to know her, Bertrand; she is quite different from any of 
the people we meet in societj." 

"I shall be very pleased;" he said, listlessly; but be 
half wished that he lived in a world where no beautiful 
women existed; they had no charm for him. 

CHAPTER XXXm. 

"not even a daughtek-in-law." 

The next minute he had retracted his judgment, and 
was looking at a face which startled him. 

"Therein Miss Glynton," the duchess had said, and 



THE DUEE 3 SECRET. 197 

looking in the direction she indicated, the duke saw a 

picture he never forgot — a tall, stately figure dressed in 
rich white velvet aud shining white silk ; a fair, queenly 
head crowned with hawthorn and diamonds ; a firm, 
white throat clasped with shining gems ; arms and 
shoulders white and polished, and a face that made him 
breathless while he gazed at it. 

What was in it that should stir his heart to its depths 
as it had not been stirred for years — that dazed him and 
seemed to turn his blood to flame ? There was some- 
thing famihar ; yet he said to himself, as his mother had 
done before him, he could have remembered the circum- 
stances well had he met this beautiful woman before. He 
stood speechless, almost breathless, his eyes full oi 
startled Hght His mother saw this motion with dehghtr 
she had not seen it displayed for any woman before. 

" If it should be the American after all," she thought 
to herself. "Well, ours will not be the first ducal ]*ouse 
that has gone to America for a wife. He could not have 
one more wealthy or more beautiful, and those are two 
good things." 

" My dear Bertrgmd," she said, with a smile, " have you 
suddenly lost all your senses ?" 

"Not at all," he replied; "but like you, mother, I have 
a strange, half -painful sense of having seen that most beau- 
tiful face before; yet it in impossible." 

" You will like an introduction, Bertrand? " she said. 

"That I shall most certainly." 

Yet there was a strange sense on him. Had this beau- 
tiful woman bewitched him ? The next moment the 
white velvet and trailing laces were sweeping before him; 
the Hght quivered and burned in the diamonds that 
cro^vned her; a queenly head was bent before Lim for 
some moments, and raised with queenly grace the next. 
He heard the murmured words of introduction, but he 
had not caught the sense of them. 

Before there was time for another word. Lady Val< 
entine joined the group, and again the ceremony of in- 
troduction was gone through. 

One taking notice, might have seen that Miss Glyn- 
ton's face flushed as she bowed to the eaxVs daughter, 
and that a quick glance fiom her blue eyes tooJk in every 
detail of the jouag girl's appearance. 



J98 THE duke's secbet. 

Lady Valentine fell in love with her on the spot, while 
the duchess, in her stately fashion, seemed to feel de- 
lighted with her, and was doing her best to be kind and 
amiable to her. 

Miss Gl^nton, after her introduction to the duke» 
neither looked at him nor spoke to him; he might not 
have existed for all the notice she took of him. 

He was somewhat piqued; he was accustomed to atten- 
tion from most people, and he had something even 
warmer than that from Lady Valentine. A lady who did 
not seem aware of his existence was a novelty ; it piqued 
him into trying to talk to her, but her replies were very 
brief, mere monosyllables ; yet he saw that to every one 
else she taked and laughed brightly enough. It could 
not be because she did not like him — they were strangers, 
and she felt nothing for him. It could but be indifference; 
but he was not accustomed to indifference, and he did not 
like it. 

Lady Valentine looked quietly amused. 

"It serves him right," she thought; "if he would talk 
to me, I should be pleased enough to answer him. " 

She thought tjie duke's manner rather strange — he 
looked slightly bewildered. There was something in the 
manner of the American heiress, in her face and figure, 
that startled him. It was strange, yet familiar ; he said 
to himself that he was sure he had heard a voice just Like 
that ; then again he thought he had heard no voice so 
singular sweet and clear. There was something familiar 
to him in the play of her features, j'et he had seen no face 
BO magnificently beautiful before. She puzzled him; and 
to shake off the curious effect of her presence, he asked 
Lady Valentine to dance with him, and she went away, 
her little white hand lying on his arm and a smile on her 
lips. The duchess looked after her with kindly affection 
shining in her eyes, and Miss Glynton saw it. 

"Lady Valentine is very beautiful," she said, gently. 
" She must be a great source of comfort to you. You have, 
I believe, no daughters ?" 

" No," replied the duchess; "not even the greatest of all 
treasures, a daughter-in-law." 

A faint smile rippled over the beautiful lips — it di©^ 
ftway with a touch of scorn. 



THE duke's seceet. 199 

** It is the first time I have heard a daughter-in-law called 
• treasure," she said. 

"She would be a treasure to me," said the duchess, with 
a sigh, followed by a smile. " Some ladies have shadowy 
ideas about daughters-in-law — my life is chiefly spent in 
longing for one." 

There was such a peculiar expression in Miss Glynton's 
face that the duchess paused involuntarily. She liked this 
beautiful woman, but she could not in the least degree 
understand her. 

" I understand that this is Lady Valentine's first season," 
continued Miss Glynton. " She seems to be very mueh 
admired, and no wonder." 

This frank, candid praise from one who might have been 
jealous pleased the duchess very much. 

"You do not seem to fear a rival," she said, laughingly; 
then wondered why a brilliant burning flush overspread 
the beautiful face. 

" Rival ? " repeated Miss Glynton. " Why rival ? " 

" I mean a rival beauty," said the duchess. And then 
Miss Glynton smiled. 

"We covdd never be rivals," she replied. "She is 
younger than I am, and her great charm is her fresh 
youth. I have had some experience in life, and it has 
not all been happy." 

" Have you known trouble ? " asked her grace, wonder- 
ingly ; to be beautifvil and heiress to a millionaire, yet 
to have known trouble, "was a problem to her. 

" I suppose," said Miss Glynton, " that every one has 
troubles of some kind or other ; I can not believe that 
any creature living escapes them." 

" I am sure not," sighed the duchess, thinking of her 
own — the one great sorrow that grew with years. 

Then the duke brought Lady Valentine back to his 
mother, and was slightly surprised to find that the belle of 
the ball had remained talking to her in preference to 
dancing. He looked at her more inquiringly now, and 
the marvel of her beauty grew upon him. The notes of 
the beautiful, plaintive waltz sounded, and he asked her 
if she were engaged for it. 

"I do not remember," she replied ; then, looking at the 
pretty ivory tablets, she said : ** No, this is the only 
dance I have free." 



200 THE duke's secret. 

" Then may I ask for it ? " said the duke, and he knew 
that he had pleased his mother when he saw her smile. 

"Yes," rephed Miss Glynton, "I shall be pleased. Hike 
the music of this waltz better than any other I know." 

Then she was surprised to find her eyes raised to his 
face. She was looking at him with an intense, earnest 
gaze that slightly confused him; he held out his arm to 
her with a low bow, and she was on the point of laying 
her hand on it. Suddenly she shrunk back, the hght 
shone and gleamed in her diamonds, the hand half raised 
fell at her side again, a strange trembling came over her. 
The duke looked at her in surprise. 

" I — have changed my mind," she said; " I would rather 
not dance — pray excuse me." 

" You are tired," said the duchess. " I have always 
understood that American ladies were more fragile than 
English. You look tired. Miss Glynton." 

But the duke said to himself it was not fatigue which 
had so suddenly blanched her face, nor could he tell what 
it was. 

" Perhaps," said the duchess, " Miss Glynton would find 
a change to one of the drawing-rooms pleasant, Bertrand. 
It will be better than sitting here in this warm room." 

To this Miss Glynton found no objection ; the duke did 
not offer his arm, but walked by her side ; she was 
strangely silent, and he hardly knew how to talk to this 
beautiful woman who had shrunk from dancing with him. 
The same topic that had served her with the duchese 
served her now — Lady Valentine. She was waltzing with 
a handsome young officer as they crossed the ball-room. 

" I forget," said Miss Glynton ; " is Lady Valentine 
related to you ?" 

" Yes, but very distantly. My mother, the duchess, and 
Lord Arden were related, but so distantly they can hardly 
be said to be related at all — four or fifth cousins, I 
beheve." 

"Lady Valentine must be a great addition to your house- 
hold," said Miss Glynton. " I have a strange fancy that 
I heard the duchess spoken of in Paris as having a pro- 
(5egee, but the name was not Lady Valentine." 

A Hght came over his face. 

"You must have heard of Lady Nell," he said. " AJbi« 



THE duke's segbst. 201 

pardon," for the jeweled fan she held fell to the ground, 
and he stooped to regain it. 

" Lady Nell,"he continued, " my mother's neice ; she 
married last year." 

" Married ?" repeated Miss Glynton, and she spoke as 
one who seeks to gain time. " I had' not heard. Whom 
has she married ?" 

" Sir Edward Layard. You have heard him spoken of 
■' — a great traveler and linguist." 

" Is she very happy ?" was the next question, one that 
surprised him ; bat then Americans have the fashion of 
asking most extraordinary things. 

" Happy? Yes, I suppose so; the same as other peo- 
ple. She was very fond of Sir Edwin. Lady Nell is 
happy, I am sure." 

And then they came to the magnificent room where he 
wished her to rest. 

" How beautiful these English homes are ? There is 
nothing in England I admire so much as the interior of 
the homes." 

" You have beautiful houses in America," he said. 

"Yes, but they do not seem like yours; they are newer, 
most of them; the decorations are different." 

" You have not been in England very long," said the 
duke. " Have you seen any of our oldest places — old 
castles, such as Arundel, Alnwick or "Worcester?" 

" I have seen an old English castle," she replied, " but 
none of those." 

"I should think," laughed the duke, "that if there is 
anything in England of which an American would feel 
jealous it would be of those grand old ruins of ours." 

" I do not think they are jealous," she replied, as she 
took the offered chair. " I am always ready to do battle 
for the land of the * Stars and Stripes.* " 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 

**TOU HAVE WEONQED A WOMAW.** 

" To ME," said Miss Glynton, "there is something almost 
laughable in the average English idea of America. You 
seem to think it quite a new world. Does any one ever 
think of the thousands of years it has taken to form our 
immense forests— our primeval forests? Do you think 



202 THE duke's secmt. 

there are no ruins in America ? Have you read anything 
of the buried cities — cities buried in the depths of ancient 
forests? Do you think there are no ruins in America? You 
have no relics of antiquity bo grand as those." 

" I have the greatest respect for America," said the 
duke, " although it is quite true I have always looked 
upon it as new. It is a nation without history, without 
traditions." 

"Do you not think," she replied, "the real history of 
America — its ancient history — is told by rocks and trees 
of the primeval forests, not merely by records of pen and 
ink ? You must remember that the fact of its being a 
new world to you does not make it a new world to itself. 
None can judge of America until they have seen it." 

" That I do believe," said the duke ; " and I hope to 
see it some day. I have often thought how much I 
shoidd enjoy a trip across the Atlantic. You return to 
America, I presume, Miss Glynton ?" 

" I am not sure," she replied. " My father has a great 
love for England — above all, for London." 

" Your father has not the ordinary American type, 
either of physique or manner," said the duke. " I should 
not have recognized you as an American lady, either. I 
like to hear you defend that strong beautiful land of 
yours," he said ; *' the love of one's native country is 
strong." 

" All real love must be strong," she said decidedly. 

" Do you think so ? I have known many loves that 
have proved to be weak enough." 

And he thought of his own as he spoke. 

" Not real love," she said, and the beauty of her face 
deepened. " Many things are called love which do not 
deserve the name— all kinds of weak fancies and senti- 
mental notions; but real love is a thing quite apart." 

"You are right," he said. 

She went on, unconscious of his interruption: 

"Even in the Scriptures the might and strength of love 
are recognized. Do you remember those words, * Many 
waters can not quench love, neither can floods destroy 
it. Such words would not be used for the weak fancies 
and baby passions that men call love." 

The beautiful face was full of superb scorn. The duke 
M ne looked at her in admiration, wondwsd what gho 



THE duke's secret. 203 

Wcmld say if she knew his love story and his secret. He 
could pictui'e the scorn such a story would caU into those 
beautiful eyes. Thank Heaven, he had not to go through 
the ordeal! 

"You and Lady "Valentine would be good friends, I am 
sure," he said; "those are her ideas. She takes every- 
thing in earnest. She is quite different from other 
people; she is so much more truthful and honest, candid 
and frank." 

" She has not quite learned enough of the world to dis^ 
guise all her feelings and thoughts," said Miss Glynton, 
with a curl of her beautiful hps. 

" You speak as though the world had taught you some 
bitter lessons, Miss Glynton." 

" It has taught me one," she replied. "I was a dreamer 
and believer in every one and everything — an enthusiast; 
and I had one sharp, bitter lesson. I do not need a sec- 
ond." 

" One would hardly think it to look at you," he said. 

"What can you tell from looks?" she said. "Do you 
believe that men and women carry the story of their lives 
in their faces?" 

" Some of them ?" he replied. 

" How do you read them ?" she asked. 

" I can not tell — by instinct," replied the duke. 

She raised her eyes and looked at bim. 

" I wonder if I have the same instinct," she said, slowly. 
** I fear not. Now, looking at you, I could not tell whether 
you had a story in your hfe or not." 

He shrunk with a scared expression in his face; it was 
not often that women spoke so plainly to him. "Let me 
guess," she continued, with a charming smUe. " You are 
a mighty peer, you have wealth, honor, nobility. You 
are young, gifted; the friendship of men and the love of 
women must both have been yours. You have no lines 
on your face, no shadow in your eyes. "Who shall saj 
whether a story lies there or not? " 

" You almost frighten me," he said. 

"Frighten; that should not be possible. Now let me 
make mv guess. The world pays you great homage I 
Bee to-night fair faces brighten for you and bright eyes 
flash; your life must seem all sunlight to those who know 
you; but I, rea^e jouj f^e, veixtur^ to say that you 



204 THE duke's secret. 

have a very sad and sorrowful story. Am I right oi- 

wrong r 

He bent his head; and she saw the color fade from his 
face as he whispered: 

"Bight — you are right; but no one knows it; how can 
you, a stranger tell ? " 

"lam right, then?" she said, slowly. "I thought I 
was." 

^ " Tell me how you know ?" he asked, startled out of his 
usual tranquility. " This is the first time we have met, 
and yet you have read what my nearest and dearest have 
not read. Tell me ; my curiosity is excited." 

" I will tell you," she repUed. " I have, perhaps, hardly 
been fair. I heard of you before I saw you. I heard you 
discussed one day ; and the ladies speaking of you said 
you were a woman-hater. It is one thing to hear a circle 
of men say, with unmistakable admiration, that you are a 
woman-hater ; it is quite another thing when the loveliest 
women with the brightest eyes say the same." 

The duke felt ashamed of his title for the first time. 

Miss Glynton went on : 

" I said to myself that if you were a woman-hater you 
must have a reason for it. Men do not hate women nat- 
uraUy, do they ?" 

" I suppose not," he replied. 

" You see that I am a close reasoner. It is clear to m« 
that if you hate women you have a reason." 

" And what would you imagine that reason to be ?" 
asked the duke. 

" There are but two — one is, that you dislike all women 
because one has wronged you ; the other, that your dislike 
to women springs from the fact that you have wronged 
one." 

He gazed at her in utter amazement. 

" No one has ever spoken to me in such a strain be- 
fore," he said. " I am foolish, as it may seem ; hidf 
frightened." 

" Am I right or wrong ? " she asked. 

" Right," he rephed. 

" But you will not teU me which of the two reasons it 
is ? " she said. 

" No ; that would b© impossible. Why, Miss Glyntoa, 



THE DUKE'S SECEET. 205 

you have stirred the very depths of my heart. I am at a 
loss what to say." 

"There is truth, then, in the old proverb that a ran* 
dom shot often goes home." 

"It is quite true," he replied ; "and for a random shot, 
j-ours, Miss Glynton, was a very extraordinary one. What 
a strange thing it seems that we should have fallen into 
this confidential strain." 

" Yes, it is strange," she answered; " but it is to be ao- 
counted for on quite natural grounds. I heard these ladies 
discussing you, and the discussion interested me. They 
called you a woman-hater, and the title was new to me. 
Then this idea came to me, that either -"ou hated them be- 
cause you had been wronged, or because you had wronged 
the whole sex in one. Then comes my introduction to you, 
and, looking into your face, I read a story there ; perhaps 
they would have read it with the same result had they 
thought of ik" 

" Well, one thing is quite sure," said the duke, " I shall 
never be able to think of you as a stranger again. You 
seem to have gone deeper into my life than those whom I 
have known for years. I shall always remember this ball 
and my first introduction to you." 

All her shyness had vanished; she seemed perfectly easy 
and self-possessed; she leaned back with a smile on her 
face, queenly, dignified, yet the very softness of her eyes, 
as they rested on him encouraged him to talk on. 

"I am rather dazed," said the duke; "I feel as though 
some hazy notions of a former existence were floating 
through my brain. I could almost believe that other ex- 
istence had known you." 

" Very fanciful ideas," she said dryly. 

" I like thinking and reading of that kind of sensation,** 
he continued. " It has occurred to me so often, and I 
have heard many people speak of it." 

* I believe in one life, and in one only," said Miss 
Glynton. " I think most of us will find it quite enough." 

" Do you feel rested," said his grace, anxiously. " I 
must not forget, however pleasant it maybe to me to see 
you here, that the light has gone from the ball-room." 

" I shall not dance again this evening," she said, with a 
kindly, quiet smile, " after declining to dance with you." 

« Do not let that influence you. I shall be grieved il 



HOfi mi duke's SEOBlf. 

you do BO ; you were tired, now you are rested. I am 
tempted to fa^ my fate once more, and ask you if you will 
dance with me." 

" I must decline again," she answered. " I am afraid 
you will think me very capricious and changeable." 

" I shall always think of you at; one of the most wonder- 
ful ladies I have ever mei If you have really no partner 
whom you wish to make happy. Miss Glynton, we can not 
do better, I think, than remain where we are for a short 
time longer," 

And there they did remain, discussing everything under 
the &un; the duke growing more and more delighted 
with her every moment, while she certainly did her best 
to win his admiration. An hour passed before they re- 
turned to the duchess, who waited them anxiously. The 
room was less crowded then, and her Grace of Castle- 
mayne had a great horror of remaining until the last 
She made some smiling remark, and then asked the duke 
if he would go in search of Lady Valentine. 

"I have not seen her for the last half hour," she said; 
•* she went away with Lord Cardiff." 

The duke left the two ladies together while he went in 
search of Lady Valentine. The duchess laughed as she 
said: 

" You will take my son's title from him. Miss Glynton, 
and rob him of all his glory." 

For one half minute there was a curious look on the 
beautiful face, and then Miss Glynton smiled in return. 

"Yes," she replied, "I understand. You mean his 
title of ' woman hater.' I think it has been very unjustly 
given, your grace; I see no reason for it" 

"I am delighted to hear it," said the duchess; " I am 
sure that no one could give him that terrible name this 
evening. I wish he could lose it forever." 

"He never deserved it," said Miss Glynton, briefly. 

And her Grace of Castlemayne wonderec* at the authoriigf 
i» hex voice as she uttered the words. 



«BE duke's SE0B£7. '^07 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

A LADT TO 6BA0B A HOME. 

Mb. Gltnton entered the drawing-room where his 
heiress sat reading, with a quantity of envelopes in his 
hand. 

" All invitations," he said, as he laid them before the 
beautiful lady, who glanced at him with a careless smile. 

"You will have to keep a secretary," he said; "you 
will never have time to answer them all, much less accept 
them." 

She laughed aloud. 

" We have proved the extent of our capabilities,** she 
repUed. " One dinner party and three balls are as 
much as we can manage, and that we should not accom- 
pMsh unless you were the most energetic and brightest 
of men." 

" There is one dinner invitation here that I would like 
to accept," said the milUonaire. " The Duchess of Castle- 
mayne asks us to dine there next Tuesday. I should like 
to go there, pet. I have seen no woman so handsome as 
the duchess ; she is magnificent ; the very type of an 
English duchess — gentle and caressing, yet proud and 
stately. Her manner is superb." 

•' It is indeed," said Miss Glynton, dryly. He looked 
up quickly when he heard the tone'of her voice. 

" Don't you like the duchess, pet ? If you do not you 
shall not go." 

" Like her ?" was the evasive answer, " why should I 
not ? Every one says she is the most popular woman in 
London, and she was most gracious to me." 

" Every one is," he said. 

" But she was more than usually gracious. You do not 
know how proud and haughty the Duchess of Castle- 
mayne is." 

" But she was not proud to you," said the millionaire. 

" No ; that's why I can not help hking her — a little. I 
agree with you, it will be as well to accept that invita- 
tion." 

" I like the duke," said Mr. Grlynton, " I may say that 
I like him better than any Englishman I have ever seen; 
he was kind and attentive to me. He said how much ho 



208 THE duke's secbet. 

should like me to see Bood Castle — one of the oldest in 
England, I was very much struck with his urbanity and 
kindnesa " 

" A sudden friendship," she said. 

"Not quite that — a sudden liking, rather; and that re- 
minds me, pet, my eyes are not closed. I saw at the ball 
that I was not the only person who seemed to enjoy talk- 
ing to the Duke of Castlemayne." 

Her face flushed, and a strange light came into her eyes. 

" I was too tired to dance much, and he talked to me," 
she replied, carelessly. 

" Then I must answer * yes ' to that invitation. Now 
let us look through the rest, and see what we shall pre- 
fer." 

He sat down at her side; and they looked at the num- 
erous cards and notes of invitation. 

"Lady Purdon at home. I — I do not care for her, 
pet ; she's a woman's rights woman. Mrs. Choular's 
matinee musicale, I should not care for that. A ball at 
the French embassy ; yes, we will go. Garden party at 
Bichmond, just as you like, pet," was the running com- 
mentary made by the millionaire on the notes and cards. 
" After all," he continued, " see how the world runs after 
money. It is money in our case ; beautiful as you are, 
pet, even your beauty would not have brought '^s one 
tithe of the popularity money has brought." 

" Money is a great power," she said ; " there are few 
greater. I must write to Mayne House at once." 

" Pet," asked Mr. Glynton, suddenly, " have you seen 
Lady Belle Chalmers, do you know her at all ?" 

" No," she replied, "I do not remember the name." 

" I met her at Glacourts, and I liked her very much ; 
Bhe seemed to be the merriest, blithest woman I have met. 
I should hke you to know her. If you see any chance of 
an introduction to her, avail yourself of it." 

" I will," she replied, with a keen, Hngering look at hia 
face, on which she read some little sign of confusion. 

"Who is Lady Belle Chalmers; is she married or 
smgle?" 

" She is a widow," he interrupted ; " quite a young 
widow, and holds an excellent position. Her husband 
had some appointment in the royal household. They had 
only been married a few months when he died." 



^ .. THE DUKE*S SECRET. ' 209 

** Did she tell you tliis ? " asked Miss (jMynton, with a 
Blight upraising of her beautiful eyebrows. 

"Yes; we talked for a long time. I thought her very 
interesting. K you have an opportunity, you might make 
friends with her." 

" I will, most decidedly," she answered, wondering if 
liady Belle had made an impression on the heart of the 
millionaire; wondering, also, if it were in the decrees of 
fate he should marry. If it were for his happiness, she 
hoped most devoutly that he would do so. Aid so it hap- 
pened that during the next few days she met Lady Belle 
Chalmers. 

The evening of the dinner-party at Mayne House came, 
and Mr. Glynton fancied that his beautiful heiress was 
slightly distraii, imeasy, and preoccupied during the whole 
day. 

" I wonder if the party will be a large one ?" he said, 
as the time came for them to dress. " Look your best to- 
night, pet." 

The advice was hardly needed. There was a hght, 
half of triumph, half of defiance. On that beautiful face 
which doubled its beauty. From the care and attention 
she gave to her toilet, she might have been going to dine 
with the queen. Her dress was a marvel of beauty, a 
rich brocade, white ground, with pale golden flowers, and 
with it she wore a pariire of rich rubies and diamonds. 
Fine costly lace trailed in beautiful folds around her; the 
square body of the dress showed the white breast and 
graceful throat. Every detail was perfection, and matched 
the marvelous blend of the gold and white dress. 

" I have never seen you look so well before," Mr. Glyn- 
ton said, as he glanced with admiration at the grand, 
queenly figure and face; "but, my dear, there is some- 
thing in your face; you look — well, words fail me; I can 
not quite tell what— are you pleased or sorry ?" 

"Neither," she answered, indifferently. 

" There is a look on your face I have never seen be- 
fore," he said. " I wonder, pet, if Lady Belle will be 
there ?" 

" I hope so, if you wish to see her," she answered. 

" I enjoy myself more when she is present than when 
she is absent," he said, drawing the white wrapper round 
ber shoulders and helping her into the carriage. 



210 THE duke's secret. i 

It was a beautiful fine night, warm without being sultry, 
with a lovely fragrant air, the sun setting and the beautiful 
hush of the summer evening lying over the land. 

They were late. Most of the guests invited had arrived 
and were in the drawing-room. To the millionaire's great 
delight, Lady Belle Chalmers was there, and seemed 
pleased to see him. 

The Duchess of Castlemayne, looking very stately and 
magnificent in her dress of rich ruby velvet, received them 
with great empressement. The duke came forward to re- 
ceive them with the greatest cordiality. Lady Valentine 
left the little group of courtiers, who were doing their 
best to detain her, and began to talk to Miss Glynton ; 
the duke stood by them, and many eyes lingered with 
admiration on the two beautiful women and the handsome 
young patrician with them. Mr. Glynton afterwards ex- 
pressed himself as being delighted with all the arrange- 
ments ; he had been asked to take Lady Belle Chalmers 
down to dinner, and to judge from his face he had found 
the task most delightful. The duke offered his arm to 
Miss Glynton, and Lady Valentine fell to the share of 
one of her most hopeful and fervent adorers, Sir Harry 
Bellairs, the handsome guardsman. 

The duchess followed with Lord Hargraves ; she was 
most gracious and bland this evening, delighted that the 
Americans had accepted her invitation ; above all that 
her son paid so much attention to Miss Glynton. 

" A royally beautiful woman," said the duchess to her- 
self, " one who would grace his home." 

The party was not large, but it was certainly brilliant. 
It would have been difficult to have found three more 
beautiful women, though each different in their way, than 
the duchess. Miss Glynton, and Lady Valentine Arden, 
Mrs. Henson and Mrs. Burdett were present also, both 
briUiant and clever. The dinner was perfect, the wine 
superb ; the conversation brilliant and intellectual ; wit 
and reparte of the keenest, finest kind. 

Lady Belle Chalmers was a great addition; she was 
cheerful, witty, amusing, and kind-hearted ; a lady just 
in the prime of hfe, with a pleasant, happy, and honest 
face — a face that brightened and shone with every fresh 
gleam of humor. She was not a beautiful woman, but 
j^e was elegant, fascinating, and always elegantly dressed ,* 



THE DUKE*S SECRET. 211 

an accomplished and well educated woman, who spoke 
two or three different languages quite as well as English 
who had read and thought, and knew all the leading 
characters of the day. A thorough woman of the world, 
with a keen appreciation of luxury and comfort, with a 
perfect knowledge of the power of money and the power 
of rank. One of the most agreeable women in England, 
and universally liked. 

For some years after she was left a widow people won- 
dered whether she would marry again. She had a nice 
house and a comfortable income ; she belonged to the 
best set in London; she had never been either a coquette 
or a flii-t, and of late every one had come to the conclu- 
sion that she would remain a widow until the end of the 
chapter. But Mr, Griynton seemed devoted to her, and a 
wonder was felt by many people as to whether or not he 
would be able to induce her to change her opinions. So 
the party was a brilliant success. Perhaps the most silent 
person present was Miss Glynton ; but though she said 
little, she listened attentively, and the duke thought her 
more bewitching than ever. 

"Lady Layard was to have dined with us," he said; 
" but she was prevented from coming. She promised to 
look in dming the evening if she could." 

" Lady Layard," repeated Miss Glynton. " I do not 
remember the name." 

" AVe were speaking of her the other evening — Lady 
Nell, my mother's niece." 

" I had forgotten," she said; but the face she bent over 
her plate was a trifle paler, and her heart beat quickly. 

" I am sure you wiU like Lady Layard," said the duke; 
' every one does who knows her." 

But she neither looked at him nor answered him one 
<eord. 

CHAPTER XXXYI. 

"l KNOW YOUE SECRET." 

The drawing-room at Mayne House was one of the 
finest, largest, and most magnificent in London. It had 
been entirely redecorated and refurnished by the present 
duchess, whose taste was of the most artistic and perfect 
kind. There was no ovorcrowding eithor of pictures, 



212 THE duke's secret. 

statues, or flowers; no profuse gilding or coBfusion of fur« 
niture; the different colors were all subdued, delicate iu 
hue, and gracefully contrasted; the pictures were some 
of them by the great masters of art, others by the most 
famous of modem artists. From the shade of late plants 
white marble statues gleamed, copies of the world's great 
wonders. The daintiest treasures were there — choice 
emeralds, superb marquetry, old buhl work, vases of jas- 
per and of malachite; the daintiest chiua. There was a 
beautiful portrait, said to be quite authentic, of Mary of 
Scotland; and hundreds of other articles of virtu and art. 
But there was nothing struck a stranger so much as the 
beautiful arrangement of flowers; they were everywhere; 
and yet there did not appear to be one too many. In one 
of the groups of late plants pretty chairs had been placed, 
forming something like a little bower; and this evening, 
with so many beautiful women, it was a fairy bower. 

The duchess had her favorite seat, a luxurious couch, 
placed near the great windows, and half shielded from 
view by a superb statue of Hebe, surrounded by flowers. 
She went there at once, followed by Lady Belle, whose 
lively conversation amused her. 

The other ladies were busy discussing a fancy fair, in 
which the fashionable world was vitally interested. It 
would materially assist the funds of a very charitable in- 
stitution for children; it would be likewise a tine oppor- 
tunity for the display of superb toilets; a fair battle- 
ground for rival beauties. Altogether it was an engross- 
ing topic, and there was much to say on the subject. 

Lady Valentine had drawn Miss Glinton's attention to 
a beautiful book of engravings; they were both seated at 
a table ttiming over the leaves. No picture in that room 
was as beautiful as those two fair beads bent together; 
one in the fresh grace of jouth, the other in the magnifi- 
cence of matured beauty. 

" Do you care about seeing photographs, Miss Glyn- 
ton?" asked Lady Valentine; "we have some views of 
Bood Castle which I think are unequaled. 

"Of Rood Castle?" she replied, looking up with a 
startled glance, her face flushing and paling; ** Bood Cas- 
tle, did you say ?" 

And Lady Valentine did not see that she merely rt- 
peated the words to give herself time. i 



;• THS duee's secbst. 213 

•• Tes, that is the Duke of Castlemayne^s family estate; 
such a line old castle; and the photographs of it are really 
beautiful; they ai-e artistic, not taken at hazard, but u 
series of the finest views taken by a firm of photographers 
whom the duchess especially engaged. Would you like 
to see them ? " 

" Very much," replied Miss Glynton; and then there 
was a slight quiver of pain on her lips as she smiled. 

" They are on the table near the duchess's couch. She 
loves Rood Castle, and never passes a day without look- 
ing at these views. I will go for them." 

" Pray do not give yourself any trouble. Lady Valen- 
tine," said Miss Glynton, 

" It will be a pleasure, not a trouble," she replied. " I 
have never seen the Castle ; but, judging from the views, 
I should say there was not a more lovely spot in England," 
and the young girl paused for one-half minute, wonder- 
ing if she could tell this peerless and beautiful woman she 
admired so greatly, that any service she could render 
her would be a great pleasure to herself. 

" Perhaps she would not understand it," she said to 
herself. "I suppose to talk of fashionable beauties — 
about loving them — is nonsense, after all; but this beau- 
tiful woman, with her calm, grand face, is not like a 
fashionable beauty." 

Then she went in search of the book of views. It lay 
on the table near the duchess; and Lady Valentine looked 
at her with a bright smile. 

" May I take this ? I want to show Miss Glynton all 
the beauties of Rood Castle." 

"You may always do just as you like," said her grace; 
and Lady Valentine went away with the book. Was it 
her fancy or did the beautiful face look paler? Miss 
Glynton had moved her chair so that the light no longer 
fell on her face, but ahone in the superb tiara of rubies 
and diamonds that encircled the fair hair. Lady Valen- 
tine laid it before her and opened the pages. 

" I have heard the duchess speak of it so often, and we 
have looked over the book so frequently together, that I 
know every nook and corner of it." 

But somewhat to her suTDrise. a white hand was laid 
on tlie open pag^. 

" If you will pardon me," said Miss Glynton, la ft lot? 



214 THE duke's secret. 

voice, " I wiU look at them first and try to guess what the 
places are, and you shall tell me if I am right." 

Sweet-tempered Lady Valentine did just as she was 
desired ; she laid the open pages before Miss Glynton* 
Once she had a fancy that the richly-jeweled fingers 
trembled as they turned over the pages, and once it 
seemed to her that the grand face had lost all its color, 
but that mus^ have been the changing shadows of the 
light 

There was silence for some short time between them. 
Miss Glynton seemed to be absorbed in the beautiful 
pictures, buf, she made no comment and spoke no word. 
No one saw how her lips quivered ; no one saw, as she 
sat in the shadow, how her face grew dim and her eyes 
filled with the mist of tears. One white hand was tightly 
clinched, and by that means she suppressed all outward 
show of emotion. 

" Now, Miss Glynton," cried Lady Valentine, " is all 
America half so beautiful as this? " 

She was fairly startled when Miss Glynton looked at 
her, the expression of her face was so entirely changed, 
and there was a far-off, dreamy look in her eyes — a look 
of such sad memory and such suppressed pain. 

" I beg your pardon, Lady Valentine, I did not hear," 
she said, and there was something so sad, so dreary in 
the tone of her voice, that all the sympathy of the kindly 
young heart was aroused. 

" I said, have you anything in America so beautiful as 
thisr 

Miss Glynton smiled faintly. 

" The beauties of America are on a different scale," she 
said ; " but I quite agree with you that Eood Castle must 
be a lovely spot. You have never been there ?" 

"No ; but we are going when the season is over. I can 
not teU how the prospect delights me." 

" You are very fond of the duchess," said Miss Glynton; 
"naturally enough, you love her home." 

" The duchess," cried the girl, with bright eyes ; indeed 
I do love her — ^I think there is no one like her." 

"And the duke, too, is most kind," said Miss Glynton, 
looking earnestly at the fair, frank, young face. 

"The dike?" said Lady Valentine, while her face 
flushed asd her eyes brightened* " ^ou will laugh at m« 



TEQi DUKE'a SECRET. 2l5 

tnthout doubt, but I think the duke is — just the one most 
perfect man in the woild ; he is a hero among other 
men." 

Over the most perfect lips of Miss Glynton came the 
faintest ripple of a smile. 

" I know your secret now, Lady Valentine," she thought, 
''you love the duke." 

Lady Valentine, unconscious of that keen scrutiny, 
went on; 

"In Nice, where I lived with my father, there is a 
beautiful picture in the house of one of our friends — it is 
called ' The Martyrdom, of San Sebastian,' and as long as 
I remember, the face of that San Sebastian was my model 
of perfect beauty; strange to say, the Duke of Castlemayne 
resembles it exactly. X always call him San Sebastian when 
we are qviite alone." 

And again this faint, cold, half sad smile ripples oyer 
ihe beautiful lips. 

"The name certainly suits him," she said. "San Se- 
bastian. It brings the idea of a tall, dark, handsome, mel- 
ancholy man to one's mind — the duke has a fashion of 
looking half tired, half melancholy too. I shall think of 
him as San Sebastian, although I may never call him so." 

"In the picture," continued Lady Valentine, "the eyes 
have a searching look, as though among the crowd the 
snar'.yr looked for one kind face, and in vain. I have seen 
that same wonderful expression in the duke's eyes often 
and often." 

" Yet he has lost no one dear or near to him, has had 
no soiTow to cloud his life," said Miss Glynton, and she 
glanced keenly at the fair, fresh, young face as she spoke. 

Lady Valentine did not answer ; she sat quite silent 
and then said, thoughtfully : 

" No one escapes, I am afraid. I wonder sometimes 
what my sorrow will be," and then she sighed as she 
remembered that the greatest trouble life holds would be 
hers if she could never marry the man she loved. 

Then there was a stir in the room, and the gentlemen 
entered. The duchess ceased her conversation — the 
ladies forgot the fancy fair. 

Miss Glynton saw the laillionaire looked anxiously 
round the room. His eyes brightened as thej fell on Hak 



216 THE duke's SEC5EET. 

pleasant, laugliiiig face of Lady Belle ; he went to her ai 
once, as naturally as a sailor seeks a port in storm. 

Miss Glynton smiled to herself; then she quietly watched 
the duke. He spoke to one of the ladies; his eyes falling 
on the fold of pale, golden brocade, he crossed the room 
and went to her. Lady Yalentine looked up at him with 
a smile. 

" What do you think Miss Glynton is studying ?'* she 
asked. 

The duke drew a chair near to them, and said it would 
be impossible to guess, that the study of ladies was so 
varied. 

" Rood Castle," cried Lady Valentine. " I have made 
Miss Glynton own there is nothing half so beautiful in 
America." 

" I hope," he said, " that Miss Glynton may one day 
see its beauty herself." 

She raised her eyes and looked at him — by no means a 
defiant glance, but a quiet, steady, searching look that 
puzzled, baffled, and bewildered him. 

" You are very good," she said. 

And he thought to himself that he must be mistaken, 
that it could not be contempt he heard in the voice. 

" Lady Viilentine," he said, " will you sing for us ? I 
am sure Miss Glynton will be pleased to hear you." 

" I am sure I shall," said Miss Glynton, with a well- 
pleased smile. 

And Lady Yalentine, always above all affectation, went 
to the piano, and the duke took her place by Miss Glyn- 
ton's side. 

CHAPTER XXXYIL 

*'l WILL REFRESH YOUR MEMORY. ** 

LooEiKo round that brilliant apartment, with the beauti- 
ful women and chivalrous-looking men grouped pictur- 
esquely in it. Miss Glynton thought she had never seen a 
more brilliant home scene than this; and there was the 
duke, who had waited to arrange Lady Valentine's music* 
and return to her side. He was unusually silent — the 
strange ideas that haunted him in her presence, the 
curious, subtle attraction she had for him was in filll 
force, and he looked at her with a vague wonder as to 
what it was in her that touched him aa no other woman 



THE duke's secret. 21. 

had power to touch him. Then through the room rang 
the sweetest voice that he had ever heard, and it sung 
these words: 

*' It oame with the merry May, love, 

It bloomed with the summer prime; 
In a djdng year's decay, love. 

It brightened the fading time. 
I thought it would last for life, love. 

But it went with the winter snow. 
Only a year ago, love. 

Only a year ago. 

"'Twas a plant with a deeper root, love. 

Then the blighting Eastern tree; 
For it grew in my heart, and the firuit, love. 

Was a bitter morsel to me. 
The poison is yet in my brEiin, love, 

The thorn in my heart, for you know, 
'Twas only a year ago, love. 

Only a year ago." 

Beautiful, sad, sweet words — he said them over and over 
again to himself — 

" Only a year ago, love. 
Only a year ago." 

His young wife might have sung that sad, sweet lament 
when he so cruelly slighted her. They had only loved 
each other a year. 

" The poison is yet in my brain love, 

The thorn in my heart, you know."— 

aaurmured Miss Glynton. "Those are very beautiful 
words. Do many people live, I wonder, with poison in the 
fcrain and a thorn in the heart ?" 

" More than you would imagine," he replied, sadly. " I 
begin to think myself that no man or woman lives without 
his or her hidden trouble, great sorrow, or romance." 

" I have long been sure of it," she said ; and more than 
ever he wondered what mysterious influence this beautiful 
stranger had over him. As his eyes lingered on her calm, 
grand face, the words came over and over again to him— 

" Only a year ago, love. 
Only a year ago." 

The dead love, the dead passion of his buried youth, 
with its fair hopes, all rose before him — the ftrst aweei. 



218 THE duke's secmh-. 

wild love of his youth which had so completely engrossed 
him — he had forgotten everything but the girl he loved; 
the sweet, sad memories stirred his heart, and when at 
length Lady Valentine's song ceased, he found the beau- 
tiful blue eyes of the American looking into his own. She 
withdrew her glance, rather as though she had been 
studying his character than interested in him. 

Then again, clear, fresh, and bright, the young voice 
«ung: 

** I stand by the river where both of us stood, 
And there ii but one shadow to darken the flood, 
And the path leading to it, where both used to pass, 
Has \h6 step of but one to take dew from the gratt — 
One, forlorn since that day. 

** The flowers of tho margin are many to see — 
None stoops at my bidding to pluck them for me. 
The bird in the alder sings loudly and long; 
My low sound of weeping disturbs not his Bong, 
As thy vow did that day. 

** Go— be sure of my love, of that treason forgiven; 
Of my prayers, by the blessing they win thee in heaven; 
Of my grief — guess the length of the sword by the sheath's, 
By the silence of life, more pathetic than death's. 
Go — be clear of that day." 

Wonderful words I they seemed to pierce his heart as 
he heard them ; and looking at his beautiful companion, 
he saw, no matter how she strove to hide it, that the dark 
blue eyes were fQled with tears. He could hardly beheve 
it at first, that this brilliant, proud woman, who had 
seemed so cold, so passive, so far away from human in- 
terest, had tears in her eyes. 

" I have never heard a more beautiful line than that," 
ehe said, as though she would fain account for her emo- 
tion — 

"By the silence of life, more pathetic than death." 

" It is full of meaning, and I am sure it is true. I have 
known the silence of some lives a thousand times sadder 
than the blank chill silence of death." 

He thought of the silence that lay like a shadow over 
his own life, and he thought of the silence that lay over 
the life and fate of his young wife. 

The silence of life I Ah me ! what volumes might b« 



THE duke's secret. 219 

written of that strange silence, what mysteries it hides, 
what pain it conceals, what anguish it covers. In all 
creation there is no greater manel than that wonderful 
silence of life, so much greater and grander than that of 
death. 

The duke saw that Miss Glynton was deeply touched at 
the words. 

"I shall begin to think soon," he said, "that the real 
life of people is the life not seen." 

" You will think correctly," she replied. 

Lady Valentine was succeeded at the piano by a young 
lady who sang a Spanish ballad, martial and gay, in the 
most superb style, and he watched the dark blue eyes fill 
with hght and brightnesa 

" How susceptible she is to the influence of music ! " 
he said to himself ; and he asked her if, of all entertain- 
ments, she did not prefer the opera. 

"It is just what I can imagine you would prefer," he 
said, " you seem to enjoy music so much." 

" It is the way in which I ever can speak my real 
thoughts," she replied. 

" Then you do sing," he asked, at once. 

"Yes; I have a contralto voice," she replied. "It is 
unusual I believe for a blonde to have a deep contralto ; 
they go generally with stately brunettes." She looked 
up with a slight laugh into his face : 

" You are going to ask me to sing," she said. " You are 
wondering what my voice is like, and if I sing weU. I will 
sing for you — my favorite song — Tennyson's ' Brook.' I 
wonder if you will like it ? " 

" I could not well do anything else," he replied, and he 
took her to the piano. 

There was silence in the vast and magnificent room 
when that superb woman stood up to sing. Lady Valentine 
had attracted much attention — Sliss Glynton seemed to 
command it; she stood near the piano, her rich dress and 
trailing laces sweeping the ground, her beautiful figure 
erect, full of life, grace, and ease, the beautiful head up- 
raised as though to give freedom to the magnificent voice. 

The silence that followed was more eloquent than any 
applause in words; it was the duchess that asked the grace 
of yet another song. 

"From your voice I should have thought jou an 



220 THE DUXX'S SBCBET. 

Italian," said her Grace of Castlemayne. It is only from 
the white-throated daughters of the sunny south that one 
expects to hear such a rich, mellow voice." 

Miss Glynton smiled as she answered: 

" I was nearly twenty years old before 1 knew that I had 
a voice, and then I found it out quite by accident. I have 
treasured it ever since." 

" I should hope so," replied her grace. " I have heard 
few on the stage — and none off it — that equal yours." 

They drew round her — the spell of music dying away — 
with flattering words and graceful compliments; they said 
among themselves how royally generous nature had been 
to one fair, queenly woman, how she had lavished on her 
gifts of body and mind — beauty without parallel and the 
voice of a nightingale. Society and the gay world had 
not for many years known such a queen. 

She sung once more to please the duchess — a sweet, 
simple ballad that carried the hearts of her listeners. 

"I am confirmed in my ideas," said Lady Charteris; "I 
have always believed that a grand voice must live in a 
grand body. I can not imagine a superb contralto like 
that coming from a thin frail, or fragile woman — a superb 
voice requires a grand physique. To my mind Madame 

S is the finest singer of these days, and she has the 

finest frame." 

" There is seme truth in it," said the duchess. " Grise 
was a magnificent woman; I do not remember to have 
seen such neck and arms. She was statuesque — magnifi- 
cent!" 

"I think," said Lady Charteris, calmly, "that Miss 
Glynton is just now the most beautifxil woman in Eng- 
land." 

It was a moment of unutterable triumph for the queenly 
heiress of Hardress Glynton. On every face admiration of 
her, and tears of emotion excited by her singing, were 
Been; she was the centre of all observation and attention. 
As the Duchess of Castlemayne looked at her, she said to 
herself: 

" If I could but see such a woman as that my son's 
"wife, no matter what her nationaUty might be, I should 
die happy." 

Her heart was full of longing. Why could not Ber- 
trand do as other men did ? In this room how many men 



THi duke's secret. 221 

would have given anything they had for the privilege of 
being able to woo her ? There was something peculiar, 
the duchess felt, in the manner of the beautiful American, 
both to herself and the duke a vague intangible some- 
iohing she could not, even to her own thoughts, define. 

In the meantime the duke had led Miss Glynton back 
to the comfortable chair she had occupied. 

" Do you know any of those Scotch ballads ?"Jshe asked 
him — " the old border ballads, I mean, so full of gay and 
martial music. I prefer them to anything else." 

" Yes, I know some of them ; my mother likes that 
kind of music, so does Lady Valentine — strange that you 
should have the same taste. There is nothing that Lady 
Valentine enjoys so much as sitting singing all those: 
grand old ballads — she never tires, and we never tire," 

" I do not see," said Miss Glynton, suddenly, " why all 
the best songs should be about love ; war and glory — ay, 
and death — have as much claim to music as love." 

"Do you think so?" he asked. "It seems to me that 
love and music are akin." 

The dark blue eyes looked proudly with clear direct 
gaze into his. 

"You speak with decision," she said, laughingly. "Per- 
haps you believe in Mrs. Barrett Browning's beautiful' 
definition of the word 'loving'?" 

" I do not remember it," he replied. 

" Then I will refresh your memory, for I know every 
word," and then she recited the beautiful words in a voice 
he never forgot : 

** Unless you can muse in a crowd all day 
On the absent face that fixed you; 
Unless you can love as the angels may, 
■; With the breath of heaven betwixt you; 

.* Unless you can dream that his faith is fast, 

■ /• through behooving and unbehooving; 

Unless you can die when the dream is past. 
Oh, never call it loving." 

There was no falter in the clear voice, no shadow in the 
dark blue eyes that met his own, no embarrasment on 
the beautiful face; yet the Duke of Castlemayne had an 
uncomfortable sensation that she knew more about him 
and hig higtorj than any stranger could know. 



222 THE duke's secret. 

He had not died when his dream was past; on tne con- 
trary he had lived and enjoyed himself very much; was 
there a shadow of reproach in her face that he had done 

go? 

CHAPTER XXXVnL 

LAST VAIiENTIKB's JEAI/JUST. 

Thi Duke of Castlemayne retired to rest that evening 
with his mind and heart full of the beautiful American; 
for the time being the tragedy that lay between himself 
and Lady Valentine was almost forgotten. He had no 
thought for her great affection, her simple, child-like love 
for him. The beautiful American seemed to have taken 
possession of him. He was astonished to find what a 
wonderful sense of f amiUarity he had near her — as though 
he had known her before, and every sound of her voice 
was to him like a song known by heart, the play of her 
magnificent features, the clear, direct gaze of her blue 
eyes, the graceful curl of her lips; even the white gemmed 
hands seemed hke a familiar dream to him. 

" I shall begin to think that I have been to America in 
my sleep, and have met its fairest representative without 
waking," he said to himself. 

It was his custom to go to her grace's boudoir to wish 
her good-night — there was no son in England so attentive 
to his mother as the Duke of Castlemayne. Lady Valen- 
tine usually sat with her grace for a few minutes to 
discuss whatever had been the evening's entertainment, 
but on this evening she was not present. The duchess 
said she had gone to rest with a headache — if her grace 
had said heart-ache it would have been nearer the truth. 

The duke threw himself back in the easy chair with a 
heavy sigh, and his mother looked anxiously at him. 

"You are tired, Bertrand," she said, gently, with that 
air of solicitude no face save a mother's ever wears. 

"Not only tired," he replied, "but I am perplexed. 
Miss Glynton haunts me like a German ghost, mother." 

"Miss Glynton! — a German ghost! — my dear boy, 
what do you mean ? " 

" All my life I have laughed at what people call occult 
influences," he said. " I have never believed in any non^ 
sense about magnetism or the electric lufluence of ono 
j^xnon over ft;aQ^9?« I haT« b«Uey«d ^mk Wu^a tftf 



THX DTTCE'S SSCBET. 221 

result or morbid imagination — but I am beginning to 
believe in them after aU." 

" For what reason ? " she asked, 

"You will laugh at me, I know ; in fact, to tell you the 
truth, I laugh at myself. Still it is quite true that Miss 
Glynton produces a most peculiar effect upon me. When 
I am with her I have a vague, foolish, nervous sensation 
that I have known her in some other life ; I know you 
will think me foohsh, but it bewilders me. She is 
almost a stranger to me, yet there are times when the 
sound of her voice and the play of her features are 
familiar to me — indeed, so familiar as to give me a curi« 
ous, uncanny feeling about her. I cannot forget her. She 
haunts me. What do you think of her yourself? " 

The duchess looked thoughtful If her son could not 
fall in love with Lady Valentine certainly the next best 
thing would be for him to marry this millionaire's heiress. 
She said to herself that she must answer that question 
very carefidly. 

" I think her certainly the most beautiful and graceful 
— I may say the most elegant and accomplished woman 
I have ever met ; but Hke yourself, I find something strange 
about her, repressed power or passion of some kind ; 
like you, too, I have a certain sense of familiarity with 
her voice and features, although I know it is impossible 
that we have ever seen her until this season. She has 
not been in England until now." 

" It must be a fancy," said the duke ; " there can not 
be any foundation for it, yet we are neither of us fanci- 
fuL" 

" Perhaps you admire her very much, Bertrand, and 
that is why she haunts you," said the duchess. 

"She certainly stands quite alone in the world of 
women for me," said the duke. " No womar living has 
ever given me such curious fancies and ideas as she has ; 
all the time I am talking to her my mind is filled with 
the strangest notions. What a clear, direct glance she 
has, and it never falters. She must have a clear, honest 
soul ; but she certainly perplexes me." 

The duchess sighed even more deeply. It would be so 
hopeless to say more to her son — to teU him that if he 
would woo he might probably win this great heiress. She 
bad learned at last that it was useless talking on sueli 



^24 THE duke's secbet. 

matters to him. But that sigh struck her son's heart ; ht 
knew quite well what it meant. 

Perhaps few men in London felt more imhappy than 
the Puke of Castlemayne that night. Look where he 
"would there was no gleam of light or hope for him. 
Where was his lost wife — ^fair, sweet Naomi? His beauti- 
ful young kinswoman had given him the whole love of her 
life, simply as a child gives away a kiss or a flower ? He 
remembered how the sweet, young face and wistful eyes 
had followed him that night What of this beautiful 
woman whose fair presence haunted him as the presence 
of no other woman had done ? 

He was powerless to help himself; he was chained with 
those fetters no human power can Isreak; he was a man 
who had, perhaps, the need of a wife to share with him 
his honors and responsibilities; his mother's earnest wish 
influenced him, too. As he stood alone in his room he said 
to himself that he would give half of his fortune if he could 
see his way out of his difficulty — if he could hear some- 
thing of Naomi and her son, Then again he hesitated; 
true, Lady Valentine loved him, and he inadvertently let 
her lavish the whole love of her heart on him; then, again, 
there was this beautiful American, who had so strange an 
influence over him. 

" There must have been some strange planets in con- 
junction when I was bom," thought the duke. " I seem 
to be most unfortimate ; all the things I undertake go 
"wrong." And even when saying it he admitted that the 
wrong was occasioned by his own fault. 

" What could money do after all ? It could not purchase 
freedom for him;|it could not bring any intelligence of his 
lost wife, it could not solve his doubts and fears about 
Lady Valentine; it could not solve the mystery of this fair, 
queenly woman whose calm, clear eyes seemed to read his 
very souL Money — why it seemed worse than useless ir* 
the presence of such difficulties as these. 

Far into the night he sat, thinking of the light that 
ahone in her eyes when she uttered these words: 

"Unless you can die when the dream is past, 
Oh, never call it loving." 

What had that look in her eyes meant ? Did she think 
he had never loved any one at all, or having loved that his 
loYthadbeeu -weak? She had meant iomething, auc^ 



THE DnEE*S SECBET. 225 

an expiession had not come into her eyes for nothing. 
He dreamed of her all night, and rose unrested and unre- 
freshed. 

Lady Valentine was in the breakfast-room when he went 
down, and his heart smote him when he saw her sweet pale 
face. He remembered how she had sprung to meet him 
with bright eyes and fairest blushes, how she had greeted 
him with loving simple words. Ah, the woman's soul — 
all pain and suffering — ^had come to her; she was 
Undine awakened from her J'^ng sleep to a life that is all 
sorrow. 

She loved him, and she was unhappy; if she had never 
learned to love him she would never have been unhappy. 
He did not understand himself, he did not know his own 
heart or mind, but his heart smote him when he saw how 
pale and sad that fair young face was. There was unusual 
tenderness in his manner when he bade her good-morn- 
ing; the girl looked up at him with shadowed eyes. 

" You have lost your roses this morning, Valentine," he 
said; " we had better go in search of some, late hours and 
warm rooms are bad for you." 

"The hours were late, but the rooms were not too 
warm," she said. 

He touched the pale face caressingly with his hand, but 
she drew back from him with a gesture of pride. 

" Do not be kind to me, San Sebastian," she said: " I 
do not deserve it." 

"Why, what dc>es this humility mean, Valentine? "Why 
do you not deserve kindness ? " 

She shook her head after a charming fashion. 

" I may just as well tell you," she said. " I was wicked 
last nigbt; not naughty, but wicked." 

He looked much amused at the idea of wickedness in 
one s^ young and fair. 

" I don't think you know what the word wicked means, 
Valentine," he said, gently. He covdd not resist the 
temptation of drawing that fair head nearer to him, but 
she looked up again. 

"Do not be kind to me, San Sebastian; you will not be 
angry with me when I tell you. I must tell you, for you 
would be quite sure to find it out." 

" Then tell me," he said, laughingly, " what made yoa 
wicked last nighty Valentine ?" 



22l> rHE duke's sECMif. 

" Miss Glynton," she answered, quickly, *- X was quit*, 
jealous of her — t could not help it. "Sou must be angry 
if you will. I was jealous. You do know how dift"eren'<: 
you are with her; you look as though she had magnetized 
you — and — I heard what people said.*' 

" What did they say, Valentine f' 

" Many things that angered me — they said you wew u 
handsome couple." 

" That was not my fault, ValeBtine. I did not say so."' 

** Lady Charteris said she would make the most splendid 
duchess in England ; and some one else — I forgot who it 
was — that her Grace of Castlemayne would be thankful 
even for an American daughter-in-law. ' 

*' That would have been a terrible blow to my mother 
had she heard it," he said, laughingly. 

" Hearing all these things," continued Lady Valentine, 
"I looked at you, and do you know, San Sebastian, I was 
just a little startled." 

•• At what ?" he asked, briefly. 

" Something in your manner to her quite different to any 
one else, and then '-I was jealous. Ah, my dear," she con- 
tinued, with earnest pathos, " I can give you up for a real 
choice, but not for a fancy. I can love you and help you 
as long as I live, -out I can not stand by and see you make 
love to others." 

" I did not," ftaid the duke. 

" It looked very much like it," said Lady Valentine. 

" Then appear«Jl^es were against me," he said. " I had 
— ah, Valentine, you know it — I had not thought of 
making love. Vouhave no need to be jealous." 

He took the little white hand she held out to him and 
pressed it AL, why could he not clasp the girlish form 
in his arms, and kiss the roses back into the pale, sweet 
face." 

" You need never be jealous, Valentine." 

She looked at Wm with sweet, shy affection. 

"You know iny secret, San Sebastian," she said. "But 
you must not torture me." 

And there was no time to say more, for the duchess 
t&tered the r«oxi^ 



THE duke's secret. 227 

CHAPTER XXXIX. 

LEAKNINa TO HATE. 

The fashionable world was all astir over the fancy fair. 
Of all the charities the hospital for children stood just at 
that time in the highest favor. Royalty patronized it, 
. princesses were interested in it, and went out of their 
way in a fashion more kindly even than usual to help it; 
yet, and despite of all the help, funds were most urgently 
needed, the cry of the children had been heard over the 
land, and it was found that a new ward was absolutely 
needed, besides money for many other indispensible pur- 
poses. 

The ladies of fashion, following the illustrious example 
set them by the most illustrious of princesses, resolved 
upon going to the rescue. Charity is a beautiful virtue, 
but when it is combined with amusement it becomes irre- 
sistible. To help the children's hosj^ital was in itself a 
pleasure; but to combine that pleasure with the power of 
exhibiting some of the finest costumes invented by Elise 
or Worth, was almost more than human. 

A committee of ladies, most of them pretty young 
married women and recognized belles of society, was 
formed, and the result may be imagined. A grand fancy 
fair was to be given, and the Duke of Mild may offered 
the use of his magnificent gardens at Twickenham for the 
purpose — an offer most gratefully accepted. The Duchess 
of Mildmay was an invalid, unable to take any share in 
the good work. She was staying at Torquay, and in her 
absence the ladies of the committee asked the Duchess of 
Castlemayne to head the undertaking. At first she felt 
inclined to refuse, but she listened eventually to the per° 
suasions of her son. 

"I am afraid," she said to him, half apologetically, 
" that my notions are somewhat old-fashioned; I cannot 
imagine even for the most benevolent purpose in the 
world a princess playing the part of a shopwoman." 

" This is a narrow view to take of it," replied the duke. 
•* I think no princess — be she great or mighty as she may 
■ — could do a better, kindUer deed. I see no loss of dig- 
nity in it; on the contrary, a great princess giving her 
ttine and interest to the suffering "children of the nation 



328 THE duke's secret. 

is, I thini, one of the most beautifixl ideas of the world. 
I should be well pleased, dear mother, if you would take 
the matter in hand." 

The wish of her idolized son was sufficient The 
Duchess of Castlemayne announced herself as Lady 
President, and the whole business was complete. 

Dickens himself would have reveled in the meetings of 
the ladies' committee; how many ladies wished to speak 
at once, how many clung to their own ideas and refused 
to listen to any other; each one having an idea that 
every one and everything must give way to her. 

One of the most important questions asked was should 
the professional beauties be invited to take a stall; pubUc 
opinion was divided, the ladies felt that such an attrac- 
tion would almost double their funds, yet what attention 
would even the prettiest of them meet with if the beauties 
were present. Lady Charteris told in a plaintive voice 
some sad stories of the last fancy fair in which her ser- 
vices had been enlisted. 

" We had three professional beauties there," she said, 
"and I don't think the public even saw any one else ; the 
money they made was something marvelous. I saw them 
selling rosebuds at a guinea each." 

" If they really influence the funds, by all means let us 
invite them," said the Duchess of Castlemayne. " It is 
money we want, and we must t£ike the best opportunity 
for making it." 

A speech so very much to the point, aiwi so sensible 
that it produced a great effect. Letters of invitation were 
dispatched to Mrs. Trelawney and Mrs. Dulwich, asking 
each to preside over a stall; the same invitation was sent 
to Miss Glynton, to Lady Valentine Arden, and other 
ladies whose names were well known. To the surprise 
of all Miss Glynton declined. She was willing to help in 
any way but that ; but she declined the staU. 

" I am not surprised," said the duchess, when she read 
the note ; " I did not think Miss Glynton would take 
a stall ; " and in her own heart the duchess highly 
approved the decision, and liked the American all the 
better for what she chose to believe was her pride. 

Lady Valentine was delighted ; she regained some of 
her color and spirits. All kinds of pleasure was so new 
to her, and this seemod a particularly pleasant kind. The 



TflS DUKE'S SECBET. 229 

duKe had been very attentive to her ; her pale, sweet 
face and beautiful ejes had touched him ; the frank, 
child-like confession of jealousy which she had 
made had touched him, too — had made him more im- 
patient for news of lost Naomi. If he could hear some- 
thing certain about her and could free himself from the 
curious inHuence that the beautiful American had over 
bim, he would take care that Lady Valentine never 
looked sad again. He said to himself that he was not 
exactly what would be called in love with her, but he did 
love her, and could have spent his life happily with her. 
It was rather, perhaps, the affection of an elder brother 
for his sister than of a lover for his love ; but she loved 
biTn with her whole heart, and he knew it. 

" Are you going to be kind to me over the fancy fair, 
San Sebastian ? " she asked him. " Shall you help me ? " 

" I am kind over everything to you, Valentine, and I 
will help you with all my heart." 

"I want a pretty stall," she continued. "I think I 
should like flowers, nothing but flowers * growing and 
blooming;' ^ov^evs in. jardinieres, in bouquets; single 
flowers and every variety. That would make a pretty 
stall, and please me better than anything else. Do you 
agree with me ? " 

'•'Yes, quite. You have a face that will just suit the 
flowers, Valentine; it will be the best thing you can do." 

" Miss Glynton has declined taking a stall," said Lady 
Valentine, with a quick look at the handsome, melan- 
choly face of the duke. 

" I could not picture Miss Glynton even with the most 
beautiful stall that could be invented," he replied. 

" And yet you can picture me," she replied, hastily. 

" I tell you the flowers will suit your face, Valentine, 
and you will suit them." 

" Why shoTild they not Miss Glynton ? " she asked. 

" I can not tell you, dear; only that she seems to me 
one of those born to be a queen and nothing else." 

" There are no queens in America," retorted Lady Val- 
entine. 

"Wherever there are women there will be queenSj 
chosen by nature," said the duke ; and then he paused, 
for her face had paled, and there was a mist in the beau" 
tdful eyeg. 



280 THE duke's secbet. 

"Which kind of women do you like best, those whom 
flowers suit or those who are queens by nature ? " 

" I think both perfect in their way," and Lady Valen- 
tine sighed. She had never been jealous before, she 
had never known the fire, and pain, and terror of the 
most tender passion that ever entered the heart of man. 
Miss Glynton was the only woman she had ever seen 
who had attracted the duke, to all others he was indif- 
ferent. She could not in her heart say that the duke was 
as indifferent to the heiress as to the rest. 

" Miss Glynton wUl be there I suppose," she said, " and 
having no stall she will be at liberty to walk about and 
criticize." 

"We shall all have that privilege," laughed the 
duke. 

" I am almost sorry now," said Lady Valentine, with 
delicious naivete, " that I have a stall. I shall be com- 
pelled to remain there while you wOl be showing every- 
thing that is beautiful to Miss Glynton." 

He laughed at the picture. 

" You will see that I am better than you think, Valen- 
tine, and I will keep my word." 

The next few days were all excitement. It reached its 
climax when one morning the duchess received a letter from 
Mr. Glynton, inclosing a check for five hundred pounds, 
which he placed at the disposal of the committee for the 
funds of the Children's Hospital, and in which he regretted 
that Miss Glynton could not accept their invitation and 
wished them every success. 

" That is princely generosity," said the duchess, with a 
pleased smile. "Mr. Glynton is one of nature's noble- 
men." 

" It is very kind of him," said the duke, with unaffected 
earnestness, " very kind." 

The news was received with enthusiasm at the ladies' 
committee meeting. Mr. Glynton was praised and com- 
phmented, and the universal opinion was that the whole 
affair would be a great success. Lady Valentine was the 
only one who was not enthusiastic in the millionaire's 
praise. 

" Five hundred pounds seem a great deal," she said to 
ibe duchess, " but it is not much for a rich man like him. 



' THE DUKE'S SECRET. 231 

Pei"iiaps lie thought it would purchase for him an admis- 
Bion into circles where at present he is not admitted." 

The duchess looked up in haughty wonder. 

"Valentine," she said, " that is the most unkind thing I 
have ever heard you say of any creature." 

"Has it vexed you?" cried the girl, kissing the white 
hand of the duchess. 

" Yes, my dear," she repUed; "it is an unkind construc- 
tion of a generous action." 

" Then I am sorry; sorry, you understand, for having 
vexed you, but not for my idea, I can not help that." 

" You must not repeat it, Valentine," said her grace. 

" I will not," promised Lady Valentine. 

"I thought, my dear, that you seemed to like Miss Glyn« 
ton," said the duchess. 

"So I do," replied the girl; but she did not add that 
lately she had learned to hate with almost deadly hatred 
the beauty which seemed to draw the duke away from 
her. 

Throughout the season they had gone continually into 
society, and they had met some of the most beautiful 
women in England, and she had never found out what the 
sensation of jealousy was like. She knew it now; her clear 
eyes and quick senses told her that in this woman's man- 
ner there was something strange — that she had a weird 
influence over the duke; and she could not understand 
what else it could be unless it was the dawn of love. 

CHAPTEB XL. 

AT THE FAIB. 

The day dawned brightly on which the fancy fair was to 
be held. It was as though nature knew Heaven blessed 
a good deed. The sun shone, as it seldom shines in Eng- 
land, with mellow, beautiful warmth — the warmth without 
heat; which is so pleasant. The sky was a deep, dark blue, 
with a few graceful white clouds that seemed to float 
lightly between earth and sky; summer beauty lay all over 
the land, the green boughs of the green trees rustled in 
the silent, southern winds; the green leaves rippled in the 
BunUt air, the flowers were all abloom, the hedges were 
covered with wild roses, the green grass was filled with 
buttercups and daisies, the birds sung aa though eveiy 



232 THE duke's secret. 

one of tbem had separately and individually lost its senses 
through joy. 

Even the most fashionable ladies looked and felt very 
devout over the weather. More than one pair of blue 
eyes was piously raised to the blue skies, while its owner 
thanked Heaven for this " really charming day." It may 
be that the ladies' committee went even further, and be- 
lieved it a small tribute to their own goodness and 
virtue. 

The magnificent grounds of the Duke of Mildmay had 
never been seen to greater advantage ; they sloped down 
to the very banks of the river, the stream was unusually 
broad just there, and formed a miniature bay ; needless 
to say that a picturesque boat-house had been built there, 
and that two beautiful pleasure boats were always in 
readiaess — the "Water Lily" and the "Kiver Queen." 
The Duke of Mildmay had often been envied the posses- 
sion of this magnificent villa. It was known as Eiver 
Reach ; he would rather have parted with his family seat 
than his villa on the Thames. 

The trees were matchless — grand old oaks, magnificent 
cedars, graceful ash-trees, silver and copper birches, inter- 
spersed with tall larches and graceful limes. The whole 
domain had been given up to the occasion; flags were 
flying from the pretty boat-house, the pleasure-boats were 
all ready for use, with gay awnings and cushions; three 
bands of music were placed in different parts of the 
grounds, and the white tents, each holding two or three 
stalls, were placed under the trees. It was as pretty as 
fairy-land. The most popular of all the refreshment tents 
was presided over by Mrs. Dulwich, with a perfect bevy 
of younger beauties; Mrs. Trelawney had a stall of superb, 
ripe fruit, perhaps the most elegant and attractive table 
there; picturesque masses of green and purple grapes, 
pineapple, peaches, apricots, with every fruit that grows, 
beautifully arranged. Then came the royal stalls, mag- 
nificently fitted, presided over by the most noble and win- 
some ladies of the land. Then Lady Valentine's magnifi- 
cent arrangement of flowers. The duke's words were 
quite true — she suited them — her sweet face bending over 
them was the fairest flower of all. The e'ite of London 
were gathered there, all that was most fashionable, most 
•legant, and most beautiful. Over all — over the fair 



THE duke's seceet. 233 

feces of the ladies, and their rich dresses, over the white 
tents and their magnificent stalls, the beautiful sun shone 
with its golden light, and the sweet summer breeze 
whispered as sweet as the music itself. 

The sun had seldom shone upon a more brilliant, and 
never on a more beautiful scene. The beauties were in 
great force. Mrs. Dulwich wore a dress ot old gold, with 
rich, trailing Spanish lace ; Mrs. Trelawney an exquisifd 
combination of cream color and rich amber ; Lady Valfc] 
tine a costume of white and red roses. She looked aib 
young and as fair as spring itself. The Duchess of 
Castlemayne was attired in the most exquisite taste. Such 
a bevy of beautiful and well-dressed women had rarely 
been gathered before. 

The duke had kept his promise. He drove the two 
ladies down, and did all in his power to help Lady 
Valentine. 

All the pretty flirtations and comedies of the day came 
to the service. Lady Belle Chambers, in an excellent 
costume of pale volet, was there, and the moment that 
Mr. Glynton saw her he said to himself, with the single 
exception of Pet, she was the handsomest woman present. 

He made his way to her at once, and was more kindly 
received than usual. 

The story of the check for the hospital had reached 
Lady Belle, and had charmed her ; she delighted in 
generosity. 

" Shall I have the happiness of taking you round to see 
the different tents ?" he asked ; and Lady Belle smiled 
compliance. 

" Miss Glynton has no stall," she said; "we will go to 
Lady Valentine Arden's first. I want some flowers. Why, 
the Duke of Castlemayne is with her — and who is that ? 
It must be handsome Sir Harry Bellairs. Decidedly we 
will go there first." 

Lady Valentine's face brightened when she saw Lady 
Belle. 

"Are you going to be my first customer?" she asked. 
"I am so glad; I feel nervous, and am afraid of making 
mistakes. Which of my lovely flowers shall you buy, Lady 
Belle?" 

"I had hoped for the honor of being the first pui> 
tktiaer," said the millionaire, in an injured tone of Toiot* 



204 THE duke's secret. 

" I," said the diike, " have been hoping for the samt 
honor." 

"And I," said handsome Sir Harry, in a tone of resigna- 
tion, " have been hngering here ever since the flowers ap- 
peared." 

" Oh, Sir Harry," began Lady Valentine. But he inter- 
rupted her with a smile and a bow. 

"Indeed, Lady Valentine, I have set my heart on that 
choice white rose ; it is for sale, of course ?" 

Lady Valentine's fair face flushed rosy red. She hastily 
drew the pretty bud to herself, and turning to the duke 
said : 

" This is the very one you selected ; you said that it 
was the most beautifully formed bud of all. I can not sell 
it — you wanted it." 

She had no more idea that she was revealing her secret 
than she had of flying. Lady Belle smiled in spite of her- 
self, and the millionaire looked amused. Handsome Sir 
Harry felt a sudden inclination to put some one to death, 
but he did not know who that some one was to be. 

" If you can seU the rosebud, do so," said the duke, 
feeling rather embarrassed. 

" I would not sell it on any consideration if you would 
really like it," said Lady Valentine. 

" Nor would I," said handsome Sir Harry, with a dark 
frown, " under those circumstances, offer to buy it." 

She looked up at him quickly. That the duke, his 
wishes and desires should be first with her, was so com- 
pletely natural ; she could not see how it could be other- 
wise ; it was the pain in Sir Harry's voice that awoke her 
attention. 

" You shall be my first customer," she said, " and I will 
find you the prettiest flower ; but this white bud was 
really for the duke." 

" See the conquering hero come," quoted Lady Belle, 
while Sir Harry said: 

" "We must of course yield to the duke." 

The duke himself longed to give him the white bud, 
but chivalry forbade it. 

" Look, Sir HaiTy," cried Lady Valentine ; " here is a 
beautiful spray of jjardenia; you shall have that. The 
price is marked. There, that is my first sale — wish m* 
•Udcess, Lady Bell*." 



THE duke's SECBE'x. 235 

**I deserve something to soothe my wounded feelings," 
said Sir Harry. 

"I can not give you a flower; they all are, even leaves 
and buds, for sale," she replied. 

" Then give me a kind word," he said, promptly, " that 
will be even better." 

" I do not know what to say, only that I am sorry I 
could not give you the bud you wanted, and, I am pleased 
with what you have purchased." 

" There," cried Lady Belle, " that is a very handsome 
omende, Sir Harry; you ought to be perfectly satisfied." 

" So I am," he replied, but he showed no signs of giving 
up his place then. 

Mr. Grlynton grew impatient ; he wanted a very beau- 
tiful bouquet for Lady Belle. Superb as they were, he 
would have liked something even better : there was one 
most beautiful, delicate spray of liUes of the valley with 
white heath and maiden-hair fern ; it pleased Lady Belle, 
and the millionaire presented it with the best grace in 
the world. She accepted it, and it seemed to him a very 
good augury for another offer which he longed to make. 

As the morning wore on the ground filled. The fair 
was a most brilliant success. The refreshment tent and 
the fruit stall were great objects of attraction, but the 
beauties did not carry off the palm. There were many 
persons who preferred the fair, fresh loveliness of Lady 
Valentine, others the stately beauty of Miss Glynton. 
Surely there never had been such a quantity of flowers 
sold. Lady Valentine had not one moment's leisure, and 
what was more delightful still, the pretty little frilled 
basket which did duty for a purse was almost full. 

" I am quite sure you ought to go away," she said, more 
than once to Sir Harry, who persisted in standing near 
the corner of the stall. " I am sure the committee wlU 
scold me, Sir Harry," she pleaded, but he was more like 
a sentinel. 

" They may scold, but they can not do that until the fair 
is over. How ungrateful you are to me, Lady Valentine, 
when I am doing my best to help you." 

He had made up his mind that so long as the duke 
stayed he would stay. 

Then they observed something like a commotion ; people 
fieenie4 to be looking all in one direction. 



236 THE DUIE*8 SECllT. 

"What is it?" asked Lady Valentine ; and Sir Harry, 
returning quietly to his place, said : 

" It is Miss Glynton, and every one is trying to look at 
her." 

Lady Valentine's eyes went straight to the duke's face. 
How could he say he was indifferent to this beautiful 
woman when his face had flushed at the very mention of 
her name — ^not only flushed, but had grown conscious 
and embarrassed. 

Sir Harry followed her glance, and took in the situation 
in a moment. Lady Valentine was jealous of the beautiful 
American because the duke liked her. 

" I am sure I am right," he thought, and he was pleased 
to think that she should see all the lovely women in the 
world had not power to draw his attention for one moment 
from her. 

CHAPTEE XLL 

LOVE ON THE WATER. 

A STATELY beautiful group of women made their way io 
Lady Valentine's stall The duchess was desirous of see- 
ing how her protegee succeeded. Lady Charteris, Miss 
Glynton, and several gentlemen were in attendance, and 
the duchess wondered why the fair young face bending 
over the flowers grew suddenly pale and pained; she 
felt rather surprised, too, at finding Handsome Harry in 
attendance. 

They stood face to face now, the lovely young girl in 
her dainty fairness amid the beautiful blossoms, with 
some faint sense of what was dawning in the hearts of 
both. 

"Bertrand," said the duchess, "I am glad you have 
been helping Lady Valentine; if you have a little leisure 
Miss Glynton would very much enjoy a row on the river. 
I have been telling her what an excellent oarsman you are.* 

" I am quite at Miss Glynton's service," he replied, 
with a low bow. 

"A row on the river!" cried Lady Valentine. "There, I 
knew that I should lose all that was most pleasant by 
having a stall. I love rowing, and I love the river." 

" Both loves shall be gratified," said the duchess. " I 
tim sure that the duke will be most delighted, and some 
one will kindly take care of your flowers while you ar« 



THE duke's secret. ^7 

"I must not lose any money by it," said Lady Talen- 
tine, simply. 

"Let me take it for you," said Captain Bellairs. 

" No, that would not do; it must be a lady," she replied, 
disconsolately, while the duke, the duchess, and Miss 
Glynton were busily looking over the flowers. 

" Lady Valentine," whispered Harry, and there was a 
passionate pleading in his eyes, " let me take you on the 
river; do, you have never said one kind word to me to- 
day, and you know how I worship you. Do let me row 
you up the stream for half an hour," 

"No, thank you. Captain Bellairs; you are very kind, 
but I must go with the duke now. "WTiat do you say?" 
for Harry had muttered something which, under hia 
moustache, had a very queer sound. " What do you say 
of the duke ?" 

"Nothing — nothing," he replied, hastily. "He will 
take Miss Glynton up the river; that will make him 
happy; let me take you, then I shall be happy." 

"How do you know it will make him happy?" shs 
asked. 

" Look — there can not be much mistake." 

If he had known how he should pain her he would cer- 
tainly not have spoken. She did look, and saw Mis» 
Glynton talking to him in an earnest fashion that cer- 
tainly made her wonder. The dark blue eyes were look^ 
ing straight into his. He could not possibly know what 
a pang went through her heart as she saw the two beau- 
tiful heads bent over the blossoms together; yet she felt 
an instinctive dislike to him for the pain he Lad caused 
her. 

"I am sorry to refuse you," she said, "but I can not 
go with you to-day." 

She felt sorry when she saw the handsome young fac« 
blanch with pain. 

"You are cruel," he said; "all women are cruel. Tou 
are the most cruel, because you are the most beautiful. X 
hope you will never know what pain is." 

" I did not mean to pain you," she said, gently. 

" Oh, no, you did not think of me at all — why should 
you? lam sorrv I have intruded so Imig upon you. I 
ought to have seen I was not wanted." 

She understood this better than «he understood Ui« 



TEE duke's secret. 

duke's quiet; it appealed more strongly to her heart and 
feelings. 

"Now, captain, you know I am sorry I have hurt you." 

" You would not vex me because you are naturally kind 
of heart, and would not hurt anything," he said; " but you 
have shown me that you are perfectly indifferent to my 
feelings." 

" I knew," said Lady Valentine, " that this would not b« 
a happy day. I shall never like the words 'fancy fair' 
again." 

Then she looked up suddenly, for there was some stir 
in the group. The d;ike was going away with Miss Glyn- 
ton and Lady Charteris, the duchess declined going up 
the river because it was so warm on the water. Lady 
Valentine looked to see if there was one shadow of regret 
in the duke's eyes at leaving her; but no, he was listening 
to Miss Glynton, who soon after interrupted her conver- 
sation with him to say, with a ehanuing smile to Lady 
Valentine that she hoped to look over her beautiful 
flowers again; then she went away leaning on the duke's 
arm, and the very sunlight seemed to die out for Lord Ar- 
den's daughter; the flowers lost all their fragrance; the 
sun, which had appeared so brilliant before, was weari- 
some in the extreme to her. She was frightened at herself. 

True, Harry remained — true and staunch, resisting all 
the temptations held out to him, devotiug his whole time 
and attention to her; watching the sweet face as it grew 
paler, and hating himself because he could not help know- 
ing why it paled; wishing one moment the Duke of 
Castlemayne were ten thousand miles away; that ho 
would marry Miss Glyntou ; and again, with nobler love 
coming to the rescue, wishing that the duke loved her 
and would make her happy; it was so plainly to be seen 
that she loved him. True, people might think that thero 
existed between them the kindly liking one member of a 
household should have for another; but he knew more 
than that. To him the girl betrayed her love in every 
word and every look. 

The duke and Miss Glynton walked down to the rivei 
bank where the " River Queen," with its pretty little awn- 
ing of crimson and white awaited them. 

" Are we to go alone ?" asked Miss Glynton. " Will nol 
Lady Charteris go with us ?" •, 



THE DUKE'S SECEET. 239 

V 

' ^nt no one seemed inclined to accept tlie invitation ; 
^aid the duke was not quite sure in his mind whether he 
wanted another person. During the whole day he had 
not been alone with Miss Glynton, and he was anxious to 
see whether this same mysterious influence would increase 
or decrease. 

" How lovely the river is," said Miss Glynton. " After 
all there is nothing like an English river for beauty." 

" Have you seen the Mississippi ?" asked the duke. 

" Yes. I have been on the Mississippi and the Amazon 
both," she replied. 

"Then the Thames must seem like a little brook in 
comparison ?" he said. 

" Yes ; but the Thames has a beauty all its ovm," she 
said. " I admire the lovely river reaches, the green banks, 
the gardens that come down to the water's edge, the 
reeds and the rushes, the water lilies and the boughs 
that dip into the river. Our great, rushing, rapid rivers 
are mighty seas; this is a summer's breath compared with 
them. Still, I am quite sure that I like this best." 

"I am glad to hear it," he replied; and then he busied 
himself in making her comfortable, in arranging the 
cushions, in placing the gay awning so that it protected 
her face from the sun. She was silent for some minutes 
while he vigorously plied the oars, and they were away 
from the miniature bay — in the middle of the stream. 

"Keep as near to the bank as you can," she said, "there 
is nothing I like so much as the bank of the river. Do you 
see those lovely, half-drowned forget-me-nots growing 
there? I call that a volume of poetry. Do you ser that 
great tree, with its boughs just touching the water? If 1 
were a bird, that is the tree I should choose to liva in." 

He saw more of her that day than he had ever before. 
He began to understand her character. He saw that she 
had an artist's eye and a poet's soul. No beauty, either of 
sound or sight, escaped her. Things which others passed 
over she found a whole world of delight in. 

" How much you love nature," he said, after a time. 
"You have the true poet's love for her." 

"I have had all my life," she replied, "and it will dit 
only when I die." 

As he looked at her he thought it was sad that one so 
beftutiful must ever die. And she bending her head ot^ 



210 THE duke's secret. 

the side of the boat, watched the feathered spray from the 
oars and the clear sweet waters as they seemed to float 
over it. 

" It is like dream-land," she said, after a time. 

" A land," said the duke, " that I should like to live in 
forever." 

CHAPTER XTJT., 

THB COWABD's confession. 

«I THiHK," said Miss Glynton, " that we have been far 
enough." 

*' Are you tired ?" asked the duke. 

" No," she repUed ; " to tell you the truth, I do not 
think I should ever tire. I enjoy this much better than 
the fancy fair." 

" Do you really ? then it must be as I tell you ; you 
have a poet's soul," said the duke. 

" Beautiful as it is, we must return," she said ; " why, 
we are in the very silence of the river ; there are no 
houses, no sounds ; let us go near the bank, under that 
tree if you can get the boat there, and enjoy the silence 
for a few minutes, then we will return back." 

He did as she directed him, rowed near the bank and 
rested under the great shady boughs of the tree. He 
laid the oars across the boat, and when the last drop of 
water had fallen from them into the brimming river, there 
was no sound to be heard. 

He looked in silence at her rapt face. She had forgot- 
ten everything except that beautiful world of nature lying 
around her ; the dark-blue eyes hngered on the clear, 
sweet river, and its fringed banks, on the lilies that slept 
on its bosom, on the fringe of green grass, on the tall, 
straight reeds, on the lovely light and shadows that came 
and went, on the rippling foliage and the distant hills. 
All that was artificial, mean or common in this world had 
fallen from them. In the old galleries of Rome or Venice 
he had seen in the far-famed pictured faces just the same 
bright, rapt, heavenly CT.pression. 

She was sitting with her hands folded, her dress of 
creamy silk and rich black lace making her look like a 
picture just stepped from its frame, her face half turned 
from him, so that the clear-cut, beautiful profile was seen 
to admiration. The sunlight came filtered through the 
leaves overhead ; a hisd was singing in the greeD 



THE duke's SECEIT. 241 

branches ; there was the smallest ripple in the water at 
it ran past the boat ; a faint whisper of the wind as it 
sung among the branches, and the duke sat watching the 
beautiful rapt face. 

As he looked at the clear-cut, lovely profile a new sense 
of familiarity with it came over him. He seemed to know 
it better than he knew the full face. With its clear, direct 
glance it was more familiar to him, and the same weird 
feeling came over him. He had certainly seen lips with 
those lovely curves before ; he had seen the same 
exquisite molding of the eyebrows, the same long lashes, 
the clear straight brows. 

All at once it flashed across him. The birds sung in 
the trees, the water washed against the boat with a clear, 
silvery sound, and it came to him with the unerring 
swiftness of a revelation. She was like Naomi. 

Stranger, American though she was, born in a distant 
land, brought up in an atmosphere Naomi had never 
even breathed, still she was like her. He wondered he 
had not seen it before. It was that likeness to Naomi 
which had made him feel so strange when with her, and 
he remembered that even his mother had found some- 
thing familiar in her face. It struck him dumb. Then, 
in speaking, she turned her full face, with its clear, direct 
glance on him and the likeness diminished. She saw 
that lie looked hke one who had received a shock ; but 
she asked him no questions. After a few minutes he said 
to her : 

" I have found out a mystery." 

The beautiful face changed suddenly ; wonder, fear 
and pain came over it, her Hps quivered, and she waited 
for a few minutes before she answered him. 

" A mystery," she said. " I thought most of the mys- 
teries of this world had been solved long ago." 

" Whenever I have been with you I have had a strange 
sense of having met and known you before ; now I have 
found out what it is." 

" Have you ?" she replied, slowly ; and he saw her lips 
grow white. " Have you really ?" she added. 

" Yes, you are very much like some one I knew and 
loved many years ago ; she was a young girl, almost a 
child ; but there are some lines in your face exactly like 
iwrs." 



242 THE duke's secret. 

She was silent again for some minutes, with her face 
turned away from him and her hands clinched. 

" The old adage that no two faces are quite alike is an 
exploded idea," she said. 

" It is not quite true," he replied. " I have seen like- 
nesses myself so strong that I have been quite puzzled 
over them. Now, although you have never been in this 
same quarter of the globe before, this lady whom I knew 
years ago and you are wonderfully alike. 

" I have read that no two faces, no two blades of grass, 
no two green leaves are alike, take the world through, nor 
two pairs of hands. The nicety of creation must be won- 
derful, if that be the case." 

" It is wonderful," he said, reverently. 'I think your 
likeness to — to — this lady of whom I speak is the most 
wonderful I have ever seen." 

" Perhaps," she said, quietly, " you did not know her 
rery well." 

" Oh, yes I did ; she lived — " he paused abruptly. 
" Yes, I know her well." 

" Is she living here in London now ? " asked Miss Glyn- 
ton. " I should like to see my likeness." 

" Ah, no ; I wish she were. I do not know where she 
is; whether she be living or dead. It is more than twelve 
years since I have seen her." 

" Then you have forgotten her," she said, quietly. 
" How can you tell whether I am like her or not ? " 

" I have not forgotten her. I remember her face as it 
was then. She was very young. By this time she will 
have grown into beautiful womanhood, if she be hviug. 
I do not feel sure that I should recognize her if I met 
her. You are wonderfully like her. It is only in the 
profile though I see such a great resemblance, it is not in 
the full face ; and though it may seem a strange thing to 
say, I do not remember seeing the profile of your face 
before." 

" I hope," she said, quietly, " that all the memories that 
my likeness to one you knew years ago brings to you are 
pleasant ones." 

'' God knows," he said, quietly. 

" Does that mean yes or no ? Are they pleasant or lUJ- 
pleasant, sad or sweet?" 



THZ DUKZ'S SSGBST. 2€b 

" They are both — alL I never have the courage to face 
them. I run away from them." 

" I should not have thought you -wanting in courage," 
sbiB said. 

" There are so many kinds of courage," he said, sadly. 
" I am frightened at nothing human. I am as brave, I 
hope, as any other man; but once in my life, when tbe 
courage of a moment would have saved me, I proved my^ 
self a coward. But why do I talk to you in tins fashion ? 
1 forget that we are strangers — two people who have met 
only in society ; and I ought, by all the laws of good- 
breeding and etiquette, to be entertaining you, instead 
©f which I am tiring you." 

She turned her dark-blue, clear eyes full upon his face. 

" You interest me very much indeed; pray do not think 
me heartless. Flattery and compUments are very well in 
a ball room, they go well with gas-light and artificial 
flowers; but out here in the fresh, sweet air — out on the 
river, who could be anything but natural, simple, kind 
of heart. You interest me ; you could not bore me." 

" That is kindly said," replied the duke; " it is the very 
likeness to the lady of whom I speak which draws the 
truth of my heart from me. I can not otherwise tell why 
I have spoken as I have done." 

" We all make great mistakes in our life," she said, 
slowly; "sometimes through pride, through want of jus- 
tice, or bravery; and you, you say, made one great mis- 
take." 

"One great mistake," he replied; "one that has 
shadowed my life, and that nothing can ever undo. It was 
the cowardice of a few minutes. I thought I could put 
everything right afterward, but I was mistaken. It has 
cost me — ah, Heaven ! — the happiness of my life.'* 

" You must not say that," she cried. " How can you 
tell?" 

"I know; but. Miss Glynton, forget all I have been say- 
ing. What has induced me to talk in this strain ? The 
sxinshine and the river, I am afraid. Will you forget what 
I have said?" 

" Is it really your wish that I should do so ?'* she asked. 

" Yes, really, Miss Glynton." 

** You never can tell me, then," she said, ** what tkt 
cirGumstauces were ? " 



244 THE duke's secret. 

For one instant the whole scene came before him ; he 
saw his proud, haughty mother looking contemptuously 
at the beautiful kneeling figure ; he saw the face that 
seemed so full of desolation when she cried out, " I ap- 
peal to you, Lord St. Albans." It was but the fantasy of 
a moment, then it was gone. He shuddered. 

" No, I could not teU all the circumstances — they would 
not interest you," he cried. 

She looked at him with grave interest as she an- 
swered : 

" I have felt sure always that you were not a happy 
man. To my thinking, you have not a happy face." 

" I do not deserve happiness," said the duke, gravely, 
" and I shall never have it. But, Miss GJynton, you wUl 
promise me never to mention a word of what I have said 
to you ? The strange likeness took me imawares. And 
now we will return." 

He took up the oars again, but they were scarcely 
needed ; the boat seemed to float down the stream. They 
had been longer than they knew, and Miss Glynton said 
half quietly: 

" We had better go back at once to Lady Valentine's 
stall. I promised to buy some flowers, and I must keep 
my promise." 

So when the "Eiver Queen" lay once more on the 
bank, they walked slowly back to the scene of the fancy 
fair. 

"We shall never be like strangers again," said the 
duke as they draw near to the white tents and the music. 

"No," replied Miss Glynton; "I shall never forget this 
afternoon on the river. Who should have thought, 
from seeing you, so calm, quiet, and like other people, 
who would have imagined that you had a tragedy in your 
life." 

"I believe every one has more or less," said the duke; 
"there is more suffering in hfe than pleasure." 

" Yet we try hard after the pleasure," said Miss Glyn- 
ton, with a smile as the " Sweetheart " waltz fell upon her 
ear. 

They went back to Lady Valentine's stall; but over 
the duke's handsome face lay a cloud of sadness, and the 
beautiful lips of his companion quivered with something 
more like pain than fatigue. 



THi duke's secret. 245 

\ CHAPTEE XLin. 

.'" A STARTLING QUESTION. 

A SWEET face, that by this time had grown very pale 
and tired, was evidently looking out for them ; two wist- 
ful eyes, too kind for reproach, greeted them. Captain 
Bellairs, true to his trust, was still there ; but Miss Glyn- 
ton uttered a little cry of surprise as she saw that almost 
all the flowers were gone. 

"Yes," said Harry, " Lady Valentine has had a splendid 
success. I should say she has sold far more than anybody 
else. She looks tired. A few minutes on the river now 
would do her good." 

No light of response came into the duke's eyes; he was 
watching the face whose wonderful significance he had 
but so recently discovered. He could not have gone back 
to the river, much as he loved her and desired to please 
her ; he could not have returned — henceforth the river 
would be a haunted spot for him. 

" I think," he said, in a low voice, " if you feel as tired 
as you look, Valentine, it will be best, dear, to order the 
carriage and drive home. Shall I find the duchess ? " 

" I have just seen her. She has been very kind to 
me. Thank you, I am tired, but quite able to finish my 
day.*' 

He noticed that although she spoke she did not look at 
him ; the eyes that always shone with such a kindly light 
for her, were averted from him, and his heart ached for 
her; he knew that she was jealous of Miss Glynton, the 
woman who bore — he could see it now — so strange a like- 
ness to his Idfct wife. 

"Valentine," he said, in a low voice, "you are cross with 
me; do not deny it, my dear. You are tired, I know; but 
that is not all, you are vexed with me. You are always 
truthful; tell me what it is." 

" I do not think you have been kind to me to-day," she 
said. " I had looked forward to to-day, and it has been 
very dreary for me." 

" But why, Valentine ?" he asked eagerly. " You have 
had great success; you have been really the queen of the 
fete. You have even eclipsed those queens of beauty Meg- 
dames Dulwich and Trelawnejl" 



246 THE duke's secret. 

The violet eyes were raised to his now, looking into 
them with quiet reproach deeper than all words. 
I "Do you think all that, even if every word were strictly 
true, gives me any pleasure ?" she asked. 

"It should do so," he answered. 

"What, when you were away," she said; " away on the 
river with — weU, with the lady whom I know you think 
beautiful i* How co\ild I be happy ?" 

" But, my dear Valentine," he began. 

She interrupted him. 

" No, I am not your dear Valentine, San Sebastian. If 
I had been you would not have left me so long." 

" What a child it is," thought the duke. " How shall I 
quiet her ?" 

" Even when you come back," she continued, " you did 
not ask me if I should like a row, if only for ten minutes." 

" I ask you now." Then the sweet, wistful eyes seemed 
to brighten just a little, as she continued: "Now that I 
have looked more closely at you, you do not seem to have 
enjoyed yourself very much; you have a shade of melan- 
choly over you. Perhaps you would have been quite as 
happy with me." 

The sweet face was looking at him with such wistful 
pathos, such keen expectation, he could not help saying 
what was probably true, for the hour on the river had its 
bitter pain. 

"lam sure I should, Valentine; lam always happy 
with you. Why do you reproach me ?" 

Then he suddenly became aware that Miss Glynton 
was watching him and Lady Valentine with an intent 
look in her violet eyes. Lady Valentine saw the same 
thinj:!^, and suddenly awoke to the conviction that a lover's 
quaiTel at a fancy fair was out of place. 

" I should like, said Miss Glynton, in her musical voice, 
** to purchase some flowers, Lady Valentine. I see that 
you have disposed of a great number. Can you find one 
that would be a memento of a pleasant day ? " 

But Lady Valentine did not stir one step from the 
duke's side, evidently she was in no hurry to find flowers 
for her brilliant rival. 

" I am afraid," she said, " that I bav^ noOQ left th&| 
Would please you, Miss Glynton." 



THE DUKE'B SECRET. 247 

•Weil," laughed the beautifxil woman, "I will be 
pleased with anything you have. I must carry one away 
with me." 

A curious look of determination came over the fair 
young face — a look of resolve that came into the violet 
eyes and touched the sweet lips. She said to herself, 
"No," that the American beauty had taken the duke from 
iier ; but she should not carry off a flower as well. 

The two were once more standing face to face. 

" No," said Lady Valentine, turning carelessly away, 
*' I am sure that I have nothing left that would please 
you." 

And the determination not to part with even one leaf 
for her rival was so plainly written on Lady Valentine's 
face that the duke felt himself compelled to go to the 
rescue. He knew that Lady Valentine was jealous, even 
though Miss Glynton did not understand it. 

"I see some very fine strelitza regionoe," he said. "Is 
that a favorite flower of yours, Miss Glynton ?" 

"Yes; I am especially fond of it," said the heiress with 
a smile. 

The situation amused her, although she did not quite 
understand it. 

"That is all promised, duke," said Lady Valentine, 
hastily. 

No, she had taken the duke away, and had detained 
him the whole of that bright sunny afternoon; she could 
not have a leaf, not even a thorn. 

The duke thought matters were growing serious; he 
must change the aspect of things in some manner. Cap- 
tain Bellairs watched the whole proceedings with an 
amused smile. 

"I should bet on Lady Valentine," he thought to him- 
self. " She will never let the other one have a leaf." 

The war went on; Miss Glynton thinking she must be 
mistaken that Lady Valentine was sincere in thinking no 
flower in her stall fit for the price she would give for it; 
Lady Valentine equally resolved that she should not have 
even one bud. The duke was obliged to interfere — any- 
thing to change the current of ideas in Lady Valentine's 
mind. 

*• I have not purchased a bouquet yet," he said. " Atq 
you quite sure you have nothing for me ?" ^ 



t4B tBX duke's SEGBIT. 

Her whole face changed — ^brightened, grew tender 
and sweet. 

"For you I" she said. "Yes, I have something that 
•mil please you ; I have a most beautiful eucharist Uly, 
but it cost an enormous price." 

" Never mind the price," he said. " Charity, we know, 
at these times is extoi-tionate. Let me have the eucharist 
lily. Lady Valentine." 

She took the lovely white flower from a vase where it 
iiad been carefully preserved, and held it up to him. 

" Is it not beautiful ?" she asked, with a smile as fair 
«nd open as the flower itself. 

Miss Glynton looked at it with admiration. 

" "Why would you not let me have that. Lady Valen- 
tine ? the eucharist Hly is the flower I love best of all." 

The duke rushed to the rescue ; he saw that in another 
moment Lady Valentine would have uttered some rash 
words. There was but one thing to be done. 

"Do me the honor of accepting this, Miss Glynton," 
he said, offering the beautiful white lily to her. 

She took it with a grateful smile and a beautiful blush ; 
but if he had caressed with one hand he had stabbed with 
the other. Lady Valentine turned with a face white and 
set, like a stone mask. So that is what he wanted this 
flower for I 

Just as suddenly when she saw the change on the fair 
young face, it flashed across Miss Glynton's mind that 
Lady Valentine was jealous of her ; nothing else would 
explain that strange conduct. Jealous of her and the 
Duke of Castlemayne ; it must be so. 

" Captain Bellairs," said Lady Valentine, " I wish you 
would take me to Mrs. Dulwich's stall, I should like some 
tea." 

She bowed coldly to the duke, still more coldly to Miss 
Glynton, then turned away with Captain Bellairs. 

" That was not fair," she said, indignantly ; " the duke 
ought pot to have given that flower away." 

"I do not see how he could help it," said Captain Bel- 
lairs, honestly. "I must say, even at the risk of displeas- 
ing you, that in his place I am afraid I should have done 
the same thing. It was growing quite alarming. Why 
would you not let Miss Glynton have a flow«r ? " 



THE duke's secbet. 249 

**I do not like Miss Glynton," she replied, nor could 
anything induce her to say more. 

The beautiful, brilliant day was drawing to a close at 
last ; many of the visitors had gone ; there was a con- 
tinual roll of carriages fiom the grounds to the high- 
road; the sun was setting over the river. The ladies had, 
by the duke's earnest invitation, gone to the villa to refresh 
themselves; the duchess accepted the invitation for Lady 
Valentine's sake ; Mr. and Miss Glynton were going to 
drive Lady Belle Chalmers home to dine with them. 
They met in a group. While the duchess spoke to Lady 
Belle and Mr. Glynton, the beautiful heiress saw and 
noticed nothing but the angry avoidance in Lady Valen- 
tine's eyes; she never looked toward her or gave the least 
sign that she recognized her, and Miss Glynton was 
almost sorry she still carried the eucharist lily in her 
hand. 

" She must love him," she said to herself. ** Unless she 
loved him she would not be jealous of me." 

No one noticed Lady Valentine's coldness — all were 
busied and engrossed in their own affairs. The duke was 
to drive back with the two ladies; but it occurred to him 
that he might as well see Miss Glynton to the carriage. 
Mr. Glynton had already offered his arm to Lady Belle. 

As they walked through the grounds to the drive, 
where the carriage stood waiting, she looked up into his 
face with that direct, steady glance of hers, and said: 

" I wonder if I shall find courage to say what is on my 
mind, duke?" 

" I hope you will, if it be anything you have to say to 
me," he replied. 

" I want to ask you a question, and you must think be- 
fore you give me your answer," she said. "You have 
spoken to me of pain; now which do you think is the 
most cruel deed, to take the life from a human body by 
poison or sword, or to break a human heart ?" 

" Do you believe that human hearts ever break ?" h* 
asked. 

" Do I ? Yes, most assuredly," she replied. 

" Then I should say the most cruel thing is to break a 
human heart." 

" Take the words home," sne said, earnestly. " No, 
there is no time for questions; here is the carriage and 



250 THE duke's secret. 

Lady Belle is waiting. Only — remember always what yon 
have just said." 

CHAPTEE XLIV. 

A FAIUT DBESS. 

It was in the deep twilight of the same evening tha- 
the duke went to the piauo. He enjoyed singing tohimt 
self. The duchess had fallen asleep over a book she was 
supposed to be reading; she would not for the world have 
allowed any one to guess that she was sleej^ing. Lady Valen- 
tine had taken up a book of poems, and was seeking the 
last rey of daylight at the open window. The air he 
played was sweet, fanciful, yet with a tinge of sadness in 
it It roused her, and she began to listen to the words: 

" By studying my lady's eyes 

I've grown so learned day by day, 
' So Macchiavelian in this wise, 

That when I send her flowers I say 

** To each small flower, no matter what— 
Geranium, pink or tube-rose, 
Syringas, or forget-me-not. 
, Or violet — before it goes; 

** * Be not triumphant, little flower. 

When on her haughty heart yon lie, 
But modestly enjoy the hour; 
She'll weary of you by and by,' " 

She stole up to him, noiselessly, and clasped her white 
hands across his eyes. He caught them and kissed tUem. 

" Now," she said, " if even you call me a witch, I will 
tell you who you were thinking of when you sung those 
words." 

" You could not, my dear, if you tried," he said. 

" I can. You were thinking about the eucharist lily you 
gave Miss Glynton, and wondering if she threw it away on 
the dusty high-road, or if she carried it safely home, and 
placed it, like the heroines in novels, in a beautiful vase, 
or whether it lies forgotten on her toilet-table. Now, be 
quite frank, am I not right ?" 

He looked at her with wondering admiration. 

" You are quite right," he said. " It was thinking thos© 
thoughts that made me sing that song." 

" Never try to hide your thoughts from me another 
time." said Lady Valentine, laughingly. "You wUl not 



THE duke's SECBET. .i51 

succeed. I am not content, though, for I am quite sure 
you will give Miss GljTiton more flowers to weary of by 
vid by." 

It was well for Lady Valentine's peace of mind that she 
did not see how her eucharist lUy was treasured, how care- 
fully it was cai'ried home, how the beautiful, queenly 
woman took it with her own hands to her own room, how 
she poured some clear bright water into a costly Venetian 
glass and put the white flower into it. 

"Drink," she said, as though it had been Hving and 
could understand, " drink, sweet lily, after the hot dust 
and the sun." 

How lovingly she caressed the white leayes, with their 
beautiful touches of green. 

"From him tome," said the fair, queenly woman, as 
she stood over it, calmly surveying it. "From him to me. 
"Why, if each leaf could shed a heai-t's blood, I ought to 
rend it to pieces; but I will keep it." Then she rang for 
her maid; there was no trace of that ripple of passionate 
scorn on her face, no sign of the tempest of emotion in 
her violet eyes. " Bring me my tablets," she said. " I 
want to see what engagement I have for to-morrow even- 
ing." 

The maid returned with the ivory tablets, and Miss 
Glynton looked at them. 

" Lady Layard's ball. Lady Layard ! That is the Duch- 
ess of Castlemayne's protegee. Lady Nell. The Castle- 
maynes will be there, and Lady Valentine too. I must 
teach that young child a little humility. Yet how pretty 
she looked when she defied me. She would not let mo 
have a flower. It was useless asking. I suppose, poor 
child, she loves him." Then aloud to her waiting-maid, 
•he said : " Lucy, I want a very particular toilet for to- 
morrow evening ; do you think I could get it ?" 

" I should think, madame, that money can procure any- 
thing. If it be possible, I should say the possibility would 
be with you." 

" You had better see Madame Elise at once. I want a 
ball-dress that must be almost a fairy dress, of white and 
pale green, exactly the green that you see on this flower; 
and I want — listen attentively, Lucy — I want the dress 
made so as to suggest the flower ; touched, you see, with 
green, not overladen. Then I want as many of thest 



261 THE DUKE'S SBCRET. 

lilies as you can get ; you must go to the first florist in 
London — they must be found. I want sufficient for the 
bodice of my dress and for a bouquet." 

" What taste madame has!" sighed the girl, wonder- 
ing how such an elaborate costume could be got ready. 

"You have the idea of the dress, Lucy," said the 
beautiful heiress ; " white, touched with green, to sug- 
gest, so far as a dress can suggest, a flower. It must be 
trimmed with long, trailing green grasses and the same 
lilies. You quite understand, Lucy? You can give 
Madame Elise a clear idea, can you ? Remember, it is 
not so much a matter of taste, it has a meaning, and no 
instructions of mine must be changed." 

Miss Glynton would not go out again this evening, 
although three balls were on the list. She did not even go 
down to dinner, but sent an apology, saying that she was 
much fatigued with the long day at the fancy fair. Har- 
dress B. Glynton dined alone, then went to spend the 
evening with Lady Belle Chalmers. 

While the duke was singing his little song, and won- 
dering what she had done with his present, Miss Glyn- 
ton sat with the Venetian glass before her steadfastly 
watching the flower, her mind full of a thousand thoughts, 
her heart filled with a thousand memories. From the 
very expression of her face it was to be seen that there 
was a great struggle going on in her mind — that tender 
and loving thoughts, fierce and cruel thoughts, divided 
her mind. 

It was not a pleasant evening that the beautiful heiress 
spent even in that magnificent chamber, where the treas- 
ures of the earth seemed gathered ; she did not even 
think out her thoughts, for she was still perplexed. 

" Perhaps," she said to herself, " the right idea, the 
right thing to do will come to me in my dream ; but let 
what may be, Lady Valentine Arden must learn her 
lesson." 

They were a long way apart ; but it was very evident 
that the same idea was in tue mind of both ladies — each 
had resolved upon giving the other a lesson. 

It did not promise well for the harmony of their next 
meeting. A strange coincidence happened about the 
flowers. 

Lady Val^^^'^Q, repenting of her ill-humor and 



THE duke's beoret. 253 

jealousy, also to sliow the duke tliat she had quite for- 
given bim, sent to the florist's for a eucharist lily for him 
to wear at Lady Layard's ball. She reserved for herself 
always the pleasant task of finding flowers for him; and 
he was always j^leasedwith what she had; he smiled when 
he saw the eucharist lily. 

He understood at once that it was the amende honorable 
that she wished to make; he kissed the white leaves be- 
fore she fastened it for him. 

"I shall never be so foolish," said Lady Valentine, "as 
to be jealous over a flower again." 

" You never need," replied the duke, and they drove oil 
to Lady Layard's, while hundreds of pale, golden stars 
burned in the blue skies. 

Lady Valentine had hardly given a thought as to 
whether Miss Glynton would be there or not. She was 
too happy in being friends again with the duke — indeed, 
better friends than ever, for he had never said so much 
to her as on the night on which they made up their 
little quarrel. Yet it was a little relief when they 
reached the magnificent ball-room to see no trace of her. 

And Lady Videntine was for some time queen of the 
fete ; all the most eligible men in the room surrounded 
her, every dance prayed for as though a life depended on 
it. There were pretty girls and beautiful women in abund- 
ance, but wherever Miss Glynton was not, there Lady 
Valentine was always queen. Something of relief came 
over her. She had proimsed to be amiable, and she had 
no intention whatever of being jealous; still, as she owned 
to herself, it was much better not to be tempted — there 
was not such danger of falling. She was talking happily 
enough to one of her partners when a few words, casually 
spoken by a lady passing by, arrested her attention. 

" A very happy coincidence, she said — " very happy; 
the most novel announcement of an engagement that I 
remember to have heard." 

" Do you think it an engagement ?" asked another 
voioe. 

But Lady Valentine did not hear the reply — the speakers 
had passed on; but she remembered the words. She 
fancied once or twice that the sound she heard was the 
murmur of admiration. Suddenly the gentleman to wheia 
fibe was talking, cried: 



264 THE duke's shcret. 

J 

" What a beautiful woman! Who is she? What an 
exquisite dress !" 

Lady Valentine followed his glance, and almost started 
■with horror when her eyes fell upon that queenly woman 
in her magnificent dress, diamonds shining on her white 
breast and white, rounded arms — surely the most beauti- 
ful woman that ever graced a ball-room. She had not 
failed in her design for a dress, for the very moment that 
Lady Valentine's eyes were upon that superb costume, 
she said to herself: " Whj', she has tried to look like a 
eucharist lily herself!" 

The next moment she saw the duke bowing before her, 
his eyes brightening with pleasure at the lovely woman. 
It was certainly a coincidence that he should wear the 
flower she had made the marvel of her whole costume. 
Yet Lady Valentine knew, and was just enough to own, 
that this at least was her fault, not his. 

Surprise, anger, bitter jealousy, unreasoning fear at 
first made her white and speechless. Her partner won- 
dered what had suddenly chilled the laughter and silvery 
words; he little dreamed that the loving young heart 
beating so near him was torn by anguish too great for 
words — he Httle dreamed that the sight of that beautiful 
woman had stabbed the young girl as with a sharp- 
pointed sword. He almost forgot his companion in the 
wonder of those beautiful eucharist lilies. 

" Who is that lady ?" he asked again, and Lady Valen- 
tine compelled herself to reply: 

Miss Glynton, the American beauty and heiress." 

" Could you introduce me. Lady Valentine ?" he asked, 
almost impatiently. 

" No," she replied, coldly ; " I do not know her — that is, 
not enough to introduce any one else to her," 

What a bitter, cruel, crying shame it seemed to her that 
this woman should have dared dress in that fashion ; it 
was done to captivate him, and was the very thing she 
knew to please and fascinate a man. Such deference, 
such a desire to please ! 

As for the duke himself, when his eyes fell upon that 
beautiful apparition, he did not know whether to feel 
uost flattered or most aunoyed f«r Lady Valentine's sake. 



TH£ DUK£'S SEOBfiT. 26ft 



CHAPTER XLV. 

"do you UKE loss GLTNT05?'* 

** I SHALL feel half ashamed to meet him again," said 
Lady Valentine to herself as she went to her room. " I 
wish there were no dinners ; I know that I have behaved 
wretchedly to Miss Glynton, but there are limits to human 
endurance, and I have come to the end of mine. Why 
should she have taken up all his time and attention ? — 
why should he have given them to her ? He knows how 
dearly I love him, and he should not have left me for 
her. She shall not take him from me, beautiful, calm and 
grand as she is. I will give him up to no one in this world 
but to her — to the woman who is his wife." 

She was a child in years, but a woman in heart — this 
beautiful young girl who had given her love so entirely 
to the duke. Since he had trusted her with his story she 
had, if possible, loved him better. She had a correct 
judgment, clearer ideas, broader views of life than many 
other people. She could understand the the duke's f oUy, 
his mad love for a beautiful young girl, and his dread 
lest his mother — whose hope and pride he was — should 
know it. 

To others that which he had done might seem like the 
excess of cowardice ; she, knowing the proud, haughty 
nature of the duchess, could make allowances for it ; she 
could see that, over a nature brave and fearless as bis 
was, she had a terrible influence. 

" I know," sighed Lady Valentine, "that if I had been 
even her daughter, I should not have dared to tell her a 
love story that would have displeased her. It is a mis- 
fortune when mothers are proud." 

She was loath to admit any flaw in this idol of hers ; 
she would rather find excuses for him than admit, even 
to her inmost heart, that he had ever done wrong. There 
had been nothing definitely settled between them. The 
duke knew she loved him, but there seemed to be an 
understanding between them that if ever the duke found 
that he was free, he should marry Lady Valentine. No 
words to such an effect passed between them, but it wag 
tacitly understood. 

More than once the duke had wished it otherwise i i| 



256 tE5t duke's secbbt. 

Beemed to him so unutterably sad that her bright young 
life should be spent in that fashion. Yet he knew she 
loved him well enough to be happier waiting in that 
fashion for him than in sharing the throne of a king. 

The duke saw lovers and admirers surrounding her. 
He knew that the " handsome guardsman " would have 
given his life for her love, and he cursed the fate which 
had attracted this true, beautiful love where it could meet 
so little return. He quite understood why Lady Valen- 
tine had been what he was compelled to own was barely 
comteous to Miss Glynton; he saw the jealous pain that 
had blanched the fair, young face; he was vexed with 
himself, yet what could he do? 

" No man living," thought the duke to himself, " gets 
into such positions as I do. Circumstances compelled me 
to do as I have done to-day, and yet I have wounded the 
best heart in the world." 

He was in the most dazed, confused state of mind; but 
one idea seemed pre-eminent above all others, he must 
make up to Lady Valentine for the pain he had caused 
her. Strange that the same motive brought both of them 
down to the drawing-room before the dinner-bell rang. 

Lady Valentine looked very charming in her evening- 
dress of white lace, trimmed with the lovely bells of the 
dai'k-blue convolvuli; she wore a wi'eath of the same 
flowers on her head; they seemed to match the violet eyes, 
and showed to perfection the sunny brown hair. She 
was somewhat staitled to find the duke waiting there, evi- 
dently for her; her fair young face flushed, then paled. 
She went up to him at once, her trailing white lace mak- 
ing a line of light across the floor. She stood just before 
him, her head drooping and her hands tightly clasped. 
She did not look up at him, but her lips quivered slightly. 

" I am ashamed of myself, duke," she said. " I really 
did not know that I had such a perverse, evil temper. 1 
did not, indeed, but I could not be civil to her, and I did 
try. I will tell you all my faults before you have time to 
speak. I had thought so much of a happy day, and very 
soon after it begins, she comes in with her beautiful face 
and charming manner, looking, I know, quite irresistible; 
and then you go away with her on the beautiful sunlit 
river. I know she looked most beautiful out there in the 
sunshine, and she had you all to herself. I could fancy 



THE duke's secret. 267 

ftU the time all the pleasant words you were uttering to 
her." 

"My dear, you are quite mistaken; she gave me a ter- 
rible shock." 

"A shock!" cried Lady Valentine, half delighted, yet 
half ashamed of her delight — "a shock! — what was it?" 

" Nothing that she said or did, my dear ; but I saw her 
to-day more clearly than I have done before. I saw the 
profile of her face, and there was such a strange likeness 
in it to some one I once knew that it was a shock to me." 

"Is that all?" laughed Lady Valentine. "lam afraid 
that I was in great hopes she had done or said something 
that had really shocked you. A likeness is nothing. But 
I must go on with my own story. You came back and 
brought her with you." 

" Nay, not exactly that ; I could not and did not try to 
prevent her coming ; but it is not quite fair to say I 
brought her. It was a settled engagement for her to re* 
turn to the flower-stall ; you must be just to me, even 
though you quarrel with me." 

Lady Valentine's face brightened ever so little. She 
rather enjoyed hearing him defend himself in this fashion. 

" Grant even that," she said ; " when you saw that I re- 
solved she could have no flowers, why did you give her 
that beautiful eucharist lily, which you must have known 
I saved for you ? That was the most cruel blow of all," 

The duke laughed a little uneasily. 

"I did not see what else I could have done," he replied; 
" no gentleman could have stood there and listen to a lady 
asking in those pleading terms for a flower, and then take 
away, without offering it to her, the very best flower; 
besides, Valentine, my dear, why do you dislike her? 
—Miss Glynton, I mean? " 

"You know why I dislike her, San Sebastian; you 
know quite well that I am jealous of her, and that you 
give me cause, and you tall to her, and spend more time 
with her than you do with any other lady. You know," 
she continued, with a loving smOe that quite disarmed 
him, "you have spoiled me ; until Miss Glynton came 
you never seemed" to notice any one but me, and now 
quite suddenly, and without any fault of mine, I have to 
take a second place. It is not quite fair, is it ? " 

" My dearest Valentine, you must know that I would 



liSd TflE duke's secret. 

never put you in any second place. You have a place 
quite your own in my breast — no one can take it." 

" Are you quite sure of that, duke ? " she asked, and her 
face was fresh and fair, her eyes so clear and true, she 
looked so young and loving, he took one little white 
band in his and drew her closer to him. 

It was an imprudence, but he had not stopped to think 
of that. The love in her eyes, her face, her words, had 
made him more reckless than he was wont to be. 

" Valentine," he said, " we must not quarrel ; I can not 
quarrel with you, and will not let you quarrel with me. 
I never meant to vex you." 

She did nob take her white hand away, but laid the 
other on it, and the duke took both prisoners and held 
them fast. Then it seemed natural that he should draw 
her even nearer to him, and one arm stole round the sup- 
ple figure. 

"We must not quarrel, Valentine," he said. 

" Then you must not take beautiful ladies on the river 
and give tliem my flowers," she said. 

"I will not ; I will never do anything again that will 
possibly vex you, Valentine, dearest, even in the least; 
now do you believe me?" 

" Yes," she replied. 

It was exquisitely sweet to her that he shoidd stand 
by her in that caressing fashion; she had never been so 
happy before. 

" You know, Valentine," he said, with a smile half lov- 
ing, half sad, that if I were free, if it were not for this 
tie — tbis vague, shadowless tie which, nevertheless, binds* 
me more strongly than death — but for that you know how 
gladly, how lovingly I would ask you to be my, wife. 
Now tliis moment you know why I never must speak to 
you of my love — until I know whether I may do so or 
Aot ; you understand — you know there never was a man 
in a position so peculiar as mine." 

" I know," she replied, quietly. 

" Therefore, tied, trammeled, chained, as I am, I can 
neither say nor do as I like ; you know that I can not 
appear as your lover, you know that I must not even be 
your loved until I know more of my fate." 

"I know that I am the ungenerous one to add to your 
troubles by being jealous. I want to share them, and heljy 



THE DUKE*S SECRET. 269 

you to lyear them — not increase them ; indeed, I "will be 
quite good in the future. I can not promise to be very 
amiable to Miss Gljnton, but I shall not certainly be as 
unamiable to you for a long time." 

He would have liked to thank her by a kiss; but that 
would not do, he must be prudent 

" I should like to ask you just one question, as we are 
speaking of the matter," she said. "Tell me, do 
you really like Miss Glynton — reaUy f" 

He was silent for a few minutes, then he answered. 

" I can not really tell you, Valentine," he said, frankly. 
"There are times when I think I like her very much 
Indeed — there are times again when I am in some strange 
way afraid of her, and would avoid her. She has a pecu- 
liar influence over me which I can not understand." 

" I dt> not iike to hear that," said Lady Valentine, 
frankly, " Are you quite sure that you do not like hei 
one-half as much as you do me ?" 

He looked puzzled for a few minutes, then said: 

"It is in quite a different fashion, Valentine; I can 
neither measure one nor the other." 

Then her Grace of Castlemayne entered with stately 
step, and the tete-a-tete was ended. 

CHAPTER XLVL 

A PICTURE FOR LOVERS. 

Lady Valentine was by no means selfish; she had one 
of the finest natures in tiie world. She was frank, open, 
bright, and with all her cleverness had a winning sim- 
plicity that was rare. She meant what she said, and she 
spoke her thoughts. She was unworldly enough, too, to 
show her likes and dislikes pretty frankly. She certainly 
never had to make a great effort to control herself. 

"It is direct encouragement," she said. "He just for 
courtesy's sakd gives her a flower, and she dresses herself 
in this outrageous fashion. 

Yet, outrageous as it might be, she was compelled to 
own that it was magnificent and original. Before Miss 
Glynton she had been queen of the ball-room, now she 
had a rival, if not a superior, but nothing of that kind 
would have troubled her, save for the dress and the flowers. 
If Miss GlyntoQ had covered herself with diamonds and 



260 THE duke's secret. 

rubies of the most costly kind, Lady Valentine would 
have laughed indifferently; — as it was, her magnificent 
attire seemed to show that there was more than ordinary 
friendship between heibelf and the duke. Go where she 
would, Lady Valentine was sure to hear some laughing, 
good natured remark about it. 

" I beUeve we shall have an American duchess after 
all," said more than one shrewd matron, within her hear- 
ing. "The flowers look very peculiar ; quite a novel 
way of expressing ideas." Until to Lady Valentine it 
seemed as though she was surrounded by hissing whispers 
that distracted her. 

Miss Glynton's dress would have had no significance 
in a stranger's eyes but for the dvike wearing the same 
flower. How bitterly she repented now having given it 
to him. "What would she not have given to have it back 
again ? Why should she not ask him for it ? It had 
been hers to give — it was hers to take away. She would 
wait her opportunity, and finding him alone, would ask 
for it. The ball, before so bright and pleasant, was 
spoiled to her ; even the pleasant memory of that happy 
half-hour spent veith him could not lighten her heart— it 
was all wrong. Yet she could not quite see that the duke 
was to blame. Her anger and indignation were against 
Miss Glynton. No lady had any right to make such an 
advance, no matter how much she cared for a person. 
The girl little thought that one great object had been to 
teach her a lesson ; her indignation would have been re- 
doubled had she known that. 

While the duke, who had not at first seen the beautiful 
American, wondered why people smiled so kindly and in 
such an amused fashion at him — why they talked to him 
about his colors ; he did not understand it ; but he knew 
quickly enough what it meant when he saw Miss Glynton 
in all her magnificence ; he was pleased, flattered, amused; 
his laughing eyes and laughing lips told how much he 
appreciated it. 

He came quite suddenly face to face with her, and their 
eyes met. Hers fell on the white bloom he carried, then 
the magnificent face flushed, and Miss Glynton bent her 
head. He talked to her on different matters until the 
groups had passed and they were alone, then he looked 
at her with Wghter and pleasure boiii in his face. 



THE duke's secret. 261 

**Is it permitted to admire what is the most beautiful 
toilet I have ever seen?" he asked. "A characteristic 
toilet, I may call it." 

" I am glad you admire it," she said ; " all admiration 
is a source of pleasure." 

He could not tell, either from her voice or manner, 
whether she was using the word ironically or not ; but he 
did think that this woman, whose face reminded him of 
Naomi, was the most charming woman he had ever 
beheld. 

" I do not believe that you care much for admiration, 
Miss Glynton," he said. " If you did you would be kinder 
to some of these sighing admirers of yours." 

" Kindness is often cruel in the sense you mean it," 
said the fair woman, calmly. " If the whole breeze that 
bends the summer boughs were made of lovers' oaths, it 
would not even ever so faintly touch my heart." 

" Then your heart must be very hard," he said. 

" It is well for me," she answered, with a little bitter 
laugh. " People with the hardest hearts suffer least." 

" And enjoy least," he added, " do not forget that. But» 
Miss Glynton, I am not to be stranded on the shore of 
argument; I want to talk about this toilet. It is mysti- 
cal, beautiful. Tell me if it was for me you wore it? I 
know the seeming vanity and self-presumption of such a 
question, but I pray of you to answer it." 

He was agitated far more than she knew. Surely what 
love he had left in him was given to Lady Valentine, yet 
there was something almost wonderful in the influence 
that this beautiful woman had over him. He had not 
intended dancing with her, because he was resolved not 
to grieve Lady Valentine in the least. He said to himself 
if Miss Glynton was at the ball he would not seek her. 
The pain on the young girl's face had touched him, and 
he had determined it should have a place there no more; 
but now he was powerless. The sweet, sad notes of a 
waltz came floating to them; she looked up at him, speak- 
ing no word with her lips, but never did eyes say more, 
and the next minute they were among the dancers. 

" You havG not answered my question," said the duke. 

" Nor do I intend to," she replied, laughingly. " You 
want to know — I read your thought— if I have chosea 



262 THE duke's secret. 

this dress you gave me, in so kind and courteous a man- 
ner, that flower. Is it not so ? " 

"Yes," repUed the duke, briefly; "that is it." 

" Then I am sorry to say I can not gratify your curios- 
ity. You must find it out if it be worth discovering." 

" Find it out," said the duke, dismayed. " I am the 
very worst in the world at finding out." 

"You will find exercise for your diplomatic talents," 
she said, and she laughed and blushed over again as she 
saw the white bloom he wore in his breast " People will 
say you carry mj colors," she said. 

" They have done so, and a great deal more besides, 
but you will not care for that." 

" I care but httle what is said. The voice of rumor, of 
scandal, never touches me. I could not heed it if I tried. 
Now we can take our places." 

It seemed to him that she gave up her mind entirely 
to the beauty of the music; there was not the least at- 
tempt at coquetry. He never could get over the impres- 
sion that those clear blue eyes were looking over him. 
He did not see Lady Valentine among the dancers, and 
he did not know where she was. He wondered what she 
should think of this toilet, and lost himself in a reverie. 

" Duke," said a sweet clear voice, " you should always 
attend to what you are doing: the idea of dancing and 
faUing into a reverie so profound that you do not even 
know when the music stops." 

He apologized half laughingly, and then went through 
the ball-room into one of the many flower-scented rooms 
that Lady Layard had set apart for the express purpose 
of conversation. 

The room they entered was arranged peculiarly ; there 
was a large group of suberb eastern plants in the middle 
of the department; in the centre of them was an easy- 
chair, and a small scented fountain. The dripping of the 
silver spray alone broke the silence. There was only room 
for one and Miss Glynton smiled as she took the seat. 
"This is not very sociable," she said, while the duke took 
his seat between two great crimson flowers ; one entering 
the room would think at first sight that he was alone, it 
was only on drawing quite near that the pretty interior 
•ould be seen. ' ' What a curious arrangement," said Misg 



TKB duie's secket. 263 

Glynton, *' what a pretty little fountain ; and, duke, what 
a very sweet woman Lady Layard is." 

"Sweet," be replied. "Well, 1 knew there was some 
word which described her exactly, now I know what it is. 
Lady Nell," the old name came quite natural to his lips — 
"is not beautiful, not pretty, but she is just what you ex- 
press it — sweet. She was a most amiable child," and the 
duke sighed deeply, as he remembered what had been 
into his life through the innocent agency of Lady NelL 

She looked at him keenly, as he sighed, and did not 
seem displeased. 

"A strange thing," she said, musingly. "You have 
been surrounded by the fairest woman in the world, and 
yet you have been a woman hater — at least the world says 

BO." 

"The world, as usual, is wrong," replied the duke, 
gloomily. 

He wished that this fair woman could know why they 
called him woman hater — it was because he had loved one 
woman too well. 

" Can you reach those flowers," she asked, as though 
anxious to change the subject. 

" No," he replied ; " and that reminds me of the most 
charming little ballad I read yesterday, about climbing 
flowers. This is just the time and place for it. Would you 
like to hear it?" 

"Yes," she replied, lying back in the most indolent fash- 
ion — "that I most certainly should; but you must not 
apeak louder than the murmur of the faUing spray." 

He laughed. 

" You like everything in harmony," he said. " Noif 
listen, Miss Glynton, these words are music : 

♦* * Up to her chamber window 
A slight viae trellis goes. 
And np this Romeo's ladder 
Clambers a bold whitf rose. 

** * I lonnge in the ilex shadows, 

I see the lady lean, ; 

Unclasping her silken girdle, 
The curtain's folds between. 

** * She smiles on her white-rose loTCfll^ 

She reaches out her hand, ^ 

And helps him in at the window } 
I see it where I stand. 



264 THE duke's secret. 

•* * To her scarlet lips she holds him, 
And kisses him many a time. 
Ah, me, it was he that wop her, 
Because he dared to climb.' " 

She opened her eyes when the rich voice ceased. 

"Yes, that ia a pretty poetical fancy," she said — "very 
flweet poetry is twice poetry, when one hears it in the 
midst of flowers. 

Then the words died on her lips, for the door of the 
room opened and Lady Valentine Arden entered alone 
and walked up to the duke, evidently thinking that he, 
too, was alone. 

CHAPTER XLVn. 

" I BELIEVE THEBE HAS BEEN A CURSE ON ME." 

Lady Valentine Arden quite believed the duke to be 
alone. She did not see the particular arrangement of 
the flowers, nor the beautiful face framed therein. She 
went up to the Duke of Castlemayne, her face pale, and 
her eyes full of light. 

" I wanted to speak to you," sh, said, " but I could not 
find you." Her voice took an imperious tone as she 
added : " I want you to be very particular. Please give 
me back, at once, the flower you are wearing — the flower 
I was so foolish as to give you — at once — do you hear, 
duke ? " 

He smiled at her earnest manner; but the smile, in her 
jealous mood, was hateful to her. 

" What an impetuous demand," he said. " What is the 
matter ? What have I done ? " 

•' You have done nothing. Never mind what is the 
matter. Give me the flower at once." 

" I do not feel willing to part with it ; you gave it to 
me," he replied. 

" Therefor'* I have a right to demand it back. I was 
foolish to give it to you, but I have learned my lesson." 

" Why, Valentine, your are quite angry. Some things 
are beyond all bounds, all limits of patience, and this is 
one of them." 

" What is one of them ?" 

" Wliut is one of them ?" asked i he duke, gently. " You 
forget that I do not know yet — what is wrong?" 

" Wrong 1" cried Lady Valentine, "I— I have no 



THE DUKE'S SECEET. 265 

patience with it. Do you really mean to say, duke, that 
you iiave not noticed how Miss Glyuton has dressed her- 
self — just like a eucharist lily. She must have studied it. 
And it is to please you, I know." 

" Oh, Valentine," cried the duke, with a look of horror 
on his face, " hush, you do not know — " 

" I do not care to know anything. Give me back that 
flower, that I may destroy it, and trample it under foot 
I said I would not be j — " 

" Hush, Valentine," cried the duke ; " do you not see ?" 
and following his glance, her eyes fell on the beautiful 
smiling face of Miss Glynton. 

" If I had known that you were going to speak of me, 
Lady Valentine," she said, " I would have warned you of 
my presence." 

It was quite a dramatic scene — the two beautiful faces look- 
ing at each other, the duke anxious and bewildered. Lady 
Valentine's eyes sought his with a look of unutterable re- 
proach. 

" You should have told me," she said. 

" I had no time. How could I tell that you did not see 
Miss Glynton ?" 

" It is all for the best," said Miss Glynton, with a calm 
smile; " I think it is perhaps for the best that we should 
know what people think of us. So you think. Lady Valen- 
tine, that I chose my dress exactly for the purpose of pleas- 
ing his grace, the Duke of Castlemayne ?" 

" Yes," replied Lady Valentine, " I do. " 

" And I, in my turn," said Miss Glynton, " acknowledge 
that you are quite right. I gave myself both time and 
trouble over my dress, and it w as done purposely to please 
him. What then, Lady Valentine?" 

She never looked at the duke, while she spoke, but kept 
her eyes fixed on the young face, that alternately flushed 
and grew pale. 

" What then. Lady Valentine ?" she repeated. " Because 
the duke was coui-teous when you failed in courtesy — be- 
cause I tried to repay the compliment he paid me — because 
I have chosen, perhaps in a fanciful fashion, to carry out 
my own idea — why you should feel annoyed I do not un- 
derstand. " 

For all answer Lady Valentine turned to the duke and 
held out her hand. 



266 TBI DTTKE's SEOltBT. 

" Gire me what I ask," she said, " and nothing further 
will matter to me." 

Miss Glynton went on quite calmly. 

" This is rather an unusual kind of scene, but I fancy 1 
can understand it. Lady Valentine is annoyed because 
the flowers I wear and the flower the diike wears are the 
same. Lady Valentine gave it to you, duke, you are 
bound to return it when she asks for it." 

" I have never been placed in such strange circum- 
stances before," said the duke. " I hardly know what to 
do." 

" Do as I wish," said Lady Valentine, quickly. 

" Do as I wish," said Miss Glynton, with a calm smile 
on her grand face. " Give Lady Valentine what she 
asks." 

Slowly enough the duke took the eucharist lily from his 
breast and held it out to her. There was a strange smile 
on Miss Glynton 's face as she watched the scene. The 
girl eagerly took the white blossom, tore it into a dozen 
pieces, and threw them away. 

" There is an end to it," she said, carelessly. 

" Yes," said Miss Glynton, " an end of the flower, cer- 
tainly, but the consequences have to follow. What you 
have just done is an act that must bear many interpreta- 
tions. To begin with, it is an avowed act of hostility to me. 
Perhaps you do not wish to deny this ? " 

" No," said Lady Valentine, " I do not." 

'' But you seemed inclined to favor me with your liking 
once, Lady Valentine — why have you changed your 
opinion of me ? " 

She waited for an answer, but none came. There was 
a passionate flush on the girl's fair face as she turned 
away. 

"That was all I wanted, duke," she said, trying to 
speak calmly. " I am sorry to have interrupted a tete-a- 
tete" 

" I am sorry that you did not see me the first moment 
you entered — it would have saved a very unpleasant 
scene," said Miss Glynton. " I am soiTy, too, that you 
are vexed with me, because I like you, Lady Valentine." 

"You are very kind to say so," replied the earl's 
daught«r, as she swept one of her most haughty and 



YHE BVZE*i SECBET. 267 

graceful courtesies before the lady who was equally 
proud and graceful as herself. 

It was impossible to say which fair lady had won the 
victory. The scattered white leaves lay on the ground. 
Lady Valentine had swept from the room, and Miss 
Glynton had resumed her seat with the grace of a queen. 
The duke still stood looking bewildered. 

" That comes of poetry and flowers," she said. " How 
sorry I am that Lady Valentine did not see me." 

" I must have lost my senses," said the duke. " I may 
say I have lost them. I ought to have told her you were 
here ; but she was so quick, so impetuous, so eager, I had 
no chance." 

" There can only be one interpretation put upon it,* 
said Miss Glynton; "yet that is a strange one." 

" Why is it ? " he asked. 

" I can only imagine," she replied, " that Lady Valen- 
tine has done me the honor of being jealous of me. I can 
not teU why." 

"She is so impulsive," he repUed. "What would be 
jealousy in another is nothing but impetuosity in her." 

Miss Glynton leaned her beautiful head on the crimson 
fauteuiL 

•' I wish," she said, gently, "that I knew you better; I 
should like to say something to you. If it would not of- 
fend you." 

" I am quite sure of that," he replied, warmly. " You 
could never offend me, and I shall be only too pleased to 
hear anything you may say to me." 

" I can say it in a few words, duke. Never play with a 
woman's heart It is the most deadly amusement a man 
ever engages in, and the most unworthy. If you love, 
say so, and marry her; but never play at lo^e and forget 
the price to be paid." 

"I have never played with love in my life, or misled 
any one even by a single word," said the duke, quickly. 

" You must not think I am speaking at random, or'pre- 
suming," she continued; "but I can not help drawing, 
from the little scene that has just occurred, the conclusion 
that Valentine is evidently jealous — of me. Now jealousy 
never exists without love; you know best whether you 
liave given her cause for either." 

He could never tell how the sensation came to him* but 



268 THE DUKE^S SBOBET. 

he had it strongly that he was in some way accountable t^ 
this beautiful woman for his actions, yet how foolish. 
What had it to do with her ? She rose as she uttered the 
last words and stood before him. She touched his arm 
for one moment, with the tip of her white fingers. 

"Forgive me if I have said too much; I mean nothing 
but kindnesa Lady Valentine is so young, and the young 
suffer so keenly." 

" She shall never suffer through me," he replied, hast- 

iiy. 

"I wish," she continued gravely, "that I might say 
something else to you. Give me the privilege of an old 
friend." 

" I will give you any privilege you like," he answered, 
"any you will." 

" Then I shall take that of a very old and perfectly true 
friend, and ask you one question. Why do you not marry 
Lady Valentine, whose girlish, loving heart, whether 
you know it or not, I beUeve you have won — why not 
marry her ?" 

" Because I am the most unfortunate man that ever 
lived; I believe there has been a curse on me all my 
life." 

" Most people draw down their own curses; perhaps you 
have done so. Let it be as it may, remember this — that 
the most cruel thing a man can do is to trifle with love, or 
play with a girl's heart" 

"I have never done it," he cried again; but a smile ol 
incredulity rippled over her Ups. 

" We must go ; we have had a pleasant time among the 
flowers here — only for that unfortunate Httle contretemps. 
Now, duke, you must go and find Lady Valentine, and 
make your peace with her." 

As soon as they advanced into the room Miss Glynton 
was surrounded and carried off. Her impatient partners 
looked angrily at the duke ; it was not fair to have 
monopolized the belle of the ball so long. He went him- 
self in search of Lady Valentine, and found her with a 
little escort of admirers. She had declined dancing ; 
and though she was laughing and talking gayly, he saw 
that she looked pale and there was a faint quiVer on her 
lips in the midst of her smiles. He tried to draw nearer 
U> her and join ia the conversation, but she gave him nQ 



THE duke's secret. 269 

Wicouragement ; she never let her eyes rest on him for 
one minute ; by no means and artifice could he engage 
her attention for one second. 

At length, one by one, the little group went away ; 
there was something in the duke's face, and something in 
hers which they did not understand. At last they were 
as alone as could be in a crowded ball-room. 

"Valentine," said the duke, "is it possible you are 
angry with me ? " 

" What do you think about it yourself," she replied, 
coldly. 

" I should say decidedly not; you could not be more 
sorry than I was." 

" You ought to have told me at once. Your own sense 
should have told you what I had come for; you have 
allowed me to be humiliated before the one woman whom 
you know I dishke, and I shall never forgive you for it — 
never. Ah, Captain Bellaii-s, is this our waltz? I am 
quite ready," and she went away with a smile on her lips, 
while a sharp sword wounded her heart. 

CHAPTER XliVnL 

•*CHOOSE BETWEEK US." 

It is long past midnight, but the Duke of Castlemayne 
has said to himself that most decidedly he can not, will 
not go to rest without having seen Lady Valentine. The 
more he thought of that unlucky scene the more he de- 
tested his own share in it. If he had but been quicker — 
but then he never dreamed that she would speak to Miss 
Glynton. He had been perfectly innocent, and could not 
bear the least shadow of blame; he hated the whole 
recollection of it. 

He could see that it was natural for Lady Valentine to 
have felt a httle jealous; that he frankly admitted; he 
had felt that the beautiful toilet was intended as a most 
flattering compliment to him, and he saw nothing Avonder- 
ful in the fact that Lady Valentine was not well pleased 
over it; considering, also, that the flower she had given 
him identified him, after a fashion, with Miss Glynton; he 
did not wonder that she asked for it back. 

He did not wonder that she had not seen the fair, 
queenly woman who had granted him the tMe-d-tete, but 



S7d TOE duke's SECRl!*. 

then he had n«t realized how completely the flowers ha«I 
hidden her from sight. One thing he did realize, and 
that was the insanity of pain he had seen in this fair 
young face; he knew how proud she was and how greatly 
her pride must have suffered. Altogether it was to him a 

Eerfect impossibility that he could rest without seeing 
er. They had diiven home all together, but the duchess 
had offered the fourth seat in her crrriage to Sir Monro 
Kelly, and conversation between them had been impos- 
sible. 

The duchess had asked for some coffee as they reached 
home; after which the two ladies began to discuss the 
ball, and he waited impatiently for a chance to speak to 
Lady Valentine. It had often happened in this way be- 
fore, and then, when the duchess took up i book just to 
compose herself for a few moments before going to rest, 
he and Lady Valentine had talked very happily; but he 
began to think it was not to be so to-night; not one glance 
\ras given in his direction — not the faintest intimation of 
his presence. She did not seem to be aware of his exist- 
ence, but as she sipped her fragrant coffee she talked con- 
tinually to the duchess. 

*' It is too bad," he said to himself ; what have I done 
that she should treat me so ? " 

When he found everything else failed he wrote three 
lines and laid them down before her. She raised the 
folded paper, and without looking at it, destroyed it as she 
had done the liiy. Then he spoke out, and the decided 
anger in his voice pleased her. 

" Mother," he said, " you can spare Valentine for a few 
minutes. I want her to step out here; this balcony is so 
pleasant, and the room is warm — heavy with all those flow- 
ers — the air is full of fragrance, one would think all Lon- 
don was full of mignonette. Come, Valentine." 

The duchess languidly took up a book which lay upon 
the table. 

** Go to that impatient son of mine for a few minutes, 
Valentine," she said ; he looks at me as though he had 
been troubled." 

"Valentine," said a sad and imploring voice, "do come; 
you can not think how charming it is ; all the stars in 
heaven are shining, and the wmd is beautiful over the 
treea." 



THE DUKE'S SECRET. 271 

** Go to him, my dear, for a few minutes," said the 
duchess, who could refuse nothing to her idolized son. 

The habit of obedienee was so strong upon Lady Val- 
entine that she rose at once ; she could have refused the 
duke — she never dreamed of refusing the duchess. 

She crossed the room, drawing a black lace shawl over 
the shimmering beauties of her ball dress, and looking 
fresh and fair as the morning — with the least possible 
tinge of pain round the sweet lips. The duchess opened 
her book and sunk back in her chair with the faintest sigh 
of relief ; she had ceased to hope. But given the sweet- 
ness of a moonlight summer's night, full of music and 
perfume —given the solitude of the balcony and the pale 
light of the stars, it would be odd surely if her son coiild 
resist all that. But then she said to herself, with a shrug 
of the shoulders, she had ceased to hope ; neither moon- 
light, nor beauty, nor anything else touched him — while 
Lady Valentine half crossed the room, and then he came 
to her ; the long glass door leading to the balcony was 
open ; he drew her to him and closed it. There it seemed 
as though they stood alone in that soft summer darkness 
with every star in heaven shining on them. 

"Valentine," he cried, impetuously, "how cruel you are 
to me ; why will you not speak to me ? What have I 
done ? Do you know that you are driving me mad ?" 

"I thought," she said, "you wanted me to see the stars.'* 

" Never mind the stars. Valentine, how can you be so 
unkind ? You must see that you are making me miser- 
able. Now do not look at the trees ; look at me. I could 
not help it to-night ; I was quite as much vexed as you. 
Why be so angry with me ?" 

She raised her face, so young and fair, in the white 
moonlight, to his. 

" Have you asked me here purposely to talk about this ?** 
she said. 

" Yes, I have. Do you think I could rest — sleep — be 
happy, or anything else, until you had spoken to me, Val- 
entine ? I could not. I would have sat up all night but 
I must have seen you. Dearest Valentine, I am so 
sorry." 

" I do not quite understand," she said, slowly. " You 
have treated me strangely altogether. When I came here, 
you — ^you made me love you. I cannot tell whether ii 



272 THE duke's secbet. 

was your fault or mine. Then you trusted me, told me 
the story of your life, and I promised to help you — to be 
your truest friend ; and it was arranged that if you found 
yourself free I had yom- heart and love, and I was as happy 
as I could be with your affection and trust. Now this 
woman comes between us and takes you from me." 

" She does not, Valentine," cried the duke. 

" Yes, pardon me, she does. You have never paid half 
80 much attention to anyone else as to her." 

" I have told you," he said, " that she has the strangest 
influence over me — I cannot help myself." 

"Then if you cannot help it, why contradict me when 
I speak about it?" 

"I mean that I can not help the influence she has over 
me, Valentine. I can not account for it ; I try to shake 
it ofl", but I can not." 

"Do you love her?" 

" No, it is not that kind of influence," said the duke ; 
** there is something weird and uncanny about it." 

"I know," said Lady Valentine, "that there never was 
a position so peculiar as yours, or so painful. I havQ, told 
you, and I meant it, that I would rather be your friend 
than the wife of any other man; but I can not bear to see 
you devote your time and attention to a stranger like Miss 
Glynton. If your own wife came back to you living and 
true, I should not be jealous. I should be honestly, frankly, 
nobly glad ; if you were, I should love her and do all 1 
could for her; but I will not even know this woman who 
dresses for you, and makes every one talk as though you 
were going to marry her to-morrow. Some things are too 
<nuch for human nature; that is too much for me; she had 
no right to dress in that fashion for you !" 

" She had no meaning in it — it was mere caprice, Valen- 
tine." 

"No, it was not caprice, it was a settled, regular plan 
for pleasing you and attaching you to herseli'; and then, 
oh, Sebastian, she heard me say I was jealous; she heard 
me ask for the flower. I wiU never meet here again, 
never." 

" Do not say that, Valentine," he cried, " you will think 
better of it ; you could not refuse to meet her." 

"Then you must promise me to give up flirting, or 
whatever you call it. She must not use what you call 



THE duke's secret. 373 

her influence, nor must you submit to it. The time has 
really come when you must choose between us. It makes 
me very unhappy to see all that I see. If she is to be 
your friend and confidante, you do not want me. If I 
am your friend, you do not want her." 

" Logically argued, Valentine," he said. 

" Never mind logic," said the girl. " I have made np 
my mind ; choose between us — choose the one you like 



"My dearest Valentine, be reasonable/' 

" I can not. I do not intend ; you might as well call 
one of those stars down from heaven as to ask me to 
change my decision. I know nothing about reason, nor 
do I wish, but I do know what :you must do to preserve 
my friendship — you must give '^p Miss Glynton or give 
up me. Good-night, duke." 

And before he knew where she was she had gone back 
to the duchess, and was bidding her good-night. 

CHAPTER XLIX 

A PEEMONITION. 

** Bbrtrand," said the duchess, laying down her book 
with the most polite attempt to stifle a yawn, " I would 
not stand out in the night air any longer. Valentine has 
gone — she seemed very tired, I thought. I will say good- 
night," and the duchess looked anxiously at her son as he 
eame into the room. 

If he would but trust her, would but talk to her as 
other sons did to their mothers — would but trust her ! 
She saw lines of care and anxiety on his handsome face, 
but could not teU why they were there. 

"The night air must be cold," she said, "and you do 
not look well to-night, Bertrand." 

"I am well enough, mother," he said; "It is your fancy. 
You are always thinking about me, and you imagine 
things." The duchess merely replied by a sigh; it was 
not the least use speaking. 

" I think," he continued, " I will have one cigar out 
here under the stars, and then I will go in. Good-night, 
mother." 

"Good-night, my son," she replied; but as she kissed 
him she had fallea on bin neck weeping, and prayod him 



274 THB duke's SEOBIT. 

to many one of the beautiful women who surrounded 
him. 

She had not told him her new trouble, and it was this : 
some kind friends had told her Lady Everleigh had been 
beard to say that few matches in England would be good 
enough for her son, who might almost be considered the 
duke's heir. 

Should she tell him, she wondered, and then a sicken- 
ing sense of the uselessness came over her — it would do 
no good. 

She left him with a grave, sad face, and once that 
night, as she lay awake thinking over the promise of his 
boyhood and her ambitious dreams of him, it occurred 
to her that if, after all, there had been anything in his 
liking for that girl, Naomi Wynter, it would have been 
almost better to encourage it. Bad as that would have 
been, so disappointing to her hopes, it might have been 
better than seeing Lady Everleigh's son in his place. 
She had not thought once of that httle episode after 
the girl had once been sent away; but to-night her 
thoughts had turned to Naomi. She wondered for the 
first time if her son had really loved the girl. It could 
but have been a boyish fancy, nothing more, for he had 
never spoken of her since. 

• " It is the one bitter, black misfortune of my life, I sup- 
pose," said the duchess, " and I must bear it." 

Sleep was even further from the duke's eyes than from 
hers. Never was a man in such a dilemma. He wished 
a thousand times over that he had never been born. He 
cotdd see no way out of his difficulties, they grew deeper 
every day. If he could have married Lady Valentine at 
once, that wotdd have disposed of all his difficulties with 
her, and with every one else; but then he could not 
marry her, and she knew why. Another thing was — did 
he feel quite sure that he loved her enough to marry 
her ? No man can love two women, and he could not 
understand the influence that this beautiful American 
had over him. 

" I can not possibly be in love with her," he said to 
himself, and yet he had a vague idea that he was so. 

He saw himself surrounded by difficulties. Lady Val- 
entine was jealous and offended. She would not be ami- 
Able to Mids Glynton; if he devoted himself to Lady Vai- 



TBI Don's SECBET. 275 

entine the world would expect that he was going to 
marry her; if he saw much of Miss Glynton, Lady Yalen- 
tine would be most bitterly offended. 

Now what was he to do ? The only way in which he 
could avoid the gordian knot was to go abroad and leave 
difficulties at home, even that, the only plan left, would 
be a great source of grief and trouble to his mother. 
There was no comfort in the cigar, none in the odorous 
night air, none in the golden eyes watching him, none in 
the white moonlight that lay all round him. His hfe had 
been a failure through his own fault, and he could not 
make the tangled thread straight. He has learned his 
lesson — the price of it was the misery of his whole life, 
besides all the pain that he had brought to others. 

He flung away the remains of his cigar, and went to his 
ioom. 

The following day the duchess mentioned that she would 
like to give a ball; some friends of hers had just arrived 
from Paris, and she was anziousto do them all honor. She 
would give a brilliant balL 

" And," added her grace, ** it will be the last. I do not 
remember to have been in town so late as this for many 
years. Bertrand, if you are not engaged this morning, 
stay and discuss the invitation list with us. Lady Layard 
will be able to come, I hope. I have not seen her as much 
as I should like to have done. Then we must have Mrs, 
Trelawney, Mrs. Dulwich, and the Glyntons." 

She could not help seeing that her son looked at Lady 
Valentine, whose eyes met hia 

" I know no one," continued her grace, " who in a short 
time had so completely made herself mistress of her world 
as Miss Glynton. I should say at this moment she is de- 
cidedly the most popular woman in London." 

But to her surprise no one answered. Her son's face 
was hidden in his coffee-cup ; Lady Valentine simply 
bowed. 

"Altogether we shall have a brilliant ball," said the 
duchess. " I am quite in high spirits over it, and then, 
when it is over, we must redly think about going. You 
hear, Bertrand ?" 

" I hear, mother. I am at your service," he replied. 

He did*not think it judicious just then to tell her that 
b« was in the greatest dilemma of his life; that because 



276 THE duke's secret. 

two of the fairest women in London were interested in 
Mm, and he could not majTy either, he meant to wander 
away to the very ends of the earth. 

"While the duchess and Lady Valentine were discussing, 
pro and con, who was young, who was beautiful, who 
was witty, and who danced well, the duke was looking 
into the long vista of years which promised so badly for 
him. There was no help for it — he must be a wanderer 
on the face of the earth. It was his own fault, his own 
folly; he deserved it. He could not go on living with 
his mother, seeing Lady Valentine every hour, and meet- 
ing Miss Glynton daily, any longer. He saw himself 
wandering from one far-off laud to another, living and 
dying alone, with the bitter knowledge that Lady Ever- 
leigh's son might succeed him — aud all this for a few 
weeks' folly and a few minutes' f,owardice. What was the 
use of being a duke witii oue of the largest rent-rolls in 
England ? The poorest peasant was happier — the poor- 
est man who either had his wife by his side, or knew 
where to find her gi-ave. His mother's voice roused him: 

" Bertraud, I am afraid you do not Hke the idea of a 
grand ball; you are so silent." 

"It wiUbe a great pleasure to me; and we owe some 
hospitaUty to the De Maris, who were very kind to us in 
Ppxis. I'm all attention, mother." 

But the shade did not pass from his handsome face ; 
the eyes were shadowed, and a quiver of pain was on his 
lips. Lady Valentine looked at him attentively ; he 
opened the great sheet of the " Times," and while ap- 
parently studying it, she watched him. When the duch- 
ess went to write Ijer letters, she went over to him and 
laid her hand on the paper. 

"Let me look at you, she said ; "never mind the 
"Times" I want to s-e your face and your eyes. Ah, 
San Sebastian, the old melancholy is back again — what 
is it? Now, wheaever I see you sad I begin to wonder 
if I am in fault. What a pity it is that I am so jealous 
and queer-tem])eretl. I am Httle comfort to you." 

"You are the greatest comfort I have in this world,** 
he replied. " Even to look at you is a comfort to me, 
because you know my secret, and it seems to break down 
the horrible, ghastly silence that surrounds it when X 
look at you." 



THE DUKE'S SECRET. 27T 

**'Wliat has brought it back to your mind this mom- 
{ng ?" she asked. " Do not be unhappy over Miss Glyn- 
ton ; I will be as kind as possible to her — if you wiU not 
make me jealous. I wish I could take all your troubles, 
all your cares, aU your anxieties, away from you — and 
they are heavy enough." 

" They grow heavier," he said, with a deep sigh. " I 
wonder, Valentine, that I hear nothing from Michael 
Droski. It seems a strange thing that he succeeds for 
fiver}' one else and fails for me." 

"Perhaps he will not fail. You want patience and 
faith ; you are beginning to lose both," she added, sadly. 

"I am sorely tried," he replied. "If no one can suc- 
ceed for me I must try and search for myself. There are 
many times when I think to myself that I will start off and 
look through the world until I find her, or some news of 
her, some trace of her, living or dead. But the world is 
wide, and when those fail who have been trained for such 
work how can I succeed ?" 

"You must not tbink of it — you would not succeed," 
she replied. "It is bad enough as it is, but we can bear 
it better together — much better. I should be miserable 
if you went away." 

"My poor child — my dear, loving Valentine, what- 
trouble I have brought upon you !" 

Looking at him, she saw that his eyes were full of tears. 

"I can not bear that," she cried, in a voice full of pain. 
*' What can I do to help you ? I must do something. If 
my jealousy has added to your pain, forgive me; I will 
never add to it again; that is," she added, with a sudden 
smile, " if I really can help it. I will try. I hope my 
temptations wiU be in proportion to my strength." 

He made no answer, and she felt bitterly conscious that 
she could not console and soothe him as other women do 
the men they love. 

"1 shall be all you wish, San Sebastian," she said. "I 
will not add to your troubles." 

"I wonder, Valentine," he said, "if it would be of any 
use for me to write to Droski, or to John Ruskyn about 
him ? I do not even know in what part of the world he is 
at present." 

"You know the old proverb," said "^••mIv V^^entine. 
***No news is good news.'" 



278 THE duke's secret. 

"I have long ceased to believe that,'* he replied. 
"Twelve years of ' no news ' has taken away all my faith." 
He rose from the chair and folded the paper. " I can not 
give my attention to it," he said. "I can not read; 1 
have a miserable, very unpleasant foreboding of some- 
thing about to happen." 

"You have been brooding over your troubles; try and 
forget them for a time." 

He left the room with a weary 8igh. 

If he could but forget. And before many days had 
passed he and Lady Valentine both remembered thiP con- 
versation as a strange coincidence. 

CHAPTER L. 

A VISITOB WITH MEWS. 

Thx ball given by the duchess to her friends from Paris 
was half over when Lady Layard — the Lady Nell of olden 
times — arrived. Everything had been perfect ; the 
flowers, the decorations, the music, the lights, and never, 

Ssrhaps, had more beautiful women gathered together. 
ut the queen was certainly Miss Glynton. She had 
never looked more charming, more fascinating, than on 
this night The duke felt himself mysteriously attracted 
to her, and yet he knew that he must not yield to the at- 
traction. He had watched with great anxiety the meeting 
between Lady Valentine and Miss Glynton — the young 
girl's face had flushed slightly, but on the fair face of the 
other he read nothing but kindness. That puzzled him a 
little ; he could not see why Valentine should be jealous, 
while Miss Glynton evidently meant kindly and felt kindly 
toward her ; he saw more than kindness in the beautiful, 
imperial face — he saw compassion and pathos that puzzled 
him still more. He said to himself that he must be very 
careful ; he must neither vex one nor the other. It was 
time that he dropped out of this gay world, when he no 
longer felt at liberty in ii 

The ball was, as always happened with the duchess, 
a great success. The Parisian guests arrived early, and 
the duke, as in duty bound, danced what he called his 
duty dance with the young daughter of the grand old 
French race. Then he was free, and hastened to Lady 
Valentine. When that dance was over the Glyntons ar- 



THE DCKE^S SECRfil?. 279 

rived. Miss Glynton wore a magnificent costume ol 
white silk and rubies, that shone like points of scarlet 
flame. She had never looked more queenly or more 
beautiful ; she smiled brightly at the duke, and by an 
almost imperceptible but wooing gesture brought him to 
her side. While he stood talking to her. Sir Edward and 
Lady Layard entered the room. She looked up at him, 
and a Httle exclamation of pleasure escaped him. 

" That is Lady Nell," he said. Surely the face had 
grown pale, and the queenly figure seemed for one 
moment to shrink and falter. " I have long been very 
desirous that you should know Lady Layard," he said. 
" Will you permit me to introduce her ? " 

"Not just yet," she replied, in a voice of constraint. 
" Do not ask me about any introductions, and do not ask 
me to dance. You see that I am not very conventional 
with you ; take me to that pretty conservatory ; I want 
to talk to you for a few minutes." 

He was delighted, yet he sighed as he complied. If 
Lady Valentine saw them, she would hardly Hke it. How 
could he refuse so c-ourteous an invitation from so fair a 
lady ? He longed with burning impatince to set himself 
free. 

" I am afraid," said Miss Glynton, when they stood once 
more among the fragrant blossoms, " I am afraid that I 
have displeased Lady Valentine very much indeed. I 
have been thinking that I did not do just as I should have 
liked others to do to me ; but I was taken aback ; I had 
not much time to think, and for some minutes I never 
dreamed that she had not seen me. I was looking at her. 
I did not know she had not seen me until she spoke of me, 
and then I knew. Is she very angry with me ?" 

" No one could be quite pleased with anything of that 
kind," said the duke, " but I can not for a moment allow 
that you were to blame. I can not see how you could 
help it." 

" You really acquit me, then, of anything but want of 
mind," she said. 

" Most decidedly I do," he replied. " I tLink, to tell 
the truth, that we were all three slightly confused." 

"I am glad you acquit me," she said, gently, " I should 
Bot like to have had your bad opinion." 

" lou could never hav© that," said the duks, " neyw:.'* 



280 THE duke's secbet. 

And again he wondered to himself what was the secret 
of her weird, strange influence over him. No other eyes 
looked so clear and direct into his as hers did, no other 
face seemed to have the power. 

If he could but understand himself and his own heart, 
if he could but know which of these two women he loved 
best. It seemed to him always that Miss Glynton took 

Possession of him in a queenly, royal fashion all her own. 
'et he could not tell whether it was so or not. 

More unhappy than ever was his Grace of Castlemayne 
on the evening when half the beauty and fashion of Lon- 
don had gathered under his roof. The two fair faces 
haunted him, and he said to himself that surely he was a 
man accursed. He forgot that there is no curse so great, 
BO bitter, so withering, as that brought on man by his own 
folly. 

More than one present noticed the melancholy on the 
handsome young face, and wondered what was wrong 
with the duke. He could not help envying the men pres- 
ent; they had no deadly secrets weighting their hearts 
■with lead; they could be happy as he could never be 
again. They could give smiles and tender words without 
feeling as though they were perjuring themselves. He 
would have given his dukedom, his vast revenues, his 
palatial homes, his wealth of pictures, gold, silver, and 
precious stones — all, to be free as the poorest of them. 

"Duke," said Lady Valentine, in a low voice, as she 
stopped near him for one minute, "do look happy; your 
face is all shadow. I have heard several people wonder 
what is the matter with you." She smiled as she added: 
" Some say that Miss Glynton has been cruel to you; and 
Bome say that it is I, Lady Valentine; but I never could 
be cruel, and you know it. Try to smile and look cheer- 
ful What makes you look so silent to-night ?" 

" I can not tell. I have a horrible feeling of depression 
on me, for which I can not account, though I own it is a 
very bad night for it." 

"Find some lively, bright, pretty girl, with whom you 
can have a good waltz," said Lady Valentine. 

"I choose you then," said the duke; "you combine all 
qualities." 

" But I am engaged to Harry Bellairs for the next waits 
•tliast" 



THE duke's secret. 281 

She spoke lightly, but be saw a mist of tears in her violet 
eyes, and he knew that she felt more than she said. 

" Heaven bless her," he said, as the handsome guards- 
man carried her off. " She has the most loving heaii; in the 
whole world. How happy I could be with her." 

Then he paused abruptly — even in his thoughts — for a 
pair of proud beautiful eyes seemed to be looking at him, 
and the face of a woman who was a queen among women 
flashed into his. 

" It is idle," thought the duke, " even to waste one 
thought upon the matter; but if I were free, I wonder 
which of these two I should love best." 

For in his heart had come a knowledge that he could 
no longer conceal from himself that Miss Glynton occu- 
pied quite as great a share of his thoughts as Lady Valen- 
tine. 

There was a grand supper at midnight; the table 
groaned beneath the weight of gold and silver plate — a 
king might have envied it; fruit and wine of the most 
recherche and costly kind; dainty, dehcate dishes that 
might have tempted a sybarite. If ever man seemed 
worthy, surely it was the handsome, wealthy nobleman 
who presided at that magnificent table. But he saw the 
skeleton that lurked behind his chair; that half embraced 
him with his long, meager arms; that kept from him 
every ray of brightness; tbat took the hannony from the 
music, the fragrance from the flowers; that took the light 
from the fair face of the women. Better to be a laborer 
in the field, a breaker of stones, a hewer of wood, than a 
duke with such a skeleton forever by his side. 

The Duke of Castlemayne had just sat down when a 
servant came to him and said that a gentleman wished to 
Bee him. 

"Who is it?" asked the duke, carelessly. 

" He has sent neither card nor name," was the reply, 
"but bade me tell you that he wished to see you on very 
important business." 

" No one can have business at midnight," said the duke, 
impatiently. " Tell him to come to-morrow." 

His Grace of Castlemayne was not expected to know 
that, whoever the sti'anger w:is, he had slipped a golden 
key of admission into the servant's hand; and James, be- 
ing of a gay disposition, had settled within himself that 



282 THE DUKE S SECBET. 

he would take the pretty upper housemaid to the play to- 
morrow. The duke was so sweet-tempered, so good- 
humored, that no servant ever feared him. The man per- 
sisted. 

" I might mention to your grace," he continued, " thai 
the gentleman rode up in desperate haste." 

" Ask his name," said the diike. 

And the servant was absent for a few minutes. 

There was a musical sound of women's laughter, a mur- 
mur of sweet voices; champagne corks were flying, every 
one was good-humored and animated. The duke was very 
busy. Miss Glynton sat nearly opposite him — look which 
way he would, the fire of her rubies seemed to catch his 
eyea Lady Valentine was on his left hand. 

He did not give his thoughts to the strange gentleman, 
who had asked for him on business untU the servant re- 
turned and gave him an envelope. With a slight apology 
to his nearest neighbors he opened it and took from it a 
card. On the card he read the magic words: 

" Michael Droski — with news." 

Did any one at that sumptuous table notice how, for a 
few minutes, the duke's face grew even ghastly pale? 

"Michael Droski," the name that had haunted him 
lately, because he longed to see the man. With newa 
What news ? Great heavens, was Naomi found ? 

The lights, the jewels, the flowers, the fair faces of the 
women seemed for a few minutes all one confused masa 

" News of Naomi at last after all these years. Was she 
living or dead ? was she found ? and was the little son he 
had never seen with her ? He could not recover himself; 
the whole world seemed to be whirling round him. It 
seemed like an hour since he saw the card, yet he waa 
still holding it in his hand, and the servant stood waiting 
his reply. "Michael Droski, with news!" He felt the 
strongest inclination to shout out the words; he had to 
control himself by the greatest possible effort. 

" What answer, your grace ?" asked the man at last, 
honestly believing that Ws master would fall asleep over 
the card. 

Then the duke looked up with a curious, dazed expres- 
sion in his eyes. 

" Ask the gentleman to wait. I will try to be with hist 
w )i*lf an hovur. 3how him into mj study." 



THE duke's secret. 283 

The man bowed and went away, leaving the duke still 
in the greatest bewilderment. 

He tried to attend to his guests ; some one, he never 
knew who it was, poured out a glass of champagne, and 
he drank it off ; then by some sudden impulse, finding 
that Lady Valentine's eyes were fixed on Lim, he passed 
the card down to her — the card which bore those magical 
•word — " Michael Droski, with news." He watched her as 
she opened her eyes in a lingering glance of wonder and 
amaze — a glance intercepted by Miss Glynton. 

Lady Valentine returned the folded card to him in 
silence. 

How that long half -hour passed the duke never knew, 
every moment was to him like an eternity; it seemed 
that the wine-glasses would never be empty, the dishes 
never finished ; but at length he was free, and as the 
brilliant procession went from the supper-room to the 
ball-room, he quietly left his guests and went to the study 
where his visitor awaited him. 

CHAPTER LL 

**r0im WIFE IS FOUND.** 

There, in the duke's study, waiting for him, sat the 
famous detective, whose name is now as well known as a 
household word. A tall, keen, strong-looking man, but 
bearing about him this evening evident marks of travel; 
he looked tired and worn, like some one who had been for 
days and nights without sleep — but the light in his eyes 
was as keen and as bright as ever. He rose when the duke 
entered, and bowed. 

" I hope I have not annoyed your grace in coming at 
this hour," he said. " I reached London some hours since, 
but I had something still to do before my task was com- 
pleted." 

" I am glad to see you," said the duke, simply. " Neither 
the day nor the hour could matter." 

" It is after midnight, and you have a grand ball. I 
could not have chosen a more inopportune time, I fear; bu> 
I have news," he added, quietly, " and I know that is more 
to your grace than sleep or dance." 

" Much more," said the duke. " You are welcome, as I 
have said, at any time. So you have news ?" He spoke 



284 THE duee's segbet. 

quietlj, but Michael Droski saw that the handsome face 
was pale with emotion. " I have waited many years for 
t. You have news of my wife ;" then for a few minutes it 
seemed very probable to the detective that the duke would 
swoon like a woman. He recovered himself with a great 
gasp. " I have waited so long," he repeated, " and it has 
come at last." 

"Yes," said Michael Droski, " it has come at last. I do 
not want to boast; but I told your grace that if it was 
possible to be done I would do it. I have brought you the 
strangest news that I could by any possibility bring. To 
say that truth is stranger than fiction, is to say little ; 
in this case the truth is so strange that unless it were 
amply corroborated I venture to say no man would believe 
it." 

He seemed trying to give the duke time to recover him- 
self, he had drawn up the blind and opened the window, 
so as to admit a current of fresh air; he placed the duke's 
chair just where he could get the benefit of it, and added, 
gently: 

"If your grace will be seated, I will tell you the story 
that seems to me, in its way, more wonderful even than 
the 'Arabian Nights.'" 

"Tell me just one thing," cried the duke, and his voice 
was hoarse with emotion, his face white with passion, " teU 
me one thing, before Heaven — is she — my wife — Naomi, 
Uving?" 

" Yes," replied the detective, " she is living and well." 

Then a great silence fell between them, and for some 
time neither spoke. The duke hid his face in his hands, 
caring httle whether his companion heard the deep sobs 
that shook his whole frame or not. 

Naomi was found —after twelve long, cruel years of 
silence and absence, of torture and Buspense to him; she 
was found, living and well — sweet Naomi, who had loved 
him so well. He could see the fair, young face when she 
called out: 

" I appeal to you, Lord St. Albans," and he had been 
deaf to her prayer. Oh, Naomi, the fair, lost love, the 
sweet young wife of his youth. In that moment all faint 
shadows died, and he knew that in his heart he had 
known no other love than hers — no other. 

C^^aomi livirg and weE In one moment he went through 



THE duke's secbeil 285 

again the whole of that scene at Kood Castle; he saw his 
proud, haughty mother sitting in judgement; he saw the 
table, on it the littie knot of breast ribbon and dainty 
white handkerchief. 

Ah, if he had even that little knot of ribbon now! He 
could see the graceful, girlish figure, the fair, downcast 
face — and he groaned aloud to think what a coward he 
had been. 

She was hving. He had resisted her appeal, he had 
let her see that his fear of his mother was greater than 
his love for her. He remembered the expression of her 
face as she quitted the room, and now-— she was hving 
and well! 

Just then the band in the ball-room struck up a beau- 
tiful waltz, the very air seemed to pulsate with the sweet 
music; it roused him and made him remember that the 
time was passing, and he was dreaming, not doing. 

"I have had a hard chase," Mr. Droski said; "it has 
been by far the most difficult task I have had yet — to look 
for one lady in a world so large as this is a task, but it has 
ended happily." 

Then the duke raised his white, haggard face to the 
dark, keen countenance of the officer. 

"Tell me all now," he said; "I am prepared. I was 
afraid at first — just at first. I have waited so long ; now 
tell me aU." 

"There are gaps in my story," he said; "vacancies I 
can not fill up, but they will be filled up by the right per- 
sons — " 

"Stop one moment," said the dvike, "only one; be care- 
ful, for Heaven's sake, about what you tell me 1 Were 
false hopes to rise in my heart only to be crushed!" 

"I am quite sure of my facts," he replied; "I could have 
returned some weeks ago, but I would verify them aU. I 
shall not tell you one single circumstance that I can not 
prove — the only thing to me is that the news I have to tell 
is so wonderful I do not know how to tell it. Your wife, 
your grace, is living and well. The cuiious part of the 
story is this: your grace could never guess — even knowing 
as you do that your wife is living and well — you could 
never guess where she is." 

" No, that I could not," he repUed ; I can not guess. 
I eau boliev^ what you tell me, but I can not gu«ss. It^ 



286 THE duee's seobkt. 

is just as much as I can do to understand ; my brain ii 
quite bewildered." 

" If you were asked to mention the most improbable 
place on earth wherein to seek her, what place would you 
name?" 

" I can not tell," said the duke ; I am growing impa- 
tient." 

" Your grace may believe me when I tell you that not 
only is your wife one of the most beautiful and wealthy 
ladies in London, but that she is at this very moment 
here, under the same roof with your grace." 

The duke sprung from his seat, with a low cry. His 
white lips parted ; but for some minutes no sound came 
from them. 

" Here ? " he cried ; " under my roof — impossible ! 
You are mad, Droskil Much travel has driven you 
mad." 

" No, yoiu: grace ; I am sane enough ; there is no mis- 
take. I shall not speak without proof. I tell you that 
your wife, who was once Naomi Wynter, is now at this 
present moment under your roof." 

" I begin to understand," he said. " You have brought 
her. I thought you meant that she was here before," 

" So I do Your grace's wife is one of the most honored* 
even among your noble circle of guests," said Michael 
Droski. "Is it possible that your grace has no idea, no 
knowledge, no foreshadowing even of the truth ? " 

" No," replied the duke, briefly, " I have not." 

" Do you know that your wife is among your acquaint- 
ance ; that her name is one of the most honored, I hear, 
among your friends ? Do you know that you have met 
her continually ; that you have dined with her — danced 
with her?" 

" No — no !" cried the duke ; " it is quite impossible. I 
do not believe it — ^I could not believe it ; it is against all 
reason and common sense." 

" I asked you once if you should know her, and you 
told me *No.* Your grace spoke truly ; you have met 
and have not known her. Let our thoughts go back to 
the ball-room ; think over the ladies there, and tell me if 
in no one you recognize your own wife ?" 

" No," he replied ; " I should not, I repeat, Droald, 



*HE duke's secbet. 287 

that you must be mad to tell me my lost wife is a stranger 
under my roof. Does she know me ?" 

The detective could have laughed aloud at the sim- 
plicity of the question. 

Of course she would know your grace by your name ?** 

" Bat there is no Miss Wynter, no Lady St. Albans 
there," he cried. 

" She would not be likely to call herself by either name," 
said Michael, with a smile. 

"If you know the name she calls herself, tell me," he 
cried, and suddenly, as with the swiftness of lightning 
the thought occurred to him that one face there had 
brought his lost Naomi to mind. He laid his hand on 
the man's arm, and the breath came in thick, hot gasps 
from his lips. 

" Miss Glynton, the supposed American heiress ,is your 
grace's wife, Naomi Wynter," the detective said ; "and I 
can prove it as clearly as one sees the sun at noon- 
day." 

CHAPTEK LH. 

MICHAEL DEOSKl's KEPORT. 

The Duke of Castlemayne sat for some time like one 
dazed. In vain did he try to clear his thoughts or 
brighten his ideas ; he could only look at his informant 
with eyes so full of pain and wonder that the detective 
himself was touched by it. 

"1 knew that your grace would be astonished, he 
said. 

" And I have seen her, spoken to her, spent hours with 
her, and did not recognize her." 

"No, you did not recognize her ; but here is just one 
thing to be said," replied Michael Droski ; " your grace 
never could have thought of her appearance as a fashion- 
able beauty, and a great heiress." 

" No, never," he replied ; " but it is like a parody, like 
a satire on love, to think that I should not know her now. 
I can account for all. Strange to say, I recognized in 
Miss Glynton a strange likeness to my lost wife ; she is 
much taller, and quite different in figure from the slender, 
simple girl I loved so dearly ; her face is different — quite 
chaaged ; but the eyes and the beautiful curves of tho 



288 THE duke's sECMni 

lips are unaltered. Strange to say, that in the full face X 
see little likeness, but it struck me when I saw her pro- 
file. How blind I must have been ! " 

" I do not think so," said the officer, calmly. " I tbink 
your grace said the young lady was only seventeen when 
you married her ? " 

" And that was all, Heaven help her," said the duke, 
" only seventeen." 

" That was twelve years since ; she would be little mor« 
than a child, then ; now she is in the full beauty of per- 
fect womanhood," said Michael. " I do not think it 
wonderful at all that you did not know her. It would 
have been far more wonderful if you had." 

Again incredulity was fast rising in the duke's mind. 

" There must be some mistake — it cannot possibly be 
true. How can this be, Droski ? " he asked, suddenly ; 
" my wife's father had been dead for many years, even, 
when I married her, and Miss Glynton Uves with her 
father — she is his heiress." 

" She is his niece," was the brusque reply. " He is no 
more her father than — than I am," he added, quite at a 
loss for a comparison. 

" His niece," cried the diike. " Why, what could be the 
motive of that." 

"If you ask me, your grace, I should say that her 
motive is this; she never intended you to know who she 
was, and surrounded herself by what she would think a net- 
work of diguise. She must have known that you had a 
full knowledge of her father's death, and the surest means 
of disguise that she could take would be to make her 
appearance in society with a father; that circumstance 
alone would have thrown you off your guard, even had you 
suspected her." 

" That it would," sighed the duke. " But, another thing, 
Droski, my wife's relations and friends were, I believe, all 
poor, and Miss Glynton is reputed to be one of the wealth- 
iest heiresses in England — how can that be? Then, my 
wife was not an American, but as sweet an Enghsh girl as 
ever the sun shone on." 

" I can explain it all to your grace in a few words, and 
you can verify the circumstances afterward; if your grace 
remembers, the last heard of your wife, then Lady St. Al- 
bans, was in Duncan Street; she left there with her little 



•tnS StTES'S SEGHST. S8d 

ion, and from that time no trace could be digcorered of 
them — every effort was in vain." 

"It was so," said the duke. 

" Well, your grace, I take up my thread from there. I 
must help my memory." 

He drew from his pocket a small note-book, and opened 
it, 

"Ihave every detail here," he said. "The most diffi- 
cult part of the task was the beginning; when I had once 
found a trace, I knew that the worst paH of my work was 
over. From Mrs. Stanley's in Duncan Street, Lady St 
,^bans, taking her little child with her, went to Liverpool. 
It appeared she had said something to Mrs. Stanley 
abont going to America; that gave me the idea of Liver- 
pool, and by dint of some very hard work and what I 
may call brilliant inspiration of guesses, I found that she 
had gone to Liverpool, and stayed at a coffee-house, in- 
tending to sail for New York by the ' City of Prague,' but 
a few days before the ' City of Prague ' sailed her child 
was taken ill. The doctor said that a sea voyage would 
be dangerous for it, and she removed it from the coffee- 
house to the outskirts of Liverpool. She lodged there 
with a Mrs. Towers, at a poor but pretty little place in 
the country, called Mulberry Cottage, about two miles 
from Liverpool. She lived there two years with her little 
Bon. 

"Two years," cried the duke; "and no one could find 
her. I spent thousands in those two years, and I would 
have spent thousands more. She so near, yet no one could 
find her." 

" 3be was out of the world, as it were," said the officer. 
" One generally looks for the lost people in large towns. 
I talked some time with this Mrs. Towers, who toid me she 
had always had an idea that her lodger belonged to a bet- 
ter class. Lady St. Albans was very poor ; she contrived 
to keep herself and her child by sewing, but it was a 
struggle. The child was a boy, noble and handsome as a 
prince ; he could just talk, and the woman seems to have 
been passionately fond of him. All that I could make out 
from her was this : that one day her lodger went to Liver- 
pool to see some lady about some work, and that she 
Drought this work home wrapped in a newspaper ; that, 
later in the evening, the landlady heard a great cry iron 



fdO THS duke's seoxbt. 

her room ; she hastened there, thinking that something 
terrible had happened, and found her standing up, white 
and trembling, reading a newspaper, her eyes quite wild. 

" • Is anything the matter ?' she cried. 

"And Lady St. Albans said : 

" * No. Only something I read here in this paper, start- 
led ma. Nothing is wrong.* 

"True to the habit and instinct of her class, the land- 
lady looked for that paper, but it was not to be found — 
evidently her young lodger had destroyed it. All that 
the woman could tell me besides that was that exactly one 
week after that her lodger left; she could not give me 
the faintest idea where she had gone, and there seemed 
again no possibility of tracing her. The landlady her- 
self said that a cab came for the little luggage there was, 
but she herself was not at home when her little lodger 
left. The servant-girl that had helped the cabman had 
left her long ago, had married, and died soon after. That 
seemed to me an end of all hope, until a sudden thought 
occurred to me. 

"She had seen something in the paper which had 
startled her; in all probabiUty the secret of where she 
had gone and what had affected her lay there. If I could 
but see the same paper. Yet, out of all the thousands of 
papers pubUshed in England, wbich might it be ? It 
might be even a foreign paper. The only sure informa- 
tion I had about it was that the paper had come from the 
house of some lady living in Liverpool — who, what, or 
where, no creatute could possibly tell. That was a check, 
your grace, even on the wildest imagination. I went to 
Liverpool again, knowing the year, and I contrived to 
get all the files of the principal papers pubhshed during 
that year. I need not tell your grace all the time that 
it took and trouble that it gave me. After weeks of re- 
search — for I read every paper though — I found this ad- 
vertisement: 

^ ** * If Helen Glynton, late of Henholm, in Surrey, be still 
living, and will apply to Hardress B. Glynton, Fifth 
Avenue, New York, she will hear of something to her 
%dvantage.' 

''It did not seem in any way to concern Lady Si 



THE DtTEE'S SECBET. M, 

Albans, that paragraph, yet it was the only one that 
seemed in any way to refer to any mystery, or any ro- 
mance. I took a sudden resolution ; I went back to 
London, and searched the register of the child's birth to 
find the mother's maiden name. I found it — thanks to 
the correctness of the modern law— I found it, and it was 
Wynter not Glynton, as I had hoped. Still I could not 
help thinking there might be a chance ; very often whai 
seems a blind chance of that kind is better worth iollow- 
ing than a more cert;ain clew. I resolved to go to 
America ; it seemed to be the last and only chance ; it 
was indeed, a slender one. 

I went to New York, and was not long in finding out 
that the name of Hardress B. Glynton was as well known 
there as that of Rothschild is in London. I found the 
house on Fifth Avenue was a palace, and that the rich 
merchant had an only daughter some said, others said a 
niece ; but let it be which it woiild, the young lady had 
come from Europe some eight or nine years since, and 
was considered the most beautiful woman in New York. 
There was many rumors about her. Some said that she 
was his niece, and that he had sent to England for her to 
adopt her ; others that she was the great merchant's 
daughter, and she had been sent to Europe to be educa,ted. 
Though I was on the spot it was months before I could 
learn anything certain about her. 

" I should not like to tell your grace all the secrets of 
the profession — we have to learn cunning ; we have, as it 
were, to study to deceive. From outsiders I could learn 
nothing, but after a time I managed to get into the house 
disgnised- 

" You will not like to hear it, but I had to do it 1 
found my way at last into the lady's suite of rooms, and 
there was ample evidence. Her maiden name had been 
Wynter, and the name of her mother, Helen Glynton. I 
foimd several books from Helen Glynton to John Wynter, 
and then it was all clear to me. 

"Helen Gljuton, the sister of the milhonaire, had 
married John Wynter, and Naomi was their only child. 
Evidently she had seen the advertisement that I had read, 
and had crossed the Atlantic at once in search of her 
uncle. True, she was known here as Miss Glynton. Sh« 
void no wedding riiig. She had left England with • 



292 THE DT7KE*S SECBIT. 

little child in her charge, and there was no mention her* 
of the child; neither Mr. Glynton nor any one else seemed 
to have the faintest notion that she had ever been mar- 
ried. 

" They had been to Spain, to Home, to Italy, and now 
had resolved on coming to England. I was sure, but 
wanted to be more sure. I remained in New York some 
time after they had left and there made myself quite sure 
of many things. 

" Hardress B. Glynton, the millionaire, had never been 
married; he had never been what was called a lady's 
man. He had devoted himself to the business of making 
money, and he had made it. I found after much research 
and trouble that his niece had been with him over eight 
years, and that she came over in one of the steamers of 
the Inman Line, 'The City of Berlin.' I came back to 
London and searched the list of passengers who had 
sailed that year in the 'City of BerHn;' among them was 
Naomi Glynton, as the poor young lady, perhaps to 
please her uncle, had called herself. 

" That made me feel quite certain ; every doubt and 
difficulty vanished — although I could not discover, and 
have not discovered what became of the child. I returned 
to London some days since, but I would not call to see 
you until I had the whole details at my finger's end. I 
soon found the status that Miss Glynton holds in society, 
and that she is here to- night, one of her grace'a most 
honored guests.'* 

CHAPTER LUL 

"I CAN MABBT NO OTHEB WOMAN.** 

Ths Duke of Castlemayne sat for some time in perfect 
silence. 

"It must be true, Droski," he said, at length, "but 
what am I to understand by it? If Miss Glynton be 
really my lost wife, although I did not recognize her, she 
must have known me. She, of course, would not know 
my name. What am I to think? She has never given 
me the faintest sign of recognition. She evidently never 
intended to know me ? " 

He thought of the hour on the river, and all he had said 
to her. and his face flushed hotly as he remembered iL 



THE DUKE*S SECRET. 293 

"I think," said Michael Droski, "I may speak mj 
mind frankly ; it is decidedly a bad lookout for your 
grace. It looks as though she had not wished you to 
know her." 

"Yet," said the duke, "if that has been the case, she 
would surely not have returned to England — she would 
purely not have ventured into the same society, where w« 
must meet every day." 

" She was, perhaps, quite sure in her disguise," said the 
detective. 

The duke paced the room with quick, uncertain steps. 

"I hardly know what to do," he said; " but one thing is 
quite sure, whether my wife forgives me or not — whether 
she quarrels with me or not, I owe all my life to you. I 
am grateful to you, and I wiU prove my gratitude; you 
shall be a rich man ; you have worked hard for me, and 
you shall be generously repaid — jou. shall not need to 
work any more. You have chased from my life its darkest 
perplexities; whatever new troubles may be in store for me, 
the old ones are ended; now I know my true position — 
my wife is Uving and well — I know that I can marry no 
other woman. I know the struggle now that lies before 
me. I can meet it; but to you I owe a debt of gratitude 
which must be eternal." 

Tears of emotion dimmed his eyes, and he held out his 
hand to the man who had worked so hard in his cause. 

"I thank you," he said, simply. "Money can never 
repay what you have done — I thank you." 

And Michael Droski, looking in the handsome, face, 
said: 

" This is the proudest moment of my life, your grace — 
the very proudest. I think," he continued, "that I will 
leave your grace now; my work is ended, the rest all lies 
in your hands; whether you claim the lady, whether you 
speak to her at once, or whatever you do, I am quite at 
your service should my evidence be needed. Your grace 
knows my address at Finchley — a line there at any time 
will bring me here. I think it will be as well, perhaps, 
to wait for a few days now before I see your grace again." 

A few minutes afterward he was gone, leaving the Duke 
of Castlemayne standing puzzled, bewildered, and most 
uncertain what to do. 

One thing he did do, and no one will think any the 



294 THE duke's secret. 

worse of him. He knelt down, his face buried in hii 
hands, and thanked Heaven with his whole heart. 

Whatever else might betide, she was found. The in- 
tolerable suspense of not knowing whether she was living 
or dead was no longer his — the uncertain future need no 
longer be dreaded. She must do one of two things — 
either forgive him and come back to him, or there must 
be a separation. Let it be which way it would the horror 
was ended, was over; and it seemed to him that then only 
did he realize the intolerable suspense and anguish of 
these years. He felfc like a tired man to whom come sud- 
denly a sweet sensation of rest. He could have lain down 
there and then and slept soundly. 

The weight was off his shoulders, he could sleep in 
peace ; he sat down for a few minutes to collect his 
thoughts. So that was Naomi, that proud, beautiful 
woman, whose every gesture was full of imperial pride 
and grace — that was his fair young wife, Naomi, who had 
loved him so well ; how changed, not only in figure, but 
in heart and mind ; how proudly and coldly they looked 
at him now, those sweet eyes ! how proudly the sweet 
lips curved when they smiled! It was all his own fault, 
it was he who had changed her, he who had turned that 
sweet, loving nature into bitterness. 

" Naomi is found ! " he said the words over and over 
again to himself, so as to fix them on his brain; the sweet, 
loving young wife he had lost so long ago, she whom he 
had treated with such cruel cowardice. 

She was his wife legally, lawfully his, and he had loved 
her with all the fierce, wild, sweet passion of first love, 
but he did not know how to meet her, he was at a loss 
what he should do. He could not go up to her, take her 
hand, and say to her: " Naomi, I have found you at last." 
She would wither him with the scorn of her beautiful 
face and the flash of her beautiful eyes ; he must wait 
and think what to do; there was no hurry for a few hours, 
or even for a few days, and he must think long and 
seriously about it ; so much would depend on the first 
step he took. 

Then a fierce longing seized him to look upon her. She 
was under his roof, this imperially beautiful woman who 
had half London at her feet. She was near him — in two 
minutes he could look upon her face, listen to her voice, 



THE duke's secbet. 296 

touch her hand. How could he help falling ou his knees 
before her and crying out: 

"Oh, Naomi, my wife!" 

He must go back and look at her — he must see what 
were the changes in that beautiful face, and why he could 
not recognize her. He would not think of the Lady Val- 
entine; he said to himself that he should go mad if he 
stopped there any longer. He was going to see Naomi; 
he had thought of the night when he waited for her in 
his study at Rood Castle, the summer wind stirring the 
ivy on the grand old walls, and the moonlight falling like 
silver beams, and now, after twelve years of absence, he 
was going to look at her again. 

He walked slowly back to the ball-room, his face and 
lips quite white, his eyes troubled, and just as he crossed 
the broad corridor the Duchess of Castlemayne swept in 
her rich satin and jewels across the lower end of the halL 

"Bertrani," she cried, " my dear boy, how very ill you 
look, and where have you been all this time ? Let me 
ring for some wine; come in here for a few minutes. 

She turned aside to the morning-room, and he followed 
her. 

The Duchess of Castlemayne laid her fan on the table, 
and turned with anxious eyes to him. 

"My dearest boy," she said, "you are not well I you 
must have some wine." 

He flung himself into the nearest chair. 

" You are right, mother, I am not weU, and I will have 
some wine." 

i She rang for it, and he drank it quickly; it revived him, 
and he said: 

"I knew that I wanted something, and that must haT« 
been it. Thank you, mother, you are always kind." 

It was true; she was proud, haughty, imperious by na- 
ture; but there was one thing quite certain, she loved her 
son with a passionate love. She had been imperious and 
almost intolerably despotic over him, but she worshipped 
him as the greatest treasure she had on earth. She never 
failed in kindness to him. He drew her beautiful proud 
face down to the level of his own ; he had laid his head on 
her breast, longing with all his heart to tell her his story, 
but the old fear and the old shamo were too strong upoB 
tum— he could not. 



296 THE duke's seceet. 

" Where have you been, Bertrand ?" she asked, at lasi 
"I have missed you so long. ' 

" I had to see some one on business," he replied. 

" Business, my dear, at midnight, and when you were 
so busily engaged, too. It must have been of strange im- 
portance." 

" It was, mother; the person I saw had been abroad, 
and had only just returned to England; I was obliged to 
see him. I did not know I had been so long away. We 
will go back to the ball-room. What a success your ball 
has been, mother." 

To his great relief the duchess said she would follow 
jh im in a few minutes. He wanted to be alone when he 
saw Naomi, for the first time knowing who she was. The 
duchess laid her white jeweled hand on his head. 

"I am not satisfied, Bertrand," she said; "you look ill; 
your face and hps are quite white, and your head burns. 
Ah, my dear, be careful of yourself — ^you are all I have in 
the world." 

" I am all right, mother," he said, " there is nothing 
the matter with me." 

"I have sworn to myself," said the duchess, '* never to 
•ay one more word on the subject, but it is so terrible to 
me that it is almost a nightmare. Bertrand, ask yourself 
what I, your mother, should do, if anything happened to 
you, and the son of the woman I hate became Lord of 
Castlemayne before I die ? Have you ever contemplated 
such a thing ? I have." 

His face quivered with emotion as he kissed her 
again. 

" Have no fear, mother, I am not ill, I never was better, 
and — trust to me — I shall have good news for you soon 
— trust me." 

And she watched him back to the ball-room, his head 
erect and his eyes fiUed with a bright, happy light. 

CHAPTER UV. 

"the name I LOVE BEST." 

He must be alone when he saw her, lest happy cries or 
loving words should fall, against his will, from his lips. 
He could not bear that any creature should be « witness 
of his emotion — that any should bn near bim. 



THE DTJKE*& SECBEl?. 397 

The music of one of Strauss's waltees sounded clearly 
and distinctly as he reached the ball-room ; he heard the 
measured rhythm of light feet, the rustle of rich silk, 
the shght murmur of silvery voices, and laughter. He 
did not see her at first ; he stood leaning against the pedes- 
tal of the beautiful statue of Hebe — Hebe, in white marble, 
with clustering crimson roses at her feet. He leaned 
with his elbow on the top of the pedestal, watching 
the fair women who passed and repassed ; but he did not 
see her for whom his soul looked out of his ej'es. At last 
the number of dancers grew less, and then he saw her. 

She was talking to the Prince De Ligne, a fair-haired, 
handsome Frenchman, whose eyes were bent in earnest 
admiration on her face. The light in the rubies seemed 
to gleam and glitter like sharp points of crimson flame; 
the rich white silk fell in graceful folds round her 
queenly figure. She had the proud, graceful bearing of 
an empress, and the prince looked like one of her sub- 
jects. 

And this was Naomi, his fair, young wife; this regal, 
imperial lady, with the rubies in her hair — Naomi, the 
sweet, tender, gentle girl, who had loved him so dearly. 

It was most incredible. There was not the faintest 
resemblance in figure. 

Naomi had been very slender and girlish — this lady 
was in full perfection of a glorious womanhood, much 
taller than when he had lost her. The golden-browu 
hair had a deeper sheen; the features seemed to have 
changed, and to have gro^vn more perfect and regular. 
And, then, as he looked at her more and more earnestly, 
the face of his girl love was there again; there could be 
no other such eyes, no other such curves on the beautiful 
lips. The longer he looked at her, the more he wondered 
that he had not from the first recognized her. Yet how 
could he have dreamed that this beautiful Naomi was 
one of the wealthiest heiresses in England. The girl 
who had been sent in shame and disgrace from the 
stately walls of Rood Castle was sought after now by 
peers and princes. How could he ever have dreamed of 
such a change ? 

He would never have been surprised to find her among 
the poor and lowly ; he had never in his dreams fancied 
her in any other class. 



298 THE duke's secret. 

She was looking with a smile at the prince — a beauti- 
ful smile, that seemed to begin in her eyes and end on 
her lips. He remembered the smile ; but it had been 
more sweet and more shy when she was his Naomi. 

He recognized her at last ; he felt now that even had 
he never heard Michael Droski's story, it must, in time, 
have dawned upon him who she was — he must have 
guessed it in time. All the longing of his heart and soul 
seemed to go out through his eyes ; he felt that he could 
never address her again as a stranger, yet she evidently 
did not intend to be anything but a stranger to him. 

One or two passing by him spoke jestingly to him ; the 
dancing was at an end for a few minutes, and the dancers 
went off for refreshments. Naomi was coming in his 
direction, the Prince de Ligne walking by her side — 
coming nearer to him. His wife, whose name he dare 
not utter, passed so near to him that the rich silk touched 
him, and the perfume of the flowers she carried reached 
him. 

He longed, with unutterable longing, to cry out — 
•* Naomi, my darling, come to me." But the beautiful 
eyes looked at him with the cold, proud, clear glance of 
a stranger. 

His breath came in thick, hot gasps; his heart beat loud 
and fast. Such pain came into his eyes that she, glancing 
carelessly at him as she passed, involuntarily hesitated for 
half a moment, then went on, with a murmured word of 
kindness on her lips. Could it be Naomi — oh, Heaven — • 
with a stranger's smile for him ? 

On the impulse of the moment he followed her. No 
matter if twenty princes were by her side — no matter, she 
must speak to him, and he must see if there was any trace 
of Naomi in the queenly woman's ways. He followed 
them down the long ball-room, where Naomi took a seat, 
where tier after tier of fragi-ant blossoms sent out rich 
perfume. The prince stood for a few minutes by her side, 
and no one liked to interrupt thetefe a-tete; then the prince 
had to leave her in search of his partner, and the duke 
immediately took his place. She turned her head with 
careless, queenly grace. 

"You are not dancing much to-night, duke," said she. 

*' Ah, no, it can not be Naomi?" his whole soul cried 
out in passionate anguish. Naomi could uttv«r speak U9 



TEE duee's secbet. 999 

to him. He had been her heart's idol, and she spoke now 
Hghtly, coolly, carelessly, as though she was the stranger 
he had believed her to be." 

" I do not feel quite in humor for it," he replied. "Why 
could he not break the trammels of silence, why not cry 
out to her then and there, " You are my wife, Naomi;" ho 
could not. 

" You are not looking quite so weU to-day," she said, 
and she drew aside the rich white silk, that he might 
take a seat by her side. 

He wondered if she could hear his heart beating — if 
she could guess at his torture of agitation and pain — but, 
surely not, for her smile was calm and bright. He looked 
into her face — into her eyes; there was not the faintest 
shadow of betrayal there. 

" I suppose," she said, " every one should be in the 
humor for dancing if they come to a bah, but I like watch- 
ing others dance, quite as much as dancing myself. This 
has been a splendid ball. I do not know that I have ever 
seen so many beautiful women, or such exquisite toilets." 

" We are happy and foi-tunate in pleasing you," he said, 
*' You see so many brilliant entertainments." 

" I see a great deal," she replied, quietly. 

"How Lady Valentine enjoys dancing," he said, hoping 
to see some change in her face at the mention of that 
name, but she smiled lightly as she answered: 

" Yes, she enjoys it thoroughh', and she dances ex- 
quisitely. I consider her the most graceful dancer in the 
room." 

Could it be Naomi? Ah, no! impossible. He had 
been mad or dreaming, or Droski was mad. What bad 
this fair, cold, proud queen to do with Naomi? He 
thought of something which would be a test — of some 
question he could ask which would either confuse or sur- 
prise her. 

" Valentine is a strange name for a girl, is it not ? " he 
said, suddenly. " The St. Valentine of old was a man. I 
wonder the name is given indiscriminately now to boys 
and girls. I think there is a great character in names," 
he continued, nervously. " No other names would suit 
Lord Arden's daughter one-half so well — the frank, light 
tenderness and simple candor that distinguish her, are all 
k^d ia her name. I wonder — it is a piece of downright 



300 THE duwe's secret. 

rudeness, I know — but Jl have so often vrondered whal 
your Christian name is. I am sure that it is an uncommon 
one." 

"Why should you think so?" she cried, laughingly, 
but of embarrassment or confusion there was not the 
faintest trace of it in her eyes or face — not the most 
trifling. 

"I do not answer," because you yourself are of an 
uncommon type," he said. " You must know that I have 
often thought and wondered what your name was — 
whether you had been named after a flower, a queen, a 
goddess, or what." 

She laughed aloud the sweet, musical laugh he loved 
so much. 

"Nothing so poetical," she replied. My name is what 
people call a Bible name — can you guess it ? " 

She looked at him quite calmly, quietly, with frank, 
wide open eyes — so frank that his heart chilled again. 
This could not be his sweet, sensitive Naomi. 

" If you wiU guess," she said, " I will tell you — when 
you are right." 

His heart almost stopped beating when he looked at her, 

" I am very much afraid," he said, " that I do not know 
as many Bible names as I ought. Some of them are very 
fine. I can not think of one that suits you." 

" Try," she said, with a very encouraging smile. 

"Hester, or Esther, Judith, Euth?" 

He lingered on the word Ruth — it was very ne«r to 
Naomi, he thought. She shook her head with a emiJe. 

" Not yet," she said, " not yet." 

"I am at a loss; it is not Vashti, I am sure — is ii 
Miriam ?" 

"You have guessed accurately," she said. "It is 
Miriam." And indeed her name was Naomi Miriam 
Wynter ; in all probability he had never heard of the second 
name; she had never used it until now. 

" Miriam is one of the finest names in the language," 
she continued; " I think I prefer it to any other. But you 
look disappointed, duke," 

He was perplexed. She looked so frank, so fair, so can- 
did, Was she playing with him, teasing him, or telling 
him the truth ? Dare ha venture to say something more ? 



THE duke's SEORBT. 801 

If she was really Naomi it could not hurt her; if she were 
not she would not understand it. 

"The name I love best in the whole wide world," he 
■aid, " is Noami." 

And for half a moment there was profound silence; it 
lasted but for half a moment, yet he could hear the beating 
of his own heart. 

She repeated the word after him, quite calmly. 

" Naomi," she said. " Yes, it is a pretty name; but, I 
venture to think, slightly old-fashioned." 

"I love it," he said, "and with reason." 

" Reason rules us all," she quoted, laughingly. 

He looked at her earnestly, lingeringly; but there was 
not the faintest sign in her face ; she might have been the 
most perfect stranger to him. 

" You seem to understand the philosophy of names," 
she said. 

" I do not understand the philosophy of life," he added; 
" if I did I should be a happier man." 

"Philosophy and gray hairs come together," she an- 
swered, laughing; and the next moment a little group of 
dancers had formed a circle round her. 

CHAPTER LV. 

" I WOULD SOONEB BB DEAD." 

The brilliant ball was ended, and the duke saw Mr. 
Glynton escorting Lady Belle Chalmers to her carriage. 
He turned to look where that gentleman's beautiful heiress 
was, and found her surrounded by gentlemen; one held 
her bouquet, another her fan; each seemed anxious to take 
her to the carriage door, but the duke took possession of 
her. 

"I have been searching for you, Miss Glynton," he 
said. " Permit me." 

She laid her hand on his arm without one word, and 
the little court of admirers fell back; there was something 
in the duke's face that made an impression on them. 
With his own hands he drew the mass of crimson and 
gold round her beautiful shoulders, speaking no word, 
but looking at her with his whole heart in his eyes. 

" I shall see that you are safely placed in the carriage,* 
he said; "Mr. Glynton is engaged." 



801 THE duke's SECMT. 

He would go with her, and he did, to the astoniahineiiit 
of his own servants. He stood bareheaded by the carriage 
door, anxious that she was well wrapped. Lady Bell 
was with them; Mr. Glynton had offered to set her down. 

"The night air is sweet enough," said Naomi; " it will 
not hurt me.*' 

*' It is like many other things, both sweet and danger- 
ous," said the duke, and a smile rippled over his beauti- 
ful face. 

" You speak in epigrams to-night," she said, carelessly. 

She did what was very unusual for her; she held out 
her pretty gloved hand to bid him good-night. 

The duke held it perhaps for one moment longer than 
etiquette required. She did Kot hear the passionate 
murmur that fell from his lips. He longed with his 
whole heart to ciy out to her there and then: "Tell me, 
for Heaven's sake are you my wife, Naomi?" 

He feared that if she vanished from his sight before he 
had wrung the truth from her he should never know it. 
He felt inclined to clasp her in his arms and keep her at 
any cost. 

He felt that she withdrew her hands in some little won- 
der while she said " Gond-nigbt." 

He must let her go with his hungry desire for the truth 
unsatisfied. He could not detain her; even now Mr. 
Glynton was looking at him in some httle wonder. 

" Good-night," he said slowly, and the next moment 
no beautiful face was between him and the stars in 
heaven. He returned to the house with a wild sense of 
his own inability to cope with the situation. 

The ball-room was rapidly thinning; his beautiful 
mother, quite indefatigable, was still doing the honors; 
but Lady Valentine was not dancing, and he went up to 
her at once. It seemed like an inspiraiion from heaven 
that he should go to her in his difficulties and take coun- 
sel from her. "What would she think of the news he had 
to tell? 

He went up to her, and his heart smote him when he 
saw how her whole face brightened when she saw him. 

" Valentine," he said, gently, " I want to talk to you. I 
must see you alone, and to-night. Ihave something very 
particular oo say to you. How long will it b« Mfor« 
these people go, do you think?" 



T THE duke's secret. 303 

She looked round the ball-room with quick eyea, noting 
the number of dancers. 

" An hour longer, I should think," she replied. 

" Where can I see you, Valentine ? It will hardly do 
for us to leave the room together, but will you go to th« 
picture-gallery, and I will follow you in a few minutes." 

It was no unusual thing to seek the picture-gallery for 
cooler air; it was brilliantly lighted, and there was a re- 
freshing sweep of the summer wind from one of the long, 
open windows. Lady Valentine looked round on the 
pretty picturesque gallery; it was not a large one, and the 
family portraits were not there; but it contained a few 
fine works by the old masters, and some by modern artists; 
the deep bay-windows were shrouded by rich hangings, 
there was a rich crimson carpet on the floor, and a few 
fine statues. Lady Valentine sat down, wondering what 
had caused the duke's agitation, and what he wisUed to 
see her for, and the next moment he was by her side. 
With her frank impulse she took the hand that he had 
laid on her shoulder, and elapsed it in her own. 

" I can see that you are in trouble," she said, in a low 
voice. " How white and ill you look; how I wish all your 
suspense and misery was ended. " 

" It is ended, Valentine : at least the suspense of it," 
he repUed, gravely; but the sudden paling of her lips re- 
minded him that she had a vital interest in what he had 
to say; to her it would make all the difference in the 
world whether his wife were living or dead ; he must be 
cautious, and break the astounding inteUigence gently to 
her; he felt the hand that touched his own grow deadly 
cold, and he remembered, with bitter pain that she loved 
him with her whole heart, and he had to tell her that his 
wife was Hving. 

" You have had news. I know you have seen Droski 
Oh, duke, what does he say ? Is she — is she — living — 
found?" 

The pale, quivering lips could hardly articulate the 
words, and the Duke of Castlemayne felt as though he 
were about to plunge a sword in that loving heart. 

" I have the strangest news for you, Valentine," he 
said. " It is so wonderful that even I, whom it concerns 
most, can hardly beheve it, yet I know it to be true. It 
relieres me of one kind of suspense, but it deepens my 



304 THE DUKE*S SEflRiilT. 

suspense in another way. I was wretched before, but it 
seems to me my Avretchedness is redoubled. I feel as 
though I could not tell you, Valentine — as though I can 
hardly hope that \ou will believe one word that I say. 
Valentine, my wile — is living and found." 

She was quite silent; the pallor of her face, and the 
chill of her hands alarmed him; he did not like to break 
that silence even by a sigh. 

The moments were like hours to him with that silent, 
drooping figure by his side; at last, and by a supreme ef- 
fort of strength and will, she raised her face to his. 

" I am so glad, if it be to your happiness," she said, gen- 
tly. "I am glad she is living. I am glad she it found. I 
am glad of anything that m^es you happy — " 

" Thank you. I knew you would be kind, Valentine, 
and I have come to you in my trouble, for it is great; she 
is living — she is here in London." 

Looking at her, he saw in spite of her efforts, her face 
quivering with pain. 

"In London," she cried, faintly; '* so near to us. How 
strange. Did he bring her with him ?" 

"No, she came first," he repUed, and in that moment the 
great and powerful Duke of Castlemayne would have given 
something to have found himself a thousand miles away. 

" Came first and did not come straight to you. That 
ueems strange," she said in a low voice. 

"I have news stranger still; I do not think she will 
ever come to me again. I will tell you all that has 
passed, and you will decide for yourself what you think." 
Still he could not find the courage to say to her in 
so many words: " Miss Glynton is my wife." It seemed 
to him that he had not reahzed the fiill force of the news 
until he had to communicate it to another. " Valentine, 
will you believe that I have seen my wife without recog- 
nizing her, that I have met her time after time, have 
talked to her, and yet I had not the faintest notion of 
her identity, not the faintest ?" 

She looked at him with unutterable surprise. 

" Is that possible ? I should not have thought it so." 

" It is more than possible, it is true, and you have done 
this same thing. You have spent many hours with her, 
and have talked much with her." 

" To your wife," she said, shudderingly. 



THE duke's secbet. 805 

** Tes, to my wife. She has been here to-night, Valen- 
tine. She was at the ball." 

" Your wife," she repeated again, " here to-night." 

" Yes; one of my mother's most honored guests — one 
of the fairest and proudest women present," he went on. 

" You know by sight and by name every lady who was 
here this evening; is there one whom, imder any guise, 
you could imagine to be my wife ?" 

" No," she replied," quickly, " not one. Besides which 
we know them all, their families and histories; there was 
no stranger present." 

" She is no stranger to us," he replied. " Oh, Valen- 
tine, can you not guess ?" 

"Indeed I can not," she said, "thinking over every 
lady present to-night I can not imagine one whom there 
is the least probability that you should recognize as your 
wife." 

"Yes, she was here; the queen, they said, of the ball." 

" There is only one person whom I should hate it to 
be," she cried, " only one — from all London, from all the 
world. I would rather it were any one than this one" 

Her face grew whiter than death, her lips trembled. 

" Say, oh, surely it is not the only woman in the world 
whom I dislike; Heaven itself could not be so cruel as 
that." 

" Who is it you dislike so much ?" he asked, knowing, 
yet dreading the answer. 

"It is Miss Glynton," she replied; "she is the only 
woman who has ever made me feel jealous or unhappy. 
Ah, duke, do not say — do not tell me that it is Miss Glyn- 
ton, the only one creature living whom I dislike." 

She clung to him with almost hysterical passion, her fair 
white arms and hands tossed in wild passion. 

"I will not have it," she cried; you shall not say her 
name; any other I welcome and love for your sake, but 
not that one. She has hurt me so; she hurt me when she 
took you away from me. I would sooner be dead than 
that she — the proud, cold, beautiful woman — should come 
back as your wife — I would sooner be dead. 

Her head dropped, she fell on her knees by the old oaken 
chair, and buried her face in her hands. 

He had never seen a woman weep as she wept then, 
•nd he stood by helpless, not knowing what to say, longing 



806 TEE duke's seobet. 

with all his heart to console her, yet with a strong senstt 
that he must use no more loving words to her. 

He had suffered much since the days of his folly, he had 
seen others suffer, too; but his heart had never been so 
riven with anguish as when he stood by Lady Valentine's 
eide, and could find no word to comfort her. 

CHAPTEB LVL 

**HEE OHABAOTEB HAS CERTAINLY CHANOED." 

" Valentine," said the duke, gently, *' every tear of yours 
is a stab to me. What can I say or do to comfort you ? 
I wish I had died rather than have brought this trouble 
on you. How can I comfort you ?" 

The despair in his voice touched her more than his 
words; she tried to still the terrible sobs that choked her; 
she tried to stop the rain of tears. Nothing could have 
touched her so keenly as to know that she was giving him 
pain. 

" How can I comfort you ?" he cried. " Oh, miserable 
that I am — I, who would have saved you from all trouble. 
Valentine, my dear, youi* tears are killing me." 

Then she rose from her knees, and he drew her near to 
him. The girlish, slender figure trembled with emotion, 
the fair young face was drowned in tears. 

"I am sorry," she said. "Do not let my tears hurt you 
— they have done me good. Is it true, duke, and sure, 
without mistake ?" 

" I believe so. There seems no reason to doubt Droski; 
he has complete evidence, complete proof. But, Valentine, 
it seems more like a fairy tale or a romance than anything 
else. Naomi was so pure, so sweet and simple, so friend- 
less; Vliss Glynton is so rich, so honored. I should never 
have dreamed of looking for my lost wife in the ranks of 
the proudest and most exclusive of women. I have sor- 
rowed often over a picture of Naomi working hard for her 
daily bread, but I never thought of her in affluence and 
magnificence." 

" No, nor did I," said Lady Valentine. " Of course, if 
she is your lost wife, that changes everything. What 
seemed to be bold and forward before I knew this, now 
appears to be quite natural; she had a right to your timt 



THE duke's secret. 307 

and attention. You did not in the least recognize her, 

did you?" 

"No, not at all; it was the last idea that could have 
entered my head." 

"But why did she not make herself known to you? 
Why has sbe kept up this mystery and disguise? I do 
not understand it." 

" Nor do I, and that is the reason why I felt that I must 
consult you at once and know what you think. I am 
quite puzzled over it. If she never intended to come back 
to me why did she come to London ? I can not absolutely 
say that she sought us, but she could have avoided usy 
even more easily than she had visited us; no one forced 
her to know us; my mother was introduced to her, but 
she could have declined that introduction; she need not 
have followed it up; she need not have known me or 
you, but she seemed to do both; she never showed the 
slightest avoidance of us." 

"No, she did not," said Lady Valentine, musingly. 
" That is quite true." 

" I can not understand her motives at all," said the duke. 
" If she did not wish or intend to know me, or even to 
return to me, why has she purposely sought our acquaint- 
ance ? If she ever intends to know me why has she no* 
made herself known to me ?" 

"It is strange," said Lady Valentine; "perhaps she 
has been waiting to see if you love her enough to penetrate 
the disguise." 

" I do not think she wishes me to find her out," said the 
duke, quickly; "indeed, if it were not that I am sure 
Droski is right and would never tell such a story without 
ground for it — but for my firm faith in him, I should say 
it was a dream. 

"After he had told me, Valentine," said the duke. "I 
went to look at her. Tou can understand the feeling that 
drove me. I looked long and earnestly at her, then 
gradually I saw the likeness, and the face of my young 
wife seemed to grow before my eyes. I could have 
cursed my stupidity that I had not seen it before, the 
gesture of her hands, the play of her features, the curves 
of her lips. I wondered how it could have escaped me. 
She came sailing down the room with the Prince de Ligne; 
her dress touched me as sha passed; she looked at mt 



W THl DUOl's SSOBST. 

with careless eyes, a careless smile, and I — Oh, Valen- 
tine, the truth was in mj eyes, and she must hare read it 
there." 

"Soon afterward I saw her alone, and I resolved to 
tell her; her calm and serene indifference piqued me — 
angered me. I resolved to tell her. I went up to her 
and took a seat by her side; we began to talk; I purposely 
led the conversation to the subject of names, and asked 
hers. 

" I looked at her as I did so straight in the face. Hers 
never changed; her eyes did not fall; there was not even 
the faintest ripple over the calm of her features. She 
told me her name was a Bible name — could I guess it ? I 
said * Ruth ' among others, very softly and distinctly — it 
is so allied to Naomi that one seldom hears one without 
thinking of the other. She laughed even gayly, and 
when I said * Miriam,' she answered, * Yes, my name is 
Miriam.' That is a plain proof to me that she never in- 
tends me to recognize her." 

" Of course," said Lady Valentine, " it is just possible 
that she might have a middle name without your knowing 
it" 

"I never heard of it; my mother spoke of her as 
Naomi Wynter; but whether it be so or not, the fact that 
she conceals her name — Naomi — shows me quite plainly 
she did not intend for me to know her." 

" It looks like it said Lady Valentine. *' The position i» 
just a few degrees more awkward than it was before; of 
course, she — Naomi, I had better call her — does know 
how diligently you have sought her all these years." 

"No, she can not possibly know that," he replied. 

" Nor does she know that this detective has followed so 
closely on her track, and has made himself master of her 
position and of her story." 

" No — certainly— she knows nothing of that," said the 
duke; still I can not see what difference her knowledge 
of that would make." 

" Perhaps," said Lady Valentine, " she had some plan 
of her own; she may have said to herself that she would 
wait so long a time and watch you." 

The duke shook his head gravely. 

*%She is not one of that kind/' he wdd, "aht loved mt 



TEE duke's SE0BET. 809 

too dearly, Valentine; but now I know that she must hate 
and despise me." 

"Do you think that she has come back in all the 
bravery of her splendor to show you what you have 
lest?" 

" I can not tell; but no, I think not; I can not fancy 
that she could ever be guilty of an unworthy action, or 
that she could ever act from an imworthy motive; she 
was so sweet, so simple, and free from all worldliness; no, 
I can not think that, Valentine." 

" Her character has certainly changed since then. I do 
not find one fault with her, or criticise her, but we must 
both own that she is a woman of the world." 

" Yes, I should say she is," replied the duke. 

*' Then if she's changed in one respect, why not in others; 
perhaps, though it seems hard to say, perhaps she doea 
not love you now." 

"It may be so; I cannot tell," said the duke; "but, 
Valentine, what do you advise me to do ? Shall I speak 
to her and tell her that I recognize her, and »«k her to 
come back to me, or shall I go in this uncertainty, which 
is enough to drive any man mad; what would you 
advise?" 

" I am at a loss," she replied. " I tell you frankly that it 
seems to me even a more diflGlcult position than what it 
was before. You must feel very grateful to Droski," she 
added, with unconscious satire. 

" I am gratefid; I do not think there is another man in 
all the world who would have solved the mystery for me." 

"You will reward him handsomely?" she said. 

" That I shall, most handsomely; it sets the great ques- 
tion of my life at rest. I have found her now, the only 
thing I have to know is this, will she forgive me, or will 
she refuse ?" 

" No one can tell; but it seems to me as though she 
would refuse," said Lady Valentine, and there was surely 
no despair in her face; " then what shall you do ?" 

" I must be guided by circumstances," he replied. " I 
do not see my way clear at all." 

Then Lady Valentine looked up to him with tender 
eyes. 

" You have not told me one word about your liftle son,* 
■he said. 



SIO THE DUKS'S SSClfflfT. 

" Nor do I know ore word to tell you, Valentine, " n«i 
on«." 

Droski could make nothing out about the boy. She 
certainly took him with her from England. She must have 
found a home for him somewhere in America. He never 
went to her uncle's house, for her uncle never knew that 
she had been married. That is another reason why I 
should like to know what has become of my child. I 
should like to see him; my heart aches when I think of 
him. I was a miserable coward. I did wrong, but I have 
been awfully punished. Do you know, Valentine, there 
are times when I think my punishment greater than my 
crime." 

" She would not think so. Tour denial of her would 
seem so cruel and hard to bear. There is something on 
her side, you know." 

"I admit it," said the duke; " conscience makes cowards 
of us all. I tell you honestly, Valentine, there is something 
about her that awes me. I feel a reluctance to go to her 
and ask her the straightforward question as to whether sha 
is my wife." 

" It will come to that," said Lady Valentine. 

And then he told her the whole story just as Droski 
had told it to him. She listened in wonder; her first 
thoughts seemed to be marvelous; her second, wondei 
at the good fortune of the girl. 

"I have read of such things of men who have made 
marvelous fortunes, and of relations who have been found 
and adopted, but I never expected in real life to meet 
such." 

" It is a romance," said the duke; "but, oh, Valentine, 
I wish she had come back to me poor and more like she 
was when she left me. I shall never find my simple, 
sweet Naomi again in this superb lady. What shall I 
do?" 

"I should do nothing just yet," she replied. "The news 
has been a shock to you — a great shock; get over that, 
and take a few days to think it well over." 

And the duke thought that was the best advice he e9ul4 
tike on the subje«i 



THE duke's SEOBST. 311 



CHAPTEK LVn. 

** THAT MT WrFE IT CAN NOT BE 1" 

Mkthael Droski was made a rich man. The sum that 
went from the duke's banker to his was something almost 
fabulous; but he had worked hard for it and deserved it. 
The duke spent a long time in looking over the papers 
and documents and copies of papers that he had 
brought with him. Nothing could be more clear; and he 
saw at once that there was not the faintest lingering 
chance of any mistake. It seemed clear as the noonday 
flun in the heavens that Miss Glynton was really and truly 
his lost wife, Naomi Wynter. 

While there had been even ever so faint a doubt, ever 
•o faint a chance that there had been a mistake, the duke 
had felt almost a reprieve; but now it was clear to him 
as though she herself had told him who she was. How 
was he to approach her, this stately imperial lady, at whose 
feet this great world was sighing, he did not know. Did 
she care for him ? Mighty duke as he was, would she con- 
•ider it in no way honor to share his name and his title ? 

He asked himself one question; and even in his own 
heart he could hardly answer it. It was this — Which of 
the two did he love best — Lady Valentine, or the grandly 
beautiful woman whom he had made his wife ? All the 
fire, poetry and passion of his youth seemed to awake and 
to be renewed within him when he thought of her. Yet 
the tender compassion and loving affection he had for 
Lady Valentine seemed to him as great. 

The time was rapidly coming now when he must take 
Bome steps in the matter. It was evident to him that 
Naomi did not intend to make herself known to him; that 
she would probably leave London without in the least be- 
traying her identity. The London season was almost over, 
and he had heard of several places where she had promised 
to visit. If she went away now he did not see in what 
fashion he could meet her again. He must take some 
steps. 

It astonished him to find himself so overawed by her. 
Why could he not go up to her and say, " Naomi, my 
wife, I know you ! " Between him and her stood the 
reooUeotion of hig cruel cowardice, the long, chilling 



812 THE DUES'S BEGBET. 

separation of twelve years, a distance further and -mdet 
than that of the grave. And during the days that his 
doubts and fears assailed him most strongly, the duke 
was one of the most unhappy men in England. 

He saw her next at an afternoon concert given by the 
Duchess of Westeven for the benefit of some charity which 
engrossed fashionable attention. The duchess had gener- 
ously thrown open her magnificent rooms, and the con- 
cert was given at Westeven House. 

It was most fashionably and numerously attended; 
the beauties gathered in full force, and les elegantes 
also — Lady Valentine Arden and Miss Glynton, Lady 
Layard; there was also a cluster of Belgravian matrons, 
with the Duchess of Castlemayne at their head. The 
duke escorted the ladies of his household; and from 
where she sat, to her great interest, Lady Valentine saw 
that she was paler than usual; that the grand beauty was 
softened, and even increased, by the veil of tenderness 
and thought. Her toilet was simple and elegant. A 
dress of cream-colored silk trimmed with gold and orna- 
ments of gold. She wore a eucharist lily in her hair and 
one in the bodice of her dress. But this time no resent- 
ment rose bitter in Lady Valentine's gentle breast. If 
this were really his wife — let her do anything in the world 
— she would try to bring about a reconciliation between 
them. 

Afterward Lady Valentine could never speak of the con» 
cert for the simple reason that she never heard one note 
of the music; she was wholly engaged in watching her 
rival, who was quite unconscious of her gaze. 

She watched the different expressions of that beautiful 
face ; how a tender phrase of music softened it, how a 
martial phrase brightened it, how a sorrowful phrase 
shadowed it. 

" That woman has lived under a disguise," said Valen* 
tine to herself; " she has tried to seem careless, proud and 
cold, while she is none of the three." 

Once Lady Valentine saw her look at the duke, and 
after that one glance she never again doubted for one mo- 
ment that Miss Glynton was the duke's wife. 

She was looking at him, as she believed, quite unper- 
ceived; and for once her heiirt shone in her eyes. Lady 
Yalentine leaned back faint and pale in her chair; there 



THE duke's secret. 315 

was no mistaking such a glance as that. Then the duke 
leaned over the back of the chair and whispered to her. 

" Valentine, I have been watching her, and I have come 
to the conclusion that she has been trying to disguise her 
nature as well as her name. I wonder now if she wiU 
pass on with one of those imperial bows that always 
make me feel as though she were some empress, and I her 
slave." 

He waited, and what he had foreseen happened. She 
passed him by, and made no attempt to stop to speak him; 
passed him with a cold, careless bow, just as a stranger 
would liave done, 

"No," he said to himself, " I will not bear that; nothing 
could make me; she shall speak to me." 

He followed her and overtook her as she was going down 
the grand staircase leaning on the arm of the millionaire. 
She looked up Avith the calmest, coolest wonder as he ap- 
peared, flurried and almost breathless by her side. 

" Miss Glynton," he said, "you are leaving without one 
word to me." 

*' I did not know that your grace wanted a word," she 
replied, laughingly. 

" Certainly I do. Did you like the music ? Have you 
enjoyed the concert ?" 

" Yes," she replied, with a touch of weariness, " just as 
much as I ever enjoy anything." 

" That ought to be with all your heart," he said. "Why 
did you pass me without one word. Miss Glynton ?" 

She smiled the cold, careless smile that she gave to 
every one. 

" Did I ? I did not think of it. I was thinking of the 
soprano who sung that beautiful ballad of Sullivan's." 

"And so forgot me," said the duke. 

" You would laugh if I said that I did not remember 
you even enough to forget you," she said. " I did not 
give one thought to the matter." 

" I should say that ought to crush me, cried the duke; 
" but I do not feel crushed. I shall make every effort to 
spring up again intact." 

His heart was beating with passionate longing; but he 
knew that to attempt one word on this crowded, bril- 
liantly lighted staircase would be the greatest mistake he 
could make. 



314 THE duke's becbbt. 

" Shall I have the pleastire of seeing you anywhere this 
evening ?" he said. 

"We are going to a conversazione at Cromwell House," 
she said; that will not be very tempting to you." 

" It will be if you are there," he said; but she made no 
answer, only turned her proud face away from him. " Is 
that your only engagement ?" he asked again. 

" It is the only one that we shall keep," she replied. "I 
am tir6d to-day. I like concerts best in the evening; 
music always makes me more or less melancholy, and it 
is rather too early to feel melancholy." 

« Why should that be?" he asked. 

" Because all sweet soimds are sad as sweet," she 
replied. 

"They ought not to be so to you;" but she never gave 
the faintest sign of having heard; she never noticed any 
compliment he paid to her, no matter how pretty or dainty 
it was. She drew the crimson and gold mass round her 
shoulder and shivered slightly although it was June and 
the day warm. He walked on by her side in silence; the 
conversation between them seemed to have died a natural 
death. No one could have been more calm, more care- 
less than she. 

She did not look at him ; as for any embarrassment or con- 
fusion there was not the faintest trace of it. He felt that 
if this kind of thing went on much longer it would drive 
him mad. They parted as coolly and as indifferently as 
she had met him. He stood looking at the carriage as it 
drove away. 

" That my wife," he said to himself in passionate anger, 
" that cold, heartless, proud, imperial beauty my loving, 
gentle Naomi. It can not be ! " 

Later on that evening he told Lady Valentine of the 
interview. 

"I should like," he said, "before I take any very 
serious steps, to call upon her just once in her own 
house to see if any solution of the difficulty will arise 
from that What do you say ? Would my mother call 
there to-morrow, do you think; and you, Valentine, 
too?" 

" The duchess would go anywhere you wished, I am 
sure; and if I could serve you, I would go through ftrf 
•nd water for you." 



THE duke's secret. 315 

** Gdd bleas you, Yalentine," he said; and these kindly 
words brought tears to her tears. 

The duchess was most wilhng. 

"I had already thought of it, Bertrand," she said. "Mr. 
Glynton was so very kind over the fancy fair that I shall 
be glad to show my esteem for him." 

So it was arranged that they should all three call at 
Brook House on the morrow; and until the morrow came 
no rest, sleep, or peace came to the Duke of Castlemayne. 

"I could not live through much more of it," he 
groaned aloud; "this is worse than the suspense, for this 
is intolerable, and I lived through that." 

The loving eyes of Lady Valentine detected the nervous 
emotion and agitation under which he suffered; and in 
her kindly fashion she did her very best to cheer him. 

CHAPTER LVm. 

"she is indiffeeent to tou.** 

The Duchess of Castlemayne felt some little surprise, 
which she was far too well bred to express, even by a 
look, when they were shown into the magnificent drawing- 
room at Brook House; the perfect and exquisite taste 
displayed struck her more than anything else. 

She had expected everything new, with plenty of gild- 
ing; but these rooms were decorated and furnished as 
harmoniously and perfectly as her own. It was no mean 
home of a parvenu or of a plebian; it differed from others 
simply in being more magnificent. 

Miss Glynton was alone. The millionaire had gone on 
a wooing expedition, and his return was uncertain. She 
received her visitors with the most exquisite grace. The 
duke could not help recalling Lady Valentine's words, 
" A perfect woman of the world." In her manner to the 
duchess there was the faintest shade of graceful defer- 
ence; to Lady Valentine, easy graceful courtesy that 
completely ignored all jealousy or rivalry to the duke. 
She was simply gracefully charming. 

The three ladies were soon engaged in an animated dis- 
cussion, the duke adding a word here and there. He 
wondered, as he sat tbere, what good he could have 
imagined would result from this visit — only to purzle him 



816 i SE duke's seobet. 

•till more; lor, if this proud, beautiful woman, who did 
the houors of her house so gracefully, were indeed Naomi, 
then all love for him, all interest in him, was certainly 
dead in her heart. 

His attention was suddenly recalled by hearing his 
mother speak of Rood Castle, and he found that she was 
giving Miss Glynton a most pressing invitation to go there 
during the autumn. He listened in breathless agitation. 
She thanked the duchess gracefully, earnestly; there was 
a slight flush on her beautiful face, a light brighter than 
usual in her eyes as she declined. 

They had so many arrangements for the autumn months 
that she did not think it would be possible to spare even 
a few days. 

The duchess repeated what a great pleasure it would 
be to her if she could change any of her arrangements, 
evenf if she only spent three days with her. 

But Miss Glynton was quite firm; there was no possi- 
biKty of her being able to make a visit. 

" It would have been a great pleasure to me 1^ have 
seen Rood Castle," she said, " for I hear that it is verily 
the beau ideal of an old English castle. I am sorry not 
to be able to accept your grace's kind invitation." 

In the proud beautiful face there was not a trace of 
confusion or embarrassment; no one could ever have 
dreamed that the imperially beautiful woman sitting there, 
declining to visit one of the finest old castles in the 
country, had been turned with shame and disgrace from 
its walls; had been dismissed with bitter, scathing words 
by the one who now entreated her presence there as 
crowning grace. Nothing seemed more wildly improb- 
able: 

The duke, looking at her and listening to her, thought 
himself the victim of some wild chimera or some ma<* 
fancy. 

His eyes, full of wonder, met Lady Valentine's; and in 
her glance he read unutterable surprise. If this indeed 
were the Naomi who had been sent away in high wrath 
from Rood Castle, she was a model among women. She 
turned in her graceful fasliion to Lady Vfilentine. 

"I am sorry this season is over,'' she said. "I hav« 
made some very pleasant acquaintances; and it is doubt* 
fui whether I shall meet many of them agaijo." 



T&E duee's seobet. 317 

SomethiBg impelled Lady Valentine to speak; she could 
keep silent no longer, 

"Are you leaving England, then?" she asked. "Do 
you intend to return to America." 

The duchess looked shocked by this very abrupt ques- 
tion; but Miss Glynton replied with a smile. 

"I do not think we shall be in London again — at least 
for many years." 

She spoke quietly, and as though the fact had no par- 
ticular interest for any one. The duke looked bewildered. 
Lady Valentine was growing quite excited; her face 
flushed, and his Grace of Castlemayne grew nervous, 
knowing what a champion she was in his cause. 

"I am sorrry," said the duchess; and her clear low voice 
fell like a calm over them. " Perhaps to strangers who 
have the wide world to choose from England may not be 
the most attractive country ?" 

" No," said Miss Glynton, quietly, " I do not think it is 
but I shall carry away from it some very happy and pleasant 
memories." 

" She never intends me to recognize her," said the duke 
to himself with dismay. 

" She will leave England without one word to him/* 
thought Lady Valentine. 

Then Miss Glynton turned the conversation to some 
other subject; and the duke felt that he had been foiled in 
the object of his visit; if anything he was even further from 
her than he had been. She had spoken of leaving London 
and England as coolly as she would have spoken of crossing 
the room. She seemed to look upon the fuct that they might 
never meet again as something quite natural, and not to be 
avoided; and yet this woman was supposed to be his wife. 
He saw from Lady Valentine's face that tbere was some 
little fear lest she should frankly speak out the thoughts 
that were, he thought, weighing on her mind. 

The duchess had ah'eady prolonged the call some few 
minutes beyond the proper regulation time, and he felt 
relieved when at last she rose to go. 

"I hope," said her grace, that we shall meet again before 
you leave London." 

*' It would be a great pleasure to me," said the beau- 
tiful woman, calmly;" but I am afraid my engagements ar« 
•o numerous that I am hardly able to make fresh ones." 



318 THE duke's secbet. 

" Would Miss Glyntou waive ceremony and dine with 
us on Tuesday ?" said tlie duke. " Mr. Glynton, I know, 
joins the Richmond party on that day," 

She looked up at liim with a smile. 

" And you think I shall not like being alone. It is very 
kind of you to think of it." 

As the duchess eagerly joined in, it was agreed upon, 
and the visitors left. Not one word could the duke and 
Lady Valentine exchange until they had reached home, 
and her grace had gone to rest after the fatigue of the 
day. Then he sought her in gi-eatest haste. 

"Valentine," he cried, " do come and talk with me; my 
mind is all chaos. What did you think of that interview ?" 

" I have never been so puzzled. If you were not so cer- 
tain I should decidedly think the whole story a mistake. 
If it is no mistake, then I should say that most decidedly 
all care or affection for you is quite dead in her heart, and 
that she never intends you to recognize her." 

" I am afraid that it is," he said, sadly. " Why, then, 
did she come ?" 

" She may have half a dozen reasons for that. Perhaps 
she wanted to see how you were getting on, what you 
were doing, if you had married again, or anything of the 
kind. I do not mean actually married again; but if you 
were supposed to care for any one. She wanted, prob- 
ably, to see just how you were situated." 

" If she had interest enough left in me to make her do 
that she would hardly be so cool and so careless," said 
the duke. 

" There is just one thing more," said Lady Valentine. 
" Perhaps coming to London may have bean entirely tha 
uncle's wish, and she could not disobey if he wished her 
to come. I fancy that is the real reason, because though 
she has been here in London so long, and must have 
known that we were here, she never even sought or avoided 
us. She wanted to see how the land lay; but she is in- 
different to you." 

" But, Valentine, she can not be so cruel as to wish to 
keep me always in suspense. She must have known that 
my mother's life is darkened with anxiety o^er me. She 
must know that I have suffered suspense such as v«ry 
few suffer. She eanixot mean to punish me all my lif* U) 



THE duke's SECREl-. 319 

" Tou must ask lier," said Lady Valentine. " It will ba 
useless to delay. You must tell her that you recogniza 
her, and ask her what she means to do." 

" Yes," he said, " I must do what you say. I made up 
my mind while we were at Brook House this morning. 
That is why I pressed her to dine with us. If she cornea 
on Tuesday I mean to speak to her; it is time something 
was done. Great Heaven, to think that Naomi should 
Vive so near to me for so long and yet should make no 
single effort; and she must have seen how unhappy I am. 
How unsettled. I have said nothing of the kind to her. 
Why, Valentine, she must have grown hard of heart, she 
who was so loving once." 

She went nearer to him in her anxiety to comfort him, 
and laid her hands lovingly on his shoulders. 

" Let your heart rest now," she said. " You have done 
your best. You are in that most trying position any man 
could be placed in. Now let your heart rest. On Tues- 
day you will be able to see her and talk at your ease. I 
will manage it for you; you need not fear. I will talk to 
the duchess. Now, try to forget it all until Tuesday, and 
on Tuesday you "ivill know the best and worst of it." 

He kissed the little white hands that rested so lov- 
ingly on his shoulders, wondering in his heart whether, 
if his wife came back to him in all her fair young lovli- 
ness, whether she would be dearer to him than this gentle 
girl. 

" Until Tuesday," he said; and she re-echoed the worda. 
Until Tuesday." 

CHAPTEK LIX. 

LADY valentine's SCHEME. 

Tuesday came; the morning dawned bright and beauti* 
ful, and indeed what comfort could be derived from out- 
ward circumstance his Grace of Castlemayne needed it. 
He was in a most terrible state c^f doubt and indecision; 
he was miserable beyond all powe? of word to describe. 

Lady Valentine had promised t-o secure a tete-a-tete. 
She bad persuaded the duchess to be •content with a small 
dinner-party. Lord and Lady Mo.ntavon, Lady Belle 
Chalmers, Sir Arthur Hunt^ Miss Gl»^uton were the guest* 



820 THE DUKE*S SECREt. 

j Qvited. Lady Valentine had already arranged the pro* 
gramme in her own mind. 

The duchess dearly loved a rubber at whist; and Belle 
Was an excellent player. With Lord and Lady Montavop 
ihey could form a quartet for whist, which would keep 
tliem engaged. She could entertain Sir Arthur, who was 
jilways perfectly happy if he could only find some one to 
play the Hccompaniments of his very mild tenor songs. 

"Iwi'iplay for him, Bertrand," said Lady Valentine, 
"Until he has gone through his whole repertoire. I know 
raore than twenty songs he sings. You will easily manage 
the rest; speak openly of the magnificent Turner you 
bouj^ht the other day, tell Miss Glynton about it, then say 
how pleased you will be to show her the picture-gallery; 
in this way it will seem most natural that you should have 
a tete-a-tele with her; and if you are very long or I think 
that matters are very unpleasant, I shall come to the res- 
cue, Bertrand." 

Evening came; the long hours of the long day had 
passed. Lady Valentine went to dress, wondering as she 
did 8o, what would happen before that eventful day closed. 
Perhaps the knowledge that she should stand in rivalry 
before the most beautiful woman of her time prompted 
her to make a more than usually exquisite toUet. She 
wore a dress of pale-blue velvet trimmed with beautiful 
point lace — a dress that from its exquisite grace and per- 
fect fit made her fair young beauty fairer than ever; she 
veore neither flowers nor jewels; but the rich shining 
masses of hair were artistically arranged, and Lady Val- 
entine was satisfied with the result. She had not the 
grand, passionate beauty of Miss Glynton, the finished 
perfect womanhood, the stately grace, but her fair young 
loveliness had a winning charm all its own; even she, 
brave and courageous as she was natm-ally, even she felt a 
little trepidation now that the time was come. She was 
first in the drawing-voom — the duchess was never early. 
She wished to receive Miss Glynton when she came. The 
first arrivals were Lord and La<]y Montavon, then followed 
Sir Arthur. Lady Belle and Mfss Glynton came together. 
In spite of herself Lady Valentine's heart sunk when 
she saw that magnificent 'face and figure, the exquisite 
toilet. If Miss Glvnton had tried the world over she 
could not have found anything so exquisite as the costume 



THE OUEEH SECRET. ^ 

elie had chosen for that evening. It was all white lace, 
trimmed with beautiful heart' s-ease and green leaves. 
She wore a knot of the moat lovely purple heart's-ease in 
her brown hair; the white lace was looped up with sprays 
of heart's-ease, and the beautiful costume enhanced her 
grand loveliness as no other dress could have done. 

Lady Valentine impulsively held out her hand to her 
superb rival. She was her rival, and she was paining 
the very heart of the man Lady Valentine loved best. 
Still she was Bertrand's wife, and the mother of his son. 
The loving heart was warm to her, even though she was 
her rival. 

They looked at each other, these two who were in such 
deadly struggle, yet unconscious of it. 

" Before the night is over," said Lady Valentine, " Ber- 
Irand will know Ms fate and I shall know mine." 

She looked at the small white hand of her rival — the 
hand that was to deal out life or death. Then the duchess 
came in, and the party was complete — all but the duke. 
Lady Valentine wondered why he lingered; he was so late 
and so long that she began to think he was not coming. 
She was greatly relieved when the door opened and he 
entered the room. 

Lady Montavon was nearest to him. When he had 
spoken to her and her husband, had shaken hands with 
Sir Arthur, and exchanged greetings with Lady Belle, he 
crossed the room to where Miss Glynton and Lady Val- 
entine were standing. 

Lady Valentine in her heart felt proud of him; there 
were resolve and determination on the handsome face — 
courage and bravery. She knew from the expression of 
his eyes there was to be no more playing with him. Miss 
Glynton did not offer him her hand, but she spoke with 
the usual polished indifference; but something in the 
dake's face seemed to strike her, and she was less at her 
ease than usuaL 

" We are quite a small party," said the duke. 

" I am glad," she replied. " I am tired of large parties," 
while Lady Valentine stood by in sheer wonder. These 
two talking so pleasantly, so lightly. Could they be hus- 
band and wife, with the barrier of a great tragedy between 
khem? 



diU THE DTTEE^S SS0KE¥. 

" Who will ever understand life or what it holds?** she 
asked herself. 

Dinner was announced, and the duke gave his arm to 
Lady Montavou; Lord Montavon followed, with Miss 
Glynton; so it happened that she sat next to the duke. 
She had plenty of time for observations then. She no- 
ticed that he eat nothing; that plate after plate was taken 
away untouched; that although he talked, laughed, and 
entertained his guests royally, he was really distrait and 
thoughtful. Once or twice she found his eyes fixed on 
her face with a most pecuhar expression. 

It seemed to the duke that the dinner never would end 
in his fierce impatience to seek the beautiful woman and 
force the truth from her. 

Now that he had nerved himself for it he hated him- 
self for not having done it before. Why should he have 
been frightened ? She was his wife, no matter how they 
were parted; and he had a right to make her speak. She 
should keep her secret from him no longer. 

A flame of resolve leaped into his eyes; a flame of 
courage made his heart leap. Her beauty and magnifi- 
cence, her coldness, pride, and indifference should awe 
him no longer. If this dreary episode of eating and 
drinking were but ended ! 

At last, and to his infinite relief, the duchess gave the 
signal, and the ladies withdrew. The duke looked at her 
as she passed him by, with her air of imperial pride and 
grace; the time was coming when that same pride would 
fall before the words he had to utter. 

Time slowly passed, but he was free at last; the gentle- 
man joLa?d the ladies, and then Lady Valentine's pretty 
little scheme was at once put into action. The duchess 
was delighted, so also were the others; it was a pleasure 
they seldom enjoyed. She arranged the card-table in 
the most comfortable fashion, and was rewarded by see- 
ing them deep in the mysteries of the first hand. Then 
she went to Sir Arthur. 

" I have been promising myself the great pleasure of 

playing some of your accompaniments this evening. Sir 

Arthur. I hope you will not disappoint me." 

^ His face flushed with delight. To find a beautiful belle 

like Lady Valentine anxious to play his accompanimentf 



TEE duke's SSCBIT. 

wa4B a noTelty for him, and while she was talking to Sir 
Arthur, she heard the duke speaking to Miss Gljnton. 

He spoke so every one in the room could overhear him. 
He began speaking of his recent acquisition — the beauti- 
ful " Turner," and asked her if she would like to see it. 

She said: "Yes, very much." 

Then he asked, carelessly, if she had seen the picture- 
gallery at Brook House; if not, how pleased he would be 
to shew it to her. She enjoyed looking at good pictures 

It seemed, as Lady Valentine had said it would be, a 
perfectly natural arrangement. Lady Valentine's hands 
trembled on the keys as she saw them quit the drawing- 
room together. 

CHAPTER LX. 

"you ak£ my wife." 
' The scene that evening will never die from his memory, 
will never fade from his brain. Every look of hers 
seemed photographed on it; every word she uttered re- 
mained with him until he died. 

They went up the beautifully hghted staircase together, 
he talking about pictxu-es, and Miss Glyuton replying in 
her calm, graceful manner, until they reached the picture- 
gallery. She seemed to forget altogether that she was 
alone with him. She gave him the impression that she 
was thinking entirely of the pictures, aud not in the least 
of him. 

She paused before the " Turner." 

" It is very beautiful," she said. " How true genius 
makes itself felt. Can you believe that when I stood be- 
fore Millais's ' Chill October ' I felt cold ? I could really 
feel the cold wind that seemed to stir the reeds. I enjoj 
Turner's paintings." 

Yet as he looked at her, he thought to himself, " What 
picture on earth could ever be so beautiful ?" 

She was standing where the Hght fell fidl on the heart's- 
ease in her shining hair, on her beautiful face. The 
clouds of soft white lace swept the crimson carpet, and 
there was a light on the sprays of heart's-ease. Tall, 
graceful, she was the very embodiment of womanlj 
beauty. She was not in the least degree embarrassed or 
confused at finding herself alone wit' biift- Jier w^iolt 
thoughts were given to the paintingi. 



324 THE DTJKE'fe SECRET. 

If it had been Lord Montavon or Sir Arthur with her 
she could not have been more indifferent. She did not 
seem to notice that he was looking intently at her. 

" I like Millais's pictures," she said. " Do you know 
the 'Stella andVanesse?' My favorite is the ' Black Bruns- 
wicker.' I never look at that picture without tears." 

She walked on with the graceful, easy, stately motion 
that seemed peculiar to her, the calmest smile on her face; 
and this time she stood before an exquisite painting of 
Firth's. Her face lighted with admiration. 

" This is very fine," she said. 

He went nearer to her; it was not for this he h&^ 
asked her to come to the picture-gallery — not for this — 
and the hour had come. 

He stood some little distance from her, and whispered 
hgr name softly, so softly that the sound seemed to float 
rOund her, " Naomi," and he waited the effect. 

Slie never moved, the color did not vary in her face, 
the smile did not vary on her lips, her eyes retained their 
kindly light. *?^ 

" Naomi," was the soft sound that whisperer! through 
the gallery. 

It did not reach or did not touch her. 
"^V. Naomi," he whispered again. 

She neither moved or stirred, but after a few minutes 
she turned to him with the same careless smilo. 

" That is a very favorite picture of mine," she said. 
" I did not know that you had the original." 

Then a great flame of color rushed into his face, and a 
great light in his eyes. Was it daring defiance, or what ? 
She did not make the faintest acknowledgment of having 
heard him speak 

He made a rapid step toward her. 

"Naomi," he cried again, and this time his voice was 
full of pain. " Naomi, you can not ignore me in this 
fashion; you shall not. You must hear me, Naomi." 

But the beautiful eyes, upraised to his in calm, proud 
wonder, had no recognition of his words in them. 

" Naomi, you must hear me," he repeated. " Am I a 
stick or a stono ? Am I made of ice or ol warble ? Do you 
think that I have neither brains nor heart, mind nor 
memory ?" 

She looked calmly at him. 



THE DUEB^'S SECBET. 325 

"I think," she said, "that your grace has gone mad; I 
can think uothing else." 

"You will drive me mad," he said. "Naomi, speak to 
me — speak, I entreat of you, one word !" 

" The word that I can speak is to suggest that you will 
allow uie to pass. I am not accustomed to the society of 
mad men." 

She turned, as though to quit the gallery, but he stood 
before her. 

"Pray pardon me," he said; "you must not go until you 
have heard what I have to say." 

" You forget yourself," she cried, her face flushing and 
her eyes shining brightly. " I am more astonished than 
I can express. You talk this — this intolerable nonsense 
to me — and keep me prisoner here. I will cry out for 
some one to come to my rescue, unless you permit me"*to 
pass." 

" No, for your own sake you will not do that. I want 
you to hear me, Naomi." 

" Naomi," she repeated, impatiently; "why do you per- 
sist in calling me Naomi ? " Was there a slight faltering 
of the sweet voice as she uttered the name, or was it his 
fancy ? " Why," she repeated, angiily, " do you persist 
in giving me that name ? " 

" Why do I persist ? Because it is yours, because it is 
the name of the girl whom I loved with the maddest love 
ever given to any creature; whom I loved so well that I 
made her my wife, and — and lost her through my folly." 

" It is all very dramatic, your grace," she replied; " but 
what has that to do with me ? " 

"Everything," he cried, passionately. "You are that 
Naomi — my wife." 

No words could tell the ripple of the scorn that passed 
over her beautiful face — the utter contempt of the light 
laughter that came from her lips. 

" I should like to know whether you are rehearsing for 
effect, or whether you have gone quite mad ? " 

" Neither," he replied. " I repeat that you are the wife 
I lost twelve years ago — twelve long years ago — for whom 
I have sought by sea and land over the whole wide world, 
for whom I have mourned as men seldom mourn." 

He stopped abruptly; the terrible scorn in that beauti« 
ful face dazed him. 



826 THi duke's secret. 

"Let me pass. I have notliing to do with this — youi 
wife, your loss, your search, your sorrow, do not concern 
me; do not touch me." ' 

" You are my wife, Naomi Wynter, and I claim the right 
to speak to you." 

" It grows amusing," she said. " It is useless to be 
angry; I may as well laugh; the farce will end, I pre- 
sume, when ^our grace pleases. I can not and shall not 
struggle to pass. I will wait until your mad fit has 
passed." 

" I am not mad, and you are my wife," he repeated. 

She sat down in one of the crimson velvet lounging- 
chairs, and carelessly opened her fan; he did not know 
that she trembled so violently that she could no longer 
stand. 

" I must wait your grace's time," she said, " but this is 
a lesson to me that I was acting imprudently in leaving 
my friends to go to look at a picture; but I shall never 
do it again — in England." 

" Oh, Naomi, how can you be so cruel ? — you who were 
so loving, so kind 1 Why will you not say that you are 
my lost wife ?" 

" Wife," she repeated, scornfully. " Why do you dare 
to say that I am any man's wife ?" 

She held out her white hands shining with gems. 

" Do I look like a wife ? Do you see any wedding-ring 
there?" she asked, 

"No, not now; perhaps you wear it on your heart, 
Naomi ; there was one there once, for I placed it on your 
finger; do you remember the morning, Naomi? I placed 
it there, and kissed it where it shone. Give me your 
hand now, and let me see if my ring is lost among the 
jewels there." 

She was too much taken by surprise to refuse He 
took the white hand in his, and looked among the pretty 
gems. 

"No," he said; "poor little ring! it is not there. 
Where is it, Naomi — your wedding-ring ?" 

She laughed, but his quick ear noticed this time that 
her laugh was unsteady. He wondered if he were even 
at the beginning of the nctory 

*' You would have made a fine actor," she said; " bat 



THE DUKE^S SECBET. 327 

why you have taken the trouble to go through all this 
for my special benefit, I can not understand." 

"At least," he cried, indignantly, "I should be an 
actor with a human heart. Whereas you, Naomi, are an 
actress utterly without one. You can have no heart, no 
conscience, to tortui'e me so. Do you think that even in 
twelve years I have forgotten you ? Heaven knows what 
I have 8u£fered. What I liave endured no words of mine 
can tell; and now that I stand once more before you, you 
refuse to speak the words which would deliver me from 
the greatest suspense and the greatest pain any man 
could suffer." 

There was that in his voice which compelled her to 
listen. She did ; it was only to open her beautiful eyes a 
little wider and speak again : 

" For whom does your grace really take me ?" 

" I take you to be the person you are," he replied, "my 
beloved, long lost wife, Naomi Wynter. " 

CHAPTER LXI. 

"NAOMI, WHERE IS MY SON?" 

His words made no impression on her. What was he to 
do with this beautiful, obdurate woman ? Would it be war 
to the knife between them ? Would she drive him to the 
last extremities ? What could he do with her ? Call the 
law to assist him ? Ah, no; there would be no chivalry in 
thai Suddenly he remembered that he had not tried his 
most powerful plea. If this woman of marble and ice 
were to be melted, he would melt her now. 

She was leaning back in the velvet chair, her face raised, 
her whole attitude expressive of languor and indifference. 
She held the jeweled fan, every now and then using it as 
though she were tired. She was showing no constraint, no 
uneasiness, no confusion. Just this minute her eyes wan- 
dered listlessly from paintiag to painting, as though she 
she had forgotten him and all that he was saying. He 
went nearer to her; he knelt down by her side, and, 
taking the fan from her hands, he clasped them both in 
his, and looked entreatingly in her face. 

" Naomi," he said, "where is my son ?** 

He uttered the words in a clear, low voioe, and the^ 
seemed to cut the air as they felL 

" Where is my sob ? " 



328 THi duke's SECEIT. 

i 

He had startled lier at last; her very lips grew white J 
the color faded from bet face; the ligiit died from her 
eyes; a shudder that she could not control came over 
her. 

** What have you done with my son, Naomi ? Where 
is he ? Are you so cold, so cruel to me that you will 
never let me see my child ? You have seen him, caressed 
him, taught him to love you; but I — oh, my Uod ! my 
heart Hes bare and desolate — I have never seen him. 
Where is he, Naomi ? What have you done with him ? 
Did you ever teach him to utter my name ? Did you 
tell him although that for a few minutes I had been a 
contemptible coward, yet that I loved you and should 
love him ? Do you speak to him, Naomi, of the father 
from whom you so cruelly kept him ? I want to see my 
boy. I — I have heard how beautiful he is. . I know 
from those who have seen him, and I long for him. Let 
him come to me, Naomi; if you are cold and cruel, the 
child will love me; he will put his arms round my neck 
and kiss my face. Oh, Naomi, where is my boy ? " 

She rose from her seat. She drew her hands from 
his clasp. He saw that she shuddered and trembled. 
She drew back from him, holding out her hands as though 
she would ward off a blow. 

"Hush," she cried; "for Heaven's sake, hush!" and 
he knew that she had made the confession of her iden- 
tity in those few words. He saw his advantage, and 
pursued it. 

" If I may never have my wife, at least give me my 
child. Do you know who he is, Naomi ? And yet you 
dare to keep him hidden. He owns one of the most 
ancient and honored names in England. He is Lord St. 
Albans — he is my heir. My dukedom must be his some 
day. His life is most precious and invaluable to me 
Give him to me, Naomi; he is mine — my very own — ^just 
as much as he is yours. Oh, Heaven I how cruel you have 
been to keep him from me all these years!" 

The warmer his words grew, the more she shrunk from 
him. She seemed to have lost all notion of escaping him 
now. She retreated, waving him from her, with loving, 
moaning cries, until at last she reached the great gilt 
railing that surrounded the magnificent copy of Hiram 
Power's " Greek Slave," and there she stood — a beautiful 



THE duke's SEORjiiT. 329 

womau at bay. Her white, wild face, her oatstretched 
hand, and the low moan that came from her lips filled hin\ 
with dismay. 

" Naomi," he cried, "I dou't wish to pain you — ^to hurt 
you. I would not for the world; but tell me, where is my 
boy ?" 

No answer came from the white lips of the beautiful, 
desperate woman. She trembled so violently that he felt 
quite sure she would fall. 

"Naomi," he cried, "be reasonable; speak to me. 
What have I said that has agitated you so deeply ? What 
have I done? What is the matter? Speak only ouq 
word; say that you are my wife, and all will be well." 

But her beautiful head had dropped on her breast, her 
white eyelids closed over her blue eyes, and he saw that 
she was unconscious of hifa words. It was only natur^ 
that he should raise the fail*, drooping head and pillow it 
on his breast, that he should kiss the colorless face; and 
as he did so, the old mad, passionate love that he had 
once felt for her swelled up in his heart again, and everj 
other fancy died. 

How many years had passed since he had held her in 
his arms. How many times he had kissed that lovely 
face. And what would she say when she opened her eyes, 
and found where she was? What had pained her so 
greatly ? Why had she, so cold, so proud, so indifferent, 
fainted, when he asked for his child ? What did it mean ? 

It was but natural that, holding her once more in his 
arms, he swore that nothing should ever part them again. 
Then he heard a deep sigh, and he saw her white eyelids 
open; but the was powerless to help herself; he had 
clasped her in his arms, and held her as though not even 
death should take her from him. 

It was useless to struggle, to appeal, the passionate love 
of his heart had found a voice, and she must hear it. 

" My darling," he cried, " nay, you can not escape. 
You know you are my own — why should you try to deny 
it ? If I were not quite certain that you were my own 
wife, should I kiss you like this — or this? Nay, you 
need not try to raise that beautiful face; it has been here 
before. Oh, Naomi, how the sweet memories of those 
happy days come over me ! What a coward I was ! Can 
^ou ever forgive me ? If I could give my life to undo it^ 



330 THE duke's secret. 

I would. I would have died to have undone it, directly 
it was done." 

She made no answer, but tried to free herself from his 
embrace." 

" It is of no use, Naomi," he said; "I see how it is. I 
might have prayed and pleaded for hours, and you would 
have been deaf, cold, and dumb. I must master you first, 
and that by force of my own love. Naomi, I will release 
you at once, if you will tell me where is my son." 

Again the shudder of more than mortal fear came over 
her. 

" It will be useless, Naomi, after this, for you to deny 
that you are my wife. Even had I no other evidence, I 
should feel sure of it, from the way in which you shrink 
fromtbe mention of my child; if you are not the mother 
of my son, why should you shrink and shudder when his 
name is mentioned ? You can not go back to your posi- 
tion of proud indifference, and feign ignorance. The 
time has come when you must speak. Naomi, whisper 
to me one word; say 'Yes' to my often asked question. 
Are you my wife ?" 

Then, with a desperate effort, she freed herself from 
his circling arms, and tried to stand erect, but could not 
control the trembling of her limbs. Once more she 
clasped the gilded raiUng and looked at him, quite unable 
to speak. 

" You see for yourself, my dear," he cried, " that 
Heaven itself interferes ; you are ill, you can not stand. 
Oh, Naomi, there are two voices pleading in your heart, 
the voice of the wife who loved me, and the voice of the 
mother who Holds my child in keeping for me." 

Down went the fair, queenly head again, and once 
more he wondered what there was in the mention of his 
child that should cause this strong emotion. He laid his 
hand lovingly on her golden-brown hair. 

" My darling Naomi, did you think I should let you 
die out of my life, and make no effort whatever to save 
you ? Did you for one moment think — although I dis- 
honored myself by that one act of cowardice, did you 
believe that I cared so little for you ? God knows I have 
poured out money like water; I would have given the 
last farthings in my purse; I would have part«d with mj 



THE duke's SECBET. ^1 

last jewel, with the last acre of my estate, to nave found 
you. I>o you believe me, or do you not?" 

No answer; he did not heed her silence, but went on: 

" I gave time also. I went — ah! who shall ever tell 
you the story of my wanderings ? "Wherever it seemed 
most probable to me that I might find traces of you, I 
went. I employed the most skillful men in England to 
find you. I can honestly say that I did not leave one 
thing undone, and it was through the skill of one of these 
saen that I have found you at last." 

She raised her head with a haughty gesture, as though 
she would deny that she had been found; but he bent 
down and lovingly kissed the shining hair. 

"I can swear to you, Naomi, that I have done all a 
man could do to atone for the wrong. I have sought for 
you far and near, longed for you, prayed for you, wept 
for you. Heaven knows how I have longed for you, but 
no words can tell. And my darliug," he continued, in a 
low, passionate voice, "I have suffered also, because I 
love you. You can form no idea of what life has been 
since I lost you. The knowledge that somewhere in this 
■wide world I had a wife and child has been to me simple 
torture. Do you think that my heart never longed for 
you ? Do you think that in my dreams by night and by day 
you were not the one object? I have been the most 
miserable of men. I have spent the most wretched 
years. Have you no pity for them ? " 

Still she made no answer. He went on: 

" You could never dream, Naomi, what my poor, proud 
mother has had to suffer. She has been so anxious to 
see me married. She dishkes the Everleighs so much, 
and Lady Everleigh has been so insolent, so cruelly in- 
solent to her, so triumphant over her ! She has boasted 
so much that her son would succeed me, that he would 
take my place. She has said openly that I should never 
marry, and has hinted at the reason why. Think what 
my poor, proud mother has endured ! For many years, 
with great bitterness, she has been praying me to choose 
a wife from the number of women to whom she intro- 
duced me. The fact that I did not marry has darkened 
and spoiled her Ufe; but, Naomi, you know that I could 
not give one thought to any other wsorijige wkile you 
W«r©'iv'n§." 



832 THE duke's seceet. 

He knew she was listening to his words; he could hear 
the deep-drawn, bitter sighs; he saw that she made no 
more impatient movements to escape. 

"I did you a cruel wrong years ago, Naomi — most 
cruel. But you have been as cruel to me. I never in- 
tended, when you left Eood Castle, to be one day away 
from you, my dear. You have left me in suspense, pain, 
anguish of mind, bitter, unavailing sorrow and regret for 
twelve years. Twelve years ! " he repeated. " Now, 
Naomi, in the name of justice, I ask you, which of us has 
sinned most greatly against the other ? "Which has been 
most cruel ? Answer me that." 

CHAPTER LXIL 

AN INDIGNANT WOMAN. 

The Duke of Castlemayne repeated his question — 

" Which of us two has been most cruel toward the 
other ? " 

Then she raised her colorless face. 

He saw that she would not again deny that she was not 
his wife. She looked at him more calmly. 

" You," she replied; " you who left me in the hour of my 
distress and shame. You, from whom a word would have 
saved me, and you refused to speak that word. I am 
Naomi Wynter — the simple, foolish, unhappy girl who 
placed her trust in you, and was rewarded with the basest 
desertion. I am Naomi, but your wife — never again?" 

The words fell clear and calm, cutting the silence that 
reigned around them. 

"We will not discuss that now," he said; "perhaps 
when you know more about my sorrow, and what I have 
Buffered you will be more merciful — more pitiful. Just 
let us speak of yourself. Oh, Naomi, what a meeting for 
us!" 

"How could you do it?" she said; and the piteous 
reproach in her face and voice touched his heart more 
than any words could have done. " How could you ? I 
was so young, so friendless; I loved you so much, I was 
your wife. How could you do it?" 

" I do not know. Listen to me, Naomi: I have no ex- 
cuse — I can offer none ; none that would avail me in the 
least. There could never be any excuse for such a thing 
in any man, The only explanation is that for the timt^ 



TBS jitke'b secbet. d3S 

being I was paralyzed. You know that my mother was 
very proud, very haughty; she had gieat influence over 
my father aud myself. No man hving ever could or has 
given me the sUghtest sensation of fear, but I honestly 
believe that I was afraid of my mother." 

" Aud you sacrificed me to her ?" she said. 

"To my eternal sorrow and remorse! Yet, judge me 
fedrly, Naomi : love for you was as strong in my heart as 
fear of my mother. I was afraid if she knew of our mar- 
riage, she would at once have it set aside and parted us. 
I did not know how, but she had always seemed to me so 
powerful. Then I thought that if you went away I would 
follow you in a few hours and take you to River View 
where we might have lived in peace and happiness for 
years. I sent a message to you ; but that horrible woman, 
my mother's maid Sidonie, would not allow it to be de- 
livered. I wrote a note to you. She would not give it to 
you. Then I sent Leduc with orders not to leave you 
until he could telegraph me to come to wherever you 
were. All the misery and sorrow of these long years 
have been caused by the mistake he made in leaving you 
before I came. He saw it when it was too late; but from 
that moment until this I have never relaxed in my efforts 
to find you." 

" Strange," she said, bitterly, " that you should take so 
much trouble to find what seemed so little worth keeping 
— most strange !" 

"Naomi," he said, humbly, "I make no excuse; if I 
had been face to face with a foe, I should not have run 
away; if the feet of my foe were pressed on my throat, I 
woidd not cry for mercy. I will challenge any man for 
courage; but mine failed me before my mother's wrath. 
I was young when I made that fatal mistake — I should 
not make it now. There is no humiliation so deep that I 
would not make to obtain your pardon for it My darling, 
X sinned; but Heaven knows that 1 have suffered. You 
were so gentle once, Naomi, so kind, so lovely, that you 
would not have refused pardon even to your most bitter 
foe." 

" A foe would have proved a truer friend than my hus- 
band," she replied. " Have you ever thought how 
atrocious, how horrible your conduct was ? I was vour 
lawful wife — a joung wife with no one but you to love, 



334 WE duke's sechet. 

and in your very presence you allowed your mother to 
brand me as a lost woman. You stood by when she 
accused me of having sought you, of having forgotten the 
modesty and delicacy of my sex and age, of having thrust 
myself on your notice, xou stood by mute and dumb, 
refusing to speak the word that would have saved me. 
And after that you dare to kiss me, to call me wife, to 
expect that I shall forgive you ? Never I I appealed to 
you," she continued, in a voice of passionate emotion. 
"And what was your answer? You looked at me and 
made no reply. I might with more hope have appealed 
to a marble statue. You left me, shamed, branded, dis- 
graced, when one word from you would have saved me. 
Then you ask who has been the most cruel, you or I ? 
What manner of man can you be to Etsk such a question?" 

" I must have been mad," he said, humbly ; " yet 
Heaven knows that it was the only cowardly act of my 
life, the only one." 

" I am glad to hear it, for it was bad enough to mar 
the life of a better and nobler man than you. I have 
read much and I have seen much of the world; but I 
never heard of a parallel incident; for a man to sacri- 
fice his wife's honor and good name to the fear of his 
mother. Then you ask me which was most cruel ? I 
laugh such a question to scorn. I did what you made 
me do. Your silence shamed and branded me ; your 
silence drove me, with a red brand on my brow, from 
your mother's roof into the wide world ; your silence 
took from me the name of wife, and gave me another 
that your mother was not slow to upbraid me with; your 
silence bhghted my life, and — and broke my heart." 

She fell on her knees, leaning her head against the 
gilded raiUngs, and weeping as woman never wept be- 
fore; the tears fell like rain down her beautiful colorless 
face — drawn, bitter sobs. Here was a sorrow before 
which he was powerless; every word she had uttered 
was true, and they had lashed him like the sharp thongs 
of a whip. He was humbled before her; he could not 
bear the sound of her weeping; it seemed to tear his 
▼ery heart, and he laid his hand on the golden head, 
•very hair of which was so dear to him. 

" Naomi, do not; you distress me so greatly." 



THE duke's secret. 835 

She flung off the caressing hand, her face flushed, her 
eyes flamed righteous anger on him. 

" Do not touch me," she cried. " I will not bear the 
touch of your hand; it is horrible to me." 

She rose from her knees and stood before him with the 
greatest disdain, the most bitter scorn in her face. 

" Do you think," she said, " that a few kisses, a few 
simpering words, can undo the wrong you haye done 
me ?" 

Her bitter contempt seemed to rouse him at last; he 
grew very pale, and the lines round his mouth deepened 
as he withdrew further from her. 

" You know how to wound, Naomi; your darts shoot 
home. I begin to see there is no hope for me; I was 
foolish enough to think there was." 

She turned to him wrathfully. 

" Did you fancy that I was so weai, so infirm of pur- 
pose, so dead to my great injury, so little gifted with self- 
respect, that when you met me, you had nothing to do 
but offer me a fine apology, humble yourself graciously, 
aud all would be as it was ? — were you so mad as to think 
that?" 

" I am afraid I was," he replied, humbly, " but you 
have taught me my mistake." 

" A worm turns when it is trodden upon," she cried. 
" Had I been really what your silence made the duchess 
believe me, then you would have in all probabiHty de- 
fended me, stood by me. It was because I was your law- 
ful wife that you had no word to say for me." 

"Naomi, do not reproach me any more; I can not bear 
it My own heart and conscience have said enough all 
along; I cannot bear it." 

" I have no wish to do so," she said. "Let me go; I 
will leave London to morrow." 

" But, Naomi," he cried, passionately, " surely you will 
not leave me again; you can not, it would be too crueL 
Where is my son. Let me love him. Your heart is 
harder than the nether millstone toward me; surely his 
will not be so ? Surely you will not leave me with my 
heart bare and desolate as when I found you ? " 

* I have nothing to do with it," she replied; "your 
silence made me an outcast from your heart your home, 
Jrour name; I will remain where your silence placed me." 



336 IHB duke's secret. 

His colorless face fell, and he clinched his stroi.j lutndg 
like a man in agony. 

" Answer me at least a few questions before you leave 
me, Naomi, in pity and in kindness. Do you never 
intend to return to me ?" 

"Never," she replied. " I would sooner die." 

*• Have you never intended to do so." 

" Never from the moment I left," she replied. " Noth- 
ing would ever make me consent to it." 

" I offer you," he said, " that which has always been 
youra; the whole and sole love of my heart. I offer you 
my whole life and fortune; everything that I possess in 
this world I lay at your wilL Will you stay with me, 
Naomi ?" 

" No," she replied, '* I will not. So far as worldly ad- 
vantages go, I have had better offers of marriage than 
even yours. I have had none from any man whom I 
despise more." 

•'Say no more unkind things to me, Naomi — I have 
heard enough to kiU me. Will you tell me whether you 
came to London with any desire to see me again ?" 

" No, I did not," she replied; " I came to London 
because it was my uncle's wish, and if I had raised too 
man V objections he would have been suspicious, naturally." 

" Then you never thought I should recognize you," he 
said. 

•' No; I felt quite sure you would not," she replied. " I 
am mucU taller than I was when you left me cowering 
before that stately lady, your mother — taller, stronger, 
and chanj^ed altogether. I never thought that you would 
know me. I would never have returned to England had 
I thouglit there was any chance of such a thing; I would 
have remained in America." 

*'Then you did not care to see me again, Naomi?" 

" No. I am quite sure I did not," she replied. 

" Do you know, Naomi," he said, sadly, " when I heard 
the truth about you, I was foolish enough to think that 
it was love for me that had brought you here." 

"You were mistaken," she said. " Since the morning 
I left Rood Castle I have never had the least intention of 
returning to you. I will remain where your silence 
placed me.** 



THE duke's seceet. 887 

*• In Heaven's name, what will become ©f me ?*' cried 
ate duke. 

" You must get a separation and marry Lady Valen- 
tine Arden," she said. 

" There may be two opinions on that matter," said a 
quiet, low voice, and looking up they saw Lady Valentino 
Arden standing before them. 

CHAPTER LXm. 

THE LOVE-TEST. 

" I HAVB spoken once," said Lady Valentine, " and you 
were too much engrossed to hear me. Miss Glynton, you 
made an observation which was, to say the least of it, 
uncalled for. Lady Valentine Arden is not to be given in 
marriage as it may please any stranger to propose." 

It was a most dramatic scene. The fine, stately figure 
and handsome face of the duke; the magnificent face and 
figure of Miss Glynton — the rich tint of the violet heart's- 
ease, the costly trailing laces, the story told in her atti- 
tude, the story told in her face — the love, pain, jeal- 
ousy and defiance ; tho fair girlish figure of Lady Valen- 
tine, her sweet face flushed with emotion, her lips quiv- 
ering with indignation at what she considered an imper- 
tinence. 

There was no mistake about it. Lady Valentine loved 
the duke with her whole heart. 

She was frank, simple, candid, impulsive. Her thoughts 
generally went direct from her heart to her lips. When 
her eyes fell on the duke's face, she knew at once that 
there was something vitally wrong. She had seen noth- 
ing like it before; he looked as though his heart had 
been wrung. She did not stop to think of what was 
right, prudent, or imprudent. She only knew what her 
own heart dictated. She went up to him, and laid her 
hand caressingly on his shoulder. 

"What has she done to you, San Sebastian?" she asked. 
" You look as though your heart was broken." 

"It is broken," he said. 

"That is the one you love, that is the one you should 
marry," cried Naomi. " See how naturally she goes to 
console you — how her instincts show her that you are 
wounded ! There can be no mistake about the lady's fed" 
ings, my lord duke, whatever may be yours." 



838 THE duke's secket. 

But Lady Valentine was not to be daunted; she was not 
in the least degree ashamed of h«r affection for the duke. 
She looked at the beautiful, flushed face, and nodded hex 
head gravely. 

"It would be as well for you, Miss Glynton, as you call 
yourself, to confine your attention to your own feelings; I 
am quite equal to the manageruent of mine. What have 
you been doing to make him look so wretched ? I would 
not hurt him — I am a truer fiiend to him than you are." 

" Very Ukely, Lady Valentine. I do not aspire to the 
honor of his grace's friendship; I have known its cost too 
much. I am quite wilhng to renounce it in your favor." 

" How can you speak in that way, Miss Glynton ? Nay, 
I will speak, duke — why should I not ? I will not use 
that false name again. How can you speak so coldly, so 
cruelly, Duchess of Castlemayne ?" 

"So," said Naomi, with white lips, "you know this 
story?" 

" Yes," said Lady Valentine, who seemed to have reck- 
lessly thrown aside everything in her ardent champion- 
ship of the duke; "yes, I know it, but you shall hear the 
reason why it was told to me, not as idle gossip, not as 
an excuse that the duke leads a life unlike other men, 
away from the smiles and love of women." 

" Hush, Valentine — say no more," cried the dvike, " it 
is quite useless." 

" Speak on, Lady Valentine, if you will," cried Naomi. 
" I should like to know why the inmost secrets of the 
duke's heart have been told to you." 

" Not because he loved me," said the girl, undauntedly. 

She drew nearer to him and clasped her white hands 
round his arm with an air of defiance, as though she 
would say, " See, if one woman does not love him another 
does love him. " 

" Not because he loved me," she said. "I wish he did. 
But because — like the noble and chivalrous gentleman 
that he is — he saw that I, a y oung, very foolish, very ig- 
norant girl, was giving the love of my heart unawares. 
To warn me — to put me on my guard; to show me that 
he was not free te marry, that is why he told me his story; 
Duchess of Castlemayne." 

" I should never bear that title," said Naomi, quietly. 



TBB dukk's seobet. 339 

**It is yours now," said Lady ValentiBe, enrtly. " You 

can not help but bear it." 

Tlien the two riyals looked at each other as though they 
would fain measure each the strength of the other. 

" Valentine," said the duke, " I am the sinner; it ia I 
who have cruelly injured her." 

" There are two sides to every question," said Lady Val- 
entine, with a profound nod of her pretty head. " I shall 
never pretend to excuse what he did, because it was inex- 
cusable. Still, if you really love him, you would soon for- 
give him. True love is never unforgiving; but if I spoke 
my thoughts, Duchess of Castlemayne, I believe that you 
are quite as cruel — for you to stay from him for twelve 
years, to keep him from the love and knowledge of his 
little child — quite as cruel in you as it was in him not to 
speak the word which would have cleared you, and drawn 
down his mother's anger on him. I do not believe, 
Duchess of Castlemayne, that you know what true, unsel- 
fish love is; and — " 

Naomi opened her eyes wider still, as she heard the 
plainly spoken words of her rival 

" I must say. Lady Valentine, that you are a remarkably 
frank-spoken young lady." 

"Nothing but frank speaking will avail in your grace's 
case," and she noticed how Naomi shrunk again from the 
title. " I should not have done as you have done, even 
with the same provocation," she continued; "I should 
have made allowance for the fear, which for a few mo- 
ments paralyzed what was a true and noble love. I should 
have trusted him more, and have known by instinct that 
he would soon make it all right" Her face flushed, and 
her eyes brightened as she went on. " You have really 
avenged yourself — you have made him suffer for twelve 
long years, and you have spoiled his life." 

The wonder that came on the proud, beautiful face was 
strange to see, but these sharp words did Naomi more 
good than anything else could have done, 

" Where is his son ?" she continued. " Even if your 
strained notions of right and wrong, honor and dishonor, 
bade you keep him away from him, why did you not send 
his son to comfort him--do you not think that, perhaps, 
you have been just a little selfish in keeping the beauty, 
(he grace^ the love of the child, all to yourself ?" 



Z40' "IHE DBXE-g ȣOBET. 

She stopped abruptly, for the yihite pain that came OTb- 
that beautiful face made her pause; there was something 
in the story of the child that was as bitter as death to her. 

" I could not help hearing what you said as I entered 
the gallery — it was that you would never return to the 
duke, never be his wife again; but that he must get a legal 
separation from you, and then marry me. I think those 
are the words you used." 

" Yes, those are the words," replied NaomL 

" I am not at all ashamed to say that I wish it could be 
so," said Lady Valentine, with another nod of her fair, 
charming head. "My love is better, greater, more noble, 
and more self-sacrificing than yours could ever have 
been." 

** Ah, no, do not say that I" cried Naomi, faintly, " do not 
say til at." 

"I know this one fact; that mine would stand any test, 
and yours has not even stood the test of one unkind acfe.on. 
and twelve years absence. It must Lave been a half love 
to begin with." 

Then Naomi seemed, as it were, to gather herself to- 
gether. She looked around and for the first time realized 
where she was; she arranged the di'ooping heart's-ease in 
her dress, and then looked at the two opposite her — he 
tall, stately, and handsome; she so young, fair, and lovely. 
She looked at the w'nito hands clasped over his arm, at the 
rapt devotion of the girlish face, and her heart smote her. 
This love was deeper than hers. 

"I have heard enough for the present," she said, 
calmly. ** I must go — Lady Belle did not wish to remain 
late; but before I go I must express my great displeasure. 
I do not think your grace should have told the secret that 
is as much mine as yours; and I do not think it right for 
Lady Valentine to interfere between man and wife." 

"I should always take tlie duke's side against every 
one, quite blindly," she replied. " I always think it takes 
a woman to match a woman — a man never can." 

" I want no one to take the duke's part against me," 
she said. " I am quite sure now that the best thing will 
be for the duke to find some clever lawyer, who would 
discover some illegality in his marriage, or some reason 
why it should be dissolved, and then make you happj, 
liady Valentine." 



THE duke's SEGBET. S^ 

"1 am sure he would do that," murmured the girL 
** You throw away a treasure and ask me to pick it up, 
DucheBS of Castlemajne; are vou as willing to give me 
_f our son as you are to give your husband ? " 

She heard a low cry, that was like a moan, come from 
rival's lips; and then Naomi said: 

" I can bear no more, I must go." 

" Naomi," cried the duke, " when may I see you again ? 
I — I must have news of my child — I must see him. I 
see that you look tired and ill to-night; only tell me a 
time, and I will be content." 

" I will write to you," she said, "a few lines to-morrow. 
Po not keep me — let me get out into the air, or I shall 
fall down dead." 

Then Lady Valentine unclasped the white hands that 
had held the duke's arm, ana vent up to her rival 

" You look ill," she said. " Come with me — I will take 
you to your carriage, and take your excuses to the 
duchess. I will tell her that you are not well." 

She smiled to herself as she saw the duke kiss his wife's 
hand. 

CHAPTER LXIV. 

"you OUGHT TO BE A DUCHESS." 

Never did any human face present a greater picture 
of perplexity than that of Naomi the next morning as 
she sat in the silence of her superb boudoir. Whether 
it was pain, sorrow, trouble, or anxiety, who was lo teU ? 
The fair brow was knitted, the graceful curves of the 
beautiful mouth were drawn, the fine, clear eyes were 
shadowed with thought. There was a look of care and 
pain on the grand face that ill suited its regal beauty. 

"I wish," she said, to herself, "that an angel could 
come from Heaven and tell me what to do. I Lave lost 
the guide of ray own reason and conscience — I do not 
believe that I know right from wrong." 

She looked up as "Mx. Glynton entered the room; even 
in the midst of her own preoccupation, it occurred to her 
that be looked somewhat embarrassed and agitated. He 
Went up to her and kissed her forehead. 

'' I am glad to find you here. Pet," he said ; I want to 
talk to you. You look very preoccuped- Are you busy, 
ms dear, this morning ? " 



342 THE duke's secret. 

" No," she replied, " not at all. I have no engagemttnt^ 
my time is quite at yoiir disposal." 

Still he seemed rather to avoid than to hurry the con- 
versation. 

"It is a lovely morning," he said, " are you going 
out?" 

" No," she replied, " I shall remain in-doors." 

Then, Mr. Glynton abruptly started from his seat and 
began to walk up and down the room, casting every now 
and then looks so expressive of concern at her, that she 
began in her tarn to feel anxious. 

"Pet," he said, suddenly, "I wonder you give no 
thought to marrying." 

" We have settled all that," she said. " I have told you 
that I never shall. There will be no marriage or love for 
me. I shall live with you always, and be as happy as I 
can." 

Still he did not seem satisfied. 

" I had hoped that your ideas would change," he said. 
"I have something to tell you, and I hardly know 
how." 

She looked up at him with a bright smile. 

" Suppose," she said, " that I can guess what it is, and 
in so guessing save you a world of trouble." 

" Ah, my darling, you are very bright and clever, but I 
do not think that you can guess this," he said. 

" I think I can, and I think that every one else in 
London can guess it. You want to tell me that you have 
asked Lady Belle Chalmers to be your wife, and you do 
not know how to set about it — is not that true ? " 

His honest, earnest face, was filled with emotion. 

" What an extraordinary thing," he cried. " That is 
just what I want to tell you. I felt nervous. You see, 
pet, there are many ways of looking at everything. M3 
marriage, my dear, may make some little difference to 
you. Had you succeeded to aay whole fortune, you would 
have been the richest woman in England. I do not know 
that it would make you any happier." 

" I am sure it should not," she said. 

" I have thought a good deal about it," he continued. 
" For some time I kept aloof from the charms and fascina- 
tion of Lady Belle, for your sake, that you should not be 
4iBap|>oiQte€l in the (nagnificent inhentwce th^t it seemed 



THE duke's secret. S43 

to me I nad promised you; but — and I feel as shy as a 
school-boy in telling you about it — the fact is, I can not re- 
sist her, I can not help myself; she is so bright, so charm- 
ing, so clever, and yet so completely at her ease with me, 
I can not bear to be away from her, I did not know, as 
truly as Heaven hears me speak, that life could be so beau- 
tiful. I have enjoyed being a rich man more than I can 
tell you, and I have thought that wealth was the best and 
brightest thing a man could have, but I was mistaken — the 
love of this woman has turned earth into Heaven for me." 

" I am so glad, so glad," she murmured, and a mist oi 
tears rose to her eyes. 

" I think every one ought to love once before he dies," 
he continued, thoughtfully; "if I had died last year, I 
should have missed, in my life, the greatest happiness man 
ever knew. Now, pet, I have been thinking of you, and 
wondering why a woman so young, so beautiful, so charm- 
ing, should have set herself so resolutely against love." 

She looked at him, half sadly, yet with a smile curving 
her dainty lips. 

** What makes you incline to marriage, uncle ?" she 
asked. 

" Because I love happily," he repHed. 

" Can you imagine what my answer might be by your 
own ?" she said, gently. 

" You love unhappily !" he cried, with sudden vehem- 
ence, that startled her. She had not expected him to 
find her quite so quick. 

" I have done so," she replied, " and now there wUl be 
neither love nor marriage for me. Do not ask me any 
questions. I could not answer them; it was years ago. 
If you love me, never renew the subject. Now tell me 
about Lady Belle ?" 

" She has promised to be my wife, pet; she loves me — 
positively — great lady as she is, she loves me. I have 
not kept one thing from her — I have told her everything 
altout myself. She knows all about my family. I told 
her that you were my niece, and not my daughter. She 
seemed very much astonished, but I explained to her 
that you had been so long my adopted daughter that ¥i 
seemed most natural. I requested her not to speak of it, 
and we may trust her. Now what I have to look at is 
this — having for maiiy years looked on you as my heiress, 



3^ THE duke's 8ECIIET. 

I must, before 1 marry myself, make a liberal, just, hon- 
orable provision for you. I thought of settling a certain 
sum on you, and then making my ■will. I should settle a 
certain sum, too, on Lady Belle, bo be hers uncondition- 
ally, to leave as she likes at her death. If we have no 
children, the great bulk of my fortune "will revert to you; 
if we have children, it wiU be theirs. I thought, pet, of 
giving you — " and then, as though afraid of trusting the 
very air round him with such a secret, he bent down and 
whispered to her. 

She started, and grew pale. 

" My dear uncle, you are too generoug I" she said. 
" What an enormous sum of money 1" 

He smiled proudly. 

" You will be a millionaire's heiress after all," he said. 
**Iam telling you this so that you may understand 
exactly what your fortune is. Your home will always 
be with us. Lady Belle loves you very dearly, and I 
venture to think you will be very happy with her. 

*' I am sui'e of that," said Naomi. 

Yet it occurred to her that there would be a great differ- 
ence between being sole mistress of this magnificent 
mansion and being merely beloved by its mistress. 

" You will then, in all probability, reside altogether in 
England, and very often in London ?" she said. 

" Yes. Lady Belle will not care much for travehng. 
There is a fine estate in Surrey to be sold; it is called 
'Beech Hall* now; but I hope to buy it, and rename it 
* Glynton Park.' That will, I hope, be our home, pet — 
yours and ours." 

Then he kissed her again, and gave a great sigh of 
reUef. 

" I am so glad that it is over, Naomi," he said. " You 
do not know how I dreaded telling you this — the prospect 
was more than that of making an offer of marriage; now 
I am the happiest man in England, and my dead sister's 
child shall gain, not lose, by my happiness Now I must 
go and tell Lady Belle how comfortably we have arranged 
everything. We shall be married in a few weeks, pet." 

" So much the better," she said. "I do not see why 
you should wait." 

"Lady Belle Glynton," he said musingly. "It will be 
a good name, pet— one we little thought ever would be in 



THE duke's secbet. 345 

our family; but you — you ought to be a duchess, at least,* 
ie added, bluntly. 

She blushed scarlet. What a curious thing he should 
5ay that. 

" I am COD tent to be "Naomi Glyntoi^^she said, and then, 
with a few more jdndly and affectionate words, Mr. Glyn- 
ton went away. 

He left her with an additional care in her heart, and a 
deeper line on the fair, regal brow. 

" My perplexities increase," she said to herself. 

There was another discreet little rap at the door, and 
a footman entered with a card. He held it out to her. 

" The lady desired me to say that her business was im- 
perative, and she would be glad if you would see her." 

Naomi took up the card and looked at it. 

" I will see her here," she replied, for the name on the 
card was that of Lady Valentine Arden. 

CHAPTER LXV. 

THE STORY OF AN ARTLESS GIRL. 

Naomi's thoughts wandered to that scene in the picture- 
gallery, to the handsome, melancholy face of the duke, 
and the sweet face of Lady Valentine. 

" How she loves him ? " thought Naomi, " how she 
loves him ! She placed herself before him as though she 
would defend him from everything in this world. It 
would be better a thousand times if he procured a separa- 
tion from me and married her." 

Then she sighed bitterly, as she said to herself: 

" Was this the end of a life-long love ? I wish I knew 
my own heart better. No giii could have loved more 
fondly, more deeply, than I did. I would have given my 
life for him with a smile in those days. No girl was ever 
so cruelly wounded, so scorned, so outraged ? He calls it 
the cowardice of a moment; he says that he did not speak 
lest he should be parted from me; but how can I forget? 
The picture is burned in my brain; the proud, scornful 
woman who branded me with her shameful words, the 
handsome young lordling who stood by, ' waiting ' to take 
the brand from my brow, until it should be safe to do so. 

" And that proud woman who scorned me, who slau" 
dered and shamed me — she would go on her knees to me 
now to beg of me to be her son's wife. I am the samf 



846 THE duke's SEOBEl?. 

Naomi she drove away in shame too great for words; 
then I was unknown, obscure, penniless Naomi Wynter; 
now I am Miss Glynton, one of the richest heiresses in 
England. 

" Now her enemies encompass her, they triumph over her; 
they boast to her that no son of her son shall ever take 
the place of his father's place; they boast that the son of 
her enemy shall rule in her son's stead; and I hold her in 
jny power. I prayed Heaven, with mad, wild prayers, to 
give that woman into my hands, and Heaven has done so. 
Let me take my triumph over her. One word from me, 
and he goes lonely to his grave, uncheered either by love 
of wife or child, and she will see every hope of her 
life in ruins around her. Another word from me, and 
wealth that is almost fabulous, with a wife for whom 
princes and peers have striven, is his I Which word shall 
I speak ? What shall I do ? She shall drink the cup she 
gave me to drink, even to its dregs. She shaU suflfer every 
pain she made me suffer; and then — then I will think 
what word I shall speak — what I shall do." 

She rose from her seat, and began to pace wearily up 
and down the magnificent room. Let her eyes rest wherfc 
they would, on ail sides they saw nothing but luxury and 
magnificence, opulence and splendor ; her very soul 
seemed to be oppressed by it Oh, to stand once more 
by the white gate in the pleasant woods of Rood, and 
meet her lover, believing in him and his love ! — to throw 
off, if but for one horn-, the weight of wealth and the 
sense of the tragedy that had darkened her hfe ! — to lay 
her arms once more round Bertrand's neck, and ask, as 
she had done a hundred times before, did he really love 
her with his whole heart better than all the world bo- 
Bides ? How he had kissed her as he answered, " Yes." 

Then she grew impatient with herself She was not 
sure that she wanted his love; when one has suffered so 
keenly, it is difficult to know the real state of heart and 
mind. 

Could she ever forgive him this want of courage which 
seemed to her so cruel, so base ? She never could forgive 
it, and as the thought lay in her mind, the door opened 
suddenly and the Lady Valentine Arden was announced. 
She had no time to say whether she would gee her oi 



*■ THE DUKE'S SEOBET. S47 

not, for Lady Valentine stood there with grave, «2mous 
eyes looking in her face. 

" You want me. Lady Valentine," she said. " I am a 
your service." 

Naomi wondered at the grave anxiety on the fair, sweet 
face, on the wistful look in the tender violet eyes. The 
girl stood before her, tall, grave, erect, her dress of sim- 
ple black, and a black hat with a dark plume shading her 
face. Naomi's heart was touched by her aspect; she did 
not look in the least like a successful or even a happy 
rival; she looked sad and sorrowful, as though the thoughts 
that filled her mind were too heavy for words. 

She went up to Naomi, and in spite of the slight 
resistance took her hands. 

" Yes," she said, " I wanted to see you. I have some- 
thing very special, very particular that I wish to say to 
you. Some people would have been afraid — ^but I am 
not afraid of you." 

A spirited declaration, considering the scene which 
had passed. Naomi liked her all the better for it. It in- 
terested her at once. " I have nothing to be afraid of. 
I have done no harm. I have come here to speak for one 
whom I love a thousand times better than I love my life. 
Still I repeat that some people would have felt shy at 
coming to see you; you have so much in your favor." 

" That is true," said Naomi, simply. " You have much 
to say to me. You will stay some time; let me remove 
your cloak and hat. " 

Lady Valentine thanked her, and took the heavy cloak 
fi'om her shoulders, then removed the hat from her fair 
head. She looked so fair, so girlish, that Naomi could not 
take her eyes from her; then she drew her to an easy- 
chair. 

"You must rest while you talk to me," she said; "it is 
po much easier to talk when one is quite at ease." 

She placed Lady Valentine in the crimson lounging- 
chair, and then sat down herself. But Lady Valentine 
rose quickly, and coming over to her, she knelt down by 
her side. 

"Do not send me away from you," she cried; "I have 
that to say to you which is heavy on my heart. Do not 
Bend me away from you; I must be near you; I must feel 
th«t in some way you are m/ friend." 



348 THE duke's secret. 

" I will not send you away," Naomi replied, taking the 
two small, white hands in hers, and holding them in a 
friendly clasp. " I will hear all that you have to say." 

She was touched by the fact that in spite of jealousy, 
rivalry, of all that had passed between them in the picture- 
gallery, the young girl had sought her out, and trusted 
her. 

" I want to tell you first about myself," said Lady Val- 
entine. " I will tell you the whole truth, just as though 
you were my sister. I will keep nothing from you, and 
you will see that although you have suffered much, others 
have their share. 

" I came here to England some months ago, and until 
then, Naomi — let me call you Naomi, it brings me nearer 
to you — until then I had spent my whole life with my 
father, who is a great invalid. We spent the most quiet 
and retired of lives; he was not well enough to visit or to 
admit visitors. I hardly knew what society was like ; as 
to seeing young and hiindsoj le men, I never thought of 
it. 

" When I came to England and saw the duke it was 
like a revelation to me. I declare to you," she added, 
with sweet impetuosity, " that I did not know there were 
such men in the world. I think that unconsciously to 
myself I must have loved him from the first moment I saw 
him. The grave, proud beauty of his face, the sweetness 
of his temper and disposition, the grace and chivalry of 
his manner, his kindness to me, all took my heart captive 
before I knew that I had a heart, or that I could lose 
it 

" Before I knew anything about it, Naomi, I worshipped 
him. K I bad been brought up like other girls I should, 
perhaps, be ashamed to tell you; but no one ever talked 
to me about love and lovers — no one. When I lived in 
Nice the only thing that impressed me was a picture that 
hung in the salon of a lady we visited there — a beautiful 
picture called * The Martyrdom of San Sebastian,' and the 
face of the martyr was just like the face of the duke — it 
struck me at once. 

" I can not tell you when I began to love him, or when 
love of him became dearer than life; it must have been 
from the moment I saw him. I did not know it, Naomi 
X came to the duchess almost as her own child, and I 



THE duke's secket. 849 

loved her at once. I believe I am the only one in the 
wide world who has ever caressed her and loved her. I 
loved the duke too; not knowing there was anything to 
conceal, I concealed nothing. I frankly showed my pleas- 
ure and hajDpiness when he was with me, my regret and 
pain when he was not. I never cared to go out without 
him; when we received invitations 1 waited to see if he 
accepted his. I loved him so dearly and so well that the 
sound of his voice brought the hot color burning to my 
face. If he touched my hand I felt like a leaf in the* 
wind; if he gave me anything — a book, or a flower — X 
treasured it more dearly than a miser treasures gold. 

Ah, Naomi, the one spot where he was held all the 
light and brightness of the world to me; when he was 
away the world was one dreary blank. My heart was full 
of happiness; there were times even when I was beside 
myself, and he must have read my heart like an open book. 
My face must have told him my delight when he was with 
me. I had heard people say of him that he was a woman 
hater, a man who cared nothing for the society of ladies. 
I knew better; to me he was always quiet and kind, and 
I loved him. Heaven help me when I remember how 
dearly and how well. Yet all this time he was only kind 
to me, Naomi, nothing more; kind as he would have been 
to a sister if Heaven had given him one." 

CHAPTER LXVL 

AN BLOQUENT PLEA. 

" In all that followed I and I alone was to blame. I 
know now that the duke never thought of me but as the 
child placed under his mother's care; the very openness 
and frankness of my affection threw him off his guard; he 
laughed when I told him I did not care to go to a ball 
without him; that I would rather dance with him than 
with any one else. He laughed when I wanted to ride or 
drive with him, but the duchess did not — she grew graver. 
I know the people began to talk about us, and I believe 
the duchess would have given anything if he would ask 
me to marry him; but, oh, Naomi, even then his heart 
was full of you and the search for you. I do not know 
what opened his eyes at last; but he began to understand 
that my worship of him had in it all the tragic elements 
of « woman's love; perhaps the duchess spoke to hirai 



348 THE duke's secret. 

" I will not send you away," Naomi replied, taking the 
two small, white hands in hers, and holding them in a 
friendly clasp. " I will hear all that you have to say." 

She was touched by the fact that in spite of jealousy, 
rivalry, of all that had passed between them in the picture- 
gallery, the young girl had sought her out, and trusted 
her. 

" I want to tell you first about myself," said Lady Val- 
entine. " I will tell you the whole truth, just as though 
you were my sister. I will keep nothing from you, and 
you will see that although you have suffered much, others 
have their share. 

" I came here to England some months ago, and until 
then, Naomi — let me call you Naomi, it brings me nearer 
to you — until then I had spent my whole life with my 
father, who is a great invalid. We spent the most quiet 
and retired of lives ; he was not well enough to visit or to 
admit visitors. I hardly knew what society washke; as 
to seeing young and handsojie men, I never thought of 
it. 

" When I came to England and saw the duke it was 
hke a revelation to me. I declare to you," she added, 
with sweet impetuosity, " that I did not know there were 
such men in the world. I think that unconsciously to 
myself I must have loved him from the first moment I saw 
him. The grave, proud beauty of his face, the sweetness 
of his temper and disposition, the grace and chivalry of 
his manner, his kindness to me, all took my heart captive 
before I knew that I had a heart, or that I could lose 
it 

" Before I knew anything about it, Naomi, I worshipped 
him. If I bad been brought up like other girls I should, 
perhaps, be ashamed to tell you; but no one ever talked 
to me about love and lovers — no one. When I lived in 
Nice the only thing that impressed me was a picture that 
hung in the salon of a lady we visited there — a beautiful 
picture called 'The Martyrdom of San Sebastian,' and the 
face of the martyr was just like the face of the duke — it 
struck me at once, 

" I can not tell you when I began to love him, or when 
love of him became dearer than life ; it must have been 
from the moment I saw him. I did not know it, Naomi 
X came to the duchess almost as her own child, and I 



THE duke's seceet. 349 

loved her at once. I believe I am the only one in the 
wide world who has ever caressed her and loved Ler. I 
loved the duke too; not linowing there was anytLing to 
conceal, I concealed nothing. I frankly showed iny pleas- 
ure and happiness when he was with me, my regret and 
pain when he was not. I never cared to go out without 
him; when we received invitations 1 waited to see if he 
accepted his. I loved him so dearly and so well that the 
sound of his voice brought the hot color burning to my 
face. If he touched my hand I felt like a leaf in the 
wind; if he gave me anything — a book, or a flower — I 
treasured it more dearly than a miser treasures gold. 

Ah, Naomi, the one spot where he was held all the 
light and brightness of the world to me; when he was 
away the world was one dreary blank. My heart was full 
of happiness; there were times even when I was beside 
myself, and he must have read my heart Uke an open book. 
My face must have told him my delight when he was with 
me. I had heard people say of him that he was a woman 
hater, a man who cared nothing for the society of ladies. 
I knew better; to me he was always quiet and kind, and 
I loved him. Heaven help me when I remember how 
dearly and how well. Yet all this time he was only kind 
to me, Naomi, nothing more; kind as he would iiave beeu 
to a sister if Heaven had given him one." 

CHAPTER LXVL 

AN ILOQUENT PLEA. 

** In all that followed I and I alone was to blame. I 
know now that the duke never thought of me but as the 
child placed under his mother's care ; the very openness 
and frankness of my affection threw him off his guard; he 
laughed when I told him I did not care to go to a ball 
without him; that I would rather dance with him than 
with any one else. He laughed when I wanted to ride or 
drive with him, but the duchess did not — she grew graver. 
I know the people began to talk about us, and I believe 
the duchess would have given anything if he would ask 
me to marry him; but, oh, Naomi, even then his heart 
was full of you and the search for you. I do not know 
what opened his eyes at last; but he began to understand 
that my worship of him had in it all the tragic elements 
of * woman's love; perhaps the duchess spoke to lami 



B50 THE duke's SECREIL 

perhaps some of the many rumors about ub i-eached himj 
tor some days be was very quiet and grave ; then he told 
me all the story of his love for you, of his marriage, and 
all that followed. Naomi, I woiild have given my Hfe tc 
be loved as he loved you. I would have died for it. 

" I must tell you all/' she continued. " You had been 
twelve years away from him; you had given him no proof 
that you were Hving; I loved him with all my heart, and J 
clung to him, weeping in despair when I knew that between 
him and me was the barrier of a wife and child. He told 
me how long he had looked for you, and how long in vain; 
he hardly thought you were living; but we agreed that if 
no news ever •suae of or from you in the time to come, we 
would after a certainty think of e£ich other. I do not 
think — and I speak the words with sorrow — I do not think 
he was so much in love with me as he was sorry for me. 
All the great love of his soul was given to you. 

" Ah, Naomi, you would know him better, and love him 
better, if you could have seen how gentle and kind he was 
to me. Be sure my humiliation was greater almost than 
I could bear, for I knew that he was telling me a story 
to show me that I must not love him. While hfe lasts I 
Bhall never forget his promise to do all I could for him. 
All hope died in my heart from that hour. I said nothing; 
1 did my best. I tried always to be bright and cheerfiD; 
to be hopeful when I talked to him; but the wound in my 
heart never healed, and never will. Then, Naomi, you 
came upon the scene. If I had known that you were Ber- 
trand's wife, I would have trampled self under foot, and 
have been the first to welcome you for his dear sake; but 
I did not know. I saw that he was attracted by you more 
than I had ever seen him attracted by another, and I hated 
you for it. I was madly jealous of you. "What I suffered 
when he gave you the beautiful eucharist lily I had saved 
for him, no words can ever tell. I was jealous of you, and 
I hated you," she added, with a hot flush. 

" I said to myself, over and over again, that to his own 
lawful wife I could give him, and let him go, blessing 
him, but not to a stranger like you. Naomi, the night 
you wore the dress like the eudharist lily, I could have 
slain you — I was mad with jealousy. The day that you 
were on the river with him I hated you with intense 
bfttred— J was mad with jealousy and a defk^ lo| 



THE DTTEE'S S10BE& 851 

▼engeanoe. I spoke to the duke about yon; my heart 

was core amd heavy; and he told me you were like his lost 
wife, Naomi; neither of us ever dreamed that there was 
the faintest possibility of your being Naomi; we never 
thought of it but as a chance resemblance. 

" I can not tell you what I suffered when I saw he grew 
more and more interested in you. I told him the jealous 
pain that made my heart ache. He talked to me kindly, 
and made me promise to be good. You know the rest- 
how the man who has been for so long tracing you 
brought him news of you at last. I shall never forget the 
moment in which he sent the folded card to me and I read 
CO it, ' Michael Droski — with news.* 

** The wonderful news came to him that his wife waa 
living, was even then under his roof — was even then one 
of the most popular, and fashionable, and beautiful women 
in London. 

" He was stunned, NaomL He could not believe it — 
he could not realize it He went to look at you, and came 
back to tell me it could not be. He spoke to you, and 
came to tell me that he could not believe it. Then it 
was proved true. But, oh, Naomi, how cruel you were 
to him — how you crushed him with your bitter words. 
Tou, who pretend to love, or have loved him so well, how 
could you refuse the pleading of his voice and his face ?* 

"He has injured me more cruelly than any man has in- 
jured the wife he pretends to love." 

" If he had plunged a dagger in my heart I would have 
forgiven him; if he had given me poison, if he had 
trampled on me — ^his heel on my face, I would have for- 
given him." 

" That is serviHty — not love," cried Naomi. 

"I beg your pardon. You are his wife; you have 
•very claim on him, but my love is truer and deeper than 
yours has ever been." 

" I do not believe it," said Naomi. 

" But I know it," rephed Lady Valentine, dauntlessly; 
" do you think that if I were in your place I should re- 
fuse to forgive him ? I tell you this, no matter how greatly 
he had injured me, I should forgive him if he asked me 
to." 

Naomi looked into the fair flushed fac9, her beautiful 
iaee foil of disquiet 



852 TBE Dt7EE*S SEOBSI^ 

"Tell me. Lady Valentine," she said, "if we conld 
change places — if he had left you branded with shame 
and disgrace; if he had refused to speak the one word 
which alone could clear you from the stigma of shame — 
would you forgive him ? " 

She was silent for a few minutes. 

" Yes," she replied; " if I were in your place now, I 
would forgive him. I love him with deeper, truer love 
than yours. If he killed me I would smile on him in 
dying — I would forgive and bless him in my last "breath." 

"You love him," indeed," said Naomi, with involun- 
taxy admiration. 

" Yes; it is that very love that brings me here to plead 
for him; it is harder to plead for him than it would be 
to die for him. K I, who love him better than my life, 
can come to you and ask you to restore him to your love 
— ask you to go back to him — if I can so far trample self 
under foot, surely you, after twelve long years of silent 
resentment — surely you may forgive a wrong from which 
he has suffered quite as much as you have done." 

One noble mind paid involuntary homage to anothert 

" You are a brave girl," said Naomi, " but you do no. 
understand how that terrible wrong has corroded my 
heart — all that was kind and gentle in me seems to have 
died a violent death." 

" It is but fancy," said Lady Valentine. " See I am 
your rival, yet how kind you are to me. Who could have 
believed that I would be kneeling by your side, holding 
your hands and feeUng my heart drawn to you? 
Who could have foreseen that ? Why do you call your- 
self cold and unkind ? Such a face as yours never hid a 
a cold heart yet" 

=*That proud, insolent woman. Lady Valentine — th« 
words she said to me burned themselves on my heart and 
brow." 

" All that is another thing. I am not asking you to 
forgive the duchess. I can imagine that you feel very 
angry with her; it is for your husband I plead. He gave 
you the love of his life, he gave you his name, his fortune, 
everything that he had, and at the critical moment of 
your life he failed you. Not from cowardice, I shall 
never hold that opinion, but because he was afraid of 
losing you altogeihfu: if he told the truth. S«e all thai 



tHE duke's seobet; 353 

%/b did to remedy his mistake; tsee all thai he has done 
iiuce; think what remorse, what sorrow he has suffered 
•ver since, and can you hesitate for a moment about 
forgiving him ? Ah, if it were but me, I would run to 
him, I would go with outstretched arms, and bury my 
anger, my resentment, in the sweetest kiss I could give 
him. As for the duchess, be just, Naomi; perhaps had you 
or I been Duchess of Castlemayne, we might, under the 
aame circumstances, have done the same thing. She is 
proud, but if you knew her you would love her! Ah! 
Naomi, you are more beautiful, more gifted, much wiser 
than lam; do not let me outdo you in love. lam so 
anxious to see Bertrand happy, that if, by the sacrifice of 
my life, I could atone to you for the wrong done, and 
"win his forgiveness, I would die now and here. It 
"would be easier for me to die than live," she continued. 
*'I can not realize what my life would be without 
iiim." 

" Yet you come here and ask me to forgive him and go 
back to him. Do you know that if I refuse and persist 
in my refusal, he could perhaps in time get a divorce from 
me and marry you ?" 

" Yes, I know it; but I know also you will not do it; I 
know also that my love for him is so great that I prefer hi« 
happiness to mine. I would a thousand times see him 
happy than be happy myself; besides, you forget, Naomi 
—his son — you forget his son." 

** I do not forget him — I could not forget him if I would/* 
■he replied. 

Lady Valentine rose from her knees and stood before 
her, erect, with a dignity new to her, her face shining with 
light and emotion. 

" You are a woman, Naomi," she said, " and a beautiful 
woman too; but you have no true woman's heart if you 
condemn the man you love to be a lonely, blighted, misera- 
ble man; you can have no idea of the depth and truth of 
love unless you understand forgiveness. I should call such 
love as yours selfishness, because you think more of your- 
self than of him. Even the old proverb rebukes you — ' To 
err is human, to forgive divine.' If you have in your love 
none of that divine element which leads men to mercy, 
then — why then, I think Duke Bertrand had far better 
i^Mid his life in loneliness and exile than spend it with 



854 THE DUKE'S SEOBKT. ■ ' 

you. Surely the worst than can befall a man is to liATe 
for his wife a woman without a heart. If you can not for- 
give, you have no heart — you know nothing of the divine 
element of love. You — though the words sound hard they 
are true — you do not deserve heaven; for those who can not 
forgive the trespasses of others do not deserve to be for- 
given themselves." 

" What do you want me to do ?" whispered Naomi, in 
a low voice, " Tell me and I will do it." 

" Will you ? Then may Heaven bless you I Let m« 
take that rose you have in your dress to the duke and 
tell him that you are waiting to see him. May I ?" 

And for an answer Naomi laid the rose in her hands, j 

CHAPTER LXVn. 

rORGIVENKSS. 

" Are you quite sure, Valentine ?" repeated the duko, 
over and c <rer again. " You have not fancied it o? 
dreamed it ? It is no good-natured ruse to draw me into 
her presence ? You are sure that she sent me this rose 
from her own self, and said she was waiting for me !" 

"Oh, man of little faith," laughed Valentine; and hfl 
did not notice how white were the lips that laughed. 
" How must I convince you ? I have told you so many 
times over. She is now in her own boudoir, one of the 
most beautiful rooms in that superb house; she looks ae 
beautiful as an empress. She wears a morning dress oi 
white and blue; her hair is arranged with less artistic 
taste, but to my thinking, with greater elegance than 
ever. I can even tell you what she is doing — she stands 
by the window, thinking of all I have said to her, and 
waiting for you." 

" You must be a witch, Valentine," he said, with great 
emotion. 

" If I were, I should soon fly away," she said. " Now, 
Bertrand, go at once — lose no time. I am sure she will 
forgive you, and all will be well again. She has a noble 
soul, but she has been cruelly wounded." 

" If she does forgive me and all goes well, I shall owe 
my happiness to you," he said. 

** Never mind, my dear, to whom you owe it, provided 
•nly that it comes," she said. " Now go thi« moniAat) 



THE DUKES'S SECRET. 355 

tatd a cab and drive to Brook House — ^you will not be 
long going." 

She fastened the rose to his coai, and he failed to see 
how the little hands trembled. Yet some sense of the 
effort the girl was making must have come to him, for 
when he reached the door he turned back to her and, going 
to her, kissed her forehead, looking anxiously in the 
sweet face. 

" You have been to see her — you have done all this for 
me, Valentine — and why ? " 

" Because I love you, and I want to see you happy," 
she rephed. " You ought to fly to Brook House, Bertrand, 
instead of wasting precious moments like this." 

He went, and then Lady Valentine went to her ovf^ 
room, giving her maid orders that she was not to be 
disturbed. If Duke Bertrand could have seen her weep- 
ing there he would have known what the sacrifice cost her. 

He went direct to Brook House. Everything was just 
as Lady Valentine had foretold. He was shown to Naomi's 
boudoir. She was there, looking beautiful enough to 
bewilder any one; her golden hair loosened and lying in 
a rich, great wave on her shoulders. She was standing 
by the window, and when he entered the room she met 
him face to face. Her eyes fell first on the flower she had 
sent him — what a faithful messenger Valentine was, even 
though the message she took was so much against her 
own interest. 

" Naomi," said the duke — his face flushed, his voice 
trembling with emotion, the glamor of the old love seem- 
ing to sweep over him again; the past years, with their 
long burden of waiting and sorrow, fell from him. This 
was the girl- wife he loved with such blind passion. He 
could have fancied himself away with her on the pleasant 
lands of Rood. " Naomi, you are willing to see me," he 
cried; and then he stopped in wonder. All the pride and 
defiance had died f»-om her face; she was the simple lov- 
ing Naomi of old again. She seemed to take up the 
broken thread of her life from where he had left her, 
kneeling at his mother's feet. She opened her arma with 
a cry that he never forgot. 

" Oh, Bertrand, how could you do it — ^how could j<M 
— iow could you— how could you ? " 



356 tHE duke's 8E0BET. 

He caught her in his arms and clasped her to his heart, 
while she sobbed out the words on his breast. 

"How could I, my darling, my sweet wife? That is 
the very question I have been asking myself ever since — 
how could I ? I do not know. I was mad with the fear 
of losing you. My mother to me even then was the very 
embodiment of aristocratic power. My darling, if I 
Binned, Heaven only knows how I have suflfered. No one 
can tell, no words can tell. I would give my very life to 
undo it. After all these years of sorrow and pain have 
you no word of forgiveness for me ?" 

" I never intended, I nevej thought of forgiveness," she 
replied. " It is Lady Valentine that has made me see 
that I must forgive if I would be forgiven. The words 
seem hard to say, Bertrand, when for twelve long years I 
have brooded in silence over my wrongs." 

" Naomi, have you any of the old love left for me in 
your heart?" he asked; is there one thing that pleads 
for me ? Ah, yes, surely the face and the voice of the 
child that calls me father, surely that will not plead to you 
in vain." 

The golden head sunk lower on his breast. 

" Twelve long years ago," he said. " I have loved you, 
longed for you, missed you, sorrowed for you, searched 
for you. Ah, my darling, perhaps it is all on my side, not 
on yours. Naomi, neither my rank nor wealth have 
brought me joy. I have been a mystery to every one, and 
a misery to myself; do you not think I have suifered long 
enough — more than you ? You have had the love of our 
boy to console you; you have not been desolate at heart 
as I have been. Naomi, does he live, this son of mine, of 
whom you have never spoken to me yet ? Say, my dar- 
ling, that you forgive me, and that you will tell me about 
my son. 

For some few minutes there was silence, unbroken ex- 
cept by her bitter sobs, and it was the first time that he 
had beaten down the last of the barriers raised in her 
heart against him; he did not try to check the bitter weep- 
ing; he soothed the golden head; he caressed the fair, 
shining hair with his hands and his lips, murmuring sweet 
and loving words, such as he had whispered years ago. 
Bq^ ioif the pasnionate fit of weeping, but tov this tendtr 



THE duke's segbbt. 167 

drdamy comfort he gave her who knows how this storj 
would have ended ? His kindness conquered her. 

" Thank Heaven, my darling wife," he said, '* that if you 
have any tears to shed you can shed them here." 

He tightened the clasp of his arm round her; he whis- 
pered such loving words to her that no woman could listen 
to them unmoved. The bitter sobs ceased, the passionate 
teai-8 fell no longer; she lay in his arms tired, yet at rest, 
like a wearied child. 

" My wife, my darling, have you forgiven me ?" he 
asks. "Say that one word to me. It was a grievous 
wrong — a deadly injury, but I will atone as no man ever 
atoned before. Whisper to me one word of pardon, and 
I shall be the happiest man in the world." 

She thought of Valentine's words, of the light in her 
fair face, the flash in her violet eyes, the true, firm voice 
that had at first persuaded her, then told her pitiless 
truths; surely her love was not less noble than this girl's, 
who declared that even if he slew her she would forgive 
him and bless him in dying. 

She looked up into his face. 

" Do you know," she said, solemnly, " that there is one 
who loves you with a deeper and truer love than mine ?" 

" I will not believe it," he replied. " It is not now a 
question of any other love, but entirely of your own. I 
want your pardon. Will you give it to me, Naomi ?" 

" Yes," she whispered. " I never intended to forgive 
you. Just as you had cast me out from your life, J 
intended to remain outside it. I never meant that you 
should recognize me or claim me again; but I forgive you, 
Bertrand, and the past shall be buried between us." 

His eyes were dim with tears. Heaven had been very 
good to him after all. He had made the most terrible 
mistake a man could make in life, and now it was all hap* 
pily ended. 

The ormolu clock struck one before they remembered 
time was passing, Naomi looked up in dismay. 

" Why, Bertrand, you have been here two hours, and it 
does not seem two minutes!" she cried. " It was always 
so — hours flew like minutes when we were together, and 
they lengthened into days when we were apart." 

"May it always be so," cried the duke. "Oh, Naomi, 
•U the old loTe for jou comes back to mj heart Do you 



368 THP. duke's secret. 

remember how I used to watch for you and wait for you t 
I begin to wonder how I have Hved through all these 
long years without you." 

And seeing that there was great danger of the love- 
making coming over again, Naomi said : 

" My uncle will be at home at two for luncheon. " 

"May I stay and join you ?" he asked. 

*' No." And she looked up at him with serious, loving 
eyes. " No, not to-day, Bertrand. I am not so cold nor 
BO heartless as you think. I have gone through as much 
as I can bear to-day — just as much." 

" But, Naomi, must I leave you in suspense ?" he asked. 

" No, that would • be kind either. Come back this 
evening. I will give up all my engagements. I will stay 
at home to receive you; and I will tell you my story since 
we parted." 

" You win come back to me, Naomi ?" he said, wistfully. 

"Yes, I will come back," she replied. "Come this 
evening, and I will arrange it all; but go now, because I 
«an not bear any more." 

And with that he was fain to be eontent. 

CHAPTER LXVin. 

▲ NOBLE NATURE AND A NOBLE LOVE. 

How IMPATIENTLY shc had waited through the hours of 
the day, how long they had seemed to her; yet as they 
passed she could come to no decision as to what she 
should do. She never thought that events would take 
this turn. She had never had the faintest intention of 
going back to the duke. When she left England it was 
forever, she believed, and she did her honest best to for- 
get even the name of the man whom she had loved so 
much, and who had caused her so much unhappiness. In 
the new world no one knew anything of her; she would 
never be pained or tortured by hearing his name, by 
hearing any allusion to him. She had left it all behind, 
even as she had left the white cliffs of England behind 
her. She alone knew how many years it had taken her 
to beat down her love, to trample it under her feet, to 
live without it, to lose the sting of its soitow and shame. 
She had done hard battle with time, because she loved 
him so well; and he crushed that love out of her heart; 
be had crushed much more with it; much of her faith in 



THE duke's secret. 36d 

liuinan nature, of her kindDess of lieart. One can not 
kill a great love without destroying the best part of one's 
nature with it. 

Then, when she believed her love to be dead, Naomi 
looked her life in the face. She could never marry ; true 
that if she chose to appeal to the law she might do so, 
perhaps with a chance of success, but that she would 
never do; that was not what she wanted; she had had 
quite enough of love, lovers and marriage; she wanted no 
more. 

Looking at her life as it lay before her, she saw what it 
would be Uke, and embraced it. She would have every- 
thing that money could buy — magnificence, wealth, luxury, 
grandeur, were all spread before her; she could have any- 
thing and everything her heart desired ; she could have 
dresses and jewels fit for a queen; she could travel; she 
coidd see the greatest wonders of the world, but she could 
call no man husband; she could have no child of her own; 
she would be able to help the poor, the sick, the miser- 
able; she could make the widows sing for joy; she could 
shield the orphan and the friendless; she could do any- 
thing except love or marry ; she took her life as it was, 
accepted her fate, and made the best of it. 

She was far too noble a woman to be content with the 
pleasures of the world. No one knew the amount of good 
she did in her quiet, graceful, unobtrusiv manner. There 
was no great ceremony; she built no church, she founded 
no great public buildings, but she saved many a family 
from utter ruin and destitution. 

In that far-off Am3rican city where she had dwelt so 
long the very hearts of the people blessed her; there 
Were hundreds who owed the happiness of their lives to 
her, and the blessing of the people is the highest crown 
man or woman can wear. 

Then came her uncle's natural desire to travel, to return 
to his native land, where his heart reaUy was. It was a great 
pleasure to her to see the wonders of the world, its fair 
cities and places. The more she traveled the more her 
mind opened, the deeper became the forgetfulness of the 
past which had so dark a background for her. 

"When Hardress Glynton spoke of going to England, 
for a few minutes she faltered; she knew that she had t« 
express but one idea, utter one word, and he would cheai* 



360 THE DTTKE*S SECRET. 

fully renounce that wish. But why should it be ? Sht 
might live in London fifty years, and never see those she 
dreaded to see; they Hved in one world, she quite in an- 
other; they need never meet. 

But when Brook House was finished she saw her mis; 
take. They were received iu the very first circles; dukes 
and duchesses held out friendly hands to them, peers and 
princes were pleased to see them. It was not only the vaat 
wealth of the milUonaii*e, but the marvelous beauty of the 
supposed daughter that brought them so prominently 
into notice. She who had thought never to hear his 
name again, found herself now living among his friends 
and acquaintances, visiting the same houses he visited, 
going to the same entertainments; and she saw that the 
time must come when she must meet him. It did not 
matter; how should it? Her love was all dead. She 
could meet him without agitation, without the awakening 
of the old love that was so surely dead, so surely slain 
and buried out of sight. Yet as the days passed on and 
she heard him spoken of her opinion of him changed. 

" A women-hater," they called him, this gallant young 
lover of hers, whose face she remembered so full of love 
and tenderness, whose eyes had drunk in her fair young 
beauty as twilight drinks in dew. 

A woman-hater ! He must have changed marvelously 
since then. She heard him spoken of constantly as one 
who shunned the society of ladies, who went alone on his 
way through hfe, who never asked for the smile of any 
woman, or for a gracious word. She heard that in spite 
of his brilliant position, his wealth, his rank, he was always 
melancholy, always sad. 

And then as she was drawn more and more into the 
whirlpool of fashionable life, she heard more of the duch- 
ess, of her bitter disappointment because her son seemed 
averse to maniage; of Lady Everleigh's vain triumph over 
her ; and then for the first time she realized what his suf- 
ferings had been. She never thought of that part of it 
before; she had pictured him always as gay, happy, suc- 
cessful. To think of him as lonely, melancholy, with 
blighted, ruined life had not occurred to her. Now she 
realized his part in the matter. 

He was one of the first peers in England, the descend- 
•ni of a grand old race; his name and title dear to ^ 



THE DUKE'S SECMET. B61 

jLeart, and he was alone. He could ask no woman io share 

his heart, to share his title, to brighten his home; he must 
pass tbrough life with a bitter secret eating away his 
heart; love of wife or child could never be his — never I 

He was condemned to a life such as no man could en- 
dure — married, yet with no wife — title, fortune, estates, 
honors, all to pass to a man whom his mother hated, to 
the son of a woman who triumphed so basely over her. 
Then, when she understood what he had to suffer, she 
wished to see him. When she was going to a party or 
a ball she dressed herself with the greatest care; it might 
come any evening, this event on which she had begun to 
dream and muse. 

It did come; she stood face to face with him, and he 
did not know her. His eyes looked into hers with the 
careless glance of a stranger. Her heart for a few minutes 
seemed to have ceased beating, and then she remembered 
— the love of other days was crushed and buried out of 
sight. 

She saw also that what people said of him was quite 
true— he looked melancholy; there was always a veil of 
sadness over his face, there was no ring in his laughter, 
no ring in his voice. He looked like a man who suffered, 
like a man with a story; and she alone knew what the 
story was. She might have relented to him but for the 
duchess; whenever Naomi saw that stately and beautiful 
lady her whole soul rose in hot rebelUon against her. 
And her dislike to the haughty woman hardened her 
heart against that woman's son. 

Then she began to notice that the fair young Lady 
Valentine was jealous of her. It was only human nature, 
then, that she should enter the lists against her. She 
had meant no harm; she had never intended the duke 
should have the faintest idea of her identity. At the end 
of the season she was going away, and might never see 
either of them again ; but in the meantime she must give 
Lady Valentine a lesson. All this abruptly ended when 
the duke claimed her as his wife. It was an emergency 
she had not prepared for, had not anticipated. He 
claimed her by every right, human and divine; she waa 
his by the law of Heaven as well as by the law of man. 
She could no longer hold his sin before her, for he had 
fepented of it; he had asked her forgiveness; he had 



862 THE DUKE'S SECRET. 

humiliated himself before her; he had explained much ol 
what had seemed to her incomprehensible. 

Now what was she to say to him when he came ? 

Lady Valentine's womanly, noble words had touched 
the inmost core of her heart; she thought of them over 
and over again as she stood there debating within her- 
self the grand question of her life; what would she say 
to him when he came ? 

*' That girl has a nobler nature than mine," said the 
beautiful, thoughtful woman to herself; " a nobler nature; 
and she loves him with a nobler love." 

What should she say to him ? Should she go back to 
him, take her place as his wife, make herself known to 
the world as the Duchess of Castlemayne ? Her heart 
beat high at the thought. She saw how brilliant was the 
life that lay before her. She saw how happy she could 
make him, how different his life would be for him. How 
proud and pleased the duchess would be — and there 
crept into her heart, noble and generous as it was, a 
shght degree of feminine satisfaction that her grace 
would be dowager duchess; and much as she had wished 
for the title, Naomi knew she would not like hearing it. 
There is something in the word " dowager " not always 
pleasant to those who still retain their beauty and desire 
to please. 

He would be here soon; what should she say to him — 
yes or no ? Should she be Duchess of Castlemayne or re- 
main Miss Glynton until the end of her life ? 

Did she wish to charm him that she dressed with such 
elegance and care; that she wore diamonds in her hair 
and on her white breast; that she wore a white lace 
trimmed with white lilies that should remind him of a 
wedding-dress ? 

That told more than anything else what she meant to 
say, 

CHAPTER LXIX. 

BURIED AT SEA. 

It was the prettiest home scene possible. It brought a 
gleam of comfort and warmth to the duke's heart when he 
entered. The beautiful room, with its lights d,nd flowers, 
the beautiful woman in her diamonds and white lace, who 
awaited him with that fair flush on her face. 

''Naoim," eaid the duke, as he entered the rooaa, "I 



THE duke's secret. 363 

•an nqt tell you in what an awkward position I feel myself 
to be; my impulse is to rush up to you, clasp you in my 
arms, and caU you my darling wife. If I did it you might, 
perhaps, order me away again; if I omit it I shall feel 
misarable." 

"Let us mak? a compromise," she said. "Do not rush 
up to me; do not call me darling wife; but here is my 
hand, kiss it, and say, ' How are you, Naomi?"' 

"No!" he cried, impetuously, " that I will not," and be- 
fore she had time to resist, he clasped her in his arms and 
devoured her beautiful face in kissea He kissed the 
white brow, the white eyelids, the fragrant, quivering lips 
until she could find her voice and cry out. 

"No morel" 

" I have to make up for twelve years," he said. " Think 
of the kisses you owe me, Naomi." 

" It is not fair to begin by kissing me," she cried. 
"You should have listened to me first, and then have 
asked permission to — to kiss me, supposing our interview 
ended pleasantly." 

" I have not the least douot of that," laughed the duke; 
" but I am tired of the role of patient husband. I begin 
from this moment to be a tyrant. I mean to have my 
own way ; I do not intend our interview to end, nor do I 
intend to bow to your sweet, cold, cruel will any longer, 
my Naomi" 

She drew back startled; she was not prepared for this 
passionate demonstration; it upset all her arrangements 
and plans; but he was resolute. 

" I will have no more of it, Naomi," he said. " I wor- 
shipped you once, I worship you now; I was a — cruel to 
you once, I will love you doubly all the rest of my life." 

The beautiful face softened; and this time, when he 
threw his arms round her and drew her to him she did 
not resist. 

" Naomi," he whispered, " my heart is full of impatience 
— where is my child ?" 

Then of her own free will she laid her arms round his 
neck and kissed his face. 

" I will tell you," she answered. " Come with me— 
where I can see the stars as I tell you." 

She led the way to the beautiful balcony, from which 
■he could see the sparkling night sky with its glitter of 



S64: THE duke's secret. 

golden stars; the moonlight on the trees and green parkfit 

" The stars saw so much I have to narrate that I can 
tell you better under this light than in a room " 

She stood there; the clouds of rich lace falling from 
her, the diamonds shining in her golden hair, the fairest 
Tision his eyes had ever seen. 

" I have wanted to tell you for so long. I shall begin 
my story from the time you left me." 

Passionate kisses closed her lips. 

"You are never to name that time again." he said; " it 
is all over and ended; promise me you will not." 

" I will not," she said. 

She told him every detail of her history, how quite by 
accident she had seen the advertisement inserted by her 
uncle in the papers, answered it, and went oixt to him. 

" I meant to tell him the story of my marriage when he 
•aw the boy," she said, " but he never saw him. He was 
quite well, my little Aired, during the first half of the 
journey, and then he began to sicken of some childish 
fever that ended fatally. I can talk to yc a now, Bertrand, 
without tears. I have shed them all. My heart bums 
and my brain seems to be on fire wh^n I think of him; 
but I have no tears. I loved him so utterlv, so com- 

Eletely, that I wonder I lived one hour after he died. I 
ated the health and strength that wo aid not Jet me die. 
Every one — the captain, the doctor, the passengers — was 
very kind to me and my beautiful boy; for three whole 
days and nights I sat with him in my arms; I watched 
every breath. Ah, Heaven, I can not tell you all abon t it, 
it would kill me to put it into words. It has been a great 
tearless agony of which I have told no one." 

He kissed and soothed her with loving words. 

" So I have no son, Naomi. I have only you !" he said; 
**you must give me double love to make up for it." 

"He died, Bertrand," she said, "when the sun was 
setting over the sea, with a calm, sweet smile on his face, 
as though he already saw the angels there. I never re- 
member what followed his death; but that hoiirs after- 
ward I awoke up and found myself alone. The stars 
were shining on the sea; my brain whirled, my limbs 
trembled. I wanted my baby. I crept up the ladder, and 
just as I reached the deck I saw the doctor. I held out 
BOiy hands to him. 'I want zuj baby I' I cried. Htt 



THE duke's secret. 365 

tfiarted back, and then I saw a little group. Oh, Bertrand I 
sleeping or waking, can I ever forget how the stars shone 
on the sea I 

"A little group — the captain, who held my hand 
when baby died, and told me ' how little angels went 
home,' the doctor and a sailor who had a cofl&n in 
his arms — and the captin was reading prayers. 

"'Stop!' I cried. 'You are not going to bury my 
baby in the sea ! you can not, you dare not I' 

'"We must, my dear,' said the captain. 

"'But you can not; no man could have the heart. 
Look what a great wide ocean it is ! you can not leave 
my little child in it all alone — such a little child I 
Why, the coffin will never sink; it will be washed forever 
through those great waves ! Oh, if it must go, put it in 
my arms, and let me go with it.' 

" • She should not have been here,' said the doctor. 

"A httle child, alone in the great, lonely, desolate 
ocean !" I cried in anguish. " If it were nearer land I 
should not care so much." 

" The captain laid down his prayer-book and came to 
me. He pointed to the shining stars, and the waves came 
rushing by as though they were singing a requiem over 
a newly made grave. 

" * Look up there, my dear,' he said, in his kindly, homely 
fashion; 'your httle child is there, bright, shining, happy 
among the angels of heaven. It is not your pretty, 
laughing child who is shut up here; this is only the pretty, 
fair shell that held the beautiful soul. When you think 
of your baby, lookup at the stars in heaven, not down at 
the stars reflected in the sea. Kiss the little coffin, my 
dear; we made it as pretty as we could: kiss it, and 
say, ' I give my little child to Heaven.' 

" I did as he told me ; and then, ah, Bertrand ! I looked 
at the water; the great, green waves were smooth and 
bright; the shadow of the stars lay in them; and as I 
looked, something first cleaved the bright green water, 
confused for a moment the picture of the stars, and then 
the waters closed again. That is where your httle son 
lies, Bertrand, in the midst of the great wide Atlantic 
Ocean. What a grave for that little, loving child ! 

" Time heals every sorrow," she said, after a tir^ie. " 1 
tave learned to think of my child in heaven; but ther« 

r 



866 THE duke's secret. 

are two things I can not bear: one is the long wash anci 
roll of the waves, the other is the stars shining on the sea. 
Mind, I must never live within sound of the sea. Why, 
Bertrand, you are crying !" 

The great strong frame was shaken with sobs, the dark 
handsome face was wet with teai's. 

" Oh, Naomi, it is my sorrow, too. You have known it 
for twelve years; it has just come to me; it is new to me, 
but none the less sharp and bitter." 

She did what would have seemed to her quite impossible 
before — she kissed his tears away. 

"He was just like you, Bertrand," she said; "he had 
the loveliest face and such bonny surls. When we crossed 
the ocean to come back to England — my uuc/e and I — I 
was wondering all the time where thnt little coffin was." 

Then he took her in his arms and leaned his head on 
her shoulder. The}- wept together over the little one lost 
so long ago; and after that between tbem there could be 
no quarrel or parting more. 

An hour or two afterward the duke looked up with a 
smile into his wife's face. 

" When will you come home with me?" he asked; and 
she answered: 

" Your own heart, ought to tell you that there is one 
amend you ought to make me. When you have made that 
I will come." 

"I know what it is," he said, " and it shall be done." 

CHAPTER LXX. 

EEOONOILIATION. 

Again the beautiful Naomi, Duchess of Castlemayne, 
stands in her room alone. It is the morning after her in- 
terview with the dake, and she is wondering if he has 
read the desire of her heart rightly. If he has she will go 
away with him at once when he asks her; if not, then she 
wovdd keep him in suspense a day or two longer. 

But he had divined it, for Avhile she stands arranging 
some of hev best loved Howers the Duke and Duchess of 
Castlemayne are announced. She grew pale and trembled 
sHghtly as the tall, stately figure of the duchess swept into 
the room. 

She was face to face with the woman who had crushed 
her, at last 

■> •» - - . 

■*i8 



THE dtjke's secret. 36T 

'*?f?^t>!Bi,'* said Duke Bertrand, "I hare told my mother 
all, anJ she has come to ask your forgiveness, and to ask 
for mine." 

Then the dowager duchess spoke. It cost her an effort 
She looked pale and agitated. She came forward and 
took Naomi's hand in hers. 

" I am a proud woman, Naomi," she said, " and I do 
not remember that I have humbled myself to any one in 
my life. I have never begged pardon of any man or 
woman. I humble myself before you now. I beg your 
pardon for my unjust suspicions, my rash, cruel judg- 
ment, my cruel treatment of you. Oh, child ! why did 
you not speak?" 

" I could not; my promise kept me silent," SMd NaomL 

" If I had known the truth ! " said her grace, with 
tears in her eyes. " I was cruel to you; scornful and 
proud I Will you forgive me, Naomi ? " 

" I will," she replied, solemnly ; and the Dowager 
Duchess of Castlemayne laid her head on the breast of 
her son's wife, and shed there the happiest tears she had 
ever shed in her life. 

" My dear," she said, " I could not believe Bertrand at 
first. He had to repeat his story many times. I could 
not understand it or realize it." 

" It must have surprised you," said Naomi, thoughtfully. 

" I have promised my son," continued her grace, " to 
Bay nothing to you of the pain it has caused me. Nothing 
can excuse him but the excess of youthful folly. Making 
love to you was wrong, but conceaUng his marriage, in 
spite of what had happened, was to my mind the greatest 
wrong of all; and that is the last word I have to say upon 
the subject. Naomi, welcome to my house and heart. 
liOve my son, be a good wife to him, and we shall be happy." 

Duke Bertrand went up to his wife. 

*'Did I guess the one thing you wished?" he asked. 

**Tes," she rephed. 

"Then give me my reward, Naomi." 

She went up to him and laid her arms round his neck. 

"I am content and happy," she said; I will go with you 
where you will." 

" So," said the astonished Mr. Glynton, when the dow- 
ager duchess had finished telling him the romance, " 89 X 
Kave been entertaining a duchess all these years I" 



368 THE duke's secret. 

Her grace had desired to tell him the story herself. The 
two most concerned stood by in silence. He was rather 
amused than otherwise, and thought more of the fact that his 
niece had been a duchess all these years than anything else. 

He promised never to tell the secret, and he never did. 
He married Lady Belle, and worshipped her until the end 
of his life. He confided every thought to her, but he 
never told her the duke's secret, and the world never 
knew it. The dowager duchess had already arranged 
everything in her own mind. First, with great pride, she 
announced the engagement, to the total overthrow of all 
Lady Everleigh's hopes; then she went to Italy taking 
the duke and duchess with her. 

From Italy the marriage was announced, but neither 
date nor place was given, and those who read it smiled, as 
they thought the dowager had been in such haste to get 
it over, that she had omitted all the details. The world 
thought more of Lady Everleigh's defeat than of the dow- 
ager's success. 

"The dowager dare not lose a day," they said; "the 
duke proposed one day and married the next; he waa 
married at some out-of-the-way place in Italy. 

But that wa« his business. All that the world troubled 
itself about now was this — that next year the beautiful 
Duchess of Castlemayne would be its queen. Ladj 
Everleigh was abroad; she had been too arrogant, too 
Bure, and very few sympathized with her in her downfall 
With both her daughters married and her son in India 
she had time to muse on the vanities of the world an^ 
all belonging to it. 

Two years later on there was another wedding, which 
brought untold happiness to Bood Castle. Lady Valen- 
tine took compassion on Harry Bellairs, and made him 
the happiest man in the world. 

The dowager duchess has no longer any fear of the 
succession, for three healthy, handsome boys call her 
" Grandmamma." But Naomi, Duchess of Castlemayne, 
amid all her happiness, thinks of the little coffin lost in 
the green shining waves, and dreads more than anything 
•be the sound of the moaning sea. 



[wa sa] 



I^casons why 
you should 
obtain a Cat- 



alogue of our 



Publications 



A postal to us will 
place it in your 



1. You will possess a comprehen- 
sive and classiiied list of all the best 
standard books published, at prices 
less than offered by others. 

2. You will find listed in our cata' 
logue books on every topic : Poetry, 
Fiction, Romance, Travel, Adven- 
ture, Humor, Science, History, Re- 
ligion, Biography, Drama, etc., be- 
sides Dictionaries and Manuals, 
Bibles, Recitation and Hand Books, 
Sets, Octavos, Presentation Books 
and Juvenil* and Nursery Literature 
in immense variety. 

3. You will be able to purchase 
books at prices within your reach ; 
as low as 10 cents for paper covered 
books, to $5.00 for books bound in 
cloth or leather, adaptable for gift 
and presentation purposes, to suit 
the tastes of the most critical. 

4. You will save considerable 
money by taking advantage of our 
Special Discounts, which we offer 
to those whose purchases are large 
enough to warrant us in making a 
reduction. 

HURST & CO^ "Pubtishers, 
395, 397, 399 Bfoadway. New Yoefc. 



-■'""-■' ' n"' 



The Famous Al^cr Books 

By Horatio Alger, Jr. The Boy's Writer 



A SERIES of books known to all boys ; books that are good 
and wholesome, with enough ' ' ginger " in them to suit 
the tastes of the younger generatiou. The Alger books 
are not filled with " blood and thunder" stories of a doubtful 
character, but are healthy and elevating, and parents should 
see ^ it that their children become acquainted with the writ- 
iuKff of this celebrated writer of boys' books. We publish the 
titles named below : 



Adrift in New York. 


Making His Way. 


Andy (Gordon. 


Only an Irish Boy. 


Andy Grant's Pluck. 


Paul the Peddler. 


Bob Burton. 


Phil the Fiddler. 


Bound to Rise. 


Ralph Raymond's Heir. 


Braye and Bold. 


Risen from the Ranks. 


Cash Boy. 


Sam's Chance. 


Chester Rand. 


Shifting for Himself. 


Do and Dare. 


Sink or Swim. 


Driven from Home. 


Slow and Sure. 


Erie Train Boy. 


Store Boy. 


Facing the World. 


Strive and Succeed. 


Hector's Inheritance. 


Strong and Steady. 


Helping Himself. 


Tin Box. 


Herbert Carter's Legacy. 


Tony, the Tramp. 


In a New World. 


Tom the Bootblack. 


Jack's Ward. 


Try and Trust. 


Jed, the Poor House Boy. 


Young Acrobat. 


Julius, the Street Boy. 


Young Outlaw. 


Luke Walton. 


Young Salesman. 



Any of these books will be mailed upon receipt of 35c., 
or tbree copies for |ti*oo. Do not fail to procure 
one or more of these famous volumes. 

A Complete CatalosTue of Books 'vrlll be 
•ent npon request. 

HURST & CO., Publishers, NEW YORK 



(it 

A BOOK OF THE HOUR 

The Simple Life 

By CHARLES WAGNER 



Translated from the French by H. L. WILLIAMS 



The sale of this book has been magnetic and 
its effect far-reaching. It has the endorsement 
of public men, literary critics and the press 
generally. 

This is the hook that President Roosevelt 
preaches to his countrymen. 

The price is made low enough to be within 
the reach of all. Don't fail to purchase a copy 
yourself and recommend it to your friends. 

Cloth binding, 12 mo. Price, postpaid, 50c. 

Get Our ^Latest Catalotfue— Free TTpon Be«iTi*Bt< 

HURST & CO., Publishers, NEW YOt^K 




Helen's 
Babies 

By 

John Habberton 

Interesting: ! 
Entertaining ! 
Amusing;! 



A BOOK with a famous reputation. It is safe to 
say that no book, illustrating the doings of child- 
ren, has ever been published that has reached the 
popularity enjoyed by " Helen's Babies." Brilliantly 
written, Habberton records in this volume some of the 
cutest, wittiest and most amusing of childish sayings, 
whims and pranks, all at the expense of a bachelor 
uncle. The book is elaborately illustrated, which 
greatly assists the reader in appreciating page by page, 
Habberton 's masterpiece. 
Published as follows : 

Popular Price Edition, Cloth, 60c.) Postpaid. 

Quarto Edition, ^ith Six Colored Plates, Cloth, 
$1.S5, Postpaid. 

We guarantee that you will not suffer from "the 
blues " after reading this book. 

Aahfor our complete eataloffue. Mailed upon request. 



HURST & CO.. Publishers. 395-399 Broadway, New York. 



« 




Mirthful Books TYorth Readhigr ! 

9eck's ^eoka 
of yiumer 

No author has achieved 
a greater national reputa- 
tion for books of genuine 
humor and mirth than George W. Peck, 
author of " Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa." 
We are fortunate to be able to offer, 
within everyone's reach, three of his latest 
books. The titles are 

Peck's Uncle Ike, Peck*s Sunbeams, 
Peck's Red-Headed Boy. 

CLOTH Binding, 60c., Postpaid. 
PAPER Binding, 30c., Postpaid. 

By failing to procure any one of these 
books you lose an opportunity to " laugh 
and grow fat." When you get one you 
will order the others. 

Send for our Illustrated Catalogue of Books. 
HURST & CO., Publishers, 395-399 Broadway, New York. 




.3* Elegant Gift Books J- 

Hurst's 

Presentation 

Series 



A Distinctive Coyer Design 
on Each Book 



A BEAUTIFUL series of Young People's Books to 
suit the tastes of the most fastidious. The pub- 
lishers consider themselves fortunate in being able to 
oflfer such a marvelous line of choice subjects, made up 
into attractive presentation volumes. Large type, fine 
heavy paper, numerous pictures in black, inserted with 
six lithographic reproductions in ten colors by eminent 
artists, bound in extra English cloth, with three ink and 
gold effects. 

Price, postpaid, $i.oo per volume. 



Alice in Wonderland and Through 

the Looking-Glass. 
Andersen's Fairy Tales. 
Arabian Nights. 
Black Beauty. 
Child's History of England. 
Grimm's Fairy Tales. 
Gulliver's Travels. 
Helen's Babies. 
Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. 



Mother Goose, Complete. 
Palmer Cox's Fairy Book. 
Peck's Uncle Ike and the Red- 
Headed Boy. 
Pilgrim's Progress. 
Robinson Crusoe. 
Swiss Family Robinson. 
Tales from Scott forYoung People. 
Tom Brown's School Days. 
Uncle Tom's Cabin. 



Books sure to be a delight to every boy and girl who 
becomes the proud possessor of any or all of them. 

Write for our Complete Catalogue. 

HURJT & CO.. Publishers, 395-399 Broadway, New York. 



♦ 



j^^ Books That Command a Latgfc Sale J'S> 



"Black %Ock \ftJtmry 

By Ralph Connor, Author of ' ' Sky Pilot, " Etc. 

Have you read it ? If not, by all means 
do so at once. We make the cheapest 
edition published by offering a cloth bound 
bftok at 30 cents, postpaid. 



Samantha at Saratoga 

By JosiAH Allen's Wife. 

It would be hard to correctly state the 
number of copies of this laughable book 
that have been sold, but it would reach 
into the millions. We propose to continue 
its popularity by making a low-priced cloth 
edition. Price, 30 cents, postpaid. 

WE MAIL CATALOGUES TO ANYONE 
UPON REQUEST. 

HUEST & CO., Pnlilisliers, 395-399 Broadway, New York. 



Calmer Cox's Bro%pnte 

tiDnR Illustrated by Palmer Cox 

Thousands who have paid $i.5o for 
Palmer Cox's Brownie Book never im- 
agined it would be issued at a popular 
price. We offer the same book in all 
respects for 30 cents, postpaid. 

Wee cMacgreegor 

A Scottish Story by J. J. Bell. 

One of England's best selling books to- 
day, where it is " all the rage." Thousands 
have been sold here at high prices, but 
with our facilities for cheap manufacturing, 
we can supply a dainty edition, bound in 
cloth, at 35 cents, postpaid. 

OBTAIN OUR COMPLETE CATALOGUE. 

mST & CO., PuMshers, 395-399 Broadway, New York. 



♦ 



/t Famous Serif s of Books now offered at a Third the Former Cost 



A very famous series 

<^ T nrr r~*aKi'n fr* °f books, that are now 

^^S ^^'^L'ill ^^ undergoing a remark- 

■^-jr^i . 1 J „ able revival, owing to 

White House the fact that heretofore, 

the prices asked have 
Qpi-ipc 4J^ 4M 4S been ridiculously high, 
^^:;i lt;:3 «^ «^ <^ and only the person of 

means could buy them ; 
now they are published in identically the same style at 
less than half the former cost. 

The author, William M. Thayer, is a famous bi- 
ographer, and writings from his pen have been sought 
and read with intense interest. We append below the 
titles of this celebrated line of books : 

From Boyhood to Manhood ; Life of Benjamin Franklin. 

From Farm House to White House : Life of George Washington. 

From Log Cabin to White House; Life of James A. Garfield. 

From Pioneer Home to White Hoi'se : Life of Abraham Lincoln. 

From Tannery to White House ; Life oi Ulysses S. Grant. 

Success and Its Achievers. 

Tact, Push and Principi-e. 

These titles, though by different authors, also belong 
to this series of books : 

From Cottage to Castlk ; The Story of Gutenberg, Inventor of 
Printing. By Mrs. E. C. Pearson. 

Capital for Workihg Boys. By Mrs. Julia E. M'Conaughy. 

Price, postpaid, for any of the above nine books, 
Fifty Cents. 

The lives of these famous Americans are worthy of 
a place in your library. Send us your order. 

Complete Catalo^u* of Books tnailed 
upon application. 

Hurst & Company, Publishers, 

395 "399 Broadway, New York. 



Dictionaries of the 
Foreign Languages 



The increased demand for good, low priced. Foreign 
Dictionaries, prompts the publishers to issue an up-to- 
date line of these books in German, French and 
Spanish, with the translation of each word into 
English, and vice versa. These lexicons are adaptable 
for use in schools, academies and colleges, and for all 
persons desirous of obtaining a correct knowledge of 
these languages. 

Durably bound in half leather, size 7x5^, fully illus- 
trated, we offer the following : 

OERMAN-ENGLISH Dictionary, Price, Postpaid, $1.00. 
FRENCH. ENGLISH " " ** $1.00. 

SPANISH-ENGLISH " " " $1.00. 

Or, the publishers will send all three, postpaid, 
upon receipt of VS. 50. 

T!:c same books, withont illustrations, bound in clotli, 

size 6x4i, are offered at 50c., postpaid, 

or, all three for $1.00. 

Our "new possessions" make it imperative that an 
understanding of these languages are a necessity, and 
these books will fill a long felt want. 

Write for our Complete Book Catalogrue. 

EMST & CO.. Publishers, 305-309 Broadway, New York. 



THIS popular novel writer 
has written a large 
number of successful 
books that have been widely 
circulated and are constantly 
in demand. We issue twenty 
of them as below ; 

Aikenside, 
Bad Hugh, 
Cousin Maude, 
Darkness and Daylight, 
Dora Deane, 
Edith Lyle's Secret, 
English Orphans, 
Ethelyn's Mistake, 
Family Pride, 
, Homestead on the Hillside, 
Leighton Homestead, 
Lena Rivers, 
Maggie Miller, 
Marian Grey, 
Mildred, 
Millbank, 
Miss McDonald 
Rector of St. Marks, 
Rose Mather, 
Tempest and Sunshine. 

Any of these books will be 
supplied, postpaid, in cloth 
binding, at 30c. In paper 
binding, 15 c. 

Obtain our latest complete 
catalogue. 



HURST & CO., "Puhtishers, 
395-399 Broadway, New York. 



VVF.BbTKR'S 



Dictionaries of 
the English 
Language 



A DICTIONARY is a book of reference ; a book 
that is constantly looked into for information on 
various meanings and pronunciations of the several 
thousand words of our language. The publishers, 
recognizing the importance of placing before the public 
a book that will suit all pocket-books and come within 
the reach of all, have issued several editions of Dic- 
tionaries in various styles and sizes, as follows : 



Peabody's Webster Dictionary, - - - 20c. 
Hiirsi's Webster Dictionary, - - - - 25c. 
American Popular Dictionary, - - - 35c. 
American Diamond Dictionary, (K^r^"ic^) *^t^- 
Hiiwst's New Nuttall, 75c. With Index, $1.00. 
Webster's Quarto Dictionary, Cloth, - $1.25. 

" " " }i Russia, $1.75. 

" " " Full Sheep, $2.25. 



Any of the above will be mailed, postpaid, at the 
prices named. 

Send for our complete catalogue of books. 
HURST & CO., Publishers, 395-399 Broadway, New York. 



Oliver Optic Books 

/ryi^ tjfyVi C ^^^w boys are alive 
*^ to- day who have not 
read some of the writinos of this famous 
author, whose books are scattered broad- 
cast and eai^erly sought for. Oliver Optic 
has the faculty of writing books full of dash 
and energy, such as healthy boys want and 
need, yet free from any objectionable dime- 
novel sensationalism. 

The following titles are published by us : 

ALL ABOAFtD ; or. Life on tlio Lake. 

NOW OR NEVER; or. The Adventures of Bobby 
Bright, 

TRY AGAIN; or. The Trials and Triumphs of 
Harry "West. 

THE BOAT CLUB ; or. The Bunkers of Rippleton. 

POOR AND PROTJD ; or. The Fortunes of Katy 
Redbum. 

LITTLE BY LITTLE ; or. The Cruise of the Flya- 
way. 

Any of these books will be mailed, post- 
paid, upon receipt of Fifty Cents. 

Drop us a postal card for our 
Complete Catalogue. 

HMST & CO., Pnblisliers, 395-399 Broadway, NewYort 



.^SOUTHERN REGIONAL UBRAHY FAOUIY 



A 000 128 237 5